Saturday, July 29, 2017

We went up to Gloucester and had a picnic at Stage Fort Park. This seagull watched us while we ate and hoped for our scraps. He wasn't disappointed.

Gloucester is America's oldest seaport and well known for its sea monster, mad scientist, haunted castle, and ghost town. "Dogtown" was an early 17th century settlement that became a haven for witches, fortune tellers, and prostitutes when it was abandoned in the early 19th century. Locals don't go there, as there are still sightings of strange things in the area.

There are many beautiful trails at Stage Fort Park and magnificent views of Gloucester Harbor from the top of the granite cliffs.
Middle Street is home to The Sargent House Museum. For over one hundred years the Sargent House was the home of sea merchants, American patriot and community religious leaders. It was built in 1782 for Judith Sargent Murray, an early feminist writer, philosopher and social activist, and the Sargent House is "a fine example of high-style Georgian domestic features one of the finest small collections of 18th and early 19th century decorative and fine arts in the region. Paul Revere silver, Chinese export porcelain, and superb examples of early New England furniture, as well as American paintings by Fitz Henry Lane and John Singer Sargent."

Middle Street is also full of little shops and cafes, including our favorites: Mystery Train Records, Virgilio's Bakery, Toodleloos! Toys, and The Bookstore.

I bought Murder at Hammond Castle by indie author Gunilla Caulfield. Hammond Castle is one of my favorite places--I couldn't resist a murder mystery set there!

After a bit of browsing in the shops and ice cream cones, we drove down Atlantic Avenue and got out of the car at Bass Rocks. The beach roses were spectacular .

The undertow of the waves tumbling the rocks made the coolest sound. I took a little video so you could hear it. 

Gloucester is one of our favorite places. We hadn't been there since March, and it was a really lovely outing--the best part is that it is only a 35 minute drive from our house.

Look at Mr. Lucky all stretched-out on the carpet. Currently, every animal in my house is shedding. The vacuum is in almost constant use, and still there are fur and feathers everywhere.

Last Sunday at the flea market, I found a new head vase for my collection. She has little earrings as well as sparkly polka dots on her hat and dress. I love her rose corsage and the ruffle on her glove.

The scented geranium is in bloom, along with many of my roses including 'Munstead Wood' aka Baby Groot. The color of his blossoms is deeper, less purple and more velvety than it looks here.

I don't know what're better, summer evenings or summer mornings. Both are pure bliss! I am reading the story of Mary Anning, an early 19th century fossil hunter in Lyme, England. It is a quiet book; just right for my current mood.

If I have birds and roses I have everything I need. If they are the color yellow, I am rich indeed.

My teeny tiny garden is full of raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini. The August harvest is going to be grand! 

Next week I have to work on putting together my end-of-year home school report, as well as my next-year-plans for the school district. To be honest, I have serious doubts as to whether the powers-that-be ever look at it, but it is a requirement nonetheless, so it gives me anxiety even though I have been doing this for nineteen years. A school report card to a parent is a skimpy thing compared to the reporting that a home school parent must provide to the school district. 

I've spent my entire adult life thinking about education and practicing it with mixed results. If you home school, everyone in your life is going to judge how your children "turn out" (whatever that means) based on that single decision. If one of my children struggles in any aspect of his education (or in every aspect of his education) it is my fault. If I send that child to school and he still struggles, the school bears little to no accountability for their results. 

There have been sleepless nights in which I have wondered if homeschooling has been a horrible mistake. What am I doing to my kids? (Are school superintendents, principals and teachers losing sleep about their decisions in our kids lives?) I remember meeting a  homeschooling mother in Texas some years ago who said to me, "If you do nothing but keep your kids at home, they will be better off than kids who go to school." I spent a lot of time pondering her statement and wondering if it was true. I honestly don't know. I can't say that homeschooling is best for every kid. However, I do not have any confidence that our public school system is best for most children (although, at one time, it may have been one of our country's greatest strengths)--there is too much money and politics involved. 

My only solid conclusions about homeschooling my children are: 
  • my children's education has been different from other children's
  • they have had a lot more freedom in their learning--time to experiment and explore and just be 
  • they think critically and understand a lot more about life than I did at their age
  • they are not peer-dependent 
  • they are creative, resourceful, and responsible
  • they are hard-working and helpful to others
  • their personalities are well-developed and intact
  • they have the confidence to follow their own path
So, maybe homeschooling has been a good thing for them. And, maybe not. Who knows? All I can say is that I went to school and university, and my life is, and always has been, a frightening, beautiful struggle. Most of the time I feel bewildered and ill-equipped for it and just do my best--which is a far cry from brilliant.  ♥


  1. Thanks for sharing some New England history. It was neat to get to know more about Dogtown. :-) I appreciate your thoughts on homeschooling versus public school, too. I often prepare myself for negative comments, but they seldom come these days. That may change with time, as my children grown and people assume there are gaps in the education and socialization. I love your list of conclusions and I think those are wonderful results.

