About To Be Released…

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been working on the final details of my first e-book in…..5 minute increments?! ¬†It feels that way, anyway! This has been a labor of love, but I have enjoyed learning about the process of making an e-book, and I hope it’s only the beginning.

In the next day or two you can expect the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Meanwhile, I would like to thank everyone who voted on my blog and on Twitter for a cover and title. I will let the final outcome be a surprise, but I will tell you that I picked the title and photo with the most votes and which also best represents what my book is about. The final layout/design of the cover has changed significantly from what I used in the voting contest, but I think you’ll like it.

Thank you for all your support and readership. I couldn’t do it without you.


Blog Business and Worthy Reads

MOL the photographs

Introducing Mama of Letters: the photographs!

Well, I wish I could say this was a long time in coming, but I have been using SmugMug for a long time, and recently they have rolled out a whole new array of options, which has made my account even better. I was able to create an attractive site with just the photos I use on Mama of Letters. If you are interested, you can view a slideshow for each gallery: our long-term projects, my son’s little projects, and my general homeschooling photos. My favorite gallery contains my nature photos and how I’ve tried to foster nature appreciation in my boys. (Psst….Some of these nature photos have not appeared on Mama of Letters!)

Note that this is different from my photography website: Shelli Pabis Photography. Though there is some overlap in the photos from that site, most of the photos I use on Mama of Letters are snapshots and not professional by any means. Some of them I take with my iPad. I still love them, though, because they are of my family and daily life.

There’s a link to this site in my right-hand margin. If you like photos and less verbosity, then you may enjoy it. ūüėČ

Thank you!

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to comment and vote on a cover for my first e-book, which you can still do in my last post. The voting has been very close between two titles, but your thoughts and ideas have been very informative and helpful. I’ll surprise you with the final outcome.

Now for a little Worthy Reads:


Home school no longer just for the deeply religious – Los Angeles Daily News

Brace Yourselves, You’ve Chosen to Homeschool…Again – Catholic Sistas

Homeschooling Resources

Peg + Cat Equals Clever New Math Series – PBS Kids – a new cartoon on math! ¬†I’m linking to the first episode here.


How Common Core is Slowly Changing My Child – mrsmomblog

My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me¬†– The Atlantic

I Need Your Help

Dear Readers,

I’m very excited that my very first e-book is almost ready to publish! This is a short book, and it’s the one I’m using to learn the ropes as I go about this business of e-publishing. I’ll be using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (for better or worse – as I said, I’m just learning right now).

This e-book will contain essays and photography that I wrote and took right before and after my second son was born, so it’s geared to new mothers. Many of them have not been published on this blog.

What I didn’t anticipate was how difficult it would be to come up with a title and cover for this book. Unlike the other e-books I’m hoping to write, which lend themselves to titles, this one is a little more difficult. It’s one mother’s experience as she welcomes her second baby into the world and leaves behind the leisurely days of caring for just one child. (Oh, she didn’t realize they were ‘leisurely’ until she had the second child.)

One theme that runs through the book is the seasons and sometimes I compare the stages of new motherhood to the different seasons, which is why you’ll see allusions to this in the cover and title options below.

What I’d like you to do is pick your favorite. Or more specifically, what would grab you, if you were shopping for an e-book on this subject? If nothing grabs you, feel free to tell me that too! Or a different combination of photo/title. Like I said, this is my learning experience and e-book “experiment.” I will appreciate any thoughts or advice from more seasoned e-book writers!

Keep in mind that I want my title to contain a searchable keyword. So “motherhood” or “mother” needs to be in there. I’m finally starting to lean toward one of these, so I’m interested in hearing what grabs you. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!


I've Reached Autumn and Other Essays from a New Mother


New Motherhood 2


Seasons of New Motherhood 2


What I Least Expected

Tell me which is your favorite in the comments! #1, #2, #3, or #4? Or you can e-mail me at shellipabis (at) gmail (dot) com. THANK YOU.

(UPDATE: Nathalie came up with an alternative in the comments which is more to the point of what my essays are about: “And Then There Were Two: Essays on Motherhood.” Feel free to weigh in on that too.)

Updates, Plans & Worthy Reads

I have lots of plans and ideas, but like the seasons, everything will have to wait its turn. We just finished our August birthdays (see my column about that here on Thursday), and I’m planning to start school next week. ¬†More about that below.


What I’m most excited to announce is that I’ve been working on my very first e-book. It’s a small one, which is good because it’s teaching me what all this e-book making is about. This first e-book will be for new mothers, a compilation of some of my very first newspaper columns. Many of them are not on this site. ¬†I’ve edited them and re-written some of them. I hope it’s a story that new moms can relate to. ¬†My friend who read my most recent draft said, “I laughed and I cried.” I hope to announce its availability this autumn.

I will also be writing more e-books on homeschooling, storytelling, and other subjects, and I invite you to tell me what subjects most interest you (whether for an e-book or a blog post). ¬†While my first priority is homeschooling and keeping a pace of life that doesn’t overwhelm me, I’m being intentional about getting my work done, and it’s exciting to see how working just a little bit at a time can add up to the completion of my goals, which is to create work, home and a family life that I love. It’s a slow, ongoing process and not guaranteed by any means, but making goals and putting in the effort is what makes me happy.

I’m working to give this site more focus and create a resource for all parents who want to support their children’s interests. ¬†I don’t want to exclude non-homeschoolers because there are so many caring parents who simply can’t homeschool or don’t want to, and I think that’s a viable choice. My main goal is supporting children, teaching them worthy life skills and fostering their creativity. As my boys get older, I hope I can do more work toward helping other people with this same goal.

Eventually I will offer more resources on storytelling because I think that’s such a powerful tool for parents, and it’s easy and free, and I want to show parents that¬†they can tell stories. As we continue with our own homeschooling journey, I hope I can share the highs and the lows, and I can illustrate how project-based homeschooling is working for us.


As I mentioned before, our “home” school will begin next week. I’m happy that my sons have had a full summer of things they love – traveling to visit family, summer camps, play time, and time to create. It’s been a good summer. After their birthdays, I wanted them to have plenty of time to play with their gifts. As I write this, my seven-year-old is playing with his new Lego creation – a Lord of the Rings spider “Shelob” kit that he had been wanting for a long time. He told me that if I gave him the time, he could finish it today, and good to his word, he spent all morning at it and finished it.

I’ve enrolled my sons in a few classes outside our home, and they are starting this week and next week. I’m really excited about our schedule. I want to write about our plans, schedule and curriculum, and hopefully that’ll happen sooner than later.

I love to tweak Mama of Letters¬†whenever I can think of a worthy change, and recently I updated my header’s tag line and my¬†About¬†page. This may not be important for those of you who have been following me a while (THANK YOU), but I thought I’d let you know. There may be information on there that you didn’t even know.

Without further ado, here’s my latest WORTHY READS, which is small, I know. ¬†As you can see, I’ve been busy!


Brother Wants Parents To Stop Siblings’ Homeschooling – NPR

Parents On The Pros And Cons of Homeschooling – NPR – I thought this interview was pretty good, but I would like for them to talk to more homeschoolers. There’s more that can be addressed. What do you think?

Homeschooling rare but growing in China – Globaltimes.cn – Wow!


Redshirting in the Age of Academic Kindergarten: Should You Hold Your Child Back? – Huff Post Parents


10 Ways Living With a Toddler Is Like Being in Prison – Huffpost Parent – Just for a laugh. My husband sent this to me.


How To Be A Great Conversationalist – wondermomwannabe.com –¬†This isn’t about homeschooling, education or parenting, but as an introvert and someone who has difficulty with small talk and starting conversations, I found it helpful, and I thought maybe someone else would too. And maybe these are some good tips we can pass on to our introverted kids.

Home Sweet Home

Thank you to everyone who has been concerned for my family and those who have written to see how we’re doing. We’re doing well, and we’re back home after having to leave town suddenly to help some relatives in need. You’ll read about what happened in an upcoming post.

Meanwhile, I’m here to say, I’m back! I wasn’t gone long, was I?

It’s taken awhile to feel like I’m back into my old routine, which is a bit messy and unorganized anyway, so I guess I can’t expect to ever feel on top of everything. But we’re back home, and I’m well rested, and the house is kind of clean, the refrigerator is stocked, and I have time to sit here and type while watching a bluebird feed her babies in the birdhouse outside my window.

We’ve been having rain like crazy, and I’m starting to have mixed emotions about it. I love rain, but this is a little excess. At least my garden is happy and the new perennials I bought recently at the Botanical Garden are settling happily into their new homes.

I love having a busy life even if I don’t always get to accomplish everything I’d like to get done in a timely manner. I feel fortunate that I love family life and being with my children and husband (I know there are people who don’t love it).¬†(Not that it’s all perfect or that we always get along, of course!)¬†I love never feeling bored. I love having lots of projects swimming in my brain.

I’m always thinking about my sons’ homeschool, and I do that through this blog. Writing and organizing it helps me organize and plan our life. Reflecting on what we’ve done helps me know where we need to go too. ¬†I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it.

