Diana's Homeschool Blog

Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!

Unleashing Joy

​If you are being crushed by pain, disappointment, or discouragement, there is an unusual choice that can lead to joy. . .enjoyment. . .even great joy. To help explain what I mean, let me share a story.In 1991, life was hard. My husband's career goal—being a long-term band director at one school—had crashed after he had talked briefly about Jesus i...
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When it's impossible, look up

Homeschool Blog by Diana Waring

Sometimes, our circumstances are so difficult that it seems impossible to keep going. But, I’ve learned that when you look to God—seeking His help, provision, and strength to make it from one day to the next—the impossible yields to something greater than you could’ve imagined.

A little over three ago, my husband and I moved from the Seattle area to Anderson, Indiana. Having just completed a three-year revision of World Empires, World Missions, World Wars, we felt like it was time to be geographically closer to our “work place”—the homeschool conventions where I spoke from year to year. If we were close enough to drive to conventions, we knew we would also be close enough to drive to support groups in a six-to-seven state region. That meant more year-round opportunities for speaking and displaying our products.

This has always been a major component of our business—and the main marketing effort for our products. So, this move to a central location was a great plan. . .until I got debilitatingly sick. Now, instead of greater exposure and increasing freedom to travel and speak, all I could do was sit quietly and try to recover my strength. And when convention season rolled around again, it became increasingly obvious that this was no longer going to work.

In April, 2015, after 27 seasons of convention speaking, knowing this was an absolute necessity for my health, I finally retired from speaking.

So, there we were, knowing only that we needed to transition our business from being physically present at conventions to being “visible” on the internet, but we didn’t have a clue how to do this. The future looked bleak, hard. . .impossible. All we could do—all I had the energy to do—was pray and seek God’s generous wisdom and help. (James 1:5 )

One month later, at a business meeting on social media, a professor from Anderson University (AU) introduced himself. Sam had overheard my questions about how to make a website “mobile-friendly,” and suggested that he had a team of university students who might be able to help. From that small beginning—and with the assistance of Sam’s team—things began to change for our company.

Anderson University Enactus TeamIn October, we learned of a nationwide competition for marketing students called Enactus, which paired student teams with local businesses to help them with their marketing for a limited time. Sam had mentioned our company to the business professor overseeing the AU Enactus teams, and, as it turns out, they thought it would be a good fit for their competition.The AU Enactus team that worked with us was absolutely amazing! They listened to us, they learned about our market, they researched strategies, and then they presented a marketing plan which would help us attain our goals.

The biggest shock to me in their marketing plan was the idea of doing “vlogs” (video blogs). I had never even heard of this, much less how to make it happen! But, amazingly, students majoring in film at AU had all kinds of ideas for me, and on December 2, we started.

Within eight months of ending my “speaking career,” a new door had unexpectedly opened—one that meets every need we have:

      • my travel time is now 10 minutes (rather than 10 hours),
      • my monthly speaking time is 20 minutes (rather than 20 hours),
      • my recovery time is measured in hours (rather than weeks),
      • with the internet, our influence is growing beyond what we've seen in years.

We are convinced that it is God who has taken our “impossible” and transformed it into “immeasurably more” than we could ask or even imagine. (Eph 3:20) And we are utterly grateful!

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Do you mind if I retire?

Diana Waring is retiring from speaking!

At the 2015 Cincinnati Great Homeschool Convention, I made this public announcement:

"As of this weekend, aside from special circumstances, I am going to retire from speaking!" After twenty-six years (27 convention seasons) as a speaker, it is time for an ending and a new beginning. So, today's blog is an introspective trip down memory lane, as well as my perspective on some of the changes in homeschooling since the 1980s.

First, the stats.

Beginning with the 1989 WHO convention in Tacoma, Washington, I have spoken at more than 300 homeschool conventions throughout the U.S., Canada, N.Z., Australia, Korea, Thailand, Hungary, and Scotland. Added to that are more than 150 homeschool meetings, ranging from "fireside chats" to day-long seminars to week-long family camps in such diverse places as London, England; Rotorua, New Zealand; and Hilo, Hawaii. I have spoken in every state except Rhode Island, Vermont, and Kentucky. One year, I experienced the climactic extremes of speaking in Alaska in February (-15º F) and Hawaii in March (75º F)! And, we've seen a huge range of audiences. With our three children, I performed a musical concert for an audience of 2,000 in Orlando, Florida, and, shortly after, gave presentations to as few as four homeschooling families in small towns in New Zealand. We estimate that, in all, I have spoken to several hundred thousand people across four continents in nearly three decades.

