Thursday, December 20, 2012

Econobusters/Molly Green Special

As homeschoolers we do our best to live frugally.  We try to survive on one or one-and-a-half incomes, so doing things to save money and provide our needs is very necessary.  You can get lots of great money-saving tips and tips on ways to be self-sufficient by reading Molly Green Magazine, and right now there is a great special for you to take advantage of:

You can become a Econobusters with Molly Green member for just $29 for the year of 2013.  This membership gives you the monthly Molly Green Magazine, access to three years of back issues, and access to all of Molly's E-Books.  Sign up for this great deal here.

Or you can get the SchoolhouseTeachers special AND Molly Green for just $69 for all of 2013!  Get the details on your options here.

These great specials are only available until the end of December 2012, so don't wait, sign up today!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

If you haven't read The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I encourage you to do so.  It is loaded with great tips, encouragement, inspiration and resources for home educating families.  It is a FREE online publication that you can view here or you can download the FREE app for Apple, Android and Kindle Fire here.

The movie, The Hobbit has just come out.  Have you seen it?  Well the current December issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine features an article called "Astronomy in The Hobbit" by Jay Ryan.  Check it out on page 107 at the link in the above paragraph.

Do you know about  It's a website that is managed by TOS as well.  It has school lessons available -- Everything you need for a full program or to fill in some curricular gaps or to have a high school student participate in some wonderful electives, like filmmaking.  There are over 25 different "school" subjects presented via teaching videos, ongoing lesson plans, worksheets, lapbooks, unit studies, writing prompts, and other assignments to choose from, students can additionally interact personally with the teachers by asking them questions and gaining feedback. has a variety of classes to help you make learning exciting!

Right now an annual membership to is just $49!  That's a savings of $15.26!

In addition to the videos, lesson plans, unit studies, etc., also offers learning games and puzzles, dozens of audio recordings of popular homeschool speakers on a variety of topics, teacher and student Schoolhouse Planners -- five total, daily menus for busy homeschool moms, all digital back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and so much more.

Here are some bonuses you'll get, if you order your annual membership to now -
a totebag in your choice of the new chocolate mint colors or the cranberry winter colors, plus a copy of the hot-off-the-press first Annual Print magazine, "The Best of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine".  It's over 275 pages!  You'll want to turn to this fantastic resource again and again throughout 2013!

There are other Free gifts for joining for a full year too, so what are you waiting for, go to and sign up today!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Our Christmas Brunch Recipes

I wish I had more time to post on here. I have many things I want to post, so don't give up on me, I'll get them all posted eventually.

Today, however, I need to post some recipes. My boys LOVE breakfast foods and a couple of years ago, when we actually spent Christmas day at our own home, they asked me to do a brunch. I made a variety of foods, as many make ahead as possible, and there was food available all day, allowing me to relax and enjoy the time with my family. So, this has quickly become a new tradition in our home.

Now I work for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine as an Advertising Sales Representative, a job I love and work from my own home, phone and computer, and I work after the homeschooling is done for the day. We are having a TOS Staff Christmas Party Expo next Thursday evening at 7 p.m. and you are welcome to join us. We will have a presentation on the origin of your favorite Christmas Songs and a presentation on Helping your Children Really See the Christ in Christmas, as well as a Vendor Workshop by Schola Publications where Barbara Beers will present a workshop, Spelling and Grammar and Latin, O MY! – Coordinating your language arts subjects into a seamless systematic study. To join us for this FREE Christmas Party Expo, go to: and register today! All of our staff members have shared their Christmas meal or favorite Christmas food item and links to the recipes will be given, and everyone interested in my recipes will be directed to this post, so without further ado, here are my Christmas Brunch recipes:

Note: All of my baking temperatures are Fahrenheit.

Sweet Scones

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
8 Tbsps. (1 stick) cold butter, cut up
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub with fingers until it looks like fine granules. Add sugar - toss to mix. Add milk and stir with a fork until soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured board - knead about 10-12 times. Roll out 1/2 inch thick; cut with a round cutter. (I use a round biscuit cutter, but a small canning jar works well too). Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 12 minutes until brown. Cool on wire rack.

Serve with mock Devonshire Cream and Lemon Curd or your favorite jam.

Mock Devonshire Cream

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream

In a medium bowl, cream together cheese, sugar and sale. Beat in cream until stiff peaks form. Chill until serving.

Lemon Curd

1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsps. finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsps.) unsalted butter, cut into Tbsp. pieces

Whisk together zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a 2 quart heavy saucepan. Add butter all at once and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 10 minutes. Immediately, pour curd through a fine sieve into a bowl, then chill, covered.

