Thanks for stopping by! I'm so glad you're here. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay awhile.

Would you like to have my new blog posts delivered right to your inbox? You can subscribe for free by email, so you don't miss a thing.

Top 5 Grammar Tips for Homeschoolers

I know, I know, you already know this stuff, but sometimes it’s important to review. Besides, sometimes we homeschoolers appreciate having our own version of things.

Or if you never need to review, just think of it as a handy reference guide for the rest of us.

Not back to school! Top 5 grammar tips for homeschoolers.


1. YOUR vs. YOU’RE

YOU’RE is a contraction, while YOUR is the second-person possessive.

YOU’RE means “you are.” YOUR refers to something that belongs to you.

Your Not-Back-to-School party was awesome! I hope you’re planning to throw one again next year.


2. IT’S vs. ITS

IT’S is a contraction, while ITS is possessive.

IT’S means “it is.”

ITS refers to something that belongs to “it.” (“Its feet are hairy. Its eye is bulging. Its smell is unmistakable.”) Usually possessives do have an apostrophe, but in this case, there isn’t one. English is weird like that.

What is that? It’s a worksheet.
What is the purpose of the worksheet’s blank lines? Its blanks are for filling in.
Why are we talking like this? Stilted dialog is a feature of worksheets.

Not back to school! Top 5 grammar tips for homeschoolers.



THERE can serve a lot of grammatical functions but it usually refers to a place.

THEY’RE means “they are.”

And THEIR is the possessive of the third-person plural—so if something belongs to “them,” it is “theirs.”

Their homeschool meets there, in their house.
And there, in their car.
And there at the park, and there at the zoo, and there at the coffee shop, and on a really good day, over there, at the beach.

They’re starting to wonder if “home” school is really the best name for this lifestyle.



AFFECT is (usually, like 99% of the time) a verb, while EFFECT is (usually!) a noun.

This one’s tricky. If you can put “the” in front of it, you probably want EFFECT. If something is “being affected,” you likely mean AFFECT.

One effect of our reading obsession is that we get to discuss, over and over again, the scene in The Odyssey where the Cyclops smashes the sailors’ brains against a rock.

Another effect involves overdue charges at the library.

You know you have a problem when your library fines start to adversely affect your grocery budget.

Not back to school! Top 5 grammar tips for homeschoolers.



LESS usually describes an amount that can’t be counted, while FEWER usually describes an amount that can be counted.

We spend less time lining up for things, because we have fewer students than other schools.

That homeschooling mom spends less time quizzing people for the National Spelling Bee than stereotypes suggest. She also owns fewer denim jumpers than you might guess.

We spend fewer days in our pajamas, now that the weather is so warm.

We are less worried about socialization than you seem to be, but thanks for checking!


I bet you’ll never mistake THOSE again.

Happy September! Have a great year, whatever your educational lifestyle.

What did I forget? Tweet me your suggestions!

Listen and pray

The world continues to feel heavy. Some times are more difficult than others.

In those seasons: may we each pray, in our own ways.

Light a candle, recite a verse, cry out in anguish.

Offer up a psalm of lament.

Vent the frustration and anger, fists shaking unto the heavens.

Acknowledge our own small place in the infinite cosmos. Acknowledge our own small understanding. Acknowledge our own small motives and fears and desires.

Take deep breaths. Speak healing words.

Whatever your tradition and custom and comfort level leads you to do: do that.

Lament. Listen. Pray. I believe it matters.

May we give it up, let it out, and then — listen.

Listen to the stories, the questions. Listen for the view from above and the view from the ground. Listen for perspective and for detail.

Listen to the loud voices, listen to the quiet ones, and listen for the still, small voice underneath it all.

May we all listen and seek to discern.

I understand that some people think it doesn’t matter — the praying, the listening. I understand some people don’t think it will make a difference.

But I believe it, so what kind of person would I be if I neglected to fall on my knees?

May we fall on our knees together, or raise our arms to the sky, may we pour out our hearts and hold each others’ hands.

Lament. Listen. Pray.

I’m posting a few words of midweek encouragement here for you — and for me — over the summer.

Jen Hatmaker, Mister Rogers, and me

Shop links in this post are affiliate links, because that’s how we keep our kids stocked up on fruit leather around here. Learn more.

HEY GUESS WHAT! Jen Hatmaker’s publisher sent me a copy of her book, Interrupted, to give away to one of my Instagram friends! (That’s you. Or anyway it COULD BE.) Scroll on down for how to win.

Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted

Jen Hatmaker, Mister Rogers, and Me

I did not realize, upon becoming a parent, how often I would be quoting Mister Rogers and his Neighborhood.

“I like you, just the way you are.”

“I think I’ll make a snappy new day.” (What? I think I will.)

And of course: “Look for the helpers.”

Mister Rogers explained that his mother used to tell him to always look for the helpers, especially when “disasters” hit. Someone will always come to help.

I want my kids to look for the helpers. I also want them to know that WE HELP. I want them to know that when they have needs, God will always send helpers, and when other people have needs, we can be those helpers.

Jen Hatmaker’s book, INTERRUPTED? It’s the story of how God showed her that need is happening all the time, and the helpers need to be us.

It’s not easy and it’s not convenient and it’s going to interrupt your life, but once you’ve been interrupted, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

From Interrupted:

– About 1.2 billion people live on 23 cents per day.
– Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds.
– 100 million people in the world are entirely homeless.
– 780 million people don’t have access to clean water.

God interrupted Jen’s life — her comfortable, steeped-in-Christian-subculture-life — to help. To serve. And to lead others in service.


Says Jen:

“Americans living in excess beyond imagination while the world cries out for intervention is an unbearable tension and utterly misrepresents God’s kingdom.” Yes.

God uses all kind of things to interrupt our lives. To shift our perspective.

For me, it was parenting.

Here’s the deal. Our kids — my kids, your kids — are going to grow up to be some of the most privileged people on the planet.

How do we address the difference between our circumstances, and the ones Jen outlines in Interrupted?

I want to be intentional about teaching our kids that “helping others” isn’t an extracurricular activity. It’s a relational one. We help by forming relationships, asking questions, listening, and then meeting needs.

So about meeting those needs…

And I think — I THINK — my kids learn this best by first having their needs met by us parents. Because oh, do they start out needy and messy and chaotic, each and every one of them. In the beginning, they can’t feed themselves, or clean themselves, or keep themselves warm, or find a safe place to sleep.

But when we step in and we meet them in that place, when we put aside our own expectations for rest and quiet and un-crayoned-upon sofas, and instead tend to the child that inconveniently needs our help — then they know what it feels like to be the one who needs something, and they learn what it feels like to have their needs met with dignity.

When we present them with opportunities to help address the needs of others, doing that will feel right to them.

“We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children,” says the apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:7). That’s how we take care of each other.

I might be totally wrong.

But even if I’m wrong about that, even if my kids could have learned to serve others without me serving them first — that’s okay.

I still get to be changed by the daily practice of it.

I still get to practice having my heart broken by need, up close and personal, every day.

I still get to practice putting aside my own agenda to meet (short) people where they are.

I still get to practice patience, and gentleness, and kindness, and goodness, and self-control, and love.

I get a crash course in spiritual development, every single day! And since we have a whole bunch of kids, they get to practice with each other, too.

There are people in need EVERYWHERE.

Some of them are in your house.

Jen says this: “Serving people is not heaven’s requirement, only a response to heaven’s mercy.”

And this: “It’s about creating a place to belong before people are expected to behave or even believe.” (She’s talking about church here. I’m applying it to family. Same-same.)

And this: “An accurate understanding of grace will wreck the tidy categories we’ve assigned people and allow us to open our arms wide.”

Let’s keep our arms open wide.

Let’s be the helpers. Every day.

Start where you are. It might seem small. It might turn out to be bigger than you thought.

Start somewhere. Start here.

For one of YOU!

Want a copy of INTERRUPTED for your very own? You do. Good news: I’m giving away a copy sent over by the publisher!

If you follow me on Instagram, “like” today’s photo of the book for an entry to win. If you aren’t an IG person, that’s cool. Email me to enter to win instead. (melissacamarawilkins at gmail dot com, subject line: INTERRUPTED. That should do it.) I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, 8/22.

I hope you love it!