June 2009


Was the nest of bunnies yesterday Opal’s & Butterscotch’s?  Or just Butterscotch’s?

The answer – all those babies were just Butterscotch’s!  I’m pretty shocked myself.  She was a little doe and I would have never guessed it.  I recounted last night and we only had eight.  Then recounted again and had seven!  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Two of them had crawled right out of the teepee.  We found them burrowed off elsewhere.

So, how did we figure out the mystery?  We found Opal’s nest of babies waiting for us this morning.  There may be 9 or they may be 10.  We won’t know for a while as she actually attacked me during the counting.  I have a scratch to prove it.  I’m a little happy though to see such a good protective mama!  Good litters!

Also, found this quote today on the Tapestry forum as I read through their Philosophy of Education for the various ages and stages of our children.  It so completely encompassed what I’ve been seeking for a while and I pray I’m not overstepping my boundaries when I say this is confirmation of our choice to go with Tapestry.

Qupte taken directly from Tapestry of Grace:

“The Rhetoric Stage (high schoolers)

Philosophy of Education: The High School Years

The High School years have been pure joy to me! If you knew me better, you’d know what an Act of God that statement represents!

At first, I must admit that I was terrified and rebellious. I did not want to home school High School. The prospect overwhelmed me. I was not strong in math, and had four younger students as well. But, when I submitted to the Lord’s plan in my life, He graciously led me, step by step, down a wonder-ful path.

I have come to see that parents who give way to fear and decide to put their children in schools purely because of a lack of confidence really miss a special chance to finish the job they started and enjoy the sweet fruit of fellowship with their teens.

Now, I have the privilege to share with you in fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

I am certain that if you are in faith that God desires you to home school your High School aged children that He will provide all you need, no matter how inadequate you may feel today. Humility is a great starting place, and this curriculum is a part of His provision!”

Well, I don’t know if I can give the colony the credit or not, but we have another successful litter!  For those keeping score that’s 0/3 successful litters and 0/10 live babies out of our previous hutch system vs. 2/2 – 14/16 babies still alive in our colony system.

It’s getting pretty exciting here.  Chocolate Fudge a.k.a Fluffy a.k.a whatever name they call her on any given day gave birth on Sunday morning.  She attempted to bury a dead kit on Tuesday and successfully buried her entire litter.  We dug them out and all were fine except the dead kit and one other that was squished in the burial process.  We removed the dead kits and she resumed caring for them.  They are all adorable, although I’m a bit sad that it was the two chocolate buns that died.

Tiramisu gave birth this morning to seven healthy kits.  It appears we have a white, two solid blacks, one solid brown, and three broken (speckled) babies.   She is doing a WONDERFUL job of caring for them and the nest is really beautiful.  I’ll post pictures of it soon.

I went out there late this morning only to find Opal making a grand nest for her babies.  We expect them today or tomorrow.  Butterscotch is also expecting today or tomorrow.  Unfortunately, she’s young and seems to be pulling hair randomly all over the colony pen.  Hopefully she’ll find a special spot for her little ones as well.

The young does are incredibly curious about the nests.  Opal and Tira are very defensive of their area, while Fluffy is definitely not.  But she’s such a space cadet anyway.  I barely hold on hope that she’ll raise all seven of them.   I’ll try to post pictures today or tomorrow.  It’s been incredibly exciting around here with 16 new buns and expecting more.  We found a few Monarch eggs yesterday plus one teeny tiny catepillar… How fun!  Incubator hatching is expected to take place on Sunday and I’ll try to post pictures of that as well.  So far it appears 34/37 eggs have survived to Day 17.

New update:  We caught Butterscotch giving birth in Opal’s nest.  There are two separate bundles of buns in the nest – one group of 6 and one group of 4.  The question is – same Mama or different Mama?  Opal and Butterscotch are NOT happy at having the same nest and are fighting.  I don’t know if Opal gave birth in there before Butterscotch or if she just wants her nest back.  Butterscotch we literally SAW giving birth to babies, so we know at least some of them are hers.

Pictures of the colony and rabbit teepees.

Colony eating greens.

Colony eating greens.

Junior does checking out the new digs.

Junior does checking out the new digs.

Tiramisu's Burrow

Tiramisu's Burrow

Above you can see how Tira enclosed her teepee.  She has filled in the front and left the back open.  Inside her burrow the entire front is filled in.  But within the middle is a bundle of fur, and if you notice, there is a lot of BROWN fur.  She doesn’t have brown hair so she’s been stealing fur from other mamas.

Inside - There are 7 babies in there!

Inside - There are 7 babies in there!

Fluffy's Nest 'O Buns

Fluffy's Nest 'O Buns

Fluffy's Mini Me

Fluffy's Mini Me

And the saga yet continues.

I’ve been very blessed by the responses to my question posed over at The Well Trained Mind forums.  I’ve been a fan of Susan Wise Bauer’s book for a long time.  I think I’ve owned it since Ana was in 1st grade and bought the revised edition when it came out.  I’ve had the pleasure of using The Story of the World Vol. I-IV, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide, and all of her editions of First Language Lessons.

I asked some BTDT (been there, done that) Mamas to respond to which they would find more beneficial to use – Sonlight or Tapestry of Grace.  I’ve come to learn, over time, there is so much value to be gleaned from mothers who have walked the path….  And I was anxious to see how they would compare the differences between the two for an older child, for utilizing in high school.

I’ll willingly admit that I don’t know if Ana is going to college.  She is certainly very academic but as I don’t wish to raise a feminist, the whole college question is hard for me.  I’d just as soon (ducking) have her find a mature and competent, Godly young man and get married at 20 and live her life as see her sent off to be under the tutelage of others.  The thought quite frankly scares me to death.  The liberalism taught at college isn’t just a course, but a whole body bathing, washing children in feminism and a liberal attitude.

But I do FIRMLY believe that we should equip and prepare her for whatever God might have planned for her life.  And, for our family, for Ana specifically,  this will include what some might call a “rigorous academic college prepatory program.”

I think you’ll find their responses very thought provoking.  Never once did it occur to me that she could plan her own days with this program.  I did know that Tapestry is considered the more challenging of the two programs, requiring much more thinking and writing.

Sonlight vs. Tapestry Take Two – High School Years

Moreover, I was grateful to be led to this link which showed how Tapestry has gone ahead and broken down the material into high school credits.

So, for now, I’ve made a decision.  We’re going to purchase Tapestry, one unit.  I’ve not yet decided on Year 2 or Year 3.  I still have some time.  The difficult decision has been made and we’ll see how this fall’s unit goes.   I think Ana will love having the control and freedom of planning her learning.

Ah, I’ve been meaning to begin a little installment of featuring some really amazing Work at Home Mamas.  But, as many things I just INTEND to do, but never q-u-i-t-e make it, it just hasn’t happened.

This particular mama I was able to beg to feature a couple weeks ago and so I’ve stolen her pictures with permission.  Let me entertain you….

Welcome to Wild Child Woolies.

Obviously, photos can speak for themselves, but in case they aren’t speaking loudly enough 😉 let me elaborate.   I’ve had the pleasure of owning one set from Wild Child Woolies and they were very well put together.  There was only one drawback that I could find…  Sigh.  I was scared to let the child wear them.  They were made for Abigail in a really lovely dyed interlock with an incredible embroidered fairy.  It was top notch work all the way around and I’ll admit that they really made you understand the beauty of interlock!

Hangin' with my gnomies!

Hangin' with my gnomies!

LOL, and obviously she’s clever too!

Okay, that’s adorable, but these are just precious!  A good reason for anyone to have a baby girl… Like anyone needs an excuse for another girl. 🙂

I love the dyes on this one!

I love the way she dyed this one!

For your little cupcake

For your little cupcake

So, you can see why I wanted to feature Wild Child Woolies.  She is one talented Mama and I really think she’s making something pretty unique to Hyena Cart.  She’s stocking tonight at Fresh if you want to take a peek.  But because I’m not a meanie, I’ll give you a little teaser.

Fresh Stocking

Fresh Stocking

And who wants to settle for it anyway?

Look, it’s a popular thing to complain about your husband.  Make it a rule – NEVER do it.  Ever.  It’s a breach of trust.  It is a forbidden topic.  It’s stabbing him in the back.  Don’t do it.  Don’t laugh at him in public.  Don’t mock him.  Don’t make fun of him to your sister or your mother or your aunts.  Woman!  What kind of crazy are you?  A foolish woman plucks down her house with her own hands.  The wise woman BUILDS it up.  Build up your husband.  Don’t tear him down.

Beyond that, let’s talk about our “Honey, Do…” lists.  Ya’all know you nag on him on the same thing.  Probably have for the last 13 years.  “Honey, PLEASE don’t take off your socks under the covers.”  “BABY!  The hamper!!  Just put your underwear in the HAMPER!”

If it hasn’t worked in the last 13 years, WHY do you continue to nag?  Do you REALLY think that somehow, some way, all of a sudden, your nagging is going to miraculously work.  Bwwwahhaaahhaaa, I laugh at you!

Albert Einstein
“Insanity : Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Quit being insane.

On another board, and I’m SO glad this young mama asked the question, it was asked what to do with a husband who refuses to do simple things, like take out the garbage / recyclables.  After all, he didn’t have a lot of household tasks, this was pretty much it.  And yet, it caused a lot of dissension between them.

