“The way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions.” ~Alfie Kohn
“Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” ~ Arthur Koestler
“The way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions.” ~Alfie Kohn
“Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” ~ Arthur Koestler
I believe it was almost 6 years ago when I first found Jessica’s blog and started following along with her homeschool journey with her 2 girls.
We went from comments to email to phone calls to texting several times a week to meeting last year when they came here. She is one of my dearest friends and my ‘go to’ person when I need to talk about anything. Her friendship means so much to me even though we are over 1000 miles apart.
This year when they took their trip to her husband Greg’s parents house, Jess and the girls came to stay here for a couple of days. We had the best time ever. I love her and her girls (and Greg too but he stayed with his parents). Keilee adores them all and we just have so much fun!
After the initial hugs and squeals they brought their luggage inside so we would all fit in their SUV. They also came bearing gifts which we LOVE. But…the best gift of all was they brought Keilee a OLD typewriter. Jess knew she had been wanting one and Greg found one at a tag sale. Keilee was speechless and has spent many hours since their visit typing away on it.
Then we took them to Lowe Mill. On the way we stopped by Mooresville which is Alabama’s oldest incorporated town. It is also where Tom and Huck was filmed. Lowe Mill is a beautiful old textile warehouse that has been converted into an Art Entertainment center. It is the largest independent center for the arts in America with over 120 artists.
Then we came home and changed and went to dinner at world famous Big Bob Gibson’s. Afterwards we had planned to swim at their hotel pool but there was a huge lacrosse tournament in town and it was packed. So we decided to go to the Drive-In in a nearby city. Grace and Lilah had never been.
On the way the girls serenaded us with old Miley Cyrus songs. It was awesome!
It was such a great night, the girls in the back of the SUV and Jess and I sitting in chairs all watching Home under the Alabama skies.
We got home and made plans to go to our church the next morning. I was so excited about this because Jess has been watching online for several years. Unfortunately our preacher and his wife were on vacation but it was still amazing having them there. Afterwards we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch.
Then we went to Ava Maria Grotto. This is an amazing little place in Cullman, Al. From their website:
Known throughout the world as “Jerusalem in Miniature,” is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time.
Even though it was very hot, even by our Alabama standards, we had a great time.
Selfie at Ava Maria Grotto
All too quickly it was time to head back. They needed to get on the road to get back to Tennessee before dark. We had the most amazing time. They were on vacation but it was truly like a vacation to us. We crammed so much into 2 days. Yes I wish we had more time, but it was a beautiful adventure with 2 homeschool Moms that met online and their 3 amazing daughters.
Thank you Jess, Grace and Lilah for taking time to come visit us. We loved every single minute of it.
Selfie before leaving: (until next time)
Homeschool and Homeschooling Friends Rock!
“There is magic in long-distance friendships. They let you relate to other human beings in a way that goes beyond being physically together and is often more profound.” ~Diana Cortes
May went by in a flash. As they do.
May started chilly and ended rainy. But we did so much . It’s hard to put a month’s worth of activities in one post. But I am SO bad at updating my blog.
We did a lot of volunteering this past month. Keilee has always volunteered so much. Because of our awesome church she has always had so many opportunities. We volunteered this month at a place where people can come and get clothes and shoes and household items. We also volunteered serving lunch. This is an ongoing thing and we want to serve at least once a week. It seems like no matter what is going on in my life I just feel better when I am there serving others.
We also volunteered for 6 hours at Soulstock which is a HUGE 2 day Christian rock concert. We actually ran the merchandise tent for Noah Cleveland. Keilee and I met several artists and it was just an amazing day.
Katherine, my niece, graduated from high school. Now Keilee is the only grandchild still in school. Not counting college. I wish they could all go back about 10 years!!
One of our favorite things each year is the Alabama Jubilee. It is a balloon race and people come from all over the country to participate. We wake up about 5:30 and get to the park by 6:30 so we can see them take off. Seeing 60+ balloons getting blown up and then taking off is so magical.
Hiking with friends. And sword play with friends.
At an outdoor concert with friends. I love that Keilee and Emma jumped up to swing dance even though they didn’t really know how. This picture just screams ‘Joy’ to me.
Lunch at Cracker Barrel after church. Leaping in the rain. Rides in the country with the dog and the girl. Memorial day service. Cute little golf cart we both wanted!
