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.


2024 Spring Break

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My children have spent Spring Break in Nashville for TeenPact for the past few years. They love TeenPact and they immediately want to sign up for next year’s camp. However, they feel tired by the end of the week.

Nashville Downtown

Downtown Nashville, on the way to TeenPact

Therefore, I decided to give them Spring Break the following week, when they are at home. They can pace themselves, relax, and only work on co-op homework plus music, exercise, and a hike. Continue reading »


Meigs Creek Hike

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Have you ever heard of The Sinks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? It is a splendid waterfall. Next to it, you can go on a spectacular hike called Meigs Creek.

The Sinks

The Sinks waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The kids and I joined our friends last week for a hike there. We crossed several creeks until we came to a wonderful lunch spot. After the picnic, we just hiked back to the parking lot. Continue reading »


Smoky Mountain Soaps, LLC

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Many of you know me as a homeschool mom and blogger. Some of you may have also read my books or my newspaper columns. Today I would like to introduce you to my business, Smoky Mountain Soaps, LLC. Don’t we all have a side hustle? What is yours? Please let me know in the comments.

I have always loved the idea of natural soap, cosmetics, and candles. A few years ago, I went from the idea to the making of it.

Smoky Mountain Soaps, LLC products

Some of our products: lavender soap, bath salts, and oatmeal soap

You see, my grandmother used to make lye soap in the 60s and 70s. I grew up knowing that soap making is not just something that happens in a factory. We used grandma’s soap when I was growing up.

Then I got to be in my 40s and experienced all sorts of allergies, including on my skin. I changed my diet and looked for handcrafted soap. At some point, I felt impressed to learn how to make my own soap. After all, how hard can it be, right? Continue reading »


Valentine’s Day Harp Concert

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Our daughter has taken harp lessons for a year and a half. Every year, her teacher invites several of his students to the Blount County Public Library around Valentine’s Day, to perform in front of about 200 people.

A girl and a harp

Our daughter played on a Wurlitzer harp from the 1930s, on loan from her teacher.

This yearly concert started almost twenty years ago as the brainchild of Bill Robinson, a violinist and retired orchestra director from Maryville. Continue reading »


Rise and Grind

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Recently, I visited a business in Sevierville and saw a cute sign next to their coffee machine. It read, “Rise and Grind.” Witty, right?

Rise and Grind

Just do it. Rise and grind and homeschool. Rinse. Repeat.

This is the time of the year when homeschooling feels like a grind. We are still hibernating, so energy levels are low. Motivation to grind daily in math is low, too. The beautiful thing about homeschooling? We have the flexibility to let the children follow their interests. Continue reading »


New Semester

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The beginning of another calendar year only means one thing for a homeschool mom: the beginning of the second semester. The weather has kept us inside and so we have been working on our books, but we also made it out once for a hike.

Teenager at Panther Creek State Park

My son at Panther Creek State Park

With so many events canceled, we simply took this new schedule and made the best of it. The kids must learn flexibility at some point or other. Continue reading »


Book 50 of 50 – How to Grill Everything

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Marc Bittman and I go back about two decades. As a newly engaged young lady, I was walking through Michaels with my fiance, looking for wedding favor ideas and other fun things. In a $5 bin, I found Marc Bittman’s classic How to Cook Everything (affiliate link) and bought it. It served me well because I was learning how to cook with eggs and cheese. Previously, I only knew how to cook everything vegan.

How To Grill Everything by Marc Bittman

Great for anybody who wants to master the grill

As I learned who Bittman was – the food editor of the New York Times – and how he wrote an entire series on “how to cook everything” – I grew very impressed with his cooking methods and presentation style. Come to find out, he supports vegetarianism and wrote “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” (affiliate link) as part of his series. Of course, I bought that title, too. Continue reading »


Book 49 of 50 – Baking with Mary Berry

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The Princess of Wales lead me to Mary Berry because I saw a clip of the both of them baking together. As I researched who Mary Berry was, I learned they call her the Queen of British Baking.

Baking with Mary Berry

My copy, purchased from McKay’s, a used bookstore in Knoxville, for $8

Next thing I knew, in one of my visits to a bookstore, I spotted a cookbook by Mary Berry. When you open yourself up to a certain concept, the road veers  and steers you in the right direction for the next step. You just have to take the first step. Providence will supply the next and the next. Continue reading »