Thursday, December 13, 2012

SchoolhouseTeachers.Com Review

The folks at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine have put forth a new venture: I've been exploring the site, and whether you are a seasoned homeschooler looking to fill some gaps in your current curriculum, or a new homeschooler wondering where to begin, you will find great information and resources at! The goal is to have everything you need to homeschool your children, from kindergarten through graduation, in one place, at a price you can afford. The teachers are experts in their field, and many are names I recognized: Michelle Miller, Terri Johnson, and Diana Waring, just to name a few. aims to be a versatile resource, and you can use it not only from your desktop or laptop, but from your mobile device as well. I could, conceivably, run my entire school day using my iPad. If you want printable lesson plans, each lesson is set up to download as a PDF file. (Well, not the videos. That would be tricky.)  You can do whatever works best for you - paper you can hold in your hand, or electronic format.

The site debuted back in March 2012, and has already grown significantly. There are 24 subject areas, including everything from core subjects like grammar, math and science, to great opportunities like film making and college choice guidance. In addition to teaching materials, they offer plenty of extras for the teacher, too, like access to ALL FIVE Schoolhouse Planners. The Schoolhouse Planner for the teacher is normally $39.95, and the student planners vary in price. That alone is a great value for the price of your membership!

One thing I *loved* at first sight was the Monthly Reading List by Michelle Miller. Michelle is the author of Truthquest History, and has a private lending library of living books in Michigan. I am delighted to have access to her monthly recommendations, both for library visits and as possible books to add to our home library. She gives books for all ages, and I can see all of my children enjoying the books, whether I was reading to them, or my big girls were reading to my little boy.

Another feature that I would find immensely helpful is the daily checklist. In my never-ending struggle to become more organized, I find checklists to be so useful. Because of the volume of information on the site, I can see that having the checklist handy would be the ticket to keeping me on track and remembering to do each thing I wanted to cover with my children.

One feature I'd like to point out is the Special Needs section. There are lessons available for parents with a struggling/special needs student, to help you learn how to work with them at their level, choosing the right curriculum, etc. I know many families with at least one special needs child. If I were figuring out some issues with one of my students, this would be a huge help, I would think.

In our Charlotte Mason homeschool, there would have to be some tweaking for us to use this as our primary curriculum. I could use the history section, for example, but I would use the timeline and find living books for us to read and discuss. There are some great activities that go along with the history studies that I would certainly pull in. The copywork, as given, is great for handwriting practice, but I would want to pull it from our readings. I would be the "seasoned homeschooler" that doesn't need a full curriculum, but could find lots to use.

It's impossible for me to completely describe this website in a brief review. I hope take a look for yourself. The cost for membership is $1 for the first month, and $5.95 for each month after that. Right now, they're running a special promotion, which includes a 1-year membership for only $49, AND  you also will receive the Old Schoolhouse 2013 Annual Print Book and a TOS tote bag. I love tote bags. Do you love tote bags? Can you ever have enough tote bags? Oh dear, I may be wandering a bit off the point. There are some other nice bonus gifts that you would receive with your membership, too. Head on over and check it out!


Disclaimer: I received a free membership to in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Some of My Favorite Christmas Books

Continuing along the same vein as my previous post, I thought I'd share some of my very favorite picture books to read with my children during the Christmas season. I have had a passion for children's books since long before I had children of my own, and have collected quite a stack of Christmas books. The ones I will mention here are not new for 2012, but they are such beautiful stories, I hope you'll take a look.

A fairly recent discovery of mine, which I learned about from someone at the Well-Trained Mind forums, is Santa's Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas by Hisako Aoki.
I confess that we don't "do" Santa. My girls asked me years ago if Santa was real, and I had to tell them no. I love the idea of Santa, and we watch all the Santa Christmas specials (and own most of them on DVD), but we prefer to focus on the birth of Christ at Christmas. However, this book touched my heart and I love to read it aloud. In the story, Santa goes for a walk in the woods, ends up farther away than he realizes, and sits down to take a nap. The forest animals come across him sleeping, and become quite concerned, because it's Christmas Eve, and they are sure there can be no Christmas without Santa. When Santa wakes up, he soothes their fear and tells them of the first Christmas when Jesus was born. The illustrations are lovely watercolors, which add to the charm of the book.

