Homeschooling with Creativity, Imagination, and Vulnerability (with Carrie Brownell)

Carrie Brownell A Fine Quotation Homeschool Conversations podcast interview creativity imagination vulnerability
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This was a delightful conversation with Carrie Brownell, fellow 2nd-generation homeschooling mom of 5. I absolutely loved Carrie’s honesty and vulnerability. If you’ve ever felt like you have to follow a homeschool philosophy perfectly, or if you’ve ever struggled to make your family fit inside a box, this conversation will be such an encouragement. Our talk about creativity and imagination gave me goosebumps! Carrie brings such a unique perspective to our chat and I know you’ll love it as much as I did!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Carrie Brownell A Fine Quotation Homeschool Conversations podcast interview creativity imagination vulnerability

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Who is Carrie Brownell

Carrie Brownell is a second generation homeschool mother of five. Her favorite part of homeschooling is the read aloud time she shares with her children each morning. Books play a very large role in the family’s life going so far as to create and run a business around them. She is a watercolor artist of bookish characters and designs and runs her own Etsy shop at AFineQuotation. Carrie and her family are also in the process of opening up their own cottage based bookshop and tea room to share the joy of books and fellowship with those in their hometown. 

Carrie Brownell A Fine Quotation Homeschool Conversations podcast interview creativity imagination vulnerability

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Amy Sloan: Hello, everyone. Today, I am joined by Carrie Brownell, who is a second-generation homeschool mother of five, like me, and her favorite part of homeschooling is the read-aloud time that she shares with her children each morning. Books play a very large role in their family’s life and at this point, they even have created and run a business about books or surrounding books. She is a watercolor artist of bookish characters and designs and runs her own Etsy shop at AFineQuotation.

In fact, I’ve been following, Carrie, your Instagram for forever @AFineQuotation, and have purchased bookmarks and various other bookish art to give as gifts. It’s just beautiful– Side note, everyone should go follow that.

Carrie and her family are also in the process of opening up their own cottage-based bookshop and tea room to share the joy of books and fellowship with those in their hometown. When I was a kid, I thought if someday I could just get paid to read books, that would be like the best job ever. It sounds like you and your family have found a way to bring books just into every aspect of your life, that’s really cool.

Carrie Brownell: That’s sinking in that I get to touch books all the time.

Second-Generation Homeschooling

Amy: So much fun. Well, will you just first tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and just how you came to homeschooling?

Carrie: Sure. My husband and I have been married for 16 years and we have five kids. Our youngest is six, and our oldest is 14. We are both second-generation homeschoolers. He was raised entirely homeschooled and then I was homeschooled from third grade on. For us, the decision was just almost made for us —No one came along and said you have to do this – but it was just the natural choice for us, like, “Oh, it’s what we do. It’s what we’ve always done, and so it will be so easy because we already know what to do.”

That’s what brought us to at homeschooling, I suppose our parents and the way that we were raised, and we liked the freedom and the flexibility that we had growing up.

Turns out though, it was a little different if you’re the teacher than the child being homeschooled. It wasn’t quite as easy as we both speculated that it would be. That’s why we homeschooled. It wasn’t some big moment of, “Hey, we want to try this.” It came naturally to us.

Amy: I can relate to that so very much. Being homeschooled myself all the way through and then my husband was homeschooled through the seventh grade. Even before we were married, just talking like, “We want to homeschool.” We both had had positive homeschooling experiences, but I have to laugh at “it’s like a little different.” You think, “Oh, this is going to be easy. I know everything there is to know about homeschooling,” and then you get into it and you’re like, “Yeah, no.”

Carrie: What could go wrong?


Amy: Right. Suddenly, you realize like you’re a sinner, and then you have children who are their own people.

Carrie Brownell A Fine Quotation Homeschool Conversations podcast interview creativity imagination vulnerability

Growing in homeschool and education philosophy

Amy: Carrie, how have your views on homeschooling and educational philosophy grown and changed over the years, and especially is that relates to your own experience, but then being implemented in your own unique family?

Carrie: When I was growing up, my parents were the first-generation homeschoolers, so they were setting the tone and my husband’s parents were doing the same. Wasn’t done really very much at all, suspicious grandparents, “What are you doing to our grandchildren?” that sort of thing. In my growing up experience, my mom wanted to make sure that all the dots were in a row, all the Is were dotted, all the Ts are crossed. She decided she wanted to do– we used Christian Liberty Academy, so that I would have the high school transcript and all my grades would be kept, and there’d be records of everything.

