Public Presentations

Our county Public Presentation competitions were cancelled, so my kids got to do theirs via zoom. This was a whole new challenge, an opportunity to grow and learn.  Proud of these too.
 Audra did "Blueberry Muffins".  Adrian did "Agriculture with Adrian"

Homeschool "Science"

Know what one of the best part of homeschooling is? That you don't have to plan every lesson. So often, the experience can become the teacher. We didn't cancel school the other day, we went instead to the most appropriate classroom for the subject. We brought along our current book. They discovered, explored and asked questions.  We talked about water flow, gravity and what sorts of creatures live in these waters.  We talked about vernal pools. I didn't plan any of this.  I didn't initiate any of these discussions.  I just brought them and we talked. As an added bonus, they got exercise and the fresh air was fantastic for our mental health.  They will remember this experience and what they learned a lot longer than any worksheet.  


Spring feels

 Basil, tomatoes, kale sprouting so far. We're thrilled thinking green. Thankful we had what we needed to plant before this pandemic.

Below is our 'spring' table. I forced that forsythia, incubator is full, propagating elderberries and first round of seeds started.
 Eggs have been plentiful.  Each morning, we collect our breakfast before frying them up.  I've also been digging a lot of parsnips and notice I can start grabbing some fresh green onions out there. Cilantro is already popping up in the garden. Strawberries wintered well. Garlic is up. Thankful for this garden fresh produce.
 She is my best egg collector.
 I haven't been to the store since March 7th.  I went down to the basement to see what we had. Thankful for some more homemade bread, a roast from my dad, diced tomatoes from my last year garden, green beans I grew last year, roasted tomato sauce x2, pear sauce from the fall and grape concentrate that I will make into grape juice. Almost all of this was homegrown.  Thankful for the effort I put in last year.
 Add that to my misfit produce ( , code COOKWME-LH0QGS), we're doing pretty well.

 We've been having a lot of rice and beans and beans and rice too, from my emergency stocked pantry. I'm the most appreciative I have ever been for our meals lately. (Below rice, topped with saucy beans, green onions, tortilla chips with mushrooms and carrots. Yes, my kids definitely eat this and love it).
My husband still has to work, but the rest of us are staying home, home, home. Eat well, get fresh air and stay healthy, friends.

Cracked Rock

If you are a kid and have been to our house in the last couple years, chances are you have been to cracked rock. 

They have been spending hours at cracked rock. There's quite the bridge crossing the vernal pool now , a seesaw they built, a clothesline a picnic area and more.  Audra has been weaving pine needles out there and Adrian has been carving sticks.  Adrian said "Mama, can we do this stay at home thing every year?"  We are hanging in there, hope you are too.

Mama Made: Truck Shirt

I made things for his sisters, only fitting that I'd make something for him too.  He's 9 1/2 and still loves to wear the things I make him. I tell all my kids that wearing a handmade is like carrying a hug from mama with you.  These uncertain times call for a little extra love from mama.

 My oldest and youngest, both in their mama mades.  (I made Adrian's shirt and pants. I made Anna-Kate's dress).

Mama Made: Shirt/dress

Want to know what's super annoying?  When you have parents who have rules such as 'Leggings are not pants' and 'No, you may not wear leggings places unless you have a shirt long enough to cover your behind'. 'But mom, EVERYONE else wears leggings as pants with short shirts.  Besides, I don't have any t-shirts that are long enough.'  And now? Now she has a dress/shirt that is long enough.  She picked out the fabric.  She loves it and wants more. I think the look is pretty darn adorable.

Mama Made: Easter Dress

We won't be going anywhere for Easter, but I did a little 'therapy' for me and finished an Easter dress for Anna-Kate. One thing that I have learned is making it a couple sizes too big so it lasts for at least a couple years.  I've never made pockets like this before, still learning. She loves it.

Homeschool "PE"

Know how our homeschool day started?  Kids were outside in the snow for two hours. Well, 2/3 of the kids. The third says, "I not going out there."

It's your homeschool. You make the rules.  You're the boss.  Read the situation and make choices best for your family.  You can do this.

My other homeschool posts (click to read):
Homeschooling, a wee bit of advice
School at home #2
#3 Choosing activities
#4 Schedules
# 5 Lookback
#6 History


 Thankful for local milk delivery.  Thankful for Misfits Organic produce delivery. Plus our own eggs, homemade bread, fresha parsnips I dug just today and our freezer and canned stores from last summer. This combo keeps us from the stores.  I aim for once a month, but may try to stretch that a bit longer.
(We feel spoiled getting a pomelo delivered! We all fought over it. If you want to order from misfits and get a discount, here's your code: COOKWME-LH0QGS at ).
We are staying home, home, home.  Unfortunately my husband still has to work.  When and if we do contract this, we are doing everything we possibly can to not be the ones who will share it.  Praying for this thing to plateau very very very soon.

