Election Day

As homeschoolers, we often have an extra interest in our elected officials as we hold our freedoms a little dearer than the average American might.

You most likely already know that this coming Tuesday, February 2nd, is election day in Illinois.us flag

You may also have spent some time researching who to vote for, you may have even already voted! Either way, the electoral process is an important one for our kids to understand.

Here are some links to help in talking to or teaching your child about elections and the road to a political seat in our state and country:

– Illinois board of elections

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government offers some lesson ideas for various ages about elections and a variety of other government related topics.

Education World has some election day ideas. Many of these center around the presidential election, but some are applicable to any election.

Also, if you are still researching, some conservative organizations publish survey and voting results for various candidates to help you in this important decision.

– A general listing of who is running along with basic background information from Congress.org
Illinois Federation for Right to Life

Illinois Family Institute


Go Team!

Registration closes on January 31 for the eIditarod.

If you have not followed this amazing race in the past, I would encourage you to do so this year. And, I would encourage you to check out the eIditarod project hosted each year by Walter McKenzie. You simply join  their Yahoo group and follow along at the level that suits you.

They offer projects, lesson ideas, information and encouragement as you mush alongside these amazing men and women in the wilderness of Alaska.

Here are some previous posts of mine, at Delighting In His Richness, about the Iditarod and how we took advantage of the eIditarod project.

Also, be sure to check out the official Iditarod website for more background information on the race, the mushers, and the dogs.

TOS Crew review: Facts First (from Saxon)

Math cannot progress well if we do not have a hold of the basic math functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. However, the drill or repetition required to master these is rarely exciting. Until now.

Facts First offers an affordable, entertaining way for your kids to learn, master, improve, and excel at their basic facts. They want your child to have fun developing an instant recall of these facts, and based on our experience with this program over the last month, they definitely succeed at this goal.

Product: Facts First
Details: A web based math program that was created by Skills Tutor, a sister company to Saxon, and is being distributed by Saxon Homeschool.
Price: $49.95 per year, this includes a one year household license for up to four users.

What we loved . . .


  • Fun, fun, fun— Although entertainment is obviously not my chief goal during math lessons, my kids definitely ALL enjoyed this program. And, since it focuses on building their mastery and speed in basic facts, I don’t mind a little fun in the process. Or, even a lot of fun.
  • Limited game time — While it does reward the hardworking child with games, it limits these to 5 minutes at a time, and even the games often help reinforce their math facts.
  • Tracking progress — You can easily log on and see how each child is doing. These easy to read charts show which facts they have mastered, and gives you an idea of how close they are to mastering other facts they have been working on.
  • Adjustable expectations — I clearly expect my seventh grade to know his facts more quickly than my kindergartner, and Facts First allows for that. You can go into the controls and change the standard for mastery. This alters how fast the program expects an answer, any where from 1/4 of a second to 60 seconds, or even untimed if that works best to motivate your child.
  • Audio! — Even my kindergartner can use this program fairly independently. A voice reads everything that she needs to know in order to continue to improve in her basic math facts
  • Instruction and drill — The program doesn’t just drill the facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), but it also introduces a new fact before drilling it and then adding it to the list of facts they might see in their quizzes.
  • Great graphics — Just take a glance around their site, and you can’t help but enjoying what you see. Colorful, eye-catching, this site is fun to use and fun to explore.

Some considerations . . .

  • Limited in scope. This program is just about basic math facts. These are extremely important to master, but don’t expect something else from this program. It drills and redrills, and encourages kids to improve in their basic math facts.
  • One license for the house. My daughters didn’t like that my son could also look at their accounts and see their mastery grids. Simple solution, I just made other people’s information off limits, but as far as I am aware, there is no setting to prevent this.
  • Still may have too much game time. While I generally felt this offered a good balance of games and instruction, 5 minutes of play for a few minutes of work is still quite a bit. Of course, the games do include further reinforcement.

Facts First has a limited scope, but one critical to your child’s success in math in the years ahead. Especially for multiple children, the cost is reasonable, and since the program is fun and able to be used independently, this is a great way for kids to work on their own and see their mastery grow without groans.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This web based membership was provided to me free of charge from Facts First as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Used Book Sale Season is Coming!

One of the larger homeschool book sales in the Chicago area is set for May 1. These sales offer a great place to pick up gently used curriculum at a fraction of the price of buying new. Also, they welcome sellers, so start clearing out all those books you do not need and make room for the next year’s needs. Mark your calendars now!

Date:      Saturday, May 1, 2010

Time:      8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Location:      Christian Liberty Academy

502 W. Euclid Avenue

Arlington Heights, IL 60004

(847) 259-4444

Free Admissions!

Come, join home school and Christian school parents from throughout northern Illinois as they gather to buy and sell their new and used educational materials and school books. This event offers a wide variety of books at bargain prices, and an opportunity to sell or trade your used school materials. A limited number of display tables will be available free of charge; you are also welcome to bring your own tables. Set up starts at 7:30.

Christian Liberty Press will be selling new CLP-published books at 25% discount. New books from other publishers will also be available for purchase.

The Christian Liberty Academy music department will also have a bake sale to raise funds for their mission trip.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact:

Lina King
Conventions Coordinator
Christian Liberty Press
Christian Liberty Academy School System
502 W. Euclid Avenue
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
(847) 385-2057

Resources from Creation.com

If you are a Christian homeschooler you most likely sense the importance of teaching science from a Creationist perspective. Creation.com has some free resources available for homeschoolers.

You definitely do not want to miss their homeschool corner. Here is a sampling of what you can find on this site:

Free Ebooks:

A Classical Education
A Light Unto My Path
A New Beginning
Career Exploration
Creation Vs Evolution
Don’t Rush God
Fall Harvest
Homeschooling The Rebel 1
Intelligent Design
I Was Raised By Wolves
Lincoln Vs Darwin (with copywork)
Living In A Castle
Missing In Action
Time Flies

Articles in PDF format:

Even if you are not looking for information on teaching Creation, there is clearly a lot of information of benefit to homeschoolers.

Homeschool Quote

“Don’t wish away the season you are in.” ~Marilyn Boyer

Recently I attended ICHE’s mid-winter renewal at which Marilyn Boyer shared from her wisdom and experience from 30 years of homeschooling her 14 children.

She spoke of savoring the season you find yourself in. Whether it is a busy time with little ones, toddlers, and morning sickness, or the sometimes emotional teenage years, or maybe even a combination of the two, these years pass quickly and we need to find joy around us. She even shared about some of those heartbreaking times, like the loss of her teenage son to Leukemia. Even then, she found it important to not just “get by.”

For myself, I often find it easier to find joy in the seasons I already passed through, or I finding myself yearning for a certain phase to pass, I needed this reminder to look around me and enjoy what I have about me right now.

Her tips:

Recognize that God takes us through seasons of life,

Know that some seasons are just more enjoyable than others,

Trust Him through those difficult seasons.

As I considered this quote, I thought of ways to continue to build a joy and contentment in the present season:

  • Step back and look — I enjoy looking with my children through pictures (recent), look for growth in my kids, write down the funny things they say and do, remember who they are and the unique qualities they each bring to your home.
  • Laugh and smile — Yes, sometimes I need to choose to do these things. But, as I make that choice I find my emotions changing for the better as well.
  • Remember that time passes quickly — When I do look back to those baby days, I cannot believe how recent they seem, and yet over a decade has passed since our second child was born. The years ahead will just gain momentum. Whether full of joys or struggles, these days will soon be over.
  • Focus on the positive — Always two sides to the coin. No child, that I know of, is a challenge 24 hours a day. Find the good and choose to dwell on it.
  • Pray — Sometimes I just need a supernatural change of heart. I cannot be the mother I want to be on my own.

Whatever works to restore your joy in the present season you are in, jump on it, and don’t wish these days away.

Facebook fans and discussions

facebook logo

Are you already a fan on Facebook? If you are, then thank you! Glad to have you along.

If not, and you have a Facebook account you will find us there. To become a fan you can click the widget on the sidebar of this page.

Also, the Facebook page offers a place for discussions. A couple questions are already posted there, so hop on over and see if you can offer some help or opinions. And, maybe you have a question of your own.

Homeschooling can be a difficult journey to travel without other homeschoolers to come alongside us as we learn and grow and teach our children. So, please take a few minutes to check out the discussions, contribute an answer or start your own.

Thank you all for stopping in here and on Facebook, and I truly hope this site is a help and encouragement to each one of you.

Also, if you have any suggestions as to how this site could be more useful to you or changed for greater ease of use, I would love to hear your ideas.


Fermi lab open house coming next month

This is open to all families, but registration is required. Feel free to see their website for more information:

Fermilab Family Open House

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2009 Open House such a great success, by helping, getting the word out, or attending! The 2010 Open House will be held on Sunday, February 21 from 1:00 to 5:00 PM.

Every year we have the Fermilab Family Open House.

Register for the Open House (no charge)

This is a party for children who bring an adult with them to learn about the world of physics. (There’s plenty for the grown-ups, too.)

A tentative schedule of events includes:

The Open House will be most appropriate for children in grades 3 and up (tours restricted to adults and children age 10 and up). The event is free, but registration is required. Be sure to sign up for tours. You should pick up the tickets for the tours in the atrium on the day of the event.

Look at pictures from the 2007 (pdf) and 2008 Open Houses.

Fermilab Education Office

Homeschool-dad carpenter available for hire

If you are in the market for a carpenter and would like to patronize a fellow homeschooler, check out the information below, received from Arlene:

Hughes Carpentry and Home Remodeling

Jack Hughes, Owner and Proprietor

Office: 630-584-0925

Cell: 630-849-3801

Email: jhughesremodeling@att.net

Web: www.jackhughesremodeling.com [Note: Check out this website for more information as well. There are pictures of various projects, testimonials, and other details.]

Kid’s Playhouse built in Algonquin by Hughes Carpentry and Home Remodeling

My husband, Jack Hughes, runs a business called Hughes Carpentry and Home Remodeling. He is a journeyman carpenter by trade and has thirty years experience in commercial and residential construction. His business, which focuses on residential remodeling, has been in operation for 6 years, and his services range from completing small handy-man projects to full scale remodeling of kitchens, bathrooms, and basements, the installation of interior/exterior trim, siding, and the building of decks, custom built-ins, and gazebo’s.

Unfortunately, due to economic factors, work has been slow, and my husband is presently in need of jobs.  He has been in construction all his adult life and is very good at what he does. If you have remodeling projects that you are ready to start or have started a project and need help, we would sincerely appreciate your consideration. My husband has garnered high customer satisfaction and can provide you with references. Please contact me for letters of recommendation, or call Jack directly either on his cell at 630-849-3801 or at 630-584-0925 to inquire of his services. Estimates are free. Receive 15% off for the referral of a friend, family member, or business colleague that commits to work.

For the Christmas season, Jack is available to take down Christmas decorations and holiday lights. Please call him to schedule a convenient time.

In addition, we have recently formed a partnership with Becky Dawson of BancGroup Mortgage in a venture called Home Benefit IQ. It gives you access to local mortgage information and discounts from national retailers. There is also a directory of area businesses known for their high quality work and customer service. If you would like to be part of this exclusive group, at no cost to you, please let Jack or me know. We will be happy to refer you to Becky. Becky is also able to help you with a refinance to pay for your home improvements. She has a special program specifically for home renovations.

Thank you,

Arlene Hughes