And yet not a single photo of the mulberry faces

July 1, 2014 @ 6:32 pm | Filed under:

First: thanks to all who have chimed in on the Facebook/blogging/commenting/internet communities discussion. Your comments have kept my brain whirring all day. I could talk about this subject for ages.


Second: As I said in the comments a little while ago, one of my takeaways from this conversation is a more-enthusiastic-than-ever commitment to blogging, and an ensuing curiosity about what you would like to see in this space. I’ve written about how it serves as a valuable chronicle for my family (the older kids like to trawl the archives for stories about the hilarious things they said when they were younger), and I’d be lost without this site as a think-aloud journal for my reading and my enthusiasms both sudden and enduring.

I’ve had high and low tides of writing more outwardly focused kinds of posts. I think of the foreign language resource posts I’ve been writing lately as the outwardly focused kind: sharing something cool we’ve learned or experienced with the rest of the world, in hopes the information may be useful. That kind of blogging takes a bit more focus, a bit more time, but I really enjoy it and feel like it’s a way of giving back to the readers who are kind enough to make time for visiting here. If there are topics or resources you’d like my take on, please don’t hesitate to ask.

There’s another kind of post, the “let’s chat about this” kindโ€”like the Facebugged one, actually. Sarah E., I haven’t forgotten my promise to try a book discussion post for We Were Liars. I used to do open threads for books quite often and I’m not sure why I stopped! (Or when, for that matter.)


Third: Daily notes for the aforementioned chronicle. Went geocaching with friends at a park today and found a cache that had eluded us twice before. Flushed with success! Also picked and ate delectable mulberries right off an accommodating tree in the nature trails. Blue blanket, blue sky, green grass, purple mouths. Welcome, July.


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18 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Melanie B says:

    Well I’ve always found your chronicle posts to be my favorites. And the daily life in the homeschool nuts and bolts have always been invaluable as I’ve been writing about recently on my own blog. Though of course I do love your book posts. And the chatty posts where everyone chimes in about a topic.

  2. selvi says:

    I’d like your take on finding the right balance between exposure and protection for kids, in books and other media. Especially with different ages together.

  3. Melanie B says:

    And I’m sad not to see the mulberrry faces, though I know how easy it is to neglect to document that kind of thing. When I was a girl I had a friend who had a mulberrry tree in her front yard. and for whatever reason we were not supposed to eat the berries. Maybe they didn’t know enough about botany to know what the tree was and that the berries were safe to eat? But eat the berries we did and they were delightful. Especially so because they were forbidden and had an aura of danger. Were they really safe? It always seemed a bit risky. But we never knew what they were called. It was only in retrospect as an adult that I worked out they must have been mulberries.

  4. sarah says:

    I vote for high tide AND low tide, for focus AND drifting. The tidal description for homeschooling changed my whole perception of education, and infact of many aspects of life. I think it perfect that your weblog should reflect this natural sway.

  5. Melissa Wiley says:

    Sarah: ๐Ÿ™‚ The tidal metaphor really helped me, too, to understand my own nature. Waves of intense enthusiasm and creative energy alternating with mellow lulls for observation, thought, skygazing. What the Waldorf folks would call times of breathing out and breathing in, I suppose.

    Melanie, the funny thing about the mulberries is that I had my phone (ergo camera) in my hand the whole time! Open to the geocaching app’s compass. Didn’t even cross my mind to swipe over to the camera. I was too enchanted by the purple mouths–and too intent on stuffing my own. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love your learning notes posts. Those daily-life glimpses are among my favorite kinds of internetting, always.

  6. Penny says:

    I love the variety. Your HT/LT posts changed my life, so I delight in them, but really, your books posts, day-to-day, things overheard, the garden, I love it all – and I’m so glad you share it, because the way you present it all is so very interesting and honest and… well, I’m a fan.

  7. Ellie says:

    Well, you know, mainly, just: don’t stop blogging?


