Some Backstory on History (and the Classical Trivium)

It’s about time I mention that I do, indeed, teach history to my kids. Actually, for the last four years we have spent a lot of time learning a ton of history, starting from the Ancients in 2013 and ending with modern times (well, we got as far as the space race) last spring. (No, not the 2013 Ancients. Two thousand thirteen was the year we started officially homeschooling and learning about the Ancients.)

One of the confusing and overwhelming things about starting homeschooling – to me, at least – was how to decide what and in what order I should teach the subjects in that nebulous umbrella category of “social studies.” I know it involves history, geography, and cultural awareness. Well, I think it does. That is what I remember from my days in public school. But it all seemed a little too fluid for me. I know there is a national schedule and curriculum and requirements about when you teach what, but on the outside, I didn’t understand the methods and reasoning. And homeschooling, for me, wasn’t about recreating public school anyway. So when it came time to do it all myself… (AHHHHH!!! What now?!!) I ended up reading a great classical homeschooling book and learned about the 4 year history cycle. (I’m sure it has a much more sophisticated name, but essentially that is what it is.

Year One (1st grade or whenever you start) – The Ancients up to the fall of Rome

Year Two – From the Byzantine to the beginning of the Renaissance

Year Three – Early Modern Times (I think this was up to around 1850s or so)

Year Four – Modern Times

This sequence compliments the 4 year science cycle (think ancient science, renaissance science, and the booming scientific discoveries and modern scientific geniuses.) For science, the sequence goes in the following order: 1 – Biology (including all life science), 2 – Earth and Space science (so geology and astronomy), 3 – Chemistry, and 4 – Physics and computer science (we also snuck in engineering last year).

The following information is a paraphrase of Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer’s words in “The Well-Trained mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home.”  (I put the link here for the edition I have, but there are two newer editions available – which I should probably read someday.)

Through the course of the child’s education they will run through this cycle 3 times. This follows the classical pattern of the trivium, which is the three-part process of training the mind.

Grammar Stage: grades 1-4. These are the building block years where the foundations are laid. Memorization is fun and easy and children are ready and eager to absorb lots of information. So the idea is you provide them with LOTS of information, whether it be grammar, spelling, or math rules, history stories, new animals, plants, facts and data and all those interesting things kids will store in their little brains. Obviously they wont remember it all, but they will remember a lot. And what they miss, they will pick up again the next time round.

Logic Stage: grades 5-8. In these years the children are becoming mature enough to not just learn about their environment, learn stories, facts, rules and whatnot, but they can learn the logic behind these things. They start learning algebra and working on more abstract thought processes. In writing, a student uses logic to learn paragraph construction and thesis support. The logic of reading involves criticism and analysis of texts. In history they learn more than just stories, but the why behind the story. And so on.

Rhetoric Stage: grades 9-12. In this last stage students use the logic learned in the middle years and the foundational information of the grammar years to write and speak with “force and originality.” This is where the student will practice and learn to express conclusions in clear and elegant language. Also, students will want to specialize their education, whether that be taking college courses, utilizing internships, attending art and music camps, or experiencing foreign travel, etc.  (Personal Note: A while back I read a very interesting book contrasting current publicly funded literature and history classes and what the author believes would be more appropriate practices. It has shaped how I am planning on organizing the high school years in those subjects. More info and a sample course syllabi can be found here.)

So, after 4 years, I’m back in Ancient Egypt. This time, however, I’ve got 2 grammar kids and a logic kid (and the preschooler and toddler, not to leave them out.) There are many things that we’ve done the same, and a few things that we’ve done differently – mostly because I just don’t want to repeat myself every four years. Repetition is awesome and everything, but teachers get bored, too! But because 4 years ago I had a private family blog, I’m happy to share ALL of our history adventures, then and now, and also share what I have learned and gained in experience from my first time round to my second time round.

So… here we go. History, then and now!

 

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Homeschool Idols

I’ve got a few homeschool idols.  I’m not proud of it. But I’m honest about it. And being honest with myself, I am hoping, will help me take those idols and throw ’em out the window.

(I’ve also learned there is word for that. Defenestration – the act of throwing a thing or especially a person out the window. I learned that from Latin. So if nothing else today, now you’ve learned a very useful new word!)

Maybe you’ve seen this great little article floating around Facebook land. It’s called “When Your Kids Wont Bow To Your Idols,” and is at JenniferPhillipsblog.com. Or, you could just click that handy link provided above. For any parent, new or old, homeschooling or not, I think this is a wonderful read. And the sooner we confront our personal parenting or homeschooling idols, the better life will be for everyone involved.

Jenny Phillips quotes Tim Keller, author of Counterfeit Gods, who says, “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’”

I will translate that into homeschoolese. “If I can accomplish that, or if I can get my kids to know and do this, then I’ll feel like I’m succeeding and my kids are learning and I’m rocking this homeschool thing. Then I will know all this hard work and somewhat controversial decision was right and is paying off. Then I will feel significant and secure.”

Without further ado, my three homeschool idols.

Idol 1: Getting Through All The Curriculum

You know, I figure the book makers put in all those lessons and chapters and optional reading assignments and projects and field trips into those lesson plans because each one of them is vital and necessary to the rearing, education, and therefore future success and overall happiness in the lives of my children.

Right?

Well, when you put it that way, no, not really. But, boy, do I worship that idol. I can hardly stand the thought of getting through the entire school year without having finished the math book. Or without having completed every grammar lesson and every Latin chapter and every biology unit. There is such a gratifying sense of completion at the end of the year when I can say, Wow! Look at all we did! See! We are successful!

But some things, maybe, are more important than stressing everyone, rushing everyone, and pushing everyone so hard to finish. I certainly believe in finishing what you’ve started, but there is a thing called “pacing” and my idol is going at MY pace, not my children’s pace. Or even rigidly sticking to the pace at the expense of other more fulfilling, worthwhile, and life enriching experiences.

Here is an example. Today my family and I drove through a beautiful canyon to get to my in-laws. Being October 1st, the fall colors are in all their glory. And let me tell you, those trees and mountainsides are really putting on a show! I have never seen fall like this in my entire life. I stepped onto my in-laws back deck and looked up the mountainside and it took away my breath. It was like staring into a garden of color; reds, oranges, purples, yellows, greens. Pure eye candy. I had this intense craving to just go up into those mountains and be in the middle of it all.

