Posted in Joy

My Fairy Gardens

So far, this is a cool and wet spring here in northern Utah. With all the rain, some occasional snow showers, and a couple of hail storms, I’ve only managed to get outside to weed my tulip bed and set up my fairy gardens on my front porch for my craft girls to enjoy when they visit.

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Lil Lil told me she’s spring cleaning her cottage and guest cottage.

In fact, my SURF Club (Sweet, Unique, aRtsy Friends) is in the middle of a combined project this month. Each girl is contributing their creativity to two fairy gardens which our club will give to two grandmothers in our community. So far, each girl has made cards and painted rocks. This week, each girl will add her handprint to the outside of each fairy garden pot. I’ll post the final results when we are finished next week.

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You’ve probably noticed my blogging has slowed down. I am busy living life! My husband and I have decided to sell our house and in preparation for that, the kids and I have been decluttering, room by room. We have been donating or selling items we no longer need/want and packing other items in boxes and containers and moving them to a storage unit. It’s very time consuming. It feels great to declutter and simplify our lives. So many times in our moving around we have lived simplistically and it’s so freeing. Our material possessions really can tie us down.

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Sparkleberry has a wishing well in her backyard.

Our plan is to sell this house and buy an RV to live in for a year or so. I’ve always wanted to road-school (even though living in Peru and Canada has given us some world-school opportunities) and this is my last chance. I don’t blog much about our homeschooling now because there’s not much to show and tell in these high school years. Marcus owns his education and he’s very responsible. He loves the freedom homeschooling gives him. For me, it’s so nice to have him home and I love our morning time driving to and from Seminary (that is a youth scripture study class he attends in person) because we listen to audio books. We just finished Journey to the Fringe by Kelli Swofford Nielsen. If you are looking for an adventure and fantasy novel, this is a great one.

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Dew Drop takes care of the fairy playground and treehouse. She also feeds Halle.

My long term plan is to buy some land, build a house we can pay off quickly, and I have a dream to start my own craft class/party business. I’ve really enjoyed crafting with my SURF Club. We’ve literally created some wonderful memories together. 🙂

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Clover’s garden attracts birds and critters. 

♥ I do hope we get some sun here soon! How is spring shaping up for you? Do you have some fairies living in your gardens? Thanks so much for stopping by! ♥

 

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Posted in Snippet Corner

Snippets of My Life- Hygge Style

Greetings from Montana where it is still cold, but not as cold as it has been. Today it’s a whopping 20 degrees! As I mentioned in my last post, Marcus and I are here visiting my husband this month, and through the first week of March. We are definitely living the minimalist lifestyle here, which I love, and for me it feels like I’m on vacation, although in a hermit sort of way.

Here is the afternoon view from the front door

A blogging and homeschooling friend introduced me to a new word which could describe my cozy, relaxed life here: Hygge. I have no idea how to pronounce it, haha, but according to dictionary.com it means, and I quote:

Candles, comfy socks and a throw, good company, maybe a little wine or cocoa … gotta cultivate that hygge.
Hygge is a Danish cultural concept and value of warm, happy coziness and togetherness, which people make time for in everyday life. Outside of Denmark, hygge is commonly referred to as “the good feeling you get from a well-curated, cozy, and aesthetically pleasing environment.

Minus the wine, because I don’t drink alcohol, it’s pretty accurate. I sip hot cocoa every morning and hang out in yoga pants and fuzzy socks all. day. long. I even have an electric throw blanket. If the weather was warmer, Marcus and I would be taking walks in the neighborhood, but it’s just too cold to venture outside. We’ve become hygge hermits. 🙂

I start each morning with this devotional journal. A sweet friend gave it to me for Christmas. I’ve never used a journal like this before and I’m enjoying every page. I start out by looking up, and listening to the worship song or hymn at the top of the page. I’ve recognized a few of the songs, but most are new to me so that’s fun.

I am also in the middle of two Bible studies. One is a year study called, Come Follow Me. It’s a beautiful New Testament curriculum by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The artwork is stunning. Besides my own study throughout the week, as a family we have a Skype study session every Sunday after everyone’s home from church. 🙂

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Stained glass window in Nauvoo Illinois Temple, by Tom Holdman
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Sermon on the Mount, by Jorge Cocco

The second Bible study is an eight week study I’m doing with my friend, Audria. It’s called Altogether Beautiful. I am at the end of the third week, ready to start the fourth week. I’m enjoying this study as well.

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I watched Marcus’ English class with him this morning. He is reading Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and today his teacher showed some clips from the play. I enjoy watching/listening to his history and English classes. In history today he was learning about the Red Scare. This school year is going smoothly for us. We are thinking of shaking it up next year by road schooling. I’d love to hear any reader’s tips for full time RV living, especially with a teenager. This is something we are seriously exploring at this time.

This hygge life gives me lots of time for reading and binge watching. One show we’ve recently discovered on Netflix (I have a like-hate relationship with Netflix, but my son pays for the subscription so we use it moderately) is called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I’m getting some handy tips for decluttering my home when I return next month. ♥ We just finished watching the miniseries, John Adams. This is considered fairly historically accurate. We’ve owned it for years, but never watched it ’til now. Go figure. I think John Adams sacrificed, as did his family, a lot for this country. I’d like to get to know more about other founding fathers. I have one book waiting to be read about George Washington. ♥ I’ve just begun reading a huge book about education in Colonial America. It’s going to take me forever to read, haha.

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Marcus bought me this fun 3-D beach art from Hobby Lobby, for Valentine’s Day. 

♥  I hope all is well with you. Is it snowy and cold where you live? I can’t wait for spring! Let me know a snippet from your life. ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner, My 52 Stories

My First Homeschool Conference

I’m not sure why I didn’t write about this much sooner, but it is still relevant and I hope it might help a homeschooling mama considering whether or not to attend a similar conference. In all of my nine-plus years of homeschooling, I had never attended a homeschool conference until September of last year (2017). I just never took the opportunity until then, but I had always wondered what they were like. Now I know!

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This conference took place at The Factory in Franklin, Tennessee.

This was a Wild + Free conference. I had never heard of Wild + Free before I signed up for this event. My lovely friend, Audria, told me about it and before I knew it we had each booked our tickets, months in advance. I definitely recommend going to something like this with a friend. It makes the whole experience sweeter, plus you can figure things out together. 🙂

The location for this conference was a lot of fun, and it was my first visit to Tennessee so that was exciting, but what I want to focus on is the experience itself: There were dynamic speakers and talented musical performances. The focus was on building one another up. There were hundreds of other homeschooling mamas, from all backgrounds, in attendance. Honestly, it was thrilling to be there because I felt a part of something bigger than myself. I realized that I am not alone on this journey, and that was my biggest take-away.

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The speakers tackled a variety of parenting, family, and homeschooling topics. Some were addressed to the entire group while others took place in what I’d call “workshops” which we chose to attend in smaller groups. Each was motivational, yet realistic. By that I mean that the speakers were down-to-earth and relatable. There was also musical performances which were upbeat and energizing. I came away feeling encouraged and supported in my homeschooling. And that is why I’m glad I seized an opportunity to attend a homeschool conference.

♥ If you homeschool, have you attended a homeschool conference? I’d love to hear about it! Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum & Schedule


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September is here and for us that means the start of a new homeschool year. We follow the traditional school calendar (September thru May) because of the awesome distance program we use for Marcus’ core subjects.

This school year got off to stressful start because of driver’s ed. Sigh. To avoid dual-enrollment, I put Marcus in a seven-night driver’s ed. course which began last week and just ended last night. It’s a shame he couldn’t have taken the only other summer course which was in June, but that coincided with a youth camp. Honestly, if I’d known it would be this time consuming with the four-hour classes from 5:30 to 9:30pm, and the hours of homework assigned for each class (he basically rewrote the driver’s handbook), I would’ve made him trade his summer camp for driver’s ed. And, he’s still not finished because he has all the driving-with-instructor time to get in. One is scheduled for this afternoon for four hours, another for next Thursday, and then two more need to be scheduled after that.

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The book on the left is for history; the rest are for our own unit study. He’s studying Doctrine & Covenants this year in Seminary.

So, up ’til last night his schedule looked like this-

  • 6:40am wake up, get dressed
  • 7:10am leave for Seminary (20 min. drive + traffic)
  • 7:40-8:30am Seminary (this is a four-year scripture study program for youth)
  • 9:00am breakfast, set up for class
  • 9:30ish-am online American History II (1860-present; live-streamed)
  • 10:25ish-am online Earth Science (live-streamed)
  • 11:25ish-am online English (live-streamed)
  • 12:25ish-pm online precalculus (live-streamed)
  • 1:30pm lunch
  • 2pm-5pm driver’s ed homework (at least two solid hours worth); math or chores as time allows or sometimes we snuck in a quick devotion/scripture study; quick dinner
  • 5:15pm leave for driver’s ed
  • 5:30-9:30pm driver’s ed class (carpool home)
  • 10pm second dinner because he was hungry, even with snacks at driver’s ed
  • 10:30pm shower, brush teeth, get to bed
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English books: The Bronze Bow; The Hiding Place; The Screwtape Letters; The Merchant of Venice. His grammar comes from The Good and the Beautiful.

Driver’s ed. made us feel sorry for the public high school kids taking it. We know two girls in band, and band practice is after school for an hour and a half and then they had driver’s ed for four hours. These girls were at the school from 8:30am to 9:30pm! We were wondering when in the world they found time to do their driver’s ed homework? Or just breathe? We are so glad we homeschool. One morning we skipped Seminary for some much needed extra sleep. We can do that when we need to and to make up the absence, Marcus completes a worksheet the teacher emails him.

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Math book.

I don’t have any science books to show because all the resources will be provided by the teacher.

Aside from the time and stress of driver’s ed, which I realize is both necessary and temporary, we are excited for this homeschool year. Even though I don’t personally teach Marcus’ core subjects, we still make time to do other types of learning together, and I read all of his novels for English with him. But on our own this year we plan to make time for:

  • an early Church history unit study
  • a unit study about C.S. Lewis, including much of his poetry
  • fieldtrips to museums
  • hiking, biking, nature walks
  • art lessons
  • poetry tea time
  • meal planning and dinner prep
  • finishing six merit badges and his Eagle project
  • visiting his dad in Montana at least once a month

♥ Are you homeschooling a teenager this year? Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog today. Are you seeing signs of fall where you live? Here, not so much. Not yet. ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

What is “Real School”?

Marcus and Mom

Marcus and I have just begun our tenth year homeschooling together. 🙂 This week he started a driver’s ed. night course through the public high school. He’s been carpooling with three other teens from our neighborhood. He is the only homeschooler in the group, and maybe the only homeschooler in the driver’s ed. class. One teen in the carpool made it a point to tell Marcus that he does not go to “real school” and that prompted my son to write an informal essay which I’d like to share here-

Something I hear all the time, and something every homeschooler will hear, is that we don’t go to “real school.” This is always annoying to hear so I decided to really figure out what “real school” truly means, and if anyone is actually using this phrase correctly. I have gathered some resources to break down the phrase “real school.”

Let’s define what real means. I am going to use Dictionary.com for these definitions. Under the word real it lists the word genuine. Upon going to the word genuine we find definitions and synonyms such as “origin; not counterfeit; authentic.” Upon delving deeper into the word origin one of the definitions is “something from which anything arises or is derived; source; fountainhead.” In other words something which is real could be anything coming from an original source.

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Cell cake

Let’s define what school means: “A session of such a course” or “the activity or process of learning under instruction” or “a building housing a school.” Sounds like normal public school, right? It’s interesting to think about how parents do teach their children many basics, and that home can be a building, but we will explore this later.

Let’s combine the words real and school together: The origin of process of learning under instruction. And for a bit of a history lesson: Everyone should know that learning has always begun in the home. Since the creation of Adam and Eve, and before public and private schools existed, everything was taught within the family and community. Before private schools, a scholar or teacher was hired to teach a very small group of children.

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Elephant toothpaste experiment

In Thomas S. Monson’s talk Teach the Children, from the October 1997 General Conference, he talks about “parents and grandparents fill(ing) the role of teacher.” Although Monson is talking more about the gospel in the home, this principle of parents teaching in the home can be applied in any and every way.

As for the definition of school as a school house, a home is and has always been a place of learning, and a home can be housed in a building. Home is always where family is and in an article called Home: the Heart of Learning, from an October 2014 Liahona magazine, it says, “All of the Church’s ‘teaching, programs, and activities’ [are] home centered and Church supported. That means our church meetings are meant to support individual and family learning.” Most things in the Church are meant to support learning in the home and not replace it. Of course, home is not the only place we can learn. We can learn anywhere, even outside. I’m not saying public and private schools are bad or wrong, but I do believe there is a better way to do them. I would like to see schools follow the example of the Church and be more home centered.

When someone tells homeschoolers that they do not go to “real school” it implies that homeschooling is fake. But upon looking at the definitions applied here it could actually imply that public school as the “real school” is actually derived from and in fact a counterfeit version of homeschool.

I just finished reading the book Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto. As I was pondering “real school” something he said stood out to me: “What’s gotten in the way of education in the United States is a theory of social engineering that says there is one right way to proceed with growing up.” Homeschoolers like us know better and we are proving it first hand. ♥

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! ♥

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. ♥