Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's been a while!

That's a bit of an understatement.  I was feeling a bit uninspired to write for the last few years...What has changed you ask?  SO MUCH!  I'll tell you all about it over the next several posts. Today, I want to talk home school!  I don't claim to have all the answers, I make a lot of mistakes and I freely admit that.  I have been contacted by five friends in the last month or so asking me about home schooling, trying to decide if it might be right for their families.  I thought, perhaps this blog could come back to life as a way to share my thought with those friends and you.  Here are my rules....yes I have rules...

1. Please feel free to ask any questions publicly or privately, I will do my best to answer them.
2. I am only me.  I have opinions and ideas, they are not, nor do they have to be yours. 
3.  If you don't agree with something that I say or do...don't bother telling me.  If you do agree...I would love to hear it!  That is just the truth. 
4. Don't correct or even point out...or even notice my spelling/grammar errors...I apologize.

Ok, here we go!  The best advice I ever got, or I guess read, is that "No one loves my children more than me and so I will never do wrong by them".  It was a pretty profound moment for me.  One of the hardest parts of homeschooling is trusting myself.  As parents we are constantly second guessing our decisions and feeling guilty about things. I believe guilt is the hardest part of being a mom.  This is compounded when you are going against the norm.  I had constant fear at the beginning that my children would not get into good colleges, would not get the scholarships they needed to attend those colleges...and it would be all my fault.  There were lots of sleepless nights.  There were also times we put them back into public school due to my fears. Reading that statement, it really made me think about where I was heading, where I wanted my boys to head.  It is so true. Being a professional, even a great teacher, does not make a person better suited to teach my children than me.  I am the one who cares the most deeply about the boys and their future.   I am over it now.  My oldest got an amazing scholarship to his first choice college and has completed his first semester there and LOVES it!  I know we can do this!  So my advice, trust yourself!  trust your child! 

Another ah ha moment, I can change my mind, and it's OK!!  I can, and do change my mind so often.  Curriculum, daily rhythm, priorities, they are constantly shifting in our home and it is perfectly fine.  Don't be so hard on yourself, it takes time to get into a groove, and then you decide it's not the groove for you.  You may try un-schooling with great gusto, only to realize your children would simply play video games for 10 hours a day and that is not going to work for you.  Yes I am speaking from experience.  You may try to do "school at home" meaning hours of sitting at the table doing book work, only to realize your kids are miserable...and so are you.  That is OK. Move on. 

One last thing for today, it goes along with changing your mind, You are going to make mistakes, maybe big ones. Llet it go.  For me those mistakes look like, yelling, a lot!  I am doing much better, but we certainly have our good days and bad days.  I apologize and try hard to take time for me now, which makes a big difference in my frustration levels.  This is full discloser here.  I yell, I get angry, I love my boys dearly, sometimes I get frustrated.  When I am having a bad day.. we turn on the counts!  It totally counts, they actually learn a ton.  February brings lots of documentaries, popcorn and knitting while we watch.  I have also purchased curriculum, expensive curriculum and hated it.  I have made so many "schedules" that have been completely ignored.  I have taken months off from doing any "school work at all.  My boys are still doing very well academically.  We can always hunker down and catch up.  I am not afraid.  You shouldn't be either.

Ok, so that is the beginning.  Next time we will cover, what homeschooling might look like and how to change your frame of mind to encourage learning all day every day.  Please let me know what you think.  Is this information helpful?  What types of things are you worried about?  Let's talk!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We're BACK!!!!!

So, We are officaly homeschooling again. Forrest (now 16) is enrolled full time at the local community college. He is in the Bio Science program. this will be for his jr and possibly, senior year of highschool. So far he seems to be really enjoying it. His plan from there is to possibly find a five year masters program and go on to medical school. another option is Colby College which has an amazing scholarship program for Maine Residents. but, plenty of time to make these decisions.

Gaynor(13) is working on Thinkwell Algebra online. he really loves this program and it is very affordable. it is also the same program the Johns Hopkins center for talented youth program uses, at a fraction of the cost. Gaynor also earned a scholarship to take a course of his choice at the local university through the CTY program. He is very excited and looking into Biology. other than that he is working on Chemistry with a lab (High School Chemistry in your Home) French I (Rosetta Stone Homeschool), for LA he is working on a story about dragons and a rigorous spelling program to prep for this year's spelling bee. He is really hoping to get to the state level again. I on the other hand am not sure if I can handle the stress again! i think for history we are going to work with liberty kids again. something easy and laid back with his other more intense course work. Gaynor is super easy to teach at home. very motivated and self led. quite a change from his older brother. He seems to have eased right into homeschooling again after an entire year of public school. he does miss his friends and his teachers but i am sure he will be seeing plenty of both in this small community.

Harland (7)is doing much better this year (so far). it has been much less of a struggle to get him to do "work". we are working with the Oak Meadow 6th grade curriculum with adjustments to make the writing more age appropriate. i guess basically we have just adjusted the expectations to what he is capable of. He seems to love the content in both the Basic Life Science and the Ancient History curriculum. I love that nothing is graded and it is very much hands on. Today he is learning about the Scientific Method. He went outside to collect items from nature and used different observation techniques to recall as much as he can about the items. He is now sketching them in his science journal. I know he is engaged as he has barely noticed that his little brother has been watching "clash of the dinosaurs" with out him and this is one of his favorites. His reading is quite remarkable. He has finally realized that books are as good (or maybe even better) than television. He has a special book light to read in his bed at night and comes down each morning excited to tell me what world he went to. He is currently reading the Charlie Bone Series and we are reading Guardians of Gahoule together. He has also been reading aloud to me from the Bones Poems book.

Indigo(4) is deep into the world of imaginary play. lately it has been a lot of dinosaurs and trucks. he does occasionally ask to do school work. I have a Brain Quest work book that he works in. He keeps telling me he wants to learn to read! so when he is interested, we do letters and sounds but i have no interest in pushing this. he is so young!
I think I am much more laid back this year too. After sending my boys to public school last year I quickly realized just how far ahead they are! So now, no more stressing out. We do 1-4 hours of "school work" per day, never more and sometimes less. We take Friday through Sunday off, and we treat all aspects of life as education! In fact, Harland is going to Auntie's house to learn all about bull frogs and their environment, hands on, mostly by catching and observing! While I don't think unschooling is right for our family, I do very much understand the importance of free time to explore interests and just hang out! My boys appreciate it as well.

I have been trying to make some order of our small house. We brought everything here from our storage unit and there just is not enough room in a 1ooo sq ft house for six people two dogs, and a whole lot of stuff! So I am just weeding out a little at a time. We still only have one car which is good, and bad. It has been a challenge for me, but not having to spend that money has been great.

In other news, Our family had quite an adventure in small business this summer. Mike and Forrest made and sold Devil Sticks (Juggling sticks) at the local summer festivals. I joined them doing Henna tattoos. It was a good time and we made a little money too. I am currently back working at the Cafe. The owner, a good friend, has broken her foot and is unable to work. So I am filling in as needed. I actually really love it. Going in early, alone,and cranking the pop music while I bake all the morning pastries, bread, quiche and soup. Then opening and talking with customers. It is a nice break from being home full time. The money doesn't hurt either. I am also taking an Adult Hip-Hop class. Soooo FUN! It has been a long time since I have done something by myself just for fun and it is awesome! I highly recommend it.

I, unfortunately, will be blogging with out pictures for a while. My old camera has finally died for good and I am saving for a new one. I know it's not the same but it shouldn't be too long. Did I mention how happy I am to have my boys back home with me? Since we have gotten back into a routine, they are all getting along so much better and the stress level and fighting has gone way down. Seems like it would be the opposite, but they really do enjoy each other's company when they are together. This alone makes it all worth it. I may not feel this way come mid February however!
So how about all of you, are you easing back into a fall routine? Any one homeschooling? tell me what you have going on!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Our first week of having Harland back at home has not gone exactly as planned. I got the flu! Bleck! Seriously awful! Luckily Mike was around to do......everything, as i could barely get out of bed. There has been a little more tv time than i would like to admitt. However, all they will watch is Dinosaur documentaries and Liberty at least it's educational. I am finally feeling better today and have decided to allow the boys to have some "decompression time". Just time to do whatever. I have discussed with Harland the things I would like him to work on and made tools available so that he can go ahead with it if he so chooses. He did want to do a dino-color by numbers math sheet today. He loves them, weird, I know. Yesterday we cleaned and organized their room. Harland was a huge help and we made up a rhyme to help them keep it clean. I can't share it with you, because my 16 year old poetry expert has critiqued it and well, it's not good. The point is, the littles love it and it may help. So shhhhh Forrest!

I am working on making room for all that is in our storage unit so we can stop paying for it. At that point I will have all of my school and Art supplies back at the house. I am most looking forward to our Wet-on-wet water coloring and hand work.

Forrest has been so much happier since he left public school. That being said, he doesn't seeem to want to work on Chemistry or Geometry. This is where I feel so torn. He is super bright! Not super motivated, at least not in these text book subjects. A part of me really wants to just let him run with what he is doing. Currently he goes to Advanced Bio-tech, every other day for a half day, He has nordic ski practice 5 days a week. He is on an amazing poetry writing kick, he truly has a gift( I know I'm his mom but still) He is also working on a blog and a short story. He has been making devil sticks or juggling sticks, with his dad to sell. He has plans to learn to make steam bent taboggans with a local artist. He is reading lots of basket weaving books and researching materials and He is making plans for an herb garden to make herbal medicines using a wonderful book he found. He volunteers for the local Recreation department maintaining their little ice rink. Oh and he just participated in a poetry out loud contest. He is truly doing so much but i still worry. He has high hopes for a competitive college. He also has two more years. I think I just need to relax. Any school would be lucky to have him, he is an amazing young man. I guess I need to follow my heart and trust my child. It is just sometimes easier said than done.

Gaynor is still in public, per his choice. I wish he would come home. for so many reasons, but that is another topic for another time

Indigo.......his behavior has changed DRASTICALLY since I left my job to be home with him full time. Thank GOD! now I can keep him....ha ha! he was really out of control and miserable and I knew in my heart all along what he needed. Financially it was a horrible decision as Mike has not yet found work, but honestly, we are still a happier family. The money will work out.

On a side that not the craziest wall paper you have ever seen??? It has boats and trains and Victorian houses on it. So weird. Obviously not much work has been done to our new house, money is super tight, we will get there eventually.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

We Are Back!!!!!

Happy Holidays everyone! we are celebrating so much here! After a few very difficult and sad months, we have gone back (mostly) to our old plan. I have left my baking job and now have 3 of my 4 boys home with me,Homeschooling again. (My 12 YO has chosen to stay in school. it is a wonderful school and it is, at this point, his choice) No more tears (well ok that might be reaching) and no more broken hearts. I will try to post again on a regular basis. We are very excited about our first lesson unit. it will be dinosaurs.(hmmmm who chose that one??) We will be sticking with a somewhat Waldorf style. lots of creating, lots of rhythm lots of gentle loving days. Indigo is beyond happy. This is truly where he wants to be...ME TOO!! My husband is so wonderful to change his plans. I guess seeing his family so unhappy was too much. For the next week we will be playing and knitting,and resting and decompressing. I would love to know what you all have planned for your new year. I have truly missed my internet friends. I just felt I had to remain quiet until I again had something nice to share. I want this blog to be a happy space. So... We are home......It's been too long. Thanks for sticking with us.-paula

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trying to adjust

I don't think things could be much more different here. Mike is in school full time so I am working early morning. I work 4 days 5:30 AM to 11:30 am. I bake for our local coffee shop. It's really the perfect job for me. I have a good amount of creative freedom with what I bake. The cafe is super cute and the customers, for the most part, are awesome. The problem is that I just feel a bit overwhelmed with trying to balance everything. I am also a little sad about not being home full time and homeschooling the kids. The three oldest seem to be adjusting very well. My six year old tells me constantly he "loves school!" So that is good. My little guy is at a little Montessori pre-school. It's great. His behavior at home however has been steadily declining. I just know its because of the constant going going going. The fact is there is nothing I can do about any of it right now. This is how it has to be for a while. Job options aren't plentiful in Rural Maine and I am very lucky to have what I do. I don't think different hours would make a huge difference any way. I've done the night thing before. It's really no better. To top it all off, Mike rolled his van a few weeks ago (he is absolutely fine, thank God) so we only have one car. Luckily I can walk to work and the schools, Everything else is 25 minutes away. It is just virtually impossible to be here (rural Maine) without a car. Ya know, just to add to the chaos. This whole thing is a means to an end and will not be forever. I just have to keep telling myself that.

Now that the whining is through.....We had a pretty great year with our little bitty new garden at the new place. Tons of tomatoes and carrots. We have just brought in the GIANT sunflowers to dry. The boys can't wait for the seeds. And there are just a few more bunches of carrots to grab. Next year we will go bigger. Our yard is huge so plenty of room.

The view here is amazing right now. We are at peak foliage here. The mountains across from our house look gorgeous. I still look out constantly and state how lucky we are to live here. People come from all over the world to see this view. Leaf Peepers, we call them. But we get to see it every day.

We are making apple butter in the crock pot today. Smells so good! We have also found an awesome source of local raw honey. Like right here on our street local. I am fascinated by the variations in the honey from season to season. Both in color and taste. Pretty remarkable what those little guys do. We are contemplating getting hives next year. It will just depend on how "under control" things are around here.

We have started some minor work to the house. We pulled out the hearth and woodstove. We just don't have room in the house right now. We also had an energy audit and a ton of insulation and weatherization done. Should make a big difference in our heating costs. We have also started painting rooms and are planning to build new front stairs this weekend with the recycled bricks from the hearth. I am excited about halloween. I am just a little nervous about getting everyone's costumes done.

I have also been knitting a little. I started a little Stitch and Bitch group with some other girls in the area. We had our first get-together last night. It is likely we did more eating than knitting but I really needed the girl time. Working at the cafe, I have met a ton of new, wonderful, people and I am thrilled to be able to hang out with them when I am off the clock.

All right then. I Would love any advice from you working Mom's out there. Any moms really. How do you do it all? Do you sleep? Maybe that is the problem? Now I am off to do some laundry so as not to send the boys to school Naked tomorrow.

Friday, July 30, 2010

We've Moved!!

So, Sorry sorry sorry! Things have been truly nuts here! We bought our first house! (more on the house later) Then the week we passed papers, my husband was unable to find work and was out of work for 3 months!! he's self employed and it happens, but the timing really sucked! So, i guess i had nothing good to say and chose to spare you all and keep my mouth shut! Things are better now. Still behind, but at least he is working. So much has changed in just a few months. We moved to an amazing little town. We are within walking distance to everything downtown which has been so different and really great! The boys love it! The dogs....not so much. I don't think I realized how the isolation was affecting me until we were moved. We have a huge yard, around an acre. lots of garden space. no, it's not 186 acres, but it is ours and comes free of dealing with others and all of their issues. Our payment is also less than our rent! The other big change may come as a shock to many. My boys are going back to public school this fall...........It's a big one, I know! My stomach flips just thinking about it. We spent a lot of time investigating the local school. It's 4 doors down from our house. The principal spent 2 hours with us answering all of our questions. He is really awesome. the average classroom size is 15!!!!!!! just 12 in Harland's class. I could go on and on trying to explain why, but, it just feels right for now. We have big future plans which involve two parents as full time students, So I would not be here next year any way. Honestly, we have cut all possible corners, and, well, we are barely getting by. I need to work for a while and finish my nursing degree so I can make a little money. We may go back to homeschooling at some point. I still love it and am a huge supporter! We ultimately left the decision up to the boys and they are very excited. I feel nervous, like nauseous nervous, but i won't tell them. I am also feeling mighty sad, but i will keep that to myself as well. We are giving this a shot and will take it one day at a time. I'll keep you updated.
Forrest (15) has been away for the summer at Upward bound. It's a summer program at the local college for bright, college bound kids. He loves it! He does come home on the weekends, but i still miss him terribly.
Gaynor(12) got braces! he has a major issue with a tooth not coming in so they are working to fix that. He looks so grown up. He will be taking both drum and steel drum lessons this fall as well as skiing with school. He has been placed in the advanced math program and is talking about joining the high school math team. He definitely did not get this math gift from his mother! His only question is how he will find enough time to read a novel a day like he does now! ha ha!
Harland(6) got glasses, he tells everyone he looks just like Harry Potter! He is also wearing a patch on his strong eye for a few hours every day to strengthen his weak eye. It was a challenge at first but going fine now. Harland is very very excited about the first grade. this will be his first time in public school. He will also be skiing twice a month with school this winter. He has been super into skate boarding lately and seems to be a natural. Imagine how happy his dad is!
Indigo (3 in 3 weeks) is growing up way WAY too fast. Potty trained in 3 days! This is soooo unbelievable to me! 2 of my other 4 were very challenging to train so this was a huge gift for me. I am working on his birthday sweater and crown (will post pics at some point). One good thing about public school is i will have lots of one on one time with my buddy. something we almost never have. The boys are at camp this week so I got a glimpse at how my days will be this fall. Honestly, I am all ready reminded of how I hate the morning rush!!! I am working on a plan to cut down the stress. Other than that, I have to say, so far, having just one is rather breezy! I imagine my house might actually be clean for a minute. Too Quiet, but clean! Ok I'm off for now. I am going to my sister's this weekend....ALONE!!!! to make soap and deodorant and toothpaste. I missed you all and I'm back to stay. Tell me what you all have been up to!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's Official!

Ok so crazy hectic but, I wanted to share that we have purchased our first house! We are in the process of moving and will be off line for a few. But, when I get back, I'll tell you all about it! I'm excited, scared, happy, nervous you name it! See you all soon