Friday, December 20, 2013


Even though I have only been blogging since August of this year, I am going to take a short break for the rest of the year to spend time with my family.  

However, I need to be cranking out articles to have ready to go at the first of the year (What? you thought I wrote those the day before posting?), so I would like some feedback from you.

I have posted a survey of general topics on the right side of my home page.  Please take the survey.  Also, for specific questions you would like addressed, leave comments below. You can comment anonymously if you prefer.

Thanks for taking the survey. Thanks for reading my blog.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What About High School? Planning Homeschool High School

When homeschooling high school, having a plan and keeping records becomes more important.
can i home school high school

Beginning with 9th grade, a 4-year plan is necessary.

How do you make a 4-year plan?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tips for Planning a Homeschool Graduation


Even though it is only December, it is time to start thinking about and planning your homeschool senior's graduation.

There are many options available to you, so the first step is to decide what type of graduation ceremony you and your student desire.

So far, with my five homeschool graduates, I have organized and planned three different types of graduation celebrations.

tips for planning a senior recital

Friday, December 13, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Pumpkin Biscuits and Lucy's Orange Cream Fruit Salad

After my How to Survive Holiday Cooking post last week, my friend Kathy from 9Peas requested the recipe for Pumpkin Biscuits.  Not wanting to disappoint her, I am posting that recipe as well as Lucy's Orange Cream Fruit Salad that I mentioned in that post.

 I am happy to report that I must have intended to post these recipes when I made them to freeze last month because I found the pictures that I took in anticipation of the post.

Both of these recipes can be made ahead and frozen.  I have included instructions below.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gifted Hands

When I had only a baby and a toddler, I did a lot of reading. This was mainly because the baby did not sleep well.  I tried letting her cry it out when she was 5 months old, but after 2 hours of non-stop crying, I gave in.  After that, I held her while she napped and I read a book.

It was during this time that I read Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Surviving Holiday Cooking

how to make holiday cooking easy

After years of watching my mother and mother-in-law spend a huge chunk of time in the kitchen when everyone visited with their families, I was determined to try to avoid some of that stress.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Family Games

Our game shelf  testifies that we like to play games.

best family games

We tend to play more games when we are on vacation together or when everyone returns from the four corners of the earth for holidays, but we do like to play games.

Some of our favorite games are:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


When it comes to Christmas traditions, most families either have them or wish for them.

When I got married, I fell into the 'wish for them' category. I longed for a 'story book' Christmas with a lovely tree surrounded by a happy family, singing Christmas carols, eating Christmas cookies and drinking hot apple cider or hot chocolate.

That longing was the driving force behind making sure my children grew up with Christmas traditions: activities they could count on happening from year to year. Sights, sounds, and smells that they would associate with Christmas and family.

No matter which category you belong in, I want to share some of the traditions we have developed over the years. Feel free to share your traditions in the comments.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Give the Gift of Independence and Responsibility

raising independent responsible children

"Who cleans their room?" was asked by a mother at a public university freshman orientation parent session.

The moderator paused briefly

Friday, November 29, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: OVEN CARAMEL CORN

oven caramel corn
Makes great gifts!
Forget Black Friday shopping.  Make a batch of this Oven Caramel Corn, break out the board games, and have a fun family time.

This is our absolute favorite caramel corn.  It is from my very old Farm Journal's Country Cookbook. 

It is very easy.  A candy thermometer and a popcorn popper come in handy, though.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teaching Children to Be Independent Learners

  As I mentioned in How Do You Do That, I taught my children to be independent learners, even autodidacts. This was my key to teaching so many different ages at the same time.

You can start teaching your children to work independently at a very young age. Sometimes the work will really be play, but the children need to be able to focus on an activity independently or with a sibling.

Let's look at what this might have looked like for me for the 1998-99 school year. That year I was teaching 7th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st grades, plus Kindergarten, with a 2-year-old and a baby. How did I get through a day like that, much less a week, month, or year?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?

teaching research skills

“What does the fox say?” queries a popular song.

After hearing my teenagers sing this around the house, I finally asked, “What does the fox say?”

Friday, November 22, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Hillybilly Froyd

I found this video clip on my computer and it is too funny not to share.  My son is 13 or 14 in this video.  Maybe it was his way to study Chemistry.  Watch all the way to the end of the 44 second video.  If you like it, leave a comment and I will post the other two Hillbilly Froyd videos he made.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Creative Cookie Exchange: Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

My contribution to the Creative Cookie Exchange challenge for freezer cookies is Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies.  This is a favorite cookie of my daughter.  I added the fresh cranberries and it turned this cake-like cookie into a delightful sweet/tart cookie.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

That's Not Safe

This is the story of a young man with dreams of travel and adventure and of the mother who loves him.

Once upon a time a young man, only 17 years old, came to his parents and said, "Mom, Dad, I want to graduate a couple months early (for he was homeschooled) and I want to take a train to Chicago (from Dallas) and I want to stay for two weeks."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Cranberry Christmas, Cranberry Thanksgiving, and Cranberry Bread

Recently, while looking through my recipe cards  to find recipes to make and freeze, I ran across a recipe for Cranberry Bread.  It reminded me of one of our favorite books, Cranberry Christmas.  I thought the recipe came from the book, but further research revealed that it probably came from a different book by the same author (Wende Devlin), Cranberry Thanksgiving.   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Create the Perfect College Finals Survival Kit

create perfect finals kit

When my oldest girls were in college, I belonged to a county mom's group for that university. Every spring and fall they would offer a finals kit that we could purchase to be delivered to our students during finals week. This was always a fun time for the moms group to get together and assemble the kit with items one of the club members purchased in bulk. A creative container was always part of the finals kit, too.

While I loved the idea of a finals kit, I was never very crazy about the contents: candy and junk food. This made absolutely no sense to me. During a time when the students would be having more stress, less sleep, and erratic meals, we were going to provide more sugar and processed food to their already weakened immune systems?

My solution was to create a personalized finals kit

Saturday, November 9, 2013


A reader recently contacted me with this question: "I have read your advice on preparing for the SAT and PSAT tests, but what about the ACT test? What preparation should my son do?"
which standardized test

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Real Recipe: Yogurt Waffles

Is this a ‘real’ recipe?  As many times as my family has asked me this, I still wonder what they mean.  What makes a recipe ‘real’ versus ‘fake’? Does a ‘fake’ recipe even exist?  Is being real defined as in The Velveteen Rabbit, being loved so much that it hurts?  I don’t think so.

A ‘real’ recipe is

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Why College Freshmen Should Declare A Major

Some students know by seventh grade the path they want to pursue.  Others have no idea the career path that interests them.  Many students enter their first year of college as an Undeclared major.  They intend to get their basic subjects out of the way while they explore and contemplate their career options.

Of my five children who have gone to college, only one entered freshman year as an undeclared major and then I never allowed that again.  It seemed like a logical choice for that student since she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and she was a little bit afraid to declare a major for fear she would be ‘stuck’ with that choice forever.

Why do I not allow Undeclared majors anymore?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Bavarian Mint Coffee Mix & Hot Chocolate Mix

It is finally starting to get cooler here which makes perfect weather for hot beverages. 
While we love hot teas, we also like flavored coffees and hot chocolate.  

Today, I am sharing two mixes that I like to make; one for hot chocolate and one for a flavored coffee mix.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


homeschooling high school

Even if you have only home educated for a short time, you have most likely encountered the skeptic who asks, "How are you going to teach (fill in a difficult subject)?” Or, you may even question your own ability to teach a particular subject.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All Things Work Together For Good

I received the call from the doctor's office after having been in the office earlier that day.

"You have to take your baby to the hospital right now," the doctor told me over the phone that Friday afternoon.

