Thursday, February 11, 2010

“If there is any boy or man who loves to be melancholy and morose, and who cannot enter into the regions of fun, let me seriously advise him to shut my book and put it away. It was not meant for him.” —R.M. Ballantyne, from the preface to The Coral Islands

So why do you Homeschool anyway?

As I sit here today munchin' on some roasted edamame and sippin' some strawberry tea (it helps me think...the munchin' and the sippin') I've got this sugar cookie flavored scenty plugged in right next to my bed. An inspiring smelly-good for that wet dog cooped up wintry house smell (thanks Mom). I'm listening to my new Tal & Acacia CD (Thanks Mom-n-law) Aren't Moms great? I've got my toes tucked into my nice warm blanket and a pile of books at my side...the phone rings. It's another inquirer asking me to tell them about "this homeschool thing".
I have found myself on more than one occasion here lately stating "boy I'm glad we homeschool" Today was another one of those days that reminds me why we do what we do. So I was already all jazzed up before picking up the phone, not to mention completely comfortable with all my goodies and such......So why do we homeschool anyway? This is a question asked so often you would think by now I would have condensed my answer. In all honesty quite the opposite is true. The longer I home educate, the more dragged out my speech becomes.
I really never have minded the questioning. I have always looked at it as an opportunity to shed some light for others and a constant refresher/reminder for myself. It doesn't take very long to find out if the person asking is truly inquiring or just out to fulfill an agenda. Often times those who are indeed acquisitive never really get my full answer as parenting often interrupts conversations. So....this is for you. All those curious somebodies who want to know why we do what we do.
  • The liberty to teach history from a providential perspective. That is to acknowledge God's divine hand in all times, with all people for his purpose.
  • Also to teach history chronologically in a cyclical manner ever increasing the knowledge level as the years go by. To teach history with a text book as a mere spine of reference. To teach history with autobiographies, biographies, historical fiction and non fiction alike replacing the fragmented boring textbook. Purposely including actual all to often forgotten subject. To teach history by visiting museums as well as historical sites. To teach history by watching movies and incorporating hands on activities. The joy in showing the why, the who and not just the date.
  • The opportunity to teach science through both the evolutionists and creationists point of view. To teach about God the creator of heaven and earth. To take God at his word, that is "all was created in literally six days". However to also teach what evolutionist believe to be in.. yes we read books like Origin of species by Charles Darwin. To teach that the evolutionist and the creationist believe in the same science. It is the faith of the evolutionist and the creationist that differs, which ultimately draws very different conclusions. Neither the evolutionist or the creationist was present to provide scientific fact for the question of origins, this is why we go to the words of someone who was there. We relish the freedom to do just that through the book God has preserved for us.We take joy in teaching an appreciation for Gods wonderful array of colorful people (physical as well as spiritual). Each as completely different and carefully crafted as the tiny snowflakes we all take for granted. So special is each human life that we take time to teach about the rights of even the tiniest, sickliest and oldest. To teach free from abortion & euthanasia propaganda. To teach our children to love their neighbor whether red, yellow, black, white, handicapped, gifted, rich, poor. To be the one who teaches them about sex education free of homosexual propaganda.
  • Also to teach science through  hands on, real life experimentation and  in a lab with other students or at home. To teach science through back yard astronomy and kitchen chemistry. To teach science through nature studies as in observation and drawing, journaling  or diagramming findings. To teach science through fun kits growing lady bugs, earth worms, silk worms, butterflies, moths and frogs. Watching with intent as kittens, puppies and chicks are born. Nurturing goats, rabbits, birds and rats. To teach science by growing gardens, crystals and mold. To teach about biomes by visiting caves, great valley grass lands, deserts, high mountain peaks, canyons, oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks and streams. To teach science through visiting Dad's clients, occupational field trips, museums, theme parks (physics) zoos, farms and rescue shelters. To teach science by building things and home improvement projects.To read wonderful books and watch fascinating movies.
  • Power to pursue and cultivate God given talents, skills and aesthetic endeavors. No homeschool parent I know is arrogant enough to believe they can do everything on their own. However they do know what they can do well. An intricate system of bartering goes on trading subjects as needed and fits within each families dynamics. This is also how many co-ops are started providing holiday parties, graduation ceremonies etc. Not to mention the plethora of tutoring, private lessons and community classes that are available. This is Free Enterprise at its best.
  • Togetherness. Our family is a team. Yes sometimes our days are completely frustrating. As someone once said "giving air to why tigers eat their young" Yet other times our life is radiating with joy and hysterical laughter. We have so many memories we hold in common. Yes we are a typical busy family. However homeschooling allows us to grab time when others are locked away in school. Dinner is hard for us...yes I know typical. Yet we have breakfast and lunch together. We have time for devotional every morning with Dad. We have days on our calendar set aside for just the four of us. We hold our secret days in close regard.
  • One of the blessings I love most is the independence to go on little mini learning adventures. Freedom to break the chains claiming learning happens in a certain time frame, on a certain day, at a a classroom. Learning is happening all around us. Weather we are sitting around the dining table, watching a movie, walking to the park or driving around town, learning continues, it is a natural flow. A love of learning is born when you break away from methods that cause kids to burn out well before middle school. For the record, yes we have a school room. It houses a TV with cable, DVD & VHS for school media. Science equipment, an atlas and globe can be found in the room. We also house workout videos for raining day PE, dictionary, thesaurus, art supplies and office supplies in there. Of course that's where the school day could take place...and it does at times. At home schoolwork is also done floating in the pool, laying in the hammock, sitting on the roof or up in a tree. Yet school work is also done away from home sitting at a beach, resting on a boulder, with toes wiggling in a pond or driving in a car. I love finding new places to explore with my children.
  • People. Yes I list people as one of the blessing of home education. People who pour themselves into the homeschool movement. People who dedicate countless hours organizing, planning and carrying through all sorts of wonderful opportunities for others to enjoy. People who pioneered the modern homeschool movement, which allowed me to come into the picture with ease. Thank you for your sacrifice, time in court and diligence to get companies to sell us curriculum...and actually write some of your own. People I've never met, thank you for my freedom to homeschool independent of governmental dictation at the expense of your families. People who make the decision to homeschool so much easier because you choose to mentor. People who listen to  crying spent mamas' and then reel them back in. People who write books, speak at seminars and create co-ops. I couldn't...probably wouldn't do it without you clearing the path.
  • Desire to alleviate stress by allowing each of my sons to grow at his own speed. We have one who flies through most everything and one who needs lots of extra time...homeschooling allows for both. To learn without the restraints of bells and schedules set in place to herd a room full of kids. To remove busy work meant to silence a flock of burned out, bored students. Joy to learn in a way that reaches each child best. Battling the daily grind without breaking the child's spirit.To learn at whatever speed needed in each individual subject without unnecessary pressure and in effect enjoying the learning process. Yes time to complete each task well. There is no need to move onto the next spelling test just because its Monday. To learn without the lack of restrictions in moving forward in a section of a math text even if someone else couldn't keep up, in example.
  • Freedom to be a boy. Boys aren't meant to sit still  day after day, week after week, year after year. Could this be contributing to the national problem with (mostly boys) and ADD/ADHD?? Homeschooling allows freedom to run laps or jump on a trampoline between each subject taught. Brilliance is setting up a schedule with plenty of physical endurance (sports and home improvement) and lots of time to explore the outdoors for boys. 
  • To nourish and cherish brotherhood. Our boys fight...HELLO! However they are also truly friends. They have such a great time together exploring and learning or simply hanging out.Homeschooling provides time to tend to this.
  • The right to teach phonics instead of the sight word mumbo-jumbo. To use phonics as the building blocks they are meant to be. Time to read, read, read! Oh and reading is so much more enjoyable when you are ACTUALLY taught to read! To start teaching Grammar AFTER phonics is learned. Lots of time to write, just to learn to express ones self. Appreciating the difference in this and  the refining skill of the eloquent written word. Teaching true logic and then the classic method of rhetoric. Giving real skill sets no longer taught in most schools.
  • Teaching self motivating skills. Striving for self starting skills gradually growing into the natural process of independence.
  • To foster great character. To teach wisdom and discernment. Christian homeschool kids are not immune to the sin curse, of course. Likewise they are not hidden from all sorts of evils prevalent in this world, we all fall short.  We aim to show mercy, grace and compassion. We strive to promote fellowship with their peers...yes. Yet also to seek ways to show kindness to those much younger and quite older then themselves. To take notice, to be aware and to act accordingly. Homeschooling allows for time to grow into the "salt" and "light". Giving them strong legs to stand on so they won't be swayed to and fro with every passing wind by saturating them in the ways of God.
  • To teach governmental law, civics and economics by studying speeches, sitting in on council meetings both local and at the state and going to tea parties and the like. Again by reading great books, watching outstanding movies, keeping up on current events and going on plenty of field trips. Teaching public speaking through debate and speech club to give voice in defining ones morals and standards. To insure they know their constitutional rights. 
  • Time for unrushed prayer. Using a prayer board that we pin names or pictures on to remind us of all the people we want to lift up. By keeping a prayer and praise journal as an easy way to release our troubles and also to recognize Gods blessings. 
“Boys [should be] inured from childhood to trifling risks and slight dangers of every possible description, such as tumbling into ponds and off of trees, etc., in order to strengthen their nervous system... They ought to practice leaping off heights into deep water. They ought never to hesitate to cross a stream over a narrow unsafe plank for fear of a ducking. They ought never to decline to climb up a tree, to pull fruit merely because there is a possibility of their falling off and breaking their necks. I firmly believe that boys were intended to encounter all kinds of risks, in order to prepare them to meet and grapple with risks and dangers incident to man’s career with cool, cautious self-possession...” —R. M. Ballantyne

