Monday, July 28, 2008

A Girls' (plus Banjo Matt) Weekend

I hightailed it out of town last Friday afternoon, up to our trailer where our trailer neighbor/my mom's best friend, Sandy, hosted the Fifth Annual Girls' Weekend. I spent Friday night solo, and then Hatfield rode up with Boppa on Saturday morning and joined us for a little one-on-one time with Mom.

The weekend provided the perfect Rx of R&R, (homeschool) work time, and good times drinking wine and laughing hysterically around the campfire. A prescription I sorely needed. There's nothing better than coming home feeling re-energized with a new focus.

I made two new friends over the weekend, Sandy's niece Erin, who lives in Minnesota, and Erin's younger brother, Matt, who lives in Brooklyn, NYC. Technically this was the First Annual Girls' + Matt Weekend, as Matt was given gleeful permission to come and crash the party.

Night after night, we were treated to Matt's banjo playing and story-telling. A young pup at 26, he's is a singer/musician, having taught himself seven instruments. Matt is a bit of a gypsy, having lived all over and traveled even further beyond that, not caring for money or possessions but rather experiences. Immersed in his art (music), he's a refreshing example that you don't need a college education or a high-paying career to be of value in this world. The focus being on who a person "is," not what they "do for a living."

While I initially felt a bit shy around these two outgoing, well-traveled people, their genuine interest and respect for who I am put me at ease. City folk, neither of them showed pity for my living in the middle of Wisconsin. Not that I think anyone has the right to look down upon where we live (I LOVE where we live), I am always so genuinely surprised at the disdain "city" people show me when they find out where we live (especially the ones who lived here and then moved away.)

On Sunday morning, Cliff and the little kids came up, and again Matt plucked a banjo song for them. Atticus was completely mesmerized, breaking his gaze at the flying fingers only once, to tell me, "I should have brought my violin!" Atticus has a true artistic side to him, loving dance and music, and I hope over the years we can introduce him to many artists like Matt, who can inspire and motivate.

Riding a high inspired by these two incredibly "real" siblings, realizing how very much I want my children to see and hear and know people, places and cultures outside of our little home, I'm working like a madwoman, preparing our year's curriculum, as I intend to start up homeschool the second week in August. My hope is that we can get a good 3 or 4 weeks in before we bring the boys home (Disclaimer: I am truly hoping that statement tempts fate into proving me wrong, only allowing me to school a whopping 3 days before getting the, "Come pick up your children!" call.)

Last year, I purchased and schooled a full Sonlight curriculum. The perfect start for a HS novice, the curriculum came with a full and very detailed Instructor Guide (complete with weekly schedule). One can pick and choose reading, math, handwriting and elective programs to their child's ability.

Throughout the year, I gained footing and confidence, and began making changes. Switched over to a different science program. Scrapped their grammar and went to Shurley English. Dropped read-alouds, added read-alouds. That is one of the beautiful things about homeschool; something doesn't work well for your child, your child doesn't have to suffer through it for a year(and the resale value of HS materials is very good).

This year, however, I am taking a Charlotte Mason approach to our homeschool. Charlotte Mason believed in treating each child as an individual, not as a "container" into which you dump information. She encouraged parents to take an active role in teaching and training their children in academics, fine arts, faith, citizenship, and habits of character. "Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life."

I like that: "Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life." A tall order, that's for certain, but this is for my children. As a parent, I'll give them my all, and hope that when they walk away from our home to venture out into the world, eyes, ears and minds wide open, ready to take it all in.


small town girl said...

It sounds like you had a great week-end and met some great new friends. This may surprise you but I believe that you are also one of those same kinds of people. Thats why you connected with them. Oh, I don't mean literally in a bohemian sort of way (Matt reminded me of my oldest son) just in the way you have the ability to impact lives through your ability to be authentic and reach out to your family, friends, and even strangers in this blog. Also, good luck with homeschooling this year. I so wish I could do that for my kids.

Little Patch of Heaven said...

Very well said. Hope it works.

A Blessed Life said...

Most beginning homeschool moms feel the need for a really structured first year. I am pleased to hear you are confident enough to step out of the box this year. We personally felt amazingly set free with the Charlotte Mason approach. I hope this year is even more enjoyable than your first.

This Mama said...

Wow! That sounds like a wonderful weekend, the kind-of weekend I am craving at the moment.

I love the way you approach schooling with your children, love it. I hope to be able to home school here and there when/if I can. I am not sure if sporadic homeschooling is ideal or not, but my oldest has floated between both without any problems.

I am going to read up on Charlotte Mason now - thanks for peaking my interest!

Katy said...

I'm glad you had a weekend away. I am praying for those passports- don't lose hope!! I know that the Lord wants your boys in your arms.