Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Call Of Apple Cider

View Apple Run

When the leaves change, and orchards open, it’s time to buy apple cider.  Pies, apples, donuts with cinnamon and sugar . . . they are start calling.  So we decided to go to an apple orchard as our field trip this afternoon.  We have only lived here a short time, so the question became, which orchard?   We ended up picking one with lots to see and do.

We picked the wrong one.  Have I mentioned that I’ve been having an unusually hard week?  Yeah, I have so we’ll move on.   In the past we have had some fantastic family outings at other apple orchards.  This one was grossly overpriced, confusing in it’s layout, and you literally could not do anything for free there. :(

So we went down the road to the next orchard and stopped in their store.  We bought a bag of our beloved Honeycrisp apples (1/2 peck for $2.50 less than the last place), and a gallon of apple cider.  We didn’t go on an overpriced wagon ride, or pet animals at an expensive petting zoo.  We’ll use the money that we saved for something even more fun another day.  Maybe we’ll even try another orchard before the season is over.
Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.   But in the meantime, I have a fantastic husband and kids, and a few fun photos. 

It’s a crazy, goofy life but I still love it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This

View Kids
 This has been such a crazy last couple weeks at our house.  The drainage from the kitchen sink and dishwasher isn’t draining.  We have boiler issues just before the cold season starts.  We way too many smaller projects demanding our attention.  And then there’s the children . . .

I love my children, and I love homeschooling with them.  It is a passion that we share as a family.  This week has been especially challenging though.  The little one has back molars coming in.  My biggest child (my hubby) and I are not getting a good night’s sleep these days.  The little wiggle worm in between us has something to do with that.  Her brothers are having a hard time settling down at night right now.  They stay up too late talking and whispering some nights, which of course makes for some testy moments during school.  We are working on making the time before before bed a more relaxing transition.

Transitions are hard.  There is no way around it.  All summer we stayed up late, and slept in.  There are days that sticking to a reasonable bedtime is a struggle.  Our little one’s bedtime needs hamper that.  But ultimately we need to buck up, and plow through.  We are the parents and that’s our job.  If we don’t hold our kids accountable to the rules that we set we pay for it in the end, and so do they.

Lord please help all of us to get a good nights sleep tonight, and bless us with an even better school day tomorrow.   Amen

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Lone Heron

View The Great Blue Heron

When my husband first saw this Heron he couldn’t resist the temptation to get a few good photos.  As a family we love nature and photography, so why wouldn’t he?  We were very delighted and surprised that the Heron “stayed put” after so many photos (some of them taken very near to him).  Even so, we walked gingerly and respectfully quiet toward him.  Through it all the Heron did get a little nervous at the end, but remained tolerant of our photos, and quiet “oohs and aaahs” at being so close to such a beautiful bird.
Sometimes I feel like that Heron.  He had taken a different path from the others, and was alone when we saw him.  In the same way our family is alone among other family members, in some of the choices that we have made.  We are so much happier now that we have made the choices that we have, but sometimes we get the feeling that we are being watched closely and observed.  Sometimes there is open encouragement and support, and sometimes not so much.

Some of our family thinks “that all kids should be in school”, and they are leery of our decisions.  “We are definitely NOT mainstream!”, they say.  So we don’t watch the latest TV shows, but we do watch some of the older wholesome TV shows online.   We educate our kids at home.  We work together, and watching educational videos are as much of a treat for our kids as watching a movie.  They read, and watch the news, and check out the weather radar online.  They take the classes that interest them at the co-op and in the community at nature centers and such, and play “pretend” rather than video games.  We do a lot of activities with other kids, and their families outside the home.  We visit friends after church on Sunday.  And we enjoy games together, like “Scrabble” and “On Assignment With National Geographic”.  Why does that make us so weird?

We all make different decisions for our families.  I don’t make the choices that you might. And you might not make some of the choices that I have.  When looking at me, learn to see things from my point of view before you form an opinion.  If you give me the gentle understanding and grace that I deserve, then I will be able to let you know me better.

I am looking forward to knowing you better as well!  If you have your own blog, let me know.  You may also drop me a line at my profile page.
Blessings ;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

From Grouchy To Great In A Matter Of Hours

Where we live the days are getting shorter.  The sun shines less, and the days are cooler. 

More often than not we have good days despite the gloomier days of Fall and Winter.Today is not one of them :(

I do know that there is pattern to our not so great days in school.  We are more likely to have a bad school day after a jam packed weekend, or a bad night’s sleep.  Seeing the patterns that lead to a good school day as opposed to a bad one is important.  Not every day is going to be great.  But it is important to empower our children with the tools to succeed in their studies as much as possible by instilling healthy sleep patterns. 

On the days that sleep is an issue, my patience with my children can work wonders.  But it is a temporary fix to a bigger issue.  On the Monday after a busy weekend, patience is also vital, but so is a good night sleep the next night.  Here’s hoping for a good nights sleep to all of us tonight, and a blessed school day tomorrow ;)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Childhood Dreams Have Grown Up

It’s a funny thing to look at the dreams of childhood in the reality of adulthood.  I had a chance to really think about where my former dreams have taken me today.  The realization was really amazing.  The goofy dreams that may have labeled me “nerdy” as a child were really the beginnings of some of the passions that I love today.


For instance, I attempted to card catalog my books as a child.  At one point I actually brought home books that were free donations in order to have more books to organize and “card catalog”.  Before now, not many people knew that, by the way.  Ok, even after this post not many people may know that . . . LOL ;)  But I digress.  So now I’m a homeschooling mom.  I’m still organizing massive amounts of books, and I have plenty of practice now.


My parents instilled in me a love for serving others, and I do that now in various ways.  I serve God first, and my family, friends, and others second.


I loved to learn, read, and train others, and now I train my children.  I am using what I have learned to help them learn what is truly important in life.


I have always loved to travel and take “mystery trips”, and now one of my biggest dreams is to travel the country in an RV.  I would love nothing more than to travel from city to city volunteering to serve churches and Christian non-profits, in exchange for a free-will offering to “keep us going”.  We home educate.  We could do that.  What, we are studying the Grand Canyon?  Let’s volunteer near it, and stop by and check it out!

Now where is that mobile income stream to buy the RV, and get started?  Guess we’ll just dream a tad more  . . . until God provides the means.  If it’s in His will, it’ll happen ;)

Blessings :)

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Community Of Educational Opportunities

I find the home in homeschooling laughable these days.  While much of our education IS at home, there are many opportunities outside the home.  There are SO many in fact, that we routinely pick and choose.  “Socialization”?  That’s not a problem here!

We had full run of a gymnastics facility earlier this week, and are preparing for drama, pottery, and art classes in the next few days.  The drama and pottery classes are at the same time, and at the same place, as they are offered through the co-op.  One less thing to worry about.  Art is offered through a wonderful man that moves between different locations, one of them being near us.  He supplies everything needed for the class.  It’s intensive, and it’s reasonable.  I love these opportunities!

But while these opportunities are all offered through the homeschooling community, there are a wealth of resources in the community at large. 

Science centers, libraries, nature centers, skating rinks, zoos, historical centers etc. are all possible resources for classes and/or positive physical activity for home school families.  And remember, that as an educator, you may be eligible for a discounted membership fee at many science centers, zoos, and historical centers.

We have created a school newspaper.  This is such a fun Language Arts activity.  Why not interview people in the community?  This is fantastic practice in interviewing, and communicating with strangers.

These are but a few of many possible ideas?

What ideas do you have to add?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Beat Of Both Drum And Heart

I was listening to "Creed" by Rich Mullins tonight.  It is one of my favorite songs.  It has a way of breathing life and meaning to this important but dusty, old creed that is refreshing to me.  It is amazing to me all of the things that we commit to memory, without first committing them to heart as well. 

Sometimes songs bring to mind related thoughts that are just as important, but unrelated to the song's intended message.  Tonight, listening to this song, I found myself focused on the drumbeat above all else.  That's saying a lot considering the amazing, and beautiful Hammer Dulcimer music featured there.  Wow!

The revelation to me seemed to be that while music and life are beautiful, without a regular drum or heart beat they can get horribly off track.   A band can practice a song until they have it down pat, but if the drumbeat isn't right it can mess everything up.  It's the same way with our heart.  I don't mean the human heart.  It's to fickle and fragile.  I mean the heart behind what we do during our time on earth.

If God is the power behind the beat of our heart, then we have His strength to lean on in the bad, and praise  for all of the good.  But without God, and a beat, life and music will never have the meaning that they were meant to have.

Lord may all know the beauty, and joy, of the beat given to my heart through you.  Amen

Also, praise God for the life and heart of a dear aunt that went to be with God this last week.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sharing The Homeschooling Journey . . . Together

We just started a new term of home school co-op classes, and I have to say that I enjoy them as much as my kids do.  Don’t get me wrong.  This summer was truly amazing!  Our family visited Grammy by the water.  We (well hubby and the boys) camped in the backyard.  We sat around the backyard fire pit and roasted s’mores a few times.  We went to many a family and friend party or get together, and we even visited some friends while THEY camped.  We have had so much fun!

But as much fun as it is to hang out with my family, I have truly missed the camaraderie of the other homeschooling moms, and the enjoyment of experiencing that on a regular basis.  Going back to the co-op, and the “mother’s room” was a treat.  It is so much fun seeing old faces and new, and the talks about curriculum and ideas for learning.  We laugh, we encourage, we inspire, and we truly enjoy each other.  I love these ladies as a kind of family.  There is an importance to being a part of a family, going down this road . . . together. 

There is a comfort in that at the end of the day, when you’ve told a neighbor that you are homeschooling, and you can practically hear the crickets chirping.  There is a comfort in the laughter that we have at “Moms’ Nights Out” over tea, and chocolate, and stories of the zany life of a homeschooling mom with her kids. 

Each of these ladies is precious, and each of them has earned the right to be cherished and honored, and others “in the trenches with us” . . . no matter what ;)

God Bless you on YOUR journey!

And, speaking of that, how is it going?!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Investing In Something Worth Fighting For

It seems to me that far too many people have gotten so carried away in the thinking of this “throw away society”.  Nothing is sacred, and everything is disposable anymore it seems.  “Don’t take care of what you have, you deserve better!”, seems to be the overwhelming message today.

“Don’t take care of your things, just throw them out when you are tired of them, and buy newer and better ones!”

“Don’t bother nurturing the relationships in your life, toss anyone that irritates you aside, and spend time with someone else!”

“Don’t take care of the precious body that God gave you, you can always nip it, and tuck it, and medicate it later!”  Have you noticed how many celebrities there are that end up looking worse after trying to use plastic surgery or Botox to look younger?

It’s amazing to me how the world hurts today, in part, because they have stopped caring about what they have and want more.  I am so blessed in that I have a man with a mind and a talent for maintenance and repair.  I can not tell you how much money has been saved by just maintaining or repurposing what we already have (or others’ cast offs on Craigslist).   For instance we just recently saved hundreds of dollars in repair costs by having my hubby fix the sway bar and replace the front brakes on the 12 year old minivan.  Our cost for parts was like between $30-$40 (the brakes are under a lifetime warranty).  And we are repurposing someone’s castoff as our new home school storage center/desk.  A tweak, and a little paint, and it will be very functional for us!  The last owners gave it away free on Craigslist.  It’s looks like they just built it, and it’s built well!

Within the last year my hubby started delivering produce as an independent contractor, for a company that strives to buy local, and delivers to the person’s door.  Awesome company, awesome fresh produce, and we are eating healthier.  Hubby earns money to deliver to other customers, and then brings our box home, and I don’t have to shop for produce from the grocery store that goes bad in a couple days.  We also try to do much of our grocery shopping at Trader Joe's.  Many items are cheaper than the local grocery chain, some things are a little more, but we always save money there over the grocery chain in the end.  I mean, why buy plain old orange juice for over $3 when I can buy Orange Peach Mango Juice or Cherry Cider for the same price or cheaper?!  Yumm!  And there is very little there in the way of corn syrup.  The food does not have (that I have found) artificial preservatives, and artificial dyes.  We save money, we are healthier and feeling better, and we are eating food that tastes like restaurant quality or better!  I love it!

Relationships are the greatest investment that people throw away.  You are not always going to be happy with any one person, but all people have value and worth.  I managed a photo area at an independent drugstore for a time, after I was married.  While my hubby was still fixing photo machines at the time, he was not working for the manufacturer that was providing service for that store.  A tech I’ll call Chris came in instead.  Chris was obviously not happy, and actually pretty grouchy, when he came in to work on the machine.  He seemed like a good guy though, and I tried to show him extra kindness when he came in.  I was professional, and I tried extra hard to pay close attention to everything that he told me to do to maintain the machine.  And when I could I brought him some zucchini bread.  After a while he came around, and by the time my hubby started working for that company, Chris and I were friends.  My hubby also became fast friends with him, and we joke that they were separated at birth, because they are that much alike.  The key was that I was professional.  I wasn’t crossing a line and flirting, I was being nice and considerate.  That’s important. 

We found out later that the woman that was in my position before me was doing her job begrudgingly, and wasn’t taking care of all of her responsibilities.  In other words, on top of a already overloaded schedule, Chris knew that he would always have extra work to do at the store I worked at.  When I came in, my actions showed him that I cared about lessening this burden.  AND I gave him zucchini bread.  It’s doesn’t always take a lot to make someone’s life a little happier.  We just have to show that we care.

The biggest way to show people that you care is to visit with those that have little or no visitors.  People in nursing homes and homeless shelters/food pantries have many needs that volunteers are important in fulfilling, but the greatest need that people forget is companionship.  It is one thing to serve food to the homeless.  That is an important calling as well!  But people in need and the elderly need to know that we see and value them as people, and not just a “charity case”.  You would be amazed how many people you can make happy with something as simple as a smile,a handshake, and a “How are you?”

Blessings ;)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Giving People A Chance

People are funny, seemingly fickle creatures.  Why are they the way they are?  What makes them tick?  What is their life story, and how does it relate to who they are today?  Where does their faith lie?
I often ponder these things when people act in a way that I don’t fully understand. 
Today my family was just leaving the checkout line of the hardware store when a clerk, seeing my kids straggling behind, said something that caught me off guard.  We had just been there to pick up paint chips to paint something at home, and when I told him that as we walked by, he said “Just don’t leave your kids behind.  I’ve already raised my kids!”.  He sounded serious, and gruff, although he may have had a very slight smile on his lips.  Was he joking?  Was raising his kids that awful an experience for him?  If so, how sad.  I really don’t know, and I probably never will.  But all I can do is care about him, and pray for him.
I used to work behind a photo counter years ago.  A man came in to drop off some film at prom time.  “How long will it take?”, he asked.  “About fifteen hours”, I responded calmly.  “But, but this is one hour photo!  Why can’t I have it in an hour?” he demanded, red faced.  I calmly pointed to the counter behind me where at least 75 rolls of undeveloped film sat in photo bags.  “It’s prom time, and they were first, so I have to develop their film before yours.”  He wasn’t happy, but he didn’t treat me too badly.  As I remember, he sulked, and walked out. 
There are so many things that people do and say, that make you wonder, what is their problem?  Why are they treating me that way?
Sometimes the way that people treat us has less to do with us personally, and more to do with them.  Maybe is was something seemingly insignificant that we said that touched a deep wound inside them.  Maybe we said one thing, and it caused them to draw a conclusion about us that is way off.  Maybe we are part of a group of people that they have some deep seated grudge against.  Maybe they are just that way with everyone as a defensive wall between themselves and others because something hurt them that bad, maybe years or even decades earlier.  Or maybe we did say something that hurt them, but we are blissfully naive about it, while it is something that really bothers the other person.  And they are unwilling to talk with us about it.
We really have no control over the words and actions of others, but we do have a choice in our words and actions.  I am not perfect, but I am working on leaning on the side of grace in these situations.
A wise pastor once told me about the importance of leaning on grace.  He said that when others question you as to how you feel about something, that you should always ask why.   It is then that you will have a greater understanding of where they are coming from, and you can then give an appropriate answer.  I think that this concept applies not only to our answers to others’ questions, but also to our responses to others’ actions.  We are not always happy about what others do and say, but the way we act has a great potential to make things better, or much worse.
For me, I am striving to reach out to those that I hurt, and those that hurt me.  Life is too short to hold a grudge, or seek revenge against someone!  Recently I actually have had the chance to extend forgiveness to a couple people from the past.  It was a good thing.  My wish is that I would make right, within God’s will, where I have wronged.  And that I would willingly extend to those that have hurt me the grace that I have found through others.
Blessings, and grace to all of you as we remember those lost that September 11th nine years ago . . . click here for "Revelation-September 11th Tribute" video.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Frugal Is The New Rich

It’s funny.  We have been forced to be frugal for at least three years or so now.  We thought that we were struggling, and being frugal before that, but we were so blind.  It took two layoffs and a bankruptcy to wake us up to being truly frugal.  Talk about God “hitting us with the holy 2x4” (as a friend of ours would say)!  While it wasn’t a fun journey to where we are now, we are feeling way more rich today then we did when we had a larger income and the nicer cars.  God is blessing us in so many ways now, as we live the frugal lifestyle!

So I’ve given you some ways to be frugal in homeschooling.  Now onto everyday living . . .

First, give up the big status driven purchases.  As a frugal person, when I see someone with the expensive brand name apparel, I think “ok, either they found a really good find at the thrift store, or they spent way too much”.  I have some very generous friends that pass down many, many beautiful clothes to my children.  I am so VERY blessed by these acts of kindness.  Practically everything that my little one wears is a thrift store find, and she is very well dressed, with many name brand clothes.  We also gave up the newer cars, and paid cash for our minivan.  It is 12 years old, but still looks nice.  My hubby does all of the minor repairs that it needs.  Before we started driving this minivan, we were leasing a brand new version of the one we drive now.  After buying our current van (which we like better, by the way) I weighed the price of leasing the last van vs. buying this one.  We paid over $3800 EACH YEAR to lease a van, that we now OWN an older better version of to the tune of $2750 total (plus a few minor repairs that still don’t bring it to the cost of the other van FOR A YEAR).  Consider whether the big name is really worth the money that you waste to own it?!

Think creatively.  I didn’t say illegal or dishonorable, I said creative! ;) In other words, look at a want or need you have as an opportunity to be frugal.  I’ll give you an example.  Like most families, we like pizza.  But unless you buy the one topping $5 pizzas, they are just too expensive, and you only get one topping for that price.  Making homemade pizza is an idea, but some of the crusts out there are either not that great.  And some crusts are just too expensive when you add ingredients for sauce, cheese, and toppings.  But if you shop where the restaurants shop, like Gordon Food Service, you can buy pizza crusts in bulk for about $1 a piece.  I hope that my Italian brother-in-law doesn’t mind me sharing this, but his pizza/spaghetti sauce is soooo good!   To make an awesome pizza sauce, just mix tomato paste and tomato sauce, an Italian blend of seasonings like Mrs. Dash, chopped garlic and onion, and sugar.  And then if you buy a bulk bag of shredded cheese (5 lb. bag of Mozzarella Provolone Blend from GFS? Yummm!), you can save so much money! Then just add fresh veggies/ toppings.  Doing this, I can make a pizza for about $2 that will blow the pants off that $5 pizza place pizza any day!

Speaking of food, shop the manager’s specials at the grocery store!  My hubby calls me the markdown queen.  There are times when they clearance something out, like training pants or deodorant, that there is no obvious reason for them doing it.  I’m fine with that!  The other day, I went to the grocery store to buy training pants for the little one.  I was ready to pay $16.99 for a bag of 52 pairs of training pants.  Then I saw three $5 bags of training pants in the clearance basket.  Hmmm, save $1.99 and I also receive 17 more training pants by buying them that way.  Oh, but they were blue “boy” training pants.  Big whoop dee do!  They work the same, don’t they?

Do you love movies and old TV shows?  We don’t have cable.  In fact when the country converted to digital television, we let them leave us behind.  Our TV in only used to play movies now.  This was one of the BEST decisions that we have ever made.  Cable is so expensive, and the junk on TV these days isn’t worth watching  anyway.  But from time to time (maybe up to three times a week) we do go to Hulu or Fancast and watch a family friendly movie or old TV show like Dragnet or CHIPS.  It’s so much better than what is on TV now, and (other than the internet connection) it’s free!

And have you ever made your own laundry detergent?  That is an awesome way to save money if you have a family!  I just went to the Duggar family's recipe page to find my laundry detergent recipe.  I figured that if it was their recipe for laundry detergent, it HAD to be good.  After all, they have to do A LOT of laundry!  It was sooo easy to make, and for less than $2.00 I was able to make 640 loads worth of laundry detergent!  We have been using it for a couple months now, and it works great!  I will never go back to buying laundry detergent again.

Well, I’ve shared some of my tips . . . now it’s time to share yours!

Blessings ;)

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Have A Confession To Make . . .

My kids love books, books about presidents, and explorers, and scientists.  Just recently my kids devoured books about Ronald Reagan, George Washington, and traveling on the Mayflower.  And at night, we read aloud from the Anne of Green Gables series of books, and my boys love it!  And I love that they love it!  (Even my hubby is enjoying the “Anne books”, but don’t tell him that I told on him ;)

OK, so it’s not a real confession.  I mean I’m sure that many of you have similar stories about your children.  But this is like a whole new world to me.  Within the last two plus years we’ve gone from a family that runs around from one thing to the next, to a family that loves to slow down, declutter, read, learn, and grow.  I’m really enjoying this!

We are now in a new way of thinking then I have ever been, and it’s nice.  Learning fractions is no longer just for math class, it is now learned when the bananas start to turn brown and I assign “The Master Chef” (my oldest son) the duty of making banana bread.  I ask him to double the recipe, and poof, we learning math . . . in the kitchen!  Outside of our language arts studies we also put together a school newspaper, and suddenly “The Bug Whisperer” (my younger son) is searching the information in his favorite nature books for the perfect subject for an article or crossword puzzle.  (You can generate your own crossword puzzles here.)  I open the computer and our little one is begging to work on her phonics on Starfall.  This is fun!

And I am learning with them.  In the past 2+ years I have learned that Monarch Butterflies winter in Mexico.  I have learned more about where the subject and predicates are in a sentence.  And most importantly I have learned that “The Bug Whisperer” thrives and flourishes under the tutelage of a calm teacher, but even more than that needs one on one help from time to time to feel secure.  He is more confident now then ever in school at home.  His love of animals, and nature, weather, and creation is amazing!  And “The Master Chef” is not only a master chef, but he is also a mentor to his siblings, and an excellent student and observer of the things and people around him. His dream is to own a restaurant some day, and I believe he’ll do it!  And it will be a nut-free restaurant ;) Our little one is growing faster than ever through the encouragement of her “brudders”, and is happily invited on (almost) all of their adventures.

I am happier than I have ever been before and I have God, and the Titus 2 homeschoolers that He brought around me, to thank for that!



Thinkfinity is a great search engine of valuable printables for teachers from many sites across the web.

Super Teacher Worksheets and WorksheetsPLUS are also great resources for the teacher that needs worksheets to help students grasp a particular concept.

Author Jan Brett offers a wealth of cool tidbits to use in a classroom or at home.  She has everything here from printable flashcards and handwriting sheets to wall murals, all with her beautiful illustrations from her books.

Family Education is a wealth of printables based on both educational concepts and even historical events.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Importance of the Titus 2 Woman

In the book of Titus chapter 2  older woman, uh I mean more experienced women, are called to teach the younger women how to behave and to love their husbands and children.  I would venture to say that these women of faith are more needed now than ever!

We have so much marketing hitting us, almost literally, everywhere we go . . . including the stall door of the public restrooms sometimes!  There are so many more choices these days, and with each choice advocates and marketers to push you in the direction of their “perfect choice”.  For woman, some of the debates over the choices that we have to make are fierce, and overwhelming.  After all, who wants to be the “awful mother” that made the wrong choice!

Do I have natural childbirth, or do I accept pain medication during childbirth?  Should the birth be at a hospital or at home?  Once the baby is born, do I breastfeed or bottle feed, or both?  Then before you know it it’s time for school.  Do I send them to a public school, a parochial school, a charter school, or do I home school?  And then there’s all of the homeschooling options!  Arrrrrggggg!  (The arrrrrrggggg is directed at they many decisions we have to make. I like the wealth of homeschooling options ;)

The truth is that are many choices that are fine.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each choice we make, but whatever we do, we need to be informed so that we can make the best choice for our family.  We are in our third year on this homeschooling journey, and the counsel and information of the more experienced women in our support group have enriched and opened our choice to home school into a whole world and wealth of opportunity and joy.  For those new homeschooling moms, strong in their convictions to home school, we need to be that same shelter in this storm of the educational controversy around us.  We need to guide and teach them to be the best that they can be, so that they can grow where they are planted until God should take them down a different educational path.  One of the greatest joys of homeschooling is that in teaching my children, I am also learning a great deal myself through my life with them.

Blessings on your educational journey ;)

7-29-2010 4-22-29 PM_0190 It’s a educational opportunity and a lemon-limeade stand all in one!  (Counting money, handling customers, offering a quality product . . . )  Loving the “mascot” ;)


P.S. Here are a few promised home school resources. a home school version of the famous big name auction site offers free educational games and worksheet generators, organized by grade level is, by far, my VERY favorite worksheet generator.  It features every kind of worksheet generator that you can imagine!  You can make anything from personalized handwriting sheets to visual multiplication sheets and maps.  This is WELL worth checking out!

Steve Spangler Science is a great resource for buying science supplies, yes.  But also look at the experiment ideas and science videos.




Friday, September 3, 2010

Have I Mentioned That I Like Free (and inexpensive) Resources?

It is a well known fact, that many homeschooling families are one income households.  Not all are, I realize, but the point is that by and large we value the offer of something that is free or inexpensive.  It’s not that we are cheap, but many of us have found a need to be frugal.  In that spirit, and to that end, here are some resources that I’ve compiled over the last two and a half years that you may have missed in your web travels.

Grade Books-For those of you that are interested in a free online grade book/ school calendar/ report and progress report generator, there are others, but I use Snapgrades.  I found it recommended in another home school blog, and I have found it easy to use, and a great resource!  I love the fact that during those weeks that I am questioning whether we are doing enough in school I can easily check the interactive calendar, and rest my nerves.  The irony is that the weeks that I question whether we are doing enough in school, are usually the weeks that I find that I’ve been “cracking the whip” in school and trying to do more than I need to.  The boys love the fact that they receive a report card just like they did when they were “ in school” before we started homeschooling.

Curriculum- Lapbooks, and worksheets, and worksheet generators . . . oh my ;)  There are so many choices when it comes to finding free and inexpensive curriculum, but here are some of the ones that I like.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op and are awesome websites for deals.  Next to attending a home school curriculum fair, these are the best places to save money on your homeschooling resources. Well worth checking out before you spend more elsewhere!

Homeschool Share is a site full of free lapbooks (including preschool lapbooks!) as well as other wonderful resources.

 Hands of a Child also offers one of their awesome lapbooks free semi-annually.  The others are not free BUT here’s the thing . . . they are reasonable, they are beautiful, they are well researched and thought out, and they almost literally offer lapbooks on just about anything you can think of from World War II to Hot Dogs (it was more cross curricular and in depth then it sounds, really LOL ;).

Learningpage is a wealth of free printables for Pre K- 3rd grade!  Here you’ll find professional worksheets/fun sheets to teach many basic skills like handwriting and counting money, printable themed wall murals that you can color and piece together with themed worksheets to match, and many wonderful free resources by current event in the monthly themed worksheet area.

ReadWriteThink is full of interactive resources to teach kids how to write a postcard or a newspaper, create a crossword puzzle or a action hero trading card (in lieu of a book report ;), or many other fun activities of Language Arts learning.  At the end of the activity you are then able to print your creation.  So much fun!  There are also lesson plan ideas each activity for those that want to use them.

Binding Books Beautifully features a book binding tool that is both inexpensive and versatile. It facilitates the older method of binding books by sewing them together between cloth or paper covered book covers. Imagine not only being able to create a beautiful book out of your kids best school and artwork, but to be able to create your own books and yearbooks, economically.  It is a way to do what the product name suggests . . . bind books beautifully!

Pizza Hut BOOK IT! is also offered to homeschoolers!  I love that Pizza Hut allows our kids to enjoy the free personal pizzas as well!  It starts in October so you may be too late to sign up for this year, but if you haven’t already, you can still try.  

I have more . . . but phew, that will have to wait until next time.  The school bell is about to ring for today, and being that I’m the teacher, well it’s time to go ;)

Until next time, God Bless ;)







Thursday, September 2, 2010

Short On Cash? There Are Plenty Of Free Resources Perfect For Homeschoolers

There are sooo many choices when it comes to educational resources for the homeschooling family!  Some are worth paying a little extra for, but at times people pay for resources when there are perfectly good and free alternatives.  You just have to know where to look (like the Journey North Kids Site that I mentioned yesterday).
For instance, are you looking for a phonics program? Starfall is a completely free four stage phonics program.  I loved it and have used it with my younger two now.  Not only is it an awesome interactive phonics site, but if you peruse the Download Center and the Scope and Sequence Page you will find a wealth of printable material.  Also when using the site look for a picture of a little printer at the end of the interactive books and activities for even more free printable worksheets.   (Only one word of caution about Starfall:  They also offer a Kindergarten curriculum which includes in it’s readers a book about Darwin.  Being a Christian, I wasn’t too keen about that to say the least, but there was nothing like that at their phonics site, as far as I know and it’s free.  I’ve looked it over pretty well, but look it over for yourself as well.)
Literactive is also an awesome site for reading AND spelling fun and interactive books, as well as printable activities.  Spelling City is another site for learning to spell as well as games to reinforce what you are learning to spell.  Speaking of Spelling City, if you use AVKO’s Sequential Spelling books, you should know that AVKO's spelling lists are on the Spelling City page!  (For those of you who don’t know about AVKO, I highly suggest that you watch the video demonstrations on their website.  This educational research foundation was founded by dyslexic Don McCabe, so their materials are especially helpful for others with dyslexia, but they are for everyone learning and/or struggling to learn to spell and read!)
Well, now you have a taste of the free and valuable resources bookmarked in my Language Arts bookmark (or favorites) folder.  I’ll try to give you more to “chew on” later.
God Bless!
1-1-2007 12-08-11 AM_0117 Hubby and the kids pretending to be run over by a train rendered stationary long ago.  Fun, fun ;)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall Is Coming

The official first day of fall is September 22nd this year.  That’s just three short weeks from today, and I am ready!  Fall is my one of my two favorite seasons of the year, and Spring is the other.  I love the mild weather, and the crisp cool nights.  I love hay rides, and campfires, and apple cider, and pumpkin pies with lots of whipped cream (the real stuff!) on top.  (My hubby and older son make the absolute BEST pumpkin pies, by the way!)
Now this year school began “before the rush” for us, so we are actually already into our third week of school, but many of you are just starting or preparing to start.  That’s fine.  So other than curriculum, what’s a home school mom to do to fully enjoy this glorious season with her kids? 
We love nature walks!  It’s funny how obvious this should be as a learning opportunity, but even the things that should be obvious get past us from time to time.  It took me awhile to realize how much fun AND educational this could be.  I mean, like duh, and I live in an area of BEAUTIFUL fall foliage and beauty.  What a wealth of opportunity!  So here’s the next question.  Is a nature walk just a walk?  Not if you check out Journey North Kids
Journey North “is a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change” according their parent site for older children and adults.  That’s the official description of what they do, but there is so much fun to be had here!  This site is full of information about different migrating animals, and even the areas that they migrate to.  There are slideshows about the animals and people around them, printable photo rich books, videos, other teaching resources, and more. 
Also, right now they are asking for people to submit signs of Fall and Fall migration sightings, such as sightings of the Monarch Butterflies that are journeying south to Mexico for the winter.  After you submit sightings, you can look at the interactive map to see what others are observing!  The coming days would be a wonderful time for a nature walk, but take note of the signs of Fall all around you, and maybe you can have your own observation on the map ;)
P. S. And if you act fast you can also send a symbolic paper Monarch to Mexico to help them educate our kids, and kids in Mexico, about caring for the Monarchs as they migrate!  Hurry!  The butterflies for the Symbolic Migration need to be postmarked before October 12th!