Happy Homeschooler Life at our house

Saturday, May 31, 2003 :::

I wrote this tonight when a person asked me why I didn't want to get involved with "the system".

I'm a homeschooler who believes in our fundamental right to homeschool. I'm also a person who believes in minimal government. Both combined make me very leery of government schools. In addition to that, public school administrators and teachers have proven (year after year) that they are officially hostile to homeschooling. The NEA passes content and affirms it each year that is a blatant attack on homeschooling families.

School officials, teachers and related persons have often deliberately or in an ignorant fashion given out the wrong information to new (and sometimes old naive) homeschooling families.

I fear creeping control. I truly believe that if I put myself in a system that aggressively looks for control over my children, I make my homeschool more vulnerable to a system I don't trust.

For the same reasons, *I* would never use a cyber school or a K-12 type school where I am accountable to the government.

Finally, the government has made it clear that they feel they know best what my child should eat, wear, learn and do. I am completely against that thinking. I won't compromise my "stand" against that aspect of our government for a few art classes.

::: posted by Joanne at 11:41 PM YACCS

Friday, May 30, 2003 :::
Ah, Much Better!

Here is a much better article about homeschooling.

Check out the quote from a High School Principal. What a rare and accurate insight from an unlikely source.

::: posted by Joanne at 3:56 PM YACCS

The Worst of Both Worlds

Here, let the government school your kids at home.

::: posted by Joanne at 3:51 PM YACCS

Thursday, May 29, 2003 :::
Language Arts

I've started using Sonlight's Language Arts for Larsen and Andrew. For those interested in the curriculum, I'm using LA 1 with regular readers for Larsen and LA 2 with regular readers for Andrew.

It's a great way to ease into our new school routine. I'm getting familiar with a new rhythm and the Instructor's Guide.

Andrew is a bit insulted that his LA is based (right now) on The Beginner's Bible. Since he is fluently reading the Good News Bible, he feels that he has made a step down. I'm trying to convince him that it's not about reading ability. I'm trying to get him to agree that it's about learning about our language.

Speaking of reading, I was delighted to find that the Sonlight's LA 1 included phonics instruction. Reading Reflex was fun at the beginning, but as I read ahead, I saw that I didn't like the way it presented "advanced code". I did order Explode the Code to correspond with our Sonlight Language Arts.

I think Larsen will be making great reading progress in the weeks to come. :)

::: posted by Joanne at 5:49 PM YACCS

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 :::
Prayer, please

If you are reading this, would you take a moment to pray for my church? The *whole* Presbyterian Church. The issue of ordaining homosexuals is once again up for a vote. After several years of battle, the issue was voted to be tabled. But that vote wasn't honored. Now, the church is voting on the issue again. More info can be found here.

My prayer request would be that the church be unified. I am deeply afraid that this issue will divide the church. It's only been united for about 20 years. It was a North/South division then. This potential split would come down along liberal and conservative lines.

The church my husband and I are going to join is a conservative, confessing church and has declared itself to be against ordination of homosexuals. The church we left in AZ did not make the same decision.

::: posted by Joanne at 4:24 PM YACCS

The Dilemma

I know I've posted about this before, but I wanted to update my readers.

Both of my older children have some speech issues. A couple of years ago, in AZ, I had my oldest evaluated at the local elementary school. He was deemed to have a severe phonological delay with high intelligiblity. They would only consent to provide services if I enrolled him 1/4 time. No way.

At the time, most of the sounds he was most challenged in were the latest to come. So, I decided to wait. I did contact HSLDA whose "take" on it was to avoid the SYSTEM.

Well, Andrew is 8+ now and should have all his sounds. He does, in fact have all *his* sounds. They just don't sound like most other people's. ;) Although I've heard through the HS grapevine that Texas is more forthcoming with services, I decided to help him myself. I'm using the Straight Talk program by Nathann. At first, second and third glance, I was overwhelmed and almost to tears. I started anyway. Yesterday was our first try. I'm helping Andrew and Larsen with the "ch" sound.

Feedback, advice and prayer welcome.

::: posted by Joanne at 4:02 AM YACCS

Thursday, May 15, 2003 :::
Least Likely Joy

For those of you who know me in person or for a long time online, you would never guess how I have *enjoyed* the last few days.

I was a Leader for 9 boys at a Girl Scout Day Camp. I had a 17 yo assitant who has been homeschooled his whole life, has long hair, and was a great mix of "hip" and "goofy". The first day, the boys and I spent at odds. They were simultaneously trying to impress the 17 yo while seeing what I would put up with and what I would not put up with. They spent much of the day either avoiding anything remotely "girly" (hard to do at a girl scout camp!) or *deliberately* testing me to find where my lines where. You could *see* the relief when they found out I have firm limits and would positively find a way for them to honor those limits. I made clear my desire to *not* find their moms but that I kept it as an option.

By the end of the first day, we were starting to establish some rapport.

The second day, we began to have playful verbal interactions. They made eye contact, joked and there were no discipline problems.

Today, each and every boy greeted me with joy. We played fun, physical games, we joked, we *enjoyed* each other.

I, gulp, volunteered for the same role next year. ;)

Unlikely, indeed. Blessed, definately!

::: posted by Joanne at 7:09 PM YACCS

Tuesday, May 13, 2003 :::
The Spin Zone

Watch: Homeschooled kid on O'Reilly

::: posted by Joanne at 1:23 PM YACCS

From The Ridiculous File

Lawsuit to ban Oreos.

::: posted by Joanne at 5:34 AM YACCS

Monday, May 12, 2003 :::
Day Camp

The next three days, we are gonig to be at a Day Camp for Homeschooled Girl Scouts. While I would not limit Larsen to homeschoolers only, there are many benefits to this event being for homeschoolers.

1) They can do it at a park during the school year and avoid summer crowds
2) Homeschoolers typically have lots of kids, so this day camp has programs for siblings.
3) They encourage parental involvement - I will be there with the kids for the 3 days
4) The trendier aspects of Girl Scouts will be minimized
5) We get to meet other homeschooled Girl Scouts and Scouting families

I'll post about how it goes! I'm looking forward to it!

::: posted by Joanne at 3:52 AM YACCS

Saturday, May 10, 2003 :::
Oh, yea, academics

Since I'm not an unschooler, I thought I might post about what we are doing in terms of actual academics.

Larsen is progressing well using Reading Reflex. I've read many times that it's a good resource for reluctant readers or readers with special challenges.

I'm still using Math U See for both children - although I am in the process of a review for both of them now.

I have just finished the plan for a 2 month American History Unit. That will take us to around July 14 at which point I will start using our Sonlight, Introduction to World History.

Topics include: Columbus, Colonial Times, Jamestown, Pocahontas, Squanto, Wiliam Penn, Mary Johnson, Daniel Boone, Revolutionary War, Winters in Washington, Betsy Ross, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Frances Scott Key, The Alamo, the Gold Rush, the Pony Express, Slaver, Harriet Tubman, Gettsburg, Abe Lincoln, US Grows, Pioneer Life, John Welsley, Bell and Edison, Jane Admas, Booker T. Washington, Ellis Island, Henry Ford, Wright Brothers, Women's Right to Vote, WWI, Lindbergh, The Great Depression, New Deal, WWII, New Frontiers, JFK, MLK, Viet Nam, Gulf Wars. Pretty ambitious for 2 months, huh?

I'm also going to use Singapore Math either as a supplement or as our base math program. I'll see how the kids do with it.

::: posted by Joanne at 9:02 AM YACCS

Friday, May 09, 2003 :::
Great Article!

This article is about gifted homeschool sisters and a rare, insightful medical doctor. I reblogged from Tammy and Izzy. BTW, if you like my blog, you will like each of theirs as well.

::: posted by Joanne at 11:09 AM YACCS

Time, Energy and Pay off?

I have spent hours researching, looking and emailing about putting together a used (and assumed cheaper) Sonlight Curriculum.

Guess what I've discovered? It barely pays off, if at all. Sonlight offers 10% off if you buy a Core and free shipping. All material is new, and available. Trying to get it all together would include many different shipping costs, used materials, time, energy....

So, when my mom's generous check comes, I'm buying directly from Sonlight.

::: posted by Joanne at 9:45 AM YACCS

Thursday, May 08, 2003 :::
Not Always So Happy

Today, I was motivated to share my experience during a very challenging time in my marriage. It's on my heart to post it here, too. I hope it helps someone. Although this blog started as a way for family and friends to keep up with us, it's "morphed" into several things. Mostly, it's about real life as a homeschooler. And, that includes the topic below.

All marriages have challenges. And even periods of wanting to leave, making mental plans to leave, thinking vengeful thoughts to leave, fantasizing about leaving, fantasizing about other men.....

All spouses, if they are honest, go through periods of that to one degree or another.

When I was there, I spent so much time lost in "negative marriage thoughts" that I began to confirm that the marriage was over. I saw signs of its doom everywhere. Negative thoughts fueled more negative thoughts. It was heavy, it was scary, it was awful. It was also *my* fault. I'm not saying DH was perfect or blameless - but the heavy leaving/divorce thoughts were my fault. I can't be responsible for the first thought that comes to my mind; but I HAVE to take responsibility for that I do with those thoughts.

