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I can’t remember where I last left off, except that we were expecting, and now have received our blessing, baby number 4.

It’s funny, during the end of my pregnancy, I received SO many encouraging comments and anecdotes from strangers, in places from Target to Trader Joe’s– and not when my children were on their best behavior.

Then, ironically to me, as we were shopping in Target for some post-baby clothes for mama, we were approached by another family, and the mom assumed we were a homeschooling family. Not sure if it was the four kids, my maxi skirt, or the fact that we were shopping in the middle of the day. Anyway, it made me smile, not only because of the knowing acceptance of homeschooling from another homeschool family, but also because of how quickly the “movement” is growing, and also the fact that on any given day, in a chain retail store, you can encounter a homeschool family.

So that’s that.

Next, I am delighted that our new curriculum arrived: Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Spellwell, and Writing With Ease. I didn’t realize that WWE was by Susan Wise Bauer (essentially the founder of the Classical education movement in homeschool), so I was further delighted to see that. Although we are only a few days in, what I have skimmed through looks great! Also, we are finally into the Singapore 1A book on a daily basis, so I am happy about that. I may have mentioned that because of the counterintuitiveness with which material is presented, we needed to focus on fundamental math facts before the Singapore method made sense to my daughter.

We also snagged an awesome chemistry kit, with some 28-36 chemistry labs for little kids. So far, we have blown up a balloon with vinegar and baking soda, and the kids are asking every day to “do science.” Because of their younger ages, this is much easier for me to do right now than all of the writing required with the REAL Science curriculum. I’d rather have something ready to go that we can complete on a whim, rather than not do science at all, and have our curriculum collect dust. Lakeshore Learning also has an electricity, light, and magnet set, which we will most likely pick up one at a time as necessary. (Except for magnet, I’m too paranoid to have those in the house right now.)

We also picked up a Picasso master’s art kit, which I thought was filled with different projects. As it turns out, in addition to a small book with information about the artist and his style (of which we already have a strikingly similar biographical book), there were 6 or so pieces of thick scrapbook paper to make a collage. Although my 6 year old enjoyed it, I don’t quite think it merited the $10 price.

The other big thing going on, is that I am focused on securing service opportunities for my kids. Aside from my own bleeding heart aspirations, my kids truly need to serve others and learn compassion. Last month we were able to revisit the senior home we went to last year, to once again hand out valentines to the residents. Eventhough I was some 38 weeks pregnant, it went much better than I anticipated. The seniors were delighted to see the children, and it was wonderful to be able to bring some joy into their day. The home coordinator was so happy, she wanted to arrange another visit right away. So, our wonderful group leaders arranged a Spring related visit in April. Eventhough I am certain it will be very challenging to wrangle my 4, I knew we had to sign up. I am very much looking forward to it, and I think my kids will have fun too. Also, one of the added bonuses of having a group that we regularly attend, is that my kids, my oldest in particular, has friends that she loves seeing, and ends up palling around with for at least part of the time, so it changes our dynamic somewhat.

Additionally, as part of our homeschool day, my oldest has to read aloud a certain number of books to me every night. She has to read aloud so that I can ensure she is reading the entire book, and also to help her with words she doesn’t know. We’ve tried the reading to herself, and she basically skims and quickly turns the pages.

So during one of these reading sessions, or perhaps when she was reading to one of her siblings, it dawned on me that perhaps I could join her budding enthusiasm for reading with service somehow. This gave me the idea to organize a read to seniors program with our local library. Ideally, there would be a pairing of a homeschool child (since this would take place during school hours), and a senior, and the child would read one or two books (depending on the book, reading level, etc.), to the same senior every month, with the hopes that they would form a lasting friendship. I am excited to be in the talks with one of our local librarians, and he thinks that the program could be a great contribution. There are certainly more than enough homeschoolers in this area to make it work!

Lastly, this isn’t exactly related, but it’s something that I wanted to convey, just because I am a homeschool mom does not mean that I have some sort of super human patience or unlimited energy. In fact, I have been criticized for appearing to be the opposite by a former acquaintance.

To the contrary, one of my closest homeschool mom friends recently told me that she describes me to other people as “someone who thrives on chaos,” and I think that is an accurate and favorable description. I say this as we are having a typical difficult Monday, where kids are still recovering from the weekend, fighting on essentially everything I ask them related to school, etc.

The reason I wanted to relay this message, is because I know that when I was researching whether homeschool was right for us, I had this notion that there was only one way of doing it, and only one type of homeschool mom, but it isn’t true. There are literally so many options and so many ways of doing it, that if you feel a calling, which I certainly do, you can make it work. Some days it is SO hard, but being committed to what is right for you family can bring you through to those magical days, and give you the steam to keep going.

Until next time!