Sunday Journal: First Full Week Back

20160815_104602 (640x480)Our first week of the academic year is now history. Even though I would not call it catastrophic in any sense of the word…the days certainly had their moments. I also just didn’t get my walks in this week and I guess that did not help my mood at all. I’m fairly certain that the less alone time I get the worse it reflects on my humanity. Really, I’m rather terrible.

Being introverted can be hard sometimes…like having a monster in my

first day of school fun cereal

first day of school fun cereal

Well, I’m not sure what should follow after that…I kinda lost my flow since the kiddos came and gave me “goodnight kisses”.

Guess my introverted monster isn’t as bad as I imagine since my peeps still love me enough for kisses and hugs.

Littlest in the school room full-time was fun this week. He loves his Logic of English reading lessons so long as I leave the games

Littlest working on his lettering

Littlest working on his lettering

out. He tells me he only wants “serious school not baby school”. He got really mad this week when we hit a review lesson and he didn’t “learn anything useful”. He insisted we do the next lesson right away. I also have some Kindergarten workbooks just to keep him busy (I know…busy work is bad). The workbooks have the directions and answers for parents on the same page. Littlest realized that he was capable of reading the answers and could self check his work. He thought that was hilarious! Clearly, he’s outgrown Kindergarten after one week of school.

Boots and Bach

Boots and Bach

Two little words came to my mind at that moment and one of them isn’t very nice…

One of our favorite moments of school this week was listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. Our kitty Boots was sound asleep during the entire hour or so of read-aloud time. As soon as I turned on the music she sat up and listened and was a still as the Sphinx of Egypt. Once the music was over she curled back up into a little kitty ball and snoozed for hours. Even though we went through the series of questions and talked about the instruments we heard and the emotions stirred…we’re all curious to know if Boots will react the same way during our next Bach appreciation moments. Serious science right there…

Oldest took his first science exam since we started homeschooling. I was happy with his results and I know he will improve now that he knows what to expect. He is using Dr. Wile’s General Science this year and in one of the essay questions he had an entirely different opinion than his book on the reasons for scientific advancement during the Renaissance. The author argued for Christian worldview and Oldest argued for the printing press. He’s twelve and already arguing with his textbook/authority…it is going to be a fun year.

Sunday Journal: The Rest of July

I love this picture of Littlest and Middle Boy!

I love this picture of Littlest and Middle Boy!

I have not been in the mood to write the past few weeks. On here anyway. The writing process happens in my head all the time. Sometimes I edit my own thoughts in order to articulate properly to myself…maybe you didn’t need to know that.

Nothing happened this month. So many changes happened this month. I’ve spent a fair amount of time observing my kids. Sometimes I stand at my daughter’s bedroom door and listen to her cry. And I die every time. I want to rush in and hold her and cry with her but she would come to me if

Sparkles out with Daddy

Sparkles out with Daddy

she wanted that sort of comfort. I try to let her know in little ways that I know. We checked out books at the library about IBS/IBD and are reading them together. We explore new-to-us and less harmful foods together. Together we’ve mourned the loss of strawberries, grapes and salsa from her diet. These little things are a big deal if you are only ten.

I am so very grateful that we chose to homeschool. I cannot imagine how difficult managing a chronic illness would be in the public school system.

brothers

brothers

The boys are getting bigger and they are very understanding toward their sister’s moods. We did start back to school this past week. Not all subjects are in full swing yet but I decided to wait until after Sparkle’s surgery to go full-time. I did drop a few subjects for our first couple of terms this year until things are more settled or until we have adjusted to the new normal. I’ll have a post about our courses for the year in a few weeks. My husband started building shelves in the school room and everything is just a little scattered…

The school room is almost complete and I could not be more excited!

20160718_191030 (640x480) (480x640)We have enjoyed a few trips to Lexington to watch the local baseball team. Most of the time Sparkles has felt well enough to go but on occasion I stay home with her and the boys enjoy an evening out. I do not know much about baseball but it is fun to go to the games and people watch. I like to watch the boys in their uniforms too. My favorite player is Amalani Fukofuka simply because of the way his name sounds. His name is fun to say. Seriously, how many of us have such a delicious mouthful of syllables as a name?!

