Monday, September 29, 2014

Justice Courage

Our newest little (big) blessing is already over a month old!!  He is a beautiful, precious boy named Justice Courage.  He was born at home (on purpose) mid-August, and weighed 10 lb 2 oz.  Here are some photos of him from the very early days after he was born.


 






Isn't he darling?  We are so thankful to God for this precious blessing from Him.

"Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him...
For the Lord loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints..." Psalm 37:5-7a, 28a

"'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.'" Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Homeschool 2014-15: One Large Family's Plans

We are having a school break this summer while we anticipate the arrival of our baby.  We will probably not begin most parts of our more traditional schooling officially until about a month after his birth -- whenever that is.  Maybe, we'll take the entire month of September to enjoy our baby! :) When we start, we will probably ease into it, and try to remain flexible.  Yes, this may mean no extended summer break next summer.  But we're used to that, as we don't usually have a break of this length in the summer anyway. 

Below are my plans (or, perhaps more accurate, hopes and dreams) for the upcoming year.  Not a whole lot has changed in what we use for curricula.   Mostly we are planning to use things along similar lines, with people simply progressing in their various areas.  I haven't seen reason to change a lot.  Most things are going pretty smoothly with our materials.  My biggest problem is just getting it all in, but that's not a curriculum issue in this case.  It's that I always want to do more than it's possible to get done.  However, after spending considerable time this summer considering what my older students need in order to meet requirements for their high school transcripts, I am pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling more confident, and that it's not as big a deal as I had made it out in my mind to be.  Meeting my own standards beyond what's needed for transcripts is what is ultimately more challenging -- all those non-transcript-ables I'd like to teach them before they leave home -- things that are often more important than the academic side, but which are also often at least as difficult to learn, and areas in which I have so much yet to learn myself.  I want to do as much as I can to help them have a really good foundation for their whole lives when they leave home.  That thought, I still find quite overwhelming.  The fact is that the job seems too much for me -- and for my husband and I together.  We'll probably never feel like we're done.  But I hope we will lean on the Lord, Who delights in taking the weak and showing His power, and remember that His grace will be sufficient while we also work diligently.

Hmm, I'm quickly digressing from what I intended when I started this post.  I was getting ready to tell you my plans.  But you see, this is the result of years of anticipating this year -- when my oldest starts high school.  It's finally here.  She's 14 years old, and I can't help but think that if she should happen to marry at the same age I did (not that I'm planning on that, or even hoping for it, mind you), that's only about 4.5 years away!  I know a lot can happen in that time.  But it's sobering to me.  I have a lot of work to do.  And I have not one, but two high school students.  You'll see more about that later -- if you don't tire of this endless, rambling post first. :)

Moving on to those plans.  I'm listing the items under each student this time, which may be redundant for reading, because there are many similarities.  But it's a help to me.  I'll start with the little ones.

We hope to add another Bible to this stack before too long. :)
Newborn Baby (we hope to name him eventually... apparently, choosing names doesn't get any easier the more children you have, though, because currently we're still undecided -- and no, he isn't born yet, so this is not an announcement -- please understand, I'm just making a plan here):
  • Bible time -- absorbing more than we probably realize, except maybe when he's sleeping. :)
  • Bible Memory, etc. -- just listening and taking it all in.
  • Training -- best started early!
  • Nursing -- lots.
  • Naps -- I hope he's a good sleeper.  Let's plan on that, okay? ;)
  • Cuddles, snuggles, hugs and kisses -- lots of these, too! :)
  • Diaper changes -- many opportunities for siblings to gain skill at caring for babies, right?  I guess Mom will probably take at least most middle-of-the-night blowouts.  Maybe share them w/Dad -- but he usually sleeps through them quite well, ha.
  • Rocking.  Swinging.  Being held and carried.
  • Tummy time.  Progressing oh, so quickly to rolling, crawling, sitting, standing, walking...
  • Lots to see, hear, and experience through all senses.  So much to learn about life.
  • Lots and lots and lots of love. :)

This is a sampling of some activities I had on hand for Abraham last year.  He still plays with these some.

