Sarah Carter Studio » artist | photographer | writer | advocate

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We’re two weeks into this homeschool experiment, which by no means makes us experts, but honestly, the day I start writing about being an expert at anything is the day somebody better knock me back down to reality. We’re all babies here, learning as we go, making messes of things and figuring out how to love better the next time around. Funnily enough, the kids and I were on a drive a few days ago and realized that the initials of our family perfectly spell MESS … coincidence? I think not.

So it is in that spirit of imperfection that I’ve embraced homeschool with our nine year old boy, Emerson. Because I am not keenly wired toward organization and things like schedules, this endeavor brought to the surface many insecurities for me. I sometimes look at other peoples tidy, efficient, well-manicured and beautiful lives with such awe and wonder. I stare, nose up to the glass, like I’m outside a shop window longing for the perfect lives they’re advertising. This whole dynamic is recipe for disaster, of course, as I have never and will never be like them. Because I am me. And because you are you. The thing that keeps being true is that there is only one way forward, and that is through. There is only one right way for you, and that is to do it as only you would.

The illusion of One Perfect Way came hard at me when we first looked seriously at homeschool. Because I have a 5 wing on the Enneagram, I dove deep into the world wide interwebs of information. Articles, blogs, Instagram accounts and curated magazines flickered across my screen, promising to show me the way. I admit, the more I looked into it, the more my insecurities mounted. It was like all the things I could never be were being paraded in front of me. I would never be the scheduled mom, the one who was always on time, the one who packed bento box lunches so perfectly they’d make the food pyramid fairy cry. I am more of a “winging it” kind of mom. I get to most places within what I like to think of as a loose ten minute window. I basically make the same meal every single day, sometimes twice a day (shout out to PB&J!) If my kids bathe three times a week, I consider it a win.

I was not so sure I could handle what it seemed was required for homeschool.

And so there were a few nights of tears, and lets be honest, that means all out freak outs followed by a glass (or two) of red and a couple (or all) episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Because, balance.

But then I pulled my head out of … the ground … and made myself face the fears. Because we all know fear is a liar, the little jerk, and when we stop running and believing it and start locking our knees and digging our heels in, everything changes. That scary lie suddenly seems like a small mean judgey suggestion from some rude bystander – the authority of the lie disappears when we remember to be brave.

Who knew a venture into homeschool would become an invitation into my own growth? Well actually, Jesus did, probably. My best friend is such a know-it-all.

So homeschool became less about following someone else’s agenda to a T and more about taking the wisdom from said someones and applying it to my own homespun curriculum. I literally took all my typed up, perfectly arranged, copied schedules and tossed them right out. I don’t work well on the computer when it comes to planning. I like it old school, I guess. I need to write with my hands, to see the words fill up the calendar pages. So I bought a planner. The first one I’ve owned since college, people. I set aside a day to plan the first six weeks of school, working day by day, leaving room for erasing, changing, moving as we went farther and learned more. Here’s a bit of what that looks like:

Hypothetical Tuesday:

Character: Gen. 1 and discussion about what it means to be made in God’s image. Four chapters of The Whipping Boy: read, reason, relate, record (in our literature notebook)

History and Geography: Read Columbus pages 30-40 and record comprehension questions in History notebook; copy the map of Columbus into your notebook.

— GoNoodle Break —

Math: Lesson 13 Long Addition

Reading and Copywork: book of choice for 20 minutes followed by copying five sentences into your literature notebook)

Science: Read chapter 3 of Pagoo and record discussion questions and life-stage drawing into Science notebook


Now we don’t do the same thing every day, there are variables that we rotate depending on what the lessons and day look like. But this is a rough rhythm that we’ve been following, and so far it is working really well. We’re using curriculum and books for Character and History/Geography from Beautiful Feet. Math curriculum comes from Teaching Textbooks. GoNoodle is an awesome online activity app. Science curriculum comes from Ambleside.

Over time I hope to add in more crafts, art emphasis, music and composer focus, and possibly even an online class. But that will come. There is wisdom in pacing ourselves, there is something gentle and good about taking it slow.

I’ll write more in my next post about what this process has been like for me, specifically as an introvert and a working artist, as well as what I’ve already observed in Emerson as we’ve started the experiment. I’ll also share about what the dynamic has been transferring between being mom and being teacher, and vice vera. It’s been a super interesting journey so far!



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we’re all in. to homeschool, that is. the last few years i’ve been on the fence, wavering from frustration at the public school system to fear at the thought of taking it on myself. emerson has ridden his own wave of emotions throughout the summer as well. sometimes he’s excited, other times he’s scared of missing out on cool class stuff. i get it. but – something clicked over these last few days and we’re all kinds of excited now.

i’m a four on the enneagram, with a tendency to lean into my five wing most of the time (if all of this sounds like another language, stop and click here to learn about all the amazingness that is the enneagram.. seriously, do it.) the point of my saying this is that i really have the odds stacked against me when it comes to things like organization and keeping a schedule. i wish you could see my desk right now, you would not even try to argue with me about this terrible anti-organized-itus that i have.

homeschool, as it so happens, does require a certain amount of planning. and scheduling. and intention. when i first set out to do this thing, i reached out to my beautiful instagram community for help. so many amazing people commented with tips and insights and encouragement. it was so lovely! i decided to go down the charlotte mason rabbit trail because i really connected with her living books concept and the general idea that our kids are wired to learn, we just need to provide opportunities and resources and let them engage with the world around them. just – so much yes and amen to that!

i thought i’d include some links to what i’ve learned, some resources that have been helpful, websites with handy supplies and planners and all that good stuff. i know i’ll be back with more, but right now i’m committed to holding it loosely and letting it unfold as it needs to. to all those who are considering homeschool or are curious about what we’ll be up to, i can’t promise to do it perfectly but will certainly try to be as honest and clear as possible as we dive in – so glad to have you along for the adventure!

