Deborah of Charlotte, North Carolina
Dad, Mom, K (10-year-old boy), J (8-year-old boy), and A (5-year-old girl).
Alexia M. of Hubert, North Carolina
Myself, Alexia, I’m a stay at home mom, working in my in-home art studio. I have two sons, Gavin, who is 7 and using the second grade curriculum and Oliver, who is 5 and autistic. Their schedules keep me really busy! My husband, Adam is active duty Coast Guard and station at Fort Macon here in North Carolina.
Sarah B. of Charlotte, North Carolina
Mom and Dad love the gym and I like to read to my dog, Hudson.
Laurie M. of North Carolina
We are a family of four, with a cat, a dog, and three chickens. My husband works outside the home, while I am a work-from-home mom. We have a 5-year-old son and a 3.5-year-old daughter, and we are using the pre-k Timberdoodle program this year!
How do you Timberdoodle?
Deborah: I used many of your preschool products in the past. We use All About Reading, All About Spelling, and Math-U-See. We have purchased some of your products for Christmas gifts in the past as well.
Alexia: I first heard of Timberdoodle through your YouTube channel! My husband and I were completely taken away with the the idea of a homeschool curriculum being so focused on STEM and being so open to helping parents use this curriculum for kids with ASD. So far we’re very new to the curriculum but fairly positive that it’ll be a permanent staple in our household.
Sarah: A neighbor told us about Timberdoodle and it was love at first play. We currently use the ThinkPlay STEM Junior every day since it's so cold outside. The Our World book has always been our favorite book and we take it on every car ride.
Laurie: A friend shared a list of curriculums with us she thought may interest us. We chose Timberdoodle because of the ability to customize, the scheduler (important to give me confidence each day as a first time homeschooling momma), and because of the STEM and logic components. Since my kids are so young, we try to play as much as practical when introducing concepts. They love the games- Buggzle, the Three Little Piggies game, MadMattr... and let's not forget MadMattr! The checklist schedule makes our days flexible, allowing us to really go with what they want to do each day. I can give them a few options, and they get to choose!
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Deborah: Start around 9:00 a.m. after breakfast. We cover math, handwriting, reading, history, and science in the morning and maybe some after lunch. We usually read literature aloud during dinner. We have some chores scattered throughout the day such as unloading the dishwasher before breakfast, 5:00 p.m. pickup of the downstairs, etc.
Alexia: We usually start our day around 10:00 am, since my youngest has to be dropped off at ABA therapy. We try to cover all the subjects in any individual day, usually chopping up each subject to 20-45 minutes a piece. Chores usually done in the late afternoon before dinner, they can both do them together. Meals are always had together as a family at typical times of the day.
Sarah: Get up and be at the gym by 6:30 where we role play and play catch or ride a bike. When mom and dad finish working out then we go somewhere to read two books I picked out the night before. Then I play at a museum or park until lunch. After lunch we do one or two things from the PreK curriculum. After my nap I play with my dog and then help cook dinner.
Laurie: We are usually up and eating breakfast around 7:30. I generally read aloud while they eat. After breakfast, they generally have some free play with Legos, K'nex, Plus-Plus blocks, or something similar. Around 8:30 or so, I try to do some things one-on-one. The youngest is working on some basic math things and letter sounds, and my older is progressing through All About Reading Level 1 and also working through the KB level of Singapore math. We try to incorporate a handwriting activity each day- maybe drawing, wipe clean books, and other readings to cover geography, science and world cultures. We try to do a weekly science experiment, and play outside a few times per week too! We enjoy a loose "schedule" that allows us to be a little spontaneous too!
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Deborah: Me working with the 2 boys, checking in with my job and rushing off to tennis lessons in the afternoon.
Alexia: Our home is quiet, not a whole lot of craziness. We thrive on a calm atmosphere since both our kiddos are sensory sensitive. On a typical afternoon, we’re usually in the playroom being silly before winding down for afternoon chores.
Sarah: My dog dressed as a dragon, and I built a castle around my trampoline. I am reading books snuggled up with my dog.
Laurie: Today we laughed while we worked on an art project before we headed to basketball practice. But next Wednesday we could be outside splashing in the creek.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Alexia: We love going to the beach! We live in the coast luckily, so it’s always an adventure.
Laurie: On a road trip along the Pacific coast highway!
What books have you read over and over?
- Jane Austin
- CS Lewis
- LM Montgomery
- Louisa May Alcott
- When Life and Beliefs Collide
Alexia: My kids love Fly Guy and Little Bear!
Laurie: Lately, Pete the Cat 🤣 and Nibbles the Book Monster.
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Alexia: Both of my children are especially picky eaters. We’ve been lucky enough to find external help in feeding therapy. Both of them have made leaps and bounds in trying new foods and textures because of it.
Laurie: We don't really have challenges other than consistency in meal planning. We eat healthier when we plan ahead.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Deborah: Timers! Kids being able to earn a small amount of screen time. Large backyard.
Alexia: Honestly, when I’m trying to survive an especially hard day, I often have to remind myself that “this day won’t last forever, you’re doing your best.” As parents, we can be the hardest on ourselves. Reminding myself that I’m doing my best and taking a few deep breathes can make a world of difference.
