Mother Culture- The Ultimate Anti

I've borrowed the phrase Mother Culture from Karen Andreola's book, A Charlotte Mason Companion. I define Mother Culture simply as practicing a lifestyle that keeps my mind grounded in faith as well as lively and always learning.

I've attempted to cultivate Mother Culture in my life over the years in different ways; sometimes my children are involved, but usually not.

Recently, I decided to create a photographic week-by-week record of my yard- sheerly to entertain myself and to practice the art of noticing. Here are just a few of the shots.  What a difference a week can make!

Forsythia- week one

week two

Quince- week one

week two

Mother Culture- it's my anti-cranky, anti-boredom, and anti-future alzheimer medication.  No known side effects.  

It's what Works For Me on Wednesday , and any other day.


My family has been given the opportunity to participate in a community garden.  Each Monday I'll be posting updates on our grand veggie-experiment.  Join me at the Flexible Homeschooler with a link to your garden project and we'll have a virtual community garden to enjoy.


Family Garden 101- #2

I hope you had a good gardening week. Link up and share your progress!

We didn't have anything new to plant this week out at our garden site; so far nothing is peeking through. Next week we plan on adding another row of beets; but mostly we are just waiting for the freeze date which is April 15.  Then the party really starts...

We have gotten quite a work-out putting on and taking off the cover for our salad 4x4 garden.  From temperatures in the 70's, to freeze warnings, we've seen it all this week.

We learned that if you don't cover your box carefully, and it rains torrentially, the cover will smash your plants.  Luckily nothing was irreversibly damaged.  We also discovered that our kitten is quite ferocious and is thoroughly enjoying keep rabbits away.  I hope he continues to enjoy the sport all season!

Something's sprouting- hopefully not my first weed.  Silly me can't for the life of me remember what we planted there.

Not quite enough lettuce for our family of 9, yet. Notice the lettuce is labeled as red cabbage. I forgot to instruct my toddlers on the important matter of leaving the vegetable markers alone.  

This is the slightly squashed broccoli.

Our red cabbage.  

Total spent for the week:
I ordered Bradley tomato plants, Grape tomato plants, and something else... from a friend who is selling for his 4-H fund raiser.  We will get them just in time to plant.  


I Can't Find My....

The theme for this week was, " I can't find,"- fill in the blank.  It was an epidemic. Certain multiple children lost pencils, pens, math books, notebooks, read-alouds, history books, their left arm, their shoes.  

O.k., no one actually lost body parts but I was getting aggravated enough to consider duct-taping school books to bodies.   

Monday we did school outside.  I have to admit we all had trouble concentrating.  However, it was lovely.

Tuesday was our state's Home School Rally Day at the capital.  My 15 yo daughter lugged her tuba to the hill to perform.  I only took my 10 yo to watch because last year it was such a long program.  This year was better organized and much shorter- I wish I had taken everyone.  

Wednesday I got the opportunity to take just my 8 yo out for a treat after school.  We always celebrate finishing a math book or a difficult text with a treat out, one-on-one, with Mom.  It's a big deal in a big family.

Thursday we lost things, we found things, and slogged through school.  My 18 yo is continuing to read the Hobbit to my 8 yo.  His reading is so animated that I find myself pausing to listen too.  Lots of the children are coming to the end of this year's curriculums.  I'm starting to day dream about next year.

Friday I enjoyed a Gross Motor workout with the three younger boys at the park while the older children worked at home.  Sliding...

Climbing while making momma's heart stop...

The park was actually a big deal.  My almost 3 yo cannot handle heat well at all so we have to make the most of park weather before the heat hits.  It was especially encouraging to watch him run about like a madman with such obviously increased coordination and core strength.

My 18 yo is getting credit for "Distributed Education" by working freelance for several small production companies.  His work has slowed dramatically so I assigned him the job of designing some blog buttons for this blog and for my main blog. I can be a very self-serving teacher.

My 10 yo is continuing to work on learning how to shade pencil drawings of fruit.  I hope to post a couple of pictures next week- if she'll let me.  We looked at a bunch of Cezanne's paintings of fruit.  I have always thought that Cezanne's peaches look as if they could roll around with joy.

Now for a weekend of cleaning and reorganizing the school books. Hopefully I'll find the still missing math notebook.


My family has been given the opportunity to participate in a community garden.  Each Monday I'll be posting updates on our grand veggie-experiment.  Join me with a link to your garden project and we'll have a virtual community garden to enjoy.


For other Weekly Wrap-ups go to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers 


Family Garden 101

We had a lovely day last Friday in our to-be-garden.

We were able to plant 10 lbs of red seed potatoes and 5 lbs of white potatoes as well as 1 1/2 lbs of onion sets both purple and white. I planted in 4 x 6 mounds instead of rows. We'll see in a few months how that works.

We also planted beets, brussel sprouts, turnips and collard greens. We planted the seeds in 2 foot wide rows. I didn't realize until after we had planted a 20 foot run of turnips that we weren't planting Purple-top turnips, which is what I thought I had purchased. Instead we planted Seven-top which is more for the greens than for the root.

