Our Wednesday

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A post that got ignored for many months. This is a picture Eden snapped on one of our school days at the Camp House. We pack up, take our sweet Tessa to New City Fellowship for Pre K and then we go to have school somewhere else. Good coffee and oatmeal with berries take my tired mama brain to a happy place. The big kids know the ritual so well. I get them a treat at 10:30, and they work on vocab words, science worksheets, and they do reading for literature class. We see friends from church (since Camp House is also our church building) and other homeschooled friends some days. The MX in the back has provided some great items in my wardrobe. Today I scored some pretty 25 cent headbands for the girls, some cute belts for me and a dress shirt for Jos. And the friendly faces behind the coffee bar and at the MX feed my need to talk to grown ups. It is a welcomed retreat.
Now I’m recharged from the tiring early week, I can take on the end of the week. It’s the coffee, it’s just so so good.

Fall

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Living in the woods has had some amazing effects me. I can’t begin to reflect on them all. Watching the organic shapes out my bedroom window every morning. Seeing the light dance between swaying branches. The colors, they are intoxicating. The smells of fireplaces being used, the crunch of leaves under my feet, the signs that life is still active when I turn over our rotting pumpkins. It’s poetry, every day. My heart feels still as I observe the bigness of what is around me. I have a tinge of fear as a rainstorm blows the tree tops a little farther, left to right. But the colors. My yard is blanketed with red maple leaves. I stare out into the National Forest and I see yellow. I long desperately for the time and emotional energy to paint the amazing autumn that surrounds me. I sigh when another week goes by where I haven’t had anyone over to sit and marvel at the beauty with me and feel that satisfying crunch of leaves. The year will be over and the winter will be dark. I will cure my cabin fever by setting many pieces of wood on fire. Smelling the smoke in my clothes and watching the glow die out right before bed. I have a pioneer bubbling inside of me, I’m not quite so brave. But there will be more moments and things to accomplish. The first thing I want is an axe. Then some bookshelves. Joel will go away on business and I will paint walls. The season is rich. I’m watching the changes and mourning the end of the colors. Winter will usher in other delights, and I am excited to see what our mountain home has in store.

The Grind

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No glamour this week. Tough, like walking through knee high mud. Days are long and grey-ish. I long to paint something. Fill a page with colors. I got to paint part of a reindeer from a National Geographic page this week with some of my middle schoolers. Megan asks,”that’s cool! Can I have that?” I told her maybe next week. I really wanted to put some more on it. The sleeping artist dreams vivid dreams. Until that day, I fight off boredom and frustration of a perfectly kept house. Ha. That’s a waste of thought and time. I do my best, thats all.

Home schooling Part 2

School fits right here., originally uploaded by katiek2.

FAQs
1) Why did you decide to home school?
Well, there’s a lot of different answers. Joel would answer this question differently than I would, but we both agree. It just depends what kind of mood I’m in. Which is interesting, because when you homeschool, your mood altering has to be constant and creative. One must maintain!
We decided to homeschool because: I have been working for a homeschooling group for going on 6 years, and the community and practicality of all of us going to and being in the same place seemed attractive. I am also done having babies (unless God throws us a curve ball, which is always a possibility) and I have very little experience in the professional world to enter it with any great merit, so my new chapter, my new job, is to take full control over my children’s education. It seems very natural to me. Our beliefs and priorities in our family were outgrowing the school system, and even though I grieve not having Battle Academy in our life, it stings less and less each day. I want to teach my children what they need to learn when they need to learn it. And THIS, has shown me that we have made the right decision thus far. Also, Joel wants to change his career path ASAP. And homeschooling gives the whole fam a bit more flexibility, even though I’m not feeling very flexible these days. But it is something I personally am giving to my husband as well. I sacrifice my time, so we can have a happier family unit. There, that’s the more polished summarized version. You answer that question your way. I am, of course, completely understanding of everyone’s choices now. Some seem harder than others, but I know what sending kids to school is like, and I honestly can say, I love having my kids with me. I really really do.

2) Are you home schooling all three?
Yes, yes I am. Josiah was thrilled, Eden was not. Tessa is getting Pre K twice a week at different places, and plenty of “worksheets” at home. I’m glad I’m not having to do three curriculums quite yet! Even though I’m driving more, most of the time we are all going to the same place. I’m not going to send them different places unless I feel that is better. It’s our maiden voyage year, and so I’d like to keep us all doing the same things.

3) What curriculum are you using?
I’m taking Josiah to Hilger Higher Learning with me where he takes Literature, Creative Writing (Shurley Grammar), Art with me, and Choir. Josiah and Eden are both doing Math U See this year. We’re actually playing catch up this semester because they both have math gaps. I want them to KNOW this stuff. At the co-op we’re in, the big kids are getting Apologia Astronomy this year, History Activities, and P.E. Tessa gets a full day of Pre-K with all the trappings. I’m using some basic grammar worksheets for Eden to understand tenses, rhyming words, compound words, and plurals. Vocabulary for Eden is going to be through books. I got some free spelling books from a good friend and seasoned homeschooling mom. Josiah takes piano with his grandpa, and Eden does art with me each week as well as some cursive writing practice. Tessa gets another day of Pre K at New City with her closer friends. I know there are some things that are missing. I’m hoping to find supplemental things as the year goes on, but we’re pretty busy each day.

4) How is it going?
“It’s going!” That’s my lame answer. That’s about all I can say in a polite, short convo about it. It’s so life-altering right now. It takes more of a long sit down in a quiet place to go through it all. One reason I’m trying to blog little by little. We have little melt downs each day. I expected that. My big kids have different things that motivate them, and I know how they work. I need to push them harder in some ways, and ease up in others. I’m still learning. The best way I can describe it to parents of those already in school is, it’s like “home work” time but all day long. And that’s good because you’re doing work during their best hours, and it’s rough because it can be super frustrating and grueling. I have to learn how to give each kid independent work at the right times. And I have to learn how to teach things together. I have to plan ahead. All. the. time. I spend Saturday and some of Sunday with their books filling in their agendas (just like Battle Academy!) and then doing my 4 lesson plans for the art classes I teach (that would be my art teacher hat I wear). If I was smarter, I would plan several weeks, or a whole semester in advance. Heh. That would be pretty amazing right now.
What I’m most disappointed about in this experience is how clingy and needy Tessa has been. I don’t know if she wants to ‘just be with me’ or if she wants to have work like the big kids. But I know she’s feeling rough, and that isn’t cool. Also, it’s a lonely experience. I am constantly working. I can’t hang out, I can’t chit-chat, I mean, not really. Playground days seem impossible right now. It’s great to get a nice 4 mile walk in to burn off steam. It’s nice to go out with the ladies for a nightcap. It’s comforting to go out to the JH playground and just visit for 30 minutes with whoever is there. Taking the kids to a coffee shop or the library is life-giving. But I’m at work. This is a full time job, and I have no peers to work with. It’s me and the kids. That’s isolating

5) Oh?
I get it. I’ve been around enough home school families and I never in a million years thought that would be me. But as I have been teaching for going on six years, it seemed less daunting. I mean jeez, just doing 2 hours of homework a night with the kids should make you feel less scared of the idea. I know plenty of non-sheltered, over stimulated home school kids too. Kids that are bullies, kids that are obsessed with video games, kids that brag about their ipads. This does not seem like the typical “home school” persona. I have had students with long skirts and kerchiefs on their heads, but it’s been rare, and they are easy to teach, no worries. I have also seen kids that are amazing violin players, dancers, equestrian award winners, kids that have the time to invest in these activities because they are less busy with a school schedule. I don’t worry about my kids having friends, they see kids all the time! And it’s quality time. Not shuffling down hallways or snickering at the desks when they should be working. I wish I was better at activities and play-dates. I have a lot to strive for. But I’m not going to freak out (too often). I know I will hit a wall when I’m so exhausted I have no idea what I’ll do. But today, right now, I’m good. And tomorrow afternoon, I’ll start planning for next weeks adventure.

Homeschooling Part 1



Fun math Friday, originally uploaded by katiek2.

Not for the faint of heart. Not at all. This is not a diet, or an exercise plan. You cannot throw in the towel. All of a sudden, you are in charge of every moment of productivity. Or so it should be.
Then, there are the gems that make each day golden. There are the conversations that I would have missed. The siblings bonding like kids at summer camp. Listening to my daughter read poetry in the quietest voice…ever! Watching my son try to beat the “school clock”. Because they get out at 3. He can be done whenever he wants. It’s hard to get there, but when he does, he leaps like a surprised deer. He bounds toward the sunshine soaked door. He forgets his shoes. He leaves the door wide open. It doesn’t change and I sigh because it is so.
But at that moment I leap too. Because it means everything is done, just for that moment. I go from being the bad-guy to the one who unlocks the gate and sets him free.
“I’m going to ride my bike!” both of my big kids declare.
I push all my fears about if I’m educating them enough. I wade through the emotions my youngest is showing me of “mama withdrawl” and I just have faith that we are moving down the path toward the next chapter that defines us as a family. Growing together more, needing each other more, and learning together more and more.
Lord knows, I need to try something hard everyday. And if nothing else crosses my path, this takes the cake. Educating my children makes every fiber of my character stretch.
I’m definitely sore the next the day.

Sometimes Grey is beautiful

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Maybe someday I’ll get a picture of my other art classes, but until then I’ll show you a picture of last semester where I had 4 students in a third and fourth grade class. They had to draw just the tape around their fellow student, the warm up drawing were very fun to see. The model here is Abigail who is very articulate for a 3rd grader and she is probably the closest to how I relate to my own children. I love to hear her talk about all her imaginings and the stories she tells with them. My other elementary students are somewhat overwhelmed with pop-culture, gender roles, and perfection. “Mrs. Katie, I just can’t get this to look right.” “Mine looks terrible!” “Can I start over?” “Mrs. Nutson, can I finish this at home?” “Do I have to color it in” “I wasn’t sure if this is what you wanted”. Sometimes it’s really hard to hear them fight their longing to become better. Sometimes I wish they could just embrace the fact that they are children, and that they have so much time to learn and grow and experience these projects over and over again. I feel like I bore them sometimes and they want to take on more. Am I treating them like they are too young to do these things? Then I ask them to feel, to think, to practice, to work and I don’t think I’m being too easy on them anymore. Abigail is a bright star in my class. She’s not the only one, there are many talented kids in my class. Abigail always says, “Mrs. Knutson (she’s says my name right), thank you for teaching me” and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy almost every time. She makes me stop and forget the chaos of the other 14 students, and realize that I am doing something great for these students. I get many thank yous, but Abigail is so consistant in her thankfulness. She is my inspiration as I think of what I need to say thank-you for.
I am thankful that I have comissions to work on. I am thankful that I have a great babysitter who is loyal and joyful and packs up my kids to go home almost better than I packed them to meet her. I am thankful for a great teacher’s aide who will be a great teacher, artist, worker, mother (perhaps) someday. Marie, my teacher’s aide, holds onto the rules I have set and echos me when appropriate to the students she is helping. She sets up for me so I can eat (such a guilty pleasure it seems). She cleans up while I greet my eager-to-see-Mama children so I can wipe noses, give hugs and talk to parents. She feels the warmth when Abigail says “thank you for teaching me”. I am so blessed to be teaching art. It really makes me wonder why I was so scared to do it before. The group that I am teaching welcomes me and my little family with open arms. It feels so wonderful to be so liked and supported. I know that we are all human and selfish and relationships can go astray, but the Kingdom of God is a body that is working toward redemption. The fact that I know the second I introduce new people and new experiences to the students (and parents) that they will trust me and be glad that I am pushing them into a place that God has lead me too.
I am thankful that I can help. That I can offer someone time, goods, prayers and meals. That is a joy that only comes when you can give. In this thankfulness, I forget the short-comings of my life. I forget the frustration of not knowing how to decorate my home or clean my home as well as others. I forget that I wish I had a better TV, DVD player, stereo etc. I forget about the money I don’t have and instead I am overcome with thanks for the little bits I can earn for my family and trust that we will always have enough. I forget the stress of children who disobey, and look forward to their growth and our families growth together. I forget that I covet and envy and instead I repent and give thanks that God blesses us.
On this grey day I come home tired from teaching, but I take this time for myself to absorb the joy of teaching. I have much to do this week. Josiah’s birthday party (along with 3 other special boys) will be my top priority. Just how many cupcakes do I need to make? I will try to carry this joy a little longer and rest in the fact that Jesus loves me so much.

Sometimes Grey is beautiful

nov21.JPG
Maybe someday I’ll get a picture of my other art classes, but until then I’ll show you a picture of last semester where I had 4 students in a third and fourth grade class. They had to draw just the tape around their fellow student, the warm up drawing were very fun to see. The model here is Abigail who is very articulate for a 3rd grader and she is probably the closest to how I relate to my own children. I love to hear her talk about all her imaginings and the stories she tells with them. My other elementary students are somewhat overwhelmed with pop-culture, gender roles, and perfection. “Mrs. Katie, I just can’t get this to look right.” “Mine looks terrible!” “Can I start over?” “Mrs. Nutson, can I finish this at home?” “Do I have to color it in” “I wasn’t sure if this is what you wanted”. Sometimes it’s really hard to hear them fight their longing to become better. Sometimes I wish they could just embrace the fact that they are children, and that they have so much time to learn and grow and experience these projects over and over again. I feel like I bore them sometimes and they want to take on more. Am I treating them like they are too young to do these things? Then I ask them to feel, to think, to practice, to work and I don’t think I’m being too easy on them anymore. Abigail is a bright star in my class. She’s not the only one, there are many talented kids in my class. Abigail always says, “Mrs. Knutson (she’s says my name right), thank you for teaching me” and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy almost every time. She makes me stop and forget the chaos of the other 14 students, and realize that I am doing something great for these students. I get many thank yous, but Abigail is so consistant in her thankfulness. She is my inspiration as I think of what I need to say thank-you for.
I am thankful that I have comissions to work on. I am thankful that I have a great babysitter who is loyal and joyful and packs up my kids to go home almost better than I packed them to meet her. I am thankful for a great teacher’s aide who will be a great teacher, artist, worker, mother (perhaps) someday. Marie, my teacher’s aide, holds onto the rules I have set and echos me when appropriate to the students she is helping. She sets up for me so I can eat (such a guilty pleasure it seems). She cleans up while I greet my eager-to-see-Mama children so I can wipe noses, give hugs and talk to parents. She feels the warmth when Abigail says “thank you for teaching me”. I am so blessed to be teaching art. It really makes me wonder why I was so scared to do it before. The group that I am teaching welcomes me and my little family with open arms. It feels so wonderful to be so liked and supported. I know that we are all human and selfish and relationships can go astray, but the Kingdom of God is a body that is working toward redemption. The fact that I know the second I introduce new people and new experiences to the students (and parents) that they will trust me and be glad that I am pushing them into a place that God has lead me too.
I am thankful that I can help. That I can offer someone time, goods, prayers and meals. That is a joy that only comes when you can give. In this thankfulness, I forget the short-comings of my life. I forget the frustration of not knowing how to decorate my home or clean my home as well as others. I forget that I wish I had a better TV, DVD player, stereo etc. I forget about the money I don’t have and instead I am overcome with thanks for the little bits I can earn for my family and trust that we will always have enough. I forget the stress of children who disobey, and look forward to their growth and our families growth together. I forget that I covet and envy and instead I repent and give thanks that God blesses us.
On this grey day I come home tired from teaching, but I take this time for myself to absorb the joy of teaching. I have much to do this week. Josiah’s birthday party (along with 3 other special boys) will be my top priority. Just how many cupcakes do I need to make? I will try to carry this joy a little longer and rest in the fact that Jesus loves me so much.