Tag: homeschool

We’re Too Flexy :)

Two weeks of homeschool  are under our belts.

We are LOVING it.

Is it early days? Sure, not to mention my parents were in town last week, so things were a bit more stay-cation-y than they would have been. We took that as a “deschooling week,” and while there was a worksheet here and there, we also kicked off by enjoying a place we’ve wanted to visit for awhile, Brookgreen Gardens.

We only enjoyed a portion of this beautiful and historical place that’s pretty much in our backyard… a storybook playground, a small kids’ discovery center, and a zoo of local animals. We plan to go back to enjoy the Sculpture Garden soon.


The things I wanted most to change for us by making this decision are changing. More focused attention. Better sleeping (9am is soooo much better than 6am…). Better eating (I’m getting into cooking lunch…). Time to explore. Time together.
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There have been a few surprises. The biggest one was on the first “official” day, when Kaity came downstairs in a dress. Kaity does not wear dresses. Later in the week, when my parents took her shopping, she picked out a new dress and a nightgown. Only thing I can figure is she feels very safe. She doesn’t like to be fussed over for looking pretty (Cool or amazing, yes. Pretty, no). She knows we won’t.

I love the conversations I get to hear them having with each other and with others. I love that they had no electronic devices to play with for the past 4 days and stopped asking after the first day. I love that P.E. has been riding bikes, together with me pulling their baby brother in the bike trailer, and part of their writing has been letters to cousins and friends. (Don’t forget to mail them, Kelly).IMG_4906 IMG_4908

One day this week, Rod asked us to go to lunch together. We headed to our favorite local sports bar, where our manager friend told us his wife had homeschooled their children. Then, over nachos and wings, after we schooled Rod about the origins of Halloween we had learned that morning, we semi-spied on a Red Hat Society lunch taking place in the dining room. Miranda just happened to be wearing a purple dress, so I told her about “When I am old, I shall wear purple…” and asked the girls if we should go crash the Bingo and merriment. The prizes looked really cute.

Before we left, I walked over to their table and told them how much we enjoyed seeing their fun. One of the ladies chased us out the door with an (empty ;) ) purple gift bag for Miranda. Later that day, we read the poem together (our first reading unit so happens to be poetry!)

That’s it, you guys. That’s the kind of natural, “the world is our classroom” experience that is my goal for our learning together.


And this is an almost-nine-year old girl pretending she’s not giddy about that purple gift bag.

Other things we are loving so far:

  • doing reading and spelling on the couch
  • seeing their friends after school just like always… this is a cool holdover from having attended public school for a few years that makes me very happy for them
  • the girls doing their own laundry (Wednesday is laundry day!)
  • the girls are both 3rd graders now! (it was always my goal to get them in the same grade level)
  • As of this morning, I’m all organized :)
  • Most of our curriculum is free
  • We have several field trips with other local homeschoolers scheduled.
  • We are eventually going to embrace the idea of lapbooks. They look so fun; we just have to overcome our “arts & crappy-ness.” We are so not a craft family…

We are flexible people. It’s where we thrive. So when we haven’t done social studies yet and friends want to play, we play. When I have a work project that needs 45 more minutes, they read or color a little extra while I finish. When there wasn’t time before church for reading, they read me poems in the living room afterwards. It is working for us, and I’m glad we took the leap!

my most recent failures

It’s funny how trained I’ve become as a woman to think that the “I’m failing” stories make me more likeable. – Kelle Hampton

So one month ago, I stopped eating gluten. And for the most part, I have really stopped eating gluten. I also began working my nutrition system again (breakfast drink/tea at night).

And last week, I started tracking my calories again.

On Thursday, I weighed myself and had lost 2 pounds form the beginning of the week.

And this morning, I weighed myself and there they were, again.

Also this morning, I called the pre-school down the street from my church/job and enrolled KK. Just like that. I had already toured it in the fall, when I was weighing options, had met the director, knew the price was right. When I discovered today that they also have an attractive “drop-in” program for the summer, I was hooked. I printed out the forms, filled them out, broke the news to KK (who, though inseparable from me since December 20, basically shrugged), and rode on over to introduce her to the teacher.

Amazingly, I do not feel guilty.


my cool girlsI was just encouraging a friend last week by reminding her: most decisions we make are not forever. We are usually not in circumstances that last forever. I go back and forth and back and forth again with schooling decisions, for example. Our seasons seem to change constantly. I know there was a deep desire in my heart to homeschool, but I also know that was borne when we were traveling constantly and I was surrounded by close friends homeschooling with me. Life has changed. Randa is flourishing in school, and after this 3.5 month experiment, it seems KK needs it to a degree. So for this season, here we go.

For this season, when my ‘spare time’ is a battle of chores vs. errands vs. time with husband vs. time with friends vs. writing vs. reading vs. doing nothing for 20 minutes, it’s hard to find time to work out. And without that, I am not going to significantly lose weight.

…but maybe when I drop KK off at pre-school a few days a week, I can walk/run on the beach for 30 minutes before work. I will be in better shape, and so will my time with KK.


There are some things I am really good at. Keeping in shape? Not one. Teaching my kids to read while updating websites and having work conversations? Not that one either. But that doesn’t make me a failure, nor will I feel guilty about it. But I can bake bread, make event flyers, give awesome hugs, find great restaurants, write glowing somethings-or-other, and love my family quite awesomely. Let’s celebrate our gifts and quit musing on our failures!


mommy gets schooled by her MFFs

We’ve gotten over the shock of a new school year. Lunch gets made before the last minute. No one has been late to school.

Part of the reason I got through those first 2 weeks is because our whole family was so crazy-busy that we didn’t have a chance to get overly emotional.

Part of it is because Miranda rocks, and she loves school, and bounces up that sidewalk to the door like she Owns It.

And part of it is because of my amazing board of BFFS…or rather, my MFFs: Mama-Friends-Forever. They sent so many nuggets of love and wisdom I wanted to share:

“So they teach her to read. You teach her about purity, perseverance, a real faith in a real Savior, how to bake homemade hamburger buns…Fear not, friend. But feel free to weep. You are both ridiculously loved.”

“I don’t know how to explain the push to go after what is in your heart in the midst of being a mother of young(er) children. It is a battle of the soul in the most truest form. How can both burn so fiercely inside me? My wish is for one fire to dwindle so the other can be brighter, but God has not wired me as such. I must balance it all in obedience to His desire for my life. I don’t know why it has to be this way. I don’t know why I don’t have peace putting my children in school…and I don’t know why I have to split homeschooling with the work of ministry. All I know is that it is my portion of life. It’s the life He has for me. I don’t know the end from the beginning, but it is my responsibility to walk it out.”

“The proudest moment you will ever have with them is when they look up at you and ask you to pray with them at the altar.”

“And He’s got this. Until He’s ready for it to be different….but it sucks big time because it’s not what you want…but she’s standing by a palm tree smiling, so life is ok:) “

There was a longer message that inspired this entire blog post, because mostly I was hiding how traumatic this whole thing felt to me, because it seems silly, but it is, as you read above, just not quite what I wanted to be, so I have to get used to it. I am already getting used to God’s plans surprising me, to having to bend my will or pray my desires into matching His. I am getting adept at looking at circumstances as “seasons,” and the truth of this season is that things are calming down at work, and some time for this mama to be organized, focused, and sane might be a good thing. Also: Miranda Loves School, and KK is thriving too.

Another MFF, a fellow self-employed/day-dreaming/big-vision-planning/hybrid school sent mt this and gave me permission to share it : (click to continue) (more…)

sow something good

Randa’s class learned about gardens about a month ago, and ever since, she has been asking me if we can PLANT STUFF.

