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Harmony Art Mom’s Journal September

Mother’s Journal – In Admiration of the Season

September 2017

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” Claude Monet


Looking around my room this morning as I write this, I see a scene that tells the tale of my life right now. There is a box with summer clothes stacked on top of it because I haven’t taken time to fold them as I swap out my summer and cold weather clothes. I see a stack of framed photos that are still, after five months of living here, sitting on the floor. My nightstand is piled up with my Bible, my planner, a bunch of pens, and my diffuser. There is a fleece blanket on the big chair and the down comforter is on the bed.  Everything seems in transition.


It is the change of the season, a time for reflection.

It also is a time for planning and anticipating a new adventure that will include colder temperatures and snow, lots of snow.

But in the meantime, I have other things swirling around in my mother’s head. Serious things that make me think about who I am as a mother right now. And, it is as always, the realizing that I am not in complete control of everything and even though it’s hard, I will be okay if I just don’t give up.

I consider myself an experienced mom. For a while now, I have even thought that I had being a mom to grown children sort of figured out. The last month has dissolved that notion. My two youngest boys, now in their twenties, have moved back home as they shift from one phase to another in their lives. Just like the physical season, it’s a time of family transition as well.


My husband and I were just establishing a routine with the two of us since his retirement. Our daily rhythms were fairly easy going and we accomplished a lot both around the house, in our volunteer work, and in having a really good time exploring our new area together on foot and in our kayaks.

I did not anticipate how much having the boys at home would make us reshuffle our lives again.


So once again I am writing a new chapter in my “mother’s journal”.  This is the chapter where I humbly accept that the modern family is very different than the one I grew up in and my children need to have support a little bit longer than expected. I need to accept that I’m going to be the “sandwich generation” where, on some level, I’ll still be supporting my grown children at the same time as I’m caring for my parents.

All of this does not mean that I’m unhappy. Rather, it has made me be firm in my resolve to simplify my life enough that I can remain flexible to take advantage of snatches of time during each day that I can enjoy this amazing place that we have moved to in Oregon, remain resolved to continue my activities that nurture my needs like my volunteer work, and still have time to enjoy having my family around me.

So for now, I’ll be trying to create a positive attitude about our family situation and savor the moments of time I have with us all here in Oregon. The photos will be hung soon enough and the boxes will be packed and stored away. In the meantime, I’ll be gathering memories of this first autumn we have in our new home next to the willows and river.  I’ll watch as the birds migrate through (like the Sandhill cranes!) and hang up extra feeders for the ones that want to stay awhile.

Maybe I should welcome my two boys as migrant birds; they are here for a season and then they will fly off to a new place.

What Does a Retired Homeschol Mom Do?

What Does a Retired Homeschool Mom Do @harmonyfinearts

What does a retired homeschooling mom do? Well, this retired homeschooling mom just started tutoring a few students AND acting as an advisor to a new homeschooling mom. What fun! I didn’t think this was something I ever wanted to do but it in fact has become a great joy…something that brings me such satisfaction. I love it when life opens a door of opportunity at just the right time.

I have missed teaching so much, and so far I am only tutoring math but it’s enough to add a missing element to my days. It’s easy to step back into the role of teacher and guide and it feels “oh so right” to use the skills I have developed over the past two decades to benefit another homeschooling mom who is overwhelmed and struggling a bit.

I had forgotten the way it feels to have someone look at you after a tutoring session and utter the words, “I get it!” You feel good and they feel empowered.

As far as advising a new homeschooling mom, it’s a situation where she is new to the idea of homeschooling as a lifestyle. She felt trapped in a “school at home” model and was unhappy with that method of teaching. I explained that she could change a few things in the way she presented her subjects to make it more in line with her family’s style and interests. She is clearly on the right path now and I look forward to talking with her again soon to see how things are going.

Word of mouth has brought me another opportunity to help someone locally with homeschooling.  I’m passionate about learning and teaching and am pleased that others have found value in this as well.  I’m not sure where all this is heading, but for the first time in a long time I’m beginning to see a path beyond where I am now. I was feeling a bit like a horse put out to pasture, long before I was ready for that to happen.


Stay tuned to see how it all turns out!


Overwhelmed and Trying to Decide What is Important

I often times receive questions from moms that ask me how I handled certain real life homeschool situations. I’m thinking my answer to the email below might be something that would benefit other moms who read the Harmony Art Mom blog. I think she expressed a common homeschool situation and I tried to give her my honest feedback that may help you too.


I just don’t know how to pare things down and still cover the most important stuff!  Do you have any suggestions?  And really, what is THE MOST IMPORTANT stuff, with all the subjects out there, we can’t possibly cover it all.

Okay, now to be really honest–  I do have several close homeschooling friends, but the main reason I am reaching out to you is that so much of what you hold dear as most important in your home school days I can relate to.  I just need help figuring out how to get to the side you were able to get to and I am not sure I know where to start.  I feel barraged at times with all the things I could teach them and all the time it takes to cover material well.

I just about cried seeing your pinterest boards because I think deep down, it’s where we need to be with our schooling but I find it hard to incorporate notebooking, nature studies, art and music.  I am really inspired by the resource lists you’ve provided on Amazon and your Squiddo lens (now found on Hubpages)- so helpful.  Thank-you from the bottom of my heart.  So much wonderful food for thought. 

Here’s a question: When you have your kids verbally narrate or write a response to their reading, how do you know it is good?  Sometimes, I use Sonlight’s reading and comp questions and my kids can’t answer them.  If they write a summary, I’ve noticed many times a lot is left out and the main points are not covered. 

Another thing that I am dumbfounded about is that we had the book, Around the World in 80 Days to read according to our Sonlight schedule and one of my kids finally spoke up and told me she couldn’t understand any of the words- I told her to put the book down and we’d move on from there.  It was discouraging though because I always have to wonder about what level is right for my kids.  They couldn’t comprehend it at all. 

Okay, I apologize for rambling!  I hope you are in a season of life where you can give a few brief points of advice to me, I really appreciate your time and your heart for homeschooling that you’ve shared over the years.  I’m sure you have blessed a lot of people, including us!

Virtuozo by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky

Here is my response:

First of all, I totally understand how overwhelming it can be to face homeschooling choices that all seem to be great and you want to include them all. If you have read my posts, you know that I evolved my ideas over time and would many time times mid-year have a crisis. I think that is all a sign of a teacher who is learning how to adapt to circumstance and your student’s needs. It is a good thing.

Just a first thought. Around the World in 80 Days is hard. We tackled it together in high school. Plus the first time we went through it we did it as a book on tape.…which helped with the language and vocabulary quite a bit. If your girls tell you the book is too hard, read it with them for a bit and see for yourself. There were books we crossed off our list because they were too hard to get through. Remember you are trying to instill a love of reading and learning and if they absolutely hate a book it’s not the end of the world.

School Girls by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky

You know what your family’s “important stuff” is so make a list and plan out the next four years for your 9th grader…a tentative plan to include all the things you think she should cover. Then make sure it is reasonable. A couple of hard courses a year is a good goal. If you are leaning towards a Charlotte Mason sort of education, divide the books up into small bites and read slowly and expect oral or written narration every day. I tried to take my child’s interests and strengths into account and their long term goals when I was picking what was important. In high school I let them help pick courses too and that made them more invested.

Garden in the Rue Carcel by Paul Gauguin

The trick to making your homeschool more like mine is to plan and implement some afternoons each week that you all can do art, music, and nature study together. Academics are great but you are also homeschooling your children so you can allow some freedom for just being a kid and family. Give yourself permission to take even a couple of hours each week to take a nature hike and don’t expect anything except to explore and maybe grow into using a nature journal. Take it one step at a time.

Pull some art books from the library or view art online together. Listen to some classical music online and drink tea and just enjoy. See where it takes you. It will end up being your family’s thing or it won’t but you won’t know unless you try. Just add one thing at a time and don’t get overwhelmed. There should be some joy or it isn’t worth all the work.

I think IEW will greatly help with your narration problem because his plans are not just about writing. They help the student get the main ideas and articulate them on paper. I highly recommend IEW to all homeschooling families.

Hopefully this helps and you can get going again. I had my moments during my homeschooling years but I found just changing up one thing sometimes was enough to make me feel more successful.

All the best to you,

Barb McCoy

Harmony Art Mom Seasoned Mom Tip

If you have a homeschooling question, you are always welcome to email it directly to me and I will answer as best I can.



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