Educationally Speaking: Homeschool update. On our way to summer break and taking a more relaxed approach to learning

We are on our last month of homeschooling before summer break and to say we all have summer brain is an understatement. Not even the teacher is focused all the way in on school right now. Because of our lack of focus, I have decided to dial down the strict workbook and textbook-heavy subjects for this month, but we will still be doing them twice a week.

I got to mid-April and realized I hadn’t focused as much on the arts as I need to in order to meet the requirements for the state we are in so I decided we would make May an art month. That means more lessons on artists (Monet, Cezanne, Picasso) and musicians (composers like Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart) throughout our week and fewer lessons on math, science, and history. We will still be doing those last three subjects, just not every day.

This is a relief for Little Miss who is so dramatic when I tell her it is time for her math lesson. You would think I would have told her it is time to clean the toilets at a frat house.

She often runs and hides, pulling a blanket over her head in a homemade fort she made by turning our couch to face the wall and hanging the veil-like curtains across it.

Once she sits down and does it, however, she really doesn’t have any major issues with doing the math.

She isn’t a fan of having to write letters either so that has also been a struggle this past year. I need this summer break as much as her.

However, I have told her she will need to do some math during the summer so that she doesn’t have to jump back into it cold in August when we start up again. I’m also considering starting school a month early this year. This will allow us to take more breaks throughout the school year at times when we feel beat down by the mundane routine of daily lessons.

I have been the most relaxed about homeschooling this year than in any previous year. I have finally started to accept that homeschooling is not simply school at home. It is not bringing the traditional idea of public school into your home.

We homeschool so we can break away from a system we do not feel is conducive with the need for children to be free to focus on their passions and to learn at their own pace. Homeschooling parents bring their children home to learn for a variety of reasons, but at the core of it is that the child is not thriving or might not thrive in the traditional environment.

For us, homeschooling has offered more opportunities for learning beyond the scope of a daily lesson. It has allowed us to take a subject my child is interested in and explore it beyond one moment in time in their education. It has also allowed us to go visit or go help my parents whenever is needed, which has been invaluable to us, especially to my son who is very close to his grandfather.

Resting on my newfound acceptance that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like a traditional public school day, we started taking a much more relaxed approach to our homeschool days sometime in March. We did math and reading lessons, but history was reading historical fiction and watching videos and then simply talking about history. Math was lessons in our book but also on ABC Mouse for the youngest. The oldest does his math online so there wasn’t much of a change for him. Reading or English has been some actual lessons about parts of speech and grammar but it has also been simply reading books out loud to each other, discussing hard words when we get to them or discussing what we read.

I read a post on Facebook recently by … that reminded homeschooling parents that homeschooling can happen at any time of the day. She wrote that you don’t have to read to your child only during the day and count that as a time of learning. Read-aloud sessions can happen at night before bed while waiting in the car, or pretty much anywhere at any time.

Life lessons and skills can be taught throughout the day.

Homeschool is a 24/7 type of education that doesn’t require a desk or a book or four walls around a child. It is a constant flow of information and knowledge that can come through the everyday journey of life.

With all that being said, yesterday Little Miss and I watched videos about Mozart while she made slime. We read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle before bed for our English reading.

Today we have a homeschool gathering at the local library.

Tomorrow we will be painting in the style of Monet while watching videos about him and the other impressionists or while listening to Mozart. We will also probably read some from The Cabin Faced West for history and do a math lesson or simply go on ABC Mouse and have her play some games there related to what we’ve been learning in Math.

The Boy will be reading Fellowship of the Ring and working on a research project and also preparing some Minecraft creations for the art requirements under the homeschool guidelines for our state. Then he will go to work as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, which I see as another educational opportunity and an activity that fits in well with homeschooling.

Later in the week, we will be watching art history videos, and videos about famous composers, and I will be encouraging him to continue bass lessons at home since we are taking a month off from his formal bass lessons (which were 45 minutes away and a bit expensive for us this month).

This month, both The Boy and Little Miss will also be studying music from a book I ordered that is set to arrive today.

I am absolutely loving this freestyle type of learning that incorporates music and the arts into our academic lessons. It’s something I plan to do more of during our next school year.  

Sunday Bookends: Juggling books with my mood and tours, smells (good and bad) returning, and playing in water

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I had to abandon my plans from last week when I realized I had a couple books I agreed to read for blog tours. Luckily I have a little bit of time before the reviews need to be up, but I never know what each week is going to bring so I figured I’d better start them.

I am reading an indie book by Milla Holt called Into the Flood, which is a Christian romance. I’ll share a little bit more about it after I finish it and post a review, but it is available for sale at this time.

A description:

One mistake imploded Sonia Krogstad’s PR career, leaving her with a stack of debt and no job prospects. Out of options, she returns to her tiny hometown in the northern wilds of Norway, planning only to stay long enough to get back on her feet and prepare for her big-city comeback.

Reclusive tech genius Axel Vikhammer bought a non-profit community arts center that’s fast becoming a money pit. Closing it down is not an option, especially since it’s a refuge for the teenage daughter he only recently learned he has. With her PR background, Sonia seems the perfect hire for the job as his center’s fundraising manager.

Yet as feelings develop between the two, Axel wonders how he can trust Sonia with his business—or his heart—when her dreams don’t include his small town or him.

With her head and her heart pulling her in different directions, Sonia needs to take a leap of faith. But every time she’s done that in the past, she’s fallen flat on her face. Why should it be different now?

I’m also reading Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins. It is the second book in the Dead Sea Chronicles, but I didn’t realize that when I signed up for the tour. So far I am able to follow along without reading the first book. This is the first book I’ve read by Jenkins, who co-wrote the Left Behind series and is all the father of Dallas Jenkins who is writing and directing The Chosen series.

A description:

Nicole Berman is an archaeologist on the brink of a world-changing discovery. Preparing for her first dig in Jordan, she believes she has found concrete evidence of a biblical patriarch that could change history books forever. But someone doesn’t want the truth revealed. While urgently trying to connect pieces of an ancient puzzle, a dangerous enemy is out to stop her.

I’m switching between the two books and since I have a couple weeks before Dead Sea Rising needs to be finished, I am reading A Breath of French Air, the second book in the Pop Larkins series by H.E. Bates before bed each night because it’s very light and fun.

Little Miss and I are reading Ramona and Her Mom by Beverly Cleary.

The Husband is reading Noir by Christopher Moore.

The Boy is still reading War of the Worlds by HG Welles.

What’s Been Occurring

I had mentioned a few times in the last nine months, since the dreaded virus, that my smell has either remained dulled or distorted, sometimes to the point of making me physically ill. My taste had also been off and still is for some things. For the longest time most meats, anything with garlic, and many other foods tasted rancid or like burnt rubber. I don’t know how else to explain it. Also, like sweaty feet smell, if that makes any sense. There are still times that chicken, especially with skin, garlic, and tomatoes don’t taste right. This summer has also been rough because watermelon doesn’t taste sweet any longer. It tastes like squash in a way. Strawberries sometimes taste like strawberries and sometimes have what I, and others who have had their smell and taste effected by the virus, call The Covid Taste/Smell.

As for smell, things that still have the Covid Smell are sweat (sorry), gasoline, propane, chemicals, and sometimes … um…poop (like cat and dog).

This week, though, I noticed I was smelling things I couldn’t smell at all before. For the last nine months smells have been muted or I haven’t noticed them much. When someone says “oh that smells good” I say, “can’t smell it.” Of course, I had sinus issues before the dreaded virus as well, and that had also dulled my smell.

Late in the week, when I walked outside with my daughter and walked between our pine tree bushes I suddenly realized I could smell pine. A couple of days later I could smell — excuse me for sharing, but dog poop in our yard. It didn’t smell like Covid, it smelled like poop. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rejoice for that or not.

For most of my life, smells that don’t bother other people, bother me. Like perfumes or air freshners. I get headaches and sometimes my chest tightens. That hasn’t been common the last nine months but The Husband sprayed some Febreeze and it was overwhelming. I could actually smell it. Again, I don’t know if I want to rejoice that I can smell smells which bother me, but it is nice to be able to smell pine trees and freshly cut grass again.

Little Miss and I went swimming again this week at my parents. We also grocery shopped again, which I always dread and hate. Grocery shopping went wonderful but then I got to my van, which has issues with its locks and its key fobs and I accidentally locked it while trying to open the back hatch. When I went to open the hatch it was locked, as was the rest of the van. This left me standing in the parking lot with Little Miss and a cart full of groceries but no way to get home. To cut a too long story already short, I called The Husband, who called our insurance company to have someone come open it. Our insurance company apparently stinks because they called someone a half an hour away. The Husband came and traded cars with us and waited for the locksmith (or whatever he is called) and I drove home wondering why I can’t buy groceries without something weird happening.

The day before we picked up groceries, we visited our neighbor who broke her ankle a few weeks ago and is still laid up from it after spending some time in the hospital and a rehabilitation center. Our kitten walked with us to her house and when we came out after the visit, she was waiting for us and walked back home with us. Our neighbor is about five houses from ours. Our animals crack us up and I also think it is sweet that the cats, who sometimes seem like they couldn’t care less about us, apparently do.

Yesterday The Husband and The Boy borrowed my dad’s truck and picked up some firewood to help us prepare for this winter and hopefully cut down on our heating bill since we are currently struggling to pay the one we just received.

Earlier in the week, the kids had fun on the Slip N Slide and yesterday Little Miss had fun running through the sprinkler.

What We watched/are Watching

I did not watch as many movies last week, partially because I tried to read more and also because I was outside so much with Little Miss and grocery shopping and all that kind of stuff that I just didn’t have time to sit down and watch an entire movie. Not until The Boy and I watched Gladiator, which we started Thursday and finished Friday. I hadn’t seen it in years and forgot how good it was.

Last night, The Husband and I watched a Poirot movie, Murder on the Links.

This week I am returning to the Summer of Paul with a list of Paul Newman movies I hope to get through before the end of August.

What I’m Writing

I am working on Mercy’s Shore, The Shores of Mercy, whatever I’m going to call it, but this week I forgot to post Chapter 13 on Friday. I am going to make up for it this week by posting Chapter 13 on Thursday and Chapter 14 on Friday.

I guess my brain was mush from all the little weird things that seemed to happen Friday and how busy we were playing outside during the week.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening to

Matthew West. I don’t know if I have praised him enough on this blog, but his songs are so uplifting, so encouraging and help soothe my spirit on the most anxious days. On the days where I am really shook up and worried I turn his songs on, especially the ones on his greatest hits album. Those songs, the lyrics, all of it, help me so much.

The album is Brand New, and I really encourage you to check it out via whatever music listening service you listen to.

This song is not on that album, but it is Matthew’s latest:

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Winter’s last blast? Remembering family. Jane Seymour with a potty mouth?

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Friday and Saturday we remembered a couple of people in our family. Friday was the tenth anniversary of the day my husband’s grandfather passed away. He was a good man and we miss him and my husband’s grandmother very much.

Yesterday was my Aunt Dianne’s birthday so Mom and I plan to make sausage balls in her memory today because she loved to make them every year for Christmas. I tried to make them for Christmas this year, but I didn’t do such a great job. I think the key might be to not make them with gluten-free Bisquick, even though that means I can’t eat them, since I can not eat the corn in the Bisquick.

I don’t actually like remembering people on the day they died. I like to remember them the way they lived and when I picture Grandpa, I picture him smiling like he was on the day of our wedding. I picture my aunt with smiles as well and I hope they are in heaven together now smiling as they wait for us to meet them someday.

I mentioned in a post last week that we had unexpected snow in the beginning of the week. Our town received about nine inches of very heavy snow which left trees broken, wires down from the weight of the trees and snow, and more than 13,000 people out of power.

Our local power company posted these photos of what they had to deal with to get to the lines they needed to fix:

I took a few photographs, but, honestly, I’m so over winter weather, I wasn’t interested in photographs of snow. I did take a few of the kids when The Boy decided to run out and build a snow Batman.

Luckily the snow melted a day or so later. Little Miss enjoyed sitting in the grass with the snow surrounding her. The grass was left from The Boy shoveling a path for the dog the first day after the storm.

Today the temperature is supposed to be almost 80 with a drop into the 40s later in the week. Yes, my sinuses are suffering.

What I’m Reading

Last week I finished Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle, a cozy Southern mystery written by Ann B. Ross.

I also finished a book by indie Christian Historical Fiction author Jenny Knipfer, which she plans to release this summer. She had asked members of her group if they would help her proof it, in addition to her editor. I will be starting an ARC of a novella by her, Violet’s Vow, this week or next as well.

I started Open Season by C.J. Box so I would have something a little different up on the reading block. The book is the first book in the Joe Picket series. This is my first crack at one of his books. We will see how it goes since it isn’t something I usually read.

Depending on my mood I may move to The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot. I am also still reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain here and there before bed.

Little Miss and I will be finishing Plum Creek this weekend and hopefully moving on to a book other than one by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The husband is reading Slow Horse by Mick Herron.

The Boy may finish Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sometime before the end of the century at this point, but I’m not holding out much hope.

What I’m/We’re Watching

We tried out Harry Wild, a new mystery show with Jane Seymour this week. Dr. Quinn has a wee bit of a potty mouth in this one, but we still enjoyed the premise and her acting. I told my parents she was in a new show we are watching. I said, “She’s looking pretty good for 71.” My dad said, “Oh, really, what’s that show on?”

My mom said I didn’t need to tell him.

I started rewatching As Time Goes By, one of my favorite British sitcom to try to get me through some of the down moments of the week.

I also spent way too much time watching the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial. Don’t ask why. I have no idea, other than it was a distraction from the rest of the craziness of the world. What I learned from all of that mess is that hurt people hurt people and Hollywood actors are some seriously messed up people. I also think Amber Heard is vindictive and nuts and Johnny Depp medicates his emotional pain way too much.

What I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to comedians like Chonda Pierce lately and then some worship music.

What I’m Writing

During the week I worked on Mercy’s Shore, the next book in my series.

Now It is Your Turn

What have you been reading, watching, listening to, or doing? Let me know in the comments.

Realizing TobyMac’s music has been like a soundtrack to my life

I ended up in a TobyMac YouTube spiral Sunday and it was amazing. It was the most relaxed and at home I had felt in awhile. It fit in perfectly with my social media detox (full disclosure – I have popped on Facebook once or twice to ask a couple questions in groups I am in and I went on Instagram to apologize to two authors for not yet reviewing their books after they had agreed to review mine. I have not, however “scrolled” any timelines and that’s been so refreshing! Oh wait – I briefly scrolled my dad’s timeline while I was eating some lunch at their house but was so horrified with the nastiness there I quickly remembered my detox and closed the iPad cover.)

Back to the real reason for this blog post: For those of you who don’t know who TobyMac is, he is a Christian rapper/singer/musician who originally started out with the Christian rockish/rap/pop band D.C. Talk.

As I listened to all those TobyMac songs Sunday a thought hit me – Toby’s music has been the soundtrack of my life since junior high school. His music has been there through the highs and the lows. It’s lifted me when I’ve been down or kept me up when I was already joyful.

I first discovered Toby around 1990 DC Talk and the album Nu Thang. I picked it up (a cassette! Gasp!) at the Christian bookstore at the local mall (two things we don’t have many of anymore) and popped it into my walkman (yes, I am that old). I listened to it the entire hour and a half drive back to our house (yes, we lived that far away from a mall). I ended up being able to catch DC Talk in concert with Michael W. Smith in Hershey, Pa. a year or so later. We were behind the stage and everything was pretty loud, but it was still a cool experience.

I was able to see DC Talk again at Creation, a Christian music festival in Pennsylvania, somewhere around 1995 when their album Jesus Freak came out.

Eventually the band took an extended hiatus and during that time TobyMac started a successful solo career. I have picked up everyone of his albums and I have liked almost every song on every single one of those albums. You know how you sometimes by an album and you think “I like all these songs except … that one.” Well, with Toby I don’t have a “that one.”

Last year his fans mourned with him when his oldest son, Truett, passed away due to a drug overdose. His son had been appearing on his albums in short vignettes or even songs since TruDog (his nickname) was about three years old. We fans were very familiar with him and in some odd way we felt like he was part of our family too.

He was 21 when he died, another victim of drug abuse in this country, which I know broke Toby’s heart. He tried so hard to bring his son back into the fold of his earthly family and the fold of Christ’s family. His broken heart was even more evident in a song he released after Truet’s funeral and in a song called The Real You that he released in an album called The Lost Demos this summer. He wrote The Real You for Truett before he died.

Most of Toby’s music is uplifting and upbeat and definitely energetic, even when he’s dealing with tough subjects.

Because I think you need to hear some positive music right now, I’m sharing some of my favorite TobyMac songs for you to listen to. Just click on one song and Youtube will do the rest and send you down a fun, spiraling path of his music. Maybe you need an encouraging word this week or maybe you simply need a song with a good beat. Either way, Toby has it for you.

*Disclaimer: I have not been compensated by TobyMac or anyone from his management. This post was written of my own free will. *wink* However, if anyone from Toby’s team ever sees this post and wants to send me some merch, I’ll take a couple T-shirt’s, one of Toby’s cool hats for my son and a pair of his cool sunglasses for me. Ha!

Remembering Truett

I have been listening to TobyMac in one form or another since the early 1990s.

His son Truett was on a couple of his albums and when I heard Truett had died recently, I was completely shocked, as many TobyMac fans were. I still don’t know the details around Truett’s death, but I can’t imagine the pain Toby is in. He released a song about his struggles dealing with his oldest son’s death this week. I thought I’d share it here and follow it with a couple of happier songs from TobyMac, in case you aren’t familiar with him.

Toby is part of the Christian rock group DC Talk, which was huge in the 2000s and then when the band parted ways, he started his own solo career.

And some old school for ya’…