June 2009

I hear the slogan, “We will not forget” an awful lot.  And mostly, I think of 9/11 and think, “But we have.”

And when I ran across these articles today, they same slogan and knee jerk reaction came to mind.

Why do you homeschool?  Do you remember why?  Do you remember how you ended up on this journey and where your original destination was?

For my husband and I we each had different destination points.  While we’ve managed to maintain a grip on one (the easier), I feel we’ve allowed ourselves to forget the greater purpose.

As I’ve spent the last few weeks, researching and comparing curriculums, cores, books, guides, and articles, I’ve been searching for the answer to our families need for all things academic.  It is not that these things are not important, it is that they are not the most important thing.  Why do we homeschool?  To raise up strong and capable children for God and to further His kingdom.  Obviously for this we need children that are well educated, well spoken, and capable of presenting themselves and His word.  That said, we tend to lose sight of our real goal in all this.  We end up with children that are well educated and are well spoken, but they don’t understand they were created and made for HIM.  They were never educated for the goal of education, but educated only to further His purpose.

And so I ask you, what good is all that education if you’ve fed your children a steady diet of the world and raised them for the world?  All is lost at that point.  They will serve the master they’ve been taught to serve.  You must choose Mother.  You must choose Father.  Whom shall you train your child to serve?  You can only have one master.

It is acceptable to utilize a curriculum to acheive your end goals.   It is NOT okay to allow that curriculum to take the place of active, living faith… Your children are a witness to your day to day priorities.  If math or reading or history should take place above the daily Bible reading and teaching they will KNOW what is more important to you.  They’ve seen how you prioritize.  If the computer or the blogging, or your research or your email takes the place of your morning time alone with Him and His Word, they will KNOW what your priorities are… Even if you have fooled yourself.  I am very guilty of this.  Sometimes I think through our failings, we are able to bless others.  Is that not why we’re allowed hardships?  I struggle with this on a daily basis as the world competes with God for my attention, my focus, my teachings…..

That’s all I’ll say on it for today, but I ask that you please read the two links today.  And when you are planning for this fall, I ask that as you write down your priorities, you place Him at the very top of the list.  And much further down, list your priorities and make sure each is accountable to the first.

Homeschooling is Not About Education by Chris Davis

Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing the 7 Major Blindspots by Reb Bradley

Thank you so much to Paula’s Archives for the links to these two vital articles.

OUR chirping birds! Our little chickies have decided to come a day early!

Video added!  I’m so sorry it’s not clear and well lit, but I don’t dare take the lid off and mess with the humidity!  Our last hatch we lost a LOT of chicks to lost humidity!  Enjoy!

Apparently it is a true fact that pregnant women lose brain cells.  At this point I should consider it miraculous that I breathe without machine support.  Truth be told, I’m dreadfully absent minded.  Without routines, “Honey Do” lists, and and charts, I’m fairly hopeless.

So, we’re taking off the month of June & July.  We’re doing a summer “lite” program  – arithmetic facts for 10yo Christian, and phonics work for 5yo Rebecca and 7yo Elizabeth.  In the meantime to keep me busy, I’m working on preschool plans.

Preschool is one of those things that just never seems to make it to the top of the priority list, and therefore slides right off the end of my day.  It’s unfortunate.  Tim could use the “sit still” training and I could use the “be patient with Tim” training. We’ve owned Heart of Dakota’s Little Hands to Heaven for about a year and a half now.  As I am going to roll Rebecca in with the Lower Grammar level of Tapestry this year, I think this will be a great time to organize preschool for Abigail and Timothy.   Oddly, though Abigail is 2.5 and Timothy is 4, they’re very academically similar in language ability and the ability to focus and parrot.  Not so odd I guess when you consider one is a girl and one is a boy.  It should work very nicely.

I’ve found a system that works well for organizing the older children’s schoolwork, but the hard part about preschool is the manipulatives!  I’ve been seriously considering Susan Patrick’s Workbox Systems, but sigh, I don’t know if I want to make that kind of space commitment.   While I know from reading she puts great importance on the idea of clear boxes, with this many children it would be incredibly overwhelming.  I’m thinking of cheating….  Just a little.  The same set up, but wouldn’t it be awesome on a bar hung up in bags like these?  Okay, granted, they’re expensive.  But, I’m telling you, I could rig something up.  I’m very handy with PVC.  Sadly, no, I’m not joking.  Plus, if I just wanted the clear bags, that would be easy enough and certainly these are less expensive.  And of course, one could not have a display taking up a ton of space, but I’m not going to tease…  THESE would work awesome for homeschoolers with limited space.   Of course, if we’re going to be honest, they’re nothing more than the really inexpensive single wire towel racks that you can pick up at Lowe’s for a few bucks and just tier them.   I can’t help but visualize my manipulatives organized, my school day laid out, and the children peacefully moving smoothly from one activity to another.