Another favorite is called The Greatest Gift by Melody Carlson. This book is about a little angel named Grace. As the time for Jesus to be born on earth approaches, God asks for an angel to volunteer to be the star that shines in the heavens to light the Son's way. The angels are reluctant to volunteer, because they have to give up the glory of heaven, and whoever becomes the start won't be an angel anymore. Grace cannot bear the thought of the Son going to earth alone, so she comes forward. After the star is done shining, it falls to earth, and becomes a stone. Grace is still aware of everything, even as a falling star and then as a rock. She ends up being the stone that covers the door of Christ's tomb. This story has a fantastic ending, and I don't want to spoil it for you. It's out of print, but perhaps you can find it at the library, or even purchase it used. It's worth owning.

The last one I will mention here is called The Littlest Angel, by Chris Tazewell. This story is about a little boy who died on earth and is now an angel in heaven. He has a hard time being an angel and doing all the things angels are supposed to do; he wasn't really ready to be done being a little boy. He is allowed to return to earth and retrieve a box of his special mementos from earth, and that helps him settle in to heaven a bit better. As Christ is preparing to leave heaven to be born on earth, all the angels want to present Him with a gift. The one He chooses as His favorite is what makes this story so precious. I cry every time I read this book. I hope you have the opportunity to read it with your family.

These three are at the top of my list. I have many more Christmas books that I love, and I may pull them out and share them with you sometime, but if you're looking for some new stories to read with your family this year, these are wonderful!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A New Christmas Book Find

We go to Sam's Club every weekend to do the bulk of our grocery shopping, and I always look at the books. I don't often find anything exciting, but occasionally I come across something worth having. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I found The Miniature World of Peter Rabbit. These wee books contain original pictures and unabridged text, and I simply could not resist getting them for my littlest niece, who loves tiny things, like I do. I am sure she will enjoy hearing these lovely Beatrix Potter stories, assuming her parents can read the miniscule print. Ha.

This week, I found The Twelve Days of Christmas in North Carolina. At first glance, I thought it would be silly, but as I went through it, I was pleasantly surprised. There is a lot of great information about our state in this book, and it's written in a lovely narrative style. It starts out with a little girl named Abby receiving a letter from her cousin, Mark, stating that her Christmas gift this year is a trip to NC to hang out with him and his mom. They proceed to fly all over the state, visiting some of the tourist highlights, and also working in things like the state bird (cousin Mark has a pet cardinal), state flower (dogwood), state insect (the honeybee), and the state carnivorous plant (the Venus flytrap). I had no idea there was such a thing as a state carnivorous plant. She even mentions some festivals, including the Statesville Balloon Festival, which we attended this past October. Abby describes her trip to her parents by writing them a letter each day, describing what she's done.

I don't often come across contemporary books that qualify as living books, but I like this one. I learned things about NC I didn't know, just skimming through it. This book is one in a series called "Twelve Days of Christmas in America," and as far as I can tell, there are 20 books available so far. You might check and see if your state is available. I like the North Carolina book, and will probably also get Michigan book, since Todd and I are Michigan natives. I may try to collect the series, because I think they are nifty!

If you love Christmas books like I do, this one is worth checking out. You're not going to find anything about "the reason for the season," but you will learn about North Carolina and some reasons you might want to visit. If it makes you feel better, consider it a geography lesson.

Edit: I just read this to Isaac, and on day 5, they talk about shipwrecks and pirates. They tell the legend of Blackbeard, and how his head was cut off and hung on the prow of a ship, and that his ghost is still there. I have no idea why this is mentioned in a Christmas book, and Isaac didn't bat an eye, but I thought I'd mention it.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

When I first heard about homeschooling, my oldest child was getting ready to enter Kindergarten. When I was young, children went to Kindergarten for half a day. Nowadays, most public schools have full-day programs for 5-year-olds, and I must confess, I was not impressed with the idea of sending my girlie away from me for that many hours per week. The friend who introduced me to the idea of homeschooling also introduced me to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. What a blessing it was, when considering homeschooling for the very first time, to read a magazine filled with articles written by people who actually knew what they were doing! I had a subscription, and it was lovely. It's a magazine for Christian homeschoolers, and I appreciated the words of faith and encouragement I found there from people who were in the trenches, so to speak, doing this thing that scared me even as I knew God was leading me down the path to teach my children at home.

Alas, I am *terrible* about reading magazines. I love the idea of them, but somehow, I never quite get around to reading them. After a while, I let my subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine lapse. I tried ripping out the articles I enjoyed, thinking I would file them. Guess what? That never happened either. I ended up recycling everything when the paper mess became too much to deal with.

