I have been homeschooling for over 20 years! Things have changed since I started with my oldest son, but it still remains dear to my heart. We are a Christian homeschooling family and began our journey in homeschooling with my eldest son, Nick, and never looked back! He went on to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy and is now going to be 27 years old. Where did the time go?
We have had two more children graduate our homeschool high school and now we only 😉 homeschool our remaining six kids. The children are in 11th, 9th, 8th, 6th, and two kids are in 4th. To get a look into what we do, I have listed our curricula below. We have some kids that school comes easily to, and some that it is quite challenging for. I love that I can take the time needed for each child’s ability. We start everyday with Bible reading and prayers, and then each child has assignments for their particular grade.
11th Grader’s Curricula:
American Literature – Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Tan Book
Math – Saxon 7/6
Handwriting – Italic Book G
4th Grader’s Additional Curricula:
Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Orange Book
Math – Saxon 5/4
Handwriting – Italic Book F
Explode the Code Books
The older girls are able to do their coursework on their own with some assistance from me. I LOVE Teaching Textbooks for math because it is automatically graded, which leaves less grading for me. My kids love it too and do well with it. I find teaching the Easy Peasy History, Music, and Art classes to all the younger kids at once to work very well and is more enjoyable for all. Of course, I require more from the 8th grader than I do the 4th graders. 🙂
We do lots of other things that are part of our school. The kids spend a lot of time outside. We enjoy our little homestead, hunt, fish, hike, cook together, sew, garden, raise chickens, etc. In fact, we call my daughter Celia the chicken whisperer. She is often seen outside singing to her chickens. They sit on her shoulder and on her arm while she talks and sings to them. Their favorite song is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
What do you do in your homeschool? What curricula have you found to be especially helpful? Please share int he comments below.
We grow a LOT of kale and collard greens in our garden so I am always looking for a new recipe to try. If a recipe can be cooked in a slow cooker then I love it. Well, below is a slow cooker recipe I found on facebook from DIY Natural for greens that you can start earlier in the day and it is ready at dinner time. You can freeze the leftovers if you don’t eat it all, so that is a big plus. It is great to have vegetables frozen so you can eat them in the winter when your garden is done producing.
6 – 8 cups of greens, stems removed & chopped (we use collard greens & kale)
1 small onion, chopped
2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups of bone broth, stock, or water
ham hock or several slices of cooked, chopped bacon
2 – 3 tablespoons of butter
2 – 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (we omit this)
2 – 3 teaspoons sea salt
pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to your slow cooker. Cook on low heat for about 6 hours. Turn off heat and adjust seasonings and vinegar to taste. If using ham hock, remove it from slow cooker, pull off meat and stir meat into greens. Serve warm as a side dish and refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
We tried these greens last night with dinner and they tasted great! We don’t like the vinegar flavor, so next time we will omit this ingredient. We did not have any leftovers, even the kids liked them. I am going to make more for the purpose of freezing for later in the year. Greens are very beneficial to your health. They detox, are loaded with antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory, and support cardiovascular & digestive health. If you have never tried greens this would be a great recipe to start with.
So try some slow cooker greens for a healthy side dish that is quick and easy to make. Your family will love them!
Last year when my tomatoes were FINALLY ripe, I decided to make a ton of tomato sauce with them. The most time consuming thing was to peel the tomatoes. You have to dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for 3 minutes, then in ice water for 3 minutes. Then you have to wait until they cool and hand peel them. Then you can start to make your sauce. I found this very time consuming and I did not like timing all these batches of tomatoes.
What’s a busy mom to do? Find a different way to do it. So, the next time I picked 2 basketfuls of tomatoes, I decided to roast them. It takes 5 minutes of prep time, and the rest of the time the tomatoes are in the oven. WAY quicker. WAY easier. I’ve been asked to share my roasted tomato sauce recipe, so here it is:
Roasted Tomato Sauce:
Get a pan and cover the bottom with organic olive oil.
Slice the tops of the tomatoes off and place cut-side down in the pan on top of the olive oil.
