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We are super excited to announce the opening of the first slots for Work and Play, Day by Day homeschool consulting services!

While heavily inspired by Montessori in our own homeschool, our primary goal is not to support you in the implementation of our philosophy but in the expression of your own.  

This might look like helping you narrowing your curriculum search by listening to your family goals and values and suggesting options that might work well.

This might look like helping you figure out how to adapt what you've always done for the child who just isn't clicking.

This might look like encouraging you in homeschooling from your heart, through non-traditional approaches or with unusual family circumstances.

This might look like helping you tackle high school (or preschool!) for the first time.

With an extensive pre-consult interview packet, all of our education and expertise will be applied in the context of your unique family.  No two families are exactly the same, nor should your homeschool solutions be!

Particularly for new homeschoolers, now is the best time to talk before the spring homeschool conventions.  We can help you clarify your goals and narrow your curriculum search to make the convention floor that much less overwhelming!


(To serve you best, we will only release new slots on a monthly basis in small batches.)





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New to homeschool?  
Join our Mailing List for your FREE BEGINNING HOMESCHOOL CHECKLIST!



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I'm probably the last traditionally minded Christian on the planet to read The Benedict Option by Ron Dreher, but that isn't going to stop me from taking what I know and writing an extraordinarily late to the party response/extension to what Mr. Dreher has to say about education.

One of the reasons I held off on reading this book is that I made the (incorrect) assumption that it was going to be about withdrawing and about duplicating monastery life in the home.   I just could not quite shake the idea that option isn't best for my family.  Nor, in the spirit of full disclosure, does Mr. Dreher claim it should be.

My mistake.  I probably should have paid a little more attention to what others were saying, like this review from Bishop Robert Barron.

I don't want to talk about the whole book, I'll let you read it for yourself and discern your own conclusions.  I'm really not an expert in much of what he says and we will be taking it to careful consideration ourselves.  I would, however, like to expand on what he says about education specifically, because as he states, "Christians have not been alert to the importance of education, and its time to change that."

Truth:  The public education sector is no longer safe, or even friendly, to orthodox Christians.  

The Sexualization of School

The sexual agenda has invaded and its here to stay.  It is far more complicated than opting out of certain content...the sexual agenda IS the content.   Major money is being thrown at textbooks, etc, that have blatant themes promoting non-binary gender ideology.   A massive amount of education equity and access research is focusing on gender minorities instead of racial, ethnic, and economic minority...despite a lack of published evidence of an academic achievement gap on standardized testing based on sexual identity and loads of statistics about the continued gaps involving racial, ethnic, and economic minorities. **PLEASE! See Note Below**  

Opting out is not the option it was even 3-5 years ago.  It's accelerating that quickly.

If you aren't in, you are wrong and you are bigoted, hateful, and more.  So much so that it is with a careful hand I will push publish and share this post.  Simply writing it is cutting my credibility with my peers in education and no doubt will ruffle the feathers of more than a few who think the problem can't possibly be as widespread as claimed.

Mr. Dreher presents a future where orthodox Christians are unable to teach except in orthodox Christian organizations.  I'm going to tell you from where I'm sitting that is more here than not.  For now, the tenure system protects a great deal of our orthodox faculty even at public institutions, but I anticipate that will not last forever.  Yes, there are still public schools that have not yet been affected, but this will not last forever.  Almost certainly in our lifetime, both situations will cease to exist.

I'm telling you that as someone who is deeply familiar with the inner workings of the other side of education.

Florists, bakers, and photographers were first.

Educators are next.

I knew it long before I read the Benedict Option.

But what do we do about it?

We don't opt out by skipping the sexual education unit, we opt out by skipping the schools altogether.

In a nutshell, Mr. Dreher promotes pursuing classical education.

According to Classical Academic Press, classical education,
"..is a long tradition of education that has emphasized the seeking after of truth, goodness, and beauty and the study of the liberal arts and the great books.  ... The classical approach teaches students how to learn and how to think."
If classical Christian schools are difficult to find or financially prohibitive, Mr. Dreher suggests forming together a group of parents and starting your own.

