Tuesday, January 26, 2016

'A Little Latin, Less Greek'

In listening to Cindy Rollins' recording this summer over at Circe Institute, entitled 'The Long Haul: Morning Time' , I was truly inspired to rise to the challenge of an elite education for the ordinary kid. Or more likely, the ordinary parent.
If you have followed me for any time, you know that neo-classical education has been a part of our style of learning at home. But there comes a point when you must address basics that seem to be sliding through the cracks, like reading skills, math facts. We did that by cleaning the slate of all the extras, bells, whistles-- out they went.
Some will say, "But this is why we homeschool? right?" Actually, many homeschool because they are seeing something missing that has nothing to do with 'extras', but more are the nutrients of great learning. Maybe a child has learning issues, maybe the level of education isn't on a desired level. Lots, and lots of reasons.
Last summer, while planning for fall, I let Latin go. (audible gasp) The method we had used really was just spinning wheels. As much as I tried to effectively support this, it wasn't sticking (kind of like snow in the south--all the excitement--nothing to show for it. So I let it go. It was painful, but liberating. It gave us time to shore up some tools of learning that needing mending.
When you deal with a highly intelligent student whose executive skills are lacking, sometimes the balance of using the 'bright and shiny' is a challenge.
While many recommended curriculums promise attention keeping material, underlying learning issues continue to get in the way (fun, grade level, abridged math still requires memory of basic math facts), (group activity still requires focus on the instructor to learn the memory sentence/song/fact)
But at this point, I'm ready to re-engage with Latin. And most importantly, I believe he is too. We have developed a rhythm for reading and vocabulary, and it can be enhanced by an outside instructor that can be replayed, for auditory learning, enjoyed, because of the sense of humor, and visually followed in brevity, because of the limited written connection of on-screen print while speaker is presenting. All effective methods for learning. Sign me up. So I did.
I've signed up with Compass Community, using their $1 trial homeschool package, which includes 'Visual Latin.' (will go to reasonable charge of $14/month after month trial)
I arrived at this conclusion, after a search for material on logic. Realizing that there was a connection with Jim Nance, writer of the materials we'll likely use for logic, I felt confident this was worth the try.
I'm going to start today, and use in our phonemic awareness time slot. While phonemic awareness will continue to be important, keeping material at a level that is challenging to the (my) student is critical. Remember all those changes and needs that come with middle school? That's all there even if you are homeschooled. That student is developing a self-awareness, and phonics isn't on the priority list.
Carpe Diem!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Saint Augustine and Total Truth

Dad loaned me his copy of Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, back at Thanksgiving, and it has been most interesting to study the impact of culture on Christianity. While we march on, seemingly liberating ourselves, and 'catching up' with others who may believe in ideas far more progressive, we neglect to see how we are moving further and further away from truth. Truth we all, myself included, may not wish to embrace, but truth just the same.
In conjunction with Jack's reading, I have picked up City of God a translation of St. Augustine's great Christian classic. It is the abridged version, from Doubleday, Image Book. Even with abridgment, there's plenty there. His life seems fascinating.
This spurred me on to pick up and read ahead for Jack, Peril and Peace: Vol. I chronicles of the Ancient Church by Mindy and Brandon Withrow.   This is an easy age appropriate read of his early life, leaving no detail too vague, but adding a little more personality to the important characters in his life.

Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula gives another perspective appropriate for the younger reader.

Last but not least, I found myself reading the similar story found in 'Peril' in Augustine's own account of Confessions. While I have not read enough to make comment worth sharing, I have taken note that he was just like any human. His life was lived within the confines of culture of a people: a poly-theistic culture, with social norms and influences; flawed and loving parents, who shared what they thought to be best; friends who walked the same path right along side; experience of loss to which all mankind can relate.

