Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Hi, Everyone!

I thought I would do a quick blog post that will give you a "Behind the Scenes" peek life!

I thought I would give you all a quick "Behind the Scenes" peek into our family life! Enjoy!

Summer was awesome! We wrapped the Summer up with a trip to the free Street Fair that was going on in town. The girls got to play games, get their faces painted, be an "Archaeologist" by using archaeology tools to dig through a tote with sand in it to find hidden Mayan "artifacts", make Mayan "masks" out of paper plates and paper scraps, and build a Mayan "tower" out of Legos. We all had a blast! :)
School is going great! We are started a week early so that we can do half days for two weeks so that everyone can get used to doing school work again :)... me included. This is Hannah's first year being homeschooled, so things are a little bit different for me since I have two being schooled at the same time right now.

Sierra is six years old and in Second Grade this year. She started Preschool at (almost) three and has never slowed down. She is one of those children that just soak up everything they learn and never let it go! I wish my brain worked that good! :) She is doing a self-paced curriculum, Landmark's Freedom Baptist Curriculum, but she has been requiring a lot of attention these first few days... which is why we started with two weeks of half days first. See! Maybe I am smart after all! *Hee hee hee!*
Hannah is four. She started her K-4 curriculum Monday. She is soooo exited to finally be in school! She is just eating it all up! I am praying she stays this exited and teachable all year long! Hannah's curriculum is teacher-taught, as is most K-4 curriculums, but we are loving the one on one time! :)

Rebekka is doing fine so far with being left out of the happenings. She usually plays well by herself, but I was kind of nervous, because she tends to find the most inopportune times to need someone to cuddle with. Have you ever noticed that with your children? Do yours play just fine when you are not busy, then sing a heart-breaking rendition of the "Jailhouse Blues" when you are busiest? Maybe not... but that is my Bekka! :) I love my cuddles and would not give them up for the world... even if I need think I need to be doing something else instead.

Hannah wearing our new practice "boxing"
gloves :) Forgive the fact that she has
grape soda on her face! :)
Sierra, Hannah, and I are starting Martial Arts Thursday. We are super exited, and cannot wait for our first class! We went and bought a used heavy bag (punching bag that stands on the floor) and gloves today so we can practice our kicks and strikes at home! I have been wanting to get back into Martial Arts since we moved from Florida, but we just have not had the time or the money. We are using the Martial Arts this year as an extra-curricular activity in the girls' homeschooling. :)

I have been staying busy with writing. On top of working on finishing up my next book, The Bond of Hearts, my new job through Elance.com keeps me hopping. In fact, last week, I wrote a total of twenty 500 word articles, two 1,000 word articles, and re-wrote a total of 20,000 words in articles (that just means that they provided me with the research, and I had to rewrite it so it was an article instead of a compilation of research)... I think that was all?... This week, I already finished up the one 1,000 word article and one 2,300 word article! Now I am starting a 300,000 word rewrite that is due Saturday!... *Whew!* I said all of that to say that I am going to try my best to stay on top of the blog and write in it every day, but if I skip a day here and there, I hope you will be forgiving!

God Bless! I hope you all have a wonderful school year, gets lots of cuddles, and smile a lot!

Until Next Time,

Author of The Fanatics

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homeschool Series #4: Extra-Curricular Activities

During the homeschooling years, extra-curricular activities add to your child's schooling. Some states require certain extra-curricular activities, like foreign language and P.E., so be sure to check the laws for your state before deciding what to and what not to do. These laws, listed by state, can be found at about.com or the Homeschool Legal Defense, which is the site I prefer.

Foreign Language 

Many states require all high school students to have at least one year of foreign language study. There are many possibilities for pursuing a foreign language. Rosetta Stone seems to be very good, although it is expensive. There are websites online, like Live Mocha, that offer free classes. Other websites, like Digital Dialects, offer tools and games to add to whatever curriculum you are using.


Arts and crafts add fun and excitement to any school day. There are many ideas for crafts online at Life Tips, A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling, and ABC Teach. Art is normally done once a week. Have fun with it!


Some states require students to have a certain amount of physical education per week. You can check the law for your state on the Homeschool Legal Defense page. Even if your state does not require it, it is still fun and fulfilling. You can create your own P.E. plan (There are many ideas for physical education listed HERE.), or enroll your children in gymnastics, karate, or any other number of programs. P.E. is usually done once or twice a week.


Music is not usually a necessary requirement to graduate, but it is beneficial. Learning music helps build the brain. "Music" can be accomplished through piano lessons (or learning any other instrument), enrolling them in the children's choir at your church, or giving lessons yourself on the mechanics of music.

