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Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Value of Free-Range Homeschooling

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There are so many different ways to homeschool.  There is a strict, regimented homeschool that covers each subject, follows a curriculum, has grades and tests.  There is complete unschooling with no curriculum, tests, or subjects but rather allowing the kids to live life and learn.  There is very religious-based homeschooling with lessons on the Bible, Koran, Torah, or other religious book in conjunction with all subjects.  There is very secular homeschooling with absolutely no references to a God or a Biblical timeline.

Then… (more…)

Back on the farm…

So, if you follow me at all, you know that I have been on blogging sabbatical.  Basically, I had to take time to get life in order before I could tell anyone about it.  That happens every now and then.  Here I am with my “Please don’t look at my life’s mess” look on my face.

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Bee Not Afraid

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A few weeks ago I posted a rough outline of my homestead plan. (You can find it here if you missed it.) This post received a little flack for my interest in beekeeping.  Mostly, the flack came from my oldest daughter who threatened to not come home for college breaks if I have bees.  I don’t know where her fear has come from.  I don’t remember her ever being stung when she was little.  We certainly didn’t live anywhere that bees were a real issue.  She’s at that great age where nothing I can say about bees is going to change her opinion of them.  But here we go.  I guess I’ll try to convince her and maybe in the meantime I’ll convince a few more people too.

To start we need to discuss the importance of bees to our food system. This is going to get a little technical so try not to tune out. Plants have both male (stamen) and female (pistil) parts. To reproduce (make more plants) the pistil has to be fertilized.  This happens when pollen is moved from the stamen to the top of the pistil which is called the stigma.  For stronger, healthier plants cross-pollination is ideal.  Cross-pollination happens when pollen from one plant is transferred to the stigma of another within the same plant breed (i.e. daisies for daisies).  Pollen can be transferred in a variety of ways: people, wind, and animals.  The highest instances of pollination transfer is by animals which is why creatures like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are so very important.  Animals capture the sticky pollen on their legs and bodies when they go to eat at a flower then drop pollen when they move to another flowering plant.

In essence, bees help more plants grow.  Plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, strawberries to list a few of the flowering plants that depend on pollination to produce vegetables and fruits.  But our bee population is in dire straits.  Unless you live under a rock you should be aware of this.  Honey bees are suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  CCD is where the worker bees die or disappear.  Without the worker bees no one is out gathering pollen or moving pollen.  There is no one to feed the other bees and no one to fertilize the plants.  There is a lot of study going into why CCD is happening.  Among leading possible explanations is the heavy use of pesticides on cropland.  While the pesticides themselves may not be exclusively the cause, the pesticides kill off the wildflowers that grow around the crop fields- wildflowers that the bees would use for food.  There is also speculation that GMO’s (genetically modified foods) may play a role in CCD although to date that has not been proven.

All homesteads should have bees.  In fact, all homes that can should. Not only is managed beekeeping good for plants and gardens, but it is good for the environment.  Plus, beekeeping is generally a minimal commitment.  You will have to do something about once a week during the peak season (April-July) and decreasingly less into and through the winter.

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Oh.  And did I mention the honey and all of the benefits of local honey?  If you suffer at all from seasonal allergies, local honey is a sure-fire way to minimize your problems.  And it just tastes good.

Are you convinced yet?  Ok.  I’ll address my daughter’s concerns. Getting stung.  If you swat at and/or kill a bee they release a pheromone to their family that lets the others know they are in danger and the family comes to help.  Remain calm and walk away.  Also, stay away from the hive by about 10 feet.  When bees leave the hive they fly out and immediately up so within 10 feet of the hive they are going up away from you.  After that they disperse to tend to their duties and are only looking for plants.

She’s probably still not convinced, but the reality is that fears of bees are unfounded.  Bees don’t sting unless provoked.  The exception to this are yellow jackets and those are stupid bastards set on hurting you.  Or maybe that’s just my experience.  It’s also important to note here yellow jackets are not technically bees, but rather are hornets.

