Strange Month

May 2020 has been a weird month, and I know that I don’t have to explain why to anybody. I hope whoever is reading this is okay, and you aren’t struggling too much. We’re okay. We’re still staying home for the most part and only going out when necessary. I don’t like having to stay isolated, but we’ve got each other, and we have a comfortable space to live, so I don’t have much to complain about.

One good thing about homeschooling and working for yourself is that you learn how to create your own schedule, and you develop self-discipline, so in some ways, it’s been easier for me to self-isolate. On the other hand, our old schedule is gone, and I used to use our weekly appointments as a kind of anchor or guide that would direct my small, daily goals. When everything shut down, I floundered for a bit (who didn’t?!), but then I realized I could shape my daily schedule again in a productive way. I have found that getting up early on certain weekday mornings and taking a long walk really helps me mentally, and then I have more energy afterward to think about my other small goals for that day.

Good News

We received some exciting news this month. My 13-year-old won 2nd place for 7th grade in the GMTA state piano competition! Whoo-hoo! He really deserves it after all the hard work he’s put in.

He’s going to premiere an online #StayAtHome recital on YouTube in June. If you would like to join us for that, please send me an email, and I’ll include you on my list of people who will receive the link. It’s not going to appear on his YouTube channel, so you’ll need that link.

Found a friend on my son’s pitcher plants. (Anole)

It’s Time for All that Fun, End-of-Year Work

I was reminded recently that I need to create progress reports for my boys, which I do every summer. In a progress report, I use a bullet list to show what subjects, curriculum, books, projects, etc. that the boys worked on in this past year. I am required to do this by law, but it’s for my own records. I have realized that it’s an important piece of record-keeping because as the boys grow up and begin to apply for various programs, schools or scholarships, we will need to have these lists handy for those applications. I’m learning that it’s important to keep track of EVERYTHING, so I’m glad that I was already a good record-keeper. Despite this, I learned this past year that there’s MORE I need to keep track of, such as a list of all the music my 13-year-old pianist has learned to play. Yikes! Starting that list a few years and over a hundred pieces later, it was a chore to whip up! But now it’s done, and I just need to remember to add to it as we go along.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you homeschool, and your child is ever going to apply for anything, you might want to keep records, especially if they are doing a lot of independent projects!

Next Year Plans

I’m also starting to think about plans for next year, which is fun, and I’m giving myself the whole summer to work out our plans. I have a stack of historical fiction set in the United States on my desk, which might give you a clue as to what I’m thinking about. But there’s a lot more than literature that I need to plan. In order not to get overwhelmed, I use the previous year’s progress report, and I go through each subject one at a time, trying to decide if we’ll keep doing what we’re already doing, or if we need something new. It’s slow work, but it’ll get done. And, of course, we continue to tweak the course of study as the year goes along, which always happens. My plans are flexible.

Note: If you want to see what my plans were for 7th grade, the whole game plan is in my shop.

Wrapping Up This Year

We don’t have any definite date set for “the last day of school,” and in fact, our school year continues through the summer. I’m going to give my son a couple weeks off before his summer camp begins, which is online now (but that’s better than nothing)! And we always take a lot of time off in August because it’s birthday month. But if there’s any work that I was hoping my son would finish, and he’s not quite finished with it, he’ll continue with it throughout the summer, and then I’ll probably decide that it’s done, and we’ll just move on to whatever we’re going to do next year. I have learned that it’s very hard to finish every curriculum, book, resource that we have, but I can remember back when I was in school, and teachers would not always finish everything on the syllabus either. I think we get a lot more accomplished than I give us credit for.

What Else?

Let’s see. We are raising four monarch caterpillars! Not as many as last time, but that’s not a bad thing. We haven’t had to worry about running out of milkweed, but we did have to bring them inside because they were being preyed upon by wasps. 😦 So we hope the four that we have will survive. We have two chrysalises so far, and we’ll probably have two more by tomorrow. 🙂

Mrs. Cardinal with one of her chicks (which you saw in the nest in my last post).

We’ve also enjoyed birdwatching this year. The cardinal chicks that I featured in last month’s post have survived, and we’ve seen them partaking in our sunflower seeds alongside Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal. (This is what we affectionally call the pair of cardinals we’ve been feeding for 2~3 years now.) We’ve also watched many other bird chicks in the yard, including brown thrashers, bluebirds, and these beautiful Eastern Phoebes. 🙂

If you have actually read this far, THANK YOU. I hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me how your month is going. Please take care and stay safe. 🙂


A bluebird chick just before taking the big leap out of the birdhouse.

