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From the Bees Comes the…


Remember our bee adventures last spring? Interesting week, right? We had not one, but TWO swarms of bees in our back yard! We learned a lot from talking with our neighbors and watching them capture the swarms.

Who’d have thought you could just knock a whole swarm of bees into a box? Certainly not me! It was the coolest thing we’ve seen in a long time.

We have also definitely reaped the rewards from having neighbors with bee hives living right behind us. Bumper crops of strawberries AND raspberries. Gallons of them.



And if you know me, you know I am not a gardener but I LOVE my berries. True, I have been a wanna-be gardener, but never an actual gardener. It probably helps if you don’t mind going outside to pull weeds when it’s 90* outside.

That would not be me.


As my strawberry bed can attest, I only do it twice a year: At the beginning and after the end of the berry season.

Imagine my surprise and delight when our neighbor Nona and her two kids showed up at my door Sunday night, in the midst of our CRAZY let’s-have-all-our-kids-and-grandkids-over family barbecue, with this…


The odd shape is due to several of us digging in and eating pieces of the honeycomb. There’s nothing quite like honey straight from the comb, although you have to spit the wax out, unless you really like eating wax. You never know. My husband ate it.

I’m still in awe that a BUG can MAKE something like this! God is so cool. Only He could create something so amazing.

The moral of this story is:  Be kind to your neighbors, and don’t kill their bees when they invade your yard. Bees are good!

categories: Home & Family

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Our Homeschool Curriculum for 7th & 9th Grade

It’s THAT time of year again. You know what time it is.

This is when we homeschool moms either breathe a deep sigh of relief, or swing into full-on panic mode because we put the books away a couple of months ago and….

What do you mean by “school starts in 4 weeks?!”

Oh, but it does.

I’m not freaking out this year though. I decided on the majority of our homeschool curriculum toward the end of the school year last year. I lucked out (quite literally) and was able to purchase most of it all in one day at a curriculum sale in June!

I made a spur of the moment change about a week ago, and decided to add language arts programs that includes literature study, which we have been sorely neglecting. I still need to pick up a few loose odds and ends.

Wait did I say 9th GRADER? I did. High School. Oh my. As a result, I’ve been doing a LOT of reading lately on homeschooling teenagers. I’ll tell you more about it in another post, but suffice it to say I’m not going into this season with blinders on!


7gradeD2, our hilarious 7th Grader, the boy whose voice became insanely deep at the age of 11, who prefers to play Black Ops over pretty much anything, who turned out to be a championship wrestler last year, will officially be a junior higher. Eep! He tackles his school work like he does pretty much everything: With a little groaning but a quick determination to get it done efficiently. I love efficient students. :)


Language Arts


*Apologia Exploring Creation With Physical Science and the Physical Science Student Notebook along with co-op class



Undecided! I’m open to suggestions for young teens



  • Upward Flag Football August- October
  • Wrestling at the Middle School (Oct-Dec.– tentative- he hasn’t decided for sure yet) followed by Junior Wrestling- local league Feb-April



D1, our gentle giant. Just turned 14 and is brushing the underside of 6′tall. Nerdy science whiz, slow to catch on to jokes and innuendo but quick to respond to anyone with a science, Portal, or Minecraft question, his Autism really IS his superpower!

Pre-Algebra: 1 Credit

English: 1 Credit

Science: 1 Credit Physical Science

*Apologia Exploring Creation With Physical Science, the Physical Science Audio Book for processing support, and the Physical Science Student Notebook along with co-op class (Please pray that he can keep up with the class homework! He really struggled last year with General Science at co-op, and I just don’t know if this one is possible for him. We may switch to Biology 1o1 if it’s too much of a struggle.)

World Geography: 1 Credit Social Studies


Undecided! I’m open to suggestions for young teens


  • Intermediate Homeschool Band (Clarinet Year 2) 1 Credit Fine Art
  • *Cigar Box Guitar Shop co-op class .5 Credit Industrial Art
  • Keyboard Classroom for typing instruction .5 Credit Keyboarding
  • Media Team Intern- He runs the computer/lights/soundboard for the Children’s Church on Sundays. Now he can get school credit for it! :) .5 Credit Music Technology


  • Swim Team June-August .5 Credit PE
  • Karate, possibly

Extra Helpful for Special Needs

Inspiration Software for enabling them to put together writing assignments and projects visually. Recommended by the neuropsychologist who diagnosed my son’s Autism, and well worth it. They have a GREAT deal on it through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, which is where I bought it.

Study Skills Help: How to Become A Superstar Student from The Great Courses. I plan on having D1 do this sometime this year (most likely toward the beginning) for .5 credit.

How’s your year coming together? Do you have your curriculum picked out yet?

This post is linked up to the Hip Homeschool Hop!

categories: Homeschooling


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Homeschool Newbies: Considering Homeschooling

It’s the middle of summer. Your 5 year old is happily blowing bubbles on the patio, oblivious to the inner dialogue her mother is having with herself.