(Lemon curd keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week)

Monkey Bread

30 buttermilk biscuits (I use Pillsbury)
1 stick butter (melted) add 1 cup brown sugar and stir until smooth.

Pull biscuits apart and place in staggered layers in a bundt or tube pan and pour butter and brown sugar mixture over the biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then invert onto a flat plate.

French Sweet Bread

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I omit the salt unless using unsalted butter, then use 1/4 - 1/2 tsp)
6 Tbsps. melted butter
4 cups flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups total)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Dissolve yeast in water. Heat milk to lukewarm. In a different bowl, combine egg, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, if using.
2. Add yeast, milk and 4 Tbsps. butter and mix again. Add flour gradually till it can be gathered into a soft ball. Blend in remaining flour with fingers.
3. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Use remaining butter to keep fingers from sticking. Don't use any more flour.
4. Place in lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled. Punch down and knead a few times. Divide in half, then divide each half into 3 pieces and roll each piece between hands into a long rope.
5. Braid ropes from middle, pinching ends together. Form into ring if desired, place on oiled baking sheet.
6. Cover and let double. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Easy Cheese Danish

For the Danish:
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Tbsps. All-Purpose flour
2 cans (8 oz. tube) Refrigerated Crescents Rolls

For the Icing:
1 cup Powdered Sugar
4 Tbsps. cream
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
2. Line bottom of baking pan with 1 can of crescent rolls. Pinch all seams together to seal.
3. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, white sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and sour cream. Spread filling on top of rolls. Place second can of crescent rolls on top of filling, with seams pinched.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar, milk and butter. After danish has cooled, drizzle with icing.

Fresh Orange Muffins

1 orange, with peel, quartered and seed removed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 large egg
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; spray a muffin tin (12) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Put orange quarters in food processor (or blender) along with orange juice and process or blend until pureed.
3. Add egg and butter to food processor and combine; pour into large bowl.
4. Combine dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add all at once to orange mixture.
5. Stir to combine.
6. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes; remove from oven and let stand in tin for 5 minutes before removing muffins.

Sticky Buns (I have not made these yet, but will probably make these in place of Monkey Bread this year, and the rotate with the Monkey Bread every other year)

2 1/2 tsps. active dry yeast 2 tsps. salt
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees) 2 Tbsps. margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups buttermilk 1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs 2 tsps. ground cinnamon
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup margarine, softened 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar 1/3 cup raisins
2 tsps. baking powder 1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add buttermilk, eggs, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup margarine, 1/2 cup white sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend 30 seconds with mixer on low speed, scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed.
2. Stir in remaining 3 cups flour. Dough should remain soft and slightly sticky. Knead for 5 minutes. or about 200 turns on a lightly floured board.
3. Form dough into a round and place it in an oiled bowl. Cover it with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm place to rise until doubled.
4. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a 12 x 7 inch rectangle. Spread each half with 1 Tbsp. soft margarine, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Roll up halves, beginning at wide side. Seal well by pinching seams. Cut each roll into 12 slices.
5. Coat two 9 inch round cake pans with 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup chopped pecans in one pan and 1/3 cup raisins in the other pan. Place 12 dough slices in each pan, leaving a small space between slices. Let rise until doubled.
6. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Invert pans onto serving plate.


1/3 cup shortening 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg 2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking soda 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cloves 1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1 cup molasses
1 cup hot water

1. Butter and flour a 9 x 9 cake pan.
2. Preheat oven to 375
3. Mix flour, baking soda and spices together.
4. Set aside.
5. Mix molasses and hot water.
6. Stir and set aside.
7. Cream shortening and sugar.
8. Add egg and mix well.
9. Alternately add dry ingredients and molasses mixture to creamed mixture.
10. Resulting mixture will be rather thin.
11. Pour into cake pan and bake for 45 minutes or or until a toothpick comes out clean.
12. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out.
13. Serve with whipped cream flavored with pure vanilla and sweetened with sugar.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast (1 Tbsp.)
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup margarine
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 cups flour


1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsps. cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine, softened

8 Tbsps. margarine
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese (2 oz.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

1. For the rolls, dissolve yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.
2. Add sugar, margarine, salt, eggs, and flour. Mix well.
3. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour.
4. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 21 inches long by 16 inches wide.
6. It should be approximately 1/4 inch thick.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
8. To make filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
9. Spread the softened margarine over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface.
10. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
11. Cut the dough into 1 3/4 inch slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan.
12. bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
13. While the rolls are baking, combine the icing ingredients.
14. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.
15. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

*Note: I do not make ALL of the above recipes every year. I pick and choose and rotate, but they are our favorites.

