Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

My Homeschool Day: Success or Failure?

As homeschool moms we are tempted to compare our daily lives and, our children’s lives, with others, and may be naggingly tugged to feel guilty about it, or even a twinge of failure every now and then.

Take today for example.  Or, this week even.  We are winding down after a long 9-10 months in school, and trying to finish up the last things.  The last math unit, the last spelling units, the last grammar concepts… and it’s like pulling teeth!  Has anyone else noticed that it is beautiful outside?!!   Does anyone else remember that soon after these beautiful days called spring, that we will be brave to step outside for more than 5 minutes any time after 10 am because of the stifling heat?  I remember.  And when I look out my backdoor and see my children playing to their heart’s content, lapping up God’s creation, joining with Him in creative play… I can’t bring myself to strap them to the chair and pin their nose to a workbook.  Call me crazy, I just can’t do it.

Today my children helped with family chores – feeding and watering chickens and rabbits.  They rode their bikes and showed me how fast they could go.  They accompanied me on a farm supply trip and my son proved his manhood by loading heavy bags of wood-chips into the car.  My daughter beat all the odds and strengthened her emotional stability in the stores, holding it together when she wanted to fall apart.  They sat down together with both mother and father for a wholesome lunch of beans and cornbread.  After lunch, they descended upon the sandbox, where they played in harmony and lost track of time.  When it came time for Judah’s nap, Jeremiah finished up a while in the sandbox, then took a break to make some homemade fresh squeezed lemonade.  He brought me out a sample twice while I watered the garden.  He then put 3 cookies into a baggie and rode his bike across the field, along the “secret pathway“, to Nini’s house.  They shared the cookies (1 for papa, too), and hashed over the day’s events.  Then she invited him to ride over to my sister’s garden to fix a piece of tubing for their irrigation.  They hopped in the car, and in a while he’ll be back here, content and full from his day of unhurried, uncontrolled, non-structured learning.

So was today a homeschool success of failure? 

If you’re looking from a purely academic stand point, there may be room for growth; however when the entire year of academic and developmental learning is considered, I am certain that even with days like today, they have learned and grown an entire year’s worth of growth.  And there will be other days for spelling words and math problems – probably when the oppressive heat locks us in our home.  That’s what we did last summer.

I think that this homeschool day – popcorn at the farm store, lemonade in the garden, cookies with Nini, and unhurried creative play… can’t be beat.  I’d be willing to wager that they grew and learned more from today than they would have if I had cracked open the books.    And for that reason, I love homeschool.   



Confessions of an Introvert Homeschool Mom

I had an hour alone in the garden today, and other than the fact that I was huffing and puffing and hurrying to get my project done before my time was up, I was enjoying being alone.  I had time to think, which seems rare these days.

With longer daylight hours upon us, the kids’ bedtime has been pushed back usually nearing 9 pm.  Spring is heavy upon us at the farm, with the constant push to get more done than humanly possible before the next rain, which is every few days.  The farmer feels the burden of a first year farm’s worth of work to do, Mt. Everest before him.  He has little time to give the introvert homeschool mom her usual breaks.  Things I usually do alone I have done together lately – grocery shopping, sometimes meal preparation, or a night out with a friend.  To put it concisely, I have less time to myself these days.  Certainly there will be chatter in the room before I finish this blog.

Self-awareness is a good thing.  Not self-centeredness or self-absorbtion, but self-awareness.  What is my nature, what makes me tick, when do I thrive, how to I relate, where are my strengths, where are my weaknesses? One thing I have more completely understood about myself the last few years is how much of an introvert I am than I previously thought.  I have also gained a clearer understanding about what an introvert is.  Being introverted is not the same as being shy.  Introverts do not necessarily have any fear of social judgement that would cause shyness.  Rather, introverts find too much socializing (or interaction) exhausting and would rather in be alone or in the company of a select few people.  Introverts have a great ability to focus for long periods of time, giving them the ability to learn skills well, listen thoroughly, consider and weigh the risks and benefits of a given situation, as well as other strengths.  Also introverts prefer to avoid excessive amounts of stimulation.  A peaceful evening reading a great book may be preferred over a social gathering, and the “M” on the mute button is usually worn off on an introvert’s remote control, or perhaps the remote may even be lost (or hidden).

So with my new understanding of what being an introvert is, I find that it describes me almost completely.  I prefer quiet and dim places.  I will often move to a different table if one is too loud or too bright.  I have also been known to unscrew the light bulb from a light fixture that hangs just above the table.  For each house I have lived in, the thing I disliked the most about each one of them was the noises in or outside of the house.  Those who had the quietest nature brought me the most comfort.  I am easily overstimulated, and will usually find a quiet place to escape during gatherings for a bit of decompression before reentering the social setting.  I have even been known to chunk perfectly good noisy toys in the trash.  I have always preferred to have only a few close friends, and rarely enjoy being with acquaintances.  I have always (since early childhood) enjoyed spending time alone doing quiet activities such as reading, writing, scrapbooking, sewing, gardening, even baking and cooking.  3-4 hours can fly by when I am alone after everyone else has gone to bed, as my focus is allowed to run its course until sleep takes over.  I have a few extroverted tendencies – I willingly participate in class discussions, I will express my thoughts and ideas confidently, and I am willing to take charge if I must.  Nonetheless, all of this to say – I am an introvert, and proud of it.  

So embracing my introvert self, I realize that it is okay to enjoy time alone.  I have at times felt guilty for wanting to be alone (translated “without my kids”).  There have actually been seasons when I truly did savor our long days together, enjoying being with my beloved children, and smiling on them as we shared hour after hour and day after day together.  I do love them immensely.  But as an introvert, I do not express my love to anyone by wanting to be with them 24/7 without any breaks.  Yes, I want to be with my children.  It is my choice to be a stay-at-home mom and to homeschool, it is not forced upon me.  But that does not mean that I do not also want to be alone.  I want to be alone.  Lately, with the great demands of building a new farm from scratch, the long process of moving and finishing house projects, all the extra that must be done these days has left me tired, in need of alone time as much as ever, and yet I have had less time alone than usual.  I have found that a struggle, and I am doing what I can to enjoy those moments that I do have alone.

This is a mild discomfort compared to great and strenuous trials, but I want to trust the Lord to sustain me through this time, to provide what I need personally and emotionally, and to conform me to the image of His Son.  Most surely He has created me and knows me and will walk with Me hand in hand, through all seasons of life be they short or long.  I am thankful I know where my Help comes from, and to Him I look.  And, I also look forward to 9pm.  🙂

Can any of you introvert homeschool moms relate?  Have you felt guilty for wishing for time alone, feeling inadequate that you don’t have what your children need every minute of every day?

Yep… one of them is showing me how long her arm is right now and chattering away as I finish this sentence.  *sigh*

A Breath of Fresh Air for the Homeschool Heart

I am reading an ebook called “Simply Homeschool: Having Less Clutter and More Joy in Your Homeschool” by Karen DeBeus.  I have found quite a few nuggets of gold in Ms. DeBeus’ ebook, which feels sort of like sitting down at her kitchen table over hot tea, and sharing heart to heart about our homeschool journeys together.  Oh that the blog world were like that… that tomorrow I could call up Karen and invite her over.  Nonetheless, I have been encouraged by her writing in my own homeschool life and wanted to share a few tid-bits with you.  Read these as if straight from my own pen:

HOMEschool Means Being Home

Another area where homeschoolers are trying to ‘fill up’ is outside activities. Deep down I wonder if this is because we feel a need to measure up to what everyone else is doing. It seems these days everyone is running around. The more scheduled activities, the better. The more classes, sports, and activities your child is signed up for the more “well-rounded” your child is. Ah! Let my child not be “well-rounded” then! (Exactly my thoughts!  I get this all the time!)

I feel that kids need to be kids. Let their afternoons be filled with exploring {especially outdoors.} They need time to be by themselves, even if that means being bored sometimes. They need to have that down time to find what they enjoy doing, to actually be alone.

We do outside activities, but we limit them. We have one full day where we are outside of the house for a fine arts program. There is another evening we are out for church activities. But the other days we really try to be home and focused on what we need to do at home.  (We do outside activities, and also limit them.  On Monday evenings Keith and Jeremiah go to Cub Scouts, and sometimes on Thursday we go to homeschool social time at McDonald’s.  We go to church and the one per quarter homeschool co-op activity such as Monday’s Valentine’s party.  By the time you add into that a field trip once a month and playdates with our homeschooling cousins, I already find it a challenge to spend most of our time at home.  So I maintain a grip on the reigns and anytime I feel we are spending too much time running around, I simply pull back a bit.  It has worked well for us so far this year.  I think it will be come more difficult as the kids get older.  Next year Jeremiah could join band.  We are also considering joining a Classical Conversations Tuesday weekly group.  So are we going to do Scouts Monday, CC Tuesday, cousins Wednesday, McDonald’s Thursday?  Needless to say, that is too much running around and leaves too little time to be HOME… where live happens, where family grows, where character is instilled, where joy is savored.)

So limit the outside actitivites as best as you can. Again, remeber: focus on filling up on Him. Not just filling up time.  (Good stuff, Karen!)

Ms. DeBeus also had some great ideas about simplifying homeschool “stuff”, remembering why I homeschool, and not falling into the comparison trap and feeling inadequate compared to what others are doing.  I really appreciate her authentic and heart-felt writing – and this is just 3 chapters into it.  😉  Maybe I’ll post more about it another time.  Either way, I highly recommend Karen DeBeus’ ebook, “Simply Homeschool: Having Less Clutter and More Joy in Your Homeschool” .  Enjoy!

~Homemade Poptarts, Graham Crackers, and Dishsoap~

Well, the new year has begun and we’re off to a running start! We have spent our first week back in the cotton fields harvesting in over a month! It’s been so rainy, it’s been too wet to harvest. We will have been harvesting for about 9 days when our next big chance of rain hits: 50% chance on Monday. Keith will be taking Tuesday off anyway because he needs to pack his bags. He is heading out to Oaxaca, Mexico to do a video project for some missionary friends of ours. Kerry and Maury Johnson have been working in Oaxaca for many years and are hoping to start a new women and children’s center to help women in distressed situations. Keith will be making a video of existing projects in the villages and hopefully doing some interviews about the women and children’s center. He is going together with my Dad and a friend of the family, so it should be a good time for them all. Hmmm… I just realized as I was writing this that Keith will not be doing the chores while he is out of town for a week. Farm girl on the job training continues.

This week I wanted to share some of the projects and things I’ve been doing lately. I am hoping to revamp my “snack cabinet” this year and largely do away with processed boxed foods. So far I have experimented with a few things. The kids have liked some of them, and a few of them not so much.

Homemade "Poptarts"

Cheese Crackers

Dehydrated apples, bananas, and strawberries: 4 stars (healthy, full of fiber, non-messy fruit)

Homemade cheese crackers: 2 stars 😦 (the kids didn’t like these too much)

Homemade Chocolate Graham Crackers: 4 stars (a hit!)

Homemade Poptarts: 3 stars (only because strangely they kind of give us heart burn)

Popped in a pan on the stove “homemade” popcorn: 5 stars (a classic and easy favorite!)

Homemade Chocolate Graham Crackers

Homemade Chocolate Graham Crackers

Here are the links to some of the recipes I tried.

I also wanted to share my favorite new addition to the kitchen:

This is a ceramic coated skillet, which I use almost every day for pancakes or eggs. For anyone who’s interested in the health and safety of the cookware you use to prepare your food, this pan is great! It is a much better non-stick surface than stainless steel, and is also non-reactive with your food, a great improvement over anything using Teflon or other chemical non-stick surfaces. I have also seen these in a nice white ceramic. Either way, I LOVE mine so far, and I feel good about cooking my family’s food in this pan.

Another favorite Christmas gift was this indoor Piratos Swing Seat my mother got for my son. It’s been a real hit with both kids, and my son enjoys reading in it, twirling around in it, and just general lounging in it. It’s the perfect gift for lots of winter days spent indoors. The book he’s enjoying in the photo is a Bible comic book called “Good and Evil”. Good stuff.

This week has been “No Dryer Week” around here. I’m giving my clothes dryer a rest and have returned to hanging my clothes “out to dry”, but indoors on a wooden rack and using hangers for shirts. So far I have really liked it. Doing a load every day or two takes only a few minutes of my time, as opposed to doing it all on one day and ending up with 4-5 baskets of laundry sitting around in the living room for days waiting on me to fold it or put it away. 😉 Who, me? Never!

I also attempted homemade dish soap this week. I did a simple low cost “recipe”. Shred a bar of soap (I used unscented Dove), add 2 cups hot water and let sit overnight. Then put it into a soap bottle and you’re ready to go! So far I like it! One reason I did this was because you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find truly unscented dish soap – a must for sensitive skin like mine. I usually use Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear dish soap, but at my local health food store it’s $5.50 per bottle, and it’s out of my way because I don’t go there very often. So I decided to try to make my own!

Mrs. Haugan’s 2nd Grade class (of 1) is back under way – sort of. This week Jeremiah has participated in two mornings of “Bring your son to work day” with Keith. This has a few purposes – 1) One on one time with Dad, 2) Jeremiah spending time on the cotton farm (preparation for a few years down the road when he’s old enough to drive a tractor and join the work crew), 3) One on one time for Mommy and Judah. Monday he swept out the cotton stripper (that’s the real name for the cotton harvesting machine) which is truly helpful.  Our other main event for this week was a field trip to the Stillwater children’s museum, “Wondertorium”. We went together with my mom and my sister-in-law and her 3 sons and spent 4-5 hours playing our hearts out! It was a great place, so much so that we bought a year pass. We hope to spend many more field trip days there. We hit the books next week in Mrs. Haugan’s 2nd Grade Class (of 1).

I have been perculating on the topic of why I homestead lately, and wondering if any one might wonder why I think that drying my laundry on a rack is cool, or why I attempt to make homemade crackers and dish soap. Perhaps why is a valid question in this case, so I thought I’d spent some time putting it into words. That’s coming up next time, which should be soon.


My list for the week: homeschool, advent gift chain, chicken processing…

Things on my list this week:

  • sort & wrap advent chain gifts (have you ever heard of this?)
  • weight turkeys (are they going to be big enough to be ready for Thanksgiving?!!)
  • put photos into new collage frame
  • add a craft to homeschool plans this week
  • read “Story of the World” book to catch up with Jeremiah
  • buy labels for chickens (we will be “processing” them Sunday!)
  • title deposits online for 2011 (prep work for taxes, etc.)

The list is longer, but I won’t bore you with the rest.  So to sort of sum up my life these days, it is centered around raising my children, cooking and cleaning, preparing for holiday festivities, homeschooling, and preparing for chicken and turkey processing.  It seems word has traveled about our grass-fed chickens and turkeys and we have had 4

Succeeding in Reading with the Spalding Method (Writing Road to Reading)

requests already for them, without any advertising whatsoever.  That is encouraging, and we are hopeful to see that grow in the coming year as we grow our production.

I am going through a bit of transition in homeschooling.  We are switching to The Writing Road to Reading program for our reading, writing, and spelling (Spalding Method).  To teach it I will have to learn all of the phonograms and many spelling rules.  I know it will be worth it.  We will continue to use Christian Light Education math, which I am pleased with.  We are starting “The Story of the World” for history, and I need to read it so we can discuss it together.  My mom is teaching Jeremiah science and piano, and that is going great.  We are doing some geography about Oklahoma and the USA, which he is enjoying.  He is about 1/2 way through memorizing all of the books of the Bible.  We do

Advent Gift Chain - super fun!!

book reports, drawing, crafts, cooking, handwriting, as well as some field trips.  And of course we do real life learning complete with our very own rabbits, turkeys, and chickens.  😉  I was feeling good about how things were going, but right now am adjusting to a bit of a teaching learning curve with the new language arts and history texts.  We’ll catch on though!

I’m going to do an Advent Mini Gift Chain for the kids! I was inspired by the new issue of Martha Stewart Living. I couldn’t find the article online yet, but the idea is pretty simple. Collect 24 small gifts, wrap them and tie them into a chain with ribbon.  Have the kids unwrap one each day in the month of December leading up to Christmas. YAY!  I found “The ADVENTure of Christmas” book by Lisa Whelcher to learn about advent and about the symbolic meaning behind Christmas traditions, such as ornaments, trees, lights, stars, ect.  I can envision warm fuzzy evenings in December letting each child cut one gift from the advent chain and then sitting down to hear that day’s story from our advent book.  😉

Yep, you read it right – Sunday is the day, the day when we will have our first of many Fifth Generations Farms Chicken Processing Day!  Keith has a few

The Whizbang Chicken Plucker in action!

people who have volunteered to come out and help in the work, and we are preparing this week by assembling the Whizbang chicken plucker and a scalder, and gathering the other needed supplies.  We should be knee-deep in feathers this weekend.

My parents bought a hot tub recently.  Tonight I got to enjoy sitting in the hot tub with my mom, talking, and looking up at the night sky.  It was a nice way to spend the evening.  If only we could sit in the hot tub for 2 hours.  It has been great so far living near family.  Farming together with them, my mom helping homeschool Jeremiah and occasionally babysitting, and adding to that times we want to just hang out (like making ornaments today) we see each other a lot.  It’s quite the change from all these years living many miles apart.  What a joy to spend many days together after too many days apart.

That’s it for now, folks.

The kiddos, happiest when outside playing together. 🙂

Our Very Own Oklahoma Land Run!

The final family swim of 2011 was a success!  Just last night we were swimming and relaxing by the pool at Aunt Linda’s house (and now we are wearing sweatshirts!).  And it was a lot of fun!  The kids had a blast, and my mom and dad had a mini-vacation from their busy week.  Altogether, I’m glad we did it.  It was wonderful to see Linda and Steve as well.  What a blessing!

Jeremiah enjoying the pool

Today the kids and I had a great day.  There wasn’t anything particularly exciting about our day – we stayed home all day until around 5 pm.  But that’s just it – we are quite happy at home.  All three of us love the routine, the enjoyment of being in the space that is our own, and the peace of a day at home.  We sorted through toy boxes, did household chores and farm chores, and shared lunch together.  The kids played together and we shared an hour in

Judah LOVES the water!

fairytale land with the Indian in the Cupboard.  Jeremiah and I enjoyed the 2nd grade this afternoon, journeying through the adventures of “who” nouns and “what” nouns.

Around dinner time we went over to Nini’s house to stake our claim in the Oklahoma-Kahle land run, where we will put our mobile home when we get it.  It was sort of like the 1904 land run here in Kay County all over again!!  🙂  Think “Far and Away” with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  We rode our horses over the hills with the wind blowing our hair this way and that, racing for our piece of grass ahead… well, sort of.  Actually, we rode our pick up truck out over the terraces and jumped out when we found the right spot.  By the end, there were four stakes in the ground, marking the place where our home will sit sometime this fall.  We’ll have a breath-taking view of the sunset, which was gorgeous tonight, a beautiful back yard with trees in the distance, and plenty of acres behind the house for our animals.  It’ll be our own little piece of paradise…   God is good to us!

Today I looked at the blocks scattered all over my living room floor, and I smiled.  I even took a picture.  I thought to myself how glad I was for those blocks on the floor.  Those blocks mean that there are precious children here living life in my home.  What joy!  Truly, children are a blessing from the Lord!

Well, that’s all the gushing from northern Oklahoma that you need to hear for tonight.  Until next time,


I have ordered my homeschool curriculum for Jeremiah’s 2nd grade!  It took lots of thought and reading to decide what to do, to weigh the options between kinds of curriculums with various focuses, but I finally decided.  It should arrive in the mail any day, and I will look forward to sharing it with ya’ll.

Muddy farm boys!!

Jeremiah and I making an edible arrangement!

The finished product for Nini...

Jeremiah and his farm buddies surprised us one day when we found them completely covered in mud!  They were having so much fun, and though it was a mess to clean up, we enjoyed seeing them fully loving farm life.  These are some true farm boys!

We were in Oklahoma over Mother’s Day and we made my mom a fun gift – an edible arrangement!  It was a fun activity, and Nini loved it!

She loved it!! Happy Mother's Day!

I’m going to just follow this short post with a few recent photos from spring on the farm.

Enjoy your Labor Day plans!


Fun times baking bread together!

This was just part of the harvest one morning!

Jeremiah and Judah hunt eggs

Judah's easter hunt

Jeremiah and friends working in the garden