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I received a few sweet emails from mamas asking about our homeschool, so I thought I’d write a bit more on it for all who are interested.

Ahhh, Homeschool.  As with anything worthwhile, it is a lot of work.  It requires a lot of sacrifice.  It causes a lot of second-guessing.  It can be incredibly tough, but also incredibly rewarding.  I have a love/hate relationship with Homeschooling.

I’ll write later on about our path to Homeschooling, but for now I’ll just answer a few specific questions:

What curriculum do you follow?

I believe that curriculum should be chosen only after you come up with the goals you have for your homeschool.  Begin with the end in mind.  What do you hope to accomplish? WHY are you homeschooling?  Because of my specific goals for my children, I have chosen to take a Classical/Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling.  You can read more about the Charlotte Mason approach here.  There are free curriculum guides at Ambleside Online and Tanglewood.  We use a combination of these two curricula as well as some other things on the side.  “A Well-Trained Mind”  is an excellent must-read book on Classical Education that can be found here.

Will you ever put your kids in school?

I think it is incredibly important to parent on a case-by-case basis, looking at what is best for the child in question and the family as a whole.   I’ll never say “never” to school.  Circumstances change and every child is different.

What about High School?

I’m not interested in my kids having the “High School Experience.”  Missing out on all of that doesn’t bother me in the least.  That being said, we have a few excellent programs near by at the local colleges/universities where students can complete a few years of College while in high school on the government’s dime.  I’ll obviously take into account the personality of each of my children before deciding on this in the future, but I’m interested in those programs.  My younger sister will have her undergrad completely paid for under one of these programs while she lives at home with my parents as a high school student.

What is the Hardest part of being a homeschool Mom?

This is going to be different for every one.  For me, it is never getting a break.  My friends with children in school get these lovely stretches of time in the mornings where they can decide what to do with their time…work out, clean house, sit and read  a book, etc.  This never happens for me.  I love spending time with my kids, but parenting and homeschooling and housekeeping and everything run together in this giant circle of daily-ness.  That is part of the appeal, but it is also part of the sacrifice.  I also never have a clean house ;-).

What is the best part of being a homeschool Mom?

Being there for those moments when your kids “get it.”  I always say, “I didn’t want to miss out on their first steps.  Why would I want to miss out on anything else?”  I also love how learning never stops in our house.  The things we cover in our lessons are often discussed for the rest of the day as we work and play together.  I love how, if something is not working, I can come at it from another direction.  I can tailor the mode of teaching for each individual to the way they learn the best.

Do you ever worry…?

Of course.  I’m a mom.  Mom’s worry!  When I have those down moments, I often look up “what your child should know” at certain ages.  I am usually comforted in that either my kids are right on where they should be, or ahead in some areas.  I also know that I can’t screw this up: If my kid is meant to be an engineer or a mechanic, or an artist – he will be.

I’ll write more on this later on.  If you have any additional questions, please ask!

Why is it that on the “warm” days of winter (over 30 degrees), it is always grey and depressingly overcast, yet it is on the sharp, knock-the-wind-out-of-you cold days (20 or below) that the sun pours through the windows, taunting us with its deceivingly warm glow?  I’m not sure, but it seems like a mean trick to me.

We are having a quiet evening here, which is a relief after our hour and half wrestling session at church today when I (un)successfully attempted to keep four little ones quiet and well behaved in a pew.  By the time church let out, I had had quite the workout.

I’m working on F’s birthday dress, which is really coming along quite quickly.   I’m knitting it up on Knitpicks Shine Sport, which is incredibly soft and has a beautiful drape to it.  The bodice is completely finished and most of the skirt.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I finished the lacework part of the skirt tonight and had the whole thing finished tomorrow.  I’m still contemplating what to do about the straps.  Lately I’ve been shying away from spaghetti straps when it comes to my girls, so if I have enough yarn I may attempt some butterfly ruffles on them just for a little more coverage.    Next in my project queue is D’s birthday dress, the same pattern, just a size bigger.  D’s is a lovely magenta pink, and F’s is periwinkle blue, just like her eyes.  Having  both birthdays in March makes for a busy February for Mama!

