Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Our Homeschooling Decision

Okay, I'll confess... before I had children I honestly thought I would never homeschool. After all, I had survived public school just fine, and as long as I was involved in my children's education I was sure everything would be just fine. The year my oldest child turned 4, a friend who also only had preschoolers invited me to attend a homeschool curriculum fair in Wichita with her. (We lived in Kansas at the time.) My friend did intend to homeschool, and I was interested to see what was out there for preschool... because I knew I wouldn't be sending my child to school till kindergarten.

What an overwhelming and eye-opening experience that was! I took the tote box they gave us at the door and proceeded around the hall, gathering as much information as I could. And that's exactly what I recommend to folks who are considering homeschooling for the first time. Attend a conference. Explore your options.

Up until that time I only knew about a typical textbook curriculum, or a not-so-typical but still very cut-and-dried workbook approach. While I have always loved to teach, I wasn't sure that either of those approaches really appealed to me. I would really just rather read to my children. Imagine my delight when I discovered the literature-based approach to home education! I have always been a voracious reader... and I love to read aloud. To get to do that, and call it school? Umm... yeah, I b'lieve maybe I will homeschool! No, I really didn't make up my mind that day, but it sure gave me food for thought.

I had a part-time job in the evenings as assistant children's librarian at the public library. Working there I began to get to know the homeschoolers who regularly visited the library. Later that summer some of them came in with book lists because UPS was on strike, and their curriculum was delayed in coming. As they asked me to help them locate the books on their lists, I was delighted to find many of my childhood favorites included. Turns out, the book lists were from a company called Sonlight Curriculum.

What really clinched the decision for us was an opportunity to move out-of-state the next year, just before our daughter was due to start kindergarten. We moved to Idaho after school was out for the summer, so I didn't have a chance to check out the public school. My husband and I decided that I would try homeschooling for the kindergarten year and see how it went. After poring over dozens of catalogs, I finally settled on Sonlight  for that first year. By the end of the year, I couldn't imagine not continuing with Sonlight for the next year. And we never looked back.

I started representing Sonlight at conventions in 2000, when the children were still very young. Every year at the conventions I went to, I still explored my options. Yes, I loved Sonlight, but first and foremost, I wanted what was best for my kids. If there was a better curriculum for us out there, I wanted to know about it. Always, I came to the conclusion Sonlight was what our family needed. It is flexible enough that I could adapt it for my kids' individual needs and we could still enjoy and learn from all the great stories.

Looking back, I can't imagine what our life would have been like if we hadn't chosen to homeschool. It has been such a rewarding experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.

This post is part of Sonlight's 25th Anniversary Blog Party (February edition): Sonlight Blog Party
I hope you'll join the party.
I'd love to read your story...
plus you have a chance to win a great prize package!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Marshmallow World

On Friday the weather forecast for the weekend was 8-16 inches of snow by Sunday evening.
Since the weather has been mostly sunny and snowless this winter, I thought it would be interesting to do a series of "time lapse" photos of our back yard over the course of the weekend. Obviously, the weekend isn't over yet, but the results are dramatic enough that I decided to go ahead and post while I have time. (Otherwise I might not get around to it. Iz bad, I know.)
The little dab of snow lurking in the shady areas on Friday afternoon was left over from a few days earlier. The clouds were beginning to gather, but the flurries didn't start until after dark that day.
 Saturday morning the ground was lightly covered with a very wet snow. It had already melted off the stone walkway and mostly just stuck to the grass. But more was still in the forecast.
Midday Saturday it started snowing lightly... 
 just kinda spitting snow off and on...
 By early evening the snow finally decided to start getting serious.
 The "snow" setting on the camera shows it coming down better than the "auto" setting above, though I have to say the "auto" setting makes a prettier picture. I love the warm lights shining from the back fence neighbors' houses.
 And so finally, this morning, we did wake up to a Marshmallow World.

Church was cancelled due to the bad roads, so we are enjoying a quiet morning sitting by the fire, watching the snow. We love that our family room has both a fireplace and French doors overlooking the backyard.

We will enjoy the snow while it lasts because it could very well be all gone by midweek. Denver weather is funny that way.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Sonlighting Family

The assignment today for the Sonlight 25th Anniversary Blog Party is to introduce my family, and share where we are on our homeschooling journey.
My students are these beautiful young ladies, ages 19 and 22. Our formal homeschooling days have recently ended. However, the girls do still currently live at home, so the learning continues. After all, thanks to Sonlight, we raised them to be "lifelong learners."
They say homeschooling actually starts at birth... and it does. When I hear a parent say they could never homeschool it makes me wonder what they think they were doing during those early years. However, our formal, curriculum-based homeschooling actually started in 1998 when Laura was ready for kindergarten. That's the year we started with Sonlight... but that's a story for another post.
Fast-forward to 2011... (and the years went by about that fast...) we were pleased to present Laura with her high school diploma at a group ceremony we had put together with a few other homeschooling friends in our area. Laura graduated in Idaho where we had lived since she was in kindergarten. It meant a lot to her to get to graduate with her friends.
Rebecca graduated this past spring (2014) after we had moved to Colorado. Since she only had one semester of school left after we moved, we hadn't connected with a homeschool group here. Instead we planned a special backyard ceremony just for her with her grandparents and church friends.
Over the years as I've shared our homeschooling story at conventions around the country, I tell how learning is a lifestyle in our family, not just something we do during school hours. And though the girls have graduated and are pursuing their adult lives now... the learning goes on.

