Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Age of Revolution: A New Republic

This is the school year wrap up, which happened at the end of May. 

This last month was broken up with extra-curricula events, complicated life issues, and unforeseen necessary happenings, such as a quick run to Sacramento to implement "We the People."  

Nonetheless, we managed to get through these important issues.

April - May

Age of Revolution
Europe and America

"Fare thee well"


The United States Constitution

Of course, we had to read the quick story of how the U.S. Constitution came to be, how it outlines the structure of our government, and how super short this document truly is. Imagine: legislation and our tax code are longer than the document that holds our nation together. Amazing.

The Bill of Rights
We covered the extremely important first ten amendments to our Constitution, which protect the rights of the individual and the states from an overreaching federal government.

The French Revolution

And we did a quick overview of the reasons for and the beginnings of the French Revolution. I promised to speak to this. I found a lot of interesting similarities to those pre-revolutionary ideas and to our society and culture today. Maybe it is simply because civilizations repeat themselves throughout history. Frankly, there is nothing new under the sun. 

Here is a summary:

The people had lost hope in the King and the Church, as both had shown themselves to be untrustworthy, corruptible tyrants. They watched the revolution in America, and they wanted their rights and liberties, too. 

Remember the Enlightenment? This philosophy, thanks to Voltaire, Rousseau, and others, came in handy. The people began to reject the laws of God and instead embraced the ideas of man. In other words, they could no longer look to their king or the church to teach them what was right; hence, they were left to their own devices.

The Enlightenment encouraged the people to be ashamed of their country, its history, and its institutions. They rejected their own French Forefathers! They even questioned and attacked God as the established authority. They envisioned a utopia where there would be no prejudice, sin, or error.

Sound familiar, yet?

The Enlightenment blamed Christianity and the aristocrats for every societal problem (which is understandable because the Catholic Church was filthy rich, the King and Queen were living high on the hog, and both were untouchable). The people began to reject privilege and excellence and desired equality of the classes, and sanctity of the poor, and to be free from civilized restraints. They rebelled against traditions and sinned openly, without shame or restraint.

Sadly, the more they demanded liberty to do as they pleased, the more it brought on chaos, disunity, fear, and tyranny. In the end, though we stopped at 1800, they brought on another kind of dictator anyway. But we'll cover that next year when we return.

The New Republic

Finally, we covered two more short topics: one on the New Republic and some of its obstacles, such as little uprisings of left-over rebelliousness, meant to check the new government. 

Northwest Ordinance

One of the new republic's ideas was to encourage settlers to move west into the Northwest Territory, just south of the Great Lakes. The Northwest Ordinance explained how a territory could become a new state and join the union.

Of course, the Native American peoples living in these areas did not much appreciate this, and there were a deadly few skirmishes with settlers. Hence, the government sent Mad Anthony Wayne to put a stop to the Indian attacks, and supposedly it worked, but not without a terrible loss of life.

And this concluded our history up to the 1800s.


For literature, we took two months to read The Scarlet Pimpernel, which is more of a love story than it is about the French Revolution, but the kids loved it because it is a definite hero/heroine story with a good guy/gal and a villain. 

The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Orczy


I did not like my poet choice this month, so we only read one poem from Lord Byron. 

Lord Byron


Music of the French Revolution

We listened to French music of the Revolution for music, including "La Marseillaise," which is the national anthem, and was written in 1792. 


Jacques Louis David

And finally, we studied French artist Jacques Louis David. We have been able to see some of his works at the Getty in Los Angeles. 

The End.

See you all next fall.

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.