All posts by Juggler

Brain Dump

This is going to be one of those posts where I just brain dump. You might want to move along now unless you want a glimpse into a brain that has so many tabs open… all of the time.

I am thinking about….

Goats. My kid has been dreaming about her 4H market goat. She’s worried that because she won’t get the first choice her favorite goat will be gone by the time she picks it up. She’s super intense and she just woke up and told me she dreamed she was in a footrace with a buyer who was after her goat all the way to the goat breeder’s house.

Community. The word on the street is that the state leadership is telling folks that our CC community has closed because, not only am I being used by Satan to attack CC, but I have poor leadership skills and wasn’t able to replicate myself well. I am trying to not become furious with this – I have the statistics for our community that state that more than 50% have served in leadership in some capacity and leadership development is one of my passions – and just let it go. The reality is they are grasping for straws. But it still frustrates the stink out of me.

Yogurt. I made homemade yogurt yesterday. I’ve done this successfully many times before. This batch, however, isn’t setting so I really just have liquid yogurt that could be used for smoothies. I’ve Googled it and I think I can blame the house getting too cold due to the freak winter storm that dumped a few inches of snow night before last. So I’m going to reheat my smoothie yogurt and then set it for another 12 hours and pray for the best.

Latin. I’m worried about Latin. I am trying to decide between using Memoria Press or Classical Academic Press as a bridge back into studying Henle Latin. I’m totally attracted to the CAP products because of their fonts and colors. It’s very friendly and makes me happy. BUT I’ve read that those same fonts and colors that attract me make it very difficult for those with ADD and dyslexia to focus on the content… and I’ve got a little of that happening in our family too. So I think I’m going to end up with Memoria Press but I’m so sad about it. I want ALL THE LATIN programs.

Kittens. We still have kittens. They’re alive, but Marco has diarrhea. I feel this is to be expected because moving from living in the garage unnoticed to being extremely noticed by four children has to be a diarrhea-inducing stressful experience for anyone. But I would like them to stop with the Fancy-Feast-induced poops and be normal so I’m not scared we’re going to kill them. That’s really where I land most days – “Just DON’T KILL ANYTHING.” We have a pretty successful track record, to be honest. But I think that’s because I am so freaked out about the killing part.

And now I’m going to clean my house. It’s a need. If you have any thoughts, dreams, hopes, aspirations, experiences, etc. about any of these topics – please share. I would love your input!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

A Day in the Life of Kitten Snatchers

Let me tell you about our day yesterday.

We started the day normally. For us, in this season, that means our kids wander downstairs sometime between 6:45 am and 8:45 am. They have free time until 9 am, at which point we tend to get rolling with whatever is planned for our day.

Yesterday our day involved working on math. All of the kids did some form of schoolwork – we have been using electronic assistance for some of our school. The younger kiddos did their Reading Eggs and Math Seeds, while my olders worked on Teaching Textbooks and CTC Math programs.

Our friends came over around 10:00 with their own sets of school work. We’ve found that doing schoolwork together works really well for us and studies that would make our children cry on a solo basis are a fun treat within community.

Everyone was working and there was a nice buzz of industry in the air… until there wasn’t. One kiddo was completely fed up with her math program and ready to cry.

“Go take a walk out to the goat pen,” I suggested. “It will help clear your mind and give you a break. I bet when you come back you’ll be ready to approach that math problem.”

She agreed. Out the door she went. Moments later, the door flew back open.


It was as if a bomb had exploded. Like a clown car, children poured out of the house and into the yard, focussing their efforts on the storage garage.

There were, indeed, kittens. The exact number ranges from three to seven. Our reporters were excited so their counting skills were compromised.

We knew we have stray cats wandering around our place. I have an intense dislike of cats, founded by being terribly allergic to them and also having an outside cat growing up that, instead of just walking away when it was done being scratched, would go ahead and try to rip your hand off for daring to connect.

In my opinion, cats are like mothballs in a closet – they serve a purpose but they are wholly disagreeable.

So we leave the stray cats alone and they leave us alone. I like to believe that the mouse population is impacted by their presence but I have no contractual relationship with said stray cats.

This causes the children MUCH angst. They want a cat more than anything. They know that I DO NOT want a cat more than anything.

Years ago, one of them said, “Mommy, when you die, I’m getting a cat.” She didn’t sound sad about that at all. Downright anticipatory in tone, in fact.

So, last spring we found a litter of three kittens in the woodpile. They were extremely cute and I was extremely clear that we would not take them in to tame them.

Woodpile kittens
The kittens from the woodpile last spring.

