Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fancy Hands....To The Rescue!

Recently I told you about my new, rapturous love for Fancy Hands, the wonderful personal assistant service I discovered.

Earlier this month I had Fancy Hands do a variety of helpful things for me, including researching specific services with local dentists, business research, and more.

This morning before I even got out of bed I was asking myself, "What could Fancy Hands do for me today?"  After all, I still had 9 tasks available to have them do before my month is done.  (unused tasks don't roll over to the next month)  I remembered that my husband and I still haven't figured out what we want to do to celebrate our anniversary this weekend.  I decided to text Fancy Hands from my phone and ask for their help.  (they make it so easy to tell them what you need.  I can choose from typing in a request on their website, texting a request from their app, speaking a message to their app, or leave a voice mail on their phone line!) So without leaving the comfort of my bed I sent this:

My 22nd wedding anniversary is this Saturday, August 3. 
Could you help me figure out something fun or special to do that day? I'm interested in knowing about any special events, festivals, concerts, dances, etc in our general area. Perhaps within 2 hours or so of our home. Our zip code is xxxxx. The closest city is Lexington Kentucky.

I don't just want to go out to eat. I'd like to find something different.

We enjoy:

Craft and art fairs

Organic and local foods

Music of most types

Flea markets and secondhand sales



We probably wouldn't be interested in anything like bungee jumping or sky diving or hot air ballooning. My husband is recovering from open heart surgery, so nothing too strenuous. (Light hiking could be ok)

I don't think we can do an overnight. It would have to be limited to just Saturday.We don't have a huge budget for this. We'd be more likely to enjoy doing a few lower-cost items throughout the day.

In about an hour I had this lovely, organized list waiting for me.  Eureka!
Hello Erica, 
The first six events listed below were found at  

Saturday Aug 3, 2013 
The Bluegrass Farmers Market provides 100% locally grown/produced products. They grow, raise, bake or make what they sell. You can purchase a wide assortment of vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit, farm fresh eggs, local honey, jams, soaps, herb rub, baked goods and much more! Time: 9am to 2pm. 3450 Richmond Road in the parking lot of Fast Signs and Pedal the Planet Bike Shop. 
(859)548-3516 ( 
Location: Richmond Road 

Saturday Aug 3, 2013 
Every Saturday at Cheapside Park visit the Lexington Farmers Market! You can purchase herbs and spices, honey, beeswax, candles, body care products, organic products, eggs, meats and fresh, seasonal produce! Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Fifth Third Bank Pavilion next to the Old Fayette County Courthouse. 
(859)608-2655 ( 
Location: Cheapside Park 

Saturday Aug 3, 2013 
Dress to impress and be ready to dance to the best salsa, meregnue, bachata, regaeton and more! Time: 10:30pm. Cover: $6. 112 Esplanade. 
(859)259-2754 ( 
Location: Natasha's Bistro & Bar 

Saturday Aug 3, 2013 
Featuring captive bred reptiles and supplies from some of the top breeders in the country. See fascinating reptiles, amphibians, spiders, insects and more and learn more about them by talking with experts in their care. Almost all animals and products offered at wholesale prices. Time: 10 am - 4 pm. Admission $6. Kids under 6 are free. Lexington Convention Center, Heritage Ballroom. 
(859)233-4567 ( 
Location: 430 West Vine Street 

Saturday Aug 3, 2013 - Sunday Aug 4, 2013 
The juried event attracts the elite among regional artisans as well as up-and-coming new artists. Time: Monday-Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 9:30am to 5pm, Sunday 10am to 4:30pm. Admission: $10 ages 13 & above, $5 ages 6-12, free 5 and under. 3501 Lexington Road, Harrodsburg, Kentucky. 
(800)734-5611 ( 
Location: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill 

