Homeschool weeks 23-26

The last month has felt very much like summer.

We finished our last 6th grade block a few weeks ago. I. made this pinhole camera for his final project. (It’s a kit). It is pretty amazing how it works with no electronics. We haven’t developed any pictures from it yet. And, that, by the way, was a whole discussion. How film is developed. It is totally foreign to most of this generation of children.


So, 6th grade is over. I probably won’t be posting weekly homeschool updates since we are mostly spending most of our time outside in our garden. (Aside from the hours I seem to spend in the kitchen.)

I’m starting to work on my planning for the fall. 7th grade and 1st grade and keeping a 4 year old preschooler busy. It really love planning. Weird, I know.

We have gone on several hikes in the last few weeks. My husband’s relatives were visiting from out of state and we went on a lovely forest hike on the coast. Then, when we went camping with some homeschool friends, we took a short hike to see one of the waterfalls. We found a perfect spot for splashing in the creek on that hike, the kids had so much fun. (And my camera battery was dead, so no pictures).

We are heading to fiddle camp for my oldest in two weeks. I’ll be camping there with my three kids for four nights. An adventure, for sure. My son is so excited. In the past few years, he was always lukewarm about going, so we never did it. (And I had a little baby at the time, which made the prospect less appealing). I’m excited for him to be immersed in music for a few days.

Our chickens are growing well and happy. They’ll be getting a new house soon, as we need to replace their coop. We are leaning towards building a pallet coop.

Polly our Polish. (This chicken, by the way, is the sweetest and smartest chicken I’ve ever met. She just can’t see very well, poor thing. I’m going to have to trim the feathers around her eyes, I think.)


Goose and Star getting a drink.


And our big girls. Rose, Ella, Artemis and Peaches.  (None are broody!! Yay! I am only glad because they seem to really ignore their physical needs when broody. Their combs get floppy, they lose weight, and they are more prone to fleas and lice. )


And so, summer has begun!


Homeschool weeks 21 & 22

It’s  beginning to feel like summer. The weather is changing, of course, and the days are growing so very long (it was daylight at 5:30am am this morning!). And we are winding down our school year, but still as busy as ever as we transition to spending our days outside more and more. Baths have becomes a necessity each day as children have layers of dirt on their feet and legs by the end of the day. We’ve been enjoying watermelon again. And we’ve had to start running the fans in the house on warm days. (It makes me ever so grateful for our cool evenings!)

We are still trekking along with our lessons, though they are feeling different. Our geology block is nearly done. I. is working on a research paper on rockhounding. It is a stretch for him, I’m gently nudging him to stretch out his wings and do some writing and research, which isn’t something I’ve pushed much yet. I’m teaching him how to take notes and think about how to organize his information. Next week, he’s going to work on the composition of his paper. Writing has always been a struggle for him, and I’ve gone through phases of backing off and pushing him more. I’ve gotten better as knowing when to back off and when to push, in terms of what serves him best and keeps our relationship intact. I’ve been working on really building his confidence in writing, as I know that is the biggest block for him. So, I’m pleased with how this assignment has gone so far.

This geology block has also caused him to discover a new hobby! Rrock hounding! We’ve spent a day each weekend out exploring a new local nature spot while looking for some good rocks. This weekend with triple digits forecasted, we plan to drive a bit to get into the mountains and look for some rocks there.

In addition to geology, we also did some math, lots of knitting, music, and Gaelic (via Duolingo).

Kindergarten is much of the same. Stories. Singing.  Cooking. Playing. Penny whistle lessons. Digging in the dirt. Making fairy houses. The usual.

Last night, we transitioned the babies to sleeping outside. They did just fine in the coop. I was only slightly nervous because two of our hens are broody and mean to them right now. But, all the chickens just slept through the night, so it was fine.


Homeschool weeks 19&20

Yes, I’ve been a little preoccupied. I think about writing a blog post on this or that, but it doesn’t happen. After June 7, I should have my free time back. These days, I spend most of my time phone banking for Bernie. It has been quite a journey, honestly. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone again and again these last few weeks. I even mustered up the courage to go canvassing, door to door! And I’m so glad I did, it was an awesome experience. And I’m so glad I took the 12 year old with me, I think he really benefited from it. We only had one rude, cussing person. Everyone else was kind. Bernie Sanders has ignited in me a passion and hope for our future.  Until a few months ago, I literally ignored the news and purposefully stayed in the dark most of the time. I still filter what I read because some news affects me on a deep level and is too much to handle, but I’ve never cared so much about a politician, let alone a presidential  candidate. Ok, I won’t go on more. This isn’t meant to be a political post.

Two weeks ago, we went and saw Bernie in person! I know, I just said no more politics. But, it was the highlight of our week. It was a hot day and the lines were long. I left H. home as he hates heat and lines. I. and P. came with me. We all loved it. We didn’t start anything new, homeschool-wise, that week, because that event was all day, with the waiting, and we were then only left with 2 school days before I. went to his outdoor school on Friday. So, we did math, knitting and music with I. Well, music happens daily. In fact, most days I have to tell him that’s enough, time to put the violin away.

Last week, we started our geology block. It’s our last big block of 6th grade. A few months ago, when I told him we’d be doing geology in the Spring, there was lots of complaining, saying it sounded boring. But, now that we’ve begun, he absolutely loves it!

He finished his 6th grade math workbook. That felt like an accomplishment! However, based on experience, I know we can’t put math away until September. And, I. agrees. So, I’ll be pulling out occasional practice problems, just review, over the next few months until he starts 7th grade in September. I’ve also decided that I’m going to have him work on foreign language over the summer. That somehow always gets pushed to the wayside after a few weeks. We will probably use Duolingo. In the past, we used it  to learn some German, but he’s lately really expressed and interest in Japanese.

P. and H. are doing lots of playing, of course. P. has started singing and making up songs. H. is getting most excited about starting 1st grade in the Fall. He has his own garden and it is bigger than mine!  He is such a help in the yard, he does all kinds of weeding and planting and likes to water the garden.

We took a family trip to the forest this weekend. It was drizzly weather and wonderful. After our walk through the forest, the kids played on the bank of the river, finding rocks and snails. P. of course managed to get water into her boots and her pants soaking wet. If the weather had been warmer, they would have all stripped down. But, it was still fun, even in the cold wet weather.

I am wishing more and more lately that I had a smart phone. I downgraded to a regular  not-smart phone a few years ago to assist me in being more present in my life. (It really worked.) But, that also means I can’t snap pictures as easily for this blog. I have a regular camera, but my laptop is down until I get a new charger and so I can’t upload the pictures. This is why you don’t see more pictures here.

Speaking of pictures,

Our babies are getting big! They are between 7-9 weeks now. They don’t need a light anymore and they spend their days outside. They still do spend their nights in their brooder inside our house, because I think it’s still a bit cold outside at night. But, I expect in the next few weeks, we’ll transition them to being fully outside. We are pretty sure we have one rooster, the langshan. But, only time will tell.

Homeschool weeks 17 & 18

Two weeks in one post here.

Last week, we wrapped up our three week block studying the Middle Ages. Have I mentioned how much I love history? Probably. I’m grateful that my boy also loves it. He was most fascinated with learning about the weapons and the clothes of those times. He also started getting very interested in lutes. He has been pretty much glued to his fiddle lately. So, this reading on lutes lead him to mandolins. His old fiddle teacher also plays and teaches the mandolin, so it isn’t a new instrument to his awareness. But, his recent love of fiddling has kindled a general love for playing music.

We had been planning and saving up to upsize his violin to a full size this month, although he hasn’t totally maxed out his 3/4. And when we went to the music store for some new strings (one of his broke), he saw they had this lovely used mandolin for sale. I got the make and model of it and went home to research. It turns out it was made in Japan in the late 70s and is solid wood. Perfect condition. I. agreed that instead of upsizing his violin, he’ll stay on his 3/4 one and buy this lovely mandolin instead.  So, that was the big event last week. He loves it. It is strung like a fiddle, so he can already pick out some basic tunes on it.

This week, we’ve had more and more fiddle music. I. has taken to listening to Irish fiddle music on pandora when he washes the dishes after dinner. He’s learned quite a few of the songs, and has pretty much only Irish fiddle music on his iPod now. The times are rare that he isn’t fiddling, listening to fiddle music, or looking up new music to play. All his free time is fiddling. What a change from 6 months ago when he hadn’t touched his fiddle in months.

For lessons this week, we are doing a short physics block on energy. Namely, static and magnetic energy. I. did some reading on Tesla and Edison and he’s been playing around with some fun experiments.

This week, H made hedgehog-shaped bread, to tie into the story I told him this week. I’ve been steadily reading the first grade curriculum and am getting more excited about starting that with him in the fall.

H also built, on his own, this little shelter today.

Trying it out.

He had plans to sleep under it tonight, but thankfully finally changed his mind after about half an hour of trying to fall asleep.

In animal news, I gave all four hens a full bath this past weekend. That was a new experience. They all survived. I got pretty wet when our moodier then decided she’d had enough and tried to fly away, wet, while I was holding her. I even blew dry two of them who were needing some help drying faster.

Enjoying a new garden bed that we just put in. They think it was just for them, I think. 


The babies (as I call our chicks) are all doing well. They are 6-9 weeks old. We’ve been taking them out to the yard to get some greens and dirt when the weather is warm. They love the dandelions and the clover!


The kids have already started playing in the sprinklers. Late April/early May seems just too early for that. I think we are going to have a HOT summer.

Homeschool week 16

I don’t have much to say about this week. Things went smoothly. Lots of outside playing and working. It’s been way too hot for April here, and we’ve already had to get out the fans for our child who hates the heat.

The usual went down this week. Monday, we clean house and this week, I spent 2.5 hours driving I. back and forth to farm school. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we had our usual homeschooling days. Circle time for the younger two, stories and books. Math, and knitting, and music for I. along with making progress in our Medieval block. He especially is fascinated by learning about the clothes they wore.

Fiddling. So much fiddling in our house! About 6 months ago, he told me he was done with his fiddle and that I should sell it. I didn’t. He has found a renewed interest in it a few weeks ago, and plays is all the time now. As in, sometimes that’s how I know he’s finally out of bed: I hear him playing.

Coughing. I’ve had this nasty lingering cough for weeks. I kept thinking it’d just go away. On week 3, I decided I needed to do something. Thank goodness for herbs! I found this awesome tincture called Serious Cough Soother by Wishgarden Herbs (one of my favorite companies). I also took Osha tincture. Within days, my cough was 75% better, and it almost all gone now. I’m just glad to be done with peeing in my pants all day long from my coughing attacks!

Nails. P. has been asking for nail polish for a while. I finally bought some Piggy Paints and, wow, she has just loved it! H. and P. picked out some colors.


I. took his Guinea pigs outside for the first time this week. It is adorable to watch them nibbling the grass. They love it.


I have to share one more picture. Rose, our broody hen, watching our cat taking a dust.



Homeschool week 10

Monday was busy. Always is. We have a few short hours in the morning to do a slew of chores, breakfast and cleanup, and then get a short bit of homeschool work in for I. He heads off by 11:30 for the rest of the day to his Naturalist class at farm school and we don’t see him again until nearly 6pm. So, as usual, this week our Monday morning was busy. Except that I. woke in a cranky mood and was just upset about everything. So, he spent his morning upset and angry, and we just didn’t get homeschool work in. The struggle to push it didn’t seem worth it that morning.

Tuesday found us up in Portland for dentist appointments for H. and P.  P. had a filling done, and it was done without any anesthesia or gas or anything. She did amazing and just laid there. H. did great, as well. We had lunch out, then headed back home. The day felt spent by then, so I decided it would be a good day to go get hair cuts for the boys. A projected wait of 12 minutes turned into an hour and we were all ready to be home already!

Wednesday and Thursday we got to stay home, and it was glorious. I spent most of Wednesday catching up from being out of the house the day before. I. did lots of math, and practiced his flute, and finished up reading Little Men. I got our March circle time going for H. and P., and that was fun. I love learning the new songs together.

Today, I. is gone all day, from early morning until past dinner time, to farm school again, as he is every Friday. I had planned a quiet day at home, full of preschool and kindergarten activities (circle time, painting, baking) but H. was up almost the entire night, unable to sleep due to a little cold. He’s better today, though mostly just sleeping, since he hardly slept last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to stay up almost the entire night, and I am feeling a tad nostalgic about the nights of attending home births, and coming home and having to be on all day, in spite of the exhaustion.  I don’t drink coffee anymore, so I mostly just lean into the tiredness and let it be, and get done what needs to be done.  Feeding P. Making green juice and smoothie. Cleaning dishes. Chopping wood for our hungry wood stove. Sweeping the ever-dirty floor. Making lunch. Doing our daily two loads of laundry.  I can’t quite wrap my head around dinner yet, but it’ll get it figured out.

I was lucky enough to see Dr. Wayne Dyer when he came to Portland last year, just months before he passed away.  And, his voice, quoting the Tao Te Ching, echoes in my head almost daily whenever I feel overwhelmed: “I do nothing, and yet I leave nothing undone.” This is my mantra, and it gives me strength to move forward.

Homeschool – week 9

This week we started a 4 week math block. We do math daily the whole school year, but during out math blocks, we really focus on it and introduce more new stuff, or have fun with geometric drawing, etc.

Tuesday being my birthday, I. apparently felt it was a holiday and refused to do much of anything, but we got lots of math done on Wednesday and Thursday. He also discovered that he really likes percentages. In Waldorf, 6th grade includes business math, so there will much more percentages in the coming weeks. He’s getting closer to his model mosque being finished, it just needs painting.

