Educationally Speaking: Homeschooling updates or why I have more gray hair now

Based on the title you might think my children are causing me stress during our homeschooling journey, but they are not.

I’m causing my own stress by worrying I’m not teaching them correctly and comparing our journey to the journey of other other students, homeschooling and otherwise.

Or at least this is what I had been doing for part of our school year but in the last month or so, something clicked and I realized my children are following their own educational path and that’s not only okay, but a good thing.

In addition, the students who are attending public school around us right now aren’t even receiving a consistent education with students being pulled in and out of the classroom and tossed onto virtual learning on a whim. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for public school students right now to figure out whether they are coming or going in their subjects.

I think some parents who do not homeschool their children, see homeschooling parents as being foolish, unqualified, and unable to provide their children an actual education. In some cases, this may be true, but in the majority of cases, a parent truly can provide a very well rounded, high quaility education for their children at home. One reason they can do this is because of the plethora of homeschooling and educational resources available to parents, students, and teachers in book form and online.

Another reason they can do this is because of all the support available within the homeschooling community. Homeschooling parents love to see other homeschooling parents succeed, no matter why a parent has decided to homeschool.

One thing I have had to overcome with the idea of schooling at home is my preconceived notion that children have to be sitting at a desk with school work for six hours at time to be properly educated . This really isn’t realistic and isn’t even how children are taught in public schools. In public schools there are breaks for recess and lunch and extracurricular activities, so a child isn’t strapped to a desk for such long periods, but somehow new homeschooling parents seem to think our children should be.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that it isn’t traditional schooling, which means it doesn’t have to operate like traditional school.

I find that Little Miss (6) does much better with short spurts of learning and breaks in between for art, creating or playing. Since we are homeschooling, we have that luxury and flexibility to allow that for her.

She’s also learning a lot more with this style of education than I first realized.

During the beginning part of the school year, I really felt like I was failing her because she is behind on her reading, or at least I feel she is behind. On one particulary frustrating day I wanted to cry I was so frustrated. I gave up on reading for a bit. Instead, I handed her a paper about sea animals and said she could color the animals. The paper suggested the child look at how plants and animals rely on each other, but also how some animals rely on another animal to survive.

I explained this to her and she said, “Oh, you mean like this Oxpecker bird and the crocodile.”

I looked at her with wide eyes and waited to see what else she would say.

Without prompting she said, “So, the Oxpecker bird helps the crocodile because it cleans its teeth and the crocodile helps the Oxpecker because it gets fed. Symbiotic.”

“What’s symbiotic?”

“Their relationship. It’s symbiotic.”

Symbiotic? Whoa. Where had that word come from?

“Where did you hear that word?”

“Wild Kratts,” she announced.

If you don’t know, Wild Kratts is an animated show on PBS about wild animals. It is a shoot off of other shows with the Kratt brothers (Zomoomafoob, etc. ). The brothers travel the world (or at least pretend to) and encounter different animals and teach their young viewers about the animals. Wild Kratts presents them as animated characters who have joined with other characters to rescue various wildlife.

It wasn’t only that she had learned the word that startled me, but that she had retained the information, was able to repeat it clearly, and also remembered the rather large word to describe the relationship.

She moved on as she pointed to a fish on the page and slid her pencil across the paper to indicate it was related to the shark on the page.

“So this is a Remora fish,” she announced, pointing to the picture of the fish, which was not labeled. “Remoras hang on to the shark and when the shark kills something there will be little bits of food for the Remora to eat. It swims underneath this shark because it gets the pieces of food that drop from whatever the shark is eating. They have a symbiotic relationship. Their relationship is kind of different from the others. I mean, Remora is a fish and the shark is eating fish so it’s a little weird for him, but it still gives him a meal and it’s still a symbiotic relationship. It’s good for the environment. It’s how everyone survives.”

I just sat and stared at her and wanted to cry, this time from joy. Thirty minutes earlier I had been in tears because she was writing her “c” backward and blanked on identifying “s”, but here she was now defining symbiotic for me. And when she couldn’t figure out I wanted her to combine the sounds of letters together to create words? I was like “Oh my gosh. She probably has a learning disability.”

Mind you, this was the first week we were really focusing on blending sounds so why my mind went to her having a learning disability, I have no idea, other than I knew I’d have to research how to teach her differently if she did have a learning delay. I wanted to nip it in the bud early so she doesn’t struggle later.

I should have realized she is learning a lot more than I thought by how she speaks about activities or crafts, such as when she was making slime and was explaining to me, “You mix it until, well, you know, you get the right consistency.”

She couldn’t explain what consistency was with an official definition, but she knew that her slime had to be either thicker or thinner and knew that was somehow related to the word consistency.