Abraham, age 3, Preschool (he's not quite 3 yet, but Lord willing he will be soon, and before we start school)
  • Bible time -- improvement in ability to sit quietly as an important part of this time.  We want to buy him his own personalized Bible soon. Around his birthday may be a good time -- usually we get each child his/her own when they are between 2 and 3 years old.  I thought of this today when I was taking the above photo of the family Bibles, and don't want to forget in the upcoming weeks.  Maybe noting it here will help.
  • Bible Memory/Story/Questions, and perhaps other memory items also -- the younger ones (any who aren't solid readers) have this time together.
  • Training -- Habits and Character:  emphasis on learning first-time Obedience, Sharing, hopefully improvement in Order and Neatness, etc.
  • Chores -- learning to help.
  • Learning to be a Big Brother.  I think he will be very interested in his little brother.  I'm still a little concerned because he is probably the least gentle child I've ever had -- and yet, so far around babies, I've been pretty impressed at how hard he tries to be very tender with them and how successful he is for the most part at being gentle.
  • Reading -- being read to by Dad/Mom and siblings.  Also looking at books independently.
  • Motor Skills -- lots of opportunity for both large and small motor skill development.
  • Play -- lots of this, too -- both indoor and outdoor -- swing set, sand table, toys and activities.  He will play both independently and with other family members.
  • Activities with Older Siblings.
  • Independent Activities -- probably mostly repeat activities involving play sets and other toys/games, etc. we have.
  • Ideas from Pinterest, perhaps?  The following boards of mine are places I may look to for inspiration: Learning for Littles, Art, or Other Activities for Children
  • Educational videos in moderation. 
  • Workbook work perhaps, or other more structured early learning, if he seems ready.  I won't be surprised if he's not, though -- he's a man of action and very physically active. 
A man and his shovel.  He's got some diggin' to do.




Liberty, age 5, Kindergarten

  • Bible time.
  • Bible Memory/Story/Questions, and perhaps other memory items also -- the younger ones (any who aren't solid readers) have this time together.
  • Training -- Habits and Character: several areas for improvement here, too (as for all of us in this family, definitely including me).
  • Chores -- improved skill, diligence, and responsibility.
  • Reading -- being read to, and also looking at books independently.  Reading practice as she gains skill.
  • Phonics:  Phonics Pathways -- our old standby.  It's basic, but effective.  She's in the early part of the book.
  • Letter/number/word activities, various. 
  • Listening in on reading aloud times with Tirzah's school at least some, as well as family read-alouds.  Some narration too, as it seems appropriate.  
  • Workbooks -- I collect these at various times, online or at stores -- for various basic early skills.  The younger ones enjoy them.  They aren't usually that fancy, although we have gotten some neat ones with cool stickers at times that are really fun. 

Some activities Liberty will likely still use some this year.
  • Copywork, some -- some of this will be included in workbooks, but additional practice will be good also at times.
  • Possibly more formal math if she's ready as the year goes on -- we'll just see how it goes. 
  • Play time:  she will still have her share of this, too.
Photo of Liberty about a year ago playing w/shells.  She still enjoys this sometimes.

  • Baby time:  learning more about how to care for a baby and doting on her new brother will very likely be one of her favorite things to do this school year.  She adores babies. :)
  • Educational videos in moderation, various Independent Activities, Activities with Siblings -- these things are good fits for her, too.
  • Participating on some level with activities older ones are involved in: nature journaling, cooking/baking, science experiments, animal care, some kind of craft, etc.
  • Piano:  just some time to play around and explore the instrument.


Some book selections for Tirzah for the upcoming year.

 Tirzah, age 7, grade 2
  • Bible time.  Practice looking up passages, following along -- reading practice here also as she becomes a more confident reader.
  • Bible Memory/Story/Questions, and perhaps other memory items also -- the younger ones (any who aren't solid independent readers) have this time together.
  • Training -- Habits and Character: several areas for improvement here, too (as for all of us in this family, definitely including me).
  • Chores -- improved skill, diligence, and responsibility.
  • Life Skills -- Various.  I'm sure it will include baby care. :) She also especially wants to learn more about cooking and sewing right now.  
  • Handicrafts -- She would also like to try knitting with needles (she knows finger knitting), and basket making (the older girls are interested in this, so that's probably where her interest came from).  I'm not sure if she's really going to be ready for either of those last two yet or not, but trying probably won't hurt if she wants to.
  • Reading -- being read to, and also looking at books independently, as well as reading practice, increasing as she gains skill.  
A special reading time w/Grandpa from last year.

