Friday, March 30, 2012

Tapestry of Grace, Part Five: Your Questions Answered!

By popular demand. . . . . . or not-so-popular demand, but a few people asked, and we're going on the "contact your congressman theory".  You know, the one that says, "If x number of people bother to contact you about an issue, then 75x people actually feel the same way about that issue."

It's a word problem.   And what do homeschoolers do with word problems?

We make our children solve them.  We're sneaky that way.


This post was about TOG, not math.

Because I'm pulling my hair out about my choice of math for next year, so I'm not going to blog about it.  I have that whole "Perfect Homeschooler" image to keep up, after all.

Alrighty then.  Here are a few questions I've gathered this week, with my answers.

 Do you buy books or use the library?
This reminds me of a gag my husband likes to pull on kids, "Do you walk to school or take your lunch?"  The answer?  Both.  Here's my philosophy:

Since I have a "large" family, I buy almost all of the Rhetoric books, usually from Bookshelf Central.  I figure it's a good investment; they will be used by 3 other children, Lord willing.  After that, I buy all of the Dialectic literature books, and any Dialectic history book that's used for 3 weeks or more.  For the Grammar books, and a large bunch of Dialectic books as well, I use our library - we are blessed with a great library that has a county-wide system of lending.

I have a decent library to begin with, being a former Sonlight user and all, and try to pull in those books as much as possible.  I'm not very good at it, though.  *sheepish grin*

Are you a paper or DE user?
DE now.  Started with paper.  I didn't think I'd like it - but - I LOVE IT!!!  Especially now that I'm - ahem - advanced in my age.  I love being able to magnify my teacher's notes during discussions!

I don't actually print up much, and I thought I would.  But keep in mind, I'm not a big highlighter, so you might want to print up the notes and mark 'em up for discussion. Other than that, DE rocks!

When do your kids start Dialectic level work?
Usually after reminders, prodding, poking, and hot cocoa. . . . .

Oh, wait, wrong answer.

It depends on the kid.  For some, 5th, for others, 6th.  This year I put my 5th grader on D level  - and it was probably too early.  But honestly, I didn't feel like she was being challenged enough on the UG level, and it was easier for me to put her with her older sister and have a little modeling of higher-level work.  It's been kinda painful, but I think overall good.  A good rule of thumb is once they approach puberty, and start the very fun stage of arguing, debating, and asking why to everything - they're ready for dialectic work.

How do you determine which level your children should be on each year?
Ah, this goes along with the previous question.  Actually, I let age/grade be my guide.  My kids are academically either on par or above grade level (and I'm not bragging - or I hope I'm not! - it's just what the Lord has given to us).  So I use this as my guide:  K-2 Lower Grammar, 3-5 Upper Grammar, 6-8 Dialectic, 9-12 Rhetoric.  Except this year I didn't.  Hm.  Maybe explains why I've been so frustrated with one of the Dialectic Duo.  I should probably start reading my own blog posts.

What do you use for writing?
Yes, I am a rare bird that uses Writing Aids.  I'll be blogging about that soon, I hope.  I have this strange, negative reaction to a lot of writing programs - kind of like nails on a chalkboard.  Writing Aids doesn't make me want to pull my hair out or cringe over formulaic instruction.  It's not for everyone, though - not by a long shot.  More details to come!

What's your favorite lapbook source?
I love the kits from Lampstand Press!  They are sanity savers, especially the ones that are already printed and in a kit for you!

How do you handle weeks when other children get behind due to other commitments?
Awesome question!!!  We actually had that happen last year - my son went on a major Boy Scout trip right in the middle of the spring semester.  The nerve!  I just arranged for him to double up and catch up on his own schedule, so for a few weeks we were NOT all on the same topic.  Oh, well.  We survived. 

Sometimes at the end of the semester, I'm caught with too many week-plans and not enough time to finish.  I have been known to double up in May, and just breeze through the end of the material.  For most levels, the last week of the Year Plan is a little lighter, so it's not too hard to do.

