Friday, October 17, 2014

What It Looks Like Returning To Homeschool

"Don't you have so much extra time now that your kids are in school?"
This was asked several times during that first month our kids attended the church's school two years ago.  I think most of the people asking hoped to see relief from my apparent weariness.  After all, it seemed logical that relinquishing the homeschool would free up some time, right?  But the answer was always a laugh and a "no."

First of all, we were in the middle of moving our family from one place to another almost monthly.  Our home was expanding and we had incredible opportunity to live in other people's homes, free of charge, for almost an entire year.  With a family of seven and trying to keep everything clean and unbroken, it was also quite stressful.  The baby and (for the first year before going into kindergarten) preschooler missed their siblings so much while they were in school.  Family dynamics completely changed, and I think it was roughest on the younger two who were left behind.  It might have only been two kids at home all day instead of five, but their needs didn't change.

A couple of the children thrived academically in school.  One who needed a little positive peer pressure really excelled in new areas and it was incredible to see.  One loved trying out a traditional school for the first time and did well.  Another just didn't thrive in the school setting.  The noise and atmosphere of a classroom was too much and concentrating on anything was almost impossible.  Our younger one joined the school in kindergarten last year and absolutely loved her class, but I got several calls throughout the year saying that she was crying because she missed me.  I watched our family dynamics change.  Our kids had become so used to being with only their peers all day, that they almost forgot how to get along with their siblings.  We had never encountered that problem so consistently before.  By the end of that second school year, all four children asked to go back to homeschooling.  I found my heart warming back up to the idea, too.  We were finally moved into our home and the dust settled enough to where it felt feasible.

Goofing off while reading history lessons to little sisters.

While they finished up their year at school, I spent every spare minute preparing for their return to homeschool.  I was desperate to do it well.  The last year that we homeschooled wasn't excellent.  We had outgrown our home and I was in a swirl of postpartum depression.  I wanted the return home to be beautiful.  After lots of research, we finally chose to invest in Sonlight curriculum.  I was drawn to it in years past, but didn't have the funds for it at the time.  Indulging in it this year, and signing the children up for sports and dance, was still less expensive than the school tuition we had been paying.  The lack of text books and abundance of good literature chosen for the Sonlight curriculum really caught my eye.  Their Instructor's Guides are also a massive perk.  Lesson plans are already laid out and even scripted, and all I have to do is follow them.

Being eight weeks into the school year, I'm familiar enough with the program to know how to tailor it to our family.  I have swapped out some of the older kids' readers for books on how to raise our new Anatolian Shepherd puppy.  The older two and younger two are broken up into two different "cores", (convenience and togetherness all in one!) and each child has their own individual math and handwriting/spelling lessons for their specific level.  

Learning how some seeds (green beans, in this case) hitch rides to find more space for new plants.
We also get the week's lessons done in four days to allow us a "Homestead Day" on Fridays.  This started as an idea and ended up turing into a self-made curriculum.  We all look forward to Homestead Day, and I can't wait to share more about it very soon.

Over the last eight weeks, I've watched sibling relationships naturally re-bond.  Our child who struggled in school for two years has quickly caught back up to grade level.  Those of us who hated school and struggled to retain lessons because of the boring textbooks are now reading ahead because the books are so interesting, and in turn attaining more of what's being read.  The wild card toddler is actually so much more peaceful.  I think just being around his siblings more, and watching them work on their lessons, has encouraged him to find things to engage in during school time.  There's no denying that homeschooling requires a lot.  I am definitely excited for bed at the end of the day, but seeing the fruit in just the few weeks we've returned to homeschool has made it so worthwhile.

The sun is almost up.  My morning chores need to get underway and it's almost time to start this week's edition of Homestead Day.  Happy weekend to you all, and so many blessings!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jumping Back In: Big News!


After a whopping six months of silence, where does one start?  Moving back to our home after it grew (and after being gypsies for almost a year), took more energy out of me than I thought it would.  I think when we all let down from survival mode, the settling in had a bit of a falling-apart affect on our bodies and emotions after muscling through for so long.  As soon as life felt more put into order, school began.  Homeschool.  Homeschool done well, with four students and a toddler took every bit of energy out of me for the first seven weeks.  The choice to return home felt good and right, and I don't regret it for a second, but I am happy to finally be in a routine and have more headspace for other areas of life.  I'm excited about sharing more about this pocket of life in another entry, coming very soon.

Also?  There's this puppy.  Heidi joined our family only a couple of weeks ago.  Heidi is big, and will only get so much bigger.  We all love her dearly.  Desiring to raise this very trainable puppy properly, she has become a homeschool project for our ten and twelve-year-olds.  They will be taking her to obedience school soon, and now spend their reading hour each day immersed in one of four books they agreed to consume if we were to bring Heidi home.  They are learning so much and in turn, present their knew knowledge to the rest of us.  I can't recommend these books enough, if ever you find yourselves in the market for a puppy -- particularly a Livestock Protection Dog (LPD):

  • The Art of Raising A Puppy: A must-have if getting any kind of puppy is in your future (or even thinking about getting one), written by the legendary Monks of New Skeet.
  • How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend: The Classic Training Manual for Dog Owners: Also written be the aforementioned monks, this book carries you through training beyond the puppy days.
  • Livestock Protection Dogs: Selection, Care, and Training: If you have some land and livestock (or are dreaming about the day that you do), this is a very inspirationally helpful read.
  • Sheep Dogs of Anatolia: This isn't a training manual, but more of a history on our specific, rare breed that dates back thousands of years to ancient Anatolia (now Turkey).  This book gave new perspective to the world outside our western culture (it was written by a Turk and only recently translated to english) and was brought to life through interacting with our puppy and realizing her heritage.

Then there's this YouTube situation.  Why start a channel?  Well, I explain it in this video.  It's exciting.  It feels awkward.  But it also feels right.

A cook book?  Why not?  It's in the very beginning planning phase, and I have a title and release-date dream churning in my head, but need to materialize it a bit more before sharing any further for now.

So much love to you all, and I can't wait to hear from you and re-establish connection.  I'm incredibly thankful for this creative outlet and have felt a massive void while it was neglected over this past half-year.  There's lots of excitement stirring in me for things to come, and I very much look forward to sharing them with you.  Blessings!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Crispy Lemon Ginger Waffles ~ A Paleo Recipe

It's true, it's been months since any new posts.  I haven't stopped thinking about sharing life here in this space, but in order to keep priorities in alignment (family first!), the blog has suffered.  Often times, good choices are hard choices.  I miss being here and hope to pick up a regular writing routine so very soon (after we have established our home school for the upcoming year!  More on that soon).  In the meantime, I give you this recipe as a peace offering.  This is no ordinary waffle.  Crispy, airy, flavorful yet not overwhelming...  This is our current favorite waffle of all time, and it just happens to be paleo.  I will be doubling this recipe in the future because they were inhaled before everyone was satisfied.  I might just make another batch for lunch, who knows?  All I know is that I can't stop thinking about them.

Crispy Lemon Ginger Waffles (Paleo)
Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 15 minutes to cook entire batch; makes 8 waffles
  1. Preheat waffle iron and grease with ghee if needed.
  2. Place all ingredients in high-speed blender like the Vita-Mix and blend thoroughly.  Open lid and give it a stir, looking for any chunks, blend again if any chunks are found.  Batter is ready when completely smooth.
  3. Pour about 1/2 cup batter into waffle iron to make each waffle.  Serve hot.  Optional garnishes are maple syrup, pear slices, and a sprinkling of organic cinnamon.


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