Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.*"

Take Back the Land, by Rick Boyer

Inspiring a new generation to lead America

Written to the youth of America, homeschoolers in particular. I am glad it is written directly to the audience and not to their parents. I agree with Rick, that we need to treat this age group as adults - or at least as much as adults as they demonstrate they are. We were all there once, screaming, ‘I’m not a child anymore.’ So, okay, you’re not a child - if that’s the case, act like it. Age is not the determiner of adulthood- maturity is. And with his definition I agree.

Mr. Boyer defines adulthood as:

Ownership of faith

Ownership for one’s actions

Is a giver and not a taker

Has a proper sense of duty

He gives a brief history of childification in America - in which compulsory education is a major part. John Gatto also discusses this phenomenon in his writings. It seems that this process is extending later and later and that we cannot take much more. Something must change. Homeschooling is the start of a revival but it is not complete. Rick Boyer asks the ‘new generation’ to complete the revival.

The homeschool parents of the first/second generation are like Moses, we took our kids out of government education and as much as possible out of this childification process. The current and soon to be graduates of homeschooling are Like Joshua - they’ve been led out of government education and are on the bank of the promised land - but will they cross the river? Will they go one step further and reign in government control for everyone or will they return to Egypt?

Rick rightly points out that compulsory education is imprisonment for the innocent. Think about that. When did we find it acceptable to incarcerate those who’ve committed no crime? Truancy was not a big problem before compulsory laws- so for fear of a nonexistent problem, all parents and children are controlled as criminals.

The battlefield for the ‘joshuas’ of today are family, church and government. Not everyone will be called to every battlefield or even have the same role in the three arenas. The point is to seek and discover your role- and then fill it now, not waiting for some future day when you are ‘old enough’.

Rick Boyer states “I say this without apology and without hesitation. It’s no exaggeration.

The current crop of new adults [around age 12- the 20s] needs to get involved and make changes now, not later or we’ll loose the little freedoms we have left. America as we know it is on the verge of disappearing completely. We need new leadership- and homeschoolers are poised to provide it.”

In reality we have a 2 class educational system: The leaders and the rest of us. Yes, where do today’s leaders come from? Not usually ‘public school.‘ They attend a handful of elite private schools and as Mr. Boyer states: “. . . every American president and almost every candidate for president of the last 20 years attended either Harvard or Yale. With the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court in 2010, every member of the present Supreme Court also attended Harvard or Yale.” Doesn’t this make you mad? Doesn’t this scare you? Doesn’t this seem wrong? If ‘public education’ is suppose to be the great equalizer and field leveler- then why are our leaders not coming out of it? Why do they come from a completely different educational track? And a small one at that. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see this system is not equitable and not working for most of us. And you can see, that as the education system goes, so goes the nation.

The biggest impact on my reading this book and of what’s most significant to me is that Rick Boyer is not the only voice with the same message. Generation Joshua, Vision Forum, The Harris brothers, ICCinc, Debra Bell and many others are all delivering a similar message. Even at TED Talks there are some good speakers expounding on how the current educational system should not be reformed but scrapped for a totally new one. So because of the wide consensus, this is a truly timely book. And while it might not be the end of the world or even the end of America- certainly change is coming and it will need leaders and those leaders will be the homeschoolers. [or the perceptive] I hope they read it and act on it.


* Gandalf, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Scheduling oh my!

Since I love homeschool planning more than actually implementing them or most any other household chore, I tend to force myself to wait until the very end to make my plan or schedule for the next year. I must resist the urge to plan all year for future years. I typically want to scrap the current year in January in order to start day dreaming about next September. But I resist. I hide catalogs that come in the mail and determine not to buy things at conferences unless already on my decided list.

I agree with other advisors that you really owe it to yourself to take some time off- either go away, or have the kids go away for the day or hire a mom's helper for the day? Anything, so you can really concentrate on the job, look through all those great resources, and search the house for those books you know you bought at last year's conference. . . It is also a good idea to discuss with dh [dear husband] each child's details and how you want to meet them.

After discussing the kids w/ their Dad, The first thing I do is determine my dates. I get a calendar and decide when I'm going to start, stop and take vacation. I try to have a couple of extra floater weeks for unexpected things. I pencil in all those weekly commitments; TKD, dance, soccer, piano, Speech, Bible Study, etc etc. . . Then I count up what's left and start slotting my resources in them. I mostly just concentrate on the weekly schedule and a loose idea of what the daily schedule will be like- [Latin on Monday, piano on Tuesday etc] Since each day is different It's unrealistic to think I can do the same 'school schedule' each day of the week.

