I keep forgetting how many people go to public school in today's America.
I've had the privilege of being homeschooled for 10 years. The missing two years were my freshman and sophomore years of high school, during which I went to a tiny private school. But I tend not to think about those years, although I met some wonderful people there. But I prefer homeschool.
For the rest of you average humans who are probably wondering what the heck homeschooling is like, look no further for someone to answer your questions.
There are many types of homeschooling, but I've always followed a more traditional route. Meaning I get up and do school first thing in the morning. Lots of people sleep in and do their work in the afternoons or evenings, or only work a few days a week. Not me.
I usually start my work between 7:45 and 8:00, simply because I don't have anything better to do after breakfast. At 8:30, I walk my dog with my grandmother and call it P.E. Afterwards, I come home and finish my five subjects around noon.
And what do I do with my extra time, you ask? Well, I babysit for a homeschool co-op every Tuesday morning. I play volleyball, and I'm on the youth worship team. I also write (obviously) and crochet when I feel like it. And like all teenagers, I spend a little more time on YouTube than is good for me.
One of the most common complaints non-homeschoolers have with homeschooling is the lack of socialization. I have planned activities outside of the house every day except Sunday and Monday and meet plenty of people at said activities, thank you. (And for the record, I don't think that sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day is very social, either.) Most homeschoolers attend church or a co-op, or both. My entire volleyball team is made up of homeschooled girls.
"But what happens," you might object, "when a homeschooler gets to college? Don't they explode from all the pressure?" Well, while I'm not in college yet, I can tell you something. There might be something to this. College might be super stressful for some ex-homeschoolers. But if you were homeschooling right, you're self-motivated by the time you get to college. You know how to accomplish tasks quickly, because you always wanted that extra bit of time on your PS4 back in grade school. And it's been proven, homeschoolers are pretty intelligent.
And don't even get me started on open-book tests.....
Were you homeschooled? Do you have any questions for a professional homeschooler? I'd love to answer them--just put them in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
Ye who read M.J.’s books probably haven’t met me yet. But that’s alright. My name’s Caitriona, and it’s a pure pleasure to meet ye.
While I live in the Norse village on St. Anne’s Cleft, I’m not Norse by blood. I was brought here against my will, by a man who’s not the full shilling, but all’s well. I’ve a few people in my life who make living here a pure joy.
Right after I came to this island, my new nephew Drostan decided that he, singlehandedly, would teach me how to be Norse. The lad was ten years old, seven years without a mum, and I couldn’t help but humor him. I remember the day he led me down the streets, determined to make a Norsewoman out of me.
“You use a lot of words that none of us understand,” he said to me, as we walked down the wood-paved streets. “If I look at you like this—” and he gave me a confused look that nigh made me laugh at him—“It’s because we don’t know that word.”
I suppose I’d already used a number of Irish terms, like ‘knackered’ and ‘gomey’ and ‘haymes’ and ‘eejit’ that no one quite understood. But Drostan kept walking, and I was content to follow him.
“Do we use words that you don’t understand?” he asked me.
“One of the sailors said that I was ‘yelling at the moose’ on the trip here,” I said. “What did he mean by that?”
Drostan made a face. “It means you were seasick.”
Faith, I was glad I’d a wee lad to ask embarrassing questions to. I couldn’t stand asking a grown person the same things.
“Do you know how to make mittens and cook skouse?” Drostan asked.
“I’m not sure what skouse is, dear heart.”
“It’s just soup. But it’s really good, because it cooks for a long time. Perchance Mrs. McKenzie can teach you. She’s really good at cooking.”
Drostan knocked on a longhouse door, and it was opened by a kind-looking woman who spoke Norse to him. I tried to smile, but I took a step backwards.
“Don’t worry, Miss Caitriona,” Drostan said. “This is the tailor’s wife, Geirhild. She’s going to get you a new dress.”
“I’m not needing a new dress,” I tried to object, but between Drostan and Geirhild, I was pulled inside and got asked a fierce lot of questions. Most of them were in Norse, and I looked helplessly at Drostan for a translation.
Drostan explained a few things to Geirhild and her family, and their words turned more sympathetic. The tailor himself, who seemed to be named Njord, talked to me in broken Gaelic and explained that the new dress was a gift. I wouldn’t be needing to pay for it.
I’ve been in far too many strange situations since then. But I’ve always found it nice to have a friend by my side and a prayer in my heart, even if my friend is a ten-year-old lad. In parliament meetings, I’ve found the wife of a visiting chief and stuck by her side. At the Norse pagan celebrations, it’s always Edana McKenzie who will sit in a corner with me and trade knitting patterns. And it’s a pure joy to know that, no matter what the circumstances, we can always find a friend to share them with.
Hopefully, by now, you've realized that I've posted a short story on my blog. It came in six installments and was titled "Tales of an Overactive Imagination."
Well, I regret to inform you that this short story is over.
You, as a reader, have a wonderful power. Your power is down below in the comment section. In said comment section, you have the power to influence what I do next.
Would you like to read another short story? Do you want something set in The Overactive Imagination, or something completely different?
So please, comment below and tell me what you'd like. I'll respond as soon as I can! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
So I watched half an episode of Sherlock, and while I don’t care for the adult content, I simply loved the way Sherlock deduced things. So I’ll try my hand at deciphering things about people. To make things easy (and to see how correct I am), I’ll start with my own desk. Here’s a brief overview of my (messy) desk:
To the left of the desk is a glasses-holder (that’s currently full of junk), two books, and a pair of scissors. There’s also a Swiss army knife and a volleyball picture dated 2015.
To the right are three skeins of yarn, a mostly-empty water bottle, a Teeny Ty fox, and about fifty pages of a manuscript. There’s also a small whiteboard, with the words “clean,” “blog,” and “Selah” written in red ink, with “Get ready 4 Selah!” written in green ink in the top corner.
On the hutch of the desk is a pencil holder, a glass award, an unused monitor, two figurines of children on swings, three books, and a radio.
And they say a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind….
Let’s first look at the library books. Their titles are The Confession of Brother Haluin and Dead Man’s Ransom, both by Ellis Peters. A quick peek inside proves that they’re library books, and the way the pages feel as I ruffle them through my fingers makes me think they’ve been there for a while. It seems I’m right—the first date recorded in The Confession of Brother Haluin is April 21, 1989.
Sherlock would probably be able to look at these books and say that I’m a fan of natural medicine or that I have an interest in studying Catholicism. But if I’d found these books on a random person’s desk, I’d simply note that they’re experienced and voracious readers.
On to the yarn. There are three skeins in three different colors—gray, off-white, and green of a light and pleasant shade, almost what one would expect clouds to be if they were green. There’s a half-finished project attached to the green. It’s a modified Granny square, with a slightly-open pattern that would be rather inconvenient for a dishrag. So I’ll assume it’s either a hot pad or an afghan square in the making—or that the artist doesn’t know that an open pattern makes for a very inconvenient dishrag.
What does it say about the desk’s owner? They’ve got a nice, muted taste in colors and crochet rather tightly. The edges of the square are curling inwards. And they’ve also been crocheting for quite some time, because the stitches are fairly uniform.
And the whiteboard—it looks like the remains of a to-do list. But what—or who—is Selah? It’s either company who’s fixing to arrive or an event, because it’s something the desk’s owner needs to “get ready” for. And since the rest of the room is a mess, I’d say it’s an event.
So there we have it: this desk belongs to a crocheting bookworm who’s probably a home-loving introvert, because she reminded herself of this “Selah” event twice. And that much about me is true! (And in case you’re wondering, Selah is the name of a small group that meets at my house.)
What does your desk say about you? If you tell me what’s on your desk, I’ll try to make a Sherlock-style deduction about the type of person you are! (Admit it, it’ll be funny to watch me fail.) God bless you, dear reader, and don’t forget to like us on Facebook!
At first, I panic. Why is The Author here--and, more importantly, how did she get here? She didn't come through the door. But it's her Imagination. I guess she can do whatever she wants.
"You doing okay?" she asks.
I really can't say anything.
The Author sits down next to me. "Listen...I know you're upset. I would be, too. But I'm a writer. My job is to mess with people's emotions."
"So you make me lose an arm?" I demand.
"No," The Author says. "I make my readers love you, and they hate it when they see you suffering. They feel sympathy towards you."
"But you don't feel any of that."
The Author smiles. "I promise, I do. I understand if you're mad at me. Alynn hated me for the longest time, until she realized I dealt with my own problems."
I snort. "You don't have problems."
"Not many of them, not anymore," she admits. She stares at the black wall for a moment. "I used to have this really intense--I'm sorry. I'm bad at comforting people. I talk too much."
"And you're loud."
"I'm Italian." The Author smiles for a second, then leans in close to me. "I'll tell you a secret: I hate sad endings. So trust me when I say everything will work out. And, hey--let's go do a scene. I'll show you how things will work out, okay? Can you trust me?"
I stare at the floor for a while, but I sigh and look up. "I guess."
The Author bounces up and walks right through the door. "Great! Come on!" Before I know it, the scene's started.
I can't do much around camp with only one arm. I'm even having a hard time petting K9-7H, because he's especially frisky. He's been really nice to me lately. Everyone--Alliance and Bri the medic and Peter the robotics nerd guy and Captain Israel the leader--they've all been really nice to me. And even though I know it's just because of my arm, it's still nice to know that Alliance can be kind when she wants to be.
I look up to see Alliance, and I smile. I don't think I've smiled in a long time. "Hey," I say back.
Alliance acts just like I think a mom would, brushing some blonde hair out of my face and smiling. "How's your arm doing?"
"It's okay." I guess it's kind of like any injury--you start getting used to it after a while. Besides the fact that I can't do anything, I've almost forgotten about it. But it still hurts a little, even the part that isn't there anymore, which is basically my entire arm. I'm amazed at how I can still think I feel it. Right now, my brain is telling me that my elbow's twisted the wrong way.
Alliance smiles. "Well, everyone's been working on a surprise for you...."
I gasp. "A new dog?"
"A suit of armor with air conditioning?"
Alliance's smile grows wider. "Better!"
"Come on, Lyah, tell me!"
And then, over her shoulder, I see Peter and Bri, carrying something wrapped in fabric. "I can't promise this will work, but I'll keep working on it if it doesn't," Peter promises, setting something long and made of metal in my lap. I can't breathe when I see it. It's an arm. A new, metal arm. It's perfect.
I'm too excited to say thank you, so I just squeal and hug Peter. I think Alliance is crying because she's happy. I sit back down and let Bri and Peter mess with the stump of a shoulder I have left. It hurts.
"Now, I don't want you to freak out," Peter continues, "but if this thing works right, it'll be controlled by the electrical impulses your brain sends. You'll be able to move just like your natural arm--"
Something pokes me. "Ow!" I cry.
"You're alright," assures Bri.
Now that I've found my tongue, I get to say, "Thank you! Thank you all, I'm so excited!"
"We figured," says Peter. Bri wraps a strap around my chest to hold my new arm in place, then flips a switch.
"There you go, Allegiance!" she announces. I hear a whirring noise, and I look down to see that my left arm is moving. It's moving. It's moving! I squeal again from excitement and fly into another round of thanking everybody.
Suddenly, the Setting gets shut off, K9-7H disappears, and my arm returns to its previous, non-amputated state. I can't move it, but it doesn't bother me anymore.
I glance over at The Author. She's sitting on nothing in a corner, smiling at me as she closes her laptop. Her hair's a mess. "I told you I can't stand sad endings," she says.
I smile back at her. "You were right."
The Author's about to say something back, but she stops and shouts, "Coming, Mom!" And then, without warning, she disappears.
It's her imagination. I guess she can do whatever she wants to.
Writers get advice all the time. "Use fewer adjectives," someone says. "Never use 'said,'" says--*ahem*--asserts someone else. But then, when the big-name writers come out and say to never use anything but "said" as a dialogue tag, you can understand where the confusion comes in.
One piece of advice that writers get a lot is "Write what you know." Okay. That sounds simple enough, because I've had plenty of exciting experiences! I can write about homeschooling and trips to the Shed Aquarium and how the toddler I was babysitting put popcorn in the watering can--
But wait. These kinds of things don't make for the greatest stories. I can write a memoir, but not a novel, and definitely not a series.
But in this video (youtu.be/1rMnzNZkIX0), Pete Docter (who directed Monsters, Inc. and a few other Pixar movies) talks about what it really means to write what you know. He said to take emotions, not events, that you have an intimate knowledge of. For example, I am chronically task-oriented. So when Alynn declared "I work or I die," I was writing what I knew.
And this emotional charge is really what gives a book its oomph. For example, I'll take a story I've been working on called "Find Me" (it's available on Wattpad if anyone's interested). If it were just another stereotypical Indian-and-pioneer romance novel, it wouldn't get very far. But the protagonist, Running Horse, is constantly wavering between wanting a friend and wishing she'd never see another human being again. That basically sums up what it's like to be a social introvert--aka, me.
Emotions show through your writing. I could write something about first-world problems and city slickers, and only two emotions would show: sarcasm and apathy. It wouldn't be my intention. But it would happen just the same, because I've neither lived in a large city nor understood why anyone would want to.
But if I were to write about small-town people, readers would be drawn to my characters--and my writing--because there's that extra hint of passion. In a way, emotions creep through the pen of a writer almost subconsciously. They are then transferred to the mind of the reader, who is enchanted by the writer's work and has a desire to read more of it.
If you want to express that one emotion that's been burning inside of you, why not write a short scene in the comments? I'd love to read it! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
"Hey there, Alli. It's time to wake up, now."
"Go away," I mutter to Allegiance. I try to push her away, but she just holds onto me closer. I'm pretty sure the Setting's turned off now, but my arm still hurts. I don't want to look at it. I don't want to think about it, either, but I do. How? How can I lose an arm? How is The Author this mean to me? I'm a good character! I don't distract her like Erik does. She's even said she likes me! I try to rub the tears away from my eyes, but nothing happens.
"Don't move," Alliance's voice says. "You're okay, Allegiance. The Setting's turning off, you have your arm back. You're fine."
I open my eyes to glare at her, but I see that she's been crying. I reach out to touch her, but nothing happens. "I thought you said I had my arm back!" I shout.
"You do," Alliance promises. "You don't have muscle control yet. You'll be just fine in a few seconds, alright?"
I look away from her. I see Alynn, and Tarin, and Lukas and Selah. I scowl at them, and a few more tears leak from the corners of my eyes. For a moment, I wonder why they've never lost a limb, and a strange anger consumes me.
Alynn kneels next to me and puts a gentle hand on my shoulder. I want nothing more than to push her away. "Are you hurtin'?" she asks.
"Lukas and Selah made you some tea--"
"I don't want it!"
A hurt look comes into Alynn's eyes, and I remember she has feelings, too. Suddenly, I can move my arm again. I look at it and start crying. Alynn and Alliance make a hug sandwich with me in the middle, and gradually, all the anger and frustration and pain melt away and get replaced with a cold emptiness.
"I'm sorry, guys," I whisper.
"Don't worry," Alynn says. She smiles. "I know what it's like to be fierce mad at The Author. But I also know that she's a fan of happy endings. You needn't get yer heart crossways about anything."
"Translation?" Alliance asks.
"Don't be frightened. She'll work everythin' out."
"How?" I demand. "How can anything work out when I'm a one-armed freak? Kids won't like me anymore."
"I'll still like you," Alynn promises. "And Tarin--" She looks at her little brother, but he clings a little tighter to Lukas's arm. "He'll still like you, too. Won't you, Tarin? Come here."
"I won't," Tarin declares. "Ye're being girly-girls and crying everywhere."
I smile, but I still feel cold and empty on the inside. "Thanks for trying, Alynn. I'll be in my room."
"Do you want the tea?"
I know I've felt alone before, but I don't remember it hurting this much. And at the same time, I can't stand being around other people. I just want to think, and to sort things out. I go to the small, black-painted room that's the only place I have any privacy in The Imagination. There, I sit on the edge of my bed, look at my left arm, and think.
Or rather, I don't think. I just sit, and feel this strange, cold, numb feeling grow inside me.
Suddenly, I remember Alliance. I remember that she called me Alli, which she never does, and also that she hugged me. I can't remember the last time someone hugged me without me asking them first. Alliance spends so much time acting the way I feel on the inside--cold and distant. I've heard the word aloof somewhere. It sounds like her.
Then, from somewhere, the thought hits me that maybe she's felt like this. I know she's never lost an arm, but she lost our parents. I was just a baby, and we lived in Estonia, when our house got caught in the middle of terrorist crossfire. Mom, Dad, and my sister Analecta all died. Alliance was five. She'd remember all this. She probably remembers something other than being raised by various government agencies, and I wonder if losing your family is worse than losing an arm.
And maybe, just maybe, that's why she turned out the way she did.
I'm interrupted from my thoughts by a declaration of "Hey."
I jump, and I look up to see The Author Herself.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.