Ashley from Vancouver, Washington
We are a family of 4. Mom, Dad, and two boys: Graham, 5, and Everett, 7. Dad is in the military, Mom is a nurse and we also have a little dog named Penelope. Everett plays baseball and Graham wants to play basketball.
Rachel of Northwest Washington
Our family is Mom and Dad, boy and girl, and a million pieces of Lego.
Michelle of Washington State
I have 6 kids but only 2 still at home. I am a widow and am going to school myself so that I can support the kids when the benefits end. My end goal is Occupational Therapy. My boys like sports, one regular and one just started Special Olympics. We have 2 dogs (Anubis and Xena), a leopard gecko (Riot), and 9 chickens (one rooster and eight hens).
Mrs. G. of Washington
We have an urban homestead with lots of boys and chicken! We are training up one engineer, one pilot, one soldier and one who changes his mind depending on which friend he most recently played with.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Ashley: We found Timberdoodle a few years ago when looking to homeschool our boys. We were looking for a heavy emphasis on play and fun learning and loved Timberdoodle's curriculum kits. We love the different hands-on activities, art and games included. We will often pull out "school work" and our kids think it's just play.
Rachel: When I was looking for homeschool materials, Google shot up a link to Timberdoodle. I loved the product descriptions and samples, the reviews and photos. I got a catalog and marked it all up where there were things I'd love to get if I weren't on a budget.
Michelle: I don't remember the first time I was introduced but it was likely the homeschool convention in Puyallup. I loved purchasing all my curriculum from you guys because I could make it fit my family. We still use many of the products regularly throughout the years because the games and activities are so fun.
Mrs. G: My friends recommended Timberdoodle for the ease of finding curriculum! It offers everything from complete kits, great for getting started, several options based on kids' strengths and needs, and the best in mom-approved options.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Ashley: We start around breakfast time and start with our language arts, math and alternate between science and geography with art and fun in between. We are still doing early learning so we keep it simple and fun. We do chores and meals and then sometime will do more subjects in the evening.
Rachel: We are not a very schedule-oriented family... School doesn't happen at the same time every day, but usually we get started someone before lunch, and try to finish up everything for the day before dinner. So far we have used Sonlight for our core subjects, so we do most things every day. I instituted a "Learning Beyond Books" category for things like art, cooking, creating/building, PE, etc. The kids usually pick one or two of those things to do every day, in addition to inventing new things with Legos or inventing new storylines for their dragon games. Chores are generally done on an as-needed basis, though I wish I were more consistent about recruiting helpers for random tasks!
Michelle: Being honest, my kids are in school because I am in school but there have been many issues in school, especially with my SPED child and I will, at any moment, pull them out if needed. I also "off school" so we supplement to make sure they know learning can be fun!
Mrs. G: Our day starts rolling at 6:30 for our oldest, and the rest of us lounge until sunrise to feed animals. 8:00 breakfast and devotions kick off (unless its co-op day). Then songs/history starts us off. On cold days we head to the YMCA for PE. Warm days boys go outside, sometimes Mom and Dad join them for sword fighting lessons.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Ashley: You would see us probably playing a game or doing an art project or playing outside.
Rachel: Legos are scattered all over the floor, the furniture, the TV table... Books are stacked on the couch where I'm sitting, and I have the instructor guide open while I read. The other couch had been transformed into a dragon habitat. We are in the midst of laundry day, so there are clothes hanging by the fire. The art supplies are on the table from an earlier project, but while I read the children are building something new and improved with the Legos.
Michelle: A thoroughly messy home with dogs cuddling and kids playing (usually electronics, unfortunately) and dog hair every where. haha
Mrs. G: We would likely be swimming at the YMCA on Wednesday, so you would find a quiet house with laundry running.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Ashley: We would love to go to Disneyland.
Rachel: I have too many! South from here to California to see Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Bishop, Mt. Lassen, the redwoods... West to Yellowstone, jump over to My Rushmore and the black hills, then south through Colorado and back over into Utah, check out the Grand Canyon... But there are jaw-droppingly beautiful places in Idaho and Montana as well, and I've never been to any of them. And that's just the US! I've always wanted to go to Banff, and do a tour of lower British Columbia. We like to mountain bike, rock climb, hike, and camp - anything outdoors. But I'd love to take my family to other countries, too.
Mrs. G: To the beach. We are blessed to have a river we can walk to, lakes and ocean close enough to drive to for a picnic!
What books have you read over and over?
- anything Dr. Seuss
- Ant on a Railroad Track
- The Book with No Pictures
- Bear Stays Up.
Rachel: I've read A Ring of Endless Light more times than I can remember, and several other volunteers by Madeline L'Engle. As a kid I read all the books by Jim Kjelgaard. My daughter keeps asking me to read and re-read the Wings of Fire books to her.
- A Wind in the Door
- The Secret Garden
- Llama Llama
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Ashley: We thankfully do not face any dietary challenges.
Rachel: I have IBS and follow a low-FODMAP diet, which requires eliminating some very delicious, healthy foods. Meanwhile my children are just rather particular and one has a long list of things he won't eat. Often these different approaches to food clash. I basically do what everyone says you shouldn't do: I make a meal some of us can eat and short order cook for whomever is left out.
Mrs. G: Three boys are allergic to dairy- severely. I have learned to make everything from scratch.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Ashley: Taking small breaks to deep breath, going on short walks or thinking of things we are thankful for.
Rachel: Really just one: exercise. Just do something physically active, whether your flavor of exercise is walking or gardening, swimming, Zumba, running or biking or hoisting a toddler around... It all counts, and it makes you feel good.
Mrs. G: Take a deep breath. Mama can go in time out and cry, pray, and praise (that's the order that works best for me.) And some days the littles come with me. It is okay to show them how to handle hard feelings.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Ashley: The care they show for their great grandma. They always make sure to include her on trips to the grocery store, family dinners, carrying her groceries upstairs, or just making sure she has opened her blinds and doesn't need anything.
Rachel: My children are both very generous at times and in ways that surprise me (but also sometimes they aren't, like anyone else). And every once in a while they go out of their way to do something of service or kindness to me!
Mrs. G: My young son is learning to write. The third thing he wrote was "I love Mom." The next week, he wrote a letter to his 14-year-old brother. It was 5 pages that all said "poop." It was well received by all the boys.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Ashley: We love to do big birthday celebrations with lots of family and friends. We are having a reptile man come to my oldest child's birthday next month.
Rachel: Once upon a time birthdays were very low key and we would get one simple gift for the birthday person. Family members have inflated the tradition to quite a spectacle of cards and gifts. We still keep it simple, with birthday waffles- different from regular waffles because they are topped with sprinkles (hundreds and thousands) and cream cheese frosting. Once in a while they also get to do something fun with a few friends - our boy keeps asking to invite friends over to ride bikes and build a bike obstacle course.
Mrs. G: We choose a weekend day, have out-of-town family and a few friends over for dinner and cupcakes.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Ashley: We love hummus, pita veggies and fruit. Its quick, easy and we all enjoy it.
Mrs. G: Leftovers.
What tips do you have for other families?
Ashley: Take each day at a time and don't stress if your children learn at different times or learn completely different than the other.
Rachel: I've gotten some great advice from veteran homeschoolers, but at the end of the day all that advice has to fit into my household and my capacity to adapt. If you can't implement it out it just doesn't fit me. It's not helpful. Know your source, and know yourself.
Mrs. G: Every child's experience is different. It is okay for them to learn "home ec" skills young, and cooking is the gateway to fractions and chemistry!
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Ashley: Mouse Trap, Little Red Riding Hood, marbles and trivia games.
Rachel: Everyone enjoys Wordscapes. But for interactive games, we like Sabateur.
Mrs. G: Tenzi.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Ashley: We have property so we like to be outside on scooters and run around.
Rachel: I have a few hand weights in my garage and I take my laptop out there most days to follow a free online workout video #fitnessblender, usually for 30-60 minutes. I alternate between cardio and weightlifting. When I can get away from the house I go mountain biking.
Mrs. G: Tabatas- about 3 times a week.
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Rachel: Sewing (clothes), carpentry or furniture making and refinishing... Things that would equip me to someday customize a van for camping in!
Mrs. G: Woodworking.
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
Mrs. G: Project based.
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Rachel: Everything! Ninja supercross racer who snowboards in the off season for one; the other wants to be a veterinarian/zookeeper, mom, ninja, and several other things depending on the day.
Mrs. G: Pilot. Engineer, firefighter, soldier.
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
Rachel: Nothing organized.
Mrs. G: Civil Air Patrol, swim team, Boy Scouts, youth group.
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
Rachel: Breathe. Write. Sometimes I experiment with watercolor paint. I actually like to cook, I just hate deciding on menus.
Mrs. G: Drink my tea. Or knit.
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
Rachel: Fruit. Nuts.
Mrs. G: PB and Apples, almonds and dried mangoes, Monster Cookies.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Rachel: Still working on overcoming this: student apathy/disinterest.
Mrs. G: Choosing to let my oldest go to public school.
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
Mrs. G: One-pot-pasta
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
Rachel: Parkour in the garage, bike riding, a little handstand challenge now and again, tree climbing.
Mrs. G: Swim, run the dog, and sword fight.
What’s the most useless talent you have?
Rachel: I can cross all my fingers unassisted.
Mrs. G: I can count by squares and primes.