Ebb and flow

Last week was a slow week for us in school. Some weeks are just like that. I mentioned to Mr. Thistle the other night that one of the hard things about homeschool is deciding which task on the never ending to-do list takes priority. Which is the most important thing right at this very moment? Seems easy enough. I think most homeschool moms would say “Oh, yes. Education comes first. Always and forever.”

Mother Goose Time

But behind closed doors many of us know it’s not always as easy as that. Yes, school is usually top priority. But what about those times when you’ve spent weeks pouring yourself into school, only to come out of the whirlwind and realize that the mountain of clean laundry waiting to be folded and put away has now been picked through for so long that it has curiously become the mountain of dirty laundry and no one has a single pair of clean underwear? Now the most important task of the day has become washing undies so your husband can go to work with a clean pair of underwear. No matter when the calendar says your scheduled school break is, you get the undies clean or no one is happy.

Mother Goose Time

And what about those days when all of the things that have taken a backseat to school are now demanding your attention all at once? For instance, the nest boxes in the chicken coop need to be cleaned and relined with fresh straw; the leaves need to be raked because they are the future compost for your garden and if you don’t do it today the crazy Tennessee storms will blow them away and you’ll have to buy compost; Halloween costumes need to be sewn, glued, paper machèd; there are zero groceries in the house and you’ve resorted to meal planning with flour, raisins, and salt; you can’t remember the last time you cleaned the toilet.

Mother Goose Time

Welcome to my life last week.

But school still happened. It happened in a more random fashion and with more “unschooling” methods. But I was able to look back at our week and still know that learning happened. Luckily, Owen is super into reading right now so he poured himself into his books. Which makes me happier than anything. And Mother Goose Time for Oliver is so flexible that I was able to pick out the easiest lessons, engage big brother in some co-teaching and get the dishes done while they worked together.

Mother Goose TimeMother Goose Time

Some weeks are just like that. And you keep calm and carry on. And you put on your clean big girl undies and dive in head first into the next week’s lessons to catch up. Ebb and flow.




Rain and Wind, Oh My! with Mother Goose Time

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We started the week off by battling more rain, wind, and tornadoes. We’ve been totally immersed in weather here, that’s for sure. I mentioned last week that we didn’t want anymore hands-on experience with storms but Tennessee chose not to hear that. Buckets and buckets of rain have been dumped on us here with tornadoes and straight-line winds mixed in. The Nashville area is shaped a bit like a bowl with rivers and creeks surrounding it. It floods here if you blink. So we’ve been a little soggy after a week’s worth of rain. I’m pretty sure I heard one of the chickens quack when I went out to collect eggs the other day.

Lucky for us, we’ve been learning about more than just rain, wind, and tornadoes in our Mother Goose Time lessons. This week we learned about clouds, wind, leaves, snow, and rain. We pinned a new color bird in the birdhouse. Orange is our color of the month. Thank goodness because we haven’t been able to change our weather chart from that dreary little gray cloud over the birdhouse. He brightens up our gloomy little forecast. We also added a new shape to our shape clothesline. This month’s shape is the rectangle.

Mother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October theme

I’m also pretty thankful for the games added in with our lessons. Since we’ve been stuck in the house for an extended period they’ve come in handy. There are only so many crafts a mama can handle after being cooped up in a house with two boys. The bits of paper and glue sticks with missing tops can send you over the edge when you’ve got cabin fever. A simple game that doesn’t require mama’s guidance is sometimes the best solution.

Mother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October theme

Though we weren’t lacking in the real stuff, we also learned how to create our own wind from the safety of our school room by blowing lightweight items off of our paper.

Mother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October theme

Part of our Mother Goose Time lesson allows for “Discovery Time”. On this particular day the weather cooperated just long enough for us to get outside and collect some leaves for one of our projects. I love how flexible Mother Goose Time is. We didn’t do our lessons in order this week because the weather just didn’t cooperate for some of the activities. And you know what? It didn’t even matter because the lessons still flowed nicely even in my own order. We just switched around a few of the days to better suit our needs.

Mother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October theme

Snow might’ve been the favorite lesson of the week. The boys had a great time crushing ice to make snow. I think snow is their favorite real weather, too. Oliver was ready to go out and buy a real sled after making one out of paper. I managed to convince him we should probably wait until we actually have snow outside. Crisis averted. Not sure we could find sleds in October in Tennessee.

Mother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October theme

I haven’t done a “What We’re Reading From the Library” post in a while so I thought I’d combine it with what we’re doing with Mother Goose Time. In every month’s box Mother Goose Time includes one book. Guys, the book this month is such a hit! We always like the books they send. They’re not cheap or cheesy. They’re very well done. I thought last month’s book was my favorite but this one really surprised me. The kids thought it was so much fun. They loved joining in to yell NO! when prompted by the story. I love that our curriculum is also growing our home library with good books.

Mother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October theme

If you’re doing a weather theme in your school consider these books. Ummmm hello? Cloudette is the cutest thing ever. EVER. And Eric Carle and Mercer Mayer never disappoint.

 Mother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October themeMother Goose Time "Weather All Around Us" October theme

Resources (affiliate links):

Mother Goose Time


Little Cloud by Eric Carle [2001]

Just a Big Storm


Ode to my mentor

I’ve always loved art. As a kid I liked to draw and color and paint. All mediums really. I would frequently craft or create. I think it’s a bit of an only-child syndrome. I was bored. And necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. My parents were pretty much ok with whatever I wanted to create or paint or craft or glue since I was also a very talkative child. It was a win-win for them. It gave me the freedom to explore my creativity while also giving them some much needed peace and quiet. They didn’t even blink an eye when they came home one day when I was 17 and I had painted a mural on my entire bedroom wall. I guess it was better than what other kids my age might’ve been getting into at that moment. Better than some things I had gotten into in the past. At least they knew where I was – in my bedroom blaring a brooding, angry female singer on my radio with paint in my hair.


But freedom to create was only one of the ways my creative passion was encouraged growing up. Sure, my parents let me create. But my high school art teacher really nurtured my love for creating. If he’s reading this right now he’s probably wondering if we’re talking about the same person. I’m not sure how he remembers me from high school but I was definitely a bit of a sass mouth. A bit moody. And too caught up. High school is hard man. Being a teenager is hard. So much angst. I’m sure he knew I completed assignments from other classes on his watch. I’m sure I was difficult about assignment deadlines and working in groups. I’m sure I was late to class. But, in spite of all that, he taught me anyway. He might be the most patient person I encountered in those 4 years. And everyday in class, even while caught up in my own teen angst over the latest boy problem or cheerleading squabble, I saw him nurture a love of creating. I think that the artsy side of him was what allowed him to see us as creative beings instead of the monsters some of us were. Maybe he was saying all the swear words loudly in his head at some of us. I doubt it though. He modeled discipline and encouraged patience and a slow-to-anger motto. He didn’t just hand us paint and brushes and tell us to create for an hour and a half. He showed us how to slow down and focus on what we were feeling and put it on paper. He encouraged free thought and expression but also respectfulness and dignity.


I’m not sure if he remembers it this way. Or if he would say that he was just trying to get us to appreciate Renoir or Degas. Maybe I idealize that time of my life. But that’s not likely since I can also remember the absolute disdain I had for authority and chemistry and the clear as day anxiety before every halftime performance.  I’m pretty sure the way I remember it is the right way (because I’m still a little sassy).

Now, instead of a simple cognitive knowledge of how to put pen to paper I appreciate the process. I appreciate all of the emotions that come along with creating. Because Dr. D never asked us to put that away to create. He asked us to harness it and put it into our work. I’m not sure I ever remember him insinuating that anyone’s work was bad. Even if we were all thinking it. He taught us to appreciate the ugly work and the pretty work and see the beauty in both. And sure, some of the lessons were boring. Sorry Dr. D. Art history didn’t stick in college either so it’s me, not you. But in general the man was a walking inspiration. I mean, he has a PhD in art, went to college with Michael Stipe from R.E.M., and I swear I watched him build an amazing wearable wooden and canvas plane for our senior play. It was amazing. All the while remaining one of the most humble people I know.

D taught me that you can do all the things in art. He never guaranteed us we would do them well. But we could still do them if we wanted. We weren’t limited to a style or a medium or even our own ability. And I don’t think I can recall too many times when I asked him how to do something and him not know. But I’m sure if he didn’t know, he knew where to look to learn. And, lest we forget, we were working WITHOUT Google and YouTube then. I’ll let you marinate on that for a minute.


So here’s what I want you to know Dr.D: sometimes I teach my kids a homeschool lesson and I can see that it didn’t stick. Not even a little bit. And then there’s this phenomenon that happens several weeks or even months later where one of the kids randomly calls up every bit of information from that lesson in detail and blows me away. I started thinking that maybe high school teachers don’t always get to experience those moments of victory since you only have us for a short time. While I can’t call up any information on where Renoir was born or what the heck he even painted, I can tell you that I have tried (and failed…a lot…let’s not talk about that) to model your teaching methods with my own children – a gentle spirit, patience while they try it their own way, and a love of creating and learning with a dash of discipline. Your influence on my teenage self is still having an impact 12 years after my last class with you. And it is now influencing the next generation. I’m finally learning at 30 what you imparted to me at 17. I’m starting to learn to give myself enough grace to create. To slow down enough and channel my energy into making something, anything, and doing my best even if it sucks. And encouraging my children to do the same.

So thanks Dr. D., for being awesome. I still want to be like you when I grow up.





October 15, 2014 - 8:15 pm

Laura - I love how you describe him… Very true! I am so thankful for him! And it’s amazing that you recognize the powerful things that he taught you and inspired you to teach your kids.

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