To her, that was really important. In Jonathan’s family, they were a little bit more freestyling. They got their basics down, but they weren’t as concerned with the records aspect.

I didn’t enjoy just picking up a book, reading it, then taking a test, and answering questions. It’s boring. That part of it was boring. Jonathan’s growing up experience, we both had friends who their families did KONOS. Do you remember KONOS? They got to build teepees in their living room and dress up like pilgrims and things like that. That just sounded so super fun.

We said, “When we have kids, we’re going to do it that way. It’s going to be activity, it’s going to be playing games, doing art, and all of these things.” Then we had the kids and it was like, “That is a lot of work. No wonder our parents didn’t do that.” We don’t want to do that.

I would say, it’s been a stretch in a learning curve of saying, well, that sounded fun, but that ended up being a whole lot of work so what are we going to do because we don’t want learning to be boring to our children like it was in a lot of respects for us.

When I say it was boring, I don’t want to indicate that I had a bad experience being homeschooled because I didn’t, because it was the freedom and the flexibility that came along with being homeschooled. You got your main work done, but then you had your free time to do all the other projects and things that you wanted to do. We both walk away saying we had a positive experience. I don’t mean to diss our parents or anything like that.

We’ve struggled a bit to find our groove.

A friend of mine was talking to me about Charlotte Mason homeschooling ideas. I thought, “Yes, that sounds like what I like, what I can envision what I lean towards.” I will say we’ve probably evolved to that, but through a lot of stumbling along the way of just like any newbie homeschooler would also stumble, we had our moments, “Well, let’s try this.” “No, this isn’t working.” “Oh, let’s try that.” “That’s not working either,” because it’s all tailored to each individual kid.

We have three kids that are adopted, too. They’re overseas adoptions and so there’s also language delays in there as well. We’re not operating on the same schedule as everyone else.

We’re a little more delayed in our timeline. Just because it was longer before we were all speaking the same language. I would say that’s how it’s evolved from the rigorous like “let’s keep track of everything” growing up experience to Charlotte Mason.

Let’s read, play, discover, build, and grow, but we don’t have to call it a program. We don’t have to say “KONOS.”

We can read what we want, explore what we want based off of what we’re reading and our kids spend a lot of time outside.

Amy: I think that’s going to be such an encouragement for moms to hear because there’s so much information out there now and so much about like, “Well, if you’re this homeschooler, you need to do everything on this list,” and you almost feel like forced to choose a camp and a path and be married to this philosophy of education forever. There’s not much flexibility almost within the homeschool world now to try things and figure out what’s going to work for your own family.

I see a little bit in modern homeschooling, we’ve forgotten what we knew as those first homeschoolers, the reason why we’re doing this is so that we can have the freedom and the flexibility to figure out what’s going to work for our family.

It’s okay if you try something and you’re like, “Well, that sounded good in theory, but that is not going to work for our family.” That’s okay, that’s not bad. You haven’t failed.

Carrie: Right, exactly. It’s all learn as you go. You watch the newer homeschoolers who are like, “What do I need to get? What do I need to buy? What do I need to have on my walls?” They’re trying to build the homeschool room and you snicker a little to yourself, and you’re like, “Give yourself a little time.” Those posters will come down. Just relax. Give yourself time– I think it takes at least three years to really figure out your groove and what works.

If you try it for one year and say, “Well, I’ll give it a go.” That may work for some, but it takes a little while as the kids grow in age and develop. That takes some time.

Amy: Yes, and as you see how even the kids interact with one another and personalities and all that.

Carrie’s Favorite Parts of Homeschooling

We’ve talked about some of that freedom and flexibility, but what are some of your other favorite parts about homeschooling?

Carrie: It’s probably strictly reading. [laughs] It’s all the books. For our family, we start the day reading altogether. I’m not a morning person. I’m working very hard to become a morning person because everyone else in the house is one, except for me. I need to be the one that adjusts to that and I’ve fought it, but I’m getting into it. To have a quieter start to my day, because I’m more alert at night than in their early morning. Our practice and habit has been, let’s start the day out with reading because everyone is gathering together, we’re all together, we’re all being quiet, and listening to the story.