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Now because being a beekeeper is something I’m interested in, this past weekend I took a beekeeping information seminar with my friend, Tony.  It was very, very basic, but provided us with some great starter information to launch research.

I was surprised at how inexpensive beekeeping really is.  You can get started for as little as $300- maybe less depending on how crafty you are or how diligently you search the internet.  Your basic start up needs include a hive, a beekeepers suit or jacket with helmet, and a smoker.  You can buy bees or you can catch a swarm by luring them to your hive using artificial pheromones.  Catching a swarm is good for getting your hive going quickly, but it can be difficult.

If you join your local Beekeepers Association- usually by county- you can often borrow a honey extractor although you can pick one up for about $200.  A membership will cost you, but like the one by me is a mere $15/year or $300 for a lifetime membership.  Not too shabby for the resources they can provide which besides the use of an extractor includes educational opportunities and a community.

When you’re starting out you probably want to start with more than one hive.  Three is a good number.  Chances are you’re going to lose a hive… or two.  So far, in the research I’ve done and people I’ve talked to, losing your first hive or two is pretty common.  If you start with more than one you have a better chance of keeping one that can be split into more as they are settled.

It’s important to note that hives will grow and decrease.  Bees are very efficient and keep colonies to populations they can manage and sustain.  Don’t rush out and get more bees just because your colony is a little light.

As far as managing your bees you really have to be careful about not over managing.  I was told by an experienced beekeeper that one of the biggest mistakes newbees (haha! see what I did there?) make is over managing.  You really shouldn’t mess with the bees much more than once per week.

The bees will fill the cones starting in the center and move their way outward.  They won’t usually do the very outside cones unless you rotate them in so that full cones are on the outside and the empty cones are inside.  Depending on the type of hive you get, bees tend to move upward and you also have to rotate the boxes.  Your hive should have ways to open it in stages so the bees inside the hive aren’t shocked by the sunlight coming in and swarm up.  This is where your smoker is used as well.  Smoking the bees disorients them as you open the hive up.

So far this is what I’ve learned about beekeeping.  I still have a lot to learn and no one can discredit the value of experience.  I have a friend who keeps bees and I’m hoping to maybe head out to her farm and get a little hands-on experience and maybe by next spring I’ll be ready.  In the meantime, I have a few more months to convince my oldest that bees aren’t as bad as her fear and I hope she can be open minded to it and appreciate the value of beekeeping.

A Cluck Cluck Here

We have had our baby chicks for about 5 weeks now.  We assume they were about 3 weeks old when we brought them home so that makes these cute little girls about 8 weeks old.  A lot has changed in 5 weeks.  They’ve grown a lot.  Their feathers have almost completely come in and they are beautiful.  And they are much bigger.  In fact, it’s getting difficult to call them little girls.

The make-shift brooding box has gone from a tub to something much bigger.  We added in roosting sticks and they seem to really like them.  They jump onto the roosters and have been known to jump out every now and then.  Because they kept getting out and running around our living room and because the weather has finally shown signs of spring we did move the girls out onto the screened-in porch.

To be honest, I’m really looking forward to reclaiming my house from being a farmyard so we decided to start integrating the girls into the chicken coop with the four ladies.  However, we can’t just put the girls out there and leave them, that’s not how chickens work. There’s a pecking order and those four ladies won’t be very ladylike. Most experts suggest keeping the new flock separate from the old flock but using something like mesh so that the older flock can see, hear, and smell the new.  This allows them to get used to each other with a safety net so the older ones don’t pick on the new.  When the chickens are working out their pecking order it can get bloody and even deadly.  Older hens can (and will) use their age, size, and experience to their advantage to keep the younger ones from getting access to food and water and even pecking at them if they try to breech the social order.

You can read more about integrating old and new flocks here at My Pet Chicken or a site I found particularly useful is Murray McMurray Hatchery where you can get all kinds of chicken information and even mail-order your supplies and baby chicks!

Last weekend was the first really warm day so that was the day we decided to let the girls have a go outside in the chicken pen.  We built a pen around the ladies’ coop but usually the ladies wander around the yard, so putting the girls in the pen allows them the ability to wander outside but keeps them safe from the ladies.

Of course, the first day they mostly stayed in one spot all clumped together.  It’s a big world and they probably had to take it all in! We’ve been putting them out in the pen every day that the weather has been nice since and then bringing them back into their brooder box in the evenings.  Getting them out to the pen is usually no big deal, but corralling them back into the brooder box can be quite an experience.  Yesterday I had to chase 3 of them around the pen for about 20 minutes. I’m sure it’s quite funny to watch.

For the most part the ladies haven’t given the girls much attention save for one incident when one of the ladies was up in the roosting box when we let the girls loose in the pen.  Boy was she surprised to find six little teeny boppers hanging out in and around her coop.  She let one poor little girl know who was boss and then wandered away to enjoy her freedom in the yard.

We will continue to introduce the girls to the big world and the ladies in this way for another couple of weeks until we can be sure the weather is going to stay warm.  Then we will let the girls free-range and make them their own coop next to the older ladies coop. Until the girls are full grown they really can’t be completely integrated with the older ladies.  In the meantime, I need to think of some names for my girls.  The Husband and Princess bogarted the naming process of our older ladies so I want to be sure to come up with some names that I like. I’m thinking… Terry-dactyl?  What do you think?

Ya Never Know What Might Show Up

This morning I woke up to strange sounds coming from just inside my front door.  It was early (for us) and I was still half asleep and couldn’t quite make out what I was hearing.  Of course I jumped up and out of the bed, ran to the top of the stairs, and then tried to make my sleep-deprived brain comprehend what I was seeing and hearing.

The husband was inside the front door with two black balls of fur. What?!  As I stumbled drowsily down the stairs, my brain drowning in all kinds of confusion, I realized there were two of the cutest puppies sitting by the front door.  Puppies!!!

Now, I must confess… I’m not exactly a dog person (shhh… don’t tell Maggie- our dog).  I mean, I love puppies like anyone else- they’re cute and cuddly and funny.  But beyond playing with a puppy or even grown up dog for a little while, I can live without a furry four-legged friend.

My sister is simply mad about dogs.  She has a whole house full that I lovingly refer to as my nieces and nephews.  But I guess that gene didn’t pass to me.

But who can resist this?  I mean, come on!  Don’t you remember my baby chicks?  I’m a total sucker for anything cute.  Of course we had to wonder, where did they come from?  Do they have a home?  When exactly did they show up?  The weather has been all kinds of crazy lately.  Were they stuck outside in the 20 degree chill last night?  And furthermore, what do we do with them?  We already know if we keep them too long we’ll become attached.  Heck, it’s been only a few hours and already I can’t imagine our house without them.

Back in about October we adopted Meow-ser, the crow… no, I’m totally kidding, the cat (obviously).  Meow-ser showed up and of course we started feeding her.  Then her friends showed up: Chocolate Chip, Snowflake, and Tabby.  The other three were more stand-off-ish, but we adopted Meow-ser.  She didn’t come in the house but the husband made her a little home on the front porch, started buying cat food and for Christmas Meow-ser got a comfy pet bed.  She’s pretty much ours now.

It’s funny.  Living out in the country, things do just show up. I mean, there’s the obvious creatures around- snakes, birds, etc.  But things show up that need your love and care.  Like cats.  And puppies.  The hard part is deciding what you can take care of and what you can’t.  I think you have to have a certain amount of allowance for adopting some of the new creatures.  I mean, to put out food for a stray cat or two really isn’t going to add that much to the budget.  But we can’t take in and care for every creature that shows up.  It’s costly.  Puppies need shots and to be fixed and eat a lot more than one stray cat.  Maybe we decide we can take these in, but what about the next ones?  And there will be more.

I guess ultimately, we just have to come to terms that every cute little thing that needs a home, doesn’t necessarily need our home. And we have to stay focused on taking care of the things we do have and especially the things that are contributing to our life (i.e. chickens).  Plus, we have a plan for some future life-contributing animals that we have to budget for.  If all of that budget is taken up because we’re suckers for cuteness and have far too big hearts then there won’t be anything left for the animals and plants that are going to hopefully make us more self-sustainable.  In the meantime, what’s two cute little puppies going to do? (Yes, I’m aware of the irony in that question.)  And this non-dog person is falling in love…

The Unexpected Lessons of a Pet

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This week we added a new member of our ever-growing family.  Meet Olaf, the guinea pig.

The Princess decided she wanted a pet of her very own.  Apparently chickens and a dog and some stray cats that we’ve adopted aren’t enough for her.  Originally, she wanted a rabbit which I liked because we already have plans to take on rabbits, but then I saw a post in a Mommy group I belong to about a guinea pig needing a new home and I thought it was a good opportunity to get Sophia a pet.  Plus, the Mommy that was Olaf’s original owner was giving away Olaf, his cage, bedding for the cage, food, a water thingy (technical term), and a gate and mat for out of the cage time.  All I had to do was go get it!  Excellent!

Our original plan was to drive to pick Olaf up on a Wednesday, but then Snowpocalypse 2015 started and the littles got sick and that plan went right out the window.  Fortunately, there was a break in the storm (you know, that calm before the snow storm) and we made the trek. The Princess, being her over-dramatic self, said on the way to get Olaf, “I just know Olaf will be the most perfect pet for me!  And I will love him with all of my heart!  Do you think he will love me at first sight?”  Picture this all with tears in her eyes and a flourish of her hands against her heart.

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It was in fact Love At First Sight.  Mostly for the Princess.  Olaf was pretty traumatized by it all.  We got him home and set up in his new environment.  He mostly seems happy although he doesn’t yet come out of his igloo but I expect him to be timid for another few weeks until he’s used to us.

I went through all of this because I saw an awesome learning opportunity in this experience. To begin, I made her do some research on taking care of a guinea pig.  She spent some time reading online about it, and we stopped by the library and checked out a book that she has read through as well.  Research is a great way to get some school in.  There’s library skills gained, online research skills gained, a lot of reading involved and because she has to practice what she read she has practiced reading comprehension.

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Once Olaf is home the lesson is more obvious:  responsibility.  The Princess is responsible for feeding Olaf, making sure he has fresh water, cleaning the cage (with help of course), and checking on Olaf throughout the day to make sure he is happy.

I fixed a board with cards for each responsibility so the Princess can keep track of when she did each thing.  Responsibility is not just about doing the things, but also about keeping track of them- what’s been done, when was it done, when does it need to be done again? Tracking goes a step further with pet ownership because not only does she have to track her own actions, but she also has to track his.  How much did he eat?  When did he eat?  When did he drink?  Did he like the apples, oranges, bread?  Did he play out of his cage today?  Yesterday?  As we adults know responsibility is not just singular, but multi-faceted.  She’s getting the opportunity to learn this.

Maybe you didn’t think about it, but pet ownership is also a lesson in nutrition.  Guinea pigs can’t eat chicken or M&M’s.  In her research the Princess had to learn about what a guinea pig could eat.  And every day we have to look up something else to see if it’s ok.  We always talk about nutrition and health and relate it back to our own health and nutrition.

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Most of this I expected, but there’s another component to pet ownership that I really didn’t even consider.  Love.  Owning a pet teaches love and affection; protection and concern.  The Princess is already very loving and affectionate in general, but owning Olaf gives her the opportunity to really put that in practice every day.  She sits by his cage and pets him while she’s watching TV.  She keeps him “safe” from her brother and sister.  She worries when she doesn’t have special treats to give him or if he hasn’t had enough water.  She checks on him before meals, before bed, as soon as she wakes up because she loves him.  She truly has shown unconditional love for this little creature.

All in all, pet ownership is such an awesome opportunity for so many lessons.  Sure, eventually we have to learn some lessons about loss and possibly the birds and the bees but even those are good lessons.  And overall everything she is learning with just this simple little animal has greater implications for her.  I hope that each of these lessons translates positively into her life and when I see her as an adult taking care of others, her own children, her father and I when we’re old- I hope that she does her research, is responsible, and loves.  Loves greatly.

The Homestead Set Up

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Today I made my first attempt at making homemade kettlecorn.  I’ve never made popcorn that wasn’t microwave popcorn although I seem to remember way back in my childhood one of those air popper things that my grandmother had.  (Remember?  I told you I was spoiled.)  Anyway, I usually just spend the $4 and buy the Orville Redenbacher Kettlecorn but this week I was wandering through the snacks aisle and I saw that jar of corn kernels sitting there on the shelf.  With one jar you can get 26 servings for $4 whereas with a box of the microwave stuff I was looking at a max of 10 servings for $4!

Ok, plus I’ve been a little frustrated with the princess who keeps making a bag of popcorn every time I go to put the littles down for a nap, then scarfs the whole thing down.  She’s become a crazed snack monster!  (Really, I have no idea where she gets it… (wipes cheese doodles from hands to continue typing.)

The idea of making the snacks a little less accessible might be good for all of us snack monsters.  As I was standing in the aisle I read the directions on the jar, then immediately used my iPhone to look up “How to make your own kettlecorn.”  The instructions seemed easy enough so I felt pretty confident when I popped that jar down in my buggy next to the cheese doodles and fruit snacks.

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Back to today.  I could share the gory details, but suffice it to say my attempt at kettlecorn was nothing short of disastrous.  Mmmm… Looks yummy doesn’t it?  Now I’m left with a scorched pan and that really bad burnt popcorn smell permeating the house.  But it got me to thinking.  I’m claiming to be a homesteader, right?  Ok… I’m claiming to try to be one.  What is a homesteader and what kind of homestead am I interested in?  I guess I’m asking, what is it that I want to do to set up my homestead?

Mostly, I have to follow my interests here.  I’m sure new things will pop up but I need to start with what I’m most interested in and go from there.  So, here I’m going to list my interests where homesteading is concerned.  These are the things I’m interested in doing.  They may turn out like my kettlecorn- a disaster- or like my burning passion to get a PhD- a dream never fully realized.  Either way, this can get me started right?

My List:

  1. Angora Rabbits
  2. Vegetable Garden
  3. Fruit Orchard
  4. Honeybees
  5. Wine making (and subsequent drinking)
  6. Sewing Children’s Clothes
  7. Crocheting/Knitting- especially blankets and socks
  8. Canning, Preserving, and Freezing foods

Here it is in all of its glory.  A list.  A list to help me start my journey.  I’m nervous about a few of these things.  A few I’ve already tried and just need to make a part of my normal schedule.  A few of these things I’m really excited about.  Hopefully, this is a list of topics you will eventually find here.  Laid out in all of my success (and failures).  I’m sure I will add to this list as I go along.  Then again, I may get stuck on that wine making and never make it to anything else.

Making Snowy Days Fun

Being a homeschooling mom means that snow days are just another day… with snow.  Of course, it also means that the kids are pretty much stuck in the house without being able to really expend some energy.  Yeah.  That part sucks.

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<— This is what I felt like that first week too.  Snowpocalypse 2015 hit about the same time our first real colds started.

The first week of being stuck at home went by in a sleep-deprived, snot-filled, teary haze.  It started with the Little Man who was grumpy and clingy, not to mention throwing up (remember my post on the excitement of snowbound farmhouse living. Then the Baby, who has sleep issues on a normal day, came down with it and her inability to breathe severely exacerbated her sleep issues. Plus, because of all of the cold and the house I had all 3 kids in bed with me so getting comfortable to sleep even when I could sleep was impossible… king sized bed or not.

