Is it Just Me?

Hello?  Anyone out there?  Is it just me or does it feel like everyone is sending their kids back to school?  I'm not judging them, believe me!  I came very, very close this summer to doing that very thing.

The truth is, it leaves me a bit scared.  So many homeschoolers I know have either sent their kids to school, private or public, or have joined co-ops, charters, and the like.

I am feeling a little bit alone.  Like perhaps I am too much of a rebel.  My kids are not enrolled anywhere, the local co-op won't accept us (for a few reasons but generally because I don't have anyone to watch my little kids while I try and teach a class and some of the people don't like me... maybe I am too much of a rebel...  ANYWAY...), I tried the charter schools a few times and it felt like I was banging my head on the wall and it was hard to have someone come to the house once a week for 5-6 hours because that is how many kids I have.  We aren't enrolled anywhere, because let's face it, the money tree in the backyard died.

A rebel.  You know in my thirties that would have made me giggle.  "Yeah, look at me!  NFP practicing Catholic, homeschooling my  nine kids in a counter-cultural home.  Boo YA!  Take that!"  Now I just feel tired.  I want more support, but I don't want to pay for it (remember the tree?).  I don't want to feel like I am on this road alone.

I wonder if I am doing it wrong.  Am I selling my kids short?

In the last few weeks our epiphany on workbooks quickly fell flat.  No one likes it anymore.  There were tears everyday and often times that included mine.  We had been traversing a whole different philosophy of education, and you really can't jump midstream into something so different and not have everything melt down.  We thought about just pushing through, but that only got worse and worse as the forcing was not what we wanted in our homeschool.

My lack of discipline in the last year took a toll and now I could see that our more traditional model of homeschooling foray was not going to work.  I was unwilling to see us all break down in tears everyday over things when I knew we could approach them differently and be more successful at it.  What I had thought would be a relief, a way to manage our homeschool, became a yoke around our neck and an unnecessary one at that.

I see all these other moms who have decided that homeschooling isn't for their family and I get it.  I am so close myself.  There are many factors keeping my kids at home, one of them is that I really believe in homeschooling.  I believe it can work.  I am watching all these kids in their uniforms and I wonder... will that be my kids next year?  Because while I believe it can work, I wonder if I can keep doing it alone.

I'll tell you what.  I will pray everyday for all us moms doing this homeschooling gig on our own. Will you join me? And maybe a few prayers that the money tree will start to grow fruit again.  That would be cool.

Spring Nature Pal Exchange 2017

I realized I never shared wit you guys our Nature Pal Exchange package from last spring!  It really was a fun program and we got an amazing package in return.  If you ever get a chance to try it, you should.  I imagine there will be one coming again soon this Autumn.

All we had to do was gather cool nature finds from our area and put them in an egg carton. 

Without further ado, here was our box:

First Day of School 2017-18

My favorite picture of the day, of course.

We had a great first day.  They loved their Schultütes!  I kept it real simple.  They all got one novelty, one larabar, a notebook, and a couple pencils.  Oh and of course a bubble wand.

We are starting our days earlier than we used to by about an hour and I shortened our morning time to something far more simple.  We pray, read a saint story from Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, and then we listen to a read aloud (right now it is Little House in the Big Woods) while they color in a journal or knit.

At about 11:30 or so we have lunch and I am reading to them from the gem Richard Halliburton's Book of Marvels: The Occident.  Then I give them a break for about an hour.  This gives me a chance to recharge and it gives them plenty of time to wiggle, play, or spend some time relaxing too.  So far this week, we have been able to get almost all of our work done in the mornings with only a few things left to do in the after our break.

Then they come in and we finish up.  At 3 o'clock we have tea time.  I broke out poetry books for one tea, but it was nice to just sit and chat about the school day and see where everyone is with their work.

It was a great first day!  And we are looking forward to growing this year.

A Complete Three-Sixty

I started this new blog to talk about a whole new outlook on our education and what it was going to look like.  When I started this blog I had no idea where our path would lead us.  In all honestly I had the idea of being very relaxed.  Of being very unschoolish (I know this isn't a word, but you catch my drift).

