Homeschooling Tips: Getting Started

Homeschool Tips and advice

When I decided to homeschool it sort of hit me upside the head.  I had never even considered it.  I saw Ezra struggling in some areas.  I saw that he wasn’t allowed to move forward in some areas.  I saw his frustration.  I saw his confidence begin to shift.  I had to do something.  When he broke his collar bone, it felt like a sign.  He could not attend school for a number of weeks and we had already been considering homeschooling (thanks to a very encouraging sweet friend who felt passionately about it).

There were things I just didn’t know.  I had no idea what homeschooling actually meant.  I had a quick crash course (again, from an aquaintence who works with a homeschooling charter school) on the ins and outs of homeschooling.

Here are somethings to consider if you are considering:

Time: Do you as a mother have the time to put in the hours and make sure your child is learning.  I am so very thankful that in this situation I was able to shift some things around and devote the time it takes to homeschool.  How much time does it take?  Each day Ezra spends about 4 hours on core subjects {math, science, language arts, social studies}, and about 30 minutes to an hour free reading.  On top of that we have to fulfil some electives {art, drama, pe, music, cooking,language}.  We decided that we would call our karate PE and we also take regular swimming lessons.  We added in art and cooking for a few hours a week.  Altogether we spend about 25 hours per week on actual studies.  Granted, Ezra is able to complete much of it on his own without me being right there with him, but I have to be there to help him if he needs it.  He is not old enough to stay home alone and I don’t feel like that is a responsibility he is ready for.  I also spend about 4-5 hours a week lesson planning and gathering supplies.  (I am hoping that next year will be less however, by using another curriculum).  The very first question to ask yourself after reading this paragraph is do I have 25-30 hours a week to devote exclusively to homeschooling?

Money:  There is homeschool money available out there all you have to do is access it.  Unfortunate for us this year, we missed the cut off date {generally Oct 1st for most states} to access any homeschooling funds.  Most states have a program to help you access those funds.  Our local one is called Vision Charter School and they have three campuses!  I had no idea this even existed until I started looking into homeschooling.  They will get state funding for me to purchase curriculum and pay for any classes I chose to sign my kids up for.  I am looking forward to being able to utiilize this next fall.  To find out if there is one in your area you can probably chat with a homeschooler you know {most local homeschoolers probably use the programs} or even google it as it would be part of your school district.  There are also public funded “blended” schools where kids can remote in online via webcam to certain classes.  I have some friends here on the Western Slope who utilized a blended school in Colorado Springs on the other side of the state.

Teaching: Do you feel like you can/want to teach your child?  I was a bit torn about it.  Ezra was so excited to begin homeschooling that I felt it was worth a shot.  If he “bought in” then he would be motivated to try harder.  It is a challenge somedays even still.  Looking back, I think we did pretty well together.  There were some hiccups, and some burnout toward the end of the year.  Overall, we rocked it.  I found I was able to relearn with him some of the math skills that honestly we just don’t use anymore.  (who multiplies fractions everyday?)  You don’t have to be a teacher, that is why you buy a curriculum.  Follow it and BAM they start learning!  If teaching your child sounds like a version of hell there are other options as well.   There are also public funded “blended” schools where kids can remote in online via webcam to certain classes.  I have some friends here on the Western Slope who utilized a blended school in Colorado Springs on the other side of the state.  They sent my friend a computer with a webcam for her child along with all of his books, supplies and a science kit.  He remoted in a few times a week and did much of his work independently to submit to his teacher online.

Socialization:  Everyone is concerned about socialization when homeschooling is mentioned.  I have found this to be a non issue.  This is different for every family.  We are involved in so many activities that Ezra was consistently given the opportunity to socialize with kids his age.  We also have friends who have kids his age that we could get him together with.  We often have family events and dinners which also is a great way for kids to socialize.  Who says socialization is only with kids their same age?  Part of socialization is learning to interact with adults as well.  I want my kids to be able and willing to carry on a conversation with an adult they come in contact with as well.  Late in the year, we tapped into some homeschooling groups and found a few families that have kids his same age.  This was a great blessing also!  To find out if there is a homeschooling group in your area, you can look up homeschool coop or home educators coop and it may put you in contact with other familes.  Our town is pretty small so I was able to find out who is homeschooling via word of mouth and go directly to them.  One thing to note:  I am not really shy or nervous about reaching out to people.  I was able to get out there and make some connections for the boys.  If this is a challenge for you, or if you don’t know any families that have kids around the same age as your kids already, this could be a challenge.  Simply signing them up for outside activities could help with that.  I know we run into all the same families over and over at our events {swimming, karate, etc}.

These topics will give you some food for thought when you are deciding whether or not homeschooling is something your family can do.  I suggest sitting down with your spouse and going through them and really discuss each topic.

