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Thursday, September 8, 2022

What About Yourself Are You Proud of?


"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 
1 Thessalonians 5:11 

When you see something beautiful in someone else, you should speak it.  That applies to yourself too. What about yourself are you proud of? Encourage and build yourself up today.

We would never think that encouraging someone would lead to arrogance and unhealthy/toxic pride, so why don’t we allow ourselves to encourage our own hearts?  As believers we are so on guard towards unhealthy pride/hubris that we don't want to speak encouragement to ourselves. Healthy pride is really just encouragement to our hearts and minds.  

Remind yourself about a time when you did something hard.  Remember how you persevered when you could have given up.  Talk about the times you held on and walked one small step at a time through pain when you could have just sat down and let the hurt swallow you.  Think about the amazing different traits God specifically created you with to help others. We are called as believers to persevere and to encourage, so do it to yourself too. 

I'll go first.

I'm really proud that I fight for healing from trauma and abuse. I do it with counseling and the Armor of God, but so many have access to that armor and do not pick it up. They run from the battle when it doesn't feel fair, because it isn't fair. It isn't fair I have to keep fighting battles because of others' sin, but it is either fight or give up. I choose to keep fighting.

I'm also proud of the fact that I had 7lb and 6 lb twin boys vaginally. It was super scary and super hard, but I kept pushing (pun intended) and advocated for a safe delivery without a c-section, even when many thought there was no way I could do it.

Please comment and tell me something you are proud of!!!  I want to hear your encouragement!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

High School Curriculum, Tenth Grade: Switching from MFW to Sonlight


We have finally switched away from the curriculum we have used from K-9th grade!  
I still highly recommend it for K-8th, but our experience with My Father's World 9th grade curriculum pushed me to finally move to Sonlight for High School!

I have always wanted to try Sonlight, but the cost was prohibitive. Thankfully we were able to utilize the tips for homeschooling on a tight budget and rent most of it from a friend! A few items that I wasn't able to borrow or rent, we bought used on ThriftBooks



Figuring out the sequences of what to buy from Sonlight was a little confusing at first. Sonlight offers a Mix and Match Program, which is more complicated, but also much more flexible.  You pick the order your need for your student. 

Our old curriculum,  MFW high school, was much more simple: you bought 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade depending on your child. This was great when ordering, but it limited you to one level and one learning sequence. The history and literature wwere scheduled to be chronological, from Creation to Modern Times.  While this seems in theory like a great way to not have any historical gaps, you fly through reading a textbook with no time to digest what you are reading. Ninth Grade's history study was only Creation to the Greeks, so I assumed 10th grade would follow the family cycle and do Rome to Reformation, but I bought the 10th grade World History and Literature (which I sold without using) and it CRAMS all the history from Rome to Modern Times into one year.  The 11th and 12th were two long years of American History from a textbook alone.


My Father's World pricing has changed a lot since we began, a using it in Kindergarten.

I still believe when you are homeschooling a large group of multi-age students, MFW is still a a very good cost per student because of the large one classroom approach, I just can no longer say it is the most budget friendly.

My Father's World no longer has basic packages, which was extremely disappointing.  For about two years during the pandemic they had also removed the ability to order a la carte, which was extremely frustrating when I would just need one or two books from MFW, but I just checked and they finally brought it back.  Enough people must have complained. 

I had originally went with MFW over Sonlight because it was way cheaper, but for High School it didn't make sense to pay so much for items we were not going to use. Most high school homeschoolers have to buy their math, science, and electives separately anyways, so Sonlight's ability to mix and match and buy a la carte History and Literature items made it so I didn't have books we would not use, like we did with MFW 9th grade.

To make Sonlight cheaper you really do have to work at it, we used all my homeschooling on a budget tips to do it. 


The boys each have their own basket from the Dollar Tree that store their calculators, math student sheets, pencils, and any other school supplies.

The only con I have seen so far for Sonlight is the manual isn't just one simple open and go with ALL your subjects, like MFW.  Even though we didn't have the greatest 9th grade experience, I will say that NO ONE beats the simple organization of MFW teacher's manuals!  I ended up typing up our own agendas for each boy based on the open and go manual we were used to with MFW, all the subjects in one place. 

By typing our own agendas I was able to combine all their syllabus into one place. They can check off History, Literature, Math, Spanish, Electives, P.E., Co-Op Homework, and Chores all in one place.  The even have a blank spot for any other items they wanted to add. It took way too long, but I am hoping it is worth it in the long run so the boys can still just open and go each morning.  
Next year I will probably still do this, but probably won't include as many details in History and Lit Subjects.  

Classic Literature, Root Words, and American History.

The Sonlight curriculum comes with the History/Bible and Literature in one big binder, but with twins I needed to divide them so it was easier to share.  We also have a magazine file holder for them to store the living history or literature book they are currently reading next to the manuals.

American History 120
Because we are switching from MFW to Sonlight, I had to start with 120-American History to make sure we got in a solid year of American History.  While I appreciate studying history in chronological order of the MFW Family Cycle, one of my biggest criticism of MFW High School was it began with heavy archaic reading in 9th grade. 

I like that Sonlight begins with American History, a more accessible touch point for younger students than ancient contexts and cultures.  The living books provided are perfect for their age 

The manual gives insightful and specific discussion questions for them to discuss their History Spine  (A History of the US by Joy Hakim) with me daily as their teacher. This curriculum is way to teach critical thinking skills in regards to History, and I am really looking forward to the discussion we will have! 

Bible is also included in the History Binder.  

Next year we will be skipping Sonlight's 220 History of the Christian Church and proceeding to 320- 20th Century/World History.

History Books to be read

Classic Literature 230
"Stories set mostly chronologically through history, mostly by British authors, you’ll travel from first-century Israel to World War II and beyond in this 36-week program."

Sonlight's ability to mix and match really came in handy because we are skipping History 220-History of the Christian Church, but we we didn't want miss 230-Classic Literature . We will be revisiting American Literature again in 430 so I am ok skipping it for ninth and focusing on some of my favorite pieces of literature, like Dickens, Shakespeare, and Austen. 

I am really thankful for the discussion questions in the student guides so we can talk about what they are reading in a more meaningful way.  In MFW I was suppose to meet with them just once a week and just ask them about what stood out to them, but Sonlight really engages the student and parent daily to discuss what is being read.  The parent guide is helpful because it also provides answers. While I am looking forward to discussing some of the my favorites, I haven't ALL the books on the syllabus and need those answers!

Literature Books to be read


Sonlight recommends adding Worldly Wise for vocabulary practice, but we already own English from the Roots Up from when we did Creation the Greeks.  Although we did cover this book in fourth grade my boys really needed a refresher course as older and more mature students.  This books is great for life in general, but also a great opportunity to reviews etymology before PSATs at the end of sophomore year.

Math , Science, Spanish, and the Parent Binder

We have used Math U See since Kindergarten and we still love it. To see more detailed review, click on picture below.  This year we are finally into Algebra 2!

Review of Math U See

We had planned to do Chemistry after Friendly Biology , but many people recommended waiting on Chemistry until we have gotten through Algebra 2.  My husband works in Dual Enrollment in local Community College and he suggested Integrated Physics and Chemistry, a course many local highs school use before Chemistry.

"IPC consists of twelve chapters of text and twelve companion student activities. This course introduces students to the people, places and principles of physics and chemistry." 

The ordering is a little confusing because twelve chapters is actually TWO YEARS of curriculum. Once I figured that out I was able to order: Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC) 1st Year Full Course Kit – Digital Download.

I bought the digital download of Lessons 1-6 because with the twins because I needed to be able to print more than one copy of each activity pages.


Because we homeschool on a tight budget, we bought an old edition of BJU Spanish 1 used from a friend.

