Amber G. of Jackson, Kentucky
We are a family of four. Myself and my husband, our two kids: Aubrie (5) and Jackson (1). We have 2 dogs and 2 cats. We are self-employed, my husband delivers to Walmart stores. I help with that as well as the books, and homeschool our kids. Our family loves the outdoors, gardening and playing outside. We love to learn and teach others about the Bible, which is our primary hobby.
Sarah R. of Central Kentucky
Our family is made up of Mama (Sarah) and Daddy (Paul), and three children: Lane, age 7; Wade, age 5; and Sadie, almost 2. We have 6 angel babies watching over us. Oh! And two dogs, Rex and Eli, and two cats, Bella and Briar, who protect us, entertain us, and just love us unconditionally.
Both Mama and Daddy are entrepreneurs at heart and have started several small businesses including a mobile coffee shop. By day, however, Daddy is a Chiropractor and Mama is an adjunct Professor of Communication.
Follow us on Twitter: @essentiallymama
Follow us on Instagram: @essentiallymama
Lindsey of Western Kentucky
My husband, Bryan, and I are homeschooling our sweet daughter, Jessa. Bryan programs robots to weld and I am a pediatric physical therapist turned stay-at-home mom/teacher. Jessa loves her Timberdoodle activities so much she often requests them. Her other interests include dolls, anything outdoors and playing with her did, Copper.
Michelle G. of London, Kentucky
Kris, Bryan, Alana, Savannah and Kayleigh. We are a family of 6! Three 7-year-old triplet girls and one 13-year-old boy! We enjoy traveling and playing games together!
How do you Timberdoodle?
Amber: I researched and researched for the right curriculum to start kindergarten with our daughter. She is very hands-on and has a lot of energy. She isn’t one to love to sit down and learn about something, plus I had a newborn on my hands. That being the case I wanted to find a curriculum that was fun and hands-on to grab her attention and make her love learning. We found Timberdoodle and, although it was more than we wanted to spend or could afford, the fact that we could use PayPal credit made up our minds and we took the plunge and haven’t looked back since.
Sarah: I’ve followed Timberdoodle since 2014 when I briefly entertained the idea of homeschooling out loud. A friend immediately recommended Timberdoodle. We use varied products, but especially love the STEM options! We love making games and hands-on activities a part of our day to day homeschool.
Lindsey: We first heard about Timberdoodle from a fellow homeschooler. She had shown me a homeschool magazine that rated Timberdoodle #1 in almost every category. I then began looking at the curriculum myself and became very impressed with the way the program is put together. One thing I feared about homeschooling was my daughter missing out on all the little fun extra activities. I feel Timberdoodle does a great job at filling that gap! I honestly can’t narrow down to one favorite activity, but overall just the hands-on approach with every subject/lesson. The way we Timberdoodle....we start with her more difficult activities first, then proceed to the “easier” ones for her. We break it up with fun hands-on artsy activities and games.
Michelle: First curriculum we used when we decided to homeschool. Heard of Timberdoodle from a friend of mine who used it. We love all Timberdoodle products, especially the art and games.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Amber: We do 3-4 days a week for 2-4 hours a day. I try to start by 9:00 so we are finished by early afternoon. I try to do math and reading all school days and incorporate the other subjects between days. We do chores throughout the day as well as meals which seems like the entire day.
Sarah: Our day starts around 8:30 with breakfast and slowly waking up for the day. We each have a morning routine that includes a few chores. The kids can watch an episode from PBS Kids if they get done soon enough and I have time to finish my zone cleaning for that day. Then we start with our morning basket which includes emotional IQ studies, unit studies, and miscellaneous games that play into our course work. From here we go over our calendar and plan for the day/week, before leading into math. Free time for the kids follows while I get lunch prepped and complete any work that needs to be done. After lunch, the baby goes down for a nap and the bigs and I work on language arts and reading. We throw in a few science projects, art lessons, piano, games in the afternoon depending on how we’re feeling. Then it’s open play until Dad gets home. I’ve usually thrown something in the Instant Pot for dinner and we clean up while it’s finishing. Then books, baths, and jammies after dinner.
Michelle: We start around 10:00 we cover all subjects and also music. We do 3 meals a day and chores are done at all hours of the day, beginning when we wake up with getting dressed and making beds.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Amber: We read Genesis 9-11 and did a painted art project based our readings. We’ve played in sand. We accomplished some math and reading. Now we are about to cuddle on the couch for a movie.
Sarah: It’s rarely the same, but today we prepped meals to take to a few family friends who have moved or had surgery. We made cookies to share while we talked about how germs work and why body hygiene is so important. Then a quick run to the grocery store and a few stops dropping off meals before home to eat our own.
Lindsey: Most likely a science project in the works with a few snacks on the table and an eager little girl waiting for the result of the experiment. Possibly a less than tidy house because by Wednesday we have had a lot of fun! (However we do clean up every night before bed).
Michelle: You would find us playing games together, eating together and if it’s warm weather you will always find us outside.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Amber: We would love to take the kids in a Disney cruise.
Sarah: To an ocean beach.
Lindsey: On a camping trip to Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Michelle: On a Disney cruise.
What books have you read over and over?
- Alphabet Zoo
- Oh the Places You’ll Go
- Mind Your Manners
- Ahab’s Wife
- anything by Jodi Picoult
- Llama Llama Red Pajama
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
- all Jan Thomas books!
Michelle: Little House on the Prairie books
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Amber: We have no dietary challenges other than our daughter who became suddenly picky and has an aversion to textures and anything green. I do smoothies, make double chocolate beet muffins, and any veggies she loves repeatedly to get a well-rounded diet.
Sarah: We are fortunate not to face any, but are making a focused effort to eat more whole foods, less gluten/dairy, and more vegetarian meals.
Lindsey: My daughter has a condition called FPIES. She is allergic to 14 various foods making eating out and social events very challenging. We typically just pack food everywhere we go.
Michelle: Eating more fruits and veggies. I put them in sight before the other stuff we shouldn’t eat as much of.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Amber: When all else fails play. When things are too hard for either of us and we are getting nowhere with book work we will pull out something fun. I also read a quote I love, "When having a hard day just add water." Whether it be playing outside with the hose or a warm bath, or cup of tea. Enjoy the moments and try not to stress about it. (Something I had to remind myself of yesterday and today when things become overwhelming for her and I feel like a failure.)
Sarah: Water. Drink it, get in it, go to it... it changes everything. A quick shower after a grown-up meltdown can change the course of your day. A visit to the pond to be surrounded by wildlife can reconnect you with who you want to be.
Lindsey: Always starting the day with a devotion or some form of meditation. From there on, coffee and chocolate with lots of prayer!
Michelle: Walk away and come back at a later time, rather than forcing it further.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Amber: She went into her room one day and came out with a pile of toys she wanted to give to kids who didn’t have any. She has a tender heart for any creature big or small.
Sarah: Gave up half his favorite donut to share with me when they miscounted on a Saturday morning.
Lindsey: She recites the entire book of Psalm 23. Makes my heart so very happy.
Michelle: Wants to do school even when our day is done.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Amber: We don’t celebrate birthdays, but we treasure the memory and our loved ones.
Sarah: We wake up to balloons all over, notes from friends and family telling you what they love about you, and then gifts with breakfast. Lunch or dinner is the choice of the birthday person, along with their favorite dessert.
Lindsey: A few gifts, a cake and the birthday girl decides what we do for the day. She typically chooses to stay home and play with Mommy and Daddy. Her birthday is on a holiday therefore no school and Daddy is usually home from work.
Michelle: We are low key with birthdays and just have cake and take a trip of child’s choice.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Amber: We took our kids for the first time to an amusement park over the summer that they loved. We saw their faces light up over the carousel, tea cup rides, and ferris wheel. It was a wonderful day.
Sarah: Stained furniture. 😳
Lindsey: Began a health journey utilizing intermittent fasting.
Michelle: Took a more relaxed approach to schooling
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Amber: My daughter's favorite is spicy chips (tortilla chips, cheese, and franks hot sauce). I always pair with a fruit or veggie.
Lindsey: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side of apples and blueberries. With almond milk!
Michelle: Eggs and toast.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Amber: My creativity would take a dip for sure but we would manage with the help of Timberdoodle!
Sarah: Lots and lots of library time.
Lindsey: Actually pretty decent so far. Timberdoodle is such a complete curriculum it would be very doable.
Michelle: Very easily, we rarely use internet. We do book work.