I know there are other extra-curricular activities out there, and I am sure you can think of a few :). these are the ones we include in our school days. For are learning Spanish on Mondays and Wednesdays. We do Art on Tuesdays, Karate (which is our P.E.) on Thursdays, and piano lessons on Fridays.

Do not go crazy with your extra-curricular activities, but do have at least a few! The idea is to add fun to the school day with something that will be beneficial in life. Be careful not to over-do it, or your school day will be so full of extra activities that you may not be able to complete your school work for the day!

What kind of extra-curricular activities do you do for your children?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Homeschool Series #3: How Do I Choose a Curriculum?

After you decide that you want to homeschool your treasures, the next thing to determine is what kind of curriculum you want to use! :) This can be a daunting task, but choosing the best curriculum for your child does not come without its rewards.

All Curriculum Are NOT Created Equal

There are three basic types of curriculum, and deciding which to use depends largely on how your child best learns. Some children are sight-learners, and some are auditory learners. If your child can follow directions easily and get things right pretty easily without needing the task demonstrated, he is most likely an auditory learner. However, if your child needs things to be demonstrated step by step before they are able to complete a new task, then she is most likely a visual learner. 

Knowing which learning style category your child falls into will help a lot when it comes to choosing a curriculum. If your child is a visual learner, they will do best with either a self-paced curriculum, where they read the material themselves, then do the work, or a teacher-based curriculum that has lots and lots of visual tools. An auditory learner will learn best when they can hear someone teaching the curriculum.

Self-Paced Curriculum

This is a curriculum where your child's book has basically everything in it that they need. The student will read the lesson, then answer the questions about the lesson. Most self-paced curriculum comes with an answer key that the student uses to score their own work, although you can score it yourself if you like. 

The downside of self-paced curriculum is that the parent may not be familiar with what their child is learning should they need a question answered. This is not usually a problem in the lower grades, but it can become an issue once they get into the upper levels in Math and English that we, who have not been in school for many years, may not understand or remember!

We use a self-paced curriculum called Landmark's Freedom Baptist Curriculum (LFBC). We really like it, and so does our second grader. There is another self-paced curriculum I also recommend, called Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E.) This is also a great curriculum. 

Teacher-Based Curriculum

This is a curriculum that is taught to the student by a teacher, namely Momma and Daddy :). Even curriculums that are marketed as self-paced are teacher-based for the Kindergarten year and some of the First Grade year--until the student can read well on their own. 

Teacher-based curriculums have their pros! Mom and Dad know exactly what Billy Bob or Suzy Joe are learning and are able to answer any questions that might arise. This also necessitates a more active participation from the parents, which is healthy for the child (a parent can be interactive in a self-paced curriculum too, but without it being necessary, it can fall to the wayside when life gets busy).

The down side of this kind of curriculum is that it requires extra study hours for Mom... time she could be doing things with her children or around her home. This curriculum also does not give Mom long breaks to get her work done while her child is doing his schooling, like a Self-Paced curriculum does.

Hannah is starting K-4 this year, so she we will be using a teacher-based curriculum for her, of course. We will be using LFBC this year and next year for her, but we may have to switch to a different curriculum for her later since she is an auditory learner. For teacher-based curriculums, I really like ABeka and Saxon (for Math).


There are curriculums, like ABeka, that offer a DVD learning system. In this curriculum, your child will sit in front of a T.V., watching a real teacher in a real classroom teach real lessons. Your child will sit at a desk and do the work right along with the class on the DVD. This curriculum are a good choice for teaching an auditory learner when you are not able to teach them yourself.

Alpha Omega Homeschooling also has a multi-media curriculum. It is computer based learning. Click here to learn more.


You do not necessarily have to purchase a curriculum either! There are many ways out there to homeschool your child for free! If you have not already, I highly recommend that you subscribe to the blog, Freely Educate. She has a whole slew of ideas on homeschooling your child for free! There is also another blog, Homeschool Buyers Co-op, that has a lot of free resources and curriculums listed. Other great sites include: Curriculum Share; Successful Homeschooling; A2Z Home's Cool Homeschooling; and Everything Homeschooling

Don't worry! You will do great! Just pray about it, and God will show you what is best for your family and for your child!

God Bless,

Author of The Fanatics

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homeschooling, part 2: When Do I Start?

