Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Horse Show

Years ago Grace used to skate at the International Skating Center in Simsbury, Connecticut.  She was a good little skater.  Determined.  Fearless.  Strong.  Her happy place was on the ice.  Simsbury is about 80 minutes from my house and we during shows or during competition preparation we were commuting up to 4 days a week.  It was hard, especially on her sister.  It was also hard on Grace.  She missed Greg desperately.  She missed her Dad enough to give up a sport she loved with her whole being.  It was then that Greg and I decided that no sport will take the place of family togetherness.  To us, no sport is worth dividing up a family, taking up weekends, negatively affecting the family budget, and giving one child a seemingly disproportionate amount of time and attention.  This is why we passed on soccer, even though Grace really wanted to play.  This is why Grace passed on trying out for travel basketball and swim team, even though she would make a team.  These sports are seasonal, unlike skating that was year-round but still, weekend time is family time.  It is sacred in our family.

Horseback riding is perfect for us.  It takes up one afternoon, possibly two here and there.  Already we have made the choice that we will not lease a horse and we will not do competition after competition.  She is riding for the pure pleasure of being on a horse.  Like when she was stepping onto the ice, there is something about her that comes alive when Grace steps into the barn.  

Lilah does not share the same passion for athletics as Grace and sometimes struggles with putting aside her projects for the trip to the farm, but once she is there, she lights up sitting on her horse Logan.

When the girls were asked if they wanted to participate in a local horse show, Lilah passed and Grace accepted.  We gave her an extra lesson to prepare, bought her jacket and her Gram loaned her a white button down shirt.  The farm lets the girls ride the horse they ride in lessons, which is wonderful, since otherwise she could not compete.  

Grace rode in three beginner class events; all pleasure class.  The field of riders was around 10 in each class.  She took third and fourth in two of the three classes, an accomplishment for her first show. 

Riding reminds me of skating in many ways.  Because it is an individual sport, you are competing against girls who have invested more time and more money into perfecting their skills and their horse's showmanship.  Many of the girls she was riding with own horses.  The live in the country, we live in the city.  They can ride before and after school, we can ride once or twice a week.  They have invested thousands into their animal and their sport, we choose not to.  That said, this is such a wonderful sport/activity for my girls and worth every penny we have spent.  The confidence the girls demonstrate while in control of a huge animal amazes me.  The physical and emotional energy expended in a lesson can be exhausting.  The multi-step directions and the multitudes of things to remember while riding is a great mental workout for the girls.  Their trainer does not rush them to do things they are not ready to do, and puts the best interest of her horses first.  She chooses horses that fit with riders, even if it means that girls can be disappointed at times.  

I look forward to Tuesdays as much as the girls.  Barn time is good for the soul.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Social Justice

One of our electives this fall is Social Justice.  We are using the 6 part series titled Seeking Social Justice produced by the Heritage Foundation and offered free by Compass Classroom.  
Social justice is "justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society".
Social justice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last time I checked The United States of America is NOT a socialist country, even though we are moving steadily in that direction.  Social justice is NOT the distribution of resources in the hopes of achieving equality and therefore a “just” society.  This is NOT the definition I want my girls to internalize when they go out into the world.  Seeking Social Justice has helped us to create our own family definition of social Justice:

Social Justice is identifying a need in the community and devoting one’s available time, money and resources to affect a lasting change in the identified community.  It is not forced, but offered of free will.  It is not a mandate, but rather a commitment to walking in the path of Jesus Christ. 
                                                     ~our family definition 
The first part of Seeking Social Justice identifies that most people in need are in need because of a breakdown in relationships in their lives and the resulting attempt to fill their need with people/substances that cannot produce a positive outcome.  

The remaining episodes address each one of the relationships:
  • Rethinking Social Justice | Trevecca Nazarene University (Intro)
  • Cultivating Justice from the Ground Up | HIS Bridgebuilders (Marriage)
  • Serving the Whole Person | Leesburg Baptist Church (Church)
  • Restoring Dignity and Purpose | Men of Valor Prison Ministry (Work)
  • Maintaining the Social Conditions for Justice | Shyima's Story (Government)
  • Breaking Ground | Summary (Individuals)

We have watched the first three episodes.  They can take us anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on how much discussion and explanation is necessary for the girls to  ask their questions and come to their own understanding.  A half credit is 60 hours so this alone will not fulfill a credit or half credit.  When I think of subjects I like to look at what the girls are already doing, interested in and think of how we can expand on it, explode it really, and dig deep into the understanding behind it.  

