Monday, November 6, 2017

StackExchange: Homeschool - Area 51

Back when my oldest was in first grade, I started an American Girl book club in my home. It was one of the BEST things I did as a new-ish homeschooler because it led me to some of my dearest homeschooling friends.

One of these dear friends, Rachel Spigarelli, has since moved to Virginia where she continues to be a star homeschooler and local advocate for the homeschooling community. Now that our family is on the east coast as well, we occasionally bump into each other.  This past May, for example, we met up  at the LDSHE conference that was held in Williamsburg VA.

This morning I had the pleasure of hearing from her via email and wanted to share with you her latest and greatest effort to support and nourish the homeschool community nation wide! This sounds like a wonderful effort to be part of and I look forward to helping it grow. Please consider joining this effort as well.

Here's the message from Rachel:

"This new community will be different than a forum, a help desk, or a facebook group. We will be able to use it to sort questions, rank answers, and filter information. Both beginner and advanced homeschoolers will be able to find an audience for their concerns and worries, their fact-based inquiries, and learn details of implementation of different educational methods. We are hoping that the StackExchange Homeschool site will help homeschoolers nationwide find reliable information. There is no limit on who can join StackExchange, and children as old as 13 can participate. You don't even have to create a new user account, you can log in through your gmail. Once they gain momentum, sites like this are most often naturally self-moderating, because of the gamification set-up. Our group is just getting going, and we need to demonstrate it's importance. We are in the definition phase, where the topic and audience are still being decided. If you're willing to help, what we need right now is for you to submit your five best questions that would define a group about homeschooling. What do you think most homeschoolers want to know? What are some of your most pressing questions this year? Your questions should be answerable, and not be opinion based. Think of something that you, as an experienced homeschooler, have needed to figure out. You can only submit five questions, but you can edit and alter your questions after submission. Also, please vote on the other questions already submitted, helping to define what an "expert" homeschooler would want to know. This whole process will take less than 20 minutes. Please follow this link and join our 
Homeschool Stackexchange group.

. Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: Homeschool

Sunday, November 5, 2017

C.S. Lewis Explains How Governments Create ‘Tame Human Animals’

Have you ever considered what type of school you would send your child to if you didn’t have to worry about cost?
That question is one which EdChoice annually asks the American public. This year, they found that 83 percent of parents have a child attending public schools, but only 28 percent would keep that child in public school if money was no issue.
I was reminded of this interesting disparity when I came across an essay by C.S. Lewis entitled, Is Progress Possible? In the course of the essay, Lewis explains how modern government has become one in which the experts are in charge and determined to conform us to their mold:
“The modern State exists not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us good – anyway, to do something to us or to make us something. Hence the new name ‘leaders’ for those who were once ‘rulers’. We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils, or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, ‘Mind your own business.’ Our whole lives are their business.”
Lewis goes on to say that there are two problems we encounter when our government gets to this stage. The first is that we no longer know how to act on our own. The second is that we can’t think for ourselves because we have been indoctrinated by government education:
“Here, I think, lies our real dilemma. Probably we cannot, certainly we shall not, retrace our steps. We are tamed animals (some with kind, some with cruel, masters) and should probably starve if we got out of our cage. That is one horn of the dilemma. But in an increasingly planned society, how much of what I value can survive? That is the other horn.
I believe a man is happier, and happy in a richer way, if he has ‘the freeborn mind’. But I doubt whether he can have this without economic independence, which the new society is abolishing. For economic independence allows an education not controlled by Government; and in adult life it is the man who needs, and asks, nothing of Government who can criticize its acts and snap his fingers at its ideology.
Such an observation should cause us to stop and think. The government has kindly offered its education to the masses “free of charge” for years. But has that “free” education come at the expense of free thought? If we want our children to be free and independent thinkers who are able to recognize and repudiate the flaws in government, do we, as Lewis implies, need to remove them from government schools?
Image Credit: Cuito Cuanavale (cropped)

This post C.S. Lewis Explains How Governments Create ‘Tame Human Animals’ was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Co-op for Littles

If my oldest was only two, I wouldn't consider a homeschool co-op to be necessary.  But my older children get a lot out of the experience and we FINALLY found one that works pretty well for our family here in NC.  (It only took me a year to find it and get in....)

So the 2 yo just gets to come along and it's an added bonus to her "school" week.  Turns out that she really likes it.  And my job is to work in her room for 2 out of the 3 hours of class time.  Imagine that!  Play time with friends AND with mommy.  Double bonus for her!

Anyway, a couple weeks ago the toddler class was invited to join some of the slightly older kids in a fire truck/fighter demonstration.  It was hot as blazes outside (in OCTOBER) and I was not enjoying the heat, but these littles did such a good job of listening and participating! I was proud of them.

