The Living Homeschool

Just another weblog

Combat the Stress of Scheduling!

I’ve been working on a project to streamline my life for the past week or so. I read about the idea on Anne Elliott’s blog and ran with it. I even read the title by Anne Ortlund that she suggested and it was fantastic. You can read my review on it here: Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman. I have the Old Schoolhouse Planner from 2009 and printed out pages that I wanted to include. I chose to divide my notebook into 4 sections: God/goals, home, homeschool and writing, just as Anne Elliott did. In the very front of the notebook I have daily schedule pages that list things to do and appointments.

Since beginning this process I have been more faithful at getting up early for my ‘God-time’ : doing my daily morning prayer and Bible study. I still have my mission statement to write, but I have started it. My goal sheet is also light on substance and I jot things down as I think of them. Why is it that when I have time to sit and work on it I can’t seem to remember my plans? I will eventually write it up too.

My home has a new chore schedule for what we(kids chore chart got revamped too!) need to do and when so that nothing goes unnoticed. Like when you look up at your fan that was accidentally turned off and close your eyes in horror of the dust film looming above your head. Or notice that you have a new experiment growing in a container in the back of the fridge that you don’t remember seeing or even making. Yuck! I use shopping lists to keep track of what we need so I don’t have to make multiple trips to the store. Where I live it’s a 15 minute drive just to go into town and that means I am now saving money on gas. My husband took care of the bills before he switched jobs and now that I have this responsibility I printed out budget sheets and it helps to  keep me on track. I have yet to utilize my dinner menu pages. I have tried to no avail. I am just not a planner when it comes to food. We are an adventurous family and experiment with different dishes on a weekly basis. Maybe in the future I can have better success with menu planning. Maybe not? Hardy-Har-Harr!;)

The homeschool tab has a planning section that I filled with the kid’s courses and curriculum. I have a place for assignments, field trips log and a books read log for our family read-alouds. I don’t have anything in the weekly schedule portion because I have been inputting into an Excel spreadsheet. And I might add, it’s almost done! Whoo-Hoo! I have been fighting the urge to print it out as I am afraid that I will have to make corrections to it. Maybe just do a week or a month at a time? Hummm.

Writing is the the item that I have the least time to persue. I am still working on other areas of my life and this seems to get the least amount of attention. I do, however, write those cute little conversations and sayings down that my children have. You know the ones I’m talking about: when they sound wise beyond their years or say something that doesn’t make any sense, except to them.

I hope that reading this post has you contemplating starting your own notebook. It will assist you in simplifying and prioritizing your life so that you can have more time to do the things that really matters most.

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Book Review: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Most parenting books are either heavy on theology or on life application. This book, however, has an equal portion of both. A definite MUST read for parents or anyone that has influence on children. He takes it all back to the one goal that we should all have, for our children and us alike: to have a heart for Jesus. How simple right? So simple that we often times forget it. We get too busy and just want them to ‘be quiet’ or ‘behave’ (myself included). He references the Bible throughout and has chapters set aside just for life application and he has chapters that are age specific. This book will stay on my bookshelf  for future reference.

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Win a FREE high school art curriculum

Spears Art Studio, Inc  is giving away a CD rom of their full high school course on This website is a must for homeschoolers and educators alike!

The art curriculum is described as follows, from Freely Educate:

Seven Major Themes, 36 Lessons, 75 Art Activities, 36 Sketchbook Assignments
  • Supports the Rhetoric Stage of Classical Education

  • Addresses:
    • art elements – line, shape, space, color, texture, form
    • principles of design – repetition/pattern, proportion, contrast/value, emphasis/ focal point, balance/symmetry/asymmetry, unity, variety, harmony, movement/force/rhythm

    • perception skills – edges, spaces, relationships, light/shadow, gestalt 
processes – drawing, painting, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, graphic design
  • Contains:
    • connections in each lesson – Scripture, art history, contemporary art connections

    • 144 visual memory exercises

    • unit tests and answer keys

    • helps: tips and subs; how to evaluate artwork, etc.

    • analyzed for National Visual Art Standards

    • 162 pages total, 177 black and white illustrations, 52 color illustrations

            Oh…and did I mention that they have a course for younger kids too? And free art lessons on their site? Check out and

If you win…and I don’t(boohoo). Don’t be bashful and let me know. I’d love to congratulate you!

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Summer in full swing!

The weather is HOT! When it rains… it pours. My garden is looking parched and not bearing much fruit. The grass just keeps growing, though(Ugh). Luckily, I have a green thumb neighbor that gives us what she and her husband can’t eat. What a blessing!

I’m slowly finalizing our school year plans. Gathering all the supplies and making a wishlist for what we still need. I’m going to be trying some new things this year. One is going to involve the kids keeping a better track of what they do. To encourage better accountability and independence for those who need it. I will be making cards that will have their subjects and the time or pages they have for each day of the week and a place to mark off(or put a star). My dear friend Joy suggested this to me and I’m going to run with it. I’m also going to have each of  us, myself included, write up some goals to work towards during the schoolyear. Some will be more short term, like before Christmas break. Some will be long term, to finish out the year. As we get these done I will post our goals and the handout that I will make so that another family may be blessed.

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Can’t Wait for Spring!

Growing up in Florida I had no idea about the ‘winter blues’. I knew that I didn’t like the cold, especially when it was wet. When I say cold,  I mean ‘less than 75 degrees’. Born and raised in central Florida, I had no need for coats or long johns. For Floridians, Winter and Autumn are seasons that are not normally experienced. No matter what time of the year, it was shorts and flip-flops weather. Oh to remember those care-free years.

Fast forward to the present, this is my second Winter in NW Arkansas and it is cold! Now when I say cold….. I mean ‘less than 35 degrees’!  Even though I’m frozen to the bone, when snow is on the ground I feel a sense of peace. The richness of it’s aura envelopes me and I don’t want it to end. The beauty from Autumn to Spring is breathtaking and all of the changes in aroma, color and texture make me smile and consider everything that God has made. I have come to appreciate the season of Winter and am glad that I can share this experience with my beloved family.

With Spring around the corner I find myself ready to bask in the sun. I now understand the reference of  ‘winter blues’ and how the lack of sunshine effects a persons’ attitude and energy levels. My own experience this year was increased aggitation and decreased energy. Which is kind of an oxymoron, if you think about it. Don’t you need energy to get aggitated? Well, tell that to my body! I just have to keep on reminding myself that I need to relax(for the aggitation) and get moving(for the low energy). It will all make sense one day. Right?

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I’ve pulled my kids out of public school, now what?

When the Lord pressed upon me to homeschool my kids I researched all I could about how to do it and what to buy. The idea of homeschooling never crossed my mind before, nor did I know too many people who did it. I found it very overwhelming to start with all of my kids at once. Many homeschoolers started out before their kids were school-aged and others might have had one in school when the decision was made. So I found myself in a wealth of information that didn’t include much help for a mom like me. I prayed that the Lord would give me the strength and knowledge to carry on the journey.

A little bit about the beginning of our journey. I started schooling before the public schools started so I could have plenty of time to get us all acclimated. The Bible is our first lesson of the day. Sometimes we do a devotional and other times we just read from it. Our first purchased curriculum was all-inclusive. I took it one day at a time and started with only a couple of subjects. As the weeks passed I began to incorporate more subjects and life became pretty intense with rebellion. We soon found out that the curriculum that we had bought was not working for our family, me or the kids. We took a break and enjoyed the outdoors, museums and a local theatre. I then began our read-aloud time, for english, and soon found that this was one of the best things that has happened to us. The kids and I truly enjoy this bonding time. I found free online unit studies for history and science, alternating each of these. In my searches I discovered nature study and added it to our learnings. I had never thought of nature as a subject before but we do enjoy the Lord’s creation so it is a good fit for us. The math program that we have has been a blessing because all four kids love it and we can re-use with the youngers.

If  I had to pick one thing to focus on, the number one thing I suggest is to bond with your children. Get to know their likes and dislikes. I have gotten to know my children so much more than I ever have and I thank God for the opportunity to love and teach them. You will soon realize that you teach them much more than you know, just by listening and playing with them.

Many Blessings,

 Vicki B.

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Win Free Money!

If you haven’t heard of Swagbucks, then it’s about time! I learned about them earlier this year and I’ve won almost 4oo swagbucks so far. I just recently turned some in to purchase gift cards for myself. Right now they are 45 swagbucks for a $5 amazon gift card! I now have $45 in FREE money to spend online at amazon! And all I had to do was to search on their search engine. How EASY is that?

If that didn’t persuade you to join, then check out their swagbucks store for the other stuff they have.

When you sign up, let them know Vicki Barnes sent you!

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Homeschool Buyers Co-op Is Great!

If you’re in the market for homeschool curriculum you probably do what I do. Look everywhere for the BEST deal! One place that I am sure to check is Homeschool Buyers Co-op. They are a purchasing co-op for homeschoolers. I became a member about a year ago and have not regreted it at all. Membership is free! You can’t beat that…. They have some great offers right now with Explode the Code online, ABC Teach, Rosetta Stone, Switched on Schoolhouse, Mark Kistler online & Meet the Masters just to name a few. Besides getting great deals on curriculum you love, they award points for purchases and you can redeem them for more curriculum!

This is one of those tried and true sites that have been around awhile and you should check it out. So go on over to and let them know I sent you!

Many Blessings,

Vicki Barnes

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FREE Random Acts of Fitness kit

Subway is giving away a free Random Acts of Fitness kit to school and Home School teachers. So go check it out!
Link here:
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Homeschool Magazine Subscription Sale!

Most homeschoolers know about The Old Schoolhouse magazine and it’s great articles, lessons and helps. And if you don’t, I’d suggest you check out their website .  They are having a terrific sale on their subscriptions right now. Just use coupon code FB795. The offer is for a one-year print subscription (US only), good until midnight PST on September 22nd. Don’t wait, order now! I’m already set for 3 more years!

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