What We've Been Up To Lately: February Book Stack and Some Basketball

Are you a planner by nature?

I am confessing right here that I am NOT.

So, the very thought of laying out the books I want to read in a month at the BEGINNING of the month feels a little stifling to me. I have come to the realization, however, that this will be a good way for me to evaluate my bookish goals.

By “bookish goals” I mean my goal of reading more non fiction, more Christian works, and in general keeping myself away from too much twaddle.

February Book Stack @ Homegrown Learners

February Book Stack for Mom

I completed Inhertiance, by Dani Shapiro, just yesterday. I had heard the hype on this one, and I can tell you it lives up to that hype.

Dani Shapiro knocked it out of the park with this memoir about her shocking discovering of her ancestry.

In addition to that book, I have the following books on my TBR for February

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and LoveOne Summer: America, 1927Mere ChristianityThe Enchanted April (Penguin Classics)The Duchess of Bloomsbury StreetMiss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)


Audio Books

I always like to keep an Audible selection going in the car.

I am finishing The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old - it’s hilarious - but I’m warning you… you have to have a good sense of humor about aging and people being in a nursing home. I can chuckle at his stories because my dad lives in an Assisted Living, and this is SO TRUE to life!

Additionally, a book club friend asked me to read An Anonymous Girl, so that is next up in my Audible cue.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik GroenAn Anonymous Girl: A Novel


Reading for My Teens

Grant is reading short stories for his Challenge B curriculum. I have been reading a few of those aloud with him, which is interesting. I love the discussions we are having.

He is bound and determined to finish the Pendragon series. I think reading books in a series is a universal thing for middle schoolers, yes?

My daughter is taking a World Literature class this year and is finishing Julius Caesar right now. For fun, she just re-read Forever Today, which is a a story about the English musician, Clive Wearing. It is a truly heartbreaking and fascinating story.

We are starting a new read aloud this week, and I am taking the advice of so many and starting Echo. I have heard the audio is excellent, but we already own the book. What to do? I think I may use an Audible credit so we can listen and follow along.

Pendragon Complete Collection: The Merchant of Death; The Lost City of Faar; The Never War; The Reality Bug; Black Water; The Rivers of Zadaa; The ... of Rayne; Raven Rise; The Soldiers of HallaForever Today: A Memoir Of Love And Amnesia by Wearing, Deborah New edition (2005)Echo


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A fun aside - I’ve been able to get a lot of reading done because it is basketball season!

I do a lot of waiting at practices and before games. I also sneak in reading if my husband is driving us to an away game.

This weekend my son’s team is in the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!

We’re very excited. It is so much fun watching these kids play. He plays for a local Christian school that allows homeschoolers to play on their team, so he has quite a few of his homeschool buddies that play with him. Good stuff!

Initially I was resistant to a lot of organized sports, but this has been a spectacular experience, and I can see the many benefits this is having for my son. I anticipate he will play next year.

My life right now is SQUILT, homeschool, basketball, and BOOKS — and next week I’ll talk more about getting my oldest registered off for college, because that deserves a post all of its own.

What have YOU been up to?

Do you have a reading stack for February?

What We've Been Up To Lately: The Two Most Important Homeschool Ingredients

My 17-year-old came home from her Anatomy & Physiology class today a bit disappointed in herself.

Apparently she had forgotten to pack a take home test that was to be turned in today. It was in a different folder left sitting on the kitchen table. Her teacher told Anna she could scan it and email it to her immediately after class.

This is a strict (but kind and generous) teacher with high expectations, but in this instance she extended grace because it was out of the ordinary for Anna to forget something. Anna was immensely thankful, and in her email to the teacher said, “Thank you for extending grace to me.”.

I began to get emotional (as I’ve been prone to do during Anna’s senior year), because it brought about a lot of feelings regarding our homeschool, and the experiences and changes we have had in our ten years on this journey.

This was my revelation: There are TWO essential ingredients of a successful homeschool - one we can control, and one we cannot - and those are extending and receiving grace, and the ability to see the need for and adapt to change.

The two constants in your #homeschool (one you can control and one you cannot)l: CHANGE & GRACE

Grace and change are the topics of this “What We’ve Been Up To” post because I have had a few big things hit me over the head this week that have shown me the need for grace and the inevitability of change!

Grace in the Homeschool

One constant in our homeschool has been the need for grace. I need grace. My children need grace.

We participate in a homeschool community where grace is modeled and lived.

Reflecting on our years of homeschool, let me encourage you. Extending grace to your own children, as well as modeling that extension of grace to others, will be one of the best investments you can make.

If your teenager has harsh words for you, extend grace and reply with words of love (or silence!). Your relationship is worth so much more than being right.

The Two Essential Ingredients in a Homeschool

If you are receiving protests during a math lesson, extend grace. Give your child a hug, a dish of chocolate chips, and sit with them for a few minutes to encourage them in their lesson.

If you have a disagreement with another mom in your homeschool community, take a step back (and a deep breath), find a trusted friend to pray with you - and extend grace.

Most important of all, give YOURSELF grace.

You cannot do it all. You will not be perfect. Your children are not perfect.

Do you understand?

Grace wins. Every.single.time.

I know it is hard and contrary to our nature, but I have failed enough times at extending grace to know now that it IS the only option.

One of our favorite martyrs we have studied is Jim Elliot - I love his words:

“Lord, give me firmness without hardness, steadfastness without dogmatism, love without weakness.” 
― Jim Elliot

Yes, these words apply to our faith in God, but I believe they apply to our relationship with others, and especially our relationships within our homeschool.

*Have you read Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace? It will inspire you.

Change in the Homeschool

My husband and I are constantly saying, “Bob & weave! Bob & Weave!”

Think of homeschooling as a boxing match - in order to survive you need to bob & weave! (Let’s hope your homeschool isn’t as combative as an actual boxing match, but you know what I mean!)

In our early days of homeschool I used to view the need to change as a weakness - a lack of poor planning on my part. If something wasn’t working, it was probably because of my action or inaction in that particular area.

The two essentials ingredients of our homeschool

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Because homeschool is completely interwoven with our home life, things are constantly changing.

Saxon Math worked for us for many years, but as my children (my daughter, in particular) grew we needed to make a change. (But wasn’t Saxon the gold standard of math? What was wrong with my homeschool that it didn’t work for us?)

In 2013 I gave up a huge homeschool ideal - we had to CHANGE.

We changed Classical Conversations communities in 2016.

Our family needed to adjust when my mom was dying of cancer, when my dad was transitioning to Assisted Living, and again when my father-in-law passed away.

And here’s the thing about change: while it is painful and we sometimes go kicking and screaming, the ability to adjust with grace is probably the BIGGEST LIFE SKILL we can give our children through homeschooling.

Having to make a change isn’t a sign of weakness and it isn’t a sign of failure, it is a sign of self-awareness, growth, and strength.

So this week, while we were occupied with all of the things of life - things like basketball playoffs, teaching SQUILT lessons, college housing deposits, piano practice, read alouds, and MORE…the two things on my heart to share with you were about grace and change.

I would love to hear from you!

Have there been instances of dramatic change in your homeschool? What about moments where you have given or received grace?

Share them with us in the comments below.

The Two Most Important Ingredients in Your Homeschool