The Best Advice I Never Took

My Dad doing what he does best. Making apple butter from our family’s heirloom apples.

It’s been nearly 21 years since I walked down the aisle, drove two states away, and started life with my husband at 18 years of age. Honestly, my Dad was not entirely thrilled that I married when I did, but he consented and held his tongue. There were hopes of my attending college and being the first from our family to earn a degree. I’m afraid I dashed those hopes as I had absolutely no desire to attend college, married life suited me fine.

After a month had passed my Dad wrote me a long letter, this was in the age before we readily had email and all of our out-of-area calls were long-distance costing a fortune. I sat down to read the very loving letter from my Dad that was packed with wisdom from years of marriage. I smiled a very naive smile and tucked the letter into the case of my Bible. I thought that life was so absolutely wonderful and my husband and I would never disagree and have to have those “hard conversations” because I was blissfully wed, right?

Seven years later our marriage had endured separations due to military orders, the adjustment after returning, births of children, loss of a home, the death of a son, marital miscommunication, and a new beginning in another location. While packing away books for an impending move, I picked up the Bible case and decided to give it a wash before moving. Out fell the nine-page letter my Dad had written in July of 1997, on a Wednesday. And I cried as I reread the whole letter with different eyes than before. Off fell the rose tinted glasses and I saw the letter for what it was. He knew when he wrote it that I was happy, yet he had lived long enough to know the reality of happiness. It fades and can be replaced with many different feelings, feelings that take you a long way away from where you began. The advice he offered, had I taken it, would’ve saved my husband and me many struggles. I had learned these truths, yet I learned them the hard way. All I had to do was look inside the pocket of my Bible cover and there they were, just waiting.

I suppose it is much the same as God’s letter to us. We can struggle and make frustrated efforts at pleasing others, ourselves, and think we are pleasing God all at the same time, yet we are not. Our Father doesn’t want us learning the hard way. Have you heard the expression that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? God gives us wonderful “advice” and words of encouragement from His word, we only need to open His letter and read.

So what did my Dad write that July nearly 21 years ago? I will tell you in a nutshell.

Dad’s Seven Steps to a Successful Marriage

  • Watch my spending and don’t get into debt, debt is hard on a marriage.
  • Talk to your spouse when you are down or troubled, they are your friend.
  • Never go to bed mad, we are not promised tomorrow.
  • Take time to do something the other likes, share interests with your spouse.
  • Be careful in choosing friends, choose wisely.
  • Life is more than what you are and how much money you obtain. Riches are in your family.
  • Trust God always.

I am extremely thankful that my Dad didn’t say “I told you so”every time I failed, cause I would’ve heard it often. But make no mistake, since that day in 2004 when I reread that letter, when my Dad offers advice, I lean in a little closer.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Love, Jess

Charlotte Mason Freebie Alert

There are some wonderful resources that are up for grabs until April 17th, 2018. I personally have used these resources and can attest to their usefulness.  You can click the video and watch as I describe a little more about them or you can click on the link provided to go directly to the source.  *Disclaimer* In order to receive the PDFs, you will need to provide an email first.  You will receive your first PDF then receive one weekly until you have collected all nine.  Well worth the wait, in my opinion.

~Thanks for stopping by.

The Home Educator’s Tutor

Giveaway Time

Hi All,

It has been a while since I have hit the “blog-o-sphere” and thank you for being patient.  This week I discovered that my YouTube channel has hit 500 subscribers.  That may not sound like much to some, but to me that’s amazing.  I want to be a channel that encourages Mamas in their decision to home educate and give an honest view, one not skewed by “Pinterest” perfect homes or “Instagram” life.  I am real, you are real, let’s keep it real, ok?

NOW on to the fun stuff.  In honor of having 500 subscribers I am hosting a giveway on my Facebook page or you can click the link to add your email.  Also, commenting on a YouTube video will garner an entry.  You can just leave a smiley face. 🙂  Click the link in the sidebar for the giveaway page and you can watch the video below for info about the giveaway and also some of our favorite things we are using in our Farmstead school.


SCM Homeschool Planner

On this post, I plan to add a few different planners for the use of homeschooling.  The first one I have here is for up to three children while using the Simply Charlotte Mason curriculum especially if you use it exclusively. (I will be creating a more generic CM planner as well.)

This planner is in muted colors as to save on ink and can be printed with your toner save on or printed in gray scale.  Also, it is designed in landscape format.  For me, I need more room to write out assignments and landscape helps me achieve this.  Each spread is for one day, the whole planner printed out is 12 weeks worth of school or one term.  NOTE: planner needs to be printed double sided.

The planner is free~Enjoy!

CM Lesson Pic
Simply Charlotte Mason (Three Student)

Charlotte Mason Resource GIVEAWAY


I have so enjoyed chatting with other mamas through my YouTube page about homeschooling.  In honor of my 300th subscriber, I decided to pay it back with a giveaway! The winner will choose a resource from one of the following:

The Living Page

When Children Love to Learn

Exploring Creation with Your Children

All you have to do is visit my Facebook page and look for the giveaway post.  Leave a comment on which of the resources you would choose should you win, and voila, you’re done.

I will announce the winner Friday, September 1,  2017, at noon via Facebook Live.


Jewel Weed Salve ~ Help for Poison Ivy

Our family loves summertime but there is one thing, ok two, that can make summer a little less glorious, mosquitos and poison ivy.

I had heard about using a specific “weed” to combat the effects of poison ivy and so tried it out this summer.  Jewelweed is common in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada and known as Touch-me-nots.  The pretty little orange trumpet-shaped flowers are easy to spot.  Careful when collecting it due to it usually growing in close proximity to poison ivy. If you believe you have been infected by poison ivy and are “in the field”, grab some leaves and flowers from the jewelweed plant and crush in your hand. Then you want to rub in on the infected areas to help combat the components in the poison ivy that humans react to.

If you find out too little too late and are displaying a rash from exposure, a simple salve can be made from the jewelweed.  Honestly, I was a bit dubious, but after my husband came in with poison ivy on his arms and used my salve to reduce the recovery time,  I was sold.  See, my husband gets poison ivy by just sniffing the air around it, not really, but it seems that way.  Also, it stays with him FOREVER, weeks on end of red itchy rash.

So let’s get to it: (I used Sunflower oil to steep my jewelweed.)

I used this basic recipe here, then added a few extras, because I am like my Dad-we add extra to everything.  Just ask my Mom. 😉

Here are the additions I made:   1/2 tsp Apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp European clay (I imagine you can use any drying                                                              clay  you wish)

10-12 drops of Lavender.  I followed Reclaiming YourRoots‘ directions added my additions and you can see the finished product in the pictures below.


Now, enjoy the rest of that summer!

Charlotte Mason Inspired Magnetic Schedule Board

My finished board with sample schedule. There are over 40 individual schedule strips to choose from.

I love having a beautiful way of displaying our schedule for school. This helps keep the children and me a bit more organized and the children know what to expect throughout the day.

In the video below, I show you how I made a simple yet beautiful schedule board for under $20.00.

If you wish to have a copy of the schedule strips for yourself, please click here.  You will NOT be added to a subscription list.