  • Oral Narration, of at least many school books.
  • Phonics:  Phonics Pathways.  She is in the middle of this book and we should be able to easily finish it this year.
  • Copywork:  some workbook work covers this, and perhaps use Self-Instruction in Handwriting, too.  She'll do some other writing work also.
  • Math:  Math-U-See, finishing up level Alpha and moving on to Beta at whatever pace works for her/us.  Drilling basic facts addition and subtraction.
  • History:  readings largely from Ambleside Online, years 1/2.  Probably including at least portions of the following:
    • Island Story
    • This Country of Ours
    • Child's History of the World
  • Science:  some reading from Ambleside Online, but not emphasizing this as much as history readings.  So much science is just as well experienced/observed at this age.  Some readings might include at least portions of the following, as well as perhaps her own selections from our home library and/or the public one:
    • James Herriot's Treasury for Children (much of this she's had read to her before)
    • Burgess Bird Book and/or Animal Book
  • Literature:  some Ambleside Online selections from Years 1/2, and there will probably be others not from Ambleside in this category in the course of the year, as well as family read-alouds from different years.  These will likely feature:
    • Aesop's Fables, continuation (though we've read most at some point w/her, I think)
    • Understood Betsy
    • Heidi, perhaps, if she doesn't remember it well from the last reading of it...?  Not sure.  And/or maybe The Five Little Peppers, or Little Lord Fauntleroy -- it's been a while for both of those.  We'll see.  
  • Piano:  This has been an option for her to just play now and then informally for a while, but this year I may schedule it for her.  Likely still no formal instruction unless there's interest and time both, but just time for her to do her own thing and explore the instrument. 

Zion's book stack of some likely choices.

Zion, age 10, grade 5
  • Bible time.  Participate in reading aloud during group Bible time.  Also independent Bible reading.
  • Bible memory, and hopefully other memory assignments as well, but Bible verses regularly.  The older three have their own index card boxes for this.  We use a system similar to this one (we don't do odd/even, but move the cards straight to a tab for a day of the week after they are done with daily review).
  • Training -- Habits and Character: several areas for improvement here, too (as for all of us in this family, definitely including me).
  • Chores -- improvement in skill and responsibility.
  • Life Skills -- Various areas will be addressed, including baby care.  She mentioned more sewing.  She also mentioned she'd like to know more about some sports like basketball and maybe volleyball, and definitely swimming.  Swimming was one thing I really wanted to get in this summer.  We hoped to get a pool for our family, but so far we've been disappointed in what we've found while keeping an eye out for a good pool option for us.  It's looking like we'll have to wait until next summer for this and maybe budget more for it.  We'd like to get a basketball goal at some point, too -- likely a more reasonable option before the pool now.
Zion loves animals, and likes to spend time playing with and caring for them.  Bethany took this lovely photo.
  • Handicrafts -- She wants to learn basket making, and decoupage.
  • Reading -- free reading, as well as school books.  Also there are still read-alouds for the older ones.
  • Oral Narration, of at least many school books. 
  • Writing -- various options in this area -- they can choose to some degree what writing projects they do.  Some things are assigned as I feel necessary.  This year she will start doing some written narrations at some point.   I want to do better going over their writings promptly and working with them on errors.
  • Math:  Math-U-See, finishing Delta and moving on to Epsilon at a pace good for her.  Drilling all basic operation facts as needed, until she is quick enough to satisfy Mom.
  • History:  readings largely from Ambleside Online, years 4/5.  Including:
    • finishing George Washington's World
    • Abigail Adams bio -- perhaps some still aloud, some perhaps independently
    • Abraham Lincoln's World, maybe not all?
    • Story of the World Volume 4, only part this year
    • Some other biographies as time -- some choice allowed, AO selections and/or from our home library
  • Science:  
    • Continue with Apologia Zoology 1, Flying Creatures, at a good pace for her, until finished.  Afterward, she can choose whether she'd like to do another Apologia text or something else.
    • Science biographies, some, depending on choice.
    • Nature study/journaling.
  •  Literature plans include:
    • finish Robinson Crusoe (aloud)
    • Oliver Twist (probably aloud)
    • King Arthur by Green 
    • Children of the New Forest if time -- she hasn't read that one yet.
    • Age of Fable (probably aloud, slowly, with older siblings, as we haven't covered this already) 
    • perhaps choices from AO Free Reading from various mid-elementary years, if she needs/wants more
    • poetry, time-permitting  
  • Piano/Trumpet:  she does a little with both, but isn't hugely dedicated to either one at this point.  Last year I had trumpet scheduled for a little time regularly each week, and sometimes she'd do piano instead or also.  I need to touch base with her in this area and see what she'd like to do this year.
Peter's book stack of some possibilities.

