Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Successful children

This is a good read. It grabbed my attention especially because it's not what I thought the article would be about, looking at the title. Successful children... It was a good reminder about what I really should be searching for my children to succeed in! Read on...

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

--Luke 10:27

I know you want your family to be successful. Whether you're a parent or grandparent, you want your children to be healthy, successful, and productive.

But what is true success? Jesus addressed this in Luke 10 when he was confronted by a lawyer asking, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus replied with a question, "What is written in the Law?" The answer is our verse today: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus said, "Do this, and you will live" (Luke 10:28). If you want your children to really live, a successful life comes from a strong faith.

You may be asking, "So how do I instill that faith into my children?"

It's not as hard as society likes to pretend. You see, God wants your children to know and love Him even more than you do.

That is why He has provided you with an instruction manual, His Word. If you and I simply apply the Scriptures to our lives and homes, we will raise godly children!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Seduction of Covetousness

I received these thoughts in an email today and thought that they would be appropriate to share at this time of year. If you're like most of us, you spent a little bit more than you planned on your Christmas shopping, and now you are left with an envelope full of receipts, a few memories of smiles, and well, bills to pay. Why do we do this? Why are we always after more? What are we teaching our kids about contentedness and covetousness? Here are a few thoughts from someone smarter than me on this....

One of the verses we read in our last devotional was Luke 12:15, which says,

And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

Jesus begins His teaching regarding prosperity in this passage by saying, "Beware of covetousness." In our society, even in the Church, there are a lot of people whose lives are tied up in "things." The focus of their life is their stuff, and doing whatever they can to acquire even more things.

It is what the Bible calls covetousness.

I want to ask you today, is your heart filled with covetousness? Do you find yourself thinking, "I know the missing ingredient in my life, I just need a little more. If I could just get a little more, I would be happy. If I could just build a bigger house and fill it with a little more stuff...if I could get a nicer car...if I could upgrade...then I would be happy, and then I would be successful."?

A little more, a little more, a little more.

The problem is, however, that desire for more never stops. In fact, as we will see in our next devotional, God called a man a fool because he never realized that riches are only temporary.

If you find your life driven by the need for more things, if you are consumed with stuff, if you define your success by what you have (or do not have), then you have been seduced by covetousness, and you will never find the happiness you are looking for.

Do not be a fool seeking after things. Instead, make the passion of your life seeking after God.

Visit the Answers with Bayless Conley website for more ways to Connect with God

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Real Santa

The Real St. Nicholas
This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Many families choose not to include Santa Claus as a part of their Christmas celebrations. The legend of Santa, the North Pole, flying reindeer, keeping naughty and nice lists, and coming down the chimney can seem as just too much distraction from the true meaning of Christmas for many Christian families. But, whatever your family chooses to do with Santa Claus, it may be worthwhile to consider the historical St. Nicholas.

"Nicholas lived long ago, in the third century, in a place called Asia Minor, what is now the country of Turkey. His parents died from an illness while Nicholas was a teenager and left him a large inheritance of money. Nicholas' parents taught him about Jesus. As he grew older, he followed the teachings of Jesus and sold all his possessions, secretly giving money to those in need.

"Nicholas became well-loved by the people and later became the Bishop of Myra. He died on December 6, 343 A.D. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration in his honor, called St. Nicholas Day. On this day, children would give and receive small gifts of candy, chocolate initial letters, or riddles hidden in baked goods or in elaborate packaging. Children also hung stockings by the fire or placed shoes filled with carrots and hay for the horse, eagerly awaiting gifts from St. Nicholas. Gold balls or oranges were given to represent the gifts of gold once given by St. Nicholas."[1]

Influenced by St. Nicholas' popularity in Europe, immigrants brought his story and tradition to America. Over the years, legend was wedded to historical elements and developed into our modern day Santa Claus.

While we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, we can have an appropriate appreciation for the lives He has touched. This includes those whose lives demonstrated compassion and selflessness out of their love for Jesus. St. Nicholas was such a person.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Money matters

I'm very excited about one of the classes that one of my kids will be taking through our homeschool co-op: a twelve week class called "Money Matters" aimed at teaching the kiddos a bit about managing their money responsibly. I wish I had spent a little more time learning about that kind of stuff when I was growing up. Perhaps it would have spared me some costly mistakes.

My husband and I had a nasty brush with getting over our heads in debt a few years back, and we had to do a lot of research into the options that were available to dig out from under. It is such an overwhelming spot to be in, until you realize that there are helps available. One of the things that we checked into was debt settlement, a process where you get help negotiating with lenders to reduce interest rates and even amounts of debt, to make getting out of debt a little bit easier. There are even more options out there now than there were then, thankfully.

I've come across a company recently called NetDebt. They've revolutionized the debt industry by creating the nation’s only completely online enrollment solution. Their entire process is online. They have representatives standing by if you need them, but don't require monthly counseling sessions and such, that can be tricky to fit in if you're trying to work extra hours to get out of debt! I haven't used their services personally, but it looks like it merits checking into. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

1 Corinthians 13 - Christmas Style

I came across this neat interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13. It's full of good reminders for all of us this holiday season. I think I should print this out and stick it on my fridge, or maybe on my forehead :). Have you read this before?

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style
©By Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family - It profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Monday, December 8, 2008

An Obesity Epidemic

I was reading some back magazine issues today and found an article in a Ladies' Home Journal Magazine that gave these statistics:
  • 16% of 6 to 19 year olds are overweight, triple the proportion in 1980
  • 43% of adolescents watch more than 2 hours of tv each day, with additional time spent on computer and video games
  • Only 31% of parents of obese children are aware that their children are very overweight
  • 71% of ninth graders take physical education , compared with 40% of 12th graders
  • Being overweight increases a teen's chance of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression

Scary stuff. I have no idea how those numbers compare to adult statistics, but I'm sure that that those are high too. In our culture it's so easy to be sedentary, and so hard to change once you're there...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Boys being boys?

As my girls get older, and interact more with other kids, I'm noticing that there are definitely differences between boys and girls. Shocking, eh? Really, I went through public schools in the 70s and 80s, and I was kind of fed a unisex ideology. Girls can do anything boys can, and boys can do anything girls can, and there really is no difference between the two. Even when I got married, I didn't fully acknowledge that we were different, just figured I was right and my husband was not quite there with me.... Nice, right? Well, with age comes a little wisdom I guess. Adding a little boy to our home through foster care has been an eye opener too. We've had this little guy since he was a year and a half, little, so we know all that he's been exposed do for a good chunk of his memorable life. We've been careful to not expose him to a lot of violence and junk, just like we were with our girls. Yet, you know what, his plastic golf club has still become a gun. He "shoots" trees with sticks and chases the dog around the house going "pow pow" with a dull pencil. He just naturally, truly on his own, has developed an interest in weapon type stuff. Obviously we're not rushing out to buy him a real gun, but it's got me thinking. Just because there are some kids who have lost it and done horrible things with weapons in recent years, does that mean that it can't be okay for boys to have beebee guns and do target practice? I certainly want to keep my kids and those around us safe, but if my child is interested at looking at Blackhawk CQC Holsters and other "guy things" in catalogs, might that just be a good opportunity to sit with him and look with him, talking about the responsibility of weapon ownership, and of the dangers of not exercising that responsibility and good judgement? I am a firm believer in teachable moments, and think that so often we miss them in being careful to do what we are "supposed" to be doing.
Anyway, that's my random rambling for the day....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walking in the light

If you're like me, you don't always have, or take opportunities to back up and reflect too much. I mean, the kids are around you pretty much non-stop. The to-do list is ever present. You know what, though, even a few minutes can make a big difference. Sneak away for a moment and recharge with this little devotional...

Isa. 50:10: Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God (NIV).
In a world of darkness, it's easy to lose sight of our path. At times, we may feel like we are stumbling through life, trying to feel our way in the dark. But the hope for believers is that there is light, and it is found in the Lord!

Don't get discouraged living in a world of darkness. We will experience God's full glory in heaven soon enough. Until then, obey the Lord. He promises to light your way. By living in obedience to Him and following His leading, we can be an example of hope to our children as they go through life.

Try not to get discouraged by the things of this world. Rely on God as the lamp unto your feet.
Parenting by Design ( was created by Chris & Michelle Groff with Lee Long, MA, LPC to help parents understand the Biblical model for parenting their children. It is a faith-based parenting series that compares current parenting paradigms to the ageless parenting principles in the Bible.

Click here to sign up for your free "Designs for Parenting" newsletter!

Vacation time?

I grew up in western New York state, and as a kiddo we vacationed in southern New Jersey quite a bit. It was far enough away to feel like a real trip, but close enough to not be crazy to drive with kids. Even though we've been near this area in recent years, and even driven pretty much through it, I've never taken my kids on a Jersey Shore beach vacation. I really think that I'd like to, to show them where I went and what I did with their aunts when I was a child. I still remember playing in the sand, diving in the waves, and visiting all of the souvenir shops. We have beaches near us now, but swimming in a lake isn't the same as swimming in the Atlantic ocean. It's definitely a different and memorable experience.

I found a neat resource online in Morey’s Piers. They are a great place for a “New Jersey Vacation” and their website is a great place to find hotels & motels in Wildwood. Morey's Piers is a staple among New Jersey attractions, with its amusement park rides and many other boardwalk attractions. They're even having an annual holiday sale right now, from December 1 through January 9. There are specials discounting nearly 40% on a Season Pass to both waterparks. Wow!! That could make a family vacation a lot more affordable.