Ok, fast forward to week two.  We’ve slept and subsequently woken up from our haze. The kids are feeling better but not well enough to take in public even if we could.  We have major cabin fever.  So, what do you do with 2 sick-but-getting-better kids who suddenly have pre-sick energy, 1 grumpy kid who has basically spent the last week playing Wii while Mommy and Daddy take care of the Littles, and snow keeping us all cooped up?  An obstacle course of course!

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I pulled out chairs, beanbags, foam blocks, and anything else I could think of and made a path through the playroom, into the kitchen, down the hall and back into the playroom.  We started with one course and kept changing things up as the kids went through trying new things to make it better.  I don’t always get a lot of chances to really direct a learning experience for the Little Man so I included a lot of opportunities for him to learn OVER, UNDER, AROUND, IN, OUT, and THROUGH. There was a lot of hopping, crawling, climbing, and jumping.

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What I really like about an obstacle course is that it doesn’t take any extra things.  No stash of craft supplies, ingredients, or ingenuity needed!  And the kids loved it!  I’m usually wordy, but in this case a picture is worth more than words here:

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We spread the pads apart and pushed them closer together for different challenges.  The Baby wanted to do everything big sister and brother did so we had to make sure she could.  The stool swiveled so sometimes they would sit and swivel and sometimes they would just climb over.  The jumping off the couch probably wasn’t a great idea, but it was fun so I overlooked what I was really teaching them.  The bucket became all kinds of different obstacles- climbing in and out, climbing over, climbing under.

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Of course, all of this crazy did make the house a mess!  But to be honest, I’d kinda taken the time off anyway. Well, maybe it was taking care of all of the sick kids and that sleep deprivation I was talking about earlier but I had really let the house go.  And honestly, we needed this fun escape from the housework.  The good news is, the housework was still there.  Whew.  I was really worried (i.e. hopeful) the mess would just disappear.  And don’t worry, we still got to play in the snow… eventually.   🙂

The Not-So Joys of Farmhouse Living

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I have a confession to make.  I didn’t really want to start this journey. This journey started with my husband dragging me kicking and screaming into it.  For him, the idea of off-grid living and being self-sufficient is enticing.  A big piece of land, build your own house, have a bunch of animals.  For me… I’m more of an urban farming type.  You know, big nice suburban house with an acre yard or so.  A garden that’s more fun than life-sustaining.  A few chickens, maybe.  Yeah. That’s totally me. (more…)

I Hate Homeschooling

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Hate is probably a strong word.  Dislike greatly.  But guess what… I think it gets better. First, let me tell you what brought me to the decision to homeschool in the first place.

My daughter, now 7 years old, was an advanced reader.  If you’re anything like her kindergarten teacher you’re shaking your head with that all knowing, “yes, yes everyone thinks their child is a genius” look about you.  But listen.   About 4 years ago I was on a kick determined to read some of the literary classics I missed in life. My first book was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  After 3 or 4 children’s books, I would lie in bed at night and read my book aloud as my little princess would drift off to sleep.  I mean, what 3 year old is interested in Great Expectations?  Apparently mine.  Not only would she stay awake and listen, but one night I realized she was actually reading along with me!  How did I know?  I had skipped a word and in her sweet little princess voice she pointed it out.  Later that same night I said the wrong word and she corrected me!  Yes. My 3 year old was reading Charles Dickens.  Now admittedly, we weren’t having deep and meaningful conversations about the book. She knew the words, not what the book was really about.  And not just the simple words either.  We’re not talking “cat” and “bat.”

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Ok.  Skip ahead 2 years.  It was time for her to start Kindergarten. She’d gone to a cute little half day preschool the year before and now it was time for school.  She was one of the youngest in her class having just turned 5 at the end of July, but she’s very tall and mostly mature and smart so I figured she would do just fine.  And she did.  Socially.  But the school was having to bring in 5th grade material for her.  Not only was she reading it, but she was comprehending it.

I knew public school wasn’t going to work for her.  The rest of her class was still learning their ABC’s.  What were my options?  We lived in Cary, NC and the school systems were excellent.  There were plenty of options including magnet schools, private schools, Montessori schools.  But the more I thought about it, the more I mulled it over, and with the encouragement of my dear sweet neighbor and friend, I kept coming back to homeschooling.

