Hope in a Grim Election Year

by Hal and Melanie Young | 5/4/2016 | 2 comments

This morning my Facebook feed blew up with grief and anxiety that the choices we’ll face in the November election seem to be reduced to two people with little or no regard for the Constitution, no concern for anything other than personal power, and very questionable character. It’s pretty easy to feel despair today, but…
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April 21st, 2016

A Homeschool Dad Test Drives The New Tesla

by Hal | 4 comments

Davis Carman is a friend of ours (and the owner of Apologia Educational Ministries). He’s also a mechanical engineer and a car buff. Recently he got to test drive the new Tesla Model 3, and his initial response was so enthusiastic we asked him to give us the full story. 

Is It Ludicrous to Test Drive a Tesla?

Guest Post by Davis Carman

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On March 31, 2016, I watched the product-launch video for the new Tesla Model 3, the first mass-production vehicle from Tesla Motors and its founder Elon Musk. Within twenty-four hours, Tesla had taken 100,000 pre-orders for the car.

The company’s first all-electric vehicle was a high-priced, low-volume roadster that few people noticed. They then introduced the Model S several years ago, attracting a few more buyers. A recently launched high-end SUV is also available, designated as the Model X.

As a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast, I’ve followed Tesla with considerable interest. After watching the launch video, I decided it was time to schedule a test drive, which took place on Friday April 15, 2016. No surprise, I found it a much more enjoyable way to spend the day than working on my taxes.

It’s important to note that I took my two youngest sons with me, age twelve and fourteen. This is one of the advantages of homeschooling. They were anticipating the big day, and they were not disappointed. I do believe I earned a few Dad-of-the-Month kudos that day.

Let me cut to the chase: I was blown away. I was ready to be wowed, but the tour and test drive far exceeded my wildest expectations. Here is my review of this absolutely amazing vehicle.

All-Electric Design

What immediately struck me was the simplicity of the design. There is no complex mass of hoses, wires, belts, fans, pipes, and metal parts. The only compartment I found for a fluid was the windshield washer. The underside is a clean and flat piece of metal, which holds the batteries.

This is an all-electric vehicle, which means you will never run out of gas because you will never buy gas again. You simply plug it into an outlet at home each night and wake up to a fully charged battery the next morning. The Tesla Model 3 has a range of 215 miles. A twenty-minute stop at one of the fast-charging Tesla stations will charge your battery up to 80 percent full, just enough time to grab a quick meal. With more than 600 locations and 3600 Superchargers strategically placed throughout the United States, it is now possible to drive cross-country in a Tesla. By the way, you get free electricity at all Tesla charging stations for life. Sweet!

Little to No Maintenance

Not only will this vehicle never leak oil, but you will never again need an oil change. The electric motor doesn’t require lubrication. There is no radiator to fail, no timing belt to break, no tune-up every 20,000 miles. There is simply no scheduled maintenance required. It’s that awesome!


The key fob resembles the car. My boys liked that touch. A tap on the rear opens the trunk. A pat on the front opens the hood. Otherwise you just keep the keys in your pocket.

Trunk Space Front and Back

The rear trunk is more spacious than that of any vehicle I’ve ever seen and has a greater capacity than most SUVs. And because there’s no bulky engine, the front compartment doubles as extra trunk space.

Body Design

You won’t find a typical grill on the front of a Tesla because the engine doesn’t require air flow for cooling. The body design of the front end emphasizes this fact. You also won’t find a gas cap messing up the clean lines of the body panels. But there’s got to be a place for the electric plug to attach somewhere, right? Yes. Tap the driver’s-side rear light, and it pops open, providing access to the electric plug—definitely a cool feature. In fact, I tapped it open and closed several times just for fun.

Flush Door Handles

When you walk up to the car with keys in your pocket, the sleek and flush door handles pop out. This allows you to pull the door open and step into the seat. Once the door is closed, the handles pop back into place, restoring the car’s smooth, sleek look and again upping the cool factor.

