Sunday, September 16, 2018

Yes, you can!

This started out as a FB post and got a little out of control, so I copied/pasted it over here onto my little used blog page.

For those new to homeschooling and those that are not so new. 

When looking at a curriculum or even a co-op/homeschool group, if you are being told that there is only one way to homeschool your child (there are lots of options and they are all good, viable options!) - walk away. 

If someone says, if you don't use a certain curriculum/method , then your children won't get a good education (or won't be successful, won't get into college, won't be well-rounded, whatever) - walk away. 

Or, if you don't come to that group's events, do all the paid classes (or free ones, for that matter), then you are failing your children, your family, the neighbor's cat, or some other such nonsense - walk away. 

Y'all, a Charlotte Mason education is the best fit for my family. I joke around that it is the best method out there, but it really is joking (mostly..well, it's the best of the best....hahahahaa - if you know me, you know I am being silly here, heehee!).

Charlotte Mason said that children are born persons, not little buckets to be filled, sponges to sop things up with (sponges are for messes, not my children's brains), clay to be molded, whatever. Therefore, things will vary with each child, family, month.

Ultimately, what works for your family or even specifically for one child is the very best method for YOUR family. And you know what - you might change methods, curriculum, groups, clothing sizes, favorite coffee, etc. a few of times during your homeschooling career. It is okay. Your homeschool is YOUR homeschool. Your homeschool doesn't have to look like the public school, not like the Lepoziskingiski's (fake name, sorry if that is your cousin's name, haha), not like mine (Hills Academy - not made up, totally real), not like that really popular blogger lady's (she is some kind of pioneer), you don't have to have expensive classes (you can if you want, but not a requirement and your children will be fabulous without them! Mine have done well thus far. Oh, and you can't count those group hours towards your 875 in WI), you don't have to have a co-op with someone else teaching things to your children for your child to have a good education - I promise that you CAN teach them those things, but I totally get that it is FUN to do things with others sometimes - all those things are extras and you don't have to do them. Well, maybe square dancing - you need a group for square dancing. Otherwise, it just looks strange. 

Don't feel roped into a curriculum because bread-baking-Betty uses it and her family seems fabulous (they imploded last Tuesday because the yeast was dead and they tried lots of baking soda). If you buy something or join a group/enrichment/community/horse-betting class (statistics?) and it isn't working well for you and your children - drop it. Walk away from the group. Sell the curriculum (yeah, you are going to take a loss - look up the sunk cost fallacy - you will feel better). Find something else. Go to the library. Email me or call me. I will hold your hand. I might even meet you for coffee or at the park if you are close enough and I have access to the car! 

Moms and Dads - you ARE amazing. You are not stupid. You don't need a teaching degree or someone with one for your children to have a fantastic education. It is nice to back into when you hit a wall, but certainly not a requirement (and I have a dear friend who has a passion for a subject that she did NOT go to college for, but I would likely pit her against  degree'd people in that field because she has a passion for the subject, so she has "majored" in it outside of the uni classroom.

Another dear friend of mine has heard from many people that "well, we are academically minded, so we could *never* do homeschooling like you." She took that to mean that they think she is stupid and uneducated. Well, you know what? I have seen what she does in her homeschool. She doesn't do school in a box (she walked away from that after she figured out that she AND her children hated it about 10 years ago). She puts in the extra effort and has customized it to her children's abilities, desires, what she wants them to learn. I am over half way through this homeschooling life and here I am, learning from a fellow veteran. It gave ME the courage to do what I needed to do for one of my children. He needed a different path. We are still following the principles of CM, but I am doing the curriculum my, HIS way. Meeting my child's needs, wants, desires, but while still providing him an amazing, well-rounded, education (while being budget friendly at the same time, haha). 

Don't let anyone make you think you cannot do this thing called homeschooling. YOU can and I am here to cheer you on, hold your hand, drink your coffee, & if you would like, provide some positive peer pressure, haha!

