Freak Out!

It’s that time of year.

The fact that this happens EVERY year should, in my mind, somewhat diminish the reality; yet, that has never happened.

The start of the new “school year” is upon us, and I have hit total “freak out” mode.

I am NOT ready!

What was I ever thinking!

I am no-where near “good enough”.

And on and on.

Honestly, I think I would happily run-away, if I could only figure out where to run to.  But, that would require time, research, and funds; and if I’m going to use those resources it only makes sense that I use them toward the application of what I had chosen to do in the first place.

My head is killing me and I just remembered one of my students wants to learn the clarinet, another the BAGPIPE.

Oh gosh.  And then they will both be studying Spanish, and I haven’t liked anything I’ve seen on the market, so I had started pulling things together on my own.  (Was that back in April?  Did I come up with a plan?  Did I write anything down?  OH good gravy!)

That’s not even counting the super easy stuff like:

  • Do I have enough paper?
  • Pencils?  Where did all the erasers go?
  • Why is it every pen in my house is missing its lid?
  • Can I find my bookcases?

Actually the answer to the last question is NO!  I can’t find my bookcases, because I had pulled off the books to try to organize at some point towards the beginning of summer and got sidetracked.  So all I can tell you is that behind all those stacks of books the bookcases exist.

Egads, if those books are in piles then how will I find the ones we need???!  Wait.  Do I know which ones we need???  I had a list!  Where oh where is my list!?

I think I’m coming down with a rash.  It’s probably got some awful acronym to go with it, like “HAGS” ( for Homeschool mom’s Acute Guilt Syndrome).

MATH!  Oh my goodness, did I make a plan for math?  Oh, I did.  That’s right.  I did.  Aw man, where are the math books???

Paper bags.  Paper bags are used to help with hyperventilation, right?  I think I saw that in a movie somewhere.  I have paper bags.  Wait.  I only have 12.  I have 12 students in one of my classes.  Are we using paper bags in that class?  I can’t remember!

Breathe.  Adapt.  Overcome.  Repeat.

Ah forget it!  Someone else can do without a paper bag!

The Power of Youth

 Today I had not one, but MANY mothers come up to me and thank me for requiring their children to do a personal finance project.

“It has taught [my student] the harsh realities of life.”


And I walked away feeling very deflated.

In all honesty I could not, with any sense of personal integrity due to the nature of this class, avoid doing this project.  That said, it was truly a personal struggle to make it happen, and it was for this very reason that I was so hesitant to require it.

I have been inundated with conversations of late about how hard this teenager is going to have it or that teenager, or those hypothetical few that fall into *that* category.  (Pregnancy, young marriage, medical issues, pick your poison.)

According to all the adults with whom I am forced to suffer these conversations all I hear over and over again is:

“They won’t be able to do it.”

“Oh, don’t expect them to be able to adapt to that change!”

“It’s too hard!”

“What were they thinking?!”

and on and on. . .

My favorite is, “They don’t know what that will require from them.”  At least that one is completely accurate, and God bless them for their ignorance.

The others are a bunch of old-fogey junk!

I mean, “Hello??!!”  Well over 98% of the people I have these conversations with, I know how their adult life started out, and yet they somehow made it.


Youth is highly adaptable.

Youth is truly optimistic.

Youth has the power of imagination and belief that it can be better.

Youth has the ability to rise again, even if they have been beat down repeatedly.

Why do so many of us with the *wisdom* of age refuse to acknowledge those very simple truths?  Think of the many very young mothers that somehow raised families.  Think of the young men who provided for those families.  Think of Alexander the Great, who died when he was about 30.  What about Civil Rights?  Was it a bunch of old people (or even middle-aged) marching the streets demanding change?

What truly scares me is the number of parents who see everything as an impossibility for their youth making excuses for their offspring.  Or worse, preventing certain things from occurring on the pretext of saving their children from these challenges.

Gosh darn it, CHALLENGE YOUR KIDS!  Provide them with an opportunity to grow.  Let them learn the power of success in spite of change or difficulties.  Let them learn the pain of failure, for it is often through those failures that the most is attained.

I want to scream to teens and young adults alike, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” (courtesy of Ms. Frizzle)

Today I was congratulated on helping the teens in my class get a “grasp on reality”.

To those teens, and all others:

“Reality” will come soon enough.  Until then, reach for your stars.  Make things happen.  Go for the impossible.  Achieve all and more that those who are older than you say is beyond your grasp.

You have the enviable power of youth.  Do not squander it.


Some of my very favorite books are full of intrigue, suspense, and obscure meanings, (like one would see in diplomatic speech).

For example:

“I hope you can appreciate the fact that I am really not in a position to make serious changes in the government at the moment.” Drop dead.

“Please, I wasn’t suggesting that. I fully appreciate your situation. My hope was to allay at least one supposed problem, to make your task easier.” Or I could make it harder.

-from Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

I truly appreciate when the intended meanings are put in italics too as they would otherwise, most likely, be lost on me. I simply don’t speak/think that way. It would require training for me to get to that level of understanding.

My speech (verbiage and understanding) is very much like my driving. I actually use turn signals, and such to signal my intent. There should, in my mind, be no doubt in another’s mind as to what I’m actually doing.

Not so, other drivers in our state! Therefore, when our kids turn about 15 I start instruction on “vehicle body language”.

It usually starts something like this:

“Just what do you think that idiot is about to attempt to do?”

Towards the end of the child’s “training” I can expect,

“Well, due to lack of any signals whatsoever, I couldn’t tell you. They are in the left-hand turn only lane (which, you would think, would mean something); yet, their wheels are cranked in the complete opposite direction, and they keep throwing up furtive looks in their review mirror every few seconds. Therefore, the nut-jobs are going to attempt to cross three lanes of moving traffic and make a right-hand turn.”

We learn similar skills in body language too.

“Posturing” sets the ground work for identifying the “path” or the direction one wishes to travel.

In case you don’t recall, I wrote this post about how difficult I was finding it to determine how I wanted to lead a unit study class.

Well, nearly half-way through the course, I have FINALLY figured out my “posture”.

It’s about time!

Prehistoric Art

Please note:  For whatever reason, WordPress is not allowing me to add links to this post.  (most infuriating)  Therefore, I’m just posting the links in parenthesis after the text — which is not as neat and tidy as I would prefer, but I don’t have time to investigate the cause of this any further.

I am forever amazed at the number of musicians that will claim, “I can’t do art!”  Do they not realize that music is indeed a form of art?

Today was a rough day.  I knew it would be, we had all last week off due to company and certain people want to fight me tooth and nail when we start back.  Then there’s the whole forget-everything-you-were-ever-taught disorder.

I was mentally prepared for this, but still after two hours on a math lesson that should have only taken at most 45 minutes, even I was ready to scream.

Luckily, the rest of the plan for the day involved our art study.

And first we did music!  Which made me feel awesome because I could put my plan ( into play and see how it turned out.

So, first we discussed how there was absolutely nothing.  Not only nothing to see, but nothing to hear as well.  Then, I “introduced” them to the conductor of an orchestra idea and how at the beginning of any performance he will raise both arms up high.  This signifies to the orchestra to get ready, but to the audience it tells them to get quiet; both of these objectives are essential to be met.

Please note that during this discussion one of my guys could NOT keep his mouth shut to save his life!  We had to wait a bit for him to get his jabbers out. . .

But he did manage to finally pull it together, so we went ahead and moved on to our first piece of music:  water.  I am so pleased with this piece I can hardly stand it!  (Not that I had anything to do with its creation, mind you, just highly impressed.)

The boys were suitably impressed!  In fact, they had never seen wine glasses “sing” before, so that led to an impromptu “lesson” on playing wine glasses.

All in all, a highly successful music lesson.

Then we moved onto cave painting.  We had just finished the book, Boy of the Painted Cave, ( so it seemed the perfect time to cover this.

First we took a virtual tour of the Lascaux caves (, which the boys thought was pretty cool.  We discussed the different colors used and the different animals created, as well as how they used the rock texture to actually create some of the shapes.  (Most memorably this was done with a bull.)  One of the pictures had a wounded person, which fascinated one of my kids. . .

The boys were then set free to create their own “cave art” in our small bathroom, with a candle to provide their light.  (I got this idea from another blog which I can no longer seem to find, so please understand this was someone else’s brilliant idea.)

The boys thought that was “da Bomb!”  Giggling galore ensued.  Happy children emerged from the bathroom.  It was probably the best end to the day I could have wished for.

Music – In the Beginning

So, I’m still hyper-focused on how I want to do music.

(Actually, to be perfectly honest I’m hyper-focused on about 3 different things and none of them are probably what I should be focusing on. . .)

So, how did music start?

We don’t know.  I mean, we really don’t have a clue.  But, I have noticed something that keeps coming up again and again in one of the classes I’m teaching this year:

Man takes from what he’s familiar with.

And the first sounds came from nature.

In the beginning:

– there was silence

– then there was water – babbling brooks, rushing streams, crashing oceans (maybe rains / storms?)

– then there was land / plants – air flow, rustling leaves, whistling (tumbling rocks?)

– then there was the silence of the Heavens.  (This has been my personal favorite of late.)  Actually, this is such an important part of music (the “rest”)  I think many people could learn from this.

– then fish and birds.  Whales “sing”, but they aren’t fish. . .But birds, after the above that must have been a cacophony of noise!

– then land animals.  They make music of sorts and not only vocal; thundering hooves, thumping chests, an elephant’s trumpet. . .

And then man. . .and man is notorious for taking from what they know.

One book says rattles were the first instruments. . .that was, it is believed, to emphasize the “dancing”.

That made me think of “stomp” dancing.  I wanna do that; and I think the boys would find that fun too.  That’s a music form.  (Plus, I think I could call it PE too!)

This leads into percussion, wind, and then strings. . .

I had read someone did a study of the orchestra during their ancient studies.  I think I just led into that rather nicely (at least into a study of instruments).  Now to give it a go and see how it pans out.

I’m back, moving to music

I’ve been “away” for some time.  Not really “away”, more just busy.

Last year, I had a freak out moment when a lady at co-op came up to me and said, “YOU are Core Foundations!  I KNOW you.”

I have always written with a secure sense of anonymity, and suddenly that was removed.  How. . .odd. It threw me off “my game” somewhat.  Then, I got busy. . .

The reality is, though, that I started this blog to “write”, or maybe just to “think out loud”.  So, that is what I’m back to do.

So, music has been on the brain the last couple of weeks.  Last year, I completely forgot to cover music in school with the boys, so I got “tagged” on that on my end of year school review.  (We are supposed to cover music yearly through grade 8, then one semester in highschool.)  It’s just a slap on the wrist type deal, but I still want to ensure that I don’t overlook it again this year.

This year we are doing ancient history, so I thought to myself that we’d do music to go along with that. . .

Let me just put out there that there is like nuthin’ on ancient music!  (Technically, this is not true, there is some stuff, but you have to search far and wide, and be very creative with it.)

So, I’m trying to come up with some sort of music “study” for the ancient period.  I have ideas. . .but alas no time to put them to paper right now.

Should you have ideas, feel free to share them!