Roomy Interior

Inside, the car had so much room; it almost felt wrong. There’s no big, bulky transmission taking up space between the driver and passenger, and no driveshaft means there’s no hump in the floor in the back seat. The extra room makes the car extremely comfortable.

Large Sunroof

An all-glass roof blocks out 98 percent of the sun’s rays, yet you can see out just fine. When fully open, the sunroof creates the largest opening I’ve ever seen. I personally like sunroofs—the larger the better. You can easily adjust the size of the opening with the touchscreen control panel.

Touchscreen Control Panel

Speaking of controls, the heart of the technology is a massive seventeen-inch touchscreen control panel. I used the split-screen function to keep the wide-angle rearview camera on the bottom half and the GPS, power consumption, radio, or something else on the top half. The temperature controls are displayed on the extreme bottom of the screen for quick and easy adjustment. Navigating the screen was simple and intuitive for anyone who has ever used a smartphone app or tablet.

Quiet as a Mouse

Unlike a conventional car, you don’t start a Tesla. Once you sit down, it’s ready to go. Just put a foot on the brake pedal and shift into gear. Then press the pedal and you’re off. There’s no sound, vibration, or feel of an engine revving. It’s quiet as a mouse. Also, the car doesn’t coast when you take your foot off the “gas” because of the regenerative brakes. That took a little getting used to, but it was easy and I quickly grew accustomed to the new normal. The car was poetry in motion as it silently, smoothly, and artfully moved us down the road.


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Cruise control was a nice feature in its day, and today some cars are equipped with smart cruise, which causes the vehicle to automatically slow as it approaches a slower-moving car. Still others come with a lane-departure warning system that sounds a beep if you drift left or right. The new Tesla auto-pilot feature takes the next logical step. With a double click of the cruise control stick, the vehicle not only maintains a safe distance from all cars but also steers itself to stay in your current lane. When I signaled to move one lane to the left, the car automatically changed lanes, being sure to watch for any oncoming vehicles. The car stayed in the lane until I manually signaled left or right to tell it to change lanes again. After a period of time, the car will ask you to put your hands on the steering wheel to prove you’re still awake. If you fail to do so, the car will turn on its flashers and slow down until you retake the controls. I felt perfectly safe letting go of the steering wheel and allowing auto-pilot to move us down a crowded interstate.

All Wheel Drive

Tesla vehicles come standard with all-wheel drive. It’s designed this way in order to connect smaller electric motors to all the wheels rather than one big one in the front or back. The result is astounding in terms of control and performance. Tesla doesn’t make a 4×4 truck yet, but if and when they do, I have no doubt it will immediately be the most reliable in that market.

Ludicrous Acceleration

This is the feature I was most eager to test. A really fast car today comes with 425-plus horsepower and can do 0-to-60 mph in just over five seconds. Faster cars, such as a high-end Porsche, can achieve this feat in just under four seconds. The Tesla Model S comes in three varieties. The 70D can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The 90D can do it in 4.2 seconds. The P90D surpasses them all with a 0-to-60 acceleration time of just 3.1 seconds. With a flip of a switch on the control panel, I was able to shift into “ludicrous” acceleration mode and do this in a crazy 2.8 seconds, causing the blood to rush to the back of my brain. My sons said the G-forces they felt were stronger than on any roller coaster they’d been on. I can’t think of a faster car on the road today. By the way, the top-end speed is 155 mph, limited by the computer.

Price Tag

The Model S starts at $70,000 and can cost as much as $125,000, depending on battery range, acceleration, and other options. The new Model 3 is considerably more affordable, starting at $35,000. As a result, I fully expect to see many more Teslas on the road in the days ahead.

The Only Letdown

The only disappointment I felt was when we left the showroom and walked back to my well-loved, eight-cylinder, gas-guzzling, eighteen-year-old BMW. Even though I’ve taken good care of Zidgle (as I affectionately refer to him), he has multiple maintenance and repair issues that pull at my time, attention, and money. I stepped hard on the gas pedal as we left the parking lot, hoping to feel some pride in its abilities, only to be sorely let down. It sounded tough, but the acceleration forces didn’t phase me a bit. I already miss that dizzy sensation that came with the immediate torque and blistering speed afforded by the Tesla’s electric motor.

What to Look for Down the Road

Personally, I believe this new vehicle is going to totally disrupt the automotive industry. Battery life already puts vehicles well in the 200- to 300-mile range. This will only increase as Tesla continues to develop battery technology. These vehicles are going to usher in a new era in which electric cars are commonplace. As of this writing, Tesla has received deposits for more than 400,000 units. Currently, the best-selling vehicles in the United States—the Ford F-150, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord—each sells roughly 500,000 units per year. I fully expect the Tesla Model 3 to be the number-one-selling car in America by 2018.

My Best Analogies

Being a mechanical engineer and homeschooling advocate, I want to make two analogies that I think are appropriate. On the engineering front, comparing a Tesla to a conventional gasoline-powered car is like comparing a sixty-inch, flat-screen, Internet-enabled, high-definition television to a heavy 13-inch box with a fuzzy black-and-white picture and vacuum tubes.

Similarly, I would say that comparing home education to public schools is like comparing a Tesla to a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. One of them employs archaic methods, is highly inefficient, and isn’t very exciting—but it’s what “everyone” drives. The other is simple, beautiful, high tech, and produces great results. Which one would you rather drive?

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!

— Davis 

© 2016 Davis Carman


Davis Carman is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to instill a biblical worldview. Good Morning, God is based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path is an ABC book based on Psalm 119, and In the Beginning, is based on the Creation account in Genesis. His latest, Psalms to Know Early will be available the summer of 2016. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!

You can find Davis’s blog here: www.homeschoolcastles.com
You can find Apologia here: www.apologia.com

April 13th, 2016

Five Ways to Help Teens with Moving

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments

A reader asked, “We are moving across the country to North Carolina this spring or summer for a great job opportunity our family has been praying for. My 14 yr old son is taking it very hard (he is a believer). My husband and I encourage him and our other 4 children, and we concentrate on god’s faithfulness in answering prayers; but since I’ve never done this with an older, hormone driven child, I don’t want to make it worse for him. Anyone experienced this? Thank you.”

It is really hard to face major life changes at that age. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with the hormonal changes of early puberty makes nearly all kids feel self-conscious and awkward. Most of them believe (at least now and then) that nobody likes them and nobody cares about them. (For help with this, click here.) The idea of having to find their way in a whole new social situation is terrifying to them. There are a few things you can do to help, though.

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Begin making connections now. Get in touch with some like-minded churches. Talk to the pastors, find out what they have to offer, make plans to visit as soon as you are there. If your child is in school, call the school they’ll attend and find out what it’s like and what extra-curricular activities are available. If you homeschool, contact the state homeschool organization in your new state and ask for local group contacts. Find out what is available, when they meet, all the details. You need to have a real plan to get plugged in as soon as possible.
Talk to him about the good things about your new area. For example, if you homeschool and you’re moving to North Carolina, you are almost certainly moving to a place with more activities than where you live now. North Carolina has a large homeschool population and we have homeschool bands, football teams, basketball teams and more. Wherever you move is going to have some advantage your current home doesn’t – interesting sites, new opportunities, something! Do some research and explain the blessings of your new area to your teen.
 Talk about the benefits of leaving baggage behind. For an awkward-feeling teen, that can be a real plus: No one will remember how awkward he looked at 11 or the stupid thing he did last summer. It’s a change to reinvent himself and that can be pretty attractive to a struggling teen.
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Assure him he’ll be able to stay in touch with his old friends. Get him an email address. Get the contact info for all his friends. Set him up to talk to them on Skype every once in a while or to play games with them online or to watch a movie at the same time and chat about it on Skype. Those friendships may fade away over time, but for now, it will be a comfort.
Keep reminding him that you love him and it’s going to be all right. Sounds obvious, but teens are a mixture of child and adult and may need more comfort and reassurance than we realize. Remind him of the sovereignty of God. God knows what is best for him. It may be that something crucial for his future career will happen there or he may meet the girl that will one day be his wife. As Christians, we need to trust God when events are out of our hands like this. 
I think he (and you) will be surprised by how well the move actually goes. We remember having a very similar conversation with a young man in California a couple of years ago. They were moving to North Carolina, too, and he was miserable over it. We saw them again last year at the homeschool conference here. He told us he was so glad he’d moved. He loved his new friends, his new church, his new state! I hope your son will feel the same way.
Hal and Melanie Twinkle at Church Large
Your Friends,
Hal & Melanie

April 5th, 2016

Four Reasons You Need to Change Your Parenting Style

by Hal | 1 comment

Our oldest son shook his head, sadly.

“You never would have let me do that,” he said, watching a younger sibling.

We had to admit, he had a point. When he was that age, we were new parents, full of theories but short on experience. He was Offspring 1.0, and parenting was still something of a beta-test experience.

Looking back now on more than 25 years (and eight kids) of being Mom and Dad, we realize there were several points where our parenting philosophy changed – and needed to!

MBFLP - Changing Your Parenting Style

We changed when we realized we weren’t doing it right. Eldest son wasn’t old enough to remember what he did get away with, as a toddler. We were Christians from the start but we wanted to explain everything to our little guy, as if he’d say, “Oh! I get it! Of course that’s what I should do!” And at a critical time, we moved to a community which took a very critical view of any kind of correction of a child. By the time he was three, he was so undisciplined he was nearly unmanageable. Our pastor very politely shared some Biblical advice about balanced, loving, but purposeful direction—and we found life was much smoother with our younger kids!

This can go either way. Sometimes you start off so permissive your children aren’t being trained at all; other times, you may be so rigidly disciplinarian that children feel little love and much repression at home. The Gen2 Study last year found that young adults who experienced consistent, loving discipline as children were more likely to have a strong relationship with their parents and continue in the faith as grownups than children of parents at either extreme.

We changed when our family changed. We were blessed with six boys, one after another, and our parenting style was very boy-directed – firm, direct, challenging as much as affirming. Then God sent us girls, and we found the emphatic directions we gave the boys (“Hey! Don’t touch that stove!”) often startled or frightened the sisters. We had to learn a more gentle approach to guide our more-compliant children (i.e. the girls).

We also realized as the family grew, we didn’t have the luxury of spending every minute focused on one or two very little children. To keep the house and family on track, we had to learn how to give the older kids an appropriate level of self-direction and responsibility; Mama can’t always jump up to respond to other children when she’s nursing a baby!

MBFLP - Changing Parenting Style

We changed as we grew in experience and maturity ourselves. People laugh about how uptight they were handling their first baby, and how relaxed they were with the third or fourth one. Is it because experienced parents don’t care any more? Or babies born later are less demanding? Are we like Jacob who showed ungodly favoritism toward his youngest sons Joseph and Benjamin – with sad results?

Or is it because being a parent becomes easier as you gain wisdom and perspective? Of course you parent your youngest child differently than you did the first one – that means you learned something along the way!

And very importantly, we changed when our children changed. A pre-schooler needs very clear direction and consistent consequences for disobedience. A 9- or 10-year-old needs a lot of guidance, and not much independence. But a teenager is in the transition from childhood to independent adulthood – as we’ve said, we consider our young teens as “adults, in training” – and we the parents need to change from control to advice. You don’t expect to boss your 25-year-old the same as your 5-year-old, do you? The change in relationship needs to happen over the teen years, not as a thunderclap on their eighteenth birthday.

Most parents with more than one child have probably heard that complaint – that younger siblings get away with things. Did we change our parenting style? Should we? You bet – with good reason!

Now, how do you carry out that change without causing anger and resentment in your kids? Listen to our podcast on this subject!

Your Friends,Hal and Melanie Twinkle at Church Large 

Hal & Melanie

March 31st, 2016

Bullied Into Buying: Grownup Peer Pressure

by Hal | 2 comments

Homeschooling allowed us to raise kids that were not peer-dominated, not bullied, not searching for affirmation and validation from every direction. Hooray! The problem is, we parents were not raised that way, and guess what? Often we’re the ones with peer group problems.

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How Does This Happen?

One of the great doctrines of the New Testament is the grace of God and our freedom from bondage to the Law. From the very beginning, it seems, God’s people feel a pull to go back to Egypt – the slavery they knew that doesn’t require maturity, thought, discernment, or courage. God doesn’t want us to walk that way.

Continue reading »

March 24th, 2016

Motivating Your Kids

by Hal | 0 comments

One of the frequent questions we get asked is how to get kids motivated. How do you get them out of bed, off the couch, and taking care of their responsibilities?

The negative answer is obvious, and most of us have probably said something like this, one time or another:

“You can’t get on the computer until you finish your math.”

“No, you’re not going to the movie with your friends – not until you’ve done your chores!”

“I’m fixing ham and eggs for breakfast, but if you don’t get out of bed and downstairs right now, it’s toast for you!”

How to Motivate Kids to Work - a podcast by Hal & Melanie Young

That’s the hard reality of life – when you have a responsibility or assignment, your duty needs to come before your pleasure or your comfort. And we all have a tendency to shirk when we can; consider that part of the judgment for Adam’s sin was increasing the difficulty, discomfort, and general drudgery of our daily work (Genesis 3:17-19). Our children need to learn to embrace their work even when they don’t feel like it – just like we should!

But “motivation” isn’t just about warnings and punishment. There are some other things which you might consider, to make a more positive approach to encouraging your kids’ work habits.

Are they disorganized? Face it, when you tell your 8-year-old “Go clean your room,” often it’s a daunting task. When your stuff looks like a tornado hit a thrift store, where do you even start? Suggest a way to make the task simpler. “Why don’t you get all the books up on the shelves first, then get the dirty clothes in the hamper? That will go quickly, and after that, you can sort the toys back into their sets and boxes.”

Even better, pitch in and work alongside them, at least to get them started. It’s a great time to talk, too.

Are they disheartened? Sometimes you have a task that seems so awkward and unpleasant, you procrastinate. After a couple of delays, it becomes a big, ugly monster – and even harder to get started.

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We read a motto somewhere that said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and the rest of the day will be an improvement.” Is there something on your list that you really, really wish would go away? Then consider doing that thing first, absolutely first – and then it will be done and things really will seem brighter.

Are they distracted? Productivity expert David Allen recommends that whenever you look at your to-do list, ask yourself, “Can I finish this item in two minutes?” If so, then go ahead! And if not, don’t just put it back on the list – decide when to do it, and put it on your schedule. In fact, sometimes our desire to dodge the job takes longer than just doing it. “Son, you just spent longer arguing with me than it would take to actually carry out the trash like I asked. That’s not efficient, you know!”

There are lots of reasons your son or daughter may seem unmotivated. Sometimes, if it’s truly disobedience or defiance, you may need to give some negative consequences. But there are a lot of reasons your child may have trouble getting started, and honestly, some of them are the same reasons we struggle with! We talk about these things and how you can press through them to help your guy “get off your seat and on your feet!” on this week’s podcast. Listen here.

Your friends,Hal and Melanie Twinkle at Church Large

Hal & Melanie

For more on getting your guys to be diligent, read our award-winning book, Raising Real Men!

March 17th, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Guide

by Hal and Melanie Young | 1 comment

Why celebrate?

We’re not Catholic or Irish, but we love to have fun and we find that celebrating holidays with a little fun is a great way to drive home character lessons to our children and to teach them history, too. If you want to have some fun today learning about St. Patrick and the Irish, here’s a little help…

Who was St. Patrick anyway?

Patrick was a Britain-born teen when he was captured and enslaved by Irish traders. Made to work long hours out in the fields by himself, he turned to the Lord for comfort and became a Christian. He had learned the gospel as a young man raised in the faith. After six years in captivity, he managed to escape and return to Britain. About a year later, he had a dream that he was being called back to Ireland – this time as a missionary. He set out to study to become a priest and eventually made it back to Ireland. He was not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, though there is no doubt the Lord used him to convert thousands of Irish from pagan druidism to Christianity.

What else can we learn?

Continue reading »

March 11th, 2016

Young Messiah: Not for His Young Followers!

by Hal and Melanie Young | 7 comments

A movie based on the life of Jesus as a child? Sounds like a fun, sweet family outing for the Easter season, especially since reviews say the movie represents Jesus as the virgin-born Son of God. Our friends, Steve and Jane Lambert of Five in a Row, though, saw it last night and came away very concerned that it was inappropriate for young children. We asked them to share with you:

Young Messiah’s theme centers around the struggles of Mary and Joseph in knowing how to explain to Jesus that he was God. That’s the story in a nutshell and it DOES present some interesting opportunities for imaginative supposition: Sort of mental chewing gum. The acting, costumes and cinematography are in a vastly different class from most contemporary “Christian movies” if I may use that term. But the wild conjectures about Jesus raising the dead and performing many other miracles as a child along with the graphic attempts to show the violence of Roman occupation via dozens of crucifixions begins to wear thin rather quickly.


Where the movie takes a decidedly darker, non-family-friendly turn is with the depictions of King Herod Antipas and his court, along with the creepy/disturbing interactions with Lucifer. While it’s probably impossible to overstate either of those themes (Lucifer IS creepy/disturbing and Antipas was a perverted maniac) the depictions will cause most children and many adults nightmares. The court of Herod Antipas is repeatedly and graphically portrayed as a perverted, satanic, insane asylum with grotesque creatures surrounding a sadistic, sexually-obsessed emperor. Meanwhile, Lucifer repeatedly interacts with the movie’s characters in a way that may well haunt children’s dreams for years. Reminiscent of a Stanley Kubrick film at times, the attempts to depict depravity and evil move far beyond “family fare” and border on bizarro-porn.

As adults, some might be able to watch the film and while it will be disturbing, it may provide the basis for some interesting and thoughtful discussions about what could have happened during the 30 years of Jesus’ life that is largely undocumented. But my concern is that many will assume this would make a great “family” experience during the Easter season. NOTHING could be further from the truth.

Young Messiah

Jane and I kept nudging one another throughout the movie as each disturbing scene unfolded and each grand-leap of Biblical truth was portrayed until the final credits rolled. When it was revealed that the screenplay was based on a novel by gothic/horror/erotica-porn author Anne Rice we gasped simultaneously! Suddenly it ALL made sense. What COULD HAVE BEEN a thought provoking film about Jesus’ childhood came off as a mash-up of “Jesus of Nazareth” with “Interview With a Vampire” and “Clockwork Orange”.

I was VERY excited to see it based on the previews, but came away concerned for any children that might be exposed to the movie by unsuspecting parents.

Not recommended for children and young teens.

Steve Lambert

Steve Lambert

Publisher, Five in a Row

Young Messiah photos courtesy of Focus Features.
Steve Lambert photo courtesy of Steve Lambert

March 8th, 2016

Welcome to Rough House!

by Hal | 5 comments

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Podcast Button for Blog

We have six boys (some of them grown now), and back when they were little, Melanie got a surprise. Continue reading »

March 5th, 2016

Sweet Rewards

by Hal and Melanie Young | 6 comments

The other day, a college president called our boy.

That boy. The one I wondered if I’d ever be able to teach him enough to fill out an application to work in fast food.

It all started when he was small. I was pretty confident when we started teaching him. His older brothers all learned to read early and well. I knew he was just as smart as they were. He seemed to be brilliant, even.


RRM College and Dyslexia


Somehow, though, he couldn’t seem to get it. He struggled to learn the alphabet at all. Some days he would sound a word out easily and I’d think, “Yes! We’re making progress.” The next day, looking at the same word, it was like he’d never seen the letters before. Continue reading »

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