Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Political Discussion - Controversial!

Okay, my neighbor got me started on political debates. LOL. She forwarded me a response that she received from a Kansas school board candidate in regards to a question on homeschooling. This candidate said he does know of good homeschooling families, but he also knows of very, very bad ones. He feels the Board of Education should have a lot more say in homeschooling, such as in approving choices for curriculum, and even in licensing homeschooling parents! All I could say in response to this man's e-mail was "Wow!" I cannot believe this candidate has things so backward. I know graduates from public schools who do not know how to count back change. I know of graduates from public schools who do not know how to carry on a conversation with a person who is out of their age bracket. I know of pubic school graduates who do not know basic history. And this man is saying that homeschools need to be more regulated to see if the bad homeschools are the norm? Excuse me, my mom always said someone should clean their own yard before starting to clean mine. The Kansas board of education should start with their own issues in their own schools before trying to jump into mine! Is homeschooling such a threat to public schools that the board of education feels the need to pull them down to the level of public schools? All I can say is that this man's opponent is definitely getting my vote on August 5!

Speaking of politics, does it sound horrible to say that I always pick candidates that I feel are homeschool-friendly? That is really at the top of my list in picking candidates. Other issues are definitely important, and I do consider them. But a homeschooling-friendly candidate is my top priority when it comes to who will receive my vote. And just why is it - this is just my observation and I would love to hear others who feel differently - that conservative and/or moderate candidates seem to be more homeschool-friendly than their liberal counterparts? Yes, a conservative President brought us the atrocity called No Child Left Behind. But this same President did not include homeschoolers in its regulations. - Just thinking out loud (or in writing, as the case may be).

I have recently found out about what I consider a horrible legislation called HR2343. Apparently this bill that is being considered requires mandatory state hospital visits to new parents. Parents are required to submit to home visits by nurses to be sure there are no signs of abuse. An accompanying proposal calls for mandatory screenings and testing in Headstart programs. Where exactly is the parental say in this? It's gone along with their rights.

Issues like HR2343 and all-day kindergarten, early Headstart, universal preschool, etc. are definitely important for homeschoolers. How many candidates that are for these programs are truly going to support our rights as homeschoolers? Big government control equals loss of homeschooling rights.


Unschooling Discussion

Well, it's Back to School Time. That is, of course, perfect timing for our Not Back to School Day for the unschooling group. I've also been having some interesting discussions about curriculum choices or lack thereof with friends. Some of my friends, this year, are choosing to use virtual schools. I have no problem with public school at home, if that is what people choose. What worries me is when it is put in the same category as homeschooling. I hope they always remain separate to distinguish the two. Homeschooling, in general - whether unschooling or school-at-home - has always wanted to remain free of public school interference. I know that this is important to me, as a homeschooler/unschooler. I do not want there to be more government interference in homeschools because of the rising popularity of virtual schools.

That said, all of this curriculum discussion has been making me think all the more about unschooling. I love unschooling. I hope my sons never request to go to a more school-at-home approach to learning. If they do, of course, I will allow them that choice. We will search for the private curriculum that they are comfortable with. If they should ever choose to go to a regular school, I would probably take an extra job for them to go to a private school. I think the only thing I would not allow would be public schooling in any way. I do not feel public schooling is right for our family. That is not to say I look down on someone else for making the opposite decision, it's just not right for us. But my preference is to remain life-long unschoolers. I love seeing what ideas generate in my sons' minds. I love following them on their unschooling adventures and allowing their creativity to lead. I love watching their imaginary play. I love watching them do what they love - Taliesin doing art, Nathanael playing with bugs and animals. I love watching them make up dances while we're listening to CDs. I even love watching them do more traditional learning stuff when that's what they're in the mood for. I love unschooling....


How the Newspaper works: Yesterday, we took a field trip for A Walk in the Park Unschooling Group to the Salina Journal. It was lots of fun! We saw how the newspaper works from the classifieds and customer service to the newsroom to the printing to the assembling and distribution.

Last night, Taliesin made a little bed out of a box for his teddy bear, Maya. And, of course, every bed needs a pillow; so Taliesin had his first sewing lesson, courtesy of Kelsey. :^) I asked my husband last night, "Don't you love these late-night unschooling lessons?" I've always said, learning takes place all day, every day, not just during school hours during a school year - even if it is 10:30 at night.

Nathanael made this with the Paint program on Microsoft a few days ago. I've been wanting to include it on the blog. This seemed the perfect place. I, of course, wrote his name for him. He's not to the point of wanting to write yet. But, that's okay, he follows his own time table. He'll be four in January. He'll learn when he's ready.

