Elizabeth in Guatemala
- Mom - ER Nurse
- Dad - Foreign Service Officer
- E - 4 y/o pre-k currently using Timberdoodle
- R - 1 y/o also with Timberdoodle.
Follow us on Facebook.
Jay in Bamako
Mommy, Daddy, Sissy, Bubby, and Niko(the dog). We work in Mali as missionaries. Mom loves photography, art, and poetry. Dad likes to golf. Sissy adores (with Mom) to read. Bubby is intrigued by how things work and can often be found opening, dumping, unscrewing anything and everything.
Kadie R. of Maluki, Indonesia
- Gregory - dad.
- Kadie - mom.
- Jensen - Son and 3rd Grader.
- Avett- Son and Kindergartner.
- Juniper - Daughter and aspiring Pre-schooler.
- Chrysanthemum and Marigold - 2 very pregnant felines.
- Feathers - our ever hungry chicken.
Amy of Osan, South Korea
We are a military family with 3 boys, 2 girls. We’ve been homeschooling for 8 years now in various places in the US. We were so excited to be able to take our family abroad and enter the “world schooling” area for 2 years in Asia.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Elizabeth: I found Timberdoodle on a homeschool blog. I really like the hands-on STEM tools -- the PlusPlus books, in particular, have been a huge winner with my 4 y/o. I use them whenever she needs a quiet moment, and they were so helpful while we were on an extended trip last month. They were portable and kept her engaged for hours in the hotel, and I felt good that she was learning something at the same time. My youngest loves the wooden toys, and I really appreciate the high quality. They are part of the regular rotation in our playroom.
Jay: We were about to buy Abeka but after some several questions and a random homeschool hunt on Google, we came across the name Timberdoodle. We decided, even though it was three times the price of the Abeka videos we had thought to buy, to give it a shot. I'm glad we did! We love most everything we purchased--a mix between preschool, kindergarten and first-grade stuff-in our customized kit (way cool that this is even offered!). There were so many goodies that we don't do everything every day but do maybe three or four things each day and switch it up often. We love the Math-u-See curriculum, the sticker books, the Usborne books, the Berenstain Science book, the Morphun blocks, and the Mad Matter...most all of it!
Kadie: I first heard of Timberdoodle from a friend overseas. I love extras Timberdoodle offers. The fun art activities and games. The kids love doing them whenever I allow it. :) We have really enjoyed Long Story Short and read it every night as a family.
Amy: I love the idea of Timberdoodle especially for my 2 little boys (ages 4 & 2). Their activity level and brain development seems ideal for this fun curriculum and it’s different than anything we’ve previously tried.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Elizabeth: We start school around 8:00 a.m., and our day includes read-alouds, math, phonics lessons, art, science, and logic. And of course, lots and lots of playtime! We do most of our read-alouds over meals, and I keep the book work to about 20 minutes maximum each day.
Jay: We usually start at around 9:00 a.m. and try to do a bit of math, some form of literature or reading, and some hands-on manipulatives. I do chores mainly when the kids are taking naps or are down for the night. I cook one-pot, crock-pot, and instant pot meals a lot during the week so I don't have to spend much time in the kitchen while they are awake. Sometimes Bubby, who's almost two and a techy-foodie, likes to watch me cook, especially if I use the mixer. :) If I do cook a more labor-intensive meal, I send the kids to play or occasionally ask my husband to pop-in and check on them.
Kadie: We start school every day at 8:00 a.m. and we go through every subject everyday and are usually done by noon. Chores are done before school or afternoon depending on what needs done. We eat all three meals together at 7:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.
Amy: We get started by 10:00 with our morning time. That typically includes read alouds, Bible time and catching up on current events. During nap time, I’m able to help my older ones through their table or independent subjects. We supplement activities with a weekly co-op based on fun get-togethers for all ages and all our older children are experienced Girl or Boy Scouts.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Elizabeth: Wednesdays are our rest days, so you'd find my kids either building something, creating art, or outside playing with friends. I love having a mid-week break. It gives us a chance to catch up, take a breather, and reset.
Jay: Maybe semi-organized chaos?! Lately, we've been having team members over for mentoring sessions so we have to do some prep for their arrival which means our house is in the state of attempting-to-be-perfect-and-spotless and Mom might be trying to make some snacks for the team while we are doing our school work. This is fun for everyone though as we often get first tastes of what's being produced in the kitchen. :)
Kadie: Everyone has quiet time after lunch, the boys listen to Adventures in Odyssey while Juniper naps with her Mama. Dad is usually working or having some quiet time of his own.
Amy: Hmm- Wednesday afternoons would be a kitty curled up with a big kid, my daughter returning from piano lessons down the street and a energetic 4-year-old having some down time after a morning at preschool coop!
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Elizabeth: Argentina, specifically Tierra del Fuego.
Jay: Greece or Thailand or Israel.
Amy: Thailand and Vietnam are both on our agendas before we leave the Asia continent.
What books have you read over and over?
- The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
- Dr. Seuss
- The Bible
- The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
- At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Elizabeth: I have an extremely picky eater here, and we struggle to help her overcome this. It's part of a larger anxiety diagnosis, and this is one of the ways she attempts to control her environment. We simply try to stay neutral and supportive while modeling good habits.
Jay: We have to make most things from scratch because we live in Africa: it takes a lot of extra time but we eat well :) We try to make our plates colorful with lots of vegetables too!
Amy: We have picky eaters used to the American diet which has proven challenging on our travels. We do the best we can- both encouraging our children to expand their palette but recognizing that, especially when traveling or being in a situation that already stretches their comfort zone, a fed kid is a happy kid.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Elizabeth: TV! Nothing wrong with Wild Kratts or Magic School Bus on a bad day. Relatedly, it's okay to break the "no eating on the couch" rule when things are extra hard. Worst case scenario, throw the kids in the bathtub with some ice cubes or fizzy tabs or spray bottles, and call it "water play".
Jay: Lots of prayer...and hot coffee :)
Amy: Give yourself and your children some space and some grace. If possible, go outside. If not possible (we struggle with this due to poor air quality in Asia), some headphones and time for everyone in their own spaces can help.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Elizabeth: My oldest recently learned to read. I was so humbled that I was there to watch that skill emerge, to witness the excitement and pride she felt.
Jay: A month or so ago, I had the thought that maybe my daughter could and would write words, like her name. After one try with it spelled perfectly backward (how awesome!), she wrote her name very legibly...and she hasn't stopped writing it on all her papers since :) Sometimes we limit our children because we don't ask them to do the tasks we think are beyond their current level. She has proved this over and over to me in the last few years: she can do much more than I think that she can!
Amy: Finding notes in their schoolwork or left for me randomly that show appreciation to someone- not just me, but in watching them show love to anyone in their lives.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Elizabeth: The little ones just get cake and presents at home. But for the older birthdays (age 4 and up) we go for big parties! That special excitement only lasts for a little while.
Jay: Big birthday bash. Not expensively but we put up decorative banners, use special plates and napkins, have balloons. The birthday boy or girl gets to choose the type of cake or dessert and what kind of ice cream. They also pick the food genre. (Sissy just had a make-your-own pizza party and Bubby will soon have a cook-out.) We spread out the present opening throughout the day and do lots of cooperative games with the guests. The kiddos make 'thank you' favor bags to send home with every guest too. Once the kids are older, they will get a 'birthday week' like Daddy. He gets a small present or sweet every day for a week and then we celebrate his big day with a few extra gifts and some special food.
Amy: Our birthday fun starts in the morning with pancakes topped with fun chip frosting! The birthday kid gets to pick the activity and dinner for our day. Whenever possible, my husband takes the day off and joins us too!
What have you done recently for the first time?
Elizabeth: We just signed up for a worldschooling pop-up! We've never traveled with other families before, and I'm nervous to go with such young children (and I don't know the other families!). But I also don't know when or if we'll be able to do this sort of thing in the future, so we want to grab the opportunity while it's there.
Jay: We visited South Africa and it was fabulous! There, we rode on the wrong side of the road and got to see many wild animals in the wild on a short safari. All firsts for our whole family.
Amy: Traveled to Japan!
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Jay: I rarely make the same thing twice because surely the next best recipe is out there. The kids love tuna or egg salad sandwiches, ramen noodles (help!), chicken nuggets, and hot dogs when I am out of ideas or time.
Amy: We love a “snack-y” lunch which is an assortment of whatever fruit + protein + carb I have on hand and easily available. I always feel like it’s a “cheat” but it’s my kids favorite almost always!
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Jay: We don't homeschool using the Internet and my children aren't using any form of media so we'd be fine.
Amy: We do almost all our subjects without a connection. We do opt for a streaming math curriculum so we’d take the book route instead. We have a library just down the street and families in our building who are always willing to share resources.
What tips do you have for other families?
Jay: Take a deep breath. Realize this part of their (and your!) learning journey is only a passing moment...and we are never promised tomorrow. Soak up each laugh, wipe away the frustrated tears, and live fully present. ("Turn Up the Music" by Point of Grace is how we're trying, trying, trying to live!)
Amy: My biggest tip is to not compare with others, especially to the level you think the public-equivalent grade your child is in. There are positives and negatives to every situation and it’s just too tempting to compare your hard to days to the good days of the other side.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
Jay: They are both absolutely brilliant in completely different ways.
- Sissy is a fierce leader and stubborn to the core.
- Bubby is an emotional lovey guy and is bubbling with curiosity.
- I love my 2-year-old's pure joy and delight that shines through his laugh and smiles.
- I love that 4-year-old still wants momma cuddles at bedtime.
- I love my 8-year-old's tenacity that everyone notices first off when they meet her!
- I love the tender heart of my 11-year-old though it stretches me as her mama daily.
- I love that my 13-year-old is still a “boy” and wants hugs though I can see the hints of the young man he is becoming.
What song is currently in your head?
Jay: "Turn Up the Music" (Point of Grace) since I mentioned it...ha!
Amy: Into the UNKNOWN! ;)
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Jay: We love that Alphabet bingo (our kids are almost 2 and 4) and a game about ladybugs and aphids, but us adults love all kinds of games: Farkle, Hecho, Snappy Dressers, Gin Rummy, etc.
Amy: We have some big Minecraft fans here! Which is fine by me because we also have many interests outside of digital gaming. Sushi go, Blokus, Sneaky Snacky Squirrel and Ghost fighting treasure hunters too!
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Jay: Extra fries? I'd love more fries...
Amy: I’m a runner- it helps with my stress and gives me a goal. Our local homeschool group has a runner group for moms. We are planning a race weekend as a mom-retreat!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Jay: We're not quite there yet in our homeschool though we have been having fun with water beads in the bathtub. Because of the lack of humidity in the Sahara, they re-shrink if left out!
Amy: My husband was teaching and fluid’s viscosity and used milk versus eggnog. My kids will still yell out “Dad! Don’t drink the test subject!” When he pours a glass around the holidays.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Jay: Return back to the US to travel for fundraising...this time with children.
Amy: Finish a full curriculum year with 3 school age kids.#homeschoolgoals
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Jay: Put a spare mattress in the living room so they could 'jump on the bed' without busting their heads :) They, for whatever reason, thought this was the best thing in the world!
Amy: We went sledding out at a local Korean sledding hill!
What would you name your boat if you had one?
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Jay: Not sure. I think Bubby'd want to be a penguin at this moment and Sissy most likely would want to be a 'boss' :)