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This quote really struck me today.  There is so much truth in this.  SO MUCH TRUTH!

I had some extra time this morning and just thought I'd share a few things of what's been happening in the life of this Orthodox Mom.

Well, maybe it's not so much as extra time as time I carved out while the rest of the morning rests in chaos around me.

Well maybe it's not so much chaos as just not what I planned.

I tend to look at things that way.  If it's not what I planned I go into chaos mode.  Can anyone relate?

So I'm going grocery shopping on my own again this morning. Anyone else dislike grocery shopping?  It's not so much that it's a terrible task; but they are remodeling the store and it's a mess right now and I kind of got used to my husband going with me but that routine has been lost for some time now and while I enjoy the alone time there are so many other things I'd rather be doing during alone time than grocery shopping.

Of course, the chimney sweep guy is here and has disrupted my schedule and he's still working on the upstairs pellet stove and hasn't even gotten downstairs to the big pellet furnace, so I may not get to do the shopping today.... hmmmm.....

There's so much going on that this post will probably be a big rambling mumbo jumbo kind of post but maybe we just need to do that sometimes.

I have two graduations coming up soon-  no , not my own but if feels that way.  My daughter is graduating from college and my son is graduating from high school.  He's essentially done other than a few lose strings so I really should get around to making sure that diploma gets ordered.  It's amazing how time flies.  And then we have our youngest who is???  Technically, according to age and public school junk, would be labeled first grade but I don't really call him anything according to grade level because we just don't do things accordingly to that.  What does grade level really mean?  It's just a label for public schools because they do things a certain way for all kids regardless of their needs or interests.  I don't go by that.

I have an appointment this afternoon with a new practitioner - new to me anyway- she has a practice right here in Williamsport PA that I didn't know about and offers quite a selection of 'unconventional' testing including the ALCAT food sensitivity testing I just had done.  I'm awaiting those results with anticipation and dread.  Solving  my health issues is a BIG priority as it relates to EVERYTHING in my life  but I dread the results that will tell me to give up foods I love or make my life more difficult with food prep, especially when it impacts our ability to travel or go and do things we love to do.  My heart is already heavy this week as we are unable to go somewhere that is a yearly family event for us simply because of food.  And the lack of understanding from others of how difficult that is is also disheartening.  It's not a choice.  It's not something we WANT.  It just is.

I'm trying to get back into the mode of homeschooling too.  Everything was going smoothly and then Holy Week came which, naturally and in a good way, causes disruption, but then I had a downslide with the fatigue and pain and really didn't get back into this past week either.  Except for one lesson with nutrition (it's time to start teaching him why we eat the way we do and I'm using Food Renegade's nutrition book for young kids as my guide to get started) and we finally finished the second Life of Fred book- which he absolutely LOVES!  He and Dad went for a walk in the park yesterday as well and looked at some plants and seeds so I guess he got some science/nature study in as well.  And Free Play is wonderful.  We parents of school aged kids tend to forget how important that is and that a day of play really is education and learning.  So I need not feel guilty for lack of planned learning activities, but should relax and rejoice in our freedom to learn as is appropriate.

I'm trying to reorganize my day to day plans....how I go about my plans in a more relaxed but organized in a simplistic manner so to speak.  I'm eyeing up some books on simplicity, organization and getting things done but am hesitant because I don't want to buy a book and feel like I HAVE to do it exactly the way they say it should be done.  Does that make sense?  Am I the only soul in this world that can buy a book to make life more simple only to make it more difficult?

Anyway, I have my schedule of the things that have to get done.  And I have my list of 7 projects to work on when time allows.... but it's simplified.  I only write a small step of what the next thing to that project needs to be.  It's a new approach I'm trying.  So instead of writing "Clean Closet", the next step is simply to make sure I have all the clothes off the floor.  Once that's accomplished, I can plan the next step for the project.  I'm much more likely to go get the clothes off the floor then clean the whole thing.  That my friends, is the beginning of stopping procrastination.   Or so I hope.