    I truly do miss your generalized homeschooling/mothering/daily life posts. That’s how i got to know you, and it’s ‘who’ i got to know, if you follow me … I understand completely the mixed feelings and changes surrounding blogging the life of older kids. But you’ve still got the younger set you’re homeschooling? But their daily doings don’t get written of in the same way as the older girls’ were, years back — please don’t take this as a criticism! It’s more of a curious/query, i think, on my part. I’ve wondered if that change in how you blog and what you blog has less to do with the older girls being ‘too old’ to be blogged about, and more to do with you simply not being in that headspace anymore. I mean in terms of sharing the daily homeschooling life, you know?

    I hope i’m making sense. Please tell me if i’m not?

    But like i say, i love you and am always thrilled to see a post and catch up on whatall you’re thinking and doing and reading and watching and etc! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Erin says:

    On sort of the same subject (and not to hijack your thread, but it’s something I’ve been wondering about) what about those homeschooling blogs? Or blogs that mention homeschooling sometimes. I worry about people coming and seeing maybe a post or two a month that mentions homeschooling and getting the idea that there isn’t much in the way of volume of “school” work done around here and then modeling their journey on that sliver of ours. Because I know that there are people who come to my site hoping to get a sense of what it’s even like to live the homeschooling life. I want to be able to give them that sense, but don’t want to bore people to tears with “Today there was handwriting. Today memorized more multiplication tables.” It is, as you say, just the rhythm of our lives and not really noteworthy to me as much anymore.

    But I don’t want people thinking that either we don’t do anything, because I never mention it, or that it’s all made up of the fun and noteworthy stuff. And I do feel a responsibility to people (mostly whom I know from face-to-face life (what can we call it to differentiate it from online life?)) especially when they’re taking those first few steps in the homeschooling direction and want to know what it’s like and how I feel about it. Our writings can, as your tidal homeschooling posts and the ripples they’ve caused show, have a profound effect on the way people live their lives. They can be permission, or inspiration, consolation, or an excuse. I think of all the times I’ve said, “Well, (blogger) does it and it works out for her…” and like/hate to think whether anybody’s saying that about me.

    I want to say that there’s no difference between saying something online and saying it in real life, that the effect we have on others is the same no matter where we interact, but I don’t think it really is. What I said years ago can still come up with a few keywords and somebody can be reading it and hearing how impassioned I was about it then, whether or not I feel the same way now. I wonder whether we cut each other more slack in face-to-face conversations, because we can see each other and know that we’ve grown and changed. Words we’ve written seem a little more etched in stone, so to speak. And I wonder what you think about all this.

    You’re one of those bloggers who’s had a huge effect on the way that I parent and teach, so I’m really really thankful that you took/take the time to write down big thoughts and little events along your journey. Because I’m grateful for that, I wonder what it’s my responsibility to do in return. I don’t have it all figured out, for sure, and I’m hesitant to lead others down unhelpful paths.

    ALSO, did not mean to make you squirm with my exploration of efficient friendship. I was trying to feel around its edges, not condemn you, ever. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Melissa Wiley says:

    Okay, wow, I’m loving this conversation too! Erin, first–making people (or me at least) squirm can be a good thing; makes me examine and that’s something I always appreciate. (Sooner or later. Sooner, in this case.) ๐Ÿ™‚

    You and Ellie raise a good question. Why did I write about methods so voluminously six, seven, eight years ago and not now? I’ve pondered some aspects of this…grappled with it last year when I tried the separate, more private homeschooling blog. Found it too hard to maintain two spaces for discussion. (Not the first time that’s happened. I’ve had about six iterations of less-public blog over the years, and none endured. Seems it’s Bonny Glen or bust.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I remember making a conscious decision at one point to dial back the methods posts because I kept feeling like I had to explain myself over and over—to my radical unschooling friends on the one hand and my highly structured friends on the other. I would say that’s a big difference between then and now. I don’t feel like I have to defend or justify my educational choices to anyone. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do what works and try new stuff when it doesn’t. <-- There you go, my educational philosophy in eleven words. But--but--I can see, of course, that *knowing what works* is the advantage of the experienced mom. (Even my urge to qualify the phrase--knowing what works *for these kids* *with these parents* *at this time*-- is an attitude born of experience.) So I get that. I've shifted from that place of needing to articulate my methods in order to define them; but now, well, they're pretty well defined and I could probably say a lot about them. It's certainly something to think about. *** As for the family chronicle/ book notes / gardening etc posts -- I can't imagine ever *not* blogging that way. It's in my blood now. Sometimes I click randomly from year to year through the posts that show up in my "you might also like" widget and I'm JUST SO GRATEFUL to the me of 2007, 2010, 2005, 2012. I'd have lost most of those funny kid stories if it hadn't been for this blog. Even now I forget the best lines a day later, if I don't write them down. (The Rilla line about "artifacts too fragile to be touched." I had toothpaste dripping out of my mouth when I ran to the computer, two seconds after she drifted out of the room, to get it down.)

