Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Labor of Love---What a Deal!!

All right, so you probably know by now that from time to time, I review products for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. You have likely seen the disclaimers on this blog and others, that sometimes certain products are received free in exchange for honest reviews. Well, I want you to know up front that I may recieve free tickets to the Expo-to-Go from TOS in exchange for this review, BUT you should also know that just before I opened the email asking me to post about their AWESOME sale, I opened the email telling me about the awesome sale and I was on my way to the TOS site because my first thoughts were, "I have to post this on Facebook for my homeschooling friends," and then, "I need to write up a blog post, too." So you see, I was going to tell you about this incredible deal ANYWAY. That should tell you that I really love this magazine. I mean, would you work with someone you didn't like, admire, and respect? Well, some of you may have the misfortune of being in that postition, and for that I am sorry, but I am blessed to work with people I like and who do things I really like (like publish this magazine).

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is, in my opinion, one of the best publications out there on any subject. It is top of the line in addressing the issue of homeschoolering, and also has many gems on child-raising, walking with the Lord, culture issues, organization, and many other interesting topics. The writers have a very professional, yet heart-warming style, and no issue of the magazine will ever leave you feeling wanting. Whether you are new to homeschooling, or an old hand, this magazine will definitely enrich your homeschooling experience. You will wonder how you ever got along without it!

That's why I am urging you that if you have never subscribed to this magazine, or if your subscription is up soon, NOW is the time to jump on over to the TOS site and  subscribe or renew. Here are the details of their wonderful sale, which is only on until September 15th, so GO NOW!!!

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine knows how seriously homeschooling families take their conviction to homeschool...and that it is a labor of love to those who do it. That is why, for a limited time, they want to help you celebrate your commitment to homeschooling by extending an extraordinary subscription offer to homeschooling families.

For a limited time only, receive a one-year print subscription for just $7.95, or a one-year plus current issue subscription for $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue.

Don't wait to take advantage of this generous offer. Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31 through midnight on September 15. Once the 5000 are gone, they're gone!

Hurry and grab this crazy price today!
Click HERE to subscribe NOW!

I hope if you have never subscribed to this magazine, you will take my advice and subscribe now. Seriously, consider it an early Christmas or birthday present for yourself. This is the kind of thing that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving...unto the next generation. Don't take the potential benefits of a bit of sound homeschool advice and a Godly influence lightly. Sometimes the simplest things make the largest difference.

Blessings to you,


Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday---August 30-September 5

Can you believe it is going to be September? The time just flies. In September, my four year-old turns five and my two year-old turns three. The days, months, and years are passing too quickly.

It was a much better week weather-wise in our neck of the woods. Yesterday afternoon, it was actually only 70 degrees around five pm. So much cooler than the previous weeks...we all hung out outside and gloried in God's creation!

Of course, this week, Hurricane Earl is projected to travel up our way. Hopefully, he will not actually make landfall, but the tides will likely still be high. Maybe I should plan seafood for Thursday and Friday...lol. Seriously though, the last two Nor'easters that have impacted our area turned our humble abode into not only waterfront property, but an island. I really should have tried fishing off of our deck. I might have really caught something.

I will be spending some time this week with hurricanes on my mind battening down the hatches (ie. the garage and barn), just in case. They both need a good cleaning out anyway, and hubby has agreed to trade vehicles so I can load up his truck with trash during the day, so he can run it to the dump when he gets home.

Busy-ness in mind, I plan to keep our menu simple. Plus, my dishwasher is on the fritz...well, my automatic dishwasher, that is. I have been doing two large sinkfulls a day and it's getting tiresome! I will never take my dishwasher for granted again.

Our Menu Plan for the Week:

Monday: Tuna salad on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, crackers, and cheese slices, freshly sliced perfectly ripe pears on the side (we have tons of them) and watermelon for dessert (we have a few of these, too.)

Tuesday: Easy chicken casserole. One dish to wash. Served on paper plates. Pear sauce on the side (our alternative to applesauce, since our pear trees did better than the apple trees this year...this week's flavor is pear-cinnamon, last week's was pear-strawberry...yum.)

Wednesday: Taco night. Add Mexican rice and refried beans, and it's a meal we all love. Don't forget plenty of sour cream and salsa on the side.

Thursday: I am anticipating a killer migraine because of the storm, so I will be prepared with a handy dandy Stouffer's Lasagne and a bag of salad w/tomatoes added. Not economical, I know, but Tex and Ladybug can make this meal, in case I can't. I will let the kids finish any yogurt pops or popsicles in the freezer tonight, just in case the power goes out. I hope this Earl-thing fizzles out in the Atlantic. We just got our yard looking nice after our trip. Hubby worked so hard this weekend. Thanks, honey!

Friday: Assuming it's business as usual here, Friday is pizza and a movie night. Have you tried Dominoes new pizza yet? The crust is amazing. The kids are loving the pizza with white sauce (instead of marinara), ham, and pineapple. Yum.

Saturday: I think we are going to the Living Museum with my brother and his family today. I imagine we will eat with them. If my folks are home from their Midwest trek, we may turn this excursion into a birthday celebration for Cowboy. I am going to hang loose on this one and see where the day takes us. We can always do tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, if we wind up being at home. Ladybug loves to help with that. She's a dandy bread-butterer and soup-stirrer.

Sunday: How about pot roast, carrots, and potatoes cooked in the crockpot with French onion soup and beef boullion all day? If I start it before we leave for church (this is the week we drive over an hour each way to go to the family-integrated service at a different church), it will be just right when we get home for dinner. I will make an extra large batch of brownies to take with me to the after-service pot luck.

I hope your week is full of blessings and that you stay safe and dry (especially if you are anywhere the severe weather is potentially projected to hit).

Until next week,


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sermon Sunday---The Art of Marriage

I saw this cute sign at the Tea Shoppe on Grande in Ames.