IMG_1270 (480x640)My husband took the boys to get a haircut a week or so ago. We never know what Littlest will say to other people. Sometimes he is sweet and charming and other times…not so much. The barber shop is across from the old state capitol. It is a real old fashioned, full of history sort of place. Oldest insists this is the only place to get a decent haircut. He is “all of twelve” and how he knows the “holy truths” I haven’t a clue.

IMG_1268 (480x640)Littlest wasn’t exactly excited to get a hair cut. He gets up in the chair when it is his turn and tells the barber his name when prompted. For whatever reason she did not hear him and asked him to repeat it. He tells her she should have listened the first time. She scolds him and tells him that people will not like him very much if he talks like that. He tells her that he doesn’t care what people think. My husband says something about his mouthiness (yes, WordPress that is a word!) and the barber comments, “No, he’s just really smart.” Littlest demands to be treated as a complete

Boots says "hello!"

Boots says “hello!”

person not as a person-in-training. Lots of people talk down to children. I’ve never done that with my kids. I like to meet them as the people they are and treat them with dignity. I hated being spoken down to as a kid either because of my age or in later years my gender. Littlest is a bit like me in that regard except I kept my hurt feelings to myself and he isn’t afraid to stand up for himself. As someone well acquainted with fear I completely admire that trait in him.

There you have it…so much for July.

 

Reflective Moments on Compassion: The Brave Writer Retreat

 

the squares

the squares

Ruckkehrunruhe. n. the feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness—to the extent you have to keep reminding yourself that it happened at all, even though it felt so vivid just days ago—which makes you wish you could smoothly cross-dissolve back into everyday life, or just hold the shutter open indefinitely and let one scene become superimposed on the next, so all your days would run together and you’d never have to call cut.      —The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (John Koenig)

Julie greeting her people

Julie greeting her people

Eunoia is a noun and a word I very rarely use. The word means beautiful thinking or a well mind. Eunoia (yoo’-noy-ah) is the state I find myself in after the retreat with a slight fear of ruckkehrunruhe. Okay, I do know that The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is totally made up but I have experienced many of these feelings and I think they should be adopted into our everyday usage. Just sayin’.

I arrived a scared bundle of nerves. Could I really just be myself amongst these women? I’ve felt rejected by other groups before. I 20160713_205413 (640x456)usually just do not fit; like a misplaced puzzle piece longing to find the box of home I belong to. As a family we have completely given up on homeschool groups. Many are just so clickish and refuse to accept others (I’m always an other) or we just do not love Jesus in the same manner as the group. By that, I mean my hair isn’t long enough, my skirts are not long enough (God forbid, I actually wear jeans!!!), I value 20160713_190013 (640x480)individuality over obedience, and I just refuse to be “evangelical”. I had a long conversation one night with Adam about that very subject. He worked the night shift at the hotel I stayed at for the retreat and was homeschooled through tenth grade. He shared his story with me and had some interesting insights into the emotional and social needs of homeschooled kids who do not 20160715_080458 (480x640)fit the surrounding social group. Chatting with him for a couple of evenings (or early-early in the morning) was just as eye-opening as the retreat conferences. I’ll likely never meet Adam again but I am glad we momentarily connected in life.

However, I must confess the Brave Writer Moms welcomed me with open arms and I totally love them all. I found my peeps, my tribe…the box of puzzle pieces I “fit” with comfortably. These ladies totally understood why I was proud of my Littlest when he

an evening of laughter and connection

an evening of laughter and connection

was removed from his homeschool co-op class! Nobody made me feel judged…just accepted. We all felt that same sense of freedom and connection with each other…well…that is my impression anyway. Julie built this Brave community and infused us with an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. Julie claims she is not an artist but I must disagree. Her medium is composed of hearts and 20160715_075610 (480x640)souls and she wove a beautiful, brave community of mothers (and their families) together. There is only one other place on this earth I have ever felt safer and that is in the comforting arms of my husband.

