The home stretch

As of this coming Tuesday, we’re done with Classical Conversations till September! The 3 Amigos and I are ready to wrap it up, especially since the original end date was in late March.

But because of all the snow days, here we are finishing up CC community in April, right before Easter. It has been a wonderful eight months of educational leaps and bounds by both the boys and their teacher (me)!

Gabriel and Zeke have shown great maturation in their respective classes. Gabe’s weekly presentations have vastly improved, and Zeke’s confidence to offer up answers has increased immensely.

This sassy cattle tries to reach Gabriel’s feed during our horse-drawn wagon ride through Lazy 5 Ranch, which is just north of Charlotte.

Zeke’s CC tutor even calls him a “crackerjack at history,” and Gabe’s tutor probably thinks the same about him. After all, all my boys are little history buffs, and their passion for geography is a close second. Just like their mama, the 3 Amigos are utterly intrigued by maps.

I’m so proud of the twins competently tackling this first year in CC. And am just as overjoyed at Houston’s big-boy handling over his second year in the classical program!

Just like last year, Cycle 2’s memory work was fun and exciting, but often pretty challenging. I mean, the dudes learned approximately 500 pieces of information. It was quite remarkable (as both a mother and home-educator) seeing their capabilities stretch, their capacities deepen, and their knowledge grow. What a blessing!

“Should I feed this guy or save my feed to ward off the obnoxious ostriches at the end of the wagon ride?” Houston ponders.

I’m such a proponent of homeschooling that I’ve been cheering on an increasing number of women at church who want to take the plunge. I even had a two-hour coffee date with a gal named Holly, just so she could pick my brain and I could offer up any helpful suggestions.

I’ve decided I’m unabashedly co-opting Timothy Leary’s 1960s mantra, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”  The famous hippie “urged people to embrace cultural changes through the use of psychedelics and by detaching themselves from the existing conventions and hierarchies in society.”

Well, home-based educators don’t need LSD to challenge the statist structure of government education or to tweak the norms of cultural conformity. We only a strong will and the grace of God to confront conventional authority, and then get ‘er done. Whatever encouragement I can give to spread the homeschool love, baby!

This critter’s strategy to cozy up Zeke in order to get grub doesn’t quite pan out. Luckily for all the other hungry animals, Zeke warms up to the feeding process once he spots some of his beloved Texas longhorns.

We had a couple CC outings in March. First, we trekked all the way to Lazy 5 Ranch. Visiting this unique drive-through exotic-animal park (which receives no state or federal funding) has been on our must-do list for a few years now, and it was totally worth the long drive south. So cool!

Then we attended “American Voices,” a children’s concert put on by the local symphony.  The kids, especially after having studied some great composers in CC this year, have quite a penchant for fancy music, so they truly appreciated the show.

The performance featured tunes by George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, and a few other notable homegrown composers. But the conductor also treated the kids to some trivia and a few stage antics, like people in a horse suit trotting out during a Western-themed song. He even took a pie in the face for the kids!

Here’s part of our CC crew @ Lazy 5: (from L to R) Tyrnan, Zeke, Eli, Knox, Briggs, Houston & Gabriel. Good times for sure!

While we’re on the topic of music, let me just say how impressive Houston’s piano playing has gotten. He was struggling with note recognition back in the fall and, thus, getting frustrated with practice. Then Miss Julie recommended a few iPad games to help him build this essential music skill … the strategy that worked brilliantly!

Once Houston became confident in his note reading, his dexterity and proficiency drastically improved, and his overall performance style is more polished and relaxed. Houston truly loves piano now … so much so, that I often have to pull him away from playing just so we can get other things done.

Houston and Stephen were even playing a duet the other night, with son on piano and father on guitar. It was such sweet music to my ears! Our hope is that Houston’s passion for piano will help motivate Stephen’s and my longtime goal of allocating more of our down time at home to playing music as a family.

While at the re-enactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Gabriel pretends to be a Revolutionary War militia man w/ the help of his friend Eli’s wooden gun and tricorne hat.

The 3 Amigos are all playing baseball this spring. Houston is on a coach-pitch team, whereas Gabriel and Zeke are doing strictly t-ball.

They’re really into learning the many rules of the game, as well as the history of America’s pastime, and Daddy is more than happy to be a booster of their baseball enthusiasm. And just like the ultra-superstitious players in the big league, Houston even where’s the same socks to every game.

Stephen’s birthday was 4/5, and the kids wanted to buy him something with their own money. So, we carefully counted out $5 from each of their piggy banks, and went to Hallmark to shop around for something sentimental, yet affordable.

The result: a nice Tervis tumbler that reads, “Best Daddy Ever.” Yep. Glad my kind boys like showing their deserving daddy some sweetness and love!

Batter up! Zeke prepares to hit for his team, the A’s, during his first baseball game on 3/22.

This past week, Stephen and I road-tripped to Liberty University to attend a lecture by author, historian, Austrian-economics expert, chief architect of The Ron Paul Curriculum, founder of Liberty Classroom, host of a daily podcast, father of six, and all-around nice guy, Tom Woods. But to get to Lynchburg, we had to figure out what to do with our brood.

Luckily, my great friend, Christie, accepted the offer to have all three kids to her house for a sleepover. (Of course, I owe her the same favor with her three kids, which she is eagerly looking forward to cashing in.) Needless to say, Stephen and I enjoyed our “night off.”

But what’s funny is how starkly times have changed for this old married couple. It used to be we’d travel to Phish concerts and then pop in a tape of the band for the trip home. Now we travel to speeches by libertarian thinkers, and listen to podcasts about anarcho-capitalism after “the show.” Life sure is stranger than fiction.

Snapping the obligatory shot with the lecturer, here we are with Dr. Tom Woods: he is to libertarian thought what Trey Anastasio is to rock & roll.

Other March and April happenings:

  • Houston traveled to Virginia for a solo long weekend at Gramsey and Papa’s and got to hang with lots of Richmond family.
  • I got together with the remarkable women from my abortion-recovery class for the first time since we completed the 10-week study back in February 2012. A belated outing, so glad we finally made it happen.
  • We went to see the re-enactment of Battle of Guilford Courthouse, but Granny was in tow for this year’s historical fun.
  • Miss Jessie, who we haven’t seen since her wedding in January, stopped by the house for ice cream, catching up, and a little play time with the boys.

Lastly, if you haven’t donated to the Walk For Life, please consider doing so. Your generosity and support of this incredible, life-affirming ministry would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!