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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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

How Long is Your Homeschool Day?


Remember that public school class schedules require a lot of crowd control time, and you don't have that crowd.

The rule of thumb is to add about 20 minutes for each grade, but every KID is different and every DAY is different. Some days we get through our whole day in an hour and half, some days it feels like we trudge through at snail's pace.

How Long is Your Homeschool Day?
  • Preschool- 15 to 30 min
  • Kindergarten- 30 min to 1 hour
  • 1st to 2nd Grade- 45 min to 1.5 hours
  • 3rd to 4th Grade- 1.5 to 3 hours
  • 5th to 6th Grade- 2.5 to 3.5 hours
  • 7th to 8th grade- 3 to 4.5 hours
  • High School- 3.5 to 6 hours

This schedule applies to STRUCTURED learning, a.k.a as direct teaching and/or "seat-work".

Direct teaching is when you are teaching them directly, like reading their history book together or doing a science experiment. Seat-work is anything that requires your child to be seated (or laying on the floor in our house) and do independent or small group work, like Math and Writing.  For instance, you may spend 30 to 45 minutes reading History, teaching Math, doing a science experiment with a 4th grader, and then they spend the next 1 to 2 hours finishing assigned independent work, with you are there to ask any questions. The combination of that time is your structured learning time for the day.

Your day may go over this time with extra-curricular and educational activities that don't fall into "structured" learning. Guided free-play (like play-dough and dress up), gym class, audio-books, separate art class, and field trips are different, and will last longer because it requires a different type of engagement.

I taught preschool and kindergarten, and I can attest that the times above are the longest any structured time will be effective in those younger ages. Yes, you can get a compliant child to sit and listen or do worksheet for longer, but in my experience retention falls drastically after these age-appropriate windows of direct teaching.

You also have to find out what works for you. What works for your student, may slow down another.
This year we found the day goes faster when we do Math first (because my sons says then his brain isn't already tired when he gets to it), but that approach may slow down your day. Like I said, all kids are different.

Does this schedule ring true for your homeschool day?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Drawn to God: Sermon Notes Journal

Drawn to God: Sermon Notes Journal for any age

After creating Sermon Notes for Kids and Sermon Notes for Teen, I had several requests for an adult sermon notes journal.  As I came up with a plan, I designed the journal I needed myself!

Drawn to God is a 52 Week Sermon Notebook for Doodlers and Artists, or anyone who needs space to process the sermon through writing. This journal is the perfect notebook for engaging creatively with the sermon with options to write, reflect, and draw.

Each 2 Page Layout Includes:
  • Key Sermon Points & Verse
  • Worship Lyric that spoke to me
  • How will I apply this to my life?
  • What part of the sermon am I struggling to believe or put into action?
  • Praises & prayer requests
  • Drawing section to illustrate or write more anything God has laid on your heart

More Book Details:
  • 52 weeks, 2 page layout for each week
  • 108 pages of Sermon Journal
  • 8.5 by 11 inches
  • Unisex cover and pages, can be used for men or women
  • Matte Cover & Paperback Cover

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

I didn't know

I didn't know what I didn't know.

Yesterday as I drove, I cried with lament for our country, but also tears of gratitude for finally being awake. This white girl who knew she  didn't want to be a racist her whole life, from the first time I heard my mother use the N word, but I didn't  know what I didn't know.

I thanked God for waking me up to what lamenting and listening means.  I repented for the wake of slavery that I didn't cause, but do benefit from. I then asked for God to show me more of my unconscious biases. Repeat.

 I am a white girl who grew up in a white town, a small town in  central Indiana. The county I lived in is literally named White County, and more than once I heard adult and teens around me say, "White County needs to stay white."

The only POC I knew were Mexican and Latin  americans immigrants and their children, and the 2 half-black adopted kids in our school corporatation.

My best friend was a 2nd generation Latina, who was born in Indiana, with parents from El Salvador. She was sometimes bullied by the Mexican kids for hanging out with white kids. I loved her, but I see now never understood her experiences as a person of color, because she was accepted by me and our friends, so I didn't get how others wouldn't accept her.  To be honest, I never asked. 

I saw how racist my classmates and adults surrounding me saw the Mexican kids, ones who spoke Spanish and wore dark lipstick, they were differen, they were other. I will admit, I did too. I didn't think of myself as racist by any means, but they were different to me, and that made me uncomfortable.  

 I saw my best friend as different from the Mexican immigrants, and I didn't equate her experience with theirs. I loved being part of her culture when we were at her house, and listening to her parents speak Spanish, but she was like me.  I never asked about what it felt like to be a latina in a white world. We were from the same town, wore the same clothes, liked the same music. When others saw her inny company, and with all our white friends, they acted differently to her than the Mexican kids in our town. If anyone gave her any crap, I saw it as isolated racists from a small town. I didn't realize until VERY recently that my white privilege protected her when she was with me. 

 As a teen, I heard on the news about profiling, and I remember not knowing why it was wrong. 

Why wouldn't you pull over someone that fits the description of the suspect? 

Why would you be scared of the police if you did nothing wrong?

 I didn't know how times the only "description" they fit was "black". 

 I didn't know how times there is no suspect at all, just suspicion because of the color their skin.

 I didn't know how many times just the color of dark skin meant quicker escalation, due to fear on booths sides, that turned to violence.

 I didn't know how many times that "suspicious feeling" that led to white people calling the cops many times just meant "they are black in a white area".

 I didn't know.

I am grateful that when I married young I moved away from that tiny town.

 It took way too long for me to fully wake up, but I was trying. I knew I didn't want to be racist. I wanted to be awake to injustice, but I felt like in a dream where I was trying to wake up, but my you can't can't open your eyes. I started to meet POC, and I saw their anger, but still I just didn't get it.

 My husband and I starting working with Young Life in South Bend. I got to serve with amazing African American teens and adult leaders. I must admit it was really really uncomfortable at first. 
Remember, white girl from a white town in White County? I was so nervous any time I was around a black person, not due to fears but the unknown. I was always hyper aware when I was with a black teen versus a white teen. It was new, and it was hard.  I  needed to live in the discomfort of being in someone's space, in their culture, and OUT of my own. It was so good for me because it started to wake me up. 

To me, being awake means you can't sleep though it just because it doesn't effect you.  You can sleep through a train when it is 10 miles away, but you can't when it's in your living room, or in your neighbor's yard.  As a white girl, I can easily live as if the train of racism is 10 to 20 miles away.  I could stay in my bubble and know that my sons or husband don't have to live the consequences.   That is wrong, as a human and a Christian.  The train of racism is crashing through the bedrooms of human beings, of image-bearers of God. Who am I to go to sleep again, just because it doesn't touch my life personally?

One of best thing that ever happened to me as a naive little white girl was going to Windy Gap Summer Camp as a Young Life leader, I was 21 years old. My husband and I were two of only a dozen white people, at a camp of 500 Black and Hispanic leaders and students. I experienced for the first time even a tiny fraction of what it felt like to be a minority. 

 Guys it was one of the most uncomfortable weeks in my entire life. I didn't understand the music references, hair culture, the movies, even just words used made me feel like I was always just out of the loop. I literally stuck out in every single group, and saw all eyes look at me every time I entered a room.

Guys, it was also one the best weeks in my entire life. It was scary, but oh how wonderful it was for me to walk even a step in the shoes of a minority. I was brave enough to ask my girls about why they wore a scarf at night, and the girls got to ask a while person ask why they watched their hair so much. I saw teen girls fight over stupid and serious stuff, just like every other teen girl in the world.

I learned about the importance of respect in the girls' lives, and how little they got in the world, which led to them fighting so hard for it, even in sometimes what I viewed as trivial little things, like someone stealing their Pepsi. 

God allowed me to witness teen boys of color conquer literal mountains, with their storng Male leader of color right next to them. 

God wanted me to be surrounded by my brothers and sisters of color in a way that there was no way I could ever be the same as I was before. I was surrounded by amazing human beings, with color and culture that shook my heart with its strength. 

I could never not know again what it feel like, even a tiny tiny sliver of a percentage, of what it felt like to be a minority. I hadn't woken up fully, but it had begun. 

Over the next 16 years I would be able to befriend more people of color (honestly  enough and I will admit my circle of friend is still predominantly white, which I don't want to always be that way). 

 I would see men and women of color in local church and government leadership. I began to learn the truth behind profiling, and brothers and sisters colors told their experiences of being pulled over and questioned. 

 I would serve on a jury where an older black man was chased in a car by 3 rich white college students in the middle of the night, yet HE was charged with a charged crime of brandishing a ln unloaded weapon out his car window when they refused to stop tailgating ans following hok for a half hour in the dead of night. It took me and one other man on the jury to advocate for this man to not he found guilty on all charges, and even then he had to be found guilty on brandishing a weapon, because he did. I still remember how angry I felt at the injustice of these white affluent boys testifying as victims in court, with no explanation of their harassment other than they followed him becasue he "looked suspicious". I regret deeply I didn't fight harder to get all charges dropped.

I have been trying to read books that not only centered on civil rights, but intentionally seek out books and movies that have black actors as the leads, not just opposite a white person, and don't just feature people of color as being "sassy" or the sidekick. I sometimes felt odd as a white girl watching Janet Jackson in "Poetic Justice", or singing "Freedom is coming tomorrow" from Sarafina, or the loving the amazing Whitney in "Waiting to Exhale", but I wanted to see more. I did not want to be color blind, because  the color I was beginning to see was beautiful.

I was pretty close to being awake , but Ahmaud, Breonna, and George have fully woken me up. It took too long,  for which I am repentant, but I am awake.

 I am the mother to two almost 13 year old white boys. My sons will never have to be scared to be pulled over by police. They will never have to worry about wearing a hoodie on a walk in their grandparent's neighborhood.  

No, black lives do not matter MORE, they matter TOO. The point of #blacklivesmatter is because unconscious and conscious bias are real. I know they are real, because  I lived with them, in my family and in my own mind. 

I know racist is a scary word that congers up KKK and Nazis,  but the concept that I have learned is there isn't a dichotomy of racists and not racist. We ALL fall on a spectrum of bias, and and we ALL have blind spots of bias (a.k.a unconscious bias).

White Guilt is not what I am advocating. It isn't my FAULT I was born a white girl in an all community, but it is my RESPPNSIBLITY to educate myself about the experiences of others.  

What is your unconscious bias? What are your blind spots? I wasn't "racist" like a KKK member, but I was way too biased for way too long, even though I didn't want to be. I know I still have unconscious biases, but I want to do better.

We may never agree exactly how to fix the problem of racism in America, but I definitely know we can't fix a problem we don't believe is there.

Lord, don't ever let me fall asleep to the pains and wounds of an entire community. 

I want to do better.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Naan Bread- Egg, Dairy, & Yeast Free

I LOVE Naan Bread, but with my allergies I have not been able to have it for the past three years.  I finally have a great recipe! I combined several recipes and this one has turned out the best, with the chewy taste of yeasted bread!

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional) 
Wet Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
  • 15 oz unsweetened Greek style almond milk yogurt (I used Kite Hill)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well
  2. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add oil, milk, and yogurt. Mix together until it forms a ball, add flour as needed if too sticky.  Knead until very smooth and elastic- at least 5 minutes- adding more flour as necessary. 
  3. Cover dough in a bowl with a towel, and let dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Divide dough into 8 pieces.  Roll one piece of dough until very thin (less than 1/8 inch). 
  6. Melt tablespoon margarine, or your favorite dairy free butter, before you cook each piece.  One at a time, cook the Naan until parts are blacking on each side (about 1.5 to 2 min).  
  7. Optional- brush with butter and add seasoning (cilantro, garlic, etc). 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

To Homeschool Moms during the "new reality" of Coronavirus

Speaking specifically to my fellow homeschool moms:

The new Coronavirus CDC guidelines for schools reopening in the fall came out this week. NO ONE knows what this will look like in implementation. Every school will look different in how they want, and can, follow these guidelines. No matter what your local school does, we all know life is going to be different, and probably harder, for your public school friends, and their kids next year, not to mention the amazing humans we call teachers.

While some of my friends are choosing to homeschool after quarantine, please please please remember homeschooling is not an option for many families, and furthermore it isn't even the best choice for many kids.

It is going to be very tempting as we see many parents frustrated with the realities to say, "That is why WE homeschool." This is not helpful.

The response,"That is why we homeschool" is NOT an appropriate or helpful response when a friend (who has a different schooling choice that you) is sharing a struggle with their child. Seriously, stop this.

I have been on the receiving end of "That is why we send our kids to school" more times that I can count; it is hurtful and judgmental. When a friend confides a parenting struggle we can listen to validate, prayerfully answer with scripture and encouragement, or just keep your mouth shut.

Not every mom should homeschool, and not every kid should be homeschooled. I know, gasp! Yes, this is a homeschool page. Yes, I LOVE homeschooling with my entire being, but I also firmly believe this lifestyle is not for every kid or family. My page is here to support those who feel the call, and believe it is best for their family.

I am not saying we should not be open to our friends about about homeschool. We MUST be there during this time to answer questions for anyone who is considering homeschool. I am very open about my choice to homeschool so that moms who are on the fence feel comfortable talking to me. But being open to helping is not the same as giving unsolicited advice to a public school mom whose struggling with their new reality.

Please pray and support your friend's choice to continue public school in the same way you want them to support your choice to homeschool.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Learning Cursive with Literature


All my workbooks can now be found easily in one place at !

Meaning Matters

​A student, child or adult, learns best when the content is connected to something meaningful in their own lives.  Learning with Literature Workbooks take the whining out of handwriting practice with meaningful words and quotes from beloved children's literature.  Perfect for Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers.

Designed for elementary students just learning cursive, middle schoolers who need practice, or anyone who wants to improve their handwriting

Print workbooks also available for younger students!

I DEEPLY appreciate every book sold, and every link shared! THANK YOU!




Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Resistance is Part of Learning

Today is struggle.

 My 7th grader is struggling with the fact that he can't have two introduction paragraphs. He wants his hook to be a separate paragraph from his thesis statement. He keeps saying, "It just doesn't look right!"

I'm struggling not to lose it because that he won't just trust me, or the experts that wrote our writing curriculum. 

My son is honestly a great writer, other than formatting. His history summaries are detailed, insightful, and witty, but he hates being told how to format his writing. I know when he is angry because gets really quiet and quickly tries to wipe away his wet eyes (I cry when I'm angry too and it is the worst).

I share this because I want to let you know teaching is hard, but so is learning something new! Resistance doesn't necessarily mean they aren't learning, it is part of the process. As adults we all resist when told we are wrong, so why wouldn't a child do the same? Even if we are told in the kindest, most effective teaching method, it is still hard to hear you are wrong.

Does understanding the student's resistance mean we tolerate a melt down? Definitely not.

Understanding leads to compassion that enables more patience during the ten extra minutes of explaining why his introduction can't be two different paragraphs.

Understanding his resistance also keeps me from escalating as he escalates. As he gets defensive, I don't become offensive. I had to catch myself from saying "Just do it my way because I am the teacher!"

Some kids are going to be more defensive to being wrong than others. My oldest has ALWAYS been my "resistant to change/perfectionist" kid, but we have grown so much since those Kindergarten days when getting a wrong answer ended in tears for both of us.

I am so proud of his progress as a student and my progress as his teacher. I am also deeply thankful everyday we get to affirm that making mistakes means we are learning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I'm not patient enough to homeschool, and neither are you

Let me share a little secret with you, NO ONE is patient enough to homeschool.

I have been homeschooling for eight years, and just this morning I almost loss my cool over Algebra! Wait, that is a lie. I lost my cool. Thankfully it was internally and I didn't yell at my kids, but I grinded my teeth a bit. I then had to breathe slowly and look at the answer key in the teacher's manual.

The response I got most of the time, before Covid19 crisis-schooling, was "I would never be patient enough to homeschool."

I always want to say, "You're right. You aren't patient enough to homeschool, and neither am I."

