Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Telephone...The Watch Pig

Hello, my friends.

Hope you are having a fantabulous day! We have a busy couple of months coming up here at the little parsonage and I'm doing my best to organize my ducks and count my chickens.

You do realize I don't really have ducks OR chickens.

Just a cat who is a Princess.

I thought I would take some time and start reposting some of my blog content that didn't receive a  lot of love...either I wrote it many moons ago (when just my momma and a few friends read my blog) or it got lost in betweenst chili recipes or curriculum reviews.

The story I am about to share with you happens to be one of my favorite, but TRUE, stories. I wrote it when Josiah was just a little guy, but I'm not changing a word.

Hope you enjoy.

Sometime back, my husband was gone overnight to a Men's Retreat. My little boy, Josiah and I snuggled into my bed with our two boy cats and drifted off to sleep. I was suddenly wakened to one of the cats sitting squarely on my face. "Crazy cat," I thought, and proceeded to throw him off the bed. Of course, sleep was elusive for a good long time after that. I chuckled to myself when I thought of being alone with Josiah and our "watch" cat. Josiah would be more helpful if anyone ever tried to break in. My cat would be as helpful in a crisis as a stuffed pillow.

When I was a little girl in the hills of Arkansas we had a pig named Telephone. The story goes that my dad went into town one day to pay the telephone bill. While there he was drawn to the sale barn and used the telephone bill money to buy a pig. This wasn't the first time or the last time that Dad brought home livestock in the back of his black Chevy pickup.

There was the duck that thought he was a chicken. We brought home a lady duck to remind him that he was, indeed a duck and he abandoned her. Quite sad, actually. For a few years we had a goat named Dew Drop. There was very good reason to name her that. We had Job the mutt who was so pitiful looking that we couldn’t name him anything but Job. We had a few cows, a whole lot of free range chickens and we always had cats.

Telephone the pig was nothing like the character of Wilbur in the children's book, Charlotte's Web. In fact, in my humble hillbilly opinion, most pigs are nasty and aggressive. They are fairly clean, but usually have the personality of an agitated telemarketer. Telephone was no exception.

 When Telephone first came to live with us he fit neatly into the wooden pen my dad constructed for him. As he grew, Telephone was able to climb out of the wooden pen, regardless of how many additions that were added to the top. He terrorized the chickens. He rooted up the vegetables in the field and would occasionally butt small people to the ground. Telephone the pig was massive and ornery.

One day, Telephone the pig took on quite a different roll than the pesky pig we all knew him to be. Telephone the pig was to become Telephone the Watch Pig. We lived way, way out in the country. Picture the deep dark woods. Imagine a long dirt road that cuts through the deep dark woods. Our house sat right in the middle of these deep, dark woods at the end of that long dirt road. Sound spooky?

Actually, it was a great place to be as a kid. Lots of running room, plenty of space for pets and pigs. Our nearest neighbor was about 1/4 of a mile away. My brother had a lot of outside space to practice his trumpet. Visitors that headed down our road were usually friends, the occasional sales person or the Jehovah Witness ladies.

The Jehovah Witness ladies were really nice people. They would come out just because they enjoyed visiting with my mom. Mom would serve them cinnamon tea and they would to some obligatory banter back and forth about their obvious doctrinal differences then settle down to talk about their kids and the latest cross stitching techniques. On this particular day, mom was at home piddling with chores, getting caught up from work. She, by chance, passed the open door and saw the strangest sight.

Parked in our dirt driveway were the Jehovah Witness ladies. They were hunkered together; both scrunched into the passenger seat with terrified looks plastered on their sweet faces. Telephone, the psycho watch pig, was standing on his hind legs with his front legs resting on the open driver’s side window of the car. He was doing his usual snorting and stomping (Telephone could throw quite a fit).

 Mom stood for a moment stunned at the sight then rushed out the door and proceeded to shoo Telephone away from the car. Immediately, one the Jehovah Witness ladies flew into the driver’s seat, rolled up the open window and backed the car down the and dust flying from beneath the car's tires…. The ladies frantically yelling and gesturing at my mom over the dashboard. "We've got to go...We'll call...See you soon." They turned the car around and went racing down the long, dirt road with Telephone the Psycho Watch Pig barreling after the car like some big, loopy dog. Job, the mutt dog, just watched. I'm sure he thought, "I ain't touching this one!"