This post is part of Sonlight's 25th Anniversary Blog Party (January edition):
  Sonlight Blog Party 
I'd love to hear your story as well!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do you Instagram?

I've had an Instagram account for awhile but have never done much with it. However, Laura uses it all the time. Now... I'm not into taking selfies, but I started playing around with it a bit this past weekend and I have to admit I've enjoyed taking scenery and still-life pictures. I love the effect of using filters and frames. Here are some fun shots I've taken the last few days.
A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on
The building above is the print shop where Lyle works. I had just dropped some of the Sonlight reps off at the airport and my work responsibilities were done for the week, so I was running errands with him. It felt good to think about something besides work for a little while.

Let me know if you have an Instagram account, so I can follow you! I don't have very many connections on there yet.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sonlight Fun

This past week at work was a lot of fun... as well as pretty intense... with our annual Sonlight Training Conference with the convention rep team for the upcoming homeschool convention season. Our reps come from all over the country. I've worked with a lot of the same ladies over the years and have made some good friends, so it was great to see them again, as well as meet our new reps. We laughed, enjoyed good food.. and learned a lot.
I used to fly in for this event, but this year I got to help organize it. Even with all the extra work this time, I came away excited about the upcoming convention season, as I always do. My first convention will be in Loveland, Colorado on March 13 and 14. Lots to do between now and then!
Something else fun is going on at work as well. Sonlight is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and they have several exciting events lined up throughout the year. The celebration will be kicking off with a free online event this coming Thursday evening featuring Sonlight's founder and owner, Sarita Holzmann, as well as guest speakers, Heidi St. John and Crystal Paine. This event is called Inspire 25 and will include some great PRIZES as well as inspiring sessions. I'll be there. I hope you'll join me!
Sonlight Blog Party
And then, the other thing I'm involved in is Sonlight's year-long blog party. On the 25th of each month I'll be joining up with other homeschool bloggers to share my stories with a different topic each month. If you blog I encourage you to join the party. Again, there will be PRIZES! Plus, it's a great way to gain new readers.

Looking forward to a great year!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Gift

Two weeks after Christmas.

We were staying with my sister. We had been waiting for a phone call for almost a month. Finally it came.

"Your baby has arrived! Would you like to come meet her?"

The maternity section of the hospital was quiet that January evening. We washed our hands and donned scrubs as instructed, and they led us to an empty patient room. And we waited again.

But not too long. Pretty soon the nurse wheeled in the bassinet. She carefully lifted the tiny, blanket-wrapped bundle and laid our newborn daughter into my arms.
And in that moment, I became a mother.

It is, most assuredly, not a gift I take for granted.

Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart,
But in it.

Happy Birthday, Laura!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year!

The new year has arrived and as promised, I am sincerely going to try to blog more often. Obviously, it's not going to be daily, but maybe I could manage weekly... or at least, more often than quarterly. How 'bout that? Reckon that will keep my Fan Club* happy?
While I didn't maintain my blog as well as I would have liked in 2014, there are enough posts to give you a good idea of our Year in Review, so I'm not going to do that. However, we weren't able to be together with any of our extended family during the Christmas season, so I thought I'd share some of our recent activities.
We kicked off the festivities early in December with an interchurch Christmas brunch at Country Buffet. The highlight of the morning was the white elephant gift exchange.

The next week we were invited to an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Rather than going out and buying ugly sweaters, we got creative and decorated some old sweaters we already had. Our family spent one whole evening working on our sweaters. I said, "After all this work, I hope somebody in our family will win one of the prizes!" And turns out... they did!
 Laura's "sweater" featured a stocking with a teddy bear tucked in it, a letter to Santa, sparkly pom-poms and jingle bells... and the pièce de résistance.. an obnoxious violin that played Christmas songs. She won the Ugly ribbon (3rd place.)
And then Lyle won the Ugliest ribbon (1st place) with his tableau of Frosty getting run over by an SUV! He and I had worked on his sweater design together. I thought he could have a scene of a car hauling a Christmas tree with a snowman as part of the scenery, but he decided that it needed a little more drama than that. I guess it paid off because everyone seemed to love the snowman parts flying everywhere!
The actual week of Christmas was pretty rough at our house, as both girls had a nasty round of the flu... Laura early in the week, and Rebecca on Christmas Day. Lyle and I were grateful to not catch it this time around!
 We had a nice day at home on Christmas Day. The day started off sunny and mild. Lyle built a fire in our backyard fireplace and smoked a turkey breast on the grill for dinner. He enjoyed watching the fire while he visited on the phone with his mother.
We didn't know how smoking the turkey on the grill would turn out. My dad has been smoking turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas for probably 30 years, so it's kind of a tradition in our family. This year between work, church, and friends, I ended up having three different Thanksgiving dinners... and not one of them served smoked turkey. We haven't been with my folks for the holidays for several years, and I just missed Dad's tasty smoked turkey! So I asked Lyle if he thought it would work to smoke a turkey breast on the grill (since we don't own a smoker). He did some research and said he thought it wouldn't be too hard. He has a little metal box in which to smolder wood chips for the smoke flavor. I soaked the turkey breast in my Dad's recipe for brine for 24 hours, and then added a pan of water for moisture. It worked perfectly! So now we know--a smoker is not necessary! I expect we'll be enjoying smoked turkey more in the future.
And then the snow arrived! The clouds rolled in and the wind kicked up on Christmas afternoon, and the snow started falling. It has been cold and snowed more several times since. But still, we have seen some sunshine in between. After all, this is Colorado!

Thus concludes the synopsis of our Christmas celebration. Looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store!

*Charter members of my Fan Club include my parents, my husband, and my children... and a few others who have let me know that you miss my blog. I do appreciate your encouragement. It means a lot!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Pre-Christmas Memory

I'm thinkin' it must have been about 40 Christmases ago... (Which is completely impossible, of course, because there's no way 1974 was actually 40 years ago. My math must be off somewhere.) Anyway, somewhere along in through there...

My mother, an accomplished and professional seamstress, sewed many of our Christmas gifts when we were growing up. Her project that year was to make five large rag dolls... one for each of us, boy dolls for my brothers, and girl dolls for my sisters and me. This was the pattern:
These were very large floppy dolls... about 2 feet long... so you can see it was quite an undertaking too make five of them, including the clothes. It seems Mother was sequestered in her bedroom with the door closed for days. We children had strict instructions not to go in there because she was working on "Christmas presents." Once our Christmas break from school started it was so hard to obey and not bother her.

One morning, shortly before Christmas, a friend of my mother's stopped by our house. Janie brought with her five large, flat wrapped gifts... and five much smaller ones. Even though it wasn't yet Christmas we were allowed to open them! Each of us received an over-sized Christmas coloring book and a box of crayons! We didn't even have to share our crayons with our brothers and sisters because we each had our own!

Probably a little birdy had told Janie that the preacher's kids needed something to do while their mother sewed. In any case, we happily gathered around the dining room table and spread open our new coloring books. I don't know how many days or hours that kept us occupied, but my mother still gratefully remembers the thoughtfulness of her friend that year.

I'm pretty sure I still have my doll from that Christmas packed away somewhere, along with other cherished rag dolls my mother made over the years. I would have liked to find her and take a picture to show you... but "ain't nobody got time for that" today. (I just Googled the pattern picture above.) But here's a snapshot from that era that I already had scanned. Obviously, it wasn't taken at Christmas time... but oh-so-definitely mid-1970s!
And yes, dear friends and readers, I do have good intentions of getting back to blogging! Maybe that will be a good New Year's resolution!

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Talkin' to the Squirrels

 All of us... especially Cookie... have enjoyed our shady backyard this summer. Cookie likes to chase rabbits and talk to squirrels, both of whom are frequent visitors.

The three snakes who have shown up at different times, however, are not welcome. I guess I ought to put up a sign:

NO SNAKES ALLOWED

They'd probably pay about as much attention to that as the door-to-door salesman pay to this one:
(Photo courtesy of Laura.)
But I digress. 

Our backyard is fenced all around and lined with trees and shrubbery, so though we have close neighbors we also enjoy a sense of privacy. It's lovely.
 As the leaves fall, it won't be quite so private, but I have to say, fall is just gorgeous in Colorado. Not just the aspens in the mountains, but also the city streets and brilliant blue skies.
The kids raked the leaves into a big pile. Doesn't it make you want to just go jump in it?
Maybe we'll build a fire in our little patio fireplace this evening and toast marshmallows.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn in the Rockies

 Last Sunday afternoon was overcast and gray, but we decided to take a short drive up in the mountains to see the aspens anyway.
 The brilliant gold is a sharp contrast to the dark green of the evergreens. Just breathtaking.
 I especially enjoyed this scene with the farm pond and the barbed-wire fence... and the little bit of blue sky peeking through the clouds.
 And, of course, we had to pose in front of the leaves!
 This one is just to embarrass the kids. Because that's what we do.
 What a privilege to live so near such beauty. It's almost worth putting up with city life. Almost.
Wonder if I can talk the man into going again this Sunday. Maybe the skies will be clear? You never can tell about Colorado weather.