Home Education

I’ve been homeschooling for many years – since 2001! With five kids, I’ve been in it long enough to face challenges, hit walls, fail a lot, graduate kids, and still see so much fruit. I’m often asked questions about homeschooling – where do I start, what went wrong, why isn’t it working for us? I wrote a whole series walking you through some philosophy all the way down to the nitty gritty where the rubber meets the road so that I could hold your hand and walk with you and answer some of the questions I hear most often from you!

I’d love to have you alongside!

JOIn me

I’ve been sharing here in my little digital corner of the world wide web since 2007! And, friend, I’d love to have you alongside! I share about our faith, my journey in homeschooling, my home, organization & planning, and I share some about the grief of having my husband withdrawn from our family and our wonderful life – and how God fills our days, comforts our sadness, and directs our steps forward. Subscribe and all my new posts and printables will land in your inbox! I never spam, and I never sell email addresses!

Starting over.

I’m learning that nothing gets to be the same after loss. Nothing. And that includes homeschooling. I’m not sure why I have to keep relearning that lesson, but I do.

Nothing runs on the same tracks. Nothing moves the same. The chemistry of everything is different. And there is only one where there used to be a team of two. I’m learning and building new muscles and changing into a new person - in all things.

Becoming new means first acknowledging that nothing gets to be the same. And I sometimes have to remind myself of that reality multiple times a day - especially when I’m homeschooling and trying to plan or execute like I used to. It doesn’t work anymore. Even though I built a body of experience that can act as a rudder - a lot has to change.

So I line up the constants - the variables that don’t change. Like the need for ME to continue to see with the eyes of a child; to be open to wonder as a child is. And from there…He helps me see how to make all things new. Even lesson plans. And expectations.

Starting over with eyes open to wonder.

#homeschooling #lessonplanning #wisdombeginsinwonder #homeeducation #startingover #homeschool #homeschoolplanning #grief #griefchangesyou #griefchangeseverything #lifeafterloss #soloparenting #soloparent #soloparentingishard

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Lent begins.

The past two years I’ve ushered Lent in with open arms. Yes, Lord. Yes, to the cross. Yes, to Your Holy Will in my life. Yes, to surrender and pain. But…could you make it easy for me, Lord? Or, lately for me its wicked sister rears her head - it involves no small amount of whining and complaining on my part. Why, Lord? Why can’t things ever be easy?

Surrender and ease. I guess these two could hold hands when it comes to the sweet joys and consolations that come from God’s mercy and love - babies, blessings, other gifts. It’s easy to surrender to those. But deprivation, being misunderstood, loneliness, and pain - those aren’t easy at all.

That’s my incongruous prayer - surrender while longing for ease - and it’s settled into the corners of my heart in a way that tends to show itself in many ways.

I’m giving up ground in my heart this Lent. I’m giving up the ground that keeps holding a place for ease, and keeps giving way to fear when it doesn’t show up.

God has been preparing my heart for so long. Preparing me for this walk. For this fruit. For this suffering. For this Lent. For this beautiful gift. And I receive these gifts like a ravenous toddler who gulps down grace and then whines when she has to do something with it. 🫣

This Lent is about giving up ground for me. It’s about actively surrendering to the grace and accepting that the gifts of pain and pruning are for my good and the good of others if it pleases God. I’m giving up ground in my heart so that there’s room for a radical trust that can bear fruit. Eyes on the cross.

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I don’t know about you, but I like to know things. I like to plan. I like to know where I’m going, how I’m gonna get there, and as a mom, I have a need to know everyone’s gonna be ok when I get there.

Maybe it’s my temperament, or my mom nature, or the initial loss of footing after having lost husband/provider/protector. Maybe it’s the planner in me. 😉 Maybe it’s all of the above.

But life doesn’t work that way. And that’s where faith rises up to meet the unknown road ahead.

In George Macdonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, Princess Irene is given a mystical ring by her grandmother. Tied to this ring is an exquisitely thin but strong thread. In times of trouble Irene could find the thread and follow it home, but is warned that following the thread may not always be simple or straightforward. This thread saved Irene, but not without a harrowing adventure requiring trust!

We all make plans. I did. I married and planned to grow old with the man that I loved, that fell in love with me and created children with me, and I planned to lean on him, rest with him, love and be loved by him, and follow that thread to a time we could be content with our work here.

God’s thread in our life never stopped its beautifully ordered stretch, but the trajectory I was expecting veered wildly to the fixed and ordered path God desired. And it was shocking at first. That’s not where my eyes were originally focused. How could I know things now? How could I know anything?

I found myself out of any kind of familiar territory. Which, really, was God’s plan all along. He wants me to quit trying to look so far down the path and start clinging to that thread of *right now*. He wants me to take the next step without knowing anything about the road ahead.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths. Psalm 118: 105

You know what strikes me about that verse? The lamp is for the next step forward - like Irene’s thread followed hand over hand. It doesn’t illuminate the future. I was never meant to know those things - I’m just supposed to follow the thread to Him, and He will illuminate my path, one step at a time. Fiat.

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Life after the shatter is about stretching. It is…


You can throw out the “stages of grief.” Walk away from that outdated idea that you get to move from one neat stage to another. That’s not gonna happen. You might feel three “stages” of grief all at once, or none at all, and it’s all normal.

Life after the shatter involves no small amount of courage because the one thing no one talks about is the potential to get stuck in grief. There is a fine line between leaning in and drowning.

I don’t get to give you the secret to not getting stuck in grief (because I don’t know it), but I can tell you it’s rooted in surrender. It’s planted at the foot of the cross, which is the only source of peace in grief. You can try to pick up this cross on your own; it will break you. You can surrender it and find the peace that surpasses all understanding. And from there, I’m beginning to see the newness He is making in me. He makes all things new! And that’s equal parts terrifying and exciting to see what God works in you!

I’m not the first person to stretch toward the unknown. 2000 years ago Joseph and Mary set out, in piercing cold, toward the unknown. I think of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s heart on that journey - full of uncertainty and also full of trust. And nestled safely just under her heart was the Divine Infant, the Savior of mankind. With Him, she could trust and stretch toward Bethlehem, toward God’s Holy Will in her life, not knowing that her stretching would take her to a crude, poor shelter surrounded by God’s most humble creatures where she would receive Him in her arms.

Two Advents ago my journey to Bethlehem went through a hospital room and the most terrifying nightmare of my life. Today, He stretches me differently while making that hospital room ever present. Our journey to Bethlehem is unique and chosen especially and lovingly, and always a stretch. I have been asking the Blessed Virgin to give me her heart - one that shelters hope and the light of the world. And She answers with the gift of fiat - be it done to me according to God’s word. Even in the stretch.

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Today’s planner stack. 🔥💪🏼

Ya know. 🤔 I was thinking about deconstructing things - as one does when one is looking for common denominators and finding what works. And how a planner is really just a bound collection of paper…and the tool of a pen. (Now we can get all giddy talking about the gsm of that paper and how fine a point pen you like, and fast drying, and my stars…#teamblueink or #teamblackink …and the rabbit hole of how you bind said paper!) And how a planner can mean so much - it gets to be the potential of hope for the future, a way of managing the present, and a window into the past. But still…it’s just paper and a pen and a little formatting with your life applied in the corners, tucked on pages, carried through in threads and events. So…it’s just paper…and it’s also so much more.

And since life is never static, neither are our planners, really. They’re always flexing to bend with us!

In my life, I often see my planner as this box I’m trying to fit in. Except my life doesn’t fit on a page - both because God took us out of every box I know, and because sometimes life moves so far off the page, and I want to keep up. I think that’s when my more creative side starts to kick in…and I get a little more free flow with it all. I have this spontaneous side that DEEPLY needs the rails of a planner. Freedom within boundaries.

So…if you deconstructed your planner down to paper and your pen, what would it be for you? A lifeboat? A luxury cruise? A crafting outlet? A space to get words out? A window to the past that looks forward with hope?

🆒 Top to bottom:
📔 Hobonichi Techo 2023 Cousin (A5)
📓 Amazon 3 ring A5 binder for finances
📓 Amazon 3 ring A5 binder for work admin
📒 @levenger Letter size discbound lesson planner

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Lauren’s Confirmation last weekend was at the @guadalupeshrine in La Crosse, WI. And my kids showed up. In every way. This family shows up for Sacraments. All 5 were there in spite of sickness, travel, and snow. And for brief moments, God held time and allowed me to see His goodness that runs like an unwavering thread through our lives.

I wanted this to be a pilgrimage for our family in addition to Lauren’s confirmation, but like all pilgrimages, there are gifts that feel like thorns and I started to feel panicky and lost. A friend encouraged me to let go my tight grip, and as soon as I did, everything began to unfold. I lifted my eyes to the hills and my help came.

I pleaded with Our Lady of Guadalupe when Lauren’s dad was in the hospital. And now, I was 13 hours from home with the fruit of my suffering. I was there to say thank you and to ask for more grace. And there was the Blessed Virgin, inviting us up that hill blanketed in the quietest snow.

Lauren was Confirmed in the beautiful, rich traditional rite of Confirmation by @cardinalraymondburke and our family is grateful for God’s goodness, Cardinal Burke’s faithfulness, and the hospitality of @guadalupeshrine and though I keenly felt the absence of Lauren’s dad, I know God allowed him to behold this, one of the fruits of his suffering in his child’s life. ❤️

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I don’t know what I’m doing. 🤪 But there’s nothing wrong with test driving, right? If you wanna see it all 🫣🫣🫣 check my #hobonichi highlight. 🙂🤪 ...

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Living with grief looks a lot like normal to most people. We function, sometimes at a very high level. We feel joy. We laugh. We keep up…or we try. Usually because there are children who desperately need the stretch into routine and normalcy. We’re exhausted. There is no one walking through the door before dinner to fill us up or take over for the evening or share a glass of wine with. There are no date nights to share goals or dreams or hopes or a vision of the future. All of that died. That, too, is mourned and let go.

More vulnerable than we have ever been, we begin to open ourselves - to life, to an unknown future, to the hope of mercy in the morning.

It’s not a feeling or an intuition. It’s an active choice. A choice to embrace God’s unknown plan when you stand stripped of every shelter save His promise to make all things new.

Thanking God - His mercies are new every morning.

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Embracing “scared” is hard. Ya know that trendy mantra - “do it scared?” 💪🏼 Yeah. I’m not talking about that. I’m talkin’ really, to-your-core, unsettled, s-c-a-r-e-d.

And I’ll be honest, I’m not brave enough to step into scared on my own. Nope. Not me. Will actively avoid scared —> me 🙋🏼‍♀️.

But here I am. Scared.

Because it’s where God, in His mercy, wisdom, and love, put me. And that doesn’t make me angry or anything else I’m “supposed” to feel according to the five stages of grief. I feel content. At peace. I feel like I’m right where God wants me - which is complete and utter reliance on Him. And also…without. Without backup, without a best friend, without a provider. Without that secure wall for me to curl up against. I’m the wall now. When it’s all on your shoulders that’s just plain scary, and not the trendy kind.

Scared does not equal shrinking away! It is a place of heightened awareness, increasing understanding, and watchfulness. It’s where every sense looks from every angle and sees things in a new way. It’s tiring, and it’s my reality.

I can imagine how hard it would be for a widower - he’s lost the strong heart with the soft edges that is the heart of his home and his life. He misses the tenderness and feminine nature that wove beauty into the most mundane. He misses the unconditional love, and the sweet obedience that sprung from that love, that gave him the strength of a lion.

And the widow deeply misses the action of being that for her husband. She misses his strong shoulders and his leadership and the same unconditional love that she gives, returned to her even more generously than she gave. She misses being seen by him and the strength and stability of the one-ness in the two of them.

Separated, these two are without the balance, without the whole. We walk alone across an ocean, deep and stormy - some of us with kids - and there’s no way that isn’t scary.

Waves come. Depths frighten. And we keep walking - eyes fixed on Him. Eyes fixed on the cross under which we stand. And He holds us up, and breathes life into every next step. And we rest there. Only there. Scared, and held. Scared, and hopeful.

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I’m not the same mom today.

My big kids like to joke around sometimes (and try to push my buttons 😏) and tell me that I’m not the same mom they had. Not as strict. Not as…>>insert perceived mom trait here<<. And it’s probably true. I’m not.

My core principles haven’t changed, but my reactions have changed, my demeanor has changed, my parenting overwhelm has changed. I hope what they see is how God’s grace and the cross bent me and shaped me into something softer, more at ease, more relaxed as I parent the last two at home. The only credit I get is that I brought my will to the party and I actively surrendered it. Surrender is an action. And it’s not an easy one!

If you’re living an intense season of motherhood - I see you. I am, too. Intensity coupled with surrender changes you. It folds you into God’s unspeakably rich mercy and allows for an acceptance that quiets interior noise, accepts the normal and natural consequences of motherhood, and opens the heart to the joy in this vocation. And there are so many joys!

I pray my younger girls find in me a fixed, unmovable point when it comes to the necessary things, and a soft place to land in all else.

I’m not the same mom I once was. And I thank God every day for that.❤️

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My men. ❤️ None of us knew how we’d test these strong shoulders over the last two years. These young men stepped up - each with their own gifts - to help me and their sisters. How proud Rob would be of these boys. And how proud I am. ❤️ Makes all the legos I stepped on worth it! 🤪 #nationalsonsday ...

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My girls. ❤️
3 Daughters.
1 Daughter in love.
2 Grand-daughters (and another arriving early 2024!)

My inspiration!
My joys!
My reasons for getting up!

My daughters taught me how to be a mom, how to love, how to let go, and how to surrender. They add and keep adding to my joys and to our family!

Happy National Daughters Day to them! ❤️ #nationaldaughtersday

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It has been a good day today. A great day, really. We’ve got layers of things going on - homeschool, an on-site work day for me, an activity for one of the kids, and a (mini) speaking engagement for me. Lots of juggling is my norm.

I think about what a juxtaposition my life is - and how I always seem to live somewhere in the contrast of two elements. And how comfortable I’ve become with that. Joy and sorrow. Happiness and pain. Contentment and longing.

Good days full of satisfaction are never really a reflection of anything Herculean I’ve done - they’re a glimpse of grace that keeps pouring into and overflowing out of me in spite of how empty I feel at times. Full and empty. I wonder sometimes if this is what God meant when He said His power was made perfect in weakness. Because *I* am weak!!! And in spite of it, He keeps pulling me back out onto the water.

I stopped by Rob’s today. Just to be close. There’s something about being close to him when I talk to him. I wanted to tell him about this pull I feel - and I just wanted to spend a minute listening inside the deeper parts of my heart.

God is calling me back out on the water; the rest is a mystery to me. But I feel the pull into this unknown that is this juxtaposition of terrifying and exciting. Somewhere in that contrast is wonder - and that’s where I’m trying to anchor. That’s where I think God wants me. At least…that’s what I told Rob. ❤️

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Happy birthday, babe. Another milestone. Another birthday without you. So many things have settled since we last got to see you; so many things are still upside down. Discomfort doesn’t scare me anymore.

You’d be so stinkin’ proud of your kids and the way they love me and love you. They’re growing up and in each of them I see you and it brings unspeakable joy and comfort. Your wit. Your humor. Your generosity. Your loyalty. Your firm grip of the obvious.

You’d be proud of me, too. I’ve changed. So much. Some days I’m not even sure who I am, but I never question whether you’d recognize me or love me. There’s a certainty there that you built into me. I lean on that a lot.

Sometimes I hold on waaaay too tight in my fumbling attempt to steer this thing without you, and then I hear you tell me to let go. To trust. So I take a deep breath, and untangle myself a little more from you and let go of my hold so that God can do His work.

We’re stepping forward and there’s never a shred of doubt that that is exactly what you want us to do. Buddy moving.

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We hand each other so many 🧱bricks - so much extra, unwieldy weight to carry - through judging (even well meaning judging) each others’ choices and decisions that are in the realm of prudence (meaning what’s right for me might not be right for you) or “advice” never asked for.

Social media is the best place to go if you want an armful of bricks. No shortage of judgement and advice here, and the further away you are from “the expected norm” (whatever THAT is!😳), the more you can expect to be weighted down with an armful of bricks.

Let those bricks go! Just drop them and walk away! These kind of bricks are useless and heavy. And just another thing to schlep around.

We pick up a lot of extra bricks on our own, too.

We compare - “her kids are homeschooling and it all looks so lovely and gentle” - it’s not. It’s a lot of really hard work and sacrifice, but the reward is worth it! Or “her kids are going back to school and it all looks so lovely and quiet” it’s not. It’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it’s what’s best for her family.

Why can’t we trust each other to do the work - keep your eyes on your own work - and stop handing out bricks or picking up bricks that were never intended to be carried?

Because not every brick we’re given is bad; some are necessary. And if our arms are too full carrying around all these useless self-imposed or “gifted” bricks, we won’t be able to receive those that fashion our souls into saints.

I’ve walked into a few brick walls during my life - put there by God to redirect me. And then a year and a half ago, He bricked up my life - my dreams, hopes, plans, and the future Rob and I built - and in the blink of an eye, taking Rob, He sealed all of that shut - leaving the kids and I on the other side to rebuild anew. It’s as if He said, “As good as all that was, there is more, friend, move up higher - I make all things new.”

What if we let all that useless weight go…all the comparison and the bricks that act as thieves seeking to steal peace? And instead opened arms to the bricks that build a foundation. What if I start to trust God more with these brick walls He’s building?

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