Homeschool: What we’ve loved this year

**I just found this in my drafts from JUNE! – I’ll post it anyways even though my next post about what we’re doing for school this year is just about finished.  And ps – I’m technically NOT out of the new baby fog – he still gets up every two hours!**

As I come out of the new baby fog and am fresh from an all day trip to the local homeschool convention, there is oh-so-much I could say about this.  But I’ll keep my focus narrow and just share some of the things we’ve most loved this year in our home learning.

  • Freedom to work at the pace each child needs in each subject area – this piece is core to our reasons for homeschooling.  While kids have worked through reading at lightning bolt speed, math has been slower and more challenging.
  • Time to read and be read to – every single day.  When we’re able to get most of our focused work time done early in the day (always the goal) each child has the freedom to read their own choice of quality books.  In fact as I type this Caleb just interrupted me and said:
    “Did you know that the water they are traveling over in my book right now is fathoms deep?  They are crossing the Atlantic with three ships none of which have been destroyed but they did lose valuable equipment.”  He’s reading a biography of Captain John Smith and is absolutely captivated.
  • Time outside.  Especially with boys, coop them up indoors for days in a row and its a sure recipe for craziness.  They thrive on meaningful work (read: not loads of busywork and worksheets), outdoor time and the chance to be physical.  I’m still learning how to do this but our days at home offer again a great deal of freedom to figure it out.
  • Relationships – though our kids of course argue and bicker as any kids do, all in all they are forging amazing relationships with one another and with me.  I know we could still facilitate this if they were gone all day, but its simply easier to do when we’re together most days.
  • Practical life skills – once we’re done with our work (which takes a lot less than a 7 hour school day for many reasons) we can learn to preserve food, we tend our garden and harvest veggies, we catch bugs and marvel at them, we learn how to read recipes and help prepare dinner, we try our hand at various crafts like sewing, knitting and woodwork, we write letters to friends and family, we get out art supplies and make beautiful things, we snuggle up in a blanket for an hour and read quietly.

Those are just the first that come to mind.  The main theme I think is freedom.  We are totally, amazingly blessed in this nation to have the freedom we do to worship as we choose and to teach our children in the way we see best for our family.

Bountiful Baskets

In my search for a CSA to get produce through, I came across the Bountiful Baskets website. I really didn’t understand it exactly or know what a basket included but for $15 compared to the $45 one from the CSA we used to buy from, it seemed worth trying out just once. I waited until a Monday, which is the window when you can “contribute” to a pool which is used to purchase the produce. Then today I drove out into the country to pick up my basket. I brought a couple small grocery bags and Phineas. How much food could it really be after all? Turns out a lot. And the nicest people, a sweet volunteer held Phineas and walked him around while I loaded up my stuff. Here is my fresh loot:

2 heads of cabbage
1 bunch of radishes
7 nectarines
7 white peaches
1 honeydew melon
1 bunch of bok choy
5 cucumbers
3 zucchini
5 granny smith apples
1 bunch radishes
5 lb bag of potatoes
2 big bunches of bananas

Granted, it’s not organic, though many locations have organic available for a bit more cost.  But with all the eaters in this house, we can’t possibly eat everything organic.  I try to skip the important ones or opt to pay more when it matters more – like berries, grapes, peaches, etc.  Regardless, it was all very fresh and except the bananas, none of it was flown in from out of the country – it was all from the US.  And they aim to source as local as possible depending on the season.

All in all, I was astounded at how much good food I walked away with for only $15.  Nothing on the website really tells you what is actually in an average basket.  It was a more than pleasant surprise!  I don’t have the time or the dedication to be a super-awesome coupon mom but I do like a good deal on food we actually eat.  My experience thus far with coupons is that they are great deals yes but they are rarely for food we use.   If I could find a coupon for a 20 pound bag of short grain organic brown rice now that would be nice…or possibly one for raw milk fresh from the farm?  Unlikely indeed!

Boys and homeschool

There are a lot of reasons why I love the opportunity to homeschool our boys.  I could write at length about it.  But it is summed up nicely in this photo, so for now I’ll share just this instead…

and just in case you can’t quite see it well…

fresh words being practiced

brand new pencil

dirt-filled fingernails

this is the happy way and life of our learning boy

True confessions

I bribed a crying 4 year old with a bag of M&M’s at the dentist (whispering secretly into his ear so the hygienist didn’t hear me) to convince him he should stay in his chair and let the dentist clean his teeth.

I bribed the rest of the children before we even GOT to the dentist.  With the promise of ice cream cones on the way home from the dentist.

I sent a text to my husband on his way home from work today that said something like “The dog pooped on the carpet in the family room again.  I’m not cleaning it up this time.  I am shut inside my room.  See you soon.”

Upon his coming home, I got dinner on the table and left for a ‘mental health break’ knowing he was leaving shortly for ‘guys night’ and it was going to be a long haul.

My idea of mental health break is wandering around the tacky thrift store near our house for an hour, spending a few dollars and getting a bag brimming with fun random things.

On the way home I stopped at the grocery store for a couple things.  When I asked the deli lady for one chicken strip she suggested the baked rotisserie chicken instead.  Really?  Can’t a mama just get a piece of fried goodness and not feel guilty about it?

Three times this week I pulled over the van to nurse the baby so everyone could have a break from the crying.

Noticing two giant bottles of gripe water on the counter, my husband inquired “Why two bottles when you don’t even know if it will help?”.  Fair question, it did come in a two pack but anything with the brand name “Mommy’s Bliss” written boldly on the package sounded good enough to me that I wanted two bottles anyway.

A few doses later, I informed him that the result was not in fact Mommy Bliss as indicated.  Perhaps I should try taking it myself for the bliss?

My pride was slightly, but only slightly, injured when my 6 year old son asked me why I didn’t look like the girl in the Pilates DVD workout I was doing.  Sigh.

My goal for the week was only sweets on 3 days.  FAIL.  Sweets every day.  And a quarter pound of peanut butter M&M’s in one day from a friend who I forgot to tell about said goal.  Obviously.

I opted for doing school work with kids at every opportunity this week instead of cleaning at every opportunity.  I have no clue how to do both just yet.  So my kitchen counter is invisible as a result.  But we burned through a lot of history and math 🙂

I laughed at the dinner table when a four year old boy said “Poop-lee-us” through giggles.  I know potty talk is for the potty.  But sometimes, it’s still funny and I’m not always mature enough to act like a grown up.

 

 

Overheard in the kitchen…

Audrey (who is potty training and wearing panties): “I leaked, yeah I did.”

Kyler: “You can’t leak if you don’t have a diaper on.”

Audrey: “No I did, I leaked.”

Mama: “Did you pee?”

Audrey: “No, I leaked.”

Kyler: “Yeah, it’s just water on her chair.”

Audrey: “No, I did, I leaked.”

Kyler: “It’s just…uh no, its not water.  I just licked it.  It’s pee for sure.”

Mama laughs so hard she cries while taking wet clothes of potty training girl and Kyler can’t wipe the look of terror off his face in realization of what just happened.

 

Introducing cousin Ruby

is that not the sweetest face in the world?

Audrey can’t get enough of her new cousin, she held her three times tonight upon meeting her for the first time!

There is so much hope wrapped up in the tiny package of a newborn.  In the midst of many losses this year, knowing that this little babe was on the way was such a reminder of good things mixed in with life’s pain.  The miracle of new life is just that, it is beyond explanation.  Holding my new niece has been the highlight of this week!  For more pictures you can visit my sister’s blog here.

Heather Lake Trail

Up towards the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, there are many hikes on our list for this summer.  Today we enjoyed the Heather Lake Trail.  Five hours, 4 miles, 1000 foot elevation gain and 4 really tired hikers.  It was beautiful, worth the effort for sure.  Lots of old growth trees that were super impressive.