So now it’s June. Hot days at the pool, yard sales, festivals, friends, board games, walks at night, reading aloud, laying in the hammock, sitting out on the patio watching the lightening bugs, hiking in the woods, visits from far away friends and so much more.
We can’t wait.
A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. ~James Dent
The summer night is like a perfection of thought. ~Wallace Stevens
The South is steeped in lovely traditions. Growing up here I was not really aware of it. It just was where I lived. It took some growing up and moving away to realize how lucky I am to have grown up in the South. No everything is not perfect. There are people who still think the south should have won the war among other things. But we also have people who are truly caring and kind.
When I moved to California one of the first things I noticed was that no one looked at you when you passed them on the streets. I couldn’t believe it. Here when you pass someone walking you say, “Hello” and maybe even stop and chat.
When Keilee was planning her 9th grade year we discussed doing Southern Literature. I loved it when I was in high school. It wasn’t required but I took every Literature class that was offered. My teacher was this lovely southern lady with that great old school Southern voice. My Mother talked like that. Very slowly and and with such an amazing accent.
When we begin looking for a curriculum we couldn’t find anything. So with my brother’s help, who was an English major, we made a plan.
I bought a book he recommended called “Growing Up In the South: An Anthology of Southern Literature”. The stories were full of beauty and poverty and racism and joy and heartbreak and first love and more. There was a bio before each one of the authors and Keilee researched each author and did a notebook page on each one. We read each story aloud. We looked up words we didn’t know. We Googled places mentioned and found they were all real places. One of our favorites was from “A Southern Landscape” that mentioned a church with a gold finger pointing toward heaven. We looked it up and it is a real place in Port Gibson, MS.
We spent the year in the Deep South, in cotton fields, during some of the most life changing events of the 60’s, on the Mississippi River, in old Southern mansions and so much more.
We read lovely stories by William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Maya Angelou, Flannery O’Conner, Eudora Welty and more. We even found a few authors on YouTube actually reading their stories.
We used Shmoop as a reference to so many other things. We listened to songs written about “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner. Keilee took reading comprehension tests from the same site. It is full of GREAT resources.
Each section of the book is divided into categories; “Places and Voices”, “Families”, “Southern Communities” and “Southern Stereotypes”. After each few stories she would write a report on the story she liked best of the group and how the author used words to exemplify the category is was in.
The book that was on every single book list was “To Kill A Mockingbird”. We listened to that book on audio when Keilee was 11 and she played Scout in the play. We also watched the movie. She has such an unbelievable knowledge of this book now.
We branched off and did a short study on Truman Capote. He was a beautiful writer but a tortured soul. We read autobiographies and watched YouTube videos of him speaking. We watched and read “A Christmas Memory”. It is a beautiful story about Truman Capote when he was a boy and his relationship with his aunt “Sook”. I HIGHLY recommend it if you aren’t familiar with it. We read it every Christmas. In fact this Christmas my brother recorded the story with him reading it and gave it to us. He is a wonderful reader. We read several short stories by Capote and watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and researched the background and making of it.
We also watched “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams. We listened to “Fried Green Tomatoes” by Fannie Flagg. We watched “The Help” again and listened to the audio book.
I found a video on YouTube that an Advanced English high school teacher posted. It was a summary of what her students would be reading in a semester. It was 3 short stories! I couldn’t believe it. We probably read 40-50 stories and watched several movies and listened to several audio books.
I feel like Keilee now has a great background in Southern Literature. We are forever making references to things we see or hear and the stories we read. These stories and characters are a part of her now. They are in her blood. Just like the magnolias and the smells of Alabama dirt and the accents and the smell of rain falling on fall leaves and the hot summer nights filled with lightening bugs. And no matter where she ends up, she will always have those memories.
“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy…and no money to buy it with.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“I’ve barely said five words to you. What indication could you possibly have that I am a Yankee?”
“Well, we could start with the words ‘what indication.’ Someone from south of the Mason-Dixon would have said, ‘Who the hell are you calling a Yankee?’ Then we would have fought.” ― Jana Deleon
“The food in the South is as important as food anywhere because it defines a person’s culture.” ― Fannie Flagg
Keilee, as many little girls, grew up on Disney films. Time after time she would watch The Little Mermaid and Cinderella. For years the most repeated words I heard from her was “Rewind it please”. We had all the movies on VHS at the time.
