*Comments closed as of 5:30AM Sunday morning!
I’ve got two farmhouse cheddars in the cheese fridge this morning. This is the first attempt at hard cheese I’ve made in years. See, I didn’t have a proper place for them to age and cure before, so they would mold before it was time to eat them. Surface mold, I don’t mind. You can just cut that off and keep eating. But this was a deep down kind of mold, the flavor of which permeated the whole cheese, even where it wasn’t visible. So I’m trying two new things this time around. The first is a special refrigerator for aging the cheese. It’s actually a beverage cooler; it comes with scalloped racks for holding bottles of wine. Unlike an ordinary refrigerator, though, you can set it for a warmer temperature, as high as 60°. Perfect for cheese!
The other thing is a paste type of wax. I worry that maybe I wasn’t able to get a tight enough seal between my wax and my cheese, which allowed mold to grow between. If I apply the first layer, at least, with this paste wax, maybe it’ll all be more secure against our many and varied colors of mold. You should see how many different kinds we can grow! Honestly, before I tried cheese, I didn’t know we had so many molds to work with!
After this week, I will relegate my cheese making to afternoons or weekends. Cheese wants regular attention and I let it interfere with school hours a bit this week. While I admit that there is much to be learned over a pot of curds, the little ones still need to learn their reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic.
You know, one of the many wonderful things about homeschooling is our tendency to see opportunities for learning and reinforcement across a broad range of experiences and venues. Education becomes a lifestyle, something we do as naturally as breathing, and nothing is safe from becoming a “teachable moment”. (Be subtle, though, lest the children catch on and lose interest!) I think this is one of homeschooling’s most powerful benefits, but, if not exercised judiciously, it can also become one of its greatest downfalls.
A few weeks ago, I found myself at the grocery store during public school hours, replenishing our supply of produce. Several of the children were with me, and the clerk, who is always a bit too familiar with us, remarked on the educational value of our errand that day. First, that always baffles me, that people, both within and outside of the homeschool community, believe that you can get a decent education at the grocery store. Second, several of the children this clerk was eying are taller than I am! She is apparently one of those people who “doesn’t like math”.
You can’t be one of those people.
As parents, and especially as home educators, we have to have to have the foresight to look ahead through the years. This is a long-range project, raising children, and we have to keep the end in mind so that we can guide our children steadily and surely toward the life God has in store for them.
To me, this means preparing my children for college. Oh, I don’t care whether or not they actually attend, but they will not be hampered in any way by the simple fact that they studied at home. And so elementary school becomes preparation for middle school, middle school for high school, and then, finally, we get four last beautiful years to set them up for college and/or whatever else may lie beyond family and home.
The preschooler who counts apples at the grocery store will be, more quickly than you think, ready for precalculus.
That is why the grocery store does not count as math class. Viewing the movie version of a novel at the local theater is not literature class. Baking cookies is not science or math. And neither Klingon nor Elvish count toward the foreign language requirement.
I know that sometimes you need a break, and that’s okay. I’m just asking you to call it what it is and not pretend it’s school.
Sometimes, though, what you need is more than a break. Sometimes, you have this bone-deep weariness, and all the joy you ordinarily find in your children seems to have been sapped away, and you wonder if maybe you aren’t cut out for homeschooling after all. I know that feeling, too. Homeschooling is hard work. It takes a level of dedication and virtue beyond what is usually expected of mere mortals. It’s exhausting. And lonely. Add in these long, dark days of winter, everyone restless and cooped up, and it’s a recipe for burn-out.
I’d like to offer one of you a gift: Elizabeth Foss’s Restore Workshop, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
I think she does not know who I am, but I’ve known her through her book, Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home, since very early in my homeschooling career, and I’ve known her online almost since I first started blogging in 2005. (I think she started her own blog, In The Heart of My Home, in 2006. 🙂 ) I remember reading her chapter on burn-out with a wave of relief, and I’ve enjoyed her gentle reflections on motherhood and marriage in the years since. I’ve also re-read that burn-out chapter many a time, and I’m not prone to rereading very much of anything!
I find myself now in need of renewal, and so, when she announced the other day that she was offering this workshop again this Lent, I signed up. Maybe you are need of some restoration and renewal, too?
I can only afford to give this gift to one reader, so if you’d like to be entered into a drawing for a place in the online Restore workshop, just leave a comment. Share a little about yourself and your family and your homeschool. No need to tell what your struggle is. 🙂 I’ll draw a winner on the evening of Saturday, January 31 and announce it Sunday morning. Then we’ll get you all signed up!
I’m not in any way affiliated with the Restore team, and Elizabeth Foss does not know me from Adam, as my mother would say. 🙂 I just wanted to share this little thing with another mother who may be struggling, too. Lots of love, my friends!