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An MRI and Apple Picking – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This week was nothing short of full (aren’t they all?). We started out apple picking with some friends so we could peel what seems like 5,000 apples. In reality it was only a bushel and a half, so we ended up with about 90 cups of applesauce to split between us and a lot of apples for eating and baking. 

Monday morning, bright and early, Laurianna had an MRI. We are still waiting on the results, but at this point, what are a few more days? :) The MRI threw her off the rest of the day (headache and just feeling weird). 

Tea has been in hand most of this week for me. While I absolutely love coffee, I somehow managed to lose my favorite decaf blend (caffeine is something I try to avoid because of my migraines). There was one point on Tuesday morning where I had to find a quiet spot to be alone for a few minutes. While I do love homeschooling, there are moments when a kiddo and I have moments where we need to take a bit to calm down. For me, a cup of tea gives me a chance to relax and head back to keep working on the day. 

Kaleb and I finished up the first book in the Zoey and Sassafras series and started the second one together. He and I are taking turns reading to each other. I’ve been trying to lay low the first few weeks of school and ease him back into reading, and this has been a great series to read through together. On Tuesday, we picked our All About Reading back up as well and holding off on that a bit was a great decision. 

One morning while we were sitting at our breakfast table working on a few subjects, a little chickadee flew into the window next to us and ended up being a little dazed. The kids and I rushed outside to make sure it was ok and had the chance to hold it for a bit until it could fly again. 

Zachary is one that is a little hard to get on camera these days.  Call it your typical pre-teen phase, but every now and then I am able to catch him – doing schoolwork that is. :) 

Kaleb also started working on Printing Power Plus.  While we are using a level that is a little below his grade level, it’s actually a great fit because handwriting is such a struggle for him. 

One of the things that has been a little incentive for the kids during the week is using my Snapchat filters. It may be silly, but it definitely keeps the boys moving (and laughing) during the day. And truly, that’s a great thing

That’s it for this week. :)  What have you been up to?  

The Visit to the Neurologist – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last Friday I headed out of town for a few days to meet up with my friend Jodi, whom I haven’t seen in several years. It was a fabulously fun weekend with her (she one of the ladies that introduced me to essential oils many years ago). Catching up with her was so wonderful, especially when it feels like you have just picked up where you left off and you can be yourself above all. She’s one of those ladies I can share the good and ugly with – and that is such a gift.

This school week seems to have flown by – likely due to having decided we would take Monday off and enjoy the last beautiful day of summer at the pool. For the kids that meant hanging out with friends. For me, that meant finally sitting down and reading a bit. The pool hasn’t been the most relaxing place for me the last few months  because I have a running list of things “to do” from being on both the swim team board and the pool board (I did it to myself). But Monday I just sat down and relaxed. It was lovely. 

Kaleb is really enjoying the Soaring with Spelling program and I love that he can work on quite a bit independently. He still defaults to asking for help (even when he doesn’t need it), but it’s a different approach for him and also incorporates in some vocabulary instead of spelling rules, which is good for him. 

Laurianna is loving her Human Anatomy class at the community college. And you all, I have to say – I am so thankful that this girl feels free to text me without worrying about me flipping out. She and I really do have a great relationship, and the pictures I get right now – Lord, help me. 

If you are in ANY way familiar with biology and human anatomy, you may recognize the above microscope image she sent me for what it is – sp*rm. And yes. I didn’t spell the word because spam comments will abound. :) She did get her first bio exam results back and she is doing great (her written wasn’t as high as she wanted, but she got an 86 on the written and a 92 on her lab). She loves her teacher and that makes me happy more than anything because she is learning and loving it overall – and already can’t wait for next semester. 

In other news, the boys and I are listening to The Land of Stories via audiobook. We haven’t had a great week for read-alouds yet (even though we want to), so for now this is covering that gap. 

Wednesday meant a whole lot of car riding for Laurianna and me. Rather than wait until December to see a closer neurologist, we opted to see one a few hours away and get in much sooner. Out of all the visits this year, this felt like a few things were clicking into place. We are waiting on an MRI order to rule out a few specific things, but otherwise did receive some helpful suggestions from the doctor for moving forward.

Laurianna has been doing much better the last bit (a rough day or two here and there, but nothing like last fall), so we are very happy for those great days! She is picking back up with worship team this fall and also beginning to work for a few different people (babysitting and making soap). 

McKenna and I are spending time each week with another family and working on biology labs. I ordered a set of slides for the girls to use (and Kaleb too since this goes hand-in-hand with what he is studying). Above is a peek at a paramecium magnified 400x – it’s really so fascinating!). 

One thing we will say – schoolwork is so much more fun if you have someone to do it with. And really, that’s true about most things in life, isn’t it? It’s always nicer when you are walking along with someone else. 

Our first official “lab” of the year involves carrot pieces, distilled water, and two variables – sugar and salt. Our control was plain distilled water with a carrot slice and the other two slices were in sugar water or salt water. We formed our hypothesis and are waiting on the final results. :)

That’s it for this week. :)  What have you been up to?  

Almost Full Homeschool – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Hi everyone! I hope you have had a fabulous week!! School this week has been going well. We had a few hiccups along the way as I had to spend some time with my grandmother (another hospital visit) and the kids had to do some independent work while I was gone. Other than that, we added in almost all of our subjects this week and are starting to get into more of a daily routine. 

We are trying to start the morning off with the news, so lately that has meant the boys piling on my bed (with the dog always in the middle of things). When McKenna is around, she wants to watch too and this has really been a great addition to our mornings. The kids are talking about more things worldwide and really interested to know what is happening each day. This week the focus has obviously been the flooding in Texas and it is heartbreaking to see the devastation. 

One of the hardest things this week (admittedly) has been convincing one of the boys to USE PAPER when working on math problems. He enjoys doing problems in his head, but when it comes to adding/subtracting five digit numbers when carrying or borrowing is necessary, it can become a little frustrating because he gets an answer wrong (doing it in his head sometimes has a few drawbacks). Math is definitely his thing, but even I get turned around at times doing it without paper. He is also our perfectionist boy, so it drives him nuts to get one wrong, but I’ve had to dig in and tell him unless I can see his math on paper, I will not help adjust the answer (because he does at times type the number in wrong). 

Anywho…let me divide a few things up by child to keep my brain intact…

McKenna – 9th Grade

McKenna has added all but art to her week. We are now in our third week of school and she is finally starting to get into a groove with her work. There may be a little prodding (on my part) in the mornings to get her ready, because she likes to meander. While I know we homeschool, it gets a little hard in the afternoons when we need to head places and she has managed to get herself distracted or gotten a late start. Again, we’ll get into a solid grove before too long, but each school year start is always an adjustment. 

Our literature and finance coop are going well now too. We have a new student with us this year, but she is going to be so much fun. And Addie, our dog, always has to be in the middle of things. :) 


Rick has also been trying to work with McKenna (and the other kids) recording music. They all love to play various instruments (McKenna plays the ukulele and also the piano) and has a beautiful voice. It’s been fun playing around with the software program.

Kaleb – 5th Grade 

Before I go any further, you may notice that Kaleb is wearing the same shirt in every single picture, even though they were taken on different days this week. If you have a suggestion in getting a 10 year old to change shirts daily, please let me know. He loves certain things and will wear the same outfit all.the.time. His brother on the other hand wears either no shirt or several different outfits a day. Sigh.

Grammar is one subject Kaleb loves and this week we also added in his Soaring with Spelling where he is working on compound words. We are still using All About Spelling (and love that), but this is more for handwriting practice and exposure of a different king. He enjoys the format of Growing with Grammar and since this is similar and he can do it on his own, it’s been a good fit. 

In science we are learning about plant and animal cells as well as microscopes in our Nancy Larson Science 4 program. I put together a cut/paste Parts of a Microscope page for him as well as some trivia questions to see what he is learning (I’ll be sharing those next week with you all!). 

The microscope has been a big ol’ fascination for sure! This week we looked at a blood cell and a few other fun things (next week we are going to look at different things from around the house such as creek water and other nature walk finds). He wants more slides, so we are looking at some sets on Amazon to use in the upcoming weeks. 

Reading together started this week as well. Kaleb and I are buddy reading the book Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro. It’s a fun science-related book and great for us to ease into the year. We have two other books in the series and are really enjoying it so far!

Another thing that we are starting this week are some exercises based on the Brain Based Movements workshop I purchased through Build Your Bundle sale. After going through some of the cognitive therapy exercises (and seeing how many of the symptoms of some of these tie-in with his reading progress and other areas). The exercises are ones we work on for 1 minute a day for six weeks, so we are going to track his progress on this and really hope it will help a few things “click” for him. 

Zachary – 7th Grade

Seventh grade is a bit of a wake up call for this boy. :) We are working hard at his being consistent in writing down what he is doing in his Student Planner. His work load has significantly increased and part of the issue is he wants to be done in an hour and sees what his younger brother is doing and feels what he has to do is unfair. (You know, the typical thing). Can I just say, a 12 year old boy can be exhausting at times? I love the boy dearly but he can push every single one of my buttons in under 15 seconds. 

We started his WriteShop 1 this week and it is honestly going MUCH better than I had hoped. He wasn’t necessarily thrilled at the start, but he has jumped in and is already putting great effort into his writing, which is encouraging. 

Laurianna – 11th Grade

Classes are going well at the community college and this week Laurianna had her first paper and tests (biology). We’re anxious to see how she did on both of those, but she is really enjoying those classes. Her summer job will be ending this weekend, so she is putting in an application at an indoor pool for lifeguard and also picked up a weekly babysitting job on Friday evenings to earn gas and insurance money! (She is nothing if not dedicated!)

That’s it for this week. :)  What have you been up to?  

The One with the Solar Eclipse – Homeschool and Life Happenings

The big excitement of the week – the solar eclipse!! While we weren’t in the direct path of the full eclipse, it was still pretty amazing to watch. We didn’t find the last of the glasses we needed until Saturday (phew), but the kids kept coming up periodically to check it out. 

We had a few friends over to check it out with us and tried to take some pictures, but they were 100% unsuccessful. 

The day after Laurianna returned home from the beach, we took a trip to look at a used car with her. Ever since she took Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance she has been carefully setting aside money for her own car – and she drove home in it that day! We were able to get tags for her this week and Tuesday she drove herself to the community college to start her first two concurrent enrollment classes (essentially dual enrollment, but since we aren’t public school, we can’t call it that). 

I have to say that this day brought a mixture of emotions for me. First, my heart is busting for this girl. She is so excited (and also nervous). I’m proud, but on the other hand realizing how close this brings us to her going to college! She’s growing up and it’s put me on an emotional roller coaster the last few days for sure. 

One thing we decided to add in to our morning with whatever kiddos happen to be home that day – a ten minute news summary. We’re using CNN 10 for this. It has a bit of current events, some “fun” pieces too, and definitely provides some added conversation with the boys.

When I mentioned this on Facebook a few people asked about concern for media bias. One thing that I’ll say is this – personally I try to read from several different news sources to see opposing points of view. Yes, we are typically more conservative in our views, but that doesn’t mean I need to block it all out (sorry if I’m stepping on any toes). Watching this together has given us a great chance to talk about the stories and any other “sides” there might be to a story – and I love that we have that opportunity to let our kids think and dig a little deeper. 

In other news, this is the typical view with our pup pretty much every day. :) The kids are definitely enjoying our Cordaroys bean bag, but it cracks us up that Addie makes herself comfy whenever we aren’t in it (and even when we are!). 

We added in a few more subjects this week with the boys & McKenna: history and science. Both boys are working through their own science program, but it’s fun since they tie in together at the moment. McKenna also started her biology co-op with a friend. 

Zachary had his first science lab this week, so we modified a lab Kaleb had to go along with Zachary’s. His sample ended up molding even though we refrigerated it as soon as it arrived, but it still ended up being pretty cool. 

We have two different microscopes on hand here – one that’s a very basic model and then a higher quality one we purchased a few years ago for our high school biology class. It was a little hard getting a picture of our view, but kind of neat with the small view we could get. 

On a completely unrelated note to anything, it’s not often that I splurge and buy myself a pair of shoes (especially if they are over $15). But OH MY GOODNESS!! I haven’t worn anything other than my new (and only pair) of these Chacos this week. They are super comfy and cute. A little like a flip flop – but versatile enough to wear with something semi-dressy. HUGE win for me!!

That’s it for this week. :) Next week we are adding in a little bit more curriculum wise (reading and writing and Bible) so we will be at about a full load with all of the kids. Easing in is great!

What have you been up to?  

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

9th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 7.5


While the bulk of our classes for 9th grade are the same ones Laurianna took a few years ago, we have changed up the order a little for McKenna and are using a few different things with her. McKenna really took ownership of her classwork last year and earned 5.5 credits toward her high school diploma (8th grade). This year she will be earning an additional 7.5, possibly 8 depending on her class decision in the spring semester. 

We are switching the order of math for her (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2) where we did it a little differently for Laurianna (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry), partly based on feedback from Laurianna on how they tied in with her other classes (chemistry, etc..). 

Also, McKenna is really excited to be taking a theatre class at our local community college. Each week she is participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing Les Miserables (cannot wait!). Because this is an intense class with a lot of in-class and out of class hours, she will earn 1/2 credit for it. If she decides to participate in the spring semester class as well, we will bump it up to a full credit. 

The Joys of Independent Learning

Last year we did have a few issues with McKenna putting aside subjects she was “less enthusiastic” about, creating a bit of a back log in some areas (and then some added stress on her part). This year we are going to have to be on top of her a little more to make sure she is staying on target and we will be putting markers in her Student Planner so she can be sure she is where she needs to be in each subject at various points of the year (i.e. if there are 32 lessons in Latin, she should be at lesson ___ by Christmas break).  She and I may have butt heads a bit about this throughout the year. :) 

Hint: my idea of how things should be scheduled may be a little different than hers, and since this is a life skill, we think it’s important to master this now.

Co-op Learning

We have a small group of high schoolers that will be meeting weekly to work on literature and personal finance. McKenna will also be getting together with one friend to do the lab part of biology (because any dissection is better with a friend, right?). 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

Does High School Have You Scared?

If homeschooling high school is worrying you, don’t miss the free middle and high school planning printables and map out your middle and high school years!

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017


If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.


9th Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

9th grade homeschool year in review

As the end of this year finished up, it brought with it a lot of OH MY WORD – THIS GIRL IS NOT GOING TO BE IN SCHOOL MUCH LONGER angst. While I realize the end goal is to graduate our children and have them move on in life, the entire process is becoming more and more bittersweet. 


This year, Laurianna matured so much. She has always been a ‘solid’ and mature girl, seeming much older and wiser than her 15 years, but she’s deepened even more this year. In addition to getting her first real job (and saving money for a car, but we won’t talk about that now, ok?), she began leading worship for our church youth group. Over the last two years, she has virtually taught herself how to play guitar and singing is her passion. It has been absolutely incredible to see her grow and develop in this way because she has such a heart for worship. 

Add into that, her sheer determination work on projects and goals with a purpose – and she has all the makings of an amazing young lady. Of course, I may be entirely biased. (grins)

Here’s a quick look at what Laurianna worked on for her 9th grade year. Overall, she earned a total of 7.5 credits. 

Several of the above classes were done in a group setting this year (a small co-op of 6 high school kids) and one class she and a friend worked on independently during the week and then together once a week. 


Notgrass cultural influences

Notgrass was a new program for our family this year, but we absolutely loved the layout and projects in Exploring World History. Although the program offers two additional credits that can be earned through the year (literature and Bible), we decided not to do those. Personally I didn’t feel the literature component was as strong and detailed as the program we have used in the past (and used this year) – there were not solid literature prompts or enough direction for learning about the author, period, and components of literature (my personal opinion – so please don’t send me hate mail). As for the Bible credit, well, she does her own Bible study and we didn’t feel the need to earn an additional credit (again, personal choice). 

Some projects were more involved than others and took a bit longer than a week, so we moved around projects as needed. Otherwise, Laurianna loved the creative outlets to tie in with her history lessons (illustrating a children’s book was one of her favorites). We loved it enough that we have made plans to use their American History in our upcoming year. 


Well, I suppose Algebra 2 can be exciting for some, but there really isn’t much to say other than SHE SURVIVED ALGEBRA! Much happiness on that front and we are ready to move on to the next level of math. Praise Jesus. :) 


snow day high school

Our Literature and Composition class was so much fun this year since we added two additional kids to our small co-op (for a total of 6). Each of the kids has such a distinct writing style and personality, and it was so much fun to see them all grow throughout the year. 

One of the best parts of the class is the peer review time. Each book unit we worked on included writing three papers during the month – a profile of the author, a look at the historical period of the book, and then an essay topic based on one of the major ideas of the book (typically a 300-600 word essay). A week before the essay is due, the kids trade papers and take turn reading everyone else’s paper and making editing suggestions. While sometimes they get a little goofy, that time has been wonderful for them to gain five additional perspectives on their thought process and take additional criticisms. 

Not all the books were well-loved (there may have been much mocking about bean picking from the book Walden), but we did also have a chance to enjoy a live production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the end of the year (SO MUCH FUN). Grading papers for the mom isn’t near as enjoyable, but being with the kids and talking through book topics with them = very much fun. Laurianna is honestly a solid writer – which makes me very happy. 


Laurianna worked throughout the week on her science lessons and weekly met with her best friend to go through labs together. The other mom and I chose Biology from Science Shepherd for various reasons, one being the approach to evolution in the book. While we believe in a created world, we wanted the girls to have a solid understanding of the theory of evolution and be able to give a strong debate (or support of Creation). The book didn’t quite have the approach we were hoping for, but it is a solid curriculum. 

Dissection was the focus toward the end of the year, and the girls worked their way up from small creatures to a fetal pig. I may not have been present for that dissection (or been sad to have missed it for the most part (grins). 


Spanish is probably the area that we are struggling most with – between having computers die on us and then the program we were using not having support available since it was merged with another company, Laurianna hasn’t quite finished her second year. We found another program that we are going to try beginning this year and see exactly where she is (so far she has finished about 1.5 years of Spanish). 

When the program wasn’t working for her and we were trying to figure out an alternative, she checked out books in Spanish (some of her favorite novels) and worked on reading them alongside her copies. She also has been spending time with several friends who speak Spanish which has been encouraging and helpful to her. Overall, hoping for a much better outcome in the upcoming year! 

Personal Finance

personal finance ramsey high school

While there really aren’t any exciting pictures to show from this class over the past year, our Foundations in Personal Finance class via Dave Ramsey is one I would highly recommend for any high school student. We typically worked on one unit over the process of two or three weeks and the kids completed additional assignments during the week. 

One thing I personally loved – the kids created a zero-based budget each month (granted for some kids very easy since they currently had no income), but having them consistently walk through the process was good practice. Overall, the kids learned about a huge realm of topics: creating an emergency fund, insurance, purchasing a car, paying for college (without borrowing money), and hands-on, practical topics they will use for years to come. 

For Laurianna, it was very encouraging and gave her some definitely goals for the upcoming years. She has already established her $500 emergency fund and been working hard over the summer to put aside money for her first car. 


This was another class Laurianna absolutely loved, and one we completed as a part of our small high school co-op. Although we had a small group of kids (only six), the discussions on current topics and issues that have shaped society were great to listen to. Overall, the Lightbearers program itself was solid, and our only complaint was the need to update video clips to more current clips (rather than from the late 80s and 90s). 


Laurianna received credit for participating in a year-long swim team (she attended practices 3-4 times a week for 1.5 hours at a time). Her swimming did improve over the course of the year and she is definitely one of our more determined and focused children when it comes to practice. Her love for swimming has spilled over into her job for the summer too, and for her birthday she asked for a lifeguarding course – and now lifeguards and teaches swim lessons at a local pool.

Voice Lessons


During the spring semester, Laurianna had the opportunity to take part in voice lessons through a local university.  We had much fun getting to know her instructor better (what is nicer than having a weekly home lesson?) and preparing for a small recital. Singing is another passion of Laurianna’s, so this was an area we were completely blessed to have work out (all thanks to one of her swim team coaches). 

This year was wonderful, a bit challenging at times, but puts us another year closer to graduation. Gulp! It’s hard to believe the year has flown by so quickly and we definitely can’t wait for the upcoming year either!

Other Year-End Reviews

 Take a peek at our 3rd grade, 5th grade, and 7th grade year end reviews too! Click on the below images to read the post.

3rd grade homeschool year in review 5th grade homeschool year in review 7th Grade Homeschool Year in Review 2016 from Homeschool Creations