The family had a different sort of appreciation for Telephone after that. He continued to chase cars and guard us against visitors. It got to the place where my parents or one of kids had to escort guests to and from the house. The extensions that my dad built onto Telephone's pen were never tall enough.

 Some how that crazy pig always escaped.

Sadly for Telephone, a necessary part of country life came too soon. Telephone was loaded back into the black Chevy pickup and taken to help provide for the family in another way. Later, we did get two more pigs to take his place. They weren't quite the characters that Telephone had been. Visitors found their way to our of hassle. Unless you counted tripping over a few chickens on the way up. Cars would cruise with ease up the driveway. We missed that pig.

I've often wondered if maybe the Secret Service has it all wrong. Why spend thousands, and millions of dollars training ordinary guys? Buy a few pigs. Set them outside the White House. I guarantee you, a few hillbilly pigs like Telephone the Psycho Watch Pig would deter any raving lunatic that came stumbling across the White House Lawn. There are a lot of crazies in the world.

We as Christians are given a greater protection than the most diligent Secret Service agent. We are given protection for our minds, our hearts and often physical protection from danger. Several years ago I was involved in an event that would change my life forever. I had a massive car wreck that left me with lifetime disabilities. Did God provide me with protection? Absolutely. For one, I survived.

More importantly, He gave me protection of the mind and heart. He gave me strength that would take me through the difficult days and years ahead. He helped me see a rainbow at the end of a very dark cloud. He made me see a purpose in what I had suffered. My broken body could heal. Not perfectly, but adequately. My car could be replaced. It was my heart that needed healing and my mind that needed comforting.

God did that and more for me. He protected me from years of bitterness and heartache. He protected me from disappointment and disillusionment. The most well-trained military personnel, the heaviest gates, the burliest bodyguard could not provide such protection. Even Telephone the Watch Pig couldn’t do as much.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Imagine...The Great Flood (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I'm always happy to add a good book to our library. I’m pleased to say that we’ve been reviewing an especially neat book that fits right nicely with our collection. It’s called Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing.


IMAGINE... The Great Flood

You might think you know exactly what story line this book follows…and you’d be right! However, there is a twist.


In Imagine, Corey (a ten-year-old) takes a trip back in time and experiences the days just before the great Flood. Yup…THAT flood.

The book begins with Corey learning of a big move. His family will be moving from Texas to Florida. As we experienced a BIG move almost a year ago even I could relate to Corey’s bewilderment about the upcoming changes in his life.

However, Corey's worry about his move was NOTHING compared to waking up after a fall in the woods to meet a few surprises that normally don't wander the woods in Texas. Could it be that Corey wasn't in Texas anymore?

Meeting Noah and his family brought further surprises. There were some wicked people after the lot of them. Corey certainly had the adventure of his life. There are lions, and giants, and sorcerers (oh my!)

I won’t give away all the details of the story (after all, you mommas might want to read the book), but Corey learns through the course of the book that maybe his challenges aren’t as big as the ones faced by Noah and his family.

Can you even imagine it? (ha! You see what I did there)..

What Corey does learn is that no matter what challenges come our way…God is bigger than whatever we face! We have to rely on Him!

And that is INVALUABLE advice for all of us.

In the final pages of the book, we find Corey in Florida. Oddly enough, he meets a boy named NOAH.

The book itself is around 110 pages and intended for kiddos around 8-12. Of course, Josiah is 15, but he is dyslexic and I liked the idea of having a book available for him that would be entertaining and easier to read.

I was surprised how quickly he read it! It is one of those you have to read until you find out what happens next!

The book is action packed and most importantly for this momma it presented Biblical history in a fun way. We did talk about what it means to fictionalize a story and compared the book with the Biblical account in the Bible.

 I have a few beloved books that are fictionalized Biblical accounts so Imagine been a fun one to introduce to Josiah.

I personally enjoyed the vivid imagery that Mr. Koeich used throughout the book. It kept the book moving and helped the reader really "see" what was happening in the story.

And you don't have to be a homeschooler (or even a young reader) to enjoy this one. This would be a great gift for reluctant readers (especially those boys who crave action) and a fun one to add to the church library.


The next book by Matt Koeich is called Imagine…The Ten Plagues and it comes out in 2018. I’m sure we will need to add that one to our collection, as well!


Before I leave you, I do need to tell you to check out Barbour Publishing! We’ve enjoyed The Dairy of a Real Payne Series from Barbour. I am happy to recommend them (and their books) any day of the week!

In the meantime, give Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich a look! I know it's just the start of a great Christian series for kids.

You can connect with Barbour Publishing via the following Social Media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

  • Facebook:   
  • Twitter:    Tag:   @barbourbuzz     
  • YouTube:   

  • Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
    Crew Disclaimer

    Wednesday, September 13, 2017

    Unauthorized (Chara Games) A Homeschool Review Crew

    We love game night at our house! One of the companies we’ve been blessed to be able to review with is Chara Games. Just recently, Unauthorized made an appearance at our house.


    Chara games’ mission is to create games that help develop relationships with God and with people. Started by Patrick Lysaght and his wife, Katherine, Chara Games is intended to help people grow in their Christian faith and help bring JOY to the families playing their games.

    Unauthorized is role--playing game interjected with a mixture of strategy and chance.. This game leads us into the world of the underground church. It is intended for ages 12 and up and needs to be played with 6-12 players.

    Each player is assigned a role. Each role has a specific abilities. Every game has to have a pastor and a police officer.

    After the experience cards are dealt the police get 7 red cards and the pastor gets 7 green cards. All other players get a mix of 7 cards a piece. Those experience cards tell you whether the player is loyal to the state or to the church.

    This game can get pretty intense. You can become imprisoned or executed!  No one knows where loyalties lie until the end of the game.

    The outcome is determined basically by influence.  The state wins if there is no Christian majority or if all of the Christians are imprisoned. The church wins if there is at least one person not imprisoned or they have the majority of players.

    The whole game should take around 30 minutes.

    True Story. There aren’t enough people in my house (even with the cat) to even begin to play this game. However, we have had plenty of opportunity to pilfer through the cards and work through a few scenarios. Dd you know that you can “play” more than one person or player in a game? Anybody with an Only Child knows this!

    Nevertheless, we will be excited to finally play a whole bunch of people (cat not included).  I do recommend to read the instructions thoroughly AND to watch the instructional  video. The Lysaght family are special people and we can see all the love and conviction that has gone into this game.

    I also think this game gave us an awesome opportunity to have conversations about those who live in countries that are unfriendly towards Christians and the Gospel. What a message!

    I am certain you will enjoy Chara Games (and Unauthorized) just as much as we have!

    Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}

    Crew Disclaimer

    Apple Printables!

    My friends.

    It's been a while since we've had a chat..

    I am surrounded by wonky computers and non--working technology.

    I'm absolutely worn out.

    I promise eventually I'll get it all worked out (as I type this I'm hacking away on my Mother-in-law's computer).

    In the meantime, I want to draw your attention to all of the fun apple printables I have on the blog.

    It's September! It's time for apples and more apples!!

    It's just a bit early for Johnny Appleseed Day, but you kind of all KINDS of apple stuff at this post. 

    Go. Print. Laminate. Enjoy.

    Carole P. Roman Books (Again! - A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

    In my opinion, one can never have too many books. To be more specific...a homeschooling family can never have too many books. Especially if those books are beautifully illustrated, educationally interesting and just plain fun!  A few years ago, I reviewed my first set of Carole P. Roman books. I've gotten to review several since and they are always a welcome addition to our library.

    This time around I had the opportunity to review 4 books! Two of them I specifically asked for and the other two came as a surprise from Miss Carole herself. We LOVE her and her lovely books.

    The first book I'm going to talk about was one of our surprise goodies. How fun is this!

    If You Were Me and Lived on ... Mars

    Books by Carole P Roman

    This books is intended for ages . It is not a science fiction book (though that would be really great!), but instead talks about what life might be like for you as an explorer or short-time settler on the red planet. For example, did you know that it would take about 6 months to get there? You would also have to live in a Mars Living Module because of a variety of harsh conditions that are unfriendly to human life.

    You would also enjoy scaling Olympus Mons...which is even higher than Mount Everest!

    Here is another fun one.

    Books by Carole P Roman

    Being a Captain is Hard Work: A Captain No Beard Story

    The next "surprise" book I got was one of the Captain No Beard Story series.  This time around Captain No Beard and Crew are heading to the Dew Rite Volcano. Unfortunately, Captain No Beard hasn't practiced his listening skills and insists he knows best after his crew members predict a storm and tell him he's heading in the wrong direction!  I love the moral of the story AND it wouldn't be a Carole P. Roman book without a science lesson. l love the glossary of Clouds located in the back of the book. My future weatherman loves to identify clouds.

    This book is intended for ages 3-8.

    This next book was one I specifically requested.

    Books by Carole P Roman

    If You Were Me And Lied In.... The American West

    This book is part of Carole's international series. In this book we learn what it might have been like traveling the Oregon trail during the late 1800's. For example, we would probably have to gather buffalo chips (buffalo poo!). We would also meet Native Americans on the way. I appreciate the way Miss Carole highlighted the more peaceful interactions between the Indians and settlers.

    We also learn how butter was churned and that cowboys made about $25 a month. That's it! Maybe Josiah can be a cowboy!

    There is a nice glossary in the book and a guide of famous people of the American West. This book is intended for ages 8-15.

    I also requested this next book.

    Books by Carole P Roman

    If You Were Me and Lived in ... Viking Europe

    This one was so interesting! It takes you back in time a bit and lets us peak into the world of the Vikings. I wasn't aware those who traveled for war and trade were called Vikings while those who farmed were called Scandinavians. When they moved and settled in other areas of the world they ere called Norsemen.

    If you were a Viking you would be born into one of 3 classes. The Jarls, the Krals or the Thralls. You also might be fostered out to another family to form an alliance.

    I have to say that beyond a few popular Norse Mytholoogy stories I wasn't too familiar with the Viking way of life. This book was fascinating to read...even just for me!

    You are going to love any or all of my book choices here. You need to check them out! I think they are perfect for history lessons or cultural studies.

    You can connect with Carole P. Roman books via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

    Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}
    Crew Disclaimer

    Friday, September 8, 2017

    Halloween Tracts (A Homeschool Crew Review)

    As I type this we are experiencing decidedly “fallish” weather here in Indiana. I’ve been so inspired by the crisp, cool mornings that I’ve brought up my fall buckets from the basement. It’s pumpkin time, my friends! Just in time, I have been playing around with the most darling Halloween tracts from a company called Let the Little Children Come. The tracts are the Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tracts. I love reviews like this!
    Let the Little Children Come Halloween Tract

    Let the Little Children Come is a company that provides evangelism tools. These tools are specifically designed for sharing the Good News with kids. I have been looking over a variety of unique and fun tracts (can’t wait to share more with you later) and I have to tell you that they are super neat. My husband and I were in full-time children’s ministry for years (before pastoring) and I am really impressed with the creativity and message put into everything I’ve received.

    Let the Little Children Come

    The Halloween tracts I received are equally wonderful. We received a package of twenty candy boxes. They are made from a light coated cardboard and really easy to assemble. I simply punched out the shape and followed the directions to create the pumpkin. There is room inside for several pieces of candy and maybe a tiny candy bar.

    Here you can see a very unprofessional pic taken by me (experiencing technical difficulties). They are extremely well made. I'm in love.

    When opened each portion of the pumpkin shares a part the Gospel message. The portions are numbered so they are easy to follow along.
    Let the Little Children Come Halloween Tract

    I can think of so many ways to use these Halloween tracts. Of course, the obvious is to hand them out to all the tricker treaters that come to your door. You could also use them at a Harvest party or Trunk or Treat event.

    I’ve already spoken to our Community Kitchen coordinator here at the church and we are going to use ours to hand out to any kiddos that come to our October Monday Night Meals. These are free meals that we provide weekly to the community.

    Another idea we had was to send them home with the kids in our Children’s Church so that they could give them to friends. What a wonderful way to teach Evangelism to our young ones!

    This is really a great product. I am thrilled I’ve had a chance to get acquainted with this company. I am sure you can think of other ways that these cute Halloween tracts can be used.

    Go check them out!

    You can connect with Let the Little Children Come via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.   

    Is There Anything Better Than Candy?  {Let The Little Children Come Reviews}
    Crew Disclaimer

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017

    Everyday Family Chore System (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

    I have something terrible to admit.

     I am not a neat freak.

    I know! Shocking! When I was a little girl my room was usually cluttered with books and shoes. To be honest with you, not much has changed. Anyhoo...My momma, realizing I hadn’t been adequately sprinkled with enough of the tidy gene, made sure she gave me the tools to keep the messy at bay (mostly). Managing my own home and teaching my son to be a productive “tidy man” has had its challenges for me. This summer I had the chance to review The Everyday Family Chore System from Everyday Homemaking.