Fill the spaces between the tomatoes with cloves of garlic, quarters of onions, and chopped fresh basil & oregano (I use scissors to chop).
Sprinkle everything with sea salt.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 1 hour. Let cool. When cool, pull the skins right off the tomatoes (they come off very easily).
Put everything in a blender and blend it.
No timing, no measuring, no chopping. Just quick & easy.
I fill freezer containers with 2 cups of sauce each and freeze. You could easily use baggies if you’d like. I save a bowl of sauce to try, and it is the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. Yummy! My prep time takes 5-10 minutes, and to peel and blend everything takes about 10 minutes. A lot easier than boiling, icing, peeling, chopping, and then cooking.
Even if you are super busy, this is a fast and easy way to enjoy your garden tomatoes.
Homeschooling Kindergarten can be a time of fun and learning. I have 9 kids that I have homeschooled for over 20 years and I have successfully homeschooled my eldest son into the U.S. Air Force Academy. I love each and every grade, but Kindergarten is a time full of wonder and learning like no other grade. A lot of people ask me how I homeschool, so I am sharing how I homeschool Kindergarten in our large family with you today.
I have an eclectic style of homeschooling. I pick and choose which curricula I would like, instead of purchasing an all-inclusive package that has all the subjects and everything you need. One isn’t better than the other, I just prefer to pick and choose. I also have a pretty laid back style of homeschooling Kindergarten. I feel that it should be a time of discovery and a time to develop a love for learning. We have a set schedule everyday, but that’s because I am a schedule kind of person. Homeschooling doesn’t need to happen on a schedule. I just find it easier to get the kids’ school done everyday if I am on a schedule.
I don’t do sit down, scheduled pre-school. I have found that pre-schoolers tend to learn through play. So, Kindergarten is the first time we actually sit down at a table to learn. Kindergarten is all about learning the basics. If a child hasn’t learned their alphabet, then that is what comes first. I teach them the alphabet song and then work on letter recognition. We then match lower case letters to upper case letter. In the photo above, my boys are play the Muffin Top Game from Happy Phonics that I purchased at www.LovetoLearn.net. I have one daughter who pretty much taught herself to read after a few lessons in the book, Alpha Phonics, however, the rest of my children did not learn to read so easily. Numbers are equally as important as letters, so number recognition is learned at the same time as the letters. Colors, shape, and other basic skills are usually already learned by the Kindergarten year. If not, these are best learned through play and daily conversation. A lot of kids learn to read and write before they even enter Kindergarten, and that is fine of course. I prefer to focus on their gross motor skills first, and then their fine motor skills. Life skills are taught on a daily basis when a child is homeschooled, so they need not be taught in the scheduled class time.
Basic things that children should learn in Kindergarten besides learning to read, write, and do math facts are:
Tying their shoes
How to write their full name
How to write their address
Telephone number and how to use a phone
How, why, and when to dial 9-1-1
Basic safety (fire safety, earthquake, etc.)
Basic physical education (kick ball, jumprope, walk on a beam, etc.)
How to count from 1-20 and backwards (at least)
Basic reading and writing
How to share
How to take turns
Holding a pencil correctly
Using scissors correctly
Below is a list of curricula that I like to use in Kindergarten homeschool:
Explode the Code for learning letters, sounds, and reading
Alpha Phonics – reading
Singapore Math (I use this in Kindergarten only)
Saxon Math, which I use through Middle School
Apologia Science (this is actually for the older kids, but the Kindergarteners listen and do some of the activities)
Christian Liberty Press books for history, beginning science
Italic Handwriting Series by Getty & Dubay
Apps on my iPad for learning math facts
Apps on my iPad for spelling
Apps on my iPad for learning Geography
Large maps in the hallway (1 of the U.S.A. and 1 World)
Happy Phonics from Love To Learn
Below is our current homeschool schedule:
7:00 a.m. – Wake up and do chores while mom cooks breakfast
8:00 a.m. – Eat breakfast. Teens start lessons. Little kids run around outside if weather is good, mom exercises.
9:00 a.m. – Prayers, reciting & learning 10 Commandments, Bible Story, and 4 Chapters of Bible Reading (1 Chapter Old Testament, 1 Proverb, 1 Psalm, & 1 Chapter New Testament)
9:30 a.m. – Teens go to rooms to do school. K – 5 graders do Science & History together.
10:30 a.m. – K – 2 take turns doing math facts on iPad. Kindergarteners do their handwriting, play phonics games or go outside again. Mom sits down and does math with 4th & 5th grader. 2nd grader does Explode the Code, educational apps on iPad.
10:45 a.m. – 4th & 5th grader do their math problems, mom does math with 2nd grader, and periodically helps with phonics games for little ones.
11:00 a.m. – Kindergarteners do math & Explode the code while 2nd grader does her math problems.
11:30 a.m. – Mom starts 4th & 5th graders on their Language Arts lessons. Mom does Language Arts with 2nd grader.
Lunch at 12:30 p.m. with Daddy who is home for lunch.
Kids do keyboarding, art, other subjects after lunch on their own time while teens are finishing up their lessons. Mom works at home on her business.
Our schedule is not as hectic as it sounds. It actually flows quite well. As you can see, the kindergarteners sit for Bible reading, etc. for approximately 30 minutes. Then they sit through our science and history lessons with the older kids for an hour. They can get up and move around if they like while we are going over our science and history. Then they just take turns playing phonics games or doing educational games on the iPad until I have time to do the rest of their school. If it is really nice outside they just go play outside and do the phonics games & iPad games later in the day. At about 11:00, the kindergarteners sit down for book work in their Explode the Code and their Singapore Math. This takes about 15 minutes.
I have successfully homeschooled my eldest son through High School and then he was accepted into the Air Force Academy. So, don’t think I am too laid back in my homeschooling. The Academy has very rigorous standards and is difficult to get into. I miss my eldest son now that he is grown and gone. One of the best things about homeschooling is that I am able to spend my days with my kids. I never thought I would have the patience to homeschool, but God has given me the patience and has rewarded me with more time with my children. If you have any questions about homeschooling kindergarten, please ask them in the comments below. Also, I would love to hear your homeschooling experiences, so please share your kindergarten homeschool ideas in the comments below.
I hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day last Sunday. We enjoyed the day by going to church, grilling bratwurst, and making my husband’s favorite – homemade banana ice cream! His family has been making this recipe for at least 50 years, so it is a tried and true smooth recipe.
How to make homemade ice cream:
3 Quarts Half and Half
2 Cans Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
5 Bananas Mashed (or any fruit you want to add)
Ice (if using ice cream maker)
Rock Salt/Ice Cream Salt (if using ice cream maker)
We use an ice cream maker but you can also mix ingredients well and place in a pan, freeze at least two hours, and then scoop. (omit ice and rock salt)
Place Half and Half, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, salt, and mashed bananas in ice cream maker. Mix well.
Fill outside section of ice cream maker halfway with ice, layer some rock salt on top, then repeat ice and rock salt until full.
Turn ice cream maker on until ice cream is to desired thickness.
Father’s Day is this Sunday! Are you ready for it? Dads are notoriously difficult to get gifts for. What do you get Dad? Here’s a list of the best gift ideas for Dad on Father’s Day:
Favorite Hobby: Enjoy his favorite hobby with him! We usually take my hubby fishing because it is his favorite summertime activity. Take dad golfing, hiking, swimming, camping, bowling, boating, surfing, or whatever makes Dad smile.
Gift Certificate: If you can’t enjoy dad’s favorite hobby with him, then get him a gift certificate. Not just any gift certificate though, get one to his favorite golf shop, outdoorsman store, fishing shop, etc.
Make His Favorite Meal: The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, at least that’s what they say. So, grill dad his favorite steak for dinner or start the morning off with homemade cinnamon rolls.
Framed Funny Photo: Give dad the gift of a smile. Frame a photo of the kids goofing off or a photo of your last vacation together. A digital photo frame can let dad see lots of different photos that will show him just how special you think he is.
Picnic: Have a picnic down at the lake, at the park, or in your own backyard. You can make it fun by using downloadable printables from Lia Griffith that you can get here.
Attend Worship Service Together: We always start our Father’s Day by attending church. It helps us to remember that we are not alone and that our heavenly Father loves us.
Visit Care Center: Make cards to give to other dads who may not be blessed enough to have visitors on Father’s Day or if you don’t have a dad around to celebrate. Visit your local nursing home, veterans home, or a neighbor.
That Thing He’s Always Wanted: You know what it is. It’s that thing he researches on the internet, always looks at in the store, or wishes he had but won’t buy for himself.
Time: Most importantly, give dad the gift of your time. That is what he really wants anyway. 🙂
Write Him a Letter: In today’s digital age, hand-written letters show just how much you care. Write dad a letter telling him exactly what makes him such a great dad. Your caring words will be cherished for a lifetime.
Our kids love to make DIY lava lamps! It’s a fun thing to do during the summer when it is too hot to go outside or when we are experiences an afternoon thunderstorm. Below are the directions on how we make our lava lamp fun:
empty plastic bottle
Fill the empty plastic bottle about 2/3 with vegetable oil.
Add water to fill the bottle.
Add several drops food coloring. Each of our kids picked a different color so we knew which lava lamp belonged to each kid.
Break an Alka-Seltzer into several pieces and add each piece one at a time to the oil/water mixture.
When the tablets hit the water they will start to fizz.
Each time you add a new piece of Alka-Seltzer it will fizz more.
My boys set their lava lamps on a lighted flashlight for more lava fun. The kids really loved this and it was super simple. I hope you have fun with it!
If you have backyard chickens you know that trying to peel a fresh hard boiled eggs is, at best, difficult. Fresh eggs just don’t peel well when hard boiled. If you want to make deviled eggs and have them look nice, it is difficult. I used to just buy store bought eggs if I was bringing deviled eggs to a potluck. But, that defeats the purpose of having backyard chickens, doesn’t it?
I finally discovered how to make perfectly peeled fresh hard boiled eggs when we received an instapot as a gift last year. Steam them! The fresh eggs come out looking nice, smooth, and beautiful. If you don’t have an instapot, I highly recommend this one:
How to Make Perfectly Peeled Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs:
Put one cup of water in the bottom of your instapot.
Place fresh eggs in steamer basket in an instapot.
Make sure there is some room in-between the eggs for steam to flow through.
Close the lid and set at high pressure for 5 minutes.
It will take 5 minutes to build to pressure and then they will cook for 5 minutes.
Wait an additional 5 minutes for pressure to naturally reduce and then do a quick release. If you’d like, you can just let the pressure cooker reduce pressure without doing the quick release and the eggs will come out fine, but I prefer to do the quick release.
When pressure is completely released, place eggs in cold water to stop the cooking process BE CAREFUL! The eggs are hot! I use a hot pad to pick the eggs up and place them in a bowl of cold water.
Peel right away or wait until later. They will peel beautifully!
Here are some photos of my kids collecting eggs:
Backyard chickens are a huge blessing to our family. Eggs are a great protein and the kids love our chickens. Our daughter Celia is head chicken keeper and she loves to sing to the chickens. Their favorite song is “Happy” by Phararell Williams. 🙂
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Please consider using these when viewing the recommended products to help our family. There is no extra cost to you. Thank you, we really appreciate it!
Exploring the world outdoors is the best part of summer! Unfortunately, it can be filled with unwanted dangers – poison ivy, sunburn, bug bites, and more. One of the most disgusting dangers is ticks!
There are a wide variety of tick-borne diseases and symptoms may not appear until weeks after the bite. You may not even know that there is a tick on you or your kids. It is important to check for ticks after any time spent exploring outdoors.
Our family does a LOT of hunting and fishing so I have discovered ticks on my kids from time to time. The very first time I completely freaked out and didn’t know what to do. I called my husband and he gave me some pretty bad advice that he learned from his parents. I have since learned the best way to remove a tick and it does not include squeezing it, burning it out, or pouring anything on it. These methods can cause the tick to vomit back into the skin or release more saliva which can increase the possibility of disease transmission, can leave part of the tick embedded in the skin, or making the tick embed even deeper into the skin. YUCK!
So, the #1 item needed to have a safe summer is one (or three) of these:
We bought this three pack so that we can have one at home, one in the truck, and one in our motor home.
How to remove a tick safely:
Use tweezers or a tick removal tool to grab the tick by the head or the mouth, close to the skin. We bought this three-pack of “Ticked Off” tick remover:
Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin. Do not rock back and forth or twist.
Put the tick into a jar or a plastic bag in case you need to identify the type of tick later.
Wash your hands and the site of the bite thoroughly with soap and water.
It is important to seek medical care if:
The tick has been on the skin for more than 24 hours.
Part of the tick remain embedded in the skin.
A rash of any kind develops, especially a red-ringed bull’s eye rash or red dots on wrist and ankles.
The skin looks infected at the bite site.
There is any fever, muscle or joint ache, and/or stiff neck or back.
How to prevent tick bites:
Always check for ticks after any adventures outside on skin and hair, especially the scalp, behind ears, under the arms, and around neck.
Avoid tick infested areas.
Wear long sleeves and pants. Tuck pants into socks.
You can use insect repellent with at least 10% DEET. Our family chooses not to do this.
Place all clothes into the dryer immediately after being outside and before washing. This will kill the ticks if any are on your clothing. We always do this after a day of hunting.
Exploring outside, hunting, fishing, and hiking are all fun activities to enjoy in the summer but it is important to be safe. Tick prevention, removal, and monitoring for symptoms of tick bites are important tools to keep safe in the summer. Please use my affiliate link if you decide to check out the tick removal tool by clicking the image below. This helps our family and we really appreciate it.
Have a safe and fun summer!
The above post contains Amazon affiliate links. Please consider using these when viewing the recommended products to help our family. There is no extra cost to you. Thank you, we really appreciate it!
Everyone is so busy in today’s world. Who has time to fit in 2 hours at the gym after a hard day at work, at school, or taking care of the house and kids? When I was single I thought I would always work out 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. HA! Boy, did that change!
Let’s face it, you are BUSY! There are only so many hours in the day, so where can you find the time to get and stay fit? Well, here are 10 sneaky ways to fit exercise into your everyday life:
Have a multi-level home or office space? Run and/or walk up and down the stairs. Who needs expensive exercise equipment?
Cleaning? Pump up the music and dance while you clean.
If you watch tv, see how many push-ups you can do during a commercial. You can do this with sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc.
Do face exercises during your commute. I like Jack LaLanne’s Face-A-Tonic exercises.
We spend SO many hours in front of a computer, on our laptop, tablet, etc., why not do it on a stationery bicycle or treadmill? Get fit while checking your e-mails, typing that proposal, checking your social media, or surfing the web.
Take up a new hobby that gets you moving. There are always great classes at the local community college to try. Tai chi, yoga, etc.
Every hour run in place for 5 – 10 minutes. This is great to battle the ever-widening rear end when stuck at a desk. Get your co-workers to join you (just explain to the boss first and get his/her okay).
While on the phone do squats, leg lunges, leg raises, etc. It’ll go faster because you have someone to talk to. You can even call a friend and have a phone date to exercise while catching up with the latest news.
Walk during your lunch hour. If you pack a quick salad to eat, you can get in a good 45 minute walk during your day!
If your kids are playing outside, walk the perimeter of your yard, or better yet, join them in a game of tag. If your kids play sports, walk around the field while they are practicing.
Our bodies need exercise to stay healthy and well. We can’t all spend 2 hours at the gym, but we can all get some kind of exercise every single day. Aim for at least 4 fifteen minute spurts of exercise and you can easily get in an hour a day! I hope you enjoyed my list of 10 great ways to sneak in exercise. Please comment below and add your own ideas, I would love to hear them!