Certain Holidays get celebrated big time at our house, and the 4th of July is one of them! We love this country and the principles it was founded on. But we don’t consider ourselves proud Americans- more like grateful Americans. We had the opportunity to choose our education, vocation, spouse, faith, location, and lifestyle. Is it any wonder that people are clamoring to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave?
So, yep, we celebrate by decorating the house with red, white, and blue buntings that look about perfect on our 100-year-old house, along with Old Glory flying, friends to celebrate with and fun to be had by all!
Family recipes, activities and traditions are an important part of every holiday – here are some of ours!
Grilled Chicken or Flank Steak, marinated in soy sauce, honey, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and a ton of cilantro.
Deviled Eggs: My deviled eggs are de rigor for holidays and perfect as is. Peeled boiled eggs, sliced in half. Smash yolks with real mayonnaise and mustard to taste. Set egg white halves on your beautiful carnival ware deviled egg plate, and spoon the generous yolk mixture into each half. Sprinkle with paprika and enjoy. Perfection!
Veggie Tray: all the veggies. Sour cream with Spike and lots of Dill if you want a dip.
All the Fruit is in a scooped-out watermelon half. Get fancy and scallop the edges if you want.
A beautiful charcuterie tray
And Cheesecake, with berries and a swirl of chocolate, or topped with berries, like ours!
Easy Punch: Grape juice with 7up and Lemonade and lots of ice, because we can our own grape juice every year and it’s just part of the summer holidays. Serve in pint-sized mason jars, of course.
Celebrate with Good Fun!
We often spend the afternoons doing target practice and then eat. When everyone is full and just schmoozing, everyone gathers together and my husband reads the Declaration of Independence out loud.
We take time to read the signers’ names. It’s sobering. These men, and their families, were willing to give up so much for an ideal. An ideal that we have all reaped the benefit of. I am grateful to each one of them for their vision and willingness to sacrifice for the long view.
Declaration of Independence
Reading the Declaration of Independence used to be the main focus of Independence Day celebrations in small towns across America. A national remembrance and vision casting for who we were and are as a country. It’s worth re-visiting annually. As one of my favorite pastors, Skip Heitzig says, “Truth needs a memory”.
Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about the importance of reading the Declaration of Independence as they celebrated the 4th of July, (she and her sisters have it memorized, of course) and the natural law on which this country is founded!
Fireworks & Savings!
And then comes the fireworks. We live in a state that allows fireworks and our property is situated so that we have an entire valley to light up.
At True North Homeschool Academy, we appreciate and celebrate Faith, Family, and Freedom. In celebration of this great country, we are offering a store-wide sale. Thanks for standing with us, in appreciation for this sweet land of liberty!
More About Freedom & Our Nation’s History
If you’d like to learn more about the values that our country was founded on, check out Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, taught by Adam Pruzan. Classes are filling up and we can’t always add a second section, so take advantage of our last sale of the year and sign up now for a live online class where the students and teacher engage in discussions about our heritage.
This is the perfect time of year to tune in and listen to our five-part Podcast Series Authentic Values which speaks directly to the ideals upon which this country was founded. Download these episodes and add some learning to your summer road trips!
And stay tuned to all our social media accounts for more information about our sitewide 5% off sale. It is the last sale before our True North Homeschool Academy Classes begin on August 22! You’ll want to be on our mailing list to grab your coupon code! Subscribe here:
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As summer rapidly approaches, the likelihood of hearing that ominous word—boredom—grows increasingly probable. I learned to carefully avoid this word around my parents in my youth, as it typically meant being given a long list of chores. Our summers involved mostly outdoor activities: riding bikes, woodland exploration, and swimming—with a bit of reading thrown in on rainy days. Our family often had one vacation in the summer, with destinations chosen by my parents based on their interests and tastes, not mine. This was the norm, and it worked.
Modern Parents and the Boredom Principle
It’s safe to say that modern parents appear more obliged to provide the bored child with incessant vacations, camps, and activities to assuage their boredom than previous generations, which begs the question: is boredom a bad thing?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I read a book on childhood brain development for a continuing education credit for my social work licensure. I wish I could recall the text now, but I do remember that the author was emphatic that denying children of downtime—time to be bored—affects them in two significant ways. The first is less creativity, which was no surprise, but the second point was a bit of an epiphany for me. They also struggle to develop clear values and a subsequent moral structure.
Recently I was reminded of that book while listening to a TED Talk on boredom. Experts agree that free time and daydreaming are essential parts of childhood brain development. Over-scheduled children denied the time to reflect and be creative are not only starving their brains but wrestle with issues of moral ambiguity and difficulty solving problems. Sound familiar? Not to mention that modern children now possess devices that continually entertain and occupy their thoughts—regardless of what the calendar says. Modern science concurs on the subject of boredom with that 20-year-old textbook.
Building Quiet Time Into Your Day
Consequently, as soon as my children were old enough, I built mandatory quiet time into our daily schedule. Each day, my children were required to spend one hour alone in their rooms, where they did not talk, watch TV, or engage with any technology. Total silence. They were allowed to exercise, read, do crafts, build Legos, or anything creative, but they were not to do schoolwork. This was their time to pray, ponder, meditate, be mindful, daydream, analyze, stargaze, imagine, and think deeply.
We had a few more fun things on the schedule when summer approached than when I was a kid. We had a pool, so we had friends over quite a bit. The kids were allowed to pick one day-camp activity, such as horse or robotics camp, and sometimes we would go camping. Otherwise, we expected our kids to ride their bikes, explore the woods, and swim—with reading thrown in on rainy days. If they made the mistake of telling me they were bored, I always had a list of chores or projects handy, and I resisted the urge to fill in the blank spaces on our family calendar.
The Biggest Benefit of Boredom
What happened most was they built tree forts and mud pies and dammed our creek. They went berry picking. They colored pictures at the picnic table. They played with the dog and cat. They played kickball. They pitched a tent in the backyard. They helped me dig weeds in the garden or lay on blankets watching clouds, trying to find cartoon characters in the shapes.
They deliberated internally on their actions, observations, and experiences. They had an epiphany or two, which we would sometimes discuss over their bedtime prayers, and which helped solidify their values. They also had some of the most creative ideas! Through the power of boredom, they nurtured their brain development and pondered what was essential and what kind of people they hoped to be.
Parents, don’t waste the boredom! Instead, recognize it for the opportunity that it is and watch the great things your children will accomplish.
If you would like to watch that TED Talk on boredom, here is a link:
Mrs. Ferrell lives in southwestern Ohio with her husband of 23 years, her youngest child, and several pets. Mrs. Ferrell has many hobbies, including gardening, bicycling, quilting, photography, writing, and curriculum development. She is an avid reader and in constant pursuit of new challenges.
We only know about him because he held the unique and dishonorable distinction of being a thief, and one who was caught at that. He died in disgrace, poverty and agony. He was tortured, crucified and died.
Thieves often come under cover of darkness, in confusion, or perhaps on social media; places where they can easily hide and are rarely called out. And thieves- they can be so compelling. They are often masters of disguise, presenting themselves as one thing all the while working underhandedly to steal and destroy. Thieves are con artists- they are the masters at bait and switch. I would venture that many unwitting, well meaning people have handed over that which further damns the thief to their ultimate demise. Thieves are, by definition jealous people who are not content with their lot in life and perhaps even work to destroy that which they claim they now want or was taken from them.
The well known thief on the cross probably worked under cover of night, or in secrecy, or in a crowd, but died in broad daylight, exposed and disgraced.
We’ve all done it. Shared that juicy tidbit, been outraged by accusations, shocked at what we’ve just heard. In fact, I would venture to say that a good thief- one has honed their craft- is subtle enough to tweak the facts just so, so that the we see a bit of truth in the claims, “Ah yes, I always knew he was demanding- I see how he’s a bully,” But few – if any of us- actually go to the person who is the true victim of thief’s crime to seek truth. Reacting to a claim takes little from us. Acting as a Chrsitian takes everything.
But let’s be honest, we are all thieves. Each one of us. We’ve all claimed what wasn’t ours, been jealous and petty, said a little – or big lie- to justify our own sin. Projected onto others so that we are not discovered. We’ve all taken something precious and destroyed it. We’ve all defiled the purity and holiness of the Living God; stolen from others and bankrupt them; stolen from ourselves and defiled what and who are called to do and be.
We are all thieves, hanging on the cross- disgraced, found out, naked and exposed.
Some of us proudly jut out our chins and die, sealing our fate. Others of us accept the free give of mercy and salvation and recognize that the man in the middle holds the power of life and death with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. His arms- stretched out on the cross- nailed there in humiliation – have the power of life and death, hell or resurrection.
We are all thieves. And we can all look to the Man in the middle. It’s not too late- whether we are successful in our thieving or exposed. Either way, the Living Christ is the truth holder and knows of our disgrace, death, corruption, jealousy, bitterness and hate.
The one hanging there is the middle- HE is the Living Christ. He offers the free gift of salvation to all who believe. He has raised the dead to life- each one of us- dead in our transgressions, if you only look to Him and believe! Alleluia!
Twelve years ago, our house had burned, my 47-year-old sister had died unexpectedly, my oldest ended up in an E.R. several states away with Bird Flu, our contractor was crooked, we moved three times in ten months and threw away 90% of our possessions. We moved back into our partially finished house during the worst flooding in our region’s history (though last year topped that). My dad died a few months later.
One thing we all have in common right now is that life is uncertain.
And with that uncertainty comes anxiety, fear, and possibly depression. Stress. Will we get sick? Will we get better? And will we have a job? What will the world look like in 2, 4, or 6 months?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Maybe right now you can relate to these words that I wrote 10 years ago:
I have been tossing and turning for nights. If there were an Olympic event for turning 360’s under the covers- I’d win. Cause while we are home, we are far from settled. The house remains undone and critically demanding from both a time and money standpoint. I feel pulled in a 100-directions at once for a myriad of reasons. Like Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, flurrying around, scurrying in all directions, wondering if she should pack the kitchen sink for their flight from imminent danger, flustered because she’s worried she won’t make a good impression, concerned that Mr. Beaver will fall into the path of danger. Geez, man, she’s a worrywart.
Oh, how I relate. Cause I’m faithful and true and a diligent and hard worker and busy and industrious and mindful of things, and thinking of what’s next and on and on. But I’m concerned. Concerned about all that’s not being done and what’s up ahead and how I look and what’s next.
When Mrs. Beaver finally meets Aslan, his comment to her, which sets all things right in her life is, “Peace, Beaver.”
And with those two little words, the High King sets it all straight. He recognizes who she is, calls her by name, dignifies her presence and speaking words of power and might, and straightens the crooked places by His ruasch, alive and manifesting His strength and vision for her. The fussing and stressing and striving cease and she can relax in His presence knowing He’s got her back.
Sunday’s Coming! I’ve had a hard time getting there for the past many months. I’ve been grief-stricken and weary and flustered. And it’s not that things aren’t better than before, we have been blessed in amazing and profound ways; it’s the process of how they’ve gotten that way. Inventorying time and materials, thoughts and actions, sorting through possessions that were meaningful because of memories or people, profoundly feeling the loss of family, moving yet again in a matter of months.
Looking at Our Circumstances
I look around at all of the projects and consider how we’ll make due this fall and feel, oh so rocked by the waves of the circumstances. The work is something we enjoy, but the amount of it seems ominous, and while Dr. Dh is confident we’ll get it done, it’s all in the context of a day job and homeschooling and the living that will take place around it. And I see how we get tired and sore in a way we haven’t before. Age, stress, and the demands of the year manifest themselves in practical ways.
This year, in the midst of the chaos and flurry of once-in-a-lifetime circumstances I’ve longed for ritual. For benchmarks that say it’s this season or that. This is what you do when, the words you say now, the posture you take in response. I’ve needed guides, markers, mindless actions to go through that indicate time and life go on in a sensible and pleasing pattern despite disruption and chaos and hurt and fear and unrest and inconclusiveness”- the ritual and meaning and confirmation of faith and death and loss and living.
God is Our Refuge
My youngest came up to me where I was sitting a few days after we moved back home and said, very quietly, “Momma, the fire scared me.” Just so plain and simple and straightforward, but sad and apologetic, like her little 7-year-old self should be braver. The very fact of being home again, I think, finally allowed her to say these simple words. I said, “I know, Baby, of course, it did.” And she crawled into my lap and snuggled against me, curled up like when she was two, and stayed there for a while. Later she looked up at me and smiled and gave me a big hug and hopped up and went to find kittens to play with. I’m grateful she could be as little as she needed to be and snuggle up with someone older and bigger and stronger and sit and soak in my strength and comfort until she’d absorbed as much as she needed.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble. … Come and see the works of the LORD. Psalm 46:1
On so many levels, I’ve felt like my little girl and I’ve wanted to say the same thing; “The fire scared me, Sue’s death rocked me, I feel the loss and lost.” And I want to feel and hear and know Abba is saying, “I know, Baby, of course. Rest in My peace. I’ve got you. Despite the worry and chaos and confusion and disorder and the house undone and work ahead, I’ve got your back.”
And He does.
I know He does for me and I know He does for you!
Sunday’s coming! And with it, the Living Christ!
Spend time with the Living Christ and have fun in your homeschool with the free Holy Week Breakout Room!
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I know, you are so ready for a summer break. Sleeping in, swimming, camping, and vacation. I hear you. I’m just as ready as you are. But, I also remember just how hard it was to get back into the swing of things with homeschooling come Back-to-School time. So, this year (Home) School is in for summer!
There are tons of really good reasons to homeschool year-round, but today I’m going to share what I think are 5 great reasons to homeschool over the summer. Let’s dive in! 😉
1. Choosing to homeschool this summer gives you the freedom to break at other times.
Embracing the summer as a time of learning can let you flex when things come up during the year. And they do come up, don’t they? Someone gets sick, family visits, you travel during the holidays. Summer learning affords you the freedom to break when you need to without feeling behind or guilty. You set the pace.
2. Summer homeschool can help prevent that “summer slide” we hear about.
I know, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if your kids were anything like mine, that heat can be just as disrputive as a snow day. The heat makes kids lithargic. They tend to gravitate towards the air conditioning and often times a screen. Why not capture the screen time for learning?
4. Master a new skill.
Often times our school year is packed. We’re focused on the essentials and it’s hard to fit in a purely interest-based class. It might be time to learn a new language, master the math we’ll need for Chemistry next year, or hone our essay writing techniques. Even preparing for next year with a class on Study Skills can give a real advantage.
5. Getting a preview of coming attractions.
Summer classes at True North Homeschool Academy are a great way to preview how the classes work in the fall. Our classes are particularly designed to support our full year classes. Students will meet fellow True North Homeschool Academy students, learn from one of our world class teachers and learn to navigate our online campus!
We’re here to support your homeschooling choices, happy to answer your questions, and provide you with an educational option that helps lead your kids True North. We’d love to see you this summer!
Bundle Your Summer Classes & Save!
Summer Bootcamp Bundle allows you to choose 3 Summer Classes for 20% off over ala carte classes!
Choose from fourteen Summer Classes that will build students academic skills, setting them up for future academic success! Our classes are particularly designed to support our full year classes. Students will meet fellow True North Homeschool Academy students, learn from one of our world class teachers and learn to navigate our online campus! Choose from the following:
Time began in a garden, which makes it the perfect homeschool science. It’s a ready-made object lesson! God created plants of all different species and kinds. He replenishes us like a garden sprouting from the desert.
When our mustard seed-sized faith grows, it’s a tree so large the birds nest in it.
The Bible even tells us to plant a garden.
And then, there’s the biggest lesson — sowing and reaping. Every homeschool mom must know that one by heart.
“… A man reaps what he sows.”
With all of that in mind, why not try your hand at gardening?
Not Enough Space? Try Container Gardening!
It’s spring and everyone in the homeschool world is planting a garden because gardening is such a great way to learn about plants.
If you don’t have a plot of earth accessible for a garden, try container gardening. It’s easy. You only need some little pots, buckets, or containers,
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Grow Tomatoes in a 5-Gallon Bucket
Drill holes in the bottom for drainage, before you fill the bucket with soil. Plant one tomato plant per bucket. Use a stake in the middle to support the plant.
You can also grow cucumbers, melons, squash, beans, onions, lettuce, and carrots in buckets.
Grow Herbs in Your Kitchen Windowsill
Use tiny little pots or containers to grow herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano, basil, parsley, chives, and mint. Your kitchen will smell heavenly! The key is plenty of sunlight.
To start your herbs, fill pots with moist seed-starting mix ¾ full. Sprinkle 4-5 seeds on top, cover and pat gently. Cover with a plastic bag to keep moisture inside until seedlings poke through. Remove plastic and continue watering the little plants on your sunny windowsill.
Grow Flowers in Hanging Baskets
Flowers are lovely in hanging baskets on a porch, patio, or balcony. They brighten up the day for anyone walking by who can see them.
You can also grow tomatoes and strawberries in a hanging basket. Or try herbs like parsley, thyme, and mint.
Little children love learning about plants. In fact, science is fascinating, especially if they have a fun class like Science Exploration A (K-3) and Science Exploration B (4-6) where children learn about plants from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the seas.