Darla of Medford, Oregon
I have four children being homeschooled. My two oldest daughters enjoy being in a drama class. We do not have any pets. We enjoy reading and gaming together.
Jess from Oregon
We have 4 kids- between 4 and 11 years old. I stay at home and my husband does Physical Therapy. We love to play games!
Katie L. of Astoria, Oregon
We are a military family of 5. Mom, Dad & 3 kids. P is 9 and is homeschooled, currently in grade 3. E is 4 and will start kindergarten in the fall. O is 2 and is our firecracker!
P loves reading, anything science related, and loves learning about history. E enjoys helping us cook dinner when he isn’t playing with his cars, magformers, or LEGOS. O enjoys waking up early and making sure the entire house knows it! We also have a English cream retriever pup who just turned one this year.
A day in the life of our family can be quite chaotic, but I can’t imagine it any other way!
Elaine S. of Klamath Falls, Oregon
My name is Elaine and I am a momma of 3 beautiful daughters; Natalie (5), Norah Claire(3), and Olivia (1). I am a momma during the week and a medical assistant on the weekend. My husband works hard as a civil/structural engineer. We have two Labradors and an outside kitty. We live in small town Oregon and spend lots of time outdoors; hiking, camping, and playing at local parks.
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How do you Timberdoodle?
Darla: I first heard about Timberdoodle at a homeschool convention. I really like the curriculum kits. They take away the worry about missing a subject. I love the scheduling tool, it keeps me on track so we finish on time.
Jess: I heard about Timberdoodle from a friend and i immediately loved their approach to education- I strongly believe learning should be fun!!! Most of our curriculum is from Timberdoodle, even though we've never used a full kit. We use Timberdoodle products on their own, or to sometimes supplement other subjects and to keep things light and fun. Everything we've tried from Timberdoodle has been a hit, but our favorites are probably their games.
Katie: We decided to pull our 9-year-old from public school when she was in 1st grade. I did my research and also asked many friends what they used for their homeschool curriculum. After many comparisons, we felt Timberdoodle fit our family and lifestyle the best. I love that we can customize our kits to what works for us. Our favorite Timberdoodle products are Dr. Bonyfide and Circuit Maze. They’re a fun break from the typical books...while she’s enjoying herself, she’s also learning a ton! She often pulls the Circuit Maze out when we are getting dinner ready, or when we have down time. It’s always a fun challenge for her and I see how proud she feels when she figures each challenge out.
Elaine: I first learned about Timberdoodle in the last three months or so, through a homeschool co-op in our area. We have not had the privilege of actually using the curriculum yet, but I am blown away by the perfectly crafted curriculum packages, and cannot wait to start first grade with a custom kit (hopefully) in the next few months! We LOVE that it includes the love of Jesus in the mix. Every subject seems to have a solid curriculum, and the STEM options are incredible! We are a math and science loving family, and can't wait to get our hands on some hands-on learning manipulatives.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Darla: We try to start school at 8:30 each day. I do science with each child on a different day of the week. Math and literature are done everyday. I have different chores the kids do on Friday to help prepare for the weekend. I like doing my kitchen chores in the morning so I am right there if the kids need help.
Jess: Our school days are very casual- we pick things up a here and there and move on to other things kind of randomly. Most of our days are spent playing with learning and school work sprinkled in. I think that's what makes Timberdoodle such a good fit for us, because lessons don't take very long and they're fun, so it's an easy transition from play time to school time, since the lines are kind of blurred.
Katie: We usually start our school day around 11:00 a.m. I get everyone’s lunches ready, and while the little ones eat their lunch, we open our books and get started. I typically rotate subjects each day, while keeping certain ones grouped together. One day we will work on math and science, the next will be writing and First Language Lessons, another day will be geography and history. I find that focusing on one subject for longer periods each day, helps her really get into each subject and comprehend it before moving onto the next. This is the system that works best for us, and we are still figuring things out each year! What I have noticed is important, is to be flexible. With her younger siblings, sometimes we have to go with the flow and have a shorter school day. Other days, we make up for it and get tons done! For chores, we use a chore chart. There’s a list of what they’re able to do, and the older 2 complete the ones they feel like doing. Every chore listed is helpful to us, and they enjoy it because they get to decide what they want to do. When they complete a chore, they make a mark on the board. Payday is every Sunday night, and they come running when we announce it’s time to count and collect their earnings! Meals are pretty routine for us. Breakfast is first thing in the morning. Lunch is 11:00 a.m. when our school day begins, and dinner is around 5:00 when everyone is home! Just when all of these things become an easy routine, there’s usually a “bump” in the road. We will be welcoming baby #4 in April and our routine will be thrown for a loop... but we will figure it all out all over again!
