Silks, Circuits, and Corn

IMG_20171016_085751_218I haven’t made a “fall bucket list” in a long time.  I don’t like the idea of getting stressed out about not crossing an item off the list.  I’m type A like that.  Just because I don’t make bucket lists, doesn’t mean I don’t look at them on Pinterest 🙂  I love looking at all the fun things we could be (and are!) doing during the fall.  Apple cider pressing, jumping in leaf piles, admiring the fall colors, bringing out the fall clothing box, joining in on spooky Halloween  activities, eating apples…  they’re all things that completely warm my heart and soul at this time of year!

Our homeschool tends to reflect the season during this last third of the year.  It’s my absolute favorite 🙂

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:

Monday we did school work in the morning, and then left for our friends house.  The girls spent hours and hours playing in the woods with other kids.  It was a crisp day, but the sun was out.  Everything about the day felt so good!!

IMG_20171018_095327Tuesday we stayed home all day.  Millie has been busier than usual over the past two weeks, so needed to catch up on her science and history work.  She sped through history.  She’s using Notgrass America the Beautiful this year, and it’s such a perfect fit!  She loves it because the lessons are fairly short, full of beautiful photos, and the literature and activities that go along with each lesson are fun.  I’m excited to use the curriculum through highschool!  On the other hand, Millie claims to really dislike the science we’re using (physical science using PhysicsQuest kits).  If she really didn’t like it, we’d find an alternative.  But, you know what?  By the end of the the lessons, she is so excited about what she’s learned, she tells dad all about it when he gets home from work.  I call that a win 😉  While Millie was working on her back-log of work, Elise dug into some circuit supplies, and played around with buzzers and lights.  She was SO amazed!  It was awesome.

IMG_20171022_160501Wednesday Millie had co-op like normal.  Elise and I were supposed to stay home and do school work, but she really wanted to go to a playground to show me how she can flip.  We did that, went to the library (her request.  Elise suggesting that she read more?  Yes please!), and went for Chinese food.  Apparently back on August 21st, I promised Chinese food, soon.  LOL.  I had to keep my word…

Thursday was another stay at home day.  We plugged through school like usual.  Millie got an A on another math test.  Pre-algebra seems to agree with her!   Finally!!  After school, Millie had to volunteer for a teen art board that she’s on.  They’re busy planning a teen halloween night, and had to make props.  After I dropped her off, I took Elise to a silks class.  She had been asking to take a silks class since we went to the Renaissance Festival on September 29th.  She has been asking every. single. day.  So, I took her.  She love it so much, and caught on really fast!

IMG_20171020_144415Friday is always Field Trip Friday, here.  The girls did their school work before I woke up (hooray!), and were ready to go to lunch at our friends house.  After lunch, we went to Severs Corn Maze for hours of corn pit fun!  I accidentally scheduled this event during MEA, a two day period in which all students in Minnesota are off school.  That was a bad time to go to Severs, as it was packed.  The kids didn’t seem to mind, though.  I think I’ll schedule this again for next year, on a date when the public school kids are IN school 😉

It was a fantastic week!

Are you interested in seeing what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Click here 🙂


Too Busy, Too Soon!

We’re only a month in, and the girls and I are already feeling overwhelmed with outings.  Here’s what we need to do:

  1. Remember that we need to do what works best for us, despite worrying about disappointing others.
  2. Practice the art of saying No.
  3. Stick to my original plan, from the beginning of the school year.

Even though we’ve been overwhelmed, we have definitely been having fun.  Both girls are reading a LOT of books, we’ve been on some great field trips, and they’re both doing great in math.  Woo hoo!  Here’s what we’ve been up to:


3 Weeks – Done!

IMG_20170913_135559We’ve got three weeks under our belt!  School is going great this year.  My goal for this year was to cut out some activities, and stay home more.  So far, so good.  We’re getting our work done and staying home more, but when we go out, they’re really meaningful outings.  We’ve found a new group that both kids seem to connect with really well, plus we have our normal field trip group, a new teen group, co-op, SciGirls, and an American Girl club (which hasn’t started yet).  Good times!

IMG_20170919_184358_834Millie is doing pre-algebra this year.  If she was in public school, she’d be doing algebra, but I think she needs this extra year to help her mature enough to understand the concepts.  She got 100% on her last test, which is a huge confidence booster!  She is doing a great job working independently on her German, grammar, writing, and history.  We always do science together.  She claims not to like the curriculum, but I’m pretty sure she likes it.  She made an air-zooka last time.  Who wouldn’t like that?!

Elise is doing great, too.  I definitely sense a theme for the year:  cooking.  She is doing cooking as part of her American Girl club, history, and science 🙂  She loves it!

As far as outings go, we’ve been to a behind the scenes tour and zoo keeper talk at the zoo, canoeing, to a wonderful art installation at the Walker Art Museum, playgrounds with friends, bonfires, and a harvest cooking challenge class at Gale Woods Farm.

Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:

1st Day of School – 2017


The first day of school is finally here!  It has gone so smoothly, it almost doesn’t feel like school at all.

Here’s what we’ve done:

We had breakfast together (french toast)
Millie worked on her work in her room, while Elise did her work with me
At lunch time, we ate together and watched a video about the earth’s poles
The girls did their chores
We had quiet reading time
Lastly, we had “genius hour”

What is genius hour, you ask?  It’s a block of time (at least an hour), where the girls can work on projects that interest them.  I’m hoping that as time goes on, they’ll dig into something they’re really passionate about.  Today Elise is making an ecosystem in a bottle, and Millie is doing food/advertising photography.  I’m using that time to work on coordinating field trip payments, doing homework, or doing something I want to do, like exercising.



Curriculum Week – 2017

The countdown to the 2017/18 school year is on!  We have just over two weeks before we get back into our regular routine.  I still haven’t fulfilled everything on my personal summer bucket list (floating in a tube on a lake, reading in the sun all day, and sitting by a bonfire for hours), so I need to make the last couple weeks count!

IMG_20170819_232016I spent the beginning part of the summer planning out our school year.  I have every single day of the school year planned out in my handy dandy teachers plan book.  Now, I’m not as rigid as I was in the past.  If something comes up that throws my plan off course (a great field trip or class, or an impromptu trip up north with dad, for example), I just roll with it.  Isn’t that super relaxed of me?!  😉

Here’s what we have lined up for this year:

Millie – 8th Grade:

IMG_20170819_225511Since this is what I consider to be our high school preview year, we’re making some pretty big changes.  Millie will do almost all her work independently.  She’ll be responsible for budgeting her time, and making sure her assignments get done.  This year, she’ll be using:

  • Math – Life of Fred
  • German – Duolingo
  • English – Bob Jones Writing and Grammar
  • Spelling – Rod and Staff
  • History – America the Beautiful by Notgrass
  • Science – Physical science – assembled by me, using various sources
  • Art – Acting at her co-op
  • Plus lots of field trips, 4-H, and gatherings with her friends

Elise – 4th Grade:

IMG_20170819_225701Elise is a very independent learner.  She knows what she wants to learn about, and has expressed it to me.  Old Leslie would not have veered off our 4-year history cycle, but new, relaxed Leslie is letting Elise pursue her interest in medieval history.  I can’t wait!!  Here’s what she’s going to do:

  • Math – Saxon
  • Typing –
  • Cursive – Queens
  • English – Queens language lessons
  • Science –  Geology, human body, and biomes of the world, assembled by me using various resources.
  • History – a fun hodge podge put together by me 🙂
  • She’ll also do SciGirls, American Girl club, lots of field trips, and 4-H

There you have it!  We’re all set up and ready to go!



The Homeschool Room

We still have one third of the summer left to enjoy, but like most homeschool parents, I’ve got 2017/18 on my mind (and in my planner, and in my other planner, and in my other planner).

IMG_20170814_112316We have moved since the last time I did a school room post.  Ironically, our set up looks almost exactly the same (except our new space has carpet!  We have to be extra careful not to spill).  We’ve got the red cabinet that looks like a regular old china hutch, but in reality, behind the closed doors you’d find two shelves cram packed with books, paper, and other homeschool items that we’ll use on a regular basis.

While we don’t really have a set place to do our work, the dining room table is definitely the hub.  This is where I sit with the girls to work on subjects that they need help with, and where they sit when they need a good, ergonomically correct work space (when typing or doing cursive, for example).

Otherwise, if we’re not at this table, you’ll find my students on the couch, at the outside table, or in their beds.  Whatever works for them, works for me.

IMG_20170814_112403The big difference between the old house and the new place, is that I have my own little work space!  This is where all the magic happens 😉  I do my planning, organize all 54 field trips and classes for the community, do my personal school work, and manage the household from here.  It’s a pretty important spot!  It’s not exactly how I’d like it, but until I win a shopping spree to Ikea, it’s going to look like this.  It’s OK, it’s totally functional, and I love it.



TJEd Ingredient #50: Spring is For Science

“Each spring the world is re-born…experiments, readings, studies,

and other science projects flourish and grow in the spring.”

-The Phases of Learning, p. 176


In the book Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille, they detail the 55 ingredients that “introduce a recipe for success in raising children and upholding families with a Leadership Education” (DeMille 72).  While I’m not a TJEd purist, I follow the list of 55 ingredients to a degree of about 60%.  I am slowly working on incorporating more ingredients, but it’s taking time, which is OK.

Ingredient #50: Spring is for Science is another one of my favorite ingredients, and we’re embracing it wholeheartedly right now!  We’ve wrapped up “school,” and are doing a lot of fun science and nature study.  So far this spring, we’ve:

  • visited a nature center
  • practiced our field journaling techniques
  • dissected flowers
  • had a visit from a possum
  • looked at a lot of interesting bugs under rocks
  • participated in a nature scavenger hunt
  • learned about species area curves
  • learned to identify the species of birds in our new neighborhood
  • gone on hikes
  • spent a lot of time outdoors, simply absorbing mother nature’s glory

We still have a lot to do, but I’m winding down the school year, and my blog is going to fall silent.  I’ll pick it back up we the new school year gets closer.  I’m planning on spending most of the summer enjoying my patio, reading, drinking sweet tea, and soaking up the sun.  See you in August!

The Great End of the Year Wind Down

IMG_20170401_122710This is such an odd time of year.  I’m so worn out from a year of homeschooling, but I’m elated because our activities are wrapping up.  Every time we have a “last day of…” I feel soooo great!  First we had our last day of Lego League.  Then confirmation, and college for me.  All we have left to wrap up is SciGirls (one class left) and Field Trip Friday (4 outings left).  The end is near, folks!  I’m counting down the days until SUMMER!

Our academics are slowly winding down, too.  This Thursday, we start Fun School, in which we learn math through games, read a lot of books, do fun history projects, and get outside for nature study.   I’ll post details as they develop…

Here is what we’ve been up to lately:

A Fort Worth Convention & Recovery Week

IMG_20170223_152218Last month (it’s been a while since I’ve posted!!) the family packed up the car,  left Minnesota, and drove across the country to Fort Worth Texas, for the Great Homeschool Convention.  I love attending homeschool conventions, and decided to take a break from our local one (too much redundancy), to hit up the convention with Sarah MacKenzie speaking 🙂  It was a major “fan girl” moment.  He he.

IMG_20170225_154511The convention was wonderful.  I had to the opportunity to listen to several great speakers, and do a LOT of window shopping.  OK, I didn’t just window shop.  I bought a few things, too.  🙂  My favorite purchases were:

A 19th Century History lapbook from Homeschool in the Woods (I can’t believe I didn’t know about HitW!! I can’t wait to start it with the girls soon)

Sewing kits from Homegrown Homesewn (seriously, the cutest kits ever!)

The Ember Falls (Millie got to attend two writers workshops hosted by S.D. Smith, and have him autograph about a zillion things; a book, several posters, a necklace, etc.  She was in heaven!)

And last, but certainly not least…

American History Go Fish game by The Classical Historian (I want to buy everything they offer.  I probably will, eventually!)

While in Fort Worth, we also had time to do a little touristy stuff.  We visited Cowtown, ate a LOT of really great food, posed for pictures by the pool (it was unheated and SO cold.  We definitely utilized the hot tub though), and met up with my BFF from 3rd and 4th grade.  Fort Worth is so cool, I wish we could have had another week to take in all the museums and historic sites.  We’ll definitely make a trip back to Texas in the future.

Taking that week off from school was just what the doctor ordered.  We’re back at it now, and are energized and ready to finish the school year.  Only eleven and a half weeks to go (not that I’m counting.  He he!!)

Here’s what we’ve been up to since we got home:

How We Handle Winter Doldrums

I’ve been talking about it for weeks, and we’be been hanging on, but we’ve finally succumbed to the winter doldrums.  It’s OK, I’m not panicking.  We’re dealing with it by taking care of ourselves, having fun, and doing some creative assignments to give ourselves a break.

Here’s what we did this week:


Over the weekend, Millie attended a leadership retreat through 4-H.  She came back exhausted.  By Sunday evening, I could tell that waking up at the crack of dawn to go to co-op would not be beneficial.  So, I let her “skip” school.  We did some work in the morning. Millie has been playing on a math app that is really, really great.  It’s challenging her and teaching new things.  I love it!!  Elise and I played a game with fractions.  After lunch, we met up with some friends at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America for some ride time.  The kids had so much fun!  It was great to see friends that we don’t see enough 🙂


img_20170215_092907Valentines day!!  We spent the morning prepping the house for our Valentines party!  We had a few friends over, exchanged valentines, and hung out.  I saw a lot of smiling faces, even on the teen boys.  Success!


Today we met up with our SciGirls friends for a knitting gathering.  We started working on knitting hats to donate to people in need as our service project in January, but the girls didn’t finish.  So, we had a special gathering to finish the hats.  It was great.  I love those girls!!  Elise didn’t knit, but she brought her pom pom making kit, and made little animals (her current passion).


img_20170216_093442World Read Aloud day!  Of course, we had to spend a LOT of time reading 🙂  I’m currently reading Mary Jameson: Indian Captive.  It’s a really good book.  I can’t stop without hearing “Keep reading!” from the kids 🙂  Music to my ears!!  In the afternoon, we did nature study.  We sketched an item in detail, and did an exercise resulting in really great poetry.  I was seriously impressed with the poems the girls wrote.  Seriously amazing.  We used our Old Naturalist book as our guide.


Sick day 😦  Womp womp.  We were supposed to go to a nature center with friends, but couldn’t because Millie was couch-bound.  Elise and I ended up going to the condo to pack, and then come home and hang out.  It was a fairly unproductive day.  I’m not complaining, though.  As you may know, I love low keys days!!  I think I’ve been pushing Millie too hard (I didn’t mention that we are at 4-H events nearly every night until 9:15).  Perhaps when we get back to think we’ll plan more down time.

This isn’t the end of the doldrums, I’m sure.  Next week we leave for Texas, which will mix things up for us, and then I think we’ll have another “fun week” before digging back in.  I love that as homeschoolers, we are able to do what we need to do to nurture our souls during the most difficult month of winter.

Do you want to know what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Click here!