My son was similar at her age. Reading letters wasn’t really his thing but his comprehension and verbal skills were way beyond his age. It’s the same now, which is why at 14 I have him reading books he probably wouldn’t be reading until 10th grade, at least at the public schools in our area.

Right now we are reading Lord of the Flies, which I think I read in 10th grade, but maybe 9th. I can’t remember.

In the first part of our school year we read Silas Marner by George Elliott, which isn’t really a book I hear about a lot of 14-year old boys reading.

We will read To Kill A Mockingbird in the last half of our school year.

In addition to reading and comprehension, I will be starting a new math program through The Good and the Beautiful with my daughter once it arrives in the mail. The program incoporates storytelling in teaching math and since Little Miss loves storytelling (making them up, reading and watching them) I think she will love this curriculum. I bought it on sale last week because they are going to be phasing it out for a new curriculum sometime this year.

We have also started a science program that I can use for both of the children. It offers an extension for my son to answer questions from for additional information from each lesson. It is also through The Good and the Beautiful.

For my son’s history, we continue to use Notgrass’s From Adam to Us and I continue to supplement with various videos, books, web sites, or activities. We also use resources they provide through their history site.

Two weeks ago I started adding open-book quizes to his History lessons by developing the questions and answers myself. I allow him to use his books to find the answers as I feel it will help to solidify the information for him. It means I have to sit and read every section I assign him and take about 30 to 45 minutes to develop the quiz, but I like the idea of getting even more out of the reading than he can simply by reading the section.

I am trying to add more to his schedule, but I am also trying to not stress if he either misses an assignment or we both forget to complete one. I have learned that homeschooling is a journey in education and the more relaxed we are about it, the better the kids and even I learn, because through homeschooling I am also learning more about the subjects they are studying.

I either forgot a lot of what I was taught in middle and high school or my school did a horrible job at teaching history especially.

I would like to add a government course to my son’s classes in the spring, but we will see if that happens or if we push that off until the fall. With all that is going on in the world I think it would be a good idea for him to know how our government is supposed to work instead of how it is working right now, which isn’t great.

I’m finding one of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to take the time to show my children what actual adults should act like and that bullying, while glorified now by Hollywood and all of the media, is not what we should be doing. In some ways I am sheltering them from this by keeping them in a home education environment versus a public one but in other ways I am exposing them to the cruelty of the world in a slower, less overwhelming and panic inducing fashion.

There are a lot more the kids are learning this year that I haven’t mentioned in this post, but I plan write about that in some separate posts in the next month or so.

Sunday Bookends: Cabin Fever, Lord of the Flies, and hooked on Doc Martin

This is my weekly post where I share what I am reading, watching, writing and occasionally what I am listening to.

Ice on our steep driveway kept the kids and I in the house all week until I braved backing the van down it on Friday to alleviate Little Miss’s severe cabin fever (and mine actually). Backing out wasn’t the issue in the end; getting back up was.

We didn’t go far, just down the street to a local restaurant that is also a store that offers a variety of gifts, including toys and board games. After our lunch I headed up the driveway with complete confidence that van was going up and into our garage. I’m a country girl, even if I did live in town for 18 years, and my parents have a very steep drive, I know how to pull a van up a steep incline. Unfortunately, ice and snow on part of the driveway sent the wheels spinning in place and it took parking the van at the bottom, spreading stone on the ice and breaking some of it up for me to finally pull the van in. I also had to pull it further over to avoid hitting snow along the edge.

Aren’t you so glad I explained that boring story to you?

Well, that’s just how our week was, fairly boring, even as we started school again.

What I’m Reading

This week I will be reading Maggie by Charles Martin, Lord of the Flies with The Boy for school, and hopefully starting And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie because my husband wants to watch a mini-series of it on Acorn this week.

I haven’t read Lord of the Flies since tenth or eleventh grade so I don’t remember a lot of it. I do, however, remember it’s not the happiest book. Somehow reading a book about a group of young boys who go all crazy on an island while trying to figure out how to live without adults seem to fit in with the news of this week. I think a lot of us have realized we are out here in this country being told what to do by a bunch of children arguing over who gets to hold the conch shell.

Little Miss and I were totally thrilled this week when we discovered we have not read all of the Paddington books yet. She didn’t want to go to bed one night until I told her I had downloaded a new one into the Kindle that we could read before bedtime. She didn’t make it very far into the book before she fell asleep so we will read some more each night this week. The only nights we don’t read is when we get to bed too late. On those nights we listen to Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours, which we have listened to since she was probably a few months old.

What I’m Watching

The husband and I are watching Doc Martin in the evenings and The Boy has discovered even he likes it. He now scolds us if we watch it without him. We aren’t used to him liking the shows we watch and for a long stretch he spent his evenings upstairs in his room, online with his friends (most of which he met online through a couple of “in real life” friends), watching memes, or, occasionally, reading a book.

I swear I spend most of my time watching Doc Martin yelling at him to stop being such an odd duck and get some therapy for his Aspergers. I hope that comment isn’t read as a negative comment toward people on the spectrum, but just to say Doc has issues and he could use some guidance to help him communicate with people.

I think my family is tired of me saying things like, “well, just tell her you didn’t stand her up, you had to meet a patient! How hard is that?!” Or “just tell her ‘thank you,’ Martin!! Argh!” I know all Martin’s rudeness and anti-social behavior is part of who he is but it’s fun to tell him off once in a while. I know I yell at him because I love him. (Don’t tell me he’s not a real person. I know he is! Right here — in my mind!)

I’m also trying to finish Beecham House before our subscription to PBS Masterpiece runs out at the end of the month. We switched Masterpiece for Acorn TV, which has a lot more British shows we like. We also have Britbox.

Yes, we like a lot of British television. It is all that British blood in us, I suppose. I have a lot of British ancestry in my family’s background (some Scottish) and my husband’s family was both British and German. Interesting tidbit about my husband’s family is that he is somehow related to Eric Idle from Monty Python fame but so far we haven’t been able to figure out how. The connection is family lore, I guess you would say. My husband’s grandmother was an Idle, but he never met her or his grandfather.

What I’m Writing

I’m currently editing The Farmer’s Daughter and writing some on The Farmer’s Son and also adding sections to other books in the series as they come to me. I really, really, really can’t wait to write The Librarian. I have so many ideas for Ginny and she’s been tapping me on the shoulder all week, asking me when I’ll tell her story. I told her to shush, I still have to finish this part of Molly’s story, wrap up Jason’s drama, and then I’ll get to her.

So that’s me this week. How about you? What are you reading, watching or writing and what have you been up to? Let me know in the comments.

Fiction Friday: He Leadeth Me Excerpt

This is a story I’ve shared a bit of here before and that I work on off and on. I haven’t worked on it in a while but thought I’d share part of it today as a distraction from so many bad things going on. It is something that will need a lot of work on, so bear with me, friends. This is an excerpt from in the middle of it.


He’d asked her if she would take a walk with him after dinner and she’d been nervous, but she’d agreed. They walked for half an hour, chatting about the dinner they’d had, the weather in India, the weather in their perspective countries, the work they were each doing in India and then suddenly he stopped, turned toward her, and held his hand out.

“Have you had the chance to dance in the moonlight in India yet?”

His uniform had been replaced with khakis and a plain white button up shirt like those commonly worn by the Indian men. His dirty blond hair was combed over to one side and though she couldn’t see his eyes clearly in the moonlight, she knew they were blue because she’d caught herself staring at them before when they were talking.

She looked nervously at her feet, unsure how to react to this pivot in their conversation. “I can’t say I have.”

“Well, come on,” he said with one corner of his mouth turned up. “Let’s be brave and see what happens.”

“There’s no music.”

“I can hum a tune or two.”

His hand was warm, the palms rough from days of working hard to build hangers for the Indian Air Force planes. He gently pulled her closer and placed his other hand lightly against her waist but pulled it back again.

“My apologies. Is it ok if my hand rests there?”

She immediately felt embarrassed and looked down at her feet.

“Um… yes? I guess so.”

She was ashamed to admit she had no idea how to dance and had never had a man ask to dance with her.

His hand barely touched her as he began to sway and gently guide her movements.

“Over in Killarney

Many years ago,

Me Mother sang a song to me

In tones so sweet and low.

Just a simple little ditty,

In her good old Irish way,

And l’d give the world if she could sing

That song to me this day.

“Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don’t you cry!

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby.”

She couldn’t look up as he sang.

Her heart was pounding and her head felt light.

What would her father think if he knew she’d come to India to care for orphans and tell others about the love of God but now she was dancing in the moonlight with an Irish airmen? And if Pastor James saw them? What might be said? Thoughts raced fast through her mind but she couldn’t seem to pull away, reveling in the feel of her hand in his and the smell of his cologne. She’d met him only a couple weeks ago before at the market, looking for vegetables and lamb for the mission and orphanage kitchen, and now here she was letting him lead her in a dance in the heat of the Indian summer.

He stopped singing, leaned back so he could look into her face and she looked up to see his blue eyes staring into hers.

“Tell me Emily Grant, the American girl with the very Scottish name, have you ever thought that God has made you for something more?”

The muscle in his jaw jumped a little as he started talking about what he expected for his future, not waiting for her answer.

“I mean, I grew up with my family, on a farm, thinking ‘There must be more to life than this.’ My brother loved farming, the shoveling of manure, and rounding up cows, but I just knew there was something more for me and I knew when I saw those children at the mission, my something more was here in India or at least in helping others.”

