A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quoting Quotable Quotes & Pondering the Imponderable

This afternoon I heard this quote from Edward R. Murrow (of journalism fame):

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves."

While my favorite quotes are, of course, from God's Word, I found myself thinking about this statement and pondering it's truth. If we all just follow-follow-follow will we end up in an oppressed state?

And being a 13-year homeschool veteran, I of course began to consider Murrow's words in relation to homeschooling. Do I choose my curriculum based on what everyone else says they like best? Or am I continuing to seek out each child's natural bent and teach to it? Are my days numbered by the local school district or are they ordered by the Lord? Am I operating on "auto pilot" or am I walking in God's grace day by day? Am I raising sheep that know the voice of their Shepherd Jesus? Or am I raising sheep who are unable to think for themselves?

That concludes the Quoting Quotable Quotes portion of this weblog on if you are brave enough to Ponder the Imponderable!

While skimming through a book of poems, my daughter's discovered something written by William Carlos Williams. It's title is "The Red Wheelbarrow" and it is as follows:

So much depends upon
A red wheelbarrow
Glazed in rain water
Beside the white chickens

I am sure many of you can broaden my understanding of this poem; it's a type of haiku, etc. But my girls have enjoyed quoting the poem in their most dramatic voices while working hard to keep straight faces ~ and it now has a prominent position on our homeschool whiteboard along with a drawing of one red wheelbarrow and one white chicken!

And whether you love poetry or hate it, you can probably agree that thinking too long on this particular poem is akin to pondering the imponderable.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving 2010 tomorrow & may the Lord's richest blessings be yours as we prepare to celebrate the Advent of our Savior!

Day 57 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Saturday, November 20, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew Review - Illuminations ~ Year One High School (Bright Ideas Press)

This product review cannot possibly be lengthy enough to cover all that is provided in the Bright Idea Press product Illuminations (Year One ~ high school). It is an all-inclusive curriculum based on the Mystery of History and All American History series. Mystery of History serves as the spine for Illuminations (Year One ~ high school) and includes bible, language arts (grammar, writing, vocabulary), literature, science, humanities (poetry, theater, music, art), geography, history, and life skills. Yes, I meant it when I said it is an all-inclusive curriculum! Add some math and you should be ready to go :)

Some curriculum items you will probably need to go with Illuminations (Year One ~ high school) include Winston Grammar (which I absolutely love!), Mystery of History Volume 1, English from the Roots Up, WriteShop 1, the Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide, Ruth Beechick's "Genesis: Finding Our Roots", A Young Scholar's Guide to the Humanities, Joshua Harris's book "Boy Meets Girl", Precepts: Covenant,"Discovering God's Way of Handling Money" from Crown Financial Ministries, Homer's Iliad, The Phantom Tollbooth, Josh McDowell's "More Than a Carpenter", Plato's "Trial of Socrates", and reading by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Sophocles and Aristotle, and a copy of the Bible. Many of these items can be found used in good condition at places like and for very reasonable prices.

The product I received at no cost for review purposes was the download version of Illuminations (Year One ~ high school). Other products available from Bright Idea Press include:

Illuminations (Year Two ~ High School)
Illuminations (Year Three - High School)
Illuminations (3rd - 8th grade ~ Year One)
Illuminations (3rd - 8th grade ~ Year Two)

The lesson plans include flexible lesson templates that allow "the Mom" to pick the elements of the curriculum to use for her family's unique needs. There are also yahoo groups available so that you can communicate with other Illuminations users. The download version has a contact page with links to the company so that you can contact them quickly and easily with any questions.

The User Guide has a tutorial that explains how to use the curriculum. In the "Quick Start" section you a 5-page introduction, a book and program checklist, instructions, and a literature evaluation form. The "By Subject" section allows the user to find information by subject (Bible, Literature, WriteShop1, English from the Roots Up, Geography, LIFE101, Supplemental, & Graphic Organizers). Under the "By Date" tab information is divided into 36 weekly segments; there are also some Blank Schedule Grids for moms who prefer to adapt the lesson plans to better suit their family's needs. "Contact Info/License" gives the user to license their product, contact the company, or browse through the catalog.

Some of my favorite features include the option to change the lesson plans prior to printing them out. What a blessing for an "eclectic" homeschooling mother like myself! No scratched-out, messy papers; instead, neatly done lesson plans with my additions included. In the "Weekly Schedules" there is a place to put notes - another great option that allows the busy homeschooling mom to keep her notes all in the same place. I also love the fact that I can choose to use 4 or 5 day a week lesson plans. Having Fridays "off", so to speak, allows the students time to catch up and may even give mom a few minutes to relax. Not every subject is taught every day - so breathe a sigh of relief if you felt overwhelmed reading over the curriculum list covered by this product.

The cost of Illuminations (Year One ~ high school) and Illuminations (Year Two ~ high school) are $95 for a complete download, $115 for the cd rom, or $47.50 for a single semester download. The cost of Illuminations (Year Three ~ high school) is $240 for the full year download or $120 for a single semester download. (See the website at to learn more & to see about the high school level products coming out in late January 2011.)

Having said all of the above, I would like to finish this review with a sincere THANK YOU to Bright Ideas Press for allowing me to review this product. It is something I have looked at many times over the years but never quite got around to purchasing - primarily because I was afraid I might not be able to adequately use the curriculum. I was glad to find out that not only is this product easy to use, it's also easy to adapt and makes excellent use of some of my favorite homeschooling products. It has been a delight to use and I look forward to using more of Bright Ideas products in the future. It is everything I hoped it would be and then some.

Happy homeschooling everyone & have a blessed Thanksgiving this week!

Day 56 done :)

Jan L. Burt

November is National Diabetes Month

Last spring, I took a drive across town to talk with my doctor(a wonderful DO named Claudia Wendell) about my health. I had begun to feel "icky" on an almost daily basis; chronic headaches, afternoon tiredness, shakiness and cold sweats ~ I could go on and on. I did not feel that these were related to my hypothyroidism, and having an older sister with Type 1 diabetes, I was confident my blood glucose levels were spiking and dropping.

After a couple of four hour blood tests it was confirmed that I was on my way to Type 2 diabetes. But all was not lost ~ I knew the Lord was giving me a blessed opportunity and I decided to stick to Him like glue day by day as I worked to "reverse" my pre-diabetic state. And guess what? In late July Dr. Wendell informed me that I am not a pre-diabetic and if I continue to make wise choices regarding my health and specifically what I eat, I will never become a diabetic. No surprise at all, God delivered when I fully gave my health and my heart to Him.

Dr. Wendell has called me her "poster child" and has told me that many of her patients aren't even willing to check their blood glucose levels on a regular basis, let alone make any concrete changes. That amazes me! As I sat in her office hearing her tell me that I would be a diabetic within a year if not sooner, I knew I had the option to yield to the Lord and seek His help, or to drive on as if nothing at all were wrong. But I also knew that if I chose the later, I would be forfeiting His grace in this area. I would be choosing to behave like Jonah, running away instead of trusting God even when it was downright scary. Jonah wrote these words: "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." (Jonah 2:8)

I'm no poster child; I'm a child of God who has chosen not to forfeit the grace He has for me. I chose to follow hard after Him and leave all those worthless idols lying in the dust behind me. Trust me when I tell you that I am not a woman with amazing self-control. This is all thanks to the Lord - losing 40 pounds, reversing my pre-diabetic state, not touching sweets for months (even on our vacation to Florida I ate healthy or not at all). Every single aspect of this is from the Lord's hand, and since November is a National Diabetes Month as well as the month to pause and give thanks to the Lord, I would like to say how thankful I am to the Lord God Almighty for delivering me from a diabetic future and bringing me into a good and plentiful land of good health.

For every day that I don't endure headaches and dropping blood sugar, I am thankful. For every time I say, "No, thanks" when offered delicious desserts, I am thankful. For the promise of my vision not being lost to diabetes, I am thankful. I have my health restored, hope for a better future than I could have dreamed of, and more energy to enjoy my life than I've had in years. God is good and worthy to be praised.

If you would like information on Type 2 diabetes, and specifically how to prevent it, feel free to contact me. And if you'd like more information on how to grow in your trust in the Lord who has delivered me from Type 2 diabetes, open your Bible and soak in His Word. He is no respecter of persons; if He will deliver me from my problems, He will also deliver you from yours!

Day 55 done :)

Giving thanks as I raise diabetes awareness,
Jan L. Burt

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Special Offer

Okay, TOS Magazine is having a special sale on subscriptions. All the info you need to check into the offer can be found below.

Happy homeschool shopping everyone!

Day 54 done :)

Jan L. Burt

On Monday, November 15, the price for a one-year U.S. or Canadian print
subscription to
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is $10.

On Tuesday, November 16, the price goes to $12.
On Wednesday, November 17, the price is $14.

Each day they will add $2 until Saturday and Sunday, when the price is $20. At
midnight PST on Sunday, November 21,
the price goes back to its regular level.

Plus, every 12th customer to purchase a subscription gets a tote bag.
Every 14th customer to purchase a subscription gets a copy of the E-Book: The
2010-2011 Schoolhouse Planner.
Every 16th customer to purchase a subscription gets a $25 gift card to the
Totally TOS category in the Schoolhouse Store.
This excludes Molly Green and Download N Go.

As an added bonus, the highest ticket of the day on Monday, November 15 through
Wednesday, November 17, will win
a $200 gift card to the Schoolhouse Store. This can be used for any company in
the Store,except
Download N Go.

So, put 2 and 2 together and shop early! The earlier you grab your one-year new
or renewing
subscription, the better the price you'll pay. Plus, you could receive one of
the bonus gifts.
Or, you might be the highest ticket of the day!

If you are eligible for a bonus gift, you will receive an email from a member of
the Schoolhouse Store team.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Train Up a Child in the Way (S)He Should Go?

When Proverbs instructs parents to train up their children in the way they should go, we of course know it is speaking primarily in spiritual terms. Without the "One Thing" in life, none of the "Other Things" in life really matter. That "One Thing" being knowing Jesus and making Him known.

In regards to training my daughter's to be keepers at home, I use this verse to spur me on as I flesh out that training. Sometimes it's much easier to just do the work myself; other times I'm simply so busy with academics and life in general that I fail to plan out how I will implement the training of my daughters. And as all homeschool moms know first hand, what we fail to plan almost always fails to happen. So I'm currently working on being a more active planner!!

Today, for instance, isn't just about Saturday chores. It's about the bigger picture ~ one day each of my 4 daughter's will be running a household of their own, Lord willing (see James 4:13-14). Rather than just having Saturday-chores-as-usual, we are learning how to manage homes in preparation for the future. Sure, it takes more work on my part, but isn't this the work He has called me to? What better use of my time could there be than working as unto the Lord in training up my daughter's in the way they should go, and honoring my husband and his wishes for our girls in the process?

I'm going to thoroughly enjoy my Saturday as I focus on the Lord and enjoy the blessing and responsibility of training up 4 young ladies to be fit for service in the Kingdom of God. Oh, and don't worry...I haven't forgotten my son! He has already been busy this morning checking the pressure on all my tires and using the air compressor to fill them to pressurize them correctly. After he finishes coaching Learn to Skate at the ice rink this morning, he will come home to do his household chore for today, study for his SAT II subject tests, and swap out the water in his '79 Camaro's radiator for 1/2 water, 1/2 anti-freeze. My husband may even have some additional "Manly Training" for him this weekend ~ and next week he turns 18, so I guess he ought to be fully trained in manliness by now, right?!

Lord bless your Saturday!

Day 53 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine FREEBIE

Below is the link to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's digital Holiday 2010 edition. Full of fun Christmas "stuff" - download it for free here: TOS Holiday 2010 Digital Edition

Enjoy this freebie to kick off the holiday season!

Day 52 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew Review The Write Foundation ~ Essay Writing

The Write Foudation has a dedicated focus on improving the writing of young people. This Christian company works toward that goal with a series of products that are thorough and exhaustive. Luke 6:48 is beautifully displayed at and I will tell you that I do have a bias toward Christian homeschool companies!

The Write Foundation offers three levels of writing curriculum. Level 1 is "Sentence to Paragraph Writing" geared at ages 11 to 13. Level 2 is "Paragraph Writing" for ages 12 to 15. And Level 3, the product I am reviewing, is "Essay Writing" for ages 14 to 17. You can see all of these products and their prices at the website ~ The website gives a thorough understanding of which level to use with your child or children. The ages for each level are suggestions, and information regarding proper placement can be found at the website by clicking the "Suggested Ages" tab.

I have been using Level 3 - Essay Writing Instructions (lessons 1-15). When I received this product (free of charge for review purposes) it came with a spiral bound Instruction Guide (the teacher's guide) and all of the coresponding worksheets for the student, 3-hole punched and ready to place in a binder. I also received several pdf files emailed to me; these are normally sent to the customer on a cd. (For review purposes it made more sense for this company to email them to the reviewers.) Included on the cd are: Grading System, Grading Record Sheets, Word Games, Checklists, Teacher Presentation Sheets, Weekly Assignments, and an Extensive Reading List. The cost of the package I received is $65, and as you can well see, the customer gets a whole lot of product for their money! Also available is the complete set of 30 essay lessons for $100. You can also purchase additional sets of the consumable student worksheets. They accept PayPal for payment using your checking account information; if you order using a credit card via PayPal you do not need to sign up for a PayPal account.

As I just mentioned, this product came with a LOT of resources; it is very thorough and in a homeschool co-op class, this particular product stands out as an ideal way to teach essay writing. You could even "tag-team teach" with another mom! Using it at home, however, might seem a little intimidating to some homeschooling mothers. Many of us are teaching multiple grades on a daily basis, and we don't always have enough planning time available in our 24-hour days to fully utilize all a product has to offer. If you are a homeschool mom who falls into that category, as I am, I would encourage you to choose carefully when it comes to key subjects like teaching writing. This is a subject your child will use in their daily life as an adult, not matter where the Lord takes them. In our society, which is oftentimes ridiculously fickle, we are judged by our performance in certain areas, and our ability to write (or email!) in a clear manner with decent spelling is one of those areas. This particular company has a sole focus on improving your student's writing skills; they are very good at what they do. Don't be afraid to "tweak" things in order to make a very thorough program work in your busy homeschool. You can stretch out the lessons a little bit and use the curriculum over 30 weeks instead of 15. Or you might consider doing one lesson a week for 5 weeks and every 6th week, pour your time into honing writing skills (sort of like a writing unit study week). The big rocks need to go into the jar before all the smaller rocks, sand and water. Determine what your family's big rocks are and do what you must to get them in the jar first. I promise, you won't regret it later on and your children will thank you for making it happen!

If I had to change one thing about Level 3: Essay Writing, it would be the introduction. It's a bit lenthgy for the typical homeschool mom and I didn't feel confident that I understood how I was supposed to use the program. However, once I began using Lesson 1, I found it very teachable. So I would encourage moms to push through to the actual lessons, and refer back to the instructions as needed. And I would also consider this a wise choice if your student is on a college prep track. Just think how much easier the college application process will be if your child doesn't struggle with the essays!

Looking specifically at lesson 1 of Essay Writing, I'd like to share what I like and didn't like so much. The "Essay No List" contains several excellent esssay hints; the "Essay Checklist" is also very useful. In the first lesson alone, topics covered include "Title Hints", a "Skeleton Outline", "Rewrite Tips", and "Step-by-Step Brainstorming Instructions". The Biblically based themes are a huge plus for Christian homeschoolers and the outline tip to use color codes is great advice for those teaching visual learners. There are plenty of examples for each step in the process - neither the student nor teacher need feel confused about any part of the lesson. The organized notebook is "expected" in class. This is a nice addition that can affect the student's grade and is laid out by the curriculum, not by mom. Why did I appreciate the requirement of an organized notebook brought to each lesson? Primarily because it's all to easy as busy moms teaching multiple grades to let the standard for organized neatness slide, and it's really very important! Having it laid out as a gradable requirement in the curriculum was an excellent addition to The Write Foundation's Essay Writing.

My synopsis is that this is a thorough and comprehensive product created by a Biblically based company with high standards aiming for excellence. It's good stuff, and you may want to consider it as an addition to your homeschool. Again, the website is

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my review ~ happy homeschooling!

Day 51 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, November 8, 2010

More About Michal

So, my last look into Michal's heart was looking at her life in the rear view mirror, so to speak. Seeing what she had chosen to make of her life as it actually was, not as she wanted it to be, I recognized bits of myself in her sad story. You can find that post here.

I've jumped back to Michal's earlier days, found in 1 Samuel chapter 14 and chapter 18. In 1 Samuel 14:49 I read this description of King Saul's children ~ the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malki-Shua; his two daughters were Merab, the firstborn, and the younger, Michal. Just that brief description gives me a lot of background information about Michal. She had older brothers, one of whom was Jonathan. And she had an older sister, Merab. Just spend a couple of moments thinking about that in light of what we know about birth order and the way it impacts our relationships with our own siblings and they way we see it play out in our children's relationships. She was probably seen as "chronically immature". Her feelings may have been considered last, if at all. Her treatment as the spoiled little sister could have been a daily reality; or perhaps her older sister resented the way the boys in the family doted on their little sis. And don't forget, Michal's father was the super-handsome first King of Israel; that made her one of the very first "royal family", the second ever princess in Israel. All of these things combined may have caused Michal to be a bit hyper-sensitive and she may well have had some unrealistic expectations placed upon her by her family...and maybe she expected too much from herself. Any homeschool moms out there who can relate?? (I'm raising my hand even as I'm typing!!)

Fast forward to 1 Samuel 18 and let's see what takes place just following David's victory over the Philistine Goliath. In the first 4 verses of this chapter Jonathan and David's friendship is described. They truly were the best of friends. The two of them made a covenant (as God-fearing Israelites, a covenant was not something either one of them would have entered into lightly). Jonathan gifted David with his robe, his armor, sword, bow and belt. Now we see David, the youngest brother who endured much scorn and mocking (read back a bit in 1 Samuel to look into this) now wearing a prince's robe and belt, carrying a prince's sword and bow, donning a prince's armor! The Lord had lifted David up to a position of honor, which He promises to do for all who humble themselves before him.

*** As an aside, I want to venture out and ask the question that is rolling around in my head...Do you think King Saul chaffed a bit when David took Jonathan's armor when he had refused to take Saul's armor? I'm no theologian, and I by no means speak as one with any authority whatsoever...I'm just wondering "aloud" via my little blog, could King Saul have been bothered by that, just a teeny little bit? ***

David wisely went wherever the king sent him and he "behaved wisely" (verse 5, New Living Translation). The people of Israel accepted him and his new position within the king's army.

Back to chapter 18, verse 7: Here we read about the praise of the people of Israel infuriating Saul because David's praise was greater than his own. He began keeping a suspicious eye on David at this point. To me, this seems like a whole lot of change in a very short period of time, and when I remember that David was the baby of his family, I can feel myself almost wince inside at how overwhelming all of it must have been for him. His time alone with the Lord as a shepherd was serving him well - he knew His God in such a way that turning to Him for solace, comfort, wisdom, and normalcy would have been second nature to David. Praise the Lord, He really does prepare us before He sets us loose in the world!

Skipping on to verse 17 - Saul said to David, "Take my oldest daughter Merab as your wife." Look at verses 17 & 18 for yourself to see if you think Saul was acting valiantly toward David or not with this offer. In verse 19 we Merab is given to a man by the name of Adriel the Meholathite for his wife ~ not to David. Now, David had politely remarked that who was he to be the king's son-in-law; he had not exactly refused the king. How do I know this? Because the text clearly reveals that on the day Merab ought to have been given to David in marriage, she was found to already be married to Adriel. Examine chapter 18 to see if I'm getting this right - and remember, I'm gleaning from the life of Michal at the Lord's leading regarding my own walk with Him. I am in NO WAY teaching anyone other than myself :)

My key verse in this passage is verse 20, where it says that Michal loved David. Rarely is the emotion of a woman mentioned in the Bible like this. It isn't here by mistake; it's in God's Word because it's meant to be in God's Word. We can catch a glimpse into the heart of Michal here. It says she LOVED David. I'm going to stop here and review all that I know up to this point:
1. She was the baby of her family, as was David.
2. Her older sister had married someone instead of David. (Saul seemed as if he would have had David marry Merab - but Merab seems to have had her own marriage plans...hmmm, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?!)
3. Jonathan and David were beyond friends ~ they had made a life-long covenant.
4. Michal wasn't like the young ladies singing a song to David about his military victories (see verses 6-8). She had probably been around when David the "unknown" had soothed her troubled father with his psalms and musical ability. She'd heard her older brother Jonathan speak of his best friend. She had seen her father's conflicted praise and jealously aimed toward David. And she quite possibly could have been Merab's confidant as she struggled against her father's wishes to marry David.

Michal's love for David was not shallow - her love ran deep! She had seen him grow up and had seen his God deliver him from the Philistine's and from her father's angry outbursts. She had surely known of the way David's older brothers treated him; and so she had witnessed his response to criticism and his response to the praise of the people of Israel. Her love was true love and her heart was fully his. I really believe Michal had an honest and pure love for David. To understand how she ended up a bitter woman, I have to grasp her love for David here in chapter 18.

Verse 20 tells me that Saul was told of Michal's love for David and it "pleased him". Saul intended that Michal would be a snare to David. A godly father does not hand his daughter over in marriage in such a manner. Saul's jealousy had made him hard-hearted and had blinded him to the things that are of the greatest importance in life.

I'll end my study of the life of Michal today in verse 28 of 1 Samuel 18. Again I read that Michal loved David. It is mentioned twice in this chapter, indicating it's importance. Don't just skim over those words and move on to what's next; don't just assume Michal was a terrible person from the very beginning; get a look inside of her heart, and realize she loved him deeply. And then take a look into your own heart, as I take a long look into mine, and let's ask the Lord to fix what is broken in there and make us fully able to love one another, specifically our husbands and children. As moms who homeschool, we show our children that we are Jesus' disciples by our love for one another. Paul said the greatest of these 3 (faith, hope, and love) is love. Let's be instruments of that love.

Lord bless you as you lovingly homeschool your kiddos!

Day 50 done :)

Jan L. Burt