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Curriculum, Schedules, Checklists 2014 – 2015 5th, 8th, and 9th Grades

We are very hands-on (Montessori-ish) homeschoolers and have been homeschooling for five years, headed into our sixth! This article is all about our homeschool curriculum, schedule and checklists for 2014-2015. My boys are in 9th, 8th and 5th grades. Since Chase and Gage both are taking high school level classes, we are now at the point where we are using transcripts. Thankfully our umbrella school, HomeLife Academy makes it easy with their new AppleCore Reporting System!  You will notice that their schedules have changed DRAMATICALLY from last year.  If you haven’t read my post 18 Summers yet, that is the best way to explain what has happened…

2014-2015 homeschool curriculum, schedules, checklists

That being said, we can’t change our stripes too much!  So, you will see on my boys’ daily checklist they still have a variety of daily chores they do from vacuuming to washing clothes. And they regularly swap out chore lists to allow them to learn all aspects of running a home. We have also taken practical life skills to the next level with a focus on entrepreneurship.  I just received my Lemonade to Leadership curriculum from IEW. We will be using it this summer. Gage’s business (Deluxe Clucks) is firmly established and he is selling eggs and starting to sell chicks.  However, Chase and Blake’s businesses still need to be identified and developed. So, we thought the Lemonade to Leadership study would be great to help kick their creative juices in! You’ll notice the activities associated with their business are built into their work plans as well.

Disclosure

Since two of my boys are taking high school classes, I created a High School Course List for the high school courses (required and some electives) recommended byHomeLife Academy for students who plan to attend college.  (NOTE: Be sure to check what is required for your state. These are for my state, TN.)  My boys are planning to attend Christian Brothers University in Memphis. So, I am also checking with the University to determine what they expect from incoming homeschool students, academically.  Many schools now have their catalogs online so you can see what is required.  Also, my boys will be taking CLEP exams to test out of some college courses. Each college allows a different amount of CLEPs… so be sure you know the maximum allowed to transfer in. CBU happens to be 30 hours.

So, yes, I have dramatically cut back their schedules this year. They are getting in their 4 hours of school required by the State of TN (plus some) in the mornings. The afternoons are for other pursuits. Their business endeavors, development of personal interests (photography, computer programming, etc.) and just being able to have fun and enjoy being a child still. Time to build forts, or ride their scooters or bikes, explore the woods behind our house or hangout with a great book… any and all of these do happen on a regular basis now and most likely will continue.

So, let’s get to their schedules, classes, curriculum, checklists, etc. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me!  I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have!

Chase – 9th Grade

Chase 2014

Chase is my oldest son, he is entering High School officially (although he earned quite a few high school credits over the last couple of years). I have attached his schedule in Word. If you want to modify it to fit your needs, feel free to! Work Plan Chase 9th b.  The boys like having a daily checklist and it helps me keep up with where they are. Here is one that I created (in Word) for his 9th grade year. Chase Daily Checklist 2014 – 2015

The courses Chase is taking are listed below:

Gage – 8th Grade

Gage 2014 e

Gage is my middle son, he is actually in 8th grade, but has been taking high school level classes since last year as well. He has earned a couple of high school credits already and this year, almost every class will be for high school credits. I have attached his schedule in Word so you can modify it to fit your needs also. Work Plan Gage 8th b.  Here is Gage’s checklist as well. Gage Daily Checklist 2014 – 2015.  You will notice that Chase and Gage’s class list is almost exactly alike. However, there are a few differences. Gage is early in Algebra 2, Apologia Biology not Chemistry, Lower levels in All About Spelling, Exercises in English and Vocabulary in Action.

 The courses Gage is taking are listed below:

 Blake – 5th Grade

Blake 2014 b

Blake is my youngest son, he is in the 5th grade. I have attached his work plan / schedule in Word also. Work Plan Blake 5th b.  Here is checklist as well. Blake Daily Checklist 2014 – 2015.

The courses Blake is taking are listed below:

I have a Curriculum spreadsheet that I use to track what all the boys are taking (and have taken) all the way through high school. Keep in mind, it changes regularly… but it does give me a framework to work within and helps me identify gaps.

I hope this article and the free printable documents will be a blessing to you and your homeschool!

Until next time…

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Middle and High School LinkUp #21

Welcome to our Middle and High School LinkUp #21 for tweens, teens and their Moms! We are so excited to have a linkup for our children to have a creative writing outlet and for us moms to have a place to share middle school and high school homeschool tips and techniques.  We have decided to keep the linkup running through the summer.  The students will not be provided a creative writing prompt every week. For the month of May we decided to the topic be open.  So the students are writing articles that interest them.  They are writing on their own blogs or on their moms’ and then link their articles below. I am so encouraged and excited seeing how their writing skills are developing and their creativity is flourishing!  This has been such a blessing to me personally and to our own homeschool!  Thank you all for being a part of it!

You can link up at any of the following co-host’s sites:

Amy at Homeschool Encouragement

Clara at Clara’s Blue Moon (teen co-host)

DaLynn at Holy Splendor

Jennifer at Royal Little Lambs

Laura at Day by Day in Our World

Trish at Live and Learn Farm

Vicki at 7 Sisters Homeschool

Wendy at Homeschooling Blessings

Middle and High School Linkup for Students and Moms!

If you are interested in joining us, linkup your article below. If you want to co-host, email me and let me know.  Our focus for the co-hosting  is for only moms of the teens, or the teens themselves to co-host.

guidelines for the linkup:

  • The link-up will be open Monday through Saturday evening (except on weeks like this week… where Memorial Day fell on Monday and I am completely thrown off for the week)… so I’m LATE posting 🙂
  • Please link directly to the url of your post (permalink).
  • Please check back and visit at least one of student’s submissions and leave a comment for them.  Our job is to encourage writing, their Mom (or Dad) will take care of the critique :-)
  • If you don’t mind, please place the button and code in your blog post so others can find out about the linkup also!
  • That’s it!

and now it’s time for the link up!

We will continue with the author’s choice for the rest of this month. So, our children will be sharing their own stories and inspiration. I look forward to reading fiction or non-fiction… whatever you guys decide to write is fine!!


Middle and High School LinkUp #20

Welcome to our Middle and High School LinkUp #20 for tweens, teens and their Moms! We are so excited to have a linkup for our children to have a creative writing outlet and for us moms to have a place to share middle school and high school homeschool tips and techniques.  The students are provided a creative writing prompt (usually).  They write their article on their own blog or on their mom’s blog and then link their articles below.  I am so encouraged and excited seeing how their writing skills are developing and their creativity is flourishing!  This has been such a blessing to me personally and to our own homeschool!  Thank you all for being a part of it!

You can link up at any of the following co-host’s sites:

Amy at Homeschool Encouragement

Clara at Clara’s Blue Moon (teen co-host)

DaLynn at Holy Splendor

Jennifer at Royal Little Lambs

Laura at Day by Day in Our World

Trish at Live and Learn Farm

Vicki at 7 Sisters Homeschool

Wendy at Homeschooling Blessings

Middle and High School Linkup for Students and Moms!

If you are interested in joining us, linkup your article below. If you want to co-host, email me and let me know.  Our focus for the co-hosting  is for only moms of the teens, or the teens themselves to co-host.

guidelines for the linkup:

  • The link-up will be open Monday through Saturday evening.
  • Please link directly to the url of your post (permalink).
  • Please check back and visit at least one of student’s submissions and leave a comment for them.  Our job is to encourage writing, their Mom (or Dad) will take care of the critique :-)
  • If you don’t mind, please place the button and code in your blog post so others can find out about the linkup also!
  • That’s it!

and now it’s time for the link up!

We will continue with the author’s choice for the rest of this month. So, our children will be sharing their own stories and inspiration. I look forward to reading fiction or non-fiction… whatever you guys decide to write is fine!!

 


The Real Price of Stuff

This article is part of the Just 18 Summers series. A series where we examine how quickly time is evaporating.  Where we start to adjust our lives to take advantage of the precious little time we have left with our children. Along those lines, I want to challenge you to evaluate what the real price of stuff is and determine if it is worth it.  You see, every single item we have has a price tag on it.  Not just the price we paid for it that we won’t ever recoup, but a price that goes along with taking care of it, cleaning it, storing it, and protecting it.  And what is worse, that price paid comes at a cost to something else, somewhere else. This is a zero-sum game.

Just 18 summers

 

Price Plus Time

The various phases of life brings with them different priorities. We have a huge home that was bought in a different season of our lives and it sits on 40-some-odd acres in a picture perfect postcard setting of rural America. Besides the house and land, on it sits a barn almost as big as our house, a white picket fence around the pool in the backyard, and a steel gate out front to protect it all. And that same house is filled to the brim with stuff. Not to mention how full the barn is. What is the cost of it all? Once you realize all your extra time, money and energy is spent maintaining it, cleaning it, mowing it, painting it, renovating it and generally fussing with it,  you quickly come to the realization … this price is just too high to pay.

Price Plus More Money

Maintaining a home this size with all the associated stuff costs a lot of money… money that could be better spent. In ways that build relationships and create memories. Maybe taking trips, especially going back home to visit my siblings in North Carolina. Family my children don’t really know because we haven’t been home in a while. Or even traveling to sites to learn about history and bring to life the places we are studying. Making memories. Connecting. Seeing. Doing. Yet, when you have no money left over to spend on the things you love to do, you realize the cost of this stuff is just too expensive.

Price Plus Energy

Not only is every minute and every dollar spent maintaining the stuff in, around and associated with this size home… but every ounce of energy (especially on the weekends) is spent maintaining this beautiful monster and all its sirens. Every weekend it is all hands on deck. It takes all of us to get it done. And yet there are still things not completed. Some, not even started. Some we don’t even realize they need doing until something else crops up!  And when you realize you have no energy left to do the things you love doing, you know the cost is too high.

Just 18 Summers

The Real Price of Stuff

Which brings us to the core problem and the real price of stuff … we have become slaves shackled to a beautiful monster that is extremely exacting. A beautiful monster who becomes more needy every day. When you are looking at your stuff and you suddenly realize you have to sacrifice what precious little time you have with your family, unable to do the things you love and want to do, to be able to afford to take care of it and maintain it… then you know in your heart the price is too high and it’s time to make dramatic changes.

You’ve heard the adage… time is money. However,  in reality, time is so much more than money. Time is a fleeting commodity. More money can always be made or earned, however, more time cannot be bought! Therefore, we are choosing to spend this commodity more wisely!  The Real Price of this lifestyle is just a price we are not willing to pay.

We are starting a dramatic shift in lifestyle, in focus, in purpose… Join us as we navigate this unfamiliar territory!

Until next time….

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If you are curious what led us to even start this evaluation process, be sure to read the first article in this series. 

Start a Group on Facebook – Boost your Blog #BB100

Well, this series on using Facebook to Boost your Blog is coming to a close. This is the next to the last post I’ll be writing in this series. As we all have been working through how to overcome the dramatic changes that Facebook has made to business pages, I have one more suggestion. This is one that will take time to develop and grow, and it still subject to the whims of Facebook… so I’m not saying it is the silver bullet.  I am saying, at this point, it is the best alternative I have found and the surest way to reach our followers: Start a group on Facebook.

Boost your Blog #bb100

As with all the suggestions I have made thus far, we have done this very thing.  Right at three weeks ago we started Hip Homeschool Moms Community, a closed group on Facebook.  As I write this article, it has over 1,600 members already.  That is nowhere near what our Facebook Page has, which is over 45,000 followers.  However, our Page has been up for three years.  If you divide that 45,000 by 36 months, it is 1,250 per month. We have already topped that in the group in two weeks!

I have to tell you… this group is much more than getting our posts back in front of our followers though. It really is creating community in a big way! It is an environment where mentoring new homeschool moms is taking place and all of us are supporting each other walking out the homeschool lifestyle. Almost from the moment I bought into Hip Homeschool Moms, we have been talking about creating a community. We always thought it would be off Facebook. I’m not sure what direction we will take in the future regarding moving off Facebook, but I can tell you creating the group on Facebook was the right step at this time. We get positive comments from the members almost everyday about how much they appreciate and love this group.

Today’s Challenge

Start a group! Even if you don’t tell anyone about it and you keep it secret at this point, you can grab the name for your community (before someone else does). If you are not familiar with how to create a group, you can learn how here.  Maybe you have it for a specific aspect of your blog, a challenge, a subset of the followers, etc. I hope you will seriously consider this avenue and see if it is right for your followers.

Be sure to read the other posts in this series:

Day one:  Know your Audience
Day two:  Know your Competition
Day three:  The Goal of Social Media
Day four:  Turn Off the Autofeeds
Day five:  Methodically Test Your Posts
Day six:  Testing Which Posts Work
Day seven:  Pay to Play
Day eight:  Be Prepared to Change
Day nine:  Start a Group 
Day ten:  Content is King and Social Media His Queen

Be sure to visit the other co-hosts and do their challenges as well!

  • Lisa from Squishable Baby wrote a series on Giveaways
  • Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love wrote a series on Grammar
  • Thaleia from Something 2 Offer wrote a series on Blog Photos and one on Commenting
  • Martiel from Amazing Success Academy wrote a series onSEO and one on Blog Titles and Topics
  • Honey from Honey’s Life wrote a series on Twitter

Until next time…

 

With Facebook Be Prepared to Change – Boost your Blog #BB100

Well, we are about to close out this series and I am looking back over what I’ve shared. When I was first talking about participating in this challenge, Facebook had not made their big change. So, when it happened, I requested to be on the back-end of the series so I could analyze what was happening and make more informed suggestions. The one take away I have from all this is … with Facebook be prepared to change.

boost your blog #bb100

I have been one of the Facebook page owners that was not in the least bit happy. I also have been one of the Facebook page owners that realizes that Facebook is a business. So, I’ve really tried to look at it from a business perspective. Taking all the emotion out of the equation. Just looking at it strictly from their perspective… all these changes are based on business. They have shareholders that expect a return on their investment. And who can blame them?  So, we have to accept that this is the new reality of using Facebook. It is not going to be a free ride any longer.

Today’s Challenge

So today’s challenge is stop being emotional about Facebook and the changes being made. It is their business and we have been using it for free. Many businesses have been made due to Facebook. I would continue to use it like I do all the social media outlets. But I would also expect that it will continue to evolve. If you are not good with that, go ahead and leave now. You will save yourself a lot of heartache and headaches.

I now look at this evolution as a game. I am Type A enough to think I can somehow master this game and actually win at it. So, I will continue to treat Facebook as an experiment. Testing, documenting and evaluating. Continually tweaking stuff to see if it is working. If you can make a game out of it, I think it will make this ride far more tolerable!

Be sure to read the other posts in this series:

Day one:  Know your Audience
Day two:  Know your Competition
Day three:  The Goal of Social Media
Day four:  Turn Off the Autofeeds
Day five:  Methodically Test Your Posts
Day six:  Testing Which Posts Work
Day seven:  Pay to Play
Day eight:  Be Prepared to Change
Day nine:  Start a Group 
Day ten:  Content is King and Social Media His Queen

Be sure to visit the other co-hosts and do their challenges as well!

  • Lisa from Squishable Baby wrote a series on Giveaways
  • Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love wrote a series on Grammar
  • Thaleia from Something 2 Offer wrote a series on Blog Photos and one on Commenting
  • Martiel from Amazing Success Academy wrote a series onSEO and one on Blog Titles and Topics
  • Honey from Honey’s Life wrote a series on Twitter

Until next time…

Pay to Play on Facebook – Boost Your Blog #BB100

How are you doing thus far with your Facebook Challenge?  I hope it has been beneficial and that you are learning a lot!  As we all know Facebook is a business and as such, has stockholders to answer to.  They have a need to make money just like other businesses, which is understandable. So one of the biggest questions I hear is should we pay to play on Facebook?  Well, I will share two posts and let you make up your own mind.

boost your blog #BB100

We have experimented a little with paying to boost posts on Facebook. Not enough to recommend one way or the other yet. More experimenting is required! I can tell you I have listened to and watched some of the arguments for and against and I’ll share them with you to make your own decisions!

Facebook Fraud

This is probably the most popular video on the against side of pay to play on Facebook.  It is by Veritasium and he gives reasons, examples, and lots of data about experiments he implemented personally (and from others experiments) to test if you should spend money to boost pages and posts on Facebook. I agree with him on the Boost your PAGE perspective. Getting more likes on your page may even actually work against you because I think Facebook is targeting the larger pages to pay for the boosts.  It’s been viewed 2.3 million times (yes, million) and it’s not 10 minutes long. Invest the time to watch his video.

Jon Loomer Responds

Jon provides a well researched and seasoned response to the Facebook Fraud video. And I agree with some of his assertions as well.  He takes the time to work through each example and assertion that is posed in the Facebook Fraud video. And I’ll just tell you, Jon disagrees with the conclusion of the Facebook Fraud video.

Other Voices Share on the Pay to Play Issue

 

Today’s Challenge

Make a decision regarding if you are going to test boosting posts. If you do decide to boost, track the views, time, cost, clicks that end up visiting your website, etc.

Be sure to read the other posts in this series:

Day one:  Know your Audience
Day two:  Know your Competition
Day three:  The Goal of Social Media
Day four:  Turn Off the Autofeeds
Day five:  Methodically Test Your Posts
Day six:  Testing Which Posts Work
Day seven:  Pay to Play
Day eight:  Be Prepared to Change
Day nine:  Start a Group 
Day ten:  Content is King and Social Media His Queen

Be sure to visit the other co-hosts and do their challenges as well!

  • Lisa from Squishable Baby wrote a series on Giveaways
  • Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love wrote a series on Grammar
  • Thaleia from Something 2 Offer wrote a series on Blog Photos and one on Commenting
  • Martiel from Amazing Success Academy wrote a series onSEO and one on Blog Titles and Topics
  • Honey from Honey’s Life wrote a series on Twitter

Until next time…

Testing Which Posts Work on Facebook – Boost your Blog BB#100

I’d like to share a thought before we get to the type of posts you might want to explore. Remember we are trying to get to know our audience. Our Facebook audience may not be the same (and probably isn’t) as your blog’s audience nor the other social media platforms. Each platform brings its own unique audience. Each can drive traffic to your website and encourage growth on that specific social media platform. But, again, each are unique animals. In order to know what works, you must start testing which posts work and which ones don’t and you must test them For Each Platform. Remember, I am only really focusing on Facebook, so my suggestions and ideas will not necessarily work for Google+ or Twitter. But the concept of testing will. Now, back to your regularly scheduled article about boosting your blog via Facebook….

Boost your Blog BB#100

I keep talking about “types of posts”, what do I mean? Well there are several different “flavors” of posts.  A good variety of all of these posts would be smart, but some will resonate more with your audience than others. How do we know which ones will work better… yep, you guessed it… testing them! 🙂 

Challenge: Test Which Posts Work best for YOUR Audience.

1. Easy to answer Questions.

These are designed to get your audience talking. I honestly HATE stupid questions, so I rarely ask the easy ones… but I do ask who their day is going, what’s for dinner (usually when I’m hungry), what they are doing at various times of the day, what field trips they are doing this week, etc.

2. Crowd-sourcing Questions.

For our Facebook page, we get a TON of questions from homeschoolers (and potential homeschoolers). Instead of answering them ourselves, we pose them to our audience. Homeschool moms love to help each other and all of us have opinions, so these questions usually get a ton of engagement. One thing I personally need to get better about is engaging among the answers. It is so easy to just post the question and move on… but honestly, we need to be involved. We need to know our page is not being used for inappropriate content, spam, and not the least of which… unpaid advertisements. So, this is one of my goals this year: to stay more involved once the question is posed and our moms are answering it.

3. Links to your blog.

Again, it would be easy to just post the link and the title and move on. But what I’m finding is that this is not going to get much engagement usually. We try really hard to not have exotic titles on our posts… but we can certainly use them on Facebook to pique interest. We are testing everything right now, so test what gets the best audience participation. Don’t forget to drive traffic to your website by providing blog posts to answer some of these questions.

4. Pictures.

For our page, funny pictures by far are the most shared posts. Usually something that not only homeschool moms, but moms in general identify with. But the posts that get the most conversation going are personal pictures of our team when they are doing the social media that day. Real life homeschooling in action. Share some of who you are and what your page is about… genuine and real-life items are loved by our followers. See if that works for you.

5. Links to Other Articles.

Be a good steward of information. Yes, your audience likes you and what you are doing… but, as good as you are, there are others pages that have great information… why not share their articles too? I think we all need to stop being so competitive and start working together to help each other. I am the epitome of a Type A competitive personality so I understand how hard that is… but turn that competitiveness on yourself.  Try to beat your numbers for last month, your numbers of page views, your newsletter subscribers, etc. It will benefit all of us in the long run if we develop cooperative relationships and help our audience be more successful.

6. Quotes by Leaders in Your Field.

These can be either pictures or just the quote typed in as a status. With our audience, these get shared. Especially ones that inspire them, encourage them, challenge them or they identify with. I have a few that I always search for first for education. Again, we are testing everything right now, so see who your audience likes, if they will share quotes from the status or if pictures do better. Being methodical!

7. Videos.

This is another area that I’m not doing a great job of posting. I am posting our Mentoring Moms’ Hangouts each week, but other than that…. not much. So, this is one area we all need to test. Do you use a lot of videos on your page? Share your experiences below!

8. Infographics.

This type of post is one that seems to still be extremely popular.  If you create your own infographics, even better… Our audience loves to see research about how successful (as a whole) homeschooling is when stacked up against about any other form of education. They like to see the demographics in easy to understand grids. They like to see how others are homeschooling. Again, you need to know your own audience to determine if these work for you… but try them and see!

I’m sure there are others that I didn’t think to add. Do you have suggestions that I didn’t include? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

One final note… there is another big question that seems to be asked and answered a lot … How often to post?  I think you are getting my point by now… I can’t answer that for you (nor can anyone else that is not an admin on your site). Each audience is different… even within the same exact demographic and same niche! So, test post frequency to see if your audience engages more or less when you post more often / less often. Again, doing the hard work is the only way to get to the real answer for these questions.

Be sure to read the other posts in this series:

Be sure to visit the other co-hosts and do their challenges as well!

  • Lisa from Squishable Baby wrote a series on Giveaways
  • Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love wrote a series on Grammar
  • Thaleia from Something 2 Offer wrote a series on Blog Photos and one on Commenting
  • Martiel from Amazing Success Academy wrote a series onSEO and one on Blog Titles and Topics
  • Honey from Honey’s Life wrote a series on Twitter

Until next time…

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Just 18 Summers: A Homeschool Mom Reflects on the Time Investment

I just returned from a fantastic conference, it was a conference for Christian Bloggers who also homeschool. I did not get what I was expecting from a blogging conference… NOT at all!  This article, Just 18 Summers: A Homeschool Mom Reflects on the Time Investment, is a direct result of this conference… but it is much more than just an article!

HHM Team 2to1Conf

I had not been feeling well … in the battle to tame my hedges, apparently my boxwoods won because I pulled my back. I had just missed the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati convention was one that, as one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms (HHM), was an opportunity to meet many of our clients and spend time with many of our followers. And I missed THAT one. So not going to a blogging conference would not be a big deal… but it was. It was a very. big. deal. Ten members of the Hip Homeschool Moms’ team were going to be there. I could not miss that opportunity to meet them. And I promise, they did not disappoint! What fantastic, fun-loving, God-filled, and beautiful women they are. I am honored to be on a team with them!

I met so many fantastic women there. Women that I have been rubbing elbows with, bumping into, and seeing around the blogosphere. A few I had just met at Teach Them Diligently in Nashville. That was nice to see some familiar faces that actually knew me as well 🙂 You see, in the blogosphere, it is easy to recognize bloggers you have followed, but most of them don’t know you or realize you even follow them (especially the bigger bloggers).

Heidi Ciravola hosted the Mentoring Moms show with me right after we returned from Chicago. We were talking in the “green room” about what we took away from the conference. Ironically, nothing either one of us mentioned was about blogging… our lists were about parenting, homeschooling and family. Heidi mentioned a book she is reviewing that she finished on her way to the conference and how it really touched her deeply. I haven’t read the book yet (but I can assure you, I will), but the title really summarizes what I took away from the conference. Where I am and what I am feeling about our lives, our homeschool, our family,  and our focus… the title of the book is “Just 18 Summers“.

Just 18 summersWhat does that title say to me?

Just 18 Summers…

to guide our children to be strong, faith-filled young men. Men whose walk clearly exemplifies that they live for Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name). Men who understand their role in their family, community and world. Men who understand their role as change agents for this Godless world we live in. Not by preaching beautiful words (that so often ring hollow today), but just by their daily life speaking to those around them that they live for our Messiah… and without one word being spoken others can recognize it.

Just 18 Summers…

to help them find their passions, their inspirations, their talents. To help them explore what they want to do in life. What talents they have and what those talents naturally lead to career-wise. I have always believed if you love what you do, it will never feel like work. I want my children to not only understand that, but to live it.

Just 18 Summers…

to show them how to learn and that it is a life-long endeavor. Yes, there are subjects that they have to learn and will, but what is the rush? We have been on the dual-enrollment, clep out of college classes route and I suddenly wondered why. Why are we in such a rush? Who developed this timeline? I am really rethinking everything about how we homeschool.

Just 18 Summers…

to show them what a healthy family looks like. Balanced. Focused. Loving. Where Mom and Dad work through problems instead of ignoring them. A family where struggles bring the family closer to each other and God. A family where we always have each other’s back. A family that doesn’t tear down. A family that is a role model for their future family. Am I demonstrating the type of woman I want them to seek for a wife? Is my husband modeling the role of Dad and husband he wants them to mimic?

As you see… big questions arose from my weekend in Chicago.  If we only have Just 18 Summers (and that is something else I am challenging… why is our society driving children to leave at 18), do I want that time to be only focused on homeschool? Yes, homeschool is a lifestyle. But everything we do does not have to be a lesson. I. KNOW. THIS.

What am I doing?

How am I investing this precious time?

It’s time to reevaluate our lifestyle and throw out the clutter. Literally and figuratively.

This is the beginning of a journey … a journey of downsizing, realigning and refocus. I’ll be sharing this journey as we live it.  One of the presentations I attended at 2to1 was Linda Delfino‘s and she spoke about blogging as a ministry.  Linda encouraged us to write that post that we didn’t want to write because chances are it will minister to someone.  I’m doing just that… except it won’t fit in one post, so it will be a new series on Live and Learn Farm… Just 18 Summers.

Photo Credit: http://seejamieblog.com/

A blogging conference? Don’t let it fool you! It’s a homeschool moms’ renewal retreat that masquerades as a blogging conference! I never expected that. It wears the mask well. Yes, there were blogging presentations and I actually learned a lot from them. But all that pales in comparison to what I brought home that will change how I parent, how I homeschool and how I honor my husband.

Thanks Cheryl… A job well done!

Next year the conference will be in Kitty Hawk, NC. I’m from the coast of NC. Good Lord Willing… I’ll be there!

2to1 Kitty Hawk

Methodically Test your Posts on Facebook – Boost your Blog BB#100

You already know I can be a bit OCD when it comes to tracking and numbers, so do this challenge at whatever level feels appropriate for you. You also know I am a bit miffed with Facebook right now. So, I have to tell you this because I am constantly telling myself this. Take your focus off Facebook’s changes and focus on your audience. It will do us no good to be angry with Facebook… they don’t care. They are a business and are treating us as such. We knew all along that “we” (the members) were the “product” on Facebook. So why are we surprised that they are charging us now?  We need to focus on what is working… and we need to be very organized in how we approach it.

Boost your Blog BB#100

Challenge: Methodically Test your Posts on Facebook

The goal is to take the numbers we already have and put the data to the test. We want to try different types of updates. Be methodical. Treat this like a scientific study and really track what you are doing. Try a status update at different times of the day. A post with a picture added; a post with a link added; a post with both; a post with the link in the comments… you get the picture. But keep track of when you are doing what. What gets the most engagement and then look to see what gets the most reach.  Does the reach continue to grow throughout the day on those posts?  Be sure to try different types at different times of day.

If you really want to get even more out of this study, read Best Social Media Metrics: Conversation, Amplification, Applause, Economic Value. Not only do they track their posts (on many platforms) very methodically, they also assign a dollar value to the engagement that is received. Fascinating! I’ll admit, I haven’t gone here yet… but will (eventually)! 🙂

So, are you getting anything out of these Facebook challenges? Are you feeling like they are worth your time? Please leave me comments below to let me know your thoughts about how I’m doing. Blogging can be a lonely business, you know? Of course you know, you are bloggers after all! 🙂

Be sure to read the other posts in this series:

Be sure to visit the other co-hosts and do their challenges as well!

  • Lisa from Squishable Baby wrote a series on Giveaways
  • Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love wrote a series on Grammar
  • Thaleia from Something 2 Offer wrote a series on Blog Photos and one on Commenting
  • Martiel from Amazing Success Academy wrote a series onSEO and one on Blog Titles and Topics
  • Honey from Honey’s Life wrote a series on Twitter

Until next time….

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