Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Morning Symposium; Gotta Have It

I wrote several weeks ago about how we were going to instill a Morning Symposium into our day. Are we doing it? Yes. Are we loving it. Totally!

Flower was, shall we say, very skeptical about us actually doing Morning Symposium with regularity. So, I set the alarm on my phone for 9 a.m. When the alarm goes off,  everything stops- work, chores, breakfast, free reading, etc and we gather in the living room for Morning Symposium.

We do our Bible Study first. We are using The Story of Christianity from Memoria Press. The text is a book by the same title, written by David Hart. It is a fascinating read, a sweeping scope of the history of the Christian church, with enough detail and unique information in it to keep even my history saturated children mesmerized. The study guide by MP is, as always, excellent, thorough and thought provoking.

Next up is the History of Art: Creation to Contemporary by Veritas Press, with Art Cards. Yes, we love it. The cards are excellent quality, with great details, the text is fun and tons of review, and interesting inclusions, like artists spotlights. We aren't working too hard on memorizing the cards, but we are doing regular review and learning them all the same.

Memoria Press First and Second Form Latin forms are next. We are using Henle for Latin and the charts are a perfect fit. We do everything we are familiar with, taking about 10 minutes a day.

We recently added in our Literature selection for Challenge B- right now we are reading Little Britches. Love it. And we are doing Latin and Logic flash cards too.

Flower and I continue our time by going over Logic drill cards, too.

The kids were worried they weren't going to be able to complete their "regular" studies if we took an hour each morning together, but we are all loving the connection and quality time together so much that, as you can see, we are adding to our morning routine. Have we missed some days? Yes, but  only those days that 1 or all of us have left the house for some reason (like today, Cub is working for a friend). But if we are all home together, someone is pushing to do Symposium. It's that good.

Even thought Cub is now 16 and Flower is 13, they still create with Legos or sketch while I read, as has been our standard for years.

Morning Symposium; it's been the best addition to our year thus far. As anyone with older kids knows, it's the connection time that often suffers as our kids get older and more involved with academics and outside activities. This time has offered us connection, community and the academic inquiry into subjects that we love and are challenged by.

Do you have a Morning Symposium? If so, what do you include?

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Keep Walkin'

Flower shared this with me this afternoon.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Challenge, Challenge, Challenge

I have seriously been too busy to blog; partly because our area Classical Conversation's Challenge program has started for the year and we had barely recovered from our crazy busy summer.

Last year in June we had 8 Challenge kiddos and started in the fall with 18. This year we added another Challenge program, for a total  26 kids and 3 Directors in 3 different Challenge programs.



Everyone is seriously happy to be together again, for another awesome year of hard work, great friendships and tons of fun. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

7 Reasons I'm Excited about the Up- Coming School Year

Classical Conversations. Our local Challenge Community has grown from 6 last June to over 24 + for this coming year! What's the draw? Classical, Christian Community. Our kids are growing and laughing together, being challenged to do more than they realized they could, growing in their understanding of who God is and what their personal repsone to Him is. Is it because CC's program is magical? No. It's a program. But it's a program based on time honored principals, a Biblical foundation and leadership that takes their mandate as Christians, "To Know God and to Make Him Known" seriously.

Challenge B- woohoo, baby. We are going to drown a little in Logic before we really learn to swim, keep mastering and loving Henle Latin, delve in to Current Events (during a crazy election year, no less), read and write Short Stories (sing my literary love song!), participate in Mock Trial, do a semseter long Science Fair and create a Famous Scientists time-line and so much more. Sure, Challenge is serious academic work, but it is peppered throughout with A-Mazing projects.Yeah, I'm in love.

Challenge 2- hang on to your hats, boys and girls. It's going to be a wild-ride through all of Henle 1, Brit Lit (be still my heart), Policy Debate, the Arts (super love), writing mock art-grants. I mean, really? All done with an amazing Lead Learner (Thank-you, God, for Kari!) and amazing, like minded friends.

Morning Symposium. Morning hang-out with my peeps.

Music Lessons- piano and violin, taught by our sweet, lovely country neighbors. They are both still in high school but terrific, patient teachers Love having home-made music in the house!

Kempo Karate, baby. The kids work hard, laugh hard, are learning amazing self-defense moves and making all sorts of crazy, fun loving friends to boot. Small town bonus, right there.

Speaking of babies. Mr. Samwise is pretty fun to hang around with! 
Isn't that the cutest little face? 
KB and Mr. V have already picked out Homegrown Preschool for this little guy,

Throw in as many Old Western Culture DVD's we can fit in (all of them- we love them that much!),Grammar of Poetry, a couple of plays, TeenPact alumni events, LifeLight and hanging our with our friend, Pesach Wollinki from the CJCUC, the County Fair, Youth Group, trying to keep up with the other awesome Bibliophiles on Plumfield and Paideia  and other regular life events and it should be an awesome year! Full, and have I mentioned busy yet?, but good.  

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Memory and Hope

Jenny Rallens said something interseting in her talke the Liturgical Classroom and Virtue Formation that speaks to my little memory loving heart.
We cannot memorize with out a sense of it (senses meaning with our senses- sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell)
We can't think without memory.

Stop and ponder that for a minute. Without memory, we cannot think. I mean, really think.

