Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bloggy Moms Blog Hop

Bloggy Moms is Having a Blog Hop.  I can't wait o find some time to look at all these blog. I have been very absent these last few weeks. I will explain in a later post. I'll be back soon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 11/8 to 11/12

Me ~ Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Finished Shiloh Season & Started Percy Jackson ~ The Sea of Monsters
Morning Read Aloud ~ Finished The Silver Chair & Started The Last Battle

Learning & Living at Home ~
Lots of reading and math games this week. La finished one book and is halfway through another. This is amazing to me considering that she only started reading beyond “cat, mat, sat” a little over a year ago. When it clicks, it clicks!

The math games are really helping La get her facts down. One game we play involves adding and subtracting negative numbers. She uses a number line, but is really getting this concept down! It’s funny because I never intended to teach this. It makes me wonder what other things she is learning incidentally. You just can’t stop kids from learning! Why would you want to?

We are enjoying The Last Battle. So, far it is a pretty dark book for the Narnia Series. It is reminding me of thing going on on our society today.

I tried my hand at making fabric flowers. My sister in law directed me to some  great tutorials at Snazzie Drawers. This is my first attempt. If I can get good at it & faster, I am going to open a shop on

Out & About ~
Our Firefly Corps meeting was on Monday. It was our first meeting on Israel. We learned about kosher food, Hanukkah, and the Uzi submachine gun (which was invented by an Israeli man).  Lots of fun & matzo ball soup!

My Journey ~
This week we I had my book club meeting on Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto.  It was a great discussion. It made me think about what a real education is and question all my assumptions. I hope to write about that soon. Now we are reading Pride & Prejudice for our December meeting. I have been looking forward to a novel! I am enjoying it so far.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review - Weapons of Mass Instruction

What It’s All About

I was very excited to read this book as I enjoyed the authors other book, Dumbing Us Down.  I was not disappointed. As with Dumbing Us Down, this book is more like a collection of essays. Each chapter can stand alone or be read together. Occasionally JTG (John Taylor Gatto) does reference previous chapters, but not to the extent that chapters cannot be read independently. As I read I discovered some central themes running through most chapters.
  • The belief (with evidence to back it up) that the public school system is purposely designed to retard human potential.
  • The idea of school extending childhood into teens, 20’s & beyond.
  • The idea of open source learning as the best option. In a nutshell this is the idea that education can come from a variety of unlimited sources.
  • The value of dialectic reasoning & how it has vanished from our schools.
  • Schooling & education are mutually exclusive

There are many others but these stand out in my memory.

What I Liked

This book got my questioning all my assumptions about education. Which is the essence of dialectic reasoning. I realized that I am still affected by my own school experience & it has an influence our home education. I am now thinking about what a true education is and realizing it has nothing to do with knowledge base and everything to do with knowing who you are and being able to use your brain! 

This book, unlike Dumbing Us Down, uses evidence and facts, that can easily be verified on the internet, to support his conclusions. Now I know about the documents and evidence that support his experience with the dumbing agenda of schools. I can reference these and speak intelligently on the topic.

The aspect of this book I enjoyed the most is stories of those who did not fit into school, devised their own plan and achieved success.  Many of these stories showcase very young people, as young as nine, doing what we would call adult things. They are making a contribution to their families & communities. This has got me thinking about how to incorporate this aspect into our lives.

What I Didn’t Like

I did feel some of the book was rather self-indulgent. One chapter is a letter to his granddaughter, but it reads like it is for the book, not written by a grandpa giving advise.  Also, as much as I enjoyed the stories of success without school, some of them where undeveloped or depicted immoral behavior. One example is the 16 year old girl who sailed around the world alone without any sailing experience. He tells the story in a paragraph and you are left wondering ~ How did this girl get food & supplies in the 2 years she was out there completely alone? Another example is the pornography website owner & stripper who dropped out of high school and wrote the script for the movie Juno that won her an academy award. It seemed as though he was condoning her involvement in the sex industry because it contributed to her success.

Lastly, I feel JTG can be a little too extreme. As if there is no hope for kids in school. I think that is a little extreme. While I do agree that schools have an outright agenda to stifle creativity and personal growth, I also believe that the human spirit is too strong in some to be quenched. After all, I was the kind of kid who did well in school and liked most of it, yet here I am a free thinking, always questioning, homeschooling libertarian. Explain that. I cannot.

