How I Do Tapestry of Grace {Large Family, Loose Schedule}

I feel it’s important I begin this post with a disclaimer:  I use Tapestry of Grace as a GUIDE with other things thrown in.  I do not follow it to the letter.  I’ve never followed it to the letter.  I’ve never been able to make it work for our family “As Is”, but of all the curricula I’ve tried, it is Tapestry of Grace I come back to time and again.

I probably won’t win any Tapestry of Grace Awards (if there were such a thing) for being a great TOG mom, but I am a fan of the curriculum…the way I use it.

So, if I haven’t scared you off, read on…

You don't have to follow the entire schedule to a T to use Tapestry of Grace - this post shows how one family does TOG (planning, teaching, and tweaks) |

Tapestry of Grace is divided into 4 age/reasoning levels – Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.  Think of these as Early Elementary, Older Elementary, Jr. High, and High School…ish.

I focus most of my attention on the 8 & up crowd, letting the 7 & under crew float in and out of the lessons.  In fact, of late, I’ve instituted a Rest Time for those ages during our Tapestry Time.  The 3 littlest boys are more distracting than anything and I figure their time will come when they are more mature.  So, in Tapestry terms, that means I have 2 Upper Grammar students, 1 Dialectic (who will soon be moving up), and 1 Rhetoric (who will graduate this year).

So, now that you know WHO in our family does TOG, I can start at the beginning of an actual lesson plan and give you an idea of what that looks like and how I implement it.

Lesson Planning for Tapestry of Grace

Tapestry of Grace comes in 2 forms – Print Edition and DE (Digital Edition). I prefer having the hard copy of TOG, but DE automatically updates.  This would be especially helpful for Year 4 (Modern Times).

Toward the end of each week, or over the weekend, I open my Tapestry notebook to the next lesson.  Marcia Sommerville (author of TOG) has graciously given things to look out for the next week at the end of every chapter, so I glance over those and make a mental note as I begin my planning.

I use a notepad and pen as my main tools, and I keep an internet capable device nearby because I find there are several things I want to look up as I work.

How we do Tapestry of Grace homeschool curriculum |

To lesson plan, I go through the Threads for the week and the Weekly Overview (shown above – the colors represent the different learning levels) and jot down everything I want to cover.  I look over ALL levels because often there are projects or topics I want to use from other levels, or I have a child more or less advanced and would appreciate the assignments from a different level.  If need be, I write the child’s name next to the assignment on my list, but that is usually only in the case of reading assignments.

Note:  Most of the things we do in TOG, we do together.  I’ve seen a tremendous benefit from having everyone in the same room, no matter the learning level of the material being covered.  Information gone over once gives a child a taste and may be enough to pass a test.  Information gone over multiple times in multiple ways gives them understanding and mastery.  For instance, my oldest daughter has been reading in Victorian Internet about the telegraph.  The younger kids are studying Samuel Morse this week at their level.  Megan was able to add information to their study as I read to them.  Doing so solidifies her understanding of the material.  This kind of education is priceless.

How We Do Tapestry of Grace {large family, loose schedule} - this post shows how one family uses TOG as a guide from lesson planning to actual teaching |

As you can see from my notes in the above photo, I’ve put names next to specific books – some of those are carry-overs from the previous week and some are new ones I found in the Reading Assignment pages of Tapestry.

NOTE:  At the beginning of the year, I use Tapestry’s website to PRE-plan books I will need, so I’m not scrambling for resources.  (click here to learn more about finding the books used in each year plan)

After I have all my “plans” on paper, I will reorder them if necessary, but most of the time I know where I want to start and what the general order should be, so I simply cross off as I go throughout my week.

It is also at this time that I make notes on any items I need to shop for (pinata and candy in this case – I just don’t feel like making a pinata this time).  I also research any internet links I may want to use and either put them on my TOG Pinterest boards (shown below) or drop the links into Evernote.  (Truth be told, there are many days that I research as I teach, pulling up maps and photos as I go.)

Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Tips & Resources on Pinterest. Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 1 on Pinterest.
Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 2 on Pinterest. Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 3 on Pinterest.
Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 4 on Pinterest.
Note: You can see we are currently in Year 3 by how many more links there are on that board.

Where Does Tapestry of Grace Fit Into Our Day

Tapestry is an afternoon thing here.  Our morning hours are spent mostly in workbooks.  Tapestry of Grace is a sort of “slow-down” to our day.  It usually consists of read-alouds, projects, and discussions.  It never takes more than 2 hours.

Note:  The reading assignments from TOG are to be accomplished during morning school time.  They are not factored into this Tapestry Time.  So, for instance, Megan read in Victorian Internet during the morning time, and we discussed Samuel Morse during the afternoon hours.

What a Tapestry of Grace Week Looks Like

I always start by reading the General Information page from the chapter aloud to the children.  This gives them an overview of what the week will be about.  Then, I read from the History Core and In-Depth sources I’ve chosen.  In this section’s case, the resource is Abraham Lincoln’s World.  I usually choose a resource from Upper Grammar or Dialectic to read to the group.  We all learn something without it being over anyone’s head.  Lastly, I hand them their Reading Assignments for the week.  They are welcome to start reading or put it away in their box, knowing that the reading has been added to their morning school time for the rest of the week, and I will be checking in on their progress during the week.

Tuesday is usually spent discussing the main history threads and people focused on for the section.  And here’s where I lose my Tapestry of Grace Mom Award – I read directly from the World Book notes in the Teacher’s Notes. *gasp*

How I Do Tapestry of Grace homeschool curriculum - from lesson planning to actual teaching |

As I stated earlier, I firmly believe that information should be digested several different ways, so even if the children are reading about a topic in their Reading Assignments, I still want them to hear it read aloud during our Tapestry Time.

For some people, the idea of reading from an encyclopedia sounds super boring, but I learned a knack for reading aloud with passion from my mom (THANKS, MOM!).  I read with fervor, I interject questions and tidbits of my own, and many discussions ensue.  I am not a teacher who refuses to stop for questions and comments (and diaper changes 😉 )

Another reason I am perfectly comfortable doing this is because Marcia has notes on the pages to keep me from being sucked into World Book’s worldview (yes, World Book has a worldview).

This also allows me to avoid a lot of pre-planning.  The World Book sections are included so mom can pre-read and know what the children are learning about.  I don’t do that. (another *gasp*)  I digest the information alongside my children.  It works for us.

The last thing I do on Tuesdays is hand out any relevant notebooking pages (I have a membership to NotebookingPages), and I help the children remember and write down pertinent information for Presidents, countries, etc.  I file those away in a collective TOG Notebook I keep for the children’s Tapestry of Grace pages.

Wednesday is usually the day we go over Tapestry of Grace Geography.  This day is spent at the table with tea and cookies because our maps are on the dining room wall.  We live in a smallish house and this was the best place for the maps.  (We print our maps from this site.)

This is also the day we start any weekly projects I’ve decided to tackle.  I usually go for the easy projects – something that can easily be accomplished in 2 days.

Tapestry of Grace project |

This is the day we tie up loose ends.  We work through the remainder of the list, and we finish projects.  This is also the time I would have any discussions from Rhetoric that need to happen.  I do not do all the major Rhetoric discussions since they are more for a classroom setting, and we can accomplish just about the same amount in a family discussion over the World Book material. (see Tuesday)

We do not school on Friday because of Home Blessing.  If we are doing a Unit Celebration or other related party, it occurs on Friday or Saturday.  You might have noticed in my notes, we are having a Mexican-themed party this weekend!

