Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stargazing and campfires and FUN!

The nights are getting cooler and the stars have been spectacular for the past few nights - hope you've had a chance to go outside and check out the night sky. This is the time of year when we have the perfect opportunity to become familiar with the stars and do some serious stargazing.

This is also the time of year that we turn our weekend evenings into campfire nights and stargazing adventures. I recently read a wonderful article in the September/October issue of Grit magazine - the article is "Spectacular Stargazing" by Letitia L. Star, and the subtitle is "The sun goes down, stars come out, wonder begins." If you can find this issue, check out this article, along with several other very interesting articles - like the one on birdwatching.

From the time we moved to the country, we have always made a tradition of weekend campfires and trying to spot shooting stars and orbiting satellites. We invite friends and make smores, and enjoy the spectacular view of the Milky Way. Even if you live in a city, perhaps there is a park on the outskirts of town where you can have a cookout and get away from the bright city lights to see things like the Big Dipper and Orion.

Enjoy these days and starry nights,
Amanda B.


Thanksgiving book suggestions on sale at

Just wanted to share the good news that some favorite Thanksgiving books
are now listed on BookCloseouts:

The First Thanksgiving
Author: George, Jean Craighead

Thanksgiving, What Makes It Special?  - Boardbook
Author(s): Kurisu, Jane (Ilt), Myra, Harold 

Thanksgiving: What Makes It Special?
Author(s): Kurisu, Jane (Ilt), Myra, Harold 

Squanto and The Miracle Of Thanksgiving
Author: Metaxas, Eric  

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation 
 Author(s): Berry, Holly (Ilt), Stanley, Diane  

The Very First Thanksgiving Day 
Author:  Gaber, Susan (Ilt), Greene, Rhonda Gowler 

The Night Before Thanksgiving 
Author:  Lyon, Tammie (Ilt), Wing, Natasha  

Off to Plymouth Rock 
Author:  Barretta, Gene (Ilt),
Mackall, Dandi Daley

The Kids' Holiday Baking Book 
Author:  Black, Rosemary

Hope these help,
Amanda B.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Finally, a cookbook with EASY recipes that are GREAT!

For those of you that are good cooks, please just skip this entry. I recently discovered a wonderful new paperback cookbook at WalMart called "Mom's Best Meals" from Taste of Home magazine. So far, every single recipe that I have tried has turned out beautifully, and the recipes call for affordable ingredients that are around most homes. The magazine has almost 30 sets of recipes for Mom's best meals from around the country - and the results are exciting meals that are simple to prepare, AND the family loves them! Please recall that cooking is not one of my better-known skills. :-) I tend to cook using the smoke-detector method - when the smoke detector goes off, dinner must be done!

I;ve tried many of the recipes - including "Pillowtop Rolls" (I cheated and made the recipe in my bread machine - fantastic!), upside down strawberry shortcake, baked ziti, and many more - magnificent and the guys here are now cruising the kitchen with their noses working, trying to figure out what smells so good!

I don't know about you, but I tend to get in a rut with recipe and menu selection after a while, and infusions like those from this book are a great motivator for me.

I found mine at the checkout rack in a local WalMart - look for yours and enjoy!

Amanda B.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Autumn Unit Study Package sale ends soon...

Don't miss this exciting and timely package which includes the Elections, American Government, Thanksgiving and Christmas Unit Studies for a very special price! Sixteen weeks of learning adventures for only $39.95 --  the package includes all four unit studies as well as the companion notebooking pages. Follow this link to learn more:

Autumn Unit Study Package

Amanda B.


Monday, September 1, 2008

September Learning Links

Symbols of the American Government Activity Booklet

Project Vote Smart

Presidential Seal Coloring Page

Campaign Games

Hitting the Campaign Trail for Kids

Kids in the House (of Representatives)

Activity Pages for Kids about the House of Representatives

The Living Room Candidate – Presidential Commercials from 1952 – 2004

Quiz for Kids – Presidents and Baseball

Quiz for Kids – White House Pets 

Play Presidential Baseball Online

Labor Day Recipes from AllRecipes (I think the Bucket Salad sounds like our speed!


Autumn 2008 Unit Study Package    $39.95
Retail value if purchased separately: $59.80
Sale ends September 2, 2008

 Get ready for an exciting season of learning with this new unit study package!

This package includes sixteen weeks of daily lessons, ready to use on arrival -
no other books required. The following studies and their companion notebooking pages are  included in this CDROM package:

 American Government





20/20 hindsight tips for homeschooling success

When I am on the road speaking at conventions, I am often asked about what I would differently if I could do it all over again - and here's my list:

1. Have less textbook stress, more individualized focus. 

2. Focus on the child, not the information lists

3. Expand the family's horizons – as individuals and as a family 

4. Listen more, talk less – avoiding the "transmit only" mode

5. Encourage more often, instead of being judgmental or comparative


I wish I had known to relax and enjoy the time together as a family more. In the beginning, we were so nervous about covering everything, using all of the workbook pages, filling up the plan book ahead of time and sticking with it rigidly. So much stress, so little long-term learning, and so little enjoyment of the educational process. 

The more we homeschool, the broader our interests become. No longer pursuing narrow, society-defined topics alone, we enjoy the freedom to investigate topics like horticulture, sports fitness, glass painting, business and economic concepts for kids, personalized pursuits of art, music, and so much more.

You will never be able to completely fill their minds with absolutely every bit of available information – but you CAN teach them or learn WITH them about how to FIND all kinds of information that they might need to know – research skills are vital for this next generation. The overabundance of information on the internet is so overwhelming, and at the same time – provides priceless access to things that we could never have found through a local library. Give them the gift of thinking skills and research ability. 

Remember, homeschooling is not just about learning academic material. It is about opening the envelop of each child's imagination with wonder and awe – feeding their desire to learn more, to investigate, to discover and pursue their unique God-given gifts and talents.

What do I know now that I wish we had known when we first started homeschooling?

  1. The things that count can't be counted.

  2. Time goes by too quickly to worry about or obsess over small things, like whether or not my child can read by the time they are five years old, etc.

  3. Keep the big picture in the forefront – getting from point A (beginning homeschooling) to point B (finish homeschooling) – remember that perspective is key to success. While we might miss algebra this week due to family illness, we will still focus on the desired outcome – a well-rounded and enthusiastic learner by the time high school is complete.

 I hope you are encouraged - and know that I believe in YOU!

Amanda B.

Launching into September!

It is back to schooling time these days, and summer vacation is drawing to an end. Someone asked recently if we schooled year-round and I had to laugh – I don’t think that homeschooling families ever “stop” homeschooling. Once homeschooling becomes an integral part of family life, the learning seems to carry on regardless of what the calendar indicates. The kids still love to read and go to the library and bookstores – can you imagine telling them to stop reading now that it is time for summer break? Projects seem to multiply rapidly over the summer months in their areas of interest – including areas like electronics, insect collecting, quilting, entrepreneurial interests (lawn care, babysitting, jewelry making, etc), cooking adventures, and much more. No, learning seems to accelerate during the summer breaks!

As you move into a new season of learning, there is plenty of distraction to contend with as we try to invigorate these young minds to absorb things like algebra and long division. With so much going on in the world these days, the pace of life seems to becoming a bit more frantic as more people are becoming concerned with both national and world politics. As your children get old enough to be aware of current events, they begin to notice and ask excellent questions. Help them find the answers and get a solid understanding of the issues. With the upcoming elections, talk about which issues are important for your family and why, and help them find out how the candidates stand on these issues.  

This is a time of year when we are still enjoying the blessings of summer, knowing that the next season is just around the corner. The autumn signals are gathering as leaves begin to show changes and the nights grow a bit cooler. Catch on to the blessings of each day and enjoy them with your family. The lessons will go on and the learning will continue, just make sure to enjoy the people that you call “family” along the way!

I hope you and your crew are enjoying a long and peaceful Labor Day weekend. While most of us will be relaxing this weekend, some will be evacuating ahead of Hurricane Gustav. For those of you along the Gulf Coast, please know that you’ve got our prayers for your safety through this storm and the days that follow.  

Amanda B.


Labor Day S-A-L-E

Holiday Combo Package
 ONLY  $19.95   (through 09/02/08)

  Thanksgiving Unit Study CDROM

  Christmas Unit Study CDROM