new essay at salon

March 28, 2020

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I’m thrilled to have an essay up at Salon today. For all the families who suddenly find themselves home with their kids.

I keep seeing them on social media: The “school schedules” written on kitchen whiteboards, shared proudly by parents newly tasked with home-schooling in the face of a pandemic. Those whiteboards make my heart sink — they sent me straight back 22 years.

My oldest was five. We were just starting out as home-schoolers. I wrote out detailed lesson plans, as I’d done in my four years as an elementary school teacher. Henry loved my plan for building a house from a refrigerator box; he spent hours on it. Studying a diagram in a book, he managed to make a door handle from a thread spool. It had a cardboard latch that locked when he turned it.

The rest of my plans didn’t thrill him. When I asked him to fill in a graph at the kitchen table, he slumped and grunted. I was his mother, not his teacher, and he didn’t care about pleasing me. He liked hearing “This is the House that Jack Built,” but when I suggested we write our own version of the story—a classic literary exercise in 1990s classrooms—he kept painting the door of his cardboard house.

 “That’s dumb,” he said. “Somebody already did it.”

Read the rest at Salon. If you’re new here, I tried to provide some ideas for parents in my previous post.

Please consider sharing if you know someone it might help. xo.



March 18, 2020
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Hello! See that photo there? That was our first day homeschooling. More than 22 years ago. If you’ve come here via Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or who knows where, welcome. Especially if you’re a parent who suddenly finds yourself home with your kids and that’s not where you planned to be. Please let me […]

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the liminal space of the college application essay

January 27, 2020
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I’ve spent the last month or so helping T with his college application essays. It’s a little hard to believe. Ten years ago his brother was applying to film school, and I was writing about The College Application Monster. Six years ago I talked and talked with his sister about her essays, including the Common […]

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November 1, 2019
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We came back together a year later, not far from where we’d gathered before. The six of us, in the second residency of our year-long program. We found ourselves in a grand family home this time, rather than on a farm, on the Boquet River in Elizabethtown, far upstate New York. Tall columns out front, […]

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offering the feedback a writer really needs

February 11, 2019
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I’ve been thinking about how we offer feedback to writers. Partly because I’ve been sharing my work with a group of fellow writers, for the first time in a long time. And also because I recently received an email from a lovely reader of this blog named Stephanie. It began like this: Hi Patricia… I […]

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images as pathways in

October 17, 2018
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From my journal, November 24, 2003: “Oh, and I’m reading Wintering, a novel of Sylvia Plath. Beautiful, poetic writing. I’m reading the book slowly, savoring the language and Plath’s poetry at the same time. Want to take notes, want to write it all down, want to let it change me.” I always loved the cover […]

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ten years on the wonder farm

July 18, 2018

Wonder Farm is ten years old today! I hope you’ll indulge me in some reminiscing. And then maybe you’ll wish a happy birthday in the comments–I’m giving away books to bribe you!         one. I first hit publish on July 18, 2008. Like everyone, I want to be Soule Mama. I dabble […]

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