I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. An advocate of slow food and simple living. A keeper of memories, a collector of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Morning Basket Resources for Protestant Homeschoolers

Morning Basket Resources for Protestant Homeschoolers

Truth, beauty, and faith building.

That's our morning aim. We gather together at the start of our school day for purposeful group learning. Honestly, if we can spend a small bit of time each morning reading good books together...books that breed character, books that foster faith, books that point our hearts towards God and each other...I will consider the day a success. Even if the rest of the day gets derailed.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

2nd Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

2nd Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

My fourth born is a "certified bird nerd." An artist. A gardener. An advocate for all creatures great and small. He's everything I imagined John J. Audubon to have been as a child. He's rarely without a field guide, can usually be found sketching animals, and is always on the hunt for some little critter to add to his window well habitat.

He's my second grader this year. And here's what he'll be learning.

Monday, July 18, 2016

CALLING ALL WRITERS! Wanna Join My Community?

Calling All Writers! The Unlikely Homeschool is expanding and is looking for guest posters and contributing writers.

The Unlikely Homeschool is expanding! I am looking for guest posters and contributing writers.

I get questions from moms from all over the world with very unique circumstances. Because I can only discuss homeschooling from my own perspective and share the tips that have worked for me and my family, I feel that I can't always meet the needs of those in this community. But, maybe you and your story can!

Friday, July 15, 2016

4th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

4th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

I'm definitely not a hand-me-down kind of homeschooler. I know that what works for one child isn't necessarily going to work for the next. That being said, having two kids in back-to-back grade levels definitely has its advantages. As the older one moves out of one grade, I can tweak here and there to make plans fit for the younger one without feeling like I have to reinvent the ENTIRE wheel.

At barely eight-years-old, my son is a bit of a poppy...advanced for his age in most things. But, he also has his own set of struggles.

That's the bonus of homeschooling. It can be made-to-order. He's never really ahead or behind because the finish line is not determined by someone else's scope-and-sequence. It's determined by me.

Here's a look at what he'll be learning this year. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Top 12 Podcasts for Christian Homeschooling Moms

Top 12 Podcasts for Christian Homeschooling Moms

Mothering is not necessarily a profession. Neither is homeschooling, for that matter. But, they are both full-time jobs which can be lived out professionally.

I hold both of these callings in my life to a high standard. Just as I found ways to continue my education back in my classroom days, I'm constantly on the look out for ways to further my growth as a homeschooling mother. I've found numerous parenting books, blogs, and real-life mentors that point me straight, keep my feet moving, and bolster my quiet resolve to do all this well.

But, time is no respecter of persons. I've been allotted the same 24 hours as every mom. It's not always easy to squeeze personal growth into the already full day of a work-at-home-homeschooling mother

Friday, July 8, 2016

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices from an eclectic, a la carte homeschool

Back in my classroom days, the fifth graders down the hall kinda scared me. They had reached the age when school just wasn't cool anymore. They'd roll their eyes and sigh great heaves of exasperation at any and all authority figures.

But my fifth grader? He's naturally curious and passionate about learning. His eyes still light up when he discovers something new. Which is great, because there's lots of NEW on his horizon.

Here's what he'll be learning this year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What We're Reading in July 2016

What We're Reading in July 2016-Big list of books for all ages

This past week, we did something that we have never done in the history of reading aloud together. We made it all the way to the last chapter of The Jungle Book and then stopped. We never read to the final page. The previous four or five chapters had really lagged and never really compelled any of us to linger over the words. For nearly two weeks, we found ourselves making all kinds of excuses NOT to read aloud in an attempt to avoid picking up the book. We spent days without reading and my heart grew heavy. We were all getting a strange homesick feeling during the two week book drought. We missed our afternoon time together. And it was beginning to show on our faces and in our attitudes.

After sloughing through the first three pages of the very last chapter, we took a vote and decided to quit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

8th grade homeschool curriculum choices

It's no secret that I wave my eclectic banner proudly. I'm a firm believer that learning should never be defined by a number or an age. It's personal and should reflect the struggles and strengths of an individual, not the pre-scribed grade level on the side of a text book. 

That being said, should you ever run into my daughter around town and ask, "What grade are you in," she'll politely reply, "I'm in 8th."

However, the truth is a bit more muddled than that.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017

Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017

Our homeschool has always been defined by learning-a-la-carte. We are eclectic and refuse to be boxed in by any one method or mantra. Naturally, my curriculum choices for 2016-2017 reflect my pieced-together style.

In the upcoming school year, I'll have one child in junior high, three in elementary, and one in Pre-K. No doubt, it will be a full year.

Monday, June 20, 2016

101 Reasons Why I #HEART Homeschooling

101 Reasons Why I #HEARThomeschooling

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. My sweet mother-in-love asked me if I would ever consider homeschooling. She had homeschooled both my husband and his younger brother and had fond memories of their days together.

I giggled a little...or maybe a lot...and shouted, "Absolutely not!" with a bit too much emphasis. (Clearly, I hadn't yet learned how to dial back my internal monologue. To be truthful, that's still a work in progress. Sigh!)

I don't even think I had children at the time. But, I was certain that if I ever had any I would NEVER homeschool them! I was an elementary school teacher, after all. I knew that children belong in school. With REAL teachers! (I'll just step over here and eat a generous helping of crow. Carry on...)

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Year of Hygge for Homeschooling

The Year of Hygge for Homeschooling-how to add peaceful rest and fellowship to your year.

It had been eight years...eight filled years of homeschool co-op. 
They were wonderful years. 
Enriching years.

But they were filled years. 

And by the spring of the eighth year, my shoulders slumped. They were no longer wide enough to carry the load of co-operative learning.

I had fizzled out and needed some rest...some sabbath-type rest that would nourish my soul. I had been so busy doing. planning. scheming. filling. for all of my children that I had somehow forgotten about what I needed for homeschool.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dear Me-From-Ten-Years-Ago, Here's What I Know Today

Dear Me-from-ten-years-ago, Here's what I know today (OR a look at what I would do differently in my homeschool if I could begin at the beginning again.)

I got a message in my in-box a few days ago. It was from a sweet friend of mine who reminds me so much of myself (only about ten years younger and more than a few pounds lighter.) She's at the beginning of the homeschooling journey, feels like she has a million-and-one little people clamoring for her attention every waking moment, and is just desperate to do this homeschooling thing well.
Her message was simple. She had recently encountered my oldest son and was impressed with his kindness and respectfulness. She wrote, "He answered the door with such courtesy and friendliness the other day. I was somewhat taken aback by how mature he seems." She went on to say that she sometimes wonders if that will be her son one day.

Friday, June 10, 2016

10 Minute-to-Win It Games for Kids

10 Minute-to-Win It Games for Kids

For my daughter's twelfth birthday party, we gathered a bunch of her besties, some odds-and-ends from around the house, and as much verve as we could muster for an epic Minute-to-Win It style showdown.

It was a battle-it-out morning with each contestant competing for the chance to be declared champion (With gentleness and grace, of course.)

Monday, June 6, 2016

What We're Reading in June 2016

School's out for summer! 
I'm not sure who's more excited about that...the kids or me. To be honest, as a born-and-raised-in-the-southern-sun girl transplanted to the cold tundra-like weather of the upper midwest, I have a bit of a school girl crush on summer. I wait for it with bated breath. The arrival of sun puts a perma-grin on my face that doesn't fade until around mid-September. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Gentle Schooling for Summer 2016

Gentle Schooling Ideas for Summer homeschool

We're hitting "pause" on school for three whole months. But don't you worry. There will be no summer slide around here. Our brains will not turn to mush like last summer's abandoned ice cream cones.


We'll still be learning even when all the school books have been boxed up. Learning is a lifestyle. It's not something that ONLY happens on certain dates of the calendar between certain hours of the clock.

To us, summertime welcomes learning through leisure. The warmer days and light evening breezes usher in a chance to school more gently. More organically.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Come Take a Peek in My Homeschool Planner

The mailman delivered a box today. It looked like a regular, ordinary package. Rather nondescript. He tossed it on the front stoop and hastily sped away never knowing the valuable contents that lay just under the brown packing tape.

Like a crazy woman, I ran to the entry, flung open the door, and began to tear open that simple brown parcel.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How to Make a Boy HATE Reading in 7 Easy Steps

How to Make a Boy HATE Reading in 7 Easy Steps- a list of what NOT to do

It's no secret that there is a definite gender gap in reading. It's not just a national problem, it is a world wide epidemic and has been since the 1970s. Statistically, boys tend to score several points lower on standardized tests in all language arts categories including reading and reading comprehension. And although the 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education does indicate that the gap has narrowed a bit in more recent years, the staggering truth is that when surveyed, 2 out of 3 adults who claim, "I don't read," were men. In other words, while the reading assessment scores of boys might be increasing, their desire to read is not.

