Saturday, February 28, 2009

Homeschool Basketball - State Tournament Champs!

This weekend was the NCHEAC ( North Carolina Home Educators Athletic Conference ) State Basketball Championships in Greensboro. Last weekend there were two regional tournaments - the West Regionals was in Winston-Salem, and the East Regionals was here in Wake Forest. The top two teams of each level ( middle school, jv, varsity ) from the regionals advanced to the state tournament, so our JV Girls, Varsity Girls, and Middle School Boys traveled to Greensboro yesterday. The Lighthouse MSB faced a bigger and faster team from Asheville, NC, and lost that match-up yesterday afternoon. The Lighthouse JV Girls, which includes my daughter Amanda, followed, playing against a team from Surry County. We played a great game and came out on top, which put us in the championship game against Fayetteville. We had just beat Fayetteville in the Regionals, but had lost two close games to them during the regular season. Both teams came ready to prove they deserved the top spot - but the game didn't start until 9:45 pm, and energy levels were flagging. The Lighthouse girls reached deep and pulled ahead early, utilizing their collection of plays - Itsy Bitsy, Badooka, Wanda, Lydia, Sweet, W, Spread, Alley Oop - and came home with the 1st Place Trophy!!

Congratulations, Eagles!

Amanda was chosen for the JV Girls All-Tournament Team

The Varsity Girls won their first game against Cabarrus-Rowan Co., to advance to the championship game against a powerful Surry Co. team this afternoon. We didn't get to see that game, but a text message this evening sent the news that the Eagles had played hard and came home with the 2nd place trophy. Way to go, ladies!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Winter is transitioning to spring here in North Carolina - days with temps in the 70's immediately followed by diving temps into the 30's, then back to the 50's, down to the 40's, up to the 60's - up and down. So you know what that means. Everyone we know is SICK - and we are teetering on the edge here ourselves. Last week Jason was congested and head-achy and tired and feeling yucky, and this week it is Amanda. I am resisting the germs by sheer will power, I think. That and pots of homemade chicken soup, zinc lozenges, Emergen-C, and hot tea. Jason had a cough that kicked up when he laid down in bed at night, but I put Vicks VapoRub on the bottoms of his feet, covered them up with socks, tucked him in, and he slept quietly. Don't know why, but it works!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Update on Iraq

Alex is still in Kuwait for only a couple more days, and then his brigade heads in to Iraq, where he'll spend the next year. His first week there was pretty relaxed, but the past few days have been busy with field training exercises. Please pray for Alex and his platoon, as they all have sore throats and various degrees of laryngitis - perhaps from change of climate?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Art Class : "Four Fish"

Here is Jason's most recent art project. After learning about color by mixing up colored frosting for our edible color wheel, we turned to acrylic paints and tropical fish. After looking at pictures of tropical fish and tracing some with tracing paper, the boys each sketched their own tropical fish on a piece of drawing paper, tracing over their pencil lines with x-fine black Sharpie. I then made 4 photocopies of their drawings to paint for our project. The first was painted using primary colors, with a secondary color for the background. Next was a picture using warm colors, then cool colors, and finally a monochromatic painting, using a single hue plus white or black. When the four paintings were dry, I mounted them on a sheet of black poster board for quite a dramatic effect, don't you you think?

Here's Jason with some of his and his sister's artwork at our Tapestry of Grace Unit 2 Celebration "Afternoon of the Arts" last Sunday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Resources for Homeschooling in High School

If you are considering homeschooling and have or will have a high schooler, be prepared to do some research. Buy yourself a 3-ring binder and start filling it with information , because you will be referring back to it often. The fact is, you will be taking on the role of not only teacher, but also guidance counselor, as you navigate issues such as career choices, college admissions, and drivers licenses.

At the meeting last Saturday, we discussed the following topics:
  • Creating a high school plan
  • Record Keeping
  • Transcripts
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Testing

One place to find information on all this and more is the HSLDA site "Homeschooling Thru High School". Spend some time reading through the information on this website and you will have a great foundation from which to work.

There are also some great books that will help you in planning and proceeding through high school with confidence. Two of my favorites are
Barb Shelton's Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+u+la

and Jeanne Gowan Dennis's Homeschooling High School

Creating a High School Plan
A high school plan is simply a 4-year plan of academic courses, as well as practical skills and any other requirements that you or your state deems necessary for graduation from high school.
To create a high school plan, the best way is to start at the end and work backward. What that means is that you should talk to your child and determine what his or her goals are for life after high school. If college is a possibility, then create a high school plan based on the admissions requirements of the most selective school they might be applying to. If the workplace or military is their goal, then find out what skills or training is required for that particular field or branch, and include that in your high school plan. A high school plan can be as individual as your child. You can include things like hours of volunteer work, practical skills such as cooking and first aid/CPR, a list of books you expect your student to have read in addition to their academic coursework, a missions trip, work experience, a "senior project" ... whatever you as the parent/teacher think is important for your child to accomplish before leaving home. That is your high school plan.

Record Keeping

Depending upon where you live, you might be required by the government to keep specific types of school records. But even if you live someplace like North Carolina, which only requires attendance records, immunization records, and annual achievement test scores, it is still important to keep a record not only of the high school courses that your student completes, but of all the extra things that he does, such as sports teams, music lessons, volunteer work, clubs, awards, church involvement, seminars or workshops attended, field trips, reading list, etc.

Any of these things might be important to a future employer, academic program, or institution of higher learning. Do not rely on your memory. Let me repeat that. Do not rely on your memory. Use a notebook, file folders, a shoebox, computer software, a high school record book, a calendar .... whatever fits your personal style and is something that you will use! Some people photocopy the title page and table of contents of every textbook used in high school to keep as part of their records. Some keep very detailed lesson plan and grade books. Some create a
portfolio/scrapbook of each year - either digital or hard copy. Some type up an annual summary that includes a list of textbooks and materials used, classes, field trips, and extracurricular activities. The important thing is to have information recorded and kept in a way that you can access it to create a transcript or to show someone what your child has accomplished during his high school years.

I don't how it works in other places, but here in NC, our homeschools are considered private schools by the state, and therefore I have the authority to create a transcript for my student. A transcript is simply a record of the academic work a student completed in high school. A transcript should be only one page long and typically includes the following information:
  • child's name, address, phone number, birth date, and social security number
  • parents' names
  • homeschool name
  • date issued / current school year
  • names of courses completed and in-progress, including credits earned and grade
  • grading scale
  • grade point average ( GPA )
  • most current standardized test scores
  • signature of parent
Both high school resource books listed above include information about creating high school transcripts. In addition, there are a few very good resources that I would recommend. Inge Cannon's Transcript Boot Camp DVD seminar is well-worth the money, and can be shared by members of a support group. Her company, EdPlus, also sells software called Transcript Pro that is very helpful. Teascript is an online transcript building service that is very user friendly, and was created by a homeschool graduate. Another excellent resource is a book called Transcripts Made Easy, by Janice Campbell.
Just a couple of points about creating transcripts - be sure your transcript is accurate and professional looking. You want to make a good impression. I also strive to make my kids' transcripts attractive, by using quality paper and a colored type for headings and titles. Although the main transcript is one page, I also include several addendums, including our Philosophy of Education, a page listing activities and achievements, and several pages of course descriptions in which I list each course and list the books/materials used, as well as a couple of sentences describing the course, whether or not it included a hands-on or laboratory component, any trips or workshops that supplemented that course work, etc. This is "extra", but I think it augments the homeschool transcript nicely.

High school students who are applying to college must submit scores from either the SAT or ACT . These are standardized tests that are administered at a local high school, but can be registered for by any student online. There are books available at both bookstores and libraries that will help students to prepare for these exams. The websites for both of these tests also include lots of advice and help for students.
FUN FACT : In North Carolina, homeschool students are required to take an annual achievement test. The ACT meets that requirement because it is an achievement test, but the SAT does NOT because it is an aptitude test.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why Homeschool Teens?

On Saturday morning I, along with four other moms who wear the badge of having successfully (??) graduated one or more children, led a meeting on homeschooling in high school for our support group. It was held at the local homeschool bookstore & resource center with about 20 people in attendance. After homeschooling for 14 years and being involved in support group leadership for most of that time, I can tell you that nothing strikes fear in the heart of a homeschooling parent like "the high school years".


I have homeschooled my oldest three all the way through high school, and have another in 10th grade this year. I have survived, and so have my children! And... they are thriving. Now, I know what some of you are thinking. "She must be one of those super- organized, super- patient, super- smart, super women!" WRONG. Just ask my kids. They'll tell you in a flash...
I am not organized, I am not terribly patient, I am not a genius, and I don't own a cape! I have spent hours on my knees, crying and begging God to show grace and cover over all my mistakes. I have grown in wisdom over the years, and embraced flexibility and out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to education. I have changed direction several times when it comes to curriculum and my approach to homeschooling in high school. I guess I am tenacious, and just made myself keep going, even with fear and trembling.
And you know, it really isn't that bad! I really believe the greatest obstacle we have to overcome many times is our own fear. Because the resources and support are there!!! We just have to look for them and take advantage of the opportunities that God places in our paths!

Okay, so the first thing I shared with the assembly of eager and anxious homeschool parents yesterday was this article titled "Why Homeschool
Teens? " by Elizabeth Smith, wife of HSLDA president Mike Smith. When teens are notorious for thinking they know more than their parents, disliking hard work, and being moody and emotional due to raging hormones, why in the world would anyone want to homeschool them?
There really are several very good reasons!
First of all, homeschooling allows more time for building and cementing family relationships, and that is as important in the teen years as when children are young. It takes more determination and hard work as they get older and those things I mentioned above kick in, but the results are worth it. Second, educators tout the benefits of small class size and individualized instruction, and that is just what homeschooling offers a student. Flexibility is another key feature of homeschooling - flexibility to take days off, to lighten or increase the work load, to try a different approach, to develop a particular gift or passion. Safety is another factor that cannot be taken lightly in today's world, and students who school at home are generally spared the instense peer pressure to conform that is part of the "school culture". Finally, when we homeschool our teens, we can invite God to be part of every part of our day and help our teens to develop a Biblical worldview that will help them analyze and make sense of the world by looking at things through the eyes of our Creator and Redeemer.

Not everyone will agree that these reasons are valid or important.
But if you do, then buckle your seat belt and be prepared for a wild and wonderful ride. There will be mountaintops and there will be LOW valleys.... but be confident that with God, all things are possible. :-)

Next, I'll share some resources that will help with the nuts and bolts of homeschooling in high school.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Remember Katrina?

Do you remember Hurricane Katrina? That monster storm struck New Orleans, LA on Aug. 29, 2005 and caused catastrophic flooding as levees failed and 80% of the city was submerged. It also devastated much of the Gulf Coast.

This is 2009 - so that was a long time ago, and things are pretty much back to normal down there now, right?


It is amazing to me to learn that families are still living as refugees, that homes are still being rebuilt, that whole neighborhoods and towns are still in shambles.
A friend of ours, Jimmy Chalmers, who is a self-employed contractor, beekeeper, pastor, homeschool dad, and all-around nice guy, is in New Orleans right now, helping to rebuild homes there and journaling about his work and about the stories of the people he meets on his blog, Woodshavings. Be sure to scroll down and start with his Jan. 16, 2009 post, and read through them chronologically. Jimmy went to NOLA (New Orleans, LA) for a week after Christmas as a volunteer with Operation NOAH Rebuild, a ministry of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and was so impacted by what he saw there that he came home and determined to go back for a whole month. He is doing this on faith, trusting God and the community of believers to provide for his and his family's needs during this time.

If you can contribute toward his effort to help the people of New Orleans and also provide for his family, there are a couple of options. One is to use PayPal. Log into your PayPal account and put in the recipient's address as
Otherwise, email them at and they can send you a physical address to which you can mail a check, made out to The Carpenters Shop Church ( Jimmy's church - donations are tax deductible )

If you are a skilled in a trade, he'd love to have you join him!

Monday, February 9, 2009

What Are You Known For?

In church yesterday, Pastor Ryan was preaching on Galatians 6:12-16, in which the apostle Paul is speaking to the believers in Galatia, refuting the heresy that believers must "do more" than just trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for salvation, but must also follow Jewish customs such as circumcision.

Gal. 6:14-15 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.

He challenged our little congregation with the question, "What are we known for?" What is our boast? Are we "the church that teaches home discipleship"? Are we the "family-integrated church"? Are we the "church with the great cooks who share a pot-luck lunch every Sunday"? Or are we the church that teaches Jesus, and loves like Jesus, and acts like Jesus?
How about your church? Are you the "church with the great children's ministry" or the "church with the beautiful building" or the "church with the
great preacher"? Or are you the "church that teaches Jesus and loves like Jesus and acts like Jesus"?

How about our families? What is our boast? Do we boast or take pride in the fact that we homeschool? that we live in a certain neighborhood? that our kids have good manners? that we have x number of children? that we host great parties? Or is my family known for the way we teach Jesus, love like Jesus, act like Jesus?

Now to bring it down to the personal... what am I known for? And what do I WANT to be known for? Do I boast in the cross of Jesus... do others see Jesus in me? Or do they just see ME? If so, I need to get out of the way...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'll Love You Forever, I'll Like You for Always

Alex gets on a plane tomorrow headed for Iraq, where he'll spend the next year or more. His departure date got moved around a few times in the last week or so, and Mark and I had to scramble to get a flight to TX in order not to miss him. But we are here, and we have this evening and most of tomorrow to hang out with the boy, helping him pack up his gear, and just enjoying his presence. He is a pretty awesome guy, if I do say so. I'm getting a little misty eyed already, and I am bound to lose it tomorrow when we say good-bye. Alex has already scolded me ahead of time, telling me that he would have been fine but now his mom is going to make him cry in front of his men! Well.... tough! ;-)

To those of you with young children, it doesn't get any easier when they get big...they move out and start their own lives, but you are still "mom". That never changes.

So this is for you, Alex... from the book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY: February 2, 2009

Outside my window...
I see a lot of broken branches lying in our yard from the blustery weather of the past couple of weeks...we'll need to do a "burning pile" soon;
also, no birds yet at the suet feeder J hung up

I am thinking...
that I'm hungry and need to go make some breakfast :-)

I am thankful for...
the men and women of the US Military who bravely sacrifice much for the people of this land

From the learning rooms...
TOG Y2, Week 23 - Restoration Colonies and the Age of Louis XIV
Latin and Science today at Nathan's house
getting ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count

From the kitchen...
water is boiling for a cup of hot tea

I am wearing...
my pajamas...

I am creating...
ummm... nothing creative going on at the moment

I am going...
to Texas later this week to hug my 23-year-old son before he gets on a plane for the Middle East, where he'll spend the next 12 months or more, wearing the uniform of the US Army

I am reading...
"The Church in History" by B.K. Kuiper
"The Spontaneous Spread of Home-Discipleship Christianity" by Henry Ryenga Jr.

I am hoping...
for deep, heart-felt conversations with my dear husband as we drive my son's car back from TX ;-)

I am hearing...

Around the house...
the kids are slow moving this morning.... I need to put some peppy music on and start getting the energy level up around here

One of my favorite things...
onion rings -
Carolina Ale House makes great ones! thin & crispy and oh, so NOT good for you

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Lighthouse meeting tomorrow night
basketball practices
packing and cleaning!
flying to Texas and driving back to North Carolina

Here is a picture thought I am sharing..

we got a couple of inches of snow last week ~ it lasted 2 days, and might be all we get this winter