April was a bunch of unschooling fun, and one REALLY BIG thing happened – we are officially “done” Ashar’s compulsory education under Pennsylvania law! We’ll be continuing to wrap up the things we do together as a family (and the learning that goes with them) in posts like this one, but I wanted to take a minute and celebrate that milestone!
That whole graduation business
So we’re done. Final paperwork submitted, nothing else required… right?
WRONG! Of course there’s a graduation party. We’re hosting a cookout and backyard graduation ceremony May 27 for Ashar, and I have a HUGE favor to ask of all of you. Ashar had really wanted to host a HUGE party, and for various reasons it’s not going to be nearly as large of a shindig as she’s dreamed of.
That’s where you come in. If you like reading about Ashar’s journey here on Unschool Rules, would you consider sending her a card or postcard with your best graduation wishes? She’d LOVE that (she loves getting mail) and it’d be a great way to extend our celebrating.
You can mail cards to:
3416 Essex Road
Dover, PA 17315
(Don’t freak out, privacy people. Our address has been all over the internet for years. It’s not a biggie.)
And thank you all in advance for any love you’re willing to send Ashar’s way. It means a TON!
I talked last month about how we’d recently discovered Outschool. It’s a platform for independent online K-12 classes taught by all sorts of people – from certified teachers to hobbyists to trade professionals – and it’s amazing.
In addition to the classes I mentioned in March, Ashar has now completed three courses in a series called “The Butterfly Effect,” which is a look at a famous person and how that individual changed history. They’re taught by an awesome lady named Barb Ve, who Ashar loves. In April, we had:
- The Butterfly Effect: Amelia Earhart
- The Butterfly Effect: Albert Einsten
- The Butterfly Effect: Vincent Van Gogh
She’s signed up for several May courses, including:
- Hamilton and Poetry
- Movie Magic: Cinematography and Special Effects
- Endangered and Vulnerable Animal Species at Risk for Extinction
- Unsolved Crimes Series 1
I cannot speak highly enough about Outschool, which has been super-fun for us.
One thing Ashar has contemplated as a future career is tattoo artistry. She did a bunch of reading and internet searching and found out that the best place to start with that at her age (since you can’t begin tattooing in Pennsylvania ’til you’re 21) is to build up a good drawing portfolio.
Since then, she’s spent time almost every day working on art! Right now, she’s mostly tracing outlines from source images and then shading and coloring them to her liking, but she’s hoping to move up to some freehand drawing soon. She’s got quite the portfolio – everything from standard tattoo-style designs to images of Norman Reedus’ face.
Ashar is also interested in photography – both modeling for photos and taking and editing them. So one night in April, she sat down for more than an hour with my best friend, Nina Myers, who runs her own photography business called CM&M Photography. Nina told Ashar all about different kinds of lenses and flashes, how she’s built her skills and more. It was a huge hit for both of them!
As part of a super-cool opportunity from Candlewick Press, Ashar and I spent a bunch of time with a set of new books, including:
- What’s So Special About Shakespeare?
- The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls
- A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls
- It Looks Like This
- Dolls of Hope
- Siege: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution
We also read a whole bunch of Shakespeare plays, including a super-fun thing Ashar planned in which she, Chris, Dan and I acted out scenes from a good half-dozen of them for my mom in our living room! (And she got into some of the sonnets of Shakespeare this month as well.)
Ashar also dug heavily into a book called True Crime, which is a collection of real newspaper articles about crimes from the 1800s to present.
Movies and TV
- The Walking Dead – We got to do something REALLY cool. We took Ashar to see the season finale on the big screen as part of “Survival Sunday” on April 15. It was a surprise, and she was stoked!
- Full House – Mom and Ashar officially finished all bazillion seasons! Then they moved on to…
- Lemony Snickey’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – This was not such a winner despite Neal Patrick Harris.
- The Crown – After Lemony Snicket, Mom and Ashar started this and are LOVING it!
- Jesus Christ Superstar – I thought this was SUPER cool.
- In Search Of – This is a neat documentary series with Leonard Nimoy that goes into weird areas. This month, Chris and Ashar watched episodes about the Nazca Lines and the Bermuda Triangle.
- James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction – This was pretty cool and gave Ashar ideas of other movies she wants to watch.
- The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes – A very cool Netflix win.
- Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit – I happened to be in the mood to see these and Ashar had not seen them that she remembered, so the two of us and my mom spent a couple days enjoying them!
- Avengers: Infinity War – Chris got us all tickets to go see this, and that was very nice of him. And that’s all I have to say about that.
- FIFA 18
- The Sims 4
- Destiny 2
- Wii Sports – We got back to using our Wii after a long hiatus and it was fun to try some of these fun family games (like bowling) again!)
- The Chameleon – This is a cool borad/table game that we got for Christmas and just played for the first time.
- Dungeons and Dragons – You can read more about this one on Chris’s blog, Papergreat – it was very cool!
Recent rabbit trails
I mentioned in September’s post on our unschooling planner system that our “rabbit trails” are the most fun we have in unschooling.
By far the best one this month started when Chris and Ashar were working on their family trivia game – they make up trivia questions for the rest of us on a huge variety of unusual topics. Somehow this morphed into a huge discussion on global prioritization, economics and systems of government. I can’t begin to describe it but it was very cool.
Other fun stuff
- Ashar’s been writing a bunch of letters – to her Pappy John in Florida (Chris’s dad), to a fellow Walking Dead fan in Japan, and more. She loves letter-writing and getting things back in the mail.
- Ashar and Chris had a bunch of fun excursions to antique stores and to the local arcade, where Ashar got a high school on Ghostbuster pinball.
- We went to the local Jewish Food Festival, which had better main dishes and less-great desserts than the Greek Food Festival from a few months back.
- With the advent of nicer weather, we’ve been walking and bike riding a lot more in our neighborhood, and getting a chance to reconnect with our neighbors, which is nice. Ashar and I also spent one evening on a huge Pokemon Go hunt at a local park that is filled with them.
- Ashar filled in for a friend in a local bowling league.
- Ashar gave Dan some ideas for some really cool graphic designs – projects involving penguins that look like characters from The Walking Dead for instance.
- Ashar, Dan and I went to see The Addams Family Musical at my alma mater, York College, and that was also very well done! (And funny!)
Updates from around the family
Since our “curriculum plan” for this year featured not just Ashar but the other house adults, I figure I should give monthly updates on our progress too. So here’s a look at what’s new with the rest of us.
An update from Joan and Dan
GRAD SCHOOL IS OVER FOR THE SEMESTER. That’s basically the best thing in life for me right now. I ended the semester with two high As and have a whopping week or so until summer classes start, including my capstone project. (Though I don’t graduate until next spring due to some scheduling ick.)
I managed to read 16 books in April, including two by the aforementioned awesome Nadia Bolz-Weber. Other highlights were By far the best was Caroline: Little House Revisited by Ashar Miller, which is a retelling of the Little House books from the perspective of Caroline Ingalls, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother. Girls Like Us by Gail Giles was another amazing (and tear-inducing) read.
I also got to do a bunch of scrapbooking and, in big news, Dan and I found out that we got a pretty huge freelance contract we’d bid on earlier this year with our web development business, Technical Penguins.
Which is good, because…
Dan and I are officially planning our wedding. March 23, 2019 is the big day, and I already have my dress!
Dan also reports he’s really liking reading At Home by Bill Bryson, which Chris is also reading. Dan says it’s a great look at both the depth and breadth of history.
Updates from Chris
Chris wants to know where the [expletive deleted] April went. I’m pretty much in the same boat. Considering it SNOWED a couple of times in April, I want to know where all of spring went.
Anyway, though, this is Chris’s update. He says:
He’s only a little bit kidding on the taxes thing.
Also he got a new car, after his previous one was totalled in an accident that was not his fault. (If you’re keeping track, THAT was the car he’d gotten less than a year ago after his previous car was totalled in a terrible parking garage vandalism incident. Chris is not enjoying cars right now, but his new one is very nice.)
Update on my mom (also Joan)
A few highlights from Mom about some of her favorite activities this month:
So what’s new with your family this month? How is your 2018 starting out? Drop me a comment! I love hearing from all my “blog friends!”