Garlic Harvesting

The garlic that we planted last fall around Halloween was ready to harvest over the 4th of July weekend.

It looked good and ready.  The old wives tale is that when the ends start to turn yellow and crispy it is time to dig them up.  It generally falls around 4th of July according to my father.



I took them and braided them into clusters.

 garlic bulbs

garlic braiding

Aren’t the lovely?

 garlic growing

How to grow garlic

hanging garlic

To dry them out you have to hang them so we dedicated a portion of the pegboard in our garage to them.

 garlic hanging to dry

Have you tried growing garlic?  It is seriously the easiest thing I have grown thus far.   Check out my fall post for directions on how to plant it!


Ezra’s Birthday

This year, due to the fact that the trip to Boston was a big part of his birthday we had a very simple birthday for Ezra.  We invited family over for a bbq, the cousins ran through sprinklers and we ate cake.


He requested an ice cream cake and this tutorial was very helpful in creating an amazing ice cream cake.  ( I added in a couple of crushed oreo layers between mint and chocolate ice cream flavors and everyone raved about it).

ice cream cake


He asked if he could have a friend spend the night after the family left.  Once his friend arrived we headed out to the firepit for smores.

fire pit


We set up the teepee that the boys had gotten for Christmas and they watched the lego movie inside of it after the sun went down.  They decided to stay the night in the house because the teepee didn’t seem to keep bugs out very well.


It was a great birthday!

To finish off this post, I am going to share some things about Ezra at age 10 that I find endearing.

Ezra is very interested in what he is interested in. He will emerse himself in learning about a particular subject (like goats) and is willing to dedicate his energy to the subject.

He goes with the flow.  He definately has his own opinions but he is not stubborn and will bend to make things work for everyone.

He is happy go lucky.  He has moments where he is sad or even mad, but they pass very quickly and he generally wants to be a happy person and exudes cheer much of the time.

He is active.  He is not one to sit around staring at the TV or playing video games.  Even when he does get the opportunity he bores with it pretty quickly.

He is a helper.  He enjoys helping with projects, especially outside and likes to be a part of the things we are doing around the yard and house.  If something is going on, he definately wants to be a part of it, he does not want to sit on the sidelines.

He is quite possibly the sweetest person I have ever been around…ever!

He is loyal.  He loves people and is loyal to those who are important to him.  He values his friends and family and never has a bad thing to say about any of them!


Here is to being a decade old!

Following up on past posts: Your Q & A

I have gotten a couple of emails about some of the past posts.  I get so excited about getting emails from you guys, I absolutely will be happy to follow up with some of your questions!



How is the DIY Rustic Mirror holding up? Strangely this is one of my most read posts. Hundreds of people flock to my blog to read about my $10 mirror makeover.  More than a few of you have said that you wanted to make your own diy mirror.  Well, that mirror was never made to last unfortunately.  Although it was very pretty, it was a bit flimsy and it totally shattered in our move to the new house.  These sorts of things happen in moves.  Bummer!  At least it was not expensive.  Maybe I will make another one to hang in my new master bedroom!

Whats up with your positivity project?  Still Feeling positive?  This got tossed to the back burner when our house was put in the market last winter.  I was such a busy stressed mess that it seemed wrong to write about being positive, when I was running around like a crazed mess.  Since, life is great and I plan on picking up that series to touch on stress management and share a few things I learned (with quite a bit of failure in the mix) though some of the trying times of this last year.  Paul’s ankle surgery certainly added a big ol dose of worry and stress on my shoulders in October, along with Ezra breaking his collar bone.  So, while I would like to say I kept it cool the entire time, well that just is not true and I am nothing if not honest with you all.  Life is great though and I would love to share some things I learned through those tough times.  More to come there, keep watch!

Disney tips? Any  Some of you have noticed that we seem to love Disney!  Yep we have gone almost every year since Lucas was born.  I do have some fun tips to share and they were published on San Juan Parent, a local online magazine.  Go HERE if you are interested in reading them.

Have you made any updates to your new home. It looked like it needed some work?  Man, we have done some things, and I have not even had a chance to take pictures of them and post.  This last year really took us for a ride and I have done some projects in the middle of it all, but it takes a lot to get pictures and post.  I am promising myself I will be better about that.  I showed you all some of the painting we have done, and the little updates to Lucas’ room, I even showed the wallpaper coming down in Lucas’ room.  We have done more and I promise I will try harder to post about some of the things we are doing to our home.  We have a lot of fun stuff growing in the garden that I need to post about.  I can hardly wait!!!