I spent all last year agonizing over our school  Burned out beyond all hope, I was completely unable to do anything.  I started listening to advice from people who claimed to be experts and told me that it was ok to do nothing.  It lead me to feel like if our school was not a party everyday, it was not an adventure every day I failed.

I seriously thought about giving up all hope of homeschooling.  I knew deep in my heart that I was called to this vocation but was feeling lost and alone.

I spent a lot of time in the last few months in prayer.  I looked into all the curriculum again, trying to discern what God was calling me to do.  I planned an entire Charlotte Mason education for all the five kids from 8th grade to Kindergarten for this year, but when it came to implementing it  became overwhelmed and unable to see it through.  I came to the ultimate conclusion that if I could not do as good of a job, if not better, than the public schools I had no right to homeschool.  In fact, I owed it to my kids to send them, even though my heart ached with the thought.

It came to me that I needed something manageable.  Not easy.  Not a party everyday.  I needed something that I could put into place for all 5 of my school age children that would not leave me unable to function and constantly playing catch up.  And that was when I did something I thought I would never do again as a homeschool mom...

I bought workbooks.

Wait!! Stop screaming and running away... hear me out.  It is ok.  Really, it is!  Workbooks have become a dirty word among many homeschoolers.  I can recall scrunching my face up tight in disgust at the very idea for several years.  We aren't only doing workbooks, mind you, but letting them back into our lives has been a Godsend to our family and our homeschool.

When I started homeschooling that was exactly what I did.  We did Seton and actually liked it.  I learned a lot too!  Back then I only had three kids I was schooling at home and we were able to get all our school done at a reasonable hour and have plenty of time for more fun and engaging activities.

So here we are again.  Seton materials were ordered and affordable.  I will add my own literature selections for the kids and I also cut back on our morning time.  I think the long morning time really made the kids restless.  So we are doing prayer, short saint story, and a read aloud.  I decided that since most of the kids are doing American history we would listen to the Little House books again.  They are such a treasure and it has been long enough that they will be fresh and new to this crew.

Our first week went beautifully.  There were challenges but they were manageable and we worked through them.  I made brownies on Friday to celebrate our first week of school complete and the consensus was all positive.  In fact, the older kids told me plainly they liked this much better than what we were doing before.

For the first time in a long time, I feel on top of our homeschool and our home.  I feel like I can do this and do it well.  I am so glad that we made this decision to be ourselves and do what works for our family.  What more could you ask for?

A Homeschool Mom's Prayer

Jesus, You know how hard this last year has been.  I tried so hard and fought so long but the burnout was too strong.  You know the last years have been challenging, but this last year was nearly impossible.  The trials were often too hard to bear.

But You were always there, Lord.  I was broken and I fought You at every turn.  I longed to know Your will yet I refused to give You control.

Lord, I give You our homeschool.  I lay it down at Your feet to do with it as You will.  Help me, your servant, to accept Your call.  Fortify our resolve and be the very cornerstone of our strength.  Let Your love guide us to a better understanding of Your world and Your call for our lives.

When the trails get hard and we feel like giving up, help us to feel You there beside us.  Please, in Your great mercy, help us to not feel alone on this journey.

Jesus, help me to let go and let You work.  Open our heats and minds as we embark on this adventure with you our great Commander.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us.

Our Lady of Fatima, patroness of our homeschool, pray for us.


In the Garden

We have been busy as bees lately, which was more than apropos, since we went to visit some bees in the gardens at the OSU Extension Center here in Southern Oregon.  It is a fabulous place to visit and learn all about local flowers, gardening, and insects.  Back in the early 1900's the government gave a grant to Oregon State University (Go Beavers!) and they built these centers in every country to help locals learn more about agriculture.  While not every county in Oregon still has one of these places, it is still a great assent to our community.

Some of the kids were at VBS, but the rest of us got to go along with some other homeschoolers and see what our extension office offered.  We saw so many beautiful things and I just had to share with you some of the incredible flowers and more they have growing there.

Check out the pollen on the bee's legs!

We had a really hard time getting a certain someone to NOT pick the flowers.

Make sure you look into your local community for places like this.  Master Gardener classes and 4H are amazing learning opportunities and more than count for science!

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