April 2021

I’m living in this space where I feel a deep sadness on one side and a deep contentment mixed with joy on the other side. It is very weird. I feel quite unmotivated to do certain things, yet I stay busy. Where I find joy hasn’t changed very much: my family, the light through the window, my garden, books. I savor these.

We are entering the final stage of our school year. It’s around this time that I give up on any grand plans, and we just focus on our priorities. I’ve talked a lot on my blog about how I set certain priorities for each year, and this has helped me focus on the important stuff when we get crunched for time or start to have spring fever. Right now we’re dealing with both those things. I know we won’t finish everything I set out to do at the beginning of the year, but we’re getting the big stuff done.

We can and do homeschool through the summer, but I’ve learned that the summer tends to have a mind of its own. I want to give the boys a break from the lessons I assign them, and I don’t make them do any lessons while they are in their summer programs. They really look forward to these. I was hoping we’d have face-to-face programs this summer, but very few schools are offering that, and, of course, they shouldn’t unless they can follow strict guidelines. The boys do well with Zoom, though, and they have fun. My 11-year-old will be participating in his first summer strings program and another program on animal behavior, so he’s really excited.

We’re looking forward to mid-June when the summer programs begin, and that’s my goal for finishing 8th and 5th grade. However, if we need to, we’ll find time to tie up loose ends after the summer programs end. My official start date for 9th grade (high school!) and 6th grade is September 1st, but you never know. We may start some stuff early. Summer is overlap time, but lessons are always low-key.

How are you doing? What joys are you finding this spring? What plans do you have for this summer?

November 2020

Greetings & Happy Holidays. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and that you’re looking forward to the winter holidays in December. We had a pleasant Thanksgiving, but the best part has been taking a few days off from our regular routine to play and putter around the house. Boy, I needed that! And the boys needed it too.

There’s much going on that I can’t write about in this space, so let’s just say that this homeschooling mama is growing older, and she’s feeling tuckered out. I turned 49 in October! It’s hard for me to believe that. When I was a young girl, a 50-year-old was old old. LOL Now poof. I’m almost there. Of course, I don’t consider it old anymore, but I do notice a lot of changes in my body. *groan*

But life is mostly good, and for this, I’m grateful. At this age, I have learned to appreciate all the good, simple things. Being alive is on the top of that list. And healthy. I like to rake leaves and trim the foliage in the flowerbeds. I love watching birds, and I love the blue sky, and I love rain too. I have a cozy home, and I love my family. I get a little time here and there to share my thoughts on this blog, and somehow that’s like meditating for me. It helps me breathe and sort my thoughts.

This isn’t to say I don’t see the darker side of life. We are still waiting out this pandemic, and we are more than ready for a vaccine, but we know that life will stay somewhat altered for a while beyond that. This isn’t fun. I know many people who are over 50-years-old who are being negatively affected by this pandemic. You don’t necessarily have to catch COVID-19 to have it take away your freedom to be with loved ones or access to proper healthcare, which has other negative consequences. I also know plenty of people who aren’t taking the pandemic seriously, and they don’t wear masks or take any precautions, and this is frustrating because their decisions impact us. We’re having to stay home for an entire year because we can’t trust going out among the general population for anything except essential shopping. Thanks a lot, I say.

Sigh. But life goes on, and we savor the good and try to let the other things go. This too shall pass.

If there’s one good thing about being stuck at home, it’s that we can do a lot of learning and reading.

My 5th grader just finished up a fantastic class on outschool.com. (If you don’t know about Outschool, you should really check it out.) He took a 10-week zoology class with a great teacher who made the class fun. It met twice a week on Zoom, so it was in depth, and he did a lot of homework for it. He also took a class about birds from this same teacher over the summer. Outschool has been great, and I plan to use it more as my son’s needs grow.

As a family, we have been enjoying the series How the Universe Works, which is available on Amazon Prime right now. We’ve watched a lot of documentaries about space, but we’ve never gotten the detailed information that we are getting in this show. Keep in mind, it’s a few years old, so with rapid technological advances, some of this information is already out of date. In addition, we usually don’t like documentaries that repeat information and images over and over again (you’ll see a lot of explosions), or use dramatic language to describe nature, but the basic information is so good that we can overlook that.

As for books, we are all diving into our favorites. My 11-year-old won’t give me back my Kindle! He is devouring chapter book after chapter book, and I haven’t even kept track of everything he’s reading. My husband is supplying him with plenty of series. As long as the books have animals for main characters, my son is happy, and I’m thrilled he’s reading so much, so he can keep my Kindle. 😉 At the moment he’s reading the Seekers series.

My 14-year-old is enjoying the classic science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert right now.

As for me, I’ve always got a few things I’m reading, but for my bedtime book, I’m reading The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. I just started it, but so far, so good. It’s entertaining and informative, and since I’ve learned a lot about the research of birds in documentaries, I feel like I have some knowledge and background which makes me thoroughly enjoy this book.

I also recently finished re-reading the classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, though I’m questioning now whether or not I really read it as a kid. I thought I did, but I sure didn’t remember anything from the book! Maybe I just saw the movie. (I don’t have the greatest memory.) Anyway, I enjoyed it, though I see where teaching this book today would be tricky. You definitely need to read it keeping in mind the timeframe it was written and perhaps juxtapose this book with some more current but also wonderful books written by black authors. I would recommend Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, which is also set in the 1930s. Do you have any other recommendations?

How is your homeschooling going, or what plans do you have for the holidays? Please tell me in the comments below.

Pandemic Homeschooling

Below are links to posts I’ve written specifically for parents who find themselves needing to homeschool during the pandemic. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to email me. I would like to try to help.

Crash Course in Homeschooling

Scheduling Your Homeschool Day

School Closures vs. Homeschooling

Stuck at Home? Need to Teach Your Kids? Try these ideas.

If you are seriously considering switching to homeschool long-term, and you have elementary level students, I recommend my 48-page PDF resource The Everyday Homeschooler’s Guide to Teaching the Early Years. You can find it in my store.