Why is discussion so important?  Can't they just write the answers to the questions?

Ok, well, they can.  But.  Why are you homeschooling your kids?  It's not just to pull a Rumplestiltskin on them - you know, "Go take these books into your room and spin them into an education!"

The heart of homeschooling is the heart of your kid.  TOG gives you the opportunity to hear their heart, and to pour into their lives.  By discussing, you can communicate your excitement about the topic, lead them to conclusions, help them synthesize information, and wrestle with important ideas together.

Still not sure you can handle it?  Lampstand Press sells an amazing DVD called "Leading Socratic Discussions" that not only explains the process, but shows you moms having discussions with their students - both one-on-one and in a group.  (And as a side bonus, it has some great applications to parenting, not just your school work!)

Hope that helps!  Truthfully, I'm getting a cold, and my brain's a little fuzzy :)  I'm happy to answer more questions or clarify - just pop a note in the comment box!  Or if you have a better answer than mine (which you probably do!) put that in the comments as well.  I might even ask you to be a guest blogger if my cold gets worse. . . . .

Next up - probably after Easter - how I organize Tapestry.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tapestry of Grace Part Four: Grammar Students

These days, you just say the word, "Grammar Student" and I start grinning.  This is why. . . . . . .


The last of the bunch.  The tagalong.  4th daughter in a family of 5 children.  The family mascot.  Our unique, wonderful, funny, interesting. . . . . 

Oh.  Wait.  Y'all were wanting me to talk about TOG.  Sorry. . . . 

But what I just wrote actually IS pertinent.  See, right now, my grammar girl's position in the family has everything to do with her experience in Tapestry.  When you do a week-plan with a grammar student who is the last in a large family, it will look different than a week-plan with a grammar student who is your oldest.  And that's ok!  Remember - don't compare your family to mine.  I just want to offer you a glimpse into what a grammar student's week can look like.  As they say, "Your Mileage Might Vary".

Let's take this in two parts, shall we?

Part One -  What I "Used" to do with Grammar Students, and What I "Wish" I had time to do Right Now:

Day One:  Have a set-up meeting to look at the goals and books for the week.
Day Two:  Start Reading - together - History books.  Go over vocabulary words, and make a note of what words the student has never heard.  Assign vocabulary words for handwriting practice.  (I never have had them write out definitions.  Probably my bad.)
Day Three:  Continue reading history books, mostly the "Core" selections.  Day Three is usually Map Day, so we'll mark maps and talk about what has happened so far in history - informally, not using the Socratic method ;)  
Day Three is also the day I'd choose to read the Literature selection to a younger, Lower Grammar student who is not reading confidently.  (Although, it could be any day of the week, as it usually takes only one reading session)
Day Four:  Finish reading History books; add in an In-Depth selection if desired.  Start hands-on project if it will be an involved project.
Day Five:  Hands-on day!  Choose one or two projects, complete during History time.  Students also complete their Literature "Activity Page" (affectionately known as their "SAP") this day.  
A shot of a Lower Grammar SAP.  Focus:  summarizing information in her stories.

Part Two -  This Year's Reality:

Day One:  Have a set-up meeting to look at topic & books for the week.  Darling Grammar Girl picks out a hands-on activity from the list on the Student Pages, then sighs, "But we probably won't get to it, right Mom?"
Day Two:  Read History books together.  Snuggled.  On my favorite chair.  Under a blanket. 
Day Three:  Read more history books together.  Snuggled.  On my favorite chair.  Under a blanket.  Usually, we'll work on her Lapbook together, completing 1 or 2 books.
Day Four:  Supposed to be hands-on day.  But - like she said - we usually don't get to it.  I really want to improve this next year!!!
Day Five:  This is discussion day for her older siblings.  We try to finish our week's lapbooks.  She usually wanders in to our discussions (it's the hot cocoa, I swear!) and makes some utterly funny, insightful, and cute comment.  Love that.

