Posted in Faith Corner

The Sweetest Missionary Ever (First Experiences in the Mission Field)

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My missionary has been out for 8 weeks now. She spent the first 6 weeks in the MTC (missionary training center) in Lima, Peru. Now, she’s in her first area of her mission, in Cusco, Peru. Doesn’t she look happy? She reports to us once a week, via email. Despite having some health issues, due to the changes in bacteria, food, and altitude (Cusco’s elevation is approx. 11,000 feet), she is always positive and claims she is right where she belongs. She loves her companions- her companion now is from Bolivia and doesn’t speak a lick of English, so they are teaching each other. Her Spanish is coming along well. She struggled with it in the MTC, but now she has a lot of confidence speaking it.

She shared one missionary story I’d like to post here in her own words-

The other day we got a reference from a member. The member came with us as we went to the store and talked to them. It was this woman and her mother. We gave the older woman a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation. Explained what it was, talked about it, and all that. Then we asked her to say the closing prayer and taught her how to pray. I have gotten good at teaching others how to pray. She started to pray and then started crying. She was holding the pamphlet to her as though it was the most precious thing in the world. She came to church with us and I was so happy that the members welcomed her. She was so happy!!! This is why I am here, it’s hard and difficult but so heartwarming and uplifting!

♥ Thanks for reading! If you’d like to read more about Marissa’s mission and see more photos, pop over to the blog I set up for her. ♥

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Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling the High School Years (Part 5- Student & Parent Advice)

Welcome to part five of a five part series focusing on our experiences homeschooling through the high school years. This series will tackle what high school learning looks like at our house, the benefits of homeschooling the high school years, the curriculum we use (plus activities outside the home), how we prepare for college, and our advice for both the child and the parent.

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When I first started homeschooling my son, he was only 6-years old. Now that he is 15, I look back on those early years and I’m so glad I didn’t treat them the public school way, which is advancing children from grade to grade with a pre-determined set of skills. I’m so glad I let my son have many “school years” full of carefree days, where he learned primarily through play and exploration. We had so much fun together! We spent a lot of time outside on nature walks, observing frogs in their natural habitat, riding bikes, meeting up with friends at parks, etc. We created our own unit studies based on whatever my son was interested in, and we read a lot of fun storybooks together.

No matter where you’re at in your homeschooling journey- the early years, the high school years, or somewhere in between, find enjoyable activities to do together with your child, often.

It’s the time we spend together with our children, at any age, that matters most. Now that Marcus has started his high school years, I’m no longer a part of his formal schooling because his distance teachers have taken that over (so that his classes are accredited), except for offering him encouragement and direction as needed. So, our time together is extra meaningful to me. We continue our bike rides, hikes, and read-alouds, and have added more cooking/baking time, and a lot of discussions.

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One of the reasons we homeschool the high school years, is so our teens can still have a childhood. I know high school life today, and in my humble opinion, it’s crazy busy, high-pressured, and high-stress. A lot of teens play competitive sports. Other teens take college courses to get a jump start on their future, and that’s great, but it’s also a LOT to take on. I’ve seen teens burn out and I’ve seen teens grow up faster than might be healthy for them.

It’s important that teenagers have TIME. They need time that is their own- to relax, to play, to daydream, to create, to sleep, to read for pleasure (not for English class), to be with family, to be with friends… 

Now, for the fun part! I asked Marcus, to give some advice to other teens who might be homeschooled through their high school years:

“First, it is good to realize that school is not the only place to make friends. I have met too many kids who do not want to homeschool just because they think they will never see their friends or never make friends. There are other ways you can make friends- In Canada, I met some really good friends at a park. I have also made friends at church. And if you think you will never see your friends if you aren’t at school, you’re probably not very good friends; just meet up somewhere. It’s not like you really have a ton of time to do whatever you want at school anyways.

When homeschooling, it can be really easy to learn things fast. So, if you want, you can push yourself to go farther faster.

Eat lots of Doritos.

Sleeping in is more fun than public school.”

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I’m going to paraphrase what my daughter, Darcie, now in her early twenties (and in her last year of university as an English major) advises to homeschooled teens:

Don’t pay any attention when other teens say you are “weird” just because you are homeschooled. The truth is, we are all a little weird, whether we are homeschooled or public schooled, and there is nothing wrong with being weird anyway! I liked being homeschooled because I could be myself. My true friends, who were all public schooled, accepted me just the way I was, and when I started homeschooling, I saw them just as much because we made time for each other. They knew I was happier spending my last two years of high school at home. I didn’t miss public high school one bit! I didn’t miss the homework. I didn’t miss the profanity. I didn’t miss the drug solicitations. I didn’t miss the popularity contests. I didn’t miss the lock-downs. So, if you think you are missing out, on prom or anything else, just remember all the things you are not missing.