It’s a calm way to enter into the day and not feel overwhelmed or stressed, but just be like, “This is our relaxing period.” The kids all love it too. If we miss it, they’re sad about it. When they’re asked what’s their favorite part of time we spend in schooling, that’s their favorite part too. It’s like the calm and happy approach. We tend to do whatever our fun read is, then I’ll pick up whatever our history read is, and work our way through things slowly and quietly, and then I let them do things like handwriting and that while we’re doing that. That’s my favorite part of the day. As for favorite subjects, besides literature it’s history, I like history.

Amy: Because history brings you more good books? [laughs]

Carrie: Yes, it does. How convenient?

Amy: Have there been any favorite reads that you’ve had recently in that reading time?

Carrie: It’s arguably not the greatest piece of literature, but we sure have a lot of fun reading Harry Potter for the first time all together. Our oldest one had read it and the younger ones hadn’t been introduced, so we read book one. That was probably like– I’m noticing even my six-year-old will reference back to that book. That’s one of her favorites, but we’re also reading through the Little House on the Prairie books, and everyone is really getting into those.

We live on a bit of property with a bunch of trees with limbs that have fallen down, so they built a little log cabin and house with those. They’re really getting into the whole Little House scene and they really liked those.

Amy: I love how books, especially when we read them aloud altogether, they become part of our family vocabulary and they’re the inside jokes. If you have younger children– I have five and the oldest is 16 when this podcast comes out and the youngest is six. There are definitely things that like the younger ones, the younger set are being introduced to for the first time. It’s like almost this rite of passage, like, “Ooh, now I’m old enough to read the Harry Potter series too.” It’s really cool to have those things.

You’re like, one day you’ll get to be able to read this book that your older siblings love. It’s really fun to see them anticipating that as well.

Carrie: Yes, it really is.

The challenges of homeschooling

Amy: We know that homeschooling is not always fun and easy. What are some of those challenges of homeschooling and how do you seek to overcome those?

Carrie: This is actually an encouraging question for me to pose to other people because it’s very tempting (tempting but not altogether true) as an adoptive mom especially, to think that, “Oh, our struggles are because we have adoptive issues going on as well,” but then when I talk to moms with all strictly bio kids, then I realize, “No, that’s not it.” It’s everyone with different things. For us, personally, our bio kids are so like us in our way of thinking and doing things. The struggle is in not knowing where the other personality has come from or how they’re developing.

I can predict and know what the two of my kids are going to respond to either with humor or anything, personality-wise or what the preferences are going to be. Of course, I’m learning the three other children as well and I have learned a great deal. I can predict a lot of things from them too. At the beginning stages, it was extremely difficult for me to figure out what are they going to feel drawn to, call to, react to.

It feels like sometimes when I watch strictly all-bio families, it’s amazing to me because I feel like, “Wow, they all look the same and they all act the same.” For us, it’s like, “Oh, we neither look the same nor act the same,” so that’s my personal struggle. It is just the wildly different personalities that we have in play, which might be the case for other people and it might not be the case for other people. I would say that’s probably my biggest struggle.

Then time management and discipline more on my part. They’ll remember to do all the work they’re supposed to do on their own, but sometimes they’ll watch me to see if I’m going to remind them to do the work they’re supposed to do on their own. If I’m not paying attention or I’m not being disciplined, then the work doesn’t get done until the end of the day, they’re like, “Oh, I never did handwriting.” I have to be aware and tuned into what’s going on. My own personal self-discipline and then just managing all the different personalities in play.

Amy: Yes, I find that even my very self-motivated children, if I go through a season where I’m distracted or, for whatever reason, not doing a good job keeping on top of things, it’s amazing how those things that you don’t inspect tend to, all of a sudden, just not be done. It’s very important to all hold one another accountable for sure.

Carrie: Absolutely.

Carrie Brownell A Fine Quotation Homeschool Conversations podcast interview creativity imagination vulnerability

Creativity and Art

Amy: I mentioned in your bio about the art that you do that is inspired by books and literature. It’s just absolutely beautiful. I would love to hear a little bit more about your own creative endeavors. Has art always been something that’s been a big part of your life or is it something newer? Just your story with art, as someone who’s doesn’t find that part of my nature, very natural. I’m super impressed by people who are artistic.