Friday, February 5, 2010

They really are tasty little morsels

Brussels sprouts.
Yes I'm serious.
I can't even begin tell you how many people have suggested they "smell like dirty socks & taste even worse".  I've never had that experience myself. Out of curiosity I did manage to get a few ladies to share with me the way they were taught to serve these yummy veggies up.
Interesting fact.
They all made them the same way.
I recently bought a bag of Brussels sprouts. I did something I've never done before. I flipped the bag over to see if cooking instructions were provided. Sure enough, there read the same ol' recommendation I've been hearing about time and time again.
Well my dear sweet readers this is one instance I am going to insist you don't listen to your elders. Just abandon their Brussels sprout ideals. Do not fear the outcome instead rejoice in the freedom of a new day, a new way! Step away from the old plan all you Brussels sprout haters.
Yes it's true there is another way, you don't have to boil them. My Grandmother taught me how to make Brussels sprouts while spending a weekend with her, when I was a young girl. That is how I've continued making them all these years later. It never occurred to me that Grandma's way wasn't the norm, I didn't get the memo. As a matter of fact Regina is the only friend I've ever met who cooked hers up "like Grandma used to make." Go figure.
So what did Grandma do anyway? Well. She cut them in half and sauteed them in butter, minced garlic and salt. That's all folks.
Sometimes butter really is the only answer. Go ahead give it a try...I dare you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If you don't know...well now you know

