Links for this Week


Great links in New Jersey, and here for you ….


If mornings are not your cup of tea, here is a great link from Lisa Byrne, guest writing over at Simple Mom, about 11 strategies for a morning routine when you can not wake up before the kids. Some of her tips were very helpful!

Stacey Karen is writing over at Keeper of the Home about 7 ways to add more veggies to meals you’re already cooking. Oh so sneaky and a must try!
I’ve also been following Crystal over at Money Saving Mom’s 4 weeks to fill your Freezer series. She has had some great (and simple) ideas for preparing for every meal in advance. Here is a list of her recipes (look on the right for the freezer-friendly list) so that you can save cooking time, too!
Hope you enjoy!!!


Hope you enjoy!

Gratitude on Monday, June 18, 2012

Credits to my Mom for taking an incredible picture on the NJ coast

Getting back to the gifts ….

#431: A mother’s helper during the summer

#432: The Well Trained Mind (by Susan Wise Bauer)

#433: Drying racks for all those swimsuits and towels

#434: Plan to Eat to help me get our meals on track and healthy

#435: Figuring out the perfect IV site for weekly treatments

#436: A husband who is the best Dad in the world … REALLY!

#437: The joy of planning trips to come

#438: Rearranging the house and finding new space

#439: New light fixtures … so snazzy

#440: Getting back to counting the gifts

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. ” (Philippians 4:4 ESV)


If you’re reading this, share one thing you are grateful for in the comments!



For more gratitude, join the community at Ann Voskamp’s website ….

Gratitude on Monday, May 28th, 2012

Gratitude for a great Homeschool Conference ….

#421: A team of volunteers that make it happen

#422: air conditioning (a bunch of it)

#423: a board of leaders who commit time, energy, and resources for others

#424: seeing friends who are starting, and those finishing homeschooling

#425: A blogger lounge with extra power cords

#426: Meeting Sarita Holzmann, a distinct highlight

#427: Bluntness from Voddie Baucham

#428: Practical ideas from Susan Chrisman and Carol Barnier

#429: Freedom here in North Carolina to homeschool as we wish

#430: Being here together, as a family, having a blast

 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:  To know wisdom and instruction,   to understand words of insight,  to receive instruction in wise dealing,   in righteousness, justice, and equity;  to give prudence to the simple,   knowledge and discretion to the youth—  Let the wise hear and increase in learning,   and the one who understands obtain guidance,  to understand a proverb and a saying,   the words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:1-6 ESV)

Have you started recording, capturing the gifts?

What are you celebrating today?

For more gratitude, join the community at Ann Voskamp’s website ….

NCHE: Why I’m not at a seminar right now

Here are at the NCHE Conference, there are three keynote speeches (Thurs. night, Fri. morning, and Sat. morning). There are 11 workshop sessions. During each of those sessions, there are up to 13 choices of seminars to attend.

Information is in absurd abundance.

There are 13 places that I could be (not including the Book Fair). The topics are amazingly varied. Here is a sampling from this hour:

1. “Doing the Right Thing: Recapturing a Biblical Ethic for this Generation” (John Stonestreet)

2. “Don’t miss the Gift in this Child” (Carol Barnier)

3. “Homeschooling High Schoolers – Yes, You Can” (Heidi St.John)

4. “A Home Educator’s Guide to Scheduling and Planning” (Susan Chrisman)

5. “Faith and Art” (Charlie and Ruth Jones)

6. “Apprenticeship Before (and as a Possible Alternative to) College” (Ken Auer)

7. “Ten Big Questions Answered from the Bible” (Charlie Liebert)

8. “Homeschooled from the Beginning – WHat to Do when your Children are Young” (Melanie Young)

9. “Overruled” (Video)

10. “The Struggling Reader” (Kristen Eckenwiler)

11. “Raising Leaders one Boy Scout, American Heritage Girl and 4Her at a Time” (Sharon and James Gibson/Homeschool Legacy)

12. “What is a Classical Education?” (Paul Schaeffer/Memoria Press)

13. “BiblioPlan for Families” (Julie Nalle)

I am not in a seminar, though.

My original plan was to attend a seminar on scheduling by Susan Chrisman. (If you’ve read some of my earlier Conference posts, you know that I am a fan of hers.) But, I came to the realization that I don’t need more information on scheduling.

I need to sit down and write out a plan for a day and stick with it.

I have read books on scheduling, attended seminars, even practiced scheduling before. Honestly, I don’t need to learn more about scheduling, I need to just do it.

Acquiring information is so much easier than acting on what you know you need to do.

Markedly, there are times to acquire new skills, new information. In our world, though, resources are rarely the issue. Analysis paralysis is the more serious problem.

So, where do you need to act?

NCHE: “Read to your Children!” (An Interview with Sarita Holzmann of Sonlight curriculum)

Certainly one of the highlights of today at NCHE was the chance to talk for a few minutes with the founder and president of Sonlight curriculum, Sarita Holzmann.

In all the years that we have been going to conference, this is the first year that she has attended. Interestingly enough, when I mentioned that fact, she answered that this conference is her fourth one …. EVER. I was surprised to hear that. She mentioned that when her kids were younger, she wanted to be home with them. Time since then has been spent on the development and improvement of Sonlight materials. (On a sidenote: This year, Sonlight is introducing a new round of improvements, the first major ones since 1997.)

To begin, I inquired what Sarita is reading these days. She mentioned just starting a book about God and politics, which sounds very timely for this election year. The other book that she mentioned was one called Truth in Transformation (Mangalwadi). As she described it, the book is about an Indian author’s view of Western culture and how we view Truth, all told from a Christian perspective. It sounds like a fascinating read!

My second question was “What do you enjoy about coming to conferences?” She mentioned that getting to meet the families that are homeschooling and using Sonlight is definitely a highlight.

I continued by asking, “What do you wish young homeschoolers knew?” “Read aloud to your kids!” She quickly answered. “Read any style, any material!” Sarita suggested that we read every subject with our children. The second thing that she recommended was to look at alternative views and learn about them. There are some critics of Sonlight who have criticized their use of some books with controversial subjects. Sarita encouraged home educators to take these books and use them as a platform for discussion and instruction for their children on difficult subjects.

I wrapped up our talk with the most difficult question for any reader, “What are some of your favorite books for children?” Between us, we decided to go ahead and limit our span to the elementary years.

Her favorites include:

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (Taylor)

The House at Pooh Corner (Milne)

The Great Turkey Walk (Karr)

Twenty and Ten (Bishop/Joly)

Sarita impressed me as being down to earth and genuinely interested in both the quality books that her company promotes as well as the people who read them. A great combination for any homeschooler!


Click HERE to hear from Sarita herself about the heart behind Sonlight.

If you haven’t had the chance to learn more about Sonlight, I can highly recommend their quality living books. Click HERE for more information.

If you want to read one of my recent posts about reading a Sonlight book together as a family, click HERE.

NCHE: Book Fair Booty

We are winding down here in the Marriott tonight and all is quiet … because everyone is reading and drawing. What a sweet scene! Everyone is engrossed in the haul from the Book Fair.

What are we enjoying tonight?

The Lightlings by RC Sproul (from Grace and Truth Books, booth 149)

Drawing Pirates (from Usborne Books, booth 7)

The Story of Exploration by Anne Claybourne (from Usborne Books, booth 7)

Reformation Heroes by Diana Kleyn with Joel R. Beeke (from Grace and Truth Books, booth 149)

Not getting read currently, but packed to go home for school next year ….

Prima Latina (Memoria Press)

Singapore Math

Botany (Apologia)

Spelling Workout

Paper and notepads from Miller Pads & Paper

Explode the Code

If you have been to the Book Fair, what was your favorite find?

For a recent post with tips for navigating the Book Fair, click HERE.

NCHE: Preparing Believers Financially with Chuck Bentley


Chuck Bentley from Crown Financial Ministries


This year, there is quite a bit of diversity in the keynote speaking team at NCHE. We started off tonight with Chuck Bentley from Crown Financial Ministries.


I’m familiar with Chuck Bentley from having heard him on the radio and from watching some of his videos on the Crown website. (Click HERE to find out about audio resources from Crown.) He has been the topic of discussion in our house since he started warning of impending American financial ruin.


Now, I would readily admit that I think that there is a lot of truth in his warnings, especially to Christians, who are called by God to be stewards of His resources.  It seems that our people, along with our government, have fallen prey to their appetites for more things and less God.


Chuck came before this group of homeschoolers calling on us to live out a SALT plan. This is more fully outlined in his book, The S.A.L.T. Plan. He surveyed the famines in the Bible and concluded that they were used by the Lord for the purpose of saving, serving (God), ending self-reliance and activating the people of God to serve others.


How would this look in our age? Chuck suggested that Christians give 10% of their income, put 10% toward debt or investment and save 20% of their income.  This would put Believers in a place to not only be prepared for their own times of “famine” but also for a time when our society might be suffering. Our abundance would then be used to bless those around us who would be in need.


Now, this would be quite a challenge for our family, but I can easily see that if we did, it would put us in a tremendous place of security. This financial security would free us to follow and act on God’s guidance in ways that we cannot currently.


Chuck will be speaking in various forms here at the conference. For his information, click HERE.

More to come tomorrow as we have a full day of NCHE seminars and speakers!


Helpful Links:

NCHE Conference

NCHE Book Fair

NCHE Conference Speakers

NCHE Conference Seminars

NCHE: Ideas for Capturing Learning from Susan Chrisman

Susan Chrisman of Lifelong Learners

How DO you really know what your children know?

When you use a myriad of living books around your house, reading is not the problem. Comprehension can be an entirely different thing.

I found Susan Chrisman’s talk on “How to Know what your Child Really Knows” to be incredibly helpful. Her seminar was full of practical and hands-on approaches to encouraging your children to communicate what they are learning.

Specifically, for the 6 and under crowd she encouraged playing “The Observation Game.” Have your child look at a view intently for a short period. After the given time, have them turn around and then tell you what they saw in as much detail as possible.  This will help them develop their observation and detail skills, both of which are key in this early stage of life. I have also seen this suggested for studying great works of art.

Here are some of the other ideas for encouraging narration for this age: (6  -9 yr.)

  • Draw a picture or a map
  • Act out a story
  • Build a Lego scene and reenact
  • Act Out
  • Ask your student “Tell me what you know ….”
  • Have them list 6 things that they think YOU should know
  • Pass a bean bag to tell the story (tell one piece then have your student provide the next and back)
  • Write down a dictation from your student
  • Make a timeline of figures or characters
  • Make a diorama of the concept/idea/setting/story
  • Teach the concept to a sibling
  • Have children bring Dad up to date on what they are reading

One of the most helpful ideas that I took away from Susan’s talk was a “Narration Cube”. This cube has on its sides the words (or pictures) for plot, setting, your favorite part, theme, characters, and compare/contrast. Roll this dice and ask your student to provide the given information for a reading. You could play this daily or once a week to help them start forming their thoughts on a given book or subject. I know that we will definitely make one of these over the summer to use in our school for the Fall.

For more information on Susan Chrisman, check out her Lifelong Learners website.

If you’re in the area, Susan will be speaking at other seminars here at NCHE this weekend.  For more info on her talks, click HERE.

What a great start to this year’s conference!

Helpful Links:

NCHE Conference

NCHE Book Fair

NCHE Conference Speakers

NCHE Conference Seminars

We’re on our Way to NCHE!


We’re loading up the car, getting little one settled with Grandma (Thank you!!) and heading out to Winston-Salem!

Start looking for LIVE updates later today from the Conference!

Conference Sneak Peek: 10 Tips for Navigating the Book Fair

I’m excited to start today by talking about the upcoming NCHE Conference. (See the bottom for info on the details of the conference!)

One of the most exciting, and yet challenging, parts of the conference is the Book Fair. Vendors from around the country come together with all of their finest books, hands-on tools, and resources for every part of homeschooling, as well as parenting and family. It’s an incredible place! It’s also overwhelming.

So, here is some wisdom from one who has been there on how to navigate the Conference Book Fair successfully ….

10 Tips for Navigating the Book Fair:

1. Go with a list.

Plan out what you will need before you set foot in that convention center. Even if it’s general like “Spelling Curriculum” and has two or three kinds that you want to look at. Type or print that list and have it in hand as you walk through the doors.

2. Visit the first time but don’t buy.

I never buy anything the first time I go in to the Book Fair. My husband and I try discuss items that we see before we purchase. This helps me get over the mental “high” of the situation.

3. Think about transportation.

Once you buy those books, you are going to have to cart them around with you, so plan out WHEN you are going to buy items, especially heavy textbooks. You also have to consider when you will return to your car/room. After my first conference, I learned to bring a rolling square cart that I picked up at Office Depot ($20) for purchases. I don’t use it for the whole conference, but just for that shopping trip.

4. Pay with debit/cash … Don’t use Credit Cards.

It’s hard to bridle the wild mustang of credit cards at the Book Fair. Paying with cash or with a debit card will keep your spending in check.

5. Keep receipts.

Keep your receipts and at the end of the day, total up how much you spent. It’s good to keep an eye on how much money you are spending on your schooling. It’s easy to not be aware of how much you really spend and what does to the rest of your budget at home.

6. Do I need this material this year?

I know that I have been guilty of shopping for year’s ahead. It goes like this … I see a great book. We don’t need it this year, but we’ll need it … in the future, so I pounce. Then, I have to get it home, store it, and then remember to use it when the time comes. Not a good idea! Focus your spending on this coming year. Jot down notes for the future and put them in a file at home that you can pull out for conference next year!

7. Don’t buy for your ideal.

Too often, I shop with a wishful heart of what life might be like. Think about how this material would really work out in your home. Does it fit your children’s personalities? Is it doable with the stage of life that you are in? Where will it live at home? It’s better to make it work in reality than in fantasy homeschool world. :)

8. Pick up catalogs and contact info for vendors.

Make sure that you pick up catalogs, flyers, and business cards of those companies that you are interested in. When you get home and have a question, it’s great to be able to find the phone number or website easily. Also, picking up info doesn’t cost you any money. If you’re not completely sure, get their info and wait to get home before you make a purchase.

9. Take a gallon size ziploc bag or file for those papers.

Plan to pack and take a gallon size baggie or file to hold all those papers as you cruise through the Book Fair. Otherwise, you end up having all of these pieces of paper, all different sizes in your pockets, purse, bag, shoes, etc.

10. Enjoy the conference, not just the Book Fair!

There is always a point when you hit overload and need to step away from the booths. The Book Fair is intended to be a resource, not a gauntlet. Make sure that you don’t get burned out by spending all of your time there.

A few questions that ask yourself:

What need does this material meet?

Did I feel this need before the conference?

How will I feel about sharing this purchase with my husband (If I can’t talk freely about it with him, then maybe we don’t really need it.)

Do I have something like this at home?

Who do I know that uses this that I can talk to?

Is there any price motivation for buying here at conference? (Sometimes there is a book fair “sale” price, sometimes not.)

If money is limited, can I purchase this used back at home?

What tips would you add? 

What are your goals for conference ?

Helpful Links:

NCHE Conference

NCHE Book Fair

NCHE Conference Speakers

NCHE Conference Seminars

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