About Three Plus Two
(It’s okay. Most people need to let that sink in for a minute. )
My husband Andy and I now homeschool all eight of our children on five suburban acres in northwest Mississippi, but when I started blogging back in 2005/2006 we lived on fifteen acres in upstate New York and I had three older children, ages 9,6, and 2 plus infant twin boys… thus the name, Three Plus Two. At the time, I was just coming back into the Catholic Church, and Andy hadn’t yet converted, so we weren’t sure if there would be more than five kids. (Really, we were just trying to survive twins!) Little did we know what God had in store for us, and now here we are with eight kids, ages 17 to almost 1, both of us firmly in the Catholic Church. But the title Three Plus Two has stuck for the blog.
We homeschool using a rich stew of methods that defies labeling. We have a bunch of bright kids who also have special needs, including Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, and dyslexia, and we tailor our learning to fit. Sometimes I tell people that we are classical unschoolers, which isn’t as paradoxical as it sounds. If you think about how people in the past (Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin, for instance) gave themselves the largest part of their educations through a lifetime of reading, you’ll come close to understanding how classical homeschooling and unschooling can mesh. To combine the two, we also tend to approach home education with Maria Montessori’s dictum in mind: “Freedom within limits.” And we try to provide the kind of environment which provokes curiosity and encourages participation in The Great Conversation.
In other words, we own a lot of books.
It’s not all books around here, though. I also write about life on our land. When I started blogging, we lived on the edge of a small town in upstate New York, near Cooperstown. We carved a big garden out of our field, raised chickens for meat and eggs, and experimented with raising turkeys. When we moved to Mississippi to be near family, we knew we didn’t want to live in a tiny suburban yard. Fortunately for us, we found a house with a five acre “yard” and a big barn (which we painted green) in a neighborhood where people kept horses. We, of course, immediately shoveled out the barn for our garden and made one of the stalls into a chicken coop. Our backyard is bigger than many, but I call what we do “backyard homesteading” because we’re still walking a line between a suburban-take-the-kids-to-a-bunch-of-activities-existence and the kind of existence where you go down to your root cellar to get most of your food in the winter.
(No, we don’t have a root cellar. But I’ve pinned a lot of pictures on Pinterest.)
Feeding this many boys is always a challenge, especially when you have to follow a special diet. In the fall of 2012 when I was pregnant with #8, I was told I needed to be gluten-free. Whether this is a non-celiac gluten sensitivity or actual celiac disease, I don’t know because I couldn’t do any of the tests while I was pregnant. My diagnosis (such as it was) came after I had spent about a year experimenting with the paleo diet… an experiment that initially brought fabulous results, but ended in a lot of weight re-gain because I had gone too low-carb while nursing. I feel very strongly about using my experience to help others, especially nursing mothers who are often ignored by authors making dietary recommendations. My “Problems with Paleo” post is one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written. I’ve also discovered that I have sensitivities to soy and cane sugar in addition to gluten, and I like to do what I can to help other mothers navigate the difficulties of providing a special diet for a large family.
We certainly haven’t gotten this large-family/learning-at-home/growing-our -own -food thing all figured out, but on Three Plus Two, I like to document our attempts. Sometimes we succeed… and sometimes we fail. The ups and downs are all part of our lives. So pour yourself a cup of coffee and have a seat. I’m here in the trenches with you.