Thursday, April 29, 2010

Challenge On-going . . .

I finished Little Britches and am onto the next step in the Putting Thomas Jefferson Education to Work challenge. Step four is: Read and Annotate a Classic. You are to complete the following steps in one week.

1. Read once through the Declaration of Independence

2. Read it again, this time looking up every unclear word in a dictionary. Write down each definition.

3. Read it again and write down 10 ideas that are interesting to you from the reading.

4. Sit down with at least 2 people and explain your ten ideas to them. Give them a copy of the Declaration so you can refer to specific items during your explanation.

I completed step one last night and will get going on the other steps. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Be A Part . . .

First, I wanted to say how excited I am today! I finally received my downloads from the TJEd 2010 Forum and am so excited to listen to them. As I said in an earlier post, I felt so enriched and motivated after the forum, so I hope that listening to the downloads will bring me a similar type of feeling.

Last night, my husband and I went to a city council meeting and Ky and Bugaloo came with us. We gave them the option of coming with us or staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house with Peaches and JJ. I had a feeling Ky would want to go, she has asked many questions about government, especially local government. I wasn't too sure that Bugaloo wanted to go, but she said she did, and off we went. Within the first 5 minutes, I could tell by the look on Bugaloo's face that she was bored out of her mind. The empty stare, the chin on the hand, the huffing, the red-eyed almost ready to cry look. When I asked what was wrong, she calming said, "Mom, this is soooo boring." So I pulled the notebook out of my purse and she proceeded to draw pictures the rest of the 2 1/2 hour long meeting.

Ky, on the other hand, was very interested. She kept asking questions about the procedure. We were there in opposition to some zoning changes that will affect our neighborhood and it was an intense and emotional meeting. There were many new things we learned. Ky had a question about the procedure after one of the council votes and so at the end of the meeting, we asked the Mayor and a council member if they could explain to her what would now happen and they were gracious and helpful.

The thing that I found interesting, was this; there were about 80-90 people in attendance to show opposition for the zoning change, (which is great, community action at work) but after that agenda item was finished and closed to public discussion, everyone left. The Mayor said that there were a few more items for the council to take care of, so anyone that wanted to stay could, or you could go. Every person left the room, except those that needed to be there for another agenda item (this was only 3 people). I was shocked to see that no one was staying for the remainder of the meeting. I stay seated and looked at my husband (he was also putting on his jacket). I said that I thought we should stay, we were there to experience government and we would stay til the meeting ended.

I think that spoke loudly about a lot of the problem with government in our country. No one wants to get involved or participate unless it is something that they feel directly affects them. I should know, I used to be one of those types of people. We need to realize that it ALL DIRECTLY or INDIRECTLY affects each and every one of us.

We even had people thank us for staying and at one point the Mayor asked us if we were there for another reason. I said no, we are here to experience our government. So, when we got in the car I announced that I would be attending all the city council meetings were possible and asked if Ky and Bugaloo wanted to go with me. Bugaloo, of course, said no (and that is fine, maybe someday) but Ky said that she would really like to.

I do want to instill in my children an overwhelming feeling of patriotism for this wonderful country we are lucky to call home. I looked up the definition of the word patriotism:

"love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it."

I think this is a great way to start. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our Week . . .

I know it has been a while since I did a weekly update, so here we go!

We have been deep into Core Phase and are loving every bit of it. The kids have really been super helpful with our family work time and it is amazing how, in such a short amount of time, they are getting it! We have taken some ( ok, a lot) breaks throughout our day to read and read and read. We are almost finished with Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. The kids find it hilarious, especially Ky and Bugaloo.

Speaking of the oldest two, they have dived into beginning Love of Learning. Ky has been reading a biography on Tchaikovsky and listening to many of his works. She has also been reading books about soccer. Bugaloo has devoured the books about drawing that I found at the library. She said that she wanted to learn more about technique, but I noticed that she has skipped over that part of the book to the How-to's. I am fine with that, she is getting the books and putting her nose in it and besides, she LOVES it. She also read a couple of books about hummingbirds and soccer.

Ky reading in an insect field guide about crickets.

