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."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Transforming into a Charlotte Mason homeschool

Since beginning in 2001, our homeschool has been through many changes.

Originally, it was only a replica of the way I learned in the public classroom between the hours of 8 am and 3 pm. 

Soon after, I implemented the schedule from Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp. It introduced us to lots of great books that we checked out from the library. 

It did not take long for me to understand education differently than the way I knew it to be, and that was liberating.

A few years later I read Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind and for several long years tried to recreate that ambitious classical education with two kids; however, trying to do Greek, Latin, logic, on top of math, grammar, history, literature, science, composition, and spelling for two different grades, in addition to having one, two, and three babies, took its toll. We lost our joy.

Then we joined together with neighboring homeschool families and did Epic Adventures and had a blast for the next five or six years. It was a relief from the rigid classical education, and we made the best memories. 

Now we have been on our own for the last few years.

Meanwhile, I frequently read about other educational ideas and philosophies, and over years I have briefly read about Charlotte Mason, but her books have been either unavailable or difficult to find, or they are very expensive to buy used. I suppose I could have read her books online, but then I was also content with what we were doing and did not pursue it.

Last year, Charlotte Mason's six-volume Original Homeschooling Series was reprinted, and I convinced my husband to buy them for me (as a Mother's Day gift). I have already read four of them. It has prompted me to find and join as many CM communities online as I can find. I listen to A Delectable Education podcasts while on the treadmill at the gym, I devoured Karen Andreola's Charlotte Mason Companion, and I listened to her Mother Culture podcast two times . . . while on the treadmill, of course.  

We are only half way through our current school year, but I have already crossed over in my heart. Next year (God willing) we are homeschooling via Charlotte Mason. 

In order to begin the transition, I have already added lots of narration, picture study, and folklore and folksongs. We are also learning to draw maps from memory. We only read living books, and we own our own nature journals.

We will finish this school year doing what we have been doing, but in fall I will introduce the new structure and subjects and topics. I predict it will be a fairly easy transition, and I think they will be very excited about the new ideas. 

For now, I am sharing some work that has been Charlotte Mason-inspired. These are our commonplace journals where we record our inspiration. This is my 9-year old's page on John Singleton Copley:

This is my 9-year old's free-drawn replica of the early United States. At some point we will all try to draw this from total memory.

This is my 10-year old's page on Johnny Tremain. He equally dislikes drawing, painting, and writing. But this time I told him to illustrate something from the story that mattered to him.

This next image is of my 13-year old's page on William Wordsworth. She copied his poem "I wandered lonely as a cloud." In the past she would scribble something illegible into her journal and skip the opportunity to do any illustration. But I gave her the option to write whatever she liked about the poet, and this really inspired her.

And lastly, this is my dubious rendition of Mr. Wordsworth. These activities are important for me because I am always working at my handwriting, which is normally atrocious. Believe me, next school year we are all going to have copybooks.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Preventing Homeschool Torture and School Shootings

Last week, Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-CA) introduced a bill (AB 2756), which would require homeowners who file a private school affidavit (otherwise known as a homeschool) to submit to annual safety checks by the Fire Marshall. This is existing law for private schools in general, but it has not been enforced (that I can tell) for private homeschools.

Since the discovery of the Turpin family (the sadistic couple that tortured their thirteen children for years, taking advantage of California's liberal homeschool environment), California's political moralists - in knee-jerk fashion - decided homeschoolers have too much unnecessary freedom and need to be strictly monitored to prevent anymore homeschool children from being tormented.

You can read Medina's words here:

The horrific child abuse case in Perris, California, raised questions about the lack of oversight of private schools. As homeschooling is included in the state's definition of private school, we currently have very little information on the nature of private school entities across California. My bill, AB 2756, will tighten up existing law to be inclusive of all private school learning environments and collect more information to achieve a better understanding of private school landscape in California. I believe it is important to have different education options, such as private schools, to meet each child's individual needs. However, the state has a responsibility to ensure that each child is in a safe learning environment. AB 2756 will provide the oversight needed to protect students and their rights.

Assemblyman Jose Medina

You will note that there is nothing in the bill (as of yet) describing what will happen to homeschoolers who do not meet the required safety codes. Will we really have to add lighted EXIT signs above our doors? Will we have to remodel our homes? Will we be fined? Will parents be forced to enroll their children into public school if they do not comply?

Needless to say, I am livid. Why? Because I know that no State official genuinely cares more about my children than my husband and me. They literally have no interest in my children's education or their welfare. This is simply an abuse of power. It is unconstitutional and un-American.

But, unfortunately, in our current culture, parents are quickly losing their rights and responsibilities to their children, and children are being magically granted rights by the State above their parents. You can see by Media's statement that this has little to do with safety; it is just the initial step of the State to get their wicked hands on our children, by nosing around in what is not their business -- a parent's right and responsiblity to determine their child's education.

Therefore, let me review the State's absolute inability to keep students safe in government schools.

I can speak of my own personal experience at pubic school, but instead let us look at today's current public school environment: kids in general can be cruel, and there is rarely any recourse in bullying. Teachers and administrators are limited in what they can legally do to protect students from the aggressions and brutality of other students, especially the gang mentality of groups. And if a student protects himself, he is also treated as a wrongdoer, thanks to zero tolerance policies.

Then there is the infamous teacher/coach perpetrator.  Just this morning I read a story about a newlywed female teacher who was found half naked in a car with one of her students. These kinds of stories are in the news weekly.

In addition, female students often endure the offensive, aggressive male behavior on campus. To be fair, it is a dangerous, or at least extremely disagreeable situation for both genders, especially at junior high and high school levels. There are many situations that occur at school that teachers,  administrators, and parents never find out about. What can be done to prevent something if adults do not even know about them after they have already happened?

Now let us look at the current reality of mass school shootings. No parent wants to send their kids to school and consider the possibility of a mass shootings, which is all too frequent in our free society. Regretfully, our schools are not safe from this kind of reality either.

If people truly want to prevent another mass shooting at school, and because many are demanding action and change, then there are many issues that must be addressed, not just focusing on the object of guns.

For one, legislators must come to a major compromise to both restrict specific kinds of guns and gun ownership for some, while still preserving the 2nd Amendment for law abiding citizens. Unfortunately for law-abiding 18-year olds, California Senator Diane Feinstein has already proposed legislation to raise the legal gun purchasing age to 21.

Second, law enforcement and federal agencies will need to come up with an efficient way to collect personal information on and track suspecting citizens, especially those deemed dangerous, threatening, or mentally unstable. This means citizens are going to need to be more vigilant about watching their neighbors, family members, and classmates, and immediately informing authorities about concerns. Any disturbing or questionable behavior, images, content, or comments may prompt visits by authorities and get the perpetrator's name in a database for life.

Also, school security is going to have to change drastically, and students and parents will have to relinquish more of their rights, responsibilities, and freedoms. Everyone will need to go through extensive security checks and expect to be monitored at all times. No personal property or clothing or vehicle will be private or safe - no locker, no backpack, no cell phone, and definitely no one's social media.

While we are at it, it is not only guns that need to be moderated, but we must admit the possibility of other kinds of attacks, like knives, bombs, pressure cookers in backpacks, fires, and chemical and  vehicle attacks, even if they may hurt only a few compared to an automatic weapon. Our society is sick, and man's heart is corrupt and bent on evil, but if society rather continue to focus on weapons as the culprit instead of addressing the most crucial issue at hand (the human heart and sin), then we have to incorporate everything because nothing and no one is exempt any longer.  After all, this is the culture we have created since we turned our backs on God and removed Him from our public and private lives. But I digress.

Again, if we are all truly sick and tired of this, and if we want to feel like something is being to done to prevent another school shooting, then we are all going to have to relinquish our privacy, our rights, our liberties, and our innocence because no one is safe now, and everyone and everything is suspect. We are all potential Nikolas Cruzes.

How the State of California envisions all homeschool parents

I mean, after all, that is what is happening here in California -- because the contemptible couple from Texas purposefully took the time to file a private school affidavit, now the ENTIRE homeschool community in California is being treated like they, too, are a Turpin family possibility. It reminds me of when I was younger and was disciplined for something my brother did because he would not confess, and my mother saw me equally as the suspect because she did not know who really did whatever damage. Or when in school, the entire class lost the opportunity for an end of the year class field trip due to the bad behavior of a few students. (Regretfully, I was one of those bad students.)

If Medina's bill passes, homeschoolers will be forced to give up more of their privacy, rights, and time and be subject to Fire Marshall Bill who will dutifully report back to Nanny State that he did not see anything suspicious, and that all of the children well accounted for.

Sorry, America, but if given the opportunity, or if we continually and violently demand and expect all protection and well-being (of our children) from the State, then the State will react in-kind and treat us accordingly: as possible dangers to our kids, irresponsible with their well-being, and undeserving of any liberty, privacy, or choice.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Revolutionary War at Huntington Beach, California

What a privilege it was to meet General George Washington, since we have been learning about the Revolutionary War. There was a re-enactment this past weekend, in Huntington Beach, California. 

There were drills and demonstrations in sword fighting and artillery in the Continentals' camp.

 We visited the British camps, but not much was happening there.

Here they were lined up to meet the Yankees at Lexington.

The Yankees were just a rag-tag of characters, standing around.

When the British started firing, the Yankees started running.

However, as the British returned to Boston, the Yankees caught them unawares. They hid behind trees, rocks, and shrubs, inflicting the most British casualties than at Lexington or Concord. The Revolutionary War had finally arrived.

Later, we looked forward to hearing the reading of the Declaration of the Independence.

But first, after the battle at Lexington, young, inspired boys ran to buy rifles at the gun depot; unfortunately, they sold out quickly. Vin was one of the last kids to buy a gun. 
And here he used it on his father. 
(My husband has no shame.)

Below, Gouvernor Morris of New York, General and Martha Washington, and John and Abagail Adams of Boston dine together.

Later, a few Brits and Continentals laid down their arms and picked up their instruments to make some colonial music together.

We know this kid . . . I mean, we saw him at Oak Glen Apple Farm Civil War Field Trip some weeks ago. He must love history.

Below, the General, Morris, and later, Adams, discussed the issues of Independence and took questions from the crowd.

Finally, John Adams read to us the main portion of the Declaration of Independence.