...Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16 This is the journey of our lives...

Friday, June 2, 2017

My homeschooling style

Almost the end of the school year!
I realize every other school in the country is out for the summer, but they didn't have as much fun as we did. ;)
We took some breaks, fall, Christmas, New Years, 2 weeks of Spring and a major surgery. Its the beauty of homeschooling. The freedom to choose when you do school work. I am on a mission to finish World History. We've been working as a family to finish it for the last 2 years and I AM DONE. It's been fun and interesting but I need to be finished! My kids will work a little bit all summer on a few skills and we will do summer reading, but otherwise our days will start later and include lots of adventuring and hopefully a trip across the US to North Carolina.

I have finally grasp and adopted my style of homeschooling. In my 10th year of homeschooling, I can finally pinpoint how I teach. I've always taught the same way and no matter how many times I start differently, I end up going back to what I've always loved. I think I've always tried to hide my style and fit into what I thought was the Right WAY to homeschool. I started with teaching my kids at home by emulating the school systems. I felt that if I stayed the course, my children would fit into the box of future education and seamlessly transition into college. This is silly of course, because not many children who graduate high school can actually do that. It takes something else for kids to transition into successful adulthood. A love for learning, thoughts of their own about their future, an invested interest in the world around them and I believe, passion. In my quest to homeschool the right way, I have tried many curriculums and some worked and some didn't. Even when a curriculum didn't work, I would tailor make it so it fit into our lifestyle of learning. I teach based on the needs of my children. I have struggling learners and I have easy peasy learners. Each one of them has their strengths and weaknesses and some strengths are not recognized in a traditional learning environment. So my job has been to find a learning style that encompasses the qualities that will produce a love for learning and minimal frustration.

Charlotte Mason has been an inspiration to my teaching. She talks about laying before our children a feast of knowledge through literature, nature and the outdoors. That children should play and through play they will learn.

I was afraid to follow my heart and teach my children this way. I wasn't brave enough to step away from traditional learning and just teach my children naturally, the way I as an adult learn. It wasn't until I truly thought back to what I remembered from school that I finally grasped how to teach my children. I was homeschooled from Kinder until 8th grade. And my mom was a pioneer homeschooler and although the only curriculum she could buy was from the local schools, she still taught us in a very natural learning environment. I remember sitting at my desk and diagramming sentences, but I don't really remember how, I know my math facts and I am thankful for that. I have to budget my check book! But what I do remember was the days we spent all day reading books, planting our garden, field trips, movie days with other homeschool families watching Shakespeare and holidays where we dressed as our favorite literary character and talked about it. We studied the fullness of life and my mother was more concerned about the people we'd be and the success we'd have as adults than the scores of our tests. Even when I went to public high school, I only remember learning about the things that I was interested in. The stuff that ignited a love for learning, the teachers who made learning an experience. The Scarlet Letter, dissecting a cat and putting all the bones back together, theater performances and passionate teachers who invested in our individual passions. All of these things left an impact on me as an individual. How then can I sit and drill my children in facts without making them memorable? Other than math ( oh help my bleeding soul), at which at some point we will hire a tutor if any of my children need upper level math to become an astronaut or pharmacist, I am creating a lifestyle of learning. We read a lot of good books, we draw a lot of nature, we build a lot with our hands, we take a lot of trips. I still follow curriculum and I still teach foundational truths that will allow them to go on to be whatever God puts in their hearts. But my heart's goal is to keep them in love with the things they learn, to find their passion and follow it. If there is an interest in something we are learning, we explore it.  I realize that I am not the perfect teacher, I don't have perfect grammar, I struggle with fractions and I don't know all the details of the constitution. The Lord has given me the desire to teach my children at home and the ability to research what I don't know and share what I do. I pray He will cover my children with grace and knowledge for all of my short comings.

Resources for encouragement




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Find your seasons of freedom....

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing enough for my children....I'm pretty sure this is universal. Every parent wishes they had more resources to provide the right amount of activities for their children and if they have enough resources to do it all; they want more time.

In my wandering and searching for just the right amount, I started to look backwards. Way back. Long before families were run tired and ragged from activities and school work. I think somehow I've been caught up in this quest to expose my children to all the right things, sports, music, languages, fine arts....the list goes on. In this quest I find that I begin to lose something very fundamental. Freedom.
Although each and every thing on my list is beneficial, it was becoming tiresome and it was all encompassing. I was losing something, slowly it was slipping through my grasp.

Freedom. Childhood. Exploration. Self-realization.

All of a sudden my children were being told by everyone else how to do something, how to be, how to play, how to create. They weren't able to explore on their own without the pull of the piles of homework and expectations that were put upon them by all the planned activities.

