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The 12 Posts of Lit Mama-Wrapping Up 2015

I have had a fantastic year with you, my lovely readers.  So much has happened, and so many wonderful friendships have been made, and my muses (Big, Middle, and Littlest) keep growing so that it is hard for me to continue calling them Littles.  When you’re youngest is looking at 11, they aren’t so little anymore.  In fact, no one asked for toys this Christmas.  I had a hard month, not just figuring out what on Earth to put in their stockings, but dealing with the fact that I’ll never have my own Little running around the house ever again.  Hard times, indeed.  But watching them stretch toward being young men is its own reward, so I’m ready to settle into this new phase and enjoy it before it blinks by, too.

Lit Mama 2015

Writing this blog has been a blessing for me.  I am nothing if not a mother, a writer, a teacher.  Getting to share my ideas and regrets, my joys and my pitfalls, with so many wonderful people has been an outlet I cherish and hope to continue to cherish for years to come.  Some of you may be new to the Lit Mama Homeschool (in fact, if this is your first visit, let me welcome you with open arms), and you may have missed some of the more popular posts from 2015.  Some of you may have been too busy to catch some of the good stuff.  So here are the 12 best Fires I Started When You Weren’t Looking from the past year.  I hope you enjoy them. (I think you’re still able to comment on them, too, so feel free to do so if you have something interesting to add!)



If you’re anything like me, you know that January is a busy time for homeschooling.  Sometimes we’re vamping up the schedule. Sometimes we’re starting over.  Sometimes we are just knee-deep in it and trucking along.  Whatever the case, it’s busy.  My January post How Do You Homeschool? covers most of that, along with scheduling and my own struggles with homeschool-envy… Yeah, I have that!


February is the Love Month, right?  But this past February I ran into an old acquaintance and the experience was, well… Awkward?  Uncomfortable?  Mildly enraging?  A teachable moment for the Lit Mama.  Anything but love!  Read all about it in What to Do When.  And take the advice at the end… it’s better for all of us. 🙂


March is the time, around here, when we start poking our heads out from under the covers and shaking off the long winter sleep.  Last March was no exception for us. Take a look at Marvelous Meandering Homeschool.  The post was wildly popular because it’s about all the amazingly good reasons we homeschool and might just remind you why you do it, too.  Or convince you to give it a try.


April means it’s time to fish here in Indiana, which means a whole new set of learning experiences for the boys.  Read about them in Lessons from Dad, which might also give you a little clue as to just how in love with my husband I really am.  (It’s a lot.  Like, high-school-crush-come-true big.  I’m a ridiculous puddle around him.  But then, he deserves that kind of love.)


Ever wondered why I sign all my posts ‘Love wins?’  There are really good reasons for it, and I tell you all about them in May’s post Love wins.  Plus, if you really want to get to know me, that post is all kinds of insightful about the Lit Mama.  I mean, I guess I could just admit to being a big geek right here, but it’s not quite the same!



Another insight into life for the Lit Mama appears in June’s post This Crazy Cool Country Life.  I was city-born and -raised, so I’m kind of a newbie country girl.  But that just means I get to appreciate it more.  This post is a tour around our farm and lists all the reasons it’s great for homeschooling.  Enjoy the pics!


We have had a Very Rainy year this year here in Indiana.  In fact, while snow is usually a threat this time of year, we have had an unusually warm December and it has rained since Christmas Eve (almost nonstop), and our rivers are once more flooded along with our yards and fields.  July was like that for almost the Whole Month.  So I posted 11 Awesome Activities to Do in the Rain.  They are summer suggestions.  But I dunno, I may have to come up with some winter activities.  Number One:  Be grateful it’s warm and this isn’t 6 feet of snow.


One of the absolute most popular posts on this blog Ever, let alone in 2015, was Easy Peasy Homeschool P.E.  It has some great, fun suggestions for incorporating physical activity into your homeschool day.  Sometimes it’s hard to come up with things on our own, so read this post if you’re struggling with how to get your littles active.  (My littles who are now big tend to groan these days when I break out the dice–but they know better than to refuse to play!)


Another wildly popular Lit Mama Post was September’s Make the Coolest Solar System Model Ever.  We’ve had this model hanging in our classroom for years, and it really is incredible.  We added each planet to the model as we studied it, so the Littles have no problem remembering which planet is where.  If you want to have a lasting solar system model that your littles will continue to use, check out the post.  And let me know how your own models turn out!


For more about my personal journey, check out October’s post, Homeschooling with Hypothyroidism.  And once you’ve read that, come back here and read that since I wrote that post I HAVE LOST 25 POUNDS.  I am super stoked about this, and intend to share that journey with you, too.  Once I’ve lost a bit more.  So I can really wow you with my unprecedented success.month-november-autumnNovember

In November, I posted about reading Dickens for Christmas.  The post has a lot of great ideas about guiding your little homeschoolers through classic novels.  Plus, it gives you a little insight into my Dickens obsession.  Well, a little more insight.  I tend to write about it A Lot.


It’s been a slow month for Lit Mama posts.  December usually is.  It’s such a busy time of year for all of us, right?    I honestly didn’t have much to choose from this month.  I hope I’ve not let you, my beautiful readers, down too much, but you should know by now that my kids always come first, before Anything and Everything, and December is a month for them.  I hope you forgive me.  Even so, I wrote this post about Composer Charts that might give you an idea for studying composers or any lesson in your homeschool.

If you’re looking for great craft ideas, free worksheets, recipes, or other ways to make reading fun, check out my Story Time category.  I promise to fill the next year with more Story Times so you can enjoy reading with your littles.

I am so grateful to you for the year I’ve had as the Lit Mama.  May 2016 be blessed for all of us.  May your struggles be few, your joys be many, and your journey as bright and sunny as can be.  May you remember, in the coming year and always,

Love wins,


Exciting News! (December Field Trips for Homeschool)

As you know, this December we are studying composers here at the Lit Mama Homeschool.  Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi…. Tchaikovsky.

Look! Paper snowflakes and salt dough ornaments!

Look! Paper snowflakes and salt dough ornaments!

Oh. Yeah.  Seeing where I’m going with this?

nutcracker- louisville ballet

Because I didn’t.

But my beautiful husband did.  And he surprised us with tickets to the Louisville Ballet’s Nutcracker performance.  So we are going to be studying Tchaikovsky all week, then going to see his music played by an orchestra while a truly stupendous ballet troupe truly stupefies us.

I am in heaven right now.  The Littles are so excited, too.  They can’t wait to see the orchestra, and hear what it sounds like when it’s not a recording.  And even though they’re 10 and 13 year old boys, they are not cringing at the idea of a ballet.  That’s ’cause their mama raised them right!


Martin is so good at romantic surprises for me, but this little field trip is beyond even his usual norm.  To know I would be thrilled to take the boys is a special Martin thing–he sees and hears everything, even when I’m not saying it aloud.  I’m spoiled.  It’s pretty awesome.

louisville ballet

We are, indeed, going to count the excursion as a field trip.  The Littles have already informed me it means an extra day of Christmas break (Ah! Maybe That’s why they don’t mind the ballet!).  If you homeschool, there are so many field trips you could take this month.  Go to a Christmas tree farm and make a day of picking your tree, singing carols, and drinking cocoa.  So many of our local high schools are doing great plays–The Sound of Music, A Christmas Story, The Grinch–for a couple of bucks, you can take your kids to a play and support other local kids.  Littles won’t be able to tell the difference between the very adequate sets of a high school play and the more elaborate sets of a theater.  Or heck, take them to the theater.  We saw A Christmas Story at Louisville’s Actor’s Theater a couple years ago and it was A. Maz. Ing.  Take your littles to a nearby nursing home and sing carols for the inmates patients.  The sick and the elderly will feel so much better for the smiles your littles will put on their faces.  A gift in itself.  Our local colleges also offer free symphony concerts throughout the year, and December always brings out the Christmas music.  Your local library will certainly be holding story times and activities that are holiday-oriented.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to give your littles some fun and get out of the house before January hits and the Truly Bad Weather sets in.

Cabin fever is bad enough.  Let’s not let it sneak in too early.

Love wins,


Story Time: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Story Time: The Night Before Christmas - Crafts and Activities to go with the picture book

It’s Christmastime!!  Everybody loves this time of year.  Or hates it.  Depending on whether they are at home enjoying their own Christmas tree, mugs of cocoa, and family, or they are out shopping.

