Courtney B. of Irvine, California
- Paul - Daddy
- Courtney - Mommy
- TJ - oldest son
- Natalie - oldest daughter
- Sophie - youngest daughter
- Liam - youngest son
- Peaches - Guinea Pig
- Cocoa - Guinea Pig
Elizabeth of California State
We are a family of four! Daughter, son, mommy and daddy. We also have four fur babies; two cats and two dogs. Daddy works from home and Mommy takes care of our home and homeschool. We loving being outdoors and learning about creation.
A.J. of Chico, California
Dad is a professor at the local state college teaching PE students. Mom is going on her 11th year of having adventures in homeschooling and inviting the community in to them. The oldest son is a perpetual builder of all things metal and wood. The middle son is a Lego teacher and builder. The youngest son is always scheming up ways to make more money than his older brothers. All three boys fend off each other with their 1st degree black belts. The dog is ready like a trigger for any sense of action coming from the boys to join in on.
Laura M. of Northern California
I'm Laura and I'm a blogger, professional organizer, wife, mom, and teacher. My husband Dustin is a production cleaner and is passionate about all things technology (including building custom computers!). Our daughter Maddie is four years old and loves learning, exploring the outdoors, art, and books.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Courtney: My mom used Timberdoodle to homeschool me and now I’m using you guys to homeschool my kids! The math products are excellent and we really enjoy Dr. Bonyfide! We use them every day to homeschool and play games as a family.
Elizabeth: We are first time homeschoolers this year and a friend recommended Timberdoodle. I was overwhelmed by all the curriculum options available and with starting homeschool for the first time. My friend said she used this program for her kids and loved it. The best part for me was that the Timberdoodle curriculum included everything we needed for the whole school year! What a relief that was for a new homeschool family! Plus Timberdoodle offers a customizable daily schedule I use to keep us on track! It makes it so easy and I don’t need to worry about what we will be doing everyday. And the cherry on top? Both my kids loved all the curriculum they got! My daughter loves Math U See and my son loves the All About Reading program. We use our Timberdoodle curriculum everyday for our homeschool!
AJ: I learned about Timberdoodle 11 years ago when my first son was in Kindergarten. I think I stumbled upon it on the internet when searching for curriculum. What struck me was that I had been asking various moms for recommendations on a few subjects and lo and behold Timberdoodle had the exact recommendations. That brought initial credibility. Then as I discovered our own family's style I loved Timberdoodles philosophy and it was a great fit for us. My oldest now is mid 10th grade and Timberdoodle has been the backbone of our curriculum and will remain so.
Laura: We've been using Timberdoodle for two years and have pieces from the Preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten kits that make their way into our days. I've known about Timberdoodle since way back in my own homeschooling days, but was re-introduced to the company via the magic of YouTube!
Our favorite products are the SmartGames and hands-on materials. We also love All About Reading and STEM sets. My daughter gets access to most of the hands-on materials whenever she wants to do them, but we also have "structured" time when we sit down and go through a subject, such as reading or math, together. We don't follow an official schedule yet, it's more a daily rhythm that we fit into our lives, along with plenty of play, outdoor time, and exploration.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Courtney: We start school around 9:30 a.m. and mix in dance, exercise and chores for breaks and finish around 1:30 p.m., sometimes later. We typically do math, science and spelling every day. And then we mix in art, history and writing/reading in between days. We eat breakfast first thing because we are all starving! Then lunch is around 12:00 p.m. and then we have dinner at 6:00 p.m.
Elizabeth: Our day begins at 8:00 when we get dressed and eat some breakfast. Then we start school. Language arts and math are the first things we do in the morning while everyone is alert and ready to start their day. Then we move into history or science. We have a nice lunch break. After lunch we will do some critical thinking pages that the kids love! We always save a fun game or art project for the end of our school day. Around 3:30 or 4:00 we wrap things up and play outside or in our play room.
AJ: We do a 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. school block for the most part during the week for our book work. We are also involved in karate, play, music, co ops, field trips and hobbies that are scattered in during the other times. (with a few variations) We have the heavy part of our school Monday - Wednesday, lighter Thursday and the lightest day on Friday. (That work load also reflects days we are out of the house more.) Subjects vary from 3-5x per week.
Laura: We are doing Pre-K this year, so play and rest are important. Typically about 3 days a week we pull out school subjects for structured learning. On other days, she may choose to do puzzles, games, read books, etc. We start in the early afternoon, and work in small chunks of time as her attention span allows. When she loses interest, I let her move on to playtime. Chores are usually done before school because my husband is home in the mornings so we can all do family chores together. Then after lunch we do a little schoolwork together.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Courtney: Liam playing with Legos, TJ studying Mosdos Literature, Natalie painting her pictures, and Sophie doing math. We probably have crackers or fruit in our hands and Mommy sitting in the middle of it all, helping us.
Elizabeth: Wednesdays are like most of our school days. We start with some online work and move into Math-U-See and writing practice. We do some history or science. Have a nice lunch. We always try and make time for some quiet reading practice. We wrap up our day with an educational game or a fun art project!
AJ: A house well lived in.
Laura: My daughter coloring pictures, me reading a book, and piles of books and toys all over the floor. =)
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Courtney: Disney Cruise.
AJ: Ireland and England.
Laura: I like the California beaches on the ocean. Southern California of course has the warmest water, and northern California is very cold!
What books have you read over and over?
- The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
- Huckleberry Finn
- Anne of Green Gables
- I teach co op classes so I am busy reading books to teach our classes
- my middle son loves the Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit and those are read many times
- my oldest son reads survival books
- Patricia Rushford mysteries
- Sarah Dessen YA fiction
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Courtney: No dietary challenges really. We just eat lots of fruit and salads and greens. Keeps us healthy.
Laura: My daughter is allergic to eggs, and I am sensitive to spicy foods, so we eat pretty plain and simple. In a way, it's a blessing because it keeps us on budget and meal planning is literally, a rotation of less than 15 meals.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Courtney: Relax. A bad day doesn’t define us. We keep smiling and cry when we need to. Watch a movie. Take a nature walk. Get outside. Breathe. Take a nap. Dance it out. Eat a cookie. Tomorrow is a new day!
AJ: On your knees in prayer, pull back on school and deal with life, call friends and family who will encourage, have an unexpected interrupt of some kind.
Laura: Aromatherapy, a good book and a cup of coffee or tea. Add in some deep breathing, massaging my temples, and just sitting in the recliner for a few minutes to gain my sanity. Life is hard, but the little moments of gathering myself keep me together.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Courtney: Gives me hugs and tells me they love me! They’re kind to other marginalized children.
AJ: Did something with joy.
Laura: I love watching my daughter play and take care of younger children. Many of her friends have younger siblings, and she doesn't yet, so it is the sweetest thing to watch her hold their hands and be so gentle and patient with them.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Courtney: A special breakfast, cupcakes and presents with fun balloons!!
AJ: Have a few friends over and just have fun together.
Laura: We try to go someplace special--out to eat, to the zoo, aquarium, park, etc.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Courtney: Gone to a TV taping!
AJ: Learned some group dances to teach a bunch of teens that actually ended up having a lot of fun.
Laura: We just started our journey towards adoption. I know it's not really what this question means, but for us, it's a huge step of faith and totally unknown territory!
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Courtney: Salad with breaded chicken on it.
AJ: Crackers, cheese, veggies, fruit, and dips.
Laura: Grilled cheese sandwich, chips, and apples.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Courtney: Just fine! Lots of book work.
AJ: Internet has definitely made the classroom a bit obsolete with so much knowledge at our fingertips. It could still be done as others before us did it but we would be limited on how quickly and easily we can learn.
Laura: Hmm. It would be a challenge, but we would just get books from the library and use puzzles, curriculum, and tools available to us.
What tips do you have for other families?
Courtney: Take it slow. Homeschooling is a journey not a sprint. It takes time to find a rhythm and that’s ok. Enjoy the fun moments, press through the tough and do something for you to fill your cup. Serving our families happens best when we aren’t drained dry.
AJ: Relax, they'll get it. Have fun. Don't get caught up meeting standards, life counts as school. Allow time for kids to explore their interests.
Laura: Make time for exploration and adventure. Sometimes, the book work can wait, but the outdoor and interest-based adventures might be on a timeline.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
- TJ loves well and smiles a lot.
- Natalie has a big heart. She loves random hugs and gives random hugs.
- Sophie's goofy grin and how she scrinkles her nose when she laughs.
- Liam's cuddles and stuffed dog are the best.
- My oldest laughs easy.
- My middle has a big heart.
- My youngest is always up for an adventure.
Laura: I appreciate that Maddie has a social and caring spirit. I'm an introvert, but she is an extrovert. So she has an adventurous spirit and drive to make new friends that I can only dream of!
What song is currently in your head?
Courtney: You are My Sunshine!
AJ: Hey Jude. My boys have been playing Beatles on their instruments and singing all day!
Laura: My own little tune.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
- How to Become President
AJ: My boys love Risk.
Laura: My husband and I love games like Dominion and Life. Our daughter is a fan of Candy Land and Peek-a-Boo Bunny.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Courtney: We play on the playground and ride bikes and scooters. We also (as adults) go to the gym.
AJ: Walk and pilates. 3-6 x per week. Usually first thing in the morning once I get the boys breakfast and they have started school. I take about an hour.
Laura: I walk with my daughter either beside me or in the jogging stroller. We go daily in summer, and a few times a weeks in winter on trips to the store, library, post office, and park.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Courtney: Made water balls from Kiwi Co. It was so weird!!
AJ: There's been a lot. I can't think of any specific that were weird. Which diaper absorbed the most liquid was fun.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Courtney: Trying to take more field trips with the four kids by myself while my husband works!
AJ: High school is hard. Drivers training!
Laura: Homeschool related -- teach my daughter to read. Life related -- adopt a baby.
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Courtney: Went to Frozen Broadway!
AJ: Build a sod roof hut in the side of a hill and cooked food in the little fireplace coming up out of the ground.
Laura: Walked to the library.
What would you name your boat if you had one?
AJ: The Shire
Laura: Princess Anne
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Laura: Computer Coding
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
AJ: Lemon Bread
Laura: Bread Pudding
What apps do you use the most?
Laura: Facebook, Gmail, Instagram
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
AJ: Charlotte Mason is my favorite
Laura: Charlotte Mason
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
AJ: welder, lawyer, musician
Laura: She wants to be a mom.
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
AJ: karate, drama, music, shooting, Lego Club
Laura: We do a co-op class, outdoor adventure groups, and church play group.
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
AJ: Drink tea and read.
Laura: Drink coffee, blog, and read.
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
AJ: Waffles with strawberries.
Laura: Pancakes or waffles.
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
AJ: So many, ones that involve food.
Laura: When I was a teenager, we traveled the East Coast, including Washington D.C. I haven't taken my daughter on many trips yet other than the zoo!
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
AJ: We aren't hermits in the woods. When in your life are you only around people that are your exact same age? It's not natural. Our kids are around all ages all the time. That's real life.
Laura: First off, I laugh, and say that I never spent a day in public school until college and I'm just fine! But really, I say that she has plenty of friends and groups she's involved with--school is just more fun for us.
What’s the funniest thing one of your kids ever said?
AJ: "Mommy can you teach me England English cause I want to learn another language that's easy."
Laura: "I have monkey ears."
What do you do for fun as a family?
AJ: Visit family.
Laura: Walking, hiking, playing games, art projects, gardening.
How do you continue to educate yourself?
AJ: I lead two co ops and teach classes. Got to stay one step ahead.
Laura: I study aromatherapy online, and read constantly. I'm a life-longer learner for sure!
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
AJ: Apples and peanut butter, nuts, yogurt, fruit.
Laura: Apples, bananas, applesauce, blueberries, smoothies.
What’s the best museum you’ve ever gone to?
AJ: Denver Children's Museum
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
AJ: Learning when to push and when to pull back.
Laura: Learning my daughter's style and how I want to do things differently than my mom did with me.
What is your favorite thing about having kids?
AJ: The adventure.
Laura: Hugs, cuddles, and laughter.
What’s the best vacation you have ever taken as a family?
AJ: Ireland boat trip on the Shannon.
Laura: We haven't really traveled much.
List 3 frivolous things you are enjoying right now.
- fuzzy socks
- fuzzy blankets
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
AJ: chicken pot pie
Laura: mac and cheese
What’s the strangest place you’ve done school?
AJ: in a tree
Laura: In the car
Share a favorite organizational tip.
AJ: Foot rests that double as coffee table and to store books.
Laura: I simplify our home by decluttering 5 things a day. Just 5. It's not a strain or stress to toss, recycle, or give away 5 items from the house or car each day, and yet it adds up to so much over the year.
What special gifts or talents to your kids have?
AJ: Creative builder, teacher.
Laura: Maddie loves to dance.
Tell us something unique or unusual about your family.
AJ: All 3 boys got their black belts together.
Laura: We balance day/night schedules as my husband works nights, but is with us half the day. Arranging meals, activities, and quality time is a juggling act, but we make it work.
What’s making you laugh these days?
AJ: Brian Regan.
Laura: My daughter's imaginative play.
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
AJ: Karate, teach a PE class, hikes, tennis, swim, bike rides, rollerblading.
Laura: We walk all around town!
Share a favorite inspirational quote.
AJ: "Let go and let God."
Laura: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain"
What’s your best time of day to homeschool?
Laura: I prefer mornings or early afternoon.
Tell us something interesting about your local area.
AJ: We have a lot of homeless people.
Laura: We are close to the San Francisco Bay, and can walk down to a little beach.
What dream for your family has come true?
AJ: Beautiful piece of property to live on.
Laura: I would say starting our adoption journey is a dream we are living right now.
What’s the most useless talent you have?
AJ: Common sense.
Laura: Straightening books on a shelf.