Our New School Room

One of the fun things about moving to a new house is that we now have a new school room. I actually am in love with our school room. It is in the attic and only has sky lights for windows. It is a long room, with lots of wall space for books. It was the bonus room, but the previous owner was an artist and used it for her art studio, so she put a sink in it and some cabinets and drawers. Maybe the idea is that that area is a kitchenette, but for us it is just perfect for housing all kinds of stuff, like games, art supplies, manipulatives, you name it.

Our new homeschool room

I had to purchase new bookcases, because the walls aren’t full height, so my old cases were too tall. (I’ve put them to use though in the garage. They are now being filled with canned food.)

Our new homeschool room

We had been storing the kitchen table that we had used back in the early days of our marriage, until we had children and couldn’t sit around it anymore. That now serves as our school table.

Our new homeschool room

We need to work on decorating the room a little more, but that will come with time, hopefully.

Soldiers at the Neighbor's House

This is what I heard this afternoon.

"Mo-o-om! There are soldiers at the neighbor’s house!"

You see my kids were outside playing during school hours. After all, even homeschoolers deserve recess (and I needed to get the refrigerator cleaned out.)  My kids have already discovered that sometimes people notice them during school hours and make comments to the point that my kids have become a bit shy about being seen during school hours. Our house is fairly private, but you can see it from that neighbor’s house and now there were soldiers over there.

Next, all three of the kids came running in and they were talking at once, so I hope I got it deciphered right.

"Mom, they drove by real slow and looked straight at us!" (Let me translate that comment. That means, "Mom, they noticed that we’re not in school. Now what?") "Mom, they WERE soldiers." "Then they turned in at the neighbor’s house." "I bet they have guns." Can you hear the fear?

I didn’t see the soldiers, so I have no idea who they were. (Maybe they thought it was Halloween a day early.) I was slightly amused though, but especially when I heard the solution to the problem from JD Boy. Only a six-year-old would come up with this.

"Mom, I know what to do. If I see them out there again, I’m going to quick put on my long jeans." (He’s wearing shorts. Don’t ask me why, maybe I should send a note to his mom to dress him better for this weather…) "I’ll grab my fireman rain boots and my fireman raincoat and paint my jeans really fast to look like fireman pants. Then I’ll run out and grab a hose and start spraying and they won’t want to mess with us, because those fire hoses are really powerful, you know." (Yeah, but we don’t have a fire hose connected to our house, we have a garden hose. Oh, well, maybe they wouldn’t notice the difference.)


"If that doesn’t work…" (What do you mean? It sounded like there was no doubt that that would work.) "I’ll grab a stick and start pretending like I’m shooting at the bear." (We think that a bear got into our trash again this week, so the kids are a bit nervous when they’re playing outside right now. I am too.) "Then when they see me shooting at the bear, they’ll know that I know how to shoot and they’ll be afraid to start shooting at me." (What ever made you think that those soldiers were there to shoot YOU?)

I think everybody is calmed down now. We’ve already talked about the fact that we are legal homeschoolers. Someday maybe laws will change, who knows. But for now, it’s legal. Police and soldiers aren’t on their track. (Maybe they just came to get that bear. Now, they would be my heroes if that’s what they’re driving around for.) Why are my kids afraid that they’re going to be snatched away if they’re not busily doing their schoolwork during school hours?

For some reason, this reminds of my little brother (meaning younger, not smaller). So I just have to tell you one more funny story. (I hope you’re reading this Bro, if not, you’re supposed to be. You’re supposed to be one of my blog fans.)

He was homeschooled too. One day, he was working in Grandpa’s garden during school hours. He was probably right around six or seven and spent as much time as possible with Grandpa in the garden. Anyway, according to my brother, the UPS man came driving up and looked right at him. (Scary!) So my brother knew what to do immediately. He started jabbering about driving his tractor. (Yes, he did have pedal tractor.) After the UPS man drove away, he came running in to tell  Grandma all about it. Then he said, "Don’t worry though, Grandma. He thought I was a farmer. He just thought I was a midget." (Well, I’m sure he wouldn’t think that now, if you’d try the same method again! Oh, but you’re old enough that you don’t have to worry about truancy laws anymore.)

Even before I had children, I knew that I wanted to homeschool. I spent some time thinking about that I would not be shy about our homeschooling. We would be proud of it. That way my kids would never feel afraid that somebody was seeking them out for not being in school. I was sure it would be easier for me, because time has passed since my little brother was being homeschooled. Nearly every state (definitely mine) has laws for homeschoolers. There are a bazillion homeschoolers. I would make sure that my kids would never be afraid of people wanting to just reach out and snatch them away for being homeschoolers, but I guess I didn’t pull it off. My kids have the same fears that my brother had, just have different solutions….well, not really, but anyway.

Am I the only one with this problem? Are your kids afraid that someday they’ll get snatched away just for being homeschoolers? Or have you successfully suppressed all of their fears? If so, how?


I’m sitting here in the middle of suitcases, sorting laundry and feeling a bit disenchanted by the whole concept of traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed the last three weeks, (Did I mention that we have been traveling for three weeks?) but three weeks is a long time to be away. We’ve visited three states in three weeks, one week for each state. Plus we’ve had a layover in a fourth state. We’ve spent some lovely time with family, including cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, second cousins and great-aunts and uncles. The kids got to ride in a real John Deere combine. (Remember, my oldest son calls himself John Deere Boy… He was a happy little man.) We picked cotton (just a handful). We visited a museum. Went out to eat more times than I’d like to pay for. We drove by two houses that I grew up in. Saw the school that I went to for elementary and high school. (I was in a small rural school.) Met up with my highschool biology teacher. (That was a treat!) Stayed with grandparents in the house that my husband grew up in. Saw the school he went to. (Well, he was homeschooled, so I guess we saw the room where he went to school!! He did take a few science classes at the local high school, and we saw that too.) Drove through the campus of the university that my husband and I graduated from. We visited two cemeteries and found the markers of six loved ones.  We visited parks. We learned some geography. We played with cousins until we could drop. We flew on four airplanes and drove around 1400 miles.  And last but not least, we did some schoolwork.

Now we’re to what has me wondering about traveling. I don’t know if you travel so much that on some of those travels, you need to keep working on school work. Well, we do. For this trip, I packed a whole suitcase full of books. Now I’m unpacking and realizing how many of these books never got touched. We did work on the 3 R’s, nearly every day. For math, one of the interesting things we did, was weigh suitcases and get them to exactly 50 lbs. Actually my daughter finished up her first math lapbook too. She did spelling a few days. They both read to me nearly everyday. We did do a little nature study, but I had grand plans for that. Maybe I should be thankful for the nature study that I didn’t plan though. My kids got to feed, chase and hold chickens over and over and that’s something we don’t have at our house. They got to harvest soy beans and learn how weather affects the harvest. They picked field corn and learned that each cob always has an even number of rows. They picked cotton and found out where cotton comes from. They learned that there’s a big difference between Kansas mud and Nebraska mud. Maybe they learned more from that nature study than what I had planned. I also had great plans for reading some biographies while we travelled. We read part of one. I had three along. That was for history. Maybe I should be glad that my kids had the opportunity to visit so many places that have shaped and formed their dad’s and my life. Maybe that’s history they’ll remember and that is important to them. I took along a book on drawing. We thought we’d have fun doing some drawing. Never opened it. They did draw and draw and color and color with the cousins though, so maybe that was better, especially since they don’t get to spend enough time together. One thing, I’m not concerned about is whether they got exercise while we were gone. There were six kids between three and nine and they played and played and played some more.

So now I’m trying to figure out if I should feel guilty that we didn’t get more schoolwork done or if I should feel thrilled that we got any schoolwork done. What do you think? What’s your philosophy about taking books along with you when you travel? Or do you travel that often?

I did learn a lesson, I hope. No matter what I plan, when we’re traveling, it needs to be less. I shouldn’t pack quite so much in the way of schoolwork. Then maybe I won’t have to mess with weighing my suitcase!!

P.S. Sad to say, my camera broke. So this is a pictureless post.

The Outdoor Classroom

We had the privilege of camping at Glacier National Park all last week. It was stunning and I have tons of pictures to sort through to share with you, but I’m just going to post this one today, because it’s so neat.

The Outdoor Classroom!! -- Glacier National Park

We owe a thank you to a fellow hiker who loaned us this chair that he had hauled up the mountain with him. I may make it my banner (when I have time).

"While the Bible should hold the first place in the education of children and youth, the book of nature is next in importance. God’s created works testify to His love and power. He has called the world into being, with all that it contains. God is a lover of the beautiful; and in the world which He has fitted up for us He has not only given us everything necessary for our comfort, but He has filled the heavens and the earth with beauty. We see His love and care in the rich fields of autumn, and His smile in the glad sunshine. His hand has made the castle-like rocks and the towering mountains. The lofty trees grow at His command; He has spread earth’s green velvet carpet and dotted it with shrubs and flowers." Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students.

P.S. If you want a preview of our pictures from Glacier that I’ve started uploading, click on this link.

Learning while Visiting

While we were in New Mexico, we were so privileged to get some really quality time with friends and family. Spending time with others is really a great learning opportunity for my children. Our friends and family have experience, perspective and knowledge that I don’t have and they just unwittingly share with the children. My children always learn.

One of the days while we were in New Mexico, we spent at the home of some of our family. Now I have decided that getting to know extended family, definitely qualifies as social studies. There isn’t a better way to learn about the family tree than to get to know all of the branches. The last time that we were able to see most of these family members was when my oldest was 9 months old. In other words, they were strangers to my kids. So it was just great for them to get to know part of our family.

My kids were so excited because they added two new birds to their lifelists, while we were there: Black-chinned Hummingbird and Gambel’s Quail. We spent lots of time watching the Quail. Gambel’s Quail was one of the birds that I was so anxious to see on our trip. I’m sure glad that we got to, because the other bird was the elusive Road Runner, and I’m still upset with all of them for not showing their faces to us. Unfortunately, try as we did to persuade the birds, they did not pose for us, so the only photos I have to choose from are some irresistible pictures of my kiddoes.

Mischievous JD Boy

JD Boy

Mother and Daughter

Zippy and me

G'tums Waving


We also spent one day at the home of some very dear friends. As is always the case, when you take your children to somebody else’s house, they discover that the friends have way neater things than you have. This visit was no exception. The boys in that family took my kids for rides on their quads (four-wheelers). My kids are ready to move to New Mexico right now, just so they can have quads.

Trampoline Jumping

They also had the neatest trampoline ever! Even I have to admit, that that one is a winner. It’s just a lot safer looking than the typical. I’m heading to Costco.com one of these days to see if I can get one.

Zippy with Static Hair

A bit of a closer look at what the trampoline did to Zippy’s hair. Impressive!

They also had real, live chickens.

G'tums feeding chickens

They got to feed the chickens…. and hold the chickens….and chase the chickens…

JD Boy Collecting Eggs

…and gather eggs.

The kids thought the chickens were so neat and are thinking that maybe we should get chickens. I informed them that first we have to get used to taking care of the dog. On top of that, we’re vegan, so what would we do with the eggs? Well, they had the answer for that: "Sell them." Don’t expect any posts anytime soon about us getting chickens. I have absolutely no intention of adding that to my life, but it was fun to watch the kids enjoy somebody else’s chickens.

Our time with family and friends was not only very enjoyable, but it was also educational for the kids. Sometimes, I think that I make learning too big of a project. Sometimes, I just need to turn them loose and let them explore the world around and meet and learn from the people around them. I try, really I do, to be the balanced homeschooler–with the right amount of structure and the right amount of spontaneity.

Now that we’re heading into the summer and I’m thinking that I need a little bit of break from lots of things in life, we have decided to take the education as it comes to us for awhile. We’re putting away our lapbooks and our workbooks and we’re going to go spend some time in the garden and outside and we’ll see what we can learn. Life is full of learning opportunities and surprises. I’ll keep you posted what we find and learn.


I have been trying to follow the Moore Formula in our homeschooling adventure. (See my post about the Moore Formula.) One of the things that the Moore Formula includes is service for others. I always feel like this area needs work in our family, but I’m happy to report that my children, especially my daughter, have been busy with service the last couple of weeks and will be busy for a couple more. I am leading out in a five-week-long four-nights-a-week Bible class for children. My daughter has been preparing the crafts. A friend has been doing most of the cutting, but my daughter has been individually packaging everybody’s crafts. That might not sound huge, but we prepare twenty crafts and have twenty nights, so she’ll have done four hundred crafts by the time we’re finished.

Zippy learning to use a heat sealer

Here she is sealing off one of the crafts with the heat sealer.

Zippy showing off one of the four hundred crafts that she has to package

She proudly shows off one of the two hundred packages that she’s already finished!

Kids Play Their History Lessons

Today JD Boy wouldn’t stop: "Mommy, mommy, please video us." He is one of if not the most persistent child I’ve ever met. I was so busy and didn’t really have time, but if you’ve read the parable about the unjust judge in the Bible then you already know that persistence pays off. Finally, I said, "Okay, where do I have to go to video you?" Well it was only a few feet away and it didn’t require putting on my coat and shoes, so I agreed. I got my camera, headed to the bottom of the stairs and then the kids began their presentation. Here it is.

Now, we didn’t study Christopher Columbus this week or month, we studied it in September. Obviously though JD Boy took a liking to the story and he persuaded his siblings to participate in his imaginary sailing across the Atlantic. He even invited Captain Jones on the journey. Pretty amazing huh? It seems the water must have been a bit rough and required bicycle helmets. Wouldn’t Columbus have loved those? And you’ll notice, that, unfortunately, the captain of the Pinta freaked out and wasn’t able to make the voyage.

Snow or Shine?

Our weather can’t make up it’s mind. What’s up with this anyway? I caught a couple of fun pictures of my kids in the different types of weather that we’ve had within the last week.

Zippy doing math in Springtime March

Zippy thought when it was nice, that outside would be the best place to do her math. I agree, but where did that nice weather go? It’s been snowing and melting and snowing and melting.

Zippy & G'tums sledding in March

JDBoy sledding in March

Today they thought that maybe it would be better not to do math but to go sledding all day. I had to disagree, math just has to get done sometimes, but they managed to get their math finished pretty fast because that snow was melting.

Reality Check

I decided it was time for a reality check as to how my year is going in homeschool. When I look through my list of goals from August and look at what we’ve done, I wish we would have done more. Maybe I’ll always wish that. I’m very glad for what we have done. The accomplishment that I’m the very happiest about is lapbooking. We’ve learned to use lapbooking very well in conjunction with our studies, especially history. The second thing that I’m very happy about is all the read-a-louds that we did together.

Here is a review of what we actually did August – December 2008.
Bible: Covered the Death of Jesus through the death of the Apostle John and also the first five centuries of church history (My Bible Says lessons.) Two lessons of memory verses from Sealing Touch Jr.
History/Geography: Columbus through Plymouth, four lapbooks each child, lots of read-a-louds from the Truth-Quest American History 1 guide.
Science: a little nature study and what came along with our history studies–animals seen by Explorers, how a compass works, a bit about stars
Math: 1/2 of our Math-U-See books
Language: Lots of copywork and narration in our lapbooks, as well as a few Bible verses
Nature Study: this is an area we need to work on a little more, but we did some random nature study.
Music: Read Hymns for a Kid’s Heart vols. 1 & 2 and memorized Fairest Lord Jesus and Onward Christian Soldiers as well as parts of several other hymns. Also piano lessons.
Art: Another area we need to work on, but we did do some art that made it’s way into the lapbooks.
Service: participated in nursing home program, helped with putting on a vegan cooking school (Zippy even demonstrated.)
Chores worked on: mostly kitchen clean-up

So here’s what I wish we would have done:
more Bible memorization
more Nature study
more Art
more Science (may be mostly nature study)
cooking with my children–I know that doesn’t sound school related, but think of all the things learned while cooking together, not to mention the memories made.

These are the things I want to work harder on in the next few months:
Music: start studying classical composers as well as learn more hymns
Art: I still don’t really know where to start, but I’ve been reading harmonyartmom’s blog and her squiddo lens on drawing and trying to learn from that,
Bible memorization
Nature Study: I’m very interested in harmonyartmom’s blog about nature study and am trying to figure out how to incorporate that into our lives as well. We also plan to be participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Well those are my goals. Wish me the best!

Moore Formula

We have chosen to homeschool using the Moore Formula. It just makes so much sense. I decided to blog about it today.

It was developed by Dr. Raymond Moore, who The Old Schoolhouse magazine referred to as the grandfather of homeschooling.

It is so much more than Charlotte Mason, unit studies or Ruth Beechick, but includes all of those. The Moore Formula is very simple. It is: 1) Study from a few minutes to several hours a day, depending on the child’s maturity. 2) Manual work at least as much as study. 3) Home and/or community service an hour or so a day. This is why I like it so much, it includes everything in life as school, because developing our children into well-rounded adults takes more than good unit studies or the best living books, it takes more than good scholastics and plenty of nature study, though I think all of those things are important. It also involves learning to work and learning to serve others and learning to serve God supremely.

Here are some websites of interest about the Moore Formula.
Dr. Raymond Moore’s obituary: www.moorefoundation.com
Moore Academy: www.moorehomeschooling.com
The Moore Formula
And my two favorite books by Dr. Moore: Better Late Than Early and The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook. Many other books for homeschoolers are also available at www.moorefoundation.com

Dr. Moore in his books talks about unit studies, good living books, the importance of nature study, Bible study and all of the other aspects of scholastics, but he melts it down to the fact that scholastics isn’t everything. And I agree!