Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Home School Formula (if there were one)

Every year, families who want to start the rewarding but scary journey of home schooling ask, how do I do this? Life would be so much easier if raising kids had a formula, like a geometry problem. 

4[2(math) + 3(reading) - 1(discipline)] x 7(writing + spelling) + 4[science - chores] = (healthy + happy + perfect + smart) child.

We help each other out, we share tips and tricks, we disciple and support and encourage each other through community, but we are raising children, not programming a computer. That's one of the reasons we home school!

Take a minute to think about some of the famous folks who've been home schooled over the years. (For a jump-start, take a look at this list: Ten Homeschooled Celebrities). Then think about the folks you know who home school. Sometimes they learn from their mom. Sometimes Dad. Sometimes both. Sometimes neither. Sometimes they have behavioral problems. Sometimes they travel a lot. Sometimes they learn with other children, sometimes alone. 

I think at some point we are all afraid that we're messing up our children: we're leaving something out; we're doing something out of order. And we all do make mistakes: even 1 Smart Home Schoolers are human! But it's a little arrogant to think that we (God's children) can ruin God's plan for our children (His children). 

What brings all the fear back to a manageable level is something that can be so hard to remember: God is on His throne. He has entrusted us with the mammoth task of raising our little ones to know Him, but He never leaves us alone to do it. So let's try that again.

Who is on His throne? --God
Where is God? --On His throne

Now it's your turn: repeat until this truth is learned. After all, our kids aren't the only ones whose brains need training...

Monday, April 27, 2009

1 Smart Shopper 4/27/09

Get your week off to a smart start with more coupon websites from 1 Smart Shopper!

Mainly stores
Many different coupon opportunities—I think this is best
Purina also gives a $1.00 donation, so please remember Animal Advocates of Moore County 28374. Thanks!

Good luck, and you can do it! You're 1 Smart Shopper!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 4-22-09

This week's Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio was the last show this spring. I'm starting my busy travel season, and it's also a good time to spend time with family outside and on vacation and traveling. 

I want to thank all my listeners for joining me this spring on my search for intelligent life. I'd just encourage you to keep doing what you're doing; the Lord has given us all so many opportunities to find new ways to enjoy Him and His creation through each other.

In the meantime, DO keep checking back with 1 Smart Mama on Blog Talk Radio ( this summer for special guests, and of course, check this blog for more updates and fun ideas to think and laugh about with your family.

Love, Leigh

If you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 4/22/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Andrew Kern." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now). 

  • To visit the CiRCE Institute and find out more about classical education, visit their website, Also visit their blog, Quiddity CiRCE
  • To purchase Mr. Kern's writing program The Lost Tools of Writing, visit the CC Bookstore.
  • Don't miss the 2009 CiRCE Institute National Conference: A Contemplation of Nature. The conference will be July 23-25, 2009 in Concord, NC. Leigh will be speaking, as will Andrew Pudewa, Andrew Kern, and other great educators. Register here by May 1 for special savings. Since the conference will be capped at 100 participants, register now to save your space!
  • To get in the right mindset before the conference, consider reading C.S. Lewis's Abolition of Man as a counterpoint to Darwin's Origin of Species while you think about the nature of God, man, and the world.

  • You can do it!

    Andrew Kern with Leigh on Blog Talk Radio

    This week's guest (last one for the spring!) on Leigh! for Lunch has been Andrew Kern, president and founder of the CiRCE Institute for classical education.

    He graduated from Concordia University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he was mentored by Dr. Gene Edward Veith and graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Arts. Shortly afterward, Dr. Veith and Andrew co-authored the best-selling Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America, now in its second edition. 

    Andrew has been directly involved in the establishment of three classical Christian schools, has trained teachers in over 50 schools since 1996, has consulted with still more on institutional development and start-up, and has been directing the CiRCE Institute full time since the summer of 2000. 

    Andrew is married to Karen. They are the parents of three boys and two girls: David, Matthew, Katerina, Larissa, and Andrew.

    To listen to the archive of this show, visit or click here to go directly to the show.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    1 Smart Shopper Joins the Ranks

    Folks these days are going through some rough times, and finding little ways to save money can make a big difference. At 1 Smart Mama, I'd like to help. My friend Michele Lupkas is a great saver. In fact, she's 1 Smart Shopper

    From now on, she'll be stopping in at 1 Smart Mama pretty regularly to share her favorite saving tips and coupons with all the other 1 Smart Mamas and Dads out there.

    You'll see the new posts pop up with the logo below, or you can click on the post category "1 Smart Shopper" about halfway down the sidebar to see all her posts at once. 

    Are you 1 Smart Shopper too? Feel free to post your own savings, coupon, and smart shopping tips in the comments, or link to your own blogs!

    Hope you enjoy!

    How to get $100 worth of groceries for 25 cents

    You can cut your grocery bill in half when you know how to use coupons and store promotions along with sale prices on your favorite items. 

    For a family of four, that may be a savings of $100 per week or as much as $5,000 per year. 

    Here's a great site to get you started: Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson reveals her top five tips to cut your grocery bill in half:

    Good luck, and you can do it! You're 1 Smart Shopper!

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Leigh's Thesis: Index of Posts

    For the last two years, I've been doing graduate work with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I completed my doctoral thesis this spring, and now I'm inviting you to join me in pondering the big truths behind why we educate and why we parent the way we do.

    This is an index for my thesis as I post it in sections, in order, so you can go back and look at or comment on older sections you missed. Afterward, I'll try to make the whole thing available on the CC website (

    21. Chapter 3: Literature Review (1) - Formative Thoughts
    23. Chapter 3: Literature Review (4) - Children's Literature
    25. Chapter 3: Literature Review (6) - History of Christian Academies
    26. Chapter 3: Literature Review (7) - Puritan Fathers
    27. Chapter 3: Literature Review (8) - Founding Fathers
    32. Chapter 3: Literature Review (13) - Modern Classical Leaders
    33. Chapter 3: Literature Review (14) - Dominic O'Brien
    34. Chapter 3: Literature Review (15) - Technology/Globalism

    65. A Final Note to Bloggers

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Tax Day Tea Parties

    Happy April 15th! Instead of me talking today on Leigh! for Lunch (back next week with another great conversation - stay tuned for details), why don't you all take over this week's conversation?

    It's been interesting to me to follow the news about the "tea party" protests going on around the country, especially today, tax day. These protests hearken back to the 1773 Boston Tea Party in a public protest against tax-and-spend government.

    Here are a couple of links with more information and different viewpoints. 

    Tea Parties a Test of Conservative Online Organizing, from the Washington Post

    Are any of you out in blogger land involved in this experiment? Will you attend? If so, what does it mean to you? If not, what do you think of it? Is the Boston Tea Party the most effective historical parallel? Why or why not? 

    Go! - just keep comments respectful, please.

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    He is Risen!

    "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said."

    The Resurrection - Rembrandt
    Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Wounded For Our Transgressions

    "He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - every one - to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all..."  

    Isaiah 53
    Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    A Taxing Time of Year

    It's no secret: April 15th is right around the corner. Doing my taxes this year (yes, they're done!) reminded me that I'm always learning, even when I don't realize it. 

    Let me tell you, even with my fairly straightforward tax forms, the grammar of the tax code takes a while to figure out. What counts as a deduction? What are "educational expenses"? What is the difference between earnings and income?

    Then comes the dialectic stage: so if my earnings are W dollars, placing me in X bracket, and Y dollars were withheld from my paychecks, I owe Z dollars to the federal government. 

    That part of the process is not as much fun. 

    As for rhetoric, using my knowledge to, say, help someone else with their taxes, I'm certainly not there yet, but tax preparers and the creators of TurboTax use that skill daily. Some of you parents with older children may have gotten to practice this year. 

    Do you talk with your children about tax season? If so, what do you emphasize? 

    (Stress is the first word that comes to my mind, followed closely by reform.)

    And yet I couldn't help following a link to this educational site from the IRS with a matching game for tax vocabulary (I passed!). It has some great informational links and activities. And this page on International English has a fascinating history of the word "tax" in English.

    That's one of the downfalls of loving learning, I suppose; you just can't stop, even on April 15th... 

    ...because everyday events can be classical opportunities too... 

    FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 4-8-09

    If you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 4/8/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Art Reed." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

  • Next week (Wed. April 15), there will be no Blog Talk Radio for the Easter holidays. Enjoy celebrating with family and friends, and stay tuned for information about the following week's show (April 22). 
  • Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Don't Forget! Leigh & Art Reed talk Saxon Math

    Don't forget to listen to Blog Talk Radio tomorrow (Wed, April 8) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Art Reed, author of a guide to Saxon Math. Click here to go directly to the show.

    Register as a "friend" to be eligible for prizes!

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Learn to Laugh through Math

    Quick: what's a 15% gratuity on a bill of $18.75?*

    Did you whip out your cell phone? Get an instant headache? If so, you're not alone.

    The odds in a lottery. The stock market report. Taxes as a percentage of income. Tithing. Tipping at a restaurant. Calculating risk and reward in investment.

    We are surrounded by numbers; there's no question that they're important. But while we work intentionally to make reading a habit and a joy for our children, we all too often neglect to give the same care to mathematics. 

    And so we make math a chore, something "hard" (and by that we mean unpleasant), a workbook to make it through instead of a life skill to practice. 

    Let's not forget that God is Lord of numbers as well as words. (See Leviticus 27:27-32 for an example of fractions and Genesis 5:3-5 for addition.)

    If you struggle with math and teaching it to your children, or if you love it, I invite you to tune in to Blog Talk Radio this Wednesday (April 8) at noon EST for Leigh! for Lunch. Join me as I talk to Art Reed about effective ways to teach math using the popular math series Saxon Math

    Born in Chicago, Mr. Reed spent 27 years in the U.S. Army before pursuing a career in mathematics and teaching. 

    He has taught mathematics at the university level, and before that, he taught for 12 years at a rural high school in Oklahoma. In each case, he used Saxon Math to improve test scores and achievement levels. He has been offering curriculum advice to home schoolers for the past 9 years and is known for his practical and valuable assistance, especially with Saxon Math. 

    He now lives in Oklahoma with his wife of more than 40 years, Judy. They have 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren.

    Mr. Reed is the author of Using John Saxon's Math Books, a companion for Saxon books. His book answers questions like:
    • Do Saxon® math books still offer an excellent math curriculum?
    • Do I need to buy the new editions?
    • How do I record academic credits?
    • Expensive graphing calculator vs. the inexpensive scientific calculator -- which is better?
    • What are the similarities and differences between Math 87 and Algebra 1/2?
    Want to know his answers? Get one step ahead - ask him yourself!! Call in or chat online during the show this Wednesday at noon, or e-mail in your questions ahead of time.

    Don't forget to register as a friend to be eligible for weekly prizes!

    *The answer is approximately $2.81 or $2.82, depending on when you round.

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Stepping on History

    In the classical model, one of the skills emphasized is using primary sources rather than textbooks for information. In history, primary sources have enormous impact. This week, I was in Boston to visit a graduate program... 

    Boston. History. Primary sources. I sense a theme.

    One day, in between question-and-answer sessions and visiting classes, I took to the streets of Boston to see, touch, and step on some of our nation's history.

    Bunker Hill, site of a 1775 Revolutionary War battle, looks very different today. Tall, pristine condominiums sit edge to edge along the roads up the hill. At the top is a 221-foot obelisk with stairs spiraling up to a lookout. 294 steps later, you find (besides a stitch in your side) a 360-degree view of Boston. 

    Now imagine standing on that same hill, a little lower, but with fewer obstructions of view, and waiting "to see the whites of their eyes." 

    "One if by land, and two if by sea; and I on the opposite shore will be..." April 18, 1775. The Old North Church, the stage for that night's drama, is nestled in the midst of close-set brick buildings on Boston's north end. Inside are the box pews used by prominent members of the colonial community. 

    A giant statue of Paul Revere looms in a brick courtyard on one side, but from the other, my first impression was of a house of God where people of Boston still meet to worship. 

    What are some of your favorite experiences of walking through (touching? seeing?) history? 

    I am reminded often that even when traveling long distances isn't feasible, every town has a history, and most of the time, people who remember it. 

    In small steps, I think these are the things we can do to prevent history being relegated to textbooks that are more appropriate for door stops than bedtime stories. What do you think?

    ...because everyday events can be classical opportunities too... 

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    The Joke's On Us

    Happy April Fool's Day! and Happy Birthday to Leigh! (not a joke)

    Although life with kids can feel like a perpetual April Fool's day, always on the lookout for the next prank, there's something special about pulling a good one on the day itself.

    In the midst of April 1 events ranging from Google's Autopilot automated email response system to the more traditional plastic wrap-, eating utensil-, or flamingo-related tricks, what are some of your favorite April Fool's memories?

    Did you pull off a good prank this year? Royally fall for one? Remember a brilliant trick from years past? 

    Let's start the stories rolling... (and alert each other to jokes we might run into this year or next, so you can be smart mamas and dads together and head them off - or fool them first!)

    FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 4-1-09

    In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 4/1/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Pam Lopes." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now). 

  • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (April 8) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Art Reed. Mr. Reed is the author of Using John Saxon's Math Books, a companion for the popular math series Saxon Math. Join Leigh and Mr. Reed for a conversation about effective ways to teach math using Saxon.
  • TODAY on Blog Talk Radio: Pam Lopes

    Sorry for the late notice, but join me today, Wednesday April 1 at 12 EST, on Blog Talk Radio to chat with Pam Lopes, an amazing Smart Mama and Challenge A Program Manager with CC. (Click here to go directly to the show).

    Pam lives in Fredericksburg, VA with her husband, Chris, and their three children. She was raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After a year in television, she enjoyed a career in Christian radio as an announcer and program director for 8 years before she married. 

    Pam joined CC in 2003 with two other families in Fredericksburg to establish the FIRST Virginia CC community. She is part of the CC Audio Team and has voice-recorded and produced the Memory Work CDs for Cycles 1-3. Pam has been a Foundations Tutor and Director, an Essentials tutor, and a Challenge A Director. Last year, Pam became part of the Program Manager Team as the PM for Challenge A. 

    Passionate about home-based education, Pam looks forward to teaching her children through high school as a member of a CC community. One day she hopes to achieve a degree in Biblical Counseling. 

    Last summer, Pam was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been on a journey of recovery and healing. She has been through months of chemotherapy and is now having radiation treatments. Her prognosis is good and she looks forward to celebrating God's goodness with her family and friends once her treatments are completed. She desires to give glory to God for His faithful provision during this trial. Pam sees this journey as ordained by the Lord to teach and discipline her, but also to show her the immeasurable depths of God's love and forgiveness.

    I hope you'll join us on Blog Talk Radio to connect with Pam through your own stories of faith, trial, and healing.