Courthouse Rock Hike

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Our first hike this year with the homeschooling group happened last week. The weather has been so uncooperative, that we barely had any hikes this year. And when there was a hike, we were either ill or doing Spelling Bee or some other activity that had already been planned.

Mom, daughter, son, waterfall

By the waterfall

This trail amazed us. Located only 25 minutes away from our house, in the National Park, it offers everything you might want in a trail. Some flat areas, some vertical terrain, views, boulders, creek, trees, wild flowers, everything. The weather felt like summer. I dressed in layers, which helped, but it shocked me how hot it got – 75F! Continue reading »


2022 Spelling Bee

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We finally had the BHEA Spelling Bee. BHEA stands for Blount Home Education Association. This was my second year coordinating the bee. The judges pick the words from the list we received from the National Spelling Bee Organization.

I have two children competing in the bee, but I do not know the words they will get from the judges. We prepare the entire list, 450 words. My job as a coordinator is to communicate with all the parents, give them the word list and the book list, and make sure we have a building, sponsors, goodie bags, prizes, judges, and that the Board stays informed.

The BHEA Board suggested we postpone it for a month, from January to February, so that the pandemic numbers could go down a bit more. We had quite a few people sick – judges, participants, parents. January just was not going to work out.

Spelling Bee Family

Our family before the bee

By the middle of February, everybody was healthy again. The COVID-19 numbers in our area have gone down so much, that the Board even decided to switch masks from being “required” to “recommended” for indoor activities. Continue reading »


Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Two weeks into February and the weather has warmed up considerably. We went from 26F to 62F in two days and it was a shock to my system. After dealing with flu-like symptoms for more than a week, the sore throat is back. The doctor says no antibiotics are needed. It’s just the weather.

So… more tea and home remedies and lots of rest. I am not complaining, but I would like more energy to accomplish everything on my list. Oh well. One cannot have everything in life. Continue reading »


Rescheduling Events

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We had to reschedule the Spelling Bee for February and TeenPact for March. January seems plagued with winter storms and COVID-19 outbreaks. So we learn to change the schedule and carry on.

Snow on shrub support

Snow in our backyard

Many years ago, I published a post about flexibility. One of my readers said, “Flexibility is easier said than done.” I totally agree. We packed and made plans for several weeks and, frankly, months, about TeenPact and the Spelling Bee. Continue reading »


Happy New Year 2022!

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This Christmas break and the beginning of the new calendar year 2022 have been rather emotional. Long story, but it’s the story of burnout, too. A lot of family details have pushed us together more than ever. I suppose it is part of the process as the children grow and we all change accordingly.

Relaxing by the fire

Relaxing by the fire

Burnout appeared among us back in October, but we kept it together through November and December. By the middle of December, when we took a break, I realized how much I needed to space out of my surroundings. So I escaped into books and on demand content I view online. Continue reading »


Christmas Program

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If your children take music lessons, at least twice a year they have recitals, programs, and concerts. Typically, in December and in May. The pandemic messed up that routine, of course. We have had to do Zoom recitals at home and skip going to nursing homes. But we kept on going with our lessons and did our best to monitor the progress of our children.

Strings

Playing in church with friends motivates children to practice.

One week before Christmas this year, the kids played violin to accompany our church’s choir for the beautiful “How Great Our Joy” by Craig Courtney. What a piece! Such a refreshing sound from the usual round of Christmas carols. It was only one piece, but a new experience to give them a taste of what it is like to accompany a choir. They enjoyed it and said they would like to do it again if called upon. Continue reading »


Institute for Excellence in Writing

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After three months of studying writing with Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), my children and I have decided this curriculum rocks. We decided this after three weeks, but I wanted to wait a few more months to blog about it. We got Level 1B, which is for grades 6-8. Since my daughter is in sixth grade and my son in eighth, it is perfect for us.

Puzzle

My daughter building puzzles – a metaphor for learning writing

You should know that Andrew Pudewa used to teach Suzuki violin. If you know anything about the Suzuki method, you know that it teaches step by step, in a very systematic way. Pudewa took the Suzuki method and applied it to IEW. This incremental approach to writing helps children and teens understand how to write. There will be no expectations beyond their ability. Continue reading »


Thanksgiving Break

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We only take three days off for Thanksgiving. For my nonAmerican readers, Thanksgiving always happens on a Thursday – the fourth Thursday of November. I cook a lot on Wednesday and Thursday, we have our family luncheon on Thursday, and then on Friday they decorate the Christmas tree. Thus commences the Christmas season at our house.

Thanksgiving Plate

Thanksgiving plate (clockwise): dressing, vegetarian turkey, cranberry salad, corn, green beans, potatoes, stuffed eggs, salad.

This year we had a cozy Thanksgiving, the four of us, and it was wonderfully relaxing. Besides, I came down with a bug the Sunday before, and spent Sunday-Wednesday in bed. No fever, no coughing, no sore throat, just a general fatigue that kept me in bed. So… the children took care of their own schooling on Monday and Tuesday. Continue reading »


Sam Houston Historic Schoolhouse

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Every year, Cedar Springs Homeschool Support Group organizes a Thanksgiving Feast at the Sam Houston Historic Schoolhouse in Maryville, TN. It happens on a Tuesday a few weeks before Thanksgiving, but the menu reflects the holiday. It starts us celebrating early.

Sam Houston Schoolhouse

Sam Houston Schoolhouse

The children get a tour of the schoolhouse, historical details on the life of Sam Houston, and demonstrations on how to make butter, candles, cornmeal etc. After the workshops, we have the meal, and then they play capture the flag. Some of the parents and coaches used to bring their children many years ago, so this tradition has been going on for years. Continue reading »


Meeting Ambleside Online Co-Founder

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Last week, I had the privilege of meeting one of the co-founders of Ambleside Online. Lynn Bruce worked with five other homeschool moms more than 20 years ago to put together a Charlotte Mason curriculum for homeschoolers. They fought in court to keep it free. Details, details, details. You don’t want to know. But trust me, the world of homeschooling curriculum creation can be as brutal as the business world.

Lynn Bruce

Lynn Bruce and I, at Seven Islands

By the way, have you seen the Ambleside Online website recently? It is new and improved. Totally worth a visit.

When my children were younger, we followed Charlotte Mason and principles, guidelines, and recommendations. Many evenings, I would go to Ambleside Online to get guidance and book titles for my children. Good times.

Continue reading »