We left them alone and their mama moved them within hours, never to be seen again.

The children grieved.

Over the last year, as the kids have continued to bemoan the loss of the woodpile kittens and I run across the photo of their cuteness… Well, I have occasionally, in the most mild form, regretted my decision not to keep just one kitten.

Yesterday was my mulligan.

When the report came back that the kittens had been spotted, we all buckled down, set the math problems aside, and commenced practical application of sleuthing.

We spent three hours searching for kittens, practicing our sneaking and snatching skills. We moved the various items in the garage/storage shed.

We traced the paw prints in the dust to track them to their lair.

I personally nabbed one that was curled up into a ball beside the refrigerator.

It is quite cute.

In the end, after much effort, we are now the possessors of two feral kittens, approximately 6-7 weeks of age. The cat lady I know (Yep, I know cat ladies and goat ladies and chicken ladies, etc., I’m quite well connected with the livestock ladies around) allowed me to send her photos of the kitten’s junk and pronounced that they are very fluffy, domestic shorthair kittens, blue in color, and likely both male.

Due to the in depth searching high and low, they are named Marco and Polo.

I made them crochet collars so we can tell them apart.

Marco hisses at us before settling down into snuggly scratches. Polo is just scared for his life.

We finished our day with group lessons of Song School Latin, completed with kittens nestled into laps.

This is our every day life, folks. Non-stop fun and excitement.

The current Kitten Plan is to take the weeks needed to indoctrinate them into my mouse-demolishing strategy, then turn them loose in the animal area.

We will bribe them to stay nearby with goat’s milk, win them over with our charming personalities and opposable thumbs which make ear scratches so possible.

We are praying they are young enough that they haven’t developed their allergy-inducing capabilities, but the Cat Lady also told us we can bathe them to reduce allergins.

That sounds like FUN.

When the man of the house came home last night and I told him we’d covered the subjects of math, Latin and trapping, he just looked at me quietly for awhile.

“What have you done?” he finally asked me.

“No regrets,” I whispered to him passionately as I handed him a can of Fancy Feast.

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

Unsocialized Hope

I went to bed last night with two prayers:

One, that the vetiver I was putting on my feet to help me sleep would not give me nightmares.

Two, that I would gain inspiration for a blog post that doesn’t have a single thing to do with business practices or rabbit trails that take me even further down the mystery hole of questions to which there seems no end.

I’m pleased to state that the vetiver did not give me nightmares. Or any dreams whatsoever! This is a major accomplishment because I can have some crazy dreams all on my own, and vetiver, along with pickled okra consumed before bedtime, has been an instigator in the past.

The second prayer, well, let me tell you what was on my mind when I woke up:

The second generation homeschoolers I know.

Before I had children I had never considered home education as a real option. I believed the line that the culture offers that homeschoolers were very smart – but very weird. (I didn’t realize at the time that kids, in and of themselves, are absolutely bonkers.) I thought that home schooling children would be very pale from not going outside during the day… and always be in some form of a matching denim jumper.

I can clearly remember looking at my husband and saying, “If we do this homeschool thing we’re going to have be intentional about getting out of the house, socializing the kids, and no jumpers – ever!”

I wanted us to be “cool” homeschoolers.

We’ve been on this homeschool journey for almost a decade now, and I have to say some of my fears were true – we are really not “cool” in any way.

“Cool” takes a lot more effort than I’m willing to give it these days.

And… our kids are pretty odd. Like for reals. They’re super weird.

But they’re the kind of odd I adore and want to foster.

I love that our 13-year-old isn’t consumed by boys or a cell phone. (Partially because she’s the one of two kids on her soccer team who doesn’t even have a cell phone.)

I love that our 11-year-old has the time and inclination to start designing cars and creating acrobatic shows in our living room.

I love that our 9-year-old went up to a teammate and said she noticed she’d been mean to another girl and it made her feel badly to see… and that teammate changed their behavior.

I love that our 6-year-old walks up to kids he’s never met before and boldly asks them if they want to kick a ball around with him… and after they stop looking surprised, they say, “Yes.”

I prayed and hoped at the beginning of this journey that our children would be able to explore the gifts they’ve been given that make them so unique and precious, that home education would allow them to step outside of the group think of peer pressure and be free to pursue callings I can’t even imagine.

But, let’s be honest, my kids are… kids. I like what I’m seeing right now but this homeschooling adventure is a long-term study. How do we know this educational experiment will even work?!

That’s a recurring theme of fear in my head when I am down.