Peter, age 12, grade 9 (Yes, Peter is skipping two grades.  This really isn't as big a deal as it may sound to those who are used to thinking in terms of rigid grade levels.  This is one reason I'm not a big fan of grade levels... but again, they communicate, and a 7th grader can't very well fill out a high school transcript or do college-level math, can he? ;)  But I have one thing I'd like to ask of you, my readers, and especially of friends and family -- please, don't make a huge deal about any of this, especially to him.  Young men tend to have enough trouble with ego without a big to-do being made over them.  He has nothing God hasn't given him, as with all of us.  The steps we are taking in his education have been made with careful consideration and prayer, in the hopes that they will be a help to him in his use of the gifts God has given him, not so that he can acquire an intolerable and crippling arrogance.  Those of you who love Peter, or any other talented young person for that matter, please keep these things in mind.  Thank you.)
  • Bible time.  Participate in reading aloud during group Bible time.  Also independent Bible reading.
  • Bible memory, and hopefully other memory assignments as well, but Bible verses regularly.  The older three have their own index card boxes for this.  We use a system similar to this one (we don't do odd/even, but move the cards straight to a tab for a day of the week after they are done with daily review).
  • Training -- Habits and Character: several areas for improvement here (as for all of us in this family, definitely including me).
  • Chores -- improvement in skill and responsibility.
  • Life Skills --  Various areas will be addressed, including baby care.  He mentioned that he'd like to know more about how computers and electronics work. 
  • Handicrafts -- assembling a model plane (we need to get the paint so he can do this -- he's had the model a while), perhaps other things.
  • Reading -- free reading, as well as school books.  Also there are still read-alouds for the older ones.
  • Oral Narration, of at least many school books. 
  • Writing -- various options in this area -- they can choose to some degree what writing projects they do.  Some things are assigned as I feel necessary.  Written narrations of readings are part of this.  I want to do better going over their writings promptly and working with them on errors.
  • Math:  college-level Calculus 1, and possibly Calculus 2, most likely at a nearby university.  This is one thing that he'll be working at starting in August, as university classes start up within the next couple weeks.
  • History:  readings, largely from AO Years 7/8, possibly 9.  He hasn't read much from any of these years at this point since I've skipped him ahead, so he has a lot to choose from.  I am allowing especially Peter and Bethany to have more choice in their readings if they'd like this year.  
    • They will choose a book for a "spine" to give some more general overview of a time period (I don't really care too much which time period, as long as they don't neglect anything too sorely over the years, as I want them to have a pretty good picture of the scope of history, even if they want to learn a lot more about particular interest areas).  Two possibilities for Peter:
      • Streams of Civilization Vol 1 or 2 by Christian Liberty Press
      • The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill
    • Additionally, they will read some biographies or other history/geography-related "living books." They must read things for school books which I feel comfortable counting as at least high school level reading.  Possible choices for Peter include:
      • The Brendan Voyage (geography)
      • How the Heather Looks (geography)
      • Christopher Columbus, Mariner
      • A Man for All Seasons
      • In Freedom's Cause by G.A. Henty
      • The Daughter of Time
    • They will read at least a few documents, speeches, or other significant shorter historical works.  Many are listed on the Ambleside Online lists; I will not take the trouble to note them here.
    • They will narrate, both orally and written, as well as completing other writings and/or tests, to demonstrate understanding of the material.
    • Keep a timeline of meaningful figures and events.
    • Meet at least one significant goal for learning geography (may or may not be relevant to this year's readings) -- perhaps all the countries of a continent, or key city locations of certain countries.
  • Science:  
    • Apologia Physical Science (this alone is sufficient for a unit of science).
    • Supplemental reading as time and/or interest permit (some may count for history bio as well).  Possibilities:
      • The Life of the Spider by Jean Henri Faber
      • Great Astronomers by R.S. Ball (could count for history)
      • The Lay of the Land
    • Nature study/journaling.  
  • Literature:  
    • Readings, again largely from AO Years 7/8/9.  Possibilities include:
      • The History of English Literature for Boys and Girls by Marshall (most likely required)
      • Ivanhoe
      • The Age of Fable by Bulfinch (probably aloud, w/other older ones and Mom, for sake of discussion)
      • A Taste of Chaucer by Malcolmson
      • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (aloud also, because I have yet to pre-read it completely)
    • Grammar study continued.
    • Poetry of 3 poets, chosen from AO lists.
    • Essays, short stories, or other pieces, selected and/or required. 
    • Recitation of scripture and poetry, perhaps other selections.  I want to emphasize recitation and presentation for an "audience" a little more, to develop confidence in such circumstances.  I used to have the older ones recite scripture aloud more often, but have gotten away from it since they have been doing it independently. 
    • Complete required narration, discussion, writing and/or testing to demonstrate comprehension and analysis of reading material, as well as good writing skills. 
    Bethany watching Peter play piano (Bethany plays some, too)
  • Piano:  Independent practice, most days.  He often has a song he wants to work out, and he runs with it himself.  Sometimes he gets pretty into it, but it goes in phases.  I just have him schedule a little time, and then if he wants more he can add to it.
  • Other Possibilities:  This is one place where I can get myself in trouble.  There are so many great "extras," some of which seem so potentially important at times.  But we can only do so much, and sometimes it's easy for me to fret because we're not getting to everything.  It's not only this category that contains some non-essentials -- but when I open up the "other" category, it's easy for them to jump in.  Nevertheless, there is a lot of value in some of these materials -- to the point that some may be worth subbing for a literature selection or something else at some point.  Some possible selections for Peter in this catch-all category:
    • Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, Whatever Happened to Justice?
    • Ourselves by Charlotte Mason
    • More Than a Carpenter finish (Peter and Bethany were reading through with John earlier -- Zion may enjoy getting in on this too now...)
    • The Fallacy Detective by the Bluedorns
    • How to Read a Book by Adler/Van Doren
    • further studies in Greek (with John)
    • Spanish studies (I want to do more for them with this than I have.  It's a matter of prioritizing it and also researching what materials to use, and I just haven't.)
    • Music Theory (they'd do this w/John, too -- have done a little in the past), and/or vocal music (I'd like to have them sing together a little more at least, but John is really the better one to do anything regarding instruction in this area)
    A grouping of some possible books for Bethany's school year.