Homeschooling is a magical and wonderful idea.  All of the crafts and arts!  The field trips!  The hands-on learning!  The opportunities!  My overly creative mind went wild with the possibilities!  Six months after I discussed and decided with my husband, reality set in.  Homeschooling is hard.

First there is the daunting task of picking (or choosing to not pick) a curriculum.  Then there’s a schedule to make… and stick to.  Oh, and when I started my homeschooling journey let me also add that I was on bed rest with a complicated pregnancy, had a very active almost 2 year old son, and was trying to help my very reluctant teenage daughter get off to her first year of college 5 hours away from home.  Needless to say, starting our homeschool was fraught with distractions.

Despite the distraction I was determined to give it a try and we muddled through the first few months with a very relaxed attitude.  Mostly we filled our days with a little schoolwork and a lot of free time.  By December I knew we needed to buckle down and really get serious about this so I started insisting that we do work every day.  My dear sweet princess had other ideas.  She liked the free time a lot more than the school time.  We butt heads.  A lot.  I lost my temper daily.  I threatened to quit and take her back to “real school” every day, sometimes several times a day.  We got behind every day even though our school work should only have taken about an hour to finish.  By the end of the “school year” we were both spent.

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Then August came again.  We had put 2 months between the end of the school year and the beginning of the next.  I had given a lot more thought to how our school should be run, made a plan, changed my thinking, relaxed a little.  And the beginning of this school year started out beautifully.  We were staying on task and getting stuff done.  Our school day was now taking a total of 2 hours, but we were getting it done and not getting behind.

Until… fall came and with it came the sniffles.  My very active 2 year old boy became an insanely active 3 year old that didn’t listen or mind or want to participate.  My newborn baby that slept a lot became an active 1 year old that walked and wanted to be a part of things.  And my sweet princess just wanted to play.  By this past December I was starting to dislike school again.  We were getting behind again. We never got to do the fun stuff I planned.

So now we’re to the present.  I was talking with a dear sweet friend of mine who just began her homeschooling journey with her 2 sons this year and she was saying how she wanted to quit every day and how she just didn’t enjoy homeschooling.  She said she was going to quit after this year and maybe try again later.  This made me think about how I’ve been feeling lately.  Should I quit?  Maybe this just doesn’t work for my princess and me.  Maybe instead of helping her stay ahead I’m actually holding her back.  Maybe, while I fight to teach her, my other two sweet littles are suffering from lack of attention.  It’s hard to say I’m failing.  And then it hit me.  Sure, I don’t love homeschooling.  There aren’t those sweet beautiful moments with my kids where I look at them and think, “This is all worth it.”  I’m not that kind of mom.  But I am the kind of mom that realizes that while I don’t love it this year, I don’t hate it.  My desire to quit is only about once a week now instead of every day.  I have learned more this past year about my daughter and myself- how we learn, what we need to learn, and where we need to be going in this journey than I did last year or ever before.  I already know how to improve for next year.

I think that homeschooling gets better.  I think that each year I’m going to dislike it less and subsequently liking it more.  It’s already happening.  So I’m not failing.  Oh, but wait a minute, what about my sweet princess you ask?  Well, she never ever asks to go back to “real school.”  In fact, she says she loves homeschool and wants to do it until high school.  Is she learning?  Yes.  Last week my 2nd grader did her multiplication tables through 5’s, she can divide, she knows about the solar system and we read an entire book about Europe including the geography and government, she crocheted her sister a scarf for Christmas on her own by reading a pattern and teaching herself the afghan stitch and tunisian stitch, and she has yet to not make a perfect score on her spelling tests.  We’ve read 15 classic children’s books so far this school year and she has read numerous books on her own.  She still loves me and life and learning.  So yeah. I’d say she’s not failing either.  I think we’re actually succeeding at this homeschool thing and I’m actually looking forward to another year of it.  I just have to get through next week.  Ha!

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