Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

T is for Travel Tips to pass the Time July 30, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras,Getting Organized — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:23 pm

We still have a long vacation coming up in August.    As a friend said recently, “We’ve taken ‘trips’ before but this is going to be a vacation!”   We’ll be spending two weeks away from home traveling to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone, and Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park (plus a stop at Grandma’s house on the way home).  We’ll be doing some tent camping, as well as a few nights staying in cabins.  It should be quite the adventure.   And it involves 40 or so odd hours of driving!

Needless to say, I’m trying to be very well prepared for our time in the car so that we aren’t tempted to have the kids zone out to waaaay too many DVDs.  Sure, we’ll probably watch a few movies.  But I think we’d like to keep it to one long movie or a couple shorter shows per driving day (We have four 8-9 hour driving days, plus one 5-6 hour driving day planned for our trip).

So this list is as much for me to organize my ideas as it is to share a few ideas with readers. 🙂

1.  Audio books:  Miss M has enjoyed audio books for several years (though she hasn’t listened to many recently), but in the past the boys never really wanted to listen.   We tried a short, fun audio book on a trip to Chicago earlier this summer, and everyone really enjoyed it!  I’m requesting several audio books on CD from the library for our trip.  Some are long, some are short. That seems like a pretty easy way for us to do it in the car, but our library also offers downloadable audio book loans as well, and there are many great free audio books available for download at

2, Individual “Snack Packs”:  On short trips we just play “toss the snack” to the back row and hope it doesn’t spill or fall on the floor.  But a long trip calls for a different solution.  I have seen some super cute “snack box” ideas on Pinterest, but we keep it simple around here.   Each kid gets a brown paper lunch bag, and I fill it with snack size baggies or other individual snack items.   Hungry kids can help themselves and perhaps the adult not driving can even sleep for a bit without being interrupted by “I’m hungry” (maybe).

3.  Personalized coloring/activity books:  Before the trip I’ll ask my kids what kinds of coloring pages they are in the mood for, and I’ll print some out from the vast reaches of the internet.  Are We There YetThe kids also like mazes, and Miss M might be up for some other printables like crossword puzzles or word searches.   I saw the idea on a blog (but I can’t remember where) of including maps of each section of the trip to give kids an idea of where you’ll be driving each day.  I’ll bind my kids “coloring books” with a pro-click spine, but binders work too (that’s what I did before I had the proclick).

4. Printable games to play:  I’ve found some great travel game printables on Pinterest.  I already have a few games printed and laminated from previous trips, and I’ll probably try and print out a few more before our upcoming vacation.  These will get packed in a large baggie or three hole punched and stuck in a binder, along with dry erase markers.  We could try some travel-size non-printable games…but I’m not sure my kids would do well not losing pieces at this point!

5,  Games to play all together: We’ve discovered our kids love to play “20 Questions” (though we rarely manage to actually keep track of how many questions have been asked).  Other favorites include I Spy, The Alphabet Game (find signs or items that start with/contain each letter), and a “Continued Story” where each person adds a sentence to a story told out loud.  We’ll also pack a few Mad Libs books or similar printable fill-in-the-blank stories

6. Cut down on “Are We There Yet”?:  This is going to be a new area of effort for us.  Since this trip involves a lot more driving than usual, we’ll need to help the kids not ask that question that all parents dread hearing.  😉  We might use a combination of something to mark the passing of time (like a road trip countdown or a piece of tape with sections marked off for each hour of the trip) and maybe some kind of “prize” for the kid that asks that question least often!

7.  Pack a few “crafty things” to keep the kids busy: I love the ideas in this post at 123homeschool4me.   From cereal lacing necklaces to foil creations to beads on pipe cleaners, there are so many little things you could pack away to use on a trip.   This will take a bit more effort and planning on my part, but hopefully I could pull at least a few ideas like this together.

8.  Have “something new” up my sleeve:   I’m sure my kids aren’t the only ones that can find something new highly entertaining.  We got a couple gift cards for Christmas (one for a book store and one for a toy store) that I’ve been saving for a special occasion. I think this is it!  I’ll surprise the kids each with one or two new “nice” things for the trip (books or a travel toy)…plus maybe some dollar store junk too.  😉



Those are most of my great ideas for what to do while we are in motion in the car.  Do you have any more ideas I should add to my list?



I’m linking up with Blogging through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me!

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Mission to the City 2013 July 29, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 2:58 pm
Tags: , ,

Our church has been organizing a “local mission trip” called Mission to the City for 15 years. This was our second year in a row participating in a family-oriented three-day version of this “trip”, last Thursday through Saturday.

Going overseas with small children for a mission trip is often not very practical, but serving and reaching out in our community with kids along is very possible!


Mission to the City 2013

About 80 people participated this year, including children old enough to engage in the projects we were doing (there’s not a set minimum age — it’s at the discretion of the parents).   We participated with our two older kids (Miss M — age 9 and Mr E — age 6), while Mr. K (age 4) spent a few days at Grandma’s house and Mr. J (age 1.5) spent time with a series of babysitters and occasionally joined us when no babysitting was available.

Our large group was broken down into smaller teams to accomplish various projects.  Here’s a sampling of what we did each day:

Day 1 (top row of collage):  In the morning, our team of several families weeded and did other landscaping work at the home of a single mother in our church.   In the afternoon, we promoted a carnival we would be helping organize on Day 2 at a neighborhood Boys and Girls club.   Thursday night we volunteered at a local event called “Picnic in the Park” some families (including ours) helped with carnival games, while other families served food or sold tickets.

Day 2 (middle row):  We started out day 2 polishing plaques that honor ever soldier from our county who died during WWI!  That’s 568 plaques, but we could only get about half done in the time allotted (we had done the other half last year).  In the afternoon we ran a carnival at the Boys and Girls club, including games and serving food.

That night we did something really unique called the “Holy Spirit Experience.”    We were paired up with one other family to go out for an hour and a half (with a budget of $20) to do whatever we felt the Spirit was leading us to do.  Our group went on a prayer walk and then blessed a few strangers by buying them ice cream at the Dairy Queen (kind of the “pay it forward” drive through sort of thing…but at a walk-up window).  Other teams handed out ice cream to firefighters and police officers, bought snacks or ice cream for random strangers, or bought flowers for someone who was in need of encouragement.  One team even helped someone pay for a tow truck after a fender bender.  Everyone spent a lot of time praying.  It was super encouraging to come back at the end and hear everyone’s stories.

Day 3 (bottom row): On the third and final day, our team was once again doing landscaping work — this time at the home of a 92 year old widow in our church.  It was awesome to not only bless her by clearing out a weedy area, but also to sit and talk with her and listen to her stories!  Our afternoon plans to hand out free water at a lake (while some others were to volunteer at yet another carnival) were rained out.  So we cleaned and did projects at our church building instead.  We wrapped up MTTC 2013 with a cultural dinner — we ate authentic Ethiopian food and learned about Africa from two ladies who have come to the US (one from Nigeria and one from Uganda) in the past few years.

We were thrilled to have this opportunity again this year to expose our children to service and missions opportunities right here in our own city, and to have the opportunity to serve along side them!




A trip to the Oliver H. Kelley Historic Farm July 28, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras,History — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:03 pm

This past week we spent a few hours at the Oliver H. Kelley farm near Elk River, Minnesota:



Oliver H. Kelley Farm

This Minnesota Historical Society site is a working 1860s farm.  Costumed farmers dress as they would have in that time period, and crops and livestock are raised as it was done in the 19th century.  This is a great “hands on” place for kids to visit.   Visitors are encouraged to jump in and pitch hay, pull weeds, work alongside the women cooking in the kitchen, and even help in the fields or feed the animals (when the farmers give the okay).

I had heard that this historic farm was a fun field trip from friends who had visited before (and it’s only about a 45 minute drive from our house!).   What I didn’t know until our visit was that Oliver H. Kelley was a person of historical significance.  Besides being the original owner of this farm, Mr. Kelley was the founder of a farming organization called the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, or “Grange” as it is commonly known.  The Grange is a fraternal organization for farmers that is still in existence today.  Grange causes over the years have included regulation of railroads and grain warehouses, rural free mail delivery, temperance, direct election of senators and women’s suffrage.

Linking up to Fantastic Foto Field Trips!

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Book Discoveries this Week: Exclamation Mark and other picture books July 27, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 5:27 pm

Once every two or three months, I like to jot down a few notes on picture books we’ve recently enjoyed.  My last picture book post was back in April, so it’s time to do that againexclamation mark.

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal was probably my favorite of the past couple months.  We’ve enjoyed some of Rosenthal’s other picture books in the past (especially This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations).   The exclamation mark in Rosenthal’s book just wants to be like all the other little periods around him.  But no matter how hard he tries to bend and contort, he just isn’t like them.  Then he meets another funny looking punctuation mark who asks a lot of questions, and helps the exclamation mark learn how he is truly unique and useful. All the kids enjoyed this book and thought it was really cute!

Isn’t it funny how kids just love some picture books that we as adults see as just “okay”?  My 4 and 6 year old boys are really enamored with The Chickens Build A Wall by Jean-Francois Dumont.  It’s one they picked out themselves at the library.    In this story the barnyard chickens are afraid of a small, strange pointy animal (a hedgehog) that appears near them one day.    So they build a tower of sorts (with no door) to protect themselves…only to find the hedgehog ended up in the walled fortification with them, and he really isn’t so bad after all.  I thought this book was kind of silly (how were they getting food and water all this time if their fortress had no door?), but for some reason the boys asked me to read this one many, many times.  🙂



Here are some quick takes on other picture books that some or all of us enjoyed recently:



The Cow that Laid an Egg: A bunch of chickens help an insecure cow to think she has a special talent — laying an egg.  I like the subtle message about love and family in this book — even if the “baby” that hatches from the egg is somewhat un-cow-like,  Marjorie the Cow will love her little one anyway.

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School: A fun take on the classic Gingerbread Man story.  This Gingerbread Man is running to look for a group of kids he really hopes to catch, instead of running away from various pursuers.

Zero Zilch Nada: Counting to None: This is one enjoyed by Mr. K — but not so much by me.  A cute bunny is hired for a job at the balloon factory.  He needs to blow up a certain number of balloons, but isn’t very good at counting or keeping track…so he pops the balloons to count them (leaving him with “zilch” at the end, of course).  The bunny’s actions are a bit silly, but the thing that really bugged me is that the balloons floated up (like helium balloons) when the bunny was blowing them up with air.  I’m not quite sure what was going through the illustrator’s mind here.  After Mr. K requested a 2nd reading, I just couldn’t handle it any more, and this one quick;y went back to the library.  😉

13 Words: This picture book by Lemony Snicket (author of A Series of Unfortunate Events), is bizzare, funny and a vocabulary lesson all in one.  The 13 words range from simple (cake) to quite complicated (haberdashery and mezzo-soprano), and form the basis for a rather odd story about a depressed bird.  Worth checking out, even for your own amusement.

A is for Musk Ox:  A is for Musk ox. B is for Musk Ox.  So is C, D, E…and so on.  This book is very, very funny.  The musk ox will tell you all the ways he is awesome, cool and more.  Forget those apples and clowns…musk oxen are where it’s at! 😉 There’s a sequel (Musk Ox Counts) coming out this fall, and we will definitely be looking for that one at the library when it is published!

Clink: A sweet story about a robot who is more than a bit out of date, but would still love to make some child happy.    He almost gives up hope, until the perfect boy comes into the store.

The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy:  We’ve had this book a few times from the library, but I don’t think I have featured it in a picture book post before.  A spinoff of the “Ladybug Girl” books by the same author, Bumblebee Boy is a typical boy who wants to save the world…without his little brother playing along.  But Owen wants to be a “Soup Hero Too?”  I love how Owen and Bumblebee Boy work through their differences and find a way to fight the bad guys together.   My boys really relate to and enjoy this book…I probably should just buy them a copy since they have checked it out so many times!



I’m joining in with the monthly link-up for Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!


S is for Science Plans July 23, 2013

Filed under: Curriculum,Science — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:29 am

We try to be a “science-y” family.  It’s a pretty important subject — especially to my husband, who makes his living as a scientist!  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while and saw my “curriculum preview” in last week’s wrap-up post, you might have noticed we’re taking a different direction with science this year.

For the past three and a half years, we’ve used BFSU (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding) as our primary science curriculum.   Volume one of this program gives kids an excellent foundation in all the disciplines of science.  I love how the author, Dr. Nebel, has a way of explaining concepts often not presented until late elementary school in a way that even 1st graders can understand.  It’s not a program that’s “easy” to use, but after several years of using Vol. 1, I can say I know it well and can present most of the lessons with ease.  I even used it as a basis for teaching a co-op class this past year.

By early last year, we had finished nearly all the Vol 1. lessons with Miss M, so I purchased an e-book of Vol 2.  I was much more intimidated!  While I was able to easily teach a few topics from it, like Simple Machines, a lot of the topics in Vol. 2 were things I didn’t learn about until high school or later, and I am not sure how solid my personal understanding is on some of them.  My last biology class was as a freshman in high school, over 20 years ago.  A number of lessons call for using a nice microscope, something we weren’t quite yet ready to purchase.   There are fewer “fun” activities and much more lecture/discussion.

We filled in our science plans pretty well last year with a combination of a few lessons from BFSU 2, Sassafras Science Vol 1 – Zoology, and interest-led studies on various topics.  I kept thinking, “we’ll be ready to do BFSU 2…soon.”

As I thought about next year, I had to face up to the fact BFSU 2 is not the curriculum for me.  I have no doubt that given enough time to study and prepare, I could learn the concepts well enough from the BFSU 2 manual to present them.  But I don’t think that’s how I need to be spending my time at this point.  I also decided I wanted something with text that is designed to be read directly to or by the student, so that the main content delivery doesn’t rely on library books or a lecture from me — something that BFSU doesn’t provide.

While I like the BFSU approach of studying topics from several science disciplines in the same year, most homeschool science curricula are not set up in this way.  I decided that this might be a good year to start a four year “rotation” for Miss M through the four main disciplines of science.   We are going to start with Earth and Space science this year, then we will do Chemistry, Physics and finally Biology (not quite sure yet if Chem or Physics will be first, but I am excited about saving Biology for last when Miss M is a 7th grader and quite ready for dissections!).

I’ve decided we’ll use Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space as our primary curriculum CKEESthis year for science.  While I am not always very impressed with the quality of “Christian” science curricula (sometimes they seem heavy on the Bible and Apologetics content and lighter on the science content), I thought this looked pretty good.  Since we believe in a young earth creation, I thought that especially for an Earth science text, I wanted to not spend the whole year saying, “This says ‘millions of years,’  but we know that God did it in a much shorter time frame.”    My kids have definitely been exposed to science materials with this perspective, but I don’t want our main text to be coming from that angle.

Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space is divided into six units, each with a few lessons.  We’ll be following those units/lessons, as well as adding in a few Earth/Space related topics I wanted to cover that aren’t in the text.  This text will (I think) primarily be for Miss M (4th grade), but the boys will tag along as interested, and I will find library books for them.

Unit One:  Creation/Earth’s Structure (2 – 3 weeks)

Unit Two: The Lithosphere (6-8 weeks)

Unit Three: The Hydrosphere (5 weeks)

Unit Four: The Atmosphere (5 weeks)

Unit Five: Earth’s Weather (6 weeks)

Unit Six: Beyond Earth (5-6 weeks)

That should take us most of the way to the end of our school year in mid-May.  It also does not include our summer vacation out west (including Yellowstone!) where we will see first-hand many interesting Earth-Science related sights.  🙂

Miss M has also requested more nature study this year, so I am planning to set her up with some resources that will help her do that somewhat independently this year.

I am not abandoning BFSU all together — I still plan to use it for teaching my c0-op science class.  I also want to incorporate content from BFSU each year for the boys — whether that is through informal discussions or doing a lesson or two here and there with them.  I want to make sure they are getting that same good foundation in scientific principles that Miss M received.



I’m linking up with Blogging through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me, and with the Lesson Planning link-up for Science at Highhill Education.


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Collage Friday: 3 Weeks in Pictures + A Curriculum Preview for Next Year July 19, 2013

Filed under: Curriculum,Weekly Highlights — kirstenjoyhill @ 2:30 pm

Time flies when you’re having fun…and we’ve certainly been having a ton of fun in the past three weeks since I have found time for a wrap-up post.

We had a 4th of July weekend that including representing our church in a parade on the 4th, and a 3 day camping trip that also included some sight seeing to the Hermann Monument and the Wanda Gag house:


4th of July, 2013

Here are a few other highlights and fun shots from the past three weeks:


July 2013

  • We watched our caterpillars make their chrysalises (we actually saw the process for two out of the three!), and then released our three monarchs into the neighborhood
  • We’ve spent a lot of time at the pool — usually at least two afternoons per week
  • We viewed sand castles from a sand castle competition
  • We are enjoying summer treats like trips to DQ, and plenty of Popsicles and root beer floats at home
  • The boys made their own version of Monopoly called “Money Man.”
  • Not pictured:  Lots of playing with neighbor friends, Mr. E spending several days with Grandma, a couple lemonade stands, afternoons spent reading during Mr. J’s nap time, a neighborhood newspaper created by Miss M, watching Liberty’s Kids with our new full-series DVD set we received this week, and the end of the kids’ four week tennis class.


What we’ve been doing hardly any of is any formal school work.  By this time last summer, we had started back with a couple subjects.  That just doesn’t seem like it is in the cards this summer.   I’ve only just in the past week or two started really cleaning out the school room from our last school year, and working again on planning for the fall.  In the next six weeks we still have our “local mission trip” called “Mission to the City” for a half-week.  we also have  our church’s vacation Bible camp (which I am in charge of) and a two-week vacation.  Then it’s nearly Labor Day, and it’s really time to start school.


So this is a summer to really have a vacation from formal school work…and a long vacation at that.  I don’t know that I want to do that every year, but I am okay with this year maybe needing just a bit more math review in the fall.  🙂


2013-2014 Curriculum “Preview”:

It’s time for the annual Curriculum Edition link-up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.  Unlike most years at this time, I don’t have things finalized for all subjects yet.  Hey, I still have six weeks until our school year starts…OH MY I only have six weeks until our school year starts and we’ll be on vacation two of those weeks.  😉

Here’s what I am thinking right now.  I’ll be updating the “Our Curriculum” page as I get things more finalized.

Miss M (4th grade):

  • Right Start Math E + Life of Fred elementary books for enrichment (we’re currently in the middle of  “Cats” in that series)
  • Logic of English Essentials with Advanced Lists (our second year through Essentials) for spelling and grammar, along with Scholastic E-books for additional grammar and editing practice.
  • U.S. History “Year 2” (1865 to the Present), using my own literature-based plans, plus most likely Homeschool in the Woods Time Travelers/Lap-Paks for lapbooking and activities
  • Additional read-alouds and assigned independent reading (much of her lit this year will be history related, but not all)
  • An Earth and Space science-focused year using various resources (I just decided on this topic, so I’m still decided on resources. I’m leaning toward Christian Kids Explore Earth/Space as a main curricula) + Nature Study (at Miss M’s request that we include more of this.)
  • Write On! for writing, plus additional practice from scholastic E-books and other resources.
  • Possibly some cursive copywork
  • Undecided on Bible/Character study beyond just daily Bible reading
  • Possibly some introductory study of German
  • Co-op classes (art, gym, science), guitar lessons, and possibly homeschool gymnastics class or another physical fitness activity

Mr. E (1st grade):

  • Right Start Math C + Life of Fred elementary books for enrichment (we’re currently in the middle of  “Cats” in that series)
  • Logic of English Foundations for spelling and phonics (reviewing parts of B and C, starting D when it is available).  Possibly starting Essentials if we finish Foundations D or his reading and spelling ability move solidly beyond the point of level D.
  • Tagging along for US History and Earth/Space science as interested with Miss M (I’ll have library book selections especially for the boys).  We’ll also pursue other interest-led science and history topics if desired.
  • Read-aloud lit selections from a list I will create, plus independent reading at his level
  • Mr. E needs some major handwriting practice.  I’m not sure I want to use the instruction methods used in LoE foundations.  We might use A Reason for Handwriting Level A or other copywork material.
  • Undecided on Bible/Character study beyond daily Bible reading
  • Possibly some introductory study of German
  • Co-op classes (art, gym, science), and possibly homeschool gymnastics class or another physical fitness activity

Mr. K, age 4/Preschool:

  • Right Start Math A at a gentle pace + math games
  • Logic of English Foundations A, at very gentle pace (plus possibly other letter-of-the-week sorts of activities from resources I already have or are freely available).
  • Classic pictures books (plus, I hope to add in some fun and related activities)
  • Interest led explorations/listening in to science and history topics with his older siblings
  • Possibly some introductory study of German
  • Free printable preschool packs/worksheets for my seatwork-loving kid as desired

I’ll be fleshing that out and making more plans this summer for another great school year…but I am also super excited to enjoy our last few weeks of summer.



I’m linking up with Collage Friday and The Weekly Wrap-Up.

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Book Discoveries this Week: Henry Huggins and Tanglewoods Secret July 18, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:08 pm

We’ve finished a couple more read-alouds this week — One for the boys, and one for Miss M. Mr. E spent a good portion of last week with Grandma Karen (my mom).  I sent the book Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary for them to start together.  Mr. E loved it and was eager to continue it once he got home.  Mr. K listened quite often as well, as did Miss M (who caught up reading on her own all the parts she missed).

Henry Huggins was not an entirely new character to us, as Miss M and I read the Ramona books aloud when she was a 2nd grader, and she has re-read them many times since.   Henry appears as a minor character in the Ramona books,  and Ramona and Beezus appear in the Henry books as well.   Henry Huggins covers one eventful year in Henry’s life when he first gets Ribsy, his beloved dog, and has all kinds of other funny adventures as well.  Fans of the Ramona books or other “episodic life adventure” sort of books will probably like the Henry series as well.

I have, so far, been generally choosing books to read aloud to Mr. E that feature boys as main characters, since he is just getting his feet wet with chapter book listening and I am trying to hold his interest as much as possible.  It fascinated me, however, that he requested I read Betsy-Tacy next after finishing Henry Huggins.    We’re about seven chapters in to that book (1st in my all-time favorite children’s book series!), and he and Mr. K love it.  I think I am one lucky mom to have boys who like Betsy-Tacy too.  🙂

With Miss M, I decided to take a departure from our fairy tale and fantasy read-alouds for something of a bit more serious nature.  I picked up Tanglewoods Secret by Patricia St. John at a book sale this year.   It’s actually the second book by St. John that I acquired…but the first one (received in a box of random books given to me by a friend who was “cleaning out”) had such an odd cover and no description on the back that I didn’t even give it a second look.

I was clued in to what I missed out on when I read this post by Amy about another St. John book, Star of Light.  So, this time, when I found another book by the same author, I didn’t pass it up.

In Tanglewoods Secret, Ruth and Philip are living with their aunt and uncle while their tanglewoods secretparents are serving overseas.  Ruth is fairly hot-tempered, and this gets her into trouble pretty frequently.   One night in a fit of rage, Ruth runs away rather than face her Aunt (who threatened to send her to boarding school), after sleeping the night in a church, Ruth meets a clergyman who tells her about the Good Shepherd who can find his lost sheep, no matter where they are or how far they have run away.  This starts Ruth down a path of “belonging to the Good Shepherd”, which influences her entire family and helps a friend and his family through a time of grave crisis.

I’ve never been big on “Christian Fiction” per se, but this was done pretty tastefully.  The story of the Good Shepherd and the theological ideas presented fit pretty naturally into the storyline — though the explanations were a bit muddled at times, and sometimes required just a bit of theological/Biblical explanation on my part to make sure Miss M was left with the right idea.    Miss M shares a few things in common with Ruth in terms of having a fiery temper, so I am hoping maybe a few of the ideas in the book sink in beyond it just being a good story.  🙂  Miss M enjoyed it and asked if I could find more books by the same author.  I was bummed that our library doesn’t have any of St. John’s children’s books, so I will be investigating used book stores (and patiently requesting via Inter Library Loan).

I’ll be linking up to the now-monthly Read-Aloud Thursday at the end of the month!


R is for Room July 17, 2013

Filed under: Getting Organized — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:00 pm

…A School Room that is.  We have one…but it hasn’t been used for “school” nearly as much this last year as it was at first.

R is for Room

When we first moved into our current house, Miss M was just beginning Kindergarten.  Being that all three of our kids (at the time) shared one bedroom, there wasn’t much room in there for toys.  Our other main-floor bedroom was a playroom/schoolroom.

By January of 2012, Miss M now had three younger brothers instead of two, and she was ready for her own room.  We were also ready for the school room to be a bit quieter place.  So Miss M moved upstairs, and the playroom/schoolroom became a mostly school room, with a few quieter toys.    Here’s a blog post about our overhaul of the play/school room.

This past year, Miss M started doing more independent work — most of which she did at her desk in the school room.  I also found myself often working with Mr. E  while Miss M worked independently — and our talking made it difficult for Miss M to focus.   I had to look all the way back to October to see a school-work “action shot” taking place in the school room (not counting Miss M working at her desk, which she doesn’t really like me taking pictures of).

Meanwhile, Lego play has become more and more of a “big deal” for the two older boys.  And the Legos are in the school room as well.  It’s a catch-22: They are in the school room distracting the big sister…or they are in the boys room with the toddler (and then we either have to keep the toddler out of the room with all his toys or allow him to run amok with the Leogs!).  So, they stay in the school room most of the time, and sometimes we make a rule that they cannot come out until school is done for the day.   But that’s hard for the boys since they are done with their school obligations much earlier than their big sister.

We did almost all our non-independent school work at the dining table this year.  But all the books are kept in the school room!  We ended up many times this year with either a large school room occupied by one 3rd grader doing school work…or a large school room occupied by no one doing school and instead occupied by boys playing blocks or Legos or by a toddler noisily pulling books off the shelf.

I haven’t really figured out the solution to this problem yet.  I would love to find a way to move Miss M to a different spot in the house for her independent work…but she is the type who does not like change and is resisting the idea of being anywhere else in the house.  I’m glad we aren’t starting back to a full schedule until the day after Labor Day this year — because I still need some time to figure this out!

I’m finally caught up on my alphabet posts and I’m linking up to Blogging Through the Alphabet this week at Ben and Me!  I’m also linking up to the School Rooms post at the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop!

Blogging Through the Alphabetnbts-blog-hop-calendar-2013


Q is for Quotes July 16, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:29 am
Tags: , ,

“Quotes” was an easy choice for me for the letter “Q” in the Blogging through the Alphabet challenge.   I’m a bit biased, but I think my kids are really funny.  Especially, Mr. K (currently age 4).  He seems to have inherited his daddy’s sense of humor.  🙂  I often post funny things my kids say on Facebook to entertain my family and friends, and today I picked out ten favorites from 2013 so far to share with you:


  1. Mr. K:  “If Puffed Wheat cereal is just made out of wheat, then I guess Puffed Ice Cream cereal would be made out of sugar, ice cream, wheat and fruit loops, right?”
  2. Mr. K leans in toward me and q is for quotessays, “Mom, I know what the “s word” is!” Then he leans in closer and whispers, “Stinky!”
  3. Mr. K: “Mom, I’m going to write a book about the ceiling. Will you edit it for me?”
  4. Mr. E: “Mom, I have a different kind of present to give you. I’m not going to sit OR lay down on top of the table today!”
  5. Mr. K: “Can I sometime brush my teeth with ketchup? [pause]…I like getting cavities filled. Can you get me ‘getting some cavities filled’ for my birthday next year?”
  6. Mr. E: (after seeing that our neighborhood Aldi store is completely rearranged): “I know how they did this…some Ninjas came in during the middle of the night and moved everything around.” And then a few minutes later, Mr. K says to a random Aldi employee stocking shelves, “Hi Ninja!” (of course, the guy looked really confused so I felt obligated to explain Mr K’s greeting).
  7. Mr. K: “Did you know that plungers use electricity? A robot told me that.”
  8. When asked by Tony why he kept falling off the couch, Mr. K just answered, “Gravity.”
  9. Mr. E: “I’m the superhero Princess-Man!”
  10. Miss M: “Calculus? Oh, I know all about Calculus…no, wait…I was thinking of Celsius.”



I’m still catching up with my “Blogging Through the Alphabet” challenge posts!  See more alphabet posts at  Since I have ten quotes, I’m also linking up with Top Ten Tuesday @ Many Little Blessings.

Blogging Through the AlphabetTop Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


P is for Pajamas July 15, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:04 pm

There’s this common stereotype of homeschoolers that we all like to do school in our P is for Pajamaspajamas.   I feel like I hear homeschoolers touting this all the time as a major benefit of homeschooling — you don’t even have to get dressed to do it.  While I am sure this fits and is a benefit for many families, I can assure you that not all homeschoolers like to do school in their pajamas.   We I certainly don’t.

Now, let me just say that I think I must have a “thing” about pajamas.  I have never been the type to want to stay in my PJs all day.  I don’t feel like the day is really started unless I have changed clothes.  I discovered as soon as I had kids that I felt strongly about them only wearing pajamas at bedtime.  You know how most people like have their little babies lounge around in their cute little footie sleepers?  Well, I discovered that this drove me crazy!  So even when my kids were tiny, I still dressed them in “day time” clothes for the day, and the cute footie PJs for sleeping.  Crazy, I know.

Even now, I ask all the kids to get dressed by a reasonable time.  It’s hard for me to feel like they can take their day seriously in their jammies either! I have one kid who wants to get dressed almost as soon as he wakes up, one kid who will generally not stay long in pajamas, and a kid who would barely even change clothes once every two days unless someone made him (the same kid recently told me he wished he only had to take a bath once a year).  And of course there is the toddler, who gets dressed when I want him to.  🙂

We’ve only had an official “Pajama Day” once in recent memory…and it was really quite a while ago.  I am sure a majority of my kids would love it.  Meanwhile, all the other days…we are definitely not doing school in our PJs.  😉

I’m still catching up with my “Blogging Through the Alphabet” challenge posts!  See more alphabet posts at
Blogging Through the Alphabet