Yesterday we had an impromptu waldorf doll hospital day.  F’s baby needed a wig reattachment, and D’s needed a bath.  She also wanted to cut her hair a little bit shorter.  We gave them both a little bit more rose to their cheeks and dressed them in their finest.  Getting them all cleaned up again had me thinking I should really make them both a few more outfits…maybe something along the lines of Laura and Mary from the Little House stories.  In the interest of being a bit more frugal though, I think I’ll scour my local thrift stores for old sheets or fabric for the project.  J’s birthday is also in March, his very first!  I was thinking of making him a little one piece baby doll, but I’m not sure I’ll have enough time.   I have leftover doll materials from when I made the girls, so that isn’t a problem.  I want to make all 3 of them Birthday Crowns as well so I really do have a lot on my plate in that department!

I’m still struggling with our odd schedule as far as school is concerned.  Tomorrow will be a very structured, get down to business sort of school day.  We have quite a few things we simply MUST accomplish.  It will probably end up being a no TV/Computer day just out of pure necessity, which is just fine with me.  We need to get back on track!

Stay tuned for my very first “WIP Wednesday” if you want a peek at the birthday dresses!

While everyone else in the working world is anxiously looking forward to 5pm and the beginning of their weekend, I am slogging through what is now my Monday.  Although it usually takes me a bit longer to get moving on Mon(Fri)days, I’ve been trying to transform my perspective from “Manic” to “Marvelous!”

Getting back into the swing of the week is not only hard for Mamas, but can be for the kidlets as well.  They are coming down from a Midweek full of snuggling with Daddy on the couch watching movies, playing and largely ignoring chores (would that I could be so lucky!).  Beginning a day of picking up where we left off, cleaning up after lots of lazy fun and refocusing our energies on what needs to be done can be quite a drag to little people.  I’m trying to raise spirits of everyone by baking some yummy treats, reading through our stack of library books, taking a jaunt through the neighborhood and hopefully giving every one naps (or at least quiet time!).

In the kitchen, I’m making a simple bean and ham soup for dinner with some baking powder biscuits to go along.  We still have some leftovers from a few nights this week, so those will probably be making a (re)appearance tonight as well.  Last night I actually pulled off a Teryaki Chicken stir fry, which I’ve never made before.  It was quick and easy and so delicious!  I made enough  for J to take for lunch as well as some extra for me.  It was a bit spicy for the kids, but the adults loved it!

Beans soaking, waiting to be made into soup!

I’ve been having a lovely mail week full of packages!  First a love package from my older sister in Connecticut full of novels, a new corduroy skirt and sweater, makeup, chocolate and of course something for the littles.  Next, my beautiful stack of Anna Maria fabric just begging to be made up into something cozy and warm.  Lastly, a big box full of yarn, not all for me, but still so pretty and full of possibilities.  So excited to see what it all becomes!

Oh so pretty!

drool!

Lastly, I wanted to share a few projects I finished in the last few days.  First, I adapted this hat from a sweater pattern I have made.  I love the button closure.  It is so incredibly stretchy, I tried it on every single one of my kids and it fit!  Albiet a bit snug on the 6 year old and a bit loose on the 10 month old, but still, pretty impressive!

on the 2 year old

on the four year old

on the 6 year old

I also quickly knit up these mittens.  The Cestari Merino is nice and thick, so they are super warm.  I think if they were lanolinized they would also be pretty water proof.

All in all, fun little projects.  Now that the yarn is here though, no more fun and games!  I have to make the girls’ birthday dresses and have about 6 weeks to do it in.  Stay tuned!


Our “Midweek” is really our “Weekend,” meaning Wednesday and Thursday are when Daddy is home!  Here are some of our Midweek Meanderings from yesterday.

A successful trip to our nearby Thrift Store yielded this lovely find!  Betsy Tacy and Gone Away Lake, both on my previous List of Books for Girls, 20 cents a piece.

Some of our finds at the local Library.  I was especially thrilled to find “The Creative Family” By Amanda Blake Soule, which I had been wanting to take a peek into.

I stumbled across this set up this morning, before my sleep head girls were even up for the day.  I love finding the evidence of imagination taking place around my home!

I’ve got some WIPs that I want to share with you, but other things are demanding my attention at the moment!  I will get some pictures and put them up later.

Have a lovely Midweek!

In this busy little house with so many busy little people, “one on one time” is very rare and, should it happen at all, it is often for just a few precious moments here and there.  I find that it is the oldest that miss out the most – certainly the baby gets one on one time with mama, and even the two year old finds her way to my lap at least once a day.  It is my oldest that rushes off to play with friends when the others nap, or spends time bonding with Daddy in the evening when everyone else has gone to bed (something I treasure dearly).  This afternoon, however, after a busy morning at our homeschool co-op, one of those perfect moments found us.  All 3 of the youngers were asleep at once (rare!) and I took that moment to do a quick overhaul of our craft/game/puzzle closet (incidentally, what does one DO with puzzles that have lost their pieces?  Donate?).  I proudly showed my nonplussed son my handiwork, and his eyes lighted on a pack of Go-Fish cards.

