Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Real World

I have been doing a series of posts for high school students called "Welcome to the Real World".  Some of you may have noticed that I did not post last week.

If you were eagerly anticipating the next post in the series, so sorry.  If, like me, you were  distracted by everything going on in your own 'real world', you understand.

I will continue the "Welcome to the Real World" series after the first of the year.

Last week I had just returned from a long week-end trip to my second daughter's Physician Assistant's graduation.  We are very proud of her hard work and determination to accomplish this.

Now, Christmas is upon us and I am getting ready for that.

As well as preparing for Christmas, I am planning my daughter's wedding that is in mid-January.  Details are coming together nicely.

As you can see, my 'real world, took over my 'blog world'. 
I hope that is true for you, too, at this time of year.

From our family to yours:  May you be richly blessed this Christmas as you focus on the reason for the season.  Enjoy your time with your family!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome to the Real World, part 4

Credit card offers start filling the mailbox long before a student graduates college.

We discussed credit cards and how to use them this week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Welcome to the Real World, part 3

What college will you attend and how will you pay for it? 

That is the question students addressed the third week of class.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Welcome to the Real World, Part 2

Last week I introduced you to a co-op class I taught to high school students- 'Welcome to the Real World'.

The second lesson for the students was purchasing a car.

I introduced this lesson by asking the students, "What is the purpose of a vehicle?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Welcome to the Real World

financial decisions simulation

For many years our family has participated in a homeschool co-op.  I have taught a class at the co-op for as long as we have participated.  Often, coming up with an idea for a class is a bit of a challenge.

This past semester, I created and taught a class for high school students called Welcome to the Real World.

This was a simulation class that led students through college, career, and financial choices to determine how those choices might play out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Reality Check

My high school senior has been very busy with college and scholarship applications as the early application deadlines approach.  I think he will be glad to be finished with them.  

He has also been diligent to write one blog post per week as part of his English assignment.  
Last week he was playing catch-up and wrote two posts on the same day.  Today, I would like to share those with you, for two reasons.

1.  The Opera? post just speaks the truth that most of us would like to say.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Pumpkin Streusel Sheet Cake

pumpkin bars

This is another recipe that falls under the " I Thought I Already Shared It With You" category.

Whenever I make this, it disappears quickly because it is so yummy.  Bake some today.

 Pumpkin Streusel Sheet Cake

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Blessing of Independent Teens

Recently, my husband and I headed north for several days and left our 16 and 18 year old home alone.

I left them a 'to-do' list as a reminder, and felt confident that they would get where they needed to go on time.

Then, my daughter, who is getting married in January (have I mentioned that lesson planning may have taken a back seat to wedding planning?), called to ask me to go to 'the big city' and buy a couple bridesmaid dresses at a particular store.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Surviving Parent Taught Driver's Ed

My gray hairs? I earned them.  I attribute many of them to student drivers.

I suppose a few gray hairs is a small price to pay for making sure my children are competent drivers.

When it comes to driver training, there are options.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homeschool High School Round-Up

I get a variety of questions about homeschooling high school.  Many of the questions have been addressed in posts here.

Today, I want to present a one-stop place for you to find much of that information.

Whether you are just beginning with a freshman or almost finished with a senior, some, or all of this information could be useful to you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

National Merit Commended Student

 Friday, we received notification in the mail that our son, Jesse, has been named a National Merit Commended Student.  

This was not a surprise to us since we have gone through the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying process five other times and have a good idea of what score is needed to achieve this.  Based on his PSAT selection index score, we knew it was not high enough to qualify as  a Semi-Finalist in Texas (selection index 218) , but would qualify for Commended status.  We are proud of his accomplishment.

What is a National Merit Commended Student?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Easy Homemade Pizza

I need to apologize.  I thought I had already shared this easy recipe with you, but discovered I hadn't when a friend recently asked me for the recipe and I was going to send her a link.  I am so sorry, y'all.  You need this recipe for Easy Homemade Pizza.

Why do you need this recipe?

1.  The crust is super easy to make and doesn't need to rise = quick.

2.  It makes  3 large pizzas = enough for everybody and maybe leftovers.

3.  Your children can help = fun family activity.

4.  It is inexpensive to make = save money.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


As I have mentioned before, we are studying Scotland for our history this year.  

I found a couple books that we are using as well as a website.  The internet does make creating your own curriculum much easier than when we began our homeschooling journey twenty-three years ago.

We definitely have seen a pattern in Scottish history up to this point:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

College Admissions Essay

In the mail today, I was excited to receive my review copy of  Admissions Essay Boot Camp: How to Write Your Way into the Elite College of Your Dreams.

I don't think my son has elite colleges in his dreams, but it is always a good idea to write an excellent essay, so I was interested to see if this book would give us any new insight.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Responding to Teenagers

"I'm thinking about getting dreads," my college freshman son declared to me as we were leaving his university for spring break at home.

Friday, September 12, 2014


how to make a book cake

Through the years I have made decorated cakes for my children for their birthdays.  Not every year, but sometimes.  

When my oldest daughter was engaged, she requested a book cake for her engagement party.  She has always loved books, so this seemed like a fun cake to make.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Drawing Lessons

Would you like to have a resource to teach your children to draw just about any animal they, or you, can imagine?

Would you like that resource to be free?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our History and Vocabulary

My Facebook newsfeed is testimony to the excitement associated with the first few days of a new school year.

I think homeschooled students and teachers also feel the excitement of a new school year.

This week begins our third week of the school year.  So far, we have been diligent to keep up with lessons and lesson planning.  I have not done much lesson planning the last few years (due to a curriculum that came with plans), so this is a big deal for me.

As I mentioned in this post on our plan for this year,

Saturday, August 23, 2014


I accompanied my son to two college visits recently.  Both schools were in Austin, Texas.

The schools were very different in size and the visits were very different in scope.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cheesy Shells and Italian Sausage

 A super easy recipe that is very delicious!
Posting it here for those who have requested it.  Enjoy!
Cheesy Shells & Italian Sausage

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our 2014-15 High School Plan

As I mentioned last week, I am branching out and creating our own curriculum for history and English this year.  

Because we are all a little curious as to what other homeschoolers do for high school, I am sharing what my junior and senior will be doing this year.

Friday, August 8, 2014

More Books Children Love

 Today's post is another installment of books my children loved to read.  I originally said that I would not list a book twice if two different children chose it, but I have changed my mind.  One book on this list from my oldest son was also on my oldest daughter's list.  I have included it here because the 'why' they loved the book is different.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


For the last ten years, we have done basically the same curriculum for history.  Using first Tapestry of Grace and then My Father’s World, we have learned history from the beginning of time to modern day, on a four year rotation.

My two current high school students have done the rotation 2.5 times.

I don’t know how they feel, but frankly, I’m bored.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting & Running a Business

The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business: Turn Your Ideas into Money!

This book is a very thorough guide for entrepreneurs, young or old.

Steve Mariotti uses very easy to understand language to guide you through the whole process of starting and running a business.  

  Beginning with creating a business, he guides you through all the steps you need to cover to be successful, including how to write a winning business plan.

Friday, August 1, 2014

FAMILY FAVORITES FRIDAY: Thai Chicken Stir-Fry Salad

This is an easy salad that we like and I demonstrate frequently at my Pampered Chef shows.  I get a lot of requests for this and even have people call me when they lose their recipe and need it again. 

The chicken mixture can be served over salad or rice and the leftovers make delicious wraps.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Essential Life Skills: Home Care and Maintenance

chores for children and teens

You could neglect teaching your child basic home care and assume an attitude of “They can learn it when they need it.”

However, you would rob them of responsibility when they are young and burden them with extra learning when they are older.

Children need to have responsibilities in the form of helping around the house.  As they become older they need to become responsible for bigger jobs. This will form a habit that will follow them through their adult life.  They are then prepared to live on their own and not have the burden of learning home care as a young adult.

What should a young person be able to do as a young adult on their own?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Essential Life Skills: Car Care

teaching car care to your students

Many teenagers count down the days until they can drive.

Whether they drive the family car or their own car, they need to know how to maintain and care for the car.  

Car care and maintenance should, ideally, be part of your driver education program.  If it wasn’t, be sure to teach your child the essentials before they head out on their own.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Essential Life Skills: Clothing Care

teach your children to do their own laundry

Sometimes young people leave home without the necessary life skills either because it is easier for the parent to do it herself, or the parent really enjoys doing things for their child.

Neither of those reasons is a good excuse for sending a young adult into the world unprepared.

Clothing care is an easy life skill for you to teach and for your child to learn.  Three essential areas of this skill are:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Essential Life Skills: Money Management

money management

If not intentionally taught, money management is often ‘caught’.

Evaluate your own money management skills to determine if you want your children to emulate them.

The thing about managing money is you need to have some to be able to manage it.

