What my friends should know… {10*in*10}

10-in-10 iHomeschool Network

So it’s week 10 already?  Wow, that went fast!!  Here are my other 10*in*10 posts in this fun blog hop:

Top Ten Homeschooling Questions
Top Ten Reasons We Defy a Homeschool Label
Top Ten Reasons We Love to Homeschool (Poetry edition)
Top Ten Series for Middle School Boys
Top Ten Homeschooling Websites
Top Ten Pieces of Homeschooling Advice

 If you’re here, you’re a friend.

That’s how I think of you.  You read my thoughtful posts as I’m wrestling out my life and my faith.  You read my silly posts when my sarcastic sense of humor pops up.  You read my homeschooling posts, and hopefully learn from my many mistakes!

But what are the things I maybe haven’t told you, that you really should know?  The things that you would know if you were a local friend with whom I met for regular coffee chats or play dates with the kids?

Yes, I color my hair...

Yes, I color my hair, and yes, my kitchen is cluttered…

Here goes!  The real me, unbound and unashamed:

  1. I am a hugger.  I love to squeeze those that I love, whether it’s when they are celebrating, or mourning, or simply because I’m thankful for them in that moment.
  2. I am a lousy housekeeper.  It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have accepted this fact, and stopped trying to make excuses.  I’m not horrible, but I’m certainly not great.  My cleaning rotations are not as neat, tidy or frequent as some of the ones I see on other blogs (even the ones that claim to be homeschool-friendly) but I’m OK with that.
  3. I am a true book junkie.  It goes along with my main learning style, which is visual, and so when I have a problem or question, the first thing I’ll do is find a book about it and read to learn.  I thought, because I love the feel and smell of real books, that I would never get an e-reader, but I did cave and get a Nook to go overseas.  And I love that too, although when I have a book I need to really chew on, I use multi-colored highlighters in a real book!
  4. I think in images.  This is why my recent return to art has been so profoundly satisfying for me.  I’ve always been one to speak and write metaphorically about things, and come up with imagery to explain my feelings.  For example, in my work as a classical voice teacher I’m more likely to describe a sound I want my student to produce with a mental image, than with physiology.  Or when my husband asks how getting some art time makes me feel I tell him it’s like a “dry sponge that is immersed in a vast ocean and immediately swells with life.”  This is just normal for me.  My husband thinks it’s a bit weird.
  5. I am a true introvert.  If you were my neighbor, you’d know that I don’t often socialize (I feel badly about that sometimes.)  I love to be around a friend or two at a time and share deeply, and I love spending time with my family.
  6. I treasure friendship.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t feel understood, had no really close friends to share with deeply.  I had moved and was in the midst of creating this beautiful family I have with a husband who was trying to establish himself in his career.  It was a lonely place.  So therefore I do not take for granted those amazing women who give of themselves, and share their hearts and lives with me.
  7. I sometimes don’t want to homeschool anymore.  Yes, I have those bad days too, which is why it’s so important to have a back up plan.  But I believe so completely that it’s right for our family, and our children are thriving in this learning environment, so I have no real intentions of quitting, it’s just important to be honest about the fact that sometimes it’s tough.
  8. Sometimes I love homeschooling so much I want to convince everyone else to do it.  Just so you know how normal it is to vacillate dramatically between feelings of drudgery and the euphoria, I had to add this one.  And I can be obnoxious, on these days, in my gushing about how much I love it.
  9. I am a woman of highs and lows.  If numbers 7 and 8 didn’t give you a clue, here’s a newsflash: there is no “vanilla” with me.  I run hot or cold, with rarely any in-betweens.  This is also something I’ve come to accept as I’ve gotten older.  I feel things deeply, for good and bad, and sometimes am so whacked out of balance I need to pull back and just be alone.
  10. I’ll be 39 this week.   Ack!!  What should I do for the remainder of my waning journey to the big 4-0?  I need some way to chronicle this next year and make it a good one.  Any suggestions?

So, dear readers…what should I know about you?

Top Ten Tuesday

Visit Angie and link up your Top Ten for the week!

And hop on over to Today’s Housewife to read my guest post on Art Journaling!

Art Journal- Hopes and Dreams

“Hopes and Dreams”

Top Ten Homeschooling Questions {10-in-10}

10-in-10 iHomeschool Network

Top Ten Questions of Homeschoolers

So you want to homeschool?  Mwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!  Be prepared to answer questions all. the. time.  Seriously.  Or don’t ever leave the house.  Or answer the phone.

But I digress…

When it comes to questions about the whys and hows of our choice to homeschool, I try to always have pithy and positive answers ready, and I aim to be kind.  Some questions are from well-meaning folk who really do want to hear our answers, some are from those who might be thinking about homeschooling in the future, and {alas} some really are simply flimsily-veiled judgements.  But over the seven years we’ve homeschooled I’ve learned to laugh, smile, or thoughtfully answer, depending on the intent of the person doing the asking.

Top ten questions I answer {regularly} about homeschooling:


  1. “What about socialization?”  Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat.  If you homeschool, you’ve either gotten this question ad nauseum, or live in Siberia.  And if you live in Siberia, I do wonder about your socialization options!  There have been many awesome responses to this question in the form of posts and articles (like this one and this one, for example) and there’s even a whole book written on the subject.  My simple answer (when I don’t have all the time in the world to get on my soapbox) is that the “unsocialized homeschooler” is a myth and our kids have plenty of time with people of all different ages.  Socialization should be about building relationships and practicing respectful and kind interaction with others, not about being with same-age peers in an institution all day.  Well, I might not say that last part.  *wink*
  2. “How long are you planning to homeschool?” Or its partner question, “What will you do when you get to highschool?”  My answer for this is two-fold.  I say that when we started we planned to take it year by year and assess on a short-term basis.  Then I add that homeschooling has so many benefits, and is so perfect for our family, we now would love to homeschool all the way through.
  3. “What curriculum do you use?”  Or “Do you use an online school?  My neighbor’s sister’s hairdresser’s librarian homeschools and they got a free computer.”  “Pull up a chair,” I answer.  No, seriously, in answer to the first question, I just say that we’re eclectic and choose what works best for each child, for each subject, and that it changes from year to year.  To answer the second related question, I usually say something a bit politically-incorrect, like, “Well, yes, I know that option, but that would mean the government still decides what my children learn and when and I’d rather not answer to them.  I think I can do a better job myself.”
  4. “How do you handle the different ages you are teaching?”  This is an easy one.  I love teaching subjects to all of my kids together.  We do pretty much everything but math and language parked on the couch, reading books, and then do an age-appropriate follow-up activity or assignment afterwards.  This is one of my favorite things about homeschooling: that my kids get to really know, share with, and help each other during our schooldays.
  5. “You must have a lot of patience.”  This isn’t a question, but it has to be among the top three reactions when someone finds out we homeschool.  After I pick myself up off the floor (where I’ve fallen from laughing so hard), I basically say that you grow patience by having a chance to use it, and homeschooling definitely gives you that!  The best answer to this might just be one I heard Carol Barnier suggest at the homeschool convention last week: “Yes, that’s right, I asked God, ‘What would you have me do with the buckets of patience you blessed me with??’, and the answer resonated from the walls, ‘HOMESCHOOL!’”  I’m paraphrasing, but it was hilarious.
  6. “Do they have to take tests or something each year?”  This is an easy one.  They have to have some sort of assessment.  I do usually mention that some states don’t even require a homeschooler to notify the school district of their intent.  NJ is like that.  Pretty cool to not have any government interference.  In Ohio, though, we have to either take a standardized test, or have each school-age child assessed by a certified teacher.  We always choose the portfolio assessment.
  7. “No school today, kids?”  This is one my kids get asked often.  And they say, “We homeschool.”  And that’s usually the end of it.  I haven’t prepped them with any funny answers yet, but maybe I should start.
  8. “Can you watch my son/daughter?”  OK, just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m available.  I don’t get asked this much anymore, but this happened a number of times the first few years of our homeschooling.  I guess the fact that I always said “no” put people off a bit.
  9. “Would you teach my kids too?”  This is completely true.  I’ve had no less than five families ask me this, and they were only half kidding.  I think if I’d said “yes” they would have jumped at the chance.  I take it as a huge compliment, but I would never want to open up our homeschool as a private-school-at-home establishment.
  10. “What about prom?”  I’ll leave you with the most hilarious (in my opinion) question I’ve received, especially considering it was asked when my oldest was only in first grade.  Granted, I don’t have teenagers yet, and maybe the “crowd” will eventually make prom look so attractive to my kids that they will want to take advantage of some of the homeschool options out there (or maybe they’ll be asked by someone to go to a public school prom…but I don’t want to think about that.)  My thoughts on this question can be found in a post I wrote for Heart of the Matter a while back: Radical Thinking.