Now, let me give you a little broader picture, so you can see what I’m NOT doing…

What I Leave Out of Tapestry of Grace

1.  Writing – I have my own standards here, so I assign essays and research papers as needed.  ALL of my children write creatively on their own.  They got that bug from their mama.

2.  Philosophy – We do an overview of philosophy, but I’ve never been a fan of the “dialogues” included in TOG.

3.  Most worksheets – I don’t like busy work, and while the worksheets in TOG are well done, I can tell if my child is retaining information without the aid of worksheets, so we skip these.

4.  Anything I feel is unnecessary for my child – This could be just about anything.  Perhaps I know they have already studied a topic extensively or I don’t think they are old enough to understand myths or I don’t want to go as in-depth as TOG has them go on a subject.  This is MY homeschool, I can use Tapestry the way I want/need to use it and still be a good mom. 😉

I Don’t Do All of Tapestry, but I Still Think it is Worth It.

So, perhaps you are wondering why I still like Tapestry of Grace if I don’t do it 100%.  Why not just use another curriculum that doesn’t have the extras?  Why not piece together my own?

Well, I tried piecing together my own.  It was a disaster.  Tapestry of Grace keeps me on track, and as I said before, it is the curriculum I return to time and again.  Here are a few of the reasons why…

1.  The hard work is done for me.  I cannot imagine the countless hours Scott and Marcia Sommerville put in to make TOG what it is.  It is massive, and everything I need is right at my fingertips without me needing to do all the hard work of gathering the information.

2.  If I needed the extras, they’re already there.  If sometime in the future, I decide to teach TOG a different way than I am now, I don’t have to scrap my old curriculum.  Everything is there and next time I teach this unit, I can choose to do more (or less) without needing to go back to the drawing board, so to speak.

3.  Our worldviews match.  I am a Protestant Creationist Christian who believes God touches our lives every day in everything we do.  This curriculum is decidedly from the same worldview.  Yes, you can use it if you are not all of these things (and Marcia does a good job of letting you know where there might be a worldview clash), but I don’t need to filter a lot of stuff from this curriculum.  For a busy mom of many, this is a huge time savings.

4.  The answers are provided.  There are other curricula out there that do not help mom formulate answers.  They offer questions and discussions, but no answers to those questions.  I can’t manage that kind of curriculum.  There are days when I am sick with morning sickness, have newborn brain, or just don’t have the energy to wrap my brain around difficult concepts.  I need someone to chew the information for me.  I may not fully agree (but, I did say our worldviews match, so that helps), but at least I have something to go on.  Thank you, TOG!

5.  The chronology and interwoven topics suit my style.   I like to study history chronologically.  I like to know the whole story.   I like to see God’s hand in history.  I like to have my school subjects weave in and out of each other.  I have never found another curriculum that does this as well as TOG.  Yes, I add in my own stuff, but like I said before, Tapestry of Grace is an indispensable guide for me to work from.  It is what ties our entire homeschool together.

So, now you know how Tapestry of Grace can work for a family that wants to use TOG as a guide rather than a full-tilt Classical curriculum.  (Note:  You will need to add in Math and Science no matter how you choose to use Tapestry.)

Let me finish by saying that I believe history should be the basis of every homeschool education.  It is so rich and deep, that an understanding of it is the gateway to a well-rounded education.

“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”
~Theodore Roosevelt

A Day of Raising Arrows {Episode #2}

You may have noticed Raising Arrows has slowed down a bit.  It’s been very peaceful here in my neck of the woods, and part of that is a slower attitude all around.  (See my post on what I’m doing about all the stress this world causes.)

{affiliate links included}

I’ve started getting up earlier (Thank you, Make Over Your Mornings!), and enjoying about an hour of time before the children start straggling into the kitchen.  The children get their own breakfasts (with help, of course), but my breafkast of choice these days is oatmeal with 1 tsp coconut sugar and a sprinkle of chocolate chips because I’m doing Trim Healthy Mama without stevia.  The oatmeal really keeps me going throughout the morning hours when school is in full swing.

Morning is spent on workbooks and “every day” school subjects.  Today, I managed to sneak in a chapter from Pocketful of Pinecones.  It inspires both me and the children!  I’ve decided when we head out to do our Back to Homeschool shopping (even though we school year round), I will purchase Nature Notebooks and clipboards for my 4, 6, 9, and 10 year olds.  Even the simple reading of this book has made them more aware of the nature around them.  I think I will also buy a copy of Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Sudy from Amazon.  I own the free e-version, but at heart, I’m still a real, live bibliophile (plus, I said I was going to spend LESS time on the computer. 😉 )

About 11 am, Aspen wants to nurse and take a nap, so I head to my room and curl up in my ugly gold chair and put on a mom movie – something like Miss Potter – that I’ve downloaded to my Kindle or stream from Amazon Prime (Miss Potter is available right now for Prime members).  Not many people in the house want to watch mom movies, so this is my time to catch a few minutes of a movie that is more my speed.

A Day of Raising Arrows {episode 2}

Aspen now sleeps in a playpen in our room, having outgrown the Snugabunny.  I lay her down, and quietly sneak out of the room to return to school with the others.

I spend my time on the floor with my little boys while my olders work on their own.  Blake has finished his Economics course, and is working through Chemistry.  He will follow it up with David Copperfield – his first ever Dickens novel, outside of A Christmas Carol.

Megan is racing through her school work in order to get back to crocheting a black hoodie – a pattern she found on Pinterest.  I’m anxious to see the finished product.  I’m amazed by all the things that girl can do – she is truly a Creative.  She’s been spending most of her free time this week doing “quiet” crafts because last week was a busy week for her as she worked as a Counselor in Training at a Deaf Camp.  Her dreams of becoming an interpreter seem nearer and nearer.

In between working with the middles and littles, I switch laundry loads and fold the clean clothes on the couch.  My older girl’s and my toddler boy’s clothes are piled together – the girls will sort them out and get them put away since his clothes go in their dresser.  My two oldest boys are piled together as well, and then there is a pile for my clothes along with my husband’s and baby girl.  The little guys (age 4 & 6) are sorted according to the drawers in their heavy-duty plastic “dresser” so they can easily put things away where they belong –
Micah – daytime clothes
Garin – daytime clothes
Jammies (mixed)
Socks/Undies (mixed)

They are so close in age that most of their clothing is interchangeable.  In fact, I find when it’s not me doing the laundry, their things get mixed up.  I also secretly culled a few long-sleeve shirts my 4 year old has been hanging on to – and yes, wearing, despite the 100 degree temps!  After lunch, I will call them all to put their clothes away as part of Tidy-Up Time.

Around noon, I call my 17 year old son in to start lunch.  Today, he chose a frozen pizza we had hanging around in the freezer and the myriad of leftovers lurking in the fridge.  I had a salad with diced chicken and spicy ranch dressing.  We didn’t bother to clean the toys from the table before eating – some days it just makes sense to eat with knights and Army men.

By this time, Aspen was awake and wanted some “real” food too.  I’ve been buying organic baby food from the store.  I know I could be making food for her, but this is one place I’m willing to “cut corners” and save myself some time and energy.

As the older kids work through their Table Chores, I send the little boys (ages 2, 4, 6) to the bathroom and then to Rest Time.  This is a fairly new “revival” of our old Rest Time.  The first day was a test of my patience, but the second day didn’t even require me to stand guard outside the door.  The 4 and 2 year old are in one room.  The 2 year old goes to sleep and the 4 year old is allowed up after an hour.  The same goes for the 6 year old in the other room.  I could put the two of them together, but I’ve found they don’t really “rest” when they are together.

While they are resting, I do Tapestry of Grace with my olders (ages 9 and up).  Today, however, was a project just for my middles – moccasins made from brown felt.  I traced around their feet, added a top and back sewn on with embroidery floss, we cut fringe, and my 10 year old daughter added beads.  This was a 2 day project studying the Plains Indians.  I read about the various tribes and how they lived while they hand-sewed their moccasins.  The children were so pleased with the lessons, they ended up playing “Indians” with their brothers when they got up from Rest Time.

Tapestry of Grace project |

During the rest of the afternoon hours, my oldest son worked on a website he is building for his airsoft team, and my daughter crocheted.  Eventually, Aspen was ready for her long nap of the day, so we went back into my room to snuggle and nurse.  The computer I am currently using was in my room, so after she fell asleep, I took a bit to type up a few of my thoughts and answer a couple of emails.  My MacBook is in the repair shop, so I’m using a computer I’m not used to.  Funny how using an unfamiliar laptop can make typing a chore.  I ended up spending more time gazing out my window at the sunlight in the trees than actually writing anything coherent.  But, nature is a better break than a computer screen can ever be.

A Day of Raising Arrows {episode 2}

Upon leaving my room, I packed away into storage the Bumbo.  Aspen can sit on her own now, and I’m never one to leave baby paraphernalia out any longer than necessary.  But, I will be honest, it’s difficult watching her grow up. Baby Aspen is 7 months old now.  It seems so surreal.  She is near the age Emily was when she passed away.  She is so like Emmy, yet so different.  It is still strange to me to have a little girl after all these years.

A Day of Raising Arrows {episode 2}

Because it is Aspen’s 7 month old “birthday”, once she awakens, Megan and I head out to do a quick photo shoot in the front yard.  Since she is sitting up, I put her in a flat-bottomed basket near a tree.  She wears an outfit that reminds me of Emmy.  Megan used to call Emily her little strawberry, so I put Aspen in a “little strawberry” outfit with a bright pink headband, and Megan spends a good hour shooting photos with her new portrait lens.

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I’m thankful supper is already simmering. We are having roast in the electric skillet.  It’s best this way.  Sear it on both sides and then add some water and spices, and let it simmer.  Pair it with broccoli and you have a wonderful meal to end your day.

At the end of the meal, we tidied the house to ready it for the evening.  A friend recently called it “putting the house to bed.”  I like that.

Once the house was finished, I cut boys’ hair and got them showered and jammied.  We ended the evening by reading in Heidi and discussing the upcoming weekend.

Since Ty was gone for the evening, I did a little redecorating in the kitchen, turning my hideously bare pot rack into something that makes me smile.

Decorating the pot rack {A Day of Raising Arrows}

The grater was my grandmother’s.  The other things are items I have collected and decorated with over the years.  I once had a landlord who laughed at my love of foliage inside my house.  Perhaps I am a tree hugger at heart – in the Creationist sense of the word, that is.

It felt good to crawl into bed and pull the covers up to my chin.  The sheets are cool and the quilt is just the right weight.  I set the alarm on my phone and place it on the windowsill.  When I awake, I know my little daughter will be in my arms – the thought of this makes me smile myself to sleep.

What is your day like?  Have questions for me about my day?  Leave a comment!

How We Teach Homeschool Economics

Even if the state we live in didn’t require us to teach economics, we would.  It is THAT important.  I’m not teaching it the way the public school would, but rather from a Christian worldview – one that is responsible, charitable, and stewardship-minded.

Even if our state didn't require us to teach Economics in our homeschool, we would.  It is imperative we get these principles into our children's heads - here's how we do it (plus a time sensitive 25% off coupon!) |

It is imperative we give our kids a solid CHRISTIAN foundation in economics.    This doesn’t just affect our cash flow and stance on debt, it affects how and when we give of our time and resources, policies we support, and how we view governmental systems and agencies.  This is important stuff!

Because most of us are not stock brokers or Economics professors, we will probably need a little help.  So, let me give you a run down of how we teach Economics.

{includes affiliate links}

How We Teach Homeschool Economics |

1.  Start with Economics for Everybody.  (There is an old audio-only version of this series.  It is not as engaging and informative as the series produced by Compass Classroom.  Please, do not mistake the two.)

Let me explain WHY we start here.  This is the foundational piece.  We need to give our kids a solid foundation in how economics really works from a Christian worldview.  Economics for Everybody does that.

The series features R.C. Sproul, Jr.’s teaching complimented by video illustrations that help connect the concepts for you and your child.  (YES, I highly recommend you watch these WITH your child – you WILL learn something!)

To give you an idea of how this works, take a look at this trailer for the series:

**Get the first 3 lessons in this course for FREE!**

The reason this kind of teaching works so well is because it brings in both auditory learning AND visual learning together.  Children (and adults!) learn best if they experience concepts in more than way.  Using the Economics for Everybody series will give your child the best chance at actually learning and retaining the information.

In fact, ALL of my children sat and watched the class!  That is how engaging and well-done this course is.  However, for those of you wondering about age recommendations for this course, it is geared toward middle school, high school, and adults.  And yes, you can have you middle schooler take this class and count it toward their high school credit – ahhhh, the freedom of homeschooling!

There are a two ways you can use this course:

1.  Full Economics Credit –  If you want your child to get a FULL credit in Economics – no fuss, nothing extra to buy – you can do that by purchasing the Homeschool Set.Teaching Homeschool Economics |
The Homeschool Set includes 2 DVDs, the Study Guide, and the Basic Economics textbook by Dr. Clarence Carson and Dr. Paul A. Cleveland.  (You can download the entire Scope & Sequence for the course under RESOURCES on the main Economics page.)


2.  Half Credit in Economics – this is what we chose to do.  The reason for this had nothing to do with not liking the textbook (in fact, I’ve never even seen the text), but because I already had some other resources I wanted to share with my kids…more on that in a moment.

If you are doing the half-credit, you will need to purchase either the DVD set or the Downloads (which you can also stream – WAHOO!)

After you have given your kids a solid foundation in Christian Economics, you can move on to…

2.  Bring in resources that compliment the fundamental concepts your student has already learned.  We are big fans of Whatever Happened to Penny Candy.

This book on its own is not enough to teach economics, but it is a good book, and I think everyone should read it.  I read it to my kids several years ago, and they still remember many of the concepts.  Now that my oldest has finished the Economics for Everybody course, I’m going to set everyone down and reread this book aloud.

I am sure there are other great resources out there that could be used to compliment, but this is the one we had on hand, and we really enjoy it.

3.  Stretch their knowledge and application.  This is where it gets fun!  Pull out newspapers, watch the news, discuss giving to the poor and giving to the Church.  Economics for Everybody gave you the concepts, now flesh them out!  Listen in on financial radio shows and talk over the advice being given.  Have your teens consider their own guidelines for saving, giving, and exhibiting fiscal responsibility.  Everyone in your family will be challenged!


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See the Light


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The year 2015 marks 25 years of teaching math in a way that equips and encourages both teacher and student. Math-U-See is a complete K – 12 math curriculum focused on homeschool and small group learning environments. We “Build Understanding” in students by using manipulatives in a multi-sensory, mastery-based approach suitable for all levels and learning styles. Each level focuses on a specific set of concepts while continuously reviewing and integrating previous concepts; other math topics are introduced where appropriate.

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Giveaway #2:


This amazing prize pack is valued at over $380 and consists of:


Foreign Language for Kids

Sign 1 (New award winning) This year Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids® is thrilled to be able to give away an annual membership to our online Spanish Program! The Membership includes full access to our complete, award-winning video series. In addition, the online program offers fun and interactive quizzes which will challenge your student and tell you when he or she is ready to progress to the next lesson. Our colorful Workbooks, which supplement the videos, are also included in the online program in a fully interactive format. The Workbooks contains, puzzles, word finds, and other fun activities to reinforce and expand upon what the videos teach. The Workbooks also add an optional component of culture and geography, which is presented in an entertaining way. The program is easy for parents to implement, even if they do not speak any Spanish. Students are engaged by the entertaining videos and excited when they realize that they are understanding and speaking some Spanish! At Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids®, we pride ourselves on our customer service. We are always available to answer your questions as your children progress through the program. Please feel free to contact us anytime.

Applecore System

Giveaway Image Applecore is a simple, online record keeping service designed for the fast paced homeschool parent. You can easily track courses, grades, attendance and more, all with full reporting from transcripts to report cards. Your FREE, year long, Gold Membership will include the following: recordkeeping for all of the students in your household, course tracking, grade reporting, report cards, a portfolio, attendance tracker, a scheduler and transcripts. Applecore is happy to assist you in keeping your child’s records organized from year to year!

Simply Fun

FrontRunner_250 We’re not just horsing around! Exercise your math factoring skills and make your horse the Front Runner. The first horse to cross the finish line wins the race. Solve equations using the dice by plugging in the missing numbers needed to solve the equation. Feeling fearless? Use a Second Wind card to re-roll the dice and try again. Falling behind? Use a Nose Ahead card for a chance to make up some ground. Solving for multiple operators? Follow the 3 rules for Order of Operations and run a smooth race. Learn Pre-Algebra Equations, Order of Operations, and Factors. Perfect for ages 8 and up! Value: $32

Systematic Mathematics

1 Math Rescue Cover We say “NO!” to Common Core. Math Rescue is a nonconsumable DVD program for older students (8th grade or above) that are struggling in math, have gaps, or just need a refresher. It will give them a solid foundation of understanding in math, which will build their confidence and enable them to pursue algebra and beyond. Math Rescue is a “Weapon of Math Instruction”! This course can be used alone or followed up with our algebra sets. Math Rescue includes 1 data CD and 8 lesson DVDs – an $82 value! Check out our website to learn more about Math Rescue and our other materials. Email with any questions.

Godstruck Ministries 4 Kids






Sing God’s Word – Psalms in Tune(CD #1) and the associated Companion Curriculum (for CD #1); a $21.98 value.



Listeners will follow the adventures of Kori and Anthony who encounter Matt Cello (M.C.), Joni Microphonie, Buddy Bass, the Dissonance Brothers, and a cast of many other musical characters from Symphony City. Each song features a Bible verse or verses with dialogue that can be used as its own devotion, or each of the CDs can be enjoyed as a complete story. The Sing God’s Word CD series is a valuable teaching tool and each CD provides over an hour of audio entertainment.



Along with the eleven songs and the accompanying tracks of the story line, a simple companion curriculum has been created for each CD designed to meet the needs of preschool and younger elementary-aged students. The curricula can be used as Sunday school material, with Children’s Church small groups, as part of a home school curriculum or with individual family devotions. For each devotional segment, the curricula provide an activity/object lesson, commentary, an appropriate coloring page (a free download from our website), an accompanying Bible story from My First Study Bible: Exploring God’s Word on My Own by Thomas Nelson Publishers, and suggestions for movement or reflection for the song.




Planner-500sq The author of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling has helped thousands of families organize their curriculum and activities through her best-selling books. Now Debra Bell has developed a series of gorgeous planners tailored to meet the specific needs of homeschooling parents and their students. Do you want to do more than just survive homeschooling? Now you can thrive in the pleasure of God’s calling. Count your blessings while charting your family’s progress with this 52-week planner designed to help you document God’s faithfulness and activity during your homeschool journey. Features include: • Unique Lord’s Day planning grid • Flexibility to help you prioritize and plan for up to six children • Customized daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planning forms • Forms for setting goals, journaling activities, and tracking reading lists • Year-end review pages This giveaway is for two copies of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, valued at $29 each.

Spelling You See

400x400-sys We’re giving away one level of Spelling You See for Top Picks 2015, valued at up to $46! The Demme Learning family is proud to introduce a program that allows students to develop spelling skills naturally, at their own pace, with the direction and encouragement of the instructor. Dr. Karen Holinga developed this innovative approach during more than ten years of research and experience tutoring children who struggle with spelling. With Spelling You See, you can use Dr. Holinga’s approach to help your students become confident, competent spellers  





      • Follows developmental stages of spelling




    • Tested successfully since 2000 by Dr. Karen Holinga, “The Reading Doctor”




    • Short, daily activities integrating copywork, reading, speaking, and listening




    • Promotes long-term visual memory of letter patterns that helps students, over time, to incorporate correct spelling in everyday writing


    Research has shown that students spell correctly when words are imprinted on the visual memory. This happens with repeated reading and repeated copying of letters and words. Reading back what is written helps students cement the correct spelling in their long-term memories, enabling them to spell the words naturally in everyday writing. To enter Giveaway #2, please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #3

Home Educating Family


Family Magazine meets you at the intersection of your life and faith. Committed to engaging today’s homeschooling family in thoughtful discussions of relevant topics, we bring you the best articles by the best authors about the most important issues facing families today. No cookie-cutter answers here—only practical, current homeschooling advice and resources.

Teaching your children at home in the 21st century is starkly different than it was over thirty years ago when the homeschooling movement began. Families now have more options, support, and resources than ever before! Our mission is to keep you informed, so that you have the very best home educating experience possible. Family Magazine is committed to addressing those topics that influence us most deeply, such as parenting, marriage, biblical manhood and womanhood, and the family’s important roles in the church and the government. At the same time, we give you immensely practical advice on implementing the newest and best ideas in homeschooling! Homeschoolers have the advantage of avoiding some of the worst elements of our world, but we also have the responsibility of changing our world. We provides you with you the encouragement, inspiration, and information to do just that!

Win a 1 Year Subscription to Family Magazine!
In six print issues each year with first-rate graphic design and culturally relevant articles, Family Magazine has quickly become the most popular homeschool magazine on the market. Subscribe and join the discussions taking place in the homeschooling community today. Family Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine published in February, April, June, August, October, and December
Please allow up to 12 weeks for delivery of your first issue.

Home Educating Family is giving away 200 one-year subscriptions to Family Magazine {valued at $25 EACH!}

To enter this incredible giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck!!!
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Giveaway #4


This incredible prize pack is valued at over $1800 and includes:


Easy Grammar

EGUS 8 TED COVER From the author: I created Easy Grammar Ultimate Series texts Grades 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12+* to ascertain students have a well-rounded curriculum. As a former high school English teacher, I knew that the focus should be literature, writing, and speech. However, students still need to be introduced to grammar concepts and mechanics at higher levels as well as to maintain mastery through daily application of concepts. The Ultimate Series has been designed for that exact purpose. I’ve used both an escalator, building-block paradigm and a cyclical approach. The former allows students to learn gradually. (Overwhelmed students tend not to learn.) Cyclical learning involves introducing, reviewing, expanding, and/or applying concept—every 20-25 days. In fact, I have written a “Scope and Sequence” for capitalization, punctuation, and grammar for each grade level. (For example, in Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9, students actually practice using an apostrophe to form singular possessives during nineteen lessons (days). This spiraling approach enhances mastery learning! Daily Format: #1 Capitalization, #2 Punctuation, #3 & #4 Grammar Usage and Other Concepts #5 Sentence Combining for improved quality of writing. *The + denotes that Grade 12 is also applicable at college level.


T4L_400x400_06-2015_Static Time4Learning is an online, interactive curriculum for PreK-12th. It can be used for homeschool, skill building, and summer study. Time4Learning combines the technology kids love with the education they need to make learning fun! Real life concepts are taught with animation, adding a sense of humor, to make lessons engaging. The curriculum can be used by following our lessons plans or you can use the activity finder to hone in on a particular area of study. For example, if you want to work on fractions and nouns only, you can. With automated reporting, adjustable grade levels, and support, Time4Learning helps customize a curriculum to your child’s needs. Give your children the tools to work independently, study confidently, and excel in the comfort and safety of their own home. Over the past decade, Time4Learning has helped over 400,000 homeschool students including gifted, special needs, and mainstream, discover their learning styles and instill a love for learning. Whether you’re looking for homeschool curriculum, skill sharpening, or looking for educational summer fun, Time4Learning can help! Time4Learning is available on tablets now, perfect for traveling. Our award-winning curriculum is available all year long, is student-paced, and accommodates every family’s schedule, even on the go! Time4Learning is giving away a one-year free subscription, up to $1,440.00 value. This 1-year subscription is good for a family of 4 and children in any grade levels PreK-12th. Winner will receive access to a parent login, multiple student logins, all activities, tools, and resources.


Great Homeschool Conventions



Winner’s choice of location Enter to win a Family Package to winner’s choice of location to THE HOMESCHOOL EVENT OF THE YEAR in 2016 (Texas, South Carolina, Ohio, or California). A Family Package includes a FAMILY REGISTRATION, up to 4 tickets to the TEEN TRACK, and up to 6 tickets to the GRAND FINALE EVENT. All tickets included in the Family Package are for use by immediate family members only – parents, children, and grandparents. Value: up to $150 SOUTHEAST Homeschool Convention – Greenville, South Carolina March 10-12, 2016 TD Convention Center TEXAS Homeschool Convention – Fort Worth, Texas March 17-19, 2016 Fort Worth Convention Center MIDWEST Homeschool Convention – Cincinnati, Ohio March 31-April 2, 2016 Duke Energy Convention Center CALIFORNIA Homeschool Convention – Ontario, California June 16-18, 2016 Ontario Convention Center GREAT HOMESCHOOL CONVENTIONS is an event not to miss! Hosted in major cities across the country, this event offers something for the entire family.  


        • Outstanding Speakers?



      • 100s of Information-Packed Workshops, including Homeschooling 101, Special Needs and Gifted, Parenting, and Classical Education specialty tracks



      • HUGE Homeschool Curriculum Exhibit Hall



      • REAL FAITH for the REAL WORLD Teen Track



      • High-energy Children’s Conference, hosted by Giant Cow Ministries



      • Exclusive special events for families



      • Plus much, much more!



We Choose Virtues

Parentig Cards As parents, do you struggle to set behavior standards your family will stick with? Is it hard to communicate your expectations in a positive way? Who said you have to figure this out all by yourself? We Choose Virtues has tools to help you. We take the guess-work out of parenting and put the fun back in! The Parenting Cards are a set of 12 virtue-training cards, teaching 12 essential virtues in just minutes a day. This flexible curriculum works in countless homes and homeschool formats, for ages 3-11. How it works: 1. Memorize simple action-definitions, antonyms and memory verse for each virtue. (front of each card) 2. Practice each virtue using real-life demonstrations provided, read about the Kids of VirtueVille, and take the virtue-user’s challenge. (back of each card) 3. Look for teachable-moments to reinforce the virtue throughout each day. 4. Encourage your children as they become even more obedient, honest, content, and kind! The Parenting Cards are included in the Homeschool and Family Kits, but we are giving away one FREE set! Moms are saying… “My kids beg for their We Choose Virtues lessons” “The yelling and screaming has all but stopped at our house. Amazing. Thank you, We Choose Virtues!” Retail $38.49 Promo Code VIRTUE15 for 15% off the Parenting Cards.


YE-500sq The Young Explorer series is Apologia’s award-winning curriculum for students from six years old through sixth grade. These books are written directly to the student in an engaging voice and include notebooking activities, projects, and experiments. These courses may be taught in any order, depending on your child’s interests. However, Anatomy & Physiology, and Chemistry & Physics cover more difficult concepts and are best used with older elementary students. Apologia’s spiral-bound notebooking journals contain lesson plans, review questions, additional project and experiments, full-color mini-books, puzzles, and more! Our standard notebooking journals are recommended for grades 3-6. Apologia also offers junior notebooking journals! Designed for younger scientists, these notebooking journals offer age-appropriate activities for grades K-2, including coloring pages, easy and fun science experiments, full-color mini-books, and simple vocabulary exercises. A suggested lesson plan makes this resource ready to use and enjoy. Perfect for younger elementary students or those students with limited writing skills. This giveaway is for the winner’s choice of one textbook and one junior or regular notebooking journal, valued at a total of $68.


HSP_400x400 Win a KidCoder: Beginning Web Design course from Homeschool Programming! This popular first-semester course will teach your 4th-12th grade student how to create their own web pages, right on their own computer. No prior programming experience is necessary; all HTML and CSS skills are taught from the ground up. Students will complete a multi-page website with many professional features, using the free software tools already installed on their computer. The giveaway includes the optional instructional videos to provide audio-visual introduction and re-enforcement of the textbook. Together this package retails for $85! Parents do not have to be computer science experts; we gladly answer your technical support questions. This course is compatible with Windows and Mac OS. To enter Giveaway #4, please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #5

This amazing prize pack is valued at over $400 and includes:


writeshop_primary_books2 (1)

WriteShop Primary is a parent-led writing program that gently introduces K-3rd graders to the steps of the writing process through hands-on activities, crafts, and picture books. These creative activities produce ideas and smiles! When you start teaching simple writing skills at a young age, children are less likely to fear and hate writing later on—and when fun replaces fear, their confidence will blossom. Lessons are divided into Activity Sets to fully cover a topic without hurrying the child. Lots of examples make teaching easy for you. Each Activity Set includes time for you to model and teach writing in a relaxed, nonthreatening way. Reading and writing skills are not needed—all activities may be done orally.

WriteShop Primary FAQs

Winner can choose WriteShop Primary Book A, Book B, or Book C SET, which includes both Teacher’s Guide and student Activity Pack (available in both print and digital versions).


T4W_400x400_06-2015_Static (1) offers 8-week online writing courses for elementary, middle and high school students. Each online course is led by a certified teacher who provides one-on-one instruction, personalized feedback and guidance along the way. Time4Writing offers basic, intermediate and advanced courses that teach topics such as grammar, sentence structure, paragraph writing, essay writing, sentence writing, writing for the SAT and research papers. Each course includes fun, interactive lessons and writing assignments. Students can easily access the virtual campus with their own secure login from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. The writing process includes learning to think, asking good questions, building confidence, and getting your thoughts out. Students work on their schedule, at their own pace, throughout the length of the course. Once an assignment is submitted, students receive constructive feedback from their teacher within one business day. Parents are able to log in as well to monitor reports and purchase additional courses. In addition to teaching students the ins and outs of a particular area of writing, Time4Writing also teaches students how to think and express themselves clearly and confidently. Each course comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee.

Time4Writing is giving away one writing course, equal to $99.00, for one student. The winner will receive access to any course of his or her choosing, which includes access to 8 weeks with a certified teacher, an online login, and all activities and tools within the course.

Geography Matters


GeoMatters is proud to provide the digital download version of your choice of levels from our popular complete curriculum series, Trail Guide to Learning. The winner can select from Paths of Exploration (grades 3-5), Paths of Settlement (grades 4-6) or Paths of Progress (grades 5-7). The digital download contains the complete text of the curriculum plus all student notebook pages for each of the three grades indicated. A complete book list of readers, atlases, references and other resources that are used throughout the year are provided. The winner of this giveaway will also receive a discount to purchase the resource package.
The Trail Guide to Learning curriculum is multi-level for seamlessly teaching several grades together. Each of the six units making up the school year takes about six weeks to complete. All subjects (except math) are woven together to create a natural learning experience for one child or the whole family. Students enjoy learning with approach as they love the book choices and the supportive hands-on activities. In addition, the curriculum is intentional in helping your child develop thinking skills that will last a lifetime. Value $160.

Brinkman Adventures

Season 3 main cover 400x400

The Complete third season of the Brinkman Adventures Audio Drama Series. Set contains 4 audio CD’s with over 5 hours of quality family entertainment. The Brinkman family returns for another exciting season of missionary stories and family adventures. From dangerous terrorists and a Taliban jail to threatening wolves and hypothermia, new challenges push our characters to the limit of endurance and force them to face their deepest fears. Travel the globe from Ecuador to Kashmir and from Africa to Alaska as you listen to these amazing stories and discover God’s wonderful truths!

“Brinkman Adventures tell incredible stories that God writes about people who offer their will as His quill and their lives as His slate.” -Steve Saint- Author of End of the Spear & Founder of I-Tec

“Captivates & Inspires… For all ages!”

$27.99 value.



Our children are bombarded daily with competing messages. Every song, movie, book, TV show, blog, and game is full of ideas–ideas about God, people, truth, beauty, and right and wrong. Not all of these ideas are true. Some are deceptive and even destructive. Because it is more important than ever that children learn to discern the truth, Apologia has partnered with Summit Ministries to bring the What We Believe series to your family.

The What We Believe series is an outstanding way to teach children the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but it’s so much more! With this beautifully illustrated Bible-based curriculum, your children will learn to use Scripture as a lens though which to view the world around them. Featuring engaging stories, creative notebooking, and fun activities, this four-part series is presented in a conversational style that makes the study of God’s Word exciting and memorable for the whole family!

This giveaway is for the winner’s choice of one textbook and one junior or regular notebooking journal, valued at a total of $68.




On italki, there are over 2,000 language teachers who are available to teach your child privately by Skype at anytime.

italki is giving 5 lucky winners ~3 language lessons in a language of their choice for FREE. Each winner will receive 30 USD in italki credits which can be used to take ~3 language lessons on italki.


All lessons are private and give your child the opportunity to learn in a relaxed environment.


Whether your child is learning Chinese, French or Arabic, italki has teachers to cater for all language interests.


As all learning takes place at home, your child can interact with a teacher from the safety of your house, and under your supervision.


Teachers will provide materials and suggest a customized curriculum based on your child’s needs.

Find a professional language teacher on italki.

To enter Giveaway #5, please use the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck!
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Giveaway #6 The final giveaway includes an amazing prize pack valued at over $480 and consists of:

Math Mammoth

mathmammotj Math Mammoth Light Blue Series (value: $175) constitutes a full elementary mathematics curriculum for grades 1-7. Some of the main features of the curriculum are:

      • It is mastery oriented, concentrating fairly long on one topic, with fairly few topics per grade;



      • It focuses on conceptual understanding.



      • Visual models and exercises are used a lot.



      • Mental math and number sense are emphasized.



      • The curriculum is nearly self-teaching for many children, since the explanations of concepts are found in the student worktext. Thus it requires fairly little preparation time from the teacher.



      • The curriculum meets and exceeds the Common Core Standards.



What is included?

Each grade level in the curriculum consists of two student worktexts (A and B) which contain both the teaching (explanations) and all the student work (exercises). Also included are answer keys, tests, cumulative reviews, and a versatile worksheet maker (Internet access required). Additionally, the download and CD versions provide these “extras”:

        • Files to replace the money chapter in grades 1-3 for Canadian, British, European, Australian, and South African currencies. The student worktexts use U.S. dollars as a default currency.





      • User guide




vsc-homeschool-guide-400x400 VocabularySpellingCity Family Premium Membership for up to 5 students, valued at $29.99. VocabularySpellingCity is an award-winning website and app offering vocabulary, spelling, phonics, and writing practice.

      • Immediate corrective feedback, for a powerful learning experience



    • Ongoing exposure to words your child is studying



    • Time-saving! Spelling and vocabulary tests are automatically graded



    • Use with any homeschool curriculum



    • Thirty-seven engaging games and activities



Happy Kids Songs

happykidssongs Thousands of parents worldwide have learned how fun and helpful it can be to have Happy Kids Songs in their lives. No child can be happy all the time, but all kids can be happier with improved character, social & emotional skills. Happy Kids Songs are both highly entertaining and age appropriate—adult quality music, but with words and themes that tap into the most common issues confronting kids ages 4-8. There are 8 different award-winning albums to download, each with 5 songs. One lucky winner will win two FREE albums of their choice.

Beautiful Feet Books

BFB Top Picks Giveaway Item The winner of this giveaway will be awarded one free History Through Literature Pack from Beautiful Feet Books. Choose one of our award-winning K-12 history programs from a variety of subjects including Ancient, Medieval, Early American, or Modern history, among others. Each Pack includes a Study Guide or teacher’s manual, all required literature, as well as other required materials depending on the study. Study Guide outlines each program and will instruct teacher and student what to read, offer comprehension and discussion questions, vocabulary, copy work, coloring, notebooking, research and essay projects, web links, and more! Value range from $65 to $215.

Bright World eBooks



“Ocean Forests” is the first app in a new digital reading series by Bright World eBooks. “Ocean Forests” acquaints children ages 5 – 8 with kelp forests, providing a nonfiction reading option for young readers.
In the storybook feature of the app children can choose to either listen to the story or read it on their own. Using a conversational tone, the story introduces children to life in the kelp forest. Giant kelp is the focal point of an environment that includes harbor seals, multiple species of fish, octopuses, sharks, sea otters, sea birds and more! Each page of the storybook provides an option for children to record themselves reading the story aloud.
“Ocean Forests” includes an Explore feature which allows students to move freely within a 3D environment, experiencing the kelp forest as if scuba diving! Children might tap on a gray whale swimming through the kelp forest and then hear a description of the gray whale’s long migration. There are many, many such auditory descriptions within Explore, all boosting children’s receptive language skills.
“Ocean Forests” also includes two games, one of which helps children make sight words of new vocabulary and the other challenges children’s reading comprehension. Available for $2.99 in the iTunes App Store, but one lucky winner will get a FREE download!

69F831C4-8B3A-4222-8C51-9E636766336E Educents is the best marketplace for affordable homeschooling products. For example, these Life of Fred books are the lowest price you can find on the internet! Our kiddos cannot get enough of Life of Fred and we cannot get enough of Educents! Check out Educents for the best deals on the best products.

Enter to win a $50 gift card on Educents! On Educents, you can find all the best homeschooling curriculum at the best prices! There is no better place to shop for your homeschooling needs.


To enter Giveaway #6, please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!!

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A Day of Raising Arrows

Here’s a peek into my day…

A Day of Raising Arrows - chocolate chip scones - recipe linked |

It started with chocolate chip scones (for the kids, that is).  I made some the night before for my husband who every now and then, gets a hankering for these.  The kids were very grateful he left some for them to eat the next morning.  (I regularly bake in the evening and leave a portion for breakfast on the counter in a sealed container for the children to find the next morning.)  We aren’t morning people, so they all just straggled into the kitchen to find their own breakfast, and then started on their morning chores.

A Day in the Life of Raising Arrows |

After I had my breakfast, I made Vitamin B water and some orange iced tea.  The Vitamin Water contains lots of great fruit and has become my favorite way to get my water in for the day – something I sorely need.  As it runs low, I fill it up from the Berkey.  It does take a few hours to “steep”, but it is so worth it!  (note:  we reuse the fruit for several days)

The orange iced tea is something I learned from a convenience store near a home we lived in several years ago.  Every morning, they would put out a huge glass container with iced tea and oranges.  It was the most wonderful tea in the world, and we started making our own at home.  I squeeze a couple of slices into the pitcher and throw it in the fridge.

From there, we started out the school day sitting around the dining room table doing our PictureSmart Bible.
Draw your way through the Bible

This is something we do 1 day every other week.  It takes a while to do, but we all really enjoy it.  The other days of the week, we start out with this story Bible.  They always beg me to read more – and I always oblige.

Next, I did the ABC series from Rod & Staff with my 4 and 6 year old boys.  I find myself reminiscing a lot as I sit on the floor alongside them and work through the pages.  I’ve been doing this series with my little ones since my oldest was 4, so I have fond memories of these fleeting times.

We school on the floor with pretend rats. #homeschool

A photo posted by Amy Arrows (@amyarrows) on

My 9 year old is learning his times tables, so he loaded the YouTube Kids app on my cell phone and watched several multiplication shows to help him.

My 14 year old spent the morning on her math, science and Sign Language.  On my morning rounds through the children, I caught her sketching, and had to redirect her.  There’s time for that later in the day. The finished product… A Day in the Life of My 17 year old is preparing for a Man Trip camping and hiking at 11,000 feet with his dad and some old friends of ours, so his morning consisted of setting up a new 2-man tent, and getting it waterproofed. A Day of Raising Arrows - preparing for a camping trip | He also managed to squeeze in some Chemistry, math, and blogging before lunch.

Lunch was sandwiches.  The children had their sandwiches on hamburger buns because I bought too many for a cook out we went to.   My lunch was rye bread and cheese with a square of dark chocolate.

The children did their Table Chores, and threw in another load of laundry, while I took a moment to downloaded some more of the Photography Bundle that ends today. After I got that going, I prepared for an afternoon of Tapestry of Grace lessons.  My 10 year old daughter had been hurrying me along all morning because we are studying Victorian England, and she has declared history to be her favorite subject.  (Actually, most of my children would say history is their favorite subject!) A Day in the Life of Raising Arrows | I started with a lovely link from Jane Austen’s World blog on what the servant’s quarters would have been like.  We looked over blueprints of Victorian homes, watched an episode of Manor House (viewer discretion advised on this), and I printed off Victorian paper dolls for my 10 year old.  I also printed off coloring pages of Queen Victoria, but we didn’t get to that.  We ended with tea and Chopin. To see more of what we are doing in Year 3 of Tapestry of Grace, click on the Pinterest board below: Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Tapestry of Grace Year 3 on Pinterest.

After school, the air-conditioning guys showed up. Only half of our house was cool. Here’s why:

A Day in the Life of Raising Arrows |

Thankfully, it’s been fairly cool here due to lots of rain and overcast skies, so we haven’t been cooling the attic for too long. *sigh*

The rain has made moss grow in the streets and flooded a lot of areas, but I have enjoyed the coolness it brings.
A Day in the Life of Raising Arrows | RaisingArrows.netFor supper, I made a very quick meal called Meatball Gravy.  It consists of sautéed onions and turkey meatballs from Aldi, covered in brown gravy, spooned over noodles.  It was a hit, and I was thankful for an easy meal after a busy day of schooling.

That evening after the children were in bed, I ordered some squeaky shoes from Zulily for the toddler (he’s hard to find at times!), and placed an Amazon order.  Here are a few of the things I ordered:

You guys must have bought out all the Seeking Health B vitamins I recommended a couple of months ago! This was recommended to me as a possible alternative, so I decided to purchase them – so far, so good.

We bought some of this coconut milk creamer in Colorado recently, and loved it! It’s only 10 calories per Tablespoon and a much better alternative to my beloved coffee creamer.

We needed some new HDMI cables to hook our computers up to our television. This is the main way we watch movies and our old cables were shot.

Ty and I sat up talking over our day and the day to follow, then I took a warm bath and headed to bed.  Just another day in my world – Raising Arrows.

Would you like me to periodically share my day here?  Let me know in the comments section! 

Is Your Plate Too Full {or is it something else?}

There have been times in my life when everything feels chaotic and overwhelming, and the only answer I can think of is to run away.  (In the Fight or Flight Model, I’m a Flight – all the way.)  My sense of duty and propriety keep me from it, and I continue to muddle through, finding the other side of the mess eventually.

Because this has been “one of those years”, I’ve found myself often considering those feelings of being overwhelmed and mulling over how they came about.  One thing I have arrived upon is that you can’t always trust the thought that your plate is too full.

Is Your Plate Too Full? {or is it something else} |

When things were at their worst earlier this year, I listed out everything I had to do (or felt I had to do).  The list wasn’t huge, and it certainly could fit into a 24 hour day.  Even with a new house and new baby, I knew what I was feeling could not possibly be due to what was on my plate.  Nothing that was on my plate was outside my domain.  Nothing that was on my plate was outside what the Lord had handed me.  I knew there was more to this, and I had to stop blaming the plate.

Do you feel like there is too much to do in a day, yet, you cannot figure out where to carve out any more time or how to get rid of any responsibilities?  Perhaps it isn't the stuff on the plate that is causing the problem... |

Is it hormones?

I really hate it when people make excuses for what you are feeling with the word “hormones,” but I must admit, sometimes it truly IS hormones.  I don’t consider myself a hormonal person.  Most people describe me as even-keel.  However, I have noticed the times I feel the most overwhelmed are after having a baby and before my monthly cycle.  Hmmmm….

If the plate feels too full because of hormones, there are a couple of things you can do.

1.  Wait it out and take it easy while you do.  Sometimes all you need is a little time.  For instance, after having a baby, it is crazy to expect life to normalize the day you get home from the hospital.  What you should really do is bring your life down to the bare minimum, and give it time.  The key here is to be able to RECOGNIZE what is going on, and not freak out over what you are feeling.

2.  Fix what needs fixing.  If time is not fixing things, then you need to explore options.  I’m not going to tell you what you need to do, but I can tell you that you will know when you find the answer.  I do not believe God intends for us to do nothing if something hormonal can be helped.  He created us and expects us to care for His temple to the best of our ability.  You can read about what I did to help balance my hormones HERE.

Is it a lack of rest?

This is literal and figurative.  Literally speaking, we can become easily overwhelmed when we are not getting enough sleep at night or when we push too hard for too long.  You simply cannot handle all life throws at you when you are tired.  Get more sleep at night or take a nap if you can.  Force yourself to do this one thing, and you will find your outlook on life greatly improved.

And don’t forget to take a Sabbath rest.  Work hard, rest well.  God put this cycle in place for a reason.  Don’t ignore it.

Need help finding rest?  Read THIS POST.

Figuratively speaking, are you running through your day in a frenzy?  Are you breathing at all?  Do you spend most of the day in a frantic pace, afraid everything will fall apart if you stop moving?

“Be still and know that I am God…”
Psalm 46:10a

Psalm 46 closes with those words, but it opens with something even more telling…

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
Psalm 46:1-3

If you are overwhelmed by your day, remember on whose strength you must rely.  Slow you pace, so your can see Him work.  Things may feel overwhelming, but God is still Lord of all.

Is there something on the horizon?

Sometimes those overwhelmed and anxious feelings come from upcoming events that are in your subconscious, but haven’t managed to make their way to the surface as yet.  Perhaps you have a difficult family member coming for a visit, or a difficult holiday is coming up.  Maybe you are nervous about an upcoming event or afraid you won’t be prepared.  You may not consciously KNOW why you are feeling overwhelmed, but your mind is an amazing place, and often sends out distress signals long before you are fully aware of what is causing the distress.

I have learned to be in the habit of thinking through what I am feeling (especially if it is a sudden onslaught of emotions), and considering what might be on the horizon that is making me feel as if I have too much on my plate.  This is simply a matter of learning to be aware of how your emotions are linked to your circumstances.  Learning to deal with both your circumstances and your emotions are a whole different can of worms!

Is it expectations?

Often, this one is inextricably linked to the previous question.  Is there someone in your life who has placed certain expectations on you, and you are dreadfully afraid you won’t live up to them?  Are they coming for a visit or have you been spending too much time with them?

Or perhaps, YOU are the one who has placed unattainable expectations on yourself.  (Read my post on how unrealistic homeschool moms can be.)  I want so badly for my home to be perfectly decorated and cleaned and orderly at all times, but that is completely unrealistic.  I know my home can be company ready in 15 minutes (or so), but still, I have a standard that tends to stress me out.  And when I am stressed, I tend to be a rather UNfun mom.  As our friend Dan says,

“I was having a bad day…until I lowered my expectations.”

Is it sensory issues?

While a lot of factors go into sensory issues in moms (read more about that HERE), when it pertains to “too much on your plate,” it is usually noise that is the thing that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.  It’s the toddler screaming, the boys laughing as they run in the house, the 6 year old saying Mommy over and over and over.  Your plate may not actually be too full, it may just be too loud.  Before you throw the plate out the window, step outside (or wherever it isn’t as noisy), and take a breath.

Is it priorities and stewardship?

Here’s where I hit a nerve…mine to be exact.  Sadly, more often than not I feel overwhelmed because I have not been a good steward of the things on my plate.  I have chosen to give priority to the wrong things.  My blog cannot be my priority.  The internet cannot be my priority.  Projects and hobbies cannot be my priority.  They can be a PART of my life, but they cannot trump my main responsibilities.

If it is stewardship and prioritizing that is your issue, it might help to actually write out IN ORDER your priorities and post it in your kitchen, near your computer, or wherever you need a little reminder.  Put the stuff on your plate in the proper order, and you will be surprised how much you actually get done in a day!

Is your plate too full or is it something else? |

What if your plate really is too full?

Truthfully, there are times when you have bitten off more than you can chew.  The too-full plate is real, and if this is you, then need to address the truth.

Can you let go of something?

If yes, then just do it!  A few years ago for me it was a mass email delete.  I was on information overload and had put upon myself a need to read every email that came to my inbox.  I could not do it.  I needed to start over…even if I missed something.  *gasp*

More recently, it was saying “no” to a very worthy project.  It was blog related and would have been a great fit for the Raising Arrows audience, but I was maxed out.  And when I’m maxed out, all of my readers can feel it.  It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to you.  So, I said no.

What if you can’t let go of something?

Sometimes you just don’t have the option to let something go.  Either you need to fully complete a commitment or the massive amount of things you have on your plate are something you must deal with for a season.  For instance, you need to ramp up a home business while your husband goes back to college or you need to take in your sister’s children while she walks through a messy divorce.  When this is the case, the answer is to do things that help you handle the stuff on the plate with as much grace and joy as possible.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

1.  Pray your way through it – Let a prayer always be on your breath.  Put on the praise music.  Keep your Bible at the ready.  And cry out to the Lord!  And don’t forget to thank Him when He answers!  Be grateful for the trials, the tears, the big and small answers, the mercy, and the love beyond comprehension.

2.  Take short breaks – You may not be able to fit in a lengthy rest, but do what you can to catch short breaks here and there.  (Read my post on creating a place to relax.)

3.  Exercise – When you are in a flight or fight situation, your adrenaline kicks into high gear.  You NEED a release for that pent-up adrenaline or you WILL go into adrenal fatigue.  Exercising will help you avoid this.  And when I say exercising, I do not mean a 2 mile run or an hour on the elliptical.  I mean exerting more energy for a longer period of time than your normal every day activity.  It might be playing tag in the backyard with the kids or doing several sets of lunges in your living room.  Don’t get hung up on the word.  It’s not as bad as you think it is.

4.  Eat right – Yeah, I know – you are busy and food is about the last thing on your mind.  Well, I hate to say it, but when your plate is over-full, you will need to do your very best to not give in to the ease of eating junk.  No, you don’t have to soak your grains and buy only organic, but you will need to reduce the sugar and eat as much REAL FOOD as you can.  Don’t make it hard, but do make it nourishing.

5.  Drink plenty of water – When your plate is full, you tend to run on caffeine and sugar.  Don’t.  Get a bag of ice, a sack of lemons, a pretty cup – whatever it takes to make the water appealing.

6.  Guard your time – Try not to add anything to your plate.  When the pastor’s wife calls and asks you to do the music for VBS, say, “I’m sorry – I can’t this year.”  Remember, this is a season.  You can add things to your plate (as the Lord leads) later.

Also, try not to tackle the major things on your plate that require your concentration in a time slot that will only frustrate you.  Making business phone calls while your toddler is in 4 o’clock crazy mode is NOT a good idea.  Put a time management plan in place that makes sense and won’t make you feel like you are living one big emergency.

7.  Surrender  – Give the entire plate over to God.  You should be doing this no matter how full the plate is, but when the plate is overflowing, there won’t be any possibility of doing this in your own strength.  Let go of the notion that YOU are going to have to do this, and let God take over.  His strength will become yours if you remember to let Him handle the plate.

So, is your plate really too full?  Or is it something else?