I haven't done the Blog Cruise in recent weeks, and I've missed it :\ I enjoy answering the questions and reading the responses from other members.

This week's question is "If you didn't homeschool, what would you DREAM of doing?"

It's funny, this is not an easy question for me to answer. I have a few thoughts, but nothing I would imagine doing...mostly because I can't imagine NOT homeschooling. My kids are so important to me and I 100% believe that The Lord has homeschooling in His plan for my life. Although I am an RN, that is just a side note to my being a mom and wife: which is the way it's supposed to, right?

So to answer this question, I'm going to kind of look at it from the point of view that when my kids grow up and I no longer homeschool, what would I dream of. In that regard, I might go back to school to get my Nurse Practitioner or Medical School. But I hesitate to make any decision on that, since I don't really know what I want to do when I grow up, lol. I've also thought about becoming a Vet, since I love animals. But then, maybe a marriage/family christian counselor...you see, this is why I don't know what to be when I grow up :)

Really, though, I place my life in The Lord's hands and know that He has a plan for me and wherever He needs me to go, I want to go.

So now thinking about what I would do when I'm not homeschoooling. I would enjoy travelling around. There are so many beautiful places in this world. The Lord's creations are incredible and I would love to see them all. But I would also love to take my kids with us.

I think part of the issue here is that homeschooling has become such a huge part of who I am that I can't imagine myself without it. Not yet anyways. My DS will graduate in a few years and then we shall see. It's not about money or fame, or anything like that. None of that really intrigues me, well maybe a little, lol.

So what about you, what would you dream of doing if you didn't homeschool? Leave me a comment and let me know.

For other TOS members answers to this Blog Cruise question, hop on over to the TOS Cruise Site.

AND DON'T FORGET: If you're interested in winning a copy of the 1599 Geneva Bible, scroll down to the contest and enter. You only have until April 29th :)

Until tomorrow, may The Lord bless you and guide you.

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:19

This week's Blog Cruise question is an interesting topic. One of the common questions that is asked of homeschoolers is "Aren't you afraid they won't know how to handle life when they grow up?" Usually this refers to socialization (yes, that sticky word) and all that happens in the world. It's strange how the world sees homeschoolers and what the stereotypes are. Some think that kids are secluded and isolated and the only interaction with the world is church. And others might understand the basics but still think that the kids (homeschooled) are unsocialized and will be unable to interact appropriately. 

Well, this week's question is: "How do you incorporate life skills into your homeschool routine?"

Like I said, this question is interesting. I'm not sure if all homeschool moms and dads think about this subject, but it is a point of contention sometimes. Every year while deciding on curriculum for the new school year, I try to find that perfect life skills book. I've bought a few, used a few, not used more, and so on. I finally figured out that we really do teach life skills, and not usually from a book! While growing up, we parents learned many life lessons. These lessons can help us to teach our children the necessary things in life. Like The Lord instructed in Deuteronomy, teach your children in the morning, when your walking, or just sitting. The Lord knows all things, and throughout the bible He instructs us on those truths.

Like I said, in our home, life skills are taught; everyday even. From cleaning to cooking to money management, I try to teach the kids skills that they will need when they're on their own. We've had so much fun with home ec and cooking. This year my DD has really developed a liking for it. She scans the internet for good recipes or watches Rachael Ray or the Kitchen Boss for ideas. It's been a lot of fun trying different meals. We've all been trying to eat healthier so trying to recipes can be challenging. Making sure there is not too much fat or sodium or carb's...it's CRAZY! But it's fun. We especially like baking (nice diet, right, lol). But really, there are so many great dessert recipes or baking ideas. I've been happy that my DD actually likes it. There was a time in the not so distant past, that she couldn't figure out how to open a can. She is so funny sometimes. She can think so far out of the box on some things, and others, if it's not right in front of her, she can't see it. So with cooking and cleaning, she is able to develop a few critical thinking skills. She is improving and I'm enjoying being with her as she "expands her horizons". My DS has always enjoyed cooking. I can easily incorporate math lessons into it by having him use the measuring cups and reading lessons by having him tell me what the next ingredient is. 

