July 2010

I’ve said it before and I’m certain I’ll say it again…  New homeschoolers, old homeschoolers, and every homeschooling mama in between have long sought the treasure of the undying quest:

The Perfect Curriculum.

Oh Perfect Curriculum, R.I.P.

There is NO perfect curriculum.

And here is the secret to happy homeschooling:

There is only that curriculum which will inspire you enough to use it consistently.  And there are topics you won’t like.  And in those subjects, you’ll seek something that is fun, entertaining, or at least not painful.  Grammar is NOT fun ladies and gentleman.  It’s true, it’s just not fun.  But still, it is useful and should be learned.  Math?  Not the same as attending a party with clowns.  And still, it should be done.

Sometimes it just a matter of doing the work.

Many times I’ll see a post on how well a curriculum worked for someone and another poster will come along and say that she tried it for a week or two and it didn’t work for her.    Recently I decided to give Henle a try as I’ve used Latina Christiana & Prima.   Did the other two work?  Yes, they did.  They worked as long as we USED them.  Henle will not work for us if we don’t use it consistently.  At the same time, the others would have worked had we used them consistently.

Try a new curriculum, by all means.  But if you find yourself constantly switching out one book for another in the grand hope that you will hit upon the “perfect” curriculum, do realize it doesn’t exist.  Sometimes the doing just needs done. 😉

Drat.   I went to visit my son’s garden last night while they were at Boy Scout’s.  Oh my.  Have I mentioned I’m NOT fond of the work gardening takes?  I’m fairly certain Oregon is intent on having its’ land back.  The garden has been overrun by thistles & raspberries.  So, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

We’ve come up with a solution, and I’ve agreed to adhere to it myself….  every hour of my screen time must be exceeded by my work outside.  It sounded so good last night when I said it.  Then I woke up this morning, tired, and sore from  gardening.  Somehow I think we should sleep on “great” ideas before committing.

The kids have a slightly different deal going.  In order to get their allotted three hours per week, they must put in the minimum of an hour per day.   A garden could look pretty good if the oldest three kids poured 15 hours of work into it every week, not to mention what Mom could do.   At this point we’re trying to put a heavy layer of mowed grass over the grass to kill it.  We’ll see if it works.  I am steadfastly refusing to allow Round-Up anywhere near my food.

I’m tired this afternoon.  I’d really like a nap.  Looks like we’re gardening instead.  Wheeeee.

I had to laugh when I approved Vicki’s comment this morning.   Looking forward to a homeschooling post… Yipes!  The pressure!  Oh Vicki, I feel like a kid who just got their hand caught in the cookie jar.

It is incredibly tempting to look through my pictures of past homeschooling projects, post a few, and say, “Wheee!  Look what we’re doing.”  But, alas,  I’m not very good at faking it.

I did the most insane thing.  Ever.   It makes no sense, really it doesn’t.  Temporary insanity?  Maybe.

I sold my TOG.   (GASP!)

I did, really.

So last night we had this wonderful little get together.  I think I’ve mentioned we picked up our entire household, eight kids, and moved across the country to Oregon for what will essentially be an extended vacation in the great Pacific Northwest?  Um, yes, did that… February.   And I have to say I’m glad we did,  it’s been a beautiful experience & Oregon people are easy to love.

That said, it’s taking effort.  We have NO friends here, no family, no extended family.  We are an island unto ourselves.  So we need to make effort to make friends, establish support.  I’m back to going to storytime, venturing out in public, things of this nature.  When you live in a small Iowa town, and you’re related to most of said town, you don’t really make a lot of effort to get to know people…  You already know them.  It’s effortless.
Last night we were  invited to a sweet mama’s house along with two other couples.  Wow! Eight adults outnumbered by twenty children and I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever met such agreeable adults… I usually get along with the kids 🙂 but even the grown-ups were great!

All of that to say we had those “get to know you” conversations and inevitably the question comes up, “What do you use?”  And I humbly admit I’m floundering.  And then I go one further to say, “We *USED* Tapestry of Grace.”  (Notice the past tense.) And honestly?  I felt like banging my head against the cupboard and screaming, “And I don’t know WHAT I was thinking getting rid of it.”

Okay.  That’s not entirely fair, nor is it entirely true.  I know what I was thinking.

My sorry little self was discontent.  I had gotten out of the very good habit of making lesson plans from Tapestry.  And my fence sitting self decided that “open & go” was acceptable.  BTW, I do not recommend an “open & go” method to Tapestry. 😛  So, I’d flip through deciding, on the day we were doing, what we’d do that day.

Now, I’ve heard many compare Tapestry to a banquet.  It’s all laid out on the table for you.  You leisurely stroll through the meal, choosing what you like and tossing it on your plate.  It’s a great comparison!  Here’s the problem… When you decide to open & go, you’re choosing to flip through all your options that day.  And you haven’t prepped yourself with the talk.  *THE* talk goes something like this, “Kelly, we don’t have to do EVERYTHING.  We can pick & choose to do a few things & this does not make you a bad homeschooling mom.”   So how do I liken my situation?  I’m the woman who goes to the banquet and fills up her plate to the brim and then stands, plate full, looking at the rest of the food.  “Hmmm…. Wish I could have chocolate cake.  I really like cake……  Wish I could have some brownies.  We used to have time for brownies.  (Insert pathetic sigh.)  Wow.  Broccoli.  Broccoli is SO good for you.  We haven’t had broccoli in a long time.”

So, with the “open and go” method, I was breezing past all of these incredible projects and great ideas and every day I was looking at what I WASN’T doing.

The SANE course of action here would have been to start making lesson plans.  It would have made good sense.

I’m not really a good one for sense.  I tend to be a little more “fun.”  This is code for: fly by the seat of my pants.  I’m not sure exactly why I abuse myself in this way, but I suspect I like the “challenge.”  It’s the same reason people run with bulls & call it fun.

So, I spent the last seven days making Excel spreadsheets.  Truth be told, I so enjoy making spreadsheets.  The fine lines, the bold lines, the color coding by child… It excites me just thinking about it.  It’s another one of those “theory vs. practice” exercises.  Love the theory,  but the practice?  Eh, not so much.

Had the genius plan of enrolling oldest daughter in Mother of Divine Grace this year.   I looked at their literature program and found it to be strong.  This translates to: I looked at their literature program and was fairly certain I could talk oldest DD into the program.  No such luck.

Everything that I am, my daughter is NOT.  She is incredibly self controlled, amazingly organized, and very purposeful.  Needless to say I admire her very much.  She’s got some of her Daddy in her, great kid, that one.  She has laid out a literature program for herself.  She’s pulled suggestions from Tapestry, Ambleside, Sonlight.  She’s matched up the literature selections with the history selections based on time periods.  She intends on doing outlines, writing assignments, and written narrations along with her reading selections & she has begged to me to allow her to plan this on her own.  I saw her plans.  They’re better than mine.  I’m a little jealous.  I’m a little relieved to see she’s going to walk away from the all out, everything in, obsessive study of Rome.   That pretty much overtook her summer and I’m not losing this child a year early to foreign exchange.

So, I understand your enthusiasm towards another homeschooling post.  I’m looking forward to having something purposeful to say too!  I’m just not sure where I’m going with it yet.  She gave me a literature based study for combining the 1st & 3rd grader yesterday… We’re going over it today and once I add in some bits & pieces, it should work.

I honestly believe that I’ll give this six months and be back into Tapestry.  But, truth be told?  I can’t hardly look at the amount of work she’s poured into designing her own curriculum and say, “Hey, let’s go with this one.”  She deserves the opportunity to do this.  I actually think I’m going to get her Laura Berquist’s book, “Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum” and let her go wild.


I promise,  I’ve not just been lazy!  I’ve been feeling a bit guilty lately about not posting since (gulp) May.  But I promise I haven’t been lazy.  Something about being in this house makes me feel a bit crafty and as we’ve had school on hold for a bit, I’ve been trying to make myself useful.

So, this will just be a sharing post!

The first attempt at a carrier… I got to learn all about bottom weights, canvas, twill, duck cloth, heavyweight thread, x-box stitching, triple bars, and more.  Hurah.  Well, it might not have been fun research, but wow did I learn a lot about how much effort those great carrier making WAHMama’s put into the carriers!  If you ever wondered if a great carrier from a trusted WAHMama is worth the price tag… Oh. My.  Yes, it is.  They’ve not only created their pattern, poured their effort  into it, chosen fabrics for safety and durability and the ever important cute factor, but truly they’ve invested time into creating their individual carriers.  Ladies, you have my respect.

So the above carrier was inspired by Still Learning Life’s Blog.  Brooke has very generously supplied a GREAT pictorial to teach others how to put together a beautiful mei tai.  And, I’d like to add, she makes beautiful ones herself.  I’d add that while I really want to encourage other mamas to sew and create, if you’re going to be selling mei tais or any other carrier, please respect the WAHMamas who have created their own patterns!  Definitely create something of your own that you can sell with pride!

My second mei tai carrier, my pattern.  This one was a bit of an evolution – added pixie hood, curved body, seat darts…    Eventually I hacked it and turned it into a 1/2 buckle.  Love it now.  It’s very me!

Action Pic:

For a beloved friend – carrier #3.  This was my pattern, but now we shortened the body, extended the width as well.  I added a detachable hood, padded leg areas and it also has seat darts.

Action pic with the ever-loveable Ella Pie

There is a full buckle coming.  It’s for my wonderful DH and his sweetie, Sarah.  She’s SUCH a Daddy’s girl these days and frankly, she loves to go “piggy back” – her term for being in a carrier.  Too cute!

I had posted that I had finally gotten the Boaz colorway from A Time to Dye?  I had time a bit ago to knit up longies for Ella Pie.  I was very happy with her workMOMship.

Again, I want to add these aren’t my pattern.  My knitting, but the Sheepy Pants pattern.

We managed to make a little something for Ella Pie’s birthday as well…

And a backpack from a pattern off of Ravelry.

I promise it has NOT been all work & no play.  We took some time off to enjoy the scenery…

And go fishing!

We’ve been enjoying the farmer’s market…

(Ignore the date… This is what will happen when you let the batteries go dead!)

And the tulips!

And we even had a week of Grandma & Grandpa & a cousin visit!

And now I’m beginning to officially look for ways to procrastinate organizing my school year… Hence the new post on the blog!