Saturday, October 13, 2012

Classical Homeschool: Mesopotamia Night

Classical education is one of the best things to happen to our family.
We have discovered that homeschooling isn't about the parents sitting at the kitchen table imparting their knowledge onto their children.  Over the past few months our home has become a learning community.  Much of what our children are learning either we never learned to begin with or have long forgotten so we are discovering (& rediscovering) right along with our children.  Learning has become a family affair.
Even though my dear, wonderful husband does the bulk of the nitty-gritty homeschool work with our children (I'm mostly just the language-arts, domestic arts, and fill-in gal), I hate to be left out of the fun.  In my spare time, I find myself trying to keep up with what my family is learning while I'm at work. 
Modern classical education traditionally runs in one-year cycles which repeat every 3 years.  In cycle 1 ancient history is studied, cycle 2  is medieval history, and cycle 3 is modern history.  Every 3 years and children age, the same material is covered but the challenge and complexity is increased.  We were fortunate enough to come into our Classical Conversations group during a cycle 1 year, which means we are currently studying ancient cultures.  There is a lot to cover, but we do try to do a larger project centered around one ancient culture from time to time.
Recently we had "Mesopotamia Night", which included food, clothing, writing, and games from ancient Mesopotamia (with a few modern dishes from that part of the world as well).  The picture above features lemon & egg soup (oh my, we'll never make that again!), roast chicken (cooked on an outdoor rotisserie), goat cheese, grapes, cucumbers, yogurt, unleavened bread, and peppers.  We weren't sure about the peppers, but had some from our produce box that needed to be used. 
In this post, I detailed our curriculum and resources for this year.  For the most part, my research paid off and we are happy with everything we are using.  It has all definitely set our course for an adventure in family learning. 

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Still Here

2 months since my last post!  I have high hopes to be a real blogger someday, but for now, I post when the mood takes me.  This is an update post to (hopefully) get me back on track. 

We are still on the farm!  After thinking we had buyers, the deal fell through.  My husband worked very hard this summer to pay off a few financial matters that were worrying us and I am so happy to say the matters have been resolved.  I am very fortunate to be married to such a hard working and determined man!  We were even able to catch up on tithing to a couple of great organizations this week, which has been such a blessing for us.  Although we are are under contract to keep the farm on the market until December, I find myself hoping more and more that it doesn't sell.  Yes, it is inconvenient to drive such a distance for work, shopping, activities, and just about anything, but we are trying to be smart about combining trips.   We have worked hard on our budget to make it work and things are falling into place.  There is still a chance the farm might sell and, if so, we will take the next logical step and end up right where I'm sure we are supposed to be.

I have found the best way to preserve my sanity while there is still uncertainty concerning the sale of our beloved home is to go on like we will be here forever.  That means keeping up with my farm chores.  The chickens have laid like crazy all summer and have earned me enough to at least pay for their upkeep.  We butchered all of our pigs and sold some of the meat.  I am happy to take a break from pig raising for a bit.  Our last batch had made a neighborhood nuisance of themselves by escaping on a regular basis and engaging in garden raids and knocking flower pots off neighbor's patios.  I was happy to see them go and they are oh, so delicious!  Our baby goats are almost fully grown themselves now.  I still have not taken the plunge into buying a dairy goat yet, but I'm still considering the matter.

Thanks to some naughty escaping goats, we harvested exactly nothing from the garden this year.  I have given up for the time being and joined an organic produce coop.  I never know what I will get every week, so we have gotten very creative with things we would never normally buy--arugula, bok choy, cilantro, etc.  Combined with homemade bread made from wheat ordered from the Oklahoma Food Coop, pork from our hogs, beef from a steer grazed on a friend's acreage, frozen tomatoes and peppers from my mother's garden, and a few conventional grocery items, we are eating very well (and very healthy) these days!  I've even been able to cut my grocery budget by a little bit with some couponing.

The most joyous change in our lives, of course, is that we are homeschooling this year.  After careful consideration on how to make homeschooling work in our family, I ended up keeping my 30 hour a week job and working from morning to early afternoon.  My husband does a bit of computer and phone work in the morning while guiding our children through the majority of their lessons.  When I get home in the afternoon, he heads to work and I finish up any remaining work.  It sounds hectic, but I find it less so that transporting 3 kids to 3 separate schools, keeping up with homework assignments that my kids don't want to do and seem to have no information on how to do, worrying about negative peer situations, and dealing with the relentless pressure that standardized testing has introduced into public education.  My children are thriving socially, emotionally, and educationally.  I can't express how good it feels to be able to say that.

The biggest challenge in our homeschooling arrangement has been to let go and let my husband teach out kids in a way that works for him.  I had very specific ideas on how our schedule and curriculum would be this year.  I knew I would have to make adjustments based upon our children's needs.  I didn't expect to have to totally let go of my expectations based upon my children's and my partner's needs.  I have spent the past 5 weeks thinking that our little homeschool was in total chaos and that we had accomplished nothing.  Today, I had the privilege to spend the day at home (thanks to a little girl with a fever) and was surprised to discover that not only are we right on schedule with lessons, but my kids are learning, discovering, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Yes, they do balk at doing certain tasks that require more concentration, but all-in-all they are eager to learn.  I think the joy of learning has been missing from our household for some time. 
Best of all, we are all left with more time to pursue non-academic endeavors that we enjoy.  M and I have been busy sewing dresses and skirts while my older son has been teaching himself how to make digital music.  As for my younger son, he has been trying to defeat all of the levels in his new Mario game and reading lots of dragon books.

With my husband set to graduate and start seminary this year, I have been reading a lot of theology lately.  I really feel the need for a good zombie story very soon . . .

And that's all the latest here at Dome Farm.
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