Today was supposed to be Part 2 on Dyslexia.  Forgive me, I’m easily distracted.

It is popular these days to revel in our shortcomings as homeschooling mothers.  I have plenty.  But I don’t believe we are to toss our hands in the air and say, “Well, this is the way I am.”  We aren’t to be stagnant, using our inborn personality traits to excuse a lack of intentional teaching and parenting in our roles as homeschooling mothers.  I am an extrovert… I can’t use this as a reason to flit from one activity to another, never intentionally and purposefully being at home.  And at the same time I have seen introverts use their own quirks to excuse not pouring themselves into their children.  We are not excused.  Recognizing our personality traits is good – through knowing ourselves well, we can recognize our strengths and weaknesses.

I was in Philippians this morning.  I think Paul’s prayer for the people of Philippi is such a great prayer to pray for our own children.
Philippians 1:9

And this is my prayers for you – that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth and insights so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of GOD.

Further in Chapter 1

If I am to go on living, it means fruitful labor for me.

I pray for each of us, as Christian homeschooling mothers, that we would rejoice in fruitful labor.  I am often mindful of John 15 and the the analogy between God as the gardener and true vine and us as part of the plant.  If we are to see fruit in our children, we should be mindfully tending the garden.  We must prune, fertilize, nurture our tender young plants so that they can grow strong and bear much fruit.  We must labor towards this end.



My life has been forever changed by dyslexia.

The irony isn’t lost on me.  I once believed dyslexia was  a concocted disability… And if it did exist then it was probably over-diagnosed.

God has a sense of humor.  And often from the biggest skeptics He molds the best advocates.

1 in 5

One in five people are dyslexic.  You know a dyslexic, actually, you know several.  That friend who writes emails and can never remember when to use their/they’re and were/where?  Yeah, she’s probably dyslexic.   Your kiddo that struggled mightily to learn to tie his shoes, never was good at nursery rhymes, and  struggled to learn to sound out CVC words? Probably dyslexic.  It’s okay though!  That kid really had a “light bulb” moment… Probably right around 4th grade.  All of a sudden that child could READ!

I had that child.  “He’s a boy,” I reasoned.  Late bloomer.  Active.  Bright.  And, sure enough, age 10/11, he began to read and read and read.  In one year he went from struggling with simple three and four letter words to reading The Hobbit.  All of my concerns were minimized, my belief that he would read in his own time was completely validated, life was grand.  And I did my part to spread the propaganda that kids learn to read on their own timeline and early struggles mean nothing but give them more time.

Shame. On. Me.

I’m sorry.  I was so anti-dyslexia that when a friend came to me and said, “Kelly, I really think you should have your son evaluated.  I see in him several signs of dyslexia,” I flashed her a partronizing smile.  (This was our second son.  He was about six at the time.) She further explained that one of her own children was dyslexic.  And in my ignorance I said, “Almost every homeschooling mother I know has thought she might have a dyslexic child.  If you just keep plugging at phonics, slow and steady, they read.”  I was confident.  Still, my beautiful friend was tenacious.  She insisted we go hear a wonderful speaker, Kelly Arnold, from the Northwest Dyslexia Center.  Kelly Arnold is the best speaker I’ve heard so far and I’ve heard a few, including Susan Barton twice.

I went.  I dragged my husband along.  I figured it was the only way I was going to be able to say, “We listened.  We’re confident in our path for him.”

About ten minutes into the lecture our world tilted.  The light began to go on and not only were we realizing our sons (plural) and one daughter had all the trademarks of being dyslexic, so did my husband… Right down to the “horror” stories of elementary school – being put into speech class, the slow reading group.  He despised being asked to read aloud.  He hated rading, didnt like spelling tests and, to this day, worries over spelling something wrong in a work email.  Keep ’em short, sweet, to the point, and there is less room for errors.

We walked away from that speaking engagement that evening with our eyes wide open.

And yet……….

And yet there is a tiny piece of you that wonders if you aren’t a bit of a hypochondriac.  Did you make the symptoms “fit” because it was convenient?  Because she was such a compelling speaker?   We did nothing.  As a matter of fact it was almost a year before we decided to have the boys professionally tested.  Separately, by the way.  We actually had them tested by two entirely different professionals so that I could be more certain of the results.  I was *not* a believer.

