Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I get out of the “habit” of some of my good habits.

We’ve recently moved (not just into a new house, but moving onto land that had to be cleared and into a new house that is being readied for a Home Visit next month also).

Some of our routines have gotten all outta whack.

We don’t function well that way.

However, many things are finding their way back into the proper places of our lives as things start to become more of a steadied pace rather than the nearly hysterical frenzy they were for a while.

As I’ve finally gotten some time to survey and do some planning for the year, as always, I’ve come across things that were very timely and encouraging.

“The care of her own health is another responsibility which should be made over to the young maiden. She cannot learn too soon that good health is not only a blessing, but a duty…”
(Vol 5, p.246, CM )

My oldest son is on a gluten-free, casein free, dye free “diet”, so this is always an issue in our home. It is not so much because of me, but more because my child would either “sink or swim”, if you will, that nutrition has been a daily topic around here.  We’re at a place where we’re seeing additional changes need to be made to improve things for him. Honestly, it’s a great time to sweep out some bad habits that we have let creep in for all of us during this time of transition. Really and truly, healthy eating is something we cycle in and out of, I’m sorry to say. Our kiddos are always kept on a good track, but we neglect ourselves and therefore neglect the example we are to our children ~ as Miss Mason refers to it = our “duty”.

But, not to despair! Even though we have allowed “the move” and the Home Study preparations to affect how we’ve been eating and taking care of ourselves, I’m reminded that I can do all things through Him who gives me the ability to do so. He really is the best resource for helping instill good habits. I would even say that any good habits in our family are there because He enabled us to create them! I’m also confident that we can get back into some healthier routines around here regarding what we eat. Just yesterday we were experimenting with some fun stuff:

Welch’s 100% Grape Juice + Seltzer = a fun bubbly drink

(without any of the icky stuff)

and eating this on Saturday:

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge!

I also found this encouraging to read just this morning:

When it comes to unhealthy temptations, don’t give into the “I deserve it” – “it’s a special occasion” or “just this once”, voice inside your head.  Truth is, it’s never “just once” and there are “special occasions” almost every week. What you deserve is to give yourself the best health you can. You do more for your health by eating high-quality, real food than you do by giving in to processed unhealthy food cravings. Think about that today as you walk past the bowl of M&Ms on your coworkers desk or you get invited to the break room to celebrate yet another birthday. YOU CAN DO IT! (from Vanessa @Healthy Living How To)

Charlotte Mason asked this in Formation of Character:

“How many know that health is a duty, and not merely an advantage; that a serviceable body, strong and capable, is a debt we owe to ourselves, our kin, and our kind?” (Vol. 5, p. 386)

She always asks the best questions!

laundry and legos

Today I’m doing a significant amount of laundry.

I’m thinking it’s mostly because one day last week, I should’ve been doing this:

But instead, I chose to help the boys drag out these:

…and sort them into blues and reds and

yellows and blacks so that they could do this:

They had so much fun with this project from their

Homeschool Lego Club at Currclick!

And really, it was way more fun than that pile of laundry…

…and a lot less messy than their previous lesson

where they learned about and constructed a volcano:

Yes, we put our own little twist on it by opting to use Mentos and Diet Soda

rather than the traditional vinegar and baking soda = a bit more messy!

Now, back to my laundry!

I’m gonna do it.

I’m going to change up our homeschool schedule!

Not the “daily” part of it so much, rather, the “year”.

I’m well aware that one of the beauties of home educating is the flexibility. I tell people that very thing all the time. However, I’m finding myself reluctant to utilize that beautiful flexibility. I know it’s just because it’s going to make things a bit ‘different’ for us. {My husband and friends keep reminding me that I am ‘different’, and changing up this schedule is the least of my ‘differences’!}😉

Thankfully, there are plenty of people on the web sharing a variety of ways in which they’ve structured their homeschool year. Some are on three months and off one. Some keep the same schedule all year long. Some take off one week per month, and so on! I love seeing the diversity and how it works/doesn’t work for families, often depending on seasons they’re in or other circumstances.

We’ve always taken some sort of break during the summer months. We’ve continued lessons year ’round for quite some time now, using the June, July, and most of August as a time to do half-days – maintaining a few subjects and/or projects. The past couple of summers here in the South has been scorching. The reality is, it’s often that way. We just tend to forget and say the same ole things every summer….

“Man, it’s like someone turned on a hair-dryer out there.”

“This heat is just miserable, and that humidity….”

“I break out in a sweat just looking out the window.”

It’s almost as if we’re surprised🙂

Sure, my crazy kids still play outside quite a bit, but during the hottest parts of the day – this morning at 8:55 a.m. it was already 93 degrees Fahrenheit – they’ve been coming in to cool off! It’s the kinda hot and humid that just isn’t terribly enjoyable. We go for a swim a few times a week, and that’s pretty fun. However, things like a hike or picnic just aren’t all that appealing…if lots of cold water isn’t involved, you give it a second thought.

Soooooooo….while we’ve tossed this idea around several times (and TONS of other families already do it), we’re going to change our months “off”. We’re going to start the school year with the calendar year in January, taking October, November, and December as our time when we pare down our lessons to half days! It’s just so much more pleasant that time of year where we are. It’s much more feasible to take an afternoon hike or head to the park for a picnic or trot down to the creek to see what we can find! Fall is our family’s favorite season, so it makes sense for us to have that time to spend doing more leisurely kinds of things, and enjoying the outdoors (during a time when it’s honestly just more enjoyable!).

Of course, I keep trying to talk myself out of it simply because we’ve never done it this way. It just makes sense fur us, though.

And, really, if it doesn’t work…so what? We change it back, right!?

time to root

I’ve been reading “A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael” for months and months. It keeps getting put aside for other things (moving, adoption, homeschool planning, etc), however I keep picking it back up and pressing on through it. I am so moved by this woman and so much about her, and then there are moments where I just grin all the way across my face at her brilliance in the practical things ~ including the education of the children in her care. I’ve been struck by many of the principles of education she referred to in small things and particularly grateful for one bigger thing…

Her insight, wisdom, and care are clear in that:

*In referring to keeping lessons short, she says…

“the human soul should not be drawn out

like a piece of elastic and held so for too long at a stretch”


*On the habits of chores/work, she insists the internal

take precedence over the external…

“The great reward was to be trusted with harder, more responsible work.”


*Scripture and hymn memorization were a priority.


*The Indian children in her care grew food and flowers

and sold them at the market and learned much about generosity.


*Elisabeth Elliot writes of her,

“No toy, no picture book reached the hands of her children without prior scrutiny.”


*The children sang, played and listened to music.


While she was a tremendous spiritual pilgrim and warrior, she was also very perceptive regarding children and education.

I love this woman. She’s become a dear friend and mentor to me!

As a matter of fact, I was reading on Sunday and I beckoned {aka ‘hollered at”} my husband to swim down to the end of the pool where I was so I could read something to him that Amy had said years and years ago.

{Yes, I am annoying when I am involved in a book that grips me like this one does :)}

I had to share with him what she had said about “roots”. She had put into words so simply something I have tried to communicate to others for quite some time!

{You see, there are many reasons we homeschool our boys. They are our reasons, and while some people seem to share them, we do not expect anyone to adopt any of them as their own. All families are different :)}

She wrote this, “In other words, till the life of the child has had time to root, it should not be exposed to various winds (confused or conflicting examples and ideals, different ways of making t’s). After it has rooted, let the winds blow as they will. Then they will only cause the roots to take a firmer grip.”

Anyone who knows much at all about growing plants, vegetables, or farming, can get a great visual of the principle she is explaining.

This is one of the aspirations we have for our children as we educate at home. Of course, we provide variety for our children, and of course, things come about that are confusing and/or conflicting. However, we are right there, caring tenderly and consistently to our “young’us” in this early stage of growth, doing our best to help them get “rooted”.

I’m thankful to Amy for countless things. Her life and struggles and victories have taught me more than I can put into words.

Also, I am grateful for her practical wisdom in teaching, training, and educating her children.

