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My Final Post at Parents — Off to our New Location at!

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

When I was asked to come blog under the umbrella three years ago, I was both excited and nervous.  I saw this as an opportunity to show that homeschoolers are just normal families doing the best we can to balance life.  We strive to educate our kids;  struggle to keep the house clean (some of us more than others!!);  work on treating each other nicely;  gather for family meals and family meetings. We enjoy time socializing with friends. The kids take classes and participate in sports and other activities. We travel and explore the world… but also learn our grammar rules, keep our rooms clean, and help with chores (um… we *strive* to do daily chores, that is!).  Along the journey, we struggle with the real issues of growing up — encountering bullying (or less than ideal behavior from others), deal with sibling rivalry, wonder about death, and try to figure out our place in the world. We learn about other people’s religions as well as our own.  We’ve wandered back in time to study the ancient world or over to Asia to learn about different cultures there. We’ve done amazing hands-on science activities… and have started using a Homeschool Writing Workshop that has turned my reluctant writer into a joyful writer!! And… the journey and challenges continue!

During my time here at Parents, I have had email after email asking, “How do I start homeschooling?”  I wrote an entire series — somewhere around 20 posts — trying to help answer that question!! But, the thing is… we all know our own kids better than anyone else. We all know our kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Homeschooling is not about finding the perfect curriculum (it doesn’t exist!!). It’s about engaging the kids, sparking their curiosity, building their strengths and working on their weaknesses.  Any parent can homeschool if the passion and excitement is there. Honestly, you can figure everything else out along the way.

So my friends and dear readers, I hope you will come find us at and at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. There you will find our most popular packets, notebook pages, fun worksheets and printables as well as find some homeschool and education encouragement.

What’s coming up at

In the short run, we have a couple of posts for you there:

First, the reality of getting back into homeschooling after a break!

And second, I’ve put together tips about teaching kids to read.  As I wrote our Preschool at Home series, I always intended to write a post or two about the activities and methods we used as the kids were learning to read.  You know how time flies by, right?  So if your kids are ready, here’s a post at my new location which might offer some useful pointers:

Teach Your Child to Read

Activities to Foster Early Reading Skills

In the long run (this semester at least), we’ll be delving into some new units.  This semester we’ll be studying the Middle Ages in history and we’ll also do  a short unit on Civics, Government and Economics.  In science we’re going to start on a unit on plant and animal cells and from there will study tissues, organs and probably another human body system. And of course, we’ll continue on with all our other subjects — writing, language arts, math, German, etc.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure blogging here at Being here has allowed me to just write and share our adventures without dealing with the technical issues that come with running a website. Their support has been wonderful! Huge hugs and thanks to my wonderful editor, Sherry!  :)

As I venture off to our new location at, I hope to make our site user-friendly so that you can easily find inspiration and educational ideas on the topic you’re interested in.  I hope that you will join us there soon and browse around for some creative, hands-on activities to do with your kids!

Thank you and see you soon there! ~Liesl and the Kids

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Thoughts for the New Year, 2015!

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Do you ever find yourself saying to yourself (or to others for that matter) “there’s not enough time in my day.”  I’ve been thinking about that a lot and how my attitudes about time affect the relationships I have with my loved ones.

There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” –Brian Tracy

One of my New Years self-reflection questions was, “Am I being truly generous to others (to my family, my friends, my community) in terms of my attention, time and energy? How can I improve?”  I’ve been thinking about that a lot. With the blog moving to our new location, I have not been as engaged with the kids as I could be.  I definitely need to slow down and *be* with the kids more as the new year unfolds!

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to’ ” — Lao Tzu

In this modern life, parents are stretched pretty thin between family, work, school, sports practice, music practice, church, meetings, volunteering, meals, grocery shopping… and on and on! We definitely have to pick and choose the things that truly matter.

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”  – James Taylor

Isn’t that so true?  Instead of wishing for the future, waiting for things to come, we need to hug and listen and be there for our family (and friends) enjoying life as it happens. :)

They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” –Andy Warhol

I love this quote as it give you the responsibility for your actions, your love and your future. Hubby and I have been married for more than 15 years now.  Our relationship is different than it was when we climbed 14-footer mountains and picked leaches off us as we hiked through rainforests… Time has brought us new wonders and challenges… those long nights of nursing babies, chasing balls, watching the kids’ eyes light up in wonder as they discover something new. It’s quite amazing looking back at the years how our actions have led to this life we live now.

Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.” –Max Frisch

Hubby and I have tackled the challenges together, marveled at how rapidly the kids have grown. In the meantime, Hubby and I have grown and truly become partners and pillars of strength — not only for each other, but for our kids. Hubby and I haven’t really been changed by time, but rather have created new portraits of who we are. We are no longer sprightly young adventurers, but part of a unit. We have to work together to tend to our needs and the needs of everyone in our family. I still love this picture ED made several years ago showing everyone (and the pets) who mattered to her!  It’s sweet that all of our “names” are covered by hearts at the top of the page… Her art reminds me of the precious, sweet preschooler she was, and reminds me of how much she has changed — unfolded, as Max Frisch says.

Before I go, there’s one more really great quote that’s had my mind whirling…

“The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.”  –Ben Willis, Chashback

Isn’t that a great quote to end on? When my plate feels too full, I have to remember that this is my life. I am/We are making the decisions that keep us busy.  We have the ability to say “yes” (to spending quality time with loved ones) and “no” (to the activities that don’t matter.)

Happy New Year, Everyone!

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Self Reflection Questions for New Years

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

The year is quickly coming to a close. I absolutely love the year end wrap-ups that come on TV… remembering and reflecting on the good, the amazing, the bad, the sad… And it’s worth thinking about our family’s own year in that same way.  Here are some questions to consider about the year. At the end of the post I’ll share a year-end wrap-up of my own. :)

So here are some of the questions I’ve been considering…

What am I grateful for this year?

What went well this year?

What three words best capture the essence of this past year?

What was the best memory of the year?

What was the biggest improvement in our lives this past year?

What obstacles did we overcome?

What would make me/us happier? How can I/we make this happen?

What activities do we want to drop? What activities do we want to make time for?

How can we increase our time together (family meals, games, day-trips, etc.)?  Make sure we schedule thing on the calendar!

What do I like about myself?

What do I do well? What is my gift to the world?

What would I most like to change about myself this year?

How can I make more time for/with my spouse?

Am I in touch with the friends and loved ones that are important to me? How can I stay more connected with others?

If I knew I were to die in the next month or two, what would I do? What does that say about my life now?

Am I being truly generous to others (to my family, my friends, my community) in terms of my attention, time and energy? How can I improve?

How can I help someone else this next week/month?

If the house were to burn down, aside from loved ones/pets, what would I save? What does that say about what’s important? Does this coincide with the goals we have as a family?

What’s my favorite place in the house?  Does this area look like I want it to? What could be improved? What do I like about this area and how can I replicate that in other parts of the house?

What’s going well and what needs improvement in terms of

our health
our family goals
our daily life

Am I carrying problems, gripes, issues that need to be dropped (or dealt with)?

What’s on my “not to do” list? (What are the biggest time wasters in my life.)

don’t answer the phone during school hours
don’t get on the computer during our most productive hours
… and things like that!

Do we have any special plans for this next year?  What do we need to make this happen (a trip, saving money and vacation time, etc.)?

Daydream about the future… What dreams do we have for the future as a family? How can we make this happen?

What legacy am I leaving behind?

Hope some of these questions gets you thinking about how you want 2015 to be as good or better than this past year!

And now my own thoughts about 2014:

I brought in the New Year 2014 with a confusing, crazy array of health issues all stemming from ear surgery I had a couple months earlier. I was dizzy, sensitive to sound, started hearing my own heart-beat, heard jingle bells, swishing, pulsating sounds 24-7, my vision started to blur whenever I turned my head. As winter slid into spring my ghastly symptoms grew worse and worse… Jingle bell sounds progressed to airplanes landing in my head. I couldn’t drive. I was sea-sick most all of the time. Even the sound of my own voice made my vision go blurry. Crazy! In the end, I wound up having to go to Johns Hopkins to have my entire ear structures removed (ear drum, bones, balance system).  While on the one hand, it’s a bummer I went deaf in that ear (I’m hearing impaired in the other ear), it is *unbelievably wonderful* to have my health back and to have relief from the crazy symptoms I endured! I’m better and better and better! Hooray!

Our homeschool life was pretty great, despite all of my health issues. We did some fabulous units last year. We did huge units on China and India. We went into detail on ancient China, Confucianism, Genghis Khan & Marco Polo. We learned about Buddhism, Hinduism, the history of ancient India… all the way through British colonialism in India and Mahatma Gandhi. We studied the Civil Rights Movement and did units on Water, Weather and Simple Machines. Last (school) year we had started a Homeschool Writing Workshop that made writing one of *the* highlights of our day!!

Our kids were healthy and enjoyed a whole array of activities outside the home… the highlight for LD was becoming the state champion for his age and level in boys gymnastics. :)

And, I had an incredibly prolific year writing on the blog. With so many health issues that kept me stationary much of the time, I wrote and wrote and wrote… the number of readers on my blog continued to rise (THANK YOU!!)… so now I’ve had millions of page hits!

I have so very, very, very much to be grateful for this year that’s for sure!

The biggest news for the Homeschool Den in 2015?  I got the news just a few weeks ago that Parents is letting all their single bloggers (like me) go. My last day blogging here at will be on Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. I have been extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Parents team these past few years, but I am also extremely excited about creating a new version of our blog at  With hubby’s technical support, I have been very, very busy trying to get the new site up and running.  There is a huge amount of work to do with a blog as big as mine, but it has been an exciting, fun project! As I go through our old posts, I’m amazed at how much we’ve done and how much we’ve learned.

With all that, I haven’t even begun to answer the questions I posed above.  I guess I’ll leave off with this final question… What three words best capture the essence of this past year? life-altering, challenging, and humbling.

And grateful too–for all of my amazing readers!

I’d love to hear what three words best capture the essense of this past year for you. Come tell us over at our Homeschool Den Facebook page!


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Who Are Those Homeschoolers Anyway? Homeschooling Facts and Figures

Monday, December 29th, 2014

One of the wonderful things about blogging under the umbrella these past few years was that we could share a bit of our family’s homeschooling journey with a wider audience.

We are eclectic homeschoolers which means we use a variety of homeschooling methods and educational resources to make learning hands-on and creative. We really try to immerse ourselves in various topics. I love that the kids can learn at their own pace, slowing down or speeding up as the need arises. I hope that the kids continue to have a passion for learning. There is so much to explore and study in this amazing, beautiful world of ours!

But, we are just one family… of millions out there. I thought I would share some of the facts and figures of homeschooling with this infographic I made: Homeschooling By the Numbers.

If you would like to use this infograpic feel free, just drop me an email or a note on our Homeschool Den Facebook page and I can give you details on how to embed and share this with others.

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What Happened to Our End of Semester Wrap-Up?

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Sometimes life takes unexpected twists and turns. When I posted our monthly wrap up in November, I talked about all the posts I planned to write in December. The kids finished up their Earth Science unit and we wrapped up our Native American unit with a huge study of the American West and the Apache and Sioux. I planned to write up posts about all that and to finally (Finally!) share our huge Earth Science packet…

But then… life took a slight detour a couple of weeks ago when we learned that Parents has decided to let all the single-author blogs go. I was sad but not surprised. What that meant was that I had a LOT of work to do behind the scenes to get ready for a big move to our new website. In fact, hubby and I are still spending long hours (squeezed between holiday parties and festivities, of course!) trying to get things up and running. Believe me there is a LOT of work to do!

I realized that I had to determine how best to use my (limited!) time and energy in this busy holiday season. Our first priority is to to get the new website up and running and to get things transferred there.

So, this week we will not be posting as we celebrate Christmas and continue to move and transfer our materials… and next week starting on Monday Dec. 29th, we will have our final posts here at our Parents location.

Then coming in January if all goes as planned, we will have some great resources and activity ideas for you… including… (drum roll)… the Earth Science packet…

Now Available: Our 50 page Earth Science packet also includes: (at our new location at

Learn how to make a earthquake shake table, more than a dozen hands-on activities on the layers of the earth, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate movement and more!

Topics include: Solar System, Layers of the Earth, Earth’s Axis and the Seasons, Latitude and Longitude, Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, 4 Types of Mountains


And of course we’ll still offer our most popular resources such as our

Simple Machine Packet

Rocks and Minerals Packet and other science units

Montessori Cards

History and World Religion Materials:

human body worksheets, resources for learning German, fun math worksheets, grammar worksheets, and more!

So, I’ll see you here next week (Dec. 29th) and then beginning in January 2015 at our new location at

Where You’ll Find…
Hands-On Activities,
Curriculum Suggestions,
Science Experiments,
Book Lists,
Notebook Pages,
Educational Games,
Online Education Resources,
and Much More!

 So, that’s the big news from here!  In the meantime, stay in touch over at our Homeschool Den Facebook page!

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