Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 4/23/15 - Springtime Hikes

This week we are really thankful for Springtime hikes. This past Saturday we spent almost six hours enjoying one of our favorite State Parks with friends. The weather was beautiful, and it even got up to 78 degrees. On Tuesday evening, we went on another hike at our local State Park with a different group of friends. It was cooler, but still a wonderful evening for hiking. Bluebells, Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Dutchmen's Breeches... so many wonderful wildflowers to see on a Springtime hike!

Springtime hikes, wildflowers

This morning it felt more like winter again when we woke up to 35 degrees. Those times we've spent recently hiking have reminded us that Spring really is here, even when it doesn't feel like it. God has promised that the seasons will continue. We're looking forward to it warming up again so we can get back out and hike again!

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 17, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits - High School 9-12, Book 2 - A Crew Review

Arlene and I have been reviewing a gem of a book from ARTistic Pursuits this Spring for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. It is their High School 9-12, Book 2: Color and Composition, written by Brenda Ellis. I can tell Arlene has been enjoying using the book, because besides the actual lessons, I've found her doing extra watercolor paintings in her free time. This High School level book teaches about both the color wheel, and the composition of a picture through studying great art and the use of basic watercolors. Brenda Ellis is a Master Artist who has separated the knowledge gained from a lifetime of painting into manageable sized chunks of learning for your art student.

ARTistic Pursuits, art curriculum

The sixteen units in this book can be adapted to either a one-year/ twice a week or one-semester/ four times a week schedule. The four parts of each Unit include 1- Vocabulary and Creative Exercise, 2-Art Appreciation, 3- Technique, and 4- Application (project lesson.)

Begin at the beginning. Before your student jumps into the lessons, read the Getting Started pages together. They cover what the parents will want to know about content and scheduling, as well as the things students will want to learn about color. The absolutely MOST important part of these pages is page 5, where your student will learn about "The Tools of Watercolor." The first and most lasting lesson? Brush Care. Why? Because quality water color brushes are an investment that can be squandered upon the first use, or when well-treated can last for years. This page also gives instruction on taping your watercolor paper and arranging your other supplies.

ARTistic Pursuits, art curriculum

Once your student has read the intro, it is time to dive into the first unit. Unit one teaches the true basics of using watercolors. The four lessons in Unit One should not be hurried through. Repeat the assignments for lessons 2-4 as many times as are needed for the student to relax while using watercolors. If your student feels overwhelmed by this new medium of watercolors, have them cut their watercolor paper in half and work with a smaller area to paint. Getting comfortable with their tools in this first unit should help a lot towards future success in their assignments and enjoyment of the process of painting. As your student progresses through the units, they will learn a lot about hue (tinting, shading, mixing,) color and edges, line and texture, balance, rhythm, viewpoint and emphasis.

ARTistic Pursuits, art curriculum

The basic watercolor supplies needed for this course are 4 paint colors (the primary 3... plus black,) 3 brushes, watercolor paper, masking or artist tape, tracing paper, and liquid masking fluid. One of the beauties of using ARTistic Pursuits' High School books is the inclusion of Art History into every unit. Students are taught how to observe techniques used by famous artists in the second lesson of every unit.

Each of the units builds upon the previous techniques taught, and then ends with a "LOOK BACK!" section that has the student evaluating how they did on one or two key points from that lesson. By truthfully answering the LOOK BACK! questions, the students can see if they are following the instructions and techniques that should be learned by the end of each unit. If they find themselves answering "no" to any of these questions, they should probably repeat the assignments in that unit.

Arlene was able to work on her assignments without any assistance from me other than the trip to go purchase watercolor paper. We already had all of the other supplies she needed, thanks to my Mom letting me raid the drawers where my Dad kept his painting supplies when he was still alive. These lessons are thorough, but not overwhelming, in what is presented each day. I knew Arlene had been doing her work because I kept finding small watercolor paintings around the house!

Reading through the book, I found myself reminded over and over of my own art classes and the many outstanding instructors I was blessed to learn from. If you choose this art book for your High School student, know that they will be blessed to learn from a quality instructor in Brenda Ellis. My own Dad was an accomplished artist, and many of the techniques Mrs. Ellis teaches sounded just like the lessons I received from my Dad.

ARTistic Pursuits, art curriculum

From Arlene (almost 15): I liked that there was something to do for each lesson. Sometimes it was mixing colors, sometimes sketching, but mostly painting. Make sure you learn to tape your paper evenly, or it will look lopsided when the paint dries and you remove the tape. 

We give this book an A+! It not only includes quality, detailed instruction on using watercolors, it also includes what many books do not - encouragement to try something on your own. Unit 16 is  Developing Original Art. This unit can instill confidence to strike out on your own and try something new. Maybe your student really wants to paint cars or animals, not just trees and flowers. This final unit prepares them for painting after this art course is over. High School 9-12, Book 2: Color and Composition is a Non-consumable, comb-bound, full-color book that currently retails for $47.95. What a great price for such a quality resource!