So this morning when I woke up I found myself thinking of the extensive list of folks we’ve come across who are functional, successful adults who were homeschooled as children.

Some are now homeschooling their own children as second generation home educators. Most have their own businesses, and those businesses are outflows of their passions. They are mothers and fathers, realtors, scientists, artists, coffee roasters, dairy owners, ministers – all sorts of careers have come out of this educational choice that was highly suspicious twenty years ago (yet absolutely common place 100 years ago!).

I haven’t seen any of them wearing denim jumpers. And they’re not abnormally pale.

They are hilarious free thinkers, who consider the culture and look for opportunities to serve others.

Across the board they are people of principle; they consider where to invest their time and energy and have an ability to answer, “why?” they do what they do when asked.

They all used different curriculums as children and some were raised in the city, others the country. There is diversity within their interests and abilities. Their success is not because of any one plan of study, it’s because they were given the freedom to grow and mature in an environment that was largely free of the drama of peer pettiness.

They were “unsocialized.”

They give me hope.

They reinforce my belief that there is no one “perfect” path for this homeschooling journey. You find that path that fits your family best and you walk upon it, one step, one day, one lesson at a time.

And in the end, you see the rhyme and reason and marvel at how God has held your hand through the whole process.

And, until I reach that point with our own little people, I’ll continue to try to get my kid to stop layering his shorts over sweatpants. He thinks it’s a “cool” fashion statement.

I think it’s because he’s homeschooled.

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved


40f8dc559a086adde6b8b05eaacfda85This post was originally written in 2013. I found it in my “draft” folder and thought it was worth dusting off. Six years later… I still agree with heartbroken emotion expressed. I think when I wrote it, it felt too judgmental to publish. My how the world has changed in six years.

So… yesterday I jabbed myself in the eyeball with a piece of rebar that was sticking out of the side of a rabbit cage.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience. However, I survived and live to tell the story, no pirate patch needed.

Another unpleasant experience this evening? Dos’s pants fell down. We were walking the parking lot and one minute she was clothed, the next minute she wasn’t.

I don’t understand how these things happen. And why is she always the one who ends up nekkid in public?!

My silly troubles faded away quickly when I popped over to the World Wide Web and read an article about Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania doctor who is being charged with murder for performing live birth abortions.

If you have the ability to experience, to truly feel outrage, this case must make your blood boil and your stomach heave.

The article I read is one of many surrounding the story of this macabre business as the testimony in the case is revealed. Details of late term abortions resulting in live infant death are being revealed, along with the callous disregard of Gosnell and his willingness to end those lives by severing the spinal cords of the littlest ones.

I think of it and remember how I felt the moment I heard my child’s first, gasping cry. And then I imagine that whimper cut short, and the confusion that tiny human felt, along with the pain.

It makes me cry. But who am I? Just an emotional mother.

Assuming you’re unemotional, no matter how you look at it, this case is chilling.

So, after learning of this story, my family went to dinner. While we were there we noticed two families in the restaurant with very little newborns. They were so tiny! The eyes had that disoriented, unfocused look and their cries were so soft they were almost laughable. I held my own baby, a robust 9 months old now, and remembered back to the days I was just getting to know him. I looked at my 7 year old daughter and marveled at how she has lengthened and matured.

I don’t know what history will say of us for our culture’s ability to overlook the death of innocents, but I do hope the outrage over this particular story spreads deep and wide – and is loud!

If statistics are true, 25% of American women have received an abortion… and while I can’t even begin to know or understand the circumstances that led to these decisions as women and doctors exercised their “right to choose,” I do believe there is a trail of unhappiness and pain littering that right to choose.

My response tonight, for a bit, was to hug my children tighter and hold them just a little longer in gratitude that they are here, present, in my life. They enhance everything I do and I would be lost without them.

Even when they drop their drawers in the parking lot of the China Star Buffet.

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Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved


I was texted screenshots a bit ago of the report of a Director who received a letter from her state indicating that she is now being audited for her CC community business.

To be honest, my heart sank. The last thing that anyone needs is to have to deal with an audit. Mamas need to be fretting about teeth coming in, diapers being changed, and how to manage puberty with our sassy kiddos more than dealing with business procedures – except we chose to be mamas who own businesses as sole proprietors. Perhaps unwittingly, but business owners nonetheless who are responsible for exemplary business practices.

If you are stepping into any business, may I suggest it would be a good idea to know what types of records are required in an audit so you can begin with excellent bookkeeping skills at the outset and thus walk forward in confidence?

