Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coon Dog Adventures

Our letterboxing adventures have landed us in many places that we would never have discovered or explored otherwise. One such place we visited almost a year ago now was the one of a kind Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery located near Tuscumbia, AL. We stopped here on our way to Ivy Green where another letterbox and adventure waited, but that is a post for another day.

Growing up in Toronto, I knew very little, it would even be fair to say nothing of coon dogs. When I saw an inconspicuous sign - you know the standard non-descript green and white marker type signs, on the highway on our way home from a previous trip, my curiosity was piqued. I did a little research and when I found out there was a letterbox there, I knew it was only a matter of time before we would make a visit there.Coon Dog Cemetery grew out of one man's love for his faithful coon dog named Troop. It is truly a unique place with a wonderful story that is rich in area history. While we were there we met a couple with a miniature poodle visiting the area from California (no coon dog cemeteries there either).
Recently we stumbled upon a movie about coon dogs and given our adventure last year were anxious to see it. Where the Red Fern Grows is based on a book by Wilson Rawls. We discovered the movie first and it was fantastic ! You can get it through Netflix. This is one of those great movies that has it all - values, morals and character all tied into a great story line that is tender and inspiring - watch this one with your kids !! Or better yet, read the book aloud then enjoy the movie with a big bowl of hand-cranked popcorn curled up together for family movie night.
You know, for us homeschoolers, this might just be a great summer break unit study - just a suggestion ;-)
Learning as I go,

Friday, May 21, 2010

What the Teacher Learned.....

Last weekend I attended a conference with a sweet friend from church. We are about to begin our 5th year of homeschooling and this is my first conference, but is should come as no surprise that the timing was exquisite!
I have talked with moms who have gotten wonderful unit study plans and ideas, been inspired by new teaching methods and come home with a trunk load of great deals on new curriculum. I did not have my mind directed to any one path and was anticipating that God would meet me there at my greatest point of need - which of course He was clearer on than I was ;-) Well, I was not at all disappointed! I did come home with a few books - none of them curriculum mind you. I came home refreshed by the wonderful fellowship that we enjoyed and feeling that I had made some new "mom" friends - can never have too many of those. I came home tired and a little weary - sleeping on a camp bunk bed was not restful in any way shape or form. The thing that I came home with that took up no space in the car and cost nothing but that I believe will transform our homeschool experience from this day forward was completely unexpected but was of course what I needed more than anything and didn't realize it - FREEDOM!! A big beautiful, customized just for us, tied up with a gorgeous bow, dose of FREEDOM!!
Now let me tell you a little about me and my homeschooling methods, I am by nature, a rule follower - always have been. If a worksheet has 30 math problems we should complete all 30 regardless of how easy/hard they are, and we are not done or ready to move on to anything else until all 30 are done. Cross those T's and dot those I's - I am all about do it right and do it well!!
My paradigm got an extra large and less than gentle shift and oh my - Wonderboy could not be happier ;-) When I left to attend the conference we had about enough work to fill a week left to complete, when I arrived home Saturday night I announced that 3rd Grade was officially done, much to the delight of all involved parties.
Let me share with you the simple truths that brought me to this glorious place called Freedom. The beauty of this is in it's simplicity. Light drives out darkness. What matters most to us as parents who are raising our children for God is who they are not what they know right? Success in our eyes as Christians does not look the same as it does to the rest of the world. Sure, I would love for Wonderboy to excel at his chosen path and earn a good income, have a good life and not live in want, but more than that, I want him to be a man of godly character and wisdom, a man of heart who reflects Jesus in all he says and does - this is not any measure of success in the world in which we live. In the United States today, we educate based on a system that was/is designed to provide an abundant, compliant workforce that would bolster the economy and keep the machine operating at maximum capacity. We are not producing thinkers, we are telling our kids what to think. For more on this - and there is more, I would challenge you to read Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculm of Compulsory Education by John Taylor Gatto.

Andrew Pudewa was one of the keynote speakers at the Annual CHEF State Conference. I found him to be an engaging and inspiring speaker with an ability to cut away all the excess and get right to the meat of things. A homeschooling dad of seven, he is well equipped to share from many places within the homeschool journey and provide living examples of what he was 'ministering' to the audience. I always trust someone who has walked it out and can sight real examples over the long haul -several of his children are now grown and functioning adults. One of the things that he talked about that hit me smack up the side of the head was that if we are having character issues with our kids that we should deal with these before any academic training takes place. He spoke of one of his children that was struggling in various areas and how they chose to put all academics on hold while they focused completely on getting the areas of character where they needed to be. The result he says is a child who is self motivated and has a God given desire to learn because they want to learn not because they have to. This was a remarkable idea to me!

The idea is this - pray for your child and seek God's will for their life, allow Him to birth and direct their passions and be obedient to encourage and facilitate them. By allowing our children to pursue what they love we equip them with a love of learning that will last a lifetime and extends far beyond what is considered to be 'school'. This was huge freedom to me - and yes we will still do bible, math, science, language arts, history and geography BUT we will do it with passion and pleasure and not the 'have to' mentality which robs all joy from the journey.

Somewhere recently I heard/read that as we seek God and home educate our children that we walk completely in the center of His will. I want to be there and lead by example that this will be the way of life without question for the generations that follow.

