Homeschooling with cancer: Don’t sweat it

Hair after chemo

Me with my hair growing back

Homeschooling with cancer is tough. This year I have a high school senior that must get ready for college. Unfortunately for him, most of my attention over the past year has been on my health. I’ve been through a mastectomy, chemo, tissue expander and now revision surgery to remove the expander and swap it out with a breast implant. The other side got a lift and an implant so now I have “symmetry.”


I haven’t posted in a long while and for that I apologize. Once again surgery knocked me on my ass–I think that age is catching up with me. It is three weeks out and I am still in pain and still don’t have my energy back.


Homeschooling my two kids is difficult but I would never put them back into a traditional school, especially now that I am dealing with cancer. I don’t need the added stress of nosy school officials and teachers sticking their noses into places they don’t belong. My health is my business and what I share about it is on my terms. I don’t need or want the school’s psychology department getting to my kids to help them cope.


Unfortunately for my high school senior, I have spent more time with my cancer than I have getting him ready for college. This has to change so, I am biting the bullet and getting him ready. We need to get him his drivers license ASAP and we need to get him ready for the COMPASS exam which he can take anytime.


The decision not to take the SAT or ACT was not entered into lightly. The community college has the best rates per credit hour and we do not qualify for government aid. There is no reason for him or I to go into thousands of dollars in debt to send him to college. We can manage the costs of the community college. Once he gets his associated degree we will see what options he has.


My other son is in the 7th grade. We are moving along slowly, but again it has a lot to do with my energy levels and overall well being. I am thankful for our homeschool co-op, it helps to have a day off and I know he is learning a lot.


Today is park day so I am off to the park with my youngest son and the Nerf guns. Breast cancer has taught me not to sweat the small stuff and even the not-so-small stuff. In the big picture my kids will learn what they need to know, the older one will get to college and I will kick cancer’s ass, although I may lose an occasional battle due to treatment side effects. Every day that I wake up is a good day, if things get better then I have an awesome day.

Posted on 19 October '12 by , under Cancer and homeschool. No Comments.

Review: Knowledge Box Central Presidential Election Process Lapbook

The Library of Congress - (Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President. Seated portrait, holding glasses and newspaper, Aug. 9, 1863) (LOC)I’ve changed the way we are doing homeschool radically this year. This is due in part, to my battle with breast cancer. Knowledge Box Central is a company that has reasonably priced, high quality lapbooks for sale. My 12th grader turns 18 in September and will be able to vote in the Presidential election this November. Our family turned to the Presidential Election Process Lapbook  for learning about this important event.


What I liked

The lapbook is inexpensive. At just $5.00 for the e-book version, you can’t go wrong. I like the pdf format–if you make a mistake, just print out another page. The lapbook comes complete with enough information for lessons on the election process. The instructions are easy to follow, even if you are challenged in the crafting department. We used the grades 6 through 12 version.


What needs improvement

I would like to see better references included in the information. As a professional researcher and writer, Wikipedia is not considered a reliable or first-hand source. A better reference for the election process is the actual U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights which is found at the National Archives website. We used this as our source instead of the Wikipedia references included with the lapbook.


What my kids think

I used the Presidential Election Process lapbook with my 7th and 12th grade boys. They were engaged and had a great time researching the answers to the questions for the lapbook. My kids had a blast putting the lapbook together. It is not easy to please both boys with the same curriculum, and the Presidential Election Process lapbook was a definite hit. I plan to use other lapbooks from Knowledge Box Central.


Would I recommend it

I was extremely satisfied with the price, value, and content of the lapbook. The e-book format gives you flexibility to use it with multiple children without having to make another purchase. You can incorporate the lapbook into any style of homeschooling, including Charlotte Mason a traditional school approach and unschooling.


We added copywork and dictation to the lapbook to create an entire cross-curricular discipline on the election process and the U.S. Government. I highly recommend this lapbook, especially since this is a year when we elect a new president.


If you use this or any other Knowledge Box lapbooks, drop me a line and let me know. Thanks.



Posted on 7 August '12 by , under Government Lesson Plans, Homeschooling through high school, Reviews. No Comments.

Homeschoolers can play on public school teams says AAA

Lions vs Sabres IFL 28.11.2008 03Home_School_Eligibility

Finally, homeschoolers will be allowed to play on public school teams. The Arkansas Activities Association voted to allow homeschooled kids to play on public school athletic teams starting with the 2013-2014 school year. There are conditions that must be met, but this is a huge step in the right direction.

The AAA made this decision without legislation from the State of Arkansas. Some of the stipulations include that athletes must submit paperwork by July 1, 2013 to be eligible to play for a team in the 2013-2014 school year. Approval is at the sole discretion of the local Superintendent of Schools. Homeschooled athletes must apply at what would be their local school. They may not apply to a school that they would not normally attend. Homeschool athletes are subject to proof that they are performing at or above the grade-level for their age. Proof will be standardized testing, ACT or SAT-10 scores.

The vote allows homeschoolers to try out for a team. This rule does not guarantee that a homeschooled student will make the team. I am glad to see that the AAA is finally making strides to give homeschooled students a chance to play competitive sports.


I’m smiling after hearing this news, how about you?


Posted on 2 August '12 by , under Homeschool Politics, News. No Comments.

Writing Professionally Changed How I View Language Arts

When I look back on the first pieces I published, they read like a high school essay. I always thought my writing was good. Every English teacher I had gave me an A on my writing assignments–even in college. It wasn’t until I started writing professionally that I realized everything I was taught, was wrong.


Writing is not about spewing forth what you think the teacher wants to see in an assignment. I always did this, I put forth beautifully written essays that said nothing, showed no voice. All my essays proved was that I could write an essay that conformed perfectly to the rules of essay writing and that I was really good at knowing what the teacher wanted to read. This is not good writing, it is good structural format and the writing was excruciatingly boring. There was no voice. It was mechanical.


Working professionally, I learned that in order for writing to be good–it needs a voice. In traditional schools and language arts programs, nothing is done to help young writers find their voice. All the writing prompts in the world will not get you there, voice comes with experience, and experience comes from writing–lots of writing.


How do you get kids to write? Mine hate it, many of yours probably do too. The best thing you can do to get your kids writing is to back off. Forget grammar, sentence structure and spelling. Forget about the rewrite. Set aside time every week or several days a week for them to write in a journal. The only rule is that they have to write at least one sentence worth of words. The other rule is–you cannot look at it if they do not want you to see it. Respect that, eventually it will change.


When you give a writing assignment, place the heaviest emphasis on voice. You want to know why your child feels the way they do about the subject. You cannot teach feeling and voice, you have to coax it out of them. If you ask them to write about a passage they have read and they say, “it was dumb.” Go with that, tell them you respect their opinion but you want to know why it was dumb, boring, stupid, or “I hated it.” What exactly made your child feel that way. If you get something positive–great. You have a lot to work with. Ask your child what excited you, how did it impact you, what was it that made it so interesting.


Good writing is about voice, feelings, and being able to convey that emotion to the reader. Encourage your child to write from the heart. When this is accomplished, their writing skills will soar.



Posted on 22 July '12 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Homeschooling 101, Homeschooling through high school. No Comments.

Planning for Fall 2012

This coming homeschool year will be a challenge for me. I am still undergoing treatment for breast cancer and I have to allow travel for treatment into my homeschool planning. I have started planning for fall 2012 because it is going to take a lot of work and organization on my part to keep everything under control. My biggest challenge for this year is budgeting time and money. For the 2012-2013 school year, I am homeschooling a high school senior and a 7th grader.

High School

Ideally, I would like to dual enroll my high school student in the local community college. There are fees and costs associated with this and I am not sure that I can afford it. Student loans are not available for high school seniors. Scholarships for high school students do not exist. It is already a struggle for me to make ends meet, I will have to see what I can do. Looks like I will need to find more writing clients so I can swing this expense.

I was a slacker this past year with record keeping and it is going to take a lot of work to get the high school transcripts in order. My breast cancer surgeries and chemo took up the better part of this past school year. It is crunch time. I plan to get the transcripts in order prior to starting school officially in July.

My final challenge with my high school student is to get him ready to take the ACT in the fall. He is almost ready, but there is still work that needs to be done.

7th Grade

Planning for the 7th grade for 2012-2013 is another challenge. I will be using lots of free curriculum, Hippo Campus is a great resource. The Home School Buyers Co-op is another resource for free curriculum. We are focusing on getting ready for high school and preparing for college. Homeschooling has taught me that I need to start preparing in middle school for college. Keeping records begins now.


Keeping to a strict time and financial budget is a must for me. Planning for the fall will require me to balance writing full-time, cancer treatment, and homeschooling full-time. Without a decent planner, I would be lost. My first goal was to go over the household expenses and come up with a budget. That was an eye-opener. With the financial budget in place, I have to work on a time budget.

Time is a commodity that seems to slip away. I know that I will be driving to and from the homeschool co-op and performances at the Walton Arts Center. My cancer treatments, once every three weeks, are two hours away. On treatment days, I cannot work and I am not there to supervise home school. Careful planning is required on my part to keep everything on track.

This year I will need to replace my car and a couple of computers. Right now, this is not in the budget, so I will have to hold several garage sales and keep things very tight in order to find money for this. I do not do car loans, anything I buy will be for cash. There is a lot of freedom in not being a slave to a car payment.

I expect to have all of the planning for fall done by the end of this month. We start homeschooling again in mid-July. With all of my planning, I expect this coming school year to go a lot smoother than years past.



Posted on 20 June '12 by , under Cancer and homeschool, Homeschooling through high school. No Comments.

Free Fishing this Weekend: June 8-10

Love to go fishing? Hate the hassle of getting a fishing license? This upcoming weekend is what you are looking for. Each year the State of Arkansas has a free fishing weekend. From June 8 through June 10, 2012, you can fish anywhere in the state without a fishing license. All other fishing rules apply, including size and other limits. The best part about this weekend is that the local fish hatcheries are holding fishing derbies for kids under the age of 12. All you need to bring is a rod and reel, or fishing pole. The lakes are stocked with catchable fish.

Free Fishing Weekend

Beginning at noon, Friday, June 8 until midnight, Sunday, June 10, residents and nonresidents may fish without fishing licenses or trout permits. Regulations for Arkansas waters apply: daily limits, slot limits and length limits must be observed. Anyone can fish, anywhere fishing is permitted.

Kids Fishing Derby

Kids’ Fishing Day at Arkansas Game and Fish, fish hatcheries is this Saturday, June 9 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
The derby is for kids 12 and younger. Each pond is stocked with catchable fish. Kids will need to bring fishing tackle and bait. A Limit of three fish per child is in place so everyone has a chance to catch a fish. One rod or pole per child is permitted.

Kids Fishing Day Locations

Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery
23 Joe Hogan Lane | Lonoke 877-676-6963

C.B. Craig State Fish Hatchery
977 West Fish Hatchery Road | Centerton 877-795-2470

Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery
350 Fish Hatchery Road | Hot Springs 877-525-8606

William Donham State Fish Hatchery
3587 U.S. Hwy. 67 West | Corning 877-857-3876

Jim Hinkle/Spring River State Fish Hatchery
895 Ark. Hwy. 342 | Mammoth Spring 877-625-7521

Checkout the AFGC Fishing Guidebook for great information about fishing in Arkansas.


Posted on 5 June '12 by , under Events, Freebies, Great Field Trips, Thrifty Homeschooling. No Comments.

Testing Packets Go Out January 9, 2012

The Arkansas Home School Testing Department is mailing out registration packets to homeschool families starting on January 9, 2012. If you registered as a homeschool prior to December 15, 2011, your packet is in the January 9th mailing. If you started homeschooling after December 15th, your packet will be mailed as soon as the testing office receives your information.

Who has to test?

Any child in grades 3 through 9 is required to take an annual standardized test. If you are a registered homeschooler in Arkansas, you will receive a testing packet in the mail. Packets are mailed to families with children withing the mandatory testing grades. Once you get the packet, you can register for testing.

What are my testing options?

You have the choice of taking the test at a state sponsored location. This option is free, but once you register for a specific location it cannot be changed. If you miss the test, the testing office will contact you. If you skip out on the testing, you can be facing truancy charges.

Another option is to test with a certified homeschool group. This option is also free and the consequences for not testing are the same.

The third option is to test privately. You pay to obtain the test and you are responsible for administering it properly. There are several companies that offer testing. To use this option, a copy of your paid invoice must be submitted to the testing office. This option gives you the most flexibility and if you kids is sick on the scheduled date, you can put off the test for a day or two without any negative consequences.

Kids with special needs

You can request that your child be excused from testing. Proof  of a disability or other issues must be submitted to the testing office. You will need a physicians report or other official report to back up your request.


Public School Online

If you are using an online charter school such as ARVA or Lincoln ACE, the school will provide the required testing. Students in these programs do not have the option of testing with homeschoolers and they do not have the option to test privately. Testing packets will not be mailed to parents if their children are enrolled in one of the online charter schools.

For more information, contact the Arkansas Testing Department.

Posted on 7 January '12 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Homeschooling 101, Testing. No Comments.

New Amazon Store for Arkansas Homeschoolers

I am beginning to be overrun with homeschool books. I have tons of  Usborne and other educational books that my kids have outgrown. If you are looking for good deals on gently used or new books, check out my Store. I have books and DVDs that are ready to ship. Thrifty homeschoolers know that you should never pay full retail for anything. This helps me out by freeing up space in my house and putting a few extra dollars in my pocket. The store helps out homeschoolers by offering quality books and DVDs at discount pricing.

If you live near me, I have boxes upon boxes of books that will be sold at a garage sale next weekend. Anything that does not sell at the garage sale will be listed on my Amazon store.

Check out the store and see if there is something you can use. Feel free to email me with any questions. Thanks.


Posted on 4 September '11 by , under News, Thrifty Homeschooling. 2 Comments.

Notice of Intent and Waiver forms due on Monday, August 15th

Reminder to all homeschool parents in Arkansas. You must file a Notice of Intent and a Waiver form with your local superintendent’s office no later than Monday, August 15th if you want to be in compliance with the homeschool law.  There is a link to the forms on the right-hand side of the screen.

For first-time homeschoolers – the law states that you must hand deliver the forms to your local superintendent on or before August 15th. You do not have to discuss what is on the form with any employee at the office, but the form must be hand delivered.

Student Drivers – if your child is at least 14 years old and you plan on allowing them to drive, make a copy of your Notice of Intent and Waiver forms. There is a section at the bottom that must be filled out and notarized. Leave that bottom section blank until you are ready to take the permit test or road test. Before heading over to DMV, fill out the bottom of the form and get it notarized. Do not send a notarized copy to the school superintendent’s office, it is not necessary.

Other considerations – if you have moved into Arkansas from another state during the month of August, or if you have moved and your local school district has changed during the month of August, you have 30 days to notify the local school district’s superintendent office of your intent to homeschool.  The law states as follows:

 "Within thirty (30) calendar days of establishing residency within the district, parents or
guardians moving into the school district during the school year must give written notice to the
superintendent of their local school district of their intent to provide a home school for their children
and sign a waiver acknowledging that the State of Arkansas is not liable for the education of their
children during the time that the parents choose to home school."

Hope you found this helpful.


Posted on 8 August '11 by , under Arkansas homeschool requirements, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Review of The Well Planned Day Daily Planner

Every homeschooler needs a planner. Without one, it would be impossible to keep up with everything that needs to be done in a day. I need a planner or calender in order to organize my life. In my world, if something is not on the calender, it does not exist. It has taken me a long time and lots of trial and error to finally find a planner that is almost perfect for me. The Well Planned Day daily planner has everything I want in a planner with a price that is reasonable, that is why I decided to purchase one as my planner for the upcoming year.

Prior to using the Well Planned Day, I had a calender for all events and a separate schedule for homeschool lessons. This can become an issue when a field trip or 4H activity conflicts with the homeschooling. I would have to go back to my lesson planner and change it to match my calender. This is way too much work for me.

The Well Planned Day offers me an all-in-one planner. It has a place to write in everything for the month and it has a weekly view. I really like the budgeting features and shopping lists.  A teacher’s planner is included and you can add student schedules for up to 4 children. Having everything in one place works best for me.

Other features of this planner include inspirational articles on homeschooling from the Home School Family Magazine, report cards and progress reports, and the ability to keep track of grades. This is very important for college bound high school and middle school students. You can easily create a transcript if you use this planner to keep track of the grades and credits.

Thrifty homeschoolers will like the price. The Well Planned Day planner in a spiral binding, is $24.95 as of July 2011. A pdf version where you print out the pages you need is available for less. Other options include planners for high school and middle school students and a binder designed to hold more than one planner. The binder will zip closed to keep everything neat.

Christian homeschoolers in Arkansas will enjoy the weekly view which includes a catechism, proof text for memorization and a quote that relates. The Well Planned Day uses the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Overall, I am impressed with The Well Planned Day daily planner. Although there are some features that I will not use, the overall planner is of great value to me and well worth the price. If you decide to purchase one, let me know what you think.




Posted on 18 July '11 by , under Homeschooling 101, Reviews. No Comments.

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