High Summer ~ Garden, Work & Homeschool

Continued from High Summer ~ Family, Travel & Outdoors


Not travelling extensively this summer has allowed me to invest more time (and reap the rewards) in my garden.

garlic planted last fall

Somehow I managed to plant a garden this spring in the midst of drama season. I've had less than a handful (probably 3) dedicated garden days since April. Drama season was followed by camping season (yay!) and weekends of family visits and travel. And weekdays are for working - my job, general homemaking, and homeschooling responsibilities.

So mostly I've gardened in the institial spaces of my life. On my lunch breaks, during the evenings, the odd Saturday morning, and with the help of my mom during her visit.

I started gardening, years ago, as a way to spend hours outdoors with the kids, which then evolved into a pursuit and passion unto itself.

Gardening is one of my spiritual disciplines, a way of bringing beauty into the world. It brings me immense pleasure to grow and nurture beauty. So my gardening focus leans heavily towards perennial flower beds but I also love the practicality and utility of a small vegetable garden. (We have a great space for growing food, we should utilize it.)

I've been doing both this summer and my pleasure in the process has confirmed for me that gardening (when the scope is contained) is one of my life's joys and pleasures.

Gardening in Spring, painting by Laurent

With all the moving, backpacking, and traveling of the last 7 summers I haven't been gardening very much. It's been very rewarding for me to return to that activity this summer.

Home Projects

We don't have a lot of projects going on. Something we love about renting is not having to spend a lot of time maintaining, fixing, or otherwise working on our home. It's just not our current life stage or interest but I do love a well-organized, welcoming, and cozy home and really enjoy home-making projects that nurture that kind of environment.

When Dad was here he refinished our dining room table, which throughout our family life served as the kids' craft table before moving to Montreal where it became the one-and-only dining/craft/project table. It still bears the marks of its previous life, this table has supported many years of making, but it now shows its true pine colors and woodgrain and I love the new look. Thanks Dad!

Before Laurent left for camp the two of us thoroughly cleaned and organized his room. Which probably delighted me more than him, in part because he did most of the work and even purchased his first two pieces of IKEA furniture to organize all his art supplies and projects. See IG for before, during and after pictures.

His room is currently the most well-organized room in the whole house, which gives me great delight to share it with my parents (and other guests) in their travels.

Next month's big project: defrost the freezer. Exciting stuff I tell you, but that's about the extent of the summer house projects.

Working & Homeschool

Someday I'll publish more details about my job, it's a post(s) in the works but suffice to say, working part-time through the summer - at a job as opposed to personal projects I've done in past years - is a new reality. And even though it's location independent with lots of flexibility, I don't think I could work and travel the way Damien is able to, and the way he did our last two summers of working roadtrips.

My work on those trips was to support the family and keep all the necessary homemaking tasks (laundry, meals, financial management) going while on the road. As I've said before, they are working vacations, but they have allowed us to see a lot of things, on the cheap, as a family. Experiences I will always treasure.

This summer I'm learning what summer looks like with a part-time job, on top of my other homemaking and homeschool tasks. It's so different than when the kids were little and my days revolved around homemaking and fun summer activities.

Now the days are devoted to work that pays the bills, keeps the household functioning, and makes sure the kids are being educated, and the fun is in the evenings and on the weekends (and we do pack it in). It's been a good and necessary transition, I'm looking forward to telling you more about it.

Homeschool continues through the summer for my high schoolers, except while at camp. I help with some of the kids' studies, when they get stuck on something, but my big homeschool responsibilities are planning, record keeping, post-secondary guidance and career counselling.

I am still finishing Celine's high school portfolio (she graduated last year) and I'll be using her transcript and portfolio as a template for Laurent's academic portfolio. Which I hope to start in August. I simply cannot take 2 years to complete his but having done one I have all the templates and formatting figured out. There are very few Canadian-context resources available for creating high school graduation transcripts and portfolios for self-directed/non-standard (eg: not graded) homeschool through high school students.

These portfolios are not to be confused with the portfolios my oldest two are currently building to apply to post-secondary programs in fine art and design. Those are the kids' responsibility and they showcase their artistic work and skill. The portfolios I'm creating are a summary of their entire high school education.

Things are different for Brienne. She's a different type of student - standards-achievement orientated, "tell me what I need to do" - and she is self-directing her education towards a more traditional, teacher and curriculum driven model of education.

We're serious about letting our kids' pursue their interests and providing an education suited to their needs and desires. Which in Brienne's case means a more traditional schooling situation.

Oh the irony. And yet, also a true expression of being a self-directed and self-motivated learner. She's learned what motivates her and it's primarily external systems and structures. She's internally driven to check the boxes, know what's expected and meet those expectations. This is how she wants to direct her education. More power to her.

We've been considering all the options for the remaining three years of Brienne's high school journey. I'm not particularly pleased with the options here in Quebec but hey, nothing is perfect and we're figuring out how to make the most of what's available, within the context of our family situation so that Brienne will get the education she wants.

It will be a different high school experience than Celine and Laurent. It will be hers and I'm excited for that. I love that my kids get to be themselves.

so many scooters in Montreal

I've done more education planning this summer than I have for many years. (Like so many other Quebec homeschoolers coming into compliance with new regulations, which don't apply to me at this stage of the game.)

The kids' education and well-being still remains my primary responsibility and it's certainly the work of my life that takes the most emotional energy.

And that's the summer, at the mid-way point.

To be continued...

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  • Abby

    Abby on July 27, 2018, 9:26 p.m.

    Renee, I'm just beginning to try to figure this out for my older son- "creating high school graduation transcripts and portfolios for self-directed/non-standard (eg: not graded) homeschool through high school students." Any tips, sources, etc. you can share? Would Celine be comfortable sharing hers as a help to others? Thanks, for any and all advice and help!


    • Renee

      Renee on July 30, 2018, 11:53 a.m.

      Hi Abby, I would love to offer other families support around this and I have an idea in mind for how I can do that, but that will have to wait a couple months.

      I've been working on Celine's transcript and high school portfolio for 3 years (started researching etc, while she was still in high school) and there's just too many ideas and "how I've done it" details to share here. The main thing I've done is I've learned how to frame things in school-speak. Being a writer helps with this. I basically took everything she did, most of it was not schooly in nature, and figured how to write it up as a course or project description. It's like my work was to translate her education into something that would make sense to someone trying to evaluate her skills and knowledge from a school-mindset. I think I"ve done that successfully.

      I do plan to share more about this but it will be a couple months before I can get to that. I will talk to Celine about sharing parts of her portfolio and transcript. It's always been my intention to do so for other homeschool parents. To add my own experience and work to the homeschooling through highschool shared knowledge base. Like open source software :)

      Stay tune for more about this.


      • Abby

        Abby on July 30, 2018, 3:48 p.m.

        Thanks, Renee- that totally makes sense, both your methodology and your needing more time before sharing. Though it frustrates me a bit that we have to translate exciting, dynamic "out of the box" learning into "school speak," if that makes sense? I appreciate your willingness to share- and will definitely be staying tuned!


  • Renee

    Renee on July 30, 2018, 3:58 p.m.

    Abby, Oh yes, I totally relate to the frustration about having to translate. But then I realize and remember we humans do this for each other all the time, translating our experiences into language that other people understand, for the purpose of connection and explanation.

    So I get frustrated (grr... why is society set up this way that I have to prove my kid in school-speak, mumble, mumble) but I ameliorate that with the truth that people translate stuff for me all the time. Simplifying things (like technical things I don't understand), trying to understand my frame of reference (as a white, middle class, christian, north american) to explain their truth, their life experience which is so different from mine, etc. Translating things for other people, into their frame of reference us bridge gaps.

    I feel better when I think about it this way. I'm helping somebody else understand and get an idea for my daughter's schooling in a framework familiar to them. I'm reaching out to them, where they are at, meeting them on their terms (as so many people do for me!) and hopefully my little bit of translation will broaden understanding of education and expand the the experience and mindset of those reading it.


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