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Blessings Amidst Difficulties - Collage Friday

It's amazing to me how much homeschooling has refined me as a person and as a mother. God has laid it on my heart to work on PATIENCE this year. He has impressed upon me the importance of RELATIONSHIP and  SLOWING DOWN.  During a week where a lot of things went haywire (ill parents, broken appliances, pre-teen attitudes, etc...), I drew on strength I wasn't quite aware I possessed. 

Homeschooling means your children are privy to all that goes in your life. There is no "when the kids go to school" so you can deal with the messiness of life. My kids are right there dealing with all of it with me, and this week I witnessed that this is a beautiful thing. People talk about homeschoolers being "sheltered" and not ready for the "real world", and I just couldn't disagree more. 

I knew this week was going to be interesting. My dad had surgery over the weekend and had a rough time with recovery. My mom is battling breast cancer at the same time. Let's just say this homeschooling mom's mind was preoccupied this week.

When I offered to go right away and help, my mom said to me, "No. You have an important job homeschooling your children and taking care of your husband. I will let you know if I really need you." While I wish I could have been there, I appreciate that my mom is still taking care of me - just like she has done for the past 42 years. There aren't any words to describe how that feels and I do not take it for granted. 

Thanks for your continued prayers for my sweet mom and dad.

Let's get on with Collage Friday! 

 *This post contains affiliate links.

Take Time for Field Trips

 We enjoyed a wonderful day at Callaway Gardens with friends.

I haven't been as intentional about field trips this year - not sure why this is, but the year isn't over yet and I would like to change that!

The boys enjoyed biking around the trails at Callaway, and Anna and a friend enjoyed chatting while they walked. 

We made a visit to the butterfly house and also took in a great birds of prey show. 

It was a great chance for me to practice using my new camera (well, if you remember I got a new camera just before I went to Ecuador in December) - that picture of the owl was snapped from the BACK of the birds of prey show. My little PowerShot has a great zoom. 

If you are in the Atlanta area, did you know that Callaway has free weekday admission in January and February. Yes, they do! (Something to keep in mind for next year)

Newton, Degas, and Mondrian

Being in Classical Coversations Foundations program has been a huge blessing for my son. This program fits him like a glove, and he adores going each Tuesday to be with his friends. It also inspires him to learn all he can when he goes home. I really can say that he is self-motivated nearly 100% of the time. 

Another thing I just love about CC is the way everything just flows - from the scientists, artists, and musicians... the connections made throughout the program amaze me. If you are in CC you know what I'm talking about.

* Milk art was done while the kids learned about Degas. This was a simple art project that all of the children enjoyed. I have been eyeing the book CC uses for this - Discovering Great Artists. Lo and behold, Grant and I went to GoodWill after our community meeting and I found the book there for $.50! Score. 

* Grant did his weekly presentation about Piet Mondrian. I had talked to him once about an artist that used only primary colors and squares and rectangles intersected by black lines. Out of the blue this week Grant asked me if we could learn about that artist and could he make works like his?   It turned out to be such a great teachable moment because Mondrain was living during the time of WWI - which is right where we are in history. Grant's been using his Sharpies to draw several Mondrian inspired pictures.  I love it! 

*FYI: Sharpies are still on sale through Amazon. We use them for map tracing, art projects, making colored schedules for the week, and so much more. 

*Grant was very interested in Isaac Newton this week because of a book I had picked up at a used booksale. My friend Jimmie, of Jimmie's Collage, has a cute Three Laws of Motion window book printable on her site, which Grant made this week. He also watched a funny LEGO movie about the 3 Laws of Motion. 


1. We are thankful for a middle school boy at church that is handing down copious amounts of LEGOS to Grant. Grant has been in HEAVEN!

2. Next week on the blog I will be reviewing Zeezok Publishing's music appreciation curriculum. While we use SQUILT as our main music appreciation curriculum, I have long admired Zeezok's composer biographies and have loved the chance to use this in depth curriculum with the kids!

3. Mocha Latte - in the Keurig. I have sworn off Starbucks (too expensive) but still love a latte. This was the perfect solution - for less than 1/2 the price.

4.  I've been making a simple concotion that everyone loves. 1 cup dark chocolate almond milk, 4 sliced strawberries, 3 ice cubes.  Blend and enjoy.  Yum!

5. Sometimes I am struck by how quickly Anna is growing and what a beautiful young lady she is becoming. I snapped this shot of her while she was eating an early dinner before going to youth group with a friend. I tried a new recipe -- Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili.  Two thumbs up from Anna!   It was really good!

6. Baseball practice resumed this week. My little boy LOVES baseball.

7. My dryer died this week. Not to go into a long story, but PLEASE get your dryer vents cleaned once a year. I'm so thankful we didn't have a fire. I'm NOT thankful we have the longest dryer vent in history. I am thankful for a dear man who came out clean the vent for me (who also happens to be a homeschool dad). 

Other Updates:

The SQUILT Music Appreciation curriculum is on sale for 30% off until Monday. Use code WINTER at checkout! I am in the process of finishing the latest volume, and I will be at the Great Homeschool Convention  in just a few weeks with the curriculum on display.  This is a HUGE step for me - one that is involving major amounts of time and courage. 

 The series about homeschooling "big kids" continued this week with a post about fostering independence in your middle schooler. I've created a new page here on the blog specifically for middle school homeschool. Take a peek!


I'm thankful for the chance to come to this place each Friday and read so many encouraging words from all of you, and then visit your blogs and read about your weeks, too. It's my favorite time of the week. 

I  hope you'll join me!  

If you'd like to link, you can do so in a couple of ways:

  • Enter your link below. Be sure to link to your post with photo collages and link back to this post (or include the Collage Friday button on your blog).
  • Share your photo collage(s) on Instagram, FB, G+, or Twitter - use the hashtag #collagefriday so I can find you!

Reader Comments (17)

Hi Mary,
I'm so glad to read how well the year is going for you and your kids! I love following along as you navigate the homeschooling and middle school waters one year ahead of me. :) Prayers for continued blessings in your homeschool and health for your parents.

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi @ Home Schoolroom

Baseball has started up for us again too. We love it, along with Lacrosse - so good for my kids! Field trips are awesome aren't they ;) Continued prayers for your parents. Have a great weekend!

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Forever, For Always

I agree with you 100%...that our children are not sheltered from real life. We have that, too. A lot of people that don't homeschool don't understand that. Hugs and prayers for you all.

I hope your Dad recovery is quick and painless. We will pray for them both.

I love what you said about your Mom still taking care of you. Even though I am 'grown' I miss that so much since my Mother died. I know the last few years would have been less stressful if she had still been alive. I also agree about kids being in the real world. Keilee always knows what is going on in our lives because it concerns both of us. Looks like you had a wonderful week. Thank you for hosting this Collage Friday every week. I don't think I would blog if not for it! :)

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

It's like you knew Newton' s three laws were in my head for next week. Thanks for the resources! I'm sorry for the tough time that your parents are going through. I'm sure it's hard to be away from them when they're battling illnesses.

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Ray

Your days are always filled with so much fun! I love how you incorporate so much art. That's one of the things my kids love about homeschooling- art can take place more than once a week!

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

So sorry to hear about your sick family...hugs! Daughters growing up can be a rough ride but in the end all the tears and struggles done in love are worth it. Hang in there with that and take it one day at a time. I love my K-cup machine for a fresh cuppa something midday, haven't tried the flavored cups yet. I am sure my kids would have loved CC....sometimes it would be nice to have a do-over. Have next week is better!

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBarb- Harmony Art Mom

I'm sorry to hear that your parents are ailing. My dad was battling cancer while Bethany was too and then my mother had a stroke. It was a very rough time for us. I'll be praying for your precious family.

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia

TOTALLY agree that homeschooling does not mean sheltering kiddos- it means exposing them to life- real life- with their parents' guidance! I hope your parents heal, and that you can find a way to not worry about them too much during this tricky time!

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWonder Mom

I'm with you on the intentional field trips. We are aiming to do more of this this year.

The Zeezok Publishing's music appreciation curriculum is our all time favourite composer study read alouds :)

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChareen

I too have to agree that our kids are not sheltered from real life. Amber sees all that goes on with our life and all that I have to do to maintain the house. This past summer she saw EVERYTHING that went into selling our old house that we had been renting for 7 years. She went with me while all the contractors were in and she dealt with all the realtor stuff. It doesn't get much realer than that experience.

Sorry to hear about your dryer this week, at least it was warm enough to dry some things outside and you learned a lesson for future safety.

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

I am praying for you and your parents. I also had something similar happen this week . My mom had a surgery a week ago and is having some problems, I have been here, there and everywhere !! We get the school work done and then by noon head up to her house to give her meds in her pic line.God is so good to give us strength though. Praying for good health and peace for you and your family :) Amy

February 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

We will be praying for your parents. I could not agree with you more about you homeschooling statements. Our Tom Sawyer loves Mondrian. It looks like another great week.
Blessings, Dawn

March 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

you are SO right - "when the kids go to school" sounds absurd to our ears. Hooray for new legos!

Praying for your family today.

March 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStef Layton

I am saying prayer for your parents, Mary. As always your week, in spite of the challenges, was filled with cool stuff. I have been using Discovering Great Artists for years, with my older boys and with co-ops - it is fabulous. Michaelangelo is always a favorite - something about laying on your back while painting appeals to kids! Our baseball season starts this week and Nolan is really excited. :)

March 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I love the sound of all the connections and serendipities in your homeschool this week. That feels so great, doesn't it?

Your parents are in my prayers, Mary.

Prayers for you and your family!

We love chocolate almond milk, 1 banana, a few strawberries, and peanut butter in the blender with ice for a special treat. YUm! I think I'll go make one right now;) Ithink I'm going to try your slow cooker recipe today too (it's a snow day here and that sounds yummy!).

Have a great week:)

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

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