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Old Things, New View: Microscope Study

Just before Easter Sunday, we got a brand new Microscope in the mail. We were so excited to use it, but we didn’t have time since we hosted Easter at our house and were spending every free moment cleaning up and doing yard work. So Monday we took a peek at a few random things to curb our curiosity until our slides came in (slowest four days EVER) and I could get our printable Microscope Journals made up.

We looked at a few different things:

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The hair of a My Little Pony horse
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Ripped end of a paper towel
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Styrofoam

 

We splurged a little and got a microscope with the option to use a USB lens so we can all look at the slides at the same time. For families with multiple children, this is where. It’s. At. I can hook it up to my laptop and not once did anyone become antsy to have a turn. They could all see it! Plus, I can save cool pictures of what we looked at.

It cured our itch to use the microscope, but we still had a lot to learn at this point. We didn’t know anything about how to identify the things we saw, how to properly focus the microscope or even use the light! We totally winged it. The next day we studied up on how to properly use a microscope. AND THEN, this happened:

Yay, the slides came!

School 168School 182

I created Microscope Journals for all of the kids (you can snag one here for free!), and we went through each part of the microscope, so we knew what we were dealing with and which knobs did what. We chose a feather, the torn end of construction paper, and pond water from our property. I love these pre-prepared slides. They’re the bee’s knees because the kids always have something to look at when they feel like using the microscope but don’t want to prepare their own slides. (Read: when I don’t want the mess of slide prep on my table.)

The younger kids didn’t write out a hypothesis in their journals, but they drew the pictures of what the item looked like with the naked eye and then under the microscope. They liked this.

Microscope Journal

All in all, this was a fun activity and seeing the algae in the water was cool. We’re now waiting on our dye to come in the mail so we can see all of the micro-organisms in water from different places. We’re going to take samples of water in our yard, and at a few parks to compare them; I’m excited to do this!

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Today I Was A Bad Mom

Today, I was a bad mom. I made the kids stop painting and clean up their rooms. I made them clean up the water on the floor they tracked in after playing in the water hose. I made them wait to use the microscope until I was done nursing the baby so I could better supervise the use of an expensive and fragile piece of equipment.

Today, I was a bad mom.

Days like this are the worst. They break you down and beat you up. It’s not so much the task of actually doing these things; it’s the huffs and puffs in reply to a request, and then screams and yells when your requests have to turn into demands. “Can you please clean up the water you tracked in, so we don’t slip?” “You have to clean up the water before moving on to something else!”

Today, I was a bad mom.

I require the kids to shut the door every time they go in and out. Bad mom. The three-year-old couldn’t find his underwear, and lost them. Bad mom. I asked the oldest to chew with his mouth closed. Bad mom. Some days, these simple things aren’t noticeable. They’re just part of everyday living, no one gets mad, and the day goes on. But some days, when sleep wasn’t peaceful, moods are sour, and the day is filled with less than fun school work or chores I’m a bad mom.

Homeschooling is hard on good days. Heck, parenting is hard on good days.  It’s all worth it, though. Do you remember why you chose this life? Cling to that. It’s what gets us through the bad days. The days when it’s easy to forget. The days your kids call you “the ultimate party-pooper.” Yup, my eight-year-old called me that earlier. It’s what I’m doing today, and what I have to do many days. Because I’m a bad mom.

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Top Five Reasons We Homeschool

Why did you decide to homeschool? It’s a question we get asked often. Usually, I’ll get anxious, or overly excited they asked and say stupid things like, “it’s so nice to sleep in” (which we usually don’t) or “it’s easier on us.” These two things aren’t even on my radar when it comes to why we’re a homeschooling family. The signal from my brain to my mouth seems to always malfunction in times like these and I just want to scream, “Wait! Come back! That’s not what I meant to say!”Oops. So, here are the top five reasons (Yes, another list) we choose to homeschool our kids:

To be closer to the children. I started homeschooling thinking it was all going to work out exactly how I planned it in my new planner and if we got off course I would worry we were missing something, but then I realized the purpose of homeschooling is to enjoy being together. That is more important than what I had written in the planner or what that fancy, new curriculum says I should do. I still have rough days. Days where I would love the house to be quieter, or a mess just cleaned up to stay clean,  but I can honestly say I enjoy it all. The good and the bad days spent with the kids are just that; time spent with them.

