Well we are in our second day of our week long break. I figured after 51 days of schooling it was time for some down time. We had originally planned for a much longer break to coincide with a family vacation, but due to some work stuff on The Spouse’s end we had to toss our plans in the trash. Such is life…or at least that is what I plan to tell myself. So instead of the pre-planned three week break that was suppose to run for most of October, we are just taking off this last week of September and starting October bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

I’m going to use this time to make some final changes to our schedule and the way we do things. We are committed to year round schooling *it makes the most sense to us and gives us the most flexibility*, so now I have to figure out exactly how breaks will work. I think I have a good idea down, and I’ll have more on it once I‘ve put on the final touches. I’ve also been looking at how we do science, and have come up with a plan that I think will serve us well in that area as well. Now it is just a matter of putting all the various elements I have been tweaking together to make one solid customized homeschool plan for our family.

With that, planning each year after this one should flow rather easily, since I will know what subjects we are covering and what materials I need to gather. We’ll have an idea as to when we need to plan family vacations, *at least on our end…plans are always subjective to change*. This is where our flexibility will come in, I can plan for x-amount of days in a certain month, but if things change then we will just pick up our lesson plans and keep going until we can take our extended break for family vacation.

I’ll have much more on our lesson/schedule plans/changes/tweaks later on in the week…or possibly weekend.

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

Also titled Teaching Religion.

*I should have posted this yesterday…better late than never though.*

Why would I want to teach my kids about religion? Why should anyone teach their children about religion? Let my first start by saying teaching your kids about religion and indoctrinating your kids into a religion are two different things.

Teaching them about various religions *including your own beliefs* means presenting them with the information on the various religions *actual, factual information about holy days, the belief system, how it got started, and so forth*. Indoctrinating is when you expect your children to unquestioningly accept your way of thinking, even if it means spreading myths about other belief systems *no Atheist don‘t worship the devil hate to break it to you folks!*.

Secular homeschooling had an article on teaching the bible for cultural literacy, but I think it needs to go beyond just the bible. In America we have non-believers, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, Mormons, Pagans, Scientologist *yes…I know…I know…* on top of the Christian population. Each with its own set of beliefs, way of operating, and so on. Now can we possibly give every single religion on this planet its own special bit of time, no, but we can make sure to acknowledge most of them and spend a good bit of time on the major ones.

Why though is it so important to discuss other religions? Well from this non-believers stand point it allows for the kids to see the parallels between many of the world’s big religions. This of course allows them to think critically about these belief systems, especially if approached by someone from one of those belief systems. Also by being well versed in the religious texts of the big religions they will have a firm grasp on books that have been used for centuries to justify various acts *good and bad* that have taken place. They can understand what drives many in those belief systems, and understand that they have the right to believe as they wish *even though we may not agree with them, and that we don’t have to respect beliefs that we deem harmful and hateful*.

Finally by being taught about religion they will be able to confidently state what it is they do and don’t believe. Instead of just repeating back what they think we want to hear, they will be able to look at everything and go “yes this makes sense to me, no this doesn’t make sense to me, yes I like that part, no I really despise that part”.

Do my kids currently repeat what they hear The Spouse and I say, of course they do, they are kids. We don’t take much stock in it, given their ages. We do use it as a chance to push them to further state why they feel the way they do. Is it because we said that or is it because they have reached that conclusion on their own. Child #2 really isn’t interested in discussing religion *or anything for that matter…but given his age that I don‘t expect him to be*, Child #1 though is at the age where he can start putting things together on his own. He is still too young for The Spouse and I to say whole heartedly that his beliefs are coming strictly from his own opinions, but it is a stepping stone to further critical thinking about religion.

So how do we go about teaching religion? Well a couple of years ago I started talking about other religious holidays that took place around the same time as Christmas. Each year we have grown more in what we discuss. Last year for our Hanukah discussion we lit a candle every night and read a traditional Jewish blessing, as well as talked more and more each evening about the history of Hanukah and some of the things Jewish families do around that time of year.

Then we read stories and enjoy traditional food items of that particular holiday. The rest of the holidays go the same way, recently we branched out from winter holidays, and discussed Mabon. Our Spiral Scouts activities help with discussing Pagan holidays because it actually makes me aware of all of them. At first I was apprehensive about how we should work on the Wheel of the Year patches, I have found they are working in great with our religious education work.

I also have plans to devote at least two years to full on religious studies. Where we will do a comprehensive study of the Bible, the Torah, and the Quran. As well as minor studies *full reading of important religious text(s) but not on the in depth level of study as the other two* on Buddhism, Hinduism, UU, Mormonism, Paganism, and Scientology. From there we will look at how Catholicism differs from mainstream Christianity, and how religious views impact political views and visa versa.

This of course would be when the boys are closer to their teens, but I am looking forward to those two years because I have always found religion interesting. I plan for us to visit various houses of worship to observe and then discuss afterwards, and the boys will need to write a “term paper” *for lack of a better word* on what they learned, and how what they learned impacted their own set of beliefs, at the end of our in depth two year study of religion.

I think it would be safe to say that at that point The Spouse and I would see their beliefs as being based on their own experiences and not on just what we say. Thus ensuring that they beliefs are genuine to them and they are not just parroting their parents.

Yes secular homeschoolers have reasons other than religion for wanting to homeschool, but it *religion* is still an important topic that should be tackled right along with reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

One of the many “extra curricular” activities the boys take part in is Spiral Scouts. For those that don’t know what Spiral Scouts is, it is an inclusive alternative to BSA(Boy Scouts of America). A friend of mine gave me the information for them about a year ago. There isn’t a group on the island so I started a Hearth *solitary household group* for us so we could do everything at home, and still be able to take part in a formal Circle if we ever move to an area that has one.

We had a rocky start with it, as far as having meetings and working towards goals. Everything was/is taking place in our home and I planned to do the meetings on Sundays with some other Religious Education type stuff, but a lot of times we got caught up in regular household dealings.

We’ve finally started to get a rhythm, moving our SS stuff to the weekdays when we do our formal schooling. We also have a close family we do co-op stuff with that is doing GS *Girl Scouts* at home so we do some activities together that meet badge requirements for all the kids. So far it is panning out really well, but it isn’t the same as a typical SS group. Which I honestly would like to have so the boys could really get the full scouting experience. I’ve shared this with my friend and she completely understands, there is just something about being part of a Circle/Troop/etc. that makes the scouting experience complete.

Which brings me to an interesting turn of events and a bit of a dilemma. Last week while Child #1 was at karate practice I sat outside the dojo going through our SS notebook/handbook. After class was over I closed up our handbook, and stood on the side to wait for Child #1 to exit. As I was waiting one of the moms looked over and got a glance at what my binder said. She then asked if there was a Spiral Scouts group on island, *it took a moment for what she said to register since very few people seem to know about SS*, then I told her no, we just do it at home.

At which point she responded that we should start one on island, and that it would be fun to have a group here. I said yeah it would, and it would be fairly easy , especially when I consider the training I already have under my belt we could set up a Circle while another parent or two did the required leader training and so forth. I fought the urge to ask for her information so we could talk further on the matter. I wanted to mull it over, weigh the pros and cons of taking on a task like this.

Since I’ve been down a similar road before…

I took on creating a secular home school group when we first got on the island, it didn’t pan out, and honestly was way more of a headache then it was worth. I wanted my kids to get the “socialization” that The Spouse use to constantly ask *nag* me about and I had also bought into the idea that they *we* needed a group so they wouldn’t be “weird, unsocialized, homeschool freaks” and I could have “support“.

Hindsight being 20/20 neither they nor I needed a group. Since I have hindsight with that situation I want to apply it to this situation. Would it be worth it? Will we look back on it and go “Yes this was truly needed in our lives”, or would/will it be another moment of our lives wasted?

I am pulled by the potential this has. Considering the types of families it would attract we would be able to build friendships with families whose beliefs *both religiously and politically* mirror our own more closely. While we don’t want the boys to just be surrounded by folks who closely think like us, it does create a sense of community and oneness that most human beings crave. Being that Spiral Scouts is already an established organization there wouldn’t be a sense of starting from starch.

There would be a blueprint/handbook for how it should flow, what is expected, and so forth. That too would relieve some of the stress, especially since SS runs off of family commitment, parents are highly encouraged to take part, and given our location I couldn’t picture putting together something where the parents didn’t actively pull their weight. A drop off situation just wouldn’t fly in this situation, but can I honestly expect parents to be that involved? It’s a lot of think over, I know in the end I would really like for my kids to have something more formal when it comes to scouting, I would also love access to a UU church, because I feel there is a lot to be gained for that community, and being able to send them to Camp Quest one summer would be nice as well.

These things aren’t readily avaible to us though, such is life living overseas. And while I wouldn’t trade this living experience for some of the stateside convinces *like an established Circle, an occasional UU service, RE for the boys, and Camp Quest*, it does allow me to look at the grand picture. So I can see what I want to put the time and energy into building up, and what we can truly live without. Which is probably why I don’t see our living situation as a bad thing to despise, but as a chance to grow more, to challenge myself, to challenge the boys most importantly.

This will prove to be an interesting challenge. There are some big pros and cons to weigh. Who knows though, maybe we will do it, and maybe in a few years I will be crazy enough to take on the task of establishing a Camp Quest on this island…only time will tell.

