Building up Steam

This new homeschool year, we’re doing things a little differently.  We’re working our way up to a full homeschool schedule.  Starting everything at once can be a little overwhelming.  Beginning with a few subjects and adding slowly is helpful to us in more ways than one.  This approach takes away the stress of going from lazy summer mode to school mode almost overnight.  Starting at a walk and working slowly into a run is less tiresome than beginning at a full sprint. We should be able to quickly pinpoint our trouble areas in terms of time and interest, and make changes accordingly.

Fresh off the momentum from Kids’ Crusade at church, Kathryn’s home school year began with guitar lessons at Brewer Music Studios courtesy of Mrs. Lynn Brewer, who plays the piano at our church.  Her music is absolutely stunning.  Listening to her praise God on the piano and taking part in that worship is something we and our church family look forward to every single week.

Having homeschooled her own children, Mrs. B is very intuitive to the individuality of each of her students.  She works with their personalities and strengths as much as possible.  Kathryn is at that age where she is establishing her own identity.  I was a bit concerned that Mrs. B would not know quite what to think of Kathryn.  My fears were laid to rest when I learned that Mrs. B’s own children had in their youth worn their hair nearly every color of the rainbow.  (If you don’t quite get why this would make me feel better, refer to the red fin tuna post!)

As an aside, if you live in the Foley area and are interested in piano, violin, guitar, bass, drum or voice lessons e-mail brewermusicstudio@yahoo.com and tell Mrs. B we sent you.  She is awesome and loves homeschoolers.  🙂

Our next activity was the first quarterly meeting of our 4-H Club, the Alabama Gulf Coast Guardians.  Kathryn will serve as club treasurer this year.  We are looking forward to fall activities with the club: Alabama Water Watch recertification; Greater Gulf State Fair booths, exhibits & competitions; Veterans’ Day fall campout.  If you’re searching for a fun, active 4-H club, I can hook you up with an awesome group of families led by Mrs. Lisa Brazelton of Chickasaw.  This club’s perfect for public, private, or homeschooled kids.  It meets once a quarter in the late afternoons, and many of the field trips and activities are held on the weekends or school holidays.

The next activity to pick up was youth Bible Quizzing.  One thing I am proud of the Nazarene Church for doing is keeping the quizzing program going past 6th grade.  Children’s Quizzing was great, and the kids learned so much of the Bible.  Youth Quizzing is all that AND a bag of chips…  Not only do they continue to delve into God’s Word regularly, but they get to travel while they do it.  Stops on the Alabama South Youth Quizzing circuit this year include Dadeville, Dothan, Millbrook, and Roanoke.  Several out-of-state trips are also a possibility.

Later this week we will introduce Social Studies, Reading, and possibly Math at home.  Social Studies will consist of a year-long study of American History.  I’m excited about the set of books we’ll be using: A History of Us by Joy Hakim.  This is an eleven-volume series that covers everything from The First Americans (my favorite topic) to Colonial America, The Civil War & Reconstruction, and continuing through most of the 20th century.  These volumes are a cross between traditional history texts and storybooks.  The information is presented in an engaging way.  The illustrations, sidebars, and enrichment articles are beautiful. My favorite section comes at the end of each volume — More Books to Read.  This gives lists of additional fiction and non-fiction books related to the topics covered in each volume.  Love, love, love!

Math does not bring the joy in our house that reading and artwork do.  But we’ll take that one step at a time as well!  Science is one of my favorites, but it is so easy to get bogged down in the planning.  There are so many possibilities with science…field trips, experiments, hands-on activities.  I almost always wind up leaving science for last because it takes me the longest to wrap up.  I was hoping to do a year of middle school earth science, which usually includes a unit or two on astronomy.  However, the focuser on Sam’s big Meade telescope is broken.  🙁  We’ll have to get that fixed if we want to do any worthwhile stargazing this year.  Kathryn will probably mutiny if I make her study plants again.  She’s not too cool with life science in general.  Perhaps if I came up with something to blow up to kick off science…hmmmm.

To be continued…

The Red Fin Tuna

This has been a year of new experiences and change for us.  In February Mike, Kathryn, and I went to Washington, D.C., with the 4-H Club.  In March I took the job of secretary at our church after being out of the workforce for roughly three and a half years.  (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & fibromyalgia will do that to you.  But I’ll save that for another post.)  Last month we lost our eccentric old cat Jesse.  He was 15 years old and, along with his brother Frank, had been a present for Michael for his 5th birthday.  But Jesse got along best with Sam, and we came to call him “Daddy’s cat.”  We complained at how loudly he meowed and how he got under everyone’s feet, but I think even the dog misses him.  Last week Kathryn was promoted from the Children’s Sunday School Department to NYI — Nazarene Youth International.  Mike is considering a career in the U.S. Army, which isn’t exactly new information.  What is new about this is my slow acceptance of the fact that Mike is a young man and I can’t keep him home and “safe” forever.

None of us changed outwardly as a result of these new experiences — except for Kathryn.  As she counts down the months to her teen years, Kathryn is determined to enter adolescence with a style that is all her own.  Gone are the pink crocs and pastel colors of childhood.  They’ve been replaced by boots, Converse and dark T-shirts.  Gone is the dark blonde hair, first darkening to brown on its own, then warming to a brilliant shade of red-orange thanks to jars of semi-permanent dye.  I did draw the line at blue, green, purple, and anything that couldn’t remotely be considered a color that hair would normally be.

The Red-Fin Tuna

Don’t let the world mess with your head!

Kathryn got the opportunity to show everyone more of her outgoing, vibrant personality, and that awesome red hair, at Kids Crusade.  This summer our church hosted Pete Hutchinson and his exceptional, Christ-centered ministry to children with Team Extreme.  If your church is looking for an alternative to VBS or an extended outreach event to the kids in your congregation & community, I highly recommend Team Extreme.  The hardest group to engage, in my opinion, are pre-teen boys.  Our church members’ children of all ages participated actively in what was going on.  But even more touching were the older unchurched boys from the nearby apartment complex and neighborhood.  They were so engrossed the night Pete gave his skydiving testimony that the moving around on the back rows stopped and all eyes and ears were tuned in to what Pete had to say.  The blessings from Kids Crusade are like ripples in the water, flowing outward touching not only our church but the community, not only the children but the teens and adults as well.  Here’s a link to the Team Extreme facebook page if you’d like more information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-Xtreme/121675167865760.One of the lessons that begged illustrating from Kids Crusade was how the world is just waiting to steal away the joy, encouragement, and blessings that God gives us.  We have to remember not to let the world “mess with our heads.”  Enter Delilah’s barbershop.  Each “contestant” picked a friend to be his or her own personal barber with the goal of creating the wildest shaving cream hairdo onstage.  Seated on the left-hand side of the stage is Kathryn, with her friend Ashley Hardy as the barber.  Words cannot adequately express the masterpiece that Ashley created.   Suffice it to say, the hairdo won the contest and earned Kathryn a new nickname courtesy of Pete Hutchinson — “the red-fin tuna.”