Simple But Needed

A new homeschool morning routine. Simple but needed.

Homeschool Morning Routine

When we began homeschooling over 12 years ago, a morning routine was something we always had. Sure, it evolved from time to time, but it was always there. One constant in our morning routine was family Bible time, led by Daddy. We were fortunate to have Daddy home in the mornings at first due to our flexible missionary lifestyle {he worked mostly in the evenings} and then due to his schedule while he was in grad school for the past 3 years. He has always led us in reading the Bible together as a family, and although it was something that wasn’t always totally lovely, it was something I always cherished. 

Once his internships began and he was gone early in the mornings, I lost all sense of a morning routine. Honestly, I was a bit flustered. You see, I am NOT a morning person and I was in a {large} bit of denial that I needed to be. I managed to flounder around for over a year and as we approached this current schoolyear, I decided it was time for a simple but NEEDED change.

One thing I knew about myself is that I tend to overdo things and then the overly high expectation of myself causes me to just give up when I fail. Knowing this, I was determined to decide on a routine that I could stick with, one that I would actually enjoy, and not dread.

As I made my decisions, I factored in a few things that I wanted to changed and gave thought to how I could combine and conquer. I wanted to eat healthier and wanted my kids to have a heartier {healthier} breakfast. I wanted time to talk. I wanted time to read. But I didn’t want to read so much that I couldn’t eat too. How to combine these ideas became my goal. Keep it simple <—that was also my BIG goal.

Since our chickens began laying eggs, I have been eating eggs for breakfast every morning, along with an avocado, and some awesome chicken sausage {from Aldi – the Never Any brand – so wonderful}. If I was already cooking for myself, why not cook for them too. I know this sounds like a DUH moment to many mommas, but another thing you must know about me – I do NOT cook. The fact that I was cooking eggs for myself was a miracle itself.

So, all that thinking led to what we now have – a simple morning routine for our homeschool days, one that we needed desperately.

Homeschool Morning Routine (1 of 1)

I cook breakfast, making sure that the foods I am offering are ones I know my two picky eaters enjoy {keeping the conflict low – one of my other goals}. We have scrambled eggs, avocado, sausage, and fruit. With these two particular kids, keeping the menu relatively similar each day is helpful too. They are huge complainers when it comes to foods they dislike, and this causes me stress. So, I made my food choices wisely.

I had a few different ‘reading"’ ideas in mind and then one night it hit me – I already owned the perfect book. Indescribable by Louie Giglio was perfect for my goals. I wanted something that could work for both of my kids {ages 9 and 12 currently} and be simple enough to discuss over breakfast. This book has been great!

We are now on our third official week of homeschool and we have all grown to love this routine. I am so thankful for my time with my kids – even if it does mean more dishes to wash every morning.

Why We STILL Homeschool

Why We Still Homeschool Even After Life Changes

We have been homeschooling since my oldest son was in PreK.  In just a few weeks we will begin our 10th year with an 8th grader, 4th grader and 1st grader! For those of you who don’t know my background, it is important to know a few things about me before reading this.  I was a public school teacher and big believer in group education. I had always planned to send my children to public school and never dreamed of homeschooling until God made it clear to our family. I was never really for or against homeschooling, just didn’t have any thought about it at all.  I didn’t know any homeschoolers and certainly didn’t plan to be one. Funny how God works.

Years ago I shared a post called “Never Planned to Homeschool” which outlined our main reasons for choosing to homeschool.  If you jump over there and read that list, you’ll see that many of those reasons were specific to our season of life.  In the past year, our life has changed and our reasons for homeschooling are a bit different now.  Some are exactly the same, but a few are very different.

I wanted to share a bit of our reasons for choosing to homeschool still, even though our life circumstances have changed.

In the former list, our first 3 reasons were tied to where we lived, our missionary lifestyle and my husband’s work hours.  Those three things have all changed and when we moved we never considered NOT homeschooling and I bet many of you may wonder why. Actually some of you have emailed me to ask!  

Our Current Season of Life

Last winter we moved from the northeast, to the southeast.  We moved because of a calling my husband felt to further his education.  He is in seminary, getting his master’s degree in Christian counseling.  This is a minimum 3 year degree and the school he is attending is the main reason we moved.  We lead a very different lifestyle down here due to our move.  He is home most of the day, and homeschools the kids along with me.  I am the main teacher but there are a few subjects he leads for each of our children {which is nice!}.

We live near decent schools, both public and affordable private. We are also no longer living the busy and very full time missionary life. This is a huge change for us after over ten years.  We have no idea what God will bring after my husband finishes school, but for now we are here.

We now live in a location where the public schools are fine, we aren’t missionaries anymore, and my husband is a full time graduate student who is home most of the day {doing schoolwork}.  So why would we still homeschool if 3 out of our original 5 reasons are now nonexistent?  Obviously we have chosen to continue homeschooling, even after these major life changes.  Below you can read why!   

Why Still Homeschool?

We love the lifestyle!  Obviously, the discussion came back up again once we decided we were moving.  Not so much between us, but mostly from others asking us if we would still homeschool when we moved.  For us the answer was always yes, with no hesitation, at all. The core reason ~ we love the overall homeschooling lifestyle. It fits our family, fits our personalities, fits our goals as parents. There was no need to even consider changing when we were all happy. We all like the lower stress mornings, being together throughout the day, having freedom to adjust our school schedule, the list goes on and on.

Who is influencing our kids? We want to be the ones influencing our children on a daily basis for so many hours a day.  Back in my teaching days I knew many wonderful teachers, but I also knew many I would not want my children spending hours and hours per day with. We do not take the “shelter our kids” approach, but are thankful for the greater opportunity to better choose and have say in who is spending many influential hours per day with our children. This includes both adults and other children.  Our kids are very well “socialized” and I don’t believe the traditional group education even provides for the socialization necessary these days.  I am not saying group educated kids aren’t properly socialized, just saying that homeschooled kids {on average} aren’t different simply because of their educational lifestyle! It depends on individual circumstances and people, not a model of education. MANY people ask if we are concerned about socialization and the answer is not at all!

We have the ability to adapt to our children! This continues to be a driving reason for us. Our oldest child is a more traditional student and would probably do just fine in a group education model.  Our middle son and youngest daughter – not so much.  I wrote a post about our middle son, who is now 9, and if you glance at that post I bet you can conclude why he wouldn’t fit well in a group education model.  It has taken me years to adjust to his learning needs and it has been both a challenge and a joy.  He is a very intelligent child, but I have to meet him where he’s at, honor who he is, and how he learns. Having been a teacher, I know there are very few teachers who can do this, especially in a group setting.  The way our schools are run now, it is almost impossible for even the best teacher to truly adapt to the needs of each student. It breaks my heart to see so many fabulous kids falling through the cracks, even in the hands of excellent teachers – all because the system is flawed.  I am not saying I have the answers, just saying I don’t want my child to fall through those cracks.

Our children have a say and they all choose to be homeschooled!  Our oldest {currently 13} obviously has the strongest opinion and is the one we discuss options with the most.  This year we did intensely discuss his schooling options now that we have moved. For a slight moment he considered going to school, but that quickly changed.  Although we are the final decision makers, we do take into account the way each child feels and what would be best for each of them. We will continue to do this and trust that as God leads we will make decisions on a year by year, kid by kid basis. It is our plan to homeschool through the end for all three kids, but we have learned that God sometimes changes our great plans!

Competitive gymnastics and homeschooling are a great fit!  Our 9 year old is a competitive gymnast who is in love with the sport and has very high goals.  While this isn’t a driving reason for choosing to homeschool, homeschooling sure helps with this!  He is free to adjust his school schedule with us and get more hours in the gym without sacrificing family time or “be a kid” time. The fact that God led us on the homeschooling path before he led us down the gymnastics path has been a blessing.  Krash is now on a predominantly homeschooled team and it is such a gift.  We travel with him for a few months out of the year and homeschooling really helps with this also!

It just works for us and we like it! Did I mention we like it? We like the freedom to get up a bit later, spend loads of time together, travel during the off seasons, and take a break when we feel the need.  We like choosing curriculum for each of our children {see our 1st, 4th, and 8th grade choices}, adapting as the year goes along, and helping them when they need it.

It is NOT always easy and many days are a total struggle, but the big picture is good. I like these people. Even though they cause me the greatest stress most days, I want nothing more than to be with them as much as possible during these years. I used to think I could never homeschool {not patient enough, not educated enough, not “good” enough} and guess what? I am not enough of any of those things but GOD is enough!

Lately in Our Life -6944

You Are Not Alone

You are not alone





A few years ago I shared my heart with you about my struggles. Many of my struggles feature the words listed above. The comments and emails I received {and still receive} in reference to this post are numerous.

Here’s a couple of comments from readers…

"So glad you posted this. It really helps me to know that I am not the only one who struggles with these things. Also brings to reality that homeschool moms are not the cheerful perfect images you have in you mind to struggle to be like."

"It means a lot to hear about your struggles and to know I’m not alone, especially when it comes to losing patience. I continually have to pray for patience with my very wonderful but extremely active children."

"It’s nice to know that we don’t have to have it all together, and that He is our strength when we are weak. Thanks again for being so transparent. It’s so nice to know we are not alone! "


Notice a trend? The WE ARE NOT ALONE part?

We are not alone in our struggles as moms, for two reasons. First, we struggle together and share many of the same challenges. Also, we are not alone because HE makes us strong when we are weak.

Psalm 55 (1 of 1)


On Instagram this past week I shared a photo of me reading with my two youngest. I think this photo is lovely and this moment was indeed lovely, BUT these moments aren’t the norm. I cherish these rare moments just like you do. The moments that make it all worth it. The moments that make the HARD, the STRESSFUL, the CHAOTIC, the C-R-A-Z-Y worth it.

One mom shared with me her feelings about homeschooling her three young children.  She feels like she never gets anything done, and shared what I think we all know… It’s HARD!

I replied to her and so did a few other mommas, here are some of the encouraging words shared…

“…mine are roughly the same ages as yours. 6.5, 4.5, and 23 mo. It’s chaos here a lot of the time, but I keep telling myself its okay, that we do what we can and just enjoy being together. But yeah, some days we don’t get a whole lot of sit down work done!”

“This is our 4th year to school at home. My children are 8, 6, 4, and 22m. We have evolved over the years. The first few were about ME adjusting to this new lifestyle and trying to figure out what the heck I was doing Your oldest is still very young. My advice is enjoy it! Make learning fun through play and read lots of good quality picture books.”

“I have 2 6 year olds, a 2.5 year old and 7 mo. Old. I hear ya, it’s hard and chaotic and sometimes I wonder if I’m doing or getting enough in 😉 then I talk to other homeschool moms who have older ones and they all tell me it’s a season and that I’m doing just fine.”

This was my reply…

“Oh girl!!! It does get easier! Those early years are just so hard. Some days just maintaining even a small amount of sanity is considered a huge success! Those are some young and close together kiddos, I suggest massive amounts of grace for yourself. Keep things simple during these years. Have fun, love those babies, rejoice in the small things, and do not worry about how much you cross off of your homeschool list!!! Praying for you right now!”

I think most if not all of us live in a state of crazy much of the time, yet somehow many of us tend to convince ourselves that we are alone in the crazy

Rejoice in knowing you are not alone, I am most certainly crazy too! Winking smile

Never Planned to Homeschool

Never Planned to Homeschool

I have a real life friend with a 4 year old, and their family is in the trenches of THE decision.  What educational option is best for their family, their daughter?  As I invited her over and offered to let her pick my brain {what’s left of it}, it occurred to me that I have thousands of readers with this exact same dilemma.  I have answered it briefly here and there, but never in a complete blog post.  So, for my friend, and for all of you who are my “friends,” I share our journey with you.  The road that led to homeschool, but began with nothing resembling homeschool!


My Background

I babysat since the moment I can remember, I absolutely loved children and would babysit for free if it meant I could spend time with cute kids.  I went to college with no real plans in mind and midway through my sophomore year I decided to be a Nutritionist.  I soon learned that I would have to take Organic Chemistry and I knew I had to change direction.  I remember sitting in the counselor’s office to declare my major and the moment I chose Early Childhood Education and why.  I had no clue what I really wanted to do, but I KNEW I wanted to be a good mom, so I chose the major that I thought would help me with that. The counselor tried to talk me into education K-6, and I purposely chose Early Childhood Ed with B-K {birth through Kindergarten} certification. I thought that would be best for my mothering goals and if I did decide to teach I knew I had no desire teaching beyond the Kindergarten level.

So, I completed my degree, with several internships, one being Montessori based, which is where my passion for Montessori came from. I went on to teach Kindergarten in the public school system for 4 1/2 years and loved {almost} every moment of it. I stopped teaching right before PacMan was born, to begin my journey as a mom.


Original School Plans

I love the group education model and always desired to send my own children to public school.  I had no problems with private schooling, or homeschooling, just believed that MY kids would attend public school, and thrive!  My husband agreed, as we both attended public schools for our educational journey.  There was never really a question in our minds about the schooling choice for our children, until…


Missionary Living

When PacMan was almost 2 we transitioned into missionary life in the inner city.  This process is a whole different story, but here I will share how that transition affected our schooling future. We live in a big American city, in the heart of the “ghetto” and unfortunately the schools around us aren’t schools we wanted to send our children to. We looked into a few private schools and just never felt led to that route, for many reasons {financial, and others}. So, it became clear we had to figure out what we were going to do and I began thinking and exploring when PacMan was just 3. I had 2 amazing friends who homeschooled {one is Shannon who writes the Calendar Connections cards!} who were inspiring to me, but I still didn’t think it was the choice for us. I still had no clue we would eventually become homeschoolers!


The Year of Indecision

During that year of indecision, we enrolled PacMan in a preschool 2 days a week at a local His 1st Day of Going SchoolChristian school that one of the other missionary families’ children attended. At the time it worked out fine and he loved it.  Later I learned that this was a bit of a mistake, and maybe my own selfish desires led me to be OK with that decision.  I was working full time as the children’s ministry leader and I needed those few hours of work time.  Once we made the decision to homeschool, I paid the price for this transitional decision as Pac begged to go back to “going school” as he called it.

In hindsight, I wish I would have kept him home, but I also don’t regret sending him.  I know, that’s a bit contradictory, but I am certain I gained valuable insight by him going to preschool, and the experience for him was positive.  Even if it was the wrong decision, God redeems and all is well.


I feel the Holy Spirit Leading us to HOMESCHOOL, AHH!

Obviously we came to the decision to homeschool and although I don’t remember the final decision or the conversation that solidified the decision, I do remember feeling fully guided by the Holy Spirit. I can’t say I felt certain, but I did feel peace in the direction we were taking. A few very specific things led to our decision.

  1. Our location. The public schools weren’t what we desired for our children and the private schools weren’t a good fit for us.
  2. Our missionary lifestyle ~ we work odd hours, take odd time off and really benefit from a year long schedule not hindered by a public school schedule.  We take vacations during the off season with grandparents, and are able to have our weekly day off easily be on Friday instead of a normal weekend {my husband works on Saturdays and being a ministry family, we “work” on Sunday too.}.
  3. Daddy’s daily work hours ~ my husband leads the recovery ministry at our church and also runs the work training ministry. He is the full time missionary during this season of life and his plate is full.  He is also currently in college, completing his Bible degree and also getting his masters degree in Christian counseling. If our kids went to school, he wouldn’t have the time with him that we feel is valuable to our family.  He spends lots of time with them, even with his busy work routine.  He is able to do this because we homeschool.
  4. Educational freedom ~ I wanted to be the one influencing my children on a daily basis for so many hours a day.  Back in my teaching days I knew many wonderful teachers, but I also knew many I would not want my children spending hours and hours per day with.  I really dislike the lack of input a parent has on who the teacher is. I have no viable solution for this, other than to do it myself. The luck of the draw just wasn’t sitting well with us, and having an entire year led by a man or woman that wasn’t someone we felt comfortable with was very concerning. Now, even saying that I do know that had we chosen public school God would work it all out for good. Even though I say this, I also trust God fully and know that even if my children were with a teacher we didn’t approve of, God would always be there with them and in the situation.
  5. Ability to adapt to the needs of my children ~ I love figuring out a child’s learning style.  Learning about Multiple Intelligences was a favorite topic of mine in college, I love how unique all children are.  Homeschooling gives me the awesome challenge and opportunity to adapt to my children in a very specific way.  This has really benefitted Krash, who I think would fall between the cracks in a group education model.

OK, but HOW will we homeschool?

Once the decision was made I became overwhelmed with all of the choices.  Being so overwhelmed led me to look into public cyber charter schools, and I went to an open house and was impressed.  The school we ended up choosing seemed to be a good fit and the more I learned about Calvert, the more I felt it was a good start for us.  We began our homeschooling journey with the idea that we would take it one year at a time and one kid at a time.  What works for one season of life may not work always and what works for one of our kids may not work for all of them. I knew if the cyber school was a bomb, I could always homeschool the way my friends did and figure it out that way.  Honestly, choosing a cyber school gave me a peace at first and I am totally pleased with that decision.  I was lacking confidence, yes – even having been a teacher. I was extremely overwhelmed and felt that I would somehow fail my children.  The cyber school was a completely positive and supportive experience for us and still is to this day.  I have heard other stories that haven’t gone the way mine has, so I am hesitant to even say how much we love our situation.  We are very blessed indeed. I have more FAQ about our cyber school choice here.



The First Year of Homeschooling

I must admit, I wanted to quit the first year.  I had dreams of the big yellow bus driving by Color Treeand waving as my son hopped on!  PacMan was a VERY strong willed little boy and the early days of homeschooling him were very exhausting. He fought me on almost everything and I often thought we made the wrong choice. But we pressed on, knowing that we truly felt that God had led us on this journey.

Gradually we found our groove and each year it got better, but I still struggled with my fear about messing up my kids.  I knew I could swing Kindergarten and 1st grade but beyond that I was certain I would fail them.


7 Years Later…

My oldest will enter 6th grade in the fall, Krash will be a 2nd grader and Ladybug is a preschooler. I am currently re-learning 6th grade material so I will be fully prepared to teach my son in the fall.  I was one of those A & B students who tested well.  I memorized information and then dumped it out of my brain forever.  It still amazes me {in a bad way} what I don’t know.  Basic facts of history, math, grammar rules and more.  I am truly relearning much of what I am now teaching.

I can honestly tell you I love homeschooling. Not because it is easy, but because I know it is right for our family at this time.  Around 3rd grade things got MUCH easier with Pac, and now we have a groove that works. Personally,  I still struggle more than you will ever know and I still doubt, but overall I am confident in the path God has placed me on.  I know He is walking beside me and will never ask me to do anything He feels I cannot handle!  My fears are goofy, I am consistently reminded of that.


What About You?

When I am asked for advice, I tell my friends that they must seek the will of the Lord for their family.  What works for one may not work for another.  I have no problem with public, private, hybrid or any other educational model.  Just because I homeschool {and use a cyber school} doesn’t mean I believe it is the only correct choice.  It is right for our family.  Praying and seeking as a family is deeply important.

One thing I will tell you is that I don’t think anyone should NOT homeschool out of fear. We all have fears, even the best homeschoolers have fears.  I have listened to the greats, met them at conferences and have learned that they too were just like us.  Women who struggle with doubts, fears, and who lack the confidence to believe that we truly are what’s best for our kids.

Remember, you can always change your mind.  That’s why we have the one year, one kid at a time policy.  If it isn’t working, seek the Lord and pray more.  Maybe you will feel called to stick it out as we did, but maybe you are in a situation that isn’t right and you need to change. It is a decision only your family can make with God’s guidance.  The best advice in the world can’t come from friends or blogs, it comes from the Lord.


Think YOU Might want to Homeschool?

Head over to my friend Jolanthe’s amazing and helpful blog series, Homeschool Basics



See our 2015 update here…

The Perfect Catalyst

Philippians 4 verse 6 and 7


I am struggling as a parent in a very specific area.  I am praying, I am seeking, I am IMG_3753 copy 2reading, I am trying desperately to get out of God’s way so I can become the parent He needs me to be.  God gave me a child very different from myself, my sweet and adorable Krash.  I have known how different he is from me since early on.  He has always been our wild child, our funny one, our overly adorable and cute one.  He is daring, loud, exciting, adventurous, hyper, loving, intense, hilarious, determined, extreme, caring, energetic, bold, and courageous. He is what some would call all boy.  I can’t count how many times the phrase “he’s lucky he’s so cute” has been said by someone!

I am an only child, and a girl.  Having 2 boys first in our line up of 3 children has knocked me clear out of my comfort zone.  Honestly having more than one child has done it to me too.  I grew up in a very quiet home, being the only one – the noise, if any, came from me!  With 3 kids, the noise is intense and with Krash thrown in-it goes beyond intense.  PacMan is a quieter person overall,  and he and I have come a long way regarding his behavior and strong will.  He is much more like me in personality so even though we but heads, I understand him more since we are more similar.  Ladybug is me in almost every way possible.  She is difficult and extremely dramatic, but I get her.  Then there’s my Krash, the one who throws me off in a way I never imagined.  He is where my deepest prayers are centered right now.


I struggle with anxiety, which is triggered greatly by noise, transition, and unexpected things.  Krash is all of those rolled up into one.  He is very intense and unpredictable and will throw me off in a split second.  I react to him in ways I wish I wouldn’t.  I damage his little spirit, I know I do.  That’s why I am writing, putting it out there, typing through the feelings inside of me in hopes that somehow this can be a part of my healing.

I know the right answers, I even counsel other parents at times who have kids like him.  It is much easier to know the right things, I am trying to DO them and really struggling.  I know what damages him, I know that things I say must make him feel like there is something wrong with his intense little spirit.  I know God created him to be this way and that he is awesome…I just can’t figure out how to stop getting my buttons pushed.  My immaturity in my responses to him just overwhelms me at times.  How could I possibly have just reacted the way I did?  How can I let those words come out of my mouth?  If I heard another mom speaking that way to her child I would be sad. Those thoughts and more just replay in mind all of the time. IMG_3827 copy

I vow to change, I commit to speak gently and to watch my tone, to be more patient.  I fail, I fail, I fail.  Honestly I am just so tired of failing in such an important area of life-raising my precious son.  He deserves so much more.  Truth is, he is an awesome kid.  He is SO much fun, so energetic, so funny, and enjoyable.  The core of who he is is a person I really truly like, not just love – I really like him.

Lately, I haven’t been liking him as much because I am letting my emotions get in the way.  He has been struggling with the grumpies lately and overreacting about just about everything.  He has little fits and he moans, and sighs a LOT.  He shows negative behaviors that are a bit out of character for his normally happy self, and I am seeing selfishness step in and pull him away. 

IMG_0573As our middle child, I am also seeing him struggle to find his place, struggle to find his time.  Ladybug gets lots of one on one time being the youngest.  Pac gets a lot of one on one time naturally since he is much older.  Krash struggles to fit into this and even though I try and am aware of this need to pour into him – I fail. The oldest and the youngest naturally get more attention.

So, where does this leave me?  It leaves me on my knees.  I am no where near where I desire to be as a parent of this child.  I have so much growth left to do, and I am not giving up.  Currently I am re-reading a book {Answering the 8 Cries of the Spirited Child} I read when Pac was young and going through a very strong willed couple of years {major success with that kid I tell ya}. I remember highlighting portions when I was reading it years ago, and the reason was very different.  I am finding the same portions hitting me in the heart again and praying to be molded into a more Godly parent.  Recently I Instagram-ed {I am 1plus1plus1 on Instagram} this…

I need this child, God gave him to me on purpose.  I usually think of that in regards to God never giving me more than I can handle, and knowing that I am the right parent for him…but thinking of it this way is way more humbling.  It isn’t just about me dealing with Krash, it is about God using Krash to mold my character and help me become more like Christ. 

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Lord, use this awesome child of yours to make me more like you.  As I strive to not worry about this and pray about it, while trusting in your promise to bring me peace beyond all understanding, {Philippians 4:6-7} I thank you Lord in advance for your work in me, and ask you to continue to work more and more in my heart and mind.

Do you have a perfect catalyst to bring you opportunities to develop more Godly character?