Monday, January 22, 2018

Homeschool Day at the Capitol

books with bean, book reviews by teens

Books With Bean will return next Monday. 
In the meantime, feel free to read any of her past reviews you might have missed!

Sherlock Holmes: the Legend Begins

The Mother - Daughter Book Club 

Michael Vey

The City of Ember

The Redheaded League

The Hardy Boys Mysteries

The Healer's Apprentice

The Eye of Minds

Murder on the Orient Express

The Blue Cross

Deadly Disclosures

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Bad Kitty

The Sisters Grimm

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Wizard of Oz

Peter Pan

Pride and Prejudice

Today we are spending the day at our State Capitol building, and meeting with our Legislators. The freedom to homeschool is important to us. We feel compelled to ensure those freedoms are continued for the next generation.

If your state homeschool association hosts a homeschool day at your Capitol, we encourage you to go.  If they don't, then suggest one, and in the meantime, contact your state Representatives and Senators. It is important that both our local Legislators and our national ones know who we are, that we support the freedom to homeschool, and that we are not going anywhere.

Parents should always retain the right to choose how their own children are educated. For some families, that means public school, for others, private school, and for some, like us, home education.

Parents, let me encourage you to hug your children today, and realize what a great gift from God they truly are. 
Be involved in their education, wherever that happens.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Preparing for a Homeschool Graduation ~ Ordering Announcements

January is in full swing and all of the sudden... you realize...  your child is going to graduate this year! 
ACK- what do I do now?!? Do not fear dear parent - this has happened before - to thousands upon thousands of homeschoolers - and there is help available !

homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma

One of the defining moments in a person's life occurs when they graduate from high school. For those in the public schools, this is a large ceremony with caps and gowns, formal diplomas and sophisticated graduation announcements. 

homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma

Far too often, for those who have chosen to homeschool their children - graduation is a rather unimpressive time. This should not be the case! We have spent years investing in the lives, hearts,  and minds of our children, and now it is time to mark that achievement. Graduation should be a time of celebration, of memory making, and of great joy!

homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma

We chose to make a big deal about our daughter's high school graduation, and I'd like to take a few minutes to tell you why - and to encourage you to do something special for your graduate as well.

Homeschoolers need a diploma. Not just a nod from Dad and Mom that "you're done" - but an actual diploma. Did you know that even in this day of technology, there are still jobs that require you to present your diploma as proof of graduation? Although this is not as common as it was 15 years ago - it still happens. But more importantly - your child - now a young adult - needs a physical reminder of what they have accomplished. They need to be able to find joy in the accomplishment of this huge task - this finishing of their childhood and the passage to adulthood that accompanies high school graduation here in the US.

There is something else your graduate will need - an event to remember. Now, your event may be really small - only 20 people, or it may be really huge - 200 guests, but you need to plan some sort of event to mark this graduation, and use it to give them that diploma. Too often homeschoolers fail to give their children this special event. It need not cost a lot of money, or require a lot of time - but you - the parents - need to take time to cherish this moment with your graduate. 

There are several options as to how to host your graduation event. Many homeschoolers have a group graduation ceremony - all the local (city or county-wide) graduates work together to put on a event similar to what public or private schools host. Another option is to have a private ceremony at your home, community center, or church that you invite family and friends to. 

But what if your graduate does not want a formal ceremony? Then work with them - not against them - and find a way to celebrate. Many times we have been invited to homeschool graduation Open Houses when there was no formal ceremony beforehand. At the beginning of the open house, the parents (or at least the Dad) stood up front with their graduate and said a few words before handing them their diploma. Sometime your graduate is really shy, and wants to invite their friends for a party - but does not want the speeches. Then consider having a family graduation time before the open house begins and tell them then how much joy their accomplishments have brought you, and then pray for your graduate and their future.

But please - PLEASE - have some sort of event for your graduate. You have invested 12 or more years in their education, invest some time, and a little bit of money in this milestone. Make it a day for memories. Make it a day of celebration with family and friends. We have attended so many various homeschool open houses, and public school ones too, over the years that I want to share some of those ideas, and a way to announce them well.

homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma, graduation open house

Graduation announcements are the first thing you will need to order, and the sooner you get started on it - the easier it will be. If you are joining a group graduation ceremony, you can either all order matching announcements, or you can order your own style (but include your graduate's personal flair to theirs.) When our oldest daughter graduated in 2016, we ordered her announcements from They have a really wide array of styles to choose from. 

Over the years we have received many graduation announcements that I know originated from Their Tri-Fold announcements and their Christian Education announcements have been the most popular. These cards are the classic styles you probably remember from your own graduation, but updated a bit, and these come with the option to include your own wording - so you can give the credit where it is due - to God. The Christian Education announcements open like a traditional greeting card, and have a slot for your graduate's name card (which is included in the price.) The Tri-fold announcements are the vertical style ones that unfold to reveal the details of the events and have the graduate's name in elegant script at the bottom. Both of these are priced around $3 per announcement, but offer discounts on orders of 30 or more. These volume discounts can lower the price to $1.88 a card for the Christian Education announcement, or as low as $1.14 for the Tri-Fold announcements . 

homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma, graduation open house

homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma, graduation open house

One of the best reasons we have found to use is that their graduation announcements are available in quantities as low as 20, with additional ones available by the 10's. They have a relatively new photo graduation announcement option. These are lovely and highly customizable, and are offered in groups of 25, with add-ons by the 5's. These options allow you to purchase as many, or as few announcements as you need, without breaking the budget.

There are some important steps to take when getting ready to order your announcement, the first being this: make a list! We were on a tight budget when Emily graduated, but we knew it was important to make a big deal out of her graduation, so we opted for finger foods and an afternoon graduation party, instead of an evening dinner-style event. When we had made the list of who Emily wanted to invite - both family and friends, we looked at the various announcements on and decided to purchase their Simply Stated announcements for her Open House. Our budget would allow for a lot of this style, or a much smaller number of the traditional announcements, and we went with letting more family and friends know about her accomplishment!

The Simple Stated announcements are available in three colors: white, black, and navy, and a variety of foil printing colors. We let Emily choose her own, and she went with Hot Pink letters on the white cards. While this is a less expensive option, it is not a cheap card. It is elegant and formal, and you can use one of their popular texts, or create it entirely on your own. There are several fonts to choose from, so this card truly is customizable even while being easy on the budget. This card still comes with the traditional two envelopes, and can be upgraded to foil lined envelopes, just like the other styles.
homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma, graduation open house

Recently has added a hand-lettered Hope and a Future announcement option that I think will appeal to a lot of homeschoolers. It is much less formal on the front, while still retaining the elegance of a traditional graduation announcement on the inside.

homeschool graduation, graduation announcements, homeschool diploma, graduation open house has a team that is dedicated to making your graduate's day special from beginning to end. They have volume discounts available for Co-ops and Schools that want to order announcements, caps and gowns, and diplomas for the entire gradating class. Whether you are all ordering together, or individually, they will work with your group or school to get you the best products to fit your needs.

Remember I said there were some steps? Making the list comes first, because you want to order all of your announcements at once, along with any other add-ons like foil seals,  or invitation cards for the open house if you are using the formal group graduation ceremony announcements. The second step is to order the announcements. Third is gather the address of the recipients. While your teenager may just want to send a text to their best friends reminding them about her graduation party, the Grandparents and Great-aunt Jane are going to expect an announcement in the mail. You cannot mail them if you don't know where to send them. ;) Fourth is to sit down and address the invitations and mail them out. 

For some more thoughts on announcements, and why to send them, read this thoughtful post.

Whichever graduation announcement design you choose with your graduate, know that these announcements should bring a smile to the face of the recipients, and the event you are planning for your graduate will hold many memories for all of you!

Next time, we will talk about choosing a diploma, and why you should order one for your graduate that fits their personality! Can't wait? Check out this post about when we ordered Emily's diploma.

Isaiah 26:4

Isaiah 26:4, Scripture Writing

Thursday, January 18, 2018 2018 Fresh Start sale reminder

I just wanted to pop in and remind you that the Fresh Start sale over at is still going on - but it ends at midnight on January 31st, so don't miss checking it out!

We like the flexibility to choose a course at random for something new and different when we get tired of our core subjects and want a change of pace. Did you know has 147 courses for High School? That is a lot of options! As a working and homeschooling mom, I don't always have time to go find something new in the vastness of options online, but I can find something on fairly easily.

Maybe though, you're just getting started with this homeschooling journey. There are 42 preschool classes to choose from. Does your preschooler need to be using this all the time - of course not. They need love, play, and for you to read to them. What comes next? has some solid ideas. You - the mom or dad - might like some great ideas, and some encouragement along the way. has a wide variety of choices for every age. They also have a great Literacy Center with graduated help - from pre-readers all the way through fluent readers.

If had been around when our girls were little, we would have used it. Even now, with our last one in high school we still use it. If your children are young - you are in prime spot to use well. Now, next year, and later in the future. The Fresh Start sale allows new members to join with an Ultimate Yearly membership for only $90. That's half off the regular price. Use the coupon code: NEWYEAR18 for the Yearly membership, or if, you're still not sure, check it out for a month for only $9.95 with the coupon code: MONTHNEWYEAR18.

Don't delay -go find something fun to do with your children on today!

Wondering what other great resources they have for parents? Checkout our review from earlier this month.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Picture My Story ~ Alaskan Brown Bear

Here is another look back at our life through a picture...

my picture my story, alaskan brown bear, Indianapolis zoo, memories

This is picture of an Alaskan Brown Bear. There is some debate in our household over whether this is actually my picture, or Arlene's. Since it was taken on my camera, and downloaded to my computer, I'm going to claim ownership and tell you about it today.

The Indianapolis Zoo is a place the girls have enjoyed visiting since they were wee tiny things. My parents first got us a membership the year Arlene was born. Way back then the Indy Zoo had Kodiak bears in their Forests exhibit. Eventually those bears died, and there were no more bears to visit (expect the polar bear in the oceans exhibit.) 

Then, two Alaskan Brown Bear cubs were orphaned in Alaska in 2008 because their mother had been causing trouble - attacking people and other trouble, and the Fish and Game officials were forced to kill her to protect the people. The Indianapolis Zoo became home to this brother-sister duo and there were bears again. As the bears grew up, so did our girls. This one looks like such a fun, touchable, huggable bear - but in reality, when you see its teeth, you know it is the real thing - not a toy from FAO Schwarz. 

We have seen this bear dozens of times. When we moved too far away to use our membership often, my Mom got herself one and now we go with her. We still go through the Forests exhibit almost every time we visit the zoo. While I wish I could some day visit Alaska (in the summer), to see the wildlife, in the meantime, I'll see the bears at the zoo and be reminded that God has put some amazing creatures all around the world. When I look at this picture, it reminds me of all the happy memories I have of taking the girls to the zoo. We rarely did any of the extra educational activities while there, and I don't think the girls ever wrote a paper about what they saw at the zoo. We went because we wanted to have fun. Sometimes Daddy went with us, sometimes Grammy went, and sometimes it was just us three girls. Always, there were fun memories to be made!

Ever since they were little we would sing this song with Daddy at dinner the night before:

Going to the Zoo by Peter, Paul & Mary

What is your favorite zoo to visit? Tell us in the comments below!