Personal Finance
I am planning to organize a Financial Reality Fair for our local co-op. Financial Reality Fair is an immersive budgeting experience that gives students a glimpse into what it costs to live independently, and how take responsibility for personal financial decisions with the use of a Monthly Budget Tracker.
Junior high and high school students will have the opportunity to encounter some of the financial challenges they will face as an adult, such as cost of housing, entertainment, and transportation. This toolkit is flexible and can be used in a variety of educational settings, such as a homeschool cooperative or public school.

We attend a homeschool cooperative where the boys take drama, gym, and other great classes. 

They will also spend time experimenting with Graphic Design on Canva and coding on Hour of Code.

Monday, August 15, 2022

First Day of 10th Grade, Scavenger Hunt


We have begin our tenth grade, new school year and and we have stopped using the curriculum we have used since Kindergarten! 

As we get used to our new HIGH SCHOOL CURRICLUM, I wanted to start our school year with the same Back to HOMESchool Traditions we have done since Kindergarten!

After a special breakfast of cinnamon rolls, we have our annual First Day of School Scavenger Hunt! The prize at the end is always inexpensive.  It only take maybe FIVE minutes at most, so there is no worry about derailing your schedule for the day. It is OK that the clues are easy because the object of the game is NOT problem-solving hard riddles.  The object is to start the school year with fun!


The hunt was started by me handing them this clue:

Poke around the Pale Pachyderm


Second Clue was found on my white elephant statue:

Find the panda food near the pooper. 


Third Clue was found behind the bamboo plant in the bathroom:

Pop can plinkers. 


Fourth Clue was found on their BB Gun ammunition:

Partake in a snack prohibited to people with braces.



Fifth Clue was found inside our Whirley Pop popcorn maker.  This one almost tripped them up, they looked int he cabinets at the popcorn kernels and in the snack cabinet. It was fun watching them figure it out:  

Move to the machine that removes moisture.


The Prize was in the dryer!  Tis year the prize was just a ton of SNACKS! 

Name brand snacks are a luxury in our house, so I filled a bag with half a dozen random foods I knew my bottomless-pit teenagers would love to snack on during school.

For more First Day Scavenger Hunt Examples:

Friday, July 22, 2022

Print and Cursive with Minecraft

Learning Cursive with Minecraft

Print Practice with Minecraft

Take the whining out of handwriting practice with Minecraft copywork!

While I love having my kids copy classic literature, sometimes you need a fun relatble content. 


Kids learn better when the subject has meaning to them.  Kids who love Minecraft will love these worksheets.

These Cursive and Print Handwriting Worksheets are designed to give meaningful handwriting practice through copywork of names and worlds from Minecraft.


  • D'nealian Alphabet Reference Chart
  • Part 1: Upper and lower case practice
  • Part 2: Minecraft related words for copywork
  • Part 3: Minecraft related sentences for copywork

These packets are perfect for use in homeschool, classroom, during summer, or anytime your child needs handwriting practice.

Monday, July 18, 2022

5 Back to HOMEschool Tips

 Back to HOMEschool Tips!

It is back to school season, which can very exciting, but also very nerve wracking.  Your child may be sad their neighborhood public school friends are getting on that yellow school bus.  Or you may be comparing your days to happy smiling kids on Instagram with new shoes and backpacks.

Make back to HOMEschool just as fun as the retail market tries to make back to school fun.

Let’s give our kids a tangible ways to celebrate their first day back of homeschool. I believe every homeschool family can find some type of “beginning” to celebrate, even if you’re unschoolers or school year-round. 

Trust me, excitement is contagious. When they are excited, you will be too.

Back to Homeschool Tip #1

Our first day of school is our first half day too! Some of the best advice I’ve ever received from a mentor homeschool mom was to ease into my year with a few subjects at a time. If may be hard for those of you who like to check off all your boxes, but a slow start for the year is a healthy way to allow a students’ confidence to grow for each subject as it comes, and as the teacher I can get a handle on our school year routine. We start history and science on our first week, add math the second week, language arts the third, and by the fourth week we are full steam ahead. The half day also allows us to do some of the other fun first day traditions.

