Trail Guide to Learning: Columbus

We finished our first unit in Trail Guide to Learning:  Paths of Exploration about Columbus.

What we loved:

  • planning for the week was easy–pull out the books you need, print the pages for the week, open the manual, and go!
  • the literature books were excellent choices that made for good discussions and incorporated a Christian viewpoint–Did you know Christopher means Christ-bearer and part of his mission was to share the gospel?
  • the projects my kids came up with at the end really cemented their learning about Columbus.  D. made the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria ships out of cardboard boxes and paper.  He wrote the names of the captains on each ship.  columbus ships

W. made an emaze power point presentation, choosing poems, photos, and information she remembered from the unit.  Here’s the cover photo she used:

  •  the timeline figures used in Profiles of History were great to add to our timeline books
  • the kids loved using the large geography map and dry erase markers to fill in places around the world.  On her own, W. read The Scrambled States of America and decided to fill in all the U.S. states, even though we weren’t studying them.


  • the curriculum encourages independent, creative learning through reading, notebook pages, and projects

What we didn’t love:

  • still not sure about the writing, grammar, and science portions; if they are meaty enough.  It also takes multiple days to do the science activities, which makes it difficult to complete them.
  • spelling words aren’t included every week in the first edition we have, so we are adding in Spelling City to study words for our upcoming homeschool spelling bee in February
  • instead of 6 weeks, we covered the material in about 7-8 weeks, leaving room for field trips and activities with our homeschool group, so we’re a little behind, but that’s okay
  • by the end of the Columbus unit we were so ready to start a new topic.  Next up, we’re jumping ahead to unit 3 about the Pilgrims, as it lines up perfectly with Thanksgiving!

Here’s the resources we used learning about Columbus:

columbus resources

Main books–

Meet Christopher Columbus by James T. de Kay (reader)

Christopher Columbus:  Adventurer of Faith and Courage by Bennie Rhodes (read aloud)

Extras added in–

Columbus by Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Columbus video by Nest Learning

Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky

Carry On Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Marco Polo by Charles Graves

Marco Polo video by Nest Learning

Fine Print:  A Story About Johann Gutenberg by Joann Johansen Burch

Michelangelo by Mike Venezia (may want to edit for nudity)

Our daily homeschool “schedule”

I meant to post this weeks ago, but now I find it rather ironic after a forum discussion I had with my homeschool group.  We were talking about having schedules vs. routines in our homeschool day:

I said, “I tend to be more ‘structured’, but the longer that I homeschool, I find myself wanting to enjoy the learning with my kids more and giving them more choices rather than trying to get them to ‘finish’ their school work.  Thanks to many of you for your examples.  I’m realizing this time homeschooling with my younger ones is so precious. Last week, I did a math lesson with my son about geometric solids using a wooden set and it was so cool to watch his little mind work.  He pulled out our magna tiles and built some 3 dimensional shapes all on his own based on what we had talked about.  You ladies are right, they come up with things better than I ever could and it is neat to see them make connections with things all around them.  I am learning to let go and enjoy the whole homeschool ride.  This month, we are going on more field trips because we can and it is okay to let go of the guilt that we aren’t doing more school at home. They are still learning.  Still trying to find a balance, but appreciate all that I learn from you ladies!”

So, when we’re not out learning on field trips or taking rabbit trails of learning at home, here’s the schedule or routine we may follow. :)  For me, I do like having it in place.

Also, I’m really loving our quiet time at the end of the day.  It allows the kids to work on their own projects quietly or read or take a nap in their rooms, while I have a little down time too.  Wish I had implemented this sooner in our homeschool.

daily schedule 2015-2016

Our curriculum and school theme for 2015-2016

We’re trying something new this year–learning science, geography, history, and art all together using the Trail Guide to Learning series. Grammar, spelling, reading, and writing are also included.  Depending on how it goes, we may add in more language arts with some of our favorites from All About Spelling, IEW, and First Language Lessons.

It’s my 11th year homeschooling!  With only 2 at home, we’re trying something different to get us excited for the new changes. I love how everything is integrated into one. We’re going for more simple this year and taking the first week SLOW, adding in a little each day.  Of course, my kids already wanted to do the extras–art and Spanish, so we’ve done those along with the basics and met with our homeschool group for a fun day at the reservoir. We’ll start our main curriculum next week!