Homeschoolers, do you have questions to add to this list?  If you’re not a homeschooler, is there another question I can answer for you?  Something you’ve always wondered?

Link up your Top Ten list with Angie at Many Little Blessings.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Reasons We Defy a Homeschool Label

10-in-10 iHomeschool Network

Are you a Charlotte Mason, Classical, Eclectic, Unschooling homeschooler, or just plain confused?

Let me tell you, after attending yet another homeschool convention this past weekend, my head is so filled with good nuggets and advice and thoughts to ponder, I think it might explode!!

But that’s a good thing.  Truly.  Because the second we become complacent as homeschoolers is the second God has a good laugh.  There are plenty of pros and some cons for each of the main methods of homeschooling, and we all seek to avoid a one-size-fits-all mentality.  So it’s safe to say that every homeschool is as unique as the family that lives it.

Top Ten Reasons Our Family Defies Any Homeschool Labels

1. We have more than one child.  As any parent knows, our children are individuals.  Even if you have one child, you can see the differences in learning style, personality, strengths and weaknesses, abilities and interests between him and his friends and neighbors.  If you have more than one child, you learn this simply through daily living in your home.

2. We like elements of many methods and don’t feel like choosing.  Have you ever stood at the ice cream counter stumped because of all of the choices?  Does it get any easier once you’ve tasted a number of flavors and know that you like them all?  Nope.  We’ve read about, and dabbled in, a number of different homeschooling methods and truthfully have a lot of good to say about many of them.

3. I’m fickle.  I change my mind.  Every year.  Not on the main philosophical points, or my reasons for homeschooling in the first place, but I love the flexibility that allows me to change focus, technique, and method when it suits our home, family and schedule.

4. I like to confuse people.  We humans loooove to label, don’t we?  And sometimes that’s necessary, but sometimes it’s simply frustrating.  I’m going on my eighth year homeschooling now, and I know the value of being outside of any box it is comfortable for someone to try to shove fit us in.

5. (OK, getting serious again…) We love to read living books.  So does that make us Charlotte Mason homeschoolers?  Classical homeschoolers?  Thomas Jefferson, Literature-Based, or Interest-Led?  Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.  Or it just may mean we like to read.  Period.  No explanation needed.

6. Burnout.  My brain melts into a mess if I get too focused on a method instead of being focused on my kids.  My kids don’t fit a mold, so I don’t want to either.  Trying to do so is a recipe for disaster.

7.  Zachary (5)

Zachary reading

8.  Elliot (6)


9.  Maddy (9)

Maddy with her milk jug hat

10.  Colin (12)

Colin- museum

 OK, so I cheated, but my four children are the reasons we homeschool in the first place so by default they are the reasons we defy any method labels.  (And, let’s be serious, that milk jug hat my daughter made defies any explanation!)

Top Ten Tuesday

Link up with Top Ten Tuesday over at Angie’s!

Top Ten Series for Middle School Boys

iHomeschool Network 10 in 10 blog hop

Colin- favorite series of books for boysHere we are again!  I’m linking up with Angie for Top Ten Tuesday and also with the iHomeschool Network 10-in-10 Blog Hop.  Crazy fun for a Tuesday, right?

Today the topic is Top Ten Books and since my oldest is a voracious reader and loves to get into a good series, I thought I would ask him what his favorites are.  Colin favors science fiction and fantasy, but also enjoys adventure and mystery novels.  Here are his top ten.

Top ten series for middle school boys:

1.  Harry Potter We love Harry Potter around here.  I know that other families choose not to include these books for various reasons and I respect that.  For us, however, the storyline, depth of characters, and the growth and real-life emotions and experiences the characters deal with make these well-worn additions to our bookshelves.

2.  Chronicles of Narnia– The world of Narnia is like no other, and the way C. S. Lewis turns a phrase and uses metaphor and allegory is really fantastic.  I’m looking forward to getting into this series with my younger ones when they are old enough to get the most out of it!

3.  My Side of the Mountain– This was a trilogy my son reread many times.  The “Lost in the Wilderness” theme really resonated with him and I think he learned alongside the character.