The letter that was photographed and forwarded from me was from Pennsylvania. It contained two pages of information and records that would be expected to be produced by the Director. I did a basic search of the Pennsylvania webpages and found this quote that rattled me based on what I know about standard operations in the organization in question: “Under the PA UC Law, an individual being paid for work he or she performs is presumed to be your employee. To rebut this presumption, you must show that the individual is free from your direction and control and is performing work for you as part of his/her independently established business. ” (Why are you Auditing Me When I Consider All of My Employees to be Independent Contractors? | Official Pennsylvania Government Website)

Not every state will have the same expectations, so to be prepared, do a search of how to prepare for a business audit in your state.

This link describes the types of things that are commonly asked for in an audit. (How to Prepare for a Business Audit | NoLo)

Carol Topp has made a name for herself with books, articles, and helpful advice as a HomeschoolCPA. Her website might be useful to anyone working through these issues or setting up new businesses – it’s the only one I know of that addresses issues like this specifically. (Starting or Running a Homeschool Group? | HomeschoolCPA)

Ultimately, please just know that while your heart might be moved to ministry, ministry is just the by product of your homeschool business. We can’t simply state that “the gov’ment is out to get us” or this is religious discrimination. Your community is a business and in this country businesses are regulated.

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved


Is is possible to love a stranger?

I’ve been thinking about neighbors. Some of the things I have discovered in the past weeks are relevant to a group of folks who are walking the same path I have recently departed.

Do I have a responsibility to them to share the information I now know? Why or why not?

If, as a Christian, I am asked to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Luke 10:27), what do I do with information that could be relevant to them?

Do I keep it to myself because it might cause controversy or make me look foolish?

Do I share it so that anyone who sees it has one more piece of information to sort through and weigh?

Do I trust that if God is calling someone to something, even if it’s different than the calling I have, that He will guide them in the direction of His calling?

Who is my neighbor? Is it the person whose phone number is saved in my contacts? Is it the person who shares membership in a Facebook group? Is it the person who randomly performs a Google search?

What obligation do I have to my neighbor?

Can a neighbor be a stranger?

How do I love a stranger?

I had a lot of fun last summer doing a word study on neighbor. The physical word is broken down into two parts “neigh” and “bor.” These two parts can be roughly translated into the “near worker.”

What was really fascinating to me is that “bor” or “boer” is a word I recognize from the Boer Wars of South Africa. As I understand it, a “boer” in South Afrikaans is a farmer.

What the heck is the “boer” word root in South Afrikaans doing in an English word?! Geographically that’s a crazy amount of distance!

The answer is the Dutch. The Dutch colonized South Africa in 1652 and brought their language with them. The Dutch were also part of the Viking assault that pummeled the shores of the British Isles for centuries. Thus, their word for worker “stuck” in both of these areas.

So we have the same concept, same word, appearing in very, very dissimilar geographies and philosophies, across the world.

Isn’t that fascinating?!

You know what this also tells me? Neighborliness is a basic human concept. It’s not influenced by situations or location…it’s Truth.

And if I follow that thought process out… then my neighbor is anyone and everyone who might find themselves in a situation where the information I have learned might be helpful.

Loving my neighbor means being willing to talk through ideas and issues, come to a reconciliation (remember, my definition of reconciliation is agreement on what came before), and be a part of encouraging them in their walks in the future.

When people say, “Just let it go,” they’re right about the need for folks to move on and allow for time and healing to occur. But, also, those detractors who just want people to be quiet already should recognize that a strong desire to help others is a part of the DNA of many leaders. And they may feel compelled to share, out of a desire to love others well, the pros and cons of what they have experienced themselves.

This quote resonated with me when I saw it this week:

“I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.” Stephanie Sparkles

Eventually the flames of drama will die down. Things will cool, and people will sort through what is left and see what can be salvaged and what must be rebuilt.

And in the meantime, how can we love our neighbors well?

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

Weekly Top 5 (5.19.19)

The Top 5 Posts that Brought You Here this Week

Here you go, the top five posts that brought people to this site in the last week!

