Free Homeschool Chat

Let's try something new shall we?

I love connecting with people, blog readers included. FIMBY readers have enriched my life so much. And the people I've managed to meet in person, because of this blog, (two more this summer!) have been the icing on the cake.

After a difficult season of feeling inept in my inability to create, market and support any new products, I've been doing some soul searching about the work I love doing and the work I don't love doing. I've been thinking about my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to online work and income earning avenues - product sales, services, advertising, and affiliates.

I'm tired of thinking "how can I monetize this and how can increase this and how can I market this", when what I really want is to just live true to who I am and what I value.

For many reasons, which I will explain in a different post, I am totally tapped out in the online entrepreneurial scene and I'm going through a personal revolt and rebellion against always trying to work against my natural inclinations.

I lost my confidence for a season and I'm finding it again by doing what comes naturally to me.

I would like to put aside the nagging question, "am I doing this right" and simply "do" what I love, without campaigns, launches, and "likes".

What do I love? Connecting with people, sharing beauty, encouraging and teaching, living and writing a good life story.

So that's the work I'm going to do right now. And that work might not earn us any money, and we're ok with that. (Again, more on that later).

Lucky you (smile) because I want to play around with some free stuff.

Truly free. Not free if you like, tweet, subscribe or whatever. I hate jumping through hoops and yet it's become the most commonplace thing on the web - free if you subscribe, free if you share, free if... (soul sucking free if you ask me). What happened to "free"?

Not free so you will spread my name far and wide, but free because I want to do something for you, no strings attached.

I love connecting with blog readers. FIMBY is my home on the internet, it's personal to me. And I get questions and comments about the stuff I write that I would love to spend more time responding to but I just can't. It's too time consuming to write all that. But talking... now that I have time for. Heck! I love to talk.

Let's get together for a chat.

You can ask me questions about stuff and I will try to come up with thoughtful, intelligent, and kind responses. But I might also just speak off the cuff, in which case I will try to run it through the kind filter but I can't promise intelligence! But because it's free I don't have to worry about that. I'm bringing myself, just as I am. Will you bring yourself?

I have an idea in mind to try these internet chats once a month or so, depending on how this one works out. I have a few topics in mind:

  • Family plant-based eating that doesn't leave you chained to the kitchen. Or this talk could go in whatever direction you want to take it.
  • Be your own family - having the courage to live your values (and maybe you need some help unearthing those values first).
  • Family outdoors. If you want to get outdoors more with your family I have tons of experience to share.
  • Personal growth stuff. Let's see... I've left behind security (hugely important to me) to take a leap into the unknown with my husband, I'm an attached homeschool mom raising three hurtling-towards-independence children, I'm trying to figure out my path as a writer, etc. There has been personal growth, in spades, in the past couple years of my life. Where are you growing personally? How can I support and encourage you there? Let's talk about it!
  • Moving and adventure. These two don't have to go together but often people move to start a new adventure in their lives. We've moved four times in the past two years, we're becoming adventure junkies. Got questions about starting over, finding friends, connecting, etc? Or maybe you're just lonely in this place and want to chat. I'd love to connect with you.
  • Homemaking in general. My career for the past seventeen years (with a couple years practice before that) has been to make and manage our home. I have a few tricks up my sleeve and I love to help people get organized especially.

Basically, if I've written about it and you've thought "hum, I'd like to pick Renee's brain about that", it's an idea on the table. And yes, I can even answer your questions about soapmaking.

But, let's get started with something I'm used to talking with you about - homeschooling.

A Free Homeschool Chat

This chat will be about homeschooling concerns and questions in general but I'd like to target it towards late elementary, middle school, and transition to high school years since I haven't offered anything for those ages yet.

However, the chat will really take on the flavor the group who registers and if the group wants to talk about early elementary then that's where I'll be.

Date: Wednesday, August 7th

Time: 4pm EST

Here's how this will work

  • I am offering this talk via Skype audio. You are responsible for figuring out how Skype works, I can't offer technical support. Once your Skype account is in place (and tested, which is your responsibility) I will tell you how to proceed. And if you have hang-ups about using Skype this is the perfect time to get over them!
  • I will come with my brain engaged, my heart ready to talk and connect with you, just like if we were to meet at the local cafe for a chat. I'm not going to be prepare a bunch in advance (the freedom of free) but you will have my undivided time and attention for the duration of our call in which I can (try to) answer any questions you might have about the subject at hand.
  • The chat is based on your questions. I'm not preparing a talk, because that would take me a lot of time which I don't have since I'm offering this for free. Come prepared with a few questions about the topic and we'll go from there. I'm a talker so don't worry if you're shy, I can definitely carry the conversation (smile).
  • This chat is limited to 5 people.  It's like a group coaching call. However, I don't care if there is only one of you, in which case we can take the call in any direction the two of us want! Wouldn't that be fun. Because I'm committed to showing up it doesn't matter if I "sell out" or not. Oh, I love free. Ok, so that was funny. So many of you want to join this call, even just to listen, so I've opened it up for 10 and may have to run an overflow chat later in the month. I can't even remember why I picked 5, something to do with group dynamics... Anymore than 10 people though I think I will start to stress about the technology end and also feel less like I can connect with each of you, which is important to me. I am tempted, mighty tempted I should add, to try and find some other online means of meeting with you all. But then I start to stress and worry and feel the "must-do's" and "technology fears" sitting heavy on my shoulders so I'm not going there right now.
  • I will record this chat and I may, or may not, release it in the future as an audio teaching. Because of the extra work involved in that process those TBD recordings will probably not be free.

These calls are different than my homeschool coaching in that I am not preparing in advance. When I coach someone I prepare and plan materials specifically for that family's needs. If you want intensive one-on-one help, my coaching service is more suited to that.

If you are interested in joining this first call please contact me. I will put your name on a list, in the order I hear from people. Then the week of the talk I will contact everyone and see who can attend and who can't (things come up) and the top five on the updated list will participate in the talk.

Clear as mud?

If you have questions about this chat or have any topics you think would be fun to talk about in a future chat please leave a comment. Just to be clear: if you want to join the chat you need to contact me here. The space is now full but I can put you on the overflow list in case people can't show up. 

And the best part, you don't have to tweet, share or subscribe because I'm offering this to FIMBY readers, and you're already here!

I am so looking forward to connecting with you!

And now, I'm off to pack our picnic lunch because we're going berry picking and then to the beach for the afternoon.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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Knowing the learner (a story from the strawberry field) »
  • Amanda

    Amanda on July 22, 2013, 3:03 p.m.

    Were we not going to be in Maine during that week, I'd gladly sign up!  First longer trip for us in 9 years, and I'm very excited, except for all the work I have to do to get us there.  It would so fun to chat with you about so many things, not sure I could choose!  Enjoy the berry picking and beach.  Great day for it!


  • Angelia

    Angelia on July 22, 2013, 4:11 p.m.

    This is such a  wonderful idea.  We are a homeschool family of three boys (17,12,7) and I totally get the whole transition to high school thing you have mentioned here on the blog.  I was taken by surprise when my oldest was wanting "more" we branched out with some Classical Conversations classes, some online stuff (Veritas Press), and some free to us local community college math for him over the past couple years.  It was very hard for me as the homeschool mama:)  Definitely not what I had envisioned our homeschool to look like for him....and I do not know right now what the high school years will look like for our 12 year old when the time comes - could be very different.

    We will be travelling during your chat but I am hoping I can catch one in the future.  The topics your have chosen all sound great.


    • renee

      renee on July 22, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

      Sounds like your son's high school years are playing out fantastically well. Letting go of our expectations if half the battle, isn't it?


  • Liz

    Liz on July 22, 2013, 7:53 p.m.

    We're traveling as well AND I have two younger boys (7 and 4), the older of which is trying a nice, small charter school for the first time this year.  Eek! (Though, we do plan to pull him back out after 5th grade). But, I'd love to chat about living family values and getting us outside. This year, I am ready to take the "camping" plunge, but this Florida, suburban girl isn't quite sure what to do or how to start. (Buy a tent...but which one?) :)

    I'll keep my eyes out for those other chats. I enjoy your blog and your honesty. It often seems that we can't always find like-minded individuals - except through the blogsphere. Keep up the writing - we're here reading.




  • paulafrombelgium

    paulafrombelgium on July 22, 2013, 8:05 p.m.


    What a great idea. To bad we can't bring coockies and drink tea together.

    I will be joining with great pleasure.




  • Amber

    Amber on July 22, 2013, 8:12 p.m.

    Hi Renee, 

    What a great idea!  I'm not sure I'm quite in the right place for the homeschool chat, but some of your other topics look intriguing.  I hope this first one goes well and you'll continue!  I'm looking forward to reading more of your thoughts about the drive to monetize everything and the frustrations with the soul sucking nature of it all.  I think that would be very exhausting and hard to maintain...  and the quid pro quo that seems to exist out there concerns me too.  It seems like sometimes people end up promoting products that really aren't that great just to maintain and build connections so they can get their products promoted in turn.

    On a totally different note, I wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed reading your writing here on your blog.  I only started reading when you posted about your AT plans (someone linked to it and I followed the link) but I've enjoyed reading since and poking through your archives when I have a moment.  I used to do a fair amount of backpacking, camping and hiking and I loved it, but since having a family I've pulled back a lot.  We still do some hiking and camping, but with a 11, 7, 5, and almost 2 yo (and I'm pregnant and due with baby #5 in Dec) it sometimes seems like more trouble than it is worth!  I've often thought that I would get back to backpacking someday...  but was thinking that was quite a way in the future.  My husband has been taking the 11 and 7 yo out and they love it, but I didn't think it could be my time yet.  Well, on Friday night I did my first overnighter in 9 1/2 years - 21 weeks pregnant, no less!  I've been having a great second trimester and staying pretty active, so we decided to leave the 5 and 2 yo with my in-laws for the night and venture out.  It certainly wasn't an epic trip by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a milestone for me and we all had a great time.  My kids were so happy that I was there too!

    Thanks again!



    • renee

      renee on July 22, 2013, 9:38 p.m.

      Welcome to FIMBY, I'm so happy you're here. 

      Your outdoors story is the opposite of mine! Damien coverted me to the outdoors, though I always loved nature in general and walking and general healthiness. I didn't start serious hiking and then backpacking till we were totin' 3 kids. It was a good way to "warm up". Because now, each month and year we do longer distances and I am finding my hiking legs along with my kids. 

      I think it's so fabulous that you went out with your 2 kiddos. A bit of creativity can solve a lot of problems, eh? Thank God for grandparents! I'm sure your two bigs were so happy to have you. Our kids just love being out in the woods all together. 

      Again welcome and thank you for commenting and reading (smile).


  • Paula

    Paula on July 22, 2013, 8:28 p.m.

    I'd love to be a part of your chat. I homeschool our 9 year old son who will be crossing back and forth between late elementary and early middle school this coming year. The middle school piece makes me particularly nervous ... and excited! Thanks Renee


  • Erin

    Erin on July 22, 2013, 9:05 p.m.

    I loved the tone of this post! As a reader, I think you can feel how intense or relaxed someone is generally speaking when they are posting. (Obviously when reading online nothing is completely obvious in terms of tone or intention.) This feels so relaxed and like you're at home. Love it.

    My sons are still small (6 and 1) so I will skip your homeschool chat but I was homeschooled from 6-12th grade and know how it feels to transition to older grades as a homeschooler. It's both scary and awesome. Good luck with your chat!



    • renee

      renee on July 22, 2013, 9:29 p.m.

      Thank you Erin. I'm totally psyched that you can pick up on that tone because that's exactly where I'm at right now. After some difficult months of questioning, doubting and such uncertainty about myself and how I fit into this online writing world I feel this summer that I'm letting all that go and just being joyfully, unapologetically, unabashed me. Without the constant "am I enough" doubt, "am I doing this the right way" questioning. I feel comfortable to just relax into my self and for this season that means just doing whatever feels fun and enjoyable, not stretching and pushing so hard. Here's to summer!!


  • Lee

    Lee on July 23, 2013, 4:15 p.m.

    Hi Renee - you have been on my mind recently as I was listening to a Seth Godin interview on and he was talking about this very thing - giving away what you do best because you are compelled to share.  And I thought of you here at FIMBY because like Erin, I could sense when you were doing something because you thought you should, or it was good blogging practice for growin a business, versus when you were sharing because you simply wanted to.  Please don't take that the wrong way either, because nothing you did was wrong, in fact, you were very gentle in your approach and there is nothing wrong with making money on a website.  But in your case (and probably in mine, if I ever launch!) it is more about sharing with the world, and the money will come from opportunities created by sharing, not from clicks and affiliate sales.  The world does need more of your authenticity Renee, so we your readers say "Bring it!"


    • renee

      renee on July 23, 2013, 4:53 p.m.

      Oh Lee, I don't take it wrong at all! In fact, I appreciate your insight and willingness to share it. You have seen then where I have faltered and where I have walked with confidence. I'm trying to find that confidence place again. Unfortunately, opportunities created by sharing are not large in my small niche. I don't have a mainstream life or message and I also don't have 5 step simple solutions for living. I have a "do the hard but beautiful work of living your values" message (among others!). 

      Moving forward from here Damien and I are going to try working more collaboratively at Toe Salad, which has an unapologetically income earning mission for our family. And something Damien is totally passionate about - the message and the income earning part. And part of finding my confidence again in doing the work I love is that in that space I can do what I enjoy doing - writing, photography and management and can avoid the work I don't love (marketing, social media buzzing, schmoozing and the like). And then here at FIMBY I intend to just do what I love also, which is exactly this. I will be sharing this more in a future post.

      And just for the record I really love affiliate marketing and take advantage of that income source here at FIMBY. I love supporting the work of other people, products and services that fit with the message here. So, I continue to use affiliate marketing in the products I feel comfortable promoting at FIMBY, on the blog and in my newsletter.

      And thanks for the link. I will check it out. I'm pretty sure my place is not at the top of anything and there is so much freedom in that. Yipee!!


      • Lee

        Lee on July 23, 2013, 5:27 p.m.

        Thanks for the feedback on affiliate marketing - I agree with you there also.  I  wanted to add that I've enjoyed your e-books because they also have your unique voice (and awesome salad dressing recipes).

        Your comment about the top of anything made me laugh because I thought the same thing when I stumbled there looking for podcasts.  Though making it to the top of the laundry pile wouldn't be so bad....


  • Rana

    Rana on July 23, 2013, 4:44 p.m.

    Too funny Lee and Erin both expressed what I was thinking also.  My thought was after reading this "Yeah Renee is BACK!"   I have been loving all of your post but this one Felt more like you. 

    Sign me up for the chat  I would love to be apart of this.


    • renee

      renee on July 23, 2013, 4:47 p.m.

      Wow, Rana. I intend to be transparent but I didn't realize how transparent I have been in the past few months without even knowing! Too funny. You guys (girls) are the best. For reading through those struggles and sticking with me. I really appreciate it. 



  • Kika

    Kika on July 23, 2013, 5:08 p.m.

    I see that this chat is full and I don't really have a child in the specific age group the chat targets but I would love to join in other future chats (particularly related to personal growth, be your own family, family plant-based eating...). I loved seeing evidence of our visit in some of the photos of this post:)


    • renee

      renee on July 23, 2013, 9:20 p.m.

      The post about you is still in the works. Hope to publish later this week or next (smile). Then this little blog community will be able to meet you in person. xo


  • Tonya

    Tonya on July 23, 2013, 6:53 p.m.

    Hi Renee,

    I, too, have a hard time finding where the balance of loving my living vs. figuring out a way to earn a little from what i love to do without losing the "love".    So hard!!!   Mike and I talk about this a lot and have not come to any conclusion because there probably aren't any but I do believe that by being authentic and shining true through all we do - we will be rich beyond our imagination!

    Love, Tonya


    • Tonya

      Tonya on July 23, 2013, 6:58 p.m.

      Forgot to say how much I would love to group skype - but we still have dial-up except when I am at the library twice a week - like right now:)


  • Alison

    Alison on July 24, 2013, 12:28 a.m.

    I'd love to join a chat on plant-based eating - getting (back) into that more, but looking for some more vegan stuff that first with the gluten-free, dairy-free place that Junior Eater is at. Vegan could fit well with that.

    I'd also love to chat on some of the 'hard but good' personal growth stuff. I came across your blog from the Rhythm of the Home post you did some time back. I stayed - especially because of all the honesty about personal growth, and working through what challenges you. Not many people are prepared to be very honest in this way - it's refreshing, and inspiring.

    Delighted that you are (re)discovering your groove even more! (And happy berry picking too, of course.)


  • Mindy

    Mindy on July 24, 2013, 2:51 p.m.

    Count me in for the upcoming chats! My future homeschooler isn't within the targeted age range for this homeschool chat. I am SO excited you're doing these. Time to learn about Skype!


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