The Beginner’s Bible {with new artwork}

The start of a new year tends to bring new books into our home.  This year we have been so blessed to review The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz.

How We Have Used It

We have gone through 2 copies of The Beginner’s Bibles in our home since my now 6 year old was 2 years old. Growing up The Beginner’s Bible was my first Bible.  For my children, it was an every single night story book for several years, and my oldest could recite the stories to you by heart before she was 4.  My son and second daughter have also loved this book, and when our last copy was so well loved that most of the pages were taped in, they were excited to receive our newest copy!

They were even more excited to see the illustrations were different, and more vibrant (they used the words “more colorful”). This updated version is perfect for my oldest to read to her younger siblings, and also for my son to begin reading as he learns to read.  Daddy often lets everyone pick a different story to read from it for bedtime.  My 2 year old is a “page flipper,” she *loves* to sit and flip through the pages of books while talking about the pictures.  This is one of her very favorite books to pick up.

The book is a hardcover edition with beautiful colors, with 512 pages containing over 90 Bible stories.

What We Think About The (updated) Beginner’s Bible

I appreciate that the pages are thick and durable; with so many little hands using this book it is important that it stands up to lots of love.  The cover is sturdy, and colorful-it definitely draws my children’s eye when choosing a book to have read to them.

I like that my 6 year old, who reads on a higher level, is able to read this book with ease.  Something new I noticed is that in the back is a short glossary of terms used in the stories!  Woo hoo!  This is so neat, and a great way to introduce glossaries to young children.  My daughter really likes this section of The Beginner’s Bible.

I feel like I can trust Zonderkidz and especially The Beginner’s Bible product line, because I grew up with it.  Reading the stories nightly to my children helped me (even as an adult) have a better understanding of some of the history in the Bible.

Though simple, it is thorough enough for children to get a great view of Biblical truths without the use of fantastical additions.  This is so important to our family.  The Beginner’s Bible doesn’t discuss the more mature content of the Bible, but is still able to tell the stories with beauty and truth, while also avoiding adding in details that aren’t Biblically sound.

We are very choosy about books in our home; I want to make sure that what my children read is quality, safe, and appropriate while still being fun, engaging and lining up with our values. Zonderkidz does just that with The Beginner’s Bible.

You can click HERE to see comparisons of the old artwork with the new.  The images are now more vibrant, and I think easier for little eyes to decipher. They also include lots of fun resources to download through that link.  Enjoy!

Connect With Zonderkidz


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Weekly Wrap Up {homeschool update} with Baby #4 Summary

So, how goes being a mama of 4, 6 years old and under?  It is going really great!

Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

We have fallen into our groove with routines, baby is sleeping great *most* days for her naps, which helps with our learning time as a family.  The kids are enjoying their school time; we have finally gotten pretty comfortable with Mister doing more activities while I teach Lexie.  Ila walks around with her ABC flash cards (I laminated them and put on a ring for her) during most of learning time. She likes to come sit in my lap through out the morning and “read” to me.  =)

Lexie (6 years old)

The Lady is just flying through everything I give her or introduce her to.  She enjoys reading; we are still going over the rules as we work through All About Reading, because I don’t want her to have gaps down the road.  However, she is reading on a 4-6th grade level.  Next we are going to start working to build her vocabulary, because when reading at a higher level, she is coming across many words she doesn’t know yet.

She is learning her math facts in math and really enjoys challenging herself with those.  She does her math sheets independently and we do calendar most days (sometimes I just forget ..).  Whenever we do hands on math with manipulatives Max likes to join in.  He can do math on her level, but his writing skills aren’t there yet so we don’t focus on a math curriculum at all for him- just hands on fun! (like it should be).

We have started using the CD that came with our science (Apologia’s Astronomy 2nd Edition)- that way I don’t have to read, but I can listen along and pause it to go more in depth or explain something a little better.  The kids follow along in the book, and then Lexie does the science journal.

Handwriting and math are part of her “clip board work,” that she does independently; I check over these after she has completed them to be sure she did her best, or understood everything.  She loves watching herself improve, and I enjoy the discipline she is learning in completing her work on her own.


Max (4 years old)

Mister is just reading like crazy.  He does not like to read formally, off a piece of paper yet. He likes me to write words on the board for him to read, and I am 100% okay with that!  He is only 4, after all.

He is working through Reading the Alphabet by I used that with Lexie and she *loved* it, so he is enjoying it now.  Each week we go on to a new letter/site word.  His favorite activities are the mazes (he is constantly asking me to find mazes for him to do), and he enjoys syllable counting.  Max is also very interested in counting to 100 .. every. single. day.  Which is great so I go with it; he likes to get out his number chart for that (check our Rainbow Resources for those!).

PS, K Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

Mister is still obsessed with puzzles and anything he can do with his hands.  We try to make sure he gets plenty of movement, hands on learning, and has lots of play time so he continues to grow a love for learning.

Ila (2 years old)

Ila is tagging along with us in everything we do.  Right now she enjoys puzzles, dolls, coloring, and practicing her letter sounds.  She doesn’t actually know the letters that correspond with the sound, but she likes to try and I like encouraging her.  She is going to follow Lexie in her eagerness to learn and read, I think.

PS, K Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

Our Routine For Now {baby #4 is 4 months old}

  • 7am baby up, nurse
  • 7:15-7:20ish I get Max up for mama and baby time while I give baby a bottle
  • Mister gets “the sisters” up =)
  • I cook breakfast, baby hangs out in bumbo or bouncer, older 3 do morning chores/get ready for day
  • everyone eats breakfast and we do our morning basket “stuff”
  • 8:25 baby down for nap
  • all 3 bigger kids go outside or downstairs to play until 9am
  • 9am we begin school
  • 10:30- it is time to get baby up and fed.  We are usually done with school by this point, Lexie may have some clipboard work to finish on her own for the rest of the week
  • 11:15 everyone has lunch
  • 12:00 baby takes nap, then I put Ila down for nap, bigs go outside to play
  • 12:45 Mister goes down for nap, Lexie has rest time reading books, mama writes blog posts, does chores, or rests
  • 2:00 time to get baby up for feeding- Lexie usually comes in to spend time with me and baby
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps, outside or downstairs to play or we run errands
  • 3:30 baby down for last nap, I prep dinner if not yet done
  • 5:00 Baby up, nurse
  • 5:30 everyone eats dinner, baby gets solids
  • bath, wind down, sometimes we watch a show like Mister Rogers, Bob the Builder, Boxcar Children, etc
  • 6:30 baby gets bottle and goes right to bed
  • 7:00 everyone in bed, unless Mister napped good then he and Lexie get to stay up a little later (but they’re always ready for bed-that’s what happens when you spend most of your day running around a farm!)
  • Mama and Daddy time- this is my favorite part about keeping a good routine while our kids are young~I get 1:1 time with my husband and we can unwind from our days together without little people needing us non stop.  It’s nice!

Not everything is set to a specific time, but naps and feedings are.  Everything else works around that, and just sort of falls into place; it is simple and flows well because I don’t have to force anything.

Coralie {4 months old}

Baby #4- wow.  She is already 4 months old (19 weeks) and SO happy.  The best thing I could have ever done for this baby is getting a good sleep schedule down- without it she would still be crying, fussy, unhappy, and unpredicatable.

Because of her eating and sleep routines I am able to pinpoint what she needs, she rarely cries (and if she does it is because something is wrong), and she sleeps very well as long as I hit her wake time right (too short results in a short nap, too long results in crying).


But the BEST part of her routine-she went from HATING going to sleep in her crib, to *loving* it.  Before about 15 weeks old, she cried every time I laid her down on the changing table to put on her sleep blanket (we use THIS ONE).  Now, the girl is happy, kicking, and ready to go to bed as soon as I zip her up!  We talks and babbles while I sing Jesus Loves Me, sucks/gnaws on her hand (teething), and when I lay her down she goes to sleep within 20 minutes.  Sometimes she fusses after talking for a bit, but never cries for me to get her.  IF she is crying-crying, I will go rub some oil on her gums or try to burp her and then lay her back down.  Then she usually drifts off to sleep.

She is still a very social girl, loves talking and playing.  She got a jumper from her grandparents for Christmas, which I had to let her play in early because A) babies outgrow things fast and it seemed silly to waste a whole month of having it but not using it and B) she is all about kicking these days.  She loves it.  This way she can see everyone and know what is going on, which is right up her alley.

She is eating every 3.5 hours, her wake time is anywhere from 85-95 minutes (lengthens as we go through the day), and she is experimenting with solids.  We have done soft boiled egg yolk, green beans, squash, carrots, and peaches.  She devoured all of them, and stares at us while we eat.  I think she is ready for more in her day, but honestly I am not ready to have to tote around baby food, spoons, bibs, etc every time we leave the house.  I already have to pack formula and hot water, so Im good for now.  I am going to try to get by without daytime solids until 6+ months.  She is only having them at our dinner time (5:30) now.

That is pretty much it for our weekly wrap up and summary.  We are just trucking through everything, enjoying it as we go.


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Homeschool Weekly Wrap Up {October 21, 2016}

The past few weeks have been so fun in our homeschool!  Everyone is growing by leaps and bounds and I love being being part of it; the big squeeze hugs Mister gives me after each word he reads while exclaiming, “I read another word!” makes every hard homeschool moment worth it.

We are reading about Pocahontas in our Beautiful Feet study right now; Lexie has already read the book to herself, but reading it aloud to all of the kids makes it fun and she takes that opportunity to ask for clarification about vocabulary words she doesn’t understand or parts of the plot that she wants further explanation about.

In math Lexie and Max have both enjoyed using cusinaire rods to learn about how numbers work with each other, build on each other, and to help with skip counting.  Lexie is moving through her math curriculum really well, pretty much on her own.  But she is thinking about numbers so much outside of school in her play and conversations with us, I knew she needed a little more number sense to build on to better understand the math she is exploring in every day life.


Next week we are going to use base ten blocks to explore place value, skip counting, and changing numbers.

Max is following along with us, but mostly enjoys using the manipulatives to build hammers and trucks.

Mister is reading!  He is so proud of himself; he has known his letter sounds for ages now.  A few months back he began sounding out words, but couldn’t quite blend the sounds together, even with modeling.  And about 2 weeks ago, it just clicked!  It was SO wonderful and fun; he asks to read new words every school day.  We are using This Reading Mama’s Reading the Alphabet curriculum in conjunction with AAR Level 1.  He loves the little books that TRM’s curriculum includes, as well as the activities.  Next week I told him we could start reading Bob Books if he wanted.

I think his favorite part about learning to read isn’t just that he can read, which is huge for his confidence, but that he gets 1:1 time with mama just for reading. =)  He is reading to his sisters, and to me whenever he can.  Hopefully he enjoys growing and learning more; we probably won’t move as quickly as Lexie did, but who knows?  I didn’t think he would want to read this early, but we enjoyed playing with letters and words until he did.  Surprise!

In science we are covering the sun; we are moving really slowly through our science curriculum, but we are enjoying it.  Lexie enjoys working through the journal and *loves* the crossword puzzles.  Mister is tagging along.  We made our first KWL chart so they could visualize and learn about organizing their thoughts. One thing I really loved using in college for my methods courses were graphic organizers.

Lexie and Max are both working through their handwriting programs.  Lexie’s handwriting has improved so much, but only shows when she really tries to write neatly (which she likes to do and surprise me).  At the end of each week she is excited to show me her final copywork which is a Bible verse.  She uses A Reason for Handwriting’s B program.  Max has been working on pre-writing skills with Handwriting Without Tears and loves it.  He sits in my lap while we practice the different strokes while he colors.  Soon he gets to begin writing letters in his book.

We have been spending lots of time outside in this beautiful fall weather!  The kids all went through an obsession with caterpillars a few weeks back when they were everywhere.  Now, we are covered in beetles that look like lady bugs!  So we are about to start learning a bit about them.

We are also doing some FIAR activities with our FIAR books as we want.  Mostly we are discussing parts of the stories for now, like character traits and social awareness.  I *love* *love* *love* FIAR and the books that it covers- it is just great literature!  And because I don’t feel like we have to do every. single. thing. in the guide, we can just enjoy and savor quality books.  (and I don’t have to go on a hunt and make lists of books .. less work for me!)

And of course we like to follow other interest led learning trails, so whenever we come across something they want to know more about we just dive in!

We love homeschooling because we can be eclectic.  We can use curricula we love, and do our own thing without any boundaries to hold us back.  It’s a beautiful way to structure their education and build that love for learning!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Beginning Our Gluten Free {GF) Journey

Well, the day has come. I’ve avoided it for a while, against my better judgement; but avoiding it seems to no longer be an option.


Max came into the world with a dairy protein allergy & with his little belly all a mess. He was a pretty miserable baby, despite a few periods of happiness. In general, he cried a LOT and was uncomfortable, suffering from reflux. We searched, prayed for direction, and through amazing circumstances were able to heal his gut through a homemade baby formula. (And make a few wonderful, life long friends along the way-so many blessings.)

As he has grown older, he has suffered from a non-stop stuffy nose and allergies to his environment. His immune system tends to be much weaker than the rest of ours; he is always sick worse and longer than we are. If we have a cold for a week, he has it for 3. If we have a stomach bug for 2 days, he has it for 5. I do everything I can to keep his immune system up (probiotics, bone broth, nutritious food, no dairy because he IS allergic to that, VERY limited sugar, 90% real food diet, etc).

But the one thing I haven’t done is remove gluten from his diet. He eats an egg sandwich every morning, and usually a sandwich at lunch right now (because with a newborn and 3 other tiny humans, I don’t have time to cook 3 hot meals right now). Dinners aren’t usually very wheat-filled, unless it is homemade lasagna or something with pasta, which isn’t often. We actually don’t consume a lot of wheat anyway.

But to substitute and change the wheat we do consume intimidates me. =/

But, in July our dentist (who is a holistic practitioner) was very adamant that we get Max off gluten; he was concerned about his lack of breathing through his nose, and how it is affecting his m0uth, and could further impact his heath. I told him if he told me to do it, I would.

But then the baby came, and life IS hectic at home, and I just let it go for a bit.

Then at our doctor appointment this week, she also recommended we get him off gluten. She said that a major cause of his symptoms could be not only a gluten intolerance, but lowering the inflammation caused from the gluten could greatly help his healing, breathing, and allergies in general.

Basically if gluten causes MORE inflammation in his body, then removing it can limit the immune response he is having to environmental allergens like dust, pollen, dander, etc.

Inflammation is inflammation- regardless of the symptom it shows itself as (in this case allergies and being unable to breathe with a constant congested nose).

His lungs are clear, there was no wheezing, so she doesn’t feel like it is asthma at this time.

So, here we go- beginning this journey. If going gluten free gets him back to his normal health, then I will just learn to make our lives gluten-free! I’ve found a lot of lovely recipes that I’m going to make for him if he is allergic to gluten but I haven’t made any of them yet. There is actually a lot of great gluten free foods available at the minute and I can’t wait to try some of them out if he does test positive.

Are you gluten free in your home? Please share any/all tips and info you can! I would love to learn from you. =)


Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2016/2017

Aaaah Every homeschool mama’s dream- getting the new school year’s supplies and curriculum all planned out and organized.

homeschool choices 20162017

As you all may know, we *love* Sonlight’s curriculum as our core- Bible, history, and read alouds. We also love their readers (books children learn to read on their own).

This past school year (2015/2016) we used Sonlight Core A with the intention of stretching it out over two years- I planned to do that by reading sequels to books, adding in lapbooks and other units, while alternating weeks of SL and these other things, etc.

Yea … so we still flew through it! The kids asked all the time to read our “learning time books,” and did not like me alternating some weeks of all the great read alouds and history books from SL in an attempt to stretch it out.

Because we didn’t stretch Core A over 2 years as planned, this left me with an extra year to fill- a year known in the homeschool world as a “gap year.”

As it turns out, SL revamped their cores for 2016, which means Core A has some new books added and some old ones removed! They also separated their language arts from the core itself. This helped me create a new plan for our next few school years.

Here is what we will do for the next few years:

  • 2016/2017- Gap Year using Beautiful Feet Early American History as core (ages 4 and 6)
  • 2017/2018- Revisit Sonlight Core A (ages 5 and 7)
  • 2018/2017- Begin Sonlight Core B (ages 6 and 8)

Why is this helpful? Because it means I can keep my two oldest in a Core together, and my two youngest (who are toddlers and a soon to be born baby) will core together when they are ready to begin. Inserting a gap year here puts my two oldest at the best possible ages for the Cores; with Sonlight it is generally better to be in the top of the age range than the bottom because book content is heavier as you get to Core D and the farther in cores you go the more chapter books you encounter.

Break Down of What We Will Use for 2016/2017

Last year my 3 year old tagged along for Core A, as I have mentioned, and learned to count to 100, ID all his letters and their sounds, and just found a love for learning (slooowly but surely). My oldest, 5 years old, loved every minute of Core A, and began reading anything she could get her hands on, including books on 3rd-4th grade level. She seriously just picks up any book and read it.

They both LOVED the pioneer era, so I thought for our gap year doing an Early American History study would work out well! We chose Beautiful Feet Books Early American Primary Jumbo Literature Pack for our curriculum this year. I am truly 100% excited!

We have done 2 years of other cultures/world history so I thought this year we could take a break from that (though I think I may have a couple of future ap world history students!) while we enjoy a little bit of studying closer to home, before we jump back into world cultures/world history with Core A again.

2017 Curriculum Choices (Kindergarten age 6, Preschool age 4)

Together we will all enjoy:

  • History/Core– Beautiful Feet E.A. History- this also incorporates copywork and writing
  • Bible- Reading from Egermeier’s Bible Story Book
  • Memory work (Bible verses, poems, etc that I have chosen)
  • Science- Apologia Science Astronomy second edition (oh my goodness we are LOVING this-review to come in September) used with the Jr. Notebooking Journal for Kindergartener, the preschooler will tag along/color pictures as we read
  • Art– Artistic Pursuits- we love this program, hands down

Kindergarten (age 6)

  • Reading– AAR Level 2/3- we are about half way through Level 2 now, so we will continue on to Level 3 once we are done
  • Readers– we will continue using Sonlight’s readers, as well as other first and second grade readers from the library
  • Spelling– AAS Level 1- we did not being AAS last year as I had planned (mama was just too sick/exhausted with pregnancy to add in anything else at the time) so we will begin it this year. Lexie is very concerned about how to spell her words and because her reading level is so advanced I figured this is a good time to gently introduce spelling.
  • Math– Saxon 1/2- we will finish Saxon 1 and move on to Saxon 2 this year. Max, the preschooler, will tag along using manipulatives to understand concepts instead of writing
  • Handwriting– we will use our faithful copywork, as well as A Reason for Handwriting book B
  • Writing– copywork, journal, and modeling (I plan to introduce more formal grammar/writing at 2nd grade level)

Preschool (age 4)

  • Reading- All About Reading Level 1 (mixed with some games from the Pre Reading level because he loves them)
  • Math- tag along using manipulatives to understand concepts instead of writing, learn to write numbers
  • Handwriting- Handwriting Without Tears Preschool or K book (I haven’t decided yet… he is still very much at the pre writing level, but I know Lexie flew through that stage once she got started, so we may just go to the K book first)
  • I plan to use lots of hands on and games with him; he loves puzzles and mazes, building things, and sports right now so there isn’t a ton of interest in paper and pencil learning just yet. I don’t want to burn him out or push him too young. He is excited about learning to read and write letters, but short of that it will be a lot of play.

Miss Tot (2)

Ila will tag along, get some one on one time with mama, and enjoy independent play during our school time. She is learning her shapes, colors, ABCs, and how to do puzzles right now. Really, she has mastered her puzzles and counting to 10, so we will just continue with songs, finger plays, and other tot-time learning for her. =)

In addition to our curriculum, we will do LOTS of play outside, work on the farm, and learn through nature.

So, as for now, these are our plans for homeschool this year! If things change or I add something (haven’t yet placed my last order..) I will do a part II and let you know.

What will your school year look like for 2016/2017?


Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Surviving Airplane Travel and Vacation with Small Children

Surviving Airport and Vacation with Small Children

As I write this post I am relaxing while my children take naps.
Our family (and I mean my husband’s ENTIRE family-18 of us) are all vacationing this week. It has been Ah-mazing, and has opened an opportunity for a good “how to survive…” post. If you’re not lucky enough to be able to hire a private jet with Jettly, read on!

So, here is it: How to Survive The Airport and Vacation with Small Children

1. Food- When all else fails FEED THEM. I packed a bazillion snacks for our plane ride. As a matter of fact, I carried an entire back pack full of snacks. Fussy? feed them. Ears hurt? Feed them. Tired but won’t sleep? Feed them. Bored? Feed them. Talking too loudly on a red eye flight? Feed them. (oh yea, if they’re hungry you should feed them too!)

Surviving Vacation & Airplanes with Small Children

2. Seating- On an airplane you can make sure your family’s seats are together by logging into your account online (or calling, I’m sure). Our planes had two rows of seats, 3 seats wide. So for us, with a family of 5, it was best to have: number 1 child at the window, number 2 next to number 1, then daddy on the aisle seat to help managed them, while mama sat across the aisle in the aisle seat, with baby. That way if we needed to hand/trade off we could. I could easily pass baby to daddy while I made her bottle/got her food out, etc. Also, brother (2.5yo) could come see me when he needed to. Also be sure to check your seating arrangements the day before you fly because they could have been changed without your knowledge!

3. One Activity- For us, drawing and writing is infinitely interesting to our kids, most of the time. Whatever it is that occupies your kids at home (that isn’t huge or require a lot of little pieces), take it with you for the plane and long lay overs in the airport! **Don’t take a TON of things. Chances are your kids will be just as content (if not more) having only one or two things to focus on. However, if your kids are at the “throw down and lose everything/have mom pick it up” stage, skip this entirely and let them play with the magazines on the plane!

4. Personal Backpacks– If your kids are 2 years and older, chances are they can carry a small to medium sized backpack with ease through the airport. With most airlines, each person that has a seat/ticket on the plane gets to take a carry on bag. That means even children can “carry” a bag on the plane. Take advantage of this! My daughter (4yo) took her own small backpack that had her “planner,” pen, a favorite book, and lovey for sleeping. In her brother’s backpack we carried them both a change of clothes, extra diapers for him (for sleeping and to prevent frequent bathroom breaks), and his sleeping lovey. Bringing a backpack is especially useful for long haul flights. We’re thinking of taking a trip to England since we found some good deals on stratford hotels. I’ve always wanted to visit that area but we’ve always been put off going due to the long flight. I might just wait until the kids are a little older though.

5. Change of clothes– This is HUGE. I never would have thought to take a change of clothes for the plane (this is my husband’s tip). But if you are flying over night, or all day long, a change of clothes can go a long way for everyone! Putting kids into their pajamas at night when they would usually be getting ready for bed sends a sleep que to them, and can help them be comfortable and relaxed. Also, a change of clothes (undies, shirt/yoga pants, shorts, or dress) for mom and dad is also nice. After all the loading, moving/running through airports it is nice to be able to change just your shirt. Don’t carry an entire new wardrobe, just enough to help you feel refreshed/clean/better.

6. Wear Baby- I found that wearing baby was a life saver! I didn’t really know how much I would use my carrier, but it turned out to be awesome. Now, don’t go get a carrier the week of vacation; you will want plenty of time to use it and get comfortable using it with and without help. I wore #3 on my front for the plane, and on my back at the beach. I did need help getting her in the carrier for my back because without a bed to drop her on (accidentally) I am just not comfortable doing it blind. What carrier should you get? That’s up to you; I love love love my Baby Hawk Mei Tai. There is also the BabyHawk baby Carrier that snaps! I sorta wish I had seen that one when I bought my mei tai before #3 was born… snaps are fast and easy, though not as versatile. (Just make sure you read how to properly wear baby, please! High on your chest/back, no facing outward, etc)

7. Sleep!- Let them sleep! I know on vacation it is hard to stop all the fun and going/doing for naps. But, for us, everyone is much happier and can go and do much, much more if they are well-rested. If the kids are exhausted and can’t function, how can you have a good time?! So, take a few hours, go rest, then get up refreshed and ready to go! The best way to get refreshed and energized by a good nap is if you’re staying in a beautiful and welcoming hotel while vacationing, like Boutique Hotel Downtown San Jose. This way, you and your child can rest up with a comfy bed while staying in luxury!

8. This thing: Trust me, you need it! Leave the pack n play at home and carry this for travel sleeping arrangements; we LOVE ours

What’s your favorite tip for traveling, flying, & vacationing with little ones?

Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2015/2016 (K5 & Preschool)

Curriculum Choices K5 & Preschool 20152015 {}

Wow- I can’t believe I just typed in title! This year has truly snuck up on us; but alas, I am ready! (I think ..)

I am going to break this down by child/age. It is hard with Lexie, mainly because she is 4.5 years old, 5 in the fall, and doing a mix of kindergarten and first grade work, but is still not old enough to register for school. So while she will be doing mostly first grade and K work, I am not sure what to tell you in terms of “grade” for you to compare or look at for your child. This will be her K5 year (next year will be K6 and she will start 1st when she is 7).
I would recommend looking at the curriculum’s scope and sequence for each level, and ALWAYS do their placement test (at least look over what will be taught in that level and what prerequisite skills are needed to be successful). I will say, Lexie probably didn’t HAVE to begin with AAR Level 1, but I am SO thankful we did because she got that firm foundation before moving on. I know a few parents can get overwhelmed with the school curriculum, which is totally understandable as we’re not professional teachers and have no idea how to even do this work half the time, so seeking advice or a little help can be really useful when setting work for children. Some parents choose for their child to use a tutoring Adelaide service and others choose to use online tools, like YouTube, but whatever the method is, as long as children are learning something it’s all worthwhile.

Good foundation ALWAYS trumps advancement in my opinion, no matter the subject.

Lexie (4.5/5 in the fall, working on K and 1st Grade Level)

  • Core: Sonlight Core A– (history/cultures, geography,Bible) We did P4/5 last year and Lexie just flew through it; she never skipped a beat and I swear she still talks about some of the stories which I have long forgotten … She LOVES it, and so does Max. So we will do Core A next, and Mister (and Ila, too) will sit in with us. I plan on stretching this core 18-24 months, and using it as her “Kindergarten” year curriculum (when she is 6 and we register with the state). We are adding in LOTS of sequels, and I will probably buy the Five In A Row literature pack from RRC (I already have the teacher’s book and a few of the read alouds) to add in also to help stretch it out. This core is SO exciting; we get to begin our timeline book, learn more about geography, look at maps, and expand our learning tremendously! It will be fun!

Language Arts:

  • All About Reading Level 2– Here, AAR is going to give her all the reading skills she needs
  • All About Spelling Level 1– They suggest beginning AAS when your student starts AAR Level 2. From what I have seen this will mostly just reinforce the reading rules she already knows and teach encoding. For all intents a purposes, we will say she will be 5, which is young for a spelling program; but after looking at the scope and sequence, I think she can do it and it will help with her writing. If we aren’t ready, we can shelve it til she is =)
  • Sonlight Language Arts 1- this is really just for extra practice; I like that they include spelling words, narration, comprehension questions, and copywork so I thought we would use it mainly for that. I bought some of the readers, but not all of them. We will just see how we like it. (I don’t feel like their LA’s is “enough” for us, so we will use it as a supplement)


  • Saxon Math K– we were going to use Saxon K this past year, but I just continued on with Singapore K (early bird). Because Lexie isn’t registering for school I am going to use this as a “review,”/nail in the foundation year for math. Plus Saxon will go a bit further & deeper than Singapore did. It will start very basic, but that is fine with us. Max will probably sit in on some of the more basic lessons.


  • Elemental Science– I went around and around on our science choice for over a year. Every single time I landed back on ES. So I finally said, Okay! This is it! You may have read that we enjoy the Charlotte Mason and Classical Education models. I like teaching and organizing this way, and the kids seems to thrive learning with these models (for now), so it is a win win. ES is a classical/CM combo curriculum, and I like that! I will do another post entirely on why we chose ES some other time.


  • Gymnastics at a local gym
  • Violin lessons with a local teacher
  • ARTistic Pursuits (best art curriculum EVER)

Max (2.5/3 yo in fall) Preschool

Ah, I can’t believe I just wrote my baby will be “doing” preschool. Honestly, I am not sure where to begin with him. haha

Mister is definitely a boy- he is developing much faster physically than Lexie was at this age, and isn’t quite where she was cognitively at this age. (for instance, he just started gymnastics and is MUCH better at it than Lexie was when she was 2/5, but he isn’t reading cvc words like she was at that age, either).

  • Before Five In a Row: You know I love some BFIAR! It is easy, fun, and means lots of snuggles with my baby. He *loves* the stories and I think he will really enjoy all the activities, too. My favorite resource for all things homeschool is Rainbow Resource Center- they almost always have the best prices, and here is their literature pack. Trust me when I tell you, you cannot buy all those books, even used, at that price; many of them are also out of print so to get them brand new from RRC is pretty awesome!
  • Language Arts– I know a lot can change in just a few months, but for right now I don’t think Max is ready for ThisReadingMama’s curriculum. Whenever he is, that’s what we will use as a supplement and beginning curriculum. I think maybe by fall or Christmas he will be ready to start! Until then, we will just review a letter a week or so, and continue with BFIAR. The other option is when he is to start him on AAR Pre-Reading; I never used that with Lexie, we just did our own thing to learn those skills, so I may just teach him myself without a curriculum.
  • Math: I don’t have anything in particular ready for Max and math. We have a TON of manipulatives and will just use them to learn basic math concepts and number sense- 1:1 correlation, sorting, patterns, more/less, etc. We are already playing with some of those concepts and will just continue down that path. Also, we will work on recognizing his numbers (he surprised me the other day by recognizing way more than I thought he knew!), and counting past 20.
  • Play, Play, Play, Play, Play! We will play a LOT. He is not my desk learner; he does LOVE to join us for learning time, he enjoys sitting at the counter and writing and listening in on Lexie’s lessons, but he isn’t ready for a long stretch of school yet, and that’s A-Okay! So we will play and learn through play.
  • Sitting in- Mister will sit in on our read alouds, join us for science lessons (and probably keep his own little science notebook), and anything else he shows an interest in.
  • Extracurricular- He has started gymnastics and *loves* it. He keeps asking about violin, but unlike Lexie I don’t think he will be ready at 3. So, we will see if he still shows interest as he gets older.

That’s it! That is our curriculum choices for 2015/2016.


Charlotte Mason Handicrafts for the young {finger knitting}

Our homeschool is a mix of the Charlotte Mason and Classical Education models.  Charlotte Mason is a literature rich, and gentle method of learning; she recommends school aged (or as they show interest and ability without frustration) children complete 3 handicraft projects per year.

My daughter loves to watch (and join) me while I sew, embroider, cut fabric, paint, construct DIY projects, etc.  This past winter while I was knitting, she asked if she could learn.  Knitting is simple enough, but using the needles with 4 year-old dexterity is the tricky part.  We did work on it together, and she did a great job, but it isn’t something she is quite ready to do alone.

Lexie is 4.5 and as I mentioned, has always shown interest in my personal crafts.  She has reached an aged where her dexterity is getting better, and she is ready to try some handicraft projects (which she loves!) she can enjoy by herself and/or with assistance.

While reading over the Simply Charlotte Mason website a while back, I printed off their list of handiworks recommended and finger knitting caught my eye.  So I youtubed how to do it. This past Saturday while snuggling during the babies’ naps, Lexie asked if she could knit.  I immediately thought of the finger knitting method, and how that would probably be a great foundation for future knitting; not to mention it would build her confidence.

So we grabbed some yarn from my yarn bag and went to work.  I turned on the youtube video I’d watched before and Lexie was so excited to learn!  I think she did a great job.  She told her daddy, “I am so, so proud of myself for learning to knit all by myself!”

Charlotte Mason Handicrafts {finger knitting}


Here is the video we used:


Do you incorporate Charlotte Mason principals into your homeschool?  What about handicrafts?

Sonlight P4/5 Read Alouds and Weekly Wrap Up (MOY 14/15)

Well, we are in our 27th week of Sonlight P4/5 and *loving* it.  Homeschool this year has been wonderful for all of us.  This is a Middle Of Year 2014/2015 Update.

We love Sonlight and have enjoyed most of the read alouds immensely.  So far our favorites (and by “our” I mean Max-2yo and Lexie’s-4yo) have been Uncle Wiggly, Milly Molly Mandy, the art book, The Berenstain Bears’ Science Book, and they both love the Bible storybook we are using this year-101 Favorite Stories from the Bible.

I will say I was a little annoyed with the Berenstain Bears book by the time we finished reading it, but the kids loves it!  And The Favorite Stories from the Bible book is very honest and straight forward, which I love.  I only chose to skip one story, about Cain and Abel, but the rest we have read and discussed openly.  Lexie has been able to answer all the questions at the end of each story, and Max has been able to answer a few, too.  But they both ask to get it off the shelf often.

MOY Summary and Weekly Wrap Up {2014/2015}

Lexie’s Homeschool (4yo)

Lexie is reading so much- she brings me books from downstairs that she has read all by herself, and rereads them to me.  She is learning to read th and sh words in All About Reading.  We really love this program!

Her handwriting has improved drastically- we began writing on just blank pages (which is developmentally appropriate), moved on to large lined dry erase board, and now practice on both first grade lined dry erase board and on lined paper.  Her copywork consists of practicing letters, words, and writing simple sentences at this point.  She loves to write and writes letters to everyone about everything, for every occasion.  She also enjoys drawing pictures.  HWT has definitely helped us accomplish this!

Math is still just number sense; she has been coloring graphs, working on perception, and counting backwards.  We have also introduced number lines in a very simple manner, and she understands them.  She can do simple addition using manipulatives, but we haven’t worked on number sentences yet.  She is still only 4, so while we do things she enjoys & she would probably enjoy that, I don’t think we are ready for that yet.  To me, getting a good foundation in number sense is very important before moving on.

Science is random activities, youtube videos, books from our SL core, and anything the kids show an interest in.  We will use a science curriculum next year (Elemental Science) as an intro to sciences but we won’t do it very strictly.  It will introduce nature studies more formally, and how to keep a science notebook.

Max’s “homeschool” (2yo)

Mister loves joining us for learning time.  His favorite things are definitely: sorting by color, glueing, and using scissors.

We are working on reinforcing his letter recognition and learning to identify his numbers.   I have started introducing the “little” letters along with their “big letters” when we play around with IDing letters of the alphabet.  Lexie was just so visual; You told her what a letter was one time and she knew it.  Max doesn’t seem to learn that way, so I am trying to find his learning style.

He listens in on our read alouds and enjoys that time snuggling (or running around, building with blocks ..).  I am actually amazed when he is “writing” and coloring, he holds his markers and crayons correctly, naturally.  That was not a skill that came naturally to Lexie, I still have to correct the way she holds her pencil at times.

It has been such a mild winter, compared to the previous two years in NE.  But, I think January got confused with March, because it has been colder in Feb and march than it was in January and December.  So, outside time has been a little limited this winter.  We haven’t done any nature walks or nature studies lately.  We cannot wait for spring to finally arrive (and stick around..)!

I am planning out our curriculum for next fall.  We will continue SL P4/5 through the spring/summer, taking off the month of June for vacation, and then continue with some learning time here and there until fall.  In the fall, I plan to start Sonlight Core A with Lexie, Max will sit in while also enjoying BFIAR books.  I will use my favorite free online curriculum from ThisReadingMama, for his PreK (OMG how is it possible he will be 3?!).  Together we will all do Bible, history, and read alouds, science activities, and some art.  Then they will each have their own “work” for reading and math.

That’s it!  This is our middle of the year update; I can’t wait to see how we end this year.

How is your school year going so far?

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