Our family has participated in monthly dinners at a local homeless shelter for a few years.  We serve once or twice a year but have never been responsible for coordinating a dinner.  Through our church, a need was identified: serving the homeless a warm, homemade meal.   That sounds a lot like our definition of social justice.  But how could our family affect lasting change?

Serving one dinner, once a month may not make a life changing impact on the residents.  However, serving a dinner once a month in conjunction with several other churches and civic organization who are also serving one dinner a month, allows the agency that runs the shelter to operate.  It allows them to continue to make an impact in the lives of the residents by connecting them with resources to help overcome the damaged relationships in their lives and begin to replace the things they have sought out, specifically drugs and alcohol with new beginnings, new relationships and new opportunities.  

Here is where we can take our at home learning and connect it to life.  What we learn on these episodes plays out before us when we are at the shelter.  We spoke to a young man, younger than us, who have had a marriage collapse and because he used money as a vehicle for happiness, he lost everything.    There is no more powerful experience than to take your knowledge and understanding and apply it to life and see if what you thought you knew is really in fact true.  It is for this reason that these videos are one of my favorite curriculum elements this year.

When I offered our family to host this month’s dinner, I had hoped it would be another experience that stayed with us.  This was the first time I was responsible for the meal planning, the cooking, the serving and the coordinating with the shelter staff.  Up until now we had always accompanied other families who had more experience with this ministry.  My sister in law joined us and together we cooked sloppy joes, macaroni & cheese which was served with watermelon and lots of desserts.  We estimate about 25 people were served.  

Prior to this dinner Lilah and her friends gathered at our house to create bookmarks made from card stock paper they painted, cut, decorated and wrote on.  Since all the girls are Catholic, they were all very comfortable writing scripture on the cards.  I sealed the bookmarks with Mod Podge and they were given freely.  To see a resident accept a meal and choose a bookmark and exclaim “I am worthy!” is a powerful experience.  Hopefully we have a small part in filling a person’s spirit with the positive affirmation of God’s love for us.

This dinner took 6 credit hours.  3 for the actual dinner, 2 for baking and 1 for bookmark creation.  So far we have 7.5 hours towards 60 required for a half credit.  But more importantly, far more important than the “credit” is the understanding that they will carry with them for a lifetime.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Week of September 22nd

When I read Blake Bowle’s Better Than College and the book Do Hard Things, I realized that high school at home should be more than randomly picking subjects and working through textbooks.  If we are going to opt out the benefits of schooling, then we need to make sure we are taking time to appreciate the amazing things that homeschooling teens has to offer.
Up until now there has not been much that my girls could attribute solely to homeschooling.  The could still ride horses after school, could participate in craft shows,  have music lessons, book clubs and writing groups.  They just could not do these things on the same day.  Homeschooling allows for 90 minutes of music lessons on the same day as 90 minutes of horseback riding, whereas these would have to be spread out to two days for a typically schooled student.
One thing Grace certainly could not do if in public school is work the morning shift at the kennel.  She works from 7:30 or 8:00am until 11:00am then comes home and fits in her lessons then scoots off to book club or the farmer’s market or she may choose to watch a dog documentary or work on her kennel photo album.  I truly hope she is enjoying the start to her “freshman” year.
As for Lilah, that child can craft for hours.  She is a self taught crocheter and is reading book after book.  So many books, in fact, that I stopped trying to record them all.  I don’t worry about listing her pleasure reads, just her book club books and the classics we are reading.  I know she could not read as much as she does if she was bogged down with homework after school and on the weekends.

Mon/Tues/lecture on Wednesday
Lilah got on 92 on her first Teaching Textbooks Chapter 1 quiz!  Way to go Lilah!!
Social Justice
Completed video #3 (Church)  Lilah connected this video to our work at Prospect House which is perfect since our family prepared and served dinner for approx. 25 people at local homeless residential shelter. Lilah baked cake pops and cupcakes for dessert. Distributed hand painted, hand written scripture bookmarks to residents.