Another thing not to forget in this planning is the household chores and meals. While not perfect in this, I do recognize that stopping more often during the day to pick up makes it much easier to maintain the house overall, rather than trying to save it up for one big mega clean up. This is a good thing to do for 'transitions' in your day [after breakfast, before lunch, afternoons before Dad arrives, just before leaving, bedtime, etc. ] set a timer for 10 minutes and have everyone help pick up the main areas of trouble. Whatever gets done in that time is better than nothing. You might schedule in starting a load of laundry in the morning, and swapping it at lunch time. I am going to attempt, yet again, to schedule children for various meals- 1) so they can learn/practice to cook, 2) to learn to serve their family, and 3) to take some of the load off of me. Even the younger ones can make eggs or sandwiches so why not make them for everybody?

As for school. I'm going to try something different this year. I seem to always be struggling to get in my 'favorite subjects' of history and science because I spend so much time doing the 'have tos' When I do school that is. . . Sometimes it's just a struggle period. but also things like teaching someone to read and do math. I've found that I just can't do every single subject each day anyway- and alternating days wasn't working too well either- unless I was in a co-op. So this year, I am doing units. First a 3 week science unit, and then a 5 week history unit. then back to science. there's a little tweaking to fit in the calendar parameters decided on above, but mostly it fits into the time slots I've made. I am very excited to try it this way and see how it works out. . . I've also determined NOT to try to do the whole book, but just pick a handful of related topics for each 'unit.' More details to come, I hope. We start on Tuesday with piano, TKD and possibly Speech Chapter. . .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

School's Out, sorta

Just posting like crazy today. Lots to catch up on. . .

The kids and I were very excited to finish our SWR for the year. I had hoped to get through list O for this year, but we DID make it through list N instead. Pretty darn close and M and N lists had all the review words, yay!! And not only that, we were able to do 40 words a week [ OR more, shsh, don't tell] AND do a couple of enrichments for each list. The kids have progressed so much in their reading ability and in their stamina that it is just easier to do the assignments. I feel like next year the 2 of them doing SWR will need to be done separately. They have different needs to work on and I found they either distracted or held up one another. I also need to see if the little one could do some things. I am never real consistent with having older kids teach younger ones, so here's my chance to try again. The next 2 could easily play phonogram games, read pre-school books, and stuff with the youngest. I will have to remember to plan that in- maybe while I do SWR with one and they can switch off. Lots of time to think about it. . .

At the end of our year we did a final spelling diagnostic. I don't do them every month, because one just doesn't test well, yet. . . If I don't count the obvious letters he confused the sound for [f for v, r for w etc] then he spells fairly well. They are both solid second graders in reading and spelling, and this is with one that seemed would NEVER learn to read. So it is a great big HUGE accomplishment. We will start back again at the end of August. For now, we will just enjoy reading, work on some vision therapy for one and handwriting review for the other.

I would still like to finish up some of the history we didn't get to, some of the science and continue to work on the math until done, but in reality, this is purely optional and probably not likely. . . but you never know. . .

Science Project

Here is the kids' science project display.

I am sorry to say that the cracked egg did not make it. We opened the egg and there was a full grown chick inside, so he definitely survived the crack, but I don't think he survived being rolled around by his earlier to hatch siblings. :( live and learn.

The Final Cut!

Here are the long promised movies we made of our chick hatching!!
We ended up with 10 baby chicks. 2 eggs never developed and 6 died before hatching. 1 of the 10 needed 'help' to hatch. He is the little yellow runt. Half way through the hatching process I put the rest of the eggs in cartons. I will always wonder if we might have saved a couple more by doing this at 'lockdown' [the day you stop turning them]. I think I might also have the hatch in the bathroom, so we can easily bring the temp. and humidity in the room up to the incubator level so that opening and removing chicks from the incubator would be more doable. I did not like hatched chicks pecking on the in progress chicks. The kids won special recognition at the local homeschool science fair for being the most fun exhibit. [Yep, took laptop and showed the videos, live animals not allowed.]
I highly recommend the forum for information and support! A great group.

Here's an overview movie:

Here's a nice hatch:

The kids made their own video of one of the hatchings.
We had many friends over that day to see the amazing miracles!