As a mother of four boys, I find this disheartening, at best. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

What We're Reading in May 2016

What We're Reading in May 2016- Come take a peek and see all the many books we are reading together-from historical classics to modern fantasy!

We're in the final home stretch of the school year. Our days are winding down. We are rallying and giving it our last push.

But, there's just one little snag in our "rally plan"...

The sun is shining and calling us outdoors.

The sun is calling us out. Our books are whispering us in. It's a tug-of-war during nice weather. Which beckoning call will win? Well, it's anybody's guess, at this point.

Here's what will occupy our time in the last moments of the 2015-2016 school year.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

5 Simple Ways to Ruin Your Homeschool {and what to do instead}

5 Simple Ways to Ruin Your Homeschool {and what to do instead}

It happened again.
I ran into another lovely homeschool momma recently who bore the scars of a bad year.

The slumped shoulders.
The downcast eyes.
The sigh that exhales months of frustration and exasperation.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

This had been a bad year for her. Just one of a string of bad homeschool years. She was tired. She was disappointed. She was ready to quit.

I listened as she slowly unpacked the struggles and wrapped my arms around her in solidarity. I knew her pain. I had heard it from so many other mothers before. I had felt it myself in years past. In that moment, I couldn't tell her the truth. She didn't need it then. She just needed a sympathetic ear.

But, someday soon, I hope to revisit the conversation.

Mommas, can I be really honest with y'all? The kind of honest that my friend might need from me someday? The kind of honest that might sting a little? 

While it's easy to point the finger of failure at our kids, or our curriculum, or our lack of budget. Sometimes, the problem isn't any of these. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Homeschool Shopping Show-n-Tell 2016

Homeschool Shopping Show-n-Tell 2016-come take a peek into my shopping bag

This past weekend was filled with two of my most favorite things...conversations about homeschooling and books...lots and lots of books. I had the privilege of speaking and shopping at the annual Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators Conference. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

50+ Items to add to a Nature Notebook

 After leafing through the lovely pages of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady several years ago, my children and I were inspired to begin nature journaling. The beautiful water color renderings invited us to venture out...to explore...to wander through the woods. But, once we got there, we were a little overwhelmed. What were we suppose to see? What were we suppose to draw? There was so much nature. Here's a list of 50 items to look for in nature and to document in a notebook.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

After leafing through the lovely pages of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady several years ago, my children and I were inspired to begin nature journaling. The beautiful water color renderings invited us to venture out...to explore...to wander through the woods. But, once we got there, we were a little overwhelmed. What were we suppose to see? What were we suppose to draw? There was so much nature.

Friday, April 15, 2016

MUST HAVE Bible Study Resources for HOMESCHOOLED Tween & Teen Girls

MUST HAVE Bible Study Resources for HOMESCHOOLED Tween & Teen Girls- This is a no twaddle list specifically chosen for homeschooled girls

"Mom, I like it fine. But, it's just kind of...well...fluffy," she said one day when we were discussing her personal devotions. And it was true. The devotional book my daughter was currently working through lacked depth. Finding meaty resources for her had been difficult, to say the least. 

So many of the devotional books that line the shelves of the local Christian bookstore are, as she said, full of fluff. On top of that, most are written for girls facing the public school struggles of catty girlfriends, negative peer pressure, and boy trouble...none of which apply to her. 

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

While popular tween/teen devotional books such the One Year Book of Devotionals for Girls and the One Year Be-tween You and God are certainly much-needed resources for the average tween/teen girl. They don't necessarily make for the best Bible studies for my daughter or other homeschooled girls.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Unit Study

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Unit Study-lots of links and videos and HOW TOs

I have no doubt that when the final page of their homeschool is turned and they launch out into adulthood, my children will have wonderful memories of our time together. Most likely, they'll not remember the math drills or language exercises, the spelling lists or vocab words. Even though those things will be cemented in their brains and used often in their "everyday," those will probably not be the memories they will cherish.


They will remember the unit studies.
The enchantment.
All the DOING that we did.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

While I recognize there are many wonderful ready-made unit study curriculums like Five In A Row, KONOS, or Galloping the Globe, I have learned over the years that I'm more of a DIY kinda homeschool mom. I much-prefer to cull resources myself in order to create a tailor-made education for my kids.

That being said, I'm just one momma with a finite amount of time and energy in my day. I can't be inventing the wheel for every subject and for every topic. So, I've developed a quick, just-add-water-and-stir system for developing units and here it is in five easy steps. Feel free to copy my pattern to create unique units for your homeschool.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Medieval Unit: The Vikings

Medieval Unit: The Vikings (lots of links, books, and activities for the Vikings)

My kids have Viking blood in them...or so the story goes. The Hubs is a mix of Norwegian and Danish with some Irish and German thrown in for good measure. He's got the freckled skin and ruddy beard that marks Scandinavian ancestry and has passed his look down to all five of our children. 

So, I've got six modern-day Vikings roaming my house. In fact, one of them actually has a Viking name. (We don't call him Blonde Warrior for nothin'. That's actually the English translation of his real-life Norse name.) Fortunately for me, he doesn't ever go around wielding a bloody ax and such (at least not that I know of!)

Not surprising, when we came to the Viking era in our Medieval History study, we camped there for several weeks.

Here's a list of books, activities, and field trips that helped give us a peek into the life of the ancient Norsemen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I'm NOT an Unschooler...and here's why

I'm NOT an Unschooler...and here's why- My top reasons why I intentionally do not unschool

I was browsing Pinterest the other day and somehow stumbled upon a pin from my own blog. I chuckled to see that it had been pinned to a board entitled "unschooling." Someone had been curating ideas for unschooling and had included one of my posts in the bunch.

So, I giggled just a wee bit.

Not because unschooling is funny.
Or that the idea of an unschooler using one of my posts is somehow funny.

Friday, April 1, 2016

What We're Reading in April 2016

What We're Reading in April 2016-lots of links to great books for homeschool

Last night, I got to introduce my kids to one of my childhood favorites, Disney's Mary Poppins. We finished the book last week and decided it might be fun to see Ms. Poppins in full technicolor. As usual, the movie was not very much like the book. But my kids, having just read all about the many mis-adventures of Jane, Michael, and the twins, actually noticed so many nuances of Disney's version that I had never caught before in the last three decades of watching.

Our family reading culture gave them a frame of reference for and a vested interested in the characters even before they met the Banks on the big screen.

That's what a good book does.

Here's what we'll be enjoying this month.

Monday, March 21, 2016

10 Simple Things to Do to Revive a Boring Homeschool Day {in 10 minutes or less}

10 Simple Things to Do to Revive a Boring Homeschool Day {in 10 minutes or less}

Education doesn't have to be fun.
It should be engaging. Yes.
But fun? I'm not so sure.

A "fun" home education is one in which a mother has to wildly wave her "jazz hands" to create a small circus act. A "fun" education puts the pressure all on her to produce just the right environment. A "fun" education breeds a lazy learner who never explores, creates, or dives-deep because he never has to...information is handed to him on a glittering neon platter.

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Favorite Books for Personal {Momma} Reading

My Favorite Books for Personal {Momma} Reading-lots of titles for different topics and seasons of life

Several weeks ago while playing a mixer game at a women's retreat, I was asked this very weighted question...
"What is your favorite book of all time?"


How in the world can one whittle a life-time of great books down to just one?

Every time I open a book, I'm changed. The words shape me...for better or worse. That's what words do. They seep into my character. The worm their way into my worldview.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

FREE Filtering Resources for Screen Safety

Filtering Resources for Screen Safety

With the launch of Kiddle, a "kid-friendly" visual search engine, earlier in March, talks of safe screen resources and apps have lit up my Facebook feed. Opinions of this site and others like KidRex are mixed. Some say they are filled with political ads and that their filtering options are not stringent enough. Others find them to be a great online search alternative for little eyes.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance (for Homeschoolers) Pros & Cons

Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance (for Highschool Homeschoolers) Pros & Cons

The borrower is slave to the lender. That's wisdom straight out of Proverbs.

Sadly, it's truth that often gets learned the hard way.

One glance down Main Street America shows a nation in bondage because of a lack of contentment...because of overspending...because of a wanton lust for more. The bonds of poor money management and piles of debt are not easily broken and have ruined countless lives and marriages. 

I want each of my kids to leave my home with the tools of freedom, not slavery. 

From the time they were young, they have all received allowance. We doll it out in a rather un-orthodox way. But, having money and learning to spend that money wisely are two totally different things.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Most Favorite Children's Books {Thoughts from a book snob}

My Most Favorite Children's Books {Thoughts from a book snob}

Riddle me this...Is it possible to pick ONE favorite book? 

