Monday, April 30, 2018

Age of Revolution: The War for Independence

January - February - March

Age of Revolution
Europe and America

"Raining cats and dogs"


The War for Independence
This is a big chunk of history, and it took two months to cover. It began with 1775 and Paul Revere's famous Ride, leading to the "shot heard round the world." Then we went year by year and followed General George Washington.

Paul Revere

One of the most amazing stories we read about was Henry Knox and his crazy idea to drag a load of cannons and other artillery from upstate New York (Ticonderoga) to Boston . . . in SNOW and across frozen lakes. Because where else was the Continental Army supposed to get weapons to fight the British?

Artillery Train

Of course, in 1776, there was that scathing letter to King George, in which men pledged their precious lives and sacred honor to tear away from their royal government and begin a completely new government based on liberty and self-government. They surely understood the dangers of a government that believed it was the source of its citizen's rights; anyone who believes our rights come from government doesn't understand that they are granting that same government the right to revoke those liberties when given the opportunity. Our Founders acknowledged that our rights come from God. (Yes, a higher source than man.)

1777-1778: We read about Valley Forge during winter and how miserable the Continental Army was. But thank God for Prussian Baron Von Steuben, who joined Washington at Valley Forge and helped transform the Army, raising morale.

Von Steuben at Valley Forge
1779-1883: We finished up with a somewhat discouraging, though perseverant campaign in the South; but the French arrived just in time came, the British made some mistakes, and Washington won a decisive battle at Yorktown, Virginia, against Cornwallis, to end the Revolutionary War.

Important Figures in History
Next, we spent a separate month to focus on biographies of important figures in early American history.

George Washington

John and Abigail Adams

Benjamin Franklin

John Hancock

Thomas Jefferson

Marquis de Lafayette

We took a couple of months to get through Johnny Tremain. The kids loved this story. 

Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes

American Folklore and Folksongs
We also spent a month reading early American folklore and songs, which the kids also loved. I often caughy them reading ahead, which I wish they would wait because then we may learn new ones together, at the same time. 

And here are the poets, composers, and artists we studied during this period:


Phillip Freneau
William Wordsworth
Jane Austen


Music of the American Revolutionary Period
Domenico Scarlatti
Niccol├│ Paganini


Gilbert Stuart
(Sidebar: during our visit to the California State Capitol building, inside the Assembly chamber, there is a painting of Washington, which is a copy of Gilbert Stuart's Washington portrait, redone by his daughter, Jane Stuart. The kids recognized it right away.)
Jon Trumbull
Charles Wilson Peale
Peale Self-Portrait, 1791

We are almost done with this school year. Just a few more topics to cover. See you then.

Coming Up Next . . . 

The United States Constitution
The Bill of Rights
The French Revolution

Friday, April 27, 2018

We the People, in Action: Victory for Homeschoolers

What an excellent field trip for this school year! 

April 25, 2018, the California Committee on Education was set to hear arguments for and against AB2756, the terrible homeschool bill that would collect specific data on (families) who register as a private school. Frankly, government just needs to stay out of the business of PRIVATE schools altogether.

So, Tuesday, we took an 8-hour drive to Sacramento with another homeschool family. We arrived at 9:45 pm, and did not get much sleep.

Wednesday morning, about 9 am, we walked to and took a tour of our Capitol.

Our tour guide showed us the Assembly and Senate chambers from the balconies. He gave a wonderful and informative presentation of how government works, which is exactly what my kids have been studying this year. They were even able to answer some of his questions, or at least were familiar with the ideas he spoke of.

The Assembly

Our guide, Clem

The Senate

After the tour, we had time to visit our Assemblyman, Jay Obernolte, who was kind enough to receive us without appointment, and he even gave a personal tour of the Assembly floor -- meaning we got to walk about the floor, which you cannot do without a member of the Assembly.

Assemblyman Obernolte giving us a personal tour

Assemblyman Obernolte brought our attention to the gargoyle in the egg-and-dart molding above, who sticks his tongue out at the Speaker.

One last look at the rotunda:

At 12 pm, we brought our lunch to the West Lawn to eat with others who had come to the Capitol to oppose AB2756, and by 12:30 we saw people already lining up to enter the building. The hearing was set for 1:30 pm. By 1pm we joined a very long line on the fourth floor. It was hot, it was stuffy, and it was tedious, just standing and going no where.