The Bottom Line  -  My rating - ★★★★☆

This is a great read for everyone. There is enough information and examples to make the most committed standardized schooling believer think twice.  I think it is a must read for all parents. The problem with books like this is that it will not be read by books those who need to read it. As a homeschooler, you will find it encouraging and affirming. You may find yourself making a pledge to NEVER send your kids to school!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 11/1 to 11/5

Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction & Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Shiloh Season
Morning Read Aloud ~ The Silver Chair

Learning & Living at Home ~
Poetry & Projects
This week we spent a lot of time reading poetry.  La always says she doesn’t like poetry which I thought was due to her lack of exposure to it. I was right. I took several books out of the library on poetry. I checked out a large variety ~ silly kids poems, Robert Frost & Edgar Allan Poe to name a few. La really liked Edgar Allan Poe!  This interest is probably because of due Halloween. The Poe book had a small biography which gave us a chance to talk about his alcoholism & how that effected his poetry. It’s amazing how insightful a 9 year old can be! Now she wants me to read her The Pit & the Pendulum & The Cask of Amontillado! I think she needs to wait a few years for those!

We also did a few projects. I had bought some flannel to make La some jammy pants. When we went to start the project, I discovered I didn’t buy enough! So we made a pillow case instead.

Isn't this the cutest flannel!

La also made & designed a cat toy. The cats loved that!

We learned about Nov. 5th being Guy Fawkes Day in Britain.  We talked about whether the men in the Gun Powder Plot were traitors or freedom fighters.  It’s a good topic for discussion! I highly recommend the movie V for Vendetta for adults & youth on the topic of tyranny & freedom. (Warning - it’s very comic book style violent, but great themes.)

Out & About ~
This past weekend was Halloween! La was a Zombie. We had 3 little girls ages 4,6 & 8 spend the weekend with us! It was a lot of fun & a great learning experience for my only child! :-)

Firefly Corps met on Monday. It was our second meeting on India. The girls presented on Indian food, Henna & traditional dress.  This club is something we look forward to with great anticipation!

My Journey ~
I have been reading Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto.  It is really challenging my assumptions about education! He relates all these biographies of people who were out in the world contributing to their families & community at very young ages. It has made me think about whether or not we are living in a homeschool bubble & how to get out of the bubble!  I am considering adding a lot more community service type activities to our lives. I am not sure the final form of this yet. My book club meeting for this book is Tuesday. I can’t wait to discuss it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Freedom Vs. Complusion in Education

I have been evaluating how I REALLY feel about freedom & the use of compulsion in education & life in general. A few weeks ago I read “The Leadership Education Continuum” by Diann Jeppson & Jodie Palmer (in the appendix of Leadership Education:The Phases of Learning by Oliver & Rachel DeMille) and and listened to the free workshop you can download at Leadership Education Family Builder.

This really got the thinking! This continuum is a cyclical diagram that shows how the stages, 7 keys & 5 environments of Leadership Education all work together.  I cannot reproduce it here, but it is on page 301 of Leadership Education. The diagram shows the Freedom Agreement running across the center. I interpret this placing as a hinge of sort. It is the unifying practice that holds everything together. The mortar of a brick building, the eggs in a cake. So I ask myself. Just how am I living this principle? Have I fully accepted it?

Well, let’s define it first. It is basically the idea that personal freedom to pursue one’s own education works. It produces an individual who knows freedom.

WARNING! Soapbox Rabbit Trail Below
 (I do not mean having a head knowledge of the definition of freedom. I mean knowing it deep down in your bones so that it becomes a part of who you are and it sickens you when you see freedom being violated for yourself and others. These types of people are far and few between these days! It’s obvious they are a minority in elected officials if they are there at all. We allow our freedom to be hampered everyday.  For example, you cannot build on your own property without permits and paying the permit fees. You cannot start a new business without some sort of licensing, fee and government oversight.  This is not freedom. I read recently that 1 in 5 jobs in the USA is involved with monitoring the behavior of other people in some way. That is just wrong! )

 It also produces a person who loves learning because all they have learned has been intrinsically motivated, not coerced. Compulsory education makes an assumption here. The assumption is that freedom does not work with education. Reading, math and the like must be learned using coercion, a closed environment from which there is no escape, rewards for compliance & punishments for non-compliance (aka independent thought). The Freedom Agreement assumes that freedom in education does work and with superior results!