This is Taliesin's graph he made today. This morning, we had an insert in our newspaper about bugs. One of the things it had was a graph to see which creature jumps the highest. That started our graph discussion again. So we got out the Legos and blocks and built. Then we graphed which one went the highest. Of course, our graphs are unique. They're made out of construction paper and Dora the Explorer stickers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

It's Cluttered, but Clean

Family Pictures on the Living Room Wall (plus one of Taliesin's paintings)

Bird's Eye View of the Kitchen (you can see somewhat that the kitcen table is covered with Taliesin's recycled art)

Living Room Wall Above the Loveseat (that's Taliesin's coconut viking in between the pictures of the Greek churches and the Renoir [no it's not a real Renoir] and pictures that Taliesin and Nathanael have made and other homeschooling acheivements).

Wall Behind Desk (on the right, that's my Pirates of the Caribbean poster and those are leaf pictures courtesy of Taliesin and Nathanael).

I Love this Wall! The red is the chart where I write down daily what fun things we have done, just in case there are ever any questions. There's also lots of art work and pictures. Also notice the handprints on the door. One day, after paiting in the basement, Taliesin and Nathanael ran upstairs and slapped the door with their painty hands. It was too cute to paint over.

Our Lazy Dogs...

Taliesin and Nathanael Playing in the Living Room

Okay, so today a senatorial candidate - Tom Arpke - is stopping by to drop off some fliers for us to distribute in support of his candidacy. So I got to thinking, "Does my house look okay for a possible government official to see?" So, this is it. We can do this the democratic way - take votes! What do you think?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Activites Pictures...

Taliesin Enjoying the Activities at the end of summer party at the library...

Nathanael enjoying the fish at the library...

The Monster Truck!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


We've had a busy past two days. Yesterday, Taliesin and Nathanael had their end of summer party at the library to end the library's summer reading program. We ended up recording 77 books that we read (although some of those were read over and over and there were some we did not get to record). The party was lots of fun. Taliesin especially had a blast. Nathanael had fun with the games, but he was a little scared of the people in costumes. Taliesin told me his favorite part was making the craft they had available. The library had different kinds of bug parts drawn on a pieces of paper. The kids were able to use their imagination and make any kind of bug they wanted to. Is it any surprise after their story from the other day that Taliesin decided to make a dung beetle? Nathanael is not my artsy one at all. He still has not made his insect. LOL After the library party, it was off to the mall to see the monster truck in conjunction with a monster truck show in Salina this weekend. Then, to top off the day, Taliesin enjoyed making pudding/cookie parfaits (something they both repeated this morning). Early this afternoon, I registered both of the boys for dance classes. This last fall and spring, Taliesin's art class included some dancing taught by a local dance teacher named Tamara Howe. Taliesin really enjoyed it. So I was finally able to get them enrolled in her dance studio. Taliesin decided on ballet/tap classes, and Nathanael will be doing a creative dance class. They will be starting in September.
I'm hoping to get some of the pictures of the library party and monster truck posted soon. Right now, Taliesin is wanting me to help him find Sally the teddy bear.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taliesin's and Nathanael' Story

Today we studied about dung beetles. This is a story that Taliesin and Nathanael wrote after our studies:

Sam and Blue
by Taliesin and Nathanael Hastings
Sam Beetle and Blue Beetle were friends. They were both dung beetles. They lived with the monkeys (that live in trees) in the rainforest. One day, the the monkeys stinkied on the ground. Sam and Blue found it. They rolled it into a ball. They buried it in the dirt. Because of the seeds in it, a tree grew. The monkeys lived in the the new trees.
The End.

A Chocolate Factory

Well, Tuesday, we made our trip to the Russell Stover candy store for a field trip for the unschooling group. The kids were able to watch a video and here one of the workers talk about how candy is made - then we got to shop. :^)


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Taliesin's Communion

Well, today in church, Taliesin took communion for the first time. We've been talking a lot about how Jesus died for our sins and rose again. When I explained that if he believes this, it is okay to take communion, he was very excited to take it today. It was pretty cute - my sister was telling me that while I was at work, Nathanael was given a time-out. Taliesin came up to him and explained that this is why Jesus died on the cross. Then, with a wave of his arms, he then announced, "And He rose again!" Just call him pastor Taliesin. LOL.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Fun... and Flowers..

Flowers in the garden and fun at the sprinkler park...

