Friday, October 28, 2011

Birthday Tribute (We have 2 teenagers in the house now!)

My precious daughter turned 13 today. It delights me to see her growing up knowing God the way she does. Although I have my days when I miss that baby I brought home from the hospital, she is maturing into such a beautiful young woman.

2000 - One of my favorite baby pictures of her. She fell asleep here and stayed there for quite some time.

2001 ~ Gotta love that Binky. Her shirt says "Warning: I am Two!"

2003 - Picture taken on a hay ride to go out an pick pumpkins.

2006 ~ Love that toothless smile.

2008 ~ Must ALWAYS dress for the occasion. We were hometown tourists in Gettysburg and she couldn't just wear a t-shirt.

2008 ~ A Pink .22 for Christmas. Notice the vintage-style nightgown. She is very feminine, yet can hold her own.

2010 ~ A Christmas Eve Tradition in our house is new PJ's. We call it the first present of Christmas.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why I'm Beginning to Love Wednesdays

Wednesdays are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. It's the day after we go to Classical Conversations and the kids have all of their new assignments for the week.

My oldest two (ages 12 and 14), often get up early to get a quick start on their school work. They set up their assignment sheets the night before (something CC strongly encourages so the students can learn time management) and are ready to dive in when they arise. They work quietly and diligently on their assignments all morning. They do have questions and I help them through those. DD12 will often ask that I read with her, and I do. We read her assingments together and have some wonderful discussions about them. Sometimes their dad is in the room and will jump in on discussions.

At lunch time they break to eat, and are back at it for the afternoon. I love being in the other room when the girls are practicing their latin. Frequently, they break into a fake old-world accent and talk like that through the entire study time (sometimes the accent sticks around way into the evening). It's funny to listen to.

All this time, I am cleaning the house and preparing meals for the day.
DS7 will get up at some point during the morning and I will sit with him to review his CC lessons. I also give him a math lesson (Saxon 2) and a language lesson (First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind). My goal is to read a book with him in the afternoons and that doesn't happen as often as I would like.

Throughout the day, the girls will take 10 minute walks to stretch their legs and clear their minds. When they are finished with their assignements for the day, they will go outside with a camera and start snapping away.

Dinner time comes and we enjoy a meal together before we head off to church for the evening.

I wish everyday were like this. For now, I will savor every Wednesday as it rolls around. It's a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Classical Conversations

I have heard of Classical Conversations a few times over the last couple of years, but never really caught what it was about.  Finally this past spring, I went to an information meeting.  I was hooked within the first 10 minutes.  What hooked me?  The presenter hit on two of my primary reasons for choosing to educate my children at home.
1. Classical Conversations (CC) helps to nurture children's innate love of learning.
2. CC wants to nuture thinkers, not sheep.

Over the next couple of months, I researched and found that I really liked everything about CC.  It is well organized, they use quality literature, real-life resources and they recognize the parent as the child's primary teacher. 

Cost?  Yes, it's a little more expensive than a regular co-op.  However, I believe you are getting what you pay for.  In my opinion, it is worth every penny.

My daughters are at Challenge level.  I was a little nervous about placing them there since we had never done a curriculum like this before.  We went to our first CC meeting last week and I am truly amazed at how well my girls have stepped up to the plate.  Of course, I had to set a standard and explain that if school work for the day wasn't finished, we wouldn't leave the house for horse stables, ballet, 4-H or anything.  Somehow that motivated them to get up at about 7:30 every morning over the last week to get their assignments for the day finished.

I hope to be able to continue posting out CC journey as we walk this new path over the next year.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Civil War Ball

First of all, ignore the dates on these pictures. I put new batteries in the camera and it defaulted back to that date.

Our homeschool group has a spring formal each year. It is a family event that we say is like a wedding reception without the wedding. It's a chance for us to dress up in fancy clothes and come together to have a good time. This year we chose a Civil War theme and the event quickly turned into a Civil War Ball. We were able to find dance instructors who came and taught us not only the dances of the time period, but also spoke to us about ettiquette. We also had a professional photographer/decorator come in and transform the room on the lower level of our local Ag center. This was a social event, but something families could put into their homeschool portfolios as well.

I think pictures are worth a thousand words, so I have a few to share.

The woman to the far left is a mom in our group who volunteered to coordinate the spring formal. While she was taking care of the details for this event, she made the dress she is wearing.

