Saturday, April 19, 2014

Life in the Barn was Very Good

Life in the barn was very good- night and day, winter and summer, spring and fall, dull days and bright days. (E.B. White)

I found inspiration in the final pages of Charlotte's Web as we read it again this week. The passage continues . . . . It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything.
The first sentence made it onto the old fence board and sits in my city house for now to direct and color my perspective as we embark on this huge undertaking. I look forward to the day I can find the perfect spot for it in the barn. The passage makes me remember that the glory of life is in the ordinary, the day in and day out; that my attitude and perspective will determine what life in the tiny barn will be. And this morning Tom Petty reminded me, "there aint no easy way out." The barn maybe tiny and I may have to fight not to shut down at the thought of moving twice in a year, but yet, there is something special about a tiny barn filled with memories; about an acre with old oaks and boulders, about climbing children, and perhaps garrulous ducks and chattering chickens and wagging tails and wild doves.

It is also timely that there is currently somewhat of a small living spaces trend. At least in thought, people are quickened by the idea of boiling it all down to the essentials, bucking against materialism, only having and needing to clean and care for that which is truly loved or needed, being efficient and cost effective. I've been reading these blogs and googling the endless images of brilliant solutions for small living spaces. I want to only have those things I need or love. I want to be organized and focus on relationships and our fabulous outside space. I want to embrace the cozy, secure, intimate atmosphere, and the charm and natural character that the barn so easily fosters. But none of this comes naturally to my actual physical skills. And while an acre of trees and animals and nature is very well-suited to homeschooling, tripe-digit inside square footage does not mesh with my triple-digit book collection (that I do love). Yesterday the final line of advice on a blog I read was, "See it as an exciting challenge and not as an impending nightmare. It is what it is!"

It is a challenge. It is impending. "There is no easy way out;" isn't this true for everyone in one area or another at one time or another throughout life for anything that's actually of value? I will not go through life looking for the easy . . . . that's certainly not the thought pushing me towards homeschooling! I want the best. The barn property has become a family project and is hard work. The last few days I have loved watching my kids work hard and especially watching my oldest working alongside his dad. He is working hard, coming home exhausted, learning so much, and finding joy in seeing the progress. My natural self is overwhelmed and wants to dread. I have to make a concerted effort to focus my perspective rightly and meet this challenge with excitement. I thank God for technology and the motivation in Instagram-ing to record and easily see the fruits of the labor, for encouragement in the words of E.B. White read just when I needed to hear them, for Tom Petty showing up on my Pandora this morning, and for the numerous people who have chosen this path on purpose and shared advice and photos all over the Internet. I will choose to TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Here's what's shaping up for fall.

I will review 1B with Luke over the next few months & start him in the fall on 2A. I will begin Liv in 1A.

Lots of writing, drawing, & fun paper

I will likely order more of the 1-2-3 Draw themes. Great little articles on each ocean animal & the kids love following the drawing steps... Some fun & easy science. I thought Luke would be excited to read Stuart together, given his love for EB White's other novel, but for now he pleaded for another round of Charlotte.

Hopscotch, sight words, journals.

Multiplication DVD, math facts songs

Art & music - a start. Will also include plenty of listening. Luke is interested in learning the flute or violin, actually he wants to learn the whole orchestra but told me he'd start with one of those two. The violin teacher I talked said he's too young....would love to find a good Suzuki method teacher but that didn't happen.... The flute teacher recommended starting with a recorder.... So that's the plan.

History in the form of trains & planes & coloring. These modes of transportation will hopefully dovetail nicely with some of our historical fiction. . . Mazes because they love them!

We'll try out the Magic School bus science set.

A very small sampling of the books on the menu. Much of the menu I have in a box somewhere.

Some of it was just so tempting they couldn't wait! They're loving this fraction game!

History will start with historical fiction & student-interest topics. We will build on these topics through library books, research, field trips, map activities, videos, discussion, etc. We will also study history as related to holidays throughout the year. And finally, we will learn some US geography using puzzles & activities pictured.

Language Arts will be reading & writing & reading & writing & more reading & writing. Sight words displayed & referred to. Student independent reading & read alouds with discussion & some tie-in to story elements. Writing for real reasons- stories, articles, letters & editing/spelling/grammar all within the context of writing.

Math will be the only textbook. Although down the road, I'd love to incorporate & even focus on math classics, writings of
Mathematicians. For now I'm going with Singapore. In all I've seen, I find it to be simple & straightforward but at the same time focused very much on the concrete, contextual why's & not just on the "do this." Place value charts, base 10 cubes, manipulatives, real world measurement via cooking & working on a barn addition & more, fraction & other games, & memorization by song to be included.

Science will be student-interest, grandpa-interest, dad-interest based, nature walk inspired. Caterpillars & tadpoles are on our front porch right now. This month grandpa built a battery with Luke from lemons & dad panned for gold with him & taught him to identify the local minerals that showed up in the pan. Science ideas seem to spring up on their own left & right. We will run with these through research, books, videos, discussions, and hands-on projects. Visits to the beach and mountains will bring fresh ideas. Additional learning comes through the drawing ocean life book, reading highlights & zoo nooz magazines, trips To the zoo, etc. We will try out the Magic School Bus kit on germs. We will try various experiments from a few other books as needed to spur on the student, grandpa, & dad interest.

There will also be Bible, art, music, physical activity, life skills like safety & household chores...... But much of those seem to be so much a part of home anyways, I'm not sure how much will get categorized as homeSchooling in my mind.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

. . . . I already am crazy to even consider . . . .

This blog may soon go one of two ways. It may totally take-off, as in I actually start writing again. This would be born out of necessity as I strive and think through things and try to keep somewhat of a record to be referred back to down the road in hopes of doing more schooling-wise for my 3rd kid than what I've done baby book-wise (haven't even bought one :-/). Or, it may become absolutely obsolete, as in I don't even post the occasional pictures.

As my first grader has been studying increasingly real and academic topics, my brain has been exploding with ideas of how I want to teach those topics and methods or activities that would really inspire him. The how I would do it is nagging at my heart and refuses to stay swept under the rug. In theory, I should be able to use the beautiful private school 2 days a week, complete their prescribed lessons at home 3 days, and still be able to do all of my own wonderful, in-depth things those 3 days. In reality, while there may technically be time for both and we do do a little of my stuff, my brain simply is not going to take on that WORK & responsibility unless I do ALL. Plus, if I'm going to take on that work and responsibility, I might as well just do it and help our budget out a bit too. There are cons to this train of thought. I do love the heart of the beautiful private school and the other adults that are speaking into my kids' hearts those 2 days. I love most of their friendships. And, most importantly, I do LOVE dropping them off sometimes & not being with them 27-7 non-stop, and I do think of my own sanity. Those cons are significant and real. Yet, my heart will not let me ignore the tug to really go for this thing. After all, it was my dream over two years ago when I started considering kindergarten for my oldest. I now believe I must return to the dream (albeit, the dream-like quality has faded) and at least give it a shot. If the sanity and exhaustion issues can be negotiated, I do fully believe I can give my children the best possible education. I know, in theory anyways, what I want to do and how to do it and how to inspire these young prodigies to their ultimate potential.

An additional complication is that we are most likely moving into our 500 square foot barn and I am going crazy with my inspirations of turning home into classroom.... Ok, I already am crazy to even consider homeschooling with this move on the horizon. This will (hopefully) be a short-term issue, with a barn-addition also in the near future. Another separate but related issue is that I was looking for a small and preferably telecommute job to help out the budget; I suppose I would still be interested in the PERFECT job but the definition of perfect has been narrowed considerably and I have ceased actively looking, as I am more than aware that the undertaking I am considering would be a full-time job. If I am to take this on, it will not be to settle for mediocrity.

I have just finished re-reading A Thomas Jefferson Education for the umpteenth time and am currently reviewing my Charlotte Mason series, more for inspiration than information.

Come fall, it is likely I will be taking full charge of a kinder and second grader. When my heart and mind are fully at good hard work and engaged and alive, writing seems to be part of the equation; this blog will either be testament to such, or it will disappear. My emotions range from fear and doubt to excitement and a sense of destiny and fulfillment but there's enough of a real conviction mixed in to compel me forward.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Jan thru March Learning Snapshots

Reading & reading to little brother. :-)

Rock climbing. Thinking; thinking is important.


Battery from lemons

Photography :-)

Dinosaur dig in AZ

Marble tracks... Engineering, friction, weight experiments.

On his own, "I built a boat for a rock! I can make a rock float!"

More reading


Hopscotch & skip counting 

Intro to telling time

Harbors, navy, regional geography

Fire safety

Cards! Comparing numbers, counting, sorting

Regional geography


Drawing according directions

Life skills!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December Learning Snapshots

Luke completed this at school & I was moved by te fact that none of things he chose to draw are actually things

Holiday crafts

Hydraulics & daddy's work
Their first technology thing of their own... Lots of non-learning, but some learning- using technology, math facts, reading

Life skill: present wrapping & exercising crazy creativity
Engineering at its finest!

That's a wrap for 2013! Merry Christmas & happy 2014! In 2014, I'm looking forward to doing a little more writing in my blog posts.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November Learning Snapshots

Calendar, months, days, years, reading calendar
Workin hard! Even Linden wants to be in on the paper & pencil action 
Visit to the Natural History museum

Lists (Christmas lists)
Baking & lots of it this month. Fractions, measuring, following directions, oven safety.
Intro to oil painting video
Feeding rays.
Pilgrims & Indians