Posted in Homeschooling Corner

My Homeschool Meet and Greet

 

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Poetry tea time display

Last month I felt inspired to offer a homeschool meet and greet in my community. I wanted to give curious parents a chance to meet experienced homeschooling parents, such as myself, so they could see what homeschooling can look like, freely ask questions, learn about a local co-op, and see some of the different curriculum available. And, to be completely honest, I wanted to invite some of my dearest friends, who send their kids to public schools (as I once did mine), to meet other homeschooling parents and hopefully see that we are actually normal (certainly not super-moms).

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I printed out favorite education/homeschool quotes and posted them throughout my entryway and living room.

As soon as I came up with this idea, I mentioned it to several friends in both camps (homeschooling and public schooling) to see if there was even any interest. Everyone was in favor of the idea so that encouraged me to go for it. I then emailed two local homeschooling co-ops in my community and invited them to participate. One said no because they are full, but the other said an enthusiastic yes. 🙂

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Unit study display

I chose to make this event a two-hour open house so it would be informal and relaxed. I chose an evening on a Thursday in May for a few reasons: First, I thought May was perfect timing for the summer months, giving parents time to ponder and plan for the school year ahead. Second, I thought a weeknight would mean dads could join in after work, and also, I wanted to avoid the craziness of the weekend. I chose to host in my own home because it’s homeschooling after all. 😛

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art and music curriculum table

As I was planning this event, I brainstormed ways to bring homeschooling to life. I was already creating a beginning homeschool resource packet, but I wanted something visual to offer besides curriculum samples. That’s when I had a light-bulb moment- I would create four main displays highlighting my favorite aspects of homeschooling: poetry tea time, unit studies, morning baskets (morning time), and read alouds. I just want to mention here, that none of these are requirements for homeschooling, although there are so many benefits to reading aloud to your children! These are just awesome ideas which many families embrace at one time or another in their homeschooling.

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Morning “basket” display

I love to design displays so this did not feel like work to me. I started setting up my displays two days before the event (I could do that because I don’t have littles at home anymore). Another visual I added to the walls were photos of our homeschooling in action.

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I put together this morning treasure chest and made it a give-away.

Along with each display and table, I put out info. cards (5×7 index size) for parents to collect if they so wished. I even hole-punched them and provided binder rings to keep them together. Each info. card briefly outlined the concept displayed (such as morning baskets) or listed some popular curriculum choices to consider. In the packet, I included reasons to homeschool, common homeschool myths, Utah homeschool laws, a little blurb about dual-enrollment, and a list of homeschool blogs which I find encouraging.

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Read aloud display

I also provided refreshments and a children’s table. I covered my kitchen table with Kraft paper and set out bowls of Legos, and washable markers and crayons. This was a bit hit with kids of all ages who came along with their parents. For refreshments, I had a fruit tray, veggie tray with ranch dip, cheese and gluten-free crackers (I knew one guest eats gluten-free), and a s’mores bar (individual bowls of Golden Grahams cereal, chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, fruity marshmallows, regular marshmallows, and Teddy Grahams which could be scooped into snack cups).

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I certainly could’ve had more guests, but by my calculations, 13 showed up (five were experienced homeschooling moms) and everyone seemed happy to be there as questions were asked and answered, curriculum handled and discussed, and sad pubic school stories shared. I heard from two different moms that there is a homeschooling growth or “surge” (the exact word one used) happening in our community, and if that is true, I think it’s wonderful. I have been homeschooling my son for nine years now. I wouldn’t trade those days/years for anything. Anyway, I’m calling this event a success. 🙂

♥ Here is something I’ve learned about myself over the 26 years of my marriage- Not only do I enjoy hosting, but no matter how early I start preparing for a gathering, I end up working until the very minute it starts! It’s just the way I roll because I’m such a thorough planner and cleaner. Do you like to plan and host gatherings? How perfect does your home have to be when you have invited guests coming over? Thanks for visiting my blog! ♥

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Posted in Family Corner

Spring in the Air

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The weather has been so lovely lately. Marcus and I have been getting out in the mornings and going for a walk. Today we drove to a nearby park and discovered it has a nature trail we didn’t even know existed. That was a fun exploration. There was even a bridge over water to cross.

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My tulips have finally made an appearance along with the other flowers in my little flower garden. More are preparing to bloom soon. It just makes me happy to look out my craft room window or walk outside and see them. I keep thinking I need to get my fairy garden set up, but I haven’t made time for that yet.

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I’ve come up with this crazy idea to host a meet ‘n greet between a few homeschool moms and any curious parents who want to know more about homeschooling. I’m hoping this will take place next month. So far I’ve started typing up a little informational packet with Utah’s homeschool laws, and a short list of curriculum and resources, plus I’ve contacted two co-ops to see if they would join us and present their offerings. One declined, saying they are full, but the other agreed to participate as they will have openings. I’ve got more planning and inviting to do, but suddenly this idea out-of-nowhere seems possible.

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The Sweetest Missionary Ever has been touring Cusco and learning some of its history. I can’t believe she’s been out for 15 weeks now. She is struggling a bit with the language (Spanish), but otherwise she loves it. I’ve told her to give herself time to get the language down. I have a feeling she’s being a little too hard on herself. She’s always had an aptitude for languages and she’s lived in Peru, twice before.

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I’m busy preparing for my little girl spring craft party this coming Saturday. I will be hosting 10 darling neighbor girls in my craft room and they will be making their own tulip gardens and a Mother’s day gift for their mamas (sugar scrubs). One of the moms (of three of the girls who are in this group) has sweetly offered to provide lunch. I usually provide a lunch or dinner, depending on the time we hold our party. These parties are a lot of fun!

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My oldest daughter, Darcie, finishes her semester this week, and then starts three summer courses in a couple of weeks. One of the courses will qualify her to teach English in another country. She will then have one final semester left (this coming fall) before she graduates as an English major. She will be our second college graduate (her dad being our first) in our family.

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This was taken last May at a tulip festival. I’m dreaming of going again, but we will see. It’s a three hour drive away and we’re so busy!

My oldest son, Zach, recently went through his regular MRI check for his MS. It’s a long MRI for him, nearly two hours! I know because I waited for him and in that time I finished a book, started another, and watched some HGTV on the waiting room TV. Then he had a follow up appointment shortly afterwards with his neurologist, so it felt like I was in waiting rooms all day, but the people-watching was interesting. There was this one lanky guy who mumbled aloud as he filled out a questionnaire. He couldn’t stop moving and talking his entire wait time. He talked to me (I was sitting next to him), the receptionist, and made several quick calls to friends and, I’m guessing, his mom, to chat about horses and feeding the dogs. He seemed like a nice guy. I’m not sure why he was in for an MRI that day. He mumbled something about his condition being “terminal, but not really”. (I wonder what that means?) Anyway, everything looks good for my son at this time- no lesion activity. Breathing a sigh of relief. You just never know with MS. He will stay on his current medication (Copaxone).

♥ Thank you so much for stopping by! I try to get to all your blogs as my time allows. My next post will be about the craft party so stay tuned. Hope you’re having a beautiful spring (or whatever season it is where you live) day. ♥

Posted in Blessings Corner

Spring Ramblings

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t found time to post, and I don’t have anything earth shattering to say now, except that there are people around us- neighbors, strangers, friends, extended family, our own family members, who need us, and we never know how our influence or random acts of kindness will touch other lives for the better. It’s good to be aware of others and the trials they are going through. It’s good to pray for them and reach out to them. It’s good for our souls!

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One of my lovely flowers in my spring garden

Have you ever watched the movie, The Thrill of It All, with Doris Day and James Garner? My daughters and I love Doris Day movies, and this is one of our favorites. The suds scene… 😀

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It snowed earlier this week, and the temps were quite cool, but now we’re back to sunshine and green lawns. I feel blessed to live in this beautiful valley. I’m crazy about the mountains here, and I adore the little farms scattered about.

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We were happy to hear that our sweet missionary received her first care package from us. We were very pleased with the private delivery service we discovered because the mail system is often unreliable in Peru.

For those who read my last post, I enjoyed my first county convention, even though it lasted four hours. We have several candidates running for U.S. Senate, to fill a seat which will soon be vacated. It was interesting to listen to their three-minute speeches giving us an idea of their values and stances. I’ve also seen some progress with treating my KP, and if anyone is interested in hearing about that, leave a comment below. I’m just glad something is finally working!

♥ Are there any other Doris Day fans out there? If so, what is your favorite Doris Day movie? ♥

Posted in Family Corner

One Spring Day (an update on my life)

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It seems as though this valley I call home is still waking up from winter. There are a few signs of spring, but most are only visible when you look up close.

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Almost every day I check my tulip/crocus bed for new developments. I just need to be patient a little longer!

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My first wreath I’ve ever made. I like how it turned out.

I am enjoying warmer weather here this week. The sun is hiding today, but the skies are blue and the grass lush and green.

I am wondering if any of my readers have experienced KP (keratosis pilaris) and if so, what products and/or diet recommendations work for you? I’d appreciate any advice! Mine is on my face so it’s particularly bothersome to me. It showed up last fall and has plagued me ever since. I went completely off dairy for most of March, but didn’t notice any difference. That was disappointing, but I’m still proud of my efforts.

Here is another question for my readers- Have any of you ever been a county delegate? I was voted in as a county delegate and my first convention to attend is this Saturday evening. I’d love any advice! I feel like the little packet of info. given me was not very informative. I guess I’ll roll with it on Saturday and go from there. I think I’ll be meeting potential candidates for state senate and our state school board. Should be interesting.

I’ve been babysitting a lot for a friend in my neighborhood and church. I work with her four-year old son at church, as well. He has some special needs and I am his one-on-one teacher. It’s a lot of fun and I think watching him at home once or twice a week has increased his progress with me. Plus, his little sister is adorable! She loves to watercolor at my house.

Last night, my husband and I supported our son, who is 15, by attending a service auction fundraising dinner. The youth in our ward (church congregation) were raising money to pay for camps and other activities. I got a little carried away on the bidding! I ended up with three heaping plates of brownies (they were all one bid; I gave two plates away in the parking lot), an expensive plate of chocolate covered strawberries ($35), one jug of fresh apple cider, five dog walks, and window washing for our entire house. All, but the window washing was on a silent auction. I just couldn’t put my paddle down bidding for the window washing! I have to say though, the strawberries are delicious!

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Here Marissa is with her companion and a little boy named, Miguel, with a Cusco village in the background

Here is a recent snapshot of my missionary daughter in Cusco. She has been out for three months now (her mission is for eighteen months). She told me that when Peruvians hear her singing in English, they ask her to continue. They will also ask her to translate songs on the radio that are in English. She sometimes volunteers in a pizzeria and bakery. You can read more of her mission adventures at Our Inspired Quest.

♥  I just counted and we have 49 windows. Thanks for spending some time visiting my blog today. ♥

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.).
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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.
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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.

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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 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. ♥