My Homeschool Journal - January 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When I started this blog 5 years ago my intention was to keep a yearbook of sorts. It was also meant to be an accountability to myself. My thinking was if I have to blog about it I will actually do it. My husband was a little afraid (if I'm being honest) that homeschool would be like one of my many hobbies that grew like a forest fire and died a slow death while taking up space in the storage room where all my other old hobbies live. If you ever want to know why I do weekly updates, that's the real story. What happened though was that homeschool became a part of all of our lives. It wasn't just a hobby it was how our family lives and learns together. It hasn't gotten old yet, and I pray I can make it to the end of it all.

So, in an effort to let you in on a little that goes on with me, I decided to take part in the monthly Homeschool Mother's Journal. I saw a friend post hers the other day and thought it was such a great idea. I'm not super awesome at weekly or daily commitments, but I can handle one a month. It will give me an opportunity to reflect on how things are going around here at Monarch Room, but also to share how things are going with us as a family. I would love to hear from you too if ever you are so inclined. Sometimes this homeschool journey can feel a little lonely. It's so nice to have friends that are on the same path, so we can each give each other courage for the next leg of the journey.

In my life this month:
I'm enjoying the slowness that winter brings. These slower days give me the space to really think and pray. This year my goal is to grow not only spiritually but personally - That means I am going to let fewer books collect dust and actually read them intentionally. I have made book lists with chapters to check off. This has always worked well for school, so I'm hoping it will work as well for me.

As my boys are getting older I realize (sometimes painfully) how much I have to grow as a person. I am so thankful for their graciousness when I mess up. I get things wrong more than I want to admit not only in my family but sometimes in other relationships. I really just wish there was a faster way to be more like Jesus, but the truth is this very imperfect girl has such a very long way to go. I'm sure I wouldn't be very humble about it if it were that easy anyway. Only God can heal and change hearts, and sometimes that just takes time. I am believing he can take a heart in process like mine and make it more like His. I'm so thankful that He isn't done with me yet <3.

In our homeschool this month:
We are halfway through the year. I am trying to let go of some of the fun opportunities and choose wisely over the next few months. There is always a class or opportunity in which to take part. We found ourselves over-committed last fall, so as the new winter and spring opportunities are being posted everywhere right now I'm trying to be discerning in choosing wisely.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing:
I've been praying for my boys to make new friends in the places we have an opportunity to meet people. One of my boys had a few friends move away and has had several changes in circumstance. Since then hasn't made the kinds of close friends he could really call his own. It pains this mom's heart. We fortunately have lots of opportunities for get-togethers, church groups, and classes. I always saw him taking part and talking with everyone, but everyone needs a few special friends that they can talk to often who really get understand them though. 

All of a sudden I'm seeing this kid of mine finally find a place in a group of friends he really enjoys at the co-op we started going to last year. It just took time. He was invited over to a friend's house this weekend, and he came home so happy. I cried. God is so good. This same kid also had a hard experience at a social event. He came home more sad than I've ever seen him. I've never seen him that way (and I cried again.) What was beautiful about it was that he is looking forward to the next event anyway. This kid isn't like me in some ways, and that is a very good thing. Where fear might take over he said, nope. Let's try again. That made this mom so happy and proud of my kid's bravery. I marvel at how often my kids teach me so much more than I teach them.

My favorite thing this week month:
I have been hearing about the Instant Pot all year. I finally got one on Black Friday. Where was this thing all my ever loving life? What takes 3-4 hours in a crock pot takes 30-40 minutes in an Instant Pot. Hallelujah! I love that you can saute things before you start it, and that it also doubles as a slow cooker. Magic people....I tell you what. This little miracle will be especially handy when we are on the go in the summer. 

What’s working/not working for us:
We have only had a few curriculum casualties so far this year. I'm learning that while I am very happy and can stick with most of our choices that writing is always my great big waffle every year. We started out the year with IEW writing, but we are taking a break from it for a while. I actually still really love and appreciate IEW, but I'm learning that I don't have long staying power with any writing program. Both of my boys learned so much with IEW, and I saw a lot of improvement in their writing. We will likely return to it at some point to continue to work through the units. 

Oh, gasp! I forgot. We also set aside Rod & Staff grammar and replaced it with IEW Fix It. For a while that was a nice change, but it is so hard to set aside an old tried and true program. We went back to R&S again this week, and it went just fine. I think we may have just needed a break. I still haven't decided what we will do long term. That's one of the great reasons to not write specific lessons in your schedule for language arts and math. It's so much easier to go at your own pace.  

One great joy is seeing how both boys have grown to love writing. We started employing many of Brave Writer's ideas. We have been doing a lot of free-writes and enjoying just writing for fun. When I tell the Aedan to go write for ten minutes, he will often come back 45 minutes later with 3 pages of work. Silas is no different. Both of them have been writing the most clever stories! There is a time for mechanics, but there is also a time to develop their true voice. Brave Writer has given them an opportunity to write without fear of failing or getting it wrong. I've seen Aedan flourishing in his Lightning Lit papers as well. I'm finally seeing all of these years of writing instruction finally coming together. Phew. 

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have:
This time of year is always planning season for me. I try to get all of my purchasing and tinkering with curriculum done by March so that we can really enjoy summer. I still have fine tuning to do before we actually start, but I don't like the decisions weighing on my mind. I probably think way too much about it all, but when the year finally rolls around things are ready. That helps easy any fear that I'm going to just royally mess this whole school thing up. 

I have a high schooler for the first time next year! I just ordered Heart of Dakota World Geography this week. Yay! I love getting those boxes every year (doing an Irish jig on the inside!) I am still deciding on literature for him. For the most part most of my next year school choices are made. After my little mid-life-crisis I plan to stick with Heart of Dakota for his first year of high school. It just works well for our family. If it ain't broke...

My favorite poem this month:
Something about this poem we studied really touched my heart. There is nothing quite like the tears that flow from gratitude. I'm sure those kinds of tears send our Heavenly Father's heart soaring too. 

From The Old Huntsman

One summer-day I chanced to see
This old Man doing all he could
To unearth the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock tottered in his hand;
So vain was his endeavor,
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever.

"You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool," to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffered aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I severed,
At which the poor old Man so long
And vainly had endeavored.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men 
Hath oftener left me mourning.

William Wordsworth

To read more about the happenings of other homeschool moms, click the image above.


  1. Loved reading your journal!

    I didn't know you went back to Rod & Staff! But, I'm totally not surprised. :)

    Thank you for sharing the poem - I loved it. ♥

  2. I loved reading your heart here! I can relate to much of it. I truly love to get my decisions made and books purchased before Spring hits so that I can feel prepared for the upcoming year. This past year, I tried a slow approach and wavered so much on making that final decision that I was really heart broken when I couldn't pull off HOD. It's still a struggle for me when I see it working so beautifully for others, but then I take a look what we've accomplished and I feel relieved and refreshed.

    I really love reading your deeper thoughts here :)


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