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Hannibal's Elephant Ears {Ancient Rome}

Hannibal was a Carthaginian general who, during the 2nd Punic War (war between Rome and Carthage), took a herd of elephants over the Alps to attack Rome. I can only imagine the surprised look of the Romans, who had never seen elephants before! But, these were no ordinary elephants. They were trained war elephants, who "when they were told to attack, spread their ears wide out to make their heads even wider," and were painted to look more terrifying, according to Susan Wise Bauer in The Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links).

This was one of the activities from the The Story of the World Activity Book. A treasury that I wished I had picked up sooner. Of all the sticky notes I had sticking out of the Ancient Rome section, this one appealed to me the most. It was not only a very easy and fun activity, they were also very good.

I started with a simple dough recipe, rolled the dough flat, smothered it in melted butter, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top, rolled it up, and sliced it to make cinnamon rolls.

Then we rolled the cinnamon rolls flat and fried them in oil to make "Hannibal's Elephant Ears."

And we served them to an "army" of hungry kids, but not before we sprinkled them with more cinnamon sugar.

They were very good! (Too good!) Rolling them up like cinnamon rolls before you cook them, makes them flakey and irresistible!

Too irresistible! I had a plateful on the counter when I left to run errands and all I could think about was coming home to eat another one, but they were all gone when I got home.

So, we made them again!

Project Life 2013: Bath Time for Bo

This is a favorite spread of mine because I am using a 12x12 photo for the first time.

And I'm a fan.

I didn't feel the need to journal on this spread, so I let the title cards speak for themselves. Though, I should go in and add something about Snuggle Puppy. (Aff link) A dear friend gave that to me for Bo and he brought it to me to sing to him for a long time. It is a sweet love song to sing to your little one.  And could be the reason why Bo loves his "woos" (puppies) so much.

The "you" is an Ali Edwards Stamp from her Hello Life Boxes Brushes and Stamps No. 03 set.

This is my first spread in my album, after my title page. Bo just turned 2 here, so I wanted to capture more of his little life to remember.

I didn't share much of my life in 2013. My goal in doing this Project Life share is to not only to share more of our life behind the blog, but also as a motivation to work on my Project Life!

My Title Page:

Tip: Amazon carries Project Life, and you are welcome to use my affiliate links, but I no longer buy all my Project Life from Amazon now that Michaels and Hobby Lobby carries it. Hobby Lobby has a weekly 40% off coupon to use on one product, and Michaels has a weekly 50% off coupon for another. So between them both, I get my Project Life at a marked discount. I use my iPhone to pull up the coupon and show them my phone when I check out. Last time I was in Michaels the albums were 50% off, so I bought the Midnight album and used the coupon to buy the Midnight edition core kit .

Recording your Homeschool Memories

This post may be my hardest to write because this topic is so near to my heart that I want it to be perfect. I almost wished I hadn't chose embracing imperfection as my word for the year. I know that Father is faithful to grow me in this area and He jumped right to the task to do just that with this series.

Today, I would like to talk about memory keeping for homeschoolers.


"Cultivate a good {homeschool} life and record it."

The quote is from Project Life's Becky Higgin's motto: "Cultivate a good life and record it."

As the quote suggests, Project Life is so much more than just preserving memories. It is about cultivating a good life and then recording it.

Let's apply that to homeschooling...

Part of cultivating a good {homeschool} life is... ___________.

Fill in the blank!

What does cultivating a good {homeschool} life mean to YOU?

Part of cultivating a good {homeschool} life is...

  • reading to my children. I want my children to have fond memories of reading as a young child.

  • unplugging to plug into my children.

  • tuning in to their learning styles so they can thrive.

I will share more about Project Life below, but I want you to know that you can document your homeschool story in many ways.

2. Document Your Homeschool in a Tangible Way

This can be done ANY way you want. You invest many precious hours and days into homeschooling.  Whether you are required to record keep in your state or not, it helps you and your children to see all you have accomplished! I document on my blog and in a tangible way for my children to see. After all, they don't read my blog and benefit from it in the same way I do.

I do this in many ways.

At first, I wrote notes right in my Sonlight IG's and dated it. I slipped artwork, samples of their work, and even photos or newspaper clippings right into my IG. (This is why I could never part with my old IG's!).

Be still my heart. ♥ Dylan at age 5.

I also had their notebooking pages bound into a book. These are the days before Apologia had pre-made journals, (which I now love).  But, we also made books for our Around the World study, our United States study, and more.

Then, I discovered lapbooking, which I converted to a LapJournal for easier storage.

LapJournal  is...

A lapbook, a scrapbook, and a portfolio ~ a record of our learning time together.

I used the LapJournal to document our FI♥AR journey.  Our school work, narrations, illustrations, lapbooks, printables, worksheets, activities and art work are in our journals.

What we used to make the lap journal:

  • Binder (we use a 3 inch binder ~ buy the locking kind!)
  • Colored cardstock and printer paper
  • Heavy weight sheet protectors (can use lightweight for notebooking pages)
  • Rubber cement (cleans up nicely ~ be sure to let it completely dry before putting the page in the sheet protector as it bubbles the plastic if you don't!)
  • Vis-a-Vis Wet Erase Markers (to reuse printables)
  • scissors, crayons, color pencils, etc.

What goes inside?
  • A color photo copy of the book we rowed (this is a great visual aid to help the children remember the books!)
  • Lapbooks lapbooked on 8.5 x11 cardstock
  • Notebooking pages
  • Narration and Illustrations
  • Copywork
  • Printable activities (Tot packs, Preschool Packs, etc.)
  • File folder games (just trim the ends so they will fit in the sheet protectors)
  • Collages
  • Artwork
  • Photos
  • Lesson planning sheets
  • Anything you can fit!

I use the binder method because it keeps everything together and organized so nicely. I also use a binder to store all of Bo's Tot School Printables.

These "memories" are important to Bo. He loves to look back through, and pull out printables and activities from his binder. He often finds pages that he didn't want to finish at the time, and finishes them, or just reminisces over all that he accomplished as a two year old. :) He feels happy and proud of his work, and that encourages him to put his little heart into all that he does! 

Documenting your child's work builds their self-esteem.

And a healthy self-esteem is vital to our relationship with others and with God.

If you have time, and like to be creative, you can do more traditional scrapbooking with your children's work. I made this album with Malachi's preschool.

In fact, I was a traditional scrapbooker for 15+ years before I discovered Project Life.

But, I was becoming further and further behind on my scrapbooking and had less time to make memories with this system. 
"If you want to keep your memories, you first have to live them." ~ Bob Dylan

When I discovered Project Life and it revolutionized the way I record our memories! 

I have more time to make memories and record them than ever before!

3.  Consider Project Life to Simplify {and enjoy!} the Process

Project Life is a back-to-basics approach to memory-keeping. This system is so simple, that it's revolutionary." ~ Becky Higgins

It's really so simple, that I get carried away. When I first started, I put TWO years of our life into ONE album. And now I put ONE year of our life into TWO albums. And that's just my family albums.
It's that simple. It's just my photos + our story.

When I started working on a school album, I played around with combining my lapjournal/binder system with Project Life...

Project Life met our FI♥AR LapJournal:

Photos + Our Story

At first, I added lapbooks right into the album, along with photos, samples of work, and journaling. But, I moved away from using lapbooks in my Project Life albums, and just include samples, photos of lapbooks, or special works of heart.

This works better for me.

4. What else works for me? {The practical aspect of doing Project Life} 

  • getting all of my photos and a core kit into an album and journaling later.
  • having a variety of page designs so that I can work smarter.
  • storing those pocket pages in a Project Life album. I use clear dividers to separate each design and it is a snap to find the page design I need. (I got this awesome tip in Becky's CreativeLive class).
  • having my supplies out at all times so I can work on them anytime.
  • using the blank journaling cards for kids to draw/write on.
  • having 4x6 and 6x6 white card stock cut to size for artwork and drawings.
  • resizing larger artwork on my copier - I reduce an 8.5x11 paper by 50-60%, depending on how much of the paper they took up. (My little ones like having a bigger space to work with, and the miniature versions of their heart work are so stinkin' cute!)

Samples of artwork and drawings that have been resized (from my 2011 family album).

  • printing lapbooks and preschool packs with Project Life in mind (resizing where necessary).
  • using LESS lapbooking or just including a sample of their work ~ I have a tendency to want to include everything! so I'm really working on saving what is really important to me. Right now that is almost everything, but I am getting better. ;-)
  • saving what will go in my albums - my children's handwriting, pictures they draw, their narrations and illustrations, art work and of course, photos! I especially love little hands, tongues sticking out, thoughtful expressions, smiles of joy, working together, looks of concentration, and them showing me their work. :D
  • documenting each day in a draft blog post - If I take 5-10 minutes each night to make notes about what we did that day and include dates, it makes my job so much easier.
  • typing narrations as my little ones give them to me.
  • keeping a Pages document (on my Mac) formatted for journaling cards (if I type my cards).
  • printing my journaling cards ~ I like how clean it looks, it is much easier for me, and I don't like my handwriting, so this has worked for me for the last several years. However, since I am embracing imperfection, I am learning to like my handwiritng!
  • planning ahead. If I last used a 6x6 pocket page (Design E), then I need to be able to fill the back side with whatever we are doing next! That part can be tricky! I've made it work so far, with some creativity.
  • mixing it up, being flexible, and trying to keep it simple! I always have the option to go back and embellish my pages when my children are grown up, if I want.

Keeping it simple in this season of my life is essential for me to cultivate a good {homeschool} life.

Extra supplies I use: 

Most of my favorite pens were missing when I went to find them yesterday to take this picture, so I need to reorganize my stuff again.

How to store the albums or journal:
  • Store upright just like a scrapbook
  • Keep where the child can see it
  • Encourage them your children look through it!

5. To conclude. . . 

Part of cultivating a good {homeschool} life is...
  • creating delightful learning moments in your homeschool.

  • doing something special in your homeschool to create a memory.

  • recording those memories to instill a sense of familial identity and self-esteem in your child.

My heart is to create delightful learning moments in our homeschool by creating memories.  I share these on my blog because I love to inspire others, but mostly to document our memories and to have a record of our learning time together. It naturally has become a source of accountability, and I ♥ that!

My heart is to "cultivate a good {homeschool} life and record it." Project Life and blogging here @ Delightful Learning work naturally together to help me do that!

Project {Homeschool} Life in Action

I'd be hard pressed to share all of this and not share more pages from my albums. :)

Before Five in a Row 2010

Five in a Row 2011

This one is still in progress, but the photos are at least in an album.


And that wraps up 5 days of Homeschooling Essentials!
Thank you for reading along with me this week!

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: The Homeschool Blogger

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Sometimes, I think about my life before blogging and long for more simple homeschooling days. And I often evaluate what I would do differently in my homeschool, if I didn't blog. I would still take pictures and document what I do, I know that.  I just wouldn't be documenting it all for the world to see.

But would my homeschool be the same?

I don't believe so.

Blogging has helped me be more intentional in my homeschooling. I am a better homeschooler because I blog.

Joshua Becker @ Becoming Minimalist waxed eloquent on the subject of why you should blog and I highly recommend reading 15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog

So today, I would like to share my Top Ten Essentials for a Homeschooling Blogger.

Keep in mind, I am a hobby blogger, not a professional. ;-)

(Affiliate links are used in this post.)

1. A Laptop Computer 

Hands down, I love my MacBook Pro. I am on my 2nd one since I started blogging. The old one is now used by my husband and the kids. I have more memory and storage now :D and I'm a believer in an Apple Care Protection Plan.

I enjoy being able to take it outside on the porch in sunny weather, the backyard to watch the kids play, to the library when I need some quiet time, or to bed when I want to work late.  I also take it when we travel.

2. Digital SLR Camera

I get asked a lot so I'll let you know that I have a Canon Rebel T1i. They have a T3 out now, but I'm happy with the version I have. I often use a 55-250mm zoom lens, and I like using it for getting up close and personal - without getting up close and personal.  I keep a wireless remote timer tucked in my camera bag, but I don't use it as often as I should (namely to include myself in the photos). A few things on my wish list include: a Collapsible Photography Disc Reflector,  a Bounce Flash Device, and Camera Sling. {And maybe some time to learn how to use it better.}

While I personally love using my "big" camera, more and more I am seeing bloggers use their iPhone cameras to blog. I have an iPhone 5 and love it, but I don't like using it if I have my big camera around. I mostly use it when I don't, which is usually when I am out and about. But, I take my big camera with me if I can! It's really a habit from college - I was a writer and photographer for the student newspaper and a photography student, so I was taught to carry it with me wherever I went. Years later, I still keep it very close to me!

3. Good Lighting

I personally am drawn to photos with lots of natural light. The best way to do this is to use natural light from a window, and make sure your subject is facing the light. But avoid direct sunlight.

4. Clean and Organized School Space

Not only does it look pretty in a picture, but it helps you move from one activity to another and capture it all. I have to act fast and can't let my photography get in the way of our lessons. Our lessons are the main priority, so I try to have everything laid out and ready to go before we start. Not only does this help with the flow of our school day, but it helps me photograph it!

5. Respect 

My goal is to photograph without being intrusive, so I always I ask permission. If my child is feeling shy or does not want to be photographed, I put the camera down.

6. Conversation

I often am complimented on how happy my children look in photos. This is because they are generally happy children, but also because I am engaging them in conversation while I photograph them. It's amazing the transformation you see through the camera lens when you do.

7. Documentation

I document everything I consider noteworthy, whether it be for the blog or my personal Project Life album. Bonus if I open a blog post and write down what we did at the end of the day. Often, I will plan right in a blog post so that when I go to add photos, the post is already half written for me!

8. A Blog

Whether it be a free blogging platform like Blogger or Wordpress.com, or a self-hosted Wordpress.org blog, you need some type of platform to blog on.

9. Time

Blogging takes time! When I first started blogging, I gave up television.  As my blog grew, I had to give up other things. But, I also had to learn ways to blog more efficiently.  I am most productive when I upload and edit photos daily and not fret over making everything so perfect.

10. Quality Content 

You need something to blog about!

Build your blog on quality content that defines you and your homeschool.

My passion is delightful learning. :D  I want my children to love learning and to love "school."  And I want to love it, too!

And while my blog is about my homeschool, seeing our life and family outside of homeschooling can help with perspective, so I look forward to sharing more behind the scenes with my Let's Click and Project Life posts.

Note: Having a niche helps define you and your blog, but I am having to work myself out of a tight little niche, albeit a popular one - Five in a Row blogging. Our rows are STILL the most visited posts on my blog on any given day.

11. A Support Network

The online homeschooling community is amazing! Blogging friends are the heart of what keeps me coming back. I'm talking about organic friendships that are grown through reading other blogs and commenting on them, replying back when someone leaves you a comment, and/or visiting back. But, also being there for email support and friendship.

Social Media is a way to connect with your readers, but it is also as a tool to promote and grow your blog. I don't feel as connected to my readers through social media sites, but I'm also a little shy about it. When you see me on these sites, I have to MAKE myself do it! It is getting easier, but still not as easy as blogging.

Well, that's 10 (+ a bonus).

I thought about adding things like a blog reader, feed managers, analytics or statistic tools, etc... but I was already over 10. :)

Are you a homeschool blogger? What are your essentials? 

P.S. While blogging is important to me, it was not the near and dear essential I had planned for today. I didn't get my post finished in time, so I bumped this one up. Tomorrow, I will share that essential and wrap up this series!

We have 89 blogs participating in the blog hop this week!  You can read all of the blogs at the TOS Crew blog. I invite you to visit these lovely ladies this week:
Erica @ Be the One, Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story, Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessing, Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews,  Sharon @ Life with the Tribe, Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio, Melanie @ FinchNWren, Brittney @ Mom’s Heart & Heather @ Principled Academy

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: My "Essentials"

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

I started thinking my list of homeschooling essentials during a typical morning in our homeschool.  I wrote down everything I used one homeschooling morning and my list included various things like: books, scissors, a globe, pencils, paper, notebook, masking tape, white board, paintbrush, paint, glue, cotton balls, glitter glue, stickers, card stock, computer, printer, and my iPhone.

While "day to day" items may not be "essential" in the long run, they sure make my day easier!

Considering the practical aspects of homeschooling, some other things I depend on and/or use regularly in my homeschool include:


I need a boxed curriculum that is written and scheduled for me in this season of life.

However, I don't think any one boxed curriculum will ever meet all our needs, so we add and take away as needed.


We live across the street from the library, but I don't use it regularly because I buy most of our books. We have a homeschool library that is filled with quality children's literature and God honoring books.

Plus, it has been beneficial to own our homeschool library:

  • Encouragement: It is encouraging to my children to be able to look back at all the books they have read. I'll never forget our first year of homeschooling when my oldest sat and admired the row of books that he read. He had never read so many on his own before! Our 2nd year of homeschooling, I borrowed many books from the library and he told me that he missed being able to see that shelf of books.

  • Convenience: I have the books I need when I need them. I've often relied on a library book that was available at the beginning of a year, only to find out that it was checked out when I needed it, lost, or even worse, discarded.

Of course, we still use the library on occasion to save money, to offer go-along books, and just for the experience. I also like to use the library to read books to make sure I want them to be a part of our home library. I am relying on a set of autobiographies for Core C this semester because I did not budget for another core this school year and I wasn't sure if I would like them.

A Tote Bag to carry around those books!

I would really love a 31 Bag, but the tote I have came with our curriculum and it works.  I carry it from room to room and keep everything I need for the week in it.


Paper, pencils, scissors, glue, and craft supplies and all that stuff that having on hand makes homeschooling easier.

Science Kits

Having the science kits for the school year means no one can get out of experiments using the "we don't have everything I need" excuse.  And believe me, they do try!


A place for everything and everything in it's place? {Always a work in progress around here.}

Things get a little hard towards the end of the year, and reorganizing feels wonderful.

Buying shiny new school supplies is one of my favorite things to do at the beginning of a new year! I keep caddies or baskets around the house where we need them.

 I love baskets for all sorts of things.

I also love my Desk Apprentice. (I ordered it online from Staples.) Here is a snapshot of my organizing {in progress} for Bo's preschool.

And adding a few square book shelves this year (from Home Depot) has really helped me organize books. I don't know how I managed without them before!  My goal was to simplify and really organize this year so that the house would be easier to clean and they have helped lots.

And be it ever so humble, there's no place like...


You can read our Home {School} Home to see more of the learning areas in our home.

Not that you can't homeschool in other places ~ home is wherever you are.  We once packed up and moved into a 23 foot motorhome and lived in less than 200 square feet. I fit all that we needed to homeschool into one cupboard.  Each child had one basket of clothes and only a few toys. But, we had our curriculum, books, paper, pencils, colored pencils, etc. packed in nicely.  I had to be minimalist in my approach for sure, but I was just as happy.

A Clean House

We are more productive when the house is nice and tidy! As I shared yesterday, I can't do it all, but we do our best. We often do "10-minute tidies" throughout the day and take about an hour a day to cook dinner and clean up the house before my husband comes home from work.  It's the days that I have had a hard day, am tired and plain worn out, he is working late, and have lost the battle on the house that was clean at 5pm (when he asked it to be clean by) and is now a mess at 8pm, that I most need his understanding.

Dry erase board

My current board is a $20 board from Costco, but for years we had a DIY homemade whiteboard made from Thrifty White Panel Board (found at Home Depot), thanks to my husband's suggestion.  In our old house it covered a dining room wall, but we cut it down and framed it when we moved into our house now.

Computer, High Speed Internet, Printer + Laminator

I use my computer to research curriculum, read reviews, purchase curriculum, for enrichment inspiration and ideas, printables, and much more. Sadly, my printer stopped working for me last week and I'm missing it. I use my laminator regularly, but not as much as I used to. I laminate flash cards and things that I am most likely to use again, but I don't laminate everything like I used to and I use plastic sheet protectors more and more. (I slip papers into the sheet protector and use a wet erase marker (Vis-a-Vis).

iPhone + iTunes + App Store

Having an iPhone has been a blessing. I use it for almost everything.
"You use your phone to do all the things our Moms did with paper and pens, stamps, recipe files, checkbooks, clocks, timers, typewriters, fax machines, calculators, calendars, phones with cords, newspapers, books, thermostats, televisions, radios, and cameras." ~ Fried Okra in her post "Dear Mom on the iPhone, I Get It." 

Amazing, isn't it? I'd add personal consultant and assistant (Siri) to that list.

I use iTunes to import CDs that I use in my homeschool,  like Story of the World and Mystery of History, and even nursery rhymes for preschool. I can take our school anywhere this way. I plug my phone into to my car stereo and we do a lot of car schooling on road trips. Or I simply play my phone in my living room while we dance around the room or snuggle up to listen.

And I use the App Store frequently for personal and educational apps.

My personal favorite is the YouVersion Bible app. I use it for Bible readings with the kids and for my personal Bible reading and listening. {It's free!}

Can I sneak Amazon in right here?! (Aff link) :D I have Amazon Prime and I love and regularly use the free 2 day shipping for my homeschool. I also use regularly use Amazon Instant Video when I need a little downtime. And I am continually impressed by their customer service.

A blog

hehe! My blog is a planner, a way to document our homeschool, and a place to record memories. It is also a motivational and an accountability tool.

Plenty of Sleep, Breaks + A Slow and Steady Pace

These are all necessary to prevent burnout. I am at my best when I go to sleep by 10pm and get up at 6am. I think it is important to get at least 2 hours of sleep before midnight. It's not fair to my family if I burn the midnight oil night after night and can't give them {and God!} my best.

Along with a weekly Sabbath rest, I take daily and seasonal rests. I'm considering Sabbath schooling with my little ones, where we school for 6 weeks and take the 7th week off throughout the school year and take an additional several weeks off in the summer and fall.

And a slow and steady pace wins the race, right?


Would you believe that 99% of the support I receive outside our home comes from the blogging community? If you are reading my blog, that' you!

Money +  Sacrifice

When Luke and I were newly married, we were approached by a local private Christian school wanting us to enroll our boys. When we told them we couldn't afford the tuition, they suggested we sell our house. Really?  But, a year after we started homeschooling, we were called to do just that. We sold our house and paid off all of our debt and this has enabled us to afford it.  (This was a far cry from what we had planned! I was making $25 an hour out of college and my income was going to pay for money we borrowed for the remodel and new triple car garage.)

I know how hard it is to live on a single family income. With our family size, we have lived at "poverty" level almost our entire homeschooling lives because we chose to homeschool. We make many sacrifices so that we can continue to afford it. Last year, we had to cut grocery expenses to afford our curriculum and each month, for several months, I took several hundred dollars out of our food and household budget to buy curriculum. It's common around here now when we  have extra expenses to warn everyone that "we'll be eating beans for a couple weeks."  Which leads me to my next essential....

Good Food

Good food boosts moral, keeps us energized and healthy, helps us be creative in our learning, and in the case of my little Bo, is helping him overcome childhood apraxia of speech.

The Y

The Y is an essential part of our homeschool in many ways. My children participate in sports and chess club, volunteer, coach, ref, and work there. Even Malachi my 8 year old volunteers and coaches Itty Bitty Soccer.

Let's not forget the intangible things that I think are essential:

Patience, love, desire, conviction, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, structure, rhythm, flexibility, responsibility, compliance with state laws, fortitude, understanding, time, my children's needs, help, a surrendered life to God, a relationship with Jesus, and lots and lots of prayer!

There's really so much  more I wanted to say and do with this post, but I had a busy day yesterday and didn't get a chance to work on it as much as I wanted to. I was up late working on birthday preparations for my daughter's 7th birthday today, and then my site was down when I came on to finish this post last night. And I don't have time to work on it anymore. So, I will have to embrace imperfection and publish this baby so I can go frost a giant cupcake!

Thank you for reading along with me this week! I'll see you tomorrow with an essential that is near and dear to my heart!

We have 89 blogs participating in the blog hop this week!  You can read all of the blogs at the TOS Crew blog. I invite you to visit these lovely ladies this week:
Erica @ Be the One, Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story, Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessing, Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews,  Sharon @ Life with the Tribe, Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio, Melanie @ FinchNWren, Brittney @ Mom’s Heart & Heather @ Principled Academy.

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: The Homeschooling Mom

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Homeschooling Mom, you have needs that must be met in order to effectively homeschool. So, I want to talk about the essential needs of a homeschooling mom and wife next.

I will share my personal story of struggle by sharing what I've learned from Todd Wilson's book, Help! I'm Married to a Homeschooling Mom, (aff link) and how it has helped our homeschool (and marriage!). This is a humorous, but seriously practical book and I highly recommend it for homeschooling dads and moms.

Todd Wilson, author, speaker, and father to 8, has a simple message for dads:
"Your unrealistic expectations, disapproval, and lack of interest further the burnout of your homeschooling wife until she's ready to throw in the towel."

While my husband was not lacking in showing interest in our homeschooling, he did have unrealistic expectations and I felt his disapproval at times.

I got to the point that I was ready to throw in the towel.

So, last summer, I stopped homeschooling and put my whole heart into meeting my husband's expectations.  I spent my hours and days doing nothing but cooking and cleaning and caring for children. The only "school" I did was a read-aloud at bedtime. After weeks of housecleaning, wifing, and mothering I proved that I could be a good housewife.

But, I can't do both.

I can't have two full time jobs. I can't be a full time housewife and a full time homeschooling mom.

And I started to reflect on why this was happening. My housekeeping standards had not declined over the past couple years. In fact, I was doing more housekeeping and less blogging than ever before. But, I asked him if he wanted me to stop blogging altogether and start doing the laundry again. (Do you know that he does the laundry so I can blog?)

He said no, but I was still hesitant to pour my heart into my blog. And I beat him to the laundry.

It was after many trials, much prayer, and marriage counseling that God opened my eyes to why my husband had such unrealistic expectations, or why they seemed so much higher, and why I felt like I couldn't meet them.

He was under stress, and I was feeling guilt.

I couldn't stop my husband from feeling stressed, but I could start praying for him in this area and I could stop feeling guilty that I couldn't live up to his expectations.

And thus, we began to rebuild our marriage {and our homeschool!}.

In his book, Help! I'm Married to a Homeschooling Mom, Todd Wilson outlines what homeschooling moms need. He says...

Homeschool moms need their husband's:

  • help

  • encouragement

  • leadership

  • listening ear

  • muscle

  • money

  • time

  • understanding

  • approval

  • prayers

  • sacrifice

Me... I needed my husband's understanding above all.

I appreciate how Todd Wilson highlights a Bible verse at the beginning of each chapter. Here is his version of 1 Peter 3:7 at the beginning of Chapter 8: Your Wife Needs: Your Understanding...
"You husbands [of homeschooling moms] in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way." ~ 1 Peter 3:7

Homeschooling moms are tired. Some days, I just need my husband to overlook the messes and piles, and understand that I am tired. I work hard to keep up the house, but it's just not possible to do it all. So, husbands are encouraged to live with their wives in an understanding way.

My husband is awesome in most of those areas. He gives me plenty of help around the house, with the children, and with the homeschooling. He is a wonderful encourager and is very supportive of me homeschooling.  And he is generally a very sweet guy and truly cherishes me.

He prays for me, offers a listening ear when I am fretting over curriculum, and he asks me how much we need to budget for homeschooling expenses so that we can afford to homeschool. And is willing to make sacrifices so that we can afford it. And he is wonderful about giving me time.  Every night that he is home for dinner, he takes over the after dinner clean up. If I ask him how I can help, he always tells me to go relax.

He is still growing in the area of understanding, but he is trying. He is much more relaxed, and I no longer feel guilty that I can't do it all.

And I am growing in allowing him to lead.

I am fiercely independent. It was hard for me to allow my husband to lead. But he is gifted in areas I am not. So, I am learning to listen to him in areas that I previously was not. It has always been his desire that we follow some sort of schedule and I've always been resistant to it. I'm convinced flexibility is a virtue, and in short, he is not. But, with his help, I made a schedule and started following it last week. My mornings are full and I have to stay on task to get through it, but it has helped me and I feel good about being so productive.

He was a little hesitant to lead in this way (for fear of stepping on my toes), but I assured him that I need his help in areas that he is gifted in.  In short, not only do husbands need to lead, as suggested in Chapter 3: Your Wife Needs Your Leadership, but as wives, we need to let them lead as well. Thankfully, my husband is an excellent example of a servant leader and trusts and values my opinion on most matters.

Help! I'm Married to a Homeschooling Mom will make you laugh and offer a perspective I'm sure you will relate to! I did. And it has helped our homeschool {and marriage!}. I think it helped him to hear from another guy what I've been trying to tell him all along.

In fact, Todd Wilson strongly believes that dads need encouragement, too, and his ministry, Family Man Ministries, is built on encouraging dads.  He is also a contributor to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's newsletter, The Homeschool Minute and offers encouragement and reminders of what's important.

I'll see you tomorrow for more homeschooling essentials!

We have 89 blogs participating in the blog hop this week!  You can read all of the blogs at the TOS Crew blog. I invite you to visit these lovely ladies this week:

Erica @ Be the One, Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story, Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessing, Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews,  Sharon @ Life with the Tribe, Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio, Melanie @ FinchNWren, Brittney @ Mom’s Heart & Heather @ Principled Academy.

Disclaimer: I was not given this book to review, but rather a friend sent it to me to give to my husband in the midst of our trials. Thank you, dear friend! I contacted Todd Wilson and asked if he would be willing to give away a copy of his book on my blog during the Homeschooling Essentials Blog Hop and he said yes! Thanks, Todd!  

Affiliate links are used in this post. 

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: My Children's Essentials

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

I'd like to start my series on Homeschooling Essentials by going to my absolute #1 Essential for Homeschooling ~ my children! Without them, well, I wouldn't be homeschooling.  Not that we don't have our moments, but I am blessed that my children WANT to home school!

So, I asked each of my children, what THEY consider to be their top homeschooling essentials.


Jordan is my 17 year old, senior home school student. He seriously has one foot out the door already and starts college classes TODAY! Jordan has been my hardest student from the get-go because he's never really enjoyed doing school and was already struggling when I brought him home. I'm pretty proud that he scored a perfect score on his writing college placement exam and placed into college English, because I've always felt that Writing was our weakest subject. But we are still working on remedial math to get him ready for college. I'm really excited that he gets to participate in the dual enrollment program at our local community college to earn both home high school credit and college credit! He's taking English 1010 and U.S. and Wyoming Constitution. That's not only two classes that he needs for his program of study, but also TWO classes I don't have to teach this semester! Woohoo! It will be bitter sweet when I graduate my first homeschooled student this Spring, but I'm excited for Jordan to start a new chapter not only in his education, but also in life, and I think I've done a pretty good job of getting him ready. He's a great kid!


Jordan needs a quiet place to focus. He is easily distracted by noise and hullabaloo. But, he likes to be around people so I often find him in the living room camped out on the recliner doing his school. He often hushes us if we are being too noisy and my reply is always, "Go do your school in your room!" But, truthfully, I enjoy having him around.

School Books

When I asked him to share more on this topic, Jordan told me he doesn't like a curriculum with lots of reading. I was surprised because we have used a literature based curriculum for all but his senior year of high school and he's never complained. He told me that he likes video teaching. If I would have known he was an auditory/visual learner, I would have made some major changes to his curriculum. But it's not too late ~ we are doing remedial math and I have my eye on some math DVDs that I hope will round out his education.

Good Pencils

Having a sharp pencil is a must for Jordan, whether it be my favorite Ticonderoga, or a mechanical pencil, he doesn't mind ~ as long as it is sharp! I know how frustrating it can be to not be able to find a sharpened pencil around here as we have drawers FULL of unsharpened ones. So, in the last couple years I started buying mechanical pencils for the older boys.

A desk or workspace

"A nice surface to write on and put all of my books," he says. Well, he had a nice desk in his room, but he thought it took up too much space, so when he touched up and painted his room this summer, we took it out. I guess he is missing it!


"I like to get my school done early and not take all day."  Jordan really values his freedom and independence and that motivates him to get his school done early most days.


Nathan is my 15 year old 9th grade home school student.  He is easily motivated and has been my hardest worker around the house, as long as he has something to work for.  He loves to read and our literature based curriculum is a good fit for him, but he is feeling the pressure now that he is in high school and the work is harder. He is working to balance homeschool, chores, sports, and computer time. He is an Age of Empires enthusiast and works hard so he can play.


Having a reason to finish his school helps Nathan to get it done. If he gets his school done, "I can do things I want to do," he says, "like soccer, computer time, and free time." He knows if he gets his school done and whips out the kitchen and dining room, dishes and all, he can have his computer time. I use these privileges as a tool to motivate him, and for the most part it works.


"I like to listen to music while I do my school," he says. He mostly uses Pandorra to listen to music on his iPhone.


Dylan is my 13 year old 8th grade home school student. He is really blossoming this year not only in home school, but around the house as well. He's never really liked school much, nor chores, or anything but soccer really, haha, but this year he is stepping up to the plate and I am doing less and less hand holding with him.  This makes my job easier!


"My least favorite two subject are reading and writing. My favorite two subjects are math and science."

Time of day

"I have to work in the mornings because my mind is clear. I can focus when I don’t have a lot of things on my mind."


"As far as noise goes, I like don’t like the sound of little kids running around while I'm doing my school, but I don’t really mind white noise like a fan or a dishwasher. I really prefer to listen to music while I do my school."


"I like to have proper schooling equipment, I don’t like to “make do”. I prefer mechanical pencils when doing my school - I don't like to get up until its done. (This helps me stay focused.) Getting up to sharpen a pencil seem like easy thing to do and it is, but I can get distracted way too easily.

"Here are somethings that I prefer to have while doing school: music, something to munch on or something to drink, and a comfy place to sit." ~ Dylan


Malachi, aka Mali,  is my almost 9 year old, 3rd grade home school student. He seems so grown up to me lately! He's an all around great student (and kid!) who loves math and reading, but not writing so much, and loves to play Minecraft.


Malachi is like Nathan in more ways than one, but especially in the area of motivation. Nothing makes him get his school done quicker than knowing he gets to play Minecraft when he is finished.

He is also motivated by treats. For the longest time (or so it seemed), he did not like to write, so I would put an organic sweet tart at the end of each sentence that he had to write to motivate him to finish it.


Eliana, aka Elli, is my almost 7 year old daughter - my only girl, and a girl after my own heart!

Fun Things To Do

Her list of fun things to do includes:

  • trips to the park

  • rowing a book

  • doing Sonlight

  • my math and my All About Reading and Spelling

  • growing something in the garden

  • fun activities

  • fun treats

My children still have fond memories of rowing. My post, Fun Things to do With Before Five in a Row, is a sampling of some of our fun activities. To me this is the heart of delightful learning and I hope to do more of this kind of learning in the coming year!


Bo is my 3 year old preschooler. He was the star of my blog in 2013 as I scaled back to focus on what was most important in my life. He is making amazing strides in overcoming childhood apraxia of speech and life with Bo feels... well, normal! But, Bo has always had excellent communication skills despite not talking, so it really has felt normal all along. But, it is a blessing to hear his sweet voice!

To ask Bo what his homeschooling essential is, I simply asked him what is his "best" about homeschooling and his answer brings tears to my eyes.


"Bo! What is YOUR best about homeschooling?"

Bo: [points to me]


Aw, :'-)

Yes, Mom, you are a very important homeschooling essential.  So, tomorrow, I will talk about The Homeschool Mom! See you then!

We have 89 blogs participating in the blog hop this week!  You can read all of the blogs at the TOS Crew blog. I invite you to visit these lovely ladies this week:

Erica @ Be the One, Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story, Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessing, Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews,  Sharon @ Life with the Tribe, Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio, Melanie @ FinchNWren, Brittney @ Mom’s Heart & Heather @ Principled Academy

All About Reading Level 3 {Review}

All About Learning Press has been such a blessing to our homeschool.  I get a lot of questions asking why I am using All About Reading and All About Spelling in lieu of the Language Arts that comes with our main curriculum and the answer is simple: It's a better program!

I've written about why I think it is a better program:

The program is clear.  The lessons are scripted and you know exactly what to do every step of the way.  It is easy to teach and easy to learn.

All About Reading is logical. Reading concepts are taught in a logical, understandable order and there are no gaps. And the program includes all the necessary elements to teach and learn reading.

All About Reading is multisensory. The lessons appeal to all learning styles and engage the child using sight, sound and touch.

All About Reading has continual review. While the child learns new material, there is still continual review of previously-taught concepts.

For my review of All About Reading Level 3, I'd like to share a little about the program, how we are using it, my "set-up," and how the program, overall, has made a difference in our homeschool.


To teach Level 3, I need:

  • Reading Interactive Kit $28.95

  • Level 3 Materials $119.95

  • Additional Student Packet (if teaching more than one student)

Because, this is truly an open and go program, I'll jump right in to both what I think of level 3 and how we are using it.

The charm and friendliness of All About Reading Level 3 continues to be what I have come to love and expect from All About Reading. It follows in the same pattern as level 2, with a practice sheet for each story, pre-reading discussions and activities, comprehension questions that help my child make predictions about what will happen next, post-reading discussions and activities that include discussing the main character or conflict, story sequencing, how the story relates to my child's life and more. It continues to take reading beyond the process of decoding and involves my child on a deeper level.

We do our lessons at a desk in the dining room. I have our white board with letter tiles in front of the desk and a pocket chart on the side to hold phonogram cards. I love this set up for ease of use, but the cards can be filed in a index card box and pulled out, just as easily.

The hands-on component to the program is outstanding and makes this program a lot of fun - to teach and to learn.

Reading the Warm-up Sheet for "Train Cat"

The Warm-Up sheets help prepare the child for the actual reading of a story. This was a brilliant addition to Level 2, and I often wish that they were available in Level 1, which I am using with Eliana, my 1st grader.  I could skip these with Malachi because he can read them without hesitation, but I think it gives him a confidence boost and they have helped to increase his fluency.

Reading "Train Cat," a story set in the 1800s.

The stories are interesting and my child can relate to them.

I love these photos of Malachi reading because he looks so peaceful (and so grown up!) while he reads. He seems to really enjoy the stories.

Reading the readers aloud has been very beneficial to him. I've noticed the more he reads aloud, the less he stutters. In fact, I haven't heard him stutter in awhile. His confidence is soaring!

After he finishes the story, I am prompted to give him encouraging feedback. I naturally do this, but it is good to see the reminder. Then, I am prompted to read aloud to my student for twenty minutes. I love this, too, as well as the read-aloud tips. This day, I am reminded of how "reading is like a conversation between the author and the reader." I teach Malachi to think about what he is reading and make sense of the information.

The lessons really engage my child. Here he is creating a floor plan for Lesson 5. He spent a lot of time thinking about his floor plan and rearranging the "furniture" to make his room cozy and functional. This activity sets the stage for the story "Houseboat Summer."

Malachi's Floor Plan

I tuck the pieces into an envelope for safe keeping and slide the activity into a plastic page protector to store in his binder.

As he reads "Houseboat Summer," his floor plan activity makes sense, and the story comes alive! He understands the need for a practical floor plan for such a small place as a houseboat.

I place removable transparent dot stickers on the corners of select pages that have discussion prompts in the teacher manual. When he sees the red dot, he knows to pause so I can ask him comprehension questions. I am not only prompted to model these comprehension strategies, but I also got the awesome tip to mark the pages from the manual, so I remember to pause after these pages are read.

My Set-Up:

I put Malachi's completed activity pages, charts, read aloud record, and word cards into a binder. If he needs to review a concept I can easily pull the lesson's activities out and use them again if needed!  I'm really bad about losing game pieces and activity sheets, so this keeps them organized and handy.

I'm using removable green transparent stickers to mark words Malachi misses.

Here he missed one word: mow. He rhymed it with cow. So, at the end of our lesson, I know to review the word.

I have accidentally dumped the whole set of Word Cards out and painstakingly put them back in order more than once, so I decided to not separate the Word Cards this time. Instead, I slipped them into a plastic page protector!

I use a green transparent dot sticker to mark where we leave off at the end of a lesson and this has become such an easy method to use.
I love this program!

With All About Reading my child is not only learning the process of decoding, he is learning to understand the world around him. 

And we are both enjoying the process!

Malachi has literally taken off in his reading since beginning All About Reading. Each level  has increased his confidence so much that Malachi read a school years worth of reading (3rd grade readers) over the summer before 3rd grade and by the time Level 3 came out, I thought that it might be too easy for him.

And so far it is. Which, to me, means that All About Reading has done a good job of teaching him to read!

I've said before that All About Learning Press programs make me feel most like a real teacher and that is because of all of the above.

I feel smart because it is a smart program! And my child feels smart, because with this program, he is!

More All About Reading on Delightful Learning:

All About Spelling

Spelling with letter tiles and labeling syllables.

Spelling on paper.

We are still using All About Spelling, however, I am not correlating it for Level 3. Level 3 does not correlate as well as Levels 1 and 2.  So we are just plugging along in both. Please note: I teach the same level in reading as I do in spelling and it makes sense to me to do so. But, I have always shared that Marie doesn’t recommend this. The article doesn’t change my mind ~ I don’t believe that one or the other have been sacrificed at all. My children will write whether they know how to spell or not, so I feel right in giving them the tools they need to be good spellers and writers. I’m on my 3rd level of teaching AAR/AAS levels together and I am happy with the results! My 3rd grader’s reading level has advanced way beyond level 3 and his spelling is on target with level 3.

While my child is ready to work in the same spelling level that he is reading at, not all children are, so please take that into consideration when choosing for your child. 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of All About Reading Level 3 from All About Learning Press in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions expressed are my own, or those of my family. Affiliate links are included in this post ~ if you order using one of my links, I receive a commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.