Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Off to Indianapolis

Today we pack up the truck so we can leave for Indianapolis tomorrow. The first convention of the year, IAHE .

Here is my office-notice matching shirts for the booth assistants and boxes and tubs of supplies.

We have a little apartment/guest room in the back of our house. I have tubs of books here, ready to be packed up--too bad it is cold and a bit snowy today.

There will be much scurrying around once we get to the conference center, trying to set up a 30x10 foot booth to look like a showcase. Here are a few boxes of catalogs. There are five altogether--each weighing 58.1 pounds. They have each been stickered twice--once with my contact information and one that is a unique coupon, good for $5 off an order of $50 or more. These are piled up in our short hall, blocking the cold air return and not allowing the bathroom door to open very far--see the door on the right side.

It is just like anything else-it is WAY more work than anyone thinks. Here you see a Newcomer 3 in the purple tub, the math supplies and in the bottom tub are the books for the front table.

I don't want to bore you with all the details, but there are signs to print, catalogs to label, coupons to print, books to organize, and then you have to figure out what tables, book shelves, book racks and other display items to bring. Here is a box of pens and gift bags, each with a book and a Smencil. These bags will be given away to every person who fills out a contact card that has a star sticker on it. 4% of the cards have star stickers on them.

And then there are banners, tablecloths, pens, tape and the equivalent of an office supply store to pack away. There are 5 banners [in the black cases] for each booth. Since I will have two booths, that is ten banners.

What if you need a utility knife, or tape, or scissors or... All that has to be packed.

It reminds me a bit of backpacking--only lots heavier! If you don't take it with you and then you need it at the convention, you are out of luck. I have had frantic convention neighbors who are relieved to find I have duct tape! My motto: Don't leave home without Duct Tape!

And then there is chocolate, nuts and dried fruit that are the fuel to keep my many assistants working during the convention. There will be a total of six moms, 4 teen girls, my graduated daughter and my husband working in the two booths during the two days. Their hours have to be coordinated, they need to be paid and the out-of-towners need to be housed.

At any rate, we have a small house. So, today, before we try to fit everything in our convention mobile [also known as a Dodge Ram pick up truck] there are boxes, tubs and more boxes scattered all around the house. I am praying it all fits!

Take Care,

Note: It all fit! I am so thrilled that there is even room left over for our suitcases!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Spring poked through some leaf mulch in my flower beds yesterday. The day before looked like this [see icicle picture below] as we drove home from our farm.
And then, yesterday came and it was like spring came bursting through. It is funny, because just the day before it looked like it was "Always winter, but never Christmas" and then it was like Aslan was on the move, and spring was anxious to tell winter to say goodbye.

Isn't that how it is a lot of the time? Just when things seem all cold and frozen and like things will never be sunny and warm again--then something little happens--and just like that, the ice is melting and the season is changing.

I couldn't help but think about when I was teaching Scotty to read. He knew the letter sounds, knew the idea but he seemed frozen in that knowledge and couldn't really understand blending. It was like winter had set in and we were stuck in the season of letter sounds-but no reading. Then, just like that, he "got it." He jumped up and down and hugged me and thanked me for teaching him to read. In that moment, the world opened up to him that had previously been locked away, frozen and inaccessible.

It was just like the little daffodils who are poking though the leaves. They are done sitting in the same place under the dirt, locked away, and are opening up to the big world.

Ahh, spring. When seasons change. When new life pokes through and new ideas take form.
Hope springs eternal and sometimes when one is coldest and surrounded by ice, the promise of spring poking through ground, gives us renewed energy.
If you are stuck in a cold place right now. Take comfort. Seasons change, nothing stays the same. There is green among the ice.

Take care,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Food Rules...

I just finished reading a really good book called Food Rules by Michael Pollan.
The book's title is kind of a play on words, because it actually contains "rules" for eating, but it also seems to be saying that "Food Rocks" or "Food is Awesome" and that is why Food Rules.

A quick read, this book had me laughing right out loud in some places and nodding my head in others. Michael starts out with the words, "Eating in our time has gotten complicated--" and he continues on from there. He gives a brief overview of how food science is a relatively new science and that there is all sorts of conflicting information on what is the best way to eat, even among specialists and professionals.

Michael sums up all the rules in seven simple words.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Then he goes on to explain what this means by giving 63 easy to follow rules.

I don't want to go into too much depth, but with rules like:
  • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
  • Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not
  • Avoid foods you see advertised on television
  • Avoid foods that a third grader can't pronounce
You will find yourself getting a dose of common sense and a refreshingly healthy view of food.

With a easy to read format and only 139 pages [many of them partially blank or with pictures] you will find that you will glean a lot of memorable information in just a bit of time. I bought my copy from Amazon for $5.00 and had free shipping with Amazon Prime.

A great deal.

Take care,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Visit my Homeschool & Parenting Library...

For the past year I have been working on an on-line homeschool and parenting library. It is a collection of my thoughts and ideas on both subjects. There is even an audio file of a talk I gave in Frankfort in September, "How Living Books Teach," and a teleconference I did with another homeschool mom on how to use Sonlight to homeschool a large family.

You can find My Library here: Homeschool and Parenting Library

I hope you will find it helpful to see these posts in this easy to find format. In the past week I have had some phone calls from people asking many of the same questions that I speak to in this library.

Take care,

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Seinfeld on Parenting...

This has gotta be good, right? I mean, Jerry Seinfeld's three rules of parenting have got be something that I could criticize, right? I had all sorts of funny comments I thought I could make about his parenting rules.

So Here goes-Jerry Seinfeld's Rules for Raising Children:

  • Rule #1: The Poison of Praise: "We tell our kids, 'Great job!' too much.
I agree with him. In fact, I think I blogged about this somewhere. Yep, here it is, in the post about narcissism.

  • Rule #2: Poison of Problem Solving: "We refuse to let our children have problems. Problem-solving is the most important skill to develop for success in life, and we for some reason can't stand it if your kids have a situation that they need to 'fix.' Let them struggle--it's a gift."
I agree with him here too. We have all read about helicopter parenting and how the parents want to fix everything and do everything for the child. I was amazed that wonderful caring parents like my husband and I were THE ONLY parents not to show up a college orientation when Scotty went a few years ago. I mean, why do I need to get oriented? I already graduated from college and did my orientation all by myself. He is the one going to college--he is a big boy--he can forge his own paths without us hovering around.

In my town there is a Christian Liberal Arts College. It is rumored, though the college would probably deny it, that they started a "Parents Orientation Group" several years back just to get them out of the way so they could "orient" the students without having to have all the parents in the way.

I think, perhaps, teaching children to be part of the family, to do chores and contribute, might be the way to start training children who can problem solve for themselves.

  • Rule #3: Poison of giving children too much pleasure: Example of this, according to Seinfeld is a woman comes into a deli with two children and buys them all HUGE cookies! "Can you believe this?" Seinfeld says, "It's 5:30 pm--when do they have dinner? At 8?"
I think back in the old days we called this spoiling or over-indulgence. But, again I have to agree with this master of comedy; I think this is a problem that is all too prevalent with parents today.

Seinfeld's theory is: "We feel so guilty for destroying that [childhood] innocence--which is what we did---so we're now trying to repair that by creating perfect childhoods for our children."

I am not sure about that.

I think the problem is that most parents have so little time to spend with their children that when they are with them they don't want any conflict. They want fun, happy times--not times where they have to be the big-bad-mommy [or daddy].

But, Seinfeld's last comment had me feeling like he was a kindred spirit: "Kids are not going to do what you tell them to do or think like you tell them to think," he says. "Kids are watching how you deal with that waiter or that handyman, and they are probably more likely to imitate you."

Ah, that is right on. Character is caught not taught.

So, hats off to Jerry Seinfeld! Under that funny exterior lies a lot of child-rearing wisdom.

Who Knew?

Take Care,

Seinfeld Quotes taken from The Parade Magazine, 2/14/2010

Pictures, top to bottom: Parenting in the 50's--Bob with his Mom, sister and brother.
Parenting in the 80's-Bob holding Dusty, My sister Joy holding Chad and I'm holding Cris.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This is a great time to refer a friend to Sonlight ...

Well, though we are in the throws of winter here--I believe the most snow I have ever seen in Central Kentucky in one season--I am looking forward to Homeschool Convention Season.

After returning from a brainstorming event in Littleton, CO last week and with my first convention in Indianapolis just around the corner, my mind is buzzing with ideas.

And for the first time ever--Each and every booth visitor will be getting a great convention special this year, so watch my blog for details.

Additionally, I am offering a package of TEN Smencils [one in each scent] if you refer a new to Sonlight** friend to me and they place a $50 or more order. If you are new to Sonlight-- refer yourself-- and get the set of Smencils. [You do not have to attend a convention to do this, just email me and let me know you want to refer someone.] Smencils are a great way to add some variety and interest to your homeschool. They are great for incentives or to just add some flavor to your day!

OR, because it is my favorite book, you can also receive the Book Great and Terrible Quest or a perennial favorite at our house, Homer Price, along with our 100 year old family doughnut recipe for giving me a referral.

It is a win-win situation. I will be their year-round personal consultant and you get a free gift. You can either email me their names and addresses or they can contact me directly [via email or phone] and let me know that you referred them.

So your choice: [This offer has expired 2/2012]
  • Set of Ten Smencils
  • The Great and Terrible Quest
  • Homer Price and our family doughnut recipe
Additionally I will be giving out 1 Smencil to all booth visitor and be giving out gifts randomly in my booth during the convention.

I have a great team of ladies and my husband ready and willing to help you in the booth. We will have many samples, a whole Newcomer package and a great new look. We look forward to seeing you this year.

~Conventions I will be attending in 2010~
As always, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help or encourage you. I have many helpful tips and suggestions regarding homeschooling and parenting on my Sonlight web page at Feel free to peruse it when you have a chance.

Would you like a free Sonlight Catalog? Drop me an email
Refer a friend and earn a free gift-see details at top of page.
**A New to Sonlight Friend is one who has never ordered from Sonlight or signed up with another consultant. They are also new if they ordered only a catalog or if they ordered under $100 (total lifetime) worth of Sonlight materials.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creating a Common Culture...

No, this is not about a common worldwide or country wide culture. I am talking about a common family culture. How do we create and nurture a common family culture? I was thinking about this today as I was talking to a lady about how to teach her children good character traits.

It keeps coming back to books. It is always books--that renewable entertainment.

I can't even tell you how many books I have read aloud to my children through the years. My guess is that is has to be over a thousand--maybe more. I know when Kari worked in the children's department of a large bookstore she was always making all sorts of recommendations to folks about what books to get for their children and grandchildren. She would walk by a shelf and give brief descriptions of book after book.

People would invariably say, "How do you know about all these books?"
She would say, "My mom read them to me."
"All of these?"
"Well, no, some I read myself."

At any rate, I have read a lot of books to my children. Besides the snuggling on the couch when the children were young, sharing the same books create a common family culture. We still talk about the doughnut jar in Farmer Boy, Eric Liddell and his running and faith, the harshness experienced by Esther in The Endless Steppe, Ralph and his antics come up from time to time [Little Britches] and sometimes we hand out ridiculous insults to each other such as "You useless pig-of-a-lump" from Johnny Tremain. And who can forget that when times get tough and you have to work really hard to get anywhere that you are "Sailing by ash breeze," [Carry on Mr. Bowditch].

Shared books create shared memories. Many times Kari, who is now an adult, will assign me a book to read that she really loves. I try to keep up with these and then we talk about them a bit.

Of course other family traditions build strong family culture. Watching movies together, going on vacations and so forth--they all are components --but I wanted to be sure that reading great literature together is high on the creating a common family culture to do list. It is fun, costs little, encourages together time and develops critical thinking skills. It is probably the best way to spend 30-6o minutes a day.

I forgot to add, that one of our favorite sayings is "What must be done, can be done," [The Great and Terrible Quest].

It doesn't get any better than that!

Take care,

For some more posts on Reading:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Writing on Walls??

Writing on the walls! Probably not a good idea--and yet...

I have heard some great ideas lately on how to encourage your children to love to learn. I am kind of sad I didn't think of this when my children were little--it would have made spelling, math, handwriting and lots of other subjects more interesting and maybe even fun.

The first idea is related to an inexpensive product called Smencils. They are pencils made from recycled newspaper and then scented in one of many scents. Each comes in its own biodegradable case. But the best part is the smell. I mean, I was balancing my checkbook with a cinnamon Smencil my friend gave me, and it was not a bad job at all!

Many parents are finding that if they let their children do math in one scent, spelling in another, and writing in another, kids are more engaged and do a better job. They look forward to getting the peppermint or bubblegum or very-berry Smencil to do the next subject. There are even color Smencils for that budding artist or for more variety-with each color having a distinctive scent.

The other idea is to let your children do writing on the windows with window chalk. Imagine the fun of doing spelling or math on the window or glass door! Many children have fine motor coordination issues. Doing these subjects with large characters on a large vertical surface can be beneficial. When children write on vertical surfaces they are strengthening shoulder and wrist muscles which help them with stability and control when writing or doing fine motor activities.

So, grab some window paint or some Smencils and infuse some fun and lots of benefits into your homeschool.

Take Care,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Renewable Entertainment...

On the homeschooling front--I am pumped. I just got back from a four day brainstorming event at Sonlight Curriculum in Littleton, Colorado and it is exciting to see what changes they are making to our booth designs and the new incentives they are offering to booth visitors in 2010. I am not sure I am supposed to say anything just yet, but with my first convention only 2 1/2 weeks away, it will be public soon.

One of the highlights of the meeting was when Sonlight President Sarita Holzmann talked with us. She shared her heart and her vision for the future. What an inspiring woman! She spoke of how learning with real books opens the world to our kids and how real stories grip their hearts. She said that books open the mind and create kids that love to learn and love to think.

One of my favorite quotes was when she said, "Books are Renewable Entertainment." Amen! I thought of the many books I have read again and again, enjoying them and gleaning from them each and every time. Renewable Entertainment--how politically correct, green and true all at the same time.
Many of us know how much a book has impacted our lives and I am sure if I took a poll, each and every one of you could mention a book that made you a better person. Sometimes living through another person's injustice moves us to compassion or to action. I am thinking of Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry and The Endless Steppe and how they affected my children and I when I read them aloud.

Other times we are transported to another time or another culture. Many of us will never travel to foreign lands, but we can still understand much about the people who live there by reading books. And none of us will ever visit ancient Egypt, but through books we can live among the people of that time.

Books. Sonlight Books. Renewable Entertainment. It was a great event.

Take Care,

Photos-- top to bottom:
  • Me in front of the Sonlight Office in Littleton
  • The ten Sonlight Consultants who attended the brainstorm session--Left to Right: Karla from Idaho, Jennifer from Wisconsin, Tonya from Virginia, Kelly from Louisiana, Lynn from Oregon, Nancy from California, Gale from Illinois, Judy from New York, Sandy from Texas and Me, from Kentucky.
  • Linda [of Sonlight] and Me