Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm a Curator!

I've just created my first Esty treasury
Here's a sneak peek:

Wondering how those fit together?  Visit my first treasury to see!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Halloween Hullabaloo Hellfire and Humbugs

What? I like alliteration!  The annual Halloween debates have started (at least on Facebook). 

I always dreaded this time of year.  As a child, we were allowed to participate in Halloween, up to a point.  We always dressed up, sometimes attended parties, and trick-or-treated only in our neighborhood or at the Mall (with a trip to the hospital afterwards to have our candy x-rayed to make sure it didn't have any needles in it!)  When I was in 5th grade my parents had a conversion of sorts to a more conservative brand of Christianity and child-rearing philosophies.  We started homeschooling, only listening to Christian music and being more aware of the spiritual issues around us.  This was when we stopped "doing" Halloween (as best as I remember!)  Mike Warnke (a Christian Comedian and Evangelist) was very popular and told tales of his past as a Satanic high priest.  He asserted that Halloween was the high-holy day for Satanists and many Christians we knew immediately rejected any participation.  Even some churches stopped doing any type of alternative activities.

My husband and I decided early in our marriage that we would not participate in many of the traditional childhood fantasies when we had children.  We don't "do" Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and we don't celebrate Halloween.  The reasoning behind the fictional characters is sound: If we can't see them and we are told they exist, then grow up and find out it was untrue, then how will we be able to believe that Jesus, who we also cannot see, is not also a myth?  We decided that we would be honest and truthful with our kids, while being respectful of other families who did celebrate in more traditional ways (and caution our children to never spoil the fun of their friends who "believe"!)

Halloween was a little more dark (both figuratively and literally).  I do not personally have a problem with fictional literature (I know many well-meaning and convicted Christians who do).  I don't have a problem with make-believe or role-playing.  I don't have a problem with faerie-tales and mythology.  All of those things have been associated with Halloween and sometimes raise objections.

The more serious objection is the origin of Halloween and the observance of it as an occultic holiday.  I do believe that Halloween has it's roots in Druidism, Celtic and Wiccan traditions.  I also believe that the Catholic church sought to transition this into a Christian Celebration by naming November 1st as "All Saint's Day".  These are widely regarded as fact and I'll not belabor the points here (Google if you must!)

My question is: does "celebrating" Halloween make you a bad Christian, dishonor God, or worse yet - set you up as an ally of His enemy Satan.  I don't think it does.  I know plenty of people who celebrate Christmas who are no more Christian than I am a Satanist.  Many people enjoy a good Easter meal and never consider the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  In fact, both of these Christian holidays have pagan roots as well, they have just been more successfully converted to Christianity.  I also know a few devout Christians who refuse to participate in these holidays for the same reasons.  I love and respect them all!

I think that many of the Christians who refuse to celebrate Halloween do so less out of deep personal conviction and more out of a desire to appear holy.  I know, I used to be one!  I wanted others to KNOW that I was serious about my faith, and the serious Christians didn't do Halloween.  It didn't matter that there was no personal conviction behind it. 

I have chosen to look at this day and break it down into the acceptable and non-acceptable (as I understand it and am personally convicted).  For us, this is what Halloween looks like:

Devil, ghoul, witch costumes: out
Nature, character, fantasy costumes: in
Candy: in (except for candy cigarettes - I'm still holding out on that one LOL!)
Decorating for Halloween: out
Decorating for fall/harvest: in
Neighborhood trick-or-treating: out (because of the scary decorations in some places)
Business / Mall trick-or-treating: in
Haunted Houses: what do you think?  LOL: out
Harvest or Hallelujah festivals: in

I do not hold it against my fellow Christians who participate or do not participate.  I certainly don't judge or hold anything against non-believers!

I welcome any respectful commentary, and reserve the right to delete anything that is not :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A fun Homeschool cartoon :)

Name that bar! (a contest)

My mother-in-law's best friend has started a great new company making incredible lotion bars.  They are truly fabulous and smell good too :)

100% natural-beeswax-shea butter-coconut oil and a little lavender for scent

She's trying to come up with a catchy and fun name and is asking for your help!  The winning name will get a supply of her great bars!

Hurry, visit her blog today!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

HELP! Long Car Trips...Toddler to Tweens

We are gearing up to leave this weekend for a long car trip.  We'll be in the car for at least 6 hours each of 6 days.