They were such cute fluff balls and fun to watch and play!
This was the best 'science project' ever, I highly recommend it.

next post: rats.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Egg Slumber Party

So, our eggs started to wiggle and pip [made little holes] on Tuesday. We were on egg watch! We decided to sleep in the room w/them so could keep an eye on them. Wednesday morning the first ones were hatched. Last night we had fluffy baby chicks to watch as well, so a second night on the floor. Even though we are still hoping a few more hatch, we've given up on sleeping down here. Other than waking up early, we didn't wake up, nor did we miss anything.

The brown thing is a towel covering the 'brooder' where the hatched chicks are being kept warm. It's really a lizard tank w/ heat lamp.
Three of my kids on the floor and I slept on the couch, lol. Okay, I DID check on the eggs several times throughout the last 2 nights.

Here are the fluffy chicks bedded down for the night. [5 of them, can you count them?]

chicken little

Well it's the end of day 22 of incubation [21 is 'standard'] and we have NINE! baby chicks. They are coming in all colors and sizes, from 'tiny' to 'humongous' and from 'tuxedo' to 'chipmunk.'

We also have 1 still working on hatching and 6 eggs just sitting there. [crossing fingers]

Waiting for these last ones has been very stressful for me! I am taking it harder than the kids! Here I am still up, sitting next to the incubator! Even so, this has been the BEST science project by far! I highly recommend it.

Soon our project will be done and our babies will go on to have happy chicken lives on the farm.

Here's some pictures of our babies:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And They Hatch! . . .

Okay, so we went to sleep in the living room. Egg # 12 was being so slow [which is totally normal] we decided to sleep. Around 4:45am we woke up to discover that he had 'zipped,' which is when they make the hole go half way [or more] around the egg shell. He was pushing on it, then resting. It looked like hatching was imminent! Across the incubator, during the night, egg #1 had quietly zipped around the underside of the egg! He pushed much harder and hatched out about 30 minutes ahead of Egg #12!! Because we were watching #12, I put my iphone on the window over #1 and got this great video of his hatch. He looks pretty pathetic, but already is fluffing up nicely along with his hatchmate. We have 5 more pips we are watching. . . With 14 more eggs to go This could take another 24-48 hours!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chicken Sono!!

We are SOOOO excited we could BUST!! I decided that just before 'lockdown', I'd candle all the eggs and see what we could see. About 3 days before hatch date, incubation instructions state to stop turning the eggs, add water to the troughs for humidity, close the lid and DO NOT OPEN 'TIL CHRISTMAS After Hatch. This was Sunday, March 6, 2011 for us.
Candling, if you read earlier posts, is when you shine a bright light on one end of the egg, which allows you to see what's going on inside. I thought it a perfect send off into 'lockdown.'
To candle all 18 safely without damaging them, I wanted to be very organized. I set up the 'candle' [lamp w/ cardboard and foam], egg carton, 'refrigerator control egg,' and kids lined up sitting down quietly. We had some friends over, which made it extra special. I took 6 or so eggs at a time [in 3 batches, using the egg carton]. The eggs are numbered, so we could mark down what we saw in each egg:

This is our 'candle' a desk lamp w/ strong light and 'egg' surface.

The bright bottom is the air sack. You can see some veining and lastly, the dark stuff is a baby chick. Most of them actually moved too! It was too cool.

Our results: Out of 18 eggs.
10 had moving, living chicks
6 looked like the dark mass and air sack, no veining or moving [might just be dark colored eggs]
2 looked underdeveloped and so probably died early on
Not a bad % for our very first hatch. We'll have to see what actually hatches though, because you know what they say about counting chickens. . .

Stay Tuned!


We are very excited and unable to concentrate on much else! It's almost our baby chicks' due date and we're getting some action. At least enough to keep us coming back!. Early this morning I decided to just check on them since I was awake and several of the eggs were wiggling and jumpy!. Then at 8:40am egg #12 developed a little beak hole. The cool thing about egg #12 is that it was one of the 'maybe' too dark eggs- so now we have proff that they were indeed too dark, but really do have chicks in there!

We can see the little beak in there moving and it pokes at the hole every now and then. Not as much wiggling, but a little bit. I think maybe they prefer to wiggle in the stillness of the night, just like most babies. :)

Okay, it's now about 10:00pm tuesday. The chick has made the hole slightly bigger and doing a lot of chirping! We also got our second pip!! Egg #1 has just made a small crack!
We're sleeping in the living room with them so we can be close if any more action occurs.

