Summer Questions, 2016

Falls ParkWe are at the beginning of the  fourth week of summer here in SC, even though it just turned summer today. Our first two weeks were spent travelling, and last week was recovering. Now, we are looking at eight weeks until public school starts. Whether homeschool will start that week or not is yet to be decided, but the kids are involved in activities that follow the public school schedule, so life will be changing gears at that time.

The kids are signed up for camps and we have lists of concerts, outings, and other fun things we want to do. But after the pace of this last year with a move to SC and amazing and full school opportunities, the summer feels like a wide open space.

Which is restful… until it gets ‘boring’, and we start building ruts that don’t reflect what is important to us or who we are becoming.

The bliss of having older kids (there are many blisses) is that I can brainstorm some questions (that I need to answer myself) and let them do the work of figuring out how to steward their summer. This lines up perfectly with our goal of raising independent learners and leaders.

The kids (and Marc and I) will be expected to make time this week to sit with and journal through these questions. They may share their work or they may keep it private (except for the meals that they will learn).


Starting the week on Thursday

Here is another written/unpublished post from 2012. Not only do I still do this, it has grown in it’s impact of our family. Just yesterday when Marc and I were talking about our days, I began by saying “Monday will be a much better day if these things happen.”


Years ago Marc and I knew this guy. We only knew John and Amy and their kids for a brief time, but something John told me impacts me every week. I must have been walking across campus on a Friday afternoon and John was walking in the opposite direction. We chatted about the weekend and somehow it came about to John’s plan for weekend success with his family. He didn’t come home on Friday until the work of this week and planning for next week were done. I had imagined getting the past work done, but not the future work.

When I realized that homeschooling on Monday mornings was a lot of wasted time waiting for me to get things organized, or that Saturday and Sunday had a lot of time committed to planning or worrying about planning, I remembered John’s approach to weekends.  Because we often have a field trip planned on Friday, or because we are so excited to be done with a week, I began to use Thursday afternoons as my planning time. (That also worked because we don’t have any lessons to get kids to on Thursdays.)

So on Thursday afternoons, I gather all of our binders and books and the calendar, and get each of the kids work planned for next week. If I have any extra stuff to get together or prepare. I (usually) have plenty of time on Friday to take care of it. So Saturday and Sunday are homeschool planning free zones.

I had gotten so used to Sunday night, Monday morning being the beginning of a new week, it took some very deliberate planning to change my internal calendar. But recently when I missed my Thursday planning, it was awful enough to remind me why I made the change in the first place..

Monday’s are totally different for us now. We do have a hard time making the transition from weekend to school week – who doesn’t? But two major things have been taken care of and make that transition MUCH smoother.

I don’t think that my schedule will work for everyone. I would never say this is how it should be done. But I would challenge you to look at your calendar and tasks and to take ownership of your calendar and make it work for you – not you work for it.

Where Did August Go?

Preparing and Learning

I have spent hours and hours learning this new program. It seems silly how excited a database can make a girl. But this one has been a pleasure to learn, and after a full week of seeing the work in action with the kids and I using it for our new homeschool year, I am so, so glad that we are making the transition to using this tool.

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I have also spent hours preparing a brand new World History Course for Caleb. After having studied World History over the course of four years in elementary and middle school that focused on nations and conflict, Caleb asked if we could change focus. After some research on how to build a college prep world history course, I have pulled together a World History course that focuses on human innovation and inventions – Caleb calls it Industrial Evolution in World History. I’m pretty proud of the resources we found and the way we have spun it together. It is probably the hardest and most rewarding homeschool task I have done since my pre-readers became readers.

Having Adventures

Adventure at our Favorite – Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

With my parents at the campground and their garden


At the Great Fall’s Balloon Festival


With Marc’s Dad


And with our siblings and their children.

It was a good August.

And now we have begun the marathon of fourth, seventh, and tenth grade at Pitman Family Academy. We had a great first week. I am so proud of all of us and intensely honored that I get to walk with my family on this journey.

Two Views

We’ve been having some weather this winter. Like almost the rest of the country. Being Mainers we keep telling ourselves ‘we’ve got this’, but truthfully, this winter is one that I can see us remembering as the Winter of 13 or 14 (who decides that stuff?).

Because we both homeschool and use some of the programs available at our local public school, we put a fair number of miles on the cars transporting our kids to this class or that and home again.

Marc and I were comparing notes on our approach to a particular hill that we traverse on our trip to the high school.

During a snow storm before Christmas, I took an alternate route with a dramatically decreased incline AND that didn’t end in a stream. I pointed out to Caleb (who WILL be driving in a short time) my strategy for creating a safe route.

Marc took Caleb to jazz band this morning (6:45 rehearsals… how awesome is our director to be available to lead this group at that hour!) and mentioned that he took the hill straight on (yes we have inches of ice built upon our roads all over town) and HE took the opportunity to explain to Caleb the strategies of safe braking when faced with a hill like that.

I love that illustration of how we parent. We approached a similar trial in a different way – neither right nor wrong. I love that God puts parents together so that kids (hopefully you didn’t marry a clone) get multiple approaches to life. I love that even though we taught a different approach, we both took the opportunity to teach.

I am determined to get more pictures of us together this year! January 1, 2014.

I am determined to get more pictures of us together this year! January 1, 2014.

Egg Rolls

Egg Rolls

Egg Rolls

Anna is studying the Eastern Hemisphere this year.  I am over the top excited about this curriculum. My entire school career never extended beyond Europe… so much of the world and her people were hardly acknowledged. We didn’t use this core for Caleb. So it is brand new to all of us. The first six weeks have been spent studying the history of China.

In addition to history, we gets to ‘choose her own adventure’ three weeks out of the six. Last week, she composed a piece of music that used only 5 notes. Today she made egg rolls. Next week she will do a fashion show that includes traditional women’s wear from three dynasties featuring her AG doll Josefina.

Egg rolls was a big stretch for us. I have never cooked on the stove top with oil. I needed to call a friend to find out where to find the egg roll wrappers in the store (thanks Izzie!). We were all very much first-time egg roll makers. But we did it, and had great success. Anna even taught her Dad and sister how to fold up the egg roll.

The recipe we used was from allrecipes: I went for easy to follow. Next time we will do some more playing around with flavors. The egg rolls were extra special because both the cabbage and carrots came straight from my Dad’s garden. Now that we have done it once, it seems like an easy meal to continue to tweak and make until it is our very own PitmanEggRoll.

(I keep thinking that cookie dough would be a yummy egg roll dessert… what do you think?)