This is MY experience and I AM a freedom fighter by nature. I am an explorer and a creative soul. I do not color inside the lines and I don't make a lot of schedules. SO this mama was trying to keep up with something that just rubbed me the wrong way. My children were holding up and yet pulling against the constraints of the activities. 

And then one day as I was teaching World History and my kids were asking questions and it turned into this full day of exploration and talking and natural learning and my lesson plans kind of went out the window. My children had this light in their eyes and excitement over learning something new and I knew that we had grasped onto something. Freedom! The freedom to learn the way it made sense, to hold onto the information and use it in the real world. It was a scary moment to step away from the text book and learn with passion. Normally, I forget everything I learn until the end of the test and I move onto the next thing and drudge through it until I've passed someone's expectation of learning. I don't want that for my kids. I want them to grasp it, to love it, to understand it. I doubt this will happen with every subject for every child, but it could. IF we can find the freedom in it. The joy of learning another subject can come alive when we are allowed the freedom to appreciate it in our own way.

I have to remember that the best things in life are free. The freedom to allow my children to explore on their own and find adventure in the outdoors to learn by their own mistakes....is priceless.

I don't know the right rhythm for every season in our life, it changes every year. But I have learned that living and planning through the expectations of the world around me produces failure and burnout. SO I am looking back, way back to the season of life when families worked together, played together and learned from each other. When children were allowed to play until dark and explore their own passions with the freedom to make mistakes and try again. Where trophies and tournaments and loads of homework weren't the only things that filled their minds and hearts. I want to leave an openness in them that challenges their hearts to search for what's important to them.

I am challenging myself to not panic in the moment when other people's children are playing Mozart on the piano or traveling to Europe to sing songs or winning the world cup or finishing college at 15. I am settling into my own ordinary and extraordinary. I am learning to pace myself and be busy enough for my extroverts and quiet enough for my introverts. Stepping back when my schedule starts pulling me away from the freedoms I hold dear.

Find your freedom. Explore your world with abandonment of expectations!

Be wild and free mamas!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A view from the top..

I was able to leave on an adventure to North Carolina this week. It was two, 8 hour travel days all to myself and a wonderful 2 days with one of my closest friends. Her 8 children and beautiful home on the outer banks of the Atlantic were a time of rest and fun. We were able to take moments to ourselves to visit and encourage each other during this exhausting time of parenting. We are both in the midst of tweens and teens. She is back in the age of toddlers and diapers after adopting 3 littles from China in the last 2 years. It is tiring and fulfilling in the most frustrating way. Yet, it feels like the moments are racing away and the children will all be driving and moving away at any moment.

It is always such a different perspective when you watch someone else do the parenting. It's amazing really, that a person can be bombarded from all sides, running on no sleep, and still manage to have this grace and softness for each little person in their home. It is truly a God given gift to be able to love our little monsters! I love my monsters more than anyone else in the world ever could. And although, every day holds these huge moments of failure, I must remember that this is my job. My most important job in the world and God knew that I was the very best person to guide these little people as they learn to navigate the world around them. I am the best person to love them and teach them.

I am reminded daily how quickly this world is changing. The news is pretty much off at our house. I get all I need from the internet and I am so quickly discouraged by the biased media... I suppose we all need a place to exercise our freedom of speech, our blogs, our Facebook, our IG accounts; but it is in our homes that we are able to truly have a platform. No one REALLY listens to us, but our children do. Our children are the ones who watch and learn from our every move, our every word and action. This is the place to be teachers and to make the biggest impact on the world around us. We have this platform in our home that reaches far beyond the world of social media.

As I was flying over the United States, from Arizona to North Carolina, I felt so small on the airplane. I am always amazed at how tiny I realize I am. From above our little tiny homes its easy to understand a little better how many times this world has changed over. How many generations of mamas and children have journeyed this life and struggled our struggles and loved their babies and lost sleep and shed tears. How many will come after me and worry my same worries? In my smallness looking out of the tiny window from the airplane. I realize that from my home, my perspective is small, my job seems small and my little world insignificant.
And Yet,
My moments are big, my feelings, my hopes, my dreams are big. They are big to me and they are important to my creator. He is using me to shape the little people in my home. And although I am not on Capital Hill, I am not running for Senate or even the neighborhood HOA. I am doing what I have been called to do.
I am finding purpose in the race I'm running, and contentment. Yes, contentment. That's a hard one.

Taking 4 days in someone's home and watching the magic of parenting, not the perfection, just the daily moments of grace. It was this reminder, to take a moment and evaluate the way I use my moments. I am self evaluating this life, this smallness and learning to embrace it.

Embrace the small moments and your small people.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Top O' the Mornin to ya!

I've had this love hate relationship with them since the beginning. Yep, the beginning of time as I know it.
Growing up, mornings were my dad's very favorite time of the day, this was ok as a young child but add in the teen years and let's just say World War 3 might be more tame. It was probably the most I ever fought for something. FREEDOM TO SLEEP IN!! Getting up at 5am to have breakfast with my dad before he left for work seemed, well....unbelievable and unfair!!
My mom made this commitment to my dad that she would get up with him and make him breakfast and send him off to work each morning. I've always admired her for this, well when I was younger I thought she was crazy. But the older I got and even now as I'm closing into 40, I see how, for them it was a special time in the day when the stresses of the world hadn't quite started yet and the beginnings of a new day meant coffee and bacon and a kiss goodbye. Today, I wish I could go back and sit at the breakfast table and enjoy a hot cooked meal with my family. Blurry eyed and sleepy watch my dad in his happiest place, around the table with his beloved family as the sun rose up over the mountains behind our house. Mornings were a beautiful time at my house and the sights and sounds and smells are still a part of who I am.
I know I'm not a morning person like my mom and dad and to be honest before I married my husband I made sure he wasn't either. There might of been a pre-marital agreement that he would never expect me to wake up and make him bacon before he went to work, I mean the details are foggy now but I'm pretty sure I wrote it down somewhere....I was 19 and kinda still hated the idea of watching another sunrise.
Fast forward almost 20 years and here I am sitting on the couch drinking coffee with my husband, in the dark, before the sunrise...And I'm enjoying it. Wouldn't my dad be proud?
Mornings have this way of setting the tone for my day. I'm attempting to find a balance for my morning routine. I know it's not at 5am, frying bacon and shaking everyone out of bed to hang out with me. I think, it looks like 1 or 2 hours before I wake up the kids, dark and quiet with my books and coffee in hand, a hot uninterrupted shower and then slowly waking up the kiddos to begin our day. It changes with the seasons and the seasons in life.

So mornings at our house are pretty relaxed and for my kids not very early. I'm usually ready, dressed and showered, bed made, 1 cup of coffee down. I push and shove the kids to do the same and we all eat breakfast in a haphazard way. Some eat cereal, some cook their own eggs and others eat a granola bar. I do the same and have another cup of coffee. We do our quick morning chores, which now includes feeding a horse, a dog and a bunny. We check the river level and sometimes the game camera across the river and then head to the school room to begin the day. I'd like to say we start right at 9am and finish after lunch. But some days we don't begin until 11 and school way past 4. That's the beauty of homeschooling for me, I cherish the freedom of my day, the un-hurried moments of sitting on the couch for read aloud. I still hate grammar and fractions and that could have deterred me from homeschooling. But for me it has been a challenge, a learning experience and now, because I have children who have the gift of those things, I can ask them!

I haven't figured out how to be more organized, or how to enjoy filing and paying bills, or how to enjoy teaching math, but I have figured out mornings. So maybe in another 20 years I will go 1 week without losing my keys....my husband would love me so much if that happened.

What are your morning routines? Are they beautifully orchestrated and organized or everyone for themselves?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Highlighting even the hard days

School could've looked like this for some of you. .. I mean this is cute, right? We look like professional Handwriting Without Tears students. This could go on their website. 

And this looks like we do a lot of nature hikes!
 She looks smart, right??
 She's a multi-tasker
 Look at how cute, it's like those magazines, where everyone is learning in nature and no one has to do fractions, because fractions don't make pretty pictures...
 Yep, you know where this is going...
 Yep, right here. It's just best I stay right here. Homeschooling is hard. My kids are not as smart as I thought they'd be. And it's my fault for drinking soda instead of taking pre-natal vitamins.
 Ok, back to what today could have been. But I'm tired, I'm hormonal and it's winter. Winter means less sunshine and no summer break.
 Right!?!? And well life is not always as sunny as I'd like it to be.
 One time I re-made the fabric teepee, and then my cute dog ate it.
 I'm not as calm as I appear, but I put on clothes and made the best of it. So here is to all those amazing blogs out there that make everything look so pretty. I'm hear to say that today and probably last week, weren't super blog worthy.

I lied, my kids are smarter then me. That's really the problem.

So here is to the stay in bed, can't get it done, feel like it will never be better kinda days. It's not all supposed to be blog worthy and pretty. It's gritty and I say things like "Don't put that in the toilet", "where is your other shoe", "shower, you stink", "How could you lose your toothbrush for a week?" and so on and so forth many, many times a day. Well here is hoping tomorrow is more productive!