Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I had the "revelation" (which is really dumb since I've been doing this long enough that it shouldn't be a revelation) that I shouldn't worry about James at all (at this point) because the compulsory school age in PA isn't until 8 anyways. So, I can unschool him and see how he learns and do different things with him until then, and then if I feel I need support and he needs more structure/support/etc. I can think about cyberschool. PHEW! lol So, I've got to find that flow again. I feel like I'm out of the unschooling vibe after this past year. I kind of feel like someone took our house (with all of us in it) in their arms and threw us all up into the air....and then we froze for a year (or more) and we're just settling back down on the ground. "Settling" sounds too nice....we actually came down with a THUD! and now we're settling. I can't remember how to find the vibe. I guess it's back to my unschooling books and websites for awhile to get back into the mindset. It's funny how you can lose the vibe. Strange, really. I laugh at how many times I've been right here where I am, now. Homeschooling my children for 11+ years, and I still find myself here at least once a year. For anyone who's new to homeschooling....don't worry about those moments of confusion, questioning, chaos, or imbalance. It'll keep happening for as long as you homeschool and sooner or later you'll embrace it as just part of the journey. :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things are going pretty well in the Big Red House so far this year. Considering 2011 was so difficult, we can't help but be off to a better start this year. Nothing much has changed as far as our methods. Erin is looking forward to starting a new semester in cyberschool, complete with new classes. She'll be taking Spanish which she's looking forward to. She's turned out to be a really good writer, too. I think she maybe always felt Amber was the writer so she couldn't. She's proving that's wrong. Her writing is very good. I'm really enjoying reading her writings and watching her grow in confidence and intellect. Adam hates cyberschool. I hate that he hates it. I'm really struggling with this because my passion is unschooling and I want that for him. But, he has proven to be very difficult, disagreeable, and sometimes downright unkind so I'm having a hard time with knowing what to do. Cyberschool was invoked because he was fighting with me daily and I'm not interested in doing that with my child. It's very distressing to me because I'm finding that I can't do with him the same things I did with Amber and Erin. It's like he won't let me. I try to be the same easygoing, unschooly, loosely structured Mom that I really am but he shows me that that doesn't work for him by fighting with me on everything and treating people badly in the home. So, we went to the structure of Cyberschool because I thought maybe he needed that. And he's done very well....as far as getting in his classes and getting his work done. He's not happy though, which I hate. So....I've told him that what he does next year hinges on these next few months. He has to finish out the year, and then we can talk. I don't know. James is happy to be out of preschool and home full time. I'm happy too. We're working together on his learning the ABCs and some letter recognition. He wants to read so I'm working with him on that. I'm afraid he's going to have some real learning difficulties, but we'll take that as it comes. If I need more support then I'll enroll him in cyberschool. I just want him to feel successful and to learn in the best way for him. I'm afraid his might be a more difficult road. I know that things I've read have said that unschooling is even better for a child with special needs, but I just can't wrap my head around it. I mean, I didn't teach any of my children to read. They just naturally learned by the time they were about 8. I know that James will not naturally learn. He has blocks in his path....very real, neurological blocks. I think unschooling at some level could really be wonderful for him....it's the reading that I'm concerned about, I guess. And, right about now, my partner (who passed in October 2011) would be bringing me back to the present. "Stay in today, D....we'll deal with that when it happens," is what she'd say.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

homeschooling james

Wow. I'm just so thrilled to be homeschooling James. The older two are doing cyberschool (their choice) so it's really nice to be actually homeschooling a little one again. James was in preschool...but...well...that didn't go so well. lol ahem. Anyways, he's so excited to do things and I'm excited to do them with him. I'm pretty "on the fence" as to whether or not I'll have him do cyberschool next year. On one hand, I know he's going to have some challenges because of his special needs and I don't really want him to be identified and given an IEP, which I know will happen if he's cyberschooled. If he gets an IEP and then later I want to homeschool him, it will make it harder to do that. On the other hand, I just want him to thrive and learn and feel good about himself. If his challenges are such that he feels like he can't succeed and I feel like I'm unable to really help him, then I'll want to get him the help he needs. If he's in cyberschool, at least he's getting that help and support, but he's home here with me. And who really cares about him getting an IEP if it would help him with his learning. Even if he's doing cyberschool, that's like only a couple hours a day so we could be unschooling the rest of the time. So, that's my conundrum. I'm glad I pulled him out of preschool, though. This will give us a good amount of time before next Fall to learn together and I can get a feel for how he learns and whether or not cyberschool is even necessary. He really wants to learn to read....so, I'm going to attempt to teach him that and go from there. If he can learn to read then I think we can pretty much do anything and won't need cyberschool. Decoding the language is often where learning disabilities show up, I think, so I'm just going to start there. If anyone is reading and has suggestions or ideas, please let me know. (I don't even know if anyone reads this!) lol

Monday, December 12, 2011

wow....I'm really bad at this blogging thing. It's been practically a year since I last updated. And SO MUCH has changed for our family. The main reason I haven't updated is because I was caring for my dying partner for the better part of this year. From April-October, she was sick and passed in October. So, yes, a lot has changed. The children (at least Erin 16 and Adam 12) had decided to do cyberschool this year, which turned out to be a good thing for us and them. Erin is doing 10th grade at PAVCS....she felt like she wanted to be challenged and wanted to do higher Math than I can teach her. She needs guidance, though, so felt like enrolling in the cyberschool would be good for her. It was completely her idea and decision. She's doing really really well. She actually qualified the AP English class and is growing more and more confident in herself. She decided to wait until next year to do AP English, just because this is really her first traditional schooling experience and she doesn't want to overwhelm herself. Smart girl. Adam is doing very well, too. He grumbles and complains, but I know that he likes it....I don't have to (and wouldn't) nag him about doing his work or getting to class. They are both doing synchronous classes (which means actual classes online, real-time) and I think it's a good way to do it. Jamie (my partner) and I had decided to enroll James in a private preschool just because we knew that this Fall was going to be difficult with her sick. We wanted him to be able to go somewhere each day to play and have fun and for it to be a consistent place for him....as well as giving me a break since I was caring for Jamie full-time. I think it was a smart thing to do, as well. However, he has a lot of anxiety about going and I think that it is an overwhelming thing for him. I'm sure Jamie's being gone is certainly causing anxiety....but with his special needs, he is just overstimulated there and does not have the social or mental skills to really thrive and enjoy himself. There have been behavior issues there and I just don't see the point in keeping him in the situation when I will definitely be homeschooling (or cyberschooling) him. So, after the holidays he'll be staying home again. I'm looking forward to doing some fun stuff with him in the new year. So. That's where we are. I don't know where the future will take us but it will take us there together.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

James and I created another nature table yesterday. He's such a magickal kid, he has that natural quality that some kids have, of just *knowing*, ya know? Anyway, He put rocks, shells, pinecones, his wand, and a branch and stump from a fallen tree outside on his nature altar. He decided to put two candles on, one for God one for Goddess. He also felt it was necessary to put his lego gun that he had created, on his altar (calling it a Nature Gun to make it more palatable to mama...lol). AND, he felt it was very important to put his Vitamin C on his nature altar. It was very important to him. Originally he wanted the whole big bottle of Vit. C. on it, but then agreed to just put three out in a little dish (one for him, one for God, one for Goddess). I love to see him interact with his nature altars and now that he's a little older (4) I can place it somewhere that he can more easily access it and interact. He's free to add or take away from his nature altar. He can play at it or do nothing with it at all. I think his adding the Vitamin C was his way of bringing the Sun to his winter altar. :)

I'm really excited about doing some more active things with James. I love the Oak Meadow curriculum...it's so NOT a curriculum, NOT schooly, but has wonderful ideas, philosophies, and guides the reader in creating rythyms to our day. I also use the book "Circle Round" with my children, in the same way, for spiritual inspiration, ideas, and to naturally nurture my kid's little spirits. My "plan" (which will inevitably change because James will have a different idea) is to have a little Circle Time after our morning ritual of coffee/computer/cartoon/juice. I'm excited about journeying with another little one, who will be my last (as far as I know). What a lucky human I am!!

Erin and I watched "Romeo & Juliet" (the modern version) last night. It was really good, I thought. Tragic! We'll watch "West Side Story" tonight. It'll be interesting to compare/contrast the two.

Adam has come to the conclusion (on his own) that he doesn't want to play the war-themed video games that he's been playing. He's decided that although he knows they're not real, it just doesn't FEEL right to him and he doesn't feel it's something that he should play. Totally his decision and realization. What wonderful things happen when you trust your children.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

wow, i haven't posted here since October!! that's pretty lame. lol

After her Homeschool Leadership Retreat (which was fabulous), Amber came home and was a little unsure of what she wanted to do next. After lots of discussion and pondering and listening to her soul, she decided to stick with her decision to try going to college. But, she thought that maybe she would just go to Community College and take random courses, work part time, and save to go on the Homeschool Leadership Retreat in New Zealand in Fall 2011. After the holidays, she was feeling restless and like she just wasn't DOING anything. Amber is one who needs to be learning, engaged, enriched, and out there. And, basically, she was doing a whole lot of nothing (save her usual solitary activities) up in her room. She was started to sink into her depression and was feeling really crappy. We had a long talk and I made some suggestions and she had some realizations and things have changed since then. Amber is also a person who needs to have a purpose and ever since she was a very small child she would make lists and schedules for herself. So, she started setting some goals and making some lists and things got better. She applied for lots of jobs, took a trip to florida to see her guy, and has been productive in the small projects and tasks she's been giving herself. In December sometime, she realized that Community College isn't really what she wants and that she wanted to go back to her original plan of attending Chatham College. So, we applied, spent a couple of months doing the financial aid stuff, got her transcript and resume together, she went to an optional interview (if you choose not to take the SATs), and we waited. Last week she got a letter of ACCEPTANCE!!!!!!! AND....she got a Trustee's Scholarship!!! I'm so proud of her. We're excited and she feels again like she has some direction. Amber is going to be a fantastic college student. It's just right for her. She's a very natural learner and one of those people who just glows when learning and really living life. She's very excited. And the best thing is that she UNSCHOOLED through all of school. WE UNSCHOOLED and had absolutely no problem getting into a good college when that was her choice. What an affirmation.

The other kids are doing great. Erin is quiet and indecisive and not sure where she is or what she wants to do. yeah, she's 15. :) Adam has chosen to do cyberschool and is doing really well with that. i think it suits him (even though he does complain every day). but, it's what he chose, so......and james is a little bright light buzzing around. he's a master lego builder and astounds us with his abilities and creations.

That's basically where we are. In a very small nutshell. Living, loving, and always learning.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


It's been quite awhile since I posted. I've never been good at consistently journaling or writing in a diary. sigh.

It's autumn, now, my very favorite season. I love spending time outside in autumn. The air is crisp and cooler, the colors are beautiful, farmers markets are plentiful and provide me with the things I need for canning, and I just have an overall sense of calm and preparation.

The kids and I have been doing more regular type school stuff, according to their request. They go through phases with the way they learn. Sometimes we are exclusively and radically unschooling and other times they want to sit down and "do Math" and "do History." I enjoy the flexibility and just responding to their needs at the time. Erin and I are continuing to work through the Consumer Math course that we got last year from Oak Meadow. We're reading Greek Mythology and she's still doing Geography (although I think her interest in that is kind of ending so I'm not sure how long we'll continue that). She also expressed interest in doing Chemistry so I found a book at the thrift store and we're going to dive into that. That should be interesting!! Erin is very interest in make up (she's considering being a make-up artist in the future...for movies and fashion) so she and her friend are learning about making mineral make-up, which is cool. Adam is interested in History and has expressed the need (not "want" since he hates it) to improve his handwriting and general writing skills....so we're doing that together. James spends HOURS (literally) building Legos which is really awesome. I'm really impressed at his ability at only 4 years old (and he JUST turned 4). That's what he spends most of his time doing. Obviously, I see no need for any kind of instruction or "lessons" at his age. Occasionally, he wants to do "lessons" because he sees his big brother doing it. So, we sit down and cut paper or play playdoh or color. That lasts about 20 minutes. LOL

Amber (18) is off in Portland, on her Homeschooling Leadership Retreat. She'll be back in November. I'm so happy for her and proud of her. She amazes me. I love watching her move out into the world. :)

Life is good, winter is coming, and we're content in our big old house. :)