I always love to plan games and activity pages, music and movies, etc.  I usually put together games and toys for the little ones, then rotate them out every now and then so they are "fresh".

This year I've put together 3 ring binders with coloring pages from Crayola and pages from activity books I bought at Target's $1 section (a little school will do them good!).  The kids also like Mandalas, and I ususally print out a map of where we're going so they can chart along with our progress.

I'm wondering if you have any travel tips and games to share?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The less-reluctant homeschooler: strengths and weaknesses

If you've been following my homeschool journey, then you know we've been making some changes.

I was inspired to write today by a friend's great post.  This originally started out as a comment, then I realized that I was being way too long winded, and thought perhaps my followers would like a glimpse into my current thoughts on this homeschool journey.

I attended 3 different private schools and 1 public school before I started HS'ing in 5th grade. We HS'ed kindergarten then used a charter school and now are HS'ing again, 2nd year with 4th and 6th graders.

The biggest challenge (in my opinion) is identifying and building on strengths (rather than focusing on weaknesses). These are our natural abilities that can, and should, be nurtured. Whether it's a learning style that can be applied across all topics, or a propensity towards a particular discipline, I am learning that if I focus the majority of our time developing those areas, life is much easier.

I have one child that hates to write. The more time we spend on it, the more they hate it. It is a vicious circle. The same child loves to read, to explore, to experiment, to conquer, to take tests (and pass with 100's only please, they want perfection!). Why would I ignore all those good traits and focus instead on a lack of writing prowess? There is plenty of time, and I can make plenty of opportunities to tie writing education to "real" learning (in their opinion writing for the sake of writing is pretty dumb. I feel the same way about algebra!)

My other child loves music, if they can sing it they can memorize it. Can you just smell the learning potential? They love to be read TO, love art and anything creative, including writing. I see so many opportunities to allow them to work together, each using their own strengths, learning from each other. Now, if they only got along! LOL

My personal challenge is daily discipline. I have spent so much time trying to hone this weakness into a skill. I'm realizing that, just as with my children, I have to instead focus on my strengths. I am a great thinker, planner and spontaneous learner. I ask good questions and have the skills to find the answers. Those are my strengths. It feels good to give myself permission to speak them aloud! Our HS can benefit from those skills tremendously.

As with anything, a strength or skill taken to extremes becomes a weakness.  This is the challenge I face with my planning skills.  I make beautiful schedules that are suitable for framing.  I can't live up to my own expectations, so I fail.  Every time.  It's a real bummer!  I think if I had a staff my life would be easier!  My friend Laura used to say that if she had handmaidens (like the Proverbs 31 woman) she would be better off too!

I've learned that I must temper my own strengths to allow room for my weaknesses.  (Hmmm, I'm thinking that this would preach!)  Instead of planning everything down to the nth degree, instead I cast a vision, often on the spot or in the days leading up to the learning event. 

For instance, I am visiting with family in Lubbock this week.  My brother mentioned that there was a wind-power museum here that's pretty interesting.  I tucked that away in my head.  As we started our trip, I began to think of questions about wind power, and on the drive took the opportunity to plant seeds of learning as we passed wind generators.  "How do you think they work?"  "Are they larger than you expected?"  This morning I posted an opportunity (on Facebook) for other HS kids/families to give us their questions about wind power so that we can discover with a purpose, then report back (hint-I'll have the kids write back to answer the questions - sneaky HS mom trick to get the non-writer to write! MUHAHAHAH)  They won't even know they're learning, but I will.  It will not be graded and measured.  I will probably not add it to the chart that I'd like to keep of all the learning we've done.  And, for once, I'll not beat myself up for it.

I'd like to include a clever summary sentence here that would wrap all of this up and put a nice bow on the top.  The fact is, my HS (as my life) is a work in progress.  There are loose strings and unanswered questions all over the place.  I cannot accurately answer my own questions, much less any one else's about our method, plan, progress, etc.  Does that scare me?  Hello?  I'm a planner!  It scares me a lot!  I'm walking on faith and trust here that my good intentions, thoughtfulness and deep love of learning, coupled with my passion for my children's souls, gifts, lives, experiences and maturity, will be exponentially and divinely multiplied by the God of GRACE who loves us all more than we can imagine!

References and Resources:

The Strong Life Test, Marcus Buckingham
Learning Styles Assessment info

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

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