Book Review: Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year by Laura Brodie

April 16, 2010 Categories: Books , Contests | Comments Off  

Title: Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year
Author: Laura Brodie
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the author
First line: On a cold October morning my ten-year-old daughter, Julia, sat at our kitchen table and contemplated the Earth’s layers.

Last year, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Laura Brodie’s novel The Widow’s Season. While communicating with Ms. Brodie about her novel, I mentioned that I am a homeschooling mom. She told me that her next book would be a memoir of the year she spent homeschooling her daughter, Julia. When she e-mailed me earlier this year about reviewing it, I didn’t hesitate.

I have to admit, as a full-time, long-term homeschooler, I wondered if my philosophy of homeschooling would be so different from Ms. Brodie, who decided to homeschool her daughter for 5th grade only, that it would be an awkward read and review. I needn’t have worried. Ms. Brodie has a beautiful writing voice, and her love for her daughter and desire to tell about her homeschooling experience with honesty came through on every page.

In Love in a Time of Homeschooling, Ms. Brodie decides to consider short-term homeschooling after she loses her 4th grade daughter Julia for an hour one afternoon. She discovers her hiding in a closet – hiding because she had heard her mother say it was almost time to do homework. Julia is a bright girl who loves to read, draw, and experience nature – and she is going crazy in a traditional classroom setting. Brodie is a college professor and author, and knows that long-term homeschooling won’t fit for their family, but decides to take Julia out of school for 5th grade. This memoir tells the story of that decision and the resulting year.

I loved how honest Brodie was about the gap between her expectations for her year of homeschooling and the reality of it. Very few homeschooling books are honest about the fact that while some days are nestled in a rosy haze of delightful learning, most days are full of routine and plugging ahead at work that is not always enjoyable. And there are days when the idea of putting all four of my kids on a big yellow school is immensely tempting, and evenings when I end the day ashamed of the way I lost my temper over having to explain some math concept yet one more time.

This book has a much wider appeal than simply homeschoolers, though. Readers of memoir will recognize a talented author and enjoy reading about a year in which she decided to take a different path than she had expected, and how that year turned out. Parents will be in agreement with the difficulty in assuring a good education for our children in today’s public school system, the struggle to balance enriching extra-curricular activities with mountains of homework and the need to simply let our kids be kids while they can.

The thing I most appreciated about this book is that Brodie came away from her experience with the conviction that all good parents are homeschoolers, whether they are doing the day to day teaching themselves or entrusting their children to others. She realizes that as parents we bear the ultimate responsibility for our children’s education – and she didn’t hesitate to try something different when it was needed.

Some favorite passages:

As I thought back on my mom, it occurred to me that all good parents are homeschoolers. Homeschooling is what happens when families turn off their TVs, cell phones, and iPods. It occurs in long, thoughtful conversations at the dinner table, as well as at baseball games and ballet recitals, and in the planning of a vegetable garden. Parents who enrich their children’s lives with art and sports and multiple trips to the library provide the backbone of American education. Unfortunately, in our busy lives, parents and children have less and less time for hours of thoughtful interaction, which is one reason why homeschooling has been on the rise. Homeschooling provides family with the quality time that used to occur after school. ~ p. 52-53

Most homeschooling books don’t mention these troubles; they don’t dwell on shouting matches and slammed doors. Perhaps other homeschooling households are more placid than mine, or perhaps the first foray into homeschooling is always rocky, and years of practice are required to smooth the path. But I suspect that even the best homeschooling families have their ugly moments, from minor annoyances to major fights… ~ p. 145

Above all, homeschooling enabled Julia and me to understand one another more deeply – to witness each other’s flaws and strengths and practice the art of patience. I wish I could claim that my angry outbursts have disappeared, and that I am now a model of meditative calm. But who would believe it, especially in a house with four opinionated females? Truth is, the emotional weather in our family alternates between sunshine and storm, with the occasional hurricane looming (never more than a category two). Homeschooling taught Julia and me to comprehend each other’s tempests, and to appreciate all chances to bask in warm, cloudless love. ~ p. 237

I have an ARC copy and a hardcover copy of Love in a Time of Homeschooling to give away to two of my readers. Click over to Books and Movies to enter.

(Disclosure: Love in a Time of Homeschooling was provided to me by the author for the purpose of review. The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and subsequently purchase anything, I will receive a small percentage in commission.)

Young Scientists Club Kit Winner

December 19, 2009 Categories: Contests | Comments Off  


Congratulations to Jonnie, who has won her choice of The Young Scientists Club Set 4: Bacteria & Fungi, Weight & Volume, Acids & Bases Science Kit. And thanks again to Jason from Toys and Games Online, a great resource for online toys, who made this giveaway possible.

Young Scientists Club Giveaway

December 11, 2009 Categories: Contests , Homeschooling | 9 Comments  


I am so excited about this giveaway – and I know all of you will be, too. Whether you’re a homeschooler, like me, or a parent who likes to share educational activities with your children, you definitely need to enter this giveaway.

Toys and Games Online is a fantastic site, especially right now, when everyone is shopping for Christmas. If you’re shopping for online toys for your kids, you’ll definitely want to check out their site.

The Young Scientists Club kits are pretty much every homeschooling mom’s dream: they give you all the tools and simple instructions you need to perform interesting experiments with your kids. The idea was created by a mother of five with a degree in Biology – as a biologist, she knows her science, and as a mom, she knows the things we want most in a science kit.

Now, for the giveaway details:

1. Click on over to their Young Scientists Club section, and check out all the different kits.

2. Come back and leave a comment on this post telling me which kit you would like to win if your name is chosen. Only one entry per person, please.

3. This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only.

4. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, December 18th. I will used to draw a winner on Saturday, December 19th.

Good luck!

Winner: Nancy Drew – Warnings at Waverly Academy PC Game

December 5, 2009 Categories: Contests | 2 Comments  


Sorry this is so late! Busy day. :) Without further ado, the winner of Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy is…

….Susie the Geek!

Congratulations, Susie. :) Watch your e-mail box; I’ll be contacting you for your mailing information.

Thanks to everyone for playing along. Stay tuned – another great giveaway for parents is coming up on Monday!

Giveaway: Nancy Drew – Warnings at Waverly Academy PC Game

November 24, 2009 Categories: Computer games , Contests | 12 Comments  


You, as Nancy Drew, are undercover at a prestigious girls’ boarding school to discover the culprit behind the threatening notes and dangerous accidents aimed at its valedictorian candidates! Is there a secret someone wants to protect or are the malicious pranks intended to scare away the competition – permanently? Solve the mystery before the threats turn deadly and you’re expelled from the case!

Thanks to the generosity of HighWater Group, I have an extra copy of this game to give away to one of my lucky readers! Here are the details:

~ This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only.

~ Leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway. One entry per person, please.

~ All entries must be received by 11:59 pm PST Friday, December 4, 2009. On December 5th, I will use to draw a winner.

Good luck!

Books, movies, and TV

November 14, 2009 Categories: Books , Contests , Movies , Television | Comments Off  

~ Book Review: Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
~ Whatcha Watchin’? Wednesday: V, Fringe, Bones, etc.
~ Book Review: The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle
~ Movie Review: UP
~ Book Review: The Geography of Love: A Memoir by Glenda Burgess
~ Book Giveaway: The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay

Links for Friday, September 4, 2009

September 4, 2009 Categories: Books , Contests , Funnies , Homeschooling , Movies , Reviews , TV on DVD , Videos | 2 Comments  

Well, we made it through our first week back to homeschooling – it went well, we are all still speaking to each other, so far, so good. Natalie is getting used to her bigger load – she’s in junior high now – and will start her weekly babysitting gig next week. (It’s hard to believe that the baby girl I used to take to Bible Study nursery, where a homeschooled teenager would babysit her, is now the homeschooled (almost) teenager doing the babysitting!)

I only have a couple minutes before I’m heading to the gym. Fun way to spend Friday night, right? Actually, I love the gym on Friday nights – it’s so empty and quiet.

I just finished reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner – if you like science fiction, dystopian fiction, YA fiction – actually, if you just love a mind-blowingly good story that keeps you turning the pages, you should definitely read it. It’s being released on October 13th. I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC for review – my review will be up at Books and Movies in the next couple of days.

~ A Life in Pages: Send a man to the grocery store – this video is a bit long, but so funny.

~ Mommy Brain was linked to from the Rural Health Blog, as part of the Get Fit Colville program.

~ Scribbit: Should children have allowances? Some good thoughts here.

~ A Life in Pages: Funny wedding moment – another fun video.

~ Moomin Light: For Star Wars fans – this guy is incredibly talented.

~ Don’t forget to enter my Ginger Kids giveaway – it’s a great tool for teaching cooking and geography!

At Books and Movies:

~ My ever-expanding list of must-reads
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Michael Harmon
~ Whatcha Watchin’? Wednesday: Scrubs, Season 8
~ Book Review: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
~ Book Review: The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
~ My Life According to Literature Meme
~ Favorite classics (so far)
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Meghan Nuttall Sayres
~ Book Review: Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
~ Whatcha Watchin’? Wednesday: Psych
~ Found in the pages of Bookmarks Magazine, September/October 2009 Issue
~ Book Review: Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
~ Monday’s Movie Review: Stop-Loss

Review: Kitchen Basics: Rules, Tools, and Etiquette – plus a terrific giveaway for homeschooling families!

August 30, 2009 Categories: Contests , Homeschooling | 4 Comments  

(Kitchen Basics: Rules, Tools, and Etiquette was provided to me by Ginger Kids for the purpose of review.)


Multicultural cooking company Ginger Kids’ Fun makes it simple for parents to get cooking with kids with their recently launched Kitchen Basics: Rules, Tools and Etiquette – a cookbook introducing children to the kitchen with delicious recipes that celebrate other cultures. These simple recipes let kids easily prepare meals such as Hungarian Crepes and Sushi rolls. Cartoon characters such as Jeffrey Referee, Anna Bandana and Nine Ballerina share tips throughout the book on cooking rules, tools and etiquette.

Kitchen Basics: Rules, Tools and Etiquette features:

~ The ABCs of Baking including important kitchen safety tips
~ Nutrition checklist
~ Cooking terms and tools
~ Measurement and common abbreviation table
~ Dinner table etiquette tips

This book has caused quite a bit of excitement at our house, and has made the kids want to help with dinner – which is a pretty cool thing! Jonathan was so excited to try some of the recipes that he even sat down and read all the ABCs of baking and safety tips and read through all the recipes to decide which one to try first. And he’s my “Aw, Mom, do I have to read?” kid.

The great thing about this book is that it isn’t just a cookbook; it also includes a lot of great information to get your kids familiar with the different utensils, measurements, and skills needed to follow any recipe.

Kitchen Basics: Rules, Tools, and Etiquette is available to purchase from Ginger Kids.

Now, for the really exciting part:

Passport to the World Membership Giveaway

Would you love to embark on a world adventure with your kids, without ever having to pack a suitcase? The Passport to the World Club from Ginger Kids Fun! is the perfect way to give your child an exciting, hands-on world adventure in the comfort of your home! By choosing one of two affordable monthly membership options, kids will have a blast cooking up new international cuisine, interacting with children from other cultures, learning new languages and more.

The monthly membership provides a fascinating view of the world by engaging the five senses. Children will experience a wide variety of activities in a magical, interactive online journey of each monthly destination. They will listen to a fun-filled musical tour of each cultural destination with a CD from Putumayo Kids. A hands-on cooking experience teaches kids to practice their creativity and imagination, and the result will fill their senses with delightful aromas and delicious flavors.

The Passport to the World Club membership will be available for purchase at starting September 2009. Memberships can be purchased on a month to month basis or as a twelve month VIP package. Sample destinations include Jamaica, Greece, Italy and Israel! Those that join the twelve month program will receive a FREE welcome package complete with Ginger Kids apron, Kitchen Basics: Rules, Tools & Etiquette cookbook binder, Cookbook binder with country tabs to store 12-months of recipes and a Ginger Kids Passport.

To celebrate the Passport to the World launch on 9/9/09, Ginger Kids Fun! is hosting ‘9 Days of Giveaways’ and is giving one lucky reader a three-month online membership. Kids will love the easy –to-navigate online portal providing an entertaining and educational platform to learn about different cultures. Watch a preview of the site here.

Doesn’t that sound terrific? I am really excited about this giveaway. Here are the details:

~ For one entry, leave a comment on this post.

~ For a second entry, post about this giveaway on your own blog, with a link to this post. Then come back and leave a comment with the link to your post for verification.

~ For a third and/or fourth entry, post this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook, and then leave a comment telling me which one you did.

~ All entries must be received by 11:59 pm PST, September 6, 2009. On Monday, September 7th, I will use to draw a winner. I will then forward the winner’s e-mail to GingerKids and they’ll contact the winner with information about signing on to their free membership.

Good luck!

Hannah Montana: The Movie – Winner!

August 22, 2009 Categories: Contests | 2 Comments  


Congrats to Karen, who wins the copy of Hannah Montana: The Movie! Please watch your e-mail so I can get your mailing info.

Winner of Jim Breuer: Let’s Clear the Air DVDs

July 31, 2009 Categories: Contests | 1 Comment  


Thanks to Click Communications, I actually have two copies of this DVD to give away. The lucky winners are:

Lisa and Matt Dolly

Congratulations! Please check your e-mails, as I will be contacting both of you for mailing info.