Does the Pot Have a Right to Pride?

Even more difficult to extract is the pride that drives judgmental Christians to mock the Spirit’s work in a man seeking his Creator. That sin could take decades to discover. Grace means that we are all works in progress, and God shaves off our rough edges in His timing.

I’ve learned some thing extremely important over the last few years. The pride of assuming that “I” am always right, that “I” know everything. 

While there IS a definite TRUTH and RIGHT, often we are all somewhere on a spectrum of that being revealed to us inside our hearts. Because how in the world can you really really KNOW until you have lived it? In His infinite wisdom, He might have chosen to reveal certain items to ME, not be because I deserve it or are worthy, but because of the change that truth is supposed effect. In ME. It is to expose our lack. 

To presume I know ALL right and wrong, even if I do, would put me in a place of pridefulness, and then judgmentalness. 

Two things we are expressly warned of – pride and judging. Pride in my own self, as if my mental faculties could presume to grasp the infinite scale of God’s work and plan. 

God’s goal was never for us to be “RIGHT”, it was for us to be HOLY. 
And so, even when I feel “right”, even when I know the “truth,” my place is not to be preening in that knowledge, but to be humbling myself and bowing low. LOW. Because that fall from pride is far, and the splat when one hits the ground isn’t pretty. 

Every time we feel this “rightness” it should drive us. Not a drive to “preach” or judge, but pray with compassion for that person. To shell out buckets and buckets of undeserved love, heaps and heaps. Just as it was given to us.

Because we as pots that are perhaps more formed than a newer piece of clay, know that the Potter’s wheel can HURT. We’ve been there. And we’re still there. 

Because none of us are fully completed. 

Not yet.

Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 3


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This is part of a series, Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here.

7. Set up Systems. Make Your Routines and Life Easier.

Another thing I’ve been working on over time, is setting up a “command center.” It’s still in process, but is slowly taking shape!

First, I have one small area specifically for the girls. It’s a bulletin board in the hallway between their bedrooms and their bathroom. This is for their “morning routine charts” (more coming on this later) and they can also pin up items they want to keep there.

I also have an area in my office – a hanging file holder from Thirty-One Gifts – where I hold items I don’t want to lose. (If I can lose it, I absolutely will!) Bills, gift cards, membership cards that we have, etc. Also, because our office room is right by the front door, I also have copies of of our HSLDA membership cards and homeschool information here. Pennsylvania is one of the most regulated (difficult) areas of the US to homeschool, and I had my first run-in with the local school board right after we moved here. So, I’m a bit paranoid, yes, but if needed, I can quickly and easily grab contact information and have it ready.

Newest, is our “command center” in our kitchen area – actually on the side of our fridge! We have a large open-concept main floor, and this is easily accessible and viewable. Along with magnets holding important numbers (exterminator, energy company, etc) We have added several magnetic dry erase boards. One is for the girls – I list their daily school assignments and chores on it and they wipe them off as they complete them. I might add another next year, so my oldest can get used to start being responsible for her own work assignments.

I also purchased a calendar dry erase board this summer. Originally I was going to make a very fancy menu planning list that I’ve seen on Pinterest,  but at the rate I’m going, it will be years before that actually happens. This was done and easily adaptable to my needs. We’re still working on making this work for us as a family, but at least now we’re not waiting on needing to make it pretty too. (I also bought a bunch of dry erase markers during back-to-school sales at Staples at a fabulous price!) Sometimes I’m embarrassed by how much this little thing excites me, but if it solves my dinner dilemma, it’s worth every single penny!

8. Have Fun! Enjoy Your Summer and Get Outdoors!

After doing this all summer it feels a bit that I have been “drudging” all summer. I have, to a certain extent. BUT, I would recommend you take advantage of all the summer has to offer– get outside, soak up the Vitamin D, and enjoy the sun! All too soon, winter will come and we will all be stuck indoors moaning over the 6 feet of snow blocking our front door! Enjoy it all while you can, build up those memories of pools, Popsicles, and homemade ice cream with your kids!

Please share with me your own ideas to help your year run smoothly! What do you suggest??

Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 2


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This is part of a series, Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 1 can be found here.

I find that most blog posts about preparing for a homeschool year, focus solely on curriculum choices and setting up your homeschool area. While those are both very important (and fun!) topics, I believe there are more tips that we can share that will make your life as a homeschooler EASIER!

4. Fix What is “Broken.”

At the end of last May, I had several ideas about what had stopped working for us in our homeschool experience. Well this summer is the time to make those changes! First, I changed my work schedule to the mornings, so I could free up our afternoons and then be able to take advantage of more extra-curricular activities and homeschool park days. I wasn’t sure how this would really work out, but blessedly it has been great!

Because of this, the girls were having to take all of their homeschool items out of the “classroom/office space” every morning and spread out over the dining room table, and then put it back every night. That was fairly disruptive (and I was often having to nag them to constantly put things away). Yet, they love their school desks and didn’t want to get rid of them! So, this summer I did a re-arrange. I moved the table for their computers back into the office space – they can do their computer-based work with headphones while I’m on client calls – and their desks are now in the kitchen area where the table used to be. Now their desks can hold all of their workbooks, etc and they can sit their and do their workbook work in the mornings. We haven’t tried it out yet, but I think it work well.

Having their table in my office allowed me to create a “charging station” for the tablets, and I can now keep stronger visual control over their electronics. This is something my husband and I wanted to implement, but weren’t quite sure how.

5. Purge Out the Junk! Clean It Out!

I took a lot of time this summer to clean out the classroom/office space. While moving items around, I also took the opportunity to clean out used curriculum for sale, throw out old papers and do a deep clean of the space. This morphed into perhaps a bigger project than I intended, but has turned into a very-overdue entire spring cleaning of the house! I know it sounds crazy, but I am looking to having it all done. These are all the cleaning projects that I put off during the year because I have no time, things like cleaning out the inside of the fridge and wiping out the cabinets that have gotten gross, straightening and organizing the linen closets, and even shampooing carpets.

It’s also a good time to purge the girls closets of clothes that are too small, and purge out their playroom. I then was able to take advantage of the back-t0-school sales so that we replace what they needed for the fall.

I think of this as setting myself to start the year off right. And also, get all these annoyances out of my way.  (Really, you have no idea how much I am looking forward to this all being done!)

6. Deal With Dinner.

Dinner is the ultimate worst. Not only is it the witching hour for the kids, but I feel mentally drained as well, and at 5pm the last thing I want to think about is what I should cook for dinner. I dread it. Not the cooking, but the thinking and deciding. So much so, that I went on strike all summer – forcing hubby to be in charge (he didn’t mind as much, he just grilled every single day). BUT, even that much helped him understand what a total pain it is to do. And my being Celiac, and needing to have only gluten-free meals, really doesn’t make it easier.

Since our favorite “meal assembly store” closed down last year, we’ve been scrounging. Working without a meal plan is just no longer working. One of my long project this year has been to organize our recipe stash and set up my own system for frozen meals. I tried my first big prep session this weekend, and I think we can make this work for us when we get the hang of it. I even tried out several new recipes that seemed like they would freeze well, so I’m looking forward to having meals ready to pull out this fall.

This won’t take the place of prepping/cooking completely, and hubby is now fully on board with helping out more with meals (now that he realizes how much work is involved). He will probably continue to grill as long as the weather holds throughout the fall. I stocked up our freezer with a run to Costco, so as long as we pull it out to defrost (the catch) in the morning, we should be able to ready for meals with just minimal grocery runs for fresh items.

I also recommend having multiple crockpots ready to use! Both of mine died over the summer, and I took advantage of the “off-to-college” sales to replace them. With our evening schedule now much busier, I will rely on them, and on frozen meals, constantly during the week. And I’m constantly scouring for new, healthy, easy, gluten-free meal recipes!

Coming up next, I have a few more tips to get ready for your homeschool year! Please share with me your ideas! What do you suggest??

Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 1


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I can’t believe it, we are about to start our SIXTH homeschool year! How in the world did that happen?? Wasn’t it just yesterday we were doing this?

Abby's first day of homeschool

Our Very First Day of Homeschool, 8/2011

So, like everyone else, we are prepping for our school year to start! I thought I’d share a couple ideas that I’ve implemented this summer; hopefully they are useful!

1. Figure out your extra-curricular activities first!

Last spring, my girls decided they were “over” dancing, and wanted to do sports. What sports they didn’t know. So, we spent several weeks this summer trying different “sport camps” out, and finally settled on swimming! So, both girls will be doing swim lessons and the intramural swim team at the YMCA this year. I got this signed up and registered this week, and already purchased the required items (suit, swim cap, goggles) and popped them in a bag READY TO GO the first day. It’s done!


