Alabama Bicentennial Schools – An Invitation to Homeschool Families

Alabama Bicentennial Schools

Alabama Bicentennial: Educate & Celebrate

The Alabama Bicentennial takes place on December 14, 2019! Commemoration of this special event began in 2017 and continues through the end of next year. ALABAMA 200 is a helpful resource for facts pertaining to statehood, educator materials, and community involvement.

Turning 200 years old is cause for celebration. However, Alabama did not achieve its many accomplishments by looking only to the past. Profound events in history were made possible by Alabamians actively working toward a better future for themselves and their state.

The Civil Rights movement had its roots in Montgomery. Our state also made possible the first rocket to put humans on the moon and the first open heart surgery in the Western Hemisphere. We are also proud to claim the first Miss America with a disability. Dedicated citizens who believed in a better tomorrow achieved these milestones.


The Alabama Bicentennial Schools program encourages the youth of Alabama to continue looking toward the future by making connections with local communities. The program is open to all students — public, private, and homeschool. More information can be found here.

We are all encouraged to improve the locales we call home. Achieving these goals requires that we go beyond our classrooms, fellowship halls, and kitchen tables. The key is to engage with the people and places around us.


Engagement with our local communities is a core belief at NGCHE. One of the state’s greatest untapped resources is its homeschool families. This labor force is available at a time when most other students must remain on school campuses. In many cases, homeschool parents or adult club volunteers can work alongside their youth. Modeling sacrificial behavior and instilling core values in our young people will serve our state well for lifetimes to come.

If your homeschool covering or co-op would like to become involved in the Alabama Bicentennial School program, we urge you to do so. Contact information can be found here on the Be a Bicentennial School flyer. Staff at the Alabama Bicentennial Office who oversee the program have issued a warm welcome to homeschoolers to take part. Project suggestions are available at the Alabama Bicentennial Schools website. Participants may also come up with their own ideas.

Whether you take part in a community-wide initiative, become involved through a covering or civic group, or just decide to volunteer on your own, set aside some time this spring to get to know your communities and the needs within them. Homeschool families have amazing potential to impact the world for good. Let us heed the call to service and be counted among those leading Alabama forward into a very bright future.

To find out how home educating families from Mobile and Baldwin Counties can serve their communities, stay tuned for the launch of the Northern Gulf Coast Homeschool Service Initiative coming in March.

Alabama Bicentennial Schools

Alabama Bicentennial Schools

© 2018 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

An Update On Our Progress

New Host, New Goals

Spring is almost here, and change is underway indoors and out! Our website’s migration process from the old host to the new is complete. A self-hosted site opens a world of interesting possibilities.

Our website shouldn’t look any different to our followers than before. However, if you do encounter any broken links or irregularities, please report them to us via email. You may also leave a comment on an individual post or page.

Current email subscribers will continue to receive notifications of new posts. Nothing more needs doing in that regard. Our fellow bloggers who follow us on will see our new posts in their WP Readers. Click on the “Follow On WordPress” button to once again receive email notifications when our new posts hit your Readers.

From the start, we have had both short-term and long-term goals for the NGCHE website. We just met one of our long-term goals by self hosting. When it comes to our short-term plans, sometimes we find ourselves responding to needs and circumstances that we had not necessarily anticipated. Such is the case at this point.

The Importance of Email

A common complaint among those who market themselves on social media is the unreliability of today’s platforms. Often algorithms change, with no explanation as to why. Organizations like NGCHE are at the whim of these algorithms when it comes to our content appearing in our followers’ feeds. Many of you just don’t see our posts. The general consensus is that email is the only reliable way to reach people in a timely manner.

At NGCHE we write and share a variety of articles. Some of our content is evergreen, such as our “Dark Side” series and PayPal® article. Other information is time sensitive. We don’t want to receive any more messages like this comment from one of our followers: “Wish we could have gone on that field trip. Saw it too late.”

Visitors to our sight will soon be asked if they’d like to sign up with us via email. The purpose is not to sell, share, or use your information for personal gain. We simply want to communicate with our families as quickly as possible. We can no longer do that by relying strictly on Facebook®, Pinterest®, and the like.

More to Come

Quite a lot has been happening behind the scenes at NGCHE this past couple of weeks. We love to share potential opportunities with homeschool families; but, we have learned the hard way not to count our chickens before they hatch.  Sometimes even sure things don’t work out.

We do have several substantial opportunities to present in the coming weeks. We are never offended if you say, “No thank you. That does’t work for us.” What we don’t want to happen is for a family to miss out on something important to them simply because they didn’t hear of it in time.

And, truth be told, the writer over here at NGCHE headquarters is thrilled with the possibility of generating a regular newsletter. So… What’s keeping you busy this spring?

© 2018 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

The Henny Penny Homeschooler

Homeschooling The Dark Side

Homeschooling: The Dark Side

Episode III: The Henny Penny Homeschooler

Last week’s Episode II: The Homeschool Pajama Blunder was a comical look at the dangers of relaxing one’s wardrobe a bit too much. This week’s episode is much more sober.

Remember the childhood story of Henny Penny? “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Poor Henny believed something that just wasn’t true. She convinced her friends of the same fallacy, and they came out big losers in the end.

The Henny Penny mentality is alive and well among homeschool circles. In our world, Henny Penny isn’t a high-strung baryard fowl with anablephobia. She represents a segment of well-meaning homeschool families who operate under a belief that is fundamentally flawed. Their mantra is not, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” but “The state is watching! The state is watching!”

What is meant by “the state” and who are they watching?

This is the easy part. The “state” refers very simply to local or state levels of government with the authority to pass or enforce laws. The “who” in this scenario is describing homeschool families.

What is the truth behind the motivation for the Henny Penny homeschool mantra?

• Nobody wants a visit from “the state.” Fewer experiences are more unpleasant than a social worker knocking at the door. And while you might think that homeschoolers on the up-and-up should have nothing to worry about, consider this.

DHR has been called on homeschool families for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with actual negligence toward the children or their education. Custody battles. Disputes between neighbors. Feuding homeschoolers have even reported one another. We’re seeing that play out in our own community. (This series isn’t called “The Dark Side” for nothing.)

False reporting is a gross violation of a family’s right to privacy. It diverts resources away from at-risk children. In some states it is a criminal violation. At the very least, the parties who falsely report neglect open themselves up to counterclaims for abuse of process or defamation.

• Nobody wants to be heavily regulated by “the state.” In a place like Alabama where homeschool regulation is low, families want to keep it that way. The general belief behind the homeschool movement is that parents have the right to direct every aspect of their children’s education without government interference. Each new law has the potential to add more reporting requirements or oversight, eroding freedoms that we will never hope to regain once lost.

• Nobody wants “the state” collecting data on their families. Data collection is big business in today’s world. It is collected on school children, in census records, through cell phone usage, at the doctor’s office. Go to a government-run healthcare clinic for sinus problems and you’re likely to have to answer at least one mental health survey before they’ll even discuss your throbbing headache. Even the ACT has begun to ask probing questions about their customers’ access to food and finances.

Who’s securing all this data? How will it be used? Will our particular responses be tied back to us or used in an aggregate data pool? When we don’t know or don’t like the answers, we tend toward caution.

What is the fiction behind the motivation for the Henny Penny homeschool mantra?

Fiction creeps in when we apply the definition of “state” incorrectly. “Local or state levels of government with the authority to pass or enforce laws.” Worthy activities sponsored by state-affiliated organizations are too often snubbed for fear that we’re encouraging some sort of regulation.

The name of an organization does not give it legislative or executive powers. A group called “Mobile County Homeschoolers” exists in our local community. Their name in no way, shape or form means they make or enforce laws, or help to regulate homeschoolers. That’s patently false and ridiculous. They’re just a nice bunch of people who want to communicate their location to others as part of their identity.

Let’s extend that logic a bit further to organizations or agencies that might be affiliated with the state in some way but have no legislative, regulatory or enforcement powers like Alabama 4-H or Alabama Bicentennial Schools. Do we really want to throw them in the “Bad Guy” box and slam the lid?

What is the fallout of being a Henny Penny homeschooler?
The fallout comes when we keep our own children out of programs and opportunities that benefit them and our communities. Many reputable organizations also perform community service. Being a Henny Penny in that situation has a double negative impact. Why would we turn our backs on opportunities to enrich our children’s lives and benefit our communities as well?

I was a vetted Alabama 4-H volunteer for several years and helped to charter an Arts Club. More than once I heard, “No thank you. We don’t want to be part of a state organization that collects data on our kids.” Yes, we took roll. Yes, we asked where your kids lived and how to contact you. Yes, the camp forms asked for medical information. This data was not used for nefarious purposes. If your kid has an allergic reaction two hundred miles from home, the right data would help the nurse and medical personnel know the probable cause and which pediatrician to call.

The data collected at local meetings was examined to determine the effectiveness of our programs and whether we were reaching minorities and under-served segments of the population. Parents did not have to provide any more information than what they felt comfortable giving at our monthly meetings. Empty blanks were acceptable. But somehow, the vision of the state monster lurking right outside the door was stuck in the minds of more than a few.

I serve as a homeschool consultant for two wonderful statewide organizations with public and private school enrichment programs. These groups are reaching out to the homeschool community with warm invitations for involvement. I’ve begun to sing their praises to my inner circle before the posts are up on our website about these fabulous opportunities. Guess what I’m hearing? “The state is watching! The state is watching!”

How is the Henny Penny homeschool mantra a self-fulfilling prophecy and what can we do to change that?

The goal of homeschooling our children is not to shelter them from positive experiences. It is not to deny our communities the talents and gifts that our families possess. It is absolutely not to encourage additional regulation of home education. But the Henny Penny course of action achieves all that in one fell swoop.

When is the rallying cry for additional regulation on home educators the loudest? When can we most expect “the state” to become concerned and consider tightening laws? Almost without fail that knee-jerk reaction follows a case in which a homeschool family has become unreasonably detached from society and something goes terribly wrong.

Are those extreme examples typical of homeschooling? Of course not! How do we prove that? We engage with our communities. We don’t hide under a rock! We enter that state-affiliated history fair that opened its registration to homeschoolers. We volunteer in the community. We meet with our city and county officials. We don’t let fear rule our hearts. Wisdom and discernment? Yes. Fear? No. Only then do we have concrete examples to show what homeschooling really looks like and why there’s no need to further regulate it.

If we are truly concerned about preserving homeschool freedom, shunning organizations like Alabama 4-H or Alabama Bicentennial Schools is simply barking up the wrong tree. We must stay in touch with our state and local representatives. The legislature is the key to preserving the freedoms we have and preventing future encroachment. That’s where we want to turn a watchful eye and be ready to respond appropriately to alerts about changing laws.

As far as the unwarranted DHR visits, there will always be people manipulating others for their own personal gain or amusement. Engaging the services of an attorney can go a long way towards minimizing the fallout from an encounter with such a person. See our Resources page for law agencies that work with homeshool families.

We are each free to choose the mark we make on our communities. Will we be Henny Penny homeschoolers? Or are we brave enough to engage with a world that extends the invitation to show them just what we have to offer?

© 2017-2018 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

The Homeschool Pajama Blunder, or The Day the News Came Calling

Homeschooling The Dark Side

Homeschooling: The Dark Side

Episode II: The Homeschool Pajama Blunder, or
The Day the News Came Calling

Last week’s Episode I: No One Home on Stanford Day was a bit on the “heavy” side. So this week we’re going to lighten it up with a completely embarrassing though funny story on the homeschool wardrobe.

Ditching public or private school uniforms is sometimes listed among the many benefits of homeschooling. Makes sense. While we’re sharing the ways in which parents get to take back control of their children’s lives, wardrobe deserves to be mentioned. No more buying two sets of clothes. No more wasted instructional time as the assistant principal conducts random wardrobe checks or teacher writes up the kid wearing the wrong color socks.

Sometimes we homeschoolers can even get a little silly with our lists of things that make us happy. Wearing pajamas all day is often at the top of the “Fun Benefits of Homeschooling” page. Especially when we get to brag that parents can do it, too.

This is not the shocker it was decades ago when homeschooling was in its infancy. Social standards have relaxed… a lot. Even a short trip out of the house to the grocery store or pharmacy might mean a run-in with a whole family in pajamas. If you go to a certain discount store that starts with “W,” the pajama-clad patrons are probably among the more modestly clad folks on the premises.

Regardless, the image of an adult still in pajamas by mid morning is not a positive one. We assume we’ve encountered someone so lackadaisical about their appearance that they deliberately choose to not dress properly. The sight of adult pajamas brings to my mind the horror of a mom with the most unexpected of company standing on her front porch, all thanks to an incident from fourteen years ago.

During our first year of homeschooling, I was enjoying the benefits of not having to put on street clothes before the start of our “school day.” Mike and I were in his bedroom getting down to business with A-Beka History & Geography sometime between 9 and 10 AM. He had on a pair of shorts and t-shirt. I wore my purple Pooh-Bear pajamas. I expected no one, had no errands to run, and so figured the choice to remain very casually dressed would be just fine.

And then, we heard it… The knock at the door. I expected a door-to-door salesman we could easily ignore. Or could it be a neighbor — perhaps my cousin from across the street?

We peered out Mike’s bedroom window to see Fox10 News reporter Renee Dials and her cameraman standing on our front porch.

I was so stunned at the sight, I forgot what I was (or worse, wasn’t) wearing.

Me: “What in the world are they doing here?”

Mike: “Whatever it is, I did NOT do it.”

Me: “Don’t be silly. They aren’t here because you did anything.”

In that brief moment of wondering why a news reporter was on my front porch, I completely lost my bearings. First thought that came to my mind was that maybe — just maybe — I could make a good impression as a homeschool family in our community.

What on earth would Renee ask? Would the conversation present the opportunity early on to explain why my kids were home? What eloquent answers would roll off my tongue about the benefits of homeschooling?

Confident in myself and our choice to home educate, and very nosy as to the actual nature of the call, I strode to the wooden door and flung it open wide. Oh, yes, I did. Me and my purple Pooh-Bear pajamas.

As soon as I reached for the latch on the glass door, I could see the expression on Renee’s face. She looked me up and down, and down and up. Why was she looking at me like that?

My reflection cast back the whole sordid truth. I was about to represent homeschooling to a news anchor wearing my purple Pooh-Bear pajamas. Great day in the morning!

It was too late to do anything but face the music. Though I wanted to slam the wooden door and crawl under something large, I opened the glass door and spoke.

Me: “Can I help you?”

Renee: “Uhhhh…. we’re doing a story on Griggs Elementary School and want to speak to the parents of some of their students.”

Renee was referring to the public school at the end of our street. Mike popped out from behind me. Renee gave that, “Why isn’t your kid in school?” glance that veteran homeschoolers are so used to seeing.

Me [in the cheeriest voice I could muster]: “Oh! We homeschool! That’s actually what we were doing when you knocked on the door.”

Renee heaved a huge sigh of relief and backed away quickly: “Ok. Thank you anyway!”

You’d think I’d have let well enough alone, but that just wouldn’t do. I called out to her as she and her cameraman all but sprinted toward the street.

Me: “If you ever need to interview someone about homeschooling, please do call again!”

Funny thing… I’ve never heard from Renee or Fox10 News since that day.

© 2017-2018 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

No One Home on Stanford Day

Homeschooling The Dark Side

Homeschooling… The Dark Side

Episode I: No One Home on Stanford Day, or The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

Our inaugural tale has its beginnings in the first two years of our family’s venture into homeschooling. We started in 2004, a full ten years before it was legal to homeschool in Alabama without a covering. What we didn’t know then is that we had entered the homeschool world during a time of change in our local community.

Our son Mike completed fourth grade in private school. We knew long before that year was over, however, that he would not return the following fall. There was time to get our ducks in a row. I shared the possibility of homeschooling him with school staff.

Mike’s second-grade teacher, Mrs. C., suggested a covering that we might use. We didn’t know a single homeschooler, but Mrs. C. did. She had friends and acquaintances who attended a large Protestant church in our neighborhood with an active covering for its members.

As it just so happened, that covering was opening its doors to non church members for the first time ever. We’d be the guinea pigs. The newness of the situation should have raised a red flag, but it didn’t because I didn’t know any better.

For decades, it was not uncommon for Alabama coverings to be open only to their church members. As the homeschooling movement grew, those coverings that would take anybody were bursting at the seams, especially in metropolitan areas. As the story goes, the administrator of one of the biggest coverings in our county called a few of the other covering admins and persuaded them to open their doors to non church members as well.

Armed with our yearly tuition and ready to learn more about what we’d gotten ourselves into, we attended the first covering meeting at the big church around the corner. The meeting took up a large fellowship hall. Lots of moms, dads, and kids were in attendance.

I filled out the forms, signed the obligatory statement of faith, and my husband and I enrolled our kids. I was optimistic that we would make friends and build relationships. I had underestimated how hard it can be for people to change their ways.

I seem to recall our family being one of only two or three at most who were not already church members. And even numbers two and three had friends in the church. As I was to shortly learn, information was passed around that covering primarily through word of mouth.

Details of new activities or changes in plans made the rounds on a Sunday or Wednesday when folks saw one another in person. Social media was a term as yet unheard of. Email was still the primary source of information for most coverings.

Mandatory covering meetings and business correspondence made their way to my inbox. Field trips that were scheduled far in advance would as well. But the moms in that group did some spur-of-the-moment stuff that was arranged only a few weeks ahead of time. Those events were the ones best-suited for the moms to bond while kids played. It was those events that I needed the most but always seemed to miss.

One church member in the covering (I’ll call her Ann) made an honest effort to be friendly. Ann would go out of her way to speak to me at meetings and turn-in-grades/gym days. I appreciated her efforts.

Ann and I met by accident at the public library one morning. She invited us to attend a play day set up just for our covering at Grand Slam, a local venue that has since closed. Kids could hit baseballs in batting cages, shoot hoops, play laser tag, etc., while moms chatted.

Ann was reasonably sure she remembered the correct date of the event. Those were the days before cell phones. There was no calendar to pull up with the swipe of an index finger. Ann promised to email or call me after she got home if she discovered she’d given me the wrong info. I wondered why my family hadn’t received an email about this event but counted my blessings that I’d run into Ann.

No follow up call or email correction ever came. So on the day of the Grand Slam play date reserved just for our covering, we donned our dark green covering t-shirts and headed out. We were going to have some fun!

The thoughts that crossed my mind when we walked in the door:

“Why are we the only people in green?”

“Those navy blue shirts sure are pretty.”

“I must’ve missed new t-shirt order day.”

“I wonder if they have any extras in our sizes?”

I let Mike and his little sister Kat walk about and decide what they would like to do before paying close attention to the moms. I had not made real friends with anybody in particular in the covering, but I did know the names and faces of all the board members.

Grand Slam was quite crowded. Maybe if I looked hard enough I could find Ann. No luck. I recognized no one.

I decided to go to the check-in desk and see if the nice lady behind the counter could help me. Maybe I could just pay her our money. That was when I got close enough to the other moms in their navy blue shirts to read the logo…

I don’t remember the full title after all these years, but I’ve never forgotten the feeling of my heart sinking as I realized we were crashing homeschool day for a local Catholic covering. Oh, dear….

I explained to the lady at the counter what happened. One of the Catholic moms standing next to me heard the story and encouraged us to stay. I paid our fees and we hung around until Mike and Kat were bored.

At the next meeting of my own covering, I inquired as to what happened. Ann looked mortified. The director was exasperated. I remember wondering if the director was aggravated with Ann for giving me the wrong day or for inviting me in the first place. The director’s complete lack of empathy for either me or Ann convinced me of the latter. For Ann’s sake, I laughed it off and sat down.

We survived the remainder of the spring semester, including the obligatory end-of-year swimming party. I submitted grades and whatever else was required. We had a choice to make about next year, though.

Mostly because of the covering’s convenient location, we decided to enroll again that fall. I know… I know… The thought of starting over with a brand new group was intimidating. Sad thing is that after a full year there, we still didn’t know a single soul outside that church who homeschooled. Besides, I wanted to give the church the benefit of the doubt. Surely they learned something from having non members in their ranks that first year. Like maybe send an email or call when you plan something in between required quarterly meetings.

As it would turn out, I couldn’t go on mommy dates or most field trips any longer. I took a part time job outside of our home that kept me busy until lunchtime. My husband Sam supervised the homeschool in the morning.

To understand the straw that broke the camel’s back, you need to know something about our first covering. The Stanford Achievement Test was required every other year. At least the covering arranged for the test to be given on campus. All we had to do was pay and show up. I wrote the date on the calendar and made sure Sam knew to get Mike to the church in plenty of time.

I would receive a phone call at work mid morning from my husband on test day. He was very confused. No one was at the church. The building where testing was to take place was locked tight. Not a soul in sight.

In fact, every door Sam and the kids tried all around the campus was locked. They finally attracted the attention of a maintenance man doing outdoor work. He unlocked the door and called the church secretary on her off day. She called the covering administrator.

Oh… didn’t we hear? The dates of the Stanford had been changed. Come back next week.

And that, dear friends, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It was already spring by then. Mike took the Stanford the following week. We finished out the second year, but we did not enroll with that covering for a third year.

Ann saw me out in public again not long after that and said the former covering director was being replaced. But it was too late as far as we were concerned. Our impressions of the covering, the people, and even the church were already set. The opportunity to make connections was lost.

It might be easy to shrug this story off as something that couldn’t possibly happen in this day and age. Facebook and smart phones keep us a little too connected to one another’s business, right? I’d tend to agree with you one hundred percent except…

Technology can and does still fail us. NGCHE is run through an open website/blog and has an open facebook page. Information is easily accessible. Yet followers still tell me they miss things. Social media is not foolproof.

What our first covering experienced was growing pains coupled with a heart problem. The growth they were faced with was inevitable. As more people joined the homeschool community, churches had little choice but to adapt to the growing numbers.

Their failure was not an unwillingness to grow. Their failure was in not preparing their hearts to love strangers as much as they loved themselves. That is a necessary component of any ministry no matter where or how you volunteer.

Today we can laugh and shake our heads about no one being home on testing day, and about crashing the Catholic covering’s party. Though we chuckle, we don’t want anyone to experience the same isolation or lack of friendship as we did those first two years homeschooling.

A list of some of the coverings in Mobile County that are open to the public can be found on our Resources page. If you are new to homeschooling, or find yourself in a covering where you do not seem to fit in, don’t suffer in silence! Contact us!

While there is no such thing as the perfect group of people or the perfect church, we know several pastors and administrators who truly have a heart for families and homeschooling. We are happy to share our recommendations with any who ask.

Episode II: The Homeschool Pajama Blunder, or The Day the News Came Calling

© 2017-2018 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Super Blue Moon Eclipse — Super Science Activity or Super Bust?

Super Blue Moon Eclipse

On January 31, 2018, the Western Hemisphere will experience a Super Blue Moon Eclipse. That’s a mouthful. What does all that mean?

Super Moon: A full or new moon occurring when the moon is at or near its closest point to the earth (perigee). A new moon at perigee does not exactly make for big excitement. The term “Super Moon” most often refers to the condition when the moon is full and at perigee.

Blue Moon: “Second full moon in a calendar month” is the accepted 20th century layman’s definition of the term, though not technically correct. The historical meaning of a Blue Moon was simply a rare or absurd event. The precise scientific definition of the term is so complicated even astronomers have trouble explaining it.

Eclipse: A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the earth’s shadow. The penumbra is the lighter outer shadow during which the moon is only partially blocked. The penumbral shadow is usually not noticeable. The umbra is the dark center of the eclipse shadow.

Residents along the Northern Gulf Coast will find the moon low in the west before sunrise January 31st. To see anything, you will need a clear view of the western horizon. Will you experience enough of the eclipse to warrant waking a house full of homeschool sleepyheads before the crack of dawn? Let’s see.

The time required for the earth’s dark umbral shadow to pass over the moon will be approximately three hours and 23 minutes. Totality will last a little more than one hour and fifteen minutes. We used the US Naval Observatory’s Lunar Eclipse Computer to pull up the following information.

The January 31 Super Blue Moon will enter penumbra at 4:49 AM, umbra at 5:48 AM, and totality at 6:51 AM. (Central Standard Time).

Pensacola – Moonset: 6:41 AM

Mobile – Moonset: 6:45 AM

Gulfport – Moonset: 6:48 AM

New Orleans – Moonset: 6:52 AM

Beaumont – Moonset: 7:09 AM

Umbra is where the excitement occurs, with totality representing the fullness of the umbral shadow. Locations east of New Orleans will not experience totality before the moon sets. The Big Easy will get about one minute of it. Our friends in Beaumont with unobstructed views of the western horizon will witness almost 20 minutes of the moon’s complete disappearance.

For most Northern Gulf Coast families observing the eclipse from neighborhoods where trees and homes obstruct the horizon, there will not be anything to see. If you have access to a clear western view, are an early riser, and don’t mind the cold, you might just catch a glimpse of the Super Blue Moon Eclipse.

Original photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash

© 2017-2018 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Mardi Gras in Mobile!

Mardi Gras Mobile Alabama

It’s time for Mardi Gras to roll on the streets of downtown Mobile, Alabama! The Conde Cavaliers kick off Mobile’s parade season this evening at 6:30 PM on Route A. Parades and celebrations will continue through Fat Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

What’s the best advice for folks attending the parades? Arrive early. Bring a coat… and your patience. It takes awhile for all that traffic to clear out after the last float passes by. Do not park on the parade route. (See the City of Mobile’s Mardi Gras page for more tips on parking.) Do not cross the barricades during the parades – ever – no matter how tempting that unattended strand of beads might be.

Carnival is celebrated all along the Northern Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Pensacola. Mobile lays claim to the title “Birthplace of Mardi Gras.” However, our baby’s actual date of birth depends largely on whom you ask. The location may be settled, but the exact year is still up for debate.

The Cowbellion society is often credited with holding the very first Mardi Gras parade. Their story begins with one man’s chance encounter with a garden rake and string of cowbells at a Mobile hardware store in the 1830’s. Others attest that the celebration goes back at least a hundred years before that to the early 1700’s when Mobile was known as Twenty-Seven-Mile Bluff.

Whether you’re a history buff or just here for the moon pies, the info-to-know is in the Mobile Mask magazine. Print copies may be purchased at multiple locations around town. The Mobile Mask website has a list of those locations as well as an accurate schedule of parades, balls, and parade routes.

Follow Mobile Mask on facebook for a fabulous recap of the parades, celebrations, and festivities, that take place in Southwest Alabama. Plus you’ll always stay in the loop with year-round info on all things Mardi Gras.

Steve Joynt is the creator and editor of Mobile Mask and our resident Mardi Gras expert. Look for Steve’s personal experiences and observations, or Mardi Gras Moments, on the Mobile Mask facebook page. His anecdotes give followers a glimpse of the personal side of the festivities. If you’re like us and love a good story, you won’t be disappointed.

© 2017-2018 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Mid January Updates 2018

Homeschool Seminar, Outdoor Adventure Skills Class, Bird Banding, Summer Summit

2018 – Off and Running launched the New Year at NGCHE. It’s only mid-January, but already we are tickled pink by the wonderful opportunities for homeschool families along the Gulf Coast! Below are a few of the “big things” on our calendar for the upcoming months.

In conjunction with National School Choice Week, and in partnership with Homeschool Now USA, NGCHE will host a short seminar for families considering homeschooling as an educational option. Our Get-to-Know Homeschooling Informational Meeting takes place Thursday, January 25th from 6 – 7 PM at the Moorer/Spring Hill Branch of the Mobile Public Library. Anyone interested in learning more about homeschooling as an educational option is welcome to join us for this free event.

Brinkley Hutchings of Nature Connect Alabama will host an Outdoor Adventure Skills Class for children ages 8-13 at the Village Point Park Preserve in Daphne on February 7 from 9 AM – 1 PM. Long range forecasts predict a return to “normal” Gulf Coast weather within the next few days. Highs in the 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s are expected throughout most of February. An outdoor class that promises adventure, learning, and fun will be just the thing for youngsters with cabin fever. If those long-range weather forecasts don’t hold up, the class will reschedule in case of inclement weather.

NGCHE will join the Birmingham Audubon Society and its partners for Coastal Bird Banding at Fort Morgan, Alabama. This annual spring event is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to observe the capture, banding, and release of birds on their spring migration toward breeding grounds farther south. The event takes place April 17-21, 2018. Since the event is weather-dependent, we will wait until closer to mid-April to choose the exact day. Please pencil in the 17th – 20th as possible dates of attendance.

Teach Them Diligently comes to downtown Mobile May 3-5th. Several years have passed since a major homeschool conference was held in the Port City. TTD gives visitors the opportunity to meet with curricula publishers, support groups, college reps, and other exhibitors with a Christian worldview. Look for Heather from NGCHE volunteering at the conference.

Mobile’s first Summer Summit is coming to Camp Christian on August 4th, 2018. The summit is a unique event focusing on Faith, Friendships, Food and Fun for homeschool moms. Vendor booths will be available for those attendees with small businesses or used curricula to sell. All homeschool moms are invited to join us regardless of where you live. For our friends driving in from out of town, Camp Christian is conveniently located a minute or so from I-10 in the Theodore community southwest of Mobile.

We are excited about these opportunities and others in the works right now. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want more information about anything you see on our website. We look forward to meeting new friends and old in the Gulf Coast Homeschool Community in 2018.


© 2018 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Six Times to Action – A Post About Human Nature

Six Times to Action - Human Nature

Recently I took a short online training course that equipped me to present a homeschooling seminar. For the sake of the seminar and NGCHE, I am keen to learn anything legitimate to help with marketing. (Okay… I’m a bit of a nerd. I must be learning something new or I get bored. But don’t tell anyone.)

As soon as I heard the following little nugget of wisdom, my ears perked right up.

Research indicates that the average person must be shown something SIX times before he or she acts on it.

I gave this serious consideration. I thought about what I see regularly that requires action of some sort. I’m not much of a shopper, and would like to think (probably erroneously so) that I am not easily swayed by advertising for “stuff.” What might interest me enough to act upon it? A field trip! But certainly it doesn’t take a smart girl like me six times to make up my mind?!

Deciding to test out this newly learned rule of thumb, I thought about how I typically respond to a field trip. We’ll use a fictional field trip to our state capital as an example.

1. Let’s say I’m scrolling through Facebook and come across the state capital field trip posted by a friendly homeschool group. What do I do? Probably mull it over for a second or two and keep going.

The event interests me, but I have this irresistible urge to ingest all of my Facebook news feed before I can make any decisions about my future. I reach the end of my feed or attention span, whichever comes first. But now I have a bit of a problem. Since I was only casually browsing, I didn’t bother to record any of the interesting things I saw to act upon them later.

2. Tomorrow rolls around. I scroll through Facebook for more casual fun. But there’s a nagging feeling that I was supposed to remember to do something. It must have been something buried in yesterday’s info. Do I bypass today’s juicy news and go straight to yesterday? Heavens, no! I might miss something! Thirty minutes later I finally reach the 24-hours-ago mark and wade through the information I’ve seen already. There is it! But by now something or someone needs my undivided attention. A field trip will have to wait.

3. Days three, four, and five pass with no action from me on the trip. Why? Well, life. Still that gnawing feeling is reminding me I was supposed to look something up. What was it? The state capital trip! That’s it. Who posted the darned thing? Sigh.

I make it a point to visit each of my favorite homeschool group’s pages. Clicking… Clicking… Clicking… and find it in the third place I look. Here we are at day six and I’m just now reading the description. It’s out of town, could require me to juggle my schedule for the week, and might cost a few bucks. On the back “MAYBE” burner it goes. Before I leave, I do myself a favor and mark “Interested” in the event.

4. Days seven and eight go by. Day nine in Facebook land and I notice that a friend has also marked “Interested” in the state capital trip. Hmmm… Someone there we’d know. The event is on my radar again. I mull it over and decide to message the friend to see if they’re really “Interested” in going.

5. Day 10 arrives and the friend may or may not go. “Interested” for her translated into a distant “plan C” in case everything else fell through. But by now I’ve almost talked myself into going. I check the calendar for that week. Nothing on that particular day to which we’re already committed. What to do? What to do? Off to something else I go while I think it over one last time.

6. If I see it again in my feed, a friend’s or mentioned in some other way, I’ll be ready to track down the host to pay. If not…

It’s at this point that I am on the verge of making a decision about the event. If the host is not an aggressive marketer and only mentions their events once or twice, odds are it will fall off my radar and I’ll never consider it again. But if the group understands the importance of repetition, there’s a strong chance the next mention of the field trip will be the tipping point at which I take action.

And there it is. A real life example from someone who considers herself to be serious and thoughtful when it comes to events. Not marking “Interested” unless I really am. Showing up when I say I will. Put yourself in my shoes and consider any event that might pop up in your social circles: a party, church function (sorry Pastors), fundraiser, etc. Odds are it takes you multiple exposures to act on the event.

The conclusion I drew from this led me to believe the Six-Times-to-Action rule is accurate. It explains why people with a product, group, or idea to sell always seem to be talking about it. It explains why you didn’t get as many responses to your Valentine’s Day party as you thought you would. It’s not that nobody saw it at all. It’s just that the average person takes awhile to process it enough to act on it. And you didn’t want to be obnoxious.

Trying to remember something? Tack it up in multiple places. Teaching your kids a new concept? Review, review, review. Marketing a new idea? Post it. Share it. Talk about it. But don’t give up! If someone asks you why you’re always bringing something up, you can reply in all truth, “It’s just human nature.” They don’t have to know it’s their nature you’re talking about.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl; but, whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Original photo by Haeruman, Pixabay.

© 2018 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Honoring our Veterans

Veterans Day Celebration 2017 collage with logo

William F. Green State Veterans Home celebration; Bayside Belles of Daphne

NGCHE paid a visit to the William F. Green State Veterans Home in Bay Minette, Alabama, today for their public Veterans Day ceremony. What an honor to celebrate those brave men and women! We arrived with approximately 160 handmade cards to pass out to the residents. The Bayside Belles of Daphne helped us out.

We enjoyed the ceremonies and were impressed with the program and the many guests. But today’s highlight did not come out of the pomp and circumstance. It was one of those personal experiences gained from spending time with another person, from engaging in his world for a few moments.

After the program ended, we made the rounds through the facility. We stopped in the dining hall to shake the hand of a WWII veteran who had flown on the third Honor Flight out of Mobile, Alabama, to Washington, DC. As we thanked him for his service, he began to cry and squeeze my hand tighter.

A couple of us had been on a trip to DC just a few years ago. We told of visiting some of the same memorials and landmarks as he had done and what that meant to us. I thought of how much we owed him for his service, and all those who came before and after. “Thank You” just doesn’t seem to be enough, but it’s a start.

We met and thanked many veterans today from all branches of service. But the appreciation in the eyes of the Honor Flight vet stuck with us. A man who deserved all the thanks in the world, who had seen more horrors than most, had the most thankful heart of all.

© 2017 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators