Category Archives: Meme

Gratefulness – Where Does Yours Lie?

treeOver at Heart of the Matter, their weekly Friday meme is What Are You Thankful For? Being  a Canadian resident, our Thanksgiving has come and gone, but never the less, thankfulness is not something reserved only for national holidays. Last year, I had written a post entitled What Are You Thankful For?, and shortly thereafter, I had written a post entitled Thankful For the Simple Things, as I was once again stirred into a state of gratitude during our unit study of a Pioneer Christmas. It is these simple things that we often take for granted; albeit unintentionally.

This year is my sixth year of homeschooling, and I have to say that deciding to take on this lifestyle has been one of the most difficult and draining, yet incredibly fulfilling and enriching experiences of my life. I would have to say that the the freedom to homeschool in this country and province is at the top of my list of things to be thankful for. Homeschooling is a lifestyle that requires inexhaustable amounts of patience, an endless resource of time, expendable amounts of creativity, and a tireless ability to remain flexible as the children develop not only in the area of academics but also in the area of humanities. We are a family. We learn to read, write, and do arithmetic, but we also learn to love, accept and forgive.

The other predominant subject of my gratefulness has been the incredibly enriching, honest, and close friendships I have developed with a few very special women in my life. These friendships have come at a time when I am being stretched in my personal and spiritual life. These honest, beautiful women have displayed human emotion, empathy, and endurance. They have mirrored patience and perserverance. They have shared their love and laughter. For these things I am very grateful indeed.

So, what are YOU grateful for?




Filed under Encouragement, Life, Meme

Where do you homeschool?

Over at Heart of the Matter, their weekly Friday meme is “Where Do You Homeschool?” Yes, today is Saturday, but hey what can I say? We homeschool – gotta be flexible, right?
Homeschool Drawers 1

Kitchen Drawers

Homeschool Drawers

Kitchen Book Nook

I actually participated in a similar meme once before, showing primarily our newly renovated kitchen – which resulted in a much more efficient use of our space. Presently, we live in what is considered by today’s standards, a “small space”. One thousand square feet to be exact – three bedrooms and one bathroom for a family of four. The childhood home I grew up in was a much bigger space, so my present home environment does at times feel very much on the small side. However; homeschooling is a lifestyle that often forces us to make sacrifices – leaving us to rent out the remaining one thousand square feet (that exists as our walk out basement) as a two bedroom suite.

Kitchen Table

Which brings me back to the topic of this post “Where do you homeschool?” – the answer to this would be anywhere we have good lighting and a place to sit our bottoms. Primarily, yes – it is at the kitchen table which is large, pretty, and virtually indestructible. Usually the words pretty and indestructible don’t exist in the same sentence, but being an interior designer turned homeschooler, who happens to be married to a very capable tilesetter/carpenter has it’s advantages. The table is booth style – the seat backs are covered in designer fabric – the seats, in a washable black vinyl. The table top is travertine tile, the edges aluminum, and the flooring is cork. These surfaces make up for the pretty – but they are also tough, durable and naturally stain resistant. And let me tell you – they need to be tough, ‘cuz this home environment puts on a lot of ‘living’ mileage every single day!

Comfy Couch: before the books went in the bookshelves.


We also make good use of our comfy couch which is the coveted favorite reading spot of many who live here. Even though we haven’t had cable television in 14 years, the big screen tv (not shown) is a wonderful venue to take in a biography, documentary, or family movie together. National Geographic really comes alive on this thing! If you look closely you will find other favorite reading spots around here. The girls each have their own bedroom, and with a little help from Ikea and some elbow grease, their rooms have turned into their own special places to play, read and learn.

loft bed
loft bed

My oldest daughter has a loft style bed with a desk underneath, providing her with a place to write, draw and create. Later on, this will be a prime spot for a laptop computer – even though she is only eleven, she has taken a preference to using the computer to write her stories, learning keyboarding skills and word precessing at the same time.

loft bed desk area

loft bed desk area

loft bed reading area

loft bed reading area







We have tried to create a reading environment around each child’s bed as well, complete with task lighting, and shelves nearby for books – encouraging reading before bed. My youngest daughter has a neat little reading retreat on her bottom bunk. This is her favorite place to read. Her books are stored in her Trofast storage system from Ikea – along with everything else this child is into. This system was an answer to my spacesaving prayers!

Trofast Ikea Shelves
Trofast Ikea Shelves
bunk reading centre
Bunk Reading Centre
Cozy place to hang out
Cozy place to hang out
l'il bookshelf
Bedside Shelf







My latest and happiest purchase (also from Ikea) has been the new bookshelves. In the past we’ve lived with make shift bookshelves that never matched and always seemed to be eternally messy. These new book shelves are seven feet tall and take up the only available wall space in our living room. Books are everywhere in this house, and you can find them in every single room – kitchen, living room, all three bedrooms, and yes, even the bathroom!

My Ikea Billy Bookshelves

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our “homeschool environment” – so tell me, where do YOU homeschool?



Filed under Learning, Life, Meme

What I wish I’d known my first year of homeschooling.

memeThe Friday meme over at Heart of the Matter is along the theme of – What I wish I’d known. I always make a point of not reading others posts on the meme before I write my own. I hope for originality- it’s more like  surprise. Like the grey hair I pulled out of my head yesterday. Or the lottery ticket I won. Okay, I made that one up – so don’t be calling pretending your my new best friend. So, without further ado, here’s my post.

Thing’s I wish I’d known:

1. Trust your instincts:  they’re right 95% of the time. Really. Honest.

2. Take cues from your kids!  Tears are bad – if there are tears then back off, go for a walk, try again later, but use a different approach.