If that doesn't work, homeschool.

**There is an undeniably large and disproportionate suicide rate among teens struggling with sexual identity.  This is a real problem that should concern all Christians.  That said, there has also not been a decrease in the suicide rates despite increasing access to hormone therapies and almost unlimited social acceptance of nongender-conforming students.  This is a complicated issue, requiring undoubtedly complicated solutions from a social standpoint.  My point is not that these students aren't struggling, but from a statistical standpoint, they aren't struggling academically.  The focus has shifted to their wellbeing over the wellbeing of other students who statistically are struggling academically.

What does this have to do with Montessori?

If Classical education is a long-ago method of education that is going through a much-needed renewal, Montessori is a relatively new approach that offers many of the same underlying goals for its students.  Classical education seeks to systematically introduce students to a growing breadth, not just of facts but of ideas that are discussed and applied in ways that emphasize personal excellence.  Montessori also incorporates several additional factors that I believe make it at least equally relevant and possibly preferred for some students and families.

Mr. Dreher explains a quality education as one that, "imbues [students] with a sense of order, meaning, and continuity. It's one that integrates knowledge into a harmonious vision of the whole, one that unites all things that are, were, and ever will be in God."

He goes on, "Mastery of facts and their application is not the same thing as education, any more than an advanced degree in systematic theology makes one a saint...If a Christian way of living isn't integrated with students' intellectual and spiritual lives, they'll be at risk of falling away through no fault of their own."

Montessori education does all this and more.  In fact, it ties in with almost all of the non-education aims the Benedict Option lays out.  This makes it not just academic and/or spiritual preparation for actually living out the Benedict Option, but whole person preparation for doing so.

Some of these include,
  • Focus on living and thriving in a community
  • Focus on hospitality and service (Practical Life, Grace & Courtesy, Social Justice Work, and more)
  • Emphasis on the importance of an ordered external environment leading to internal order.
  • Through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, young Catholic are invited deep into an understanding of the liturgy, sacred scripture, and more.
I am not the first to see the tie between Montessori and classical education aims.  Other Montessori homeschoolers have found classical education to be the natural extension of the Montessori study through the elementary years.  In fact,  I believe that Montessori herself given more time would have come to a similar conclusion.  An education that floats somewhere between classical education content, Charlotte Mason living books, and a more individually directed Montessori feel.  Unfortunately, Maria Montessori passed away before her educational approach was extended to the adolescent period and we are left to flounder a little bit with less scientific approaches than she used.

I also personally believe Montessori education to be more accessible and dignity promoting for those members of our community with physical and neurological differences.  For some of these students, the reading required of the classical method alone makes it completely impossible.   With its focus on practical life skills, self-care, and more we could give these students access to an education that truly considers their future independence and confidence, while also giving them access to big ideas.

Now, as with public sector education.   Montessori education has been largely and quickly co-opted by the modern agenda.  Even as a parent deeply dedicated to Montessori philosophy, I could not in good conscience send my child to a non-Christian Montessori school.  That said, it is extremely difficult to find appropriate resources to use at home.  Classical education has certainly been made more accessible for homeschool families.

It is important to note, however, that just as our country's founders would have taken for granted that the Constitution would always be interpreted with a common moral understanding, Maria Montessori was herself a highly spiritual person.  I don't believe that she would have embraced the idea of creating one's own reality in contrast to the natural and moral law.  I think this belief is justified in her absolute insistence that materials be used for their proper purpose.

Of course, the availability of Christian Montessori options makes Classical Christian options seem commonplace!  The spread of Christian and Catholic Montessori hasn't made it too far...yet.  That said, I believe as more people begin to discover the beauty of Catechesis of Good Shepherd in their parishes, the natural next step is to begin to incorporate more Montessori options into the schools themselves.  This will be a positive step in the right direction and one that I hope that my readers in Catholic education will support and even encourage this.

