Joining the Inn Crowd

As we wrap up our second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Month of Service Learning, I am realizing that I haven't shared a single word or photo of our experiences this year. January has been quite a whirlwind and I have been a little short on time for such things, but also I struggled with what to share. It seemed like there wasn't anything new or insightful to say. However, as the service learners tucked the last sheet at Room in the Inn and we had our last little post-service talk I realized that maybe we did touch on something new this year.

During one of our sessions, I had to explain to my young friends that a warm bed was not guaranteed to the first person to arrive at Room in the Inn's Carpenter House just because they arrived first. "But that's just unfair! The first person deserves a spot!" - a familiar sentiment and one that I have admittedly shared before I really stopped to think about what that means. Inspired by a facebook post from Manna House, I explained that sometimes fairness isn't a reward for arriving first, but sometimes it's an acknowledgement that those who need something the most, might not be able to get there first. Wouldn't it be even more unfair to offer beds to the strongest of those in need, while the most vulnerable are turned away?

At another session, when we were sharing possible causes of homelessness, the conversation shifted to how do you know if someone IS homeless... IS really in need.

"He has a job. He must be bad at spending his money."
...Or maybe any number of financial burdens, personal tragedies, or natural disasters has caused him to beg for bus fare to get to a shelter for the night.

"She drove to the soup kitchen in a car, she can buy her own food!"
... But what if that car is her home? What if it is the only means for her to get to a job that doesn't pay well enough for her to feed her family as well as herself?  

"His shoes are shiny and new. If he can afford to buy new shoes, why does he need our help?"
... How do we know that he wasn't walking around barefoot and someone took the shoes off their own feet to help him out?

Examples were flying around the room- notions I've heard before and likely thought myself. As I tried to offer alternative scenarios for every cynical statement and noted that such judgements were very unfair, something happened. One friend turned to another and said, "I just don't know if any of those things would happen. Like, giving away your shoes. I don't know anyone who would do that." A second friend replied, "I know someone who would give away their own shoes." A third friend replied, "I would totally do it. I have more shoes." Then a fourth friend replied to the first friend, "See, you do know people who would do that after all!"
Welcome to the "Inn Crowd!" 
 Who wouldn't want to be part of this group?!

If you're not familiar with Room in the Inn you can follow the link,
find Friends of RITI on facebook to learn more, or check out previous posts about RITI service projects.

Birthday Party + Sock Drive

From Christmas to a double-digit birthday, our celebratory season has come to an end. And our finale celebration was the biggest birthday party we've ever had. I think the socks were rocked off all our guests!

As we begin a new year with immeasurable gratitude for so many wonderful gifts, we are most grateful for our friends and family who are always there to help. Thank you for warming not only our hearts, but also the toes of our community's most vulnerable members.

We collected over 325 pairs of socks and had a blast playing Just Dance and Rock Band, cornhole and hopscotch, and posing for pictures in the photo booth and selfie station. I think the pictures below tell the story better than I ever could!


November 4-H Meeting

All 4-H members are encouraged (not required) to complete the following activity and bring it to the next meeting. 
Create a menu for one meal that does not contain any food items that can be linked to bee-pollinated products. Don't forget to think about what your food might be eating before you eat it! Get creative with your menu design or think outside the typical menu format... have fun! 

During our November meeting we shared our food logs and examined some of the most popular items. Out of 30 different foods, there were only two ... 1, 2 ... T-W-O foods that we couldn't link to bee pollination! Since the November meeting got started a little late, we didn't have our 4-H Pledge challenge. We will make time for that during our December meeting. 

Our next meeting will conclude our exploration of human dependency on bees. When we meet in January, we will begin to discover more about honey bee biology and behavior. During the December meeting, we'll take a sneak peek at the symmetry of beehive construction and work on a project that combines a math and fine arts.



Exploring Columbus: Omitting the Elipses

It's not a three-day weekend in October without a little debate about the namesake of the government holiday. There are usually several questions from various friends who are curious about how Columbus is taught in the classroom these days and, in recent years, "As a homeschooler, do you even teach about Columbus?" I believe that history education has come a long way since the 1990s, but it still seems really sugar-coated for my taste. And yes, I do address Columbus. Which is entirely different from celebrating him.

I've mentioned it many times before, like with Thanksgiving Without the Teepee, that I hope homeschooling will provide opportunities to do more than merely scratch the surface of different subjects. I love that we are not bound by a textbook account. We can dig deeper and follow a story, no matter where it takes us. The recently canonized Junipero Serra is one of those stories... that perhaps paints a picture of a man whose conversation efforts were more tyrannical than saintly. Maybe that's another post. Having said this, I must admit that I do something that I'm finding to be frowned upon in homeschool circles. I actually do use textbooks.

I find that textbooks at the elementary level, particularly science and social studies, often leave out a lot of valuable information. Curricula spirals, textbooks are heavy on developing spines, yadda yadda yadda. However, I like to think of them as an in-depth outline of all the topics we might further investigate. The historical account of Christopher Columbus arriving in North America is one of those topics. So, while our textbook offers entries from Columbus' ship log, it lacks the ellipses where the depravities were omitted. For a more authentic version of this piece of history I turn to Howard Zinn. He will set us straight.

  • The Biography Channel online streams the full episode of Christopher Columbus. It is a little dated, but I think it holds up.
  • A 2011 NPR segment "sets the record straight on some of the popular myths surrounding Columbus and his voyage."


Lesson Learned | 7

This week in outlearning: A roundup of some of our learning experiences:
  • Our family's first visit to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Total lunar eclipse of the super blood moon
Even on vacations, I always try to plan some educational experiences. This trip was an exception. In fact, this trip was an exception to my tendency to make very detailed plans. I threw caution to wind and we just had some good ol' family fun, no plans, just fly-by-the-seats-of-our-pants fun. I need a vacation from my vacation!

If you're interested in feedback about Harry Pottersville, you've come to the wrong place. I'm not a fan. [gasp!] That is not to say that I dislike all things Harry Potter, just that I don't get into it... like I don't get into Star Wars. [double gasp!] It was really fun for my Potterhead family, which made it fun for me! That's all I got.

We came home to a total lunar eclipse of a super harvest blood moon or something like that. Now, that was an exciting way to get back into our learning routine! It was a little disappointing that the sky was mostly cloudy, but we made the most of it. 

Lesson Learned | 6

This week in outlearning: A roundup of some of our learning experiences
  • Sewing lessons begin.
  • We forgot President Taft's Birthday. [gasp!]
  • The duck died.
  • A tree frogs died, too.
  • We left for Orlando
Is this the saddest list ever? It's not just because my pet duck died or that we lost a tree frog we've been raising from an egg, but where is the learning? I'm sure if I tried really hard, I could point out some life learning in there somewhere. I know I sure learned a few hard lessons this week. It's sometimes very hard to distinguish between livestock and pet. However, I'm going to call a spade a spade-This was the beginning of two very unstructured weeks.

Last year, JK decided that a theater group was the right activity. This year, she's switched to sewing and I think it's a great choice! Sewing classes at The Stitch School began this week, which was the highlight of learning. We love her sewing teacher and we're both really excited about all the practical things she'll be learning. It never hurts to incorporate practical skills into a learning routine!

Outside of sewing, I think I can call this week the beginning of our two-week fall break. I know, technically it was summer when the break started, but we did welcome autumn during our visit to Florida during the second week


October 4-H Meeting

All 4-H members are encouraged (not required) to complete the following activity and bring it to the next meeting. 

Create a food log or journal that includes a week's worth of meals and snacks. It is not necessary for meals to be in the order consumed, just try to include seven different breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks in your log. We will examine our journals when we meet next month. Don't dwell on how healthy or unhealthy your food choices are. Everyone will have their fair share of both! There's a reason we're completing this activity during the month of October. 

During our October meeting, members shared their Community Bee Projects. I must say, I was impressed that all 4-H members in attendance had a project to share. The projects were even more impressive. Could this group bee any more awesome? I'm only gonna do it once.

The group divided into three teams to work together to analyze grocery items that do and do not require pollination and play a little memory game. We watched a couple of videos, including one about wolves. It might seem weird to learn about wolves in a bee club, but even our Cloverbuds could find a link between the two. These kiddos are so smart! We also practiced the 4-H pledge, which most of us need to work on. CHALLENGE: Memorize the pledge and motions by our next meeting and receive a treat! Now, check out the pics of those projects...
A diary written from the perspective of a Queen Bee
An illustrated journal entry
Posters about bees in the backyard
A Lego model of a neighborhood where bees are hard at work