Too bad our schedule is so busy this week. And next. The whole month really. We already have a field trip planned (actually two, now that I think about it) and there are music lessons, 4h clubs, and scouts. Plus, I feel like we haven’t progressed very far in our history course this year, so I might need to take some extra time to catch up there, especially in order to be on track for that field trip – we’re still on Ancient Egypt, Hammurabi, and the Shang Dynasty, and I’ve just GOT to get us up to the Exodus so the kids can get the most out of the field trip. And in biology my 5th grader is learning about mitosis this week. That’s not easy stuff. We certainly don’t have time to just go off and play in the canyon.

So… do you see what I mean?

The problem is when I push so hard to “complete” their education for that year, I am depriving them (and me) of other worthwhile and enriching educational and life enhancing experiences. I keep thinking, “But if I stop or take a break, I’ll be a failure! We’ll all be failures!” We’ve got to be serious and academic and I’ve got to show and prove that we aren’t the kind of homeschoolers who just hang around in our pajamas all day long in a disaster of a house.

(I actually don’t know any homeschoolers like that either, but I DO know people who THINK homeschoolers are like that. I certainly don’t want to encourage their inaccurate prejudice against all of us.)

The solution? I’ve come up with a couple of ways to defenestrate this idol.

1: I’ve relaxed our schedule a little bit. My poor 5th grader was a little overworked and they entire family was feeling the effects of this stress. So he and I have decided that instead of 4 grammar lessons a week as suggested by the all-knowing trustworthy curriculum writers, he will only complete two lessons each week. Because I am the mom and he is the student and that is what we say is best for us! (Take that!)

2: Instead of pushing to complete an entire chapter in his Writing and Rhetoric book a week – which is becoming just more and more impossible for us to do if we want him to have even an hour of the day to himself – we are just going to steadily work through the book, 2 or 3 sections at a time. No weekly goal except steady progress. Said progress to be defined by myself and my son. (Take that!)

3: We are going into the canyon this week. And that’s all there is to it.

Idol 2: Kids Who Can Work Independently

You know what would make my life a whole lot easier?

If the kids could just do their schoolwork without me.

Yes, I know, I know. I’d be with them and help them when they had questions and occasionally look over their work. But they would just be so darn responsible and independent and pro-active in their education. It would be awesome! It would be mind blowing! It would be a miracle!

It would also deprive me of being with, teaching, and raising my children.

But oh, how liberating for ME!

This is a very ugly idol. And as a homeschool mother, who has willingly, purposefully, and passionately taken my children out of the public educational system and declared to myself, my family, and my friends (and officially to the school district on penalty of prison time) that I will be responsible for my children’s education, that I feel and know I can do a better job for them than the popular alternative, and that I am their mother and will not be replaced, this idol should have never crept into my house in the first place! How did it get here? How did I get to this point?

Well, as any homeschooling mother, like the one described above, will readily tell you, homeschooling is really, really hard sometimes, and really, really demanding. It is also so fun, so rewarding, so uplifting, and so strengthening.

But it’s also really hard.

It’s even harder when you have 5 children and one of them has just learned how to take off his own poopy diaper.

Sick!

I get very tired. I get very worn down. I get very annoyed at hearing my name called every 3 minutes. And then I get angry. And then, occasionally, somebody’s feelings get hurt and somebody cries. Or more often, they all just ignore my angry rants and go about their lives trying to ignore the crazy lady in the room who hasn’t even had time to take a shower yet.  Perhaps this scenario is becoming all too common. That’s not a good sign!

But if my kids could just work independently and be self motivated to always do their best, perform at their highest level even just for a few hours a day, and be happy and smiling and cheerful at the same time, THAT would make me a fabulous homeschool mom. Just look at what I had accomplished! I have trained them so well! I must be amazing!!

Yes, if only they were little robots that I could program to follow my every command…

But they aren’t. They are children. And focusing is sometimes really hard. And math assignments really actually aren’t fun, no matter how many times I tell the kids that they are.

No, they aren’t.

Except on very special days, then they are fun.

Like tessellations!

To take on the challenge of homeschooling – and the challenge of mothering – is to accept that little people and little bodies, who are new and imperfect, rough and unrefined, will need you and call to you for help.

Sometimes every 3 minutes. Or less.

And you, as mother and homeschooling mother, don’t have to be perfect. And it is ok to be tired and feel a little rough and unrefined sometimes, too. Even unshowered at 4:00 pm. That is actually ok. (As long as you don’t have to go anywhere in public.)

And frankly, it is not a bad thing that I want my children to be able to work independently and be pro-active and all those other things I mentioned. But the idol is my bad and selfish attitude about it all. So I’m going to call it by it’s ugly name.

I sometimes have a bad attitude. And I sometimes am selfish. And it is happening more and more often in my homeschool.

The solution? I don’t know, more Dr. Pepper?

Prayer. More prayer.

And you know what else. More faith. And more scripture study. And more humble worship. Less pride and more humility.

God is not an idle observer in our lives. He doesn’t send us to earth, say goodbye, and then move on to more important things. WE are the important things. As small and insignificant, as unworthy and frail and as flawed as I am, and as all powerful, all knowing, and all merciful as He is, I am important to Him. My children are important to Him. And in whatever way I am struggling, even if it is a bad attitude and a selfish nature that I am having a hard time turning around, He will help me if I come to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

The key is to remember that in the moment of need.

But with God on my side, the chances for idol defenestration are excellent.

Idol 3: A Clean House

A fellow soccer mom at one of my 1st grader’s games found out I homeschool my children. Her first, and immediate, question was, “So is your house a complete mess?”

What? How offensive!

Just kidding. It’s actually sometimes true. (You might be fighting for the wrong team if the truth is offensive to you! Just saying.)

But actually my first thought was, “Is that what people think of us? Weird!”

You know, I would love to have a spotless house. I would love to have my baseboards cleaned. I would love to have a clean oven. I would love for the bathtub and showers and toilets to always be sparkling fresh. I would love for the furniture to be dusted and the floors to be mopped. I would love for my kids to naturally love to pick up their toys and make their beds and put their clean clothes away. I would also love if my 2 year old would stop drawing on every surface of the house.

That last one would REALLY make me happy! You can’t even imagine…

But because I’m just not very good at remembering to deep clean – and because I hate doing it – the deep cleaning just doesn’t get done very often. (ok, my friend found out I hadn’t cleaned my oven the entire time I had lived in this house – at that time 4 1/2 years!! so she actually came over and cleaned it for me!)

