Category Archives: Holden

Walking in another person’s shoes

As part of homeschooling, Holden and I just enjoyed Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I really enjoyed one topic it helped us to contemplate: beauty & comparison.

Several times in the narrative, discussions of the preference for blonde hair (Laura’s sisters hair color) vs brown hair (Laura’s hair color) came up, and Laura was clearly made to feel inferior. Each time, it was intriguing to see Holden get angry at the feelings of rejection this made Laura feel. He immediately focused these feelings on Mary. Then we talked through this – did Mary chose to be blonde? Was she actually doing anything hurtful to Laura?

Later in the week, Holden came out of the library and mention the librarian helping him had been a lady who he though originally was a man. We talked about how it would feel to have people perceive you differently from how you wish they saw you. I could see that relating to Laura had prepared him to relate to this librarian.

I love learning this stuff with him!



2013 has found me in a new stage of life.

Where did it begin
It started in December, when I heard someone say how they didn’t continue to do something that wasn’t working. I thought, “Me neither.”
But at the same time, I thought, “Except Holden’s school.”

I was very discouraged with the fall semester at Veritas Christian Academy. It seemed like the curriculum was lousy, a bad fit for Holden, and the routine wasn’t fitting our family. The only thing it really had going was a nice environment full of nice kids.

So in December, I started dreaming of schooling Holden – having lots of time with him, doing the things differently that I was discouraged with his teacher for, etc. But I wasn’t really sure if I could juggle everything. And I didn’t want to force this on Holden, since he may be facing HUGE changes at the end of the year if Joel gets a pastoral position not in Houston.

I gave Holden the choice. And he picked Veritas. I was really bummed, but decided to pray instead of nag. I completely dropped the subject and all discussions of homeschooling for this Spring.

Then our family took a trip to Maine. Joel preached for 2 Sundays at a church in search of a pastor. And on the trip, Holden repeated his desire to homeschool for 3 days in a row.

Jumping right in

After withdrawing Holden from school, I decided not to stress and rush. We could survive with no formal school for January.

And I started emailing all my homeschool friends to see what they were doing for school. NONE of them do the same thing. Even the friends that are close friends.

This was actually really encouraging: There was no pressure to conform to anything.

I put together my best guess for curriculum preferences on a long Saturday of planning, and we jumped right in 3 weeks ago.

An aside: as I research curriculum, I felt like I was retracing a journey my mom took 25 yrs ago when homeschooling me – following a workbook-based curriculum for my 2nd grade, Christian Liberty Academy for another year, classical textbooks for another. This “journey” reinforced how similar mom & I are, as I can remember her making changes if something wasn’t a fit.

An about face

When emailing my friend, Alicia Taylor, I thought she was schooling her children in a way I wanted to… which I thought resembled closely Charlotte Mason’s style. I was drawn to Charlotte’s ideas of:

  • learning from living books that communicate a topic through the author’s personal experience & passion
  • learning spelling, grammar, & vocabulary by lots of exposure to these living books
  • creative “writing” done by oral narration, so the writing & syntax skills don’t limit the expression of thoughts

But Alicia directed me to a seminar by Carole Joy Seid called A Literature Based Approach to Education. I was excited because my original interest had been in classical education, which was described to me as reading whole books instead of textbooks, but I found it to be a lot of curriculum and workbooks anyway. This method seemed to meet my original expectations.
This seminar was affirmation of everything my heart longed to do with Holden, but was second guessing as a non-educator who didn’t read very many good books as part of my schooling. I am a reader, but I’ve always read whatever was popular for my age at the time.

Contemplating the transformation

It took me a week & a half to go through this seminar, after I got 3/5 of the way through and realized I needed to be taking notes.

As I worked through it, I was evaluating what I had set out to do with Holden, and how the tasks I had planned 3 weeks ago matched. And I started making changes.
It feels like I live in a different house, with THREE different children (not just Holden) who are thriving in a way they didn’t before. It has caused me to slow down, unplug devices, and fill “bored” spaces with either (1) reading out loud to 1-2-or-3 kids, or (2) sending them outside and letting them create.
As I went back through my notes yesterday, I made a simple list of the statements from A Literature Based Approach to Education that are my tips to follow:

  • Do school quickly, tutorial method.
  • Be outside by noon.
  • Encourage your kids for their WORK ETHIC.
  • Teach kids to love books and how to work.
  • The way we teach a child to WANT to read is by reading to them, and NEVER requiring them to read themselves.
  • Reading is a treat. You don’t have to read – you GET to read.
  • Keep a nature journal.
  • Cover your house in maps.
  • Don’t prepare ahead – learn together.
  • Create a history timeline.

