Archive for October, 2011

i’m sure some of you have heard the “rebuttal” that is said in contrast to hillary clinton’s “it takes a village to raise a child.” (“i’ve seen that village and it’s not raising my child!”).

i don’t like it either: the anger and, dare i say it, hatred spewed from the mouths of homeschoolers aimed at public schools. i’ve never entered into that conversation because i don’t believe it. we don’t believe it as a family and i won’t tell my boys that public schools are bad.

because it’s not true. and that’s not at all why we’re homeschooling.

when i am asked why we homeschool, i’m usually at a loss for words. my typical answer is: “because it’s fun! i love learning along with my kids, and we have a lot of fun doing it. it’s not always a bed of roses, but at the end of the day, i’m satisfied 100% with what they’re learning, and how they’re learning it.”

if you asked us why i don’t think they could learn the same way in a public school (or private school) our answer would be twofold:

one,  that in our researching and touring schools in our area, we felt that neither the public nor the private schools we toured emphasized a love of learning. because once you LOVE learning, you can pretty much learn (or teach yourself) anything.  we also fell in love with the classical philosophy of educating (for more on that, see Dorothy Sayers’  The Lost Tools of Learning) and no school around here uses the classical model.

another reason we chose to homeschool is that we always want to emphasize “family-first,” and we see how school activities can take away from a new and growing family life. our kids are little for only so long and we desire that our family be a priority in our kids’ life for as long as they’re  part of us. this choice allows us to be a family for as much time as possible. we’re not torn in different directions, with friends our own ages, doing different things that don’t include our siblings. we spend our lessons together, our meals together, our sports together. of course this doesn’t mean that our kids don’t have friends!

we’re learning not only to read, subtract numbers, and the history of the world, but we’re learning how to be a family. we’re learning how to respect, love and serve each other and others outside of our family (regardless of their age), and eventually we’ll learn how to form our opinions based on everything that we’ve learned and discovered together.

we also do have a lot of fun. one day out of the week you’ll find us with other homeschooling families at our weekly co-op, another doing review and new lessons together at home and then head to a gym class and swimming practice at the YMCA, and then off to soccer practice in the evening. another day is similar to that with another soccer practice after a morning full of lessons at the kitchen table. one day out of the school week we sleep in because we’re all tired!  we take the morning slowly and clean, rest and play and save the afternoon for our lessons. we’re constantly finding fun field trips to attend, overnight-family field trips to historical grounds in our state, and we try to spend time with daddy in the BigCity as often as possible.

disclaimer one: a few years ago, if you asked us how long we’d be homeschooling, we would have told you we’re taking it year by year. and while we still evaluate each year what to do in years to come, our vision has been cast out over several more years. this is not to say that our boys won’t ever see the hallways of a local school. who knows what several years from now (or even two years from now!) will hold for us. this is why it’s important that we not cast a negative light on “those other” schools that aren’t our own.

disclaimer number two: i do not think that families who send their children to public/private schools are not family-oriented. in fact, i know several “family-first” families who are public/private school families. and they’re raising strong, close families. we all have our own ways of raising and teaching our kids. homeschooling just happens to be ours.

kenny and i cherish this fleeting time we have with our boys, and we’re having so much fun learning along with them. now that you understand part of the “why” we homeschool, i’m ready to share some of the “how” in a future post or two.


there are days when it comes so easily, so naturally – words of gratitude from my lips, for all the fullness of life around me: i’m a mother, a wife, a teacher, a homekeeper.

other times, and sometimes more often than not, i need a bit of coaxing to be thankful for the fullness, the mess, the chaos: another sink full of dishes, another messy table from a chaotic meal, and a full dishwasher waiting to be emptied for the second time in one day: the motions of a busy home.

our ordinary, daily lives are rather extraordinary if you think of it.

Celebrant    Lift up your hearts.
People        We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People        It is right to give him thanks and praise.

liturgy (in worship) is cyclical, and repetitive. laundry and dishes and cleaning and cooking are cyclical, repetitive. they are our routine, a never-ending cycle of our days. they are our daily acts of worship. repetitive, cyclical acts of worship in our own home…what an honor to be a part of them!

