First Impressions

first_impressionsSometimes I wonder what kind of impression my family gives to other people. I do not refer to the way we dress or even the appearance of our home. No, I am speaking of ourselves. I wonder what people see when they catch a glimpse. Do we seem like a happy family? Or are we uptight, strict, or too lenient?

Sometimes the only witness people will have, both regarding our faith and our homeschooling, is a quick glimpse of our family as we pass them by. In that moment of time, what do they see? Do they see mommy stressed and the kids unmanageable? Perhaps they see a less than glorious moment, but how we manage the situation speaks to their heart.

While at first it might seem as if impressions are unimportant, this isn’t entirely true. If people cannot move past the presentation, how will they see the heart of Christ? For this reason alone, it seems important to continually be on guard about how we conduct ourselves.

While no family is perfect, I do wish to encourage our family to seek good continually. If we strive for righteousness at home, then doing so while out in public will be that much easier. If we are constantly focusing on how to be honorable and respectful, it will not be a “front”, but a natural way of life.

When stepping out with my family, we remind ourselves of what we represent… God and homeschooling. This helps all of us remember other people are watching and what they see will leave a lasting impression.

I distinctly remember two different circumstances:

  • One afternoon my children and I were on a field trip, attempting to get on an elevator. One of my children just wasn’t listening and there were several people waiting for her to move. Not even thinking, I hastily grabbed her arm and dragged her to where she needed to be. The other ladies in the elevator looked at her and then at me; it was very obvious I had made a poor impression on them and nothing I could say would change their mind about my patience level or my parenting. Talk about embarrassment on my part!
  • On a different afternoon, the kids and I were grocery shopping. A lady stopped me in the store and complimented us on how well-behaved and happy our kids were. She noticed the kids were singing and very helpful. What a pleasure to know we left a good impression.

In one of the above circumstances, I would have had the freedom to share what we do and why we do it. In the other, I’m afraid the ladies wouldn’t have listened to a word I had to say and I can’t blame them!

While we cannot be perfect all the time, nor should we be expected to, I want to be mindful of the impression we leave with other people. Leaving a good impression isn’t about “dazzling” someone, but rather leaving a door open to explaining why we homeschool or anything else. It is being a silent witness for all the world to see.

Not all first impressions are accurate, true, but they do leave their mark. Before people will hear a word which comes out of my mouth, they will “hear” my actions. When people see me, do they see Christ? I want to make sure they are seeing the truth and they are hearing my heart, not a momentary imperfection that will close their hearts to learning more.

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
~ Philippians 1:27

Your Turn!: How do you feel about first impressions?

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Do You Feel Like a Ping-Pong Ball?

do_you_feel_like_a_pingpong_ballOur neighbors have five kids. At one point they homeschooled all five, each child having completely separate curriculum. I learned a lot from our afternoons together. One basic lesson l learned was that having five kids took a lot of work. I could bounce around like a ping-pong ball all day or find a better way to make this happen. For our family, the best method of tackling the concern of teaching four kids is to do as much as possible together, as a group. If we can learn something as a family, that is what we do.

While there are some areas of learning which require individual study, mainly grammar and arithmetic, there are just as many – if not more – we can do together. Bible, history, science, geography, economics, and logic are all areas of learning we not only do as a group, but have more fun doing so. Thus, we spend the bulk of our day learning together.

How can all four of our kids, who happen to all be two years apart in age, learn the same material when they aren’t the in same grade? Good question!

Grade, Smade – Exactly who determines what gets taught at each ‘grade level’? Why can’t a five-year-old learn biology and a fifteen year old study life science? What’s important isn’t the ‘grade’ our child is in, but that the material being covered is done thoroughly and in such a way our child understands. I would also encourage us to challenge our children in their learning. This might mean a higher level for our younger kids and a more basic for our older; each child should be taught at their level, not their ‘grade’.