If you feel you need to change, do it now. Don't wait. In just a few years, they are off to college, becoming managers at work, getting engaged (ahhhh - I can't even believe I am going to be a MIL!)... Time marches on. Yes, you CAN homeschool and it doesn't have to look like anything else out there. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The loss of a child during pregnancy

I am really just storing this here. The web page for this no longer exists on the original site and while I can retrieve it on the site, I don't want to lose the words. They were such comfort to me when I was really struggling during the years we lost 3 of our children during pregnancy.

It came from a site called Stepping Stones and was a part of Bethany Christian Services.

Don't tell me, "You can have another baby." How do you know? Besides, I want this baby.

Don't tell me, "at least it happened before it was born. It's not like you knew the baby." I did know my baby. For the short time s/he was with me, I loved my baby with all my heart. I had hopes and dreams for this baby. I had names picked out and a theme for the nursery. I knew my baby was going to be a very special person.

Don't tell me, "It's just one of those things." It was not just "one of those things" from my viewpoint. Miscarriage has had a devastating effect on my life, and making it sound as though it was an unimportant event does not lessen the impact.

Don't tell me, "It's common," or "It happens to a lot of women." This happened to me, and all I want is to have my baby back.

Don't tell me "It was just a blob of tissue." In my heart and in God's eyes, I know I was carrying a living being inside me from the moment s/he was conceived. Please don't trivialize my beliefs or that precious life.

Don't tell me, "You should be over it by now." Even though the physical effects may have subsided, I am still hurting emotionally. My child has died, and it takes much longer than a week or two to recover from that pain.

Don't tell me, "You'll get over it." The miscarriage was the death of my child. I will never "get over it." The pain and grief will eventually lessen, but I will always wonder what my child would have been like. Every should-have-been birthday, and every anniversary of the miscarriage will be a reminder.

Don't tell me, "You should get pregnant again as soon as possible. That'll help." Help what? I need time to grieve the baby I have lost. I can't even begin to think about getting pregnant again at this time.

Don't tell me, "It won't happen again. The next time will be fine." Again, how do you know? My second pregnancy ended in miscarriage also, even after doctors said there was no reason it wouldn't be successful the second time around.

Do listen to me when I want, or need, to talk about what I am going through.

Do be sensitive to the fact that I probably won't want to hear about your pregnant friend/neighbor/cousin/daughter, or about your new grandchildren or nieces and nephews for a while.

Do give me time to grieve. Some days I may need your shoulder to cry on after everyone else thinks I should be "okay" by now.

Do understand that there are "milestone days," such as the expected due date of the time I should have felt the first kick, when I will be feeling the loss as deeply as when the miscarriage occurred. I will need your support then.

Do know that I am like any other person who has experienced the death of a loved one. I may not feel like talking when you come for a visit, or I may do things you may think inappropriate - such as clean the house - just to have something to do so I don't have to think. Be patient with me.

Do show care to others who have experienced miscarriage. Treat their loss with the same respect and love you would give if they were suffering the death of any other loved one.

Do let those of us who are going through - or have gone through - a miscarriage know that we are not alone. Send a note or make a phone call to let us know you're thinking of us, especially on those difficult "milestone days." Sometimes we feel that we're the only ones who remember, and it's nice to know that our baby was important to you too.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Grade Levels/Norms - do they really matter? or Why Homeschooling Rocks & Understood Betsy!

I talk about the book Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher quite often with regard to "grade levels" and homeschool (or even public school) parents freaking out because their child is ahead/behind/average/advanced/etc. When Elizabeth/Betsy goes from the city school to the country school, her school experience changes. When I read this book to my oldest child, I had that final epiphany (and I had been researching homeschooling since she was 2) - THIS is what homeschooling is all about! We aren't trying to recreate school grades at home. We don't have hundreds of students in our homeschools. We typically have WAY smaller classrooms (I know there are some of you who have lots more than the 4 I have, lol). We have the freedom to NOT worry about all that silliness that is required by tax dollar use accountability and management of the education of huge numbers of children!! The book Understood Betsy can be found in your library or read for free online (you can even get a version for your Kindle reader).