3. If your kids aren’t getting it, this is a sign to change your approach. It’s up to the teacher/parent to find the right approach that helps the child make the connection. If you fail to do this, there may be tears. See #2.

4. Look for ways to incorporate natural learning situations whenever possible. This is the stuff that makes kids excited about learning. Nature walks, field trips, learning games, workshops, experiments. It generally isn’t the latest workbook – generally.

5. Make an effort to discover your child’s learning style. Most of us are made up of a little bit of each – but almost always, there is an inborn preference to favor one particular learning style.

6. Purchase curriculum that is geared towards your child’s learning style. This makes learning (and teaching) well, easier. See #5.

7. Don’t be a lone tree. Get plugged in to your homeschool community. Meet people and encourage one another. Whether you attend a virtual or community based  homeschool support group – make use of it.

8. Don’t get stuck on any one homeschool method – different methods work for different kids and different families. Most of us are somewhat eclectic in our homeschool approach. Be prepared for change. Homeschooling is like an old sweater. It may be your favorite and you may not throw it out, but then one day you decide your ready for something new and fresh.

9. Read, read read read. Read out loud, read for your own pleasure and encourage your kids to read as much as possible. Keep television, video games and comic books to a minimum – or do without. Reading forms the basis of writing, spelling, grammar. It can be used to teach beginning essay and report writing skills through narration. Penmanship and grammar skills can be improved upon through dictation.

10. Read good books to your children. Start building a library of good literature. Once your child is reading, move away from simple readers. Advance them slowly, progressing to well written literature. Well written books cause us to think deeply, question our moral values, and stir emotions inside of us. These are the books that get read over and over and over again – you’ll know when you see it.


Filed under Classical, Community, Encouragement, Life, Meme, Reading

Field Trip Tuesday

Swan lake/Christmas HillHeart of the Matter Online Magazine features a weekly meme called Field Trip Tuesday. Swan Lake Floating BridgeThis meme gives homeschoolers a global view of a variety of ideas for homeschool field trips. Since we’ve had a variety of field trips over our five years of homeschooling, I’ve been sharing some ideas from last year’s archives. This weeks field trip features a nature walk (one of many) at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, complete with nature note books. You can read about it here.

Why not head on over to Heart of the Matter and share some of your won field trip ideas?

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Filed under Charlotte Mason, Field Trips, Learning, Meme, Nature, Places To Visit

Friday Meme: Where Do You Homeschool?

School TableWe do most of our homeschooling at our kitchen table – which was until rather recently, a little on the small side. A couple of years ago we decided it would be better financially to renovate rather than move. Our small, cramped galley style kitchen had become much to small and there was not efficient room to store all our school things and still have our home resemble – well, a home.

Homeschool CupboardSo, renovate we did. It took a lot of planning and a full year to complete the renovation – which we lived, worked and schooled through. The result was a much more functional kitchen/family space that we could cook in, do office work in, do school work in and yes, even do laundry in. Upper Cupboard019.jpgA variety of well placed cupboards and drawers and a much larger kitchen table enabled us to live and school much more efficiently. The end result? There is a place for everything and everything is in its place (well, most of the time)  😉

While most of the school work is done in the kitchen, we have also been known to use the living room, bedrooms and even outside on the deck when the weather is warm (but not too windy). On occasion we ave even made use of the library. So, there you have it. Now, where do you homeschool?

HOTMJoin the Meme over at Heart of the Matter!Homeschool Drawers 1Homeschool Drawers


Filed under Learning, Life, Meme

Are You Filling a Pail, Or Lighting A Fire?

This weeks meme from Heart Of The Matter is to write our thoughts about the quote, “

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
– William Butler Yeats

What a great quote. Could be a potentially controversial one too, don’t you think?  I’ve read similar ones over the years from people like Dorothy Sayers, Charlotte Mason, John Holt etc. I used to think it was about filling the pail – about filling the mind with facts. After all, that’s what we were taught in school. Study for the test, memorize the facts, put the facts to paper, then promptly forget. Popular TV game shows like Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? are a sure tell all about just how much of those facts have stuck.

educateWhat I have discovered over the years is that in order for facts to stick, there needs to be a certain level of interest present first. Have you ever self taught yourself anything? If you have, it’s probably safe to say that you had a desire to learn the skill in question. But then again, sometimes we are required to learn things that we don’t particularly desire. For some it may be grammar, for others it may be algebra. I’m referring to the topic in school that made you ask yourself the inevitable question: Why do I have to learn this?

You see learning can’t just be about the filling of pails with information. It helps to have a purpose filled education. It’s a tremendous accomplishment if you can help your child learn how to learn. If you can show your child how to reason, how to use logic and how to use rhetoric to support an argument.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 1:18

CreationI believe that a lot of natural learning (birthed from desire and natural interest) can occur in a home learning environment. But I also learned that exploring these subjects of education without including the One who created it all can be kind of like not getting enough oxygen to your brain.  Whether we realize it or not, whatever belief you adopt; either Creation or Evolution  – your choice will deeply effect how you look at the world. Cosmos or chaos? Purpose or accident? Confidence or fear?

The more I explore the laws that govern our world and universe, the natural order of biology, the laws of physics, the science of numbers, the beauty of art and yes, even the rules of grammar (after all if we can learn to communicate effectively on one language, we can learn how to communicate just as effectively in another language) – the more I learn about relationship. Seeing God and His revelation as the source of meaning and knowledge is what ignites the fire within me. The filling of facts comes later, but for me it takes on the form of hunger. A hunger for learning and a deeper desire for relationship.

“See to it that no one takes you captive with hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Collossions 2:8


Filed under Encouragement, Learning, Life, Meme