Family Centered Home

{This Moment}

Sophie, looking out on the field behind our barn on our last hay day.

Family Centered Learning:: A Homeschool Meme

It’s been ages since I’ve done a homeschooling meme, but Gae invited me to participate in this one and I thought it would be fun to join in.

1. One homeschooling book you have enjoyed::
Only one?  I can’t possibly choose only one.  I’ll share the one of the first homeschooling books I ever bought:
2. One resource you wouldn’t be without::
Excellent art and craft supplies.  Wool yarns and roving, paints, beeswax for modeling and colouring, felt…
And my prayer rope.
And my RSB.
And our theology bookshelf.  The books we’ve collected over 5 years of diaconate formation are a treasure.  They’ve helped us to understand and pass on our faith to our children.  And that is the ultimate goal for us.
3. One resource you wish you had never bought::
“Catholic Home Schooling” by Mary Kay Clark.  It is seriously the only book I have ever thrown into the trash.
4. One resource you enjoyed last year::
I can’t think of one particular resource that stood out from last year.  However, I can share one from several years ago – way back when we started homeschooling.  While living in England, we had the great fortune to spend some time with the University of Cambridge Archaeology department.  The base were lived on was constructing a new dormitory and inadvertently dug up an ancient Anglo-Saxon burial ground.  The site became an archaeological digsite, close enough to walk to from our quarters.  We spent part of one day chatting with the archaeologist about what they do, and what they were finding.  We returned often to watch their progress.
Since that time, we try to seek out experiential opportunities – including talking to the utility worker down the manhole in front of our home!

5. One resource you will be using next year::
Our new farm!  This is by farm the grandest experiential opportunity we’ve ever had.  The children are already learning about holistic farm management, animal husbandry, and business to name a few.  We are grateful to our friends at Misty Brook Farm for all of their help and their generosity in sharing their vast knowledge and experience with us.
6. One resource you would like to buy::
Ooooh, this is a tough one.  I’m inclined to answer that I’d like a slop sink for the classroom.  A pottery wheel and a loom would also be lovely.  Or a set of wood carving tools…  A blackboard!  A real blackboard would be a treat.
7. One resource you wish existed::
A curriculum that suits our family.  I have been designing our own curriculum for several years, incorporating elements from various approaches.  I don’t like the term “eclectic” because it sounds too disorganized to me.
I started writing and sharing a curriculum a year or so ago, but had to stop because life got busy.  But it’s been brewing in my heart and mind.  I hope that I’ll find time to finish putting together a cohesive curriculum for my younger group to use all the way through.
8. One homeschool catalogue you enjoy reading::
We got a nifty catalogue in the mail not long ago…  It had all kinds of neat kits and playthings.  Hearthsong.
I also have always loved the Lark in the Morning catalogue.  I adore musical instruments.  I adore music.
And this one looks promising.  I hear it’s supposed to open in October. 😉
9. One homeschooling website you use regularly::
I belong to several online groups, which have provided me with support and ideas over these last 15 years, both secular and faithful.
I also read lots and lots of blogs.  I get so much inspiration from other parents who educate their children at home.
10. Tag six other homeschoolers::
If you’re reading this and you are a homeschooling family, consider yourself tagged.  I’d love to see how you answer these items!

Field Trip

Just a little walk through one of our hayfields.  There are so many more plants to photograph, but here’s a small sampling of what caught my eye the day we brought our first cutting of hay in:


Cow vetch. Tangly and beautiful, this forb is loved by goats, cows, and sheep.

Wild Madder or White Bedstraw. The roots are used to make a beautiful red dye.

Queen Anne’s lace – Wild Carrot. Just the prettiest thing in the fields. It reminds me of my daddy.

And because I just can’t get enough of her…

Fleabane is burned to repel insects. It can also be made into a tea to be used as a diuretic.

{Making a Home} Deconstruction

We’ve had several surprises with the restoration of this old farmhouse, most of them pleasant.  This particular problem was not pleasant – nor was it a surprise.  In fact, it’s the piece that worried me most before beginning.  It turned out that my worry was needless.  Our contractors skillfully and swiftly put everything right. The new walls are up now, and it all looks as though there was never anything amiss.


One of the biggest, and most amusing, surprises. Grain. In the walls. It was either used as insulation, or stored away here by mice through years and years of human vacancy.


This is the wall between the library and first floor bathroom. It was rotted through. The floor and baseboard were completely gone.


Looking through the bathroom floor to the basement below.


A closer look. You can see the old plumbing.


The next morning, this was the view from the library.


The entire wall was removed, revealing a view into what will be the mudroom on the right.


Looking through the library wall, down the hallway to where the schoolroom will be.

Rotted studs, v-groove panelling and a new subfloor.


A closer look at the studs. I see a certain beauty in the decay.


Sunshine through the library window illuminates the happy progress of new floors while the walls await fresh reinforcements. A hopeful sight.


The work at the house is about to slow down a bit as we wait for heating to be installed.  We’ve settled on a forced hot air propane system.  Not the geothermal we’d hoped for, but it is efficient and economical.  And it sets us up perfectly for a future geothermal system that will tie seamlessly into our existing ductwork, plus give us a propane back-up.

The new windows are on order, and we’ve been shopping for lighting fixtures, wall and floor tiles, appliances… and fabrics. Yes, I’ve already begun shopping for fabrics for windows and furniture. That makes me quite giddy.

{Making a Home} More Original Details

Please, do come in.  We’re getting so much accomplished with the help of family, friends, and our contractors.  The house has sound sills now – part of our home sits on 250 year old barn beams, preserved from a demolition nearby. The joists are being repaired where needed, and new subfloors being laid.  The large barn doors at the end of our carriage house will be removed soon so that wall can be framed in, and prepared for two large windows.  Later, those walls will be finished to create our schoolroom. The inside wall of the carriage house is about half-way demolished.  That area will be opened up and made into a large mudroom, storage, and staircase to the second floor (which will be made into our office and sewing room).

We expect the plumber to come this week to begin getting our bathrooms and kitchen ready.  That is a very exciting step forward!  But that means that our clawfoot tubs must all go to be re-enameled, toilets and sinks ordered, and shower stalls designed.  Brian and I are going to have a go at constructing the showers ourselves – a project we are both looking forward to tackling.  The most difficult part is making final choices about tiles, fixtures, and layouts.

Here are some more shots of original details in the house.  Most will be preserved.  We have been able to find exact reproductions of everything that can’t be preserved – right down to the door hardware and light switches.

The original doorbell hardware. The bell mechanism is gone now, but we managed to find replica at a reproduction hardware shop.

I love the way the red paint faded from the sun. The door isn't tight enough to be re-used on the house, but we'll save it for another project somewhere on the farm. Perhaps the greenhouse?

Our contractor found an exact copy of this door in one of his books, and the brass hardware is fairly easy to replace as it was a common period design.

The newel posts with their beautiful fluting and acorn capitols will be preserved and replaced, as will the handrails. The spindles will have to be replaced with longer ones for current safety codes.

There are two different spindle designs - one on the first flight of stairs, another on this flight heading up to the third floor bedrooms.

We don't have to do much with this massive built-in wardrobe on the second floor landing. There is a crack on one door, but the hardware only needs a cleaning.

I love these brass drawer pulls. Brian found some loose drawers with identical pulls just lying around the house. We're not sure where they came from, but they'll be re-used, probably in my sewing room or the office.

The interior doors are lovely. They'll need very little done with them. We are fortunate that there are very few painted surfaces. Most of the wood was stained and shellacked.

You are free to draw your own conclusions about this sticker on one of the bedroom doors.

I Love Milk.

The house is changing so quickly now.  I’m so glad that we have recorded what came before.  Perhaps we’ll make a scrapbook for future generations to enjoy. And we’re looking forward to documenting the changes as they come along.


Our oldest daughter Cat was wondering aloud about what the house would be thinking and feeling if it *could* think and feel.  I wonder, too…

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