    1. Hi Brandy, thank you for your kind comment!♥ I never had any negative comments about homeschooling until I had a child who struggled with reading and writing. Then, suddenly, homeschooling was to blame (even though I am a certified teacher and could, in fact, be employed by the public school system!) Never mind, too, that I have other children who did well learning at home; *this* one did not, and should, therefore, be enrolled in the public school's special ed program. However, here's the thing: it is my legal right to educate my children at home, and I plan to continue doing so. Right now my child has learning problems. I am convinced that by putting him in the public school/special ed sitting he will be at risk for developing behavioral and social problems, as well. No thank you!

    2. Your choice is well-considered and researched. <3 I look up to you, with all your experience and kind honesty. No one knows your child like you do. People assume that parents are not fit to do very much at all these days. We have to "farm out" so many things, according to "them," whomever they are. I consider some of the challenges I see here and think that a more intense environment, with additional stress, would not be a good idea.

  2. I like gulls. I'm glad you had such a good day; the water is a nice thing to be around. My brother's favorite artist is John Singer Sargent, so I asked him if he'd heard of that museum, and he hadn't. There isn't much on their site, is there? It doesn't say which of his paintings are there, and on their events section, there doesn't seem to be anything much for this year. Is it worth visiting the place just to see his artwork, Susan?

    I thought of your summer morning/summer evening comment when I got up an hour earlier today than I planned. Yes, you are right! :) I think that your list of solid conclusions about homeschooling shouldn't be prefaced with "only", since your list seems terrific and every single item is very important.

    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you for your lovely comment.♥

      The John Singer Sargent collection at The Sargent House Museum is really tiny--a handful of small things he did when he was young: sketches, studies for pieces he planned to do, etc. I don't think it would be worth visiting just to see his artwork. The focus of the museum is really Judith Sargent Murray and her life. There is a Pinterest board of the museum's collections, which you can view here: If you haven't been to Gloucester, I do think you would like it. There is a LOT to see in and around the town.

  3. What a wonderful outing!

    Oh dear, I wrote a long couple of paragraphs about homeschooling and accidentally deleted them all! How I wish the combox had a save mechanism! I don't have the energy to repeat it all now, sigh. Only I will say that, after 18 years of homeschooling, and tutoring children from other homeschooling families, I can see the good and not-so-good aspects of it, and ultimately think that it's pretty much the same as any educational choice one might make. There will be successes and failures and regrets and celebrations, whether a child is educated at home or in public/private school. And there will be judgments from others.

    1. Hi Sarah, yes it was a lovely day--thank you so much for commenting.♥

      How frustrating that you lost your original comment! I wish so much that I could have read it to better understand your thoughts. I suppose if one thinks of education as the acquisition of information and skills, then homeschooling can be considered equal to other educational options. However, if one considers education to be more, an enlightening and elevating process that includes the development of a person's character, will, habits, morals, experiences, and beliefs, then homeschooling offers something unique, and perhaps (though not necessarily) superior. Although there are certainly pros and cons to it, if I thought homeschooling was pretty much the same as any educational choice, the burden of responsibility would not be worth my effort. My point in the post is that homeschooling parents are held to a higher level of accountability than schools in our society. It is also true that schooled young people do not receive the same level of scrutiny (both academic and social) as those who are homeschooled. Indeed, the media consistently portrays homeschoolers in an unflattering light. These are distinct differences.

    2. PS: I've always loved Robert Frost's take on education: "Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."

  4. My kids went to public schools and were not challenged so I augmented at home. my daughter loves to research about homeschooling and she insists that I did an unschool approach. She loved that about home.

    I wonder why I didn't take them out to homeschool? I think the internet was budding and everyone sent their kids to school and the support wasn't known to me. Now I think huh, that's something I could and should have done.

    Their public education was good enough and they went to a small public school that funnily had a christian flair even though it should have. They both did band and their peers were wonderful kids with similar interests.

    there is no right and wrong way to do anything with kids if you ask me, they will be who they are.

    Sorry if that was a long response.... I love your photos and that you are blogging more often again, I feel restful and peaceful when I read your posts. I love seeing your little piece of the world through your lens :) :) :)

    1. Hi Karen, thank you for your lovely, thoughtful comment!♥ It was not too long at all--I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and thoughts. My own early education sounds a lot like your children's. I was fortunate to attend a small public school in my neighborhood. I think the size of schools matters greatly, and most public schools today are too big. I agree that kids will be who they are--yes, that is it exactly! Which is why it is frustrating to me that homeschoolers--parents and students-- are held to a higher level of accountability than schooled families.

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I'm aiming to post once a week, probably on Friday or Saturday.

    2. I should add, that while I believe 'kids will be who they are', I also believe that education matters, and that love is the most vital component.

  5. Yes, size of the school matters, their high school had approximately 700 students - grades 9-12. The band was approximately 70-100 students if that. I grew up in the city and attended Catholic schools until university. I appreciated the smallness and the bare bones education. I was extremely high maintenance and the rigidity of the curriculum was an excellent fit for me :)