Another example is my kitchen.  I keep wanting to reorganize and declutter  the whole thing.  Well writing Kitchen Reorganization of my list of things to do has been ignored for months.  But when I write "Clean out papers from junk basket", it's more likely to get done because it's a focus of just one thing.  And note, I didn't say clean out the whole basket (thought it did eventually happen), but just the papers.  One small step, but so gratifying when you can cross it off the list.

I'm trying to figure out where I want to go with my Lemongrass Spa business and this blog.  I'd really like to at least make enough with the LGS business to pay for my own products and maybe at least pay for the occasional book or clothing purchase and feel like I'm bringing something in to help my overworked and overstressed husband.

And I'd love to make a bigger impact on my readers and get more interaction here at the blog.  I've worked on some changes already and obviously, working on being more consistent with the posts.  It's a work in progress and I enjoy it.  I wish I had time to write everyday but-  well, you know 😉

Well, I guess that's all for my musings and ramblings today---  time to work on the ever growing laundry pile and that to do list!

I'd love to hear from you.  What are your thoughts on the blog these days and what is going on in YOUR life?

 

Book Title:  Free to Learn:  Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier,More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

Author:  Peter Gray

Genre: Psychology

Publisher:  Basic Books (A Member of the Perseus Books Group)

Why Did I Choose It?  I chose this book after asking a friend to give me her favorite resources on unschooling as I have become more and more interested in this type of education for my youngest son.  She recommended any book by Peter Gray or John Holt.  This was the book title that intrigued me the most in my brief search of the authors.

A Bit From The Back Cover:  In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that to foster children who will thrive in today's constant changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development. Drawing on evidence from anthropology, psychology, and history, he demonstrates that free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient...

Review:  This book was amazing.  Absolutely amazing and I'm sooo sorry I didn't read it 12 years ago when we first pulled out daughter out of the public schools to homeschool.  I think I was in the right mindset then, to let her be and learn in a less structured way but let the years of public education and judgments of others cloud my thinking and raise my self-doubt and anxiety to the point of basically doing 'school at home' for a several years with only a bit of freedom here and there.  But enough about my failings...  here's the thing about this book!

Free to Learn is the most comprehensive and convincing book on how children (naturally) learn that I’ve ever read, and being a dedicated homeschool mom and former public educator, I have certainly read quite a few books on how children learn!  Gray includes an extensive amount of research in this book. Actually, the beginning which focused on hunter-gatherer cultures drove me a little batty...but I stuck with it and I'm glad I did.  Really , I totally get why he included it all and it is relevant and very important to his overall message. Dr. Gray also included an abundant amount of other research as well as well as  his personal experience as a parent and experiences with Sudbury Valley - a highly unconventional school but one with idealistic standards! Free to Learn explains, and includes the research that proves it, how we can work with a child's natural drives to learn and not using the compulsory education system which forces lessons, standardized tests, and activities that crush a child's innate drives to learn.

The overall message of this book is that children must play and explore to learn (and that the way children are taught in most schools today denies that to a harmful effect). He presents overwhelming scientific evidence that play and exploration, self-directed learning, and being in mixed age groups (something most public schools restrict)  permit children  come to their full potentials and enable them to grow, learn and develop positively and naturally. “Children need freedom in order to be happy, to learn how to be responsible, and to develop the character traits needed to deal with life’s inevitable dangers and setbacks.”

“Nothing that we do, no amount of toys we buy or ‘quality time’ or special training we give our children, can compensate for the freedom we take away. The things that children learn through their own initiatives, in free play, cannot be taught in other ways.”

If you want an understanding of why schools today are failing and we are not finding the results we seek from our standard system, or simply why 'schooling at home' (mimicking the public school system at home)  is still  not the most beneficial answer and  what can actually be done differently with success, I  strongly urge you  to read this book. I sincerely believe that the overall message of Free to Learn has the potential to direct our culture toward a better system- whether public or private or at home.

"...self-directed learning and free play permit children to realize their optimum abilities to learn, grow, and develop naturally and positively..."

Notes About The Author:  Peter Gray, Ph.D.,  is a research professor in the Department of Psychology at Boston College and author of the college textbook, Psychology, now in its seventh edition.  He writes the Freedom to Learn Blog for Psychology Today.  Peter Gray is a well-known critic of the  standard educational systems. He speaks often to groups of parents and educators about children’s needs for free play and the detrimental effects of the current methods of schooling, Mr. Gray, along with other concerned citizens, has created a website titled AlternativesToSchool.com.

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As parents, we can simply SHUT UP! If we can sit back and listen to ourselves, we can hear how much negative harassment we throw at our kids.  If a parent would seriously and objectively listen to what he says (through his child's ears), he would be appalled and could probably with some effort change that kind of "No".

I think here of Lisey (then 3) who was pouring herself a glass of milk yesterday.  She had gotten it from the fridge, opened it, poured from a fat 2-quart carton a very small juice-glass of milk, had drunk it, then had gotten a paper towel and was wiping up the milk spilt on the table.  There was more milk spilt than the towel could absorb so as she wiped now, the milk was being pushed off the table onto the floor.

I walked in at this point and started with the running "No, No" commentary in a whiny voice:  "oooooh, no, Lisey, you should have asked someone to pour you a glass of milk-no, don't wipe it up, it's going on the floor; now stop, don't do it, I'll do it, it's bad enough on the table- look, now you've got it on the floor- you're making more work for me."

Happily at this point I was struck by a rare beam of sanity and it said to me, "Oh, quit being such a bitch, Lisey has just poured her first glass of milk all by herself and you're ruining the whole thing for her."

And suddenly I looked and saw a very little girl trying very hard to grow up- trying to wipe up herself the mess she had made getting herself a drink of milk.  And I said, "Lisey, I think Sparkle (dog) would like this extra milk."

Lisey stopped and looked at me.  I had finally said something of meaning.  All the negative harassment up till then she had been trying to ignore.  I said, "If you get Sparkle's dishe, we can put the milk in it."

She got it and we did.

And immediately she began an animated chatter about how Sparkle would like this milk and how she had poured them both a drink of milk, etc.  Until then, she had barely said one word. In fact, if I had pushed her far enough- "Ok, Lisey, get out of the kitchen while I clean up your mess"- she would have probably ended up crying (over spilt milk!).

But the happy ending here did not require much effort on my part because I wasn't very emotionally involved.  My mind could still be objective about the situation to the extend of being ale to control and change it.

The above was taken from Teach Your Own (The John Holt book of Homeschooling) by John Holt.  It really struck me this morning as I read this passage, recognizing my own self in the story, both as a parent and as a child and the view of the child in today's society.

There is beauty in a child.  They are gifts.  Gifts from our creator.  And they can be the most joyful blessing if we open our eyes to see it.  They can teach us by far more than any textbook, lecture, magazine article written by a scientist, lab experiment, or intellectual conversation.  A child can change us, mold us into the beautiful work of art intended by our God. But if we take society's stance as an unborn child has no right to live and that toddlers are A**holes (yes, a real book title that totally appalls me to the deepest core) whether it be in a joking manner or not, we miss the true essence.  We miss the chance to be shaped and yes, even work through our salvation, through the experience of carrying a child to term, giving birth, raising or even spending time with a child and enjoying that child to his and our fullest potential.  That is a great tragedy.

Today's society seems to tell us that children are born trouble makers....even viewed as a problem from within the womb.  It is not the child that is the problem.  It is our selfish worldview that is the problem.

When I walk into a room cluttered with my son's toys and artwork, it is me with the problem.  It is me that has trouble with how to accept that clutter as beauty.  It is me that grimaces at his noises and interruptions as nuisance to my ears rather than music and opportunity for my betterment and growthn. It is me that worries over insects or a cool wind as he goes in and out the door enjoying his world. It is me that doesn't take the time to observe the things he is learning as he builds the mountains of blocks or stacks his 20 animals around him in the living room or the mountains of papers on the kitchen table and floor surrounding it.  It is me that is not grateful for the messes.  It is me with the problem.  It's not my child.