I will write more about this but in my last Bible study our Priest referenced social justice in the Bible and basically summarized everything in the first video we watched.  This is the second strong connection between Bible study and our homeschool and I spoke to him privately about this after the class.  This is the second week I got goosebumps when life and learning have overlapped spiritually.
Language Arts
Watched The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Saturday night with Aunt Kris.  Kris has partnered with the girls and is reading the classics alongside them so that she can discuss the characters and plot with them.   

We began Alice in Wonderland this week.  Each girl did an art journal page in their notebook of many of the famous quotations from this book.  They are each very unique and very beautiful.

Lilah finished up her personal reading, the classic Rabbit Hill. She also finished book club book, Marley: A Dog Like No Other and she completed her lapbook for TLTW&TW.  It feels good to complete projects!  

BOOK CLUB began after a month hiatus.  One girl left the group and three girls joined.  Our new selection is: Summer of the Gypsy Moths (Thanks Jamie!).  I began it already and just love it.  So much here to discuss with young girls.

Physical Education
I count their hunt seat riding lessons as their official Physical Education.  Lee Binz stated in her webinar that a high school sport is equivalent to one credit and the time and effort Grace (and Lilah) put into their lessons are equivalent since riding is year-round, not seasonal.  Grace competed in her first show, entered in three events and won a third and fourth place ribbon in two events (out of a field of between 10-12 riders)!  We also had our weekly lessons.
Both girls had dentist appointments.  Watched the American Girl episode of Project Runway. Biked to the local farmer’s market for fresh honey and apple cider. Met friends at Starbucks for a latte before Pottery Class.  PICKED UP CROSBY!!!!
In addition to weekly piano lessons, Grace began working again with the Music Director from our church, who has been teaching her chords and the parts of the mass.
Completed notebook pages for chapter 2. Copied maps of the early cities of Sumer and where the resources were imported to build the cities.

Clockwise:  Map of Sumer, Lilah's duct tape bag contest entry, Writer's Workshop, CROSBY!, practicing ASL with a friend, book club, dinner at homeless shelter, Alice in Wonderland, horse show.


14 Things About Grace on her 14th Birthday

This girl loves life.  She is not one to sit and let it pass her by.  I love that about her.  I love that she inspires me to join in more and not always be the one behind the scenes taking pictures, although I know that if I don’t she will move too fast and I want to remember the moments of this child’s life.  All of them.

Dogs and cats and horses, oh my!  She loves them all.  

Things tend to come easily to her and her personal struggle is sticking with the things that don’t.  
Her dream is to own a Steinway Grand.  For now she will settle on playing one at every available opportunity.

She is a worker.  Of all the things we’ve given our daughters, we have tried hardest to give them the value of work.  Her Dad and I are so proud that she put in over 70 hours of volunteering at her workplace and was offered her first paying job at 14.  

She is a good friend. 

She dreams of being Gabby Douglas and her 5’9” frame can frustrate her.  Those legs just weren’t made for flipping.  But oh boy can she ride!
She has made it a goal to be fluent in American Sign Language and just had her first real conversation with a Deaf signer.  I wish I could have seen her but the look of pride on her face was enough.
Family is first, always.  In this world of overscheduled kids and families, she hates to give up family time for other things.  I love that she still wants to hang out with her Dad and they still have their Saturday morning routine and that she has to be encouraged to let go of that sometimes to gain time with friends she is not able to see during the week.
Her energy is contagious.  

She cares not a lick for hair, makeup, fashion or boys.  To her own self she is true.
She stole my favorite Tim Tebow tee shirt and wears it all.the.time!  To get back, I stole her favorite Pink sweatpants!  
Her smile can light up a room.
There are times, very far and few between now, when I can still see toddler Grace  in her facial expressions and it makes my heart melt.
Happy 14th Birthday Gracie.  You are very loved.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekly Summary : September 15-19th

I love the summary of our weeks.  This week I added a LIFE section because we are trying to cram so much into into our weeks before the puppy comes.  Dentists, eye exams, orthodontists, etc.  These things are all necessary and compete for our project time and lesson time.  Normally this would leave me frazzled but I am not, surprisingly.  I am tired, but not scattered.  I credit this to the divine tea I discovered at the Herbal Apothecary on Cape Cod called Nervine Divine.  I plan to order more soon!