Where Christian Montessori schools are unavailable, you can start your own.  Even to begin by transforming our parish religious education programs towards a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd model would be a huge victory for the future of our Church by creating a generation of youth deeply connected to the liturgy and scripture.

If that doesn't work, homeschool.


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Totally new to the idea of homeschool?  

Join our email list and we will help you get off on the right foot with a Beginning Homeschool Checklist.





Interested in exploring Montessori as a Catholic alternative more deeply?  

Join our Montessori Premium Content group and we will walk you through making it work within the context of your family or local Catholic school.




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Have you had a chance to think about revolutionizing your homeschool with Montessori through membership in the Premium Montessori Content Group?  Here are a few questions you might be asking! What exactly will I find in the Premium Montessori Content group?  The biggest draw is the curriculum library that you will have access to.  Free downloads, articles, resource links, and more.  All divided by subject.  Not just for academic content and subject areas, but resources for the prepared environment, special needs, infants/toddlers, catechesis, and more!

What if I don't homeschool with Montessori, can I still join?  If you are homeschooling with a heart for hands-on, relationship-driven, child-respectful learning there is a good chance that you will find a ton of ideas that will help you.  That's why I call my approach Montessori (ish)!  I'm not really a purist either.  If you are still worried, drop me an email (just hit reply to this one) and tell me a little bit about your homeschool and goals.  I can help you figure out if the group will be a good fit.

What age ranges does the group cover?  The goal?  Everything from birth through high school!  The reality?  This is curated content and the main focus will be whatever the membership drives it to be.  So if you want to learn more about a specific age, just ask!

Can I try it before I buy?  I wish that I had the luxury to offer you this.  Unfortunately, in the digital age if I open up this content to a person to preview for free they will have the ability to download everything and promptly request their money back.  I hope that wouldn't happen, but to protect my investment of time and expertise into this project all sales are final.  That said, if you are truly on the fence, please hit reply and let me know your questions.  I want people to join because they know it is a good fit for them!

We aren't friends on Facebook, how do I join the group?  Don't worry!  When we receive your request to join we will email you to make sure you are properly added.  If you don't hear from us in 48 hours, you can drop us a note and we will get you added!

Can my spouse join the Facebook group too?  Yes!  For the $25 purchase price, husband and wife teams are welcome to both join the group. Please let us know up front if this applies to you.  This privilege is a courtesy, not a right.  The $25 does not cover two memberships of any other arrangement (other partner relationships, child, friend, etc.).  

How long does the membership last?  This is a lifetime membership rate.  The introductory price is low, so act now. We expect to raise this price incrementally to keep the group size reasonable.  The price will also rise as the value of the curriculum library grows!

What if I need even more help?  If you are looking for individualized phone or email support as well as the curriculum library, we recommend purchasing a full annual membership, which includes these forms of support AND membership into our Premium Montessori Content Group.  This membership level isn't available just yet, but if you click here you can join the waiting list and be the first to know when it is.

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Do you have other questions?

 Do not hesitate to reach out to me!  That's what I'm here for.  I want you to see an immediate benefit to your homeschool by making this commitment.   If you aren't sure, let me know your reservations and I can help you decide if the group is right for you.  Leave a comment or reach out to me via email workplayread@gmail.com


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Ready to jump in?

Click below to join us now!

 
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I've been to dozens of homeschool retreats, conferences, workshops, support groups, etc. over the years and one thing I've heard again and again is "I really like what I hear about Montessori, but..."

..."I just need something more grab and go."

..."it's only good for preschool."

..."it's too much freedom for my kids.  They need more academics."

..."I just can't find anything that tells me what I'm actually supposed to do next."

..."it's not really religious."

..."no one else in my area does it."

And you know what?  I get it!  Homeschooling is hard, add in a less common approach such as Montessori and it can seem impossible!  I never would have made it this far without my husband Tim, and his Montessori training...particularly his very detailed albums.   The truth is that many of the reasons above are based on misunderstandings of Montessori and on a lack of quality information.