Family stats:

The Warings in concertAfter 1989, our three children traveled with us until they either graduated or were close to graduation—including to Canada and New Zealand. (They missed all of the other experiences, and we missed having them with us!!) From 1993 until 1999, part of our repetoire was to present a family concert—Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale—an entertaining look at American history through folk music. Bill and Diana WaringFrom Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, we performed over 100 concerts in mid-1800s costume to the enthusiastic response of homeschooling audiences.  After 1999, we began singing other styles of music together on convention platforms, including an a cappella rendition of "Java Jive." My indefatigable husband and best friend, Bill, has worked for the past twenty-six years, both behind the scenes and alongside me, at each of these conventions—apart from one in Tampa and one in Atlanta.

Favorite memories:

As I close my eyes and reminisce, the image pops to mind of my family belting out sea chanteys as we set up and tore down our booth at conventions. "Away Rio" was our favorite for this task, and usually had other vendors smiling and nodding in time to the rhythm. It made the work easier, faster, and it was incredibly fun! Honestly, setting up and tearing down has never been the same since we broke up the band. . . Also, having my kids show up again and again at my workshops was delightful, but surprising. When I would ask them why they had come (since they had heard it all before many times), they would say, "Yeah, Mom, but it's so FUN to hear you speak!!" I treasure those comments more than words can express.

Favorite conferences:

Diana speaking in New Zealand, 2009The most incredible experience I ever had as a speaker was in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2009. There was something magical that day between the audience and me, as they laughed uproariously at my jokes and shed tears as I shared my heart. I knew that they had given me a remarkable gift as they openly and instantly responded to every nuance of parenting and homeschooling that I shared.

And, then there was the first national homeschool conference in Scotland in 2005. Since my ancestoral roots are Scottish, I  asked them to consider me their long-lost, strangely-accented cousin. . .and they did! With vendors from four nations, the organizers were thrilled with the audience turnout—and so was I. It was incredibly honoring and humbling at the same time to be the speaker to thirty-five eager and attentive homeschooling parents. And, though the number may sound small, it represented something massive in that nation.

Perhaps my favorite convention in the U.S. was in Orlando, Florida, in 2000, when we spent an evening with Rosemary von Trapp, eldest daughter of Captain and Maria von Trapp (you can read about it here). It was another one of those never-to-be-repeated, magical evenings that live on in my memory.

Changes I've seen:

In 1989, when I began speaking to homeschoolers, the national movement was less than ten years old. Increasingly, though, we were seeing divisions taking place, as people vocally took sides over whether to have "Christian" support groups or "inclusive" support groups. Traditional textbook companies, who had only recently begun to sell to homeschoolers, vied with entirely different kinds of approaches, primarily "unit study" and "unschooling"—and each group had vocal supporters and critics.

In the mid-1990s, some in the homeschool movement were bringing other "outside-the-norm" concepts to homeschooling, including homemade bread, home births, living off the land, owning your own business, and  courtship. You may not remember this, but the BIG news among homeschoolers at the end of the 90s was the fear-based scenario of Y2K. It became a joke on January 1, 2000, when the world as we know it did NOT end—and many were left with odd "survival" foods, like gallon jars of dried celery!

When it came to moms (and dads) actually teaching their children at home, the early homeschool methods—traditional, unit study and unschooling—now added the much older Charlotte Mason approach (from 19th century England), and then, in a race to the past, classical education (drawing from the ancient Greeks, with a nod to medieval Europe). Online academies and even public charter schools made their way into the homeschool market. For those who wanted a bit of this and that, the term "eclectic" was coined. A veritable smorgasbord of educational choices, with an increasing flood of curriculums and materials, was now available to  families. But this did not actually make things easier.

In the past decade, the homeschool message has seldom included the idea that teaching your kids at home brings FREEDOM to enjoy learning, to explore areas of interest, to learn at a comfortable pace, to have free time in which to create or practice or try something new. Instead, we are often told that, in order to succeed, students need to accomplish more, work harder, do it faster, study more subjects than ever before. No wonder so many are finding this overwhelming! And, no wonder homeschool moms are struggling more and more with guilt, fear and failure.

And, yet. Week after week, we have heard first-hand stories of families loving homeschool, of students enjoying learning, of amazing creativity taking place. So, this kind of homeschooling is still alive and well. My hope is that it will grow and prosper!

What's next:

Watch beauty bloom in the gardenGrowing flowers and herbs and vegetables, for starters. I want to play in the dirt with my seeds, and then watch beauty bloom right before my very eyes. (Traveling during spring and early summer each year has definitely had a dampening effect on my gardening aspirations. . .) And, while we're ambling in the garden, I want to watch the birds playing in our backyard. So far, we've counted twenty-six species. . .but I am hoping for more! 

I am not completely retired, however. Though I have finished on the speaking circuit, I am still a writer. Gardening and bird-watching are just hobbies to delight in after writing each day.

So, what will work look like, since conventions are now a thing of my past? Along with continuing to blog about how to enjoy homeschooling, writing for The Old Schoolhouse and Home Educating Family magazines, and doing an occasional online workshop this summer, I am looking forward to teaching a nine-month online history course for high school students with Red Wagon Tutorials (the class is Napoleon to MacArthur), and, finally, writing an adventure book I've been waiting TWENTY YEARS to write. It is one of the most incredible stories I've ever heard, it's verifiably true, and I've got all of the original sources for it. Can't wait!!!

How it ends:

We are planning, with the help of a dear friend, to have a retirement party this September, and, possibly, an online party as well. In the meantime, if you have stories, anecdotes, thoughts, or blessings to share with us as we walk into this entirely new season of life, feel free to post comments here, to share with us on Facebook, or write us at:

Diana Waring
P O Box 1261
Anderson, IN  46015

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Meeting another Von Trapp!

Meeting a von Trapp!

Previously, I blogged about my unexpected introduction to Rosemarie, the eldest daughter born to Captain and Maria von Trapp. You can read it here. But, surprisingly, that is not my only experience meeting the von Trapp's.

At a homeschool convention a few years ago, I was presenting History Via the Scenic Route, a workshop about making history come to life using music, geography, science, literature, and more. . . The room was packed out, but, in the midst of all the different faces, I kept noticing this lovely, elderly woman in the back. There was something about her that was striking, and I remember thinking at the time, "She looks like such an interesting woman. . .I wish I could meet her!"

My next presentation would begin only fifteen minutes after History Via the Scenic Route ended, and, because it was in a different room, I had to hurry to get my computer and notes packed up and out the door. As is common, though, lots of folks had questions about the workshop. (Side note: it is not EASY to make sense when you are scrambling!!)

As I was frantically packing the last cord, I heard a warm and cultured voice say, "Oh, you are not leaving yet, are you? I wanted to share something with you!"

I looked up, and there was that charming woman I had noticed earlier. She had such an engaging smile, and I was delighted that she wanted to talk with me—but there was no time. So I asked, "Would you mind chatting as we walk to my next room, as I only have a few minutes to set up for the next workshop?" She graciously complied, and, with her husband, strolled down the hall with me, sharing stories of some of the beautiful things she had seen in Europe—stories that, based on my lecture, she thought I would enjoy.

She had such an engaging smileJust as we got to my next presentation room, as I prepared to reluctantly say goodbye to this marvelous conversationalist, she said, "I have one more thing I would like to tell you, but I am going to whisper it in your ear." This was endearing, and I assumed it was something of an earlier generation's manner.

Imagine my utter surprise when she whispered, "I am one of the von Trapp children. You must not tell anyone here, as there are always publicity hounds in every crowd."

I looked at her with astonishment and delight!

"Oh!!! I met your sister several years ago in Florida!! She was with Bill Anderson, and they came to our hotel room for dinner, stories and singing with my family!!!"

It was HER turn to be astonished. But, yes, she remembered having heard about that meeting a decade prior.

Huge smiles all around. So many things to share, no time left. . .Then, with a quick hug and a gratefully amazed heart, I bid adieu to a second daughter of Captain and Maria von Trapp!!!

Thought you would enjoy that story. . . I cherish the memory!!!

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My Sound of Music Experience

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Bill AndersonIn the spring of 2000, my family (Bill & I, plus our three teenagers) went to the FPEA convention in Orlando, Florida. FPEA has always been one of our favorites, but this time we were particularly excited as Bill Anderson, the author of Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, was going to be at the convention promoting his newest book. I had not yet had the privilege of meeting Bill, but we had been working together on the Musical Memories project for several months via phone and email.

As we discovered him amongst opened boxes in his booth, I was delighted to finally meet the author with whom it been such a joy to work. With great enthusiasm, my kids and I asked, "Bill, do you want to come over to our hotel room for dinner one evening? We would love to have a chance to chat!" He seemed pleased with the invitation, but hesitantly asked for one provision: "Would it be all right if I brought a guest with me?"

There is ALWAYS room around the Waring table for an extra guest, so we enthusiastically said, "YES!"

I was curious, however.

"Who is your guest?"

Bill motioned to a lovely older woman, standing off to the side, and invited her to come into the midst of our jollity.

"This is Rosemarie Trapp, the first child born to Captain and Maria von Trapp."

REALLY???????????????

As it turned out, Bill's latest book was on the Von Trapp Family Singers, and, during his interviews, the adult children of this famous family took him to their hearts. When he had the opportunity to come to the FPEA convention, he invited Rosemarie to come along. She actually did a workshop (I sat on the FRONT ROW!) and shared a bit of her life. She even invited us to join her in singing Edel Weiss, one of of the most poignant songs from The Sound of Music.

The Waring family with Rosemary TrappThus is was that, one evening during the convention, Rosemarie Trapp came to our room. We spent hours with Rosemarie and Bill, talking, laughing, eating, swapping stories and even SINGING! She thought it was delightful that we sang together as a family, because she knew personally the dynamics of performing family concerts. And, when she learned that we had just returned from a life-changing seven months in New Zealand, we discovered yet another wonderful connection—her family had also loved traveling in the Pacific region!

I have to say that it was a magical night. And it remains one of the most amazing memories in my life.

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