Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What’s Working Right Now in Our Homeschool

Some days work better than others, right?

I’m quickly realizing the value in reviewing our days to see what works and what doesn’t. Well, I’ve actually been doing that subconsciously nearly my entire adult life. That’s how you make things better, make better choices, improve life. Right?

Let me back up a bit and start over.

I’ve always been a list-maker, but it seems that the blogosphere has exploded these last few years with list-makers promoting all sorts of detailed written reviews in pretty journals. This has made me think that there’s some benefit from deliberately thinking through what works and what doesn’t work and making an actual list. I’m posting it here with the hope that what we do might inspire or encourage you. And if you have any insights, please share!

Dual enrollment. I posted on this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t mention that it also is benefiting our younger grades. We all go to the college, and the Littles and I find a common/study area for school and writing-work. This is turning out to be quite productive for us since all distractions from home are eliminated ~ very few toys available, no DVDs, no constant asking for a snack.

Bubble gum. This isn’t a discussion about what type of gum is better for dental health. J It’s simply a comment that sometimes it is helpful to have something occupying a mouth other than constant chatter. 

Fun pens. My birth mother and her husband sent each of the children a unique set of pens for their birthdays. When the pen is fun to use, you want to use it more…more writing, more drawing. And it doubles as a toy.

Yogurt for lunch. Our family of eight eats lunch together at the college two days each week. That means lunches have to be fast and easy to prepare in the darkness of the late night before or the early morning of our day. Yogurts come in a variety of flavors to please everyone, are easy to pull from the refrigerator and throw in the cooler, and are good for us. (L. acidophilus and calcium! Just be sure to avoid the ones full of high fructose corn syrup.)

Boxed curriculum. I’ve blogged before about how I would love to create my own curriculum but didn’t think I had the time. I admire those mothers who cobble together bits and pieces and have fun doing it. In this super-busy season of life and especially now that we’re on the go more with six different grades in tow, I am beyond grateful that we have a curriculum that meets our needs and lesson plans are done for me. We still piece in whatever we’re interested in, but I don’t worry about having the basics covered.

What’s working in your homeschool ~ or life ~ right now?

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Six Reasons Why We Chose Dual Enrollment for our Homeschooled High School Students

In August, we started on a new adventure in homeschooling ~ a dual enrollment class at our community college. Our then-16yo began a class called Introduction to Microcomputers, a 100-level class that teaches how to use the Microsoft Office applications Word, Power Point, Excel, and Access. Dual enrollment is the term used to describe college level classes that count for both high school and college credits. This means that these classes go on her high school transcript but also apply toward the required credits for an associate's degree.

This semester, the 15yo and the 13yo have joined her. These two are taking the Introduction to Microcomputers class together, and the three are taking French 101.

Even though my husband is a full-time faculty member at the college, it was still a decision that took some thought and prayer. In the end, here are six reasons why we chose to enroll our children.

They can have half of an associate's degree done by the time they complete high school, if not more. I'm not intending to start a debate of college vs. no college. My only point is that if a degree can be achieved without any more effort than high school already is, why not get a head start?

We can avoid the expense of homeschool curriculum for twelfth grade. Since we don't do the DVD program, our curriculum is not expensive. But if college credits can be acquired, then why spend money and time and effort on the homeschool curriculum? We have not decided completely that we will do this, but it’s nice to know that we have that option.

It's inexpensive {at least compared to four-year universities}. My husband is a professor at the community college, so our children don't have to pay tuition. It's true that this is a rather personal advantage.  {They do still have to buy books and pay minor fees.} However, community colleges are generally affordable, and a two-year degree at our local college costs around $7,000. 

It gives me a bit of a break. Okay, I'm being completely honest here. Organizing a homeschool for six children can be challenging at best, overwhelming at worst. I'm not complaining. It's been a tremendous experience for all of us, and I have no intention of quitting. But it has been helpful to hand over even just a teeny bit of the educational experience to someone else I know and trust.

The college transcripts lend credibility to our high school credits if the child should choose to continue education elsewhere. To my way of thinking, our homeschool high school transcript should be sufficient for any college to which our children may want to apply. Unfortunately, not every college sees it that way. With dual enrollment, more than a year of credits will come from an accredited community college. That doesn’t even include the completion of the associate’s degree.

The introduction to college classes and what some call The Real World can be accomplished while still under our sheltering wings. I'm not an advocate of a child going to live on a campus, except, perhaps, maybe, for a few particular Bible colleges. But with dual enrollment, my child is experiencing a new environment with her father and me right by her side.

We're several months into this dual enrollment experience, and our three teenagers are enjoying both the challenge and the independence. It's been a true blessing to be by the side of each child as he or she has spread wings and explored more of the world.

What are your thoughts on dual enrollment for homeschooled high schoolers?

It's a beautiful new style for Valentine's Day from Lilla Rose!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What We're Reading...As We Head Back to Homeschool

{This post contains affiliate links.}

We’ve had an extended Christmas break, and so just last week, we returned to homeschool and dual-enrollment college classes for all three teenagers. Reading, at this point, includes a bunch of textbooks and other school-related materials. But it also involves some for pleasure as well, just not as much. J

Do you or your family members need something new to read for these long winter days? Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration in our list.

Me ~

Publishing is so full of romance between 20-somethings that this book is unique simply because the main character is a 53yo married father. But what if you could go back and talk to your younger self? Would it change your future...or what we call the present right now? This book had me so engrossed that I neglected to get this blog post up last night. I just wanted to keep reading. 

The 17yo ~

My 17yo usually reads anywhere from three to seven books at a time. For the purposes of this post, I asked her just to give me two.

The 17yo had read a novella of Debby’s and liked it, so she decided to try another.

This missionary book is making the rounds at church. The author was a missionary to war-torn Somalia and then traveled to over 60 countries listening to the stories of believers about how their faith has survived.

The 15yo ~


The 15yo has discovered the wonderfulness that is R.M. Ballantyne and his Christian tales of adventure based on real-life events in history. Despite starting back to school, she's powered through three in the past two weeks. 

The 13yo ~

The 13yo received a kindle for Christmas, and since then, he has been reading up a storm! Right now, he’s in the midst of a series set in Australia, a series his sisters read and loved and recommended to him. It’s good for both girls and boys.

The 11yo ~

I don't normally allow much fantasy, especially when it isn’t Christian-based. But the 13yo, a few years ago, started reading Geronimo Stilton books, a series that is supposed to be written by a mouse named Geronimo. They are cute books with terrific pictures and interesting fonts. So when we found the series called The Kingdom of Fantasy, I only hesitated briefly. The books are still interesting and colorful, terrific for showing a child how fun reading can be, and they’ve also allowed for many necessary conversations about reality versus fantasy and good versus evil.

The 8yo ~

The 8yo’s reading skill has really improved this past school year, and he’s now starting the Left Behind Kids series. Exciting and adventuresome but with a good dose of faith!

The 6yo ~

We’re working through phonics, and he’s doing well. When I asked him what his favorite read-aloud book was right now, he said the Geronimo Stilton book the 11yo is reading. She’s reading aloud to her little brothers, which makes for good practice for her as well. Double win! J

What are you reading right now?

Another Lilla Rose sale, but it only lasts 41 hours, so don't delay!
The February flexi-of-the-month has released early, and a couple of other new styles are being released {including the amazing Morning Joy which looks just like a coffee cup and I've posted below}, so click through to see them all.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It was a dark and stormy night… ~ Another Love Inspired Suspense book and an invitation!

We have been having the strangest weather in Indiana. Single-digit temperatures and ice last weekend, and tonight, warm with thunderstorms.

So, it was a dark and stormy night…when I finished the final edits for my second Love Inspired Suspense novel coming this August ~ Deadly Disclosure!

The more I worked with this story, the more excited I became about it. One of the central themes is adoption, a theme that’s near and dear to me both as a believer adopted into the family of God and also as an adult adoptee.

All I can tell you right now is the title ~ Deadly Disclosure ~ and the release date of August 2017.

I’m beginning an author newsletter, and that’s where I’ll share the cover image and the back cover blurb first. I plan to include something personal and not just book news, and I hope to send it out about four times each year. I’ll also be giving away a little something with each newsletter, whether it be a print book, an e-book, or an Amazon gift card. Who doesn’t like free stuff? J

So, if you want to be among the first to see the cover art and get sale information as well as be entered in a drawing each time, sign up in the form below.

I would be honored if you subscribed to my quarterly author newsletter! Book news will be shared here first, and there'll also be a little personal or family information as well as a giveaway with each newsletter! See you there! 

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I continue to be so, so grateful for each of you! Thank you for reading this little blog, thank you for reading Under Duress, and thank you for making dreams come true!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Enough ~ My One Word 2017

I’ve never been a joiner. That could be a result of my introversion. I like to stand back and observe and learn the lay of the land before I jump into the unknown (or at least what feels like the unknown to me). Even then, I only jump in when it seems like a valuable use of my time.

So when this One Word phenomenon began, I was skeptical.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple-tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?” Henry David Thoreau in Walden

In December, though, I read the book. I finally got the point. J I prayed about whether or not I should even jump on the #myoneword train, and it seemed that the Lord, almost immediately, gave me a word. So, I think it's worth a go for 2017.

I put my word on a ledger sheet because I am enough. I don't need to keep a record of my wrongs. I ought not tally up all my misgivings or doubts or moments of negative self-talk. I certainly should not keep a spreadsheet of all the goals and dreams and wonderings I’ve not accomplished.

I am enough.

God is enough.

I own enough

I do enough

Enough already with the negative self-talk. 

Enough with the unrealistic expectations.

Enough with people who drag me down spiritually and emotionally.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant…. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV

There’s something on the periphery of my consciousness that God wants to speak to me that I can’t quite grasp. Something about enough and my time spent with him. But now doesn’t seem to be the right time for that communication.


Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:16 NKJV

Maybe #myoneword will be enough for the new year. J

Has the Lord given you a word for 2017? If you’re comfortable, please share it in the comments.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

I pray that your love for God and for others will grow in the new year,
that joy will abound in your heart,
and that peace may reside in your spirit.

Merry Christmas!

FYI for next Monday!

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Eleven Ways to Have a Merrier Christmas

Greet your loved ones with a hug and a "Merry Christmas" first thing in the morning.

Simplify your meal. Whatever you enjoy making, then go ahead and make it. But can some things be made more easily or {gasp} store-bought? I've had pretty good pies and rolls from the grocery store.

Give the gift of your encouragement and time rather than so many material gifts. Rather than be overwhelmed with stuff, speak life and graciousness into the lives of those you spend the day with.

Count your blessings, name them one by one.

Kiss your sweetheart under the mistletoe.

Give an extra amount to a needy organization.

As you are out shopping, ask the Lord to show you a family to whom you can give a twenty-dollar bill. A few years ago, when we still had a baby in a car seat, a woman approached me at the Sam’s Club snack bar and pressed a twenty-dollar bill into my hand. She said, “The Lord wanted me to bless someone with this today. Buy your children some pizza.” I was astounded and thanked her profusely. Then, we sat down with the children and relaxed in the middle of the busy season.

Eat cookies, even if they are store-bought. J

Wear your favorite outfit, hair accessory, boots, or scarf.

Meditate on Luke 2:1-20. Better yet, memorize it, even if you can only manage a few verses.

Fix your hot beverage of choice in your prettiest mug and sit by the tree to contemplate the lights and decorations. What does the Light of the World want to whisper to your heart? Is He speaking to you this Christmas Day?

What suggestions can you add to have a merrier Christmas?

I know I wrote above to give the gift of encouragement, but when you do give material presents, 
a Lilla Rose hair accessory can make a great gift!

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