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Menu Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Table

Menu Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Table
What are you making for Thanksgiving ? Need some ideas? I don't have to make the turkey this year, but I do have other ideas! These are appetizers, sides, and desserts that are easy to make or can be made ahead - things I have actually made and my fa...
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Binz Family German Recipes

Binz Family German Recipes
Guten Morgen! It's possible my husband bought me a River Cruise through Germany for a Valentine's day present this year, and I've secretly been touring the Rhine! We were on Uniworld's "Remarkable Rhine" river cruise though Switzerland, Germany, and ...
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Recent Comments
Karen Carlin
Lee, I love your pictures, your recipes and your sense of adventure! We decided to home school our 2 younger children, 14 & 15, to... Read More
Thursday, 26 April 2018 23:28
Lee Binz
Karen, what a sweet thing to say! I'm so thankful you shared! I hope your daughter loves New Zealand - I've always wanted to visit... Read More
Friday, 27 April 2018 01:58
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Strawberry Soup Recipe

Strawberry Soup Recipe
Strawberry Soup is one of our family favorites. It's the perfect starter for a special meal, and always our "most requested" birthday dinner item! This is a cold fruit soup intended for a starter before a meal, but it's as easy to make as a smoothie....
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How to Say NO in 3 Easy Steps

How to Say NO in 3 Easy Steps

How to Say NO in 3 Easy Steps

1. Say it

       2. Explain it

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Recent Comments
Deanna Pathio
Oh how I appreciate this message! When I worked, I had a leadership position and my manager told me once that my position would te... Read More
Saturday, 06 January 2018 03:58
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Fun Fall Ideas for Kids and Families

Fun Fall Ideas for Kids and Families

As a homeschool family, you have the freedom to use the fall months for special activities related to the season!  I have put together a list of some of my favorite fun fall ideas for kids and their entire families!  I hope you enjoy them!

Fun Fall Ideas for Kids and Families

  1. Thankfulness Jar - Start a new tradition with your family this year, or carry on an old tradition in a new way!
  2.  Glitter Acorns - Apply glitter to acorns then display them in a jar.  Cute and fun!
  3.  Candle Apple Holders - Need a Thanksgiving centerpiece?  Make these as a family!
  4.  Scavenger Hunt - Go on a fall scavenger hunt together and enjoy the beauty.  Use this one or make your own.
  5.  Caramel Apples - Love caramel apples but think they're messy to eat?  Make these together!
  6.  Leaf Art - Do a fall craft together and count art hours for school!
  7.  Apple Picking - Go apple picking together as a family.  A great school outing and you get to eat the results!
  8.  Make a fun Pumpkin Snack - Whether it tastes like pumpkin or looks like a pumpkin, a pumpkin snack can't be beat!
  9.  Rake Leaves - Make a game out of a task that needs to get done.  Rake up the leaves and jump in them or rake them up and make a walking maze out of them.
  10.  Grateful Dinner Rolls - Type up a thing that each person is thankful for and bake them into the dinner rolls.  Make a game of reading them and guessing who wrote each one.
  11.  Go on a Fall Picnic - Pack a picnic and get out and enjoy a trail or a beautiful fall setting.
  12.  Make Applesauce - Enjoy those fresh apples you picked by making applesauce.
  13.  Pumpkin Seed Art - Carve a pumpkin and use the seeds to make an art project!
  14.  Candy Pumpkin Science - Need a science activity?  Candy pumpkins and toothpicks are all you need!
  15.  Go to a Corn Maze - Corn mazes are fun to do together, and if you have older kids, go at night with a flashlight!

I hope you take the time to get out and enjoy the season together as a family.  These activities can be a springboard for all kinds of fun to be had as the leaves change color and the temperatures get cooler!  Enjoy!



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You are Not Alone! Homeschool Growth Infographic

You are Not Alone! Homeschool Growth Infographic
Homeschooling is a normal, natural method of education, not some strange or foreign concept. Educating children at home is now a common choice for parents to make. Homeschooling has grown so much since the 70's, and now approximately 3 percent of the school-age population was homeschooled in  2011–12. And since it's growing like crazy, there must be so many more now. So you see? You are NOT alone!

This infographic covers a history of home-schooling beginning in 1977 and discussing trends along the timeline to present. It says that 3.4 percent of school aged children are now homeschooled which has doubled from 1.7 percent in 1999. It illustrates state by state percentages of homes-schooled children, and shows why so many parents have chosen to homeschool. Not surprising, now the most frequent reason being that they are concerned about the environment of schools.

“Home Is Where the School Is: Understanding Homeschooling in the United States”



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How Do You Say Curriculum? Curricula or Curriculum

How Do You Say Curriculum? Curricula or Curriculum

How Do You Say Curriculum? Curricula or Curriculum

I pride myself on writing the way that I talk, to make my books approachable and easy to understand. I figure the less you work to read my books, the more information you will learn. I know parents have different learning styles, and like to learn in different ways, so I try to provide books, videos, and social-interaction services that will fit everyone's learning style. But to do that... well, let's just say I use colloquial language when writing about curriculum.

Curricula or curriculum?

It's like data and datum. It used to be everyone knew the difference, but now everyone says "data" all the time for everything, now matter how many or how few pieces of information they are talking about. When was the last time you said "datum" in a sentence?

You see, curriculum is actually singular. Curricula is plural. I can count on one hand the number of homeschoolers who have used "curricula" when talking to me. Yup, I know that it's technically incorrect to use "curriculum" when referring to multiples science book options. At the same time, I'm afraid that it will be distracting for parents if I change to curricula or curriculums. Or worse, they will think I'm some hoity-toity, persnickety, post-doctoral educator that judges and evaluates. That's just not me.

When I was homeschooling, I always had my children reading challenging literature, and wanted them to expand their vocabulary. I was trying to increase the range of their understanding, and challenge them so they could interact with college professors intelligently. For my children, I would have chosen a book using the word "curricula" correctly. But when I was homeschooling, I was too busy to read books that slowed me down with their word choice. I had a hard enough time keeping up with the laundry and feeding my family. When authors made it quick for me to read and easy for me to understand, I was thankful.

I'm really, really sorry to the people who are offended when I incorrectly use the colloquial "curriculum".  But I pride myself on writing the way I speak, so it's approachable. Will you still love me anyway?

Which do you prefer? Curricula or curriculum? Does it bother you when an author uses curriculum when it's plural?

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What Does Homeschooling Look Like?

What Does Homeschooling Look Like?
What does homeschooling look like? It looks like a child, a book, and a dog, at least in our home! Homeschooling provides a safe and secure learning environment, and a comfortable, relaxing education. Pets are welcome!

There are so many benefits to homeschooling, it’s hard to list them all: rigorous academics, positive socialization, time for specialization ... the list is almost endless. Many families choose homeschooling because they believe the safety and comfort of home is the best learning environment for their children.

Sometimes people ask me, “What does homeschooling look like?”  I usually reply that in our home, it looked like my son lying beside our dog reading a book, or talking to his grandfather about economics. In an environment that is free of fear, children have the security to learn with reckless abandon.

Local public schools in Central Washington have picked up on this idea of creating a safe and comfortable environment for students, by incorporating therapy dogs into the classroom. First-grade teachers there are using man’s best friend as a way to get students to read. The students take turns gathering in small groups around the dogs and read to them from books. One of the dog handlers explained why it works: “Dogs are just very relaxing.” They appear to listen intently and, perhaps most importantly, can’t talk back. Educators say they’re the perfect reading pals for young kids, and medical professionals have long noted that being around dogs tends to lower a person's blood pressure and anxiety. I read that article and I thought, "Wow!  I'm ahead of the curve!" In our homeschool, we had already figured out those lessons, and implemented that educational plan!

Is your homeschool environment relaxing and comfortable? Maybe this new year is an opportunity to get a dog?! Whether you have animals or not, homeschooling offers you the best advantages when it comes to academics, socialization, specialization and security. Whatever the reasons you choose to homeschool, I’m here to help when it comes to high school planning and college preparation.  I’d love to talk with you!

Please note: This post was originally published in January 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Would you like to receive homeschool encouragement in your email inbox on a daily basis? Subscribe to The HomeScholar Helper here!
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Try a Coffee Break Book One Warm Sip at a Time!

Try a Coffee Break Book One Warm Sip at a Time!

Have you tried one of my Coffee Break Books yet? Check this out!

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Meal Planning and Freezer Meals

Meal Planning and Freezer Meals

How do you cope with a busy season of your life? People face difficulties all the time, and so do I. How do you manage to homeschool through challenges? The same way I work through challenges – by planning ahead.

Meal Planning and Freezer Meals

My husband was facing surgery last month, so I planned ahead. I filled my freezer FULL of dinners. I've done this and posted about it before, Gluten-Free + Costco + Freezer Cooking + Crockpot + Cheap = Meals. This time I bought the Costco Meal Plan #5 - 20 Meals for $150 - Gluten Free Freezer Cooking Plan {BASIC PACKAGE} from This $2.49 printable includes recipes and shopping lists to make 20 freezer meals in advance.  I chose it because the meals look familiar and I just wanted some help pulling it together quickly.

I set aside one day to put the ready-to-go meals in packs in the freezer. My husband and I will have meals to last us almost a month, plus lunches made from leftovers. I have my meal plan all made up. I'll be able to spend time with him as he recuperates, not having to think about what's for supper tonight, knowing that dinner is simmering away in the crock pot, or ready to pop into the oven.

You can plan ahead, too! Make sure you have a plan in place in case things go haywire. You can still homeschool through any challenges. Meal planning and freezer meals can help keep you sane, with just one less thing to think about. Plus, I don't know about you, but I simply feel more secure knowing what I'm making for dinner for the next month, because I'm just not so good at spur of the moment decisions.

How do you plan ahead in your home and homeschool? Do you enjoy meal planning and freezer meals? Please share!

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Subject Line - SUCCESS STORY!

Subject Line - SUCCESS STORY!
What a blessing to read about good news! Cynthia wrote to tell me about her marvelous success story! They were able to get their child the college admission and scholarships of her dreams!

Cynthia's Success Story!

 Hi Lee -

I am writing to say thank you and to share our success story with you.

Our eldest (of three) children was just accepted early decision into Lafayette College in Easton, PA! Your resources were invaluable in helping me wade through the application process. I used both your "Total Transcript Solution" and "Comprehensive Record Solution." I so appreciate all the information, directions, and samples provided so that I could customize our son's application to make him stand out. I feel our end product - the transcript, comprehensive records, in addition to the essays he and I both had to write and the recommendations from others - was an outstanding product that helped the college selection committee see our son's academic excellence and also his character, which led them to a decision to admit him to their institution.

I recommend your materials to all homeschoolers who have high school students, and I also agree with your suggestions that homeschoolers with younger students should also begin to learn all about keeping records before their children are in high school. I find myself almost looking forward to creating the transcripts and records for our two younger children!

Blessings and joy as you and your family!

In Christ,

Cynthia in NJ

Listen, if you are new to the whole "high school thing" just take it one step at a time. If you are a true beginner, or looking at homeschooling for the first time, look at my Getting Started Page. If you are ready to have your own success story about homeschooling high school, then check out some of my preview classes on my Homeschool Freebies Page. And if you would appreciate some support along the way, consider joining the Gold Care Club for $67 per month. The Gold Care Club has 5 recorded classes, a live webinar, tools, template, scholarships and resources that change monthly - and you can learn independently that way. But with the Gold Care Club you also get personalized support if you like, with a consultation for 20 minutes every week, by phone or by email. Plus it's just plain fun to talk to another homeschool mom who understands!

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5 Steps for Safe and Sane Internet Use

5 Steps for Safe and Sane Internet Use

How much internet is too much internet?

Our families are surrounded by electronic devices. Our TV can connect to the internet. We have a computer, laptop, smart phones, tablets, and gaming devices.

In the midst of our tangled electronic cables, how can you keep your kids safe and sane, without ruining their life or sheltering them too much? What can you do?

Here are 5 Steps for Safe and Sane Internet Use

1. Lead by example, and demonstrate responsible behavior in your own internet usage, whether online, playing games, on your phone, or using social media.

2. Keep the computer in a public place to avoid inappropriate behaviors and assess potential problems.

3. Install filters and monitoring software, knowing these devices alone can't keep your children safe.

4. Turn off the internet at night to prevent sneaking around to use the internet, or sleep interruptions caused by nighttime use.

5. Set up internet free times, so your family will know how to have fun even without electronic devices of any kind.

Created By: Liahona Academy - Therapeutic Boarding School for Boys

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Tips for New Empty Nesters

Tips for New Empty Nesters

Tips for New Empty Nesters

I found a marvelous collection of articles for parents that are sending their children off to college and becoming empty nesters. Check these out and let me know what you think!

 Tips for First-Years

This article has some tips on how to stay in touch with your child. What I loved even more, though, was this list: 

3 Simple Steps for Academic Success

Go to class.
Do all of the homework and reading.
Get extra help if you're having trouble understanding the subject matter. Don't wait until midterms or the final exam to try to get help.

First Year in Five Stages

This describes the five stages of peaks and valleys that kids experience during their first year of college.

Stage 1: The Honeymoon
Stage 2: Culture Shock
Stage 3: Initial Adjustment
Stage 4: Homesickness or Loss of Confidence
Stage 5: Acceptance and Integration

 Sending Your Kid Away to College

 I love the part of this article, where they talk about the "stress dump." The author says children will call out of the blue to unload on their parents about college problems. "Kids will often call their parents and do what we call the ‘stress dump’ to unload their frustrations." It's uncomfortable to be dumped on, sure, but knowing it's normal and expected can help. 

If you are facing the Empty Nest - hang in there! It WILL get better!
If you are Empty Nesters already, what has it been like so far? Are you adjusting?

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Political Conversations: Civics Must Be Caught AND Taught

Political Conversations: Civics Must Be Caught AND Taught

What if your homeschool students swayed the political majority? What if they all learned how to vote, and then actually showed up at the polls and voted their conscience. What marvelous things would result!

Let me tell you a little secret. You can’t just "teach" kids to vote. It's one of those things that is caught as well as taught. They have to see you consistently voting, no matter how inconvenient the timing or how boring the election. You have to make political conversations part of your routine.

Here is what I suggest.

 1. Read the voter guide in front of your children.

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Avoid This One Fatal Flaw When Teaching High School English

Avoid This One Fatal Flaw When Teaching High School English

High School English can include so MANY things that it can be overwhelming! You can teach communication skills, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, penmanship, composition reports, poetry, prose, reading skills, reading for pleasure, classical literature, non-fiction, reading aloud, speed reading, comprehension, public speaking, speech and debate, American Literature, British Literature, Great Books, literary analysis, essay writing, research, proof-reading, timed essays, sentence structure, paragraph outline, mythology, fables, capitalization, punctuation, parts of speech, dialogue, word choice, editing, novel writing, short stories, lyrics, iambic pentameter, haiku, expository writing, narrative writing, summarizing, creative writing, note taking, persuasive writing, literature appreciation, bibliography, biography, themes, Shakespeare, irony, listening skills, comprehension, character, setting, rhetoric, Socratic dialog.

When I considered all my options, it felt like a giant collage of guilt, weighing me down, and draining my love of homeschooling. That's because in my thinking I made one fatal flaw.

I felt like I should be doing all these things in the first month of school during freshman year! 

It can seem overwhelming - I know that! But you must know the truth. You can’t do everything. You can’t do it all in one year. Focus on what is important: reading and writing. The goal of high school English is clear communication. There are many ways to get there, not everything needs to be covered by all children, and there are many paths to get you where you need to go.

Repeat after me: "I can't do it all, and I can't do it all in one year." 

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