Welcome to this week’s Family, Fun & Homeschooling!
I am so happy to introduce you to my friend Angela from Gallimaufry Grove! Angela and I met last year as we served together on the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We have a lot in common; homeschooling, Bosch mixers and homemade bread, and a love for a particular part of the U.S. Plus, I have ALWAYS loved Angela’s sense of humor. Angela is a special friend whom I can’t really believe that I have never met in person; God has given us a dear friendship even over the Internet! You will love her too. Come and meet Angela!
Tell us about your blog. What was the spark of the idea that enabled you to create your blog?
First of all, let me say thank you for inviting me to participate in your series! It is an honor. And let me tell your readers a little something about you, Wren. I met Wren last year while on the Schoolhouse Review Crew and I have to say, she is one of the most encouraging people I know. She always has something uplifting to say to those around her. She is truly a blessing.
But what were we talking about? Oh, yes. My blog. As a Pastor’s wife, I’ve met and talked to a lot of women over the years. I found that many of them wanted to know how I did things, made things, juggled things and kept from throwing things. I began holding a few “Titus 2” type meetings at our church, during which I would talk about and demonstrate all kinds of…well…things. There was only one problem. I had a difficult time fitting those meetings into my already busy schedule, and people wanted a way to go back and revisit the information I had shared. (Wait. That’s two problems…) Besides, I don’t actually even like public speaking. After much deliberation and prayer (5 years worth), I finally launched out into the blogosphere.
Do you have a favorite blogging topic that you return to again and again?
Hmmm…Things (see above). Translated, that ends up being a huge list that includes, but is not limited to, kitchen recipes, DIY skin and haircare, thrift store refashions, natural living, ministry and family, homeschooling and our crazy, silly life. Variety is the spice of life, right?
My husband and I have the hugely romantic tale of meeting while serving and training in a ministry school. As he so lovingly puts it, “I saw that I couldn’t get rid of her, so I decided to marry her.” I know. It melts the heart, doesn’t it?
We’ve been married and in full time ministry for 20 years now and have managed not to do too much damage. We even hope we’ve helped some people along the way. We have 4 kids (ages 17, 15, 11 & 4) that are blissfully normal and unscathed by our life in the ministry. In fact, they love it. That has to be the grace of God.
What made you decide to homeschool?
I sort of “fell” into homeschooling. At first, it was just a temporary fix to an issue we were having. When our oldest child was 4, she was very, VERY impressionable. So much so, that we had to be extremely careful who she spent time with. She was amazingly gullible in those days. (She grew out of it, thank the Lord.) She was also enamored with the idea of going to school on the big yellow bus. We decided that we would “play” school for a year instead of sending her to preschool like all her friends. My sole intention was just to give her a year to mature emotionally.
Fast forward a year: I had a 5 year old who could read everything in sight, do 1st grade math, studied voraciously and was still gullible. Sigh. What do you do with a kid who is academically advanced and emotionally still a 5 year old little girl? You homeschool her, of course.
By that time, I also had a 3 year old boy who tagged along with lessons and had accidentally taught himself to read and do math. (I kid you not. It was scary.) Obviously, he wasn’t a candidate for typical preschool classes, either. Our fate was sealed.
For the first few years, I would scope out private schools with every intention of enrolling our kids. And every year my husband and I would say, “Well, maybe just one more year of homeschooling.” Then one day it hit me. “Why fix what isn’t broken? This homeschooling thing is working for us academically, we’re growing spiritually, it’s allowing my kids to mature at their own pace, AND we all still like each other.” We became “homeschool for life-ers”.
What does a day in your homeschool look like?
