Posts Tagged ‘business’

Filming the Pond Unit Study

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Last Saturday afternoon, I jumped onto the bed where my husband was taking a nap. “Carpe Diem!” I shouted. “The sun is shining, and it’s perfect for filming the Pond Unit Study. Can we go?”

“Get me some tea…” he groggily stated.

By the time we were backing out the driveway, dark clouds covered the sun, and it looked like it was going to storm. I looked down at all the gorgeous drawings my kids had made of microscopic creatures from the pond, and their sweet watercolor pictures of the pond itself. I didn’t want them to be ruined. My clip-on mic cost us $600. I didn’t want that ruined either. I looked nervously into the sky through the front windshield.

When we arrived at the pond, the wind started blowing all the papers. As my husband filmed, people gathered around just to watch, apparently entertained by me. I didn’t mind the audience. I’m a ham anyway. They asked me if they were going to be on YouTube. My husband laughed. My son Stephen asked if he could get another sample of the pond water, and I realized I needed to show the audience our handy-dandy pond-collecting contraption invented by my husband.

There was constant noise, so we had to keep stopping and starting over. A motorcycle started up every five minutes. Then I took a deep breath and nearly choked on an insect. And I was in a desperate hurry to film before an impending downpour.

You might be saying, why not film another time? Because next weekend I’m filming the mushroom hike and collecting video footage of all the mushroom activities we do. Since my sons are involved in flag football on Saturdays also, there is no other time to record. By the time my husband gets back from work on weekdays, it’s dark. Both of these unit studies are going into my Treasure Vault on November 1st, which only gives me five days to process the mushroom video footage. So no, there is no other time.

Then I found out my mic was on mute after half an hour of filming. Apparently my batteries were dead.

I looked up into the sky. “Lord, I know You want me to do this. You led me to do this unit study thing. I know You control the weather.” I felt discouraged as I went back to the car to change the batteries.

When I came back from the car, the sun was shining. The pond looked gorgeous with the beautiful autumn trees reflected in it. I was so happy. I pulled myself together to re-film the unit study.

People don’t realize how much work it is to film a video. I had accidentally left my notes at home, you know, my script, so I was doing it impromptu, hoping I covered all the transitions between the different video clips I had filmed over the last month. For example, I almost forgot to mention the coffee filter art we did to create that psychedelic-looking green algae called a Desmid.

Anyway, I now have the video footage, and it will probably take 2 to 3 hours to edit it because there are over 100 short video clips just for the Pond Unit Study. I will be adding it to my Unit Study Treasure Vault along with a Mushroom Unit Study on November 1st. On that day I’m also adding a video called “Feast of Tabernacles,” which was a super fun Bible unit study. My children enjoyed waving branches, building a simple tent-structure, and stomping on wheat that we collected from a wheat field. Yes, I’m filming my whole life right now and putting it into the Treasure Vault. That’s what I felt God leading me to do, and I will continue to follow where He leads!

A Forgotten Recommendation Letter

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

recommendation-letterWhile filling out a Linked-In profile yesterday (to get more paid homeschool conference speaking gigs in faraway, exotic cities), I had to fill in a resume. Since I’ve been homeschooling since my children were born almost 12 years ago, I had to look through my files for an old resume, just to remember what it included. While shuffling through papers, I came across this recommendation letter from the principal of the school where I worked for 3 years. It brought a smile to my face:

To Whom It May Concern,

It is my sincere privilege to write a letter of recommendation for Susan Evans. Susan has been teaching three years at Rayzor, and is currently a fifth grade teacher. Her responsibilities now include teaching language arts. She has provided the children with a solid background in grammar and writing.

Susan brings a high level of enthusiasm for her subject matter to the school, and the children respond positively to her obvious love of the subject. She has helped them all become better writers and problem solvers. The last two years, Susan hosted a mystery day where the teachers are in costume, and the children go around the school following clues and using deductive reasoning skills to solve the mystery. They have had a great time!

Susan is willing to take on any task assigned to her, and she was the chairperson for the Spelling Bee this year. Other activities include coordinating two essay contests. She has a lot of energy, and always manages to get things done efficiently and thoroughly.

Our school is a bilingual/ESL campus serving children from many different home languages. Susan’s ability to communicate in Spanish to children and parents has been an asset to us. Susan is able to work with high risk students by providing understanding receptivity to the children, yet maintaining high academic standards.

Susan is a team player and is a member of a closely knit grade level. They plan well together and make joint decisions about what is best for a child. She gets along well with her peers.

I believe Susan will continue to be a wonderful teacher. I can recommend her highly, and would welcome any additional inquiries regarding her. Susan Evans is dedicated to the education of our children.

Aleta Atkinson

The Story Behind the Website: Part 2

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011


Okay, so what does all this freaky stuff about adopting children and getting free washer/dryers have to do with me starting a website? Good question.

#1 God freed up my time to start a website.

God had me terminate my time as a leader of Cub Scouts because I was too overwhelmed because this process of counseling a woman was stretched out over several months. Keep in mind I wasn’t sleeping properly because the woman would call me every night after midnight. And I would have to convince her that life was worth living.

When the woman’s crisis was over, I suddenly had a ton of free time. The weight of counselling someone was gone. And I had let go many of the things I was doing so that I would have enough energy to counsel. Now I suddenly felt I had the margin to begin something new.

#2 We were about to go bankrupt.

Meanwhile, we were about to go bankrupt, and my husband was keeping this information from me. I’ve been stressed over finances in the past, and I now had felt tranquility in my soul for years, even if we ended up living in a cardboard box. I was envisioning my family living under a bridge, and I was okay with that. It’s because I trust God, that whatever hideous thing comes my way, He will turn it around into something beautiful for my good. I have seen this too many times to not believe and trust in God in an unbelievable way. I was not afraid when my husband told me.

You see, it was the first year of the recession, and my husband had gotten a pay cut. We could no longer pay our bills. I was selling everything that wasn’t nailed down. I go into more detail about this in my finances audio, which is a huge testimony of God’s provision for me.

#3 I needed to find a work-at-home job.

But during that time, my own mother told me to go work at Walmart. I’m not kidding. “Mom, I homeschool, and my kids are not old enough to be alone. I need to find a way to make money from home.”

#4 A wise mentor suggested I start a website.

Soon an elder’s wife from my church (who is my gray-haired mentor) said that I needed to start a homeschooling website because I was good at homeschooling, and I was good at writing. I could even teach classes on video for people to buy. I was mentally numb when she first said it because I hated computers. “But your husband is a computer person. He could do whatever you couldn’t do,” she said.

“I’ll think about it,” I said.

#5 Spiritual joy accompanied the birth of my website.

Later that day I felt an incredible spiritual joy about starting the website. I knew it was what God wanted me to do. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. The ideas came to me so quickly, I could barely keep up. And the funny thing was that my time was freed up. I had spent 10 hours a week preparing for Cub Scouts, and the precious woman was out of her dangerous situation. I had nothing to do. The hours that I had spent on Cub Scouts suddenly were freed up for my website.

The events preceding the birth of my website were like dominoes that freed up my time and emotional energy (and gave me a reason) to do what God wanted me to do. If the time and energy had not been carved out by God through other means, I probably would have never started my website, since I hated computers.

#6 I love it. My website helps me fulfill my life’s purpose.

The highest compliment for me is when people tell me that my website has God all over it. I have had joy with everything I’ve done for my website. God has also opened doors for me to do speaking engagements, and I love it. I love homeschoolers, I love writing, I love all of it.

The Story Behind the Website: Part 1

Monday, September 19th, 2011


I never liked the computer. It was a big bulky thing that I didn’t know anything about. Up until I started my website, I only checked my e-mail once every three months, when someone on the phone told me to check it. I wrote real letters in my own handwriting with a pencil. I know, with my husband being a computer guru, you would think I would at least dabble with it, but no.

I had been a popular leader of a local Cub Scout group for a couple of years. We would zoom go-carts down hills, smash rocks until sparks would fly, and play on a home-made pirate ship off my back deck. The group of boys doubled in size from one year to the next. At the end of the second year, God moved my heart away from it.

You see, I was sleep deprived and overwhelmed, and you will understand why in a minute. (I thought I was going to have to adopt a bunch of teenagers.) I knew that I could not spend the 10 plus hours a week preparing for Cub Scouts any more: ordering and preparing materials, organizing field trips, and other planning. I resigned.

So how did the whole adoption thing come up? I was counseling someone over the phone every night in the middle of the night. When the phone rang, I would get out of bed, go to the living room, get on my knees, and beg God to give me the wisdom for this woman. To tell a woman in distress the wrong thing can cause huge ramifications. The woman made me swear to her that if she ended up dead, I would gain custody of her children. She would not let me hang up the phone one night until I promised to adopt her children if anything should happen to her.

Then something scary happened. I was having a casual conversation with God while doing laundry. I said, “If I’m going to have these extra children, I’m going to need a bigger washer/dryer.”

I told no one.

The next day a larger washer/dryer was rolling up our driveway. I nearly had a heart attack. This meant that the woman was going to be dead. I went white and looked like I was going to pass out.

Someone was upgrading their washer/dryer, and they were giving us their old dinosaur washer/dryer, which was way better than ours, and way bigger.

Trembling, I told my husband what I had flippantly said to God the previous day. My husband laughed. “That doesn’t mean anything.”

“This is not coincidence. Coincidence doesn’t exist, and you know it! God has control of every atom of this universe. He did this on purpose just to freak me out.”

“If God wants us to have these kids,” my husband said, “He will give us the strength to do so.” Wise man, my husband.

Several days later my husband looked back at our children in the van and said, “If those kids are joining us, we’re going to need a bigger van.”

“Stop it,” I said. But in my head I was re-arranging for homeschooling. If these children ended up being mine, I was not going to send them into the school system. I’m just not, I thought. I was figuring out how to do Civil War with high school as well as my own children, throwing in high school science and wondering what the children had already taken…

Suddenly I knew that no matter what happened, I would be able to do it. I had always wanted a large family. I was at peace; an exhilerating peace where I feel like I’m on a motorcycle, but I’m not the one driving. That’s actually a really good picture of what my yielding to God is like, quiet, yet thrilling in what He will do next.

Thank God the crisis was averted. God was building my faith, and I had passed the test.

(Stay tuned for part two…)