Unschool // Houseschool // Homeschool

Huh?  Yeah.  Apparently, there are a million ways to homeschool your children.  And it’s confusing, because each one is like a different community with different beliefs on how to do it the “right” way.

Jon and I have decided to homeschool our kids.  It wasn’t an easy decision.  It’s something that I always thought I’d be good at, and that I would love my kids to get to have that.  There is a big homeschool group here, and they are active.  They have get togethers.  I think there are over 60 people in it, each with kids.  So pretty big.  But.  The challenge of it seemed overwhelming.  I’ve been saying for awhile that I am not made to be a stay at home mom.  I have tried so many things, wanted so badly to work from home.  After moving here, I have tried to rebuild my photography business, to no avail.  There’s just a very small market on the coast and over saturation everywhere else in Oregon.  Not that it is impossible.  It’s just a competition that I’m not that interested in.  I’ve never been a business-minded person.  I’d much rather use my creative skills to further God’s Kingdom.  To increase awareness for missionaries and causes that have that same aim.

While that stews in me, Charlie is ready for pre-school.  And she is really smart.  In fact, Emry is probably ready for a little pre-preschool as well.

Planning is easy.  I really enjoy the organizing and planning stages.  Love it.  And God is changing me.  I am enjoying my days with my kids a lot more, even though I have less actual work to do.  I have a job, I am the worship pastor.  I do have duties to do throughout the week for it, and it is very fulfilling.  For now, it is a part-time commitment.  Unlike Jon, who is working two full-time jobs (our positions at the church are missional at this time).  Eventually, I’d love to see a more formal group be developed.  A homeschool cooperative that keeps it Christ-centered, but doesn’t take away from the home teaching.

It’s amazing how fast children change.  It seems like they stay the same for awhile, and then, when you’re not looking, they quickly morph.  They become butterflies, and you missed the cocoon.  They flutter around in a new kind of beauty, and it’s fascinating.

Starting in September, Charlie will begin school.

Now we just have to get the teacher grandparents out here to help!  Granny for math and science and Nana for English and Grampa Craig for nature walks and theology and more science and Poppy for playing and learning about who God is, faith, and joy.  Consider this your official job offer!  Ha!

Prayer Requests:

  • Funds for school supplies
  • Fall clothes for the kids, especially long-sleeve shirts for both and jeans for E (he’s finally growing like a weed!)
  • Additional income through lessons and photography
  • Emry now has RLS symptoms and his reactions to soy and dairy have been a lot more severe
  • Phyiscally, Jon’s been worn down and sick and stressed, but in good spirits
  • Our church would continue to grow and we need a building


And some praises too!  We are so blessed here!  Our church family is wonderful and supportive.  We are all pretty healthy, especially in comparison to the past couple of years.  We know without a doubt we are where God wants us, and are lives are filled with a deep peace because of that.  Even when storms rage, the peace is inside.  Spiritually, we are being fed and growing as well.  We love our pastors.  And God is so good.  So very good.




visitations // part one

I can’t really process the last two weeks, so instead I’m just going to blog.

After four days of traveling through the plains, the sandhills, the Rockies, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, desert, high desert, the Cascades, and the Coastal mountains….they finally got here.  My mom and stepdad, the first to come visit us in Oregon.  Hopefully the first of many trips for them, and the first of many friends and family.  We’ve made it both hard and easy…we live in one of the most amazingly beautiful places in the country, but it’s also remote and takes quite an effort to get to.

Southern Oregon

Crater Lake on their way to Brookings

They arrived around 2 and we said our joyful hellos, a little incredulous that they were actually here.  We got in the car so I could show them around Brookings, had some dinner, and then they headed to the Bluff House where they stayed for half of their time here.  I felt so full.  I wanted to show them so much, and impress them with the magnitude of awesome things in the area.  Because there are a lot…I don’t even know that much!

Katie Dommel

all decked out walking to the store


showing their booty…bags full of toys from the money that Gigi sent

The next day, Jon was off of work, and we started the morning with Bible study with some ladies from The Rock, then all piled into the car and went to Harris Beach.  It was a beautiful day, but not quite sunny.  There was a marine layer hanging about, above our heads and just offshore.  It made everything ethereal, as though we were in a different world where the sky moved like smoke.  It was beautiful.

Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon

Heading to the water

E has to be watched like a hawk at the beach because he just wants to run headlong into the crashing waves.  Hasn’t gotten a mouthful of water yet, and hasn’t had a close call to scare him off.  Craig and Jon had their hands full.


C and her daddy


Grampa and E


Jon and the kids

C, on the other hand, is obsessed with the sand.  Especially if it’s warm.  She lies down and swims in it.

Me and C after I got her up off her belly

Me and C after I got her up off her belly

We were all hungry afterwards, so we went out for pizza at Zola’s Pizzeria.  And wow, it was amazingly delicious!  Sitting on a picnic table outside the pizzeria right on the boardwalk…bliss.  I tried to soak it all up, the feelings and the joy…but it’s already hard to grasp and remember it all.

This was only the first two days, but it’s about all I want to relive right now.  It’s hard for me because I lived within an hour of my mom my entire life.  Really, I was always that close to most of my extended family.  On top of that, we spent a majority of the last year living with Jon’s parents, and so being here, 2,000 miles away from any of them….well, it’s different.  And it’s hard.  But it’s not too hard.

Having this visit from my mom and Craig was wonderful.  I can’t wait for more.  A few days in, I remember thinking, this isn’t flying by.  This isn’t going too fast.  I’m taking it all in, and I’m so grateful for it.  But then, the last few days did fly by, and now it feels like a dream, even though I just said goodbye two days ago.

Why do we need patience?

Patience…I’m starting to get what that means.  I know I am only getting a taste of it, too.  I know when I am twice my age and looking back, I will probably laugh a little at what I thought was hard at 30, and what I thought I was learning.  What I think is a great epiphany now is just the beginning of wisdom.

Still, I feel like getting this down.  I think it’s an important step in the thinking process.  When I used to think about patience, I would remember all the people in my life that said, “Don’t ask for patience, because you’ll get it.”  We learn patience through trials and suffering, and waiting for something better to happen.  Basically, patience really sucks.

Throughout the past year, I’ve learned a lot about sowing and reaping.  God blesses a giving heart.  It works that way with faith as well.  Step out in faith, and you’ll get more.  Of course, I am simplifying faith, but it really does work this way when you boil it down.  When you look at your life objectively and keep track of your prayers, you can see God moving in your life.  He is alive.  A very important truth.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

There is a lot going on in these verses.  What I am focusing on in regards to patience is that we are running a race, and it’s not a 100 meter dash.

We are running the greatest marathon, and there are a lot of people falling by the wayside.  Patience is a virtue because we need it!  We need to set a pace and work steadily toward the goal.  God teaches us patience because the race is a lifelong marathon, and if we are to make it to the end with our eyes on Jesus the whole way, we need patience. We need it!

God has given me dreams, and I want to reach out and get there.  I want to dive in head first, unprepared because I want to see how it all comes together.  I want to see the view from the mountaintop without the climb.  But half of the satisfaction of that view is the effort it takes to get there.

So instead of spending time brainstorming, wondering what I can be doing to hurry it all along, I wait on Him.  If I come to the water every morning, I am refreshed, and ready for another day of running steadily.  Every morning I must strip off the unnecessary things I tend to heave on my back throughout the day before.

Do you see the importance of patience?  Do you see the importance of daily coming to the Living Water and taking a deep drink?  Without it, we fall to our knees and lose sight of what is most important in this life.

1 Corinthians 9:23-25:  23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishablewreath, but we an imperishable.


Grow grow grow……please?

Update on the plants!  Starting in the greenhouse, here’s my first hot pepper.  It’s the only one growing on the plant.  The plant looks very healthy, except it’s not growing much.  No other flowers on it.  And it has these little white bugs or whatever they are on the leaves.  They don’t seem to actually be harming it, but I don’t really know?  They are on all three pepper plants in the trough.  Any ideas?  I can’t wait until this hot pepper starts turning colors.


Here’s a farther out view of the trough.  I did so much research before planting, finding out what plants were good to be around each other.  Stupidly, I did not check what shouldn’t be planted near each other.  So I have dill and cilantro right next to each other, and they are leggy and ginormous and seeding already.  They are closely related and will cross-pollinate, making each other taste weird.  So I am moving one or both of them today, and hoping they do alright.  Then trimming them down and hoping they bush out a lot more.  I planted one lettuce plant in the trough to see how it did in the greenhouse.  And it got eaten.  I think possibly by a deer…I left my palate gate open one night, saw deer scat the next day in the yard and the lettuce was chewed up.  I’m a deducing machine.


My tomato wasn’t doing well for awhile, and then started to take off.  The only difference is that I am pulling off suckers and putting about a tablespoon of coffee grounds around the bottom every week.  Yay!  Here’s to lots of yummy tomatoes, I hope!  I can’t remember what variety this is, but I decided it was indeterminate because it’s growing straight up and I do remember that it is supposed to be one of the best, biggest, juiciest tomatoes that grows well here in Oregon.  Can you tell I’ve set my heart on it a bit?


This is the right side of the greenhouse.  I think there’s one small pepper plant and my cucumber, which is going to be repotted soon, and the rest are all tomatoes.  Not sure why this one is yellowing.  I can’t determine if it needs more water because of the pot size and how fast it drains, or more…..but it’s got a lot of small tomatoes on it and both of my potted tomatoes in the greenhouse seem to be determinate.  They were given to me, so I don’t know what kind they are.


My good friend Jenn gave me a spaghetti squash plant!  It’s not doing so well…definitely needs to be repotted.  Doing that today.  I’m hoping I can get it to grow well and get a squash or two out of it!  Behind it is my other determinate tomato.  It’s huge and has a ton of baby tomatoes on it.  Can’t wait for them to grow!


Here’s a view of the greenhouse.  You can see how super tall my dill and cilantro has grown.  Bad herbs!


Here’s the front.  I keep wanting to put more in here, but there’s no room.  Everything seems to be doing well, although my red rosie basil bit the dust.  I tried to save it by moving it to the greenhouse but it died still.  Sadness.  The lettuce LOVES it here.  The two large ones I got from our pastors, and the small one is one we got as a live lettuce from the store, ate the leaves and planted the roots.  Growing well!  I planted some flowers around the veggies.  Chives are just hanging out, not growing much.  The pepper is growing a lot lately, but might not produce because it’s July already.  I’ve planted 3 or 4 onions….ones we got from the farmers markets and cut off the bottoms, soaked overnight, and planted.  One is popping up.  Not sure if any of the others will, but a fun experiment.  Oregano is doing well and I like that it doesn’t get more sun, because it isn’t taking over, but it’s still healthy.  This spot gets about 4-6 hours of mid day sun.


This is my lemon box.  Lemon verbena, lemon balm, and lemon thyme with some lobelia and alyssum for the prettiness.  This is a pretty sunny spot, but it also gets wind if it’s windy.  Mostly, it’s just been cool and cloudy since I moved this from the greenhouse out here.  They definitely did better in the greenhouse, but I wanted some plants on my deck and I put lemon balm in my water a lot.


I also moved this cherry tomato plant we got at the Wednesday farmers market outside.  It was the only one that wasn’t tied up, and I wanted to experiment to see how it did outside.  It’s a little protected from the random tree/bush that is growing behind it, and it still gets lots of afternoon sun.  There’s a basil plant there too that is healthy looking, but not growing much.  I’m even pruning it, which supposedly mades giant basil plants.  I read somewhere online that basil makes tomatoes taste better.  Another experiment.  The tomato plant is indeterminate, and I’ve been pulling suckers on this one too.  It’s taken off like crazy since I started doing it!  Lots of flowers.


On the side of the house, a very sunny spot, we have lavender, chocolate mint, lobelia and asylum, and sage.  The chocolate mint does not like it here but  I don’t want to move it, I don’t think it could take it.  The lavender and sage love it here.  Can’t wait to have a huge lavender plant, and I’m going to plant rosemary on the other side of it once I get it cleared.  The soil here is only ok, and there are a lot of slugs.  They ate the marigold I planted.  I think it was them anyway.  There are also gophers in this bed….they come up from the ground right into the bed.  They overturned some of the plants, and I wonder if they messed with the mint’s roots.  Never had a snail problem in Nebraska, and definitely no gophers!  Further proof that I’m in a weird parallel dimension.  Everything is the same, but slightly different. 😉


So there’s the updated garden.  I’ve found myself frustrated at some of these plants…and because of the critters, but mostly, it’s so rewarding to grow our own food, and I wish we had a large area to grow outside.  That’s in our plans for the future, whether or not we stay here.  Although I do think we have a great area for it here.  We want to start seeding a bit this month too, and we’ve never done that, so we’ll be posting our trials and probably massive errors.