This will be in addition to American Heritage Girls which we love. Since this is my final year as the Troop Coordinator, I spent a lot of time this summer trying to organize everything to get it ready to turn over and easily replicate for next year. (Organization has been one of our weaknesses in leadership. We’re trying to change that.) Thankfully I think all that work is going to pay off and make this next year run much more smoothly! Which is important, the stress of the insanity last year about did me in.

I also adjusted my work schedule, so we would be more able to participate in some of the local homeschool group park days. I am really looking forward to spending time OUT of the house this next year! Isn’t that supposed to be the fun of homeschooling?

2. Plan “school” around your extra-curriculars and “life”!

Once that is all done, I brought out my handy calendar, and started laying out the full year. This is more for ME, because I am very visual. I need to be able to SEE what days are booked with activities already. This also helps me from double-booking myself!

I add in everything – holidays, our extra-curricular activities, upcoming scheduled events for myself (I have a couple scrapbooking retreats planned for me this year!), family visits, homeschool group field trips, and even the local public school calendar! It’s great to know when our neighborhood friends will have days off, I can plan to have lighter homeschool days so that the girls can play with their friends. (We have a great neighborhood!)

And now that I have everything in one place, I can really see what our year will look like and start to plan! What days are heaviest – and then I should schedule a lighter “school” day? When should I plan in some breaks in the calendar- like Thanksgiving week, Christmas break, Spring Break, etc? Also, because we must have 180 days of school here in Pennsylvania, I plot out to make sure I have planned enough days and in time to finish sufficiently early so I can get our testing and portfolio review out of the way as well.


3. Plan Out Our Homeschool Work

And then to plan out our homeschool work and plan for the year. More on that another time!


Coming up next, more tips to get ready for your homeschool year! But I’d love to hear your tips! What do you suggest??

Last Minute HEAV Convention Survival Tips



Flyer2016-Front-1000x412This is re-posted from last year, with minor changes.

As I am STILL trying to hurriedly finish labeling books for the UCS, I wanted to make sure these last minute notes got out to all of you!

Here are my last minute survival tips!

1. Have your shopping lists ready! Break it down into your “must get, “would like to get,” and your “I wish I could get” categories! Have a little extra fun money for a few fun toys or surprises, if possible!

Also, break down your list of “subjects” in case you decide to change your mind completely while you’re there. For example, I know I want to teach the girls music theory next year. (Seriously the best way to help a kid understand fractions. I know my background in music was the only way I got through math in 4th and 5th grade!) I don’t exactly HOW I want to teach it or what “books” I want to use. But I know I want to. So, I’ll keep an eye out for that topic while I’m searching the Used Curriculum Sale, etc..

1a. Be sure the convention recordings are on your shopping list. YOU NEED THEM. REALLY.

2. PACK the following: Earplugs so you can sleep peacefully sharing a room with your snoring, “talks in their sleep” family, a good pillow, your camera AND the charger to your cellphone!, and very comfortable shoes.

2a. You guys might think I’m joking about the earplugs and the pillow. But getting a GOOD night’s sleep is vital to surviving a homeschool convention without a mental breakdown. Plus, HEAV starts a solid hour before my brain is fully functioning! (I’m not a morning person. At all. Ever.)

3. Do you have your fun “I’m cool because I’m a homeschooler” T Shirts packed to wear? Because this is the best place to wear them!

4. Make your list of places for dinner! We always take the opportunity to scout out good BBQ. It’s sooooo worth it.

4a. By the way, the convention area is NOT the most gluten-free-friendly area. If you have dietary issues, PLAN AHEAD. Bring your own snacks and be sure you bring more than you think you will need. Oh, and those hotel breakfasts? They are going to be swamped and they’re not gluten-free either. I made the mistake of thinking I was going to be able to eat at the hotel last year. Last year, I had two days of salads with no dressing, and nut bars. I got a bit cranky after eating the 6th nut bar in two days – I need real food, LOL. I will plan much better this year.

5. Plan for sanity breaks. The hallways are wide and you’ll find many folks taking breaks in them. I would also recommend having a hidden stash of chocolate on hand and I plan to bring my “serenity sticks” I made with my essential oils (like a lotion bar). A few Advil for the headache you’ll get staring at math curriculum. Earplugs for listening to music if you need to zone out and decompress for a while.