    Bethany, age 14, grade 9
  • Bible time.  Participate in reading aloud during group Bible time.  Also independent Bible reading.
  • Bible memory, and hopefully other memory assignments as well, but Bible verses regularly.  The older three have their own index card boxes for this.  We use a system similar to this one (we don't do odd/even, but move the cards straight to a tab for a day of the week after they are done with daily review).
  • Training -- Habits and Character: several areas for improvement here (as for all of us in this family, definitely including me).
  • Chores -- improvement in skill and responsibility.
  • Life Skills -- Various areas will be addressed, including baby care (though she really knows a lot about this already).  She has a new-found love for chickens and would like to breed them -- that would be a project I'm not sure we're ready for yet...  She wants to do more with sewing.  She also wants to learn how to change a tire and other car essentials at some point (she is thinking of driving... while I am still not ready to think about that).  Other things she mentioned that she wants to learn include: minor home repair items, more about financial matters, making kombucha, sprouted grains, and dairy kefir (she does water kefir already), making yeasted breads, swimming, basketball, volleyball, reading music, playing violin (which is something we've meant to give her more help with for a while, also).  She clearly has a lot of thoughts in this area -- plenty to keep us busy, for more than just this school year!
  • Handicrafts -- she wants to learn soap making and basket making especially.  Other things mentioned:  candle making, decoupage.
  • Reading -- free reading, as well as school books.  Also there are still read-alouds for the older ones.
  • Oral Narration, of at least many school books. 
  • Writing -- various options in this area -- they can choose to some degree what writing projects they do.  Some things are assigned as I feel necessary.  Written narrations of readings are part of this.  I want to do better going over their writings promptly and working with them on errors.
  • Math:  Math-U-See Algebra 1. 
  • History: readings, largely from AO Year 9.  She has done far more reading, especially in history, than Peter.  History is one of her favored subjects, and she knows quite a bit about it already.  I am allowing especially Peter and Bethany to have more choice in their readings if they'd like this year.  
    • They will choose a book for a "spine" to give some more general overview of a time period (I don't really care too much which time period, as long as they don't neglect anything too sorely over the years, as I want them to have a pretty good picture of the scope of history, even if they want to learn a lot more about particular interest areas).   Bethany has decided to try Paul Johnson's A History of the American People.  Another possibility is the third volume of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples, but she's read two of the volumes, isn't crazy about the series, and wants to try something else.
    • Additionally, they will read some biographies or other history/geography-related "living books." They must read things for school books which I feel comfortable counting as at least high school level reading.  Bethany has already read all or nearly all of the things Peter will read in this subject, but is definitely interested in the following choices currently:
      • John Adams by David McCullough
      • George Washington bio -- she is thinking of reading the one by Chernow, but may not be 100% decided.
      • Benjamin Franklin bio -- I think we'll probably do Isaacson's -- she's not so interested in his autobiography, I don't think.
      • The Royal Road to Romance by Halliburton 
    • They will read at least a few documents, speeches, or other significant shorter historical works.  Many are listed on the Ambleside Online lists; I will not take the trouble to note them here.
    • They will narrate, both orally and written, as well as completing other writings and/or tests, to demonstrate understanding of the material.
    • Keep a timeline of meaningful figures and events.
    • Meet at least one significant goal for learning geography (may or may not be relevant to this year's readings) -- perhaps all the countries of a continent, or key city locations of certain countries.
  • Science:  
    • Apologia Biology. She wants to try this instead of Physical Science this year.  I do have concern that it will be tougher for me to juggle she and Peter doing different science books.  It was nice to have them in the same text in something when they did General Science.  However, they probably wouldn't be inclined to move at the same pace through the material even if I had them do the same book.  Each of them has already read quite a bit of his/her chosen text.  And which would I choose, knowing I would be disappointing one of them for the entire year in this subject area?  So we'll see how it goes with different books, and if needed we can change. 
    • Supplemental reading as time and/or interest permit (some may count for history bio as well).  Possibilities:
      • The Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif (I think she's more interested in this one)
      • Great Astronomers by R.S. Ball (could count for history)
    • Nature study/journaling.   