Baked Oatmeal

3/4 cup Natural Applesauce
1/4 cup Canola Oil
2 eggs 3 egg whites
2 cups brown sugar
6 cups Rolled Oats
4 tsps. Baking Powder
2 tsps. Salt
2 cups Milk 2 tsps. Vanilla

Mix everything together. Add 2 cups or more of fruit (such as mixed berries, blueberries, or sour cherries) with about 3/4 to 1 cup flour. Can add peaches or raisins too! When adding apples, add cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

16 slices white bread cubed without crust
1 lb. cubed ham (a small ham steak)
1 lb. sharp or mild cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese cubed
6 eggs
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp. onion salt or onion powder
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
3 cups crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup melted butter

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Spread half of bread cubes in your 9 x 13 pan. Top with ham and cheeses and cover with the rest of the bread cubes. Mix eggs, milk, onion salt or powder and mustard together and pour evenly over bread cubes. Refrigerate overnight. Put corn flakes in melted butter and spread over top and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Taco Quiche

2 pounds ground beef 3/4 cup chopped tomato
2 envelopes taco seasoning 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
4 eggs 1/4 cup chopped green onions
3/4 cup milk 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/4 biscuit/baking mix
Dash pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
2 to 3 cups chopped lettuce

In a skillet, brown beef; drain. Add taco seasoning and prepare according to the package directions. Spoon meat into a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. In a bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add biscuit mix and pepper; mix well. Pour over meat. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5-10 minutes. Spread sour cream over the top; sprinkle with lettuce, tomato, green pepper, onions and cheese. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings

Diane's Quiche

1 package spinach, thawed and wrung out. Put on bottom of pie plate. 5 or 6 garlic cloves, crush and put over spinach. Crumble feta cheese over top (3/4 to 1 cup). Cut 2 or 3 plum tomatoes into 1/8s and arrange over top, in a circle. Mix 1 1/2 cups milk, 3 eggs and 3/4 cup Bisquick together and pour over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting to serve.

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces) 1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 large eggs 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups half-and-half 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk Dash salt
2 Tbsps. granualated sugar Maple Syrup
Praline Topping (recipe follows)

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 x 13 inch baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup packed light brown sugar 1/2 tsp. ground nutmet
1 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsps. light corn syrup

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

Christmas Breakfast Casserole

1 pound bulk breakfast sausage, spice or mild 6 slices loaf bread, cubed
1 large onion, chopped 6 eggs
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper 1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper salt and black pepper
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, optional 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, crumble sausage and begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Add onions, peppers, and mushrooms, if desired. Cook until sausage is browned. Drain grease and set aside.

Place bread cubes into a greased 11 x 7 x 2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle sausage mixture over bread. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over sausage, pressing mixture down until bread is moist. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes or until brown and puffy. Cool 10 minutes; cut into squares to serve.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Hash Brown Casserole

1 cup butter, melted and divided 1 30-ounce package frozen shredded hash
1 10.75 ounce can cream of mushroom soup browns, thawed
1 cup sour cream 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 to 3 cups corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix 1/2 cup melted butter, cream of mushroom soup, and sour cream. Add hash browns and shredded cheese and mix well. Turn into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Evenly spread corn flakes over mixture. Pour remaining butter over top of casserole. Bake 1 hour; serve warm.

Yield: Makes 12 to 15 servings.

Taco Soup

1 pound ground beef (browned)
1/4 - 1/2 cup onion (minced or chopped)
2 cans kidney beans - do not drain
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups water

You can mix all of this together in a kettle on the stove or in a crockpot. Serve over tortilla chips and top with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

Holiday Tea

5 tea bags of regular black tea
2 cups boiling water
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsps. cinnamon
6 oz. can of orange juice concentrate
6 ounce of lemonade concentrate

Pour 2 cups boiling water over the 5 tea bags and let it steep for about 15 minutes. Then add the sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients. This makes a concentrate. To serve, add 3 Tbsps. of concentrate to 1 cup of hot water. To serve many, use 1 cup of concentrate to 5 cups of hot water!

I mix up a full batch and keep it warm in a crockpot. It is similar in taste to mulled cider. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Can You Afford to Homeschool Part 2

Today I would like to share some ways I have learned to stretch our money and live within our means.

If you haven't read the above magazine, I would like to recommend it.  It is loaded with great tips for saving money and making items from scratch.  You can find it at:  It costs a mere $3.85 a month to read online, or you can purchase single issues for $4.95 each.

First, I shop at a discount grocery store and the local Dollar Tree store.  These two stores are where I buy most of our groceries and household and toiletry items, including vitamins and some over-the-counter medicines.  I only go to a regular, full price grocery store for meats and the few things I may not be able to find at the other two stores.

I mentioned that we make a lot of food items from scratch.  I also make some of our household products myself out of common ingredients.  In future posts, I will share some recipes.

Almost two years ago I purchased a sewing machine and I make my own skirts.  I have made my own curtains.  I made the boys and my husband lounge pants.  I enjoy sewing and learning to make new clothing and craft items on my sewing machine.

When we need clothes that I cannot make, we go to the local consignment shops, used clothing stores, Good Will stores, or Salvation Army store. (I buy under items new at K-Mart).

I make homemade items for Christmas gifts.  (We do buy 1 or 2 items for the boys and we purchase stocking stuffers).

Also, to conserve things like gasoline, we don't go out unless we have to and we try to do as many things in the area we are travelling in as we possibly can instead of making multiple trips to the same area in a week's time.

In the spring, we plant a garden to help cut grocery costs.  It is a blessing and joy to be able to plant, grow and harvest our own food.

These are things we do to live frugally, and you can too.  You may just want to start small and try one or two steps at a time.  We didn't do all of this at once either, but it has become natural for us to do these things.  They have simply become a natural part of our lifestyle.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How Can You Afford to Homeschool?

Homeschooling requires personal sacrifice, but it is temporary and so worthwhile.  We only have our children for a while before they are grown and off living their own lives and creating their own families.  Sure, they'll come home for visits, but they won't need so much of our time and attention.

My husband and I chose through God's leading, eleven years ago, to homeschool the two boys we had at that time.  The oldest was in 2nd grade in a private Christian school and the younger in preschool in the same private Christian school, when God called us to homeschool.  I really hadn't worked outside of the home more than part-time work for a brief time, after adopting our first son, but I was working part-time when God called us to homeschool.  So, I quit my part-time job and contacted the only woman I knew that homeschooled to seek some advice and tips because I didn't know anything about it.

Our homeschool journey hasn't been easy for several reasons:  1) My husband is a general labor worker and         every job he's ever had has included times of lay-off; 2) our second son fought me tooth and nail about EVERYTHING, but most especially over doing school work of any kind.  It didn't matter if it was educational games, books I would read to him or worksheets I wanted him to do -- no matter what approach I took, he wasn't interested. So, I thought, like many moms do, maybe I'm not the right teacher for him; maybe he needs something I can't give him; maybe he would do better in a school setting.  (Now, I want to note here that he had problems in preschool in the private Christian school before this, but somehow I had forgotten that.)  So, we enrolled him in the local public school.  That lasted three months.  He didn't do any better there, and I got tired of the public school teacher complaining to me and blaming me for the time I had homeschooled him because "he hadn't had any structure before".  What did she know about our homeschool?  She had never asked me about it.  So, we brought him back home.

Then, one day as I was reading our local homeschool newsletter, I saw an advertisement that grabbed my attention.  It asked me questions about struggles I was having with my son, and said that if the answer to any of the questions was "yes", my child probably needed vision therapy.  I called and made an appointment and our son began vision therapy.  However, it wasn't long and my husband's job hit one of those lay-off times and I couldn't afford the vision therapy sessions anymore, and the therapist was not willing to work with us in any way.  So, we had to stop.  I was disheartened because I had begun to see some improvement during the time our son was getting that therapy.

Then I was talking with someone and found out that they had a child who was getting vision therapy, but not where we had been going.  This place was an hour's drive from our home in one direction!  Well, I called and we went, and what a blessing!  These people cared more about the patient than the money.  They worked with us, they gave my son more of a variety of activities for therapy and made them fun as much as possible.  And, the therapist spoke with me each and every visit and explained what they were doing, and the vision therapy doctor/evaluator allowed me in the room to watch the evaluation and he spoke to me throughout and told me things about my son's behavior that were right on the mark, and I said, "how do you know that?"  He told me that the issues of my son's eyes not working together properly are part of the cause of his behaviors.  I was astounded, but as my son progressed through the therapy, his behaviors improved dramatically.  By the time he completed the therapy, he seemed like a different child.  We didn't constantly butt heads anymore.

Now, back to the financial end of it.  During the times my husband was laid off from work, times were tough, but God always provided and we made it through, without even having to cut out co-op classes.  Somehow, God always provided.  No, we didn't have the money to buy everything we wanted or go all the places we wanted to go or do all of the things we wanted to do, but our needs were always met.  A couple of Christmases were tight as well, but we would make homemade gifts to give, which kept costs down.  We still do this.

I also learned to make more things from scratch to save money, like baking my own bread, baking cookies and cakes and muffins from scratch.  It's cheaper to keep ingredients on hand and make my own than to buy premade or ready mix.  I learned how to make my own granola cereal.  We ate oatmeal.  We made homemade pizza by making homemade dough.  I even learned how to make my own handsoap and laundry detergent, dishwasher rinse aid and other household items.  It really wasn't that difficult, but it took a little more time.  But the foods tasted better and are healthier because they don't have all those preservatives and stuff.

