Category Archives: Homeschooling

Paper Pizza Prank – Your kids will love this!

Let me set up the story first and then I’ll explain the pizza prank.   Back when we only had three kids we used to frequently do homemade pizza nights.  We would spread out the dough and pizza sauce and then divide the pizza into sections using cheese for lines. Continue reading Paper Pizza Prank – Your kids will love this!

Today’s Proverbs 31 Woman – A Mother’s Day Tribute

I know there are no perfect people.  One of the frustrating things about blogging is that there is a tendency to present yourself and your life in such a way that if people didn’t know better they would think you were living the perfect life.  Our blog is no different.  We celebrate the exciting events in our life and share interesting and educational posts, but the pictures and stories are usually edited so every imperfection is wiped away.

When I decided to draft this post as part of my Mother’s Day gift to my wife, I wanted to start by clarifying that our life is messy.  We have 6 kids ranging in age from 5 months to 17 years.  I have a demanding job that frequently has me traveling most of the week.  We home school all six children.  We have bills.  We have moods.  There are diapers to change and teenagers with attitudes.  We get irritable. We are almost always tired.  We have unfulfilled goals.  We struggle with allergies, headaches, and illness.  We sometimes resort to junk food even though we know better. Our house is in a roller coaster state of clean and dirty.  The laundry piles up.  The lawn needs mowing.  The eight of us frequently let each other down.  We lose our tempers.  We fight.  We are selfish.  We drive each other nuts.  Our life was not always this “messy” though. Continue reading Today’s Proverbs 31 Woman – A Mother’s Day Tribute

Ladyslipper Saturday Morning Class – Container Gardening

This post is meant to help those interested in container gardening to know how best to place their plants in the pot.  The examples shared in this post for plant layouts were shared during a Saturday morning class at Ladyslipper in Woodstock, GA.  For those of you that live in the area and that enjoy gardening you may want to check out Ladyslipper’s Saturday morning class schedule.  Regardless of where you live, hopefully this post will be helpful.

I attended the class with my oldest daughter, Mannah, and my mom, who we call Oma.  When we arrived, Casey, the owner of the nursery, taught a short lesson on Container Gardening, covering things like soil selection, plant selection, container selection, fertilizing, and other interesting things about finding success with container gardening. Continue reading Ladyslipper Saturday Morning Class – Container Gardening

Ana White 4×4 Farmhouse Truss Beam Table

I never thought I would be writing a post about a woodworking project but I am so excited to be enjoying this new hobby!  I have always had a desire to learn woodworking but it seemed too hard and I had no foundation of experiences to build from.  I built a dog house years ago but it was pretty simple and turned out sloppy.

Haven painting the dog house
Haven painting the dog house

I am also extremely busy with my growing family and a demanding career so I assumed if I ever got around to woodworking it would be during my retirement years.

So what changed?  Well, for my birthday my wife gave me a Kreg Jig.  I didn’t even know what it was and when Bethany explained what she wanted me to do with it I felt intimidated and under qualified.  She showed me a table on Ana White’s website and explained that if I could build that table we could save thousands of dollars compared to a similar table she was considering purchasing at Restoration Hardware.  That got my interest. Continue reading Ana White 4×4 Farmhouse Truss Beam Table

Gibbs Gardens – A World-Class Garden in North Georgia

My mom (Oma) and Grandpa Jeff recently visited from Ohio and joined our family on a field trip to Gibbs Gardens. Gibb’s Gardens is located north of Atlanta at 1987 Gibbs Drive, Ball Ground, GA 30107 which is a very short drive from our house. I was expecting it to be nice but I was completely surprised by how awesome it was! It’s like a miniature Callaway Gardens, only without the Butterfly Garden, Biking, etc. I actually thought Gibb’s Gardens was better designed, more concentrated, and overall a more breathtaking experience. My whole family was constantly making “oohs and aahs” as we ventured through the gardens. The tickets were a little pricey for our family of 7 but considering the amount of fun we had it felt well worth it by the time we left. Below are some pictures from the gardens and you can also find out more information by visiting Gibbs Gardens website. One last thing, right before we left we grabbed lunch from the little snack shop near the entrance and ate our sandwiches and desserts near the stream you first walk by after you enter into the gardens. The food was delicious and the setting was so relaxing…a perfect end to a perfect day! Hope you have a chance to check it out for yourself soon! We highly recommend it as a homeschooling field trip, a family day out, a romantic date, or for a quiet place to break away from the traffic and stress of Atlanta. Continue reading Gibbs Gardens – A World-Class Garden in North Georgia

Homeschool: Get plugged in!

We have been homeschooling for many years now and we are frequently asked for “tips and tricks” on getting started with homeschooling or making homeschooling more enjoyable/effective/efficient/etc.  We plan to share many of our best tips and tricks on this site but we are super busy and it may be many months or years before much of that content makes its way online.  So, in the meantime I wanted to share one of the most important tips – Get plugged in! Continue reading Homeschool: Get plugged in!

Explode the Code

When people ask if I can recommend curriculum for teaching children to read, I always mention the Explode the Code series. Explode the Code is a sequential approach to teaching phonics. I used this series as a major component in teaching all of my school-age children to read. There is a pre-reading series that I highly recommend completing before starting with book 1 of Explode the Code. You may notice that some books have “1/2” increments. These books provide further practice at a level if you feel your student has not fully mastered a level. For example, buy Book 2 1/2 if your student needs more reinforcement of book 2 skills. Continue reading Explode the Code

Classic Starts (Classic Literature for Kids)

Classic literature is a foundational element of any good homeschooling regimen.  However, many elementary school students are not prepared to devour the classics in their entirety.  That is precisely  why I was thrilled to discover the “Classic Starts” series published by Sterling Publishing Company.  This is an excellent product at an excellent price.  I love these books because they have exposed my children to some wonderful literature without tapping into their reading frustration levels.  I highly recommend this series.  Continue reading Classic Starts (Classic Literature for Kids)

Crown Athletics Cross Country – Mileage Tracker

2012 was our first year participating in the Crown Athletics Cross Country team.  We were thoroughly impressed with the coaches, the runners, the parents, and the entire experience.  My oldest daughter ran last year but our plan is for all four of our older kids to participate in the 2013 season.  The head Coach (Howard Brummel) ended the season by requesting that all of the kids log their running hours during the off-season so they will be prepared for a successful 2013 season (and so they can stay healthy and fit through the winter).  To help my kids meet this goal we have decided to start running together as a family. Continue reading Crown Athletics Cross Country – Mileage Tracker


We both started our careers working as public school teachers and also as private school teachers. Many people are aware of the shortcomings of public school but our experience showed that private schools are only slightly better as an alternative. Public schools suffer from 1) large class sizes 2) a factory based approach to education that leaves slower students behind and prevents gifted students from reaching their potential, 3) violence and bullying, 4) spiritual deprivation, and 5) a curriculum that at its roots is a government education based on a worldview that is frequently at odds with the child’s parents. Private schools usually have smaller class sizes, decreased violence or bullying, and parents can pick one that aligns to their worldview but where private schools frequently fall short is with their budgets and in the oversight/expectations of their teachers. Except for some of the most elite private schools, many of them are struggling to keep their doors open and for that reason they can not pay their teachers what is needed to attract the best educators. Additionally, the shortage of funds may make administrators hesitant to suspend or expel troublemakers, especially if those troublemakers are offspring of large donors! Many parents are surprised when they take their child out of private school and re-enroll them in public school that suddenly their child is struggling in school because they are significantly behind their public school peers in testing results and academic performance. Continue reading Homeschooling