Okay, I’m dreaming a bit.  But the truth was, once upon a time ago, I had a toy/homeschool closet.  Every item we owned was on shelves, properly labeled – both with words and pictures, put away, just simply waiting for us to draw it out, utilize it, and put it in its’ exact location.  If I remember correctly the year was 2001 and up until December of that year, we only had two children.  😛

I still hold onto the hope.

Was the nest of bunnies yesterday Opal’s & Butterscotch’s?  Or just Butterscotch’s?

The answer – all those babies were just Butterscotch’s!  I’m pretty shocked myself.  She was a little doe and I would have never guessed it.  I recounted last night and we only had eight.  Then recounted again and had seven!  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Two of them had crawled right out of the teepee.  We found them burrowed off elsewhere.

So, how did we figure out the mystery?  We found Opal’s nest of babies waiting for us this morning.  There may be 9 or they may be 10.  We won’t know for a while as she actually attacked me during the counting.  I have a scratch to prove it.  I’m a little happy though to see such a good protective mama!  Good litters!

Also, found this quote today on the Tapestry forum as I read through their Philosophy of Education for the various ages and stages of our children.  It so completely encompassed what I’ve been seeking for a while and I pray I’m not overstepping my boundaries when I say this is confirmation of our choice to go with Tapestry.

Qupte taken directly from Tapestry of Grace:

“The Rhetoric Stage (high schoolers)

Philosophy of Education: The High School Years

The High School years have been pure joy to me! If you knew me better, you’d know what an Act of God that statement represents!

At first, I must admit that I was terrified and rebellious. I did not want to home school High School. The prospect overwhelmed me. I was not strong in math, and had four younger students as well. But, when I submitted to the Lord’s plan in my life, He graciously led me, step by step, down a wonder-ful path.

I have come to see that parents who give way to fear and decide to put their children in schools purely because of a lack of confidence really miss a special chance to finish the job they started and enjoy the sweet fruit of fellowship with their teens.

Now, I have the privilege to share with you in fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

I am certain that if you are in faith that God desires you to home school your High School aged children that He will provide all you need, no matter how inadequate you may feel today. Humility is a great starting place, and this curriculum is a part of His provision!”

Well, I don’t know if I can give the colony the credit or not, but we have another successful litter!  For those keeping score that’s 0/3 successful litters and 0/10 live babies out of our previous hutch system vs. 2/2 – 14/16 babies still alive in our colony system.

It’s getting pretty exciting here.  Chocolate Fudge a.k.a Fluffy a.k.a whatever name they call her on any given day gave birth on Sunday morning.  She attempted to bury a dead kit on Tuesday and successfully buried her entire litter.  We dug them out and all were fine except the dead kit and one other that was squished in the burial process.  We removed the dead kits and she resumed caring for them.  They are all adorable, although I’m a bit sad that it was the two chocolate buns that died.

Tiramisu gave birth this morning to seven healthy kits.  It appears we have a white, two solid blacks, one solid brown, and three broken (speckled) babies.   She is doing a WONDERFUL job of caring for them and the nest is really beautiful.  I’ll post pictures of it soon.

I went out there late this morning only to find Opal making a grand nest for her babies.  We expect them today or tomorrow.  Butterscotch is also expecting today or tomorrow.  Unfortunately, she’s young and seems to be pulling hair randomly all over the colony pen.  Hopefully she’ll find a special spot for her little ones as well.

The young does are incredibly curious about the nests.  Opal and Tira are very defensive of their area, while Fluffy is definitely not.  But she’s such a space cadet anyway.  I barely hold on hope that she’ll raise all seven of them.   I’ll try to post pictures today or tomorrow.  It’s been incredibly exciting around here with 16 new buns and expecting more.  We found a few Monarch eggs yesterday plus one teeny tiny catepillar… How fun!  Incubator hatching is expected to take place on Sunday and I’ll try to post pictures of that as well.  So far it appears 34/37 eggs have survived to Day 17.