In my case, I watered, fed, fertilized and pampered those thoughts. I let them see the sunlight and they grew. I was doing much to seal the doom but nothing to lift it. It *was* a self fullfilling phrophecy.

Finally, God answered a heartfelt prayer. He asked me what a happy, content wife looked like. And He demanded I act like it. I had to greet DH happily, do kind things for him, be cheerful, playful and affectionate. God was faithful; the feelings of love and commitment and desire returned. But, I couldn't wait for the motiviation, I had to do it anyway. The other way was creating rather than solving problems.

There are many resources to help a Christian or any marriage. I plead with you to utilize many of them if the above describes you at all.

::: posted by Joanne at 2:58 PM YACCS

Wednesday, May 07, 2003 :::

I admit to being more liberal than many homeschoolers. But THIS creeps me out. Warning: some profanity, very graphic words, unsettling content.

::: posted by Joanne at 3:49 PM YACCS

Well, this looks interesting!

A dear friends sent me this link to a movie about homeschoolers. Watch the trailer.

Here is the full email forward. NOTE: I have not checked any of this out.

Subject: Homeschool Movie/Curriculum

M. F. Edwards
2248 Ensor Hollow Road
Buffalo Valley, TN 38548
(931) 858-2181

I've produced a movie that ratifies the beliefs of homeschoolers and
affirms their faith in what they're doing. And because it's for
homeschoolers, it includes curriculum. I hope to have your help in making
this known to homeschoolers in your area. The following information is a
good primer, but if you'd like to know more, please just let me know.

Christian author Terri Camp said "If I were a 'thumbs up' kind of movie
reviewer, MYSTERIOUS WAYS would definitely get twenty thumbs up at our
house!" And as they put it at
Discoveries, "Finally, a movie
about homeschoolers, for homeschoolers, and by homeschoolers." Naturally,
it includes curriculum, so children can enjoy the movie and get school

The movie is MYSTERIOUS WAYS. It's about the Harper family's decision to
homeschool their children; why they do it, how they do it, and how it all
works out for them. They pay a price for their decision, but it brings
great blessings. It will affirm the faith and beliefs of homeschoolers, all
while entertaining and educating them. I have screened it with children
ages 4 and up to good reception. Read a synopsis, see the trailer, and see
a picture of the cover here.

The theme is that even when things look grim, God is working in his own
mysterious ways to bring about something good for those who trust him.

The curriculum involves a 20-minute Film School video, the Director's
commentary track, and a list of more than 30 questions included in the
package. These range in difficulty so children of all ages, and even the
parents, can benefit. Topics include story elements and structure, the use
of symbolism, and details about independent movie productions. Simple, easy
instructions are here.

The company is TRANSPORT PICTURES. We're a new company dedicated to the
production of entertaining and educational materials that affirm the faith
of Christians. There's so much competition for the minds and souls of our
children, and I want to help parents prepare them for eternal life. You can
learn more about us here.

The next step is the production of a series of 35- to 45-minute videos
aimed at the Veggietales crowd and older. These will not be specifically
about homeschooling (so as to expand the customer base), but will continue
to involve the homeschooling Harper family, (so as to put their adventures
in the homeschooling context). These videos will, of course, continue to
include curricula. Thus, the stories themselves will appeal to all
children, but homeschooling children will reap a bonus in that they'll
continue to receive credit for completing the lessons.

The goal is to develop a base of homeschoolers and expand into the
broader Christian market, first with children's videos, then with
additional direct-to-DVD/video feature-length releases. Ultimately I'll
produce low- to mid-budget crossover theatrical releases with a heavy
emphasis on home DVD/video sales.

The retail price is $19.95, including curriculum. Wholesale pricing is
available on request. Available only on DVD. Not rated by the MPAA --
contains no violence, profanity, nudity, or suggestive themes. Look for our

So far, the response has been very good, and with some vendors such as
Christian author Terri Camp it has been wildly enthusiastic. It premiered
April 11 in Cookeville, TN, to a good reception including four half-hour
radio programs and a one-hour documentary on the local public TV station.

Manny Edwards, President
Transport Pictures

::: posted by Joanne at 3:36 PM YACCS

Tuesday, May 06, 2003 :::

My mom is going to buy our next year's curriculum. In her own words, she can't resist helping the kids with their education. If you have a moment, feel free to Email my Mom

and tell her she rocks! I'm indeed blessed to have such a generous and supportive Mom (and Dad!).

::: posted by Joanne at 8:29 PM YACCS

The Zoo

The zoo was great. Hot and humid, but I live in Houston, so what's the point of mentioning it? ;)

One of the moms who went has a history that parallels mine in several important ways. Years of recovery in AA, starting a family in recovery, not being able to be as active in AA, attachment-minded parenting, aversion to permissive parenting and a deep commitment to homeschooling our kids. We'll be talking a lot, I expect.

God provides. :)

::: posted by Joanne at 2:07 PM YACCS

Sonshine Ministry

Have I posted about our Sonshine Ministry? I wanted a way for the children and I to be of service to the church we join. Here is the selfish part; I don't want to teach SS. I know it's the 11th commandment *grin* but I wanted to find another way to serve, with my kids but not for a group of kids. Not at this season of my life. DH travels 90+% of the time - I didn't want to do more child centered activities on my own.

So, I thought the kids and I would start a SONshine ministry. We are going to provide cards, meals, time, refrigerator art, sitting and cleaning services to families in need. It's something tangible we can do and it's something the kids are well able to participate in. I talked to the Pastor about it, and the mom who organizes meals. I'm calling the board of Deacons later to mention our availability and willingness.

::: posted by Joanne at 4:02 AM YACCS

While I am Waiting

While I am waiting to buy Sonlight Curriculum, I'm going to get Andrew "caught up" with his peers for Scouting. We started a year or so behind his new found buddies. Fortunately, just through living and homeschooling, we have done much of the requirements needed for rank and achievement.

On today's agenda is all about Texas and the Texas flag. Thank you, Enchanted Learning.

::: posted by Joanne at 3:34 AM YACCS

Monday, May 05, 2003 :::
Oh, I could never do that, I enjoy the break

Lately, I've been pondering this all-too-common comment given to homeschoolers by non homeschoolers. There is even a commercial that celebrates a child's return to school. You know, the Staples commercial in which the father is “doing a happy dance” while he shops for school supplies with his forlorn children. The YAY! The kids go back to school soon mentality is quite pervasive, cultural, accepted and expected.

Here are some observations I've had as a homeschooling mom who also provided daycare for working moms. The more you are away from your kids; the easier it is to be away from your kids. But, the real truth lies in the alternative phrasing. The less you are with your kids, the more difficult it is to be with your kids.

Children are, by definition, immature. They are often loud, messy, rambunctious, demanding and needy. All this can wear on an adult. In order to make it work happily for all involved, much time, effort and training (I used to hate that word, when I was an idealist parent in theory).

If a parent has limited time at home with a child, they have less opportunity to train for chores, phone etiquette, peanut butter and jelly sandwich making and how to know it's time to go play out back. Therefore the child's very child-ness is less managed and less tolerable. And the parent's skill is underdeveloped.

If children are rarely home all day, the parent never learns how to deal with a daily string of messy events, noisy events, needy events and food events. After a weekend, the parent is exhausted and ready for a break.

I've found that at home moms and homeschooling families find ways to create joy. They do it out of necessity. They enjoy being with their kids more and need less breaks because being with their kids is more manageable, more comfortable. The family unit has spent more time together. This doesn't create the need for more breaks; it lessens the need for them. They've learned how to successfully be parents and adults sharing space.

So, as introverted as I am, I don't have a need for regular, lengthy breaks from my children. Instead, I've chosen to respond to our family's need for discipline, structure, fun, joy, closeness, autonomy and a workable cleaning schedule.

::: posted by Joanne at 3:33 PM YACCS

Request for Speech Therapy Experience

Well, it's time for me to do something more active for Andrew in terms of speech. A few years ago, I had him evaluated at the local (AZ) school. In order to provide services, they required 1/4 time enrollment into the school. That was NOT going to happen. I didn't want to enroll him. Also, on the advice of HSLDA, I didn't want to utilize the services of the system I was making a statement against. (not their exact wording, btw).

Andrew's speech issue was catagorized as "severe" but he has a high intelligability level.

Lately, though, I've noticed an issue with his peers. So......I'm buying the Straight Talk book. Is anyone familiar with it? Any advice and experience is welcome; here or in email.

::: posted by Joanne at 7:08 AM YACCS


I've been getting a lot of email from readers. Some are old friends, some are current friends, some are potential friends. Some, I don't even know. They've all said they are glad to see me around and blogging. :) I'm not going to mention any of you by name. I figure you would have commented if you wanted your presence known here. But, I did want to invite anyone reading to email me if they have a comment, article to read, a website to share, a sale. I'd be happy to consider posting related information.

This blog started out as a place for family and close friends of our family to keep up with us, especially the kids. Obviously, it's changing a bit.

There is an email link top right. :)

::: posted by Joanne at 7:01 AM YACCS

It's A Zoo

Late last night, I got a call from a mom inviting me to the zoo.

There is some interesting, Godly, history to the call. ;) For those reading who don't know, I am in recovery from alcoholism. I'll celebrate 12 years sober this month. When we moved to Houston, I began my search for the right AA meetings, homeschool groups, etc. Having lived in Houston before, I expected to attend the group I used to go to. However, I attended that group as a married, no kids. Life has changed! :) And that group is no longer a match for me. Of course, God put someone *at* that group to tell me about a Monday meeting with childcare. And, of course, at *that* meeting, God already had 2 homeschooling moms. :)

God is quite efficient with His resources. I never expected or even hoped to find someone who had those two areas in common with me. And yet I'm spending this afternoon in the company of a mom who does. :)

::: posted by Joanne at 3:39 AM YACCS

Sunday, May 04, 2003 :::
Overheard at a child's birthday party this weekend:

At a neighbor's birthday party this weekend with my kids, I overheard 2 adults discussing a family with a 7 year old male. "Is she still homechooling?" "Yes, that's why he's so wild. He's with her 24/7".

Now, I am not going to assert that homeschooling children are perfect. ;) What bothers me about this conversation is that its an example of a type of thinking I've identified since having children. Adults tend to "blame" an alternative choice for everything. I noticed it first as a new breastfeeding mom. It didn't happen to me, but I heard story after story in La Leche League. A new mom would have a fussy baby "It's your milk", "you must not have enough milk". Or a mother of an older breastfeeding baby - and the baby is clingy "It's because of breastfeeding". Now, in the absence of breastfeeding, people would attribute fussiness and clinginess to the fact that its a baby. But, with breastfeeding being involved, adults use that as the focus.

I've seen the same dynamic with homeschooling. Ironically, in yesterday's case, the character trait identified (wildness in a boy) is not usually associated with homeschooling. But, since homeschooling is happening; it *must* be responsible for the child's personality challelnges, right?

It's flawed logic; just like the article posted below. A child is wild due to a combination of personality and parenting. "Homeschooling" doesn't create wildness (or shyness, or clinginess, or ........)

Now the truth............I get complimented almost daily on my children's behavior. And I do attribute it, in part, due to them being homeschooled. It's a combination of my parenting *and* the fact that they aren't around public school kids all day learning to accept the unacceptable as "normal".

/hypocritical post

::: posted by Joanne at 5:22 AM YACCS

Friday, May 02, 2003 :::

I'm adding some links.

Cool. They even work. ;)

::: posted by Joanne at 4:33 PM YACCS

I'm Blessed. Our Whole Family is Blessed

Last year, my parents were able to accompany me to the Arizona Families for Home Education Homeschool Conference. Michael Medved was the featured speaker. He was excellent. It also gave my homeschooling choice some credibility in the eyes of my parents. They knew of the speaker. On top of that, hundreds of homeschoolers milling around....and a hall filled with curriculum choices. My mom was incredible! I'd pick up a book and she'd say "you want that? I'll buy it!" And, she did. She was less forthcoming the second day with her card! ;) Understandably so. It was a blessing to have help with curriculum but even more of a blessing to spend the 2 days with them.

The conference took place a day after the ruling that "Under God" and the Pledge of Allegiance needed to be dropped. The opening moments of the conference included reciting the Pledge. The THUNDEROUS chorus of "UNDER GOD" still sends chills up my spine.

This year, I'm in a different state. It turns out that my Mother in Law (who I adore and love and respect) will be visiting during the conference in Southeast Texas. She's coming with a friend and my DH will be taking that week off. So.....I can go to the conference for at least one day, possibly 2 and not have to pay a sitter. :)

::: posted by Joanne at 11:18 AM YACCS

Want to Help Finance Our Next School Year?

Check out my ebay auctions!

::: posted by Joanne at 10:58 AM YACCS

Not So Happy Homeschooler

This article represents such flawed thinking. Public School never misses abuse, neglect or endangerment, eh?

::: posted by Joanne at 10:47 AM YACCS

Thursday, May 01, 2003 :::
{Slaps Forehead}

I had a "duh" moment last night. I realized that while I save money for a Sonlight Core Curriculum and related material, I could pull together a short(ish) unit on American History. Then would enable me to sell my classical materials on the ancients. It would ease my mind about my kids learning some American History *before* they are ready to handle the Sonlight Core on the topic. And, it opens up my Sonlight Core options. I could use Core 1, 2, Alt 2.

And resources for American History abound, cheaply. :)

Suggetions encouraged!

::: posted by Joanne at 6:42 AM YACCS

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