Rain in the Desert



How is your summer going? It has been hot here for a while. Looking at the pictures above is actually quite refreshing. We live in the high desert. Rain is a big deal around here. When it rains all the kids run out as fast as they can to soak it up before it is gone. Here are my 8 year old son Shane (bottom picture) and his friends enjoying themselves. My friend Emily took the pictures. She is so good at capturing children naturally, don’t you think? I like how Shane’s head pops up in the first picture. You can barely see it. Or how about Eirik’s head (in the middle) turned upside down?!

Wishing you a restful end of the week,


Pictures curtesy of Lonely Mountain Photography

Interview with Emily Mulder, a Home-Schooled Adult


This interview is with my dear friend, neighbor, and co-collaborator on this blog, the very talented Emily Mulder, owner of Lonely Mountain Photography.

Q:Emily, describe for us your childhood home-school experience. What was your day to day like. What were the reasons your parents decided to home-school. Was this accepted in your community?

A: Ahh. My parents were really trying to figure it out based on what they’d experienced. We started when I was entering the 4th grade. My sisters were entering 6th, and 3rd. Initially they were planning to just try it with my oldest sister for a year first, but that year the school system decided we were in a different district and the first morning we waited for the bus, it didn’t come for us as it had the past three years. My parents prayed together and decided to take us all out and homeschool us. Apparently they had read about homeschooling, but we didn’t know anyone else doing it until later.

My parents were not supported by anyone at first. People thought we’d never “make it”. The one big reason people had against homeschooling was that we would not be “socialized” (as if throwing kids together in same-age class rooms actually socializes kids in a positive way).

Our day: at the beginning of each year my parents would research what we needed to be on grade level, we’d purchase or find books (we got many used books as well as purchasing some from different places depending on what they thought we needed.) We would all sit down and figure out how to plan the year in order to get through the books. This varied a bit and not every book was divided up this way. We had a pretty regular schedule to keep – every day lasting 1-2 hours (maybe 3 or at most 4 in high-school) in order to spend a regular time on each subject. Once done with our school, we helped (in later years) with our family business, did regular chores, and had time for play and hobbies. We had a lot of self study.

Q: What did you like about home-schooling, and what did you not like?

I liked that it didn’t take so much time! We didn’t have homework in the evenings as we’d done all of that during school hours. I also liked that it taught us to be able to self study. We learned to organize our studying and get it done, and check our work ourselves.

Q: How did home-schooling prepare you for college? What was the biggest challenge in college?

A: Again, the self learning was a big boon in college. My older sister and I attended college together, as she’d done some correspondent courses and worked teaching other kids after graduation and before heading out to college. I remember us both being roped into helping other kids that first semester – kids who struggled to figure out how to research and understand what the professor said or expected. We had no problems digging right in and learning.

The biggest challenge? I’m not sure if homeschooling itself caused any challenges. I’m shy naturally, so it always takes me a while to get to know other people, but I was that way when I was small and in public school.

I think a big challenge to home-schoolers is maybe a blind belief that their education is better, and therefore kids can run into trouble when their beliefs are challenged in a college setting.

Q: How are you doing things differently as you are home-schooling your own kids? What do you envision for your children’s education and future?

A: I think we can go a lot farther than copying public school standards. My husband and I actually believe that the public school setting was set up for a different time and not to truly inspire kids to learn. We are trying to pull away from the standards and approach things differently, with a focus on really inspiring our kids to study far beyond the standard approach.

I also want my kids to have intellectual humility – to be able to see when they don’t understand something, leading to study or asking questions to find out what the answers are. I don’t want any of them to think they “can’t” or are unable to study or understand something. If one of them is struggling, I back off and try to figure out how to approach things differently, rather than just pushing them onward with the same methods.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful answers, Emily. I loved reading how you got your work done in 1-2 hours and had all this extra time to help out in your parent’s business or just play. And what about college teachers making you a TA for the kid’s who hadn’t learned to study on their own; so much for home-schooled kids not being prepared for higher education. Speaking of education, Emily and her husband Sam have a must read blog on education. They have spend a lot of time on researching the best way to teach children and for them to be enthusiastic about learning. Go to educationreimagined.org for more info.

This interview was so much fun, I’m planning on doing more in the future.

Summer is here!!


we are done with school and summer has officially started. What sort of picture comes to your mind when you think of summer? My mind goes straight to the pool (above). We live in the high desert; there is not much else you can do. We are not big on organized sports, but there is one thing we do every year: swim team. The city offers two months of swimming every day, with swim meets on Saturdays for a very low cost. Once I have taught my kids how to swim I sign them up for summer swim team, so they can get good at their strokes. I swim there as well once a week doing laps.

That is one thing crossed off my summer to do list. Other things include organizing, planning for the next school year, cleaning, sipping on smoothies in the late afternoons… How about you what are your plans for the summer? Do you like to pack them full or do absolutely nothing?

I’m going on vacation!!

Summer is here!! And for the first time in 12 years (!) I am actually going on a 2 week vacation to Europe (I’m going to pretend my last trip to freezing Germany in January never happened).
A traveler needs a suitcase. I stumbled upon the Container Store’s new line of suitcases. Whatever happened to boring, black, and heavy?? These are so fun. I ended up buying the 360 degree Ricardo (last picture) in grey from Costco, cause they are cheaper and I share with my men, who won’t go for polka dot or orange. Though the orange would have been my pick. Have a look, which one is your favorite?