Hello from the Homefront! {Updates, Homeschool planning, and upcoming posts.}


So, I thought I’d just write a very down-to-earth post sharing what’s been going on in our family for the past few months and what is whirling around in my mind as I ponder our year.

I know, it’s been too long!

This year, in so many ways has been quite different.  To be honest, as I always warn, we have completed some but definitely not all of our ‘plan’.  We started our walk through Modern History (using Simply Charlotte Mason’s family guide) and are still only at Lesson 36 of a 176 lesson program.  *sigh*

But, that doesn’t mean we haven’t been learning.

I don’t know if any of you do this – but we get to a certain topic and I just find way too many great books about it to just move on so quickly.  It seems many history based curriculums want to push on through SO MUCH history in one year.  To me, 1850 to present day could take 3 years to cover if you really dig in to the topics!!!

We camped at the gold rushes for weeks!  The Klondike Goldrush here in Canada and the California Gold Rush.  The kids were fascinated by it and loved the two books we read – Gold Rush Fever and By the Great Horn Spoon.

We’ve still been slowly crawling through Stories of the Nations and Stories of America Volumes 2, which the kids love and I reviewed here.

But, the kids do need a change of pace and the nice thing about the Charlotte Mason guides is they are only about $10.  So… if you don’t finish the whole year, it’s OKAY to move on if you feel the kids need a shake up int he homeschool.  Which we definitely do.

Clockwise from top left: the Gold Rush books we loved, a pile of new books for our launch of Sonlight Core B+C, a snapshot of the workbooks our kids were doing (see below), and a pile of books I’m sorting through right now…

Snapshots of (some) of the books we’ve really enjoyed this year: 

When I look at how many books we actually were able to read this past year, I am amazed and reminded that we are doing tons.  Even when it feels like we aren’t doing a lot of ‘written’ work, we are taking in so many wonderful living books all the time.

I will put up a post showing many of the books we loved from this year on Monday’s Charlotte Mason Monday post.

So, Workbooks got us through a busy season…

When the baby (we’re currently fostering to adopt a beautiful baby boy!) came to us in December, we picked up a few workbooks at a local educational store to get the kids through the first few months of having a new family member.

The kids NEEDED to keep doing some homeschooling and my two youngest actually very much enjoyed the ease of the open-and-go books.

I would not consider most workbooks to be a source of a living education but let me tell you what doing ‘workbooks’ for 2 months DID do for my kids.  Workbooks opened up the world of working independently… which, surprisingly, they hadn’t truly experienced before.

My eldest (he’s 11, almost 12) is very bright.  Workbooks drive him nuts because he feels they are very watered down and ‘cheesy’.  I’ve struggled with homeschooling him the past several months (years?) as he is super smart but reluctant to almost… well… everything.  *sigh*  Except reading.  Thank goodness, he enjoys reading great books.

Having said all this… having a beautiful baby in our home who we are caring for and fostering to adopt had been the most life-changing and wonderful experience for us and our children.  There is no ‘education’ more powerful than nurturing empathy and love and a sense of selfless servanthood.  Workbooks or no workbooks – it didn’t REALLY matter.  The true learning was happening in all our hearts and it was a very precious season none of us will ever forget.

For any who are ever wondering if God truly hears your prayers… He does.  And in His time (HIS time!!!), He will answer you… in the most miraculous, mind-boggling way!!!

Here is something I shared on Facebook, and I think it is worth sharing again here… this is a photo of Audrey feeding our little guy.

“Homeschooling. I’ve had many people ask how we are possibly going to keep up with homeschooling now that we have a newborn in our family. I’d like to send them all this photo and ask them what education means to them. 

To me, loving and caring for a person in need is the most important thing that we could ever *teach* our kids and ourselves. Academics have their place, and sure… 

That stuff will get done eventually. But this… This photo encapsulates the very depth of why homeschooling is so powerfully beautiful for family culture. Never underestimate the power of nurture and the role it plays it bringing up a child in the way he or she should go. 

A baby is not an interruption to real education…. They are the most powerful display of God’s grace, and our role as lovers of others and servants in His name. 

Learning how to embrace and cherish these precious family moments and build strong bonds with each other, to learn to set aside our own desires for the sake of another, to sit in awe of how the Lord weaves and works… Now thats the kind of education I desire for my kids.”


Thinking and Planning:

So, even with baby – there is still some serious planning that must take place.

I don’t know about all you (fellow homeschoolers!) but every year, in about February or March, I start to freak out.  I lose my cool and start stressing that we aren’t learning enough, aren’t doing enough, that the kids are behind… you know all the typical homeschool fear-based stuff.  Sometimes it is warranted, sometimes it isn’t.   Always, it is pointless.  I mean, the worrying.  It gets me nowhere, as you all know.