Occasionally, the kids found places to rest

I really like the following sign because this day truly was an example what "We the People" means.

I explained to my kids that representative government is hard work. Surely, we could have a king, and he could tell us how to live our lives, and we could just do whatever he says. Or, we could do the work to shape our government. To tell them what is right, we have to be involved. So standing in line for three hours to tell them we oppose this really bad bill, is hard work but necessary in order for this kind of government to exist and function.

Later, as our line was stopped right outside Assemblyman Obernolte's office, we popped our heads in quickly to say hi, again, and there was Mrs. Obernolte, waiting for the line to go down so she could join the end of it and voice her own opposition. She, too, is a homeschool mom. : )

Here is just one hallway, but this image does no justice because the lines looped around and around  the offices; we heard that the crowds needed to be moved to the fifth and sixth floors, as well as the cafeteria. We later read that the Sergeant at Arms counted over 2000 people who voiced their opposition.

I overheard Capitol employees ask what was going on, as they tried to walk down the hallways and reach their offices or the elevators. Some said it was the largest group of people they had ever seen turn up for a committee hearing. And another group of members joked that it looked like a line for a ride at Disneyland. That was probably because the lines were full of families -- moms, dads, children, even grandparents. 

By the time we got to speak, it was nearing 4 pm. It went very quickly, but I was very proud that all of the kids in our group chose to voice their opposition. And they did an excellent job.

After we opposed the bill, it was suggested we also visit our State Senator (Scott Wilk) before we leave, which we did. He was no longer there, but we spoke with his staff, and they assured us that he was not in support of the bill, if it ever reached the Senate. 

Finally, we joined the rally in progress on the South Capitol steps, and listened to a few speakers. When it was over, we walked to a pizza place, ate dinner, and went to our rooms for the night, for another sleepless night. We had to get up early the next morning to go home. 

But before the end of the night, it was a great joy to hear the news that the Education Committee asked for a motion on AB2756, in order to vote on it, and seriously, no one bothered to motion. It was dead. VICTORY! 

We left Sacramento the next morning knowing that our hard work had paid off. That is what our Founders meant by We the People. I hope this experience stays with my children forever and they never forget to be grateful for a free and representative government. 

Train them young to be grateful for their freedoms

Later that night, Assemblyman Obernolte added this image and post to his FB page:

That's us!

I am so proud of the hundreds of homeschool families (including some of my constituents) who traveled to Sacramento yesterday to testify in opposition to AB 2756. The line of people waiting to get into the committee room went all the way down the hall, past my office, and around the building. The Sergeant At Arms office told me it was the most people they'd seen for a hearing in recent memory. Ultimately the bill failed for lack of a motion, and because the deadline for passing fiscal bills out of committee is tomorrow, AB 2756 is effectively dead. Democracy in action!

My final word on the matter: 

It makes no sense that state government would care about how our children are educated when overwhelming evidence already is available that the majority of homeschooled children go on to be productive and successful citizens. Even testing and college entrance has determined that they perform as well as and better than their public schooled peers. 

This event even demonstrated how DIVERSE homeschool families are. (We know government loves diversity.) There were families of many races, languages, social, religious, and economic status, as well as conservative to  liberal. 

Homeschooling also produces diversity in citizens because families are raising up brand new unique people in character and knowledge. No two homeschooled students are alike because homeschooling fosters uniqueness in individuals. This should be encouraged. Homeschooled children tend to be untainted by the outside world. And homeschooled children are inclined to follow, study, and absorb what interests them. Uniqueness should be celebrated. 

And finally, our state government cannot convince me that they care about my children's educational development or health more than I do, especially a government that supports and defends the murder of unborn children in the womb. When the California state government fights for the life of the unborn and outlaws murder in the womb, then come talk to me. Before then, keep your hands off my children.

To see the video of the Education Committee hearing and opposition to AB2756, go here:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Inspired by Charlotte Mason: Observing Nature

The other day we finished school early, and as expected, my 10-year old asked to play on the computer. When all of their work and chores are done, I permit them thirty minutes to play on the computer. It may not seem like a lot, but every day they expect to play on the computer, and it has become their main desire. I want to end it, and I am already scheming how to cut it out of our school week altogether.

So when my son came to ask -- I was already outside enjoying the lovely sun, reading a book -- I told him,  "No. It is too early in the day. Find something constructive to do."

And he went and lied on the porch swing, "doing nothing."

I sighed, thinking, Great. Zero creativity. What a waste of good time.

About thirty minutes later he walked over to me and said, "While I was on the swing, I listened to four different bird calls, one bird song, and saw four different bugs."

I almost fell off my chair. To encourage him, I suggested he go get his nature journal, which has not been used as much as it should, and figure out the birds he heard and bugs he saw and record them in his journal.

And he went immediately to get his journal, drew the bugs, and recorded the birds he heard or saw.

Of course, these should be brush drawings, not pencil, but we're not there, yet.
I am just excited he found something more creative to do, and he did it on his own.

The other day he said to me that he wanted to write in his "nature diary" every day, 
even just to describe the kind of day it was. And he's been talking non-stop about nature.

I promise . . . I never told this kid anything about CM ideas on nature. Not, yet.

But when I do talk to all of my kids, I do hope that they will be just as excited as I am
to find better things to do than play on the computer.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Hiking: Sturtevant Falls, Los Angeles County

Nature Hike
Sturtevant Falls, California

Oh, look: Valley Forge : )

Stuartevant Falls is one of the more beautiful hikes I have been on
 because it is so green and runs along a stream.

The best part is the waterfall.
(It's just a little waterfall.)
Maybe that is because I live in a desert.

Sauntering by the falls:

Much of our group decided to go up two more miles above the falls, 
but several of us stayed behind at the waterfall because . . . 


There they go

Later, I saw these pics of my kids at the top:

I also later heard that my kids and some of the other kids were separated from the adults for a while,
which has happened before, 
but they were gratefully reunited, obviously.
Scary thoughts of survivalism go through your mind when you are lost.

Of course, 
I was totally oblivious to what was going on above the waterfall.

It was a long and beautiful day. 

: )

And the only litter we saw were
orange peels.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

California Lawmaker Targets Homeschoolers, Again

A short time ago I was complaining about AB2756, in which California would require homeschools to be inspected by the local Fire Marshall. Now there is AB2926, which threatens to do far more than a safety inspections. Both bills are still on the table.

This latest bill is authored by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, co-author of AB2756, and this time she calls for homeschools to meet health and safety checks, additional curriculum standards, and teacher certification.

I may be suffering from American privilege, but somewhere I learned that I have natural rights that cover my privacy, personal responsibility, independence, and life. I read something like
All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -
I don't know where, but anyway, I always understood it to be part of my American heritage. I guess I assumed those ideas would naturally be sacred to all Americans.

But no.

Lurking behind those provisions, there are Americans who believe that some citizens should not have certain freedoms, and those Americans are in a position to use their granted powers to threaten and restrict the liberties of their fellow citizens. These legislators, like Eggman, are ready with sword and whiteout to strike with a vengeance parental responsibility. Yeah, it almost seems personal.

Legislators are supposed to be equals because they are not above the law. So how is it that one citizen can hunt down and challenge my personal and private decision to be solely responsible for my children's education?

It is unAmerican that an elected official who does not know me or my children can decide that I need oversight to educate and care for my own. Not only that, but Eggman does not care about my children as much as I do, which is probably more insulting than any of this.

Parents do not come to the decision to homeschool lightly. One must prepare to sacrifice many personal liberties in order to dedicate effort, time, and energy to children, in many cases, all day. Many put their own careers or work opportunities on hold in order to commit to such rewarding work as homeschooling.

Also, freedom in homeschooling has permitted ideas in education, learning, and teaching to flourish and expand with an immense variety of outcomes and results, which should be celebrated because variety produces creativity, individualism, and well-roundedness. The results of homeschoolers are public -- they perform as well as or better than their public schooled peers, go on to college, and get on in the world as well as anybody else.

Unfortunately, the idea of "school" has been unnecessarily complicated. We have come to be believe that learning only takes place in government-sanctioned buildings, with government-certified teachers, between the hours of 8 and 3, using only government-authorized curriculum. This is ignorance, but for many Americans, it is all they know.

Government has seen the results of homeschooling, but instead of encouraging it, they are seeking ways to end it. Like many government officials, Susan Eggman's problem is her lust for power. She arrogantly thinks that she has to control a portion of the citizenry; she thinks she knows better than her lowly fellow citizens, and considers it is her responsibility to save us from ourselves.

AB2926 would put a burden on parents to get a degree in order to obtain teacher certification, and it would certainly be more difficult for lower income families -- you know, the one's the Democrats claim to care more about.

In addition, it is a violation of privacy to demand health and safety checks. (Folks, this is seriously treading into Communist ideology, and you should be very concerned, even if you do not homeschool.)

And again, what gives one citizen the right over another citizen to tell them what "curriculum" they have to use to "teach" their children in their own home? Hello, Big Sister.

Susan Eggman supports Planned Parenthood, 
but we're supposed to believe she cares about children. Ha!

There is something very wrong with our country -- this state, obviously -- when one citizen considers herself above a group of Americans  -- that she would greatly insult her fellow citizen's intelligence, rob them of their parental responsibilities, and threaten their privacy and liberties.

You have to hate freedom to its core, and you have to hate this country as much to do something that arrogant, especially when the very idea you target provides a-hell-of-a-lot-better results than ranking 44th place in K-12 state government education in the entire nation.

Way to go California.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Age of Revolution: The Enlightenment and America at a Crossroads


Age of Revolution
Europe and Colonial America

Seeds of Rebellion
"Many mickles make a muckle"


The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment period in Europe was not so reasonable. Rather it was a philosophical movement which aimed to bring light to darkness, especially with religion, such as the Reformation did. Unfortunately, these philosophers used secular humanism to pursue truth, and they especially attacked Christianity, seeing it only as a burden to man, keeping him in bondage. So they used man-based solutions and encouraged people to use their personal experiences and feelings to determine truth. Kinda like Oprah Winfrey does today. See here, if you don't believe me.

And if that wasn't successful enough, the Enlightenment would lead to the Romanticism period, which I truly adore in art and music and poetry; but still, this philosophy also used man-made ideals to define life. Both of these humanistic ideas would lead to the bloody French Revolution. More on that later.


America at a  Crossroads

Meanwhile, colonists in America overwhelmingly wanted to set things right with Britain, but underneath the calm, America and Britain maintained different values. In addition, taxation was a burden, and the colonists did not have parliamentarian representation back in England.  This did not seem fair. And what they believed to be their God-given liberties (religious, political, economical), English rulers did not protect.

The Great Awakening had had a major influence on the colonists, even for those who were not Christians. They had a sense of God and the benefit of His laws. Many Founding Fathers were godly men. These principles will matter when it comes time to make a decision about breaking off from Britain and creating a new government and country.

George Whitefield preaching

The Boston Massacre and 
The Boston Tea Party

There were many events in America that influenced how Britain handled the colonists, and how the colonists responded to Britain. One was a provoked confrontation of British soldiers, who fired into a crowd of taunters, and the other was the calm and well-planned rebellion against the Mother Country's attempt to force her colony (Boston) to pay for the tea and be quiet. That was an obvious turning point in the hearts of many colonists.

Boston Massacre Engraving by Paul Revere


The Fifth of March- Ann Rinaldi
This was an interesting historical fiction read that brought us right into the home of John Adams; but the love interest between the main character and Matthew Kilroy, one of the only two British soldiers to be punished for the Boston Massacre, was a little unnecessary. We skipped it. But overall, the story provided more insight into the event - before, during, and after. 

Phillis Wheatley
Do read about this woman's amazing story. Poor thing was taken from Africa as a little girl and sold as a slave, but she was bought by a loving family and educated. She wrote amazing poetry. Not only did she meet General George Washington, but she also went to London. Unfortunately, after she was set free, she was stricken with poverty and health issues. 

Henry Purcell

Benjamin West
Another interesting biography of an American artist who is known for cutting the hair of the family cat in order to make paint brushes. He went to England during the Revolution to study art, while getting on the good side of King George.
A flattering selfie by Benjamin West

In December, we took a rest from most school work, but we did take time to study Shakespeare. This year we read "Hamlet" and "Much Ado About Nothing."