Now, we all know our world really operates on the 50/50 rule in marriage, which is, to put it bluntly, crap.

This post was born of a lot of frustration.  So many of these young mamas and wives have been raised up in the “let’s have it all fair and equal” world and they’ve been sold a bill of goods.  Too bad they can’t return it and get their $$ back because they’ve been totally ripped off.
Following is the quote from another sweet mama who didn’t understand my previous responses because frankly, I think they went against everything she considered right and good.  And following that my further explanation.

Either you will find this good and useful and use it as fuel to improve your marriage.  OR you’ll write me off as a complete nutjob, anti-feminist who is a “slave” to her husband.  Let me be clear.  I AM a complete nutjob, anti-feminist and I firmly believe there is ONLY freedom in serving.  Everything else is SELF-SERVING and will hold in the bondage of pride, anger, and selfishness.  Those bands are difficult to break.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Original Quote from the other mama:

“So she should expect NOTHING from him and do everything herself to make him happy?  That does not sound like a marriage I want.”

MY RESPONSE:

No, she should nag and scream, still get nothing, end up divorced, have to put her kids in daycare while she works a job or two, and hope nothing bad happens to them in the meantime. I definitely think that’s a better solution.

Okay, sarcasm aside, we have this cultural attitude that says, “HEY!!!! Gimme what I got comin’ to me. It’s fair or equal and if I can’t make everything FAiR (I HATE THAT WORD!) than I’ll make you pay for it by at least making you miserable.” Sorry, it doesn’t fix a marriage. You can’t force fair and equal.

Moreover, she flat out says that he goes to work come one way or the other to provide for the family unless he’s practically at death’s door. I don’t know about you but this ALL comes down to being grateful.

It ALWAYS comes down to being grateful.

I could look around my house and I could be irritated. After all, my dh doesn’t even have to pick up his own socks. I don’t even ask. He leaves his underwear on the bathroom floor. I or the kids feed the goats, chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. and weed the garden. We take out the garbage.

I could totally focus on what he DOESN’T do. And I’d be angry at him most the time. I’d be bitter.

But God gave me this life and for that I’m thankful. He gave me a husband and for that I am thankful. He gave me these children and I’m grateful.

My DH goes to work and works about 10-11 hours per day. He also drives about 20-25 minutes each day. That means he’s putting in about 60 hours a week. He has demands on him, deadlines, and stress that I NEVER have to deal with. If I want to take out garbage at 8AM, I can. If I want to take a nap, I can. If I want to wait to do dishes until 3PM, I can. If I don’t feel like making breakfast and instead want to make the kids brunch, I CAN. I have SO much freedom in my day. I can get on my ‘puter and totally waste time posting on diaperswappers. No one is breathing down my neck deciding how I spend every single minute of my entire day. Can you all GET why he might want to decide his own free time on his only day off????? Why he might just want to sit and NOT think and NOT be told what to do and NOT be yelled at? He answers to someone else every other minute of his day!!!! Why come home only to answer to a different boss? That would suck.

Let me turn it around for you.

Let’s pretend (LOL) I’m an incredibly productive wife. I get up at 5AM, make his lunch, his coffee, and get on with my day. I wake the kids, dress them, smile at them, and make them breakfast. We then have the choice to go to the library or the park. You know why? That freedom was bought and paid for by my husband. Then we come home and we have a nice, slow lunch. No time clock. You know why? It was bought and paid for by my husband. Then, I’m pregnant. And I tell you what, I get tired awfully easily. So I can snuggle up with my baby and my toddler and I can take a nap? You know why? Yup, you guessed it… It was bought and paid for by my husband.

Now, how would I feel after a day of taking care of his kids and working hard EVEN WITH ALL THE FREEDOM THAT I HAVE if he came and was on me to do a list of things – even if it was a short list? It would frustrate me. It would make me feel like he didn’t recognize what I did all day. Hello?! My day didn’t just start when he walked in the door. I had been working all day… All week for that matter! IF we were comparing, you betcha, I put in more hours than he does. But it’s NOT a contest. It’s not a matter of “I work harder than him” or “I do more than him” NO ONE will ever, ever, ever win. You can’t compete with your husband. It’s not a contest. You know why? Because NO ONE wins. You both lose.

And, yeah, I agree with what you said. I don’t think I have a right to demand things of my husband beyond those great things that he has given me. For goodness sakes I GET TO STAY HOME WITH MY KIDS! We’re a family willing to live in a two income world on a one income budget. Do you know how hard that is? Do you know how many moms WANT to stay home with their kids and they can’t? Do you know how many single moms would give anything to have a hard working husband to support them and feed them just so they’re only job in life is to stay home and take care of the house and the kids and take out the garbage?

If you’re thankful, truly thankful for what you have, you don’t spend your time going, “Well, if only………” You spend your time being grateful and doing for that other person. If you’re grateful you don’t think, “Jerk… he’s so lazy for not doing 1-2 things.” You spend your time thinking, “Wow, I’m SO blessed. I get to stay home with my kids.” Recyclables and kitty litter is a pretty small price.

So, no, you’re not going to hear me telling my husband about my “expectations.” I won’t be yelling at him to pick up his underwear OR his socks OR take out the garbage. When he comes home at night, he’ll come home to a hot meal, no honey do list, and a grateful family who are THANKFUL for his sacrifices every single day, when he doesn’t feel like it, when he wants to go fishing, or to the park, or to story hour, or just take a nap, but he goes to work ANYWAY for US.

Marriage IS about sacrifice. It’s never about making sure we all “get our share” that everything is fair and equal. Whoever came up with the 50/50 plan sucks. It takes 100/100. I’m going to give 100% every day. And if I don’t shame on me. And it’s NOT my responsibility to make sure he gives his share. That’s HIS responsibility. He’s an adult. He isn’t accountable to me. He’s accountable to God. If he doesn’t do his part, he doesn’t answer to me.

But I’ll tell you something. I’ve had it both ways. I’ve tried that whole 50/50 thing. It didn’t WORK. It’s a great THEORY, but it does NOT work. It leaves an angry bitter wife and a resentful husband who thinks you don’t notice a damn thing he does, only that which he DOESN’T do. And then I’ve tried this way… This whole pour yourself out for the other person, truly loving and serving the other person, and let me tell you what, I’m not doing it to get results, I’m doing it because THIS is what God wants from me as a wife, as a mother, as a human being. Christ never said, “Well, that guy just sits around the pool all day waiting to be healed, he’s not doing his share, so I’m not going to do my part and heal him.” That wasn’t the way it worked! Christ gave 100%. It didn’t matter if the other person SUCKED. And He inspired a world of change.

Look. You know what doesn’t work. If you want fair, then go for it. But if you want something AMAZING, if you want to have a husband who would live and die for you, try respecting him, serving him, loving him, adoring him. Focus on his good qualities, let the bad pass, and give, give, give, give. I know, it’s crazy! It goes way beyond our culture’s expectations. But you know what? We have a what? 60% divorce rate? Um, yeah, I don’t think I need to be taking advice from the world or what everyone else finds acceptable. I want one of those 1 in 1,000,000 marriages where I’d do ANYTHING for him and he’d live or die for me. And we’ll show our kids what a real marriage is and I never want them thinking that a 50/50 marriage is as good as it gets. Because it’s pathetic compared to what I know a marriage CAN be.

Precious things are gotten ONLY at a very high cost. And sometimes that means giving everything you got and risking getting absolutely NOTHING in return – it’s like a lottery. But, baby, when you hit it, you hit it big. And nothing in the world compares.

Just sweet and simple.  It’s a link to my daughter’s blog, a post from June 3, 2009.  Read it and think of what is truly a treasure, what is valued, what is special, what being blessed really is……..

Ana’s Blog

In December we bought three rabbits with high hopes of being overrun by bunnies.  We were warned that we’d have “bunnies coming out of our ears” but, no such luck.  As a matter of fact, our first litter ended up with one eaten bun (by the mama) and the rest not being taken care of and dying.  The second litter, only three, were attacked by the mama.  The third pregnancy ended up being a false pregnancy.  And then due to an unforeseen event, the girls leaving the hutches open and a dog attack by Legend and Lacey, we lost our Fudge (dark brown doe) a week before we expected her second litter.

Needless to say, here we sit six months later, with our NON prolific bunnies, and no babies yet… Until this morning!

Approximately three weeks ago, we decided to let all of our does live together in a colony setting.  Supposedly it’s less stressful and more natural.   We felt the advantages were two-fold.  The first being just one set of chores – fill one water, one feed trough, and you’re done.  For nine rabbits, one set of chores vs. filling nine water bottles, nine food bowls, et cetera is just a huge perk.  The second perk was completely unexpected and that is, rabbits PLAY!  Who knew?  They groom each other, they fight, they play, and they explore.  Rabbits love platforms, they love to dig through material, they’re just happy, lazy bunnies.   The downside is, of course, now they feel so much more like pets than food.

DH built a nesting box two weeks ago and a ton of baby “tents” for the does this weekend, plus a platform for playing.  The does spent last night building nests of grass and alfalfa, digging out chips, and generally making themselves comfortable.  And this morning?  Well, we were thanked with our first successful litter!  They’ve got round little tums, which shows Mom is feeding them.  They’re well covered, nice and warm in their well built nest.  Could it be?  Finally?  Our first successful litter.  I hardly dared to stick my hand in the nest, but from what I could tell, the count stands at seven.  I wanted so badly to check out their colors, but resisted!  We’ll see in about a week or so when they start poking heads out of the nest.  As for Mama, we treated her with a bit of clover and dandelion greens.  (And, yes, our rabbits are used to greens – it won’t make them ill.)  We’re expecting three more litters this week and if all goes well I’m chalking it up to the colony setting!