What tips do you have for other families?
Amber: Go at the child’s pace. I have had to learn to slow down so as not to overwhelm her. Repetition, we talk about what we learned that day throughout the week so as to keep it fresh in mind. Read, read. Daily read, read, read. If they develop a love to read there is no limit to their learning.
Sarah: There’s no right or wrong way to homeschool. You do you.
Lindsey: Press on for whatever is best for your child. Be willing to try different learning methods with each child.
Michelle: Enjoy every moment and embrace it all, even the chaos
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
Amber: My daughter is such a little momma and free spirit. She loves fiercely and is so protective of those she treasures. My son is such a sweetheart, he’s only one but is the sweetest, happiest, most affectionate little boy ever.
Lindsey: Her obedience.
Michelle: Just how different and unique they all are.
What song is currently in your head?
Amber: Hot Cross Buns. (My daughter has been singing it today.)
Lindsey: Frozen 2: Into the Unknown
Michelle: All People Are Tax People. (A commercial just came on.)
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Amber: We love Silly Street, Charades, Hungry Hippo, Candyland, and Hi Ho Cherry-O.
Sarah: We don’t have a favorite game. We play so many of them it’s hard to choose!
Lindsey: Currently Candyland and Banana Blast. Tag and hide-and-seek are pretty popular too!
Michelle: We love all games, really. My girls love Connect Four and Guess Who the most.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Amber: I exercise 4 days a week via a streaming service. My daughter loves to participate.
Sarah: I try to walk on our treadmill or outside for at least 20-30 minutes a day. The kids and I generally get in an at-home yoga sesh once or twice a week. Aside from that, it’s just chasing kids!
Lindsey: 20 minutes cardio/strength/abs, 4 times per week, whatever time of the day I’m able to fit it in.
Michelle: We walk.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Amber: We tried to make slime. It didn’t come out right and turned into a lump of goo.
Lindsey: Hatched fruit flies.
Michelle: Put grapes in the sun and made raisins.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Amber: Move our family to another area.
Sarah: Teach my 7-year-old cursive.
Lindsey: Take on a “from home” job.
Michelle: Teaching my girls to read better.
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Amber: We went camping in the fall. It was wonderful to be unplugged and in nature for the week.
Sarah: We went to the aquarium! I didn’t ask a lot of questions or try to teach new concepts. We just went and had fun.
Lindsey: Played baby dolls, danced.
Michelle: Went skating.
What would you name your boat if you had one?
Lindsey: Big John.
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Amber: To knit or sew.
Sarah: Embroidery. I think it’s so cool and would love to be able to do something like that.
Michelle: How to sew.
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
Amber: Double chocolate beet muffins.
Sarah: French Dip Grilled Cheese. And they were delish!
Lindsey: Keto-friendly desserts.
Michelle: Potato soup.
What apps do you use the most?
Amber: Social media probably, although I hate to admit it.
- web browser
- social media
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
Amber: Just trying to find a balance between easy-going free-learners and scheduled book learning.
Lindsey: “Learning together everyday.”
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Amber: Kind, considerate, hard working individuals who love our God and put him first.
- 7yo - chiropractor and a part time animal rescuer
- 5yo - chiropractor and race car driver
Lindsey: A pediatrician, vet and mommy.
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
Amber: We go door to door talking abut the Bible and have Bible lessons. She is in swim class, and we also get together with homeschooling friends for projects.
- LEGO club
- Clover Buds 4H
- science club
- nature group
- homeschool co-op
- library programs
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
Amber: I enjoy doing my nails or watching a show of my liking for a change.
Sarah: Read. Browse Pinterest. Binge on Netflix.
Michelle: Watch a show
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Amber: French toast and fruit.
Sarah: Avocado toast with fresh fruit.
Lindsey: Granola bars with blueberries and bacon.
Michelle: Cereal or oatmeal.
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
Amber: Wildlife sanctuary in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Lindsey: A cave in middle Kentucky.
Michelle: Biltmore Museum.
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
Amber: We go out of our way to involve our kids in a religious and voluntary activity setting, and in other learning activities and classes. We also are very involved in a focus setting.
Sarah: Well, we’re here socializing with you aren’t we?
Lindsey: I probably couldn’t say anything because my daughter wouldn’t stop talking to her long enough for me to answer.
