Our Groceries, Our Menu, Our First Week of School…and Our Mannequins?

Well, here we are at the beginning of our first week of school for 2015-2016. I’ve made a few meals and convenience foods ahead of time. I’ve ordered and purchased a lot of groceries. I’ve organized our books and classes for the year. I’ve made a 30-Day Real Food Menu to help make meal time easier. I’ve moved the mannequins out of my office. Hold on. Did I forget to tell you about Sheila and Robert?

Creepy Alert…


Why, oh why?

Asa was working on a new video project for a friend last week, and they needed mannequins. What does a person do when he needs mannequins? Well, his mom puts a request out on Facebook, and hopes a friend has some to lend. I truly almost wet myself watching our friend haul two necked mannequins across the street to our porch. I would love to know what the neighbors were thinking.

Ever dressed a mannequin? It’s harder than one would think. Sheila lost two fingers in the process, for which we are truly sorry. I gave up on pants and simply wrapped her legs in a blanket. Then we stored her (as well as a little boy mannequin – see him back there?) on the bed in my office. I jumped every time I walked in – because obviously – and I felt as though Sheila was watching my every move while I tried to work. It is very hard to write sentences while being watched by someone who doesn’t blink. So we moved them to our other guest room. In the process, her legs came off. As did her arms. And her blanket. Then Asa and his friend ended up not needing them for the video after all.
mannequins 4

See sometimes you just don’t want to know all the goings on in other people’s homes. Please still love us.

Want to talk about food now? Yes, let’s move on to the more normal (and I use that term lightly) life of the Coppinger household, shall we? Truly, looking at my bottle of vinegar will be a blessed relief after the previous pictures.

Saturday I picked up an enormous Bountiful Basket order. Along with lots of fruits and veggies we got tortillas, bread, and pizza crusts for the freezer. Ah yes, and a bottle of vinegar. As I was saying earlier, life is so normal, simple, and boring around here.

bountiful basket 815

My August Subscribe and Save order is beginning to trickle in. I should have the rest by Monday, but so far we’ve received Organic Cacao Powdera case of Kashi cereal, and a case of Rapunzel sucanat.

amazon 815

Our garden tomatoes are producing well! Soon it will be time to make a batch of tomato sauce.

garden tomatoes 2

And guess what? Our green bean plants are reviving themselves and we already got to pick a few beans. Take that, bunnies! (Yes, we’re still keeping the cat.)

garden beans

I ordered 50 pounds of potatoes and 50 pounds of wheat (not pictured) from Azure Standard. Soooo, we are all set on food for a while!


Along with school, some of our boys’ soccer practices also begin this week. I took the 30-Day Real Food Menu list and my Menu Planning Notebook, and I jotted down meals from the list I have food on hand to make. This is so much better than having all the info and thoughts floating around in my head. Yay for a list on my fridge (and for the iced coffee I drank while making it)!

meal planning before school

Here are some of the links to the food I jotted down:

Last but not least, here are some boring pictures of a few of the books our three younger boys will be using this year. (Justus – 10th grade, Elias – 8th grade, Malachi – 5th grade)

school books 2015

This isn’t all of them, but these are some of the piles I was working through for a few hours over the weekend. I got the boys’ assignment lists printed, so we’ll begin bright and early (yeah right) Monday morning.

school books 20152


Hopefully, the mannequins will not be terribly distracting while the boys work on their math and Spanish on Matt’s office computer. We’re running out of options for places to move them. Our porch, perhaps? That could be fun.

Here’s to a great first week of school! How about you? What are you up to this week? Care to share anything about your normal (or not so normal) goings on? Have any mannequin creepers?

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An Open Letter From My 42 Year-Old Self To My 28 Year Old Self Who Is About to Begin Homeschooling

Dear Much Younger Me,

How I wish we could sit for a while with a cup of coffee and chat about this homeschooling journey you are about to begin! That won’t work though because you are me – 14 years ago – and for some strange reason, you don’t like coffee yet. I do not understand this.

If it was possible, I would love to tell you a few things. First this:

You really, really need to chill out. I mean, your uber thorough lesson plans are adorable, but take a look at that baby’s face and realize that hello?! He’s five. I know he seems old to you because the others are so much smaller. But he’s not big – he’s little. He does not need to sit still for that long and workbooks for boys are almost always a disaster. I know you’ll figure this out by boy number 2, so God bless the oldest child. But really. Long school days with all the subjects and all the books and all the projects – they are too much. Your stress isn’t blessing your children. Keep plugging along for the next 13 years of his schooling, and I guarantee that while there will be holes in his education because there always are for every single kid in the entire whole wide everywhere, he is going to be prepared for adulthood. History is history, so if he doesn’t catch it now, he will catch it eventually because you teach it over and over, year after year. The same goes for science – and pretty much everything else you teach from K to 12. He’ll get it. In the meantime, if you could just reeeeeeeelaaaaaaaaaaax.

Now this one is important, so listen up real hard: The “ideal” almost never happens. In fact, what you can pretty much count on is that at the very moment you have gathered your chicks around you on the floor to learn something fabulous about the Bible or about the weather or about the water cycle…someone will have to poop. Please stop being angry about this and trying to figure out what you are doing wrong with your schedule. Poop happens and toddlers melt down and phones ring and UPS men knock on the door (usually all at the same time but it is okay because when you are weak, then you are strong).

It’s mostly best to stop listening to what everyone else is doing. Every once in a while, what you hear or see inspires you. But most of the time, it stabs you with guilt over everything you’re not doing. (Don’t even get me started about the Pinterest of the future.) The boys don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. They need to do what you – their mama – decides they need to do. Seek God’s direction and listen only to His voice.

You will love every single moment of homeschooling…except for all the moments that you don’t. You’ll feel bad for not loving all of it. I sure wish you wouldn’t. I wish you could see that all the stuff you consider to be a failure each day is really a big part of your kids’ success. This is what real life is made of. So when the day doesn’t go perfectly, recognize that you are teaching your kids to be normal adults who face and handle normal life situations. This…is success.

Most of what you think is important now really isn’t. Godly discipleship and training matters 10,000 times more than memorizing dates on a timeline. Of course you will often think you are failing at the boys’ spiritual training even more than their schooling, but remember God’s bigness. As long as you are in communion with your Savior and seeking his guidance, forgiveness, and recognizing His grace – oh dear one. That’s all you need to be doing. The kids will learn to seek Him too. Keep bringing Him into the conversation often – in the car, when talking about situations with friends, when shopping, when teaching, when cooking, when cleaning – all of it. Make God a part of every part.

You know how you’ve watched other families serve with their kids? Do that. The school work will get done because you are diligent and you understand the importance of self-discipline in learning and education. But truly, let service to others trump the rest of the to-do list. Keep teaching the boys to love God and love others.

They are going to grow up and become young men with weaknesses. Do not despair at this. Understand the power of God at work in their lives. Through their weaknesses, God will be at work in ways you can’t even imagine right now since they are so little. When they are teenagers you will watch in amazement at how God is growing them to become leaders for Him. You’ll see more than ever that God loves these boys and that your job is to trust Him. Like, really trust Him. Stop thinking that you must be perfect, or else. They are His – and His ways are perfect.

14 years from today, you will move your oldest into his dorm room with joy and tears. You will hug him and tell him you love him, and he has grown so tall that he has to practically stoop to his knees to hug you back. You will be amazed. You will watch in wonder at all God has done to grow your family. You will love this. Just you wait.

In the meantime, breathe in the faces of those babies, Mama. Take a lot of pictures. They are precious. While you can’t fathom it, your love for these boys will grow even more fierce. Yes, it is actually possible.

Enjoy your homeschooling journey, Mama. These days are rich and exhausting, delightful and baffling, overwhelming and glorious. Breathe deeply and keep God first. You are going to survive this beautifully, because God equips and prepares His children. Trust Him.

Freely enjoy peace in Jesus.

Your 42 Year-Old Self

P.S. Maybe I shouldn’t spoil the surprise, but your future grocery bill is going to blow your mind. Enjoy the fact that they can all now share one apple for a snack and be full. This will make you laugh out loud in a few years (we call that lol, but I don’t have time to go into all of that).

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Some Of Our Favorite Books

This post was originally posted in October, 2013. Our kids are older now but this list of books is still our favorite!

Books, books, the magical fruit. The more you read, the more you…

Oh wait. Wrong poem.  Sometimes I get confused. Although I’m sure if I threw that poem starter out to my boys, they’d be sure to finish it with something creative. And by creative, I mean gross.

I am excited to share that all four of our boys are now all independent readers. It was a little slow in coming for our youngest, who is now a 3rd grader. But late this summer, it all clicked for him. He now loves reading! Last week he said, “I can’t believe math used to be my favorite. Now reading is so much fun!”  Awesome – just what I love to hear. (Although you still have to do your math, Buddy.)


Here are some of the books currently at the top of our reading list for the year:

Boxcar Children Books
These books were some of my favorites when I was little. (You know I had my very own boxcar, right? Okay, it wasn’t my very own.  I shared it with my cousins.)  All of our boys have loved the Boxcar Children books, and now I am reading them to Malachi (age 8). Elias (age 11) has already read most of these books, but sits in to listen when he can, because who can resist?


Ralph Moody Books

We read through most of the books in this series (as a family) a year ago, and now I’m having my two older boys read the last few on their own. What I love most about these books is that they show how important it is to be a hard worker, how much fun it can be to work together as a family, and how if you put your mind to it – you can always find a way to provide. I am so inspired by these books, and my boys love the adventure aspect they include.

Books by Clyde Robert Bulla

These are the first chapter books our boys have read. We have about eight of them on Malachi’s shelf this year – and he’s made his way through two of them already. I love that Clyde Robert Bulla keeps his vocabulary simple and easy to read – all while teaching history and making his books fun and intriguing.  When I pulled these books out for Malachi, all three of his brothers said, “Oh, he gets to read those this year? Malachi, you will love them.”  I love hearing the boys talk together about books they’ve all read.


Ramona the Pest Series

Malachi pulled his first Ramona book off the shelf this year, too. So far he’s loving it, just like his brothers did. I read this series several times when I was younger. It’s so much fun re-reading these books with my kids.


Christian Heroes Books

I can’t say enough good about all of the Christian Heroes: Then and Now books by Janet and Geoff Benge. We’ve actually decided to use about 15 of these books this year to go along with our History/Geography studies with Justus, Elias, and Malachi. What better way to study the culture and history of a country than to learn about missionaries who worked there? These books are so well written and inspiring!

I also have to share that as we reach the end of each book, Justus (age 13) likes to point out, “You know Mom, this is the chapter when the missionary dies and you cry.”  Pshaw.  Okay, fine. So I cry at the end of all of these (and the Ralph Moody Books, and just about every other book I read aloud to the boys). I can’t help it.


In addition to these sets of books, our three older boys are all reading lots of books from the Sonlight reading lists for their grade level. Asa (a junior in high school) is reading some Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, The Hiding Place (you MUST read this!), and quite a few others Sonlight recommends.

What books are you and your kids reading these days?  I know I’m not the only mom who cries at the end of a good book. Help me out here – do you get choked up when you’re reading books to your kids?

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You Know You’re a Homeschooler If… (Plus, Final Day for the Build Your Bundle Sale!)

You know you’re a homeschooler if…  (wait for it)

…you educate your kids at home.

That’s it. Beyond that one lone fact, I refuse to share absolutes as if every home-schooler does ABC and every public-schooler does XYZ. You know why? Because none of it is true. You can read more of my thoughts on this in a post I wrote last year called Homeschoolers Always Never.

Now, as promised, I am here to remind you that today is the final day of the Build-Your-Bundle sale (yes, the sale was extended one extra day to bless you all!). Whether you homeschool or not, I believe many parents will benefit from these resources. So, come one, come all!

Interested in the Build Your Bundle sale, but not sure how it works? Simplify it by doing this:

  1. Look through each bundle package. Add to your cart each pre-assembled bundle you would like.
  2. OR, build your own bundle from the amazing list of books. (Grab any 10 you would like!)
  3. THEN (best yet!), if you like, you can take advantage of the “Buy 2-Get 1 Free” offer. This means that if you buy two pre-assembled bundles, you can pick a third one for free. Or if you buy 2 build-your-bundles, you can get a third one for free.

I definitely recommend the Buy-2-Get-1-Free option, for obvious reasons (free books!). I did this, picking up the  Boy Bundle, the 4th-6th Bundle #2, and the Unit Studies Bundle. The best thing about this sale is that you can put together a package to benefit your family! There are bundles from preschool to high school and everything in between. There is no one-size-fits-all.

Click here to Buy Bundles!

Yay for the bonus day, but there will be no more bonus days after this. If you’re interested in this sale, do not wait! This ends at midnight tonight (June 2) and won’t be around again until next year.

Let me know if you have any questions about how this works. And help me out as I continue to organize my week. Which post would you like to see tomorrow?

  • Why I Rarely Make Big Meat and Potato Meals (Plus 9 of My Family’s Favorite Real Food, Real Simple Meals) or…
  • The Correct Way (seriously) to Squeeze a Lime or Lemon or…
  • How to Make Mint Extract

bundle last day

Enjoy the blessing of this bonus sale day!
Check out the bundle options now before you forget and miss out.

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This Weekend…


If you are interested in this year’s Homeschool Build Your Bundle options that I shared earlier this week, I recommend you looking over them during the next day or two if you can. The sale ends early next week and there are a lot of neat packages to choose from. I found it to be a little bit overwhelming at first (fun! but overwhelming) trying to narrow down my decisions.

Waiting until the last day might not give you the time you need to scroll through the delicious choices. (What? Books are totally delicious. Just like baby’s cheeks. And clean sheets right off the clothes line.)

I’ll give you one more reminder about this sale on the final day, but as the weekend begins, I thought I’d give a quick, “Hey! When you have a few extra minutes, you might look through these choices!”

I finally made my purchase yesterday, taking advantage of the Buy-Two-Get-One-Free deal. Now I get to have fun looking through the tons of books I got, organizing them for the fall. I’m excited!

I recommend starting on this page where you can scroll down and see each bundle option. Find what works for you! (I got the Boy Bundle, the 4th-6th Bundle #2, and the Unit Studies Bundle. I might go back and select more because I had a hard time narrowing it to those.) By the way, my Teaching Your Kids to Cook ebook is in the Just For Mom Bundle.

2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale

Have a great weekend! After working all morning, we’ll be heading to a wedding for a sweet couple we’ve watched grow up. (Also delicious.)  :)

The links in this post are affiliate links.

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Why I’m Excited About Homeschooling After a Challenging School Year


This was Malachi a couple years ago during a math lesson. 
You’ll want to read the entire story.

As much as I love schooling our kids at home, I will admit that the past homeschool year was one of the most challenging of all the previous 12 years. Some years are just tough – and this one was a doozy.

God is bigger than all of it, proven by the fact that we not only survived – we graduated our oldest child successfully. He ended his high school career with 24 college credits, persevering through some very difficult online courses with overwhelming expectations. There were many learning curves this year with the ACT, FAFSA, scholarship applications, and weighty decisions to be made. Praise God: we did not die (not even a little bit). There were several times I thought we might. But here we are, kicking and smiling and half passed out on the couch.

It goes without saying, then, that the thought of school coming again in the fall has made me feel a bit woozy. School books? I couldn’t stand the thought. Educating children? Not today, please. Bring on summer break! Yesssssssssssssssss!

While I am praising God for the next several weeks of refreshment and revival – I am also thanking Him for what He just provided. This is actually making me excited about taking on another school year. (After a lovely break, of course.) I wasn’t sure it was possible. But what was I thinking? God always provides the encouragement and resources we need so that we can do what He has called us to do.

I just had a chance to look through all of the packages being offered in the 2015 Biggest Homeschooling Sale of the Year (available this week only). It definitely helps awaken my school book interest simply because all of these are marked down up to 90% off. But it’s not just that. These packages contain so many great items that will bless our 2015-2016 school year.

2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale

My plan is to take advantage of the Buy-Two-Get-One-Free option. That way I’ll be saving even more on the packages I want. I’m finding that I’m very interested in about six of the pre-assembled packages. That means I’ll only have to pay for four of them, and I’ll get two for free. That, along with the already huge discount and the high quality of these educational items is what I find so refreshing and exciting. THIS makes me excited about schooling my kids again in the fall. Thank you, God.

I encourage you to look through the Build Your Bundle offerings to see what works for your family. Even if you don’t homeschool, I believe you’ll find some items or packages that you can use. (I believe we all teach our kids at home, whether we home school or not!)

Here’s how the Build Your Bundle site works:

  1. Look through each bundle package. Add to your cart each pre-assembled bundle you would like.
  2. OR, build your own bundle from the amazing list of books. (Grab any 10 you would like!)
  3. THEN (best yet!), if you like, you can take advantage of the “Buy 2-Get 1 Free” offer. This means that if you buy two pre-assembled bundles, you can pick a third one for free. Or if you buy 2 build-your-bundles, you can get a third one for free.2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale

These are the six packages I’m looking at getting. (Some of these won’t apply to you, so be sure you look through all the offerings to see what is available!)

Love Unit Studies? This Bundle is awesome - 89% off!2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale

Middle School Curriculum at a LOW Price - 85% off!

Character Building Bundle  - HUGE Savings!

Even more fun is that each person who purchases even one of the Build Your Bundle options will receive an entire book of bonuses.

Hundreds of Dollars worth of freebies and deals for every customer who makes a purchase!

You’ll want to click here to see all the details of each bundle offer. Take your time. Have a blast. Equip your family and home with all sorts of learning opportunities at a huge discount!

Praise God with me that He always provides exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. He is faithful.

Are you enjoying summer break? Still, does it just make you a little bit excited for next year when you see all these great resources?!

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Do Homeschoolers Feel Left Out?


I loved this question I recently received from a reader. Since I believe this is a common concern, I decided to share my response with all of you. As our family enters our 13th year of homeschooling, you can bet I’ve learned a thing or twenty. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn, that every kid is different, that family needs vary, and that I really should sweep behind my office door more often. (I just learned that one five minutes ago when I closed my office door. Apparently it usually stays open so I don’t notice the filth behind it. Gross, Laura. Find a broom already.)

Here’s part of the email I received:

I want to homeschool my children. But I do have one concern that I do not know how to shake. What do I do if my child feels left out by not going to school with the other children? My oldest is approaching 5 this year and I have 2 two year olds. I have made the commitment to my self to teach my children at home, but I can see my oldest wanting to be with the other children as they venture off to school together. I do not like the idea of my 5 year old being sent off for the day, away from home to be taught by some one else other than me. Have you ever faced this problem? Any advise to ease my mind and turn his attention more toward home than school?

I remember feeling this way!

These are some of the questions I bad back when my kids were little:  What about first day of school clothes and pictures? What about lunchboxes and field trips? What about the school bus, bulletin boards, and shopping for school supplies? What about sports teams and choir and dramas and band? As all the other kids head off to school, how can I make homeschool feel special and exciting?


There are fun and wonderful opportunities that our public/private school friends enjoy that we do miss out on since we keep our kids at home for school. There’s no way around it. I am always hearing about neat activities and projects our public school friends are doing. I’m happy for them and rejoice with them. There’s no doubt those opportunities are rich, memorable, and really, really cool.


But there are also fun and wonderful opportunities that we, as homeschoolers, are able to enjoy because we are home together much of the day. Our family has been flexible during the daytime to visit fruit orchards, deliver special treats or meals others, sit down and get to know elderly friends from church, help with construction projects, help unload trucks for people who just moved to town, make an impromptu trip to visit our state capital, get together with other homeschoolers for special projects – well, the list goes on and on.


See, it’s not as if one set of opportunities is better than the other – it’s just that they are different. You have to choose what works best for your family, then create and embrace opportunities that bless your family and become blessings to others – no matter where your kids do their school work.

It can seem to your kids – or to you – that you’ll be missing out on all of that fun kids enjoy when they go to school. But I tell you what: If you choose to homeschool, you grab hold of any and all the fun traditions you want to. You hype it up to your kids. You make it a big deal, and pump it up, and I don’t think they will feel left out. In fact, in my experience, other kids have heard about what our boys are doing or have done and they start begging their mom to please homeschool them so they can do all the cool stuff we’re doing. (Which of course, all of our variety of “cool stuff” can be done whether you homeschool or not – those kids just didn’t initially realize that it worked that way.)


Here are our boys posing in their costumes after a play they
performed with our homeschool group several years ago.

Let your kids pick out a fun lunchbox. Use it for picnics, field trips, and other fun outings. Take first day of school pictures wearing special first day of school clothes. You’ll love having pictures like that to look at later! Plan a special first day of school breakfast. Make a list and go shopping for school supplies. We’ve done this for years and love this special outing.


The day the UPS man brings our box of new school books for the year
has been almost more exciting than Christmas. Almost.

Field trips? Sport events? P.E. class? Choirs? Bands? Dramas? Holiday parties? That is all available, trust me. You might have to work hard to make it happen, but there’s nothing you can’t do if you feel it will benefit your child and your homeschool experience.

elias soccer 2014 spring

It’s downright exciting, really. I mean, think of it. Your kids might even be able to hold snakes.


Or not. That was one field trip memory I can’t get over. Most of my boys wouldn’t touch ’em. Justus could have been there all day with his “new friends.”  {shudder}

Whatever you choose, whether homeschool, public school, or private school – I encourage you to do so filled with God’s peace. Listen to His call for you, and without a doubt, He will provide just what you need.

Falcons 20147

 I can’t tell you the blessing our homeschool basketball team has been to our entire family.
 What a need this has met! What a rich experience it is to be a part of this.

Will there be hard days? Frustrating moments? Times of feeling left out? Certainly. I think we all feel those occasionally throughout our entire lives. There’s no such thing as a “be all and end all” – in school or in life. But we grab hold of that which God puts before us today, and we walk with Him.

Living life loving each opportunity? You betcha.

Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers:  Share some of your favorite school year traditions!


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Homeschoolers Always Never

Homeschoolers are brilliant, hard working, and mature. They always do well on standardized tests. They each play at least one musical instrument, beginning at the age of three. They can each speak at least two languages fluently. They always graduate early and become neurosurgeons at the age of 22. They always come from huge families.

Homeschoolers never get enough social interaction. They never have opportunities to participate in group projects or have class parties.  They never eat Doritos.

Homeschoolers Always Never

I always cringe inside and I never feel like conversations like this build anyone up or glorify God. So can we stop with stereotypes and generalities already? Statements about what homeschooled kids always or never do is painful, ignorant, and downright silly. I’m not just talking about what those who “don’t get homeschooling” say. I’ve heard some of these statements from homeschooling families too.

Is it true that public schoolers always get into trouble, do drugs, disrespect their teachers, and slough off during high school? Of course not.  Just like there are all varieties of students in the public school – ranging from scholarly to bully to godly to needy to athletic to healthy to highly intelligent to drama queen – so it is with homeschoolers.

Can I tell you a homeschooling truth? Some students are only “average” (which, for the record, is defined as normal, typical, and common – and therefore nothing to be ashamed of). Some of them struggle to read and write. Some knock the socks off the ACT and other standardized tests, but some do not. Some are musically inclined, while some are completely tone deaf. Some love learning foreign languages and some barely master speaking the English language using complete sentences. (Like, yeah. I know right? Totally.)

Homeschooling does not ensure that kids will grow up to follow the Lord. Public schooling does not turn out robots. Homeschooling does not make kids anti-social. Public schooling does not provide more opportunities. Raising kids, no matter how you choose to do it, takes work, patience, and an immense trust and reliance on God – the One who created all of us uniquely for His glory. I am raising four boys in the same house, feeding them the same food, passing down jeans from one boy to the next, reading them the same books, teaching them the same math, and talking the same talk daily to all of them at the same time. Would you believe that all four of them are all very different in their talents, interests, learning styles, and personalities? I’m fairly certain that none of them have any interest in becoming a French speaking, cello playing, neurosurgeon. Thankfully, I realize that this doesn’t mean I have failed as a homeschool mom. I see their God-given talents shining in other ways.

Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, adults, children, men, and women are individuals with unique talents, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Each one of us is always never anything less than God created us to be. Let us never make a generalized statement that might belittle that truth.

P.S. I thought it may be of interest to note that last night, our family ate a meal with a group of homeschoolers. We all shared a bag of Doritos.


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I Haven’t Been a Perfect Homeschool Mom, and It Stinkin’ Doesn’t Matter

Feelings of failure can so easily come creeping in…

On the day we once again push science lessons to the back burner. As I read a paragraph that my 6th grader has written and see that run on sentences are what make his world go round (and round and round and round). When I think about the upcoming ACT for my high schooler and break out in a sweat because there are bound to be questions on the test we haven’t covered, plus I have never even taught him to fill in circles with a number two pencil. When I hear public school friends talk about all they are doing and realize with regret that some of those great ideas never even crossed my mind. When I see that my son who is old enough to know better has written “take food to our nabers” on our Christmas to-do list. (That would be n-e-i-g-h-b-o-r-s. How has he not learned that yet?)


There are doubts that swirl around in the back of the minds of every homeschool mom at one time or another.  These are the doubts that keep some moms from choosing to homeschool in the first place. 

  • I can’t possibly teach my kids everything they need to know.
  • Even though we’re doing a lot, there are so many things I haven’t gotten around to teaching my kids.
  • I don’t see how all the other moms get through all the material. I’m not keeping up.
  • Other people are doing such neat projects! I’m not doing nearly enough.
  • If only I was more organized…
  • Will my kids really be prepared for college?

There are so many cool things I haven’t done with my kids, so many lessons that haven’t been taught, so many experiences my kids haven’t experienced, so many field trips that haven’t been taken. We have yet to have a school year in which we actually get through every recommended book on the list. And I’m not proud to admit it, but I just now finally got around to teaching our 8th grader what a synonym is.  As you can imagine, his life has changed dramatically {greatly; fiercely}.

Early this fall, I hesitantly enrolled our 11th grader in a college course. Doubts crept in:  Would he be ready? Had I taught him enough to succeed in a college level class? Did he have any idea how to take notes while his professor was speaking? And most important of all, without me there to remind him, would he remember to put periods at the ends of his sentences???

My dear friends, this is what I’ve learned and what all of us – public, private, or home school parents and teachers – need to understand:  Our kids don’t need to know everything. They just need to know how to learn.

Do you hear me? Nobody knows everything. It isn’t possible. We all have different gifts and interests and abilities. We all learn differently. We all retain information differently. As long as we have the tools and know-how we need so that we can figure things out, we are good to go.

Can’t spell? Learn to use a dictionary and spell check. Don’t know how many feet in a mile? Look it up. Don’t know who our 21st president was? Well, you might lose at a game of Trivial Pursuit, but otherwise, if you find yourself in a desperate situation in which you must know this information, I’m pretty sure that a three second online search will tell you that it was none other than Chester A. Arthur, who succeeded James Garfield upon his assassination. (Thank you, Wikipedia. We will all sleep better tonight.)

But back to Asa’s first college class:  Beyond standing up in front of a class full of college students to give about a dozen speeches throughout the semester in his Basic Speech college course, our 11th grader also had to put together thorough outlines for each speech which followed Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. He had to write two papers, following MLA standards. He had to cite sources to show where he got all of his information for his speeches and papers. I had taught him none of this at home prior to his taking the class. So guess what? He studied and researched and asked questions and he learned how to do all of these things.

He nailed this class and is ending the semester with a big fat A. Not because he’s a genius. Not because he’s an above average student. And certainly not because he has had a perfect homeschool educational experience. The kid simply knows how to work hard, how to follow directions, and how to learn.

Asa’s college class experience has been a wonderful enforcement to me that my teaching imperfections and all the holes in our schooling truly do not matter. (And all the parents everywhere let out an enormous collective sigh of relief.)

We’ll keep working hard and continue to give our kids a well-rounded education to the best of our ability. We’ll teach our kids to work hard, to be responsible, and to learn how to learn. We’ll let go of the feelings of not measuring up. We’ll let life be our greatest classroom.

When one of our kids spells barely like barley, we will not fall on the floor in a panic attack, writhing in self loathing wondering how our child will ever succeed in life since he has not mastered perfect spelling of every “ely” and “ley” word in the dictionary.

And we can all giggle together about the fact that as I was completing the writing of this post, one of my kids came up behind me, looked thoughtfully at what I was writing and said, “Hmm. I think you need to put a comma after the word “Mom” in your title. Would you look at that? It looks as if I’ve taught him something after all. (And all the readers everywhere glanced back up to the title of this post to see that indeed, there is now a comma after the word “Mom.”)


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My Discovery Kids Fabric Map Story

While I could just say, “We got a Discovery Kids Fabric Activity World Map. It is neat.” I figured I’d give you way too many unnecessary details instead:

One day I went to the toy section of the store, which I never do, but for some reason that day I did. I found a Discovery Kids Fabric Activity World Map on clearance, and was intrigued. But then I passed it up, deciding that it was likely one of those “oh we’ll use this so much!” items that would end up getting stuck in the back of a closet and forgotten. But back at home, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the ways we could use it if we had it.

(So Laura? You saw it, almost got it, didn’t get it, decided to get it, went back for it, got it, and we all lived happily ever after? Cool.)

Well yes, except for the went back for it got it happily ever after part. Not that I’m not happy with or without a map.  Because my joy comes from Jesus.  But anyway.

I went back a few days later, and there were no maps left. None.  I cried a little. Not really. I simply wheeled my empty cart to the produce section to pick out some raspberries.

Then, I went back to the store another day, because if you can believe it, we needed more raspberries. Or toilet paper. Or something. I decided to check the toy section again – just in case more of the maps were there, even though I felt sure that there wouldn’t be because clearance means they had clear-anced them out of there.

But to my great excitement, they had not one, but four Discovery Kids Fabric Activity World Maps, still at a clearance price. And so I got one. And also some toilet paper.


The three younger boys have gotten great use out of this map so far.  I’ve especially used it with Malachi.  He has been labeling the continents, finding countries and learning what continents they are a part of, and learning about oceans. Soon, we’ll tackle rivers. Every day, we get out the map to practice and learn more. I have been thrilled with how much he’s learning.

And the best part? While we could hang the map on a wall, it has instead been very handy to simply lay out on the floor, then roll up and stow away when we’re finished.

So there’s my story. We’ve also made good use out of the toilet paper, but those are, again, more of those unnecessary details that you don’t need to know.

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