Middle Ground – To help all our children follow the lessons (the littles not being overwhelmed and the older ones bored), we try to reach for the middle. By teaching to the average, the littles are slightly challenged, but not lost in the mix. This also allows for the older children to participate in the bulk of our group activities, while additional assignments and projects are given to increase their learning in this area.

What, Again? – Once you’ve been homeschooling a while, you start to notice something. History repeats itself; so does science, literature, grammar, and almost everything else. We cover certain aspects of science in first grade, right? Guess what. We covered them again in second, with a little more added. Oh, and we did it again in third, then fourth, and yet again in fifth. Perhaps we should stress less about skipping a ‘grade’ with our kids, missing out on material, and just focus on them learning the concepts we’re teaching now. Odds are, whatever we didn’t get this year is going to be covered again next, and the year after that.

What about high school? Not much has changed. There is no reason our eight year old can’t learn a little biology along with our big girl. He might not participate in all activities, but he’ll have projects of his own. Our big girl might have a few additional projects tailored just for her, but this will teach her to work independently. There is no reason the bulk of our studies can’t still be enjoyed as a group, it just takes a little imagination and dedication. In the long run, it’s still less work and more financially feasible.

Do I still have days when I feel like a ping-pong ball? Absolutely! That’s bound to happen when you have four kids, homeschool, run a business, and a household. However, we like to keep the bouncing to a minimum and do as much as we can together. It’s less work for mommy and, frankly, it’s just plain fun!

Your Turn!: I used ping-pong as an illustration of what my day can sometimes feel like. If you had to compare your day with a game, which would it be?

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Taking Care of Us…

taking_care_of_usIf you’ve ever been flying you’ll remember receiving the necessary safety speech at the beginning of the flight, “In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling, ready for use.” As parents, our first instinct would be to put the mask on our children and protect them from harm. The exact opposite is true. The mask first needs to be put on you and then on your children. Why? Because airlines have embraced one important fact: We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of our kids. We need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our kids. We can’t help them if we’re dead.

Sadly, this fact escapes us in everyday life, doesn’t it? We tend to put our own needs – Note, I said needs and not wants. – behind everyone else’s. We eat last. We sleep less. We hardly remember to drink two cups of water a day, much less ten. We push ourselves to the limit to get things done. We overburden ourselves with ‘responsibility’, and we go until we drop. While I find it admirable, caring for others, we also need to be taking care of ourselves.

Eat – Let me be the first to admit, I don’t eat enough. And when I do, I don’t eat the right things. For years, I lived on Snickers and Coke. (And still paying the consequences.) If we aren’t feeding our bodies the right food, how can we expect our bodies to function properly? If we aren’t functioning properly, how can we be expected to care for others? Eat a healthy, balanced diet and do it regularly.

Drink – Yup; I’m bad at this, too. It wasn’t until I started making myself sick from lack of hydration that I started to take this seriously. Do yourself a favor… drink some water!

Sleep – Most of us don’t get enough of this either. If you can’t get eight solid hours during the night, consider taking short, afternoon naps. If you’re having trouble sleeping (which I do on occasion), narrow down the reasons why. Does your body need nourishment or hydration? Perhaps you need a little exercise? Which leads us to…

Exercise – You’d be amazed what just a twenty-minute walk everyday can do for your health and your mental well-being. If getting out of the house isn’t an option, find some form of activity which will get your heart pumping and your body moving. Play tag with the kids! They’ll think you’re loads of fun and you’ll get the exercise you need.

Time Out – Even if we’re doing everything else we’re supposed to, sometimes we just need a break. Affecting more our mental heath than physical (although it can start affecting our bodies), stress takes a toll. Don’t be afraid, or ashamed, to take a step back when needed. Ask for space. When you’ve had an opportunity to just breathe, you’ll find your able to function more efficiently.

Spiritual Filling – If we’re running low, it implies we need to be filled. Praying, reading the Word of God, and seeking fellowship with like-minded believers in order to be renewed and edified is key.

