Monthly Archives: September 2011

Perhaps the REAL cause of unhappiness in marriage

A few months ago, I stumbled across the article, The Transforming Miracle of Marriage, online. It has really stuck with me because it points out how so often people think they want “out of” their marriage, job, or whatever, but what they really may be wanting is just a fresh start because they are so ashamed of what they’ve become.

See, a marriage is made up of two human beings who are going to make mistakes. Some mistakes are bigger than others, but the problems start when one person begins to feel such shame and failure that they decide that the marriage is what is a failure. They think they can’t please the other person, but the truth is, they don’t even like themselves very much.

Marriage can definitely be humbling: having someone there to see you at your best AND at your worst. Just think about the vows most us made at our weddings:

  • for better or for worse
  • for richer or poorer
  • in sickness and in health

I’m convinced that God uses our marriages to help us to become more like Him: giving (even when the other person doesn’t deserve it), patient, forgiving, and strong.

The author in this article says that he thinks that God designed marriage to make us holy, even more than to make us happy.

That reminds me of how Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, says that even though a dog can be a challenge for us, it’s specifically the dog we need because it forces us to develop the character needed to work with it. He doesn’t look at dog training as “fixing” the dog. He looks at how the owner should be the leader finding a way to get what they want from their dog.

Rehabilitating a dog is not about “fixing” it. It’s about you, the owner, creating the intention for what you want, not what you’re feeling. Dogs pick up on feelings of fear, doubt, or worry – and they will move to fill them by attempting to become dominant.

Practice unwavering leadership every day, especially on your walk. The energy you’re projecting internally is the message you’re sending to your dog.

Think of that in relation to people. Do you find yourself always trying to “fix” the other person? Or do you feel like your spouse is always trying to “fix” you? That doesn’t feel good from either side does it?

I like how Cesar gives tips at the end of the article on how to be the leader that your dog needs. Marriage is much more complicated than dog psychology, but perhaps you can see some similarities too:

  • Dedicate at least 45 minutes of time to the dog’s walk in the morning. Let the dog know you have a consistent pattern that you expect it to follow. (Consistently spend time with your spouse.)
  • Don’t expect more from your dog(s) than your own children. (Don’t expect perfection.)
  • Avoid nurturing your dog’s fears or unstable mind. Imagine a successful scenario and hold it in your mind when dealing with your dog. (When your spouse is in a bad funk, try not to fall apart too. Love them unconditionally and talk about things they can look forward too, rather than just their troubles.)
  • You are the source of your dog’s energy. You are the role model. (Marriage isn’t always 50/50. People struggle. Sometimes you have to be willing to go 80/20 or even 90/10. Ask God to give you the strength for that when your spouse is weak. Be positive!)
  • Challenge the dog’s mind – dogs want to know what to do with their lives. (Dream together. Have fun together. Don’t let daily life grow stale.)
  • Dogs need”on” and “off” time. Engage them fully in structured times together; then they can relax and avoid impatient or destructive behaviors. (Find ways that you can work/play together, and then also give them time to just do their own thing. We all have different needs sometimes.)

If you or a friend are struggling in a marriage, I hope you’ll look beyond the circumstances and try to see the primary wounds or emotions that are creating the circumstances. God so desires to heal those wounds. Sometimes things are pretty complicated, and sometimes you can get pretty weary of dealing with the same issues over and over again, but it is so worth it and so much healthier in the long run if you can find a good Christian counselor and really work through things.

As the article says,

Marriage based on life in Christ invites us to divorce the lie—an idealized view of our spouse—and embrace reality—two sinful people sharing strengths, weaknesses, joys, and struggles in lifelong commitment. As the Whiteheads describe it, “The challenge is not to keep on loving the person we thought we were marrying, but to love the person we did marry!”

Yep, that’s where the rubber meets the road. When we see our spouse (or ourself) at our worst and consciously choose to work through our issues, instead of thinking the grass is always greener on the other side.

Does any of this make sense? Did I lose you when I started comparing things to dog psychology? I just know what an impact that article made on me and thought I’d post it here to see if others could relate.

P.S. – Don’t worry. My marriage isn’t falling apart. I just know that Tony has stuck with me through some of my worst times this summer when I know that many others would have jumped ship. :)



Ruth Beechick & the Schoolhouse Birthday Bash

 Homeschooling naturally is natural. Don’t work too hard at making it artificially schoolish. -Dr. Ruth Beechick

The Old Schoolhouse Birthday Bash Blog HopToday I am thrilled to share a few questions that I personally got to ask Ruth Beechick as part of the Schoolhouse Birthday Bash Blog Hop. Did you know that The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is officially 10 years old this year? Why yes it is! And they are having 10 days of celebration full of fun giveaways and interviews with the new Family of Columnists on the Homeschooling with Heart blog.  Plus you can download The Curiosity Files 9-pack bundle featuring Professor Ana Lyze as a free birthday gift!

Ruth Beechick, Debbie Strayer

Ruth Beechick & her dear friend, Debbie Strayer

Many of you probably already know Ruth from her It’s Just Common Sense column in The Homeschool Minute e-Newsletter with Debbie Strayer. Maybe you’ve read some of her articles in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine before.

Or maybe you’ve heard about her common sense approach to teaching children from some of your other homeschool friends. (That’s how I first heard about her!) I was stressing about not making progress with one of my boys on something and one of my friends loaned me The Three R’s Series. I felt such freedom after reading those little books. That’s probably where I began my journey as a relaxed homeschooler.

The Three R's by Ruth Beechick

These little books made our homeschool a MUCH happier place!

Ruth is already a regular columnist at The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, but you’ll get to read even more from her as TOS launches their new monthly interactive digital format starting in January 2012. (Woo hoo!)

Dr. Ruth Beechick, a retired educator, began writing for homeschoolers in their “early” days of the 1980s and has happily watched the movement grow. She sees these families as being the strongest part of our society. From her wide knowledge of teaching, she tries to give common sense help and to encourage parents to follow their intuition and not be slaves to published curricula. Her books are available at and from other suppliers.

You can learn more of her story from this 2006 Tribute to Dr. Ruth Beechick on the TOS website.

And books? She’s written a lot of them! She’s a fountain of knowledge. Here’s a basic list:

So, without further ado, I’ll get right to the interview. (But be sure to keep reading. I’ve got an extra giveaway at the end to share with y’all!)

Nancy: Are there any common mistakes that homeschooling parents make when teaching their children to write? How can we avoid those mistakes?

Ruth: The greatest homeschool mistake in teaching writing is to emphasize grammar. Knowledge of grammar does not improve writing. Researches over and over have confirmed this. Actually, children learn much grammar through daily conversation and reading. Grammar courses add some terms like noun and verb, but children already use nouns and verbs correctly, and other parts of speech, too. When a child writes something ungrammatical, just read it aloud and ask him if that’s the way it should sound. Usually he can correct it orally. Then he will be able to correct his writing.

Nancy: Is there a certain age at which you recommend that children learn to read? If not, how can homeschooling parents decide when their children are ready for reading?

Ruth: People wonder when to begin teaching their children to read. But they usually have already begun when they read picture books or other books aloud. Through this reading, the children learn that books tell things, that words are in books. They begin to learn some of the words and letter sounds. “This word that begins with J is Jesus.”  “This word is table. It begins with T like your name Tom.” Consonants help reading more than vowels do. Try reading these lines of consonants and vowels.
Lttl Mss Mufft
St n  tfft
E  e  u  e
Lng  cm  spdr
Nd st dwn bsd r
A i  i u a a

On familiar books, you pause now and then for a child to fill in the next word or phrase. Is this reading? You could call it beginning reading. This is tutoring, the powerful method that homeschoolers use. It is individualized. You teach on-the-spot, or the many-spot teaching that happens naturally.

Sometimes children memorize whole books and can read them to you. Sometimes they read parts. For this, it is best to use real books, not the committee-written textbook readers. Real books are more interesting for the children. They help them grow a large vocabulary, as they are not limited to “grade-level” words as textbooks are.

Nancy: Do you think preschool-aged children should do “formal” school work in order to be ready for kindergarten?

Ruth: How do you help children be ready for kindergarten? This question need not worry homeschoolers. Since you always tutor at the child’s current level, you need not be concerned about schoolish terms like kindergartens or any grades. And your tutoring and parental attention usually bring high levels of learning. It is the main reason that homeschoolers do better than classroom children.

Nancy: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Ruth, and thanks for joining our new TOS Family of Columnists. I really look forward to reading even more of your encouraging words.

Now, are the rest of y’all ready for the big giveaway?

It’s Giveaway Time! (imagine party horns blowing and confetti flying)

Today, we’re giving away two great gifts from TOS. One winner will receive a one-year digital subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and a second winner will receive a digital copy of the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner.

One-Year Digital Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

What do you look for as you homeschool? Motivation? A little encouragement? Perhaps a unit study? Maybe an art activity? Within each issue of The Old Schoolhouse® you’ll find amazing resources, candid interviews with business owners, glimpses into the routines of other homeschools, articles from the experts in homeschooling, as well as up-and-coming innovators helping our days run a little more smoothly. Find them all in our pages along with their insight, expertise, and honesty as we all homeschool together!

Along with your subscription, you’ll receive free access to Teacher’s Toolbox, our exclusive, subscribers-only website packed with daily recipes, “This Day in History” lessons, printables, unit studies, and more!

E-Book: The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner

Jump into a great year with The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner! Erase the frazzled feel of disorganization with the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner and bring order and efficiency to your school year. Packed with relevant articles, clever calendars, useful forms, handy lists and so much more, this planner is the key to meeting your many goals for the 2011-12 school year. We put our heart into the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner so you’ll have more time to put your heart into your home. Click here to view sample pages from the Planner.

To enter, just a leave a comment here by midnight Thursday, October 6, 2011! Winners will be randomly selected from the comments and will be notified via email on October 7th. You can get an additional entry for sharing this post via Facebook, email, or Twitter (handy buttons at the bottom of this entry), or for subscribing to my blog via email (top right corner). Just leave me an extra comment for each of those that you do, m’kay?

Rules: Must be 18 or older to enter and provide a valid email address. TOS employees, contractors, product reviewers, and Crew members are not eligible to enter.

The Homeschool Minute Hits Radio

A few weeks ago Gena shared with me that the American Family Radio wanted to begin airing some 1 minute Homeschool Minute encouragement for their listeners. We were all ecstatic and many on staff quickly began writing brief little practical tips and words of encouragement. Brief being the keyword. Like 40 seconds brief. I can barely say, “Hello” in that amount of time.

Anyway, Gena prayed, practiced her best radio voice, and went for a recording session. Want to hear how they turned out?

Find more encouragement like this on The Homeschool Channel

I feel like a proud parent, y’all. I think these sound wonderful and will be a blessing to homeschoolers who just happen to be listening or for people who might even just be considering homeschooling.

I don’t know what time of day they air, but they are going to put the recordings on bottom of the front page of The Homeschool Channel after they air each one, so you can listen to them there. Or I’m wondering if this little embedded player on my blog is going to update as they add new ones. We’ll see I guess.

Just wanted to share the exciting news!


For My Friends New to the Area

Earlier this month, our homeschool group had our first official meeting of the year. The room was absolutely packed with smiling new faces. I had a lot of fun meeting them and even discovered that a few of them are bloggers!

Jenn’s blog –

Lora’s blog –

Ragsdale Family’s blog –

Now, I have to laugh a bit, especially about Jenn’s Life in Kentucky entry. Like many of the new families to our area, Jenn is a bit freaked out by how many ticks there are here.

I can understand her concern. They certainly are nasty little critters, but I was eager to tell them all about my new favorite product that just happens to keep ticks, mosquitoes, and the such away. It’s Healing Tree’s All Natural Go ‘Way Spray!

Nature's Way Go 'Way Spray

photo by Julie

See, back at the first of the year, my friend Julie posted about how much she loved the products she ordered from Healing Tree Naturals and had a contest to give away a bottle of the Go ‘Way all natural insect repellent.

Since we do live out in the woods, I was thrilled when she let me know that I won.(Yipee!) I grew up just a few hours from here so I thought I knew all about ticks, but I was wrong. I learned a WHOLE lot more about ticks the hard way when I accidentally got into a nest of seed ticks (or some people call them turkey mites). Those things are tiny, like the tip of a pencil, and they can get in the worst spots on your body, and their bites itch, itch, itch.

Yep, they are THAT bad. And they’ll just cover you without you even realizing it. I stopped counting at 50 as I was picking them off one day after we came out of the woods. I’m sorry if that’s too much information, but I just think people should know!

I tend to try and stay away from using many chemicals on my body, and a friend and I had even tried making our own insect repellent just to try and keep the mosquitoes away.

I’m not sure if that’s the exact recipe, but it seems similar at least. And it did really cut down on bug bites. But the problem was that I didn’t have any on-hand the day we went out in the woods. I had tried buying some citronella-based *natural* insect repellent at Wal-Mart, but it was sticky and didn’t seem to help much anyway.

So after my horrific experience with the seed ticks, I was willing to put on some toxic DEET spray if needed to keep that from EVER happening again.

But, after winning the Go ‘Way spray from Healing Tree Naturals, I decided to give it a try this summer. I began spraying it on when I’d go out in the yard and was very pleasantly surprised when I would come back in without ANY bites. The mosquitoes who usually love me and leave huge welps on my skin stayed away, and even though we had a flea problem going on with the cats and dogs, the Go ‘Way spray kept the fleas away from me too. It was a day of celebration!

Plus, it wasn’t stinky or sticky. I was truly surprised by how good it felt on my skin.

So the Go ‘Way Spray is my recommendation for new friends moving to the area. Nobody wants to get eaten up by the bugs, but this is really nice because you don’t have to worry about the harsh chemicals either!

At only $7.95 a bottle, I say buy a few so that you can keep them handy wherever you need them.

Jenn, I’m talking to you. :)



Wanna help a mom out?

After going through such a battle with my health and the fog that surrounded it, I’ve recently been trying to get a grasp on things again financially.

My parents were great role models financially. They were always financially conservative, don’t buy anything unless you can pay cash kind of folks. Tony’s folks were the same way.

Before Tony and I were married we went through pre-marital counseling where we discussed financial issues, objectives, and the envelope system. We had a pretty good grasp on things.

But life throws curve balls sometimes, and we’ve made our fair share of mistakes.

I’ve read Financial Peace and the Total Money Makeover. We understand the concepts, it’s just that life throws you curve balls. The emergency savings account gets wiped out with car repairs. You begin to need prescriptions that not only cancel out your savings, but start putting you into the red. You pay for lots of doctor visits in hopes of getting well. The bills begin to stack up. Now, you can’t even work because you’re barely even coping. Husband already has a second job. The car that you paid to fix, broke again and you couldn’t afford to fix it so you just sold it.

Dave Ramsey would say, “You don’t have a spending problem, you have an income problem.” But hearing that isn’t much help right now. I know his tips on selling things, bartering, etc… But I’m a little jaded to his tone of voice. Sometimes life throws you curve balls and his pat answers aren’t much help.

Through our struggles, what has helped most is understanding friends. Friends who have been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt. They offer suggestions without condemnation or pressure. They are faithful to pray for us and love us through the hard times.

I know my boys have learned a lot as we’ve gone through this season.

However, I’ve been thinking that I’d like the boys to learn some financial advice from more than just the School of Hard Knocks.

Are any of you using a financial curriculum with your kids? I’d love to know which one and if you’ve been happy with it.

I know that Dave Ramsey has a high school curriculum called Foundations in Personal Finance. Of course, I have to laugh that it’s $99.99.  Oh wait, that’s why Dave doesn’t have an income problem. He sells his stuff to people who have income or spending problems, but are trying to do better. (slight note of sarcasm here)

Then I’m familiar with Crown Financial Ministries. I think they were the program with the envelope system our counselor used with us in premarital counseling, and I think we’ve gone through one of their courses at a church before. Always seemed like very sound advice without the flash and attitude of Dave’s program.  However I’m having a harder time finding what I’m looking for on their website. They have a college level program, which would be a whole whopping $40. (Take that, Dave!) They also have The Secret of Handling Money God’s Way designed for ages 8-12, which again would be an affordable $24. (That makes me much happier than $99.)

So, I’m still undecided about which program would be best and am wondering if there are some others out there that I should consider.

Help me out. Let me know what you think.