My children wake up happily at 6am and do their chores without being prompted. Then they cheerfully make breakfast, which they serve me in bed while I read a good book. After the house has been cleaned perfectly and the dishes have been done (all without bickering, mind you) they quietly begin doing their schoolwork…Oh…Wait…I was daydreaming… sorry…
Are you sure you really want to know? Sigh…Okay. So at the beginning of the school year, I get up at about 5am (don’t worry…it doesn’t last) for morning devotions, workouts and breakfast making (yeah. I make their breakfast. And yeah. I know they should be making their own. We are a work in progress.) The kids get up at 7 to eat and do their daily chores (with a bit of prodding and reminding and …ahem… nagging…from their mom.) We are supposed to start school at 8:30. We scramble to finish our chores and dash to the table for Bible and Character class, which we do together. Then we have History (another class that we do together.) I read aloud to them from a book that goes along with either our Bible, Character or History class, while they have tea and a snack. Then they break up for Language Arts, Math, Science, Spanish for the high schoolers, and other studies. On a good day, we have finished Language Arts before lunch, and the rest by 2pm. That’s a good day.
By the second half of the school year, though, our schedule begins to unravel. There are too many late nights when you’re in the ministry. Late nights mean that mornings move a lot slower and the family gets more and more tired. By this time of year, the gentle nagging to get the chores done in a timely manner turns to something more like desperation — often, the chores have to wait until after school. The kids still get a hot breakfast, but it’s more like 9am instead of 7. And school isn’t out until late afternoon, with my high schoolers using the evening hours for things like Spanish and Computer Programming, etc.
Our schedule (what time of day each thing is supposed to happen) may unravel, but our routine (what happens next) is still intact. So we just keep doing the next thing. Even with the more relaxed school day, my kids still manage to learn — and learn a lot. Homeschooling works, folks.
Do you have a favorite “date night” you love to do?
Date night? Bwahahaha… Are you joking!?! We are in full time ministry and we homeschool. My husband and I reintroduce ourselves to each other a couple times a week, and I remind my husband of the kids’ names and ages.
Okay, so maybe it’s not quite that bad, but dates are a very rare occurrence. Occasionally (as in, a few times a year), we will sneak off for a meal together, during which all “ministry” topics are strictly prohibited. The rest of the time, we divide and conquer in order to keep up with the juggling of ministry and family.
What are some of your favorite mama-child activities?
My favorite mama-child activity is when I (the mama) get to sit with a cup of tea and watch them (the children) do the housework. Just kidding…I think.
My kids range in ages from teen to preschooler and each one has a very different personality. What works for one child does not work for another. My favorite times are when we get to do something together that I can tell they truly enjoyed – Swimming in the lake, going to the beach, a fun museum or watching a meteor shower. When the weather is warm, sometimes I will take a “one-on-one” walk with each child. We enjoy the private time together when they can tell me all the things we never seem to have time to talk about during a regular day.
Tell us about your experience winning “Best Variety Blog” in The Homeschool Post’s 2014 Blog Awards. What was that like, and how has it impacted your blog?
I was so completely shocked that I had been nominated for the Homeschool Post’s “Best Variety Blog.” I didn’t even consider actually winning it. When I started my blog I was surprised that I had real readers, so winning an award wasn’t even on my radar screen. I am so incredibly grateful to my readers for caring enough about what I write to take time out of their busy lives to vote. Amazing.
I think the biggest thing for me about winning the award was the validation as a blogger. It felt like someone (or a lot of someones) said, “I care about what you’re putting out there. It’s worthwhile.” As a blogger, that is such a boost.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Hmmm…. My dream day involves a bottomless pot of tea and uninterrupted reading time. I like sunshine, but most of my work keeps me indoors, so I don’t see nearly as much of it as I’d like. And I like stormy nights. So, I guess every day should be sunny and every night should rain. My dream job would involve lots of studying. (Does anyone get paid to just study?) Before I married, I travelled to Germany, England and South Africa. After I married, I travelled to the kitchen and the laundry room. And I think fractals are cool. (What can I say? I’m a nerd. Not a hip, techno-nerd. Just an actual nerd.)
Again, thank you so much for inviting me to FinchnWren for this interview. It has been fun! Have an awesome day!
Angela is a pastor’s wife, mother of four, homeschooler, homesteader wannabe and crafty girl. She laughs at all-things-ridiculous and blogs about it all at Gallimaufry Grove.
Thanks so much for joining us again for Family, Fun & Homeschooling! Hop over to visit Angela at her blog, Gallimaufry Grove. You will love it! (And learn, laugh, and be encouraged, as well!)