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my journey in homeschooling, my home, organization & planning, and I share some about the grief of having my husband withdrawn from our family and our wonderful life – and how God fills our days, comforts our sadness, and directs our steps forward.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!

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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#widowlife ...

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🆕 printables are LIVE in the shop! ✨ Five new printable sets including the much-asked-about new 2023|2024 calendar printables! 📋

You can find the link in my profile, and in stories. 🔗🛒

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Perspective and focus are two things totally within my control.

I tend to hyper focus. Sometimes I hyper focus on about 731 things - all.at.the.same.time. And it’s overwhelming. Fast.

Kids and homeschooling and grief and finances and investments and grief and meal planning and car purchases and home repairs and work tasks and grief, and, and, and.

One solution is to widen the view and zoom out. Take in the big picture along with a d-e-e-p breath. It helps me reset and look around. And then I rest at that wide angle.

I rest my heart and my prayers and fears and all the extra stuff I’ve taken on and all the different people I have to be to deal with all the different things. And I let myself feel the exhaustion. And the longing for a fresh start. And I close my eyes to all of those externals and ask God to keep His promise to make all things new. Make my heart new. Fix my gaze on the one thing needful. And I rest right there.

And when I’m ready, I open my eyes again to everything in front of me. I shift my perspective and my focus and re-engage. And take another step. A step toward surrender and peace and the slow, steady Hand that guides my still uncertain steps. I shift my focus and perspective so that I can inhale slow for a time while He works to make me new.

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I’m in it. The nitty gritty of stacks of books and planning for another home school year.

No, I don’t use a boxed curriculum. I use the oldest curriculum known to humans - books. Good books. And conversation. And the net result of that - relationships.

If you strip away the hype and the consumerism and agenda and your fears and pre-conceived ideas of education - this is where you’ll land.

It’s slow and rich.
Rigorous and rewarding.
And good.
And it builds.

It’s not flashy - I’ll give you that - at least not in the marketable sense. It’s one of those quiet gifts that, if allowed in without too much friction, multiplies like loaves and fishes. Ideas are like that. Books become friends. Relationships are nurtured and grown in this slow, rich literary medium.

As I step into another season of planning and considering, I’m able to look at the fruit of 20+ years of education in my home, and I reflect and remember the earlier years when I had no fruit, when every step was another step forward in faith that this great experiment could work. I inhaled a deep breath and stepped out - further up, further in. And now I find that Lewis was right all along: “The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.”

Here’s to deep breaths and steps forward in faith for all of us considering, planning, preparing - further up, further in.

#homeschool #homeschoolplanning #homeschoolshelfie #homeschooling #homeschoolphilosophy #philosophyofeducation #literarylife #charlottemason #charlottemasoneducation #charlottemasonhomeschool #classicaleducation #classicalhomeschool

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Time is a gift, and it is finite. It’s going to run out at some point - for each of us. Do you budget your time with as much care as you budget your financial gifts?

A habit I began at the beginning of 2023 is a monthly wrap up. Life was moving fast, and when people asked what was going on in our lives 😳….all I could manage was a blank stare, “oh…lots of stuff.” 😳

I now have six months to look back on to see what I’ve accomplished…and it has been a lot. Much of it way outside my comfort zone. It is also helping me spot trends - time trends. In the beginning of this crazy new life as a widow and single mom I did my best just to keep up (!!!) and keep my head above water!!! But you can’t maintain that pace for long (even though it was all out of my control! Death admin is freakishly awful and intense - and I’m convinced some entities go out of their way to make it harder for those picking up pieces! But I digress…)

I’m starting to see trends that point to movement toward a more thoughtful SLOWER pace. Time - considered and spent. I can actually “budget” my time again.

I bullet journal accomplishments and time-spent on the front page of each month in my agenda. June’s wrap up is underway. 📝

I guess this is sorta backwards goal setting - it’s the stuff that actually happened! I love it when I see that my goals are lining up with the reality as I journal a monthly wrap up.

If we follow the financial analogy - your goals would be your time budget, and a monthly wrap up is the list of the purchases made with your resource of time. Did you follow your budget? Make thoughtful investments of time? Are you spending frivolously on the wrong things? Are you able to be generous in gift-giving time with others you love? Did you overspend time? Do you have a savings bank of wellness to withdraw from when you need to spend time for emergencies?

Most of us plan and map out our days, but hear me when I say - spending the gift of time wisely with those you love will NEVER be one of your regrets!! Budget generously and invest wisely!❤️

#monthlywrapup #endofthemonth #planningcommunity #agenda #giftoftime #timeisagift #onmydesk #desksetup #budgettime #investtime

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I’ve learned so much in the past year and a half. How to stand when your legs don’t want to work. How to function when you’re numb. How to make decision after decision when you feel nothing but overwhelm. How to assure kids of their ok-ness in spite of the unimaginable facing them! But one thing I haven’t faced yet is how to be alone - in public.

Oh sure, I can shop and make it to the store, but that’s different from slowing down to be with yourself - alone - in a space.

Until today.

Today, I did it.

I ate out - all by myself. Surrounded by people who all had their person. I did it. And then I found this charming little Parisienne cafe and I ordered this beautiful cafe mocha, and whatever the ladies at the counter assured me was delicious, and I sat down at this marble table. And I slowed myself down - slow enough to be by myself.

And I didn’t die. Instead, I smiled as I took a few minutes to be with myself. Fully present. Feeling every hard thing and every good thing - all at once. Sipping coffee. And finding more small pieces of myself in this moment. ❤️

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Seriously tho. 😳 I’m putting this out there in case you’re wondering what “balance” looks like. Because that idea - is a fantasy! Something always gets dropped. Let it be the dishes; not the people. ❤️ ...

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There is no better way to rise up out of survival mode, a traumatic event, or suffering than to restore ROUTINE! Routines act like guardrails for the movements of the day, and though unsteady at first, I found mine naturally grew.

My routines took a radical hit after we lost Rob, and I knew instantly that dinner and afternoon routines were going to have to shift for us dramatically! What I didn’t expect was how necessary a new morning routine would be for me. I already enjoyed a morning routine that had evolved from babies to toddlers to teens to a mash-up of all three - from season to season. Yet here I was, at the beginning of a new season that I neither wanted nor knew how to walk. I learned that I had to balance a fine line of anchoring to past foundations and actions while changing some things to begin to walk forward…toward a new future.

☀️M Y M O R N I N G R H Y T H M

☕️C O F F E E - I changed up my mugs, my coffee maker (coffee for one feels really weird in the same big pot), while embracing what felt comforting about my morning cup.
🏠S P A C E S - I changed the feel of our home with a new coat of paint everywhere. It brightened familiar spaces with a sense of freshness that we all needed.
🧺M O T H E R’ S M O R N I N G B A S K E T - for years my personal prayer and reading time took place in my room, in a favorite comfy chair….a chair I couldn’t return to for a long time. So, I moved my morning basket to a different location. It’s amazing what different perspective can do!
🗓️P L A N N I N G - planning is a way of anticipating the day, addressing needs, and stewarding the gift of time for me. It’s a real and necessary part of rebuilding from trauma.
🏋️‍♀️M O V E M E N T - a new habit I’m working to build. Needed? Yes. Worthwhile? Yes. Not my favorite thing to do? Also, yes. I peg new habits to habits that are already fixed to give them the best chance of taking root.
📚S T A C K I N G - the paper *stuff* of managing the home, homeschool, and being the only parent, and the loss of your spouse is ENORMOUS. I find it overwhelming…so I started making one single stack, and I just try to deal with 2-3 things from *the stack* every day.

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Honoring all those who gave the last full measure for our freedom. ❤️🇺🇸With love, respect, and our deepest gratitude for a debt we can never fully repay.

#memorialday2023 #allgavesomesomegaveall #memorialday

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