  1. 1.
    have a particular opinion, belief, or idea about someone or something.
    "she thought that nothing would be the same again"
    synonyms:believe, be of the opinion, be of the view, be under the impression; More
  2. 2.
    direct one's mind toward someone or something; use one's mind actively to form connected ideas.

Withoug memory we can mimic, imitate or pretend but we can't truly think for ourselves. Given today's educational climate, that should give us all pause.

Memory is the Mother of Learning. Because without it, we remain childish in our thoughts and minds. With it, we can  brave oceans. face unbeatable odds, create sagas and symphonies, perform Shakespeare, own the poetry and prose of famous men, have the courage and conviction to face death for our beliefs.

I want that for my kids. I want that for myself. Honestly, I want that for your kids and the kids in inner city L.A. and for the kids half way around the world. I want them to be able to think. I want them to know the difference between emotion and reason, between cause and effect, between this life and the next. So that they can wonder, and marvel and have real courage, for the True things. @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, July 14, 2016


We brought back dressers from my Grandma's house. I have always love them. They are very much how my Grandma was - or at least how I thought of her when I was little -elegant, charming, detailed, whimsical, solid, hardworking, and lovely- all at once.
My Gram was small- I was taller than her at  10, but she was strong and tough as nails. She didn't put up with nonsense, but was generous and unremittingly kind. She taught me how to knit at five and the smell of the yarn, Grandpa's pipe tobacco and Grandma waft past me everytime I look at her dressers. It is the scent of being loved; the fragrance of family, and simple, important things.
Gram hand long, lovely nails, functional, not fussy as she had been a professional seamstress and the owner of a laundromat in the years when women who worked to support themselves and their diabled mother took no small amount of grit and determination. She was an old school craftswoman and her work was beautiful, functional and well made, much like this lovely dresser.
We washed the dressers with warm soapy water and then applied Linseed Oil. The directions say to wipe off the excess, but we put 4-6 coats on and it soaked right in.
Years of living in smoggy Chicago, in a house where pipe smoke was de riguer for decades had dried the wood. But it's looking a bit better today and is going, perhaps oddly enough, in the dining room where it will be seen regularly and stand as a reminder of my lovely Gram, and as a testimony to an age gone by.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Liturgical Classroom

The Liturgical Classroom is a phrase that was new to me last summer and kept coming up throughout the year, getting up close and personal as I prepared for Challenge B. While I've thought of education as Spiritual Training (Discipleship) for decades and believe that academics is really about the high calling of Knowing God and Making Him know, the word Liturgy kind of threw me.

In what way would we create a litrugical classroom and really, why should we? I listened to a terrific video by Jenny Rallens on this idea and how the Litrugical Classroom allows Virtue Formation. You can find it here. 
I heard Jenny speak last year at the Circe Conference, and the thing that impressed me most about her session was that she asked everyone to stand, raise their hands and sing the Doxology together. It was reverent, touching and inspiring. I brought that home to our CC Challenge Community Days last year; we often started our days by singing the Doxology together. While devotions were de riguer, singing together tangibly changed the atmosphere. We were all vunerable, active, participatory and humble before each other. It set a clear and distinct tone for the day and while none of us were phenomenal singers, we were all earnest, and grateful to be singing in community as it made Ecclesiastes 4:9- Two are better than one- come alive in a fresh way.

And then we did Devotions and prayer. But this year, I really want to be more intentionally focused on the whole reason we are working so hard academically, and what the whole point of community is. Sure, we want our kids well trained in order to have good vocational options. But like I have often said, smart people with no moral grounding are often arrogant people and that's not really the look we're going for.  And, too, we want our kids to have friends.  But beyond that, what?

My answer to that question is that I want my kids- your kids, our kids, all kids- to understand a few things
Study as worship, Life-long wonder and learning, Study/learning=freedom.
Community = Two are better than One, for they have a good return for their labor (Ecc 4:9). There is a lot of labor in life, When you stumble, a good friend will help you find your footing. We all stumble. You need good friends to help you find your way, keep your faith, guide your vision.

My goal for our Community Day is more robust this year. I want to create a Liturgical Classroom -not so that our kids can rotely recall words, but so that they can realize that they met God this year- in their studies, during Community Day, as they play and fellowship and eat together- and that they will be changed by the wonder and beauty of it all. A lofty goal, to be sure. But when we seek Him, we are sure to find Him.

 A Liturgical Classroom 
Sing Doxology together and then student-led Devotions and prayer.
Prayer as we break for lunch 
Give us grateful hearts, Father of all, for your mercies and make us remember the needs of others. Bless, O Lord, your gifts to our use and us to your service. Blessed are you, O Lord, King of the Universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad. For these and all your mercies, may your Holy Name be blessed and praised through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. 

Prayer as we resume our studies in the afternoon: 
Almighty and eternal God, draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, control our wills. That we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you, and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the good of your people, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

10 minute close to day:
Collect (Lectio): One thing you want to remember that you learned today
Connect (Meditatio): One thing you learned today and how it connected to something you learned earlier,
Create (Compositi): One thing you learned want to live out -write a sentence, story, poem or draw a picture about it to share.

As the students leave for the day
"God be with you/ And also with you."

We did touch on the Collect, Connect and Create last year a bit, doing it a few times. I want to make it a discipline this year. Along with the Salutations and prayers. I do believe this will add structure to transition times and a better sense of order and purpose throughout the day. And, of course, vision, without which a people will perish. 

Soli Deo gloria!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!