Sometimes we are tempted to plunge into something totally new without really thinking and praying about it. The temptation is SO strong.  All those shiny websites and pretty catalogs promising the world…  All those new books all coming in a great big cardboard box delivered by our friendly and tired mail carrier (Ha, he recently came INTO MY KITCHEN and rested while dropping off parcels).

But I know as well as you do that no one ‘curriculum’ can give us the world and make homeschooling perfect. It just doesn’t happen that way.  If you purchase believing it, you will always be disappointed.

However, there are definitely seasons when purchasing a great homeschool curriculum will really add wonderfully to your homeschool and relieve you of much stress. 

Not to mention give you peace of mind and allow you to actually implement some great learning with very limited planning time.  I have experienced this many times.  We have enjoyed many so-called ‘boxed’ curriculums in the past and for the most part, as long as I’ve prayed and thought it through – it does tend to work well.  So long as it is the right fit for our family.

We have LOVED Sonlight in the past as well as Heart of Dakota, both ‘boxed’ Charlotte Mason-friendly programs.

We also completed most of  Five in a Row (all 4 volumes) and that would be considered a type of ‘curriculum’, I suppose.  I am actually counting the years until I can do it all again with our newest little man!  Haha… LOVE Five in a Row!

So, all of January and February, I really took time to pray and to think (REALLY THINK) about our plans for this coming year.  I kept asking how I could, in this crazy busy (and to be honest, a little emotionally exhausting) season of life, still offer a wonderful ‘feast’ of inspiration and learning to my big kids.  (They will be 12, 10, and 9 this coming school year!!!)

I felt pretty quickly that putting together my own plan and implementing it just wasn’t going to work in this season of life.  It takes a huge amount of time and energy to do this well, as I’m sure many of you know.

We prayed for YEARS for a baby and… well… I want to have as much time as humanly possible to just savor this time.  Not spend every waking moment (and every middle-of-the-night moment) printing, planning, creating, and so on.

So, I started revisiting ideas for a more planned out curriculum we could purchase.  I’ve done so many reviews and so much research over the past 10 years that it really doesn’t take long to figure out because I already know there are only a few boxed curriculums I would ever actually purchase.

So, the plan for this Spring and Beyond –

We are implementing Heart of Dakota’s Preparing Hearts for His Glory combined with Sonlight’s Core B+C with extensions for my eldest son.

I’m so, so excited, guys!

Sure, it cost a bunch of money to buy the programs and get all the books to go along with them – but it is worth every penny to have peace of mind and a state of rest.

Just so you know, I purchased the Heart of Dakota program new but I did not purchase Sonlight new.

I had most of the books already and purchased a used guide from a friend for $20.  But Preparing Hearts for His Glory and Core B+C use the same spine (Children’s History of the World) and follow almost the same course of history so we are combining much of the learning and many of the books.

I know (REALLY know) that we have a very solid year ahead of us.  These programs are so wonderfully rich and it is all laid out for me.  So, I follow the plan (with a few rabbit trails, I’m sure) and I will be sure to have given my children a real ‘feast’ of an education.  *breathe out*

The best part is the load off my tired shoulders.  We have a plan.  It is spelled out for us.  And the kids will like it.  I know this because I know what my kiddos love and this plan includes tons of reading of wonderful books and some notebooking and some hands-on activities.

I’m excited to share our homeschool ‘plan’, including the choices for our kids’ language arts and math in its entirety next week.

We start Monday!!!

Oh… and in light of my new little bundle, hooray… I can enjoy babywearing again!!! SO, naturally, I started a new Pinterest Board.  Baby Wearing is seriously one of the most wonderful, beautiful, heart-warming things in the world.  *smile*

Blessings and huge hugs and kisses from our very snuggly and happy home.


Posts on the way:


  • Prairie + Sky

    Yay! You are going to have a beautiful year! I had a season of planning everything myself and it was much, much harder than it looked. It was fun though for that season. I love that you know when to say when and when to enjoy plannning again on your own. Both are great in different seasons. HOD and/or SL make a great skeleton than you can do either fully or pick or choose. It does take off so much pressure, and I hope it makes this new season for you easier. I love your baby wearing pictures btw! I used to have a baby sling company (Polkadot Papoose) back in the days when I was still wearing my little ones around. That was such a precious season. Nothing is cuter than a little baby all bundled up like that. Enjoy it!

  • Unknown

    Sounds wonderful. I'm a true believer of do what works best for you each season of life so it seems perfect to me. Oh and I love baby wearing too and miss it now since my youngest is 4. Enjoy!

  • Megan Russell

    *sigh* The eternal problem: So many books, so little time! I love your pictures. Heart of Dakota and Sonlight both have awesome book lists. I'm sure you'll have a marvelous year with them.

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