what is charlotte mason? – a great introductory website for her philosophy

ambleside online – aka a gift from the heavens

math (side note: thank the good lord for teaching textbooks! it makes math… fun. really it does! i left the workbook out on the kitchen counter last week, just to see how he’d interact with it. he’s already on lesson 8 – he does it for fun. for fun, people! #allthepraisehands

learning without tears – penmanship and some fun journal workbooks

wild + free – an awesome community of diverse families who homeschool in all sorts of ways

this blog + book

this homeschool mama (her posts are lovely but not often updated – be sure to follow her on IG too!)

my tentative schedule for term 1 (we are breaking the school year into 3 terms: sept-nov, jan-march, april-june)

so that’s where we are for now! more soon, of course, like always. and probably some changes along the way. we’re still dreaming of a podcast, something easy and imperfect, an invitation to come along as we learn together. more soon.

*photo src

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hello! its been a while. haha, okay its been a loooong while. its been a busy summer full of travel and hosting and friends and family visiting from all over. our hearts and home are full. and lately i’ve noticed, so is my closet. too full, i think. i’m still on the capsule plan, but perhaps not as strictly as i need to be. part of the challenge i’ve realized is that when you’re not adding much to your closet, it can be hard to remember what your personal style is. when you’re not being constantly influenced by ads shouting the latest trends you absolutely must have, everything gets quiet. which is lovely, but also kind of… bland. the capsule experiment has been a fantastic tool to get a real handle on my clothes. i know now what i have and what i don’t, what i like to wear and what gets pushed to the back of the closet. usually those are the things i bought on an impulse, which almost always turns out to be a mistake. i shop smarter now, considering more than just a sale tag. how does it fit? is this a color i will actually wear? what else in my closet will it go with? and lately, i’ve added one more question to the mix: is it made responsibly?


Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 11.27.02 AMi don’t think i realized the true cost of my clothes. the majority of brands readily accessible to us are made by slaves. i know thats a strong statement, but its true. our demand for cheap, trendy clothing has created a global crisis called fast fashion. when we treat clothes as a throw-away commodity because they are so inexpensive, we’re not taking into account the person on the other side of the world. and that someone is paying a huge price so you can buy that polyester top from h&m for five dollars.

so i did some research into solutions to this problem. liking fashion isn’t the problem, and there are ways to express yourself through your closet while honoring the people who participated in its creation. one of the best tools i’ve found is a company called cladwell. they’ve developed an app you can download on your phone. this app lets you build your literal closet by choosing items you already own. then it puts together daily outfits (it even takes into account the weather for the day!) so that you can wake up and create more outfits with fewer items. i realized i haven’t lost my personal style – i’ve just gotten lazy about how i put my clothes together. this app had helped *ps – this totally isn’t an ad or paid endorsement – i am just excited to share because i really think it can help more of us move away from fast fashion into a capsule lifestyle.


Here are some simple steps anyone can take right now to help beat fast fashion:

+create a capsule wardrobe and address your shopping habits
+when you shop, shop thoughtfully by replacing fast fashion brands with those that are transparent about how their clothes are made
+document your journey, tell others, and encourage those around you to take reasonable steps toward simplicity and sustainability

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I took a break from social media, as some of you may know. I needed to step back, because the noise was too loud, the comments too heated, the threats seemed too real. I needed to step back and assess what I wanted to use the platform for. Was I going to just be “mom Sarah”, posting photos of my darling kids, writing antidotes on the wonders and challenges of parenting? Was I “artist Sarah” using social media as a way to promote and share my art and creative projects? Was I “activist Sarah”, connecting people with ideas and uniting us together toward solutions to the social justice problems happening around the world. The problem is, I am all of these things. And I am also a pastor’s wife. That mix is potent. It can be powerful, but it can also be detrimental. Its a fine line to walk, and one I have been walking for years.

And then, on Inauguration Day, I slipped, lost my balance, and leaned heavy to the activist side of things. And it got ugly, fast. I think part of what was shocking to me about the whole ordeal was how quickly and vehemently they slammed not only my character, but the character of my family. I was told I should be ashamed of myself, I was threatened to be quiet or else they’d tell my husband on me. It got worse from there. I wanted to say a hundred things in response, yet I held my tongue. I haven’t been the subject of so much vitriol possibly ever.

I had underestimated the anger bubbling under the surface of our country right now. I underestimated my ability to separate someone’s attack on the topic from their attack on my personal life. I felt violated, instantly. I immediately thought of every photo of my children, and how they were suddenly so vulnerably exposed to the anger of people like that. I shut it all down. I took down the post that held all those cruel comments, I shut down my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I cried and prayed and listened and waited.

Support poured in, comments and emails and messages from all pockets of the world. It was incredible to see how far reaching our social community had become. To hear ways words I shared had inspired others. It was humbling. The encouragement I heard over the next few days helped balance my heart. They helped me find my way in the dark, they were sparks of hope that lighted the path as I sought wisdom on what to do next.

For now, I want to maintain this writing platform and continue to practice balance. What I learned from the last week is that anything can be screen shot, altered, and used against you. Nothing is sacred so long as it’s public. (hello, terrifying!) So I may be a bit clumsy as I sort it all out and I’m praying for more grace than anger to follow me here. I want to write, I want to connect, I want to use my voice to participate in the global conversations that are happening now. I can’t challenge you to be brave with your life if I am unwilling to do the same.

So here I am. A little bruised and afraid, but showing up anyway. Hate can’t shut us down. Amen?

*artwork by Pierre Soulages – Peinture, 21 novembre 1959

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