Our school theme goes along perfectly with teaching just 1 son and 1 daughter this year:

O, remember, my son [and daughter], and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. Alma 37:35

Here’s an outline of what we’ll be using for the 2015-2016 school year: (subject to change, of course!)

All Together

Devotional: continue family scripture study of The Book of Mormon, scripture memorizations, Standing Tall Series and Articles of Faith (for younger), For the Strength of Youth (for older)

Unit Study: Trail Guide to LearningPaths of Exploration

Book Club Read-Alouds: The Hundred Dresses, My Father’s Dragon, Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims (so far)

Poetry:  Now We Are Six, When We Were Very Young, A Child’s Garden of Verses

Extras:  Dance Mat (typing), Home Art Studio (art), La Clase Divertida (Spanish), Family Fitness and Chicken Fat (PE) [when we can get to them]; monthly homeschool book club with neighbors; field trips, showcases, park days, and MNOs with our homeschool group


W. │ Grade Four

Language Arts:  Abeka cursive, pick and choose from Sonlight core D advanced readers and the Good and Beautiful book list, journal, Spelling City, First Language Lessons 3
Math:  Singapore 3B-4A with Vroot and Vroom CD-romLife of Fred books–Goldfish, Honey, Ice cream; various math games, windows, flashcards, and wrap-ups
Extra-curricular:  piano lessons, summer swim lessons, fall soccer, winter basketball, church Activity Days


D. │ Grade One

Language Arts:  Sonlight 1 readers, Frontline phonics long vowel readers, My Father’s World 1st grade, journal
Math: Complete Book of Math level 1-2, Pattern Animals, and math literature books (used in My Father’s World 1st grade), finish Right Start Math level A
Extra-curricular:  summer swim lessons, fall soccer

The last 3 weeks of homeschool


I never actually posted about our last 3 weeks of school and now we’re almost wrapping up the summer.  Here’s a few snippets from the end of school year for 2014-2015:


We had a 100th day party.  We read Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten and D. chose to count 100 marshmallows and made his own creations with toothpicks.



We read aloud Otto of the Silver Hand–a beautiful medieval story with such lovely illustrations that we found free online.

E. read The Hobbit and W. read The Tale of Despereaux.  On our last day of school, we headed to the library to get the movies of each of these books and sign up for the summer reading program.


The kids picked an amphibian or reptile to report.  They each presented their projects using a power point presentation from

E. chose to do a diamond back rattle snake and W. did an alligator snapping turtle.


I’m so glad we at least tried Right Start math with my youngest this year.  We didn’t finish all the lessons, so we’ll do some more next year.  I don’t think we’ll purchase the next level though–it was too teacher intensive for me, but we’ll definitely keep using all of the math manipulatives and games.


J.’s school has a yearly 5k run. My husband ran with her and I took the rest of the kids to cheer them on.  The younger ones decided to join them in the last mile, and so they ran across the finish line together.  I think it will be a fun family tradition we’ll have to do again with E. going there next year!



We had our yearly homeschool showcase where the kids showed Daddy all they had learned with their notebooks, I gave them certificates, and we made a trip to the frozen yogurt shop to celebrate all their hard work.

showcase 2015



There are lots of changes for next school year with 1 in high school, 1 in junior high, and 2 at home. We’re hoping to go for a more simple approach that I can do together with my 4th and 1st grader.  A curriculum post to come!

Happiness is…

We went to Disneyland a few weeks ago.  Known as “the happiest place on earth”, of course it was fun and magical for all of us, but also very worldly. You could tell many people were looking for happiness, perhaps in the wrong places.  I found these quotes about happiness recently and wanted to share:

“It is one of the great ironies of our age that we are blessed with so much and yet we can be so unhappy. The wonders of prosperity and technology overwhelm us and shower us with security, entertainment, instant gratification, and convenience. And yet all around us we see so much unhappiness…Happiness doesn’t come as a result of luck or accident. It most certainly doesn’t come from having all of our wishes come true. Happiness doesn’t come from external circumstances. It comes from the inside—regardless of what is happening around us.  [We can find] happiness in every circumstance and in every trial—”–Elder Uchtdorf

My mothering days

At church last Sunday for Mother’s Day, these words were mentioned in a talk, and I just loved them. They are also in the following video:

“Life, every life, and every heartbeat..began with a mom.  Who willingly accepted a divine role. A thankless job. A sticky, sleepless, soul stretching career.

For nine months, ninety months, ninety years.

She taught us right from wrong, left from right, baking soda from baking powder. She slept little and worried much. She laughed, lathered, rinsed, and repeated, and repeated.

Who taught us to love God? To love others? To love ourselves? Who prayed with us? Who prayed for us? Who read to us and taught us what the words meant? It was mom.

Who was the champion, the cheerleader, the chief inspiring officer? Who was the queen of bed time, dinner time, holidays, holy days, early mornings, late nights? Music lessons, life lessons, and everything we cling to with all our hearts? It was, it is, and forever will be Mom.”

Thank you to all the mothers in my life–my own mother and mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my aunts, my sisters, my friends, my teachers who have sacrificed so much, worrying, praying, supporting, and cheering me on.


5 years ago, my kids ages 1, 4, 7, and 9 were huddled around me on the couch, and a quick photo was taken.  I’ve loved it–a frozen moment in time, capturing my life as a younger mother.  I look tired, but so content and happy.  On Mother’s Day, we took a similar pose on the same couch and wow, have my kids grown!  We had to squish to fit us all in and not one could sit on my lap anymore.  My oldest is taller than me, has only 3 years left under my wing, and then she may be off to college or other adventures. Didn’t we just bring her home, nervous to drive fast with our new, sweet bundle in the back seat?  14 years later, I’m a mother to these four blessings!

my 4 blessings

When they were little, my mothering days seemed ever so long with late night feedings, buckling in seat belts and strollers, tying shoes, dressing, diapering, snacks on the go, napping–a constant stream of demands.  Now that we’re out of that stage, I’m realizing the years we have raising our children are really short and I miss my babies.  President Monson said it well:

I’m not missing the laundry piles and messy toy rooms quite yet, but I’m holding onto the days I do have…for they are precious.

Painting, plays, and past field trips

I figured it was time for another edition of “Monthly Memories” since the last time I posted about our schooling was in Feb.  I’ve missed sharing because it helps me look back and realize all that we’ve done and learned together.



This has been the year of theater for our family.  J. goes to the local junior high and was able to participate in the “Aladdin” school play in March.  She was in the ensemble and played a villager.  It was a lot of work, staying after school for weeks to practice, but she had so much fun performing with her friends and being more involved at the school.


W. and E. took a triple threat class (singing, acting, and dancing) at the Scera every Tuesday.  They recently performed “The Jungle Book.”  W. was a monkey and snake dancer and E. was Shere Khan the tiger.  I was never allowed at the rehearsals, so I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised that they both seemed to love the stage and performing in their roles.  E. as the tiger did a great job “scaring” the jungle animals and W. had 1 line where she threw a banana at Baloo the bear. My favorite scenes were when all the kids popped out of the curtain to sing “That’s What Friends Are For” and at the end when Mowgli and Shere Khan have a brawl and the tiger is carried off stage.  The way they attacked each other back and forth in slow motion had us all laughing.  It was fun to have other homeschool friends in the play with us as well.  Everyone did a great job!  I’ll miss visiting with the moms after their weekly practices, but not having to drive to and from rehearsals.



Because the kids were in the play, we decided to read “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling aloud. We’re reading the first 3 stories about Mowgli and Rikki Tikki Tavi.  We’ve enjoyed it so far–with the characters being so familiar, it has been quite interesting to read because the stories are a little different than the Disney and play version that we’re used to.

I took my girls to see the new Cinderella movie.  I loved the message that Cinderella’s mother gives her–have courage and be kind.  I’ve taken it as my new favorite motto, framed it, and placed it on my piano, so we can all remember.

have courage


As a family, we recently went to the tulip festival at Thanksgiving point.  Such a beautiful place to visit!  We just got our garden in and flowers in the front yard.  I love this time of year!


In February, I organized a field trip to see “Pinkalicious”–a musical play based after the popular Pinkalicious books. (I’m not sure why D. wanted to stick out his tongue, maybe to lick the pink cupcake. Ha!)


In March, my friend and neighbor Jessie planned a field trip to the post office.  We took a tour and the kids got to mail their own letters off to pen pals in Idaho, which she arranged for us ahead of time.  It was such a great idea!

photo credit:  Arianne Cope (thank you!)

