Pronunciation /adˈvɛntəs/noun
1.Roman History – ceremonial entry and reception of an emperor, pope, king, or other ruler or religious leader, into a city, town, institution, etc.
2. historical The arrival of the first Anglo-Saxon settlers in post-Roman Britain.
Mid 19th century. From classical Latin, adventus approach, arrival.



It’s almost time. Time for the reflection, anticipation, and celebration that mark this special season. Time to remember the first coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ — who humbled himself, became human and walked among those he had come to rescue. Time to look ahead to his second coming — because, let’s face it, this world is so ready for a repeat. And time to rejoice in his continued presence with us while we await his return.
I love incorporating new advent ideas into our family celebration each year.
Some of the things we’ve done as our children have grown from toddlers to teens include:
  • Decorating a Jesus and Me tree, hanging a new advent-related ornament (with an attached Bible verse) each day.
  • Unveiling a new daily piece of a Playmobil nativity scene, placing Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning.
  • Creating an advent calendar with alternating daily acts of kindness and special outings.
  • Including readings and assigned listening to sections of Handel’s Messiah from Cindy Rollins’ book Hallelujah during our morning meetings.
  • Following the adventures of the characters in Arnold Ytreeide’s advent books: Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, Tabitha’s Travels.
  • Playing a different Christmas music CD every day in the early morning hours to help our household ease into the daily routine.
  • And always, always, lighting the advent candles.
Several years ago, I was inspired to create my own rustic version of an advent wreath centerpiece using items I gathered from around the house. From my kitchen cabinets, I pulled out a bronze-colored tart pan with fluted edges and arranged five 4-ounce clear glass canning jars inside. Into each jar, I poured some Epsom-salt snow and placed a tea light candle.
I tied purple craft twine around three jars, pink around one jar, and white around the center jar to attach the following Latin labels:
1. Spes (hope)
2. Caritas (love)
3. Gaudium (joy)
4. Pax (peace)
5. Christus (Christ)
And in between and around the jars, I nestled fragrant evergreen trimmings snipped from the wreath on our front door, as well as small pinecones, and decorative berries from wreaths of years past. I loved it so much that now I re-create it every year!
Now that I’m only homeschooling the youngest two of my four children (ages 13 and 15), I’ve been looking for some new advent ideas. I think I’ve settled this year on reading through Henry van Dyke’s The Story of the Fourth Wise Man, as well as studying the history of a selection of Christmas carols.
And, of course, we’ll set up our centerpiece and light our candles each day.
It’s almost time. Are you ready? Author: Sonya Hemmings 

Join the Advent Celebration Challenge

Join the group for Advent prep and celebration check-ins all designed to help us keep our focus on the truth and beauty of the Advent celebration!
Grab the pdf of the Advent schedule in the group to print out and then keep it on the fridge for easy reference and reminders!
Hope to see you there!
Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functioning Skills

Strengthening Executive Functioning

colorful brain is lit up Executive functioning skills regulate, control, and manage one’s thoughts and actions. To put it succinctly, executive functioning skills are what manage the brain.

You probably don’t even think about your own executive functioning or that of others. Unless, of course, you are confronted with a situation in which executive functioning is not, in fact, functioning. Most of us intuitively understand the importance of executive functioning and have a sense of what it is as well as a concern when we don’t “see” it in others. Certain times of fast growth, such as the tween/teen years can affect a child’s executive functioning, especially as the teen brain/body is doing some “Brain Pruning.” 

But for some people, executive functioning is more naturally difficult or possibly impaired.  These diagnoses can include ADHD, ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Processing Disorders, Dementia, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Three Main Categories of Executive Functioning Skills

Working Memory

  • The ability to pay attention and to organize
  • The ability to plan and prioritize; being organized during tasks school or work and the ability to set and meet goals
  • Task initiation- taking action to get things done (motivation)
  • Keeping key information in mind while completing a task

Cognitive Flexibility (Flexible Thinking)

  • Understanding different points of view
  • Being able to adjust behavior to an unexpected change in the environment or schedule

Inhibitory Control

  • Regulating one’s own emotions, including controlling and appropriately channeling one’s feelings
  • Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you are doing) and self-awareness (how is one doing in the moment).
  • Controlling urges to “do”, thinking before acting or responding, exhibiting deferred gratification as well as perseverance.

Obviously, executive functioning skills are important – they allow us to interface with the world appropriately, build, and keep significant relationships and hold jobs.

How Do Executive Functioning Disorders Manifest?

People with executive functioning issues may exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Impulse or emotional control
  • The ability to begin, organize, plan and follow through on task completion
  • The inability to listen or pay attention
  • The inability to manage one’s time
  • The inability to multi-task or juggle multiple tasks, even if they are sequential
  • Short term memory issues, including an inability to remember what they’ve just heard
  • Difficulty following a sequence of steps
  • Difficulty changing from one task to another
  • Socially inappropriate behavior such as angry or aggressive behavior, statements about self-harm or destruction of property

If you suspect you or someone in your family has issues with executive functioning, all is not lost! You can accommodate or learn coping skills.

Teaching Coping Skills

Tips and tools to ramp up those executive functioning skills include:

  • Visual schedules
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Motivation
  • Planners
  • Organizational techniques
  • Working memory exercises
  • Item lists
  • Self-emotional recognition techniques
  • Flexible seating
  • Slowly introducing differences in schedules to provide flexible thinking
  • Extra transitional times
  • Frequent breaks
  • Timers or alarms during tasks
  • Explicit instruction
  • Organized homework or assignment binder
  • Parent/student contract agreement
  • Clearly defined academic and social expectations
  • Logic games, puzzles, and coursework

Executive Functioning is the management of the brain. For kids with executive functioning disorders, it is important to fortify them with resources, materials, and processes that will help them with those struggles throughout life. ~Lisa Nehring

Resources and Support

If you need to be better equipped in this area, you will want to join us for our SPED Equipping Membership!  We focus on providing support, encouragement and tools for special needs families all week long. We host weekly Equipping seminars with discussions, a Book Club, and Coffee and Chat!  You may also want to find out about our current special needs discounts, check out a listing of resources here and read our blog post, Executive Functioning and Why it Matters in Your Homeschool.

Celebrate with Us!

Celebrate with Us!


Today I am super excited to be helping my friend Felice Gerwitz from Vintage Homeschool Moms celebrate her 400th Podcast Episode on Vintage Homeschool Moms!! Together several of us have come together to help her celebrate by giving away ONE $200 Amazon Gift Card. As part of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network, True North Homeschool Academy is thrilled to come alongside Felice in celebrating with her and offering you a change to win!

Let me share a bit about my friend Felice.

Felice began homeschooling in 1986 when her two children were little and she thought it might be temporary. In fact, her husband told her to try it for six months and if homeschooling didn’t work, to put the kids in school. Well, she started her journey and her two kids thrived. Later when her family increased…by three more children, she continued on and successfully completed thirty-two years in 2018 graduating her last of five children. Mentoring homeschool moms is a passion! Felice has lots of homeschool experience to share with you. Be sure to check out Vintage Homeschool Moms and prepare to be inspired, encouraged, and supported in your homeschool journey.

For more encouragement, you can find Felice here too:

Media Angels
The Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network
The Ultimate Christian Podcast Network

How Great is Our God Review & Give-Away!

How Great is Our God Review & Give-Away!

How Great is our God: 100 Indescribably Devotions about God and Science

How Great is Our God

True Confessions, we are way passed littles at our house, but this book looked too good to pass up. And while our grands live half a country away, I know that they’ll love getting a copy of this fun and interesting devotional for Christmas!  It will be a perfect gift for the littles in your life as well!

Included in this lovely and unique devotional by Louis Giglio are 100 devotionals that cover Space, Earth, Animals and People. The cover is bright and fanciful, welcoming readers to take a peek inside. The book is hardback and just 6” x 9,” which is so perfect for little hands!  The pages are printed on paper that is a bit thicker and not quite so easily torn as thinner paper.

How Great is Our God

I love that the first page allows the book to be personalize with “To,” “From” and “Date.” Perfect for gift -giving and inscribing a special note to a beloved child or new friend. The Table of Contents includes 100 neatly laid out lessons with fun and intriguing titles. On the next page is a “Welcome” that introduces the reader to the book and its purpose. Specifically, that God created through the universe. Ah, perfect. Theology and Science are inexplicably intertwined and this book is a great introduction to littles about this important truth.  Six characters walk the students through four subject areas: Space, Earth, Animals and People. If your student has a particular interest, it is quite easy to simply focus on those lessons, which are both coded by color and symbol.

Each 2-page lesson in How Great is Our God includes a beautiful graphic, a title, a Scripture quote, a simple, but relatable lesson, and a prayer. Also, included is a “How Great” section, which highlights the science mentioned in each lesson along with a ribbon book-mark and an Index,  making it easy to find a specific topic.

How Great is Our God

A quick sample from Lesson 42, on Typhoons, Hurricanes and Cyclones…Oh My!

Typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones, what’s the difference? Location, location, location! These are actually three different names for one kinds of storm.

I share this to illustrate that while this is a perfect devotional for pre-schoolers, it is by no means simplistic or dumbed down. In the “How Great” Section of the same chapter,

“In the Southern Hemisphere, cyclones spin clockwise, just like the hands of a clock. But in the Northern Hemisphere, cyclones spin counterclockwise.”

How Great is our God

How fun is that? How Great is Our God would be a phenomenal jumping off point for a whole lot of science if you had the time or inclination.

This jam-pack, beautiful and informative devotional would be great for so many different circumstances: at home, as a devotional with your own littles or grands, for daycare, Sunday School or co-op or as a simple jumping off point for more extensive science experiments in your homeschool.

How Great is Our God Give-Away

Be sure to sign up for the How Great is Our God GIVE-AWAY!  Five lucky winners will receive a copy of this inspiring and beautiful book! But if you can’t wait, you can purchase the book directly here.

Career Exploration & College Prep Course Review

Career Exploration & College Prep Course Review

One of the services that we provide through True North Academic Advising is career and life coaching. Kids often have a big idea of what they want in life but don’t have the experience get them there in an expedient and cost-effective way.

In addition to our Academic Advising, you might want to check out our Orienteering course. We use Cheri Frame’s Career Exploration Guide as the spine for this dynamic, interactive live on-line course!

Why does Career Exploration matter to high school students?

Career Exploration, as Cheri explains:

  • Increases students awareness of career options
  • Helps students see how they fit into the working world
  • Encourages students to plan high school courses based on their future goals
  • Improves academic performances
  • Saves time and money by pursuing a defined goal
  • Introduces students to employment skills valued by all employers

The Career Exploration and preparation course guide consists of 2 parts.

Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 1:

This section is designed to allow the student to get to know themselves better and gain a clearer understanding of their vocational interests. This section also helps the student confirm their interests through various activities.

Part 1 Overview – Career Exploration: Choosing a Best Fit

  • Keys to your future
  • Your Vocational Profiles
  • Occupational Profiles
  • Informational Interviews
  • Final Review

Part 1 is designed to be used in homeschools or co-op settings. Cheri includes many web-links and resources right at the beginning of the guide to get you started on the road to understanding your student. Some examples include Learning Styles, Motivation Triggers, Grit Scales, Business Essentials, to name a few.

Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 2:

In part 2, students are guided through a capstone project in their career area of interest. This section will allow students to define and hone skills relevant to the career areas that they have selected in Section 1.

Part 2 Overview – Career Preparation: Skill Smart

  • Capstone Projects
  • Skill Smart
  • Professional Portfolio

Students are also encouraged to read a biography of their choice as well as “Start Here” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

The Guide consists of reading, assignments, and projects. Students should plan on 3-4 hours per week to complete the lessons, reading, and longer-term projects. Students should prepare to partner with their parents or a cohort, such as our Orienteering course will provide,  to make the most of this course.

So what do I love about this program?

I love how this program starts off right by encouraging students to seek and find a team of mature mentors that they can learn and grow from. It is an excellent exercise in seeking out Godly leaders who can speak into their lives.

Additionally, there is a fantastic Bible Study right out of the shoot that sets up the Biblical basis for work. Conscientious, hard workers are in high demand these days. Cheri guides the kids through a Bible study on this and lays such an excellent foundation for the joy, responsibility, and God-given inspiration for work. Directly following, there is a study on family and cultural expectations. This facet is an oft-overlooked section of most career exploration programs. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I love the fact that students look at the careers and vocations that are part of their family. We are often more influenced by family members and legacies than we realize.

A Cost of Living Project is also included. An excellent project that every high schooler should complete before their graduation from high school!

All of this before the student begins a Vocational Profile, which includes Personality Inventories, Occupational Profiles and Evaluation, Credentialing Evaluation, and Job Shadowing. This Vocational Profile is a thorough and detailed overview of career exploration for each student based on their personality and interests.

Part II will focus on students building their skills and showcasing them in a way that will take them into the beginning stages of developing their professionalism.

The Capstone project includes critical thinking, public speaking, research skills, self-sufficiency, team-work, planning, media literacy, planning, and goal setting. Students will learn and understand the difference between hard and soft skills. As a podcast host, focusing on Soft Skills, this makes me happy. The Capstone project asks the student to create a quality program or experience for themselves that will develop their professional self and ability. SMART Goals, resumes, and interviewing skills are covered.

Career Exploration and Prep is an excellent course for young adults of all ages. The target ages are 16 and up, but the resource is acceptable for motivated younger students as well.  I would recommend this Guide for families and co-op situation.

A great addition to our Academic Advising Program, and integral to our Orienteering Course offered this fall and taught by Lisa Nehring.

Are you interested in Cheri Frame's Career Exploration & Prep Course? Check out this thorough review from True North Homeschool Aademy! See why we think this course will benefit your homeschool student. #homeschooling #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #careerplanning

Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide

Welcome to our first ever Holiday Gift Guide

(Discount Coupons throughout the guide and awesome Give -Aways- scroll to the end of the post to enter!)

gift guide

Part of what inspired this Gift Guide was my search for the perfect handbag that fit my world. It had to be roomy enough to hold books and possibly even a tablet or laptop, structured enough that I could find what I was looking for and built to last my non-stop homeschooling, working world life. I don’t mind spending money on a quality bag that looks good and lasts, but it has to be just that- something that is beautiful and hard-working.

I have found just the thing. Below you’ll find details about Phil Teakell’s gorgeous, handcrafted leather bag. This one is heirloom quality, an investment that will last for years.

Next up, is Rebecca Scott Designs. We’ve owned a few RDS Bags, different style, different colors. I have a personal fav, but I don’t want to unduly influence you. They are all amazing!

Lastly, I’ve included 31 Bags, because in a poll on our Facebook Group, Help Homeschooling High School, it seemed to be a definite staple in the Mom bag life. My only complaint about 31 Bags is that they say, ‘will withstand 80 lbs”  -I take them at their word and fill to capacity, but then I have to actually pick it up! Time to grab some smaller ones!

And then, Bling. Because let’s face it, the homeschool Mom life can be a lot of things but is rarely glamorous. We’ve used Lila Rose clips for a long while. Perfect for thick, heavy hair and thin, wispy hair as well! We love the style and versatility of Lila Rose. Practical and beautiful!

And finally, Magpie Madness Jewelry You need many of these gorgeous jewelry pieces! Gorgeous and affordable


Rebecca Scott Design

All of our products have been designed by Rebekah Scott, who works out of her home studio near Valley Springs, South Dakota. She employs work from home moms who want to use their talents to provide an income for their families, all while staying home to raise their families.
Rebekah Scott Designs products are handmade, machine washable, made with vegan leather, and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee! You can purchase items from their Ready to Ship collection where items are already made and will be sent to you with 5-7 business days OR if you want to design your own products, you get to pick all of the details (right down to the colored zippers!) and the finished products are sent to you within 4-5 weeks of being ordered! 
The Phoebe bag is perfect for work, baby or travel. The largest purse style in the RSD line up, Phoebe can fit everything from your laptop, tablet, accessories to diapers and toys for your little one! She has three outside pockets, a crossbody strap, shoulder straps, and pockets that line the inside of the bag to keep your items tidy and organized. This purse style comes with optional add ons like a concealed pocket and top zipper (coming soon!) to keep your items secure! If you carry your laptop, pair the Phoebe with the Jovie laptop sleeve to make her even more versatile! 
To follow RSD, sign up for their email list where you get discounts and product information before the general public! Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram too where they do tons of fun giveaways!

Magpie Madness Jewelery

Gift Guide

Gift Guide Magpie Madness

Rustic & Vintage Style Gemstone & Pearl Jewelry

Handmade Rustic Jewelry with a Boho Chic Flare ** Pearls ** Vintage Metals ** Wire Wrapping ** Sterling ** Gemstones **Turquoise ** Crystals ** Earrings ** Bracelets ** Chains ** Necklaces **Weddings

I find great pleasure in creating beautiful wire wrapped and strung beaded jewelry in a range of styles and connecting each piece to a satisfied customer. Right now I’m really into the Rustic/Woodland/Boho Chic vintage feel and you’ll see its influence in my work–turquoise, pearls, crystals, & gemstones with vintage bronze, copper, & silver. I’ve even merged into antiquing sterling and brass to capture this feeling. Better yet, I try to keep my Magpies within pocketbook range!

As I create I pray. I pray for each woman who will be wearing my pieces–pray that she knows how much she is loved by the Savior and that she will feel absolutely beautiful while wearing her Magpies. It is my sincere desire that Magpie will bless women and somehow be impactful in each woman knowing how much she is loved.

Use coupon BAGSNBLING for 20% off on any Magpie Madness products. Good until December 31st, exclusively for True North Homeschool Academy readers!

31 Bags

Check out the the zip-top utility tote and the double duty caddy. The zip top is great for traveling with the 7 exterior pockets for markers, water bottle etc. Pair this with a fold n file and it becomes a great mobile file cabinet. The double duty caddy is great for kids to organize their subjects or to create a mobile classroom with storage for art supplies on one side and paper or folders on the other side. The item I am giving away is a medium utility tote. All info for my products can be seen on my website at and I can be contacted via email or text at  or 651-491-2625.

Teakell Design

Gift Guide

Gift Guide Leather Tote


In a market full of  mass produced goods, craftsmanship is becoming a rarity.  Welcome to Teakell Designs, where every product is custom hand-crafted.

The Large 2 Ring Tote brings a durable sophistication to the daily necessities.  It is a heavy duty, oil-tanned leather that will continue to develop its unique signature as it ages.  This tote will become the go-to bag for everything from the laptop and books to the fresh market veggies and jams.  The size accommodates innumerable combinations at 13” tall and 13” x 6” base, but style will be the only thing that is seen. Craftsmanship is becoming a rarity in this market of mass production.  Welcome to the Rare.  Pat Teakell began his creative pursuits as soon as he was able to hold tools.  Among his many developing skills was leatherworking.  Many years and many creative developments later, Teakell Design is focusing again on leatherwork.  Each item is meticulously crafted in Wichita, Kansas with Pat’s individual touches that ensure every piece is made to last.

Lilla Rose hair accessories, with Independent Stylist Kristi Bothur

Gift Guide

Gift Guide Lila Rose

Lilla Rose hair accessories are for every woman who has been frustrated with the time it takes to style her hair, or with uncomfortable accessories that damage her hair rather than protect it. The Flexi Clip is designed in seven sizes to hold any kind of hair, from very fine to extremely textured, and to do it with beauty, ease, and comfort – from a simple half-up or ponytail to a more elaborate holiday updo. Sizing information is available online, or you can contact Kristi  for personalized assistance, especially if you are choosing a gift. (With Lilla Rose’s 90-day exchange policy and oa ne-year warranty, you can’t lose!)
What’s more, Flexis can double as scarf clips! Other Lilla Rose hair accessories include decorative u-pins for painless updos, headache-free adjustable hairbands (that double as necklaces) and lightweight Leather 8/hair stick mix-and-match combinations. And for a gift that anyone can use, try their new organic rose water (rose hydrosol) for skin and hair!
Looking for a family business, or one that you can share with your teenager and then pass the baton to her when she graduates?
Lilla Rose, a direct sales company with a small-family feel, is ideal. Until November 20, shipping is FREE and joining  costs only $99 (for which you receive $300 in product and supplies), and there are no hidden costs for further training, website maintenance, or monthly sales quotas. High school students can work alongside a responsible adult to learn business and entrepreneurial skills while selling this unique, patented hair jewelry, and if life happens and you need to take a break, you won’t lose your business. Read here[ for more information or contact Kristi with your questions!