Helping Our Children Develop Hobbies

helping_our_children_develop_hobbiesOkay, let’s be honest. I don’t necessarily allow myself much free time. It’s there; I just don’t take it. But, if I did use my free time, well, freely, I would never run out of things to do. There are so many possibilities. Reading. Writing. Planning. Organizing. (Don’t judge. It’s relaxing.) Napping. Oh, the list could go on. So when my children come to me and ask for a suggested afternoon activity because they are bored… I have to resist the urge to scratch my head, and instead lend a hand. Sometimes our children need help developing hobbies, and it’s our privilege to open the doors of exploration.

I’ve never been one to collect stamps. And crafting is lovely. Truly. But not my thing. Thus I understand my children’s dilemma of finding activities which hold their interest and offer enjoyment. So we’re on a journey to find what peaks their interest and will encourage them to use their free time wisely. We’ve learned a lot on our adventure:

Go Exploring – Hobbies don’t always present themselves to us. While one of my daughters enjoys music tremendously and loves writing, my other children have needed to try various projects before finally settling in for further pursuit of a skill.

Dig Deeper – Hobbies aren’t always obvious choices. We’ve discovered we occasionally need to think outside the box. We’ve tried fostering baby animals from a local shelter, woodworking, jewelry making and growing roses from seeds.

It’s an Investment – Often our children’s hobbies require more than just pointing them in the right direction. Instruments might be involved, tools needed, and/or some amount of driving is required. The hardest investment is time. Especially on our part. That archery club equals extra drive time and two hours out of our week. The sewing projects depend on mom passing along her learned skill. Through this we’ve learned the value of our investments, and to choose our investments wisely.

Don’t Give Up – Perhaps we find our hobbies quickly, but sometimes we don’t. In this we must remember not to lose heart, but to keep searching. We aren’t failing at finding a hobby, but discovering more about the world around us and an appreciation of skills we don’t possess. We’re on an adventure, and still looking for our personal interest.

How about you? As a parent, and an educator, how do you address the issue of hobbies?

  • Do your children have hobbies?
  • Did they develop their hobbies on their own, or through your leading?
  • Have your children’s hobbies changed over the years?
  • Do your children have multiple hobbies?
  • Do you set a limit on hobbies; either in time required or money spent on them?
  • How much involvement do you have in your children’s hobbies; either in time or attention?
  • Have any of your children struggled with finding a hobby?

So little time, so much to do. Well, for me at least. Now, we’re working on helping our growing kids discover what holds their interest. While there have been moments of frustration in the journey, we’re enjoying the adventure and having fun along the way. It’s amazing to discover new skills and meet new friends along the way.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.”
~ Ecclesiastes 9:10

Your Turn!: Join us in exploring the fun topic of hobbies. Share your thoughts on the questions above!

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Review: Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask

“What makes this book special,… is the fact that we want to equip you to have confidence in your decision to home educate, and we want to prepare you to defend your choice to the skeptics you will inevitably face along the way.”
~ Israel Wayne

review_answersforhomeschoolingThere are a multitude of questions homeschoolers are faced with. And while some of those questions come from concerned family and friends, there are an equal number of questions we ask of ourselves. Today, we’re excited to share with you Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask. For the critics around you, and the critic within, this new book by Israel Wayne is sure to help provide answers and offer encouragement.

Israel Wayne is a veteran in the world of homeschooling. Having been homeschooled himself, Mr. Wayne is a much sought after speaker for homeschooling conferences and the author of several homeschooling books. Helping families gain a better understanding of the how of home education, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask systematically leads the reader through twenty-five chapters outlining the most pertinent questions homeschoolers face and gives us Biblical wisdom in answering them. Topics include “Is Homeschooling Legal?”, “How Can You Afford to Homeschool?”, “What Does Dad Do in Homeschooling?”, “Is Homeschooling Elitist?”, and more.

