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 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. You can also make it with Ziploc bags. Click here.

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

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, 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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My first teleseminar this Thursday at 11 am CST – Your Purpose

Did you miss my webinar events in 2010? Well, I am excited to share that this coming Thursday, March 31, at 11 a.m. CST, I am having my very first teleseminar, The Power Of Your Purpose.

Beth Jones

We as Christian believers have a great purpose and destiny from God to fulfill, and so do our children. But we also have an enemy, Satan, who wants to destroy that purpose. At this teleseminar, you will learn your primary and specific, unique purpose, why Satan fights you so hard, and practical steps for living out your purpose victoriously through faith in Christ.

The teleseminar is free and there will be a replay available for 48 hours afterward. You can sign up for the teleseminar by clicking on this link.

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Tonight’s supermoon

Supermoon, March 19

Today and tonight the Earth’s moon is closest to the earth than it has been in 18 years – 221,565 miles away, the closest to Earth since March 1993. Scientists estimated that the “supermoon” would appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter at its peak, which was earlier today.

I went outside to take a short video clip of it with My Flip camera. It is pretty tonight. My husband Ray and our daughter Leah saw it, too. Leah didn’t think it looked much different from other nights, but she said maybe it looks different in other places. There have been some great shots captured of it already in other states like the one in this post by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

Here is the video clip of the moon tonight in Missouri.

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My purple scarf: What crafts do you like to do?

On Superbowl Sunday our oldest daughter Heather went with her husband Kyle and their kids to a friend’s house for a Superbowl party.  Of course, it was just Heather’s excuse to get together with her girlfriends!

While there, her friend Stacey taught her how to knit using the Knifty Knitter.  Heather then showed me and our youngest daughter, Leah, how to knit. Leah quickly finished hers which you can see by clicking here.

I haven’t been able to work a lot on mine, but finally finished it today. Leah went on YouTube to see how to add tassles to hers, so I added some, too.

The whole experience has been relaxing. When I’ve had a lot to do during the day, faced stress, etc., sitting down on the couch or reclining in bed to knit has helped me to just slow down and breathe a little.

Heather, Leah, and I have all had a lot of fun doing this, and plan to do more for gifts. Besides, it makes me feel just a little bit like the P31 woman.  🙂 What arts and crafts do you enjoy doing? Leave your comments below.

purple knitted scarf

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,

and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places

and brings back exotic surprises.

She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast

for her family and organizing her day.

She looks over a field and buys it,

then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,

rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.

She senses the worth of her work,

is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,

diligent in homemaking.

She’s quick to assist anyone in need,

reaches out to help the poor.


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Knitting: What hobbies do your kids enjoy?

Chocolate cupcakes

Yea, I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been here and I do apologize! One of my goals for 2011 is more consistent blogging at all my sites. 🙂  I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!

I had a good one.  Our daughter Leah and I made chocolate cupcakes – yum! Don’t they look cute the way I decorated them?  I found a sheer, red tablecloth, red heart-shaped, plastic plates, and red, heart napkins at Walmart for just a few dollars.

I got fresh flowers as a gift from my dh, worked on a presentation for Cindy Rushton’s Talk-A-Latte retreat (I’ll be speaking THIS Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and would LOVE to see you there!), and then I went to zumba (aerobics – our oldest daughter Heather slave-drives teaches it. Just kidding. She’s actually a wonderful instructor! We just started class again, so I am adjusting again (muscles a little sore!).

Do your kids have fun hobbies? I think Leah may have a new one (me, too!)  This week Heather came over to teach us how to knit. I know, it should be the other way around with me teaching them!

But no one taught me how to sew or do any crafts as I was growing up. My mother worked fulltime, so she didn’t have time to sew with working and taking care of four kids!  My grandmother Moore made quilts, a lost art today. I did ask her to teach me to quilt, but somehow it never happened before she died several years ago.  When Heather learned knitting from a friend at a Superbowl party last week, she was very excited and wanted to show us how. Now we’re hooked!  🙂

It’s really easy to do with the knifty knitter. Leah has already finished knitting her blue scarf, including the fringes (tassles)!  I told her that it’s knitting, not a race!  I am still working on my dark purple one, but hope to have it done within the next couple of days – in between everything else on the to-do list!  Leah wants to make a multi-colored scarf next (the artist in her!), and to try knitting hats, too.  Here are pictures of her scarf:

Leah's blue scarf

Leah's scarf with fringes (tassles)

What hobbies do your kids enjoy? Don’t forget, as you’re working on projects like these, you can use them as credits in your children’s homeschooling.  You can use a title of “Home Economics,” “Living Skills,” or “Arts and Crafts” but these are great for elective credits!

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Balance in our roles


Hope you had a great holiday!  All of our kids and grandkids came over on Christmas Day, and the kids enjoyed Ray’s traditional, sweet holiday ham – enjoyed it so much that none was left for left-overs!  Today is the beginning of 2011, and if you’re like me, you’re ready to put the old year behind and start fresh! 

I don’t like new year’s resolutions. They make me feel like a failure – usually by the second week of January! So this year I’ve decided to do a “one word theme” that I heard about on K-Love radio station here.  You pray and ask God for “one word” for the new year, a character trait you’d like to work on or something you want to focus on this year such as “faith,” “dream,” discipline,” or “forgiveness.” 

One word from the Lord can change your life!

I spent today working on my new ebook, The Hands Of A Woman, which is about women and spiritual warfare. Eight women so far are contributing their stories to this ebook, and I am very excited about this. If you’d like to hear all the latest updates about this ebook and a webinar on the same topic at the end of January, be sure to sign up for my personal mailing list at my main website at

One of the things I have committed to God in prayer for the new year is balancing my roles as a wife, homeschooling mom, writer and speaker.  Our daughter Leah’s homeschooling will be priority over my business/ministry. It’s not always easy for moms to juggle all that they have to do, but God can help us if we just ask. 

What balls are you juggling right now?  How do you organize your day?  Do you homeschool early in the morning, and have the rest of the day free?  Do your kids do some of their lessons at night so you have some time freed up in the daytime for errands, chores, your business?

I’d love to hear what works for you. Leave your comments below.

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Working on new projects for new year

Beth Jones

I know it’s been quiet here lately and at my website, but I have been working on some new projects that are coming up in the new year: my webinar on women and spiritual warfare and an ebook on the same topic. Today I did something quiet spontaneous – I ran across a theme that I liked, downloaded it, and created a new website for writers, speakers, and bloggers.

 Here is the link for you to check it out. I’m still building it, so stick around!  🙂  And I would love to know what you think of it so far! Leave your comments here or at the site, entering your name and email address. 

Christmas is just around the corner and I have some major shopping to do!  We have been watching our finances the past few months due to some extra expenses, so believe it or not I haven’t been able to do much shopping!  I am NOT a last minute shopper, so this should prove interesting.  What about you? Are you all done?

And what about homeschooling? Do you take a break during the Christmas holidays or just do a lighter day? We choose the latter – or at least I choose it and Leah generally complies. 🙂 

We stopped studies yesterday, and are making plans for our kids and grandkids to all come over on Christmas Day at some point.  Our oldest daughter Heather, her husband Kyle, and their two daughters Annabelle and Violet left early yesterday morning to drive from Kansas City, MO to Destin, FL.

They spent the night in Mississippi last night, and arrived in Destin, FL, tonight.  They are exhausted from the long drive (LOTS of stops with two little girls!), but are very excited. I just wish I was there with them to enjoy the beautiful ocean!  They are planning to drive back home and be here for the big family dinner sometime on Christmas Day. Eden and her precious toddler boy Jacob will be joining us.

What are your plans for the holidays? Are you doing anything new?  Let’s remember to keep it Christ centered and be thankful for our continued freedoms in the U.S. to worship Jesus and to celebrate His birth!

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The sweetness of Christmas!


Christmas is one of the funnest times of the year for homeschooling!  You can decorate the tree, listen to Christmas music, shop and wrap gifts, make home-made cards – and especially bake cookies!

Today Leah and I made home-made sugar cookies with vanilla frosting, green sugar, colored sprinkles, and chocolate chips. Yum!  I am taking the extra ones tomorrow to the Women’s Aglow Bible study meeting – then I won’t eat them!

Here are the basic ingredients for Ray’s grandmother Forte’s sugar cookie recipe:

1 cup oleo
1 cup Wesson oil
2 cups sugar
A pinch of salt

I threw in a few more things like a couple of cloves, and a little of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon.

Beat ingredients well in large bowl.

We mixed the oleo, Wesson oil, sugar, and salt with these extra ingredients. Beat well in a large bowl.

Now you add the following ingredients:
2 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
4 1/2 cups of sifted flour

I don’t really enjoy cooking (Gasp! Shocking confession of a homeschooling mom!), but I do like baking. Leah enjoys baking with me, especially stirring the ingredients with a big spoon, lol.  She had a fun time today sifting the flour and icing her cookies, putting the colored sprinkles and green sugar on them.

Teaching your kids the different tools in the kitchen, such as a flour sifter, and baking or cooking can be a fun part of home economics, counting as part of their school work.

flour sifter

After you have mixed the ingredients well, then you bake the cookies on a cookie sheet at 300 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 7 to 10 minutes.

If you like your frosting gooey and sticky, go ahead and spread it on the cookie while it’s still warm. Then you can sprinkle it with the green sugar or colored sprinkles.

For the chocolate chip sugar cookies, place a few, semi-sweet chocolate drops onto each cookie after you have rolled the dough into little balls and put them on your cookie sheet. I first spray a little bit of baking spray onto the sheet to keep the cookies from sticking. The spray does make it cook faster so you have to watch it (our first batch was too done on the bottom.)   The chocolate melts just a little in the oven -it’s wonderful!

“Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put ‘eat chocolate.’ Now, you’ll get at least one thing done today.” ~ Unknown author

Of course the best part of all when you’re baking  is the eating! 🙂  Here is Leah’s decorated cookie.

Leah's decorated cookie

What are your favorite Christmas goodies to bake?  Share in the comments below.

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Life is like a morning fog: our daughter’s 16th birthday

Leah Jones Copyright 2010 Beth Jones

It’s been a busy couple of months after speaking at Norma Washington Motivational Ministries conference and at Felice Gerwitz’s UHSE fall 2010 expo. Ray and I are now preparing for our youngest daughter Leah’s 16th birthday party and the holidays.

No kidding about the time going fast! It seems like yesterday that Leah was a beautiful, little baby girl in a pink nightgown who captured both our hearts immediately. Now she’s a beautiful young lady who we love even more than the day she was born!

I’ve been ordering the cake and the deli meat & cheese tray, coordinating with my oldest daughter Heather for the menu and the plans, inviting friends, ordering Leah’s special gift, and had lots of tears in the process – it’s so hard to believe she is almost 16!

I just want to encourage you to slow down and savor the precious moments with your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, and friends. The Bible tells us that life is just a vapor, a morning fog that appears early and then goes away soon.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  ~James 4:14

Today take some time to be with those you love, for this moment is all we have.

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Special holiday recipe book with your Homeschool Expo ticket

Beth Jones

Thanks so much to all of you who prayed for my speaking session this week at UHSE 2010 with publisher/author/speaker Felice Gerwitz! It was such a blessing and an honor talking with Felice and speaking for her! You know how sometimes you don’t feel very anointed doing something – but God shows up despite yourself? That’s how I felt this week, but God in His grace helped me and the feedback from the attendees and from Felice was positive and encouraging!

At my session I gave away 3 copies of my ebook on prayer, Walking With God, as a doorprize to those who attended the live event, and other goodies for the mommy grab bag. You too can get the goodies for the mommy grab bag when you purchase a ticket for the entire event.

The faith-filled teaching sessions and bonuses from the over-35 speakers in this expo are incredible. PLUS, you will receive a holiday recipe and tradition book collected from all the speakers as a special gift.

To learn more about the homeschool expo, just click here.

Today I also would like to share with you a special recipe for the holidays on a cold night, that is from my friend Debbie. It is NOT low-fat, but it IS soooo delicious! Enjoy!

Debbie’s Delicious Iced Cappuncino

1 pot double strength coffee

1/2 gallon Blue Bunny expresso and cream ice cream

1 cup Hershey’s chocolate syrup

Make coffee. Add ingredients. Pour into pretty coffee mugs, and indulge in with your best friends!

woman enjoying coffee
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