Unexpected Side of Homeschooling

Unexpected Side of Homeschooling…have you ever experienced it?

*Warning…Reading this could cause you to second-guess unit studies…Continue at your own risk.

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the mixing of everyday life with school lessons.

Unexpected Side of Homeschooling

When you are on vacation and your mom mentions in a casual conversation that the near-by lake at one time was the largest man made lake. The homeschool mom in you jumps at the chance to tie in your current geography lesson. In 20 minutes you and the kids begin exploring the lake and discussing your World Fact File with North Star Geography.

Oh the amazing way working allows your son to form a relationship with the Postmaster at the local post office.  My son often accompanies me when I need to mail packages for work. When Batman stamps came out she made special arrangements to get him a sheet. Of course he had to write a thank you letter for his first writing assignment for the new school year.

But there can be an unexpected side of homeschooling; an eerie side to the unit studies.

Circumstances that make you nervous about what subject to teach next. Might even cause your husband to ask that you strongly consider how the next study will affect life at your house.

When you study electricity and your washing machine has an electrical short and catches on fire. Then you try to move the washer outside and water from the drum dumps on the floor. Now you can discuss how water conducts electricity.  Once the machine is outside you have a great opportunity to show a burned circuit board and a chance to take apart the washing machine. [Read more…]

Giveaway! Thank you

If you are like me you have already started thinking about the busy fall schedule. Since most of us have just survived back to school we might be dragging a little on planning ahead.
I thought it would be a great idea to join ranks with a group of bloggers to provide a chance for two winners to receive a new iPad mini. Use it for school, use it to plan for the holidays or give it has a gift to someone at Christmas.
Thank you for stopping by my little place on the web. It brings me joy to be able to share my homeschooling adventures with you.
The giveaway runs from September 27th through October 11th. 
Please comment to enter and use additional entries to increase your chances of winning!
The Necessary Giveaway Disclosure: No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the United States and Canada, who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry. Void in Puerto Rico and all other U.S. territories and wherever prohibited by law.  Subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Decisions of Sponsor are final on all matters pertaining to Sweepstakes. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and decisions of Sponsor. Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or in association with, Facebook or Twitter. Entrants are providing their information to Sponsor and not to Facebook or Twitter. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or in association with, Apple. The information entrants provide to Sponsor will only be used to select a winner for this promotion and to receive future promotional emails from Sponsor. Entrants may opt out from receiving those emails from Sponsor at any time.

Accepting Limits, Balancing Home and Work


The day I realized I really didn’t have it all together...was the day I knew I needed to start accepting limits…really my body and mind was going to force me to accept them. I signed up to work full-time for the month of August while getting things together to start our homeschooling.

Accepting Limits, How I recovered from a meltdown.

Actually the day started more with a huge meltdown…I could no longer make decisions, even simple decisions. I had Decision Fatigue…and I am sure I had it before but stubbornness kept me from noticing. Physically my exhaustion had taken a toll on my body and mind. Then I started feeling sorry for myself because I could not go hang out at the pool every afternoon with my friends. Hello huge cloud of depression hanging over me.

In my mind I was never going to let working affect how I homeschooled. I never wanted to become the carpenter whose house has undone projects, or the hairdresser whose family needs haircuts for weeks. I was confident I could work full time and homeschool full time when the time came to make the transition. I have been juggling part-time work for a few years. Instead of accepting limits I would clock 13 hours before and after a day off to take my kids on a field trip. 

The back story, the one I do not share often, my husband was diagnosed a few years ago with COPD. I have watched it affect his quality of life. When you limit oxygen to the body it affects your energy level and brain clarity. We have to limit activities because if his body gets tired he becomes more prone to getting sick, which then makes breathing even harder.  When he can not breathe then he gets more confused. 

In less than two years I will transition to full-time work since my husband will retire early due to health reasons. Yes I will still have 2 boys at home who need to finish their homeschooling and 2 young adults in college.

Now you know the highlights of how I found myself crying in my bed one morning declaring…I WAS DONE. Honestly at the moment I did not know what I was done with…just that I wanted to be removed from all situations. [Read more…]

Blessings of Including a New Homeschooling Family


Yes I am beginning my 16th year of homeschooling. Honestly we have a school routine, we know what activities the kids want, and what school books work at our house. How quickly I check the box on what needs to be done and move forward with the old established routine.

The downside to that established routine…doesn’t leave room for anything new…including interacting with a new homeschooling family.

Including a New Homeschooling Family

Okay I am going to publicly declare that I am veteran homeschooling momma even though I am pretty sure my oldest was just in Kindergarten not that long ago. Oh the denial of becoming the older woman. 

Since this school year I am reaping the benefits of having a brand new homeschooling family in my life…I wanted to share them with you. [Read more…]

Fun Homeschooling? Are you planning for it?

Fun Homeschooling

I can hear the printers around the world chugging out new printables for the coming homeschool year.

I have fielded many phone calls from homeschooling mommas overwhelmed with getting decisions made and subjects planned. Can you relate?

How many questions have you asked or answered about which curriculum do you use or which extra activities are you going to complete?

I want to know who is talking about plans for fun homeschooling. If you are talking about it…what have you found?

Being intentional about fun homeschooling:

Every year there are a few subjects that bring my children dragging their feet to lessons. Ok not a few subjects…every year it is writing and math. My kids just would do anything to avoid them. [Read more…]

Online Homeschool Planner for High School

Online homeschool planner

It is my daughter’s senior year of high school and the time has come for her to take responsibility for her own planner. Knowing this goal was on the horizon I was comfortable with accepting a subscription to the online homeschool planner, the Homeschool Planet; in exchange for my personal opinion of this product.

Now my biggest challenge is bridging the gap between a paper planner and a non-paper planner.

I need my daughter to keep track of her own assignments and hold her accountable to her school lessons.

Setting Up The Online Homeschool Planner:

The moment I opened the software I had a feel for how things worked. Every blogger is familiar with a widget. My favorite widget allows me to send a text message to my daughter’s phone without leaving the software. I created a mini summer schedule to get a feel for how things worked.

I had my daughter log into the program. I pointed out where to change the background. I am not the pink music instrument kind of blogger.

Then I gave her the choice of setting up her school year. She chose her start date and which days she would be off for the holidays. Her end date of school is set by her umbrella group and since she is a senior it is in May this year. This does not leave us a lot of wiggle room for completing 180 days. Which makes it even more important that she stay on task for completing her assignments.

Her biggest rookie mistake with the online homeschool planner was forgetting to click the save button. She shut the laptop and thought she was done.

Then with a pile of her school books next to the laptop, she went through each subject and decided which days she would complete her lessons. Over the school year she will reschedule as she completes her lessons. She had no problem following the prompts to enter the information.

The great thing…she will be able to see how any reschedules will affect getting everything done by May 17. [Read more…]

Teenagers and Chores, Downside to Chore Charts

teenagers and chores

I have a house full of teenagers and chores that need to be completed. Since I have been a mom for 19 years, I have used an amazing amount of chore systems and chore charts. Routinely I would change systems just to keep things looking different for my kids.

Last month I realized the disservice I had established in my kids…they did what was on the chart and nothing more. They could ignore the bag of trash that blew into the yard, they did not care if the corner of the living room became overrun with clutter or if anyone around them needed help. It was not on their list.

I know…some moms would be jumping up for joy if their teens did the chores they were asked. This is so much more than chores…this is teaching my kids to notice what needs to be done, prioritizing the chores, and serving others.

My kids have become accustomed to mom writing a list and mom deciding what needs to be done. I called a family meeting and explained there was a new cleaning system effective immediately.

New System for Teenagers and Chores:

  • There are no more chore charts or lists coming from mom.
  • Teenagers must decide what 3 things they will clean each day.
  • On Friday a written list of what was accomplished each day must be submitted to mom.
  • A fun reward will be given to those who have done their tasks.
  • Failure to complete daily chores results in spending time on Saturday catching-up.

Of course 1,000 questions were launched at me…my teenages thought I had finally gone crazy.

I did state that personal laundry and dishes did not count. These already had systems in place and needed to be done regularly. Otherwise a fight would break out on Friday morning with 5 people trying to use the washing machine.

The lawyer of the group immediately wanted to know if he could do the same 3 chores each day. No, some chores only need to be done weekly, your list should reflect that. 

What if I can not find 3 things to do? I would encourage you to ask mom, dad, or a sibling if they need help. Helping counts as a chore. 

What if I forget to do my 3 chores? Ideally 3 a day is best, but I know there will be times when things need to be adjusted. I need 15 completed by Friday, but I warn you trying to complete 15 on Friday might be overwhelming. 

Things I have noticed with my teenagers and chores after one week of new system:

  • My teens began tackling jobs I would never have assigned them. I came in one morning and my son had emptied the tupperware cabinet and was matching up lids with containers.
  • I invented the saying, when in doubt, look around and find something extra to do. One of my sons wanted to discuss if each item on his list counted and could something be counted twice. If this counted twice then he was done for the day. He really wanted a list of acceptable chores and I wanted him to decide what was important. We are working toward him being confident in his choices.
  • My youngest son with Aspergers has learned to ask his siblings if he can help them. Bonus: he is learning to work with others which is a bigger accomplishment for him.
  • My daughter hung my clothes on the line and has asked me for help on a regular occasion.

Now what to do with the time I spent on creating and maintaining chore charts. 

Do you have any great tips on helping teens complete chores?

Birthday Party Ideas for Book Lovers

Birthday Party Ideas for Book Lovers

Things are definitely different when you are planning a teenager’s birthday party. The first thing I did was create a Pinterest board titled “Birthday Party Ideas for Book Lovers” and invited my teen to pin her likes and ideas.

Having shared her birthday parties with her other 2 siblings for the past 15 years, my daughter had huge plans for a Sweet 16 Party. In my defense when you have 3 children with birthdays only 22 days apart…it’s almost impossible to do 3 separate parties.

Birthday Party Ideas for Book Lovers: Decorations

  • Each table represented one of her favorite author’s. She included her stack of books by the author and a favorite quote. We placed the quotes in picture frames.
  • She did take a page from a book and cut a heart out and glued to a root beer bottle to hold flowers.
  • The photographer in me wanted photos of everyone in attendance. We did splurge and buy a backdrop and props from Oriental Trading. If you do buy a backdrop from them, buy one that is patterned and doesn’t have to match. It comes in folded plastic sheets and can be difficult to look nice. The props really helped with creating some fun photos.

Birthday Party Ideas for Book Lovers: Food

  • Yes the cupcakes had mini books on top of them.
  • Other than themed cupcakes the rest of the food was standard party snacks. I thought about giving them creative names but ran out of time.
  • Bookworm Party Goody Bags I created this PDF so I could share the top of the goody bag I created for the book lovers party. We took the clear candy bags and added gummy worms. Then folded the cardstock in half and stapled to the bag.

book worm
Birthday Party Ideas for Book Lovers: Games and Crafts

  • Originally I wanted to create a Jeopardy style game on questions about each of her favorite authors but I ran out of brain power. Instead I wrote down 20 book titles on slips of paper to play Literature Pictionary.
  • I found some great free bookmark designs on the web. I printed them on cardstock and supplied things to decorate with.
  • For the higher level crafter, book earrings were popular.
  • I had some old library cards that I asked people to write notes of encouragement. These are now a lovely keepsake from the party.

Yeah! For Sweet 16 birthday memories.

Two Becomes One, A Twenty Year Journey

two becomes one

It’s a special week at my house, my husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary on the 20th of May.

I have never written about marriage because frankly the “D word” has popped up a few times over the years in my marriage.

My struggles have me feeling so inadequate about sharing any great advice on marriage.

But I have one thought about being married for 20 years…there is an amazing journey in “two becomes one.”

I remember in our first year of marriage we were so focused on the physical aspect of two becomes one…ah young love.

But all that “oneness” brought along children and soon “two becomes one” was a necessity for survival. We quickly became outnumbered! We had to be a united front in parenting.

Now there is an almost 20 year age difference in our relationship which has brought about a new aspect in “two becomes one.”

A few years ago my husband was diagnosed with COPD. I almost think a chronic diagnosis should trigger marriage counseling because there is a mourning when losing your health.

Now we have two people affected by one diagnosis. Two people facing different struggles from one disease. Two people scared about becoming just one.

Recently mild dementia has sprung up in our marriage. The brain likes a steady level of oxygen and does not work well on a reduced amount.

It reminds me of a funny skit I saw about two becomes one is for growing old: when one of you will remember where the car keys are…one of you will be able to open the pickle jar…and one of you will be able to hear the phone ring.

Over the past year I have had to turn to another page and focus on the cord of three strands.  My husband struggles with feeling he is not worthy of love if he can not contribute to the family. I struggle with thinking I am alone and overwhelmed with taking care of everything.

Honestly these thoughts sneak in when we take our eyes off the one who created us…our identity in Christ…so important.

It has been good to look back…looking forward scares me…most days I do not have the strength…I only have the strength for today…for that I am thankful.

Twenty years ago on the Twenty of May with a Twenty year age difference…Two became One.

Happy Anniversary to the man who I will remind that he can forget anything but my name…and I will every few days ask him and sometimes I get back some creative responses…because you still have to laugh along the way.


Happy Mother’s Day

Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

Last week I met with a friend and while I was sharing some deep struggles in the middle of my thought she said, “you are making the best choices you can with this situation. You are doing a good job.”

I just wanted to burst into tears…it had been months since anyone had told me I was handling anything well. Can I just say it was such sweet balm to my soul.

Most days I deal with thoughts of falling short, thoughts of inadequacy, and thoughts of being overwhelmed. How many times had I been approached with your son did this, or your daughter needs this, or could not fall asleep at night knowing I had missed opportunities or lost my temper.

I am a mother, a mother of teenagers, a mother of special needs, a working mother, and a homeschool mother. Whatever adjective you place in front of mother…we could all use some words of encouragement in this role of motherhood.

So how about this week before Mother’s Day we could take a moment and express an encouraging thought to another mother. If you want to get fancy and send a card or meet for coffee, great…but the simple sentence of “you are doing a great job of being a mom” might be the best thing a mother has heard all day, week or month.

While I am not a deep emotional writer on the subject of motherhood, I am still shocked with how moved I was when my friend told me I was doing a good job. It’s been two weeks and I am still clinging to those words.

Of course a face to face exchange would be the best choice but I know that time with other moms can be limited, sometimes sending that text or email might be the best dose of encouragement!

Join me in telling another mom this week they are doing a great job being a mom.