Thursday, March 4, 2021

Celosia's Latest Form - Micro School

 Guess who is back to public school today? 


Racoon went back awhile ago, as soon as school reopened. I kept Kitty at Celosia, its most recent form a COVID micro-school at my mother's house, because it has been so fun and she is doing so well. I figured that we would keep going until the end of the year, then a spring day came when I heard her and her one classmate reminiscing about school. She sounded a bit wistful and I decided to look into it. I should know that some things are like a chemical reaction. Once it starts to go there is no turning back.

So here I sit in our empty classroom, wondering what exactly have I done. Kitty sat at a desk with her name on it. The minute the teacher started passing out school supplies and her friends said hello, I knew they had her heart. It is bittersweet. There are things that are better for her about our micro-school, lots of snacks since she's a grazer, an encouraging atmosphere for growth, and two wonderful, highly invested teachers (my mom and myself), if I may say so.  :) I've found some lovely materials and curriculum that I love, so I am sad to not be able to finish that out. It is very quiet.

But there is a part of me that missed the quiet. I loved the excitement of creating our micro-school and the energy we had with our students. I've loved the projects and the freedom and the fun. There have been challenges and personality quirks and hard days too. I don't quite know how to take it all in. I have to go check on Kitty at lunch, so part of me is not sure what I'll find and if this is really it. 

Seven children were part of Celosia School during this year of COVID craziness. We started out with a pod of two little girls, Bunny and Ducky, Kitty, and Racoon at my house with my mother coming there to help with pre-K, two in first, and one in fourth. Then over the summer we decided to switch to my mom's and step things up for the fall. Celosia became a second grade and fifth grade micro-school, with just Bunny coming in and out, S as Caleb's classmate, then switching things out to H and J. 

Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat, and I probably wouldn't hesitate to have slightly larger classes, maybe 3 and 3, or even 4 and 4 if the space lent itself to that many. I think a 1:2 and 1:4 ratio of teachers to children are perfect in a micro-school. Recess with mixed ages was hard. Getting started and moving through the schedule on time was hard. Watching the kids grow and bloom, that was great.

Thank you, Celosia. Until we meet again.

P.S. Apparently Microsoft Bing knows something that I don't. I switched out the banner today for more pictures of Celosia and the description from Wikipedia, along with our school motto, "Burning yet not consumed... I must go see it!" from Exodus 3:2-3. As I was searching to see what came up, this did... :0

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

What I will miss most

 That perhaps seems like an odd title since I have not been on here for awhile. Am I doing Celosia School? What has been happening? Why will I miss it? Let me fill you in.

When the first COVID lockdown hit Washington State in March, my kids, my husband, and I suddenly found ourselves at home. The kids' school was scrambling to find a way to do school online, and I had my own troubles with converting to online college. On top of all this, a week in, I found out that my father was dying from cancer that had spread to his brain. He had been declining for the last year or so, but he went to the hospital on March 26 for stroke-like symptoms, and then he was dead on April 6, 2020.

My whole life fell apart. 

By the end of April, my crisis peaked and I knew something had to give. I withdrew from Chemistry, keeping just Precalculus I. I asked my mom to help me school the kids and we added in two little girls, who I will call Bunny and Ducky. Racoon, now 10, and Kitty, now 7, completed my first set of 4 students. Although just for a month or so, we had a lot of fun and managed to get through a bit of learning. The highlight was visiting Bunny and Ducky's baby bunnies.

Over the summer, I saw the writing on the wall and realized that public school would not be back in session in the fall. Raccoon has been at the same school since kindergarten. Although his school did the best they could, moving to online learning for fourth grade was very stressful for him, so after much angst, I decided to pull him to homeschool for the beginning of fifth grade. Kitty has been in and out of the same public school, sometimes there and sometimes homeschooling.

My mother is the hero of this version of Celosia School, coming along side me despite her grief and newfound widowhood and the mountain of paperwork and tasks that accompany the death of a spouse. She is a teacher extraordinaire, and with her at my side, I finally had the courage to take the leap into full-time schooling again. I call it Mini-School. We added in two more students for our second group of four. Bunny came but Ducky stayed home, so we added in another boy. After Christmas, we had a third cohort, with two boys joining us instead. 

It has been beautiful and hard and good.

And now it is evolving again into the next version of Celosia school. We have been doing 5th and 2nd, but our 5th is pausing while Raccoon tries public school again, which is opening up next week. We're doing a two week trial period and then we will decide where he stays for the rest of the year. 

I will miss seeing the boys reading their books, something we were just getting into. I will miss morning Table Time, which became Couch Time, and I will miss lighting each of their candles and watching them play. I won't miss the occasional disagreements and the pressure of being on all the time.

Dear Self,

Who would have guessed we'd be here now. Again. I am curious about what the future holds. Everything you wrote about Celosia School years ago is still true, and still sparked a fire in me when I read it again. Turns out most school names are already taken, but Celosia is unique, so we remain with that name. We are about to launch into a unit on Superstar/Superhero Academy. I'm excited. Now I'd better go because reading time is over.



Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Homeschooling K

Well look at that. I am here again, homeschooling kindergarten for Kitty. She is doing well with a hybrid of time at home with me and T/W/Th at Grama School (was pre-k last year but this year Grama is tailoring some activities to Kitty's level.)

On the road again... (donkey humming from Shrek)

Living in the States full-time. One child homeschooling and one in public school. Still running an international non-profit from home. Still struggling with anxiety and depression, although much improved since 2016.


Will she learn to READ? (Some things have not changed)

Other than that, life is humming along.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


This blog started as a place to put homeschooling stuff, but it has lied fallow for more than a year because we no longer homeschool. We occasionally do other educational things I could write about, but I decided that I want to leave my kids out of it. As they age, I don't want their lives online, and I'm guessing that they probably don't either. So now it's going to be all about me. Just the way I like it. Ha!

I love to learn, and I am learning many things about myself and this exquisite life that I'm hoping to craft with my Father's help. So this blog has now become a place for me to explore myself, and other topics as they pop up.

Below are some categories that may (or may not) appear in future posts.

(things I've jotted on random slips of paper around me):

There is nothing I like better than a pen in my hand, or in my teeth as Victoria Osteen recommended on Sunday. It is very fun and funny, just like she said. Except for the eventual drool, which I can't handle.

(often known as Self-Improvement, but in my case,
my self is of no help so it's all Jesus' doing):

No debt. That is our motto for this year, to pay off our debt and change our lifestyle choices so that we continue debt-free into the future. As of the day I am writing this blog, we have $12,000 to go. But the Lord is working on my heart and showing me that I don't just get into debt with my money. I get into debt with my mouth. Like last night. I was resting after a busy day and Raccoon wanted me to work on his book with him for 30 minutes. I said no, but tomorrow I'll write all fifteen pages for you and have them ready by the time you come home from school so you can draw the pictures. Debt. Mortgaging my future for my comfort now. And it's pervasive in my life. I can't write any more because I have to go write 10 pages of my son's story. Except one good thing did come of it last night. He came up to me and said, "Just tell me what to do!" referring to what to draw for the paragraph I wrote, but it was still nice to hear those words from my independent son. Ha ha. (I did get up and do five pages because I knew I was getting in over my head!)

The moral of the story (for me) is stick to offer what I can do now. Today. What can I do now? Then my future is free.

Friday, November 4, 2016


We arrived back in Ecuador just in time to pick the tiny caterpillars off our granadilla (a cousin to passion fruit) and put them in the terrariums given to my son by my high school English teacher. It's one of my favorite projects, watching those tiny specks grow in three weeks to hairy, big-eyed monsters, then build their chrysalises and emerge as butterflies in another three weeks or so.

This year, I found a clump of 50 caterpillars, just hatched and swarming together. It took most of the leaves off my granadilla to feed them, so I'm not sure I did my plant any favors, but they finally made their chrysalises a few days ago (we say cocooned for lack of a better verb).

It's worth waiting 6 weeks for the moment the butterfly bursts out of it's paper thin shell and stretches its wings for the first time. They are very tame and readily climb on our fingers for the trip outside. Even when we let them go, they hang around the yard, flashes of orange that brighten our days.

Kitty doesn't remember doing this a year ago, so the wonder is brand new for her this year. Raccoon does remember, but he is very faithful and gentle about releasing them after their wings dry. He says next year we should sell the chrysalises so everyone can see a butterfly being born.

We are homeschooling again and Raccoon is in first grade. Kitty had two traumatic days at preschool and wants nothing to do with school, nor does she ever want to grow up and have to go to school, nor does she want to have any more birthdays. So for now, she's just watching. :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Public School

Yup, Raccoon is currently attending public school. He wanted to go and we're living right across the street, so it seemed like an ideal time for him to experience traditional school. They put him in K. He did two weeks before Christmas vacation and enjoyed it. In January, his teacher will focus on reading and I'm hoping for an aha! moment for Raccoon. Because if it doesn't happen in January, then February onward, it's all on me again.

Having Raccoon in school has been a good break for me. Mostly because I'm not worrying about how inadequate his education is or isn't with me, and for once, someone else is responsible for planning his educational day.

But the truth? I've missed my little guy. I don't want someone else getting 7 hours of his day.

More truth? Homeschooling and travelling is very hard. What seems simple, just pull out the books, is often anything but that. So I may just give us permission to do life differently when Celosia School is back in session. Field trips. Letters. Journals. Puppet shows. Bob books. Science kits.

After all, it's just Kindergarten (again). We're not even going to get to Parent Conferences in public school, those happen in March. All in all, if we stick to the plan, Raccoon will have spent 30 in public school over 2 months.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Staying Organized

I have played around with several different systems, but for now this is what works for us. I just take a ruler and eyeball 10 columns and 14 rows with a thin row at the top for the subject titles. I use the width of the ruler for columns (cutting the first in hald for Date and Bible). For the rows, I also do one ruler width first, then go back and half them.

My goal is to hit each subject each day, or at least frequently for things like music and art. I also keep track of how many days we do in a month, with the goal each school year being 180. If we don't do anything in that subject for the day, I fill the box with an X. That way, if I scan and a column, say art, has too many Xs, then I know that we need to do some art. If I do three or four social study lessons in one day, then I fill in 4 boxes, either ahead or behind as needed.

I like the size of the boxes because they let me keep track of what we did in a little more detail than just my checkmark system from kindergarten. I don't do the chart on the computer because I lose a lot of space that way. Doing it by hand let's me use the whole page.

Across the top it says: