What's the big deal about Young Living

Get HALF OFF Homeschool Winter Summit Registration

Can we be real for a minute?

Homeschooling is hard. Really hard.

Like there are some days when I don’t know what I was thinking when I committed to doing it. Like there are some days when I don’t think I can make it to graduating all these kids. Maybe not even to May. And sometimes I find myself just trying to hang on until Christmas break.

That’s why the founder of The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit, a homeschool mom herself who has graduated 4, planned the event to take place every year during the dark months smack in the middle of winter.

Summit Facebook party

And now The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit is quickly approaching, and I couldn’t be more excited! This is my all time favorite event every year, and here’s why:

  • I get to hang out with homeschool moms who have graduated all their students and are still standing tall.
  • I get to pick the brains of homeschool moms who are a little farther down this road than I am.
  • I get to laugh until I cry with other moms who are going through the same exact season of life I am.
  • I get to hear homeschool moms being real about their struggles, their fears, and their failures.
  • I get to encourage homeschool moms who aren’t quite as far along as I am.
  • I get to pray and sing praises to the Lord with all these beautiful ladies.

Truly, this one weekend is such a breath of fresh air, such an energizing boost, such an encouraging experience on a deep, deep heart level, that I look forward to it all year, knowing that it will give me the vision I need to make it through May.

And now The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit is having a virtual Facebook party, from 9-10:00pm CST tonight, December 1st, to introduce us to all the speakers (I’m one of them!) and offer one participant HALF OFF your registration! It’s so easy to attend. Just click “going” at the top of the event page, tuck the kiddies into bed, put on your comfiest pajamas, open up your laptop, and jump into the discussion to be entered to win. (For an extra entry, invite your friends.)

See? Easy, peasy, mac and cheesy! Whether already registered, or planning to soon, one participant will get to attend The Summit for HALF PRICE! It might as well be you, right???

And if you don’t win half off, I still have a deal for you. At check, use the discount code “Smockity10″ to get $10 off!

I’ll see you at The Summit!

(*I don’t get paid at all for promoting this non-profit ministry. The other team members and I even use our own money to buy door prizes and make casseroles to help feed the speakers. I am just so in love with this ministry that I can’t help sharing it with you!)

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Usborne Books Online Party ~ FREE PRIZES!


Do you like high quality, award winning educational books?

I am hosting an online Usborne book party tomorrow, October 23rd at 2:00 p.m. CST, and there will be FREE PRIZES! You don’t even have to order any books to win a prize! Simple RSVP here by clicking “Going” or “Maybe” (under the picture at the top) and show up some time during the party to leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win.

Usborne publishes high quality, award winning children’s books (ages newborn – young adult). These books are also used in many homeschool curriculums such as: Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, The Well Trained Mind and Veritas Press just to name a few. I would love for you to come and hang out with me, learn about these great books, and possible win a prize!

You can get a head start in entering to win a prize by commenting right now before the party starts!

Hello? Christmas shopping anyone? This is the perfect opportunity to knock out some of the gifts on your list without waiting in long lines.

Even if you can’t be online during the time of the party, go ahead and click “Maybe” so you can drop by the page later to see the great deals on these wonderful books.

See you at the party!

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Scheduling and Taking Your CLEP Test

A Homeschooled Student's Guide to CLEP Tests


This is a guest post, written by Madison Hughes, homeschool graduate and college senior. This post is part 4 of a 4-part series on CLEP tests for homeschooled students. Find the rest of the series below.

The popularity of CLEP tests is currently on the rise, and you may have heard about them from friends or acquaintances as a way to earn college credit.  Homeschoolers especially can take advantage of this easy method.  This 4-part series will guide you through learning about and choosing a CLEP test, studying for and taking a CLEP test, and transferring CLEP credit to a college.  In part 1, we explained what exactly a CLEP exam is and how to determine if it is right for you or your student.  In part 2, discussed how to consider your options and choose a CLEP exam.  In part 3, talked about how to prepare for your test.  Now we will finally discuss scheduling and taking your exam.

Ok, at this point you’ve learned about CLEP tests, chosen a subject, studied hard, and now you think you’re finally ready to take your exam!  What next?

As we learned before, CLEP tests are given at designated testing centers in many locations across the country.  To find a nearby location, use this link and enter your zipcode.  Once you have found a conveniently located testing center, you will need to get in contact with them directly either by phone or via email.  If you aren’t sure who specifically to contact, the college’s registrar should either be able to help you out or at least point you in the right direction.

When setting up a test date, be sure to understand that most centers are located on college campuses and that the computer lab is probably being used for other functions as well.  With this in mind, know that when you book an appointment it may need to be a couple of weeks in advance.  For your first CLEP test, I would recommend booking your appointment only when you feel ready to take the test now even if you end up with a wait time.  In the future, you may be able to figure out how to time it so that you book your test date when you aren’t yet ready, but are prepared by the time of the exam.

In addition to scheduling a date and time, be sure to ask your testing center about methods of payment.  CLEP tests cost $80 each and most testing centers charge a proctoring fee of $20 or less.  Some locations may have a pay-in-advance voucher system, while some may require you to pay before the test.  Additionally, ask about what all you need to bring with you to your test.  Most tests will not need or allow scratch paper, but your center should provide scratch paper for you if needed.  You may need a calculator for some exams.  For any exam, you will need a photo ID and your social security number.

Be sure to get to the testing center early as, typically, late entry is not allowed.  Your exam will probably be given in a computer lab.  The center’s staff will help you to get set up and you will answer a short questionnaire about your CLEP experience before viewing a demo on how to use the program.  You will also have the opportunity to choose one or more colleges that will receive your CLEP score.  If you are currently attending college or know what college you want to attend, use this opportunity to make your selection now in order to save trouble later.  If you’re not yet sure where you should send your scores, leave the form blank.  CLEP will retain your scores for 20 years and you can have a transcript sent to any school at any time for a marginal fee.

Tests are 90 minutes long and generally contain between 80 and 120 questions.  You will be able to see time elapsed and time remaining with the program in use.  When you finish and before your score is revealed, you will have the opportunity to void the test if you felt that you did very poorly.  If you choose this option, you will not be shown your score but can retest again at any time.  If you choose to see your score, it is automatically reported and, if you did not pass, you will not be able to retest for 90 days.  If you complete the exam early, you may quietly leave – you don’t have to stay for the rest of the allotted time.

You did it!  You took (and hopefully passed) your first CLEP test.  If you didn’t report your score to a specific college, you can do this at any time by contacting CLEP customer service at 800-257-9558.  You will be charged a fee of $30 per transcript, and each transcript will include all reported CLEP scores for that student.  If you did report your scores to one or more colleges, they should receive and add them to your transcript within 6 weeks.  You can contact the registrar’s office of the college with questions or concerns.

And that’s a wrap!  I hope this series has been helpful.  CLEP tests have really helped to give me a leg up in the world of college, so I hope that they can do the same for you!  If you still have any questions that were left unanswered, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP.

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Free Preschool Printable

I’m trying my hand at something new: Printables

Preschool printable

Here’s a super simple preschool printable I whipped up. Click the link to view and print the pdf. You can hand this to your preschooler when you have a lesson to do with big brother or sister that requires your attention. Pre-readers can follow the simple instructions on this printable to practice their preschool skills without assistance from you.

This is my very first try, but I’ll be making more of these for all ages. Be sure to sign up for my free email newsletter to get more of these free printables delivered to your inbox.

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A Homeschooled Student’s Guide to CLEP Tests

A Homeschooled Student's Guide to CLEP TestsThis is a guest post, written by Madison Hughes, homeschool graduate and college senior. This post is part 1 of a 4-part series on CLEP tests for homeschooled students. Be sure to check back for parts 2, 3, and 4.

The popularity of CLEP tests is currently on the rise, and you may have heard about them from friends or acquaintances as a way to earn college credit. Homeschoolers especially can take advantage of this easy method. This 3-part series will guide you through learning about and choosing a CLEP test, studying for and taking a CLEP test, and transferring CLEP credit to a college. In part 1, we will discuss what exactly a CLEP exam is and how to determine if it is right for you or your student.

What is a CLEP test?

A CLEP test is an exam that a student may take to obtain college credit on a certain subject. Students are generally awarded 3 hours of credit per test, although a few more advanced tests may count for more hours. The exams are given by computer at designated testing locations and are 90 minutes long. The number of questions varies per test but is usually in the range of 90-120. Each test is scored out of 80 possible points, with 50 points normally being the benchmark for awarding college credit. However, some colleges may choose to impose stricter standards on what CLEP scores they will accept.

Why should I take a CLEP test?

The 33 available CLEP tests cover a variety of different subjects. Students can easily use CLEP exams to obtain easy credit for many of their general education requirements, regardless of their chosen degree. This can help students to graduate from college on time or even early with less expense. (The Official CLEP Study Guide for each subject is usually $24.99 and the test is $80. That means you can get 3 hours of college credit for around $100.)

Deciding to take CLEP tests can help any student get a head start in college, but homeschooled high school students have a special advantage in this regard. In addition to giving college credit, a homeschool curriculum could easily be modified to use CLEP tests as dual credit. For example, a high school student who needs to study US History before graduation can fulfill this requirement by studying for and taking both US History CLEPs. In this way, the student gets college credit from studying a subject that he or she would have had to study anyway.

Who should take CLEP tests?

There is no age restriction on CLEP tests, although students under 13 must have signed consent from a parent before testing. However, the tests do cover college-level material and therefore require a certain degree of maturity from the student. I took my first CLEP test at 17, although I probably could have passed it earlier. For the average high school student, I would recommend taking CLEPs starting no earlier than their junior year. Advanced students may easily be able to pass an exam before this, however, so don’t hesitate to let your student start studying and taking practice tests at an earlier age.

Hopefully you now have a better grasp on the nature of CLEP tests. In part 2 of this series we will be discussing selecting and studying for a CLEP exam. Be sure to check back for the next installment!

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Preparing Homeschoolers for College Success: Reading Aloud

Preparing Homeschoolers for College Success

Since I am about to send off my second exclusively homeschooled child to college on an academic scholarship, I get quite a few questions about how to prepare homeschoolers for college.

There are many elements we teach our children during the years and years we are preparing them to launch out on their own. These include, but are not limited to:

  • organizational skills
  • discipline
  • determination
  • proficiency in basic subjects
  • independent study skills
  • curiosity
  • self motivation

But what I want to touch on today is the single most important thing I have done for my children to prepare them for college success.


And I don’t just mean reading “Red Fish, Blue Fish” to my preschoolers. I mean reading aloud every day to all ages who are gathered in the living room and listening attentively to true stories of real life heroes, and fairy tales, and science fiction, and historical fiction, and biographies of famous inventors, and the classics, and the popular chapter books, and silly poems, and long sombre poems, and current events. I mean reading things above their levels of understanding and then talking about the words they didn’t understand.

This daily activity is important in so many ways. 

Reading aloud trains children to sit quietly and listen.

Everyone comes to the living room at the appointed time with paper and pencils or crayons so they can doodle or draw if they choose. The little ones sometimes want to whine, but I correct their behavior and continue reading. Before long, even preschoolers can sit for half an hour listening and then summarize what was read.

Reading aloud expands their minds.

What we send into that ear becomes the foundation for the child’s ‘brain house.‘” -Jim Trelease

Reading aloud sends your children to foreign countries they may never be able to actually visit. It allows them to explore imaginary lands, real landmarks, homes of historical figures, ocean depths, and distant planets.

Reading aloud sparks curiosity.

There have been many times when one or more of my children have sneakily taken the book I’m in the middle of reading aloud and read the entire thing in one day. Then they beg me to go to the library and check out more books by the same author or on the same subject.

When I read aloud about missionaries in Africa, they want to know more about missionaries and Africa. When I read The Magician’s Nephew, they want the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia series. When I read The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, they want to see what other works Poe has written. When I read about how to incubate turtle eggs, they want to know more about turtle development. In all of the above cases, the child seeks out the new reading material on their own.

Reading aloud instills a love of reading.

See above.

Reading aloud develops vocabulary.

I try to include literature that has vocabulary slightly above the children’s level of understanding. When they hear an unfamiliar word, this does an amazing thing. It makes them wonder what the unfamiliar word means. They ask me about it. They try out the word in conversation at the dinner table. We may congratulate them on using a new word, or all laugh at their misuse of it and tell them how to correctly use it. Whatever the success or our response, a new word has worked its way into the storehouse of the child’s mind.

One example of this is when my 9 year recently old asked me, “Would it be treasonous for President Obama to work with Russia?”

Reading aloud increases success rates on standardized tests, like PSAT, SAT, and ACT.

Studies show a close correlation to students’ success in school and on standardized tests and vocabulary knowledge. My own two oldest children who have gotten academic scholarships based on the results of their SAT and ACT scores have shown this to be true in our family.

You can see why I am a firm believer in reading aloud to children of all ages. 

Do you read aloud to your children?

See some of our favorite read alouds here.

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