To allow them to be who they want. Hubs and I are firm believers that not everyone is going to go to college, get a great paying office job, and live in the suburbs. If our children want to work with their hands, or stay home and raise babies, we support that one hundred percent and want to help them be successful by laying the foundation to those trades. (I’m getting on my soapbox here) I feel the ability to see the success of celebrities, and self-made billionaires is so accessible with T.V. and social media that the world sometimes forgets some people enjoy blue-collar jobs and working hard. Herman is a hard worker and wouldn’t last two days in an office job. He likes working hard and being able to step back and see the work he has accomplished with his hands. In a lot of fields, experience trumps a degree. If Hayden wants to be a woodworker (which unless there’s a techy way to do it, he won’t) I want him to start NOW. I want him to be able to spend all of his free time whittling away so that he can start young. I want him to learn the essentials of running a good business and how to build one up from the ground. If Lylah wants to stay home and raise babies, I want to teach her all of the things about running a house I didn’t know when we started out. If Ella seeks to be a doctor, we will make sure she’s taking the right high school courses, learning everything that will be helpful to her in college, as well as give her the opportunity to take college classes during the day as a teen if she’s able. We can grow their resumes with jobs or volunteer work other kids can’t do because they’re in school and they can work odd hours to earn money for college (or life). These things will help set them apart when it comes to college applications or job interviews.

To shelter the children. Uh-oh. I said the “S” word, but I want to shelter their young hearts. I don’t want them to be hardened by the world. Not even a little. I want them to have soft, kind hearts so that people can see and feel Christ in them. Being hyper-aware of worldly things only leads to trouble. We will shelter our children so they can be the good in the world. We’re a pretty open family and always answer questions they have and never say things like, “mom just goes to the doctor, and the baby comes home with her. Just like that!” That’s right; heads up play date mamas, my kids KNOW how babies come out. Hard subjects are discussed in our home openly and without deception. So it’s not like they’re hiding out in our bomb shelter and are vitamin D deficient. (HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO HAVE A BOMB SHELTER, THOUGH!?) We only want them to learn about things as they become curious.

To allow them to be themselves. I don’t ever want our kids to waste one second of their life trying to be like someone else or worrying whether or not the popular kid likes them. If they’re quirky and goofy, that’s who I want them to be. If they’re serious and an old soul, I want them to feel comfortable in their skin. I’m not living in a bubble. I know children can achieve this in school, but I know my kids and can already tell who would and wouldn’t. I don’t want them to follow the crowd and then after high school is over realize that’s not the kind of person they want to be in life. (Speaking from experience here.)

To let them be little. This one is newer. Starting out this never crossed my mind. Now, I wholeheartedly support learning through play. It’s what childhood should be made of. The goal of school in our home is to foster the love of learning. Elementary school teachers all across America are wishing they could spend more time playing during the day but they can’t. Their jobs depend on it. We homeschool so our children have the opportunity to learn through early childhood play and I’m so grateful for the ability to do so.

We’re proud to let our homeschool flag fly!

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Homeschooling and Homeschool Haters

As a sweet friend of mine once said, “you can always find something on the internet to support how you feel.” This could not be truer! There is always someone out there in this big world that will agree 100% with your view on a situation. The internet will have blogs, studies, and statistics to back up each of your opinions. There’s also an unlimited amount of the same places that argue your point is invalid.

When we first started homeschooling, I would constantly ask others questions about how their days looked, how they felt about our routine, and what kind of activities they participated in. We would obviously need to do those things, too. I was continuously seeking approval of those I love, and even random people in the grocery store who wanted to know why my kids weren’t in school like “normal” children. It’s just the way I’m wired. I have my own opinions, but I also want to know what others think too. It’s a vice I have to give up to God daily.

I was so concerned with being a homeschooling family everyone would approve of. In my mind, we could be the homeschoolers that even those who don’t like the idea of homeschooling would say, “Gee, that family really changed my mind.”  HA! All my homeschooling homies are laughing with (or at) me right now! The truth is that there will always be people who don’t agree with your calling to keep your children home. Some will quietly judge from the sidelines, others with talk about how you’re “probably ruining” your kids when you’re not around, and others will flat out share their not so subtle opinions with you…. whether you ask them to or not.