    Bethany and one of the chickens -- a Barred Rock.

  • Literature:  
    • Readings, again largely from AO Year 9, but some things are lit selections from previous years we didn't get to or that I purposefully delayed, so there may be more overlap here in some things with Peter than in history.  However, her older age and increased awareness of more mature topics makes some possibilities open to her that Peter would do better to wait for.  So, possibilities for Bethany include:
      • The History of English Literature for Boys and Girls by Marshall (most likely required)
      • Pride and Prejudice 
      • Northanger Abbey 
      • The Count of Monte Cristo
      • Gulliver's Travels
      • The Age of Fable by Bulfinch (probably aloud, w/other older ones and Mom, for sake of discussion)
      • A Taste of Chaucer by Malcolmson
      • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (likely we'll read this aloud also, because I have yet to pre-read it completely)
    • Grammar study continued.
    • Poetry of 3 poets, chosen from AO lists.
    • Essays, short stories, or other pieces, selected and/or required. 
    • Recitation of scripture and poetry, perhaps other selections.  I want to emphasize recitation and presentation for an "audience" a little more, to develop confidence in such circumstances.  I used to have the older ones recite scripture aloud more often, but have gotten away from it since they have been doing it independently. 
    • Complete required narration, discussion, writing and/or testing to demonstrate comprehension and analysis of reading material, as well as good writing skills.
  • Piano:  Independent practice.  She wants to learn to better read music partly so she can expand her learning in this area.
  • Other Possibilities:  May include (I'm not fully decided as to whether all these book choices are good choices at this time for her):
    • Are You Liberal?  Conservative?  Or Confused?
    • Ourselves by Charlotte Mason
    • More Than a Carpenter finish (Peter and Bethany were reading through with John earlier -- Zion may enjoy getting in on this too now...), and/or other apologetics-related.
    • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
    • The Disciplined Life
    • Do Hard Things
    • I Kissed Dating Goodbye 
    • War of the Worldviews by DeMar
    • How to Read a Book by Adler/Van Doren
    • further studies in Greek (with John)
    • Spanish studies (I want to do more for them with this than I have.  It's a matter of prioritizing it and also researching what materials to use, and I just haven't gotten it in.)
    • Music Theory (they'd do this w/John, too -- have done a little in the past), and/or vocal music (I'd like to have them sing together a little more at least, but John is really the better one to do anything regarding instruction in this area)
    Bethany and more of the Barred Rocks. :)