A reply came that really embraced a program, Ambleside Online, which is based on the teachings of educator Charlotte Mason.  I started reading the works of Miss Mason back in 2001.   I think there is most definitely something special to be recognized about this early educator.  Though never a parent, she most certainly respected children as people when that just was NOT happening within her time period in England where she taught.

I think that Ambleside is an AMAZING program.  It would actually be my very first choice before either of the other two, but I have decided against it, for now,  based on the reply to the previous post in “Tapestry vs. Sonlight.”

Another reply (thanks Jenn!) spoke of unschooling.  It’s odd, but we had been described as unschoolers by our supervising teacher in 2004/2005!  Us, unschoolers?  Nay, not so.  We were relaxed homeschoolers – balancing between limited structured homeschooling and the following of child interests, with a lot of hands-on school mixed in – like gardening, experimenting with various mediums in art, handiwork, lots of journaling and creative writing.   Truth was, that teacher, well intentioned, didn’t understand the difference between NON traditional schooling and Unschooling.   As a matter fact, I’ve found  most non-homeschoolers, and many homeschoolers recognize what unschooling TRULY is.    John Holt, if I’m correct, originally coined the term unschooling.  It is a very natural approach, child led, and self-directed.  In other words, each child is at their leisure to follow their own interests to learn what they see fit.  But it is NOT about any parent direction.  In a true unschooling environment, you are NOT able to say, “Johnny, let’s learn a bit about Jesus today and then let’s do a bit of multiplication, and then you may go work on your lego project.”  Unschooling is, by the original and most true definition, completely and totally, child led.

At a glance, it REALLY appeals to me.  There is that gut instinct that says children are drawn to their God given gifts and will then have the freedom and ability to really delve into it and deepen their interest and grow their talent.

This quote from Mr. Holt, is worthy of being reprinted here:

“The child is curious. He wants to make sense out of things, find out how things work, gain competence and control over himself and his environment, and do what he can see other people doing. He is open, perceptive, and experimental. He does not merely observe the world around him, He does not shut himself off from the strange, complicated world around him, but tastes it, touches it, hefts it, bends it, breaks it. To find out how reality works, he works on it. He is bold. He is not afraid of making mistakes. And he is patient. He can tolerate an extraordinary amount of uncertainty, confusion, ignorance, and suspense … School is not a place that gives much time, or opportunity, or reward, for this kind of thinking and learning.”

~John Holt~, (1923-1985) American Educator, How Children Learn

Clearly it is easy to recognize the strengths of the Unschooling mindset – a recognition of the uniqueness of each child, the ability of that child to find, seek out, and explore new information, their hunger to follow to their interests, and it usually leads to the discovery of their God given gifts.  Clearly ALL of those are benefits.  I am comfortable with each of those.

I also appreciate these quotes of his:

“We ask children to do for most of a day what few adults are able to do for even an hour. How many of us, attending, say, a lecture that doesn’t interest us, can keep our minds from wandering? Hardly any.”

~John Holt~ How Children Fail

“It is as true now as it was then that no matter what tests show, very little of what is taught in school is learned, very little of what is learned is remembered, and very little of what is remembered is used. The things we learn, remember, and use are the things we seek out or meet in the daily, serious, nonschool parts of our lives.”

~John Holt~ How Children Fail

And then there are parts of Unschooling which I am not comfortable with.

We who believe that children want to learn about the world, are good at it, and can be trusted to do it with very little adult coercion or interference, are probably no more than one percent of the population, if that. And we are not likely to become the majority in my lifetime. This doesn’t trouble me much anymore, as long as this minority keeps on growing. My work is to help it grow. ”

~John Holt~ Teach Your Own

The emphasis is mine.

“Of course, a child may not know what he may need to know in ten years (who does?), but he knows, and much better than anyone else, what he wants and needs to know right now, what his mind is ready and hungry for. If we help him, or just allow him, to learn that, he will remember it, use it, build on it. If we try to make him learn something else, that we think is more important, the chances are that he won’t learn it, or will learn very little of it, that he will soon forget most of what he learned, and what is worst of all, will before long lose most of his appetite for learning anything.”

~John Holt~ Teach Your Own

Again emphasis mine.

It could be said that I only have ONE argument against unschooling.  No, seriously, just one.  But it’s a biggie.  And that is the assumption that the child knows best and doesn’t need to be taught or trained by an adult.  I can’t tell you that it’s faulty by world standards, but I believe that is faulty by biblical standards.   Keep in mind that most of my quotes came from The Bluedorns‘ “Teaching the Trivium” and printed online  and I can admit that I wholeheartedly agree. (You’ll find a biblical based article on unschooling on their website.)