Although period attire was not required, I had fun borrowing this dress complete with hoop from another homeschool mom.
Our dress code was simple enough. We asked everyone to dress modestly (no cleavage, skirts below the knee, etc.). Attendees did not have to wear formal attire either. They could come in their Sunday Best with men wearing ties and women wearing dresses, skirts or dress slacks. We specified no sneakers or flip flops (doesn't matter how fancy they are).

Me with my little southern belle. She found this dress last summer at a thrift store for $5 and she knit her shawl. We did go into Gettysburg to get accessories like gloves and jewelry.

DD13 having a great time.

Amongst the Civil War dances, we also squeezed in the chicken dance. It was rather interesting to see that dance being done in a hoop.

This is DS7 popping in on someone else's picture. We were able to outfit him in CSA gear. My husband is from Alabama and DS just had to be a confederate soldier.
This couple was very gracious in sharing this photo with me and not being upset with him for butting in.

At the end of the evening, all the decorations were taken down and the tables were put away, but several of our young people continued to dance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wrapping up

Every year it is my goal to finish with our core subjects by the end of April. We are really close. At this stage in the game, I rely on my daughters ages 12 and 13 to be independent and complete their school work without a lot of prodding from me.

REALITY CHECK HERE---It actually takes lots of prodding. It amazes me how they don't forget that dance lessons are Tuesday night or that I need to drive someone to the stables at 3. Somehow, they often forget that they need to be finishing their lessons for the day.

I had a conversation with DD13 today and explained that when she is finished with her 8th grade work, she can start her "summer break". If it takes her to December, she won't get a summer break, but she won't be in 9th grade until her assignments for 8th grade are finished. Somehow this is a tough concept to grasp at 13.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I feel the need to preface this post with the following: This is my experience and I am aware that my experience may be biased due to my beliefs. Others who might be in the same situation may see things entirely different. However, I feel it is important to share my experiences. Due to our financial situation, I have gone to the public schools in my area to substitute teach this spring. In this post, I am only discussing what I saw today in a 5th grade classroom. It seems that every day that I go in to sub, I start the day thinking, "I could do this. If something happened to my husband, I could really do this again." It's not unfamiliar territory to me because I've done it all before. I realize in a substitute position, I'm going to see the worst behaviors. The children's authority figure (a.k.a. the teacher) is not present and they don't know me from Adam. I get that. Today, when the children's assignments were finished, I tried to play a game with them. The kids were in groups of four. I gave one child in each group a sheet of lined paper. That child wrote an opening sentence to a story. After a period of time, the paper was passed to the next child to write the second sentence, and so on. In the meantime, a woman came into the room. I'm not sure who she was because she didn't introduce herself and there was nothing in the sub plans about anyone who was to come to the room. She stood silent on one side of the room. I believe she was there to assist kids who had mild special needs. So back to the writing activity - after the first round, I quickly realized I should have gone over more ground rules besides just using capital letters and punctuation. I should have included rules like "Let's not write a story about poop." and "If you must use a classmates name in the story, be sure it won't be embarassing or insulting to him." After listening to a couple of awful stories, I stopped and collected them. At that point I explained the additional ground rules and explained the "why" for each rule. Then, I asked if what they wrote before would be something they wanted their parents to read. I could see some remorse in the room and felt the offense would not be repeated. It was clearly time to move on. Then out of the blue, the silent woman in the room said, "Or worse yet, would you want the principal to read those stories?" (She did emphasize the principal's name.) That is all she said the entire class period. Yikes! I guess I'm coming from a perspective that children should have to answer to their parents. She totally wiped that out by throwing the principal comment out there. And I thought, "There it is!! The subliminal message that we owe more homage to the government than to our families." I hope my own children would know how to act appropriately when I'm not around. I hope they don't do things that would cause embarassment to themselves or to others. What I'm seeing in the public schools are a bunch of mean kids - especially the girls! They are just downright mean. I could see DD12 slipping into that meanness as a matter of survival. I could see DD13 just withdrawing from everyone. I don't want that for my kids. School is supposed to be an educational institution that is also a safe environment. It simply isn't safe on a number of levels. I feel that I have this unique front row seat to watch what's going on in the schools that even the parents of those kids don't get to see. I try to go in open minded and have a positive attitude. Not all days are like today. Nonetheless, I have a high number of days like this. Tomorrow, I will be happy to go see a stage production of Aladdin with my kids next to me. If inappropriate things come up, I (not other children) will have the opportunity to discuss it through. I'm thankful to our Sovereign Lord that I have the freedom to homeschool my kids.