Social Justice (elective)
Watched video #2 (Family) in Seeking Social Justice Series with discussion
Completed Bookmarks
Baked dessert for dinner
Grace finished video series for Week #5 (Meteorology)
Lilah created paper mache globe to illustrate why we have seasons
Horseback Riding
Lilah - one lesson
Grace - two lessons plus 2 hours spent at farm preparing horses for upcoming horse show. Had a lesson in the care of a horse when her horse had a muscular problem in her hind leg.
Chapter 3, created notebook pages for chapters, 2 and 3.
Language Arts
Writing Group, Finished The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe!  Worked on the accompanying lapbook (Grace completed, Lilah is still working away)  Spent time during the week on their story for writing group.  Added several quotes to their journal (Patricia Polacco and Theodore Roosevelt) and added biographies to their book of centuries. Selected next classic read: Alice in Wonderland. Really looking forward to what we can do with this book!  Asked the girls to “Go Big or Go Home” when thinking of a project for this book!
Grace officially became a new hire at the kennel after putting in 73 hours as a volunteer over the summer.  Her boss gave her sage advice in learning to manage money and the importance of saving and living close to debt free.  
Figured out how to work the dvd that came with the textbook.  Reviewed first 5 chapters for Thursday’s class.  While girls are at ASL class, I attended my first Bible Study at our church.
Personal Finance (elective)
Received Dave Ramsey’s Generation Change Lesson: BE and accompanying parent and student workbook.  Need to discuss with Greg finding a time that we can begin this curriculum as a family.  It may be something we do during the day and he reviews/discusses with them on the weekend.
Biked up to Main Street to attend the farmer’s market. Attended meeting at church to discuss concerns about religious education classes. Reinstalled cable after a 2 year break.  Prepared for puppy.   Lilah had an eye exam. I had an orthodontist appointment. Met with friend to help her begin her own writing group with younger children.

Lilah spent a week making a paper mache globe for Science Shepherd

Extra time was spent at the barn preparing for the horse show.

Writer's Workshop

Friday, September 19, 2014

Writing Group Lesson: For The Love of Words

Our writing group is off to a great start.  We are three weeks in to our six week session and my hope is that the girls will want to continue.  I have had some requests on Instagram to share our lessons.  
Supplies: journal, internet access, Sharpie marker, crayons, writing utensils
Skype and Artforkidshub

I rely heavily on technology in our workshop.  We have two girls join us via internet from New York and Alabama.  Next week we will move away from Skype and Facetime to Google Hangout and my hope is that other girls will be able to join in since Google Hangout can accomodate 10 guests.   This week we used one of my favorite drawing tutorial sites www.artforkidshub.com .  The girls drew the Scarecrow using Sharpie and crayons.

While the girls were working on their coloring, we began to pass around a story.  I began the story using the scarecrow as the theme and passed it to the girl next to me.  She wrote a sentence, folded down mine and passed it on so that only her sentence showed.  This went on and on around the table.  I read the cumulated sentences and we laughed at the course the tale took.  This is like playing telephone with writing.  
Grace is writing down K's addition to the writing "game".

When the drawings and stories  were complete, I introduced a website I discovered mentioned in the eBook we are using, Writer’s Workshop Step by Step: www.phrontistery.info which contains loads of unusual and rarely used words.  Some girls listed words they want to remember and incorporate into their writing and others like Grace and Lilah chose to make a word splash.  

I was truly shocked at how engrossed the girls became in the website. Normally we leave at least 30 minutes for writing but this website was a catalyst for great conversation.  **Parents need to be aware just like a dictionary, this site has words that may be inappropriate for younger writers.  We bypassed independent writing time and focused our whole session on the love of words.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Crosby Update