Here’s a list of common misconceptions and why, for my family, they’re not true:

  1. Homeschooling is easier. Being homeschooled does not mean all of those pesky subjects none of us enjoyed in school magically disappear. If you want your child to have any hope for a successful future in college, they’re going to have to suck it up and do stuff they just don’t want to do. In my house, we frequently say, “suck it up, Buttercup.” I’m aware this may not be everyone’s choice in parenting strategy, but it works in my world and they usually, well, suck it up. It’s definitely easier for me to not have all of the kids dressed and at school by 8:00 a.m., but I also have to teach, feed, and control them all day while constantly reminding them they have to clean up their messes. Yes, that is glitter in my hair and puff paint on my lovely new top. So, let’s call it even?
  2. Homeschoolers are awkward and shy. Everyone close your eyes, and think back… just kidding. Don’t, ’cause then you can’t keep reading. But, seriously, think back to your years in school. Remember that awkward kid? The one who was painfully shy, super weird, and anti-social? Maybe you remember one particular person. Maybe that person was you- hey, no judgment here. Either way, it just proves homeschooling isn’t the only reason some kids are different. It has more to do with personality and home environment than where they attend (or don’t attend) school.
  3. Homeschoolers should be quizzed by everyone. No. Just don’t. Not only can it amplify anxieties a child may already have with certain subjects, but it is also a super awkward situation. Homeschooled or not, it’s weird when a family member, friend, or random adult assumes there is ever an appropriate time to test your child’s knowledge. Then, if the child doesn’t know those things, or responds to an awkward situation, well, awkwardly it’s clearly because they’re homeschooled.
  4. Homeschool moms have a lot of patience. Do you hear that? That sound, my friends, is the sound of my fellow homeschoolin’ mamas giggling with me. Y’all, my patience is paper thin sooo often. Even on days, I wake up feeling like Mrs. Brady, I get put in my place REAL quick. We live on grace. The Lords grace is how we manage the chaos. Our patience is no more structurally sound than yours, I promise.
  5. But, socialization!! I’m not even going to lie, my family is WAY less active than 99% of our homeschooling friends. All of my kids are still young, and other than the occasional play date or church you can find us at home, the park, or the grocery store. My oldest will sometimes play organized sports, but just that stretches us thin with so many littles. Still, we have no shortage of friends at birthday parties. Plus, I have a secret… you don’t HAVE to meet all of your friends at school! I know, I know!
  6. Homeschool moms can’t complain. Honestly, complaining from anyone is the worst. No one likes a complainer.  But, sometimes homeschooling mamas just need to vent. Yes, we know we “put ourselves in that situation.” Of course, “it’s always an option to send them to school,” but waving down the bus on hard days isn’t the option we’re looking for. Homeschooling moms have a fear of venting their frustrations because of statements like those. We’re no different than the average parent trying to figure out why in the world Stacy bought 400 chocolate bars.

I’m not implying everyone you run into will disagree with your decision to homeschool. In fact, you will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of support that will come from the places you least expect. I’m also not saying that it’s wrong to disagree with homeschooling. Let’s all just agree to abide by the old rule, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

If any of these things hit close to home, I feel you. Hold steady, Mama. We can laugh about these things because at the end of the day only The Lord knows what’s true, and what’s right. We’re under no obligation to look like anyone else. If we were meant to look like the world, God would have sent a sinner.

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”

1 Corinthians 7:17

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Hey, Wildflower! (Identifying Central Texas wildflowers in our own backyard)

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Central Texas wildflowers are in full bloom! Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be working on identifying all of the different types of plants native to Central Texas. Since the wildflowers are out and looking beautiful, I decided to start here. The kids love it, and I enjoy the time spent studying outside. Stay tuned for more posts about the cool plants we’ll be finding and pressing in the next few weeks. It’s all part of our new organic style of homeschooling and our goal to love learning.  We’re so excited to see and name each one. This is the first time ever our family has gone out to pick flowers with the intent to identify each one! We didn’t have a large variety of flowers on our property, but we were excited to find what we did. It was also an excellent opportunity to snag some long grass for weaving on the loom!

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So, with coffee in hand (for my tired eyes) we headed out early to beat the impending rain. The weatherman says it’s going to rain the entire week, so we’ll work on pressing them in the following days to label, and then some for an Easter craft with the cousins!

Here is what we have an endless supply of in our yard:

Texas Dandelion Texas Dandelion – Pyrrhopappus multicaulis

The kids love that the dandelions stay open in the morning but close when the sun is high in the sky. It’s a new surprise every morning when our green afternoon pastures are speckled with yellow the next day.

wildflowers-014.jpgTexas Vervain – Verbena Halei (and Ella)

These are so pretty and remind me of lavender! I like simple, and these are right up my ally. All of the Texas Vervain we found on our property were purple, but they grow with white flowers as well.

Slender Stem Bitterweed (Hymenoxys scaposa)Slender Stem Bitterweed (Hymenoxys scaposa)

These look so similar to the Texas Dandelions but are much smaller. The girls really like them, and we actually found this one with a bee completely covered in pollen. So much so, he had a hard time flying away! I couldn’t get my camera ready in time to catch it, though.  Hopefully, he made it safely back to his hive!

wildflowers-019.jpgEvening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

Did you know these are not called buttercups?? I didn’t! That’s what I’ve always called them. The kids love putting them up to their noses to see the pollen stick.

Hymenopappus scabiosaeus L'Hér.  Carolina woollywhite, Old Plainsman, Woolly-WhiteCarolina wooly white, Old Plainsman, Woolly-White (Hymenopappus scabiosaeus L’Hér)

This pretty little (well, big) thing goes by many names. I had no idea what this plant was called, and it took the kids and me quite a while to find it online. Most of what we found didn’t have the pink colored blooms like this one. It’s fun to find all the different looking flowers that are actually the same thing!

texaswildflowerpictures.com is the website we used to find what we were looking for. It’s by far the easiest to navigate, and it’s color-coded! While we don’t have the Texas staples like Mexican Hats, Indian Paintbrushes, and Bluebonnets (below are some we have pressed and ready to label) in our yard, we’re excited to have what we do!

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From left to right: Indian Paintbrush, Bluebonnet, Indian Blanket Flower, Brown Eyed Susan

What’s your favorite wildflower?

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Where It All Began

I’m so glad you’re here! Sharing our story, and our daily life has been on my heart for a while. Our house is messy, small, and LOUD. I know there has to be someone out there experiencing real life like us and I want to be your friend.  Solidarity, Sister!

We live in central Texas in a tiny town on 50 acres. I moved here from Austin with my family in my last two years of high school. My husband was born here, and never wanted to leave- so here we are enjoying the quiet of our small town.

Our homeschool journey started pretty abruptly. I was intrigued by the idea of homeschooling when I became friends with a wonderful woman in our church. I began praying for answers while also trying to get my husband just as interested as I was. Hayden, our oldest, was going on his second year in school. It was an everyday struggle to get him out the door. Kicking, screaming, and, fighting. Every. Morning. Y’all. My mild-mannered, smart boy was worn out and fed up with school only two years in.

This particular morning he and Ella (our six-year-old who was attending Pre-K) missed the bus… again. My husband was loading them in his single cab truck to get them to town before they were late. As I watched him drive away with a screaming Hayden and a wide-eyed Ella, I thought, surely, there must be a better way.

The Lord heard me. Herman reversed up the driveway, and a bleeding Hayden jumped out of the truck. In an attempt to prevent Hayden from jumping ship (you read that right; he was gonna jump out of the truck!), Herman somehow ended up elbowing him in the nose. That was it. We were done. That was the last time they loaded into a vehicle to beat the bell.

A heartbroken daddy cleaned up his boy and apologized. As Herman was rushing out the door, I informed him I was going to pull the kids from school that day. He trusts my decisions, but at that point, he still wasn’t sure. It didn’t take long for him to come to the conclusion that every family has their own rhythm, and this was ours.

Fast forward to today: we’re still here; killin’ it!

Homeschooling is an adventure I never imagined I would be living, let alone loving. We have good days, and bad. It’s all part of the balance The Lord gives to our lives. If I had to choose one thing I want our children to remember from our homeschooling experience it would be the love and grace God has given and continues to provide, to our family as we walk through each day of learning. We never know what the next day will hold, but The Lord is our guide.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”                            Ecclesiastes 7:14