Monday, September 26, 2016

Dawn to Dusk

... And when I wake in the morning, you are still with me. Psalm 139:18

...They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow faint. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

..."I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." John 8:12

It is God's privilege to conceal things and the king's privilege to discover them.         Proverbs 25:8

In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short. Proverbs 24:14

The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it. Genesis 2:15

My goal is that they be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have full confidence because they have complete understanding of God's secret plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.                                                                 
 Colossians 2:2-3

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged... Proverbs 17:6

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step...                  1 Corinthians 9:25-26

The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

Through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. Psalm 42:8


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In The Room Where it Happens

Hi. I'm Pepper. That's me starring in my first selfie. I live with my family of human folks who always keep pretty busy. They do this thing called homeschooling. It must be some sort of obedience school, but it looks way more fun than that. I used to think that human people had to go somewhere in order to get an education. I was wrong. My humans find things to learn about all over our home - basically, inside and out. 

Today, I decided to follow my youngest human around and pay attention to what she does and where she does it. (Being a dog can get rather boring, so I try to keep things interesting.) 

She started the day pretty early. My momma human is kind of a kook about getting outside first thing in the morning. I love it too. So many bushes to smell and telephone poles to... Well, she rolled out of bed, slipped on her shoes, and away we went.

Our neighborhood classroom is amazing. Lately we've been finding milkweed full of Monarch caterpillars and gorgeous wildflowers including my momma human's favorite, Queen Anne's Lace. My sister humans take this time to reconnect after a night's rest and before any misunderstandings arise. (That actually does happen now and then.) 😉

When we get home, the back porch becomes the school room. This little human has become quite the expert on Monarch butterflies. 

She even has the big sister human playing with the caterpillars. That's quite a feat for this insect phobic youngster. 

Finally it's breakfast time. Aww... bacon. I hang around her chair at every meal. She spills and I clean up. What a team. My momma human loves this about me. I even enjoy listening along to her audio books. Right now we're listening to The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. But my favorite is A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. Now there's a beautiful story. 

Most day she gets busy right after breakfast. The piano usually gets her day rolling. Unfortunately, this is often when mother nature calls me. Breakfast scraps can do that to me. Sorry about that detour...

I've observed that this little humanoid loves to work independently. She started something new to her this year; some type of class outside of our home called Essentials. Charts, charts, and more charts. My paws get tired just watching her.

She has a great work space that fits her perfectly. I can't see what's on the top of the desk, but I know that she has gobs of shelf space to store all kinds of things. Let's see... there's books, string, posters, pens, watercolors, gum, Star Wars stickers, yarn, piggy bank, origami... a little bit of everything exactly like she likes it; messily organized. I think about this part of the house as "The Room Where it Happens" thanks to countless hours listening to Hamilton: The Musical. My humans are nuts about that music.

Sometimes she scoots over to the living room and does a lesson from a self-paced history course. She loves this independence and always has something to teach our momma afterwards.

I make sure to be around when there's a science project going on. Exploding balloons was the theme for this one. Actually, I think she was trying to make a model of the solar system. I'm not too sure how accurate she was, but she had lots of fun. We had balloons scattered on our floors for days.

My tail starts wagging when she bolts outside for what my momma human calls "rope swing therapy". What's the point of staying home if you don't enjoy the benefits of your own backyard? And I'm out there always ready to play. What could be better?

As I said before, she loves to be left alone to her own studies. That works out well since my momma human also studies all day long (and sometimes well into the night.) I don't get it. At her age, what else could she possibly want to learn?

Tomorrow my humans will be gone all day somewhere called CC. I don't know where or what that is but they are all busy getting ready for it and extremely happy and tired when they get home. (Especially my momma human.) Even though I don't like being left alone all day, I do enjoy watching the little human practice her presentation. She has really come a long way since she started doing this thing several years ago. 

My favorite time has come at last. PJ's on, lights out, flashlight on = snuggle time. I love my life as a dog. Everyday is another day to look forward to.

Happy snoring, 
Pepper 🐾
P.S. Be careful where you leave your phone.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

About That Basket...

It's Saturday morning and I'm evaluating our past week. It was good, in fact very good. But one thing keeps nagging me and that is... we don't have a Morning Basket (as I sarcastically stated in a previous blogpost.)

But I feel left out. Am I doing our homeschool a disfavor? I often go back and read about one of my favorite blogger's basket. Sigh... Why can't I get this awesome morning time basket thing together?

