Losing the Label

Losing the Label

Sometimes, labels can be very helpful, allowing us to define our vision or explain that vision in a way others can quickly identify with. At other times, we allow those labels to shackle us to a lifestyle or an approach that maybe isn’t quite the right fit.

Crunchy, organic, homesteader. Attachment-parenting, grace-based parenting, traditional. Classical education, Charlotte Mason, unschooling.

I think to escape the label in homeschooling, a lot of us settle on “eclectic” and call it a day. It’s easier than trying to explain the exceptions we’ve made to this philosophy and that approach. But I will take the time to explain some of our exceptions, just to help you see our journey and maybe bring some clarity to yours.

eclectic homeschooling

We started out hard core classical educators. Lots of memory, early Latin, art and music appreciation. And while I still love the learning levels and cycle of history, some of the rigidity and rigor has slipped away, for our sanity and survival.

I loved everything I read about Charlotte Mason, and was fully prepared to embrace the majority of that educational approach at the beginning of the year. Short lessons saved us this year, transformed our homeschool. My little ADHD kiddos thrived with short intense bursts and learned more than you could imagine from lessons that were no longer than 15 or 20 min.; it fit them perfectly. They could succeed and still be Tiggers. I also loved the connection with people rather than simply memorizing events. We merely discovered the events as we got to know people. My son saw himself in the life of Charles Dickens, saw who he wanted to be in Abraham Lincoln, and saw what he wanted to achieve in the lives of inventors like Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers.

Reading great books

On the other hand, even though the idea of teaching language the Charlotte Mason way really appealed to me, it was a colossal failure in practice. My son simply hated learning spelling through dictation; and while I enjoyed teaching the language lessons, I did not enjoy the fact that the method was so teacher-dependent. We gave it a try for quite a while and then I realized it was pointless to continue something that wasn’t working for my son simply because I was idealistic.

I learned this year, with all of our personal challenges, to be flexible, perhaps a little more realistic and a little less idealistic. I learned that no approach to education is the right approach for every child (after all, isn’t that why many of us homeschool to begin with?). And I learned that what I’m doing has to be a fit for BOTH me AND my child.

I’ve learned that labels are for canned food and toothpaste, not people.

Losing the labels

Next Year Plans 2015-2016

Next Year Plans 2015-2016

Homeschool Curriculum Planning

I must confess, planning for this next school year was much less difficult than it has been in the past. We had so much success this year that I had little to research and change. And while it was very nice to have those decisions pretty well made, I kind of missed the search-and-find part of the process. No one needs someone to find curriculum for them, do they?

All joking aside, I’m thrilled that we’ve found the pieces that fit just right for us. It’s been a great fit this year, a perfect balance. So, here is our master list for next year.

Grade 4:

Christian Light Publications Grade 4 Math

Alpha Omega Grade 4 Language Arts

Easy Grammar/Daily Grams 4

Spelling Power, 1st edition

Visual Latin 1 (second half)

Legends and Leagues geography (North, South, East—one for each school term)

My State Notebook, A Beka

Tapestry of Grace year 4, Upper Grammar (with Draw through History and Time Travelers Pak activities)

Grade 2:

Christian Light Publication Grade 2 Math

Logic of English Foundations D

Legends and Leagues (original book and workbook)

Tapestry of Grace Year 4, Lower Grammar (with Draw through History and Time Traveler Pak activities)

We’ll also be studying Norman Rockwell and Kandinsky for art, as well as jazz and Louis Armstrong for music.

“Preschool” for 3 year old

Nothing heavy here, trust me. But I have to plan something to keep Little Man out of trouble. And he loves “plojects.” Honestly, I’m aiming for exploration. And while I don’t have anything finalized, I expect to use a lot of Pinterest ideas, some resources from Letter of the Week (COAH), and some inspiration from The Homegrown Preschooler. I also want to implement a lot of Montessori activities with him.

Tot School

Littlest is such a sponge. He does a lot of counting, can recognize a few different letters, and knows his colors pretty well with absolutely no formal instruction from me. He’s too little to have a learning style just yet, but he clearly loves to explore rather than pursue anything structured. I’m really okay with that for now. I love setting out the supplies and letting him explore them on his own.