For those readers who might be new to our blog, we appreciate all of Mr. Wayne’s books. Thus, when offered an opportunity to preview and review Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, we naturally jumped at the chance. In addition to a printed, paperback copy of the book upon publication, we were also given a PDF of Answers for Homeschooling so that we might enjoy the book immediately. While I had intended to read the book over the course of a week, once I began I found I had no inclination to stop. I finished the book in one sitting. For those who are new to homeschooling or perhaps struggling with gaining a better understanding of how to answer these homeschooling questions, we would recommend progressing through the Answers_for_Homeschoolingbook more slowly as there is much to digest.

As experienced homeschoolers, we were able to appreciate Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask as confirmation of what the Lord has already shown us, a refresher in how to better answer questions we face, and fascinating history on the adventure of learning and homeschooling. Of particular interest to us were the chapters “Is That How It’s Done in Public School?”, “Isn’t Sheltering a Child Harmful?”, “What About Being Salt and Light in Public School?”, and “Do You Know What Causes That?”. These chapters touched on issues we come across on a regular basis even though we’ve been homeschooling for several years. Readers will find every chapter engaging, simple to follow, and helpful.

Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask is an exceptional addition to Mr. Wayne’s selection of homeschool books. Being released this month, Answers for Homeschooling is a book we’d love to see in the hands of every homeschooling family. Whether new, struggling, or merely needing answers for those skeptics in your own learning adventure, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask offers something for everyone. We pray the Lord blesses this book, and uses it to reach many for His glory and their benefit.

If you’d like to learn more about Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask and Master Books please visit them at their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

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Your Turn!: Which homeschooling question do you most commonly face?

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You Talk Too Much!

you_talk_too_muchOur children, with the exception of one, are very outgoing. They talk easily amongst their friends, family, and even with new acquaintances. Even the one who is seriously shy often opens up after a few moments. They like to talk about what they are learning and ask others what they are being taught. Our children will generally carry on a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere, on almost any topic. While we encourage our children to share, it’s also important they learn to listen.

One of the subtle arts of parenting is teaching our children proper communication. Yes, to share. But also to listen. Learning when to speak and when to remain silent can be a challenge. One some of us adults – myself included – are still learning to master. Perhaps we could all use a refresh in this area?

Learning to Listen First – Speaking is the easy part. Speaking well harder. Not talking and listening would be the biggest challenge. Listening not for an opening during which we can finally speak, but genuinely caring what the other person is saying and giving them the entirely of our mind. Oh, to perfect this step alone would be a dream.

Learning to Ask Questions  Often the best way to open doors of communication is not by telling, but by asking. By seeking information from others we encourage them to talk with us and share their lives.

Learning to Identify Those Who Will Receive – Let’s face it, not everyone wants the entirety of our plans for summer vacation. Nor should they. Some are not ready to hear our fantastic homeschool adventures. And not every possible debate needs our input. We need to weigh our words; identifying what should be shared when, and with whom. It’s not a matter of other people not caring, as much as our caring to give people what God has directed in His timing.

Learning When to Speak – Equally challenging is knowing when to finally open our mouths. May the Lord give us wisdom and grace!

Learning How to Speak – Sometimes sharing can be done with pride, a smug attitude, or a sense of “knowing all about it”. It can also be harsh or bitter. We want our words to be kind and humble always.

Learning When Someone Wants Help – Confession. I like to help. It’s taken me some time to realize not everyone who is expressing frustration or anxiety really wants constructive input. Sometimes they just need a listening ear. May we be that which is needed most.

Thank God for close friends who make communication easy. We are incredibly blessed by those few who allow us to vent when needed, either when upset or ridiculously excited. We never have to weigh my words, calculate if we’ve spoken too much, or worry about interrupting. And our friends know they can count on us, too!

When addressing the rest of the world, may we err on the side of caution more than not; choosing our few words with care and giving those we meet Jesus. It’s more important they see Him and hear of His good deeds than anything we could possibly offer. When in doubt, we follow this sage advice, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;…”

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
~ Proverbs 10:19

Your Turn!: This does beg the question… How much talking is too much?

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Do My Children REALLY Need Help?

do_my_children_really_need_help Our kids are usually pretty good about doing their lessons; most of the time. However, every once in a while, these kiddos decide they just don’t want to do the work and would rather try to con mom into giving them the answer instead. It can be hard to determine whether they actually need help or are just being lazy.

Normally, I love helping my kids. I help them cook, clean, learn new skills, and have fun with them. The one time I won’t help them is when they aren’t really asking for help, they are looking to get out of work. What’s a mom to do?

Look and Observe – Before simply giving my child an answer to their question, I first want to be sure I’m paying attention and understand if my child needs help. More often than not they know what to do. It’s just faster to ask mom. However, if there’s a genuine need, I want to give them my full attention so we can master this area of learning.

It’s New – Once I look at the work, I need to determine whether or not this is a new skill. Sometimes they need the help and others they are merely intimidated by the newness and want me to tackle it for them. I will walk them through the problem and guide them to finding the answer for themselves. More than likely, they’ll also see additional practice in this area over the next few weeks, just to make sure we master this skill set.

It’s Been a While – Especially after several weeks off (during holiday months), coming back to book work can be a challenge. While these skills may have been taught in the past, it’s been a bit and my kids could use a little help with review. I won’t give them the answers, but I will walk them through the process and guide them to the answer. Additional work over the course of the week might also be an option.

It’s a Lot – Yeah, they know how to do the work; trust me. However, the problems staring them in the face are daunting. The thought of having to work through ten long division problems just isn’t appealing. (And why would it be?) When this concern hits us, I weigh the skill being taught. If this is a skill they’ve done many times, I will usually reduce the amount to be done and watch as they work through the rest. If it’s new, I sit next to them and we walk through all of them with lots of encouragement from mom.

They’re Being Lazy – It happens, even with my kids. The kids have decided they don’t want to do their lessons and figure if they nag mom enough she’ll give in and, in frustration, pick up the pencil to show them how easy it is to work the problem. (It’s been known to happen. Sad, I know.) Sure, I could let it slide and let them do the work another day or pick up the pencil and do the work for them, as mentioned, but what would this teach them? Our kids need to learn that not all work is easy. There are going to be days when we don’t want to finish the work, but that is part of maturing. At that point, the lesson is no longer about the work in front of them, but about teaching them diligence and good work ethic. I will encourage them, but finish the work they will and without me writing the answers in for them!

I Help – Let’s face it, at times we all need help. If the help needed isn’t a matter of shirking responsibility, mommy is more than willing to help. All they have to do is ask!

As parents we want to help our children. Sometimes helping our children means teaching them to help themselves, gaining independence and confidence. I will help our children, if I can, but doing work for them is where I draw the line. Some things they need to do themselves.

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
~ Titus 2:7-8

Your Turn!: How do you determine the difference between your kids needing help and them trying to shirk responsibility?

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Our January Reads

our_january_readsThe new year is underway and it’s been a while since we’ve shared what’s recently hit our reading shelf. It has been a wonderful few months of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. Our list has a few reads which were recommended for personal development, and others which added to our learning fun. All were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Books for Adults

  • Of Mess and Moxie (Jen Hatmaker) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Jen Hatmaker, beloved author,mess_and_moxie Big Sister Emeritus, and Chief BFF, offers another round of hilarious tales, frank honesty, and hope for the woman who has forgotten her moxie.
  • People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks) ⭐⭐⭐ – From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor E. Frankl) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.

Learning Books for the Family

  • Welcome to New Zealand: A Nature Journal (Sandra Morris) ⭐⭐⭐ – A gorgeous guide to creating a nature journal that will inspire kids around the world to chronicle what they see in their own backyards.
  • Stupendous Science: 70 Super Cool Experiments You Can Do At Home (Rob Beattie & Sam Peet) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Learn to make ice cream with salt, a book_of_bonessmartphone projector, a lava lamp and more with this brilliant book of simple home experiments!
  • Seek and Find: National Parks ⭐⭐ – Travel through twelve of the most-visited national parks in North America.
  • Storyworlds: Nature (Thomas Hegbrook) ⭐⭐- Explore the beauty and wonder of nature in this wordless picture book-and let your imagination bring everything to life!
  • In Focus, 360 Degrees (Libby Walden) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Ten illustrators take a complete look at the world around us, traveling the globe to find a fresh perspective.
  • Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures (Emily Hawkins) ⭐⭐⭐- From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures comes this prehistoric journey of discovery.
  • Maps (Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Much more than an ordinary atlas, this book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis.
  • The Book of Bones: 10 Record Breaking Animals(Gabrielle Balkan)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- It’s a book of world records… of bones! Guess whose bones are the longest, shortest, heaviest, spikiest, and more. With touchable skeletons!

Storybooks

  • The Wonderling (Mira Bartok) ⭐⭐- Mira Bartok tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.
  • Brave Red, Smart Frog (Emily Jenkins) ⭐⭐⭐- Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor. language_of_thorns
  • The Book of Dragons (E. Nesbit) ⭐⭐- Dragons — of all sorts — make for marvelous fun, and this collection of madcap tales is filled with them.
  • The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine (Mark Twain & Philip Stead) ⭐- A never-before-published, previously unfinished Mark Twain children’s story is brought to life by Caldecott Medal winners Philip Stead and Erin Stead.
  • The Language of Thorns (Leigh Bardugo) ⭐⭐⭐- Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
  • The Magic of Misfits (Neil Patrick Harris) ⭐⭐- From beloved award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
  • The Glass Town Game (Catherynne M. Valente) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Charlotte and Emily Brontë must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel.
  • Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) – Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was interesting. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… Generally I enjoy Neil Gaiman books, but this one is especially dark and odd. The Magic of Misfits was a well-told story. I enjoyed it. Please note there is a character with two dads; it is not essential to the story but there none the less. The Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures was beautiful, but one should expect, “…millions of years ago…”. People of the Book was incredible! However, it did have a little language and, while no great detail is given, an affair is touched upon. Of Mess and Moxie is a riot, but not one for your teenage daughters. And, finally, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. It said Mark Twain. It also said previously unpublished. Maybe unpublished for a reason?

You may have noticed a few changes to our review format. It’s a work in progress, but one we hope will work better for you readers and us! Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading!

Your Turn!: What’s sitting on your bookshelf, waiting to be read this coming month?

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Why Aren’t My Kids Doing That?

Why_Arent_My_Kids_Doing_ThatDo you want a recipe for disaster? Come on, you know you’re a tad curious. Here you go… Take a well-intentioned and involved parent. Give them social media, opportunity to compare themselves to lovely but very active friends, and kids who enjoy doing things. Heap on a bit of nagging guilt they aren’t doing enough, and then set them loose. Before long said parent will start asking themselves the inevitable question, “Why aren’t my kids doing that?” And there you go!

I’ll be the first to admit I am totally speaking to myself on this matter. I enjoy being active. I hate the notion of missing out on an incredible opportunity. I want my kids to be able to do everything and anything their little hearts desire. Well, maybe not everything, but everything good. There in lies the trouble. How do I determine what is good for my children? Not everything is black and white. This isn’t necessarily a moral issue, but one of wisdom. Just because Johnny is in basketball doesn’t mean my little man needs this. Or wants this. Or that we can afford it. Or that we have the time. There is much to be considered. The same goes for homeschooling. That curriculum – field trip, academic course, college prep class, etc. – highly recommended by my community might be lovely, just not for us.

Before we bury ourselves under mounds of guilt or stress our families, perhaps the better question to ask would be whether or not our kids should be doing that. Whatever that is. Instead, we often spend too much of our time comparing ourselves to others and attempting to add yet another thing to our ever-growing list of to-do’s. And should we discover we can’t do that then parental guilt sets in.

When I’m tempted to travel this path of destruction, may the Lord remind me of these few things:

He Hears – Not my complaining mind you. (Although He is too often forced to hear me groan.) The Lord hears my heart! He knows my anxiety stems from a desire to minister to my babies and give them what is best.

He Understands – That disappointment and stress I’m feeling seems overwhelming, but He knows what I’m going through. He also understands better than I what is best for my children.