Now, after a couple of cups of coffee I realize that I've been comparing again, a debilitating habit of mine that I hate to admit. The real deal is that we do have a Morning Basket; it's just different. It's unique to us; it's what we need and what we treasure. 

I'm a morning freak and a running fanatic. I get up around 5:00 a.m., drink a cup of Joe, read a little, chat with hubby, and then head out the door. I'm plugged into either an audiobook (I recently finished Hamilton by Ron Chernow) or a podcast. My favorites are The Thomas Jefferson Hour and Hardcore History.

I get back home at 7:45 and do it again but differently. This time Grace, Mary, and Pepper tag along. By 8:00 we are all up and out, waking up together as we talk about all sorts of things.

For example, this week we...

  • Discussed Kepler's Three Laws of Planetary Motion.
  • Laughed about how Pepper's tail sticks straight up and looks like an exclamation mark.
  • Listened to Grace practice her monologs for a theater audition that happened on Friday. (FYI. She aced it.)
  • Learned about St. Augustine as Mary shared the knowledge gained from her Veritas Press self-paced history course.
  • Listed all the songs from Alexander Hamilton in their correct order. (We're slightly obsessed.)
  • Talked about ways for us to reach out to and prayed for a struggling family that we know.
  • Took pictures to use for our nature journaling and observed God's amazing creation. 
  • Talked about what Grace heard in Sunday School from her middle school friends about girl fights and how to react to these issues as a child of God.
  • Discussed the fate of the Lakota Indians concerning the North Dakota Pipeline crisis and how badly white America has historically treated our Native Americans. 
  • Pointed out how the use of ambiguous and vague words can lead to verbal disagreements.
  • Teared up (well I did) as I shared my favorite Bible verse: "And when I wake up, You are still with me." Psalm 139:18

We need this time to reconnect before our school day begins and I love taking this time to pull together what we're learning and make it relevant to our lives. 

So our basket may not fit into what would be considered a typical Morning Time routine but it works for us and that's all that matters.

In the words of Dr. Seuss, "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"


Friday, August 26, 2016

Diving in...

Here we are launching year eight with Classical Conversations. I suppose I should be a pro by now. Yeah... right. Because my habits follow those of most homeschooling moms, I've spent more than the necessary amount of time figuring out the nuts and bolts of teaching our girls this year. In other words, I've been wrestling with the issue of whether I can broaden their minds without losing mine in the process. Hmmm. I think I've probably already crossed over that line. 

Mentioning the desire to keep as much of my sanity intact as possible compels me to chime in about the Morning Basket trend. This is the attractive habit of sharing inspirational readings, gazing upon lovely art, and discussing inspiring thoughts with each other first thing in the morning. Well, I've finally realized that one of us (I won't name her, but she just turned thirteen this summer) is not especially warm and fuzzy upon wakening, so keeping my basket to myself as we begin the day is the safest and the wisest morning ritual at this house. But I digress.

This morning my ten year old daughter christens her seventh year of CC alongside her small, beloved, group of friends as she begins her maiden voyage in the Masters class. Whoopee! One thing I know for sure is that the Foundations and Challenge programs have provided our homeschool with necessary structure and abundant knowledge. I've tried managing the beast called homeschooling without this guidance and community. Talk about losing my mind! I quickly returned with my tail between my legs. 

Now that we're at the halfway mark in our educational journey, I can see that obtaining knowledge at the grammar stage is sort of like riding waves aboard a sailboat. Memorizing the facts the first time around makes for a beautiful and eye opening journey with only the occasional rough water. It's not too difficult to stay pretty dry. Yet at some point the water becomes too tempting to resist. That's where we are now. This girl is longing to jump into the sea and swim. She's ready to get soaked to the bone.

I'm a sucker for books and it shows. Our bookshelves are overflowing with every kind of classical curriculum I can get my hot hands on, always trying to find the next best thing. But seriously... enough is enough. This year I'm forcing myself to employ the resources we already own as I coach my daughter and set some expectations. I have to keep myself coming back to the fact that there's way more information in this world than I could ever expose our children to and that my role is to teach them the skills that they need to navigate this Sea of Knowledge by themselves. But I also know myself. I need a plan to keep me focused on our goals; to keep us headed toward the horizon.

My plan is to use CC's Cycle 2 Sea of Knowledge as the diving board for my daughter's plunge into her own dialectical and rhetorical ocean. Navigating these waters will definitely be daunting at times (maybe more often than I'm prepared for), but with the correct equipment, instruction, and guidance it certainly will be possible. I hope.

