Why do you use the internet?

Jay Baer–some marketing big wig–says that the two reasons people use the internet are to find a solution to a problem or to be entertained.  And while I certainly do ask Mr Google all sorts of questions multiple times a day, that’s really the least of what I’m doing here.  I want connection, conversation, exposure to new ideas.  And that’s so much more than entertainment or problem-solving.  I found just this sort of engagement on Twitter last night.

Winter Geraniums

Lori from Project Based Homeschooling shared an article from the Ikea blog (who knew?) called “Create Wellbeing the Danish Way.”  The article made me want that same sort of atmosphere, that same wellbeing for our homeschool.

It’s a way of being that’s open-hearted and unselfconscious. It’s about ease and flow.

Wow!  Could those words describe our homeschool?  I know that I often let the pull of life–the whiny toddler, the meal planning, the math pages–make me anything but open-hearted.  I want to make a space for beauty and a time for peace.

This is when the internet magic started happening.  After I read the article, I asked Lori about it.  Then we exchanged a few thoughtful, rich tweets!  This is why I’m on the internet, Marketing Guy.

And in related news, Hell has frozen over; I’ve opened up a page on The Book of Faces.  Come say hello!

Just in Time for Lent: A New Blog!

I am horrible with secrets.  It’s not that I can’t keep them.  It’s that I can’t really think about anything else but keeping them.  And I’ve been keeping a secret from you, dear reader.  I’ve been working on setting up a new blog.

Actually, there are bigger changes afoot.  I am beginning work as a virtual assistant–helping bloggers and other creatives with day-to-day tasks so that they can concentrate on other things.  I’ve been very happy with my home here at WP.com.  But as I launch this new venture, I need a blog home that looks a touch more professional.

bullet journal

At the beginning of the year, I entered a contest hosted by Tanya from Blogelina for a new blog design…and won!  The new design should be up by the beginning of February.  I wanted to tell you about it now though so I can think about something other than *not* telling you!  As I work on set-up, I am learning new things every day.  There is really nothing that I like more than learning.  It’s amazing all the little things that WP.com took care of behind the scenes.  I’ve been working to get the words and images here set up over there.  (Don’t you love my highly technical language?!)  I was happily surprised that I could also move my original blogger site there too.  So now my archives go all the way back to November 2007!

There won’t really be much of a change for you as a reader.  Things will look different, but I’ll still be writing about all the same things: books + homeschooling + the church year.  After the new site launches, I’d love to hear your impressions…things that are hard to find or things that you miss.  I have a feeling I’ll be tweaking things for a while.

And be in touch if you need a virtual assistant!

success momentum

Fresh off the daily writing habit from last month, I’m flush with inspiration!  I started reading again the (wonderful, transformational!) journaling workshop offered by Lori at Project Based Homeschooling.  I want to keep on writing + creating…maybe not every day in this space, but every day in my journal.


Small goals (write a few sentences each day + draw something)

Anchored to an established habit (quiet, early mornings with coffee)

Then…celebrate the small wins!

I’m planning on working with the write alm prompts and the art journaling prompts from Dawn DeVries Sokol. And I’m keeping my eyes + heart open to developing a Documented Life Journal…even bought this one at a deep discount because I don’t need the dates to be correct.  I’m trying out combining the art journal work with bullet journal style calendar + lists.

 I’ll also be working through Apartment Therapy’s Clean Your House in 20 Minutes a Day for 30 Days in preparation for the coming holy days.

What are you working on as the seasons shift + we face the darkest days?

homeschool teacher development


this last year i have noticed just how much energy + excitement i have when i’m learning something new.  one of the great perks of this homeschooling life is being able to continue my own education as my children learn. there are so many MOOCs available in places like Coursera, edX, FutureLearn, and Canvas Network.   no two MOOCs are the same.  if the first one you try isn’t hoding your interest, keep looking.  they are also infinitely customizable–you get to choose what best use looks like.

there are also many excellent online workshops.  i’ve taken Journaling Boot + Reboot and the PBH Master Class at Project Based Homeschooling, Declutter Your Mind from Simplified Organization, and Basic Line Drawing from Creativebug.  the learning doesn’t have to be rigorously academic.  it’s good for my kids to see me be a learner in any field, to make mistakes, to figure things out.  and it’s good for me to extend myself, to try new things, to keep myself engaged + inspired.

you can get a taste of teacher development…today!  Julie from Brave Writer is offering a free webinar today at 4pm Eastern called “Make Your Fantasy Homeschool a Reality.”   Julie has also started The Homeschool Alliance, a subscription coaching service.  for only $15 a month, Julie offers a master class in learning, ideas for self-care, and simple practices to make your homeschool richer.  there is an awesome group of women gathered there already!

there are also book groups and reading lists and quiet walks where you find solutions to your own problems!  i’ve written more about my experiences; you can find it in the learning all the time category.  how do you make a space for yourself to learn + grow?


adding color to line work

right at the edge of Fall we signed up for Creativebug and started stiching and drawing like mad.  i’ve enjoyed the  Basic Line Drawing class taught by Lisa Congdon.  using her ideas as spring boards, my journal is filling up with drawings that i really like.  in one of the class chats, Lisa mentioned that she scans some of her drawings into the computer to add color with Photoshop.  ah! so that’s how she does it.  she joked that that was another class entirely, but gave the advice to scan in black + white.


i had been wanting to try it myself.  those wide, flat fields of color are just so attractive and restful to my eye.  i also needed to make a blog button for the upcoming 31 Days challenge.  so i scanned a drawing of a poppy–how very Lisa Congdon of me! and AP helped me to add color using the free program called GIMP.  he knows how to use Photoshop and GIMP, so it was very straightforward for him to add color to what i had drawn with the paint bucket tool.  the results are pretty enough that i want to learn how to use the basic features myself.  i have some concentric circles that are begging for some color! then i asked Mr. Google how to make a blog button.  following advice from this tutorial, i pasted the image into Picmonkey and from there saved it to the cloud. ta-da! button made.

it’s probably a bit on the small, hard-to-read side, but hopefully the clean white space and pop of color makes you want to click on over to investigate.  i am really pleased with how it turned out…now i just have to write the series to go along with such a pretty poppy!

fall is for learning

this has been the year of online learning for me.  and i am so happy about that development!  last fall ModPo exploded.  then there was a journaling class + a master class with Lori of Project Based Homeschooling.  each one has brought challenges: new ways of thinking and expressing myself, new things to think about and discuss.  and now i am in the midst of another spate of fall time learning.

a few weeks ago we discovered Creativebug and have been watching, drawing, and stitching like mad ever since.  the topics range from embroidery to drawing, and the videos are fun to watch.  when you sign up, you get 14 days of free access.  after that you can choose to purchase single classes or monthly access to the entire site.

next week a MOOC entitled Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring her Work + Writing Life begins.  i’m over the moon that there are “required texts” for this course–a first for me with MOOCs.  i can’t wait to dive into this fiction again.  meanwhile Joseph has discovered our collection of My First Little House picture books.  he loves the the good old bulldog Jack, the excellent mouser Black Susan, lovely Ma, the dancing, and the bright moon.  such finely made books!

and thanks to goodreads, i got an advance copy of Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss.  it comes out at the end of October.  here’s what you need to do. get a hold of The Hearts of Horses.  there are some related characters in the new book, and you’ll get a wonderful introduction to the lovely writing, thoughtful narrative, and emotionally honest characters that Glass creates.  her work is among the best.

first day of school gif

IMG_2262-MOTION                          :: cooperative drawing with new Draw Write Now books ::

we’re beginning our first year with two students!  of course Nicolas has been learning right along with us for a few years now. and even though we’ve waited to introduce formal lessons, he can already read beginner books.  declaring this his kinder year really just means that i will be a bit more focused, strewing his path with good things.  

each week we’ll focus on a letter of the alphabet a la Elizabeth’s lovely plans in Along the Alphabet Path.  we’ll read an ABC of storybooks by the author or illustrator’s name, study a saint and make a letter-themed snack using the free resources at All About Reading. 

i’ve been wanting a way to organize + keep track of the storybooks that we are reading…so much harder than tracking chapter book read alouds.  i didn’t like mixing the titles into my goodreads list and i didn’t like signing in + out to keep a separate list.  so i’ve started gathering them at Pinterest.

go take a look at what i’ve got planned so far!



end of summer

woman + firefliesif you keep track of the seasons using the old English reckoning, then August 2nd is the first day of Autumn.  that might seem strange at first…isn’t August high summer?  but really it’s the beginning of the harvest.  in our CSA this week we’ve got melons, tomatoes, peppers, and corn to prove it.  and we’ve picked our first tomato from our front door garden.  but for us, for now it still feels like summer.  AP is around, we are watching so many movies, we have lunch in the park a few times a week.

and most of all, we haven’t started school yet.  i was planning on starting next week, to give us a trial week while Andy was still around for backup, but we are having house guests instead.   there will be lots of conversation, lots of drawing, lots of margaritas.  see it can’t be Fall yet, we’re still drinking margaritas!

i am slowly getting our bookshelves + learning spaces organized and ready.  and we’ve got a passel of graphic novels about Greek mythology coming from the library.  this is Nico’s kinder year, so we are going to travel The Alphabet Path again.  really we won’t be following Elizabeth’s plans all that closely.  but we will be making plenty of room in the schedule for lots of picture books.  i think everyone will be happy with that piece of the curriculum.  we will also be making ABC Snacks and even trying our hand at some bento fun!

i’m looking forward to a bunch of free webinars coming up in September.  Julie Brave Writer will be speaking on September 9th, 17, and 23rd.  i heard Julie speak about helping your struggling writer.  i don’t have struggling writers, but even still, it was time well spent.  her “authentic writing voice” really shines and her gentle, loving, grounded approach to writing and homeschooling can throw the lights on for you.  and did i mention it’s free?  go sign up already.

one more thing…i’ll be signing up for the fiction writing MOOC offered by the Iowa Writers Workshop.  it doesn’t start til the end of September, but that gives me time to get school underway and dust off the novel that needs to be completely re-written.  if assignments help you get your work done, if you love hearing working writers talk process, if you want feedback from readers on your work, then this is the place for you.  and i would be foolish not to plug ModPo again.  hands down the BEST MOOC out there.

even my lists turn into poems

for the past few weeks i have been working through How Writers Write Poetry, a MOOC offered by the Iowa Writers Workshop.  each week there are two sets of craft talks, 20 minutes of working poets telling their best writing secrets.  i think the quality of the offerings has been a bit uneven, but that’s really only because some of the videos have been out of sight!  this last week featured Michael Dennis Browne.  he’s such a wonder.  he says he doesn’t write good poems very often, but he writes all the time!  one of his poems has been made into a picture book.  it’s called Give Her the River.  it was the inspiration for my work this week.  it’s really just a list of homeschooling goals for this next year disguised as a poem!

Grace Year


Flour and sugar, eggs, butter

blueberries and yeast

pans of scones and pots of tea.

Houses, forts, temporary structures,

cardboard and paint, rope, fabric, paper, tape.

Tin whistle, rhythm, jump rope, trampoline, the bicycle.

Give her books and conversation and questions,

notebooks life-filled.  Spiders, leaves, afternoon naps.

Books on tape: voices speaking her life into being.

A new world, a new planet: unseen, unknown, uncharted.

New questions, old questions, your questions.

Dinner, dishes, sink full of water and soap.

Long stories, warm bed, strong dreams, peaceful waking

in the quiet dark of a young day.


Bird song, story books

rhymes, number, sequence, song.

Drawing at table: color,

liquid space, music, silence.

Stories with new endings.


Puzzles, paints, songs, walks,

leaves, birds, bubbles, butterflies

come spring.  Dough for bread,

carrots for soup, white lights in

fir boughs, new speech on your lips.