How it all looks to me.

I’ve been trying to get a better picture of who God is, and how He interacts within the Trinity.  It’s a concept that is difficult to fathom, and even more difficult to explain.  Today, I found a new way of thinking about it while I was praying.

Imagine God in the only way we can, the way we know.  We know that God created us in His own image (Genesis 1:27).

God the Father is the brain, the Creator of all things great and small.  From the smallest atoms floating in space, to the supergalaxies and supernovas, black holes.  Mountains, with their vein-like lava flowing deep beneath their weighty stone, trees, with their vein-like water feeding each leaf, and us.  With our own brains and flesh warring against our spirits.  He is the power, the brawn, the muscle and the might.

Jesus, the Son of God, is the heart.  The man who loved and taught and healed and vindicated.  He was beaten, torn, broken, bruised, stabbed, stripped, and forsaken.  All for the sake of LOVE.

The Holy Spirit is the soul.  The Spirit moves and breathes life into dry bones, brings comfort like refreshing water, and empowers us to move as well.

We, the humble believers on earth, are the body.  We physically go and do what the brain tells us to do.  We have the blood of the Son pumping through our veins, our skin, our hearts.  We speak with His voice, we hear with His ears, we touch with His hands and go with His feet.

How amazing that we are His body, that we are part of His great image.  How humbling.


For such a time as this.

God has been pressing these thoughts on my heart and really giving me a love for a group of girls that I don’t know.  That I have never met.  They are part of Delight, an organization that exists to encourage, educate, and edify teenage girls that are involved in the creative arts.  I love this ministry!  So I have been contributing a little to their blog when God gives me another thing to write about.  The latest post I wanted to share on here, because it is such a good thing to hear and just know it.  To take the words and put them away in our hearts.

God created you. He formed you, knew you, and had designs for you before you were even born. Don’t you know what that means? Your personality, the things you love about yourself, God made you just that way. But it gets better, because our God is so much more than we can even imagine. He didn’t just create you and leave it there. He created you in a very specific way for a very specific purpose and at this very point in time because God has a plan for you, because He cares about you. When we die to ourselves, it means we are seeking God above ourselves. When we seek Him, we will find Him. It’s a promise God makes in His word. “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:13.

Putting God first will transform your life. When we die to our self, it means that we are dying to our sinful selves, not our personalities. We are nailing that sin to the cross. Christ already died for your sins, and if you believe that, then you have to own it and act like you believe it. You are no longer sinful, but a child of the King. You are royalty! You have the power of Christ within you, you have access to the Holy Spirit. You are blessed and empowered. You are a soldier and must polish that armor and put it on daily (Ephesians 6), but guess what? The battle is already won! And you are on the winning side.

And the best thing of all: you are loved beyond human comprehension by a God who never changes and is always good.


Coming along…

The garden is coming along.  Some things have surprised me, but at the same time, I feel like I am out of my league a bit!



You can see how much we did…..and how much is left.  We scrubbed till our arms were noodles, and this was the best result we could get.  We aren’t sure how to get the roof finished.





We cleaned it up the best we could, spending an entire day with the kids helping as well.  We scrubbed the front, back, south side, and as much as we could reach of the roof while standing on cinder blocks.  Even though there’s more to do, the greenhouse definitely gets enough sun to produce the correct effect, and the plants inside get a nice dose of greenhouse gasses on sunny days.




And yes I am a photographer…although it seems this day I couldn’t take a straight picture to save my life.  I’d blame the iPhone, but I’m sure it was all me.




We planted in the trough first.  Two small sweet peppers and a Hungarian hot wax pepper that we got from the Saturday port farmer’s market.  Then we planted a tomato plant on the left, which we got at the Wednesday grange farmer’s market.




The peppers seemed to have a few flowers on them, but most of them fell off.  Not sure if the culprit was from a critter, bugs, soil, or what.  But we do have one pepper growing on each plant so I’m thankful for that.


We also planted along the front of the house.  We don’t have many places to plant outside.  Next year we hope to have raised beds along the front of the house that gets a lot of sun and where it will be easy to cover (seems like that’s what people do here a lot) but that’s next year.  In the front we planted a couple lettuce plants, chives, a small pepper (it was an unknown plant given to us, I think it’s a pepper) and red rosie basil.




I’ll update again soon, as we are planting like crazy right now!