Then in April, we took a field trip to the Springville art museum.  The tour was very child friendly and hands-on.  Our favorite exhibit was Beyond Memory: The Daydreams of Corinne Geertsen.  The artist took old photographs and re-created them in a whimsical, fun way.  The kids were able to play a game matching the old photographs with the new art.  Here’s one of the artist’s creations to get an idea:


We learned about the artist Monet and Impressionism using Home Art Studio.  The kids made two projects–Monet Bridge based off of Monet’s lily garden paintings:

monet bridge

and Impressionist Landscape, using short, spotty brushstrokes, like he would have done:


We read Monet by Mike Venezia and enjoyed putting together a magnet puzzle of Monet’s art from World’s Greatest Artists.


D. did a few fun activities for kindergarten.

B for Butterfly–drew his own butterfly


E for Elephant–made an elephant mask and ate peanuts


R for rock–made stone soup


X for foX–made a fox hat and tail


D. made his own calendar and decorated each month’s page.  We had it bound to hang on his wall by his bed.



We took a detour of our Family school history and did a unit on ancient India from Story of the World, since we’ve loved eating Indian food lately and J. did a Indian wedding project in her geography class at school. These were are favorite books on the topic:

One Grain of Rice

Once a Mouse

The Brave Little Parrot

Sacred River

I Once Was a Monkey

The Monkey and the Crocodile

Nine Animals and the Well


We have really enjoyed using Institute for Excellence in Writing this year.  E. and W. chose their own non-fiction topics to write reports on and they turned out great. W. chose pigs and E. chose guns.  I’m amazed at their ability to sit down and write paragraphs easily using the outlines and tips from this program.  I highly recommend it if you want something more structured for writing.  The videos with Andrew Pudewa keep the kids interested and even laughing at times!

Well, that’s a wrap-up of the last few months.  We only have 3 weeks left and we’re done with this school year.  I can’t believe it!  Trying to make the most of it and at the same time some days I’m barely making it through.  One day at a time.  Summer here we come!

Hanging on to homeschooling

This time of year is hard for me to homeschool as I always get a little tired of teaching and burned out, ready for summer to come.  We’ve also prayerfully decided to send E. to junior high next fall.  I took him to the 7th grade orientation meeting and we both came away excited for him to go, so that was a good sign.  The electives he wants to do are drama and band. They have some really good teachers for these classes. He went to a band “petting zoo” and got one on one help with the band teacher to find the instrument that would be just the right fit for him.  He wants to play the saxophone, but was recommended to try the clarinet for his first year.  I’m grateful that he will have opportunities like this.

As a result of this decision, I’ve come to the conclusion that my homeschooling days will never be the same.  I’ve been in mourning over the days when my 4 children were young, huddled around me on the couch reading or at the table doing projects together, learning at home.  I look back with such fondness on those days.  I’ll never forget them, but we’re onto a new chapter in our family–two in school and two at home.  I’ve been thinking a lot about W. and D., who will still be at home with me, and what we’re going to do next year, wanting to make our time together more meaningful and precious because really it is so short.

I’ve been homeschooling for many years that it seemed as if I always would, and now I’m realizing that the time I have to do this won’t be forever.  I’ve needed a pick me up.  Something to help me have the desire to keep homeschooling my younger ones and make me excited about teaching again. I’m sure it will come after a summer break.  It always does, but I also came across a series of videos for parents to teach your children using literature based curriculum.  Of course, it caught my eye because I absolutely love books and use this approach.  I’ve only watched 3 episodes so far of Homeschool Made Simple by Carole Joy Seid, but I’m enjoying every minute of it, taking copious notes, and soaking up all the information from this homeschool veteran.  I could listen to her all day.  She’s introduced me to books and authors that I’ve never even heard of before and I am really excited to try them out.  This is giving me just what I need to continue homeschooling, but to do it a little differently than I’ve done in the past–making it more “simple, enjoyable, and affordable.”  I’m looking forward to what next year holds for us.  Instead of just hanging onto homeschooling, we’re going to soar!

A spring break unplanned

A post missed from Spring break, April 2015:


Our spring break trip to St. George wasn’t quite what we had planned.

The temple was closed, so I couldn’t take the older two to do baptisms.

We were so tired getting to Zion’s and having to travel by bus to even get to a trail that we ended up only going on 1 hike at Emerald pools.



The kids were full of lots of whining and teasing.


We enjoyed a nice dinner with G.’s co-worker and their family–talking, Uno games, and swimming in the pool.  The kids loved trying out these battery operated fishes, even though they only lasted a few days in the water.


The spirit was thick when we went to walk around the temple instead and we visited with a sister missionary from Germany in the Christus room.  We also enjoyed touring the Brigham Young summer home there.


We had lots of down time to read and watch the Disney channel for the kids, Fixer upper and the Bleak House series for me, March Madness basketball games for G., and listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter for all.

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without a yummy lasagna dinner in our room and Costa Vida lunch on the drive home–so much better than fast food.

We even found a little car on a red rock hike in town from a family who was placing Matchbox cars in different locations in honor of their 5 year old son who passed away.  The kids found it and we took a photo and put it on the family’s facebook page as they requested.

for Carson

This put it into perspective for me–how thankful I am to have this family of mine and to be on a trip like this, making memories together.


Life’s plans don’t always turn out, but when you focus on the good and are grateful, it can be better than you expected.


My baby turned 6 and I just can’t believe it!

A few weeks ago, on a date with my husband, we ran into Mary–D.’s occupational therapist when he was 1 year old. She would come into our home to help him learn to work through his mouth sensitivity problems and ultimately learn to eat from a spoon, which wasn’t until he was 18 months old.  I told her how thankful I was for her because now he is one of my biggest eaters.  He’s just making up for lost time. :)

Also, I recently sat in on his speech class.  Before he starts each lesson, his teacher asks him to tell her one thing he loves.  I read through his favorites during the school year and over and over he tells her, “I love food.” or “I love to eat.” It was so cute to realize it is something he overcame as a baby and really consciously enjoys doing.

D. wanted a rainbow cake for his birthday, so we made one with skittles and marshmallows for the clouds.


The gift he wanted most was to get a haircut.  He no longer wanted his curls, so I consented, but only if Dad took him. I would have cried watching them cut off all those beautiful curls.


He’s all grown up!

My love of books

I absolutely love children’s books.

Mind you, this is why I have a membership to 3 different libraries, so I can find whatever book I am looking for.

I am like a child in a candy shop when I’m surrounded by so many wonderful selections.

This is why in my down time I’m headed to a library to find treasures for my children to read based on our most recent science or history lesson.

This is why I’m reading through the Sonlight book lists on my own, like Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, because there are so many great titles of children’s literature that I don’t want to miss out on.

If you didn’t know, in my life before children, I used to be a 3rd grade teacher and my favorite time with my class was when they came in from lunch and recess and I read aloud to them.

My favorite class in college was Children’s Literature, so of course being able to read aloud with my children on a daily basis is a dream come true for me.  We’ve read about 80 chapter books…and counting over our 10 years of homeschooling and there are still so many more I want to read and re-read with them.

One of our favorite family traditions is watching the movie version of the books we’ve read.

It’s my happy place when we’ve read an amazing book together and then get to experience it all over again watching it at home or in the theater.

Just this week, we huddled around the couch with popcorn & blankets and laughed our heads off to Anne’s antics in Anne of Green Gables.

Books give us new experiences and inspire us to learn new things.

When we read Capyboppy, we pulled out Dad’s mission photos of him sharing a blade of grass with a capabara in Argentina, and learned all we could about this unusual animal.

Homer Price and Farmer Boy made us want to try our hand at making homemade doughnuts.

A pet cricket and learning all about China came about after reading A Cricket in Times Square.

Eating rainbow cereal and making “green” spectacles was a highlight with The Wizard of Oz.

Dressing up as Indians, complete with dollar store bow and arrows & cowboy and Indian plastic figures, was a hit when we read The Indian in the Cupboard.

Building penguins out of legos while we listened to Mr. Popper’s Penguins and later watched “March of the Penguins” documentary.

Sending our own Flat Stanley in the mail to friends and family across the country after we watched the play on stage and read the book.

Playing pooh-sticks under the bridge like in House at Pooh Corner and reciting “The more it snows, tiddely pom” poem.

Finding a red caboose to explore when we read The Boxcar Children together.

Dressing up in togas and having our own Roman dinner after reading Detectives in Togas.

The list could go on….but if you want to truly experience life with your children, read books with them.  Check out our favorites here.


Valentines and a birthday

I celebrated my birthday 2 weeks ago!  G. and I try to avoid the weekend of Valentine’s Day, so we went out to eat at Macaroni Grill the Saturday before. We had a party with my dad on Sunday to celebrate together, since our birthdays are only 2 days apart.  On my actual birthday, G. treated me to a Coldstone chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake.  We were out of candles, so he had this crazy idea to use 4 sparklers on the cake.  (Although, I’m not quite 40 yet!) I don’t know what we were thinking, but about half way through the singing, the fire alarm went off.  It sure made for a scary/funny moment!


We had a fun Valentine’s Day.  Our homeschool group met at the city park and we gave out valentines, decorated sugar cookies, and recited poetry.  E. memorized “Smart” by Shel Silverstein, W. recited “Valentine” by Shel Silverstein, and D. sang the nursery rhyme “Little Boy Blue.”

Earlier in the week, we made love notes for each other that we hung on the windows,


used conversation hearts in math,


and had a heart pizza from Papa Murphy’s.


For Valentine’s Day, we read our favorite Valentine books,


and had a red dinner as a family with red sauce/pasta, cherry lime-made, bread, and vegetables.


The kids and I were so excited to give daddy a box of Candy Crush fruit snacks that we found at Walmart because his latest past time has been playing the Candy Crush game online.  I sure love my family!


A memory-filled 2 months

Our day to day lives can seem so monotonous, but when I finally find time to record what we have been up to, we’ve really done a lot of things. Here’s a recap of life/homeschool from the last 2 months:


We have had unusually mild weather this winter.  I’ve loved listening to my kids and their friends play basketball in the front yard.  Our hoop has become a “magnet” for many of the neighborhood kids to come play at and it makes me happy that they’re exercising and having fun at the same time. I recently joined a women’s basketball league at church and it has been fun to get back to playing again.  I think it’s been about 10 years since I played last. :)

We visited the art museum for E.’s art merit badge and came upon an origami exhibit.  My favorite was “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes“–Sadako was a Japanese girl who got leukemia after the atomic bomb exploded in her country during WWII.  She hoped that if she made 1000 paper cranes while in the hospital that she would get well.  There was a miniature candy wrapper crane that she made in 1955 that was on display.  It was so fascinating to me that we read the book and spent an afternoon doing our own origami.  I love learning new things with my children!


D. loves to draw.  We found an Ed Emberly drawing book from the library and it has been a hit! A few times this week, he has been very quiet, so I go looking for him, thinking he is making trouble, and then find him busily drawing creations from the book.

Since Christmas, the favorite toy at our house as been magna-tiles.  The kids play with them almost every day creating homes and castles.


We learned about different kinds of clouds in science and I’ve loved looking for them in the sky. Next to the mountains they are so beautiful.  God’s creations are truly magnificent!

In Kindergarten, D. learned about C for cows.  We made homemade butter by shaking cream in a jar. Then we had a “dairy” party complete with milk, butter on bread, cream cheese on a bagel, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese.  We read The Story of Ferdinand and then he made his own paper flowers. We sprayed them with perfume, so he could smell them under a tree just like Ferdinand did in the book.

c for cows

For Christmas, we got a yearly pass to Thanksgiving Point, which includes access to 4 different museums.  Last month, we went on a field trip to the dinosaur museum.  The kids had a blast making islands for their dinosaurs, creating dams in the water/sand area, and digging for bones.

dinosaur museum

We decided to check out the curiosity museum on President’s Day, along with everyone else in the area.  It was very crowded, and we didn’t get to everything, so we can’t wait to go back.  Afterwards, we treated the kids to Golden Corral as an incentive for a family goal we recently accomplished. They have an amazing dessert bar with chocolate fondue and cotton candy.  The kids were in heaven!  J., who is trying to have no sugar for a month for her nutrition class, was pleased that they had sugar free cookies and soft serve, so she could still have dessert.

W. has been our little baker.  She pulled out the easy bake oven and made red velvet cupcakes several times with her friends.


D. lost his first “real” tooth.  When he was 2, his top tooth had to be pulled because he knocked it up into his gums after falling off the toliet. This was extra special for him to loose one all on his own.  It was bittersweet for me to be the tooth fairy for our last child!


J. and W. both had piano recitals.  We love their teachers at Art City.  W. performed “Tortoise” & “Little Dance” and J. played “All of Me” by Jon Schmidt.  It was a favorite because she bangs/uses her whole arm to play certain parts.  She truly uses all of herself to play it. :)


W. and Julianne


Tara and J.

I’ve been trying out new dinner recipes.  One that was a favorite was Indian Chicken Tiki Masala. We loved it with rice, broccoli and carrots, and naan bread.  So easy and yummy that we’ll definitely try it again.


We had an art day with our homeschool group.  Sara, one of the moms, has her own art studio in her home and invited all of us over to have an art lesson.  We made silhouette sunsets.  Then a week later, we had an art showcase and the kids could show off art they have done this year. E. displayed a name alien that he made out of his name in cursive with markers.

Name Alien 2014

W. showed her princess and the pea bed that she made out of glue and watercolors.

Princess and the pea 2014 for blog

D. drew a bird in a nest with eggs using colored pencils.


On top of all that, I co-chaired a UT county homeschool spelling bee. It was quite the adventure being in charge of running the junior bees for grades 1-4.  My kids didn’t participate, but next year we hope to as I will be the main one in charge of the whole thing.  What a busy and interesting 2 months!

I Love Insects

D. has loved learning about insects in My Father’s World Kindergarten.  We studied ants, bees, and ladybugs.

We pulled out our plastic ant farm (this is our third time using it) and had live harvester ants and sand sent to our home to fill it.  It is amazing how busy they start building their tunnels.  D. enjoys watching his new pets. He feeds them a small piece of carrot, apple, or celery every few days with a few drops of water.  They are still alive and it’s been almost a month since they arrived.


We read Ant Cities and he made an ant lapbook to reinforce what he learned.


When we read about bees in Are You a Bee?, D. decided to draw its life cycle.  In math, we cut out hexagons, so we used them to represent the honey comb and he placed his drawings on top.  I love when my kids come up with their own ideas of learning!


Then we read The Grouchy Ladybug and he painted a ladybug rock.


My life in a few paragraphs…

  • I am feeling so old lately as this year makes 20 years since I graduated from high school.  I cannot believe it!  A reunion is in the works, but not sure if I will go.
  • Last week, I went skiing for the first time in about 18 years.  We went with my dad and took the 3 oldest kids.  I’m definitely not as adventurous as I used to be.  I enjoyed the tow rope and going down the small hill with my 9 year old the most.  The next day, I was so sore, I couldn’t get out of bed, but it sure was fun trying something I hadn’t done in so long.  For years, I’ve missed out because I was home taking care of the babies. Now my baby is turning 6 in two months.  Crazy how I feel my life changing as they get older.
  • “It’s my one weakness.”  If you’ve watched Lark Rise to Candleford, you know the quote I’m referring to.  I can’t get enough of watching this series.  It’s my new favorite–love the time period, the costumes, the love stories, and the different characters.  Makes me want to live in a cottage, bake bread and try other homemaking skills, and invite my friends over for tea. It’s so clean and refreshing.  I just love how the characters make decisions based on integrity.  You don’t find many shows like that on TV anymore.  I’m almost done watching the last season and I’m really going to miss it.
  • I’ve been working on a Project Life scrapbook of our 5 week trip back East in 2013.  It’s bringing back such fond memories.  I can’t believe we actually did it–driving through 14 states, covering 7,000 miles, and spending 100 hours in the car.  I hope having all the photos and memories in one place will help us never forget it!
  • We had a two week break during Christmas.  I did nothing related to homeschooling and it was heavenly.  I realized how homeschooling has been my #1 hobby for so long.  This year, I’m going to change it up and do other things.  I think I have this homeschooling thing down–I’ve been doing it for 10 years now, so instead of it consuming all my time, I’m going to find more of a balance.  During the break, I played games, watched movies, scrapbooked, and read.  It was so nice to do something different.
  • I also have to say being around the youth, sure makes you feel young.  I recently got called to work with the youth in my ward at church.  I love teaching the Sunday lessons and getting to know the girls at weekly activities.  I’m working with the Mia Maids, which is my oldest daughter’s age, so it is nice to spend more time with her and her friends.  Life is good!

A little homeschool recap

I can’t believe a new year is upon us!  My idea in the fall to post our memories every month has fallen by the wayside.  Here’s a little homeschool recap before heading into 2015.

SCIENCE:  After learning about astronomy, the kids chose a planet to do a report on.  They each presented in different ways.  E. made a poster about Saturn.


W. decided to do her report on Neptune as a power point presentation.  We used to put it together.  Very simple and fun!


first page of her Neptune power point presentation

Their reports were both so creative and helped them present in a unique way what they had learned with the family.


We took a trip to Hee Haw farms.  We enjoyed feeding the goats and sheep, watching the piglets drink from their mother (so funny to watch them fighting over who was drinking and then running over to another pen to drink from another pig since they didn’t get enough), taking a hayride, exploring the corn maze, picking a pumpkin to take home, sliding down a hill with potato sacks, playing in the corn box, and burying each other.

We also saw a play based on the book–Miss Nelson is Missing with homeschool friends.


We participated in a musical showcase.  Each of the kids played the piano.  We used a music store recital hall to play in.  D. played “Notes”–a song he made up, W. played “When I am Baptized” and E. played “Waterfall” which he has been working on for some time.  I wanted to especially give the boys an opportunity to perform since they weren’t taking lessons.

HISTORY:  We finished up a history unit on ancient Roman times.  We made our own Roman wreaths out of paper leaves.


One of our favorite resources was an Ancient Rome Treasure Chest, which included paper dolls, making a Roman villa, using a wax tablet to write Roman numerals, a board game, and much more.

ancient rome activities

Other books/resources we enjoyed:

The Family School History Year 2 lessons, flashcards, and timeline

Story of the World Vol. 1 book, CD, and activity guide

History Odyssey Ancients Level 1

Romulus and Remus

Hannibal and His 37 Elephants

The Roman News

You Wouldn’t Want to be a Roman Gladiator

Roman Numerals I to MM

Wisdom from Heidi

I love the classics.  I’ve been reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri aloud to my children.  I love when I read a passage from a book and it shares little bits of wisdom that reiterate what I want my children to know.  These words were given to Heidi from the grandmother:

“Then, dear child, let me tell you what to do: you know that when we are in great trouble, and cannot speak about it to anybody, we must turn to God and pray Him to help, for He can deliver us from every care, that oppresses us. You understand that, do you not? You say your prayers every evening to the dear God in Heaven, and thank Him for all He has done for you, and pray Him to keep you from all evil, do you not?”

“No, I never say any prayers,” answered Heidi.

“Have you never been taught to pray, Heidi; do you not know even what it means?”

“I used to say prayers with the first grandmother, but that is a long time ago, and I have forgotten them.”

“That is the reason, Heidi, that you are so unhappy, because you know no one who can help you. Think what a comfort it is when the heart is heavy with grief to be able at any moment to go and tell everything to God, and pray Him for the help that no one else can give us. And He can help us and give us everything that will make us happy again.”

A sudden gleam of joy came into Heidi’s eyes. “May I tell Him everything, everything?”

“Yes, everything, Heidi, everything.”

Words from my boys

  • I love to sing, so occasionally, I’ll be listening to a song on Pandora and start belting it out while I’m working in the kitchen. The other day, it was Gravity by Sara Bareilles. Then I hear my five year old yell from the other room, “I like your singing mommy.”  Thanks bud, I didn’t realize I had an audience.
  • E. and I were discussing a recent book that he was reading for school and he was trying to explain to me why the girl in the story was sick.  “She had petunia, Mom.” “Don’t you mean pneumonia?”  We had a good laugh about that.  They do both have a P and N in them, so pretty close.
  • My husband says to D., “Your mom is hot.”  “How can mommy be hot in the winter?,” says D.  Of course, we chuckle.  “Oh, you mean cute girl hot?,” he adds.
  • My 11 year old son had the interesting idea to make up his own language.  He called it–Zelkin. He wrote his own alphabet for it and started writing and speaking it to us everyday for what seemed like weeks. He would respond to me during the day in Zelkin, but I had no idea what he was saying.  I finally had to make a rule that he could use Zelkin, just not during school hours, because I couldn’t understand him. Thankfully it was just a little phase, until he decided to come up with a new one called Calihikoo. Where does he come up with these ideas?  I wonder if he’ll have a knack for speaking “real” languages one day.
  • Today D. came and brought me an (empty) chocolate advent calendar.  “Mommy, some how all the chocolates fell out…And then I ate them.”  Oh, well.  I guess it was just too tempting for him to wait.

Kindergarten Fun

Here are some fun projects that I wanted to document of D.’s Kindergarten year (many of the ideas have come from My Father’s World K):

Creation:  Colored a poster of the 7 days of creation


S for sun:  Made homemade raisins=grapes + sun


M for moon:  Read “Little Bear Goes to the Moon”–narrated and acted it out with his own space helmet (Of course, he had to growl like a bear!)


N for nest:  Built a nest all on his own with leaves from the yard


Halloween:  Counted pumpkin seeds by tens


Thanksgiving:  Painted a handprint turkey


D for Dinosaur:  Went digging for dinosaur bones

dinosaur dig

O for Octopus:  Created his own ocean scene


(See full curriculum review of our experience using My Father’s World Kindergarten.  We’ve loved using it!  This is our 3rd time around.)