 Now when I read this I thought I agreed totally! I am a TJEder! We’ve been home educating this way for almost 4 years now, and even before I found TJEd, I was very relaxed in our methods. But then I hit a bump in the road.

I wrote here about how La had said she wanted to work on her math facts in order to be able to do Life of Fred. I thought, “Great! This is working! I can stop worrying about whether or not she will ever learn her math facts and move on in math!”

 ~ Here comes the road bump ~

This lasted less than one day when she burst into tears saying she doesn’t want to do this anymore! So no more work on math facts!  I confess I was shocked and disappointed.  I tried to figure out what went wrong.  After some soul searching and prayer this is what I discovered.

  1. I was emotionally invested in her accomplishing this which made it my goal, not hers. 
  2. When we went to practice the math facts, I used a method that I thought would produce the quickest results. I failed to take into account her learning style and temperament.

This was inspiration with string attached. You see, it became all about me. All about relieving my silent fear that, she will never learn _________, if I don’t require it. I had crossed the line of freedom in her own education. I was pushing and using compulsion techniques. This is when Inspire not Require becomes manipulation and I need watch this in myself.

So, I still need to work on accepting the Freedom Agreement. I need to daily remind myself that it is my job to expose, inspire and help our home to be a learning environment. It is her job to learn, grow, and move through the phases at her own pace.

So why do this? It’s much easier to buy a curriculum, make sure your child is “on track” with everyone else, or yield the freedom to an “authority” of an online school.  I struggle through this because I want something better for my daughter. I want her to know freedom in her bones, to function within freedom, to have a deep love of learning that will last a life time, and be practiced in the skills of a scholar.

I need to trust freedom, trust my daughter & trust the guidance of my Lord God.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 
2 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 10/25 to 10/29

Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction & Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Finished Shiloh, started Shiloh Season
Chris ~ The Creature from Jekyll Island
Morning Read Aloud ~ Finished The Best Worst Halloween Ever, started The Silver Chair

Around the House ~
No extra projects to speak of this week. I feel like I don’t know where my time is going. I have two sewing projects I need to start. Time to revamp our schedule. Why does everything in the universe tends towards chaos. I wish I could just stay organized once I get organized!

Out & About Learning ~
Firefly Corps was rescheduled until this coming Monday due to illness, so I’ll write about that next week. This week was swimming at our weekly homeschool class.

Study Time ~
This week’s study time got off to a very relaxed start. We woke up to snow on Monday morning. I did not have the heart to keep her inside! The neighbor kids came over by noon & they stayed outside sledding & jumping on a snowy trampoline all day! Before the kids came over La made a town in the front yard she named Crystalville. She outlined walkways and buildings just like the kids in Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran.
La in her Crystalville house. The circle in the center is a fire pit.
Main St., Crystalville

La had another baking lesson. This time chocolate chip cookies.

La wrote some thank you notes to her Nani & Kitty Grandma for sending her a small Halloween package.

Last time I wrote about La being inspired to learn her math facts. She still is, but I almost killed it! As soon as she said this I came on too strong with a traditional approach using worksheets & flash cards. After all, that’s how I learned my math facts.  Well it backed fired right in my face. She hated it and felt pressured.  I should have known better! This approach has never worked with her!  So I took a deep breath & regrouped.  A reader named Cherie (Thanks Cherie!) posted a great link to a math card game. She loves this approach & is quickly getting all the addition facts down. I am also playing factor games with her to help her see the relationship between addition & subtraction.  Now things are smooth sailing again!

Afternoons ~
More playing on the snow & reading. This weekend we are taking care of my friend’s 3 daughters ages 4, 6 & 8. It’s going to be very fun! We’ll be trick or treating, going to a Harvest Carnival & swimming with pumpkins at the pool!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Magic of Life of Fred

I must share about the magic Life of Fred has done in our home. La has never been a huge math fan. I am a big believer in Inspire not Require, so this summer I started to look at why this was so. There were a few reasons. First of all, I had not shown her how important math is to daily life. Second, I was not really doing any math as an example. I was not working out math problems or calling attention to when I needed to use math in my daily life. So I started two things. 
  • Calling attention to when & why I need to use math in my daily life.
  • I bought a copy of Life of Fred: Fractions and started doing it on my own during study time.
This is Fred © Stanley F. Schmidt
Well, she was intrigued with the book immediately.  I read it aloud to her and I would do the questions at the end of each chapter. It wasn't long before she was asking me to read her the questions and show her how to figure out the answer. I learned that La was very good at figuring out how to do the problems. She knew when to multiply or subtract, but she could not do the higher operations such as double digit multiplication or long division. This interest continued and lead to her asking to do Life of Fred & writing out all the answers to the problems as we did them together.