People shop all year.  We all have things we need to pick up week to week–food, supplies, clothing.  So what is it about shopping for Christmas that makes some put on their Belligerent Hats and shove through like nutcases?  I suppose we’ll never know.  I’ve always thought shopping for gifts should bring out the best in people, not the worst.  So when I am out this time of year, I put on my biggest smile, and even when someone accidentally-on-purpose heels me with his or her cart for some imagined slight, I offer kind words.  I may not think them, but I speak them.  You know what a big believer I am in paying it forward.

It always makes my experience a little bit better, being kind in the face of all that irritation.  Hopefully, it makes the experience of those who come in contact with me better, too.  I am, after all, an optimist.

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More Autumn Fun

Have I mentioned that autumn is my favorite season?  October has been an amazing month for me.  It usually is.  I feel like I get more grounded with the earth during this time of year–it’s a good time to appreciate sunlight, growing things, and the way the seasons turn to provide us with all we need to live.  The nights are getting longer, but not too long yet.  There’s still plenty of time to get outside, and it’s not too hot to really enjoy it.  This is when we start really hiking our woods.  The geese are back on the pond, calling to each other in the wee, dark hours of morning when my body is telling me I should still be asleep in the dark but the alarm is telling me to haul my butt out of bed and get the day started.  The air is crisp.  It feels like you can reach out and grab it and pull it into you instead of normal, boring, old breathing.  It tingles on your sun-warmed skin.  Sure, sometimes it’s just plain cold, but that’s the price we temperate dwellers pay for getting the beauty of autumn leaves and the joy of awakening spring.

I’ll take it.  All day long.


We always celebrate autumn here at the Brison house in myriad ways.  This year, we traveled half an hour to another rural town and visited a family-run corn maze.  Big even joined us on this family outing.  It turned out to be aimed more toward much younger kids, but we made the most of our day there.  The funnest part was, of course, the corn maze itself.

IMG_1097We got our map and headed in.   At first the Littles were running pell mell through the thing, and we lost them a time or two until Martin (Mr. Super Overprotective) called them back and told them it would work better if we followed the map.  I looked at the map.  Big looked at the map.  The Littles looked at the map.  We all looked back at Martin.  He could read that?  And really tell where we were?



So we let my beautiful husband take the lead.  Because it was all mumbo jumbo to me.  We had a blast cheating our way through the maze.  Twice, Martin looked at the map, looked at the available paths and said, “That doesn’t make sense.  We need to go that way.”  We tried a path or two.  They led nowhere.  Another path.  Wrong direction.  One wicked grin on my beautiful husband’s face later, and we were squeezing through corn rows that were not part of the path, risking supernatural intervention by making jokes about Stephen King’s great short story, Children of the Corn.  We didn’t feel too bad about cheating.  It made the whole thing a bit more exciting for everyone.


The Littles surprised me by still being young enough to want to mine for gems in the sluice provided.  They came away with some treasures like amethyst, lapis lazuli, agate, and quartz.  Big helped them gather up even the smallest of rocks and I promised to get out our Rocks and Minerals book when we returned home so we could know exactly what everything was.  There were a few stones that none of us recognized while at the corn maze, but that’s the power and value of good books, no?  We learn every time we open them.  Love those teachable moments.

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They had a pumpkin patch that you rode out to on a tractor-pulled wagon, but we had (unfortunately) already picked up our pumpkins for this year, so we decided not to go.  We admired it from afar, realized we didn’t need more pumpkins, and moved on.  Which kinda sucked, because I really wanted to go on a wagon ride.  I was soundly outvoted.  Blah.

We stopped and got apple cider slushies before we left, and they were delicious, but Martin and I decided it was just frozen applesauce with a bit of cider of thrown in for flavor, so we’re going to try to make them at home. The place advertised pumpkin ice cream, but they didn’t have any.  So that sucked, too.

No problem.  We went to a local produce market that serves it all fall and got a pumpkin ice cream cone on the way home.

If that’s not an Autumn Celebration Day, I don’t know what is.  I hope you’re getting your own littles out in this weather, celebrating this season, and doing all the fun things autumn provides.

Oh, and read some good autumn books.  Check out my Story Time series if you want some suggestions.

Love wins,