Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Happy Busy Busy Life!

Fall is swelling around us as piles of leaves grow ever higher, naked branches reach for a hazy October sky, and hues of orange, red and gold surround us making the backdrop blanket of snow on far off mountains appear to be pre-ordered simply to show off what sits in the foreground before it.

We are having some lovely, lovely days punctuated by whiffs of occasional wood stove pine scented smoke lingering in the air.  Colorado falls take on a life of their own...our colors are not New Hampshire or Vermont, definitely not the Smokey Mountains...it is quintessentially Colorado, when the warm fall sun makes you wonder why you wore a long sleeved tshirt until you step in the shade, or the slightest breeze reminds you that fall can be deceptive in the mountains, as winter waits to ease its way in.

The weeks have been filled with volleyball, school studies, and the anticipation of a slowed pace which is delightful and allows time for renewal of friendships.

This past weekend the kids had SO much fun!  What is happening at our church is exciting, and fills me with hope.  We are sharing space with four different groups, and this was an intentional coming together of three faith communities and a surprise fourth partner in the local Boys and Girls Club.  Having the opportunity to get to know folks in our local Quaker/Friends gathering, as well as a small Episcopal congregation has been rewarding on so many levels.  Many can't understand the ecumenical nature of such a partnership, as they tend to like dividing lines.  For me, it has been an enriching experience and one that, over time, will lead to greater spiritual growth, as well as the chance to reflect a different sort of dynamic in a community where ecumenical partnerships are not as common.

I loved how Kenny pulled me aside Sunday morning and asked if it would be OK if he attended the Quaker meeting, to learn more about how they worship.  I, of course, gave my consent and when he returned he was brimming with the need to share what he experienced.  "Mom," he said, "My head was quiet for maybe the first time ever.  Usually it never stops, but something happened during their quiet time, and it felt like everything slowed down for me...it was so cool!  I want to go more often, can I?"  This was while we had folks from the Episcopal community worshipping with us that same morning. What a gift it was to see this "cross pollination" happening, and it foreshadows lots of great things to come, I hope!

The kids had a bake sale during the rummage sale, so they were working double duty as they worked to raise more money for camp this coming summer.  Olesya is trying to feel more comfortable looking people in the eye and talking with them, and this is a perfect way for her to practice those skills! While the girls worked the bake sale table, the boys were busy as well. Kenny was amazing...he is a natural people person, and was able to approach strangers with ease and confidence, asking them if they need help or trying to find things for them. He was born to sell!  Matthew wandered around helping with carry outs, and packed things like a pro.  Joshua did a little of everything, and by the end of the day, the many adults and kids made light work of a big job.  The bake sale was a success with right at $100 raised, so everyone felt it was a successful tag on effort, thanks to the generosity of many people who kicked in a little extra with their muffin or cookie purchase.  Here are some pics, because I know you are dying to see our kids and a bake sale, right? Hahaha!:

Making signs while the boys...

Get serious about baking!  Well, sort of serious.  

Assembly line!

Kenny sharing the uncooked results.

Of course, Sunny was underfoot the entire time :-)  Dumb, lovable little mutt.

OK, time for the professionals to take over! Hahaha!

Aaaannndd...one of the boys grabbed the camera and surprised Angela!

And she hides while trying to still fill the muffins.

Uh, that's not going to work so well.

Preparing items for the rummage sale, while trying hard not to find more things to haul home.

Matthew, perusing yet more books.

Sorting clothes while the boys did books and videos.

The day of the sale!  Baked goods galore!

This coming weekend bodes well for family fun as well, with the end of the season volleyball tournament on Saturday, which will keep us busy the entire day!  There are team parties, and practice for me as I am two weeks away from my first concert with the DelRose Chorus, where I will be totally embarrassed as I sing and wear a 1950's style poodle skirt on stage.  Yea, me...in a poodle skirt...now that is a sight to miss! Haha!  How I have enjoyed singing with them, it has brought me a lot of joy to hear the tight barbershop harmonies on songs like "My Guy" and "When I'm Sixty Four".  It's a silly little thing,  I know, but we all need something that makes us smile.  So many hobbies for women do nothing but drive me batty and frustrate me!  This is pure fun and laughter, something I really hadn't realized I needed.

Another little thing I have been doing in my spare time (meaning late at night) is creating a new web site.  Blue Collar Homeschool is a web site where I have listed many curriculum options for those who are homeschooling for excellence of a different kind.  Most of the online homeschool forums and web sites put so much emphasis on incredibly high academic standards, and it often feels to me as if there is an inferiority complex that still exists within the homeschool community, manifesting itself in a strong desire to "show up" the public school crowd.  I wanted to create a place that highlighted that education at home didn't have to be solely for the college bound, but for kids of all kinds...those headed into the military, trade and tech schools, or straight into the working world. It seemed there was a need for information for those kinds of families, who want a good education for their kids, but whose kids are not necessarily headed straight to a four year university.  There are all kinds of options, and the fixation with college at all costs leaves large numbers of learners trying to fit into academic settings and curriculum that are not geared towards their future.

Statics show that as of 2012, about 41% of adults age 25 and older hold a college degree of some sort, from Associates to PhD, yet our schools focus almost exclusively on the college bound student.  Tell me, what about the other 59%?  Why is their education excluding their specific needs for more practical classes and career guidance?  They are somewhat invisible, and that bleeds over into homeschooling as well.

So, I created a web site with links to curriculum for elementary, high school, and post-high school students who are more likely to be trade and tech bound than college bound.  That doesn't mean their education has to be dumbed down, not by a long shot, but the emphasis is more life skills focused, practical knowledge, and not pounding hard sciences, upper level maths, etc. Shakespeare might be introduced, but not studied for an entire semester, writing skills are taught, but the ability to create a 30 page essay might be something that would not be required.  I will also be blogging there about education in general, not just homeschool issues, as I find the subject fascinating on all levels.  There will be no attempt to make money on it, as that gives me the freedom to speak more honestly about curriculum I like or dislike, etc. without fear of offending someone sponsoring the web site.  I know there are few who read this blog would be interested in such conversations, but if you'd like to take a peek at the web site out of curiosity, here is the link:

As we move more fully into fall, and the peace that seems to come along with it, I am trying to remind myself every day of the little joys, the sweetness of life itself. I hope you are finding the chance to do the same.

Blue Collar Homeschool...Homeschooling for the Rest of Us!!

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