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!

An Ice Storm, Career Day, and Spring Fever

I’ve got the mid-February blues!  It happens nearly every February.  I’m counting down the days to our Texas trip (9 days, to be exact).  What are we doing in Texas, you ask?  Going to a homeschool convention!  I’m so excited about the speakers (Sarah Mackenzie!!), shopping, and spending quality time with one of my favorite people.  I’m positive that this will cure my blues 🙂

We had a busy week. I mean, a seriously busy week.  I’m sure that had something to do with the fact that I’m completely worn out and “over” homeschooling.  I’ll make some changes for the upcoming week.  I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to change, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something…

Here’s what we did this week, in pictures:


Lego League


An ice storm hit, cancelling our afternoon plans (The gift of time!).


SciGirls, my favorite part of homeschooling!  We had career day this week.


Thats about it!

TJEd Ingredient #43: The Degree Program

The Challenge: To do whatever it takes to get the education you need and see what miracles you can witness in your life (Phases of Learning, 167).

The book Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMillie details what they believe to be…you guessed it…the phases of learning.  Part II of the book details the Core and Love of Learning  phases in 55 ingredients.  While I don’t follow all 55 (I’m not a purist), I do  my best to follow as many as I can, which ends up being thirty-some.

The 43rd TJEd ingredient is really dear to me right now.  I recently made the decision to go back to school to pursue a degree in history.  I knew I loved history, but it wasn’t until I started homeschooling that I realized that teaching history to my kids wasn’t enough.  I longed to know it all 🙂

img_20170111_174928I started back at school a year and a half ago.  Since I am homeschooling, working part time, and running a few homeschool groups, I don’t have time to go to school full time.  Instead, I’m taking two classes per semester, and will take about six years to finish.  I plan to use that time to run a few homeschool history classes, volunteer for the historical society, do an internship, and travel to England to study for a book that I hope to write one day.

img_20170105_175141The classes I’ve taken have been amazing, and have changed my perspective on a few topics.  I love meeting people from cultures different from my own.  The whole experience has been life changing, and I have only just begun.


One of the best parts, is I’m showing my girls the importance of blocking out time to study, doing my best, striving to earn good grades, and proving that it’s never too late for a regular ol’ stay-at-homeschool mom to pursue her dreams.

Are you interested in seeing the other phases we follow?  Here are the few I’ve written about:

TJed Ingredient #4: Kidschool

TJed Ingredient #36: Grandparent Mentoring

TJEd Ingredient #10: The Annual Break

TJEd Ingredient #9: The Annual Project

TJEd Ingredient #2 – Weeks

TJEd Ingredient #51: Fall is for Beginnings

TJEd Ingredient #17: The Field Trip


Share the Fun, Marshmallow Shooters, and Jamestown

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan and probably a little overly obsessed with planning things.  So much so, that I’ve started planning activities for next school year.  What?!  Yep.  I’m talkin’ the 2017/18 school year.  I’m trying to restrain myself (with no avail), because if I plan everything now, I’ll have nothing left to do this summer…

Our post Christmas hangover is officially over.  We’re back in the swing of things, doing lessons, and hanging out with friends.  It feels good to be back!

This is what we’ve been up to this week:

Millie has been reading The Courage of Sarah Noble out loud to us, Elise has been reading The Littles, and I’m reading Blue Birds out loud to them.  Millie has also managed to devour several other books that aren’t on her assigned reading list.  She’s been reading (finishing?) the Unwanteds series.


Millie had co-op (the second week of the semester.  She’s taking zoology and art, still).  While she was at co-op, Elise and I had Jr. First Lego League.  It was a super small group, but the kids had fun learning about and building levers.  Afterwards we went to the library, and then back to the condo.  We aren’t living at the condo now that it’s winter.  We’re house sitting in the ‘burbs again.  It’s nice to have the condo to crash at, though.  This time of year, we spend a lot of time at 4-H in the evening, and it’s nice to be able to stay centrally located, rather than driving all the way back “home,” before heading out again.  This time of year brings so. much. driving.  Both girls are doing the 4-H Share the Fun skit, which means we drive to our 4-H location, 40 minutes away, to practice for their 6 minute skit, 3-4 times per week.  Oi.


Today we worked on our regular morning school routine.  Millie is brushing up on her math skills using different lessons from, and continuing to use Writing With Skill for writing.  I’m so thankful that book was recommended to me.  It’s wonderful, and Millie can work completely independently on it.  Win!  Elise is still plugging away at Saxon math.  She loves math a lot.  She did Queens Language Lessons and the cursive primer, too.  After lunch we met up with friends at a wood working shop, and they all built marshmallow shooters.  They loved the class, and I loved catching up with the other mama’s.


A stay at home day!  After our regular morning routine and lunch, we started back up with our history lesson.  We’re learning all about Jamestown, so naturally they built a model of the village.  It was fun to make the connection between Roanoak, Jamestown, and the English Queen/King that were making decisions at the time. It was interesting to imagine what it must have been like for people who were used to living in civilized England, to coming to a primitive village in a land so far from home.  Wednesday is neighborhood friends day.  Everyone is free to play that day, so they bundled up in snowpants, hats, boots, and mittens, and played in the woods for hours.


img_20170127_120220This was the day when things started breaking down for us.  We had school in the morning, but by afternoon, the girls wanted to do their own thing.  I let them forgo their history lesson so they could pursue their own interests.  I love that we have the flexibility to do that.  Sometimes quality sister time trumps anything else.


*See above*  Today was exactly like Thursday.  I did a lot of my own personal school work (an essay for my nature writers class).  We were going to make our January scrapbook pages to put into their binders, but that’ll have to wait, too.

It was a productive and relaxing week!

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

Happy New Year! Ringing in ’17

I absolutely love celebrating the turning of the calendar year!  To me, it means fresh new budget spreadsheets, new plans to liven up the homeschool, a productive new business plan, and of course personal resolutions.

Here’s what I have in mind for the new year:

Personal Budgeting:

We have struggled with debt for a long time.  It’s amazing that a bad decision or two in our twenties could carry on into our thirties.  Ick.  Fortunately, we’re come to terms with it, paid off a huge chunk in ’16, and are on our way to financial freedom.  I’m quite certain we’ll get there in ’17.  Thankfully.  This year, we’ll continue with what we’ve been doing.  Sticking to a budget, using overages in Mr.’s paycheck to pay down debt, and overages in my paychecks to use as spending money.  When we get large lumps from the business, we’ll apply it to our spending categories; savings, clothes, holidays, vacation, taxes, etc.  Dealing with our finances this way will allow us to become closer to our goal, as well as give us permission to spend money on things that I used to feel guilty about spending on, like clothes.

Livening up the Homeschool:

I’m not changing too  much in our school, because I really like the way things have been going.  One thing we’ve been doing lately, is having a little morning crunch time, where the kids have a friendly math competition, do a little spelling quiz, and *sometimes* do some free writing.  In addition to that, I’d like to add in a quick science experiment once per week, in the morning.  Both kids have asked for more science this year, so this seems like a great way to incorporate it.  I’m taking ideas from Planet Smarty Pants, and doing something quick and easy (and almost free).

Since my girls have asked for more science, and I feel that Millie needs to be challenged more, I’m also adding the study of Botany to our year.  We’ll be using Botany in 8 Lessons.  I’m really excited about this!!  I think the girls will love doing all the activities that go along with it.  It doesn’t hurt that we have a wonderful conservatory to go to for field trips!

Business Planning:

In my past life, before I became a homeschool mom, I worked in the real estate business.  Mr still does, and I like to stay on top of the market, marketing trends, and all that.  Once per year, I get to write his business plan.  I love it!  It gives me a sense of purpose to be able to “work.”  I’m hoping to get more involved each year, as his business grows.

Personal Resolutions:

Every year I make personal resolutions (usually to lose weight), and I usually fail.  Waa!  This year, my resolution is to incorporate healthier eating habits into our lives; eating whole foods, only eating desserts I make at home, etc.  I’ll follow the Whole 30 (well, the Whole 21 for me.  I don’t want to be on that when I have my big girls weekend in January…), take a break, and then hop back on.  We’ll see how it goes.  Baby steps.

I’m so looking forward to 2017!!  Now, I get the fun job of writing out my detailed plans.  Squeee!