So.  There you have it.  A not-so-glamorous look at my Grammar week!  But before I go, let me just leave you with two things:

Lapbooks.  I love 'em.  I used to love creating them, designing them - but now, I love even more the Lapbook Kits!!!  Here's a shot of one of them in action:

 She had a lapbook about MLK Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.  She was supposed to copy the phrases and glue them down, but I actually scrambled them for her and had her rearrange them in the correct order.  Worked better for us that way.

I'll have to add a picture of the finished product, but we really do enjoy these.  They're nice for showing grandparents, too!  (I should probably explain these more, but my post is already getting long!)

Tapestry Teacher Training Videos.  You know on Facebook, how you have those times when you wish there was a "Super Like" button?  That's how I feel about these videos.  I mean, they're amazing.  Encouraging, informative. . . . you really, REALLY need to watch these.  And look!  Yay, me - I figured out how to embed a couple!!!!

Tapestry of Grace | Grammar Level Overview from Tapestry of Grace on Vimeo.

 You think that one is good?  Listen to me people. Watch this next one.  Right. Now.  Then get your friends, and make them watch it.  Best. Homeschooling. Encouragement. Ever.

You won't regret it.  I promise.

Tapestry of Grace | Spiritual Encouragment for Homeschooling from Tapestry of Grace on Vimeo.

I just listened to it again.  It's that good.  Don't you think???

Thanks for listening.  Next in the series:  How I Organize Tapestry.  Sick of me yet??? :)


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Sentiments: Washing Machine Theology

You know, there's nothing that strikes terror into the heart of the mom of 5 like a puddle under the floor of the washing machine.

Visions of unwashed laundry mountains flashed before my eyes. . . . I was convinced  (convinced I tell you!) that our washing machine had breathed its last.  Fighting back waves of panic, I started surfing the local big box retailers' websites, pricing new machines.  The choices were overwhelming; top-loader, front-loader, energy star compliant, high-efficiency, eco-friendly.  Which one was right for our family?  How in the world was I ever to choose?

Thankfully, I didn't have to make that decision - the puddle was a result of a faulty plumbing issue.   But I was reminded of this moment because of a comment a friend of mine made at dinner the other night.  "You once told me," she quipped, "that mothers are like washing machines. . . you have to know your capacity!"

The idea was not original to me, although I'd love to claim that moment of brilliance as my own.  But it's one I've shared over and over again with many a friend and mother - truthfully, usually a homeschooling mother - when the beast named Comparison rears its ugly head.

You know the one.  You've seen her, heard about her, read her blog, or heard her speak at a homeschooling convention. She's the mother who seems to Have It All Together.  She rises while it's still dark, runs 4 miles, has incredible devotions, and then teaches her 9 kids from lesson plans she made up herself while grinding her own wheat for bread and keeping her house spotlessly clean.  Her children are obedient, creative, and beautiful.  Her husband adores her, has a successful job, and brings her flowers "just because".  She's crafty, she's kind, she runs a home-based business, she ministers to orphans. . . . . . you name it, she does it.  And does it well.

And you sink in your shoes, ashamed and inadequate, measuring yourself by a yardstick that will do nothing but throw your own woeful shortcomings back in your face. 

But then . . .then you hear a voice. . . . . . the voice of Jesus. . . . .

"If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?
You follow Me!"  (John 21:22)

Jesus was speaking to Peter; good old Peter, the one I can relate to, who just blurts out whatever he's thinking.  He's comparing himself to "the disciple that Jesus loved" (John), and asking what John's future will hold.  Apparently, the Comparison Beast is not new, nor even claimed exclusively by homeschooling mothers! (I don't think Peter even owned a denim jumper. . . . a little homeschool mom humor there for ya!)

