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✰✰✰✰✰ Pure Value for Homeschool Families Inside These Pages! TREMENDOUS!

✰✰✰✰✰ Pure Value for Homeschool Families Inside These Pages! TREMENDOUS!
It's always nice when someone takes the time to review my books. I recently got this five star review from Jennifer and her daughter Ella for Gifted Education Strategies for Every Child: Homeschool Secrets for Success .  They both loved it! Read...
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Wayward Prodigals Can Happen to Good Parents

Wayward Prodigals Can Happen to Good Parents

I received this book in exchange for an honest review - all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

I hope you know by now that your family isn't perfect. I hope you understand that homeschooling is not a panacea for the human condition. Homeschooling is a great way to educate your child and raise them in your faith, instilling your values along the way, but it does NOT come with a guarantee. I know that wayward prodigals can happen to good parents - even good homeschool parents can suffer as their child becomes a prodigal - a child who lives a life contrary to everything they have been taught.

Searching for a resource to share with other families, I requested the book, Engaging Today's Prodigal: Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope by Carol Barnier. I love this book and I strongly recommend it to parents who are dazed and confused by the choices of their wayward teens.

Carol understands. She knows that sometimes children make baffling choices, regardless of their upbringing. When that happens, you need a book without judgement or lists of things you should have done. You need a book that will instead come alongside you and suggest ways for you to cope right now, in the situation you are already in. She doesn't think you are a bad parent. She knows that complicated life and family situations can come up unexpectedly. From mildly messed-up agnostics to seriously felonious children, you can bring your problem with you into this book and find answers that will help you today, without judgement. Carol explains her own prodigal situation to put you immediately at ease.

Chapter 1 will begin your healing process, with the most important lesson in the book, by dispelling the myth that "Perfect Parenting Makes Perfect Children." Yes, our first lesson is it's a myth that homeschool parents can create perfect children who are always obedient to scripture. We are reminded that God is perfect and if this myth was true, Adam and Eve would not have sinned. While emphasizing the value of good parenting, Carol says the Bible does not promise that perfect parenting produces perfect results.

Once you have learned this lesson and believe that your child can make independent choices, regardless of how they were raised, then you can move forward. Carol will guide you gently through the process of wholeness. You don't need to beat yourself up anymore. You can find the answers to your worries.

This is a how-to book, but not a you-should-have book. It can help. It won't hurt, I promise.

You can check out Engaging Today's Prodigal: Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope by Carol Barnier on Amazon.

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Hands Free Life Book Review

Hands Free Life Book Review

Affiliate disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

Hands Free Life Book Review

I requested a copy of the book Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More because I was so excited about the topic. I'm online and on social media a LOT for my job, and frequently I'm writing about the overuse of technology by teens, and overuse while homeschooling. I knew I had to find a balance in my own life and start "overcoming distraction, living better, and loving more," so I was eager to see what Rachel Macy Stafford had to say.

A hands free life is about letting go of technology so you can live in the real world with your real life, rather than missing it all because you are always online. It's about spending time with your family, rather than pinning or posting photos of the rare times you are together. The hands free life was my goal, so I really wanted this book.

What a thrill!

Rachel Macy Stafford writes in such an unassuming, casual, non-threatening way, I really feel like I'm talking with her over coffee. At the same time, she provides great, concrete information in a variety of ways. She has a section for "hands free life daily declarations" and a pull out section for "habit builders." Together with stories about her family, I think every parent will find some useful information. Some will read her stories to absorb the message, others will use her daily declarations to speak aloud and make changes, and others will use the habit builders section as a to-do list, becoming more hands-free as they incorporate changes in their lives.

My favorite passage is on page 200 (which is now dog-eared and underlined):
"The world needs more peace ... The world needs more human connection. Let it begin with my hands as I choose to hold on to my loved ones instead of my devices."

I also love this, on page 109:
"See What is Good, the fifth intentional habit of a Hands Free Life, offers a chance to look beyond the outer surface to the heart of what matters most. It is a perspective that allows us to see beyond our distractions, our hang-ups, and our preconceived notions to see the blessings right in front of us. See What is Good allows us to be an encourager rather than a dictator ... an original rather than a conformist ... a bearer of joy rather than a messenger of gloom."

Then she goes on to describe her child who has unique challenges and how she learned to see what is good in her real life. Good stuff!

I loved Hands Free Life and I strongly recommend it for parents who need to go hands-free and unplug themselves before they miss their children's growing up years. I recommend it for parents who have challenging relationships with challenging children. And I also recommend it for parents who love to read good books!

Get Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More on Amazon here.

If you need help creating a technology balance in your home, check out my book, TechnoLogic: How to Set Logical Technology Boundaries and Stop the Zombie Apocalypse!

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Help for Parents with Strong Willed Children: Book Review

Help for Parents with Strong Willed Children: Book Review

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

Do you have a strong willed child in your life? This book will provide help for parents with strong willed children! I read it while in Glacier National Park on vacation and it was awesome!

Cynthia Tobias is the queen of learning styles - the guru of kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners - and an awesome author. Her gold-standard book is The Way They Learn, a classic for home educators which is helpful for choosing curriculum with your child in mind. She is more specific in this new book, geared toward parents with strong willed children. You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child.

I requested this book so I could understand more about the challenges parents face, and brainstorm solutions with my Gold Care Club members. I was shocked to find out how applicable this book is to my own life, even without children at home. I've come to realize that adults deal with other strong willed adults, from time to time, and the strategies remain the same. I could see much-loved extended family members between the pages of this book, and was able to use the lessons I learned in my day-to-day life.

The best part about You Can't Make Me is that it's written from first-hand experience by a mom with a strong-willed child. Cynthia doesn't promise it will all be roses and smooth sailing; she knows how difficult life can be. At the same time, because she has lived through it herself, she can provide balanced encouragement and options as you struggle with the daily challenges of a child or teenager who is not easily persuaded to do even the simplest things.

My favorite chapter is about turning conflict into cooperation, "How Can I Turn Conflict into Cooperation? Proven Strategies to Help you Both Thrive." You see, with a strong-willed person, you can't issue an order or they will immediately revolt. Cynthia Tobias recommends you ask questions instead, which may guide them to think through the situation or ask for help as they make their own decisions. She talks about choosing your battles, knowing in her own life that even the SMALLEST point can dissolve into the LARGEST argument if you make everything non-negotiable. She explains that parents often give far too many warnings, and instead should avoid threats and limit consequences unless completely sure they can follow through.
Five to Thrive tips for working and living with the strong-willed child.
Don't try to solve everything at once. Some tips will work better than others, but all of them will work to varying degrees depending on the child, the day, the mood, and so on. Remember, hundreds of SWCs (strong-willed children) have endorsed these strategies, and hundreds more are out there just waiting for you to ask them for more ideas. It won't be as hard as you think!

Throughout the entire book, she repeatedly reminds us to make sure the strong willed child always knows that your love is unconditional. No matter how big the challenge, unconditional love is the message they can take into adulthood, the irrevocable gift from a parent to a child. Each chapter begins with scriptural encouragement, a bonus for Christian parents feeling overwhelmed.

If you have a strong willed child of any age, this is a GREAT book. If you have a strong willed adult in your family, I also think you'll enjoy it - and then you'll be prepared if you end up with strong willed grandchildren in the future.

Great book, I loved it! Five stars! 

Available on Amazon here: You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child by Cynthia Tobias.


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Overseas Homeschool Friends - Listen Up!

Overseas Homeschool Friends - Listen Up!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

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Total Home Makeover: Transform Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home

Total Home Makeover: Transform Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home

I saw this book and it looked so great!  Check out what my daughter-in-law says about this book. She loved it!
As a newlywed with no kids, let’s just say I was skeptical that this book would be helpful to my life. Let me just start off by saying . . . I was wrong.

When I sat down at Starbucks (a nice peaceful alternative to my living room), I began reading the intro. She had me at "hello." Renee has a tone that will encourage you and make you feel like tackling your home is not an impossible task. I was expecting an “impossible” list of things to change, but what I wasn't expecting is that the list would start with me! Phase One is "Transform Self," Phase Two is "Transform Family," and Phase Three is "Transform Home." It's definitely not what I was expecting! The clutter in my house has always seemed to be an impossible task. My family teases that my Dad and I have method to our madness. And we do! It may be cluttered, but we know where things are. Unfortunately, because of this, there didn't seem to be much motivating me to change. And over the years it became an impossible task.

Even though my home is new to me, and my family is just my husband and I, it was incredibly helpful to begin to read about ways would could incorporate our future family into maintaining balance in our home.

This is definitely a book that anyone can read and anyone can relate to. No home is perfect. This book will help encourage you. It won't boggle you down, or make you feel guilty. Renee is there to walk along side you and lovingly help you feel like you can be successful at developing healthy living skills.

Check out the book, it looks just great to me - and useful for all home-makers, from newlyweds to seasoned veterans!

It's available on Kindle - if you need it now - and on paperback, for the perfect gift


Are you curious about The HomeScholar? Find out more here!
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Moms Cracking Up

Moms Cracking Up
How many books have you started to read that you simply couldn’t put down once you started them? Books so compelling that, in order to keep reading, you hid in the bathroom so no one could find you, told your children to do their math homework by themselves, and ordered pizza for dinner?!

Amazing books like that are few and far between in my life, but I just found another one. It’s called “Cracking Up: A Post-partum Faith Crisis” written by homeschool mom Kimberlee Conway Ireton.


As I read Kimberlee’s story of life before and after the birth of her twins, I cried, I laughed, and I cried some more. But most of all, I marvelled at how God carried Kimberlee through post-partum hormones and six months of sleep deprivation, through her fears and feeble attempts to trust Him, through the darkness to a place of grace and healing.


Even if your early years with small children are now just a dim memory, “Cracking Up” will remind you of what really matters: community, faith, family (and sleep!). When I finished “Cracking Up,” I found myself full of thanks for God’s unfailing faithfulness and grace towards us. Order your copy today from Amazon, but choose carefully when to start reading! You won’t be able to put it down until you’re done.


Reviewed by Jill Bell, Homeschool Mom and Editor at The HomeScholar

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Warning! Christian Alert!

Warning! Christian Alert!

I was a little surprised when I saw this review of my book, Setting the Records Straight on Amazon. It was the first time I got only 4 stars in a review. Surprisingly, the reason for the less-than-perfect score was because I expressed my Christian faith. Here is the review, so you can read it yourself:


Christian Alert
By J. McGrath, posted November 16, 2012This review is from: Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships (Paperback)

As a longstanding secular homeschooler, I like to know when I am buying something that has bible verses in it. That said, I appreciate the "can do" spirit, the obsessive detailing (so I don't have to be obsessive from the ground up) and practical advice. It's a tad bit aggravating that she uses her own very accomplished children as models--I would have appreciated some examples of medium-accomplished kids--but there is certainly enough information in the book to figure it out.


I have to say, my first reaction was to laugh. I don't remember including a lot of scripture in that book at all, so it's mostly just references about me as a person. I'm a Christian alright!

I understand the different religious views of people and I hope you will understand mine. You may not agree with me on Bible verses, but it's still reasonable for me to include references in books. Please understand that I don't try to mislead people at all. 99% of the information I provide will be helpful to everyone, Christian or not. I try to focus on our common goal; our choice to homeschool our children through high school. And by the way, if you would like to, you can leave your own review of the book here: Write your own review.

In my book, The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships, I have included a scripture reference in each chapter. I have also included a Princess Bride reference in each chapter! So don't worry! Each chapter will help you, whether you prefer your references from scripture, or the Princess Bride, or both!

Are you curious about The HomeScholar? Find out more here!
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