Monday, June 6, 2016

Ten Days - Just Ten Days!

June 6: 10 Days ‘til We Hit the Road!

It’s been a busy few days since I last posted…It’s been a Hot few days too!
I guess that I’d better get used to the heat; it’s a wonder that someone like me who prefers to stay indoors on such hot days and even more so prefers to stay indoors even in the mild climate of Washington State is signing up to travel to some of the hottest regions that our country has!  But as my DH pointed out, “On a hot summer day, I can’t think of anything better to do than to be sitting in a car for eight hours with the AC on taking in new sights…if you’re going to be doing anything, that’s it!”  I must concur.  As the last few days have proven, our house gets exceptionally um, “warm” on sunny days so sitting at home for the bulk of the summer roasting and sweating this year is not my idea of delightful nor is it on my itinerary.  My idear of delightful is driving from scenic location to scenic location in a climate controlled air-conditioned car stopping to photograph such beautiful landmarks as this country is blessed with and I am blessed to be able to see, getting back into Air-Conditioned Car!, stopping for the night in a lush hotel with plump soft beds, fluffy pillows and a cool out-door swimming pool to slosh around in…THAT will be lovely.
In the meantime, I’m trying to not get too antsy – living one day at a time vs. being too excited for the vacay to get here ‘cuz once it does, well, that will fly by…and I’m a big believer in living one day at a time.  Making the most of each day (although truthfully, all I’ve done today is check my FB, check my email, check Craigslist, read photography articles, read political articles, repeat.  Oh!  And I took a nap!).
But what I mean is, feeling like “I can’t wait to get out of here!” takes away from the joy of just being here in the meantime, and by the Grace of God, I pray nothing and no one would ever steal my joy!
Blessings on ya’ today…have a good one! 

P.S.  And please remember today is D-Day… If you don’t know what that is – please take a second and look it up, thank you!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Countin' Down!

Countin’ Down!!

So…I have been a minute in getting back to my blog – isn’t that the way of it?  But I have exciting news that has been simmering on the back burner and it’s just been moved to the front!
WHAT? Is this Momentous News that has me bursting from all seams?!

Well, it’s just this…My JoTucker and I are heading out on the road in exactly 16 days!  Just him and I!  And when I say out on the road, I mean, that – Lord willing – all our scheduled stops are found within no less than FIFTEEN states!  And we might just try to hit a few more!
I’m still wrapping up my itinerary – it’s pretty much finalized, I do tweak it every now and again, but I’m not showing it to anybody! ;-)  It’s going to be a grand surprise as we visit various locations and I post the pictures from each of these adventures.
I welcome you to come along as it will be a geography lesson to boot!  I’ll try to incorporate history with my anecdotes and stories and photographs…Oh!  And photographs!  We just bought both Josiah and myself “new” cameras specifically for this trip.  I want to photograph EVERYTHING! (Well, when don’t I?)  And Josiah will be getting in-depth photography lessons from his Momma; heck he may come back more a pro than his Momma!… Now the outfits that we purchased are small and light…I’m really hoping that I will be able to work with this one “Nifty Fifty” lens on a crop sensor camera, especially with regards to landscapes and structures and things like that which almost demand wide-angles…
Anywho, not to blab on for too much longer, I must get back to my itinerary…It’s a pretty time consuming task too.  When I’m not “working”, I work on it. 
Working?  Nope, I didn’t get a job.  I have been blessed with numerous NUMEROUS opportunities to earn money in the last month.  As soon as I put the word out that I was in need of earning some fundage for said trip, I had people bowl me over with blessings in the form of tasks and labor and it’s definitely helping to ease my mind with regard to the budget to see the sights and places that I have determined that we NEED to see.  From the ordering of $4 a dozen homemade flour tortillas (and, yes, they’re Grrreat!) to $60 meals to Photo shoots to Landscaping Jobs to purchasing some of my books and furniture to even cooking for the tribe!…I have had multiple streams of income and they have all helped – in some way – to fund this trip.
Because of all this work, Consequently, with regards to formal lessons, we haven’t been doing any, lol…That’s alright…As liberal a method as homeschooling is…he’ll be learning.  We’ll be living Geography (identifying where we are) and history (identifying what happened there) as well as keeping a timeline, a history and geography notebook with colored maps, and marking the routes we follow on our beautiful road atlas. Math (distances and budget), not to mention actual formal lessons from his book we’ll take along.  Josiah -as well as I - will be practicing photography as well as Spanish since my parents will be traveling with us the first part of our trip and I have requested almost 100% Spanish spoken!  We’ll be “doing” art: visiting museums as well as sketching and coloring with watercolor pencils what we see and again, taking photos.  Science comes from studying Nature and all of God’s creation outside of our own small boundaries.  He will be keeping a daily journal so there’s his writing..  We’ll be doing a bit of creative cooking as we learn together how to grill out in order to save money on eating in restaurants and with all the hiking that we’ll be doing?  Well, you’d better believe we’re getting some serious Monthlong P.E.!  And, of course, we are both packing along two or three or more good literary novels to keep our brains and language skills sharp, helping us to make a connection to what we are seeing and experiencing as all of them will be connected to our travels.
We are just so blessed at this opportunity and I pray that the Lord that I serve will bless our trip as mightily as he’s blessed every moment leading up to it!

Alrighty, well, I’m hoping to start really getting some responses while I’m out on the road and hopefully make some new friends out here in Internet Land!  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

Class Is In Session

So just how does one “Homeschool”? 
Well, there are so many manners and methods that are available to model your own individual “school” after and, yet, everyone is absolutely individual. 
But one thing is for sure – We do it all from “Home” (or at least homebased) whether that home be in a Rural Country Doublewide; A Suburban Split-level; An urban Condo High-Rise; or even in an RV traveling across this great country or leaping the ponds to another.  School from home – wherever home may be found – is a constant action taking place with your student constantly (well, unless they’re sleeping) learning.
But HOW does one homeschool?
I don’t know how others do it.  We've designed our homeschool to work best for us.
That’s the awesome thing about Homeschooling – it’s personalized to the family as well as to the individual within the family unit as well as to the day and to the year!
For the Johnston’s Homeschool aka “Academia Christian Homeschool” – we have one goal that we aim for in everything we learn:


There is no “busy” work.  There are no pointless “fun” assignments or activities that keep my child’s learning boxed within a parameter designed by someone else.
We just do Life.  And in Living…we learn.
This family follows the ‘general’ guidelines of Charlotte Mason but we can be considered Eclectic in that we incorporate just a touch of Traditional Classical as well as a touch of Mama Johnston too!
There are so many facets to education anyway and over time, we’ll touch on all points to our own Model of Homeschooling -
But the absolute main point in our method is this:
We choose only the Best books from which to learn.  

No Twaddle!

What is Twaddle? 

Twaddle is in its most general definition: worthless, trivial, foolish, nonsense speech or writing.

…and doesn’t that sound like the bulk of the reading being done by kids (and adults!) both in school and at leisure these days? 
They are simplified, non-challenging bits of foolish reading. I refer mainly to the Fiction but how about Modern Non-Fiction? 
Most Non-Fictions today are Dry books, full of base, boring facts or Busy (loud) with images that scream in your face for attention overriding the words themselves.  Often they are simply written by people who simply make their living from writing in general.…
I abhor most modern books (not all) for children especially those which are Dumbed Down er, simplified or marked at “grade” level.  Gah!

(How impertinent does one have to be to decide that someone else’s child should be reading at any particular “level” at all?  And then fit basic, non-creative words to fit that level.)
“There is absolutely no avenue to knowledge but knowledge itself, and the schools must begin, not by qualifying the mind to deal with knowledge, but by affording all the best books.” – Charlotte Mason Towards A Philosophy of Education, Vol. 6.    
Charlotte Mason believed that kids did not need to be spoken down to.  They did not have to have things "explained" to them, that they were certainly capable of taking in information and deducing on their own.
Self - Learners being presented with the Facts set before them and Self - learning from them:
In the reading of Living Books, You will watch your kids grow in knowledge and understanding as they read the words of people passionate about subjects of which they write or in the reading of Literature, The Great Authors of Old splay out their Words as a Feast on Each page; perseverance, as they are challenged by words and patterns in writing not common to our lexicon anymore.  Wisdom and Discernment as they see the past open up to them and the errors and ways of man repeat themselves through history and can distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, truth from lies. 

By the best books, too, we begin absolutely and foremost with the Bible:  Heavy on stories, Poetic in its writing, historical in its context and educational in its substance – it IS our primary schoolbook - we hold everything against the Bible to determine that piece's worth or "truth".

Now, It might not strike you odd that my almost fourteen year old, Fishing and Hunting and all things Outdoor Loving, Backwards Baseball Cap and Carhartt Wearing, Firewood splitting, Fort Building, Backwoods-y, Self-proclaimed Hillbilly Dude's Dude of a Son hates video games but that he would always prefer to read - not OVER all these things but rather -  while doing all these things and in his time of rest as well - in fact, THAT is his rest.
And everything he reads is of substance.
Not at my insistence (maybe – from time to time – with my encouragement) ;-) .  Right now, he’s reading – some as part of his lesson work, some as free reading – Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” and Booker T. Washington’s “Up From Slavery”…and he loves them all.
Now I don’t mention this to brag – and I truly pray that it does not come off that way - but rather to encourage anyone else who might not realize that if this is the education that you desire for YOUR child, It’s totally available to you, and while it may take a minute to instill - especially if you're instilling this following a bout of Public School -  its effects will last for a lifetime.
I am beginning to truly see the fruits of our labors with my youngest.  I’ve already seen them in my Oldest.
Anyway, enough of my tome today!
Check out for guidance and a thorough “K-12” Booklist plus all the words of wisdom and the guidance that you need to implement a truly challenging and educational curriculum for your kiddos.
Check out for a wonderful  array of free online reading or inexpensive published living books.
Check out for some excellent Historical guides as well as free online reading and downloadable e-books as well.
Check out for a delightful array of Public Domain titles that is being added to daily! Lots of goodies for Mom and Dad there too!
Every one of these websites is fired up in this household every morning and like a smorgasbord of delicious and delightful good things, we pick and choose from them the books that will delight and teach by the day, by the month, by the year! 

And if you have ANY, ANY questions, please send them my way!  I believe so heartily in the advantages of homeschooling that I desire to see every family who feels the calling to do it succeed! 

Coming next week... Our Curriculum and Book List line-up for the next Five Years!!!  
Stay Tuned!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What a Proper Education Is...

This week...

I am determined to stay with my blog(s).  My apologies for the fact that I haven't really posted much; I take comfort in the fact that there probably aren't too many folks who are reading this particular blog (yet!) and thus are not injured precariously by my tendency to NOT post! 

I am hoping to stay on top of my posting for the fact that as we are such Classical, Charlotte Mason fans, I have decided to start a Charlotte Mason/Classical homeschool Co-Op.  Well, I have not determined if it will be co-op or if I will just offer "tutor"ing or rather, "mentor"ing.  I do feel so strongly about this style of learning that I would want to ensure that the manner of learning for all these bumkins would be entirely in this form, as opposed to fluff, frou-frou, or twaddle being taught.  I hope that I do not sound like a snob.  I truly am a matter of fact, I'm as hill-billy as they come! However, I do so value my children's education, their time, my time and the other Homeschool parents' time as well, that to do anything less than the Best while in my classes would feel sacrilege to the cause of classical learning.  Hmmmm, I do sound like a snob.  Well, so be it.  My apologies.  But this just shows how amazing this style of learning is!  Yes, it is old-fashioned but the best education stems from the old methods.  Modern Education is not based on Education at all; purely socialization and facts...Dry, boring, crusty and hard to swallow, let alone enjoy, facts. After trying Charlotte Mason or Classical or the wonderful merger of both styles and seeing the response in your children...You will never want to settle with your childrens' education with anything less! 

If you don't know the where to start with the no-frills, challenging yet fun, Charlotte Mason Classical style Education then I strongly advise checking out my heroes at http://amblesideonline; I go to them for guidance, book lists, exam questions, Socratic questions and inspiration.  The other excellent resources that I use immeasurably are, (or Baldwin) or ; these websites are jammed full of books which are heavily laden with History written as biographical stories giving character to the people and events that make up our past instead of just nameless faces and meaningless dates. Or providing grown up Literature from Shakespeare or even Dante, written for children but keeping the essence of the plays, poetry or stories so that it is still inspiring and yet understandable and entertaining.  They are not an explanation of what Shakespeare was writing, not a breakdown of what he is trying to say.  It is what Shakespeare wrote but written by some of his most adoring fans for the hearts and heads of little ones who might not otherwise understand...I mean, who understands Shakespeare?!  Only those who grow to love it!  And study it!  And live it.  And breathe it.  But these were written in a time when the Lexicon of the standard child was mountains greater to the standard 10th Grade vocabulary of the general populace of today.  Books rewritten for today's child makes the reading "easy" or "difficult" but there is no vast array of words implanting themselves into the mind.  Just the same typical ones that we would be likely to use in everyday conversations...Literature uses words as art, expounding instead of just expanding.  Soaring instead of just flying.  Blithely instead of just happily.  How will these children ever really know the beauty of words when those words never make it into their books and hence never into their minds.  The typical modern vocabulary is is not going to give that desire to read more. According to Wikipedia - which by the way, is not my source for all things true, unbiased or factual - but according to them (emphasis mine):" In first grade, an advantaged student (i.e. a literate student) learns about twice as many words as a disadvantaged student. Generally, this gap does not tighten. This translates into a wide range of vocabulary size by age five or six, at which time an English-speaking child will have learned about 1500 words."  There it is.  I was blessed with an educated father.  His vocabulary was large thus mine tended to be a bit more evolved than those of most of the people I knew; However, I was never interested in increasing my education beyond that required of me by my Public School and so hit my pinnacle of speech at, I would guess, approximately 18 years old.  I maintained this average well through my adult years.  And then... I became a homeschooling mom!  I began learning right alongside my boys; reading the same books, studying the same regions, memorizing the same speeches and sonnets. And it was just this last year when I realized that in speaking with others - in conversation or the likes that - I would seek for the exact words that might solidify what EXACTLY I was trying to say, I could search my mind for a word and find one!  And not just any general term but one specific to our topic at hand.  And now I seem to have words at the ready!  On the tip of my tongue, ready to be put to work and ready to prove my opinion or support my belief.  Ready to tell an embellished story or ready to quote a great Orator.  I love it!  And you will too...I promise!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back To School!

It's not the first day of school for any of us in this household but it's the first day where everyone is back in the swing of things.  Although the real "first" day of school for everyone was last Wednesday, I did continue to assign to and require homework - primarily in the way of reading fine Literature - of all my children throughout the Summer so the new school year, at least for my homeschooling boys, didn't really come with any grand "Back to School" pomp.  My Public School daughter did have to do some school clothes shopping but we are learning to sew together in order that she can begin to sew and create her own outfits and this place is always lousy with school supplies...we have entire drawers full!  She did want a color scheme for all her binders, folders and notebooks this year - sparkly pink and sparkly silver- and she is my only girl and her requests are small, so, of course, I had to honor that.  Needless to say, she is hooked up.

Anyway, back to homeschooling.  I have been homeschooling both my boys for the last two years.  I am somewhat dismayed and yet glad to admit that it has taken nearly the entire two years to really pinpoint our goals and thus, our curriculum.  Hm, let me rephrase that, as I'm not saying what I want to quite right.  We have always known full well our goals for our kids. To raise intelligent, Godly kids with a hunger to learn.  Easy enough.  The problem was, I was having a hard time getting there. I was not finding curriculum that would feed either those needs or those desires.  As I began my search, I kept them busy with textbooks given to me by homeschooling friends (thank the Lord for them).  And I would scour Goodwill and other bookstores seeking out primarily Christian textbooks or at the very least Christian friendly.  And, of course, we ordered them in from various websites.  The boys would do the work happily enough but it seemed to just bore them and when completed they just wanted to watch "TV" (We don't actually have cable. Truth is, we only have Netflix and movies on DVD.  We've not had cable for the last sevenish years and I would highly suggest any parent, especially a Christian homeschooling parent, should go this route!)   I wanted more for them.  I wanted them to love what they were learning so that they needed to know more, ya' know?  I wanted them to want to want to pick up a book and read it over scrolling their Ipod or playing Video games.  I am not opposed to such things per se' but it seems to me that too much valuable time is spent in these arenas and I want their brains charged not numbed.  Though, I was (and still am) very involved in lesson planning, it felt like they were still getting taught like they did in school. And it didn't matter if the books were Christian - though I am very grateful that there is that choice out there- but they just seemed as dry and uninteresting as the secular textbooks with the same facts and expectations of my kids but again with the appropriate references to God.  My thought?  If this methodology isn't working for the schools, in general, in educating then it's not the method for my kids or me.  I wanted for them an education that would strengthen their Knowledge and abilities to seek out those things they desired to learn.