Many people have asked the question, "When should I start homeschooling my child?" That is a very good question... one that does not have a right or wrong answer. You can start at any age, as long as you start your child by the age they would be required to start Kindergarten. This is usually the school year that has your child turning five years old. Some states do not require a child to start school until their seventh birthday. Different states have different laws, so please check the laws for your state to know for sure. You can check these on the Home School Legal Defense Website. If you have an older child that has been in Public or Christian School, you can start homeschooling them at any age that you feel this is God's will for your family. Just as a reminder: Remember that homeschooling is not God's will for every family and that you and your husband should seek God on the matter of your child's schooling to see what He would have you to do.

Birth to 1 Years Old

The Bible teaches us to train our children, and I believe this starts at birth. You do not have a scheduled or structured schooling at this age. Children this age learn best through play. There are many opportunities that present themselves during the day, if you pay close attention, that you can "grab" and use as a learning time.

As a baby or toddler, naming the parts of their body as you tickle them, using the words "up" and "down" in connection with the action, and singing your favorite "learning" songs to them can go a long way. With toddlers, you can name specific colors as you play. For instance, "Mommy is going to pour some tea from my purple teapot!... Oh! Look at my pretty pink cup!" Using descriptive words in this way will help your child learn their colors.

Sierra was potty trained by the time she was 19 months old. Our incentive for going on the potty was a treat of three M&Ms for each potty she made. Before she could get her M&Ms, she had to count them and tell me what color each one was. This was a great learning tool. Something similar might work for your children.

2 Years Old

By age two, children have not really changed a whole lot in the way they learn new material. Repetition is always the key. Children this age tend to resist a sit down and learn approach even more, as they are in that get-up-and-go and Terrible Two stage of life. Helping them to learn through things THEY like to do is the best approach with children this age. They tend have an uncanny ability to be able to block out and ignore anything that is not THEIR idea of fun. Grab those teaching moments while they are playing, and really capitalize on making those moments FUN! 

3 Years Old

This is the age that some parents really start to consider schooling for their child. Children at this age are just beginning to get to that point where they can sit and focus for a short amount of time. If you are contemplating starting your child at 3, but are not sure if that is what you want to do, try it out for a few weeks to see how it goes, and make your decision from there.

Hannah at 3
Three year olds have the attention span of... well a 3 year old. They do not yet have the ability to focus very well, so if you do decide to start schooling at this age, short, 10-15 minute bursts of schooling are best. If you try to sit for much longer at a time, you may frustrate your child and completely waste your own time. Remember!!! SHORT 10-15 minute bursts of structured learning broken up by LONG periods of play. ...And, Mom, yes, 3 year olds STILL LOVE to learn through play :).

4 Years Old

Take advantage of learning moments!
This is what is considered Pre-School age. Many parents send their children to K-4 at this age. Some children, however, are not yet ready for structured learning by this age. Remember that each child is different. Children mature in different areas at different paces.

I have been doing structured learning with my oldest, Sierra, since she was 3, but my 4 year old, Hannah, is still at the point where I am not quite sure if she is ready for that yet. We are planning to give it a try this year, although we are planning to use an easier, play-based approach this year as we are using a K-3 curriculum for her. We will see how it goes.

Children at this age are usually ready for about half a day of learning, provided you break it up. For instance, you might have 20-30 minutes of class, followed by a 5-10 minute break. Four year olds also learn well through play, so any time you can reinforce a learned principle through acting it out, playing, or any type of movement, the better it will stick!

5 Years Old

KINDERGARTEN!!! AHHHH! LOL Many states require children to start school by age 5. Some states do not. Again, check the laws for your state. Some children are still not ready for schooling by this age. Only you, as the parent, can be the judge of that.

Five year olds are usually ready to start doing a half to full day of school work, depending on their ability to sit still, listen, and focus. You should be able to gauge the ability of your child and figure out what approach will work best for your child. It is still wise to break the school day up into 20-30 minute increments with small breaks in between for two reasons: at 5, children still lose their focus easily and are able to stay focused better if they can have small breaks to refresh themselves; and, because of the growing their little body is enduring, it can be physically painful for them to sit still for long periods of time.
Learning about sled dogs!

It is still a smart move to reinforce learning through movement at this age. Any time you can provide ways for children to use as many senses as possible in learning, the better they will learn and the longer they will retain it. For instance, if they are learning about leaves (hearing), you might take a walk through the woods (to expend energy :)), pick up some leaves (looking), and make a pretty picture by gluing them to paper (touch). You might have a snack of "leaves"/ salad :) (taste),  and talk about the different smells of leaves throughout the different seasons of the year.

It's Up to You!

Whatever age you and your husband decide to start your children's structured schooling, know that they are at an optimal age to learn! Their training is in your hands, and their best interest is in your heart, so just pray about it and do what you think is best for your child! There is no right or wrong answer for what age you should start school at, so go with your gut, and trust your instinct!

Monday, August 20, 2012

An Introduction to Homeschooling

Seven days and counting! We start school again this coming Monday! I LOVE homeschooling my children, and would not have it any other way, but every home is different. Homeschooling is not for everyone, and that is fine. I understand that, but it is “for us”. You might be a homeschooling veteran needing inspiration, a homeschool newbie, be thinking about homeschooling, or be wondering why anyone would want to homeschool. READ ON!


Homeschooling is defined in its name. It is “schooling at home”. It is legal to homeschool in every state of the U. S. and in some foreign countries. Homeschooling can be done for any child, Preschool through Graduation.


Like I said earlier, homeschooling is not for everyone. God mandates in Scripture that we, as the parents, are responsible for training our children. We do, however, have the choice of delegating that responsibility to someone else. Each family needs to sit down and discuss the idea of homeschooling before you decide one way or the other.
There are many things to consider when making this decision:

1.  Work schedules—If you are not going to be home for a sufficient amount of time every day to school your children, homeschooling may not be for you. Some families have a single parent home, others require two incomes. Situations like this make it difficult to homeschool. If you spend eight hours a day at work, then pick your children up from the babysitter and only have three or four hours with them each evening before bed, it may not be wise for you to spend that time cramming in eight hours’ worth of school work. If this is the case, homeschooling may not be for you.

2. Your education—In some states, you must have completed at least two grade levels above the grade level at which you are planning to homeschool your child. This will not be a problem for most parents. Contact your the Homeschool Legal Defense to learn the homeschooling laws in your state.

3. Your health—Some parents may not have the ability to homeschool due to health issues. If you have severe health problems that will keep you away from home a lot due to multiple doctor visits or hospital stays, homeschooling may not be for you.

4. Your stick-to-it-ive-ness—If you do not have the ability to stick to a task through completion, homeschooling may not be for you. This can be remedied! You can choose to fix your inability bad habit to stick to tasks! You can choose to stick to it!

5. Your preference—Some families choose to send their children to school instead of keeping them home. There is nothing wrong with this. Whether or not to homeschool is between the parents of each family and God. Make your decision, and do not let anyone shame you into changing your mind, especially if you have prayed about it!


People homeschool for many reasons, but the reason you will hear the most is, “I don’t want my kids in public school”. The public school system is anti-God and anti-Bible. They promote “safe sex”, homosexuality, Evolution, and more. Children do not just get pressured into putting a frog into the teacher’s desk drawer or letting someone else cheat off their paper anymore. Now they face standing up to the pressure from friends, to smoke, do drugs, and have sex. With the increase in shootings, bombings, bullying, and violence many parents worry about their children’s safety in these schools. Others site the fact that a public school education is too close to not being an education at all.

The biggest reason we choose to homeschool is because we firmly believe that is what God wants our family to do. We homeschool because I can better train our daughters to love God and serve him and train them to be a good wife, homemaker, and mother if I spend that eight hour a day window with my children instead of outsourcing it to someone else. My children are only awake twelve hours out of every day. If I allow someone else the blessing of training my children for eight hours of that, and then they come home and spend an hour or two doing homework, time eating and doing chores, and an hour playing, what does that leave me to work with? Nothing… “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart form it” (Proverbs 22:6). We want our children to grow up to love and serve God, and we believe the best way for us to do that is through homeschooling. No other reasons compare.

If you are trying to decide whether to homeschool or not, think about these things other reasons:

  • Parents know their children’s strengths and weaknesses and can provide a learning environment that will better serve their child.
  • Homeschooling prevents most negative peer pressure until the child is old enough and established enough in God’s Word to appropriately deal with it.
  • Homeschooled children can mature at their own rates without pressure to be or do what they are not ready for.
  • It provides positive an appropriate socialization with people of all ages, making homeschooled children comfortable interacting with people of all ages.
  • In homeschooling, the parents are a large part of their child’s world and natural partners in learning.
  • Your family’s values and beliefs are taught and are not contradicted eight hours a day by an outside source.
  • Your family is free to schedule their day however they need.
  • Homeschooling creates stronger bond between siblings.
  • You can provide extra learning opportunities to advance your children in their interests and talents.
  • When homeschooling, there is a high student/ teacher ratio.
  • Homeschooled children become good at studying, independent in their thinking, and secure in their own convictions.
Like I said, homeschooling is not for everyone. Homeschooling is not the only way, but it is the best way for my family, and it may be the best way for yours. Talk about it, research it, pray about it, and decide!

Are you homeschooling this year? What are the reasons you homeschool? What are the reasons you do not?