 Determine how your child will get money.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Parmesan Ranch Chicken

Kids can cook
This is an easy recipe for pre-teens and teens to make. 
 This recipe for Parmesan Ranch Chicken is super easy.  Since we like grilled chicken that has been marinated in ranch dressing, I put this combination together one day and it became an instant favorite.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Help Your Child Become Successful at Life- an interview and giveaway

no faiure to launch

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - William Butler Yeats

Many of us (myself included) are often so focused on  filling the pail with "everything they need to know",  that we forget to light the fire of learning.

I recently found Jonathan Harris' website 10KToTalent

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Essential Life Skills: Cooking

teach children to cook
Don't raise an 'educated fool'.  Teach life skills, too.

Sooner or later, your child will grow up and move away from your home.

Are you teaching them what they need to know to survive on their own?

My own children have been a little surprised at how few students possess the skills needed to live on their own.

Over the next few weeks, I will have a series of posts on skills your student needs.  These are based on what I have observed lacking in college students, young adults, and even young mothers.

Since everybody must eat, let's start with cooking.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

College Applications and Your Internet Presence

students need to blog

Another topic often discussed at college 'preview' days is your internet presence.

College admissions officers always stress to students to make sure the information they share on the internet via social networking (Facebook, Instagram, etc) is something they would want a potential college choice to know.

As one admissions officer shared, "If you wouldn't want your grandmother to know, don't post it on the internet."

Everything you post tells something about you. 

Friday, June 6, 2014


 When summer starts heating up in Texas, I am ready to head to the mountains.

Over the years we have visited Colorado Springs several times. 

There are many things to do as a family that are free, so it is easy on the vacation budget.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

College Applications: The Personal Essay

how to write personal essay

Almost all, if not all, college applications require a personal essay.

Students: listen up!

This is your chance to let the admissions officers get to know you. Tell them something about yourself that they cannot glean from your application, transcript, or resume.

Admissions officers read thousands of essays. Please give them something interesting that most of the other applicants didn't already say.

Some comments made by admissions officers at our recent college visit:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Preparing for College: Be Smart, Not Scared

do not be afraid

I stumbled across a 'college planning' website recently that is written by a mom who is scared.  A mom who started researching college scholarships when her daughter was just a few months old!.  Wondering how she is going to put her kids through college keeps her up at night.

To that mom, and any like her, I say, "Stop.  Stop being scared.  Stop wasting your time."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

College and Scholarship Applications: Keeping Up With the Details

If your college-bound student is interested in several potential schools, keeping track of application deadlines, possible scholarships, and required admission qualifications can become confusing.

Our recent visit to Southern Methodist University netted two very helpful forms to assist students in keeping all their college and scholarship information sorted.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


why to visit a college campus before applying for admission

For the sixth time in eleven years, I will be visiting potential colleges with my student. This should be old hat for me, and some of it is.

But, I realized last week while visiting a college campus with my son and daughter that not all campus visits are the same. Even a visit to a campus you have visited previously with another student can be different than before.

This post is the beginning of a series about visiting colleges with your student. I plan to have information for students and parents; newbies and seasoned. I will be adding these posts to the 'High School' section to make the information easy to find. Sign up to receive my blog via email so you don't miss a post.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Trinity library
We had to visit the Trinity College Library, because...books.  The Book of Kells is here, but the big attraction was this library upstairs.  Stacks and stacks of old books.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Two Writers, Ten Years

In addition to being a homeschool blogger, I am a consultant with The Pampered Chef.  As a consultant, I do live cooking shows in a host's home.  Sometimes children attend the cooking demonstration with their mother.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

homemade spaghetti sauce
I discovered this recipe about four years ago when I was putting together a week of menus for my children to make while I accompanied my oldest daughter on her move to Nevada.  

We have changed it up to suit us and it has become a favorite .  

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Since returning from our trip to Scotland and Ireland, I have repeatedly heard, "Tell me all about your trip." 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Writing Enrichment: Make a Book

This post contains affiliate links.  If you choose to click on the Shutterfly link and purchase their great deals, I will receive a small percentage, at no cost to you.

A reader recently asked me if I have any suggestions for summer academic enrichment activities, specifically in the area of English, for her middle school age son. She doesn't want to send him away to a writing camp or spend money on an online writing course.

Coming up with a good writing enrichment activity is more challenging

Saturday, April 19, 2014

12 Things People Don't Tell You About Visiting Scotland and Ireland

I recently returned from a 2 week visit to Scotland and Ireland. I did enjoy the trip, but discovered some things I did not know before I went, even though I did research travel tips. If you are planning a trip to the UK or Ireland, here are some things to know before you go.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guest Post: Success Without College

 Today's guest post is from my friend Courtney at Minivan Mom.  I think we were the very first customer at their body shop.  That is where I first met her husband.  I asked Courtney to tell us their story about how they are succeeding without  college degrees.  Courtney and her husband were both homeschooled and now homeschool their children.  She has some great advice here.  Enjoy her story (and this picture of her adorable family).
Photo Credit: Abbie Gibson Photography

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guest Post: 7 Reasons You Should Take Your Child on a Mission Trip

 There are many things you can teach your children at home, but some lessons are only learned by venturing out.  My new friend, Kathleen from {full of life}, is my guest blogger today.  She shares lessons learned from taking her daughter on two mission trips.

Going on a mission trip can be a mind-altering experience for a teenager, in the best possible way.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: The Library

We love the library;  any library, any place.

My children grew up with a weekly trip to the library.  They spent many hours perusing the books and choosing some to check out and take home.  

It is a good thing our local public library did not have a limit on how many books we could check out!  With seven children choosing books, we easily carried home 70 or more books each week.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Week End Field Trip/Get-Away: Little Rock River Market

I spent the last four days in downtown Little Rock with my son while he participated in the Southwestern Division American Choral Directors Association High School Men's Honor Choir.

Admittedly, downtown Little Rock, AR is not an area that comes to mind when I am looking for a week-end getaway that is fun and educational. However, I was surprised to discover a wealth of activities that fit that description.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Dream Trip

My dream trip has always been to visit Ireland and Scotland.  That trip is finally becoming a reality.  When my son was in Belfast, that seemed like the perfect reason (excuse) to plan a trip to Ireland.  Even though he is not there now, the plans moved forward and we are going!  Me, my husband, oldest daughter and her husband will be leaving soon to visit Scotland and Ireland.  Our itinerary is so full, I'm not sure when we will sleep, but I guess there will be time for that later.

We have planned our own trip, including car rental and vacation house rentals.  Be prepared for photos and reviews when I return.

While I am gone, I have lined up some guest bloggers for you to enjoy.  I will only have one post per week while I am gone, but I think you will enjoy these lovely ladies and their stories.

What is your dream trip?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

High School Elective: Drafting Fundamentals

Over the last ten years, I have taught a Drafting class at our homeschool co-op classes. The first time I taught the class I found a book on Ebay, Exploring Drafting, fundamentals of technology by John R Walker (I have an older version). I didn't know anything about the book other than the title chapters covered what I wanted to teach and it was aimed at high school students.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What To Do About the New SAT (uncut version)

As you probably noticed in my last post titled What To Do About the New SAT, my editor believes in brevity.   She thought my original post was verbose, but I wanted to share it anyway.  What follows is the uncut version of the post.

The SAT is getting a makeover.

Current high school freshmen will be the guinea pigs for this test in Spring 2016, according to the College Board.

There is a lot of ‘chatter’ on the internet in response to this announcement.

What can students do about the new SAT?  

Don’t take it.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Banoffee Pie: Irish Pi Day Pie

Pi Day is today.

St. Patrick's Day is Monday.

Today, I am sharing a Banoffee Pie recipe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What To Do About the New SAT Test

don't take the new SAT

The brevity of this post is brought to you by my mean editor. 

Don't like the new SAT? 

Take the ACT instead. 

The end.

* the 400+ word unedited version of this post is coming soon

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Free College?

Recently, I was talking to my friend Courtney about the cost of college and the average student loan debt for college graduates.

She asked, "Have you heard about colleges that you work to pay your tuition?"

I responded, " Do you mean like College of the Ozarks?"

She said, "I haven't heard of that one, I was thinking about Berea College. Are you familiar with that school?"

"I have heard of it," I said, "but, I didn't know they did that."

After doing a little research, I discovered that College of the Ozarks in Lookout Point, MO
 and Berea College in Berea, KY are very similar.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Annoyance or Adventure?

My mom recently sent me this poem .  I thought it was a great reminder to parents
 everywhere that time is fleeting, even when it seems unending; that the petty
  annoyances of adults are often adventures to children.
Remember, all learning is not done at a desk with a book. 
 Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions
Author Unknown

  When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard.
My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Homeschool Grading Scale?

what I said is not what you heard

The following story might prove  one of several things:

1. I really am the meanest mom.
2. My son really is funny.
3. What I say is not always what my children hear.

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