Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling the High School Years (Bonus- Using a Distance Program)

This post will complete my series, Homeschooling the High School Years. As in any years with homeschooling, every family’s methods and experiences will differ because every family is unique. I have mentioned that we use an online distance program for most of my son’s courses. I wanted to further explain how this works for us. Even though our distance program has some unique features compared to others out there, I’m sure the general idea and the pros and cons are pretty much the same for homeschoolers who high school this way.

The distance program we use is through a private Latter-day Saint based school called, Liahona Preparatory Academy. We love this program for the following reasons:

  • Our faith is woven into each course. God is welcome and our values and beliefs are embraced and taught. Each teacher is also LDS so our values and beliefs match theirs, and that is important to us because we strive to live our beliefs every day.
  • There is no Common Core, which I am fully against, and no state testing.
  • There is an accredited track, which includes a transcript for college. This makes my job a lot easier as they take care of the transcript for me.
  • They prepare students for the ACT test.
  • It’s homeschool-friendly. By that I mean it’s flexible by offering options to work for each family. Also, there are no classes on Fridays, and there are no worries if we take time off for a vacation or just-because day (there’s no attendance, etc.)
  • Homeschoolers are welcome to visit the school, and attend school events, such as prom and super trips (super trips are summer trips to historical sites, etc.).
The best part is learning in the comfort of home.

In a nutshell, Liahona offers four high school courses online- English, science, history, and math (there are choices for the math and the other subjects are in a four-year rotation). These classes are actual academy classes which are filmed and streamed LIVE. Students simply log onto a streaming site to watch their classes.

If the student watches live, they have the option to instant-message their teacher throughout class. The teachers are great about answering homeschoolers’ questions and comments on camera. This helps the homeschooled student feel a part of the class. Teachers may also be reached through e-mail.

If the actual class time is inconvenient for the homeschooler, they simply watch these classes recorded, anytime of their choosing. Assignments are submitted through a sharing platform site or by email.

Accredited students take a proctored exam for each class, per semester (so twice a year).

I won’t go into the details here, but there are options for homeschoolers who wish to add additional credits to their transcripts, and to earn a state high school diploma (Utah, in this case).

PROS to using a distance program:

  • Someone else does the planning and teaching for subjects the parent may feel are beyond them. For me, this is math, science and history. I do miss teaching  English, but I still proofread his essays, read his Shakespeare with him, and reinforce what he’s learning.
  • The student gains experience with other teachers. Good preparation for college.
  • The student gains experience with online learning.
  • The student learns how to manage their own education. I’m not saying homeschoolers don’t do this if they are using another method, but in our case, each of my homeschooled teens have taken the reigns of their distance education.
  • If the program is accredited, it looks great on a high school transcript.
On the Freedom Trail (part of a Liahona super trip), in front of Paul Revere’s midnight ride.

CONS to using a distance program:

  • The curriculum is chosen by the program and there is little parent involvement. This is the flip side of #1 from the other list. I admit, I have struggled with this one. On the other hand, I actually love Liahona’s history and English curriculum, and I still teach my son life skills such as cooking, money management and good work ethic.
  • There is a set calendar, which could be similar to a typical public high school year. For example, Liahona films classes for 32 weeks, beginning in September and ending in May. These classes are Monday through Thursday, with breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring.
  • It could feel like “school at home”. In our case, this is a program offered through a private school so there are public school aspects, such as block time subjects, teachers lecturing while students take notes, etc.
  • There is little person-to-person interaction. Liahona does a good job including homeschoolers in activities such as youth conference, which is held every fall. (Youth conference is a type of camp, featuring uplifting speakers and workshops.) Marcus has also met his distance teachers in person.
  • It could be heavy on the online/screen time. This is the case for us, but we balance it out in various ways. For example, my son does have one class outside our home with peers both public schooled and homeschooled.

♥ Overall, we are very happy with our distance program. Does your homeschooled teen use a distance program? If so, I’d love to hear about it. If you have any questions for me, ask away! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog. Have a wonderful day. ♥

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.

Madsen -313 8x10

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.


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.”

2012 053

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 Photography Corner

Idaho Prairie Houses


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


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.


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?


This one has definitely seen better days!


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.


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 Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling the High School Years (Part 2- The Benefits)

Welcome to part two 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.

♥ We have several years experience with public schools (within the U.S. & Canada), private schools (within the U.S. & Peru), and homeschooling. My oldest son graduated from a public high school. My oldest daughter spent one year in public high school and then was homeschooled the rest of her high school years. My youngest daughter was homeschooled all the way through her high school years. All three have gone on to further their educations through universities. ♥ I am currently homeschooling my youngest son for his high school years, and we love our days together. ♥

So, why do we homeschool through the high school years? Here are our top ten reasons:

10. Because we’ve made it this far so why not take it to the finish line? Plus, I’ve seen high school life today. No, thank you!

9. Because learning can be family-style. Bonus- People of all backgrounds and ages attend college together!

8. Because when I was in high school, I was like a walking zombie! I functioned on very little sleep (Thank you, Mr. Homework) and high stress. I always felt as if I was clueless to something important going on at school. I ate poorly and burned out half-way through the year.