♥ I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, but it’s not over just yet! Stay tuned for a bonus post where I explain more about the distance program we use and the pros and cons of homeschooling that way. If your teen is homeschooled, I’d love to hear their advice for other homeschooled teens, and as a homeschooling parent, what advice would you give to other homeschooling parents? ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling the High School Years (Part 4- Preparing for College)

Welcome to part four of a five part series focusing on our experiences homeschooling through the high school years. This series will tackle what high school learning looks like at our house, the benefits of homeschooling the high school years, the curriculum we use (plus activities outside the home), how we prepare for college, and our advice for both the child and the parent.

When we first started homeschooling, my husband’s main concern was how our kids would earn high school diplomas so they could get into college. We have since graduated three kids from high school- one the traditional public school route, one the homeschooling route with a state issued diploma, and one the homeschooling route without a state diploma. All three got into the universities of their choice. My daughter, who graduated as a homeschooler (no state diploma), met her university’s requirements for homeschool applicants. In her case, she submitted 18 accredited credits ( I believe only 15 were required) and her ACT scores. She was not required to take a GED.

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Once we let go of the idea that a diploma was necessary to get into college, my daughter was able to have more of a childhood during her teen years.

We have absolutely no experience with scholarships so I don’t have any advice to share in that regard. We did search out scholarships and we tried to apply for financial aid, but everything was denied to us based on my husband’s salary. So, in the end, we paid for tuition ourselves and lowered our costs a bit by having one daughter live at home and attend the state university and having our other two kids attend church universities (BYU). Their part time jobs have covered the cost of books and other incidentals, and my son was able to pay his own apartment rent. We do hope that our youngest son can earn a scholarship if we do some things differently, but that’s a post for another day.

However, what I can share with you is that a state high school diploma is not necessary to get into college, and taking that pressure off of my youngest daughter was the best choice for her. I believe our teens need responsibility for sure, but I also believe we put too much pressure on them. They are still kids! Here in Utah, we have one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the nation. Isn’t that sad and scary?

 

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Marissa spent part of her high school years in Peru, and Darcie took a year off between graduating high school and starting college to volunteer at an orphanage in Lima.

I also have no experience creating a high school transcript, and that is because the online private school we use, Liahona Preparatory Academy, does that for us. I think I’ll include a bonus post in this series to further explain Liahona’s distance program.

Having three children with college experience, I know the basic skills I taught them at home have come in handy. These skills include: time management, organization, balance of work and play, frugality, proper cleaning (dishes, bathrooms, floors, laundry), money management, and basic cooking. I know I wasn’t taught most of these skills at school so I’m glad my kids have had more time at home to learn these by parent example and teaching.

♥ My girls felt well prepared for college life as homeschoolers. For example, they had already been managing their own time schedules quite well. Unlike public high school, college classes are not neatly held back to back, and in one long block of time. Every college student has their own unique class schedule, and most classes are held two or three times a week instead of every day. Classes are held anywhere from early morning hours to evening hours. Mondays usually look very different from Tuesdays. Etc. Also, they were used to being around people of all ages and backgrounds. They always found it funny when people would suggest that college would be this huge adjustment for a homeschooler, when the reality is that college life doesn’t resemble public high school much at all! ♥ Thanks for reading! ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling the High School Years (Part 3- Curriculum & Activities)

Welcome to part three of a five part series focusing on our experiences homeschooling through the high school years. This series will tackle what high school learning looks like at our house, the benefits of homeschooling the high school years, the curriculum we use (plus activities outside the home), how we prepare for college, and our advice for both the child and the parent.

♥ In our homeschool, we use online classes for the base subjects of English, history, science and math. These courses are offered through an amazing private school here in Utah, Liahona Preparatory Academy. Liahona has been a true blessing to our family. I’m not going to explain how Liahona works here, but I wanted to mention it because when you follow someone else’s program, the curriculum is usually chosen for you, and that is the case in our situation.

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English/Language Arts curriculum- This year, Marcus has read and studied The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis; Homer’s Odyssey; Shakespeare’s King Henry IV Part 1; and he will end the year with A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle . In past years, my daughters have read and studied Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte; Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury; Stone Mage Wars, Journey to the Fringe, by Kellie Swofford Nielson, and various Shakespeare works, just to name a few. ♥ There is also a grammar book Liahona uses, which is their own, but this upcoming fall, we will be using a special curriculum designed by Jenny Phillips. I am excited for that!

History curriculum- Liahona publishes their own history curriculum so there isn’t much to share here. However, on our own, Marcus and I have thoroughly enjoyed the Rush Revere Adventure series, on audiobook, and I would classify these as historic fiction. Even though this series is geared for younger grades, we feel we’ve learned a lot in an entertaining way.

Science curriculum- This year, Marcus is studying Biology and using the Holt Biology 2008 Student Edition, which we purchased through Amazon. However, his teacher doesn’t have him read much of this textbook. Instead she uses it as a reference while she teaches with videos, slides, experiments, and discussions.

Math curriculum- We’ve been using Saxon math.

♥ Marcus also takes a Seminary class which is a scripture study program through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This year, he is studying The Book of Mormon, which is one of our books of scripture. In future years, he will study The Old Testament and The New Testament in depth.

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♥ What I love about homeschooling these years is that there is more time for my teen to read for pleasure and for us to continue our read-alouds which is cherished time together. Currently, Marcus is reading the Tennis Shoes Adventure Series, by Chris Heimerdinger. Together, we are reading the third book of Jason Segel’s Nightmares! series and listening to The Inventor’s Secret, by Chad Morris, on audiobook.

♥ As for activities outside our home, Marcus participates in Boy Scouts through our church and he is on his way to earning his Eagle later this year. He participates in the Young Men’s program in our church as well, and has a youth activity with boys and girls his age once a week. He’s been skiing with friends this winter, though not as often as last year due to a lot less snow this year.

♥ Stay tuned for part four of this series when I will share how we prepare for college. Thanks for reading! ♥

 

Posted in Movie Corner

Peter Rabbit (Movie Review)

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I was so excited to see this movie, having grown up with the wonderful stories of Beatrix Potter. My sons, ages 25 and 15, accompanied me, and we were all laughing aloud all the way through. I found this movie to be highly entertaining, fast-paced, funny for both kids and adults alike, and simply delightful. It was family friendly and well done.

Peter Rabbit teams up with his sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, and their cousin, Benjamin Bunny, to give Mr. McGregor plenty of high jinks to combat as they battle over the McGregor garden. What I loved was the addition of McGregor’s neighbor, Bea. You can guess who she represents. There were also appearances made by other story book characters such as Mr. Jeremy Fisher and Mrs. Tiggy Winkle.

The only negative I can see about this movie is the “food allergy scene”. This was a fighting scene where the rabbits launched a blackberry into McGregor’s mouth, knowing he is allergic. He then has a reaction and has to give himself a shot. I can understand why some parents are unhappy with this scene. If I had younger children I would use this as a point of discussion.

On another note, though a bit related, I have never seen the movie, Miss Potter. If any of my readers have seen it, I’d love to hear what you thought of that movie.

♥ Now I want to pull out my Beatrix Potter books and read them to Marcus. I am sheepish to admit he did not grow up on them quite as much, although I know I’ve read him my well-worn copy of, Ginger and Pickles, which is my favorite Beatrix Potter story. What is your favorite? ♥

Posted in Photography Corner

Idaho Prairie Houses

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We took a drive into Idaho yesterday and came across these two relics. 🙂

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We were able to get out and walk through an open gate, onto the tall prairie grass for a close up look at each one.

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As I put this post together, I watched the opening ceremonies for the winter Olympics. I thought it was a spectacular, touching show. Who else will be watching these Olympics? Who else loves the figure skating?

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This one has definitely seen better days!

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Hello, Marcus! As he looked in one side, and I looked in the other, we could see the remnants of a stove and a metal bed frame.

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It was Zach’s birthday this week. He shares my love for nature and photography. On this day he was outside with his camera. And a cane. It’s been nearly two years since he was diagnosed with MS, in his early twenties. He’s just experienced his third relapse which has affected his walking and balance. I admire him so much for his inner strength and his positive attitude. He reminds me to find joy in every single day.

♥ I wish all of my readers a joy filled week ahead. Thanks for stopping by. If you’re watching the Olympics with me, comment below on your favorite winter sport. ♥

Posted in Places We Visit, Utah Corner

Our Visit to Hardware Ranch to See the Elk

Last Saturday we visited Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, located in northern Utah up Blacksmith Fork Canyon. It’s the tail end of elk season there and this has been on my bucket list since December.

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This is the view of the meadow from the parking lot. The weather was mild which was nice, and as you can see, there is very little snow here this winter.

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And this is the view from the meadow, looking up to the visitor center on the hill there.

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The visitor center has restrooms and is the only place where tickets can be purchased for the wagon rides through the elk. Tickets cost $5 for ages 9 and up, $3 per child ages 4-8 (3 and under is free).

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The wagons seat quite a few guests and several were running on the day we visited. If there had been snow on the ground, it would have been a wagon-sleigh ride, which we’ve been on before. Our ride was approx. 40 minutes long with lengthy stops for Q&A and photo ops.

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These are Rocky Mountain Elk and there are approx. 350 in the meadow this year. That is at least half of what there were last year and it’s always a guess as to how many will return each year because these elk come and go as they please. They will leave for the summer months, retreating back into the mountains.

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We sat at the back of the wagon, on both sides. Either way, there are great views. (This is Zach, my eldest.)

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You probably know that a male is called a bull, a female a cow, a baby a calf, and a yearling a spike. We were told that only 60% of calves make it to their first year.

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♥ Have you ever visited an elk ranch? ♥