But what was Jesus saying, and what can we take away, store in our heart for our times of need?  In my mind, I imagine something like this:

"Peter.  Have you not learned?  Have you not learned to keep your eyes on Me?  Not on the waves, not on the sword, not on other disciples, but on Me?"

And is that not what Jesus is calling us to as well?  Dear sisters in Christ, is that not our challenge?

Keep our eyes on Jesus.  Not on our circumstances, not on our curriculum, not on our husband or our children or our careers or our homemaking. . . . . .

But on Jesus.

Know your capacity.  Know what God has called you to.  And stay true to that calling.

To go back to the washing machine analogy.  Some of us are standard washers. Others can handle a king-sized comforter with room to spare.  Still others are apartment-sized compact machines. 

Know your capacity.  Know what God has called you to.  And stay true to that calling.  Not anyone else's. . . . . yours.

And it's okay, dear ones.  It's okay that you can't do it all, and do it all perfectly.  Jesus loves you.  He died for you.  Your worth does not rest in who you are, but in Whose you are.  

Keep your eyes on Jesus.  His grace is sufficient.  His love is endless.  And He - He alone - is worthy.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tapestry of Grace Part Three: Dialectic Delights!

Ah, the middle school years.  Gotta love 'em!  We're starting our fourth middle schooler this year, and I have to say for energy, drama, and exuberance you can't beat this stage.  And God has blessed us with FOUR count 'em, FOUR girls. . . . you moms know I don't need to say any more :)

Anywho.  This was about Tapestry.

Here is my Dynamic Dialectic Duo, in all their Discussion glory:

(Note the ever-present mugs of hot cocoa.  I think that's what my kids will remember about homeschooling.  Hot cocoa.  And we live in ALABAMA, people!)

In theory, my dialectic girls work in the same way as my rhetoric son.  Answer questions all week, read on your own, be prepared for discussion Monday afternoon.

Note the crucial words:  "In Theory"

Here's how it plays out in my house right now:

On Tuesday, we have our set-up meeting in the afternoon.  On Tuesday morning, while I'm teaching at a local co-op, my 7th grader takes the Accountability and Thinking questions and types them into a word processing document.  She then prints two copies for her and her sister to use as worksheets to answer questions.  (Mommy Trick:  I used to print these up for the kids.  Then I asked them to take over that responsibility.  Delegation, my friends, is a beautiful thing.)  During the set-up meeting, we go over what books they are to read, and I try to walk through the questions with them.

Here would be a good place to explain the difference between Accountability and Thinking questions; this is a question I'm asked fairly frequently!

• The Accountability questions are those that my girls in theory be able to answer on their own.  (Again, note the crucial words:  "in theory")  These are generally factually-based questions; "Who was the president? What were the most important battles in the war?  Who did it impact?"  I require that they write answers to those accountability questions.

•The Thinking questions are more difficult, and require more inference and drawing conclusions; "What was the relationship between x and y? Why did president x think this was a good idea?  What would you have thought of this event, if you lived then?"  I typically don't require written-out answers, but encourage the girls to jot phrases or ideas down on their pages.

On Monday after lunch, we sit down for our discussion time; my Tapestry "week" runs Tuesday through Monday, which I explained in an earlier post.   My dialectic discussion takes around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on our topics.  The girls are eager, interested, and prepared for a meaningful, educational, interesting look at our topics of the week. . . .

All Together Now. . . . "In Theory"!!!

The theory is that it works smoothly and seamlessly.  The reality is that - well - my younger student struggles with being prepared.  The theory is easier for me and plays into my idol of the stress-free life; the reality is that God has given me these opportunities to teach, train, and encourage my daughter - and to - ahem - work on my own sanctification in the process!

 It's so easy to forget the learning curve - when you look at your motivated and responsible 7th grader, reading, answering, staying on track - and remember that she once struggled, had to be guided, encouraged, loved, and helped along the road.  So I pray for a calm spirit, for love, for patience, and for wisdom. . . . . . . . and here is what has helped.

