2012 – Don’t Look Down!

The year 2012 has been one of ups and downs – whether a roller coaster ride or a balancing act – the strategy I’ve followed has been to keep one foot in front of the other, and Don’t Look Down!

On the Farm

Living on a hobby farm is a wonderful opportunity to observe growth and change, and what better way than engaging in the lives of little things!

Baby Boom

Past years have seen Spring chicks and a steady growth to our egg-laying flock, but we felt we had established a good crew – providing us and our neighbors with plenty of yolk-filled goodness.  And then tragedy struck.  In what my husband now calls the Massacre of 2012, two stray dogs slaughtered all but the rooster and two hens, as well as my darling dwarf Jersey Wooley bunny (yes, the little guy that gave me that fabulous angora fur for my spinning wheel).  It was truly terrible, and my most vivid memory of that time is the awful stillness for weeks afterward.  No comforting clucks or cooings could be heard.

Fiber Fair Souvenir

While debating over whether to start over with a new batch of chicks, the decision was made for us when one surviving hen crept out of the trees one day with 10 babies in tow.  Our flock has had a new start, and with the addition of a few more exotic breeds and some comical ducks thrown in for good measure, the busy sounds of the country are back once again.


We like life in miniature, and Spirit, a mini-Buckskin Paint, found a home with us in the summer.  His cuteness added a lot of joy to our days – especially when we lost our first “baby” – a 16-year-old Schnoodle that I still miss every day.

Some neglectful neighbors released their 7 pet rabbits in the Fall, and we rescued those, gaining a baby bunny and his parents in the process.  (Photos to come soon!)

chicken run

A rural life has its ups and downs, but the lessons we’ve learned and the love we’ve received make it all worth while.

 On the Brain

Homeschooling is all about using your noggin’, and this year we stretched our brains in all kinds of directions!  We’ve been digging deeper into literature studies and poetry with a program I wrote, and multiplying with Math-U-See.  Our Botany study with the Exploring Creation series is progressing (although I have to confess it lacks luster during these winter months when nothing is green and growing).  We’ll be finishing the last book of the Story of the World series for Social Studies and History, so I’m going to need to look around for a new application in coming months – please give me your suggestions!

OCW Conference 2011 029  I’m most excited just now that the kids are starting piano and doing so well with Drawing Basics from Thomas Kincade and Alpha Omega Publications.  Some of our side trips into exploring the national parks, visiting the library, and a long look at the Civil War in our area have added a lot of enrichment to our studies.  One thing that never changes though…as long as we stick to our schedule we enjoy our work so much more!OCW Conference 2011 025

I was really pleased to discover the TeachersPayTeachers website, where I quickly set up a store to offer some of my lessons and student aids from my classroom teaching days, and it continues to be a great resource for me as well.

A teacher’s business is feeding young minds, but it is important to feed our hunger for knowledge too.  Early in the year I took advantage of The Teaching Company‘s excellent programs – I shared several points from The Art of Reading in a series of blog posts (click HERE to look at those).  I look forward to several more courses this coming year, and I’ll be sure to share what I learn with you.

The end of the year brought a new chapter for me as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine‘s Homeschool Review Crew.  I can’t wait to share more great education resources…and it will be right here!

On the Page

Even though I always think I haven’t written a thing, when I look back on the calendar it is surprising how much gets done – one word at a time.  That’s what “Annual Reviews” are for!  2012 proved to be a pretty prolific year…

There were the Friday Fictioneers and tons of fun writing flash fiction, which led to Reason 2 Rhyme – continuing this year in expanded form as Monday Motivators (watch for the inspiring “Un-Journaling” prompts).555696_10151180628415712_508680944_n

I had some good articles and book reviews in The Ozarks Mountaineer Magazine, which turned into a regular Cookery Column for most of the year.  I also continued the writing of the Elmer Kelton News publication, learning more about western fiction than I ever thought I would know.

Crystal Brave Theme Unit Cover  Most exciting were the release of three books – Literature Theme Units for Goldminds Publishing.  These cross-curricular activities expand the excellent young adult fiction by today’s talented authors (See the sidebar for more info!)

On the Stage

Once in a while I leave my nest to visit the outside world, and this year I had Goldminds Booth at SHEM 2012the great privilege of visiting with homeschoolers, parents, and educators at the annual Southwest Missouri Home Educator’s Conference.  Debuting the Literature Theme Units at the Goldminds booth during the SHEM conference was exciting – as was the opportunity to speak in the lecture sessions about Lapbooking and learning with literature.

The Ozarks Writer’s Conference in Hollister, Missouri was another wonderful weekend of sharing ideas, this time with fellow writers, poets, and journalists.  I still enjoy hearing from the attendees of my Write Start Blogging workshop – they have succeeding in setting up an informative and rewarding presence on the internet.

The Fall season brought an unexpected surprise with an invitation to film 4 television shows with the Home Educating Family Association.  HEDUA’s work with the online homeschool convention opportunities and their new talk shows are top-quality, and so inspiring!  I am thrilled to be able to share these online episodes in the coming months, discussing educational methods and techniques to make learning more engaging and memorable.  More to come on that soon!

That’s some of the highs and lows of my year – Take a look at some of my fellow crew members and their year’s events HERE!