Monday, June 30, 2014

Experience History Through Music - Diana Waring Author Bio

Tomorrow you'll get to read our review of Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music 3 book and CD set, but TODAY I want you to get to know Diana better. We have been blessed to know Diana Waring (& her husband Bill) for a couple of years, although Diana was one of my mentors long before that! I hope you enjoy learning more about Diana and I really hope you'll come back tomorrow for our review.

To start with I'll let Diana tell her own story about how the series began:
Back in 1989, after I had been struggling for about three years with homeschooling (my kids and I were ALL bored!!!), a friend suggested that I attend the state homeschool convention (in Tacoma, WA). . . In those days, the main way to learn more about homeschooling was to attend a convention—oh, how times have changed!!
The problem was I couldn't afford it. My dh was a public school band teacher, we were single income, and there simply wasn't anything extra in the budget. When I voiced that concern, my friend said, "Oh, you should teach a workshop! That way, they pay you $50, give you some mileage to get up to the convention, and you get in FREE!!" Looking at her in amazement, I asked, "What on earth would I teach????"
She pulled out the previous year's convention schedule, with its varied workshops, and handed it to me. Quickly glancing down the list, I noted that the ONLY music workshop was using classical music in the home and that there were NO history workshops. At that moment, an idea was born.
Why not teach American history through its folk music?
That was the start of twenty-five years as a homeschool speaker (yes, the convention wanted my workshop) and as a homeschool writer/ curriculum producer.

I appreciate Diana's love of music, especially since I found the easiest way for our girls to memorize anything when they were little is if it was set to music. Well, they're not little anymore, but they both still love music!
Diana has a life FULL of great stories, and she loves to share them! She has met TWO of the Von Trapp daughters, travelled much of the world, and loves to cook.

How do I know Diana loves to cook? I've been in her kitchen. There is a whole bookcase full of cookbooks. Even in a house full of bookshelves, this one stands out as prominent. Arlene said her favorite cookbook title of Diana's is "There's Pumpkin in That?!" I think Arlene wants to borrow it-LOL!

Diana also loves all sorts of music, and she plays piano for relaxation. Just in case you're wondering what else she plays, here's another snippet straight from Diana: 
In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don't you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):

I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.
Switched to oboe in 7th grade.
Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!
Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.
Learned to play recorder when I was 19. . . played it in the musical, "Godspell."
Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.
Learned to play banjo when I was 23.
But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven's 9th symphony in Indianapolis!

A couple other things about Diana, she LOVES flowers, and I'm pretty sure she is the only woman I know that loves blue glass more than I do! Diana will not only tell you a tale, she'll offer you the chance to tell your own. She loves to share a cup of tea and chat. Diana has learned the heart of relationships is spending quality time with others, and she encourages families to do things together. That's why the tagline for Diana Waring Presents (their company) is "Education That's Relational"(TM)

Bill and Diana's three children have all followed in their parents footsteps and learned to love music. Besides Diana's obvious love of music, remember that Bill was a band teacher. If you have a chance to see Diana perform - take it! She has spent much time this Spring doing short 'traveling minstrel' style shows up and down the aisles at Homeschool conventions. Bill and Diana love to sing, and if you keep up with them on Facebook, you'll often read snippets or see pictures of them singing with good friends.

Bill and Diana are both gracious and kind. Bill loves a good joke . . . but beware getting him and my husband Kurt together - you're never quite sure what corny things they'll come up with! Diana likes spinning and crocheting. Emily and Arlene enjoy seeing her two spinning wheels, and the plethora of musical instruments they own (& use!) I am pretty sure Diana has more history books than our local library, and of course they're organized by timeline era. Maybe when she eventually retires (Ha! like that's likely to EVER happen...) I'll ask her to come organize our bookshelves! 

Diana Waring is a gem. Her books encourage a love of learning, and the release of these three books and CD's will introduce her to a whole new generation of families . . . but more on those tomorrow!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - 6/26/2014 - Summer Reading

Do you have a Middle or High Schooler? Or at least a child near that age who likes to read A LOT?! We do, and *SOMETIMES* they get in trouble for not getting their chores done. . . usually because they've been reading. 

