t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.

4.30.2010

One Big Birthday Party

The early birthday girl...



All the May (and one April) Birthdays.... Julie, Kyle, Keith, Abby, and Ellery


Playing Red Rover with Mimi and Papa...

Do they look like they are enjoying themselves?


Of course everyone received a little prize...

4.29.2010

Papa and Emmett

These two have always had a special bond. Emmett would monopolize every moment of Papi's time if he could. He spends all day talking about him.

It may have something to do with the really cool cars Papa can draw for him...you will note the difference between Brent and his father's!



4.28.2010

Baby's First Gift


My incredibly talented mother-in-law made this beautiful quilt for our new bundle. I am always amazed at the eye she has for choosing colors and fabrics to put together in just the right manner.

4.27.2010

Bulging Belly


I actually love this stage of pregnancy. Here I am today, photo courtesy of Callista.

Almost 31 weeks, and feeling amazing.

4.26.2010

Backyard Predator


One big reason we love our backyard snakes.


4.25.2010

Sunday Insights: Humility of a Child

Last week, we had one of those days which didn't seem to work out right. I am delving into some new curriculums based on the Classical Methodology for our homeschooling. As soon as I work out the kinks I will post on my new vision and direction for next year. It is requiring an intensive effort on my part. However, I feel the end results will be excellent and not too labor intensive on a day to day basis.

Some things work and some don't. The particular line up I tried, on this day last week, didn't. Ellery was a bit grumpy on top of everything. We finished the morning, and I felt a huge chasm between where I want my teaching and mothering skills to be, and the reality of the day.

And then, this:
We've recently read some Graeme Base books, thus the girls are enthralled with incorporating hidden letters and pictures into everything.


Certain days I more vividly reminded of how much I have to learn from my children. On this particular morning, I felt more confused by the words of the Savior to his disciples in Matthew 18:2-3

"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them. And said, Verily I way unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

I wondered how it could possibly help me to be difficult, and grumpy, stamp my foot, let fly an occasional, extremely loud outburst...But then again, I wasn't responding in perhaps the most effective manner.

And yet, my sweet little Ellery, at first occasion upon arrival home from school wrote me a love note. She seems convinced I am the most wonderful mother in the world and our time together is precious and even "fun" to her, this all springing forth from her little heart on one of our hardest days.

Matthew 18:4-5

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me."

I pray fervently to have this kind of forgiving heart, and see through weaknesses in others and love so unconditionally as my children do. In so doing, I will receive Christ, more fully and completely.

4.23.2010

Houdini Chickens and "Eggies"

Our chickens recently had an addition to their home. A back porch upgrade. Who said chickens can't take advantage of the Obama Home Renovation Incentive?

However, this expansion led to unforeseen escape tactics.


Repeated "fleeing of the coop" resulted in wing trimming, which was far less painless than I anticipated.

The chickens were quite oblivious to the snip of the flight feathers.


But somehow they kept escaping...They started using the ramp from the play fort, or squeezing through between fence and pen.


I think we have finally thwarted all escape measures. All those plumping, hatching insects are quite the draw. The warmer weather has also made these ladies ultra productive. We are averaging 15-16 eggs a week now.

I have to say one of my favorite parts about having these chickens is little Emmett saying "EGGIE!" and pumping is fingers for me to follow him out to the coop to check for eggs. Then he lovingly, insists upon cradling the egg or eggs between his chubby little fingers into the house. Usually this results in a crack. But by now we all should know this is not a mother who can resist the word "eggie" coming out of her 2 year olds mouth.
video

4.22.2010

Happy Birthday Mom


Wedding Portrait 1973

The more I learn about myself, the easier it is for me to recognize the gifts and selfless acts of service I received to make me who I am today. Paramount among all the gifts I have been given are those bestowed by my mother. Most significant was her absolute devotion, devoid of distraction to her children. She allowed me to be who I wanted to become, even when it was different from her.

January 1978 My Birth: Why do none of my children have hair?

From fourth grade on, she catered to my animal justice and rigid dietary decisions. She learned about TVP and constantly was on the lookout for sources of protein for her vegetarian child. In fact every night, a dinner was on the table, which accommodated me. I had no idea of the depth of this commitment and support until I have become a mother cooking my own dinners each night for my family.

