Monday, April 30, 2012

Used Book Sales

I have been looking forward to this time of year since this time last year - the season of used book sales hosted by local homeschool support groups. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

My girlfriends and I make an evening of waiting outside in line for the sale to open, rushing in to shop all the great deals, then heading out for girl talk over margaritas and Mexican food. Of course we have to follow all of this up with a coffee trip. What's not to like about used book sales?

I no longer really shop for "curricula", but I still find lots of helps and a ton of books. Check out my finds this weekend - $30!

If you homeschool, you absolutely must find used curriculum and book sales going on in your area. Check with local homeschool support groups to see if they have annual sales. You absolutely will not find better deals than straight from homeschool families needing to empty their shelves to make room for the next year's treasures.

Happy book shopping.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

(Wishful) Excellence in the Garden

My very first homegrown tomato!

This is a really big deal. I have the darkest black thumb you can fathom. And coming from my grow-and-make-everything-yourself family, that's a bit of an embarrassment.

You can imagine my surprise as I went out to the garden to water and found this little guy waiting for me on the ground. And the birds didn't even get to it before me.

He's a Supersweet 100 variety. I haven't eaten him yet. He's sitting on my counter top as my trophy.

Here's a few others that look to be showing potential of developing into something.

This guy's an Amelia. All the other blooms have fallen off this plant. Looks like everything it has is going into this one fruit. He may be a one fruit wonder.

Here are my Celebrities. I'd say potential for excellence, no?

And in other parts of the baby blueberries! No blooms yet.

And this guy just popped up from where I dumped my compost bucket. Considering the little I know about angiosperms, and the types of foods I prepare for dinner, I'd call him something of a squash or a melon. It'll be a nice little surprise for the family!

I truly have only wishful excellence in the garden. It's my very first one, so it's a learning year. Maybe year-by-year my black thumb will eventually fade to green.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pursuing My Own Education

One of the channels I am pursuing excellence in is my own continued education. Since I have began homeschooling my kids, I've realized how much I undervalued the time that I had in my own traditional learning years to really get an education. My attitude was probably the same as many -- put in the time to get the degree I need to get on with "real life".

I really regret that I was in such a hurry during this life stage. Most likely, never again will I get an opportunity to have concentrated study time to learn about the great ideas that have been set forth and the great minds that are preserved through literature. Now my learning must come through 15 minutes of reading here, 20 minutes of podcasts there, in between preparing meals and tending to needs.

That's OK. My blessings in life abound. One of those blessings is being on this side of the Guttenberg press, and on this side of the World Wide Web, so I can pursue ideas to ruminate on anytime the chance arises, not just when I can be with an instructor or tutor. Ahhh...this makes me smile.

In my early youth I had no interest in reading anything that could remotely come close to being labeled "classic", especially if it was assigned by a teacher. Talk about drudgery! And having to remember what color hat was floating in the water when some random character drowned for the pop quiz that was sure to follow the next day....instead of reading the assigned selection I spent my time figuring exactly how low of a score I could make on said pop quiz and still squeak by with an 'A' in the class. I did spend a lot of time reading; it was just twaddle and junk that I poured into my mind.

But somewhat recently I decided I need to be better read, especially if I plan to really educate my children and to encourage the enthusiasm for learning that I didn't have while young. So, I picked up Jane Eyre. I think it was because a friend had suggested it as an easy entrance to the classics, one that I would probably find enjoyable. Once I got into the book, I was *hooked*! And I felt enlightened to have figured out that there was an actual reason books were considered "classics", and that was because they were actually really good and were worthy of lasting through the decades!

So here I am, several years later, working my way through the classics as my primary means to self-educating. It is slow going, especially since many days the only time I have to read is the whole 15 minutes I can stay awake before dosing off to sleep at the end of the day. But, it has been satisfying. Depth exists in these classics that is rarely seen in today's sound bite hungry culture. Fascinating ideas that I personally have never fathomed are sitting quietly waiting for me to discover them. I love it. I think I can finally call myself a reader.