The whole book is good (for boys and girls both), but Chapter 5 is what I am referring to:

"Betsy sighed, took out her third-grade reader, and went with the other two up to the battered old bench near the teacher's desk. She knew all about reading lessons and she hated them, although she loved to read. But reading lessons...! You sat with your book open at some reading that you could do with your eyes shut, it was so easy, and you waited and waited and waited while your classmates slowly stumbled along, reading aloud a sentence or two apiece, until your turn came to stand up and read your sentence or two, which by that time sounded just like nonsense because you'd read it over and over so many times to yourself before your chance came. And often you didn't even have a chance to do that, because the teacher didn't have time to get around to you at all, and you closed your book and put it back in your desk without having opened your mouth. Reading was one thing Elizabeth Ann had learned to do very well indeed, but she had learned it all by herself at home from much reading to herself. Aunt Frances had kept her well supplied with children's books from the nearest public library. She often read three a week—very different, that, from a sentence or two once or twice a week."

.....{I am skipping parts - you can read the whole chapter online!}....

"Well," said the teacher, "there's no sense in your reading along in the third reader. After this you'll recite out of the seventh reader with Frank and Harry and Stashie."

Elizabeth Ann could not believe her ears. To be "jumped" four grades in that casual way! It wasn't possible! She at once thought, however, of something that would prevent it entirely, and while Ellen was reading her page in a slow, careful little voice, Elizabeth Ann was feeling miserably that she must explain to the teacher why she couldn't read with the seventh-grade children. Oh, how she wished she could! When they stood up to go back to their seats she hesitated, hung her head, and looked very unhappy. "Did you want to say something to me?" asked the teacher, pausing with a bit of chalk in her hand.

The little girl went up to her desk and said, what she knew it was her duty to confess: "I can't be allowed to read in the seventh reader. I don't write a bit well, and I never get the mental number-work right. I couldn't do ANYthing with seventh-grade arithmetic!"

The teacher looked a little blank and said: "I didn't say anything about your number-work! I don't know anything about it! You haven't recited yet."

......{I am skipping parts - you can read the whole chapter online!}....

However, just then her class in arithmetic was called, so that she had no more time to be puzzled. She came forward with Ralph and Ellen again, very low in her mind. She hated arithmetic with all her might, and she really didn't understand a thing about it! By long experience she had learned to read her teachers' faces very accurately, and she guessed by their expression whether the answer she gave was the right one. And that was the only way she could tell. You never heard of any other child who did that, did you?

......{I am skipping parts again - but really, read the whole chapter online!}....

After the lesson the teacher said, smiling, "Well, Betsy, you were right about your arithmetic. I guess you'd better recite with Eliza for a while. She's doing second-grade work. I shouldn't be surprised if, after a good review with her, you'd be able to go on with the third-grade work."

Elizabeth Ann fell back on the bench with her mouth open. She felt really dizzy. What crazy things the teacher said! She felt as though she was being pulled limb from limb.

"What's the matter?" asked the teacher, seeing her bewildered fact.

"Why—why," said Elizabeth Ann, "I don't know what I am at all. If I'm second-grade arithmetic and seventh-grade reading and third-grade spelling, what grade am I?"

The teacher laughed at the turn of her phrase. "you aren't any grade at all, no matter where you are in school. You're just yourself, aren't you? What difference does it make what grade you're in! And what's the use of your reading little baby things too easy for you just because you don't know your multiplication table?

Tina Hollenbeck of The Homeschool Resource Roadmap made this wonderful picture after one of the many discussions on this topic and my talking about the book. It sums it all up perfectly!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Some of our favorite Christmas books

Someone was asking me what books that we liked to read during the lead up time to Christmas Day. Rather than try to put them up on a Facebook post, I thought I would list them here since we have so many in our personal library -- let alone the ones we get from the library!

So, here goes:

Favorite books from our personal library:

The First Christmas retold by Lynne Bradbury

A Pussycat's Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown

Corduroy's Christmas by B.G. Hennessey (this is a Lift-the-Flap book)

The First Christmas retold by Laura Ring (An ABC Book)

Tosca's Christmas - story by Matthew Sturgis, pictures by Anne Mortimer

The Donkey's Christmas Song by Nancy Tafuri

I Spy Christmas by Jean Marzollo and photos by Walter Wick

The Night before Christmas or a Visit of St. Nicholas

One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham (I LOVE this story!!)

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

I Want a Dog for Christmas, CHarlie Brown! by CHarles M. Schulz

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

The Christmas Story by Carol Heyer (I LOVE the illustrations for this one - they draw me in!!)

The Chiropractor Who Saved Christmas by Diane Miller (don't ask, lol!)

Child of the Promise by Stormie O'Martian (15 short chapter, illustrations are beautiful, could be used for part of Advent readings or simply spread out over the 2 weeks before Christmas

The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier (love the illustrations)

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Hilary Knight (Yes, the song...the pictures are terribly fun - watch out for those racoons!!)

The Animals' Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum (Little Golden Book)

Tell Me About Christmas by Mar Alice Jones

Babushka by Dawn Casey

Friday, June 16, 2017

Honesty, White Lies, Acting a Lie, Being Honest with Yourself

Keep it honest, people. Those little white lies are still lies, but you painted them to look pretty (sort of like putting lipstick on a pig). Acting a lie IS still a lie as well.

What do I mean by acting a lie? Well, an short little story that was in my child's CLE reader years ago has stuck with me. The gist of it was that a farmer was packing up peaches in baskets at the family fruit stand and putting them for sale. He was an honest man and the fruits were the same all the way through. However, there was another fruit farmer that would put lovely, perfect peaches on top of the container, but bruised ones would be on the bottom - deceiving his customers into thinking they were getting all perfect ones until they got home and found out the truth. The 1st farmer explained to his son how this was "acting" a lie (instead of a verbal lie).

How may of us "act a lie"? How often? I suspect we all do it far more often than we think and without even realizing it. White lies? All.the.time. - many people think a white lie is okay since you are trying to not hurt someones feelings (let's be honest, you can be more creative and figure out something to say that isn't a lie....or suck it up, be brave, & gently tell the truth). But, we tell ourselves lies as well...and often, we tell them to ourselves often enough that we come to believe them, tell others the same lie and expect them to believe them, then get upset/angry when others are brave enough to correct us. Sometimes, those that have lied to themselves decide to turn it on others and instead of owning up to their lie and accepting the correction (I get it - it is hard to do!), they call the other persons character into question, accuse them of creating disharmony by not going along with the little white lie, and then, even worse, maligning that persons character by telling everyone who will listen just how awful and wrong that person is for not believing the lie, not going along with the lie, & (heaven forbid) telling them that what they were believing was a lie.

Think long and hard before you decide to disparage others over something that you know down deep is a fact, as a Christian, we should be VERY thoughtful about it and if we think that person who has told us we are wrong about something, we should do due diligence and search out the truth in fact and in our hearts (are we just mad because we were called on the carpet about it and did not like what we heard). Then, if you are still struggling, go to that person directly and try to understand what the problem is. There is a biblical model for conflict resolution.  There is actually more there that goes with my thoughts on this one, but that leads to another ugly topic that none of us like to think we do (and without thinking as well).

Pray about it. Ask God to speak truth to you. Ask for clarification and understanding. You might be surprised what God has to say to might not like it, but He won't deceive you. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Because it is coming up to that time of year....

In more recent years, there is an awful lot of websites out there that try to indicate that Christmas and Resurrection Sunday (aka Easter) are a result of Christians trying to take over Pagan holidays and that Christ could not possibly have been born on December 25th. Ultimately, none of us in this day and age will know the truth of it until we get to Heaven (and at that point, it really won't be important any longer, will it?!).

I have read many webpages and well researched articles that discuss both sides. From the ones trying to tell me that really, we Christians tried to steal from Saturnalia for Christmas and from Ishtar for Resurrection Sunday (by using the title Easter for the day), I always come away with a bit of an ugly taste in my mouth - because it feels an awful lot like those people are very angry with Christians for daring to impose our celebration of Christ's birth and Resurrection around their pagan holidays that are more in line with celebrations of death, fertility, etc.

I am willing to consider those bits of information, but I am also willing to seriously consider information for the other side as well.

Towards that direction, here are a few "pro-Christmas/December 25th" articles for your consideration as a counter balance to all of the Saturnalia stuff out there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Homeschooling in the Summer - the night time skies

I would love to greatly encourage everyone to take advantage of the warm weather (well, those of you who are on my side of the planet, lol) and learn some more about the night time skies.

About 12 years ago, I was just a regular weather junkie. But one night, after I got home late from work, the sky came alive. The northern lights had shown up to dance in the very southern WI sky - truly, a very unusual event. I now know that while they are fairly common in the top, northern regions of the state, they are not so common in the Milwaukee area! The lights this night were green and there bars of green lights dancing across the sky and the sky itself was green - I have never seen anything like it before, nor since. I am envious of those of you who live so much further north than I do! I was hooked on learning about the "weather" in outer space that caused this amazing phenomenon. Solar flares, solar winds, coronal holes, name it, I wanted to know about it.

I have passed this interest on to my children and while I had not yet taken the younger two children to one of our local astronomical societies public viewing nights, they came to me a couple of weeks ago at the campground we were at over Independence Day weekend. My younger two (ages 5 & 7) are now hooked. The group that meets nearly every clear Saturday night out at this state park pointed out constellations that I have pointed out to them before, but they used a very cool laser pointer. They also had their telescopes set up and showed the small crowd Saturn, a star cluster, & Jupiter as well. Another man was taking a digital photograph through his telescope, but was thrilled to open up his laptop computer and show everyone some of the amazing photos he had taken with his personal telescope. My little ones are now mostly on the hook and I will pull them in the rest of the way with the Perseid meteor shower!

We entered the Perseid meteor shower window last week (and yes, we have seen some, even from our light polluted back yard) - the peak is around Aug 12, but the window is from July 13-Aug 23, I believe - meaning, while the heaviest fall will be around the 12th, there will still be plenty to see in the surrounding days! It is usually a fabulous shower and that peak window is just amazing! It looks like this years may be much better than usual according to this article on For best viewing, get away from the city lights if you can, but we have seen some amazing fireballs from this shower from our not so very dark back yard when we lived in the city (the red one was fantastic!). Get a blanket or two, some bug spray, & be in an open, but darkish area. Sit back and watch the show!

Check and see if there is an astronomical society/group in your area - quite often, they have public viewing nights and you can see the planets, star clusters, etc. through their scopes (they LOVE to share their love of all that is outer space!). Don't feel defeated by thinking you cannot see anything from the city. Even in the most light polluted cities, you CAN usually see the planets through some pretty average scopes!

This post is incomplete - I need to get ready for a CM book night, but I want to publish this anyway - there are some amazing resources out there for learning about the night time skies and I want to share them with you. I will finish this up later tonight or tomorrow!

Some of my favorite book resources:

Sign & Seasons

Some of my favorite space sites:
Space Weather caught my attention over a decade ago and it has not let go! Whether it is solar flares (we are getting ready to see some doozies!), meteor showers, planets in the sky, has been a wonderful resource for the beginner!

Has the sun been active and they say we might have northern lights? See where they are at the NOAA's Space Prediction Center (30 Min forecast page is Here)!