Our little is learning a bit more about friendship too.  She's learning to share toys that she likes and how to be inclusive.

These two are drawn to this little teeter totter every week!

Fall Daze

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love all things fall. But fall in the south is a little different. This video kinda sums it up.
 You get the idea. The first half of October was still hot enough to run the AC and eat salad for dinner. But we pretend it's fall here by still doing all of our favorite fall activities.

 I'm late getting these pictures up, but here's our HS group field trip to the corn maze. I didn't actually get any pictures of the maze! It was more challenging than I thought it would be. We enjoyed it though.

The kids really had fun doing all the other activities there at the farm. To all the fall fans out there: May your fall be brisk and bright!

Below: The corn pit was a HUGE hit.

Below: Rubber duck races on these water tracks that were propelled by hand pumps.

Below: They hay ride!  The "pumpkin patch" turned out to be a grassy area laden with already picked pumpkins of a rather small size.  Sigh.  not what we were hoping for or used to.  So we had to follow up this experience with another trip to a real pumpkin patch.  Pictures of that will have to follow another day.

I hope your fall is full of fun family memories this year!  And I hope your weather cooperates :(

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Why Do I Keep Homeschooling After Ten Years??

I know we all have those days when we wish we didn't homeschool.  Like today for example.  I don't even know how we fit it all in!  At 5:40 am my husband takes my higschooler to a bible study class.  At 8:30 am I was on my way with all the kids to a field trip at the corn maze, followed by piano lessons, then poopy diapers, naps, laundry, math lessons, reading lessons, volunteering at the horse barn, cooking, vacuuming, volleyball games, and late night grocery shopping.  Somewhere in there we ate meals.  I think.  Tomorrow will be more of the same, but there will be different activities: Band, Scouts, etc.

Did my mom ever have a day like this?  Nah.  I was explaining to my husband today that her policy was to never rise from bed before we had all been shuffled off to school with a dollar-twenty-five in lunch money and a hug from dad before boarding the bus.  She didn't see me during the week until after cross country practice (or softball, or basketball, or debate club, or rehearsal, or whatever...).  I ate a quick dinner, did my chores, showered, and spent several long hours doing homework in my room.  Pretty hands off for my mom, I think....

So why do I do this homeschool thing?  Why don't I shuffle my kids off to school and spend my days doing what I want to do?  Cause I could!  And then I'd have time for exercising, reading, gardening, shopping at normal hours, meal planning with calmness instead of in a flurry, serving on some community board, or going back to school.  WHY am I a homeschool mom?

Well, three things in the past 24 hours have come to my attention that have really affirmed my decision to homeschool.  Let me go over them here...just for good measure.  Cause I really don't need any more reasons. I already have plenty.  But it's always good to grow the list so that I can draw upon it when I have exhausting days like this one and I am tempted to strap my kids to the back of a yellow bus and say goodbye for 5+ hours while I soak in the tub and eat fudgesickles.

1) I read an article and saw a news cast about a boy in Georgia who was bullied in school because he and only one other child in his 5th grade classroom still had the decency to stand and salute the flag during morning Pledge of Allegiance.  For real?  To make it worse, the teacher then began to explain why she would never stand for the pledge or respect our nation's flag. that why we send kids to school?  To be brainwashed by teachers into hating our country?

2) My 9th grade daughter has a bestie that goes to public school.  This friend told my daughter that one of her teachers was caught smoking pot in the bathroom during school hours.  Everyone could smell it, and it was obvious when the teacher came into class that he was "altered".  Did the teacher get punished? No.  This friend laughed about the experience.
Is this why we send our kids to school? To desensitize their moral compass and expose them to these bottom-of-the-barrel teachers who then flood these young minds with cultural ROT?

3) As I mentioned above, today we took a field trip with homeschool friends to visit a corn maze. It was really fun and what a beautiful fall morning to be outside enjoying the sun and the season with good people.  But we weren't the only group there.  While my kids were having lunch and playing on the swings, I heard two other children playing near by.  These kids were probably between 5 and 7 years old. One of them said, "So Billy, we live together and have kids, but we never get married.  OK?"
WOW!  Is that how kids play 'house' these days?  The worst part was the mothers' reactions to these kids' imaginings.
Mom 1: "Did you hear that? Did you hear what she just said?"
Mom 2: "No, what?"
Mom 1: With a big grin, "She just said, "Hey, we live together but we never get married." Giggle.
Mom 2: "No way! Really? As in, they're living in sin together? That is hilarious!"  Laughing.
Mom 1: "I know, right! SO funny!"

Wow.  Just wow.  Now, I don't know if these kids were public schooled or not. I don't know where they got this information or learned to act it out.  But I can imagine.

Being homeschooled doesn't make you a saint! That's for sure.  But it sure does allow you to filter your environment to such a degree that your moral compass, your knowledge of Truth (with a capital T) and Higher Law, your understanding of  God's world and your place in it will flourish much more than if you were to be thrown into a mix of "do-what-feels-good-ism", commonly found in today's public schools.

And there my friends, are three more examples, or reasons, why I continue to do what I do.  We are in our 10th year of homeschool.  I've got another 18 to go!  (Number 7 is due in November!!!)  It's a daunting thought.  But I do believe that all things are possible through Christ, which strengtheneth me.  And I do believe that the time and season will come when my burdens are less, my time is more abundant, and my own ambitions will manifest.  For now, I pray for strength to play out the role I've been given at this time in my life.

It's late.  My pillow calls me.

Kudos to all of you homeschooling parents.  I know it's hard.  But I believe our efforts will NOT  be in vain.  The world so desperately needs strong, solid kids to stand up to the cultural decay and remind the world that America, and all she represents,  can only be Great when America is Good.  Carry on!!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bayer Bee Research Center in Durham NC

Always on the hunt for free, fun, and educational field trips, I jumped on the chance to visit a local bee research facility.  By the way, if you can't get there in person you can take a virtual tour of it by visiting this link:

After a field trip I always regret not getting more pictures that really tell the story of our experience.  But between watching the littles, managing the camera and also trying to learn something myself, photos often become an after thought.

Anyway, here's a bit about our experience:

The tour starts with a great 10-15 minute presentation describing the pollination process, different kinds of bees in the hive, threats to bee health, and what we can do to help bees thrive.  Above you can see our youngest volunteering to be one of the bees that takes care of the baby bees.  Older sister is there for moral support.

We then moved outside to the screened in observation area.  There was a cool praying mantis on display for our enjoyment as well!  Gotta love NC insect diversity!

It was a pleasant day indeed.  Mid 70s with a gentle breeze; felt like a bit of PNW home.  What a pretty setting.

Our tour guide geared up and went outside to hunt for the queen bee.  We couldn't find her.  The guide explained that the "cold" weather was forcing her to stay warm inside of the clumps of bees where we couldn't see her.  Oh well.  But we could see she had been busy! there were lots of new eggs and larvae.

This year my oldest is taking an early morning seminary class that starts at 6am Mon-Fri.  She's still adjusting to the schedule, as you can see here.  What a great day for a little nap in a rocking chair by a beautiful garden.

Exploring the garden!  There were lots of bees.  Made me a tad nervous.


So, I wish that I had pictures of the kids enjoying their free honey samples, free honey sticks, free fuzzy bee stickers, and free squishy sunflowers.  Lots of free goodies after the tour.  Wish I had some cute pictures of the friends who made the trip with us.  And it would have been cool to get some pics of the cool research facility.   Wow, it's really a neat facility with beautiful grounds! I wouldn't mind working there myself!

In summary: Feed a bee so they can feed you!  Plant flowers today :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

We didn't travel to see the eclipse in its path of totality.  We stayed local and went to a park with a big open field where we'd be sure to have a good view but also hear and feel the reaction of others as this very cool event took place.  Lucky us: We were fortunate enough to be serenaded by our fellow viewers with a rousing rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as we reached peak coverage.

We were expecting 93% coverage here, and even though it didn't get totally dark, it was really cool to witness the change in light and temperature.  I have to say, that I really don't mind having just 7% of the sun's rays beating on me in August.  It was like someone had drawn the shades over a hot window.  Things cooled off, I didn't have to wear my sunglasses, and a slight breeze began to blow.  Perfect!  That's the kind of weather I wish we had every day!

So here are some photos of the big day. We didn't do a whole unit on the sun or the moon in preparation.  I figured the Apologia Astronomy class we did a couple years ago would have to suffice.  Interestingly, my oldest daughter just started an astronomy class this month and she's using MasterBooks as her curriculum.  She is really enjoying it so far and this was the ultimate lab!

We had a cool set up with our binoculars projecting an image onto poster board.  The only problem was that they were taped a little loosely onto the tripod and somebody had to hold it in place THE ENTIRE TIME or we'd lose the image.


The free glasses that we picked up at the library were great!  I'm pretty sure they were authentic, and not lame counterfeit glasses.  Some of us wanted to be extra safe though and put the glasses through paper plates to really keep out those rays!


Dang it! We had made a slew of pinhole viewers too, but we left them at home.  So we didn't get to try those out.

Here's what our little did during the eclipse.  But when we got home she kept reenacting the whole thing by looking up at the ceiling, covering her eyes with her hands and saying, "bright! bright!".   Ok....