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my journey in homeschooling, my home, organization & planning, and I share some about the grief of having my husband withdrawn from our family and our wonderful life – and how God fills our days, comforts our sadness, and directs our steps forward.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

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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The cross demands attentiveness. You can’t look away, can’t get distracted, you can’t move on if you’re nailed to it.

In all the pain of that there is hope. A tiny flicker there in the distance that just catches your eye. Sometimes you have to squint really hard to see it, sometimes you have to close your eyes and let go with trust to see it. Sometimes you gulp air and tread water to keep from drowning in the dark, but it’s there - sometimes just beyond the horizon.

And when the nails come out and you’re taken down from your cross and resting - lifeless - in the arms of the Blessed Mother, you know you’re broken. You know that much of you that was once part of a whole is now gone - given back. You await resurrection in her arms. It comes in the morning - quietly, softly, and with certainty - as all good things do.

As the sun rises and inches its way over the edge of my perspective, light begins to flood my thoughts with possibility. There is possibility for change, in places I never thought imaginable. There is possibility for newness, but I have to be open because this newness that emerges doesn’t always look like my earthly longings! In the light I can see the scars the nails left, and I’m becoming comfortable with the discomfort of them.

As the sun begins it’s slow climb I see a new landscape emerging and the Hand that wove it all together for me. He knows me. In my deepest parts, in my weakness, in my suffering and my longings - He knows my smallness. And in that knowing and being known, I find myself content - still hopeful - even in the face of all that has yet to emerge in the light.

May my gaze always be toward the light, truth, and hope of Him so that my face reflects it even when my worthiness does not. The thin veil of home is just beyond.

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#wfh day ⌨️🗒️📑🖊️✨ ...

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This picture says all that is essential about my late husband - his Rosary which he used to lead our family in the Rosary every night, draped across Her Immaculate Heart, which was his shelter, his comfort, and the passage through which he would make his final journey.

On this Feast of Our Lady of Fatima I’m thinking of how She appeared to three children and armed them with a battle plan that was as simple as it was challenging - among them two simple instruments, one that equips us for battle - the Rosary, a simple prayer that assists meditation on the mysteries of Our Lord and elevates heart and mind to embrace God’s holy will. The other - devotion to Her Immaculate Heart, a devotion in itself so powerful, so rich and with such depth that if embraced, can be the passage through which our pilgrim’s heart travels…as Rob’s did.

Under this heart the Savior of the World became man, was nurtured, and in the fullness of time, walked alongside us. He took His eyes, His smile, His tears from Her - under Her heart.

Within this heart were sheltered the mysteries of God-made-man, His work, the Father’s perfect will working in the Son - Her Son, and Her humble role in it.

This heart which willingly embraced His walk to the cross and walked alongside Him.

Her heart - nailed to that cross.

Her heart which, instead of dying of pain unspeakable at the foot of the cross, chose to embrace the anguish and piercing sorrow that is giving back.

Her heart which chose to stay with her children; with me; with you; with three shepherd children at Fatima in 1917.

Her whole heart a perfect fiat - a heart open to love, to suffer unspeakably, and to walk as a pilgrim alongside us.

Her heart, a lamp for me, lighting the path forward, one step at a time as I now lead our family in the Rosary every evening, just as Rob did. A role I never thought I’d have to fill, nor one I wanted, but one I will carry, devoted to Her Immaculate Heart.

“He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

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I am a blind man trying to find the way. A deaf man with my ear to the ground just listening for what You say.

Looking back at two summers worth of mourning, growing, surrendering, and healing I’m deeply aware of God’s unspeakable grace.

It has been 15 months since the loss of Rob. No longer is each minute a fresh reminder of something new I just discovered I need to mourn - I’m becoming familiar with my new role, familiar with the territory of life without him. I can breathe again; feel joy; and I’m learning to be alone.

From the outside we may seem “over it,” but our wounds are deep and still healing.

The dust of the initial explosion of the loss has settled, leaving faint forms and shapes of the life that remains - and the realization that I’m standing at the epicenter alone, blind, and deaf - without the person who helped me create, nurture, guard, provide. I’m without my best friend, without someone to confide my deepest, most intimate fears and thoughts.

Suffering is teaching me the spiritual health in silence. I’m learning to silently accept all those things I would have poured out, but can’t. I’m quieting my pleading so that I can hear the silent whisper of the Lover of Souls.

Embracing aloneness sounds poetic until you’re standing awkwardly among couples, or facing the discipline needs of a child, or a lone guard in the midst of threats. I am a wall of one now. A wall where there should have been arms locked together in love - ready to share together and work as a team.

I’ve been staring at this enormous loneliness for 15 months now - uncertain what to do with it. I can’t run and hide from it - it won’t be denied. I can’t give in to my emotions - they will consume me. All that is left is to embrace this loneliness and surrender it to the cross. I surrender all the love I had left to give my husband, all my need to feel his love in return. I surrender my team-of-two mentality for this armor that fits one, wearing it in reparation and thanksgiving. I surrender and ask God to protect my feminine core while simultaneously outfitting me for battle.

This blind and deaf pilgrim gives thanks - I have been given much! Ad majorem Dei gloriam!

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Cheers, Instagram! ⛱️🌊🍹 ...

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Do you find yourself leaning toward “sameness” in homeschooling? It’s a trend - without us even noticing, perhaps.

Sameness of books, of schedules, of output. We expect our days, our children to behave as a slot machine - insert same coin, receive same output.

We are a culture of looking outward, looking toward others for a point of reference when perhaps our reality might be better known to us if we spent time in observation of that which is at our feet, of that which comprises the smallest most inner circle of people in our lives - the children to whom we have the responsibility of fostering an education. And looking far more inward - to our core, our heart - where, created in the Image of God, we are made with the desire to understand and the capacity to wonder.

Is that not what we should foster in education? Rather than the nebulous goal offered by some tired set of slogans or refined set of rubrics - are we not fostering practitioners of a wide and free (liberal) education? Are we not educating toward wisdom that begins in wonder?

Home education has become a marketable economy all its own. It has to some degree given way to sameness. And as I wrap up a year which was in large part stale and devoid of academic joy, I find myself struggling with the same (easy) pull toward “rationalized sameness” (Eva Brann).

Each end of year homeschool wrap-up allows for reflection; this is my 22nd. I no longer find myself waxing with the same idealism that is so much a part of the early years of a homeschool mom’s thoughts (warning: idealism can become an idol very easily!). A new beginning is needed. We begin by returning to those principles which anchor education in relationship, atmosphere, and discipline, and open up avenues of wonder, possibility, and delight. (Charlotte Mason) I begin by considering: principles, personalities, abilities, weaknesses, and my own nature and limitations. And I am delighted that I am able to begin again.

I’d love to have you alongside as I consider and plan! 🤍 It won’t be the “same” without ya! 🫣🤣

#homeschool #homeschooling #classicalhomeschooler #charlottemasonhomeschool #homeducation #homeschoolideas #homeschoolplanning

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Happy national #getorganized day! 🤍 ...

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I’m not sure I ever knew how much control I have. 💪🏼

I control my attitude.
I control my reactions.
I control my surrender.
I control my posture -
- of humility
- of being open to learning
- of choosing contentment
- of taking time to rest and pray
- of choosing to put one foot in front of the other.

He controls all the rest.

Where those intersect - P E A C E! The peace that surpasses all understanding.

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