I am almost done with Little Britches, and even though I have already read Anne of Green Gables, I will read it again for the challenge. It amazes me that as a wife and mother, I get so nervous about making decisions for our family and home, yet when I do, remembering to keep the Lord in the decision, the result brings peace, order, understanding, I could go on and on. It has been a wonderful week.

We didn't get outside quite as much as we would have liked. It rained for the better part of the week, but we also enjoyed seeing the rain turn all the world green outside. I hope that you are all having a welcoming Spring as well. Enjoy!

JJ looking outside at the rain.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Home Again . . .

"Families were made to cling
together,and stand by each
other in every circumstance of
life -- joy or sorrow."

Mother Stanton, Laddie: A True Blue Story, Page 370

I don't think that I could express how much I loved this book. I learned so much about family, love, regret, and more. The ideals expressed about community and learning were so parallel to my own and I found a sense of support in it's pages. For a more complete review, go here.

I thank Heavenly Father everyday for my wonderful family and for the opportunity that I have to be here with them, to love and grow. I am especially grateful to have my husband, the world traveler, back home. I was so excited for the experience he had. Isn't it wonderful to have all those you care about so close? We love you Honey and are so excited to have you back!!!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Berries & Beans . . .

Today, we had a great time in the kitchen making strawberry jam. I got some really yummy strawberries, for a great deal, in my last Bountiful Baskets order (If you haven't heard of this and live in AZ, UT, ID, WY, NV, WA, check it out!) so Ky, Bugaloo, and I donned our aprons and set to work.

After rinsing them, Bugaloo cut the stems off and then Ky cut them in half to be put in the food processor. They were real troopers and we all had a great time. Peaches, Ky and Bugaloo then helped fill the food processor so that we could prep the berries. I took the reins from here and finished the jam. It was a lot of fun and we probably ate more than a good share of the strawberries also.

During this time, the littles were busy playing with their beans. Really, a cookie tray filled with pinto and black beans is entertainment for JJ and Peaches. With measuring cups and spoons found at the dollar store, they love to fill, measure, and dump over and over again. They also have a couple of cookie cutters that they like to fill.

JJ likes to drive his tractors through the beans. Future bean farmer? Well, it is in the family. Ok, way, way, WAY down in the family, but you never know.

Peaches' specialty was her "Bean & Pizza Soup". She was very specific in her description of how she washed and boiled the beans and then added hints of pizza for a great flavor. In true fashion, she served everyone a helping and I think we may have a budding cook!

It was a great day! The girls really liked helping out and being a part of the experience. I really loved having them there with me, too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Core Book . . .

I know, two posts in one day. It may be overkill, but when you have a thought in your head, sometimes you just need to get in down in words.

A central part to TJEd is choosing a "Core Book" or as some call it a "Central Classic" for you and/or your family. It is worthwhile to know, truly know, what the definition of a core book is so you can feel that you truly have chosen one. Here are a couple of links that I think explains it nicely:

For us, I immediately knew what our core book is. It is more like a core set for us. Our core books/central classics are made up of 4 scriptural works; the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. I feel like these works exemplify the meaning that Oliver DeMille gives of a Central Classic:

"A central classic should teach, provide questions, stimulate thinking, challenge assumptions, motivate and uplift. It should be challenging, and provide a standard against which to measure and compare other works."

While I was studying in one of our Core Books, I read a couple of versus that truly describe the atmosphere of learning that we want in our home and for our children. So, I am going to be so bold as the say, that I believe that one can even have a Core Phrase/Motto/Mantra/Verse/Quote, whatever you would like to call it. We found one that, in our season of life, works perfect for the goals of our family.

It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 88 : 118-119.
(Doctrine & Covenants is a book of scripture believed to be modern day revelation for Prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

It reads:

" . . . yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom;
seek learning,
even by study and also by faith. Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and
a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting,
a house of faith,
a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of
order, a house of God."

I have a copy of this printed out and displayed on our counter where it is visible to all. We will work on understanding the meaning of these verses during our devotional and whenever the opportunity arises. I see the principle taught in them as a sure foundation to our homes school.

Mentor Meetings . . .