Me, Mom, and Charlotte

Love notes lurked on my pillows and slipped under my slammed door in my teenage years. My room somehow magically was cleaned when I begged her not to, assuring her it would get done after school. So many memories come flooding back of sitting on my floor crying during those difficult adolescent years of bickering friends and hurtful situations. I was never alone. She was always there next to me, with a pen and paper, making lists of my good qualities, and the good qualities of those who seemed to me my enemies by all exhibited behaviors.

Mom and Callista 2005, This one was irresistible with the trademark Red Lipstick!

Her pattern of total devotion, didn't end when I left the house. At a moments notice, after a single phone call, she has repeatedly dropped everything and come. In my moments of need. Multiple pregnancies in distress, when I was an overwhelmed, overtired mother of a baby who wouldn't sleep, caring for a sick infant in a hospital my other children are whisked away to Grandmas, even this week, with yet another pregnancy scare, she was ready to drop everything and come.


I love you mom. I don't think I have said thank you enough times. I don't think I could.
Happy Birthday one more year until the big one!


4.21.2010

The Path Chosen

Guess what could be found in my fridge this week? A tall orange jug, similar to one you may have seen here before...

After a big scare on Tuesday things are quiet on the home front now. I at least have another week in the clear, until my next doctors appointment/blood draw/collection.

The little sweet pea inside me should have fully mature lungs by this point. I know, because I had a 4 inch needle to the hip twice.

I have to admit this method my body seems to have of getting babies into this world is puzzling to me. Such a stark contrast to what I envisioned for myself. I just keep reminding myself of the lesson I learned at my hair dressers 6 years ago. "Just think what it might have been." If I was obese, sedentary, junk food addict, maybe I would have babies born at 29 weeks. But so far every time this body has taken them to 37 weeks. Instead of frustration, I begin to feel overwhelming gratitude. I have 3 beautiful children. One more on the way.

I have to admit, bawling to my doctor on Tuesday. This wasn't what I envisioned. I want to experience childbirth. The contractions, the challenge, the pain, the euphoria. But again I was reminded to count my blessings. I know too many beautiful women who would trade places in a moment with me, to carry their own child.

There are so many lessons to be found in life. Each circumstance I encounter helps me learn and grow and relinquish just a little more of myself to the Savior, recognizing I am not in charge. I pursue the path I feel he directs me in, but don't chose the things that meet me upon that path. Yet I am confident this is the right way for me. Without that confidence I don't know how anyone has the strength to meet all the challenges this world has to offer.


I'm reminded of Ellery's favorite part in Robert Frosts "The Road Not Taken."

Oh, I kept the first for another day
Yet, knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

"Proceed with confidence. Knowing your steps are guided as you strive to stay close to your Heavenly Father." These words are a personal treasure given to me 14 years ago.


4.19.2010

Full Circle Ranch in the Spring

With Brent headed to CA for the Sea Otter Bike Races, the girls and I headed to Full Circle Ranch. They recently launched a new division of their company Demon Dirt. (You can check out their facebook page. This was their first event an introduction of the line.) It caters to the extreme bike industry. We have lovely, only barely noticeable, decked out van and trailer which will tour the country this Summer. I will have to get some pics so you can totally appreciate it. Thankfully, this wild touring business is left to the younger crew of 20 somethings. Their passion is admirable, but mine is certainly placed elsewhere. There are some great things about being 30 something!

It was so wonderful to spend the time with my mom and sister on their gorgeous pieces of property. The weather was gorgeous. I was so happy, because Logan has a tendency to be freezing! Emmett had the time of his life sitting on the 4 wheeler, begging anyone, and everyone for rides. Grandpa and myself were the biggest suckers.


Grandpa had 25 little chicks arrive for the Ranch. Of course they were irrisistable to the children. Especially because they were yellow. This made them far "cuter" than our brown ones!

These little chicks have only a few short months of life. After that they head to the chopping block. Meat. I have to say, that is a bit difficult for me, the extreme growth rate and lack of freedom to explore. I think my dad has decided to give them a little yard when they feather out. However, it is much more humane than factory conditions. Try watching Food INC, if you question this.

I mostly spectated as my parents tilled gardens, tended raspberries, planted in their orchard, and nursed seedlings. My sister spread manure, power washed decks, and graded new roads to their barns. There is certainly plenty to do when you live on property.

We had a wonderful 6 days with Grandma and Grandpa!

Callista giving Emmett an exuberant hug!

4.18.2010

Baby Animal Days



Char and I took the kids on a homeschool field trip to baby animal days. The children visited stations and could interact with all the baby animals. They had a wonderful time.


