Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Last night I heard a rustling sound coming from our "school" room. I realized our Wooly bear had transformed into an Isabells moth!




Grandma Hegarty (my mother) and Colleen(my sister) and her three children came to visit us today.Mom brought a delicious Quiche (Molly Katzen's pepper and onion Quiche). We even squeezed in some crafts!!!

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Mary Margaret, our four and a half year old, was filled with questions this morning. I was tidying up my room, and she was lying on my bed, talking and asking questions. Here are a few of the questions she asked:

1. (side note: we live in an old house, and a few of the windows have the original beveled glass in them) " Mommy, why is the glss in those little windows all shiny and wavy looking?"

2. "I think it's so much nicer to have the curtain open in the morning so I can see the sunshine. What makes the sun shine?"

3.(side note: my music box was playing 'chim chiminee, chim chiminee, chim chim cheeree..' from Mary Poppins) "Mommy, is this sad music or happy music? I think it's sad music."

My point in sharing Mary Margaret's questions with you is to exemplify what, in my opininon, true education is all about. I actually did discuss each of her questions with her, and whenever I am able, I answer the children's questions or we look up the answers together. This is the natural way to learn.

We do not use formal curriculum in our home school. I must confess, though, at times I have doubted our "free" learning ways. There have been times when I have tried using a formal curriculum(usually at the beginning of a school year), and we last for about two days, if that.

This year was a little different. Our oldest son, Will, decided he wanted to try highschool. We were surprised and reluctant at first to let him go, but he wanted to make more friends his age and experience school. So this was the real test. After years of homeschooling(he was homeschooled from the beginning), no testing, no school(except some math books he worked through), no formal writing instruction, etc.., Will was entering school-in three weeks!!! I was a bit nervous, I have to admit!

We received Will's first report card with some angst(even though I don't put much stock in grades, this was sort of a reflection of what we had been doing at home!) We were so happy to see he had received all 'A's! I say this not to brag, at all. Even if he hadn't done so well, we would not be upset.

My relief was more due to the fact that after all these years of hoping and trusting in *him* to learn what he needed, when he needed it, were coming to fruition. Now I know for my other children that I am not "harming" them by allowing them to pursue their own interests at their own paces. If you only knew the anxiety I have felt over this issue, you would understand my relief!!!

My dear friend, Lissa, (http://www.melissawiley.net/) sent me a copy of Sandra Dodd's (http://www.sandradodd.com/) inspiring book," Moving a Puddle" ,two summers ago. Lissa and I read and reread Sandra's book, discussing every nook and cranny of each essay. I came to the conclusion after these discussions that unschooling is where my heart is, but is this really the best for my children? My answer is a resounding , "YES!" Children learn best when they want to learn, just like adults. If there is something they need to learn to pursue a different path that they have chosen, they will be motivated to learn that, too. There may be times when I suggest a book to my children , but they are not forced to read it. And I am constantly "strewing" (Sandra's term) the house with a banquet of learning opportunities for them to choose from.

I have struggled in the past with confidence in my educational philosophies, and as my nearest and dearest will tell you, I have been known to doubt. My sweet sister, Colleen, who also homeschools her children, has been very patient to listen to my ramblings and philosophizing about unschooling. I think three basic ideas have come from my philosophical wrestling: 1.Children want to learn 2.Children learn best when they are pursuing knowledge on their own, making connections and are interested. 3. Learning should be a JOY!!!

I was not planning on getting so philosophical on my blog, but I think we all need encouragement. I thank my kind friend ,Carrie, for helping me to see this. I would never want anyone to come away from my blog feeling discouraged or that s/he is not doing enough. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the need to make our homes joyful places where learning is a natural way of life. Every time I have fallen into the "have-to" learning mode, my children have dreaded the mornings. This is not what I want for them!! I want them to wake up looking forward to each day and the opportunities it brings-the sun is rising, not setting!!
Thank you for bearing with me, and I wish you many days of fruitful, joy-filled learning!!



Monday, March 30, 2009


The Mountains and sky were spring fresh today, reminding me of a painting Will did a few years back. This painting is hanging on my bedroom wall, and it is one of the first things I see when I wake up.


Those of you who know me well know that I am an avid book collector. O.K.-I admit it-I'm a book junkie-even in this day and age of computers where we could have access to almost any conceivable knowledge, there's nothing like a book(in my humble opinion). I have been known to come away from book-sale-give-away days with hundreds of books!And my poor husband just keeps cranking out the bookshelves....my dad(Hi, Dad!) always gets a laugh out of that fact.
I am writing tonight of an incident that sheds light and justification on my book-collecting compulsion. I need to back up to earlier today. I am constantly making decisions on what to keep and what to give away in our home. This constant process does not just concern books, as we have many generous friends who are constantly sharing with us. We do love this, but I can only handle so much stuff. Now when it comes to clothes or toys, I don't have to think to hard about what we "need" and don't "need." But when it comes to books, I can think of a reason to keep just about any book. Well, I picked up this cute, little, 1960's-ish book on Vienna (the capital of Austria). I thought to myself," This is really neat(a small book filled with all-color photos of Vienna, including the old 1950-60's cars, and some text). Maybe some day when the kids want to see a picture of Vienna, I can whip this book out and show them." Then I thought a little more, andsaid to myself, "No. That is so ridiculous. We don't need to keep this." Then into the good will bag the book went. Then the good will bag went out to the trunk of the car right away(so we don't go through it again!)
Fast forward six hours. We are on our way to Skatetown for the church skating party. We are listening to "Beethoven Lives Upstairs," A clever CD on the life of Beethoven. Oliver yells from the back, "Mom, where is Vienna?" (the cd just mentioned how people in Vienna highly valued music, and as a consequence some of the world's best musicians lived there). I start explaining to Oliver where Vienna is, and it dawns on me in the most exciting way that IN THE TRUNK OF MY CAR, I HAVE A BOOK ON VIENNA-HAH!!!! It was the most amazing cooincidence. We were not planning at all to listen to this CD, and quite frankly, I must admit(humbly) that I did not know Beethoven lived in Vienna, anyway!!!!!So I was able to show the kids at that moment, Vienna! Then I was even further humbled when Ben said, "Oh, I know what Vienna is like. I read the book this morning."(when it was in the good will pile) Needless to say, the book came back into the house, and Emily's last words after kissing me goodnight were, "Mom, where is that Vienna book........."

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Anna loves April, our kitten. Tonight I captured this video of her playing with April. I think it's so funny how Anna knew to use the dish towel to tease the cat.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Answer to yesterday's mystery art: (insert drum roll)...it's Bob Dylan!

Here's today's mystery art. What is this a picture of?:


We had some fun "playing" in the mud, digging a ditch for the drain pipe. The boys were not so eager to have me tske their pictures!

Spring is Here

Here are the chicks!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Simple Pleasures Of Childhood

Ahhh..to be a child again!

Mystery Drawing...Who can guess who it is? (I know the lighting is awful) might try to get a better picture tomorrow (Drawing is by Will-15):

Montessori In The Car

Oliver, our eight yr. old,captured this video of Anna on the way home from baseball. He couldn't wait to show me.

Baseball Blooper

Sam had his first baseball practice today.....about 1/4 of the way through the coach approached us to say he didn't know who we were. To make a long story short, we were practicing with the wrong team...oops! He had fun any way ....

The other children had fun at practice, too. Anna played on the

Thursday, March 26, 2009


As I said, I am new to this! The very top picture is the view from our back yard, then from our front yard, then the girls, then the house!

These are some random intro pictures! THe top picture is the view from our front yard. The bottom picture is our home(always a work in progress), and the middle picture is one of the girls!

I am new to the blogging world- as I was (and am a little still) afraid that I might spend too much time doing this, but for the sake of family and friends to keep up with our daily happenings, I will give this a try!