I Cannot Do it All, Nor Am I Being Asked To – This post is not being written by Supergirl, no matter how much I’d like it to be so. I need to stop expecting to function at ridiculous levels of busy and wearing that badge of honor. Then remember the Lord isn’t asking this of me either.

I Am Me – Simple, right? I wish! There are times I have to force myself to remember this. I am not you any more than you are me. Or that family down the street with the perfect lawn. Nor the homeschool family in the community who seems to be excelling with flying colors. I am not them. I am me. And all God asks is that I be what He wants.

There is a Time for Everything – Just because we aren’t doing that right now, doesn’t mean we won’t ever do it. It needs to be in God’s timing or I don’t want to move. God’s timing is always best.

This Has No Power Over Me – That nagging guilt? The stress of doing everything for all my people? I don’t have to claim it or keep it. By the power and the grace of God, I have the ability to hand those over to Him and let them go.

That recipe I shared with you? Ditch it. Trust me on this. It will leave a bitter taste in your mouth, have you feeling empty afterwards, and rob you of all joy. Instead may we learn to appreciate the wide world of ideas which surround us for what they are, possibility. Let us admire one another’s adventures, yet remain confident in our own. And above all, seek first the kingdom of God. He’ll add whatever else is needed.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
~ Colossians 3:23

Your Turn!: What is one opportunity you’re glad you took advantage of this year?

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Review: The Thrifty Time Travelers Series

TTT_BlogTour_18

“What follows is the guidebook, exactly as it was discovered on a sidewalk outside Frank’s Pizza in Manhattan in AD 2018.”
~ The Thrifty Guide to  Ancient Rome (Uncorrected Text)

I love books. I love history. I love hearing my kids laugh. So when I have an opportunity to combine all three into a fun afternoon of reading, you know I’m going to be all over it. This month we had the opportunity to review The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers by Penguin Random House and Jonathan W. Stokes and we can’t wait to share this funny, educational book series with you. We’re still cracking up laughing and enjoying the multitude of lessons to be found within their pages!

Set in the distant future, The Thrifty Guides are a humorous look at what happens when we travel back in time to discover the history of the world. Both are written from the perspective of Time Corp, presenting a complete vacation package for tourists. Each book seeks to help you make the most of your trip offering locations you might wish to visit, events you could participate in, and people to have lunch with. Currently three Thrifty Guides are available: The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome, and The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece.

We received an advanced reader edition of both The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, along with a clever “Passport for Time Travelers” which included passport stickers for both our travels and an additional passport sticker for The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece. Suggested as early reader novels, our ten-year-old son was given these books to be used during his reading time after Mom had ensured the books were both clean and met family standards.

 

Ancient RomeThe Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:

  • Where can I find a decent hotel room in ancient Rome for under five sesterces a day? Is horse parking included?
  • What do I do if I’m attacked by barbarians?
  • What are my legal options if I’m fed to the lions at the Colosseum?
Designed as a parody of Fodor’s, complete with humorous maps, reviews of top attractions (Julius Caesar’s assassination is a must-see!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Hannibal, assuming he doesn’t kill you). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.
Chapters include Roman Entertainment, Julius Caesar, The Roman Civil War, Quality Time with Cleopatra, and more! Our favorite portions of this book are “Important Warning Before Time Traveling”, “Top Five Ways to Die in Rome”, “How to Pilot a Horse”, and “Cleopatra’s Perfectly Normal Family Tree”. “People to Have Lunch With:…” is especially funny, and “Friendly Message from Your Corporate Overlord at Time Corp” is sure to have you rolling.

American RevolutionThe Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:

  • Where can I find a decent hotel room in colonial New England? Are credit cards accepted?
  • How can I join the Boston Tea Party without winding up in a British prison?
  • What do I do if I’m being shot at by a cannon?
Designed as a parody of Fodor’s, complete with humorous maps, reviews of places to stay and top attractions (Don’t miss Paul Revere’s midnight ride!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Alexander Hamilton, naturally). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.

Chapters include The Boston Tea Party, The Battles of Lexington and Concord, The Siege of Boston, The Declaration of Independence, The Battle of Cowpens, and more! Fun  features we enjoyed are “Your Odds of Being Hit by a Musket Ball” and “Your Odds of Being Hit by a Rifle”, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting… to Be Shot by a Cannon”, “A Message From the Good People at the Time Patrol”, and “Letters From Time Corp’s Complaint Department”. Thrifty_Guides

Written by former teacher and rising Hollywood screenwriter, Jonathan Stokes, The Thrifty Guides were very funny, simple to read, and educational. There were a ton of fun facts, silly illustrations, and interesting notions on the concept of time travel. We enjoyed them tremendously and couldn’t wait to tell you all about these wonderful books. If you’re a fan of history, or happen to be studying any of these areas in your learning adventures, you’ll definitely want to give these books a try.

On sale now, you’ll find The Thrifty Guides to be a wonderful addition to your learning bookshelf. We had a great deal of fun reading both The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, and look forward to searching out The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece soon!

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Your Turn!: If you could travel back in time to any era, which would it be?

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Does Your Child Have a Mentor?

Does_Your_Child_Have_a_MentorI was flattered, truly. Here was a mama entrusting her daughter to my care, asking me to mentor through the process of becoming engaged and married. Unfortunately, what followed was less mentoring and more a mom looking for me to back her up on everything she said. As my own daughters approach adulthood, these memories come to mind and I find myself asking a few pertinent questions. Does my child need a mentor, and how do I go about getting one?

I am by no means a “young mom” any longer but this doesn’t mean I have it all down or that I don’t need guidance from time-to-time. So today I hope you’ll help me out. Because the truth is my experience with mentors is slim. Slim to none. I grew up in a generation that thought older people had nothing to teach us, and the older generation was fed up with us and left us to our own devices. Even within the church, I confess I’ve never had an older lady mentor me. I wish I had.

I always thought mentors were people the Lord naturally brought into your life. People you admired, respected, and thought could teach you something. It didn’t need to be one person who fit the bill. We could obtain mentors for various aspects of growth and learning. One might show us how to be a better wife, while another seemed to have the parenting thing down. We might respect someone’s business and wish to glean from their wealth of knowledge. What mattered most was that our mentors be wise, patient, willing, and Godly.

So here I stand. – Okay, sit. – Wondering what your thoughts are on helping our children find appropriate mentors….

  • Did you have a mentor growing up?
  • If so, how did you find your mentor?
  • Do you consider your parents mentors?
  • Do you have a mentor now?
  • Did you approach your mentor, seeking them out, or did the Lord naturally bring you together?
  • Do you feel your children need outside mentors? (Assuming they look to you first.)
  • Have your growing children expressed a desire for a mentor or naturally found one?
  • How can we facilitate Biblical mentoring for our children?
  • Is it our responsibility to find our children a mentor or their own?
  • What should we be looking for in a good mentor?
  • Should our mentors be older than we are, or merely more experienced?

There are so many fascinating aspects to this discussion, and we look forward to hearing all your helpful thoughts. While it’s obvious we don’t have all the answers to this topic, we’re confident in this… God knows what our children need even more than we do, and will provide if only we ask.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

Your Turn!: Please share your thoughts on this topic, and help others who are seeking answers!

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Help, We Started Late!

Help_We_Started_LateLet’s face it, there are times in life when we all run a little behind. We arrive to appointments late, we show up tardy for Christmas dinner, and perhaps don’t get the bills in the mail on time. As homeschoolers, the one time we shouldn’t have to worry about running late is during our learning day.

Each of us is on our own schedule. We all have a routine which best meets our family’s needs. Once we have established ourselves it can be all too easy to start feeling like a failure when we vary our day or even our week. We get up a little late and it seems the whole day is out of focus. Life hands us a curve ball and school for the week is a total loss.

Instead of allowing this situation to get the best of us perhaps we need to look at this from a different angle. We are homeschoolers. Unless our state or PSP mandates a particular day-to-day routine, we have the freedom to start our learning any time we like! There is no ‘running late’ to start arithmetic and science. There is no waking up ‘late’. Apart from outside appointments, running late is nonexistent.

To take this a step further, we might even consider these occasional variations in our routines a blessing. Maybe we needed that extra sleep and our bodies are renewed. Maybe we needed those extra minutes to get the science project done. Whenever we experience a slight change in our schedule, this doesn’t mean we are failing or running behind, it means we are adjusting our day to best meet our family’s needs. Sometimes that means more sleep, sometimes that means a longer learning lesson, and sometimes – in my case – we decide our local theme park looks good today.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I like routine. I thrive on routine as a matter of fact. I am the first one to admit ‘running late’ is a frequent worry of mine. There is a time and place for having a schedule; many of us benefit from a daily plan. However, we need to plan our day; not let our plan run our day. Don’t live for the routine.

This month, as most of us head back to our learning routines, I pray we all forget the imaginary clock in our heads; the one that tells us we ‘didn’t start on time’. Instead, let us live each day to the fullest; grateful for each moment we have with our kids.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

Your Turn!: What helps you get back on track when things seem to be running a little longer than you planned for?

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When Our Children’s Anger Feels Personal

When_Our_Children's_Anger_Feels_PersonalShe just snapped at me. Why did she snap at me? As I walked by her room, all I did was poke my head in the doorway and ask if she needed anything. Instead of the cheerful response I was hoping for, I received a scowl and a short reply. Now, I’m nursing hurt feelings and wondering why my child’s anger feels personal.

Am I the only one who takes their children’s outbursts to heart? Please tell me I’m not alone. It’s difficult enough managing feelings of guilt when I know I’ve stepped out-of-bounds, but even more of a challenge when I’m left scratching my head wondering what has gone wrong. What’s a parent to do?

We Need to Pray – First, foremost, and always. I pray for myself and how I should handle this. My child, so they are willing to hear. I pray for wisdom, to know when to speak and when to remain quiet. That the Lord’s will be done and relationships restored. Reading Scripture is also key. The Word allows God to speak to my heart and direct my steps.

Emotions Have Nothing to do With This – How I feel about this situation is not important. Yes, I am hurt, but I need to step back from the pain and evaluate the situation for what it truly is. A lesson, a spiritual battle, an opportunity to disciple my child, or a character training moment. I want the emotion to run clean through me, so there is nothing left but Christ and what He wants for our family.

This Isn’t About Us – Often, I hoist my children’s choices upon my own shoulders and this is wrong. They are their own people with freewill. While I am responsible for discipling and training my children, I cannot dictate their every move or be held accountable for their actions; they have to choose to do right. Their guilt is not my own. Instead of making this about me, I need to redirect my thinking towards drawing my children closer to the Lord and what He wants to do in their lives.

What’s Really Going On? – Poor behavior is without excuse and should be dealt with. There will be consequences for stepping out of line. But before we can determine appropriate ramifications or restore relationships, I want to understand what is happening with my child. Sometimes the action is unintentional; they were interrupted while finishing a project and acted without thinking. They are hungry or tired. Other times there are deeper issues at work. When the Lord opens the door, we communicate and start moving towards resolution.

Our Responsibility – While I am not directly accountable for my children’s poor choices, I do have a responsibility to fulfilling my role as a parent. I need to ask myself if I am discipling and training the way God has commanded, and whether or not I am being as involved as I should be. Then am I able to move forward with confidence.

I love my children. I enjoy seeing their happy faces light up as we’re having fun and learning new things. So when they are having a hard day or a tough moment it breaks my heart. Especially when they choose to take it out on me. Through the guiding of the Holy Spirit and a large dose of prayer, I’m learning to step back and remove myself from the equation. This isn’t about how I feel. What’s important is understanding my child and guiding them toward a righteous relationship with their Father.

May He be magnified and glorified in us and through us, as long as we have breath.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
~ Proverbs 15:1-4

Your Turn!: What is your favorite way of “Tying Strings” with your children?

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