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

I got a Blog Award!! Can you feel my excitement through your screen? I LOVE awards…unless it was an award for having the messiest house or something of that nature…that kind of award probably wouldn’t be a good thing *although I‘m sure I would earn it LOL*. But this is an awesome award, given to me by Queen Bee over at Lost Persons Homeschool. She thinks I have One Lovely Blog! Considering how often I click on my blog and mull over the layout, the ads Google puts *seriously Google, Christian homeschool ads….on my blog…come on Google!*, content, and a million and one other things, it is so nice when I get wonderful comments and then an award too!

The rules for this award are really easy, I think the hardest part will be picking just 15 blogs to receive the award.
Here are the rules:

1. Accept the award.

2. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

3. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered. Contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.

And here are the folks I’m paying it forward to *regardless if they have gotten the award before, I think their blogs are lovely as well*:

Finding the Fantastic…

Lost Persons Homeschool

Enlightened Life

I Capture the Rowhouse

St. Louis Homeschool…

Raising Three Thinkers

Grab Your #2’s

You’re Not Lost…

Bore me to Tears

Indie Education

Athena Academy

Life With Monsters

A Chat With…

Two Mom’s…

Zachary’s Classroom

Now it may take me a day or so to notify everyone of their awesome award. If you come across this before I have a chance to leave you a comment then by all means pass it on.

Thank you once again Queen Bee!

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

Yesterday I posted a link on my FB page to HLN’s section of Free Unit Studies. Well not only do they have free unit studies but get this, they are also having a sale on their regular unit studies as well! From now until September 30th if you go in and order regular priced Unit Studies then enter 1buck in the coupon code area during checkout each Unit Study is only A BUCK! How awesome is that? These Unit Studies are downloads, so no shipping and handling. If you aren’t sure that you would like their Unit Studies, check out the free ones you have until the 30th to take advantage of the one buck offer.

I love free/discounted resources, they make schooling on a budget possible. Yes ladies and gentlemen I really am that easy to please.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

…is having an art contest! For all the details click HERE! To find out what your little darling could win click HERE! To browse through the awesomeness that is Charlie’s Playhouse click HERE! Now pull out those art supplies and have some fun!

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Since we are knee deep in ancient Egyptian history I figured this Friday’s post should feature some fun freebies. Of course I found way to many to actually post in a status message on FB, so instead I will present them here. This will allow me to just post one link on FB, which is much easier, and a heck of a lot quicker. *Click the description to get to the link.*

Takes you through the history of Egyptian life , also walks you through how to play Senet *an Egyptian board game* and allows you to play the game as well.

Free eight page coloring book. Site also features history of Egypt and an index of terms with definitions. As well as recommended videos, games, and books on ancient Egypt.

Interactive game where you seek out clues to figure out which mummy is buried in the tomb.

Tour an ancient Egyptian museum exhibit.

Learn how to write with ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

Another Egyptian coloring book.

Ancient Egyptian alphabet and numbers.

Tons of useful links *to many to list everything they cover*.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

The public library is more than a repository of books. It's a mysterious, wondrous place with the power to change lives. ~Chicago Tribune literary editor Elizabeth Taylor~

Visit your local library and take a friend with you, it’s Library Card Sign-Up month!

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

I mentioned previously that we are learning about ancient Egypt in history. In order to keep with my full immersion in the time period idea, we *more like I* made traditional Egyptian kilts for the boys to wear. They will wear these *as well as some Egyptian style jewelry* on our Egyptian day, but I thought today would be a great day to make them and discuss traditional Egyptian clothing.

Now traditionally Child #1 and Child #2 wouldn’t wear clothing, since Egyptian children didn’t wear clothing. Of course while they might enjoy this, I prefer they actually wear something instead of running around with their manhood hanging out.

So to start the Egyptian kilts we pulled out some old sheer curtains that are no longer useful, due to our move and the windows being much larger than the ones at our previous house. Child #2 ran around with one on his head while saying he was a ghost, meanwhile Child #1 gathered the rest of our supplies *tape measurer, scissors, and a pencil*.

After getting all the supplies in order we had to cut the large piece of fabric down to 36x18.

Then we had to cut off 6 inches from one side to use as an apron after the kilt was finished. Afterwards, I warped the fabric around Child #1 to ensure that there wasn’t too much extra fabric. Once we did the test fit, I pulled it off and finished up the kilt.

I measured 6 inches in on both sides, then I cut up the sides in a curve shape *not that great of a curve…but it’s close enough*.

Then I warped it around Child #1 using large paper clips to fasten it instead of safety pins. First I pinned the under portion to his shorts, then I warped it around *tucking the fringe into his shorts*, next I slid a paperclip onto the side. Child #1 said he couldn’t feel them at all which was great, and of course I didn’t have to worry about accidentally poking him like I would with a safety pin. Finally I tucked the apron in, instead of pinning it I just tucked it into his shorts. I had to fold the apron in half due to its’ size. Folding it turned out for the best, since it added an extra layer, which gave more cover in the front.

