homeschool at the cafe

If a homeschooler takes her kids to a cafe and doesn’t post it on social media, is homeschooling still cooler than school?



We had a ‘State of the Homeschool’ meeting today at Wildflower Cafe, out on their tiny and fabulous patio.  Tias ate breakfast and told amazing anecdotes.  That is a boy you want to tell you a story.  All the feels.  All the hand gestures.  We also had a very serious discussion about where the learning was at and where we saw it going.  Then we walked home telling more anecdotes. 


Big Day

Introducing our graduate!

Surprise!  It was for her.  We staged a surprise graduation party for her during our family reunion this weekend.  I’d borrowed a cap and gown from a local high school.  It was fantastic.  Just ceremonial enough to make the occasion grand, spiced with the adrenaline of surprise.  She loved it.  We loved her.

One of the perks of homeschool grad is that you get to keep the cap and gown around for a bit and can do things like eat leftover homemade Black Forrest cake for breakfast while wearing them.  It’s an occasion, after all.  (One of the other perks is the total lack of dress drama that her friends are going through.)


It is amazing to think that she’s done.  Graduated.  An adult.  

I’ve struggled all week to post about this.  I think because I feel a pressure to make a Big Moment of this blog.  Yet, as with so much of homeschooling, graduation is not so much a Big Moment as a fantastic process of evolution and growth.  She’s done because she wanted to work 4 full months at the research station like university students do rather than the 2 months she did last year.  She’s done, not because a test told her, or a ceremony, or a diploma, but because she’s moving on to other things.  It happened before we could mark it with an occasion.

It’s a big deal, but not a Big Deal.  She’s incredible.  She’s done this part.  It’s all been an adventure and it will all be an adventure.  It’s life.  Her life.  She’s got roses and a diploma we invented, and she’s got plans.

faster than a speeding…

Three-quarters of us are about to try Bullet Journalling. 

We have tried to go digital in organizing. And it works great for calendar events. But those To Do lists…

This seems like an elegant and infinitely flexible system that is also almost shocking in its simplicity. Let’s hope! Because I’m tired of running parallel lists for the different areas is my life and my daily life and not making sure there’s cross-pollination between them. Not to mention keeping track of them!  

One place! A mind that feels put together.   I have hopes. 

Danger Zone

So, this sabbatical thing, how’s it going?  It’s been mid-December since I took any real interest in homeschooling in an attempt to dig myself out of this mire of burnout and possible depression.  Two months.  But two mother months, which is to say the number of days in which I truly asked ‘What will bring me joy today?’ has been lower than I’d have liked.  

I am currently in a place I’m calling the danger zone.  I’ve been able to put enough back into myself that I can see getting back to a full set of responsibilities.  Yet there is a feeling that this is optimistic, like the pond that has frozen but the ice is still too thin for skating, or like the laptop battery that won’t last though the writing session at a coffee shop.

Life has taken over.  I’ve got stuff to do.  I’m busy with a lot of non-negotiable things.  I’m just not homeschooling.  I’m also not really on sabbatical.

So it’s the danger zone.  I could start, but probably shouldn’t.  I could pull back, but probably can’t. I feel like I’ve already taken too much time (been self-indulgent, neglected my son in particular… the whispers are there).  Yet I know I haven’t taken enough time.

The pond looks good.  Wondering if I should pull on my skates.  Wondering if I’ll crash through or make it across. 

Series of happiness

Sandra turns 18 soon and was finding it hard to work up a sense of anticipatory happiness about the event.

We’ve been having a bit of a nostalgic winter, with lots of “remember when’s” and “oh, there was that time…” Sandra realized that if anything really defined her childhood in terms of fictional landscapes it was Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

Neither of my children has read Harry Potter, though. Thanks to the years of needing vision therapy, that was a series that they experienced as I read aloud. Sandra decided that this ought to be remedied and set about finding a set with artwork she wanted on her bookshelf. Because the family set was the family set, not the Sandra set.

And she talked Matthias into following her down the path. And they discovered that the North American sets are rather meh. And they ordered from England. And the sets arrived.


Now they have to wait for her birthday to start reading. Happy anticipatory feelings have been achieved!

Press the Start Button

I wonder how the word venture differs from the word adventure exactly. Both imply beginnings and risk. I’ll have to go investigate the etymology after I tell you about my new venture.

I am starting a business designing knitting patterns, and possibly dyeing yarn. This may seem to be a bit of a contrast or possibly even a total roadblock to my ‘no goals, be happy’ mantra for 2015. But I’m not setting rules about this or business goals. I am moving forward, doing what makes me happy about the process. This is very different than the ’12 pairs of socks in 2012′ goal.

Aplayfulday podcast is running a design contest in which the prize is quite substantial help turning an idea into a published pattern: tech editing, social media support, and hand-dyed yarn to knit it in. She announced it just as I was starting my homeschooling sabbatical and it seemed right to play along.

Sandra and I headed off for an outdoor photoshoot today. In the winter, yes. Canadians are hardy. I climbed a pile of frozen garbage that fortuitously happened to be below a fetching green doorway that hovered in a yellow brick wall. Sandra held a metal camera while wearing fingerless mitts.


We had a warming trip for lattes and scones. It let us look through the photos and critique what was going on. Why was I always squinting? The cowl needed to bunch less in that way. Oh, check out those cool shots, let’s head back and make them even better.


I’m writing up my pitch. Sandra’s working some kind of voodoo magic in Lightroom. The possibilities are vast.


Right now, I’m having trouble distinguishing between venture and adventure.

On Sabbatical

Early in December I had a thought flash, one of those rare and complete events when a fully formed idea hits at the right time. I’ve been struggling with burnout and depression since about July, which was really alarming to me. To have had no summer break upswing meant that something big and deep was going on. I’ve built a lot of self-care into my life and am puzzled by the state of affairs.

The idea that came to me: what if I went on sick leave?

That’s how my brain phrased it. Not vacation. Not taking a break. Sick leave.

“Interesting,” I thought. “I wonder why.” And then I thought back to my last vacation: summer break. You know, when I sanded, pressure washed, and stained the deck. When I coached 2 soccer teams. When I went through everything in the basement, reorganizing and ruthlessly decluttering. I also thought about previous vacations, where I am, of course, always a mama, always moving as a group, paying attention to the group’s moods and desires, and taking care of everyone.

“Ah,” I realized, “I do need to call it sick leave. I need – within myself – a clear indication that this is about deep and personal care.” It’s a boundary. It’s a Get Out of Guilt Free card.

I had planned to take all of January off and then spent the first two weeks sick. I wasn’t tending my soul, the medicine I needed was quite literal. Yesterday the thought that I had only 2 and a half weeks left came crashing into me. I didn’t feel like I’d been asking “What will make me happy today?” for more than a couple of days, which was of course true. I talked to Rainer, and his point was that this is not about the calendar, it’s about me. He’s right. The idea of waiting until mid Feb before actively homeschooling the kids was starting to cause me guilt. See? That’s why I need the boundary words. Sick leave.

Except we’ve changed the label. Matthias told me 8 days into the Very Bad Cold, “As soon as you called it sick leave I knew you were in trouble.”

On Sabbatical. The kids have checklists for everything they can do independently. I have a mandate to do whatever.

Right now, I’ve taken myself out for lunch. And ordered a three course meal.




Popcorn – check
Cat – check
Blanket – check
Sunny corner – check
Music – check
Canadian history text that makes her giggle – check

(It’s “Canadian History for Dummies” by the witty Will Ferguson)