7. Because I believe teenagers need their parents’ love and influence more than ever. These are confusing years for them.


6. Because home is where love abounds, where morals and values are instilled, and where a teen feels automatic acceptance and security. In other words, home is a natural and nurturing environment, conducive to learning. Bonus- pajama days and hot breakfasts.

5. Because my teen is one-of-a-kind and deserves an education that fits him. Bonus- college life is also tailor-made!

It looks like they raked the last of the snow to make this snow-bear, haha.

4. Because teenagers are still kids, and kids need time to play, daydream, create, and read for fun. Bonus- impromptu snow days!

3. Because it’s so freeing to be on our own time schedule and calendar. Bonus- this actually helps teenagers prepare for college life!

2. Because having a confident teen who values being a child of God over popularity, is priceless. Bonus- God gets to be a part of his school days.

1. Because my time with my teen is too precious to settle for the tired bits left over after each long school day, punctuated by hours of homework. Bonus- I get to share in his school days, even when I am not directly involved.

On a quick, serious note, the things my oldest two experienced at their public high school constantly tested their moral character. While they remained strong in our values, they admitted it wore them down physically and mentally to be exposed to that kind of worldly environment every single day. It was so much nicer to keep my youngest daughter away from all that and watch her flourish at home.

♥ Have you homeschooled or are you homeschooling your teen through their high school years? What would you add to this list? Thanks for reading. ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling the High School Years (Part 1- A Day in the Life)

Welcome to part one 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.

♥ I have four children; three are now young adults in their twenties. Our experiences with their K-12 years include public schools, private schools, and homeschooling, within the United States, Canada, and Peru. My oldest son was never homeschooled. My two daughters were homeschooled through their middle and high school years, and my youngest son has been steadily homeschooled since he was 6-years old. ♥ Now that you have some background on us, let’s begin with what homeschooling high school looks like at our house. Homeschoolers often call this a “day in the life”:


Our Mondays through Thursdays are pretty much the same, and I’ll admit, a little dull to document! However, having my son home during his school day is priceless to me:

6:50am- I drag myself out of bed (I am not a morning person!) to take Marcus to his Seminary class, which is from 7:40 to 8:30am. We leave the house by 7:10 and drive to an LDS meetinghouse two towns over. Seminary, by the way, is a rewarding four-year in-depth scripture study program (awesome training for our missionaries) for youth in grades 9-12 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Marcus is following the footsteps of his dad, his mom and his three older siblings, who are all Seminary graduates.

789873      Cragbridge_Book1_Final

♥ To make the most of our car time together, we listen to audio books. Today we finished the Rush Revere adventure series. We have thoroughly enjoyed these books, which are both entertaining and educational. We highly recommend them! It’s kind of sad to say goodbye to Liberty and his friends, but we are excited to start a new series tomorrow- Cragbridge Hall.

9:00am– We arrive home. Marcus eats breakfast and then he has some time to finish up math work from the day before or read for history or English. If he’s caught up, he reads for fun. He also has daily chores to do, such as taking out garbage and recycling. I use this time to do a workout in my gym.

10:30am– Marcus’ first online class, science, begins. After science, he watches his math class, and after math, he watches his history class. These classes are filmed and streamed live, through an LDS-based private school, Liahona Preparatory Academy. We love, love, love Liahona! I will explain these online classes further in part three of this series.

1:15pm– The three online classes end so Marcus goes downstairs to the gym for a workout. He is currently working on his personal fitness merit badge for Boy Scouts.

2:00pm- Marcus has finished his workout and makes him some lunch. We usually eat lunch together, but we don’t always eat the same foods for lunch. Today I’m having left-overs from dinner last night, while Marcus is having mini corndogs.

2:30pm- Marcus has one more online class to watch, which is English. He can’t watch English live because it’s on at the same time as math. To be honest, he doesn’t always ideally watch English every day (I wish he would!) so we sometimes end up having an English marathon together, where he and I watch previous English classes in a row until he’s caught up. That is actually fun for me. I like to watch English with him so I feel a part of his education, and I often check off that he’s accomplished any assignments given. I have watched history and science with him as well, and I’ve even taken my own notes!


♥ That concludes the formal part of his school day. The rest of our day is the normal stuff- some housework, occasional errands, maybe a science experiment, mixed in with some goofing off and downtime, all leading up to dinner which we try to eat as a family between 5 and 6pm. On Tuesday nights, Marcus has a youth activity at church. We end our nights with family scripture study and prayer, and Marcus and I read-aloud together. We just finished the second book of the trilogy, Nightmares! which we both enjoy.

♥ I have two of my adult kids living at home. One is a full time student at the state university, with a part time job at a retail store. The other works full time at an ice cream factory. He works graveyard, which means he usually sleeps during the day. So, they are both in and out, and it’s a lot of fun for Marcus to have these older siblings around. His sister, Marissa, is currently serving a mission in Peru. She’s been out three weeks now and is doing great.

David, Darcie, Marissa, Marcus, Camie, and Zach

Our Fridays are a pretty free as there are no online classes (Liahona is a Monday thru Thursday school), but there is Seminary. So, we go to Seminary and then we come home and tackle whatever needs to get done. We were using Fridays as a nature club day, but we quit nature club in November because we were the only mother-teen duo and we felt completely out of place among all the cute younger families. But, a couple Fridays ago, Marcus went skiing with some friends, while I babysat two adorable littles.

♥ I just want to end by noting that although these three series I’ve mentioned are targeted for middle schoolers, we think they work for most ages, including 15-year olds and adults! To see other books we have read-aloud, check out this series of posts. Thank you for your likes and comments. Let me know if you have any questions about homeschooling through the high school years. ♥

Posted in Family Corner

Welcome 2018 (Sending My Missionary Off)

On Tuesday morning, dark and early (haha), we drove the two hours to the airport, listening to Piano Guys the whole way while the kids slept in the car. It was drizzling rain. As soon as we walked into terminal 2, we saw at least three sets of families, encircled about their young missionaries. We knew they were missionaries, even though they didn’t have their name tags yet (they receive those in the MTC), because they were all young men or women, dressed in their Sunday best and their moms were weepy. And we were in the Salt Lake airport where LDS missionaries fly in and out all the time. (It’s fun to watch the reunions- welcome home posters, cameras out, lots of hugging and laughter.)


After checking in her suitcases, we gave Marissa our last hugs for eighteen months. Darcie, her big sister, and I, became emotional at that point. We then watched her go through security, losing sight of her from time to time as she wove back and forth. She’s such a tiny person. Finally, we couldn’t see her any longer and had to assume she’d made it through. On the way home, we stopped at IHOP for breakfast. It was a good morning for Red Velvet pancakes. Marissa then phoned us from the airport, using a calling card, and told us she had met three more sister missionaries, also going to Peru. That was very comforting to know.


She sent me a brief e-mail today letting me know she’d made it and was safe. She told me she directed the other missionaries through the Atlanta airport, which she was familiar with, thanks to all our travels by plane. She also was the only one who expected the humidity of Lima. She said the MTC (missionary training center) was “nice” and that she might get lost. I wonder how big it is? She will be there learning Spanish and being trained in all-things-missionary for the next six to eight weeks. Her p-days (preparation days) are Wednesdays so that will be the day each week when she can write me and others. The sweet thing about being a missionary mom is that we take priority. So if she only has time for one e-mail, I get it! Also, missionaries are only allowed to phone home on Mother’s Day and Christmas Day.

♥ On Monday night, Marissa was set apart by our stake president, with her dad and her big brother in the Priesthood circle. She was given a beautiful blessing and the spirit was so strong in our home. I have a testimony of missionary work and of this gospel. I know my baby girl is going to bless many lives in the next eighteen months as she serves the Lord full time. Thanks for reading! ♥

Posted in Family Corner

Welcome 2018 (Christmas Recap & A Missionary Farewell)


I hope each and every one of my readers enjoyed a beautiful Christmas. On the 22nd, my family and I spent the evening on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. We ate dinner at The Roof (a fabulous restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith building), walked around Temple Square to see the lights and nativities, and then we ended the night at a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert, which was spectacular. My mother and her husband joined us for the night as that was our Christmas gift to them.


Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent at home, with Grandma joining us (my husband’s mom). The day after Christmas, a very special package arrived from my dearest friend, Audria. She spoiled us! My favorite gift from her was a little teapot and teacup set. She even sent a sweet gift to my daughter for her mission. Such a thoughtful and amazing friend; I feel so blessed. For the rest of the week, we were busy preparing our home for Marissa’s mission farewell. We send her off to Peru next week!

DSC00047 (2)
Kevin, Marissa, Kristine & Kelsey (I snapped their photo in our theater room just before we watched the movie, RED)

Her farewell was on New Year’s Eve Day. She gave a delightful talk in our Sacrament meeting and afterwards, friends, extended family, and neighbors joined us in our home for an open house. We offered a baked potato bar and a variety of desserts which everyone seemed to enjoy. I took a picture of Marissa with each family who came out to support her and plan to send them a copy with a thank you card. One of our favorite group of guests were our long-time friends, Kevin and Kristine, and their daughter, Kelsey (they also have two sons who could not make it). We’ve known this family for twenty years now and have stayed in touch as we’ve moved around. We have even vacationed together. It was so much fun to spend the day with them, celebrating Marissa’s choice to serve the Lord on a mission for our church, and ringing in the New Year together.

♥ On this first day of January, 2018, I have a nasty head cold. Bah! Besides sneezing a few times yesterday, I felt pretty good throughout our festivities for Marissa, so at least it waited a day to hit me full on. Marcus was sweet enough to heat me up some broth to sip and I’ve been resting up as I edit the photos from Christmas and Marissa’s farewell. This week should be pretty relaxed, focused on helping Marissa finish up her packing and enjoying our last week together before she embarks on what I hope will be an amazing adventure for her. I wish all of my readers a Happy New Year. ♥