Grooming the Pony.
Stroking the bunnies.



Riding the fences.

Chasing the "kids."
Cuddling the polts (baby turkeys).

4.13.2010

Junk Jar

Here is a recent Junk Jar Adventure. It is still working! The pudding made this an especially icky concoction.

4.12.2010

Dangerous Deal


I'm trying to work out some sort of deal with Callista (granted it is bit risky on my part ;) )...she changes all Emmett's diapers, and I change all the new baby's. Sounds good to me.


You will also take note of the disposable diapers being used here. December, in the heart of my first trimester I packed up those cloth diapers with glee!

I do plan to use cloth with the new baby. Cloth are far easier with a breastfeeding baby, than a two year old.

There are times and seasons for everything.

4.11.2010

Sunday Insights: Distractions

Distractions

One of my favorite quotes from this past LDS General Conference came from Elder Bradley D Foster, in the Sunday afternoon session. (Read the whole talk here it is short, but powerful, well worth your time if you missed it.)

"A distraction doesn’t have to be evil to be effective."

We are inundated with distractions. Many of these distractions are inherently evil, but many are not. Many can be educational, fun, interesting etc. I was reminded of another talk I heard recently given by our Stake President (leader over about 10 different wards or congregations). He told a story related to him by his son. This son teaches children 9-10 years old in Sunday School.

During a lesson on the Garden of Eden, he asked his class "Who bit the apple in the garden of eden." The answer he received was "Cinderella." This was greeted with a chuckle by the congregations. He gave a half-smile to acknowledge the reaction. Then his expression became grave. It was clear this wasn't meant to be a joke. He addressed his concerns that we as a people are allowing too many distractions into our lives. We may be missing the opportunities to teach and train our children, because our lives are too full.

Time for the Right Things

Disney princesses in themselves are not evil. There are plenty of educational programs and movies for children to watch on TV (I know my kids used to watch them). The question becomes, with all of these things a part of our daily lives do we find the time to teach and train?

One of the elderly women in my church made a comment to me several years ago that has stuck. She mentioned that maybe one of the reasons we are counseled as mothers to garden, sew, prepare meals etc, is to keep us at home. If we really do all these things, who has time for all the superfluous offerings of the world?

Perhaps this struck such a chord with me, because it is so true. Between bathing, teaching, preparing meals, feeding, cleaning, I really have no time left to wander around at the mall or worry about what the celebrities are doing. I barely have time to take a deep breath. The crazy thing is, I never seen to realize it until the very end of the day.


Eliminate Media

I believe eliminating TV and movies was a huge step for our family in the right direction (we never did video games). And I was one of those mom's with very strict limits on time, content, and occasion. Now my children sing and recite poems on the 2 hour trip up to grandma's. Our 10 hour road trip was the same. It never even crossed their minds to ask for movies (that was certainly not the case in the weaning period though!). We use our computer for the occasional foray onto PBS kids, or to watch a video of a favorite disney song. Technologically illiterate or naive are not my objectives.

Opportunities for Personal Growth

Our family, and myself especially have lots of room for improvement. I especially feel it after this week of spring break. I think the girls must have played barbies for at least 3 hours a day. I missed the schedule, and sensed they did too. Boredom turned to antsy which morphed into disagreeable. One of my New Years Resolutions was to be more involved in my children's play. I still feel this is an area I need to work on. Many times I just "check out" when they rush to their room to play blocks and dolls. This is precious time I could be a part of their make believe. I certainly do not want to infringe on their independent play, but I think there could be 20 minutes of my time well spent playing in their make believe.

As my children grow I think minimizing distractions will be far more challenging. There are so many sports, arts, activities, friends just "stuff" to become involved in. It will be a test as parents to set appropriate limits to allow sufficient time in our home for nurturing, teaching and training our children. I better start preparing myself now!

4.10.2010

Penne al Fungi


This recipe is adapted from the Very Vegetarian cookbook. We have been using this recipe for at least 5 years. I made it with dairy for a long time. Mostly I make it vegan now, substituting cashew milk for the cream. It is delicious both ways. Quite a bit healthier however, minus the cream. I have also served this over white quinoa and it is good. We enjoy it more with pasta however.