Some of my upcoming posts will be:

  • Life’s Unexpected Twists and Turns
  • 2nd Generation Butterflies – with a slideshow, of course!
  • Butterflies at the Chicago Botanical Garden Butterfly Habitat
  • Our End-of-the-Year Review
  • My Homeschool Priorities for a Seven and Four-Year-Old

And as a forewarning, I’m going to be publishing a private post soon that will require a password to view – I don’t mean to exclude my loyal readers, but there’s something I want to share with family and close friends, yet it feels like too much to put out there on the Internet. I hope you understand. If you’re someone I have close contact with and you’d like to view it, just send me an e-mail to get the password.

Breaks are Healthy and Necessary

Ahhh…I’m back!

I took a couple of weeks to stop writing, stop reading what’s new in the homeschooling world, and I did very little social media. I watched movies instead! My brain is thanking me for it. I highly recommend it too.¬†Now I’m refreshed and I have more writing ideas, which I was lacking before I took the break.

I may be blogging less through the summer as I work on some other projects too, but I promise to post my weekly columns.

Sometimes you just gotta do something different.

What have you done differently lately?

playing hooky : my writing internet vacation

I’ve been writing a weekly column for my newspaper for nearly four years now (wow!), and for the first time, I’ve decided to take a break. I’m going to extend that vacation to blogging and social media as well. Good-bye, Internet….for a week or two.

Meanwhile, if you’d like some reading material, here are some of my oldies but goodies.

Have a wonderful two weeks! I’m still available by e-mail if you’d like to chat: shellipabis (at) gmail (dot) com

Thank You, My Apology, and What can I do for you?


Recently this blog has acquired over 150 followers, and while I know that’s peanuts in the blogging world, and the blogging experts say that only about 5-10% of my following actually read my posts regularly anyway, I am still tickled pink that 150+ people have found Mama of Letters worthy enough to click “follow.” ¬†Even a few true followers makes me happy, and you know who you are.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You encourage me and keep me going.

Many years ago I started Mama of Letters, but it was only more recently when I switched to WordPress and decided to focus on homeschooling and daily life with children. I don’t make money with this blog, and I try to be as honest and straightforward as I can (while still protecting my family’s privacy). ¬†I also try to give information that will be helpful to you. ¬†I think about what I might like to know, if I were in your shoes. For me that has a lot to do with learning how to relax and do it our way… I hope I inspire you to do it your way.

I have met some wonderful people by writing this blog, and I want to thank those of you who have left comments and/or e-mailed me with your comments and questions. I love connecting with you. I really do.


I apologize for something though. I have always felt that it’s nice for a blogger to try to reciprocate the online relationships by reading and leaving comments on others’ blogs.¬† However, since I’ve started this homeschooling blog I find it impossible to do that while maintaining the lifestyle I purport to have on this blog — simple, creative, mindful, with time spent outdoors and ample time focused on my children — so I don’t do it.¬† If you come here looking for another follower for your blog, you’ll probably be disappointed, but that’s all the more reason I want to thank you, if you read my blog anyway.

I am also not so active on social media. I spend a little time on Facebook, and no time on Google+. Pinterest not so much. I use Twitter more, but there are days that I’m silent there too.  I know you can understand why I have to limit myself in these venues.

Having said that, this past year I discovered that Flipboard on my iPad makes reading blogs super easy for me, so I try to at least “flip” through some of my favorite blogs once a week or so. I rarely leave comments. Mostly because it’s hard to do on my iPad, and I usually can’t get passed those darn captcha phrases! (“I really am a REAL person!”) So I apologize for that too, but I do enjoy reading your inspiring blogs, and I wish I had more time for it.

If you have a blog that you’d like for me to read, please leave me a link my comments. I can’t promise anything, but I will add it to my feed!


How is your homeschooling going? Please leave me a comment. I love to chat.

Do you have concerns or questions about homeschooling you haven’t talked to anyone about yet?   Please e-mail me.

Or is there another topic you’re interested in? Motherhood… writing… storytelling… photography… blogging… gardening…. those are all my favorite topics!

Part of the reason I write is because it’s who I am…it’s good for my mental health to write out my thoughts and organize my life this way. ¬†(I tried not writing once and it didn’t last very long.)

But I write for an audience because I want to connect with others who share similar interests, and I want to help others attain their goals just as I work toward mine.¬†¬†I really do, and I’m not just saying that. (If I didn’t want to I’d just keep a journal.) It’s more fun doing it together.

So, I would love to get to know you. Please leave me a comment. Tell me how I could help you. Or just say hello and tell me what your plans are for this weekend.

I will continue to respond directly to your comments, and if you don’t want to leave a comment, please e-mail me directly at shelli (at) gmail (dot) com. Of course, if you feel more comfortable lurking, I understand, and I appreciate your readership too.


How can I encourage you and keep you going?