Give-Away #1 for December

Give-Away #1!

There is joy in giving! I am blessed this year to be able to give back which after the past few years of needing help; really warms my heart.

Did you catch my last post on Beginning the Homeschooling Journey?

I am giving away 2 copies of How to Homeschool with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus. 

For U.S residents only! Sorry I can not afford international shipping.

[Read more…]

Beginning the Homeschool Journey

Beginning the Homeschool Journey

I was talking with some veteran homeschool moms about the early days of our homeschooling journey. Since we began the homeschool journey before the internet and Pinterest my biggest struggle was how to actually homeschool.

Looking back, I remember talking with a friend who had been homeschooling for the past several years and begging her to just tell me what to buy to teach my kid. She was wise to not answer but did offer some vague guidance on how to make it work at my house. She knew then what I did not, that every homeschool looks different and every kid has different needs.

In my early days I was a solid oak tree. We had a schedule that we followed. Even to this day my kids stop at 3:00pm for a snack.

We had curriculum that we followed every word. It did not matter if my kids had mastered or needed more practice; we followed the pace of the curriculum because surely they knew better with how much work should be accomplished each day.

My mighty oak days did not offer much grace, my mighty oak days did not allow for flexibility. My mighty oak days fed my need to be in control of everything. My mighty oak days required much of my strength to keep things under control.

Then life brought me 4 children, 2 with health and learning issues, a sick husband, and the normal challenges of life and the time had come for me to either bend like a willow tree or break under the pressure.

Overtime I learned to bend, I let go of my expectations and I allowed grace to enter.

Beginning the homeschool journey I had no idea of how much it would change and challenge me. I thought it was all about providing my kids with an excellent education.

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The Why of Attending School

The Why of Attending School

Have you ever asked your kids why they are in school? My oldest two children can clearly articulate why they are attending school. They desire to learn the knowledge they need to enter into the job market to become a meteorologist and a pastry chef.

They have known since middle school what they wanted to study in high school and college. Next month my oldest graduates college with his degree in Geography with emphasis on GIS and Atmospheric Science! (Insert grad photo)

But just two months into this school year I realized my third child felt that school was an unnecessary event for his life. He did not have a why other then it was what his siblings had done.

Around the water cooler at the office we discussed the why. For some school was a place to be able to compare yourself to others and know how smart you were or weren’t. For others it was a place to just conquer test taking. Most of us enjoyed the social hangout.

I began having discussions with my son on how subjects and situations could provide opportunities to practice skills he would need in adulthood. That he had the safety net of still living at home while practicing these skills. This was his time to try new things and explore his gifts.

I assigned him the writing assignment of What is Your Why for attending School. Now this assignment came a few days after discovering he had been skipping his online classes and was ready to quit school.

Maybe discovering this why will renew in my son his comminement to finishing school. Maybe it will give him the courage to find his gifts and stop comparing himself to his older siblings.

Why my son was wrestling with his why for finishing high school my youngest found himself questioning his why for starting high school. Yes he said he goes to school because I make him.

Discussion of Why of Attending School

Tonight at the dinner table ask your kids why do they attend school. Depending on the ages of your kids you might get some really creative answers. You might also discover that it becomes an opportunity to explain the bigger picture of attending school.

Hopefully you don’t get caught in the how adults never use Algebra after high school but maybe you can talk thought that even if they hate math that does not mean everything about high school stinks.

Maybe you can open the lines of communication on what your kids find important to learn from their perspective. I know I failed a little with hearing what my son was struggling with and what he needed to succeed in high school.

[Read more…]

Black Friday Specials From My Favorites

Bright Ideas Press

This is a great time to start a folderbook or get a jump start on planning the next school year! 

This four day event begins 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday, November 24, 2017 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Cyber Monday, November 27, 2017. (All times are EST.)

No coupon code will be needed for this sale, and other coupons can not be used in conjunction with this sale at Bright Ideas Press.

15% of all sales at Bright Ideas Press and The Academy from Black Friday through Cyber Monday 2017 will be donated to Compassion International.

[Read more…]

Overwhelmed Mom Gift Guide

Overwhelmed Mom Gift Guide

Agnes misses her days of having time to read The Complete Works of Jane Austen while lounging on her hammock, instead she pours her heart into serving her family and friends. She often gets overwhelmed juggling the demands of her responsibilities.

Maybe you know Agnes? Maybe you want to give Agnes a gift to encourage her. If you text or talk with her try to listen to what she is struggling with or missing from her life. Those can be great ideas for gifts.

Decision fatigue can make meal planning hard. Maybe you could send Agnes a gift card to a local restaurant. If you are resourceful you could gift her with 5 freezer meals and a menu.

When Agnes is overwhelmed with paying bills even a gift card to the local grocery story is a blessing. It can even free up some funds for Agnes to buy her own kids some presents.

Agnes might never find the time for a pedicure but your offer of watching the kids could help her find a moment to be still.

Once Agnes organized an afternoon of watching about 20 kids for a few friends. There were given the gift of time and Agnes kept the kids busy making crafts for the local nursing home. Agnes loves to serve even in the chaos.

Agnes loves the Hope Deck Cards that she can send to her friends this season. Giving a set of cards can bless the giver and the receiver. She might keep a few in a picture frame for the loving reminder they provide.

Agnes has full responsibility of car and home maintenance. A gift certificate for an oil change or furnace service would help remind her of those tasks. Often she forgets these things.

Finding a handyman to help Agnes fix the few broken items around the home that just have not made it to the to do list would be a weight off her mind. She has not had time to read Home Maintenance for Dummies

Imaginably that handyman could install a hand held massage shower head for those moments when she hides in the bathroom. Perhaps just gift her with bath bombs to remind her the tub can be more than an item that needs cleaning.

If you know a tech enthusiasts hire them to offer Agnes tech support with her electronic devices. She might not even be aware her router is outdated.

She may have no idea there are apps like Upkeep to help her manage house chores. Maybe a tile for all the times she loses her phone or keys. [Read more…]

Coffee for Breakfast for the Busy Mom

Coffee for Breakfast for the

Busy Mom

Coffee for Breakfast

In my battle of juggling things I have stumbled upon a breakfast situation that works for all my food and time issues. Coffee for breakfast that is gluten free, dairy free and has protein.

Anytime you find a solution to a problem you share just in case there is one other person in the world that could benefit.

If this is not you just laugh at how I start my day.

Coffee for Breakfast


I add the coffee to my Ninja Coffee Maker and set it on cup and specialty brew.

While the coffee is brewing I add one cup of Almond milk to a small sauce pan on the stove. I put the stove on medium heat.

I add one cube of pumpkin puree to the milk. I let the pumpkin defrost and stir.

Once the pumpkin is almost melted I add 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 2 tablespoons of the unflavored protein powder. At first I also added 1 tablespoon of sugar but I am trying to cut back on sugar so adjust the sweetness as needed.

I stir until almost to a boil and then I remove from the heat and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

My coffee is done by this point and I pour the milk mixture into my cup and stir.

Now my coffee for breakfast has a little more kick to get me through the morning.

Then I find an email in my in box telling me The Power of Pumpkin in Your Diet! Score!

*I take one small can of the pumpkin puree and freeze in a ice cube tray. One can fills one ice cube tray. After 24 hours I pop out the pumpkin cubes and store in a freezer bag.

Now that coffee is made you can take 5 minutes and watch my recent Facebook live video on Why Friends are Cheaper Than Therapy.

100 Reasons To Keep Homeschooling Through Difficulties

Homeschooling Through Difficulties

Finishing up my 17th year of homeschooling and I am thankful that I continued to homeschool, even through some really difficult situations. Then it took so long to write this post that now it is the season for preparing for the next year…bring on number 18!

Often those situations seem so much larger in the moment then I remember them. Yet even today I am struggling to help my sons finish their school assignments for this week.

Sometimes I write blog posts or create memes to remind myself why I keep pushing to finish this journey of homeschooling my children.

Because even in the ugly, horrible, and difficult circumstances that life sometimes drops into my life, my children have still been able to receive the education that they need.

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Illness

  1. Read a book like Lost and Found
  2. Practice receiving help
  3. Follow these 12 Practice Tips for Homeschooling Through a Short Term Crisis 
  4. Take a moment and examine your expectations.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if you normally serve a hot meal in the morning and breakfast has become cold cereal for 2 weeks.
  6. Sometimes the lesson for your kids is them learning how to run the house and not completing another math lesson.
  7. Buy paper products and forget about doing the dishes.
  8. Compassion, perseverance, and humility are often best learned in a practical situation.
  9. 10 Tips for Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness because sometimes the illness is chronic.
  10. Homeschooling Through a Chronic Illness states that you need to be willing to accept a new normal.

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Grief

  1. Grief and Joy combined, it is okay to laugh and cry during the same moment.
  2. Homeschooling Through Grief, remember to take frequent breaks.
  3. How the Challenge of Love is Grief, copy down a scripture verse and tape it to the bathroom mirror.
  4. Sometimes choosing to do things in small amounts helps build momentum and even in your grief it is ok to smile, How Homeschooling Actually Saved Me From Depression.
  5. Homeschooling Through Grief can be done, don’t expect a cookie cutter appoach to work.

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Tough Times

  1. How to Homeschool Through Tough Times, remember to be flexible.
  2. 4 Lessons I’ve learned Homeschooling Through Hard Times, kids still learn even despite the difficult moment.
  3. Listen to others who have experienced similar situations, Homeschooling Through Hard Times.
  4. Homeschooling When the Schedule is Disrupted, flexibility is a skill to practice.
  5. Homeschooling Through Trying Times, remember to be gentle with yourself.
  6. Homeschooling When Life Gets Hard, family comes first.
  7. 5 Reasons Why We Continued to Homeschool, you get to set the pace
  8. 8 Tips to Help Your Homeschool Thrive Through Hard Times, remember to relax.
  9. Does Your Homeschool Need a Grace Year? yes, always add more grace.
  10. Keep things simple when Homeschooling Through a Crisis 

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Being Overwhelmed

  1. Embracing Overwhelm
  2. Battling the fear of failing 
  3. Take a break from the books and plan some fun.
  4. Maybe you just need to take a Homeschool Sabbatical.
  5. Don’t forget to adjust the homeschool plans to better serve your kids.
  6. Teach Science in the summer instead of squeezing it into an already busy school year.
  7. Create Margin
  8. Take a Moment to say a Homeschool Prayer
  9. Remember that God does provide and when He does, take a photo of the provision.
  10. Accepting Limits, Balancing Homeschool, and Work

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Depression [Read more…]

The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting

The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting

Would you like to use The Mystery of History in a co-op setting? Since the book is intentionally adaptable to teaching multiple ages, you will find many ways to plan lessons for your co-op.

The following ideas and questions will help you think through what you want to cover in your co-op class. Once you have decided what to cover, then you can decide whether a co-op license or co-op discount will work best.

Ideas for Teaching The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting:

  • What is the goal for the co-op class?
  • Will it just be simply delivering the lesson content or will you keep grades?
  • Will it be project based, group activities, or individual activities?
  • Will you present all the information or require students to come to class having read the lesson?
  • Do you want to include supplements like coloring pages or notebook pages?
  • Are you going to include extra resources?
  • Include extra literature assignments?
  • How much time do you have to teach?
  • What ages are you teaching?

For example, if you have 1 hour to teach 1st to 4th grade students and your goal is to supplement lessons taught at home, your schedule could include:

  • Go over the highlights of the lessons by doing a group review
  • Select one or two activities from the week to complete
  • Bring in an extra resource like a YouTube video or book
  • Wrap up class by doing map work or a timeline.

Another example, if you have 2 hours to teach 5th to 8th grade and you are not requiring students to do any work outside of class, your schedule could include:

  • Go over the pretest orally, then present the lesson information while students take notes on the notebooking pages
  • Ask follow-up questions or allow kids to offer narration of the material
  • Complete a few activities from the book, and if questions are research based assign them the week before so students can share their thoughts.
  • End class with the wrap activity or quiz

Co-op License or Co-op Discount:

Do you need a co-op license or a co-op discount? The size of your co-op and what you want to teach in co-op will determine which works best.

If you want every student to have their own copy of the book or material, a co-op discount would work best. The co-op discount gives you 30% off an order of 6 or more copies. The teacher can make copies without a license since each family has the material already.

If you are not requiring students to own the material, a co-op license gives the teacher privileges to copy material for students. Each co-op license is for 25 students and includes one copy of the material. If the material is a download, the co-op license is for the teacher only. The download should not be shared with the families.


Number crunching scenarios with co-op license and co-op discount.

Keep in mind that you can buy a co-op license just for the Companion Guide. If you present the material from the lessons and just want to copy pre-test, quizzes, and map work then a co-op license for the Companion Guide would be the best price.

A co-op license on The Mystery of History Volume 1 book would cost: $124.87. Keep in mind you will have to make copies of the book.

A co-op license on The Mystery of History Volume 1 Companion Guide would cost: $62.38. This product contains everything but the lessons.

The website will automatically apply the co-op discount when you select a quantity of six or more. Then you can look at shipping costs. While the website will allow for Media Mail know that large boxes move slower in shipping and have a higher chance of damage.

Tracking Forms for The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting:

To help make that job easier I created a form, Co-op Tracking Expenses * to help you keep track of who has paid. Could be used for supplies for the class, splitting up the cost of the license, or paying for the group book order. 

* indicates required 


After you have decided what you are teaching, then you just need to gather money from parents to cover the costs of materials.

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Lesson Plan For Homeschool Mom Sick Day

Homeschool Mom Sick Day

Even if you are a veteran homeschooler or a newbie, having a plan for those days when you are too ill to accomplish the lesson plans will serve you well in those hours of needing rest.

First start a Pinterest board of ideas, or a note in Evernote, or a word doc on ideas and links. This way you can make decisions now while your head is not exhausted from being sick.

The Goal is Have a Plan for Homeschool Mom Sick Day!

Homeschool Mom Sick Day Online Ideas

  • iHN has a monthly thread of Famous Birthday Lessons and Unit Studies. Print out a few copies of this notebook page, Famous Birthday PDF, and have your students select a famous person to learn more about.
  • Maybe just giving them time on their iPad on PBS to play games will be all it takes for some time for a nap.
  • Khan Academy is a favorite at my house for learning how to do things. Let your kids have fun with Hour of Code.

Homeschool Mom Sick Day Project Ideas

  • Have your kids follow directions to Build Your Own Board Game. My kids really enjoy making board games. They still talk about the Health Matters DIY Science Board Game they created. (PS order supplies early if you want to provide some extra direction.)
  • If you get really desperate for an activity and have a bar of ivory soap give your kids the link to this post on Ivory Soap Experiment.
  • Have them Design Their Own Colony. They might enjoy establishing their own rules.
  • Even giving your kids all the sheets and blankets in the house to build forts should buy you a few moments of rest. My boys enjoyed building a Hooverville Fort in their bedroom one afternoon. The idea came from The Great Depression Hands-on Activities.
  • Sometimes just having a box of tape, paper, string, and random supplies can allow kids an opportunity to create a new invention. Maybe even challenge them to build something that will keep an egg from breaking when dropped from different heights.

Homeschool Mom Sick Day Movie and Book Ideas

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Saving Money on Groceries Starts in the Kitchen

The great thing about raising lifelong learners is the chance to role rodel lifelong learning! Here is a copy of a 5 minute speech I had to give for a class I took on becoming a better communicator. I also get to role model doing hard things, public speaking still makes my stomach go into knots.

Saving money on groceries starts in the kitchen!

With the average family of 4 spending $12,000 a year on groceries this becomes a popular area to try and cut spending. The interesting thing about that amount of money, around $1500 goes toward wasted food.

That’s right money spent on food that is never eaten or enjoyed. The food ends up in the trashcan.

We do not even have to leave our house to save money on groceries. No need to cut coupons or read about the psychology of shopping. Just take an honest look at the amount of food you throw away each week.

I believe every mom can save money on groceries by conquering food waste.

I have 3 concepts that can help conquer food waste:

  • Serving
  • Selecting
  • Supervising

The first concept that can help conquer food waste is serving sizes.

For adults having an understanding for portion sizes. Spend a week reading the labels and get an understanding for portion sizes.

For parents of small children serve them just 3 bites of dinner. Children under the age of 5 have this amazing ability to only eat 3 bites of a meal one day and then eat an entire adult serving the next day.

When my children were young I often only served half of a sandwich at lunchtime or 3 bites of a meal at dinnertime.

I wanted my children to learn to ask for more when they were still hungry rather then learn it was ok to throw food away.

The second concept that can help conquer food waste is selecting recipes that contain similar ingredients. Keep your recipes simple.

I love looking on Pinterest for new recipes. But it can break the budget trying a recipe with a lot of ingredients. For example I avoid recipes that use 1 tablespoon of tomato paste because unless you have a plan to use the rest of the can of paste you will find yourself 2 weeks later throwing the tomato paste in the trashcan.

The great thing about cooking is you can have a little less or a little extra of an ingredient and the recipe will still turn out fine.

Trying meal planning where you can use ingredients twice in the same week or you can double the recipe to help use up all of an ingredient. [Read more…]