My idea of planting has to do with planting myself on the couch with my iPad and a cookie after a long day. I can ‘make-do’ with most things I try, but I can honestly say I suck at gardening.

My father, however, is a true green thumb, so I thought, Maybe it skips a generation. I also thought, this is what homeschooling is all about. I will learn with her.
I picked up a few pots, a bag of dirt, and 3 packets of organic seeds. Randa’s only request (as far as edible things – pink flowers were a given and will come already blooming) was carrots. I have heard many success stories about herb gardens, so I also chose cilantro. And, my uncle told me that lettuce is a great thing to plant with a quick payoff. Whalah. A garden was planned.

Due to our recent move to Crazytown (metaphorically, as the actual move is still 41-ish days away), Randa has had to patiently wait for this task to commence. It ended up taking us about 20 minutes, completed while our dinner (white chicken chili) was simmering on the stove).

We planned on Sunday to do it Monday after school. Then Monday at lunch, I was informed by two members of the Good Christian Men Rejoice Club* that planting season is over. Here. In South Carolina.

WHAT? I mean, in Chicago, May is normally what we call The Great Thaw. How can planting season be OVER?

I looked at those seed packets, and behold, both the lettuce and carrots suggest Feb-Mar and Sept-Oct for planting. You know, I just didn’t ever need to know that up in Da Heights. Nonetheless…in true Burton style, we planted them anyway, with a lick and a prayer and a hope for a harvest that defies logic.

And yes, we used a beach shovel for our planter-digger-thing (isn’t that what they’re called?)

When we were done, KK went to play in her clubhouse (aka: the minivan), and while the chili was thickening, Miranda and I worked on labels for the pots. This put our phonics and writing practice to use. HOMESCHOOL!

Today for my other job, I met a man who has been in the movie and concessions business for years. He was an unending source of knowledge about popcorn machines and ice makers and fun stories about concessions set-ups and crises and movie weekends. While he was talking, I looked at my friend and co-worker Terrie and said, This is why I’m going to homeschool. That man’s stories were a whole day of lessons…maybe a whole unit. And I was fascinated to learn from him.

Terrie asked me how I am going to do it. I don’t blame her. Like I said, it is CRAZYtown right now trying to get a start-up running with just a few of us on the job. And my answer remains: I don’t know, but I know I will. I believe it is what God is telling me to do right now, so how can I refuse, and how can I not trust He will show me the way?

Whether it gives us a half hour of planting things that may or may not grow or a half hour of learning about popcorn practices, the world really is a schoolhouse. I sure feel blessed to be learning, still, on a daily basis. I am excited to do so alongside my kids, planting not just stuff, but sowing good seeds…you know, the metaphorical kind.

*Since I began working every day with a bunch of good ol’ Christian boys, I had to give them a nickname. And since I think of them as Good Christian Men, the song “Good Christian Men Rejoice” always pops into my head. There you have it…

the heart won’t lie

Before the rain came last Monday (yes. The metaphorical rain I prayed for was delivered!), I made a decision. It was always in my soul to do, but a series of “God winks,” confirmations, and my own heart opening my head up to possibilities, it has been reaffirmed over and over to me over the past weeks.

When we moved to Myrtle Beach, it was a given that I would have a position in our new business venture. It was a new career step for me, and while it was exhilarating, challenging, and at the same time ego-crushing and ego-boosting. And as I recorded here, transitioning from being a work-at-home mom was so hard.

Well, the position seems to have only lasted for awhile (understatement and oversimplification, but whateves). And during that ‘while,’ my little girls had a very adventurous and unforgettable summer with their amazing big sister

and then began attending a truly wonderful school where they have been loved on and where they have grown and learned and made friends. My ‘mommy-guilt’ was replaced by a dependency on their school, as it became one of the few constants in their lives – and mine! – over the past six months.
(the Christmas program)
(The trike-a-thon)

But when it became time to really start thinking about schools for the fall, when Miranda will need to start kindergarten, I found myself dealing with a different frame of mind: avoidance. We had a few options, and none of them were jumping up and screaming, “We are right for you!” There is the public school, and the bus that comes to pick up our sweet neighbor boy at 6:45 in the morning. There are several Christian schools, none in great locations from our current house ‘in the boonies,’ and all with rules about skirts (4 year olds having to wear them and middle-schoolers not being allowed to wear them seems a bit against the laws of nature to me), and the one most appealing to me cost twice as much as the others.

The factors that seemed to surround our decision included our geographic location (we are basically in an unincorporated area that is close or on the way to nothing), our unknown job situations (just a week ago, we were unsure where Rod would be working and whether or not I would need to work and if so where that would be and then what sort of after-care we might need for the girls and of course, whether we could afford private school), and who I have as a support system. Almost every mom I know here works full time outside the home and/or has kids older than mine. All my close friends who are homeschoolers-of-little-ones are back in Illinois. And there is also the question of my own confidence. It’s been a little rocked by decisions gone sour.

Three or so weeks later, I can’t recall the exact moment that it hit me again, like truth. I only remember the series of moments that confirmed it. The sight of Miranda sounding out words with Kirsten on the couch. The friendly librarian who interrupted our reading time to admire it. The preacher whose prophetic words to me were not about my career path or our ‘big thing,’ whatever that might be, but about my own intelligence and ability to train my kids.

You know what my reaction to all this was? Duh.

I am going to homeschool my girls next year.

It’s not all that dramatic. It’s kindergarten, for crying out loud, and I am sticking by my policy that we will take all school decisions one year at a time. But since making this commitment for the fall, I have felt such peace. And, since I made the decision, new projects have been put in front of me to battle for my time commitment. It’s all good. My decision to homeschool is in part so peaceful and comforting because it is a commitment that does not depend on any circumstance:

money? Don’t need it. I already own the curriculum, and even if I didn’t, I’ve learned a lot about homeschooling for free.

– location? Home. The beach. The library. The state park. Trips to Chicago and Florida and Charleston and North Carolina and Lexington and other places when we can. Since we’re learning about the world, why shouldn’t we see it? Nothing I taught Miranda during our home-preschool time came so alive as the first day I was able to show her the horizon line over the ocean. Suddenly, the idea of the heavens and earth being separated was illustrated before her eyes. Homeschool=everywhere school.

– dress code? We are all finding our own style around here. It’s part of learning and part of growing into who we are, for the girls and for me.

work? Thankfully, God has provided a job for Rod that is going to meet our needs and settle our concerns. While I have some opportunities before me, they will have to fit in around the anchor of homeschooing my children. They are my job, they are my calling, they are my ministry, first, for this season of our lives.

support? Well, my HS friends in Chicago are as much an intimate part of our lives as ever, as we can be with 1000 miles between us. I have a strong group of friends here now as well, including past homeschoolers. There is a well-rooted co-op in town that I am reaching out to. And who’s to say which of our family members will be living here by fall…?

time? This is the one that makes me the most nervous, because the projects on the horizon for me will require me to work and meet deadlines. This is the one that I must work through with my husband and ‘support team’ and godly wisdom. And this is also what will show our family’s unconventional tendencies… Because whatever work I do, my kids are going to be a part of it.

There are so many other positive aspects in my head… the freedom of our schedule… the freedom in our finances… the ability to discover so much about nature, culture, industry, history, and faith with my kids… the time to allow them to follow some of their individual interests, like dance and instruments and swimming.

I am so excited about where we are heading.

Six years ago, my life was forever changed by the promise of motherhood. Today, two lively, creative, and smart little girls need to raised up, and I remember more than ever what a blessing and privilege it is to be allowed to be their mama. They are my heart, and I’m grateful I’ve been reminded to follow it. When it comes to my babies,
it hasn’t led me astray yet.