Isn't that kind of like asking someone to pick their favorite child? Unless you only have ONE child, that's a next-to-impossible request...a catch 22. 

Admittedly, I am a bit of a book snob. I have no time for twaddle. When choosing books for my kids, I'm mindful. I'm purposeful. 

I am training their affections towards books that are well-constructed and that are clothed in literary-rich language. If I can form their pallet with beauty and truth, honor and virtue, they will be repelled by the tawdry, vain, and cheap. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Balancing Homeschool and Housework

Homeschooling and Housework-Tips for combing HOME and SCHOOL with sanity.

Homeschooling and a clean house...
It doesn't necessarily have to be a dichotomy...an either-or decision. 

You can keep your house clean, homeschool your children, and keep your sanity. 

Here are some tips for maintaining all three at the same time. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What We're Reading in March 2016

What We're Reading in March 2016-a lovely list of books for all ages

This past week during our everybody-read-a-just-for-fun-book time (I should probably think of a more eloquent name for our morning reading time. No?), my "Reading's-not-my-favorite-thing" boy couldn't get enough of his book! (Can I just add a few more exclamations points to that sentence? One just doesn't seem to capture my excitement.) Even after our reading time was done and everyone else had left the living room to begin their studies, this boy...this I'm-allergic-to-fiction-books boy KEPT READING!!! And did I mention he had his nose in a fiction book?!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Top 25 Living Book Series for Learning History

Top 25 Living Book Series for Learning History

Dry-as-dust history textbooks have never been for us. We prefer learning through living books. Living books are REAL. They are seeped in literary-rich language. They focus on the bigger picture, not just names and dates. They provide a third dimension to an otherwise two-dimensional study.

In short, they're just more interesting.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

While I usually use TruthQuest history as a guide in my history plans each year, I've also been known to veer off the beaten path. I often find myself coming back to one of these foundational series. They make for great segues from one section of history to the next. And since many of them are biographical, they add a lot of "personal" to some difficult-to-relate-to people and places. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Medieval Unit: Illuminations

Medieval Unit: Illuminations {a video of how a book was made in the middle ages, book links, and a DIY

Every stage of creating the lavishly designed books of the middle ages required hours of labor and meticulous craftsmanship. Many manuscripts took years to complete and were cherished works of art. Some were made even more precious with the addition of illuminated illustrations highlighted by thin strips of gold or silver leaf. 

A study of the middle ages would not be complete without a look at the time-consuming and costly process of creating the beautiful pages of medieval books. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Day in the Life of My Homeschool

Day in the Life of My Homeschool-a minute-by-minute record of a day

Come on in! I'm glad you're here. Pull up a chair and join us for a look at one random day in our homeschool. 

Before you hunker down and get too comfy, let me just fill you in on a couple of details which might make the controlled chaos of this particular day make a little more sense. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Establishing a God-worth With a Book of Twelve

Establishing a God-worth With a Book of Twelve- a book of letters from 12 women of influence in my daughter's life

For most girls, twelve is a year of great physical change, of a widening world, of the awkwardness that comes in the in-between. 

The years that follow twelve are often marked by insecurity and self-doubt. Many feel pulled by the pressure to "fit in" and also the call to stand out. 

Twelve is a fork in the road. When faced with the path less traveled or the path of least resistance, so many girls just can't decide. The world would call this uncertainty a lack of self-worth. But, I see it differently. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks: Whole Foods Cooking for Kids

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks {Whole Foods Cooking for Kids}

I've decided that Tuesdays are my new favorite day. In fact, I'd like to declare EVERY day a Tuesday! You won't mind, will you?

It just so happens that Tuesdays are the day that my daughter gets to be the child-of-the-day. And as has been said, with every great privilege comes great responsibility. The perks of the gig ebb and flow from year-to-year depending upon the ages and stages of my kids, but one thing remains constant. The child-of-the-day has to be my sous chef in the kitchen. For the most part, this means that they tag along with me to mix, pour, crack, and measure.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

But this school year, I started off with bigger plans for my Sweets. I wanted to be able to hand over my Tuesday night dinner duty. All of it. My official reason was that I've always thought cooking to be a practical life skill that ALL kids, boys and girls, should learn. But, off the record, I'll admit that I also wanted the luxury of eating a meal every now and then that I didn't have to cook. {ahem!}

Friday, February 5, 2016

What We're Reading in February 2016

What We're Reading in February 2015-book choices for homeschool

This past week, I had an interesting conversation with the local librarian. The discussion had the potential to be heated and impassioned on both sides. We both took opposite sides of the "Just get them reading and worry about WHAT they're reading later" debate. Since you know me to be a momma who clings fast to the Philippians 4:8 life-grid and who believes that books should be woven with beauty, virtue, redemption, and the struggle of human nature, I'm sure you can guess what banner I waved during our chat. Sadly, she dismissed my opinion.

Oh well, I can't influence the literary pallets of everyone.

After we agreed to disagree, I checked these books out. There are five pallets that I'm shaping and I've got no time for the cheap, the vain, or the tawdry. I'll not settle for good. I want my kids reading only the best.

Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Tips for a Peaceful Start to the Homeschool Day {with a video}

5 Tips for a Peaceful Start to the Homeschool Day

The first ten minutes of a homeschool morning really can set the course for the rest of the day. Chances are, if you stumble out of the gate in sluggish lethargy instead of launching out with purpose and a plan, you are dooming your day before it has even begun.

You don't have to stand idly by and watch as all your well-laid plans get derailed. You don't have to end the day in frustration or with feelings of failure. 

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

By creating a peaceful start to each homeschool day and beginning with the things that REALLY MATTER, you can stand prepared for all the rest knowing that your day has been pointed in the right direction. (But, of course, this holds true for every area of your life, not just homeschooling. I've been reading quite a bit about starting the day out right in THIS BOOK.  But, I digress...)

Friday, January 29, 2016

20 Winter Art Projects for Kids

20 Winter Art Projects for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Last weekend, in an unprecedented heat wave of 31 degrees, we ventured out into the woods. It was a great day for a nature walk.  We stayed all afternoon enjoying the quiet...the kind of quiet that comes only in the dead of winter...the kind of quiet that is only interrupted by the rustling of the snow under your boots.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

We are currently reading about ALWAYS WINTER in this book and enjoyed the chance to experience it ourselves.

As the sun began to set, we headed home, but not before we tucked away visions of birch trees. And cardinals. And new fallen snow...All of which make for great inspiration for winter art.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hymn Index {The WHY, HOW, and WHAT for Morning Circle Time}

Hymn Index {for Morning Circle Time}

There is a reason that "Amazing Grace" has been sung at nearly every funeral for the past century and that amidst the turmoil and tragedy of the sinking Titanic, the musicians reportedly played "Nearer My God to Thee."

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

The Why

These old hymns of the faith evoke memory and a posture of praise. Truthfully, there is nothing innately holy about any of them just as there is nothing innately UNholy about modern praise and worship music. They both have a place around the table of liturgy.

But, there is something powerful and uniting about a hymn. One simple chord can trigger an unconscious surfacing of memories. It is more than just nostalgia or recollection. It is a bolstering of faith.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Favorite Read Alouds from 2015

Favorite Read Alouds from 2015

Our family culture was wrapped in books this year. We made memories. We forged space and time together. We held fast to our core values

We read a lot of great ones this year. It's hard to narrow our favorites down to a simple list of ten. But, after some not-so-easy family deliberation, a vote, and a couple of re-votes, we've put together a list of our top 10 favorite (chapter book) read alouds.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2015

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2015

It has been said, "You are what you read." 

I know that to be true in my own life. Books change me. They shape my ideals. They enlarge my vision of the world. They help nourish my mind with compassion, empathy, and understanding as I'm able to walk in another man's shoes for a few pages.

For better or worse, I am never the same person after I read a book.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

This year, my TO READ shelf on GoodReads was brimming with potential titles. And while I wasn't able to get to them all, I was able to enjoy many.

Here's a list of my Top 10 picks from 2015. (Quick disclaimer: I did not agree with every single word in any of these books. A couple of them made me bristle. But, to be honest, sometimes those are the most valuable reads. They make me examine my beliefs, take stock of Truth, and hold fast to my convictions. They force me to know that I know what I know.)

Friday, January 8, 2016

What We're Reading in January 2016

What We're Reading in January 2016

I must confess, the jolly-ness of Christmas break found us reading much less than I had hoped the past few weeks. But, we spent lots of time playing in the snow and hunching over a table filled with board games. So that warrants a dispensation, right?!

Consequently, a few of our December books have rolled over to this month. But, they are all very nearly done. 

forward motion.
No shame.

Here's what we're reading as we launch into a new year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Personal Goals 2016

Personal Goals 2016

"So long, clutter. I'm leaving you behind in 2014. You'll get no invite to 2015. Please exit stage left. Chin up. I'm sending you off with a few of your narcissistic friends. Namely, those extra 10 pounds I've been lugging around since baby boy, and staying up until too-late-o'clock each night."

That was my anthem at the close of 2014 last year.  In addition, I had hopes of helping my husband launch Truth Guards, deliver more meals to folks in transition, return to journaling, and finish two quilts.

And the final verdict?

Monday, December 28, 2015

The BEST of The Unlikely Homeschool 2015

The BEST of The Unlikely Homeschool 2015

This year of blogging was filled with several new milestones for me. In addition to providing yet another twelve months of cathartic writing, 2015 and this teeny-tiny place on the web has brought about The Super Homeschool Mom Award from the annual Homeschool Blog Awards, an opportunity to contribute to How We Teach (an encouraging book jam-packed with tips and trips from 25 veteran homeschool moms), and an invitation to speak at an upcoming state-wide homeschooling conference.

I am humbled.

In the last year, I have had the privilege of chatting with thousands of women across the globe...women, who like me, have needed encouragement and a little solidarity along the homeschooling journey.

In case you've missed some of the party, here's a peek at the top 15 most popular posts from 2015 that have steered our conversations.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hot Chocolate Stir Sticks {Easy Gift for Kids to Make}

Hot Chocolate Stir Sticks-This is a simple and inexpensive gift for kids to make Sunday School teachers, day care workers, or neighborhood friends.

Every year, dozens of men and women with a heart for ministering to children volunteer to teach Sunday School, junior church, and Wednesday night Bible clubs at my church. Because I have five kids of varying ages, I am blessed to get to know nearly all of them. They give of their time. They give of their talent. They give of themselves all year long with very little thanks for all that they do.

At Christmas, I encourage my kids to give back.

They put together small handmade gifts for each of the volunteers that have a direct ministry to them. It's sometimes difficult to come up with gifts that are both budget AND kid friendly. But with 40 THANK YOUs to make and kids as young as two and three needing to make them, the gifts always have to be simple and inexpensive. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

15+ Christmas Art Projects for Kids

15+ Christmas Art Projects for Kids-This is a craft free list. You'll only find fine art type tutorials here.

There's no shortage of coffee filter angel ornaments and painted handprint wreaths around here at Christmas time. Over the years, we've definitely done our share of holiday kid's crafts. But, when it comes to Christmas Schooling...incorporating real learning to the peace of Advent...I prefer to focus on art. I prefer to let my children enjoy the unrushed process instead of forcing an end product. 

I put on our favorite Christmas music, spread the table with chalk pastels and paint, and stand back as my children create memories and masterpieces. Granted a crayon wax resist of the Virgin Mary does not hang as pretty on a tree as a salt dough star, but it sure looks nice on the mantel. 

Here are a few FREE art tutorials from around the web to help furnish your home...and perhaps your heart.

Friday, December 4, 2015

What We're Reading in December 2015

What We're Reading in December 2015-books for everyone from momma to tweens to tots.

The month of December shifts our days into Christmas-schooling mode. Christmas journals, Advent readings, living literature books of Christmases past, festive read alouds, and even a change in focus in personal devotions all help to make this a meaningful time in our school, not just our home. 

One thing that doesn't change, however, is our dedication to good books. Last month found us veering from our chosen books a bit here and there, so some of the following books are carry overs from our November reading.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

Here's what we'll be enjoying during our upcoming days of Christmas schooling.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent Countdown with the names of Jesus

Advent Countdown with the names of Jesus: enter into the Christmas season with hopefully expectancy using this easy-to-make Advent tradition.

Advent is the season of hopeful expectancy. As we look towards the cradle, we ponder the notion of God With Us...of the Son of God exchanging all of Heaven to walk among us.

We pause with purpose to fix our eyes on God-Made-Flesh and render our hearts open for all that He wants to do in and through us.

Advent is more than just a celebration or a counting down. It is an arrival. A coming. And while we use this season to remember the Baby of so long ago, His birth was really just a foreshadowing of when He will come again...not as a babe in a manger, but as a Righteous and Glorious King. And it is to THAT coming...that second arrival...that we look to when we celebrate Advent. 


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