Weekly Top 5

  1. Liability. “Business issues could affect your personal credit score. Credit scores are used as part of the evaluation process for all sorts of things from insurance rates to rental verifications.”
  2. Gaslighting – What Is It? “When an organization changes its practices regularly, it lends itself to situations where gaslighting can occur easily. When an organization preaches humility to it’s leadership – which is a good thing – it lends itself to difficulty thinking a differing opinion is allowed to exist. When leaders speak down to you, or tell you that you just don’t understand from the correct perspective – without giving you the tools to see it from “the right perspective” – it sets up an unhealthy, abusive relationship.”
  3. 5 Questions with a Classical Program Consultant. “I started CPC in January (2019) so I could afford to take time away from my family to gather all my thoughts and experience into materialized documents and webinars in hopes of offering guidance to group leaders in the 3 areas of a program: business, administration, and curriculum. I now have over 100 clients and have realized there is a great need for what I am offering.”
  4. My Community is Closing – Now What?! “The lovely thing about the classical model that many folks in communities have been experiencing, and that the natural tendencies of home educators is to look beyond what is easily provided for them, is that no topic is unapproachable to you! You have all the skills needed to approach this lack of community problem, tackle it methodically, and find success!”
  5. Divisive. “When I’m told that I just don’t understand the whole story, in the absence of any other details, it’s in my nature to attempt to figure out the whole story using the tools I have at my disposal. I am trained as a journalist. I learned how to research and use public records. I investigate, I interview, I try to connect the dots and figure out the timelines because I know that we rarely experience events in isolation.”

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Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi

Have any of you actually sat down to calculate a breakdown on the cost of a glass of soda?

Let me illuminate:

A 5 gallon bib of Coca-Cola costs about $50.00.

5 gallons = 640 ounces = 7.8 cents/ounce of soda syrup.

A 22-ounce glass of soda contains approximately 15 ounces of liquid, which means that the total cost for a 22-ounce soda with a cup, lid, and straw is 30 cents. (

But have you seen the prices to the consumer for fast food sodas?! At Taco Bell, the convenience restaurant known for cheap food that masquerades as Mexican in my area, they charge $1.89 for a 22-ounce soda! That’s outrageous!

I’m furious! How can they live with themselves? Do they not know that people come to them for cheap food and now they’re charging as much or more for a soda as they charge for a bean burrito resuscitated from brown flakes of questionable substance?! Taco Bell is taking advantage of the poor person who needs nutrition!!!!


Hold up.

As much as this revelation of soda sale price versus expense might irritate you (guess what, the stats are even worse for iced tea – that only costs .08 cents per cup!), we typically realize that there’s a simple answer to this extreme up-sale on sodas: Don’t order them.

They provide water cups for free.

That’s the beauty of a capitalistic society. We get to choose what we decide to consume. If we are willing to pay the price, we pay it. If we are not willing or unable to pay the price, we don’t.

For-profit companies are a product of capitalistic societies. They go in and out of business based on whether they can convince the consumer the value of what they offer for purchase is worth the pain point of spending the cash. Those that are successful, survive (here’s lookin’ at you, Pottery Barn) and those that don’t fail (I see you over there, KMart).

In the last few days I have seen people get up in arms about details of a specific organization. People are furious, vitriolic, about this organization and it’s policies, particularly where the summer training activities are concerned.

It’s because the organization has been masquerading as a ministry due to the recruitment techniques of its contractors and licensees and it’s actually a for-profit company. Ruh-Roh.

People who believed it was a ministry are hurt, betrayed, and angry over the knowledge that the dollars they have been sacrificing to put toward tuition, or summer conferences, are being used in ways that aren’t exactly… always… ministry oriented. Additionally, some of the workers in the company have been unethical in their dealings with people and therefore have made a touchy situation intolerable with unlawful demands that have impacted the bottom lines of budgets for the average supporter.

That has caused distress. Justifiable angst. Frustration. Tears. A general sense of feeling unappreciated for volunteer effort put forth.

But here’s the deal. There’s not a boogie-man behind every corner. And in some cases, it’s the sense of hurt and betrayal that is causing us to look, research, accuse, and be angry, not the lawfulness of the actual practices.

For-profit companies have certain policies that are normal and lawful. It might feel yucky to the consumer but it’s legal and wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

May I suggest you focus your attention on the main things?

Consider this litmus test:

If you have never seen the budget of your state homeschool organization, never worried about it, and still paid the ticket price to attend… stop fretting about the budgets of practicums for classical educators.

If you have never researched Taco Bell to see exactly how much they earn on their cow cheek beef meat they purchase for pennies because it’s not really “meat”… maybe pause, reflect, and realize that for-profit companies are not held to the same standard as ministries. And then choose to spend your family’s money wisely.

