Welcome!
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.

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.

Nope.

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.

Nope.

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?"

WHAT?!

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. 

So...
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. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2 Holiday Hacks for a Stress-free Christmas Season

2 Holiday Hacks for a Stress-free Christmas Season
Photo Credit


Christmas is suppose to be a time of peace and pondering, a time of togetherness, a time of kneeling in quiet before the cradle of a King. It is suppose to be a time of joy and wonder; a time of memories and merry-making.

And while it usually is all that for the kids (and, dare I say, husband) of a home, for Mom, the FESTIVE of the season is often coupled with FRENZY. 

The inevitable list of extra TO DOs and additional scheduling demands have a way of draining every ounce of our time, energy, and attention...leaving very little to devote to God With Us.

But, it doesn't have to be this way.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Top CONstructive Gift Ideas for Tot School

Top CONstructive Gift Ideas for Tot School {When you just need a little sanity in your day}

With all the hand-me-down toys that come with having four older siblings, the last thing my youngest son needs for Christmas is another Fisher-Price fad. Besides, the IT items lining the shelves of Walmart and Target typically only occupy him for a few moments. During the school day, what he really craves more than playing with another plastic toy is a chance to BE and DO like the big kids.

He wants to get in on the school day action...to do the projects...to make the messes...to learn and discover at the school table with his brothers and sister.

If I don't offer him some CONstructive activities, he, like most curious tots, will find his own DEstructive kind.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Poetry & Pie Party {igniting a passion for verse}

Host a simple morning of poetry and pie to ignite a passion for verse in your homeschool...here's lots of ideas and links.

The thought of poetry use to make my boys cringe. Verse seemed too fluffy...too girly...too fancy for their liking.

But besides being a wonderful way to improve verbal and cognitive skills, memorizing and reciting poetry is a natural way to learn proper syntax and grammar patterns. It expands vocabulary and improves writing skills. And, what's more, it is a central presence in every culture all over the world and throughout history.

All very good reasons why THIS momma was determined to steer the opinions of her boys and ignite a passion for poetry in each of her kids! 

As it turns out, cultivating that love is as easy as pie!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dear Homeschool Mom with Lots of Littles

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

Dear Homeschool Momma with lots of Littles, 

I see you.


I see you rushing into the co-op meeting carrying two babies and a diaper bag in your arms while dragging a crying toddler behind you.

I see the look of embarrassment and exasperation that you try to hide behind a well-rehearsed smile. 

I see you heave a sigh as you sit on the bench nursing your baby during a field trip while silently praying your other children won't wander out of reach.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fall Blown Trees Art Tutorial

Fall Blown Trees (Art Tutorial)

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." ~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

This past October, we found ourselves surrounded by the flaming colors of fall. We took a day hike through the woods and got to see God's creativity among the greens, and reds, and yellows, and oranges. We came home and used those vibrant colors as inspiration for a fall art project. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What We're Reading in November 2015

What We're Reading in November-lots of great book suggestions for Christian Homeschool families

It's true what they say, "If you build it, they will come." 

Since the "opening" of our home children's library last month, my children have been busy reading lots of great books. Although I know that the novelty will eventually wear off, I'm enjoying the burst of enthusiasm. 

My children have all spent many hours sprawled about on pillows and cuddled up under blankets with their noses in the following books...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Building a Children's Library at Home {with a video tour}

Building a Children's Library at Home- a video tour of how I organized it and get my kids to keep it organized

This past September, I turned the big 3-6. For weeks, The Hubs asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I, honestly, just could not think of anything. For real. 

My special day came and went and still my mind was blank. 

About a month later, it hit me...the answer to the birthday gift dilemma. It was nothing really. A teensy-tiny request. A simple project. (It was totally not simple!)

"I want a home library...a place for all our children's books," I casually tossed out to The Hubs one day.