I think she, like me, prayed for and eagerly awaited the day when her little ones became “like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

Once in a while, I find myself needing a bit of motivation and inspiration. When I need a bit of encouragement, a good reminder, or just a bit of cheerleading,  I often refer to some of my favorites on my shelf like…

This past week, however, I stumbled on a nice bit of audio, and I was able to multi-task: fold laundry, get dinner ready, and still get a nice dose of encouragement! On the Childlight USA website, I listened to a Charlotte Mason Educational Conference Lecture, “Education is a Discipline” presented by Mary Hubbard. Mrs. Hubbard discussed the formation of habits, had us think of our own areas that we struggle with the most, and reminded us of how habits are “to life what rails are to transport cars”. She goes on to remind us of the Holy Spirit’s role in forming habits, misguided sympathy from mothers, and much, much more.

Although I have read about many times and have tried to put into practice the concepts and truths involved in Education as a Discipline, I always walk away chewing on a couple of things:

1. The Way of the Will is a free e-book from Simply Charlotte Mason. You simply cannot separate the concepts of the will and the formation of habits! It helps us understand our children and ourselves. This little book leaves me not just chewing on a couple of things but also looking in a mirror (and that is always an excellent learning opportunity for me)!2. After listening to the lecture, I was also chewing on the definition the speaker shared from the Noel Webster 1828 Dictionary:

DISCIPLINE, n. [L., to learn.]

1. Education; instruction; cultivation and improvement, comprehending instruction in arts, sciences, correct sentiments, morals and manners, and due subordination to authority.

The word discipline seems to have such a negative connotation these days. Perhaps it has been misused or too often only associated with punishment. When truly it is a healthy, rich thing. Certainly, punishment or chastening are part of discipline, however, it’s essence is in cultivation and admonishment. Even when you look at the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance at the original Hebrew of the word discipline, you will find chastisement, yes, but also instruction, correction, reproof, teaching, and the like. When I chose to think of it that way, it becomes much more a joy rather than a daunting idea.

If looked at properly, I can see discipline as the process through which I cultivate and guide my children in the same way God cultivates and guides me. It certainly involves punishment and reproof, but it is also wrought with moment after moment of instruction and teaching and careful, loving admonishment. What a privilege….really!!!

There are lots more audio options within the

Charlotte Mason Educational Conference Lectures

in case anyone else was in need of a little

motivation or encouragement in a multi-tasking kind of way!

Thankfully, I pulled an old volume of Miss Mason’s from my bookshelf just in time for her to impart much needed snippets of wisdom into my days…

People who live in the country know the value of fresh air very well,

and their children live out of doors,

with intervals within for sleeping and eating.

~Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Vol 1, p.42

We have enjoyed an especially Spring-like winter here in the South. It was quite a joy for us to avoid the usual lull of being cooped up indoors during cold temps. I realize that all of the seasons have something special to offer and that many people enjoy the cozy-ness of winter. However, in our house, it only takes a couple of rainy days or a week or two of winter weather to leave us feeling quite cooped up! I love it when things allow for ‘living out of doors’ again…

Charlotte goes on to say…

In the first place, do not send them;

if it is any way possible, take them…

Despite the delightful, sunny days, I had found myself in a rut.

A pattern had developed of the children heading outside after our lessons were over to play for hours…most days until supper time (or until a passionate, brotherly disagreement disrupted things!). I found myself inside working on this or that. I would do some laundry or dust or look over bills or other paperwork. Our doors and windows were wide open so I could keep a close eye on the boys while I toiled away. They are 9 and 10 now, and they are not at a loss to find things to do together whether I am out or not. Still, I quickly found myself struggling between longing to be out with them and needing to tend to things indoors. While certain things do require my attention and are necessary to be done, I had forgotten about how necessary the habit of being out of doors was to my well-being and to my relationship with my boys.

Leave it to Charlotte to gently remind me…

In recent days, you can find me out with them for half hour increments or so pushing them on the tire swing…slipping away for an hour to walk down to the creek and hide in the woods…simply sitting at the picnic table with a book or notebook…or maybe just digging leaves out of flower beds…some of my most beloved things with two of my favorite people!