Well, yesterday we finished chapter 9 and I experienced a small miracle.  She asked me if I would help her learn what she needs to know so we could continue together. She also asked me if I would wait for her to continue Life of Fred! Of course I will! She needs to thoroughly learn all her math facts, long division and multiplying with double digit numbers. I am so excited because she is now self-motivated to do the work it takes to get up to speed with Life of Fred. I am hoping her motivation will last. I plan on making it fun using games & contests. I will keep you updated.

Does anyone have any good resources for homemade & online games for getting down your math facts?

Thanks for writing this awesome series Dr. Schimdt! Fred has opened a whole new world of math and fun for us!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 10/18 to 10/22

Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction & Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Finished Percy Jackson Series- The Lightening Thief & Started Shiloh
Chris ~ The Creature from Jekyll Island
Morning Read Aloud ~ Finished The Horse  & His Boy, Started The Best Worst Halloween Ever
Evening Read Aloud ~ Finished Gulliver's Travels

Around the House ~
No extra projects to speak of this week. I did however set fire to some tortilla chips in the oven. That was fun. ;-) Luckily nothing else caught on fire. I kept the oven door shut & the fire just burned itself out. It was my first kitchen fire.

Out & About Learning ~
This week we had our regular Homeschool class at the Aquatic center. They did team building games.
We had our monthly art class at the Kimball Art Center. We studied this very unique artist,Devorah Sperber, who recreates masterpieces like DaVinci’s Last Supper out of hanging rows of spools of thread. To top that off she creates them upside down and then you look through a small crystal globe and they appear right side up. It was amazing and gave me an opportunity to talk about hoe our eyes work.

Study Time ~
This week was a great study week! Here are some highlights.
  • La finished 2 project on India. One about Henna & another about the Hindi Language
  • We caught & studied a yellow jacket in a bug jar.
  • worked on spelling, cursive, latin, math
  • I have been doing Life of Fred: Fractions. La loves to do this with me. The stories are very entertaining & she can do some of the problems. Even if she cannot do the arithmetic (like long division), she can tell me how to figure out the problem (e.g. you need to multiply the hours times 60 minutes). We are on Chapter 10 & it is getting too hard for her. So she asked me to stop doing Life of Fred on my own and help her learn all she needs to know so she can finish the Fractions with me. Now that is the art of inspiring!!!
  • I found out that La understand negative numbers & can add and subtract them!

Afternoons ~
Nothing to note out of the ordinary this week. The weather has been great so lots of outside time with the neighbor kids.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TJEd Blog Roll

Leadership education is really tough. It is a blood, sweat & tears kind of life. As far as homeschooling goes, I think it is the toughest & most rewarding way of doing things. There is no how to. You must struggle through the principles and work out for your family how to implement them.  This is why I so enjoy reading the blogs of other Mom's working out their own journey. So, if you are a TJEd family and would like to share your blog with me & others, join the Blog Hop below & add it to your blog.  Let's stand together in supporting & inspiring each other!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Life Skills - Baking

Today La had her first ever real baking lesson. She has baked along side me many times, but this time it was all her.  I sat by and coached. She did all the mixing, measuring, kneading, and shaping. I did help with timing, checking for doneness & bringing her back to rereading the directions so she knew what to do next. La will graduate from Baking Life Skills when she can bake 10 items on her own. Oh, and the crescent rolls came out very nicely!  We will be having them with dinner tonight. Looks like my experimenting with yeast baking the last few weeks has really rubbed off on her.  Ah, the rewards of inspire not require. :-) 

This photo was taken by La.  It looks like it is from a cookbook!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 10/11 to 10/15

What we are reading ~
Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction
La ~ Percy Jackson Series- The Lightening Thief 
Chris ~ The Creature from Jekyll Island
Morning Read Aloud ~ The Horse  & His Boy
Evening Read Aloud ~ Gulliver's Travels

Around the House ~
After not having internet access on my computer for about 10 days I finally got it back up and running again! Everything else was pretty normal household-wise this week.

