Saturday, December 26, 2015

Time for Bible Journaling

It happens eventually.

I know it is hard to believe - VERY hard to believe - for those of you in the midst of raising and teaching children.

But they grow up and become independent learners and you discover that you actually have time to do things you have been putting off ( like cleaning) or ignoring (like cleaning) or waiting until you had more time ( like drawing and writing and art journaling and reading things other than parenting/homeschooling books)

With only a 17-year-old still at home, I find myself with time again.  This is a strange feeling that has taken some getting used to.  I miss having a houseful of kids, and nothing makes me happier than everyone gathering under our roof for a holiday or other celebration!  But I am also enjoying the chance to be creative again. 

I recently discovered the world of bible journaling -  thank you again, Pinterest - and have been exploring the hashtags #illustratedfaith and #biblejournaling on Instagram.  I also joined the Journaling Bible Community on Facebook and discovered some websites, like
Soooo many great ideas, inspiring photos, creative people!  

Mark gave me a journaling bible for Christmas, so I am ready to go!  I also got journaling bibles for my girls, along with some Micron pens and watercolor pencils.  They enjoy creative things as well and I know they will enjoy engaging with Scripture in this way!

I took the idea for a "permission page" from Lauren at The Thinking Closet,
and I think it will help me combat my tendency towards perfectionism and fear of ruining a page.

Here is my first page.  I stuck with the familiar for this -   pen and pencil. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

There Must Be Something in the Water: Thoughts on Homeschool Mamas and Teen-age Boys

Last night I spoke to about 60 people at our homeschool support group meeting about homeschooling through high school. I covered a lot of different topics - touching on things like graduation requirements, high school testing, credits, transcripts, etc. and then busting some of the myths surrounding homeschooling through high school, such as "parents aren't qualified to teach high school subjects", "homeschooled students cannot get good jobs or go to college" and "they'll miss out on Prom".  But it was the final topic I discussed that got the most response and comments after the meeting ended, and that was Homeschool Mamas and Teen-age Boys.  

I have raised 3 boys of my own, and have talked with many, many mothers of sons about this topic, and it seems to be pretty universal and disconcerting!    Somewhere around the age of 12,  they discover that we moms have lost part of our brains.  We go from being very smart, even brilliant,  people who can solve almost any problem and fix almost anything, to suddenly not being very smart at all and also somewhat annoying.  We don't know the answers, we don't know the best way to do things, and we don't have the right opinion on anything.  In addition to losing our minds, we have also lost our looks.  We were once beautiful and the women our little boys wanted to marry one day.  Now they are embarrassed to be seen with us. 

It must be something in the water, because we aren't the only ones who have changed. Our little boys who were once cuddly, enthusiastic, eager to please, and obedient ( okay, okay, that's a stretch -  but true at least part of the time? )  suddenly become withdrawn, emotional, distracted, and disrepectful. They don't want to do their schoolwork. They talk back. They sleep all the time. They challenge your authority, your wisdom, and your fairness. 

"Who are you and what did you do with my son?"

Some boys only show glimpses of this hijacking, but for others it is quite prominent.  Suddenly our sons are taller than us, stronger than us, and they don't seem to like us or take us seriously.   This is tough, uncharted territory for all moms, and for homeschooling moms it can cause a quite dramatic reaction.   "I can't do this!  He isn't doing his work. He isn't listening to me.  He needs to go to real school because of course he will  listen to someone else."

I do not have an answer and I don't know of a cure.  But my encouragement to you is that it doesn't last forever.  A few years.  But not forever.  This is a period of time when our little boys are growing into men, and for a while they just don't know what to do with themselves!  They want to be treated like grown ups one minute, and the next they are crying, "I can't do that! I'm just a kid!"  One minute they cringe when you give them a hug, and the next minute  all 5'10" of them is crawling into your lap.   Their bodies are changing, their brains are changing.  Hormones make them crazy. 

I think it is different with our daughters, because we can sympathize with them! We were young girls once, and remember the angst and the cramps and the discomfort and the uncertainty that those years brought, and can identify with them better. But young men are  different creatures entirely;  and that just reminds us that we don't understand our husbands half the time either, and now we have TWO men to deal with. 



It might be time for Dad to take son out for a heart-to-heart about manhood, respect for those in authority, humility, God's order, and the consequences that will arise from his behavior.

Beyond that, I think we moms need to dish out heaps of GRACE! (unmerited favor)   We need to be calm and consistent in reminding our boys of their boundaries and their responsibilities.  

We can perhaps let go and give them some of the control they crave, at least in some areas.  Let him  stay up late and sleep later in the morning, or go outside without a jacket in the middle of the winter, or eat  pizza and Doritos for lunch every day, or take a 45 minute shower.  Ask if there is something he would really like to study this year, or let him choose between math curriculum A or math curriculum B. 

We need to continue to be their cheerleader and biggest fan, because their disdain is really a mask. Our boys desperately want to know they are loved and accepted. 

Don't stop pointing them to God and his Word.  Remind him that God allows us to struggle  so that we can be refined and grow stronger and closer to Him. 

Read lots of biographies of good role models and watch movies that teach solid messages about character.  Teach Godly character. Model Godly character. 

Don't be stingy with hugs, backrubs, and smiles. 

Maintain a sense of humor.  Laugh with them. ( not at them. never at them.)  Sometimes they are really funny.

Feed them a lot.  Their favorite meal, even after a tough couple of days of banging heads, sends a strong message. 

Encourage physical activity as an outlet for some of that aggressive energy.  Team sports, running, biking, tae kwon do, swimming, rock climbing, jumping jacks! 

These are just some suggestions. Pray and ask God to show you the best way to parent your child.  Anger, insults, and a hard-nosed strictness are probably not the best reaction to this stage of your child's development.  And my answer to "If they won't listen to me and respect me, won't they be better off learning from somebody else?"  [ meaning "in school"] is "Is it more important that he get the essay written and the geometry lesson done or that he get instruction in righteousness and character and Truth and God's plan for us?  Are you okay that  strangers, whose  worldviews you know nothing about, walk with him through this time of his life and mold him and direct him?  Whose voice do you want him to hear on a daily basis?"

Don't give up!   They do come out on the other side. 

Galatians 6:9   Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18   For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary ,and what is unseen is eternal.

I have found these resources to be very helpful.
Raising Real Men  
Hal & Melanie Young are Christian homeschool parents who understand boys.  They have written a book, and their website and blog also contain lots of helpful articles and information.

Homeschooling Boys
This site does not seem to have been updated in a while, but still has some helpful articles by a number of authors, including Mark Hamby, Barbara Shelton, and Terri Camp. 

This is a newer blog, but I've read a couple of articles here that are very good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Homeschooled High Schoolers : Grown Up

I wrote this in Aug 2012, in response to a question about homeschool families feeling inadequate to homeschool in high school. Even after 21 years, I still have moments (days/weeks) of self-doubt, and this has been one of those weeks. This was good for me to revisit.


I am starting my 18th year of homeschooling and have graduated 4 of my 5 children from our homeschool. My oldest graduated from NC State, entered the US Army as an officer and served 2 tours of duty in Iraq.

 He has just returned from Kuwait and is now getting out of the military and looking for a civilian job. His Army buddies jokingly say that the fact he was homeschooled "explains a lot", but they also acknowledge that he is the most responsible, the most driven and also the best cook of them all. My next 2 graduated from Appalachian State University, my daughter summa cum laude in 2010 and my son this past May. She has traveled to Ethiopia, Uganda, and Haiti doing missions work, interned for a Christian non-profit in TN, and spent the summer working as Production Editor at a Christian summer camp in Michigan. 

My son just got hired by a computer IT company in Cary and is planning to get engaged soon.( shhh ) My 4th child took a year off after graduation to work, finish up some loose ends academically and to decide what she wanted to do next, and we'll be moving her into her dorm at ECU next weekend. It is an exciting, bittersweet, stressful, exhilarating time of life, parenting all these grown ups!

My youngest is starting his 9th grade year, and we are considering but haven't yet decided on a 5-year-high-school-plan for him. That's just one of the many ways that we as homeschoolers can be flexible in our approach to high school. He hates to read - it exhausts him - but he is smart, a very good athlete, a sharp wit, and a wonderful, responsible kid with lots of friends. 

I still read aloud to him a good bit, and try to spread his reading and writing assignments out and use video and audio materials as much as I can. That's another way I can take advantage of the flexibility I have as a homeschooler. We are in a Tapestry of Grace co-op that meets once a week, and this year he'll do a science enrichment class and possibly a public speaking class or foreign language as well as guitar lessons and basketball training outside of the home. These help fill his need to be around other kids - since he is now an "only child" at home - and also help him be accountable to someone besides me, because I really am a very laid back, lenient teacher. Also, I don't get excited about science like I get excited about history, literature, philosophy, and art. I don't put him in these activities because "he won't get into college if I don't"!! I know better. We do it because it gives him a rich variety of experiences, and THAT is why I homeschool. You have the FREEDOM to decide what is best for your child. We all need to encourage one another and protect that freedom. You don't have to homeschool the way I homeschool. But I do want you to know that you don't have to follow the way of Institutional schools either, unless you want to. You might want to investigate the Hebrew model of education versus the Greek model. It is interesting to think about. 

I have to say that the trend you mention isn't really new. I have known homeschool parents who followed the "traditional school model" to the letter, and those who have crafted a free-flowing, out-of-the-box education for their children, and guess what? Kids from both types of families have done fine! Do some homeschooled kids falter? Yes. Is it because their parents failed to cross some "t" or dot some "i"? Or is it because they weren't allowed the freedom to follow their own star? No. I wish I could tell you that if you do X, Y, and Z your kids will succeed in life, but there is no guaranteed method, and there is no guaranteed outcome! Each of our children has their own choices to make in life. We homeschool because we believe it is right and the best we can do for our children. I homeschool because I believe it is what God wants me to do, and I am being OBEDIENT to follow that calling, as faithfully as I know how. But boy, do I spend a lot of time on my knees praying for grace to fill in the gaps and my failures. Ultimately, I believe that God blesses our heart, our desire to do the best we can, our willingness to learn and be teachable. Our children don't succeed because we are "super homeschoolers" who found the magic curriculum, or because we put them in the right enrichment classes with exceptional teachers! 

Be sure to look at the Big Picture. If there was one thing that I would say was the MOST important thing in homeschooling a high schooler, I would say it is RELATIONSHIP. Put your best efforts into that area, as well as CHARACTER, SERVICE, and KNOWLEDGE. I wrote a blog post about this earlier in the year - you can read it here, if you are interested.  There are numerous books, websites, workshops, etc that can teach you how to devise a high school plan, create a transcript, apply for scholarships, etc. Do your research. Bathe it all in prayer. Love your children fiercely. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

*** It is now 2015 and we have been homeschooling for 21 years.  My youngest is 17 and a junior/senior. (depends which of us you talk to)  This is his 4th year of high school, but he will continue for a 5th. We have been able to stretch out his academics and give him plenty of time to hang out with friends and to spend plenty of time on basketball, as well as explore guitar, pottery, and his latest interest... bowling! We are in the process of registering him for his first community college course.  My younger daughter transferred to Appalachian State after one year at ECU, and will be graduating from college this spring with a degree in Child Development.  Middle son is now married and worked in IT for a little over a year. After getting laid off due to "downsizing", he decided to follow his entrepreneurial heart and started his own very successful business as an Amazon seller. My older daughter worked at Samaritan's Purse for a year and a half and now is an office manager at Appalachian State University. She does photo shoots on the side, is a volunteer coordinator for Wine to Water, and is mentor coordinator for the college ministry at her church. In other words, she is a busy lady. And oldest son got a job working as a 3rd shift production line manager at a bottling plant in Asheville, and is now working in supply chain management.  
They are all awesome people.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Homeschool Preschool :Let Them Play

My teenager and I stopped at Chick-Fil-A for lunch after his orthodontist appointment the other day, and I ran into a young homeschool mom I know who was there with her twin 4-year-old boys. Before she stepped up to the counter to order her food, she gave me one of those smiles that was part "Hi, nice to see you!" and part "Help me, I'm dying!", and simply said, "It's really hard some days".

 Enough said.

I understood immediately where this mommy was coming from. Exhaustion. Frustration. Isolation. Guilt.  So after finishing lunch with my son, I asked him if he would mind watching a couple of 4-year-olds in the play area while I visited with their mom for a few minutes.

We had a nice chat and I shared what I hope was some encouragement with her about relaxing and maybe adjusting some of her expectations.   One of her stresses is that has started "homeschool preschool" with them, and... it was a struggle.  Although she kept saying things like "I know that academics isn't the most important thing right now" , she was stressed over not knowing if they "measured up" against other kids their age; if they were learning the right skills at the right time. She has friends with kids in preschool or kindergarten at this age, and said that she knows her boys are "behind" in some areas.   The boys weren't loving "school time", when she had them sit down to do the workbooks she had purchased, and she was wondering how she was ever going to handle homeschooling them as they grew older. In other words, she was feeling defeated before she had even started!

My mother taught public school kindergarten for over 20 years, before getting a masters degree in computer education and moving up to teach high school for the remainder of her teaching career. Something she used to say was "After the first month or so of school, I can no longer tell the difference between those children who went to preschool and those who didn't. What I can tell, is those whose parents spent time doing things with them and those whose parents did not."  She was referring to things like reading stories together, coloring, going on nature walks, playing board games,  working in the garden, matching socks while folding the laundry together,  learning to use scissors to cut up construction paper into strips for paper chains, singing songs, baking cookies, etc.  This was usually in response to a stay-at-home mom who was nervous that she was depriving her child of a good start by not sending him to preschool.  My mother's professional opinion was that preschool can fill in for a mom who cannot be in the home with her little ones, but it isn't BETTER than a mom.   As a longtime home educator who has homeschooled 4 of my children all the way through high school, I can say the same of school in general.  It can do what parents don't have the time or resources to accomplish, but that doesn't necessarily make it BETTER, especially if the parent is ready and willing to take on the role of educator.  But I digress. Back to preschool.

In large part because of my mother's influence, the thought of sending my little ones off to preschool never crossed my mind.   I was a stay-at-home mom and this was my domain.  We had a craft closet that held boxes of crayons and coloring books and stacks of colored paper and safety scissors and glue sticks and yarn  and colored pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks and yes... even glitter!  From the time my first child was born, I started collecting children's picture books, and also started visiting the public library on a regular basis with my children, and storytime was a daily occurrence, usually before naps as well as before bedtime.

We had a wooden playset in the yard with swings, ladders, a climbing rope, and fort, as well as a sandbox with plastic shovels, buckets, scoops, and toy dump trucks, and in the summer a small plastic pool filled with water and water toys.  Balls of all sizes  - tennis balls, plastic kickballs, rubber balls, inflatable  beach balls - were in a bin in the garage. Bubbles were a staple, as was homemade playdough and face paint.  We had a dress-up box filled with superhero capes, wooden swords,  a variety of hats, boas, flower wreaths and fairy wands, elbow length gloves, vests, costume jewelry, and assorted Grammy-sewn costumes.

I played a million games of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders and UNO and Go Fish.  I do not have a green thumb - at all - but I did attempt a small garden at one point, which the kids loved.  When I went to the grocery store, the kids came along and were my "helpers". We got out when we could, for walks around the neighborhood, to the playground, to storytime at the library or to a friend's house to play.  We had a stack of Disney tapes (these were the days of VHS, friends) and those along with PBS shows like "Magic School Bus", "Arthur", "Wishbone",  "Sesame Street" ( not my favorite) and "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" (my favorite!) gave me a chance to clean the bathroom, start dinner, or lay down on the couch with my eyes closed for "just a minute".    If it sounds like my children spent their days playing... well, that is exactly right! 

I never once thought that I needed a curriculum for this.  I was just playing with my children, teaching them the ABC song as we sat on the couch together, counting out forks for the dinner table, finding the letter "A" or "S" on street signs, catching bugs, reminding them to say "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me".

You will notice when your child shows readiness for learning more.
"Mommy, what does that word say?"
"How do I write my name?"

"Mommy, how many Cheerios are in my bowl?"
"Daddy, how does that work?"
"Show me!"
"Tell me!"
"Let me!"

As a homeschooler, you can respond to your child's readiness instead of following some generic schedule of what to teach when. You can look at lists of preschool or kindergarten skills for ideas, but don't make it a checklist that must be accomplished by a certain date!

Edward Thorndike, a psychologist who spent his career at the Columbia University Teacher's College in New York in the early 1900's  studying learning theory, came up with these Laws of Learning.

·         Law of readiness. Students learn more easily when they have a desire to learn. (mentally and physically ready)  Conversely, students learn with difficulty if they're not interested (not mentally or physically ready)
·         Law of effect. Learning will always be much more effective when a feeling of satisfaction, pleasantness, or reward is part of the process.
·         Law of relaxation. Students learn best and remember longest when they are relaxed. Reducing stress increases learning and retention.
·         Law of association. Learning makes sense (comprehension) when the mind compares a new idea with something already known.
·         Law of involvement. Students learn best when they take an active part in what is to be learned.
·         Law of exercise. The more often an act is repeated or information reviewed, the more quickly and more permanently it will become a habit or an easily remembered piece of information.
·         Law of relevance. Effective learning is relevant to the student's life.
·         Law of intensity. A vivid, exciting, enthusiastic, enjoyable learning experience is more likely to be remembered than a boring, unpleasant one.
·         Law of challenge. Students learn best when they're challenged with novelty, a variety of materials, and a range of instructional strategies.
·         Law of feedback. Effective learning takes place when students receive immediate and specific feedback on their performance.
·         Law of recency. Practicing a skill or new concept just before using it will ensure a more effective performance.
·         Law of expectations. Learners' reaction to instruction is shaped by their expectations related to the material (How successful will I be?).
·         Law of emotions. The emotional state (and involvement) of students will shape how well and how much they learn.
·         Law of differences. Students learn in different ways. One size does not fit all!

Reading this list, you can see that introducing traditional academic work too early will result in frustration for both the parent and the child.   You can also see how a home environment seems like an ideal place for learning to occur. ( I wonder who planned it that way?)


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Homeschoolers in College

Rivers Street Tunnel,  Appalachian State U.

