A Little About Shiloh and Homemade Toothpaste

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Shiloh is 11 and she is currently the 3rd oldest at home. She is sandwiched between double brothers at home. 2 older, 2 younger. Now, in truth, she has a brother that is 22 but since he went away to the Air Force and no longer locks her in dog crates when I run an errand she likes him quite alot. I am glad to say that when he visits he no longer locks his siblings in dog crates at all, for which we are all thankful.
In my quest for interesting books I found,Joey Green’s Incredible Country Store, Potions, Notions, and Elixers of the Past , at the library and brought it home. Shiloh has been having the best time reading it because it is full of recipes for everything from Oreos and Tootsie Rolls to homemade toothpaste and cleaners. She has been reading it and making a list of things she wants me to buy so she can experiment with some of the recipes. One is the toothpaste, which seems to fascinate her. Something about the idea of making your own toothpaste that intriques her 11 year old mind. This is the recipe…

Homemade Toothpaste

8 tbs baking soda
2 tsp peppermint flavor
3 Tablespoons glycering. Blend and store in a small sanitized glass jar, tightly sealed. Makes 1/3 cup.

How cool is that? (ack..my time is running out.)
I was going to post a picture of her off my photobucket album that i have stored but I think that I am going to have to come back to do it…
Have I said yet today that I cant wait until I have a computer at my house again? >:(

..Obvioulsy I came back…
And I have a little more time…..
One of the things that I really enjoy about homeschooling is getting the opportunity to really get to know my kids in all their varying stages and interests. Their ideas challenge my thinking often (just wait until you meet Matt, affectionately refered to as Huck around here…He really enjoys Thoreau, and I can easily imagine him living at Walden’s Pond..). Their individuality keeps me creative both in my everyday life and in my teaching.
Shiloh is interested in recipes, not because she is the suzy homemaker type, but because she is fascinated by the chemical reactions that occur. Bread baking for her, rather than the culinary meditation it is for me, is for her a fascinating journey into the land of yeast spores, released gasses and rising capabilities. I imagine that she is more interested in the chemical reactions of the paste on the tartar than she is in being self sufficient. For my oldest daughter reading this book would have been credited under homemaking but for Shiloh it is definitely all about science!
In your learning journey be sure that you understand what your children are actually wanting to learn…a small change in perspective can make all the difference.

Just Blogging Around

One of the fun things about summer is that with things more relaxed you can spend a little time reading other people’s blogs and checkingout thier thoughts and ideas. I thought that I would post a couple interesting one’s that I have come across in my meanderings today..
The first is Farm School, a blog by Becky. There are several book reviews on her site that I found interesting…and of course, I loved the name!!! The last entry she writes is a review of a book, From “‘Grandma, tell me a farm story’…and boy, did she ever” by Susan L. Rife …
I love reality type history books. I think it is important to read historical fiction and fiction based on fact because your kids (and you) get such an excellent feel for the people and the way they lived, thought, and survived. It lays an awesome base for later when the kids learn the dates and such, they all ready have a strong understanding of the times.
Another is by a blogger in Fla, Kari. Her blog, Crazy Everyday Blessings is about her daily life homeschooling 3 kids. I loved the name, again, could not resist the title! 😉 The pictures she has posted are amazing (and I will start posting pictures as SOON as I get my computer back at home..:P) Her kids are much more spread out than mine, the oldest getting ready to enter community college, the middle being in 3rd grade and then a toddler…I think that would be much harder to manage than my 6 at home!
Have a reluctant writer? You might enjoy this blog A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief. I really like her views on writing..“But the truth is all writing is creative. It takes as much creativity and cleverness to write a cogent, powerful essay as it does to write a short story (perhaps more). However because the word “creative” is usually associated with the arts, we tend to view creativity through a lens of “not as real” or “not as challenging” or “not as academic” as some other form of writing. Let me disspell that misconception now.” So true!
Another eclectic blog is The Brew* Crew Adventure..You have to check out the picture of the kids taking out the trash Posted on the first of July. LOL!
As for us, we are still trudging through the muck that is our lives right now! Muck is a good thing though, you know? I mean, it is very fertile and grows things really well. Hopefully we are growing by leaps and bounds.
MArc is doing better today, maybe will try a few hours at work tomorrow if the painkillers dont mess up his head to badly. Talk about revisiting your sinful and wasted (in more ways than one) teen years.. :/ As I left the house to come to the library this mornign to blog, SHiloh had our gelding, Buddy, out in the front yard..shampooing him with L’oreal kids shampoo (berry scented I think?) and trying to get and incredibly big knot out of his tail. The little boys were helping her (don’t tell them I called them little) and Kyrie was taking care of Daddy. I am so proud of the way that all of the kare stepping up to the plate and helping through this time…there have been few complaints, and I have heard many, many instances of prayer happening while they went about thier daily tasks. The older kids have checked in from their homes and busy lives (Pa. and Ut.) and I know that alot of people are praying for us. You know, that is really awesome. I think the best lesson of all is learning to pull together in the hard times, both within the nuclear family and the extended family. We can disagree on certain things, or maybe not….know eachother in IRL, or maybe not…but so many of you have emailed me, called and stuff just to let me know that you were thinking of us…and then there are those of you who have provided meals, even from across the country…sent flowers and just have encouraged and blessed me so much…thanks! Really…Thank you so much.

Just A Drive By Hi!

We had a long day at the V.A. hospital today and I got to the library with only 20 minutes to be on computer…so I really can’t formulate my thoughts into anything cohesive and witty..
I keep coming back to the stress I am feeling of trying to run a household, restore a house, care for livestock, school, and take care of Marc who was put on an even stronger pain med today and continues on bed rest.
And each time I feel that churning in my stomach…I am encouraged. I am encouraged because I believe that God has my life in control. I am encouraged ebcause I am still following my purpose..my children are learning to care for others, to look outside themselves. I am encouraged because my older kids are reading to the younger kids to help them win the prizes for the most books read at the library.
What ever your season find the lessons in it and learn them as well as you can. Gotta go..only 3 minutes left!

Adios, Teenagers!

I did a search and found the link for our house..in case you are interested. Our House It has some interior shots… FOrgive the commercialism…I was trying to sell it at the time.

Well a few hours ago I dropped the two teen boys off at church. They are on their way to youth camp for the week. I believe they packed everything they could need; at least one pair of underwear (each, I hope), toothbrushes, and makeup.
Yeah. See I think that youth camp is all about painting toenails…the GUYS toenails if they are silly enough to fall asleep.
Here at home Shiloh (11) , Sean (8), Nick (7), and Kyrie (4) will be helping me hold down the fort…Marc is still on bedrest and so we are doing quite alot. Taking on more seems daunting at the moment but it is all worth it when the older boys come home invigorated..and appreciative!
They doubled up on school a few weeks ago so that they would not be behind. I didn’t even have to encourage that! WHOOHOOO!
Math is one of those subjects that has been a struggle at our house. I am just not convinced in the wisdom of unschooling mathmatics and so I have tried program after program. For years I settled with Saxon, even though I was dissatisfied with it.
This year I bought Math U See.
DING! WOW! We love it. Really. Matt is using it for algebra….The rest of the kids are hurdling through it in an amazing way. It is set up so if they learn a concept the first time they can skip on, if not there are several pages of practice. Kyrie builds with the manipulatives while the others work on their lesson and I just answer questions as they come up..I like it!
The hardest part of Math U See for us has been keeping up with the manipulatives which look a bit like legos, at least to a 4 year old with a creative mind. So, to offset THAT I have offered a reward of a penny a piece when it is found and returned to the box.
Anyway…Math-U-See has a blog, Math U See and there are some interesting bits of information as well as informatin about using it.
Here is another blogger that is considering it Halfpint House
Well, as usual the library timer is ticking down and I have three minutes to hit publish! HAve a great day!

Living and Learning Green

One of the things I hate about library computers is the timer at the top of the page..it makes me hurry and make more spelling mistakes than normal. Hopefully we will have internet back at the house soon..there are several blogs that I have on my fvorite places that Iwant to share with you and I can’t get to them here. 🙁
So, you all ready know I am a firm believer in life-schooling…it is always funny when the kids’ sunday school/kids church teachers ask my kids what they are doing since school is out..they are doing all the same things as when school is in! Once in awhile we call a free for all day and toss academics and non-vital chores out the window and head to the creek to swim or just lay around and watch movies..but everyone gets bored with much of that..
Today we moved our 6 week old barred rock chicks outside. They have been housed in the office, and it was starting to smell ..bad. Really bad. In order to move the chicks out we had to re-fence the old buck pen because the bucks have been enjoying the chicken pen since a tree fell on the buck pen…then we had to move them..then clean the chicken coop that the bucks had been using as housing..phew..then we had to figure out how to fence the chicks into a smaller space that they could not slip out of and that the raccoons could not slip into. I used the orange vinyl emergency fencing that you can get at home depot and some plastic t posts and that did the trick.
So we learned. We learned to problem solve and we learned that when mom forgets sunscreen her shoulders turn lobster red and hurt. 😛
After lunch, and checking on Daddy, who is still on painkillers and bedrest (hey -that would be a great name for a blog, wouldn’t it??) we took a quick break and watched a show on PBS on how to make your house more *green*. Today’s show was on collecting rain water and I really am fascinated with that concept. if I haven’t mentioned..we are restoring a 4300 sq ft farm house that is 100 years old and had been abandoned…If you go to Pecan Knoll Farm and click on the link on the first page it should take you to some pictures of the house. It is coming along..but we have been working on it 4 years. I am interested in sustainable agriculture and building practices..as well as self sufficiency. I was interested in it back int he 70’s when all of us hippies wanted to move somewhere and homestead. It seems most people grew out of it..I did not.
Anyway..so as I learned about collecting rain water they did too. And we have decided to collect some information on that and see about building a container and putting up gutters. As I was thinking about the learning and research that would be involved I realized that it would encompass many subjects including engineering and physics, history, geography, meterology, and hands on building practice. Even my four year old was asking questions. And I was reminded of the little calendars they do in elementary school where you mark a happy sun if it is sunny and a cloud if it is cloudy and a rain drop if it is rainy…I think we are moving beyond that.
I believe kids will meet our expectations…it is just that so often we set them so low. The things we say,the things we do all show our children what we think they can accomplish. The power of life and death is certainly in the tongue and when we underestimate our children’s abilities we do them a great disservice.
Have a blessed weekend.

What Is Your Purpose?

As long as I have been homeschooling I have seen it (and done it) all. One of the biggest problems I see in ALL homeschoolers, new and not so new, is that we feel like we need to do it all. It isn’t good enough to give our kids an education..nope..we have to surpass any OTHER education possible…So we stress over if we are getting enough math, if we should start 2 or 3 languages in kindegarten and which spelling program to use. And ultimately we burn out.
That burn out is a good thing, if you are experiencing it. Some people stop and give up at that point but since you are reading this I am assuming you are searching for encouragement and a solution.
Here it is.
What is it that you are trying to achieve?
I don’t care what the commercials say you can’t have it all. The trick to long term, sucessful homeschooling is to decide what your goals are and set your face like flint toward them. Not to say that you shouldn’t be flexible within those goals..but just that you should have something you are trying to achieve.
For our family, MArc and I decided that having 8 rocket scientists would be excellent for our retirement plan but that that would not be a good eternal goal. So our first goal is that our children grow up to be:
1. Dedicated to Christ in all they do
2. Responsible, well adjusted adults
3. Mature, compassionate, kind, dedicated
4 Have common sense
5. Have a love of learning

O.k..notice that none of those things forces me to jam the multiplication tables down their throat at age 2? Not that they should not learn multiplication but it does take the pressure off!
Reviewing those goals often helps me to keep learning difficulties in perspective. We can plan and prioritize our days/weeks/months without feeling like failures if we are unable to complete what is scheduled in any particular time period.
Because really, we all have those seasons in our lives where not only are academics NOT the priority but they shouldn’t be!
Last summer the kids at church were challenged by the kids church pastor to give sacrificially to missions. I have real issues with churches asking for pledges from adults and when they ask kids to pledge money it does get under my skin..but my daughter told her kids pastor that, although she could not pledge, she wanted to give.
She came home and asked if she could sell bread. At 11 she makes a pretty good loaf of whole wheat (freshly ground wheatberries) bread and I saw no reason why she shouldn’t. She spent time making flyers, making labels, grinding flour, making bread and distributing it ..and she gave well over one hundred dollars.
During that time some of her school assignments did not get done. I let it go, not because I am lackidaisical (gosh, is that how you spell that?) with her education but because she was getting another kind of education and developing skills and character traits that she would have a hard time developing within the pages of a text book. I felt no guilt or stress because she was operating within the bounds of my priority list…she was learning to serve and learning compassion. She raised the most money amoung the kids, went back to her academics and is richer for the experience.
I ask you again, if you are feeling frustrated, pushed, overscheduled and burnt out..What are your goals and priorities for your children long term? Write a list of 4-6 of them and use that to order your steps.
🙂 Your are doing great! Keep up the good work!

One of the websites that I really like is The Well Drained Mind Several people write it and it is alwan excellent place to go for encouragement and laughter, thoughtful words and advice. Give it a try!

Peeking in…

Well, I am the new writer here. It’s funny because I am coming in at probably one of the most chaotic times in my life…As I write this I am sitting at a library computer because both..yes BOTH of my computers have crashed…My husband is in the VA hospital on morophine for pain…and I just found out that our tennents have broken contract and moved, leaving us with a mess and a payment due.
Now, you ask, what has this to do with homeschooling?
You see, in my experience (and I have been homeschooling since 1989) homeschooling would better be termed, life schooling. We learn as we walk through our hardships and our blessings and our children learn as they walk through it with us. Is there a better way for a child to learn patience, faith, trust, hope, self disipline and prayer than watching thier parents learn those very same lessons?
As I contemplated writing this, my VERY first post here, I thought about so much that I wanted to say…funny things…wise and pithy comments…things that would intrigue and have you nodding and liking me all ready. I find though, that what I am saying is ….whatever you are walking through in your life right now is teaching your children something about something. If you are in the midst of hardship they are learning with you..if you are in the midst of planting a vegetable garden then they are learning botany…Starting a family business? Economics…
Begin to think in terms of lifeschool. We get so concerned about whether or not our children are learning..about whether or not we are teaching adequately….should we be doing latin? Is our art progam enough?
You are doing a great job, Mom and Dad…keep at it!
And I will post something wise and pithy as soon as I can.
Blessings to you!

Home School Central Seeking Writer

Home schooling is set to explode.  If you keep up with the statistics, you’ll know that the last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in home schooling families in the U.S. and abroad.  If you would like to take over a great blog with incredible potential, please contact Joe Long at jlong at contentquake dot com

Taking the Plunge

It would be an understatement to say that I’ve become obsessed with this idea of unschooling. In fact, this week I decided to take the plunge. Pretty brave of me considering there’s really only a month left in the school year. My 13 year old will be working on her 4-H projects. She chose four this year and July will be here soon enough. Those involve writing, photography, digital imaging, and art. I’m not sure what my 8 year old will be doing but it will most likely involve animals. We’ve been doing a lot of planting the past few weeks and we’re seeing the fruits of our labor. It’s so cool to watch plants begin to grow.

I’ve been reading The Unschooling Handbook for guidance and reassurance that this actually works. I love the following characteristics that the unschooling process tends to produce:

  • To unschoolers, learning is as natural as breathing
  • Unschoolers realize that different people learn in different ways and at different speeds
  • Unschoolers tend to be less peer-centered (yeah!!!)
  • Unschoolers have a good sense of self and confidence in their own ability to learn and figure things out.
  • Unschoolers are less likely to accept someone else’s word as fact. They are critical thinkers.

I’m excited about this new step we’re taking and I’m so looking forward to seeing my girls begin to really enjoy learning.


My last post about unschooling and helping our kids pursue their passions got me thinking about my own experiences. In 6th grade I took algebra and my teacher was a computer programmer. I don’t remember why he left his programming job to be a teacher but my experience with him definitely swayed me toward computer science. I also remember taking tests around that same time to see what careers might fit my skills and giftings. I remember statistician being one of the career recommendations. Since it was so many years ago I can’t be sure about my reasons for choosing computer science but I do remember earning potential weighing in pretty high. Fast forward ten years and I remember sitting in a computer lab with a fellow college student discussing how in the world we ended up choosing this major. We didn’t even enjoy programming!!! I don’t think I knew what my passions were when I chose a career path. Money was my motivator and I did end up graduating and getting a really nice job offer but…..

I don’t know why my passions were such a mystery to me. My eight year old reminds me a lot of myself as a child. Animals were my passion and I wanted to be a vet. Somewhere along the way I abandoned that idea. A few years ago I was at the Milwaukee Zoo with my girls and I felt a pang of remorse as I watched the sea lion show. How cool would it be to handle sea lions? At that moment, it seemed really clear to me that I should have followed a career path that included working with animals. How did I get so far away from what I really loved? Is there something about public school that pushes your passions out of the picture? Was there something else in my life that pushed my passions deep down inside of me? This is quite possibly what keeps me up at night.