Any chance you all will be having any more children?  You really seem to love being a parent?  We will not be having any more children.  We love having our two boys, and I wouldn’t change it in a second.  The four of us, we fit, and I couldn’t imagine having any other members running around here.  We have talked about adopting as it is something I have always wanted to do, there are so many children in the world that don’t have their needs met, or families to love them.  That may not be in the cards, but we love our family just the way it is.

Are chickens hard to care for in the winter?  Not at all, other than it is no fun to go out when it is cold and make sure they have fresh water.  They are pretty hardy and I will be posting a follow up on chicken care.  They are hanging in there!  Summer heat actually seems to be more of a challenge especially in our dry Colorado climate.

No more parties? Are you still a party planner? Hmmm, where to begin with that?  That just got very hard to keep up.  I kept having to turn parties down because I did not have the time to take them on.  I was getting calls on a regular basis and I found myself dreading it because I was already so very busy with life. Between shuttling the kids here and there, helping my husband at the shop and trying to keep the house, there just isn’t a ton of free time.  I decided it was not the time to add more to my plate.  I still throw them for my own children, for fun and I love to help others with their soirees.  :)

You mentioned once or twice that you co parent?  Any chance that you would be willing to share info about that, how that works for you?  Hmmmm, I have gotten this email more often than I imagined I would ever since I mentioned it in my Project Be More Positive series.  I have gone back and forth about whether or not I should breech the topic further.  It is quite personal and I really want to respect all parties involved including my son.  I am still on the fence about that.  I will say, we make it work!  Ezra is well adjusted and seems to have a great relationship with both me and his father along with my husband.  We all have respect for one another and try very hard to all do our best for Ezra.   For those of you who have co parenting problems, even though I am not comfortable giving advice and sharing details online publically, I would be happy to give you some privately via email.  I have answered many emails personally and love to help people with those sorts of things.

I have seen the pictures of your new yard, really how many hours of yard work do you do?  Haha, this one is another one people have been very curious about.  Either because they are considering moving to a home with a rather large lot or that they can’t fathom having such a yard.  My husband mows the lawn one a week and it takes him about an hour on the riding lawnmower.  (I couldn’t imagine how long with a push model!)  The flower beds and weeding could handle a little more time spent on them as the weed block is almost threadbare, but last summer I spend about an hour per week pulling weeds in the flower beds.  This year, we have spent less just because of the time it takes.  I spend about thirty minutes taking care of roses and flowers a week, again if I had more time I could certainly put it in.  My mother in law says she names and talks to all of her flowers, which is a lovely thought, but I just don’t have the time.   Each weekend we do tend to spend a couple of hours on some project, whether it be trimming hedges or building garden boxes, making compost bins, cutting suckers etc. Planting and maintaning our garden takes some time as well.  That being said, both of the boys are actively involved in the garden and help weed and water.  I believe in the children working hard as well as it makes the fruits taste that much sweeter.

What the heck is Waldorf?  This is another one that makes me smile because up until a number of months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to answer that question.  I did a follow up post HERE which generalizes it.

Okee dokee, hope that covers it all.  I love getting emails and I promise, I respond to each one.  Have something you are curious about?  Ask away… don’t be shy.

Thank you all for your support and I look forward to hearing from you all!

DIY Wine Rack

My Dad is pretty handy and an engineer.  I showed him some pictures of DIY wine racks online that I had seen but they didn’t have instructions.

My awesome father was able to help me engineer my wine rack.

We used three fence pickets and one two by four.

diy wine rack

He used his dremel tool to cut half moons out of the two by fours that are behind the wine “holes” so that they will be held up at an angle. {Dont mind the one that is at the higher angle, it was empty thus not heavy enough to sit even with the rest.}

diy wine rack

I love my wine rack.  It may be my favorite project I have done.  I love how rustic it looks and there is plenty of room for wine!

wine rack made of wood


Essential Oil Diffuser

I have a confession.  I am a bit embarassed.  I had these in my house, like for years.


They smell lovely.  However, I kept reading articles about how bad they were for our family.

But I looooooved them.  They smelled so nice when we walked into a room.  Nasty little devils!

A few months ago I began my research on how to get rid of them from our home.  The more I read, the more I was convinced that artifical fragrance was not something I wanted us to be breathing.  Words like Cancer, Brain Tumors, Neurological disorders, etc kept popping up in every  article I read and to be honest it freaked me out!

I found an alternative in Essential oils.

I love that by using certain oils you are not only making the house smell good, but purifying the air and killing germs in the air with the oil as well.  It is not just a cover up or a superficial smell, it actually is benefitting you while you breathe it.  This is such a different concept from the plug ins which actually are harmful to your mind and body while you breathe them.

Here is an easy way to diffuse if you don’t have a diffuser.  Take a large bowl  and place several drops of the oil in it and then top with hot water {not boiling as it will remove some of the positive properties of the oil if you scald it.  The warm water will diffuse the oil into the air.  This will give you a couple of hours of scent.

diffusing with a bowl of water

One thing to take into mind is the oils you are going to use.  I purchased Do Terra.  I know they are a bit expensive, but they are pure and not cut with a bunch of icky stuff.

I love these oils!

I mostly use a diffuser.  I actually didn’t order the Doterra diffuser because I didn’t think it was pretty and it was a bit pricey, so I ordered mine on Amazon.  Much prettier and more affordable.  I really like the wood grain look.

wood diffuser

Here is how you use it.

Fill it up to the fill line.

diffuser use

Drop several drops of an essential oil or an oil blend into the water.

Wild orange do terra diffusing

Cover it and hit on.

Do Terra essential oil diffusing

This one will diffuse ALL day.  It is perfect as I need something to set and forget.

Here is Wild Orange which has a lovely citrus smell to it.  It is very uplifthing and invigorating!  {Not to mention that these are pure enough you can cook with them, add to salad dressings, smoothies, water etc!}

Wild Orange Do Terra

Have you ever tried cleaning, aromatherapy, or healing with essential oils?

Do Terra Oils

I have enjoyed adding essential oil use to our home for so many reasons.  I feel that our home is healthier and it smells lovely!

Check out the Do Terra Website for more info on ordering them.  Or feel free to ask questions, I have had so much success with them I love to share tidbits!

 Doterra button


Boston/ Cape Cod Day 5


On our final day of fun we did a beach hop and a bit of exploring.  We were on the hunt for the ever elusive Stoney Beach in Woods Hole.  (We think we found it but weren’t sure so didn’t stop)  Stoney Beach claims that you can wade out 100 feet and look for crabs and starfish which sounded like fun.

Instead we hit Falmouth Beach and then Loops Beach.

Ezra loved spending time in the ocean and at Loops Beach he was able to search for fun things in the water because it was so shallow and calm.


 Loops beach

My grandparents took us to this lovely bakery in Falmouth (I don’t remember the name but it was fabulous).


That night we headed back into Boston so we could catch our plane the next morning.  We were so sad to leave the east behind.   But happy to return home to this sweet face.

 lucas crab hat

Boston/Cape Cod Trip Day 4

Since we were there as part of Ezra’s birthday my grandparents wanted to give him a special experience.  They arranged for us to go out on a kayak lesson.

 kayak tours cape cod

We headed down this marsh inlet which is brackish water, meaning it is fresh water mixed with salt water.

kayak cape cod

When we went out it was low tide so we were able to see the marsh walls and all the crabs and life that had crawled in while the water was high.  I didn’t get pictures during the tour for obvious reasons, but it was a beautiful scene.

kayak tour cape cod

By the time we paddled out of the marsh it was high tide and the water was to the top of the marsh.  It was a completely different scenery.

On our lesson we not only learned how to use the kayak and paddle correctly but we learned so much about the wildlife and birds of the area.  It was fascinating!

The company that we used was Ride Away Kayak tours.  They were very knowledgable!



Boston/Cape Cod Trip Day 3

For our third day we took the ferry to Nantucket.


I had never been to Nantucket and I fell in love.

The streets are cobblestone, the shops (although expensive) are quaint and full of interesting and beautiful finds.  It was a lovely day meandering the streets.


Ezra had the largest hot dog I had ever seen.

hot dog

My father and Ezra hopped on some rented bikes and biked some of the trails that go around the island.  They were so tired.  They rode for a long time and then were able to hop on a bus with a bike rack on the back to get back to town…how handy is that?

nantucket biking

We were so sad to say goodbye to Nantucket after just one day.  I think I could spend a week exploring the island and eating at the cafes and finding amazing beaches.

nantucket day




Boston/ Cape Cod Trip Day 2

On the second day of our trip we zipped over to a little eatery just a block from my Uncles house in Cambridge called Sofra (You might remember it from our last trip).  This place has the best food.  If you are ever in the Cambridge area, you have to check it out…amazing!

sofra cambridge

This is where I first had Beet Tzatziki.  I was so excited to go have some more!  (You probably remember this recipe I made for it.  It is a pretty good match!)

beet tzatziki

Then we headed to the Cape.

Cape Cod Bridge

We stopped for lunch at the Pilot House and a bit of fishing on the canal.  (by the way this place had the best chowder I have ever had)

Pilot house Cape Cod

fishing the canal

ezra on cape canal

We then headed to my grandparents house.  Isn’t it lovely.

Cape cod home

My dad and Ezra fished the pond for a bit.

fishing the pond on cape cod

Then we had a great seafood dinner with all of the family.

lobster eating on cape cod

Ezra loved having lobster.  ( I think he had three this trip!)