We are just about a week away from bringing a puppy home and I would be lying if I said I was not a little bit nervous.  Every dog we have had up to this point was taken in from either a rescue (like the Greyhound we adopted directly from the racing track) or from families that could not or did not want to care for them anymore (Jake and Daphne).  We have never had a puppy.  
I hope we have done all the right things.  I read The Monks of New Skete’s book: The Art of Raising A Puppy.  Grace has read countless books and has benefitted from mini-lessons on what to do from her boss at the kennel.  We are puppy proofing.  We are clearing out the back kennel area so he has a designated bathroom spot (Daph stopped using this area ages ago when she decided she preferred the feel of grass to the kennel decking).  We still have to get his food, return the crate we bought for a larger one, and finish puppy proofing.  Our puppy obedience class is scheduled to begin the week after he comes home.
This feeling of nervous anticipation is similar to that of late pregnancy.  Even though I feel prepared I know I am not going to be prepared for the actual work involved in caring for an 8 week old dog.  I don’t relish the idea of getting up in the middle of the night, or waking up at 5:30 to be up when Greg leaves for work.  I already drag myself out of bed at 6:00am to get the day started.  Now there will be a morning and an afternoon walk added to my day (or the girl’s days).  The girls will learn some harsh lessons about leaving things on the ground, like they did when Jake ate up several Barbie limbs.  I pray there is no furniture chewing and I pray there is not too much indoor piddling.  This dog will be one more thing that beckons for my constant time and attention.
Despite this, I am excited.  Really excited.  This dog came to us not as the result of children begging and pleading, giving me their own versions of puppy dog eyes.  The girls accepted my previous thinking that after Jake passed and left us wrecked with grief, we would let Daphne live out her days as an only dog.  This was my undertaking.  I missed the companionship of a large dog.  I missed the comfort of his protection.  I missed the goofy playmate.  I missed my girls having a canine best friend.  I missed the romps in the yard and the big nose pressed up against the window welcoming us home.  I missed the big bark signaling the arrival of Greg from the train.  I missed the soft paws sneaking up the stairs on Saturday to wake us up.  I missed saying “Get Grace up” and watching him fly upstairs to pounce on her bed.  I missed my girls snuggling on the couch.  I missed their faces filled with love.  I missed that shove or nudge that always came just when you needed it most.  

We are almost ready to welcome Crosby home.  We have spent the last 8 weeks wondering what he would look like, act like, feel like, smell like, play like and love like.  It is almost time to find out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Projects Need Time

I am on a few Facebook groups for homeschooling high school and project based learning and as I browse through comments and links it seems that there is this notion that every project has to be BIG.  The big projects can be fun and they can be super impressive, but I find that the little projects are the ones that make an impact on our learning.
This fall I intentionally pared down our curriculum to two electives (Social Justice and Personal Finance) and kept our basic core (math, science, history, language arts) to allow us time to dig deep.  We are sticking to our one subject a day (in addition to math) and when the girls feel like they want to create something that ties into the subject at hand, I am doing my best to say yes.

For example, they are working on week #5 of Science Shephard: Meteorology, which seems like it should be a no-brainer in this house.  But Lilah really never realized the reason for seasons (the Earth’s tilt and it rotation around the sun).  After we watched the video explanation of this, I asked her if she wanted to do the paper mache project she has been talking about; making a globe.  I asked her to put an axis on it and the equator.  Suddenly science was F-U-N!  

This was done outside and the mess stayed outside.  The globe was set to dry in the sun.  It will take an entire day to dry.  Painting cannot be done the same day which means that we will not get an entire week’s worth of science lessons done in one day and this is okay.  I have to remind myself sometimes that it is quality over quantity.  I want her to understand this concept, not just check off the box for the week.  So we will wait for the paste to dry and she will spray it with my sealer to harden it a bit more and then she will paint.  It takes time to complete a project.  Time I have to allow for.

My mantra this year is NO UNFINISHED PROJECTS!  Last year many things were started but only a few were completed.  This year that will not happen.  Right now we are working on several “projects”
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Lapbook/Notebook
Lilah’s globe
Grace’s ongoing dog project (which is deserving of it’s own post)
Finishing up loose ends for our dinner at the homeless shelter.
Our quotation journals
Those are five big things.  It would be very easy to push aside the notebook since the girls are not that into it.  But this is one of those things that I would like to see completed, as it is their summary of the book and something I think they would like to look back upon.  The best projects are those you do not have to remind them about (like Grace’s dog book, or Lilah’s globe) but there are still some those that start strong (like the lapbook) but then fade in intensity.  The key is making them fun again to finish strong.  Sometimes that can mean we take our work out of the house to the library or to Starbucks and sometimes it means work when inspiration strikes, possibly at the expense of time spent on another content area. 