This Sermon Sunday is dedicated to my parents, who celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary on Friday. They are the best example of a successful marriage that I have ever seen. Through thick and thin, ups and downs, ins and outs, they have been an inseparable pair, filled with respect, caring, and devotion.

Best of all, they are truly still "twitterpated" with each other. A few years back, I made them a scrapbook for their anniversary called "The Smoochy Album." I'll let you guess what lots of the pictures were about...from their first married kiss to their fortieth anniversary kiss, the album's pages are filled with evidence of the affection that springs between them...not in a garish way, but in that sweet, heart-touching way that eveybody hopes they will still have with their true love when their youth fades. Thanks Mom and Dad for being such a great example of all that true love is.

We LOVE you, guys! Lots of smooches and hugs from all of us crazy folks who are missing you back at home (they are still in the Midwest visiting relatives...ain't retirement grand?)

Here's a short sermon from John McArthur about What Makes a Real Family Work . Hint: it isn't a big screen TV with 500 channels, fancy vacations, or unlimited texting on your Blackberry.

Here's a sermon series I like from Jeff Pollard on Marriage---Christ-Like Love. He's very conservative and his sermons are not brief, but they will REALLY make you think.
     Part One
     Part Two
     Part Three

Dr. Erwin Lutzer's three part series on Building a Lasting Marriage (15 minutes each), which tells the story of his own parents' 76 year marriage. The "episodes" are short, but pack a powerful punch.
     Part One
     Part Two
     Part Three

His next series called Those Vows Mean Something:
     Part One
     Part Two
     Part Three
     Part Four

You can go to this site and click on January 2010 if you'd like to get the links for the two follow-up series' (each three or four parts) titled The Goal is Holiness, Not Happiness and Miles Apart in the Same House.

I'll leave you with a favorite pair of pictures of my folks from last October and a new song from their favorite group, the Gaithers. (By the way, I have this CD waiting for you at home, folks, so don't buy it on the way home...Happy Anniversary!!)

Greatly Blessed and Highly Favored

Now that's a love you can see...what a blessing.

Blessed to be your daughter, blessed by your wonderful marriage, blessed to have you here,


Friday, August 27, 2010

Wild Card Blog Book Tour

I am not sure what I am doing here, so please forgive me. If you come across this and know what this is all about, please leave a comment. But somehow I wandered across this blog and the book they were reviewing today was positively charming. I could not resist. I absolutely loved the video version of it from YouTube that is embeded below. I will add a physical link just in case anything in the html I copied did not work. Check out the video and see if you don't want to buy a copy of this one, too!

                                       FIRSTWildCardTours2.jpg">It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

                            Today's Wild Card authors are:
              Dan and Ali Morrow

and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2010)


Dan and Ali Morrow are parents of two wonderful daughters. When they’re not writing children’s books, they like to go on adventures around their Colorado home.

Visit the authors' website.

That's Where God Is by Dan and Ali Morrow on YouTube.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764346
ISBN-13: 978-1434764348


Blog Walking---Week Nine

We're still going through our FM's blogs for this blog walk. Here is the next set of blogs for our Blog Walk. Enjoy the scenery along the way...there are some wonderful photos out there this week.

1. Creative Learners---She has some great posts about writing, by author Jim Baumgardner.

2. The Homeschool Desk---She has an excellent post on using community service as part of your homeschool curriculum. Stop by and read it. I completely agree that we should all be doing community service with our families...that's real education in action, and love in action.

3. Ramblin' Roads---Beautiful pictures of a trip to Lola Motorway which follows some of the most diffucult parts of the Lewis and Clark trail. The mountain lookouts are gorgeous!! We drove through mountains, too, on our way to Iowa (not quite like these, though) and Ladybug kept saying, "wow. Wow. WOW!"

4. The Stewards Steno---My FM's blog. Check out the pictures of her AWESOME custom-built chicken coop. My chickens and I are jealous.

5. Mama Manuscripts---This address is different from the one we were given, but a notice on the blogger blog said she's moved, so give this new (and full of her old stuff) site a look.

6. Train Up a Child---Great ad for the TOS 2010 Homeschool Planner. I just got my own and can't wait to use it and review it!

7. We Love to Homeschool---I love her post on one of her favorite quotes. I made my son copy it for handwriting today. I think I will try to design a crosstitch of it and work on it this winter.

8. Day by Day in Our World---Cool pictures of Alaska and the Iditarod Headquarters! And I want to know how I can get to review cool stuff like deep dish baking pans...someone, fill me in!

9. Acorns - or Homeschooling Nuggets of Gold---Full of reviews. Maybe you will see something you are reviewing this year to and get excited ahead of time.

10. The Berry Patch---Check out her top ten list of Homeschool Freebies. Awesome! You can check out my homeschool-for-free site for more freebies.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Homeschool for Free (or at least, more inexpensively)

When we lived in Florida, I was the "Homeschooling Liason" for the School Board office in the county we lived in. Basically, that's a fancy way of saying that my phone number was on the paperwork you were handed when you expressed an interest in homeschooling. That meant that I received quite a few phone calls from folks who knew almost nothing about homeschooling.

If I were to ask you what you think the most commonly asked question was, you would possibly guess the standard, "What about socialization?" query. No. That's not it. Given another guess, you might think it would be the usual, "I don't know how I can homeschool. I don't have a degree in education/I don't have that sort of patience/I don't know where to start..." sort of thing. No. Not that either.

Actually, the most commonly asked question was, "How can I afford to homeschool? Doesn't it cost an awful lot of money?" That question is what prompted me to start my homeschool-for-free website. It is a work in progress at this point, with five children still at home, four of whom I am homeschooling this year. I want it to eventually be a place where almost anyone can go and find usable resources to teach almost any subject. Right now there is a lot of content on my site (I especially like the Science Links page), but not nearly as much as I hope for there to be when I consider it complete.

So this week's question, "How can I save money on homeschooling?" is right up my alley. There are a myriad of ways to save money while homeschooling, and I have quite a few suggestions for you, so go get a cup of tea (I prefer Earl Grey, how about you?) before you settle in and get ready to take some notes...I have a lot to cover! (when do I not write a lot? lol.)

How to Homeschool-for-Free
(Or at least, more inexpensively)

 20+ Ideas for lowering your homeschooling expenses in today's tight economy...

1. Borrow, don't buy, your books and supplemental materials. I know, books are nice (you should see my house---I am a book junkie) BUT they can be expensive. If this is the year you are on a very tight budget, then try one of these ways to obtain the books you need:

     *Use your library. Develop a good working relationship with your local librarian. Find things to praise them about FIRST, then ask for a few things you notice are missing that you need. Most libraries do interlibrary loans, so you can borrow books they do not have from other libraries. The lending period may be shorter, but the potential is there. Many libraries really listen to patrons when ordering books. Ask for what you need most (or for what is most expensive) and see if they can purchase it. Some libraries have software you can borrow, an educator's section, or even activity bags you can check out centered around a theme or a local attraction (ours has adventure bags for local historical sites).

     *Libraries not only have books, they carry audio materials such as books on tape/cd and music cds, video materials (both fiction and non-fiction), they may have language programs available online for free, they likely have language tapes to check out, and don't forget your library's summer and school-year programs that are almost always FREE!!

     *You can also find out if there is a Bookmobile and see if it can visit somewhere near your house once or twice a month. Often, Bookmobile checkouts do not carry fines for overdues, and I know personally how much money THAT can save. You can usually request the books and videos you want online, and the bookmobile will deliver them to the site you ususally visit. We are blessed to have the bookmobile come to our house...you could try getting a few families to commit to joining you and see if you can host a bookmobile stop, too!

     *In some communitites, the public schools will offer check out privileges to homeschoolers and mothers of preschoolers. You might look into this and see if there is a similar policy where you live. In Florida, they offered check out of textbooks with the Principal's approval.

     *What if your library is not willing to order the sorts of books you would like your own kids to read? Check around town and see if there are any larger churches with libraries who are willing to allow checkouts to homeschooling families. Also, you can see if your local or state homeschool group has any sort of lending library that they maintain. This might be the best place to get those books about homeschooling that you have wanted to read for a long time.

     *Team up with a friend who has kids of a similar age (or older) and who likes the same curriculum you do. Agree to buy half of the needed items each and swap halfway through the year, or start at different times and share. If your friend has older kids, she might agree to lend you last year's materials...as long as you give them back. It is important to be a trustworthy borrower if you want curriculum sharing to work. Your friend might also agree to sell you her older items at a deep discount if her youngest is too old to use them in the future.

     *Another thought is that you might find a friend or acquaintance who is willing to barter books they have that you need for products or services you can provide. Maybe your friend has the entire Sonlight 4 curriculum and her youngest student is in fifth grade. Will she barter that curriculum against piano lessons for a few months to see if her student is really serious?

2. When you must buy, buy used, not new. Just as with cars, your new books depreciate a lot once you take them home from the bookstore. With most books, people are not willing to pay more than 50-70 percent of the original price for them (of course, there are a few luxury models that still command the big bucks!), so why shouldn't you take advantage of that and purchase your own books used?

     *Shop at used curriculum sales and used book sales, such as the one at your library. Does your homeschooling support group host a book sale/swap every year? If not, why don't you start one? Find a free or inexpensive location, make renting a table cost effective, and get the word out. If you plan it, they will come. Book swaps usually work with a coupon method. You bring what you have and get coupons for the assessed amount and use those towards "purchasing" stuff you need. Your state convention may have a curriculum sale as part of their meeting once a year. Sell what you have there and use what you make to get what you need for next year.

     *Find a used homeschool bookstore withing driving distance, make a list of what you couldn't get for free, by swapping, or borrowing, and plan a day trip. Even if the store is a few hours away, if you wind up your purchases for the year (and maybe plan a bit of sightseeing...field trip!) it will be worth the gas it cost to get there. This is the place to go if you just can't make a decision about what curricula you DO want to spend your money on. Leave the kids with a sitter (barter your time) and browse to your heart's content. Just make sure you stick to your budget and plan because it is easy to see SO MANY things that are just such good bargains it almost seems a shame to pass them up. Believe me, I know. If you really have it together, you might even be able to take some of your old, unwanted books to sell and get store credits to use on "new" stuff.

     *Quick tip: Just make sure that when you purchase that great math, science, or history book for a bargain price that the answer key is available, too. Otherwise, you will have a really looooong year (and get very good at one or all of those subjects!)

     *Thrift stores and flea markets often have a book section (and an audio visual section). I have found some wonderful resources for very little money (and clothes, too) at my local Goodwill and DAV stores. Yardsales in the summer can also be a place you can find books you can use to build up your home library. A thrift store or used furniture store is a good place to start the hunt for a child's desk or shelving unit for your classroom. (I recently got a very heavy and sturdy tall metal filing cabinet for just ten dollars). Think USED, not full price (no matter how many times Haynes Furniture Store has the BEST SALE EVER with no financing until 2025....used is still cheaper!!)

     *The only places I really buy new are Walmart during their pre-school-year-really-cheap-boxes-of-24-crayons event (okay, that's not what they call it, but that's why I go) and the Dollar Tree (though I have heard places like Staples and others have great deals sometimes, too). Certain products (such as mechanical pencils...Papermate can't be beat and crayons...go Crayola) can't be compromised on, but who cares who made your ruler or notebook or folder or erasers?