   I love me some game playin'! I 've been known to get a little excited while at it too. I'm probably the most exuberant of the bunch, like a crazy person at moments. Yes, she of the Vincent tribe is a real game goober. So it's great that I married a man who also enjoys an impromptu flee to the game closet...or bookcase, cuz that's where the pretty ones are stored...or that one over on the side table. Psst...I love you Jeff! Oh! Is it any wonder that we have raised us up a couple of gamers?
    Now I'm not talkin' bout this highfalutin' new fangled video game phenomena. Rather I'm referencing the plethora of card games and board games available to families. Games where wisdom is dispensed, brains are stretched and families conversate therefore bonding. Yeah, that type.
   It's amazing to me when I hear that families don't play games together anymore. Especially when you consider the games on the market for every age and any personality. I remember watching my Grandfather play Parcheesi on his front porch with the neighborhood men, I tell my boys this every time we play. I'm sure they rolls their eyes. I remember playing the memory game with my Grandma as a little girl. Then watching her play the same game with my sons. Now I watch them play the same game with their toddler cousins. Then reminisce with their older cousins about "games" gone by. My brother, Eric, bought Billy & Ricky a game called "Don't wake Daddy" when they were little. It was kinda like their real life, because Daddy worked nights at the time!
  Apparently word leaked out that Billy likes playing games. For every year that he was part of We Got The Beat, a children's percussion group, he received a Connect Four game. Yes. Every year. Not only that, but one year he also received a Connect Four game from my brother Jimmy, My Mom and the Shugert family. Although it was a pain to return each and every extra Connect Four game we kinda miss the "tradition" now that Billy has out grown the game. Speaking of  little ones, when Ricky was just 5 and 6 years old he played with CHEFA's Chess team. I still remember my tiny guy carrying his own chess board. He was so serious about his "appointment". This was big time! I remember playing Hi Ho Cheerios, Candyland and Go Fish. Too bad no one will play those anymore. They are still fun. P.S. Isn't it funny how many little kids call Go Fish "Gold Fish"
  Though none of us have enough time to do a Chess club or any thing of the like we still find time here or there to play a game. Both boys look forward to games night with friends and family. These can be well planned out or super last minute. Games are just fun. Come on you know its true. Just give yourself over to them. Of course pretty much every American knows the joys of classics like Uno, Twister and Stratego. Maybe you've even heard about Swap, Blockus or Settlers of Catan. If you've happened by our house and stuck around long enough for the games to pop out you've probably been harassed persuaded to play those along with us. If you've ever been on a road trip or camping with us then surely your have played candy poker, Hit the Deck or Charades. The last game night we went to Ricky played Categories and had a blast. None of us had ever played before. Hmmmm, Grandma's take note!

  *Side stepping for a sec. The Grandma's buy games at Christmas that are not to be tampered with until New Years Eve. This is an  awesome  tradition that started when we had tots we needed to entertain on a long night.

   We always enjoy ourselves. However the best times are on rare lazy days and it kinda just happens. Hang out with my teenagers. Eat food. Play cards. I love that!

These are only a few stories I chose to paint. We have enough for a gallery. If I have succeeded in convincing you to grab your people and get your game on. A nice thought of gathering around a table in time for some Super Bowl half time bonding. Here is our list of THE 12 BEST GAMES EVER (and also how my boys were introduced to each game) for you to utilize. No. I mean it. Go for it baby!

  *Battleship (a few tutorial lessons from Bobby & Henry , then it was passed down)

  *Uno (from me!!! "All is fair in love & Uno")

  *Hit the Deck (Meme put it in their stocking)

  *Swap (Bought to play with my aging Grandmother. We we searching for a way to enjoy spending time with her. Most especially time for her to share with my boys before God called her home....She cheated at that game, I tell ya she did. That turkey!)

  *Apples to Apples (Again Meme one Christmas. This game is played almost every time the kids have a party or sleep over)

  *Monopoly (Uncle Jimmy. This is like the longest game known to man kind. They play it every time CJ comes to stay with us...for the week. Or when we used to go to the beach with Jeff's parents...for the week!!

  *Risk (Granny bought this for Christmas in a nice wooden box...she is responsible for all the wooden games on our shelves)

   *Clue (Another Granny Christmas purchase. She even bought them the movie "Clue" which just made the game even more fun)

   *The Memory Game (Grandma T. (as B&R call her) gave me the original one she played with my siblings and I when we were little. Hey come to think of it she had a game closet too. Maybe this is all her fault influence. You know I do realize my kids are too big for this game. However I say it belongs on this list do to its sheer power to get them to sit still FOR A VERY LONG TIME!)

   *Blink (A stocking gift from us. I was Billy has passed me up. Someone please go buy this game and study hard. When you at once become awesome, come immediately to my house and give Billy a proper beating! I will provide food)

   *Candy Poker (Papa Jim & Aunt Ceci taught them how to play a few different games actually. The fire caught and now they host gatherings with each guest bringing their sweet of choice, basically everyone ends up with a trail mix of sorts.

    *Chess (Papa Jeff, Dad (Jeff) and Aunt Mary all added to this knowledge. My sister Bethany bought the game)