Sunday, September 04, 2016

The 2015-16 School Year - Here We Go

With one warm-up week under our belts, it's time for the traditional start of the academic year. Every year on the first day back to school social media is flooded with photos of all the kids in their new stuff headed out, holding signs "Some Grade" or scowling with displeasure because they are really to old for this and mom won't let go of the tradition.

I always feel a little strange on that day because we're doing the same thing we always do, and in fact, I have tried to minimize the notion that school and the life we live are separate entities. It doesn't keep me from getting very worked up about having everything cleaned up and prepped and some new system in place for keeping us organized every fall. There is still a necessary return to a routine that we inevitably lose over the summer.

But there are things this year that are different. I no longer have a child in grammar level studies. I have one middle-school girl and one high-school boy, and it seems strange even to call him a boy because he is such a young man. I have been going through books and find that toys and children's books that we have held on to and cherished have fallen into disuse and are no longer needed. I have a LOT of old curricula to sell. I figure it's a project I'll work on gradually this year, but it's time. 

Matt has exchanged legos for computer parts
The thing that has changed the most is that Matt will no longer be my student. I have entrusted him to the capable folks at The Well-Trained Mind Academy, established by Susan Wise Bauer, author of the Well-Trained Mind. 

Matt's coursework will be:

Rhetoric I
US History
World Literature
Math through Mr. D Math 
Latin II through Dwane Thomas (who was the creator of Visual Latin, a video-based curriculum that we enjoyed and learned of through Compass Classroom.)
CrossFit / PE

This big change leaves Molly and me on our own, and we are both excited about the possibility. Without the co-op situation we have had for so long, we have decided to deviate from Tapestry of Grace this year, while staying on course with the same time period schedule we have been on so as not to backtrack, repeat, or leave holes. We are going back to our roots and will be using Well-Trained Mind (WTM) methods for her work as well. Her workload will increase by virtue of the fact that she can't slip through the cracks, not to mention I know just how capable she is of doing more! I don't know if she's excited about that. We will still be meeting with a friend once a week for science, logic, art and lunch. 

Molly's course work will be:

Math - Math U See, Epsilon, Zeta
Grammar - Analytical Grammar
Writing - The Complete Writer and beginning Writing With Skill, writing across the curricula, some creative writing.
French - Duolingo 
History - Story of the World, beginning with the early American Republic and French Revolution through Modern Times.
Science - Apologia Anatomy
Logic - Fallacy Detective
Art - Coursework designed by Mom from various resources

And so it begins. Again. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

When you Know Someone Famous...

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer was a bedrock foundation for me when I first started homeschooling. I have now purchased my third edition of this, the fourth that has been published.

The Story of the World, also by Susan Wise Bauer, was without question my favorite history series, a foundation and spine for our study of history. Even when I began using Tapestry of Grace, we still used the SOTW selections that corresponded with the unit we were on.

We listened to Story of the World read by Jim Weiss over and over.

We grew very accustomed to his voice. We bought many, many of his CDs. We liked that he and Susan Wise Bauer worked together.

Lately I've gotten to know a friend at church, and naturally I wanted to know her kids who are grown and on their own a bit better. Started following them on Instagram. One day I'm on and I see this:

hmmmm...I know that story. As Written by Jim W.... must be Jim Weiss. SO I put two and two together and realize that my friend's daughter is illustrating for Jim Weiss and Well Trained Mind Press, and she confirmed that, not fully understanding the magnitude of what she was doing. As far as I could tell. I think she does now. At least she'd better, or I'll tell her mom.

She's basically a rock star in our world. She has become the illustrator to one of the other rock stars in our life. We met Jim Weiss, we went to hear him tell stories live. He signed our CDs. Okay, so he might not be the BIGGEST of stars, not like Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift or Zac Efron or Sean Connery, but in our childhood world of homeschooling and stories and history and things that we's a big deal. And getting bigger apparently.

So Basically what I'm saying is you need to go to her website and look at her awesome work and then follow her on Instagram @christinianarva on Instagram. I feel like I kinda know someone famous. Well...she will be someday. You can get to know her better here in this article / interview with her.

I would post it all here, but I don't want to violate just go follow her stuff, and look for more of her work in all your Well Trained Mind publications.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer 2016

I am writing this after a lengthy hiatus from blogging. 

It has been a very full school year with very little time to spare. In spite of the fact that I so often find myself longing to process things in writing, I seldom have the time and energy. Sitting down for any amount of time usually results in me thinking "wow, I want to go to bed," and so I do.

Today, both of my children are down in our basement culling through their toys. Molly is now 11, Matt is nearly 15. The day has finally come when he is willing to pack and store away his legos. He is finally admitting to himself that he doesn't play with them anymore, and the train table that eventually became his lego workshop and now only comes up to about his knees, can finally be relinquished. What mixed emotions we are all experiencing. Molly is doing a good job of evaluating her toys as well, though she isn't as close to being "done" with them. Even so, she is most certainly changing in her interests and activities. I can't help but feel nostalgic. These changes have opened so many new doors, and we have made wonderful memories.

We have traveled this year, and it has been unforgettable.

This past weekend my husband, son and I traveled to Austin, TX for the USAW Junior National Championship. Matt qualified for the meet in April and competed in the 62 kg weight class. He finished 10th in his weight class of 14 competitors.

In May our family took a one-week diving trip to Bonaire.

In March we took a 10-day diving trip to Roatan, Honduras.

In November 2015 we took a week-long trip to Florida to visit family.

In October 2015 we took a three-day trip to Historic Williamsburg and Jamestown.

We studied, we grew. It was full and wonderful.

But now, the inevitable cleaning and re-organizing and preparation for the next season is upon us.

This time, it feels different. 

It has come about that the friends that we have traveled this path with for the past 8 years have changed course. I know this happens. Not all who educate from home have the desire to stay the course through high school, but now it has come to land rather unexpectedly on our doorstep. It caused me to feel shaken, uncertain, worried that I wouldn't be able to do this on my own. The simple fact is that I am overwhelmed by the prospect, but the Lord knew this. In seeking His guidance on the matter, we are ready to persevere in high school for yet another year. I have sought some outside help this time, though, and have enrolled my rising sophomore in The Well Trained Mind Academy online courses for Chemistry, History and Literature, and in Dwane Thomas's Lingua Latina 2 and Mr. D Math (for Geometry). Incidentally, the mom of one of his favorite friends from our long-standing co-op looked into what we are doing and felt that it was a great fit for her son, too! We signed them both up and it works out that they will do more things "together" than they would have if they had continued in co-op.

What God knows and I am becoming increasingly aware of is that a young man needs to be accountable to someone other than his mom. Matt was trying to tell me this in ways that I'm not sure he even knew, but the relief that he feels knowing that he will have outside instruction and accountability shows me that this is a healthy change for both of us. This situation will hopefully provide the right amount of academic challenge and still afford us greater flexibility than a conventional school would.

As I write this post I am filled with bittersweet memories and thoughts of the future. As we loosen the reins on my son's education to some extent, I will have time to focus on my girl and the greater needs that she will have in this her first of the middle school year. Maybe I'll find the time to write again. I hope.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Week 6: Six Reps of Anything...

It might have been mentioned here before that the kids, my husband and I all do CrossFit together. In any warmup, workout, or set of any kind, six reps is manageable. Six pushups are fine, six pull-ups, six kettle bell swings, six cleans...after that is where the struggle begins.

I'm pretty proud to say that I did 100 burpees today. Ten sets of 10. Every single set that number 7 rep felt pretty old. But I did it, and I am still walking. In fact I was a little winded, but I walked away from that workout feeling good. Good? After burpees?

We are on week six of school. Everything has felt good up to this. We now have weeks 7, 8 and 9 to go before we get a bit of a break, at which point we will go to Williamsburg to see what we see there.

I will look forward to the break and push through as though these weeks are the next few reps of a set of 10.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Week 5: Thinking About Art

This week has blown by, and now it's Sunday and I realize that I haven't written anything! I know that I'm hitting a groove when I find that I have little to say about the school week and begin thinking about non-school things like watching Downton Abbey (again), and art, and playing the guitar, all of which are in the forefront of my mind at the moment.

On Friday the 18th Molly and I went into the city to see the Gustave Caillebotte exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. It was incredible. Add him to the list of my favorite artists. I had the opportunity to really observe how my daughter interacts with great works of art. She appreciated Rembrandt and the Dutch Masters and the big, showy works of the Neo-Classical era. We walked through those galleries without much emotion. Then we came to the galleries that housed religious art and icons from the middle ages. We found that section to be a tad creepy. I suppose I always have, and Molly was not at ease with them, either. Right after that we walked into the gallery that houses the major impressionists, and Molly's mouth dropped open and she just stared. She walked over to this painting and stood looking for a bit. I walked up beside her and she said, "Now THAT'S art!"

Girl With a Watering Can
Pierre-Augste Renior
I'm not entirely sure why this was the painting that caught her eye, but after that we looked at all the Impressionist paintings carefully, and she was awed by them. Then we went to the Caillebotte exhibit and the first thing I saw walking in was this painting:

Something in me jumped, then felt as if I had just arrived home from being gone for a long time, and I knew I had seen that painting somewhere before. Walking up to it, I realized that its home is the Chicago Art Institute, and of course--I had been there quite a few times when I was in my last months of single life--a poor grad student wishing that I could live a care-free life as an artist and writer. I love this painting. 

But then we turned our attention to this one, and this was the one I really had wanted to see:

We stared at it long and hard when we first went into the exhibit, then toured the whole gallery, then came back and observed some more. Cumulatively we stared at this painting for about 30 minutes, is my guess. If it wasn't that long, it sure felt like it. We were both captivated by it and fascinated by the play of light and the colors and the delicate attention to detail. Molly asked to return to the exhibit after exiting several times, just for one last look. I obliged, of course.

We both agreed that this one was not our favorite. 

Yuck! I'm not entirely sure why he felt compelled to paint that, but apparently it has enough of that je ne sais quoi to hang in the museums of the world. Okay, moving on. I love art, don't get me wrong. I don't like raw meat. Fine art and raw meat cancel each other out. This should not exist based on that little corollary.

Now I am informed that the last edition of the Apostle's edition of the St. John's Bible has just gone exhibit at the Library of Congress. This is a trip we need to take, and will do, ASAP. I have waited to see this for years. I cannot wait!

The Seven Days of Creation Illumination, St. John's Bible