Back at it!

After our first “vacation” last week for Oldest Child’s birthday, we are now starting week 6 of the school year. We have, of course, changed gears for both math and language arts–because after 7+ years of homeschooling, I cannot possibly be expected to choose curriculum that will actually work for us. That’d be outrageous!

So yes. We switched math programs for the 8th grader on day . . . 2? . . . and then decided that it’s high time this writer mama take the reins and “create” a language arts program that suits us. We’ve never used a language arts curriculum for more than a single year before switching to something else, though there have been times we’ve gone back to one that was abandoned for Oldest Child in order to try it out for Younger Child. I knew when I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a writer and both of these little chickies are following in my footsteps, writing their own short stories and books, so constantly forcing them to underline predicates was slowly chipping away at their interest. Or not so slowly, as it were.

Alas. We jumped ship. We’re using more of a “writer’s workshop” style, with weekly writing assignments of varying types (week 1: pick a style of poetry, week 2: non-fiction writing, week 3: creative writing, week 4: back to non-fiction). Both kids were a little nervous about it, but so far they have risen to the challenge and done beautifully. Seeing them excited about what they’re working on and applying themselves to improving their work has been rewarding enough to make the trouble of buying and then selling unused curriculum well worth it.

We’ve also instituted Documentary Day on Fridays, which traditionally we take off from “sit down” schoolwork. The kids each have to pick a science and/or history documentary or program to watch–and that freedom has led to exploring interests they didn’t even know they had! I’m loving it because it makes our days off still feel at least somewhat educational.

I don’t know how it can possibly be week 6 already, but I have a feeling this bizarro year is going to fly by. Here’s to enjoying new adventures, exploring new interests, and embracing the freedom that we’ve stumbled upon this year!


Our first week back to schoolwork included many very exciting and lively debates, such as:

  • Should “Jan” in this particular math problem be pronounced like the Brady bunch chick or like “Yan” instead?
  • Does watching “Prince Caspian” count as literature studies?
  • Can “Summer Hits of the 90s” be our new schoolwork music station, or is it too distracting when Mama starts rocking out in the middle of answering questions?
  • Why doesn’t Alexa understand why my 8th grader wants to listen to sea shanties during schoolwork?

Alas, we survived our first week with only the barest hint of a meltdown as we figured out our new schedule–without any official “computer work” this year, I quickly realized that having both kids at the table at the same time working on different things might not be our best bet, especially given the older child’s inability to ever. stop. talking. We also made it to day 2 before deciding to switch a math curriculum for one child, which is a significant success when you compare it to the 3 minutes it took last year on the first day of school before changing our minds. Huzzah.

The real highlight of the week was a trip to an outdoor archery range. Of course, the subsequent discussion over whether the children like this as an Olympic sport or a skill to use while working at a Renaissance faire might have lowered our expectations somewhat, but hey. I’ll take what we can get and in the meantime, we can look like super cool, super nerdy homeschoolers while we’re at it.




Eternally Optimistic Slacker

Will we get our act together and start tomorrow? Or will I turn out to be a total slacker for yet another week? Place your bets, folks!

I’ve been saying “we’re starting schoolwork next week!” for approximately four months now. As you might have guessed, we have not started. Motivation has been running pretty low around here these days, but the children have been getting along and keeping themselves busy, so my usual criteria of “we are starting schoolwork if you’re going to be jerks to each other” hasn’t really come into play. Still, we haven’t taken a summer off since the year my oldest forgot how to add when fall rolled around, so I’m a little nervous about our prospects.

Most years, we take a little vacation during Labor Day week, which usually includes my oldest’s birthday. Some years we go away, some years we stay home and do all the fun stuff that’s completely dead because kids have gone back to school (hello, beach to ourselves!). We were supposed to go to Disney in November so hadn’t really planned to take that time off in September, but, well, global pandemic . . . so with the Disney trip canceled and our backup plans up in the air, we decided to take “Birthday Week” off as well to hopefully fit in some fun family outings. Of course, that means if we don’t get our act together and start schoolwork soon, nothing will get done until after that week off, which puts us at mid-September. If I want to maintain our streak of finishing the school year in April or May like we usually do, I need to summon the strength to get a move on!


Behold my beautiful new Tardis blue shelf, which I had to commandeer for my own purposes to prevent the children from fighting over it, as yet uncluttered by the random crap that somehow always ends up shoved among the workbooks, bins of the few new supplies we actually needed for the year, and a planner ready for action. Yes, that is in fact a Home Depot moving box from when we bought this house 4 years ago, and no, it has not been unpacked. But our school supplies look heckin’ lovely so just ignore it okay?

And so . . . here I sit, surrounded by curriculum and thinking about my late-sleeping tweens and quiet morning coffee time, blogging instead of actually figuring out who is doing what come Monday morning. This is our 8th year of official homeschooling and it just wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t constantly second-guessing every curriculum choice we made for the year (indeed I am), frantically selling off stuff I’ve held on to for far too long (yup), and wondering if maybe this will be the year that we buckle down and stay committed to following what the books tell us to do (insert maniacal laughter here). Still, somehow, it feels like it might just be a really good year for us. Unless anyone forgot how to add over the summer because then I will lose my ever-loving mind.

The World Turned Upside Down

If you’re singing Hamilton now, you’re welcome.

It’s been a long time since I last blogged, but since 2020 has lasted approximately 750 years so far, I hope you’ll forgive my absence. Uh, we’ll just ignore the 10 months of 2019 that I also missed, because life happens. Anyway. Everything shut down here in NY by mid-March, and we finished up our school year and annual testing by the middle of April. You’d think that having 6,000 extra hours of free time each week would have led us to get started on the new school year like we usually do, but alas . . . not so much. Turns out it’s easier to chill and watch Netflix and let the kids play Minecraft for 3 hours every afternoon while they chat with their friends, because then you don’t feel quite so bad about them missing out on all of a homeschooler’s usual social opportunities. While we feel super fortunate to have already been in a position that our “daily life” didn’t change too much when things closed down, every homeschool blog in the universe has already explained how we’re always out and about with field trips and classes and co-ops, etc. So . . . it’s been weird.

For anyone new joining the magical world of homeschooling for the 2020-2021 school year, welcome! I’m sure things are going to be . . . well, weird . . . for everyone this coming year, but I’m looking forward to it! My kids are starting 5th and 8th grade, which were the beginning and end of middle school for me growing up, so it feels like an interesting year. And I’m already exploring a ton of interesting curriculum options for high school NEXT year, mostly to distract myself from figuring out WTF we’re doing this coming year. And yes, I’ve already bought all of our curriculum and planned to start the new year at least 17 times already, but if you haven’t figured it out from my other posts, that all means nothing. The important thing is, I have my trusty planner at the ready and have updated my color-coded schedule spreadsheet so that we can promptly ignore it as soon as we get started.

Got any questions about homeschooling? Pandemic schooling? Tolerating 3 hours of Minecraft with children on speaker-phone in the next room? Drop me a comment and I’ll answer them in the next post. Which will not be almost 18 months from now, I promise. Here’s Juno begging you to throw me a bone, here.

Juno peep