It was first official "oops" of the garden; I'm sure it won't be the last! Does anyone know how Seven-top turnip bulbs taste?

It wasn't all work.  By our space we have a handy dandy checkerboard.

As I was buckling my almost 4 yo into the van he said, "Actually the tractor was most impressive".  All the kids got a laugh at that.  We've been repeating him all weekend.

It rained all day Sunday.  I couldn't stop thinking about how happy the rain makes my garden.

1 drive to the garden
3 hours of planting
$55 spent on potato and onion sets and a boat-load of various seeds.


Life Skills

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been flattened by a truck.  We did school this week but we also did a lot of very physical Life Skills work.  

The older children helped me paint the den, the kitchen and the dining area. 
We also planted 360 sq. feet of cold weather veggies: potatoes, onions, brussel sprouts, collard greens, tunip greens, and beets in our community garden.  Stop by on Monday to see our gardening progress.  We are keeping up with the time, money, and labor spent on our community garden project as part of our home school.  If you want to join us, I'll have a Monday linky set up so we can all share our gardening joy/hard work.

My 8 yo and 10 yo planted a 4x4 salad garden at home as well.  Which I forgot to assign someone the job of covering.  I've not had the heart yet to look this morning to see how the lettuce did overnight.

My 15 yo, who would prefer to eat only artisan breads and chocolate, laughingly said, "So I get to work hard planting and weeding in order to eat vegetables I don't like anyway?"
Why yes. 

My oldest turns 18 tomorrow.  Officially, he only has to finish up his english tutorial and a few more chapters of physics.  Also, I assigned him a paper on his core values and why he believes what he believes.  It will be the wrap-up for his philosophy class.  

Pinch me, either I'm about to graduate one of my children or I'm just dreaming!

I'm looking at Farther Up and Further In curriculum for my to be 9 and 11 yo for next year, just to shake things up.  Has anyone used this that would be willing to tell me what they think- positive or negative?

Have a great weekend and check out  Weekly Wrap-up for a week's worth of learning from families around the world.


Taking the Edge Off Toddlers

This is my favorite way to wear my toddlers out in the morning.  Work.  

We all have to eat.  They love to help.

Grinding oats while wearing jammies.  

It takes twice as long, but I know where they are- that's always important.

Especially with my ambitious 2 yo.

By the time breakfast is ready and eaten.  My toddlers have had enough attention to chill for a while so I can get the school day started.  

Well, they pretend to chill, anyway.

It's what Works For Me Wednesday or any other day.


The Gardening Outlook: Rain

Last Monday was so exciting. Seeing the community garden space, walking through the dirt, and visualizing a postcard perfect garden.

Then rain and more Rain.

Then the disc on the plow broke. Then it rained some more. We've not been able to do anything else yet. Our local farmers co-0p has gotten in seed potatoes and onion sets that we will swing by and purchase in the next few days. Last year I waited too long and they were sold out.

Next we wait for sunshine. It's a farmer's life, in miniature. O.K. maybe just in miniscule.

If you visited yesterday to link with a gardening post- my apologies. My computer has evidently gone on vacation in mind only. Hopefully my problem will be solved today.


When It's Not Been Great...

This was one of those busy, crazy weeks.  I think I drove to the moon and back.  Lot's of doctor's visits- but all with good news.  Lots of last-minute business errands for my husband.  Lots of teen-age activities.  It was all a bit too much.

I'd like to commune with my rocking chair and read stories to my Littles for a few days straight.  

We did accomplish things though.  My oldest turned in his film festival entry on Monday.  Then he picked up his physics and did some catch-up.  He also started working on another script and got some college acceptances in the mail.  Wahoo.  Now he has choices to make.  On his own. -Talk about surreal.

15 yo was asked to play the tuba on March 23rd at the state capital.  She had taken a break from the group but now she's back.  She's got to get her chops in gear and learn the music... quickly! No pressure. Sure.

13 yo continued with her regular list of school-work.  She also learned to cook lasagna.  A skill we all hope she practices regularly.

10 yo and 8 yo slid through the week helping me run and doing the bare minimum of school work.  On the positive side, 8 yo just finished his history text and is now listening to 17 yo read The Hobbit to him.   

3 yo is the little guy who had all the doctors appointments.  It's pretty tiring for him- but we've had some great conversations about God and prayer during the slow moments.  One of his favorite activities this week was early morning flashlight exploration.

2 yo has just been generally sweet/into everything.  Every time I returned home from one of my 3,142 errands he would run up to me, hug my leg, and exclaim, "You came back!" His favorite activity was sticking things on his fingertips.  I'll happily claim it as a math activity.

My favorite activity was watching the newest Emma from the BBC with my girls.  We loved it!  

So, though my week has not been great- or organized, it's nice to know that it's still been fine.  


Why Do I Do What I Do?

I was excited when I realized that the "Why" of home school was the topic for this week's blog hop. Some weeks, when it seems I'm trying to achieve an epic fail, it's important to remember why I do the things I do.

However, I can more easily spout off the reasons for which I did Not choose to home school. I did not choose home schooling for any of the below reasons:
  • My children are geniuses.  
  • Public school children are horrible.
  • We live in a cave surrounded by guns and are waiting for society to collapse.
  • I am a genius.
  • We have so much money that I thought home schooling would give me more shopping opportunities.
  • Other people's children have cooties.
  • My children have cooties.
  • I have tons of patience.
  • I am incredibly disciplined.
  • We don't have enough money for private school tuition.
The reasons we initially choose to home school are so complicated and varied that it would take book to explain; but none of the above reasons were in the original decision making mix.

However, the reasons we keep home schooling are:
  • It works for us.  My kids are learning and growing- academically and emotionally and socially.
  • It strengthens relationships within our family.
  • It allows me the opportunity to teach to each child's learning style.
  • It allows the children greater flexibility to work and travel with their Dad without being tied to a calendar.
  • It has allowed my older children more time to focus on their particular strengths and interests.
  • It gives me the freedom and the time to instruct our children in Biblical studies.
  • My chronically ill child can continue learning without the many absences and additional illnesses attending school would invariably entail.
Most of all, home schooling gives me time with my children. Time for them to experience life in a thoughtful way.  Time for me to know them and answer their questions.  Time for them to annoy the snot out of me.  Time for us to all practice Love.

MckLinky Blog Hop


Community Gardening

I used to garden every year- until we moved to our little suburban postage-stamp of a yard about 6 years ago.  I sooooo miss fresh tomatoes picked early in the morning and eaten for breakfast.

My friend, Hope, offered us and a few other families garden space on her 17 acres.  This is the view of the soon-to-be-worked spot for my family.  

Hope always wears the prettiest smile; she only adds the funky blue boots when she's working outside.  The dog is a bonus feature. 

This is Hope's section- already disked but not yet plowed.  See how fun it is to run across?

One of the benefits of gardening with Hope is that her teens and my teens are already friends. My Littles think nothing is cooler than getting a ride (a very, very slow one) with a pretty girl on a 4-wheeler.

This gardening venture is going to be incorporated into our home school.  We plan to research and work and grow with learning and eating in mind.  One of the things I'm going to have my children do is keep a careful accounting of how much we spend in money and in time on this project.  

We have a lot of work ahead of us!  Join me each Monday as I post our progress.  If your family is doing a vegetable garden together let me know.


Who Pushed Fast Forward?

I can't believe we are already into March.  It makes my heart race a bit to realize how fast the year is going because my oldest graduates in May!  Stunning.  

Speaking of my oldest.  He's working fast and furious on his film festival entry.  He won't let me post anything from his project until the night of the festival- March 27th.  I hope I at least get to see the final version before he hands it in.  

Remarkably and fabulously there was no gnashing of teeth this past Monday.  Somehow my 13 and 15 yo studied and finished all their work and made A's on all their tests.  They really have figured out how to pace themselves and work independently. Maturity is an oh-so-wondrous-a-thing.
My 8 yo has reached a frustrating plateau with his reading.  As a break from his regular reading work I've been writing silly paragraphs for him that emphasizes sounds that he seems to always forget.  

My 13 yo evidently thought my stories were not clever enough so she started writing short stories for him too. Her stories all star my 8 yo son and all end in rather grisly ways.  Today's story involved him falling out of a hot-air balloon and being eaten by sharks.  My 8 yo laughed his head off.  I'm not sure whether this is sibling bonding or future therapy bills...

My 10 yo is enjoying a new book on geography.  Well not new, but newly found.  One of the benefits of home schooling for a while is that you forget about titles that you already have on your shelves.  She's also enjoying the fact that I've finally figured out how to check out audiobooks from our library via the computer.  Watching her listen while she knits makes my heart happy.

My two littlest boys enjoyed making sugar cookies several times this week.  They've wanted to for months but I've held off until I found a recipe that matched their dietary restrictions. 

Christmas cookies in March.  Smells good to me.


Introducing Shakespeare

I do a literature based approach with my home school. Shakespeare was on the top of the list of literature I wanted to expose my children to.

Normally I don't choose abridged books; but early on I bought Edith Nesbit's, Stories From Shakespeare, and Lamb's, Tales From Shakespeare. Both books are well written, though sometimes Lamb's version reads a bit cumbersome.

About a year ago I discovered a series of picture books by Bruce Coville that retell some of Shakespeare's plays. They are absolutely wonderful. -They are beautiful picture books but they are not aimed at young children. My tween daughter adores them.

I have found that by using one or the other of these three authors before we see one of Shakespeare's plays enables my younger children to enjoy the play more. My older children have moved onto Shakespeare's original works with no difficulty.

In fact the oldest two have been reading Hamlet this past 6 weeks. They have been enjoying how funny Shakespeare is- even in his tragedies.

This was not a paid endorsement, I'm just opinionated.