"K." came his reply.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Truth about TruthQuest History

The Truth about TruthQuest History {a favorite homeschooling curriculum from Rainbowresource.com

When my homeschool days are boxed up and beautifully archived in family scrapbooks and digital iMovies, I know there will be certain bits and pieces of these years that stand out more than others…moments that are permanently etched in my mind…memories of learning and laughing together that not only molded the minds of my kids but also shaped the content of their character and helped to forge our relationship. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why I Don't Teach History Chronologically

I don't think history should be taught chronologically and here's why.

I know what you're thinking. 

You don't teach history chronologically? Surely you're not playing with a full deck, Lady. History is NOTHING if not chronological!

Well, yes. And no. 

I think history is chronological. But, I don't feel compelled to teach it EXACTLY in order. At least not to very young kids. If I was going to teach it to students in upper elementary and above, then sure. I would make it chronological. I would begin at the beginning...I'd start with the Ancients. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Confessions of an Organized Mess

Confessions of an Organized Mess. "I can't play your note and you can't play mine. Because if we were all playing the same thing, the music would sound rather flat.   So, thanks for joining me for my "highlight reel," but please remember it is just THAT. The rest of my life is just an organized mess."

This social media thing is a bit of an allusion. Isn't it? Facebook, Instagram, and (Dare I say it?) mommy blogs are all curators of "awesome." They parade the highlight reels of a person's life for all to see...whether the rest of us like it or not. 

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

When I look at the collective "awesome" of everyone on-line, it's easy to believe that EVERYONE is awesome at ALL of those things. And that because I'm not, I somehow fall short. But the truth is, most of us are just awesome at one or two things and pretty mediocre at all the rest.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mind Mapping: Creative Writing HACK {every homeschooler should know}

Mind Mapping: a creative writing HACK every homeschooler should know

She was stumped.
It was a writer's slump, ya' might say.
While working on a creating writing project, my daughter's word-well had run dry. She needed some inspiration. Some direction. Some focus.

So, I sat her down (along with a few of her besties) and taught her how to make a mind map.

If you're not familiar with this simple writer's hack, a mind map is tool used for brainstorming and organizing your ideas about a particular topic or story line. It works great for both creative and expository writing styles.

Here's the quick version of how it works.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Resources for the Art Challenged Homeschool Mom


The other day, I had "art time" penciled into the schedule, but due to some last-minute, unforeseen changes to the day, we had to skip it. There was much "weeping and gnashing of teeth" around here. And the kids were pretty upset also.

The truth is, I love art time.
I love the silence that comes when everyone is hunched over a project. 
I love the individual expression that creativity evokes.
I love the splashes of color that grace my dining room table every Thursday afternoon.
I love the mess. (Well, I could probably do without that part.)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kandinsky Abstract Art Unit {with living literature}

Kandinsky Abstract Art Unit {with living literature}

"An empty canvas is a living wonder... far lovelier than certain pictures." ~Wassily Kandinsky 


This little abstract art lesson came about by a little abstract homeschooling...the organic, unplanned kind...the kind that takes you down a rabbit trail and leads you to an unplanned adventure.

The other day, I had big orange-and-yellow themed plans for art. It's fall, after all. But while at the library, we just happened to come upon an eye-catching book that made my art plans take an abrupt detour.

We read the book together and wanted more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Small Tweaks to Our Homeschool Curriculum 2015-2016


We're a full month into the school year and all is well. For realsies.

But, like all PLAN As, my curriculum choices and schedule plans have had to be whittled and widened to make them doable in real life and not just on paper.

I've made a few simple additions to our day that have helped to fill in the gaps. Nothing too dramatic. Just teensy-tiny changes.

And here they are.

Friday, October 2, 2015

What We're Reading in October 2015



October means pumpkins.

Around here, pumpkins mean a batch of pumpkin-and-butterscotch muffins fresh from the oven.

Pumpkin-butterscotch muffins mean hot cocoa.

And hot cocoa?

Well, who can drink hot cocoa without also wanting to curl up with a good book? And that's just what we're doing.

Here's what we're reading.

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