Three of my children have already graduated from college and my 4th is a college senior this year.  All homeschool graduates, attending state universities.  All successful in navigating both college academic life and college social life.  All lived on campus for all or part of their college years, worked campus jobs, were active in intramural sports, ROTC, clubs, campus life. Three worked as RAs for  part of their time in college. 

What prepared them to be successful?  I'm not sure.  We aren't that special. They are not geniuses.  We did raise our children to be leaders, and gave them opportunities to build leadership skills through team sports, Boy Scouts, summer camp jobs, lifeguarding, and being part of a family that serves the lcoal homeschool community in various ways.  They entered college with a maturity that helped them to make good choices, focus on what was important, choose friends wisely, and work hard. As parents, we let them make their own decisions regarding classes, and didn't get involved with professors or making sure they were doing their homework.  That was expected. 

They each changed majors at least once in the process.  All but one managed to graduate in 4 years - 8 semesters -  except one, who needed one extra semester to finish. They have all pursued very different things - not a surprise.  Engineering switched to Political Science.  Interior Design switched to Photography with minors in  Media Studies/ Graphic Design.   Computer Science changed to Marketing changed to Sustainable Technology changed to Computer Information Systems.  Athletic Training switched to Child Life, transferred to a different college, and landed in Child Development - Family and Consumer Sciences.  

None are working in the field of their degree.  
 **I don't necessarily view that as a bad thing, as the education plus other experiences they received definitely prepared them for many things. Something to consider.

Our homeschool style is rather relaxed, but they each took a few outside classes during their high school years that gave them experience with other teacher's styles, expectations, deadlines, etc. Three of the four took a couple of community college classes, utilizing the dual enrollment program. The college credits earned were nice, but the primary benefit was learning to navigate a small college campus and schedule.   We did not do AP courses, nor did they take CLEP exams.  We did read widely, traveled some, encouraged a learning mind-set no matter where we were.  They learned to play musical instruments, took care of a pet, were expected to help with household chores and did not have TVs or computers in their rooms ( this was before smartphones ; they didn't get laptops until after high school graduation -  things are a little different with the youngest now, and we have to make smartphone and laptop rules)  

All but my oldest, who was an ROTC student, took out some student loans.  My husband and I paid half of the remaining amount, and my children earned money to pay the other half.  They did not have cars, so that eliminated a major expense. They found small scholarships to help -  the electric company,  department scholarships for their majors, Jr. Woman's Club, etc.  We are not one of those families whose kids earned full scholarships to college. I wish.  Nor are we rich. My husband makes a nice salary, but helping put our kids through college has meant sacrifice. Our house is kind of falling apart around us.  We don't take vacations.  We live pretty frugally. It is a season.

I guess I would characterize our family dynamic as encouraging excellence without being rigid;  using common sense when setting boundaries and limits, and offering increasing freedom as maturity was proven; laughing hard together;  fostering an attitude of gratitude over things big and small;  centering life around family above anything else, and celebrating each person's interests and achievements as a family; living out our faith in how we treat people and in the life choices we make; showing affection; living generously.  Perhaps these things played a part in their success. Perhaps it was just God's grace. 

We're not done yet. Our last child will graduate high school next year and then embark upon his college years.  His siblings will give him plenty of advice, I'm sure. That's how we do things in this family. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Myth Busters: Homeschool Edition: Setting Priorities

(This is a reprint of a blog post from September 2011.)

The topic of our monthly homeschool support group meeting last month was "Myth Busters: Homeschool Edition", inspired by the Myth Busters television show and Todd Wilson's book, Lies Homeschool Moms Believe.

Our illustrious madame pres., Becky, who has very capably relieved me of my presidential duties this fall, created some great Power Point slides to introduce each Myth we addressed, complete with Todd Wilson's hilarious homeschool cartoons.

We talked about 4 Myths, or Lies that homeschool moms believe.

#1 Everybody else's kids are smarter and better behaved than mine.

#2 Everybody else has a cleaner house and serves better meals.

#3 Everybody else is more spiritual than I am.

#4 Everybody else can do it all and is more capable than I am.

A different mom tackled each myth, sharing about what their homeschool was like and how we all get caught in that same trap of comparing ourselves to others around us who we just KNOW are doing a better job than we are.

I talked about Myth #4. As a veteran homeschooler with 4 graduates and as a support group leader, I know that I am sometimes put on that pedestal of "doing it all". And just like Gena Suarez, homeschool mom of 6 and editor of The Old Schoolhouse magazine, relates in this article, it just ain't so!

I may do a lot of things that you don't do. But I'm certainly not doing "it all". You see, we all make choices about where we will and will not spend our time and energy. We also all have different temperaments, skills, callings, and tolerances.

I have a friend who gets more done in a day than I do in a month - no lie. She amazes me, and wears me out just hearing about her day. She keeps a spotless house, has a speaking ministry, decorates to the hilt for every holiday, has grandchildren as well as a houseful of little adopted children, and paints her kitchen in the middle of the night after she irons everyone's shorts and tee shirts!

Another friend is homeschooling her youngest 2 out on a farm where she and her husband have been homesteading for the past 8 years. She has a huge garden, cans hundreds of jars of gorgeous fruits and vegetables every harvest, is nurturing an orchard that they hope will provide retirement income someday, is active in overseas missions work as well as ministry at her church.

These two busy ladies are doing very different things - neither is doing it all! And neither of them is doing what I am doing. Or what you are doing.

Many years ago, I heard a speaker at a homeschool conference talk about setting priorities, and at the meeting I shared something that she taught us then. That is, make a list of What I Do and another list of What I Don't Do - and realize that life is about choices.

My list of What I Do includes

homeschooling my 13 yr old son
keeping up with my grown children and their needs
serving in leadership of our homeschool association
teaching history in a weekly Co-op
hosting a monthly Geography Club for middle schoolers in my home
leading a Mentor Group for new homeschool moms, and talking to many, many people about homeschooling through email and on the phone
helping my husband in his role as director of our homeschool sports program
chairing the homeschool prom committee
serving on the homeschool graduation committee
attending my son's sporting events
baking cupcakes to help support my daughter in her ministry work
clipping coupons and trying to figure out sales and ways to save money on our grocery bill
blogging / facebook /
moderating our homeschool group's email loop
cooking healthy meals for my family
keep up with laundry and maintain at least a sanitary home
attend church ; try to have a daily quiet time

My list of What I Do Not Do includes

keeping a spotless house - heck, I don't even make my bed very often
working outside the home
home decorating
teaching Sunday School
attending Women's Bible Study or Women's Ministry events
paying the bills ( my husband takes care of that, not me)
painting, drawing, calligraphy - all of which I enjoy!
singing in the choir or in church musicals
nature study, lots of hands on science experiments, big art projects
lots of field trips
shopping for fun
lots lots more.....

The point is, those things on my What I Do Not Do list are good things, things I would like to do, some are things I SHOULD do. But the reality is, moving things from that list to the DO list will require a) giving something else up, or b) sleeping less, or c) becoming much more organized, which is not something that comes naturally to me AT ALL.

When you look at me and see the things I Do, you are not looking at the list of things I Do Not Do. So take a look at your own list of things you Do, and realize that those are hopefully the things that bring you joy, that are important to you, that are your calling right now. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others. Look in your life for time wasters, and consider if there are things that need to be removed in order to allow time for what you have determined is important for YOU. Pray and seek God about where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to be doing, and rest in that. Realize that priorities will change as the Seasons of your Life change.

Be content.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Monday is for Menu Planning : Aug. 17

That worked so well last week, I'm going to do it again.   I didn't follow my plan on Friday because I was baking cupcakes for a friend. I should know better than to think I can cook dinner on a baking day. Mark ended up bringing home barbeque plates from Smithfield's instead. And Saturday was a bust too. We did leftovers a day early. So I'm moving those 2 meals to this week.

Grilled Lemon-Herb Pork chops
leftover  Asian Quinoa Cole Slaw
roasted carrots

Turkey Pesto Grilled Cheese
carrot, bell pepper, celery sticks
zucchini chips
(put chicken in marinade for tomorrow night)

Tex-Mex Margarita Chicken Salad

Thursday (Jason's birthday!)
 birthday boy's choice - he hasn't decided yet

Kung Pao Chicken
brown rice

eating out

Breakfast for Dinner :
blueberry pancakes
Denver scramble

Good Morning Oatmeal
Breakfast cookies (this recipe is easy to play around with, adding or subtracting what you like)

chef salad
Avocado Chicken Salad
turkey roll ups
yogurt & fruit
peanut butter & celery


Friday, August 14, 2015

An Unlikely Academic Success? Why Individualization is a Better Idea Than Common Standards

My 2nd youngest child went back to college today at Appalachian State to start her senior year. She has classes this fall semester, and then an internship next spring, and she'll graduate in May. Four years of college has flown by! Now, one thing I didn't realize until today is that she is "ahead" of her classmates, meaning most people in her major (child development) have 2 semesters of classes and then the internship to do after that. I'm a bit astounded, because she did her freshman year at ECU and then transferred, and had to repeat one of her Gen Ed classes that wasn't accepted because she changed majors. So even with that, she managed to get all her college classes done in 7 semesters. Anyone with college kids knows this is somewhat of a feat, because colleges will tell you at orientation nowadays that most students take 5 years, or 10 semesters,  to complete a major. Not all classes are offered when you need them.    When I asked her how that was possible, she smirked and said, "Nobody really knows."  Then she shrugged, admitting that she did take 18 credit hours just about every semester, so that's how she got it all in.

I am not saying this to boast.  I want to make an important point to you homeschool mamas out there who have kids who are struggling, or "behind", or late readers, or whatever.  This gal, who managed 18 hours per semester ( not all A's mind you - she has a B's and C's in there too, and likes to remind me that "C's get Degrees!"), has held a campus job each semester, also worked one semester as an RA, is president of her church's college group, and  enjoys hiking, lying in her hammock, and watching lots of Netflix, couldn't read  a chapter book until she was almost 12 years old.  She took 2 years to get through 6th grade math because fractions threw her for a loop.  Algebra was not her friend, she had a hard time with  high school Spanish,  and she took 3 years to barely squeak through high school chemistry.  This is not your typical "academic" kid.

 However, she has always been very creative, enjoying art and music. She loved playing volleyball and basketball.   Although it took a while to click, by high school she was a fairly strong reader. And she was a natural leader, had a lot of friends, and loved working with children.    She has very specific gifts and talents, but isn't good at EVERYTHING.  She took a year off after high school to "decompress" and figure out what she wanted to do.  She will freely admit that she chose a college major that wouldn't require too much math or science beyond the basic gen ed requirements.   She is a success at what she is choosing to do! 

Because we homeschooled, we took the time to slowly work through the areas that were the most difficult, even if it took more than one "school year". We worked hard not to stigmatize, so there was no shame in going at her own speed!   We found or made opportunities for her to grow in the areas where she was talented, and very importantly, didn't prevent her from doing those things because her grades weren't high enough!  (isn't that what happens in schools?  sports, the arts,  social activities. etc. are off-limits if you don't have certain grades? Even many parents impose this rule, as "motivation".)  Think outside the box.   Each of us is unique in how we learn and in what we are good at, and education should be individualized to allow each person to succeed at their own pace, in what they are gifted in!  This is one reason I so strongly oppose Common Core Standards and the philosophy behind it.

Our goal should be to teach our children how to learn, and to inspire our children to love learning!   That isn't the same as loving "school".   Be gentle and persistent in working on weaknesses, but don't neglect the areas that are strengths.  Just because your child doesn't like something, that doesn't mean they shouldn't learn it. But it might be that there is a different WAY to learn it.  Or a different PART of it to learn that will make sense for your child.  Always, pray for guidance and wisdom.


Back to College and Back to Homeschool

When my oldest started college in 2003, we quickly learned that it was pretty useless to try to start back with homeschool until the college kids had gone back to school.  Amanda and Jason share the same friend group from working at camp, so this week has been full of beach days, lunches with friends, watching the meteor shower, bonfires, packing and goodbyes.

Next week will be our first week of eeaaaaaasing back into homeschool.  Instead of having a "first day/week of school" that includes EVERYTHING and stresses everyone, we ease in with a few subjects each week.  We'll start with History, Guitar, and setting up his science notebook. Week 2 will add Anatomy, Algebra Review and Spanish. Week 3 will add English, Worldview, and Civics, Then Personal Finance and Geography.

Today my baby girl heads back to college for the last time! She is a senior, with just one semester of classes to go, and then a semester-long internship and then... Graduation!     Holy Moly I am feeling old.   She will be our 4th college graduate! One more to go.

In addition, this is the FIRST TIME I am not driving the loaded car to move my college student in. Amanda got a car this summer, the 1st time any of my kids have bought a car before college graduation. Not only is she living off campus, bunking in with her sister at her apartment for the semester, she also needs to travel to various schools in the area for practicums and observation for her child-development classes. So she loaded up her Honda and is driving herself!

 And I am feeling very emotional about the whole thing!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday is for Menu Planning

Eat Healthy.
Save Money.
Lose Weight.
Keep Things Simple.
Taste Good. 
No Time.

Planning meals hasn't gotten any easier, now that there are only 3 (sometimes 4) of us to cook for. As hubby and I hit the middle of our 50's, health concerns continue to become more... concerning.  Blood pressure running a little high. Triglycerides borderline high.  Allergies.  Low Vitamin D.  Are we getting enough fiber? Are pesticides poisoning us? Stay away from "artificial", "processed", "high fructose corn syrup",  "rbGH" ,"GMO" and "MSG".  Is soy good or is it bad? How about gluten?

On top of that, I have a 17 year old, 6' 1" athlete to feed who wants his food quick and tasty and abundant.   And a husband who just wants to "take a pill" so he can eat whatever he wants.  And a busy schedule that means that I'm often throwing together something quick before I run out the door.  We rarely eat together like we did when kids were young.  Oy.

I'm trying to amp up the veggies.  Less meat. Less starches. Less dairy.

Thank goodness for Pinterest.  A girl's gotta have a plan.

Sweet and Sour Chicken and Broccoli

Spinach Feta Mushroom Frittata
Zucchini Chips
Tomato Avocado Onion salad

Taco Salad (romaine lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped avocado, chopped red onion, black beans, shredded cheddar,  taco seasoned ground turkey, crumbled tortilla chips, salsa mixed with sour cream)

Blackened Tilapia w/ fresh peach salsa
Asian Quinoa Cole Slaw
oven fries

Turkey Pesto Grilled Cheese - with avocado, tomato, bacon
carrot, bell pepper, and celery sticks

Grilled Lemon Herb Pork Chops
baked sweet potato
steamed garlic green beans
spinach salad 


Do you have any good, healthy, easy, tasty recipes you love?  Please share.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up: Holding On to Summer and This Year's Plan

Weekly Wrap-Up

I am holding onto summer for a couple more weeks!  Jason and Amanda have been working at New Life Camp all summer, as a cabin counselor and First Aid Provider, and they live there Sunday through Friday. Saturday has been for catching up on sleep. Period. Jason finished work last week in order to attend an elite basketball camp at North Ridge Basketball Academy this week, and today is Amanda's last day of work, as she has to get ready to head back to college next week for her senior year.

I feel like I've been working on school planning all summer, but really, I've been planning a little here and there and letting myself get distracted by anything and everything in between.  Now suddenly the August calendar is staring at me in the face.. and you know, school starts in August.  I still have a couple of weeks to finish getting things lined up and an in order, but that's close enough to give me mini-heart-palpitations.

This is our 11th grade school plan for 2015-2016.. with room for tweaking still. This might seem like a lot, but he doesn't do every subject every day, and some subjects are much lighter than others. A couple of them are credits being spread over 2 or more years.

English  - I teach this class in my living room 2 times a week for my son and a small group of friends. We focus on literature, vocabulary, and some writing.  The first book we are studying is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, followed by To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee,  Les Miserable by Victor Hugo,  and The Chosen  by Chaim Potok.  I still have to choose another one or two books to round out the year.   I use a number of resources, including some Progeny Press study guides, as well as online study guides and lesson plans I find free online.

Math  - Jason finished Algebra 2 last year, but since he isn't a confident math student, my husband is going to spend the 1st semester reviewing Algebra 1 and 2 with him, and then hope to enroll him in Statistics online through the community college in the spring.  

History  -We are continuing an American history program we started last year. It is Dave Raymond's America History Part 1, which we purchased as a download, and consists of lectures watched on the computer, supplemented by a Student Reader.  Since reading is hard work for my son (convergence insufficiency), I look for some courses with limited reading, and this fits that bill. When we finish, we'll move right into Part 2.

Civics -  iCitizen:Civic Literacy for Young Americans from Generation Joshua, is an online text which can be printed off, if desired.   1st  semester / 1/2 credit.

Economics -  second semester; haven't chosen a curriculum yet; possibly Notgrass, possibly Bluestocking Press.  I also have some lectures on CD from The Teaching Company that could supplement.   I have all of those on my bookshelves. Also, he'll be working through Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance over the next 2 years.(available at 40% discount through 8/31/15 here)

Geography - I am a geography lover, so we'll continue to use maps and books and websites like to learn about the world. By graduation he will have accumulated a 1/2 credit.

Anatomy -  Jason will be taking Anatomy, using Apologia's  Advanced Biology: The Human Body,
in a class meeting once a week with the same teacher who taught the Biology and Chemistry classes he took at New Life Camp.

Spanish 2 -  He will continue his Spanish studies at New Life Camp with Sra. Dean.

Christian Worldview  -  I am leading this class as well, with a group of about 8 teens. We'll be watching, discussing, and journaling about several DVD series:  For the Life of the World from The Acton Institute,  The Truth Project from Focus on the Family , Doing the Right Thing from The Colson Center.

Physical Education -  Jason is a varsity basketball player on our homeschool team, which competes against other homeschool teams as well as private and charter school teams in the area.  He works with a personal coach once a week for skills development and once a week for something called "Explode" training, which is working on strength, speed and jumping ability. He also goes to the Y and works out during the week and plays pick up basketball with a group of adults once or twice a week.

Guitar  - He will continue weekly guitar lessons.  Read How Music Affects Us and Promotes Health