It can be a real challenge to help your 5th-young 9th graders choose what to read over the summer. There is such a tremendous growth, both physically and maturity wise that happens to our children during these Middle School years. I’ve always been open to suggestions from other parents. It can narrow down the vast sea of books to cull through.

I am thankful that Arlene (& her older sister Emily) love to read . . . but it can be a real balancing act between getting them to read quality books, getting their chores done, and still having time for outdoor summer activities. That doesn’t even include the time spent on 4-H projects-LOL!

I thought I’d just share a couple things that Arlene (just finished 8th grade) has been reading in the past couple weeks. 

Oh, and about those chores . . . encourage your children of ALL ages to get their “to do” list done in the mornings, so they can enjoy their Summer afternoons. Arlene enjoys spending her afternoon  on the front porch swing reading.

So what has Arlene been reading?

How about this one? A History of Fashion and Costume: The Twentieth Century. Inside she found one of the patterns she borrowed from my Mom! 
Arlene has been studying  how styles change for a while. For the past 2 years, she has sewn a vintage pattern for her 4-H outfit.

summer reading, middle schoolOr this gem she found at the library last week: 2nd Stories: A Hoosier photographer explores what’s upstairs, on top, and overhead. (This one is mostly pictures, but a few of them have stories to go with them. I find this fascinating for two reasons: 1- Arlene is looking at how other photographers frame their photos, and 2- she’s getting out the state map and looking up the locations!)

Here’s one sure to be a hit with your kids: MARVEL’s Volume 1 of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of OZ’ graphic novel.

Now about those High Schoolers. . .

high school summer readingIf your older/mature teens like a great story, and staying in it, you should have them check out books by Chuck Black. These are good for about 6th grade and up. Chuck has written a whole series of ‘Kingdom’ books that are an allegory of the Bible (set in the time of knights and ladies.) His newest book, Cloak of the Light is geared more towards High Schoolers, but your mature Middle Schoolers would probably enjoy it. Emily just finished it and now Arlene is reading it. Em’s description is “Deadpool from Marvel meets the Bible.”

college-prep reading, nursingEmily’s reading is a little heavier than Arlene’s. Since Em (10th/11th grade) plans to go into nursing, I got the TEAS practice book from the library, so she can try out the test and then I can help her identify which areas she needs to focus on next school year. The TEAS test for nursing is different from the SAT or ACT, but we know that practicing the TEAS test will help her with standardized testing of any kind. I’m really thankful for our library . . . but Em might tell you otherwise when she sits down to take the practice test!

public school vs home schoolingEmily is also going to read Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto. I read it a couple years ago and think it will be a solid comparison between her education, and what happens in most public schools today.

On Em's night stand, I found her Bible, a hymnal, a journal, and Anne of Ingleside.

I'm not sure Emily will get as much reading time as she likes this summer, but she'll have enough.

Throughout the summer I’m sure Arlene will also be reading some field guides, and at least one of the Anne of Green Gables series books. I’ll be thankful again when she’s reading our Betty Crocker Cookbook! Yum.

Homeschool for Free

Friday, June 20, 2014

June already ?!?

Is it really June 20th already? How did that happen? I know, yesterday was the 19th, the day before that was the 18th . . . I get how the calendar is numbered, it's just that sometimes I forget how quickly the time passes!

Yet, when I look outside, and see the ripe strawberries, the blueberries growing, and flowers on the potato plants, I KNOW it must be Summer, (or darn close!) Time marches on regardless of what we ARE or ARE NOT doing in our lives.

Some people love to stay active going and doing things away from home every day. Other people prefer to spend more time at home.

Wherever you fit on this spectrum, can I challenge us all with two things?
   1- Ask God what HE wants you to focus on each day.
   2- Be active, be productive, be contemplative, be helpful, or even be determined . . . just don't be "busy."

Being "busy" can lead us to value the checkboxes on our list over the people we are doing those things for! "Busy" demands our attention be focused on OUR list, not necessarily God's plan for our days. "Busy" means we listen to the clock, not the Holy Spirit Who should be guiding our days.

So for the rest of the summer, whether we leave home once a month, twice a week, or every single day . . . let's all choose to be something better than "busy."

