Category Archives: Homeschool

Mom – Business Owner – Reservist

Lt. Col. Erin Karl
Owner of Analytical Grammar and, Erin lives in Raleigh, N.C., with her husband, two kids, two cats, and the dog. AG was started by her mom, Robin Finley, a public school English teacher for 34 years. Robin passed away in 2015 after a seven-year battle with cancer. Erin now runs the company, serves as a public affairs officer in the Air Force Reserve, cares for her family, and tries to sing as much as an often as anyone will let her. To reach Erin, email her at

I always feel torn.

I’m the mom of two great kids, wife to a man who seriously should be canonized, owner of two small businesses, and a military Reservist. That’s right. Sometimes the civilian hat comes off and the Air Force hat goes on. When that happens, I travel away from my wonderful suburban life to go do something completely different.

First, let me describe things here at home. Our kids are 10 and 12. They attend a wonderful private school near our home. My husband is a defense contractor who works a fairly standard 45-55 hour week, but he’s often in a secure facility, which means he can be hard to reach during the day. I run two curriculum publishing businesses out of my home, and I have one employee: Miss Mary. She not only takes care of inventory and shipping, but she also cleans the house, does the laundry, and watches the kids after school when I’m not able to. I’m totally spoiled.

Now, let me describe the military side of my life. I entered the Air Force in 1998 and spent four years active duty. I’ve been a Reservist ever since and work as a public affairs officer. For the last 18 months I’ve been assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill AFB, Fla., and I’m the public affairs officer and narrator for the SOCOM Para-Commandos, a parachute demonstration team and the only joint military performance team in the United States. My Reserve duty time is spent attending air shows and large sporting events where my team is skydiving. I arrange their media interactions and narrate the show. The team is made up of special operators (Rangers, Green Berets, SEALs, etc.) who are not only fascinating to be around, but they’re really wonderful guys. They’re heroes.

I LOVE my Reserve job. REALLY love it. I joke that it’s my mental health break. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not torn every time I pack my uniforms and leave my family. Here are things that go through my head:

  • Is it wrong to leave them to go have fun at a Reserve job I love?
  • Would I not feel as torn if I didn’t enjoy Reserve duty so much?
  • The kids were sad when I left. Is this the right thing for me to do?

However, here’s the real deal. My husband is awesome with the kids. When I’m gone, they get really quality one-on-one time with him. Mary makes sure he doesn’t have to leave work early, the family is fed, and the house stays picked up. While the kids express sadness when I leave and gladness when I return, I know from Mary and my husband that they’re fine when I’m gone — happy and healthy. So, here is what else goes through my head:

  • The kids are learning to be independent in small chunks when I’m away.
  • My husband and kids are proud that I serve my country and are truly happy for my successful military career.
  • It’s okay for me to enjoy what I do when I’m not with them.

I’ll always feel torn, I think, but I tend to act more on realistic reasons than emotional ones. As moms it’s easy to fall into the trap of completely subjugating our wants, our goals, and our well-being for our families. My reserve duty forces me to take some time (roughly 45-50 days per year in four-to-six day chunks) and focus on what I enjoy, work to attain my goals, and maintain my happiness with fulfilling work outside the home. I’m eternally grateful for both the opportunity to serve and the opportunity to truly enjoy every minute of it.

Weather Science Anyone?

Mari Almon, Director of Advertising for Homeschool Buyers Co-op, lives in central Florida. Married to Steve, they are both thrilled that their two children, Liz and Jon, had the opportunity to graduate high school from home. In her spare time Mari enjoys traveling, hiking, fishing, and perennial gardening. To reach Mari, email her at

Hands-on learning is awesome for those that get bored easily. The “what if” and “I wonder” questions get answered naturally as one works through the activity. Hands-on activities can reinforce a subject or a lesson you already plan to teach or serve as fun, “teachable moments.” As the month of May has arrived, the study of weather becomes very appropriate and interesting.

While you and your children are doing these activities, remember to, in the spirit of real science, ask your children to journal their experiences. Keeping a science journal encourages children to record and reflect on inquiry-based observations, activities, investigations, and experiments. Journals are also an excellent way for children to communicate their understanding of activities and concepts.

There are so many excellent ideas for how to study weather hands-on. Rather than give you one or two written out ideas, I have given you the links to several good projects on other sites where you will find even more. Hopefully, these ideas will help you and your children’s interest in weather science explode:

Have fun and make memories.

Mother’s Day

You can find out more about Todd, Debbie, his eight children, their RV, and ministry at

OK, I’m running short on time so let me cut to the chase. Dad, this article is for you. Mother’s Day is this Sunday! Now if your kids are like most kids, then that thought hasn’t even entered their little, ungrateful minds yet. So it’s your job to ‘make it happen.’

Yes, I know that your wife is not YOUR mother. But, she is the mother of YOUR children and needs to be honored by her children and YOU. Here’s the plan: stop by the card shop on the way home from work today or tomorrow and pick out a card telling your wife how much you appreciate her.

Then call the local florist and order a corsage for her to wear to church on Sunday (you’ll need to pick it up before then). Next, have the kids make a banner or card telling your wife how much they need and love her.

Finally, plan to eat out on Mother’s Day Sunday. Don’t even think about letting her go home and cook lunch. Pick her favorite restaurant, do a picnic in the park (you do all the work), or pick up some finger lickin’ good chicken on the way home.

Oh, and one more thing… make sure that you hold your wife tight, tell her how you’re the most blessed man on earth to have such a great wife… and then don’t forget to call YOUR mother and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.

Have a Mother’s Day Adventure,


PS – Mom, just a little heads up: don’t expect all the above from your husband or children. Mothering is a thankless job. But HEAR THIS: although your family may not acknowledge it, you are doing an incredible job and are impacting the world every day. Even if you spend most of your days just getting by, you have spent them well… and although they may not say it, they appreciate you so much. So, from this well-meaning dad who often forgets to tell HIS bride how much he loves her, Happy Mother’s Day.

PPS – Here’s your Mother’s Day gift from me: I’ll give you FREE shipping on my favorite homeschooling CD “This We Believe.” (It only costs $6.) This might be the best gift you get all year. Use this code at check out – momsdaycd

Get those Kids into the Garden!

Award-winning author D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children.
It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside,
and get digging.

Now that it’s spring, it’s time to get those kids outside (and into the garden). You won’t have to pull or push them. You won’t have to bribe or cajole them. Seriously! Kids LOVE to garden. And they make great “weed warriors.” We’re not just talking boys here, but girls, too. This is the twenty-first century, you know. Equal opportunities abound!

Which means, weeding, watering, feeding, plucking, and picking—as in harvest; their absolute hands-down favorite time in the garden. Except of course when there are critters involved. Then the wildlife commands a child’s full and utmost attention. Well, critters are interesting. Even the slimy ones. Okay. Especially the slimy ones.

And while you understand the value of entertainment in facilitating any chore, the real trick is pulling the wee ones away from the wriggly beasts and back to the business of gardening. I’m confident you’ll succeed. After all, you know their hot button (which comes in handy during negotiations!).

As does their energy. And if you hand a child their very own pair of gloves, perhaps include a shovel and bucket then point to the industrious bee hovering about the blossoms, why, you’ll have them clearing that garden of weeds and on their way to harvest in no time!

Afterward, why not create corn husk dolls together, make your very own fruit preserves, and talk about the beautiful ladybug you spotted on a vine and how she contributes to the garden? You can even teach your child the value of sustainable gardening by encouraging him or her to save the seeds from their harvest. Either way, your backyard garden can be a wonderful source of quality time with your children.

With summer approaching, invite your kids to think of ways they can demonstrate their appreciation for their teachers using produce from their garden. The same way moms prefer a gift of artwork over diamonds on Mother’s Day, teachers enjoy receiving gifts from the heart. Besides, they have nowhere to put another “World’s Best Teacher” inscribed paperweight (though they will properly smile and coo over the gift, nonetheless).

Creativity and children go hand-in-hand with nature and gardening. And once they’re bitten by the “bug” (read: “joy of gardening” bug and not one of those icky, black ones), they’ll clamor to plant again next season. It’s worth a try, anyway. I don’t know about you, but after a while, shelling beans rubs my fingers raw. But kids? Put them in front of their favorite television show and you’ll have a basket of freshly-shelled beans in no time! I do love starting new traditions. For more fun things to do with kids in the garden, visit my website:

8 Activities to Help Develop your Child’s Entrepreneurial Mind

Deb Maubach started homeschooling her 4 entrepreneurs in 1983 before homeschooling was popular and founded Homeschool Entrepreneur in 2006 before entrepreneurial education was popular, too. She’s also considering Greenland for retirement in the future before it becomes popular.

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle; a way of thinking. The very best way to teach your child the ways of the entrepreneur lifestyle is to help them learn to be “business minded.” Here are a few ideas on how to get started:

  1. Make a list of extra chores that need to be done at home. Let them negotiate or bid on how much they will charge to do the job. Be sure to detail exactly what your expectations are for the job like what you want done and a time frame you would like it finished.
  1. Show them how to figure out the cost of a baked item they would like to sell. Make sure you have a chart of units of measure handy!
  1. Ask your neighbors or family if your child can sell an item they create at their next yard sale. It could be anything from homemade jam, bread or cookies to handmade crafts like jewelry.
  1. Give them a household item (packaged foods or toiletries work well) and tell them to create a commercial to sell that item. No copying commercials seen on TV for that item! Video tape it and let them watch it later.
  1. Younger children really enjoy setting up their own ‘store’ to sell items from their toy box. If they don’t have a play cash register, you could create something with play money from a game. Family members can ‘shop’ for items… but they inevitably will want it all back.
  1. Watch one of the many entrepreneurial shows found on TV right now. The Profit is excellent as well as the well-known Shark Tank. Watching it with them and discussing how it could apply to something they have thought about doing can reveal parts of their personality you may not know were there!
  1. Stay alert for complaints that you could ask them to create a solution for. The essence of entrepreneurial thinking is recognizing a problem and creating a profitable solution. Abbey Fleck from St. Paul, Minnesota, was only 8 years old when she created Makin’ Bacon, a microwavable bacon cooking plate. She had no idea it would be worth millions!
  1. Do you have a formidable garden? Let your child set up their own produce stand or sell extra produce door-to-door.

When Warren Buffett was interviewed about his series of videos for kids, The Secret Millionaires Club, he was quoted as saying:

There was a study many years ago questioning how to predict business success later in life. The answer to the study was the age you started your first business impacted how successful you were later in life. Teaching kids sound financial habits at an early age gives all kids the opportunity to be successful when they are an adult.


There are countless ideas to be found online simply by googling ‘business ideas for young entrepreneurs’. Here is one list to get you started:

Ideas for Teaching Entrepreneurship to your Children

Teaching entrepreneurship to a child with a disability is not much different than teaching it to any other child. Only you know the capabilities of your child. You can take any of these ideas and adapt them to your child’s ability and your family schedule. The most important thing to remember is to make it… Read More

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Happy Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (April 26th). I’m guessing this one caught you by surprise since there are no trees, eggs, or cakes to decorate. But if you think about it… it’s not a bad day to celebrate. Now I could GUILT you into taking your child to work with you… Read More

Self-esteem and Dyslexia

Children with dyslexia may have low self-esteem, due to finding everything so hard. Not only do they have trouble reading and spelling and writing, but they probably also have poor organizational skills, poor working memory and slow processing. These can all make life very difficult. Dyslexics don’t have to have low self-esteem. Self-esteem comes from… Read More

Create a “love to learn” environment in your home.

It sounds like a mystery, doesn’t it? It seems quite unattainable but it’s really not. Just relax and be real. Keeping up with what your friends and neighbors are studying isn’t important. Just learn what works for your child – that is all that’s important. Figure out what moves them. Try lots of different curriculums… Read More