For those who are a tad bit rabid about their research, that’s awesome. (Let’s be honest, we all know there are no private investigators who can compete with a homeschool mama wronged.) (FYI, so far I’m up to 13 federal law issues or seriously dodgy gray areas and a slew of other “common sense” issues on my list of “questionable activities I never knew weren’t kosher.”) There are, without a single doubt, issues to be found. They should be talked about. There should, from a company that says they “Know God and Make Him Known,” be apologies issued for those items and a repentance in the form of structural reorganization in a way that protects their workers from things like… Failure to Disclose. Misclassification of Workers. Discrimination on the basis of Religion or Familial Status. Violation of Labor Laws. Violation of the Doctrine of First Use. Progress reports that violate FERPA and PERPL…

You know, just some stuff that might be questionable when viewed by those irrational and ridiculous crazy people who believe in something called integrity and being above reproach and all…

But may I suggest that the irritation, the outrage, be saved for those items that are pretty clear and that folks focus on the majors?

Look for the dog that will hunt.

Let’s be honest. Only one issue is needed to raise red flags. I have seen a list with 19 issues on it and my personal list has 13. Perhaps folks could agree to worry about the items already identified before going on a rabbit trail out into the high weeds with your clutched pearls as your companion.

“Those aren’t the droids you are looking for.”

(I do recognize that there are a large number of readers discovering this blog for the first time who are struggling with feeling deceived and betrayed, by the recognition that they’ve fallen for gaslighting techniques and thus a reference to Jedi mind tricks might feel inappropriate. I am sorry. I also can’t think of anything else to replace this reference to now that it’s in my mind. My sense of irony is too strongly triggered to walk away.)

(Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! You’re my only hope!)

There are so many stink-filled issues surrounding this situation that for those who are regaining their sense of smell, I would encourage them to pay attention to what is merely stinky and what is truly, sincerely, rotten.

It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.

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5 Questions with a Classical Program Consultant

The number one searched post on this blog today is “My Community Is Closing – Now What?” In light of that, I wanted to share a resource with those who might be searching. Obviously there are many options for homeschooling, so many that it might be overwhelming. If you would like some help sorting out options, identifying your needs, and learning how to run a compliant program, check out the Classical Program Consulting Program with Jamie Buckland.

I met Jamie through social media and have appreciated her insight. So I asked her five questions – and now get to share her answers with you!

What are three things about which you are passionate?

#1 – Christ’s Completed Work

#2 – Education

#3 – Maternity Care in the US

Jamie, why do YOU homeschool?

I wanted to be with my kids, to be in charge of our schedule, and to avoid handing over the authority of my children to someone else.

What’s a Favorite Motivational Quote?

Confession. I had to Google motivational quotes. That just isn’t something I think I have an inventory of! I could not find one that I feel like I have ever used…so I searched my MacBook for “quote” thinking maybe I’ve stored something somewhere. This came up. It is fitting.

“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” Wendell Berry

Why did you become a Classical Program Consultant?

When I decided to not return to CC in 2016, I worked incredibly hard researching options and finding out how we could ethically and legally conduct the activities of our group in the way we desired. After we got started, I shared some of what we were doing. I began answering questions on social media. Over the last few years, that snowballed into having a following of peers looking for answers. I started CPC in January (2019) so I could afford to take time away from my family to gather all my thoughts and experience into materialized documents and webinars in hopes of offering guidance to group leaders in the 3 areas of a program: business, administration, and curriculum. I now have over 100 clients and have realized there is a great need for what I am offering.

What is your motto?

“Do less, do it well.”

Classical educators are known for having higher standards. I think that’s great. I think there is a major difference between a private school with paid teachers and a homeschool program. I think acknowledging the difference and talking about the various realities of the difference are two things many in the renewal are failing to do. I am seeing the effects of it-stressed out, defeated, exhausted mothers who renounced modern education’s industrialized approach to learning to instead embrace the freedom of nurturing a whole child through home education. Now they do not know whose prescribed definition of classical education is the best one, the worthy one, or at least the one they can implement in between laundry, meals, newborns, music lessons, and a never-ending to-do list.

Like many others, the first voice in my ear calling me to do less and to do it well was Sarah Mackenzie’s with her book, Teaching from Rest A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. On a beautiful fall day in November of 2014, as I drove to a CC training hours away, I listened to the audio companions included with the book and was introduced to concepts which turned my world completely upside down. We were having 8-hour school days, fighting from morning until night, constantly striving to fit everything in, doing all things poorly, and never catching our breath. I was fielding constant questions about how to get it all done and felt a heavy burden of admitting I was just as worn out as those looking to me for guidance.

Are those leading the renewal hearing these stories? I do love the message of rest being given to us by theSchole Muses, and I applaud their work.

But who else is hearing us? As the call to excellence continues to ring out, who is defining that excellence? Who is prescribing that excellence? Better yet, who is describing that excellence?