Conversation – I don’t know about you, but just hearing a friendly voice keeps me balanced. Sometimes we just need to talk with others who understand where we are and hear their wisdom on how to move forward. Never be ashamed to call on friends and ask to talk. Being able to express ourselves and unload the doubts praying on our minds maintains our mental health.

Seek Help – So, you’ve tried everything else and something still feels off? Call the doctor! It isn’t your imagination, it isn’t you being dramatic; there is probably a very logical reason for your feeling ‘down’. It might be hormones; it might be thyroid issues; it might be a vitamin deficiency (which is what mine was); or it could be something more serious. It’s better to have a professional weigh in on the situation and set your mind at ease. Have your family doctor do a quick check and let you know what’s really going on.

When we remember to eat, drink, sleep, and take time for ourselves, we better serve those around us. When our bodies are healthy, we are better able to minister with grace, mercy, and love. Taking care of your needs isn’t selfish, it’s essential. To take care of others, you sometimes must first take care of you.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
~ I Corinthians 6:19-20

Your Turn!: Which are you most likely to skip out on: food, sleep, or exercise?

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Homeschooling When Life is Less Than Ideal

homeschooling_when_live_is_less_than_idealWho wouldn’t love to homeschool under ideal conditions? We’d all have fabulous homeschool rooms – this is the dream after all – and organized bookshelves. Our children would gladly come to the learning area everyday ready to increase in wisdom, smiles on their faces and anticipation practically leaping through their veins. We’d all be healthy and happy. And our budget for homeschooling… What budget? Who needs a budget when you can buy whatever you want. However, odds are, you, dear reader, like myself, are not homeschooling in an ideal world. In fact, life is less than ideal. It’s crazy, and some moments in life are crazier than others. Take heart. You’re not alone.

Life, in-and-of-itself, can be chaos and then we add our children’s learning on top of it. It’s enough to make our heads spin. How are we supposed to do learning when a chronic illness hits, or a tragic accident occurs? When is there time to school when we’re too busy looking for work, or a place to call home? And where are we supposed to get the budget for books when we’re just trying to put bread on the table? We ask ourselves all these questions and more. Perhaps we wonder if we should even be homeschooling right now. Maybe it just isn’t the time.

As we wade through the emotions which bombard us and the doubt which seeks to plague our minds, may the Lord gently remind us of a few things…

He Knows – It does not matter that no one else seems to understand what we are going through. Our Lord and Savior does. He hears our hearts – the aches, the tears, and the unspoken words – and understands. (Hebrews 4:15)

He is with Us – No matter where we are in life, He will never leave us nor forsake us. Our God walks with us through life’s crazy challenges and carries us through it all. We are not alone! (Isaiah 41:10)

He Loves Us – Though all others may turn away, God is always there with open arms. He loves us so much He willingly sent His Son to live for our example, die for our sin, and rise to give us hope. He loves beyond anything we could imagine. (John 3:16-17)

He is in Control – There is no power greater than God. He breathes, and life is created. He is directing our future and holding us in His hands. In this we can rest and be secure. (Isaiah 41:13)

He Has a Plan – We may not know what tomorrow brings, but God not only knows, He works it towards His good. Our current chaos is part of a bigger picture which will one day be a lovely thing to behold, and the deepening of our relationship with Him. (Rom. 8:28)

There are Greater Lessons to be Learned – Learning takes on many aspects, and not always through a book. Patience, kindness, long-suffering, gentleness, wisdom, grace, mercy, ministry, servitude. May we be open to life’s lessons when book learning needs to be momentarily put on hold.

Very few of us are homeschooling under ideal circumstances. Many of us are homeschooling under hard circumstances. Some of us are waging war against the troubles of this world. No matter where we are today, may the Lord touch each of us; right where we are. May He speak to our hearts, calming our minds and filling our souls. May we be reminded that He who called us is greater than our biggest challenge and our worst day. Our circumstances might not be ideal, but our God is perfect. And He is in control.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
~ Isaiah 41:10

Your Turn!: How can we pray for you and your family this month?

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Review: Drive Thru History Adventures

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

-Dave Stotts

review_DTHAOne of the things you come to learn about Dave Stotts, host of Drive Thru History Adventures, is that he loves cheese! You will also discover his passion for history. The two come together perfectly in Drive Thru History Adventures, a unique online platform dedicated not only to teaching history itself, but instructing with a Biblical perspective. It has been a month-long adventure reviewing this incredible resource, learning more than we could have imagined. And the fun has just begun!

What is Drive Thru History Adventures? This amazing online platform contains a wealth of history curriculum and more, based on the popular Drive Thru History video series. Included in Drive Thru History Adventures are a helpful Dashboard updating us on features added to the website, Curriculum, Resources, Community, and Adventures TV. Curriculum covers three separate areas of learning: Bible History, American History, and Ancient DTHA_watchingHistory. Each study includes twelve to eighteen episodes. Each episode provides students with a video lesson, suggested readings, worksheets including answer guides, and more! Resources include: Articles, Expert Papers, and more! For those who are interested, “Community” offers an opportunity to join a private Facebook group where families can discuss lessons learned and all things history. Adventures TV gives complete access to all the incredible videos from Drive Thru History Adventures, all in one convenient location.

For the purpose of our review, our family was given full access to the website, and the ability to download the free Drive Thru History Adventures app! While Mom was incredibly excited to explore every and all features available on Drive Thru History Adventures, our organized plan included sharing this resource with our oldest daughter, a junior in high school who loves history, and our son, a fifth grade student. Our daughter worked through the American History series, with the goal of several episodes per week with all areas of study complete. I had intended to have our son focus on the Bible History series, but quickly discovered the series to be identical to “The Gospels” DVD set our family had the blessing of reviewing last year, with a few additional articles. Thus, we chose to have our son focus on the Ancient History series, viewing the videos and going over additional resources with Mom. Mom focused on reviewing the Bible History series, taking in the additional articles previously unavailable.

Each series has much to offer, and while we could gladly talk for hours about the multitude of benefits this online curriculum has to offer, perhaps we should just hit the highlights…

DTHA_GospelsBible History Adventures – Bible History covers the life of Jesus Christ, from the visitation of Mary and Joseph to Christ’s death and resurrection, with the inclusion of Scriptural readings. For viewers who wish to participate in this feature, Drive Thru History Adventures has also created “The Gospels” Viewing Plan which takes families through Bible History Adventures during the months of December through April, with several episodes aligning with holidays! Using this as a weekly devotion, families will additionally be able to read through the four gospels by the close of the adventure series. We will continue to review until the coming Easter season is complete, and enjoy the additional articles as they are made available.

DTHA_AmericaAmerican History Adventures  This series discusses The United States’ loss of faith with England and the founding of a new nation. This series was a wonderful visual in helping my daughter better remember important historical events, people, and places. Mr. Stotts does an incredible job of keeping episodes light-hearted, yet educational, helping students remain engaged and interested. In addition, suggested reading selections were lovely, and a wonderful resource. We completed this series fully, and enjoyed each step of the adventure.

DTHA_AncientAncient History Adventures – This series covers everything from the rise of Western Civilization to Constantine, and the best of the ancient world. These episodes are slightly longer than the other two series, but more detailed in regard to battles and structures than the other two. My son and I finished two-thirds of the series, and will continue lessons throughout the next few weeks in order to complete the adventure. Thus far, it has been great fun. 

Working through each series was a blessing. The videos themselves are engaging, and entertaining. We loved being able to see places Mr. Stotts was discussing, walking amongst some of the most incredible historical landmarks in the world. My favorite spot in the Bible History Adventures was definitely the Holy Sepulcher. Our favorite spot in the American History Adventures was Boston, and its incredible Freedom Trail. We loved learning about Colossus and the Olympics in Ancient History Adventures.


JAG, coloring a Drive Thru History Adventures color page.

Each episode, in all three series, included PDF worksheets students may download. These would be beneficial for parents who wish to use these as followup to the lessons. We discovered the questions in the PDF were also included within the lesson themselves and chose to forgo printing and written responses for verbal discussion, as this better fit our needs. The questions were easily answered, even for my fifth grade son, if students paid attention to the included video. Each episode included “Side Roads” and “Dig Deeper” articles to enhance lessons. Both of these were extremely valuable in gaining a bigger picture of each portion of history.

Outside of our Adventure History series, we enjoyed the additional features of Drive Thru History Adventures. Being a part of the Facebook Community page has been fun. We have the ability to share discoveries with other families, and hear the joy of their learning. Dave’s Mailbag is an opportunity to ask Mr. Stotts questions about his adventures, and history itself, and have him answer us personally! Adventures TV allows us to view all the videos from each series all in one handy location, with bonus video adventures such as “Behind the Scenes” and “Dave’s Adventures”, which teach us additional lessons on history. (Yes, there is even a video on the history of cheese!) We especially found Adventures TV to be handy when needing to review a particular video. Drive Thru History Adventures is also an app! All the videos on Adventures TV in one little app, making it easy to learn history when not at home.

DTHA_PatchesThis has been a month-long adventure in history study. We’ve been blessed to see some incredible places, learn of important historical figures, and gain a deeper understanding of the world God created. We were even blessed with receiving Drive Thru History Adventure patches and stickers! To say we’re overjoyed with both the website and what we’re learning would be an understatement. We can’t wait to see what the rest of this year brings, and discover new adventures with Drive Thru History Adventures and Mr. Dave Stotts.

If you’d like to learn more about Drive Thru History Adventures, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. But don’t wait too long! Right now, they are offering “The Gospels” DVD set to those who join with an annual membership. Drive Thru History Adventures is also offering 20% off annual subscriptions for readers of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Two great deals!

To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Drive Thru History Adventures has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: Which historical site would you most like to visit?

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Our February Reads


It has been a love-ly month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. February’s list has a new read we highly recommend for homeschoolers, a few which developed personal skill, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads 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 Homeschooling Encouragement:

  • Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask (Israel Wayne)answers_for_homeschooling ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – You’ve made the decision to homeschool. Suddenly, you find that some of those who were once in your corner supporting you are now questioning your competency as a parent and maybe even your sanity. This book equips you to answer the critic in your life with resolve and confidence.

Books Personal Skill Development:

  • Cool Crocheting for Kids (Alex Kuskowski) ⭐⭐⭐- Learn about the basics of fiber arts while creating cool stuff. The Cool Crocheting for Kids title teaches the first steps of how to crochet. Activities will help kids use what they learned to make a beaded bracelet, a fun hat, a cute clutch and more.extraordinary_hand_lettering
  • Extraordinary Hand Letter: Creative Lettering Ideas for Celebrations, Events, Decor & More (Doris Wai) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Extraordinary Hand Lettering opens your eyes to the endless possibilities in the world of creative lettering, showing you how to work with types of surfaces, such as wood, glass and acrylic, chalk, and even mirrors.
  • The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering: Create & Develop Your Own Style (Valerie McKeehan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Valerie McKeehan, an Etsy standout whose work has been featured in magazines and websites from Good Housekeeping to, teaches us everything we need to know to create gorgeous hand-drawn chalk designs. The book is also a practice space, with three foldout “chalkboards”—the inside cover and foldout back cover are lined with blackboard paper.

