Tag Archives: Homeschooling

somebody tell me what to do!

I have trouble making basic decisions. Big decisions are paralyzing.

I’m nearing the end of my first semester back to school. My one class was a pretty fun, fairly easy fiction writing workshop. It was an elective. I took it more for the chance to be around other adults than anything else.
And now here I am, facing a new semester with two classes, one for my minor and one for my major. More serious classes, requiring more serious brain engagement, and I don’t know whether to take them or quit college again.
I am majoring in Media Communications, but other majors have begun to appeal to me. So what should I do? Do I even want to major in MC? I don’t know.
Do I even want to go to school at all? Do I want a job afterwards or should I skip it all and stick to trying to write and get published?
I’m not used to making decisions like this.
My future was all planned out. After finishing homeschooling, I was going to go to college. Then in college, I got married and was going to quit school if I got pregnant (I ended up quitting earlier), and then I was going to be a stay at home mom, and have ‘as many children as God gives us’ (no decision necessary). Then I was going to homeschool those children, then in 30 or forty some years when all the kids were grown up and graduated, I would have time to write.
It was all decided
But we’ve decided not to have any more kids, at least for now, and we’re not planning to homeschool, and in fact are going to send the kids to part time preschool next semester, and with those decisions, my future is no longer all planned out.
I have options for the future, I might get the first real job of my life in the next few years, and I am terrified.
As stifling as a scripted life can be, it’s safe; it’s comfortable in a cramped sort of way. I didn’t have to take responsibility for many decisions.
I no longer have my mom scheduling my homeschool day, or my dad telling me what major he thinks would be helpful to my husband. I no longer have God insisting I be a submissive, stay at home wife and mom.
I decide where to go and when (mostly nowhere), and I decide what to major in, if anything.
And sometimes I miss the days when i didn’t have to make and own my decisions. It’s terrifying to hold your life in your own hands.
Does anyone want to boss me around?
But no. Because even if I hand the decision making to someone else, I still have to live my life and live with the choices I make (even if that choice is to follow other’s prescriptions for life).
There is no perfect decision maker, there is no formula for a perfect life. There’s just me, trying to do the best I can do, and owning my decisions.

My List: a plan of study, and what I am reading and learning right now

I love learning. Love it. I collect knowledge, I adore logic, I devour stories, and I enjoy good writing.
I want to know new languages, play an instrument, and in general be “accomplished” – although with no netting of purses or painting of screens.

I’m a fast reader, and learn well through books, so i excelled at homeschooling. I got a pretty good education, but I didn’t get much of art instruction/history/appreciation, or music either, after i began homeschool in the seventh grade. A mom can only do so much, I know, but I sure love The Arts. I might wouldn’t have ever gotten enough anyways. Literature, i got a lot of – i devoured classics both for school and in my spare time. Jane Austen, Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien – all fun reading.
I liked my science, but as I’ve grown up I’ve realized that it was very religious and that though it talked a little about secular theories like evolution and the big bang, the information my books presented on those subjects were more like straw men designed to demonstrate how untrue the theories were.
History, I got a decent bit, but of course there’s always more history to learn about.
Math? I did Saxon, I did college algebra, I DID MY TIME! and I am quite done with math for now. (spoken like a true Liberal Arts Student, eh?)

Aside from math, i’m nowhere near done learning. There are subjects i feel deficient in, and others I simply want to learn.
Here is my loose plan of study, with resources mentioned where i have something figured out. I tackle whatever i want, whenever i have the time and the inkling. I’m a SAHM, so I can read when kids are playing or watching tv, and at night when my husband lays them down to sleep.

If anyone has books or additional subjects to recommend, i welcome the suggestions.

Things I want to study and am studying (in no particular order):

Music: Play Guitar – I own a guitar, a chordbook, and have found songs to learn. I look things up on you-tube when i am stuck. I need to set aside time several times a week to practice, instead of once every several weeks. I took music appreciation in college; but I would like to read about and listen to more classical music. Also, we take the boys to concerts at the local university a few times a year.

Languages: French and German – working on this regularly on my duolingo app – a very good language app. For English speakers, it has Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, and Italian.

Science – not sure what resources to use –  I want to study evolution – there are obvious gaps in my education because of my christian curriculum. I want to find a mainstream biology course, and study evolution, and also to study the big bang. What is the name of that branch of science, anyone? Also i know a little about evolution because I watch Dinosaur Train with my 2 and 3 year olds (for that matter, I am also well informed on the various kinds of train locomotives…).

Philosophy. – not sure what resource to use. I never took philosophy in college. I know a bit, Luke took it and told me about things, and when reading I come across concepts and ideas, but i would like to go through a book or course and have all the basics in one place. Thinking of just buying something like ‘Philosophy Made Simple
I also am reading some of Nietzche’s writings, and plan to read other philosophers later. Preferably AFTER I study basic philosophy, so the concepts will be familiar already.

Drawing – I have a little book to start with, one of those step by step things. My drawing has always been pathetic. handwriting too, but that’s a lost cause. …being a child naturally gifted at school, anything that was very difficult I thought i just couldn’t do. So i figured i was simply incapable of drawing, though if it isn’t bragging, i’ve always had an eye for color. and once i was homeschooled, there was really no art education (my mom does more art now with my younger siblings, ah the perils of being an older child! but good for them!). I have bought a ‘how to draw’ book, and am giving it another shot. I would rather finger paint. i love fingerpainting. but i really want to be able to draw so i am trying and wincing at my feeble attempts…

Art history. I have Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting and am reading through it. Fascinating stuff! Also, I want to get a good biography of Vincent Van Gogh, as i loved the Doctor Who episode about him, and my son loves the style of painting. Also there are a few art documentaries in my Netflix Queue.