I understand why you have been confused!

For ten+ years I've been listening to your wishes.  I've heard the longing in your hearts for help on this homeschool journey.  You think that maybe this Montessori stuff might be something to enrich your homeschool, but you just don't know where to start.  Pinterest is overwhelming, conflicting bloggers confusing, and pure Montessori too strict for your real life.

And yet, this approach tugs at the corner of your heart.  

Could my kids do this too?

The answer is YES!  Your kids can learn through hands-on, practical approaches that extend beyond the early years.  You can teach from a place of confidence that your child's internal motivations can drive their learning all the way to the finish line.  That your homeschool can be a place of relationships and experiences, not one of pencils and paper.  

Those beautiful Montessori approaches you see and hear about can happen in your home too.

And, I can help you.  

I've spent the last few months dreaming about ways that I can help you embrace the beauty of "Montessori (ish)" homeschool.  

In the coming weeks, I'm going to be sharing more ideas, but for today I want to invite you to be the first to join our brand new, intentional homeschool community on Facebook.   The focus will be on the how-to of making Montessori work for your family.  I'll be doing live Q&A sessions and there is a curriculum library that is growing every single day.   

All organized into easy to navigate groupings.  

Need ideas for Pre Readers? You will find that in Unit 6.  

Geography?  That's Unit 13.  

Special Needs?  Try Unit 11.   

New to homeschool?  You get to start at the beginning with Unit 1.

Are you getting the idea? 

[If you know you want in, click here now!  If you're on the fence, keep reading for more information!]

Now, this is a growing project.  It takes a long time to organize and upload 10 years of our lessons and activities to make them totally accessible.   What is there today is only the beginning of what is to come.  Some of the content is recycled from other places, but other activities are brand new.  Some resources are paid, but much of it is totally free!

Even though the library is continually growing, this week, I opened the doors to the first members and I want to invite you to become one of them.  

Membership is lifetime and you will have access to not only the always growing curriculum library but also to personal support from other members.  Run into a snag?   Now you can ask for help from other parents who are working with a similar homeschool approach, even if no one in your local area is.

If you've always wondered if Montessori is right for you, the answer is YES!  And we can help each other make it happen.  We can start a Montessori (ish) revolution, if you will, and create an intentional and diverse community of homeschooling families who are learning how to observe, embracing the prepared environment, valuing hands-on approaches, seeking social-justice driven education, and more.   We can make Montessori work for you, the way it has worked for me for the past ten years.

I'm planning to revolutionize the world by revolutionizing the education of my children?  

Are you in?





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Just getting started?
Not sure about Montessori Homeschool just yet,
but ready to dip your toes into learning more about homeschool in general?

Join our mailing list and we will send you a free checklist to get you on the right foot!


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Have you ever needed help with parenting or homeschool, only to discover that to get help from a professional you had to suffer through a system that devalues your family values, including your decision to homeschool?

Can you imagine being able to find help for your struggling self or child without hearing that school is the "obvious" solution?

As trained educators, we respect the expertise these professionals have to offer.  They have deep knowledge and skills that can benefit both child and family when provided in a family-centric model.  Yet all too often, we know that isn't what happens.  We actually had to ask an early intervention teacher to stop coming to our house and take matters into our own hands because the person they sent was so openly outspoken against our Catholic faith, our large family, and our decision to homeschool!

We can be the person you troubleshoot with when it seems like your curriculum isn't working or your child isn't thriving the way you expected.  

Or maybe your kid is doing great and you need some encouragement because you are stressed out beyond belief juggling all of the realities of home, school, and family.  (We talk to a lot of parents and teachers, trust me you are more normal than not if this is where you are!)

We can do that, and more.

We know it is hard to homeschool.  With all of our education and experience, we still struggle with finding the right combination of curriculum and approaches to help each of our children thrive!  