At the beginning of the year (August-September), I definitely expected too much from her.   After 2 or 3 weeks of being unprepared for discussions, I realized I needed to sit down with her, and help her break down her readings for the week.   For a month or so, we talked through her questions,

"So, these questions have to do with Civil Rights.  Which book do you think might have the most information?  What day would you like to read that book?"

"Here are questions about President Kennedy.  Where would we find that?  How many pages do you have to read on Wednesday to cover that book?"

And so on.  Helping her think about how to find the information, rather than feeding it to her.

And to be honest, she's still not there.  About 3 weeks ago, she AGAIN came unprepared.  I dismissed her older sister, and she & I sat at the table for an hour, as I gave her a "supervised study hall" while she looked for work.  It was tough, but we perservered.  Her consequence was that we had her discussion the next afternoon, during a time she had regularly scheduled a "playdate" with a friend.

She's getting better.  And so am I!  At realizing that this homeschooling journey is not entirely about education, but it's about the relationships we have with each other, and how we lean on Jesus.  The middle school years are a crucial time to connect, in so many ways - and Tapestry helps me to do just that.

Thanks for listening and reading, everyone!  Hope this gives you a little glimmer of how I approach TOG with my Dialectic age students.  Next up - Grammar Stage!  And remember, please leave a comment if you have a question you'd like answered. . . .I'm saving a few of them, and will hit questions in another post.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Restorative Rest

It's taken me almost 7 years, but I think I finally understand why the entire town of Birmingham shuts down during one week in March. . . . . .

It's for moments like these. . . . .


Dancing for joy in the waves. . . . . 

Making memories as a family. . . . 

Sharing light-hearted moments. . . . 

Jane Austen-esque headwear. . . . 

And a love for God's creation.

Enjoying a little rest this week.  It is restoring our souls.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tapestry of Grace: Part Two - Rhetoric Level

Sometimes when I sit to grade papers, I start with my high school student's work - because I know if I start with the little ones and work my way up in age order, I'll run out of steam before I get done!

(Remember:  Please leave a comment if you have a question about Tapestry that you'd like me to answer!  I'll try my best!)

I've decided that the next blog post in my Tapestry "series" should work in the same way.  I've seen a few great posts about TOG used with Grammar students, but fewer with Rhetoric & Dialectic students.*  And for me?  The way TOG works for my older kids is the. best. part.  Let me 'splain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up. . . . . .

I found Tapestry of Grace when this guy here was in 5th grade.  My oldest, then a 9th grader, was getting "lost in the shuffle" of a house full of younger kids.  (We had 9th, 5th, 3rd, 1st, and a 2 year old.  Wow.  That makes me tired just TYPING that!)  She would do her work, turn it in, go on about her merry way, all the while I was drowning in a pile of little people and wishing I had more time to devote to hearing her heart and give her a good, solid, Biblical education. 

Tapestry - for our family - fit the bill.  Because all the kids were studying the same topic, I had less prep work.  And, truthfully?  Reading those Lower Grammar books to my younger ones WAS my prep work for high school discussions, some weeks!  (Shh. . .y'all, don't tell Marcia Somerville!  I mean, the teacher's notes are amazing and wonderful, but some weeks I had to read with my little people and wing it!  And you know what?  God still worked, and He still used my inadequacy!)

Now, I could let my high school student study all week long, learn independent study skills, and know - KNOW - that I would be able to interact with her in a concentrated, rich, deep, excellent discussion session during the week.  She was now being held accountable to me, and we enjoyed four wonderful years of discussing our way through history.**

This year, our high school discussions often look like this:

Yes, it's true.  Monday afternoons, you can find me and The Boy stretched out on living room sofas, plowing our way through God's sovereignty in the face of Stalin & Hitler, the Civil Rights movement, hippies, and whatever else Year 4 throws at us.  I'm so thankful that I have the time to hear his heart, and shape his worldview.   And because the whole family is on the same topic each week, we have some really engaging discussions around the dinner table - even the 7-year old joins in!  I love that the Lord uses Tapestry to knit our hearts together.

A few more things to keep in mind as you are thinking about using Tapestry with older students:

First:  Tapestry offers amazing, FREE help on the Loom portion of the website in terms of understanding credits and planning your high schoolers' course work.  For those of you staring down the big, dark, scary barrel of the "Homeschool High School Tunnel" - I highly recommend "Mapping High School" found on this page.  It is a very thorough, uncomplicated, easily understandable look at how to plan a course of study.

Second:  I was - ahem - a skeptic about the whole "4-year cycle" concept.  When my son approached 9th grade, I was very concerned about his transition to Rhetoric level work.  Then - lo and behold! - we had our first discussion, and he REMEMBERED things from his previous Tapestry rotation!  Wow!  It has really surprised me. . . . and pleasantly so.

Third:  Tapestry offers online classes - and they are amazing.  As I looked at our year's schedule, I realized that I just couldn't do it all.  And with gas prices rising, and time limited, I couldn't commit to driving my son to a co-op each week.  I also didn't want to give up the wonderful history discussions we were having, or have to change my curriculum altogether.  My son ended up taking a Rhetoric Literature class this year - he logs in on Friday mornings, and enjoys discussion sessions with a group of students from all around the country and a very gifted teacher.  It has been one of the highlights of his school year!

Finally:  I just want to add a personal note.  You can do this.  It is a joy, a blessing, and a privilege to be able to spend these hours and days with our high school students.  These are the best years!  It has been a wonder - and a source of praise to God - to see these amazing people grow and develop a heart to love and serve Him.  God has definitely used Tapestry of Grace in our home for His glory.

It's been a wonderful, humbling, amazing thing.

Next stop?  Tapestry with the Dialectic Duo!  Stay tuned. . . . . . 

*For this discussion, Rhetoric is 9th-12th grade; Dialectic is about 5th-8th grade.
**My oldest daughter is a freshman at a local Christian liberal arts school.  She is a part of their honors program, which is a four-semester redo of the Tapestry Rotation!   Here's her very collegiate quote: "Tapestry gave me a strong historical and biblical framework in which to place the events & ideas of our complicated world  And it provided the rigorous education to help me succeed in the Honors program and be a straight-A student (at least for right now!!)"  Yeah, I solicited that - but I did NOT tell her what to say :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tapestry of Grace, Part One: How it Works for Us

In this long, long homeschooling journey I'm on. . . . 14 years down, another 11 to go. . . .I have seen a lot of curricula come and go.  (Mostly Latin.  And mostly because . . . . . oh, wait.  That's another post.)

Happily, there is one curriculum that has been a part of our journey for 5 years now:  Tapestry of Grace.

For the uninitiated (and yes, this is lifted right off their website!):  "An award-winning homeschool curriculum: a plan of study that helps parents provide a Christian, classical education using a guided unit study approach, with the history of the world as the core organizational theme. From Grades K–12, all students cycle through world history every four years, with all ages studying the same slice of history each week, each at their own learning level. Detailed lesson plans and discussion outlines enable parents to be their children’s primary teachers and mentors and shape their students’ biblical worldviews."  (Thanks, Lampstand. . you say it better than I can!)

For the initiated, who wonder "How In the World I Do It":  Tapestry of Grace is a comprehensive curriculum that I can use with my crazy, insane life.  It provides unity for our family, a great education for our kids, and the opportunity for me to sit, interact, and think deeply with my older kids while not neglecting the "fun quotient" of my littles.

This post is mainly for my homeschooling mama friends out there. . . just to provide a sneak peek at the nuts-and-bolt of "How I Make Tapestry Work" for our family.

Before I start, though, there are two things you should know about me.

First:  I have 4 kids at home:  10th grade (Rhetoric); 7th grade (Dialectic); 5th grade (Dialectic/Upper Grammar); and 1st grade (Lower Grammar).  That means that I'm planning out all 4 of the learning levels that TOG offers.

Second:  Our family is in a hard season right now, and I work out of the home 2 mornings and 4 afternoons a week.  So my time to really "work" TOG is limited, much more so than it has ever been before.  This "look" at our TOG life reflects just that.  I'm not doing half of what I'd like, and you'll see that as I write.  But Even So. . .TOG is allowing me to educate and disciple my children; for that, I am extremely thankful.

So here we go:

We run our TOG week-plans from Tuesday afternoons to Monday afternoons.  I work Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so this allows my older kids to work independently during the time I'm not available.  It gives them the weekend to catch up on their reading, if they need to.  And - honestly?  By scheduling our discussions on Monday afternoons, I have ENERGY to discuss and enjoy them.  We used to discuss on Fridays, and I was often just. too. tired. to be effective.  

Tuesday after lunch, the whole crowd gathers around the dining-room table:

At this point, they start begging for me to make hot cocoa for them to drink while we have our set-up meeting.  Today, I did not cave.  Note the ever-present glass of sweet tea next to my Mac, however! ;)

But I digress.

Each student gets a set of "pages" for the week; they get a reading list of books, an "at-a-glance" sheet of words and people and dates to know, worksheets (called "Student Activity Pages") to go along with their reading, and writing assignments.  I have each week's student pages filed and ready to go in color-coordinating folders.  ('Cause I'm kind of a geek about color-coordinating things)

They file their papers, and I read the "General Information Page" to all of them.  Yup, all of them.  This page gives them some basic, background information about what they will be learning for the week.  What does my 7-year old do during this time?  A-ha!  Glad you asked. . . .

I give her something to look for in her sheet.  A president's name, a country. . .this week, she was circling proper nouns.

After reading through the information, I go through each child's list of reading - what books, how many pages.  At first, this took FOREVER!  We move more quickly, now that they have the general idea.  Here's what my 5th grader's Resources page looks like, after she's marked her own resources:

She's marking the Upper Grammar resources for this week; note the blue boxes.

Next we go over Writing assignments, and then my 7-year old gets to pick an Activity (listed in her Student Pages - trust me, I'm too busy to think up my own activities!) for the week.

This week, she saw, "Make a Spacesuit".  Guess who's going to Home Depot for dryer venting.  Yup.  That'd be me.

For the rest of the week, this is basically how our schedule runs:

Tuesday Afternoon:  Set-up the week with Mom.  If time, younger ones start reading History with Mom.

Wednesday:  Older students work on their own, reading history assignments in books and answering questions (More details about how that works, tomorrow!)   Youngest reads more history with Mom and does a map. 

Thursday:   Older students continue independent work.  My two oldest keep timelines, and choose this day to fill in timeline dates together.   Youngest reads with Mom in the afternoon; usually, we start a lapbook together.  (More details about how that works, Thursday!)

Friday:  Older students finish their history reading, and make sure they've answered questions.  In an ideal world.  Doesn't usually happen.  We're working on that.  Activity day for the youngest!  (And there was much rejoicing. . . . .. )

Also, my oldest is taking a WONDERFUL online class from Lampstand Learning Center.  He has really enjoyed the interaction.  I've enjoyed the accountability, and having his Rhetoric level Literature studies taken off my very, very full plate.  (More details tomorrow!)

Monday:  Discussion day!  They've been preparing all week, today's the fun!  In the morning, my youngest wraps up her projects/lapbooks.  I usually have the Dialectic (Middle School) discussion right before lunch.  After lunch, the olders meet with me for History Discussions.    First, the dialectic Duo (my two girls) meet for about 45 minutes; then my Rhetoric son meets with me for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half.

Well.  There you have it.  That's a brief - a very brief - look at how our week is set up.

Tomorrow - Lord willing (Because, you know, I've learned to say that. . . .) - I'll continue the series exploring the benefits of using Tapestry with my older students.

