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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Mowers

The Good Stuff

While many of my friends are binge watching Netflix during this strange quarantine time, I have never been busier. Bored? What's that?

Along with teaching and writing (my new book comes out next month! Hooray!) I am now homeschooling my children. This is something I enjoy doing when my to-do list isn't out of control for the day.

When quarantine began for us back in March, teachers and friends emailed me so many educational links to help keep my children busy and productive all day. There were websites for 101 different math games or 101 art projects using household objects. They could spend their days emerged in websites about science or history. They could learn new languages or, my favorite, they could take virtual tours of art museums from around the world!

As clever as all of these websites were, after a week of trying them all out, we gave up. It was too overwhelming to stay on top of all the options of edutainment; world news developments were overwhelming enough.

The Mowers House has entered a new season of homeschooling in quarantine that I refer to as "Catching Toads".

My youngest is obsessed with the toads that live around our back porch. We live in the country and are never at a loss for things to do outside. So once my children complete their assigned lessons for the day, I usher them outside to catch toads and play in the mud...or in the rain...or in the woods. We are all very happy with this arrangement.

My children have built their own aquariums for their pseudo-pet toads. Their favorite toad is a fat one we call "Chill" because he does not try to hop away after you catch him. The toads are in a catch-and-release program, spending time each day in their outdoor aquariums as my children have fun building huts for them out of bark and sticks. Then the toads are released before dinnertime. Somehow my children can always find their specific toad the next morning. I think that when my children think back on life in quarantine, they will think of Chill and all the cool forts they constructed for him.

So what is a memory of your favorite childhood activity? Did you play in the rain? Climb trees? Catch fish? Ride your bike all over town until the streetlights came on? What do you remember most? What did you spend long stretches of time doing during the summer months?

My new book, WHERE THE HEART MAY LEAD, comes out next month. One of my characters is a grade-school aged girl named, Lucy. I could not write this book without thinking of my own children and of my own childhood, especially all the time I spent playing near ponds and lakes. Lucy, who lives in a small town on the fictional Little Lake Roseley, strikes me as the kind of girl who would consider a day of catching toads, a day well spent. And why not? Days in the sunshine...toads in your pockets...that's the good stuff.

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