Throughout the book are quotes from artists both past and present. My favorite one is in Unit 5. "I would advise young artists to paint as they can, as long as they can, without being afraid of painting badly." -Claude Monet

To read more about the various levels offered by ARTistic Pursuits, click the banner below.

ARTistic Pursuits Review

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 4/16/15 - Grace

There are so many things to be thankful for this week. God has met our needs abundantly, showing Himself faithful in so many ways. The biggest thing is still the main thing - God's grace. Without grace I would be lost, helpless, alone and confused. Because of grace I have been found, I have a helper in the Holy Spirit, I am never alone, and not often confused.

We sing about grace a lot. Just the thought of grace can overwhelm us. How would God see us and want to forgive us of our grievous sins? Only through grace. How could Christ come and live a sinless life, yet die on the cross? Only through grace. How could a wretch like me be saved? Only through grace.

I see grace surrounding me and I know that without Christ I would still be lost in my sins. I see grace surrounding me and it makes my heart sing! 

I am thankful for grace!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Real Life Homeschool - The High School Years - Part 2

The curious thing about having High Schoolers is that they have their own goals. While Kurt and I as parents still want to be a large influence in their lives, and we want them to graduate High School with a quality education, there are other things to consider each day, week, and month of this journey.

The biggest consideration is what God wants then to do with their lives. Where is He leading them? Besides that, each girl has their own likes and dislikes, their own strengths and weaknesses to learn with and through. This makes each day a little different from the one before it and behind it on our path. In the nitty-gritty of life, each girl has a sheet with their assignments for the semester. Book titles, not chapter breakdowns. I am always trying to be available to help them work out how much needs done in each subject, yet things so often overlap that its not always easy to say where one ends and another begins. Both Emily & Arlene tend to work things in a block schedule, doing subjects like history and science only two or three times a week, but in larger chunks than in a traditional schedule. Math is probably the one subject where they need to keep working daily.

I know I could push them really hard to achieve some huge world-inspired educational goals, but that would not serve God's purpose. I believe He wants them to first and foremost learn to trust Him with the everyday details. Reading your Bible is a daily thing here. No, we don't all sit down together and have a family devotional each morning... if you're having a difficult time with this concept, because it doesn't look like your home, look back at our post about working while home educating. The girls do read their Bibles, and we talk about what they've read. We also do a lot of talking these days about all the bad examples in the Bible... people we don't want to be like. Emily has been reading Judges recently... if she thinks that's bad behavior, wait until she gets to Kings! Arlene and I more often talk about the sermon from Sunday, and how thankful we are for Christ's finished work on the cross.

How did we get to this time with High Schoolers? One day at a time. As I've gone through old photos for the posts this week, memories surfaced of so many fun, crazy, or weird things we've done. There was that one exhibit at the State Museum about hair art...

Did I organize my photos or scrapbooks this week? Nope, sorry Michele, I don't think I'll get to week 13 of organizing my photos anytime soon... unless I title it "How I didn't do any cleaning this week"-LOL! Did I enjoy looking at the pictures of the girls when they were little? Definitely! Will I continue to take photos of our girls and randomly use them for blog posts? Probably. More important is the fact that this journey of Home Education is far from over. Even after they graduate from High School, Kurt and I will keep leading this lifestyle of experiences over things. It was who we were before kids, and I'm sure it will continue once they've moved out. So yes, I DO see a small light at the end of our tunnel, it looks a little bit like Arlene's graduation, but it's still along ways off. What will God have planned for Kurt and I then? I have no idea, but I know that God will reveal it in His time. 

Wherever you are along this journey, I hope you've enjoyed this peek into the real life of our homeschool. If you're still thinking about whether or not to educate your children at home, I have one word of advice - PRAY! God has His answer for your family ready and waiting for you to ask.

Now go hug your children again!

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Indy Homeschool 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - Real Life Homeschool - The High School Years

Today we're taking a pause during this Real Life Homeschool week and reminding you to be thankful!

High School is crazy and amazing all at the same time. I'm thankful we have two wonderful daughters who are on this journey with us. High School brings a new set of challenges, and triumphs. The girls have had a lot of cool experiences, from being on the Conner Prairie spinning teams, to competing in the State Fair 4-H fashion revue. They've had two friends achieve their Eagle Scout rank, and had older friends graduate from High School. They've taken up playing Euchre, and Ultimate Frisbee with their friends. We've learned how to play tennis...well, sort of anyway.

Life goes on every single day that your children are in High School. Sometimes it can be a challenge to get the book work finished. That's why I love that our girls have become independent learners. It would be physically and mentally impossible for me to lecture them through all of  their High School classes. I wouldn't even want to try, and we have two girls, some my friends have three High School aged kids! I don't have to teach my kids for High School. Now don't get me wrong, they still do a LOT of work on their education. It's just that the role Kurt and I have changed from teacher to one of mostly encourager and financier. The girls are responsible for their education. They might need a push in the right direction for school sometimes, but they also need some guidance on how to manage their time. These are real life skills they are learning!

As they continue to mature, each girl's personality and gifting has become more apparent. They still love to do things together, but they're ok going out on their own as well. A year and a half ago they went on a weekend trip all about historic preservation - without us. Crazy scary for parents, and amazing for the girls all at the same time! Kurt took Emily canoeing, and Arlene and I went on photography hike. Sometimes, Kurt and I even go places without either girl... that's something I really couldn't fathom when they were little. Now that they're mature enough to go babysit for other people, there is a joy to be found in a little snatch here and there of alone time for this Mom. 

I'm thankful for this new stage in life, even if I am now the shortest person in our family. If you want to know more about the day-to-day of our High School journey, come back tomorrow for our last installment in Real Life Homeschool. Until then be thankful - and go hug your kids!

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Life at Rossmont 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Real Life Homeschool - Middle sized students

When they were not so young... or, how the girls got their education around the highs and lows of real life. 

When our girls were in the upper elementary and Middle School years, life came with a lot of highs and lows. When Emily got to the end of third grade, I switched jobs. It was the right choice to make at the time, but it was difficult for me to give up the all-day time with the girls. Kurt and I went to a new home educating schedule where I would work whatever shift he wasn't working. Whoever was home would work with the girls. Emily would help Arlene read the instructions if she needed them, and we did a lot of their schoolwork in the afternoons after I woke up from working overnights. Was it an ideal situation? From the standpoint of the world - no, but from God's standpoint it must have been the right choice because He blessed it tremendously.

At this point I will stop to say, not every Mom can stay home with their children, I wish we were in a position financially where I could stay home, but that is not where God has us. Please do not look down on Moms who work and home educate. I know some of the homeschooling world does look down on us, although I'm not sure why. I just know I've been there, done that for the past twelve years. It hasn't been easy, but I wouldn't give up educating our girls just because something else would be easier. My friend Liz keeps reminding me that God has me there for a purpose!  Go read Mark 8:36 again!

Real Life Homeschool

During these years, both girls got involved with 4-H. This interaction along with the fired trips organized by our local homeschool group added a whole new dimension to our lives. I only worked three days a week, so we worked around whatever we needed to in a quest to keep some normalcy in their lives, even when life was far from normal. We struggled financially. God was faithful to meet our needs, but no more. He called us to a life of giving up our own selfish desires in a quest to spend more time with the girls. It was not easy, but I'd do it all over again! 

Kurt was in a car wreck and broke his leg in August one of these years. That is something I hope we never have to do again. Our friends and families rallied around us, they supported us, they fed us, and they kept the girls for us for two weeks. Every day became an adventure for the girls as someone new would love on them and feed them. Every evening after work became another time for me to call on bills or Doctor appointments. It was not fun, I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, and Kurt was the one with the broken leg. 

I learned a lot about grace in these middle years. I learned about love covering a multitude of ugly words, bad attitudes, and other sins. I learned once again that the body of Christ in action is a beautiful thing to behold, and a wonderful comfort in the storm. I learned that I had to trust God for EVERYTHING. No one else could meet my needs, no one else could hold our family together. I think I cried more in these years than any time since the postpartum blues. 

What I learned about education is that kids are resilient. I learned that if I taught the girls one skill really well, they could continue it on their own. I learned just how much God orders our steps, and how much He protects us. Arlene was inside that car wreck with Kurt. There was a space just big enough for her between the crumpled metal and the center of the car. I knew God's angels had wrapped around her and protected her in that crash. Her injuries were minor. 

These middle years brought highs and lows to our lives. The challenges of puberty, the joys of friendship. The struggles of coming up with something to make for dinner - again, and the joy of being invited over for dinner. Life happens in all the big and small parts of our days. This was when Kurt first called me a 'sleep camel.' He said it because I would often have three or four days in a row where I'd only get four or five hours of sleep, then I'd make up for it on the weekends. 

One of the most important lessons learned in our family's education during this time had nothing to do with a book. It was a lesson about trusting God. The debate has raged for years over whether or not God will give you more than you can bear. The answer is yes. God will give you more than you can bear by yourself, in order to teach you that there is nothing that is more than He can bear you through. Whatever situation God allows in your life, He can and will equip you to go through it with Him. Don't try to do it on your own, trust His hand to guide you. 

Your children's education is not a one-shot deal. They have their whole lives to learn. Take each year, each month, each week, and each day and ask God what He wants them to learn that day. Our plans are often so small, yet His plans are so grand. Emily and Arlene not only survived these years of struggle, they learned how to thrive through difficulties. They learned how to study independently. They learned how to keep their own education moving forward, even when Mom and Dad were struggling to keep the family moving forward. They grew up from little kids into young ladies. Now when life throws a curve, they either swing or duck. They are confident that God is guiding them, even when the path is murky. I am confident that God is leading us all down each step of this journey. 

Recently I have learned that High School is crazy and amazing all at the same time... but more on that tomorrow!

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

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Treasuring Life's Blessings
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Simple Living Mama
Fried Clams and Sweet Tea
This Sweet Life
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Some Call It Natural
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Debbie's Homeschool Corner