She would dress up in her Princess dresses and high heel shoes and want to wear them everywhere. There are so many times she wore them to the grocery store and the sound of them ‘clicking’ on the grocery floor is a memory I will never forget.
When she was 3 she dressed up as a Princess for Halloween. It was a huge, itchy outfit. After going to a Halloween party we were going to go trick or treating and she wanted to go home and change clothes. (I had a backup Pirate costume because I knew how uncomfortable the outfit and shoes were) She said to me in her little 3 year old voice, “It’s tough work being a Princess Mommy”.
Now, 12 years later, she is still playing Princess dress up. This group that she is a part of has been such a perfect fit for her. It combines her love of all things Disney Princess with her love for acting.
She has had 3 birthday parties that I don’t have pictures of. Here is one of her coming back to the car afterwards though.
They set up a booth at a local Market Day. Keilee played Cinderella. Even though she loves Elsa and plays her the most, she loves being Cinderella more.
They got a call from an aunt whose twin 3 year old nieces and their families had lost everything in a fire. They were most upset about their Elsa dresses. The aunt bought them new ones and wanted to know if “Elsa” and “Anna” would surprise them with the dresses. I love that they donate their time when there isn’t any monetary reward.
Then they went to 3rd Friday. They did this as promotion for their business. It is downtown and we have always gone. I love the looks on little girls faces. And I love to watch Keilee interact with them. There was also this little boy who acted so shy but made his Dad follow them up and down the streets. When any of them turned around he would hide behind his Dad. It was so cute. Oh and Keilee found a dog to pet. Keilee ALWAYS finds a dog to pet, even as Elsa.
They also have gone to the mall to walk around. On a Friday night. It was the coolest thing. Several “big” girls asked to pose in pictures. And several boys! Teenage boys!! One little girl asked Keilee is she was the real Elsa. When Keilee said yes she jerked on her hair. Thankfully Keilee is able to use her real hair!
May is chocked full of events. Markets and birthday parties and library read alouds. Keilee has tons of ideas and even though she is the youngest she is always calling or texting the ‘main’ girl to share ideas.
This is such a perfect thing for her and I am so glad she found this. It requires so much time and organization and commitment. And she is more than willing to do it all. It is so special to see the little girls eyes light up when they see her. To make them believe in the magic that is their favorite Princess come to life. She always says to me, “I would have loved to see my favorite Princess when I was little”.
“And yet, through it all, Cinderella remained ever gentle and kind, for with each dawn she found new hope that someday her dreams of happiness would come true.” ~ Cinderella
“Whatever comes,” she said, “cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess
“But they say if you dream a thing more than once, it’s sure to come true.”~Walt Disney
“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein
Keilee had the most awesome opportunity this past weekend. She was asked to play Elsa at a March of Dimes Fundraiser. She had the best time and was hugged and sang and danced and talked and laughed with so many little girls. She is actually in her element with small children. It always amazes me to see because she is such an introvert and can only handle people in small doses. But around children she is different. She was also asked to play Elsa the next day at a 3 year old birthday party. She made $50 for one hours work. She loved that too.
This week was beautiful (well except for today. It is cold today). We spent Tuesday at the park with our homeschool group. It was a lovely day spent by the Tennessee River. Someone from our local paper was there eating lunch and saw some of the teens sword fighting and took their pictures. They were in the paper! I love what it said under the pictures of Keilee:
“Rhodes Ferry Park was the scene of a battle worthy of Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood and Romeo and Juliet, that is if Juliet was wielding a cutlass. ”
Nomad turned 5 this week. It is hard to believe we have had him 5 years. But I can barely remember a time without him. He has brought so much to our little family and turned us from a family of 2 into a family of 3.
There was also Psychology and History and creative writing. There was Art Journaling and crocheting and lots of Korean drama watching. There was CNN Student News and Curious and tons of YouTube videos.
I can hardly believe April is almost here. I measure time by my Bible App. It is the first thing I read every morning. On the 1st of each month, I always think, “Ok here is a brand new month. Please let me make something productive of it. Let me find people to bless and laughter and joy and happy”. Then I turn around and it is all of a sudden the 15th of the month or the 26th. I just can not believe how quickly time passes.
