Being okay with being the “mean mom”


A moose gets struck by lightening during math. 🙂

In the middle of Katie’s video math lesson…

Katie: I know this. I don’t need to see this.
Me: (pretty sure she doesn’t) Okay, you think you can answer your review questions then, without any help?
Katie: Yes. (if a voice could swagger, hers did)

We open up her quiz. I watch her punch in the first answer, knowing it is wrong. She presses “Enter”.

Big, bad, red “x”.

She loves (I mean LOVES) maintaining a Platinum level (100%…missing no questions), so her disappointment was…profound (if you know Katie, you know what this means).

Me: So…ya think you should go back and finish the lesson now?
Katie: (huge sigh) Yes.

She can’t regain Platinum level for this unit. She will have a tangible reminder of this for the week. Sometimes we need to let ’em crash and burn (when the collateral damage of the lesson won’t be too high). Hard to do, but hopefully memorable.

How many times has God done this with me? Too many to count.


Keep pluggin’, homeschool mama! Persevere! And don’t miss the lessons for yourself along the way.

The UPS Elf!

Our “12 Hours of Christmas” and “Homeschool Homestretch” events are done. Many happy prize winners have already received their goodies, or have their noses pressed to their front door windows eagerly awaiting them! Now it’s time to focus on my home, family and our church festivities.

WPDBUT I wanted to share what came in MY mail today! Santa’s brown elf (not to be confused with wood elves, LOTR fans) visited us today. I know we homeschoolers get a special thrill from receiving boxes of books, so I thought I’d post a pic so we can squeal together!

I’ll be reviewing these items here after the New Year. Some of my favorite things, and I get to test drive them for free!


This felt like “Merry Christmas to me” when I opened it!


Taking “Perfect” Out of My Vocabulary

I used to be very challenged. I LOVED order. I mean, I wasn’t quite “Monk” level in my organization, but I tidied, alphabetized, fluffed, matched, sorted, vacuumed and “staged” my apartment into excruciating pristine-ness. Re-do makeup on lunch break. Re-iron clothes between classes in college. I remember my little southern room mate exclaiming, “Dah-ay-anne. People KNOW you sit day-own.”

Maintaining that level of perfection is exhausting. It is also depressing because the ideal is never quite met. It buys only a temporary sense of well being at best. And generally speaking, it makes things miserable for a lot of other people.

Now, try to apply this mindset to homeschooling. You read blogs, see great articles (with pictures to help you visualize your perfect homeschool situation), lurk on discussion boards where everybody has their own definition of what perfect homeschooling is…and THAT, my friends, will ruin you. I spent a few years trying to “do perfect” in our schooling, with imperfect kids, imperfect budget, imperfect room layout, and (last but certainly not least) imperfect ME. Cue ominous music.

It took me years to understand that NO curriculum will fit every kid. We are not the public school that issues a copy of a textbook out of one big box for every student. And… even what feels like the perfect curriculum in September may morph into really NOT perfect by January. Because kids change and grow. Because circumstances are never static. Because budgets change. Because life happens.

So, let’s make a promise to ourselves. Just do today what is great (not perfect) and expedient for today. If that means Hamburger Helper for supper, do it. If that means the laundry stays in the dryer, so be it. If that means this kids get some reading and math in and watch Magic School Bus and Fetch! for the rest of school because you are not feeling well, alright then. Pajamas all day? Okay! Learning to compare prices at the grocery store and stick to a budget for math? Yep!

Bottom line…if it’s “one of those days” just remember that it won’t always be like this. Don’t compare with the friends in your co-op. They are not you. They don’t have your kids. They don’t live your life in your home. No…I won’t break into a chorus of “Let It Go”. 😉

“Perfect” is what fits. It’s the favorite pair of soft, old jeans. The fuzzy slippers you snuggle into in the morning. That cup of “just right” coffee that makes your brain say “Ahhhhhhhh….” with it’s warmth. Ask God what “perfect” should look like today. I suspect it will likely be different than what you had in mind!

finalhedgeNow. See this little fellow? A couple years ago he would have been banished from “my tree”, because “my tree” already had its colors, layout, and theme chosen. A purple hedgehog doesn’t say “Christmas”!

I’ve come a long way. Know how far? The kids set up and decorated the tree entirely by themselves. And I have not touched it since. Life is too short to focus on controlling every aspect so that it is safe, pleasing, wrinkle free, and convenient. We miss an awful lot of joy that way. I’m so grateful to be freed from who I was. Jesus is my perfection, and that’s where that issue begins and ends.

So, Merry Christmas little Hedgie, and Merry Christmas, lovely, less-than-perfect-but-so-much-happier homeschool friends!

For the Love of Learning (and Sanity),


A Day in the Life: Rats, Snowy Poetry, Lazy Lasagna, Bloody Mary and the White Witch

I thought I’d take you through some snapshots of what our school day looks like. I remember as a new homeschooler, I was so curious about how everyone’s day was structured.

Our 4th grader is always up first, so we get her started with breakfast and chores. She had a little extra to take care of today, tidying the school book shelf in addition to the other things on her list. By 10am we were starting school. I’m an advocate of letting our kids sleep and getting the best hours out of them instead of yanking them out of bed at “dark thirty” and having a counterproductive educational experience. Here is what Katie’s day mapped out to be:

  • Keys for Kids (she listens to the daily broadcast, does the key verse for her cursive practice along with her signature, and we discuss the lesson).
  • This year is reading-intensive, as you’ll see. This is deliberate, because my sciency gal struggles in writing and spelling. First, she read a chapter from Hero Tales (we are now learning about Dwight Moody…in the last lesson, the Chicago fire was mentioned so we looked up some info on that).
  • Read aloud time. We are reading a chapter or two from “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH”. She sketches a scene from the story. Next we will begin “The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate” (a book about a sciency girl, back in the 1800’s–our public library has it as well as the sequel!).
  • Wiggle break (Katie dances around to get some nervous energy out…her choices were “The Syncopated Clock” and “Sleigh Ride” which goes along with her current poetry project).
  • She reads her “for fun” reading. Right now it is “The Little Lemons Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Suspect” (which I got free for Kindle).
  • We are working on memorizing and reciting “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.
  • She has a spelling list to practice, using Spelling City. Her reading curriculum with Christian Light has a list of words which corresponds with each story in her reader, so I just plug that in so she can review word meanings and practice spelling with games and exercises.
  • Today’s lesson for math is on fractions. She’s been doing well with this curriculum…today we cover 10ths and 100ths at CTC math. katectc
  • Today we are taking a break from our regular science (we alternate science and history, every other day), which is a study of plants, their structure and uses from Christian Light. We found a Venus fly trap and a grafted cactus to add some fun to that study last Friday. Today I came across this neat experiment in my web wanderings, looking for goodies to post at Schoolin’ Swag. I happened to have all the things needed for it, so it’s a go! That rounds out our day.

Meanwhile, I am slogging through the laundry that I forgot on Saturday (yep, it happens!), and throwing together the layers for Lazy Crock Pot lasagna for supper.

Our 10th grader has fewer subjects, but does them more intensely. After waking up and getting chores squared away, he checks into Homeschool Planet to see his daily assignments.


  • His Bible time right now until the end of the semester is brief daily readings from scripture at Bible Gateway. Then he journals what the verses mean for him personally. We just completed a series of videos and resources on creationism and apologetics, so I wanted to switch gears back to personal application.
  • We are using Teaching Textbooks for his algebra curriculum. This includes an interactive video and  practice problems. He can also read the transcript of the lesson if he needs to. In the workbook are review questions.
  • We recently decided to do a modified block style of lesson plan for Michael, which means that his core subjects of Physical Science, World History, Language Arts/Grammar, and Literature/Writing each have one day assigned to them. On that day, we do a more intensive lesson, usually containing double lessons. Today he is answering 15 review questions from his chapter in Story of the World on Mary, Queen of Scots. Then he is viewing a video about her from the History Channel.
  • Finally, he will do some practical application of what he has been learning about greetings and introductions in Spanish class. He will do an interactive exercise at this website, and then write his own dialogue between two friends, using the vocabulary he has learned thus far.
  • For his reading block, Michael has been going through “The Lion, the aslanwitchWitch, and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis. Tomorrow, his literature/writing day, he will read Chapters 13 and 14, and then write out what he believes the “secret conversation” between Aslan and the White Witch may have been like.

My other activities during the day include reviewing these materials which I just received from The Learning Tree (exciting stuff!), and gathering up the last of the donations for the “12 Hours of Christmas” event coming up on December 1st at Schoolin’ Swag. Today I got donations from the Anne of Green Gables page on Facebook and Plant Therapy …still waiting to hear from Apologia. Exciting times!

For the Love of Learning,