Home Education


Spice jars. billi-jean.com

That final sprint for the finish each “school year” (and I use the term loosely) is an adrenalin soaked affair of jam-packed schedules, early mornings, packed lunches and the mantra, “Almost done, almost done, almost done..”. I don’t even think that there is a lot more that we were doing in April and May. Okay, there is a lot more, but it isn’t so much as to send the rest of your life topsy-turvy. At least, it sure doesn’t look like it in February and March when you are planning it all. In planning stages it looks like Fun! and Excellent Opportunities!… and it is, it so is, but when you get the the point that you can’t remember the last time you ate lunch at home and the baby napped in his bed and it’s getting harder and harder to get up in the morning… that’s the point you wonder what the heck you were thinking.

Now that it’s (mostly) done, was it worth it? Absolutely. Are we burnt out? Sure. But we’ll recover and then want to do it all again. There was an intense animation course that was a lot of work and time, but Jordan absolutely loved it. He learnt so much and has acquired a new, very cool, hobby. There were the weeks of drama classes that he couldn’t wait to get to. Guitar lessons. The Nature Programme, horseback riding, plus learning to type and reading hundreds of pages every week. There is always hockey and the paper route, of course, and learning to feed the baby, and watching old movies. These few months have been a productive and exciting time for Jordan. He has grown so much.

He’ll be 12 on Sunday. But I’m not thinking about that.

Now that we’re “done” (and I use that term loosely, too), I’ve been spending some time taking care of little details – not necessarily the most urgent details, but the ones that give me the most pleasure. Like, for example, filling my spice tins. I got those spice tins in two sizes at Lee Valley and I love them. They are big, so they’re perfect for things like oregano (because really? I can’t think of any time I’d use 1 teaspoon of oregano. I use at least a quarter of a cup or none at all, yanno?) and cinnamon (mmmm.. cinnamon). Spices I use in smaller amounts go in the smaller tins. The lids have glass windows in them and when I open my spice drawer I’m looking down through all those little round windows at all the colours of my spices and herbs. And that is exciting to me every single time. (yes, yes, I know ;) ). I label the sides of the tins, but I like to try to choose my spice or herb by it’s colour and texture through the window. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. (Maybe I need a hobby?) In the photo above: paprika, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.

I’ve also put my vegetable gardens in. There aren’t words for how much I love this. I’ve had problems in the past with blossom rot on my tomatoes. I’ve read that this can be due to a lack of calcium in the soil, so I’ve been washing and saving our egg shells. I grind them up with my mortar and pestle, and I sprinkled them around the roots when I put the tomatoes into the ground. I’ve ground up more now to add later.

Egg shells, mortar and pestle. billi-jean.com

There are more things Jordan wants to learn and to learn to do, so we’ve made an outline for the summer months. This plan calls for much more time at home, and much less driving around, leaving time for playing in the sandbox, long naps in bed, and puttering in the garden. Well, that’s the theory, anyway ;) But Jordan has already acquired that hammock he wanted and has broken it in with a couple of good books :)

Babies and bubbles and dandelions.
Babies and bubbles and dandelions.

I love Spring. I had forgotten how much I love it – not because it’s been a whole year since we had it, but because it has been years since we had a *real* one. This year it is perfect: some very warm days, some very cool days. The nights are sometimes cold and we are not clear of frost danger yet. Sun and rain, wind and calm, warm and cool, clear and overcast. Perfect :)

The Baby spends hours every day exploring the backyard: picking flowers, digging in the pots, splashing in the bird bath, driving toy trucks through the grass. Jordan blows bubbles and then together they chase them down. There is a rabbit that comes to visit. He seems unconcerned and happily nibbles dandelion leaves in the lawn as long as we don’t move directly toward him. When we do, he slowly hops away without any real urgency and is always back a little while later.

The trees are *almost* in full leaf now and when they are, it’ll only be a few weeks until Summer. We have some plans for the Summer: a week at a cottage, days at the pool.. but not too much. The rest of the year is jam-packed with events and outings and classes; we’re going to keep our Summer low-key. Jordan has asked for a hammock. He envisions spending hours at a time, lying in a shady spot reading a book. He is working on his summer reading list. It gets longer by the day *grin* I used to spend my summers reading and remember it fondly and not without longing. I’ve already begun shopping for that hammock :)

Babies and dandelions.

A traffic jam when you’re already late? Oh honey… it gets much worse than that.
Train crossing.
This is what happens when you got caught in the training-a-new-cashier line at the grocery store and now you are trapped in the car with a baby who is screaming for his supper while Jordan has the Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop on repeat on the stereo. You get a train. A very long, slow moving train. It’s awesome. Except the part where it isn’t.

I am often confused by the way other people seem to feel about home schooling. Many feel that there is no way a parent has a right to choose how to educate their child (unless of course, you are choosing to send them to regular school; you always have that right) and at the same time, they feel they have the right to quiz you and assess how the education of YOUR child is going.
I am also surprised that some people seem to think that home schooling is academics on steroids and that Jordan should be just about finished high school now and is the baby reading. Don’t laugh… people have asked me. ummm.. did YOUR kids read when they were 14 months old? No, but they weren’t home schooled. ummm… ok? With a totally straight face, I told one person who asked me how long I spent each day schooling the baby (he was 10 months old at the time) that given his age, I only spent a few hours each day. He is reading at a grade four level, I told her, and I’m okay with that; there is no need to push any harder than that. This woman (who had kids of her own) nodded appreciatively and agreed that yes, reading at a grade four level at 10 months of age was probably enough but cautioned me against letting him off too easy as any mother would be tempted to do.

Recently, it happened again. Someone asked me what Jordan was learning ‘in school’… I assume meaning, what academic-type work is he doing at home. So I blah blah monasticism blah blah typing blah blah reading blah blah writing blah blah. And this led to questions about my specific goals in educating Jordan, what do I expect him to learn. I didn’t give the kind of answer that was sought. I said that I wanted Jordan to have good strong character, to know himself and how to be happy, to have the self confidence, motivation and discipline to set goals and achieve them. This was apparently unsatisfactory and I was supposed to say “Finish Grade X math by age Y”. oops.

On to me and my wishy-washy ways, this person looked me in the eye and sternly asked “And what are you educational goals for Christopher?” … because maybe if he stared at me just right I would suddenly see how wrong I am and come up with some better plans for the baby?
Umm.. he’s 15 months old…
Yes… and how are you educating him?
Mostly, I’m trying to teach him not to lick the dog.

Seriously!! It turns out that not-licking the dog is not a lofty enough expectation for a baby! There were more stern looks and clucks of disapproval. Too bad so sad. I wasn’t seeking your approval anyway.

The thing is… not licking the dog is HARD when you are so young. It’s REALLY VERY HARD.
Dont lick the dog
Who is licking whom?

Blue eyes and Cheerios

Blue eyes and Cheerios
Photos by my Dad. :)

You know, it took me days to figure it out. Each evening as I was getting ready for bed, I’d notice that my cheeks were sore. I realised it had been going on for a while. Finally, it dawned on me: my face hurts from smiling. Almost every day. But seriously look at that. He is that cute all the time. Your cheeks would hurt too.

Well, to be honest, he was ever so slightly less cute when he threw a fit in Costco because I wouldn’t buy him a big bag of Weed N Feed. What use would a 15 month old child have for a bag of toxic chemicals? It is a mystery to me, but apparently Very Important to him. Tonight, he made up for any cuteness points he may have lost when, at dinner, he carefully sucked the pesto off of each piece of pasta before eating it. lol I try to contain myself and to be reasonable, but it takes superhuman effort because I just want to go on and on every day about how GREAT my kids are.

Jordan has been really busy. Hockey is still going; he has art classes and guitar lessons, snowboarding and his paper route. There are the nature studies and all those books to read. He is ever occupied in one pursuit or another, that boy. Soon he’ll start an animation course that he is really looking forward to.

Full lunar eclipse.
Last week, Jordan and I drove out down a closed road near here to watch the eclipse. It was beautiful and quiet. And cold. It was very, very cold. I still didn’t have feeling in my fingers when I’d already been home for hours. But it was worth it. Jordan thinks it will be even more worth it if the next one happens in warm weather ;) But electric blankets and hot chocolate made it all better :)

For a whole whack of reasons, Jordan put off celebrating his 11th birthday last June, and instead we celebrated his Eleven and a Halfpth birthday at the local laser tag place in February. I like laser tag. You know why? Because I get to shoot children. Loud running around children who I am probably related to and who have contributed to my accelerated ageing. Shooting such children brings an immense amount of pleasure, itellyouwhut.
Goggle face.
But this was Jordan’s birthday party and in celebration of how we are all blessed to have him in our lives, I made a point of shooting him the most.
This is not to say that no one shot me. Because they did. At one point, I was cornered by six munchkins I had never met and they all just stood there, shooting me. The littlest one said to his buddies, “I like it when I have a nice big target; it’s easier to get a hit.” Sheesh. I tried to shoot back but i was always dead from them shooting me, so finally I just ran away.
And hid.
And pegged them off one by one as they came around the next corner.
Yes, I outsmarted six 5-year olds. And I’m proud of it. ;)
Jordan had a great time. His family and best friends were there. He says he wants to have his next party at the same place. That’s fine with me, as long as I get to bring ear plugs next time.

In other news, we’ve had a lot of snow.
Snow!
Snow!
And it makes me very, very happy :D


These few weeks at the end of January and beginning of February confuse me. We are always so busy, yet it feels like we aren’t doing anything. Maybe the gloom makes everything flat and dull and then I can’t remember what we’ve done nor grasp any sense of accomplishment. But already the days are growing longer and the light is stronger and there is always my camera. I just have a look at what’s on there and I can see all we’ve been doing to fill the days. I know I have been reading a lot. For so long I could hardly read at all and I missed it and longed for it and mourned it daily. But I have been reading at least an our and a half every day and I love love love it. Obviously, there has also been some bowling ;)

We have colds, but nothing too bad. None of us has taken to our bed just yet. The Baby, however, has sore ears so they are full of garlic oil and stuffed with cotton – which he doesn’t seem to mind at all – and we follow behind him sniffing hungrily because, frankly? he smells delicious.

One of the things I’ve been reading is this book:

What a beautiful piece of work! Later in the week, I’ll give this space over to Woody Winfrey, creator of the I Am Beautiful Project. I can’t wait! But right now.. I’d better get to bed because Mr Yummy Garlic Head is an early riser and the bigger boys have to be out of the house first thing in the morning for snowboarding. And at some point, there is just not enough coffee to make up for one’s lack of sleep. Believe me, I know ;)

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