Going West

san jose picture

My fingers were practically bursting, because I’ve been waiting to post some big news for us. We are moving to San Jose, CA. We’ve lived in Rochester for 2.25 years, and God has called us west.

I’m feeling overwhelmed, excited, frazzled, pioneering, sad and happy. The overwhelm is all in the numbers.

  • Downsizing from 1428 square feet PLUS a basement, to 1095 square feet with NO basement.
  • Taking 2 children on 2 flights by myself.
  • Packing all our belongings up in less than 3 weeks total.
  • Packing a truck with all our belongings in just 1 day.
  • The financial swings that come from moving.
  • The countless vendors for whom we need to update our address, and then find replacements for like doctors who put up with our weird ways, vets, utilities, etc.

The sadness is leaving people. You know who you are, but this includes a gaggle of youth as well as women and men that have become near and dear.  The saving grace is it’s so easy to stay connected these days from the phone, FaceTime, the internet, apps, etc.

The excitement and pioneering nature of resettling somewhere new, meeting new people and places, experiencing what I hope is better weather… the happiness of following God’s direction…

The happiness of following God’s direction… it’s not always happy at first, but it ends with the lessons He has in store for you to learn. Let’s take Rochester, for example. We had our second child here! My husband stretched his career legs. We both went through some career changes. We endured some health issues and came out the better for them. We started a youth group. My sister ‘came back into my life’ – a miracle!

What my husband learned in the “Dirty Chester” is God showed him the sin of pride which needed to be removed. And he says he’s been transformed from an intellectual Christian into a spiritual Christian. He embraces the large family concept. He learned ways God talks to him. Ian’s a better dad than he was before.

What I needed to learn was how blessed and important is the role of wife and mother, home maker and teacher. I’ve found myself firmer with more faith in the things God promises in the Bible. I’ve learned what true loneliness was, and how to make hard choices to surround ourselves with meaningful community. I’m slightly less selfish, I think, than I was before, but I hope to continue to see an evolution my whole life, away from selfish, and towards selflessness. I have more confidence in my own ability to hear God’s voice, and even more, know what it means to pray expecting God to fulfill. I have more hunger to memorize God’s word. I know what God wants me to do with the next 10 years of my life. God showed me how to be more humble than before, but I’m still working on that. I spend more time praising God. I’m more bold than I was in the Lord. I’m a better mom than I was before, and a better educator for my kids.

I am praising God through the tears.

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Top 10 Do Nots for Homeschool Moms

It’s easy to get wrapped up in curriculum choices, programs, groups, and activities in homeschool life. After all, these items can help you create structure and rhythm that are helpful to raising children. Now that it’s summer, let’s emphasize what not to do next year.

  1. Don’t discard the main goal: grow children who love God and love other people. There are so many mandates in that sentence, however, let this be the center of your schooling. Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his deeds are pure and right. Do the hard thing. Shape your kids. Show them their Creator and how His hand covers your lives. Maybe you can memorize math equations but not really know how to work them… but you can’t fake this one!
  2. Don’t let curriculum dictate your goals. Curriculum is a tool. It’s not God. Curriculum can’t know your family, your child’s capabilities, nor your life situations.
  3. Don’t get caught up in “keeping up with the jones'”. Expect exceptional work from your children at the level to which they are working. You know in your heart of what they are capable. Just because Sally next door can (insert skill) doesn’t mean your child should have to right now. Be patient in the process.
  4. Don’t accept work done half-heartedly. Measure your expectations fairly for each individual child, but get that child in the habit of doing their task with mastery. Success happens via thoroughness, resilience, persistence and creativity around problems.
  5. Don’t accept a poor attitude. Poor attitudes are ruinous, inconsiderate and unacceptable. Allowing a poor attitude will follow your children like a storm into adulthood. Expecting a good attitude teaches your children how to reframe situations in healthy ways and look for the positive. It makes them less selfish and invites more joy into their hearts.
  6. Don’t take the easy way out. It’s faster for you to do things for your children sometimes. It’s smoother to bribe or cajole but it reaps laziness, boredom and dependency in your kids. Encourage your kids to do hard work, and see their confidence grow, their talents deepen, and their ability to acquire new skills accelerate.
  7. Don’t slip from your routine. Life happens, but protect the time you have for schooling and do your best to preserve your schedule. Even unschoolers need to devote hours to a school schedule while running a home and meeting life’s demands!
  8. Don’t beat yourselves up! If you don’t meet a goal, maintain something, or your kids are moving slower than you’d like, take heart, there are so many ways to recover!
  9. Don’t go it alone! Join a co-op, or if you don’t like a co-op for your kids then at least join a mothers support and information group!
  10. Don’t lose yourself in your kids. Remember and honor your needs. You’ll be a better teacher if you’re spending time with God, and are well rested, fed and encouraged, still engaged in your own hobbies or intellectual person?

Going Classical

I have embraced an eclectic teaching style for homeschooling my family, which is largely hands-on, taking advantage of my child’s love for learning and consuming appetite for information, and working with his very high energy level. And the baby just happily participates.

For two thirds of this year we have integrated listening to Classical Conversations (CC) memory work. In April I visited a local CC group and was highly satisfied by what I saw, which includes weekly presentations from each child. After much prayer, I have decided to add this co-op to our 2016-2017 schedule.

I feel very attached to our other co-op though, and I like the variety of how he’s learning there… Mostly, we love the people. So, we will do both! 

“Ah! Are you nuts?,” you ask? Yes I am, but I also have extroverted children.

We will do some things daily… scripture memory, hand writing, piano practice, reading for an hour, tea time, play time, exercise and math.

  • Monday will be our big push day, testing our memory work. But it also will include cycles of drawing, learning how to play a whistle and music theory, music and art appreciation, and science experiments.
  • Tuesday we run errands, but will also consume large amounts of information in the areas of history, geography, science, social studies, reading, math, famous people from history, and Bible devotions.
  • Wednesday will be a Bible study day for me, and a play morning and piano afternoon for my sons… One is only going to be in kindergarten and the other still a toddler. 
  • Thursday will be fine arts and field trip day.
  • I’m treating Fridays as a review day, as I only have an hour to teach. 
  • Saturday is just a family whatever day and sabbath rest.
  • We will still have Science Sunday’s.

I’ve just ordered our materials for next year, and I’m very excited. We are adding Singapore Math to our work from a Base Ten set and Family Math book (hands on math using household items). I like how Singapore Math moves he kids into solving word problems, and how Family Math is hands on. We will still use our base ten set.

We will be memorizing math, grammar basics, history, Latin, science, geography, art and music facts, and more scripture.

Woot woot!

What’s your plan for next year?



worms and bike riding, of course!

making stained glass crosses

painting eggs

rainy day play

math experiments in estimation

one to one counting and fine motor skills

painting like the Limbourg brothers

brother time

fish hatchery

zoo time

water play