Friday, February 26, 2010

Why We Homeschool

We live down a very long dirt road.  I am fond of telling people that we are geographically challenged.  That was our initial reason for homeschooling when we decided that we would move to the ranch five years ago.  I knew that homeschooling would be the plan if we didn't want to drive an hour back and forth each day.  It was not an easy decision for me coming from a family of teachers.  My mother, uncles and aunts and most of my friends are teachers so I think some of them consider me a traitor to my own kind.  If you live in rural Texas, chances are you are a teacher or a nurse.  Thankfully, my sister in law homeschooled with great success and so my husband is a big supporter, plus I live in an area that has always had a thriving homeschool community.

If you would have asked me ten years ago if I would ever consider homeschooling I would have keeled over laughing.  And I think most current homeschooling moms can say the same thing.  It really does seem like there is a revolution in the homeschooling movement, as you can tell by the amazing amount of homeschooling mom blogs. 

When friends tell me how amazed they are that I'm homeschooling and give me the standard "you're so brave because I could never, ever do that"  speech with that "you must be crazy" look in their eye, I defensively respond, 'Have you seen where I live?"   Like "no way would I be doing this otherwise."  However, that is not really the truth and feel like I'm short changing myself.  The truth is now I love homeschooling.  I wonder now if I had the choice, would I have it any other way.

I feel like my children and I are a team united on one quest.  Everyday we learn together, we challenge one another.  Sometimes it's as hard for me to muster up the mental fortitude to make it through handwriting and arithmetic as it for them.  I would love as much to check my email or clean my kitchen as they would love to be playing outdoors, but we challenge each other to keep going.  And I look forward to learning with them as much as I do educating them.  When they catch on to something new we all do the happy dance together and celebrate.  I don't remember ever not once celebrating learning in school. 

Now granted, my kids are five, three and one so give me a few years to get self righteous.  It is very challenging when one or three of them is tired, sick or moody.  Sometimes I'm tired, sick and moody and I don't have the luxery of dropping them off at school or with someone to take care of and I have to just keep going.  I'll outline the challenges I face personally with homeschooling in a later post, mainly just for myself so I can monitor my progress.  My husband and friends can tell you that there are days when it changes me in to a crazy person.

One of the unexpected joys of homeschooling for me is how much I've enjoyed teaching my children the bible and instructing them on matters of the heart.  It's such a delight to see how close they've grown to God and to each other and what a significant difference daily habit training has made on their development.  Another thing I love about being able to homeschool is the variety of things they get to learn.  We're not penned in to a set curriculum and so learning is organic and spontaneous.  Plus, my children get exposed to classical music, art and beautiful literature and aren't stuck with their nose in a text book or learning for one annual test. 

Living on a ranch provides numerous learning opportunities, especially for little boys fascinated with earth science.  A large part of the kid's education involves nature studies on fascinating geological formations and wildlife habitat as well as hands on learning about weather, gardening and animal care.  We're outside a lot and I think that makes a huge difference.

I try not to become too opinionated about homeschooling when talking to friends and family because I appreciate everyone's individual need to educate their children in the way they see fit.  I'm glad I live in a state that affords us the individual right to choose.  The more I learn the more I grow in confidence and I'm looking forward to our homeschooling journey as long as it continues to be the best thing for our family. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oh Sister

Ten pounds is hard to lose.  Since I've been pregnant for five years I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds and 13 months after birthing my last baby all I have is ten more pounds to go.  But I don't think it wants to go away.  No, its settled here on my lap and I think it's made itself at home.  Now I know.... I could go to the gym....not.  I could eat right.  That would mean preparting an entirely different meal other than the one my family is eating, which is by the way, not exactly healthy.  Dinner is homemade, wholesome food, but prepared for the man who digs postholes for a living, mind you.

Losing ten pounds will mean shifting my priorities.  I will have to...ugh....exercise.  So now I can for the one hour a day that I have for myself (I don't have an hour, but I will find one) exercise instead of taking a shower, doing a bible study, checking my email, updating this sorry excuse for a blog, or heaven forbid - taking a nap.  I will have to do this before the snacks come out and that will be soon.

Will I be in a bikini in time for summer around the stock tank?  I don't know, but I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, I have a lot of sisters out in the pasture who feel me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nature Study - February

Our nature study this month will feature bird's nests. Yesterday the kids and I drove around the ranch to find what little we could in the way of trees that might hold various desert birds' nests. We found many cactus wren nests, which are built in the choya cactus. What we lack in trees, we make up for in cactus and that is why our main focus this week will be the cactus wren. Then we will study the ever present Roadrunner and the glorious Red Tailed Hawk.

A conspicuous sight and sound of the Southwestern deserts, the Cactus Wren is the largest wren in North America. Although it can be found in urban backyards, it is a true bird of the desert and can survive without freestanding water. -

Monday, February 1, 2010

Camera Envy

I can't believe we just bought a camera that cost more than it cost to deliver my last child. I can't believe my husband, who is the smart one of the family, thought it was a good idea. It started out as an idea, buy a better camera than the five year old 5 megapixel piece of junk that took five minutes of you holding down the button before it would actually take the picture, but then quickly grew in to an absolute obsession.

I thought it would take years of saving money, but something happened that enabled us to have extra cash to go along with the egg money I'd been saving for a hutch/buffet. Now the enormous empty space in my dining room is still there but we do have an amazing tool to capture memories of our family.

Not to mention we live in a beautiful area that screams to be photographed. Every day is a photo op. I still don't know how to work the darn thing, but I bought a book on it larger than my complete works of Shakespeare and I've been reading every conceivable thing online I can find. This could indeed be a stronghold.