Proverbs 29:15 –  “…. a child left to himself brings his mother shame.”

and the command:

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train a child in the way he should go,  and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

And, I will say that having seven children under my roof, I could not allow any of my children to be self-led.  I have some that truly would follow useful interests, read GOOD literature, use their free time wisely, and aquire and practice that hard to attain acheivement – SELF CONTROL.

I have others that need both training and reproof as that one particular child is a bit naturally lazy.  That child would not use his time wisely but waste it on useless literature, computer games, and twiddling his thumbs.  This would NOT be training my children in the way they should go – serving others or supporting a family either in the wife’s role of being busy at home or in the husband’s role of actively providing for his family.   Even my easiest child would spend far more time on herself than on others and would rather read, to be fair, good literature than serve others.  But what is it to teach a daughter to be busy at home if I train her to spend hours reading when there is the house to care for, little ones to attend, and needs and wants to be served?  It is the training of one’s heart to follow one’s own interests, instead of serving the interests of others.   Left to themselves, each child would be woefully self involved.  I can’t speak for everyone, but for my children,  I can’t unschool.

That said, surely this does not mean  “school at home” is the best or only other option.  The idea that “school” is, therefore,  seatwork, textbooks, and monotony is craziness.  I can’t believe that as a young adult (high school) I sat through the four years of high school with no protest, except to say I did not know any different.  I truly believe that by high school, there SHOULD be far more interest led activities going on.  I think this notion of a “well rounded” child leads to a jack of all trades and master of none.  I mean, after all, someone please explain to me the liberal arts education where folks who are going to teach MATH for the rest of their lives really needs to know about the Culture of  East Asian Early Peoples.  Sigh.   And yet, to graduate, to teach Math, they must complete all sorts of classes that are filled with, to them, useless information.   It is a dreadful waste of both their time and money.

I also wonder how you’ll ever find your children’s interests if you don’t inspire them to explore and learn?  So often we get caught up in the day to day teaching of various subjects that we forget our main goal is to teach them to find the answers themselves.

I think so much about home educating is learned in the study of the works of Charlotte Mason.  I think we as parents have the obligation to instill good habits.  I think we have the obligation to instill in our children the ability to use our time wisely.   I think we need to equip them with the basics – reading, writing, arithmetic, else we seriously hinder their ability to follow their talents.  If a child truly wants to be a doctor, and yet we’ve not spent the years before college equipping them, they will be hindered.  If we’ve not taught them to master themselves, they will struggle as adults.

I will say that the reason I’m having a very hard time deciding between Sonlight and Tapestry of Grace is that because each of the curriculums help me attain my goals.

1. Provide both structure and freedom for my children so that they can operate within structure and master themselves within freedom.

2. Teach them about many things to light up their interest in various fields that they may not otherwise experience.

3. Equip them with basic necessities to succeed.

4. Literature based, it inspires a love of learning and a love of books.

5. Shows them the source of finding out more…. Inspires self education.

6. Helps ME to stay on task, remember my goals, and provides accountability for their teaching and training.

7. Moreover, transcripts and/or portfolio work WILL be needed for admission to college.  It is deeply unjust for me, as their mother and their educator, to not provide that for them.  To hinder them in their goals after I’ve taken on this responsibility would be wrong.

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Most importantly, I think we need to recognize where there are two very definite schools of thought – the “school at home” method and the method of unschooling, there IS a balance, that hard to acheive happy medium.   Relaxed homeschooling can provide both structured education, basic skills, and freedom to follow a child’s gifts.  It can teach a child to respect authority, operate within structure, and take command of using their free time usefully.

Let it be said that I’m sure some mothers could use the driest textbooks and because of their personalities, still inspire their children to love learning.   Other mothers, more organized and prepared than I, could plan and introduce their children to so many things through extremely relaxed schooling so as to thoroughly prepare their children for the future.

I think it’s fair to say that one of the most important roles as a homeschooling mother is the ability to step back and assess your OWN strengths and weaknesses.

My strengths lie in the ability to be excited about things, my love of nature and plants, my love of literature, and a natural enthusiasm about learning new things.  My Dad inspired much of this, and he never needed a single bit of curriculum.

My weaknesses are definitely a one track mind, balancing my time between the children and their individual needs, and keeping a good portfolio of their educational achievements.

Because I recognize my weakness, my goal has been to find a curriculum that can emphasize MY strengths, make up for the deficit of MY weaknesses, and still inspire a love of learning in each of  my children, while allowing them to explore new things that may have not discovered on their own.

By the way, I am VERY open to hearing why unschooling does work for you, if you unschool in the original form.  Or, in contrast, why a “School at Home” purely textbook approach works for you.  And, even, why you are opposed to the method I’ve outlined utilizing both….

I had to update the post, because I found this pretty fascinating.

I was thinking how expensive homeschooling is vs. public schooling. And honestly? I resent it a bit. But you know, I got to thinking, it is so very similar to the decision a family makes when they choose to put their children in a religious, private school. I graduated from a private Catholic high school in small town Iowa.

So, after I got to adding up all the numbers from the previous post, and obviously, was deeply sympathetic to myself, 😉 I decided to put it in perspective.

So, I called a small town Iowa private elementary school, not far from where I went to high school.
The cost of a fourth grader to attend elementary school per year?
$1,750

I tried calling the high school as well, but they were unavailable. Last time I was aware, the annual tuition was right around $2,400, if I remember correctly.

And keep in mind that if I pay tuition for my oldest, they do not, the next year say, “Gosh, well we purchased all these books, so we can reduce your second and third child’s tuition.” Of course not. That wouldn’t be feasible. They have significant operating expenses.

I think private education is one of those decisions that a family sits down and makes after truly weighing the pros and cons and the priorities they’ve set for their families.

Are we as homeschoolers any different?

We do not homeschool because we are opposed to private or public school. We have family members who teach, and gosh, my major in college was English (yes, sadly, it is true) with the intention of teaching high school English. This, by the way, does NOT give you an excuse to nitpick my grammar.

We homeschool because at the end of the day, our family is our greatest priority and we see homeschooling as a way to impress upon our children that our God, our family, and our political beliefs come before sports, before peers, and before all other things. Do I believe that parents who enroll their children in public school do not have these priorities? That’s not what I’m saying! For the record, for OUR family, homeschooling is the most practical way for US to instill the values we hold dear.

So, what’s that worth? Is it worth dial-up? Switching from cable internet to dial up will save you approximately $30 per month at $360 per year. Is it worth foregoing completely? That would save, if you were me, $50 per month, or $600 per year.

Other families don’t have the luxuries to give up at all. They’ll have to find a way to educate their children through other means – utilizing the library, utilizing online sites like Ambleside, writing their own curriculum.

My goal in the previous post was to weigh the two curriculums I find most attractive. But I don’t want to hint that they are not worth the cost. It is not affordable to everyone, but it doesn’t mean the value is less. And when I compare the expense of a private school education for one year, vs. the cost of an outstanding curriculum and the fact that I then OWN the books and can use them for my other children, the cost is very reasonable.

It’s also possible that ya’all won’t find this nearly as fascinating as I did, lol. Ah well.

The battle begins.  OK, I couldn’t resist.  I need to get this all down on paper, er, cyberspace, so I can think out loud and list my reasons… And then let someone convince me one way or the other.

Let it be said, that I have tried Sonlight.  It was a year and a half ago when  I tried three cores all at once.  I actually did ALL the reading aloud.  It was utterly overwhelming.  Now, granted, I was running True Vine at the time and I was just plain burnt out.  No sleep will do that.  😉

Tapestry Perks:

1. Obviously it’s literature based and that’s important to me.
2. Weekly plans/suggestions make for more relaxed homeschooling which fits well for our YOUNGER grades.
3. You can buy a unit at a time.  For us, that is infinitely more affordable.
4. The read alouds for Upper Grammar, Lower Grammar, and Dialectic are the same.  Which means when you are working with three separate levels, like me, you have one set of read alouds and the rest of the program is individualized.
5. When you buy one year of the CD/Loom, you’re buying all four levels.

Tapestry Drawbacks:

1. If you buy the binder it is a MASSIVE amount of paperwork to have around.
2. If you don’t buy the binder, you’re stuck printing it out yourself or using a CD and in this house I actually consider that dangerous.  What are the chances that CD is going to survive the next 15-20 years or so?
3. All the “sample” plans pictured on their site?  Yeah, those are NOT included.  What you essentially get is loose weekly suggestions/plans and then you need to put it together in what works for you.  Please notice I have this both under Perks and Drawbacks.
4. The price tag is a bit eye popping.
For example, Year 3
I get all four units, digital edition for the PC, the Loom, and then I chose for my Bundle, the Lapbook Kits, the Writing Aids, and the tab set.  I feel this would be the most compatible to what Sonlight offers with their Language Arts IG, their binders and tabs, et cetera.   This comes to a total of $312.  Not bad at all when you consider this will be four all four age spans, and no additional IGs to add later.  But the books needed to complete this come in at $644.  This brings the cost to do Year 2, all units, for Upper Grammar level, to $956.

