In between work and school planning for next year, my days have been consumed by our little garden. While the seeds we started this year were hugely successful, when I got sick they were left to their own devices and many were eaten up by bugs or stunted. We were left with only a handful of unidentifiable stalks and some runty pepper and tomato plants. Fortunately many of them recovered quite nicely, so all was not a complete loss. For the remainder of our garden, we made do with store bought plants.

For the main garden, we have a divided plot of roughly 300 square feet, as shown below. We also have several "experimental" patches (50 square feet apiece), because most of the plants in those were affected by bugs and thus unidentifiable when planted. Happily, all have thrived. While the end result is hardly very organized, we've all enjoyed working in the garden and watching it grow!

Digging the garden, 05/15/2009

A month later, 06/15/2009



Heirloom tomatoes


More tomatoes, basil & squash


I suppose it's obvious by now that we've been taking a bit of a break, trying to sort everything out. This past month and a half has been nothing short of a disaster, so we've been forced to take time off from formal schoolwork while I re-evaluate and piece together a plan for the future. At around the time of my last post, I got very pseudotumor cerebri symptoms became severe, which made getting out of bed nearly impossible and I had a terrible reaction to two of the medications I was given, which made things even worse. Finally, I am now off of the medication and had been doing much better - up until last week. Yesterday I met with a new doctor and the end result is that I will be having surgery next week to place a Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. I've already had some minor vision loss and the shunt will ensure that further loss is prevented and ideally eliminate the majority of my headaches. The purpose of the shunt is to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid from my brain to my abdominal cavity, where it will be harmlessly re-absorbed. While it is a common enough procedure, the very thought of it fills me with anxiety, so I'm trying NOT to think about it!

While I was very sick, we did get bits of schoolwork done as I was able, but not with any real consistency. Then, my husband was laid off and I had to start working extra hours since my income is now our sole income. Lately I've been struggling to find some balance and am throwing myself into plans for next year, though I know we need to wrap up this year first! I'm tentatively thinking that we'll start back to school next month, though I have no idea if this is realistic given the need for recovery time. The only thing I am sure of at this point is that the kids need to be doing more work independently. Our current system is entirely too "teacher-intensive" and while I do love the teaching aspect, I also need a back-up plan for the times when I'm unable to. This post, in particular, on the WTM Forums was very inspiring, but really I've been all over the place trying to figure out what to do and am not much closer to a solution than I was weeks ago!

When I think about how we do school, I'm left feeling largely dissatisfied as this past semester was not what I had envisioned when I made the decision to homeschool. In the past few weeks I've explored a number of things, delving into a study of Democratic and Free schools (in particular, The Albany Free School), unschooling and various other forms of holistic education. While I really can't fully embrace the idea of unschooling, I'm intrigued by many of its principles. I suppose I would have been considered an unschooler during my final year of high school and it was the one thing that made me absolutely passionate about learning. But no, I truly don't think it would work for my kids - at least not now. Finally, I arrived back where I started and am hesitantly considering more LightUnits for next year as well as some other small changes. I am still determined to create my own history curriculum, but that has been rather slow-going, so we shall see!