“Does it sound arrogant to say I believe God has a plan for me? A plan to show others His love not by what I say but by what I do? Is that what brought you here to India with your mission group? Did you think God would do something grand? That life could be something more and beautiful; the more you showed love and felt it back?”

Emily didn’t know what to say.

She felt her face growing warm.

She knew exactly what Henry meant but she’d never known how to explain it. Her parents couldn’t understand why she had signed her name to the list to travel to India with the missionary who had been visiting their small rural church in Pennsylvania. They were worried for her safety, terrified she’d be killed by people her father called “Devil Worshippers” and “dark skinned heathens.” Emily had read the Bible. She believed God had created all humans and if that was true, then he had also created the Indian people and He loved them as much as he loved a white-skinned American farmer’s daughter.

“It doesn’t sound arrogant,” she said. “It sounds true and real and wonderful. I believe God has a plan for me, but I truly don’t understand it yet. All I knew was something inside me said I needed to follow Pastor James and Margaret here.”

Henry was still looking at her, eyes intensely focused on hers.

When his eyes glanced to her mouth as she spoke she tensed, suddenly self-conscious.

“Maybe God meant us to be here at the same time. For us to experience all this beauty together, ” he said, his voice slipping into a whisper.

He was too close.

Her heart was pounding too fast.

And when his lips touched hers it was too soon.

They’d only known each other two weeks and she hadn’t come to India to fall in love. She’d come to learn more about God’s will for her life.

She pulled away from him quickly and looked quickly at the ground.

“I’m past curfew at the mission. They’ll be concerned about me.”

She walked into the darkness before he could speak.

“Let me at least walk you home,” his voice followed her. “It’s dark and dangerous here at night.”

She paused and nodded an acceptance of his offer.

He fell in step beside her, silent as they walked. When they reached the gate of the mission she placed her hand on the gate and he reached out and wrapped his fingers around her hand.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep. I’ve never been so bold before. Will ya’ forgive me, Emily? I’ve enjoyed our time together. I hope you won’t disapprove of seeing me again.”

“It’s okay. I’m just – it’s – I’m here to be a servant to the mission. I shouldn’t get distracted. I don’t know – I just – wasn’t ready.”

She felt foolish as she spoke.

Wasn’t ready for what? To be loved? To let this young airman who spoke of wanting to serve God love her?

“I have to get to bed. We have open clinic in the morning for the village women. Thank you for the dance Henry.”

She pulled her hand from his and rushed through the gate, closed it and walked down the path toward the mission.

In her room, with the door closed behind her, she touched her fingertips to her lips, closed her eyes and remembered the warmth of his mouth on hers. She breathed deep, shook her head to clear her mind of the memory, and reached for her Bible to take her mind off the distraction she felt God didn’t want her to have.

Photos of the Week And When you Feel Like You’re The Lorax

Snow has been the name of the game for the last two weeks in our neck of the woods.

First, we were hit with 22 to 24 inches a few days before Christmas.

Then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights — wait, no – it only rained for a full day and night on Christmas Eve. It just felt like 40 days. We had threats of flash floods, but in the end there was no significant flooding.

On Christmas morning we had a dusting of snow so we got our white Christmas and that night we had a flash freeze with some more snow.

Then we had an ice storm on New Year’s Day. The ice encased the trees and roads and everything in its path but I didn’t take any photos of it because I didn’t want to fall on my rear trying to get the photos.

Two days after the ice storm, we had a wet, heavy snowfall that was only supposed to bring us about four inches but ended up dumping up to 14 inches on part of our area, but not at our house. We got hit with about six inches that piled mainly on our trees and electric lines.

The snow that came on Sunday was wet and heavy and clung to the lines and trees. We were certain the lights would go out and they flickered and went off for less than 30 seconds in spurts a couple of times, but never went all the way out.

When it started the snow flakes that fell were as big as fifty cent pieces and my cat tried to catch them through the window, which was pretty funny to watch.


After we were originally told 2-4 inches, the storm stalled over our neighboring county, where my parents live. The next county’s border is literally a mile from our house, but somehow we ended up with less, which was the same with the bigger storm the week of Christmas. My parents received about eight inches when all was said and done and we probably had about six.

Apparently I have become The Lorax this winter.

During the heavier snow this past weekend and the Christmas week storm I became worried about the trees around our house because the snow was so heavy on their limbs.

On the week of Christmas the lower limbs of the pine tree that is on our neighbor’s property but is right by our driveway looked like they were about to break off.

“Should I go out there and clean that snow off?” I asked no one in particular.

And no one in particular answered me either.

“I think that snow is breaking the lower limbs.”

“Hey, Mom, look at this meme,” my son said.

So Sunday night before bed I saw ten inches of heavy snow on my little cherry tree (I actually don’t know what it is), bending it’s branches over and I said “Oh my gosh! Should I go out there and clean that off? It’s going to break it’s little branches.”

“Mom,” my son said. “It’s a tree. It’ll be fine.”

So while I felt the need to rescue the trees I didn’t (it was cold and wet, okay?) and the morning after the storm I saw one of the branches on the cherry tree had broke. I felt like I had failed my little tree. The Lorax – I mean — I, was sad, but I think the tree will make it. I think the lower limbs of the pine tree might make it as well, luckily.

On Monday morning the snow fell off the tree limbs in clumps that dissipated into a fine mist on the way down and some of that mist fell down on me when I was taking photos.

I made myself get up earlier than I might would have to try to capture photographs of the snow still on the limbs and lines, but a lot of it had fallen off already.

Luckily my husband grabbed a few photos on the way to work.

I was still able to grab a few shots before all the snow fell off.

Zooma The Wonder Dog enjoyed running along behind me as I took photos. She loves the snow and sleeps hard after a day of playing in it.

The kids also enjoyed building a snowman and a snow fort with the wet snow since the snow from two weeks ago was more like fluff.

I honestly didn’t take very many photos at all on Christmas Day, instead just enjoying the moments of our first Christmas in our new house and with my parents.

By the way, the photo below is the real life photo of the above capture of my dad reading a Christmas story about the making of ‘Silent Night’ to Little Miss. The first photo is the cute, sweet, “blog worthy” photo. The one below is the real photo of how my daughter looked much of the time during the reading because she had been too excited to sleep the night before and was super tired Christmas morning.

Favorite Books Read in 2020

I thought about sharing a list of the books I read this year, but I share an Amazon and Goodreads account with my mom (it makes it easier for me to add books to her Kindle for her) and she read a lot more books than me so sifting through what she read and what I read was a little overwhelming. My Kindle list also includes books from my husband’s account and he’s also read a lot more books than I have this year (as he always does.)

I’ve been lesson planning for when school starts for the kids next week so I didn’t have time to sit and figure out what I read, what she read, and what he read. I do know she read around 200 this year (some of them short, some of them awful Kindle books, poor lady) on her Kindle and he read 80 on his Kindle. They both also read a few hard copies of books.

Since I didn’t want to try to make a list of all the books I read, which would have been short (maybe 20), I thought I’d list some of my favorites of what I read this year instead.

My favorite reads this year were:

A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

Falling Home by Karen White

About Your Father And Other Celebrities I Have Known by Peggy Rowe (the only non-fiction book I read all the way through.)

A Longmire Mystery: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner.

The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin


Honorable Mentions:

Borders of the Heart Chris Fabry

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Silas Marner by George Elliot

The Knife Slipped by Earl Stanley Gardner

A Cord of Three Strands by Christy Distler

I know a lot of readers announce a reading goal for the new year, but I find goals like that distract me from simply enjoying reading. I guess I could set my goal at 20 and see what happens, but . . . that just sounds so organized, so I don’t think I’ll really set that as my goal. Pretend I did, though, so I fit in with all the book bloggers of the world.

So how about you? What were some of your favorite reads of 2020? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Floods, Plagues, and A New Year of Reading

Here we are in a new year and — yeah.

That’s all I got.

No big goals for me this year.

No big plans.

My goal is simply to survive, while also having some fun.

If that sounds like I’m depressed, don’t worry. I’m not. I’m simply going to take it day by day this year, which is something positive that 2020 taught me.

This week I am recapping two weeks of what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to and doing. My heart really wasn’t in writing last week for many reasons, but partially because Christians can be mean, which I will leave for another day. They (we) can also be lovely, so don’t take the first statement as a broad-brush stroke declaration. Christians are human too, despite my belief to the contrary some days. (The previous sentence is a joke, in case you need me to tell you that.)

What I’m Reading

I have seen a lot of book bloggers and bookstagramers announcing their first read of the new year this year.I never get official about that stuff, since I’m not an actual book blogger. But I have just downloaded And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie into my kindle at the suggestion of my husband so that may be my first book of the new year. I’m also reading Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

I finished Home to Holly Springs this week. It wasn’t my favorite book from Jan Karon’s Mitford series, but it was a very interesting look into the past of her main character Father Timothy Kavenagh. Even though I liked the book, I was disappointed that Jan got stuck in some familiar tropes in this one; one of them a theme that seems to run throughout her books, but I won’t say which theme so I don’t ruin the secret Father Tim learns.

