Monday, May 28, 2012

A Very Different Sort of Queendom

It seems like that somewhere along the line, it was predetermined that we would just march to the beat of our own drum.  Everything that we do, no matter how simple or complex, leads us back to our own little ways of doing things.  This has actually been a good situation for us, but sometimes I think that maybe it's just weird. 

For example, the Four Princesses and I have been self employed as a family for a very long time.  Our self declared jobs have included things like cleaning houses, baby sitting, and other odd jobs, until our pursuits became more creative and began to include art, crafts, crochet, and a baton twirling line. 

Since Melody is majoring in business administration, we thought that it would be fun if she got into a  party plan business for an easy introduction to entrepreneurship.  She was totally excited about the whole situation, considering that there was little investment required, and the product looked like a lot of fun.  Imagine our surprise when we determined for ourselves that the product is shoddy, no good, and we can't feel right about offering it to any of our family and friends any more.  Wow!  I'm so disappointed.  The small investment feels a lot bigger when it's money that's been wasted. 

The fact of the matter is that God gave us all some amazing talents that we are supposed to use, and it probably isn't wise for us to try to piggy back on somebody else's talents or lack thereof.  Baton twirling was my first love, and I am getting back into it full force this season.  To tell you the truth, once I started advertising and getting our music together, I discovered that I have never been so excited about anything as I am right now.  I joined the United States Twirling Association and the local chamber of commerce, and it feels like everything is going exactly as it should.  Princess Melody is now old enough to help teach the class, and that will double our power to serve the princesses that we will have the honor of teaching. 

We, as a family, agreed to start a business called Bling.  There is not a single reason why we shouldn't move forward with each and every plan that we have for Bling.  We are all artists of some sort here, and we have the abilities to make a living doing the things that we love the most.  Why the heck not????  With this awareness, all that I can do is give thanks to Jesus, because it seems that I existed for a few years waiting for someone to give us permission to really live.  Nevermore! 

Discovering the bad investment and bad product gave me a new awareness.  We are different for a reason.  I can't say what that reason is, but I can say that if Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, and Madam Curie were just like everybody else, and did things just like everybody else did them, then we might not have a lot of the conveniences that we get to enjoy today.  We have our own talents, our own product lines, and our own hopes and dreams.

We are: The Four Princesses, The Sparklers Baton Twirling Corps, and founders of Bling.  Thanks to God for not taking his hand off of our efforts, even when we didn't have the faith to get started. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mama and Me.....Continued

Mama was the kind of person that did as she liked about things, and didn't care what anybody else thought or said.  I didn't have nearly as much starch in my backbone as she had, but she put up with me, anyway.  It seemed like her tough spirit and my.....well.....not nearly as tough spirit, worked well together.  I think that part of the reason that we became the best of friends after I got past my tumultuous teen years was that we were exact opposites. 

For example, she smoked, and I was into natural home remedies.  She told me once, "You'd better take down your shingle before you kill the entire family!"  In other words, I needed to quit playing doctor after I treated the King's gall bladder attack with apple cider vinegar.  Oops! 

Also, even in her younger years (those years of my childhood), she wasn't much of a go getter, and I am one of THOSE moms that wants to do everything.  One afternoon, during one of our rides around town, she sensed my urgency to finish the ride so that I could rush off to some obligation that I had for that day.  Annoyed, she turned to me and said, "I think that you have ADHD.  I think you've had it for years!  Next time you go to the doctor, you tell her to give you some medicine." 

In an emergency, Mama always knew what to do, but I tend to go completely crazy.  There was the time that something happened to my family that, at the time, seemed like the end of the world.  I called Mama, and when she answered the phone, I was so upset that I couldn't speak.  Those eyes in the back of her head must have been able to see through the phone, because she said, "It's ok, Baby.  Whatever it is.............just come on home." 

