I have been keeping a secret for months, and now I’m happy that I can tell you. But first let me keep you in suspense a little longer and tell you about July….

Most significant: It’s hot, and it’s humid, and I’m melting, so please send ice cream. 🙂

Also, we have just got back from a long trip, so we’re taking it easy this week. I had a lot of unpacking, laundry, sorting, cleaning and whatnot to do. Soon I need to turn my attention back to all those homeschooling things that I put away before we left. I still need to finish the progress reports and figure out what we’re going to do during the summer months for lessons and then what to add to that in September for our new year….I have most of that figured out, but I need to check my notes and order some curriculum. We also need to do our annual check-ups at the dentist and doctor and all that.

I feel like I’m always sorting, organizing, cleaning, pondering, planning and making appointments. That’s the life of a homeschool mom, I guess. But I’m very relieved that the major events for our summer are over, and I can use the rest of this season for all that administrative stuff as well as playing and enjoying our garden. We finally added a few new plants to our front garden beds this week.  Hopefully they can withstand the heat.

Edgewater Park on Lake Erie

Okay, let me tell you our secret. It was months in the making, but then it came and went so quickly. My twelve-year-old son was a participant in the 2019 Summer Sonata Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). This was a 7-day intensive piano program held in late June. I’m not going to write too much about it, but I will say that it was an amazing week that challenged him, and he loved it. He was finally around other kids who are like him. That is, kids who are talented and work hard at music and love it too. He also got to take classes in Eurhythmics, theory, piano literature, form and composition as well as have one-on-one lessons, duet coaching and master classes. I was so proud of him. It consisted of some very long days, but he kept smiling all the way through it, so that told me all I needed to know.

The week ended with a recital in CIM’s beautiful Mixon Hall when all twenty-two participants performed, and this performance was open to the public. Here’s a photo of him during that recital. It was a wonderful place to perform and learn, and I’m so glad he got to experience this.

Mixon Hall
The twelve-year-old’s recital performance in CIM’s beautiful Mixon Hall.
Another view of Mixon Hall when we first stepped into it. Stunning, isn’t it?

When he was accepted into the program, we had to work our “vacation” around it, if you can call it that. My husband was working remotely while we were in Cleveland and he also took our son to and from CIM everyday. We all supported him in the evenings when he had homework too. But we also enjoyed our one-on-one time with our nine-year-old, and as you might guess, we spent most of our free time birdwatching. And, yes, we put a few more birds on our life lists! That was exciting.

Purple martins nesting at Edgewater Park.

This trip ended up being the “ultimate homeschooling” adventure since we used it as a way to foster the interests of our two boys, which is a major component in project-based homeschooling. For the twelve-year-old, he was going every day to CIM for an intensive music program. For the nine-year-old, we concentrated on birding, visiting the wonderful museums that Cleveland has to offer, and after the music program was over, we extended our trip a few days so that we could go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. Oh my gosh! What a fantastic place. I will write a separate post about it so that I can include more information about it for you. If you are into birds, you really need to know about this place.

Lake Erie

I should mention that we loved Cleveland. It doesn’t have the best reputation, but we thought it was a beautiful city with a lot to offer. The area around CIM, which is called University Circle, was beautiful with a lot of green spaces. Across the street from CIM was the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and also within walking distance was the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Art Museum. We visited all of those.

Driving from University Circle to Lake Erie was a treat as we passed multiple mini-international gardens, creating a green belt all the way down Martin Luther King Drive. If we ever go back to Cleveland, we want to walk down that street and see all the gardens at a leisurely pace.

Taken at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. The first photo in this post was also taken at the garden.
Cleveland Art Museum. There was also a contemporary art museum, which I was sad to miss.

There were also other places to visit, but, unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to do everything. But we rented an awesome place through Airbnb — if you ever need to go to Cleveland, ask me about it. I was grateful to have this relaxing space to come home to everyday, and I was glad that the twelve-year-old had a place that felt like home to rest in every evening.

So those are the exciting summer activities that I mentioned in my last post, but they turned out even better than I ever imagined. Stay tuned for more photos from the Cornell Lab in Ithaca, New York.

Please tell me about your summer adventures.

5 thoughts on “July

  1. We love Airbnb! We traveled to Ireland and Arkansas this summer and stayed in Airbnbs on both trips. Such a great alternative to hotels, especially for families (we’re a family of five). And what a wonderful experience for your son to attend this intensive! I have always felt that homeschooled children have much more free time to really mature and grow as they learn an instrument. My children started on piano and have had the time to expand their interests into many more, such as drums, guitar, and bass guitar.


    1. Hi Amy! Thanks so much for your comment. It’s great to hear from you. Yes, isn’t it wonderful how homeschooling allows our children the time they really need to flourish. It’s great that your kids enjoy music so much.

      I’m so glad to hear you like Airbnbs too. This was our first Airbnb experience, and I’m so glad it went well! Not only did it save us a little money, it gave us much more room than the hotel would have, which was helpful since my husband had to work and my younger son was practicing cello, etc. And it was easy to do laundry and cook meals, which saved money too. For a 10-day stay, it was the right decision!


  2. Congrats to your son!

    Airbnb is great until you have a bad experience. Then it can become a complete nightmare. Their whole system is set up to protect the hosts who list there and not the people who actually use the service. We rented a full house for a week in Sarasota, FL, a few years ago. Our stay was mostly no big deal. Then as we were driving home, the host called and said that she had to pay her cleaning lady for five hours of extra work to clean the house because our family had trashed it. (We had not even been gone for five hours when she made this call and I left the place cleaner than when we arrived.) She started demanding that we send her more money. And then more money. And then more money. We refused and told her we would take it up with Airbnb directly. (Incidentally, there is no phone number on Airbnb’s site to report this behavior to a human. You have to go through their system and wait. We were about to call the police when we heard from them. We probably still should have.) Then she started telling us that she had been video recording our family the whole time and that she had saved a bag of our dog’s fur to prove it was us. She sent Airbnb a picture of a bag of dog fur that we had allegedly left all over her house (which apart from being psychotic was from a dark brown dog instead of our short-haired white dog – we later learned that she was a dog groomer and saved full from her clients’ dogs to do this sort of thing). In retrospect, I can’t believe I ever had my child in a house owned by someone this mentally ill and potentially dangerous, but we did not know any better when we leased the place. (Imagine some creeper getting video of your kid in the bathtub.) Airbnb took our side in the conflict, noting that the picture was obviously fake and she had broken a lot of Airbnb rules (not to mention breaking laws on extortion). But they then removed our negative review of her and allowed her to continue to list her house on the site. I have since learned that this is a regular practice for Airbnb. It is their written policy to remove reviews where someone challenges what is owed, which are never positive reviews. (Hosts seem to know to game this policy too. If you leave them a negative review right after you leave, they will claim you damaged their property.) There’s a website called Airbnb Hell where people go to list their Airbnb horror stories because Airbnb removes them. After that experience, I’m down with staying in professionally managed hotels and rentals and not renting from random people from the Internet. People are crazy.


    1. Oh my! That’s a terrible experience. I’m sorry that happened to you. We are grateful that we had a good experience. We had read articles before trying it that it was risky.


Part of the reason I keep a blog is because being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely! So please reach out with a message, if you have a question or would like to chat. I usually write back within 24 hours, but please be patient.

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