I actually already knew mostof what happened in this book, because I had read about it in subsequent books in the series. I did read some reviews on Amazon for Home to Holly Springs out of curiosity once I finished it and found that and a lot of Karon fans did not enjoy it because it strayed from the usually cheerful Mitford stories. There was much less humor in this book as it dealt with some tougher topics, including racism, rape, adultery, and Father Tim’s decades long anger toward his father.

The book dragged in a few parts. Those parts involved very long storytelling dialogue by side characters, which were fairly unncessary for the plot of the book. I “fast forwarded” through my Kindle to push through those parts. Those sections aside, the book was well written and kept me interested long enough to find out what happened. I think the pages and pages of dialogue between Father Tim and people he met during his return to his hometown of Holly Springs could have been eliminated. The characters weren’t integral to the story whatsoever and I didn’t need to know their backstories through long winded conversations.

The ending of the book was lot like the Lord of the Rings movies for me – it could have and should have ended a lot earlier than it did.

The thing about Jan’s books, though, is that you really do feel like you’re getting to know her characters even through the long and rambling conversations or mundane details. In other words, even though there are times you want to say “Okay..move along already, Jan,” you also find yourself feeling like you are sitting in a cozy living room listening to your elderly relatives chat after Christmas dinner. Or maybe I just feel that way because Jan’s characters are mainly from North Carolina and my mom’s family is from there as well so that is what Christmas’ were like in my childhood.

I put Maggie by Charles Martin on the back burner when I was reading Home to Holly Springs and Shepherd’s Abiding by Karon and A Christmas Carol by … well, you know who, I don’t have to tell you, (by the way, don’t ever Google his life story. Yikes.) in December. I hope to finish Maggie this week because I really am enjoying it, though I know some tough parts are coming up in it.

What I’m Watching

We finally watched Alfred Hitchcocks Rope last week and it stressed me out!

I was cringing and squirming even without any gore or violence. It was all psychological, as Hitchcock’s films are, and my psyche took a direct hit while watching it. I recommend it. Highly.

We’ve also been watching Murdoch Mysteries for the last couple of weeks and this past week we watched all three Christmas specials and enjoyed them. They are fairly light mysteries that are often easy to solve and that’s just fine with me and my husband. It’s about all our brains can handle at this point with all the other craziness in the world.

We also watched a couple episodes of Lovejoy, which I always seem unable to follow the plot of for some reason, but am still entertained by.

This past week we started Doc Martin which made my husband and I realize we watch a lot of British shows and movies because pretty much every British actor we’ve ever seen in any British show has been on this show at one point or another. We were hooked in the first episode, breezed through the first season and are now into the second.

What’s Been Occuring

My husband has a scanner app on his phone now to keep track of any emergencies he might have to cover for work in the evenings and on weekends. Hearing the tones drop sent waves of anxiety rolling through me, even though some of the situations weren’t even life threatening.

On Christmas Eve we had to listen to the scanner because our area was under a flood watch. After receiving 24 inches of snow the week before, it rained steady all day Christmas Eve, washing the snow into the rivers and streams around us, of which there are a lot. Rivers and streams continued to rise on Christmas Day and then temps dropped fast. It made for some interesting travel situations but also some interesting situations for people along the river who had to flee from their homes on Christmas. In the end, there was no major flooding.

Christmas Eve I kept an eye on the street down below our house, wondering if the pond in town would flood across it. It didn’t. Then we thought snow on the rain covered roadway might keep us from visiting my parents, but it didn’t. In the end, the calamity I expected to highjack our Christmas didn’t come.

We were able to spend the day with my parents, but did leave early as the temperatures dropped so we wouldn’t be driving the five miles to our house in the dark and possibly hit black ice.

My parents bought new bikes for both of the children, which was a total surprise for them. They will love riding the bikes as soon as their hands won’t freeze to the handle bars when they go outside. Winter had been mild to begin with but colder temps seem to be here to stay.

I think one of the more poignant moments of our Christmas break this year was when we listened to Linus’ speech on A Charlie Brown Christmas where he told everyone what Christmas is really about. In case you’ve forgotten, I found that clip on YouTube.

This past week we didn’t do much of anything at all other than a game night at my parents.

We will start school again tomorrow with some new curriculum for both kids, but especially Little Miss who will start a new Kindergarten curriculum. In some educational areas she is beyond Kindergarten curriculum and in others she almost beyond it or way beyond it. Verbally and cognitively she’s at a sixth grade level or beyond, so most days it’s like living with a 6-year old going on 16-year old.

She has some issues with her letters but over the break she seemed to be getting a lot better at recognizing her letters by typing out what she wanted to name things in Minecraft. Who says video games can’t be educational? But all of that school stuff is something I’ll have to ramble about in a future Homeschool update post, which I have already started drafting.

So that’s my weekly (but actually two week) review. What have you been up to lately? Let me know in the comments.

The Path

Written by my dad, R.G.R. Any typos are his and I just left them in *wink*. Merry Christmas to my blog readers.

   It was the path to the home of the sweetest people I knew. The path was out the door, across the lawn and down over a steep bank; Then I would go across the road and down the next short bank to open the cow gate and go katy-corner across the barn yard to the lane. From there on, it was about a hundred yards down the lane to the wooded pasture and down to the creek I would go. The stepping stones in the  creek were  the  fun and challenging part .

Then to angle up the creek bank steps, go across one of the  few flat spots in Laddsburg country to the train tracks  ( railroad); first was to either climb over or go through the hole in the railroad fence and along 4 spare sections of rails stored on concrete pillars. The same ones remained there for many years, The train ran once a day out through Dushore PA  and back.  There was no more passenger car of  yesteryears but, I remember the half  dozen or more coal cars and gondola cars loaded with coal from the Sullivan County Bernice coal mines, a few box cars and a caboose. Once I do recall two locomotives steaming  up through the valley on the same day.

So, it was over the tracks and through a brushy area, 100 feet around the edge of  a  field and across the drainage ditch. It was as you have read, an up and down zigzagging little journey. From the ditch, it was a short straight way to the back porch of the sweetest people I knew, Grandma and Grandad Grant, Eben and Grace. It was Grandma when I was  around the age of 6 that showed me the path, and by 8 or 9 I traveled it alone and did so for many years between the house I now live in and the Grant home where also my wife and I later lived, and where our children grew up. I was no longer able to keep the Grant home and sold it a year ago . It was a sad day.

          Grandmother was a gracious, perky, down to earth lady. She was very frugal. She had no choice. Granddad, who had been a carpenter  was calm in manner, kind in all his ways and a fountain of history and wisdom. I stopped by at the age of 17 to say goodbye when I was leaving to join the US Air Force. Standing in front of the Grant House he said to me “You will go through this life alone” ; And I became a man. He lived by the Grant Clan motto “Stand Fast Grant”. I knew him well, and I am thinking at this moment about the life he lived and things that broke his heart.

If I could speak to him now, I would say ” Grandad, I love you, Jesus loves you ; You need not walk the path alone. Jesus will show you the path of life; In his presence is fullness of joy; At His right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The choice to walk the path with Jesus is ours alone to make. We need not walk “the path “alone. 

R.G.R.

Words of wisdom for today from C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis wrote this in 1948 about the atomic bomb but he very well could have written it today in the age of coronavirus. In my mind I have inserted the word coronavirus in place of atomic bomb and it works about the same.

On Living In An Atomic Age in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

Sunday Bookends: Special Christmas Music, Christmas books, and More Snow

Welcome to another Sunday Bookends where I share what I’m reading, watching, writing, eating, seeing, smelling — no, wait. Only what I’m reading, watching, writing, sometimes what I’m listening to and a little about what we’ve been up to. Feel free to let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments.

What I’m Reading

I am reading A Christmas Carol with my son for school (we will be reading Lord of the Flies and To Kill A Mockingbird next semester and already read another classic – Silas Marner.)

I’m also enjoying a slow read through Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon and Maggie by Charles Martin, but will take a break from them this week to read A Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon because it has a sweet Christmas theme.

What I’m Watching/Have Watched

I watched a really stupid, cringe-worthy movie on Amazon prime that I had to fast forward through part of because the acting was pretty bad but then also cried through – and not because the acting was bad.

It was called Holiday Switch and the whole premise was that this woman was unhappy with her life with her poor husband and kids and when she runs into her rich ex-boyfriend, she wonders what her life would have been like if she married him instead. She bumps her head and crawls in a — hang in here with me — a dryer and comes out in an alternate life where she would have been married to the ex-boyfriend instead of the current husband. Long story short, she discovers life with the boyfriend wouldn’t have turned out like she had hoped, even with all that extra money. While in the “other life” she runs into her real life husband and children and falls apart at the idea that the don’t know her and her real husband is married to another woman.

I’m sure my having a sinus headache and being very tired had nothing to do with me crying while this poor woman cried, thinking about how awful my life would be if I didn’t have my family (kids and husband) and holding my kids in vice grips while I sobbed into their hair. They were so bewildered, poor things.

“I love you too, Mom,” The Boy said, adding quickly to ruin the mood, as he always does, “The cat scratched my nipple last night.”

With that mood ruined, I sent him off to do the schoolwork he’d skipped doing when I gave the kids a snow day on Thursday (more about that later).

Sunday night we watched a livestream of The Chosen Christmas Special on Youtube. It’s still available on Youtube but it will also be shown on some Christian cable networks on Christmas and Christmas Eve. It will also be on TBN on Christmas at 8:00 PT/9pm MT/10pm CT/11pm ET and on UPtv: December 24th @ 4:30pm PT/5:30pm MT/6:30pm CT/ 7:30pm ET.