The Spouse was home today and thought the kilt was very cool. It's always nice when he gets to see the hardwork we put in first hand.

*Directions came from the Spend the Day in Ancient Egypt workbook.*

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

I recently started a fan page on Facebook for this blog. This will allow folks interested in discussing homeschooling to reach me while keeping my personal Facebook page private. I figured what better way to spread fun, useful, affordable homeschooling info then by using that fan page. So every Friday *unless I forget or something comes up* I will post an educational freebie on that page. I’ll post other cool things I come across as well, but the free stuff will be on Fridays.

So head on over and see what freebie I have found to share!

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Well I missed last week’s Secular Thursday and I would love to post while it is still Thursday somewhere. So HERE is an educational video featuring Carl Sagan.

To learn more about Secular Thursday click HERE.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Well it’s after 1pm, the boys are enjoying quiet time and I’m exhausted. I’ve hit “The Wall” as runners call it. I think you all know what I mean. You are staring down the barrel of the weekend, you missed breakfast because errands took priority *mainly the errand to get food in the house since the kids devoured the last breakfast bars already*.

That is where I am…anxiously waiting *while savoring every second of quiet time bliss* for the door to open and The Spouse to declare he is home for the next four days. Although this could go either way *making more work than actual relaxation for me* but…at the very least I won’t be required to move from the bed until at least 830am *9am if I‘m really lucky*.

I don’t like hitting “The Wall” though. In fact it makes me feel weak and defeated. Especially when I know I could have easily turned off The Nanny marathon that kept me up until 1am *sometimes 2am*, I’ve seen it before, I know how it ends. Even if Mr. Sheffield *done in my best *or worse as the case may be* Fran voice* is oh so dreamy and far more appealing than my pillow, I must give into the pillow…not the sexy British accent. I will admit this is hard…oh so hard. So what does one do to avoid that feeling they always mention in those 5hour energy drink commercials?

Well about a month or so ago I talked about my epiphany…and unfortunately it went out the window the moment my cable box *and the sexy Brit* came in the bedroom door…so I have come up with a new plan. One I have no choice but to except, because if I watch one more Nanny marathon all the way through I am finished! My boys will be stuck teaching themselves while mommy enjoys sleeping until noon, and after their bowel movement song in the frozen food section of the grocery store today… I think it is best they have some adult supervision while learning.

So here is my new game plan:

1. Fix my alarm clock so I can actually wake up early enough to get breakfast on the table at a decent time…so I don’t have to hope that what The Spouse choose to feed them before he walked out the door that morning wasn’t covered in either sprinkles, chocolate chips/chocolate syrup, or movie style butter.

2. Mark designated computer times for myself with actual sites I need to hit *and want to hit* and allotted a certain amount of time for each one. This should *hopefully* allow me to get the most out of my computer usage while not having to be on it right before bed…because an hour before bed often turns into three…especially if I find something really awesome to read online.

3. Set the sleep timer on my bedroom TV. Yes this may mean not getting to see something I really want to see, but it will also mean I actually get sleep *which is the most important thing, since it ensures I’m at least half-way functioning throughout the day*.

4. Handle small chores throughout the day so they don’t become massive pains in the rear end at night. I know I’ve done it more times than I can count…I’ve made/served breakfast or lunch…gazed over at the sink and then responded “I wonder if *insert friend’s name* put up *insert something random that I would find of interest*?”.

At which point the dishes shed a tear because they are once again neglected, and I go give some face time to that darn Facebook. Whereas, if I just suck it up and take it like a big girl I could enjoy my evenings instead of having to spend them improving the self-esteem of my kitchen.

5. *This is a big one*. Actually eat something that has some nutritional value. Really am I the only one who has this problem? I will give the kids something and never does it enter my mind that maybe I should make a plate for myself too. Instead I go on to the next thing on my list of things to do. Then quiet time hits and my stomach loudly protest the neglect I have put it through. At which point I go and grab the nearest and quickest thing, or I act like it’s Child #2 throwing a fit and ignore it.

Neither of which is good for me…but that last bite of cookie dough ice cream sure is yummy. Until I realize that in the process of getting to the last bite I just ate a whole pint…a yummy pint yes…but not so yummy on the midsection.

So that is my new game plan.
It’s just five small little things…that *hopefully* I can actually follow through on. I’ll keep telling myself that I can ,while I march upstairs and try to rationalize why I need to set the timer for an hour later than I know I should be up.

The Golden Girls comes on tonight though… maybe I could just hire a maid, stock up on 5hour energy drinks, and low-fat ice cream instead…

The latter sounds way more appealing then a bedtime...

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes