Fieldtrip: Hiking The Mountain

September 2018

Ever since we moved here, we have wanted to hike the mountain behind our house.  Blaine hiked it last year and wanted to take us along, but I wasn't in the right frame of mind to hike it last year.  This fall was the perfect time.  One Thursday when he didn't have to be to his internship until noon, we got on our jackets, ate a quick breakfast and set out for the mountain. 

We made it to the top and could see all over the valley from it.  It was beautiful and I was so proud of our kiddos for being such troopers.  We had some good conversation on the way up and back and it was such a bonding experience hiking up the beautiful and in some parts treacherous mountainside.

At the top, the hymn How Great Thou Art came to my mind and so I sang the first verse to them.

How Great Thou Art
by Stuart K. Hine

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the *worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the *rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r thru out the universe displayed;

When thru the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze,

And when I think, that God, his Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin,

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, 
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, "My God, how great thou art!"

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art

*Author's original words are works and mighty

Now that the hike is said and done, would we do it again with 4 little kids?  Probably not  that hike again ;) But so glad we got to check it off our bucketlist and make that memory. We only had one bruised bum and cut hand from the hike down :)

In Curly's words in Oklahoma, it was "Oh, what a BEAUTIFUL morning" and is even a more beautiful memory now that I am typing this!

Little side note: Did you know that Blaine starred as Curly his his highschool's rendition of Oklahoma? He had a dreamy voice, even way back then!

The Diaries of a 30-Year-Old Homeschooler

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hello World! Here is sit in my basement.  It's 9:23pm. My kiddos are all in bed.  I can hear the girls chattering themselves to sleep.  I can smell a pumpkin spice candle burning.  That is one of my favorite smells in the entire world.  I feel at peace and it's nice to sit down at the end of a long day.  This is the last night I have to be 30 years old so I am feeling kind of reminiscent and mindful. My head is full of thoughts and my heart is full of feelings.

I have been wanting to post for quite some time about probably one of the biggest things in my world right now...homeschool.  It is something I can't get enough of and something that some days can't end soon enough.  It is something that exhilarates me and something that exhausts me.  It is something that I am incredibly proud of and something that I sometimes feel doubtful about.

The bottom line is this.  I feel inspired to do homeschool right now. Period. I know God wants me to do it.  It has caused me to search deep within myself, to continue to seek revelation from God, to have courage to stand up to others that may not agree with this choice.  It has caused me to cry, to laugh, to have joy with my kids.  I am so grateful that God has this in mind for me and my family during this time in my life.  I love it overall!

I feel like homeschool is a lifestyle.  I like to think of it as lifeschool.  The first year I started, I felt that I was worried about teaching my kids their ABC's and 123's.  But at the end of last year and especially this year, I have realized the magnitude and impact of the example I am setting for them.  Are they learning to be Christlike in their love for others because of how I treat them during the day?  Are they learning to be patient and calm even when we need to hurry to get out the door to be someplace?  Are they seeing me love learning and reading so much that they want to do the same? Are they learning to be courageous and strong and to stand up for truth because they see me doing that?  Do they know I love God and want to serve him and his children?

These are obviously ideals and don't happen everyday.  But they are the main thing I focus on while we are doing all the scholastic things.

I wanted to journal a little about how I do homeschool, so when I look back in 20 years, I can remember how I did it.  This schedule is 2 years in the making.  The first year I did homeschool, I felt like there were 7 bad days and then one good.  Last year was about half good days and half bad.  This year I feel like we have 7 good days and 1 bad.  I think this is due to a lot of help from God, and also all the ideas I have collected from different people and finding out what works for us!

Each morning, the day goes in this order...usually :)
  • Wake up and do their "Top 5" (Make your bed, say your prayers, brush your teeth and comb your hair, and get dressed)
  • Breakfast (We usually read or listen to the Book of Mormon during this time and maybe read a Friend article)
  • Chore Time: Each child and me do 2 or 3 chores.  Some are set.  Others are what are needed in that moment.
  • Task Time (Mom and each child have tasks that take about 20 minutes or a half hour in total.  They include reading scriptures, stretching, wondering, practicing piano, handwriting, math). Sometimes I use this time to change babies, or feed babies depending on when they woke up.
  • School Time (Our opening routine includes pledge, date, prayer, scripture, song that we are memorizing, poem we are memorizing, positive affirmation fuzzy jar, morale, chapter book read aloud, and plan for the day) Then depending on the day of the week we do something different. 
    • On Monday and Wednesday, each of the kids get individual learning time with me.  I help each of them with a specific thing they need help on, like reading, or writing,  explaining a new math concept, doing flash cards, or just reading a book to the 2 littles)
    • On Tuesday and Thursday we do group learning that includes Science, Writing, PE, Thank You's, Art, and sometimes Geography or a holiday specific activity. We don't get all of these done every day.  We usually do 2 or 3.
    • Friday is Fun-Day!  We either do a field trip or everything is turned into a learning game.
    • We are usually done with school about 1:30 every day.  Then it's quiet time/free time til' dinner.

I love the freedom to choose the curriculum that I love for each subject.  We have tried quite a few, but these are the ones I am currently using:
  • Math: Khan Academy, worksheets, and grade level work books, math flash cards and games( I check to make sure they are meeting the core standards)
  • Reading:  (How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Reading Lessons for A, Chapter Books for H)
  • Spelling/Grammar/Language Arts: (The Good and The Beautiful)
  • Science: (The Good and The Beautiful Space Unit, space worksheets, $1 from Target Dollar Isle Science Projects)
  • Geography (Free printable maps, online songs to help them learn continents of world, childrens books about different places in the world)
  • Chapter Book Read-A-Louds: Currently listening to the Little House on the Prairie series in the car as we run errands, any classic great book that is understandable for my kids to listen to that is above their reading level so they learn more vocabulary
  • PE: They pretty much just play outside for this.  Hyrum is on a flag football team right now.  Sometimes we make up games or have races or obstacle courses in our back yard.  We also visit the park regularly
  • Field Trips: Our field trips lately have been on Thursday because Blaine has that morning off right now.  We have hiked the mountain twice behind our house.  We have also been to the park.  I want fieldtrips to be fun for me too!  After Blaine doesn't have Thursdays off anymore and the weather gets cold, we will do more things inside (tour a bakery, visit the recycling plant, firestation, etc.) But while it is nice weather right now, we want to soak up the outdoors all we can.
  • Art: Usborne Art Treasury
  • Music: Pandora Vivaldi Channel while we are having task time, and a song book I got for free entitled, Singing On Our Way
  • Other: One of the most rewarding things for homeschool this past year has been having special guests come talk about different parts of the world that they have visited or lived in.  We have had quite a few family members share slide shows, teach songs, show maps or other about different parts of the world. I would like to do Christmas Around the World this year with that same idea in mind of having special guest speakers.
Anyway, all this being said, homeschool definitely doesn't look just like I have typed it above.  This is the ideal.  The lessons are interspersed with tantrums, games of hide-and-seek to keep a 3 year old happy and changing poopy diapers.  But that is just life, and I am learning to be ok that these interruptions are a part of my school, and I have to remember that God knew there would be interruptions and He still wants me to do this.  So it will all work out ok!

Here are a few pictures of school as of late:

We had a Back to School Dinner the night before school started (inspired by my sisters.)  Meet the school crew:

 ^Baby Jane Jane

 ^Dr. B



 ^Principal Dad

 ^Teacher Mama

We had a super fun art lesson one day in our backyard.  We learned about the artist Alberto Giacometti and his famous statue entitled "The Square". Then we created our own tin foil statues...well the older kids and  I did, while the younger two kids played in the sandbox and mosied around the yard.

 ^Oh that smile.  And oh, his laugh.  I want to freeze him at this stage or bottle up his laugh for forever!

 ^I can't get enough of this little sweetie!

 ^My first tin foil statue.  Ice cream anyone?

 ^Hyrum's guy was so cool.  It could actually move it's legs and arms!

 ^Afton made a giant taffy.  The best part was is she stuffed it with green grass.  It was one tasty green taffy :)

 ^Benson wanted me to make him a turtle in a shell :)

^My final tin foil statue entitled "Arms open wide" signifying a mother who is loving and forgiving and always has her arms open wide to her children.  This is the ideal of what I want to become.

Oregon Coast Finale: Heading Home

August 2018

Oregon Coast was a dream!  So different than what I imagined it to be but oh so wonderful! 

I loved driving through the forest all along the coast!  That was something I wasn't expecting...for teh coast to be so forested.  But it was a pleasant surprise. 

I also loved seeing the towns all along the way and seeing how fun all the shops looked.  I wanted to visit all of them.

I asked Blaine when we got home what he would do differently next time...we both had the same things in mind.  Hindsight is 20/20 and this was our first big roadtrip, so it was definitely a learning experience for us.  We just planned to fit way too much in and went too many places.  Next time we would do what we did in one trip and split it into 3 trips.  Here is how we would break it up:

  • The Redwoods: Klamath tour thru tree, Fern Canyon, Stout Grove, Trees of Mystery
  • Southern Oregon: Spend three nights in Crescent City (hike to lighthouse, see harbor and sea lions, beach time) and 3 nights in yurt at Harris Beach State Park
  • Northern Oregon: Spend 2-3 nights in Newport (whale watching beach time, lighthouse, beach time, seafood and sweets, go to Tilamook), 3 nights in Manzanita or Cannon Beach (beach time, souvenir shopping, Short Sand Beach, Ecola State Park, Sea Level Bakery for amazing bisquits)
All that being said, I wouldn't change how we did this trip because now we have a good idea of what we loved and what we would do differently next time.  It is super fun to explore new places and travel and this has ignited the travel bug in me.  Bring on the long family road trips each summer, but bring along Dramamine and extra barf bags :)

As we traveled home, we stopped at Multnomah Falls.  It was a beautiful location and fun to break up the drive.  Also the drive along the Columbia River was amazing.  We drove all night to get home!

Oregon Coast Part 7: Family Pics at Haystack Rock

August 2018

So a huge important thing to me on this trip was getting sunset pictures on the beach.  Of course, there is no ideal or convenient time for family pictures (all of us coordinating outfits, just the right lighting, etc.).  So they took place the last night of our vacation.  But it couldn't have turned out to be a more perfect night for pictures.  The sunset was amazing. And the famous Haystack Rock could not have been a more stellar backdrop for our pictures.  Our tri-pod and picture timer took pictures for us, which made me a little nervous, but we didn't have any other options.  I am thrilled with how they turned out.

I especially love how the pictures captured some very real expressions and smiles on each of our faces.  Of course they aren't perfect, but the pictures were the perfect way to spend our last evening on the beach.

Just to keep things real though, we had to park up this super steep hill, walking ten minutes  through little winding street to get to the beach.  As we got to the beach Benson loudly said, "I am poopy!" Do you think we remembered a diaper and wipes...nope!  Luckily he was still really cheerful and cooperated to take pictures because there was no time to grab a diaper or we would have missed the perfect lighting :)  Good memories!

One more fun thing about tonight was meeting a pastor's wife.  Her and her husband were on vacation.  She is at the opposite stage or raising kids, hers have all left the house.  Talking to her put a lot of mothering things in perspective for me.  Isn't it interesting how God puts people in our path who help us have a broad new perspective?