Saturday Aug 3, 2013 - Sunday Aug 4, 2013 
Guided food walking tour traverses the beautiful, historic downtown stopping at Lexington's best eateries. Sample the fare that makes each place an iconic restaurant. It's a stroll through the park with a side dish of history, a dash of culture and a taste of the Bluegrass. Time: Saturday 10am and 1:30pm, Sunday 1:30pm. Tickets: $49. 
(800)979-3370 ( 
Location: Downtown ( 
Saturday, Aug 3 8:00p to 11:00p 
Lexington, KY 
Contra dance with caller Liz Natter and band Intellectual Property (Tom Cunningham, David Atcher, and friends) 
Saturday, August 3, 2013, 8-11 p.m. (beginners lesson 7:30-8 p.m.) 
Price $8 adults 
Read more here: ( ( 
Saturday, Aug 3 7:00p to 10:00p 
114 Lisle Industrial Avenue Lexington, KY. 
Every Saturday night Kenny Whalen & The Travelers, along with various special guests, take the stage for a night of fun-filled entertainment. If you are looking for a good family atmosphere, food, and entertainment, bring the family to Musicland. 
Price $ 10.00 (adults) 
Read more here: ( 

Saturday, Aug 3, 7:00p 
Fairyhouse Hall 
Lexington, KY 
Join Slow Food Chef and farmer, Shane Haffey, (Ire) for his summer harvest dinner party series prepared with 100% local ingredients; including Fairyhouse heritage pork,, poultry, paté, and heirloom veg and including such delicacies as Kentucky caviar. 
Formal tables will be set for Lexington locavores to enjoy food and drink under the stars at Chef Shane’s Lexington farm. 
Read more here: ( ( 
Saturday, Aug 3 7:30p 
More dates & times (3) 
Pioneer Playhouse 
Danville, KY 
By Ken Ludwig 
The Hays are fading stars of the stage, still waiting for their big break. When a Hollywood director announces he’s flying in to catch their next show, it’s a dream come true…or is it? Can a zany theater family hold it together for one more career-making performance, or will some seriously silly drama – and the blizzard of the century – blow them all apart? Playhouse faves Pat Hammond and Eben French Mastin star in roles made famous by Carol Burnett and Philip Bosco on Broadway! 
Price Dinner and show: $28 adults, $15 children 12 and younger. Show only: $16 adults, $9 children 12 and younger. 
Read more here: ( 

Saturday, Aug 3 9:00p 
Raven Run Nature Sanctuary 
Lexington, KY 
View the night sky through a variety of telescopes provided by the Bluegrass Amateur Astronomy Club. Far from the city lights, Raven Run is an excellent place to see planets, nebulae, galaxies and the Milky Way! The program is free and lasts two hours. 
FREE event 
Read more here: ( 

Food SpecialDate: Active Thursday July 25, 2013 through Saturday August 3, 2013. 
Time: All Day Event 
Location: City Wide 
Try to be in town during Lexington first Restaurant Week. From French bistros to gastropubs, all types of restaurants will participate. There are no coupons or tickets to purchase or download. Restaurants will offer a special $25 prix fixe dinner dining experience, excluding taxes, drinks and gratuity, in addition to their regular menus. More details to follow. ( 

Kids / FamilyDate: Active Wednesday June 12, 2013 through Sunday November 3, 2013. 
Time: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm 
Location: Shaker Village 
Price: Tickets: $10 ages 13 & above, $5 ages 6-12. Free ages 5 & under. 
Enjoy a relaxing cruise through the scenic Kentucky River Palisades, along a stretch of river with high limestone cliffs and untouched natural beauty. See the oldest exposed rock in Kentucky and High Bridge, an engineering marvel built in 1877. Ride schedule is subject to weather and river conditions. ( 

Theatre / DanceDate: Active Thursday August 1, 2013 through Sunday August 4, 2013. 
Time: Times Vary 
Location: Carriage House Theatre 
More than a tribute to the legendary country singer. The show is based on a true story about the friendship between Patsy and her most devoted fan, Louise Seger. It all began when they met one night at the Esquire Ballroom outside of Houston. Complete with down-home humor, true emotion and the story of a relationship that any fan would dream of having with their idol. Includes many unforgettable hits, 27 songs in all, including "Crazy", "I Fall to Pieces", "Sweet Dreams", and "Walking After Midnight". Time: Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday 2:30 p.m. ( 

Kids / FamilyDate: Event occurs every Saturday of every month. 
Time: 1:30 pm 
Every Saturday and Sunday May 18 to the end of October enjoy a 11 mile 90 minute round trip train excursion through the horse farms of Central Kentucky. Time: Train leaves at 2pm. Tickets: Adults $11.50, Senior Citizens $10.50, Children 2 to 12 $9.50, Children under 2 Free. ( 
3rd Annual "Lexington Cityscapes" Paint-out 
Date: 8/3/2013 
Time: 8:00 AM TO 9:00 PM 

401 W. Main Street 
Lexington, KY 40507 
Event Description: Artists’ Attic and the Plein Aire Painters of the Bluegrass are joining forces to continue a great downtown Lexington tradition by hosting the 3rd Annual “Lexington Cityscapes” Paint-Out on Saturday, August 3rd. Artists will be showcasing downtown Lexington, with its wide range of subjects from historic streetscapes and gardens to the color and charm of the outdoor Farmers’ Market. See Plein Air artists in action, all within a six block radius of Artists’ Attic on Saturday, August 3rd, from 8 am – 2:30 p.m. 
Artists' Attic is located on the 4th floor of Victorian Square in downtown Lexington. Artists will check in between 8 - 9 am at Artists' Attic, paint scenes of downtown Lexington until 2:30, and return for the Opening reception and awards from 6 - 9 pm that night. 

Take care, 
Christina Courtney H.
How awesome is THAT?!  One hour.  While I was getting up, making smoothies, and rambling around getting started for the day, Christina from Fancy Hands was doing my bidding and sending me a list of the best ideas for doing something fun and different this Saturday. LOVE. IT.

Could I have done it myself?  Sure, I guess.  But I have a million other things to do, and if I had gotten into researching this for myself, I would have ended up spending hours getting sidetracked into all sorts of things for later in the year.  And frankly, I don't have time for that today.  We're supposed to be starting back to school tomorrow, and there is a lot waiting for me to do.

Because I was specific about our likes, limits, etc. I got a list that is really pleasing to me. Although there is absolutely no chance that we will choose to spend our anniversary with reptiles ;) , most of the rest of the suggestions are ones we would be interested in.  I am confident that whatever we decide to do, it is on that list.

I love, Love, LOVE Fancy Hands!  Now I need to figure out how to use my remaining 8 tasks before the middle of August.  :)

If you want to give them a try, click here to get 50% off your first month!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Buying Curriculum--A veteran homeschooler's perspective

I saw a discussion on this topic today and thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the subject.

We have been homeschooling for most of the last 17 years.  Here's where I'm at on buying curriculum:

1.  I'd rather buy new every time, because I want a complete program that will work without any hitches or surprises.  I'll be using it for maybe 4 more kids before I'm done, so whatever it costs will be well worth it.  And when I'm finished with it, I'll sell it.  Price doesn't dictate my purchasing decisions.  Not because it's easy to afford, but because when I know what I want, I know it is worth it to me to get it for my kids.  

2.  I sell used curriculum online without much effort or difficulty.  Facebook has a bunch of popular used curriculum groups.  I sold almost everything I had in my For Sale pile this summer in a few weeks.  Here are some of the spots where I have sold used curriculum recently:

3.  I have learned that I almost never utilize ebooks.  Ever.  My brain is one that has to see my stuff to remember that I have it.  So, every single cookbook, science experiments, life skills, or anything else in ebook format that I ever bought has gone unused, unless I immediately printed it out.  (which I have, for a very few things recently)   Now I no longer consider buying much of anything in ebook format, because I know I probably won't remember to use it.  (sidenote--this is precisely why I designed our Classical Composers and Artist resources to include regular reminders to the purchaser that they have materials available to them.  I want to help them remember what they bought, and help them get back to access it in their member's area.  I hate buying stuff and then not remembering how to get at it again.  Too much trouble.  If you have an ipad or kindle or nook that allows you to use these items consistently and conveniently, that's GREAT!