May is one of my favorite months of the year. Flowers are blooming and the temperature is perfect. The trees have fresh, new leaves, and the birds are tending to their babies. Our resident bluebirds had a successful brood, and we even got to witness one of the chicks leave the birdhouse — what an exciting moment! We haven’t noticed the baby bluebirds hanging out in our yard, but we do have a family of house finches (mama, papa and two chicks) coming every day to eat our sunflower seeds and drink the water from our birdbath. My twelve-year-old has commented on how loud the little chicks are when they are around!

May has been a busy month. After the state piano competition, I started making appointments and doing things we weren’t able to do while my son was preparing for that. We have had a couple of fun play dates, enjoyed some educational events at the university, and had a few other outings and errands to run, including shopping. My boys are growing so fast, and they need new clothes!

There’s always more to do as kids grow older, isn’t there? Just when I think it’s getting easier because the boys are more capable and independent, there’s a whole new level of work for my husband and me as we homeschool these boys. (Not to mention all the food consumption!!)

For now we are working on wrapping up this year, though for me I’ll be “wrapping up” throughout the summer. (Sigh. I just remembered I need to write up progress reports and all that.)

The Finch Family

In the state of Georgia I am required to test my boys every three years starting in the third grade, so this is a testing year for us. As I mentioned before, it takes up time I would rather be spending on more important things, but I do think it’s wise to get an assessment occasionally to see where we’re at. So I am planning to do the testing in early June. I probably won’t write about it again because I doubt there will be anything new to say from the last time, but if you want to see which test we used and our experience with it, you can click here. In future years I may try a different test, and if I do, I’ll write about the process.

One of our weekly appointments will be ending for the summer this week, but the boys both continue their music lessons throughout the summer, albeit with some breaks here and there. We will also continue to homeschool throughout the summer, though we’ll be able to take breaks and focus on different stuff. I’m excited that my eldest son is going to be starting 7th grade in the fall, which I consider junior high. We’ll probably go ahead and begin some 7th grade work in the summer. Though I don’t do any official start date (except on paper), there are some things I’ll save for September in order to give us a lighter schedule during the summer months. Overall, summer will be fun and more relaxing, but it’s nice to ease into some of the new things that 7th grade will entail. (Of course, this is the plan now, but summer has a mind of it’s own — I don’t know what we’ll actually have time for. LOL)

A few flowers from our front garden beds.

I have laid out my plans for 7th grade, and while we’ll mostly be continuing to use some of the same resources we have always used, I am introducing some new things, and I’m writing a literature curriculum from scratch (with help from the Internet), which is taking a long time to finish. I’m so glad I started early. I couldn’t find a ready-made curriculum that I liked. I was an English major, and I’m picky about the books I want to read at any given time. (It’s this reason I could never belong to a book club. I never want to read the selections other people make.) I wanted to pick books that I felt my son would enjoy but that would also introduce him to other cultures, history, and ways of life. The theme of my literature course will be “survival.” This is something a twelve-year-old should like, don’t you think? 🙂

I always try to write follow-up blog posts to my beginning-of-year post that details our curriculum for that year. Indeed, I made a lot of changes this year, so I’ll try to do that soon, but I can’t make promises. We are going to get busier as the summer begins, and we will have some adventures that I hope to share with you later in the summer too.

The phlox bloomed earlier this spring, and it was beautiful.

I usually write a post about our gardening efforts this time of year, but alas, this will be the first time I don’t do that. We haven’t planted anything new, though we did take a day off of lessons to do some trail maintenance, and we continue to enjoy the flower beds in the front yard, which we made and planted last year. Unfortunately, my son’s Venus flytrap died over the winter, which is too bad. It had given us a few years worth of joy and had gotten quite big. His pitcher plants came back, and they had a good many flowers this year too. I find myself eagerly awaiting the hour everyday when I can step outside for a little while and water the plants. That simple act makes my day feel fulfilling and complete.

My boys and I make a lot of gardening “plans,” and sometimes we manage to carry them out, but as they get older and more involved in their music events and other activities, I wonder how often we’ll be able to dig in the dirt. You can’t plant new stuff unless you can commit to caring for it until it becomes established, and I don’t bother to plant vegetables unless I think I’ll have time to cook with them. But we love our yard, and I’m so glad the boys enjoy plants (I did too as a child). I think it’ll always be something we do when we can.

Sometimes our birdbath will attract a new-to-us species. We were very excited to see this summer tanager.

This has become a long and rambling post, and I thank any of you who have actually read the whole thing. I know this post is not the kind of blog material that attracts readers, but I don’t care about that much anymore. I want to keep a record of our homeschool, and I want to enjoy writing, and I want to attract only those who care about the same, simple things.

Please tell me what you’ve been up to lately. I hope your spring is just as lovely as ours.