Social

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My girls and I have found a new love:  ceramics.  We happened upon a class that had some open seats and immediately we knew it was a match made in Heaven.

A common misconception of homeschooled-children is that they lack socialization.  My experience (be it only a brief one and a half years so far) has illustrated to me that the exact opposite is actually true.  Not only do my girls interact with children their own age while at homeschool co-op, through sports and camps, and during their involvement in scouts, homeschooling allows time for my girls to interact with those much younger and older than them.  My girls love helping out with the little bitty ones when they are at the YMCA or at co-op, and they also cherish the moments they get to spend with residents of their great grandmother’s retirement community.

Our new-found ceramics class has also offered my girls a wonderful opportunity to, not only learn a wide array of artistic techniques, but also interact with a lovely group of ladies of an older generation.  My girls love listening to their stories, and watching their experienced hands craft the most beautiful pieces of art.  Our time spent in the studio on Tuesdays with these women is definitely a life experience for which I am so very grateful.

Our Favorite Classroom

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This whole homeschooling venture is still so new.  It’s a good new, but still unfamiliar territory that I am working to navigate.  This week has been especially challenging, what with coming off of the big birthday weekend, and now having various new puzzles, Lego sets and craft kits dotted throughout our home.  And now, the challenge emerges in front of me:  How do we have “school” when there is all this birthday present goodness acting as a distraction?

But isn’t it crazy how God gives us just what we need?  This week we have been blessed with the most beautiful weather.  It is warm, yet the scent of autumn can be found upon the breeze, and the fall foliage is in its true glory.  With these glorious days set before us, I decided to pack up the books, and move our lessons outdoors this week.  We spent our days at two of our favorite local spots, Aldeen Park and Atwood Park.  There is just something to say about learning while being immersed in nature.  It makes the learning process truly magical, and the movement and physical activity that can be incorporated in this setting is unmatched.  Living in the Midwest, we know these outdoor educational opportunities will not last much longer, but boy are we working to soak it all up while we still can.

First Harvest

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Yesterday was a big day for our school garden project.  The garden was bursting with vegetation, so we decided it would make the perfect day for our first official harvest of the season!  We were able to glean lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, collards, snap peas, beans, beets and carrots from our seven-bed school garden.

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Once the produce was picked, rinsed and sorted, we drove to our local food pantry to drop off our donation.  Along the way, we spoke of the importance of helping those in need for God tells us “to be openhanded toward [our] brothers and toward the poor and needy in [our] land” (Deuteronomy 15:11).

IMG_3465 IMG_3466 If you are interested in donating to the Rock River Valley Food Pantry, visit their web site here.

School Garden Update: First Week of July

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It dawned on me the other day that I haven’t given you a proper update on the school garden at my daughters’ school, The Cathedral of St. Peter School, since May.  What a travesty I tell you!  So, slip into your spiffiest garden shoes, and come along with us on a tour through the school garden…

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Kicking Things Off

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It’s official.  The school garden at The Cathedral of St. Peter School is fully under way!  Sunday afternoon, we hosted a School Garden Kick-Off Festival where students and their families were able to peruse the garden space, take a look at our fabulous garden sign (hand-crafted by my father-in-law and decorated by the students of St. Peters), and visit with some very special guests.

We were so very fortunate to be joined on Sunday by Father Beekman, who blessed the garden space; Andrea Hazzard of Hazzard Free Farm spoke with families about growing and cooking with grains; Dick Zander of Zander Nursery met with students and their parents to discuss how to grow the best tomatoes in town; and Chef Paul Sletten of Abreo and Social visited with guests to discuss cooking with fresh produce.  It was truly a wonderful afternoon.  The weather could not have been more beautiful, and we were so thankful for all of the families who came out to help ring in this exciting new program for our school.

The entire day left me feeling a great sense of gratitude for all the Earth provides, and how her beauty and bounty can truly bring people together for the greater good.  I cannot wait to see what wonderful adventures await the students of St. Peters as we venture forth with this new endeavor.

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School Garden

From the very moment my two little girls entered this world, I instantly began worrying about their schooling.  I’m not sure why these thoughts consume me so.  Maybe it is my teacher-self knowing the importance of education.  Or maybe it is the fact that Twain’s “never let school interfere with your education” seems to beat a constant drum in my head.  But no matter the reason, schooling has, and I think will always be, on my mind.

When my eldest little baby ventured off to kindergarten this year, I felt apprehension in my heart and an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach, wondering if I made the correct choice in her schooling endeavors.  It is now that we are in entering our third month of school that I am fully confident that my husband and I have not only made a good choice, but one that has allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief.

My husband and I both have a background in education, so we have always been fairly confident we would be able to supplement academically where our girls may need extra assistance when it comes to their education.  But with family and faith as our top priorities in life, we searched our large city a great deal to find a place where these two aspects of life were not only mentioned, but highlighted and emphasized as being of paramount importance in life.

We found that place in the school that our daughter attends.  It is a place where love and respect for your neighbor is taught and encouraged.  A place where prayer has not vanished, as it has in so many other aspects of our culture.  A place where my daughter not only feels safe, but feels loved and accepted by her fellow peers, the teachers, secretary and principal.  A place of family and faith.

{One possible spot for our new school garden!}

And now a place that emphasizes the importance of being stewards to the earth and caring for God’s creation that He has set before us.  Yes, we have been granted full permission and support to start a school garden!

It is impossible for me to express in words the absolute outpouring of support I have witnessed since first mentioning this project only one month ago.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I have seen a group of adults go above and beyond their call of duty to do what they think is best for kids.  It is truly wonderful and awe-inspiring to be a part of.

And so we begin another new adventure in faith, family…and gardening!  What could be better 🙂  If any of you have experience in working with school or community gardens, please feel free to pass along advice in the comment section of this post.  I will be sure to keep you all updated with the progress of this very exciting project!

New Chapter

And so today on this crisp, cool, beautiful morning, my oldest darling girl began a new chapter of her life.  It was with tearful eyes and a heavy heart that I sent my little girl off to kindergarten.  Although I stood by trying to sequester the sobs wanting to escape my lips, my five-year old waved to me with an I’m-never-looking-back smile on her face, turned on her heel, and walked through the doors of the school.  I stood there frozen, with images of a tiny baby lying next to me in bed in the early morning, with bits of sunlight dancing on her face.  How did that tiny baby grow up so fast, ready to begin her school years so quickly?

A part of me feels like this detachment is so unnatural at such an early age in life.  But my teacher-self knows that this is what is best for her.  She yearns for school.  For the challenges, the friends and the fun.  And although I have found myself struggling within my own head today, questioning whether or not this is what is truly best for my little one, deep down I know that it is. So today I offer forth my most encouraging thoughts to my precious, sweet girl.