I'll have to do a little more digging and a little more planning, but maybe I'll see you at the boardwalk before too long!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


"When you come to a roadblock, take a detour."

-Mary Kay Ash
One of the very cool things about homeschooling is the flexibility that we have to make detours when we need to. If our children are having a hard time learning in a certain way, we can change the way of teaching it. If our children are interested in a certain topic, we can detour from our planned studies and dive into it for a bit. If we need to place more emphasis on something at certain times, even non academic things like character training, we can do that. Our roadblocks don't need to be a source of frustration, but a source of guidance and an opportunity for thinking through our path...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

I'm not super up to date on lots of political stuff, but I received this blurb today... Read through it and let me know what you think. Our children definitely need to be safe, but should it be at the expense of every family? It seems as though it's a slippery slope we're heading down. Anyway, what are your thoughts?

"Imagine If..."
The Reality of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Imagine an Air Force mom, serving her country on a month-long deployment, who learns that her daughter has been secretly removed by local authorities, claiming the child has been "abandoned." Children begin mandatory sex-education at the age of four, regardless of their family's opinions, beliefs, or convictions, and parents are imprisoned if their children fail to receive any of their mandatory vaccinations. Parents live in a state of constant supervision and suspicion.

Imagine if your national government had the audacity to appoint a "guardian" to monitor your child from birth, charged with the legal responsibility to evaluate your decisions as a parent and armed with the legal authority to "intervene, prevent or rectify" any violations of your child's rights. Public and private schools alike are policed by the national government, and classes begin with singing about the principles of peace, tolerance, and the United Nations. Your child's confidential medical records, stored in a nation-wide electronic register from birth until age twenty, can be accessed at any time, without your knowledge, by any physician, teacher, or government social worker in the nation.

Now stop imagining, because for parents in the 193 countries that have ratified the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, each of these scenarios is true.
Read the rest of this article.

Marriage, what's that?

I heard a blurb from Mike Huckabee on a news talk show last night, and he was talking about how our country was designed by our founding fathers to operate within a moral framework, within a certain structure. When parts of that structure start crumbling, we start having problems reverberate throughout our country. One of the most basic parts of our country's framework is the family, and we know that families are having a harder time than ever staying together in recent years. Please take a moment to read this press release from the National Institute of Marriage. It's important, to you, to someone you know, to our country. Thanks....

With the national divorce rate around 50%, there is no doubt that many marriages run into communication problems at some point. There is a communication epidemic. The National Institute of Marriage has created marriage counseling programs and resources utilizing a structure that is the most powerful format they have found for helping couples who feel stuck and hopeless. They have designed several programs to help couples move past the barriers and experience the marriage of their dreams.
NIM's Intensive Marriage Counseling Programs are unique from weekly marriage counseling in three distinctive ways:

· Intensive Marriage Counseling Format: Committing to an extended amount of concentrated time like the 2 or 4 day Marriage Intensive allows people to get to the root of the problem and stick with it in order to work through it. If you’ve been in traditional marriage counseling before, you may have experienced how you spend the first half catching up from the week before, the second half getting into the real issues, and then the time is gone. The Intensive format is designed so that people have the chance to go deeper without many of the other distractions of daily life and have enough discuss to consider solutions.

· Efficiency: One of the first steps in the process is an extensive assessment with some questionnaires. This allows the therapists to gather background information and can get an idea of the best strategy to proceed before you arrive for your session.

· Marriage Counselors: The counselors at the National Institute of Marriage are specialists in this area. One analogy we like to use is that of the Mayo Clinic: people go to their regular physician but may be sent to a specialist to work with specific areas. The NIM marriage therapists have been trained in this format to maximize its effectiveness. Also, the NIM marriage counseling programs provide the perspectives and insight of two professionals rather than one.
If you are considering divorce, you must try the National Institute of Marriage before giving up. They have developed a continuum of care that meets couples wherever they may be in their relationship. Regardless of the health of their marriage they have a service that can help couples improve their marital satisfaction. Visit their website at Read the incredible testimonies from the couples that saved their marriages by attending a Marriage Intensive at the National Institute of Marriage.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saying No

I received this in an email from Parenting by Design, and just wanted to share... It's no fun to say no, but we know that it's necessary sometimes. It's even less fun to hear no as an answer, but we will. Take a quiet moment and read and think on it... Let me know what you think.

Matt. 7:9-11: "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" (NIV).

Sometimes our kids ask for things that are not good for them. We say "no" out of love even though they may accuse us of being mean. We are able to handle their disappointment and anger because we see the bigger picture. Some parents, however, are so anxious to avoid conflict they say "yes" to things that are against their better judgment. They can't bear to let their kids down or they fear their kids' angry reaction.

Parenting provides a wonderful window into the Father's love for us. We may feel as if God is punishing us when He doesn't say "yes" to our prayer requests. But how many times have you prayed for something you later realized would not have been in your best interest? Without realizing it, we sometimes pray for "snakes," but God loves us enough to say "no."

Demonstrate your love by being strong enough to tell your kids "no."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tough stuff

As I've jabbered on about before, one of the things I really like about homeschooling is that we can grab up the teachable moments and really run with them. One thing that I wasn't really prepared to talk to my daughters about yet was the issue of drug and alcohol addiction. I'd like to pretend that this kind of tough stuff isn't an issue for kids their age, but I know that it is. I know that there are kids in middle and junior high schools all across our country having to tap into alcohol rehabilitation services in order to deal with problems that they already have! We have had to hit this topic recently because of someone somewhat near to us having a struggle... Unfortunately they are resistant to help. There are so many great resources out there that it's sad to not use any of them!! I found a place called Promises Treatment Center that does look to offer what it's name says: a promise of treatment. They treat addiction to a variety of drugs and substances, including: Alcohol, Cocaine, Codeine, Heroin, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Oxycodone, and many others. If you find yourself in a place where any of these are an issue, please do check it out. Don't make life harder for you and for your family than it already is. Take the hands reaching out to you!

G is for goat

I've been rambling on here before about my procrastination... Well, tonight at 10:00 I find myself looking for books and material for my preschool class tomorrow, based on a goat. We live in a rural area, so with a little forethought I could probably secure a goat. No forethought here though, and material for preschoolers on goats is pretty thin. When will I learn?!?!?

Learning about ourselves

With the kids with me all day homeschooling, we have opportunities to learn about so much more than academics. Conversations pop up about everything from celebrities on tv to what a lapband surgeon is. The conversations so often feel like they're taking us away from our studies, but I need to step back and realize that I've got a unique opportunity to help them learn to make sense of the world that we live in. Our learning may not always organize neatly on a planner, but learning we are!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

First Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Thanksgiving day doesn't really mean much more to most folks than a big meal with family, does it? A fun thing, a good thing, but not what it was intended to be. Check out what George Washington said when declaring a nationwide observance of Thanksgiving. Read it through slowly and really chew on it... Thoughts?

A Thanksgiving Proclamation
October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.

-George Washington

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Panama, anyone?

I have not traveled tons outside of our country, but I have traveled enough to know that you can learn a lot more about another culture when you actually allow yourself to be immersed in it, ideally academically and physically. If it is financially a possibility, traveling with your children is a huge plus in their learning. There are more and more options available in the way of doing this. You can stay at conventional hotels, timeshares, and all sorts of varieties of these. I found a neat looking condo style hotel in Panama - Hotel Casco Antiguo - that might offer a chance to really get to know another country and its culture.
You can Register for an eBrochure Here to get more information about it for yourself. It looks like a really interesting location, and in this day of uncertain investments, a second home that you can physically touch is a nice concrete investment, I would think. Our family is not quite in the place to do this right now, but if you have done something like this yourself, share. I'd like to know how it worked out for you!


Monday, November 3, 2008


Tomorrow is a big day in our country, a big election. Hopefully you've registered already (too late now!), so now just be sure to get out and vote!! Times polls are open can be found here, so check it out, make your plans, and don't miss it tomorrow!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Extra-curricular game time!

My kids are a little young to be doing too much in the way of gaming. We have an OLD playstation in the basement, but that's about it. As they do get older, though, especially if our little boy ends up staying here, I'm sure that we'll get much more aware of all of the gaming units and the fun that they can offer. And you know, in moderation, they are a great "extra-curricular activity." I know that it really helps my girls to know that there is some sort of a treat available at the end of their schoolwork each day, and this might be the magic carrot for us down the road!

Combine the above with my interest in things free, and the Charter Communications Xbox Sweepstakes has caught my attention! Here's the deal. If you order any Charter service online or even just register, you'll be automatically entered to win an Xbox 360! They'll be giving one away every day until December 15th. Ooh - free Christmas present!!!

Here are the details on what's actually being given away:
  • XBox 360® Pro Console
  • XBox LIVE Headset
  • Wireless Controller
  • Component HD AV Cable
  • 20Gb Detachable Hard Drive
Ooh ooh, I should probably let you know what services Charter offers. Good stuff for gaming, but also for your schoolwork, home business, whatver. They offer HD and "blazing fast" high speed internet. They even offer a risk free trial period for 30 days, so why not?

Let me know if you win - I sure will share if I do! :)


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't forget to change your clocks back one hour this Sunday!!!

Discoveries in art and history

I was digging around for an idea for art at co-op tomorrow and thought of using stencils (it's munchkins doing art, and I'm not feeling in a super messy mood - we've done plenty of those lately :)), so did a google search for art involving stencils. I came up with this photo taken in "Cuevas de las Manos" in Argentina. It's estimated that these handprints were stencilled in 550 B.C. . So 550 years before Christ was born as a babe, some young men were holding blow pipes made with bones, and spraying mineral paint over their hands to make these hand stencils. Pretty wild that they've been preserved so well for so many years. I'm sure part of it has to do with where they are in the caves, but still, pretty neat to get a glimpse back into someone else's life, and even into their art projects :).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teaching vs. Assigning

I received this email from HSLDA, written by Betty Statnick, and it's a great read. It's meant for parents of struggling learners, but really, they, and we, all struggle to a certain extent, don't we? Grab a cup of coffee and read for a moment. It's one of those realigning yourself reads....

There is not a shred of doubt that you have been called to homeschool. Your child was making minimal academic progress in his previous school setting and you reasoned that surely he can do better than that at home under your instruction.

However, you have been homeschooling for six weeks now and you are not as far along in your teaching him as you had expected to be by this time. Something else tries to whittle away at your confidence, for you overhear your child’s homeschool friend boast that he is already on page 65 of the same math textbook that you and your child are inching your way through. That comment may initially have been ego-deflating, but it has the potential to spur you on. You determine that you will not retreat; you have your assignment from the Lord to teach this child.

You will need to remind yourself that even a robot can “bark out” assignments: “Work page 32 in math book. Do page 25 in your language workbook. Reading textbook: Read the story beginning on page 40 and answer the questions at the end of that story.” In that sort of setup, you would simply function as a study hall monitor who would peek in occasionally to see if your child appeared to be on task.

Teaching, however, is in stark contrast to that kind of arrangement. As one homeschool mom quipped, “Teaching is not just checking off pages and clocking in time.”

Guidelines are valuable and published curriculum can help steer you toward your goal for your child to achieve his maximum potential. There are some red flags in selecting curriculum. For instance, you may have purchased a highly recommended curriculum that is at the grade level where your child is “supposed” to be. After using this curriculum, you come to realize that your son has scattered skills: He is on grade level in math but below grade level in Reading, so you must select other materials for instructing him in reading. (Note: If a child has trouble decoding/pronouncing five words on a page, that text is above his current functioning level.)

There are also published scope and sequence charts. “Scope” tells what is taught and “sequence” tells when (at what grade level) it is typically taught. Some parents refer to a scope and sequence chart in their eclectic approach to selecting curriculum materials. That is, they may purchase math materials from one publisher and reading and language arts materials from a different publisher.

You do not always have to be “locked into” exactly when to teach something. A teachable moment may occur at any time. For instance, there may be a need or desire to know something which isn’t “scheduled”—according to the textbook—to be taught until 50 pages later. Free yourself to seize that teachable moment when your child has high motivation to learn. Other circumstances may also require that you deviate a bit from “routine.” I was helping to homeschool a teen whose mom forewarned me that he was in a foul mood on that autumn day. I told her not to worry—that her son and I would take a parts of speech walk for that particular day’s session. In our trek along the bike trail, we “retrieved” (not picked up) “crimson” (not red) and “gold-colored” (not yellow) leaves, etc. That lesson about vivid verbs and more precise adjectives didn't involve use of pencil and paper. However, that teen became actively engaged in the learning process, and he left my home in a cheerful frame of mind. Remember: Curriculum is to be a tool to assist you and not a tyrant to enslave you.

Some schoolwork is just plain hard work. However, schoolwork can also be delight-driven, interesting, and relevant—not just workbook-based. For instance, when you are presenting lessons on fractions, “take to the kitchen.” Bake pizzas, and cut them into halves, fourths, eighths, etc. and everyone will enjoy eating his fractional portion of those pizzas. Connecting learning to everyday life and showing your child practical applications will help to cement learning. You will know that your child has really grasped a concept or skill you have taught when he can apply it in other settings.

It’s not just the what and the when you are to teach but also the why and the how. You address the “why” because you are considering not just your child’s present but also his future. You are thinking long range—about his possible post-high school education, about his employment, and about his becoming a marriage partner. All of these things must be on your prayer list as well as on your heart when you are teaching.

Carol Barnier, author-speaker and veteran homeschool mom, sums up the “how”: “Don’t call anything “teaching’ unless it results in ‘learning’… Find out what sparks her (your child’s) enthusiasm, secures her attention, and pulls her in. Set aside traditional assumptions about how your child should learn and begin the journey of finding out how your child does learn.”

There are many published resources available about learning styles and how to use that information to guide your teaching and increase your child’s learning. Among those resources is Howard Gardner’s “Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” He lists these nine intelligences: Verbal-Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, and Existential. Existential is the intelligence that Gardner refers to as “half-intelligence” because he could not find a physiological location for it in the brain. Some have referred to existential intelligence as spiritual intelligence because those who scored high in this intelligence are concerned with life’s big questions like “What is the meaning of life? Why do we die?” Remember that no teaching is really complete unless it also addresses those big questions as defined by the Word of God.

Bon voyage as you continue this year of teaching—not just assigning.

Points to Ponder

Am I modeling before my child enthusiasm about learning?

Do I say “I don’t know” and just move on when we come to a question we can’t answer or do I stop and model the look-it-up habit? (In other words, do I guide my child in learning how to find the answers?)

Do I allow myself to take detours from the workbook and manual to embrace teachable moments?

Isaiah 48:17

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.”

teaches = lamad (in Hebrew): To instruct, train, prod, goad; teach: to cause someone to learn. The origin of the verb may be traced to the goading of cattle. Similarly, teaching and learning are attained through a great variety of goading, memorable events, techniques, or lessons. (from Strong’s Concordance)

Luke 2:47

“And all who heard Him (Jesus) were astonished at His understanding and answers.

understanding = sunesis (in Greek): Literally “a putting together;” hence: quickness of apprehension, the critical faculty for clear apprehension, intelligently assessing a situation. Comparable to the modern idiom, “putting two and two together.” (from Strong’s Concordance)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Math Games!!

I found a great math resource at a website titled Hooda Math.

A middle school math teacher named Michael Edlavitch developed this website to give students a place to practice their math while having fun. It's got a variety of games to work on a variety of skills, and is designed for grades 1-8. We can use all of the help we can get, right?

Check it out :).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Mom?

Good Mom, Bad Mom, Good Mom

Lysa TerKeurst

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26(NIV)


Good Mom?

Bad Mom?

Good Mom?

Bad Mom?

Do you ever feel as though you are the ping-pong ball in a heated match bouncing constantly between feeling like a good mom to a bad mom?

One minute I have a great discussion where my child finally gets it... GOOD MOM!

The next I get an e-mail from a teacher that lists the three parents who have yet to turn in that permission slip and I am on the list for all the world to see... BAD MOM!

I calmly handle the stresses of the morning routine... GOOD MOM!

But then during the afternoon homework session, my child's irresponsibility over a last minute project just about sends me over the edge. I find my neck muscles tensing and my voice rising... BAD MOM!

I make sure they pack something healthy for lunch... GOOD MOM!

The schedule falls apart in the late afternoon and I wind up feeding them sugar cereal for dinner... BAD MOM!

Sometimes I feel like that ping-pong ball mom bouncing from feeling good to bad. Yesterday morning I sat down at the kitchen table after getting everyone where they needed to be and cried. Sometimes having kids is the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. Other days I feel like the task of parenting little people is driving me to the brink of craziness.

Just the other day I was processing some recent family things with my friend, Renee, over the phone. Suddenly a strange theme seemed to arise. I just started laughing. I told Renee that so many of my days seemed to tell the same kind of story... I was on the verge of a breakdown and then I spent time with Jesus and He made things better.

Renee quipped back to me, "Well, isn't that where most of us live every day?"

Not that we are on the edge of a breakdown, but we live in a place of utter dependence on God. I know as a mom, I live in constant need of His love, encouragement, wisdom, perspective, strength, patience, and grace.

Anything I do right as a mom is because of my constant dialogs with God.

Anything I do wrong as a mom is because of trying to do things in my own strength and slap wearing myself out.

That's where grace steps in. And I need lots of grace. God's grace steps in and says, "Lysa, you are doing better than you think. Stop bouncing from feeling good to bad to good to bad. In the good times, rejoice and thank me. In the not so good times, call out to me quickly."

And suddenly it occurred to me; with God I'm never a bad mom. I might be having a bad moment... or two... or seventeen. But a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom.

God's grace is there to cover me. Teach me. And even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt me, redirect me, and change me.

Forgiveness is there.

Love is there.

A second chance is there.

You are a good mom my friend even if, like me, you've had a few bad moments... you is the exact mom God knew your children needed. Let's live in that truth today.

Dear Lord, being a mom is a great privilege but one that can be so challenging at times. Teach me how to lean on You with every action and every reaction. And when I mess up, please help me to not define myself by my mommy failures. Help me to only be defined by Your love that assures me and Your grace that covers me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Paper and Art Sale

Hey guys - not a paid post or anything like that, but I got an email about a really good art supply, curriculum, and paper sale that I wanted to share. I've bought things from these guys before and they really have nice quality products, so when you can get them for a reduced price besides, that's very happy! Let me know if you end up ordering stuff - what'd you get? We can compare notes....

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Money stuff

My girls are only 8 and 10, but they have picked up on the fact that our country is in a bit of a money problem right now. I'm trying to make the most of this "teachable moment" without scaring them to death. We've talked about debt, about people getting in over their heads, about the government's role in the economy, fun stuff. They've also seen some of it play out here in our home and in our family's business. We added credit card processing to our business last year, as a method of payment, because so many people really rely on credit to pay for just about everything. It's a nice option to offer, and has perhaps led a few people to choose us for their business, so I'm glad that we did, and, like everything else, the girls asked questions about it as they saw me setting it up on our website. I think this is my favorite part of homeschooling, as well as the part that scares me the most - they see everything I do!!! It definitely challenges me to try my best to do it all the right way, without regrets.....

Saturday, October 4, 2008


"The future depends on what we do in the present."

Mahatma Gandhi

I like that quote. What I'm doing today, and I'm thinking of all of the time and energy I'm investing in my kids, is hugely impacting the future. That gives taking five minutes out of my "plan" a new sense of importance, doesn't it? That changes up priorities on the daily level.....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Second Chances

"How many times in your life have you wished to go back in time and do something over? Maybe you wouldn't have bought that expensive car, chosen that college, or passed up an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. All of us would like a "do over" in something."

This is the beginning of a great, encouraging devotional for the homeschooler in need of a second chance (that'd be all of us, I think :) ).

Are you interested in a printed version of this devotional? Then check out the new Daily Focus devotional book, perfect for your own Bible study or as a gift. Order your copy today!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Are you really a homeschooling family?

How long do you need to teach your children at home before you "officially" become a homeschool family? Like the tests that evaluate a child's academic performance, you can assume homeschooling has arrived at your house when the following are true:

You have more books in your house than groceries.

Your children show up for school in their pajamas.

Your house d├ęcor consists of time lines, maps, assorted craft projects, and half-finished science experiments.

Your trips to the library require a laundry basket to hold all the books.

Your refrigerator is perpetually covered in art projects and completed assignments.

Your children think reading history is best achieved while lying on your bed with the family cats.

Your kitchen pantry holds more school supplies than cooking supplies.

Your child's favorite classmates are his siblings.

Just a silly one, but how scary that each thing is true!! :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why Math?

I had a little debate with my ten year old today about the merits of completing her math lesson. Ironically, I just read an old email from Home School Heartbeat today on this very subject.

Professor Fred Worth shares:

From a purely practical standpoint, the more mathematics you learn, the more you have a chance to use it. There are numerous areas in life where mathematics can be used. Geometry and algebra are very helpful in building projects, and understanding statistics and logic can be helpful when trying to analyze advertising, speeches, polling data, and so on.

And having a strong mathematical background can present people with more diverse career opportunities. Many career paths require mathematical expertise. Our pharmacy and pre-med majors have to take a lot of mathematics. Even in the social sciences, a number of majors require statistics courses.

But, Mike, I think one of the greatest benefits of a good mathematical background is the development of thinking skills. Studies have shown that a good high school geometry course is a great indicator for college success. That’s because, in order to do geometry well, you have to think logically and often deal with multi-step problems. The problem-solving skills developed in order to do word problems are also useful in all kinds of areas. You have to be able to recognize what’s important, how to break it down into parts, have an orderly process for doing it, and all of that is useful, even if we don’t ever do any mathematics ever again.

First Step

I like this quote for someone just starting out in homeschooling, or just thinking about starting out.... (not what it was intended for, but it certainly applies!)

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dry times

Have you ever experienced those moments during your homeschooling year when creativity seems to have shriveled? You know your lessons, but the inspiration on how to make them fun has dried up. Your children have already done the suggested activities in your teacher manuals, and they need something new. You try to think of what to do, but the ideas are just not there.

The above is just the beginning of a devotional from AOP (click link for the rest!!) but is something that I'm sure we all struggle with... For me a key part of keeping going is being plugged in, to other homeschoolers who act as a support, and also to my God. How do you keep going during your own dry times?

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Monday, September 29, 2008

As close as it gets

"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6).

As I read the statistic on the Internet, all I could say was, "Wow, praise God!" According to the National Home Education Research Institute's website, approximately 1.9 to 2.4 million children were educated at home in the United States during 2005 and 2006. What a difference from when I started homeschooling in the early 1980's! At that time, there were only an estimated 50,000 children being educated at home each year. As I considered the figures and did the math, I realized that since 1985, homeschooling has grown over 4,700%!

Are you interested in a printed version of this devotional? Then check out the new Daily Focus devotional book, perfect for your own Bible study or as a gift. Order your copy today!

The incredible growth of homeschooling in America can be attributed to many factors. However, I think the greatest factor is that parents are rediscovering God's original design for the family. Children and parents were never meant to be separated for days (sometimes weeks) with overloaded schedules that keep them passing in the night. How can any family be expected to have loving relationships with that routine? Homeschooling continues to grow because it provides a unique, nurturing environment where families can communicate throughout the day. Loving bonds are formed, and mutual respect is cultivated between siblings and parents. With God as the head, the family functions as He intended, and we reap the rich blessings of family togetherness.

Like our homeschooling families, God never intended for us to live apart from Him. Daily, we must come to Him in prayer and Bible study to continue to grow spiritually. Without the loving and nurturing guidance from the Holy Spirit throughout the day, we will lose the intimacy God desires with His children. How about you? Can you remember the last time you had a heart-to-heart talk with Him? If not, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8a).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quiet encouragement

Perhaps I'm overdoing in sharing these little thoughts from Alpha Omega Publications, but they are just right on target for me, so I figured I could share with you too....

"But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:3-4).

Children love secrets, and one joy I experienced as a homeschooling parent was teaching my children the thrill of being secret gift-givers. Following Christ's illustration in Matthew 6, I encouraged them to ask God's guidance to think of ways to bless their family, friends, and neighbors. At first, this task was difficult, since little ones like to tell everything they know. However, as my children grew older, not only did they become thoughtful and generous givers, they also became quite adept in disguising any connection with the gift. Countless times, I found myself humbled and encouraged when receiving a gift at day's end without knowing who had laid the treasure on my pillow.

What about your homeschooling family? In a world where most people are trying to take and get ahead, teaching your children to give secret gifts from God can seem quite contrary. Like Christ Jesus who died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), help them bless another homeschool family, church family, or unsaved neighbor near you today. Let your children discover the exciting truth of Acts 20:35b: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poetry and reading ideas

I read a great write up on literature by Mike Smith, of Home School Heartbeat, and thought I'd share...

Fall provides a perfect opportunity to explore the works of many regional poets and storytellers. Do you remember learning James Whitcomb Riley’s poem "When the frost is on the punkin" as a child? Your children will delight in the rich dialect and colorful images of that fall favorite!

From John Keats"Ode to Autumn" to Robert Frost’s poems celebrating New England fall, explore the poetry of the season with your children. You might check your library for poetry magazines and journals, which often contain topical or seasonal poems.

The rhythms and rhymes of poetry appeal to children of all ages, so even if your child can’t read yet, he’ll enjoy hearing you or your older students read fall poems aloud to him.

Once your older students have read some fall poetry, consider having them analyze the form of the poem. Guides to the rules and patterns of poetry are available online, in literature textbooks, or in books at your library on how to write poetry. Finally, have your student write her own autumn poem.

You may also enjoy reading aloud favorite short stories of autumn, such as Washington Irving’s "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and seasonal selections from longer works, like the "Little House on the Prairie" books.

There are many classic autumn picture books for your youngest learners, including "Ox-cart Man"; "Hello, Harvest Moon"; and Reeve Lindbergh’s "Johnny Appleseed."

Have fun reading together!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Free Curriculum Contest!

Would you spend two minutes to win an entire year's worth of curriculum? That's all the time it took Rebecca Day from Amarillo, Texas, to register in last year's spectacular homeschool giveaway at Alpha Omega Publications® (AOP). After winning the grand prize of $500 in homeschool curriculum, Rebecca wrote, "It was such a blessing to get your phone call about the prize! This is going to help our family out tremendously!"

Now, here's your opportunity! Register to win in this year's giveaway at AOP. From now until February 28, 2009, enter for your shot at the grand prize of $500 in award-winning homeschool curriculum, or other prizes like a complete, 5-subject set of Switched-On Schoolhouse® computer-based curriculum, the fully animated Character Builders™ 8-DVD set, or a complimentary copy of the uplifting and encouraging Daily Focus® devotional book.

Don't miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain outstanding curriculum and products for your homeschooling family. It's easy to enter. Simply click REGISTER NOW below and fill in your information. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age, and there is a limit of one entry per household. For more details, check out AOP's contest rules when you enter and remember that no purchase is necessary. Don't delay. Register to win today!

Who should enter AOP's Homeschool Giveaway?


AOP's Giveaway Prizes:

Grand Prize:
$500 in Homeschool Curriculum

1st Prize:
Switched-On 5-Subject Set

2nd Prize:
Character Builders 8 DVD Set

3rd Prize:
Daily Focus Devotional Book

Saving money when homeschooling

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