6. Stock up on Redbox movies on the way for the kids! Definitely worth the price for peace and quiet during the car drive down!

“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

Getting Ready For HEAV???


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Flyer2016-Front-1000x412This is re-posted from last year, with minor changes.

It’s coming! It’s coming!

HEAV’s convention is very very soon!!!

It’s time to make that last minute to-do list of everything you need to get done before hopping in the car. If you’re curious, mine at the moment includes things like “make ask hubby to get a hair cut” and “find mini cassette recorder to use for interviews.” 🙂

While you’re making your plan, I wanted to share with you some advice I’ve been gleaning from some of my homeschooling friends with WAY more homeschool convention experience than me!

And here are my tips from previous years!

Advice for Homeschool Conventions

There were a few overwhelmingly common pieces of advice from pretty much everyone I spoke to. I would even say these are non-negotiable:

1) Wear Comfortable Shoes. Absolutely no one cares what your feet look like. You’re going to be walking the equivalent of a marathon around that convention center, so take care of your feet! Your little piggies will thank you by the end of the day.

2) Take a Cart on Wheels! You can get these a number of places, from Amazon, or even some grocery stores. Others have suggested a rolling suitcase, or a stroller even. I learned this lesson the hard way. I’ll actually be using on of my Thirty-One Gifts bags, which is actually an insulated rolling cart-type thingee. Oh well. My purchases will stay “cool” at least, AND it will be easy to spot amongst the crowds!

3) Return Address Labels. Pre-make labels with your address and contact information on them. This is going to save you from massive writer’s cramp all weekend. Really.

4) Prepare for OVERWHELM. Really. It’s not that the crowds are “Black Friday” or “Disney” bad, but they’re there. For me, it wasn’t the people, it was the STUFF. So much information, so many choices, so much to look at. It was just A LOT on input coming at you.

Everyone had several tips to cope.

  • Just order the mp3s right when you get there. That way you’ll be able to rest in the fact that you won’t have to worry about missing anything. Or, if some of the events are full and you can’t get in, it won’t be such a big deal. You can re-listen to the sessions at your leisure all summer long.
  • Don’t buy anything the first time through the exhibit hall! Do a complete walk through the first time, getting an eye for the different vendors, perhaps checking prices on your first choice items. Talk to the different vendors, get advice and information, that sort of thing. Make your list, and THEN go buy.
  • My advice: If there are particular items that you already know you HAVE to get, I’d at least go ahead and get that out of the way first. Then you’re done and can focus your time on the “extras” or items you need to spend more time thinking about. And, you don’t have to worry that the vendor runs out of your “must have.”
  • Many even recommend leaving your wallet at home and not even purchasing anything at your first convention. If you can do that, then you have mountains more willpower than I do. At the very least, come with your budget in mind. Or, failing that, come prepared with a detailed list of what exactly you MUST have, what you need but aren’t sure what to get, and what your wish list would be. That will be very useful in both the Exhibit Hall and the Used Curriculum Sale.
  • Carry as little as possible with you, because, again, it means carrying it with you. And that is going to get old very quick. However, a water bottle, notebook, pens, protein bars, your return address labels, wallet and cellphone are all great things to have. Just be sure to turn off the ringer to your cellphone during sessions! Hubby and I mainly use our cellphones to find each other when we get separated, etc. If you’re in a hotel nearby, you should be able to run back to the hotel and dump things to start fresh during lunch breaks!
  • Just focus on what is best for your family. No need to deal with all the sessions and vendors that don’t pertain to you. (Such as, we don’t have boys – I don’t go to the booths that sell “boy” paraphernalia. Or the sessions on raising boys. While I’d love to, I have to set boundaries and focus on what my family needs right then. Also, I don’t go to “high school” sessions when we’re only teaching fourth grade. That sort of thing.)
  • If you don’t have to have your kids with you, I wouldn’t. Use the awesome kids programs, get a babysitter, etc. It’s too hard to keep them entertained and also hear what you need to hear. If you do though, be sure to bring items to keep them occupied. Remember, in order to record the sessions and have decent quality, “vocal” children should be taken out of the room.