4.  Redwall– I have to admit, I’ve never read one of these books (I usually pre-read what my children are interested in) but it came highly recommended by a number of homeschoolers I trust.  Colin hasn’t finished the series (there are dozens of books, I believe) but it is one he comes back to regularly, getting the next from the library when he’s between books and wants to venture back into this fantasy-land of animals and battles, good and evil.

5.  The Door Within– Wayne Thomas Batson is a Christian youth fiction writer and my son has enjoyed his books ever since a Christian friend suggested them.  This trilogy fits right into Colin’s interest in fantasy, and includes clear Christian allegory in the story.

6.  Time Warp Trio– This silly, well-written mystery/time travel series does have a bit of potty humor, so be aware.  However, these are fun, definitely, ummm, boy-ish and have caused many belly laughs in our home.  Each book has a theme and time period it delves into as the trio of boys galavants disjointedly across the years getting into, and then trying to get out of, trouble.  This series is a bit easier in terms of reading level than some of the other series on the list.

7.  Lord of the Rings trilogy (and The Hobbit)- We are big fans here of Tolkien’s amazing world and the people and characters that live there.  These books are a bit more advanced, but with time and diligence they are wonderful read-alouds, or independent reading material for boys that can handle the language.  This is where a Kindle really comes in handy.  My son loves the dictionary feature at his fingertips!

8. Chronicles of Prydain–  This valiant series by Lloyd Alexander is one I kind of had to force Colin to start.  He wasn’t so keen on this (as I tried to woo him away from some favorites he kept rereading) but he finally, grudgingly, began.  And he loved them!  Ha!  Mom knows what she’s talking about.  Mmm-hmmm.

9.  Percy Jackson series This year we studied the ancients and Colin was enthralled with the myths of Rome and Greece.  Enter Rick Riordan and his fantasy series about the Greek gods and a boy who finds out his father is really Poseidon, which makes him a demigod.  These books fueled my son’s interest and led to other books from the same author: The Heroes of Olympus and The Kane Chronicles.

10. The Berinfell Prophecies– This series is in its infancy as only two of the books have been written and released, but it is another fantasy series by Christian youth fiction author, Wayne Thomas Batson.  Colin downloaded #2 on his Kindle as soon as it became available and impatiently awaits the next!

Come link up your top ten list for the week!

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Reasons my kids love homeschooling {Limericks and Haiku}

10 reasons we love homeschooling

I asked my kids what they love about homeschooling and they gave me pretty typical answers: sleeping in, playing outside at any time of day, going places during the day when they are less populated. I decided, though, that it was too boring to just write them down, so I expressed them in poems instead!  

Top Ten Reasons My Kids Love to Homeschool


Some people may think we are lazy
Or even a little bit crazy,
But when the big big bus goes by,
They think of us and sigh.
(Kids sleeping in doesn’t faze me.)


Homeschooling is great for going places,
For while we love seeing folks’ faces,
When we go out,
There’s no one about,
And we much prefer wide open spaces.


Our day is our own
We make of it what we want


Our bookshelves are packed to the gills,
Books on our floors resemble hills.
Reading aloud’s our thing
Whether morn, noon, or evening,
Just don’t check our credit card bills!


Daddy likes this best:
When we homeschool our kiddos
Learning never ends


Sometimes it’s snowy hills, down we zoom!
Other times we smell flowers in bloom.
When PE’s just play,
We’re outside all day,
Not cooped up in a stuffy classroom.


The park is just ours
Imaginations take off
We are what we dream


Poor Daddy works weekends and nights,
But in his children he finds his delight,
We schedule our day
So with Dad they can play.
It’s really a wonderful sight!


The bounciest seats are in back,
From a bully you might get a whack,
My kids seem to think
That buses just stink,
So Mom’s minivan picks up the slack.


My siblings are all my best friends,
My love for them will never end.
(But sometimes we hit,
Or even get bit,
Don’t tell Mom, she’d go off the deep end!)

iHomeschool Network 10 in 10 blog hop

If you’d like to join in, visit Angie and link up your own Top Ten list!

Top Ten Tuesday- 10 Homeschooling Websites

iHomeschool Network 10 in 10 blog hop

Welcome to the 10 in 10 Blog Hop!  We are partnering with Angie for 10 whole weeks, bringing you ten homeschooling lists you won’t want to miss.  I’m so excited to get suggestions and resources from all of the bloggers participating!  Be sure to visit the iHomeschool Network for a complete list.

This week, we are posting our top ten homeschooling websites, the ones that use the top digital marketing toronto companies.  Everyone has their favorites, and honestly, there are so many places out there I rarely try a new site unless it is suggested by someone I know and trust, some sites are even taken down, so that’s why important to look for the better hosting from armchair hosting reviews online.  Hopefully you will find something new and useful here for your learning and planning at home.

Here are my top ten homeschooling websites:

  1. You Tube– I know many people use this one, and it’s probably not new to you, but this has become an easy way to supplement any subject in a fun way.  We have used it for geography (the Fifty Nifty US States song), science (octopus camouflage), history (Roman table manners), and much more.
  2. Enchanted Learning– we actually have a yearly membership, which is well worth the cost to have all of the resources and printables available.  This site is especially useful when I need to find simple ways to include my younger ones (5 and 6 years old) in our joint subjects.
  3. Notebooking Pages– if  I had to choose, I’d say this is the best website I’ve been introduced to this year.  Notebooking pages galore, on every topic from (click for free samples) composers to state pages, copywork to the ancient times.  Notebooking Pages is having a promotion for membershipright now– less than $60 for 15 months!Notebooking Pages Sale-a brationJoin in the Notebooking Pages Facebook party tonight from 8-9pm EST.  They will be rolling out a brand new app called Notebooking Publisher, which lets you customize your own pages!  You will not want to miss it!
  4. Donna Young– I love all of the free resources here: wonderful planner pages, math and language sheets, etc.  Spend some time exploring and you will surely find lots to use in your own home.
  5. Squidoo– the “lenses”, as they are called, are as varied and informative as you can possibly find all in one place.  I love Jimmie’s lenses and have used them extensively, as well as numerous others.
  6. Deep Space Sparkle and Made by Joel– these are two of my favorite art/crafting blogs.  DSS has many projects offered for free and others for purchase.  Made by Joel is perhaps one of the most creative and unique sites out there, and they are all projects the author/artist makes first for his own children.
  7. BBC Primary History– I love this site for interactive fun in different parts of history.  We have gone through the Indus Valley and Ancient Greek activities as a family all huddled on the couch making decisions and exploring together.  It’s very well thought out and keeps everyone’s attention (and that’s saying something!)
  8. Eager Readers– though some of these books are out of print, I have never read a book to my children, or suggested they read one, without being pleased with the choice.  I love how simple the site is and how all books are categorized by genre, series, content level, reading level, and author.
  9. Cool Math 4 Kids– there are so many ways to have fun with math on this site, more than we’ve ever explored, but if you only go here for the Rotate and Roll game, it will be well worth it.  My oldest son and my husband once had a duel, facing off on laptops across the kitchen table to see who could complete the game fastest.  Try it and you’ll be hooked!
  10. 24 Hours in Pictures– I originally was led to this site by Ann Voskamp, and have loved connecting with the images from all around the world.  Preview them first on any given day to make sure they are appropriate for your children to see, but definitely use this on occasion to broaden their horizons and their vision for the world.

Top Ten Tuesday

Come link up at Angie’s!

Top Ten Tuesday- You know you’re addicted to Hellomornings when…

I have been so blessed by my participation in Hellomornings the past few months.  My morning routine begins at 5:00 a.m. and includes worship (with Pandora on iPhone- love it!), prayer, scripture memorization, a Bible in one year reading plan, writing, and checking in with some wonderful online friends for accountability.  It can be quite a life changer.

Here are ten ways you know you’re addicted to Hellomornings:

1. 6:00 a.m. comes and you wonder how it can be so late already.
2. You get excited to go to bed so you can get up and meet with some early-riser friends on Twitter.
3. If you’re not a coffee drinker, you become one.
4. You buy and use a whole bunch of Moleskine journals in various pretty colors.
5. You wake up before the birds are singing and look forward to the first chirp.
6. Your 4 year old, seeing your Bible out when he gets up at 7, asks to flip through it and does so quite reverently.
7. Your morning spot on the couch has a permanent dent from your rear end.
8. Two hours just doesn’t seem like enough anymore.
9. You have friends whom you only know online and they encourage you each morning with scripture references and their own motivation and focus.
10. You just simply don’t remember what it feels like to sleep in, and you don’t even care.
So have you joined yet?

Visit Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesdays!