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If you're like most of my readers, you're committed to your family and creating the best home life possible. But the truth is, if you've given up one income to homeschool your kids, you may be struggling to make ends meet. That's why I wrote this special report, The 9 Best Business Ideas for Homeschool Moms, in which I help you design the best business to complement your family's goals. There's only one way to get it—by subscribing to my weekly blog updates here:
 
 

Home Business

Follow along and I’ll show you how!

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It’s a new year and time for a new project. I am ready to write a new book!

Do you have a book rolling around in your brain that you would like to get out onto paper this year? Follow along with me on my journey and by this time next year, you should have in your hands (or more likely, on your computer) a complete manuscript ready for publication. Sound like fun? It is, but it’s also hard work. But you can do it!

Let’s get started… (ready? then roll up your sleeves!)

The first thing we need to get out of the way is scheduling a time to write. I mean, let’s face it, if you are like me, you have many demands on your time, several people that need you all day long, a house that doesn’t clean itself and cupboards that continually need to be refilled with trips to the grocery store.

And no, we are not going to write in the bathroom with the door locked and the shower running!

It’s time to take a hard look at your schedule. What do you spend time doing that doesn’t really need to be done? Um, Candy Crush? Exactly, those little time-suckers are the kinds of things I am talking about… the modern, young to middle-aged woman’s acceptable addiction. This is going to sound cruel, but trust me, I’m doing you a favor… Delete those addictive apps from your device! Just do it now while you are feeling strong. Besides these are the kinds of games (as fun as they are) that take more time than you want to give and more money than you want to spend. Get rid of Candy Crush! Or Facebook. Or Pinterest (ouch). Or whatever your little habit may be.

Second, look at how you spend your evenings and your mornings. I’d like to make a case that the ABSOLUTE BEST time to write is between the lovely hours of 5 and 7… AM! I’m serious and this is coming from a very NON-morning person. Read my 2-part blog posts on how I became a morning person last year after being a NIGHT person for 45 YEARS!

Becoming a Morning Person, Part 1

Becoming a Morning Person, Part 2

Okay, I think this is enough to think about for now. Here’s your assignment for the week:

1. Work hard at retiring early so that 5am feels wonderful, not dreadful.

2. Start writing during the early morning hours. Don’t worry about organization just yet. Write down what you want to write about. Write down what you think you know and what you think will require some research.

Next week, we are going to break down our projects into bite-sized chunks and begin tackling this project in earnest. For now, just get used to some new routines. If the blank page is intimidating you, then spend your lovely, lonely morning hours reading the Bible (or an extra chapter or two than you usually do) and praying/meditating. Write out a short to-do list for the day, brew up a pot of coffee for you and your hubby, or pick up that book that you wanted to read last night, but didn’t because you determined to go to bed early.

And I’ll see you back here next week as we break down your book idea into manageable parts to tackle in earnest.

Question: Are you ready to join me and say to the world next year that YOU ARE AN AUTHOR?

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This past September, we had the privilege of publishing our first magazine. While we have produced books, ebooks, maps, timelines, apps and courses, we had never published a magazine. The learning curve was somewhat steep, but it was fun to learn the process and figure out how to get ourselves on a schedule so that we can consistently publish content each and every month.

The magazine we decided to publish is called Quest Magazine: The Ultimate Way for Kids to Learn History. It is a magazine for kids and families to learn and enjoy history together. It’s interactive too, which makes it even more fun for the kids. Currently it is published exclusively on Apple’s Newsstand, but next month we will be launching the Android version (and the crowd cheers!).

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quest-magazine-ultimate-way/id691304628

Quest-ad-chalkboard

And here’s the incredible part – last month Quest Magazine reached #1 in the app store in its category. How exciting that was for us!

Now, we have the option to publish a second magazine. We aren’t sure which direction to go. A companion magazine to Quest covering the subject of science would be nice. Maybe something like this… Knowledge Magazine: Family Science from a Christian Worldview.

However, we also have a passion for small business. I mean really small, like “micro” business. You know, the kind of business that you can (should) start from home and grow as you have the time and money. It’s a backward concept in today’s world where new start-ups pitch ideas to investors, get large amounts of funding and then start big. These businesses are either wildly successful or crash hard.

We believe in starting a business because it promotes the kind of lifestyle you want to enjoy at this time in your life, rather than waiting until you retire. Businesses that allow you to spend time with your family while you still have kids at home. Businesses that start small, in a spare room or garage, with little to no debt are a joy to work in. They grow as they succeed, expanding from a solo entrepreneur to a virtual team who all work remotely and live satisfying lives free from long commutes, angry bosses and strict office hours. These are the kinds of businesses we love to help people start and grow.

So, another possibility for our second magazine would be to provide articles on this theme. It could be general for all microbusiness owners or geared especially toward women. Women are starting businesses at a faster rate than men and yet most business magazines are written primarily for a male audience.

Frankly, I devour business magazines. I just love them! But it would be fun to provide a science magazine for families too, which leaves us undecided. So, would you please chime in if you have an opinion? Here are the three choices at this time:

mag-ideas

So please use the form above to vote on the topic of our next mag and leave us any ideas you would like for us to consider in the comment box below. Thank you!

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What if the government were to reach into the food arena and develop Common Breakfast. Let’s imagine for a moment… (Post by Rob Shearer, full article on his blog here.)

Suppose that the federal government decided to over-reach and do something illogical about the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Bear with me while I set up the scenario.

Because it’s “for the children,” the Department of Health announces a sweeping program to require a national, standardized breakfast menu. Frosted flakes, cocoa puffs, and honey nuts are all out. All children, under the age of 18 will be required to have a nutritious breakfast using only items from a federally mandated and approved list of foods. Muesli & granola are in. Fruit and yogurt are in. Everything else, not so much. And suppose further that the federal bureaucracy came up with some obnoxious and intrusive schemes to monitor and verify what all of our [ahem, excuse me, THEIR] little darlings were eating for breakfast.

There would of course, be a predictable outrage from parents (and probably teen-agers, if not toddlers). The federal government would be denounced for taking liberties with the constitution. There would be rallies denouncing the Common Breakfast Scheme. The idea of enlarging the federal government and allowing its intrusion into suburban kitchens would be anathema.

Read the rest of Rob’s article here.

Question: What’s wrong with this scenario, in your opinion? (If you do not see the comment box below, click on the blog title above, then scroll below for the comment box.)

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Does it seem ironic to you that this geography enthusiast (moi!) has barely stepped out of the country? Yes, I have been to Tijuana, Mexico and British Columbia, but not too many miles outside of my own country border. I have spent the last twelve years of my life writing about other places and other time periods, helping families to look outside of their own walls, their own borders.

God has created a marvelous earth and beautiful people in every corner of our globe. I love sharing about these places with you. I have finished writing the first draft of the next volume in the Child’s Geography series, which Ann Voskamp began several years ago. We are excited to bring volume 3 to life in early summer. It will cover many of the Balkan countries (Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Slovenia, Italy and Malta – the Classical World of Ancient times. It will be a fitting sequel to the Holy Land. Take a peek at the cover:

We’ve had several parents proof read the text for us. Here are some of the comments we are receiving:

Continue reading The World is a Book…

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Maybe it was a knee-jerk reaction. I don’t know. I did what I was asked to do… post our view on Common Core Standards. When your inbox becomes filled with people asking where your company stands on an issue that you haven’t had a chance to fully research, you start doing your research. When you post on your blog where you do stand after doing said research and your character is attacked both on your blog and on social media sites, you write a comments policy and ask that guests kindly read it before commenting.

This blog post is much less reactive. I hope. This post comes out of a brain that has had time and space to assimilate the information on Common Core Standards and arrive at some conclusions. I hope that we can discuss this rationally and from the same “side” so to speak.

I speak for myself, Terri Johnson. Yes, I am the face of Knowledge Quest, Inc. and represent the company. But companies don’t have opinions (they have policies). People do. Here’s mine…

Common Core Standards are dangerous. They are dangerous not because they are standards (we’ve had various state standards for years) but because they are mandated from the federal government. Education is supposed to be the jurisdiction of the state and supervised from the state and local levels. The Federal Government should stay out (much like health care, but that is a whole ‘nother beast!). The scary part is that 45 states have already bought into this national control – hook, line and sinker. The state adoption of these standards is where the battleground should be. Here is a helpful video series to help you understand the issue at hand and our freedoms that are at stake:

As an aside, some well-intentioned homeschooling parents have decided to find out how their favorite curriculum publishers line up against these standards. A list has been drawn up and posted online. Parents are choosing their resources for next year based on this list, which really doesn’t tell you much of anything as alignment is easy because standards are low. However, alignment to Common Core Standards (CCS) is not the critical issue. State adoption of these standards is the issue. Currently, home and private schools are not regulated by the CCS. But they may be in the future. CCS needs to be stopped at the state level.

The best way to fight this battle is to contact your governor and state leaders. Send them this link to the video above – http://youtu.be/coRNJluF2O4. Sign petitions. Educate your friends, especially those who have children in the public schools. We are losing our freedoms in this country, one piece at a time, by a crafty federal government. This battle is worth our fight.

As far as your favorite curriculum is concerned, buy the materials that work the best for your family – quality materials with high standards, effective methods and sound worldview. Most of the curricula you are considering probably far exceeds the Common Core Standards anyway.

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I received an email on March 11 from the founder of the newly formed Education Freedom Coalition asking if Knowledge Quest has already aligned, or plans to align, our materials with the Common Core Standards. The email was forceful in tone and the writer deliberately stated that any reply I gave would be shared on Facebook and on a new website that was created for this purpose – identifying homeschool curriculum publishers that have aligned or not aligned with the standards.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to speak my own mind, rather than having it shared “for me” by a 3rd party. In this case, I was not given the choice… any response I made for our company would be shared. It felt like I was being backed into a corner with only one way out – say what they (the coalition) wanted me to say. The funny thing is… even though I agree (in content, not in tone) with their stance on the issue, I didn’t like the approach or the ramifications:

a. Reply that KQ is not aligned and will never align – appease a crowd, but put KQ at risk if standards become mandatory in the future (they are not required of private schools and homeschools at this time, thank goodness!) We would either have to 1. align and go back on our word; or 2. go out of business.

b. Reply that KQ is aligned (most homeschool curriculum publishers meet and exceed standards because the standards aren’t that high and are quite vague) – risk becoming boycotted by the very customers it loves to serve. We love what we do and we love those we serve. It is an absolute joy to serve the homeschooling community!

c. Not reply – be listed as a “nonresponsive” company that is indifferent to the concerns of customers. We want to be anything but unresponsive and indifferent, especially when it comes to important matters of government control over education.

I like the whole messy situation even less now that I have replied to the email!

I stated that we would rather not be “listed” on a 3rd party site, but answer parents individually as they have questions. This reply was taken to assume (strong emphasis on the word assume, because apparently, by this coalition, one is guilty before proven innocent) that Knowledge Quest would prefer to ride the fence, stay politically neutral, and reply differently to parents depending on what they would like to hear.

Really? Both our integrity and our honesty have been brought into question, just because we said we would rather not be “listed” on a 3rd party site. Oh my, what have we come to?

We are happy to talk with anyone about this who has concerns. Standards implemented by the government affect educational freedom, especially standards mandated from the federal level. However, these Common Core Standards do not apply to private or homeschools currently. Knowledge Quest’s materials are not being forced to align to any standards at this time, which means that we will do what we have always done – provide the best resources available for history and geography regardless of what the public schools are doing. Frankly, we aren’t that interested in what the public schools are doing. We are excited about the materials that curriculum providers have made available for homeschooling families!

There was another set of standards for social studies in place before Common Core. They were perhaps even more generalized, but share these traits in common with Common Core – vague and therefore hard to implement.

We have no reason to update any of our materials at this time to align with standards that aren’t required for homeschool families. And we will continue to love the companies we love, whether they align to these standards or not. We choose our curricula based on the quality, worldview and method of the materials produced, not by a list.

The cornering, accusing and pigeonholing of curriculum providers need to stop. Homeschool curriculum providers should not be on trial over this issue. They are not the ones implementing the standards. The federal government is issuing the standards that the states choose to adopt (45 states have!). We can be thankful for the educational freedom that we currently have and the large variety of curricula that we have to choose from at this time. Let’s join together in prayer that it continues! It may change down the road the more the federal government continues to reach into areas it has no jurisdiction over. Let’s get out of the courtroom and back to the couch for a great read-aloud. Or, if you would rather stay in the courtroom, find the right one. This isn’t it.

The issue at hand is not whether a specific curriculum aligns or doesn’t align with Common Core Standards; the issue is the overstepping of the Federal Government into the arena of education, which should be handled at the state and local level.

Read Part 2 here.

Question: Um, now what do you think?

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This graceful woman holding the baby, drinking coffee, checking email and helping with schoolwork is not me. I am not really sure, actually, if she is real or myth. Because I am definitely not that stereotypical woman who can multi-task well. In fact, when I do, I usually make a big mess of something.

If I talk on the phone while making dinner, I will either mix the ingredients in wrong OR burn the chow, neither outcome very well appreciated by my family. Continue reading Multi-Tasking vs. Time-Blocking

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Are you a parent? A spouse? An employee? Then you wear many hats, meaning that you play several different roles in the lives of your family members and the community around you. And wearing many hats means that you do a lot of juggling throughout the day. Of course, juggling implies that we sometimes drop some balls. That’s normal. It’s part of being human, fallible creatures.  Here are just a few of the many hats that I wear (and some of the balls that I drop):

Continue reading Wearing Many Hats

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While yesterday’s post was rather negative, it is true that 9 out of 10 New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure. There is a science explaining this phenomena that you can read about here on Buffer. This is a fascinating blog post, so I hope that you will read it.

Am I advocating that we do not attempt change in our lives? No! Certainly not! Striving for improvement is part of being human. We crave success in our work, finances and relationships. We fall prey to sadness or depression when we do not succeed in these areas. Check out this info-graphic on what traits and habits contribute to our success:

However, while odds may be terribly against New Year’s resolutions, the fact remains that 10% of those that resolve to make a change are successful, whether it is intentional or accidental. Let’s examine what makes a resolution stick. Continue reading 3 Keys to Unlocking Real Change

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