We all cried together and we laughed together. I have not laughed so unself-consciously in years. I wept bitter but cleansing tears. I’ve messed up as a mother sometimes…but I left the retreat with the knowledge that I can embrace my faults, share my fears, hug my kids and move on to better days. I have the tools and knowledge I need to be an 20160714_140031 (480x640)intentional mother and educator. I left the retreat content, calm…maybe slightly emotionally high, and ready…ready to fall in love with my family all over again. To observe my sweet children and be the mother they really need and not the image of motherhood I think is required.

I was so privileged to meet my hero Stephanie (Homeschool Alliance coach). If I can be half the awesomeness she is then I will be so happy! I just want to sit at her feet and soak up her wisdom…a wisdom that at times seemed to 20160714_092522 (480x640)be hard-earned. She could have let bitterness overtake her but she chose to remain open and honest- cultivating a peacemaker’s heart. That is my impression of her. She also taught me that I can home educate my kids through highschool…the idea isn’t so scary anymore. Alex taught me that we can just appreciate nature. I do not have to know the name of every plant and creature to do nature studies with my crew. Nature study isn’t as complicated as I’ve made it out to be…we can go on scavenger hunts, watch clouds 20160714_153133 (480x640)and draw in our journals and it is enough. Melissa taught me that I do not have to prescribe to any particular educational philosophy. I can borrow unapologetically what my family requires from each method and adapt as our needs ebb and flow. What matters the most is our relationships to one another.

Julie taught with her tears, laughter and open vulnerable heart. She explained how to bring the Charlotte Mason philosophy into our century. “Charlotte is awesome”, she said “but not more awesome than YOU!” She shared with us the importance and sacredness of home…and compassion. I think she could write a 20160715_120434 (480x640)book on the importance of compassion in everyday relationships…with our spouse, kids and even ourselves. Our home atmosphere matters far more than the curriculum we use. If our homes are safe places to be creative, take risks, receive compassion, communicate openly and respond with consistent intention then, we’ve created an atmosphere where learning takes place continuously. Letting all of this knowledge flow from my mind to my heart is gonna take a little time…maybe more than a little.

20160714_082145 (480x640)The place for the retreat was lovely. I tried to arrive early each morning to walk the Franciscan community’s grounds. The flowers and sculptures were beautiful. The place felt sacred even though it was in the middle of a large city. I spent part of one of my morning strolls chatting with Sister Karen. I met her returning from the outdoor Way of the Cross Stations and walked her to the chapel for prayers. She explained the history of their community, grounds and gardens. Later, I walked up to the sister’s cemetery and read 20160714_081959 (480x640)some of the names and dates on the stones. Every stone represented the life and dedicated service of a precious person. Women who consciously set out to make the world a better place. I thought about my own time in the monastery and what those years mean to me. I realized just how much strength I’ve drawn from my time in the cloister. I thought about my young and naïve thoughts on being a “bride of Christ” and realizing the truth is actually being a bride of humanity. A calling that I still feel sometimes and that manifests itself in compassion. My life made some sort of connecting loop in the sister’s cemetery (Oh, the tears!)). I am still called to a life of compassion…

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

—Wendell Berry

Look what he learned while I was away

Look what he learned while I was away

Journal: A Do-over Would Be Nice

 polly


Polly

There really isn’t much to say about this week…it could really do with a “do-over”. The hardest news was learning that our daughter would have to undergo a scope for a diagnosis. Unless her tests threw off some false positives she has some sort of inflammatory bowel disorder/disease.

We did get an offer on our house in western Kentucky. That is the good news. The crappy part is the relocation company doesn’t want to accept the offer. I thought the role of a relocation company was to be helpful during the

Monty the Mean

Monty the Mean

moving process. Sadly, this has not been our experience. I hope the offer goes through. As much as I love our former home, it would be nice to get it off our hands. We have a hard time taking care of it since it is so far away. We’ll feel like we have a bit of breathing room in our lives once it belongs to another family…one less thing to tie us down.

