Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Homeschooling Snapshot: Fall 2021

I spent the first several years of my life as a homeschooled student, and I know that a typical "homeschooling day" can look completely different from family to family. At one point when I was young, there was a family in our homeschool group who exhibited a fairly unstructured "unschooling" lifestyle, and another family in that same group who opted for a highly structured approach. However, no matter what a family's particular approach to homeschooling is, the flow of the day commonly is different than that of a full-day brick-and-mortar school. 

Watching a demonstration by a Mounted Color Guard. 
It was very cool when they began hacking the balloons with their swords!

Many times, I've thought about doing a "day in the life" post, but since that would involve taking pictures and making notes from a particular day, I decided that I would put together a general overview of what our weekdays typically look like. Even with unpredictable events and a couple of regular activities, we somehow manage to keep a fairly consistent schedule for Monday-Friday. Perhaps, when my kids are older and life gets busier, I can look back on this post to remember the gloriously peaceful days of our "quiet growing time." 

As of now, in Fall 2021, my kids are ages 5, 3, and 1. In Oklahoma, school is required for five-year-old children (and full-day kindergarten here is the norm), but there are no requirements for homeschooling. So, we really have the ability to pick and choose whatever we want to do right now. My approach to homeschooling is currently very laid-back, and I draw some of my inspiration from the Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, unschooling, and Charlotte Mason educational movements and philosophies. With all that in mind, here's a snapshot of our daily life! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Macaroni Musings

We need to talk about mac n’ cheese, because apparently I have some strong opinions.

When I was a young child, I would eagerly dump packets of orange powder into the steaming pot of macaroni noodles, excited to watch these noodles transform into the glorious concoction that is mac n’ cheese. I gobbled them up, savoring all of their fake-cheesy goodness. There was just nothing like it. Years later, when I got married, I decided that I would make mac n’ cheese for a meatless meal. However, rather than fly to those convenient boxes of my youth (which, while delicious, were not very filling) I decided to prepare homemade mac n’ cheese. I happily made a roux, cooked it into a sauce, added real cheese, poured it over noodles, and was filled with pride at my culinary pursuits. Those were the days when—as an excited newlywed—I plunged myself wholeheartedly into homemaking (in between college classes) and operated under the belief that “homemade is always best.” (Yes, those were the days when I even made homemade flour tortillas and, on occasion, homemade noodles)

Homemade mac n’ cheese was good, but it definitely lacked that delightful zest of the boxed variety. It wasn’t until a few years later when a coworker gave my husband the best recipe for mac n’ cheese; the ultimate recipe that we periodically prepare (and enjoy immensely).

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

An Open Book: September 2021 Reads

 Another month is here, so it's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk and chat about books! Without intending to, I wound up reading books that mostly aligned with the theme "the culture has some big problems." So, if you want upbeat lighthearted reading, move along. For those who want to stick around, let's dive in! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A slow homeschooling approach

I've read that homeschoolers generally begin each academic year with tremendous momentum, planners and detailed lists in hand (as someone who was homeschooled until seventh grade, I can personally attest to this). With gusto, they jump into concentrated study, co-ops, and organized activities. By the end of winter, their energy may slow as they push through core subjects. The knowledge they started the year out strong gives them hope; the recognition that at least we got a lot done in the beginning. 

And then there's me. 

I arrived at the year's beginning with fairly relaxed homeschooling plans, and even those have slowed dramatically. We don't have the excuse of a pregnancy, new baby, or  major move, either. We have absolutely no excuse for moving at a snail's pace, aside from one: we're really enjoying a slow education. 

My three-year-old was a little unnerved by the huge tortoise
that kept trying to climb out of its enclosure, but it was pretty cool to see. 

The term "slowschooling" popped in my head as I began this post, and lo and behold, plenty of other people have already created hashtags and articles about this topic. There's comfort here, in knowing that I'm not the only insane homeschooler who is trying to step away from the rat race of education that sweeps through countless communities. As my husband and I tell our sons all the time, whether they're running down the hall to the bathroom or sitting down to eat dinner, "it's not a race." 

I've been trying to ensure a quiet growing time for myself and my kids, and it's honestly incredibly refreshing and liberating. We are learning, pursuing virtue, having a ton of fun, and simply enjoying the gift of life together. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

An Open Book: August 2021 Reads

Happy September! It's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book to chat about what's been on my reading shelf lately. There's a few interesting historical pieces and some fiction (including a fun apocalypse novel). Let's dive in! 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Ms. Frizzle still has a lot to teach us

The moment the upbeat theme song begins, the nostalgia washes through  me, bringing joyful memories of childhood bliss and delight. The original 1990s show, The Magic School Bus, is truly a wondrous experience (let us refrain from discussing the debacle that is the remake). 

Brought on a desire need for a small break, my recent decision to bring a small dose of "screen time" (and this cherished television series) into our life has filled my children with joy. They eagerly sit, paging through a Magic School Bus book on the ocean. They excitedly watch an episode about ants, entranced by the story. Even though they become more invested in the characters than in the science, I know they're learning good things about the natural world and storytelling. It's a great show. Admittedly, sometimes once I've made my coffee and taken a breath (standing in a room by myself!), I'll sit with my kids for a moment, so that I can enjoy this beloved childhood show once again.  

I forgot just how amazing Ms. Frizzle is. 

The spunky schoolteacher is always ready to teach science, and her clothes speak volumes about the fabulous ways we can craft our wardrobes. Yet, she does so much more. Her zest for life is contagious, and I find myself thinking that, all these years later, I can still learn a lot from Ms. Frizzle. 

Monday, August 23, 2021

When I watched gorillas at the zoo

After lunch one day, I followed my kids into the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. The sight almost made me laugh out loud: the gorillas were displaying exactly what a typical afternoon in our home looks like-or, at least, what I want it to look like. 

As I gazed at these majestic creatures who were caught up in an afternoon snooze, I wondered if I could learn something from them about the importance of rest. 

Even while on display, the gorillas settled down to take a break. It's what they  needed, so it's what they did. While it would not work out well if we disregarded propriety and manners and flung ourselves down for naps anywhere we wanted, perhaps we can still notice how the gorillas rest, not caring that people were nearby, watching their every move. 

Would we be willing to do a similar thing? 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

An Open Book: July 2021 Reads

It's probably cliché to say this, but summer has been flying by! How is it August already?!?! Well, with the new month, it's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book to chat about what I read recently! 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Playing peek-a-boo

With relief, I dropped my bags onto the floor and collapsed into the black padded chair. Pulling my baby out of the car seat, I lifted her onto my lap and bounced her gently, glancing at the screen that noted our flight departure time. Imagining that, perhaps, I could put the baby on the ground to play so I could read a book, I was shaken out of my thoughts when I heard a voice: 


I glanced over my shoulder to see that, several seats away in the row behind us, a young man was sliding his hand away from his face as he looked at my baby. The edges of his eyes crinkled as he repeated the action: "Peek-a-boo!" My baby's head turned, her eyes riveted. 

From the stocking cap to the baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants, everything about this man appeared drab and unimpressive initially. Gray mask, gray hat, gray clothes, plain white shoes. Yet, from beneath that dreary exterior, his dark eyes sparkled. 


His eyes moving to meet mine, he asked: "Are you going to Chicago?"

"No, I'm going to Phoenix," I replied. "I thought this was the gate, but maybe I'm wrong." 


"I got out of jail today; I can't wait to see my kids." His eyes crinkled again.


Friday, July 9, 2021

To lie fallow in a frenetic culture

The moment hangs fresh with hope as I breathe in the scent of my piping hot cup of chai. The thrum, thrum, thrum of the washer beats steadily from the laundry room, the sole noise in the house where my children sleep in a miraculous, simultaneous nap. My fingers hover above the keyboard, I sip my tea, and I wait. Come, Holy Spirit, I pray, eager to see how the events of my life wind and twist together on the page. 

Nothing comes. 

Why is it that when I have a moment where I could potentially hammer out a thousand or so words on a manuscript, I sit and stare blankly? I punch on the keyboard, hesitantly typing out words, but they don't seem to fit. 

I long to grasp my thoughts on recent events, random musings, and experiences and type them up neatly, wrapped in a bow of clarity. Yet, as I ponder the wild wanderings of life, I find myself unable to do so as instantaneously as I would hope. I sit, frustrated, feeling like I've  wasted those precious, infrequent moments when "I could be productive." 

And then I read words of wisdom from educator Charlotte Mason, and though over a century has passed since she penned them, I feel as if she wrote specifically to me: 

"In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother's first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air." -Charlotte Mason, Home Education

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

An Open Book: June 2021 Reads

Another month has begun, so it's time to join in Carolyn Astfalk's linkup to talk about the books that have crossed my path lately! I fell into old habits of reading a lot of nonfiction, but I managed to read a couple fiction works, too. I also have a couple of longer books that I've been slowly working through, so maybe by the next book linkup those will be done! (but no guarantees haha!)