New update:  We caught Butterscotch giving birth in Opal’s nest.  There are two separate bundles of buns in the nest – one group of 6 and one group of 4.  The question is – same Mama or different Mama?  Opal and Butterscotch are NOT happy at having the same nest and are fighting.  I don’t know if Opal gave birth in there before Butterscotch or if she just wants her nest back.  Butterscotch we literally SAW giving birth to babies, so we know at least some of them are hers.

Pictures of the colony and rabbit teepees.

Colony eating greens.

Colony eating greens.

Junior does checking out the new digs.

Junior does checking out the new digs.

Tiramisu's Burrow

Tiramisu's Burrow

Above you can see how Tira enclosed her teepee.  She has filled in the front and left the back open.  Inside her burrow the entire front is filled in.  But within the middle is a bundle of fur, and if you notice, there is a lot of BROWN fur.  She doesn’t have brown hair so she’s been stealing fur from other mamas.

Inside - There are 7 babies in there!

Inside - There are 7 babies in there!

Fluffy's Nest 'O Buns

Fluffy's Nest 'O Buns

Fluffy's Mini Me

Fluffy's Mini Me

And the saga yet continues.

I’ve been very blessed by the responses to my question posed over at The Well Trained Mind forums.  I’ve been a fan of Susan Wise Bauer’s book for a long time.  I think I’ve owned it since Ana was in 1st grade and bought the revised edition when it came out.  I’ve had the pleasure of using The Story of the World Vol. I-IV, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide, and all of her editions of First Language Lessons.

I asked some BTDT (been there, done that) Mamas to respond to which they would find more beneficial to use – Sonlight or Tapestry of Grace.  I’ve come to learn, over time, there is so much value to be gleaned from mothers who have walked the path….  And I was anxious to see how they would compare the differences between the two for an older child, for utilizing in high school.

I’ll willingly admit that I don’t know if Ana is going to college.  She is certainly very academic but as I don’t wish to raise a feminist, the whole college question is hard for me.  I’d just as soon (ducking) have her find a mature and competent, Godly young man and get married at 20 and live her life as see her sent off to be under the tutelage of others.  The thought quite frankly scares me to death.  The liberalism taught at college isn’t just a course, but a whole body bathing, washing children in feminism and a liberal attitude.

But I do FIRMLY believe that we should equip and prepare her for whatever God might have planned for her life.  And, for our family, for Ana specifically,  this will include what some might call a “rigorous academic college prepatory program.”

I think you’ll find their responses very thought provoking.  Never once did it occur to me that she could plan her own days with this program.  I did know that Tapestry is considered the more challenging of the two programs, requiring much more thinking and writing.

Sonlight vs. Tapestry Take Two – High School Years

Moreover, I was grateful to be led to this link which showed how Tapestry has gone ahead and broken down the material into high school credits.

So, for now, I’ve made a decision.  We’re going to purchase Tapestry, one unit.  I’ve not yet decided on Year 2 or Year 3.  I still have some time.  The difficult decision has been made and we’ll see how this fall’s unit goes.   I think Ana will love having the control and freedom of planning her learning.

Ah, I’ve been meaning to begin a little installment of featuring some really amazing Work at Home Mamas.  But, as many things I just INTEND to do, but never q-u-i-t-e make it, it just hasn’t happened.

This particular mama I was able to beg to feature a couple weeks ago and so I’ve stolen her pictures with permission.  Let me entertain you….

Welcome to Wild Child Woolies.

Obviously, photos can speak for themselves, but in case they aren’t speaking loudly enough 😉 let me elaborate.   I’ve had the pleasure of owning one set from Wild Child Woolies and they were very well put together.  There was only one drawback that I could find…  Sigh.  I was scared to let the child wear them.  They were made for Abigail in a really lovely dyed interlock with an incredible embroidered fairy.  It was top notch work all the way around and I’ll admit that they really made you understand the beauty of interlock!

Hangin' with my gnomies!

Hangin' with my gnomies!

LOL, and obviously she’s clever too!

Okay, that’s adorable, but these are just precious!  A good reason for anyone to have a baby girl… Like anyone needs an excuse for another girl. 🙂

I love the dyes on this one!

I love the way she dyed this one!

For your little cupcake

For your little cupcake

So, you can see why I wanted to feature Wild Child Woolies.  She is one talented Mama and I really think she’s making something pretty unique to Hyena Cart.  She’s stocking tonight at Fresh if you want to take a peek.  But because I’m not a meanie, I’ll give you a little teaser.

Fresh Stocking

Fresh Stocking

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