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

All I can say is The Dark Knight was a lot better than I expected it to be. I liked Batman Begins, but it's not one of my favorites. I think The Dark Knight is a lot better. Heath's performance was awesome! But it honestly was not him. Maybe it's because I am used to seeing him in movies like A Knight's Tale or The Four Feathers or even The Order and Brothers Grimm; but this was... Wow! You know, when Taliesin was a baby, one thing I always loved to watch in him was the twinkle in his eyes. His eyes laughed with him. When Nathanael was born, he lost it for a while. He wondered why this new baby was getting some of his attention. But, after a few months, he got it back. Nathanael's always had it. My mom used to say that you can tell a lot about people by their eyes. I think that is true. When I watched Heath Ledger in his movies up to this point, I saw a twinkle in his eyes - almost an innocence combined with an intensity. I couldn't recognize that tonight in The Dark Knight. Not that it wasn't a good movie. It was. But it definitely was not what I am used to seeing in Heath Ledger.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Study in Sociology

Okay, many of you know I work in fast food in the evenings/nights. Well, tonight, I conducted a little study of humanity. We ran out of medium-sized cups tonight. Those are, of course, the most popular size. So tonight, we gave customers large drinks at a medium cost. Instead of telling people our reasoning, I just gave them their drinks in a large cup. I wanted to see how many would tell me I gave them the wrong size. Out of hundreds of customers that came through drive-thru tonight, two questioned why they were getting a larger size. Even the customer wearing the WWJD bracelet only looked at the drinks and laughed with the person sitting next to him. Now, granted, some of the customers may not have even paid attention or may not have been aware of what size a medium really is. But it appeared that many of them were simply happy to get more than their money's worth. Makes one wonder....


It's Finally Here...

Just posted this on my passionate about writing blog:
Well, tomorrow (or actually, later on today) I'm off to see The Dark Knight. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I know it's going to reveal a lot to me. I've read wonderful reviews of Heath's work in this movie. I have no doubt that it's fantastic. But I still think this role took its toll on him. A lot more about that will be in the book.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our Favorite Things...

For now, anyway...
The past few days have just really been relaxed. I've been writing and writing and writing on my Heath Ledger book. I'm awaiting Friday, the release of The Dark Knight. Most of what I've written so far is leading up to this movie. Taliesin has been taking his second art class for the summer from the art center. The second picture above is his creation from today. It's a creature with three eyes, a horn, a plastic bullhorn, a gold heart, a plastic turtle, and an angel holding a harp. (Oh, and, of course, the two feet sticking out from the bottom and two seashells, too). Today, he surprised me. It's been a while since he has asked to practice his reading. We've read oodles and gobs of books, but today he wanted to practice his own reading. He got out his McGuffy's Primer and his phonics flash cards and wanted to practice reading. He did really well, too. He is really starting to recognize site words and to be able to sound out short words. Nathanael has been dancing a lot (top picture), pretend playing with his stuffed animals, and reading a lot of books like Look-Alikes. I love those books. They really allow kids to use their imagination.
Yesterday, between Taliesin's art class and delivering The Buyer's Guide, we did make it to the library. We took their reading list back for the summer reading program. We ended up recording 77 books that we have read since the first of June. There were actually a few more, but I kept forgetting to record them. Oh, well, we were over our goal of 70 books, anyway. LOL. So they are looking forward to the end of summer party at the library. And yesterday, they were able to get a free taco from Taco John's and a free ice cream cone from McDonald's courtesy of all of their hard work reading.
Well, my Pirates of the Caribbean poster just fell from the living room wall. Must need new tape again. Better go put it back up. I definitely do not want it to get torn. LOL.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gardens, Geisers, and Grades...

Working Hard

The Green Volcano

Geiser made from diet soda and Mentos mints
We've been having a good time the past few days. First we picked the greenbeans from Taliesin's and Nathanael's garden. We were also surprised to find cucumbers and the startings of tomatoes. We also have sunflowers, along with a variety of other flowers, beginning to bloom in our front yard. What may amaze some is we use no pesticides. I definitely do not want poisons around my sons in any way, shape, or form. And it was nice to eat the greebeans knowing we did not have to scrub away man-made poisons before eating them.
This week, we also finally got to our volcano and geiser experiments. Yes, the lava coming from the volcano is green. That's just because I could not find red food coloring in the cupboard. First, we made playdough and formed it around a bottle containing baking soda and the food coloring, to make the lava even more exciting. Then, after it was set, we added the vinegar. Soon after, we added mentos to a bottle of diet pop to watch the geiser effect. Taliesin and Nathanael then made graphs out of stickers to show which one went higher. They had so much fun. Taliesin has been wanting to do more graphs, but yesterday we just got too busy cooking. Taliesin found a recipe in his Disney cookbook for fairy wands. Since I didn't have frozen and thawed bread dough on hand, we used pancake flour. We prepared the pancake flour the way the box specified, but then we baked it with pinches of salt and sugar sprinkled on top. After the bread had cooled, we added fairy dust (powdered suger) and topped it off with canned fruit. We then cut our fairy bread into four pieces - one for Taliesin, one for Nathanael, one for Mommy, and one for Daddy. We talked about halves and fourths. So, along with the measuring for making the fairy bread, we had a pretty good math cooking lesson. LOL. I love unschooling. Today, we're just relaxing and doing a lot of reading and playing. I'm really amazed at the different directions my sons' interests lead them in.
Speaking of unschooling, I received a nice e-mail from my college professor a few days ago. She thanked me for my input in this class. She told me she could see the students becoming enlightened to unschooling as the class progressed. Then I received my final grade for my teaching class today. I received an "A." Yay! Many people do not understand why my grades are so important to me. I think the best way I can describe it is it shows that I know how to apply what I learned in class to real life. For instance, in this class, I was able to apply the lessons to unschooling. My textbook for the class is now filled with notes - "I agree with this statement because..." "I definitely do not agree with this one because..." And the online discussions for class are the best. That's where everyone gets to post their opinions. Regardless of what our opinions are, as long as we can back up our claims, we get the good grades. Like the unschooling thing. I posted a few posts ago on this my assignment over curriculum standards. Needless to say, none of the other students felt the same way I did. They all find curriculum standards helpful, which they are for public school teachers that are held accountable to No Child Left Behind. As homeschoolers, we have a freedom to not have to go by those standards - to allow our children to learn at their own pace and in their own way. I do have to admit that the curriculum standards did, however, give me a new idea. I had never thought of doing graphs. I should have. Taliesin loves maps. He loves drawing and designing calendars. When I explained a graph to him, he jumped at the chance to make one. We did not use the traditional method. We used stickers, and they designed them however they wanted to. But they understood the concept - in their own way.
Kelsey and I both received our books for this fall's classes a couple of days ago as well. Kelsey's taking an introductory Bible class, an introductory theology class, a business communication class, and global business class (his major is business, of course. LOL). I am so glad he finally decided to switch to Liberty. He liked the classes through Grand Canyon, but I know these ones are going to work for him so much better. (I could say I told him all along that he should enroll at Liberty - LOL). Me... I'm taking a class over the Book of John (I've already started reading the books and am really enjoying it), a church history class (love church history - particularly studying about the Greek scholastic theologians like Thomas Aquinas), a youth ministry class, and my second teaching class. And, more excitement, I blogged on my Passionate About Writing blog, that I recieved my copy of Women of Passions that contains my article "A Difficult Decision." I love it! Other that this, I've been working on my Heath Ledger book dilligently after work each night. Things are coming along so well. It's honestly like the book is writing itself.
Well, that's it for this update. Until next time....

Monday, July 7, 2008


What is freedom? That was the question asked by the associate pastor at my church yesterday in our 4th of July weekend sermon. I am truly thankful to live in a country that allows freedom. But, as the pastor pointed out, Christ offers even more freedom - not freedom to live anyway we want, but freedom to live as we ought to. And how we ought to live is for Christ.

I'm the kind of person who likes to observe people. I've spoken with many people about this in the past... but why is it the unfortunate circumstance that all too often the people who are most Christ-like are not Christians? The people that go out of their way for others, who are caring and giving, are not followers of Christ at all. All too often, we, as Christians, are just self-centered. We use are freedom in Christ not to bare one another's burdens but to indulge our own selfishness. How often would we, as Christians, miss a church service to help someone at work out? How often would we, as Christians, help out someone that we just do not particularly care for? Jesus taught that legalism is the opposite of true freedom. When our Savior was accused of working on the Sabbath because He healed on this Holy Day, He recognized His accusers as what they were - hypocrites. Are we hypocrites as well? If we lived at the time of Jesus' life on Earth, would we be with His accusers? If we saw a man beaten and robbed, lying on the side of the road on our way to church, would we stop to help or simply wish him well? Freedom is offered in and through Christ, not in our legalism.

Just last night, Taliesin's caterpillar we found a few weeks ago emerged a beautiful hummingbird moth. He is black with brown stripes. I tried to take some pictures, but the lights or flash on camera did not allow the pictures to turn out correctly. When Taliesin saw him, he was, of course, excited. That excitement dissipated into sadness when we talked about how it was time to set his moth free. I felt so sad for my five-year old as he sobbed, "But he's mine. I want to keep him." Then we talked about how his moth - whom he named Arthur - neeeds his freedom in order to live out is life. He needs to fly. He cannot fly in an aquarium. He needs room. So we all went outside together. Kelsey gently lifted the screen lid and allowed the moth to crawl onto his hand. Arthur immediately began beating his wings, testing to see how they worked. Nathanael gave him a quick touch, and Taliesin smiled as we watched him soar into the sky. We talked about how soon there will probably be baby Arthurs. This morning, we talked about how Arthur is much happier flying in the sky than he would have been stuck in the aquarium. Taliesin agreed and is looking forward to finding some baby Arthur caterpillars next spring and summer.

How often do we, as Christians, allow our own desires to keep us bound in a glass casing when we would be much happier soaring the skies of true freedom in Christ - the freedom to allow Jesus to truly influence our lives for the better.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July Fun - part 3

Fireworks display that evening....

4th of July Fun - part 2

After our BBQ, Taliesin and Nathanael had some fun with their 4th of July poppers and sparklers.