Well, there you have it.   It looks like waaay too much all lined out like that, doesn't it?  Some of the things are done with everyone at once, and many things for the older children are completed independently, both of which help.  But most likely it is too much (my plans usually are), and I will get a good reality check here soon with the arrival of a certain little person, who will help me prioritize. :)  We had a pretty productive year last year, but that was last year.  This year will be a new adventure, and different, and I'm sure will still provide many valuable learning experiences... though almost certainly, things will not go quite according to my plans. 


nbts-blog-hop-2014

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Book Review: Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young


    Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys
    by Hal and Melanie Young

    I really enjoyed this book.  I met the authors very briefly at a home school convention years ago.  They probably wouldn't remember me, as I was just one of many people who stopped by their booth that day, but I remember them.  I'd never heard of them before, but they seemed like such amiable and down-to-earth people that I liked them instantly. 

    I read through this book twice, the first time pretty quickly and making marks of many things to look back at later, and the second time more slowly, scanning some parts and dwelling more on the previous things I'd marked.  It was a well-timed read for me, and is one I'll probably revisit again from time to time.   Some of its points have come to mind as I've watched and interacted with my sons since reading it.  I have one son who is 12 years old, getting ever closer to manhood, another who is 2 and a half, and I'm expecting the arrival of our third son sometime in August, Lord willing.  It's been interesting having a little guy around again since my younger son's birth.  It's definitely highlighted again to me the differences between the boys and my four girls.  It's helpful to read something to give a little insight on those differences.  I have a feeling I may especially appreciate those insights after having two boys close in age.  That will be a new experience for me.

    Lately, there seems to be a felt need for teaching about manhood in the church, as well.  My husband has taught at multiple meetings held by congregations just for men in recent years about things related to manhood, has been asked to speak on subjects along these lines at other events, and has had feedback on these occasions indicating that people really thought it was needed.  The somewhat recent movie Courageous had as its theme calling out men to lead their families.  This is encouraging to me.  May good fruit come from it all, for God's kingdom and glory.

    Here's what my older son said to me when he first saw me reading this book: " 'Surviving Boys'... yeah, they're pretty loud and rambunctious sometimes.  You have to survive all that noise."  Then he gave me one of his best grins. :) 

    Hal and Melanie Young, the authors of Raising Real Men, have SIX sons!  They've definitely got some experience with boys!  You can tell in their writing that they haven't forgotten what it's like to be "in the trenches," as they still have younger ones (they also have two girls, so a total of eight children).  Yet, some of their boys are old enough that they have been able to see many fruits of their approach to child rearing.

    As I mentioned, when I first read this I marked many things to refer back to.  It's hard to narrow them down for a review.  While I don't agree with everything in the book (rare is the book where that is the case), there is a lot to be gained from it.  It's thought-provoking, helpful, encouraging, and a worthwhile read.  There are a lot of important and even heavy things discussed, and a lot of good little tidbits as well.  It deals with fundamental topics that may even challenge your paradigms.  But it's written in a very down-to-earth manner -- the same way Hal and Melanie came across to me at the convention.  It's not a book that will weigh you down with erudite vocabulary or lengthy discourse.  There's a lot of focus on the practical.

    This is a good book for parents of boys.  I will note a couple things that my readers might want to know before reading it:  1)  It has a very pro-Christian and pro-homeschool perspective.   2)  The Youngs also seem to be Calvinists, which I perhaps noticed mostly because I'm not.  There's not a lot of discussion relevant to that, and nothing specifically mentioning Calvinism by name that I noticed (unless you count mentioning that they have a son named John Calvin), yet some of the ideas come through in a few places, just casually.  I do appreciate knowing a person's religious perspectives even if I disagree with them. 

    And I'm going to mention this in passing...  don't hate me.  The title of this book bothered me a tad at first, because I was taught in grade school -- with great emphasis, mind you -- that you RAISE crops, and you REAR children!  But I will quickly admit that Rearing Real Men doesn't have the same ring to it -- probably because that's one of those grammar rules people are generally content without.  There.  I've mentioned it.  If my grade-school teacher happens to read this, she'll at least know I haven't forgotten. :)

    You can see a small preview of the book at the link above, including the Table of Contents.

    There are many worthwhile quotes in this book.  I'll share some with you:

    "As we've raised our sons, we've found that many of the troubles and concerns we had were clarified when we looked to what God intended them to be.  The situation looked different when we truly valued manly virtues and masculinity and when we understood that we had to rebuke sin but should not change our boys into something they were not" (p. 18).

    "God has placed in our boys a desire to be in charge, because one day they will be in charge.  Today's boys will be the fathers, and bosses, and elders, and statesmen of tomorrow.  We've got to teach them how to submit to authority without destroying their leadership" (p. 24).

    "God made that little boy energetic so one day he could go out and conquer the world.  At least, one day he'll have the gumption to support his family, minister in his church, be a pillar in his community.  Right now, he just needs to learn some self-control" (p. 24).

    "Our focus must be on leading our sons into godly manhood, not just trying to manage them to make our lives convenient and more pleasant....  'Convenient' is not part of the job description of parenting, nor of boyhood" (p. 25).

    "Too often, Christ is presented to boys as an unimpressive, feeble, almost effeminate character, unworthy of admiration as the Savior of mankind and the conqueror of death.... Jesus is no victim; He is a hero, a mighty king, who boldly embraces the Cross to redeem His people from sin and death and Satan himself.  Now that's a real man" (p. 34-35).


    I recommend Raising Real Men as valuable reading for parents of boys.  If it's more convenient for you, there is also an audiobook version available, and there are digital options as well.  See this link if you're interested


    Note:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  My opinions are, of course, my own.


    For more book reviews, follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page.

    Friday, June 20, 2014

    Raising Chickens, Week 8: Over My Head

    I neglected to take photos immediately of the next move we made for the pullets, from the plywood brooder my husband John made, into the outdoor dog kennel, which we temporarily moved into our basement to give them more space until we could get their permanent housing arranged.  Ahem... that last part has yet to happen.  Largely because there's been a lot of rain this year... and partly perhaps because we really have no clue what we're doing.  This would probably be why people say to be sure you have everything arranged *before* you get the chicks in the first place.  But did we listen?  Nope.  And now?  There are mostly-grown chickens who still live in our basement.  They stink, and they shed feathers and fine white dust that get all over the basement.  Not exactly what I had in mind.  So, in the words of the famous Papa Bear from the Berenstain Bears, "Let that be a lesson to you..." :)

    I do have some photos of the new arrangement that I took a little later, which I'll try to get up eventually, but during week 8, which wasn't long after they were moved (we were later than intended with that move too -- also not ideal), I went to check on them one evening, and discovered that one was missing.  I could hear her making sounds, but at first couldn't tell where they were coming from.  I couldn't see her anywhere else in the basement, either.  Finally, prompted by another sound, I looked up.  Straight above my head was this:

    Yep. Sitting on the duct and wiring.
    Zooming in for a closer look.  I had to get a chair and wrestle with her a bit to get her down -- she was a little nervous, but she was just fine. 

    I haven't seen one up there since, though Bethany has, and some have gotten up on the garage door track in recent weeks, where they also get a little stranded at times.  Thankfully, other than that they do stay pretty confined to their area, unless someone leaves the door open...

    Yes, they need to get out of the basement.  A few dry days in a row would be helpful.

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Raising Chickens: 7 Weeks Old

    I am way behind now on chicken posts.  Things got busier and more hectic, and the chickens weren't changing quite so much from week to week, so I haven't taken pictures each week lately, either.  They turned 16 weeks old as of yesterday, and are getting quite big.  But here are some outdoor photos from when they were 7 weeks old. 
















    This is the one we named Iris, because she had a perpetual problem with her eye for quite a long time, from the first week we had her.  We treated it and tried to manage it as much as possible, but it didn't seem to either clear up completely or ever develop into anything far worse either, so we eventually left it alone.  It doesn't look great in this photo, but it's much better than it was for a while.
    Iris' other eye, for comparison.
     
    Barred Rock.



    Cinnamon Queen.  I think this is the one that the older girls have nicknamed "Half and Half" b/c of her split coloring.










    Farmer Boy.
     Silver-laced Wyandotte.















    Liberty showing a feather she found.







    For more about our chicken experience, follow this link, or click on the "CHICKENS" tab at the top of the page.