A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

Poetry Teatime 101

Amongst Lovely Things: Poetry Teatime Video Workshop

Don’t miss this informative and fun

Poetry Teatime Video Workshop!

WHAT: A live Poetry Teatime video workshop with Julie
WHEN: Wednesday, July 8th @ 12:30 Pacific
WHERE: Sarah Mackenzie’s Amongst Lovely Things

Just $5 to join–SIGN UP NOW

Image by Sarah Mackenzie

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Student Spotlight: Caleb!

Crossword writing activity

Hi Julie,

Here is an activity I did with my son. It is not one of the activities in Partnership Writing but similar to the one using words from magazines.

I had both my kids (11 and 13) each use a set of scrabble tiles to create their own crossword on the tabletop. Both enjoyed the activity. The sheer volume of words they considered during this project was staggering.

The next time, I only did the activity with my 11 year old reluctant writer. I used the other scrabble set and made a crossword as well.

When we had finished, I asked Caleb to use some of his words to write a few sentences or a poem or a paragraph. It didn’t matter how many he used as long as some of them were from the crossword. I also used some of my words to write a story.

Well, Caleb worked for about 2 and a half hours. I only expected him to work for a short while and write a few sentences. He became completely engrossed in the process. He challenged himself to use all the words.

I am amazed at what he produced compared to what he has ever written before.

He has revisited the story a couple of times and read it out loud to check the punctuation. He was keen to be the editor so I have left that to him.

Kindest regards,

The Trick

by Caleb

“Ah, so many options to choose from.” James said, “Wow!” he exclaimed, “This pot of rations has a bag of seeds and a batch of biscuits in it!”
“Hmm, it really is getting on isn’t it, I better get back to the inn to complete that exam.

Once he’d got to the inn however, his friends snuck in to his cabin to rig up a trap.
They unanimously voted on who was the one to lead James into the right spot. They individually wrote who they thought should do it on separate bits of paper and put it into a fez, out of some dress-ups they had found, and a name was then picked out. Once one was picked out Callum said, “It’s a pity that we have to tip a bucket full of water on his head, because he told me today that he used an awful lot of gel because his hair was sticking up like turkey feathers.” He was clearly trying to talk the others out of doing what they were planning because he had been voted to lead James. While he said this though, the boys weren’t focusing on what he was saying because they were trying not to laugh at his t-shirt because it was stretched so much at the bottom that it looked like a frock.

“Gee, that maths exam was super hard.” James exclaimed to himself. He had no idea what was in store for him. As he walked into the cabin he spotted Callum, “Hi James, I was just looking for you.” Callum said. Everything was ready. The bucket with the yoyo string attached was in place, so were the boys in the roof. They could look down into the room for there were no boards in the ceiling stopping them. The bucket was on a beam and the boys had the string attached to it, so that when they pulled the yoyo, the bucket went toppling. James hadn’t looked at anything above the clock on the wall, so hadn’t seen them squatting in the roof, so the boys thought. The truth being James had already worked out what they were doing, and had a plan of action.

“Come over here, I want to show you this rock I found.”
“Ok.” He said pretending to be interested. He started walking towards the spot where he knew the bucket was going to fall. As soon as he nearly got there he said in a hurried voice “Quick, there is the air-raid siren!” James started towards the exit, and as Callum was not the smartest of children, did so as well even though James had deliberately set him up. The bucket had already started falling, indicating the string had already been pulled, so by the time the water had got there, it wasn’t James, but Callum who was under it, and the water was all over his head. “I’ve never broken my jaw but that felt pretty close to it!” he cried out as soon as it had hit, “Plus, you guys are idiots.” He turned on his heel and out the door. There was an awkward silence only to be broken by either a frog or a toad croak, no one could tell. “Well, that was a flawed plan. Plus I’m surprised he never broken his jaw before he plays so much rugby league.” One of the friends said knowingly.

Image by Ngaire (text added)

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Friday Freewrite: Mealtime

child eating

Remember a mealtime that was filled with emotion–humor, anxiety, sadness. Retell it so that readers can see, hear, taste, and smell it as if they were there. Make them feel what it was like.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by andy carter (cc cropped, tinted)

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Adult Literature Class: A Room with a View

Room with view blog

Do you sometimes think to yourself: “I wish I could be in a literature discussion club with Brave Writer”? Problem solved!

Our first ever online literature discussion club for parents starts July 6th. We’ll discuss A Room with a View (EM Forster) and watch the Merchant and Ivory film as well (optional).

The purpose of the class is to not only sate your appetites for meaty lit discussion, but to also train you to have these kinds of robust conversations about literature with your budding teens! This class can be seen as an “in-service training” for your home education program—a way to grow in your lit discussing skills.

Plus, it will be a blast! Johannah is teaching it, but I’ll be lurking since this is my ALL TIME FAVORITE NOVEL.

Guided Literature Discussion: A Room with a View
July 6 – July 31, 2015
(4 weeks)


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Meet our 2015 summer interns!

We are fortunate to have five talented young adults as Brave Writer interns this summer, and you’ll be seeing them on the blog from time to time. You’ve already read Hannah’s lovely teatime post. We look forward to featuring all of our interns in the weeks and months to come!

Here are the 2015 Summer Interns:

Intern_AmyAmy Hughes took many Brave Writer classes during her homeschooling years. As a child, she started talking early and didn’t really stop. Now at university in her home country of New Zealand and studying German, English Language Linguistics, and Law, she still loves words. Writing (especially blogging), reading books, and talking to other people are her favorite kinds of activities.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Charlotte MeertWhen future historians refer to Charlotte Meert’s life, they’ll mention such things as, “She was born in France,” and “She ate excessive amounts of Nutella from the jar.” But they might miss out on the important aspects of her life, such as her utter obsession with the written word, and her appalling lack of skill with a pogo stick. It is to be hoped that her gleaming sense of humor and awkwardness in writing about herself third person are not overlooked. The year 1994 will always be remembered for having given birth to this oddball personality.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Finlay WorralloFinlay Worrallo is fifteen years old and lives in Swaledale, a beautiful valley in Britain. He enjoys reading books, writing stories, and watching Doctor Who. He loves studying languages, especially Spanish. People are always telling him how tall he is, which he’s heard before, and how good he looks in hats, which he likes to hear. He plans to write novels, act in plays, and travel the world when he’s an adult.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Hannah HayesHannah Hayes has spent the eighteen years of her life growing up in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She feels very fortunate to have received her writing instruction from Brave Writer, the place where writing becomes fun! Hannah hopes to study biology, English, and philosophy at a liberal arts college in pursuit of a medical degree. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, dancing, studying music, volunteering with the local garden club, and working as the page at her community’s library.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Vanessa ChebliHomeschooled from kindergarten through high school, Vanessa Chebli is currently a senior at American University in Washington, DC, majoring in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Writing is one of Vanessa’s passions, and Brave Writer was an integral part of cultivating that love throughout middle and high school. She is thrilled to be returning as one of their interns for the summer!


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Tuesday Teatime: Then and Now!

Poetry Teatime: Then and Now

Julie, I had to share this photo with you [above right] because I love seeing the photo of Anna on your Poetry teatime page complete with Anna painted teapots. She is nine at that teatime and waiting the arrival of her book group, self named by voting, Sunshine Fairy Readers. The girls meet monthly for five years each bringing their own book to share and talk about. Lots of laughing, lots of books, lots of fun.

Here Anna is today at 17 looking forward to re-reading Harry Potter this summer with guitar, french, photography, baking, and working one day a week for cash on her summer agenda.

Looking forward to her senior year of high school homeschooling at the area community college for the experience.

It was so much fun looking through the teatime photos from the past. So may children laughing and growing and just imagine what they are all doing today!! So precious as kids and so awesome as adults.

Also love our two kids in the teatime igloo photo. Match our igloo photo:

Poetry Teatime in an igloo!

To winter 2015:

Poetry Teatime: Then and Now

Thanks for holding our memories.

I can’t imagine the feeling if they ever get married and have kids of their own. I guess the key is to just ….. breathe.

So grateful,

Images by Kay (text added)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Your house is like theirs—imperfect!

You can't ensure your life will turn out how you plan

If there were one message I could send back to my younger self it would be this one:

You can’t ensure your life will turn out how you plan.

Every time I talk to a parent on the phone, every home I visit, I discover a recurring theme. Parents assume that they are not hitting a mark other parents are hitting. They believe that the struggles they have are being avoided successfully by other parents.

Yet every day, we hear evidence that that is, in fact, not true! The families most stringently attached to a specific model of loving and learning often fall the furthest, which then shocks us!

As my aunt (ethics professor) says, “Idealists are shocked a lot in life.”

No system saves you, no methodology protects you.

We are most sane and satisfied when we pay attention to the details of our current daily lives—not projecting ahead anxiously, not looking backward with regret.

What I mean is this: be more interested in the evidence presenting itself to you right before your eyes than in the strategy you believe will create the life you want. If your child is cranky and bored, wondering why the methods you trusted aren’t creating a happy creative child is not where to start. Blaming the child for not cooperating with the system you trusted is not useful.

Start with the child—what relieves and helps this child in this moment today? Open the possibilities wide—wider than the system or method or strategy that you expected to deliver “boredom free children.”

Avoid shame and blame.

Refuse self-recrimination.

Get with reality. Attend to today.

Pay attention to the people around you and consult them. Let them teach you what they need. Be open to being wrong and learning a new way—this one specific way for this one specific person in this one specific moment.

Be true to who you are, too! When you are relaxed and comfortable in your own skin and home, you are more able to trust that your family and life will teach you how to live together.

When tragedy strikes—that horrible thing that you didn’t count on—know that this isn’t the final sentence in your story. Your family may not have the happily ever after you counted on—it may instead develop resilience, depth, and perspective…and heart! (Psst: every family has tragedy they didn’t count on.)

You’ll be a comfort to others (aka: everyone) who go through the rapids and need a vision of what it means to hold on and survive.

The easiest way forward in your thirties is to attach to a system to help you navigate life (a kind of “life vision insurance plan”). The first thing you discard in your forties is the system that failed you!

So if you want a little tip to help you now—trust YOURSELF. You know more than you give yourself credit for… and what you know and are open to learn is more than enough to have a life that creates good in the world, and meaningful memories for all of you.

Image by woodleywonderworks (cc cropped, text added for social media)

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Friday Freewrite: Mud

Friday Freewrite: Mud

What if you had an alien pen-pal who’d always lived on a spaceship with no dirt, and she asked what mud is like. How would you describe it to her?

Also, June 29th is National Mud Day! If you’d like, you can share a mud story with others. Submit your writing here!

Image by Stephanie Sicore (cc)

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Student Spotlight: Megan Jula

Student SpotlightFormer Brave Writer student, Megan Jula, is a rising senior as a Journalism major at Indiana University!

Megan was one of five students chosen to participate in the 55th annual William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program’s writing competition.

She also had an article recently picked up by USA Today.

Image LinkedIn

Congratulations, Megan!

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Plan your routine now!

Plan your homeschool routine now

The Homeschool Alliance is about to spend all of July planning your coming school year. The emphasis of our work together will be different than your traditional “day planner” and “curriculum schedule.” Though we’ll look at your days, weeks, and months, we’ll do it from a different space that mere logistics (how to fit it all in). We’ll:

  • investigate who your kids are (each one) and what their natural aspirations and talents are.
  • examine the planned subject areas you intend to cover during the year.
  • discuss pace and routine, how to accommodate the busy extra-curricular life you have as well as your need for solid blocks of time to cover in depth studies.

Not only that, but we’ll take YOU into account as well! None of this works unless we have a realistic appraisal of your unique, important personality and parenting style. I’ll give feedback to all who post and help you make the necessary adjustments to get the routine that feels right to you. I’ll also provide resources or advice, if they are appropriate, to help you articulate and develop a plan.

By the end of July, you will have a solid sense of how to implement the tailor-made routine that takes all of you into account!

In addition to the month-long planning session, I’ll be available to Alliance Members for one-on-one Skype sessions for consultations (additional expense).

All of this for $24.95! You can sign up for just the one month, if you like, and read back through the last year’s worth of material and posts, too, to give yourself a big boost of energy as you enter the fall!

Join the 200+ parents who are already members! Find out why the Homeschool Alliance has become an essential source of support to their family lives and homeschool efforts.

I look forward to getting to know you!


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