As a child,  I was raised in a situation in which everything I did seemed to be a problem...  whether it was an accidental spill, noise, moving my lips when reading, a thought of my own, forgetting to pick something up off the floor or table, a question that wasn't wanted to be answered, or simply not performing to the adult perfection or timely fashion expected of me.  No and consequences for simply being a child and doing things that children do, did not shape me in a  positive manner. I grew up, even after that environment changed, believing I must perform perfectly (in the eyes of others and myself) to be worthy of love or acceptance.  Which means I often gave up many things before even trying due to fear, or didn't and still don't give myself credit for a job well done.

Is that what I want for my child?  Is that what we want as a society for our children?  For the young men and women that are growing up who will become the leaders of our society? I see myself, though over the years I've certainly changed for the better, still saying no when it could really be a yes.  There are still so many cases where I really just need to shut up and listen. I need to stop condemning my child for being a child and just shut up....listen, observe and soak it all in like a beautiful symphony. Listen to my child and realize he (they) is there to teach me just as much if not MORE than I am to teach him.  Observe from his perspective and see the beauty that God has given me through the eyes of this child.  Yes, we are here to guide our children-  but how do we do that?  It need not be in the words of "No", "Get out of there," or "Not now". Learning not to say no in a way that demeans or stifles their spirit is a challenge but so necessary for them to be themselves and freely learn more than a school room or academic lesson will ever teach them- or ourselves for that matter.   We don't HAVE to panic at every mess (though I still stick to my rule that he has to ask before he tapes one more thing to my walls.....) or assume the worse at their every move.  We can enjoy these moments.  Savor them really.  Use them to awaken and change our spirits.

 

Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 50:10

 

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2016-05-14 21.32.04There are days I am completely at rest with my plans and style of homeschooling.  AND there are days I am ....well.... a normal mom who panics and worries and stresses that I can't possibly do it all.

And those are the days I'm most grateful for Sarah Mackenzie's book, Teaching From Rest.  Sarah really talks sense when she points out to us moms that we are not meant to do it all!  All we can really do is give it our best and TRUST IN GOD to do the rest.  If Jesus can feed the thousand with a little fish and bread, then I guess I can do right by my children by giving all that I can and trusting that God will do the rest.

So this summer, I am trying to move into a 'school year round' mode while also staying mindful of my new 'Teaching From Rest' mindset...and trying to catch up on those things that haven't gotten accomplished since moving to our newest home (almost two years ago)...you know, like the garage, basement, and yes, my  'office area' - of which I am proud to say I am typing in right now.....  yes, there are still piles off to my right which need sorted, but the desk is clear and functioning!  WOOT!!!

But while I spent time modifying our morning time routine and school schedule to be shorter for summer days, I haven't exactly kept up with it but for a few days here and there   -  meshed in with cleaning, organizing, errands and all those other things that interrupt our school day.  BUT.  I am at rest.  (Well, mostly....there's a little agitation that surfaces from time to time, I admit.)  Here's my updated schedules, if you are interested.  I'm using Looping a lot now... it's definitely putting more rest in our school plan!

Summer 2016 Rotation Schedule
Summer 2016 Rotation Schedule & Morning Time Plan

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I'm really enjoying our Memory Work time, as does my son.  And for Literature right now, our selection is the first of The Boxcar Children.  I know there's a whole series of that one now, but doubt I'll read any more than the first.  There's so much good literature out there.  I've heard the rest are not as good - so if he's really interested, I'll just let him use them for his own reading pleasure, rather than using them as our read alouds.

We are starting to use the Orthodox Study Bible to do the assigned daily readings and using his bible reader more as a reader for him for reading practice when we aren't using his nature readers (which by the way, has a great chapter on...... worms!)

For nature study right now, we are doing worms!  We have the farm which we observe on an almost daily basis and several books checked out of the library on earthworms.  Who would have guessed learning about worms could actually be interesting?  Just yesterday we learned that inchworms are not actually worms at all.  Who would have thought those tiny little green 'worms' turn into moths?