Other life skills, like managing money or organization, are also worked on everyday. Organizing our time is a priority, as it is for many homeschool families. Without some type of organization, schoolwork will fall behind and chaos soon consumes the day. Although, I don't mind a little chaos, it makes life interesting... Managing money is so important in this day and age. Prices have increased, gas is going up more and more everyday and the economy is rapidly declining despite what some what us to believe. And though I know it will eventually improve and that God holds all things in His hands and we do not need to worry, I still want them prepared. So they are included in the decision making about purchasing certain things, vacations, church tithing, etc. If we are shopping and they (usually DS) want something, I might say "you can get it if you pay for it out of your money". It is quickly decided that the item is not so important afterall. I think that all children should understand the value of money, or lack of. And what it means to budget and not overspend. I'm not saying my DH and I haven't been in rough situations before because of money, but we've learned and The Lord has guided us to make wise decisions now. I want my children to be prepared for the decisions they'll have to make someday.

These are just a few skills that I believe are important "life skills". There are more, and each day another might pop up, but what's important is that we stand true to the responsibility that we took on when we became parents: raising our children to love The Lord and follow Him. Through Him, we will be given the wisdom and love necessary to raise our children so that they will be prepared to be adults when the time comes. But until then, just enjoy your children and trust that He has given YOU the ability to train up your child.

How do you teach your children life skills? Leave me a comment and/or a link. And be sure to check out the other members responses. I welcome you to come back each week to read my answer, take a look at theirs, and ponder what yours might be. I hope this offers you an interesting read or maybe an encouraging word.
Next week's question: "How do you teach the challenging and advanced subjects if you struggle with them yourself?

Train up a child in the way that he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

It's time for my next Blog Cruise question and answer.

An into to the Blog Cruise: There are many of us in the TOS Crew that participate in this cruise and I welcome you to come back each week to read my answer, take a look at theirs, and ponder what yours might be. I hope this offers you an interesting read or maybe an encouraging word.
This week's question: Homeschool Conventions - Do you attend, what are the benefits, pitfalls, etc.?

In NY we have a wonderful annual homeschool convention that LEAH puts together. LEAH, or Loving Education at Home, is the main NYS Homeschool Organization; then there is HSLDA, which many of you are familiar with. 

Even though we have homeschooled since our oldest started school (she's 15 now), we did not attend our first convention until 2009. I could not believe what we had been missing!  The was so much there: curriculum, extras, seminars, support. It was incredible. We have even been members of LEAH since moving to NY in 2002. And we were friends with one of the main organizers; but didn't even know it!! How not so smart is that? :-/

I will say that part of the reason we didn't go is that it seemed to fall on the weekend I worked for a few years in a row. But that really isn't an excuse, especially since the convention runs Thursday - Saturday.

Anywho...now that we have started going, we do not plan on missing another. Like I said, there is more there than you could imagine. And though I had seen some of the curriculum online, to be able to see it in person is MUCH better. It gives you a hands on perspective of each book allowing you to make a decision based on all the information, rather than just a brief description. It's like informed consent.  You wouldn't make a medical decision without all of the information possible, so why risk your child's education on a few sentence summary when you can have most to all of it at a convention. The rep's from the many companies that are present in the vending hall are extremely knowledgeable, too. If they can't answer your questions right then, they will find the answers and get back to you. 

It's not just individual companies that are demonstrating either. There are vendors that sell various types of educational supplies, too. From curriculum, to games, to accessories. Some even sell curriculum from companies that are also set up, which gives you an opportunity to find the best price. The vendor's hall is a place that is crowded, noisy, and a tight fit, but it is sooo worth it! You really can save quite a bit there. And if you're "just looking", you can sometimes get special discount codes for future online purchases. There are also vendors that sell previously used products. These can come with a huge discount. Like buying a car: the minute it drives off the lot, the price goes down. I love deals so saving money is probably one of the top 2 reasons I like to go to the convention. 

