Friday, January 29, 2016

High School Homeschooling - Not For the Fainthearted

High school. The ultimate adventure - and most terrifying leap - of a homeschool family. Sitting down this summer, Connor and I worked hard to figure out what his freshman year would look like. It looked different every time we talked, and it changed and morphed as the first semester went along. The beauty of this journey is that you can tweak as you go in order to find out what works best for each child. It is a bit more daunting, though, once you have to begin contemplating the dreaded "T" word - transcripts! Aaaaah!!

As for the subjects we chose, here is a list of what made the cut:

Foreign Language - Rosetta Stone Spanish
Logic - All in One Homeschool Foundations
Math - Math U See Geometry
Science - Apologia Biology
History - Our Constitution Rocks!
               Political Science - Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused?
                                             Bluestocking Guide: Political Philosophies
Bible - All in One Homeschool Bible I
English -  Spelling You See
                All in One Homeschool Literature and Composition I
Elective - LCA Yearbook

High School workload - Yikes!


We have always struggled with what to use for Connor's Language Arts, and this year has been no exception. It's been difficult finding anything that he could learn from without being terribly frustrated, therefore making me frustrated, as well. We tried the AIO curriculum, then tried Lifepac, and have finally found some things from Schoolhouse Teachers. I think we will finish the year with what he is using now, which is:
Spelling You See
High School Literature, Schoolhouse Teachers
Daily Grammar, Schoolhouse Teachers

While we are blessed with an amazing co-op that we utilize for some of the meatier subjects, Connor has had a very full schedule and a rigorous work load. He is holding his head up, but he will be the happiest boy ever when summer break finally arrives.

Through one of his co-op classes, Connor has found a new passion in life. And while I should not have been surprised, knowing the strong convictions and opinions of his father, I actually have been. Connor LOVES politics. He has been studying Government at home and Political Science at co-op. Taking these courses simultaneously has really opened his eyes. He has made comments during the evening news, or shared news articles he's read online with me, and he definitely is forming his own opinions and convictions. Kelly and I have had numerous conversations with him about our civil liberties, the strength of our Constitution, and the moral fiber of the men and women striving to be in the coming presidential race. Connor's teacher recently told his wife how much he loves having Connor in his class. He said that he can tell that he knows what he is talking about, and he is not just echoing someone else's ideas. High praise, indeed!  

Geometry has been challenging for him, but I know he has brightened when a concept is made concrete in his brain. I love watching his face when it finally clicks - it's just as fun now as when he was just a little thing learning to read and count!

Biology has been its own monster for him. He loves the labs, and he's done well with his tests here at home...but he failed a certain project, and it has made a big dent in his grade. With the new semester still ahead, and more projects to come, I am certain he will come out with a decent grade in the end.

This is Connor's second year on the LCA Yearbook staff. He has really enjoyed it. The teachers are great, and most of his best friends are on staff with him. Being a staff of mostly wild, hyper teenage boys, I was very impressed with the quality of what they put out last year. I am excited to see this year's final project!

And of course, there has been the additions of what I've reviewed for the TOS Review Crew. Connor participated in our family bible study from Grapevine that covered the Old Testament from Genesis to Job. He also reviewed a Logic book for me from The Critical Thinking Co and loved it!

On top of all that, Connor has kept up with his household chores (mostly), stayed active in his youth group, rejoined Boy Scouts and achieved rank (2nd class), made numerous birthday cakes for friends and family members, and has had a (very) part-time job working horses for a family friend. It's been a trying year, with a lot of lessons learned, and a lot of mistakes and corrections made. But I'm proud of what he's accomplished.

I love this man-child of mine so very much. And I continue to count and savor my days with him, as I know the time is getting short. All too soon, I'll be dropping that hyphen, and a man will be standing before me. Oh, the joy being his mother brings me! He is growing into himself, slowly. Sometimes painfully. With Kelly and I helping as much as possible (and Kelly holding me back many times to let him fall and fail, and pick himself up). God is doing a work in him, and I can't wait to see what He brings forth. I'm humbled by the fact He chose me to help shape him into the man he will become - not to mention shake in my boots to think how very often I've come short of the mark. But not because of me...despite me...God will finish the work. For this I'm thankful.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Martin

Living in the country on a hobby farm has its privileges, but it is definitely not all fun and games. With this lifestyle, our family has special opportunities to experience life to its fullest. To appreciate life, to see it up close and personal from the very first breath. And sometimes...those lives don't last very long, and you have to take the time to pick up the pieces. This week was one of those times.

