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February 2013
Welcome... Homeschooling Teen is a free e-zine for homeschooled high schoolers and young adult alumni. Published once a month, much of the content is written by our subscribers, and there are many opportunities for readers to participate -whether it's writing book or movie reviews, sending in original short stories and poems, or submitting other articles of interest. Additionally, in each issue we feature a profile of a Homeschooling Teen and a Homeschool Friendly College. Write to us at mail@homeschoolingteen.com .



College Bound  

Preparing For College - ACT & SAT Information 

Now is the time for high school juniors - especially if they dream of attending a highly selective college - to start thinking about taking the SAT and/or ACT. Besides good transcripts and letters of recommendation, entrance exams are an important part of the admission process. While some colleges have waived these tests as a requirement, many colleges and universities still rely heavily on SAT and ACT scores to help in admissions decisions. A typical applicant to a competitive college might boast section scores in the upper 20s for the ACT and above 600 for the SAT.   




Sylvan SAT/ACT® Prep can help you prepare.  
Find a participating Sylvan by clicking
or visit
to find a center near you.   




Homeschooling Teen Profile: Jessica Seaman
Career-of-the-Month: Career Planning Tips for Homeschooled Teens, by Steven Burrell
Homeschooling High School: Why Do 80% of Youth Leave Church After High School, by Ray Comfort
College-Bound: Crown College
College Life: Life After College, by Nancy Parker
Stepping Stones: A Monthly Devotional by Michaela
An American Teenager in Costa Rica: by Raquel
The World Around Us: by Eleanor Frances
The Razor's Edge: by Madeleine
Laughter, Tears, and Our Teen Years: by McKennaugh
Readers Write: A True Friend is a Rare Treasure
Poems to Ponder: by Nick Maker
Libby's Nonfiction Book Review:The Insatiable Quest for Beauty
Emily Rachelle Reviews: All Things Different
Game Review: Legend of Grimrock
Anime Review: by Xbolt
E-Mail Etiquette:Tip-of-the-Month
And much more!!!



Visit Homeschooling Teen Magazine online at www.HomeschoolingTeen.com !



Be Somebody...Be Yourself 











Groundhog Day - Feb. 2
Make a New Friend Day - Feb. 11
Kindness Awareness Day - Feb. 12
Valentine's Day - Feb. 14
President's Day - Feb. 21
American Heart Month
Black History Month
Potato Lover's Month
National Cherry Month
American History Month
Wild Bird Feeding Month
Click here for more February days:





Instill [in-STIL] verb - To introduce by gradual, persistent efforts; to firmly establish (an idea or attitude, esp. a desirable one) in a person's mind; i.e.: "instill values."
"The mother instilled a love of learning in her children."
See if you can find the word "instill" used elsewhere in this issue!




MOVIE QUOTE - Can you guess what movie this quote came from?
"I know that whatever road you'll end up on, you've got great things waiting for you, son. You owe the world your gifts. You just have to figure out how to use them."
(Answer:The Amazing Spider-Man)





 Introducing Our New Student Editor!



 Sarah Millard



My name is Sarah Millard, and I am a high school senior who has been homeschooled for nine years. Ever since I could grip a pencil, I have loved writing. Fiction and memoir-like essays are my favorite things to write, but I also enjoy doing literary analyses, and even a little poetry on occasion. I aspire to get a master's in English/journalism and go into publishing. I also hope to get some of my own work published someday. For now, though, my thoughts and ramblings can be read at my blog, Mission:Incomplete

Thanks, Sarah, for offering to help bring Homeschooling Teen Magazine to a new level of excellence. :)








Do you like to write? Well, why don't you send us something! Become a part of Homeschooling Teen magazine and submit a letter, article, poem, short story, report, or review to:






Please share your story! If you are involved with an amazing project, volunteer in your community, have a special interest that you're passionate about, possess a unique skill, talent or ability, or have accomplished something positive and extraordinary for a person your age or in your situation - be sure to tell us about it and we will feature you in our magazine! Contact: mail@homeschoolingteen.com






Tell us about your favorite homeschool-friendly college, and we will feature it in an upcoming issue! mail@homeschoolingteen.com  



Send your book reviews to: mail@homeschoolingteen.com 




E-mail Etiquette Tip of the Month
Here is a simple checklist of things to consider so that your e-mails are not mistakenly viewed as spam and deleted before they are read:
* Make sure your name is formally displayed in the "FROM:" field. Example: Jane A. Doe is correct. All lower case or lack of punctuation here indicates the lack of online savvy most spammers have and that your e-mail could be spam.
* Always include an appropriate, short, and accurate "SUBJECT:". Many times spam does not have a "SUBJECT:" or it is malformed without appropriate text. Many e-mail programs auto delete subject-less e-mail to Junk/Trash.
* Type your subject with appropriate capitalization and structure. All small case or all caps gives the impression of being spam.
* Refrain from using common terms abused by spammers in your subject and/or first paragraph of your e-mail. You know what they are -- you see them every day. Many spam filters track these terms and may inadvertently send your e-mail right to Trash.
This E-mail Etiquette Tip is provided as a courtesy by: www.NetManners.com






"No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings." -William Blake 








Please share your story! If you are involved with an amazing project, volunteer in your community, have a special interest that you're passionate about, possess a unique skill, talent or ability, or have accomplished something positive and extraordinary for a person your age or in your situation - be sure to tell us about it and we will feature you in our magazine! Contact: mail@homeschoolingteen.com






Homeschooling Teen Profile
Jessica Seaman: "The Sky is Just the Beginning"
J Seaman 
Jessica "Jessie" Seaman is a former homeschooler who was instilled with a love of flying at a very young age by her father who is a private pilot. The fourth child in a family of six, with three brothers and two sisters, Jessie's earliest memories include going to the airport and watching the planes fly overhead. It was at this time in her life when Jessie determined that someday she would fly too. But her to-do list doesn't stop there. Believing that she canachieve anything if she puts her mind to it, Jessie's motto is "The Sky is Just the Beginning."
When she was 10 years old, Jessie joined the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. She was one of the youngest cadets to attend and graduate from the Admiral Farragut Navy League Orientation. After that, she went to a one-week advanced training class, which was Basic Airman at the Florida Institute of Technology. It was there that, for the first time, Jessie climbed into the cockpit of a U.S. Navy Helicopter. She remembers the experience well: "As we lifted off of the ground, I will never forget the freedom that I felt. It was an indescribable sensation. We flew over the ocean and I remember seeing the shadows of the sea creatures below. I knew then that this would be only the beginning of what would develop into a passion for me."
As Jessie grew older, her interests continued to focus on aviation. She regularly visited airports, spoke with pilots, and researched the history of aviation. Although Jessie had been homeschooled for most of her life, as a teenager she had the opportunity to attend an aviation school and she jumped at the chance. Jessie enrolled in the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA), a career high school located on the Florida Air Museum campus at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Florida.Entering as a sophomore student, she embarked on a career track that would best equip her for Aerospace and Aviation. Being able to fly almost every day, Jessie obtained her Private Pilot's License at age 17.
The teen pilot is involved with many extra-curricular activities related to aviation. Jessie has been flight commander for the CFAA Civil Air Patrol Squadron Fl-466 and CFAA Junior Class Representative for student government. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Nobel Scholars Association. Jessie serves on the board of the Lakeland Aero Club, which is run by student pilots. She shares the history of aviation with visitors at the Florida Air Museum. In addition, Jessie is a volunteer intern with the youth education program for SUN 'n FUN, Inc.
In the Spring of 2012, while volunteering at the annual Lakeland SUN 'n FUN fly-in air show and aviation convention, Jessie was introduced to an accomplished pilot and educator named Judy Rice. Jessie recalls, "When I met Captain Judy, I could tell there was something that was special about her. We shared a common passion, aviation, and the desire to inspire others sharing the message that anything is possible when we dare to reach for our dreams."Jessie became the International Student Lead for Captain Judy's Think Global Flight project, an around-the-world adventure in a single engine aircraft promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education.
Jessie is excited to be working closely with Captain Judy Rice and the Think Global Flight team. Their upcoming mission, which begins in the Fall of 2013, will connect students across the globe through virtual venues called Student Command Centers. Each command center will be connected to the flight via satellite communications and will have weather, flight planning, and international relations components. Students will research, analyze, and report data related to the Think Global Flight throughout the endeavor, working together to provide the technical support required for the crew to circumnavigate the world.
Along with Jessie's desire to fly comes her desire to write. She considers herself to be an aviation journalist who loves to write about anything related to aviation. Jessie was honored to receive awards in several essay contests. She created a website called MastersofFlight.com, dedicated to those who are making a difference in the aviation world today. Jessie has a special place in her heart for children, so she is developing a series of writings and activity books to help teach youth about the basics of aviation. In addition, Jessie is presently involved in a Polk County Community project-aptly called "The Sky is Just the Beginning" - in which she hopes to encourage, inspire, and motivate other students to reach for their dreams.
A Message From Jessie Seaman...
I am a former homeschooled student that is now in Aerospace Academy following my dream to become a corporate pilot. The reason for my communication today is to tell you about an exciting opportunity that may be of interest to your homeschool group and families. This is an AWESOME, interactive learning experience that is sure not only to expose your students to the exciting world of aviation, but also give them the opportunity to interact with other students all over the world in a safe, productive environment.
THINK GLOBAL FLIGHT is an exciting concept that will teach students about the fascinating world of aviation while teaching them other useful subjects as well. It promotes the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education and the boundless opportunities in aviation and aerospace industries worldwide. This international in-flight effort will cultivate and promote a greater awareness and interest in STEM in classrooms by way of an around-the-world flight of adventure taking off in the Fall of 2013.
One of the greatest things about the adventure is that it teaches through hands-on activities and interactive research while learning from other students from around the world. The project truly offers a well-rounded learning experience that will keep your students excited and motivated to learn a multitude of subjects. Who knows, it just may spark the interest of aviation that may someday lead them to become a pilot like I am in the process of doing at this time. :-)
Basically in a nutshell, this is it: Through a strong network of educators, corporate sponsors, students and pilots, the project involves the journey of a plane that will be flown by educator and pilot Captain Judy Rice. She will be travelling across the world visiting and teaching as she goes. Students will be able to communicate with the Think Global Flight Team during the flight offering valuable input for the success of the mission. The awesome part of the adventure is that YOUR STUDENT will be a very important part of the flight, just short of being there!
Think Global Flight is in the process of setting up "STUDENT COMMAND CENTERS" throughout the world. These "SCCs" as we call them are the life blood of the mission. It will be these students from across the world who will be participating in the project by researching and communicating with Captain Judy and Navigator Fred as they fly from country to country. Students will offer valuable information that will aid in the success of the mission. A command center may be comprised of a group of students put together within your homeschool group like many homeschool groups are now doing, or a single family. It offers a great opportunity for homeschool students to work cohesively together to achieve a goal. THINK GLOBAL FLIGHT welcomes homeschoolers to get involved and recognizes the tremendous potential that they have to offer to the mission.
I am thankful to have been a homeschooled student for the years of my early life. My family made sure that I was exposed to a variety of learning experiences, even travelling outside of the country to be able to learn about other cultures. It was these types of opportunities that motivated me to reach for my dream. I invite you to check out this learning opportunity and discover the excitement of a hands-on learning experience that is truly unique.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to see you and your student join the adventure soon! Oh and did I tell you that registration is FREE!
http://www.thinkglobalflight.org - Our official THINK GLOBAL FLIGHT Website
https://www.facebook.com/ThinkGlobalFlight - Join the adventure on our FACEBOOK PAGE
https://twitter.com/ThinkGlobalFlt - Follow THINK GLOBAL FLIGHT on TWITTER
Warm Regards,
Jessica "Jessie" Seaman
International Lead Student/THINK GLOBAL FLIGHT