Some people naturally have a more patient personality (not me), or grew up in a patient household that modeled it for you (not me), but those are NOT prerequisites to homeschool, or even crisis-school at home.

Patience is a growth trait, not a fixed trait.

Fixed traits are the color of your hair or eyes. You were born with them, and barring a great hair stylist, they aren't changing permanently.

Growth traits can be gradually increased through experience and intentional practice. In simple terms, we are not born patient, we grow patient.

So how do homeschool teachers do it? We do it by doing it. You become patient by being patient with kids. NONE of us started out patient, and NONE of us have arrived. Ask any homeschool about her first year homeschooling, and you'll hear from tear and anger filled memories.

We have to daily work on our reactions, even when we've taught the same lesson five different ways, and a kid doesn't "get it". We get up the next day to research YouTube videos and Facebook groups to find the sixth way, and pray it finally clicks.

Do we cry when we're frustrated? Yes.

Do we have to apologize to our kids for losing our temper? Abso-flipping-lutely!

Think of a skill you have had to grow in during your daily work. Have you become more organized, or a stronger team leader? Have you learned new computer skills to do your job?

So if homeschool moms aren't more patient, then what are we? We are committed. We chose this.

Everything is easier when we make a commitment to do it. You do it by doing it.
You do it by committing to doing it.

Homeschool moms committed to this willingly , and maybe you didn't. But it is here. Even if you didn't willingly commit to school at home, you did commit to your kids.

It doesn't matter if you chose this or it chose you, it is happening. You are now crisis schooling. You CAN do this.

You get patient by every day being a TINY bit more patient.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Language of Choice: Teaching your kids to choose obedience

Kids feel like all their power and control has ripped from them during this surreal time of COVID19, which leads to parental power struggles. 

Language of choice helps give your children a sense of power, without giving away your authority.

The extra time in COVID quarantine  allowed me to film a video, a follow up and part two to Preventing Power Struggles with Preschoolers.  Language of Choice work for ALL ages, and  I've been wanting to do for awhile, and I hope it helps some of you stuck inside with kids and teens

Please subscribe to my You Tube channel and share the video.  THANK YOU!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Sermon Notes for Teens

Sermon Notes for Teens

Do your teens text during the sermon?  Or write notes to their friends?  When you ask on the drive home what they learned, is the answer "I don't know"?

My almost 13 year olds are aging out of their Sermon Notes for Kids, so  it is time to upgrade to an older version of a Sermon Note Journal.

Sermon Notes for Teens contains 52 weeks of two-page layouts, perfect to keep any teen engaged in the sermon, on their level. 
52 week sermon journal, 2 page spread

Life-Long Skill of Taking Notes
Sermon Notes for Teens is a weekly opportunity to teach your student how to take notes during the sermon. Students identity main concepts of the sermons, questions that have, and an opportunity to engage in the sermon through drawing.

A.C.T.S Prayer Method
Teach your kids to use the A.C.T.S Prayer Method. After learning the basics at the beginning of the book, your student will write their own A.C.T.S prayers.

Open Communication & Teachable Moments 
Your teen will identify words they don't understand and questions they have, which can open conversations between parent and student on your drive home from church!

Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12

Thursday, March 12, 2020

To Those Unexpectedly Homeschooling Due to COVID-19

Are your children suddenly E-Learning on a computer at home?  Or are you trying to figure out how to get your kids to do the folder of work sent home from school? Are you scrambling to find childcare for a two weeks while your child's school is shut down?

I am sorry this is happening, truly.
No homeschooler should ever be rooting for public schools to be closed! Events your kids have been training for are cancelled, that is heartbreaking. Time with their friends is suddenly taken from them.

The homeschooling community, at least the one I am part of, isn't anti-public school, quite the opposite. Many of my friends have one kid at home and one kid at public school.  Or our spouses work in the schools, or we used to work in the school.

Most of us know it is an vital part of our community, and the teachers are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Many of us choose to homeschool not because of the people, but because of the system.  I feel the same about foster care system, the system is not my favorite, but the people in it are.  I am truly sorry so many kids, teachers, and parents will have such a disruption to their lives.