**Further Homeschooling Helps! :)

Homeschool Mosaics
Homeschool Creations
The Homeschool Village
Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling
The Encouraging Home

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Newest Method in Preserving Food


I like to learn new things, but I hate to change. Can anyone else relate? I was exited to learn about the newest method in preserving food--vacuum sealing--and enthralled to discover that I DO NOT HAVE TO CHANGE ANYTHING TO USE IT! Vacuum sealing is the process of removing all of the oxygen from a package to aid in food preservation and can be used in conjunction with any other method of food preservation, thus making the other methods better! As you can see, with the use of this method, I am simply bettering my techniques--not necessarily changing them!


Arriving home from a shopping trip late one night, I did a quick search of my grocery bags for the cold items. I needed to get all of the freezer and refrigerator items where they belonged before I laid down  for the long task of nursing my screaming baby. Satisfied I had gotten it all, I retired to my bedroom where I fed Rebekka and, almost immediately, fell asleep. 

The next morning,  much to my chagrin, I found that I had left a package of Polish Sausage setting in an unexplored bag of pantry items. Would it be okay to keep it? Would it still be safe to eat? After all, it was vacuum sealed... That has to count for something... Right? Wrong! I did a Google search, which is my fall-back for everything. I quickly learned what vacuum sealing is not.

Vacuum sealing is not a preservation technique in and of itself. Any food that is vacuum sealed must be dried or pickled beforehand or frozen or refrigerated afterwards. Vacuum sealing does keep the oxygen out, which kills the bacteria responsible for making food appear slimy and smell spoiled, but it does not kill the bacteria responsible for deadly food poisoning! In fact, this bacteria grows faster in vacuum-sealed foods that are not stored properly since it does not have to fight with other bacteria to thrive. Since this food can be harboring food poisoning, yet smell and appear to be "good", vacuum-sealed foods can be dangerous to someone who is ignorant about how to properly store them!

Just to recap: If a food needs to be refrigerated before it is vacuum sealed, a food must be kept refrigerated after it is vacuum sealed--maybe even more so. Due to the rapid growth of bacteria that causes food poisoning, vacuum-sealed food should not be left out for any longer than a total time of two hours!


You can vacuum seal just about anything, making the shelf life of any food three to five times longer! Vacuum sealing food before freezing it prevents freezer burn by keeping the freezer's dry air from touching the meat or produce you are freezing. Dehydrated foods last longer when they are vacuum sealed, since they cannot absorb moisture from the air. Vacuum sealing foods you are planning to refrigerate keeps the moisture in and the bacteria that causes rancid tastes and smells out!

Steaks or roasts, which can normally be frozen for up to six months, have a (freezer) shelf life of two to three years! Softer berries will normally last in the refrigerator for one to three days, but, if they are vacuum sealed, they will last one week, and firm berries will last two weeks! When vacuum sealed, cookies and crackers will last three to six weeks, flour, sugar, and rice will last one to two years, and nuts will last two years!


**As with the use of any equipment, follow the instructions carefully for your particular product and brand!

Before beginning, thoroughly wash your hands and all surfaces that will be used. If you are vacuum sealing a powdered food, place it in another bag and place that bag inside the bag to be vacuum sealed so your powdered food does not get sucked out of the bag along with the air. For foods with sharp edges, it is best to wrap them in a paper towel before vacuum sealing them to keep the sharp edges from puncturing the sides of the bag. Pre-freeze liquids, meats, and prepared food before vacuum sealing them.

You can vacuum seal food without a vacuum sealer, although the bags used would not be as thick or sturdy. There is a quick and easy method for vacuum sealing ziplock bags on this website. This can be done easily and quickly. Place the food in a ziplock bag, and close it until there is only a small opening. Place this ziplock inside a larger ziplock, and close it around a small vacuum cleaner hose atatchment or cheap Handheld Vacuum Sealer. When all the air is sucked out, press the seal of the inside bag shut, and *voila!* You have vacuum-sealed food!

When using a vacuum sealer, measure and cut the bag (bags for a vacuum sealer are actually one long bag). Seal one end of the bag, and place the food to be vacuum sealed inside. Place the open end of the bag back into the vacuum sealer, shut the machine, and turn it on! The machine does all the work! Simple!

There are also Vacuum-Sealing Food-Storage Containers that you can purchased to be used with your sealer. It is possible to use a vacuum sealer to seal glass jars as well. These are more beneficial for storing crushable items, such as potato chips or crackers in. See your manual for information of these.


For the Love of Vacuum Sealing,
Author of "The Fanatics"