Monday, August 9, 2021

{This and That} :: Back to School!

Well, we are officially back to school!

I can't believe my oldest two are sophomores this year! I also have a middle schooler, four elementary students, a kindergartener, and two littles.

I hope to share throughout the year here about our schooling adventures! I'm going to try to get a post up in the next couple weeks with some early reflections, a peek at our timetable, and an update on plans and lessons.

You can also find more day-to-day snaps over on Instagram: @celeste_cruz. (My account is currently public, so even if you don't have an Instagram account, you can follow along. I think of it like a micro-blog. :))


I got back a few weeks ago from a whirlwind trip to the East Coast with the CMEC. We hosted Summer Gatherings in three cities over four days: Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Washington DC!

My trip started off with a cross-country flight that was delayed twelve hours and became an unexpected red-eye. 

I got to Philadelphia early Wednesday morning, and our first event was that afternoon. Somehow I managed to give my talk and lead everyone through brush drawing on an hour's sleep -- it was so heartening to see friends and meet new moms that the adrenaline carried me through! And the team from The Mason Academy who hosted the event did a stellar job.

The next day, Amy and I drove to DC and flew to Atlanta. We were met at the airport by CMEC member Melissa, who hosted us at her beautiful home and acted as our driver. Wonderful Southern hospitality -- she was an absolute delight!

On Friday was our Atlanta event, hosted by our friend Heather. I first met Heather when she and her littlest flew out for a CM West retreat a few years ago. Now it was my turn to pay her a visit, and I was thrilled to be able to meet her husband and children too. Heather and her team ran an organized and inviting afternoon for families in the area, and the moms that were able to attend were so interesting and kind.

Her church had a lovely space for us to use, and her friend Brittny hosted us at her home for a delicious dinner. All the green I saw in Atlanta was a balm to my dried-out-Cali-summer soul!

Early the next morning, Amy and I flew back to DC for the event there that afternoon. This was our biggest event of the three -- the church was packed with mothers and babies!

The DC crowd had so much energy and lots of vibrant conversation. I got to meet some ladies I have known online for ages (which was the case at each event!).

Immediately after the DC event, we drove back to Philadelphia, arriving in the middle of a huge downpour. We don't often have lightning and thunder in California, so it was a fun treat for me! The next few days were spent in meetings, talking through all of our plans for the coming year -- so much easier to do in person than online like we usually work. 

I was never fully able to make up for the lost sleep of that first night and spent a good chunk of the week in a bit of a daze! But there were so many grace-filled meetings and moments.

Speaking of the CMEC: registration for the 2021-2022 School Year will be closing August 30th! We are excited about all the new families and groups who have joined us this year. There has been so much energy at our meetings this summer, and we have our big Kick-Off coming up August 16th.

If you're not yet on our contact list but would like to get updates on the CMEC, head over to sign up! And if you're interested in our offerings, request an Information Packet to see samples and video tours of our curriculum and our website.


I mentioned this above and on social media but didn't get a chance to formally share here: Gianna finished her first novel, Four Red Banners!

This has been a big project for her over the past two years, and I'm so proud of her for seeing it through with such enthusiasm and dedication!

The first draft of the book was told to her younger sisters, night after night at bedtime. In the weeks following, she would write by hand each chapter. She spent months typing it up once written, and about a year editing, formatting, and designing the book. Writing is her passion, and the characters of Four Red Banners are so real to her and her siblings that they seem almost to be part of our family.

It's a story of civil war, treason, and intrigue with strong male friendships, a budding (and very wholesome) romance, and a mysterious bit of fantasy. I see so much influence from the many, many good books she has read over the years, from Alcott's Eight Cousins to Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse, to more modern favorites like Eloise Jarvis McGraw's Mara, Daughter of the Nile and Rosemary Sutcliff's Knight's Fee. Those little echoes have been so delightful and heartening to find.

We have gone back and forth about the age recommendation for this novel -- I think perhaps 10-13yo is the sweet spot for homeschool students, but my 8-9yos also love it, as did teen friends. She has been thrilled to get such great feedback so far!


Speaking of writing: thanks to Gianna's inspiration over the past few years, my younger kids have become very dedicated storytellers as well. Here is Andrew's latest. If you are familiar with Four Red Banners, you may notice some sweet similarities!


And because I can't resist, a couple cute (albeit blurry) baby pics. Emilia is 18 months old! Almost all of her pictures have this funny little smirk -- doesn't she just ooze adorable mischief?!


I'll be back soon with an update on lessons and a little post I'm pulling together about summer routines.

When do you start back to school?


  1. Thank you for sharing. Wow what a whirlwind trip! And poor you for the 12 hour delay and subsequent lack of sleep.
    You are incredible, your children are incredible, there are no other words for it!

    We don't start homeschooling till the English school term begins, which isn't till September.
    Best wishes


    1. Thank you so much, Antonia! (Blogger had my comments set to moderated, so I'm just seeing this now!) I appreciate your kind wishes and pray you have had a blessed beginning to your school year!

  2. I just ordered Gianna's book! Emilia is so cute. I also have a mischievous 16 month old. We started back this past month--our first week of done. I like new beginnings. I'm eager to dive into all of our readings this year.

  3. I ordered Gianna's book and my son finished it in 2 days!! Please pass on to her that he thoroughly enjoyed it. My oldest son also enjoys writing and has written some poetry and short stories, but reading Gianna's book has inspired him to try a longer chapter book. I would really LOVE to hear how you helped Gianna or what resources you/she used for such an endeavor. My son will be turning 12 this fall and we have used CM's philosophy for 7 years. He has a vast vocabulary for his age and writes excellent written narrations. However, I am not sure how to guide him in writing fiction. Thanks for any recommendations!

    1. Thank you so much, Alana! (Sorry, Blogger was moderating my comments, so I am just seeing this now. :)) I'm so glad he liked it and will pass along the note. I have to say that I did not guide Gianna in writing fiction at all. I feel completely out of my league in that project. :) I did help her in the editing process, after it was written -- that I found pretty simple, just as someone who is widely read and has a background in writing, grammar, and teaching literature. But the writing process was all her, from start to finish. I wish I could be more help! I hope he jumps right in! :)