It's hard to ask for help.  It's hard to admit you need help with homeschool.  It's hard to admit you are overwhelmed or outside your skill set.  It's even harder to do that when you are worried what the person across the desk or on the other end of the phone is going to blame homeschooling (or beliefs, or family size) rather than actually empower you with tools to help your family.

From the beginning of this blog, we have been teachers.   We were teachers who were noticing that- from the parent side- this education thing wasn't working so well for us.

Is it working for you?

If not, skip the step where you grit your teeth and hope that other person you ask for help isn't going to come down on homeschooling too hard.

You can homeschool with confidence.

We can help.







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How do you know your homeschool curriculum is working?  Curriculum should be one of the first things you evaluate when you need homeschooling help.  You should also evaluate before you purchase any new curriculum, when you start a new homeschooling journey, and when you are looking for supplements to your Montessori (or other non-traditional) homeschool curriculum.  In determining the success and effectiveness of your curriculum, I want you to ask yourself three basic questions.
1.  Is my child growing and developing over time?

2. Does my child enjoy learning?
3.  Am I enjoying teaching?
Three yeses, go ahead and stop reading right now- you don't need the rest of this post!  Your homeschool is doing great.  You have a solid fit of curriculum for yourself and for your child.  No need to worry, even if what you are doing looks totally different than your friends or what you thought your homeschool would be like.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then there may be tweaks that need to happen.   Does that seem overly simple?  I promise it's not.  The younger the child the more simple this is, but let's look a little deeper at each question.
Is my child growing and developing over time?
The schools and standardized testing would have you believe that there are hard fast rules for when a child needs to be doing certain things.  Logically, however, in most cases this doesn't pass the snuff test.  Yes, a child will need to be able to read or do certain types of math by a certain age in order to perform to a "standard" when it comes to testing.  But who sets the standard?  Standards are developed based on how most people teach it in the school system.  That doesn't automatically make it superior- there are many other schools and methods that use a different sequence for learning.   Particularly in the early childhood and elementary years there is a great amount of variety in what is considered normal and acceptable.  If your child has new skills this month that they didn't have last month, they are probably doing ok.   This might mean new skills in language one month and in math the next month, but as long as they are making some sort of progress forward at any given time then the combination of your curriculum and teaching are getting the job done.
When to worry:  If your child goes through several consecutive months without seeming to make much progress or has a specific area that their development seems to be at a standstill, it might be time to try something new.  Look for Homeschool Curriculum Check Up Part 2.
Does my child enjoy learning?
Now, most children will not enjoy every minute of learning.  The question is not could they enjoy learning more- absolutely they probably could.  But in general, is your child learning from a state of contentment.  Are they delighting in new discoveries?  Do they have interests of their own to spontaneously investigate?
When to worry:  In this case, the worry will probably precede the question.  Something has felt off in your homeschool for awhile and you couldn't quite put your finger on what.  Sometimes enjoyment is robbed from a child due to really easy things to fix- like moving with a solid curriculum but at a pace that is too quick.  Other times there are environmental and life factors that make focusing on school tougher for a season.  Don't be afraid to ask for your child's input here.  You still get the final say in what changes are made, but their reasons for discontent might surprise you and provide a key to moving forward.  
Am I enjoying teaching?
I'm just going to jump straight to the next section- when to worry- because the answer is NOW!  Mom, do not discount yourself in the assessment of your homeschool.   Is the curriculum working for you?   Are you spending too many hours planning and grading?  Can you easily track where your various children are in their individual curriculums?  Sometimes it isn't the curriculum that needs to be changed necessarily, but how you interact with it.   Are there parts of managing the curriculum that you can hand over to your students?  As all types of responsibility, you could be doing them a favor by letting them lead.  
Don't push yourself to the limit for a curriculum even one that results in the first two questions being a yes.  Because eventually you will burn out.  Eventually you will overthink things and make choices that make life more difficult than it is.   Even if you don't change the curriculum, if you are feeling burned out you need to adjust your schedule to give yourself a break on something.   This is one of those ask me how I know things.....  Being a teacher is hard.  There is a reason that so many public school teachers burn out in less than five years.  They are locked into a teaching method, curriculum, and system of standards.  You are not.  Free yourself from that expectation and you will free your homeschool.
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Knowing if your curriculum is working is only the first step.  If your child is not growing and learning, if your child is not enjoying learning, or if you are not enjoying teaching it might be time to evaluate your curriculum in more depth to determine if a change is needed...and to identify which changes are mostly likely to be successful for your situation.
If you read this post and are ready to make a change,  the next post in this series, Identifying the Guilty Party:  Homeschool Kill Joys, is for you.   Hear about it first by joining our mailing list below!  You may also want to check out my -Help!  Homeschooling Isn't Going So Great!- board on Pinterest.