Right now? Today?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Mae Holloway's Chicken and Dumplings

I received this recipe from my friend Cindy's mom during BEST Robotics 'season' one year.  It quickly turned into a family favorite.

Here is the original recipe with notes on how I sometimes modify the recipe to make it quicker.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Landry Academy Mom's Retreat Review

Last week, my friend Nikki and I attended a Landry Academy Homeschool Mom Retreat in southern Missouri. We had registered for the retreat last spring because it sounded like such a good deal - $25 for an all-inclusive 2-night retreat.

We didn't really know what to expect as no schedule was available. Mr. Landry said this was by design to give the retreat a relaxed feel since so many homeschool moms live by a schedule. There was a schedule when we arrived but it mostly consisted of meals are at this time, sessions are at this time.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How to Encourage Reading

While we were out of town for my oldest child’s first birthday, burglars came into our house and helped themselves to our TV, stereo, microwave, jewelry, and my new tennis shoes!  While not an experience I would want to re-live, I think it contributed to my children becoming avid readers.

We became a TV-free family. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: More Favorite Read Alouds

When I started my blog, I asked all my children to be thinking about favorite books from childhood.  This provoked the questions, " What qualifies as a children's book?  Do chapter books count? Do series count?"

I let them decide the books to include since we did read some chapter books aloud and they did read some chapter books when they were fairly young.

The only stipulation I put on their choices was I wouldn't include the same book twice.  If they all choose the same book as a favorite, I will only include it once, but I might mention at some point that it was everybody's favorite.

Last month I posted a review of favorite books from my oldest child.  This week, I interviewed my youngest, Christina, to share her favorite book memories.  Even though she is 15 years old, she has fond memories of these books.   

Her favorite toys and favorite books included animals.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Brandy Apple Bars

 The Creative Cookie Exchange theme this month is apples.  I don't usually think about apples and cookies together.  Apple pie- yes.  Apple bread- yes.  Apple cake- yes.  Apple cookies -no. 

So, I had to think about this a bit and do some experimenting.  My first experiment was an apple caramel cookie.  I didn't really like it very much.  It was a little bland and the caramel in the middle didn't really work as I had envisioned.

Apple Bars seemed like a do-able project so I experimented with that and came up with this recipe. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Cheater Enchiladas

Call me lazy or call me efficient, but any recipe with repetitive steps needs to be stream-lined.  Getting rid of the rolling up of tortillas was the impetus for creating 'cheater' enchiladas.  You get the same flavor and look without the time consuming task of filling and rolling 18 - 24 tortillas.  Anybody agree this is more efficient?

My family loves the enchilada sauce that goes with this recipe. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

5 Children's Books You Should Read

Product Details
Product Details

Product DetailsProduct Details


 I read many, many books to my children.  Some of the books we owned, some we checked out from the church library or the public library, and some were from my husband’s childhood.  While we read many of the classic favorites, there are some that are not as well known that I 
 think you and your children would enjoy.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Secret to Winning the BEST Award

The Only Way to Win the BEST Award

The year our BEST Robotics team (Texoma Home Educators- T.H.E. BEST - the acronym worked out nicely!) placed 4th in the BEST Award on the hub level, and the 1st-3rd place teams advanced to Texas BEST, we decided to study what it takes to win the BEST Award.  

Our family, along with another team family, attended Texas BEST in College Station.  We studied the displays and notebooks and talked to the winning teams.  My husband, the engineer, made some very good observations.  We put his observations into practice and won the BEST Award at the hub level for the next 4 (or more) years.  We also placed in the top 3 at Texas BEST during those years.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Perfect Microwave Coconut Pie

Perfect Microwave Coconut Pie

Fundraiser Recipe

I mentioned earlier this week that our robotics team held a fundraiser to be able to purchase motors, remote control, and electronics to enable our robot to run year round, since at the end of the competition all those items are returned to the sponsoring hub.  

A friend gave me this (secret) recipe that she had used to raise funds for her children's activities. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

How does National Merit Qualifying work?

How does  National Merit Qualifying work?  

National Merit Semi-Finalists are the top 1% of PSAT scores of high school juniors from each state.  This means that each state has a different qualifying minimum.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Confessions of a Slob

 I am a slob.
My older sister used to tell me that all the time when we shared a room.

My husband, after 25+ years of marriage, declared it at the dinner table one day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Best Peach Cobbler

fresh peach cobbler and never fail pie crust

A scrumptious peach cobbler 
with 3 layers of flaky crust and 
lots of peaches. If you love the 
crust as much as the peaches, 
like my family does, you will love 
this cobbler. So delicious! 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brown Sugar and Spice Cookies

creative cookie exchange

Creative Cookie Exchange

 I usually post on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday,
with my food posts being Friday.
However, I found this Creative Cookie Exchange

Blog Hop  that I wanted to participate in.

So, today is a bonus post with a delicious recipe.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Killing Creativity

When my oldest girls were about 5 and 6 years old, they liked to make little books. They would get several pieces of paper (it didn't matter to them what kind), fold it over, staple the 'spine' edge and make a 'book'.

They collaborated on one book, “The Spider and the Sun”, that I considered thoughtfully written and cleverly illustrated. I tucked it away with some other schoolwork from that year. I saw it occasionally and was still struck with the creativity of the book, especially for the age of the girls at the time.

Over the years, I learned to 'publish' my children's books into a softcover book using a photo book publisher. When my oldest daughter got married recently, I thought it would be a fun gift to turn her book into a 'real' book using my photo book method.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Advice Through the Years

1. First Things First

I wasn't very many days into homeschooling, when I realized that I had a problem. I was trying to teach my daughter to read. I knew that she knew the alphabet - she could recognize and name the letters, but putting them together didn't seem to make sense to her. II decided to call a friend from church – a kindergarten teacher.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Chicken Noodle Casserole

Another family favorite that I haven't made in awhile until this week.  This would probably fit in the 'comfort food' category.  It makes quite a bit, so you could make it in two smaller pans and freeze one for another day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Is Average OK?

average children

Once upon a time, at our homeschool co-op, another mom saw a  Redwall book sticking out of my 8 year old son's backpack.
"Is he reading that?"  she asked me, surprised by the size of the book. (hardback, 300+ pages)
"Nah, he just stuck it in there to fill his backpack, " the snarky me thought about saying. But instead, I replied,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Paper People Fun

Printable Paper Dolls/Animals

 When I was growing up, my sisters and I (and sometimes my brother) would cut 'paper dolls' out of the Sears catalog. We made families and cut out furniture and played with them for hours. Sometimes we were lucky enough to have store bought paper dolls.

When my children were young, I discovered the Making Friends website with paper 'friends' to print, color,and cut out. A huge selection of clothes, hair, and accessories can be printed for the friends, also.
A paper doll my daughter made recently.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Children's Books

I have asked each of my children to tell us about five of their favorite books from childhood.  Today's Family Favorites Friday is from Hannah, who also happens to be having a birthday today.  Even in her late twenties, I think she would still be happy with a pile of books and a box. 

Books have been some of my best friends for as long as I can remember. I have far too many favorites to fit a list of five, but these are the ones I remember reading over and over between the ages of 1 to 10 or so.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What About Pre-School?

How to teach preschool

It is interesting to me the number of mothers on homeschool forums asking, "What pre-school curriculum should I use?"

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Introvert, Extrovert, or Rude?

My wise friend, Cynthia, once commented, “I do not allow my children to be rude. If they are spoken to, they must respond.” ( This refers to adults that the parents know or someone in a public place -like a store clerk- when the parent is with the child and the person is just making friendly conversation. You still need to teach your children to be wary of strangers who are trying to entice them.)

A wonderful lesson for children to learn. I began thinking about how I was training my children, or maybe how I might have failed some of them.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Family Favorites: Easy Oven BBQ Chicken

bbq chicken, baked chicken

This is one of those recipes that I used to make a lot and then forgot about for awhile.  I remembered it this week and modified it a little bit, but it is still as yummy as ever. I found the original recipe in my Southern Living Cookbook I have just about worn that book out!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Prepare for the SAT

standardized test prep, preparing for SAT
Read good books!
With two National Merit Scholars and two National Merit Commended Scholars, I am often asked, “How should my student prepare for the PSAT/SAT test?”

While I am not a big fan of 'final hour' preparation, I do have some recommendations to help prepare for the standardized tests

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Coping When Your Child Leaves For College

SMU class of 2016- my child is in there somewhere!
So your child just left or will soon leave for college. You, the parent, are probably feeling emotions that range from "I feel like my right arm was just cut off" to doing a happy dance.

I've never done a happy dance when my children went to college, but I have felt like my right arm had been severed. Some of my friends have gone into a short term depression or felt at a loss for several weeks. It is almost a mini grieving process. It is a strange thing for that child to be gone, even if there are several more children still at home.

How do you deal with it?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dorm Room Cooking

My son is not in a dorm this year, but he is not in an apartment either.  He is in a room- a no kitchen, no closet, bathroom down the hall kind of room.  We had to get creative for his kitchen essentials- microwave, refrigerator, crock-pot, and toaster oven.  This post is for him as well as students in the dorm (or even an apartment) who need cooking ideas for the microwave that goes beyond popcorn and pre-packaged food.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


how to succeed in college

All of my children have taken dual credit classes at the local community college by the time they are juniors in high school. This is a change from homeschooling and I suppose it does give them a taste of the ‘real world'. The differences became very obvious to my second child not long after she started taking Algebra at the community college. All of my children are 'smarter than the average bear', but when you live in the shadow of the National Merit Finalist sister, it is sometimes hard to believe that about yourself. Plus, this was the daughter who declared early on “I'm not going to do school” and “math is evil”.

So, after a semester of College Algebra, when she found herself making an 'A' after struggling with high school Algebra 1, she announced her very astute observations on how to do well in college.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Homeschool Curriculum: The Good, The Bad, and The OK, Part 2

Earlier in the week I reviewed the early grades and some basic subjects.  Today, I will pick up where I left off and include high school.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Family Favorites Friday: Parmesan Potatoes

I found this recipe in a cookbook from the Arkansas Association of  Extension Home Economists that I received as a wedding present almost 30 years ago.  My husband loves these potatoes, as do all my children.  I avoid white potatoes due to blood sugar issues, but have found that this recipe works just as well with sweet potatoes.  Enjoy...and share!

Yummy Parmesan Potatoes
1/2    cup    butter  (could use 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup butter)
1/2    cup    flour
1/2    cup    Parmesan cheese, grated ( grated )
1    teaspoon    Greek seasoning
6-8    potatoes ( peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes ) 

 Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Add butter to 9 x 13 baking dish; put dish in oven to melt butter. Place dry ingredients into gallon Ziploc bag; add cubed potatoes, shake to coat potatoes. Put potatoes into baking dish with melted butter. Stir to coat potatoes with butter. Bake for 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes. 


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Now that I have your attention, let me clarify that I realize there is no ‘one size fits all curriculum’.  What I deem as “OK”, you may love; what I deem as “good”, you may not like at all.  Different curricula fit different learning and teaching styles.  You have to find what works best for you and your student(s). But, as homeschoolers, I realize we like to know what others have used and what they thought about it.

This will be a two-part post on curriculum. Check back on Saturday (or follow me) to get Part 2.

For more than 12 years I had a student in the elementary grades. I used a variety of curricula over that time span. A few books made the cut to be used every time; some publishers were only used in the beginning of my schooling or later.

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