Perhaps you'll want to try one of these:

be helpful
be loving
be hospitable
be industrious
be kind
be joyful
be filled with the Spirit
be available
be attentive
be productive
be active
be about your Father's business!

Here's to choosing to have a wonderful, un-busy Summer!

Blog changes

Hello out there in cyber-world! I'm guessing if you're reading this you'll have noticed I updated the blog format & colors again! LOL!

I've had some comments from friends (& readers) that the dark background was difficult for some people to read...and I course I'd like you to come back and read- often!

So I tried to choose a format that still allows me to feel like it's colorful and creative, while improving the readability level, especially for those of you catching up with us on your mobile devices!

What do you think of the new look? Leave a comment below!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thankful Thursday- 6/19/14 - Anniversaries

Today I am thankful for anniversaries. Yesterday, Kurt and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. Happy Anniversary to us. 

Praise God for His great blessings! We have seen God bless us in unimaginable ways over and over again during the past 20 years. One of God's greatest mercies has been the ability to forgive one another our faults. 

Marriage is hard work, but it is worth every bit. Learning to say "I'm Sorry" should probably be a required class before getting married. 

I hope you'll leave a comment below and tell us about an anniversary you are thankful for!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - 6/12/14 - Strawberries!

Who wouldn't be thankful for a big bowl of strawberries?!

We are blessed that this is the best part of strawberry season at our house. We are enjoying our own ripe, red strawberries.

These are the strawberries we picked last Friday...

These are the strawberries we picked yesterday...

Three whole pounds of strawberries, that's a great reason to be thankful!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - 6/5/14 - Theatre!

Last night we had the privilege of sitting in on the dress rehearsal for a local one-man show. Doug Berky makes really cool masks and people from armature and paper mache. We really enjoy watching live theatre and this show was no exception. If you live nearby, you should go see one of the shows this weekend (Thur, Fri, Sat.)

I'd love to write up a review, and I just might do that this afternoon, but for now, just know we were thankful to go to the show... and enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer schooling? Yes or no?!?

I am often asked if we "do school" in the summer. While trying not to step on anyone's toes... we don't "do school" anytime during the year. We are not a traditional textbook, sit at your desk all day kind of family. We EDUCATE our girls at home, but we're not trying to replicate a school. We use textbooks rarely, curriculum often, and the library every week. We like to provide experiences over stuff, and we spend a lot of time outdoors!

Now that I've said that, here's the answer to the question I think people are trying to ask me... It depends on the year.

Sometimes we've had a schedule all summer (like the year when Emily grasped long-division in April - we were NOT taking the summer off and starting again at square one) - one where we do math once or twice a week almost all summer. Sometimes we just have a few subjects to finish up in June, so we might plan to do schoolwork two or three mornings a week until it's completed. 

Other summers, it's all about getting 4-H projects completed, so we stick with our traditional "Memorial Day or earlier" guideline and close the books early. There were a couple summers when I needed the break, so we didn't do ANYTHING book related (except the summer reading program at the library) from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

4-H fair

4-H projects

Every summer is different, but we DO make sure the girls have a lot of down time in the summer. Especially now that they're older, they need a mental break. They also enjoy being able to focus on things that interest them. Arlene loves helping in the garden (and eating the strawberries) and Emily likes drawing miniature superhero pictures for her friends (they're really cute!)

gardening, strawberries

gardening, tomatoes

Each family needs to evaluate their children's needs before making a hard and fast decision about what to do with their summer time. I grew up going to public school and always enjoyed the summers off, well, except for weeding the garden (which I now do to relax,) and we want to enjoy time outdoors with our girls. It seems not that long ago they were little, and this Fall we'll have TWO High-schoolers!

Typically our year runs from the Tuesday after Labor Day to the second or third Friday in May. This year we set a plan to stay focused through Memorial Day because of taking time off when Kurt was sick.

So, what about this year? It's a little of both worlds. We'll be working on a few review items for The Old Schoolhouse's "Schoolhouse Review Crew," Emily will be working on Algebra, and both girls are working on their 4-H projects. But mostly- we'll be taking the summer off. Come visit us at Conner Prairie - we'll be there a lot!

Conner Prairie, tethered balloon rides, summer fun

Conner Prairie

Conner Prairie