5) Have fun! Goodness gracious, after all that it might sound like Homeschool Conventions are stressful events. Why would anyone want to go? Well, they can have stressful moments, but last year was also wonderfully inspiring and motivational. I can’t figure out another way to say it, other than I left with my heart completely full.

Talk to people. In this building, for three whole days, you are going to be surrounded by homeschoolers who just want to do their best for their children — JUST LIKE YOU. Make new friends. In this day and age, there is no reason you only have to be friends with the people who live right around you. Bring “business” cards, or those address labels and exchange information. Chat with the folks next to you in line. Be sure to meet the parents of the kids your children make friends with in the kids’ program – you already have a lot in common!

I’m looking at this convention weekend like it’s my mini “homeschool” vacation! Mommy event on steroids!

So, what is my plan?

  • I want to be packed the day before – I know the week leading up to leaving will be insane because I will be working right up until the last moment, so being packed the day before will alleviate a little bit of my stress.
  • We plan to arrive as early as traffic will allow on Thursday – I have a meeting I need to attend, and also I really want to check out the the exhibit hall Thursday night and get some of that stuff done then before all of the speakers the rest of the event. Plus, have you seen all the great events happening on THURSDAY??? If we get there “too early,” we can use that as an excuse to check out the Richmond Children’s Museum before everything gets started.
  • I buy my “must haves” right away, then spend time going over and over the “I know I need something but I don’t know what to get” list. And then in between, as things might catch my fancy, I might sneak them in. Or, if they are truly a splurge I might wait until the last minute. Just in case I can talk myself out of it. Or not.
  • ***New TIP: Are you wavering between buying certain items? TAKE A PICTURE WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE of the item AND the booth where you found it! Then, when you’re ready to go back and purchase, you’ve got that info just waiting for you!!***
  • I’ve got my seminar list ready to go! I’ve highlighted all the ones I want to see
  • I plan to plan our meals ahead of time. Since I went gluten-free, eating is an all new adventure for me, and grabbing a slice of pizza in the exhibit hall isn’t going to cut it. Last year I had quite a bit of difficulty coming up with decent local-to-the-convention-center-food where the line wasn’t a mile long, and I really paid for it. (By the way, food IN the convention center? Expensive.) So, we’ll come with snacks and water for the room, but also, I plan where we’ll eat each evening in advance. At least that way I know I’ll get one good meal a day. Plus, is breakfast added into the cost of your hotel room? Will you have time to eat real bfast? Then we might want to bring something to the room for bfast each morning.
  • Beyond that? I plan to take lots of deep breaths and just relax. Absorb what I can absorb, meet who I can meet, enjoy everything I can, and just take in all the inspiration I can to get me through the next school year!

HEAV- Home Educators Association of Virginia – website

“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

An Update on my Working While Homeschooling

Three years ago, I started a series on Working While Homeschooling.

Day 1 here
Day 2 here
Day 3 here
Day 4 here
Day 5 here

Since then I’ve noticed a huge uptick in interest in this, and so I thought I would share with you guys how my Working While Homeschooling experience has evolved in the past year or so, and then in the future I will continue the original series!

Because, yeah, I’m still working and homeschooling at the same time. This wasn’t the plan, and I keep hoping it will not be the plan soon, but realistically? . . . I don’t see that happening. We are in a big “Dave Ramsey-pay off everything” phase right now, and then comes college savings and retirement and all that, and you get the idea. Though, I do still have the dream of my own business evolving to the point of it being my only “work.” I have some definite ideas on how to make that happen, and am working on developing that. But in the meantime, I’m still working my personal business and a contract for a national organization as well. And as my kids are getting older and needing me less, that will most likely continue!

We keep my “work” very much in mind when make our homeschool plans, and have placed greater importance, especially this year when they are now doing 4th and 2nd/3rd grade level work, on independent learning. Basically, giving the girls at least some work they can do on their own if I am not available to be there. Or, for them to come with me with questions, but mainly complete themselves. I am just not able to be 100% hands-on at this point, and also, they have grown to not want me to be either. They are proud of their independence! And yes, I am constantly having to make sure they aren’t being lazy and are actually completing assignments, and not skipping parts. “Doing your work thoroughly and completely, and to the best of your ability” has been a big part of our process this year.

