Health 101

Health NurseRecently we have taken a new direction as a family. We are on an adventure, learning together how to make better nutritional choices.  Since we are a homeschooling family I am always looking for things to work into our learning time and this seemed like a great topic.

But this is about more than Health Class—it’s about learning to take care of our bodies so that we stay healthy. We will be putting everything we learn into real life practice and  we have some very good reasons to motivate us. Most families are aware of the national statistics about childhood obesity and diabetes. If you want to know more there is some excellent information at the CDC and also here.

My husband has Type 2 Diabetes and we have tried to watch our sugar and carbohydrate intake but recently we have gotten more serious. As we grow older we are beginning to deal with high blood pressure, high cholestrol, and general aches and pains. I have struggled with weight issues most of my parenting years and giving birth to 7 children did nothing to help me keep my girlish figure. Now I am facing the need to take off a significant amount of weight or be forced to  look at medication for high cholestrol as well as blood pressure.  With both of us wanting to be more healthy and to live life with enough energy to keep up with the grandkids we decided we had to do something.

So we have started getting serious about our eating habits and our exercise habits and I am happy to report that we are making progress. The best part is that we have made this a family adventure and our boys are starting to read nutrition labels and ask questions about whether something is good for them or not.  It’s not going to be an overnight success but we are working together to break old habits and form new healthier ones.  One of the resources that has been a tremendous help to me is If good nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle is something you desire this website will be worth checking out.  There you will find an amazing amount of information and support for making the kind of changes that stick.

Healthy eating,


School’s Out!

Usborne Birds of PreysWe officially ended our school year on Friday. Then we counted…108 days until we officially start again on September 8th.  We try to take Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend as our Summer break.  You’ll notice I said “officially.”  That’s because we never stop learning. We are “officially” finished with this year so the kids can say that they are now in the next grade but…we never stop learning.

Actually, it could be argued that, even though Iowa’s homeschool law only requires 148 days, we homeschool 365 days a year. Would there ever be a day when we didn’t learn something? Now I’ll admit that we don’t learn as much on some days as others but we do learn something. And I know that despite the fact that we are not “doing school” for the next 108 days, we will be learning a lot in the area of nutrition. We won’t be using textbooks or taking tests to see what we know but we will be learning about healthy eating and about how out bodies use the foods that we consume but I plan to go into more detail about that in another post.

We’ll also be reading for the summer reading program at the public library.  A couple of my boys are learning to play the guitar and another one is learning computer programming.  We will spend time taking walks around the pond in the park behind our house and when we come home we will get out the bird book and the bug book and look up the different critters we saw on our walk. One of my sons will likely draw pictures of what he’s seen as well.  We might listen to bird calls on the computer and try to identify those little feathered fellows that hid from us and only gave us clues to their identity through their songs. Then there are those rainy days when we will be inside. We’ll spend those days reading, watching movies, cooking up something in the kitchen or playing a game or two. We might get out the art supplies and see what we can create.

So you see, we are only “officially” done with school for the record. We are never really done….the kids just don’t know it!

Happy learning,


Parent-Taught Driver’s Education

car11I read an editorial from the Washington Times today on the HSLDA website entitled “Choice Sought in Driver Training.”  The article talked about the challenges that homeschoolers are facing when it comes to teaching their children to drive. We are able to teach every other subject but most states still will not allow parents to teach their children this important skill.

“The bottom line is that no one cares more about the safety of their children than the parent as no one has more to lose than the parent when a child is ill-prepared to receive a driver’s license.”

This is exactly what we have believed for our own family for many years. We have three adult children now and none of them took driver’s training through a school or a drivers’ education company. We decided long ago, after looking at the statistics regarding teen drivers and accidents, that we didn’t think we wanted our kids to be part of those statistics.

So we made a radical decision.  We decided that our boys would not learn to drive when they reached the age set by the state (in our case, the age of 16). In both states where we have lived the law allows you to get a license to drive without taking an actual course. The catch is that you must be 18 years old.  We made the decision that we would be the ones to teach our children to drive. No one else has as much at stake as we do if our child isn’t well prepared to get a drivers license.

Our boys  have received their learner’s permit just after their 17th birthday, have driven in every season’s weather conditions, and then taken their driver’s test on or shortly after their 18th birthday.  We feel like they are much more mature by the time they take the wheel alone and unsupervised. And they are safer drivers.

We also do not allow them to ride with inexperienced drivers because we feel there is just too much risk.  We haven’t


always been popular with this decision but it’s usually the other party who gets upset, not our children. For the most part our boys have accepted our convictions in this area without complaint. They know that we have their well being as our highest priority. Yes, there have been mishaps. They are not perfect drivers and have gotten a few tickets for things like forgetting to turn their headlights on. There has also been one serious accident but no one was injured, just the vehicles.

It could be argued that we are holding them back and being over-protective. It could also be argued that it is inconvenient to have teens who have jobs and activities and are still dependent on their parents for transportation. My perspective on this in that I am willing to be a little inconvenienced if it means my children are safe. I also don’t worry about seeming overprotective. We only get one shot at raising our kids. I would rather be a little over-protective than err in the other direction. And from my kids’ perspectives, they haven’t complained about being smothered lately. We have four more boys at home and are planning to continue this method of driver’s training for each of them as well.

Besides the fact that I am trying to keep my boys safe there is also one more consideration. When my sons are all grown up my grandchildren will be riding with them!

Safe driving,


The Proof is in the Pudding

We’ve all heard the saying.  “The proof is in the pudding” is actually a shortened version of an old English saying dating from around the 17th century. Some sources date it as far back as the 14th century but it first appears in writing much later. The entire quote actually went like this: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” which meant that the results of your efforts would only be seen when you put it into practice or to the test.

Report CardToday I have reason to apply that old saying to our homeschool. We have put untold hours into our children’s education for these last 18 years and while we have seen excellent results with each of our boys we had never put our results to the “test” of higher education. My oldest two boys didn’t choose to further their education at a college level and that was fine with us. One is in a high-level information technology position and the other is in the retail business. We want them to pursue what interests them and not just follow the crowd, which seems to think that the only way to succeed  is with a college degree.

It wasn’t until our third child finished his homeschooling  and expressed an interest in a field that required a degree that we had the opportunity to see if the “pudding” was up to the test. We found out yesterday that in his case it definitely passed the test.  He just finished his second semester of  the classes he is required to take to obtain a degree in Criminal Justice.  He took 4 classes and yesterday received his grades…straight A’s.  Combined with last semester he finishes his first year with a 3.95 grade point average.

Okay, now I’m done bragging.  But I am not done encouraging you to stick with it!  There are many areas in life that require a long wait to see if your efforts will pay off. In the case of homeschooling, our son’s college accomplishments have been a source of encouragement to me. I feel like I can breathe a little. I really am accomplishing something with all this time and energy!

Of course you don’t need to homeschool to have these same feelings. While you are raising your children you often wonder what your kids will be like when you finally get to the end of the road. When  you release your grown children to live on their own in the world will they make it?  All parents wonder if they are doing the right things in the day-to-day parenting decisions they make, regardless of which educational method they choose.  My hope today is that you will use my experience to give you the courage to keep going!   Whether they are homeschooled or not, whether they go to college or not, the time and energy you put into your children is worth it.

Be encouraged!


My Definition of ‘Homeschooling’

Yes, I have homeschooled my children. But that doesn’t mean that homeschooling is right for you and your family. 

I’m also a degreed, licensed teacher for grades K-12 and have taught in public schools. I also had a child enrolled in a private school.

When I talk about “homeschooling,” I don’t want to imply that I’m against public or private education. I’m not. It may be the best solution for some families. “Homeschooling” to me can mean any supplemental education or tutoring your child receives that helps him or her succeed in school — or life. It can be at home or in a classroom inside a brick-and-mortar school building.

I say all that because I feel like I have something to offer you and your children to get them on track with their education, no matter what form of education that may be. Whether it’s through this blog or one-on-one, I might be able to help. Maybe your child struggles with a structured classroom environment. Perhaps math isn’t their best subject. Many students just need the right environment and the right tactics to help them learn. I can help motivate your child to be the best they can be. Sometimes all you need — or all your child needs — is a fresh, outside perspective on learning. 

Then the light bulb clicks on in their mind…and nothing can stop them.

Happy learning,