Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Settling Dust

Now that our little school has been in session for a little over a month, I thought I'd peep in to reflect on what sort of routine we have settled into. Despite my best wishes, I don't believe any year has kicked off without a hitch or adjustment. This year is no different, although I do feel more settled and peaceful about our curricular pursuits. If you are keeping score, you may enjoy doing a compare/contrast to what I initially planned on doing. I was amazed at the differences! You can find my initial blog post on the upcoming year here. Here's where we stand now that the dust has settled...

For my 10th grader:
This year my son will be continuing to expand his horizons academically. I have made a lot of changes in order to anticipate upcoming SAT/ACT and SAT Subject testing...

For my 8th grader:
My middle guy is seeing less change overall, but there are still some changes that we are exploring. Here's what he's working on currently.
For my 6th grader:
My youngest is continuing to advance her skills in reading. A strong dyslexic, she has struggled to find a place to pin her reading skills, but they are coming together nicely with specialized curriculum, namely...
  • Barton Reading and Spelling System: a God-send for the dyslexic student and her instructor/parents!
  • Math U See Zeta
  • Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Astronomy:  I think this one is my personal favorite. I love the projects that are listed within its pages!
  • IEW's Fix-It: This is a big win for my daughter this year. She's learning grammar and editing, all while rewriting a classic novel. The errors are embedded in the text, and she fixes them, looks up vocabulary words, and rewrites the corrected passage. It's brilliant, and really works to her strengths!
  • A Reason for Handwriting, Cursive
  • IEW's Ancient History Writing Lessons.  It fits in nicely with her history, which is...
  • Easy Peasy Ancient History, Ancient Art, and Ancient Music, just like her brother's.
  • Sign Language for Everyone. Because learning a foreign language is nigh impossible when you're dyslexic!
  • Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola as accompaniment to Fix-It.
  • Added to all that, she is involved in a local soccer league for recreation.
That's it in a nutshell. Things seem to be coming together nicely. This year I'm going to pray for smooth sailing and that we would all enjoy each other. The year will fly by, and there are fewer and fewer school years to look forward to with all of us together. Before I know it, one will be leaving the nest. I am so thankful for all the wonderful memories we have shared as a family who homeschools. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tangled Contemplation

I have never been much of an artist. It wasn't until I found knitting as a medium that I really hit my stride as an artist. For me, art has always been of the useful variety. A knitted sweater, a beaded necklace, or a lacy scarf, while beautiful art, was always useful. I never considered that I was any good at drawing until I discovered through my favorite podcast, Craftlit, an art form called Zentangle.

When I heard Heather mention this thing called Zentangling, it stuck in my head for a long time before I bothered to look it up. To learn more about it, I bought a copy of the book, One Zentangle a Day:  A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun.  Well, I read through the preliminaries, bought some basic supplies, and started in. Right away, I was hooked!

What is now known as Zentangling is what I used to call doodling, and it typically happened for me between the lines of my notebook paper when I was zoning out in class when I was in high school. While there are specific steps, essentially it is doodling on steroids. This doodling, however, is done with a purpose, namely to de-stress.

It worked. I took about thirty minutes to work my first design, and at the end I was hooked! I started tangling every day, and it wasn't long before my daughter noticed me at it. She asked to join in, and I started teaching her in our little impromptu class. She also found that it relaxed her as well.

One of my first attempts
Eventually, I decided to ask a few families over to learn about this relaxing and contemplative art form. I set the time for rainy Friday afternoon, adjusted Pandora to a relaxing station, lit a candle, and shared some basic motifs with everyone, and they were off. Both mothers and daughters appeared to enjoy the process, and I saw some lovely designs come out of it as well.
Our little class, in the creative zone.

In addition to the music and candles, our group also incorporated some prayer and Scripture, although that is entirely up to the individual about how she approaches the art. For me personally, it is a wonderful time to still my worries and open up to the Holy Spirit.

While I am not a "certified" Zentangle instructor, I was able to introduce our girls to a different way of expressing themselves and releasing tension. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a way to reduce stress and build creativity. Supplies are minimal (Zentangle tiles - we used squares of paper for our class, Pigma Micron Pens, 2H and 2B pencils, and blending stumps). Over time, you can build supplies to design other Zentangle inspired art pieces, but the basics will take you a long way. 
Our class board