Wonderboy is a complex and wonderful child, God has privileged me beyond words by trusting me with his care and upbringing. I so want to bring a smile to His face and be told "well done, good and faithful servant" when I answer to Him for our homeschool years. Seeking Him and allowing Him to guide our steps is the key to it all and although that is not new, the perspective is - Freedom Academy is now open with an enrollment of one.

That Saturday night when I returned from the conference, I told Wonderboy I had one last assignment for him to complete 3rd Grade - a list of things that he would like to learn about in 4th Grade. He sat a moment and launched into a list which I told him he would have to write down (you understand - it's an age thing ) the list included - Lewis & Clark, Sacajawea, The Titanic, China, The Salem Witch Trials, Slavery, Klu Klux Klan and several more that escape me at the moment.
I am so looking forward to 4th Grade - I certainly have plenty to learn!
Learning as I go,


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Random Dozen

In keeping with my desire to get back in my blogging groove and re-connect with the community of bloggers that I have missed, I thought it would be fun to participate in Random Dozen hosted by Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee. So without any further adieu here is this week's Random Dozen......

1. What is one really fast, know-by-heart, "go-to" meal to fix in a pinch?

The first thing that comes to mind is spaghetti, however that is not the only one - I don't use recipes much at all - I am a mood cook :-) Look out when I am angry - lol. This list would not be complete without pizza, soups, salads, stews and casseroles all based on whatever ingredients are on hand - the possibilities are endless!!

2. What is one item you won't leave home without? (Purse and license do not count) Cell phone, sunglasses - however both of these are usually located in my purse so they may be disqualified by a technicality......hmmm....typically WonderBoy is always with me - "My Trusty Side Kick" as I affectionately refer to him, but even he is not a for sure. Oh I KNOW!! I never ever ever go anywhere without wrapping myself in the love, protection and promises of my Lord and Savior, without who I couldn't begin to function in the least!

3. What is one place you never tire of visiting?

The country - rural America - the 'off the beaten path' places. This is where I am most content and at peace.

4. Share one factoid of your family's history.

My grandmother on my mother's side was a librarian. She was college educated which in her day was rare. She had 5 children including my mother but none of them had any post secondary education. I was the first of my generation to pursue any education beyond high school.

5. Complete this sentence. "Once upon a time I...."

dreamed I would marry my prince. I believed fairy tales could come true. Then for many years my dreams were shattered and I believed that fairy tales were just rose colored tales that never really happened. I am now married to my prince and know that fairy tales really do come true ;-) Of course that is only becasue God is good ;-)

6. If you could win one year's supply of anything, what would it be?

I would have to say groceries - how wonderful would that be ???

7. "One quirky thing you may not know about me is...."

I really like the smell of skunk......I know....but I do! Some of you like the smell of gasoline - that is my eewww!

8. You have one dollar in your pocket. What will you buy?

A cookbook at a yard sale or some other equally as wonderful treasure in book form.

9. "One thing that always makes me laugh is...."

Old episodes of Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy ;-) You know back when family entertainment really was for the WHOLE family and it was actually funny!

10. What is one thing you could do today to help yourself reach a personal goal?

Treat myself with love, patience and kindness - seems that should be a no brainer but that is not always the case - I am getting better at it though!

11. What is one thing you could do today to bless someone else?

Begin to get a letter/package ready to send Jeison, our sponsored child in Columbia. He is having a birthday soon!

12. What is one thing you're looking forward to soon?

Our move to the country - at least I pray it is soon ;-) Yes Darling, I added that for your benefit - lol.

Remember Me?

Well, well, well, she lives!! I have no single good reason for my extended absence. The best I can honestly offer is these four simple letters when combined explain a whole lot....L-I-F-E.

In any case, I have felt the stirring recently to take up keyboard and re-connect with you - so here I be.

How are you? What have you been doing? PLEASE leave a comment and let me know you came by! I have a desire to make some changes and breath some new life into this place of mine here and I really would love your input. What do you want to see when you visit? I have an amazing story to share about a personal victory but that is not something I am prepared to do today....soon.

There are all kinds of adventures going on around here as usual. We have baby bluebirds!!! Some of you may remember the beautiful blue eggs of a spring now past and the sad fate that they met.....well God is faithful and as Matthew 6:26 teaches us - He cares for all living things. It has been a joy to watch these sweet birds build their nest, lay their eggs and now we are enjoying the symphony of little ones as they are fed continually all day long.

We are within days of finishing 3rd Grade - it has been a rough year ! I recently attended a homeschool convention not too far from home and was so blessed and encouraged with some timely words and fellowship. I feel so ready and equipped to begin planning 4th Grade now I almost hate to take a summer break - I did say almost. I met some wonderful homeschool Mom's at the conference, one of whom I see has already stopped by for a visit ! You know who you are ;-) It was a real pleasure meeting and talking with you and I would love to stay in touch but as I was not forward thinking enough to get your information please make sure you send it my way. I want to come and visit you too!!

So, back to the task at hand - tell me what you want - encouragement, homeschooling, cooking, crafting, daily life, how to's, sustainable living, frugal living - do tell !! Input, ideas - bring it on!!

I have missed this point of connection and look forward to re-establishing it.

Learning as I go,


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