Back to Homeschool Tip #2

A simple treasure hunt gives real joy to your morning, without derailing the schedule for the day. We have four to five simple clues, and the prizes at the end are always inexpensive and related to school. This year the prizes were erasable colored pencils and chewing gum. It is OK that the clues are easy and the hunt only takes five minutes, because the object of the game is NOT problem-solving hard riddles. The object is to start school with fun! I thought my junior high boys would have grown out of this tradition this year, but it was just as exciting as when they were in 1st grade. We have each boy take turns reading and solving a clue. Make sure you have enough clues for each of your children

Back to Homeschool Tip #3

Let’s face it, food talks. Make it a holiday for your kids with their favorite breakfast food. If I’m feeling really overwhelmed , I just go to the store the night before and buy a box of donuts! Kids are not picky when it comes to sugary treats; they just want something out of the ordinary, anything that says “This is a special day!”

Back to Homeschool Tip #4

You may think your big second grader is all grown up, but years from now you will look back at and see how truly tiny they really were. Give yourself grace to be authentic. Last year my kids were freshly bathed with new clothes and a beautifully decorated chalkboard sign on their first morning of school. The next year our “first day of school” pictures took place on the fourth day of lessons at 4:30pm and I had to beg my kids to change out of pajamas! Give yourselves a break! You are the mom, the cook, the principal, security guard, and teacher. It is OK to not be the perfectly scheduled yearbook photographer. The key is documenting the beginning of something new, not how Pinterest-worthy your pictures are.

Back to Homeschool Tip #5

Celebrate your freedom from the public school calendar! Take your family vacation in late August or September, instead of July. Go on a camping trip, or enjoy the quiet beach all to yourself! Go to museums during weekday daytime hours. Invite your homeschool friends to the best park in your town, on a Tuesday at 10:00am! Use this season to revel a little bit in the freedom we have as homeschoolers.

Tips for Visiting Mammoth Cave


We just got back from a trip to Mammoth Cave and want to share some of the tips we learned with you!


  • DOWNLOAD MAPS BEFORE GETTNG OFF HIGHWAY  Cell Coverage is awful at the park and around the area!  The best thing you can do is to download maps before arriving in the area because your GPS may not function well.

  • STAY NEAR THE SOUTH ENTRANCE-  Mammoth Park is HUGE. Our AirBnb in Park City was minutes from park entrance, but even then it was still a full 10 to 15 minute drive to visitor center. If you stay near the north entrance you will have to use the Ferry to get to the Visitor Center for Cave Tours, and that could really delay your day, or even make you miss a tour. 
    • I'd recommend Cave City or Park City.  We looked at AirBnbs that were 20 to 45 minutes from the entrance, which would have meant we couldn't come and go from the park like we did. Since it was free and close, we didn't feel like we had to be in the park all day. We left, ate dinner, then would come back for an evening hike or a look at the dark sky


  • BOOK EARLY- We had picked our cave tours 2 months ahead of time, but hadn't checked out for a few weeks because we were waiting a few  scheduling details. When we went to book the tours the ones we wanted were now full! We were still able to do some great tours, but if you want one of the most popular tours, like Frozen Niagara, book early!

  • KNOW YOUR LIMITS/CHECK STAIR COUNT-  When booking your tour please know your body's limits, and anyone in your group's limits, including elderly and young children.  Our ranger told us he had to carry an 80 year woman out of the cave just the day before because half way through she just said she was done and fell down.  If you have a medical emergency it will take several hours (they said average of 4 hours) to get you out of the cave
    1. Remember to check stair count before booking tour- You are going down into the earth, and then have to come back UP! Almost all tours start and end with the starts at the Historic Entrance, but many have hundred more on the tours itself!  A few of the stairs were a little scary for those who are afraid of heights, like the fire tower in Mammoth Dome.

