Mother Earth Love

From the beginning I’ve always been a bit of an outdoor-sy gal. Sure, I’ve gone through phases where going out with friends or making sure my hair kept frizz free took precedent, but generally, at heart, I belong in the wild. Among the sandy shoreline. Amid the forests and grasses. With my hands in the backyard dirt, meticulously admiring and inspecting, caring for and tilling God’s handy work. Having sons has helped me to get out more. They don’t do well inside all day long everyday. I’ve tried video games and movies, but it only “takes” for so long. Eventually, they need to go outside. I’m grateful for them, and as my boys grow older and their interests mature, I want to keep up. They keep me from becoming a hermit crab of a person. We have gone through many nature study books and journals through the years. Worrying that my kids would suffer the dreaded vitamin N (as in Nature) deficiency, making sure “nature” as a curriculum subject was covered and the boxes for animal and taxonomy study checked was a priority. And with all the nature study we’ve done, with excellent references, I still feel like we’ve missed something. We did.

There’s been a reawakening. What does it mean to become a naturalist? What does it mean to “know” the earth? In recently acquiring our MO Wildlife Conservation and Local Nature Center membership cards, as well as joining the local Sierra Club chapter, Chris and I have committed to spending our time outdoors. But we want to commit to more than that. We want to connect to other people while connecting to the world around us. We want to feel comfortable with our place in the environment, and we want the kids to feel at home in this woodsy prairie state too. Getting out and camping and hiking and sharing the beauty of nature with our boys is our favorite. Gardening, composting, conservation, education and mentorship… they all matter. But becoming so comfortable in the biome we are a part of, is bigger. It’s a huge commitment to do things that may feel uncomfortable at first. I’ll need to sit and listen and focus and learn to like my sketches of spiders.

I am well on my way to becoming a Nature Connection Mentor and Wildlife Naturalist. Woohoo! What does that mean? I’m proud to share that I’ll be led to connect and become aware of nature, and in turn, share that experience with others. With kids. The particular program I happen to be working through uses the 8 shields as the principle model. What are the 8 shields? North, South, East, West, NE, SE, NW and SW. These natural orientations represent the 8 chapters in the Book of Nature. All pretty cool stuff. Google Wilderness Coyote Guide to Connecting With Nature if you are interested in learning more… it’s a new field and a really exciting one for moms and anyone who enjoys spending time with kids.

Reading the Book of Nature starts with discovering threads of connection with our natural landscape. First and foremost, becoming a naturalist mentor means becoming a naturalist. I can’t expect anything of my kids I can not do myself. If I am not willing to sit outside and connect with nature for hours on end, how can I ask my kids to do so? Now, I like to get my hands in the dirt as I garden. My husband spends his time outdoors running through forests and biking the trails, while training for races and mudruns. Now it’s time to begin my collections of drawings and leaf prints and to learn to use my field guide like it’s a limb. It’s time to turn to stories of old and remember what it was that helped the Souix Indians survive here in the grasslands of Missouri.

As a Coyote guide, we are not called off to go backwards into nature, to run off into the woods to survive. We are called to become aware. A child, and an adult for that matter, who has spent much of his time being entertained, going to school, playing video games or watching television will not know how to naturally connect with nature. He (or she) needs to get in touch with and trust the outdoor world.

“Connect in an intimate and meaningful way with the natural world and our natural selves… Mentoring is about stretching a person in their awareness, in the use of their senses, search imagery, in their appreciation of where they fit, in their knowledge of self, and in the understanding and telling of their own story within the story of life.” Jon Young

As a mama, who is learning so much myself, we (as a family) straddle the world of experience and science. Without being mentored and inspired, a child of our current culture will not develop sensory awareness on his own, or a sharp intuition, or imprint images into his memory bank without guidance. It’s native, guidance comes from our ancestors. I myself need mentoring and thankfully there are many in my community wanting to do so.

As I go on this journey, in order to share it with my children and hopefully others as well, I am learning that it is necessary to do many things. Finding a sit spot (a place that’s all my own in nature, which I can get to every day), keep a nature journal, and storytelling. These are three of the few necessaries when becoming one with the wilderness. There is a very ancient path that leads this way. I am not doing anything new here… once everyone was a naturalist. The early humans had to forage and learn the ways of the earth to survive.

I don’t know how to teach my children how to love the earth, gardening, camping, just sitting still and blending in with the forest as the world spins around them. I know how to do these things myself, just barely. So I am letting the kids come along with me. And when I read the stories, I make sure I read them aloud because it all begins with stories. I used to love listening to my Psych 101 Professor and BCC tell stories about crime and the statistics in Philly. To this day I have an understanding of when and why crime waves sweep over certain areas during specific times. He told stories. And I learned. We wouldn’t know anything today had not the first Africans, Europeans, Indians, American Indians, and Asians shared stories, fables, wisdom. Well, I like to tell stories about Mother Earth. I am learning some very interesting ones at that. Telling our nature stories will connect us with one another and with the Earth herself.

Thank you for reading. Now I must go outside and play.

Love,

Jackie

Bringing Nature into Homeschooling

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our homeschool. Truth be told, I’ve been trying to get involved in the community which is like a full-time job when moving to a whole new part of the country. The actual family, spiritual, and academic-based homeschool has been put on the back burner in favor of seeking out community. We’ll certainly be taking time soon to focus on mastery of our material soon as I have filled our calendar and given the boys ample opportunity to make friends. I tried today to remember what we used to do… before I got sick and spent a year in bed? Before we moved half way across the country and I knew nobody? As I searched my internal rolodex of “how did I do this once?” I felt a bit of sorrow for myself. Moving to a new place really, truly sucked.

I have homeschooled my children for the better part of a decade. And for the first time since then, I have not been an active, functioning member of a support group with a place. With responsibilities. Moving to the Midwest away from everyone who knew us, I don’t have much of a place in the homeschool community.  Don’t get me wrong, we have made friends and enjoy the company of some especially kind people. The kids are building networks of friends here and there, and it’s what matters most. But… in an area where I was once, hmm, I guess the right word is useful, I now feel like I am another member in attendance of the homeschool show. I began this journey in Florida. All of my friends and the moms who began homeschooling with me, they are all in Florida. And I moved here, to Missouri, and feel bored. I have a million and one ideas and all of this energy and excitement that was once put to good use is temporarily put on hold. After trying many schedules, we found that homeschooling as a family 4 days a week and then joining the community one day a week is what works best for us. This has changed over the years as I added a child to the mix twice. We moved in Florida, but the homeschool community was so big and there was always room for everyone and their gifts and talents. I never had a problem finding a place with others to share mine.

Being a stay at home mama and a hs’er can be lonely and I find myself looking to my God as a reminder of my value and place in the world. Many days I feel like I need a giant framed degree on the wall telling everyone I am worth something. Looking back I see that finding others in our community to share life with was not only for the kids, but for me as well. If I can help out here or there, if I can be a part of something bigger than just myself, there’s a reason to get dressed each day. As I try my hardest to instill a love for people and animals and the earth itself in my boys, I long to contribute more to the world. Everyone has gifts and we are a diverse group of talented people here on earth. There is room for everyone. I think the hardest part of “fitting in” is finding the group or the community that has a desire, a need, or space for one to express their gifts. I have taught and led, and wrote curriculum for spiritual groups, for homeschool groups, and for groups found online. When it comes to educating my kids and the arena of education, I have never been involved with Nature Conservatories. During this leg of the journey I am dipping my toe into the community of naturalists and finding my place in this particular community. I am currently holding the title of a Naturalist and Conservationist and have been searching for a place to spread my wings a bit as I am first and foremost an educator at heart. It takes a committed focus on connecting children of the iPad generation with a forest. I hope to one day combine my homeschool communities with my nature conservatory communities. I don’t want to just show up. I want to help. I want to have that reason to get dressed each day.

Asking a child to slow down long enough to observe the bird learning to fly for the first time is no small feat for anyone, let alone those with passion. And, well, I think I have the desire and heart at this point in my homeschool to share this with my kids and others who are on this leg of the journey as well. As any naturalist/scientist will tell you, there can be no nature study or collection of naturalist experiences without a nature journal/notebook/log/diary. It’s not an “art” thing as much as it is a “science” thing. In order to enjoy nature, one must see and hear and notice nature. And then, the more natural beauty is noticed, the changes are noticed too. All the while a connection is being made. We connect with another species without disturbing it and enjoy it simply because it’s there and we live on the same earth together. Learning to keep a nature log is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can do… if given the time. Eventually through the observation and the notes & sketches, a person understands the particular piece of the world that couldn’t be understood simply by just walking by a “seeing” the thing. Eventually pages fill up and a world of trees, leaves, bugs, clouds, rocks and minerals, and flowers. And one’s world will never be the same again. To fall in love with creation is a beautiful experience… it was for me. To share the joy with my kids is beyond a gift. It’s like I’ve discovered a secret and all I want to do is share it and talk to others about the secret.

I am so grateful for the good that has come out of the move and getting sick. Had I not been forced to seek out a new life, I would have never discovered the world of Nature Conservation and the role it plays in my spiritual life, my family life, and our homeschool. I hope to move forward in finding others who will allow me in, just as I did those first few years of homeschooling. This weekend we are celebrating a huge milestone for Missouri’s Wildlife Conservation clubs and I’ll be introducing my children to some of the clubs and people who are changing the world through activism and passion. It’s a great time to be alive and homeschooling! Thanks for reading.

Have a Great Weekend Friends!

Love,

Jackie

 

seasonal changes

Last year, about this time, life gave me a little more than I could handle. My slow and very painful recovery from having a sick thyroid removed was just the beginning. It would begin a series of more surgeries and procedures that would “undo” all the years of organic eating and clean living I practiced. All of my energy went into clinging to a faith which kept me going and making sure my kids never felt scared or alone. They were often cared for by my Mom or my in-laws while I was recovering or sick. Every. Single. Bug… That entered the home was thrilled with my lack of an immune system. I was radioactive at one particular time and was warned that it would weaken my body’s ability to heal or get over colds and other surgeries. So when my summertime surgery was botched, and a hematoma formed, it knocked me out in every way. Until earlier this year I rarely left the house, I gave up on my homeschool, my marriage, and my identity. Parenting became my only job because being a sub-par mom was the best I could do and loving my kids was all I was capable of doing.

This Spring, my life began to unravel. This was a good thing. I was able to sit still and allow the Spirit to build me up, into the person I once was. No, better. We began going to groups and the kids were meeting friends. I went to a homeschool conference and met one of our Homeschool Legal Defense Aid reps, who prayed with us about a specific situation. During my illness, my downtime, I had placed my child, the one with special needs, the one who needed me most, into the care of a government run school. Yup, you guessed it… I was given the bait and switch. The school practically did cartwheels when we mentioned that we were thinking about enrolling him. They were kind and helpful and blah, blah, blah. Yet, when my kid was in the school he endured months of unacceptable and unnecessarily rude notes and unkind care. This is my fricken’ kid!! And he needs an education, but all he was getting was a bad attitude and anxiety attacks that made me cry when I watched him walk up to the school. He was treated like an inmate. I watch a lot of documentaries about jails and prisons and the similarities between prison and my sons institution were kinda’ similar. I know it’s extreme, but so much of the way problems were handled and the children were cattled was similar to the prison system.

My children master an academic topic before they move on. Nothing less than understanding is worth their precious time in their studies. Unless they actually learn and understand what they are doing what they do is simply busy work. I read an article claiming to share with us information about the Common Core. My mother in-law claims it promotes higher-order thinking. She knows that’s important to me as I shared with her that we were keeping our children home so that they learned to use higher-order thinking and reasoning. They need to understand why a formula works, not just memorize the formula. My son’s school was a Common Core school and they were wanting to bump him up to third grade when his special needs demanded that he slow down and master certain topics first. That is not apparently what professionals call the “common Core Standard.” I was not okay with the reply received every time I asked the teacher how I could help. Her response was always very laid back and relaxed. “I’m not worried about him,” she would write me. “He’s got you to work with him at home.” So as soon as I began to feel better, stronger, alive, and could see the haze of self-preservation-type parenting lifting, I saw the school for what it was. A necessary daycare for 3 months while I gained my strength socially, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We brought him home this week after several apes (upper class bullies) who my kids wanted to play with at the school, held them from behind by their necks while other children kicked and hit them in their guts. The school not only saw no serious problem with this, but treated me unkindly once I brought this problem to them. My husband felt the same way with the messages left on his machine by the school staff. The attitude was unacceptable. It takes a good attitude to learn to work through school work, especially the difficult work, with drive and determination to do one’s best. If the teachers have bad attitudes, why should the kids show any different?

I knew the students had bad attitudes. When I saw the same in the principal, the counselor, and the teachers who work with Hunter I realized that he would never learn self mastery, self-control, the joy of learning, the motivation to work hard, and the understanding that hurting another human being is wrong and serious. We brought him home so that we could educate him properly, but also so that my children would see just how seriously we take prison behavior and bad attitudes.

Our youngest son has grown closer to me through our garden and yard-care. We are bonding over keeping a garden journal and have always done our best creative art pieces together. He does his schoolwork diligently and although it gets tough at times, he never makes me feel as though he isn’t giving me his all.

Marriage…

We are okay. When I stopped being lady of the house and I became so sick that I lost 30 pounds in two months I had no desire to homeschool, and could care less about anything other than getting through the day. It made for a difficult marriage. I was trying to stay afloat when life was pulling me down and my marriage was the first thing I stopped caring about. I had no married friends to talk with. I am my parent’s only daughter and they are lovingly protective over me so I have to be very careful about talking marriage issues with them. They are good people who love me very much and want the best for me, obviously. If I said I wanted to leave, they would be here within 24 hours with a moving truck to move me back to Florida. There are only two or three people who know what Chris and I have been through and who would understand the hardships of our marriage and they live in Jersey and Florida so I felt very alone. He was raised very differently than I was and our priorities sometimes don’t line up, but we have love, commitment, and we share a life and a future that makes us hopeful. The up’s and down’s of married life become all down’s after cancer, a botched robotic surgery, and major hormonal adjustments as my body switched from natural hormones over to replacement hormones in pill form. It wreaked havoc on my energy and my emotions. I didn’t sleep for days once and began hallucinating. It was horrendous and tensions were high with me and Husband. But we decided to make it work and we continue to do so. A covenant like ours is one based on more than a piece of paper. We will never stop working on being better people for each other and laying down our lives for the other.

Finally, the biggest change has been in my oldest son. He is extremely close to my husband, his Dad. He pulled away from me when I was ill. He pulled away when his great Grandpa died, almost one year ago. He pulled away when I wanted to move out. He demanded that he stay with his Dad. He was struggling more than I could see… and I could see quite a bit. My son became suicidal, at 9 years old. And I knew nothing about this until recently. Last year he had planned on ending his life. He sought the Lord the night before he planned to do it and he said it was the words of Christ in his Bible and in his heart that stopped him from making the fatal decision. He felt alone with everyone, except while at home. He wanted friends, but didn’t want to leave the house to make them. He felt like a disappointment for not playing sports as he has never been interested in athletics, although he is built to play football. My family has a very rich history in professional and semi-professional sports and refereeing and so it’s unnatural that my boys are not “into” sports. He felt that weighing very heavily on himself. He loves music, dance, he writes, directs, and makes movies with his recorder (used to be mine), and he loves science. He is a total smarty pants science nerd. He is an animal lover and became a vegetarian because it hurt him when he learned that his meat was from animals who were being farmed and killed. He is sensitive to the needs of the earth. He is everything I love about a naturalist. He is my inspiration and he teaches me as much as I teach him. Learning that my illnesses, the pressure to do what he thought he “should” be doing instead of what he loved, and his crippling fear of leaving the house was going to take my son from me, changed me more than anything. It was a faith beyond what I could do for him, that got him through.

Faith…

I will never say that God tells us to do things. God does not save people from cancer… try telling that to a mother who lost her child from cancer. God does not tell us to do things that make us superstars or heroes. If one believes the Bible, one can learn from Christ’s life and words that God does not care about money, or doing grand things. God cares about things we consider small. He wants us to care for others. To love and to protect and to be forgiving. It won’t get us a ton of attention, but it will change the world more than the giant mega-churches spending thousands of dollars to send kids to Costa Rica to build a shack church for poor people. Loving people, caring for the animals we’ve been entrusted to care for (note: they are not here to be our servants… we are to care for these beings), and tilling the earth to bring forth life and creation from every seed and soil will do more than the grand acts of “selflessness.” Which are not selfless at all by the way. I get that taking trips to other countries is a great thing to do… I hope each of my children gets to do a missions trip at one time or another. But let’s call a spade a spade. It’s more for the people going than it is for the poor folks in Costa Rica. The money spent could be better used. I am taking Consumer Mathematics so I know these things now;)

People are not to be treated like a cause. It makes the Saviors look like a joke. People are valuable and the Lord showed us how much when the gap was bridged between the Creator and Creation. We are one now, like a marriage. I am absolutely sure of faith. My son turned to the Lord in his darkest hour, and he was led to do the right thing in his heart. He told me that he could picture the Spirit of God with him telling him that everything will work out for the good, to stay faithful. The people who are responsible for teaching my son to have faith in someone other than himself are bigger heroes than the ones who are making a spectacle of their heroism. I like to think I had a part in it, being his teacher, his mom, and his counselor at times, but there are so many others who have pointed him towards greatness that I can hardly take credit.

It’s the small things that matter. I know that some folks will think I am being ridiculous by pulling my son out of school over typical school stuff, but they don’t have to live with the consequences of the choice. I do. I have watched the documentary entitled “Bully” and I have read about the failing school system and the ass-backwards Common Core Standards and I want better. I am glad the school is here as a back-up if I need them, but what kind of person would I be if I set out to change the world, yet neglected to do my job as a parent? I think I would probably be the parent of a very academically neglected child, and maybe another child with his emotional needs getting met by drugs, sex, or other bad things kids do to self medicate, instead of calling out to the Lord in his time of need. Or maybe I would have a little guy who wanted to play video games instead of garden and journal. I’ve seen glimpses of the other side as I had to check out of life for a year in order to get better. Now that I am stronger, healthier, and not out-of-the-woods-yet healthy, but definitely confident that God works everything together for the good. If I should get sick again, like long-term sick, which is a real possibility every time I get my bladder biopsied, I trust that the hard times will teach me more than the rest of the good times in life put together.

I hope I go to heaven when I die. When I do, it won’t be the obnoxious Christian heroes, but the ones who sacrifice being the hero in order to love others, to care for plants and animals and preserve the beautiful life giving Mother Earth. I know some people who have been through some stuff, real tough stuff… and in turn they continue to open their hearts and give of themselves. I know what it’s like to reach out and ask for help (in the area of my marriage for example) and get blown off because helping me would not bring them glory. No one would get to know how great they were. I have known others who have sacrificed their nights and their frequent flyer miles in order to serve and help me. Not all of them claim the title “Christian,” but I am sure I will see them in heaven. Some of the most awful people I know are Christians. It makes me cringe to think I would have to spend eternity with them. Maybe getting reincarnated into one of my garden fairies would be a better fit. Seriously, I am not spending eternity with some of the narcissistic Christ-claimers who cloud their selfishness with faith and religion. Real faith saves people. Privately and without the halo over one’s head. Or no faith… no whacking people over the head with all the great things they do because they are so exceptional at their faith… that would be better than people who call themselves Christians but seek attention and praise like it’s going out of style. Get a therapist… there are people we can pay to listen to us talk and they will tell you and me just how great we are. We don’t need to use the name of God to get it. Spiritual crack people… don’t get hooked.

Thanks for reading. It seemed like I would never blog again as I worked through some of these changes alone. Now that I am blooming and bursting with fresh inspiration and a guided spiritual life, I hope to get back to blogging like I used to do. Thanks again for reading.

Love,

Jackie

p.s. off to homeschool my awesome little houligans… will edit later. Excuse the mistakes. When I save a draft with the intention to edit later, it ends up never getting published because I am at a different place. So I shoot, aim, fire… I mean, draft, publish, edit…

 

Common Core State Standards

So today I read a story in an issue of Parent and Child magazine called “Unlocking the Common Core.” Unfortunately, it unlocked nothing. The author gave a few scripted examples of how certain assignments in a classroom might change. The changes were a little frightening to read as I thought students were already being taught those lessons. Well, at least now we have some government propaganda which assures us that students will be taught to think a little more instead of just “choose and answer” or “memorize this chart.” Last year I published a post about this very topic. After asking around and doing my own research, I have much more to say about Common Core. Since writing last, my son (second grade) has entered into public school, out of necessity and not out of our family desire to place him there. It is temporary and reading about the Common Core affirms my goal of bringing him back home when the time is right.

The school my son attends adopted Common Core standards last year. Although it is a CC school, the work sent home with him, both finished and unfinished does not yet confirm this. His work reflects zero changes to the school curriculum I purchased almost a decade ago for my oldest son, before I learned about the many methods of learning besides school-at-home. We bought curriculum from a top Elementary Academy. I asked the woman working on his IEP what she thought of Common Core. My mother in law and my dad were both teachers although they each retired from teaching before CC was implemented in their states. They didn’t know much about the in’s and out’s so I figured asking someone working in a CC school, I would get a clear idea of what it is and how it works. I ask all teachers how they feel about the changes and the reviews are split. About half are pro-CC and half do not think it is best for the student. I wanted to hear what the woman at my son’s school thought about the changes… she likes them a lot although she “doesn’t understand Common Core completely.” Well, at least she likes it. It seems like most people for CC can’t adequately explain how it began and how it works.

Because I am a research junkie with a Google MD and a subscription to every quality educational publication printed, I have tried my best to learn all I could about the new standards and how they will affect my homeschool and my child in public school. The topic is lengthy and so for that reason I may break this up into two posts. The weather is gorgeous and my garden is calling me!

So where did the Common Core come from? Teachers, parents, the school district, or anyone having to do with the students and their education? No. Are politicians involved? Ding! Ding! Ding! National Standards advocates put together Common Core under the auspices of two private trade organizations, the National Governors Assoc. and Council of Chief State School Officers. Both function mainly as networking opportunities. The government gives funds to each, pays their dues and for their consulting services. The standards were written in closed meetings behind locked doors. GE, Exxon Mobile and Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation contributed tens of millions of dollars to the project. So yes, a lot of people are getting rich creating this new standard.

Is it better? Well, it unifies what children learn across the board in English and Math (the CC currently affects no other academic subjects). Which would be “less objectionable if Common Core were not so mediocre” according to ALL OF THE ACADEMIC EXPERTS on Common Core’s validation committee who REFUSED TO SIGN OFF ON IT. Other education experts have since sharply criticized CC academic quality as well.

The idea is well-meaning. Homeschoolers tend to aim for mastery and statistically score higher on tests, so this does not pose a threat to us in the area of testing, yet. There’s a little more to it as some homeschoolers will have to spend time teaching how to test differently, which is nonsense, but hey… we still have the freedom to employ mastery, rather than the spiral, approach so their tests are of little threat. Right now. Another concern is that Common Core tests are expected to be different from the knowledge-based tests most homeschoolers are used to. By 2018, all CC tests will be computerized and have performance tasks, like video games. My two oldest dislike video games and don’t play them. So while they may be little geniuses, the test will show otherwise because they are not video game players.

“The computerized tests will be different for every student. Students who answer a question “right” get a harder question next time and students who answer “wrong” get an easier question next. This different, more complex testing format may mean that some students test worse than others even though they may have equal knowledge.” -Joy Pullman, editor of School Reform News

The tests will then feed into a national database which track students from “cradle to career” as Prez Obama (coolness slang added to his title intentionally) and Education Secretary, Arne Duncan have stated. To get the 2009 stimulus money, every state agreed to build a student database shared with other states, fed gov, school district, INDIVIDUALS OR ORGANIZATIONS (yikes!) without the parents knowledge or consent. Only, it won’t just be the test scores in the database. SS numbers, hobbies, records from their doctor, etc., are allowed as the U.S. Dept. of Ed reinterpreted student privacy laws in 2011.

The entire project is scary to say the least. I’ve had my identity stolen and my credit messed with. Now my kids can know that same ordeal before they even learn to read. Thanks people re-writing our privacy protection laws…  wait, I mean, interpreting them in a new light.

As I stated, I will write more on this for sure. For now, I need to get my hands dirty as I tend to the piece of Mother Earth I’ve been entrusted to care for.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Jackie

taking a sabbatical

Hey guys. Sorry I haven’t been my usual blogging self lately. I got sick, again, and had to take some time to heal. After this latest health problem it occurred to me that if I didn’t do something radical to cleanse my mind, body and spirit, that I may never be completely well again. Last year I had many procedures and surgeries. One of which was a complete thyroidectomy. And because I had cancer I needed three doses of radioactive iodine in a very short period of time. It destroyed my immune system. I have been unwell since. It seems like I just can’t get caught up in life. So last week I made the decision to take a sabbatical. The point? To rebuild my immune system. To teach my body how to sleep. To spend time on myself and get healthy so that I can be a better mom, wife and to live life to the fullest instead of being sick. All. The. Time.

As you know I am a huge advocate of homeschooling. It has been proven the best method of schooling if the family has the resources to buy and collect a decent library of living books and curriculum as well as providing the homeschooled kids with opportunities to make friends and try new experiences. Homeschoolers overall have higher test scores, social skills, and blah, blah, blah. The benefits are well documented. So here’s my conundrum, do I place the kids in public school while I take a full sabbatical? Or do I homeschool and only partly focus on the process of cleansing my system and restoring my whole-body wellness?

I’ve been very conflicted as I weigh the pro’s and con’s. I love homeschooling so it may be good for me to continue this family journey together. Should I keep them home, I would commit to getting the kids to homeschool functions at least once a week with no problem.

Con’s? I need sleep. Like, months of sleep. If they went to school, I could use that time to sleep until I was no longer so tired. Then when I haven finally rested, I would move on to using that quiet time to find my center, Christ. I need time for prayer and meditation because health doesn’t happen without attention to the mind and spirit. I can feel how unbalanced and cluttered I am after last year’s string of upsets on my health. Purely out of need, we have drifted away from our natural, organic diet and have started eating a lot of processed foods. I want to take the time and re-learn the habit of eating a very healthy, fresh diet. It took time to become an organic mom to begin with so I expect that it will take time to get back to that practice.  After clearing my mind of clutter, then my body, comes my home. I would like to deep clean my home and rid the closets and corners of things we don’t use or need. I would like to spring clean the place I spend most of my time because it makes a difference in emotional and mental health. Dust and clutter give me the heebie jeebies. My kids like to hoard. I don’t know that I could do all the cleansing of material items with them anywhere near me… they would be unloading the bags and boxes as I pack them.

So, I really want to do what’s best for my family. And Chris and I are in agreement that homeschooling is best, but we did not plan on illness hitting me this hard. If I had it to do all over again I would have taken more time to heal after each surgery and I would have cleansed my system after each round of mega-doses of medication. I would have dealt with it all right away instead of rushing to get back to cleaning and homeschooling. So here I am today, facing a decision I never thought I would be forced to make. Do I put the kids in school, not because “it’s time” or because we want to (they do not want to go), but because mom needs time to rest and get well mind, body and spirit… or do I keep the kids home and homeschool them while I try to take a sabbatical of sorts?

I’ll keep you posted. I’m so tired. As I end this I would like to add that this is not a decision we are considering suddenly or lightly. This is not something we want to do or are even comfortable doing, but I am just so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open. I wonder what would happen if I got rest, got caught up on life, which is kicking my tush right now, and then tried to homeschool? Would the small sacrifice of using the public schools for their intended purpose (as a back up to home schools) , pay off in the end? Or do I continue on and hope that the little bits of rest and time to myself will be enough if I just have faith? My kids are not prepared for the politics of public schools. It would be especially difficult for 2 of them as they are not used to being told that they need to sit for hours a day and not talk. I read that I shouldn’t put them in school if they can’t sit for 2 hours at a time. They can’t. Also, my kids are used to learning at their own pace. With all the resources they need at their fingertips. It would be hell on earth for them to learn from textbook/workbooks. I hate to do that to them. But right now I am not doing my best for them either. Decisions, decisions. Keep you all posted.

Love,

Jackie

Have a good one guys. Keep you posted and write

supporter of bupe

By now the world has heard that a great actor, Philip Seymore Hoffman, died. He died of a drug overdose. Found in his room was an arsenal of detox medication as well. An educated guess? He planned on using hard one last time (as he expressed wanting to get clean the day before his death) and then getting off the heroin once the 50 bags of dope were gone. So he had all the staples. Clonidine for the shakes and general anxiety… it’s the only blood pressure medicine doc’s will routinely prescribe to people withdrawing from opiates. He had a muscle relaxer, for the mini-seizures and awful cramps.

And the big guns… buprenorphine… Suboxone. Suboxone is a synthetic opiate taken to stop physical withdrawal. Some say it’s in the same category as methadone. It is not, at all. Some say so, but those who have taken both know that Suboxone is a life-saving drug, used in conjunction with a plan to get and stay sober. Methadone is more of a substitute for heroin. Some use subs to “detox” and others who have a more serious problem stay on it for years, or for life. When an opiate dependent person takes Suboxone it completely blocks the effects of all other opiates unless the bupe is overridden with a flood of heroin, morphine, fentanyl, etc. Suboxone is a life saver for many addicts who at one time had two options… face a painfully, almost impossible withdrawal or go on methadone. It is not for people who have been addicted less than a few years. Although it does not get folks off, like methadone would, it’s physically addictive so it is definitely not for the vicodin addict… vicodin withdrawal is a cakewalk compared to a Suboxone withdrawal. However, Suboxone will help a person get his/her life back, will not give them the sensation of feeling high (just really relaxed), and it will block all other narcs for those who are around opiates and may get tempted. A small dose is given for those who have a history of addiction as well as needing serious pain management. This life-saving medication is what PSH had in his room. He was serious when he mentioned getting clean. Had he known the hit was too large, a dose of the suboxone would have saved his life.

It not only had naltrexone in it, but, the buprenorphine itself rips opiates off the receptors and fills them with the bupe. It is impossible to overdose on Suboxone. It is a rare drug in that the more you use it the less effective it becomes and the worse you would feel. It has a long half-life and a ceiling effect.

I have read many blogs and threads about Suboxone being worse to get off of than heroin. I would suggest that it is the normal, clear-headed life of a person who has been heroin-free for a while who would suggest this. Having been through pharmacy tech school, unbelievable pain and pain management, and living and working with addicts before becoming a mother I am familiar with Buprenorphine.

I knew, when I read that Philip S. Hoffman had this waiting for him, that he was so close to being clean and sober again. Had he made it through this one last run, he could have found life without drugs again. But Suboxone is a drug you ask? So is coffee. And adrenaline from sex… which releases more endorphins than Suboxone. Suboxone fills a void without getting one high and it is life-saving. It gives people their lives back. I have known many, many people who have gotten their families back, jobs, and a life back with Suboxone.

No, I am not a rep for Suboxone, but I have seen it save life after life from the deadly world of heroin, oxycontin, morphine, fentanyl and dilaudid. It only works for addiction of physically addictive drugs in the opiate family. As well as pain management for former addicts. If my son were to find himself in the grip of heroin addiction, after reaching the 5-year mark I would wholeheartedly support him getting on Suboxone maintenance. If a close friend were to relapse into heroin addiction (which is different than other drugs in many ways that’s why I’m singling this drug out), I would take him or her to the nearest Suboxone doctor and encourage him/her to take the help and save their own life.

Just needed to get this out. I was super opposed to Suboxone about 3 years ago when I knew very little about it. I had my first experience with the medicine (as a painkiller) after my hysterectomy in 2009. After the recent surge in overdose deaths held up to the light of the personal experience I have had with this drug, I am 100% convinced that this drug saves lives.

Needed to get this out. That’s all. Have a good one guys.

I am working on a blog about writing. For third graders and up. Without using a pre-digested process fed to children by suits. Unfortunately I have a severe infection that will not die and I want to make sure I have all my sources/info gathered before writing, so… it has to wait. This blog is my reserved response to a very emotional topic. R.I.P. PSH.

Love,

Jackie

Relentless Learning

A while back I worked on writing a book. A book that I had looked for in bookstores and on Amazon, but could not find. I wanted to write a series of answers to questions and concerns voiced by loved ones and nosy ones regarding homeschooling. But I also wanted to bridge a gap between homeschool teachers and non-homeschool teachers. In my research I stumbled upon blogs and threads for institutional school teachers that shed light on their opinion of us. One woman called homeschool moms “dumber than houseplants” and therefore unfit to teach our own children. If it is the public school turning out “dumber than houseplant” mothers, than she just proved the case for homeschooling. If a public school graduate cannot teacher her own child using curriculum, than public schools are in worse shape than I thought.

It began to upset me and so I temporarily quit my research. I started to notice that when I wrote, my answers became defensive as I remembered the awful words typed about my intelligence by women who knew nothing about me. The point of my writing was to share with love why we chose to homeschool. Not to write with hostility, which was beginning to seep through. I wanted to bridge the gap between two types of people… those who homeschool and those who think homeschooling is dangerous/not good enough/or that the moms aren’t qualified to teach.

There is a book at my local library called Rookie Teaching For Dummies. The first piece of advice this author gives to new teachers is this… “very little of what you learned in college applies.” The author goes on to say 90% or some crazy number like that… of what a teacher will do each day is not academic teaching. “Most of what you will be doing is classroom management.” And I imagine having to fight for the right to do anything has to drive teachers crazy. If the kids needs a break (we know when kids need a break) and we want to drop history and science for a week in order to do a unit study around, let’s say, apples, I don’t think a public school teacher can do that. A good unit study will include science, history, art, writing, and vocabulary. Seems like it would be a good “break”, while not breaking from academics. I don’t know how they do it… having to teach under the thumb and direction of those who don’t work with the kids on a daily basis. The one who teaches the children should have the ultimate say in how the material gets covered. What do our days boil down to in regards to learning? At home? At school? I know what my children gain each day as we discuss what we read and we work together in our activities. I know when curriculum needs tweaking and the only authority I need to go through to change our resources is my husband. We need money for a field trip? Ask hubby. We need a new book that would enhance our studies immensely? Hubby.

Now that I am back to frantically scribbling in notebooks as I study Ruth Beechick and Susan Wise Bauer and of course, Charlotte Mason, as well as many others, I am ready to put some work into finishing a small book about homeschooling. Meant to be read by those who are concerned about their homeschooled grandchild or loved one. I am coming at it from a different angle and as I want to share less about the social aspect and more about academics, the words that keep coming to mind are “relentless learning.” We are relentlessly learning. Yes, there is a social issue and I will address it here quickly and move on because I know most homeschoolers are so bored with the question of socialization. In my sarcastic irritation with the over-asked question, if an adult human being can’t figure out why institutional socialization is not superior to real world social situations, that’s proof enough the schools are failing. Kids who go to institutional schools get socialized. I don’t want my kid “socialized.” That comes from my understanding of what it means to be social in the world verses being socialized. My faith is rooted and grounded in Christ. He spoke of love, giving, nowhere is it recorded did he teach about getting “socialized”… I think that may be a term invented to try to scare homeschoolers. Human beings who come out of the schools socialized are no better off than anyone else.

People call us weird… yes, they actually still do. But think about their definition of weird… thought about it? Now do you agree that it doesn’t matter what they think? Yes, I agree that it is weird to love to learn and to be best friends with parents and siblings, but so what? It is weird to know about how the world works, and by “world” I mean banking, doctor appointments and pharmacy practices, drug interactions and dangers, how to care for a home and a yard and garden, and best of all… to know that how you look and the price of your clothes and the interests you have don’t make one a popular winner or a loser. Personal example… my son, who is clearly on the autism spectrum (really, he’s been diagnosed be several different specialists including a close friend who knows the family well), knows he is different, but has no idea that there is anything wrong with him, just different. No remedial classes in our homeschool because he’s not remedial. He’s not “behind”. In fact, when I voiced concern to the public school speech therapist he sees that he may be “behind” in reading she disagreed and suggested that my other children are simply “advanced.” Our standards are a little higher so I was still concerned until I read about how children learn and was once again at peace with his pace.* He learns and he continues to grow in his interests. I think it’s wonderful. If your child is not learning at a pace the almighty teacher manual suggests, stay encouraged. Remember that the One who decides which children are “behind” is the ultimate Authority, not the government funded public school system which was originally designed as a “back-up” education institution for parents unable to teach their children.

*I’ll post the resources that taught me most everything I know about teaching at the bottom. If you’ve homeschooled for more than a minute I am sure you’ve read or heard of some or all of them.

Our specific local public school is great. The staff, including the principal are very kind and non-judgmental of our decision to homeschool while still receiving their help in speech therapy. I know my limits and I am not opposed to public schools or teachers, I am opposed to the suits behind the scenes making decisions for kids they will never meet and failing them with a one-size-fits-all curriculum. I love teachers. I am a teacher. My Dad was a teacher. My MIL was a teacher. I may be a school librarian one day. So… I am NOT opposed to public schools, just the education that the teachers are forced to push on the children. Teaching all year with the goal of testing in the last month of school, instead of the goal being true learning and education, doesn’t sit well with me. Using that systems, the goals are high test scores, which do not prove one has learned anything. Most of all, labeling a child “ahead” or “behind” when 99% of children are learning just how they were created to learn is unfair. That’s my biggest problem with a one-size-fits-all system. Children are not the same across the board and labeling them smart or stupid will not make the system work.

Today, I wish that I had been homeschooled during the elementary years. I was sorta’ homeschooled in high school, through the local college alternative high school system. And I graduated early. Homeschooling works. Very well. Here’s why… relentless learning. The goal of home education is supporting each person in his education so that he can manage his own learning. Rather than focusing on testing or curriculum, my goal is to make it possible for the boys to develop strong thinking and learning habits. The facts and skills we acquire are simply an avenue in which to do this.

How can I make sure I am inspiring my students? How can I encourage them and come alongside them to mentor their education? That’s the point of this. That’s the point of homeschooling and this is what I hope to convey as the overall message as I write my book for people who need to know that we, homeschoolers, are not ruining their grandchildren or loved ones. Finding a way to tell the world that not only are we not trying to imitate school at home, but we are actually trying to do the opposite of what institutions do, is tricky. It goes against the grain of all we are taught. I hope to really trash that whole school of thought.

As noted, here’s a list of my favorite reads. These teachers taught me how to homeschool, as did my children. But these women have been instrumental in teaching my kids how to read and write and become self-guided learners. When I need a refresher or my child is ready to move on from one age range to another, I turn to these resources. There are many more (many, many more), but these are like homeschool bibles to me. I am going to list them by name and author not in any kind of order. Pretty much how they are sitting on my table. Now, I know there are many awesome books written that I don’t have on my list… these are the ones that inspire me the most, but not by any means the only ones that I have learned from. First I list homeschool books, then I list the grammar, reading, and writing books that I read to inspire me and teach me so I can inspire and teach my kids to speak and write well.

Homeschooling:

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Series Volumes; there are 12.

Dr. Ruth Beechick’s Homeschool Answer Book by Ruth Beechick and Debbie Strayer

Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt

Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola

The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison

More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax

50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share: Things We Wish We’d Known compiled by Bill and Diana Waring

Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learning by Lori Pickert

Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling by Diana Waring

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto

Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling

Grammar; Reading, Writing Resources I couldn’t homeschool without…

The Bedford Handbook by Diana Hacker

Primary Language Lessons (inspiration when we run dry)

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Writers INC: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning

Write Source 2000: A Guide to Writing, Thinking, & Learning

Glencoe Language Arts: Grammar and Composition Handbook

Learning to love to learn again

We are only as sick as our secrets. I’m going to let you in on why I have been writing from a detached state of mind. Why I have gone weeks without writing when it used to be every other day. Why I have let my blog go a little. And then I want to share with you why I hope to start writing like my old self again soon.

I got run down and sick, physically. My body was getting hit with one procedure and treatment after another and I felt sick and tired all the time. Only leaving the house for library trips and kid’s classes, I avoided social situations as well. My self-confidence sank lower each month. And instead of being a mother who loves to live and experience and learn and read… and then write about all of that, it was all I could do to get by. And there goes the person, the woman, good-bye Jackie. I let go of my individuality. I let go of the part of myself that connects to a Spirit and exists without my husband and kids and I became what I needed to be. I did wife and mom stuff. I cleaned and cooked and homeschooled the bare minimum, but I wasn’t living anymore. I stopped putting on make up (which was only minimal organic mineral make-up to begin with) and I stopped caring about my hair. My WEN sat untouched as did my neglected roots and tips. I used garbage product on my hair which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I went to cosmetology school a while back so I am serious about caring for my locks. My go-to wardrobe? Sweats. And lots of them. Big, dreary sweatshirt hoodies. This was more than homeschool burn out. More than motherhood burn out. I was burned out on life. And I am still making my way out from under that statement.

So as I looked for encouragement in other blogs I found my usual favorites. The ones that have free printables and digitally scrapbooked lay-outs and Homeschool 101 e-books. But nowhere to be found was the nitty-gritty truth of what I was looking for. I wanted to know that others “out there” had felt this way too. My job as a homeschool mom is to make sure my kids are well educated (shh, another secret, it’s the job of all moms to come alongside their child in his or her education, not just homeschoolers; that’s why kids have tons of homework and need to be read to at home), however I am a full-time educator. And because I was simply trying to survive, there was nothing to write about.

For almost a decade I have been reading and writing about mentored education. Natural learning. Homeschooling. Mentored education is done differently than classroom education because it is 100% tailored to the kid. There’s no learning a little bit about everything, every year. It’s more in-depth, just like math tutoring is more in-depth than a math class. I wanted to be the best I could be; to become an expert in my field, in mentored education. I studied and earned the title “Certified Educational Consultant” with a fancy little diploma to hang above my desk. With it I could have gone into schools and worked with librarians and teachers to develop reading programs and incentives, but I didn’t want to do that. I don’t want to sell myself and try to change a system that little ol’ me couldn’t change anyway. I reached the goal simply because I loved to learn about learning. And when I learn about topics that inspire me, I am better equipped to inspire my children. I reached the goal of learning to educate because it is what I LOVE to do. When I got physically weak, my creativity followed and I stopped learning and blogging. Sure, I wrote here and there, but I kinda’ gave up on the blog because I wasn’t learning anything new. What was there to write about? I was empty and going through the motions. And it started to go on for a long time. That’s why I haven’t written a good homeschool blog in almost a year. I thought it was the death of my love for educating children.

Then we discovered notebooking as a way of keeping a portfolio and more importantly, as a way of life. And in order to begin I had to do a bit of research on the in’s and out’s and how’s and why’s and it sparked a little flame inside of me. I started to feel creative again. And it led to an entire revelation, which led to this post, which will hopefully lead to blogging the way I used to write. I am going to continue to grow as a home-educator and mentor, then express that passion on here.

I am teaching my kids to be life-long learners, but stopped allowing myself that same privilege. I stopped doing what I’m fighting so hard to protect for my children. To wrap things up before this gets too long, here is what I am championing for my children, THAT I AM MAKING SURE TO ALSO GIVE MYSELF:

~The right to follow my own path creatively as an individual (living by Christ’s life), yet as a person with value other than mothering and wife-ing.

~Remember to follow my interests and take responsibility for learning new skills and information. To make mistakes and try again. To stay interested in something, anything, even when I don’t feel well.

~To live and model in my own life what I would like to see in my children as far as education goes. We already try to do that spiritually and all that jazz. Academically, I want them to see that learning is not memorizing. Learning is so much fun that mommy has a hard time being torn away from studying in order to have a movie night. That’s how awesome it is to have passion.

~To set goals and work towards them. I used to write and get ‘picked up’ for this and that and I took to so much pride in putting together a portfolio of what I’ve learned and written about in homeschooling. Standing on the shoulders of our pioneering homeschool moms, I have so much to be thankful for. Such a beautiful terrain ahead of me!

I am more likely to help the boys and guide them to achieve whatever they want, if I live it and model it in my own life.

Thank you for reading my humble little blog. No free printables. No perfect homeschooling here with lot’s of “how-to” articles… we have enough of those. They are needed, but so are the blaringly, brutally honest, what-life-is-really-like-each-day type posts. I am that kind of blogger. I have many homeschool bloggers on my blogroll… all amazing. Most of them are the ones who blog commercially for newbies or those who need a refresher, others are like me. We are all pretty awesome. Read them if you get a minute.

Anyway, as I am setting new goals for myself and working towards them I shall keep the posts coming. I hope. I really do love writing about all of the wonderful lessons and revelations and hot topics that keep us homeschool moms at the tip top of our game.

Have a good Thursday Friends!

Love,

Jackie

p.s. I really want to post this now, but don’t have time to edit so I will fix my grammar errors later tonight. Unless I intentionally left them in because I write “that” way. I like starting sentences with and because that’s how I talk. I don’t teach my kids to write that way though. From them I expect perfection. 🙂 j/k

making plans for a fun week of school…

Next week husband will be out of town for work. Man, I wish some of my girlfriends lived closer. I would love to get together for a girl’s night here with chocolate, wine and/or coffee, and so much talking that we interrupt each other non-stop. I am so thankful for the phone and facebook and connecting from afar, but nothing beats a girl’s night. It’s what I miss most about Florida, besides my daily 2 hours at the gym (which included a shower in complete peace). Unfortunately since I am not close enough, emotionally or familiar enough with the women here, both in church and hs groups, to have a girl’s night, I am going to have fun with the kids and change the schedule a bit in order to make things as awesome as they can be…

My husband is leaving, which I don’t love, but I will love eating vegetarian/vegan for a week with the kids. My oldest is a strict vegetarian and I am mostly veggie too. Our youngest want to eat vegetarian, but so far I say no simply because he is waaay too picky to be vegetarian. He would actually be a carbatarian, but for a few days it will be okay. So we are going to eat the foods I would make if it was just me and the kids.

I also may take them to a movie (thanks mom and dad!) with gift certificates we got at Christmas. Maybe we skip school and see a matinee or maybe after dinner. Whenever we choose is fine because it’s just us. I am also using the opportunity to make paper bag school projects. What is that you don’t ask? Well… after watching tons of tutorials on how to make paper bags books I am passing along the skill to my children. We’ll make book report bag, write our own book, book bags, make nature journal book bags, and paint art books. It’ll be fun and I’ll have a ton of pictures to post.

In Florida I have 3 nieces, one is a baby, but the other two are old enough to appreciate gifts for Valentine’s Day. So we’ll be making them little craft thingies for Love Day. Also, I may break out the sewing machine I got for Christmas (for the first time) so I can make Mother’s Day gifts and curtains for my kitchen. The family in the house behind us down the hill can watch me cook and do dishes at night. Also, the house across the street from them. And I know, I know, Mother’s Day is a little way’s off, but I have no memory of how to use the sewing machine so it will be a lot of trial and error before I get the gift to look just how I need it to look. Mom if you are reading this… I promise it will be something you like. No home-made pin cushions or anything like that. Also, this year, in my very large family of 3 brothers, one brother in law, 3 sister in laws (one is not technically married to my brother, but they parent very closely so I consider her a SIL), and a SIL on my husband’s side. We have 4 nephews and 3 nieces. In addition, one of the families is in the process of adopting. And I recently found out that come September someone from my extremely large family may be having another little one. Once I get the “go-ahead” I’ll be a little less cryptic, but I will need to make an extra special Mother’s Day gift for this lady. I have something very special in mind and need to get working on that project this week too.

Projects are fun. They fill the desire to create and inspire me even further artistically. Like Dr. Seuss said, I have a million impossible thoughts a day, and that’s just before breakfast! I like making creative gifts for others. When I make “things” for myself I am bored. The only non-household/homeschool running journal I keep for myself is a mixed media art journal that is messy and beautiful and makes me feel like a child with that first art set I got on my birthday. My kids are the same way… they love to create. Very little of what they make is for their own personal use. It’s pretty awesome.