Writing: I continue to read good books and blogs, and I am blogging/writing, both here and privately. Furthermore, I am writing a novel, which i wrote a huge chunk of during NaNoWriMo 2013. I’m slacking, but I hope to get a finished draft by June. (yeah that’s gonna happen…) Also i will read On Writing Well, by Zinsser again, within the next few years. I read most of it during a Nonfiction Writing class and it is AMAZING.

Literature: I would like to read some literary criticism of Harry Potter, because I love Harry Potter, and because I struggled with literary criticism in college. I was used to reading literature for pleasure, but not used to analyzing it. I would like to learn how to do that. And obviously i’ll continue reading excellent books. Some of the books on my to-read list are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chosen, more Agatha Christie, and Les Miserables (in english, but perhaps someday in French! recommend a translation, anybody?). I will probably re-read The Iliad and The Odyssey (gotta be the Robert Fitzgerald translation!) soon simply because i love them so much and it’s been a couple years. There’s a huge list of things i want to read and re-read, to me ‘literature’ is mostly entertainment 😀

History: no particular resource. I simply read whatever book strikes my fancy. there’s no time or place i am burning to study right now. I would like to watch some of the documentaries I’ve spotted on netflix.

Geography: I am embarrassed to admit that i still don’t know where all the states in the US are, and i certainly don’t know all the countries of the world. I would like to get a world and state puzzle, to help me learn them.

Other: I am learning about Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism. Currently reading The Way I See It by Temple Grandin, and The Out-of-Sync Child, by Carol Stock Kranowitz.

some of the other books in my library basket: An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, and Stitches by David Small (a memoir told as a graphic novel, it is really well done! I recommend it but it gets pretty dark and depressing at times).

Recently read on my Kindle: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, and Why I am Not a Christian, by Richard Carrier

Netflix faves: Doctor Who, Merlin, Dance Academy, and Avatar (unfortunately i am all caught up on all of those! but i love to rewatch things.)

This is an ever-growing list, but it’s quite a list for now and I feel like I’m already making a good start at it. and hey, my husband will have suggestions of books to buy me for every special occasion for years to come.

So, anyone have a book I just HAVE to read, a suggestion for a resource to help my studies, or another subject I ought to tackle? What sorts on things are on your ‘list’ to study?


When I was a kid, there were certain things I hated hearing grown ups saying.

Now that I’m a parent, there are certain things I hate saying to my kids, because I know how frustrated they must feel. But I’m not sure what to say in place of those annoying old phrases, so I default to mother tongue.
I’ve been muddling through trying to think of more constructive ways to communicate things to my kids when i am frustrated with them, identifying the language that is demeaning, blaming, and unhelpful and replacing it with language that opens conversation and empathizes. However, when the framework in your head is full of blaming and combative language (many conservative writers teach a parents vs. kids style of ‘discipline’) it can be hard to know where to start.
But today i found this really great article i’m going to try to commit to memory, “Ten Things Not to Say to Your Kids”
The writer, Brenna, not only shares ten common, but generally unhelpful, phrases parents and other caregivers use, she also shares other ways of wording the important thoughts, and thinking through the problems.

“you make me so mad!” was a terrible thing to hear  – i remember hearing my mom say it frequently and i always felt like such a horrible daughter.

But i catch myself in the middle of saying it sometimes. I know Aiden has a hard enough time dealing with his emotions (heck, i have a hard time dealing with my own). Blaming him for my feelings just dumps more of a burden on him and doesn’t help him behave.  Brenna suggests instead “Train yourself to say, ‘I need a break right now because I am getting upset’ or “I am angry right now”. You can communicate your feelings to your children without placing the burden of cause on them.”

I’m learning a style of parenting that isn’t about ‘winning’ every battle in the name of love – like most christian parenting books and magazines I have read teach. There are other styles of parenting more about teaching children with love and respect (and a heckuva lot of patience), and helping them to learn what is right and how to respect others. My son Aiden is what some people might call ‘difficult’. Mike Pearl says children should be broken. It’s a common theme in many books – child training painted as a battle between mom and son, and you should break that willful child’s spirit. I do not want to break, crush, or defeat my child…  I try to help my rather sensitive child understand himself and his very strong emotions and cope with them in constructive ways. We are on the same team and we are working together to learn to understand him, and to help him understand the world. I do the same for my younger son, Kieron. And one day when they are men, i hope they can face the world with bravery, kindness, and whole hearts.
(for parents who may be coming from a Mike Pearl style parenting philosophy and are looking for an alternative, Tim Kimmel’s book, Grace Based Parenting, was my diving board into a more cooperative style of parenting, and of living life in general.)

When you try to raise an army

Be careful
if you plan to raise an army
from birth
whip them into shape and drill them
Issue uniforms
Issue thoughts
Until they run like a machine
Yes drill sergeant
No drill sergeant
You may raise soldiers
clever, skilled in battle,
brave in the face of fear
and full of fire in their hearts
But there’s a chance, if you want to raise an army
That you will not keep the soldiers
Because these clever, brave soldiers
will one day make their own decisions
And choose their battles
They must answer the call of the fire
Burning hot in their souls
So be careful when you raise an army
The soldiers may not stay