Enter The Old Schoolhouse ELECTRONIC FORMAT! There are some smart people in charge of The Old Homeschoolhouse these days, and not only have they gone paperless, but every issue is FREE. That's right: FREE. You can read to your heart's content online (see The Old Schoolhouse Magazine December issue), or download a free app for your Apple, Kindle or Android device. You can also download a PDF to your computer, if you prefer. I have been reading on my iPad, and it's wonderful. I can bookmark articles, and share them via email, Facebook or Twitter. Since I have the magazine on my iPad, it's easy to take with me, so I can read anywhere, any time.

When I started reading the December issue, I was beyond thrilled to find spelling and grammar are highlighted with several articles. My passions are spelling and grammar - just ask my husband and children. Ruth Beechick discusses "Who Needs Grammar?" (p. 66). I love this quote: "Children use mostly correct grammar as they copy the speech of the people around them." This is true, particularly the "mostly" part. I am a linguist by education, and I find child language acquisition fascinating. That is a post for another day, perhaps. (Then again, maybe not.) Her final paragraph is interesting:

The word grammar sounds scary. And some of it is complex. But it really is not hard. Children use mostly correct grammar as they copy the speech of the people around them. Later on, then, it is fairly easy to learn from grammar books the definitions and rules for grammar. The books just describe what the children already use and understand.

I will have to ponder that. I would not say that my children find grammar easy at this point in their education. She suggests that many parents start too early teaching grammar; I don't think it's too early for my girls, who are in 6th & 7th grades, but we're not having an easy go of it. I'm considering looking for a different program, even though I was excited about the one I chose.

There is an entire article on when to use lie vs. lay ("Lie or Lay . . . Which Word Should I Say?", p. 68), with an extra inset on effect vs. affect. The very next article is on the parts of speech ("Parts of Speech: Building Blocks of Beautiful Sentences", p. 72), and later on, I found "The Spelling Apologist: Why Good Spelling Is Essential and How to Select the Right Curriculum" (see p. 98).

The main focus of the issue is high school: options for homeschool graduates, financial aid, preparing for college - even what a homeschool mom might do when this stage of her life is done. I confess that these articles make me panic a little because I am not quite ready to think about any of my babies leaving home, but with a child in 7th grade, it's not as far off as I'd like to believe. I need to "go there."

Perhaps the most fun article for me to read is titled "Astronomy in The Hobbit," written by Jay Ryan, author of Classical Astronomy. The girls and I are currently reading The Hobbit, and are trying to finish before the movie comes out. I'm also trying to establish astronomy as a family hobby. To be honest, I paid no attention to the details discussed in the article, but as I read them, I thought, "How COOL!" and I will most definitely point them out to the girls. I will likely have them read the article, but not until we've read past all the parts mentioned from the book. I don't want to spoil the story!

Overall, this is a great magazine for Christian homeschoolers. There are well-written articles of encouragement and information written by people who are well-known in the realm of home education, from all different paradigms: classical, unit study, Charlotte Mason, and so on. There are excellent reviews of curricula and other products that homeschoolers may find useful. I hope you will take a look and see what there might be in it for you.

Click the link to check out reviews by The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew!

--> Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Advent Traditions - What Are Yours?

At our local homeschool co-op, during a "free" hour, some moms were discussing what we do for Advent.  I have a confession: I don't do much.

I have wonderful intentions. I have Jesse Tree books, Advent calendars, Advent devotionals, and an Advent wreath. I want to do ALL THE THINGS. What typically happens is that I try to do several things and none of them get done. Last year, for example, I tried to have the girls work through a Bible study with me, and make Jesse tree ornaments while reading a book, along with reading another book. We finished none of them.

Back before we had kids, Todd's mom made us this beautiful Advent calendar. I love it, and I particularly appreciate that it has wooden ornaments that don't break when they hit the floor. When small people are trying to hang them, you're going to have a few misses and some are going to fall. These have held up very well, and it's an extra-special thing because Grammy made it for us.

My sister-in-law, Jennifer, gave us this beautiful Advent calendar one year. Her mom, Mary, made it. It is beautiful. I don't have words to describe how much I love it. However, the ornaments are ceramic, and they *do* break when dropped. I'm sure you can guess how I know that. Sigh. I haven't been hanging it these past few years. Isaac is a little too enthusiastic, and doesn't have a great deal of self-restraint when it comes to things like this. I can see him collecting all the little ornaments in his garbage truck and driving them merrily around the house, dumping them when necessary. It would not bode well for those fragile pretties.

Another idea I love is the Inductive Advent Study by Eleanor Zweigle. I've taken an inductive Bible study, and it's a fascinating way to study the Word. We did try it last year, and didn't make it all the way through. I think we will wait another year or two, until Isaac is ready to work through it with us, before trying this again as a family.

My current plan is to hang Grammy's Advent calendar, and have the children take turns hanging the ornaments. Also, we will read Jotham's Journey, one of three books written for the Advent season by Arnold Ytreeide. I've heard lots of good things about these books, and hope that we will enjoy reading through this first one together.

A wonderful resource for Advent ideas is my friend Jennifer's blog, Advent Idea Box. She and her husband have put it together, and it's a wonderful collection of resources for Advent. I may try to pull out some of her craft ideas.

I hope you are gearing up for a joyous holiday season with your family! Do you have any Christmas/Advent traditions you'd like to share? I would love to hear them!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Homeschool and Co-Ops

One of the "big" questions I hear from other homeschoolers is whether or not they should join a co-op. A homeschool co-op is a place where classes are offered for homeschool students, usually taught by homeschool parents (most often moms). Occasionally we might have a teacher who is not a parent, if we find someone willing to teach an area out of our expertise. It's a great resource, and a good place to hang out with other homeschool families.

In our area, we have a great co-op. My kids have enjoyed going, and we've made some friends, which has been a HUGE blessing to us since moving here two years ago. However, as the girls get older, I find that while it's good for social purposes, it's not accomplishing things that we aren't getting done at home. In fact, it's making more work for me, because I teach two classes. Truly, I have no criticisms of our group, but over time, I've seen that it has not been working well for our family.

At the CLUSA conference this past June, Nancy Kelly met with some of us to discuss a Charlotte Mason-style co-op, or community. Hers is called Truth, Beauty, Goodness. Isn't that lovely? She described what they do, and told us that her group meets and covers things that we all find it too easy to let slide: Shakespeare, poetry, folk songs, hymns, composer study, artist study, handicrafts, and nature study. Until this year, I didn't know any other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers in the area, so I was not sure that we would ever be able to participate in such a group.

However, God answers prayer, and I met my friend Sara at the conference, who lives quite close to me and has 5 boys. They live out in the country off a dirt road with lots of nature and chickens. We have been meeting twice a month for our own little CM group, and it has been LOVELY. I can't tell you what a difference this has made for our homeschool and our family.

We printed off the schedule from the Truth, Beauty, Goodness group, and follow that for the most part. We've made a few small changes; we start later, for one thing, because neither of our families gets going quite as early in the day as 8:30 am. We listen to our composer's music while we do our handicraft, because we're studying Debussy and no one likes just listening to the music. Heh. We're talking about perhaps changing things up a bit and doing nature study in a different time slot, because we've found at the end of our day, sometimes our little people have had enough and we don't quite get to it.

For the most part, though, it's working very well. We've been reading and listening to Shakespeare's  Merchant of Venice. We were fortunate enough to be able to see the play in August, and I think that has helped the kids understand the readings quite a bit. We're able to talk about what we saw in the play, and that's a fun shared memory.

Our poet is Emily Dickinson. I'm using the Poetry for Young People book, and found some riddle poems, which we have enjoyed. (Our first poem was "Hope is the Thing with Feathers," because it has a special place in my heart from the CLUSA conference. There is a lovely song that goes along with the poem, and all the kids enjoyed that.)

We've been using the Ambleside Online selections for most things. Our artist for the term is Renoir. Our handicraft, thanks to Sara, has been calligraphy, and I've enjoyed that a lot. The kids have struggled with it a bit, but it's been good for them. We're choosing our own folk songs, and so far we've learned This Land is Your Land, Mairi's Wedding, If I Had a Hammer, and Where Have All the Flowers Gone. Sara is choosing our hymns, and we have learned Dona Nobis Pacem (in a round - lovely), Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and And Can It Be that I Should Gain.

All the children enjoy our time together, and I have to say that having 5 boys to play with has been great for Isaac. We've all been making our own connections, and it has been such fun! For example, Renoir, Debussy, and Emily Dickinson were all "rule breakers" in their genres. I didn't know that when we started out, and it's been fun to look and listen for the ways in which they break their rules. We learned about slanted rhyme in poetry, and look for that in each poem.

