Over the past year and a half, I have been pretty quiet as a blogger. We have walked through seasons of uncertainty with Covid restrictions, seasons of battling the return of my mom's breast cancer, and seasons of creative learning adventures that I'm excited to start sharing with you all again.
The good news is that I'm back and ready to give you a recap of our journey as well as what's new with Family Style Schooling. The gang is all here and excited to share with you what God has been doing in our lives!
When the pandemic hit, my son came home from college, and my college-aged niece was living with us at the time. Like many of you, I found myself exhausted between learning Zoom and keeping a house of seven running in quarantine.
For us, the restful pace of everything shutting down was actually enjoyable. We worked in the backyard, read lots of books, and grew closer as a family. My kids began leading worship with my husband, and they had a unique opportunity to serve their church family while everything was shut down.
My mom really got into the book reading, and we made a paper chain with every book we read. We circled the kitchen twice in the year and read over 700 books.
It’s difficult to process all the loss and grief the year brought. That is somewhat due to the fact that I got Covid in August 2021, and my brain has not operated in the same way since. The other reason is that in August of 2020, we found out that my mom’s cancer had returned.
The Return of Cancer
In March 2005, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was only six months after my dad had suddenly passed away from a heart attack. By the grace of God, she fought hard through surgery, chemo, and radiation, and a year later was considered “Cancer Free.” Those are really nice words to hear.
She is really one incredibly resilient lady. Fifteen years later, we noticed a bump on her neck. With all of the Covid restrictions, some of the preliminary exploratory appointments were postponed, and it took a little over six months to finally receive the hard news that her cancer had returned.
So amid Covid concerns, we added “compromised immune system” to the list and began a new series of treatments for cancer. I am so thankful that my mom lives with us and that we can walk with her through her treatments.
The good news is that she responded well to radiation, and she’s doing very well now. She’s stayed healthy even when I got Covid, and she’s back to traveling and loving on her grandkids.
Creative Learning Adventures
We are halfway through our middle daughter’s senior year in Classical Conversations, and my youngest is in Challenge II. This year brings us to our eleventh year of CC. My youngest started at 4, and we’re still going strong. I’m so thankful for classical education and how it offers such a beautiful and individualized education for every kind of learner. Each of my kids is so unique, and my youngest has benefitted from the education I’ve received from working with her two older siblings.
In April this year, I started working with a neurodevelopmental therapist to help my youngest with her learning struggles. We have seen incredible progress in so many areas, and I want to tell you ALL about it…but that will have to be a post for another day.
This process has been similar to repairing the foundation of your house. It’s costly but difficult for outsiders to appreciate the extent of the work because it’s not visible. However, it is life-changing work.
That leads me to how God has been working in our family…the creativity is flowing over here.
Fresh Pursuits in 2022
I love collaborating with my family. They are some of the most talented and creative people I know. It is fun to see how God has equipped us with different strengths that work so well together. Here are some of the fun things to be watching for this year!
- Jason spent the advent season writing songs to help our family prepare for Christ’s birth. This was an ambitious project that ended up involving the whole family when weariness threatened. Currently, Andy set up Jason’s drum set in my library, which is now more of a recording studio.
- Andy is currently a junior at Ouachita Baptist University. He is digging into music recording, story writing, Greek translating, and visual storytelling—all while keeping up with his academic studies and volunteering with Campus Ministries and tutoring Greek and Latin. You will get to hear some of his music, read some of his poetry, journey with him as he writes stories, and much more!
- Alyssa is a senior and intends to attend Ouachita Baptist University in the fall to study Graphic Design. Painting en Plein air, which means “painting outdoors” in French has captured her heart. This week, she’s launching her own YouTube channel chronicling her journey in painting. She’s also working on her senior thesis with CC, which centers around the power of beholding God’s creation. She will be sharing her thoughts with you as she researches that topic. You are going to love it!
- Audrey is a sophomore and thankfully has a couple more years with me! She’s become a pretty lovely songwriter and is pretty much the inspiration for Andy’s deep dive into music production. You will get to hear her music and glimpse the beautiful ways God shapes her heart as she seeks him.
- I get the honor of supporting a household of creative people in feeding them, encouraging them, equipping them, and championing them in all they pursue. It has been a blessing to learn with them and seek God for wisdom to best direct their ventures.
So I’m back, or I should say we’re back! I’m excited for a new year of creating as a family in Family Style Schooling because education is life, and we do it family style!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.