Books as Learning Resources:

  • Atlas of Miniature Adventures (Emily Hawkins) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Discover the world’s smallest adventures with this beautifully illustrated journey around the world from the award-winning team behind Atlas of Adventures.bees_whatonearth
  • Bees (What on Earth?) (Andrea Quigley & Pau Morgan) ⭐⭐⭐ – With links to culture, history, arts and crafts, as well as the science behind the topic, this book will help both parents and teachers to encourage children to engage with the natural world through exploration, creativity, and investigation.
  • Lonely Planet How Animals Build (Moira Butterfield & Tim Hutchinson) ⭐⭐⭐ – “From birds, to mice, and even underwater creatures, this book covers a vast array of examples from the animal kingdom and is sure to hold a surprise or two.”

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 acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… (1) If you’ll remember from earlier this month, we did a review of Answers for Homeschooling in detail. We honestly can’t say enough good things about this book. Get it; it’s fantastic! (2) I have no artistic ability, whatsoever, but I do appreciate typography in a big way. Thus, I’m attempting to learn and these resources are huge help. Now, to get a chalkboard large enough to have some fun… (3) The Atlas series is visually fun; one of the main reasons we keep coming back to it. It being a great way to learn doesn’t hurt either. (4) How Animals Build seemed like a great title, and we weren’t disappointed. It is a lift-the-flap picture book, but don’t discount it’s content; there is much to gain from this thin read. (5) And, while I am crazy scared of bees having been bitten in my mouth before, I can’t seem to stop picking up books on these amazing, little creatures. Bees (What on Earth?) is a wonderful resource for learning.

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. Aren’t books so much fun?!

Your Turn!: I have zero creativity in my bones, unless you count organization as an art. What creative skill are you working on developing right now?

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When The Kids Are Less Than Excited About School

when_the_kids_are_less_than_excited_about_schoolDo you ever have those days when you wake up well rested; ready to embrace the day? You’re popping at the seems to share some tidbit of learning with your kids you just know is going to have them doubling over with laughter or eagerly pouring over the activities you’ve planned. Then. Then, my friends. You wake the kids and they are not quite as excited about this learning day as you are. In fact, they are less than excited.

I love learning. Always have. I love teaching. I have since I was a child. Call me crazy, but there is something satisfying about creating lessons plans and seeing the bigger picture come together. It is a joy to see that spark ignite in another learner. But I can be honest. Despite what social media might present to you, not every day is a joy in The Homeschool Mom household. In fact, some days are downright hard. All those well-planned lessons? Somehow my kids don’t always see the joy in them or visualize that big picture I mentioned. They are out of sorts, and before true learning can take place we need to readjust some heartstrings.

From me to you, here is what God has shared with this mama thus far:

Pray – For them. For me. Pray together, for each other. For the situation. For His will to be done. First and foremost, or the rest is pointless.

Put Feelings Aside – My emotions tend to get the better of me. But if we’re going to get to the bottom of this situation, emotions are the last thing we need. Thus, how I feel has nothing to with it. This is about my child be righteous before God and us moving forward with His plan for our family.

Be Understanding – Not everyday is my favorite. I shouldn’t imagine it will be for my kids either. Instead of jumping down their throats, I want to extend grace and compassion. I get it. Mondays don’t rock for me either.

Be a Good Listener – Oh, this hard for me. I tend to want to fix it and move forward as quickly as possible, as if nothing happened. Yeah; that doesn’t always work. Scratch that. It usually never works. I need to listen, hear their heart and not just their words, and then we can make some decisions.

Determine Our Course – So we understand one another, now what? Unfortunately there is no easy, pat answer. Each situation might call for a different solution. I might rub their back for a few moments and tease them with all the fun things to come for the day. Other times might call for a bit of downtime after breakfast before they are ready to tackle learning. If the situation calls for it, back to bed might be best. In drastic situations, a complete change of venue livens up our day and we learn in the field. We allow the Lord to lead and set the course for our day.

Notice a Pattern? – I can understand one day being off course. Especially those pesky Mondays. But when Monday becomes Tuesday, which quickly turns into Wednesday and Thursday is no better? Then, my friends, we’re missing something. Is there a subject they are trying to avoid? Am I overloading them, or perhaps not challenging them enough? This might have nothing to with school at all, but a deeper issue which needs to be dealt with. I will not simply write this off as a “phase”, but instead focus on what is really at the heart of the problem. Only then will learning time return to the joy it once was, and true wisdom be gained.

In those moments when my kids are less than excited about their learning day, may I learn to be gracious, kind, and understanding. Better still, may I point them to the God of all wisdom who hearts their heart and best knows what they need. For without Him, learning has lost its meaning.

We might not be excited about today until we consider all God can do in us and through us in this short space of time. Who knows what possibility it holds? Only Him!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
~ Hebrews 4:15-16

Your Turn!: What are you excited about today?

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Review: Wulf the Saxon by Heirloom Audio Productions

“Fortunate are the few who marry for love.”

wulf_the_saxon_reviewWe’re up for another road trip and that can mean only one thing… another audio adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions! This trip we’re enjoying Wulf the Saxon by G.A. Henty, and exploring the history of the Norman Conquest.

Heirloom Audio Productions is “passionate about bringing real history to life”. This is obvious by the great lengths they put into each production. Their vast audio collection includes such titles as Under Drake’s Flag, In Freedom’s Cause, With Lee in Virginia, and more. Our newest story, Wulf the Saxon, centers around the year 1066 and the Norman invasion of England. It is voiced by an outstanding cast including Brian Blessed, Chris Larkin, Helen George, Jack Farthing, Sian Phillips, and Patrick Godfrey.

Wulf, a Thane in England, is page to Harold of Wessex. Through Wulf’s adventures we learn of Harold’s misfortunes with his brother William (the Conqueror), the Welsh wars, Harold’s ascension to the throne, an attempted assassination, and the eventual invasion and conquest by William.

As we prefer listening to audio theatre in one sitting, another day-trip would have given us the perfect opportunity to enjoy this wonderful audio drama. However, on this adventure we had along company which prevented us from finishing our tale. Instead, we enjoyed Wulf the Saxon over the course of several days during shorter drives. This did alter our listening experience slightly – as this required a short, mental review of what we’d heard thus far – but did not detract from our overall experience of the story. My oldest daughter and myself were the primary listeners. We discussed both story and overall impressions as we progressed through Wulf the Saxon.

Wulf the Saxon one would expect the story to contain a great deal of battle scenes and fighting. Listeners will not be disappointed. Truthfully we will more than likely revisit this wulf_the_saxon_audioaudio drama a few more times to fully appreciate all the historical characters who played a part in the Norman Conquest, and to understand the entirety of the battles. As we have not previously studied this piece of history in great detail, we ladies especially found the aspect of Harold’s choice of wife affecting his political standing to be of interest. We felt for him as he battled the decision to choose between the love of his life, Edith, and a bride who would hopefully provide peace for his country; asking ourselves which decision we would make. The story was well told, the voice acting superb, and the audio quality itself outstanding. We enjoyed Wulf the Saxon from an historical standpoint, and highly recommend the audio drama to young men who enjoy action/adventure stories.

As in our reviews of Captain Bayley’s Heir and In the Reign of Terror, families who’ve chosen to be members of the Live the Adventure Club will soon have access to a multitude of bonus resources for Wulf the Saxon, including the read-along. We’re very much looking forward to the Study Guide & Discussion Starter and more!

Once again we were amazed by the quality to be found in this extraordinary adventure by Heirloom Audio productions. Wulf the Saxon was a blessing to enjoy; one we look forward to revisiting time-and-time again.

If you’d like to learn more about Wulf the SaxonLive the Adventure Club, or Heirloom Audio Productions please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Do you have a favorite G.A. Henty Story?

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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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