Tuesday, September 30, 2008


One event overshadows this week, overshadows the end of term and the start of holidays, overshadows family life, teaching kids, reading and learning...

The death of Emily Stauffer, the 14 yr old daughter to one of the families I've met through home school email groups.

A witness of faith and loss...

My prayers have centered around this family, please pray for them...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Gift in the Inbox

I really appreciate how the home school community works together, prays together, and encourages each other. Lately I have been the recipients of much encouragement and prayer.. this morning one of these on line friends dropped this blog header in my inbox.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Story of a Cherry Tree

The cherry tree in Fall -
it hasn't flowered yet
it lags about 2 weeks behind the one
on the other side of the lawn.

We have had one of those weekends - the on again off again debate on the removal of a cherry tree. Our neighbours asked if we would trim it because it was blocking their view. So we thought about it and after several weeks of debate (As well as the end of soccer and the beginning of Saturday mornings) we decided that the tree had already been damaged by the first attempt at pruning so we would cut it down.

I didn't really want to lose it from my view outside my bedroom window - but when you live by a lake you try not to stop your neighbors views. So the morning dawned and while we were waiting for the friend with the chainsaw to arrive, the neighbor rang suggesting that the wood would be of value to a wood-turner.

Later again as we were about to start cutting it down, over the fence was the neighbor and two wood-turners to discuss our tree and come up with a plan... um they suggested we wait...and let their mate and arborist take the tree out.

Not content the woodturners also wandered over for closer look and to discuss which other trees they might like us to cut down with my 11 yr old daughter - she wasn't impressed..nor was her Dad. (My Artist is now terrified of strangers on the property)

I decided about this time that the wood-turners, and our neighbor had gone too far... Hubby to protect my and my daughters sensibilities decided he would trim the tree - no outside "help" required. So since we no longer had a chainsaw it would get tidied up as best as he could manage with a pruning saw.

After a couple of hours effort hubby wandered over to see if we had taken enough off and to let them know it was as done as it would be. Hubby and the neighbour saw the new improved view -The neighbours could now see?

the lake - no,

the mountains - no ..

he could now see our other cherry tree. ... but it is a very nice cherry tree.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Enjoying Shakespeare

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs, but the highlight has to be my girl 11 coming to me admitting to enjoying her Shakespeare studies. She is reading through Lambs and narrating/documenting the plot and the characters. She thinks it hilarious that the Bard keeps having his characters dressing up as guys, or changing their names and appearance so that they are someone else.

She's getting good at putting together diagrams of her narrations to - word webs that connect the ideas and show who is affecting who in the story. That's an achievement since when we were dong these last year she was getting very confused.

I found this link of art works based on Shakespeare plays - we will explore it further together next time she is reading one.

My Engineer has been working well for Dad - he is writting much better narrations and through Dad's insistance working on his spelling. With Dad the thrid day's halfheartedness ended up in a lot of extra work for my dear son wich has to be a good thing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Atmosphere of School

Since we started schooling the kids my greatest struggle has been finding the balance between enjoying learning and trying to get it all done.

I look enviously at peoples blogs and e-group posts where they seem to be able to let go and allow the children to explore and discover. Where belief in the journey is enough to allow the kids freedom to learn without the pressure to finish the chapter or the page. In the last week I have looked at the exams on the Further In and Higher Up website and been amazed at what can be achieved under a pure Charlotte Mason regime, but I am not a Charlotte Mason home-school mum - I love her ideas for nature study artists and composers, poetry and literature. I love the idea of narration for history, bible and science. But I also want to tease things out a little further to discuss and enjoy.

I also want my kids to also have the discipline of Latin and Greek, logic and progym, to be comfortable with Maths. Classical Pure or Latin Centered tugs at my mind and says this way. Veritas' programs intrigue me I love the projects and the learning they pull together. At least I love some of them but the worksheets, tests and red tape leave me and the kids in overload.

My heart suggests that there is a way that allows it all, but maybe for me it can't be a strick this much by this time regime. I hate the daily need to nudge my kids back to their studies. Yet somehow we need to build in the discipline of learning.. so how. Again I am sure that it is a balance and a weaving together of our days - maybe I just need faith in the process.

Normally my solution to this is to re-schedule - constantly I have the feeling that the answer is not to plan or at least not to micro-plan to let go and let God. The only problem is I'm not so good at that.

Transferring over some old posts ....

I've wanted to be on one place for a while... and now as we re-mediate some of the excesses of trying to fit the kids into curriculum designed by others I figured it was a good time to move over the posts that outline this journey form trying to do it all to learning to rest in God with our home-school... we aren't there yet. Each day I want to plan out where we are going. To make sure we hit the target. Each time I do so I see the joy vanish..Am I just torn by modern ideas that childhood should be fun.. or brainwashed by the modern ideas of planning and striving so that we achieve our goals. umm...

Because this is a journey I have shared what is happening with my middle child and I. Sometimes we get caught up in acheiving and need to accept that we took a wrong path.

But underneath it all I realize that God has a plan and purpose that we need desperately to get on board with.

The posts are all in the April section it seemed the easiest and right place for them . I will keep adding them across as school this morning allows.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another day on...

Today was another good day. A bit of a crash day for me but still encouraging. My engineer is still absorbed in engines and technology - but he wanted to piggyback the younger ones Quia time and review his Latin words. Maybe there is hope ahead.

For the other two it was a good solid day, relaxed by the lack of stress, and mum not running from child to child.

I'm looking forward to seeing what he has done in his note books today. Tomorrow will be the real test - day three is normally when our plans come crashing down around us.

Day one - unschooling one

My engineer had his first unschooling day yesterday. Reporting ot Dad at the end of the day not me. So for the rest of us it was a chance to relax a little, work, and feel like we all achieved something.

My Artist with good intentions and a timer got through her first full day of school in weeks. She often gets bogged down in one or more subjects and like our middle son we have pulled our hair out iwth her in the past. Now she is focused and when not confusiated doing well. She re-started Homer A yesterday after much consideration and unsettledness. Well restarted with the promise of gleaning things from classical compositons (CC) so that we get the grammar application - CW and the variety of writing projects CC.

My Engineer spent most of the day reading and narrating in his room. He had to show Dad that he had worked at theend of the day - so he set himself a daily Aesop fable to narrate, did some work on drawing and writing about a combustion engine and an hydrolic ram. Drew an owl, and narrated from the book he was reading. And read from the history encyclopedia on early smelters. You can see why he has the nick name he has. Bit he also kept to the rules and was polite and well mannered. So all in all a promising start.

My Naturalist - simply got on whith what he had to do and blitzed through his day. I need to give him a ticklist since I rubbed the family one off the whiteboard and he likes to know that he has done what he needed to do. This is a very indenpendant boy. I need to work more with him today, but yesterday I had the freedom to tidy up several of the piles of bills and other stuff that has been building up.

For me - I got on top of life a little for the first time in weeks. Tidied up, sorted out the finances for the last couple of months, found the bills I need to pay this week. That sort of thing. I even managed an hour or so outside in the garden pulling weeds. I feel far more relaxed than I have in a while.

And for the icing on the cake spring is seriously in bloom... this is from last year but already this tree is halfway to this point.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I'm preparing to lead worship this morning at church - and feeling on shaky footing. Its been a messy rough week with my middle child. Lots of questions in this Mum's heart, am I doing the right thing, is it my sin or his sin or both that is leading to the damage in the relationship. Is it all just over-reaction.

When I wrote this I was also looking at music to play at the beginning of the service and across communion. I picked though the cd's that I had and started to listen to a collection called simply "Focus on the Prodigal". The songs speak of God's unconditional love. The welcoming back of the lost son, by a Father that loves and waits, whether he returns or not. Track after track spoke into the situation that I faced with my son, and more so my relationship with God, tarnished with the sin aof a relationship badly handled, and the shame of it not being right.

The CD has become a central part of my quiet times this week ans I read and re-read the story of the prodigal in Luke, a reminder to worship first and formost in my time with God. A doorway to confession, recongnition and healing through Jesus Christ my Lord.

The boys won

My soccer boys - at least the younger one and his Dad coach won their grade yesterday - and they deserved it. They are a neat bunch of kids. They worked hard. They played clean games. They gave it their best shot, and they learnt how to work as a team. The only thing that phased them the whole season were the kids who played the man and not the ball. Even then they had the skill to keep the ball moving towards the goal by teamwork.

When we get the trophy I'll add a picture to this post.

The score for this Catholic School /Christian school combination in the final 3-0.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pointe Shoes & Soccer Finals

Its an odd combination, but this week has had the excitement of both.

For my daughter a lead role in the year end production for her ballet class and she's excited - even if she had no knowledge of the character from her reading of the original story. Her character is a Disney modification, and will stretch her ballet work. Shes normally a very energetic dancer - who lacks the precision. and exactness of many ballerinas - in this case shes a very floaty gentle fish...

But we also went out and got her Pointe shoes to start intermediate foundation, lots of learning what's required, lots of excitement.

For my youngest son, and Dad the coach - we have the excitement of seeing a really neat team of 8 year olds make the final of their grade. They have all worked hard and had lots of fun. So we are hoping for a win on Sat. so far they haven't lost a game - but finals and semi finals ars we learned last week are different.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another battle - a new ending

Slowly we are moving forward again. slowly.

My boy has turned from the defiant challenging I don't get it lad of last week to a listening, trying to be good. At least the discussions are promising. We aren't always succeeding, but he is trying.

He did manage to do his morning work today with a good attitude, and in a timely way. He wanted it to be right.

This afternoon the effort got to be a little much, and we had to work hard to not fall back into old habits.

I want to be hopeful, that soon we will round that corner where schoolwork becomes something that we do, grow in and occasionally enjoy without all the fuss.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Still Three At Home

After much discussion and soul searching,

After the encouragement of many ladies who have walked this path before me,

After apologies and prayer,

And with the realization that if it takes him until 18 to decide that he needs an education it is OK, after all he is a bright boy, he just doesn't realize it or see the need to learn.
My engineer gets to stay at home rather than heading off to school with Dad on Monday.

While we hope that he has come to see the light I need to be prepared for the idea that he possibly hasn't. I need to prepare myself for the likely slow down on Monday. He has however been lovely this weekend, helping, finding opportunities to do right and letting me know where he is at in healthy terms.

For my part which is probably the most important - I need to believe in him even if he chooses not to work. To believe that when it matters to him he will be able to catch up.

  • I need to remember to only work on one thing at a time, and prayerfully. I always want to fix everything in one clean sweep. ( I used to be an accountant - with numbers anything is fixable - every ledger is balance-able kids simply aren't they don't sit in neat columns. ) I probably need to repeat that ...

  • I need to free myself from trying to prove to everyone else that homeschooling him is a better option - proving that we can succeed isn't healthy for anyone here - it only adds more pressure. Pressure neither of us cope well with. (Dad's on board with this too - he's come a long way in not rocking the boat when we don't do things like his school does.)

  • I need to remember that there are hundreds of Home school scope and sequences out there - none of which are designed to fit my three.

  • I need to also remember that for me and the kids why we do something is as important as doing it. We are why people, its why I struggle so much with the writing curriculum's I choose - I simply don't understand the why in a way that makes it hang together.

  • I need to remember to surrender - to rest and let go of my need to control, plan and worry.

So now to prepare or not prepare for the week ahead.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting to the Heart of it

It seems that all to often I find my self changing curriculum because what we are dong has gotten to hard - or more specifically because the resistance has reached a point where I don't know what to do next.

For my daughter we seem to have reached the end of that phase she has enough of the basics down that learning languages has become fun, maths is slowly getting there and her reading is at a standard where she can enjoy at least some of what I ask of her.

My youngest simply gets on with it, he does what he does does it well and unless he is tired or confused can almost school on auto pilot.

My middle son greets each day with a pile of excuses and frowns. Nothing is good with school for him, and slowly over time he wears down my best intentions to come along side and take it at his pace. Eventually we find ourselves in a cycle where neither of us can give up the fight - the battle to be accepted as mum vs. an independent and persistent spirit. Once I get angry he will work, work well acheive and feel good about himself, but that doesn't change the inborn part that simply doesn't want to do school or dishes, or put away his things.

We have fallen into a cycle, a largely destructive one in which I try and be loving and gentle and he patiently waits for it to go bad again... which after a couple of hours of passive resistance it generally does. The cycle leaves both of us guilty, angry, hurt and depressed. It doesn't do much for the rest of the family either.

So where to find the energy to give it another go ... or is it time to send him off to school let someone else have a try, enjoy the honeymoon as he responds to someone else.

Out loving him seems to be beyond me, I cannot seem to love him enough to be content that he says "no" to school and to helping out with the rest of the family. Giving in and letting him have his own way seems unproductive. Given the choice to unschool and read science books all day receives a "I promise to be a good boy now just let me do school like the others." That is quickly forgotten the next time I ask him to come to the table. Prayer helps but slowly. Sometimes it seems like the relationship is beyond repair, sometimes at least till the day has a new start it is.

I usually end up wishing we could start over... go back to the beginning and take all that we have learnt with us.

A Round of Goodnights

Last night as I made my way through the goodnight routine, two of my kids settled into bed with new books from the library,

My youngest - simply wanted to be in control, and to have cuddles, he's still feeling the effects of the last cold/flu that swept through the house and is tired.

My Engineer is dreaming of making a hydrogen driven go-cart with his mates - or one mate. He is so excited! I'm just not sure that the reality of the situation and his talents at this time live up to his dreams. OK in truth I see a petrol motor filled with water and? but his efforts in planning and designing are amazing. Time to bring the physics teacher Dad on board I think.

My Artist brought home a book on drawing pets. She was really excited to see how to draw cats and dogs and fish. I think she had made a couple of drawings already in the 3 hours since we had gotten home. It adds another dimension to the theory of Artistic pursuits.

There wasn't much sleep for the first part of the night but lots and lots of dreaming.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another Ballet Exam Down


My daughter just finished her grade 5 Royal Academy ballet exam, which is probably the most stressful thing in her life ...

For three years she has been working hard to regain a mark over 75 in order to get a distinction. Most of her class is at this level, and for most of the year she holds her own in the class - until exam day. Then she comes unstuck. This year she is hopeful, we talked a little, I joked that I would give her a fun size chocolate bar for every mark under (the little bite size ones), we went skiing and kept busy... and since none of that made much difference we asked the ladies on our home-school support email group to pray.

She had a good exam. At least she remembers more of this exam than other years, and could tell me what she was working on and thinking about, and where she knows she went wrong.

So maybe this year, and if not we're proud of her pre-exam standard anyway.

This is from one of her art lessons last year...it seemed fitting