4.  Despite our many years of homeschooling, I do not have heaps of unused physical curriculum.  I purge every summer. (and throughout the year as well. I have a container where all the For Sale items get placed.)  I get rid of anything I didn't like.  I part with stuff as the youngest outgrows it.  I try to keep what is on our shelves to be the stuff we are using or definitely plan to use in the future.  I have also chosen to get rid of some things that we "might" use in the future but it would be many years away.  Benefits to this:
  • I feel like I'd rather let some things go and loosen up the funds and shelf space for things we need now
  • I'd rather get the resale value of the item now, rather than bearing the burden of keeping the thing safe for the next umpteen years til I *might* use it again.  If it gets spilled on or something, will I be glad I kept it?  I'd rather sell it in nice condition and rebuy later on.  The margin between buying new and reselling is small enough that I'm comfortable taking that chance.
  • Sometimes parting with an item that you won't use for *years* lets you get rid of it before that curriculum gets an update.  For instance, we had the original Teaching Textbooks Geometry set and used it for our oldest child.  It was going to be at least 6 years before it would be used again, so I decided to sell.  Now Teaching Textbooks has a newer version of Geometry, and I think we'll be happier to have the newer version than the older version when the time comes.  No regrets, even though we'll re-buy that program.  Remember--it'll get re-bought, used for four kids, and then sold. It'll be a bargain, how little we'll have paid per kid to use it!

5.  In the early years of homeschooling I didn't overbuy because we couldn't afford to. I was extremely careful and gave the materials we did buy a good, solid try to make them work for us.  In the more experienced years of homeschooling I didn't overbuy because I had a better idea of what we want, what we will use, and what is valuable to us.  Also, frankly, I no longer look at anything I'm not specifically in the market for.  If we already know what math we like, I never, ever look at any new math thing, no matter how many people are singing it's praises.  It's a time suck and I don't need it.  IF we have a specific need for a subject or curriculum, I do some research and then choose and go back to my cave.  ;)

6.  I don't borrow curriculum from friends (except for possibly a quick look-through to see if we would be interested in buying the item) and I do not loan out curriculum either.  These are my tools and I need them here for my family.  Their items are their tools and they probably need them for their family.  (I also do not want to be responsible for keeping someone else's tools safe.  Accidents can happen, and I do not want them to happen to someone else's stuff.)  Good curriculum that meets the needs of my homeschool is well worth purchasing and owning my very own copy.  It ensures that we have the tools we need in order to do a good job educating our children, and it honors the good people that developed the curriculum.  I want to reward those that help me educate my children!  Very often these are other home educators who have shared their time and gifts to develop something valuable and wonderful.  I don't have any desire to use any illegal copyright-avoiding schemes to avoid paying them their due.  Please be aware that most file "sharing" sites are offering curriculum that is not free, and in a way that is violating copyright law.  Please do not copy CDs or send out electronic versions of your purchases to others.  

What about you?  What's your current philosophy on buying/selling/keeping/using curriculum?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rapturous Love for Fancy Hands

I'm SO PSYCHED about this service!  Fancy Hands is a thousand personal assistants waiting to do your bidding.  Between my busy life as a mom and a business person, there are always at least several phone calls/research items/etc. that I need to get done but haven't gotten around to yet.  (or things I need to do but am avoiding or just plain don't want to do)  After learning about Fancy Hands, I had to give it a try.

I signed up last night and promptly added 6 tasks to my account.  I woke up with most of them DONE.  (The ones that I'm waiting for have to be done later in the day during someone else's business hours.)  Honestly, I feel awesome to know that I can cross so many niggling details right off of my list and move forward.

Things Fancy Hands did/will do for me today:

--call two dentists to get info on a specific service I need, whether or not they take our insurance, if they are taking new patients, etc.  (This task alone has been waiting, not tackled by me, for probably 6 months or longer!)

--call my son to help him with an ipod problem that was draining my sanity

--created a printable list of low-glycemic foods for me

--did several different business research tasks for me that would have taken me quite awhile to do

I can see how Fancy Hands would be great for all sorts of people:

--homeschool moms who are trying to research a particular service or curriculum, want to track down free resources, need to order and ship gifts or school supplies, want to comparison shop for curriculum/educational toys/contact lenses/whatever, and tons of other stuff that we all have on our To Do list but is weighing us down and never getting done

--busy parents and professionals who have too many phone calls to make and things to check into  (need to find a violin teacher?  gymnastics class?  summer camp?  orthodontist appointment?  estimate on your HVAC?  pick-your-own apple orchard?)

--anyone trying to buy or sell a house or relocate (so many calls/things to research/etc, like finding school and activity options, churches, new doctors, taking care of getting new utilities set up, etc.)

--parents trying to navigate colleges, financial aid, or other services  (find out when they have prospective student visit weekends, track down scholarship opportunities, take care of paperwork, find answers to questions that are frustrating you, learn if the colleges you are considering will accept CLEP credits or transfer credits from a community college, etc.)

--business people who want to outsource simple tasks very inexpensively, rather than tie up your more skilled assistant with little stuff  (making reservations, adding items to your calendar, scheduling appointments and meetings, doing research for you)

--small business owners that need an assistant, but not by the hour  (a quick item needing to be handed off to someone else and doesn't require your expertise)

So, anyhoo, that's my testimonial for today.  I LOVE to get stuff done, and Fancy Hands has made me a very happy camper in less than 12 hours.  I'm hooked.  You should try it.  Since I referred you, you'll get an even AWESOMER deal of 50% off your first month!  (and, yes, I'll get a credit on my account, too)  It's a great deal and I bet you will LOVE it!  Make a little list of things you can hand off to Fancy Hands to take care of for you, and then set it up and start smiling.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Getting enough sleep

“Happiness consists in getting enough sleep.”  

~Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

I saw this on the Brave Writer blog and seeing as how I was just about to head to bed, it seemed appropriate and true.  Although I do love to stay up later (and sleep in...), I do think it's probably better for my health and state of mind to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  During the summer I can get away with the late nights, but during the school year it can hijack an entire day's productivity if mom wakes up late and is sluggish all day.

AND, you may have seen this article that's been going around.  It discusses the importance of regular bedtimes for young children, and the impact this has on brain development.  While I started out my mothering journey being extremely flexible, as the years have gone on I've found that having the kids in bed at a reasonable hour is really helpful.  It's good to be able to go Off Duty at some point before I have to go to bed, and it's nice to have time alone with my husband.  On days when my husband works, after-the-kids-go-to-bed is when I do a lot of my business work too.  Even if the kids are older, it can be really nice for them to have some quiet time to unwind by reading or listening to an audio book or some quiet music in their bed, rather than being bombarded with lots of stimulating computer/electronics/media right up until bed time.  For this coming school year I'll probably have my kiddos ages 10-13 into bed by 9pm.  I'll have to talk to my older teens about this and see what they might think is reasonable for their schedule.  (I know that in a large family, the older kids often cherish the quiet, slow pace of late night just as much as the parents do...)

What time do your kiddos go to bed?  How old are they?  What time do you go to bed?  What works best at your house?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homeschool Bloggers? You Will Like This.

It's no secret that in addition to this modest little blog, I do a few other things, like running Classical Composers Monthly and Supermom's Health and Wellness.  So, naturally, I'm always keeping up on tools and resources that can help me keep all the plates spinning as much as possible.  Even if you're focus is on homeschooling + blogging, there's a lot to keep up on if you want to do it well!

For many years I've utilized the materials, membership site, and classes offer by Kelly McCausey of Solo Smarts.  She has a ton of practical and affordable stuff to help with business, blogging, podcasting, and much more!

Her latest program is one I bought the minute it was available, and I'm excited about it!  (you will be too)  While I often pass along articles of interest to my facebook peeps, I've not often taken the time to write more about why I liked them.  Kelly's program, Smart Curation Skills, has helped me see how I could effectively *and efficiently* keep a pulse on the issues and topics I'm interested in (without getting sucked into chasing down a million blogs and getting bogged down) and later turn them into blog posts where I could share my reactions, responses, and insights into blog content.  PLUS this allows my blog to become a place where I can share the great stuff that's touching my heart and making a difference in my life with others.

Right now Kelly is having a big affiliate contest, which is what nudged me to go ahead and let you know about this, though it honestly *was* on my To Blog About list for about a week (since I got my copy of Smart Curation Skills and realized, "Hey!  I need to tell the other homeschool bloggers about this!").  I'm not a big-time blogger (I'm barely a small-time blogger) so I don't expect that there is any chance at all that I could come close to winning Kelly's contest, but I did want to get this info out to you  regardless.  Just her one tip about using an RSS aggregator and learning how it could benefit me has already been fabulous for me in just a week!  (and when I first heard her describe it I didn't even think I would like it!  Ha.  I was wrong.)

I know that a lot of homeschool moms are blogging, and a lot of you wouldn't mind making money while you do.  Go see what Kelly has to offer.  I bet there's something you'd like to do that she can help you with!

Learning with Legos!

I know all the homeschool moms already KNOW that Legos are a wonderful educational toy, but how about some clever writing prompts, language arts materials, and other great educational items?  Yeah, me too.  Downloading now.  Wahoo!  My boys are going to love this!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Organizing School Supplies

I know I'm not the only mom that has taken advantage of the bargain prices on school supplies in late summer, but then manages to not know where on earth any of the stuff is by January.  (Or October)

After thoroughly cleaning, purging, and taking stock of the school area, I found various caches of school supplies, and some half-broken pencil boxes with motley collections of broken crayons and buried child-sized scissors.  Sick of the situation where people never know where to find OR return commonly-needed items, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and that got the ball rolling.

This door leads to our coat closet, and this side of it faces the right side of where all of our work stations/desks are for the boys.  In other words, all they have to do is turn their little heads to the right and their gaze shall fall upon this beautiful scene:

All you need is one of those inexpensive over-the-door shoe organizers.  I got a clear plastic one.

As I started filling each section and figuring out what would make sense for where to place items (for instance Sharpies:  Up top.) I decided on some modifications.

I didn't want crayons to mark up the surface of the organizer and make it look junky.

I didn't want scissors and sharpened pencils to poke holes in the bottom of the pouches.

I didn't want to have kids up-to-their-armpits trying to dig out crayons from the pouches.

I had a stash of clear containers from the bulk section of Whole Foods.  They fit perfectly into the pouches, and solved the problem of potential pokes as well as made items like crayons, markers, and colored pencils portable. Now a child can help themselves to the container, take it to their seat to use it, and then return the whole thing.  Perfect!

I also save parmesan cheese containers (they are perfect for childen's banks, bug catchers, and a zillion other things) and those also fit nicely and worked well for certain items.  

If I hadn't had these plastic containers handy, I could have used clear plastic cups that could have been obtained inexpensively from a discount store or yard sale, or even canning jars.  If you look around at what you've got available, you may find that you have a free solution to your needs without having to buy anything.

My children are all old enough to not go berzerk with overuse of school supplies, so I'm comfortable with leaving everything out where they can help themselves.  I love it that now that the supply sales are here, I can easily see that I already have more than enough crayons, but could definitely use more pencil-top erasers.  I won't be buying stuff we don't need.

As you can see there is plenty of extra space.  I can see that these pouches could also be useful for additional art supplies, craft supplies, math manipulatives, flash cards, and other small items that need to be kept track of and made available to the children regularly.

I'm a visual person that really likes to see my stuff.  With all the bright colors and the ease of keeping it organized, I feel like this will be handy, practical, and easy to keep up on.

Of course, that's what we all say, with great hope, before the school year begins.  :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Relationships Before Rules (or, What Went Wrong? if your kids didn't turn out to be Just. Like. You.)

I recently witnessed a conversation where mothers were discussing their shock and dismay in observing the breakdown of relationships between adult children and their parents.  I have some thoughts on the subject.  :)

Perhaps like many of you, it is somewhat humbling to wade into this discussion because, you know---none of us knows what is to come with each of our children in the future.  Even for whatever experience we have with our grown children, it is by no means a perfect blueprint for what will come with others.

My oldest son is nearly 21 now.  My next oldest child is 17, so only one "launched" adult child so far here.  (We have six children in all)

we are on a continuum in our relationship with our children, moving from total "control" of their life when they are born, to eventually having *influence* 

This is scary for many parents, particularly for those who have very firm ideas about how their child should grow up and do things.  In a short time you will not be in a position of power or control with your grown children, and that is as it should be.  IF you have the sort of relationship with your child that causes that child to want to ask your advice or follow your life example or whatever, then that is a wonderful thing, because you will have many opportunities to help them along the big, serious things that come along in the adult life.  Everything from buying cars and houses, to getting married, choosing jobs, relocating, and parenting!  But if your relationship is one where your child has pulled away and cut you off, you are left on the outside while your child finds their own way in the world.

I believe that those strong, enduring love relationships with our children start from the very beginning and are nurtured all the way through.  

Your children are learning whether they can trust you, 
and whether your love for them is unconditional.  

They are seeing how you talk about people that you disagree with.  

They are observing our shortcomings, 
and the ways we solve relationship problems.  

They have a front-row seat for all of our flaws and hypocrisies and missteps.  

They see if we are operating from a place of love and grace, or a place of anger and offense and judgment.  

Their hearts are hopefully being knit closer to ours, 
but could be pulling away.

Their outward behavior when they are younger doesn't always tell the truest tale, either.  Some parents are very good at requiring a certain outward behavior, but that is not a guarantee that you have their heart or that their mind is open to you.

I see so often that Christian homeschooling families expect a certain outcome with their children.  They tend to be shocked when they invest so much and don't get "the product" they expected from it.  Here are some thoughts I have on this:

--If you homeschool, do it for the joy of it.  Do it because you enjoy spending time with your children.  Do it because you have a way of giving them a great education. Don't do it because you hate the local school system, or because you don't want your kids hanging out with non-Christian kids, or because you think that by keeping them at home for the first 18 years of their life you are purchasing a carbon-copy of yourself within your child.  Sure, there are a bunch of reasons why homeschooling happens, but don't let the angry, negative, judgy reasons rise to the top of the list.  All of that anger and gunk is unattractive.  Your kids will see it.

--Start letting go sooner than you have to.  There's nothing healthy about kids going from being under your thumb all the time to suddenly having freedom when they turn 18 or 20 or whatever.  You should start backing off years before.  Let them have some space to figure some things out.  Let them have space to figure out what they believe.  Let them have space to stand on their own two feet, or to make some mistakes, or to consider other possibilities in life.  Homeschool families love to say that they are Teaching Their Kids to THINK! and yet they are terrified when their kids do exactly that.  Part of the process of growing up and figuring out what you think is to pick apart what you've been taught, along with everything else that you're hearing, and weigh and measure and consider and grapple with the ideas.  This can take a long time.  It is part of the process.  

I know you may *think* that you want your kids to grow up and just believe what you taught them, but that would be a weak faith.  


And what they need from you is the space to do that, 
and for you to not 
freak out, 
and panic 
while they are in the process.  

You can allow your home
your relationship, 
and your family bonds
 to be the safe place 
for all of this wrestling through beliefs, 
you can allow your home 
to become rejecting of the process, 
and push your child away 
to places where others are open 
to hearing their developing thoughts 
and ideas 
and beliefs.  

Personally, I want my home to be the safe place.  

--GOOD NEWS!  18 or 21 or whatever is not the final answer on who we turn out to be.  That is not the end of the story.  So often *pride* gets in the way and parents get upset when their high school graduate isn't a shining example of whatever they thought they were producing. 

"What will people think?!"  

Or maybe they looked like they were a shining example at age 18, but by 20 or 21 they no longer are.  

Stop freaking out about this.  





God has got this.  

Back off.  

Go play with your other kids. 

 Take a deep breath.  (or 200)

Let this experience 
of loving your young adults 
through this stage 
show your other kids that 
your love is BIG ENOUGH 
to love them while they figure stuff out.  

Let your younger kids see that 

Now, all of that being said, I can read the minds of some of you.  You are thinking of many unacceptable extremes and wondering if I am saying you should just let your kids run wild, set a terrible example for the younger kids, endanger themselves, or whatever.  Obviously, no.  You certainly do have to be wise.  If you have a child that is determined to destroy themselves, you may not be able to intervene.  You may have to let go and fully entrust them to God's care.  You can still love in whatever ways are appropriate and safe, though.  Use your good sense, and let love lead you.  (Real love.  Not that junk where you act like a big jerk and call it love.)

What I too often have seen is parents that are fussing and fuming about peripheral issues that are near and dear to their heart, but should NOT be huge deal-breaking crisis issues.  

So what if your son wants to grow his hair out a little longer than you ever let him?  


He never got to do it before!!!**  

Now he's gonna try it and see how he likes it.  He might keep it.  He might not.  But you parents?  You should let go of expectations about his hair.  Frankly, I don't care if my kids have pink polka-dotted spiked mohawks---no hair style will ever be able to change my exuberant love for my children, nor will it ever change God's exuberant love for them!!

So your daughter was raised to wear dresses and skirts and now she's wearing jeans?  
Same thing: 
 This should not be a crisis.  

If you are going to put jeans vs. skirts ahead of a loving, friendly, growing, open relationship with your adult daughter, I believe you have made a poor exchange.  If you can't handle jeans, how can your daughter trust you to handle any other decisions she might make as an adult?!  You could very well be putting yourself outside of having a position of influence by making a big deal out of these issues.

What if your child has rejected the Christian faith? 

 Again, God is bigger and better at this than you or I.  

Get out of the way and let Him do His thing.  

No matter what age your child is at, 
they are not outside the reach of the Lord.  

Live your life, 
and let it be filled with 
pure love and grace.  
Love your kids 
while they 
and reject.  
If you can't love your own child through this, what kind of witness can you be to anyone else?!

At my house, the health and value of relationships comes before peripheral beliefs and rules. I'm trusting that this will continue to bear good fruit with my children.  I've never known an adult with a good relationship with parents who couldn't let go, couldn't give them space to be themselves, or respect their grown-up decisions.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Looking for non-college options for your homeschool grads?

Not everybody is looking toward college after high school.  The good news is, there are plenty of decent-paying jobs available that don't require a bachelor's degree!

Check out this article that shares The Highest-Paying Jobs You Can Get Without a Bachelor's Degree.  Lots of good ideas there for those of you with up-and-coming graduates.

As a mom of a homeschool grad myself, I feel that choosing to delay (or bypass) college is a valid choice.  My own son hasn't chosen to go to college at this point (he graduated from our homeschool a few years ago) but he has used the time in a variety of worthwhile ways:

--worked full time in the hotel industry
--started a business with me
--learned web design and many ins and outs of growing an internet business
--lived in Texas for awhile, waiting tables for the regular paycheck and managing his friend's music career to live the dream!
--is currently working in NYC in sales and is doing *great*!  (He's pulling in more cashola than his parents are, so HUZZAH! for him! Right?!)
--hopes to relocate to Florida later this year to continue his sales career

He's been working, learning, traveling, and doing things he loves to do pretty much non-stop since he graduated!  Frankly, I call this a success for someone who is not yet 21.  I have no doubt that he will continue to find what works for him, and that his choice to not go to college right away will be ok for him.  College will always be there if he wants or needs it.  In the meantime, he's learning a whole lot from real life, and that's ok with me.  In fact, I'm mighty proud of him.  :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Let It Go

Beautiful, encouraging, and wise words (as always), from Julie at Brave Writer:

"As you find your way in the world,
I've discovered (mostly by way of the 'hard way')
that I get further in my life
when I pay less attention to what other people say about me,
and instead get busy doing what I know I should be doing,
what I say I want to be doing.

The most appealing homeschooler to a non-homeschooling family
is the one who has nothing to prove,
enjoys all families,
and relishes the chance to participate in the big world
as a friend and fellow parent.

Read the entire post here.