Cohutta Springs Paintball Camp

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Our son chose to attend the paintball camp at Cohutta this year. So far, he has gone there eight times, we think. He started going when he was 7, but missed a couple of years because of the pandemic and then one year he just did not want to go.

Mom and teenage son at Cohutta

My son and I at Cohutta Springs this morning

This year, he decided to try not a regular camp, where they rotate through different activitie, but a rad camp. A rad camp at Cohutta specializes in only one thing, which you choose. It could be wake boarding, arts and crafts, wilderness survival, paintball, you name it. Continue reading »

Forest Bathing

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If you have never heard of forest bathing, you should probably look into it. We humans living in the Western Hemisphere, spending most of our day indoors, in front of a screen for legitimate work, are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder. The solution? Spending time in a forest, also known as forest bathing.

Teenage boy on a river rock

My son sunbathing on a river rock, Old Sugarland Trail

While simply hiking will bring you physical benefits, it also helps with your mental state. Forest bathing implies that you engage all your senses while in the forest: you see trees and plants and animals and birds. You hear squirrels scuttling nearby or birds singing. Or you can touch different tree bark textures or run your hand through a rushing mountain river. And, naturally, you can breathe in amazingly clean air and absorb the sunshine. Continue reading »

TeenPact NatCon

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Our son just returned from a week in Cleveland, TN where he participated in TeenPact NatCon. The National Conference for TeenPact, this camp prepares teenagers to become leaders and to understand the political process, while strengthening their Christian worldview.

TeenPact NatCon Audience

TeenPact NatCon Audience

This conference brings together 1,000 homeschoolers from 50 states and it happens only two hours away from our house. So many have to fly in or drive for umpteen hours to get here.

For the past eight years, our children have attended the TeenPact State Class in Nashville. Our son wanted to participate in the National Conference but our daughter did not show an interest. Continue reading »

Summer Break Goals

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Without a vision, the people perish. Unless we write down the vision, the goals we have for our homeschool, we will not accomplish them. So I hope you are writing down your goals for every school year and every school break you have.

Teenagers at Cumberland Gap National Park

My children having fun with a sign which said “trail” twice, at Cumberland Gap National Park

Here are some of our goals for the summer:

  • we finish the US History curriculum;
  • we work through a few lessons in Algebra II, which should be done
  • harp lessons continue
  • children work at dad’s business as needed (Zoder’s Inn and Suites)
  • children work at mom’s business as needed (Smoky Mountain Soaps, LLC)
  • son attends two camps (TeenPact NatCon and Cohutta Springs)
  • daughter attends one camp (Cohutta Springs)
  • children read five books (mom chooses one title)
  • we reorganize the garage
  • one camping trip
  • one trip to Romania
  • weekly hikes

Continue reading »

11 Years of Homeschooling

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And that’s a wrap on this school year, my friends – our 11th year homeschooling. Speaking of a wrap, it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that my youngest just finished 8th grade. My oldest just finished 10th grade and in just a few months, in the fall, he will take the PSAT.

Cumberland Gap National Park

My two children on an overlook near Cumberland Gap National Park

You have to understand something: the PSAT represents the Holy Grail of my long-term planning this whole homeschool adventure. When my children were preschoolers, I read in the local newspaper about the National Merit Scholarship and thought, “THAT! That’s what I want for my children.” Continue reading »

The Digital SAT

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As you might know, the SAT is now strictly digital. There is a software one must download called Bluebook, not to be confused with other blue books out there.


Bobcat at my house the other day, while we were preparing for the digital SAT

Bobcat walking in the grass

The College Board will give you more details about it on their website. I can tell you we are finding it easy to use and navigate, but everybody is different. Continue reading »

The Rossini Festival

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Our daughter has been taking harp lessons for almost two years and her teacher takes some of his students to a couple of events around town. One is the Valentine Day’s Harp Concert at the Maryville Public Library. The other is the Rossini Festival, the largest street festival in Knoxville, TN.

Teenage girl playing the harp

Our daughter playing the harp on the Union Ave stage during the 2024 Rossini Festival

Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating that day, but we made do. At least the rain stopped before we got to the stage. Continue reading »

Building Computers, Playing Harps

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My children are 16 and 14. They follow their own passions for most of the day, after we finish school essentials. When I hear complaints about public school, they usually go along the lines of, “It’s such a waste of time.” So true. Homeschooling surely is efficient, so it allows children time to study what they really want to focus on.

Teenager building a computer from scratch

My son, building a computer from scratch

For instance, my son decided to build a computer from scratch this semester. At co-op, he took a class in Computer Architecture and Design. Under the guidance of his teacher at co-op, my son worked on this project so diligently, he got an award for “Above and Beyond” from our co-op. My husband, who is very techy himself, helped guide our son with this project, as well. Continue reading »

The Last Month of the School Year

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For many of us, April represents the last month of the school year. Sure, we homeschool through the middle of May sometimes, depending on how the 36 weeks hit and where they begin. But, for sure, by the middle of April, we find ourselves facing the last month of the school year.

Teenage boy formal attire

My son at a recent formal event

There is a joke in our homeschool community that in August we all hit all sorts of goals and follow planning sheets. By April, the joke continues, we just tell our kids, “Read something.” Well, not quite. Continue reading »

So Much for Spring Break

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It is a good thing we took spring break last week, because we all got sick anyway. We drove to co-op on Monday feeling half back to normal, and we left earlier than usual. My son talked to his teachers and we just left. Gotta love spring allergies.

Gatlinburg sunset

The sunset at our house a few days ago

As we slowly recovered, we got a few more lessons done, but not much. This is one of the many examples where homeschooling has a clear advantage over institutionalized schooling. You do not need a permission slip to take a trip or a signature on a form which states you are ill and will take a few days off. Or whatever they do in school these days. I would not know.

Alum Cave Foggy Vista

Alum Cave Foggy Vista

Having said all that, I love that spring is finally here. We took a hike with our group the following week and things are looking up. All winter long, we did not get sick. I suppose we were due one illness for the season.