When I told her over the phone that we had decided to withdraw Melody from school for homeschooling, her frank reply was, "Well, that's just stupid!"  Yet, she still became my greatest ally in my efforts to homeschool while working overtime.   A lot of homeschooling went on at her kitchen table and in her living room floor accompanied by bowls of chocolate ice cream and cartoons.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I want to extend a big hug to those of you that are celebrating Mother's Day without your mother today.  My birth mother wasn't up for the challenge of raising me, so my grandparents took me in and raised me as if I was their own child. 

Fast forward many years, and you will find Mama and I parked under a tree at a park that was near her house.  Every night after supper, I picked her up, and we went for a ride in my truck.  We went through our favorite drive through window to get a fountain drink, and then took a tour of our little town.  Mama couldn't see or walk very well, but she liked to get out of the house, and this gave us a chance to talk about whatever had gone on with us throughout the day.  Mama healed many family issues from the passenger side of my truck. 

Gas prices started to get the best of us, so we cut our rides short, and started taking our drinks to the park.  We sat on a park bench in the fresh air, and just enjoyed being there.

It wasn't long before it became too dangerous to try to walk Mama from the truck to the park bench, but she really valued our time together, so we stayed in the truck, parked under a tree.  Mama couldn't see well enough to read anymore, so I started bringing books with us for me to read out loud.  Some books taught us more about God and what we had to look forward to.  Other books made us laugh until tears streamed down our faces. 

One particularly late night, Mama started telling me about her life and things that she wished that she had done differently.  She confessed her sins and told me about how badly she missed her brothers and sisters that had already gone home.  Then, she asked, "If you could come back, what would you have different?"  I thought for a long time.  It was hard to decide, because so many aspects of my life had room for improvement.  Finally, I said, "I would like to have less emotional pain."  She said that she could certainly understand that.  Then, I said, "Remember when you thought that I was on drugs when I was in school?"  "Yeah," she replied.  "You just couldn't accept the fact that I was just a dumb kid.  I've never even had a cigarette!"  Mama turned to look at me, and then we both laughed so hard that people were passing by and looking at us as if we had finally cracked. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Homeschool Testing

Everybody around me seems to have testing on their minds at this particular time of the year, and I am often asked about how I know that we are finished with a particular course, or how do I know that my child passed from one grade to the next.  The Charlotte Mason method doesn't leave a lot of room for things like numerical grades.  There is very little that could actually be graded in the traditional sense, and the fact that Charlotte Mason teaches us to expect excellence, means that if a lesson isn't done correctly, then it isn't finished.  Therefore, there is really nothing to rate or grade other than things like grammar, spelling words, and math problems.  Be that as it may, we do have a simple way of testing how much a child knows about a given subject. Unlike most exams that are given in traditional classroom settings, there is nothing to jog her memory and no clues to help her answer the questions.  She is given blank paper with no multiple choices or fill-in-the-blanks for submitting her answers.  Without further ado, I'm going to share Abbey's final exam for 7th grade, which is Y6 on amblesideonline.

*In your own words, tell about your favorite character that you read about in your Bible reading this year.
*In your own words, tell about your favorite event that you read about in your Bible reading this year.

Write 2-4 lines of a poem that you read this year.

 I will read a paragraph of my choice, from a source of my choice, and her task to is write neatly with correct spelling.

Describe your favorite scene or character from a Shakespeare play that you read this year.

Underline the subject and circle the predicate in the following quote: (quote of my choice)

Tell all that you know about your favorite subject in U.S. History that you learned this year.

Tell all that you know about your favorite subject from World History that you learned this year.

Tell everything that you know about David Livingstone.

General Science:
Tell everything that you know about Einstein, Archimedes, or Galileo.  You may do one, two, or all of them.

Tell all that you know about Plutarch.

Describe your favorite picture from this year's picture study.

**Criteria based on the math program that we used this year.

As you can see, there is no room for "cramming" for a test.  There are no test questions to memorize.  The test is to show how much the student knows rather than trying to prove how much she doesn't know.  She can not take this test if she didn't establish the habit of paying attention to her studies, because there is nothing anywhere on any part of this test that could assist her in any way.  She can't cheat, because the answers require too many details.  In order to pass, she has to have actually spent some time reading and learning about each topic.

Happy Testing!