You still need to add in science, math, grammar, and bible.  Now, granted, you could use The Bible.  Cost?  $0.  If you use their suggestions, it will go like this:

Science, following their suggestions: $41
Timelines – Sonlight includes theirs whereas Tapestry doesn’t and the price is very variant, but I’ll use Homeschool in the Woods packs as an example – $20
Grammar: Daily Grams workbook and TE – $30
Saxon as below: $60

For a grand total of $1,107.00  This assumes no cost for printing the actual lesson plans.

Sonlight Perks:

1. Their binders aren’t terribly thick or overwhelming.  They’re easy to care for and store.
2. Their lesson plans are completely idiot proof.  Each and every single day is completely and totally laid out for you.  Every page number, every dictation, every thing.
3. Great literature based program, just like Tapestry of Grace.
4. Readily found used if you want to save $$.
5. It’s very easy to assign credits after the fact.  After all, you have a very good record of what you did every day if you followed the lesson plans, so there is virtually nothing to keep track of.
6. By high school, it’s almost completely student directed.  It really puts the responsibility squarely on the child with parent accountability.  I love this.
7.  It’s actually fairly reasonable.  If we were looking at Christian’s age group (5th grade) we’d choose to do Level 3+4.  This level for the Instructor’s Guide, History, the Read-Alouds, the Readers, etc., is $434.

Sonlight Drawbacks:

1. It’s completely laid out.   Which does mean that if you skip a day, or a week, you might feel “behind” or otherwise pressured.  Notice that this is both under Perks and Drawbacks.
2. The cost is a little deceptive.  With the price tag of $434 it’s reasonable.  But, let’s add it all in.
Language Arts IG $34
Bible – $32
Science 4  ( Four day program) $184
Saxon Math Homeschool Edition – $60

Grand total of $744.00
What you see here is deceptive.  After all, the expense of a lot of this is in the Instructor’s Guides.  Which, let’s face it, is NON-consumable, which is fantastic.  Now, right off the bat Tapestry seems FAR more expensive.  But keep in mind that in each and every one of Sonlight’s levels, you’ll need new Instructor Guides.  That said, in Tapestry, you get four “IGs” – one for each year, but it contains the guides for Upper Grammar, Lower Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.

Important to note:

A comparison of one level to one level across the board is very unfair.  So, let’s go ahead and take that price tag of teaching a fourth grader and add in a 1st grader, only adding in the IG, books, and not the “extras” that we added for our 4th grader.

To add a Sonlight Complete Core 1 (5 Day program) – $335
To add Year 3, All Unit, Lower Grammar, without adding the shared Read Alouds – $652

Now obviously this ISN’T an across the board comparison.  Because, all things being equal, when you are adding it in, you’re getting different books, some are hardcover, some are paperback, they are different titles, they’re different authors, just plain DIFFERENT.  I can say that they both have very strong selections.

The Sonlight 1 will add35 titles on your bookshelf.

Tapestry will add 93 books to your collection for the Lower Grammar Year 3 Unit 3.

So, think about that too.  Yes, you’re adding a significant cost to get Tapestry.  But you’re also getting a massive amount of books for the money.

And obviously, it can’t come down to JUST money.   Much of it is whether or not it’s a good fit for your family.

I’m going to be honest.  I have no idea how we’ll ever cough up the $$ to do TOG.  My guess is, thanks to their Unit by Unit option, we’ll buy one unit at a time, look for the books used, utilize the library, and buy which books we HAVE to have new as that last resort to make it work.  I really think, even after doing all the calculations, TOG is far more adjustable for the Upper Grammar and Lower Grammar grades when you need to combine children.

If I were to try to combine cores for my current 4th grader and current 1st grader, it would require a massive amount of tweaking.  I’d have to find books for one or the other that was both age appropriate and fit with our current read alouds and discussion topics.  Tapestry completely solved this problem by having all ages utilize the same topics, all ages utilize the same read aloud, thereby saving Mom an awful lot of planning and time.

However, I will say, when it comes to high school, I love Sonlight’s laid out IGs.  And, when it comes down to the fact that Mom’s hands are going to be more free with a high schooler, I can’t help but think for less $$, Sonlight makes more sense.  It’s far more detailed in instruction for a teen.  And this is an age when I wouldn’t try to combine anyway.  At least in my case, my teen prefers to work independently so combining lower grades with her is a non-issue.

Thoughts?

Strangely, when I put it all down, I’m “for” both curriculums.  Using each in their place.  And I really thought when I did the math, I wouldn’t be able to justify buying Ana a separate curriculum (Sonlight Core 100) when I already was going to purchase Tapestry’s DE for the other kids.  But, what I found out is that, all that aside, there isn’t much of a $$ difference with that figured in.  And for the ease of her use, Sonlight makes sense for her, whereas for MY ease of use with several youngers, Tapestry makes more sense for them.

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