Out & About ~
We has our first Firefly Corps meting about India this week. La did her presentation about Indian Payal or anklets & then the girls all made their own complete with little bells. Sorry I don't have any pic's. They came out all blurry with my phone camera. During the meeting other girls presented on geography, contributions & Ghandi. La skipped weekly homeschool class this Wednesday to stay home and play with the neighbor kids.

Our Study Time ~
We continued with the regulars of spelling, Latin & math. La says Latin is getting boring and she doesn't want to do it anymore. I tell her that is fine with me, but every time I get the book out she is right there doing it with me! Other highlights of the week ~
  • online jigsaw puzzles
  • started cursive practice
  • read some about Columbus
  • catching salamanders
The cursive writing was a surprise to me. La just said one day during spelling that she wanted to learn cursive so she could write faster.  I reminded her that she had a cursive work book she could use. That seemed to kill her interest. The next morning I suggest I write a sentence from one of her favorite books in cursive & she could copy it. She loved that idea. Now she is spending a few minutes a day trying to write out this one sentence perfectly. She said when she can write it well she will start with another sentence.  It's amazing how kids will find an interesting way to learn something when they want to learn it. That is the essence of Simple not Complex.

I had my first book club meeting this week. It was so much fun. Seven fun ladies came over & we discussed The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. It was a lively discussion! I can't wait until next month!

Afternoons ~
Outside catching salamanders! Need I say more?

Next week we have art class at the Kimball Art Center. That is always wonderful!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 10/4 to 10/8

What we are reading ~
Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction
La ~ Percy Jackson Series- The Lightening Thief & Finished Brewster's Courage
Chris ~ The Creature from Jekyll Island
Morning Read Aloud ~ The Horse  & His Boy
Evening Read Aloud ~ Gulliver's Travels

Around the House ~ 
This week I made my grandmother's sticky buns! Making these made me miss her. She passed away about a year and a half ago. before that she suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for many years. I do wish I had asked her to show me how to make these when I could have!

Out & About Learning ~
We had homes school class at the South Summit Aquatic & Fitness center as usual. I don't think I have been including that in my wrap-ups. It was Playground Games this week. Always a very fun & social time!
Friday we went to the Bug Brigade at the Utah Museum pf Natural History. Out study of microorganisms has led to an interest in bugs. So off we went! La held a few bugs & had a confrontation with a praying mantis. 

Study Time ~
We decided to not make a lot of plans this week and let study time flow. We still accomplished so much! 
  • La made a Lunch Menu with prices & we used it at lunch time to practice counting money, making change, etc...
  • La planned her project for India to be done at the next Firefly Corps meeting.
  • Continued with Latin & Spelling
  • Learned about the Tower of Hanoi puzzle & played it. Tough logic puzzle!
  • La got curious about where yeast comes from & what it is. No doubt due to my recent fascination with baking. We looked it up which lead to thre days of learning about microorganisms.
  • We watched videos about amoebas & cell division. La made a model of a cell out out of Ziploc bag, water, a marble (nucleus), pencil cushion (contractile vacuole) & an eraser (food vacuole). 
  • sketched some insects. Do you know what makes an arachnid different from other insects? We do!
Afternoons ~ 
We either continued studies or La played outside. She has been catching newts. They look like small black & green salamanders & we have lots of them. La & the neighbor kids love them!

Next week we have Firefly Corps Meeting on Tuesday. Should be fun!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

3 Onesie Dresses

3 dresses for a one year olds birthday.  The tutu is a separate piece from the onsie. The purple is my favorite!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 10.1.10

What we are reading ~
Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction
La ~ Percy Jackson Series- The Lightening Thief & Brewster's Courage
Chris ~ The Creature from Jekyll Island
Morning Read Aloud ~ Finished Voyage of the Dawn Treader & Started The Horse  & His Boy
Evening Read Aloud ~ Chris started reading Gulliver's Travels to us.

Around the House ~ This week I made bread for the first time! it came out really good. I might make my grandmother's sticky buns next week.

I also started & am still trying to finish some onsie dresses for a birthday gift. Our pastor's granddaughter is having her first birthday party on Sunday. I will post pictures of these when I get them done.
Out & About Learning ~ Firefly Corps Meeting was Monday. We learned a lot about Greek Gods & made a Greek time line. It was fun. friday was our our Greek fieldtrip to the Olympic Cauldron Park & lunch at Yanni's Greek Express. Yum!

Study Time ~
A few less lessons this week & more organic learning. I let 2 days slip by without official study time. Mind you a lot of other learning was done, but do want to get back to 5 days a week of scheduled study time. The day just goes much smoother when we do this.
  • Latin 2 days
  • Sequential Spelling 2 days
  • Math lesson and practice. I was pleasantly surprised that La understand place value of to one trillion. She is always surprising me with what she knows.
  • La on her own
    • geoboards, hook & latch, lots of reading, practiced her tin whistle
  • In Momschool I  covered the following
    • Peloponnesian Wars 
    • Odysseus & the Cyclops
    • Looked up the species of some trees on our hike
Afternoons ~ We either continued studies or La played outside. She has been collecting and chopping acorns. I love to see her spend a few hours outside everyday. Chores & errands also ate up a few afternoons this week.

See you next Friday!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 9.26.10

What we are reading ~
Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction
La ~ Percy Jackson Series- The Lightening Thief
Chris ~ The Creature from Jekyll Island
Morning Read Aloud ~ Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Around the House ~ Getting back on track for daily chores. La is starting to help me with every household job now. She doesn't like cleaning toilets! Who does? She asked me why she needs to do all this with me. I said, "Because we don't have cows." 

Out & About Learning ~ Art class at the Kimball Art Center & Homeschool PE Class.

Study Time ~
Our scheduled study time is from 9:30 until lunch. La has been wanting to do lots of lessons during this time. This is very different than from years past. In the past we mostly did whatever we felt like during this time, but now she is wanting to make plans and is sticking to them. Here is what we did this week.
  • 1-2 Latin Lessons 4 days - one great thing about this Latin book I have is that is covering English grammar by talking about subjects, verbs & conjunctions, etc...
  • Sequential Spelling 4 days
  • A science experiment about fall leaves
  • Lorelei finished 2 Greek projects 
    • Olympic fact finding exercise
    • Researching how Christmas is celebrated in Greece
  • In Momschool I  covered the following
    • Ferdinand Magellan
    • First Day of Fall
    • Thales - Greek mathetician
    • Euripides - Greek playwright
Afternoons ~ We either continued studies or La played outside. She has been collecting and chopping acorns. I love to see her spend a few hours outside everyday.

Next week La asked me to plan Math a couple days. WOW! She is asking for math! 
I hope to do a weekly update for every week. Firefly Corps meeting tomorrow. Should be fun!!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Bit of Fall Color

This is my favorite Autumn hillside. I stopped to capture it on Monday. It's so pretty, I just had to share. There are not a lot of places out West that get this kind of color. We are blessed on the Wasatch Back!
Makes me want a cup of tea & a slice of pumpkin pie!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our First Official "School Week"

This week was our first week of getting back on track from Summer. In our home we are always learning, but I try to keep a more structured schedule during the traditional school year. I started out with a great schedule but had to tweak it a little bit. Here is how our days are going.

I have set aside the mornings from 9:30 until lunch to be our structured school time. We start this with prayer & read aloud, then start our studies. La makes a goal list for each week. So far we have been studying spelling & Latin everyday, math a couple times a week, a study of Greece almost daily, one science project per week & This Day in History. La is reading Persy Jackson & the Lightening Thief. She has learned so much about Greek mythology from this book!
We have had great weather & been doing a lot of reading on the back porch!
I am pretty happy with the way things are going.  La is actually choosing to do things that look like "school" this year. I think she is realizing there are things she does need to learn & is enjoying it. I am so glad we never forced academics on her at a younger age!

This week's Day in History has some great stuff! The first day of Autumn, birthday of Euripides & Ferdinand Magellan.  Sometimes I think I am having more fun than La!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gratitude List - All About Chris

Ok, so I haven't been great about keeping up on my blog lately.  We have been busy having lots of Summer Time fun & getting ready for the school year. I think it is time for a Gratitude List. This one is all about my husband Chris.  With the exception of following Jesus, he is the best decision I ever made. Here are the top 10 things about Chris I am grateful for, in no particular order.
  1. He gets better looking very year! ;-)
  2. We laugh together almost everyday.
  3. He is my voice of logic & reason when I need it most.
  4. I never worry about our future because Chris has a razor sharp vision for our family.
  5. I can trust Chris completely because I know he has our familie's best interest at heart & he brings himself under the leadership of the Lord.
  6. He never fails to show me gentleness & understanding when I need it.
  7. He takes joy & pride in providing well for our family.
  8. He loves to spend time with our daughter & she is getting a great picture of what a husband & father should be.
  9. Whether it's a quick knowing look or a simple text message -  he shows me that he loves me in many little ways everyday
  10. He brings out the adventurous side of me, which is why we still have so much fun together.
We've been married for 17 years & I feel the best is ahead of us!