I've compiled a list of the skills that I'm expecting my daughter to practice this semester along with the sources she'll use to accomplish this. The CC memory work serves as a means to perfect her grammar skills while the added curriculum provides the substance necessary to develop her dialectic and rhetoric skills. 


  • Complete several math lessons weekly and engage (with me) in conversation about math problems and concepts each day.
  • Play math games.
  • Parse and diagram sentences. LOE/Essentials
  • Explore 1st declension nouns and 1st conjugation verbs. Lively Latin
  • Create key word outlines. IEW
  • Read and narrate living books about the people of Cycle 2's history including various scientists, composers, and artists. AmblesideLiving Books, Local library  
  • Read, listen to, and narrate stories about the Middle Ages. The Story of the World
  • Relate historic people and events to each other by placing them on a timeline. 
  • Connect history to world geography by placing locations on a world map.
  • Study the science of astronomy by way of narration, note taking, and hands-on projects. Guide to Astronomy
  • Listen to the music of great musicians. Classics for Kids


  • Explain several math problems to me each week.
  • Write a structurally sound paragraph from a key word outline.
  • Incorporate various stylistic techniques into the writing assignments.
  • Compose sentences made up of the different sentences structures, patterns, and purposes.
  • Use proper grammar and appropriate parts of speech when speaking and writing.
  • Exhibit some understanding of planetary motion. 
  • Narrate the major events and historic people of the Middle Ages. Veritas Press 
  • Participate in class presentations concentrating on public skills.
  • Create works of art that relate to famous artists
  • Observe nature and keep a nature journal.

I intend to refer to this list often letting it act as her lifejacket and my buoy. Even though I want my daughter to wholeheartedly dive into the water, I certainly will make sure that she doesn't drown. She'll probably need to stick some water wings on here and there but then again so will I! We'll navigate this Sea of Knowledge together one stroke at a time. Somewhere way across that ocean is a beach full of wonderful secrets just waiting for her to unfold. 


And where will I be eight years from now? Ahhh... My crystal ball reveals a sweet scene. Through a dreamy fog, I see my husband and myself relaxing in the sun, reading mindless novels while sipping chilled Chardonnay topped off with those cute little umbrellas. We'll hopefully be basking in the warm thoughts of a job well done. 

Seize each day.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Where We'd Rather Be

This year I'm trying to be more intentional with my schooling agenda. I'm looking at our curriculum and streamlining it to cover what we need to accomplish and what we are really going to do. I'm figuring out where we'd rather be. I have a plan.

First, I did an assessment of my daughter's present skills grouped into the trivium stages of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.  I find that this breaks it all down for me so that I can focus on skills rather than content; become empowered instead of overwhelmed. I'll revisit this list at the end of 18 weeks and see where she is at that time.** Next, I outlined the skills she'll be working on this semester and the curriculum (content) she will use to achieve those skills. I'll also return to these in four months, reevaluate, and make adjustments.

I'm planning to totally embrace CC's Challenge B curriculum partly because I'm directing the class but mostly and more importantly because it's an unbelievable program. The material is so engaging and relevant that I only wish I had had the opportunity to be a part of it when I was in 8th grade... many, many years ago. Thankfully, I'm blessed to be a part of Challenge now. Better late than never.

This is what we're planning to accomplish 1st semester 2016 with Grace (and hopefully, with grace.) I've accentuated the skills she'll work on in order to keep them foremost in my mind. By daily referring to this list, I intend to stay on track as we venture into this territory called Challenge B.

Grammar (Latin) Henle First Year Latin
* Pay attention to detail.
  • Decline and conjugate new words
  • Make grammar and vocabulary flash cards to memorize.
  • Recognize Latin words, roots, and derivatives in all subjects.
* Engage in dialogue by asking questions, defining terms, comparing ideas, and recognizing patterns and rules.
  • Parse from Latin to English and English to Latin.
  • Apply Latin structure to Logic and English.
  • Discuss/practice vocabulary and grammar in class utilizing the Five Common Topics.
*Embrace the study of Latin as a means to begin in conversation with all of mankind.
  • Develop and practice the skills required to learn any language.
  • Participate positively in classroom discussions.
  • Come to class prepared to discuss and present concepts from homework.
  • Be able to recognize and express the integration of Latin in the other strands.

Logic (Math) Saxon Algebra 1/2
* Read the alphabet (symbols), memorize the proper vocabulary (facts), and internalize the structural rules (laws and operations).
  • Continue to memorize math formulas, laws, and facts.
  • Make flashcards of terms, laws, and formulas to help with memorization.
  • Complete a math lesson/test each day.
* Ask questions that lead to clarity about how math works and how to use numbers in relationship to one another. What am I being asked to find? What information am I being given? What operations or relationships help me rightly relate the information given?
  • Improve speed and accuracy while logically applying math laws to basic algorithms. 
  • Demonstrate all the math work.
  • Discuss concepts and math problems by way of the Five Common Topics.
* Develop an appreciation for math equations because they balance, because they give us a mystery to talk about, and because it reflects the nature of our Creator.
  • Manipulate and use the text to teach self.
  • Explain math problems.
  • Come to class with work completed, ready to discuss and present.
  • Recognize and express how math exhibits itself in all subjects.

Rhetoric (Logic) Introductory Logic
* Memorize precise definitions.
  • Memorize the vocabulary of Formal Logic.
  • Make flashcards of Logic terms.
  • Memorize syllogism rules and fallacies.
* Sharpen the skills of sound reasoning, of good discernment, of thorough analysis of ideas and thoughts, and of correct argument. 
  • Discuss the skills of clear reasoning and critical thinking working towards understanding.
  • Order information into usable form.
  • Participate in class discussions.
* Consider ideas thoughtfully and use those ideas to build greater understanding of the world and their place in it.
  • Come to class prepared to present concepts.
  • Identify Logic in the other strands (and in life.)

Debate (Current Events) News Articles
* Define terms related to specific events.
  • Define and recognize bias.
  • Identify reliable news sources.
  • Define various current events topics.
*Exhibit curiosity by asking good questions.
  • Formulate questions by way of the Five Common Topics: Definition, Comparison, Circumstance, Relationship, and Authority.
  • Organize facts into a persuasive format.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Read news articles critically.
* Join in the classical conversations of mankind, seek and discover knowledge, and promote freedom and justice.
  • Discuss controversial issues with passion not emotion.
  • Defend a premise with supporting facts.
  • Present persuasively in class.
  • Connect current events with past historical events both secular and biblical.

Exposition and Composition (Literature) The Lost Tools of Writing
* Define the parameters of each assignment.
  • Read each assigned book.
  • Compile a list of unfamiliar words and their definitions.
  • Practice the mechanics for writing an essay. 
  • Plot the history and geography from the literature on a timeline.
* Analyze and compare the work of excellent writers through a rich literary environment.
  • Narrate each assigned reading.
  • Create sentences using the new vocabulary words correctly.
  • Develop thesis statements.
  • Use the Canons of Invention and Arrangement to create outlines.
  • Actively participate in class discussions.
  • Identify LTOW elements in the essays of peers.
* Develop speaking, writing, and thinking techniques by exposure to the greatest thoughts expressed with the finest, most apt words.
  • Write persuasive essays with proper technique and style utilizing the Canon of Elocution.
  • Be able to discuss cause and effect and antecedent and consequence.
  • Present in class utilizing the Canons of Memoria and Pronuntiatio. 
  • Evaluate self and peers by the method of assessing to bless. Point out one thing done well AND what could be done differently the next time to make the presentation better.

Research (History of Science and Science Fair) Independent research
* Accumulate definitions which will become the pegs on which richer definitions are hung.
  • Memorize the Scientific Method.
  • Take notes.
  • Plot scientists on the timeline.
  • Place the geography associated with each scientists on the map.
  • Memorize timeline.
* Take the facts of the natural world and ask questions about those facts, seeking to understand those facts by defining, comparing, and relating them to each other.
  • Organize research into a fused outline.
  • Follow the instructions in the guide to complete each assignment.
  • Use time well to complete the science fair project. Plan ahead and stay on schedule.
  • Participate in class discussions using the Five Common Topics.
* Realize the potential for incorrect conclusions which can lead into further dialogue that continually defines, compares, relates, and considers circumstances and authority either to build further upon that which has already been discovered or transcends and corrects that which has been hypothesized incorrectly.
  • Write a concise five paragraph expository essay.
  • Present in class using appropriate public speaking skills.
  • Reflect on how science builds on past hypotheses and discoveries.
  • Be confident about the the science fair project and be prepared to answers questions.
  • Evaluate self and peers by "assess to bless".

As I finish this outline, my mind is busy thinking about all the adventures coming our way this semester. Together, my daughter and I are beginning a journey along the road towards where we'd rather be. There may be some rough spots ahead but the ride should be thrilling!


** Diane Lockman's Trivium Mastery Map available through her Mom's Course.
* The Question by Leigh Bortons. This book is fantastic!