Penne al Fungi

1 onion, chopped rough
4 garlic cloves, chopped rough
3 T olive oil, plus a little extra to finish
12 oz mixed mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped fine, or 8 oz canned chopped tomatoes in their juice
1 ½ c heavy cream or 1/2 c soaked cashews blended with 3/4 c water
1-2 oz fresh sweet basil, torn or 1 ½ t dried basil
12-16 oz fresh whole wheat or multigrain penne or rotelli
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends broken off, cut into bite-sized lengths (can sub broccoli)
4-6 T shredded Parmesan cheese (opt)

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add mushrooms and cook. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in the tomatoes. Boil and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Add cream and a third of fresh basil, or all of dried. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta in salted water with a few minutes remaining add asparagus and finish cooking. Drain well.

Toss the hot pasta and asparagus with the creamy tomato-mushroom sauce, then toss with the parmesan cheese (if using), remaining basil and a bit of olive oil.


4.09.2010

Question?


How in the world could I think about taking this beloved Nuk away from him?

Little note...he has his Mimi's speckled eyes, so cute!

4.08.2010

Scripture Verses for 2009-2010

Scripture Verses for 2009-2010

Article of Faith 1
Article of Faith 2
Article of Faith 3
Article of Faith 4
Article of Faith 5
Article of Faith 6
Article of Faith 7
Article of Faith 8
Article of Faith 9
Article of Faith 10
Article of Faith 11
Article of Faith 12*
Article of Faith 13*

Matthew 16:19
Job 19:25
Joshua 24:15
John 3:16
Luke 1:70
Luke 18:22*
John 14:15*

D&C 1:38
D&C 76:22*

Moroni 10:5
2 Nephi 27:23*
Moroni 10:32*
Mosiah 2:17*


We also keep these in a plastic jar. Recipe for success: Choose a 2 a day, in addition to the verse we are currently learning, and recite. The most difficult part about the scripture verses are keeping the references all straight.
*Scheduled to be completed by August

4.07.2010

Poetry Packet 2009-2010

I compiled all the poetry into a .pdf file. If you are interested in me emailing you a copy just leave a comment and make sure I have your email address. I hope it helps. It is a fun collection!

Poetry List for 2009-2010

Here is a list of the poems the girls have memorized this year. Young children's natural ability to memorize is phenomenal. Memorizing vocabulary contextually within the poems has proven especially effective for application. A few examples.

The following are excerpts from two of Ellery's stories:

"Once in a night as dark as pitch, the ocean had a huge storm..."
quoted from, The Adventures of Isabel
by Ogden Nash.

"Maddie looked in the oven. It was a fearsome sight! The cupcakes were burnt."
quoted from The Dentist and the Crocodile by Roald Dahl

Quote from Callista: "Don't be a twit!" also from The Dentist and the Crocodile.


Poems with a Message


"The Grumble Family"
Anonymous

"Careful with Words"
by Will Carleton

"My Kingdom"
by Louisa May Alcott

"Which Loved Best"
by Joy Allison

"The Owl"
by Edward Richards

"The Clock"
Anonymous

"No Matter"
Anonymous

"My Hands"
Anonymous

"The Road Not Taken"*
by Robert Frost

Just for Fun Poems

"My Sister Saw a Dinosaur"
by Maryann Hoberman

"Raccoon"
by Maryann Hoberman

"Sneeze"
by Maxine Kumin

"Mrs. Mitchell's Underwear"
by Dennis Lee

"Snow"
by Dorothy Aldis

"Brother"
by Maryann Hoberman

"The Adventures of Isabel"
by Ogden Nash

"The Dentist and the Crocodile"
by Roald Dahl

"Little"*
by Dorothy Aldis

"Eletelephony"*
by Laura Elizabeth Richards

"Daddy Fell Into the Pond"*
by Alfred Noyes


Holiday Poetry

"Long, Long Ago"
Anonymous

"Mr. Turkey"
Anonymous

"Double, Double Toil and Trouble"
by William Shakespeare


It is a little difficult to recite with this wretched thing smashed into his mouth...

I put these titles in a little jar. The children pick 2 a day to randomly recite. This has ensured they commit them to long term memory. If you need any of these poems in their entirety, just email me!

*For the remainder of the school year.

4.06.2010

Part Two: Lessons from My First Year Homeschooling

I learned some important lessons this year as I waded through my first year of homeschooling the children. Here they are:

Simplify

Admittedly things changed with our homeschooling during the 2 months of my first trimester, which were especially difficult for me physically and emotionally. Those 2 months also happened to be November and December. Enough said?

