Let Them Fly

I can see her now. 

Sitting on a landing, just outside her window; her legs folded closely to her chest, her arms wrapped securely around them.  Her forehead pressed against her knees.  

She is so very lonely.  


I can see them now.  

Four little girls, each creative, unique and beautiful soul looking to me, their mama, for guidance. 

When the pandemic hit, I cradled those babies in my arms, protecting them from the dangers that lie outside our loving nest.  

But life, ever-changing, continues.  

And lately, I’ve come to the stark realization that in my desire to protect my children, I am, instead, preventing their growth.  

How will they learn to adjust, when they are always accommodated?

I thought quitting homeschooling mid-year was the equivalent of failure. 

Now, I know that doing the same thing over and over, when it isn’t working, is the definition of insanity.  

In this case, quitting isn’t failing. 

It’s adapting. 

The course we are on is no longer what is best for my children and while making that pivotal turn towards something new is scary, it is also necessary for their continued growth.


I approach that little girl on the landing, placing the palm of my hand on top of her head, whispering, 

“One day, you’re going to be a mommy to four little girls and as much as you are going to want to shelter them, you don’t have to worry.  They will never be lonely.  Because they will have you.”

New Leaf Parenting. 

Every Day is a Fresh Start.

Turn the page. 

Start a new chapter. 

Let them fly.  

Camille Vaughan Photography


Lately, one of our daughters has been suffering from extreme anxiety.  We’ve been in counseling and seeing her pediatrician on a regular basis.  I’ve also supplemented my daily reading with a plethora of parenting books and podcasts and today, I wanted to share some resources that have been particularly helpful.  

1).  It all began with this book my friend, Leslie, recommended.  Sissy Goff is a Christian counselor MEd, LPC-MHSP based out of Nashville, TN.  She works exclusively with young girls who are suffering from worry, anxiety and/or depression alongside a counselor for boys, David Thomas, LMSW and Melissa Trevathan, MRE who started their practice Daystar Counseling in the 1980s.  This is a workbook designed for a parent to work through with their child and it has been an absolutely wonderful resource for our family.  

2).  This is the companion book to the workbook above, also by Sissy Goff, intended for parents to read as they support their daughter through worry and anxiety.  I have underlined half of the book. 

3).  This is the INCREDIBLE PODCAST that I have been listening to with counselors Sissy, David and Melissa.  Each episode is only 20-30 minutes and is PACKED with useful strategies, many of which I have implemented that very same day!  Season 4 Episode 7 is specially about worry and anxiety and depression and since it was recorded so recently, it really discusses the effect the pandemic has had on our children.  I cannot recommend this entire podcast enough, but particularly this episode!  If you do nothing else on this list, listen to this.  


4). Season 4 of the Raising Boys and Girls podcast is centered around Sissy’s newest book, Modern Parents, Vintage Values which I have in my reading pile but haven’t started.  Everything they discuss in the podcast is right in line with our family’s values so I cannot wait to begin this book! 

5). Finally, this is another book co-written by the same three counselors and another in my “to read” pile, by my side as I type.  

Philosopher Plato once said, “Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Happy photos on social media tell only one side of a story- a book with many chapters.  My hope is that in sharing a battle our own family is fighting, you will know you are not alone in yours.  I hope these resources are as useful to some of you as they have been to us.  ❤

Camille Vaughan Photography


It was an innocent assignment; written in the curriculum years before the pandemic even began. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a letter to children in 1947 and now it was my child’s turn:

“Write a letter to children in the future describing what life is like today for your family.”  

She began with the simple facts:  her age, family and hometown.

But by the second paragraph, my nine-year-old froze.  

Covid-19.  Living during a pandemic.  

And just like that- it was all too much to bear. 

It’s one thing to survive on a daily basis. 

It’s another to face it in words.

The fear, the masks, the social distancing.

“Mommy, I don’t want to do this.”  She cried.  

I held her, told her to take a break and later said, 

“We’ll do it together.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we cannot do it alone.  

We do it together. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Moving Beyond The Page, Epiphany Curriculum

Let’s Go!

One year ago, in the face of a dooming pandemic, I made the difficult decision to homeschool.

I worried.

Oh, I worried. 

I worried about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  I worried about them becoming hermits, afraid of unfamiliar shadows.  I worried about them being taught by their mom, because as a former teacher myself, I know the power of a teacher’s ability to reach students in a different way than other teachers, parents or friends and I wanted that for them.

In all honesty, I still want to be that for other students.

I worried about them being left behind, especially as they witnessed their friends still attend our beloved, local school.  

Ultimately, I went with my gut and we had an incredible year. 

Spring arrived and with it, the hope of the pandemic’s near-end. 

I started to prepare the girls for their return to school in the Fall, casually mentioning how cool it would be to wave to their friends in the hallway on their way to P.E., Music or Art class.  Did they know the Fall Festival was already booked for this year?  Were they looking forward to the Fun Run?

But upon Summer’s dawn, doubt settled in. 

A vaccine, that I had traveled to another state to get just so I could get it as soon as possible, was available and yet, less than half the country had opted to receive it.  The country was split- my body, my choice/ our country, our responsibility.  

Now, variants are on the rise and social distancing measures, including masks are still required at school.  

Holding a Masters in Elementary Education, I am in a unique situation.  

My husband has worked from home since the pandemic began and I am able to stay home to teach with hired help to occupy the girls not currently in lesson.  

Moreover, apparently I made homeschooling too fun.  All three big girls have begged to continue; and while part of me felt that this was fear-based on having been away for a year, I couldn’t bring myself to convince them that their school could provide a better learning environment than what we had going on right in the Carawan Classroom.  

My *entire* experience as a parent has been blessed with the wisdom of my elders: Don’t blink. Cherish these days.  It goes by SO fast.  

Combine the pandemic, the pressure from my children, the wisdom of my elders and my innate joy in continuing to teach my daughters, and here we are.

That time we homeschooled (X2). 


Let’s Go! 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Letting Go

Well, that was a first. 

My child had a full-blown panic attack. 

I could feel her fear when she said she couldn’t breathe.  

That her heart hurt. 

She was climbing onto me, spiraling out of control, desperate for me to save her. 

“You aren’t dying.  I know it feels like you are but you aren’t.  This is a panic attack.  Look at me.  Take deep breaths.”

Ironically enough, her father and I had just spent an hour the night before discussing the need for our family to spend more time listening to one another. 

Sure, we go, go, go!  We love adventures and experiences.  We spend quality time swimming, playing and exploring. 

But how much time have we set aside for listening?

We are living during a historical time- a pandemic- yes, this will be one for the history books. 

As much as we all have tried to buck up and just keep on, keepin’ on, many of us are silently suffering. 

And you know where it shows itself?

At the zoo.  Late for a train. 

Suddenly, it’s just too much. 

And we cannot any longer. 

So tonight, during our first, nightly family meeting, we opened the flood gates- offering our girls to let it out. 

It’s a process. 

When you’ve spent so much effort keeping it all in, it takes time. 

But we are committed to giving our children and each other the space to do just that. 

Let It Out.  Let It Go. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Pandemic 2020

Dear Child,

We are living through a historical event and as somewhat of a historian myself, I feel it my duty to record our current events.

Donald Trump is our current President and the divide between the two majority parties (democrats and republicans) has, to me, never been greater.  It’s difficult to experience, as someone who thrives on living along the line, considering both sides.  Citizens are passionate and polarized.  They both want change for the better and feel their cause deserves dedication. They are likely right in their own way, but when opposed, fire ignites.

I have family and friends in both parties so it is difficult to juggle. Some feel scared to rock the boat by discussing politics while others feel it is their duty.  I must admit that I fall into the first category.  I fully recognize change is not always possible with great conflict, but for me, great conflict has defined my childhood and it is what I am most afraid of.

As I admit this, I am reminded of Alexander Hamilton’s famous quote, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  I stand for listening and for considering. I stand for standing when it relates to me and that is where I recognize the issue.  I am privileged and was ignorant, until now.

Who stands with the minority?  If only always the minority then how can they ever become the majority? Perhaps this is what the majority fears.  After all, the Native Americans and the British were once the majority . . . .

So much to consider, it’s overwhelming on a daily basis.

Speaking of which, we are living through a pandemic!  Covid-19 to be exact.  It is a coronavirus, which is a respiratory illness.  There are also a lot of divisive opinions on how to respond to this virus.  Some feel masks and the new term “social distancing” (6 ft apart) is necessary, while others feel it is excessive. Our current Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, is a former pediatrician, so, he falls in the conservative category.

Some of our friends refuse to hug while others are offended if we don’t.  It is difficult to navigate.

It is also difficult to parent.

You have been out of public school since March 13th.  Initially, for 2 weeks, then, suddenly, for the remainder of the school year.  We were left to teach using online platforms and it was challenging to keep you motivated.  Sometimes you cried and were too overwhelmed to see your former classmates on a computer, frustrated by the inability to decipher who was speaking and what they were saying.  It felt chaotic and I hated that for you.

High school seniors missed their precious last rites: prom and graduation to name a couple.  It was devastating for parents and students alike but perhaps they are getting a head start on learning one of the most important lessons in life: to be adaptable. If they have children one day, they will certainly be humbled with that lesson, then!

Because of Covid-19, you did not see your grandparents for months due to fear of contraction and/or unknowingly spreading the virus to the most vulnerable populations: the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. At this point, almost a half a million people have died, worldwide, from this virus and over 100K of those were in the USA, alone!  So “social distancing” measures are still very much in place.

The first time you played with your neighbors across the street, after more than a month of quarantine, we drew a chalk line in the road to separate the families.  It was devastating and yet the best we felt we could do with the situation at hand.

You have begged for your friends, your extracurricular actives including ballet, piano and gymnastics and I have attempted to substitute with painting, baking (when flour is available!) and imaginative play.

Toilet paper.  That’s another crazy thing.

That was the first thing to go, can you believe it?  Toilet paper became the hot ticket item.  Not batteries or candles like hurricane season for us, but toilet paper! Now, on social media, I have ads for bidets and some restaurants offer a roll of toilet paper with your order to try and entice your purchase.  While bidets are common in Europe, for us Americans, the suggestive advertisement is super unusual.

Gas prices are also at an all time low.  The last time I remember gas prices dropping below $2 was before September 11, 2001.  Currently, in June of 2020, I can get a gallon of gas in Virginia for $1.79 a gallon.  If only there was somewhere to go . . . .

The economy is struggling.  Small business, especially.  Unemployment is at an all-time high.  We went from a rate of 3.5% in January 2020 to over 14% of Americans unemployed in April due to social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus.  Playgrounds, zoos, aquariums, water parks, concert venues, salons and retail stores have been completely closed.  Restaurants were allowed to offer take-out only and even now in “phase 2”, they are only allowed to seat at 50% capacity.  We actually went out to dinner last night for the first time since February and had to order upon entry, picking our own “to go” food up from the counter to eat at an outside table.  There were no servers or anything reusable which makes you wonder about the effects on the environment.

In the beginning, the environment seemed to rebound.  Italian canals, void of gondolas and the rest, were filled with clear water and fish! Clear skies in Los Angelas could be seen! Airports are vacant, cruise-lines are cancelled.  Lord, humans were the problem all along.

But now everything is disposable.  You cannot enter a store without a mask and should not wear them twice or without washing, if reusable.  Shopping carts at grocery stores (if you aren’t having them delivered or picking them up!) are cleaned between every use and stores that were once open 24 hours are now closed for deep cleaning.  Disposables are at an all-time high and it makes me wonder what the next generations will be dealing with as a result.

I wonder all of the time.

I wonder what life will be like for you next year.  For now, I am heavily planning to homeschool for the sake of consistency.  I fear that, although currently low, Covid-19 case numbers will begin to rise with the return of school and cold/flu season.  Recent plans have called for you to attend school in-person just two days a week with social distancing protocols including 6 ft between desks and the avoidance of exposure to other students, taking away the socialization you and I both love about school.  The other three days would consist of online learning which we endured for three short months at the end of this past year.  I cannot imagine an entire year of it.  Moreover, I am a former teacher with a Masters in PreK-6 education, so if anyone should be capable of teaching you, it should be me!  Having said that, I have many friends with full-time jobs.  What are they to do?  Teach and work full time?  Like hell!  It’s impossible. It’s precisely why I quit teaching fourth grade to become your mommy.  I knew I couldn’t do both, yet here we are.

Here we are child.

We are in tumultuous times.  Full of masks in response to the pandemic and riots for the rights of African Americans in the face of police brutality (look up George Floyd, Alton Sterling, and Michael Brown among many others).  Citizens are fighting for their rights and historically, change has not come without representation.  Much remains to be seen.

2020 has been bizarre (murder hornets?!)  but in a weird way, perhaps necessary to come to terms with what really matters.

I am doing my best to consider and respond to it all while still parenting you in the process.

I have no idea of how well I am doing but I do know that we cannot know where we are going until we know where we have come from.

So this recollection is for you.

There’s not much to be sure of these days but there’s always one thing and that is that I love you.

No matter the circumstances, you can always count on that.

And don’t you ever forget it.



Camille Vaughan Photography


“There is no fix.”

That is what I told him after our last argument.

This is not a fixable issue.

This is just the way it is.

Him, working home full time surrounded by me and our four young daughters.

Me, overwhelmed with the rearing and education of our daughters on top of the insurmountable housework.

Our fuses are short. Lit quickly by the tiniest flame.

And right now?  During a pandemic with stay-at-home orders?  There’s no out.

No, there’s no way to fix that.

But we can talk.

We can argue and let. it. out.

“Keep talking.” I told him.  “And I will, too.”

No, we can’t fix it.  But we can talk.

And that’s our release.

Camille Vaughan Photography