A Reward

fullsizerender-2Today we got a little treat. It felt like a reward for 13 hard-earned years of parenting a very passionate child.

I had planned to take this middle son of ours out to dinner for his monumental 13th birthday, some special time with just Don and me. We had gifts to shower on him.

But I didn’t expect to get a few gifts myself. Before dinner, we went to his school for parent-teacher conferences. He was so happy and eager to introduce us to all his teachers. He has told us how much he loves them all. But I was still unsure of what he was like in class and how exactly was this school experience panning out for him.

They totally loved him! I could tell they just genuinely enjoyed him. One teacher said he’s the best gentleman. His art teacher made sure that we knew he had a very special talent and eye. He earned the MVP in PE for the whole 7th grade class, for both his character and performance. His Language Arts teachers said they can always count on him for great questions and responses and are impressed with his writing.His grades are fantastic. They all said he’s a wonderful role model and leader in class and just needs to keep up the great work he’s doing.

I really was blown away and very proud of this crazy kid.

Parenting is not easy. There are many days when it feels like we lose, and it’s hard to see if the effort pays off. But on days like today, the reward is sweet.

The one-on-one time with him was icing on the cake, hearing all of his stories and reflections. I blinked back tears when he told us what he wrote in warm-ups today when asked what he was thankful for: My parents. They love me and want the best for me.

He gets it! That’s what we always wanted – for him to know that he is loved.

That love sure goes deep! And that’s what I celebrate today.

The Mystery and Magic of Copywork

A friend recently asked me about any resources to help her daughter with spelling. I was eager to share all about Copywork with her!

I feel like Copywork has been the biggest secret withheld from the traditional school system today. It’s really like gold. I must admit, that as a high school English teacher in my past life, a grammar/word girl, and a person generally drawn to lists and workbooks, Copywork seemed like a shot in the dark. Or like jumping off a cliff and trusting that we would land all in one piece. I dropped all the other workbooks we used and committed to Copywork early on.

What exactly is copywork? Basically, it is a daily discipline and habit of finding and selecting a special sentence from what you read and copying it down exactly in your own special journal. That’s it. In our adult-world, digital version, it’s like clicking the highlight button on your Kindle. But actually, it’s so different, and its rewards are so vast. By copying a well-written sentence each day, a child is learning spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. all in one fell swoop!! In just a 10 minute exercise!

Now that to me is magic! And it actually really and truly works. From 1st – 4th grade, in addition to reading great works and having your child orally narrate them, you really do not need to do much more around those early years of Language Arts. In 4th-5th grade, you can up the game a little more with adding dictation. And in middle school, they should begin writing their narrations.

But spelling, unless there are other deeper learning issues involved with your child, should be a non-issue if you are able to commit to the fun habit of Copywork. Stay committed to it. Don’t compromise on it daily. Let your child really own it. You’ll see an eagerness and focus grow in them while reading to seek out worthy sentences and great ideas to capture as they compile them in their special book.

Here are a few definitions and ideas about Copywork to leave you with. Let me know if you have any questions about how to make this happen practically!

“Children should transcribe favorite passages. ––A certain sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favorite verse in one poem or another…   But a book of their own, made up of their own chosen verses, should give them pleasure.”  ~ Charlotte Mason (1842-1923)

“The purpose of copywork is to get into the child’s visual (and motor) memory the look and feel of a sentence that is corrrectly composed, and properly spelled, spaced, and punctuated.” Jessie Wise Bauer, The Well Trained Mind

“It is a method, that when used consistently in your homeschooling studies, will improve your child’s penmanship, grammar, and punctuation skills as well as expose him to a variety of writing styles, structures, and techniques.” Debra Reed, {affiliate link} NotebookingPages.com

“Its purpose is to improve the child’s handwriting, expose them to noble thoughts, good sentence structure, rich vocabulary and introduce basic punctuation and capitalization rules. Even grammar is incidentally taught but this is just an added benefit and not the purpose for copywork.” Linda Johnson,Charlotte Mason Help

Work is Good

Several years ago, I thought of a mantra to share with my middle child:

Work Is Hard.

Work Is Good.

Work Takes Time

He would repeatedly get frustrated when his schoolwork or chores were more challenging or time-consuming. I felt like it was because he had wrong expectations and beliefs. Most of our frustrations in life come from missed expectations.

Therefore, if he believed that work is inherently good (not bad), hard (not easy), and that it takes time (not always completed immediately and that there are trade-offs), he would be able to embrace life for what it really is. He could tackle the task at hand without adding the burden of an extra emotional layer of frustration.

Today, I ran up against this same myth with my youngest and was able to share this mantra. I heard her repeat it a few times and could really see a shift in her mindset throughout the day.

And then I knew it really sunk in when she wrote it out on her own as I was reading Little Women to her.


Ironically, this applies to the hard work of parenting as much as it does to our kids! It sure isn’t easy, but it is so good, and such a treat to see the reward of the commitment, love, leadership, and patience that was hard-fought and learned through it all!

Entering Public School

img_4666We have thoroughly enjoyed homeschooling our children for NINE years! I originally intended to just do Kindergarten to Gabe, but it went so well, and our family was grooving with it, so we kept going just one year at a time. I loved the richness of our content, the time in nature, the learning we could customize per child, and especially the freedom it afforded us as a family.

This freedom allowed us to embark on a three year trek as Freejourners around the country, mostly around the Western US, enjoying all the National Parks and beautiful sites and hikes it had to offer. We hopped around from city to city, living in many for a month at a time, meeting amazing people and learning so much along the way.

I feel like our kids were at perfect ages to do that. Honestly, though, any ages are perfect, depending on the desires of a family. But our oldest was 11-14 years as we traveled. We stayed connected to their long-time best buddies and joined sports teams wherever we went, so they were always around kids. But as they were getting older, like most kids, they need us parents less and need more time away from us to grow and stretch around others.

This was the year for our kids. So, we decided that it was a great time for them to head to school! Gabe, our oldest, entered 9th, and Isaac went into 7th grade. (Jadyn will be with us at least another year, learning at home.)

And so far, so good. We’ve survived the first week, with new sleep schedules, packed lunches, piles of papers to sign, weird schedules and deadlines, and even sports practices! Gabe made the JV soccer team, and we were so proud of him!

They lucked out, too, because this was the first year, the entire district went “paperless” – NO Textbooks! They each got a Chromebook and can easily function around Google Apps as they’ve been using it our whole homeschool life!

But it hasn’t been without hiccups. Gabe is fortunate enough to take 2 classes online as an academic athlete in anticipation for his upcoming snowboarding practices. He can just go to the library to work on them. But that first week, he should have been checking in with a teacher in a classroom first. Somehow we missed that detail. So he went 3 days without going. When he finally realized and checked in, the teacher told him he’d get an “unexcused absence.” There were 5 seconds of awkward silence when Gabe asked what that was. The teacher wondered if he was being sarcastic! Gabe was able to share that he’d “been homeschooled all his life,” and really didn’t know and had indeed been working in the library. I think he got off fine.

Other than that, though, the boys are having a great time for the most part, just tired. I love that they can experience school from the “outside-in.” They can observe the lunchtime/classtime dynamics and feel free inside, but noting how people group around. They are engaging with the teachers and are really eager to learn and participate. They want to hold onto their creativity, their deep thinking, and their boldness. I love it. But they also get to experience the “pressure” of deadlines and grades and social expectations. It’s all good.

I have to say, though, I’m still so grateful to be homeschooling another year. We juggle our business and life and schooling from home, so our days are always full and intense. But I still enjoy learning about science with Jadyn, reading about the Kings & Queens of England, watching her blossom into a creative writer, and especially being out in nature, taking in all that life has to offer.

Here’s to another year for us as a family, living and learning together. It looks a lot different for us this year, but we are really looking forward to it!

Best Way to Learn

…is to just jump in and do it. There are many people (myself included sometimes!) who are more comfortable taking their time, thinking about things, planning, and preparing for a situation.

And that is great. But honestly, the best way to learn how to do something is to just do it. I’ve seen this personally this month with a few things like tennis and snowboarding – and have seen this play out in business multiple times over.

I think it’s because the pressure makes us step up with a higher level of focus. When we do not have to “perform” or compete, we can be a little more lax with ourselves. In addition, reality is the best teacher. Everything is theoretical when we are in practice-mode. You discount real-time feedback or the various new emotions involved that can steer a situation.

Sure, there is that moment of fear or feeling like we are not ready yet – but once we get over that feeling, it really isn’t as difficult as we may have imagined. And really, what have we got to lose? Only much knowledge and new skills to gain!


Loving the Variety

I am privileged to engage with such a variety of reading and experiences each day as we creatively walk through this blended life of businesses, school, and life.

Today was one of those days – Podcast Recording, doctor’s appointment, running outside in 20 degree temps, newsletter publications, sent off some Arbonne samples to friends, tennis lessons for kids, speech & debate practice and tailoring a suit for Gabe. And in between those activities, I was able to enjoy audio books during the drives and great reads with the kids.

Here’s what stuck from what I read:

The Miracle Morning

Whether it’s our routines or our relationships, it’s our responsibility to actively and continuously make them the way we want them to be.

There are so many ways to make excuses or blame our circumstances on others. But if we take full responsibility, then we tend to have greater creativity, perseverance, and attitude to weather the difficulties. It’s up to us to make experiences and relationships meaningful.

This book has been a fantastic catalyst for waking up a couple hours before the family and taking care of the important things in life, while enjoying the quiet moments of silence and serenity. It’s really added a new, keen focus to business and life.

The Nightingale

These questions are not about them, but about us. Don’t think about who they are. Think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what will break you. p 126

One of the characters in this book was working through deep regret during the time of Nazi occupation. She had shared a list of names, including her best friend’s, with a German Nazi. The above response was from her mentor as an encouragement on what was most important to focus on. I can only imagine being in her shoes and the internal conflict with every decision.

I think much of life is like this though – we cannot always control the circumstances or the people around us, but we can control our decisions and responses to it. “Who am I?” is the main question to always ask. Continue reading “Loving the Variety”

Morning Routines

How do you start your day?

As for myself, I had been pretty unpredictable over the last several years of life, and would just jump into a work/homeschool/life juggling act each day. Often times, before mid-morning, I’d feel like the day had “gotten away from me.”

Over the last month or so, I’ve returned to a beautiful new habit – waking up earlier than everyone in the house and enjoying an intentional morning routine. I’ve found that it helps me to more eagerly actually get out of bed, as I look forward to those precious quiet moments. I don’t check my phone or email. But I spend some time reading, meditating, journaling, and even stretching or doing some simple exercises. It centers me for the day and helps to give me perspective. I feel more prepared and focused to tackle the variety of tasks and appointments that fill each day.

I began this as a way to get out of an emotional rut I had been in for a few weeks, and found it to be critical for change. But now that I have been practicing it for over a month, I see how it is great for continued growth in all areas of life – business and personal. I’d recommend to people in both situations – those who feel that life is out of control (in any particular or all areas) or those who are content in life but wanting to push towards new growth and bigger dreams.

One resource to start with is The Miracle Morning which gives some practical ideas for how to fill those first minutes of our day. I’d love to hear what your mornings are like and if any questions you have about kick-starting your days more intentionally.