*Sneek Peek*  THEY are the reason I love TOG!  I wouldn't trade those discussions for anything. . . 

Stay tuned!

And one last thing:  If you've read this far, feel free to leave in the comment section what you'd like to know about Tapestry!  I'd love to help!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Super Tuesday in the South - or - Guess Who's Coming to Church?

Yeah.  This guy.

Still trying to sort out how I feel about the whole thing - I mean, really?  It felt - I dunno - cheap or something.

Like his handlers said to him, "Where can I find the most Republican voters on a Sunday morning who are wealthy?"  And he came to our church.

I could have been fine with the whole, "Ya know, maybe he just needed a place to worship." Idea.

But then - driving down the hill - there they were.

Signs.  Political signs.

Not on the church property, but on the road leading to church property.

LOTS of them.

That turned it for me - at that point, I start thinking, "Or. . . . maybe he just was trying to shore up his base."

Sigh.  I hate thinking like that.  Politics makes me jaded.

But to Speaker Gingrich's credit - this was not an advertised campaign stop.  He didn't give a speech.  He was acknowledged at the very end of the service - our church recognizes public servants when they attend (which isn't often, but it does happen).

And - most importantly - I don't know his heart.  Can't claim to.  Hey, I don't even know my heart most of the time!  (see 2 Chronicles 6:30)  So I've decided to shelve my immediate negative reaction, and trust that God's purposes are mysterious, and His ways are good.

I think some of my reaction has to do with my own northern upbringing - where you would almost NEVER see a politician in a church.   But as my friend Laura posted on facebook today,
I'm certain that somewhere there has to be a law that reads, "All televised campaign ads in the proud state of Alabama must include clips of a church, a dog, and a rifle. A hymn or spiritual playing as background music is encouraged, but not required."
And a farm.  Apparently, all politicians in Alabama grew up on a farm.

I mean, seriously?  This was a vintage spot from 2 years ago.  This is not a spoof.  Really.

There is probably no point to this post.  Just my political ramblings.  Which make very little sense.

I'd better stick to recipes and homeschooling.  Safer territory.

But what I do know?  On Sunday, Speaker Gingrich and his 5 best friends (aka Secret Service) heard the gospel this past Sunday.  Preached loudly, clearly, and without fear of man.  For that, I am thankful.

Because really - it's all about keeping the main thing the main thing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Sentiments: On the Main Thing

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  
 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—  
if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.  
1 Peter 2:1-3, ESV

Challenging, convicting, wonderful message this morning in our Sunday School Class.

The main text was Galatians chapter one, the grace upon grace that God has poured out on us through His Son, the glorious gospel that He has given to us.  In vs. 6-7, Paul is astonished that anyone can be attracted to anything other than the grace of God.  We are not saved by the gospel plus any other doctrine. . . . . .we are saved by the gospel.  The pure milk of the gospel.

Oh, how I need to hear that.  How I need to remember that.  How I need to live that.

This is the land, you know, of churches that split over paedocommunion or credocommunion, over eschatology, over family-integrated vs. non-family integrated,  contemporary vs. traditional.  You name it, we'll divide ourselves about it.

How sad.

And while I'm still - personally - wrestling through the whole concept of "When is a doctrinal difference important enough to leave a church" - today was a strong, needed reminder.

Look at 1 Corinthians, chapter 1.  After a discussing believers quarreling over baptism, Paul writes:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

What is Paul preaching?  The gospel.  The power of the cross of Christ.  What was Paul's main thing?  Preaching the gospel.  All the time.  Everywhere.  To all people.

Oh, that my heart would beat to such a tune.  So tonight I am begging - no pleading - that the Lord would cause to grow in me such a desire for the gospel, that I could truly be satisfied with nothing else.

That I would taste - and see - that the Lord is good.

And keep His glorious gospel of grace the main thing.

That, I think, would be enough.