We do have a “summer school” schedule that I’ll post more details about soon. And I can’t wait to get into that learning mode. In the meantime, I’ll have to satisfy my curriculum-hunting instincts by delving into some preschool pinterest boards.


A Mixed Cup

A Mixed Cup

Missional Mothering

We’re on day 14 of the stomach virus at my house. My toddler has had it the entire time while each of the kids have had their share. I’ve paid my dues to the virus, logged my own 6 days, and am praying I don’t have to do a second round before it vacates our premises. It’s been a long haul.

I woke up to puke for Mother’s Day, and went to bed at the end of Mother’s Day puking myself. But Mother’s Day is a Hallmark holiday after all; this is the real stuff of motherhood. And yet, in spite of everything, I’m moved to tears with gratitude.

I’ve had 14 days, but I know mothers who have faced years of this kind of suffering (and worse), with no hope and no cure in sight.

I was sent home from the doctor with nothing except “keep on keeping on” because my toddler, even after being sick for so long, is still nourished and hydrated enough to be getting into the doctor’s drawers and throwing tantrums because he can’t push buttons on the doctor’s keyboard. There was no IV, no hospital admission, no dehydration. We went home.

I have hope. This light affliction (though it doesn’t always seem light) is but for a moment (though a moment can seem like an eternity). This too shall pass. And with it will pass the days of holding small hands and kissing warm heads and snuggling sleepy little ones.

This is a mixed cup, this stuff of motherhood. And if I gulp too fast, I’ll only taste the bitter. But if I savor, if I slow down, if I intentionally give thanks, there is a sweetness too. Even stomach bugs have a silver lining.

A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess

My three year old Littlest took his crayons outside the other day. It was a beautiful sunny day. And you can probably guess the results. The big kids ran inside to let me know about this goopy crisis occurring outside.

I’ve been praying about and preaching to myself about reacting less. Pausing in those messy moments. So I set aside the lunch dishes to inspect.

But rather than a mess, God allowed me to see art. Art just waiting to be made. And so we made it: a big beautiful mess.

Melted crayon rocks

We each took goopy crayons and made melted crayon rocks. Littlest’s rock happens to be the biggest.


melted rainbow crayons

With the left over ruined and ruining crayons, we made new rainbow crayons. Nothing like taking a “crisis” and making rainbows; after all, God himself did no less.


Inspiring Inventors

Inspiring Inventors

We’re finishing up our third and final school term with a unit on inventors and inventions. We’ve watched some Animated Hero Classics from our library and read lots of exciting biographies. Plus, our favorite projects from Time Travelers.

  • Thomas EdisonInventors and Inventions
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Henry Ford
  • Wright brothers
  • John Deere
  • George Eastmann
  • George Washington Carver
  • and more

And even though it hasn’t gone as smoothly or as consistently as I’d imagined, the most rewarding part has been seeing these stories capture my son’s interest and imagination. He, too, wants to invent, to study science topics more thoroughly, and to keep trying at something even 1000’s of times—and, maybe, to become famous.


Clinging to Life

Clinging to Life

Monday Motivation


My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! ~Psalm 119:25

When God formed Adam, He began with dust, just a pile of dirt. Abraham claimed that same nature in Genesis 18: 27: “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.” And the psalmist comforted his readers with Psalm  103:14, “he knows our frame, that we are dust.” I’m weak, unreliable, shifty, dirty. But that’s not all that I am.

When God formed Adam, He breathed into that dust, and man came to life, a living soul. Just like the original creation, there’s the breath of God that has given life to this dirty frame, too. And I need that breath. Oh, how I need that life-giving breath! Yet, ironically, I often cling to dust. I cling to that fallen nature, the weak strength that is more convenient than it is sufficient for what life hurls at me. And when the dust that I cling to sifts between my grasping fingers, I’m left wondering where to find Breath and Life.

Yet, He’s not so far from any one of us. There’s a reason His Word is described as God-breathed. Because in His Word, I find that strength, that breath, that life to sustain me. In Him, I live and move and have my being. Give me life according to your word!