Should I send her to Kindergarten? I don’t know. Is she even ready? And what does ready mean anyway? Maybe I should homeschool her. But homeschooling seems kind of… weird. What would my neighbors think? And my mother was a teacher- what will SHE say?! But I just don’t think she’s ready to go to school…

If you’re having that dialogue, you’re not alone.

Homeschool Newbies: Considering Homeschooling

Are you considering homeschooling?

Summer seems to be the time we Mommas do it. Between preschool and kindergarten. Between 4th and 5th grades. Between 6th grade and–GASP– JUNIOR HIGH. We think and ponder and wonder and question and of course, we hit the Internet. That may even be how you landed here.

Let me give you some encouragement, Momma. Homeschooling isn’t weird. Well, not that weird. :) Your neighbors probably won’t care.

Your mother will either love the idea, or hate it. My mother in law was against it, until she saw how great my kids were doing and then she began to tell EVERYONE she worked with–at the school– how proud of me she was for homeschooling.

All of us “veteran” homeschoolers have been right where you are, questioning expectations and choices and wondering what we should do that would be best for our kids. I’m glad that you found me.

Before I share some of my own posts with you, I also want to share with you a series my friend, Terri Johnson from Knowledge Quest, is putting together. It’s a 3-part video series that addresses a few of these challenges head-on and gives help in overcoming them. I wish this had been around 16 years ago when we were first getting started!

It’s just for moms like you, who are getting started or maybe have started homeschooling but are a bit overwhelmed by it all.  The series will cover:

  • Staying motivated and being consistent in teaching
  • Sticking to a schedule
  • Balancing schoolwork with housework
  • Developing patience and controlling anger
  • Getting organized
  • Dealing with life’s interruptions
  • And more!

The first video in the Homeschooling with Joy series is up now and you can watch it any time. Click to watch, “How to Stay Motivated and Be Consistent in Homeschooling”. Enjoy the series! And do provide comments in the feedback area once the first video goes live. Terri is using your feedback to make the content uniquely relevant to those that watch and participate in the Homeschooling with Joy video series.

I’ve gathered a collection of posts from my archives, just for you.

I hope that they will encourage you and give you some insight into what homeschooling is all about. It looks different for everyone. My homeschool is completely different than my closest friend’s, because our families are different and so are our educational goals and outlooks.

Your homeschool will be unique to you and your family.

How We Started Homeschooling Dear New Homeschooler: Advice From a 13 Year Veteran Top 10 Must Haves for Home Schooling Benefits of Homeschooling a Child on the Autism Spectrum  Top 10 Things to Do Before the Homeschool Year Begins10 Reasons I (Don't) Homeschool ~    Common Core Affects Every Student~ The Momma Knows The Ranks of the Extreme: Homeschooling High School

And if you liked these, I’d love it if you would subscribe to get my posts emailed directly to you when they come out. Just enter your email address in the little blue bar up at the top of this page.

This post is linked up to the Hip Homeschool Hop!

categories: Homeschooling

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Truths and Consequences: Don’t Get Derailed by Manipulation

If you’re just joining us, we are reading the book Boundaries With Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Dr. John Townsend. Go to the Reading Schedule if you want to start at the beginning. 

We are covering chapters 18 and 19 this week. If you would like to join us, you can download the book for Kindle through my affiliate link: Boundaries With Teens and get started right away. Come back every Monday from now through the end of July, as we cover 2 chapters per week and discuss them in the comments of each week’s post.

Be sure to subscribe to receive posts by email so you’ll get them as they come out. (Enter your email address in the blue bar up at the top of this window.)

 Truths and Consequences: Don't Get Derailed by Manipulation

Don’t Get Derailed.

The title of Chapter 18 is appropriate in so many ways. Over the course of this book we have looked at our own backgrounds, our parenting strengths (and weaknesses), the character flaws and motivations our kids have, and begun to set some boundaries with them.

The derailing comes in subtle ways, and it comes in obvious ways.

Mostly it comes by way of manipulation. Why are teenagers so adept at manipulating us? Whether it be by explosive tantrums, or whining pleas, the effect is the same: We cave. We don’t want to deal with that kid’s angry accusations, however wrong they are, so we just don’t go there. “It’s not worth the fight” we tell ourselves.

Your Daddy’s girl who always, always comes up with the most logical explanations, and she was only ten minutes late so what’s the big deal? Except that she is ten minutes late on a regular basis and you’ve already told her what would happen if she was late again. But you gave in and let her off with barely (another) warning.

Are we proud of this? No way. But we still do it. I say “we” because this chapter could have been about our family. The examples hit SO close to home the author could have been sitting in our living room, listening to our endless go-rounds with our daughter. Endless. We didn’t know much about setting boundaries. Obviously she knew more about how to bend and break them than we did about enforcing them, and when we did enforce them it was with an iron fist. No grace, no love, just angry rules and heavy handed consequences given out of frustration.

“Most teens react with manipulation, arguments, anger, or defiance when their parents set limits with them.”

Yes, they definitely do. And they use as many tactics as they can come up with to get what they want. Dr. Townsend gives some guidelines for setting realistic boundaries and enforcing them.

1. Know what is a typical consequence for kids their age, as in, talk to other parents about how they dole out consequences.

2. Set the rules and consequences WITH your teen, rather than when he’s away. He won’t be able to say “Well you never did that before. You never told me that!” Work them out together.

3. Learn to contain your teen’s angry reactions. This is new territory for me personally, and something that we would have really benefited from. (Read the chapter because it goes very in depth on why and how to do this.)

“While your gut-level reaction might be to escalate to the same level as your kid, or to back off, neither is the best response. The first forces your teen into a power struggle with you, and the second conveys that the anger will keep you from setting limits.”

4. Use active listening. Your teen needs to know that you are listening and hearing him. Repeat back to him what he says, such as “You are upset because I am enforcing your curfew time. You feel that it’s unfair for me to restrict you from your friends”  rather than “You’re just mad because you’re in trouble. If you would have just come home on time you’d be able to hang out with your friends tomorrow. You did this to yourself.” Show him you are understanding what he is saying and keep your own feelings and experience out of it.

5. Don’t let them manipulate you. Learn to recognize manipulation! Ask a trusted friend or other adult who is around you and your kids regularly to make observations. Then listen to them.

6. Follow through no matter what. Enforce the rules you set.

7. Watch out for the yes-kids. Kids who always comply may have emotional or other issues related to pleasing you, or they may be mask wearers who are one way with you, and another way with their friends. (We had one of these and it took us a long time to figure it out. By then she was into a lot of unhealthy activities!)

Above all, pick your battles.

You need to decide which are important issues and what rules are worth enforcing. Choose consequences that hit your teens where they live. You know the things that your teen finds most valuable: Music, dancing, computer or video games, driving, their cell phone, time with friends. Always take away things before adding things. If taking away the cell phone for two weeks is effective, then there is no reason to pile on a lot of other consequences on top of that.

Make the punishment fit the crime.  

If she is texting while driving, you could take the phone, the keys, or both. Oversleeping might warrant an earlier bedtime. Disrespecting a neighbor could earn him being that person’s errand boy for a week.

Natural consequences are the easiest because usually you don’t have to do anything. 

Getting caught texting at school will won’t even involve you. The teacher may confiscate the phone.  If he gets benched from the wrestling team due to bad grades, well, he gets benched. He’s the one who has to live with that choice. (Our son did this, two days before the championships! It was  a very sad tournament for him.)

Choose consequences that you can live with.

If you ground your teen, remember you’ll be grounded too. If you decide to make her weed your flower beds, you’ll need to be around to make sure that she does it the way you want it done. Be selective and make what ever you choose, enforceable.


I hope that this study has been helpful for you. Every parent needs a few more tools in their parenting repertoire, and this book has been that for me. I pray that if you’ve been reading and following along, you will feel better prepared for spending the summer with your teenager.Faith: The Process of Growth

Part Four is the last section in the book, and I’m not going to cover all of it in posts. It is more of a reference for various teen issues, from academics, drugs,  and self-mutilation, to driving, the Internet, handling money, friends, and sexual activity. If you’ve just been reading along but haven’t read  Boundaries With Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, I urge you to get the book!

I can’t tell you how much I have learned from reading it, and how many regrets I have about the way we parented in the past. We weren’t bad parents, we just didn’t have a clear focus for the whys and hows. This was my second time reading the book, and I’ll keep it on  my Kindle so I can glean from it as needed. We still have two preteens at home, and we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.

What have you learned from this study? Anything really big? What are you changing because of it?


North Star Geography & WonderMaps Combo

categories: Boundaries

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On Special Needs Moms

If you have a friend with a special needs child, you’ve probably noticed that she operates a bit differently than you do.

She may survive on less sleep. She watches her child closely– closer than you watch yours, and you’re a good mom. She monitors him, paying attention to the telltale signs his body language or the look in his eyes give off. In one second she’s no longer sitting next to you, because she’s there, with him, mediating a situation you aren’t even aware of, because it hasn’t “blown up”– YET.

Your friend needs you, but she also needs you to understand that her life, and yours, are completely different. Yes he seems “normal”, but her child may have certain issues that, left unchecked, can quickly turn into bad situations. She sees to her child above all else, because family comes first. Even when it may seem like what’s happening there isn’t such a big deal.

She knows her child. She knows what may come next.

I live this every day. I watch and listen and mediate and help him navigate the daily steps of life. This is not helicopter parenting, per se, this is enabling a child to become responsible for himself, with supervision. It is giving him space but also being there to help him through the rougher parts. Because he needs the extra support.

This special needs parenting stuff isn’t for slackers.

If you have a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance with a special needs child, there was an article today on the HEDUA blog that touched me and I think every friend needs to read it. I wish some of mine would.

So go on, read 5 Things Special Needs Moms Won’t Tell You (but you need to know).  If you follow me on Pinterest, I pinned it to my Homeschooling: Special Needs board too. It’s not my post, but it hits me today especially because of a difficult situation we are dealing with regarding our son.

categories: Special Needs Kids

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