Sarah of Montana
There’s Sarah and Chip- Mom and Dad to our two girls, Snickerdoodle and Sunshine. We have 3 cats: Luci, Milo, and Turkey.
Dad works on office equipment and his main office is at home. Mom works two days a week at a real estate office and usually takes one or both girls.
We also have a Grammy, Grama, and Papa nearby to spend time with.
Hannah A. of Columbia Falls, Montana
- Emilie, 13, enjoys cooking
- Thomas, 12, loves video games
- Olivia, 8, has a large doll collection
- Colton, 6, loves to ride his bike and play baseball
- Baby Esther! 2 months old
Dad drives trains for work and Mom runs the farm
We have 3 dogs (Jr., Molly and Gwen), 5 outdoor cats, 22 chickens, 6 horses and 2 mules. We are hoping to get goats and pigs this year.
Laurie of Montana
My name is Laurie and my husband is Kris. We are a blended family with a total of 5 children, but only two still at home: Madison and Zach. We have 3 grown children: Jordan, Kayla and Mike. Jordan is married to our daughter-in-law Courtney, and we have 3 granddaughters as well. Oh, and how could I forget Pixie, our Australian Shepherd.
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Jen of Northwest Montana
We are a big family with neuro-typical and special needs kids in whatever is the best school environment that is best for them. We homeschool, public school, private school and one who does a combination of the above.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Sarah: We use Timberdoodle for the “extras.” For history, geography, thinking skills, sometimes for art and science. I found Timberdoodle when researching nonreligious curriculum. I loved the push for critical thinking and independent working.
Hannah: I first heard about you on Facebook through a post a friend shared. I looked into the company and really love the way your curriculum is put together. I haven't had a chance to use any products yet and am really looking forward to incorporating them into our homeschool journey.
Laurie: My sister introduced me to Timberdoodle several years ago. We were using a more traditional curriculum at the time and my children were not enthused about it. Doing school was like pulling teeth! I like to buy the grade appropriate curriculum kits, and the kids get excited like Christmas when it arrives!
Jen: We love the curriculum kits but due to severe learning disabilities we have to select pieces from multiple curriculum levels and learning styles. Timberdoodle offers the best of all options!
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Sarah: On a day we are not going anywhere and no one is coming over, we do school from about 10:00 - 10:45 a.m. This is usually 2-3 days a week. One day a week, Snickerdoodle goes to work with Mom and does her independent school work there until Grammy picks her up. Sunshine is in preschool two mornings a week, so we don’t push her work too hard, but she does work when Snickerdoodle does. Another day, Grama comes to the house and we do science together.
Hannah: Up at 7:00, outside taking care of animal chores (everyone gets fed and stalls cleaned) by 7:30. Breakfast around 8:00 and a quick round of indoor chores to keep the house clean. We try to be starting school between 9:00 and 10:00. Every day we do math and English and Bible. Every other day we add in science or history. Lunch about noonish. Usually kids are done with school by lunch but, if not, they finish what's left after and then head outside for exercise and fresh air.
After outside time screens are allowed for an hour, dinner and then evening activities (church, sports, AWANA, etc.)
Laurie: We are night owls and tend to stay up late, and wake up a bit late as well. In general we start around 10:00 or 11:00, once the kids have had breakfast. We take breaks and many times while they make their lunch, I will read history or science to them and ask questions. My son has a hard time staying still for long, so I find things like this work well for him.
Jen: We are block schedule learners and do not do every subject every day. Being special needs homeschoolers we follow a path of learning but complete whatever we are capable of doing each day. Some curriculum is completed quickly while some lasts well over a year.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Sarah: A mess.Toys all over the play room. Art supplies in the kitchen. Cat fur everywhere. And at least one half finished cardboard box project.
Hannah: Wednesday is the day we deep clean the house. At least one kid would be scrubbing a toilet, some doing school, some playing.
Laurie: Kids working at the table or reading on the couch. Mom is either checking work or working herself at home.
Jen: Wednesday is our out-of-home morning day so by late afternoon we are done and relaxing.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Sarah: Norway or Iceland.
Hannah: Disney cruise.
Laurie: A cruise. Something tropical, with fun excursions for the whole family.
What books have you read over and over?
Sarah: The Little White Horse
- Little Women
- Pride and Prejudice
- The Bible
- Boundaries by Henry Cloud
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Sarah: Quick lunches that everyone likes.
Hannah: Lactose intolerance.
Laurie: Staying away from sugar and soda. We are trying to bake with stevia more often and sub seltzer for soda.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Sarah: Coffee. Also, everyone reading independently in their rooms is a valid thing.
Hannah: Lots of coffee. Regular breaks outside.
Laurie: Stop and pray and spend time in God's Word.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Sarah: My eldest is surprisingly generous towards her younger sister.
Hannah: Remembered his entire Sunday School lesson and applied it to his normal daily life.
Laurie: Like most siblings, my kids can fight often and make a mom wonder if they really love each other, but recently, on my daughter's 15th birthday, my 11-year-old son bought her a $10 necklace she liked and surprised her with it from his own money, which he doesn't come by easily!
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Sarah: We take family trips. Our town doesn’t have a lot in the way of museums or zoos, so we drive to other cities to do those things. The kids love staying at hotels.
Hannah: PARTY!! Each kid gets to pick a theme for their birthday and we throw them a big party with specialized cakes daddy makes.
Laurie: I usually cook their favorite dinner and make their favorite cake. Sometimes a sleepover with friends.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Sarah: Bought a house.
Laurie: We moved to Montana two years ago, and since we have been here, my husband and I built our house together, by ourselves. A first for me, but not him. I also learned to hunt last fall for the first time.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Sarah: “Picnic.” Various veggies, fruit, meat, and cheese served family-style and the kids can make their own choices.
Laurie: Mac and cheese or Ramen are my kids' go-to meals.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Sarah: We don’t use the internet much yet for the kids' school stuff. Although ordering it would be a lot harder! And researching would be almost impossible!
Hannah: Buy all the books.
Laurie: Just fine. We use typical text and workbooks.
What tips do you have for other families?
Sarah: Your homeschool doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. And it doesn’t have to “fit” into any category. I got stressed trying to pick the “right way” to homeschool and then realized that what works for others doesn’t have to work for me.
Hannah: Don't get hung up on the schedule. Learn to flow with the day and the temperament.
Laurie: Homeschooling is not difficult like most people think. Just take one day at a time and one year at a time.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
Sarah: Snickerdoodle is generous and loves in a full contact kind of way. Sunshine loves everyone and accepts them as they are.
Hannah: They are all hard-working, sweet, and have hearts of gold.
Laurie: Each one is so unique and can make me smile in different ways. My youngest always wants to snuggle and have his back scratched at night while we talk. My 15-year-old loves having one-on-one time to talk about life, especially in the car right now.
What song is currently in your head?
Sarah: Into the Unknown!
Hannah: Mozart from Baby Einstein.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Sarah: Right now, UNO. Every day after dinner.
Hannah: We love love love all board games!!! Currently into Eldorado and Scythe.
Laurie: We learned to play Chickenfoot last year. It is a domino game similar to Mexican Train.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Sarah: We do family yoga about once a week. The kids do gymnastics as well.
Mom does a workout almost every night after kid bedtime.
Laurie: I like to take walks several times a week, but is difficult here in the mountains in winter. Last year we got snowshoes and I need to do more of that!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Sarah: The kids request volcano science a lot.
Laurie: Not weird, but last year we went kayaking and scooped up some lake water and brought home to look at under a microscope to see the microorganisms.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Sarah: Balancing a new job and home life.
Laurie: Start a home business.
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Sarah: Went to an indoor trampoline park.
Laurie: We all went sledding together after a fresh snow.
What would you name your boat if you had one?
Laurie: Fast & Furious
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
Sarah: Baked potatoes in the Instant Pot
Laurie: Chocolate Chip Cookies
What apps do you use the most?
Laurie: Weather and Instagram
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
Laurie: Laid back and easy going.
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Sarah: My 3-year-old: a crayon peeler, a dancer, a soccer player, a baker.
Laurie: Graphic designer, possible policeman.
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
Sarah: Gymnastics and drama.
Laurie: Sports, volleyball, and basketball.
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Laurie: Eggs, bacon, strawberries and of course, coffee!
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
Laurie: Pumpkin farms are always a favorite!
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
Sarah: Probably nothing, but in my head, “Public school didn’t socialize me very well. I’m still incredibly awkward, so they were probably doomed anyway.”
Laurie: We socialize at church and through sports. The socialization kids get at public school isn't really what we are looking for.
What do you do for fun as a family?
Sarah: Play games.
Laurie: Go hiking, watch movies.
How do you continue to educate yourself?
Sarah: Learning French. Watch TedTalks
Laurie: I just learn through reading.