“Buy a box curriculum!”, that is what one leader of the renewal recently told me. But then the mother feels pressured to tackle everything in that box on the schedule recommended by the publishers and I’m concerned that is not always doable.

“Well, choose not to do some of it.” Sure, that sounds simple. But moms don’t feel confident choosing what things to let go of! It’s like we need permission from someone that it will be okay if we choose to do less in an attempt to forge ahead. After all, the expert curriculum developers think all of this is necessary, who am I to argue?

I recently attended the National Classical Education 2019 Symposium. At the last panel of the day, deans and admissions officers from various colleges answered a question I had.

“What do you have to say to the homeschooling mother?”

“Keep going. Start somewhere. You’re doing a great job and impressing the academic world.” (paraphrased)

Moms need to know that doing less and doing it well is enough. It is more than enough. I want homeschooling mothers seeking to educate their children in the classical Christian tradition to take back their joy and leave behind the daunting feeling of inadequacy.

But more than that, I want them to use caution and discernment in choosing who they deem as an authority on all areas of their child’s education. We, the homeschooling mothers, are in a unique position, in my opinion. The decision-makers for public education are the committees set in place by the government, and we can all acknowledge the influence on those committees from those who stand to profit from selling their ideas or curriculum.

The decision-makers for home education are the mothers and the fathers of the youth being educated. But when I take notice of the chatter between mothers, I am compelled to make mention that our chosen methods and materials are also influenced by those who stand to profit from selling their ideas or curriculum.

Can I add a disclaimer here? This is not a condemnation of having something to sell. I recently discoveredPamela Barnhill’s work and am truly thankful for her materials, as I see them meeting a great need. I want to set apart those who I find working, as am I, to get good things into the hands of homeschooling moms who could benefit from them. Sarah MackenzieBrandy VencelAngelina StanfordMystie WincklerKathy Weitz,Cheryl SwopeCindy RollinsCarol ToppColleen Kessler, these mothers are serving other mothers, and they are doing a fantastic job at it. There is something different to me about marketing something you’ve developed and developing something to market.

Continuing the disclaimer for fear my readers will assume I enjoy tossing babies with bath water, please do not hear accusations where none exist. It is not that I am asserting those seated at the head table of the renewal have no less than our best interests at heart, however, it is to be noted that those seated at the table have products and programs to sell. And like with any product or program, some are bad. Some given the title of leading the classical movement through home education are not worthy of the title and are doing more to damage classical education than to renew it. Some are worthy, their product worthy, their program worthy, but not an end-all, and what we are lacking is a philanthropic voice at the table without a method, a product, or a book to sell.

Please, please note my use of particular pronouns here. I am 100% behind many of these programs, authors, and materials, but I am also 100% convinced discernment is in order. There is as at least one popular organization working tirelessly to exploit homeschooling mothers, and unfortunately, only those exploited are the ones caring enough to speak up. Somehow classical educators believe in naming things, calling it as it is, seeking out the matter, calling men to a higher standard, until it involves businesses where you’ll be sued or threatened for pursuing Truth.

Man, did you ask for a novel?!

Who am I? Why does it even matter if I am calling moms to do less and do it well?

I am a consultant to homeschool group leaders who want to build programs, but I admit programs are not for every person and not for every season. My motivation for what I do is rooted in advocacy for the homeschooling mother. If she wants community, I want her to have it. I want her to have it ethically, legally, with sustainability, and I do not want her to sacrifice her own homeschool to get it. I want her to do less, do it well, and to be connected to veteran moms who want to give her permission to do just that.

Jamie Buckland lives in southern WV with her husband and 4 children. Jamie is Executive Director and Headmistress of Appalachian Classical Academy, a tutoring program for homeschoolers. She also works with homeschool group leaders as the Classical Program Consultant. With a heart for the homeschooling mother, she wants to see them able to enjoy communities without sacrificing their own homeschool. She will graduate her eldest this year, her youngest in 16 years, and a couple in between! You can find Jamie

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Eight years ago I wrote a post on this blog titled How to Say, “I’m Sorry.” The working title was The Anatomy of an Apology and I gave three tips each on how to both give and accept an apology.

Today, I’m thinking, again, about the power of a sincere apology, the beauty of reconciliation, and the part I can play in it all.

Sometimes, in the thick of a hurtful situation, we can’t even believe that reconciliation is a possibility. But, as Christians, we are called to never remove reconciliation from the table.

Right here is where I usually have a moment of pure donkey-like, foot planted, stubbornness in my thought process. I don’t want to be close to some people who have hurt me! They are stinkers who deserve to rot in their horrid, awful, eye-wateringly pungent stinkiness!

(I’m joking about that to a certain degree, but it’s really not a joking matter when you recognize that in some cases you have been looking at manipulative abuse and to allow a person access to your life can be extraordinarily risky.)

So what does reconciliation even entail?

A basic search of the word reconcile reveals its a verb meaning, “to restore friendly relations between.” It can also be “to cause to coexist in harmony; to make or show to be compatible.”

Then there’s this definition, which struck me hard this morning:

“To make (one account) consistent with another, especially by allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed.”

Other definitions are “to settle (a disagreement)” and “to make someone accept (a disagreeable or unwelcome thing).”

I want to go back to this definition of reconcile as consistency and an accounting term because it has the potential for depth.

Accounting is pretty non-emotional (well, except when you can’t figure out why your checkbook is $1.23 off for months on end). Numbers are cut and dried, they represent a certain amount and that’s it.

Numbers are a glimpse at truth.

When we reconcile our accounts, what we’re really saying is that we can all agree that these are the items that came before, and this final answer, it’s real. From that basic starting point we can figure out what to do moving forward without any question about what has gone on previously.

It’s an agreement.

In our storage business, a customer must come in and make sure that there are no outstanding debts on their rental space before they may move out. There’s no antagonism about it, we just make sure the dates they used the space match up and the account is paid. When it’s settled they can walk away freely. We hope they come back as a customer in the future if they ever need storage again, but I have no expectation of them doing anything – our agreement is finished and all is good.

That’s the definition of reconciliation I want to pursue in the stinky situations.

The problem with relationships is that they are often not cut and dry. We are emotional creatures who are easily offended, or enthused, and perceptions filter into our lives and shape our experiences.

A sincere apology is pretty much the only thing that can cancel the emotion of an offense. Time passing certainly helps, but a genuine, “I’m sorry” soothes the soul and creates a consistent balance sheet that can be reconciled.

(I do know the Scripture that says, “love keeps no record of wrongs” and that you might be arguing in your head with me right now about my use of the words “balance sheet” – I’m not done with my thought process, so stick with me for a little longer.)

I’ve been a saying a good number of apologies lately. As I have pondered actions I’ve taken in the past I thought were right at the time, I have realized I was actually unkind and wrong. Uncharitable and lacking in mercy.

I don’t want to be that person. So, as situations have crossed my mind – I believe prompted by the Holy Spirit – I have reached out to folks and asked for forgiveness.

Some have not responded.

But, overwhelmingly, I have received graceful responses from those I’ve contacted. We have left our most recent interactions not necessarily as friends, but friendly. Because the accounts between us have now been settled.

Eight years ago I was delving into this topic with blog posts. I have improved at taking responsibility over time, but I still struggle. Why?

I believe that pridefulness is the number one reason we don’t see apologies all over our world. I believe we each struggle with pridefulness to a crazy degree.

Here’s a reality: it doesn’t hurt us to say “I’m sorry.” There’s no downside to saying it – unless that apology is insincere. Or qualified.

(Here’s an identification clue for an apology that will cause more friction: “I’m sorry… but…” The “but” negated everything you said prior to and is a sign you need to keep working at the problem to figure it out.)

An apology must be informed. It is inappropriate to ask for mercy from someone unless you have articulated and understand the offense that occurred (the consistent balance sheet I was mentioning earlier).

This takes effort and humility, yet it is a process that cannot be glossed over in the interest of just getting the problem solved and moving on to the next thing.

On the flip side, apologies cannot be demanded. We can’t force someone to apologize to us, especially if they don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong.

That knowledge, however, doesn’t take away the need for the apology in order to achieve reconciliation. I believe that is why the Scripture states: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 It’s not a black and white issue.

Humans are going to mess this process up. So do the best you can with the tools you’ve got to work with right now and keep praying for opportunities to practice and become better.

We do what we can do to live at peace. Sometimes that fails and we walk for a season without reconciliation, trusting that the Holy Spirit will continue to work on the situation and ready for the next opportunity to approach it.

In my current season of begging for forgiveness I’ve reached out to apologize to folks I haven’t spoken to in years. Like I’ve had kids who weren’t born when we talked last and now that same kid is getting their adult molars!

It took me that long to realize I had an account that needed reconciliation.

But when I realized it… I moved. I refuse to let pride, insecurity, or embarrassment stop me from trying to make things right.

That’s all I can do. And that’s all I am asked to do.

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