Right now, my husband is in a lay off period again.  He's been off work since the beginning of August and he hasn't been able to find another job.  But, this time, before his lay off, in the month of May, I found something interesting and appealing to me in the email inbox.  You see, I used to subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and also received their e-newsletters, and out of the blue, I received an email informing me that they were looking to hire some advertising sales representatives.  It gave me a bit of information about the position, and I was intrigued.  I spoke to my husband and showed him the email, and we decided that I would check it out.  I responded to the email, had a telephone interview, responded to another email and then received an email welcoming me to the TOS team -- I had gotten the job!  And, it was the kind of job I had wanted years before -- a job that I could work from home and set my own work schedule!  And, the best part of the whole thing was that I hadn't even been looking for anything.  I was living content in the life God had given me.  I believe that God had a hand in that email.  I now work as an advertising sales representative for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  I love my job and the people I work with and for, even though I have never met any of them face-to-face.  I'm not making much money, as this is a commission-based job, but I will get there.  It's the kind of job that requires time, patience and relationship building in order to begin to earn money, and I made my first sale in August and it was the only sale I made in August.  Then I made one sale in September, but I made four sales in October, and I've already made one in November, so I can see it building, and I am enjoying it so much, AND earning some money is better than earning no money.  It is a blessing, and I believe it was a gift from God and that he will continue to bless it.

So, yes, homeschooling is a self-sacrifice.  I don't get to go shopping or out with the girls, or even out with my husband very often, but our children are precious to us and we want what is best for them.  We believe that our teaching them at home where we can teach them our Christian beliefs and heritage, is what is best for them.  Our oldest graduated from high school last year, and we can already see how God is blessing the fruits of our labors because we were (and are) obedient to Him, as He is the one who called us to homeschool and we are doing our best to be faithful to Him who is faithful.  I don't believe we will regret our choice to homeschool, and we will have time and probably more money to spend upon ourselves when our children are grown, but I don't feel angry, frustrated or neglected because of the choice we have made.  I feel content and blessed, and I can see God's blessings in our lives even in the tough times.

So, my question is can you afford NOT to homeschool?

Friday, November 2, 2012

How Do You Homeschool with Toddlers?

I would like to begin this post by letting you know that it is not my writing that you will be reading.  I have never had to homeschool any children while having toddlers in the house, but I have lots of friends who have, and I know that this is a challenge for new homeschool moms.  Therefore, I will be sharing a short article on the subject written by my friend, Mrs. Lefever.  She wrote this for our local homeschool newsletter, The Scrawls:

     Every year I get asked that question (the title of this article).  It's been many years since I held not
only one of my own toddlers but my grandson, who's now eight years old, on my knee while I was explaining a math problem.  (She has graduated four of her children already).
     Homeschooling with toddlers can be a challenge but it can be done successfully.
     First, be flexible.  Not every homeschool day is going to look the same.  Some days you'll get more accomplished than others and that's okay.  (This applies to ALL homeschoolers).
     Second, be creative.  I used to keep a few boxes filled with toys that could only be played with during school time.  I would keep all the boxes but one in the attic and then switch the box every few weeks, so the toys were always "new" to the child.
     Keep your eyes open for real life lessons.  While driving the van, I noticed one small cloud in the blue otherwise cloudless sky.  I told the children about the story of Elijah (I Kings) praying for rain.  Then we talked about different types of clouds and the weather forecast for the day.  Science and Bible lessons done without a text book or a study guide, while driving to the doctor's office.
     Third, you're a homeschool family.  Have an older sibling read out loud to the younger ones.  Have coloring books, play dough or special snacks on hand.  "Washing dishes" in the kitchen sink was a favorite activity.  Everything got wet but it was only water and 9 times out of 10 my kitchen floor needed washed anyway.
     You will be surprised how much the younger children learn by just listening to you teach the older children.  Remember...this time is only for a season, treasure it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A New School Year

We have begun our new school year.  Today was our 16th day.  We are enjoying it.  I only have two students, as my oldest son graduated this past school year.  My graduate has also been working toward a college Bachelor's Degree in Humanities through the College Plus program.  He has taken many CLEP tests and yesterday took his first Dantes (DSST) test.  He has passed all of them so far, and after passing the DSST test yesterday, is officially a college junior.  He also works for Lamplighter Ministries.  He began as an intern their last summer and became an official part-time employee this past February.  He has had opportunity to travel to London, England to observe and be a part of recording radio dramas; he has had opportunity to travel to Orlando, Florida and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, all in connection with his work with Lamplighter Ministries.  Then he returned to New Paltz, New York for the second annual Lamplighter Guild.  God has just been guiding and directing in his life in some amazing and wonderful ways.

So, I still have two boys to continue to educate.  Our middle son is in ninth grade this year and is studying Algebra I from Math-U-See.  He had been using Saxon Math prior to this, but our oldest switched from Saxon to Math-U-See when he hit the Algebra level because he found Saxon's algebra to be too difficult and lacking explanation.  Our middle son also began to struggle a bit with his eighth grade Saxon near the end of the course, so he will be doing algebra and all other high school level math curriculum with Math-U-See.  He is also studying History using Mystery of History.  This is a great curriculum that ties Biblical history with world history, which is fantastic because the Biblical history was taking place at the exact same time that other historical events were happening in other parts of the world; so it's great to see the connections instead of having it separate and never making those connections.  He has always enjoyed writing, but finds it challenging, so he is studying both Writing Strands and Intermediate Language Lessons from My Father's World.  We are also reading some classic literature, and he will be studying Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Physical Science in a co-op class, as I prefer not to teach science.  He will also be taking a Mechanical Drawing and Mapmaking class and a Real World Business class at our co-op.

My youngest is using mostly My Father's World products for all subjects.  We have already finished the science book about Birds, Nests and Eggs by Mel Boring and we are now working on creating a lapbook based on his six favorite birds from the book.  He and I both love lapbooks.  They are a great hands-on activity, and they are creative.  I found FREE printable patterns to use for our lapbooks here, and this makes making lapbooks really easy!  We'll be doing several lapbooks this year.  We will also study Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and "The Nutcracker".  We are studying the early settlers and the founding of the United States in history.  We have already learned about Christopher Columbus and about some Europeans who came to the United States, as well as Captain John Smith and Jamestown.  We are reading more about some Jamestown pioneers.  This son is also using Math-U-See for Math because it includes audio, visual and hands-on learning.  He is continuing to read, building on the level of difficulty.  He has read an "Amelia Bedelia" book, a book titled A Second Chance for Tina and a "Henry and Mudge" book, and he read the book about Christopher Columbus to me.  He will also be taking a science class, a class about syllables and reading and an art class at the co-op.  We will also do occasional art projects here at home, and, of course, lapbooks count toward art as well.  The photo below is my little guy's drawing.  He was supposed to draw a ship like the Europeans traveled to the United States on.  He looked at a photo while drawing this, and I think he's got some real talent.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Interested in Free Resources?

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's (5th Annual) 2012 Annual Freebies Directory is here! 

Do you ever wish that you could get a really good look at a homeschooling product before buying it? Sure, each company’s ad says it’s the best, but you’re still left wondering, “Is it best for my family?”
With our 2012 5th Annual Homeschool Freebie Directory, you can find out for sure. You’ll discover many new, exciting gifts in the Directory, including E-Books, games and activities!

Click here to check out the Freebies Directory Today!  

Monday, July 2, 2012

What About Socialization?

I used to hear this question much more than I have recently.  First of all, I'll tell you that it's never been a problem for us because we are faithful church attenders and our children have a lot of friends at church.  We have also been involved in one homeschool co-op or another almost every year since we began homeschooling, and the boys have been involved in homeschool sports since the beginning of our homeschool journey.  So they have had ample opportunity to meet and make good friends.

But, they aren't just social with their peers.  They are able to socialize with people of all ages because they are growing up in an environment where they have to socialize with their parents/adults and younger and/or older siblings on a daily basis, so they learn how to effectively communicate with people of all ages.

Now, I'd like to share some information from notes that I took at a seminar at a homeschool convention this year.  The speaker was Mr. Rick Boyer, and he pointed out that as Christian homeschool parents, our goal is not the effect of the culture on our children, but the effect of our children on the culture (I can give several examples of this from our lives as well, but will do so in another post).

Mr. Boyer also asked the questions, "Is 'school' anything like the real world?  Is everyone in the real world segregated into age groups?"

Schools relieve you of your ability to form any convictions, as you sit there and do whatever you are told to do.

Kids need to experience the real world.  (School is not the real world).

Age segregation is killing our culture because the kids do not have exposure to people "who have been there, done that."

Divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs and alcohol -- how many of these social issues were caused by kids who spent too much time at home with their parents?

I love the following example Mr. Boyer presented to the statement, we homeschoolers so often hear:  "Kids need to face the real world issues and learn to deal with it."  Mr. Boyer said this is how to respond to this statement; ask the person, "Do you know that it's not a good idea to stand in the middle of the street during rush hour?"  When they say "yes", ask them with a little more emphasis, "Do your know that it's not a good idea to stand in the middle of the street during rush hour?"  When they say "yes", this time respond with, "Did you learn that through experience?"

Proverbs 23:22 says, "Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old."  If children do not grow up parent-dependent; they will grow up peer-dependent.

Mr. Boyer pointed out that U.S. kids in schools have a Negative Attitude toward themselves, and toward their peers and are resistant to parental authority and pessimistic toward the future.  He also pointed out that the U. S. has the highest suicide rate in the world.

Other things Mr. Boyer pointed out about kids in schools:

     Parental values are discarded.
     Their personal values are under attack.
     Peer socialization causes negative attitudes toward children of other peer groups.
     It breaks down family relationships.
     They're indifferent to the adult world.
     They're not looking forward to growing up.
     Their social lives are centered around play and peers.

In the past, twelve-year-old boys were interested/involved in their father's business.  This is no longer the case.

So, Mr. Boyer suggests:  "Don't let your kids social life "evolve", "create" it.  Put an emphasis on family and build your child(ren)'s social life around service.

If you'd like to read more about what Mr. Boyer has to say about this issue, I suggest you purchase his book, The Socialization Trap.  You can find it here

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Opportunities and Blessings of Homeschooling

In the nine years that we've been homeschooling, we have found that homeschooling allows and offers so many opportunities and blessings.  As our children do not have to be glued to a desk or even to bookwork all day long, they have more time to explore other things.  We are normally finished with school by lunchtime and they have the rest of the day to go out and explore the back yard, shoot some basketball, kick the soccer ball, or any of many other activities.  They also have the opportunity to pursue their interests.  They play in organized sports with a homeschool group we are a part of, and I mean, they even play games against other homeschool group teams or Christian school teams.  They take music lessons:  our oldest takes piano lessons and he's taken a couple of years of mandolin lessons (most kids don't even know what a mandolin is).  Our middle son takes drum lessons and our youngest has just begun piano lessons.  We regularly attend church, and they are active in our church.  Our two oldest boys play their instruments for worship services and our oldest has taught a Sunday school lesson or two.  We've participated in serving our community through donating items or donating our time to help at a local center that packs health kits, school kits and some other things to send to needy people in other countries.  They've attended a couple of summer camps.
Our oldest just graduated high school this year, and he has had an amazing year.  Last summer he had the Lamplighter Guild, which you can find more about here.  He came back with a new focus, and he had grown spiritually.  He was so impressed and inspired by the Lamplighter Guild that he wanted to get more involved in Lamplighter, so he contacted Mr. Mark Hamby and became an intern/apprentice with Lamplighter Ministries.  After about four months, he had the opportunity to go to London, England with Lamplighter for the recording of one of their audio dramas.  It was on this trip that he also became an actual part-time employee of Lamplighter Ministries.  He's been reading excellent quality literature, studying his Bible, and he has helped Mr. Hamby with research for his dissertation, and he has done some writing and editing for Lamplighter Ministries.  He has made phone calls for Lamplighter Ministries, and last month, he went to Florida to help at the Lamplighter booth at a homeschool conference, as well as helping to hand out some items for Mr. Hamby's seminars.  Now he is preparing to go to this year's Lamplighter Guild, which takes place next month, and this year, he will not only go as a student but as an employee.
Our oldest son has also almost completed his sophomore of college already.  He is taking the College Plus program online, which is a money-saving way to receive a bachelor's degree in two years.  He is studying Humanities and will be taking online classes through Thomas Edison College.  He is on target to graduate college in October of 2013, and then he plans to work full-time for Lamplighter Ministries.  He hopes to have a long career with Lamplighter Ministries.
Our middle son is interested in architecture and building, so this past school year, he was able to take a class at our homeschool co-op that taught Home Repair and Maintenance.  He also has interest in maybe becoming a pastor, so this coming school year, I will help him with speech to work on his presentation skills.  We will also work on bettering his writing skills.
Our little guy simply loves all kinds of things at this point, so I simply plan to have fun with him this year reading great books, taking fun field trips and doing fun and some messy art projects.
We simply have the freedom and time to truly pursue their interests, which leads to valuable opportunities that allow them to grow healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  We are truly blessed through our choice to homeschool.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reasons to Homeschool

For those of you who have been following and visiting this blog, I am sorry that I have neglected this blog for so long.  This past school year I was busier than the last few as I was working more diligently with our youngest son, and he has now completed first grade.  So, between homeschooling and tending to the housework and playing taxi for the boys to their music lessons and sports, I just didn't have the time to blog.  I also neglected my other blog, which I have now decided to end, in the hopes of simply keeping this blog, as I feel there is a need for this blog.  I hope this blog will be a place where beginning homeschoolers can come to learn and to see how much fun homeschooling can be, where people who don't homeschool but are curious about homeschooling can come to find out what it's all about, and where seasoned homeschoolers can come and find a different approach or a new activity or place to go for a field trip.
So, bear with me if you've been here with me from the beginning, as I might cover something now that I did before, but with different or new information, as I am not going to search my archives to see what I've done before now.  I am simply going to begin fresh and new now.
I want to begin with reasons to homeschool.  There are many reasons to homeschool.  When my husband and I began homeschooling, it was because our oldest son was bored in his Christian school classroom and his teachers constantly complained to me about his behaviors, but did nothing to try to keep him busy.  We had already decided that we didn't want our children to go to public school, so the only other option was to homeschool, so I contacted someone I knew that homeschooled, and she explained it to me, gave me lots of resources, let me borrow some books to read about it, and took me to my first homeschool convention.
We have now been homeschooling for nine years, and over those nine years, our commitment to homeschool has simply gotten stronger.  First of all, we now homeschool because we feel led by God to do so, and we believe that it was God's intent from the beginning and is Biblical.  One Bible verse that we feel speaks on the issue is the verse you will find at the top of my blog, directly under my blog title.  How can you possibly teach your children about God and his word when you lie down, get up or walk along the road, if they aren't with you?
We believe it is the parents' responsibility to teach their children.  We do not believe it is in our children's best interests to be taught by a stranger, and we do not believe it is best for children to be in an environment with only other children their own ages all day five days a week.  We see no benefit to that.
Another reason we homeschool is because we believe that the public schools do not have the proper environment that is conducive to learning for most children.  We also disagree with a lot of the things they teach in the public schools now and don't think they teach important things that should be taught.  We also do not believe it is right for them to delete things from their teaching of history as many public schools and public school curricula have done.
In our local area school districts, there have been issues of bullying, drugs, sexual promiscuity on school premises or on school buses, and we certainly don't want our children exposed to or involved in such activities.

For more information on the teaching and it's effects of the public school, I highly encourage you to watch the documentary DVD:  "IndoctriNation".
Both my husband and I grew up in the public school system, and we know many children who attend public schools, and when I saw this movie, I realized that some of what the movie points out was already happening when I was in school over nearly thirty years ago, and I am well aware of many of these things happening currently.    

I simply believe that we are teaching our children in the way that is best and most beneficial for them, and most importantly, we believe our homeschooling choice is pleasing to God.

Tomorrow's post will be about the flexibility, opportunities and blessings of homeschooling.                                               

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Brain Gym

I just have to share about Brain Gym. I have never heard of it before, and now that I am participating in a class with my youngest son, I have to wonder why. I think EVERYONE should know about this! The top photo above is the book that simply explains how to do the exercises and is simple enough for children to understand. The bottom photo directly above this paragraph is the Teacher's Edition, which is the one our class teacher recommends because it not only shows and explains how to do the exercises, but it also gives some additional ways of doing the exercises to switch it up a bit, as well as giving information on what part of the brain the particular exercise stimulates and what it is useful for.

Let me explain a little more. Our co-op has offered this class this semester and I decided to enroll my youngest son, and the teacher stressed the importance of a parent participating in the class with the child because it's important that the parent knows about the exercises and what they are useful for, as well as to be able to help students who have a bit of difficulty with an exercise until their brain gets used to it. The lady teaching the class has been doing this for over 30 years and has seen it work in many ways for many people. She has actually been able to help a retarded child how to read and write simply by using Brain Gym.

Brain Gym is exercises that you do with your body, sometimes standing up, sometimes sitting down, and sometimes lying on the floor, as well as exercises with a dry erase crayon and a laminated manila folder with activities on it, and I don't know what we have yet to learn, but this stuff is amazing. It helps my little guy to listen better and to focus. (That's what it's done so far). However, as we continue to learn, the teacher assures us that it will help our child with math skills, spelling and writing skills, reading skills and more.

It does require a time commitment, and you need to make time to fit it into your day everyday in order to get the maximum benefit and success. Most of the exercises really don't take that long (10 - 15 minutes). However, the writing therapy exercises she taught us today will take quite a bit more time, but are very important for helping your child learn to read and write. Our co-op plans to keep this lady on board and have her continue teaching classes, so I highly recommend that anyone in my area that knows me contact me and get their child(ren) involved in one of these classes. Otherwise, I recommend that you purchase the book, study it and put it into practice with your child(ren).

Brain Gym can be used for any age, so even adults can use it, and they have found that it helps older folks in nursing homes who are having memory issues. A few years ago, my middle son needed vision therapy and it helped him tremendously. Brain Gym uses many of the vision therapy exercises and ideas, but goes a step further and can help a child to no longer need glasses, it can help with behaviors unless the behaviors stem from an attitude issue which is a heart and sin issue that simply needs to be dealt with. So I advise EVERYONE to check this out!