I am curious to see where project based learning takes us this year.  We have been moving in this direction all along but this year I finally feel like I have the confidence in myself and in our homeschool to let them go and explore and pursue their interests.  It helps maintain the balance that I need between my curriculum requirements and theirs.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: September 8th - How we are learning

Hours were spent making a fabric covered bulletin board.

Five years into this I now that if I push books and workbooks and rote memorization, the girls may do it for me, but it would be for me, not for them.  They need to strike a balance between what I need and what they need.  They gravitate towards project based learning.  Lilah always has and as Grace ages, she too, is taking a liking to it.  

Knitting while the girls are in pottery class with friends.  

One of the first things that people say about homeschooling is how much time their kids have to pursue friendship and interests and I have even said that once or twice when my kids were younger. Now that they are in middle school and high school, there is no surplus of extra time.  Our days are full.  Grace works two or three days a week and Lilah can fill two hours with crafting easily.  So we have to be intentional with our time. Which brings me back to the delicate dance of maintaining balance.  

Recommend this if you have the opportunity to see a screening.  

We do one main subject a week. Monday it was science.  We did a week’s worth of lessons in one day.  Tuesday we agreed that we would listen to history in the car on the way to and from riding lessons instead of our audiobook, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  Wednesday we focus on writing and so on.  Math is done consistently.  We are doing math 3 or 4 days a week and it is going very well, or it will be once we get through double negatives.  Sometimes we work at night, like when we watched the first part of a social justice series (see below).  And sometimes we tie in what we do to the subject it fits best (the Two Coyotes movie event fit perfectly into our social justice elective). I don’t have many pictures of the work being accomplished so here is a little graphic of what we accomplished:
three lessons this week
completed week #3 and workbook (Earth Science - Meteorology) 
social justice (elective)
watched #1 of 6 parts: Seeking Social Justice by The Heritage Foundation, provided free of charge by Compass Classroom.

Attended the screening of Project Wild Thing hosted by Two Coyotes Wilderness School.  We agreed that social justice is identifying a need in a certain community and using your time and talents to affect a lasting change. This documentary was about affecting change in the lives of children and making nature as appealing as technology, thus increasing true happiness in his community.  
Grace worked on her dog project.  Lilah worked on her story from writing group.  Week #2 of writing group.  Completed a notebook page for Book of Centuries.
completed chapter 2.  We need to add additional chapters to our week given the length of our text.  My goal is 2 chapters a week, not one with a notebook page for each chapter.
Quote Project
On going.  One of my favorite projects of our new year.  Found a book my father gave me years and years ago:The Best of Success: A Treasury of Success Ideas compiled by Wynn Davis.  It is a treasure trove of wonderful quotations.  
Week #2 was interesting.  Lilah loves it and Grace is warming up to a full immersion class.  There is another homeschooled girl who is also in their pottery class and writing group.  They look forward to these opportunities to interact. They have already covered several chapters of their text and now need to incorporate daily practice time.
The girls are preparing for a field trip with their music teacher to the Steinway Studio where they will be allowed to play an excerpt of a piece on multiple pianos to learn to assess the sound quality.  The visit will end with the opportunity to play one piece on the 9’ Concert Grand.  They are beyond excited and both are working on polishing a piece to play.
Horseback Riding
Preparations are underway for Grace’s first horse show on the 21st. This week she had her first lesson as if she were in the show.  She will compete in beginners walk and trot. This upcoming week will have lots of activity with three riding lessons and time spent at the farm preparing the horses for competition.

Grace's favorite dogs from work.  She works on her project every day.  More to come on this!

Happy Birthday Mail from Keilee!

