What We've Been Up To Lately: Literature, Logic, and Learning Experiences

Life is rich, full, and BUSY when you have teenagers in the house.

I thought life with toddlers was tiring and mentally draining, but life with teenagers is a different kind of busy. (God bless the families that have toddlers AND teenagers.)

We’re tackling some BIG ideas - both emotionally and academically.

I can see, however, how much homeschooling our children has equipped all of us for this point in our children’s lives. The relationships we have created and the habits we have developed over the past several years are equipping us to tackle high school and college.

By God’s grace everything ahead of us seems GOOD - even if it is hard. Usually a chai latte, a good book, and some quiet time for prayer have been helping me put everything into proper perspective.

Literature, Logic, and Learning Experiences - What We’ve Been Up To Lately in Our #homeschool @ Homegrown Learners


Books really do help us escape to other worlds. Finishing a book also gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose - not to mention learning loads of interesting things while I’m reading.

Some really cool things have happened recently in our house with literature.

  • My son is reading a new collector’s set of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings. He is suddenly intensely interested in reading Tolkien - and his friends from his homeschool group are all spurring each other on with what they are reading. One of my prayers for my son has been for his love of reading to continue as we make our way through the Challenge years.

  • My daughter is tackling a part of Le Mis in her 12th grade World Literature class. (Have you seen how BIG the book is? I bought it a few weeks ago and it scares me!) The two of us enjoyed seeing the Broadway production of Le Mis a couple weeks ago - it was spectacular! We had a great discussion about the themes of justice and mercy surrounding the story.

  • I am making a lot of wonderful history connections in my 2019 . My first big book of the year was One Summer: America, 1927. Now, I’m almost finished with The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Interestingly enough, the historical fiction I chose to go along with these was Next Year in Havana. I learned so much about the history of Cuba through this book. All three books together have given me a deeper perspective on life in America in the 1900s.

  • Several of you have been joining me for the Beauty in the Word book club study. I highly recommend reading this book when you have dedicated time to truly dig into deep ideas about your children’s education.

  • Reading aloud is also a staple in our homeschool - and yes, even big kids like to be read to! We just finished Homeless Bird (beautiful) and are in the middle of Nowhere Boy. Both of these books are turning the kids’ attention to issues in other parts of the world - through stories of children their own age.

  • Finally, I love to use our time in the car for listening to audiobooks. Grant and I have been listening to Bold & Broken by the Benham brothers. The theme of being broken is surfacing a lot in my life, and I am finding great power in admitting my own brokenness - and how sharing that brokenness can be a bridge for others to Christ. This book is humorous but also poignant - it’s just the right mix for a teenage boy. Because the Benham brothers were pro baseball players my son relates to them quite well.


Logic studies this year have been difficult. My son is a bright boy and this is one of the first times he is encountering true difficulty with a subject.

My mantra has been “process over product”.

So much can be learned from struggling through this logic curriculum - and I hope I’m freeing him up to struggle by letting him know it IS difficult and I’m not expecting perfection, just his very best effort.

I can see great value in studying logic, but I will tell you it isn’t something I would have selected for him on my own. This is a part of his Challenge B curriculum.

And let’s pause for a minute to talk about grades. This is one of those subjects where I’m not strictly keeping “grades”… after all, I don’t want him to get a C on a test and leave it at that. If he gets a C on a Logic test then we will struggle through the answers until we come to understanding. After working towards mastery with his best effort that seems like an A to me.

I’m setting up children for lifelong learning, not learning to regurgitate on a test.

Learning Experiences

The middle and high school years are bringing huge learning experiences for my kids.

We’ve always required our children to take piano lessons.

When March rolls around it is time for the Federation festival. This year Grant memorized two pieces and played them for a judge. I’m proud of him for receiving a Superior rating.

Anna did this festival for nine years in a row, and this was Grant’s sixth year. It teaches them perseverance, patience, and valuable performance/presentation skills.

This year Grant’s pieces seemed to kind of fall apart in the week leading up to the festival. I assured him it was a normal part of the preparation process, and he managed to pull out a Superior at the festival.

A little bit of nervousness, facing our fears - and then performing well - is such a great learning experience!


Meanwhile, on the same day, Anna drove to Spring Fest at the college she is attending next year. She did this on her own! The drive is two hours - which made this mom just a little nervous.

She learned a lot more about the college and came home with all kinds of details about their Special Education cohort program. The students move through their last two years of school together, student teaching throughout. They also offer a study abroad program focusing on special education in other cultures.

I could have gone with her, but she wanted to do this herself. She has always been my strong willed child (a challenge for this homeschool mom!), but I can clearly see that strong will working for good as she gets older.

Moms, if you have a strong-willed child just stay the course. Be firm, loving, and allow them plenty of opportunities to be independent. Let them take control of their education. I’ve learned my daughter needs to own her successes and failures, and the entire college application and selection process has been no different.

She’s also had a setback with a roommate situation. She thought she was all set with a roommate who is a friend of hers now, but the roommate has decided to attend another school. I must admit, my heart broke a little for her because having this one thing settled was making Anna feel so much more confident about school. This setback, though, has been a good opportunity to stress God’s hand in the process, and it is the first of many obstacles that Anna will have to overcome in her college career.

Another learning experience. You cannot control a situation, but you CAN control your reaction to the situation. (a good reminder for all of us!)

As we’re preparing for the change of transitioning to high school for my youngest and college for my oldest, we’re still in the process of settling my father-in-law’s estate.

Yesterday was the first time to go to his house after the estate sale. The house was totally empty. Talk about a sucker punch to the gut.

I think is one of the hardest things we’ve ever been through.

(At that same time we received news that my niece had a new baby - a precious little girl. The cycle of life is one thing we can be sure of, isn’t it?)

The theme of our lives this year is CHANGE. So much change. Even through all the changes and hard times we are OK — we are blessed in so many ways.

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Now I will be turning my attention to planning a graduation celebration for Anna and a Confirmation celebration for Grant - two big events coming this spring!

I’d love to know what you’ve been up to in your homeschool lately!

Leave a comment below to share with us…

Literature, Logic & Learning Experiences - #homeschool encouragement to stay the course

What We've Been Up To Lately: The Homeschool Road is NOT Easy (and a few other updates)

The homeschool life can be beautiful, but it can also be HARD.

If our perspective is eternal, then even the hard can be beautiful.

Last weekend I went on retreat with 15 other homeschool moms from our Classical Conversations community. The biggest takeaway from the weekend was this: We are doing something of eternal significance and joy through homeschooling our children. LIFE, however, doesn’t stop when you are homeschooling.

We still take on the regular burdens of any family - struggles with relationships, caring for aging parents, caring for our OWN physical and emotional health, meeting the needs of many different types of children, coping with job and financial stress. The list could go on and on…

Moms, it is imperative we take care of ourselves. Surround yourself with friendships and situations that lift and support you. Whatever curriculum you choose, it won’t be of any value to your children if YOU aren’t healthy, happy, and pouring love and grace into your children.

The Homeschool Life is Hard - Why It is Important to Have Community & Friendships

The Homeschool Road is NOT Easy

Can I be completely transparent with you today?

Life is HARD.

Being a mama in my late 40s brings about its own set of physical and emotional changes. Add to that death of parents, caring for parents, chronic pain struggles of my own, raising teens, running a business, and a myriad of other demands on my time, and life gets overwhelming.

Add the responsibility of my children’s education on top of this, and sometimes it feels that it might be easier to crawl into a little hole and escape for a while.

I am, however, seeing the FRUIT of homeschooling. I see two teens who are kind, responsible, personable, and compassionate. As I’m reading Beauty in the Word I am learning that educating our children for BEING, not DOING, is the goal.

Homeschooling has allowed me to teach my children how to BE - and this skill will take them far as servants in God’s kingdom.

We all need a support system.

All moms need a #homeschool support system!

I love the ladies in our homeschool community.

Each of the ladies in the above picture have their own struggles. They each also have their own special way of encouraging and supporting others, and their unique ways of pouring into other homeschool moms.

We need each other. We laugh, cry, pray, and love each other.

I couldn’t do this homeschool thing without community.

Three days with this community of women (plus 10 more not pictured here!) have equipped me until next year at this time, when we will do it all over again.

#Homeschool Moms need community!

How appropriate that we could end our retreat with worship time and visiting a chapel on the property of the farm where we spent our weekend.

In a world that seems to be going a bit wonky, this was a slice of heaven on earth. Truly.

A Bookish Update

Another thing that keeps me sane is reading… reading to my children and reading on my own. Below are the books that are laying on nightstands, coffee tables, and fire places right now:

I’ve been trying to read a bit more widely in 2019, so you will see more nonfiction and spiritual reading.

A lot of people ask how I can read so much. My answer is this: I love Audible and listen to A LOT of audio books!

Homeless BirdBeauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of EducationThe Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt OutDefiant Joy: Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting WorldGhosted: A NovelPrivate Peaceful (After Words)One Summer: America, 1927An Anonymous Girl: A NovelMiss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)Next Year in Havana


Curriculum & Graduation Update

We made the decision to move Grant into Challenge I (Classical Conversations) next year.

Our community is so very strong, and he will be in a class of 12 wonderful peers.

I know there is often a lot of reevaluating and decision making when a child enters high school, and we did wrestle with whether or not to send him to a fully accredited homeschool hybrid school or keep him in Classical Conversations. In the end - community won out! Plus, I also believe in the CC model for the Challenge years.

We will be adjusting - adding and subtracting - curriculum pieces as we move along, so I will keep you updated on that.

Right now he is busy preparing for Mock Trial, digging into Logic and Latin, and really enjoying his switch from Saxon Math to Shormann Math.

Anna graduates May 17 and is ready! Would you believe she already has her first semester college schedule already? And, she is rooming with a friend of hers from home, so I think she’s feeling good about going to college.

See what I mean about homeschool paying off? I’m so so happy I decided to follow her lead in these high school years and make a huge change when it was needed. It all worked out for the best.

We’re learning a lot of life lessons here. Things like managing money, time, and relationships are valuable life skills!

It’s an interesting mix of letting go and reigning in at this age. I spend a lot of time praying about how best to handle certain situations, and I’m relying a lot on my husband, who is DEFINITELY the most patient parent!

We have a lot of family coming for Anna’s graduation - what a blessing that will be. In our hearts we will be missing my mom and my husband’s father, but I know they see it all and are so proud of the young lady she is becoming. I find myself overcome with tears several times a week just missing them, but it’s ok to be sad - and then I move on.

Being Spontaneous

I’ve never been very good at spontaneity. It is, however, my children’s love language.

They LOVE surprises.

On Tuesday a friend of mine posted on Facebook “Who wants to see The Piano Guys tonight?” I jumped on it! (It didn’t even matter it was 2.5 hours away - I snagged the tickets, rented a hotel room, and told my kids to pack a bag!) Dad was on a business trip to California during our Winter Break, so I decided we needed to take a little trip, too!

What an amazing concert!

I have used so many of their videos in my SQUILT curriculum; I figured this was “business research” for me.

Surprise Trip to See the Piano Guys

We’re full steam ahead until the end of the year.

I go back to the emphasis of our retreat weekend: God is always there in the midst of ANY circumstance. He loves us so much and rejoices and cries with us. We are NEVER alone. He wants the best for us and often times has us in the valley so that we must struggle to reach up for HIM.

I’m thankful for this online community of homeschooling mamas, and pray that I can be an encouragement to each of you.

#Homeschool is hard, but if our perspective is eternal, then even the hard can be beautiful.

If you feel led, please share a struggle and/or joy from the past week in the comments below.

Let’s encourage each other!

You might also like:

How to Reach Your Teen Homeschooler’s Heart

Homeschooling Your Teen: Are You Missing the Most Important Thing?