Happy weekend all,
“Behaving like a princess is work. It’s not just about looking beautiful or wearing a crown. It’s more about how you are inside.” ~Julie Andrews
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” ~Josh Billings
It finally snowed here. Really snowed!! We got between 9-10″ and as of today, Saturday, it is still here. It started Wednesday around noon and snowed until 11:00 PM.
It was magical and beautiful and something that happens so rarely here.
We went out several times Wednesday and Wednesday night took a midnight walk. I know it is so common place to so many people but to us it was just unbelievable.
Nomad had a blast too.
The first day I had to do a photo shoot with Keilee. She put on her tutu and my old black leather jacket from the 80’s. This jacket is a replica of the jacket George Michael wore in “Gotta Have Faith” and I thought I was too cool when I wore it.
Thursday was “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” day. Keilee built it all by herself with me giving her a quick “Snowman 101” class. She didn’t know you had to start with a ball and roll it.
By Friday we were both ready for it to go away but it is still here today. I love snow, and love the beauty of it but I don’t think I could stand a winter where the ground was mostly white all the time!
“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood. “~Andy Goldsworthy
“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened.” ~Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
This is year #8 of our homeschool journey. I can hardly believe at times that we started this when Keilee was barely 7. And now she is 15.
Time and time and time again the more we try to ‘check things off a list’ the unhappier she becomes. She has said to me so often lately, “Mom I have so much I want to do but I don’t have time to do it all because of school work.”
I have NEVER wanted our school to look like the school down the street or for her days to consists of checklists. But it’s a tricky thing. You see these ‘High School Requirements’ and think ‘We have to do all of these things!’
In Alabama high schoolers take 2 years of US History. 2 YEARS!! Keilee knows so much about US History. We have studied it about 3 different times. And she also retains almost everything she hears or reads (unless it’s Math). So really, what is the point of doing that just because the High School does it? She took Ancient History this year that turned into using “The History of the World in 100 Objects”. Neither of these are offered at the High School.
She did Southern Literature which also is not an option here. And has loved it so much. We have read so many amazing short stories by Southern Writers and watched plays and films. We did an entire study on Truman Capote.
Next year she wants to study the French Revolution and the Renaissance. She is obsessed with the French Revolution.
She wants to study Shakespeare, an entire year of Shakespeare.
Should I have told her no about all of these because they are not “High School Requirements”?
She is running her own business via Instagram, her Art Journal is filled with beautiful pages, and she is hard at work on a YouTube channel that combines her love of knowledge with her love of performing. She is on Chapter 29 of a novel she is writing and has written several short stories. She rehabilitated a squirrel who had his own Instagram. She has a massive notebook of serial killers because she is fascinated with Psychology and what makes people do the things they do. She has a notebook full of the events that are mentioned in Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Her Bible journal is lovely. And so much more.
Keilee is NOT the kind of kid who would ever just sit around on social media (although she does love Pinterest, she is the only person I know that actually does almost everything she pins!) or watch TV. She is always doing something.
So why shouldn’t she just do what she loves? Learning is as much a part of her as breathing. It is just what she does. Her ‘transcripts’ will never look like the kids who graduate from the High School she would have attended. But when it is all said and done her 4 years will consist of the things she loves, learning that she always remembers and experiences that could never be gotten by sitting in a classroom 7 hours a day.
And THAT, is what learning SHOULD be all about.
Mardi Gras Dog Parade, her first entry in her Learning Journal, painting a T shirt that she dyed and cut up, Mardi Gras breakfast and parade.
“It is… nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreak and ruin. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” -Albert Einstein
And one of my all time favorite quotes:
“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” ~ Beatrix Potter
One of the things I love most about homeschooling is field trips. To my knowledge high school kids or even middle school kids don’t take field trips. I know we didn’t many moons ago.
Wednesday we had a wonderful day. We started out by touring the Rosenbaum House which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Rosenbaums, Stanley and Mildred and their 4 boys, are a very interesting family. Stanley’s father immigrated from Poland to Florence, Alabama. He owned and operated 12 movie houses which was the entertainment of the day. Stanley went to Harvard at 16 and received his Masters at the University of Denver. He met his wife Mildred in NYC where she studied music. She was also a Vogue model. Stanley returned to Florence to teach English at University of North Alabama. He also spoke 5 languages fluently. They received $7500 as a wedding gift to build their first home and through acquaintances contacted Frank Lloyd Wright to design their house.
The Usonian designed house was an idea of Wright for middle income families. He wanted it to fulfill the American dream of home ownership. The house originally contained 1,540 square feet, but when the household grew to include four sons, the family called upon Wright to design an addition. In 1948, 1,084 square feet were added. Wright was very excited by the addition because it was exactly what he built the Usonian houses for, so they could grow with the family as it grew. He also designed ALL the furniture in the house. Everything there is original except for 2 chairs that were reproductions.
He was also very picky. He had certain rules about his houses and gave the owners almost no room for changes. We were told a story about Mildred wanting a door in her boy’s room during the addition and he refused and said it would ruin the lines. She kept on until he added the door and she said it became one of her biggest regrets about the house. It opened up a huge circle area around the house and the 4 boys would drive her crazy running round and round the house.
The first thing we noticed from the outside is the roof lines. There are 5 different levels. FLW believed in using the surrounding environment and natural materials found in the area to build his houses. It isn’t built on a slab so it follows the line of the property which is higher at points. There are so many levels inside the 1 story house. These are mostly only a couple of steps down or up to each level.
The living room is one of my favorite rooms. It is floor to ceiling windows and built in bookcases that run the length of the room. The Rosenbaums requested screens and FLW refused but they insisted. (Obviously FLW hasn’t spent a summer in Alabama with mosquitoes!) But he made the screens on the INSIDE of the doors and windows. And they are bronze so it can reflect the light. It is beautiful from outside. He also built the house on a grid. In the living room he positioned the windows so that in the winter the sunlight comes all the way into the room for warmth but in the summer it doesn’t because of the heat. (This was before AC) Stanley would have ‘salons’ at his home for his students. They would come and he would read the final chapter of whatever novel he had assigned and they would all discuss it. That sounds like my DREAM evening. Especially if it was in this beautiful room!
The light is the main thing I noticed. It is beautiful. It gives everything a gold sheen almost.
There was a very small kitchen, a study, the living room, 3 bedrooms and a bath in the original structure. But the kitchen was TINY. When FLW designed the addition they added a larger kitchen in the new addition, a guest room, a bathroom and the boy’s room. The boys room is a GREAT space. There are 4 bunkbeds butted up against each other. Each has their own reading light. There is a fireplace (4 total I believe) and a huge window seat in front of more floor to ceiling windows. Each bedroom always opens up to the outside.
Keilee and I both loved it and both would love to live in a house like this. It is perfect for us. Since the house is smaller, he used space so well. There are tons of storage places that are as beautiful as the actual rooms.
Mildred was a weaver and used one of the bedrooms for her weaving supplies and loom. The picture in the top left and under are the new kitchen and the bottom left is the old kitchen.
A bedroom, the master bedroom that Keilee is in, the Japanese garden outside the window, the bench in the boys room, one of the beautiful closets and the window in the guest room. See how the glass is cut to form the corner?
The bunk beds.
After the tour we all went to eat lunch in the park. It was a great day with Moms talking and kids playing with swords under the trees!
Then we stopped by the new Welcome Center. I LOVE Welcome centers and we always stop at everyone we see. This one was new and very cool.
Muscle Shoals, which is right beside Florence, is a huge recording town. After the park we went to Cypress Moon Productions. It has an amazing history and we got a tour of the facilities from the owner. They record music and do film. Of course Keilee had to stay after the tour and talk to the owner about the possibility of her being an extra. She is sending Holly her resume. I am always proud of the way she will talk to people about things she wants to know.
There were WALLS and WALLS of people who had recorded here. If you click on the link above it has more detail. See the young Bob Dylan?
It was such a beautiful day with friends and learning so much. We have gotten into a bad habit of saying “no” a lot. We blame it on the cold or this or that. We used to do things almost every week. Now the only constant is running to the grocery or Dollar General 3 times a week! That is about to change.
We have plans this weekend even though its going to be BITTER cold. And there is a possibility of SNOW the first of the week but we aren’t getting excited quite yet. (well I’m a BIT excited)
Happy Valentine’s weekend all. By the way, Keilee hates Valentines Day. She said you should tell the people you love that you love them every day and there shouldn’t be a special day for it!
“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright