Brave movie: My last homeschool field trip with Leah

Merida with bow and arrow, Brave movie

“If you had a chance to change your fate, would you?” – Merida, Brave movie

Yesterday I was wracking my brain, trying to think of something FUN that Leah and I could do for a field trip for her last homeschool day before she graduates tonight. I had googled Missouri, Kansas, homeschool field trips, events, you name it. We’ve been to so many places in Kansas City NUMEROUS times, such as the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, the Kansas City Zoo, Science City, Union Station, Powell Gardens, etc.

What could we do that was different and which would make Leah smile big and have a sweet good memory of our last day homeschooling? I wanted to end homeschooling on a great note. Then the idea came to me: go to the animated Brave movie and then eat lunch out afterward!

It was God-inspired.

Excellent movie! I highly recommend it. And Leah really liked it. The story is of a girl with flowing red hair on the thresh of womanhood named Merida, who is a Scottish princess and an aspiring, skilled archer. She protests against the expectations of royalty’s tradition (marrying a suitable lord after a sports competition for her hand),

Merida makes a reckless, foolish choice to try to change her mother the queen (who has been training and preparing her for years to be a “proper” princess and for marriage), and her rash decision results in chaos and near destruction of the kingdom.

I loved red-haired, high-spirited Merida, her big black horse, the beautiful scenery in Scotland, the Scottish music, the spiritual symbollism of archery (prayer, intercession, prophecy), the humor, and the realistic story of a relationship between a girl and her mother. The movie is about the importance of family and of a young woman creating her own destiny, which I felt was an appropriate theme for Leah’s graduation tonight.

Leah is a lot like Merida – strong-willed, independent, passionate. I laughed at the frown on Merida’s face when her mother would say things like, “A lady does not place her weapon on the table” and “Princesses don’t bite into their apples.” Despite my attempts at “training” Leah, she often insists on her way about doing things, choosing a new path.

When the queen helped Merida to dress for the special occasion of the suitors’ games, Merida felt restricted in her tight dress and headdress and she gasped, “I can’t breathe!”  “You look perfect!” the queen said. Seeing her daughter’s discomfort and misery in the dress, she admonished as she left the room, ‘Just remember to smile.”

Tears sprang to my eyes several times during the movie as I recognized Leah and myself in the daughter and the mother characters, as Merida ran her black horse (reminding me of Leah’s horseback riding and horse show winner days), and as she used her gift – her bow and arrow against an enraged black bear (the ancient prince Mor’du).

As I watched Leah smiling at times through the movie, I prayed a prayer of thanks to God for leading us to this movie to close out her homeschool years. I also felt it was prophetic for her life – the bow and arrows, the horse, the blazing of her own trail.

Ride like the wind, Leah. Touch the sky. And remember to smile.

Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one’s destiny intertwines with many others. It’s the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led. – Brave movie (Pixar)

Video of Touch the Sky (Julie Fowlis)

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Leah’s graduating tonight

Leah by fountains at Crown Center, KC

Tonight is our youngest daughter Leah’s high school (homeschool) graduation. I haven’t been blogging lately because I’ve been too busy living life. The last two weeks I’ve been running around like crazy, getting things ready for Leah’s homeschool graduation, which I am so dreading! Everything is almost done now. I’ve missed you, though!

I’m still crying a lot. Yes, STILL. Every time I see school supplies. Yesterday Leah and I went on our last homeschooling week‘s field trip (do you feel my agony from writing that?)  to eat at Fritz’s Restaurant where they deliver your cheeseburgers and fries by a little whistling train and to explore Crown Center in Kansas City.

Leah’s less-than-enthusiastic response to Fritz’s was typical teen disdain: “This is for BABIES, mom!” I wanted to say, ‘You ARE my baby!” but I knew that would go over like a lead balloon and I’d get the rolled eyes, which she has down to an art.  Besides, I liked the little train!

After we ate, we left (without the train engineer paper hat) to walk around Crown Center. When I saw the Crayola Store, I became teary-eyed again. I know, grow up, right?

That’s the problem. Growing up happens way too fast. Why don’t we ever notice while it’s happening?

For so long I’ve had the identity of “homeschool mom”…homeschooling for over 15 years now. How do I suddenly let it go? Or at least it seems sudden.

Yes, I have done other things in life. For the  last 1 1/2 years. I started an online business for my Speaking and Book Writing. (I’ve also been an editor and personal assistant to the CEO of a national organization, a pizza maker making an average of 30 to 60 pizzas on Friday and Saturday nights, a flight attendant, an executive secretary doing transcription/word processing for 7 executives, a waitress many times, a newspaper featured news/police beat reporter, and a J.C. Penny catalog clerk.)

It’s not like I’m an empty-shell person, a non-person, that I’ve stopped existing just because I had children or started homeschooling our kids. I am my own worst enemy my own person, not just wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend.

God wants us to use our gifts for His glory. He doesn’t want us wives and moms to have totally child-centered homes, for our identities to be completely wrapped up in our kids until they leave home. It’s not healthy for our children, our marriages, or ourselves as women.

BUT I LOVE HOMESCHOOLING!

When I shared my feelings with some friends this week, they joked that I could find other children to homeschool. Yes, just go to the mall and ask some random child and her mother if they mind if I take her home and can begin to homeschool her.

One friend of mine admitted she had struggled a lot, too, when homeschooling ended: “Yes, I grieved over leaving homeschooling. I STILL miss it and it’s been several years!! God started planting the seed of leaving it a couple years earlier cause He knew I would have trouble leaving it, too.”

Another friend, who’s been homeschooling for 14 years and still has a 3-year-old whom she intends to homeschool until high school graduation, had a different view about the final homeschool year: “Let’s see, I’ll be 60 years old when I’m done. YEP, I will DEFINITELY be ready to stop by then!”

Seriously, this ache inside me is BIG. What’s a girl to do when she can’t homeschool any more? I LOVE homeschooling. What am I gonna’ do now?

Here’s just a few things I have on my homeschooling-is-forever-over list:

  • Rise up and not regret. Remember and cherish the happy, fun times. Be thankful for the privilege of homeschooling.
  • Keep dreaming big for me, Ray, our kids, and grandkids. Good things are around the corner!
  • Have fun and laugh a lot.
  • Strive to please God (not man) in all I do, say, and think!
  •  Start letting go and watch Leah learn to soar on her own.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Try to make myself believe this list.

As my sister Maria and our daughter Heather told me, it’s not like Leah will stop learning new things just because she’s graduating or we can’t still do fun things. We can still go on fun field trips.

Maybe this is even a brand-new, even funner chapter in our lives.

Just putting the books down and going on a road trip (letting Leah drive, now that she has her driver’s license!)….until the day she drives away, all on her own.

Now I’ve got tears again…  :)

“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” ~ Coco Chanel

Do you have children whom you have homeschooled who graduated or will you be facing it soon? Was/is it hard?

Have you ever gone through a transition time like this where your identity was changing? Please leave your comments below.

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What is success?

high school graduationGraduation is around the corner for many public school and private school students. Originally I was planning to graduate Leah in May or June this year, but after praying and thinking about things lately and talking with Ray, we are postponing her graduation until later this summer.

Of course, Leah isn’t exactly thrilled about this – she doesn’t want to graduate “later” than her public school and private school friends – but I can’t in good conscience graduate her from high school if Ray and I believe she isn’t ready yet. There are some subjects/topics/skills we want her to truly master first before letting her spread her wings to fly and soar. This means college will be postponed, if she decides to attend (she doesn’t know yet if she wants to go. We are praying for God to show her what to do.)

Just a few of the “must master” requirements before Leah graduates are:

  • Passing her drivers’ test and getting her driver’s license (I am hoping this will happen within the next 2 weeks! We have been practicing more this week on parallel parking and right turns!)
  • Reading more classics in literature, such as Dickens, Jane Austen, and Alexandre Dumos
  • More knowledge and understanding of major wars in U.S. History
  • More proficiency in math skills to prepare for the SAT
  • More cooking/baking skills
  • Memorizing Psalm 23, Psalm 91, and the Love chapter
  • Knowing the names of the apostles and women who followed Jesus
  • Knowing some of Jesus’ parables
  • Having a “life verse” and memorizing it
  • Knowing how to fill out a job application and interview well
  • Knowing how to change the oil in the car
  • Knowing how to change a tire on the car
  • Wilderness/Survival Skills.

I made a master checklist, and am checking these off as she demonstrates mastery of them. (Some she already has mastered.) These are a few of the ones that we believe are the most important (other than her relationship with God and improved social skills. Forbes says that outstanding social skills can help with climbing the corporate ladder with great speed.

We want to make sure she is properly prepared to be on her own once she leaves home. Above all, we want her to have a passionate, sincere faith in Jesus Christ, obeying God and doing what He has called her to do and to be. We also want her to be healthy, happy, and successful in whatever she chooses to do.

“Success” is interpreted in different ways by people. From the blog The Life Without School Community, which I just found tonight by my sometimes-friend Google, here’s a list of questions for you and me to ponder as homeschooling parents:

  • What is success?
  • What do children need in order to feel successful?
  • What do children need in order to be successful?
  • Is success a product or a journey? or both?
  • How does one measure success?
  • Can one measure success for another?
  • What does one need to be successful in our society and how does one attain that success?
  • How does one define a successful education and a successful “student?”
  • Is a “good education” necessary for one to be successful?

What would you consider to be “success” for your homeschooled child after she or he reaches adulthood? What would that look like? Please share your comments below.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:2, NASB

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Ducks, The Hunger Games, & Mediterranean Food

baby ducks

Recently I resigned from a work-at-home position as a Blog Editor (editing articles, posting blogs on a WordPress site) and personal assistant, that I had been doing for 9 months, to focus more on Leah’s homeschooling. This is her last year of homeschooling; she will graduate later this summer. I want us to go on fun field trips and short road trips to make sweet good memories this last year.

So this past Friday, Ray, Leah and I had a whole day of fun together. 🙂

I want a duck!

First, we went to the Tractor Supply store to look at the baby ducks and chicks. Our daughter Heather had been there first with her kids and told me about them. I LOVE ducks and have always wanted one as a pet.

Ray teases me that I just want to be Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of the wonderful book Cross Creek, who had ducks on her farm.

Maybe that’s part of it (she was a successful writer, even winning the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Yearling, so emulating her is a good thing), but I also just like ducks. They are SO cute! I love to watch them swim, walk, and hear them quack.

Here are Ray and Leah looking at the baby chicks. Leah and I both thought that the ducks were cuter.

Leah and Ray looking at baby chicks

Ray looked at my smiling, animated face as I took pictures and asked, “Beth, do you want a duck?” They were only $4.99 and if I had said yes, he would have bought me one ~ even several. We live in a rental house and our landlord won’t allow us to have pets, so I had to say no.

“Where would we keep it anyway?” I asked. “We could keep it in the tub right now, but eventually it’s going to get big and outgrow the tub. It would need a pond or a lake to be happy.”

Yet it was tempting…one day I hope to have some ducks!

Next we went to Meadowmere Park in Grandview, MO, that has almost 53 acres and includes an “Enchanted Forest” theme play land for children.

The park was nothing specatcular, but it had a nice walking trail which leads to Longview Lake. The area was scenic and peaceful with tall oak trees, cherry blossom trees, and a winding river.

Ray and Leah walked ahead of me as I snapped pictures. I loved this picture of them walking together on the trail:

Leah and Ray on walking trail

And may the odds be ever in your favor! The Hunger Games

We then drove to Town Center Theatre in Leawood, Kansas, to watch The Hunger Games movie. The Hunger Games is a  young adult novel written by Suzanne Collins, published in September 2008. It is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in  a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem, where the countries of North American once existed. (Resource: Wikipedia)

The Capitol, which is a highly advanced metropolis, holds absolute power over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl, ages 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol, are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. (Resource: Wikipedia)

Ray has read all three of the books in the Trilogy (the other books being Catching Fire and Mockingjay), but Leah and I had not. He couldn’t wait to see the movie. I surprised him by buying tickets online, and then when Heather was at our house telling him she was going to see it, he said, “Yeah, I really want to see it!”

Heather, who knew I’d bought the tickets, smiled at me and I looked at Ray, grinning, and said, ‘You are!”  He then raised an eyebrow and asked, “I am? What do you mean?” Then I told him I’d purchased three tickets for him, me and Leah for Friday afternoon ~ which made him happy. 🙂

The movie is awesome, but does have some scenes of violence (children being killed), which should be considered for younger children or preteens or teens who are sensitive to violent scenes. Ray and Leah both asked me why I wanted to see this movie, since I don’t normally watch anything violent.

Why I loved The Hunger Games movie

The reason why I wanted to see it is because I believe it is symbollic of warriors ~ which we are as believers in Christ. (I wrote a book on women and spiritual warfare which you can buy here.) The main character Katniss, or Kat as she is nicknamed, is skilled with a bow and an arrow, from being forced to hunt for food in the forest for herself and her family to be able to eat.

In Medieval times, when bows and arrows were necessary for warfare, the training required by an archer to use bows and arrows was extremely time consuming. It was necessary for them to become expert marksmen. In Kat’s case, she would need and use these excellent skills to be able to survive. Kat also showed great courage, volunteering as tribute, to replace her younger sister Primrose, who was chosen for the annual Hunger Games.

I felt that Kat represented what God has called me to do – to have courage and to war on my knees in prayer, and to teach my children and grandchildren to do the same. I want prayer to be my legacy.

Oh, the food!

We all loved the movie. Afterward, we went to Mr. Gyros restaurant, where we ate delicious Mediterranean food: chicken kabobs, tzatkiki sauce, pita bread and hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, and baklava – a heavenly dessert.

Chicken kabobs, stuffed grape leaves, tzatkiki sauce

 

baklava

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was delicious and the perfect way to end our day! What a fun, relaxing time.

What do you and your family do for fun? Please share in the comments section below.

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Are you content in all things?

Leah at Harmony Mission (MO), a mission to help Osage Indians

When Leah and I went  on a field trip to the Kemper Contemporary Art Museum in Kansas City, we stopped by the little gift shop before we left to browse. They had pottery, art books, carved statues, and other beautiful things.

Leah and I were looking at the jewelry, when she noticed one with blue stones on top that she admired. I offered to buy it for her and she said no (it was $25, one of the lower priced items).

The clerk raised her eyebrow, and brought out similar rings in different stone colors to see if she liked those better, but Leah liked the first one best. She still said no, though, when I asked if she wanted it again. I asked her several times before we left, just to make sure.

“How did you get one who turned out like that?” the clerk asked me, impressed. “Usually, it’s the other way around, with the teen begging for something and the parent saying no.” I just smiled in response, pondering these things like Mary pondered things in her heart.

Ever since she was a little girl, Leah has never wanted to buy a lot of things. Sometimes I’ve wondered why – is it a self-esteem issue? Does she feel like somehow she doesn’t “deserve” something new, pretty, or that she really wants? But when I’ve prayed about it, I’ve felt like God has shown me that Leah is set apart, and is not a “worldly,” materialistic person like so many people are today- and that He purposely created her that way.

Leah lives simply.  She doesn’t require a lot of material things to be happy. She just wants the love of her parents, family and friends; basic shelter, clothing and food; and a few favorite tech gadgets – her Ipod with her music,  her computer, and her cell phone when she leaves the house.

For entertainment, she loves drawing on her graphic art tablet. She enjoys nature walks and loves animals. Her personality is phlegmatic-melancholy, usually even-keeled and well-balanced.

Leah is not a person of extremes. She doesn’t feel driven to become President of the U.S., conquer the world hunger problem – or to urgently spend her birthday money all in one hour when she hits the jackpot with checks from relatives each year. Instead she saves the money until she sees something she needs or wants.

Unlike most girls her age, she doesn’t live for going shopping for new clothes, shoes, and purses all the time. She’d rather pop some popcorn and sit down to watch a sci-fi movie with Ray.

When she does shop, she doesn’t want to go for hours. She just wants to buy the essentials – no name brand clothing, no bold logos, no bright colors, no shiny pictures on them. Just practical, comfortable clothing that gets the job done – to stay warm or cool!

You won’t find her wearing a bright red Angry Bird or a Gap tshirt…no Kohl’s Candied Ruched Party Dress. Maybe her dress resistance is because when she was a baby, I had her closet full of beautiful, frilly dresses on baby hangers, that I would take great delight in choosing from to dress her in each day – and now she is protesting! 🙂

Seriously, when the clerk asked me this question, I realized I can’t take credit for this wonderful trait in Leah – a child who doesn’t want us to constantly spend money on her (unlike her older sisters, who were that way as teens!).  It’s just a God thing, the way God made Leah.

I’ve seen teens in other families who continually drain their parents’ bank account, acting like spoiled rotten brats, whose parents “owe” them the latest cell phone, Ipad, Jessica Simpson shoes, or new cars.

Sure, Leah enjoys it when we buy her things, and she is thankful for them, but she doesn’t demand them, whine for them, or gripe when we don’t.

Leah - field trip with Ray

Because she is content. What a beautiful place to be.

What about you? Are you content?

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4: 11-13, NLT

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Making room for FUN in your homeschool: Resources

This year has been so busy that I haven’t posted much here, and I apologize. Too busy. I’ve had to slow down and pull back, praying and asking God what to do.

I just resigned this week from a position as blog editor that I’ve had since June of last year, editing articles and blogs and posting them on a WordPress website, because my schedule is too full and I wanted to spend more time with Leah in the next several months before she graduates from our homeschool.

I don’t want to live with the regret that I was “too busy” during Leah’s last year of homeschooling! For too many years, I was just too busy and I’ve had to repent to God for that.

Now I’m planning fun field trips and short road trips with Leah to make good, sweet memories this final year. The thought of her graduation brings tears to my eyes. I want to encourage and exhort you again to make sure that you are spending sufficient time with your child. Live a life of no regrets.

One website I recommend to you which focuses on interest-led learning, and includes great ideas for field trips and traveling, is my friend Christina Pilkington. While our homeschool method hasn’t been “unschooling” like hers, I believe Christina has some wonderful, creative ideas to implement in your homeschool.

Another homeschooling mom I love and who is one of my dearest friends is Kimberly Ehlers. Kimberly’s website is not about homeschooling per se, but she does share some tips if you homeschool and your child has serious or chronic illness. Kim also encourages you to have that close relationship with your child, putting God and family above anything else. (While there, be sure to check out Kimberly’s wonderful products! You will love them!)

You will also love my friend Susan Evan’s blog about hands-on learning in your homeschool.

Be sure to make room for FUN in your homeschool day.

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Our field trip to Kemper Contemporary Art Museum

This week has been fun with a couple of field trips with Leah to the Arabia Steamboat Museum and the Kemper Contemporary Art Museum, both located in Kansas City.

The Arabia was a steamboat which hit an oak tree snag in the Missouri River on September 5, 1856, and sank into the mud. Years later, it was rediscovered by a team of researchers and thousands of items were recovered intact and are now displayed in the museum. The colored glass bottles were the most beautiful items, and I loved the ink wells and writing pens!

At the Kemper Museum, we saw several exhibits which made you wonder: “Why do they call this art?”

For example, I told Leah, who is an incredible artist (all mother’s prejudice aside), that she could EASILY paint this and make loads of money like the artist who painted this one probably did.

A red dot – can you BELIEVE it?

There was also this one, a painting of a man’s head, a butterfly, and a chicken inside of an aquarium filled with water.

I teased Leah that she could also try cutting out colored construction paper shapes and throwing them on a wall, like in this exhibit below. It is called Young Girl Dreaming. I took a pic of it to remind Leah to always keep dreaming – God wants to make her dreams – and yours! – come true!

Leah could also attempt something a little more challenging, such as painting a foreign language and numbers all over the body of a woman, like this one below. Interesting.

The woman’s feet were also intriguing. It looked as if they were covered in mud and blood:

Another painting which was incredible was this oil painting of a woman, which looked more like a photograph. I was amazed at the details to the woman’s mouth, teeth, nose, eyes, eyebrows, ears, and fingers. She looks as if she is made of water. I have the utmost respect for an artist with this kind of talent.

This oil painting of an African American man looked SO real, especially his eyes. A little disconcerting, it felt like he was staring straight at you. Notice the details of his hair, facial features, the clouds in the sky behind him.

Leah’s favorite was of a tree with intense blue colors. The picture doesn’t do it justice – the blue color was SO vibrant. It was beautiful, heavenly.

Of course, my favorite was of a writer. The picture also has my favorite type of dog in it, a white husky, and in the forefront you can see pottery – a blue and white ceramic vase.

Notice how intently the woman is writing, despite everything around her! Love it!

Here Leah is staring at an art exhibit across the room. I think it was the picture of the dog (she loves animals).

The dog picture is just a photograph of a labrador in a dark room. It looks like he’s balancing a blue object on his nose, but it’s just the perspective. This one was called “Parallelogram.” I wonder how much this one brought in for the artist? :O

Really, I am so intrigued by art, because the best I can do drawing is stick figures. I often send long letters to my sister Maria in Georgia, with cartoons of stick figures. (We are both easily entertained.) I’m also fascinated by photography, especially black and white pictures like this one below, of a woman in a hat and coat on the street by a jalopy:

This black and white picture below was also well-done, with a picture of the spray of water in slow motion, hiding the woman’s face. This piece was entitled, “Spit.”

One of the places on my bucket list to visit is New York. A friend of mine who lived in New York laughed when I told her I wanted to go to New York just to see the tall skyscrapers, shop, and buy a hot dog and big pretzel from one of those street vendor carts. Just sayin’! (I also have a HUGE, ridiculous desire to ride a street car in San Francisco!) Here is a beautiful pic of the streets of New York, the city lit up at night in the rain.

For those who desire more color, here’s something very PINK for you:

You can see a man and some cows in this pink picture. The man is on the lower, left-hand side right by the blue water and the cows are in the upper, right-hand corner.

Maybe you are more into birds. This exhibit by Petah Coyne, which is Untitled, uses taxidermy peacocks and taxidermy pheasants. The black “balls” you see on the floor are made of ropes. Other ingredients were: black sand from pig iron casting, Acrylex 234, black paint, cement, chicken wire fencing, wood, gravel, sisal, staging rope, cotton rope, insulated foam sealant, pipe, epoxy, threaded rod, wire, screws, jaw-to-jaw swivels. Sounds like a lot of work for an exhibit!

Our daughter Eden has her own cupcake business, so I thought she’d enjoy this cute, creative painting:

I took this picture below for my mother-in-law, Judy, who loves Elvis.

After we finished touring the museum, we went into the cafe where there was an exhibit of a horse, made from driftwood or tree branches…unique!

One thing I loved about this museum was the word paintings on the walls with creative slogans. This one was my favorite, and the one I want to leave you with today.

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Leah’s senior pictures

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I apologize – just the busyness of homeschooling, cleaning the house, groceries, a new job over the summer editing articles and posting them on the website for the CEO of an organization – an opportunity which fell into my lap, unsolicited by me, in June this year (and for which I’m thankful!).

But this is Leah’s last year of homeschooling (unless we decide to teach her college-level courses, too, which is a possibility), and I want to be sure to keep her homeschooling as my priority and not miss out on any part of her life. She has grown up so fast. In fact, when Heather took her senior pictures recently and emailed them to me, I cried. How could she already be a senior? Where have the years gone? Don’t let them pass you by!

Our daughter Heather did so good taking Leah’s senior pics (she had a beautiful model to work with!) that it’s hard choosing just one. Here are just a few samples of the pics. Which is your favorite? Please leave your comments below.

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill

Leah - Louisburg cider mill - by barn

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community by the "L"

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - by pumpkins

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - on rock

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - by roses

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - by tree

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - smelling roses

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - leaves

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill - trees

Leah - Loch Lloyd Community - rock

Leah - Louisburg Cider Mill- closeup

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When things are hectic homeschooling this year – Selah. Take a pause.

Some homeschoolers “school” all year round, some parents closely follow the public school’s schedule and take a break during the summer months, and other homeschoolers take a break every few months – whenever they want.

We usually begin our homeschool in August or September, and then take breaks during holidays or whenever we’d like as a family. If we feel like going on a field trip somewhere fun, like Savanahland or Union Station in Kansas City like Leah and I did earlier this year, we do!

We will start homeschooling again next week – this time for her senior year of high school! Thinking about that really freaks me out! How did she get this age so fast?

School supplies

Tonight we bought school supplies. There is something about buying school supplies that still excites ME…the promise of a brand new beginning and a learning adventure!

I love the brightly-colored, polka-dot binders, the smell of new crayons, no. 2 pencils freshly sharpened, new black Sharpie pens that write so crisply across a clean, white page, and especially new books to read! I’m not so sure that Leah shares my excitement about school supplies; she was more interested tonight in buying a new purse, wallet, or sunglasses.

Today I received a homeschooling ezine and one of the articles it contained was so amusing,The Homeschooler’s Back to School List. You can read it by clicking here.

In this article, I especially loved these ideas: the bags of chocolate M & M’s just for mom on those days when using M & M’s as motivators don’t work, a copy of the latest homeschool convention on audio including the workshop, Getting It All Accomplished and Keeping Your Sanity, and the spa gift certificates for mom for those hectic days when mom is ready to pull out her hair and scream, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!”

Yes, we do have those long, you’re-getting-on-my-last nerve days as homeschool moms. Days when we say to our husband or sister,”Ok, tell me again, why exactly am I doing this? I could be at Starbucks with a friend!” or “Have I completely ruined my child’s life by homeschooling her (him)?”

But dear friend, it passes so quickly…oh, so quickly! Be sure to slow down this year. Take a pause – Selah, which is an expression in the Bible that occurs 71 times in the Psalms and 3 times in the book of Habakkuk. Its meaning and purpose was obscure, but it might have been a musical notation signifying the end of a phrase, or meant a dramatic pause.

When things are becoming hectic or overwhelming this year, think Selah. Slow down. Breathe. Remember this too shall pass – in the blink of an eye. Savor the moment, yes even those moments when your child is balking at math problems or at having to write an essay, or YOU as the teacher are balking at the math.

Hold the moments so close in your heart, because this moment won’t pass your way again. Your child will grow up and you’ll face an empty nest; homeschooling will come to an end one day. Enjoy your child this year; have lots of fun!

Family Pic of our 3 beautiful daughters and 2 of our grandkids

From left to right: our middle daughter Eden (now living on her own – her son Jacob isn’t in this pic), Kyle’s and our oldest daughter Heather’s girls Annabelle & Violet, our oldest daughter Heather (married, on her own, with the 2 girls), and our youngest daughter Leah, who’s still living at home, homeschooling her senior year this year.

 

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Slow down and enjoy your children and homeschooling!

Leah and her stuffed wolf from the zoo

It’s back to school time for most public and private school children, and many homeschoolers as well.

Last year we took off some extra days for holidays and other events, so Leah’s homeschooling went through some of this summer. Right now she is still on “summer break.”

We will start her homeschooling about the second week of September – her senior year this September 2011. Senior. I can hardly believe it. Where did all those years go?

Blink of an eye doesn’t even describe it. When I now walk through Walmart, CVS, and other stores that sell those brightly colored school supplies, I feel sadness. Leah is our youngest child, and we have always homeschooled her. I can’t imagine NOT homeschooling!

We began homeschooling our oldest daughter Heather when she was in 10th grade and she graduated from our homeschool in 2000, then went on to Youth With A  Mission (YWAM), graduating from missionary training after going on two international missions trips.  She then met and married her husband Kyle and had two beautiful little girls (Annabelle and Violet), and is now a full-time teacher at a preschool.

Our middle daughter Eden is also grown and on her own, and she has an adorable little boy, Jacob. Heather and Eden  have “flown the nest,”  and it won’t be long until Leah does, too.  The thought that, after this year, I will never again buy school supplies makes my heart ache.

Yes, it’s our goal as parents to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and ready them for adulthood, so they will be able to leave. We don’t want 30 and 40 year old children living at home, still depending on dad and mom!  Of course, Leah is only 16 years old, so it’s not like she’s moving out of our house tomorrow.

But the years have been too short and she will leave soon enough…then no more Bible reading, copywork, reading Anne of Green Gables and Tom Sawyer. No more messy finger painting or learning ABC’s by drawing the letters in rice or flour since Leah was a hands-on learner (those were the days of fun!).

No more field trips to the zoo, the art museum, or – the worse in our kids’ minds, history museums, where we would often hear them whine, ‘This is boring!” and “Can we go get something to eat? I’m hungry and thirsty!”

Did I ever stop long enough to just praise God for this privilege of home education and to enjoy our children’s presence? Or was I too busy “doing school at home,” telling them to “finish your math problems,” and on some days assigning them to read out of dull textbooks when I was tired or stressed out and should have been implementing instead Charlotte Mason‘s life-producing style of learning?

In the office closet, I have plastic tubs of sample book after sample book of their school work through the years. Is this all I have left now  of their homeschooling – albums with copywork, math sheets, painted horses and flowers?

Didn’t I realize one day I would not be able to do this ever again, that it would come to an end one day? Did I truly appreciate being able to homeschool?

Homeschooling hasn’t been perfect. It’s had many challenges. There were days I would feel exhausted, frustrated, inadequate, and just wanted to quit and send our kids to Christian school. But there were also other days – those making a memory days.

Days where we would admire together a rainbow in the sky, a red male cardinal in the tree outside our kitchen window, a bunny rabbit hopping on the lawn, the first sign of a spring flower or the first winter snowflake.

Days when we would make home-made hot chocolate or chocolate chip cookies, and curl up on the couch to watch a funny movie or read a good book aloud. The time when we went on a nature walk at Powell Garden and came home with a  praying mantis for the kids to keep as their new pet.

The time when Leah began reading smoothly after I had been working with her on phonics from Teach Your Children to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

The days when we would decide to just take off in the car, go shopping, and stop for lunch and an ice cream cone just because we could. We felt sorry for the kids at school who couldn’t do this!

Days when we would discover a nugget of gold in God’s word, and the kids would ask me, their “teacher,” questions – learning about their God and their Maker in a way they probably never would have been able to, had they not been homeschooled.

Days when we would read a good book together and laugh at the characters together, or hear the beauty of Mozart on a CD. The time Heather and I read Elisabeth Elliott’s book Through Gates Of Splendor about her husband Jim’s and his friends being speared to death when they were trying to minister Christ’s love to the Auca Indians in Ecuador, and us both bawling hard…and yet through that book, God spoke to Heather’s heart to be a missionary.

The years have been lightning fast and I can’t get them back ever again to do anything different, to appreciate our kids being kids and just enjoying their beautiful faces, their smiles, their play….even if that play meant mud on the carpet or fingerprints on the wall.

Today as I reflect back over the years, despite the challenges and frustrating moments, I am so thankful for being able to homeschool. This year, as we set out to complete Leah’s final senior year, I pray that I will remember the years are so fast and to just slow down and enjoy being and learning with her.

To smile and laugh together, to bake delicious goodies, to admire the beauty of a sunset and the moon and stars that display God’s glory, to go to the zoo and enjoy God’s magnificent creations, to enjoy science experiments and nature walks, to read and learn from good living books.

My prayer: “Lord God, remind me on those days this year when I am “too busy” working on the computer for my home business to really pay close attention to what my child is saying or even to her school lessons, when I would be quick to sigh and feel frustrated over something trivial, when I would think this day will never be over….because it will all too soon and I’ll never have these wonderful days again. “

This too shall pass. Remember your children  – and homeschooling – are precious gifts from God. Thank and praise Him today.

***Did you enjoy this post? You can read more about our homeschool experience in my free ebook, The Call Of Wisdom: Teaching Our Children At Home. Just sign up for my ezine with your name and email address at the top of the page on the right hand side to immediately download it.

You will also receive occasional, short ezines from me with encouraging homeschool tips, articles, audios and more! (Be sure to add my email address elizabethdjones@gmail.com to your contacts list, so it won’t go into your spam folder.)

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Standardized test to see where your child places, grade-wise

Homeschooling parents sometimes want to know where their child would place grade-wise to either satisfy their own curiousity (or to ease concerns or anxieties of relatives/in-laws!). One of the best ways to do this is through standardized testing.

Two years ago, a homeschooling mom told me about an online website, the Family Learning Organization, which provides encouragement, advice, and standardized testing called the California Achievement Test (CAT).

While the CAT is not the same as the SAT or ACT, it does give you an idea of how your child scores compared to other students in his or her age/grade group. The cost is low, the parent can administrate it at home, and the results are mailed quickly to you. The Family Learning Organization does not divulge test scores, child information, or mailing lists.

Remember to keep in mind if you choose to use standardized tests, that they are simply tools to help you assess how your child is doing. You as the parent are the one who knows your child best, and how he or she is really doing academically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

What are your thoughts on standardized test? Has your child taken the CAT, SAT, or ACT? Please leave your comments below.

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Have fun with hands-on projects, like a volcano kit


Our school year tends to follow the public school system’s schedule, but we take off longer for some holidays and usually wind up schooling during some of the summer. We’re wrapping up this school year, will take off the month of August, and start again in early September.

Last week we went on a field trip to the Kansas City Zoo, where we saw the new polar bear exhibit. He was pacing back and forth frantically, wanting out of that confined area!  All I could think as I looked at him was that he wasn’t pure white and fluffy like the cute pictures showed (he was dirty), he wanted out of there, and he had to be so HOT!  It has been in the 90’s lately in Kansas City– PLEASE!

This weekend we tried a hands-on project for science using the Smithsonian Giant Volcano Kit, available on sale at Amazon. We’ve never made one before, so it was fun.

We first had to make the plaster mold, and let it dry for 24 hours. (Their idea of giant and mine are two different things!) Leah then enjoyed painting the volcano mold. We set the volcano outside on a little table covered with an old sheet and newspapers. The project was really messy, so you want to be sure to protect the area where you’ll be doing the experiment with sheets and/or newspapers if you do it inside your house.

I was disappointed that the tablets that came with the kit and the club soda didn’t work at first. Luckily, Ray was off work this weekend and he added vinegar and baking soda to the mix, which did the trick. Since the instructions had warned us in capital letters, STAND BACK, I was expecting almost an explosion – that’s why you hear me telling Leah in the video, “Leah, get back!” 

So I was surprised at how “small” the eruption was. However, the vinegar and the baking soda did make it finally work, so I was happy about that and Leah enjoyed it.

Notice in the video how I kept telling Ray to “do it again,” lol. I thought it was cool.

Be sure to add fun, hands-on projects to your homeschool for science, art, and other subjects , especially if you have visual/hands-on learners like Leah is.

Video – volcano kit

The baking soda and vinegar did the trick from Beth Jones on Vimeo.

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Tips for Summer Fun

Leah petting horse at petting zoo

Tired of hearing, “Mom, I’m bored?” Or maybe you’re the one who’s bored! Here are some tips to enjoy your summer:

  • Go swimming at a lake or pool; rent a paddle boat, ski, or try a wave runner
  • Go to a nature reserve, amusement park, petting zoo or zoo with your kids or grandkids
  • Have an “ice cream Friday” day of the week for fun with your family
  • Take up a new sport – hiking, biking, skating, horseback riding, tennis, skydiving, rock climbing
  • Take advantage of your local library and go with your kids to the library to check out good books
  • Invite friends over for grilled chicken, cheeseburgers, hotdogs or ribs, or cold sandwiches, chips, pickles, olives, fresh veggies and watermelon after church on Sundays
  • Go to the movie matinee specials with your husband/wife for an inexpensive, fun date
  • Find an online deal to fly somewhere inexpensively for a weekend – a much needed getaway!
  • Take a road trip somewhere new and spend the night in quaint Bed and Breakfast Inns; explore the intriguing history of a new city, state or country
  • Have a spa day –  get a makeover, pedicure or facial
  • Get a massage or ask your spouse for one
  • Invite your child’s friend(s) over for pizza and a movie
  • Play rounds of pool or golf
  • Sign up for college part-time in one or two classes or some CEU’s for your career/business
  • Go to a writers’ or speakers’ training or conference; never stop learning
  • Start writing your book – the one you keep saying you’ll write one day!
  • Record fun videos of you, family, and friends; have a funny “movie” night watching them
  • Catch up on all your scrapbooking or photo albums
  • Buy some new clothes – a new suit; a colorful, fun sundress; some flip flops; some Hawaiian shirts or shorts; some comfy pj’s; sharp, well-made clothes for church or business –  you deserve it and it will make you feel like a new person who you and others take seriously.
  • Go on a picnic at the park with your family or a friend
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Simple Summer Activities To Do With Kids

Violet, Leah & Belle at park

A lot of people feel that the summertime is all about going on vacations, tanning and spending lazy days swimming. While these are great summer activities, there’s much more that can be done during summer. This is especially true for those of us with kids.

Below is a list of small summer activities that you can do with your children.  People often feel that summer activities have to take up a large portion of the day, but this isn’t true. You can have a lot of fun and make great memories doing the little things together.

Plant Flowers: Yes, you could plant the flowers quicker if you just do it by yourself, but if you have children it’s much more rewarding to take the time to let them help. Even if you dig the hole, place the flower in it, and just let them pack in the dirt around it, they’ll love it. Kids enjoy getting their hands messy! When you’re  done, the happiness and the satisfaction you’ll see on their faces will make the extra time letting them help worth it. They’ll probably love to help you water them throughout the summer, too.

Plant a Garden: It’s important that children learn where their foods come from. One of the best ways to help them learn this is to show them. Take your kids to the store in late winter/early spring and let them help you pick out some packets of vegetable or fruit seeds. When the weather is right, have them help you plant the seeds.

Remind your kids of the scriptures on farming and seeds such as Ecclesiastes 11:6, “Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.”

Your kids will enjoy watching the “fruits of their labor” grow…and eventually eat them! We have never had the opportunity to make a garden outdoors, but we have grown beef tomatoes, starting with a pot indoors. You can find these seeds at Walmart, the dollar stores, farmers’ markets, or your local grocery store. There’s nothing like a fresh, ripe tomato in the summer or your own home-grown watermelon!

Make Homemade Ice Cream: One of my favorite memories of childhood is going to get ice cream at the Dairy Queen with my family on Friday nights, or making home-made ice cream at home. We’d watch as our dad poured the rock salt and the ice into the bucket and could hardly wait until it was finished an hour or so later. Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry – freezing cold on my tongue and creamy, it was so delicious!

One of the best treats enjoyed by all children during the summer is ice cream. So, why not make it a fun family tradition to make your own ice cream? Buy special colored bowls and spoons. Invite a neighbor or friends over to enjoy it with you. Your children will enjoy and learn a lot as they help.

You can go here to learn how to make it. http://www.ehow.com/how_4798419_homemade-ice-cream-rock-salt.html You can also make it with Ziploc bags. Click here. http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howtos/a/aa020404a.htm

Take a Walk: Summer days and nights are too good to let pass by while staying cooped up inside. Get out in the sunlight and in the fresh air. Take a walk around the neighborhood. If your children are small and don’t want to walk, let them ride their bikes or pull them in a wagon. Sometimes your child may not want to walk (from laziness, preferring to play a video game or be on the net, wanting to talk to a friend on the phone instead, etc.).

Our daughter Leah isn’t thrilled about going on walks in the heat, but we’ve been taking walks lately around our neighborhood. To make it more interesting, I point out a beautiful red cardinal, a yellow butterfly, or comment on the Japanese- or Spanish-style architecture of a house. I ask her questions about her friend Nichole or what she’d like to do that’s fun this summer.

And sometimes we don’t talk at all, which gives us both relaxing time to think about whatever we want (Leah is probably thinking, “When do we go home?” J But the exercise is good for us both and we’re getting Vitamin D, too. Walking is a simple activity, but it can be fun and it reaps great benefits for everyone!

These are just a few of the many simple summer activities you can do with your kids that are not only fun, but create great memories. Just remember that children are much easier to please than adults. Things like having homemade ice cream, riding a bike, going to the park and having water gun fights are just as much fun for them as expensive, big family vacations. Look for little things you can do together this summer with your children – and have fun!

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Summer Activities For Teens

Do you homeschool all year long, or take a break in the summer (or at different times of the year)? Many homeschooling families opt for the summer break so their kids won’t resent the public school kids having “freedom” outside, while they’re indoors having to study. But you don’t want your child to go all summer laying on the couch eating potato chips! 🙂 Get them involved in activities.

Summer activities for teenagers are important for several reasons. Once the school year is completed, a lot of parents let their kids do whatever they want and they can become lazy. This can be because you as the homeschooling parent “just want to relax now” and do whatever YOU want…so you let the kids do the same!

Or, the parents still have to go to work every day in the summer and since their kids are teens, they can stay home alone, right?  Unattended teens or teens who don’t have anything to do during the day tend to get in more trouble than those who are busy.

Keeping teens busy through summer activities for teenagers is one of the most important things parents can do for their teens’ safety. While teens are young adults, the fact is that they aren’t adults yet and still lack the maturity to always make wise decisions. This is where summer activities for teenagers helps.

There’s a variety of summer activities for teens to choose from.  For example, you could require that your teenage son or daughter gets a summer job to keep them busy during the day. This would help them in several ways. First, they will be learning the value of hard work while earning extra money. The money they earn can be an incentive for buying something they really want – like a car, clothes, or video games.

Secondly, they will be held accountable for their actions to someone else (their boss). Your teen needs to experience before this they get out on their own. Why? Because, that’s the real world. We want to prepare our children as much as possible before they fly the nest.

Third, they’ll be building up their resume and work experience, which colleges and future employers will look at.

Leah and Nathaniel throwing frisbee at beach in Florida

You may not want your teen to take a job during his or her time off, but do involve them in some type of summer activity. If you have a teen who enjoys sports, then getting them involved in a summer league, horseback riding, volleyball, swimming lessons, etc.

Some homeschooling parents dismiss the value of sports, but sports teach discipline and other life lessons to teens. Sometimes they can even earn college scholarships through the sports they play during high school.

If you have a teen who is goal-oriented and wants to continue his/her education or work to use as experiences for their college applications, then it is probably worth your time to talk to your teen about enrolling in summer college courses.  (I don’t have any such child!)

You can also check into internship and volunteering opportunities available during the summer for your teen. If your child loves animals, maybe she can help out at a vet’s office. If your son loves to work on computers, maybe he can volunteer part-time at a computer shop in town.

I do think the most important activity of all for our kids (and us!) is to JUST HAVE FUN! (of course, we shouldn’t limit this to just summertime!). Make sure you get plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Admire God’s handiwork – the beautiful flowers, the green grass and trees, the blue sky.

Have an old-fashioned picnic at the park with a blanket and a picnic basket filled with your family’s favorite snacks and tasty goodies. Encourage dad to go fishing with your kids – it will be relaxing and good for them both.

Walk on nature trails, swim at a lake or pool. Go to a petting zoo and feed the ducks and animals. Enjoy the new season God made just for you and me! 🙂 Be physically active with your kids – walk, run, swim, skate, ride a waterjet, etc. Take a road trip to some place new…see new things, meet new people, try new types of food.

You don’t want your teen (or you!) having a boring summer!

As you can see, there are many summer activities for teenagers available. All of these activities have their own unique benefits for your teen, but the one common benefit they share is keeping your teen active during the summer.

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Driver’s Ed in Your Homeschooling

Leah in town practicing parking on a hill

One of the subjects we as homeschooling parents GET to teach 🙂  is Driver’s Ed. If you’re a math-phobe  like me or the Periodic Table Of Elements makes your eyes glaze over like mine, then teaching your child how to drive SHOULD be fun, right? Well, I wouldn’t exactly use that word, but let’s just say it’s interesting…and if I survive this, I’ll be ok.

Our youngest daughter Leah is 16 and has her learner’s permit. A cold Missouri winter that brought lots of snow and ice (February 2011 dumping 18 inches of snow) was a definite deterrent to Leah getting behind the wheel of a car enough so that she’d be ready for her driver’s license test. There was no way I was going to allow her to try to handle snow and ice when she was just learning to drive!

Now the snow has melted and our concern weather-wise is tornaodes. In between the days when it’s raining a lot, and I’m praying against tornadoes, Leah and I are conquering the road. Conquer is a good word for it. She gets her wallet with her learner’s permit and hands me her Safe Driving: A Guide to Teaching The New Driver, ARRIVE ALIVE booklet.

I have news for you. The teen driver or the parent does NOT have that happy, cheesey grin on their faces like they show in this handbook!  The booklet has little boxes for me to check off of Leah’s accomplishments. You know, things like:

Didn’t take corners today at 35 m.p.h.

Didn’t smash into the car on her  right as she was pulling into the parking space.

Didn’t run over the jogger in pink.

Didn’t wait until she was at the stop sign to stop.

Didn’t slow down and look guilty as she passed the cop sitting on the side of the road pointing the radar at us.

I am kidding, of course (sorta). Leah is actually doing very well driving…but it’s not her favorite thing.  Unlike our oldest daughter Heather who couldn’t wait to escape with her friends learn to drive,Leah is a reluctant driver. It’s not that she thinks she would crash into someone else; “it’s the other idiots driving,” she says.

Heather was quite different. I think she would have learned to drive at 3 years old. In fact, she did have a little toy Volkswagen that she scooted around on at that age. I think she was studying for her learner’s permit three years before her 15th birthday.

When she got her learner’s permit, Heather was constantly wanting to practice driving, so she could get her required driving  hours in and could take the driver’s test the minute the DMV’s office opened on her 16th birthday.

When she passed it and got her license, Heather suddenly became the greatest servant in the world: “Want me to go get you a coke at the store, mom?” “Dad, do you need anything at the grocery store?” Any excuse to drive would do. I had the feeling that as soon as she went around the corner of our street, she floored the gas pedal and was  shouting, “WHOO-HOO!” with the windows rolled down and her hair flying in the wind. (To this day, Heather still has a lead foot on the accelerator.)

But back to Leah. She’s making good progress. She now points very teacher-like to my seatbelt as soon as we get into the car. (I don’t put it on purposely to see what she’ll do.)  She holds the steering wheel fairly steady on the road, and when she’s accelerating, it no longer feels like a NASA rocket taking off.

Driver’s Ed is a little difficult to “grade.” You either get it or you don’t. If you hit something, you can’t take the test over! I do try to stay calm, but initially my nails left a permanent indention on the dashboard as I screeched, “DON’T HIT THE BRIDGE!”  We’ve now advanced to a place where her driving makes me only slightly nervous.

You can count Driver’s Ed in your child’s homeschool curriculum. This is one of the most important things your child will ever learn! Don’t let him or her be like my grandmother, who never learned to drive and had to depend on others her entire life to go where she needed. Yes, driving is a privilege, but it gives your teen the independence and the freedom he or she needs to make a smoother transition into responsible adulthood.

Here’s some tips to help with Driver’s Ed with your teen:

  • Pray before driving (sometimes you’re praying fervently AS they drive!). I pray for God’s protection over me and my loved ones every morning by habit, but I also pray out loud when Leah and I get into the car. This teaches your teen about the important habit of prayer when you’ll no longer be driving with them when they have their license – and they will need to pray for themselves.
  • Have a specific destination in mind.  This will avoid having to tell your teen driver to make a sudden right turn! You can turn driver’s ed into fun excursions as your teen gains experience driving – a picnic at the park, fun shopping at Kohl’s, a  petting zoo.
  • Be (stay) positive and encouraging. You don’t want your teen to dislike driving from constant criticism and become unmotivated to get his license, living with you until he or she is 40 or beyond. The Bible says for fathers not to exasperate their children, so they won’t lose heart. Tell them what they did well. Give a couple of pointers for the most important areas where they need to work on –  such as always looking over their shoulder before moving into another lane.
  • Don’t throw a sheep to the wolves. Make sure your teen driver gets lots of practice somewhere safe first before driving on real roads. You don’t want your child traumatized by road rage on the highway because they were driving too slow for the driver behind them. You’ve probably forgotten how scary it feels for other cars to come toward you or be behind you.  It’s not easy to learn to drive and it is frightening at first. Help your teen to relax by practicing first. We live in a small town, so Leah isn’t in heavy traffic at this point. When she gains more experience, we’ll tackle heavy traffic in other cities and higher speeds on the highway.
  • Remember this too shall pass.  The years go so fast.  He or she is growing up, and soon will leave the nest -and how empty it will feel then. Savor these precious days with your teen for you’ll never get them back. Enjoy this time with your teen, sudden stops and all!

PS:  My husband WILL teach Leah to parallel park, though! 🙂

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Copycats curriculum

It’s getting toward the end of the school year, but some homeschooling parents are thinking about next year’s curriculum. One very reasonably priced copywork curriculum is Copycats at www.copycatbooks.com.

Copycat Books are economical copywork e-books with models in both manuscript and cursive, in traditional, modern, and italic handwriting styles, with Biblical and academic themes.

I was impressed to see the Psalms and Proverbs used for their copywork books, as well as Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Middle Ages. You can view a sample page of each title, as well as lots of FREE Printable worksheets, on their website, www.copycatbooks.com. Their copywork pages have a cute, black cat at the top of the page, are visually appealing, and are professionally done.

Everything you need is included with the lessons. The books, being developed by a homeschooling mom for busy parents, are available in downloadable Adobe PDF ebooks.

Copywork is a proven, effective method for children to practice handwriting, as well as to improve spelling, grammar, and vocabulary skills. It also reinforces the Bible and other important subjects. Charlotte Mason advocated copywork. Ruth Beechik and parents following the Classical approach to education also endorse its use.

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UHSE 2011 Schedule for this week

This is the Ultimate Homeschool Expo week with Felice Gerwitz and guests. Felice has an incredible lineup of speakers. Here is the schedule for the rest of this week.

May 3 at 1pm (Central Time) Debbie Strayer: Reviving Your Teaching and Your Students. Homeschooling can seem like an overwhelming and exhausting task, with one of the first casualties being creativity and the joy of learning. Come hear practical ways to encourage your children and enhance their learning at the same time. These ideas are useful with any curriculum or approach, so come hear how to bring greater enjoyment and success to your homeschooling.

May 3 at 3pm (Central Time) Rick Andreassen-Ministering to a Child’s Heart. Coach Rick “Mr. Rick” Andreassen has inspired families with his blend of heartfelt passion and his love of the Scriptures. Rick ministers to the hearts of school aged children everywhere in this inspiring, Scripture filled talk. He charges kids to keep up the good work, be proud to be homeschooled and keep your eyes on the goal, as only Coach Rick can do! Rick has written a professional physical education program that presently is serving homeschool families.

May 4 at 10am (Central Time) Carol Topp: What Your Child Can Learn From Starting a Business. Does your child have a desire to earn money or share their talents in the marketplace? Encourage them to start a micro business. By running a micro business, your child will develop skills in business, time management, speaking, writing and grow and mature in confidence all while making some money of their own!

May 4 at 1pm (Central Time) Kim Kautzer: College Prep: Is Writing on Track? Is writing one of those subjects you keep starting and stopping? Does your child drag his feet, fail to finish assignments, or complain night and day? Or are you the one who has trouble following through with lesson planning or editing? For high schoolers, there’s more to planning for college than simply getting accepted, and becoming a good writer is at the top of the list! Learn how you can equip your kids by encouraging strong writing skills and good study habits that will serve them well in college.

May 4 at 3pm (Central Time) Cathy Duffy: Learning Styles: Choosing Curriculum to Fit Each Child. Having problems with uncooperative learners? Do you feel like your curriculum is as much hindrance as help? What about all those publishers who claim to have the best curriculum? How can we sort through all of this to figure out what will really be best for each of our children? Understanding learning styles helps us overcome many of the problems we encounter in home education. In this session we will first identify our own learning styles and those of our children. Then we will discuss methods of teaching to our children’s strengths and overcoming weaknesses using examples from various math programs.

May 5 at 10 am (Central Time) Cyndi Kinney: Using the Psychology of Color in Education. Cyndi is the author of over 100+ lapbook products in every subject area that utilizes this ground breaking method. No other lapbook products use this and Cyndi has found in many hands-on demonstrations with parents that this method truly works!
This is Part One of her two-part session on using color to increase your child’s ability to remember and retain information.

May 5 at 1pm (Central Time) Dr. “Doc” Thomas Sharp: Truth in Science: Biblical View of Dinosaurs. The dinosaur spin has been promoted in cultural centers, schools and worldwide. It is primarily an attack on children ages 3-12, and one reason the Bible does not make sense to them. The intrusion of humanism and secular relativism without proper apologetics causes children to struggle with the dinosaur story and how it fits into the Bible. Teens often leave the church and parents wonder why. Doc will share the 5 major questions he is asked repeatedly about dinosaurs world wide, he will answer these as well as questions from the audience.

May 5 at 3pm (Central Time) Regina Hicks: Incorporating a Thomas Jefferson and Classical Approach to Your Educational Adventure. Co-founder of Thomas Jefferson Academy of Excellence and founder of Classical Home Educator Scholastic Society, Regina will be sharing how home educators can implement foundational principals that are necessary in providing a successful educational experience for your homeschooling adventure. The majority of homeschooling families realize that home education is teaching outside the government-educational box of instruction. However, with a variety of teaching modalities/techniques available to the home educator, understanding both approaches is often misunderstood and/or overlooked. Hearing about the core principals and approaches to both will not only give parents a different approach to their child’s scholastic adventure but also provide opportunities for innovative learning experiences.

May 6 at 10am (Central Time) Maggie Hogan: Highly Effective Habits of Happy Homeschool Moms. When is the last time you woke up and thought, “Wow! I love homeschooling and we are learning so much, growing spiritually, and even having some fun?” Umm . . . been awhile? Well, join Maggie for a very real workshop on 7 ways to streamline your life and improve your homeschooling while (for the most part) enjoying the process! This entertaining workshop is stuffed full with practical tips you can truly use.

May 6 at 1pm (Central Time) Denise Mira: 7 Keys To Unlocking the Leader Within Your Child. The home schooling lifestyle is ideal for tapping into the greatness residing within your child. As home educators, let’s not settle for just raising good, Christian kids. Let’s aim to raise high-capacity leaders God can use to have an impact in our world!

May 6 at 3pm (Central Time) Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. If Homeschooling Is So Good Why Don’t Educators Promote It? President and Founder of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) will present this session as our grand finale to the ULTIMATE Homeschool EXPO 2011!!

All of these sessions are free if you come live, and you can win great doorprizes! You can listen on your computer here or call in on the number provided on that page. This is just a sampling of all the great sessions in the Ultimate Homeschool Expo, which includes more than 100 audios. I was one of the speakers in the UHSE 2011, so you will get to hear my session, too, on praying for our children.

I don’t attend  many homeschool conferences, but this is one event I do, and you will LOVE it. I have listened to my expo audios again and again from the last two years. The entire set for over 100 audios, plus all the free gifts, is only $24.95 and the price increases soon. I would appreciate it if you’d use my affiliate link if you buy a ticket. To get your ticket, just click on this link.

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It’s that time again! UHSE 2011 is here!

Join US for the largest Virtual Homeschool Conference

One of my favorite events throughout the year is the Ultimate Home School Expo. This year’s theme is “Making A Difference One child At A Time.” The live preview chats are every Thursday, counting down to the expo week May 2-6.

Felice Gerwitz has an amazing line-up of speakers, and there will be 100 audio sessions, plus bonuses. If you can’t make the live sessions, they will be recorded. I have never attended a conference that offers so much: articles, bonus gifts, ebooks, and special coupon offers from speakers and sponsors. This year there will be a special song played, written just for homeschool moms.

The entire set is only $24.95, and the price will increase soon to $39.95. You can also get a special two-ticket price with a friend for $36.95. You will be blown away by all you get in this membership set!

This morning I recorded my preview chat with Felice at 11 a.m. CST, A Mother’s Prayers: How Our Prayers Make A Difference In Our Children’s Lives. I would love for you to hear it, and let me know what you think! Being a homeschooling parent, or even a Christian, is no guarantee that our children will be saved, will love and obey God, or fulfill their destiny. But our prayers make a difference! We need to pray over every detail of their lives.

To purchase your ticket TODAY, click on this link.**

**This is an affiliate link.

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Indoor seed starter kits for your homeschool

Spring is here, and oh the sunshine and cool breeze feel great! This morning I opened nearly all the windows of our house and cleaned the dirt and dust in the window sills, letting the fresh air and sunshine into our home!

This week I also picked up some indoor starter kits for Leah and I to do together: a Russian Mammoth sunflower kit and a Beefsteak tomato kit. You can count indoor kits for flowers, plants, herbs, etc. as part of your child’s science credits, and it’s lots of fun, especially when you finally get to see the fruit of your labor!

Karen Andreola writes in The Charlotte Mason Companion that Charlotte Mason placed strong emphasis on nature study, for them to be in touch frequently with God’s creation. It  rained frequently in spring, and it took time and organization for most classrooms to travel to the English countryside in that time period, so whole days were spent outdoors, devoted to nature study.  (p. 169) You and I have the benefit of our own indoor garden, in the comfort of our own home.

First we watered the soil:

Then Leah planted the seeds, and covered them with the soil. We put the little “greenhouse dome” over it until the seeds germinate.  You keep the soil consistently moist to the touch, but don’t drown the poor things. 🙂

Once the seeds germinate, you remove the dome and put it in a sunny window.  When the plant reaches about 2″ tall, you transplant it outside when there’s no more danger of frost. You feed it with an all-purpose fertilizer.  

The Beefsteak tomato kit was similar. The tomato seeds are tiny! Isn’t God’s creation amazing? There is a miracle in each seed!

You expand the starter pellets by pouring warm water slowly over the pellets in the tray. They just “poof out,” and it looks kind of funny.

Sow 1-2 seeds in the middle of each pellet and cover it with 1/4 inch of soil. Keep it consistently moist to the touch – just spray it with warm water. You then cover the tray with the little greenhouse dome and set it in a lighted, warm location (but not in direct sunlight).

After the seedlings have germinated, you remove the cover and place it near a sunny window. Fertilize it with half strength solution 3 weeks after the leaves appear. You then thin it to one seedling per pellet when plants have 2 pairs of true leaves. (This part of the directions made me smile – as opposed to fake leaves?)

Transplant it outdoors in the sun when it’s past danger of any frost. You can support the plants with stakes or cages. The harvest begins usually 75-80 days after transplanting. There is nothing like eating a fresh, home-grown tomato!

We also have other signs of spring in our back yard, like this beautiful, cherry blossom tree:

I love the purple-pink blossoms on this tree:

What are your favorite things to plant in spring?

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