Homeschool Summer Schedule

To School or Not To School During the Summer

So what I have found for my kids during the summer is that they tend to get into trouble or beg to watch too many shows or play too many video games if we don’t have any structure at all.  So I have found that even though it is summer and we all want a break, it really helps to have some structure. It seems that we end up doing some academic work/ homeschool about 3 days a week in the summer.  It also helps come fall because we don’t have to do much review, doing a little bit in the summer keeps the concepts fresh, and all the playing of the summer makes school exciting come fall.




The Weekly Break Down

One day a week goes to a field trip or the beach, and 1 day goes to playing with friends, going on a hike, shopping or doing whatever.  The other 3 days that we tend to be home– we try really hard to do our chores well– keep up the house and the stuff that has to happen to live well.  I just add academics to the chore list– 1-2 pages of math, a minimum of 20 minutes of reading, a little bit of Greek, 1 page in Word Study and Grammar Practice and practicing the piano everyday.  We don’t have group time except at night I will read to them and I do try to read and sing with the younger kids at least 3 days a week.
The older kids tend to have their projects they are working on, so as long as they are caught up on their studies, they are free to pursue their projects, reading and interests.  If we are extra busy, or have gone on lots of outings or are on the road, then we won’t do any academics at all.  We usually only do academics when we are home all day.  The structure seems to help get the kids thinking of other things they can do and prevents the whole boredom issues of summer.  But kids need time to just be and just play, so academics is really low on the summer priority list.  We really just play it by ear, if they are happy and keeping themselves out of trouble and keeping up with their few chores, then that is enough for me– if they need more structure, don’t seem quite so happy, then they get assigned more stuff.  There is usually a reward involved– like screen time and that motivates them.

summer_3Managing Screen Time

But it is important to keep control of the screens or they will take over.  When it gets to be too much, we have taken completely screen free weeks.  It seems that taking a week off is enough to reset and it no longer becomes such a need to the kids.  We keep screen time limited anyway.  I may let them play for 15 minutes each day when they are all done with their chores, piano and school work for the day.  They don’t get to play at all unless they have done some academic work.  They get to play longer on Fridays and Saturdays.  They earn 1 hour for doing their Saturday jobs and 1 hour for finishing all their work for the week.  They can earn more minutes by doing extra chores around the house that I approve.  We try really hard to make sure everybody plays at the same time so that we can have hours of no screens.  I let them watch shows in the evening while I make dinner or if I have errands to run.  I will make them watch a French show, an educational show and then they can take turns picking a regular show. We will also save the screen time for when my husband and I go on dates or for when I go running.  But it is a great motivator in helping the kids get their work done, and they love it, so screens are definitely an integral part of our lives.


Final Thoughts

So that is pretty much it for our summers.  Lots of time at the lake, at the beach, at the park and just lying around at home.  Parades on the 4th of July, camping, bar-b-ques, get togethers, trips and lots of fun are the main focus of our summers.  I love summer!!  This summer will be interesting, we have pretty much started our summer schedule as I want to finish emptying our house for our move to France so we can get in some beach days and field trips before we leave this blessed area.  Then in France it will be a whole new experience learning the language, figuring out exactly what we will be doing for school and extra curriculars.  Learning how to travel around on the train, finding the good beaches, lakes and hikes there as well visiting lots of historical places.  It will be and adventure.


What are you looking forward to this summer? What is your summer schedule like?  Every summer does seem a little different. I can’t wait!! Summer here we come!!



Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

Moving To France

So we will be moving to France this summer! We have been working on it and moving towards it for awhile.  These are the most common questions I am asked about it:


Why are you going?

My husband is a computer programmer.  He works from home and he is good at his job.  Living overseas is something we have always kind of wanted to do.  I grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and traveled a lot before I got married.  My husband lived in Korea for 2 yrs. serving a 2 yr. mission for our church and lived in Australia for a summer when he was 16, and loves travel and languages.  Our priorities changed when we had kids, we thought we would just live a quiet life.  I had never lived in any one place for more than 4 yrs.  I wanted to know what it was like to live in the same place and know everybody and be part of a community.  Well it turned out that even though you might stay, your friends may leave.  And that along with other factors after having the twins got us thinking about past desires.  Once the twins were potty trained we left Utah for a new experience in New Hampshire (which we have loved and consider home), and now that our youngest will be 4 this summer and our oldest is 17 and will be a senior next year– it is do it now with everybody or later with only a few.

How did you set it up?

So my husband starting talking with bosses almost 2 yrs. ago to let them know that he was interested in any overseas work openings.  There was a possibility that he would get a position in Singapore.  When that didn’t pan out, my husband asked if they would be OK with us just moving to another country paying our own way , with my husband doing his same job.  They were find with that so we proceeded to make arrangements.

Why did you pick France?

We started doing research on the different countries.  We wanted to go somewhere that is pretty first world for safety with the number of kids we have.  That pretty much cut out Latin America and Africa, and then we decided that Asia was probably too different for our first time overseas. Then we wanted a country that spoke another language as that is a huge advantage in many ways for the kids as they grow.  So that pretty much left Europe. Then we looked at the homeschooling laws for the various countries– that eliminated Germany and most the Nordic countries.  We looked at Belgium but the housing seemed pretty strict– you couldn’t get a lease for less than 3 yrs.  France looked like it had plenty of options, big enough houses that would fit our family for a 1 yr. lease.  Italy also looked like a good option.  Ultimately, we really like French people, the culture and the language.

What are your arrangements?

And we eventually found a biggish house on airbnb in Brittany.  Airbnb really changes the housing situation for us, because we are not committed to a full year lease, we just have to give 30 days notice to leave and we pay month to month.  So that really cuts down on the risk, given that we can leave at anytime if we don’t like it anymore.  We also bought our plane tickets super cheap through Norweigian Air– about $230 per person one way.  Of course if we want to check luggage, or have a meal, or have an assigned seat, we would have to pay extra.  But it works for us.  And then we were all set- plane tickets bought and housing set– that was in about November, I think. Then we had to figure out the visa. I had corresponded with the consulate and reviewed the visa process and it looked like they would give us a long term visitor visa when the time came.  They said that you cannot apply for a visa more than 90 days before your departure date.  So when the 90 days got closer, my husband again reminded his company of the arrangement.  They looked into it some more and decided to sponsor us.  We just got word that our business visa application was approved.  All that is left is to pass an interview with the consulate in Boston.  Looks like we will be all ready for when our flight is scheduled to leave!!  Yay!!  We thought we might have to camp somewhere for a week.  That was great news!!

What is your Current Status?

We are clearing out the house now.  Our first yard sale was Saturday, we sold some big items and our friends cleared out the food storage and preparedness items, so that was awesome!!  I took everything left over to Goodwill, about 4 trips!  It has been a huge effort.  I hate cleaning and organizing, packing and moving.  But it has felt really good to get so much done.  And I have found a couple long lost books and items I have been missing the past 2 yrs.  We may have another yard sale the last Sat. before we leave because we want to hold on to the washer and dryer as long as possible.  We will get rid of all our kitchen stuff, dishes, pots and pans, etc., then, also the TV and the meager, lousy furniture and stuff that we have left.  We will rent a storage space for our momentos and some of the kids’ memories, and then ship our school books and scrapbooks, maybe the ukuleles.  But we are pretty much only going to be able to take our clothes and our current school books.  For the amount it would cost to ship or store, we can buy new.

Boxes ready to fill
Boxes ready to fill
Shelf in the garage almost empty
Shelf in the garage almost empty
Closets clearing out
Closets clearing out

We purposefully rented because we sort of did this exact same thing 2 1/2 yrs. ago when we moved from Utah to New Hampshire.  We were not sure how long we would be here, etc.  So fortunately we don’t have to worry too much about the house here.  Although our landlady has been very nice, she wanted to put the house on the market in May, but we were no where near being ready to show it at all.  So the realtor comes on Friday.  It is really good for us to have a definite deadline like that.  We got a lot of the kids’ rooms done on Memorial Day, I’m hoping to get the school room, and the rest of the upstairs done today.  That will leave the kitchen and the downstairs closet, and then a 3rd going over the boxes in the garage.  I am going to have let even more go.  But it surprisingly is getting much easier and is super exciting.  We are also moving to our summer school schedule, packing, cleaning and moving is our priority now.  Plus I have to figure out how to get to Plymouth,  Cape Cod, and Salem before we leave.  I’d love to drive up Mt. Washington and go the beach a ton too!  And make sure we get to spend time with our good friends here.

So wish me luck!  It is an adventure for sure.  Have  you had experience living overseas?  Have you ever had to get rid of most of your stuff?  Do you have any advice to share?  Thanks for reading!

Take care!!





Homeschooling Methods Summarized!

How to Homeschool — Different Methods

There are many ways to homeschool, it can feel overwhelming in fact with all the options.  There is everything from a Traditional all in one curriculum to unschooling where you learn as you pursue your interests.  This will be a brief synopsis of each type just so you can get your bearings and know your homeschooling options.  Traditional, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Eclectic.




This is basically school at home.  This is a great place to start, but as many homeschoolers find, it is hard to duplicate the public school at home and they branch out to finding more efficient ways to learn things based on their child’s strengths and weaknesses.  It is comforting for those especially starting out to feel like they are covering the subjects that need to be covered.  It is also  nice to not have to worry too much about planning– it is all laid out, and then you can just implement it.  There are lots of curriculums to choose from for this- Calvert School and K-12 being the first that come to mind.  There are definitely others.


It is so great to live in this tech world with information at our fingertips.  Online schools tend to be more expensive, but it is nice to get a grade and many of them include a teacher that will interact with the students and keep them on track and help when needed.  Here in New Hampshire we have, it runs as a free charter school for New Hampshire students.  The courses my kids have taken have been very thorough and very good.  The teachers have been nice and it was good for my older kids especially to have deadlines and feedback.  The downside is that it is all on the computer, it would be nice to have a paper textbook and then tests online.  But at any rate, it is a great option also.


The classical approach to education is for the kids to learn Latin, read old classic texts in Latin and Greek, understand the foundations we have inherited from the classical Roman and Greek cultures– specifically Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric.  The Trivium by Sister Miriam Joseph and Climbing Parnassas by Tracy Lee Simmons have some of the best descriptions and explanations for what exactly that all means.  It is great just to understand what education was meant to be and what type of education has been taught for centuries.  The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer is another way to approach this type of education.  I think her information is very good although not as strong in math and science and I would prefer.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a teacher at a private English school in the late 1800s into the early 1900s.  She has a whole series of books that some of my friends highly recommended to me, I only read The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola.  Anyway, literature and living books are the main source of learning and teaching in her method.  There is a lot of good information and advice in her books and in her method.  There are also lots of sites to help people with this method.  Some of my favorite online living books list – all Free is .  The whole idea of learning from books and stories is really great and it is nice to have so many ready to learn from at that site.


This is a method spearheaded by John Holt. Here is a link to an amazon search of his many books for a more in depth study.  Basically you follow the interests of the child and incorporate learning into everyday activities.  You don’t push things if the child is not ready, because in this theory it will be much more efficient when they are ready, math for example.  This works great for some people and not so well for others.  I think you can get some good things out of it, but for me I have found that persevering through tough things like math and piano are important, kids don’t generally want to keep going when it gets difficult, but that is a necessary character trait.  However, like I said, some families are able to make it all fun and turn out amazing kids using this method.


Finally, we have my favorite- the eclectic method.  Basically you do your research and then pick your favorite aspects and do what works for your family and your situation and your students.  Some of my favorite books for helping to understand the public school system and the paradigm those of us who were publicly educated may need to evaluate are the books by John Taylor Gatto — Dumbing Us Down and A Different Kind of Teacher — are my favorites.  Dumbing Us Down is really short and will give you confidence in homeschooling, so if you only read one extra book on this post, read that one!!  All his books are great, I think the greatest thing I gained from his books is the idea of how important it is to have time to just be and do nothing– especially for kids.


In closing I would just like to point out that while it may be helpful to understand the different methods and to choose one, it is ultimately the final result you are working towards that really matters. That result may come through one method or various methods.  It is probably more important to research and figure out what your child needs to know to get into college, to run a business, to get hired for a good job, to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or whatever than it is to decide on a particular method.  That being said, it is still helpful.  To see my curriculum choices, check out Our Homeschool Plan.  And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter ( top right of this page)!

Happy Learning!




Be Wary of Certainty and Your Brain — Big Weekend Idea

Big and Helpful Ideas on the Weekend

Hopefully on Fridays moving forward I will be discussing a “Big Idea”.  Something that is useful and helpful for you in your life and in your education and that of your children.  This is the first of the series:


The Brain and Certainty

We’ve all heard the old adage that the only constant is change, and that’s true.  Things never stay exactly the same and that’s why we love photos because they can capture time in a sense.  Another thing to be aware of about ourselves as humans is that we have a tendency to want to figure everything out, to find the best way and then not think about it anymore.  We like certainty.  We like knowing the best/ true/ right/ one way to do things.  It is natural.


Our brains are machines that are constantly looking for connections and ways to streamline our experiences.  We do tons of things automatically without ever thinking about it.  In addition to breathing, pumping blood, cleaning and repairing cells, things we learn also become streamlined. For example, typing, walking, playing a musical instrument, driving– these are all things we had to learn step by step, but once learned become automatic.  The brain does this with other situations also, and that includes lumping past experiences and events into quick categories that we then take and make often automatic judgments.  The brain is awesome– this power is often very useful and we should be grateful for it.


Exercise That Brain

However, the brain can also be wrong in making judgments too quickly, and that is where we have to be careful.  What may seem like the obvious best answer may not actually be the best answer.  It is good practice to question ourselves and our ideas periodically to see if we are really seeing things as clearly as we think.  This is the part that takes a little more work, because our brains are constantly trying to consolidate and streamline our attention.  It takes work and effort to stop and focus or be intentional about a certain thing.  It takes work and effort to interrupt our patterns.  This is why doing new things, traveling and having new experiences are so good for us.  This is why chess and other games are actually good brain food- they keep us from getting lazy, and they even can postpone or prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

This is another reason we learn more from pictures and stories than from a simple lecture or a book unless it is presented very well with stories and images.


So Be Wary of Certainty

Of course there are certain codes of conduct and morality that are most always right, such as honesty, integrity, perseverance, kindness,  and compassion, and the converse of those being most always wrong such as dishonesty, lying, cheating, laziness, meanness, and hatred.  But we can always find situations or circumstances where things are not so clear-  cut and dry, such as in war or in defending yourself.  The right thing to do may be to be “mean” in order to establish a boundary, or in the case of law enforcement, they may have to use tactics that include lying in order to get critical information.

Our brains don’t like this– these kinds of situations require us to think a bit harder and make decisions without knowing for sure that what we are doing is the absolute best choice.  But in all reality that’s life.  We have to make judgments.  We have to make decisions and choices.  And sometimes we have to decide between two good things.  How do I want to spend my time?  What outcome do I want or hope to have?  What will happen if I choose this versus that? And so forth…


This definitely applies to homeschooling/ education also.  We have to make choices and judgements and the answers aren’t always super clear.  If we can learn to be OK with uncertainty, be OK with change and growing and finding that what worked before doesn’t work anymore, we will be able to go with the flow a little easier and maybe not get quite so stuck in any belief or system.  This will help in all aspects of our lives– dropping the old, what doesn’t work anymore and being open to something new and highly beneficial!

Happy Learning!



What Is The Best Educational Route For My Child? Part 2 Traditional vs. Home Schooling

Educational Options

Never have there been more options in education than there are today.  This makes it both exciting and overwhelming when trying to figure out what will be best for you.  So here is a short comparison with advantages and disadvantages of Traditional public and private schools and homeschooling, online schooling or other non-traditional methods.


Public/ Private Traditional Schools

In the days before the internet and widespread publishing, these were our main options.  A traditional brick and mortar school were the best option for learning academics.  They could afford the books and the specialists to teach from those books as well as the facilities to train and teach students.  This is still a great option for a lot of people.  Unfortunately, it is very dependent on your particular school district, your school, your child, and your child’s teacher.  Pretty much once you enroll your child in a traditional school, you often have little say about what curriculum will be taught, which teacher your child will have, and pretty much you hand over all the decisions with regard to your child over to the school during the time that your child is there.  Some schools manage very well and turn out fully prepared happy students and others do not.  In the past, parents had to help their children deal with the situations that would come up, maybe hire a tutor if they could see their child was not doing well in math, for example.  While not always ideal, it was the best option, and may still be the best option for you.


Not much work for the parent– just get your child ready on time, with a lunch or lunch money, and make sure your child gets their homework done.  There is plenty of social interaction for the kids, they love recess, there are many specialists for the extra classes like art, PE and music, and the library is super accessible.  It is organized and rarely cancelled.  The schools usually plan great field trips, have good speakers and presentations come to the kids for assemblies.  If you have a good school, this could be a great option for you.


Time– traditional school last from 6 – 8 hrs., this is time your child could be playing or working on their own projects or interests rather than sitting in a classroom setting.  Loss of control over curriculum and topics taught.  You have to work around the school schedule, the kids have to be there.

Homeschooling/ Online Schooling

In this day of internet and computers, the need to go to a specialist is decreasing as we can get tons of information online almost immediately from those specialists in print, video or audio.  It is amazing, really.  And the amount of freedom you have in choosing your teaching method, your curriculum, and your schedule is awesome.  There are tons of resources everywhere as this option is becoming even more mainstream, it gets even easier.  But there is no turning your kid over to someone else, you are fully responsible for the outcome, and that can be scary.  So you just have to decide!


Freedom to choose your curriculum, freedom to determine your schedule, freedom to follow the interests and abilities of the student.  You can go on more in depth field trips, working in travel a little more easily, you can find people/ specialists in the community to teach certain subjects to your kids, you have more time to explore and let your kids play, and you can learn right along with your kids.  And obviously, going along with all that, you are able to prioritize and do the important things first.


Along with that freedom comes full responsibility.  It can be a lot of work researching methods and curriculum.  It still takes the kids time to do their schoolwork, and it takes time and patience from the parent to help them through it.  You do not have a built in social network, you have to build that also.  There are lots of homeschooling groups these days though and that is becoming less of a problem.  It just all depends on which set of problems and issues you would rather deal with!


It is great to live in a time where we have so many options.  At the same time, so options can be overwhelming.  But take a look at them all and go back to what your end goal for your child is and decide what you want to do.  Once you decide, remember you can always change– if traditional schooling isn’t working, then pull your child out, and if homeschooling is too much, then put them back in school, or better yet, see if there is a part time option or an online class or another class or tutor or co-op who/that could help you ease the biggest burden or stress.   And with online schools and other homeschooling methods, curriculum, resources and other homeschoolers you should be able to find something that works for you.  Take advantage of the freedom if you can– we live in a great time, and hopefully you live in a country where it is legal too!!

Read Part 1– your end goal here

Next Monday I will discuss Part 3 which is what exactly does your child need to know academically.  See you then!  Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you would like extra tips and words of encouragement!

As always– thanks for reading! Take care!



The Best Educational Route- part 1 -- What is your end goal?

What Is The Best Educational Route for My Child? Part 1 – What is Your End Goal?


The Best Educational Route- part 1 -- What is your end goal?
The Best Educational Route- part 1 — What is your end goal?

Like my old Cross Country coach used to tell us, “if you aim for nothing, you just may hit it”.  So it behooves us to have goals and dreams for our children.  We need to have an idea of what we want for them, what experiences and opportunities we hope they’ll have and what kinds of skills and abilities and talents they should develop to live a good life.  This is actually going to vary from person to person.  These are questions that you will want to ask yourself and as you ask the right questions, read, study, observe and think, you will get clearer on the answers and the ways to accomplish them. Each family and situation are different, we have different challenges, strengths and weaknesses.  You answers may a little different than mine.  My answers are just to help you start thinking about your own answers. I am going to share what the end goals for my family and my children are in general as it relates to growing up and becoming independent.

Another way to sort of ask the same thing:

What do I ultimately want for my child?

I want each of my children to be happy, independent, a good person, productive and able to achieve their goals and dreams, and ultimately successful in life.  I want my children to be able to grow up healthy and strong, to be kind and to have empathy for others, to have skills so that they can earn a living and be able to take care of themselves and then to be able to have their own families and be able to take care of them also.

So that’s manageable, right?  I can do that at least, right?! Well, easier said than done!

In order to accomplish this lofty goal, it is helpful to ask another question:

What knowledge and skills does my child need to live a happy, productive and successful life?

I have divided this answer up into 7 main categories– Character Development, Health, Adaptability, Social Skills, Academics, and Career Readiness. Of course, there may be more categories and some of them could be divided up even further, but this is a good start.  So while academics are hugely important in life, there are a lot of other things to learn and with which to become educated in life besides academics. And it is also important to note that these are just brief summaries, books have been and I’m sure will continue to be written on each of these topics. To be learned is not necessarily to be wise as we see in numerous white collar embezzling criminals!

Breaking it all down so that we can digest it and make sure we keep our priorities straight and the important things first is very helpful.

1- Character Development

This has to start at young age, as soon as the child understands the meaning of the word “no”.  It is worth it to keep at it and not allow them to do whatever they want, because they will either learn from you, their caregiver, when they are young and malleable or they will learn from life when they are older and less teachable.  There are rules, manners and codes of behavior that make everyone happier when followed.  It takes effort to teach children to be kind, respectful, and empathetic.  It also takes time and effort to teach them to be diligent, persistent and hard working, to keep going even though and especially when things get tough.  These things are often learned throughout life starting in babyhood, when baby has to learn not to throw his food or yell at his mother, but to ask nicely for more and to politely say that he is done.  We have to learn to control ourselves- our tempers, our physical desires, our laziness, our perfectionism, and countless other character flaws that are unique to each person– we all have our own special flavor of flaws and shortcomings to overcome.  Overcoming those flaws and becoming a good, hard working, kind, respectful, persistent person is what character development is all about.  Life has a wonderful way of teaching this just from living, but it is certainly helpful to have someone there to help you see your flaws and how to overcome them.  It would also be great to learn from others’ mistakes and not just our own!

2- Health

This is especially important in our modern world.  We and our children need to move, run, walk, exercise, stretch and spend time in nature and in the sunshine.  We need to watch what we eat, as food is plentiful and not always purely food.  We need to drink enough water and make sure it is clean.  We need to breathe fresh air.  We need to take time to think and dream and pray and just be.  We need enough sleep.  It is awfully hard to study, learn or grow when we don’t feel well.

3 – Spirituality

We and our children need to understand who we are as a human being.  We need to know that God or our Source or the Universe or whatever you want to call it has great love and compassion for us.  We need to have faith that life is worth living, and that goodness is rewarded with goodness and evil with evil.  We need to be a part of something larger and more important than just ourselves.  Prayer, meditation, sacred readings are all important parts of making us the best human beings we can be!

4 – Adaptability

We need to be adaptable.  The only constant in life is change.  Sometimes things work well for a long time, but we need to recognize when something isn’t working anymore and be able to change it and improve.  Countless extinct animals did not adapt and now they don’t exist.  Our children need to be able to go with the flow and adapt and overcome!

5- Social Skills

And of course we need to know how to get along with others.  We need to understand others needs, wants and personalities.  It’s good to be around people our own age as well as those who are younger and who are older.  There is great opportunity for service in these areas, to reach out and show someone that you care.  Life is better with people you love and that love you.  Unfortunately we also have to learn about the dark side of human relations and how to set boundaries and expect proper treatment from those around us.

6- Academics

And then there is Academics.  There are foundational things that without, the person will be highly handicapped in this modern world. We’ve all got to learn how to read and write and do basic math through at least Algebra, but really through Geometry, and Algebra 2 to at least feel educated and capable.  Other academics are truly beneficial but not quite as foundational as the 3 R’s.  These include basic knowledge of science, history, economics, music, art and computers.  Beyond that, once the person has a foundational basic knowledge of the world as a whole and in parts, then they can study and/or pursue whatever suits their fancy.  That is where the really fun in depth skill building and knowledge come, but it doesn’t have to be any certain thing– it just has to be whatever the person wants for their personal long term goals.

7- Career

Every person needs to have skills that will pay the bills.  Learning and academics are fun, but unless you get a Ph D and become a professor, a person is going to need to either get a job or run a business and that usually entails skills other than what is learned traditionally in schools.  There are great careers in computers and programming, business, health fields and many others.  A person needs to be prepared to be able to pursue the knowledge and training these paths will require.  For example, if your child wants to be an engineer, then they need to do well in math and get through calculus, not just Algebra 2, enough to get into college.

Final Thoughts-

So I hope this gets you thinking about what is most important in raising and educating or choosing a school or curriculum for your child.  Mostly that in growing up and becoming educated, there is more to know and do than just academics.  We will explore different educational paths towards this final goal.  But what sense is there in trudging forward if you are not sure exactly where you want to end up– or at least know about where you want to end up!

Subscribe to the newsletter (upper right sidebar) to get a notification when the next article in this series is up– probably next Monday!

Comment below– What did I miss?  Do you hope to see your children accomplish the same sorts of things I described?  Thanks for reading, hope it helped, I look forward to connecting with you!



A Quick Stop in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Just on the other side of the US border lies the mighty nation of Canada and inside Canada, lies Quebec, practically a whole different country with a lot of French and European influence. And inside Quebec lies Montreal!  No need to fly all the way to Europe to get a feel for the foreign and a different language– just go to Quebec.  It’s pretty cool.  (Go to Europe too, though, travel is so much fun!)

We had been enjoying some really nice spring weather in New Hampshire in the 50s and 60s, very nice after the cold winters.  I hadn’t realized ’til we checked the weather the night before we left how much colder Canada is.  Montreal was in the 30s when we left, but I read that in one section of Montreal there are Subway stations and buildings and malls all hooked together underground and above ground so that people don’t have to walk outside.  That sounded nice and warm.  So once we drove around a bit looking for where that might me and also stressing because a little person needed to use the restroom, we finally decided on a place to park and then we started walking.  It was sunny, but we were glad to have hats, coats and gloves.

This is in China Town:


I love the architecture in Montreal, it’s just cool!


We stopped here after walking quite a ways in the cold and feeling a bit hungry.  There was a subway station at the end of this open park space, turned out it connected us to the warm “underground city”.

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We walked down to the station and followed some doors that led to some more stairs and found that we were across the street and going up!


It was nice and warm, many coats were shed!


“Sortie” means exit, in case you were wondering, :).  I just thought the whole thing was cool, like secret passageways everywhere:

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We eventually came to a food court which I should have photographed, but we got pizza and American Subway sandwiches.  We also got some poutin and I was super excited about a beet salad and a corn salad I got at a nice fresh cafe fast food place there in the little food court.  We decided to make our way back to the car above ground though.  It is faster and a little easier to get your bearings.  It was a fun little adventure.  I wish we had more time there, that is pretty much all we did.

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See the snow!!  This was April!!

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Have you been to Montreal?  What was your favorite part? Did you post pictures? Link below for me!!


New Castle, New Hampshire in the cold

I absolutely love the ocean, and I love living just an hour away.  I miss it in the winter cause it’s so cold and it gets dark early– so when we had to drop #2 off in Durham for her robotics competition in the spring, we decided to go hang out at the  Children’s Museum and then I just had to go to the beach.  I had never been to New Castle– but had heard of it, so off we went– I wish I could take photos while driving, because it is so pretty.  The New England buildings are just cool!  We crossed the bridge from mainland New Hampshire to the island called New Castle.  It was so cool!  We eventually got to a park that was right next to the library and decided to get out and explore.  It was drizzling– not too cold, but we were definitely glad to have jackets.  The playground was wet, but really who needs a playground when you have nature and the ocean?

So we parked and walked past the playground and these geese on over to the water:newcastle

My oldest son is so helpful to his younger brothers (mostly) — here he is carrying the youngest on his shoulders:


It wasn’t a clear beautiful day, it was hazy and gray, but the water makes up for it.  Here is one of the lighthouses:


The bridge to the rest of the pier:


The cute houses across the bay:


The seagulls just resting as the drizzle continued:



All six of my cute boys– with the other lighthouse in the background:


I got myself in the picture– trying to remember to get more photos of me too– prove I was there too!:


We spent quite a bit of time just watching the water as it crashed against the rocks:

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And back to the van– running and walking on the rocks, of course!:


A closer up view of the lighthouse– just so gray– we will have to come back!!


Here’s the van:


Of course we had to play in the puddles too– #3 in midair!!newcastle_19

It was a fun day– took a lot longer than planned, but it had been awhile since our last field trip.  We then found our way to Trader Joe’s for our weekly grocery trip and some treats, and then on over to Durham to watch the Robotics competition.  This day and traveling with my kids was so easy compared to the days of toddlers and babies, although I miss my girls on these trips– they are busy doing bigger kid things.  My youngest is not the easiest child, but being almost 4 he can understand logic and explanations, so I relaxed quite a bit.  Also, no diapers and no need to carry anybody.  It’s weird, but good.  However, I lost track of him at the Robotics competition because I didn’t realize there were multiple exits.  That was really awful and scary, but we found him safe and happy.  So I am reminded that while it is easier without fully dependent babies and toddlers, it is still work and I have to be more aware when we are out and about.  I am so glad we were able to have such a fun day together.


#1 Playing her own Piano Music Compositions

My oldest child is very very talented.  She started composing songs on the piano when she was 7 years old.  I taught her how to read music and how to play the piano, but I did not have to encourage her practice and I definitely did not teach her to compose.  We did listen to lots of music especially classical during the days, we still do, but probably not as much since I haven’t kept up with technology.  She accompanied some public school choirs and a little bit at church.  She attended BYU Music Camp and finally last summer she found her niche at the Boston Conservatory Summer Intensive program for composers.  She was pushed to compose and write and record 4 pieces in 2 weeks.  She learned a lot and has since been working very hard on composing enough songs to make an album.  She is all ready and will be going in to record this afternoon in a studio.  We are all very excited for her.  It is very, very exciting!!  I think her music is amazing and I am looking forward to being able to share it with the world.  I love listening to it and I will be very happy to be able to listen to it even when she no longer lives at home and is all grown up!  My, time does fly– it was just yesterday that she was running around with curls and little dresses.

So here is a clip of her playing at our library a couple months ago.  She just sat and played whatever songs she felt like for the small audience.  She played for about 45 min.

And here is a clip of her playing part of one of the songs she will be recording this afternoon.  She was pretty excited to have the opportunity to play in front of her peers at school.  She attends the public high school part time, accompanying the choir and taking math, Latin and music production.  Good job #1.  I will let you know when her album is available!!

The Boys in the Boat — Book Review

I just finished reading this fabulous book, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown , about the 1936 Gold Medal American Olympic Crew team in Berlin with Hitler in charge.  The book is written very well, just like a movie keeping your attention easily, moving from scenes of the boy’s childhood, then over to Germany, then back to other relevant characters and around weaving together a really remarkable story.  There is a lot of history and a lot of great explanation of the boat races and the boats and the rivalries and the intricacies of this most grueling sport.  The story mainly centers on the story of Joe Rantz who had a very rough childhood, with his mother dying when he was 4 and his eventual new stepmother not being able to cope with him, leading to him being completely on his own at 15.  But he was a good natured boy and he learned to survive and thrive. His only hope of making it through college was to make the crew team so that he could get a job at the college– no hope of any scholarship.  He is the 2nd one from the left. It is a great story, I won’t recount it all here.

But here is some footage from the race– but you wouldn’t know from just watching the intricacies of the sport, nor that the one who set the pace for the team was ill probably with walking pneumonia and zoned out in the middle of the race not understanding what he needed to do, til the cox decided he’d better scoot up and see if the next boy could speed up the pace, then he woke up and then won– he’s the one that completely collapsed at the end of the race.  Nor would you know that they had the WORST lane and started late because the race starter never asked if they were ready.  Germany had the best lane.

The whole story is truly inspirational.  I have a greater appreciation for the time of the depression and then the war and then the Nazis and how it affected real people because of reading this book.  But my favorite nugget of wisdom came when Joe found out his father, step mother and half siblings had been living near the University the whole time he had been there.  He and his girlfriend, later wife – Joyce, went by to say hello.  Joe’s father and siblings weren’t there, but his stepmother, Thula, was home and basically told him to leave them alone and never come back.  They left and Joyce just cried and “demanded to know why Joe let his parents treat him as they did.  Why did he go on pretending that they hadn’t done him any harm?” etc.  They were both crying at the end of her rant.

” “You don’t understand,” he murmured.  “They didn’t have any choice.  There were just too many mouths to feed.”

Joyce pondered that for a moment, then said, “I just don’t understand why you don’t get angry.”

Joe continued to stare ahead through the windshield. “It takes energy to get angry.  It eats you up inside.  I can’t waste my energy like that and expect to get ahead.  When they left, it took everything I had in me just to survive. Now I have to stay focused.  I’ve just gotta take care of it myself.” ”

He was eventually able to make amends with his father and siblings after his stepmother died young.  The race and the preparation for it was intense on its own, combined with Joe’s story mixed with all the others it made for a compelling and really great read. This is really a great book for teenagers also, my kids will be reading it next!