Overall, it's been a great experience. There is one more family interested in joining us, and I'm excited about that. I hope, in time, to be able to include more people.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Scents of Autumn - Homemade Apple Sauce

I love fall. It vies with spring for my favorite season of the year. It's become ever more dear to me since moving to the south, because it brings cooler temperatures and a blessed reduction of the intense humidity. I love the sound and smell of autumn leaves as Isaac and I crunch through them on our "nature walks." (These involve the two of us each pulling a wagon through our yard and picking up sticks, leaves and acorns.) And, I love to make homemade apple sauce! I don't want an apple-smelling candle - I want the real thing.

This year, a friend picked up a box of Winesap apples for me when she went to an orchard, as I didn't think I would have a chance to go. Then, another friend wanted to get some Pink Lady apples, so the kids and I tagged along, and we got a box of Pink Ladies as well as a bag of Fujis. This added up to a large quantity of apples in my garage. Time to get cooking!

My husband does not like "chunks" in his apple sauce. After we were married, his mom gave me his grandmother's Foley food mill. I had never seen one before. Have you? It looks like a little pot with a piece of a propeller inside.

The blade squishes the applesauce through the sieve-like holes in the bottom, keeping the peels inside the pot. It's a wonderful tool. I love that I don't have to peel the apples first. My sister-in-law told me once that she is "lazy," and doesn't want to use a food mill, so she peels all her apples first. Her family doesn't mind the chunks. That's not lazy! Peeling apples is time-consuming work! I would rather not peel them and use the food mill.

I've made many batches of apple sauce using my "vintage" device. However, Grandma Hollmann's old food mill has been dripping rust into my applesauce for the last few years, and I finally decided to replace it. (Also, it makes my arms very tired.)

There is a fabulous website that tells you what produce is in season in your area, and where you can go to Pick Your Own. They also describe any equipment you need, as well as providing instructions for preserving. While I was looking for places to pick apples, I saw this wonderful attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

It is called a Fruit and Vegetable Strainer. You have to have the grinder attachment to go with it, and I had that, also thanks to Todd's mom, who gave one to me several years ago for Christmas. You put two bowls under it: one to catch the applesauce, and one to catch the peels.

I tried this out for the first time yesterday, and I LOVE it! It makes apple sauce much more quickly than using the Foley. Even with a sick boy, I was able to make three batches yesterday. After the first batch, I thought I might need to run it through the strainer twice, because I thought I saw apple still in with the peels. I tried that, and ended up with bits of peel in the sauce. Not what I was going for.  The old Foley is a great tool; you can keep turning that handle until every last bit of apple is off the peel. However, the KitchenAid attachment is a great time-saver, and doesn't drip rust, which is a major point in its favor.

The best part of getting locally-grown apples is not having to add any sugar to the apple sauce. I just throw in a cinnamon stick while it's cooking. Winesaps and Pink Ladies are listed on the Pick Your Own site as "good" for apple sauce, as they are not as sweet as some varieties, but since they were ripened on the tree, they are plenty sweet enough for us. I don't have a particular "recipe" that I use, but so far, I've used 5 Fuji apples and 10 Winesap apples per batch. The kids decided they'd rather eat the Pink Ladies, so I will save those for last if we don't get them eaten quickly enough.

Can you get apples in your area? Do you make homemade apple sauce? If you've never tried it, you should consider it. It's not difficult, and it's so much better than anything you can get in a store.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

CLUSA Conference, June 2012

When I first began learning about Charlotte Mason and her educational principles, I found a wonderful group of women who helped me so very much, and told me about the Childlight USA conference that has been held at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC. This year was, I believe, my 4th time attending, and it was every bit as wonderful as all the others.

On Wednesday, June 6, the conference officially started in the evening, but I was able to go early and attend a Multi-Age Homeschool Immersion Group, taught by Nancy Kelly. She has been homeschooling her 6 children using Charlotte Mason's methods for 15 years, and is a wonderful teacher. She did a fantastic job of taking us through the elements of a school day. We covered several topics: Bible, geography, poetry, science, folksong, Shakespeare, copywork, citizenship, picture study, and hymn. All of the people who attended the class were treated as students, and called on to participate through narration, acting out Shakespeare, singing and even a science experiment! What I loved the most was seeing different ways of doing things. She had us do picture narrations for science, for example. Truthfully, we haven't done a lot of science in our homeschool, but it was fun to read my assignment (from The Story-Book of Science) and draw pictures. It was encouraging to see that a living science book, one written in a narrative form, could be so full of scientific information. I also appreciated seeing the books she used. Nancy has a passion for seeking out the most living books on a subject, and it's always a joy to read what she shares. After the "class" portion of the session, we got back together in our group and discussed how it went, and had the opportunity to ask any questions.

There were 6 plenary sessions, or lectures for all conference attendees. We heard Margaret Coombs, who is working on a new biography of Charlotte Mason. You can read more about her here. The second plenary was given by Deani and Meghan Van Pelt, on "L'Umile Pianta," a newsletter that was published for Charlotte Mason's teachers once they graduated and moved on to their teaching careers, as a way of keeping in touch and offering encouragement. It was interesting to see what they felt it important to include in such a newsletter. You can read a little more about that here.  The 3rd session was the Eve Anderson Nature Study Lecture, in which we heard from Tina Thomas on birding, and on some of the things she does with her passion for birding in NC. I got some good ideas from her for things to do with my children. The 5th plenary (we will revisit #4) was given by Art Middlekauf on Charlotte Mason's theology. You can read a little more about that here. Professor Carroll Smith, of Gardner-Webb University, gave a talk on the sabbath of learning that was quite wonderful. Some preliminary thoughts on his talk are here. I hope that he will put his talk online so you can hear it.

My favorite plenary talk this year (#4) was given by Makoto Fujimura. He is an artist, specializing in the ancient Japanese art form Nihonga. His work is stunning. His book, Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture, was on our suggested reading list for last year, but I didn't read it. I don't generally care for abstract art, and didn't consider reading the book. This year, though, when he was going to be a plenary speaker, I grudgingly decided to give the book a try. It is amazing. I was not able to finish it before the conference, but Mako has a beautiful spirit and a wonderful gift that he shares with the world. He spoke of his work illuminating the four Holy Gospels, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. (For some reason, he worked on the ESV version. This makes no sense to me. However, I digress.) He also spoke of culture care, which he defined as caring for our culture the way we have learned to care for our environment. I must confess, I'm not sure I fully grasp what he meant by culture care; I didn't come away with much practical information on how to DO it. However, he encouraged us to focus on what is good, true, and beautiful, because that is what rehumanizes all of us. 

A little "aside" - Charlotte Mason speaks often of children making connections in their learning - I had a "connection moment" about art while listening to Mako. I won't go into it here, but I was encouraged that I might not be a complete ignoramus about art forever.

In addition to plenary talks, I was able to participate in 5 workshops: "Commonplace Books," "Science in the Early Years," "Building a Living Books Library," "Self-Made Writer: Writing Development Without Writing Instruction in the CM Model," and "The Well-Balanced Mind." They were all fabulous, and I would love to share more with you if you're interested. Just let me know!

I had a lovely time at the conference, getting to know new people and reconnecting with friends I'd met in previous years. I made a new friend, Sara, who lives just 15 minutes from me, and homeschools her 5 boys. We are planning to start our own CM co-op, of sorts, so that our kids can play and we can try to cover all the topics Charlotte Mason felt were important. I also met Kerstin, who lives in South Carolina, but went to college in Michigan. Her best friend is from Bath, which is right up the road from where I grew up, and her best friend's father was my wedding photographer - and hers! 

This time away has become a refreshing, invigorating time for me each year. I came away this year with a dream of starting a library for living books in my area. When I told Todd, he wasn't even surprised! I guess it has something to do with the piles of books that are ever-present in our home.

I have notes, and notes, and notes from this conference, but don't want to write a novel of a blog post. I feel as though I've left so much out. I will have to go narrate it for myself, I suppose. Blessings to you! I hope you can join us at next year's conference.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nancy Kelly - Charlotte Mason and Homeschooling Consultant

I would like to tell you about my friend Nancy Kelly and her new consulting services. I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy last summer at the Charlotte Mason conference put on by ChildlightUSA at Gardner-Webb University. I participated in the class she taught on multi-age homeschool classes, and saw how she would handle different age levels. She made it look easy. I also met one of her sons who is now in college, and saw first hand the amazing results of a living education in that young man.

Nancy has been a homeschooler for 18 years, using Charlotte Mason's methods, and is offering her expertise to those who need encouragement and guidance as they learn to implement those methods into their own homeschool. I know that you will be blessed by your time with Nancy, and encourage you to shoot her an email if you think you might be interested in talking with her.

You can visit Nancy at her blog, Sage Parnassus, and find out more about her consulting services here.  She is currently offering some lovely books to one lucky reader, so you should definitely check that out and see if you want to enter the giveaway!