School at Home #6 History

This evening my kids were discussing their favorite biographies. We always have a biography chapter book in our family read aloud pile. Adrian's favorites (age 9) have been John Deere, Henry Ford and Babe Ruth. Audra's three favorites (age 7) have been Beatrix Potter, William Penn and Martha Washington. My favorites have been Frederic Remington, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The best part of the whole thing is they think biographies are awesome, which means they think history is awesome. They know so much about these people and I didn't even have to teach them. The book did the heavy lifting, I got to snuggle up and enjoy.
Sometimes the best teachings don't involve any planning at all. That's the power of opening a good book.
Past homeschooling Posts
My other homeschool posts (click to read):
Homeschooling, a wee bit of advice
School at home #2
#3 Choosing activities
#4 Schedules

# 5 Lookback

School at Home #5, The lookback

Thinking of you "new to homeschool" parents.  Day five of homeschooling is next up. Friday.  Which means you did it. A week of homeschooling. One week ago, who would have imagined we'd be here? Was it easy?  Probably not.  Were you exhausted and stressed?  Likely.  Do you get nervous thinking of the weeks ahead? Possibly.

I'm going to take a minute to encourage you to stop those thoughts.  Our minds have a tendency to race, worry, stress about the future and we have a tendency to feel frustration, guilt, defeat about the past.  It's so easy for our minds to be rushing and not at rest.

I'm going to encourage you to take a pause at some point in your day and reflect on the good.  Even a very terrible day likely has at least an ounce of good. All this fretting will quickly empty our cup. It's important to fill it back up again with those celebrations, as they help us remember what really matters.

The first bit of good is you are still there and you accomplished what felt impossible. I've been a homeschooling mom for years now and cannot imagine how stressful a shift to homeschooling must be all of a sudden. But you did it.

The other gems, what are they from your day/week?

I'll give you mine.

First part of the day, I was greeted by my Audra (age 7 1/2) with a thank you. She said she knows I'm a had working mama and she is thankful for me.
We enjoyed a long walk together before the rain was really bad and threw a bunch of rocks in the stream.
Kids cooperated and stayed focused for their individual work.
Our book time ended with "More, more, please more!" before lunch.
No time outs today.
I kept (mostly) calm.
Homemade turkey soup rfor lunch.
We played "Uno" as a family after lunch.  Anna-Kate (our little clown, pictured above, age 2 1/2) was on my husband's "team". They never forgot to say "Uno" as every card they played, she affirmed "NUNO" each time.
I snuck in a wee bit of sewing.
Adrian (age 9 1/2) said at the last part of the day today "Mama, today was a really good homeschooling day."

Were there hard moments int here? Absolutely.  But those I will not think about again, I'll just think of the good.  Somedays there will be a list of good like I was able to above. Somedays it might just be "We had food for lunch".  Point is, look for the good.

What was the good in your day today? Write it down. Share it with a friend. Share it with me. Let's not forget to celebrate the joy within our day, today and everyday.

My other homeschool posts:
Homeschooling, a wee bit of advice
School at home #2
#3 Choosing activities
#4 Schedules

School at home #4: Schedules

All of you new homeschoolers are on my heart lately.  I wanted to write a little bit today about schedules.  I see a lot of schedules floating around in which every hour of typical school day is scheduled with parent led activities for a homeschool day. Basically, these types of homeschool days have 9am-3pm scheduled.

Now, if you are finding this is working beautifully for your family, carry on!  You have found your groove and are off to great things!

However, if you are one of those who is overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day, it's you who I want to talk to today.

Can I let you in on a secret?  Schooling at home does not need to mirror a typical public school day. I've been homeschooling for many years and I have tried a bit of everything for schedule. I can tell you this, to schedule our homeschool with an every hour activity between 9-3 would lead to homeschool burnout for me and likely frustrations coming from my kids. If you are feeling the same, you are not alone.

Can I let you in on another secret? The majority of homeschooling families I know do not schedule their homeschool day like a public school day.  What works for a school with a class full of children isn't necessarily what works best for families.

The great thing about homeschooling is you can do what works for you. You can do what works for your children. You can do what works for your family.  It's flexible.  Flexibility is a beautiful thing.

I've always been a working and homeschooling mom, which has required that flexibility that I talk about. I've done a bit of everything. I started with early morning lessons, break while I work, followed up with afternoon and evening lessons. I've done a 3 day a week schedule year round with a couple vacations thrown in to get enough days in the early years. I then reduced my work hours and did a 4 day a week homeschool schedule, year round. Saturdays have regularly been homeschool days and we always do some homeschool days in the summer (the very best time for hands on science is summer!).  Long and short of it, school does not need to be a 9-3 if you don't want it to be.

Furthermore, when you are doing your lessons with just a couple of students, things can be accomplished faster. You may not need the entire day for focused formal learning.

Currently, my work is shut down and I am home with my children full time for the near future. What will our days look like?  They will look like our favorite way to do school.  What is our favorite way to do school?  Here's the schedule that we all love best. (Times are approximate, we don't go by the clock).

Morning chores and outside. 
Breakfast with our audiobook.
9ish the start of our morning lessons.  Each child grabs the pile of what they know they ought to do and they get to work. I grab my pile of readings I will lead them in. We spend about 20 minutes per subject. The kids know they must focus and give full attention, for they know that full attention and accomplishing their pile means an afternoon to look forward to.
12ish Lunch
12:30 until dinner: Outside (I aim for minimum of 3 hours a day outside) and any of the following: Nature Walks, Special projects led by me, Personal hobbies, Play. (Field trips when we're not isolating ourselves).
5:30 dinner followed by chores
7:00-8:30 family read alouds, followed by quiet independent reading.

While of course at the end of the day I am sometimes tired, but not the type of tired that I am feeling burnt out and dread the next day.  This schedule to us is sustainable, which is what we need to maintain sanity and homeschool. Our schedule may or may not work for you.  That's okay. The trick is to find what works for YOUR family. It's okay to create what works for you.

My other homeschool posts:
Homeschooling, a wee bit of advice
School at home #2
#3 Choosing activities

School at home #3

There are SO many great ideas, activities, video clips, tutorials, etc. out there right now. New ones every moment!  I find myself enthusiastic about so many of them! In the middle of my bookmarking and list making, I started to feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of ideas.  Even though there are a million good things to do online, I don't need to do them all. Today, I shut the computer. We made muffins. We read many books. We took a long walk in the misty rain. We did some seed starting. The internet is grand, but it's not the most important.  When I look back on our day today, the parts we connected best of all had nothing to do with screens. Although I admire and encourage those who organize and plan great activities, I don't need to pressure myself to keep up.  Sometimes just being available for non scripted dialogue leads to the best lessons. 

Homeschooling, a wee bit of advice
School at home #2

School from Home #2

To my friends who just survived their first day of schooling at home (day one click here), I bring you another day of encouragement. This is largely spurred by Emails and questions I'm receiving (If you have something specific you'd like me to address, I'll try my best to answer in another blog post).  It's also the same encouragement I give myself, for although I have been homeschooling for years, I am still a work in progress.  Perhaps it will be useful to you.

1) You did it.
You made it through. You didn't think you could, but you did it.  Was it perfect? Probably not.  And that's okay. But you did the best you could, and because of that, feel accomplished.  It is NOT easy to dive into this with limited time to think/prepare.  Feel encouraged, you did it.

2) Day 2 will be better.
No day is flawless.  Day 2 is a new chance.  Now you know what went well and what didn't.  What will you change about tomorrow? Now that you know what was tricky, you have a chance to improve.  These struggles are opportunities for connecting with your kids. This is where character development happens.  First thing day two, talk with them about what happened day one. Get a plan together on how today will be different from yesterday. Write it down.  Commit to working together to make day two different. I once had a professor say "If you do nothing between one negative behavior episode and the next behavior episode, how can those negative behaviors be expected to change?" These stumbles are great opportunities to help them grow their character.

3) Do everyday.
Read everyday.  Read to them, regardless of age.
Go outside everyday.  Go out there with them.
When you get stuck, it's okay to stop and change it up. Reading something you mutually enjoy or going outside together are great resets. We are currently enjoying the Poppy and Ragweed series as our family read aloud. On our nature walk today we followed a porcupine until he climbed up a tree.  We kept our dog at bay, thankfully.  What are you reading together? Did you have any memorable experiences outside today?

4)You are capable.
You made it through today, you have a fresh start day two. What a gift it is to have this time with your students. They will remember that you showed up and gave it your best.  You are more than capable. Onward to day two, I am cheering for you! 

(Day one click here)

Home Education, a wee bit of advice

Tomorrow many of my friends will find themselves thrusted into a role they didn't sign up for as their kids' home educator. I'm certainly not an expert homeschooler, but have some experience having homeschooled my kids for all their schooling thus far (my oldest is just about finished with third grade).

Here's a bit of advice from me. It's the same sort of self talk I give myself when needed. Perhaps you may find it useful.

1) You are enough. 
I know you may feel like you're not adequately planned or prepared or ready. You may not feel equipped. You may feel frustrated that you did not sign up for this. Put all those worries aside.  You have what it takes to do a good job because you love these kids so much that you are willing to give it your best. You are enough.

2) Atmosphere is important.
It matters less how much you accomplish in a day, it matters more how you accomplish it.  Think less about the end goal. Think more about the process of discovering, enjoying and connecting with one another.  If not everything gets done today, that's okay. There is tomorrow. Keeping the atmosphere of the home peaceful is a more important than accomplishing the list.

3) Do everyday.
Read everyday.  Read to the them, regardless of their age.
Go outside everyday.  Explore with them, regardless of their age. 
Consistently doing these two things helps establish a connection with one another and joy in learning. It often makes it more likely that other things on the list will be checked off with greater ease as well.

4) Give yourself grace.
This whole homeschooling thing is new to everyone. It may go well at some moments and others it may not. One step at a time. Give yourself grace.  These weeks of schooling at home will be forever memorable to your children. Keep working at making this experience a time together you will both forever treasure. You can do this!

Wool sweaters

I love this little girl. She's sporting a wool sweater that my friend made for her (Thank you, Cricket!).
 Same pattern, next size up, from the one she made her as a tiny baby.
For a change, my oldest and youngest posing for a pic.


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