We Are Not That Kind of Homeschooling Family

Every time I read one of those “a day in our life as homeschoolers” posts, I feel as if I’ve accidentally wandered into another dimension. We have about as much in common with your standard homeschooling blogger family as we do with French royalty, street musicians or hermit crabs.

We don’t have a typical day.  The way our homeschool looks varies so wildly from season to season, month to month, crisis to crisis, joy to joy.

In the 10 years or so that we’ve been officially homeschooling…

We’ve homeschooled through trips to Florida, Maine, California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina — and probably 20 or more trips to play with the Bakers in Nebraska and a hundred day trips to South Dakota. hpim1149.JPG We’ve homeschooled through six family surgeries, Victoria’s cancer and three new babies. vhospital girlshosp I’ve homeschooled through daily migraines with auras, high risk pregnancies, mono, physical therapy for my chronic neck pain, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that was so bad I spent months on the couch piled high with my kids and dozens of library books to keep them occupied.

Daryl has homeschooled through “end stage osteoarthritis” in his knee, elbow and ankle especially, and a completely destroyed hip socket.

We’ve homeschooled through 8 years of the Wilder Pageant taking up most of the months of June and July, along with various other plays and performances.  (In that time, Victoria and Anna  have been seen by roughly 80,000 audience members!) We’ve homeschooled through the deaths of good friends, beloved pets and loved ones.

We’ve homeschooled through the Feingold Program, a GF/DF diet and various kids going vegan, vegetarian and raw (plus several years of me cooking a vegan diet to cure my CFS).

We’ve homeschooled through our own bouts with depression, angst, anxiety, phobias and personal crises.

We’ve homeschooled through Civil War Days, History Fest, Pioneer Village, The Betsy Tacy Society, the Petroglyphs, telegraphs, old time gamblers, the Ingalls Family and Walnut Grove, old time musical instruments, old time games, the atlatl, flintknapping, winter counts, prairie life, Dakota life, flim flams and Civil War balls. civilhuckstersOld iPodWe’ve homeschooled through raising dozens of monarch butterflies, taking part in real archeological digs, watching kittens being born, dissecting owl pellets, taking part in survival camp, experimenting at the kitchen table and using science conferences, CSI workshops, nature walks, memberships to zoos and science museums, Netflix shows, iPod apps, board games, ant farms and close encounters with all different wildlife. We’ve homeschooled through fixations with lapbooks, altered books, the Civil War, photography, artist trading cards, Harry Potter, Tokio Hotel, the Gold Rush, Twilight, Pokemon, LEGOs, fairies, endangered animals, Mario, Taylor Swift, Germany, Hannah Montana, Van Gogh, tigers, the 39 Clues, trains, social justice, abandoned houses, Minecraft, Homestuck, Sadie Rose, crime shows, screenwriting, astrophysics, ghost hunting and anything medical. p101999.JPG We’ve homeschooled through potty training, first periods, lost friendships, crushes and the tween/teen years (if you haven’t yet entered the middle school and teen years as a parent, you may not be aware of what an accomplishment it is to survive those years intact).

We’ve homeschooled through financial crises, personal crises and general malaise.

And at every turn, our homeschooling was different. The only things that are consistent in our homeschool are:

  • Our house is almost always messy, and all of us (except Daryl) are generally behind in chores.
  • Our house is almost always noisy.  You will hear talking, hooting, laughing, barking, bickering and far too much TV.
  • We are generally together.  The kids congregate wherever we are, no matter how much they say they’re annoyed by noise and each other.  😉
  • We talk all the time.  It is the biggest way we homeschool, by sharing interesting information (the kids too) with each other.
  • Our house is cluttered.  We collect everything from books to bones to crystals.  We have all kinds of science gadgets, strange musical instruments, fossils, art supplies, electronic toys, materials for projects and assorted nifties.
  • We love to read.  We have more bookcases than I can count, including a floor to ceiling bookcase wall on our front porch, and we still don’t have room for all of our books.  We are always reading — library books, Kindle books, antique books, Calvin and Hobbes books, psychology textbooks, gluten free cookbooks, giant astronomy books, you name it.
  • We love to learn, and to share what we learn with each other.
  • We love adventure.  We seek out travels and new things to try, whether it’s archery or a camp across the country.
  • We love to homeschool — however we happen to do it that day.