The other of the top 2 reasons is the opportunity to hear different speakers. Most of them have written books on a specific homeschool/family/special needs topic and are discussing that. There is a certain theme every year to the convention, and the speakers usually fit into that theme. There is also a Teen Track that allows teens (and younger) a chance to listen to speakers that are specifically talking to them, about a subject that applies to them, not about them. I have enjoyed the teen seminars, too. They are informational and encouraging; that's a big plus. 

Over the course of the convention, there are vendors that will give an informational class on their product. You can pick which you would like to sit in on, if desired. This gives you even more information on a product you might be considering. I saw a Rosetta Stone demonstration last year and it enlightened me to how great their product truly is. I, of course, purchased it since there was a "can't pass it up" deal. 

On the Saturday of the convention, we are fortunate to be able to have a graduation ceremony for any NYS homeschool senior that wants to participate. It's a fantastic ceremony that brings together friends and family for this momentous occasion. 

I do want to add in a couple of "pitfalls" to going.  Like I said above, a convention is crowded and noisy. There are a lot of people trying to do just what you are doing; finding curriculum at a good price. It also can be quite overwhelming. Seeing all of the curriculum from the many vendors set up can make your head spin. You will need to try and have a plan: what you need, what you want, how much you're willing to spend. I think the latter is the most important thing to remember. You can easily overspend your budget if you're not careful. But I still think it's worth it to try a convention for yourself. Just be prepared.

There is a ton more I could say about the NYS LEAH Convention, but I think the best thing is for YOU to find your local or state convention and try to attend. I know you will be glad you did.  

So how about you? Have you attended a convention? What is your opinion or experience? Leave me a comment to let me know.

To read the other crew member's answers click on the button below. Thanks for reading!! :)
Hello All. I can't believe it's been a week and a half since I posted anything. What's up with that? Well, unfortunately, things have been crazy around here. Between me working and all of the running around, I haven't had much time to get online. Normally this isn't a big issue, but adding in as much stuff as we did last week made it really busy around here. So I apologize to all of my readers about the delay. 

I haven't done the Blog Cruise in a couple of weeks either, so I would like to add in the links for any of you that the topics might apply to :-)

Homeschooling Special Needs Kids: "How do you juggle homeschooling a child with special needs, therapy, etc.". There is a lot of information available for you if this is an area that applies to your home. These are the links of the members that wrote a blog about this. 
Wendy @ Life at Rossmont writes The Juggling Act: Homeschooling and Special Needs.
SisterTipster @ Telln’ It! says SisterT’s Talkn’ About HSing and Appointments.
Kimberly @ Clever Title TBA details Taking my Daughter to the Proctologist.
Betty @ Peace Creek on the Prairie explains Homeschool Sanity in the Special Needs Homeschool Family.
Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World is Juggling Multiple Kids with Special Needs.
Kimberly @ Homeschooling in Nova Scotia discussesHomeschooling Your Special Needs Child.
Penny @ Homeschooling, Autism, & “Stuff” writes Homeschooling + Special Needs.

The next one I missed, and had planned on writing since both of my kids fall into this category, lol, is about teaching the easily distracted child. These are the links:

Jill @ ClarkClan Craziness writes Terrific and Trying – All at the same Time.
SisterTipster @ Telln’ It!  shares SisterT’s Talkn’ About HSing the Wiggly-Squirmy KID!
Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool says Who?  What?  Where?  Did You Say Something?
Vickie @ Tumbleweed News discusses Highly distractible child – disability or gift?
Laura O @ Day by Day in our World writes Help! My child has ants in their pants or roaming eyes!
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews details Teaching the Distracted Child.
Rodna @ Training Children up for Christ has advice for Teaching your highly active boy.
Jodi @ The Homeschool Desk writes Keeping the mind and hands busy…
Next I want to tell you about some upcoming reviews I am doing. I'll be posting the reviews later this month.

Apologia's "Who Is God" 3/15
Big IQ Kids online site 3/25
Classical Academic Press' Latin Alive 3/30

Each of these are very good products and look forward to telling you about them. I hope you'll come back to read about them.

Lastly, I'm going to start a 30 day challenge for myself and this blog. I am going to try (really hard) to post everyday. I have some running thoughts about what I'll be posting, but if you have any ideas about what you'd like to see, learn about, or have fun with, leave me a comment and let me know.

Thanks to all of you. My challenge starts tomorrow I with God's grace, I will complete my goal ;-)
It's time for my next Blog Cruise question and answer. There are many of us in the TOS Crew that participate in this cruise and I welcome you to come back each week to read my answer, take a look at theirs, and ponder what yours might be. I hope this offers you an interesting read or maybe an encouraging word.
This week's question: How to homeschool while pregnant or with a new baby? 

For everyone that knows me, you know that I do not have a new baby nor am I pregnant. My 2 are 10yo & 15yo., but, if I can remember from long, long ago, when I first starting homeschooling my daughter, my son was just an infant. So I will answer this question based on that, but more importantly, I will direct you to the others that are answering this question, that may be currently in the midst of pregnancy or babyhood :)

Homeschooling isn't easy, as you probably already have guessed, or know. But it is so worth it! When my DS was a baby, my DD was in kindergarten. Now this grade is relatively easy, compared to her current one, 11th grade, but there were some aspects that weren't so easy. Since my DH wasn't 100% on board with homeschooling yet, I spent countless hours, it seems, trying to research and make sure I was doing everything right. Well...that is an impossibility since I am only one person, and human. But it wasn't that bad. Because my DD had started reading books by age 4 and was doing 2nd grade math in kindergarten, there was nothing ordinary about her curriculum. We dabbled in books from K-2nd grade. So this was a little stressful, just trying to figure it all. 

And in comes baby...My DS was not a sleeper by any stretch of the imagination. He would not sleep in a bassinet or crib at night, so he was up much of the time. During the day he would take naps, but was, and is, an extremely light sleeper and any noise woke him easily. So while my DD and I were attempting to get school work done, he would usually be right near by, needing some attention. My DD was great about it, but did need to have my focus on her, too. It was difficult for her to concentrate if he was crying, so we had to try and find ways to entertain him while she was doing something. This wasn't easy. It's funny remembering this, and realizing my DS is still very much like that now. Much of my attention is given to him unless he is distracted with something else.

Now, the question was HOW to homeschool in this situation. Prayer will always be one of my top answers as God has ALL of the answers. But I will also have another. I think the biggest thing I did was to prepare ahead and try to be organized. Know what was going to be happening for the day and plan around it for the baby. If you are pregnant, you will need extra rest. So try to incorporate a nap time or quiet time. Movies or crafts are a good time to be able to close your eyes (as long as there are no scissors or hot glue guns being used) for a few minutes. Sometimes it's not how long you can sleep but just that you do sleep. Just closing your eyes for 15 min can offer your body comfort and the rest it needs. Remember that you do not have to do everything everyday. Stay focused on the task at hand and allow flexibility in your schedule. You will have days that seem impossible, so take a break. Everyone needs it once in a while. If the baby is irritable or sick, your student is probably not feeling off, too, so do just the bare necessities. If your student is older and more autonomous, let him spend some time in his room doing work, instead of underfoot. It'll be good for both of you.

So, there you have it. A basic answer to this week's question. What is your answer? For more answers from those that might be experiencing it right now, cruise on over to the Blog Cruise and check out their sites. Thanks for reading and please come back for next week's question: What is it like homeschooling an only child? 
How Do You NOT Go Crazy Doing All of That?

Last week I posted my maiden blog as a participant in the TOS Crew's weekly Blog Cruise The Blog Cruise presents each of us with a question related to homeschooling and we blog our answer. I welcome you to come back each week to read my answer, take a look at theirs, and ponder what yours might be. I hope this offers you an interesting read or maybe an encouraging word.
This week's question: How Do You Avoid Burn-Out?

This question is directly related to last week's: How do you juggle working either in the home or outside the home and homeschooling? And my answer is very similar, too. Basically you have to trust The Lord and "cast your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you, He will never let the righteous fall" (Psalm 55:22). He is always with us, all we have to do is ask Him. So often we get ourselves into stressful situations and frustrations happen.  Because of our free will, The Lord will not make us follow Him (though I often feel a gentle nudge in the right direction, lol). He is waiting for us to realize that we are not in control and turn to Him. The answer that comes may not be the exact one we're looking for (yes for yes or no for no), but He will always give an answer. 

Today, I was pushed close to burn-out, temporarily. Why, you ask. Well, this was my weekend to work, so I worked Fri, Sat, & Sun for a total of 32hrs (12-12-8). Today I needed to get some sleep and then help the kids finish up with their speeches, due today.  The kids are both not feeling well, which is difficult in itself, then I typed this entire post, clicked to open a new tab to get a link, and thought that I was on that new tab when I typed in a website. Turns out, I was on this page, and totally deleted my entire work when it went to the next page. Ugh!! I had to leave for speech class and didn't have time to retype. So by the time I got home, I forgot much of what I was thinking. Ugh, again!! It is so frustrating. But with this came a revelation of sorts: to avoid burn-out, don't let the computer get the best of you. Just take a deep breath, and move on. :-) So now on to the rest of my answer - what I can remember.

With homeschooling, burn-out can happen easily, if we're not careful. The schoolwork, the housework, the activities...our schedules get weighed down and this seems to leave no time to relax. Frustrations run high when there are many tasks to be completed in a day, at the same time; trying to help with school when the house has to get cleaned, writing an entire post before  speech class only to have the computer wipe it all away and knowing there isn't time to do it again; making sure speeches are complete before 5min to leave time for speech class; getting quarterly's done and submitted on time. It can be crazy if you let it.  What we do to try and avoid any impending burn-out is to take a break, relax, and do the proverbial smelling of the roses. We have to. Sometimes this means a short break, and sometimes it's more. I like to clean when I'm frustrated. It seems to relax me. Maybe it comes from knowing that I'm actually accomplishing something and not just spinning my wheels. The kids and I will often take the day and do Home Ec. We all enjoy baking or searching the web for interesting recipes to try for dinner. We also may just stop and play a board game.

As a family, we like to go to the movies, go hiking on our property (when it's warm enough), or go to a local show. Around Central NY, we are fortunate to have the NYS Fair Grounds. Each season they offer different shows that we may go to; the RV show, Boat Show, or Sportsman show. This weekend, they had the Northeast Sportsman Show. We went and really enjoyed it. For under $10/person, we were able to see a live black bear show, view RV's and boats, check out various vendors selling applicable merchandise, and see some wildlife. There was an organization called Talon's Birds of Prey. They rescue birds of prey that have been injured or are in need of a better situation. They had hawks, a falcon, and 2 owls. One of the owls was a European Eagle Owl. Her name was Big Mama, and we got to take our picture with her. What's best is that I got to hold her!!
So what do we do to avoid burn out? We relax and enjoy the many blessings The Lord has given us. Praying is another necessity to avoid burn-out. Prayer provides you with quiet time just between you and The Lord. You can open your heart to Him, letting Him know how you are feeling. He already knows, but telling Him reinforces your trust in Him. The Lord should be your best friend. We need to be able to tell Him everything without hesitation. Like I said, He already knows your heart and your sin. Trying to hide it from Him is like playing peek-a-boo with a child. You are still there even though your eyes are covered. Hiding yourself from The Lord only increases your stress. Trusting Him enough to tell Him brings peace to you in all situations.

This is my answer for this question, to read more answers, cruise on over to the TOS Crew's Blog Cruise buy clicking the link below.
Thanks for reading. Please come back next week for the next question: How to homeschool while pregnant or with a new baby?
Are you a homeschool parent & have heard this when you tell someone what you do?

I ask this question because I am joining the Blog Cruise with my fellow TOS crew members. This Blog Cruise is just what as the name says: a cruise that takes you to participating blogs. Each week there will be a homeschool question posed, and I will answer, along with my crewmates. I welcome you to come back each week to read my answer, take a look at their answers, and ponder what yours might be. I hope this offers you an interesting read or maybe an encouraging word.
The question this week: How do you juggle working either in the home or outside the home and homeschooling?
It seems like I hear this question ALOT. I'm an RN and work just part-time (80 hours a month) in a pediatric emergency room. I love what I do there, but as I tell anyone who asks, my job does not define me, The Lord does; and my family comes first. I am also an on-call SANE, picking up 60 hours a month (only go if I get called in). That didn't seem like much when I decided to train for it, but it can be when added on to my regular working schedule, lol.

On top of my work schedule, I also teach the speech portion of our NCFCA club on Monday nights. Then there are the kids dance lessons...music lessons...monthly soccer board meetings (somehow was nominated as the Safety Director for our local AYSO)...appointments...training...school (what's that, they're supposed to do schoolwork, too?)...WOW! How do I do it, :O 
That's More Like It :)
Ahem, back to reality. I will start right out by saying that the only way I can manage this is by the grace of God, really. He gives me the strength I need, especially on those never-ending days. He also guides me to where I should be and what is most important. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." I know that He is in full control of my life and that He has a plan for me, as well as my family. Right now we are here, with a somewhat chaotic schedule, but I trust in Him and His promises and know that wherever He leads me, He will also provide all that is needed to get through it. 

One of the ways that I manage my day is to have my trusty calendar with me AT ALL TIMES!! My google calendar is connected to my Droid's calendar. My phone gives me a reminder of the day and notifies me during the hour of the scheduled event. Then gmail sends a msg to my inbox, which comes directly to my Droid, too. We also have a magnetic calendar that the kids put together each month and it hangs on a wall in our livingroom. And for my husband, I have a dry erase weekly board on the 'fridge so that he knows what's going on throughout the week; not that he always looks, lol. With all the calendars around, it may seem like I'm a little OCD and very organized. I laugh, hahaha, at the thought  ;-) The calendars are because I am NOT organized and my brain starts to get a little overwhelmed with an actual "to do list".

As far as homeschooling, which is the intent of this question, we typically get up in the morning, have breakfast, and try to get the work done. If we have an appt or something, we get what we can done before hand, maybe take some work with us, and then finish when we get home. I have been homeschooling for 11yrs now and have come to the realization that the work will get done, even if it's later rather than sooner. My kids never cease to amaze me with their ability to learn so much despite a busy day or week. Sometimes I think we are probably unschoolers, but we're mostly just eclectic homeschoolers. We learn on the go, with curriculum that allows us to do that. Being a member of the TOS Crew has offered us different ideas for curriculum, too. This has been wonderful!! Because I work nights, I try to work nights that will not interfere too much with our at home schedule. If I do work the night before and need to sleep, the kids will typically do some basic school work and then I have them do crafts or other projects that won't require me to be right next to them. I'm always available to them if they need me while I'm sleeping, This makes it hard, sometimes, but we seem to have the system down, and again, I know that The Lord is with us ALWAYS, and I know that the work will get done.

Do we have bad days? Of course. Sometimes it's just me or sometimes it's my son or my daughter. If it's just one of us that's having a bad day, I adjust what needs to be done for that person. I can often just change things up a little or skip the problem subject and things go smoother. But then there are those days that we are all crazed and just need a break. So...we take one. We'll go to the park and do a nature study, go biking or walking, or something like that. Homeschooling doesn't have to be all school and no fun. Although they have to get their work done, there are many other aspects to learning besides just textbook work. This is one of the reasons we homeschool, right?!

So, how do I juggle working and homeschool? Very carefully. Everyday is different and often unexpected. If I had a strict schedule that was unchangeable, we would never have made it this far. For any newbies at homeschooling, my advise: relax and enjoy it, let your kids enjoy it. Don't worry so much about all the paperwork, remember, "little by little, inch by inch" is the only way it will get done. Trust The Lord & He will provide all of your needs. Seek Him always & give your concerns to Him. As Paul wrote to the Philippians (4:6-7), "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

For read more answers to this question, cruise on over to the TOS Crew's Blog Cruise buy clicking the link below.
Thanks for reading. And remember, I plan to take the Blog Cruise weekly. Until next time...