Our academic year ended on Thursday. No-one really noticed except for me. Usually we take pictures and go out for dinner or

Oldest in my glasses

Oldest in my glasses

something. This year the middle two spent the evening with friends at VBS. My husband and Oldest went to meet with the realtor and do some work at the old house. Littlest and I were left at home and feeling a bit abandoned by everyone.

Sunday was a good day. I spent the morning getting my hair done. The toner in my hair starts to fade after a few weeks and I just start to feel a bit drab. My hairdresser (magician!) gave me a bottle of special shampoo that is supposed to help with the fade out. Hopefully it works.

Sparkles

Sparkles

At home I baked a bunch of cookies for an Independence Day celebration at the home of one of my husband’s co-workers. They have some beautiful property and we enjoyed ourselves for the evening. Good food and good company. The kids roasted marshmallows and played with sparklers. We even watched a few fireworks before the rain set in.

The sky continues to rain…

yours truely

yours truly

My last review for the TOS Crew is this week. I’ve opted to drop off the team because of Sparkles illness. Having one less obligation to worry over is freeing…not to mention time-saving.

The whole week was not as depressing as I’ve described. Our morning routine ran fairly smoothly. We are all glad to get back to read aloud time, habit training and poetry memorization. Right

Littlest and my husband

Littlest and my husband

now we are just loving The Phantom Tollbooth…such a crazy wacky book and so fun to read. Oldest and I conquered a chunk of Les Miserables (I misspell it every single time!!!). Right now we are in a serious debate on which movie version to watch. I want to see the Hugh Jackman musical (Wolverine and he is singing!!!) and Oldest wants to see the Liam Neeson version.  Since I do not want to buy the movie I guess we will end up watching whichever version the library owns.

Middle Boy

Middle Boy

We are going to learn how to knit for our handicraft this year. The kids and I went to the hobby shop to purchase needles and yarns for our various projects. Middle Boy also found a book of Minecraft projects that he really wanted. He had not discovered what he wanted to do for his project weeks during the school year and this book just hit his happy spot. It is full or art  and STEM projects so we are both happy. I’ll have more about our upcoming school year soon, our curriculum choices and projects. I’ll also write-up my final thoughts (more like a memorial) on our past academic year.

Sunday Journal: The Week Summer Plans Changed

Sparkles in the ER

Sparkles in the ER

We greeted June in the emergency room.

Emergency comes from the Latin meaning “to arise” or “bring to light”. The symbolic beauty of the word’s origin is obscured today. The word seems ugly to me and does not flow well off the tongue. I like words and I enjoy learning about words. In those moments as May faded into June and I guarded with prayer my daughter’s  rest in the ER; I thought about “emergency.” We certainly have a mystery on our hands…a mystery where truth needs to be brought out of darkness and into the light of understanding. Unfortunately, her mystery illness will require a specialist that she is scheduled to see next month. She

Sparkles and Boots

Sparkles and Boots

is still ill but responding to antibiotics. (A thousand times “thank you” to those who have offered prayers for her!!)

Oh, and about those antibiotics she is taking…this stuff is given to people with the plague or anthrax exposure! The side effects are just as horrible as her current symptoms. We won’t really know if she is feeling better for another seven days or so…

hanging out with Middle Boy

hanging out with Middle Boy

My plans for our summer courses are moot. I’m not sure what to do now. Sparkles thinks she could work on math and maybe one or two other things. For now our summer intensive Kentucky history is out. I had planned for us to visit all of the historical spots in town this month (most of them anyway…).

None of my plans have worked out this academic year. We have moved, suffered with pneumonia this winter and now Sparkle’s mystery illness. I’ve learned more about homeschooling and my children this year than in the past. Despite the year’s turbulence and even my own

cloud formation

cloud formation

spiritual lows, I feel God’s guiding hand on us. I do not know what the next six months will bring. Not a clue. I’m only starting to emerge from the spiritual funk that has kept me from church and talking with God. Honestly, I expected the events of this past week to knock me back into my doubts and darkness.