History for this summer and upcoming school year will be a mixture of Ancient History and American History and geography will be based on that.  Although I did purchase this to help us along:

I doubt we'll get far this summer, but who knows?  My main goal is to introduce the concept that school or education does happen year round, on a daily basis- whether we sit for a whole hour or two of lessons or not.  And to ENJOY learning- of course!!!  And, to achieve what Sarah Mackenzie set out to help us all do with her book -  RESTFUL TEACHING!

What are you doing this summer in your homeschool?

You Know You're a Homeschool Mom When....

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You spend your Saturday morning drinking coffee and reading about earthworms....

Yeah-  I'm really wanting to get down and dirty....well, not really dirty, but....

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THIS kid is so worth it!

My library shelves are overflowing with nature books, but I was thrilled to be able to buy one more sources this year at the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschool Conference...

http://www.homeschooljourney.com/nature-portfolio.html
http://www.homeschooljourney.com/nature-portfolio.html

I've been eyeing this product by Barbara Shukin for  a couple of years!  So yesterday I finally started browsing through it and saw that one of the things to study in Spring is the earthworm! So....

.... today I sit reading up on earthworms in Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study and looking up earthworm farms on Amazon.

Yep, I'm going to do this!  Has anyone here done this before?  I'd love to hear about your experiences and any tips you have to offer!

 

 

What are you doing for nature study this season?

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Book Title:  Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakeable Peace

Author:  Sarah Mackenzie                                                                              

Genre: Homeschooling; Education

Pages:  89

Publisher: Classical Academic Press  (ClassicalAcademicPress.com)

Why Did I Choose It?  I saw the advertisements for the book last year and,honestly,  the concept of rest pulled me in!  Rest?  What IS that?  I had a feeling it wasn't about sleeping until noon or handing out lessons from my bedside, but I found the title appealing and had to find out for myself what it was all about!

A Bit From The Back Cover: Those who have made the decision to homeschool their children have done so out of great love for their children and a desire to provide them an excellent education in the context of a warm, enriching home.  Yet so many parents (mainly mothers) who have taken up this challenge find the enterprise often full of stress, worry, and anxiety.  In this practical, faith-based, and inspirational book, Sarah Mackenzie addresses these questions directly, appealing to her own study of restful learning (schole) and her struggle to bring restful learning to her children.

Review:  This book is amazing! Seriously-  I think this book has helped me in my homeschooling process more than any other book I've read.  In the Book, Teaching From Rest, Sarah gives real practical advice on how to simplify our days and our 'curriculum' to a point that allows us to accept our limitations, trust in God to make the miracles happen, and teach from a true state of rest (note:  Rest is NOT a state of ease ).   Sarah covers a variety of ways to achieve our end goal including prayer, morning time, lightening the load (and how to do that), understanding the  limitations of published resources, simplifying the schedule and much much more!  This is a book I firmly intend on reading each and every year through the rest of my homeschool years.  It will have a permanent place by my bedside for those moments I'll need a few moments of  review and 'pep talk' from Sarah! 

I hope to write more posts soon on Teaching From Rest.  In the meantime, I just finished planning for an upcoming book study I am conducting on Facebook.  It starts THIS FRIDAY!!!  (May 20, 2016)Don't panic- if you don't have the book, buy it now... Friday we are only going over the introduction, so if you're not in the group yet, join and catch up when you get the book!  The rest begins Monday.  The schedule for reading is on the Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1112029392194451/

2016-05-14 21.31.43hoo

 

Fellow homeschoolers, let me know what you think of this book! And feel free to list other recommendations for my other readers!

We took a walk today...finally.

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One of the biggest things of the CM method I wanted to implement this year was nature walks and nature study.  And if I grade myself according to the quantity of time we actually spent doing any of those things... I failed miserably.  At least, the way I would grade it.

However...

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My son LOVES nature.

So I must be doing something right.