We each pulled up a chair and he shuffled first.  He laughed and mocked me as he “creamed” me in the first, second, third rounds.  He marveled at my (mediocre) shuffling and declared it to be magic.

It all didn’t last long before the baby woke up and his neighborhood friend came knocking on the door.  Before rushing off to play, my little man gave me a tight squeeze and promised to “beat you again tomorrow!”

These are the moments and times I want to treasure up and remember.  A card game on an ordinary February day with my son.

My last post made me realize that I have never written down my “list of required reading” for girls.  There are so many books and authors I loved as a child that I want to ensure my children have the opportunity to read.   I can still remember spending whole afternoons sprawled across my bed, reading insatiably for hours, only resurfacing when the sun went down and the smell of dinner wafted upstairs.

If you have a little girl these are sure to be a big hit.  Most are appropriate for read-alouds in the early years, and rest assured your girls will re-visit them when they are able to read on their own.

Here are some of the absolute favorites I remember reading over and over:

  • The Happy Hollisters Series – a family of 5 children solves mysteries.   I love the close family bond that this group has.  The books are great for boys or girls.
  • All-of-a-kind Family series by Sydney Taylor – a Jewish family of 5 girls growing up in pre WWI New York.
  • The Betsy-Tacy books* The high school years may be better suited for older girls
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink – Feisty Caddie is a must read for anyone who loves the Little House books.
  • Anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables, the Emily books, etc)* for older girls
  • Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • Blue Willow by Doris Gates
  • Away goes  Sally by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  • Gone-away Lake and Return to Gone-away – excellent for boys or girls.  This two book series sparked my imagination and I could not get enough.  I still think about it!
  • The “Shoes” books (Ballet Shoes, Theatre Shoes, Dancing Shoes, etc)
  • Strawberry Girl (or anything by Lois Lenski).  I will be reading this aloud to all of mine this summer.
  • The Four Story Mistake – also by Elizabeth Enright.  There are others in this series which are also a good read.  Boys may also like this.
  • The Moffats by Eleanor Estes (or really anything by Ms. Estes.  She is a delight).  Boys may also like this.  Wonderful for a read-aloud.

These are the ones I can vividly remember off the top of my head…and truth be told, these are the ones that I am curious to read again!  This list is subject to updating, so be sure to check back.  If you have any additional recommendations, please share!

Today was a long one.  My littlest darling decided at 4:45 AM to boot me out of the bed I so generously share with him, starting my day off a bit earlier than I am used to.  I fought it for awhile, trying everything in my mommy-of-four repertoire to calm him, but to no avail.  I must have been half asleep while all of this was going on, because I dreamt the most fabulous knitting pattern ever.  Once I get a chance to run to the yarn store, I’m going to attempt to recreate it.  Who knows, I may just make a career of bringing dream patterns to life.

I am feeling the need to refocus a bit in our homeschool.  The spliced together curriculum we are following is just fine, but we haven’t been able to make it to the library recently (read: I am way tooo lazy to bundle up 4 kids and brave the cold) and I am feeling an acute need for new literature for all of our sakes.  I’m really not one to purchase or hold onto books…stemming perhaps from the fact that we have always lived a block away from the library as well as my aversion to owning too much of anything.  It has never bothered me before but I realized tonight, as I was searching my shelves for something to read, that I need a good collection of children’s classics.  It looks like at very least the girls will be getting “Little House on the Prairie” for their birthdays.   I need to come up with some ideas for my 1st grade son as well.  Being a girl (and a girly-girl at that) I am a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what little homeschooled GIRLS love to read, but I need some help in the boy arena.  Incidentally, if anyone needs a book list for girls, drop me a line.

After a break around the holidays, the baby is back in cloth diapers full time.  I am enjoying it so much!  I definitely needed a break, but I am so happy to be back.  The trash was almost doubled when we used disposables and it was very convicting.  I’ve had a few people ask me about cloth diapering, the different types, etc, so I’ll be compiling an informational blog on that in the near future.

Last order of business before retiring to my couch with a glass of wine: I’m thinking of hosting a give away to get this blog started off right!  Stay tuned for more information and to see what the prize will be!

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