  10. Ellie says:

    Erin, you ask such great questions!

    Part of what happens, of course, is that any writer will change over time. And this is good and normal. But what you ask, here, this is a really good question …. “On sort of the same subject (and not to hijack your thread, but itโ€™s something Iโ€™ve been wondering about) what about those homeschooling blogs? Or blogs that mention homeschooling sometimes. I worry about people coming and seeing maybe a post or two a month that mentions homeschooling and getting the idea that there isnโ€™t much in the way of volume of โ€œschoolโ€ work done around here and then modeling their journey on that sliver of ours. Because I know that there are people who come to my site hoping to get a sense of what itโ€™s even like to live the homeschooling life. I want to be able to give them that sense, but donโ€™t want to bore people to tears with โ€œToday there was handwriting. Today memorized more multiplication tables.โ€ It is, as you say, just the rhythm of our lives and not really noteworthy to me as much anymore.”.

    When i first began blogging in 2006 mine was definitely an all homeschooling blog. I had a teenager and two tiny tots and just chatted about our days …. A lot like the way Melanie B does now. I loved that era of my life; I loved blogging that way … My comm box wasn’t the chattiest place, but I had quite a large readership …. A lot of changes happened over the years. My eldest became an adult. My personal (completely off-blog) life changes significantly. I began blogging about my yarden ๐Ÿ™‚ And then God ๐Ÿ™‚ And i created a new blog, where at first I didn’t write about homeschooling anymore really at all. I wrote about faith, and flowers really. And then the brain tumor happened four years ago. So once again my blog shifted: now to matters of health, disability, struggle. The yarden, too, still, but also — and this was interesting, suddenly i began writing about homeschooling again. Writing about it quite a lot actually.

    So now my blog is roughly equal parts faith, health and disability, homeschooling, with some book and yarden natter thrown in. But you know what i find interesting? My LessonLog posts, and my BookLog posts generate hardly any comment. Ever. So, I guess i figure i’m writing those mainly for myself. I don’t get the impression that a whole lot of homeschooling parents read my blog — except for those few who make their presence known by commenting. Even then, I don’t think they ever (?) converse regarding homeschooling! Once a year, or two?!

    I think the entire culture of homeschooling blogging has shifted considerably these last handful of years. In a way, i think it’s a pity. On the other hand, we homeschooling mothers who are blogging — I guess if readers aren’t interacting with us, how much responsibility to we have, to make sure that we present an accurate/realistic homeschooling life on our blogs? Do you know what I mean? I’m sure i’m rambling again, but I really liked your question and i wanted to try to speak to it …

  11. Erin says:

    Funny thing is, the parents I’m talking about are those who are least likely to comment when they do come to my blog. They’re new to my space, so they don’t feel comfortable enough yet to be sure they’re not asking something that’s already been extensively answered, point out something that’s obvious to all my regulars, etc. They’re standing in the corner watching for a while before deciding whether they want to engage. So do we have two types of parents who homeschool? Those who don’t know enough to ask questions, and those who are so into it/over it that they don’t have anything to say?

  12. Ellie says:

    Strictly from the diarist perspective — I write about my life because i … Write about my life. LOL i love having the record of the days and the stories — as Lissa mentions — so i, personally, i still write about it. All of it.

    But yes, yes i understand what you are saying, and was actually coming back to try to address it.

    Do we have a responsibility, as homeschooling-parent-bloggers to write about our homeschooling lives in a certain way? To openly discuss how we live? To being transparent? Like, politicians? Weeeeel ….. I dunno. I think our first responsibility is to ourselves and our families and to whatever our own personal ethical standards are re: sharing our lives online.

    If i were writing a For Pay column on homeschooling that would be different. Completely different.

    I think that if any of us feel called to reach out to newer homeschooling parents, via our blogs, then we should absolutely do that. And maybe one way to do so is to write very openly about the daily nitty-gritty. I don’t know that there’s an inherent obligation to do so, however. And even if we do, it might not result in more comments, or different sorts of comments. And maybe that’s not even the goal. I referenced readership and comments in my last comment here …. These days i’ve got maybe a third the readership, by numbers, compared to my original homeschooling blog circa 2006-08. I don’t tend to think about it a whole lot. And i could be wrong, but i guess i figure i don’t have many homeschool readers? I see, here and there, lots of chatter about how there just aren’t many blogger who write about homeschooling their older kids but … I do. **shrug** ๐Ÿ™‚

    For the record, i’d be thrilled to chat about homeschooling on my blog! I’d be more than happy to answer questions, discuss this and that. But nobody asks, whether i write homeschooling posts or not, so it doesn’t happen.

  13. Ellie says:

    PS my kids are 12 and rising 15, both homeschooling at the high school level.

  14. Penny says:

    PS: I forgot to mention the Downton Abbey posts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your take on them is why I even bother to watch it at all!

  15. Willa says:

    I like a lot of different types of blogs, but what I think draws me to my favorites is a topic I am interested in + an individual perspective. There has been a trend towards professionalization in the blogosphere and I am sure it meets a need, but I prefer reading the ones that are amateur in the best sense — in that they are done for love of writing about a topic, whether it’s homeschooling or hiking or whatever. My favorites of your posts have been such an eclectic variety that I would have trouble settling on just one type. I do love the meta-social-media ones and the homeschooling/parenting commentary but I also remember some tiny little descriptions of ordinary life and some curriculum recommendations that have also made a difference.

  16. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ellie, your Lesson Logs posts are among my favorite things you write and I always read those with great interest, often revisiting them later to reread your notes on a particular book. I don’t know why I don’t comment on them more often! But then, one of my takeaways from this week’s conversation is a determination to be a better commenter. I love blog culture and want it to thrive.

    Willa writes: “There has been a trend towards professionalization in the blogosphere and I am sure it meets a need, but I prefer reading the ones that are amateur in the best sense โ€” in that they are done for love of writing about a topic, whether itโ€™s homeschooling or hiking or whatever. “

    Me too–the writing that bubbles out of a passion for the subject and an irrepressible desire to share. Not that that can’t be the case on monetized blogs, too, but I do think an obligation to advertisers or employers can mesh uncomfortably with writing about one’s personal life and family.

  17. Ellie says:

    Lissa, i’m so glad to know that! Thank you. I actually really enjoy writing them. Most of my comments do come from the circle of friends i’ve built up over the years: and so in comment threads we often wander off and just chat about whatever is going on, as opposed to what I wrote about in that specific post … I mean, it does vary, but that’s the tendency. And maybe that in itself is off putting for a newer reader in terms of them leaving a comment of their own.

    Anyway. We’ve discussed on other occasions the challenges that arise in terms of commenting. Maybe we’re reading but just too tired or distracted to leave a comment. And we know how hard it can be from a mobile device … And so we mean to come back later, but, you know: life ๐Ÿ™‚

    I definitely miss some of my old favorite blogs who, for whatever reason, began blogging more to advertisers and sponsors and such and so no longer have many (or any) posts that are the gentle, family life / personal musings, but instead are written to sell or to fulfill an obligation. (I’m not trying to be critical or judgmental here: i just miss those ladies, is all).