    2. Its not just the stairs! For all the tours that start at the visitor center, pretty much all, there is a very long and very steep hill on the way down to the entrance, so steep that even if strollers were allowed (which they aren't) I would not feel comfortable using a stroller down it. And this hill then has to be climbed AFTER you end your tour. It isn't too bad going down, but when you come out of a 2 hour tour with hundreds of steps, into a 30/40 degree temptation change, that hill feels a lot steeper.
The temperature change from the cave to the surface is drastic and fogged our glasses. 
 Our guide told us the temp change can also give several people a headache.

  • DRESS IN LAYERS- It is 54 degrees in the cave, but you are moving a lot so we were very comfortable in shorts and a sweatshirt. On our lantern tour I began to get hot from the lantern I was carrying and took off my sweatshirt a few times, but would quickly replace as the cold winds blew through.

    • To go slower: Pick how close you're to the guide to helping with pacing. It seems counter intuitive, but the tour guides wisely informed us that in big tours stay in front nearest the guide to go at a SLOWER pace. The tour of 100 people get big gaps when the trail bottle necks in a tight spaces, so people in back have to rush to keep up. I had read one negative review on our historic tour where someone complained they felt rushed. I can now see they must have been at the back and had to keep rushing to keep up with the group.
    • Lantern tour: We liked being in the back of the lantern tour because we were able to see more of the cave with all the lights. I do think it would have been cool to see the darkness at the front of the line though. It was a much smaller tour of only 40 people so we never felt rushed in the back.

  • TRY A LANTERN TOUR FIRST- Our first tour into the cave was the Star Chamber Tour.  Being introduced to the cave lantern was a great way to experience the cave it has been experienced by others for thousands of years.  
  • NO STROLLERS IN CAVE/BABY CARRIERS ON FRONT- Strollers are not allowed in cave, and would not work if they were.  Our tour guide reminded the groups that if you choose to wear a baby, you have to wear them on front because when you duck, they do not!  Some of the spots are SO tight you really won't be able to duck enough to get a baby on your back through.  In Fat Man's Misery (Historic Tour) it would be a tight squeeze to even get a baby through on your front.

  • HIKING-  Take advantage of the above ground trails!  They are all free!
    • Sinkhole Trail- This trail should be done if your cave tour goes through Mammoth Dome at all. The Sinkhole is above the dome and has a helpful illustration of how it formed the dome below!  
  • Heritage trail-  Easy paved and cat walk trails for the whole family. Take it at Sunset for great views!



    • Bucky Bees BBQ- Perfect sample of Kentucky BBQ cuisine. The pulled pork and it's dry rub was delicious, we all ate it to the last bite. I would drive back to Kentucky just for this pulled pork.  Cornbread, green beans ribs and pulled pork are amazing. My husband got sampler platter. He found grilled pork shoulder dry and brisket a little dry, but everything else was great. They also have a great salad bar option. Don't forget to add their homemade BBQ sauce, the Sweet is AMAZING

    • Cave City Creamery-  Great little Ice Cream and Coffee Place for the whole family. The coffee is just ok,  but great variety of flavors of ice cream for the kids! 


    • DARK SKY- Mammoth cave is an international dark sky. Make time to visit the park at night to look at the stars without city light pollution. The park is free and open all night so you can drive back in whenever you'd like.

    • Adventures of Mammoth Cave: Preteens, Teens, and Adults If you have older kids, this is the place to be!  There really isn't much for younger than Preteen, but my teens loved it.

      • Zipline Tour- It is expensive, but do you really want to do a CHEAP zipline?  It was a full tour and totally worth the money.  You are safely ziplining in the trees, always hooked to a tree at every moment. Even my son who is very scared of heights had a great time and felt very safe! Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures because we were all too afraid to take our phones with us! 
      • Horseback Riding- We had a great time riding horses!  The trail was challenging up and down hills and the horses were so well trained!

      • Ropes Course- Very safe, I was deeply impressed with their carbineer lock system, but not intro level at all.  The whole course is very challenging and not for amateurs.