Oh Augustine, I look forward to reading and hearing more about your life and thoughts later. For today, this mama must meet the challenges of her culture, marriage, family, and responsibilities.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 2015 - Lifemeds #49

I was encouraged this week to continue traditions. And longevity, consistency, even with break-down, will render a few traditions. The good kind.
For two years now, we have anticipated, waited in the box office line early in the morning, and gotten ourselves ready on a Saturday night, to head down to the Athens Symphony's free performance of a Christmas Concert. This opportunity is beyond amazing. It is a fully orchestrated, exquisitely divine effort on behalf of a wonderfully talented group of musicians, accompanied by the equally talented,Athens Chorus. The first half of the performance is more somber with a first half closing performance Handel's 'Messiah'- the Chorus portion. I knew I could pass on to glory after I'd managed somehow to get my hoolilgan bunch to this moment in our lives. To hear and stand with my family during this is a taste of heaven for me.
This year, we were treated to 'For Unto us a Child is Given', along with many other more traditional carols.
Inspired to connect and synthesize by my reading this summer, we continued to listen Pandora, from a channel called 'Frederic Handel'. Delight is mine. Over the next few days, I'll read passages from The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader, by Donna W. Payne and Fran Lenzo.

Most of our traditions, often painfully endured by active boys, are paving and smoothing their souls. Mine and my dear husband's too, but seeing them give in, listen even briefly. And hear them draw comparisons between this and last year. My joy is complete.

Another tradition, happening for much longer, is that of savoring in a variety of ways, Charles Dicken's, Christmas Carol. The text we have is a copy I picked up in an antique store. The illustrations are amazing. So detailed, showing Marley's horrifying teeth, and ghosts in an unforgettable way.
We have watched Jim Carey's/Disney's, 'A Christmas Carol' as well as the Star Trek Captain's version. And I'm sure from the reading, their comparision's were not favorable. It seemed in this version, Scrooge was less frightened than he was annoyed by the ghost of Marley. But everything but that is perfect in that scene. Even as Marley approaches the window the sash rises, just as it says in the book. The mother and her child are in the street, and was mentioned by Jack to be accurate as the ghost tried to give them a treasure chest, but could not.
A few years ago, in a December, Eric gave what we call in our faith tradition, 'the invitation', to give one's life to Christ, be reconciled publically to His body. He referred to this passage, 'It is required of everyman......', to walk among and consider his fellowman. Deeply, a passage from which every person may draw.
Life-meds #50
~blessings which I may manage.
~needs sufficiently met
~a sovereign and faithful God
~a Savior who seeks those who seek Him.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reading 2015 - Commonplace Book

When you stumble upon something good you want to share.
For nearly 20 years, I've been chatting daily with my best friend about everything.
The day we first moved apart, we simply said, 'I'll talk to you tomorrow.' And we have.
Changes haven't altered our conversation. While my kiddos, both, got on the bus, I had talked her into Classical Conversations. We talked on. When hers went for a year to public school, we honored each other's schedules and broke our unspoken no-call rule on Saturday. Family-first and all.
But yesterday, I told her about something I knew she'd love. Sometimes there really isn't enough time to tell it all, and I'd only mentioned over the summer I was reading this  or that. She didn't know I was studying. I was digging deeper.

I had begun while reading Karen Glass's Consider This not realizing I was using the very tool implemented by great readers for years, perhaps centuries.
The following is from Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace, by Sarah Mackenzie, famous most lately for her phenomenal Read Aloud Revival.
-- "Commonplace books aren't anything new. For centuries, these personal collections have played a significant role in the way scholars read, learn, and remember. They paint a beautiful picture of an individual's growth over time-- of his or her personal journey of learning and growing." Passages, thoughts, reflections, "Anything I read that causes me to pause and read again--to stop and savor the words or ponder the message-- it all belongs in my book."
I don't know about you, but I seem to hear a lot, but can't remember where I read or heard it. And the only way I have been successful in collecting thoughts is to gather them together. Whether it is related to faith, school, marriage, children, family, food, ..... It goes in my book. 

This isn't a recipe collection. It's a collection of the bigger discussions I have in my head, so that when I actually am speaking with a person, my words are clearer. I can effectively share my thoughts. Perhaps the most important reason, I can be at peace with my thoughts and convictions. Being a functioning mother/wife/friend is important to honoring God. Sanity is priority.
I have found a commonplace book to be sanity-saving. I have been able to generate gumption I didn't know I could muster, when my life's events seemed to go against what I knew to be true. I carefully and humbly add, it has helped me submit to God's purposes, when the path of least resistance has been so easily accessible.
Mine isn't a prayer journal, yet it contains prayers.
It isn't a book-study, yet, it does contain copious notes from selected books.
I know it's working when books cross paths. Especially when podcast/recorded word crosses with timeless written. Like these and these.
I've recently gathered up a few new to me texts that will also receive their dose of notes and marking. But the commonplace book is the billboard where I can collect these writers and many times great thinkers,-- have a conversation with them. Call them back to my living room, drink coffee with them and visit. I can wander to another mother's journey and see her notes on how an idea plays out in real life. Because she's reading the same things I've been, my commonplace book in hand, her insights to be pondered.

I use the $1 cardboard cover composition books. But that's me. I use the metal grabber clips to keep only a few items that might have been scratched out when I didn't have my book. But these get transcribed or taped in.
I wish not to be pulled to and fro by every idea out there, troubled in my soul, wondering if I'm foolish for believing something. I wish to take every thought captive, or at least a few that might aid in honoring God more fully.
I have only received 'Teaching from Rest' just a day ago. (Merry Christmas to me.)
and have also received Mind to Mind: an Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason and Karen Glass. I remember Karen 'talking' about it this summer. I couldn't wait, but had to, looking forward to see how she accomplished this endeavor.
So while these are the thinking books I have decided to savor this spring semester, I shared with Leslie a couple of others I've selected to study. 

Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy. (scored with Dad's notes included-- I'll return it Dad....)
The Ring of Truth J.B. Phillips A Translator's Testimony.
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
The Feminization of American Culture by Ann Douglas (selected based on a reference made in a podcast at Circe Institute Conference by Angelina Stanford 'What is Woman? A Reexamination of Feminism and the Church.' found under Resources- Free Audio Library.
Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips

One further thought I would add, because Leslie brought it up.
Ann Voskamp has been sharing her blessings for years now. Her book brought the story full-circle, explaining how she came to her need to count 1000 gifts.
I have called mine 'lifemeds' and stopped counting individually and just listed the posts.
I can easily reference, back by title. But I'm seeing now, the beauty of writing these in a composition book, much like my commonplace book.
I can see the penmanship, and the coffee stain, the wine spill, the stress or ease of my handwriting. So fewer posts, online, as I tend to get sucked into media quicker than I count blessings and gifts. I am indebted to those who have begun the greater conversations, of faith and confidence and to friends, like Leslie, who think great thoughts, no matter where they heard them or generated them. Her thoughts on contentment were shared and I'm sure have already made their way into her commonplace book today. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 2015 - Lifemeds #48

'Be kind.'
'Kindness always.'
These are the usual words you'll hear me say first when an argument or disagreement, no matter how mild it may be, breaksout within our home. 
I've taken to making these signs, on leftover wood, and pass them out as gifts. It seems to be a universally understood way of saying so many things one might wish to share with children arguing-- adults for that matter. 

While words will stick if repeated over and over, often its the experience of being kind to someone or something that will create a memory, a feeling that cannot be reversed. The momentum of goodness is started, and one cannot deny its existence. In our world, pets seem to take over. Exhibit 'A'. As temporary as this moment was, (she's not allowed to remain here)its a telling moment. Peaceful, even. Lucy is here to stay. 
Curly and Larry, the cats, are long members of the family. As abrasive as the light in the photo is, their calming influence on our home is just as firmly planted as they are cozily snuggled in this bed.
Every part and action of a home is telling.
While the world rages on, we will continue to keep the peace here in our home. Serenity. For now.    

Friday, August 21, 2015

Life Meds #47 August 2015

Birthdays in August- we celebrated both boys, Jack 12, and Henry 9. Nana made a Mandarin orange cake for candles. All the adults had 2 slices. 

We started academics at home this week. Ancient History Writing IEW is amazing. Any edition is great. We have already tackled ziggurats in style.
Dory shared her garden of volunteer tomatoes and peppers. I canned and have shared. But still have plenty if Jalepenos. Yum.
So hard to believe we're in the last year before teens. And Henry. This boy.
Football. Oh my. 9U. Love this boy.
Every Saturday till November.

Counting my blessings. So thankful for life, opportunity. 
Life Meds. Don't stop counting. One Thousand Gifts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer 2015 - Lifemeds #46

The summer has flown by. 2 months were not enough. June and July. August 5 brings me to the first day of school for Henry, and 2 weeks from our official start up for Jack.
It seems it has never stopped.
We had a wonderful summer, full of adventure, swimming, and fun. Heat brought a longing for fall and winter, seasons that change our hearts and minds.
Here's a glimpse, don't blink-- you'll miss it!!

Life's problems are just 
the management of blessings. 
Counting them is Lifemeds. 
#46 times to be exact.