How we learn is how we teach. Maybe?

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I woke up early Saturday morning — what I thought was early.

Friday afternoon we had finished the first Harry Potter book, and as promised, we curled up with our ice cream bars Friday night and watched the first movie.

(I’ve been waiting so long for this! It actually was kind of magical!)

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But I assumed the kids would sleep in after a late-night movie.

This was part of The Strategy.

It was a several-part Strategy that I put in place because my husband was out of town for the weekend, and if I’ve learned anything about handling things successfully when he is gone, it’s that you have to follow The Plan.

The Plan is different than The Strategy — it goes: “Take it easy on yourself.”

The Strategy is more involved, but requires: paper plates, Amy’s enchiladas, ice cream, a good movie or two and maybe a new game.

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If I had adhered to The Plan strictly, I would have bought the game earlier.

Because I’ve recently learned something about myself — Sometimes, I am not good at learning things with my kids.

Sometimes I am. It depends on what we’re doing.

(Latin — we’re learning together, and it’s AWESOME!)

But games? New recipes?

I just need a moment on my own to work things like that out or else I can get a little cranky and frantic.

Cranktic.

(I almost called this post “3 Flipping Minutes.” But that was the very part-time single-parenting talking.)

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And so here is where I confess that I got up early Saturday morning, but it wasn’t early enough, and so I let my kids watch TV while I taught myself to play Bananagrams.

(It’s not that hard of a game. It only took one episode.)

But I knew it would set us up for a better outcome if I just took the time I needed to figure it out before introducing it to my kids.

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The bigger lesson here is that I’m figuring out something about how to best teach my children.

If I try to teach them from a place of cranktic, it doesn’t really work. It certainly isn’t enjoyable for any of us.

And that’s not what I want my kids to remember when they look back on these years of us learning together.

As important as it is to take our children’s learning styles into account, I think it’s equally important that we consider the conditions we need to be the very best teacher we can be.

For me, that means taking some time on my own once in a while to figure things out.

Have you figured out what you need to best teach your kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

When you are FREAKING OUT about homeschooling.

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I get the calls for our homeschool group.

That’s kind of my main (volunteer) group job. (I get the emails too.)

And so, I hear from a lot of parents who are FREAKING OUT about homeschooling.

“No one told me this was going to be so expensive!” they say breathless. “A $1,000 curriculum? Who has that kind of money?”

“We’re getting done by lunch time, and I have no idea what to do the rest of the day.”

“He hates it. He hates it all. Everything. I think I made a huge mistake.”

I do my best to calm their worried souls. A lot of the time, people just need to talk to someone who isn’t going to judge or tell them they are crazy to  homeschool.

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I try very hard not to push. I’ve met plenty of families who try homeschooling and decide it isn’t for them.

And that’s OK.

It’s for us, right now, but I never try to push homeschooling on anyone.

(I don’t work on commission.)

But the truth is, homeschooling can feel scary sometimes. Especially when you’re just starting out.

So this is what I try to tell people who are overwhelmed:

  • Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. There are whole books written on how to homeschool for free.
  • You don’t have to buy a pre-packaged curriculum. Some parents really like the convenience, but you can absolutely piece your own curriculum together based on your child’s interests, your own strengths and how your child learns.
  • You actually don’t need a curriculum at all.
  • You don’t have to teach pre-school. In most states, kids aren’t required to start school until much later — usually 6 or 7. Play, read, bake. Enjoy your days together.
  • Homeschooling doesn’t have to take as many hours as traditional schooling.

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  • You don’t have to replicate school at home.
  • If your child has just left public/private school, you both might need a little bit of time to “deschool.
  • It’s OK to dump a curriculum that isn’t working.
  • Not all curriculum are created equal.
  • There’s going to be a learning curve.
  • Finding support is huge. That can be family, friends, a homeschool support group, etc.
  • If anyone is crying on a regular basis (including you), something isn’t working.
  • Everyone has bad days. Even the lady on the internet who seems really together.
  • Don’t listen to the doubters. They lack imagination.

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  • Relationships are more important than math. The math will come, but not if a kid is shattered.
  • Homeschooling is an industry. Don’t keep spending money looking for answers. Stop. Breathe. Say a prayer. Dream. Take your kids on a nature hike.
  • The worry will destroy you. It will fill you with self-doubt if you let it. Focus on love.
  • It gets easier.
  • Never quit on your worst day. Go out for sundaes instead.
  • If you are concerned about “doing it right,” you already are. Because the first thing you need as a homeschooler is love for your students.

In fact, I’d put that in the Homeschooling Basics Kit, right along with good read-alouds, a sense of humor, chocolate, tea, and friends.

I don’t actually sell these kits, but I think someone should. :)

Making hand sanitizer oil

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This is a repost from last year. We’ve been using this hand sanitizer for a year now, and we still love it! Happy almost-weekend, friends!

We are not a neat and tidy family.

We make messes. We get dirty.

Like actual dirt.

We love animals.

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And so, we get disgusting things on us sometimes.

A few weeks ago, that sort of disgusting thing was some chicken poo, after a very tiny chicken, eager for her lunch,  jumped in a puddle.

It went everywhere. The germaphobe in me sprayed herself in the face with a hose.

It still wasn’t gone, but sometimes, you just have to do something.

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So when we got home, we made this hand sanitizer.

I used the essential oils recommended in this recipe, but with an oil base, so it was … free.

That meant combining just shy of 4 ounces of grape seed oil with about 40 drops total of clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils.

It smells amazing — it’s like Clean Christmas.

I’ve considered making more, bottling it, and giving it away as Christmas gifts and actually calling it “Clean Christmas,” but then I would have to retell the chicken story.

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Speaking of which, at this point you could be wondering why I didn’t turn to Purell when I got poo-blasted. If you google recipes for hand sanitizer, you can read about natural immunity and biofilm, and lots of other details.

But the skinny is that I didn’t have any of the stuff in the squirt bottle with me.

We try not to use it in our family, although sometimes, like when you’re hitting a fair or another event when you know hand washing is going to be challenging and there are portable toilets on site … well, a little “real” hand sanitizer feels like a very nice thing to have in your back pocket. We like this brand.

We just prefer to keep it a “back pocket” type of thing.

This stuff, on the other hand, with it’s skin-softening grape seed oil, and it’s Folgers-kid-comes-home-from-college smell?

It will definitely be our new go-to while out and about.