Tell us about your favorite homeschool-friendly college, and we will feature it in an upcoming issue! mail@homeschoolingteen.com   






Please share your story! If you are involved with an amazing project, volunteer in your community, have a special interest that you're passionate about, possess a unique skill, talent or ability, or have accomplished something positive and extraordinary for a person your age or in your situation - be sure to tell us about it and we will feature you in our magazine! Contact: mail@homeschoolingteen.com








Career Planning Tips for Homeschooled Teens
By Steven Burrell
Many parents are choosing to homeschool their teens through high school today, due to increased school violence and above average drop-out rates in some regions. However, outside of teaching the basic high school curriculum, a homeschool program should also address the future career goals of each student. Colleges and universities often require specific course credit and test scores in order to be accepted, so that means the homeschool program needs to be geared towards helping your teen have access to career opportunities.
To help your teen achieve the desired career goals, you will want to focus on career planning resources early on. Many homeschool experts recommend doing this as soon as middle school, but as long as the student has an idea what career he or she is interested in, you can easily streamline all lessons towards the ultimate pursuit of higher education and career training.
Here are some tips for career planning for your homeschooled teens.
Aptitude and Personality Testing - One of the most helpful resources for your homeschooled teens is the participation in an aptitude and personality testing process. There are many free online personality and career assessments that can be taken early on, which can identify what the student is interested in and has an aptitude for. You'll also want to make sure your homeschooled teen has the resources to learn the topics covered in traditional aptitude testing, such as the SAT and ACT exams, which are taken in their junior year of high school curriculum.
Job Outlook and Career Review - In order to help your homeschooled teen choose the right career path, you'll want to take the time to review the US Department of Labor's Job Outlook resources online. This gives your student access to statistical data about specific job types, including projections for the next ten years in terms of earnings, job growth, and educational requirements. Use this information to review the student's choice of careers and then seek out higher education and job skill certification programs that can support these goals.
Professional Networking - In many communities, there are scores of working professionals who can offer your homeschooled teen guidance on what to study to prepare for specific careers. Consider attending professional networking groups with your teen to learn more about the career that interests him or her. Get to know others who have spent their lives working in specific industries and give your teen the chance to learn more before settling on a career journey. You'll likely find the mentoring and career guidance your student needs to succeed, and you'll have a better understanding of the coursework needed to qualify for college entrance and scholarships.
Student Internships - In an effort to groom the next generation of skilled professionals for future expansion, area organizations often offer internships to homeschooled high school students. To learn about these opportunities, get in contact with the larger companies in your area and speak with the human resource department. Your homeschooled student can use the internship as experience to decide on a career path and also in a professional resume, while earning college credit hours that will give him a head start.
College Entrance Requirements - While there are many open admission colleges and universities, your homeschooled student needs to have the best possible chance of being successful in a career. Take the time to visit a few colleges of choice, and then find out about college entrance requirements. Be sure your student has access to the homeschool curriculum that covers the areas of the entrance exam. If there are areas that your student struggles with, consider hiring a tutor to help facilitate learning in order to score well on any tests and to write a college essay that gets results.
Don't let your homeschooled teen get left behind. When it comes to planning a life-long career, your student can achieve more by taking advantage of the resources available now.
About the Author: Steven Burrell is a business professional who was homeschooled, once upon a time. In addition to homeschooling his own children, you can find Steven reviewing college essays for companies like GradeSaver.





Homeschooling High School: Helpful Tips
Kirk Cameron ("Monumental," "Fireproof," etc.) and bestselling author Ray Comfort have just released a new YOUTH evangelism training program, called "ROOTS"! With homeschool quizzes and discussion guides, this six-session, video-driven course is perfect for homeschoolers and family devotions. It's recommended by Sean McDowell, K.P. Yohannan, Joni Eareckson Tada, and others. In the special guest post below, Ray Comfort explains why youth evangelism is so important and how the Roots curriculum meets that need.
WOTM Roots  
Why Do 80% of Youth Leave Church After High School?
By Ray Comfort
There is a well-known statistic that tells us that 80% of youth stop attending church after they graduate high school. As a parent, that's the most horrifying statistic in the world to me! Let me bring that closer to home: in a church youth group with 20 kids, over 15 will no longer go to church after they graduate. In a home, 3 out of 4 of our kids statistically will forsake fellowship by the time they're 18. The cry of all of our hearts should be"why?!"
I have heard many theories of why they leave: new temptations in college, no mom and dad bubble to be a governor for their sinful nature, exposure to new faiths and skeptical questions, not being properly discipled at home, going to youth group, not going to youth group, not sufficiently understanding creationism, etc. While these are real issues, I don't believe any of them are the reason students quit church.
I spoke with a youth pastor friend who spent half of his life serving youth full-time, and with the firsthand empirical evidence of years of leading, watching, mentoring, equipping, and counseling teenagers he said that he can confidently say that most of them were NOT SAVED. They didn't read the Bible regularly, they didn't share their faith, many were sexually active, many experimented with drugs, they didn't fight for godly fellowship, they were not givers, they dated unbelievers, and the list of goat-like qualities goes on. They simply hadn't been translated from darkness to light. They didn't drift away from God after high school; they weren't with God during high school. They drifted away from "church."
The real question should be, how can we help our kids clearly understand the gospel - the power of God to salvation -- and then equip them to live as believers?
Many of our youth genuinely don't understand the gospel, the whole counsel of God, and we often just presume that they do. And many churches and homes have not taught our teens that an essential, fundamental part of being a disciple is sharing the gospel, and then equipped them for that adventurous task.
Why did we create our new youth evangelism program "Roots"? Simply because there is practically no curriculum out there for youth about evangelism. My wife and I have 3 grown children with kids of their own. We wanted to create something to fill that desperate need in the Body of Christ for families and for churches and for our grandchildren. We want to have them hear the gospel, and then learn how they can bring it to others.
"Roots" is a 6-week video-driven youth evangelism curriculum based on Season 4 of "The Way of the Master" TV program, which was filmed throughout Europe. It also contains new footage, including special interviews with the Duggar family (from TLC's "19 Kids & Counting"). For more information, please visit www.livingwaters.com/roots.








College Bound:
Homeschool Friendly Colleges
Crown College
"Are you passionate about your faith? Crown knows the unique needs of homeschool students. After all, nearly 20 percent of our students have been homeschooled. We're looking for someone like YOU!"
Beginning in 1916 with four students who wanted to study the Bible, Crown College remains an exceptional private Christian college that is passionate in its preparation of graduates will who serve Christ and influence the world in a variety of professions. (Notable alumni include Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki, co-creators of VeggieTales.) The college offers a biblically-based education,a wide choice of majors, and a campus community where you'll make life-long friends. Students are welcomed into a nurturing intellectual environment where faith is foremost.
A degree from Crown College is not only an education; it's an adventure for the mind, heart and spirit. Nestled among rolling hills in one of the most beautiful lake-dotted regions of Minnesota, Crown College offers a place of retreat for learning and growth just 30 minutes west of the bustling Twin Cites of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The college is situated on a wooded 215-acre campus with miles of walking and running trails. The scenic park-like setting borders Parley Lake between the communities of St. Bonifacius and Waconia. Many other lakes, parks, and enjoyable destinations are within easy reach.
Crown is distinguished by its pledge to deliver a Christ-centered education that is academically excellent, globally connected, and affordable. The college offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs that are available online or on-campus. Opening doors to international experiences for students has always been a vital part of Crown College tradition with many opportunities for outreach, study, and service around the world. And as one of the ten most affordable Christian colleges in the Midwest, the average cash outlay for the 2012-13 school year was only $10,320.
Crown College offers over 35 undergraduate degree programs in numerous fields of study. These programs include: Biblical & Theological Studies, Biology, Business Administration, Business/Sport Management/Social Entrepreneurship, Child & Family Ministry, Christian Ministry, Communication, Discipleship Ministries, Elementary Education, English, English Education, General Studies, History, Humanities & Social Sciences, Intercultural Studies, Liberal Arts, Life Science Education, Linguistics, Management, Mathematics & Science, Music, Music Education, New Testament, and Nursing. Crown College also offers seven master degree options, as well as several certifications and licensures.
Crown College is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), an evangelical Protestant denomination. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The college is also a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).
As a community of Christians, Crown College has chosen to adopt principles and standards that reinforce and support a biblical worldview and lifestyle. These guidelines are at the heart of the college and its faculty, staff, students, and trustees. Crown believes in a covenant-keeping God, and therefore is committed to the principles and standards of the Community Covenant, along with the expectations outlined in the student and employee handbooks, in order to maintain the spirit and health of the campus community.
Crown College has a student body of nearly 1300 students. All students enrolled, whether full-time or part-time, are members of the Crown College Student Association (CCSA). The CCSA is organized to minister to the spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social needs of the student body, and to encourage standards of personal excellence as well as providing students with involvement in decision-making, programming, and outside-of-the classroom education.
Crown offers multiple opportunities to get involved with on-campus activities and clubs including: Storm Chaser Newspaper, Storm Tracker Yearbook, Student Activities Board, Student Senate, Acting Up Drama Club, Outdoor Adventure Club, Reel Film Media Club, and Men's and Women's Ministries. Crown Radio, the college's online radio station, is staffed entirely by students and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Athletics include both intramural and intercollegiate sports such as basketball, cross-country, soccer, softball, volleyball, football, baseball, and golf. There is even a professional 18-hole disc golf course on campus.
Crown is ranked as one of the "Best Midwest Regional Colleges"(U.S. News & World Report), one of the nation's "Top Online Programs" (U.S. News & World Report), and one of the "Top Ten Online Christian Colleges" (TheBestColleges.org). Crown is recognized as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs, and it is also a homeschool-friendly college.
"At Crown, we enthusiastically embrace the vision that inspires families to educate at home. Homeschooled students come to us remarkably well prepared, diligent and independent. They flourish on our campus and stand out in our classrooms...We are proud to be a home-away-from-home for the homeschooled student."
Home School Preview Day
February 18, 2013
This day is specifically designed for homeschool students and co-ops. Experience campus life for a day including chapel, class visits and more. Come with your family or bring your entire co-op. Learn more: http://www.crown.edu




Life After College
By Nancy Parker
I've been reading a whole lot of articles on getting jobs after college, how to dress for success, whether you should live at home with mom and dad or get your own place, and on and on. All of these are important topics to be sure, but let's focus on some of the more basic after college skills. Some things, hopefully, you've already learned by living away from mom and dad, and some of that you learned before leaving home. But if any of you are like a child of mine who will not be named then you need to get back to the basics a little.
1. For Pete's Sake (or at least your own) Learn How To Cook - You cannot eat out for the rest of your life. It's a waste of money which you probably don't have. It's not hard, really. You don't have to be a gourmet chef to make a decent meal. And you don't have to eat Ramen Noodles either. Get yourself an everyday foods kind of cookbook, look something up on the internet, or call mom and ask her how to make one of your favorite meals. But whatever you do, don't make this meal and leave the dishes to sit out for a week before you clean them. It's so much easier to get out one thing, use it, and put it back. Wash as you go along. It's much healthier that way too.
I remember visiting my brother and his roommate (and this is after college in a house they rented) not too long after they both got hired on at the same company. When I got there the house was spotless, but after I was introduced to my brother's then girlfriend (who I believe must have lost her mind) she told me that she had been working the entire day to clean. She then went on to say that they had hidden the dirty pots and pans under the sink and there were maggots on them! And she still dated my brother? Poor girl. So, my point is, don't do this; it's not healthy.
2. If You Don't Already Know How, Learn to Do Your Own Laundry - If mom didn't teach you this (she probably tried but you didn't listen), then go back and ask her again. Don't ruin your clothes because you are stubborn. Don't waste your money and take them all to the cleaners. Laundry is not hard. If you can get a college degree, then you can sort, wash, and dry your own laundry. I will give you a mini lesson: There are whites and there are dark colors, which need to be washed separately. Whites get washed with hotter water, especially if they are really dirty. There are nicer clothes which need to be washed on a gentle cycle and lower water temperatures. Read the tags that are located either on the back of the neck or pants or sometimes along the seam, inside, on the side of the shirts/skirts, or pants. Read the directions on the detergent or anything you are adding to the washer or dryer. Follow the directions.
3. Keep Your Home Neat and Clean - It's not really hard at all if you keep it picked up as you go along. I'm not talking about a deep cleaning right now. I'm just talking about it not looking like a cyclone hit and you are the lone survivor. Put your dirty clothes in a hamper, put away the snacks after you eat them, put your video games back where they go after you play them, and put your shoes away. Make your bed, or at least straighten it a bit, and make sure you put away those folded clothes you just washed. We already talked about the dishes; do them as you go, remember? Just keep up with it as you go and you won't have a big mess to deal with later.
Here are links to two sites about keeping your house clean. The first site recommends doing one chore a day every month and then starting over the next month the same way. This may work for you. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-schedule-house-cleaning-in-131142
My cleaning style goes more along the lines of this next site where you do a little of everything for thirty minutes a day to keep things up to par. http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/how-to-clean-your-house-in-30-minutes-or-less-2580107.html
Whatever works best for you and your lifestyle is the way to go, but if your lifestyle is to not clean at all it's not working.
4. Manage Your Time - I know if you graduated from college you had to learn to do some kind of time management. You had to get to your classes and do homework at some point. However, this does not mean that you did it efficiently. I have a daughter who did brilliantly in college, but a bigger procrastinator I have never seen! It worked for her because she has super human brain power and the ability to put things down on paper intelligently and quickly. It worked, but it was and still is a very stressful way to live your life. You need to plan out your time to some degree. I don't mean that every aspect of your life has to be planned with no spontaneity whatsoever, because that would just be boring. You do need a schedule for the important things, like being ready and on time for your job. This is important. Getting enough rest to do the job effectively is another important time management skill. You can't stay up all night and continue to do a good job at work. You need to keep your body healthy, so plan some exercise a few times a week. Set aside a little time in keeping your house clean, as we already spoke about above. You need to make a trip to the grocery store every once in a while so that you can make a meal for yourself a few times a week.
A schedule is not only important for getting things done, but it is a great way to keep your stress level down and be productive. You don't have to stop having fun, but you do need to start being a productive, giving part of the community at large. You need to start thinking about the bigger picture now and branch out from yourself. It's very important if you want to be a well rounded member of society and not just part of the every man/woman for his/herself group.
5. Manage Your Money - It's time, if you haven't already learned this, to sit down and make a budget. If you don't do it now it will be much harder later on when you are overwhelmed by debt -- that is, if you aren't already. I'm not saying that it's too late for you to get it back together, just harder. My budget starts out with giving ten percent to God. That's because I'm a Christian and I believe that He gives us everything we have and we need to give to help out others in need. I'm not saying this is the way everyone feels; I'm just telling you what I do. The next ten percent needs to go into savings. If you start this at the beginning of your career it's not so hard; you aren't giving up money you have already been used to spending. You need to save for a rainy day and for your future. Then put aside for something you really want but don't particularly need. If there is something you have your heart set on, instead of using a charge card and buying it right away, ending up with a whole lot of interest to pay back, save up for it. I saw a really neat idea the other day about getting a picture of what it is you want, putting the picture in a big jar, and throwing in money until you have enough to buy it. Some of us aren't that disciplined, I know, but it's a good idea for others.
After the savings of course come the bills, starting with the rent or mortgage payments, the utilities, insurances (which by the way you need or you will have more problems in the future), cable, cell, etc. You probably have school loans in what you owe as well. I read an article that they have set in place a "pay according to your income plan" to pay back your school loans. If it is not offered to you then ask about it. Check with all your creditors or the companies you deal with and make sure you are on the best plans they have. Let them know you are just out of college and need to be economical. You'd be surprised what just asking can do. If you do have credit cards, then you need to check on the interest rates and see if the credit card companies can lower them. They can do that if they want; you just need to ask, especially if you have paid your bills on time. If they won't then see if you can find a new credit card with a lower interest rate and transfer your balance to the new card. There are ways to cut back if you try.
Then, when you've taken out all the predesignated funds (and don't forget gasoline and groceries), hopefully there is some left over. Take that money and divide it by however many days are left before you get paid again. This is how much you have per day for whatever. You may sit at home five days a week and go out once or twice so you don't have to worry about how much you spend each day, in which case you should just designate enough for those couple of days. No matter how you spend it, you should still be aware of how much you have till the next pay day. Don't spend it all up front and then live like a pauper until you get paid again. This is not good money management.
My advice is to sit down immediately after getting paid each week (or bi-weekly or however it is that you get paid) to pay your bills and set aside designated monies. Do it that day, or at least by the next day, before you start spending and eating into money you don't have. This will wreck your budget. If you manage your money this will make your life even more stress free and will free you up to have more fun in the future.
Some of you are thinking that this is all just common sense that everyone already knows. It should be, but that is not always the case. This wasn't written for those of you who have it all together. This is for the more rebellious college grads that have put off growing up until now. Or the ones that need to hear that it is time to do so or at least to start thinking about it. It really does make you a happier, more productive, less stressed out individual to have these basic principles at work in your life. Do it for yourself, or at least for your dear mom and dad who have been waiting and praying for this day to come for a long time. I'm just saying.
Author Bio: Nancy Parker is a professional at www.enannysource.com
and she loves to write about a wide range of subjects like health, parenting, child care, babysitting, nanny background check tips, etc. You can reach her at nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com




Stepping Stones:

A Monthly Devotional, by Michaela Popielski
Hi guys, I have an announcement. Due to my schedule, I will not be able to write for a little bit. Between, school, work, and church duties, its been hectic and I am really down to the wire on the article. So, with that sort-of-depressing note, I was going over ideas for this month's devotional and figured why not write about love? I know it seems typical writing about love since it's February. But it seemed to fit, with a little take. What does God think about love? Obviously God is love. We've pretty much all been taught that, but isn't there more? We all say things like, "I love music." Or "I love writing." But what is love truly? This seems to be a question a little kid can ask, but it's a good question. I found some Valentine's Day history that might seem interesting. I won't put all of it on here due to length, but here are some excerpts.
"The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and--most importantly--romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France."
Interesting, right? When we think of Valentine's day, we can think of the above, love notes, hearts, candy, all that fun stuff. Obviously candy and hearts weren't mentioned above, but they do tie in. But what about the question above? What is love? A definition is, "Love: An intense feeling of deep affection. To feel a deep romantic or [physical] attachment to someone." Obviously love can be analyzed til it's worn out. There can be many takes and views on love. And there are. But God's love is different altogether. We know that, but how does he show his love? I have found some verses about God's love and physical love that we as human beings, well, love. Some of the verses are from Song of Solomon and it can get descriptive about physical love. Just a warning. I hope you guys enjoy this devotional and hopefully I can get time to write eventually again.
Feb. 1. Prov. 10:12, Prov.30:18-19
Feb.2. Ps. 145
Feb.3. Song of Sol. 1: 1-17
Feb.4. Isa. 40:1-11
Feb.5. Isa. 40: 12-20
Feb.6. Isa. 40: 21-31
Feb.7. Matthew 22:37-39, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, John 15:13
Feb.8. 1 John 3:16, 1 John 3:18, 1 John 4:8
Feb.9. Gen. 29:15-30
Feb.10. Song of Sol. 2:1-17
Feb.11. Lk. 6:7-36
Feb.12. Acts. 4:32-37
Feb.13. Rom. 8:31-39
Feb.14. Song of Sol. 3:1-11
Feb.15. Isa. 42:1-15
Feb.16. Isa. 42:16-29
Feb.17. Ps. 43
Feb.18. Ez. 17:1-24
Feb.19. Song of Sol. 4:1-16
Feb.20. Song of Sol. 5:1-16
Feb.21. Mk. 15:1-15
Feb.22. Mk. 15: 16-31
Feb.23. Lk. 28:21-39
Feb.24. Isa. 43:1-14
Feb.25. Isa. 43:15-28
Feb.26. Song of Sol. 6:1-13
Feb.27. Song of Sol. 7:1-13
Feb.28. Song of Sol. 8:1-14



An American Teenager: My Life and Experiences In Costa Rica

I am a fifteen year old girl from bright and sunny South Florida. What is something different about my life from every other American teen? I am one of the few who've been blessed with the incredible experience of moving into a different culture. Currently, I reside in the beautiful mountain terrain of Costa Rica with my father, mother, and my younger brother. We have lived here since the summer of 2010; however, we did live in the States again last school year.

Being homeschooled has helped immensely with our travels because it gives us the flexibility to venture the country as we please. We have traveled around to many places around Costa Rica and the surrounding countries. Sure, driving isn't always the most fun, but looking out the window and drinking in the scenery is fulfilling. Whether it is the touristy type activities like zip-lining, 4-Wheeling, horseback riding, etc., or the excursions we take on our own as a family, we always have a good time.
Costa Rica 

(Natural Hot Springs of La Fortuna, Costa Rica- It feels like nature's jacuzzi)

Though some may assume that Costa Rica is a poor or neglected country, that isn't the case. Of course, there are areas in Costa Rica that are best described as the "slums", but the whole country is not like that at all. Just like the United States, Costa Rica has their classes of people. There is the higher class, who live in big, beautiful houses, nicer neighborhoods, and nicer towns. Then there are middle class people who live in their nice homes, in nice towns; the only difference is that there might be a lower class neighborhood on the other side of the street. We have large shopping malls and industrial plazas; typical fast food such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's; and restaurants like Applebee's, Outback, Hooters, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks. These everyday amenities in America are newer to Costa Rica, but they have brought somewhat more of a "homey"like structure for those gringos who have either relocated to Costa Rica or are just visiting.
Costa Rica  
(Volcano Arenal in La Fortuna, Costa Rica- My family and I have traveled here on several occasions)

I get the common questions from a lot of different people asking me if I like it here, or if I have struggled with the move at all.

Of course, when we first moved here in 2010, I struggled ridiculously with coping. I never thought of us moving as an asset, only a detriment to my life in some way. I was acting out pretty badly, something I am not at all proud of, but at the time it was all I knew to do. Boy, was I wrong to do that. I wish that back then I would have been smarter and absorbed the move and thought of it as something that would better my future. To be honest, I love living here. Sure, there are things and people I wish I could have here with me, but I know that with time I will have the opportunity to enjoy it all again. The slower-paced lifestyle I have makes it easier for me to be relaxed and focus on areas of interest academically without much distraction.

