Wednesday, August 28, 2013



I lie right in between thriving with a set and organized schedule and loving room for a little spontaneous freedom.

While I can't say that any two days in our homeschool follow the exact same schedule, here's a little peek into our day/week as I hope for it to look. 

This schedule is what I plan for in the coming weeks, once we've introduced all our subjects.

Early Morning

I am working hard to become more of a morning person. I like to wake up before the kids, shower, read my Bible, enjoy a cup of coffee and the quiet. I'm working on adding exercise to that time too, but I'm not there just yet.

Our kiddos come downstairs around 7 am. Then it's breakfast, get dressed, make beds, tidy rooms, chores, etc.

Then I allow a bit of time for some morning play...and I can get a few details squared away for the day.


I like to start our school day around 9 am.

We begin with a devotion, prayer, and singing.

Next up is handwriting exercises/instruction, followed by our grammar lesson.

While they're still fresh, we focus on phonics/reading and spelling; my oldest two do their lesson together with me and then read independently while I work with Madeleine, and vice versa.

Morning Recess

They play for 20 minutes outside in the backyard...they around...Monday they caught frogs and built frog habitats. I use this time to do laundry or dishes or pay bills or finish putting on my makeup!

Afterwards, we come back inside for math.

Math is followed by History or Bible, alternating days for new activities, reading books, and instruction, but reviewing the timelines used in both courses every day.


I let the kids play, inside or out, while I make lunches. We eat together and clean up.


After lunch, two days a week, we do our science lesson together.

Every day in the afternoon, we read together. I rotate between each child's read-aloud reading list. I ask questions to aid in comprehension, and when applicable, we work on projects related to the book we're reading. This is one of my favorite parts of the day.

Quiet Time

Each afternoon (unless we have afternoon activities that take us away from the house) we have a one-hour quiet time, usually between 2 and 4 pm. This came into being when my children cycled out of taking naps. I find this to be an important part of the day...I need time alone and the kids need time alone. They can play quietly, read, draw, build with Legos, rest, etc.

As they get older, I think this time will also find them working more on independent reading and projects...but for now they mostly enjoy time being creative.

During quiet time, I try to use the time to do something that I enjoy...I talk to a friend or family member, work on blogging, scrapbook, read. I almost always have a cup of tea.

After quiet time, we pick up from the day and relax. This week, the kids have been working on some very detailed paint by number sets we bought at Hobby Lobby.  We play outside. Get ready for dinner. We plan time for the kiddos to read aloud to us sometime before bedtime.

Fridays tend to be test days, if our weeks have been normal. This makes for a slightly shorter day and Fridays will be the days when we add in art and music studies to our week.

Once again, this is my goal. In all honesty, there are days when I switch subjects around, based on how everyone is doing. There are days when we really get bogged down trying to understand a math lesson or get excited about finishing a great History book and therefore use more of our time than planned. That happens. We make up for it the next day.

There are days when someone gets sick or we have unexpected company or dentist appointments. Field trips come up. That's life, and we roll with it.

So that's our schedule for this year! I am excited about the year...and what it will bring!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School

Yesterday, we began our fifth year of homeschooling.

grades: 4th, Kindergarten, 2nd

It's hard to believe that my kindergartener today was just shy of turning one when my firstborn became a kindergartener.

I thought I'd share a bit this week about what homeschool looks like in our home. Today, I'll share what curricula is working for us this year.

Math: Math-U-See

We are using levels Alpha, Beta, & Gamma this year. What I love about Math-U-See (in addition to the videos that help explain concepts to me & to the kids) is that it emphasizes mastery before moving on. It gave me freedom (and permission!) to go at the pace my children need. Sometimes we spend a few weeks on a lesson if the concept is one that is proving difficult to grasp. Sometimes (ahem, Madeleine) we fly through the whole week's lessons in a few minutes. And sometimes we're right on track.

I also plan on using these books this year, as they were recommended to me by a math specialist last year for more hands-on math concepts.

Language Arts: Rod and Staff

After trying Shurley English and First Language Lessons in the past, this year I decided to go back to a more "traditional" textbook-style grammar program. A good friend of mine has found these to be very beneficial for her kids. We will see.  I think that this type of approach will be great for both my visual and auditory learners. 

We also use a few different things for handwriting, which we work on daily. Hadleigh will be using cursive this year.

We skipped ahead last year to the first part of American History while we lived near Washington DC. So this year, I'm going back to the second year of VP's history course. I love the timeline cards and the source materials and literature that is a part of the course. We will pick up history after Labor Day weekend.

We also like to listen to The Story of the World CD's that coordinate with what we're learning.

Literature: Veritas Press--Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 4th grade

We have Kindergarten through 4th Grade literature/reading books from Veritas Press. I'm excited about some of the titles for Hadleigh this year. The younger kids listen along to those we read aloud. I alternate our read alouds for their ages (they all enjoy listening to everyone else's books).

Our children LOVE listening to books on CD. We will continue to pick up titles for them to listen to, in the car and in their rooms while they play, color, etc.

This program has been a game-changer for us. I began with Veritas Press Phonics Museum from the first. I loved the program but found it just wasn't working for my oldest. Enter All About Spelling, which reinforces reading concepts at the same time as spelling.  This program is multi sensory , which helps so much when you have children whose learning styles differ. I recommend this to all my friends who have a child who is a struggling reader. The lessons are scripted but engaging for the teacher as well.

All About Reading became available just in time for Madeleine, and while she has pretty much taught herself to read, we're still going through the program to help solidify those skills. 

Science: Answers in Genesis: God's Design for Science

I really like this program. It's four courses designed for grades 1-8, to be taught twice during that time. Each lesson has two sections, one geared towards younger learners (the first cycle) and another for older learners (the second cycle). This is also helpful if you have a wide range of ages. This year we will be doing God's Design for Life, focusing on plants, animals, and the human body.

Veritas Press also has a timeline for Biblical events. We have done a few different things in the last year or two, so we're going back to the second set of Bible timeline cards this year which they aim towards 3rd grade. We're also using God's Names by Sally Michael for a devotional study in the mornings.

In addition, the kids will participate in a local co-op taking elective type classes, including PE, science experiments, art, crafts, etc. We are looking to find a piano teacher, so they can begin playing.

I will also be doing some art and music studies through the year...but still working out what I want to use. I'll update when I know more!

One last thing that I think is important to note: 

There are so many great curriculum choices out there now for homeschoolers. But just remember, every family is different. Every child is different. What works for me, may not be the best fit for you. I've even learned that I have to alter some things to better fit each of my own children's unique style of learning. Other homeschoolers are a valuable source of information about what they've used...but make sure to focus on your own family's strengths, weaknesses, learning (and teaching!) styles as you consider what to use in your homeschool.

Let me know if you have questions about any of these and feel free to share what you enjoy using!

I'll be back tomorrow with what a typical school day/week looks like in our home.

Monday, August 26, 2013

StitchFix No. 4

Another StitchFix delivery, and this one is probably my best one yet. I received this one towards the end of July.

This one made me excited from the moment I opened it. 

What could be cuter than opening a box and having a stack of pretty things creatively tied in a bow with the sash of a skirt?!?!? And there was a great variety of fabrics, colors, and pattern.

This time, all the items were under $50. Again, I feel like my stylist Jen is really figuring out what I like, what I'm comfortable with, and what might be worth the risk. 

I kept two things this time...can you guess which ones?

Renee C Kristy Striped Fine Gauge Sweater in pink This light sweater (perfect for summer and into fall) is really more peachy pink than I'm used to wearing. I loved the way the sweater fit...quite flattering...I loved the soft, light fabric...I love the diagonal stripes. It definitely needs a cami underneath, but still quite cool because of the fabric. I had seen this online in a mint color...and would have kept it in mint...but the coral was just so-so with my skin tone. I have requested it in mint for the future, if possible.

Renee C Robinson Maxi Skirt in navy This maxi skirt has the softest fabric in a beautiful shade of navy. In the picture above, it appears more of a blueberry color...but it is a nice basic navy. It fits comfortably...and I had told Jen I was looking for a navy skirt. Perfect. I kept it and have worn it  several times already. I love long skirts.

Aryeh Celia Flower Print Cotton Skirt I knew I wanted to keep this from the moment I saw that bow. :) Thankfully, it fits well, hits just at the knee...and my girls always ask to see me twirl. It is fully lined and quite comfortable to wear. My only con is that the bow is made to tie in the center...and I prefer off center, which means one end of the bow is significantly longer...and hangs past the end of the skirt. But I love it and make it work!

41Hawthorn Gum Drops Necklace I loved the matte gold of this necklace and the light pink shade of the beads. The quality of this necklace is really nice. I wasn't quite sure if I liked the shape of the beads, though...they kind of reminded me of teeth. I ended up sending this one back...but I did waver on it.

Very J Greer Crochet Racerback Tank  I wasn't sure how I would feel about the crocheted detail of the fabric...but the quality and beauty surprised me. I loved the color and the fit from the front...but I've never been a fan of racerbacks and the back of this was kinda blah for me. It comes with a tank to layer underneath, which is nice. If this had been a normal tank, I'd have kept it. But I sent it back.

For the first time, this shipment arrived past the date when I had scheduled it, but customer service mentioned that they were holding off shipping to ensure they could include a maxi skirt I had mentioned I was looking for. And I ended up keeping that it's nice to know that they are definitely keeping my interests in mind, not just shipping out clothes randomly.

If this is all new to you, here's how it works:

1. You sign up (via an invitation link) online, and once your account is created, you complete your style profile. This part is's kind of like a quiz. You fill out size, fit, and style preferences, as well as a price range you prefer to shop within. You can also link to a Pinterest board, so the stylists can get a good sense of your style. 

(screenshot of a portion of the style profile)

2. There is a wait time currently involved...but between signing up at the end of February and getting approved, I only waited 11 days. 

3. Once you're approved and your style profile is complete, you schedule when you'd like to receive your first order or "fix." A StitchFix stylist handpicks items for you based on your profile; the fee for this service is $20...but you can apply the full $20 towards your purchase.

4. The package ships USPS and include 5 items. When your StitchFix box arrives, you get to try on clothes in the comfort of your own home...and with pieces from your own wardrobe.  This is one of my favorite features of the company. 

5. Within three days, choose what you love and then send back the rest, using the prepaid Priority envelope enclosed. Go online to StitchFix and checkout. You complete a survey for checkout, which further defines your profile and gives good feedback to the stylist for next time. You pay only for what you keep...and if you keep all items sent, you get 25% off the total purchase. 

6. Then, choose to schedule your next StitchFix shipment as frequently or infrequently as you like! I love that you can leave a note for your stylist about an event or season you want kept in mind when selecting items!

Also, StitchFix now offers gift certificates, so if you've been wanting to try, maybe request a gift certificate for your birthday or Christmas. I love that they offer this now!

Finally, this is not a sponsored post. I am receiving no compensation for this review from StitchFix. However, much like other online retailers (like ZulilyOne Kings LaneSole Society, etc.), StitchFix promotes their brand through referral links. So if you sign up through the links I've given here, I earn a one-time credit with StitchFix if you sign up and purchase. (And once you sign up, if you share your referral code with your friends, YOU earn credit! Win-win!)

I've earned some credit through some of THANK YOU! Let me about your StitchFix experience!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pinterest Friday: Chalkboard Inspiration

Chalkboards are nothing new when it comes to trends lately. 

And maybe it's the fact that we begin homeschool on Monday...but lately I've been drawn to chalkboard projects, trying to figure out a way to incorporate some into our decor in this rental home.

Here's some of my chalkboard inspiration lately from my boards at Pinterest.

We already have a hanging map in our homeschool area, but I think this one looks like a lot of fun!

I love the idea of one banner that is customizable through chalk!

 This could be a fun project around Christmas to give as gifts!

I love the look of a chalkboard wall in kitchens.

Aged and pretty outside.

 I think I want a print of this one.

Just so cute. And with that table underneath! (Or are those old risers?!?!)

For children's artwork and photos in a hallway.

Great use of space and I always need the reminder of equivalents!

I was SO tempted by these at One Kings Lane recently. Tea + Chalkart is perfection.

I don't have the wall space for this (except in areas where I wouldn't want it to be) but I think this is so fun!

I love a framed chalkboard over a vignette. Need to find a spot for something similar.

How about you? Do you have a chalkboard DIY project that you've loved? Do you have a chalkboard wall with children...a good or frustrating thing? I'd love to hear about them in the comments...and link if you have a picture!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

For the weekend...

A few things from this week...

~ In the same week, my baby five year old lost her first tooth AND her sweet kissy-cheeks began to thin out a little bit. I honestly admit that tears were shed.

~ I loved reading "This post is for the brave ones" by Kat over at Simple Mom. It encouraged me to "start now" in several areas of life. (And I love the story about her son. Totally going to use the superhero vs. villain with Nathanael.)

~ I'm really excited about Creatively Made Home's new workshop "Home for the Holidays", which I discovered while reading at Life in Grace earlier this week. Excited about the lineup of contributors and the variety of styles they have!  You might remember that I took the Creatively Made Home workshop last fall...and really enjoyed it. Lots of great stuff at Jeanne Oliver's site!

Registration I believe begins on Monday and the course begins in October...plenty of time to get some fresh inspiration for decorating and gift giving this year! I'm looking forward to decorating our new home this year, and I'm sure this course will be full of creative ideas to implement! You can read all about the course here: Home for the Holidays.

~ I pinned this recipe for Cookie Dough Cake from Pastry Affair. And I'm really looking forward to making it. I'm intrigued, and as I love cake, cookie dough, and cookies...I think this one is worth trying out! I'll let you know.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Another Photo a Day

Happy Friday! Not only is it the end of the week...we are halfway through August!?!?! I really have no idea where the months of 2013 are going...but they are going quickly.

I had been thinking all spring that I wanted to do another photo-a-month sometime this summer. I followed along with one in August of 2011 and came up with my own in July of 2012

This year, I decided on August. I had planned on making my own list of photo prompts again, but a later move-in than expected plus a last-minute long trip to the beach helped me decide to just follow along again.  

So this month, via instagram, I've been playing along with The Idea Room. Here are the photo prompts for this month:

And here are my photos from the first half:

1. Borrowing my mom's hat since I left mine at home.
2. Our family in the ocean. (Wish I'd noticed Hadleigh was wearing her goggles!)

3. The water of the beautiful Atlantic.
4. My favorite earbuds made technology more comfortable. (I have a hard time finding ones that fit well!)

5. Clean laundry upon returning from vacation.
6. My B&W typewriter...more conveniently located in this house!

7. Missing my brother, who is far away in South Korea.
8. Outdoors in our backyard. I love this corner...

  9. A favorite room in our new home. I love the wall color and lighting of our dining room.
10. These three keep us entertained, for sure!

11. I love standing on the hardwood floors of this house.
12. A peek into my stationery drawer, full of pretty notecards and paper.

13. This corner of my desk makes me smile.
14. My culinary torch is a most useful kitchen tool when you love creme brûlée!

15. My colorful collection of seam binding, from Paper Crown in Oklahoma City. I miss that store!
16. The kids schoolwork will start on the 26th. Mine has already started, as I gather, organize, and continue to plan! (Hadleigh is SO excited about a pink math book. I hope that lasts!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Caprese Pizza

Growing up in my family, Friday night was Family Pizza and a Movie night. We would order pizza (the thicker the crust, the better) and settle in for a movie and time together.

A few Christmases ago, Brent received Peter Reinhart's American Pie, which chronicles his search for the perfect pizza and includes many of his recipes. 

With that gift, I gained a personal pizza chef! We now enjoy small thin crusted pizzas, with fresh and unique flavor combinations. We have several favorites from the cookbook...and also like to try our hand at creating our own.

Brent usually uses this recipe for the pizza dough (also found in the cookbook) and from there, our options are endless!

Last weekend, I set out to reinterpret one of my favorite summer dishes, Caprese Salad, on a pizza. And while probably not completely unique or was delicious!

Caprese Pizza

mozzarella di bufala, sliced in about 1/2 inch thick rounds
1-2 campari tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch thick rounds
7-8 medium sized basil leaves, torn
1/2 tsp olive oil
balsamic glaze (I use Monari Federzoni Glaze with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena but you could make your own too!)
1-2 tsp good-quality aged Parmesan cheese, grated
semolina flour for dusting

1. Prepare pizza dough according to your favorite recipe.

2. Preheat oven to 550 degrees.

3. On a pizza peel, place a square of parchment paper and sprinkle it lightly with semolina flour. Place prepared pizza dough on the parchment.

4. Gently drizzle olive oil over dough and spread with the back of a spoon or pastry brush.

5. Place mozzarella discs evenly on top of dough, followed by tomato slices. Scatter half of the basil leaves on top and then drizzle with balsamic glaze.

6. Bake pizza for about 8 minutes, until cheese has melted and pizza crust has browned.

7. Allow pizza to cool slightly and then top with remaining basil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Back from the Beach

We arrived home on Sunday after 11 lovely days at the beach.

It was a perfectly paced, relaxing, and refreshing vacation after moving and unpacking.

The South Carolina weather for the end of July/beginning of August was surprisingly mild...and so enjoyable.

Fishing, hunting for little crabs, bicycle rides, hours in the pool, searching for shells, chocolate smoothies, rainbows ending in the oceans, exploring parts of Charleston, eating shrimp and grits, talking with my mom late into the night, ice cream cones, evening nature walks, crafts for rainy afternoons, sleeping in a little later.

I'm sad our vacation is over...but I'm feeling refreshed about this next season. Lots on my mental list as we prepare to start back to homeschool in another couple weeks, as well as continue to settle in to life here in Georgia.

Speaking of Georgia...our county started back to school on August 1! So tell me, are you still enjoying summer vacation or is it back to school for you too?

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