I have been reading in A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion and am finding the information so refreshing and helpful. I like that it is full of actual ways that the authors have incorporated TJEd into their lives. I have had "mentor meetings" with each of the kids. This is simply a time that I have talked one on one with each child and asked them how they think things are going. What do they think about our family work time, devotion time, free time? Is there anything that they are interested in learning more about? I got them each a small yearly planner. Some of them had specific things that they expressed interest in learning more about, so we wrote them down in the notes section of the planner and each day when it is time for free time, if they are interested in doing some learning, they can get out the planner and look through their options and move on from there.

Ky, for example, said that she wants to learn more about composers and their music. She has also challenged herself to learn the song, "He Sent His Son", on the piano like the article in this month's Friend magazine. Bugaloo wants to learn more about art and art technique. She also wants to learn about hummingbirds. Peaches said that she wants to get books about adventure. They all want to learn more about soccer. They are playing in the spring league and want to learn the rules and how to play better.

I will provide books and other forms of information on these topics for them to absorb whenever their little hearts desire. Ky and Bugaloo have helped with meals this last week. They seem to really love it and I think Ky is not too far off from independent cooking.

Ky and Bugaloo are definitely ready for Love of Learning and so I am trying to slowly transition; giving them time to get into it. I want to make sure that we don't completely miss the benefits of a strong Core Phase. Well, that is about it for now. I am still reading and trying to mold our home learning into the vision we have.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Transition . . .

So, in an earlier post, I mentioned that we were going to change things in our learning. I have always felt like I wanted more of a full time learning environment in our home. When people ask me when we do school or how long do we spend each day doing school work, I always say that we are always learning. Yes, the clerk at the store does give me a strange look.

So, for the last couple of weeks, I have just been letting the family go through "Core" phase and observing. For more about Core phase you can go here. I think that Ky and Bugaloo are ready for Love of Learning, but I want to spend a little more time on Core just to cement some ideals and tasks in their minds an habits.

I have also been doing a lot of reading and research into the different phases and how to use them. I am getting a lot of good ideas and info and everything I read just makes me feel more and more like it is the right path to go for our family.

Here is what we have started so far:

In the mornings, after breakfast, we have our devotional which consists of family prayer, reading from our core book (scriptures), singing songs, reading a story from the Friend magazine or other "core book" support material, and discussing our day ahead. We then finish getting ready for the day; this consists of grooming and dressing & tidying up our beds and rooms. When that is done, we dive into family work together. This can include things like folding and putting away laundry, vaccuum, dusting, dishwasher, general picking up, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping, garbage, etc. A change for me is that I am DOING these things more WITH the kids than before. I used to send them off the do their "chores" and I would do mine. Now I am making more of an effort to do everything together and even involve Peaches and JJ in a lot of the work. For example, we moved JJ into a "big boy bed" (ok, it is a toddler bed, but not to him.) This morning, I asked him to come help with his room and he spread the blanket up and put his animals on his bed in true 2 year old fashion. It was perfect.

Ky and Bugaloo also spend this time with their piano practice. We take one or two breaks during this time to sit together and read. We read "fun" stories that the littles enjoy and get excited about or we read a longer book that we have been working on together.

I think that is good for now. I don't want to make this too long and boring. I will continue another post about what we do the other half of the day. Until then . . . enjoy your day!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Distractions & Changes . . .

I haven't been posting a lot about weekly learning lately, but it has been for good reason.

#1 . . . We decided to take our "spring break" (whatever that means) this last week. We have had three extra little boys join us for the week and they have kept us all entertained and busy. It is always fun to have cousins come to stay and the kids have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Ky and Bugaloo have continued to read in their books. Ky is now reading the last book of May Bird and Bugaloo started on Anne of Green Gables. It has been quite a challenge for me to keep my studying and reading going with the addition of little ones. I guess that when you have 7 kids ages 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 2, 9 months there is a lot more time demanded of oneself. So I applaud all you mothers out there that have more than 4 kids and can still do it all. Hurray!!! You are utterly amazing!!

#2 . . . My second reason is that with the studying I have been doing in TJEd and other reading, has encouraged me to go about our learning in a different way. I decided to take a break from the binder work and "forced" learning and just focus on our home environment and skills that we want the kids to learn. So, I am observing and we will go from there. I will post later about what we see and decide to do.

TJEd Challenge Update

I finished The Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour and am now into Laddie. Moving right along . . .