     *Check out Freecycle.com, Craigslist.com, and Vegsource.com These are listing services for products people want to give away or sell. Do you need a child's desk for your son's room? Try freecycle in your local area. You might get more than you imagined you could ever affort for FREE!! (I once got a dozen NICE puzzles for my grandpa with Altzheimers, and a nearly new jogging stroller...I gave away a birdcage and an old cast iron kitchen sink...a friend of mine got a flute). Need a microscope for Biology 101? Try craigslist, a local classified service and find a treasure nearby. Need MOH volume 1? Try vegsource (or even Amazon) and find a copy for just $3 plus shipping!

     * When I lived in Florida, our county had a Used Book Repository for the school system. If you were a registered homeschooler, you were allowed to go in and pick out as many books as you wanted for FREE! (even sets of old encyclopedias, complete series' of textbooks with tests and teacher's manuals) They also had old student desks, equipment (I got an overhead projector for five dollars), and other furniture for low cost. You might consider calling your area and finding out if there is such a building in your school division.

     *Discards: Also, my mom taught for 32 years and at the end of each year, the librarian and teachers who were changing grades or leaving would put loads of stuff they did not want on a table in the hall. If it wasn't picked up by the last day, it got thrown out. Get friendly with the school counselor or a teacher and let them know you are interested in discards. You never know what you might get (I got a huge room-sized rug, a filing shelving unit, several great games, a bunch of NICE play food and costumes, and a set of readers this year.)

     *One more bargain place to shop that I really like is a Children's Consignment Store. I am blessed to have an AWESOME one at the end of my rural road (how convenient is that?) and they have a great educational materials section. I check there a few times a year and get a few new fun things for the kids on the cheap. They also have a $.50 rack and I can buy oversized shirts inexpensively to use as smocks for art time, or to cut up for projects, not to mention they make wonderful and cheap play clothes!
3. Take advantage of community free and nearly free activities.

     *Buy a planner calendar and start writing in all the wonderful free events your community sponsors and you may realize that you don't have time for it all, let alone for activities that cost a bundle. In our community, we have an annual Daffodil Festival, a chalk drawing competition, a quilting expo, a crafting fair, a renaissance faire, several reenacting events (one revolutionary, one civil war), car shows, garden week, fishing competitions, a county fair with the usual contests, a Greek festival, and much more. Within an hours drive are a strawberry festival, a waterman's festival, a pirate festival, a harborfest, an oyster festival, art shows, music in the park, movies outdoors on a big screen, craft shows, a children's fair, a peanut festival, and much, much more (especially in the summer and around holidays).

     *There are also activities offered at the public library such as the summer reading club (with free books), a chess club, the Master Gardeners (who are always willing to share their knowlege), a book club, a knitting club, a quilting club, a speaking club, a classic car club, a remote control plane club, and more...all free (well, if you pursue becoming a master gardener yourself, there is a fee for classes).

     *Your local Parks and Recreation service likely offers classes with topics ranging from flower arranging to genaeolgy. Not every class they offer will be free, but the prices for these classes will be lower than what you would pay to a normal instructor. Let your kids look through their flyer at the beginning of the school year and pick something special and new they want to learn, or perhaps to find a class on a skill they want to perfect, such as photography. Give them opportunities to "earn" the fee by doing jobs around the house. This frees up your time, potentially saves you money, and they will appreciate the class all that much more having earned it.

     *Boy Scouts is still a pretty good bargain and offers many good activities. You can become active in the group, if you feel you need to monitor content. The Boy Scout manuals are an excellent inexpensive source for unit studies on a myriad of topics, even if you decide not to join a group. You can find these at scouting stores and online.

     *If Boy Scouts is too expensive for you, try a Christian program, Keepers of the Faith. For the price of just the book, you can start a club at your church. They have a boys' club called Contenders of the Faith and a girls' club called Keepers at Home. Both clubs have books with units and projects in them, much the same as the Boy Scouts do, only with a Christian undertone (or really, an overtone), and with respect to the differing roles of men and women.

     *4-H is a very inexpensive way to learn new country-oriented, speaking, and leadership skills. Often there will be a homeschoolers 4-H club in an area. Our old 4-H club in Florida also used to let homeschoolers go through the room where they kept their unit studies and take what they wanted for free (once you paid the very low yearly fee to join). I think all of the unit studies are archived online and you can print them up for free.

     *And of course, most churches have children's and youth programs such as Awana, that are still fairly inexpensive. Some will even have scholarships for folks with financial challenges. Some offer daycare for younger siblings so mom can help, or happen during regular Wednesday church meetings when adult classes are being held, so mom gets a break and a chance to learn, too. 

4. Barter and swap:

     *There may be skill sets you want your children to acquire that you just don't have. This is when you need to try the old fashioned method of bartering. You may think you don't have anything anybody wants, but I'll bet you do. Let's say you really want to teach your daughter to can fruit, but you don't know how. Find a friend who knows how, provide the cans and the fruit (even cheaper if you have a fruit tree/bush or go to a "you pick" place), and she will provide the needed equipment and knowlege. You split what is made and you both come out ahead! Or maybe you have a horse you hardly have time to ride, and a friend who plays the piano with a daughter who loves horses. Can you swap riding lessons for piano lessons? It's a win/win situation!

      *Remember, the swaps don't have to be 100 percent monetarily equitable, they just have to meet a need or want that exists. Be creative. Put up notices at church and in your support group newsletters. Pray about it and God will provide.

5. Use the internet. Thanks to many wonderful individuals who wish to share the lessons they have compiled, you can find LOADS of free and inexpensive downloads and learning games on the internet. Homeschoolshare, Lapbooklessons, CurrClick, and Homeschool Freebie of the Day are a few of my favorites. You can find even more choices, including complete textbooks and year-long programs by visiting my site, homeschool-for-free.

     *A site with a small fee ($20 per year), but worth the investment, especially if you have pre-schoolers, is Enchanted Learning.

     *Really, there is a lot on the internet FOR FREE...You can find entire classes on You Tube from colleges all over the US. There are entire books on the Guttenburg Project site, both in print and audio form in many languages. As long as the teaching parent puts in the time to preview the sites/links for appropriateness, this is a resource to not miss. Check out my site homeschool-for-free to find pre-screened links you can use TODAY!

     *Did you know: You can also organize your student's internet links and sites online just by making a free blog on a site like blogger. You can post favorite links to useful content and educational games, notes and instructions to your child, pictures of projects, copies of written work, and you can make it a private blog that is password protected if you like. If your student is old enough, ask them to help you figure it all out and make it a family project...it will be a learning experience for all of you.

6. Use your television and car/home stereo judiciously. They are wonderful tools, but not without pitfalls (overuse, un-Christian content, etc.).

     *Check out videos/dvds and audiocassetes/cds from your local library on whatever topic you are studying. Use the video time to break up a monotonous week or time in the car to listen to a book you might not have time to read aloud at home.

     *There are numerous internet sites that allow you to download MP3 files of books you want your family to listen to, or you can listen to them online. Try these to start: Books Should Be Free and My Audio School. Check out my website, homeschool-for-free, for more choices.

     *Contact your favorite cable stations online to receive an advance schedule of programs. Then you can circle the ones that suit your studies, add them to your calendar, and be sure not to miss them. Channels such as HIST, TLC, DISC, LRN, and PBS will often have very informative shows (documentaries about the Pyramids or Robert E. Lee, Bill Nye the Science Guy, etc.)...just be aware of what point of view the topic is being approached from.

*Find AFR (American Family Radio), a Christian station with lots of news, on your dial to listen to as you travel. Current events, anyone? You can also listen online.

     *Try out Netflix. For $8.99 you can instantly download/view thousands of programs and check out one dvd at a time. There are no time limits or late fees. I have seen some excellent IMAX shows on there, and some great older movies my kids really liked. Recently, every episode of the animated program Liberty's Kids became instantly downloadable, and my kids have been watching the episodes when it is too hot to go outside and play and I need some time to get things done.

7. Co-ops: When you are uncertain how to teach a particular subject, instead of buying three different "how-to" books, hiring a tutor, and going crazy, why don't you consider starting or joining a co-op? A co-op can be as small as two families and as large as two hundered people. The idea is that you will take the resources you have (such as my collection of lessons on how to write creatively, or how to do a nature study) and someone else will take their knowledge (carpentry or algebra) and we take turns teaching our kids and each others as often as one day a week and as little as one day a month. I don't have to buy materials because either I or the other teachers already have them. Wonderful! It saves me planning time, as well as money, and a lot of stress (as long as it doesn't get too crazy, that is.) Usually the fees are reasonable. You will just need to call around. You can google your area to find local co-ops.

8. Virtual Schools: I am not a fan of virtual schools myself because of the govenrmental involvement in my homeschooling experience, but for some it can be a real money and life saver. When I lived in Florida, they had a virtual school that met at the Zoo one day a week and the kids were taught hands-on about animals, did creative writing, and had an art class. It was great for that time of our life. Some virtual schools will offer assistance with choosing curriculum, provide money for curriculum, or possibly even a provide a computer. Check out what your state has to offer.

 9. Dual Enrollment is offered in most places as an option for older students who prove through testing that they are capable of completing college-level coursework. The students are then allowed to enroll for FREE in certain college courses while they complete their Junior and Senior years of high school, and the work counts toward college AND high school credit, so in the end you save on tuition and finish an associates or undergrad degree much more quickly than the average student.

10. CLEP testing: for even more savings, have your high schooler's study subjects using a CLEP test study book as a guideline. The tests cost around $80 to take and if your student passes the test, they can receive full credit (3 credit hours) for a college level course...that means a savings when it is time for college. Subjects range from Western Civilization to Sociology to Art to French I.

11. Field Trips: What a great way to learn...actually doing something and going somewhere something important happened or is happening!
     *Field trips do not have to be expensive. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for a list of interesting local attractions. When you drive to the next town, stop by theirs, as well. Make a list and start visiting your local area hot spots. Maybe even make a book out of it...history, writing, word processing, art all wrapped up in one!

     *Have you ever considered geocaching or letterboxing? Geocaching.com is a site that will get you started, listing over a million geocaches worldwide. For geocaching you get the GPS coordinates of your target site, travel there, then locate the cache, often taking a trinket and leaving one behind. In letterboxing, the rules are similar, but instead of GPS coordinates, you have to use a compass and follow written instructions, found on a site like Letterboxing.org. Learning combined with a treasure hunt. I call that fun!!

12. Use the Unit Study or a Delight-Directed method of teaching your children. Both of these rely much more on educating using materials you can find at the average library, through folks you know or field trips, and homemade projects such as lapbooks or reports than other methods of teaching. The Charlotte Mason method is also compatible with saving money as a lot of the daily work is centered around simple dictation, narration, nature studies (right outside your door and FREE!) and art/music appreciation. For all of these methods, refer to my site, homeschool-for-free, to find helps (and sometimes complete curriculum choices) for math and other subjects you feel you need to cover more thoroughly.

13. Apprenticeships: For on the job training for your older children, why don't you consider apprenticeships? If you have a student who is very interested in law or in mechanics, find a trusted worker in that area and see if your child can volunteer time (often doing menial jobs) for the opportunity to observe what a person in that field does on a day to day basis. Depending on the field, your student may be given more responsibility over time, and eventually paid for their assistance. Or your student may realize that the chose field is not for him. Either way, you come out ahead and so do they.

14. Volunteerism: Use volunteer opportunities to educate your children, not just about being a servant to others, but about life, choices, and even perhaps a trade. Habitat for Humanity allows older children to help. Most clothes closets and food pantries will accept help organizing, collecting, and distributing products. Nearly anyone can stuff bags with Bibles, toiletries, and candy to be sent overseas to soldiers. Older students can read aloud to the elderly or to young students. All of this valuable education is free, and priceless.

15. Family Business: Do you or your spouse work from home? Get the kids involved. Whether it is by babysitting youngers so you can work uninterrupted, packaging product, basic bookkeeping skills, or computer website maintenance, helping with the family business under your tutelage is free and of great benefit to all.

   *On a similar vein, help your entrepeneurial teen start his or her own business at an approriate age. From babysitting to music lessons to housecleaning to yard work, teens can learn more about accounting, time management, and management of resources by actually DOING a business than from any textbook.

16. Instead of using a Home Economics, Shop, or PE book, use REAL activities to fulfill those credit requirements. Assign chores, share your knowlege on how to cook and clean, build birdhouses, and ride bikes or go on hikes together. This is so much more valuable (and cheaper) than buying textbooks or paying for classes. You can't beat a REAL education. In college, you could always tell which professors had actually gone out there and done what they taught from those who went straight from being a student to being a teacher. Experience can't be beat.

17. Sports: Not everyone feels the need to participate in organized sports or physical activities, but some families do. Here are a few ideas to help lower the costs in this potentially pricey area:

     *If highly organized team sports is not a necessity, but you do want your child to have the chance to play a game of softball or kickball from time to time, try one of these ideas: 1. Get a group of students to come early to your support group or student goverment meetings (or whatever) and play a game then. 2. Organize some PE time as part of your homeschool co-op 3. Organize a separate PE day once a month. 4. Get the kids at church youth group to play ball before the lesson. 5. Have families over to your home once a month for sports, fellowship, and potluck. 6. Meet a few other families with many kids at a local park or Rec Center for a "pick up" game of basketball (this could be a good evangelism opportunity for older students, as well) 7. Let the kids from your neighborhood play kickball in your backyard. You could become THE place to be after school (another evangelism opportunity).

     *See if there is a homeschool sports league in your area for your older students who want to participate in football, basketball, baseball, etc. Often they will have fundraisers to help deflect the burden of costs to families who participate.

     *Many larger churches offer Upward sports for the child who wants to play ball (basketball, soccer, baseball, flag football), but without all the competition (the focus is on good sportsmanship, developing new skills, and evangelism). There is a fee for Upward sports, but it is reasonable (and the time committment is less than with most city leagues).

     *Don't forget your local Parks and Recreation department for a whole slew of classes from yoga to swimming. Usually, the prices for these courses is much better than the prices at private schools, and if you were to be selective, this can be the place you will find you want to spend your money.

18. Music: I would love it if I could afford to send each of my kids for Suzuki violin lessons from the time they are four years old, but I can't. Many of us can't. When money is an issue, you really have to think whether those violin lessons outweigh the comfort of remaining debt free, or of having extra for a family trip once a year, or for mom to get help in the house once a week. That doesn't mean that music is not important. It just means that we have to find alternative ways to acquire the knowelge and also that we trust in God to provide when there is a REAL talent that needs to be developed. I don't know for sure, but I doubt David's dad paid for him to have harp lessons as a kid. He probably gleaned knowlege from watching others play, or from hours sitting with his flocks just picking out tunes. I am sure there was someone there to help when the time was right, because the Lord does provide when He has something He wants you to do.

Here are a few ideas on how to save for music lessons:

     *When children are younger, they can get a lot out of just playing with instruments they help make or that you buy from yard sales. They can have parades, learn to play rhythms, and they can sing. Don't feel you need to get too heavy into music when kids are younger. Listening to music, and perhaps focusing on a particular composer for a week or a month is a wonderful way to introduce your children to the wonders of patterns of notes joined upon a page...all for the price of one cd with a collection of "Classical Masterpieces" on it.

     *If you want even more content to share with your students, try websites like those found on my homeschool-for-free site that introduce children to classical music through games and samples of classical tunes. You Tube is another place you can look for free information and samples. Set up a free account and you can easily make numerous playlists for every facet of your homeschooling (some of mine are "Worship Songs," "Preschool Lessons," "ASL," "Classical Favorites," and "Science Experiments.")
     *As children age and they seem to be developing an interest in a specific instrument, look to acquire that instrument from freecycle, a friend, a pawn shop, or craigslist/other classified source. Buying new isn't always necessary, or even advisable, until you are sure there is a definite talent and interest.

     *Now is the time to try the barter method, and trade somthing you can do (teach creative writing? give sewing lessons?) for lessons. You can also inquire at church if there is anyone at church or in your homeschooling group who is willing to teach a group lesson once a week (someone does this with guitar at our church). Some homeschool leagues sponsor homeschooling orchestras that often include lessons and extra practice sessions for very serious students.

19. Art: You can buy expensive art programs, but there is so much for free on the internet these days that unless there is a specific need you cannot get met in some other way, I would avoid purchasing large amounts of materials concerning art. There are numerous sites that showcase art projects for the very young, and others that walk you through the complexities of drawing faces. With young students especially, I think it is most important that they grow to enjoy and appreciate art...both doing it and looking at it.

     *Take a virtual field trip of a museum online.
     *Choose an artist of the month and imitate his style. Learn about his history and time period.
     *Keep a nature notebook and work on improving your ability to draw what you see.
     *Print up activities from a site like Enchanted Learning and practice scissor and coloring skills.
     *Study a painting and try to figure out what message the artist wanted to convey.
     *Make a notebook of favorite art pieces by printing pictures from the internet and writing about them.
     *Keep an art journal and draw/write in it daily.
     *Visit an art museum or attend an "art in the park" day.
     *See my art page at homeschool-for-free...we love the Mark Kistler lessons.

20. Ask for passes to local educational attractions and fun educational tools, magazines, and toys for Christmas (or Hanukkah) and birthdays from relatives, especially older ones who will appreciate being able to bestow something lasting on the next generation. A year's family pass to the zoo is so much more memorable than some quickly forgotten plastic toys or mindless video games. A collection of books from a catalog you can't usually shop from will be used for years to come. A telescope that PawPaw can use to show all the kids the moon and the stars with will be a treasure forever in their hearts. A subscription to God's World News or Young Horse and Rider will be enjoyed all year.

