About Me

My photo
I'm a Christian Mom answering the call to educate our children at home. You can also follow me at www.facebook.com/littleschoolofthewest and on Twitter @schoolofthewest

Sunday, May 15, 2016


What a busy, challenging year we've had!

After the birth of our beautiful daughter (who will be one this week already!!) we lost my husband's grandfather, decided to move, and lost my grandmother.

As life continued to change around us we proceeded with our homeschooling journey.

The boys have made great strides in their education this year, particularly their reading!

 After discovering that this boy has a passion for historical readers he took off (especially when I told him that after he read me the book he could watch a documentary).  It has been a lot of fun exploring several different topics in depth with him.

 Here he is reading about Babe Ruth while we waited for his brother to finish his choir rehearsal.

His favorite is reading (or listening) to books in front of the fire place on a cool morning/evening.

 I am reading Teaching from Rest with the book club I recently joined and I LOVE it! The author, Sarah, is so inspiring. After I began reading the book I did a search online for her blog and discovered that she has a podcast (something of which I did not know much about until recently and now I can't get enough! I'm listening in the car when I'm by myself, while I do dishes, fold laundry, etc.). Her podcast is called Read- Aloud Revival and it's all about building your family culture around books. In March we joined a lot of the families that follow Sarah and had a D.E.A.R. day for Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday. The boys and I had a great time reading to ourselves and reading aloud and then baking a cake :) We have now joined in the reading challenge for the month of May; if the boys read to me every day for at least 15 minutes they can enter into a contest to win some pretty cool stuff. We haven't missed a day yet, the boys have been extremely motivated (especially since they get to choose coupons periodically with some fun activities).

 Recently Josh decided that he wanted to start reading me the Magic Tree House series. The first book in the series was only his second chapter book he's completed (this was the first he chose willingly :) The historical readers he's been reading have "chapters" but they're about two pages long. He is doing so well, reading with great expression and really enjoying the stories. Going through these books with him again is such a joy, he LOVED listening to each of them as read alouds when we went through them a a few years ago and it's fun reminiscing about what he remembers.

 This boy is never to be outdone by his brother, I've said several times since he was born that his goal was to catch up with Josh from the moment we brought him home... he's catching up alright, once Josh finished the first book of the series Nathan decided he needed to read it. He doesn't read with quite as much expression and he still likes choosing other readers as well but he's doing a great job! He's six reading at a second grade level as well as doing second grade math.

With our Sonlight books and stacks of library books we bring home often we'll continue to "build our family culture around books" (books in hand or audio books with Dad), will you? :)

Monday, September 14, 2015

2015-2016 School Year

We're already 3 weeks into our new school year.  The boys are doing great!  Here are their back to homeschool interviews, enjoy!  :)

My name is: Nathan

I am __5 1/2 and a little bit older___ years old.

My favorite food is: Cinnamon Waffles

I really, really do not like to eat: broccoli

My favorite show to watch is: Richie Rich

My favorite movie is: The Worm movie

My favorite books are: Go, Dog. Go!

The best thing about school is: my Brain Quest workbook

The worst thing about school is: the stuff that's hard

The coolest person on Earth is: God

I am really good at: playing soccer with Dad and Josh

My favorite color is: Orange and Red

The best place in the world to be is: Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and our house

When I grow up I want to: be a computer tech like Dad

If I could do one thing all day long it would be: play Minecraft

My best friend is: Katie

Jesus is: Our Savior

When I was little I used to: play with baby toys

3 words that describe me: talkative, smart, friendly

This year I hope to learn: about how our heart works

My name is: Josh

I am __8___ years old.

My favorite food is: Bacon

I really, really do not like to eat: broccoli

My favorite show to watch is: Ninjas

My favorite movie is: Space Camp

My favorite books are: Titanic

The best thing about school is: Math

The worst thing about school is: Nothing

The coolest person on Earth is: Mom and Becca (they're my favorite people)

I am really good at: baseball 

My favorite color is: Green

The best place in the world to be is: with my family

When I grow up I want to: take over Grandpa's business 

If I could do one thing all day long it would be: play Minecraft

My best friend is: Dylan

Jesus is: God

When I was little I used to: play with Dylan (I met him when I was 5)

3 words that describe me: athletic, flexible and kind 

This year I hope to learn: Everything!

Looking forward to another good year!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Our Homeschool Mission Statement

At the first Homeschool convention I attended a couple years ago (and in several books/blogs that I've read since then) they encouraged those starting out in their homeschooling journey to write a Homeschool Mission Statement. The purpose is so that we can look back on it in the years to come, to remember why we decided to homeschool in the first place and what our main goal is for our kids. I've made some notes here and there since then and thought it was about time I put them all together.

When I first began blogging after we made this decision I wrote this post listing reasons why we decided to homeschool. Everything listed there is still a very important part of our decision but our mission statement goes a bit deeper than that.

Why are we Homeschooling?
Above all we are homeschooling our children because God called us to do so. We know that if our children were meant to attend a private school that God would provide for their tuition, but after much deliberation and prayer we knew that God had a different plan for our family. We feel confident that if/when His plans change for us we will be ready and willing to take another path.

What are our spiritual goals?
We want to instill a Godly character in our children, to give them a Christian worldview, and to ultimately find God's given purpose for their lives. A couple of things that I've heard in the homeschool community since we started are: 1) to point our kids toward Heaven, not Harvard and 2) that the two most important subjects in our homeschool should be History and Theology.

I struggle with this next one a bit because so much of the time I just want/need them to get their work done so we can move on to other things... but I really want to be able to focus on the big picture (i.e. their relationship with Christ as their savior and His plan for their life) and THEN focus on the academics. Every education has gaps and I can't beat myself up later over any little thing that we didn't cover. If I instill in my children a love of learning, nothing will stop them from achieving any goal they set for themselves.

Proverbs 22:6New International Version (NIV)

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chugging Along

In an effort to complete the school year by the time the baby arrives (or at least around that general time so we have the summer to just enjoy being a new family of 6) we are pushing through most holidays. We didn't take an extended time off for Christmas or New Years, which worked out just fine since we usually just make sure to take the days off that Craig has off from work, which meant we had two 4 day weekends instead of 2 full weeks off.

To keep the boys from getting bored with the same workbook material each day I continue to try to switch things up now and then.

Josh has a pen pal that he has written back and forth a couple times. He hates writing so it has been good practice and since he knows he's going to get mail back in return it's not as much of a fight :)
During the month of January he had the opportunity to learn to play hockey.

Baseball season is upon us once again, this year he's on the Angels!

Nathan worked steadily in his Kinder books all Summer/Fall and is now starting to slow down a bit (which I have no problem with since he just turned 5....). He still sits with us during our read-aloud time but when it comes to their individual work he will choose an educational game on my iPad, or work on a craft of some sort.

David is a challenge to keep busy, sometimes he decides he needs to join us but that usually doesn't end well. Most of the time he finds his way into the boy's room where all of our games are and takes out Hungry Hippos... he LOVES that game!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time is Flying

2015. Wow!

Soon after I posted about our back to homeschool interviews I found out that in May we will be blessed with another precious bundle of joy.

We can't wait! I've always wanted four kiddos, Craig wasn't so sure about a fourth until our (now) youngest was about 6 months old and he agreed that our family didn't quite seem complete.

Since my husband is the type that needs to know the sex of the baby as soon as possible he scheduled an ultra sound at our local mall the day I was 15 weeks along for a gender reveal :) Much to our surprise (I was convinced there was a 1% chance) they told us we are expecting a baby GIRL!!

The boys are excited about adding a baby sister to the family, from the moment we told the boys I was pregnant Nathan started praying that it was a baby sister :) She is going to be one loved and well protected little girl.

This pregnancy has brought about some changes in our school year.  Fortunately, I don't deal with anything too severe as far as morning sickness symptoms, etc. but there is always a time when I'm not feeling 100% and with this pregnancy the worst part of the day was actually in the morning. (With Josh it was any time I got a little hungry... no matter what time of day, with Nathan I had to snack on crackers or something small all day and with David it was mainly in the evening... couldn't eat much for dinner in the first or last trimester with him.) It has been amazing getting to "know" each of them in the womb and then in person but the fact that your body can react so differently to the pregnancy hormones each time still doesn't quite make sense to me; same hormones, same body.... should know after the first how your body is going to react, right? NOPE

Anyway, since I was dead to the world in the morning for awhile there we would have a nice slow start to our day and get our work done in the afternoon while David napped (which is when we usually do our read-alouds anyway). There were some days when we would still be finishing things up when Craig got home in the evening. All that matters is, we kept chugging along... with some adjustments.

I've been feeling like myself again for a few weeks and it's been SO nice. My energy is back and I can eat what I want when I want :) 

The beginning of our school year didn't bring a lot of crafts, unit studies or fun worksheets (they still got to do a lot of that fun stuff at Bible study and co-op)... it was mainly just checking the basics off our to-do list. Keeping that in mind I've switched things up a bit lately, especially since we only took one week off for the holidays (pushing through the holidays, I'd like to be done early for summer since baby girl will arrive in May). 

Josh has discovered lately that he enjoys word searches so I printed some out for him to do this week along with his math (a nice break from his usual phonics worksheets).

I also printed some fun Lego math worksheets that are always a hit.

For Nathan I pulled out some Read, Build and Write mats that I printed awhile back from homeschoolcreations.com and he is really enjoying them. He loves using our alphabet stamps to build the words.

As for David, he's your typical 2 year old. He has, however, started pointing out shapes in every day objects so he received Tiggly Shapes for Christmas and LOVES them. 

How has your school year been treating you?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014-2015 School Year

The past week has been a busy one as we slowly started to get back into our school routine. I wanted to continue our back to homeschool survey tradition so I compiled their answers a couple days ago, here they are :)

Back to Homeschool Interview:

My name is: Nathan

I am __4 1/2___ years old.

My favorite food is: Turkey Sandwich

I really, really do not like to eat: broccoli

My favorite show to watch is: Mickey Mouse

My favorite movie is: The Lorax

My favorite books are: Thomas the Train

The best thing about school is: Leap Frog workbook

The worst thing about school is: when homework gets harder

The coolest person on Earth is: Katie

I am really good at: running and swimming

My favorite color is: orange is the best!

The best place in the world to be is: California at Disneyland

When I grow up I want to: be a Fireman and a soccer player

If I could do one thing all day long it would be: play in the wading pool with Josh, Dylan, Katie, Emily and David

My best friend is: Noah

Jesus is: God

When I was little I used to: crawl

3 words that describe me: smart, caring, good

This year I hope to learn: about Jesus

Back to Homeschool Interview:

My name is: Josh

I am __7 and one month___ years old.

My favorite food is: pizza

I really, really do not like to eat: healthy foods

My favorite show to watch is: Max Steal

My favorite movie is: LEGO Movie

My favorite books are: Ninjago

The best thing about school is: Math

The worst thing about school is: Phonics

The coolest person on Earth is: Dylan

I am really good at: baseball (catcher)

My favorite color is: Green

The best place in the world to be is: with Dylan

When I grow up I want to: be a baseball coach 

If I could do one thing all day long it would be: hang out with Dylan

My best friend is: Dylan

Jesus is: God

When I was little I used to: suck on a pacifier

3 words that describe me: talkative, loud, energetic 

This year I hope to learn: lots and lots of Science! 

Looking forward to another good year!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Curriculum Choices 2014-2015

We are a few weeks away from starting our new school year (besides what we've continued this summer) but I thought I'd share my curriculum choices.

I'm excited that we're continuing with Sonlight this year for Bible, History/Geography and read-alouds.  The boys and I are excited to start filling in their Timeline Book with the Biblical and Historical figures we'll be learning about together.  I decided not to purchase all of the read-aloud books but that we would find those at our local library.  The boys and I really enjoy our trips to the library and this not only saves us money but space on our already full book shelves.

The boys are going to continue their Language Arts (Explode the Code) and Math (Horizons) at their own levels.

Nathan is only 4 1/2 but he is ready for Kindergarten so this year we will have a Kindergartener, First grader and toddler.

I debated for a long time whether Nathan would be considered in Kinder or Pre-K but he has demonstrated time and time again the past few months that he is ready for Kinder.  I never thought my boys that are 2 1/2 years apart in age would only be a year apart academically but we are using homeschooling to our advantage and going at their own pace :)

I had originally planned on using Sonlight Science but then discovered the Magic School Bus Young Scientists Club for half off and since the boys LOVE Magic School Bus, and receiving mail, I decided to go with that for our Science curriculum this year.  So far it's been a big hit!  I'm sure next year we'll have plenty of Science fun with Sonlight's living books and experiments.

Last year, in our Sonlight curriculum, there was an Art book with beautiful pictures we would discuss once or twice a week, this year I decided to go with ARTistic Pursuits.

In addition to the subjects we'll be learning together at home the boys will continue to memorize their verses in Awanas on Wednesday nights, Community Bible Study on Thursday mornings and subjects with their friends in our co-op on Fridays.

A lot of fun times ahead :)  What is your favorite curriculum?