So we go with tidying up. Every morning my children must do their chores. And every morning I harp on them and remind them of what time it is and what time “school” starts and that things don’t put themselves away. And then I go downstairs and have to clean up a bunch of their stuff anyway because it is just too overwhelming for them to pick up after themselves.  But the house, for those 15 minutes before they trash the kitchen during breakfast and I let them loose again in the rest of the house – my house is spotlessly *ahem* tidy!

And yes, it ticks me off. Every morning. Because really, they should just do it themselves, already. If you have too many toys that you can’t possibly take responsibility for them, than you just have too many toys. (Except they don’t have too many toys, there are just 5 of them and we have a pretty small house. It all looks worse than it really is, right? Maybe. I suppose it could be worse.)

And that is one of my idols.

A clean house. School would just go so much better and learning and understanding would be so greatly enhanced if no toy or paper or book was EVER out of place. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Except when the stress and anger and frustration of achieveing cleanliness overwhelms and offends the Spirit of God, driving Him right out of house and out of your heart and the hearts of your children.

(Wait. That is what I was supposed to do to the idol.)

A clean house is a worthy goal. And it is not one to abandon. However, I tear up sometimes when I am reminded of the following quote from a Prophet of God, especially when I have fallen so far and forgotten:

“If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.” Full text found here.

For years, it felt like every single time I left the house with all my children, instead of hearing, “Boy! You sure have your hands full! *chuckle chuckle,*”  I heard “Enjoy them! Just treasure these moments and enjoy them! They will be gone before you know it.” And I always responded that I intended to.

And then I got grouchy about it. And what seemed impossible out of my reach, but what I was sure was going to solve all of my problems, became my idol.

The solution? If nothing else, maybe I could just commit the previous quote to memory… and then burst into tears every time I pick up the stuff that accumulates EVERYWHERE, but more out of love and tenderness than overwhelming frustration and anger like before.

(I’m not THAT bad, guys. But some days I am definitely more hostile towards the mess than others.)

Or the following is good, too.

“Babies Don’t Keep” by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

I don’t actually plan on not picking up those toys and not doing the dishes. (Don’t worry, we are still going to pay our bills on time, and so far I am still pretty good about keeping the fridge relatively stocked.) And my children will still be required to do their chores and learn to take responsibility for their belongings. I am their mother and that is, indeed, my job; to raise the children in a way so that they will not drive their future college roommates to defenestrate themselves!! But I could be a little *cough cough* a lot kinder about it.

Heaven knows they aren’t learning their cleanliness habits from ME! My bedroom is an entirely different story… (actually it’s the exact same story)… oh what my husband puts up with in that room. There are just too many projects and no where else to put them! Plus for some reason I find it impossible to actually hang up my clean clothes. (So good at cleaning clothes, so bad at putting them away.)

So besides the gentle admonishment to be more kind, I could start by cleaning my room. By controlling my own mess. By taking more responsibility for my own things and being less surprised when others follow my less-than-stellar example of “cleanliness” – appropriately in quotes!

My first act in housecleaning is to throw out a few idols. And with this post, I have started to do that. Thank you for listening to me work through my weakness. Hopefully you don’t have any idols, but if you do, I hope you have been able to call them what they are and have made a plan to defenestrate them as soon as you can.

😉

 

When Cell Theory turns Philosophical

Biology is a big subject this year. Big, as in expensive. Big, as in time consuming. Big, as in conceptually challenging.

But biology was my absolute favorite in high school. I was blessed with 2 years of an intense and rigorous high school biology course. It was so awesome, that, in comparison, the college courses I took in the same subject a few years later just felt like a genearl overview. And my classes in high school were so interesting that I remember a lot of the information even today.

As in literally, today.

Today’s lesson was on photosynthesis and cell respiration. I was reviewing last night to make sure I had all the supplies we needed, and my husband says, “Whoa! What is all that stuff? You sure have to study a lot yourself in order to teach it.”

“No, I actually already know it.”

Thanks, Mrs. Henry. You were an outstanding teacher!

(And I think I am a closet bio nerd. Seriously. Who still remembers stuff like that from 20 years ago!)

So this morning my 5th grader says to me, ” Oh no! Not a biology day!”

And I’m like, What!!

(I think I’m getting a little off subject.)

*ahem*

Our school year started, naturally, with cell theory. All living things are made up of cells. 5 or 6 weeks later my 5th grader (in level 2) is just finishing up his cell theory unit, whereas the younger kids (in level one) are knee deep in “The Human Body” and would have done a lab on respiration today had it not just been one of those days.

*sigh*

Judge me if you want. Something had to give. And this time it was science.

As for the younger kids, some of the fun things we’ve done regarding cell theory include looking at a really, really large cell (a chicken yolk and blastodisc), and making a model of a plant cell out of jello and fruit, with grape chloroplasts and a strawberry nucleus.

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(Pineapple jello was probably never meant to be eaten alone. Not my favorite, just saying.)

I like our Level 1 bio book because I feel like it teaches REAL information and REAL science instead of rehashing the life cycle of a butterfly and the 5 senses over and over again. That’s all nice and stuff, but kids are capable of digging into the meat of things, at least more than we give them credit for, and I feel I’ve found a science curriculum that explains things at a child’s level, but doesn’t dumb it down for them.

Because kids aren’t dumb. They are just kids.

But (and this is where it gets fun) for my 5th grader who is in level 2, we have really had a blast. (Well, I have been having a lot of fun.) Every week we have a regular lab and also a microscope lab. He has already covered prokaryotes, eukaryotes, cell structure, organelles and organelle functions, cell specialization, some basic biochemistry and nutrition on a molecular level, cell membranes, and active and passive transport.

And of course today, the biochemistry of photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

And he’s 10.

He is not a genius. I am not a genius. But we can understand this stuff because we have found great resources and have no fear of fancy schmancy sounding words like endo and exocytosis, rough endoplasmic reticulum, deoxyribonucleic acid, mitochondria, and funny looking equations like 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy –> C6H12O6 + 6O2   and the reverse (which I am happy to explain if you don’t already know what that is). Nobody is here to tell us this is hard or confusing or that this is a class we should try to avoid. (Actually, I think that one would be chemistry or physics. Except we’ve taken both those courses in the last two years already – at least, we’ve done level 1 – watch out level 2! We are well on our way!)

I love homeschooling, because, among so many other things, we can avoid the detrimental outside voices that say “This is hard,” or “You can’t do it,” or “This is boring and who cares anyway.” We can just learn for learning’s sake and know and experience. And if it is hard, so what? We can take it at our own pace. It isn’t hard because someone told us so. It is hard because we are human, with various strengths and weaknesses. But we know and believe we can overcome our weaknesses with the right attitude, hard work, and oftentimes (if not ALL times) a lot of Grace.

So my 5th grader has already looked at onion cells, his own cheek cells, cell nuclei, chloroplasts, stomata, and such through his microscope. He is working on writing out the lab reports – which really IS hard for him because he hates writing. He has learned about food preservation (death to those prokaryotes!!) and made his own model of animal cell. Today we went slowly through all the biochemistry until he felt comfortable with it. (As in, why in the world does the cell have to take energy and go through all these chemical reactions just to come out with the exact same products in the end? Hint: the products aren’t all entirely exactly the same.) But now he knows.

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And even though I really, truly, honestly do know that cell theory probably wont play much of a role in his adult life – in the sense that he may never, EVER, need to repeat the chemical process for photosyntheses ever again – it is enriching to know it.

He will be rich with knowledge.

I’m sure he could learn to do a job, do it well, and stick with that for his entire life and society would run smoothly, his life wouldn’t be any less successful than anyone else’s, he could provide for a family, and feel like he had done his part.

But I’m not going for the “cog in the system” program. And I don’t think, really, truly, honestly, most parents want that for their children.

My aim is to educate and to enrich.

*ahem*

(I think I’ve gone a little off subject again… which has prompted a change in the blog post title.)

Anyway, I am so thrilled to have found a great resource for biology.

It is a real challenge teaching two different levels of science at the same time. Especially when one level is so much more. More information. More in depth. More time consuming. (More expensive!) And a lot more stress on my end of the deal. But I feel like the results are worth it. I hope the results are worth it. I guess hope and faith are what keep me going on all this homeschooling business anyway.

Who said faith and science don’t go together? 😉 That is one thing I never understood.

Hopefully your science adventures are so much more this year also.

In a good way, of course.

 

Mom School… or Mom’s Cool? Reconquering the Classics.

Either one works for me!

He he!

Some of you who have been with me for a while know that I am on a mission. It’s kind of an odd mission and definitely counts as one of those roads less traveled things. I am a strong believer in teaching logic, reasoning, actual critical thinking (not just thinking critically about what your parents or religion has taught you) and being well educated, intelligent, and capable of being wise and responsible. (We can talk about the compassionate and merciful side of this coin another time, because that truly is the other half of the purpose of education and no less important.)

To me, this equates to a classical education – although I readily admit there is more than one way to reach this goal. But, seeing as I didn’t receive much in the way of the classics but had a more “21st century global education,” I have a lot to do to prepare myself to guide my children through these waters once they hit the high school years. I have four years, in fact. I figure that gives me enough time to go through all the courses and syllabi myself, read the books, find the documentaries, collect other resources, generate thought provoking questions and discussion topics, and work out all the kinks (ok, some of the kinks) before I get to be the teacher again and present it to my children.

The teacher has become the student.

But really, aren’t we all students anyway, regardless of title or label?

(That would be all that Socrates poking through 😉 )

I was kind of taught to think all those old Greeks and Romans were boring, horribly complicated, and just impossible to comprehend unless you were boring, dry, and old yourself.

But I am LOVING this!

(Which hopefully is less of an indication about my own potential boring and dry character and more a testament to the universality and timelessness of the classics.)

(Mom’s still cool, right? Right guys?)

I started out with The Illiad, and I just have to say, wow! This stuff is amazing!! I had no idea I would actually enjoy reading it. And I just finished The Histories by Herodotus. Incredibly fascinating! Has someone made a movie yet about the Persian Wars? Because honestly, that is some really good stuff.

I am just so relieved that I don’t have to be some old, boring university professor and can still really enjoy these books!

A lot.

*Phew*

I am so exciting to start The Aeneid, and Plutarch’s Lives after that, and then there is Thucydides and the Peloponnesian wars, a little Julius Caesar and some Cato. But after that I have to run back to the library to pick up what wasn’t in stock last time I was there, because apparently I’m not the only one who has figured out about these hidden gems. (That is sarcasm. Everyone used to know about these gems. But they just aren’t taught anymore. Which is why I have a mission. And why it is one of those roads less traveled.)

Below I have included the discussion questions I’ve come up with on my own (now probably my ignorance will be showing – I’m not a university professor after all) that I thought would be interesting to have students investigate and be able to argue one way or the other with examples from the text.  These are just from the books I have read so far. Hopefully you’ll get the itch and pick up a few of these great books on your next trip to the library.

The Illiad

How do you think women were valued and treated? Think specifically about Brisies, Helen, Thetis, Hera, Athena. Is there a difference in the way the mortal men see the goddesses and the mortal women?

What is the importance of the physical in Greek culture– being an athlete, a warrior, and even the importance of the body after it is dead. Think of the struggle for Patroclus’ body, Hector’s body.

Is there a belief that no one can be held accountable for their own actions because, in essence, “the gods made me do it?” what examples – from Agamemnon, Paris, etc.

What is the role of prophecy? How much do the people rely on prophecy?

What are the differences between the gods and the mortals?

How do you think actual people in Greece relied on the gods during this time of history? What was their relationship with their religion?

What role do you think all the trash talking plays? Why is it important to the people? Why do they keep making boasts and promises that they have no idea whether they will keep or not (like I’m gonna kill you and sack Troy.)

Who is the hero in this story?

Why can’t they just give Helen back? Why isn’t Helen allowed to just go back herself?

Why does Homer keep using metaphors of daily peaceful life (fishing, plowing fields) to describe killing people? Why does he so often use metaphors of animals hunting when talking about the battles?

Consistency and inconsistency of the gods’ favor – how do people know if they are in god’s graces? How about Hector and Achilles? When Hector was winning, was he really the one Zeus was favoring, even though Zeus never meant to let Hector win in the end? How would inconsistent gods help explain ancient Greek life? How might it be an example of their world view?

What is the role or value of passion? Is moderation and temperance a value?

Oedipus Rex – Sophocles

Is Oedipus a hero or a villain? Is he the victim or the criminal?

What is the importance of prophecy in this play? How might that reflect the religious mood of the time the play was written? How is this different or similar to the role of the gods and prophecy in The Iliad?

Who is to blame for what happened? Is it Oedipus? Is it Laius’ Man? Is it the gods’ fault? Does Tiresius share any of the blame?

What does this play indicate about personal responsibility and self-determination as opposed to fate?

The Republic – Plato

Define “justice.” Does the definition change through the discussions? Are they always talking about the same type of justice?

On the topic of adding law upon law vs teaching correct principle and letting people govern themselves – relate in your own words the analogy of the sick man taking medication after medication to keep himself barely alive and what that has to do with the society with laws upon laws. What would be the cure? For the man? For society?

Do you see a conflict in how Socrates wants to educate the children – by censorship? Only good things? How does this compare with your education? Is there merit to only teaching what is good?

What are the “dangers” of being a philosopher – a weakness or tendency toward a weakness? How does a philosopher protect against that?

In book 4 – is there value in literature even if it is not “true?” Or Art? What about really impressionist and the kind of “out there” modern art? Is there more than one way to communicate “truth?”

Who “rules” our society today? Philosophers or philodoxers? Can you give examples of both? How about in history? Is there an example of a philosopher becoming president in the US? What’s another name we might call them (principled.) Thomas Jefferson, George Washington. What leaders have been closer to the philosopher like Socrates describes? What opposites of this idea have we had?

Socrates argues a lot that a person can only be one thing at a time – either good OR bad, just OR unjust, a baker OR a carpenter. How is that true? How is it not true? Is there any truth to dualities and pluralities? (Justice/Mercy, other examples.)

Antigone – Sophocles

What is the main argument Sophocles is making? Is it about state supremacy over individuals? Is it about the majesty of man over the majesty of the gods and their laws? Does he argue in favor of family loyalty or religious faithfulness over the rule of the state? Is Antigone the hero? Is she ever praised for doing what is right? Did she really even do what was right? What might Sophocles’ personal views on these subjects be, based on what he has written in this play?

Was Creon wrong to deny Polynices’ burial?

Why does Creon eventually change his mind? Is it for familial love? Or love of the state? Or something else?

In both Antigone and Oedipus Rex, Sophocles paints an image of the king as a ruthless, proud, unyielding tyrant. But how do both of the kings end up in the play? What are the similarities and differences between King Creon and King Oedipus?

Creon continually disparages the weakness of women. But who was weaker, Creon or Antigone? Is it a strength to be proud and unchanging, to be brave and fearless no matter what? Is it a strength to think twice and change your ways if you change your mind?

Antigone says she would not have broken the law to bury a husband or children because she could always get more of those, but since her parents were dead, she would never have another brother, so she was willing to break the law for him. Does this explanation pan out with her other arguments about the laws of the dead given from the gods and her devotion to the gods? About how she must always obey gods over men? Why do you think her reasoning or explanations evolve or change a bit?

What might Haemon be thinking when he goes to speak to his father? How does he try to convince his father to change his mind? How does Haemon play a role in how his father actually did change his mind?

The Histories – Herodotus

Who in their right mind thinks this book is appropriate for high school kids??Really, I have no discussion questions about this book, but just a little warning instead. First off, this book is incredibly interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed it just like all the others, maybe even more than a lot of the others so far. HOWEVER – and this is a big one – there is so much promiscuity and sex and graphic detail of a similar nature, mostly concentrated in the first half of the book, that I just don’t think it is appropriate for people whose hormones are a little unbalanced, a.k.a teenagers.

My suggestion would be to find a great documentary about the Persian Wars and watch that along with perhaps books (i.e. chapters) 6, 7, 8, and the first half of 9 of the actual book. (The war doesn’t really start until book 6 anyway and is mostly over half way through book 9 so the students don’t really miss any of the battles of the actual war. What they would miss – but really should read later – is the cultural descriptions and histories of the surrounding peoples known to Herodotus, like the Egyptians, Thracians, Scythians, Ethiopians, and a lot of others. It is definitely worth reading – and after you read it you may think me a prude – but I’m just going to go with better safe than sorry on this one. Being a teenager with raging hormones is bad enough. I figure why stir the pot even more.

But YOU should read it. It really is a great story.

Next up on my mission to conquer the classics: The Aeneid.

“Of Arms and the Man I sing.”

Tchaikovsky and Cannons, Audubon and Flamingos:

Symposium has got to be everyone’s absolute favorite “subject” in our homeschool. It is the one time I get everyone (including the 2 year old) together focused on one purpose.

We listen to music and get creative!

This year, besides lowering expectations, I’ve lessened rowdiness and silliness by buying the children fancy little sketchbooks in which to do their drawings and writings. Sometimes just having new fancy materials is enough get the kids serious about what is going on. (And by fancy, I mean about $7 a piece from Walmart instead of the 70 cent wide ruled notebooks we had left over from binge shopping for school supplies in the fall last year.)IMG_1830IMG_1832

But, you know, it’s been a grand total of 2 weeks. So we’ll see how it goes. So far, though, I’m pretty happy.

I’m very happy.

(Booyah! I did something right!!)

For the first week of school we all gathered in the living room – fancy notebooks, colored pencils, crayons, and markers at hand – and listened to Tchaikovsky’s Festival Overture. This is the 1812 Overture. As I understand it, this piece represents Napoleon fighting against the Russians, whose brute force and even more brutal winters, turned the French running/limping back all the way to France.

My history is maybe a little oversimplified.

I wanted a version of the piece with full choral and cannons – just how Tchaikovsky wrote it (and how I heard it on the radio a few days prior), but Amazon Prime wasn’t coming through. Eventually I found a great recording on YouTube.  Instead of watching around the laptop, we set up our little bluetooth speaker in the living room and listened. Go ahead and listen while you finish reading and checking out our artwork.

I could listen to this every single morning. (It isn’t so great for trying to fall asleep at night, though. Cannons and all.)

The kids’ job was to either just listen and enjoy or draw/color/write about whatever came to mind.

This song, apparently, invokes thoughts of fire, earthquakes, lightning, floods, lava, battles, and dynamite.

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5th grader
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1st grader
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Pre-schooler
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Pre-schooler

I heard lots of stories about dynamite that week.

