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

10 Favorite Books of 2018

I was browsing the discount book section of a store (one of my favorite past times) the other day. As I was intently examining the cluttered shelves , a woman approached me and said, “People think I have a problem, but I just LOVE looking for books. My kids don’t understand why I buy books and then just put them on the shelves without reading them - and I can’t really explain it to them. I just like doing it.”

My response to her was this -

“Books represent a world of possibility when I look at them. I love having lots of possibilities in my life. Keep buying those books!”

In that moment I forged a connection with a total stranger.

Reading has dramatically changed my life over the past two years. When my mom passed away in the summer of 2016 I lost my best friend - and gained a large chunk of time. At the same time, I was a full-fledged mom of teens, which meant they spent less time needing (or wanting) my attention.

To put it bluntly: I found myself more alone than I had been in a long time, and I had to do something about it!

Reading books helped me escape to different worlds while I was grieving. Reading books became a way to fill the time I had normally chatted with my mom on the phone. I committed to a robust reading life - not only for the betterment of myself, but also to become a better homeschool parent.

The time you spend reading is not wasted. I encourage you to carve time out of your schedule to READ. It is of immense value to you and your children!

10 Favorite Books of 2018 — for moms!

In 2017 I committed to read 50 books.

2018 brought increased reading enthusiasm and MORE books completed - 102 to be exact - and while it isn’t about the number of books I read, it IS about the knowledge I gained, the friends I made (I even started my own #bookstagram account!), and the beautiful hobby I continue to cultivate.

To put it simply,

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.
— JK Rowling

I joined the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and a local book club. I was honored to be selected for the I’d Rather Be Reading Book Launch Team.

Favorite Books of 2018

Any time we visited a new city I went to their best bookstore. I found myself haunting our local Goodwill and thrift stores.

I hung out at the local library just for fun.

I became the book recommender and lender for many of my friends.

It was a GREAT reading year.

Ten Favorite Books of 2018

It was an arduous task to narrow the list to TEN favorite books, but I’m confident and pleased with my choices. After the ten favorites, I have also included the list of all of the books I read in 2018.

They are ALL worth reading (with the exception - in my opinion - of The Handmaid’s Tale - which I read out of curiosity - and did not like at all), because I have no qualms putting down a book I am not enjoying. Life is too short to read books that don’t resonate with you!

My favorites quite obviously reflect the genre I enjoy most (historical fiction), but I did enjoy The Library Book and Fearfully & Wonderfully Made (nonfiction).

Cold Sassy TreeThe Library BookMark Of The Lion Boxed Set-3 Bks (Repack)A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)Amy Snow: A NovelBefore We Were Yours: A NovelThe Remains of the DayBecoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. LewisFearfully and Wonderfully MadePeace Like a River


All Books Read in 2018

I tried to read across all genres and get out of my comfort zone in 2018.

This list also includes books we read aloud in our homeschool - something I adore doing.

I hope you can find some books to add to your 2019 reading list!

Cold Sassy TreeThe Library BookMark Of The Lion Boxed Set-3 Bks (Repack)A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)Amy Snow: A NovelBefore We Were Yours: A NovelThe Remains of the DayBecoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. LewisFearfully and Wonderfully MadePeace Like a RiverThe 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas MiracleThe Great Alone: A NovelGirl in the Blue CoatOne Day in December: A NovelA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses: A feel good Christmas romance novelThe Spectator Bird by Stegner,Wallace. [1990,4th Edition.] PaperbackA Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918A Grief ObservedThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Brave Art of Motherhood: Fight Fear, Gain Confidence, and Find Yourself AgainA Fall of MarigoldsOne-in-a-Million BoyThe Graveyard BookAs Bright as HeavenThe Clockmaker's Daughter: A NovelThe Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell: A NovelThe Undoing of Saint SilvanusThe ImmortalistsOur Beating HeartsSmall Great Things: A NovelEndurance: Shackleton's Incredible VoyageThe 49th Mystic (Beyond the Circle)The WilloughbysA Place for Us: A NovelLabor DayThe Handmaid's TaleCrazy Rich AsiansThe Widows of Malabar Hill (A Mystery of 1920s India)Garden Spells: A Novel (Waverly Family)Same Kind of Different As MeThat Kind of Mother: A NovelI Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with DeathA Well-Tempered Heart (Art of Hearing Heartbeats)The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A NovelA Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s WorldI'll Be Your Blue Sky: A NovelThe Almost Sisters: A NovelAn Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and MadnessThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called EelThe Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-DiscoveryLittle Fires EverywhereThe Mothers: A NovelThe Bronze BowThe Beach HouseBreaking Stalin's NoseThe Stolen Marriage: A NovelPeter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (Peter Nimble Adventure)Truly Madly GuiltyUnwritten: A NovelWhat I Saw And How I LiedMy Name Is Lucy Barton: A NovelAn American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection)Bel Canto: A Novel by Ann Patchett (2001-05-22)Listening for LionsEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A NovelHome Fire: A NovelWinter in Thrush Green (Thrush Green, Book 2)A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True StoryThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Tom Sawyer's ComradeBeartown: A NovelTell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to SayStay with Me: A novelThe Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your KidsThrush Green (Thrush Green Series, Book 1)Lilli de Jong: A NovelEvery Note PlayedWhere You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions ManiaMalagashEducated: A MemoirConsider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical TraditionThe Rosie Project: A NovelThe Music Shop: A NovelThe Giver (Giver Quartet)I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred RogersBeautiful Ruins: A NovelNearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing WellBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand AloneMrs. DallowayDeath Comes for the Archbishop (Vintage Classics)Gift from the Sea: 50th-Anniversary EditionThe Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of DistractionWinter GardenWe Should All Be FeministsThe Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel


I’d love to know some of YOUR favorites from 2018.

Share them with me in the comments below!