P. And H. spent the week playing (their work). We are planning some outings in the morning tomorrow followed by watercoloring, including some color stories.

The week really just sped by, and so did each day. I am facing such a huge learning curve still on this homemaking thing, coupled with really grappling with how to best guide my oldest, day to day. It can feel so tough. I had a few mommy meltdowns this week, which I haven’t had in a while. Emotions have been really intense for me this week.

Tonight when meditating on our week, I had some sudden realizations about I. specifically. We need to get back to working on will-building activities. To being with, I’m going to start spending 30 minutes sitting with I. while he does a hand sewing project (and I’ll work on some other handwork). When we’ve done handwork like this in the past, I’ve noticed such a huge change in him, yet somehow it has fallen by the wayside in our busy days. Time to make it a priority. I will also get back to writing for I. a weekly/daily to-do list. He does so much better having it written out, rather than me telling him orally what needs to happen. This isn’t a chore list, but encompasses everything. Homeschool work, hygiene (shower, teeth), music practice, Guinea pig duties, etc. Since Christmas I haven’t really done this, and I think it’s time to get back to it.

I know how easy it is to read about other people’s lives and envision that they have it all together, or that their life seems to flow so easily, etc. Well, maybe not everyone does that, but I do.  Which is one reason I really limit my time on places like Pinterest, other blogs, and even social media. On the flip side, as someone writing a blog, I know how easy it is to portray my life through rose colored glasses. For one thing, it feel satisfying to recount the ‘good’ stuff, and additionally, it can be really hard to admit the ‘hard’ stuff, especially when it involves myself and my parenting mishaps. I also know how validating and supportive it feels to hear that other people struggle with x,y, z just like I do! Also, just like I tell my husband sometimes, I’m not looking for advice or to be reminded to appreciate these days of chaos. I’m just sharing to be heard. Because I’m home a whole lot with no other adults around. In fact, I can go days without speaking to anyone except my kids and husband. So, what I’m getting at here, I suppose, is simply that I am doing my best to share the uplifting stuff, but also the real stuff. I’m embracing it all.

On that note, how about a picture (or three)? This is what happens if we leave our back door open at all. Four chickens who want to be house pets.  You can’t see them well, but in the first picture, two of our (black) cats are sitting there, watching them. imageimageimage

Homeschool recap for the week

I plan on writing a summary of our homeschooling week each Thursday. We do lessons Monday through Thursday, most weeks, and thus have a 4 day school week.

Seeing as how this is the first week of this blog, I will review our homeschool stats. I is in 6th grade, and just turned 12. H is in second year kindergarten, is 6.5 years old. And my preschooler is P who is 3.5 years old now. We have been using Waldorf curriculum  (this one, to be specific) for two years now. Love it! I’ll probably blog more about our journey that lead us to Waldorf at some point in the future.  My 6th grader uses Making Math Meaningful math curriculum, by Jamie York.

This week, we were wrapping up a three week block on Islam for my 6th grader. He’s been building a model of a mosque out of hot glue, Popsicle sticks, and clay. It isn’t quite done but he wants to finish it, so that’ll spill over into next week. It has been a wonderful block for us both, and we’ve both learned a lot! I’ve been surprised to see how I has enjoyed this block, more than any other block this year. He is a true history lover, too, and that adds to his enjoyment. He worked on his math each day this week, as usual, and that went well. Today he learned about prime factorization. He’s also done a number of sketches. He’s really improving. He did one of his brother and it looks so much like him.

My kindy boy has been doing a lot of his usual this week: drawing and building fairy houses.  He heard a Super Sam story, and had fun with that. We did a few penny whistle lessons. He isn’t always excited about doing them, but once we are in the middle of it, he loves it. This week, he’s also been busy chopping wood. He’s quite good at it, and he feels so much pride at  being so capable. He and I also have been working on a chore chart for him this week. I wrote out a rough draft of what it’ll include, and he’s now drawing a picture of each thing on the final copy.

Today the kids also helped to plant some Japanese maple trees that my husband brought home. They were given to him for free, as they were being thrown out at a nursery where one of his tenants works. What?!? Crazy. Anyways, there was much discussion about where to plant them. H got busy digging a hole for one of them. It was a sunny warm day for February, and somehow H and P managed to make a mud pit and before long they were fully covered in mud. Playing ‘mud ball’ as P said. (Mud Ball is the name of one of her favorite sparkle stories.) That was a whole lot of work and cleanup for me, but they enjoyed themselves!