Elaine: We usually start our day off slow. We start school by 9:00 a.m., and are done by noon most days. Since we are only using kindergarten curriculum, we typically do every subject, every day. The rest of the day includes lunch, chores, and dinner together as much as possible. We all enjoy a walk around the neighborhood to burn off energy when the weather permits. Otherwise, there is always a time of board games, or family movie time. Winter in our town can be harsh!
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Darla: The two youngest may be finished with school and playing or reading while the two oldest are sitting at the dinner table finishing up their school work.
Jess: At any given time, on any given day you can find someone at our house playing the piano, kids cutting up boxes and coloring on them, a game or 2 on the floor and table, playing soccer in the yard or climbing trees, reading books, doing chores, and probably some fighting!
Katie: Depending on the time of day, would depend on the mess you’ll find! In the morning, you’d catch us eating our breakfast looking at some books. Mid-morning, you’d most likely find them eating a snack and playing with their BRIO builders set. My 9-year-old would probably appear around then as well, as she enjoys sleeping in and playing in her room for a while before she graces us with her presence! At noon, you’d catch us working on lunch and school work. Mid-afternoon would be a snack and cartoons, or outside fun! And early evening would be dinner time for us, followed by fun wrestling and goofy time with dad, in the living room. We clean up all toys right before bed, and bedtime is 7:00 p.m. for the littles. Our older gets some special time with us until 8:30, then she goes to her room and reads for 30 minutes before she goes to sleep.
We find that having a routine is important. We have days that are far from what I painted in the description, but mostly, this is our life each day! Homeschool has blessed us with the opportunity to travel without worrying about the public school system. We’ve explored Moab, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Horseshoe Bend, Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and more. The fact that my 3rd grader can see so many beautiful places and learn about them in person instead of a book, is still unbelievable to me! I've included a photo of our “field trip” to Albuquerque’s balloon fiesta. She got to see in person, how hot air balloons work!
Elaine: Depending on whether it is laundry day or not- you would see a picked up living room, and small girls running around! We do homeschool at our kitchen table, currently, and you would find that area spread with crayons, paper, scissors, books, and mom's cup of coffee.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Darla: I would love to go to Washington D.C. and show the kids all of the history there.
Jess: We love Hawaii!
Katie: I’d love to go to Ireland!
Elaine: We love camping in the Wallowa mountains in northeastern Oregon.
What books have you read over and over?
Darla: The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Jess: Harry Potter, The Goose Girl series, Rangers Apprentice.
Elaine: Pride and Prejudice, our Holy Bible, and the Little House on the Prairie series!
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Darla: We are blessed not to have any right now.
Jess: The kids are very sensitive to sugar, so we try to eat very little added sugar, and our son needs to have protein at every meal, so we need to be mindful of that. It's also important to us to eat healthy, so I cook most of our food from scratch, and we eat lots of fresh produce.
Elaine: My kiddos love to snack. We are constantly battling/searching for healthy snack options to replace processed ones. We always keep a huge bowl of fruits on the counter, and kids are allowed to eat as much fruit as they want as a snack choice.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Darla: A little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus! =)
Jess: First, chocolate! Second, I'm totally okay with letting a day go here and there. Sometimes it's just not worth the fight, or I don't have it in me to make sure all the boxes get checked off, so we call it a free day and just get through it however we can. I believe that our people are more important than our curriculum, or our schedule, or anything else, so if someone is having a hard day, that's my priority, and that's where my love and attention should be.
Katie: Not every day is perfect, in fact there are more difficult days for me than there are easy ones, but what gets me through a really hard day is when I can remind myself how blessed I am that I get to have every moment with my children! I don’t miss out on anything. I see them grow. I see them learn. I see them figure things out and see the joy on their faces when they do! Those reminders are what keeps me going.
Elaine: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. Also, if the kids are squirrelly, we take a break, get the wiggles out (dancing, singing, being silly) and try to regain focus after a moment of fun. I've found that keeping things light, my kids do a lot better and look forward to school.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Darla: Accepted Jesus as their saviour and being baptized.
Jess: I had a bad day last Monday and my kids really rallied together to make me feel better. They baked me a treat, gave me extra hugs, got along, and my oldest wrote a quote on our fridge about trials being blessings in disguise. They were so sweet and wise and it definitely picked me up!
Katie: My daughter leaves me sweet notes sometimes and they make my heart smile each time I find one! And my 4-year-old literally just quietly covered my 2-year-old with a blanket because he fell asleep! I mean, how could that not thrill my soul?!
Elaine: Learning to read! It was the most amazing as a moment to hear my then 4-year-old daughter read me a whole book. I could have cried with pride for her accomplishment.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Darla: I let my kids pick what they would like me to make for dinner and if they would like me to buy or make them a cake.
Jess: We try to keep it small- a few meaningful gifts, a few balloons and streamers. The birthday kid gets to choose their favorite dinner, and cake flavor. I make the requested dinner and their cake, but I always surprise them with the theme and finished product of their cake! It's a tradition that they look forward to with eagerness!
Katie: We don’t make a ginormous big deal out of birthdays, but sometimes we go overboard! We surprised my daughter with Disney this past year, and 2 years before that, we surprised her with a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge. Experiences over things! My 4-year-old got to celebrate his past birthday with his best friend and a Spiderman cake, and that’s all it took to see the biggest smile on his face. My 2-year-old doesn’t care about birthdays yet, so we are still pretty low-key with his.
Elaine: We make birthdays a week long event. They get to choose dinners, have special treats, lots of balloons, and on their actual birthday, they are given a special gift. Birthdays are a big deal in our house.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Darla: Took the kids to Disneyland.
Jess: I learned how to French braid our girl's hair!
Katie: We recently saw Grand Canyon for the first time, Sedona and Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We took a 6 week road trip with our camper and drove cross-country! (Thank you homeschool life for allowing us to see this beautiful country!)
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Jess: We often eat leftovers from dinner for our lunch, but I will always love a classic PB&J!!!!
Elaine: Peanut butter and jelly is a household staple during the week.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Jess: Without the internet, we would probably do more learning through reading books and life lessons with lots of discussion.
Elaine: We would do just fine. We don't use internet for school itself, and we enjoy a trip to the library as often as we can make an excuse to.
What tips do you have for other families?
Jess: Get the kids involved in the family work/chores. And go outside every day. Homeschooling does not have to mean replicating public school at home, so figure out what works for you and ignore the naysayers! You're doing much better than you give yourself credit for.
Elaine: Give yourself grace. Homeschooling is no easy feat. Ask for help, seek out a support group, and always remember why you started this journey.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
Jess: I'm always amazed that they are each good at different things. Piano, peacemaking, hard-working, even hugging! They are each so wonderful in their unique and beautiful ways!!!
- My oldest is a lot like me. She likes a strict schedule, she loves routine, and she is the best sleeper I know. She has a helpful heart and is always looking out for others- especially her little sisters.
- My middle child is a wild card. She has a fire in her soul that I hope she never loses. She is outgoing, and always making instant friends.
- My youngest is only 1- but I love her innocence and her love to learn. The little things in life are exciting, everywhere we go.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Jess: We have a Harry Potter deck building game that's our favorite, but we also love Bang!, Code Names, anything by Cranium, and every single Smart Games we've tried!
Elaine: We love Phase 10 (for the adults), the kids love Hungry Hungry Hippos, Candy Land, and Hi Ho Cheerio.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Jess: Mothering gets me a lot of movement, but we also try to get out for a 1-2 walk on most days. When I'm really ambitious, I'll do a 30 minute workout that my usually kids join in on. They love doing Cosmic Kids yoga on YouTube.
Elaine: I love walking/running. We do it probably 6 days a week during the warmer months. Only 2-3 days a week during winter.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Jess: Our youngest will be starting kinder, so I'm adding 4th kid into our "school", and our oldest 2 are taking the State Standardized tests. Those will be hard things for all of us, but i know we'll all do just fine.
Elaine: Starting homeschool with one more kiddo- I'm nervous to school two different grades at once.
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Jess: Interior decorating. Speed reading. Scuba diving.
Elaine: To quilt! I've always wanted to make special blankets for my children and family members.
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
Elaine: Instant pot chicken and dumplings!
What apps do you use the most?
Jess: My Fitness Pal, Duolingo and Yahoo Sports
Elaine: Instagram, Facebook, my fitness pal.
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
Jess: Casually fun!
Elaine: Chaos with a side of academia.
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
- a ballerina
- a paleontologist
- a veterinarian
- a celebrity!😂
- Natalie: an acrobat
- Norah: Doctor
- Olivia: undecided
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
Jess: Just soccer and church youth programs.
Elaine: My children take dance class, swimming lessons, and we attend church.
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
Jess: Soak in my hot tub, read a book, snuggle with my hubby and watch a show, or nap in my hammock!
Elaine: Sit in a quiet room!
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Jess: French toast.
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
Jess: Moab, Utah.
Elaine: The children's museum, and the lava beds.
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
Jess: I always have my kids with me, so I've started flipping the question back to them and asking them if they think my kids seem healthily socialized. Every time they've been startled, then thoughtful, then they always admit that our kids are indeed very socialized and usually make a comment about their manners or maturity.
Elaine: I feel that my kiddos are very well socialized! We have extracurriculars, and my kids have the opportunity to socialize with people of all ages, not just their peers.
What’s the funniest thing one of your kids ever said?
Jess: Karate is like yoga for boys.
Elaine: When learning about the letter C, my 4 year old says: "C is for Chaos, just like our house."
What do you do for fun as a family?
Jess: Travel, play games, cook or make crafts.
Elaine: Play games, watch movies, play outside, go out for ice cream.
How do you continue to educate yourself?
Jess: Reading books and learning from other moms.
Elaine: I am required to do continuing education classes for my job- which keeps me constantly learning.