More tomorrow………

What inspires us to be patriotic?  A shared heritage? Traditions?  Culture?  Shared goals and thoughts towards the future?

Our citizenship within our families is all of those things. Are you nurturing the same? I’ve seen strong families bonded by sports, by board games, by a love of reading, by debate and discussion, by quirky sense of humor.   Find it – those things that make your family special and nurture those characteristics.  Seek out ways to continue to grow and nourish a strong family culture and traditions – somber as much as fun and carefree.  Both are treasures.

One of the greatest blessings to our family has been our introduction to board games…. Traditional American games like Sorry! and the more popular Euro games like Catan that are catching on everywhere.  This has especially been a great way to connect with our teens – to set aside and carve out time to spend with them.


I cannot emphasize enough to you that beginning traditions in which your older children and their friends can participate has great value.  So often we invest in teaching our littles and spending time with them, that we just aren’t sure how to change and continue family traditions when they get older.
Eurogames are more expensive than traditional games, however, we think they are a worthy investment.  They are a great gift idea for grandparents, family gifts, and collections.
Our favorite family games: If you’re looking into branching out, try Catan.  It is a great intro game and has many extensions to encourage new and exciting scenarios.  When you’ve advanced beyond Catan, our current favorite is Agricola.  Our older kids love Seven Wonders and Dominion.  For the younger set?  Ticket to Ride!  This is one of my husband’s favorite games.  Pictured above is Carcassone.  This is a game my husband and I play almost every morning over coffee.  We think it makes a cute couple game… As long as you aren’t too highly competitive.  And if you are (I am) then it’s a good start to learn to play for joy.

Sunshine.  A mudroom.

Recently I’ve seen discussion about homes – what one person loves, what one doesn’t.  My husband would adore a reason to build a house.  What he loves best?  Trees.  And while we are planting madly, they unfortunately do not grow overnight. :/ Imagine that.

I adore my mudroom.  It’s filthy.  I have no pictures of it.  It needs painting.  The dogs stay there.  Really it’s awful from an outside perspective.  But you know what it does?  It contains DIRT!  It keeps boots!  It keeps chore coats!  Best. Space. Ever.

This is my favorite space in our house.  See that sunlight?  After four years of living in the PNW, I discovered something important about myself.  I am a sunshine girl.  I wither without sun.  We had to knock down a wall to make this work and a big shout out to the contractor  at the little taco joint who donated all the tables to me during a remodel – right time, right place.  But this space really works for us.  We spend about 90% of our daylight hours in the house in this room.



I was blessed last evening to listen to Delectable Education’s Way of Will and Reason podcast.  What a blessing.  I wish every parent and educator could listen to that one podcast.  I think what I appreciate most about the podcasts at Delectable Education must be the multi-generational points of view.  I have just discovered them and they have quickly become my favorite podcast.

So for a long while, the blog was essentially sharing and a podium.  I began a blog way back when Homeschool Blogger was new and growing. I think the year was 2004?  We had five kiddos then and had been homeschooling for a few years. Then, when I began True Vine Herbs, a blog was a great way to build a customer base.  More than that, I wanted it to chronicle what we were doing… Mostly because I was challenged to keep a journal.

Now, frankly, I see the blog being for me.  As we transition from a more traditionally classical approach a la The Well Trained Mind to loving and embracing our eclectic nature and throwing in Ambleside’s reading schedule for structure and encouragement, I feel the need for sharing and accountability in the hopes that we, as homeschool moms, can learn from one another.  I’ve enjoyed what experienced moms, like Cindy Rollins, have to share just as much as I appreciate the eager enthusiasm of younger homeschooling mamas like Sarah Mackenzie.  I’ve had a foot in each community, dabbling, for a very long while.  It seems as though our home education has morphed through the years to meet the needs of the teacher – namely me 😉 and each successive oldest child.  Our oldest is at university now, studying Educational Psychology.  She’ll be a senior in the fall which simply amazes me.  Our second is dual enrolled, being both schooled at home and attending our community college.  He is a junior currently and enrolled in Project Lead the Way as well as Comp II.  And now my “oldest” is another daughter who loves literature, music, and lovely things.  I’m blessed that the two current oldest being educated at home are both girls who love spending time together, and while each is uniquely gifted, one extraordinarily artistic with a deep appreciation for nature, the other gifted in home arts with a contagious joy for family and home, both share a love for books and beauty.

It’s been an exciting Spring here.  We’ve planted a pear tree, blueberry bushes, and dug out a fire pit.  This is the apple tree we planted last year for Mother’s Day.


Okay, so that’s really a gratuitous shot to show off my kids.  I can’t help that.  That’s a mama’s right.  The little apple tree was about 6′ tall and she’s been joined by six more as well as two pears. We have visions of making cider with the imaginary grandkids dancing through our heads… Planning ahead. 😉

Now if only the weather would cooperate and let us play out of doors all day!  We’re still awaiting the return of our swallows.  This will be our third spring in this house and they’ve shown up each year at about this time.


We’ve also been spending a lot of time transforming the basement from this:

to this:


Then, with the help of a talented friend:

basement3   windowcutie

We’re getting there, slowly but surely.  This has been our biggest DIY project to date except the kids. 😀

We’re getting there. Remodeling is being put on pause this summer while we focus on the garden, the yard, and some pretty flowers to attract more birds and butterflies.  I only wish we were far enough from the fields to have bees.  Sigh.  I have fond memories of my Grandpa having hives at his house.

Spring is being evasive today… She’s hiding behind rain clouds.  I’m taking the day as a read aloud and photography day.  Have a blessed day.


It has been a long while since I posted. Once in 2012?  Really?  Once since 2013?  Wow.  Time has been flying by.  We added Catherine Margaret in 2013 and William in 2014.  Our oldest, Ana, graduated in 2014 and will be a senior at the university this fall, planning on her undergrad in Psychology and Masters in Educational Psychology.  Crazy how time just marches on….

A recent picture:


I have felt incredibly compelled over the past few months to begin writing again.  I’ve seen, in the last year, how young homeschooling mothers are coming forward and ministering to the homeschooling community as a whole and I applaud them.  The question has been asked on forums though…. Why?  Why are young homeschooling moms coming forward to teach the young mothers?  Where are the older women?  Why aren’t they teaching?

This thought dwells in my mind.  Perhaps it’s because the older mothers know how life has humbled them and are hesitant to offer teaching and advice?  Perhaps they know that young mothers have to find their own way, sort through their own crazy mess, walk their own journey.  I’ve always said I’d rather have close friends who can see my shortcomings than admirers I keep at a distance so they can’t see my failings.

So, when asked, what one tidbit would I want to gift young homeschooling mamas with?

Homeschooling is a lifestyle.

Exactly that.  Homeschooling is a LIFESTYLE.  It’s been said it is not school at home, and it most certainly isn’t.  I couldn’t emulate school at home if I WANTED to, but more importantly, I don’t WANT to.  I’ve been blessed to be the mother of my little tribe, the mother, not the teacher.  The public school system is a false world.  The family was / is the masterpiece of God Himself, created by Him, one man, one woman, together as one, gifted with a human child with souls.   They are created in His image.  The Christ child was part of a family.

Mother!  Don’t foresake the family for some poorer substitute.  If you are so very gifted as to be able to homeschool, EMBRACE that gift.  My littlest children will never remember the little school desk we had for Ana.  They will never remember an 8:00 AM start time, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and oodles of busywork.  They won’t because I’ve abandoned it for something better, something genuine.  I still wholeheartedly embrace a rigorous learning environment!  I just do it better than the way I was educated, teaching, learning, reading, sharing, throughout hours spent together in our home.  We homeschool, not between the hours of 8:00 and 3:00, but as a lifestyle.

We are blessed.


We’re HOME again.   While we loved our time in Oregon and adored the people we met, we are so grateful to be back in the Midwest.



It’s something created, by God, maintained, imperfectly, by people, to nurture and love and correct and grow people.    It isn’t just to grow and nurture tiny people… it’s meant to care for adults and seniors as well.   It is a long term commitment – the longest  you’ll ever make, from birth until death.

Relationships take an incredible amount of work, devotion, and effort.  I suspect distance has allowed me to view family relationships from a distance without as much effort and it has been good for me.   I’m grateful for the people in my life from whom I’ve learned.  Life is such a learning process.  I’m becoming very aware of how much I still have to learn.


Keep sanctifying me Lord.