    The Everyday FAMILY Chore System

    I received a spiral bound hardcopy of The Everyday Family Chore System. Everyday Homemaking was created by Viki Bently. She is the homeschool momma of 8 (!) and has been a foster mother to dozens and dozens of children.

    She probably knows a few things about keeping things tidy.

    There are three parts to the Everyday Family Chore System.

     Part One ~ Laying a Foundation
     Part Two ~ Implementing the Plan
     Part Three ~ The Actual Chore System

    Part One helps you understand the importance of laying a foundation. The best way to laying that foundation is to be examples for our children to follow. This has more to do how we serve others and serve God than even learning how to do “chores.” We are also encouraged that we need to TEACH our children to clean properly. Nobody knows how to fold a towel properly from birth…and least not that I’ve seen. I need to model my expectations for my son.

    We are also encouraged to have realistic expectations.

    Part Two is the practical part. There is a fabulous life skills checklist that made me rethink my plans for Josiah’s life skills education.  I need to up my game. She gives you a list of age appropriate chores and several ways to implement the system for your family. This isn’t a one-size fits all program. It’s perfectly adaptable for all sizes and needs of family. I love the idea of setting a morning routine with clear expectations.

    Part Three contains all the chore cards. This include a good section of chore cards, as well as blank cards. I love the “How-To-Do-It Cards.”

    So here is my deal. I want to live in a home that is visually appealing. I want to be able to go to bed at night between clean sheets. I want to have clean laundry in the drawers. I want my fridge to be clean and tidy and void of any unplanned science projects. I want to be able invite people in the front door without making excuses involving spontaneous indoor natural disasters or alien invasion. I want my son to be able not only contribute his time and energy towards those goals, but I want him to leave my home knowing how to feed himself without the aid of fast food, take care of basic home repairs and know how to scrub a toilet or a floor.

    We have done fairly well in some departments. He can do laundry, load the dishwasher and flip a pancake. He knows how to sweep the floor and run a vacuum cleaner. What I haven’t been so good with is structuring my expectations for him AND broadening his household duties. The “How to Do It” Cards have been helpful, even for me.

    For example, the regular chore cards contain things like:

    Sort laundry
    Clean inside glass
    Clear the table
    Clean out the toaster
    And set the table.

    The “How-to-Do-It” Cards go even further. The “How to” Clear the Table card says:

    Take serving dishes, pans, silverware, butter, dishes, dirty napkins, etc. from table and serving places into kitchen.
    Put away any food/leftovers.
    With damp cloth, wipe off table and chairs.
    Clean up around table (sweep floor if needed)
    Push in chairs
    Neatly arrange any table top items.

    Are you kidding? I NEED this! Instead of expecting Josiah to read my mind, here Vicky has given me mini-lessons on how to do about any household chore.

    I found the “How To” Cards so helpful that I am planning on “teaching” Josiah a new skill every week. Almost like Home EC. 

    There were several examples on how to implement the chore system. I have been making a list for Josiah daily and I think I am going to keep that particular method. I have, however, been placing the “How-To” cards on the fridge for reference. We also talk about my expectations and I’ve modeled some of those tasks that he isn’t as familiar with.

    I have a feeling our cooking experiences are going to need some time. Though he can cook up some fish sticks and tater tots like a champ.

    I wasn’t sure how much this book would help me…the mother of one son. I didn’t know what to expect. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. There have been nuggets of wisdom and practical advice I’ve been able to implement.

    I think it’s a handy and encouraging resource for any family!

    Right now you can save 10% off The Everyday Family Chore System and/or Everyday Cooking (print or e-book) through Labor Day! Use the code TOS10books after you’ve added your book (or books!) to your card. This offer expires September 5, 2017. 

    You can connect with Everyday Homemaking via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed Everyday Cooking. 

    Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}
    Crew Disclaimer

    Friday, August 18, 2017

    Dear Homeschool Momma (5 Days of Back to Homeschool)

    This post contains affiliate links...using affiliate links from There Will Be a $5 Charge for Whining helps support this blog, our homeschool and my book addiction. Thank You! 

    Are you here for the Blog Hop! Welcome...This week, in honor of our 10th year homeschooling,  I'm sharing my Top Ten homeschool resources, school supplies and more! You can click here to get schedule for the week. 

    Dear Homeschool Momma,

    I’m probably the last person you need to take advice from. There is a half-eaten jar of peanut butter on my coffee table. It is possible that was supper. My son is terribly behind in math (depending on the day) and my laundry fairy quit on me at least 10 years ago. Let’s just say I haven’t seen the bottom of the laundry hamper in a very long time.

    I have had those seasons when I have felt burnt to a frazzle. I have felt inadequate and unprepared. And at a loss of what to do next.

    The only thing on my side, really, is that 10 years after we made that decision to bring our son home from public school we are still standing. Or lounging…depending on the day or subject matter.

    I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have some lessons learned along the way. I think I have been as much a student as my son. So for better or for worse, I want to share some of that wisdom. It’s probably nothing you haven’t read about in my blog before. I tend to be a broken record.

    First of all, get some sleep. Do whatever it takes. Go to bed earlier. Get up later. Nap with the kids.  Life will look more sparkly. 

    Be sure you are eating good, colorful foods. And, no, I don’t mean Cheetos. Your body needs all of those good nutrients. You are not only providing a nurturing home for your munchkins, you are educating them as well. Sugar and coffee will only get you so far.

    Be kind to everyone. You won’t have any regrets.

    Take every opportunity to enjoy the small things. Those dandelions will only occupy that juice glass on your table for so many years. Don’t be afraid to make messes and play with your kids. Embrace the world of discovery and newness through the eyes of your kids.

    Give yourself a break. I mean really. Nobody said you had to do it all today. Fix that cup of hot tea and go put your feet up. If you are worried about the crunched up Cheerios all over your dining room floor, hand somebody a broom. They are never too young to learn.

    Don’t be neglect your own education. Take joy in learning right along with your kids.  When you need advice, talk to mommas who have been where you are. The Bible says there is wisdom in the multitude of counselors. Listen to podcasts.  Attend lectures. Read good books and articles.

    Cultivate the love of beautiful things in your home. Notice I didn’t say “expensive” things…just beautiful things. Beautiful art, lovely music, good food, laughter and love.

    Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, commit your day to the Father. Give Him place in your plans. Make Him the priority in everything you do.

    That’s the  very best advice I can give….

    Thank you for popping over this week. My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have all written notes of encouragement. I know you'll be blessed. 

    Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    My Top Ten "Outside the Home" Homeschool Activities (5 Days of Back to Homeschool)

    This post contains affiliate links...using affiliate links from There Will Be a $5 Charge for Whining helps support this blog, our homeschool and my book addiction. Thank You! 

    Are you here for the Blog Hop! Welcome...This week, in honor of our 10th year homeschooling,  I'm sharing my Top Ten homeschool resources, school supplies and more! You can click here to get schedule for the week. 

    It’s me again! It’s Day 4 of our 5 Days of Back to Homeschool Blog Hop. This week I am celebrating my 10th year of homeschooling by sharing with you My Top Ten lists about a variety of topics.

    Today we are talking about Homeschooling outside the home. Admittedly, we have never been the Co-op brand of homeschoolers. It’s not that I am opposed to Co-ops. They just have never been a fit…mainly Momma needs more flexibility.

    Today instead of sharing with you general “ideas” about what you can do to broaden the walls of your homeschool, I am going to share with you what we have ACTUALLY done.

    I realize that not all of it will be practical for all of you, but hopefully you will find a nugget of inspiration.  I’m going to share some pictures (I’m reaching waay back here) of some of our favorite adventures. 

    1.       Josiah attended an interaction program just for Homeschoolers at our local YMCA for years. The class would meet 1 day a week for 2 hours.  They got to climb a rock wall, go swimming and participate in team sports. This is where the boy first learned about the tortures of dodgeball. Dodgeball was the stuff of my elementary nightmares.

    2.       We also had Josiah in swim lessons from the time he was 8. Eventually he joined the swim team and that was our life until he was 14 and we moved out of state. Admittedly it took more of our time. He had practices 3 days a week.  I loved that it taught him that he could be faithful and consistent. AND being that we had to be at the Y so much, I had no excuses not to exercise myself. Mostly. 

    3.       If all that wasn’t enough Physical Education for one busy guy, we joined a PE class for homeschoolers at a local University. The teachers were college students themselves (generally Phys Ed majors) who were supervised by their professor. During the fall semester the students learned about team sports; basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball and more. During the spring semester the students focused on Individual sports; golf, bowling, archery and even fishing. Plus, they learned about personal fitness. The class was held twice a week and lasted just under an hour. My favorite part of the class were the interactions I got to have with other mommas.  We had the best time! This was also one of those activities we did year after year. 

    4.       For many years, we volunteered at a nursing home. Not only did we come in several times a year with our church to play music and conduct a service, but Josiah and I spent many other happy days there. Josiah painted fingernails, helped call bingo, served ice cream, participated in the Tai Chi class and generally was spoiled by all the residents. Our visits were far more than just a volunteering situation ...Josiah developed talk about socialization! 

    5.       The library, for us, is just an extension of our homeschool. We not only make a weekly visit, but there have even been times that we’ve loaded up a particular subject and had “school” at the library. Most library have small study rooms that can be reserved. We have attended extension programs, concerts and book clubs. It has also been a great place to help Josiah practice his own researching skills.

    6.       Of course, there has to be times for field trips. We have visited television stations, art museums, history and science museums and so much more. The beauty of homeschooling is you can visit places during off-seasons and low seasons. No public school type people there to cramp your style. I've often said that homeschoolers can turn even a trip to the grocery store into a field trip. 

    7.       One of Josiah’s favorite outings has always been our nature walks. While it’s fun just getting out of the house, we are able to talk about geography (tracking trails, etc.), and science (botany, animal science). We can take beautiful pictures and sketch some interesting things along the way.  Plus, we all need that fresh air and Vitamin D. The thing with Nature Walks is that the more consistent you are the better. I find that scheduling one a week at the same time works well for us. 

    8. There is nothing like outsourcing some of that educational stuff. One of my favorite people to outsource some of that educational stuff has been my mom. She is a professional artist and a terrific teacher. She can coax creativity out of a gnat. I could just take him over and beautiful things would come out of my son's hands.  I always love finding people to help me who know more than I do! Which, frankly, is not that hard. 😂

    9. Community events have always been a great way to take our homeschool on the road. We've gone to concerts in the parks, lectures, and cultural festivals. We've been to the ballet, enjoyed an Irish band, watched Shakespeare in the park and even attended a seminar featuring Temple Grandin. 

    10. One of the favorite things ever is the several years we had "Reading Buddies." Basically, a homeschool friend and I decided that it would be fun to bring our boys together to form a reading club. Eventually our club grew to include my friend's younger children.  Sometimes you've got to make your own magic.  We used to joke that she was the "cafeteria lady" and I was the "reading teacher." 

    The moral of the story is that plenty of schooling can be found outside your four walls! 

    That's all I have for today. I hope that you've enjoyed coming to my little corner of the blog-universe. Tomorrow I am going to try and bless you with some encouragement. You are not alone!

    For now, you can check out and see what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew do. 

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    Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    My Top Ten Homeschool Planning Tips (5 Days of Back to Homeschool)

    This post contains affiliate links...using affiliate links from There Will Be a $5 Charge for Whining helps support this blog, our homeschool and my book addiction. Thank You! 

    Are you here for the Blog Hop! Welcome...This week, in honor of our 10th year homeschooling,  I'm sharing my Top Ten homeschool resources, school supplies and more! You can click here to get schedule for the week. 

    It’s Day 3 of the 5 Days of Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! This time around I’m celebrating my 10th year of homeschooling by giving you my TOP TEN lists for a variety of topics.
    Today we are talking about PLANNING and SCHEDULING. How do I keep the many wheels in my house a-turning.

    Now here are a few things you need to know about me.
    ·         I am a planner
    ·         I can be spontaneous
    ·         Planners make me crazy (and not in a good way)
    ·         These bulleted points need some sparkle

    Yup. I am a walking contradiction. I have been known to completely change course directions after a good cup of coffee in the morning.

    “So we’re studying butterflies right now, but momma found this really cool unit on bullfrogs. Let’s do that for a while.” 

    But let me tell ya! I sure had a good time planning that butterfly unit!  I had that butterfly unit planned down to the tiniest detail.  But, oh…those bullfrogs were calling!

    So you can see that I have had to insert some discipline into my life concerning our homeschool habits. That being said I also appreciate the spontaneity of a homeschool classroom. We are able to follow rabbit trails if the rabbit looks interesting enough.

    Are you ready to see how I’ve sorted all this mess out? How I make it through the day? Use what you can and then send the link to this post to your fruity homeschooling friend. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.

    1.       I have discovered the Bullet Journal. I get overwhelmed with most “planners” in general. They really never meet my needs.  Bullet Journaling gives me control over every aspect of planning. I don’t have to fit everything in a neat little box. I can choose to plan daily, weekly, monthly….I am in complete control on what goes down on that page. If you haven’t been introduced to Bullet Journaling yet…get acquainted.  Edie Wadsworth from Life in Grace (LOVE HER!) has an excellent video on bullet journaling. I have one for both my homeschool and my life.

    2.       From the time Josiah has been able to read a little bit I have created for him a daily assignment list. It is simply a spiral notebook. Each day I open up a new page. I write the date on the top and list all of his school work PLUS household chores. I not only put independent work on the list, but subjects we are going to work on together. He is the kind of kid who thrives on knowing what comes next. He is more efficient and less likely to whine and complain. Now he has always been a really busy kid (ADHD!), but the assignment list helps him focus on what is expected of him.

    3.       I HAVE to follow the rhythms of our church life (we are pastors), but I have also had to become very protective of our school time. This is hard for non-homeschooling folks to understand. I CAN’T drop everything and meet you for lunch. I CAN’T drop everything and have a chatty conversation on the phone. You CAN’T make plans with my son at any time. Just because he doesn’t get on the bus every morning to go a building doesn’t mean he isn’t being educated. I have to guard that school time. Now I’ve made some exceptions. He vacuums the church and then has breakfast with a sweet man from church every Monday morning. I consider that a precious and life building time for him. We simply do our work after lunch. Now that Josiah is older and in High School this means he has to make up the time or work on another day.

    4.       I homeschool with a ROUTINE rather than a SCHEDULE.  I can’t watch the clock. The Schedule tells me that we can spend only 10 minutes making a geopolitical map of Greece. I might need 15! But a Routine allows us to adjust to interests, interruptions and downright catastrophes. How does this work? I simply make my list of “to-dos” … we know what subject is next or what needs to be done, but we don’t follow a set in stone time schedule.

    5.       Menu Plans help me feed my family. I generally plan on a Sunday night and grocery shop on a Monday morning. I don’t have to be elaborate. Some weeks I plan the same types of meals from the week before. Sometimes all I write down is…”Help Yourself.” Which means the two men in my house have to scrounge around for their own vittles. But! At least I have a plan.

    6.       15 minutes. If I am struggling to get something done…be it housework or a project…I set my timer for 15 minutes. I can get a lot done in 15 minutes.  I also use the timer for Josiah. Works like magic!

    7.       I HAVE to prioritize my priorities. What is important to me? Am I spending too much time on Facebook or YouTube? Is my husband feeling neglected? Am I making my daily time with God a priority in my life or is He somewhere after all the other stuff I seem to add to my life.

    8.       Is there a part of your day or a subject that you are approaching with fear and trembling? Have you heard this one? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Sometimes you just have to pull up your big girl britches and DO THE THING! If there is a subject, task or project you are dreading….just grit your teeth and jump right in. It probably won’t be perfect. In fact, it probably will be messy and HARD. Just keep plugging away. Try different things. Insert humor or fun into whatever it is you are dreading. It probably won’t bite. Though I have my suspicions about math.

    9.       Just because I waffle between the blessed spontaneity of my fruity personality and my love for all things planning doesn’t mean I don’t try and have a little structure. We mostly homeschool year round, but our summers are much, much lighter. I have a definite start date and then a definite end date….though I break up my homeschool plans into semesters. That way I can go back and put in days I know we are going to be out of town, fun days and holidays.  

    10.   I try and make time for FUN. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routines and forget that we are living a life here. Not everything has to be fun.  But there should be plenty of nature walking days, cookie making days, movie watching and popcorn watching days, science experiment days and music making days. I try and make a seasonal bucket list. Last year we didn’t carve a pumpkin and do a pumpkin study.  We had just moved and I figured Josiah was getting too old to care. I was wrong! He made mention of it several times.  I have had to learn firsthand that we have to take time to enjoy those random, little moments in life.

    So now you know all of my secrets. Tomorrow I will share with you some of my favorite ideas for Homeschooling OUTSIDE the home. 

    All this week I am joining up with my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew for the 5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop. Check them out! They are so much more organized than I am.

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