What would you say are the pros and cons with home schooling kids?

“What would you say are the pros and cons with home schooling kids?”-Elisabeth

I will attempt to tackle this HUGE subject…but not alone. I will also be providing links. One of the best answers to this can be found on Sonlight’s page titled, THE BENEFITS (AND DISADVANTAGES) OF HOMESCHOOLING. Sonlight is where I buy the core of my homeschool material from. I love the emphasis on reading. The first year we used it my fifth grader reported, “I read 45 books this year. In school I would have read three text books.” Ok, back to the subject on hand:

School trip to the Alamo

School trip to the Alamo


  • The time we get to spend as a family
  • We can travel and experience life without giving up learning
  • I get to chose the emphasis (strong readers for example) and can highlight my children’s strengths
  • I am fully accountable for their behavior- well, really they are but you get my point.


  • THE PAPERWORK! I’m not a fan of paperwork but I do want full report cards and yearly test results…yuck, paperwork.
  • The fact that, after listing paperwork, I need to go read Sonlights page to try to remember the cons….
  • Nope…still not finding the rest. Oh, yeah. I’m fully accountable for their behavior-well, really they are, but I can’t blame it on the school system or the teacher or the kid that is bullying them…some days I want to blame someone else (just a little).

Most of the other ‘cons’ are things I found to be true when our kids were also in school. I want to spend time with my children. Once they are 18 and they go their own way…I want the memories. I don’t mind justifying my choices, I do it all the time with my horses…don’t my kids deserve the same? If I feel ‘behind’ when homeschooling all I need to do is talk to a friend with kids ‘in school’ to remember that the school system isn’t perfect either.

I should also be clear that my kids have been in school for years at a time. I have no problem with kids going to school and if we choose to settle down again and my boys want to go back to school they will have that choice. I do know that it was easier to be disconnected from my boys education when they were in school…which is a pro and a con:)


Was it a good day or a productive day?

In bed, just before you go to sleep, do you ever stop to think ‘Did I have a good day?’

Was it a good day or a productive day?

Was it a good day or…

How do you define a ‘good’ day?


Does good mean productive?


Does it mean you nurtured relationships you value?


Does it mean you did something for yourself?

Is ‘good’ the measuring stick you want to use or is there a better question? Often the more clear we are with the questions we ask ourselves, the sooner we find the answers we are looking for.


What is the purpose of attending school?

As we start another year of homeschooling, I find myself once again stressing over the choices of curriculum. Which science book is best? Do we need the matching notebook, test book, quiz book, DVD, audio…the choices can be overwhelming.boys

Then I stop and think about the point of school. What is the point?

Am I drilling them so they can pass tests? Am I hoping they will find their passion when they are exposed to a new subject? Am I trying to teach them a life long love of learning?

The answer is a little of all of these and more. No wonder I feel such pressure.

But, really, I am also keenly interested in them being wonderful human beings. We may accomplish some, or all, of the goals above…but if I don’t accomplish this last one…will any of the rest matter?

Laundry lessons-location, size, gentle or clean?

I didn’t expect to learn this much about laundry. When we were packing up the house everyone warned us that the kitchen would be the most likely place for me to

Keeping up with laundry while on the road

Keeping up with laundry while on the road

underestimate (they were right) but on the road it looks like laundry might be my undoing.

When we moved into the apartment in Texas I hit Craigslist and found a man who repaired and sold washers and dryers in Wichita Falls. In a seamless transition I went from my giant 4.2 cubic foot top load washer in Ohio to a tiny washer that may have been around when my mother was born.

Oddly enough I learned three things from this move.

1) Location, location, location-my giant washer in our former house was located in the basement. I never considered this to be an issue…until I had the washer and dryer in the bathroom of our apartment. Part of the ‘dreaded’ laundry chore appears to have been the location of our former washer and dryer. It sounds silly but it is sooooo much easier to to throw a load in the washer or move it into the dryer on the way in and out of the bathroom…a place that it is normal to be in and out of multiple times during the day, unlike the basement.

2) Bigger isn’t always better-my huge washer could handle about twice the load that my apartment washer could. I remember thinking how great it was that I could wash ALL the jeans when they were dirty…but what I didn’t realize was that I had quickly moved to ONLY washing laundry when I could fill the washer…which was when we all ran out of cloths. Oddly enough the location of the smaller washer and the fact that I could fill it with less actually encouraged me to do laundry more often, yet in a more casual way. The smaller loads were also less daunting for folding and putting away …who knew smaller loads could be better.

3) Gentle or clean- the two washers, small and old vs large and new, also seem to have one other noticeable difference. The small and old washer excelled at cleaning our dirty barn jeans, something we had noticed was a challenge for our new and large washer. It appears that the old fashioned agitator in the middle of the washer and/or the amount of water really does get cloths cleaner but at a cost. The old washer excelled with jeans but also removes years of life from more delicate items. A new dressy shirt from ‘The Loft’ within a load or two looked like a yard sale item…not an easy lesson. It seems that the new washer can seriously extend the life of nicer garments.

We moved out of the apartment three weeks ago and I made my first trip to a laundry mat last week. Laundry mats seem to encourage a return to my former ‘only wash when everything is dirty’ theory of washing. True, with that many washer and dryers I am more efficient but now I have a whole new learning curve of setting, temperatures and determining the wear and tear on clothing.

Unless I experience a new revelation, I think the next home we own will have the washer and dry on the first floor…and very likely located in the bathroom or on some other high traffic path. When we started this adventure I never would have guessed that laundry would provide this many lessons.



Downsizing the house into an apartment

Bowie bathroom

Apartment bathroom decorated western at Major Cattle Co. Bowie, Texas

Tomorrow will mark two weeks of being here in Bowie, Texas, the official first leg of our nomadic journey. The first week was spent mostly unpacking. I thought we had packed light…until we were unpacking. So far I have thrown away two large garbage bags of stuff I thought was important enough to bring with us from Ohio.

On the flip side, during the last 24 hours of packing in Ohio, I focused on the house and Jesse focused on the barn. It became apparent after unpacking here in Texas that one box I packed from the house didn’t make the trip…and one box he packed in the barn also didn’t make it here. Jesse suspects his box accidentally went to storage…I suspect that mine was either donated or given away. Strangely enough we have learned to live without those things easily. Interesting.

The move also involved us going from around 1,800 square feet of living space in our former house down to 800 square feet in the apartment. I kept saying this was a good idea, a great way to see if we could ever live full time in an RV where 400 sq. feet is more common. I have been pleasantly surprised. I really enjoy the smaller place!

Bowie kitchen

Apartment kitchen decorated western at Major Cattle Co. Bowie, Texas

I can plug the vacuum in one spot and vacuum the whole house without unplugging! I had no idea how much easier a small place would be to clean. During the move from Ohio it became clear that more space invited more clutter.

Also the smaller living space seems to encourage more group activities or outdoor activities. The weather has also helped us with this…70, 72, and 79 degrees in February is a treat for us!

Holly and Mike Major have been great. They own the place, Major Cattle Co. if you are looking them up online. I knew Holly had great taste from visiting her in Colorado. I need her to dress me! And decorate my house, where ever that ends up being. Just look at these photos of the apartment we are living in that they decorated.

Also, the photo at the top taken in Bowie is right in front of Mike and Holly’s house. I snapped the photo while taking Popcorn for a ride around the property with Jesse two nights ago. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when spring official starts here.

I also need to re-read this quote to keep myself focused. Maybe I need to schedule this for regular reading, once a month? Once a week?

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. ”

-James A. Michener

Yep, that quote helps me focus. Until next time.

-Stacy Westfall

On the road for the big move; ice, snow, and 70 degree weather!

We packed up and left our house of the last 14 years on Valentines Day. It was crazy.

For all the packing we had done before hand it still wasn’t enough. Even with help it was clear that we would be up all night to get finished. By 4 AM I was expressing concerns about our sanity and considering that selling may have been a mistake. By 4:30 AM, while bending over one of my beloved totes, I think I actually fell asleep while standing! I lost time somehow anyway…

At 5:40 AM we decided to take a nap. I set an alarm for 7:30…but we both woke up before 7 AM and were packing again.

And then it happened…we pulled out of the drive for the very last time…very tired.coffee shop

I had joked that I would be happy if we only drove an hour from home and then got a hotel. Turns out we drove for six and a half hours but with snow and ice we only covered as much road as we should have covered in three hours. We decide to call it quits and find a horse motel (horse motel.com) and a human hotel.

The next day the roads had improved and we had slept some but I still thought the day called for caffeine…and lots of it. I found a great little coffee shop, Cafe Royal,  in New Castle, IN where I had one of the best lattes EVER! It had sea-salt sprinkled on top. Really!

I will stop there for sure the next time we drive through.  If you drive through you should stop and try it too.

(Focus Stacy, focus, no lattes here in Bowie…)

The coffee shop also sold little chocolate covered coffee beans which came in handy later in the trip!coffee beans

The best part of the coffee trip for me though was arriving back at the hotel to pick up my husband and kids. I could see in Jesse’s eyes that he wished we hit the road earlier…but he took a deep breath and smiled. No guilt trip about me and my coffee hunt or anything else. My husband is much better at the ‘art of  living’…even if my idea of ‘living’ interferes with his plans. That is impressive!

Thankfully the rest of the trip was less eventful. We stopped another night and I found a Caribou Coffee in MO! Made my day….

That and the fact that the closer we got to Texas the warmer the weather was…72 degrees!

The trip ended up taking three days when we really could have done it in two. Taking three allowed for the extra bathroom stops, eating stops and coffee stops…and that lets me know that we are on our way to learning how to to master the art of living!


I expected more people to ask us ‘why’; selling our home, living like nomads

I think I expected more people to ask us ‘why’ when we said we were going to sell our home and live like nomads for awhile. I probably expected it because I find myself asking ‘why are we doing this’ almost daily.Stacy Wedding photo

The first cycle of why began when we talked about selling.

The second cycle happened when we re-listed the house a year later.

The third cycle happened when we went into contract and closed on the sale. But it didn’t stop then. In fact, to my surprise, I find myself asking ‘why’ more now than before. Probably because I keep finding more reasons.

Sometimes the answer to why is simple. Two days ago, in the midst of packing, I asked my husband, “Tell me again why we are doing this?”

Sensing I was near my breaking point he gave me a simple, solid answer, “Ultimately, this isn’t where we want to be.”

Good answer. Simple. Solid. Leaves open the idea we can return to this area. This is the answer I use for a life-jacket when I am drowning in this experience.

Sometimes the answer to why is complicated. Today when I asked the question of myself I was drawn to a quote;

Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think. ~Chinese Proverb

We both lost our fathers before we reached the age of 40, Jesse and I.Jesse Westfall wedding photo

On a day like today I wonder how much of a role that may play. What would they have done differently if they had known?  What would I have done differently  will I do differently?

Stripping away the false security of our home, our belongings and our familiar life has re-awakened my desire to know more. Most people want to know ‘how’ and on some days I want to know that too.

But I really want to know ‘why?’…because I have often found that the answer to ‘why’ is really the only answer I need.

What medical records do you really need copies of?

My doctors office doesn’t want me to be responsible for my own medical records.

I take that back. MY doctors office said, “You can pick up the records on Monday.”

I asked, “Is there any charge?”

She replied, “No. One free copy if you’re moving.”

It is the KIDS doctor that is not so easy. When I asked them for copies they told me that when I found a new doctor they could transfer the records then. I explained we were not going directly to another doctor and asked for copies I could carry. She put me on hold. Upon returning she informed me that I could 1) come fill out the paperwork 2) they would look for the files 3) they would price the job 4) I could decide if I still want the files.

“Oh, were your kids seen here before ’02?”Doctor in Medical Record's room.

“Yes, from birth. Your office moved in ’02.”

“Oh, there will be an additional fee for the paper records in storage.”

“Ok, can you give me a price range on what this might possibly cost.”

“Not really.”

“Can you put me on hold and get an estimate within a range of $100, give or take”

“No. I have asked before and it could be $60 or up.”

“Is there any range?”


“Ok. I’ll come fill out the paperwork.”

Wow. Two different doctors offices, two completely different responses. I guess I just wait to see what they will be charging me and decide then.

Is it that important to take this info with me? Or if something happens do we just call back in and get records sent at that time?

What records are really needed anyway?

I want to be responsible for my own records. I AM responsible for my own animals records. Strange, it is easier to get records on my horses than on my kids….