So far so good…and that seems kinda weird to me. I should be falling apart and totally freaking out. But right now I just accept and know that all moments pass through the hands of God. In acceptance I find rest and strength. And a little fear…

the new journal

the new journal

Many years ago I use to keep a journal. I would write poems and paint in my journal. Sometimes I would write out quotes or word phrases that I just needed to remember. All of my journals and art were thrown away by my mother many years ago. I cried and still haven’t forgiven her for throwing those away…and other things she thought I needed to grow out of. Today I started a new journal…I feel a personal renaissance is awakening. I used to be creative and I let others beat and ridicule that force out of me.

the rainbow

the rainbow

Maybe it is time to reclaim and make certain that my children fine their own creative force within… Also, for the month of June I will be posting a picture each day of grateful moments. I just need to remember right now.

Another huge change for me this week was dropping out of the TOS Review Crew. It was not an easy decision to make because I signed a contract with them and have an obligation to be part of the team. I have one review due next month and it will be my last. I also had another review due next month but since we hadn’t even started working on it I was taken off the list of

the boys learning to play pool

the boys learning to play pool

reviewers. The owner of the company allowed me to have access to his art curriculum anyway even though I will not be able to provide a review for him (thank you Mr. John Hofland of ArtAchieve).  So, if you happen to be in the market for an art curriculum then I encourage you to consider ArtAchieve. I am very touched by his generosity. I think a little art therapy is just what we may need to get through this summer of changes.

Linking up with: Weird unsocailaized Homeschoolers

Sunday Journal: Curtains and Car Cruise-in

Oldest mowing

Oldest mowing

We’ve been looking forward to this week for a few months. Co-op ended. I think the middle two did enjoy co-op somewhat but not enough to feel sad at its ending. I will miss my friend who labored in the nursery with me but hopefully we will find some opportunities to meet up. She’s adorable. I took the kids out for milkshakes afterward and we discussed the term. We spent a bit of time exploring the pros and cons of group learning and if it was something we’d ever like to try again. For now, the answer is no.

learning to make spoon bread

learning to make spoon bread

Middle Boy spent the night at a friend’s house this weekend for his first sleepover. He had a blast playing Minecraft and celebrating his friend’s birthday. While he was partying the rest of us drove to a nearby town for a classic car cruise-in. This cruise-in was nice because many of the downtown shops remained open. I found a lovely cuff bracelet with “be brave” stamped across it. Since “brave” is my word focus for the year I was thrilled over my little treasure. The cars were nice too. I saw a truck that I loved but forgot to take a picture.

curtains and decorated mantel

curtains and decorated mantel

Speaking of “brave”. The Brave Writer retreat is coming up soon and I still haven’t started my art project for it yet. I am kinda struggling on what it means “to be good to me” and how to artistically express the meaning…if I ever figure out exactly what that means.

Sparkles got her new and very simple sewing machine in this week. Everyone made Robin Hood hats for our upcoming

Littlest

Littlest

Medieval celebration. Middle Boy even insisted that Poetry Bunny get his own hat. I also ordered a sewing project book for Sparkles to work through to learn sewing techniques. She is looking forward to all of the projects and I will be learning right beside her. I am hoping that after we spend a year or two using this simple machine and learning with a couple of books she will know enough to take off on her own.

20160510_130815 (480x640)I’ve also told the boys to think about projects they would like to work on this year. Oldest thinks he would like to spend time learning to make stop-motion movies. We already have the equipment so that was easy for me to give the thumbs up. Middle Boy just has no clue on the sort of projects that he would like to work on…I jokingly suggested knitting and he said, “that sounds fun!”

I have no idea how to knit.

Friends came to visit this weekend so we worked on the house a bit. We put up pictures, cleared some of the clutter and hung 20160511_104029 (480x640)curtains. This place is actually starting to look like a home. My husband and I joked with each other that we should have company more often just so we could get everything unpacked and in order!

Tomorrow I am taking a planning day to get the homeschool in order for the next nine weeks and work on the next review for Memoria Press. Oldest will be finishing up his paper for Medieval history and we have one final discussion over Machiavelli and some of his thoughts on evil and power. Hopefully I’ll get the final post up on our Medieval studies for Beautiful Feet Books too. We’ve enjoyed these books so much and the kids are already looking forward to our upcoming American history studies through BFB.

025 (640x480)We enjoyed a lovely week…even if it was a bit too rainy and cool. There is only one picture of poetry tea time this week. I was engaged in a web conference with the Homeschool Alliance (discussing punctuation!?!…of all things) and the kids grew tired of waiting for it to end. So they performed poetry tea time on their own. I consider that a success. They set the table, read poetry to each other, saved a treat for me and enjoyed each other’s company. Kinda beautiful ya’know.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Sunday Journal: Spring’s Return, Retreats and Boots

watching the rain experiment

watching the rain experiment

The past week was rather lazy for us. Productive but lazy. I slept in every single day. We started school about an hour later than usual each day and even indulged in our read aloud time a bit longer too. The crew still managed to get plenty of work done despite our relaxed approach to education this week. We learned about rainfall in our science experiments. Littlest has started joining us for science time lately and is becoming quite the experiment

Oldest making paper

Oldest making paper

enthusiast. Oldest had a couple of projects from history to work on this weekend. We made a felt sheet from wool roving. We plan to make flowers with our sheet for a poetry tea time centerpiece. We also made paper from one of his used math workbooks. The paper is still drying but we plan to stitch these into a little book of some sort. We also have some wildflower seeds that we could make into paper sheets for planting…might make a nice gift for Grandma.

Oldest with gift from Josh of Beautiful Feet Books

Oldest with gift from Josh of Beautiful Feet Books

My remaining purchases from the convention arrived so I suppose I should start planning soon. Our current school year will wrap up in three or four weeks! We usually take a little break before rolling into our summer session but not this year. I will be going to a homeschool mom’s retreat in July and plan to let my crew take a break then…while I am away.

We might even take a good chunk of July off this year from formal work and begin in August. I haven’t decided yet. I am currently in

making felt

making felt

a homeschool coaching community and the month of July is spent developing a customized plan with veteran homeschoolers. So I may take complete advantage of this learning opportunity with women who have walked this path successfully and extend our light summer schedule throughout July.

I mentioned the retreat earlier…something that I am excited and nervous about attending (they mentioned line dancing!). All of us attending received a gift box with essential oils, teas, a lovely glass charm, a coaster and

lunch out today

lunch out today

two empty fabric squares. I am supposed to decorate on the cloth square what it means “to be good to myself”. I seriously thought about just dunking my cloth into red wine! Just for a lark I googled “painting with red wine” and did you know there really is such a thing?!?!?! Ha! Crazy…but now I am thinking about painting an image on my cloth with red wine. Of course…I still need to figure out what it means to “be good to me”. Hmm…now I have a Tina Turner song in my head…The organizers of the retreat are going to make everyone’s squares into a quilt. I’ve no idea what I am going to create…

pause in the hike

pause in the hike

Today we went for a lovely hike. The weather has been cool and rainy for a while but the past few days were delightful. The park was covered in beautiful wildflowers along the hiking path. I enjoyed our outing this morning. Beautiful spring this year…finally. Is it just me or has this past winter lasted an eternity? I spent the rest of the day working on the monstrous laundry pile and sweeping. I had planned to get my next review written this weekend but I did not… really lacking the motivation for this one.

Boots resting for the day

Boots resting for the day

Our kitty Boots endured an injury on one of her front legs. It looks like a puncture wound and I can only assume she encountered a snake. She laid around most of today but still gets up to eat and drink. We’ve all stopped to visit with her today and let her know how much we love her. Even Littlest who will usually stay far away from her has stopped to encourage her to feel better. While I was putting laundry away I heard him tell her “get better real soon…okay Bootsie or people will cry.” As pathetic as she has been all day she did decide to go outside this evening. She still will not put any weight on her swollen leg but feels well enough for some night-time exploring. Despite her injury she still gets up the stairs faster than I possibly ever can manage. Old knees are such a bother.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers