Raising Risk Takers

Loved doing this post!


Children are born with an innate curiosity that leads them to take risks.

Then, we as parents, spend the better part of 18 years stomping that curiosity right out of them.

While this is a good idea to a point {who really wants their kid to stick their head inside an oven to see what all the fuss is about?}, there are compelling reasons to raise risk takers:

  1. It teaches them to love learning – When you’re curious, you dig for answers and information.  Curiosity breeds a natural love of learning.  Risk taking teaches kids to always question things, always want to know more, always love learning.
  2. It teaches them to  become leaders – Leaders are risk takers.  They know when to push the envelope, and when to just hold on.
  3. It teaches them to think of others – A risk taker learns to consider others when making decisions.  While this may be a learned behavior, it is one that is learned rather quickly when one is faced with how his or her decision affected others.
  4. It teaches them to deal with disappointment – Every risk we take and every decision we make will not turn out the way we want.  Teaching our children to become risk takers allows them to learn how to handle disappointment with style and grace.
  5. It teaches them to go after what they want – Nothing in this world is handed to you, you have to work for it.  Risk takers know this, and go after whatever it is they want.  They might not always get it, but they know they tried.
  6. It teaches them appreciation - Risk takers quickly learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  They have what they have, they are who they are, and they can do what they do because of every person they have interacted with.
  7. It teaches them to become decision makers – Risk takers learn to make decisions.  They don’t sit around waiting for others to make decisions for them.
Image credit

Sweet Critique: Best of Summer Recipe Bookazine


I am unconscionably late with this review.  It’s crazy.  But, life’s been crazy so it just kind of happened…  I never take something that I don’t then review, though, so it’s going up now!

If you’re a regular here on Sweet Phenomena you know it’s no secret that we love to cook in this house.

Summertime is one of those seasons where everyone likes to cook; they like to get outside and grill, use fresh produce, visit farmers’ markets.  It’s all fun!

I was recently sent a copy of Best of Summer, a bookazine with 157 recipes, all 400 calories or less.

This is a great little thing to have in your kitchen.  Not only are there tons of great recipes, but it’s also got some great tips on throwing a party, grilling, and more.

One of my favorite recipes?

It’s labeled as a “farmers’ market favorite” – Two Cheese Corn Gratin.  Um, yum.

You can find out how to build a better burger, create some killer desserts, and share some great drinks with family.

At only $9.99, this is a killer collection that I would recommend to anyone who likes to cook or entertain.  It will be useful no matter the season!


Homeschool Workboxes

This was my very first blog post. Good times!


Throughout our first year of homeschooling I was told that I’d look back and realize how completely awful I was at it.  OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I definitely look back and wonder how someone like myself, so full of neatness and organizational abilities, let it get so bad.  Sure, we had fun and Babydoll learned tons of stuff, but it wasn’t a smooth process by any stretch of the imagination.  To help with this, I decided to implement the workbox system going forward.
This is what our new system looks like.  We have 12 workboxes, four bins for supplies, and a bookcase with curriculum materials.



When Babydoll begins her day, she’ll get her blank schedule strip…
…and look for box number one {or whichever box happens to be first for the day}.  I wanted to have a fairly open system, so she’ll always work in numerical order, but box number one may have a subject in it that we don’t use everyday, so there will not be two numbers on the front.  She knows to look for the boxes with two numbers: one to place on her schedule strip and one that labels the box.  So, if box number three is the first box {in numerical order} to have two numbers on the front, that’s the one she starts with for the day.

She can take one box out at a time and work on it.  It if has a “Mom” circle, she needs to do the lesson with me; if it doesn’t, she can work on that box by herself.  This is a better example of what I was describing above.  Box number one only has one number sticker, so she knows she won’t use that box for the day.  She’d start with box number two, which has two number stickers on it.
Once she is done with the box, she’ll take off the number on the left and place it on her schedule strip.
Now, she can look at her schedule strip and see which box she has done, and she can  look at her boxes and see which ones still need to be done.


After each box is completed, she’ll place her work in the “inbox”, where it will sit for me to check.

If she needs help with something and I’m unavailable, she can place a “Help” sticker on her work.

Even though Babydoll still needs me for quite a few lessons, this system also serves as a great way to keep me organized.  I’ll plan out about two weeks in advance and make a note of all books, worksheets, etc., we need and place the work in her boxes each night.  Bottom line is this: she’s looking forward to starting school and I’m thrilled about our new setup!

The workbox system was developed by Sue Patrick and the schedule strips and stickers I used were developed by Cassie Jones.  You can see her workbox setup at Spell Outloud.

Homeschool Portfolios

This post is just a few months old, but it’s one of the most popular here.


Some states require extensive homeschool portfolios be maintained to ensure parents are complying with regulations.

Other states are fairly lenient, but many parents still like to keep a portfolio to document a child’s work and progress.

In my quest to become a better portfolio parent, I decided to share the bounty of links I found.


Homeschool Essentials:  The Portfolio – Great breakdown on getting a portfolio started

Donna Young’s Homeschool Portfolio Planner – A great assortment of printables to help you get started

Homeschool Portfolio Evaluations Shouldn’t Be Scary! – Q&A about portfolios

Homeschool Portfolios – How one mom puts together her portfolio

Homeschool Portfolios – An extensive list of what this mom includes in portfolios

Homeschool Portfolio – Complete with editable PDF printables

Recordkeeping:  Portfolio & Grades – Includes ideas of what to include for each subject

Creating a Homeschooling Portfolio – A PA mom’s guide to creating a portfolio

Preparing a Homeschool Portfolio – Another guide to creating a portfolio

How to Create a Homeschool Portfolio – A list of essentials to include

8 Benefits of Creating Homeschool Portfolios – A list of the benefits of having a portfolio

Creating, Maintaining, and Presenting a Homeschool Portfolio – This takes from the beginning to the end of the process

Preparing the Homeschool Portfolio – Another list of items to include

Homeschool Portfolio 1, 2, 3 – Great step-by-step process with lots of pictures

How to Make a Homeschool Portfolio – More great pictures

How to Make a Homeschool Portfolio – Tab ideas and scrapbooking suggestions

Create the Perfect Homeschool Portfolio – Another mom’s way of doing things

Keeping a Homeschool Portfolio for High School – A list of high school specific ideas

Homeschool Portfolios:  Evaluation Checklist and More – Includes a link to a free checklist

A Homeschool Portfolio – An extensive post about this family’s homeschool portfolio

Homeschool Planning

This was originally posted in July, 2011.  It’s by far the most popular post on Sweet Phenomena.


This is the first post in a new series about homeschool planning.  I’m by no means an expert, and I definitely copy and tweak the work of others often, but I think that it is absolutely OK to do that!  As I plan our next school year, I thought I’d share with you what I do.  You can find the second post in the series here.  Here are posts three, four, and five.

It’s homeschool planning time for many of us!  Tons of posts, tweets, and status updates revolve around this task right now.

This series will take a look at some of my favorite homeschool planning posts, some of the tools available to tackle the planning, digging in and getting started, staying the course, and putting the final touches on your system.

If you’re anything like me, you love looking through the posts of others, eagerly looking for anything useful for your own situation.  Below are some of the posts I’ve found as I’ve searched for ways to plan our homeschool year.

These are just a small portion of what’s out there!  Hopefully you’ll find something that will get your creative planning juices flowing and give you an idea of what you want to do so you know where to start.

Do you have any posts about homeschool planning you’d like to share?  Leave them in the comments, I’d love to check them out!