Category Archives: Homeschooling

Everything to do with learning – discovery anywhere and everywhere we can!

Meal Planning –
Mundane Marvels

Start Basic!

Meal2014Be sure to not overwhelm yourself. Start simple. Work with what you already know how to cook or prepare. Don’t try to learn new recipes now. You’re just trying to learn the process of meal planning and limited grocery procurement.

Here’s what I did.

First – Brainstorm

I wrote down all the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) I could think of that I knew how to make. I put all the groceries needed for that dinner. Sadly, this was not a very long list, but it was something.  You can click here to see my list.

Second – Lay out one week plan

MealPlanExampleI made myself a form for one week. Click here to download my blank form. Its just a quick and easy excel file.

I put meals in each slot of my plan and tried to make them fit other activities going on in my week. Such as, ballet lessons at 3:30 on Tuesday meant that Tuesday’s dinner needed to be easy and quick to fix. Click here to see a sample of one of my weeks filled in with meals.  I also tried to tie lunch to the previous day’s dinner. Chicken for dinner? Put in a couple extra pieces and then have chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, or chicken on salad for lunch the next day.

Third – Grocery List

Making a grocery list from the menu is crucial for two reasons. First, it guarantees you will have what you need to actually make that meal you planned. Starting dinner and then realizing you don’t have all the ingredients can completely upset dinner, the rest of the evening, and spoil your mood! Second, it a budget lifesaver! While the list will look large when you make it for a week’s worth of meals, its amazing how much it will save you not going to the store more than once a week.

Growing Beyond Basic.

When you’ve gotten this basic system going using meals you already know how to cook, you can then start to grow and expand the whole process. Add meals you don’t know how to cook, but I recommend at the most only one new recipe a week.

The Pioneer Woman 16 Minute Meals
The Pioneer Woman – 16 Minute Meals

New recipes are overwhelming until they are mastered and more than one can throw the whole week off. Not just your groove, but your budget.

Get new recipes from friends and relatives, but another great place is the web.

I love getting 16 minutes meals from The Pioneer Woman. Now 16 minutes meals will take you more than 16 minutes until you master them. Plan for that and remember to only add one per week. Its enough!  You’ll be surprised how fast you’ve grown that original “meals I know how to make” list.

I have long tried to improve our eating habits and following healthy eating habits. One great source is “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats” by Sally Fallon.

Something new I’m trying. Recently I found a blog called Nourished Kitchen who is putting into practice those methods and has a great database of meals, recipes, and food preparation techniques, as well as a cookbook, “The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Featuring Bone Broths, Fermented Vegetables, Grass-Fed Meats, Wholesome Fats, Raw Dairy, and Kombuchas

I just subscribed to a year of her meal plans mainly to add to my list of healthy meals I could make. To teach myself!

The planning up front seems time consuming, but it will actually save you time all week when you don’t have to think about what your family will it or whether you have the ingredients you need to fix it.

We talked “Meals” at our monthly homeschool mom’s group yesterday and there were some GREAT ideas and recipes from a bunch of moms.  There are two resources from our afternoon chat that  I just have to share here.

Jill mentioned emeals and it’s awesome! It’s also recommended by Dave Ramsey.  It has meal plans, recipes,  and shopping helps. More helps than I can list so please, check it out. The great thing about meal planning is that it saves you time, money, and frustration. Plus you eat well. Seriously, taking the time to plan really does save time later and you spend less money!

Another great idea from Jill was to include your meals in your homeschooling!  Here’s a book she recommended for tying your meals to history and geography studies – Eat Your Way Through the USA.  While you’re having fun cooking, eating and learning history/geography, remember cooking and grocery money management are great ways to experience real math! Three school topics covered right there!

Start now and make meals for your family not only yummy for everyone, but less stressful for mom!

After you get going, please get back to me here and let me know how its working for you.


My original meal list. 

My weekly meal blank form.

My example weekly meal plan.

The Pioneer Woman 16 minute Meals 

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

The Nourished Kitchen blog.

The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Featuring Bone Broths, Fermented Vegetables, Grass-Fed Meats, Wholesome Fats, Raw Dairy, and Kombuchas

Jill’s Dave Ramsey recommendationed – emeals

Jill’s recommendation: Eat Your Way Through the USA


How Do I Start? Homeschooling.

How do I start? I wonder how many times I’ve been asked that question? I wonder if my answer ever makes sense? I’ve decided to write it down to at least be more consistent! Rarely does anyone discuss with me the pros and cons of homeschooling. They come to me after the decision in a panic! Its personal I think, a bit like getting married. You never hear anyone discussing that they’re thinking of getting married. You just hear “We’re getting married!” Then the fluster of wedding planning and marriage staying power begins. So it is with deciding to homeschool.  Here’s my answer for beginning.

Start by stopping. Take some time for you and your child to absorb the reality of a new way of doing things. You have opened a new door to learning. Stand there a minute and let your eyes get used to the light.

Make baby steps toward active learning. Here’s a roadmap that will serve you well even as you grow more complicated in your home learning! But for now, stay simple.

Road Map: Restful decompression -> excited exploration -> intentional follow-up -> directed discovery -> presentation of discovery.

Getting Behind.

When starting homeschooling, the number one concern is getting behind. Either we think our children are already behind or they will get behind under our tutelage.

It can be an overwhelming fear I know! But let me assure you, they are not anDaniel Exploringd will not get behind!  “Behind” implies some measure you are comparing your child against. You are no longer controlled by this arbitrary standard. You are setting your own standard. You absolutely have time to absorb your new reality without harming the education of your child. The result, in fact, will be quite the opposite!

When we started homeschooling, our 11-year-old daughter hated learning and couldn’t read. We took off a full year from “school” related activities, and she went on to teach herself three additional languages before graduating high school. Read her more detailed story on my post “Take That System.”


Your goal in “schooling” your children is for them to learn. If your goal is to have them learn everything they can ever know by the age of 18, not only is that unrealistic for both of you, but also leaves them a pretty boring life after age 18. Don’t strive to teach ALL that you can. It will drive you both crazy trying to do the impossible. You want them to be learning for their entire life! Therefore, your goal is to teach your child two things: 1) To love learning and 2) to discipline themselves. With these two skills, they can go on to learn and conquer anything they tackle throughout their entire lives.

Step 1. Decompression.

If you are pulling your kids out of school, then obviously school wasn’t working for them. They need an extra step from those starting from the beginning. They will need time to decompress from the school regiment, in other words, time off. I highly recommend you give them this time to regain a love for learning, rather than just the ability to complete a given task successfully. Allow them time to play, rest, and essentially, goof off! Let them waste their time and get bored. Kids need time to get bored to spark their imaginations and inquisitive spirits. When every moment is scheduled for them, their own minds never have to engage.

Step 2. Exploration.

When their boredom transitions to investigating things around them, you might casually suggest some particular, more narrowed exploration if they have not already narrowed it on their own. One fun and full of mystery suggestion is the outdoors.

I highly recommend the “Handbook of Nature Study

Give this book to your child to flip through. When they’ve tired of flipping, ask them to go see if any of the plants can be identified in your yard. If they can’t read, just look for matches to the photos. I was stunned at how much my children learned in this exploration time. You may find other exploring instigators work better for your child, such as disassembling the bike or radio, experimenting with cooking, or drawing dress designs for dolls. Let them make a mess. Sanity tip: Helping clean up is part of the exploration! The better cleaners they are, the more open to messes mom is!

Step 3. Intentional Follow-up

When you see learning for fun happening (excitement over a discovery) you can start to employ controlled follow-up questions. Questions that direct the interest and investigation in a desired direction.  Steady now – Use stealth!!  For example: “Are you sure that’s the same tree as in the yard? I want to see.  Can you show me?  What’s it called again?” Let them teach you what they just discovered, even if you already know. Let them show and teach you. Teaching is such a great reinforcement and its fun!

Step 4. Directed Discovery

We’ve followed up, but maybe there’s more to know than what we have at our fingertips. Now take your questions further. Press for knowledge not readily accessible. “Is that tree native to our state? If not, who brought it here? When and Why?” etc.  Ask these questions one at a time. Careful not to overwhelm, but sound like a conversation and certainly interested yourself. Gauge your questions according to the age and ability of your child. When they don’t know the answer, suggest places to find the answers. The Internet, library, Dad, anywhere the discovery can be continued.

Step 5. Presentation

This step technically takes place all along the way. From the point where the child first points out the interest to you, they are presenting their discovery. Reciting acquired knowledge is a poweDavid Explores!rful skill which benefits from this practice. However, some things will be so interesting to the child that your directed questions lead them all the way through step 4 and beyond. Encourage them to communicate what they’ve discovered. This could vary from just telling about it, to drawing a picture of it, to building a replica. The key here is to let them discover the way to make their presentation. Hint: Don’t call it a presentation or they’ll probably balk! Same method applies with the presentation. Ask questions. Leading questions. “Let’s tell Daddy when he gets home. What’s the best way to help Daddy understands what you discovered?”

Questions lead to more and more discovery! Learning.

Repeat – for a Lifestyle of Learning

These steps may take place over days or weeks so don’t rush it. When you see the interest has died down don’t force it. Ask again about it later or they may bring it up again. They are not only learning about things, they are learning the process of asking questions to learn more. Possibly, the item of interest may change and you’ll have to go back to step one with the new focus. This will get fun, so be prepared; it will blossom into many interests to chase!

Whatever you do, don’t bring school home! Homeschooling is NOT school at home. Homeschooling is not school at all, its learning, learning everywhere with a home base. See “Schooling at Home or Homeschooling

One last thought, like a blanket over all these steps, is reading. Read, read, read with, but mostly to, your children. Use audio books too. Hearing words read is very powerful.

Do it daily!

Congratulations! You are now having fun learning  Socratic style!



Take that SYSTEM!

Philippians 1:6  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Twenty  Years to Completion.

The difference between belief and trust is experience. An experience takes time, often lots of time. But the trust that comes at the end of that experience is worth every minute of it. It’s a trust that equates with rest. Resting, peacefully.

Let me explain.  Hang in there, it’s a 20 year ride!

 In the Beginning

WAY back when our daughter was ready for four year old kindergarten, she was busting with excitement that she was accepted to and would soon begin learning at the private school where her older sister was already attending.  CatrinaOh, it was a beautiful time.  They were both at a good school with a promising future ahead. I had just landed a dream job and all was smooth – for two years.

Rumblings of Thunder

During the second grade she began to act out and get in trouble at school. Minor infractions, but they seemed out of character. She was no longer bubbly with the expectation of learning, but instead dreaded certain subjects.  By the third grade she was failing subjects and the school worked with us to retake test and we stumbled along with many calls and conferences.

Strangely, that same year, 3rd grade, my husband found out a man he worked with homeschooled his children.  We didn’t even know what that was. As we learned more about his lifestyle, we found it completely absurd!  His poor children! And what makes them think they can teach their children ALL those subjects? And…well, you know all the questions and comments.

More and more people seemed to get blown like sand into our lives that homeschool. Many of them at our OWN church! How did we not know these people were doing this? We decided to check them out. WOW, their kids were so polite, interactive, intelligent, well spoken, and the list just goes on.  We went on checking out family after family and they were all this way. Educated and seriously making “regular” schooled children look like the ones that weren’t socialized. Our older daughter’s friends would barely even speak to us, much less look us in the eye and carry on a reasonable conversation. These kids could do that!

As a last ditch effort to shake off this homeschool idea, which was starting to feel like pressure from within, we decided to talk to the superintendent of the private school about it. He would definitely tell us why we should keep her in his school.

He didn’t.

Terrifying Winds of Change

The superintendent of the private school told us homeschooling was the best option for any child, and this private school was there for those that couldn’t homeschool for whatever reason. He was second choice. SERIOUSLY! NO, this is not what I wanted to hear.

Leaving there, I started to panic – big time! I know what this means, I’m going to have to resign from my job and stay home. I’m going to be the teacher. I don’t want to stay home and I’m NO teacher! Our income is going to be cut in half. Yes, half! We need to sell our two-income home and move to a one-income home. LOTS of changes for this one change!

We put the house on the market, hinging every thing on that. If it sells, I’ll quit and we’ll homeschool. The sale of the house is our fleece.

But it doesn’t sell, and doesn’t and doesn’t!

Meanwhile, our daughter continued to struggle. By 5th grade, she was calling me several times a week with stomachaches and headaches and anything to get out of schoolwork. The physical issues weren’t made up; they were real, brought on by the stress of the situation.  The school was strongly recommending we have her tested for learning disabilities, insisting she needed medication, and declaring she could not stay in the classroom if we didn’t. She was too disruptive.

We talked to our pastor. He called us out on the carpet or I should say, water. He said our house sell was not our fleece, but our excuse to not step out of the boat onto the water.  “Take a leap of faith,” he says! “Obviously, God is telling you to homeschool. Dive in.”

And so, we did.

I was terrified. The house had been on the market 2 years! I put in my resignation at my 10-year job. The house sold immediately and they wanted to move-in in 3 weeks. We frantically started looking for a house and found one that had been standing empty for almost 2 years; move in ready, like it was waiting for us.

We closed. I quit. We moved.

The girls had just finished the 5th and 9th grades. I’ve got the summer to get ready to go from engineer to teacher of 6th and 10th grade girls.  The older girl is a story all her own, I’ll save for another day.

 What do I do?

What do I do with this beautiful, 10 year old girl that used to love learning, but now hates learning with a passion. Not only is she convinced she hates learning, she is convinced she CAN’T learn. All will and interest in learning seemed dead.

I decided since the system had turned her world up on end, it needed turning back over.

What’s critical? That was my question. Well, she had to regain a love for learning or we’d never get anywhere.  We had to re-instill wonder in her life. She didn’t wonder anymore.  I decided it all came down to two things: desiring learning and reading. Those two things are critical to a lifetime of learning.

Since I’d never been home with our girls before, we had the best summer ever! We spent time having fun together and getting to know each other, laughing, jumping, spraying water, preparing for horses, and planting gardens.  I remember us lying together on the trampoline after jumping and laughing. Laying there resting, we watched the white, puffy, clouds drift across the sky.  We saw shapes and we began to wonder what shape they would drift into next. There on the trampoline, I saw a spark and realized the wonder was not dead, but only mostly dead.

Effort and Patience

By all normal standards, we took the 6th grade year off. We threw out all the workbooks, textbooks, test and anything else that looked like school.

Little did she know that the summer wasn’t all play for me.

I spent time researching with the homeschooling moms I’d met and the resources they’d directed me to, looking for the best philosophies, methods, curriculum, etc. Several resources were helpful to me, but the one I found most encouraging and understandable during this early stage was “The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.” This book really spoke to my I-have-no-clue-what-I’m-doing mentality!

Narrowing it back down to my two critical things – loving learning and reading, I decided I needed a really good book to read with her so she could discover the enjoyment of a story.  I chose a G.A. Henty novel a little above her grade level. I was told it was a wonderful story, but probably too difficult for her. It was about Egypt, which is something she had once been interested in. Perfect, a good story and a little challenging. When I picked it, I thought she could read, she just didn’t like to.

I was wrong! We sat down together with the book and she agreed it looked interesting. I told her I’d read some and she could read some. When it came to her part, she said she didn’t know the first word, second word, third word, and so forth.

Astounded, I said, you don’t know “The?”

“No. See I told you I’m stupid.”

We did that with several words. Finally, I asked her why she was so convinced she was stupid and it was because the teachers had told her she was.

“Did they use that word? Stupid,”  I asked.

“No. They said I couldn’t read or do math or anything. That’s stupid,” she replied.

She was so convinced. It was like a big brick wall. My heart broke for her and I silently prayed for guidance on how to attack that wall. Finally, I tried to explain to her that there is more than one way to do things and maybe the methods at the school didn’t fit the way God made her. One size fits all rarely fits all.  I tried to take the huge weight of learning everything off her, explaining that knowing how to read is really all she needed. If she wanted to know about something, she only needed to get a book and read about it. From travel, to medicine, to animals, to art books could take you a long way. She agreed to give it some effort. I agreed to be very patient.

We both didn’t realize the commitment we’d just made!
We got a dictionary and the book. She held “The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt,” and I held “Webster’s Dictionary” in our respective laps sitting on the den sofa. We looked up EVERY SINGLE WORD! The, a, there, with, – EVERYTHING! Oh my goodness! We looked up each word in the sentence and then we went back and read it again to try to put the whole sentence in context.  By the time you’ve looked up every word, you have no idea what the sentence was about. We got through one page a day. It’s all we could both take! That was a LONG week.

But just like Easter Sunday is a shining beacon on Good Friday, Monday was coming! We took the weekend off from reading together, this being our only school activity, and weekends off from school being the only lifestyle we knew. Monday reading time came, and I gathered the book and dictionary and sat down to the page we left off on. She tells me I’m in the wrong place and we are at the next chapter.

“I don’t think so,” I say.

“Oh, I read to the next chapter by myself over the weekend,” she says casually. “I had to know what happened. Is that bad? Should I have not done that?”

After that past week and looking up ALL those words, I’m having a hard time believing she actually read it. Thinking more along the lines she doesn’t want to sit there through another full page of looking up every word.

“No, no that’s fine. It’s your story to read. But I’ve been doing it with you and I didn’t read it over the weekend. So could you catch me up?”

She proceeded to tell me in great detail what happened in the remainder of the chapter. I’m stunned. Happily stunned.

I often tell people I taught her to read in one week, but its probably more accurate that I taught her that she could read in a week.   From then on, she preferred reading it to herself and then telling me all about it in big flamboyant style while I cooked dinner or whatever! Sometimes, she would have to go get the book and read it verbatim so she got quotes correct. You should hear her read. She makes books come alive right in front of you.

 A Whole New Beginning

Our only other book that 6th grade year was “The Handbook of Nature Study.“
I would tell her to go outside and see if any of the nature pictures in the book could be found in our yard.  Before long she could identify different types of trees on the interstate as we drove past them at 70mph! She could tell you their names and all the information from the book, obviously having read every single word.

That was a great year of regaining a love for learning. She went on to read Aristotle, Plato, Shakespeare, finish calculus and physics, as well as, teach herself Japanese, Greek and Hebrew.  One year, 7th grade, her science was volunteering for a local archeologist on a dig near our home where they found Native American artifacts while upgrading a bridge.  At the end, she wrote a paper for the professor in charge for credit.

Summa Cum Laude – What a Finish!

We never had her tested or medicated. By the grace of God she learned anyway.

This week she graduated Summa Cum Laude from University with a Bachelor of Arts in Archeology and a minor in Japanese.  CatrinaGraduation

A twenty-year journey in finishing the work started with a four year old excited about learning all she could! This truth is now self-evident – She can learn!

A twenty-year journey to finishing molding an engineer into a homeschool mom.   I can do all things through Christ….

Knowing that she will now spend her life learning, and I’ll always identify as a homeschool mom, neither of those journeys is actually finished, but this huge milestone of college graduation leaves me resting in the knowledge that God will finish what He starts in us.



Fossils Rock!

Daniel is doing Apologia’s Exploring Creation with General Science 2nd Edition. Here is his stab at Experiment 7.1 (page 160) “Making a Fossil Cast.”

First he read the instructions – that may seem obvious, but he is twelve. Little brother, David age 7, has decided he wants to join in and participate.  We gathered up all the supplies.  Oh, and just ignore that stuff on the left side of the table. That’s our other project – history – Charlemagne’s Crown in the making. The paint is drying. More on that in an upcoming post.

Reading directions and gathering supplies.
Reading directions and gathering supplies.

Making the mold! We used Sculpey clay, but I don’t recommend this if you are buying supplies. Its on the pricey side. The book says Play-Doh will work. We had Sculpey left over from another project, so that’s what we used. Notice – little brother looking a little less enthusiastic. This attention span is typical for him – don’t be alarmed!

Making the mold!
Making the mold!

Here’s the mold of his sea shell – which we actually got from the Gulf Coast last winter. Two different science adventures coming together!  He covered the mold with petroleum jelly.

Sea Shell Mold
Sea Shell Mold

Measuring, weighing, and mixing the plaster! Here’s the MATH part! They (science & math) go together – just get used to it.  We halved the plaster recipe on the container because we didn’t need a whole POUND worth! But we should have cut it to one forth. We would have still had plenty and the math would have been even more fun!

Not pictured – little brother, who has apparently moved on.

MATH Alert!! Weighing the plaster and measuring the water.
MATH Alert!! Weighing the plaster and measuring the water.

WARNING!! HAZARDS!! At least that’s what we read on the plaster container. Hence, the goggles, mask, and gloves were required. He’s very serious about warnings! It might be overkill, but its his experiment – just go with it.

Mixing - DON'T breath in the plaster or get it in your eyes!
Mixing – DON’T breath in the plaster or get it in your eyes!

Once it is mixed well, pour it into your mold. We have the mold in a plastic or maybe its Styrofoam plate. The books says paper, which we didn’t have. This plate worked. I think it just has to be throw away.

Plaster in mold.
Plaster in mold.

Let it sit and sit and sit. Okay, it really didn’t take that long unless you are 12 and 7. They went out to play and when they came back…

Hard plaster!
Hard plaster!

He broke off the excess, and pulled them apart. Cast made!

Fossil cast!
Fossil cast!

He’s one proud scientist!!

Daniel the scientist!
Daniel the scientist!

Now step 9: Clean up your mess!! Whatever you do, don’t skip this step!!

They spent the next several hours making more molds. Yes, “they” – little brother did come back for the big reveal!  Perhaps tomorrow we’ll pour a cast of the nose mold he’s made. But for today – we’re done!!


Curriculum Crutch

Standing around our kitchen the other day, a friend expressed her frustration with getting her 9-year-old son to listen and absorb her instruction. She had a few examples, but one that really highlights this common struggle from moms is her clock example. She was trying to get her son to learn how to “do” time/clock problems in his math curriculum.

Analog Clock
Play with a clock to learn to tell time.

She had explained to him that 30 minutes after the hour could also be expressed as half-passed the hour. When she asked him to do the problems on the curriculum sheet, he couldn’t repeat or remember these different expressions on the paper.  My immediate response was to ask if she’d played clock games to help him with clock/time expressions.

Later, as I reconsidered her issue and my response, I thought, “Why are we so curriculum dependant, especially for the most basic of life lessons?” I remembered months earlier a mom asked me what’s the best curriculum to use to teach the days of the week.  Do we need a curriculum to teach children to tell time, know the days of the week, or months of the year? No, we don’t. And not only do we not need a curriculum for these lessons, its not even the best way to teach them. What we need is a clock and a calendar.

We probably already have clocks and calendars in our home. We just need to remember to point out what they tell us when we walk past them. Point them out everywhere you go.

Nasa watch at the Space Center in Huntsville, Al.

It’s especially instructive to identify dinnertime, leaving for church time, or friends coming over time. My children really track the time on the clock waiting for that time the friends are due to arrive. Its a great opportunity to use all the different phrases to express the time and to point out the minute lines, five minute marks, half hour and quarter hour. As an aside, the clock is also a great place to learn fractions.  Have our children had experience with the clock before they have to answer questions about it on a curriculum sheet?

When we try to teach children something in the curriculum that they have no experience with, it is very hard to learn it just for the sake of learning something. Kids need a purpose. Like all of us, they need a reason to do what they do. Busy work (or work that seems to have no purpose) frustrates and rarely teaches. If they’ve experienced the clock as it

Different clocks.

relates to their lives (and things they care about), then when it shows up on their math curriculum, those will be the easy pages to fly through. What time ice cream is going to be served makes a child want to understand how to read the clock.

Curriculum dependency is a problem in other areas as well. So watch out for it! That’s not to say we don’t need curriculum, but overly depending on it can leave us missing the opportunity to teach the real life lessons that present themselves through the course of our day. Curriculum not only helps us keep forward momentum, but also reminds us to cover things we might forget needs to be taught. Maybe we didn’t think of the analog clock until it came up in the math curriculum.

Time to flight = FUN learning!!

If so, our child will need some real life experience with it before the on-paper clock exercises will make sense.  Curriculum is not a crutch. Curriculum is a useful teaching tool, but life is the lesson.


Schooling at home or Homeschooling?

Met the sweetest lady today at our monthly homeschool mom’s discussion group. Her only son, 8 years old, has struggled through public then private schooling. They’ve even tried homeschooling once before. The troubles have persisted. Now they are trying homeschooling again and she came to our group for the first time looking for encouragement and insight.

As her story unfolded it became clear that the problem her son was having was that the school method did not work with her son’s learning style. He struggled to learn under the group techniques. The reason homeschooling wasn’t working? She was using the same methods or techniques at home. She was doing school at home instead of homeschooling. It’s a snare many of us fall into mainly because it’s the way we were taught and it’s the conventional wisdom of our time. Questioning it and branching out is often met with disapproval and even rejection from friends and family.

Our son learning his letters and colors on our back porch.

Learning at home is by definition different from learning in the classroom setting or the conventional teaching environment. In additional this so called conventional wisdom is more aptly named modern education. When reading biographies of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and so many others, we see they weren’t educated this modern way at all.

Colors, numbers, letters, expression, collaboration, and so much more with sisters on the driveway!



They enjoyed learning throughout their lives, rather than being in the mode of get educated and set that task aside as if it’s a necessary evil.

My best advice when at this frustrating crossroads or when first starting out, is to read biographies of great people from at least 100+ years ago,then tailor your educational environment more along theses examples instead of today’s four walls confined educational model.


Now we're just getting carried away!! Feet painting?? :):)

You’ll find reading good books including biographies and books about topics of interest rather than textbooks and doing or experiencing your interest will not only educate your children beyond your wildest hopes, but also excite them to love learning for a lifetime.


Final result!! All washable - except the lessons & memories - they are there for life!




Follow your instincts of what works for your child. When they are having fun learning, learning will be a way of life.


Scout’s Blue and Gold Banquet. Who, What, When, How?

Blue and Gold Banquet and Crossover Banquet for our scouts is one and the same.

Where? This was easy.

Our church fellowship hall was booked a year in advance.

Who? Me –  Decorations and food!

What I didn’t know when I volunteered? Low popcorn sales means little money for banquet!

When did find out my limitations? One week before the big night!

How was I going to get this accomplished for 17 excited 10 year olds and close to 100 of their families? God’s grace, mason jars, and a wonderful older daughter.


Searched the Internet for ideas and got a few. Most of them were very involved, amazing crafts from Mama’s that are more talented than I and seriously more time than my week to pull it off.  My sweet grown niece was doing the same banquet for her son NEXT year and told me what she was doing with Mason jars for the big night. She had already started getting them ready.  Did I mention her’s is next year and mine was next week!  But the Mason jar idea got me encouraged. I knew I was hanging on to all those old mason jars in the basement for a good reason.


Time to shop & brainstorm.  The boys and I walked around Hobby Lobby looking for ideas.  Many were to be had, but at what expense? Finally, we came upon a Scout-symbol looking stamp. Hummm… I could put that on all those mason jars. Blue and Gold ribbon on large rolls very cheap today. After a bit we happened up on a big stack of American flag bandanas – $1 a piece.  All right, now we’re getting somewhere. Okay tea lights are cheap. Get word from my husband that two half rolls of blue table coverings are left over from last year. Okay so the tables will be blue. To Walmart! Got blue and gold balloons and helium. What to put in those jars?  After a while, we’re down the candle isle. Where else could we go to ease our despair? But there on right in the middle of the isle what was hanging but bag after bag of butterscotch candy wrapped in beautiful gold wrapping – $1 a bag! YAY!  Last to Party City to get the rest of the table covering and 100ft rolls of table cover is on half price sale. Thank you, God!


I spent two days stamping those jars with the scout symbol using my son’s finger paint, filling the jars with butterscotch, and tying on ribbon round the tops. My college daughter took the afternoon/eveing off to help me set it all up.  It all came together beautifully. The boys had a blast and each got to take home an American Flag bandana, candy, and balloons.  It was a good night for $95. That’s less than $1 per person.



Oh yea – food!! Full Moon BBQ had agreed to do the banquet weeks before. Upon hearing of our money crunch, they lowered their quote and agreed to do the banquet for what we always charg

ed in the past for admission – $10 a person.

Thanks to the good Lord, great family, good friends, parents in the scouts, and Full Moon, it was a wonderful night of food and
fellowship and crossing over!


More Than One Way To Obey

David, our four year old, keeps getting into the fireplace and playing in the ashes with his trucks and cars. He drives them all in there and then back out onto the hearth, rug, and chairs. Taking all the ash with them. He’s been repeatedly told not to play in the ashes. He keeps going back. He’s been given every discipline available by the law and the prophets and a few used in the parenting books. He’s had to help clean up all the mess and even had the cars & trucks taken away. He CANNOT stay out of the ashes. Finally, today, at the end of my rope (and it is springtime), I decide that I’m tired of fighting this battle and we are just going to completely clean out the fireplace so there are no ashes to make a mess in. Feeling like I’m giving in and lost the battle cause I’ve been using this disobedience problem to try to instill obedience. I’ve hardheadedly insisted that he “stay out of the ashes.” But, I can’t take it anymore. I’m tired of cleaning all that up and he obviously just can’t learn!! This being where I’m at, I insist he help me clean out the fireplace while his brother plays outside.

A Clean Fireplace instead of a place of temptation

We could have been in mourning from the Old Testament, as with tears and ashes we only needed sackcloth to completely fill the bill. As we’re cleaning it all away, he asks me why we have to throw out all the ashes. I’m explaining to him that it’s because he can’t stay out of it so we have to get rid of it. I’m going on and on about how it’s ruining our rug and furniture and since he simply will NOT stay out then it has to go. Suddenly I realize that in my one sightedness of trying to teach obedience, I’m missing this chance to teach fleeing temptation. Exactly!! He really cannot stay out of it, and since it’s wrong to play in it – it has to go!! This way we CAN be obedient. There is more than one way to be obedient to God. The obvious way of doing what He says and the other way which is to remove other options if necessary. If there are no ashes to play in, then it will be easy to obey the command to not play in them.


Science Adventures – V1.0

We’ve gone through lots of different things for elementary science and it was fun in K-2nd grade. But now we find most of what we’ve seen geared for primary school is just dull and boring past the 2nd to 3rd grade level. Too slow paced and lacking action for my action packed little boys. As they begged for more science experiments – cause we LOVE those – with some meat, I’ve struggled to find something that will meet their expectations without using chemicals and such that might hurt their less than careful mentalities. The other night I remembered that I have in my library the Apologia 7th grade science program – Exploring Creation through General Science. Our daughter used this when she was in the 7th grade. While the textbook was excellent for her “own your own” reading level and the questions were appropriate for her, we found ourselves delving deeper through research assignments and searching for more challenging experiments. She kept saying “This experiment is cool, but we did it in elementary school. Can’t we do something new?” Of course we didn’t home school the girls through most of elementary school. They went to a private Christian school. Therefore, we had to enhance the experiments as well.

David and Daniel with their Atom Experiment - Density in Nature
That got me thinking that maybe my 8-½ year old might like that course. Now, it’s too much reading and hand writing for him on his own. So we began yesterday with the first section of the first chapter. I read it to him and he answered orally the “On your own” questions and then we all (little 4 year old brother included) did the experiment and discussion of the findings. He made a laboratory notebook and recorded his findings. It was amazing. They both seemed to really enjoy the experiment. The four year old not so much following the reading and discussion, but the 8 year old really responded well. He got up this morning asking if we could do more. Ha! Now I’ve got bait to get that other seatwork completed. ☺
Daniel's Laboratory Notebook
Syrup, Water, Oil - Pebble, Grape, Corks


Learning at your own pace!

What I love about homeschooling is that each child can learn at his own pace. We started out homeschooling our now grown girls when they were beginning the 6th and 10th grades. That story has lots of blogs for another day. But now we are teaching our 7 and 3 year old boys. Almost 2 years ago we bought “The Story of the World” by Susan Wise Bauer ( for two reasons: 1) I loved her book with her mother, “The Well Trained Mind” for our girls through the high school years and 2) Everyone just raved about how great it is. Well I couldn’t get our son, then 6, to get one thing out of the stories or activities. So I stored it away on the book shelf and forgot about it. We read children novels on historic people and that was the gist of history while he was 6, then at 7 I purchased Scholastic interactive activity books on American History, which is mostly cut, color and paste activities with a little history built in. As his 7th year is coming to a close, I’m getting concerned about his lack of history so Sunday at church I asked a friend what she did for history – “The Story of the World” she quickly replies. “My kids just love the stories.” I felt a little discouraged, knowing I had tried this and couldn’t get my child to listen, but I pulled it back out and tried it again. Well, what a difference 18-20 months makes in a child’s life. Not only will he listen to the stories, but he can’t wait to hear what is happening next. Most importantly later he seems to remember the story vividly as he retells it to his father or ask me if I remember so and so that happened in the story. This is why I love homeschooling – we can do things when they are ready and they excel greatly instead of pushing it when its required and running the risk of them hating not only the subject but learning altogether. And the advantages of having an older brother – our 3 year old listens too because he doesn’t want to be left out. Although I admit it has to be with a car or train in his had moving it around the living room floor. 🙂 So hang in there, if your child doesn’t thrive in a particular subject or even curriculum right now, wait a little and try it again. Maybe it is just the wrong time for him and not his ability at all. Hang in there and take learning at their pace.