But at the same time, my 3rd grader was able to focus a little more on the beauty and grace of certain parts, which translated into flowers, fairies, and peaceful settings alongside tranquil ponds.

And a ghost with ducklings. (Actually, she says it’s a frog wearing duckling printed pajamas and she is a little frustrated that nobody else can figure that out!)

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The contrast in artistic subjects may also have to do with the fact that my boys like things that blow up and my daughter doesn’t. As much. I think she secretly kind of likes dynamite, too. 🙂

For week two we focused less on the music and more the work of John James Audubon. Throughout week one I had hung up five Audubon pieces around the house for the kids to organically absorb into their beings.

I don’t think it worked.

I certainly didn’t pay any attention AT ALL to them and I can’t imagine my kids did too much either. But in the end I don’t think it really mattered.

Finally it was time to just play Tchaikovsky in the background and really study our pieces of artwork. There is this whole list of great ways to get kids to observe, study, and then creatively write about various pieces of art.

Day one I had the kids look at the art very closely and try to see all the detail. Then I had them turn over their pictures and try to draw as much from memory into their notebooks as possible.

This was not successful.

Day two I had the kids pick one of the pictures and try to come up with a story to go with it. It could either be a narrative of before, during, or after the scene. Or maybe just a description of the animals and birds in the picture. What are their names? What are they like? What do they like to do?

This was also not very successful.

BUT I did get a great picture of a cowboy riding an elk trying to catch some cows! Here is the original:IMG_2197 And here is the 1st grade reproduction:IMG_2185

I thought the Preschooler did a really good job with the Brazilian Caracara Eagle. (He is only 4 years old, after all.)

And the flamingo was a great success. I have multiple recreations of Audubon’s Flamingo.

Before:

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After: IMG_2179IMG_2180IMG_2181

The only thing missing is the dynamite.

Maybe I would have gotten more docile drawings if I had picked a song that wasn’t about two battling armies and featured actual cannons as a musical instrument.

But what’s the fun in that?

And for those wondering why I paired Festival Overture with Audubon, it was kind of just random.

But for our purposes we will call it eclectic.

I didn’t have enough brain power left to do anything else but random. I had heard the overture on the radio and thought it was fantastic. And then I looked through the art prints I had ready and Audubon just looked nice.

Secretly I was hoping to put in a plug for our new nature journals (exact same $7 notebooks from Walmart.

(Yes, I bought 8 of them.)

(Yes, I spent $56 whopping smackers on fancy paper!)

And I’m happy to report, and don’t worry, I’ll report in much more detail later, that our nature journals are also becoming a great success!

Thanks Audubon.

And Walmart.

The next two weeks? We’ve got Rossini’s Wilhelm Tell Overture and five paintings by Vermeer.

I’m looking forward to what we’ll get out of those two!

Operation Overload: A Big Welcome Back, Homeschool Style

*sigh*

I am so tired.

So. Tired.

*snore*

We are now officially done with the first two weeks of school. I had this great idea (and this time I’m NOT being sarcastic) to start early with a full week of just half days. No math and no history. The reasoning behind this was three fold.

1) I wanted to ease the transition from summer freedom to school year routine. A drastic change – in either direction I found out this summer – isn’t good for anyone.

2) I wanted to become familiar with some of our new curriculum slowly without stress or time constraints. It takes awhile to figure out a new system. Math? Same curriculum, just new grade levels. History? Spelling? Handwriting? Same thing. We got this. But Biology and Latin and Grammar? My 5th grader has a completely new grammar curriculum (The Good and the Beautiful) and it is very different from what we’ve done the last 4 years. With Biology, all of the sudden I am teaching middle school and elementary school levels at the same time – now we have weekly microscope labs and all around more intense and rigorous material. Personally, I needed an extra week to figure out how I was going to work that out myself. IMG_1916And the only tricky part about Latin is now I have two students in two different levels, whereas before I just had the one student taking Latin. (Awesome side note: I am going to be a serious Latin master when I get done going through all these Latin books over and over again. It’s like taking 6 years of Latin – but 5 times!)

And 3) there are just way too many fun field trips in the beginning of the school year. We don’t take a Fall Break or have any district wide teacher development half days off – what would I do with a day off? Probably just go on one of these field trips with my kids. I figure by the end of our first month, we will have actually had a full week of field trips anyway. So the extra week of school at the beginning is also just to help me not feel guilty about taking so much “time off.” (As if taking 5 little children on a field trip could be considered “time off.” 😉 )

Week one went pretty well. I averted a meltdown before school even started on day one by making pancakes. IMG_1828

Hooray for pancakes!

Already someone was stressed out about not being done with chores on time and being late for school. (I thought homeschoolers didn’t have this problem. Maybe it’s just us and my obsession with having a start time.) So to emphasize that we could be in control of our own school and our own day and we didn’t need to feel like a slave to anyone (yeah right, the kids are slaves to me! Mwa Ha Ha Ha!) I made some pancakes and we just had a relaxing beginning. Start right, go right, end right. My take home lesson from all of this: just start relaxed and throw in a few pancakes.

My free spirited and strong willed 1st grader is taking to “more than kindergarten” better than I anticipated. For his “Show What You Know” section of his handwriting workbook he even wrote “School is Fun!” although he didn’t want me to look at it.

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He’s got a reputation to keep after all. The whining and complaining totally lose their legitimacy if Mom knows you are actually enjoying all of this.

Point for Mom!

Nobody cried. Nobody complained. Nobody felt overwhelmed. Nobody lost it with the two-year-old doing two-year-old things right in the thick of everything. That I consider our most impressive achievement. Did I mention the two year old is also free spirited and strong willed? Yes, life is getting very exciting at my house. We got done “on time” so that we had plenty of time to play, let those free spirits fly, let the conscientious detail oriented ones work on their own sewing and computer projects, and the needy type 2 even had time with mom for extra snuggles.

And then I remembered – these are only half days. How in the world am I going to manage FULL days? I can’t go an entire year without math or history?

So I braced myself, dug in my heels, and took a deep breath and reminded myself, all of this is voluntary. I have chosen to take this on of my own free will, and of my own free will I can take the bits and pieces I don’t like and throw them in the trash. But the idea is, yes, this is going to be a lot, but I’ll just adapt as I go.

So week two starts.