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We have read a lot of nature books.  In the winter, when I was a sissy- yes, despite the very mild winter we had- we stayed indoors a lot.  We watched the birds and we read books.  He does love the nature books.  Though he did NOT seem to appreciate the Burgess book on birds....everyone on Ambleside raves about it.  But my boy?  He was bored out of his mind.  I finally put it down for awhile.  I got the Burgess chapter books instead.  Much less valuable information is inside these little gems, but he loves them. And we still read his nature magazines and other books.  And since the kid recognized , all on his own the other day, a red breasted grosbeak... the first I've ever seen and have never pointed one out to him in a book (in other words, he looks at the bird book himself quite often), I'd say we are doing okay.  🙂

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I'm still using Ambleside as a guide for next year...but I am going to use a lot of my learning I absorbed from Teaching From Rest to tame things down and simplify quite a bit.  There's no need for me to be stressing.  This kid is a sponge.  He's soaking up knowledge everywhere we go.

I'm continuing things through the summer but at a much much slower pace and with time to enjoy life and , well, especially nature!  At least, that's the plan! 😉

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Wrapping It Up: May and June

So it’s been quite a while since I have posted anything here. I am missing the blogging and writing but am also feeling a bit more balanced in other aspects of life- actually a lot more balanced. I just need to figure out if I can ever really add writing back in….and if I can, how and when! But here’s a bit of a catch up for those of you left wondering…..

My Writing World

Well- It’s been vacant. I haven’t written a blog post since the end of April. I haven’t worked on a manuscript since maybe the beginning of April- might have been March. I haven’t even corresponded with my critique groups which appear to be disappearing from the radar. It seems I’m not the only one lagging. I never did complete the course work for the class I paid for. All in all, the writing world is off the map right now. So on to other things….

My Book World

Well my reading has certainly picked up. I became determined at the end of May that I was going to enjoy my summer- and while I have LOTS of work to do over the summer- I ...continue reading "May & June Wrap-Up"

 

Photo By Pixabay
Photo By Pixabay

 

Wrapping It Up  

March 

March has been a busy month and honestly, I almost forgot to do my wrap up post!  I was so excited that I found the time to write a post last night and was working on getting time to work on another upcoming post, that it almost slipped my mind that my monthly wrap-up was due!  I haven't written much, I know, but I do want to touch base with you all and ask how the rest of you faired this month?

My Writing World

Well, for those of you that follow the blog, you know the blogging part of my writing world isn't all that much these days.  I've kept up with my Sunday posts but that's almost all I've done.  My manuscripts have suffered with even less time.  I didn't even send anything in for critiques this month, but am currently working on something for April. I didn't get my two days away last month for writing (I used them for some spiritual reflection instead) but am in the middle of that two day get away for March right now.  So that's why I had time to do the extra post on food (see below)the other day, the one on reading aloud to your child and am able to write this one now.

My Book World

Here I've kept busy!  In the area of fiction, I finished up A Prayer For Owen Meany.  I'm not sure how I feel about the book.  I didn't love it but I didn't hate it all either.  It was a good read and certainly different from my regular genre which was a nice change of pace.  ...continue reading "March Wrap Up"

The registration information has been officially posted at Antiochianvillage.org! My husband printed out all the information for me.  The dates are April 23-26 and the days are full of great sessions and activities! It looks like it's going to be a fantastic year with Keynote Speaker Rev. Fr. Andrew Steven Damick as the evening keynote speaker.  I'm reading one of his books now 🙂

In addition, there are many other speakers scheduled on various topics including The Making of an Orthodox Homeschool, Reading as a Work of Love & Repentance: Critical Reading Across the Classical Curriculum, Homeschooling High School, Charlotte Mason, and many others.  There's even a session this year that is just for Dad's presented by someone who is very dear to me 🙂  Yes!  My own dear husband!

I will be determining which sessions I'll be attending soon- it's usually a hard decision to make!

If you haven't ever been to the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling Conference, you may want to check out my post from last year -

2014 Saint Emmelia Homeschool Conference

or feel free to ask me questions in the comment section below OR drop by Facebook and join the group Saint Emmelia Homeschool Conference Association and ask the many other members that have been there through the years!

If you are an Orthodox homeschool family, this is a wonderful conference to go to and well worth the price to gather with like-minded parents and other Orthodox children for your own kids to hang out with!  Let me know if you are planning on attending so I can keep a look out for you!  See you in April!