With the help of Miss Mason’s timely reminders, I’m back to not just ‘sending’ my sweet boys out, but ‘taking’ them out. It’s important. It has always been a priority…when they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers, as well as now…and really, it always will be for us.

Thoughts from Quinn


Reformation Acres

I suppose you could say that I was a homeschooling mother even before I knew what homeschooling was. When I began my journey into motherhood, I, of course, wanted to provide my baby with the very best of beginnings. Not only for his body, but for his mind as well. His nursery was full of stimulating black & white toys, he was born with his own personal library already begun, and I spent nearly his every waking moment playing with him. He knew all of his colors young and could recite the alphabet nearly as soon as he could speak. There were times though when I performed my self-imposed duties out of obligation rather than a joyful desire to be with my boy. No doubt he could sense my feelings, poor boy!

As we progressed into his preschool years, he was still an only child, and I devoted as much time to him as ever. He had many, many workbooks and a little chalk and slate that I would say draw pictures of shapes on so that he could name them and practice his letters, numbers, and new words with. Having laid that foundation for his education, when I first heard of homeschooling it seemed a good and natural fit.

Compulsory education in our state commences at age six and by the end of his first year, we had added a second and third child to the family within the previous two years. Despite my strong desire to replicate the time and attention I gave my eldest in their lives (for the sake of fairness), I found myself failing again and again. Unable to keep up with the demands of my growing family and spend all of their waking moments playing, reading, teaching them, I was horrified they were taking longer to keep the pace set by my firstborn. Meanwhile all one hears is the drumbeat of how we need to start earlier and earlier and there is much talk of children as young as two needing to begin their formal pre-schooling education.

My eldest is now (technically by age) in the eighth grade and early next year will find himself the sibling of six brothers and sisters. All these years I’ve been bombarded by that perfect storm of guilt for not being able to match his early education for those siblings.

Somehow, despite that lack of effort on my part, they all have managed, sooner or later, to figure all of those skills out (and more as they have all been far more independent and resourceful than he ever was) and I’ve yet to have the first grader who doesn’t know his colors, shapes, alphabet, and basic counting skills.

But now, finally, finally I have been freed from the guilt of their not having learned those skills by means of my deliberate efforts!

As I’ve read through Charlotte Mason’s Home Education, I have gleaned much. I’ve learned to look at the education of my child through the care of their whole person, the superseding importance of time out-of-doors, and the value of instilling habits.

Now, I’ve come to completely and radically rethink the value of a formal preschool and kindergarten education in the upbringing of a child.

Charlotte removes all doubt as to whether we, as mothers, are even capable or qualified to provide our children with their early education-

“The mother is naturally the best Kindergarten; for who so likely as she to have the needful tact, sympathy, common sense, culture?”

“The busy mother says she has no leisure to be that somebody, and the child will run wild and get into bad habits; but we must not make a fetish of habit; education is a life as well as a discipline.”

“There is no habit or power so useful to man or woman as that of personal initiative. The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of  a summer’s day is worth more in after life than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual intervention on the mother’s part, but of much masterly inactivity.”

She even warns of the danger of a poor Kindergarten teacher-

“Put a commonplace woman in charge of such a school, and the charmingly devised gifts and games and occupations become so many instruments of wooden teaching.”

“I am inclined to question whether, in the interest of carrying out a system, the charming Kindergarten is not in danger sometimes of greatly undervaluing the intelligence of her children… and  if the little people were in the habit of telling how they feel, we should learn perhaps that they are a good deal bored by the nice little games in which they frisk like lambs, flap their fins, and twiddle their fingers like butterflies.”

“There are still probably, Kindergartens where a great deal of twaddle is talked in song and story, where the teacher conceives that to make poems for the children herself and to compose tunes for their singing and to draw pictures for their admiration is to fulfill her function to the uttermost… But this at the expense of much of that real knowledge of the external world to which at no time of his life will he be so fitted to acquire.”

Indeed the teaching of Kindergarten is often a naturally occurring part of every family life bringing to mind that “education is a life”-

“Some of the principles which should govern Kindergarten training are precisely those in which every thoughtful mother endeavors to bring up her family, while the practices of the Kindergarten, being only ways, amongst others, of carrying out these principles, and being apt to become stereotyped and wooden, are unnecessary, but may be adopted so far as they fit in conveniently with the mother’s general scheme for the education of her family.”

And the reason why Kindergarten is in fact potentially harmful to the growth of our children is it fails to acknowledge that each of these little persons were created by God with distinct and vastly different personalities not to mention learning pace.

“The world  suffered that morning when the happy name of Kindergarten suggested itself to the greatest among educational ‘Fathers.’ No doubt it was simple and fit in its first intention as meaning an out-of-of-door garden life for the children; but, a false analogy has hampered, or killed, more than one philosophic system- the child became a plant in a well-ordered garden. The analogy appealed to the orderly, scientific German mind, which does not much approve of irregular, spontaneous movement in any sort. Culture, due stimulus, sweetness and light, became the chief features of a great educational code. From the potting-shed to the frame and thence to the flower-bed, the little plant gets in due proportion what is good for him. He grows in a seemly way, in ordered ranks; and in fit season puts forth his flower. “

“Now to figure a person by any analogy whatsoever is dangerous and misleading…. the analogy is misleading… the outcome of any thought is necessarily molded by that thought, and to have a cultivated garden as the ground-plan of our educational thought, either means nothing at all, which it would be wronging the Master to suppose, or it means undue interference with the spontaneous development of a human being.”

“Our first care should be to preserve the individuality, give play to the personality, of children.”

Miss Mason also points out how stressful it can be for these 3, 4, and 5 year olds to be surrounded by a group of their peers. What a breath of fresh air for the homeschooling mother who wearies of the “socialization” argument!! Wonderfully, she suggests that the most positive environment for these little persons in a society of diverse ages! The very environment which a home and family provides!

“The clash and sparkle of our equals now and then stirs us up to health; but for everyday life, the mixed society of elders, juniors and equals, which we get in a family, gives at the same time the most repose and the most room for individual development.”

It’s a nerve-wracking thought though, I imagine more so for new mothers starting out as opposed to someone such as myself who can realize the truth in these teachings through my experience of trial & error, to just abandon all of the song and dance and game and workbook teaching of the early years. Is it possible for our children to really learn in the absence of that methodical guidance and management?

“Nature sits quietly by and sees to it that all the play is really work; and development of every sort is going on at a greater rate during the first two years of life than at any like period of after life”

“Nature will look after (the child) and give him prompting and desire to know many things, and somebody must tell as he wants to know, and to do many things, and somebody should be handy just to put him in the way; and to be many things, naughty and good, and somebody should give direction.”

“It is possible to supplement Nature so skillfully that we run some risk of supplanting her, depriving her of space and time to do her own work in her own way.”

“The educational error of our day is that we believe too much in mediators. Now, Nature is her own mediator, undertakes, herself, to find work for eyes and ears, taste and touch; she will prick the brain with problems and the heart with feelings; and the part of mother or teacher in the early years (indeed all through life) is to sow opportunities, and then to keep in the background, ready with a guiding or restraining hand only when these are badly wanted. Mothers shirk their work and put it, as they would say, into better hands than their own, because they do not recognize that wise letting alone is the chief thing asked of them, seeing that every mother has in Nature an all-sufficienct handmaid, who arranges for due work and due rest of mind, muscles, and senses.”

“The fact that lessons look like play is no recommendation: they just want the freedom of play and the sense of his own ordering that belong to play. Most of us have little enough opportunity for the ordering of our own lives, so it is well to make much of the years that can be given to children to gain this joyous experience.”

I can appreciate that want of freedom and am now basking in the new release I feel from the pressure and guilt of our cultural standards of education. Through simplifying these early years, I expect that I’ll come to find my time spent with my little ones less rigid, less stressful, more joyful, and more of a pleasure for both myself and my dear wee ones.

Have you ever considered whether our current model for early education might not truly fulfill our children’s needs before? Or have you, like me, just always assumed that well-intentioned professionals knew best?