Very Personal Family Celebration of Juneteenth

I discovered the names of fugitive slaves in our family who were later emancipated #Juneteenth #freedom #ancestry


My father researched our genealogy & passed that job to me before he went to heaven. As I recently discovered the names of escaped slaves in our family, my heart leaped. I can only imagine how Juneteenth would have made their hearts leap to no longer be fugitives.

Sam Smith (left), Family History Researcher

I am now passing down research to my children, too. Knowledge is power. Understanding how your own family fits into history is truly powerful.

[IDEA LIST] UPDATED Ways to Celebrate Teens’ Achievements In Midst of Pandemic


For parents/grandparents/guardians all over the world, we have all been sorely disappointed with the ending of our young scholars’ 2020 senior years. All of the traditional milestones we experienced ourselves, and hoped for them to experience this year, have been cancelled and postponed. Some have been replaced with virtual celebrations, which, though they’re a nice concession, they’re just a concession. What’s been missed and/or lost can never fully be replaced, and you have a right to grieve that loss. BUT…


For the sake of our family members, we must keep a brave face and move forward. We must choose to find the silver lining and the full half of the glass. Choosing to focus on the positive and remember what we’re grateful for (i.e., health and togetherness as a family) will pay great dividends in the end. It will help us all get through this era in world history with our health and minds in tact, and to come out wiser and happier at the end.


So, if you feel like you’re just not creative enough to figure out how to celebrate your teen/s, here are some ideas to help get you started:

  • Order a special meal from their favorite restaurant and go pick it up (or have it delivered) – we did this to celebrate Justine and Samuel’s college scholarships
  • Get their favorite treat as a surprise in your next grocery order/shopping and then everyone at home hug them and congratulate them – we did this for Charity’s all A honor roll achievement
  • Play cards or board games with them… get them off of their devices; remind them, especially if college-bound, that there won’t be a lot more time to spend together like this
  • Feature them on your social media and let family and friends shout them out and congratulate them – one of my teens’ classmates and her mom created a whole movement to gather sponsors/mentors into a facebook group for all of the graduates at our school… and they are adopting the teens and sending them gifts, but also becoming resources for them as they move forward into college and careers.
  • Use snail mail to send out an old fashioned announcement about their graduation or other achievements
  • Plan a get together as soon as pandemic is over and ask guests to save the date
  • Ask family and friends to drive by and honk and wave instead of coming inside, just as featured on many good news reports
  • Create a wish list on Amazon or their favorite store so guests can send the gifts that your kids have chosen
  • Do you have a creative way to celebrate your kids? Please leave a comment and share. (No ads nor promotions allowed.)

If you’d like to see what I’ve been sharing with family and friends about our teens, connect with me on Instagram (donnamarie234grad).


Oh, and for those of you who are wondering how we’ve been doing since the children transitioned into their teen years:

Our oldest, Justine, is an adult and headed to a private women’s college to study elementary education. She has consistently stayed on the honor roll throughout her academic career, and has won a full scholarship to college for all four years. She has also been a competitor and winning finalist in writing and speaking competitions where she one cash and scholarships. She has also dedicated herself to volunteering and to giving her all as a leader amongst her peers at work. She has participated in leadership organizations in the community and at school, and is well prepared to continue standing out as a strong leader as she moves forward academically and in her future teaching career.

Our middle, Samuel, is 18 months younger than his sister, and is also graduating because he skipped 6th grade in middle school. He is a Georgia Merit Scholar in the top 5% of all high school students in the state of Georgia due to both his grades and his high SAT/ACT scores. His academic giftedness, high achievements and dedication to service at school and within the community made him highly competitive for many of the top private and public colleges and universities. Several of those top schools offered him gift aid for four full years averaging at least $120k per school. He chose one of the most prestigious to attend for studying the humanities as an undergraduate scholar, for continuing as a medal-winning debater, and for preparing well for a future career focused on civic justice law.

And our youngest, Charity, who had a rough start as a kindergartner due to reading challenges, is now in middle school on the all A honor roll. She is not only fluent in the language arts, but is also now tutoring other students to help them with their reading and writing. She also joined the orchestra as a percussionist and had two performances before the pandemic shutdown started. This is her first year leaving homeschool for public school, and now she is back at home due to the pandemic. Despite being home, she is still in the top of her class and receiving rave reviews from her teacher. She is very self-motivated and has been going above and beyond to get her studies done from home. We are so proud of her growth, because there was a time where she genuinely did not like school and did not have much motivation to achieve better grades.


“So, as you can see students of all types can be successful in their academic careers when they are homeschooled, and don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise.” ~ Donna Marie Johnson, @DonnaMarie234grad

If this is what your family chooses to do (and even if you’re just forced into it via the pandemic), stay connected with older homeschool families so you can see how their kids are doing and listen to their advice. That’s what has gotten us through all of these years, staying connected with other families in the community who choose to homeschool.


And now, as we transition to parenting young adults, we’ve also started receiving support from a friend, Vanessa Hogan-Filmore, who has children slightly older than ours. Check out her Instagram page, upcoming events, and a new recommended resource “Mothering & Daughtering” by Eliza Reynolds, which she will be using during one of her events. She is a wise and empathetic mentor to moms who are transitioning to a new stage of parenting.



[REBOOTED] Breathing New Life into Butterfly Homeschool Blog

Dear Parents / GrandParents / Guardians

be encouraged during this very unique season in world history due to COVID19 (aka the much hated coronavirus), because…

you are not alone

…as you seek to create a healthy atmosphere for continued digital learning at home for the next month or two. I and many other homeschool veterans in communities worldwide are present online to keep you encouraged and provide helpful tips to help you get through this season day by day by day.


I call this homeschool blog “rebooted” because I archived it due to all of my children being in rolled in public schools. I “thought” that I was done with homeschooling, but the coronavirus changed all of that very rapidly. I actually had a full 6 months of all of our children being out of the house at school. It was lovely, but that’s over now.

The great thing is that all of us are adjusting very quickly because we are veterans at this. AND, we are available to be a resource for other families as they make adjustments, too.

If you have specific questions, call or text me at __+1(678)861-8121__ … I will use this blog to reply with answers. Sometimes, I may even post videos via Instagram (@donnamarie234grad).

GrandDaddy was proud of the kids

I know their GrandDaddy would be so proud of them now. (Sam Smith on left, Donna on right)

I wanted to start this reboot of our homeschool blog by sharing some vital tips that will help you gain/keep a healthy perspective. This is the first step in having successful schooling at home because YOU are the key to making that happen, or not, even if “success” for your family doesn’t look the same as it looks for us or for others.

So, my most important recommendation is that you 1st gain a healthy perspective about…


…it can easily become a silent killer of people’s health and of relationships.

Past articles I shared on how anxiety impacted us in the past  and on tips for how we overcame anxiety can be found below:

I am planning to also create videos, based on your questions and feedback… so please send me a connection request via Instagram (currently set to private because I share about family and friends and need to protect the young ones).

Oh, and also, for those of you with older children / youth, connect with me on IG to exchange info and encourage each other about transitioning to that stage of life. On my IG, you’ll also see my other homeschooler veteran friends and their tips/advice for parents “stuck” at home with kids due to quarantine and/or “shelter in place” orders given by state/local governments.

Until we connect, may you enjoy a peaceful weekend/spring break.

God bless you all.


Donna Marie Johnson, aka @donnamarie234grad


Our oldest two scholars are graduating with honors from public high school… and, despite all of my hopes and dreams for them, just like other families, they don’t get the chance to experience the normal senior activities of prom and walking across a commencement ceremony stage. So, we understand just how messed up things are right now. We are praying that all of the high schools and colleges worldwide figure out a way to at least celebrate graduation in person, maybe during the following end of year holidays. Again, God bless you, despite the many disappointments and inconveniences of this season.