To compensate for my drastic increase in sleep time, I dropped a few things requiring significant time on my part. For example, typing out every poem and scripture and finding corresponding pictures for key words. We drastically reduced our "hands on" activities. No more paper mache and clay projects everyday. I moved our literature reading into the evenings before bedtime. With being limited to 3 hours everyday these changes were critical to allow school to continue to work for us. The changes have actually been lasting. We all enjoy not being rushed through Math and Literacy.

While there certainly is a place for fun crafts and hands on activities, my children don't require them as much as I initially thought. Field trip Friday also vanished. We had many excursions but every week was too much for me.

Making Bells

Keep a Foot in the Public Door

Because I was uncertain of the results of this homeschooling experience I tried to stay highly involved with the school. I accomplished this several ways. First, Ellery completed the assigned homework each night from her teacher (math worksheet, spelling, programed readers etc.) It is amazing the difference in dynamics doing this homework as opposed to our chosen curricula. There was far more resistance for this homework/busywork. Ellery's teacher consistently monitored her progress, sending home complete report cards. (I have no idea how she had the time to do this?)

I acted as the elected (I ran unopposed) president of our School Community Council. SCC is made up of the principal and elected parents and teachers. This opportunity allowed me to develop a positive relationship with our principal and closely observe his methodology, leadership style, and vision for the school. I became acquainted with our local school board member. I was kept intimately aware of the funding issues facing our school and the implications of complying No Child Left Behind. SCC also allowed me to be involved in the hiring process of teachers, evaluating teacher progress and compensation, and the allocation of state funds in our school.

SCC gave me an inside scoop of our school. What I found is a principal working hard, within the monetary (looming budget crises statewide) and philosophical framework of which he bound, for excellence. I found a good number of teachers working hard and loving the students (unfortunately this doesn't always correlate to effectively meeting the educational and emotional needs of the students). My frustration mounted through the school year as I realized everything was crisis mode. How will we meet the needs of 35 children in our classrooms? Can we hire enough aids to reduce the adult child ratios? My heart started to go out to those children in the classrooms. And their teachers! I have been there, teaching classes of 33 students. I did my best with 50 minutes each day, just as they do. It was clear to me, where I wanted my children. With me. In my home. One on one attention.

By keeping a foot in the door, I knew what Ellery was studying, the issues facing the school, and the individual teachers (and a taste of their effectiveness). If it becomes necessary to enroll my children, I feel I will now be able to do so to maximize the results allowed within this system.

Half Day...Does it Work?

Yes and no. I think this will be highly dependent on each of my individual children. Ellery has easily slipped in and out of the classroom curriculum. She does have distinct disadvantages however. She usually receives half the math, writing and spelling instruction but is graded the same as the other children. If she misses a spelling test given in the morning, her teacher will randomly give her the test weeks later. We will be making some changes next year to alleviate some of these issues.

Socially, Ellery has adjusted well. She feels neither isolated nor awkward. However, I realize with the differing personalities this may not always be the case. We have learned several strategies to make the transition to and from school most comfortable for her. She doesn't like to be "seen" by her peers. We walk the "long way" to school, skirting the playground, while she runs full-steam ahead between mailboxes to hide conspicuously behind them. It is quite hilarious to watch.

Some days Ellery begs me to stay home and just do "momschool" (what we call homeschooling with the children). She says school is "boring," she isn't allowed to talk, and children are unkind. This tugs at my heartstrings. But we talk about the commitment we made with her teacher and principal and the importance of following through. Then every once in a while she begs to go the entire day. Usually this is the result of an assembly or some special party or activity. We thought Ellery would eat lunch at school once or twice a week, but she has expressed no desire to do that. Ellery wants to attend next year for half day.

Meshing curriculums has been difficult and this will lead to changes we make next year. To be continued...

One Curriculum Does Not Fit All

I spent quite a bit of time ordering a Literature and Math program for our use this year. I choose SonLight and ShillerMath. I felt Sonlight program was weak in writing, reading and history. It was disjointed. I did not order their Science program, so I felt we missed out on Science. What I loved was the literature. We relished all the books we received, which made up the bulk of the cost of the program.

The Math program was excellent. The children loved it and I will continue to use it into the future. However, it lacked in several areas. The main areas being repetition and memorization. I bought several Math workbooks from Costco to supplement and add a different feel and meet different objectives 2 days a week.

Next year we will make some changes to better fit my personal style and the children's learning styles. But that is the beautiful thing. I can taper the learning to fit my children's needs exactly. I know that doesn't happen in the public schools. Teaching my children, consistently and daily has allowed me an insight into their learning styles and personalities I didn't have before. I feel I have gained crucial information as we move forward with their education. And they are still so young!

Choose a Philosophy

I encountered this idea last year, of choosing a long term philosophy, as I contemplated pursuing homeschooling. I didn't feel equipped to make a choice at that point. With no experience under my belt I just wasn't sure. However, I now feel I have a clear purpose and direction to our education. I do all the research and soul searching, and then Brent and I discuss family goals.

What skills and attributes do we ultimately want our children to leave the home with?
What do we both feel we individually took away from our public school educations?
What did we take away from the education given to us through our parents?
What didn't we learn, that we wish we did?

Answering all these questions have given us the tools we need to find a strategy which most closely fits our intentions. Will it change? Possibly. Is it daunting? Certainly. Am I excited about it? Thrilled. I know, I am not trying to recreate a public school in my home. So homeschooling is not just about spending time with my children. It is also a distinct difference in philosophy on how children learn and what subjects and curricula should be emphasized. More on all this later...

This is an Investment

Homeschooling is an investment of money and time. I think one could be more economical if all books were borrowed from the library. However, part of our philosophy as parents is having a home brimming with quality literature. I spend a lot of money on books and supplies. Because one curriculum doesn't fit it all Time is at a premium. However, I feel I have enough. Mornings are school. We clean up as we go. I try to recover the house by lunch. Afternoons are preparing meals and playing with Emmett and Callista. Sometimes, we write journals and have spelling lessons while I am in the shower. Some mornings are just like that.

Multiple Children

It works. There are challenges. Emmett usually pulls off every single book within his reach from the shelves. A new baby? We will see!

Still to Come...

Part Three: Homeschool Changes for Next Year

Poetry Lists

Scripture Verse Lists

4.05.2010

Part One: The Gift of Homeschooling


A Gift and Treasure

For nearly 2 weeks, every spare minute I snatch I am planning for my children's education next year. There is no question in my mind I want to be intimately involved, as I was this year. Homeschooling is a way of life for us now. It fits so beautifully with the kind of mother I am trying so hard to become. It is a gift and treasure I will fight tooth and nail to keep. It won't be easier next year, welcoming a new baby in June, will only up the output required on my part as a mother, teacher, and nurturer.

It warms my heart just to look at this messy dry erase board, evidence of a typical day...

I know I haven't posted much about it. But have no doubt, I count my decision to homeschool my children this year as one of my most momentous and rewarding as a mother. My abilities to nurture and nourish their little minds and spirits has magnified beyond what I thought possible. It is akin, to the overwhelming growth which explodes my heart when I welcome a new child.

Watching our ever changing bulletin boards full of writing and pictures, their treasures...

I cherish our hours together each morning, undivided and directed. Our little secret as Mom and kids. In fact, I toyed tremendously with removing Ellery and Callista from the public school system entirely. All that time is precious to me... But as Brent and I counseled together we both agreed, the 9 1/2 hours a week spent at the school provides appropriate opportunities for independence. It is a time for our children to gain insight, perspective and appreciation for what we are cultivating in our home. It also acts as a chance for "recess" to interact with other children and adults. Living across the street from the elementary school, puts no burden on me or our time for transit. Ellery loves the carnivals, science fairs, and birthday parties.

However, I don't feel it necessary for my children's social development to have them spend time in a public school setting. I feel strongly I could homeschool my children completely and have them be socially mature, functional, and agreeable.

Worth Every Minute

I am so grateful I wasn't afraid to try this experiment this year. I learned so much. I learned any mother, who truly loves her children and has a desire to nurture them, can make it work. We don't need special credentials, to be teachers, or specialists. Our children want to be with us more! The power struggles decrease proportionally to the amount of time we spend together. I hope no mother is afraid to try, if she feels so guided. I understand it is different for everyone. However, knowing the overwhelming joy it has brought to me, I wish it on every mom I know. It isn't an easy way. Most days I rarely stop going until my children are tucked safely into their beds (theirs for a few hours anyways...). As long as I am physically able, I won't trade it for anything.

Still to come....

Part Two: What I Learned My First Year Homeschooling

Part Three: What I will Change Next Year in our Homeschooling