Carrie: I should start off by saying I don’t take myself seriously at all. I did take a few art classes when I was growing up with the homeschool club that we were a part of and I liked this. I did a lot of pencil drawing classes. I like a pencil probably more than I like anything else. I don’t know why but I just like it. Maybe because I can erase it and I can shade it to just the right what I want. When I did draw growing up, it was always people’s faces, always gravitated towards that.

It wasn’t something that was encouraged in our house, for whatever reason, it just wasn’t. I didn’t do anything with at all. I remember I had this one picture that I had drawn, this really big project and I had it sitting in the room for a while, but it wasn’t mentioned or noticed. I just put it away eventually and dropped it as life moved on. I didn’t do it anymore drawing, which coincidentally is a lesson to me now when I’m watching my own kids draw things is to comment on it, and say things about it because it really does matter if a parent says something or doesn’t say something, because I put it away.

We had got in the thick of family and homeschooling and the kids were always asking to do art things. I was not interested in the mess.

But we had just moved into this new house. It’d been lived in by a large family before us and some of the carpet clearly showed it. We had been sick for a month or something. We hadn’t been able to leave our house. Everyone was bored. I’m tired of being sick at home, and so they were asking to paint. I was like, “You know what? This carpet is going anyway.” We can pull out the paints and it’s really not a big deal if something falls on it because, to me, I’m not like a neat freak or anything, but I do like order. I like order.

This was an opportunity to just– it doesn’t really matter. Put on an old T-shirt and here we all are, we have nothing to do. Let’s just be busy. I started drawing faces again, but this time, it was literary faces. Then I showed it to a few friends and they were like, “Hey–” I was like, “Do you think that I could do anything with this?” They were like, “Yes, you can do something with that.” That’s kind of where it was born again. Again, it’s an encouraging word. It’s like someone coming along and saying, “Hey, that’s pretty cool. I haven’t seen it there. That’s cute.”

Or, “Hey, I like what you did there,” or even, “Oh, I like this but could you change that?” It was helpful too. That’s kind of what got me back into it again, but it just developed from there. I put a few things on Etsy and started an Instagram account. The rest just went. I don’t feel like– you’re supposed to use the hashtags at the bottom of your posts. People do their paintings and then they’re like artists. I’m like, “I feel a little–” Well, I don’t want to use that word. This is just like playing time kind of thing.

It’s only recently that I’ve started using #WatercolorArtists because I just don’t feel like that I don’t know as much as other people that you can look up watercolor artists, and they just make these beautiful things. They know how to do all of the stuff. I was watching tutorials of trying to improve this, that, and the other. I feel like I have improved. When I looked back at my first stuff, I’m like, “Oh, make it go away.” That’s just so horrible. Even in my shop, some of the older stuff that’s been there for a while is going away as I improve my skills and make changes.

I think I do things better now. It’s just the constant practice in doing it. I have phases where I’ll sit down and work on it a bunch and then I’ll walk away for weeks and not touch it at all. Generally, it’s born out of books that I’m reading too or ideas. Sometimes just somebody will say something to me in a conversation. I’ll be like, “That is interesting,” or which will lead me to a book, which will lead me to a quote, which will lead me to a picture in my head of something I could do.

Amy: I’m over here getting goosebumps because what I love about your story is such an important reminder. For me, personally, I’m sure I’m not the only mom, sometimes we think, “Well, I never learned how to do that.” Or, “It’s all over for me now,” but what do we tell our kids? “Oh, you don’t know how to do this? You can go learn or be a lifelong learner, always take on new challenges.”

The fact that just because you’ve never done something or you set something aside at one point in your life, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take it back up and try something new. That’s actually very encouraging. I want to sit here and think about that for a little bit, but we have to keep talking.

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Carrie: Oh, good.

Amy: I’m going to be thinking about that. I would be curious to hear what other people like, how they could find ways to express their creativity. Maybe it’s something that they had set aside for a time and thought, “Well, I guess that was a different part of my life.” That’s something that they could reincorporate in their life now, just as a homeschool mama who has a little extra time, it doesn’t have to be every day, just something that they could do. I’m going to be thinking about that.

I think one of the things also you were talking about is your own experience in childhood with art is something that wasn’t necessarily commented on and just sort of made you want to set it to the side and not necessarily pursue that at the time.

Encouraging creativity in our children

As you think about as a parent and as a homeschooler in particular, why do you think that creativity and art is important to include in our day or how can we encourage that in our children?

Carrie: One of the people that I’ve been reading lately, and of course, I’m going to preface this by saying, you have to balance out anybody that you read. A lot of Christians would not read this author. I feel like she has a lot of good things to say. Brené Brown. I don’t know if you’re familiar with her. She’s a shame and vulnerability researcher.

One of the reasons why I like her is because she talks a lot about creativity is part of what is being vulnerable in developing relationships with other people. The more you create– and I’ve noticed this is true. I read her stuff about creativity, vulnerability, and watched her YouTube videos in her interviews that she’s done. I think that she really has made a couple of good points.

The more that I create, I noticed this is so true. When I create something, I’m sharing a part of myself and I’m being more vulnerable and open.

I’m more willing to make a mistake and I’m more willing to have a conversation about it than before. When I first started, it’s like, “Please don’t ask me how I do anything. I don’t want to talk about because I don’t know what I’m doing.” There’s that desire not to be vulnerable. Just to take it and run. Now, I’m happy to talk about this, or I’m happy to talk about that.

I’m happy to try something. If it fails, it fails. If it succeeds, it succeeds. I don’t know what will, so it’s just a matter of trying.

I think that’s something that is with my own kids. When you can watch their face (and you can watch this into anyone’s face kid or adult) but they make something and they show you and it’s very timid. They’re holding it close and they show you. That’s a great honor to be shown something that someone else has made. It’s encouraging. I think it’s important to look at what they’re willing to show you that they’ve made and find something good to say about it. If it’s like a little scribbling, like, “Guess what this?” I’m like, “I don’t want to. Why don’t you just tell, Mommy?” [laughs]

I think it’s important for them to say, I will show you something that is part of me. I made it, I put the time and the creativity and do it, and have you say, “That was a worthy use of your time. That was a really good effort you put forth there. That was really creative. Oh, how very clever.” I think that that’s really important.

Why I am beginning to really believe that art in general and creativity is important to express because I can see how in myself, it’s made me more willing to have a conversation or take a risk and the way that it works mentally.

I’m not going to explain it as well as Brené Brown is. Again, a lot of Christians are going to say, “I’m not going to read her.” I totally understand. That’s fine

Amy: They can just listen to what you said. That was also very, very fantastic.

Carrie: That is why I like her. I think she has some very useful things to say about that. That’s just been very impacting to me recently.

Amy: I think that plays into where we see our children’s creativity, whether it be a visual arts, dance, music, even writing, creative writing. I know I have children who are interested in different modes of creativity and what I would consider art. It may not be painting. Exactly what you’re saying to realize when they share that with you, there is a way in which sharing something that you have written or something that you have composed or that you’re dancing is a little bit scarier than showing someone your math worksheet.

There’s something that is reflecting something about who you are in a different way, in a unique way. To honor that, our children have shown that to us and to treasure that and appreciate that, I find it harder than to be willing to be vulnerable in that way, especially to my children. I think that if we model that for them, even in a sense, not that my podcast is art but in this sense of–

Carrie: Yes, it is.

Amy: I don’t know. Sure. You were telling about the #artist. I’m like, “I don’t think so.”

Carrie: #podcast. [laughs]

Carrie Brownell A Fine Quotation Homeschool Conversations podcast interview creativity imagination vulnerability

Amy: Yes, there you go. The kids know that this is something that makes mom nervous, that I’ve made mistakes. There are things that have been really hard or challenging. To be able to have that vulnerability where they see behind the curtain and all the things I have messed up or the things that have gone wrong. For that to be okay, I think that would be a healthy just environment to have, whether we or our children are going to be painters or singers or whatever.

None of us may ever do that. Just that kind of aura of it’s okay to fail, to have the humility to not be perfect at something, I think is really important.

Carrie: I strongly believe it, God as our Creator has made us all creative beings and so we all have a bit of creativity. I got talked to some people, and they’ll say, “I’m not creative.” I think that everyone is. Just in a different way. Some people it’s in the area of hospitality, some people it’s creating these beautiful table displays, dishes, and stuff that I’m like, “I cannot do that.” Or a painter or a singer, or a dancer or a writer, or just creating a beautiful home or organizing, being an organizer for other people, all sorts of ways that people are creative.

I think it’s very important and I have started talking more on my own Instagram feed about what would it be like if we all pursued what we were really good at? What if we found our gift and then we just took it as far as we could? What if we worked our craft and honed our craft, whatever that is, and we’re our own unique selves? I think that there’s something truly satisfying. Eric Liddell, am I saying that right, where he says when he runs, he feels the pleasure of God.

I think that that’s very true when you find your thing, whatever that is, your thing, I feel God’s pleasure when I’m creating. When I’m creating and building businesses in any direction, I just feel like, “This is the most exciting thing I could be doing.” I feel God’s pleasure. I feel like He’s gifted me in this area, and I can take it and I can run with it. I will run as far and as hard as He let me go.

What would the world look like if we as Christians, in particular, all pursued our gifts and our talents as far and as hard as we could?

I think that’s just an extremely exciting thought. I hope as a homeschool mom, especially that I can encourage my children and give them the opportunity to try. Try, go, run, play, make, create.

Amy: Then it’s not a self-centered thing. It’s not for our glory, it’s for the glory of our Creator. It’s reflecting His glory. I’m just getting even more goosebumps. Good words. [laughs]

Carrie: It’s fun.

Encouraging our children’s imagination

Amy: Yes. We talked about creativity and art, I guess specifically, in a broader sense, since I know you love books as well, and ideas. What are some ways that we can encourage our children’s imaginations?

Carrie: You mean aside from books?

Amy: I mean how do books maybe encourage their imagination?

Carrie: I think choosing books that you read is very important. My favorite book to hate is Captain Underpants. Why would you read Captain Underpants, if you could read any number, a lot of things? I don’t care if the child is a slower reader or a slower developed reader, there are books better than Captain Underpants. That’s my book to hate. Let’s find Flat Stanley and let’s find the Littles, let’s do any number because I think that books definitely influence thought and action. Because every book has a worldview and so you want to communicate truth and untruth, both to your kids and help them be discerning about the belief systems in books.

Choosing a good book and I’m just going to take our recent read of Little House in the Prairie, we’re reading through the series for the first time with everyone. They’re building the log house and so they’re putting into practice. They’re reading, they’re thinking about it, and then they’re building it and seeing how much work that is, and how many hours and how many days and how many weeks have gone by since they’ve started it.

Choose the best books you can.

Of course, there are so many resources out there for choosing good books that foster imagination and creativity.

I like all the ones with adventure where kids are doing things that maybe they definitely wouldn’t be doing in today’s world necessarily, like Swallows and Amazons.

Amy: Swallows and Amazons. Yes.

Carrie: Yes, which Beverly Cleary’s birthday was just– Recently, at the time of this recording, and she would have been 105 but she passed away. I love her books, but her quote about this boy that came to the library, and then like, “We want books that are about us. We don’t want books about kids that are like sailing on boats and finding, islands and things like that. We want to find books that are about us and what we’re doing.” She wrote Ramona and all the other books, which on the one hand, “Hey, I’m grateful,” because that represents the time gone by as well.

I like her characters, they’re quirky. At the same time, she’s talking about Swallows and Amazons. I’m like, “No, no, no, but don’t ditch those. Don’t ditch those.” Because when you read those books, you think, “I want to do that. I could do that. What would happen if I did that?” Kids are building boats out of boxes and making flags that they plant all over the yard. It’s fun, it calls you up from where you are, and encourages you to imagine what it would be if you did something outside of the norm.

Amy: My oldest daughter when she turned 10 actually had a Swallows and Amazons themed birthday party. It was very fun. She really was on a kick for that series for a while. Whereas my youngest son who is six now, he is obsessed with Henry Huggins. I think he’s listened, we got the audiobook, you can get the entire Henry Huggins series in one audiobook, which if you have an audible credit, it’s like a bajillion hours for one credit, you should do it. Anyway, he has listened to that over and over and over again, he can quote whole sections.

What’s interesting is for him, I think it is this almost this life that he couldn’t actually live because it’s like a boy with a dog who just goes and is this tiny kid who’s just wandering the town, completely independently and having all these adventures. Going and doing all these crazy things with his dog. For him, it almost because it is such a time difference in a sense of cultural difference. It has that same sense of adventure or like the Boxcar Children and all those great books, My Side of the Mountain where these kids like they don’t need adults, they just go out and do their thing. I loved those books when I was growing up. It’s not like I didn’t want to be with my family, but I wanted to imagine if I could live without them, what would I do?

Carrie: Exactly, or any Nesbit book where kids are going to find their flying carpet, just randomly. What would happen?

Carrie’s advice for the new homeschool mom

Amy: Well, if you were talking to a new homeschool mom, what would be your big piece of advice you would give her?

Carrie: Probably I would say, “What are you good at?” Then, “Form your schooling around that.” Because the thing is that I feel like I do best are the things which I love best. The kids are more eager and more drawn into things that they can tell that I really like it. I don’t like math, we have to do math. I think it’s okay to say things– Well, I do anyway, “Well, I don’t like this part, but we still have to do it. Let’s get it down as fast as we can so that we can get to the thing we like.”

Because I think it’s fair to acknowledge, “Hey, sometimes in life if you don’t like everything, you just have to do it and get to the thing you do like.” Focus mostly on that thing you like because chances are, they’re going to learn to love that too because you love it so much.

Amy: I really think that mom’s enthusiasm is the superpower that we don’t talk about as homeschoolers. I think it’s something that is a real gift that we can bring to our kids.

Carrie: I agree.

What Carrie is reading lately

Amy: Well, every guest this season I’m asking these final two questions. The first one is just what are you personally reading lately?

Carrie: I’m still reading at the time of this recording. I had just agreed to be part of a buddy read from Middlemarch, and it was to last one month, and it’s lasting two. [laughs]

Amy: That’s a big book.

Carrie: I am plowing through it and I am almost done. I have now within an average 200 book range, so I should be able to finish it this month. Reading Middlemarch and I just finished reading a book which is a new release, which I am very interested in talking about, but I’m not quite ready yet. It’s called The Story That Couldn’t Be Told and it’s about a girl in Romania under communist rule. The things that they were allowed to say and not allowed to say in stories. It’s a very, very interesting book.

Amy: Adding that to my library hold list.

Carrie: All the portions that it’s talking about her story,and the history of it is very good. The author interspersed it by creating her own fairytale, which she ran through it. The fairytale is horrible. It’s like skip all of those chapters and you will have lost nothing. The editor did her no favors on that one. If you’re reading it aloud, you can read pretty much everything, but not the fairytale. That’s my disclaimer, but it is a middle-grade piece of fiction. I found it at Barnes and Noble and I never buy new books that are not familiar with the Barnes and Noble.

I was like, “What is this title?” Then read the first chapter. I’m like, “Ooh, this sounds exciting.” [chuckles]

Then I’m reading along with my book club, I’m reading All Creatures Great and Small, which I’ve never seen. I’ve never read it before.

Amy: We’re reading it my in-real-life book club. We’re reading that next month as well. It’s been years since I read it.

Carrie: That’s what we’re reading.

Carrie’s best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly

Amy: This all sounds fantastic. I have questions. I’ll wait until the podcast is over and then I’m going to ask you questions about that first book title, but moving on, I would love to know what would be your best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly?

Carrie: I think, again, it goes back to knowing yourself, your strengths, and weaknesses. For me, I know that I’m a slow start in the morning. If I had my druthers, then we wouldn’t start the day until around lunchtime, but that’s not possible because little children do not operate on that schedule. Saying, “Let me find all the easy tasks or the enjoyable task and put them first, so you can just ease into your day,” is way better than trying to muscle through and be frustrated by the thing you.

You know your day, you know your time frame, you know when you’re most alert, and ease yourself around the day. If you really need to set something aside to deal with the character issue instead, deal with the character issue and set the script, set the score aside.

Amy: Oh, I love that. Yes, you have to figure out what’s going to work in the flow of your own family. I know I’m the exact opposite. Once you get to lunchtime, if I have to do something really important after that with my kids that could possibly bring up tears, it just needs to wait for the next morning. I’m best for anything that’s going to cause tears for tapping first thing in the day. [laughs]

Find Carrie Brownell Online

Carrie, where can people find you all around the internet?

Carrie: You can find me all over the internet. AFineQuotation on Instagram and @lockhartlanefolks on Instagram is the bookstore side of things that we’re building.

Amy: All right, and I will have links set out in the show notes for this episode over at Thank you so much, Carrie, for chatting with me today.

Carrie: Yes. Thank you.

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