More Reflecting on History . . .

Davie Crockett     Douglas Frederick     Theadore Roosavelt

"What is all history but the work of ideas,
a record of incomparable energy which his infinite aspirations
infuse into man?
In its pages it is always persons we see more than principles.
Historical events are interesting to us mainly in connection with feelings,
the sufferings, and interests of those by whom they are accomplished.
In history we are surrounded by men, long dead,
but whose speech and whose deeds survive . . . " 
~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Washington Booker T    Washington portrait on horseback     Francis Scott Key

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

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Let's Navigate! How-To Make an Outdoor Compass: Outdoor Hour Challenge

The girls and I have been spending as much time as possible out of doors.  This is a direct benefit of living in Texas during the end of winter and blossoming of Spring.  Allergies aside, we have been exploring and nature studying to our hearts content beginning our spring break.

Here is a quick activity that we enjoyed this week during Nature Study: Make an outdoor stick compass.
This is the Bug's outdoor compass.  She actually had to move her rocks around to the right position.  But that was only after I took the picture, of course.
1.  Use a the short stick that you found (already off the tree, no pulling off the tree directly) and push directly into the ground.

2.  Now push the stick toward the sun, leaving it at a slight angle.  The stick should not have any shadow.  Now, you wait . . .

3.  When your stick has projected a shadow of approximately 6 inches long or more, then you know that the shadow is pointing east directly from the stick.
4.  Now you can use rocks, sticks to make a line at right angles across the shadow, making north and south.  We painted our rocks, but chalk would work too.

PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc
PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc
PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc
What are you enjoying in your nature study?

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

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10 Ways to Re-establish a Gentle Learning Atmosphere: Spring Cleaning Charlotte Mason Style

I am most certainly not the most quiet and meek person on the planet.  Attaining a meek and quiet spirit is the work of the Almighty Himself, or else it just wouldn't happen for this loud, extroverted daughter of a high school football coach.  My extreme tendencies have a way of spilling into our home education environment.  That most likely goes without saying, but I typically do not go without saying.  Get the point?

Recently, due to much needed rest and quiet moments, I have been pouring over Charlotte Mason's timeless writings during much of my downtime.  The words and wisdom imparted by Ms. Mason never cease to rejuvenate and astound this home educator.  As moms, we so frequently get out of focus by the enamoring of the world that surrounds us.  God has used Charlotte Mason books, on more than one occasion, to anchor me back into His purpose for our homeschool.

ORIGINAL PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc
The spring season of cleaning and de-cluttering our home and lives, has officially begun here in our neck of the woods.  What a glorious time to begin a proverbial de-cluttering of our homechool!  I am working our way back to the beginnings of our gentler educational roots as Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.  This is my plan for Spring Cleaning Charlotte Mason Style during our next semester.
10 Ways to Re-establish a Gentle Learning Atmosphere:

1.  Stay at home.  I know this is more than likely stating the obvious, but it is amazing how quickly we get sucked into a lasting case of the "run-a-rounds".  Focusing on the home-port as a staple to home education is a simple detail we all miss, many times.

2.  Set the tone for good works.  A life used by God to serve others is the sure way to re-establish good attitudes and Christ-focus back in our homeschool.

PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc
3.  Make a joyful noise.  Remember to include, daily, the sounds of worship through music.  Choose inspiring worship tunes, sing hymns and listen to classical composers, in order to  fill your home with the sounds of joy.  Music is a powerful tool, use it for good!

"O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded." Psalm 22:2-5 (KJV)

4.  Eliminate outside distractions.  Not every extracurricular past time is worth pursuing.  Stop feeling your home education calendar with co-op, meetings and workshops.  There is a season for these busy good works, but not today.  

5.  Create a safe environment for open and honest communications.  The basis of a beautiful and more gentle education ,for your students and yourself, is re-establishing an environmental honesty for every individual of the family.  Grace is good..

6.  Set a foundation for ideas through living books.  Keep fueling your child's education for right living with a constant stream of beautiful writings from living books.

7.  Manners and positive attitude, yes, they are for mommy too!
PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc
8.  Validate the feelings of your students, and redirect with quiet and "passive authority".  

"A parent loses his opportunity for good to his child, if he fails to have sympathy with this child in that child's weakness and follies and misdoings.  It is in every child's nature to long for sympathy at the point where he needs it most; and when he has done wrong, or has indulged evil thoughts, or is feeling the force of temptation, he is glad to turn to some one stronger and better than himself, and make confession of his faults and failures.  If as he comes to his parents at such a time, he is met with manifest sympathy, he is drawn to his parents with new confidence and new trust.
- H. Clay Trumbull, Hints on Child Training

9.  Let go of perfection and stop comparing, yourself and your children, to others.

10.  Set a standard for open prayer and family worship.  Keeping your children's heartstrings attached to home is essential.  Worshiping and praying, as a family, is the cornerstone in attaining a lasting attachment to the family.

What are your goals for the spring semester?

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

This post is a contribution to Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings.

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Striving for the Simple & Old Ways: {Weekend Reflecting}

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

Philippians 4:11(KJV)

Reflecting on the week with joy; come good, bad, or indifferent . . . 

I am learning slowly, yet surely, that simplicity is a state of mind.  That being still before the LORD and trusting Him daily is a choice.  A process.

I choose to meditate on His Word. 
I choose to turn over to Him, in prayer, my worries, concerns and hectic day.

This week I chose to guard, with tenacity, each quiet, still and simple pleasure that I encountered.  I do this for myself and for my family.  I said, "No thank you."  More than once, to more than a few people.  AREN'T YOU PROUD OF ME!?!

How our school week went . . . 
Busy, busy, in a dizzy!
The girls and I were on the road after the Texas Independence Day Festival, on a 4-H Horse Judging trip.  We didn't get home until Tuesday evening.  This means we hit the ground running to finish up the week.  We are SO taking Spring Break next week.  
This is the logo for our new Texas History curriculum:  What do you think?
What I'm reading this week . . .  

What's on my e-Reader . . . 
One Bite at a Time - I am really enjoying this read and focus.  Simple = better.

What the kids are reading this week . . . 
The Squeaker: Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Swiss Family Robinson
The Scout: The Spy & War of the Worlds
The Bug: The Rover Boys on the River, and The Confessions (She found it on my tablet, not certain why she is interested in 18th Century philosophy, but we'll see if she keeps it up.)

Mom projects that I tackled this week . . . 
  • Ummmm . . . moving on!

What I'm Eating?  
Oh man, you SO don't want to know.  I have five words . . . Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, enough said.  Trying to get back on the wagon this week, but I may have gained a little, hard to get up there!  Somebody give me a shove.

Here are the posts I enjoyed this week . . .

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

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Texas Art: It's Not All Trucks & Bluebonnets Ya'll

Thank you once again Hollywood, for perpetuating the stereotypes and planting preconceived notions into people's mind.  

You know what I mean right?  All people from New York are rude, and would rather step on your face than look at you.  All people from Utah are Mormon   All Californians are vegetarian hippies . . . well, you get the picture.

All Texans chew tobacco, ride horses and trucks, and are country bumpkins!

I despise stereotypes and dealing in emphatic attitudes about others.  One of my biggest pet peeves.  You might have already figured that out though.  I mean, I am the Christian homeschool mom that wears crazy socks with my long skirts . . . 

Texans are, in fact, educated.  Texans do possess culture.  Texans are proud of their heritage.  Here are just a few: Van Cliburn. Scott Joplin.  Debbie Reynolds.  Larry McMurtry.  Woody Harrelson (never-mind, bad example).


The point is this.  Texas is big.  Texas is proud.  Texas has culture and a rich heritage.  All of this, to share some of our upcoming homeschool plans, focusing on our great Lone Star State.  I am excited (can you tell?) to share some of the resources and curriculum we are utilizing during the coming month in our Texas studies.

We will begin with Art & History.  

The kids and I were most privileged to participate in our hometown's celebration of Texas Independence Day.  This allowed the children and I many hours of studying and preparing.  I will be sharing in a couple of weeks the new curriculum that we used to study the exciting Texas History that we shared and reenacted during the Texas Independence Day Festival.

Until then, we are moving on to famous Texas Artists & their works.  This has been a good pausing point in our current art study.  So, I invite you to un-saddle your horse, hang up your cowboy hat and spurs, and enjoy some classic art (and some not so classy art) from the great state of Texas!  
ORIGINAL PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc

You can see the works we will be studying by following our Texas Art board on Pinterest.

AND Here are some of the works that my artists produced for our local celebration:
The Bug's sketch of the Alamo mission
Squeaker built this lovely sculpture from clay of the Alamo at San Antonio Bexar
Portrait of Colonel William Barrett Travis by The Squeaker
. . . AND, the project only a unique homeschooler could do - The Texas Independence Heroes in Origami by The Scout.  He's an original, what can I say?

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

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Are You A Grudge-Holding Mommy?

Let us set the scene.

The child has been thoroughly and carefully instructed in behavior expectations during an important church event.  Child confirms that they understand and will behave accordingly.  Child then proceeds to embarrass parents at church event, and even after gentle reminders and verbal prompting, does not correct said behaviors.  Ugh!

Yep, your kid just acted like, well . . . a kid!
PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc
What is your response?  Gentle discipline?  Heart-to-heart talk?  Reach for God's Word?  

Nope.  None of the above.  You get hacked-off and give your child the silent treatment for the entire day.  You may even go for breaking the grudge-holding world record, if you feel like it!

When I say "you" of course, I mean your's truly . . . Also know as, well, me!

Let's just chalk this one up as something that the LORD is graciously still working on in me.  You know, the whole grace and mercy thing.  Just not my strong suit.

What I have learned over the years is to take a long look at myself, and my mental or emotional status when I have my child's behavior under the proverbial microscope.  Low and behold, I typically find that I am the problem and most people don't really see the irritating behavior of my children.  Just me.

How am I learning to cut-out the grudge holding?

  • Surrender: Realizing that I am not the end-all-beat-all parent is a big step in the right direction.  I have to continually acknowledge that God is ultimately in control and He has a plan for my "goofy" kid.  I am His "goofy" kid too . . . I guess that makes us even, right?
  • Relax:  When I am seeing every little thing wrong in my child's behavior, it typically means I am looking for a fault.  MAN, am I glad other's don't do me the way I do my kids some times!  If my child is engaging in a behavior that neither hurts them, or someone else, mentally, physically or spiritually, than it is more than likely something that just annoys me.  Let it ride! Just being still, enjoying fellowship, having a cup of tea, and generally not acknowledging my kid is in the same room is (sometimes, not always) a good idea.
PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.org cc

  • Prayer:  Praying continually and without ceasing.  This is the greatest lesson of parenthood for me.  Whispering sweet S.O.S's up to God is a faith building exercise that reminds us of what this is really all about.  Him, His glory, His kid . . . not me.
  • Thankfulness:  Tragedy happens.  Life hurts.  Bad things happen to good people.  This is fact.  I should be ever remembering and mindful of the blessings of having a kid.  A good kid.  A healthy kid.  A kid who loves me.  Others would give all that they have in this world to have that!  I am thankful for my kids.
ORIGINAL PHOTO CREDIT via Compfight.com cc

Do you struggle with the grudge-match too?  Say a prayer for me, I'll be praying for you too!

Joyfully Learning with You,