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Thursday, November 19, 2020

How do I teach High School math...when I failed it in High School


I pretty much got straight A's my whole life, except in Algebra.  It was my academic nemesis, I was only one class away from an Honor Diploma, and it was because of Algebra.  Unfortunately I was told by more than one person that “girls are just better at English than math”.  As an adult with several math-minded female friends, I now see this is utter absurdity, yet I unconsciously believed it for most of my academic career.

 Today my 8th grade twins took their Unit 1 Algebra Test, one son got 100% and the other got 97%.   This is a big deal for many reasons, but one is my abysmal history with math.  In 8th grade, I took Algebra, then had to repeat it in 9th.  In 11th grade I took Algebra 2, and then had to repeat it in 12th.  

 Many moms say they have their husband teach math, and I thought I would have to once we got to Algebra, but we haven’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am not putting down any moms who have their husband help. I am sure that mine will need to once we get to some higher levels,  mostly because he LOVES math and I very much do not.  If he wants to help in a subject I don’t like, more power to him!  I just don’t want single moms, or moms whose husbands don’t want to teach, to think they can’t teach high school level math.

My husband teaching math also hasn't worked out because he just does not have the time right now to teach math.   The few times we have waited until he got home to help explain a problem, it ends up not happening because:

a.) he is jumping into a scope and sequence without knowing the methods they have learned

b.) we forget in the bustle of the evening

c.) we want family time at night

So how do I teach a subject I don't understand?  I search for people who do.


We have DVD math teacher in Math U See.  It isn’t the perfect curriculum , and we have times were we just don’t get it, but overall we make it work. I watch the DVD alongside them some days, but many times they watch it and get it without any of my help. 


You Tube Videos are a modern homeschool moms’ dream! Last week we watched 3 different You-Tube videos from 3 different teachers on the distributive property in Algebra because the DVD lesson wasn't sinking in when they did their homework. 


I don't give grades homework, only tests.  I will mark what they got wrong on homework, but they have to fix it until they get it right. If they still can't see what they got wrong after they have tried to fix it a few ways, I let them see the teacher's manual to see how they got wrong. We pray through the frustrations, and not pushing them to move on until they master a concept is a key to Math U See. Some days it is HARD, and we all get frustrated, but this approach has built confidence and joy in learning.


If all else fails, I use the photo-math app.  Seriously, if you have a high schooler taking math, get this app for yourself.  I don’t let them use it, unless all of the above has not helped, but when we needed it, it was a life saver. 

There has been plenty of years where we struggled, but learning isn’t learning without the struggle

Homeschool Moms, you can do this.  If I can do it, anyone can. 


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Empty Wells


Are you a fill-the-bottom-half of your gas tank or or fill-the-top-half kind of person? As a teenager and broke young parent, I was a fill-the-bottom-half.  I knew exactly how many miles I could drive after that little green light came on!

In the recent years I have become a fill-the-top-half person because of safety, and fact that I had a van that gas tank indicator was broken! I never knew exactly how much was in my tank, and you never know when a winter storm will hit and you need to be prepared. It also only takes 1 or 2 times running out of gas to realize how much easier it is to fill the top half. 

I told a friend recently I feel like my emotional "tank" is on empty and I'm struggling to barely fill the bottom half. We all know 2020 is a "running on fumes" year.  

I am not going to explain why I'm empty (it can be said with just a simple "2020"), but God is reminding me again how to "fill my tank" when a storm is happening.

My last "running on fumes" season was when I had infant twins, and very low financial resources,  We were young broke parents, I had no friends who were also moms due to having babies at 23 and attending a church with no other moms.

I can feel the emotional echoes of that time, feeling isolated and drained, without built-in ways to meet my needs.  During that time I had to fight hard to find connection, and I slowly healed and got to the point where I was filling the "top half" of my emotional tank.

Switching from modern gas-tank metaphor to a more biblical water-bucket metaphor, God has often warned me of empty wells. I know they don't work through experience, but I keep finding my wandering back to quench my thirst in wells that do not satisfy. 

Why do I return to something that has proven unreliable in the long run? I return because these wells promise to satiate my thirst, and they require very little from me. 

They promise distractions from the pain, or momentary pleasure, and they give both. They promise a numbing feeling that sometimes we all desperately crave in a broken world.

Empty wells also promise self sufficiency, with very little vulnerability. I get to pull up the bucket, and in that I feel in control. Almost all my empty wells are in my control, and are one-way: no true intimacy is required.

But they do not satiate my need for peace. I thirst for unconditional love, for genuine relationships, and for someone to see my heart without fear of them hurting me. Empty wells of this world do not meet these needs.

Again, why do I keep returning when I know that my thirst will not be met? I return to these empty well when I do not trust in the sufficiency of His grace to slake my thirst. I do not trust in His unconditional love, His genuine want for relationship with me, and His ability to see my heart without hurting me.

Our enemy doesn't have to destroy us completely if he can slowly distract us. Distractions from the true well of Life are just promising enough that we mistake them for life giving, people and things that take more than they can ever give. 

What is an empty well that God is calling you to walk away from in 2020?  Procrastination, social media, dysfunctional relationships, and world powers all might make the list.

And what wells is He calling you to? Intentional relationships? Productive living, not just busyness that numbs? Spiritual discipline to renew your mind?

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38

Monday, September 28, 2020

Spiritually Fed During Coronavirus


The modern Christian rhythm of getting "filled" on Sunday Morning has been disrupted by this Pandemic. Our spiritual routines are changed by online sermons, watching your kids during the sermon because of no children's church, or dealing with divisiveness in your church about a piece of cotton over your face. 

What do we do when we have to learn to be in charge of our personal growth?  Coronavirus has highlighted the need for personal spiritual disciplines more than any other time in my life.

 Personally, all my usual outlets of spiritual development have either been put on hold, moved online, or changed drastically due to restrictions.   Our less than 100 people church has had to move to two services, so I see only half my church family any given Sunday. Our weekly small group can't gather to eat together safely. My homeschool co-op prayer group has been cancelled because not enough people could agree on meeting with or without a mask.  My Bible study ( has moved online, which still keeps me in The Word, but definitely feels a bit different. 

But maybe this interruption is one of the many things God is trying to work out for good?  We were never ever meant to be "fed" on only Sunday (and don't get me started on my biggest pet peeve of someone leaving a church because they were not "being fed"). 

Babies are fed. Adults feed themselves.

God didn't make our bodies to only eat physical food one day a week, then pray those calories last for 6 more days.  Our bodies are designed to eat everyday, and as we grow up, to enjoy the responsibility of feeding ourselves.  

Daily Bread.  Intentional relationship. Constant Prayer.

These are the rhythms God has given us to feed our souls.

How are you feeding yourself during this time of Coronavirus?

(This is NOT A POST ABOUT WHETHER COVID RESTRICTITONS SHOULD BE THERE OR NOT. I will deleted comments debating restrictions.)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Homeschool Planner: Home and Life Daily Organizer: 52 Week Undated Weekly Planner for Life and Homeschool

Homeschool Planner:
 52 Week Undated Weekly Planner for Life and Homeschool

Plan your life all in one planner! Ideal for anyone who want to keep all their to-do lists in one place!I have homeschool for 8 years, and created this planner after not finding what I needed elsewhere. I have used for 2 years and the to-do lists for my entire life are inside.

You can buy on Amazon or on

  • 52 weeks undated weekly planner with 10 subjects/to-dos
  • Weekly meal planning
  • 12 month attendance tracker
  • Password tracker
  • Curriculum order tracker
  • Areas of study tracker (up to 4 kids)
  • High school credits tracker (up to 2 high schoolers)
  • Semester Grade Trackers (for up to four kids)

Saturday, August 15, 2020

First Day of School HAMILTON Treasure Hunt


Start your school year with FUN!  A Treasure Hunt on the first day is a great way to get your kids excited about starting the school year! It seemed only fitting that this year's treasure hunt is themed after our new favorite Historical Musical, 

We have started our year with a Treasure Hunt for for almost six years now.  We change them up each year, but here are a few examples of Treasure Hunt Part One and Treasure Hunt Part Three.  I thought that my middle school aged children may not enjoy it as much as they did when they were in 2nd or 3rd grade, but it is still a huge hit.


1. Depending the age of your children, try to number the clues so they go from room to room, preventing them stumbling onto Clue #4 before Clue #2. For example, Put clues #2 and #3 in the first room of your house, Clues #3 and #4 in the second room, etc. 

2. For younger children, have the clues on the outside of objects so they can be found easily.  For older children, you can tuck them inside things, but be there to provide guidance (see tip #4).

3. If possible, hide the treasure in a different level, so that they don’t come upon it while searching for clues. For example, our boys’ treasure basket will be on their bed, and I don’t have any clues in their room, so they won’t happen on them.  You could end in your basement or outside in the garden to prevent them from finding the treasure too soon. 

4. Keep is short and fun.  The point of this is not to solve a super hard riddle, but to start the school year with some fun and a prize.


Clue #1- Hand it to them

Ooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York’s in debt—
Why should Virginia bear it?

Clue #2 In the Shoe Bin

The President is going to bring the nation to the brink
Of meddling in the middle of a military mess,
A game of chess,
Where France is Queen and King-less.

Clue #3 on our chess board in game closet

Why do you write like you’re
running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re
running out of time?
Ev’ry day you fight, like running out of time
running out of time

Clue #4 Behind the clock

Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot!

Clue #5 In or On the Fridge

Then a hurricane came and devastation rained
our man saw his future drip-dripping down the drain
put a pencil to his temple connected it to his brain
and he wrote his first refrain a testament to his pain

Clue #6 On the Pencil Holder

Look around look around the revolutions
happening in New York!
look around look around at
how lucky we are to be alive right now!

Clue #7  On New York on our Globe

Come back to bed, that would be enough

Put Treasure on their pillows
Keep the prizes inexpensive. This year I bought them:
  • Hamilton Soundtrack- Clean (yes, my kids do still sometimes listen to CDs, I also got it in MP3 format)
  • Replacement whoopie cushion from Dollar Tree 
  • Silly putty from Dollar Tree (they love to love with it while doing school)
  • Fakes Mustaches from Dollar Tree (they are making a movie and they need costumes)


I have created a free PDF download with 14 different Hamilton Clues so you can personalize it to fit your own home! 

Click for Free Printable

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

When Should I Start My Homeschool Year?


Homeschool is about freedom, freedom to chose when YOU start. Don't chose for others, and don't let others chose for you.

There is no time that you "should" start, except for the time that works for your family, and it is ok if that takes a little bit to figure out what works best for you.

In years past we have have tried on several different start dates; after Labor Day, at the beginning of August, same time as our local public schools, and one year we tried year round.

After eight years of homeschooling, we have figured out that starting mid August works for us, for now.

A few reasons starting mid August works for my family during this season:

  1.  My husband works in the schools and I like to be on his schedule.
  2. We take a lot of November & December days off to work on my in-laws Christmas Tree Farm.
  3. We attend a weekly co-op and Bible Study that begin in September (when it isn't a pandemic) so I like to get into our routine for a few weeks before our schedule gets interrupted.
  4. Because of those weekly outside activities, we usually do a 3 day week, and I need the extra time given by starting early to get through our year long curriculum if I want all of June and and July off (which is what we like because of family birthdays).
  5. I NEED two months off by May, but we all start aching for routine again by August.

But those are OUR reasons, and you don't live my life. You don't have my kids or my schedule.

Did you just have a baby and need to take an extra month off, do it!

Did you set up your classroom and your kids are excited to begin, go for it!

Do you have a pool membership through September and can't bare to end summer just yet? That is great!

Did you plan to start last week, but had a super stressful weekend, so you postponed a week? Yep, that's me! 🙋🏼‍♀️

YOUR life is what determines your homeschool start date?

Whatever you do, don't judge or compare yourself with anyone else because of their schedule.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Finding the PERFECT Homeschool Curriculum


The best advice I ever received as new homeschool moms was to find a curriculum that is OK, and then STOP LOOKING. Homeschool parents take years off their life searching for the elusive "perfect" curriculum".

Don’t look for curriculum, look for a homeschool style, then find something that fits that style. There are styles that work better for your child, styles that DON’T WORK for your child, but there will never be a PERFECT FIT.

I personally love our curriculum, My Father's World, because it combines a few different learning styles that fit our family.  That said, we ignore one third of what is in the manual because it just doesn't "fit" where we are, or that academic need is met elsewhere. We skip their Bible many times because we do to a Bible Study that has its own homework for my kids, and we skip their art because we take art classes outside the home.

Your teacher’s Manual is not god, and NO teacher’s manual is perfect. Just because your teacher's manual says they should be able to write that sentence that week doesn't mean your child is ready to write that sentence. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new teacher’s manual, it just means you get to make it work for YOUR family.

It is OK to stay on a Math concept for two weeks, even though your manual says they should learn it in two days. When you get "stuck" try to count it as a blessing because if your child was not one-on-one with you are home, they would not be "stuck", they would be "left behind".

Making it work is not something you know right away, and that is OK.  You will learn slowly how to make sometime work for your family, what parts to throw out and what to keep, just like you did in those early years of parenting.  You learned what stuffed animals comforted  your child enough to fall asleep, or how to make green beans more appetizing.

If you are looking for curriculum, and up to your eyeballs in stress, take a breath. It will be OK! We have ALL been there. You will find something that works, and you can make work for your family.