Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ode to Homeschool Blogs

When I began homeschooling, there were only a few places I could go to learn about other homeschooling families. I had subscriptions to The Moore Report and The Teaching Home; my favorite parts of both were the letters from other homeschooling families that described their lives. I could not get enough of that stuff! It was comforting to know there were people like us out there somewhere. I got lots of ideas for activities and resources from those letters.

Fast-forward twenty years. Now there are not only scads of wonderful homeschool magazines out there, but there are blogs! I love blogs by homeschooling parents because they're real. People are on their best behavior in a magazine article, but a blogger will admit to you that she spent this morning locked in the bathroom crying because of exhaustion or PMS, while her still-pajamaed children watched DVDs. She'll ask people to pray for her because she needs more patience with her kids lately, or because there isn't enough money left at the end of the month. And she'll rejoice that her son learned to read or her daughter made dinner all by herself. You, of course, will rejoice with her; that victory is all the sweeter because you were there for her hard times.

That's why I regularly share links to the weekly Carnival of Homeschooling. Where else can you get up-to-the-minute reports on what's going on with homeschooling families? This week's Carnival, put together by Mom Is Teaching, is extra special, because it is the 100th edition. As always, there's lots of good stuff there.

I've been so busy lately that I neglected to mention last week's Carnival. (I hope you know you can always go back to a carnival; all you need is the link.) Last week's carnival was so good! It included a post from April about how homeschooling on a single income can actually make you more financially secure, a post from a American homeschooling single mom living in France who shares frugal tips for movie buffs, and ChristineMM's post about children with a sense of entitlement, as illustrated by the school bus of today. No, I did not give you links to those'll have to go to last week's Carnival and find them yourself! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is There A Novelist in the House?......Yes!

Dd16 reached a milestone over the weekend; she completed her novel. As I posted a few weeks ago, she joined in with thousands of others competing in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Participants commit to writing a novel during the month of November; the finished novel must contain at least 50,000 words.

Dd16 finished her novel six days before the deadline, though she had not written steadily throughout the month. She actually got bogged down about a week in, missed a few days, and then decided she was going to finish after all, which meant she had to write more than the suggested daily average of nearly 1700 words to reach the goal of a completed novel by November 30.

She is now editing her work. When she’s done, I will also take a look at it (with my infamous red pen), and then we’ll have a copy printed for her. She hasn’t figured out her cover design yet, but shot the author photo herself several days ago :)

Her dad and I are very proud of her for reaching her goal, but her motivation came from within, not from us, and I think that’s something I should emphasize. People sometimes ask me, “How do you get your child to study such-and-such (i.e., a school subject most kids dislike.)” We did not suggest that she participate in NaNoWriMo. It was her idea, one which she’s had before but never pursued until this year. We did not bug her to do this.

Still, despite her motivation to write, I sometimes have to provide her with tools to keep her going. For example, while she always loved to write, she only wanted to write fiction stories she conceived. So I sometimes require her to write essays and other pieces that she’s not motivated to write, in order to develop her talent. There’s a fine balance between developing her skills and pushing her to learn something; I walk that line all the time. Believe me, when I cross it, she lets me know!

Noticing her talent and her desire, I’ve also used resources that I did not use with my older two kids when teaching them to write. For example, much of the plotting of her new novel came from what she learned in a book we used in her studies last year, How to Write a Story by Lee Roddy. When she first began reading that book, she felt it would not be helpful to her. But I encouraged her to stay with it for a while, and sure enough, as she began to relate to some of Roddy’s comments about writing, she took his advice to heart, and it has helped her a lot.

The three of us (dd, her dad and I) are looking into a writing program from the Christian Writer’s Guild for her to use as she finishes high school over the next 18 months or so. Some of the lessons will be rehash for her, but there’s a lot there she can still learn. Whether she decides to pursue writing as a career instead of a hobby, however, will be up to her.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home Economics

For the first time in many years (and despite my recommendation in "A Simple Homeschool Thanksgiving,") we did school this week, because we're trying to follow the Wisconsin state school schedule. On Monday and Tuesday, we studied the usual subjects. But today we had Home Economics.

Dd16 made a cheese ball, garlic cream cheese potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry/apple casserole and fresh cranberry/orange relish for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner. Dsds14 assisted in the kitchen during our morning session, and made chocolate cherry cake by himself (with supervision) this afternoon. He was especially interested in making the cake because he does not like pumpkin pie, even if it's homemade.

It may sound like we're planning on having many people over tomorrow, but there will just be five of us. However, we love leftovers, and I especially love not having to cook for a few days after Thanksgiving.

Hope you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

72 Hours

Just a little over 72 hours until it's time to put the turkey in the oven. In past years, I spent the week getting ready for guests on Thanksgiving. But this year it will be just five of us; the four who just moved here and our daughter coming up from her new home 45 minutes away. (We'll be heading back to IL for Christmas, but staying here for Thanksgiving.) Meanwhile our son and his bride will be eating turkey with his in-laws in St. Louis.

It's no big deal to cook for five, especially since our vegetarian daughter will be bringing her tofurkey. I'm not stressing, and I'm not preparing nearly as much food as I did when we had all the family over in the past. But if you're in charge of the turkey dinner this week, and are expecting a crowd of relatives to descend on you soon, I highly recommend taking the week off of school to get ready. That's how I used to survive Thanksgiving. I wrote about it here: "A Simple Homeschool Thanksgiving."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's True: Time Flies

I don't know where this week has gone. It seems like since we moved, time sped up on us. Each day just flies by. I think it's because there's so much to do:
We homeschool five days a week.
I work every afternoon. Right now I'm working steadily on the print edition of The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling; it's twice the size of the eBook, so it's taking a while.
We're working to combine the contents of two storage units into one. (ugh!)
And people around here still need to eat and have clean clothes on a regular basis.
This week I even forgot to check out the Carnival of Homeschooling until just now--well worth the time, btw.
We're also trying to make time to relax a bit in the evenings. Lately dh, dd16 and I have been enjoying Nero Wolfe DVDs. Since we only get one channel on the tv, we're watching more DVDs than ever.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will She Make Her Goal?

This month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when aspiring writers accept the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month (that means writing an average of 1,667 words per day). Winners get the satisfaction of knowing they wrote a novel.

Dd16, who has written several novels in her short life already, decided to tackle NaNoWriMo this year, and despite a few days of writer's block, has written 13,500 words so far. She tells me she must up her daily average to about 2,000 words to make the goal of 50,000 words total. This might be hard for some people, but since she has my genetics in her to balance her father's quiet demeanor, I'm thinking she'll pass 50K if she puts in a little time each day.

When she announced her goal to us last month, my dh said we should count her writing time as part of her school day, which makes sense. To sweeten the pot, we've told her that if she reaches her goal of 50,000 words and completes her novel, we'll have it printed at, where a single copy of a 200-page book will set us back a whopping $8.53. Seems like a reasonable price for such a good incentive. One catch, however: she has to submit her manuscript to my red pen first. Our older kids said I used it mercilessly on their work. It's true; that's why they're both good writers.

Friday, November 9, 2007

November Newsletter Now Online

Where can you find articles about:

being able to afford to stay home with your kids,
answering questions about homeschooling,
and getting ready for Thanksgiving when your children are home every day?

In this month's edition of "The Imperfect Homeschooler" newsletter!

The November issue just went out this afternoon, so check your email box; if you're not a subscriber yet, you'll find the complete current issue here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Check Out Homeschool U!

Homeschool U is the name of this week's Carnival of Homeschooling, hosted by Dana of Principled Discovery. Looks like there's plenty of course offerings for both the newbie homeschooler and the veteran, plus everyone in between...enjoy!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dream Class List

Barb the Evil Genius has tagged me: I'm supposed to come up with a list of 5-10 courses I'd want to take to fix my life, including one also chosen by the person who tagged me. Then I'm supposed to tag five more bloggers.

Hmmmm....the only thing I can think of that would help fix my life would be going to Bible Study, so that has to be choice #1. Our move from Illinois to Wisconsin this summer took me away from the Tuesday night Bible study I'd been attending for 14 years, and I'm really missing it. It was a fantastic group led by our pastor's wife, who is a terrific teacher.

But many courses, while not fixing your life, can bring joy to it, so if I had my druthers, I think I'd enjoy:

A literature class where we'd study and discuss Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries.

An art history classes specifically about the work of Carl Larsson.

A quilting class where I can learn how to use a long-arm quilting machine.

I'd like to retake the typography class I took in college, because as a publisher, I'd appreciate it so much more now.

A cheesemaking class, something I read about in Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

And for a class to take with Barb TEG, I'd have to choose Fashion History, because it sounds so interesting!

I think I will tag Gena, Christine, Janet, Tami and Heather.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Parental Pressure Can Mean Failure

Betsy Hart makes a great point about not pushing kids and letting them just be who they are without pressure. Her kids are in school, but I think this also applies to homeschooled kids. In fact, raising "perfect" homeschooled kids is a very real pressure now that the word is getting out about how well most homeschooled kids are doing not just scholastically but in other activities as well.

Whether or not parents homeschool their children, they fail them when they fail to keep an eye on the big picture. As Ms. Hart puts it,

When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to heaven, that's great. But if I reverse that equation, I've failed them.