Laurie: Remember that tomorrow is a fresh start.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Deborah: Show kindness to others.
Alexia: Gavin being so wrapped up in what he’s interested in, to the point that he can’t stop telling me all about it, all the facts! That makes me smile ear to ear! My youngest, Oliver, speaking for the first time this year, calling me Mama for the first time at age 5, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Words can’t express the way my heart exploded into a million beautiful pieces. I’m so incredibly proud of both of them.
Laurie: They respect the national anthem... My child who was assessed for and fell on the autism spectrum for social interaction chased around a group of older boys and girls and even talked to them yesterday- a group he had never interacted with before. Big deal, and provides some hope that this homeschooling journey won't ruin him 😉
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Deborah: Have a few family friends over for dinner. We request no gifts from friends.
Alexia: Funny story, their birthdays are two year and two days apart. So you’d probably assume that would make thing complicated right? Well, try adding that on top of them being two weeks from Christmas! We usually approach each day individually. They both get two special gifts and cupcakes. Afterwards we’ll go to a park and run off the sugar and play. It’s almost better than Christmas Day!
Laurie: With friends and family. Pretty low key. 😊
What have you done recently for the first time?
Alexia: Something I’ve done for first time recently is to let go a bit. I’ve been so about having to have complete control of everything, only to realize that if I let go a bit I’d actually be more in tune with what’s really going on. It’s been a freeing experience. We’re all a lot happier because of it.
Laurie: Met some new homeschooling mommas!!!!
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Deborah: Grilled cheese, veggies, and hummus.
Alexia: We usually keep it pretty simple! My kiddo love apples and yogurt.
Laurie: Charcuterie style! Easy, kids love it, and can literally be anything you've got on hand and the kids think it's super special 😂
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Deborah: We would miss Khan Academy and the Usborne linked encyclopedias. But everything else would be the same.
Alexia: We would actually be just fine! We’ve always subscribed to the idea of hands-on learning, and that doesn’t always mean to need the internet for it!
Laurie: Probably couldn't, 🤣 not forever anyway. It's a great resource for encouragement, ideas, and actual resources...not to mention it makes library trips waaaaaaay easier!
What tips do you have for other families?
Deborah: Use timers, print off a weekly checklist for each child. Get a big globe!
Alexia: In homeschooling, don’t over think it! There’s always way to make things easier, and always try to be easier and more gracious to yourself
Laurie: Don't be afraid to adapt any curriculum or game to the needs of your family. Try not to worry about other people and their opinions. You know your family and what is best for them.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
- J is amazingly hardworking.
- K naturally picks up how to do things and where he is.
- A is super determined.
Alexia: Both of my children so incredibly kind and compassionate. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate how well behaved they were (don’t tell anyone!), but more than anything their willingness and excitement to learn is something I’ll always love and appreciate.
- Our son is so smart, and catches on easily to most things that have rules. He is genuinely curious about so many things, and while it can be a little overwhelming at times, his thoughts are deeper than I realize most of the time.
- Our daughter is a perfectionist, and while this may not always be a positive thing, her desire to succeed is fun to see. She wants to keep up with her big brother, and she has learned so much this year already!
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
- Settlers of Catan Jr.
- Wii LEGO Star Wars
- Ticket to Ride
Alexia: Candyland is currently our favorite to play as a family
- Ticket to Ride
- Eye Spy
- Professor Noggin
- and puzzles
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Alexia: The kiddos have an hour of outside play everyday! Twice a week we’ll go to the park or playground
Laurie: Playing outside. 🤣
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Deborah: Did an explosive kit.
Alexia: I wouldn’t call it weird personally, but I showed my son how vinegar and baking soda react and he WAS NOT A FAN!
Laurie: Trying to keep a plant alive that a friend gave us. Supposedly it should sprout roots. 🤣 My black thumb may disagree. 😬
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Deborah: Figure out what to do for school for our oldest.
Alexia: To be away from my kids for the first time ever in 7 years to visit family overseas!
Laurie: Officially homeschool a real grade level...this year was pre-k so it's ok if I failed. 🤣
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Deborah: Eat at Chick-fil-A.
Alexia: I bought a face painting kit. That’s right. It was probably the best day ever making each other look crazy.
Laurie: Went on an outing with our local Wild + Free group!
What would you name your boat if you had one?
Alexia: SS Margarita (after my grandmother!)
Laurie: Salty Paws
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Deborah: Easily learn languages.
Alexia: How to properly use Excel!
Laurie: Graphic design and editing.
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
Deborah: Strawberry frosting.
Alexia: Instandt pot refried beans!
Laurie: Weight Watchers chicken recipes
What apps do you use the most?
Deborah: Twitter, BBC, Wellsfargo, Gmail, Instagram, Plan to Eat
Alexia: My kids love YouTube kids, and well, I love YouTube. I probably watch that more than regular TV!
Laurie: Facebook and Instagram.
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
Deborah: Secular leaning Charlotte Mason with more aggressive math, spelling and writing lessons. (I’m not secular, but I prefer mostly secular resources).
Alexia: Traditionally Relaxed!
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Deborah: A mommy and master LEGO builders.
Alexia: Gavin wants to be a paleontologist (the love for dinosaurs is real!) We're not sure what Ollie would like to be yet.
Laurie: A mermaid and a dinosaur. 🤣
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
Deborah: Cub Scouts, tennis, church. Have done a co-op and music until this semester.
Alexia: Lots and lots of creative outlets, my kids LOVE art and building. We’ll get together with friends each week for art groups too.
Laurie: Athletics so far...
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
Deborah: Read a book and drink something hot.
Alexia: I usually try to decompress into a good book, or veg out on a good movie. Lately I’ve been really into self care.
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Deborah: Eggs and bagels
Alexia: Waffles, a banana and yogurt!
Laurie: Biscuits and gravy.
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
Deborah: Week in DC.
Alexia: We haven’t had the opportunity to take a major one yet but the love the aquarium!
Laurie: The aquarium or beach...we also went to Charleston this year
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
Deborah: That is a concern, but we try to have plenty of social opportunities.
Alexia: They get plenty of it! We’re involved with weekly group play and park trips. (Not that it’s any of their business though.)
Laurie: Our local homeschooling community is fantastic. We have several opportunities to meet up and hang out with other families
What’s the funniest thing one of your kids ever said?
Deborah: "I am growing in slow motion."
Alexia: “Wait! Hot dogs aren’t made of dogs?!”
What do you do for fun as a family?
Deborah: Take walks, read aloud, play games, watch a movie.
Alexia: Lots of one of one being silly at home, park trips, or a even just a simple car ride around town.
Laurie: Play outside.
How do you continue to educate yourself?
Deborah: Read books and look up articles online.
Alexia: Constant and never ending research.
Laurie: Talk to other homeschooling families, personal development, research.
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
Deborah: Veggie and hummus, whole milk yogurt, apple and peanut butter.
Alexia: Cut up apples, homemade popcorn, yogurt pouches.
Laurie: Apples and peanut butter or bananas and peanut butter
What’s the best museum you’ve ever gone to?
Alexia: Marbles in Raleigh NC!!
Laurie: Natural science museum on Germany.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Deborah: Raising my dyslexic’s reading level.
Alexia: Time management for sure.
Laurie: Embracing the different learning styles of my kids. They are polar opposites. 🤣
What is your favorite thing about having kids?
Deborah: Getting to see the world through their eyes.
Alexia: They teach me patience and give me the complete ability to be nonsensical in the best ways everyday.
Laurie: New adventures, it's never boring 🤣 seeing the world in a whole new way
What’s the best vacation you have ever taken as a family?
Deborah: Visit the beach.
Alexia: Unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity for real vacations yet.
Laurie: We haven't really taken a family vacation, sadly. I get to travel with the kids frequently, but my husband rarely is able to take off work to travel with us
List 3 frivolous things you are enjoying right now.
- filling out this form
- way too much hot cocoa
- not keeping up with laundry
- the weird self stirring mug I just bought
- the weekly bunch of flowers I buy from the local market
- the electric blanket that makes me never want to get out of bed
- a crystal growing kit
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
Deborah: Lentil soup.
Alexia: Chicken and fries, always a winner!
Laurie: Chick-fil-A. 😬
What’s the strangest place you’ve done school?
Deborah: Coffee shop.
Alexia: At our in-laws, it was only weird because they made it that way unfortunately.
Laurie: 🤔 I don't think we've done school anywhere unusual.
Share a favorite organizational tip.
Deborah: Keep each kids' books in a plastic file box with check off list.
Alexia: We’re big fans of shelves and baskets/sterlite snapware. We keep it pretty simple. Always invest in a good planner!
Laurie: 🤣 A calendar is essential.
What special gifts or talents to your kids have?
Deborah: Creating things with LEGO, not being cold.
Alexia: From what we can see Gavin has an amazing way of retelling or making up a really detailed story. Oliver has shown a lot of promise in music memorization.
Laurie: They are still really young, and we are still trying to figure it out. 😊
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
Deborah: Tennis lessons
Alexia: One a day outside time to be wild and twice weekly park trips.
Laurie: Play outside, sign them up for sports at the Y, Cosmic Kids Yoga.
Share a favorite inspirational quote.
Deborah: "Do your best."
Alexia: “It’s not a problem until it’s a problem.”
Laurie: "Be willing to sacrifice everything, but compromise nothing, in your quest to be the best."
Tell us something interesting about your local area.
Deborah: The road system is a mess. Don’t come here!
Alexia: We’re lucky enough to live on North Carolina’s beaches!
Laurie: City life is close enough, but so is country life. A couple hours to the mountains, a few to the beach.
What dream for your family has come true?
Deborah: Have 3 kids.
Alexia: Having the time and resources to homeschool and get my other kiddo the intensive therapy he needs.
Laurie: We have two healthy, amazing, and beautiful kids 💛
What’s the most useless talent you have?
Deborah: I can read very fast.
Alexia: I can sing a bunch of different songs in German, and I don’t know what any of it means. (I was an army brat that grew up in Germany.)
Laurie: I can whistle- is that a useful talent? 🤣