-Raquel Brown





The World Around Us
Rivers and Relationships: Pharma-Pollution in India No Song and Dance
By Eleanor Frances
The people of India love their rivers. In fact, the country is named for the Indus, a major river that flows through northern India and Pakistan. The beauty of India's majestic rivers is evident to all, not just to its people who consider their rivers sacred (Ghosh).
lohit arunachal pradesh 
Even so, about 70 percent of drinking water in India is polluted, and there is increasing concern following the 2007 Larsson study of the water at a pharmaceutical plant in Patancheru. The experts detected an amount of pharmaceuticals 150 times greater than ever found in US waters (Nisha; Unnikrishnan). The Patancheru disaster showed the extent of the pressing problem of disposal of pharmaceuticals (Mendoza). Even small or trace amounts do not entirely dissolve and are not fully cleaned in water treatments, so they stay around to endanger plants and animals. Contraceptives contain hormones, including estrogen, which has been shown to act as an endocrine disrupting hazard, especially to aquatic life. Does India really need contraceptive hormones to burden a water system endangered already by contaminants in drinking water?
Although frequently targeted for population control efforts, Indian women are not entirely welcoming of the West's contraceptive programs. Brinda Karat, general secretary of All India Democratic Women's Organisation, has identified the specific political and financial interests: "Funding agencies which are concerned about the health - not of Indian women but of multinational companies - will be giving money to the Indian government, which will use it to buy the [contraceptive] injections," said Ms Karat. "So Indian women's bodies will become a conduit for international funding to multinational companies" (Sharma).
Meanwhile, Mira Shiva, an Indian activist and founder of the People's Health Movement, has stressed the duplicity of those who claim to be feminists yet support coercive population control programs. Shiva points out the commercial and imperialist interests involved in essentially racist, sexist, and anti-poor policies: "It is no secret that there is a complicity of interests between medical and pharmaceutical research, transnational funding for such research and international policies" (Shiva, 89). The population control agenda has joined with the feminist cause to push a program that is not good for either India's women or its rivers.
In fact, both rivers and relationships suffer under the pressure on the poor to contracept. According to the agenda of such NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) as International Planned Parenthood, Shiva further notes that countries in Latin America, where women were sterilized, should by now have seen fewer impoverished people. Yet, that has not been the case. Planned Parenthood is all about promoting contraceptives as part of a modern life style of empowerment for women. Their recent marketing effort employs Indian style of dance and dress to claim that women benefit by using contraceptives.
A case in point is a recently posted video on You Tube called "Planned Parenthood Goes Bollywood!" (Click here: http://youtu.be/Sw2REPmbtj4 ) In this video, an attractive group of women and men dance along the main street of a town that could be Patancheru, the town where an unheard amount of pharma-pollution was detected. The video could be a finale for a Bollywood movie in which villagers pile out into the streets in celebration of a wedding. Yet, this video is not marking the occasion of a man and woman joining in the long-term commitment of sacred matrimony, but the use of contraception. While the film is about America's political situation and not specifically commenting on India, it does call into question the premise of the video, especially in light of India's endangered waterways.
Specifically, the film is very playful and humorous. The central character is Pillamina, a woman dressed in a costume resembling a package of birth control pills. It even includes a tug of war scene between the pill-clad figure and two handsome Indian men. It is as if to say, go ahead and enjoy any number of sexual partners, because with the pill you call the shots. Although the original man is seen running away, the woman is smiling suggesting that with contraceptives there is no sense of loss. So, the woman can experiment as she would like without apparent consequences. Yet, is this simplistic claim seen in the light-hearted video presentation in any sense valid?
Research suggests it is not. A study conducted by Lionel Tiger, the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, suggests that biological process is an essential part of attraction. Tiger observed stumptail monkeys off the coast of Bermuda, and compared how they behaved after being given contraceptives. The way the contraceptive works is to mimic pregnancy, and the male is not usually attracted to an infertile or pregnant female, as the mating signal is turned off. Tiger's experiment demonstrated that when the female monkeys were injected with the contraceptive Depro Provera, the male monkeys no longer attempted to mate with them (Tiger). Dr. Janet Smith, Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, has summarized the study and discussed the conclusions reached. (Click here: http://youtu.be/Bevk4s1I0XM )
Given what the pill actually does accomplish, Planned Parenthood needs to redo the video if their intent is truly to be educational or informative instead of just cute and catchy. The educational version would show Pillamina first taking a pill, then dancing alone. This is because a woman on the pill appears infertile, so her signal will "go silent" and she drops "off the map" of prospective mates. There is a biological process at work, and Pillamina's fertility signals are not"on."
Actual Indian women express concerns that suggest they do not consider the pill just a song and dance. Their comments about possible bloating and unwanted weight gain due to hormonal imbalance probably reflect a deep-seated distrust of the long list of risks associated with the pill ("Weight"). For instance, hormonal birth control pills can cause migraine headaches, or increase their frequency and severity. This is worse in some women than in others. An increase in upper respiratory infections, sinusitis, menstrual cramps, acne, breast tenderness, vaginal candidiasis (commonly known as "yeast infection"), bacterial vaginitis, and urinary tract infection can also result from taking the pill ("What"). More worrisome, contraceptive pills also cause nausea, vomiting, mood swings, and depression as well as introducing an increased risk for blood clots and cancer, which can be fatal. Most astonishing is that all these symptoms are considered "normal" unless severe! So, contrary to the happy-go-lucky image produced by the choreography in "Planned Parenthood Goes Bollywood!", women on the pill are not dancing in the streets. In fact, after taking contraceptives, many may do just the opposite, by staying inside in a dark room until a headache has diminished.
Likewise, the main street that Pillamina dances along could easily belong to a city such as Patancheru that most likely lacks adequate water treatment facilities to remove excreted hormones from drinking water. Although filters have been shown to be successful, they are expensive and often impractical for developing countries (Dery; Balinski). Drug disposal methods may improve, moreover, but that does nothing to get rid of water contaminated by contraceptives, which are excreted when Pillamina flushes the toilet.
Renee Sharp, senior analyst at the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, commented: "People might say, 'Oh sure, that's just a dirty river in India,' but we live on a small planet; everything is connected. The water in a river in India could be the rain coming down in your town in a few weeks,' she said. 'It's absolutely the last thing you would ever want to see'" (Mason). Clean water is an international issue.
On the basis of environmental risks, it seems wise to explore equally successful alternate methods of birth control such as Natural Family Planning or NFP. As it happens, the World Health Organization has studied the success rate of NFP and found it is as successful as any available artificial contraception. What's more, the people of India have demonstrated the willingness and care needed for NFP to be successful: "One very large trial involving about 20,000 Indian women showed an unintended pregnancy rate of less than 0.3%" (Kahlenborn). In light of that willingness and care, it is time outsiders not impose a Western view of relationships on India, where even rivers hold a sacred status.




Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Chemistry of Attraction
Caution:Reader discretion is advised
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, everyone is thinking of love. Whether young or old, we all seek love at one point or another, some investing large amounts of time and money to try and find their soul-mate. If or when we find love, we give away our hearts. But what really happens when we fall in love? It's not just a meeting of minds, souls, hearts, or whatever you like to call it - people were not just "made for each other."
There is an intricate process that goes on inside our bodies when we first lay eyes on someone that determines whether or not they are a love interest. Let's take a look at the science that influences such an important part of our lives.
How long does it take to fall in love? Scientists and psychologists have come up with a vague answer that is, shall we say, in the right ball park - about four minutes. What takes place in these minutes is of the utmost importance.
Estrogen and testosterone, our sex hormones, are what first influence us. Testosterone is the male hormone, and estrogen the female, though both are present in both sexes. These hormones control the growth of sexual organs, and are what influence the first physical attraction, sometimes referred to as "lust." (Don't be put off by the negative connotation of the word; it merely refers to a physical reaction that is beyond our control and is not in fact immoral by any means. The immorality most religions associate with this is when we pursue those desires purposefully, objectifying the person to whom we are attracted. Vocabulary word of the day: objectify means to view a person as an object for your use, not as a human being deserving of respect.)
Phase two of attraction is aptly called "attraction" or"infatuation." The side effect of this phase is the love-struck obsession that consumes our thoughts so that our life seems to revolve around one person whom we hardly know. This early love is influenced by three major chemicals in our bodies: serotonin, adrenaline, and dopamine.
Adrenaline, which I'm sure we've all experienced at one point or another, is the rush of energy that makes our heart pound, and our bodies sweat excessively.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, triggers a reward based desire, much like what drug users experience when seeking a high. The surge of attraction chemicals that our bodies bring when we are around the other person inclines us to seek out their company, motivated by wanting to experience the high again.
Serotonin, most of which is located in our gut, regulates many things, among them learning, sleep, and our mood. People in love tend to have lower levels of serotonin, in keeping with the levels of people found to have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It is often thought that this would account for the obsession of many people with their love interest.
The third stage of attraction is known as "attachment." This stage is largely affected by two main hormones: oxytocin and vasopressin.
Oxytocin, released in both men and women, is present during and after childbirth, stimulating maternal bonding, and is released after we experience orgasm. The deep bonding the chemical promotes is speculated to be what draws and keeps couples close together, since they feel a deepened understanding and affection for each other.
Vasopressin, released after sex, controls long-term commitment and affects pair bonding. It stimulates a reward circuitry, encouraging return to the same mate, and bonding with that mate.
There you have it, love in a nutshell. What seems so simple is actually a highly complex process that affects who we choose as our partner in life. Here's a handy hint to tell if someone you like is interested in you: look at their eyes. It is often said that eyes are windows to the soul - to the soul or not, they at least offer a look inside. Studies have shown that a person's pupils will dilate when they are attracted to someone. So don't be afraid to look them in the eyes.
Madeleine, 16, says: "I want to help people and I want to tell stories." Madeline's book, The Box of Secrets, is a love story that calls on the real world for its inspiration. Download the Kindle edition at Amazon.com.

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Laughter, Tears, and Our Teen Years, by McKennaugh

Stop Crying About Toothbrushes
Stolen. The bag that contained what little resources that they had left to live on. Stolen. The bag that contained the wallet.
As if it wasn't bad enough that they had to live in a van, now the money that they depended on was gone. But, as her frantic parents wondered what to do, the little girl only thought of one thing.
She didn't think about the money, didn't worry about what they would eat, didn't wonder how the van could continue moving when they didn't have money for fuel. No, she panicked about...
...the toothbrush.
Her father's, to be exact. It happened to be in the stolen bag.
The three-year-old turned to her mother. "Mommy."
"What, honey?"
"D-daddy's toothbrush!" The girl was close to tears. Her mother probably was, too, but not over the toothbrush.
"Do you think we'll get the toothbrush back?" the little girl asked pleadingly.
"I don't think so," her mother responded.
The girl's lip began to quiver. "Mama, do you think they'll use it?"
"No. I'm sure they'll probably throw it away. Nobody wants somebody else's yucky toothbrush."
The girl was heartbroken. The poor thing would never be used again. It would be thrown away. Unwanted. Unloved. And she was in tears over, well, her daddy's toothbrush.
I was that girl.
I didn't care that our meager savings were gone. I cared about some old stick with plastic bristles. Life is sometimes like that. And I'm not just talking about slightly strange three-year-old girls. I'm talking about when, in the midst of things that really do count, we focus on the little things that, in reality, don't matter.
We fume over the cashier who couldn't give us a kind word. We stomp around when somebody laughs at us. We cry when someone says something cruel to us, instead of rising above it.
I wonder, if every ounce of energy spent on unnecessary anger and pointless worrying were instead channeled toward doing good, what would the world look like?
Would there be 153 million orphans?
Would there be homeless people roaming our streets?
Would there be members in our communities feeling forgotten and worthless?
How many times have we said, "I just don't have time," when faced with a chance to do good? Yet, that same day, we might have taken time to fill our minds with angry thoughts toward someone, or perhaps taken time to inwardly mope around when something didn't go our way. Taken time to snap carelessly at a friend. Taken time to worry about that misplaced box of pencils and tape.
In a sort of funny, parable-esque way to put it, we're crying over toothbrushes when there are things in our lives worth our attention. Worth our anger. Worth our tears. What if we were only allowed to worry and cry about things that we believe God cries and worries over?
I'm pretty sure we'd have to stop most of our pouting real quick.
Perhaps everything has gone wrong for you in the past week. Maybe right now you don't feel like anyone thinks you're useful. Maybe you feel like people are pointing fingers at you. Maybe you wonder if the world would miss you if you were gone. Your feelings crash altogether; you are convinced that your life is meaningless, no matter how your family and friends try to show you otherwise. For a moment, picture the homeless woman, shuffling through a frozen street. Nobody would miss her if she died, nobody wants her if she lives. She feels utterly useless, utterly worthless. Suddenly it feels like we're crying over toothbrushes, doesn't it?
Maybe you feel like no one is willing to stand up for you; no one's willing to agree with you. Think of the unborn child, wishing that someone would plead for its life and say the words that it longs to say, but cannot.
Maybe right now you're in a state of depression because you feel that no one cares, or pays attention to you, just because a loved one got in a squabble with you this morning. You probably KNOW that they care about you, but instead you choose to think, "They yelled at me," "They don't appreciate me," "I'm uncared for," or "I'm alone." Let me tell you what alone is. It's crippled kids forced to stay in cribs for their entire lives. It's fifteen-pound six-year-olds starving to death. It's a little boy named Viktor, screaming until he becomes insane...just because nobody has looked at him in five years. I've met these kids. Held their hands. That is what unloved is, my friend.
Next time that person on the street says something that you couldn't call a friendly greeting, don't stew over it. Instead, decide that you're going to spend the next few minutes doing something that matters.
Let our nation stop crying about toothbrushes. Let us rise up, take a stand, put aside unworthy thoughts and focus on what God cries over. It's past time for us to make a change. There are bigger things out there to find than a toothbrush.
McKennaugh Kelley (mckennaugh@inbox.com) is sixteen years old. She lives in Troy, Pennsylvania with a handful of crazy, creative, but mostly wonderful little brothers.



A True Friend is a Rare Treasure
By Tab Olsen
"Don't pity the girl with one true friend. Envy her. Pity the girl with just a thousand acquaintances." ~Katie Obenshain
Friendship is a special gift. It's a little part of yourself that you give to someone you care about. The value of a good friend is without measure. Friends are fun to be around. You don't have to say anything to invoke their smile; they simply enjoy being with you. A friend is always there for you, even before you ask. Friends are a comfort to us, and the perfect remedy for loneliness. They are someone to laugh with, or to give us a shoulder to cry on. They share our moments of triumph, and they pick us up when we are down. A true friend will be there for you in good times and bad, sickness and health, storm and sunshine.
Fair-Weather Friends
A fair-weather friend is not a true friend. Fair-weather friends only come around when things are going well. When the going gets rough or times are tough, they disappear. Fair-weather friends are nice to you when it's convenient and easy to do so, especially when the circumstances are pleasant or profitable for them, because then there is an advantage for them to be your friend. If that advantage is no longer there or is hindered in some way, then they won't be inclined to be your friend anymore. If they perceive that there are any difficulties, problems, or even a slight disadvantage for them, they will split in a second.
A fair-weather friend may at first seem like someone you can trust and call a real friend, and he or she may even start out as a good friend. But in the long run, fair-weather friends are not very reliable and they may ditch you for no apparent reason. Their personalities are such that they tend to be immature, selfish, wishy-washy, and apparently haven't learned the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Luke 6:31). At the first sign of trouble, or even out of boredom, these fickle friends will drop their relationship with you. It may seem cruel, but they're probably just thoughtless and don't hold anything against you personally, although they're not being very nice. They may not even realize that they've hurt you.
By the same token, if you feel used or abused in a relationship, it could be because the other person is a fair-weather friend. These fair-weather friends come around when they need you, and yet you can't count on them for anything. They never seem to be there on the days when YOU require help with something. They always ask favors from you and yet do nothing in return. They take what they can get and then they're gone - that is, until someday when THEY need something, that person may come back and start acting friendly again. They are using you - don't let them take advantage of you. A true friend does not simply spend time with you for selfish gain, but rather out of affection for you.
On the darker side, a fair-weather friend can be a false friend, one who puts on an act to get close to you but may actually be an enemy. Consider the terms "two-faced," "backstabber," and "traitor." These are the worst kinds of fair-weather friends. Quite simply, they pretend to be your friend because they have an ulterior motive. Once they have what they want, they will drop you like a hot potato. Have you ever had a friend turn against you, steal your boyfriend, borrow something and not return it, spread rumors about you, or talk behind your back? If it's any consolation, you're not the only one. Throughout history, people have been treated badly and had their hearts broken by pseudo-friends.
Just like Judas betrayed Jesus, King David had a friend who betrayed him. Even though they did a lot of good things together, and David thought that his friend liked him, this friend actually worked for David's enemies. In Psalm 41:9, David lamented, "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me." So when your friends hurt you, you can empathize with David, who wrote: "If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God" (Psalm 55:12-14).
Choose Your Friends Wisely
Although appearances can be deceiving, you should try to choose your friends wisely, because your friends are a reflection of who you are. The Bible says, "Bad company ruins good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33), and "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm" (Proverbs 13:20). Take a close look at your friends and make sure you want to stake your future on them, because that's what you're doing. Your friends should be a positive influence on you while building your self-esteem. True friends will lift each other up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They should encourage you to reach your goals, as you strive to help them reach theirs.
Anyone can be your friend when times are good, things are going great, or you're on top. But these friends are not loyal. They're there for the fun; otherwise they won't bother sticking around. One day they will be your biggest fan; the next day they may refuse to acknowledge that you exist. These self-centered friends don't want any part of your pain, trouble, or drama. When you're having a bad time, they are nowhere to be found. A true friend, on the other hand, is one who stands up for you and supports you. A true friend is trustworthy; she or he is someone you can call at any time of the day or night.True friends will never desert you in your time of need. A person who will do anything to help you, even when it is inconvenient for him or her, is a true friend.
Similarly, true friends demonstrate the utmost respect for you and your opinions. They will not belittle you, scoff at your ideals, or mock your beliefs, even if they disagree. In fact, they are open to giving your views due consideration. In contrast, a fair-weather friend will neglect you in certain situations or brush you aside without an explanation. He or she may abandon a friendship altogether for superficial reasons or changes in moral beliefs without a care for nurturing fair discussion. Fair-weather friends are often easily offended and simply leave when things go astray or are not quite like what THEY think they should be, instead of attempting to work it out. They would rather avoid confrontations and will go out of their way to ignore you, even if you try reaching out to them.
Best Friends
As the saying goes,"A true friend knows everything about you and likes you anyway." True friends are confidants who listen with their heart; they stand by you and stay there no matter what. A true friend genuinely cares for you. Conversely, a fair-weather friend does not uphold the concepts of loyalty and mutual respect. No one is perfect; we all make mistakes now and then. A true friend will accept your weaknesses, overlook your imperfections, and like you unconditionally. While a fair-weather friend is there on your good days but never has time for you on your bad days, a true friend is always there for you and understands you even when you're not making sense.
The best of friends don't necessarily agree with everything you do and say - but they lovingly challenge you to be a better person. It's easy to tell friends things that will make them feel good (and you should), but sometimes it's necessary to give them advice that may hurt even though it needs to be heard. A true friend will tell you the truth no matter how difficult it is, just as you should be willing to accept the hard truth when it's told in love from a friend. "Wounds from a friend can be trusted" (Proverbs 27:6), and that's the way it should be, because "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). We grow in maturity when we're open to correction from friends who have our best interests at heart.
The most important part of having a good friend is to be a good friend. You must go out of your way to help your friends and lend a hand when they are in need. To receive, you must first give. Philippians 2:3 states, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." By valuing your friend's needs above your own, you'll be well on your way to being a true friend. Jesus is the ultimate example of this: His sacrificial love for others was demonstrated not only through the humble service of washing His disciples' feet, but ultimately when He laid down His life on the cross. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends"(John 15:13).
Are you the type of friend who sticks around when stormy weather approaches, or are you ready to split when there's rain in the forecast? You don't want to gain a reputation of being a fair-weather friend - or even worse, a traitor. Take an honest look at yourself, admitting that you might bear some of the blame when things go wrong in a friendship. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you"(Ephesians 4:31-32).
Proverbs 18:24 states,"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." If you choose your friends based only on what they have to offer, you'll never discover the blessings of a genuine friendship. Casual acquaintances come and go. Goodfriends are hard to find. Best friends are rare. In the end, you will realize that you only have a few true friends. But it's better than having many fake ones.



Poems to Ponder


By Nick Maker
A Walnut to Crack
Much there is in the mind of a person,
Who's like a walnut,
Can't tell if the walnut is good or not,
But simply explore the inner mind of others and to see it crack open.
Is not easy to see someone's mind,
How it works and how it can be of a bad nut.
Maybe this person of a walnut has a scarring life in the family tree
that has not gained enough love to mature.
Even if everything is going peachy
And the walnut doesn't have a bad nut,
Sometimes you just have to crack it some more
to find the inner nut's nature.
The Rock and the Flower
Flower: Oh, my blossoming petals have bloomed through this season.
Rock: Well, you know, not everything is all about you; I can be as beautiful as you.
Flower: Don't be ridiculous! Surely you can't be serious; only flowers can be majestic and freely than you, horrid colorless rock.
Rock: Looks can be deceiving if you look at what's inside.
Into the COSMOS!
Behold! What shines through the sky;
Behold! The stars are as beautiful as diamonds;
Behold! Clouds that surround us as we see dark violet veils;
Behold! Our God created the cosmos for our fine eyes to see throughout the years.
Praying hands 
What darkness fills the souls of others?
The fear we lose our minds and the will to go on,
Only hope will give us the light to see,
And only Him, will reach us and save us all.
Think the Thinker
Why must I think about this world so much?
Why did He make me like this?
Why can't I stop thinking about life?
Only He has the answer and I don't know why.
Why, oh so why, can't I just close my eyes and be like the dove that soars without care through the sky?
Oh! AH! My aching head is like a stone in my head!
Instead of thinking this and that, maybe I should ponder what the problem is!



The Sports Report, by Caela
Sports Events in February
NFL: The Super Bowl was on February 3rd between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.
NHL: There are 352 hockey games in the month of February.
NBA: There are 181 basketball games in the month of February.
PGA Golf Tour: The Waste Management Phoenix Open is from Jan 31stto Feb 3rd. The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is from Feb 7thto Feb 10th. The Northern Trust Open is from Feb 14th to Feb 17th. The World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship is from Feb 20th to Feb 24th. The Honda Classic is from Feb 28th to Mar 3rd.
European Golf Tour: The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is from Jan 31stto Feb 3rd. The Joburg Open is from Feb 7th to Feb 10th. The Africa Open is from Feb 14th to Feb 17th. The World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship is from Feb 20thto Feb 24th. The Tshwane Open is from Feb 28th to Mar 3rd.
Ladies Golf Tour: The ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open is from Feb 9th to Feb 12th. The Honda LPGA Thailand is from Feb 16th to Feb 19th. The HSBC Women's Champions is from Feb 22nd to Feb 26th.
Men's Tennis: The ATP Open Sud de France, ATP VTR Open, and the ATP PBZ Zagerb Indoors are from Feb 4th to Feb 10th. The ATP ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, the ATP Brazil Open, and the ATP SAP Open are from Feb 11th to Feb 17th. The ATP Tour Open 13, the ATP Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, and the ATP Copa Claro are from Feb 18thto Feb 24th. The ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is from Feb 25th to Mar 2nd. The ATP Delray Beach International Tennis Championship is from Feb 25th to Mar 3rd.
Women's Tennis: The WTA OPEN GDF SUEZ and the WTA PTT Pattaya Women's Open are from Jan 28th to Feb 3rd. The WTA Qatar Total Open is from Feb 11th to Feb 17th. The WTA Memphis International Event is from Feb 17th to Feb 23rd. The WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is from Feb 18th to Feb 23rd. The WTA XIX Copa BBVA COLSANITAS is from Feb 18th to Feb 24rd. The WTA Correios Brazil is from Feb 24th to Mar 2nd. The WTA Abierto Mexicano TELCEL Presentado por HSBC is from Feb 25th to Mar 2nd. The WTA BMW Malaysian Open is from Feb 25th to Mar 3rd.
Australian Open
The 2013 Australian Open was won by both World Number Ones Novak Djokovic of Serbia for the men and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus for the women.
With this win, Novak Djokovic has won the Australian Open three years in a row. He has also won six Grand Slams, four Australian Opens (2008, 2011, 2012, and 2013), one Wimbledon (2011), and one US Open (2011). Djokovic has won only one medal, received at the 2008 Olympic Games; he won bronze in the Men's Singles.
Victoria Azarenka has won the Australian Open two times in a row, also winning two Grand Slams; both are Australian Opens (2011 and 2012). She also won two medals at the 2012 Olympic Games: a bronze medal for Women's Single, and gold in Mixed Doubles. She won the French Open in 2008 with Bob Bryan of the USA in Mixed Doubles, and the US Open in 2007 with Max Mirnyi of Belarus in Mixed Doubles.
Here is how both Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka made it to the finals and won:
Novak beat Paul-Henri Mathieu of France in the First Round. He beat Ryan Harrison of the USA in the Second Round. He beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the Third Round. He beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the Fourth Round. He beat Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the Quarterfinals. He beat David Ferrer of Spain in the Semifinals. He beat Andy Murray in the Finals to win the Australian Open.
Victoria beat Monica Niculescu of Romania in the First Round. She beat Eleni Daniilidou of Greece in the Second Round. She beat Jamie Hampton of the USA in the Third Round. She beat Elena Vesnina of Russia in the Fourth Round. She beat Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in the Quarterfinals. She beat Sloane Stephens of the USA in the Semifinals. She beat Li Na of China in the Finals to win the Australian Open.
Congrats to both Novak Djokovic on his fourth Australian Open three in a row, and to Victoria Azarenka on her second Australian Open two in a row. Good luck to them at the French Open in late May.
Hockey is Back
On January 11th the NHL owners and players finally came to an agreement to end the lockout and have the season start on January 19th for a 48 game season. Training camp was only about a week. There were 100 games in the last week and a half of January, so this season is 48 games per team. It will be over by April 27th.
So far this season, here are the top eight teams for each conference:
For the Eastern Conference: No.1 Ottawa Senators , No.2 Tampa Bay Lightning , No.3 New Jersey Devils, No.4 Boston Bruins, No.5 New York Islanders, No. 6 Montreal Canadians, No.7 Toronto Maple Leafs, and No.8 Pittsburgh Penguins.
For the Western Conference: No.1 San Jose Sharks, No.2 Chicago Blackhawks, No.3 Minnesota Wild, No.4 St. Louis Blues, No.5 Edmonton Oilers, No.6 Vancouver Canucks, No.7 Anaheim Ducks, and No.8 Detroit Red Wings.
So if the playoffs started on February 1st, the Ottawa Senators would play the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning would play the Toronto Maple Leaf, the New Jersey Devils would play the Montreal Canadians, and the Boston Bruins would play the New York Islanders for the Eastern Conference. For the Western Conference the San Jose Sharks would play the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks would play the Anaheim Ducks, the Minnesota Wild would play the Vancouver Canucks, and the St. Louis Blues would play the Edmonton Oilers.
NFL Playoffs
The NFL Playoffs started on January 5th. The teams that made it to the playoffs for the American Football Conference (AFC) were the Cincinnati Bengals, the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots, and the Denver Broncos. The teams that made it for the National Football Conference (NFC) were the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Washington Redskins, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Atlanta Falcons. There are three weeks in the playoffs: the first is Wild Card Weekend, the second is Divisional Weekend, and the third is the Conference Championships Weekend. The Super Bowl two weeks later.
Wild Card Weekend: There were four games that weekend, two on January 5thand two on January 6th. On January 5th, the Bengals played the Texans and the Vikings played the Packers. The Texans beat the Bengals 19 to 13 and the Packers beat the Vikings 24 to 10. On January 6th,the Colts played the Ravens and the Seahawks played the Redskins. The Ravens beat the Colts 24 to 9 and the Seahawks beat the Redskins 24 to 14. So the Texans, Packers, Ravens, and the Seahawks all advanced to the next week.
Divisional Weekend: There were four games that weekend, two on January 12thand two on January 13th. On January 12th the Ravens played the Broncos and the Packers played the 49ers. The Ravens beat the Broncos 38 to 35 and the 49ers beat the Packers 45 to 31. On January 13ththe Seahawks played the Falcons and the Texans played the Patriots. The Falcons beat the Seahawks 30 to 28 and the Patriots beat the Texans 41 to 28. So the Ravens, 49ers, Falcons, and the Patriots all advanced to the next week.
Conference Championships Weekend: There were two games that weekend on January 20th. The first game was between the 49ers and the Falcons and the second was between the Ravens and the Patriots. The 49ers beat the Falcons 28 to 24 to go to the Super Bowl, and the Ravens beat the Patriots 28 to 13 to meet the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Good luck to both teams, and may the best team win.
Caela's byline: I am the oldest of six children. I am a Christian. I love watching movies, playing on my computer, and I love watching sports. I want to go to Syracuse University, and eventually become a sports journalist. My favorite sports are hockey, football (soccer), and golf.



Nonfiction Book Review, by Libby
Book Review: The Insatiable Quest for Beauty, by Tiffany Dawn
Have you ever wished you were beautiful? Again and again, we are told that true beauty is on the inside, but in a photo-shopped world, it is hard to find our true beauty in Christ. In this heartfelt and honest book, Tiffany Dawn shares her struggle of trying to feel beautiful. She shows how a quest for beauty is an insatiable one, no matter how much makeup you wear, or how few clothes. In a blunt, yet touching manner, she lets every girl know that they are indeed loved by God, and truly beautiful, inside and out.
I liked: Everything! This is one of the best books on beauty I have read. I loved that at the beginning of each"coffee date" (chapter) she shared what kind of coffee she was having. I enjoyed her brutal honesty, as well as her chapter reviews. I loved this book because she is very well spoken, yet still approachable. She is sincere about her struggles, and she does not sugar coat what the quest for beauty is. Throughout the book, I found myself sympathizing and relating to her struggles, and this book pushes you to be a better person.
Overall, I believe this is the best book on beauty that I have read thus far. If you know any girl ages 13+ who is struggling with her body image, I would recommend this book!
Thank you so much to Tiffany for letting me review her fantastic book!
Check out the author's website for some awesome music as well as some book-related material: http://www.tiffany-dawn.net
As it happens, you can buy this book for your Kindle for the marvelous price of $2.99! So go, my friends, and purchase this fantastic manuscript!
Libbi H.



Emily Rachelle Reviews, by Emily
All Things Different, by Shawn Underhill 
All Things Different, by Shawn Underhill
Jake's dad let Sara into their lives; he never expected her to come so deeply into their hearts.

It's a rare thing for an author to contact me personally and directly to request a book review; when it does happen, I always want to say yes and love the book. With such a beautiful cover, how could I go wrong?

Then I started reading. I'm not saying it's a horrible book - not at all. I struggled through the whole thing with how I would review it, how many stars to give it, and the like. When I started, the book was wordy, weighted down, and packed with excess description - so much so that I completely skipped several pages and barely skimmed others, without it affecting the story at all. This got better, but not much, as the story progressed. I think the author was going for a more literary feel and just went overboard.

Still, I wanted to love this book. At the start that was nearly impossible; I've already mentioned the writing, but the characters grated too. Jake was a pessimistic brat and a jerk, while Sara was so bubbly and jumpy that it was unrealistic. However, when the two of them started to get along, the book became a lot better. There were still several times I almost put the book down, and the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I hate reviewing a book I haven't finished. This was mostly in the first half of the book, especially the first few chapters. There were other times I had to stop reading and was dying to go back and continue; this became my constant feeling during the last few chapters.

(I will mention that I *loved* the relationship between Jake and Sara, except for Sara's excessive use of "shut up"-- but then I have friends who annoy me with that phrase too.)

The factor of whether or not this is a clean read is confusing, too. The characters are flawed but good people, and very realistic after those strange first impressions. Sara has a dark secret, but it's not one of her own doing, and it's actually very noble of the author to deal with such a touchy subject in literature. Overall I think he does a great job of it, and keeps the characters' thoughts and actions true to life. But after several great pages, a scene will have foul language - one scene in particular is just loaded. I can understand its use in some places and wonder why it's there in others; regardless, my stance is that you can write that a character cussed without actually spelling out the word, keeping it both clean and realistic. There was one other 'clean' factor that bothered me, but I won't say it for spoilers. It's more of a Christian 'clean read' problem than a general culture or target audience 'clean read' problem, and it's actually the same one problem AnnaKate and I found in the Hunger Games. (Eerily similar, really, since the problem was created for the same reason.)

All that to say that All Things Differentis a good attempt at writing a serious, literary YA work that deals with love and life, but for me fell through due to overuse of descriptions and some general Christian reader problems. I enjoyed reading it, especially the last few chapters (which I honestly loved), but I wouldn't recommend it to many readers I know. Therefore I give it 2.5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
Emily Rachelle is a homeschooled junior in love with Jesus and the world of words. You can read more book reviews, as well as poetry, opinions, and everyday chatter at her blog, "Emily Rachelle Writes" at http://emilyrachellewrites.blogspot.com .


 Send your book reviews to: mail@homeschoolingteen.com



Game Review
Legend of Grimrock 
Legend of Grimrock
"Legend of Grimrock" is a fantasy game. Its gameplay is similar to "Dungeons & Dragons;" in fact, it even gives you an option to play on a blank, white grid. But if you're not one to play that way, it has a first person view where you walk through dark dungeons and fight beastly creatures.
Its gameplay differs from what I expected in an FPS game. You are not just playing one person; you pick and choose four of your own characters and then you control all four at once. It may sound hard at first, but let me explain how it works. You make four characters of your choosing, picking their race (Human, Minotaur, Lizard-man, or Insectoid). You can then decide what class they are (be it fighter, mage, or rogue), and also what their traits and abilities are (how strong or magical they are, etc.).
The combat system is a cross between turn-based and FPS. After you attack you must wait a certain amount of time (depending on the weapon or item), but you are free to move around as you like. This is good, as some of the creatures are stronger than you, and you must learn to hit and dodge them.
Now, for the levels and map design. In many places it's a big maze. I'm very thankful that they give you a map of the level you are on to look at if you get lost. There are also many clever (and sometimes devious) puzzles that you must solve. Oh, also, traps, watch out for traps. Guess it's only right that I mention there are hundreds of secret areas full of goodies (and sometimes, baddies).
The official campaign overall was rather short in my opinion, but it was well worth playing. Also if you buy the game on Steam, you get access to the Steam workshop that will allow you to browse hundreds of maps and campaigns made by other players. Which brings me to one of the best parts: the game comes with a map editor which gives you the ability to create, play, and publish your levels to the workshop.
In closing, the game is an indie game and pretty cheap ($15). If you're into gaming (or the fantasy genre), I would recommend to you this amazing game. http://www.grimrock.net .
-Super Searcher



Anime Review, by Xbolt
  Paranoia Agent
Paranoia Agent
Paranoia Agent starts out like your typical detective story: A series of attacks by a mysterious assailant, known only as "Shounen Bat." As Bat-Boy beats up more people with his golden bat, then rollerblades away from the scene, two detectives are on the case.
And then, the story takes a turn for the weird, somewhere in the NGE direction on the compass. The plot lost me a few times, but I think I finally got a grip on it by the final episode... I guess? Yeah, well, maybe I did. I admit though, the final episode was pretty cool...
I can't get into character descriptions, as that would ruin the whole show. The story depends on you learning the characters as you go along.
So, if you don't mind having your mind bent as much as Bat-Boy's bat, Paranoia Agent could be in your alley. Do not watch this if you are susceptible to headaches.
All 13 Paranoia Agent episodes can be viewed online: http://www.watchanimeon.com/anime/paranoia-agent
Visit Xbolt's blog: http://blog.xboltz.net



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