“Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, “hopeth all things.” But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation.”
– Hannah Coulter, a novel by Wendell Berry
I’ve been itching to write to you, dear readers. I ponder on many thoughts throughout my day and question which I should share and which are best left to the wind.
As a homeschooling mama, I’m in a slower season of life. Although quieter on my end, I’ve been growing in many ways. I’ve found it life-giving to be learning alongside my children as we Follow the Drinking Gourd on a rugged path to freedom, take another look at the beginning starting in Genesis while pausing to examine rocks and minerals, explore what it means for one group of people to gain their freedom while we strip it away, lawlessly, from those that claimed this land before us. Reading from living books has given my children many thoughts to think about, me too.
Besides reading with my children, I’ve also been spending time in mother culture, reading books for myself that I may further my own education. I’ve been reading novels, biographies, and volumes from Charlotte Mason’s series on home education. I read just a bit each day which allows me to finish a book in 2 to 3 weeks.
Spiritually, I’ve been diving deeper into the word of God than I have in a long time. I’m seeing things that I haven’t seen in the Word of God before. Thanks to people coming alongside me from my home church, I’m growing and learning who God is and who I am not. Oh, the joy it brings me to be living life alongside believers that not only know the word of God but live it and teach it well.
As you can see, with all of these living ideas ruminating through my mind each day, I have many things I’d like to share but unfortunately find myself with just a bit of time to spare. Yes, I’m still very much keeping up to date with nutrition and developing good recipes along the way. One of which I’ll be sharing with you in just a couple of days. A gluten-free fudge brownie recipe you’re going to love!
Before I share the recipe, however, I wanted to share with you a bit about our first month back in homeschool.
We’re into the fifth week of our new year in a Charlotte Mason education. We’ve finally hit our sweet spot. It’s taken a bit of time to get here though. In all honesty, the first couple of weeks were very difficult for me.
This year Little Mama has begun her formal studies alongside her brothers. Trying to figure out her timetables while at the same time coordinating my older boys’ timetables and trying to finish it all by noon was hard. My boys are not completely independent, nor are they ready just yet, so trying to work with them individually on certain subjects was taking a lot out of me.
I spent the first couple of weeks revising our schedule again and again. Finally, what I realized is that I needed to combine some of our subjects. For now, I’ve combined geography and am doing nature lore for Little Mama during our morning time which all three of my children are enjoying very much. These changes have made a world of difference in our homeschool and I’m feeling less stress and more peace throughout our day. The last thing I’m starting to look at is combining our history studies. I’m still up in the air about it and plan to reevaluate during our break week.
Friends, often times, many images and words you see online seem beautiful, good, and lovely. If you spend time on Instagram and follow Charlotte Mason homeschoolers you will have probably seen many beautiful images streaming down your feed portraying lovely, peace-filled days.
Can I share a bit of reality with you? It’s not always that romantic.
I spent many days this past month dwelling on my children’s education. I found myself questioning if they were doing well enough in school and if I wasn’t doing them more detriment than good.
I’ve found that in the deep of my worries I end up placing expectations upon my children. When I read the quote I shared at the beginning of this post from Wendell Berry’s book, Hannah Coulter, I started weeping. Halfway through reading this novel, I still wasn’t sure what I thought about it but upon finishing it I realized that it was just what I needed to read. It’s a book about the seasons of life. Its joys and its sorrows, how quickly it fades, and how it should be savored, day to day.
After reading the passage above, I realized I was placing too many expectations on my children and that was taking our joy away. I want to be able to hope for my children and help them achieve good things but I do not want to turn that hope into my expectations for who they are or who they should become.
I feel I was drifting there.
In a Charlotte Mason education, Charlotte Mason writes, again and again, to simply deliver the feast of living ideas, to not hinder their minds, and to allow the Holy Spirit to do the work of education.
I think what hinders me the most is the noise, the distractions of how to perfectly execute her methods at home. In my own mind, I’ve created an illusion of how my children should respond to living lessons and how they should behave and act throughout the day.
I can easily forget Charlotte Mason’s number one principal, children are born persons.
I seem to forget that each child is an individual with a different character and learning style. Goodness, some days, they just have bad days. Sometimes, my kids just need a hug or five extra minutes on the trampoline. For me, I’ve been building the habit of patience, through much prayer, that I may be able to better understand my children and where they are at. I want to be able to help and encourage my children through challenging times in lessons, this thing called puberty (oh man), or if they just need a hug because they’re having a bad day (yes, we are all still grieving).
What has helped me over the past two weeks is to turn off a lot of the noise. I am very appreciative of the many resources that help in educating using the Charlotte Mason method at home but I’m confident in my knowledge of her principles and am choosing to deliver them according to what works best for my family.
That, my friends, has brought rest and peace into my home.
As we ended our fourth week, we were all able to say, “that was a good week.” That meant the world to me! Now that we’re halfway into our fifth week, our days are truly filled in truth, beauty, and goodness.
Since my heart has been happy, I enjoy baking and cooking for my family. So stop on by this Friday for a honey-sweetened, gluten-free, almond fudge brownie recipe. My family loves it and I’m sure yours will too!
In His Name,
Oh, by the way, I’m excited to share with you that my eldest son Nehemiah will be joining me on the blog this school year. He’ll be cooking, photographing, and writing up two recipe posts per month. How cool, right?! To start, he’s chosen a Spanish recipe, beef cooked in red wine or carne adobada y guisada en vino tinto. It’s a recipe from his Abuela’s cookbook that he’s eager to cook for you.
How about you? Have you started your homeschool year? How’s it going? Any hardships or successes you’d like to share? Please comment below!