high school plansIMG_2906mudOld iPod

timessquareLast weekend, we were homeschooling at Tiffany’s in Nebraska again.  That involved learning to knit, making new friends (and finally meeting a lovely HS family I’ve known online for years!), photography at the lake, talking about England, Wii games, reading about Einstein and sampling chocolate, among other things!

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We got home yesterday. Today, we rest.  Okay, sort of.  Daryl, Victoria and Fiona have made a run to Windom for some groceries for the next couple of days.  The boys are watching Cyber Chase on Netflix, Anna is writing a book, and I’m trying to catch up on writing and cleaning (but instead am blogging!).

It should be noted that I am still in my pajamas.  And I’m okay with that.  🙂

Tomorrow, Alex has an appointment in Sioux Falls for a recheck from his surgery. We’ll probably stop by the zoo or the science museum while we’re in town.

The next day, we leave for Rochester, where we’ll be in a hotel extended stay suite next to the Mayo while Daryl gets a new hip.  It will be me, five kids, and a dog.

Victoria will be accompanying her dad for his day of tests and classes beforehand, and then we will all visit him when we can until he’s released on Sunday.

That should be quite an adventure.

I have a mental list of all sorts of things I want to accomplish today, on the homeschool front, the cleaning front and the work/personal front.  I won’t get to half of it and I’ll still be behind in everything, and I’ll go to bed with a sore neck and a pile of kids surrounding us still wanting to yap and hang out with us.

And it’s the perfect homeschool day to me.  🙂


Checking In and Catching Up

What a long couple of weeks it has been.

Alex had surgery (adenoids and tonsils removed) with a difficult and painful recovery that’s still ongoing, Daryl saw doctors at the Mayo and scheduled surgery to replace his hip, I had a birthday that we celebrated out of town, and a long-time online homeschooling friend (a beloved mother of six) died in a heartbreaking accident.

I have been too busy, absent, grieving, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed to do much in the way of writing of any sort.

But we are slowly inching back towards normalcy (if that word could ever be used in our family).  I feel that’s important.

We’ve managed a bit of homeschooling and fun despite all the pain, busyness and tragedy.

We watched a bunch of the fabulous history lovers videos and learned about the French Revolution, Henry VII’s wives (Anna’s favorite video — warning:  Henry, Henry, Henry will be stuck in your head FOREVER), gladiators, the Renaissance, Chinese Dynasties and such.

I had Jack do lots of copywork of his name, address, phone number and state, so he can write all that really well and practice his (just a little bit dreadful) handwriting.

Alex did Dreambox, which he loves, with his dad.

Anna is back to work on a previous novel.  She’s also working on a top-secret project which I can’t post about here in case someone reads it.  😉

I’ve been writing out math and doing it side by side with Jack.

I found an addition practice test my grandmother sent last night and went over it with Alex just for fun. He knew most of them and pretty quickly figured out most of the harder ones.  Clever little guy!

I’ve been researching Vedic math.  Fascinating stuff.  Expect a blog post or article about that soon, as I consider it a really brilliant way to teach math, kind of like short division.

I gave Victoria free reign over a bunch of my mother’s old books.  She was a prison psychologist and for a while she was also a college psychology professor, so she had some great textbooks.  Toria especially got into the one about psychological tests, and we all talked about what we saw in my mom’s Rorchacht cards when some friends were over last week.

Jack and I have been playing Elementeo, which he loves.  Alex always wants to play too and while it’s supposed to be for older kids he can play pretty easily at 5, too.  I am so impressed with that game!

We’ve been doing a fun simple fun things like colored shaving cream play.

Victoria went with her dad to the Mayo and learned a lot there, plus texted me updates and pictures of his x-rays and such throughout the day to keep me updated back at the hotel with the kids.

Quiz:  Can you find the bad knee?

The kids swam and played at the hotel.

And we stopped in at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on the way.

Victoria even got an awesome trench coat from her great grandmother.

We’ve also been reading books, talking, cooking, playing and all the usual mayhem.

Daryl is scheduled for hip replacement surgery on February 1st.  That should be quite an adventure for all of us.

But it’ll work out.  Despite all the pain and the sorrows and the chaos, I still know that life really is magical and we’re all so lucky. I’ll enjoy every minute that I get on this lovely planet, and every minute I get with these wonderful children and the incredible man I married and all of the fabulous friends I’m fortunate to have in my life (online and off) and fortunate to have known.

And now, I promised to play Elementeo with a certain nine year-old…


Off to a Good Start

I’m liking 2013 already.

Yesterday was such a fun day!  We had our friends Nancy and Logan over for a New Year’s feast, and it was the perfect way to start off a new year.

We had masses of food, all of it gluten free and almost all of it dairy free, and still (if I do say so myself) fabulously delicious.  We had southern fried fish, garlic mashed potatoes, vegetarian gravy, Victoria’s orange cranberry sauce, cheese stuffed mini sweet peppers, Nancy’s deviled eggs, pear cake and a crazy-sweet pear buckle.

We all stuffed ourselves and then talked and drank wine (Well, Nancy and I did! The kids drank eggnog and such) and then we watched Sherlock (highly recommended!) and talked and laughed and visited until after midnight.

Good friends really do make life so much better.  I’m so glad we have their family as chosen family and that they live near enough to visit so often.  Logan occasionally slips up and “our” when he talks about our house or family, which I absolutely love.  He is definitely a part of our house and family.  🙂

I didn’t get a single picture.  I was busy enjoying.

Well, until bedtime, when I found that little cutie above asleep next to her daddy.

In any case, I think it bodes well for 2013.

And in the spirit of making goals and dreaming big, here’s some goals for the new year….

  • To get back into read-alouds, both educational (like A Little History of the World) and family (like the Little House books).
  • To make more time for one-on-one activities with all of the kids.
  • To get back on track with Toria’s 9th grade plan.
  • To get back on track with Anna’s 7th grade plan.
  • To log our books (Is that even possible with a family who reads this many books????)
  • To buy Suji’s awesome HS planner and really keep it up (Is that even possible with a mother as flaky as I am???).
  • To teach the kids far more recipes and give them more meals to prepare.
  • To sort out our library fines (we accidentally amassed ridiculously high fines when Victoria had cancer and her surgeries because we had dozens of books out last summer and completely forgot about it for months) so we can stop checking all our books out on Daryl’s card.
  • To get back into weekly library visits with insane numbers of books checked out.  Insane numbers of library books are such wonderful things.
  • To watch more educational you-tube videos together on a regular basis.
  • To make crafting a regular part of our days again.
  • To do some sort of near-daily PE, bad weather or not.
  • To read loads more books to Alex.
  • To do loads more science with Alex and Jack.
  • To support each of the kids’ interests and talents as much as possible, with our money and with our time. This means buying loads of science supplies, art supplies, movie making apps, cool educational books that fascinate the kids, and so on.  It means making time to teach Jack to solder and playing Elementeo with Alex and taking the family to neat destinations that fuel their passions.  It means stocking the house with woodworking supplies and science gadgets and fabulous books and all of the little things that make my kids squeal with excitement.  I want 2013 to be the year of being pampered in our passions.

That last one is my big goal for the year. Those others are ideals to strive for, but that is my primary goal.  I love that saying that education is not the filling of a pot but the fueling of a fire, and I want to add as much fuel to my children’s fires as possible this year.

And to get us all healthy again. That one is a given.  I feel optimistic about it.  🙂

My word for 2013 is vitality — in body, mind and heart.

Wishing you the best in 2013 too!

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