Last Monday, on Martin Luther King, Jr Day, Kelly's dad was out feeding hay. He came to the house and asked Kelly to come help him with something. The next thing I know, there is a baby calf in my basement in front of the wood stove. The mama had given birth and cleaned him off as best she could, but he couldn't stand. By the time Kelly got out there, he was stuck half frozen to the ground. He got him inside, called for the kids, and they all went to work.


Kelly and the kids grabbed all the towels they could get their hands on and began to rub, rub, rub. The poor little guy was very cold. We didn't take his body temperature, but it was frighteningly low. 


Caleb really thought body heat would be best! He laid on top of the calf and just gave him lots of love. Then Kelly had to explain to him that he could be making it harder for the calf to breathe, so he laid down beside him instead.


He didn't eat for hours. When they finally got him to drink some milk replacer from the bottle, the kids were over the moon! They decided to name him Martin, since he was born on the Preacher's birthday. 



We kept him in the house for three days. The kids got to play with him, love on him, feed him. They were glad when Kelly propped him up and he stood for a few brief stints. Kelly and Pops decided we could move him to the barn. Pops said he'd take care of the morning feed, but Chloe would be in charge of the afternoon and evening bottles. She was very excited.

Things went well for a couple days. But Martin never got up and stood on his own. Sunday night, Kelly prepared the kids. Martin had developed pneumonia, and he didn't expect the calf to make it overnight. They were sad, but stoic. This morning, Kelly found him. He didn't make it. Chloe was devastated. We have lost animals before. They know that's part of country life. But this is the first time it's been so personal. To take care of an animal and then lose him simply broke their hearts, especially Chloe. They do understand the sadness of the circle of life. But they are also learning to take the joy in it while they can. Because all life is precious. And we are truly blessed.



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Beyond What the Eye Can See

WORD!

For anybody who knows me, you'll know that books and movies play a HUGE part of who I am. I have been a voracious reader since before I can remember, and I grew up with my parents owning video stores. So to quote random movies or books in general conversation is just the norm for me. I know, it's annoying. I understand, you probably don't get the inside jokes or puns from books and movies that make me laugh hysterically. But please don't judge.

It's fun for me as my children have gotten older to see them make this distinction. Yes, you can love movies. You can be thoroughly entranced and drawn into the pixellated world before you...but delve into the pages of a book...find a whole world that, while the words paint pictures in partiality, you still add your own interpretations. You can truly become friends with books.

My kids have groaned over the years as I've watched a movie after having read a book. I'll be 1 part entertained, 3 parts outraged. How dare they desecrate my friends, my imaginings, like this??? But as they have grown and begun reading more literature (both classic and contemporary), I have seen and heard the looks and gasps from them, as well. And let me tell you: it. Thrills. My. Soul! To know that they've become so involved with the storylines that they notice subtle (and often not so subtle) plot changes or character inferences makes me know that my children have become readers. Kindred spirits (do you know this reference??)! And I absolutely love it.

Canon has been reading the Harry Potter series. He is on The Prisoner of Azkaban right now. We sat down and watched The Sorceror's Stone tonight. It took a lot for me to stifle my laughs when I could hear him in his chair muttering partially intelligible grunts and complaints. "This is ridiculous!" "That is so not what Fluffy should look like!" "Where's Peeves?!? He's the best ghost!" I sat back and let him have his own conversation with himself, thoroughly enjoying the fact that one of his favorite movies has been - temporarily, at least - "ruined" for him! While he has enjoyed all the Harry Potter movies his entire life, a whole new world is opening up to him. He sees it, he knows it, and he can't wait to keep going to see what else he's been missing.