How in the world are we accomplishing this? First, it has taken us almost the entire school year for them to get to this point (they are almost 10 and 8 as well) of learning how to truly be independent in their work. We also focused on curriculum that makes this possible. We use Teaching Textbooks for math and for spelling (I pull Abeka spelling lists off right from to use!). We have done Bible workbooks or for their devotional time – it was very important to me that they start developing the habit/need of personal devotional time now that they are both young Christians and also can read well on their own. And, it gives me a chance to have my own devotional time! I don’t get to have my own if they aren’t busy with something to do! And I desparately needed that back in my own life!

We started Growing with Grammar and Winning with Writing this year, and while I wasn’t quite sure about it, both girls have really enjoyed it, and have requested it again for next year. These can be done completely independently if I am not available, or they can just come to me when they have questions or don’t understand something. They have had their own handwriting or copywork to do each day. We have used Math Songs and Math Keys to practice the math facts rotating numbers each day. And then I will assign whatever is to be done with whatever current science, literature or World Geography units we are working on.

This year, we began with working together in the mornings and them doing their independent work in the afternoons for most of the year. But just in the past few weeks, we are now changing and adapting our schedule once again. I am now giving the girls their independent work (the majority of their assignments) first thing in the morning, and I am changing my work schedule so I do my client calls primarily in the mornings at the same time. This will hopefully leave most of the afternoons free! During the afternoons, we will do any group projects that my input is still needed for, field trips, errands, or outside activities.

Our girls are now at that age where the time limits my job has put on them is really becoming a problem. We have realized that our girls are having a stronger need for even more time with “friends.” They want more time at the homeschool park days (severely limited on our previous schedule) and they have been begging for more “lessons” – which has been difficult to do when I work in the afternoons. Yes, the dreaded socialization issue!

We hope this will give us more freedom to try out some of the traditional after-school activities. Or hit a museum without stressing about me having to be on the phone at a certain time. I have missed being able to be creative with field trips. That sort of thing. Also, this leaves my afternoons free to explore some of my own creative business ideas when my “office hours” are done, and the kids are playing outside.

I have also found to it feel incredibly freeing to get work out of the way first thing in the morning and then being able to “mentally leave the office” instead of watching the clock all day, so I won’t be “late.” I am looking forward to continuing this through next year as well!

Considering, or New to, Homeschooling?

I recently had a friend say she’s considering homeschooling and ask for advice.  Specifically, she asked for tips, but also why we chose whatever curriculum we chose. Below is some of the advice I shared with her:

I love homeschooling, even though sometimes I want to duck-tape the kids to the wall! (And now that our oldest is entering her prepubescent years, THAT HAS NOT CHANGED. 🙂 )

There are a million ways to go about homeschooling. And tons of things you can do! First, look for local support groups and co-ops and meet lots of homeschool moms. Find a good homeschool convention around you and GO. Talk to bunches of people. Figure out what really will fit you guys the best because that is going to matter most.

Some programs such as Sonlight, for example, are very popular – but for me it was very intense and lots of work on the parent’s part. And very expensive, which I couldn’t justify because at first hubby was not really on board. The same applies to Classical Conversations – it was a bit intense for me, and I have learned I’m not very good about following a group and doing certain things because you kinda have to stay together in your learning with the group. (And pricey for me when you have more than one kid in it.)

When I began homeschooling, I was truly on my own. I knew very few people who homeschooled and had very little direct contact with it, etc.

I started with My Father’s World for the perhaps dumb reason that I had other friends using it, and it wasn’t astronomically expensive. I didn’t really research it much at the time (like I now do). What grabbed me was that it was Christian-based and it was all organized for you. It is what they call “a box curriculum” where you buy a “kit” and that’s it. It had a teacher’s manual that says “do this” and “say that.” Made me feel a lot better as a beginner homeschool mom.

And even though, “doing X because other people are” might have a been a dumb reason to start, we truly fell in absolute LOVE with the MFW program. If I had more kids, we would absolutely go back to it for the K-2 years IN A HEARTBEAT.

I think the MFW K-2 programs are EXCELLENT. We had the best time with those years. I did add a “stronger” math (Saxon) because that made me feel better about making sure they had a strong math knowledge. I stink at math so making sure they don’t is important to me.

I like My Father’s World because its approach is to keep lessons short for short attention spans, lots of hands-on activities, big emphasis on nature and spending time outdoors. My main focus to begin with was to make sure they learn to read. And math of course. Once they can read, they can truly learn whatever the heck they want.