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth.

i hope today and the rest of this week, as i view that mountain of laundry, the already messy floor from kids’ self-created art projects, and week of dinners, lunches, and breakfasts to plan, i will do so in praise. for i have a mind, a soul, and a body to take care of the lovely, beautiful messy work i’ve been given.

what a great way to energetically kick off a new blog series:  “welcome!  now, let’s rest.”

today is sunday.  in the judeo-christian world, sunday is a resting day.

when was the last time my sunday was a true sabbath?

 i usually spend sunday afternoons/evenings planning for our week: meal planning, homeschool planning, schedule planning, grocery planning. i find the quiet and the lack of schedule activities on sundays the perfect time to sit at a table, spread out my recipes, curriculum, planner and grocery lists, pour a hot beverage or glass of wine and go to it. i love this restful time! kenny has the boys, and i have no interruptions!

God demands rest from us. if i am to take my role as a wife and mother seriously, i need to take seriously the command to rest. because without rest, God alone knows (and i’ll bet my husband and kids also know!) that i am not my best. or worse, i’m at my worst.

but the command of our Creator to rest is more than that. in her book Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren F. Winner emphasizes this:

“Rest for the sake of future productivity is at odds with the spirit of Shabbat (sabbath)….The Bible suggests something different. In observing the Sabbath, one is both giving a gift to God and imitating Him. Exodus and Deuteronomy make this clear when they say, ‘Six days shall you labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.’ To the Lord your God.”

that floored me. i am not truly resting. i’m enjoying my “me-time” on sunday evenings, but am i truly resting, truly basking in the glory of a purely restful (in spirit, in mind, in body) day on sundays WITH my family and FOR my God?

maybe instead of shooing away the family in order to enjoy quiet on sundays, i can rest with them. what will that look like?  i now have this month to figure it out. and i’ll report back in due time.

have a blessed, restful sabbath!


31 days…

   Posted by: liz    in 31 days of sowing and harvest, series

october has long been my favorite month. there is so much pastel beauty in the spring, vibrant primary colors in the summer, but fall is reserved for oranges and rusts, reds, and browns…colors that i’ve always found comfort in.

this month, i’m taking part in a blog series called “31 Days” hosted by several bloggers, but is the brainchild of The Nester.

i’m excited and daunted once again at the prospect of posting every day in the month of october…but i’m on a roll of breaking out of my comfort zone, so i’m going to do this!

“31 days of sowing and harvest ~ quotidian comforts”
quotidian: occurring daily; ordinary; commonplace.

i plan to spend october the way i always do: as an introspective. i think “harvestime” is a good fit to spend contemplating our daily lives and what it looks like in each season of the year. i plan to spend time going through my daily routines as a wife, mother, teacher-to-my-kids, domestic goddess, or what-have-you and really contemplate why i’m doing them.

each of us have quotidian callings or comforts. my challenge this month is to share my daily life in a way that shows my readers (and me, because some days i need a reminder!) why we are called to different passions or callings in life, and how we can live our callings to the best each and every day.

i want to move far away from the “mommy wars” between women who choose to stay at home or women to work and raise a family; between the faith-based households, and those that don’t claim a faith; between homeschoolers and brick-and-mortar-schoolers. this series will have nothing to do with comparing.

i hope that through my series, you can rekindle your passion to your calling, whatever that may be. even it’s the exact opposite of my calling.

my calling is a stay-at-home, homeschooling, homesteader, and homemaker. so you will be reading a lot of these particular subjects this month.

several years ago, i was moved by Kathleen Norris’ short book, Quotidian Mysteries:Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work “Laundry may seem an odd element in the realm of religious worship…but [Norris] points out that “women’s work” such as laundry, cooking, and cleaning, done repeatedly on a daily basis and seemingly never to completion, can be approached in the same manner as liturgy. If seen as endless and dreary repetition, these domestic rituals become mindless activities to be gotten out of the way. When considered in terms of their enormous life-giving importance, the feeding and clothing of a family and maintaining of a household can be undertaken in the contemplative spirit. They become, like prayer and worship, acts of love that transform us and, in turn, the larger world around us. An uplifting book of inspiration, this is filled with humorous insights that will be enjoyed by readers unfamiliar with Norris’s other work.”

i love the idea of our daily work being a offering of prayer. i hope that by the end of October, we’re all calling our daily work offerings of prayer and praise, no matter how the world sees our lives.