*clears throat*

First of all, I forgot to do my weekly planning until Saturday. So I already felt behind a bit. Then both of our black ink cartridges failed. My husband ordered a new one that came in… except it is for a printer we don’t own. So quick improv with the younger kids’ science… we’re good. We’re good. Just keep on going.

Math takes a long time. Three kids in math takes even longer. The older two are just going to have to work more independently while I move from youngest to oldest. I am depending so much on them being mature and responsible enough to do this. And I’m just not quite sure they are ready for that. But math wise, we did make it through the week.

Then we had two field trips in the same week: the Not Back to School Party with a bunch of other homeschool families at a local park with a fun pond (kayaks courtesy of my awesome friend who lives next-door!), and the Renaissance Faire which is just a must. Jousting, people!!

Everything was fun. Everything went mostly smoothly. But I felt like a chicken with it’s head cut off running back and forth and back and forth and being pulled in multiple directions at once.

And that is not a comfortable feeling.

Then besides the academic stuff, there were soccer games. Six of them. And I had to coach two out of the six, and then run a soccer practice.IMG_1815

And there was scouts, and piano lessons, and Sunday School lessons to prepare, and visits to people in my neighborhood I needed to make. I’ve got to get the 4h schedules so I can sign my kids up for those activities that they just really love – and then fit them into the calendar. I’ve got activities for the 8 and 9 year old girls in my church congregation to prepare. I just found out we are helping out at the old folks home next Sunday and the week after that as well. We are scheduled to help clean our church building sometime soon but I couldn’t bear to look at the calendar and find out when yet. Our Hike it Homeschoolers group has a hike I am hosting next week that will take us another day from school. My in-laws really want us to go boating with them, so there is another day gone. And Swiss Days!

Oh, the dreaded Swiss Days festival!! Why? Why did I promise the children we could go? But I did.

And it is this Friday.

Plus, people in my house keep expecting dinner every single night!  But I feel like my plate is full already. Just, really really full already.

And then on top of the crazy regular “routine” that we haven’t been able to fully establish yet, and besides the ridiculously full calendar of events I’ve got running in my head, all of these wonderful learning opportunities keep jumping into our laps, begging for attention and a complete and thorough investigation.

Like that whole solar eclipse thing, you know, the once in 100 years one? I saw all those great homeschooling ideas online. Didn’t do a single one of them. But I was able to come up with something else really fast. (At least we had glasses, already.) Do I take an entire week to go over this stuff? Do we have time to get into the nitty gritty? Should we just go on with what’s planned? How big of a deal should I make of this?IMG_2022

And then two Swainson hawks decided to take up residence behind our house. We kind of have a soft spot for birds of prey over here – maybe because we hate mice and snakes. So now do we take some time to study birds? I bet we could come up with some really awesome lessons and learn some fascinating things about hawks. Really, having a hawk swoop over your back deck almost close enough to touch (ok, more like 15 feet above, but still!) is a pretty amazing experience. Talk about up close and personal. These two are beauties!

And then all the children received postcards from their aunt in Norway. Here is a wonderful opportunity! Should we take some time to learn more about Norway? Should we go over the family history, family farm, and family stories again? A quick geography lesson? I bet I could come up with something really fun for that. Kramkaker anyone? I could quick whip some up? (Just kidding, it takes HOURS to make those things!) (PS. I’ve been to that big rock cliff in the tall postcard. It is amazing!! Actually, I’ve been to all those places, and they are all amazing.)

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No. You just can’t do everything.

You just can’t be everywhere.

Before I go further, I completely and fully acknowledge that these problems I am having are some of the best problems to have. It’s not just too much of a good thing, but too much of a lot of great things. It’s like first-world problems, but homeschool style. There is just too much wonderful stuff out there to do and learn and experience! Poor me! Boo hoo. I’m just going to have to deal with having an awesome life.

But the seriousness here is that if something doesn’t give, if I can’t decide what things not to do, then I will lose all of them.

It’s called mother burn out.

A homeschooling mentor I “know” (meaning on Facebook) says that at the beginning of the school year she looks at everything she has planned and says to herself, “Ok, what am I going to give up?” And then you know what? I think she actually does give something up.  That is amazing to me. It is the ability to say “no” to good things. Many times, as a homeschool mom, when you say “no” to good things, you are actually saying “yes” to better things.

(Like your sanity.)

So I guess that is my next step. What am I going to give up?

(Swiss Days!! Duh!)

Ok, besides Swiss Days. I can’t give that up. My kids would never forgive me.

Probably the best thing I could “give up” at this moment is my expectations. Not give them up, really, but just lower them. And not for my kids. I’ve learned to do that already over the last few homeschooling years (What!! My kids aren’t absolutely perfect at everything!!!) I think I’ve got to lower my expectations for myself. Instead of setting the bar too high, I’m just going to set the bar appropriately high. Not out of reach, just high enough to have to reach a little.

I am not a super homeschooling mom. I am not a super anything mom. I’m not even a super just regular person.

But sometimes I can do some pretty super things. And I’ve got some oftentimes really super kids who help me out a lot and keep me motivated to do super things for them – like running a homeschool. It doesn’t even need to be a super homeschool. But it does need to be for their benefit, and for my benefit, and we can be in control of our own school and our own day and we don’t need to feel like a slave to anyone or anything.

Which makes me think that tomorrow we may need some more pancakes.

Just repeat after me: I am in control of my life. I’ve got this. I am in control of my life. I’ve got this. I’m going to make it work for me. I am the boss. I make the rules. And if things are too much, and too often, and too overwhelming, I will decide what to cut back. I will decide where to slow down. I will decide when to say “no.” I will decide what is best for my children and for myself. Because I do know what is best for my family. That is a gift from God to me. He’ll help me know what to do.

So, fellow Homeschool Mom, chin up!  And welcome back to school.

 

 

 

HiH Summer Edition Comes to an End

If you’ve been following us during the summer, you’ll know that we like to go hiking.

All the time.

So I started a homeschooling hiking group called Hike it Homeschoolers and we have had a ton of fun exploring a few new trails, visiting a couple oldies but goodies, and meeting some really amazing homeschooling families.

But, we officially started “school” two days ago. And the weekly hikes just have to come to an end. I’ve still got two bigger hikes planned for HiH Fall Edition, so don’t you worry! But I figured I’d better do my recap of the last half of our summer adventures before I really harness the children into their chairs and make them sit still all day long instead of forcing them to lace up their hiking boots and run the trails!!

Just kidding. We’re homeschoolers, remember? Obviously we don’t actually sit in our chairs most the time. That’s just part of the beauty!

(And they don’t actually have hiking boots. Sometimes they go in sandals.)

(And they LIKE hiking – they don’t have to be forced to go.)

All right, here we go!

July Trails:

Provo River Trail from Bridal Veil Falls, past Upper Falls a bit. This time, probably because it was the day before the 4th of July, it was just me and my kids! It was nice to have a paved trail. I’m plan to sometime get back up and hike up to Upper Falls, but not with the kids.

Red Ledges Picnic Area. This is up Diamond Fork Canyon – and they don’t call it Diamond Fork for nothing! Watch out for rattlesnakes!! We didn’t actually see any. But I’m not complaining. There are a bunch of little trails back behind the picnic tables, a natural arch just off to the side, and some pioneer stone carvings if you’re willing to do a (very) little rock climbing. Half our group decided to go adventuring up and over the rocks and cliffs, come back down the other side, and jump in the river across the road – while the other half played in the sand and visited for awhile, talking all things “homeschool.”

Scout Falls up American Fork Canyon. I had never heard of these waterfalls, but now I think this is one of my very favorite semi local hikes. We hiked at the peak of wildflower season, through a little valley, up the sides of the valley, over many little waterfalls and streams that crossed the trail, until we got to the REAL waterfalls we had come to see! Wow! Stunning views! And the weather was pretty cooperative, too! I tend to melt in the heat, so the cloud covering was really nice.

Stewart Falls near Aspen Grove. This is the twin sister of Scout Falls. Just kidding. I just made that up. But Stewart Falls is only a few miles – as the crow flies – from Scout Falls, although to drive there you have to tackle the canyon from the entire other side. Well, I do at least. This is my second time this summer taking this trail. This year the water level is REALLY high. I’ve never seen Stewart Falls so full. But apparently that wasn’t enough water, because it rained on us almost the entire hike! (Except of course on our way back when we were close to the cars.) Still, a little rain doesn’t hurt. It just makes it more memorable.

August Trails:

Spanish Fork River Trail. Another paved hike… but this one turned in to a bug hunt. We caught American Dagger Moth Caterpillars (watch out! I learned they are poisonous), LOTS of grasshoppers, Box Elder Beetles, a Praying Mantis, a big black unidentified beetle, and probably a few other things, too. We didn’t end up “hiking” very far, but we spent a lot of time up close and personal with nature. (And I still have bugs in jars in my kitchen.)

The Grotto Falls. Yes, we already did this one near the beginning of the summer. But it is such a popular little trail around here, I wanted to give others a chance to do it if they missed the first time. Super short. Super easy. Super fun. Super waterfall at the end. The kids decided to build waterways and dams out of the rocks and reroute the water into the stream. They were so sad when it was time to go. But I bribed them with snow cones. (Man! Snow cones have come a long way since I was a kid. I hadn’t had a snow cone in probably close to 30 years! These things were amazing. But sadly, no pictures.)

With each hike (besides the Provo River Trail hike) we averaged about 2 other families with us. These women and kids I have met are amazing people. They seem so solid, so reasonable, so responsible, and so friendly and welcoming.  I’ve had the opportunity to learn from seasoned homeschooling moms and also give advice and tips to newbies just starting out this fall. No matter where we are on the homeschool path, I’ve always felt like an equal with them. I feel like I’ve become friends with some really wonderful people.

As a homeschooler, one of the questions you often get is about socialization. Really, people want to know if your kids are going to be socially awkward because they don’t know how to act around other children. If you are worried about that, too, find a group to join. If you can’t find one, create a group. I always feel like I am in the best company when I am in the company of homeschooling families. (My kids don’t pick up bad habits and I am always welcomed with open arms.) What a comfortable place to be.

For us, it was hiking. Sometimes we attend park days with another group, too. For others, there are book clubs, or homeschooling science fairs (or any other sort of monthly or quarterly show and tell sort of thing.) I know groups who go on outdoor adventures throughout the entire year. There are groups that get together just for field trips. I just recently found out about groups of families who all use the same curriculum, and the moms and kids get together to share what they have done and how they have tackled the same topics, but in their own unique and creative way.

I also spent the first 4 years of my homeschooling “career” staying away from all groups entirely. That was good for me. It was just all so much and I needed to get the basics down, get a rhythm, figure out how in the world this was all going to work out for us, before I added more to the mix. Groups were just more, and I couldn’t take on any more for years. And now, during the school year, that is still mostly good for me, too. I need a little space – and having been at this homeschooling thing again for a whole two days now – I’m reminded that we do A LOT and it takes up A LOT of my time. I just don’t have a ton of time to get together weekly or monthly for something more.

But I know other moms who wanted and needed those groups from day one. And that is awesome.  Groups like these make life better. They make homeschooling easier – when you are ready for it, of course. They lessen your mother-in-law’s worries about you ruining her grandkids’ social skills. They lend support. They share ideas. They understand when you are in a slump, but they remind you that you will get out of it in time. They remind you that you don’t have to do everything all at once and that some things can go on the back burner for a while – or you can just chuck them out the window and you and your kids will turn out just as well.

I am so grateful to associate with these wonderful people.

I hope you also have the opportunity to mix and mingle with other homeschoolers – when you are ready. I hope you feel the support and approval and comfort I feel when I am with people who keep their kids close, but show them the entire world. And if you don’t have that yet, I will try to be that for you until you do.  When I supplicate God at night, I pray that something I will type or share someday will reach someone who could benefit from it.  (It’s probably not anything that has to do with hiking – but I just really like those photos and memories 🙂 .) I try to show how real this is. How hard it is. How sometimes my heart isn’t in it. How much the children whine. How good they are at complaining. The temper tantrums. The failed science experiments. The disappointment that things just aren’g going the way I so neatly planned on my cute little notebook!!!

And I try to show how good this is. How blessed I feel. How close our family has become. How much these kids know! How intelligent and knowledgable they are becoming, because they have a more appropriate opportunity to gain knowledge and experience. How much love we are experiencing. How much fun we have together. How enriched our lives are. How good this really is!

Hopefully, you get that sense – and some fun ideas and tips – and some good laughs – from these blog posts.

It’s not all A+s, gold stars, and recess. But it is full of wonder, growth, and it is life changing for the better.

Now – go find a trail to hike!