A massive 5 alarm factory fire near us.  Thankfully no lives were lost and given the scope of this fire, only a few houses were destroyed.  A horrible reminder on 9/11 how heroic first responders truly are.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Taking a Break from CNN

Even though we say the world is our classroom, right now this statement may not be a positive thing.  We have enjoyed CNN Student News but with beheadings, upgraded terror levels in the UK and the 9/11 anniversary, I made the executive decision to suspend our watching for a while.  
I did not cover current events until I was a senior in high school.  It was a senior-only seminar class and I enjoyed it.  There is a big difference between a 17 year old being able to absorb and understand the events taking place around the world and a 12 year old; especially a 12 year old whose father works in Manhattan and whose Grandmother and Uncle were in NYC on 9/11/01.
This may be seen as overprotective, isolating, and sticking my head in the sand, and I accept these criticisms that are often placed on families that control how much or how little information is presented to their children.  I’ll take that over a child who is anxious about her Dad going to work.
Our schedules are always shifting to accommodate our needs and honestly right now I prefer not beginning our day with the woes of the world.  I choose instead to focus on peace and love and joy and find as many examples of those things as possible to show my girls that despite what is happening now, there are good people, loving people, caring and kind people who are using their lives to make the world a better place.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

First Full Week: Weekly Wrap Up #2 2014-2015

One of my favorite things we have incorporated into our day is our daily quote.  Not only does it teach us a bit about contemporary history (so far my girls have learned who Audrey Heburn, Erma Bombeck, and Maya Angelo were and that William Penn came from England and that Wayne Gretsky played in the NHL for 20 years) but they are also learning how to dig deeper into a statement and reflect on it and respond to it. 

Over the years I have been hesitant to share too much about what our curriculum is because until you are about a week or so into it, you never know what you will keep and what you will throw out and replace. This year I did purchase one set of materials that I do not like at all and will be selling in order to recoup some of the purchase price.  My other purchases, like Teaching Textbooks for Lilah were hits.  Grace has picked up her study of algebra through TT and even came down one morning at 6:15 to get it done. 

One thing we have thrown out is my brilliant plan for a study of contemporary fiction set in NYC with the walking tour of each book.  I still love this idea and hope that we can come back to it but Grace really has no interest in contemporary young adult fiction.  I can force it and squelch the desire to read altogether, or I can shift focus and lead us in a new direction.  Our new direction is to explore some of the classics we have never read.  First up: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  We are almost done with the book and will begin a combination lapbook/notebook as our “final project”.  We are already beginning some of the artwork for this project. 

Wednesday was a hot day with temperatures in the mid 80s.  We ended our day at the beach with friends.  Last year many of these families attended Beacon in New Haven with Grace so we were able to see them weekly.  This year they are all taking part in a new program that is a blend of traditional classes and online studies being offered by a homeschooling family.  This is not a good fit for us and we are not taking part.  Sadly, this means we won’t be seeing as much of this group of friends.  So while I was not 100% up for a night at the beach and would rather have spent a quiet night at home, we trekked to the beach and God gave me a beautiful display of colors to admire. 

In order to keep in touch with friends with whom we do not share classes, it is vital that parents organize activities and set aside time.  This is equally as important as academic studies.  Teens need time away from parents and time with peers and since they are not in school, and not able to drive, they need our help and our commitment to make this happen.  I organized a trail ride with two of our friends.  The beauty of how we learn is this will count towards the girls’ PE credit.  This year I have redesigned my binder system and will be posting more about that soon!

Thursday also was the start of ASL II, an immersion class with a Deaf teacher.  I am beyond excited for the learning opportunities that this class has in store.  It is two hours long and their girls' brains literally hurt when they walked out into the warm salty air.  It was one of the first times their brains actually hurt from active learning.  

Friday rounded out our week with a return to writing group.  I was not sure this would happen.  I contemplated throwing in the towel and declaring it done.  After all, all our members moved away and it was hard to find enthusiasm in starting over again.  The draw of meeting four new girls in the same age range as mine was enough to pull me back in.  Around my table sat 4 teens (or soon to be teens) and two others were there thanks to the wonder of technology.  Our friend Keilee joined us via Facetime and our friend Katya joined via Skype.  The 90 minutes we spent talking, writing, sharing and eating was more than I anticipated.  There was no first meeting awkwardness, no shyness, and no hesitation to writing or sharing.  There were smiles, laughter, suggestions, and words of encouragement.  One of our new members is also a student in the girls’ ASL class AND their upcoming pottery class!  

Weekly Wrap-Up

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...