This is not what homeschooling looks like. 
Your kids love you and learn an immense amount of great values from you, but they are not used to learning their main academic material from you.  Give it time, and give grace.

This is not what our homeschool looks likeE-Learning Snow Days and crisis COVID-19 closures are not an accurate picture of what a homeschool experience looks like. You are unexpectedly doing public school at home, which is very different than homeschooling.

You didn't get to pick the math that doesn't make your kids cry (and that you have the teacher's manual for when you don't understand a problem).We have had time for everyone to adjust to the expectation of learning Math, English, etc. at home.  Give it time, and give grace. It does get better!!  

We get to pick our schedules. We get to pick our curriculum.We have already established homeschool communities, with co-ops, art classes, and gym classes where our kids get to see their friends on a regular basis. We also choose this. It may be harder for you in the next few weeks because of the nature of not getting to choose to school at home. Again, give grace to yourself and to your kids.  IT DOES GET IT EASIER!

Just like it would be rude for us to say to you "I could never send my kids to public school", please don't say "I could never homeschool" because of this experience. 

Give it time, and give grace. It does get better!!  Find a routine that works for you (see below). Your children will get used to this soon.  Change is hard. 

Your attitude will guide your child's attitude.
 In life, there are decisions made that we have no control over, or do not agree with, but with which we must deal with the consequences. This is one of those times. Your reaction can affect how your students later deal with decisions made by bosses.

Your children will take their cue from you. If your children only hear you rant and rave about how you think this is all "crazy and unnecessary", they will not learn how to cope with the consequence of decisions out of their control.

Pray for teachable moments. 
There are times for validating frustrations over cancelled events and missing friends, but look for the teachable moments in the lives of your children.

 Model how to develop coping skills in the midst of disappointment. Maybe encourage them to start journaling over their frustrations, a healthy coping skill they can use for their entire life. Help them find healthy outlets for their frustrations.

I am in no way downplaying the inconvenience and headaches that several unexpected weeks of no public school will bring. I know they will be severely disappointed over cancelled events, just like you may be frustrated in having to still work or juggle other obligations in light of your children being home. Again, I am very sad this happening.  But we learn through trials, and I will be praying that God shows you those moments where you can teach your children they can do hard things.

Talk about the future. 
Talking about the future lets your children know this too will pass.  This is another time where your attitude will directly effect your children's. Children and teens feel like every moment is the most important, and many will not be able to see past this crisis because of their innate ego-centrism. Talk about the future and assure them this is not a forever thing. Talk about how things are hard now, but it will get better, and you can make the best of it.

Teachers and schools are making plans so that your children do not suddenly forget all they have learned this year. And you would be amazed at how much your children will learn, even when not in a structured learning environment. They may even learn some new coping skills along the way.

Read. Read. Read. 
 If you do nothing during this time but read-alouds, audiobooks, or let them pick their own books, your child will still have a very educational break from public school! Set a goal of 20 minutes to an hour of reading everyday!  Pick classic audio books, like Chronicles of Narnia, and  play it a lunch or while they play legos.

Routine, not necessarily a Schedule
I said ROUTINE, not schedule. Establish a simple routine for your kids, and your sanity may be saved. Keeping your kids on their semi-predictable routine may help cut down on any behavioral issues.

During this time of unpredictable everything, give kids something predictable. Flexibility is key, because they are a bit fragile right now, but give them consistency when their is turned upside down.

DO NOT EXPECT the routine to be fall into place the first day. Your family needs to find YOU groove. Like I said before, change is hard. Give it time. If you are consistent to a routine, even the simplest one of maybe a few educational activities or e-learning in the morning and movie in the afternoon, eventually it will become an accepted routine.

Free Online Resources 
There are a LOT of homeschooling resources out there to keep our children busy over the next few weeks.
Free Homeschooling Resources

Again, I am very sorry this is happening. No homeschooler wishes this type of fear and uncertainty onto public schools. I will continue to pray for peace and a quick end to this crisis.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Pros & Cons Walmart Grocery Pickup

Aldi will always be my first love, but Walmart Grocery Pickup is really starting to warm my heart.

Walmart has always been my last choice when grocery shopping, but if I never have to set foot in their store, yet can still get their low prices, then I am beginning to feel the first stirrings of love.  It kind of feels like I am cheating on Aldi!

The past few months I've been going over on my Grocery budget, even though I meal plan and stick to my lists. I decided to try Walmart Grocery Pickup to see if it helped, and it really did! Last week my grocery spending for the week (for a family of 4, including 2 teenage boys) was only be $76, including fresh produce and toiletries! I credit this to Pickup allowing me to meal plan and grocery shop at the same time.

I don't think this will be an EVERY week, because there are just items I can only get at Aldi and Meijer, but twice a month has been so nice!

After a few months, I am ready to share my pros & cons with you.  Please comment if you have any more to share!

Enjoy $10.00 off your first order from Walmart Grocery.

  • Time is money- My kids are almost teenagers, so shopping with them isn't a hassle like it was when they were younger, but even without the little ones, time is still money. The time I save with pickup allows for a few extra loads of laundry done, or maybe even time to finish editing my latest kid's book.   Oh, how I wish this has been around when I was trying to wrangle twin toddlers! 
  • Energy Saver- No more wasting money on ordering pizza or takeout because I'm too tired to cook any of the food I just bought (we have all done it)! There is just something about grocery shopping that is mentally exhausting, no matter how well I plan. Pickup means no more wandering aisles while I try to find where they moved the peanut butter this week. 
  • Gas Saver- I attend a weekly Bible Study that is a mile from Walmart, and I choose a pick up time for the hour following that study.  I am already out of the house, and I don't have to worry about being "too tired to shop". It saves so much gas!
  • No impulse buying- The worst thing for your budget is not sticking to a list! Grocery stores study the science of retail, and every aspect of their store is strategically set up to get you spend more money than you planned. It is no coincidence that the stores smells like fresh rotisserie chicken during peak shopping hours or that science proves people shop longer when music is playing. They want you buying from end caps, and sales in the aisles. They put everyday items in the back, so that you will have to walk by the entire grocery store to buy milk. Walmart Grocery Pickup takes all of the retail science tricks away, and allows you to shop only from your list.
  • Enables consistent meal planning-  Meal Planning saves money, always. The app allows me to meal plan and grocery shop at the times, all while I look through my cabinets!  No more wandering in a store trying to remember if I have an ingredient for a recipe, or worse, changing my meal plan because I saw something on sale. Sales may feel like you're saving money, but if other ingredients have to be bought, or worse, ingredients you've already bought don't get used, then you didn't save anything. Long term, consistent meal plans save more money that "shopping the sales".
  • Easy contact and review process. I will give Walmart credit, they are very quick to correct mistakes with refunds (to your card, not store credit) and gift cards. A friend of mine had to wait 20 minutes after pick up time (this may happen during busiest time of the day), and after she filled out her review (they send via email) she was given a $10 gift card. Another friend was given a moldy orange, and all her oranges were refunded as soon as contacted them and filled out her review.

  • Grocery Pickup App is easy to use- 
  1. Check-In On your way to Pick Up. The app alerts you when your order is ready, and if you check in when you leave your house, your order comes out the moment you pull into a parking spot! 
  2. Specify items you will NOT accept substitutions for.  I am allergic to eggs, and the app allows me to mark that I will not accept Egg Noodles as a sub for my EGG FREE noodles. 
  3. Easily add a few items items to an existing order. I needed to add a few extra items on Monday to an order I placed on Sunday. They were added and I picked it all up on Tuesday.
Get $10 OFF your first Walmart Grocery!

  • You need the App for it to work right- All the reasons why the app is great are also the reasons why you have to have the app for it to work the best. I used the website instead of the app for two trips: the first time I waited almost 20 minutes after I arrived for them to bring me my items. The app let's them know you're on the way, so your items are already pulled out of freezer and fridge, and ready when you arrive. The second time I used the website instead to he app they gave me awful substitutions (see below).
  • Don't get to pick out your own produce- This is the biggest drawback for me, especially when you're given bad produce. Walmart will refund your money if the produce doesn't meet your standards, but it still means you're out that ingredient you wanted.
  • Bag happy- They give items from different departments their own bags, it has something to do with how they store them before you pick up. Last week they put a small cottage cheese in its own bag. A friend told me she ordered a candy bar, and it got it's own bag! I recycle mine, but it still feels wasteful.
  • Limits your shopping to Walmart inventory- Let's face it, it's Walmart. I like Meijer and Aldi much much better. I have to make every other week trips, or once a month, to a few extra stores because there are items that I just can't, or don't want to, get at Walmart. Last week I stocked up on a month of my favorite chicken stock at Meijer, and tomorrow I will have to hit Fresh Thyme for some of my dairy free options. 
  • Substitutions are sometimes not always logical- Sometimes they give Ragu Sauce instead of Prego, and that is logical. But sometimes they will give you egg noodles as a sub for your allergy friendly egg free noodles. Or Navy Beans when you ordered Black Beans. Not so logical. Again, the app allows you to say what you will accept substitutions for. Without the app, it's still Walmart, and they make not always intuitive choices for substitutions. Again, on the app you CAN specify items you won't accept substitutions for.

Enjoy $10.00 off your first order from Walmart Grocery.

I hope this helps someone who is considering Walmart Grocery Pick Up!  

Monday, March 9, 2020

When Does Empathy Become Enabling?

Feeling a bit more free this morning. I recently was in a conversation with a person who habitually reaches out to contact me only when they're in crisis, and who runs hot/cold in our relationship. They hinted strongly how much they needed help with their current crisis.  I chose to not offer to fix it, but was a listening ear only. I know this sounds cold, but it's truly a victory for this recovering fixer/enabler.

Patterns matter. If anyone else I loved had reached out for help, I would jump at the chance, but patterns matter.

Patterns are not the same as seasons of pain, where we lean in to support a loved one through the pain of grief or loss.

Patterns are repeated cycles of destructive decisions, that either wound you or themselves

We are called to be patient though seasons, but we must be discerning through patterns.

When someone runs hot and cold, repeatedly cutting you out of their life without warning, that is a pattern.

When someone seems to restart your relationship when it suits their emotions or needs, that is a pattern.

It is ok, and Biblical, to protect yourself from the destructive and hurtful patterns of others, especially when you love the other person. Loving a person means loving them enough to have boundaries, even when it's hard.

It is ok, and Biblical, to have boundaries even when you see the pain behind the other's actions.

We think it is loving when we "love without limits", but more times than I can count, my empathy coupled with a lack of boundaries ending up hurting the person I was trying to help.

Empathy is wonderful, and needed deeply in our world. But there is a dark side to empathy.

Empathy without boundaries becomes enabling.

I have chosen to stay engaged in the above mentioned relationship, but I have to willfully choose to lend a compassionate ear, not an enabling hand.

Love someone enough to allow them to feel the consequences of their patterns. Only when the pain of the pattern is too great to bare, will they finally try to break free.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12

Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12
Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12

Do your kids doodle on the offering envelopes at church?  Or squirm and talk loudly during the sermon?  Or do you ask your children on the drive home what they learned about, and they say "I don't know."

My children have been using sermon notes I created for awhile now, and I am happy to now offer them to the public in the form of these inexpensive notebooks! Sermon Notes for Kids can easily slip into a church bag.


 Every page has plenty of opportunities for children to draw, either the speaker or illustrations from the sermon. Drawing is the best way to keep children busy, but also engages learning on their level.
Children can write about their favorite song lyrics, gratitude lists, and other information about the sermon.  Beginning writers can copy words from the power point or your church's bulletin. 
Children reflect on what they are learning about God throughout these notes. Every week has a section for your child to reflect on words or ideas they didn't understand. As a parent, you can review these words with your child every week for teachable moments. Many times my children would write words like "sanctification" and "atonement" in this section (with their own fun spellings of course).  Sunday afternoon became a time to look up and define any words they did not understand.
"I want to thank God for" gives your children an opportunity to practice thankfulness. 

Do you have older children? 
Check out Sermon Notes for Teens!

Sermon Notes for Teens