If your homeschool is struggling and you are can't afford to wait for the rest of the posts in this series, click here for more information on booking an individualized homeschool consulting session.



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It seems like such a simple question, but really it's the first thing you need to ask when you are getting ready to dive into your first year curriculum choices.  Is homeschool right for your family?  Before you can do anything else, you have to discern if it's the right choice for your family.   Here are three questions to ask and a printable checklist to get you off on the right track once you've decided to dive in!

What are your dreams for your kids?  I don't mean what do you want them to be when they grow up, but what kind of person do you want them to be?  Are you primarily concerned with virtues, values, and character or academics and study skills.  It's ok to be concerned with both, but what is the most important to you?  The choice between options is so much more than homeschool versus school.  What kind of school?  A public school, a Catholic school, a Montessori school, a magnet school for the arts or sciences...the list goes on.    To make the choice that is best for your family, you have to have an idea of what your goals and dreams are.

What knowledge and skills do they need to reach those dreams?   If you decide to homeschool, this question will be key to choosing which curriculum options will be the best fit for your family.  If you decide to go the school route, this question will help you decide which school.

How are they going to get those knowledge and skills?  I'm going to be very honest with you.  Public school in the year 2019 looks nothing like the public school of our childhood.  It doesn't even look like the public schools of 15 years ago when I first graduated from school.  There are great schools.  There are great teachers.  And they are all forced to work in a constantly shifting political windstorm that puts political decisions and legislation way ahead of your dreams for your child.  Many of them are doing beautiful things, but they are doing it wearing handcuffs.

Answering these questions is made more complicated by what resources you have available locally.  Homeschooling has given our family access to a Montessori education that would be otherwise inaccessible due to geography.  Homeschool has allowed us to make that Montessori education also a Catholic education.

You can make all sorts of sacrifices and modifications to a curriculum the way we have and you can adjust your daily schedule and routines to accommodate for homeschool, but at the end of the day its really hard to adjust those big picture goals.  Start with your dreams and what it will take to reach them.   Make your school choice from there, and God will grant you the grace to work with your situation to homeschool (or not) successfully.  I can't promise it will be easy, but I do promise it will enrich both yourself, your children, your family, and your community.

 
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With the explosion of social media and microblogging, why should I still write an old fashioned (gasp- blogger) blog in the year 2019?  The truth is, I think I spent most of 2018 trying to prayerfully answer this question for myself so that I could serve my readers (that's you!) better.  Not just in my typical sporadic Heidi fashion, but in a way that enriches both of our lives.

I wear a lot of hats in my life as a small business owner that have nothing to do with maintaining this space.  I am a wife and a mother.  I am homeschooling my own children.   I am building a life for us on our little homestead.  I am a special needs parent.  The truth is, I don't have to do this and it would make a lot of sense on paper to stop.

Except, I hear you moms.

I hear that you want another option for your family.  I hear that your mama heart is telling you that what has always been done isn't the right choice for your family.   I hear that you want to delay academics, parent gently, and ground your children in faith and virtues before academics.  I hear that you want to homeschool your special needs child even though everyone says it can't be done, that you won't have any free time and that there's no need to burn yourself out like that.  I hear that you want to make your own plan for high school rather than buy into a structured school at home program or push your child into college early.

I believe those inklings in your heart are the voice of the Holy Spirit inviting you to live your homeschool life more radically in line with God's overall plan for your life.  I hear you and I believe there is another option.

So this year I am offering you permission.  Permission to homeschool with your heart instead of a  curriculum.  Permission to do what doesn't make any sense on paper.  Permission to homeschool with intentionality not driven by what has always been done or by what your best homeschool buddies are doing.   Permission to let your homeschool serve your life, rather than forcing your life to serve your homeschool.

I want you to trust the seeds of the Holy Spirit in planning your homeschool and family life from this point forward.  

Why?  Because when you do that- there is a radical joy that comes from living the most trying of circumstances.  There is a joy to be found in trusting God's plan for you rather than fighting it with whats always been done or what others think you should do.

This year I am going to put that goal at the center of everything I write here, in the curriculum I develop for my shop, and in the part of our life I choose to continue sharing on social media.

That's why I will blog in 2019.

It might be hard... I struggle with the same insecurities as all of you.  I still wear all those other hats.  There will be hiccups as I discern what to share and what to leave for other formats.  So give me feedback- tell me what types of resources help you homeschool and parent intentionally.  If I hit it out of the park, tell me.  If I totally screw it up- tell me that too (maybe gently...).

As I near the high school halfway point with my oldest student, I am suddenly extra aware of the cost of not trusting those inklings of the Holy Spirit to slow down and just be.  I am suddenly aware of how much the encouragement of other non-traditional homeschoolers has made a difference in our journey.  I am grateful that every time I tried to stray off course, something pulled me back- often unexpected things.

Because we are still here.  Doing our non-traditional Montessori-ish Catholic homeschool thing for more than 10 years now.  And we are loving it, even when its hard.

And I hear your voice when you wistfully tell me that you could never do it (maybe meaning Montessori, or maybe another crazy seed that the Holy Spirit has planted in your homeschool heart).

I disagree, and this year I plan to show you how.

I want you to believe in yourself as much as I believe in you.

Our eclectic selves on Christmas Eve 2018.
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For my husband Tim and I, grieving our many losses together has changed over the past sixteen years.  Our first miscarriage took place in my parents basement.  A young couple only a few months into our marriage, we oddly invited a friend over to keep Tim company watching the Minnesota Twins play October baseball while I spent most of the night in the bathroom. It wasn’t that Tim was uninvolved or remotely unsupportive, but we did make some strange decisions that first loss!

Fast forward thirteen years and when our daughter Siena died shortly after death, Tim was fully involved in every step.  He slept at the hospital in the days after delivery, called the funeral home, chose a burial plot, and took three weeks of leave from work to be with me.   He did this while keeping track of what was happening at home with our other five children so I didn’t have to!

What changed?


Well, in short, we did.  As a young couple, we found few resources and little support for our situation.   We were making it up as we went.  Each successive loss we would look back months later and think through what would have made it easier.  We would talk about pictures we wish we took.  Memorial arrangements.  Things I wished I had done differently during labor.

And from the very beginning, Tim was incredible about remembering them all.
The only thing I remember hearing about grieving as a couple was not to expect Tim to grieve on the same timeline as I did.  After our daughter Kenna was stillborn, I even heard the number three months attached.  Something about three months, when I was starting to emerge from the raw and physical realities of my loss, Tim was simultaneously done with urgent things to do and started grieving in a new way.   In some ways this wisdom nugget held true and other ways it did not.

There is no manual for grief.  As we have had more opportunities to “practice” the processes of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death, we have gained clarity in the types of things that work for us as a couple.  We have danced the delicate balance of space, support, and time.  In absence of a manual to give us as a starting point, each of our losses became the starting point for the next.  Not making grief easier, per-say, but easing the burden of decision making in the unknown.

But what if there had been a manual?  Would it have made life easier- If someone had handed us a book of information on baptism, burial, physical pains, and those emotionally tricky to navigate first months?

I think it would and I am ever so grateful for my friend Laura and her husband, Franco, for writing just such a book.  Grieving Together is a compassionate and comprehensive look at grieving and growing together following pregnancy loss.

Laura and Franco can’t make any couple’s grief “easier”, but the friendship of their words can help guide decisions on topics we haven’t had a chance to think about.  Their friendship leaves readers feeling a less lonely, afraid, and isolated.

In sixteen years, the awareness of pregnancy and infant loss as an important issue has grown. Support and resources are more readily available, particularly through online connections. As Catholics, we value the sacredness of both marriage and the unborn.  This book fills a needed hole, upholding the dignity and importance of both.

You can read more about our pregnancy and infant loss journey here.  I also invite you to join my pregnancy and infant loss dedicated mailing list and receive a free copy of Scripture Study for Pregnancy and Infant Loss!  (I have an exciting announcement of my own coming next week and mailing list members will be the first to hear about it!)


Disclosure:  As a part of the book launch team, I received a free copy of this book.  All thoughts are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.  
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Tim has been away hunting this weekend with family and I'm working on wrapping up, launching, and dreaming about at least 3 million projects.  My kids would tell you I'm exaggerating, but I'm sure I'm not...  My content planner is packed with exciting upcoming events and opportunities that that I want to share you with.  Here are some highlights (we will call them 7 Quick Takes: Monday Edition) with some pictures mixed in to keep things interesting.

1) Mailing out the first 10 Thank You Care packages from our GoFundMe Campaign.  Thank you for everyone who supported the project.  I've decided to keep the project live and I will ship keep shipping in 10 package increments as things become available.  Additional project updates to supporters will be up soon!

2) Due to popular demand, I have launched a new dedicated Pregnancy and Infant Loss Mailing list!  Grab your free copy of Scripture Study for Pregnancy & Infant Loss and join us today.

3)  The Catholic Mom Bundle launch is only a week away!   I've been busy previewing some of the products available- Montessori Games to Play Advent Edition will be exclusively available through the bundle before launching in the shop!  Don't miss out on your free copy of Montessori Games to Play by subscribing to our newsletter. You can also grab the Fall Edition in my shop before the snow flies!

 

 4)  I'm working on an exclusive opportunity for Work & Play Day by Day readers after the first of the year with my friend Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship.  In the meantime, you might want to check out the free webinar she is hosting this week on Raising Adventurous Eaters.  If you sign up but can't make it, there will be a recording available but ONLY if you sign up in advance.

5)  Running the numbers on our first summer homesteading.  We had some successes and a lot of failures but we definitely learned a lot.  Not the least of which is that we practically rebuilt our house- that probably needs an entire post just for itself.



6)  I have not one, not two, but THREE books in development stages right now.  The first one has been through a round of Imprimatur reviews and is waiting on typesetting, one is in a more development stage and a third one is my first real foray into self-publishing.  Early sneak peaks of all of the above will be heading out via mailing lists (links above).

7) In all this, I do still have seven kids keeping me busy too.  We are quickly approaching the end of Nutcracker season and homeschooling is moving along as it tends to do.  Lucie has been doing well- life is a constant series of adjustments, but we are learning to make our own new normal.  I can hardly believe how Sarah and Tomas are growing.  Can't they just stay little forever?!?!

This crazy little space is a beautiful place for me, but its admittedly hard to get back here with all the other hats (see above!) that pull me to work other places.  If you'd like to see more about any of these things, please do tell me.  Vote with your links, your likes, and your comments- I'm paying attention.  It's not about the bottom line for me*- I want to share the resources and events that you find useful!  I'm also looking ahead to 2019 Speaking Engagements, so if you want to hit me up early now is the time.



*It's not just about the bottom line, but I am required to disclose to you that if you click on the various links in this post I may benefit monetarily from any purchases.  Thank you for your support!

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