Michelle: My kids get more socialization than most kids in public school who are told, “We are not here for socialization,” and told to be sit quietly.
What’s the funniest thing one of your kids ever said?
Amber: Playing with her farm animals and cooking utensils she puts a chicken in the pot and says, “I’m going to cook you up.”
Daughter: Yay! I’m going to be a big sister!
Me: Why do you think that?
Daughter: Because you look like you have a baby in your tummy.
What do you do for fun as a family?
Amber: Play outside or games, visit family. Go for ice cream. We try to make even the mundane ordinary activities special.
Sarah: Play outside, go for hikes, watch movies
Lindsey: Anything outdoors! Fishing, hiking, scavenger hunts...
Michelle: Take vacations, enjoy movies, bowling, skating and play games
How do you continue to educate yourself?
Amber: I research various subjects.
Sarah: I read. A lot. And listen to podcasts.
Lindsey: Mostly books, but also internet. Research articles.
Michelle: By always staying up to date on new ways for my kids to learn.
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
- fruit such as berries, apples, or bananas
- double chocolate muffins
- snap pea crisps
- lots of fruits and veggies prepped and ready to go
- fruit smoothies
- yogurt tubes frozen
- granola bars
- protein shakes
What’s the best museum you’ve ever gone to?
Amber: The MET
Lindsey: Evansville, Indiana Children’s Museum.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Amber: A lack of enthusiasm in my daughter with wanting to learn. Still trying to overcome it but we’ve come a long way.
Sarah: Myself. And lots of overthinking.
Lindsey: Self confidence in myself that I am capable of doing this.
What is your favorite thing about having kids?
Amber: Seeing aspects of both of us in our children, of seeing their hearts and minds bloom into their own unique selves.
Sarah: Just seeing them interact, grow, change, and just be.
Lindsey: Such joy! Never a dull moment,
What’s the best vacation you have ever taken as a family?
Amber: Snow skiing or a cruise.
Lindsey: Florida panhandle.
List 3 frivolous things you are enjoying right now.
- a new kitchen tool my husband got me
- learning to do my own nails and hair
- hoping to win a free year of school curriculum!
- a bath
- time on my phone
- good music
- night sky
- the sound of silence
- the comfort of my family
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
Sarah: Egg roll in a bowl.
What’s the strangest place you’ve done school?
Amber: At the park.
Sarah: The dentist’s waiting room.
Lindsey: In the trampoline.
Share a favorite organizational tip.
Amber: Cube storage.
Sarah: Keep often used things easily accessible. If using multiple curricula, only take one month at a time and put them all in a separate binder so you can flip through them quickly.
Lindsey: Lots of little storage container!
What special gifts or talents to your kids have?
Amber: They’re fish in the water. They love to dance and music so we are hoping to get some sort of lessons playing an instrument of choice.
Lindsey: An astounding memory!
Tell us something unique or unusual about your family.
Amber: We are Jehovah's Witnesses.
Lindsey: We enjoy the small things more than most I believe. The tiniest of things bring us such joy!
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
Amber: We exercise via streaming service 3 or 4 days a week and make a special effort to go to the park or outside on off days.
Sarah: Extracurricular sports.
Lindsey: We do “listen and move” songs a lot. We also play tag and sports like kickball, basketball, etc.
Share a favorite inspirational quote.
Amber: Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.
Sarah: They didn’t slow her down. They were part of her journey. - Lisa Jo Baker
Lindsey: Get up, dress up and show up.
What’s your best time of day to homeschool?
Sarah: Late morning.
Lindsey: Morning for sure!
Tell us something interesting about your local area.
Amber: We live near the Red River gorge, beautiful views and hiking trails.
Sarah: We live in the oldest area settled west of the Allegheny Mountains. So much history!
Lindsey: We love 2 miles from the largest man-made lake in the United States! It’s quite the attraction in the warm weather season.
What dream for your family has come true?
Amber: To have children. My husband, when we first were married, didn’t want any. He changed his mind and now we have 2.
Sarah: Our forever home on 23 acres, close enough to town, but far enough from people.
Lindsey: For me to be able to be a stay-at-home mom. It took a lot of financial planning to get to this point.
What’s the most useless talent you have?
Sarah: Remembering odd facts and dates of random events.
Lindsey: Remembering detail!!! WAY too much detail!