You can still watch the livestream on Youtube and I highly recommend it and staying until they show The Shepherd, which was a short film Dallas Jenkins (writer and director of The Chosen) made for his church, before he made the series. Season 2 of The Chosen is supposed to start airing sometime around Easter, I believe.

This upcoming week we will watch The Man Who Invented Christmas, which is a movie about Charles Dicken’s and how he created A Christmas Carol. It’s a fun movie that I am sure ‘takes liberties’ with the real story, but is more entertaining than seeing yet another retelling of the story. We are watching it because my son is reading A Christmas Carol for English and is scheduled to finish it this week. He’s cheating some by listening a reading of it and earlier in the week he tried to do that while playing a game on the Playstation. I have informed him that’s not how school works and he can play games after his work is done. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.

What’s Been Occurring

As I mentioned yesterday in my Photos of the Week post, we had 24 inches of snow dumped on us Wednesday into Thursday. We spent the rest of the week digging out. Or I should say, my husband spent the rest of the week digging out. I really didn’t help at all other than making a couple lunches and dinners and cheering him on. Towns about 40 minutes north of us ended up with between 3 and 4 feet of snow.

I shared the majority of the photos yesterday, but will share a few here as well .

One adventure I didn’t mention yesterday was that one of our neighbors actually tipped her car over the embankment leading to their house during the beginning of the storm. It was almost completely tipped on it’s side. My neighbors and I watched in horror as her car slid sideways, (slowly thankfully) and ended up on it’s side and she had to be lifted from the car through the passenger side door. My neighbors had been on their way to help her get unstuck from the snow next to the long driveway and I was looking out the window, getting ready to head out to see how I could help (which would have been very little, I imagine), which is how we watched it all unfold.

It was surreal to see a car of that size and weight move like a matchbox car and tip over. Thankfully she was fine, the car was able to be pulled upright about a half an hour later, and all ended well. I did not take photos of the incident, even though I was sorely tempted since I had never seen a car end up tipped like that without completely tipping over.

This is our first winter at our new house, but I grew up a few miles from the town we now live in so I’m used to the heavier snow the county we now live in can get. This area had not had two feet of snow dumped on it during one storm in quite a while, though, so the neighbors assured us this isn’t the norm for our little hill. I asked my neighbor, “Are you ready for the snow?”

He said he was but when I said, “This is our first snowstorm up here. I’m sure it will be fine,” he looked a little worried and said, “Well, two feet is a lot of snow.”

At that point the Weather Service was telling us we could get anywhere from 8 to 20 inches, so they didn’t even seem to know what to expect.

My neighbor’s apparent lack of confidence that the storm wouldn’t be so bad made me a little nervous, but we still tried to anticipate the storm with some sense of wonder and excitement. We had worried we would lose power (aka WiFi!) but somehow we didn’t. We live in a more rural area than we had for the last 18 years and while digging out of snow can be a downside, we still love our new house, our new neighbors, and are glad we made the move.

We’re even glad we made the move when we are chasing our six month old kitten out through two feet of snow (three foot snow drifts in some places) or digging our happy puppy out a spot in the backyard where she can use the bathroom.

This upcoming week we might get some more nasty weather on Christmas Eve and Christmas day but not 2 feet. That we know of anyhow.

We don’t have anything too exciting planned for the week. There will be three days of school for the kids before a week long break, making sausage balls with my mom one day (in memory of my aunt Dianne), making homemade pizzas on Christmas Eve, and then spending Christmas with my parents.

What I’m Writing

I will not be writing as many blog posts in the upcoming weeks as I have lately. Posting a blog post a day for a week was a personal challenge, but I don’t have as much to write about this next week (lucky for all of you, huh?!).

I’m still working on editing The Farmer’s Daughter and am starting a couple of other stories that are connected to The Tanner’s story.

On the blog last week I wrote a lot (too much), but couple of them I didn’t write myself:

Photos of the Week (our first little snowstorm)

Victorian Reading Challenge

Want A Way to Delete Your Facebook And Never Look Back?

My Grandfather’s Pipe (written by my husband) (By the way, he says ‘thank you’ to all those who commented on it. He doesn’t always hear feedback on his columns unless a reader disagrees with him and wants to complain.)

Fiction Friday: The Secrets We Hold

Photos of the Week: Now That’s a Lot of Snow ( I had two Photos of the Week because I am moving Photos of the Week to Saturday. I think. Maybe. We’ll see.)

So that was my week in review, what was your week like? Let me know in the comments and if I don’t talk to you again before the end of the week, have a Merry Christmas!