Friday, August 17, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line!

I did not cry when my first bird flew out of the nest.

On Tuesday morning, my first born boarded a plane to fly out of the nest. I anticipated many tears, but instead felt peace and happiness.

As the day progressed, I had moments of sadness that he would not be at the dinner table with us, or goofing around with his sisters, but when sadness filled my heart, I purposed to be thankful. I realized that my journey had come to an end and I had crossed the finish line.

As a homeschooler, I chose to give up "alone" time that most other moms look forward to each day from 9-3. Most of the time I am thankful and love having my kids home, but there are plenty of days when I wish for alone time! Those are the days that I have to put on my mental running shoes and trudge up a hard hill and remember that I am running with my kids in a race. I am their greatest cheerleader. At some point I will cross a finish line with my kids, and then I have let them finish the rest of "their" race without me.

On Tuesday, August 14 I crossed my finish line. I did it! I ran with my son; encouraged him, nourished him, and educated him. My part of the race has been completed! Hallelujah! I am so happy that I had the privilege to homeschool him for 8 years.

I remember when he was 10 years old and he declared "Mom, I want you to homeschool me." Bewildered, I asked "Why? Don't you like your school anymore? Won't you miss your friends?" After a few moments of pondering Calvin said "I just want to be home with you."

That conversation is precious to me and will always be a part of me. I recall thinking to myself that he would not "want to be home with me" for very long, so I better take it while I can get it! I jumped on the homeschooling bandwagon and began homeschooling him in the 5th grade.

Calvin and me at  Texas Homeschool Coalition's PHC Scholarship awards
I purposed to give him the best education that I could, with the little that I knew or understood about homeschooling, but we did it and made it! Calvin took 15 credit hours as dual enrollment classes through a distance learning program with Patrick Henry College and graduated from homeschool with a GPA of 3.89. I am thrilled that I was able to be a huge part of Calvin's education and by sending him off to a great college, I can "pat myself on the back" too and know that I was a part of him crossing that finish line. I feel like I graduated too.

For all you mom's who fear homeschooling the high school years, just know that it is so worth it.
You will gather gems along the journey and carry a treasure in your heart that otherwise would have never been yours. If you are interested in homeschooling or need encouragement to homeschool the high school years, begin that journey by praying and researching homeschooling philosophies. Find the philosophy that resonates with you and it will guide you towards "how" to make it happen! It will be one of the best decisions you have ever made!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why I Homeschool, Part 1

I attended public school from 1978-1988. Like most of you, I did fine and so assumed that if public school was good enough for me, it was good enough for my kids!



Let's think about this. Was I really fine? Did it affect my "Christian values" that my parents tried to instill in me? Did I really get an education?

Today I am going to address how attending public school affected my Christian values.

My parents raised me in a traditional Christian home and taught me good moral values. For the most part, I was a "good" kid. I did not party, smoke, drink, have sex, etc. But, when I was sixteen I did sneak a few beers and cigarettes. I also began to question "How do I REALLY KNOW that Jesus is THE way to God?"My best friend in jr.high was a gay kid and as that issue began to became a reality that I had to deal with, my faith began to shake. It shook for 5 years and I was beginning to walk away from the Christian faith.

Let's face it! The school system has our kids when they are at their "BEST". As moms, we get them back home when they are at their worst! They are crying, tired and just worn out from school all day! It is really hard to instill Christian values into your kids, after 4PM. Not only that, you have to spend that time "de-programing" them from all the "liberal" education they get at a public school. They are learning what the government wants them to learn.

The government is shaping our kids when our kids are at their prime! We get them and try to shape them and train them in the way of the LORD, when they are tired and have homework and extra curricular activities. Then, we look around today and wonder "Why are so many young people walking away from God?"

Well, is it any wonder?

Here is something to consider. The education system in America was transformed in the early part of 1900s by a man named John Dewey. He was a staunch supporter of Darwin and fought to get evolution in the publics schools. Dewey's goal was to create industrial "robotic" workers. The schools have bells, just like the factories did. He created this system, which de-values the human being and creates the person to fit into a box (system). This does not allow for your child to thrive and become ALL that they can.

I realized one day that my children were NOT thriving and becoming all that they could be. I knew that I could do better than the "system" if I just brought them home and read really good books to them and began to teach them basic math and how to read and write. I could do better than a workbook (created by the government) for crying out loud!!! And so can YOU!!!! YES YOU CAN!!!! No I am not a saint because I homeschool! I am a sinner who needs Jesus, just like all of you. Homeschooling is challenging, but I have given my kids the opportunity to become ALL that God wants them to be. Homeschooling does not limit and stifle kids; it releases them to become the complete and beautiful human being that God intended them to be. Isn't that what you really want for your kids?

If you are Christian, consider this 2 minute video. 
Their souls are at stake!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My "Almost" Kitchen Disaster

Thanks to my sweet sixteen year old daughter who came to my rescue, our kitchen situation is now under control and the gluten-free brownies are safe and securely baking in the oven.

It all started when I decided to make hard boiled eggs and brownies at the same time. While the eggs were in their pot on the stove top, I quickly removed a new carton of eggs from the refrigerator. "QUICKLY" was where my disaster began to form. I dropped the carton and tried to catch it with my foot, which I bruised on the bottom of the refrigerator door. Of course we all know that my foot could never have caught the carton of eggs, but that was how I reacted.

With a throbbing foot, I was able to rescue 7 eggs from pouring out of their shells all over my kitchen floor. These are costly eggs from a local farm, so there is NO WAY I am going to let them go to waste. I began to fry them in a pan while at the same time gingerly adding 2 eggs (without the shells) into the brownie mix that was waiting in its mixing bowl.

In order to save time, I decided to use my grandmothers old-fashioned hand mixer for the brownies. I learned that one must never attempt to mix boxed brownies with an old fashioned hand mixer. My daughter started to laugh at me and said "Mom, no wonder you never make brownies and you always ask us to do it!" I started laughing and then realized the my fried eggs were starting to burn. I was able to rescue them and get them put away for tomorrow.

Meanwhile my hardboiled eggs were still cooking. So, tomorrow I will find out if they have green yolks!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Treasures in our garden

Today we found 2 treasures in our garden. Mr. Caterpillar munching on one of our 12 basil plants. We moved him to a wax myrtle tree, which is where he is in the photo.

We also got our FIRST TEXAS tomato!! Never have I had a tomato in my yard. I have tried 3 times to grow tomatoes. This is our first one ever!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Who Is this Man??

This morning the girls and I were reading about Flemish artist, Jan Van Eyck. Upon viewing The Man With The Red Turban we all laughed when we realized that the subject of this portrait looks like a famous British actor whom we love, Charles Dance.

What do you think? Did Van Eyck have visions of Charles Dance or is Charles Dance trying to resemble The Man With the Red Turbin? LOL

Movies we have enjoyed featuring Charles Dance:
Bleak House
Foyle's War episode: The White Feather
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby
Murder Rooms: Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes
Michael Collins

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why I LOVE Right Start Math!

Cutting out Regular Polygons from Paper: Book D, Lesson 13

If you homeschool and are not using Right Start Math, you are missing a real treat. YES.... I said it! Math can be a treat! I have been 7 years in this struggle with math curriculum after math curriculum, drudgery upon drudgery, grumble upon grumble.

Sound familiar?

I found Right Start Math when my 11 1/2 year old daughter was one LONG year into struggling with memorizing her multiplication tables and could not master any math concepts. I started her on Level D and she is almost done a year and a half later! I am happy to say she has mastered everything that she has learned.

Right Start Math has a yahoo support group. I sometimes found myself getting discouraged when I read that there were 9 year olds in level D. But, I kept pressing on confident that this was the right program for our daughter. I am only sad that I did not begin this program 8 years ago when I first began homeschooling.

It does require a little more involvement from the teacher than some other popular homeschool math programs, but the joy in helping her, without tears, was well worth my time and effort. I also learned  many new concepts and ways to "think" and process how to do math. We had great conversations each day and many of the exercises and warm ups are to build critical thinking skills. There is no need for an extra "critical thinking" curriculum; it is woven very nicely into Right Start Math.

This program has many fun geometry and metric activities that most of the other math programs do not have. This program will build them with a strong foundation in measuring and using rulers. The fraction lessons are fabulous!  I could go on and on and on about all the great activities, but I will suffice to say, if you are thinking about switching an older ( pre-teen) from an elementary math program because they are just NOT getting it....DO IT. Right Start Math is the BEST hands on VISUAL math curriculum available. It really covers all the learning styles and will work for any student.

Using the cut out shapes to measure in Tenths of a centimeter, and find the perimeter
 Book D, Lesson 134

Monday, February 20, 2012

Picture and Art Study: Art Appreciation for kids

I love using the Charlotte Mason method for picture study. It is so simple and yet, it makes such a profound impact on the students. My girls are teens, and we just recently started picture study. I have been using AmblesideOnline for our picture study, but recently discovered a very EASY and affordable way to to do picture study.

Simply Charlotte Mason has put together six wonderful artist studies. We just finished studying Giotto. It sparked some good dialogue and we learned about frescos, and learned to tell the difference between Byzantine and Medieval art techniques.

I highly recommend this curriculum, even if you do not homeschool. This is a simple way to introduce your children to art appreciation.