Here's Egg # 12 as of 9:37 on 3/8/11:

And here's a little movie: [my daughter is reading a book to us as we watch the egg!]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Shadow Knows. . .

that she's just hanging around, but I sure hope our elderly neighbor didn't see this! She might call animal control, lol.

I am remiss in my promise to upload photos of the pet rat that will be my son's science fair project. [He's going to attempt to train her to do tricks and make a video demo of it]
Since he has her pretty well tamed, he does let her run loose in his room frequently. Today he was outside and happened to see this image in his bedroom window:

I promise. Sweeter photos to follow. . .
Ok, today is day 14 [out of 21] and the cracked egg looks the same, so we're holding out hope for the little guy. Of course, there's the possibility it was a dud egg all along. Only time will tell. 1 more week. We have not done any more candling because of fear of more injury, but I'm considering. . . so vote in comments, should I look or not?? :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Little Swimmer!

My dh attempted to video tape me candling eggs. Next time we won't invite the kids, lol. All the eggs we looked at had little black dots moving around!! So it was very exciting and happy. These are baby chicks on day 6 of incubation:


Well, today was a sad day. When we turned the eggs first thing this morning, we dropped and cracked one of the eggs. I immediately put tape on it and did a google search. Funny thing is, people have successfully hatched a cracked egg!! Maybe not two weeks out. . . but still. Later, I accidentally got water on it, which was then trapped in the tape. So I took off the tape. [No more damage done thankfully.] And melted some candle wax on it; an idea I found on a chicken website. I tried to candle it to see if there even was a live baby chick inside, but these darn green/blue eggs are not candling nicely!! Not even on other days when we tried candling.
Here's our egg: Hoping it can last!! Not sure if I want to do any more candling and risk handling the eggs. . . Maybe in a few days. . . For now, I'm just going to leave this one alone [other than turning] and pray for the best:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Candling Eggs"

YAY! We attempted our first candling this evening and were super spastic excited!
Candling is when you shine a bright light through the egg so you can see what's going on inside. Kind of like 'ultrasound' for chicks. We used a bright desk lamp with a movable neck and I made a cardboard table with a small cutout for the light to shine on the egg. This way, we were able to set the egg down on the 'holder' and take pictures!. We only candled three eggs tonight and all of them looked good! It is normal to loose a bunch- especially first timers like us, so the fact that we randomly picked three good ones out of 18 seems like a great sign to us!
Here's one, but I bet my husband's photos were better. I'll try to get them up too.
The spidery veins and dark spot is the developing chicken:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let the Incubation Begin-

So, I have avoided posting until I really had something cool to share, lol. Well, happily, now I do and not a day too soon: For my 2 Second Graders, I decided they could incubate some chicken eggs for the annual homeschool science fair. On one of our local lists is a homeschool mom that RENTS the incubators AND the eggs. Once you are done- you can give them back. It's a really cool idea as it just makes its seem so much more assessable. I picked up the eggs, incubator, chick food and water [for after hatching] and the instructions. It's a simple styrofoam electric incubator w/ no turner. We set it up and left it overnight [I moved it a couple of times] and next morning added the eggs. Since we'll be turning the eggs, we marked them with Xs and Os on opposite sides to keep track of their rotation. Saturday we will start 'candling' with a bright lamp covered w/ cardboard. . . The incubation process takes about 21 days. . . and I'll keep you 'posted' right here!

We have eggs from at least 3 different types of chickens:

Here Cordell is marking the Xs and Os as we add them to the incubator. Melodie did some too.

Next, I'll try to post photos of turning the eggs and candling. . . stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ready, Set, Go. . . Umm, not quite

I love taking 'vacation' from 'homeschool!' I'm not so good about getting back into it. Thus my kids are not so good at it either. I had planned to have the first 2 weeks in January be 'half-time' weeks to ease into it. Well, it's turning out to be more like 1/32nds or something. We are all recovering from days and days of staying up all night and recuperating from sinus infections. [I don't know why, but we love to stay up all night- despite the disadvantages] We still have a few 'special events' during this time too. I always celebrate my birthday [1/5] usually extending it the entire week if I can manage to. [out w/ my older girls, out w/ the youngest kids, out w/ my girlfriends, out w. my dh. . . you get the idea] So that's a distraction. And Next Week my oldest leaves for Navy Bootcamp. [boo. :(] So lots of distractions there too. I really want to get back into the normal routine, but not if it's just going to be disrupted again!. We did do Latin w/ our friends on Monday and maybe we'll tackle a few things Thursday and Friday. Next week, I hope to to do at least as much. Happy New Year!