Why this is profound & refreshing
This is not my first time to set out at homeschooling. In 2008, I started Kindergarten with Arabella & Holden.

And the biggest difference, and what I think is the reason I failed, was that I tried to “do school” at home. By 2 weeks in, Holden enrolled in public school, & Arabella and I struggled through to Christmas.

At that time, I was going against the research into Waldorf, a system I admire, and pushing reading with a developmentally immature girl.

One of the most amazing parts of Carole Joy Seid’s seminar is research she shares about skills built by being read to and to support late learning of skills as being better, not worse, for a child.

A sweet surprise

Going through Holden’s papers from school tonight, I spotted the word “Mom”…
I found 2 treasures:
1. This feather for the Thanksgiving turkey with what he was thankful for.

2. This paragraph.

My mom Heather
Heather, my mom, is my best friend and is a great person.
My mom plays with me. She feeds me and she has blue eyes. She loves popcorn and most important she loves God and is a Christian.


Tonight, Jessica, Jimmy, uncle Tim & Andy came over for our post-Thanksgiving gathering. And Bella started tossing a soccer ball to me while we chatted… and that gradually turned into all of us kids & grown ups playing catch.
So I threw out to questions to answer as you caught the ball.
First, what was the best part of your week?
Then, what are you hoping to do this next year?

Holden’s answers were awesome and I think very revealing about him.
1st catch: ‘To be a pastor’
2nd catch: ‘To see a shooting star, and wish upon it that I will get super powers to set things on fire with my eyes.’

Of course, with Andy Von Kanel in the room, this 2nd statement was followed by a flurry of ‘super power’ related plans… from Andy, Jimmy, Tim & Holden!

Then I asked ‘but what are some non-superpower related plans for this year?’:
7th catch: ‘To start a club to pass out tickets at school to any kids who don’t know about Jesus & want to go to church.’
8th catch: ‘To learn about God and memorize the rest of the Bible verses.’

This game was not serious, influencing Holden’s answers. Everyone else was giving silly answers, more in line with his super hero plans.

I am amazed how my sweet Holden is such a balance of serious & silly.
His heart is so sincere in seeking God.
At the same time, he is 6 years old.

I love it.
I love him!

Vacation & parenting

Last summer, Holden & I tagged along on Jessica’s family’s yearly trip to Camp Riverview on the Frio River. It was a blast. Holden is a little river rat and a flexible, laidback camper. I promised him we would be back!

After a busy June & July, our summer winded down in August. And my birthday was the 3rd & Holden’s is the 23rd…
So off we go to celebrate with our freshly-labeled ‘2nd annual Mother-Son Frio trip’. We are going back to Camp Riverview, just down the road from Garner State Park. We are tent camping with just the basics. We are gonna shop together on the way to pick out our meal. We brought our bikes so when we aren’t floating we can explore. We are staying 3 days-2 nights. Can you tell I’m excited?

The bonus: on the way, we are going to the original Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels with Jessica, Jimmy and Marian, Jimmy’s mom!

The only drawback: Arabella heard the planning chatter, and started asking to come. I really felt sad, and made plans for a mini-trip to Galveston for her birthday.
I know I have done lots of one-on-one with her… And I really want to set apart special time with each kid… But it’s hard to not feel like you’re excluding the others.

Well, off to Schlitterbahn!


Holden and I just finished our first camping trip together. We arrived
@ noon on Monday, and immediately jumped in the Frio for 2+ hour
Holden is an awesome River Rat, swimming in and out of his tube, not
even getting scared when we flipped on the rapids, and acting like a
little motor to pull me and Jessica alone.
Yesterday Holden spent from 10a-5p in the section of river by our
campsite. As we laid on the air mattress for a little rest, he said,
"when are we gonna swim again?"
After I replied, "not for awhile." he laid his head down crashed.

I loved camping with him. We enjoy the same things.

This might have to be our annual Mother-Son trip!

Me and Holdie

So, Holden and I get to go camping on the Frio River this week
Monday-Thursday. I am so excited for 1-on-1 time with him. Plus I love