I am a problem solver and daily I met with the Lord asking for him to help me find "it". There was no real A-ha! moment but in guide and internet searching, I came across addresses for a Charlotte Mason Education.  As I started to read into her methodology, I was like, YES!  We are definitely headed in the right direction.  She uses Classic Literature and Poetry.  Duh! Not just references to Classic Literature or Poetry as the textbooks do.  The kids read entire books not just passages fit in intermittently into a textbook where the child develops no relationship with the story or the book or the author. She encourages kids to read the same Literature that adults do and throw out anything "Twaddly" (explanation - another day!) They learn to write using the methods of the masters as a basis for teaching.  They learn their lessons through the actual words of them who made History!  This is almost perfect. We began to redesign our "curriculum" by getting rid of textbooks (except to keep the occasional one as a spine) and start reading the classics. So, again, we're on the way to what I was envisioning for them but I still wasn't resolved to use the CM method entirely.  I still envisioned something more.  More internet searches.  Library searches, etc.  Then I came across the The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise; combine that with Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, Dorothy Sayers "The Lost Tools of Learning" and we have nailed our curriculum.  We use the Trivium to teach in the "correct" timeframes and order and apply our expectations as appropriate to each age.  These methods all use "Great Books" and the teaching of Latin and Greek to help us go back to our ancestors and understand right from their mouths what they were trying to say instead of watered down, possibly fallacious interpretations by folks who are writing sub par textbooks trying to cram "everything" that can be learned into them.  And with the schools dismissing History at only two years' worth of classes, well, the general youth population is indeed missing out on those important lessons from the past which can help prevent the same mistakes today.

A bit extreme?  A bit challenging? They love it.  Love. It.  They are interested and excited about what they learn. They are not spending all their time filling in questionaires or worksheets.  Circling one of three choices.  They are simply reading, digesting, discussing, questioning. The 16 year old is engaged in thorough conversation about things he's learning and the 10 year old is a goldmine of information.  We use Ambleside Online for the general selections of reading lists and ideas. For the bulk of the boys' learning, we rely on Heritage History and The Baldwin Project as well as Gutenberg.  All of these websites offer classic literature - free- with additional inexpensive lesson plans or there are actual published books on Baldwin and HH that you can purchase.  No more expensive textbooks or curriculums.  We read what we are studying from the original authors and then we talk about it.  We question it.  There is so much more to the varieties of learning methods here but I've already written a tome so in the end, I think what I love about this method of learning is this: it is so simple.  It is how our ancestors learned.  It is how the Founding Fathers learned.  It's how we as a nation learned until the big change in the 19th Century...but that is a subject for another day.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I am a Mother of a Homeschooler...

Hi All! 
Welcome to my blog! 
Sorry about the basic Font, but, I'm going bare minimum on this and as such have no fancy fonts to give you to read from.
A little intro to me:
       This is not my first blog.  I've had a blog on Weight Loss and Faith..I grew in Faith and <sadly> I grew in my weight again as well!
    I've had a blog about my photography studio which was a phenomonal success...Too much of a success maybe; 
    I had too many clients and realized how much I hated taking pictures as a career!  (If you want to see any of my former photography~ you can check out my FB page ~ just send me a msg first saying you saw my blog and you can see my pics ~there's not alot there but there are a few mini albums...) Although, I was very happy in my business, it wasn't what God truly wanted me to do, I can tell you that with certainty!  I just wish I had listened more beforehand! 
     I have a blog about our farm and business, Hodgepodge Hobby Farm & Cottage...A mouthful?  Indeed.  A pleasant place to live and be?  Very much so.  It's planting season but I paused to take a moment since, though, it may be a lovely Spring day, it feels very much like a late Winter day outside this afternoon!  And maybe I am actually starting this blog this evening in order to evade the evening planting that I had had in mind!  ;0)
      But, moreso, I know that ~ as with any of my ventures and consequently, my blogs ~ I am starting this with a passion to share that which I love!  and
      and, more importantly, my KIDS love Homeschooling!
      I have three kids and at this point in time they range in age from 16 down to 9.  I homeschool my two boys, my eldest and youngest child, respectively.  At this time, my 14 year old daughter chooses still to go to public school.  I give her that choice because she thrives there ~ without issue and without self ~degradation.  But, I ask her every year as the year begins what she wants to do and at some point, I do hope that my DD will make that decision to have school at home.  (for Homeschooling Naysayers, I will add that though my daughter is "thriving" she has nowhere near tapped into her potential as my boys have...and that's a promise!  Her level of responsibility is less, academia is well below each of them and well, you get the idea!) 
      Some of my homeschooling sisters and brothers. then. might wonder why I don't just pull her out and MAKE her homeschool...well, I do know that my other two had the option to choose this homeschooling option so I allow her the same.  (But, hopefully, soon....!  Lord willing!)
      Anywho, I hardly think that anyone will really find their way to this blog, especially when there are sooooo many other phenomonal homeschooling blogging Mamas out there!  But, if anything, I figure that this can be a place where I might just journal my thoughts, ideas, struggles (homeschooling ain't always peaches & cream!), concerns, prayers, etc.
       Well, I went out and checked on the planting and it appears that the DH has already taken care of it for me...awwwwww, I love that man!
       More from me tomorrow!  And thanks again for popping by!