Whew. Well, that's it. We are finally done. If you read this far, you deserve a prize!! I hope some of what I mentioned is helpful to you on your journey towards homeschooling more inexpensively.

But wait! Don't go yet. I have one more important thing to say:

*Lastly, I would like to stress to you that if you are creative and if you realize that you don't have to do it ALL to be a successful and excellent homeschooling educator, you CAN definitely homeschool your children for free, or at least, more inexpensively than you think (and it will be so much better than if they were in a public, or even a private school).
I enjoyed spending this time with you. Thanks for stopping by.

Blessings on your journey,


**For tips on how to not blow what budget you do have at a Homeschooling Convention, see my blog  post, The Curriculum Fair .

Menu Plan Monday---August 23-29

We're back from our trip and ready to jump into our school year. I don't know about the weather where you are, but here it is HOT! so I am trying to work in a few cold items, crock pot recipes, and microwavables to avoid using the oven.

Here is my menu plan for dinners for the week:

Monday: Nachos (ie. chips covered in cheesy chili sauce with tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream...this is a favorite and one they have been asking for). The kids can have pudding for dessert as a treat.

Tuesday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, and side salad (using Ragu Robusto Parmesean and Romano, yum!)

Wednesday: Beef Pull-apart Sandwiches made in the crockpot (simmer beef roast in french onion soup all day served on hearty sub buns) with au jus and chips and carrot/celery sticks on the side.

Thursday: Chicken Lasagna (I am cheating and using a microwavable Stouffer's...they are very good) with italian seasoned corn and a side of peaches.

Friday: Pizza and a movie night! Last week we had pizza night at my brother's house and bought two medium two topping pizzas from Dominos for $5.99 each...I think we will do the same this week. Tex ordered the pizzas online and came up with a pizza with white sauce, ham, and pineapple (ie. Hawaiian pizza) that everyone loved. I think we will get two of those this week.

Saturday: Chicken salad with apples and walnuts served beside asian inspired salad (romaine topped with mandarin oranges, nuts, and orange-sesame-ginger dressing) with a yogurt parfait on the side.

Sunday: We will get dad on the grill with burgers and hot dogs, potato packets, and corn on the cob. We will eat one of our watermelons for dessert!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sermon Sunday---Is This a Christian Nation?

God Bless America.
America, bless God for all He has done for you.

Are you grateful for the freedoms your Creator has endowed you with
and allowed to flourish in this country of ours?
Do you know where those freedoms came from?

While driving home, we saw a large sign on someone's lawn that read:
This corner of America still trusts in God. We really liked that.
One of the blogs I read has a tagline that reads something like this:
 This is God's farm. We just get to live here.
I like that, too.

We attended our church's annual picnic today (which is usually around the Fourth of July, which perhaps explains my patriotic leanings tonight). While there, I spotted that beautiful sunset over the flag and I just had to capture the moment.

Here is a song to go with my theme of God and our nation. It's very powerful. I will warn you that it is not a quiet song at the end (but it's loud in a good way...it might be rated PG for appropriately addressed content). This one, America Again by Carman is convicting. Listen carefully to the lyrics and watch the video HERE.

Today's Sermon Sunday is from D. James Kennedy, a pastor I highly respected and enjoyed listening to for many years. He is with the Lord now, but his wise words live on. Amazingly, I came up with this topic completely separately from any search for sermons this week...yet, the sermon posted on his Coral Ridge website for today is exactly what I want to address! The talk is called: Is This a Christian Nation? It is not very long, but it is an important reminder that we need to remember where we came from and how we got to where we are today.

I have heard it said that a nation that will not remember history is doomed to repeat it. I don't think the doomed part was referring to good things...do you? What I see happening now in our country and culture is not particularly good, overall. Let's do something about it...together.

After getting fired up with Dr. Kennedy, move on over to the The Christian Worldview website for a radio interview with David Barton of Wallbuilders, who talks about the importance of remembering that we live in a Christian nation...no matter what the liberal politicians today want us to think (listen to both parts for the full story).

Here is a scripture to meditate on today: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2.

Here are a few thoughts from our Founding Fathers

Here is an interesting paper on America's religious heritage as shown by the first Presidential inauguration (both of the previous two resources were found on Wallbuilders.com).

Lastly, if you have never attended a Worldview Weekend, you should check HERE for one in your area. It is a life changing experience. HERE is a listing of some of their speakers. The lineup is incredible.

If you cannot find one near you, you can take the course online very inexpensively HERE. This is a great idea for homeschoolers. I think our oldest homeschooler will be completing this course this year with me.

If you want to find out whether you need more worldview training, take this FREE TEST (you do have to register). If your Worldview Score is excellent, Wallbuilders will send you a framable quality certificate for FREE! Take the challenge...

You can also request a free Worldview Magazine HERE.

A closing song for you to ponder: Heal Our Land by Michael Card.

I pray that your Sunday is an inspiring and blessed one,


Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome, Sweet Nephew!

Welcome to our new nephew!
Born August 3, 2010
7 lbs. 13 oz
21 inches long

We missed his birth since we were on our trip, but we were blessed to
meet him for the first time tonight. We had the first of what I hope
are many shared pizza nights at my brother's new house.
What fun! What noise...What a cutie! We love him already.

Clockwise from the top: Proud parents, daddy, auntie, and mommy with big brother.

I think he looks just like his older brother at that age, only his hair isn't quite as orange. Yes, I said orange. I know it is traditional to say "red" when referring to hair, but my nephew's hair is definitely orange. Like a pumpkin. He is as cute as a button, and nice, too. His brother will have blonder hair so there will be some room for individuality. However, I am sure he will be nice, just like his big brother. My kids are so blessed that they will have cousins to play and grow up with. Isn't living near family great?

I came up with names for their two boys today...they like to call their oldest boy, N--bear, so I think his name will be Brother Bear. Which means that his little brother can be Little Bear (one of the sweetest animated series' ever!). I hope you guys like those names. Now you will have to give me ideas on what to call you. All this "undercover" stuff is so confusing...LOL.

Counterclockwise from top right: Ladybug, Cowboy, Firefly, and Boo meet their cousin for the first time.

A goodnight kiss from Daddy...
Now go and kiss YOUR loved ones and let them
know how much you cherish them.
The years fly by too quickly.

Counting my blessings with a grateful heart,


An Exciting Character Freebie

Roaming around the boards of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I came across a discussion of character building curriculum choices, and one kind Crewmember offered up this gem she had discovered.

Here is a completely FREE over 900 page long supplemental study for William Bennett's Book of Virtues. I LOVE the stories in this book. We have the tapes and have listened to them (and the subsequent two tape sets) on and off in our car while traveling.

We are focusing on character this year and I am SO happy to have this FREE unit study to use so I don't have to do everything myself. Yay! Can I say "Yay" again?! Yay!!

MANY thanks go to T8ermomma of Shiver Academy, the author of this study, for her hard work and for all the time she put into preparing this study.

Here are a few additional resources you might add to a study of the character traits:

Operational Definitions of Character Qualities Chart printable

Praying Character Traits for Your Child printable

Homeschool Helper Online's Character Studies

Hubbard's Cupboard Character Study for preschoolers (38 weeks worth of stuff!)

These sites and more can be found on my website, homeschool-for-free.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Need Motivation in Your Homeschool? Try Expo to Go!

I am an educational conference junkie. I could listen to lectures on homeschooling and Christian topics every day and not get tired of it. At least, I think I wouldn't get tired of it. I have never had the leisure to discover if this is, in fact, true. But I have listened to A LOT of seminars. For example, I attended the last three years of my state's homeschool convention and have gotten the CDs for two of them.

I know I have listened to most of the lectures on the 2008 set (which was a free gift for my deployed hubby, thanks to the state homeschool group), and to about half on the 2009 set (which I had to buy since I missed most of the lectures I wanted to hear due to my oldest son's graduation).

I also have sets from Dr. Wile, David Barton and other Worldview Weekend speakers, Diana Waring, Cindy Rushton, Shelly Hendry, Doug Wilson, Susan Wise Bauer, Gregg Harris (my favorite), SM Davis (over 150 sermons on one MP3 dvd...awesome!!), and others too numerous to mention. That is why, when the Old Schoolhouse Magazine Expo and Expo to Go offer came through my mailbox, I got very excited.

Just what I needed to refocus my energies on homeschooling after a long summer break. ;-)

Here is the information you will need to find out more about the online Schoolhouse Expo and the Expo-to-Go. Sign up and join me and my oldest homeschooler (he will be participating in the special Teen Track lectures) on an inspiring and refreshing adventure in October!

It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool speakers, fellowship, and fun door prizes. Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your LIVE event ticket.

You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.

Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer.

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. We've also planned a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing. Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

And as if that isn't enough to make you want to sign up right now, if you do, you can save $5 per ticket! Register by midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in FREE E-Books.

If you cannot make the LIVE event, then the October Expo-To-Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!


Click HERE to check out the FREE GIFTS (if you order before midnight on August 22nd) and the SPEAKER LINEUP (click through the pictures for lecture topics).


Click HERE to visit the Expo's "Virtual Vendor Hall" if you want the "complete" Homeschooling Conference experience...lol!

Sign up SOON so you don't miss a thing!! I hope to "see" you there!



*I am receiving complimentary Expo-to-Go tickets in exchange for my post. All opinions expressed on this blog are mine, however, and I sincerely do believe that homeschooling seminars and conferences are a great way to motivate and inspire both teachers and learners. I highly recommend that you participate in this online seminar series (or one like it) in any way you can. You will be glad you did.
**If you sign up, or have attended online conferences before, please leave me a comment and tell me about your experiences. You never know, I might want to buy the recordings...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sermon Sunday---Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming Culture

Taken at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky

We were blessed to visit the Creation Museum yesterday. The museum's grounds were absolutely gorgeous. The above flower was just one example of the lovely composition within the gardens, which were filled with colors, textures, am sounds, and fragrances so infinite in variety that I do not see how anyone could believe that this all came together by mere chance. Walking through the beautiful and peaceful gardens I was reminded of the song Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. That is the song I want to share with you before moving along to today's sermon.

Since we visited the Creation Museum yesterday, I thought a sermon/lecture by Ken Ham would be appropriate. I have heard many of his lectures and I have loved them all. I think this topic, the importance of Genesis, is one that is high on my list of "must hears." I first heard Ken Ham speak at a Wordlview Weekend conference some years ago, and it was a real eye opener.

I believed in a young earth and a literal six-day creation at that point (thanks to Kent Hovind's fascinating series of creation science videos), but I had never really considered the fact that if a person doubts the validity of what God's Word says about the creation week, then there is room for them to doubt other things...such as the crucifiction, the resurrection, and our need for forgiveness. I was more in the mode of thinking that one's view on how creation took place was not important to salvation and something I didn't want to argue with others about.

But the truth of the matter is, that really, either you accept the whole package deal of what the Bible says in all of its parts, including the Genesis creation account, or you are adapting the truth to suit your own humanistic worldview...when you should really be using the truth of the Bible to find your answers.

Take some time this week and listen to this sermon from Ken Ham on Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming the Culture. This is one that the whole family would benefit from hearing. It will fire you up to get back at your studies and to include some good, solid Biblical Worldview teaching this year.


Blessings to you and yours for a pleasant and praising Sunday...


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