Friday, April 21, 2017


Last year I wrote about our need to make a big change and how that change was driven by the need to rebuild our social group.  My heart was breaking for my girls who were lonely and considering school options if that was the only way to have a group of friends they see on a regular basis.  I prayed over admission to our coop after learning it was at capacity and my prayers were answered when we were given a place.  

Here we are eight months later and between youth group and coop my girls have all the social opportunities they need to maintain a healthy balance between studies and social time.  

We have had movie nights to see Screenagers and Is Genesis History.
We have been to game nights at friend’s houses.
We have been out for brunch before and after church.
They girls have been to see Twenty One Pilots and We Are Messengers.
They have played paintball, been ice skating, and to bonfires.
Grace has traveled to DC for a youth conference.
Both girls have attended weekend long retreats.
They have been to gingerbread parties and birthday parties.
They lunch together after coop.
They snapchat all.the.time. and so much more...

What’s cool is some of the kids from coop attend our church so there is overlap in the groups which makes it easier to blend friends from coop with friends from church. This is a very big deal for teens who are homeschooling.  This has been the biggest struggle as their mom and I guarantee it is a leading cause of why teens re-enter school for high school.  I’m so grateful that Grace will end her homeschool years in the company of these friends and thankful that Lilah has the opportunity to go through all her high schools years with the ebb and flow of students in and out of coop and youth group.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Worship Band

My home has been filled with music this year.  It has been for years and years but this year it has been very purposeful.  Both girls are playing in the worship band at coop, Grace mostly on ukulele which she loves and Lilah on cello.  This is Lilah’s second year of cello lessons and she is quite good.   It amazes me what this group of kids can do.  Their parent director took time off from coop to have a baby and the kids ran this group themselves.  They picked the music, sent chord charts or lead sheets to the band members, ran rehearsal at 8:00am and performed each coop at 8:45am.  They have band as a class but they are able to play a song each week with just an hour and a half of practice.  Not having been raised in Catholic or Christian schools, I get choked up when I reflect on the beauty of starting a day in worship and prayer.  It affects the entire day in a positive way.  I swear it is the only thing that has propelled me through Fridays.  Last Friday I drove 4 1/2 hours to coop, to piano, and home.  Crazy.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Generation Change: Dave Ramsey

Greg has listened to Dave Ramsey on and off for a while now.  To use Dave’s terminology, he is the “nerd” and I am the “free spirit”.  Recently Greg and I got behind Dave’s financial philosophy 100% and the changes in our household have been dramatic.  We are on a zero based budget for the first time ever.  We are spending, saving, and giving.  We are controlling our money rather than having our money control us.
This just happened to coincide with the completion of Generation Change series by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruz.  This is one piece of our curriculum that I will not part with.  I might loan it out, but I will never sell it or donate it.  The lessons contained in the DVD series are sprinkled throughout his many books and most can be found in Financial Peace University, but they are condensed and put into kid-friendly language and situations.  

It is very important for us to teach the girls about money management.  This is step one for us.  Now that they have the philosophy of money, what it is, what it is used for and what it is not used for, the concept of debt, the philosophy of life debt free and the Biblical doctine of money specifically in terms of debt, they will be able to move ahead with their learning.  Grace completed all three of these dvd sets.  Lilah has not.  However, Lilah spent a great deal of time in the car to and from Florida listening to Smart Money, Smart Kids and picked up almost all the information from that source.  

Next year they will be studying The Uncle Eric books about economics and government and justice and I’m glad they had this first.  Grace will also be taking Foundations in Personal Finance as a senior.  Since she will be running a photography business, she needs this information now.  She recently sold her first photo and is fired up to learn and grow in her art.

*This is not a paid advertisement.  I was not given this curriculum to review.  These are my opinions which I share because I love the program.

Friday, April 14, 2017


Over the years I have accumulated many books.  Periodically I purge and give to libraries, to friends, to Goodwill, and I have even sold a few.  One book that has hung around for years despite never being used is Philosophy for Kids by David A. White, PhD. 

I never incorporated this book into our homeschool because to do it right, you really need vibrant discussion, which is hard with two children, two years apart in age and siblings.  Coop gave me the opportunity to have a class of students ranging in age from 13 to 17 and they are quite a “chatty” bunch!  

I love this class.  Love, love, love this class.  I spent hours and hours developing a syllabus for this class with classroom instruction coming from the lessons in Philosophy for Kids and homework comprised of other sources (required reading and Crash Course Philosophy).  Not only did I match up each lesson to a corresponding Crash Course video, I also matched up each lesson with a recommended documentary to further the discussion and draw family members in.  I created a 14 week, half credit course that the children seem to enjoy.  The feedback I have had from both students and parents is positive. One mom shared with me that she is enjoying the class as much as her daughter.  I can't tell you how good that made me feel!

This class made me realize that I really enjoy teaching and I like being in a classroom.  Grading essays is not work for me and spending hours previewing documentaries has been enjoyable.  We are eight weeks into the class. I am blessed for the opportunity to continue to teach middle and high school students at coop.  I already have my syllabus ready for How To Read Literature Like A Professor (for kids) for Fall 2017!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

American History

I miss the days when I could post about a great nature walk, or an evening at the beach, or a fabulous class the girls took.  This is a different season of homeschooling and of life.  Big questions are being asked by the girls and by me of what we want to do, where we go from here and what lies ahead.  

It has been a very productive year academically.   Too much has transpired to list in one post so I will be posting a series of “what worked” for us posts.


We used Notgrass curriculum this year, which was chosen by their coop teacher.  The girls completed Exploring America 1: Columbus through Reconstruction in the fall.  The spring semester they worked on Exploring America 2: Late 1800s through Present.  Total Credit earned 1.0.

I have always struggled with the “is it enough” mentality.  I see their peers rush (literally run) out of youth group Tuesday evenings to get home as soon as possible to resume homework.  Some pass up weekend trips because of homework.  They stress to the point of tears over collaborate projects and partners who don’t do their fair share of the work.  I ask myself, what in the world this is teaching them?  To better handle stress in corporate America?  

Grace in particular shares with me how much of the youth group conversation centers around school, mostly how much their girls hate it, how hard junior year is, and how they cannot wait to be done.  

My girls don’t have this same sense of anxiety and stress.  They have work due each week.  Every Tuesday they must have a unit (5 chapters) of history read and be ready to discuss.  

To supplement their learning we have taken several field trips:
  • Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Davy Crockett Homestead, Tennessee
  • Fort Loudon, Tennessee
  • Sequoia Museum, Tennessee
  • Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Many more New England day trips are planned over the summer break because although we will be on “break”, our philosophy of education is that learning never takes a break.  We also use video/documentaries to supplement the reading.  One fantastic video about the causes and events of WWI, covered and entire unit in visual form.  Grace is very visual and watching history makes more sense to her than reading about it.

I truly believe the homeschooled high school student can create a week that closely resembles what college is like.  The average college student is not attending class 7:00am-2:00pm five days a week.  They have classes that they schedule throughout the week according to their time preference,  class availability and professor preference.  There is downtime to socialize, work, and yes, study.  The student knows from a syllabus what is due when and it is the responsibility of the student to utilize time wisely in order to maintain a balance of play time, work time and study time.  This is how my girls approach their week.  They have jobs: set babysitting times, dog walking, photography and they have extras: youth group, internship, and they have social events: concerts, coop outings, and periodic friend meet ups.  It is up to them to balance their workload.  There have been many late, late Mondays when the balance was not maintained and homework had to be completed.  Those were not fun nights and they taught the girls how not to do “school”.  

The fall was a tricky time to learn how to balance a higher workload, a more structured learning environment, classes they did not particularly love, and classmates that were challenging to work with.  After a few months, they found their rhythm and they found success in their week.

History was definitely a success this year and will continue to be through the summer months.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...