As an example, the K program last about 90 minutes a day which means there is plenty of time to be outside,and do all sorts of other activities. It was more important to spend my time and money on those “field trips” and extra-curriculars, etc. I loved that so little time was spent on “school” (what they think of as school) so they can focus on their own interests and what THEY want to learn and do.

Of course, now that mine are older, it has come back to bite me on the behind. They don’t want to learn what the teacher’s manual tells them it’s time to learn. They want to do what they want to do, which means I don’t have a teacher’s manual to follow anymore. I really miss being able to lean on that!

So, right now we do more of an eclectic, unit-based, notebooking, approach. We are not completely child/delight-led because I still have “control” of what I think they need to learn at this stage – but their input heavily ways in. For example – we know they have to do science. They tell me a list of ideas they are interested in, and I go looking for materials on those topics. And then we start doing them one at a time. (We only did 3 topics last year for science.) I am guessing as they get older and older, they will take more and more independence in this as well.

After that, HSLDA should be your first stop for the legal mumbo-jumbo to review the laws and reporting you need to do. But mainly you need to think about your kids learning styles and yours, and how exactly do you WANT to teach.  But, no matter where you live, it can be done. I currently live in one of the most regulated states in the US, and it is still very doable here.

Here are a few websites that have some good steps:

Homeschool Mom – Getting Started Homeschooling

Successful Homeschooling

Confessions of a Homeschooler

Ooops! Forgot to Announce HEAV 2016 Pass Winner!


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My sincere apologies, guys, I completely forgot that I hadn’t announced the winner to my 2016 HEAV Pass Giveaway!

Congratulations to Karen Phillips! Your family is going to HEAV this year for free!

Congats to Rafflecopter Giveaway Winner!

HEAV- Home Educators Association of Virginia – website

“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

My Biggest Question about the HEAV Convention!


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Flyer2016-Front-1000x412This is a repost with minor changes from previous years!

If you’re a newbie to the HEAV Convention, there was one question I had my first time that I just couldn’t find the answer!

My biggest question:

Dress Code!

I will admit, for my very first homeschool convention, this was a big concern for me! I hadn’t been around a lot of homeschoolers before. Were they are all going to be in long skirts and the ever-so-stereotypical prairie style?

I even chose our clothes with this in mind, and was SOOOO relieved to realize we fit right in!

Yes, there is the “skirt” crowd. Yes, there is the “skirt to the ground” and even the “prairie print dress” crowd. My girls were fascinated by some of the Mennonite attendees which sparked some interesting conversations about “head coverings.”

Yet, to balance all that out, there was the contingent from what I lovingly refer to as the “granola” homeschooling crowd. You know, with the teenager with purple hair and black leather boots and the funky clothes!

And no one batted an eye.

That very first day, I was sitting in the hall in line (can’t remember what for now) and just breathed a huge sigh of relief. I look absolutely normal! I fit right in! I don’t stick out – in fact, with my jean skirt and blouse, I was smack-dab in the middle of the dress code continuum.

And I can’t begin to tell you how good that felt. After homeschooling for only a year with very little “community,” it just felt sooo good to fit right in.

That all being said, I’ll give ya’ll some advice for you newbie attendees:

a) WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! Really. The miles you will walk that weekend will astound you. No one cares if your shoes match or are cute. And after a few hours, neither will you. So, for goodness sakes, be comfortable!

b) APPRECIATE CONVICTIONS OF OTHERS. Obviously what I learned last year was there was not an official dress code for HEAV. But, it would probably be polite to at least take others’ concerns about modesty into consideration when packing! I didn’t go out and purchase a new wardrobe, but I did pick clothes that were on the more modest (not that my clothes are all that revealing, in any case). My skirt came to my knee for instance. My shirt didn’t show a lot of cleavage. My girls didn’t wear spaghetti strap sundresses.  Again, this is not to impose any rules on you, but to just consider others’ beliefs. That’s all.

And for some reason, I feel the need to say we don’t go around wearing super-revealing clothes the other 362 days a year. After re-reading this, I’m not so sure that comes across that well!

c) SWEATER. You might appreciate a sweater in some of those seminars and halls. One you can easily take on and off as the situation warrants, and balls up and be stuffed in your purse easily. But I’m a bit of a cold-nature person anyway!

 “I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”