School starts September 13th. Look for weekly updates once we get on a roll again!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Is There a Perfect Curriculum?

Over the years I have tried various curriculums.  I have watched others start & stop many more. Every summer I revisit websites of curriculum that I have admired. Each summer I am tempted to buy a complete package from several of them. The whole idea of having everything planned out and thought through is so appealing to me. I especially love all the literature based, Charlotte Mason styled curriculum out there. Every year there are more. They seduce me with all their colorful covers & gridded lesson plans. How I love the idea of the gridded lesson plan. There it is before me all laid our subject by subject, day by day. How this appeals to my detail oriented mind. "You've tried this before," an inner voice says. "Looks like a prettier conveyor belt to me." "And a lot less work for me!" I think to myself. Inspiring, but not requiring is much harder work!

Yes, it is an illusion. Life & learning do not unfold in a neat grid. Bullet points have facts, but no flavor. There is security in these curricula, but no life. There is the security of "getting it covered", but there is not liberty.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

The Liberty to direct your path in learning. The Freedom to Fall In Love with Life & Learning. So I wonder what is a perfect curriculum. I have thought about this a lot the last few weeks. 

Today in my quiet time, I thought about Jesus. I asked myself about His example of teaching. As far as I can see He did 2 things.  1. Told stories (parables) & discussed them (and other issues) with his disciples, 2. Lived as a perfect example for us.  So, this boils down to talking & example. In terms of Leadership Education I think one can say Jesus used ~
Classics (scripture & parables), Mentoring (discussing classics), Example (his sinless behavior) to teach.  Sounds a lot like some of the 7 Keys. 
  • Classics, not Textbooks
  • Mentors, not Teachers
  • You, not Them (Jesus studied scripture & spent time in prayer)
  • Inspire, not Require (all his disciples were so inspired by Him that they chose to give up their lives to follow Him)
I never really thought to look at education this way.  It is such an affirmation to me to see these Keys are reflected in Scripture. I think this all boils down to one word.


If you as a parent are living as you hope your child will live one day, they will follow. If you study, they will eventually study. If you pray with them & in front of them, so will they. If you serve others, they will serve others. If you are a Godly Spouse (as much as you humanly can be), they will grow to be the same.  Example is everything!

So I have found it. The perfect curriculum for us.  EXAMPLE

Goodbye to the ease & security of packaged curriculum.  I have a lot of work to do!

{I wonder if I will still revisit all my favorite curriculum sites next summer}

Gearing Up & Planning for the New Year

Now is the time of planning! La & I have made our list of goals for the coming school year. Books have been ordered and on their way.  School supplies have been bought. We ordered Sequential Spelling this year. La is so excited about this that we started it already.  She was so proud today when she spelled "beginning" correctly on the first try!

I have worked out a schedule that I think will work well for us. I have attempted to embed it below.
Weekly Schedule

You will see a lot of study ideas & topics. That is my study schedule, not La's. They are the things I want to learn about this year. La has her own goals. She will be working on these after our Momschool time until lunch and then in the afternoons.  Each week she will be making some goals based on her yearly goals. Here are her yearly goals for this school year.
  • Win 1 ski race on Park City's Farm Team
  • Do 2 math lessons a week & memorize all +, - & x facts
  • Read at least 10 books over 200 pages each
  • Do one science experiment a week- Chemistry & Physics
  • Prepare one Firelfy Corps Presentation per month (history, geography or culture) and study more about the countries at home as wished
  • Journal writing everyday
  • Sequential Spelling every school day
  • Continue to study Architecture History with Dad
  • Do yoga daily
I was pretty impressed with this list for a 9 year old. These are all her own goals. She will be busy!
I feel really good about this year. I am hoping I will meet some major goals myself!

Right now I am reading "Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens". I am really enjoying it. I realize that my own stage of education somewhere between LOL & Scholar ~ moving back & forth between the two. I want to add all the 13 year old books that I haven't read yet to my reading list this year. 

It's gonna be a BIG, FUN year!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Camera Play

I am not a photographer by any definition of the word, but I love to play with my camera. About a 2 months ago I got a new one and I love it. It's a Nikon Coolpix L110. It's just right for me. The technology is a little beyond a point & shoot, but not as complicated (or as big & bulky) as a Digital SLR.  I am having fun with it. 

What I try to do when I play with my camera is get details. I am fascinated at how some photographers take these incredible pictures of details that most would overlook. In these details is the flavor & essence of the moment. For me, those types of pictures are better than video for transporting you to that time & place. My sister in-law is an expert at this. You can see some of her work here.  She is a great portrait photographer, but I think she does her best work when she is recording events like weddings & parties. She is another person I want to be when I grow up! Maybe someday I'll get a real big girl camera & learn how to use it, but right now that seems so overwhelming! Not to mention expensive. 

So here are a few pictures I took when I went to Red Butte Gardens with my friend Rhea & her girls. Her baby has the best feet! I just love them! Her middle girl couldn't get enough of playing in the fountain! It was so much fun!

Feet in the Fountain - Love it!

 Don't you just want to bite those feet!

I really like this one. The curve of her lips, cheek & nose and the way she is holding her hands is so perfect baby to me. The grass gives a great contrast to her skin.

Well, hope you enjoy these little camera experiments. It was fun trying it out. What would be great is to have a camera hooked up to my brain so I could capture exactly what my eyes see. Someday that technology will probably be available, but that idea is a little scary too. I don't want to be a cyborg!  Til next time ~

Friday, June 25, 2010

My First Gratitude List

I have come upon a truly inspiring blog by Amanda Blake Soule titled Soule MaMa She knits & sews beautiful things and her photography has a way of catching the essence of the moment. I want to be her when I grow up ;-)   
One of the things she does is write a list every now & then of things that are bringing her joy right now. I am borrowing her idea and tweaking it a little bit to be a Gratitude List. You know that Veggie Tales song that says, "A thankful heart is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I have, that's an easy place to start."? This little tune keeps playing through my head as I think about my list. So here is my first Gratitude List (in no particular order).

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
~ James 1:17

1. Park Days with Homeschool friends

2. My daughter's Summer obsession with digging in the dirt & playing in creeks

3. The Hummingbirds at our feeder

4. A great week of Vacation Bible School

5. Planning our Love of Learning Club for next year Check out our website HERE

6. Lilacs in my kitchen

7. Coming up on 17 years married to this guy. I couldn't ask for more!

8. Taking the time to sit & think about what I am grateful for!

I am so thankful to God for how he designed our hearts & minds to work. Thinking about the good in your life really does help change your outlook! Try it! You won't be disappointed.

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
~ Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Starts with a Bang!

In the last 5 weeks I have been out of town for 2 1/2 weeks and have had family visiting for 1 1/2 weeks. Needless to say it has been crazy & fun, or should I say crazy fun! La is really exhausted. I cannot wake her up before 9am lately. I put her to bed by 9pm but she just can't fall asleep and then she sleeps late. Next week is VBS & she must be there by 9am. I am hoping that will get us back on a schedule. 

Here are some highlights from our trips & visits.
I already posted about our AZ trip here.

Chris's Mom, Dad and our niece Isabel came to visit. We went to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons & Fossil Butte with a few rabbit trails thrown in.

We stayed in Jackson, WY
La & Bella Watching Old Faithful
Grand Prismatic Spring
Yellowstone Falls
We Saw Lots of Bison - Close Up!

Mammoth Hot Springs (above & below)
The girls earned 3 Jr. Ranger Badges on our Trip!

 A Pilgrimage to Napoleon Dynamite's Town

Preston, ID
Took a chairlift ride at Park City Mt. Resort
Also went on the Alpine slide & Roller Coaster
The Girls Made a Clubhouse Area on the Side of the House
We went to This Is The Place Heritage Park & did many Pioneer Activities. The girls like Pioneer School so much they did it twice!

Well that is a summary of our trip. I also went to the Utah Home Educators Conference this past Saturday. Right now, I have a ton of projects going on...
Making a trip DVD, Planning a Homeschool Info Night, helping with VBS & garage sale at our church, and lots of household projects like cleaning out La's drawers & closet, getting a summer schedule going, revamping my Inspiration List, planning & organizing for next year's Firefly Corps. I will be writing more on these later. Time to get to my To Do List! :-)
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