Homer’s Odyssey and Croatia

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This is the first year of homeschooling for our family. I thought it would be best to start with our oldest kid so that together we could ease into a routine and uncover what works and what is a total fail.  The younger two kids still attend traditional school, for now.

With the school year in full swing, I decided to assign higher level required literature. I’m feeling really good about myself for mixing things up and adding 10 books that smart people read. Within the first week, our son read 2 books. Both are works by Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey.


Hmmm, now what? If he keeps reading at this pace, he will finish all the books in no time.

The hamster wheel in my head starts turning, slowly, but it’s going. Before this gets too painful and my brain starts hurting, I decide to add brief book reports with the surprise  “Did you know?” section. The idea is to share a trivial fact about the book with something that readers might not know. Boom, that should keep him busy. Picture the Grinch with the curling smile and that just about epitomizes me in that moment.

grinch evil smile


Our son comes to me and says, “Mama, why do you keep giving me assignments that are about Croatia?

First of all, this is a new evil genius idea that I cooked up so he’s exaggerating. Second, what does Croatia have to do with Homer?


Warning, huge blonde moment of a parent failing below.

My 11-year-old is irritated and about to have a typical middle school tantrum when the light bulb goes off in his head. He sees it, the dumb blank stare on my face. It’s the look that says, I have no idea what’s happening right now. He knows that victory is his, all he needs to do is figure out his end game. Negotiation begins before he bothers to clue me in:

Son: Oral report, no writing.

Me: Not going to happen.

Son: Writing a review of the book, not a full book report, one page only, handwritten.

Me: Better, but no. Needs to be typed in a lower font, not triple spaced…

Son: Typed book review, 1 page only or an oral report if I can figure out a connection between the books and Croatia.

Me: Deal!

After doing a small victory dance, my son tells me that we went to the Island that Homer mentioned in the Odyssey.

Mljet, one of the islands in Croatia.  I remember the island but nothing about Homer’s Odyssey.

Vranjes kid’s, Island of Mljet 

My son was apparently listening when the local tour guide was telling us about the island history. I was to busy staring at this guy walking around in his underwear carrying a parasol, resulting in me totally tuning out the guide. OMG, I just got caught failing at parenting!  My clever kid used our family photos to school me on the Odyssey. It is with his help that I am sharing this with you, my readers.

The underwear parasol guy who distracted me.
Underwear Parasol guy who distracted me. Oh come on! How was I seriously supposed to concentrate with this guy walking around in front of me? 

According to Legend, the island of Mljet is Homer’s Island of Ogygia in his book the Odyssey.  Ulysses finds himself shipwrecked on an island, home to the goddess Calypso. Poor guy has been trying to get home to Ithaca after his victory in the Trojan war. Calypso falls in love and decides to keep Ulysses for 7 years as her captive. Guess he’s not getting home any time soon.

mljet 3
The inviting waters of the Island Mljet. 

The Island of Mljet is home to the Odysseus cave. The ancient Greeks knew about the island of Mljet and even wrote about it. There is evidence dating back to the 4th century. The Greeks named the island Melita, which translates to honey. Could this really be the place Homer describes?

Odysseus Cave
splija na mljetu
Odysseus Cave

Whether or not the legends are true, Mljet will forever go down as a legendary place for me. This island has now become synonymous for being schooled by my 7th grader.

Mara Vranjes Instagram








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