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Q&A With Lia at @_goldenrod_hills_revival_

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

We are very liberal and free with the kids. While I am a strict and orderly parent with manners and such… with their “schooling” we have raised them to self-initiate, be responsible and advocate for themselves. This happened all unintentionally and it has just become our way of life, our ethos, that permeates how we approach their education. With all that being said, we are Waldorf inspired unschooling homeschoolers. We have yet to start a formal year, but I am gearing up for next fall. Up until now the kids are free to explore what they wish. We provide the resources they ask for and help if requested. For example, they are both really interested in learning how to draw by following directions from a book that they found in my art section on the bookshelf. From these drawings they are then wanting to write words and sentences. So their unfolding is approached from their initiation. We get the art supplies, books and provide ourselves when asked. Another example is that both kids taught themselves how to write the letters of the alphabet and learned their respective sounds… all by observing and through following their pure instinctual motivations to connect and communicate to the work around them. It is one of the most empowering experiences I have had to see my kids take the lead. I feel that having given them this opportunity, of not controlling their play and intellectual awakening, has created the kind of education perseverance that will last. Most importantly, it has put me in my place to mitigate my control over them, the top down approach that can scare kids away from developing their inherent interest and at their natural developmental timeline. It has made me trust in my children the same way I trusted they would walk on their own. Mostly importantly, the rhythm in our day anchors the how we all flow from one thing to another. We also take outings, go to playdates, antique stores, garden, etc. But we are mostly homebodies and honor a slow life connected to a strong sense of place.

What state do you homeschool in, and what are the laws like there for homeschoolers? How does this affect the way you homeschool (if at all)?

I feel so fortunate to live in Florida. We have great homeschooling laws here! We are registered through a “private” school and through that we just submit attendance and immunization records if applicable. As “private” homeschoolers we are exempt from ALL standardized testing! This is HUGE!!! Anyone can make a “private” school and it is very easy to do so. We are registered through a friends’ school only because it was more convenient to do so. I know in time we will register our own school and hopefully take families in. We had considered moving to North Carolina but decided against it because their homeschooling laws will not let you exempt under any condition from testing. So I would say that the homeschooling laws in my state enable me to give my children the upbringing I want for them. It gives me the power to make decisions for them and for our family without government control. It lets me decide when they are ready and how best to teach to suit their unique dispositions… to facilitate learning in a way that honors their heart and soul as much as their mind.

Why did your family begin homeschooling?

While I was working on my master’s degree I decided to take some courses in urban education. I focused in on a growing trend, at that time, with the homeschooling community that was created out of necessity in Detroit Michigan due to the mass exodus that occurred there when the economy crash in 2008 – 2009. There were not enough teachers and schools were closing. Parents were unemployed and they turned together to educate their children. Most were not even college graduates! I took so much inspiration by this radical move and started researching what exactly homeschooling was. During the same time, a dear friend was working at the local Waldorf school. Lucia was just one a half years old and I was pregnant with Sam. I knew that I was not going to enroll her in any daycare and I was feeling that I would never really feel comfortable with sending her to public or private school. We attended a few Waldorf classes and I found our fit… but not in the formalized setting that they impose there in a school… but in the overarching concepts, ideologies and educational approach that is practiced as inspired by the teaching of Rudolf Steiner known as Anthroposophy. Yet, it was not until two years later that I made the commitment to keep Lucia from entering pre-K and told my husband I wanted to homeschool. It was a very big step for me. At the time I was graduating with a double masters degree I had spent four years working towards, I had six figures of student loan debt and I had no clue what this would mean for us financially. But to answer why… concisely… because it is what I feel God called me to do. For as scared as I was and unsure what this would mean for me, my career and our collective family needs, I felt peace too. Relief even!

What do you wish you knew when you first began homeschooling?

I don’t wish for anything to have unfolded any differently. I have spent the past six years carving out the life I live now. Whew, with lots of sleepless nights, lol. Homeschooling for us has been a process, not a destination. A leaning into, uncovering parts of myself, being vulnerable, making bold scary decisions to give me the experience… not just my kids. Connected me to a calling and an awareness of life and my faith. I was a different person before, with a radically different life and aspirations that were culturally induced to fit a norm. At heart, I just wanted to spend my days gardening and working from home. We have filed bankruptcy, moved six times in six years, suffered through several unemployment periods all to be where we are today. My saving grace has been my faith in God and my resolve to see through all the shifts as growing pains to get us closer to our mission as a family. However, I am still finding balance and I make sure that every day I carve out time for myself to serve my spiritual and intellectual pursuits.

What are the hardest and easiest, parts of homeschooling?

The hardest parts of homeschooling has been the fierce resistance we have gotten from family members which has ended several relationships. The grief spent over these interactions has rocked me to my core but built me up stronger than ever. But… knowing that we are alone and without support is not the life I would have wanted for my kids. The easiest parts of homeschooling has been the fulfillment I feel every day to be home with my kids. To have come out as a woman who wants this type of life. To be known as a woman who wants to be home AND work. Not the accolades, but the satisfaction I feel every day knowing and feeling grounded into life. That I have done it! That I have a partner who supports me and shows up as a father in this way… supportive and who will work to take care of us in a world where it seems frowned upon for a woman to “stay home.” Being this type of mother is easy, the truth is I don’t know how else to be. To not homeschool would go against my grain, that would be hard.

Something else along these lines, I often have people tell me that I am so lucky to live the life I do. While I am lucky and blessed… this life is not one of luck. It comes of hard work and incredible sacrifice! I take deep offense to that statement, it undermines all the hard roads we have taken as a family to get here. This decision has been the hardest one to make and maintain. It has cost us family, friends, jobs, security and sanity at times. We have given up everything to get here. Charted a new life and done so alone. My candidness is meant to serve others who might be struggling or considering homeschool altogether… maybe feeling like giving up. Believe in yourselves and the long term livelihood of your family when times are tough. Do not delude yourselves to it always being unicorns and rainbows. Trust in yourself and do what you must to create the life of your dreams. Move states if you need to in order get free of legal restrictions, downsize, but above all trust and have faith no matter the obstacles.

I am honored to have taken this survey and blessed to be able to share our journey. I IMG_8270.JPGwant to stress super loud and clear that while these are my experiences and beliefs… I DO NOT judge anyone else in their decisions. My convictions come from honoring the mother role that is intended for me and I equally honor the path of other families. This had simply been the path designed for my family and I am grateful to be on it. Thank you for reading and please share yourself with me. You can find me on Instagram under @_goldenrod_hills_revival_

~ Lia Dominique Andress ~

[creating a sense of place to live simply + with wonderment] sacred activism 🌱 plant medicine + homesteading waldorf inspired + sadhana in mamahood]

Follow Lia on Instagram now!

To see more interviews with moms like Lia, go to:

Homeschool Diversity: Five Common Questions Answered by Real Homeschooling Moms

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A Homeschool Moms Guide To Mothers Day

Is your wife or mom a homeschooling mama? Even if she’s not a homeschooling mom, she’s still your mom (or your kid’s mom) and deserves something for Mother’s Day! Are you unsure what to get her for Mother’s Day this year? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve got the answers you seek.

A homeschool mom's guide.png

  1. Wash those dishes. No, for real. Three meals a day at home, plus snack time means there is always dishes and she’s probably tired of it. What’s that? She uses paper plates you say? Well someone has to scrub those pots and pans.
  2. Let her take a bath… alone. This one shouldn’t be that hard. You don’t even have to get your hands dirty. Fill the tub (make sure there aren’t any bath toys still in there), leave her favorite book on the counter, and walk away. If you’re Dad, take the kids outside for a few. Older child? Do the same. BAM. Happy Mother’s Day to her!
  3. Buy her school supplies. No, I’m not kidding. Pencils are ALWAYS missing. And it will save her a lot of heartaches when the kids are ready to start their lesson but have lost their 53rd pencil of the week. Bonus points if you get her a fancy pen and a cute, new planner.
  4. Tell her to go have dinner with a friend, and maybe a movie or shopping too. You don’t even have to buy her anything (except dinner, obviously)! She’ll buy what she wants, hang with her friend, get away from the house, and you win! What else do you want, bro?
  5. Have the kids fill out a fun questionnaire. You too! Imagine the joy on her face when she sees you took the time to ask the kids some serious and silly questions AND wrote them down! Here’s the link to one: Who Arted even has options for Grandma, and Auntie! That’s a two for one; your wife AND mom!

So, now you have no excuse not to do something extra sweet for the mama in your life! 🙂

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Parenting When You Lack Emotion

Emotion is not something I feel easily. It’s one of the things I struggle with the most. I want to cry when I have a baby. I want to cry when I see my babies growing into children, but the truth is I just don’t, and the closest I’ve ever been to being overcome with emotion is when I’m pregnant, and usually, I’m just angry. I’m just not wired to feel an emotion strongly enough to illicit tears. In some ways, this is a blessing. For instance, death doesn’t cause my world to come crashing down. I usually just find the positive in the situation. They’re not in pain anymore; they’re happier, etc.. In the face of hard times, I usually find my bootstraps and keep pushing.

There has only been one time in my life I can say I “failed” to hold it together and it was during a time of family illness that required us to be quarantined. I think the inability to go out and be a functioning part of society is what caused my brief lapse in strength and I allowed anxiety and frustration to take over my life. I’m not saying I’m completely cold and shut off from the world. I’m passionate and loving; I just don’t easily get “worked up,” and have a hard time being sensitive and sympathetic.

If you’re like me, this lack of emotion can cause parenting struggles.

The Lord gave me children with a lot of emotion. My oldest is a ball of complicated emotions that I’m still trying to figure out. (I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with how I parented when he was smaller.) My oldest daughter is sensitive and clinging (everything I’m not), and most of the time I just don’t know how to respond to them appropriately. I think it’s God’s way of expanding my emotions and feelings. His way to ensure I can show and feel empathy.

The other night my eight-year-old was melting because I yelled at him. He was tired, and it was radiating into his emotions- causing him to lash out at his sibling. I broke him down, and it sucked. Parenting sucks when you’re not perfect. When I went into his room to apologize and talk to him, I sat on the floor and held him while he cried it out. My initial reaction to this was to shush him, and say, “get it together.” But it’s not how I felt that was important. It’s what he was feeling. He needed me to hold him. To let him cry and to see that I was there for him. I had to put my feelings (or lack of) aside and focus on what he needed.

I’m continually learning new strategies for handling the emotions of my children. They’re tiny people filled with adult-sized feelings. They overflow and overwhelm their small hearts and minds. If you feel like you’re failing as a parent because you’re constantly messing up just know I’m right there beside you. I’m waving a white flag while downing dark chocolate. It’s hard, and even harder when deep emotion isn’t second nature.

parenting when you lack emotion

There are a few things I do to quench the needs of my children when I don’t always understand their emotions:

Let them sit on my lap- Simple right? Sometimes not so much. I don’t always put their needs before mine because sometimes I do need a break, but making it less about what I feel and more about what they need is helping me grow more empathetic and in tune with what they need. The phrase “when you become a parent you can choose what and how you do things” is wrong. It teaches kids that parenting is a selfish thing. It’s when you get to make all of the decisions and dictate how things happen. It’s just the opposite. It’s not about you and your feelings. It’s about what you can do to help children grow into loving, empathetic adults. Sometimes they need to sit on my lap to feel loved. Why deny them that just because I don’t feel the same?

Let them cry. Sometimes we just need to cry, right? They do too! It’s taken me a long time to see this. Sometimes life overtakes them, and they need a good cry. “This is not a reason to cry” and “what are you crying for now?” makes them feel like their feelings are not justified. As adults we wouldn’t allow someone to tell us how to feel, so why do we tell our children what is okay to cry about? My natural inclination is to be sarcastic and unsympathetic, so the struggle is real.

Apologize without justification. As I mention in the post Why We Always Say “I’m Sorry” genuine apologies go a long way. If you grew up assuming the parent is always right or justified this is a hard one. It’s hard to apologize to your kids when you feel justified in your actions, but the truth is an apology doesn’t take away your rights as a parent. It’s even harder when you’re emotionally “lacking,” like me. It doesn’t diminish consequences or lessons. It simply shows your children you care. That you’re sorry about the situation, or your actions- whatever they may be. It shows them you know and understands that sometimes it sucks to be a kid.

Move on. Sometimes as parents we feel the need to revisit a situation. To remind them who is in charge, or what they did wrong when the dust settles. Don’t. Listen to Elsa, and Let. It. Go. This too can be particularly challenging if the one strong emotion you do have starts with an “ang” and ends with an “er.” Sometimes their brief moment of inability to control the emotions they’re feeling turns to clarity in the same way we sometimes take a step back and realize our emotions have gotten out of hand. Who knows what goes on in their heads, but they can forget all about a fit two seconds into Dinosaur Train. We need grace sometimes (all the time), and so do they.

Acknowledge their feelings. Since I’ve started doing this I’ve noticed they’re able to identify the way they’re feeling and what they need to help them. They’re also able to turn it around on me. (In a good way.) When I’m upset, they’ll say things like, “you’re really mad right now, mommy.” This simple observation opens up discussion and usually fixes whatever problem we’re having. I can say, “Yes, I am. I need you to ______” or causes me to pause and decide whether my actions and words are necessary.

I’m no parenting expert. I didn’t go to school for child psychology, and I’m not a veteran. These are just things that work for our family, and I’m hoping our experience will help you, too. I’m constantly evolving as a parent, and what works today may not work tomorrow, but these things have proven useful time and again.

What are some of your go-to parenting tips?

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Head Injuries and Learning Opportunities

Saturday night there were six “big kids” in my house… by big I mean over the age of three and my eight-year-old was the oldest. My brother- and sister-in-law were in the process of moving and to (hopefully) relieve some stress I brought all of the children home with me to eat dinner while the guys went to grab another load. I love houses full of children. It’s my happy place, but it can also be hazardous… and it was Saturday night.

As Ryder was running through the living room he somehow took down the high chair with him as he fell; with Emma strapped in it. I’m not sure exactly what happened here. I was stirring noodles in boiling water and heard the fall. It sounded bad. You know when your kid falls, and you just cringe? You can just tell no good will come of it? That’s how I felt. At first, all seemed fine. Emma cried for about ten minutes but calmed and nursed. She didn’t have any visible signs of a concussion and was behaving normally. No eye dilation, no Exorcist vomiting, no excess drowsiness= no hospital. I thought we’d been lucky and dodged a bullet. I was in awe of the fact she didn’t have a knot on her head!

Sunday morning Emma was the happiest baby at church. She smiled and cooed at everyone and even let a friend of mine hold her for more than ten minutes while I attended to a VBS meeting. (EEK! VBS, SO EXCITING!) Once we got home, ate lunch, and settled, Emma napped like usual. The only difference was when she woke up from her nap Lylah upset her (probably from just looking at her), so I picked her up and kissed her head. Only, it was squishy. The right side of her head was slightly swollen and soft to the touch. I’ve never in my life felt something like that before. Injuries usually don’t freak me out. But this did. I threw on shoes, filled the diaper bag, and left.

After hours in the ER, one visit from a social worker, and a CT it was determined Emma had a skull fracture and a slow bleed. Protocol requires the ER to also run a full body scan and extended blood work for head trauma to children who are not yet mobile. This was so frustrating, but I had to keep telling myself these are the things that catch child abuse. If they believe every story of an “accident” there wouldn’t be children saved from it. It took seven pokes, four RN’s, and a trauma surgeon to get blood. This was the worst part of the whole experience in the ER.

We were admitted for 24-hour observation, and trauma came in to examine her as well as ophthalmology to ensure there was no bleeding behind her eyes. Once it was determined the bleeding stopped, and her eyes were fine we got to go home with a strict warning to not let her fall or bump her head anytime soon. (I’ve seriously considered a helmet, LOL.)

After we picked the kids up from grandmas, they immediately had questions about Emma’s head. So, what’s a homeschool family to do if they don’t research? We Googled and YouTubed all about bones and the brain. About the difference between fractures and breaks, and about hematomas. Everything is a lesson when you homeschool! We’ve wrapped up our short study on the brain (everything is a quick study when you’re dealing with small children and short attention spans) and we’re going to be moving on to the skull next. I never imagined everything would turn into a lesson when we began homeschooling, but I love it!

Follow this link to see how the brain study turned out!

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Injury to Lesson: The Brain

After we got back from the hospital, the kids had so many questions about Emma’s injury that ultimately led to more questions about our brain and skull. I couldn’t find anything age appropriate on those things, so I put together something myself, and we learned about the brain first.

I made two versions on the brain printable, one that prints already labeled, and one blank. The kids didn’t want to label it this time, so we just worked on coloring the different parts, and we’ll label another day to reinforce what we learned.

The Human Brain PFD

As the kids colored the different parts, I went over what each one was, and what they’re responsible for. Kids hear a lot while coloring even when it doesn’t seem like it!

After they colored them they used clay to recreate the brain. This too helped reinforce what we talked about by using a different medium for the same information.

After a while the clay play turned silly for the girls before they even finished; this was about the 20-minute mark so it made sense for their young minds and they started making their own stuff.

You can get these printables for free here and here. Let me know how they work out for your family!