Keep you guys updated on my week of fun arts and crafts. Today is a serious day, though. I have IC/PBS (interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome) and it’s being kept at bay by a procedure I had done called hydrodilation which stretches and numbs and eases most all of the pain. So last week I felt like I had the worst bladder infection of my life and I figured it was time for another hydrodilation. in fact, it was a bladder infection and not the IC. How do I know? I went to the doctor a few weeks ago, was diagnosed with a kidney infection, and placed on antibiotics. I felt fine for a while, until the sting-y bladder feeling. That was Monday. I figured it would go away on its own. I had already been to the doctor and so with the busy-ness of life I didn’t want to go back. Well… the last 2 nights have been hell. I have been in such pain right where my kidneys are that I can barely sleep. I’m confined to 3 or 4 positions that I can comfortably remain without screaming. So as we aim to lower our medical bills before we get sued/go to collections, I am not going to the ER, but waiting for Urgent Care Center to open. My doctor, whose been with me through everything, works in an office that is joined with Urgent Care so they have all my records already. And I know the staff well. I really, really hope that I didn’t wait too long to seek treatment. I hope that they can give me something strong enough to numb the pain so that I can sleep for more than an hour without waking, moaning, and wincing in #7 pain. You know, the scale of pain… 10 being the worst ever. Mine is certainly inching up the scale a little more each day and I have reached a 7. So as you can see, although I have big plans for this week, once again, my stupid urinary tract system may put a wrench in my plans. I’ll keep you posted.

I know I wrote that I was done updating you on health problems in this blog, and believe me I keep so much of that stuff private, but because the post was about all we plan to do this week, I needed to throw in my disclaimer… if I cannot move about or shall I be admitted for IV antibiotics for a few days, this may be an “art themed” week as well as a health and compassion and cooperation themed week. I am also in too much pain NOT to write about this. God, I hope the doctor can help me start feeling better today.

Happy Sunday Friends!

Love,

Jackie

Notebooking, 2

As I wrote yesterday, we are now a journaling homeschool bunch. I bought Smash Books for the boys over Christmas break and they loved have the freedom to doodle, draw, write, paste collected articles and pics, and to record anything they wanted to remember. In watching how much they learned and how naturally they took to their notebooks, I remembered a mom I had met online who used notebooking as her main method of homeschooling. The kids read or are read to and then they create a notebook page based on what they just heard.

At times they will have a flood of information and sketches to fill their pages and other times I (mom) will need to guide them with dictation, copywork, and mini-book report type prompts. Language art gets incorporated into all other subjects; many times history, science, math and language arts are combined as we read and explore a biography or an event that helped shape our world today. In this post I am going to run through a sampling of books I found throughout the years and how they are lending themselves to notebooking. Pretty soon I’ll have some really nice pictures to go along with my posts, but the boys are just getting the hang of this so I’m not quite ready to start posting pics just yet.

*Side note… we have always incorporated notebook pages into hs’ing, but in the form of binders. Each boy had a binder for each main subject and all papers went into that binder. I can see how this would be a great idea as it can be easily added to with worksheets and all kinds of extras with the simple click of a hole-punch. For our family it didn’t excite them. The binders seems to be too much and it was not personal for them. With the composition book (one per child at a time) has made the process seem more “theirs” and more permanent. It also provides one linear book of a portfolio that is all theirs. Should we need to add a page or a snippet of an article, we use methods taken from Dinah Zike’s Notebook Foldables or ideas from The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook.

Each of the boys has 3 reading lists; one for science, one for history, and one for everything else… stories, literature, poetry, readers and read-alouds.

For the younger boys:

Anything written by Thornton Burgess, the One Small Square Series, Christian Liberty Nature Readers, or the If You Lived When… series. These books cover science and social studies topics. I use A Child’s Book of American History as a spine and Usborne’s Series of Science Encyclopedia and Usborne for Beginners science readers as a cover-all to make sure we don’t miss any important topics. My middle child loves History for Little Pilgrims even though I’m not super fond of the religiousness of it, but it gets him excited about history and our family tree and so I read it with him despite my distaste for it. It’s not so bad, just really heavy on the Christian History.

Every single week we designate one day to science projects, nature study, picture study, and observation recording of ongoing projects and experiments. The other 4 days we notebook at least three separate topics each day. Readers don’t get a notebook page as we use Sonlight Language Arts and follow their notebook pages. They read from their book and then do the activities in the SL manual. I supplement with Explode the Code and sometimes my own handwriting or copywork assignments.

When working with the younger boys, we open to the first, or next page, read the spread, copy any important words, dates, people, or events into our notebook. After we’ve absorbed all we can out of the book, it’s time to expand on the notes we took. Mommy writes the notes as the kids dictate them to me until they are strong writers. I provide tracing paper liberally so that the boys can sketch accurate illustrations to go along with their definitions and descriptions. Up until 3rd grade all of our history and science books have excellent illustrations. We are all very visual learners in this house… even mama:)

For moral and character reading, I chose Family Time Bible, Window on the World, Aesop’s Fables, Little Pilgrim’s Progress, and I heard Good News Today.

Big Bird writes mini reports in his journal. Anything he finds noteworthy. He also copies any words in bold to be looked up later, important names, dates and events. His Sonlight language arts has given him a firm foundation in pre-writing and note-taking. His books include reading lists we come up with together. Mostly classics… Indian in the Cupboard, Charlotte’s Web, Peter Pan, etc. The Science and History reading list was put together using A Child’s First Book of American History, and Science Dictionaries and Encyclopedias as a spine. I borrow most of the books from Childhood of Famous Americans series list. The books include Thomas A. Edison, Betsy Ross, John Glenn, Buffalo Bill, and Neil Armstrong. Beyond Five in a Row manuals have wonderful ideas and outlines on how to turn these books into unit studies. My absolute favorite book list for this age range is in the Young Patriot Series. We used these as read-alouds for Big Bird when he was just a little guy and he LOVED them. Now as history/science readers he knows he is going to enjoy them. And hopefully as a result we will have a composition books full of gorgeous notebook pages by summertime. Come gardening and homesteading time those notebooks will be full of farmer’s notes. (I really want baby chicks… we’ll see if hubby agrees by then!)

So here it is… my super quick mini-explanation of the notebook schooling we are doing. I hope to expand on the book list and the books we chose to leave out for now as well (such as Apologia), along with our reasons.

My next post, in the coming days will list all of the wonderful benefits of notebooking as an option over prepared curriculum or other methods. I want to write about how nicely it fits in with Charlotte Mason and unit studies. Notebooking as a primary means of homeschooling seems to really prepare students for college and the rigorous demands for well written papers and a thesis. I also hope to write an entire post… several actually, on nature study and hands-on science study resources for young boys. Through trial and error I have found some real gems. In the most random of places sometimes. I will gather up all of those book titles and why they are 5-star homeschool resources in my eyes. Isn’t it wonderful how the homeschool community works? We are always really excited to share anytime something works well… that’s me right now. Thank you for letting me share. 🙂

Thanks for reading my little blog. I sure do enjoy writing about homeschooling and hope that you enjoy reading. Please feel free to post a link to your blog if you have some advice or simply encouragement to share. I appreciate all feedback.

Have a wonderful week!

Love,

Jackie