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Invisible Monsters

Nervous energy coursed through my body as I stepped onto the elevator. I was heading to my first radiation treatment.

“Does your shirt say, I Got This?” a voice from the back corner inquired. She was small and thin, and her steel gray hair was chopped into a no-nonsense bob.

“Yes, it was a gift,” I replied.

“So you’ve got this, even if it sucks…right?”

“And boy does it ever,” I chuckled, “But yep. I’ve got it.”

“Haha, me too, honey.”


Hours later, I stepped back onto that same elevator.

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It Puts the Lotion on its Skin

My little models showing off some beloved products and sporting VERY natural smiles.

I typically title my blog posts after I’ve begun writing, but I knew what I would name this one before I ever typed a word. And I can’t stop laughing at the actual perfection. I mean we ARE talking about scary skincare (among other things) here today, but don’t worry… nobody is “getting the hose.”

If you’re Gen Z or whomever it is that comes after us elder millennials, you may not be familiar with Silence of the Lambs. And in that case, you’ll just have to excuse me because the mere idea of peppering this post with Lecter-isms is bringing me a substantial amount of joy. These days, my friends, I jump on that joy train at every opportunity.

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Welcome to Crunchy Town

Hello dearest students. Thank you for returning to Part II of the lesson I never dreamed I’d be teaching. I have entitled this portion of our learning:

“Having Environmental Breast Cancer at Age 36 is Absolute Poopidy-Poo-Poo-Garbage, and I Recommend You Avoid It At All Costs.”

Okay, maybe not my most cleverly titled lesson plan, but you get the gist.

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Cancery Booby-Doos


For as long as I live and breathe, the following memory will be recalled with the dream-like-fluidity and precision detail that only a trauma can create in one’s mind.


“Do you have any questions? Mrs. Woodward?”

I stared at the radiologist’s face. Did he have a wife? Kids? What was his first name? I mean, I really feel like we should be on first name basis to even have this conversation.

His face half hidden, my eyes frantically searched his for more. I needed MORE.

I heard my own quaking voice respond, “Well…I guess… my only question is…how sure ARE you that it’s cancer?”

He breathed in slowly, intentionally. I knew his answer before he spoke.

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Just One More Page, Mama

“We read with our children because it gives both them and us an education of the heart and mind. Of intellect and empathy. We read together and learn because stories teach us how to love.” – Sarah Mackenzie, The Read Aloud Family


I am of the strong opinion that one can never own too many leggings, eat too many fruit snacks, or read too many books. Now, I suppose the majority of experts probably wouldn’t agree with my first two proclamations, but I’m willing to bet not a single one would disagree with the latter.

If I had to come up with the most important lesson I have learned from all my years of studying education, teaching children, AND parenting combined, it would be this:

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All of the Nutella: A Guide to Actually Enjoying Days at Home with Little Ones

I had a friend recently say to me, “You know how much I love my kids, right? So why do I so desperately want to wave the white flag, lock myself in the bathroom, and eat an entire jar of Nutella? I’ve only been stuck here with them for two days! And I actually did eat all the Nutella. Help me not want to eat the Nutella, Summer.”

I hear you, sister friend. And I think I can help. I’ve been that mom. I am still sometimes that mom. I don’t think God or any person on Earth expects you to be fully engaged and joyful about every second of raising your children. It’s messy, laborious, and often thankless work. And not to mention that those tiny people are so stinkin’ LOUD.

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"Omelets are for Sundays, son." Homeschooling Tips to get you started.

First thing’s first. BREATHE. Do it again with some extra deep breathing yoga flair. And hear me loud and clear when I tell you that your children are resilient. If you did nothing else but read to them for the next few weeks, they would be just fine. You are not going to mess them up. You are not going to let them down. Your house may be a little (or a lot) messy, and you may need to adjust your expectations for “home-cooked meals”, but everyone is going to be just fine. Okie dokie, artichokie?

The five tips I am sharing with you today aren’t going to bring the magic (that’ll come later). These suggestions are adjustments or implementations that may aid you in finding your footing with this whole thing. So here we go. But first…one more deep breath.

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Yes, Even Tiger King

I believe you can learn something from ANYTHING.

Well, except maybe from Tiger King. All of our brains need a good wash down after bingeing that hot mess.

But actually, I take that back. In an alternate universe where that train-wreck of a show is child-friendly, even Tiger King could be an excellent jumping off point for a unit study.

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1,000 Book Challenge: March

For those of you unfamiliar with our 1,000 Book Challenge, you can find more details in my previous post — https://fiercelittlelearners.com/2020/03/31/just-one-more-page-momma/.

The gist of it is that as a New Year’s Resolution, my kiddos decided we would strive to read 1,000 picture books during 2020. And there were stipulations… chapter books and re-reads couldn’t count toward our total, AND it had to be a book that none of us had previously read. And that last part was the kicker because as a former elementary school teacher and self-professed nerd of epic proportions, I have read A LOT of children’s lit.

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This Isn’t Homeschooling

It just isn’t. Calling what’s happening in homes across America right now “homeschooling” is like calling a piece of bread, birthday cake.

One of the things I love most about our lifestyle is the fact that we are not constrained by the four walls of our home. Math can take place in a garden. Science class can be held at a planetarium. Our P.E. can be early-morning swim lessons. We have homeschooling friends that we’re able to have spontaneous play dates with just because the weather’s nice that day and by golly, we’re feeling a little picnic-y.

There’s an enormous amount of flexibility and freedom in homeschooling. So yeah, this isn’t exactly the chocolate cake with sprinkles that we’re used to, but we’re still thankful for our daily bread.

Now, I know it’s not my responsibility to hold the heavy weight of homeschooling’s reputation on my shoulders… but when you’re on the other side of something unconventional, it’s hard not to be defensive. Before I continue, I want to make something clear…

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But What Do You Do With… HER?

Without a doubt, the question I am most frequently asked regarding homeschooling is:

“But what do you do with… HER?”

The questioner skeptically raises one eyebrow and motions toward the whiny toddler who is wrapped around my left leg with the force of thirty boa constrictors.

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