We are a family of four, with one little dude and one little miss. Of course, we have to add Sammy, our schnorkie, to the count. Dad works in full-time vocational ministry at our local church, while Mom is blessed to homeschool the kiddos and serve as cruise director for all the family activities. Soccer, lacrosse, ice-skating, gymnastics and ballet are usually on the agenda, but anything goes with this adventurous bunch!
How do you Timberdoodle?
When I hear Timberdoodle, I think quality, intentional hands-on learning and FUN! I first discovered Timberdoodle in a homeschool chat group. I went to the website and immediately started adding items to my Christmas list for my kids. It has continued to be the very first place I go for gift ideas. I tend to use my Timberdoodle goodies when we need a break from the normal routine. They are sure to bring a spark of joy back into our homeschool days, while secretly giving mental hooks for past and future school lessons.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Over the years, I have found that allowing my kids to have a small bit of free play before our school day is key for us. Therefore, we start our day later than most homeschool families. Typically, we are getting started around 9:30 - 10:00 a.m. We take a half-hour break for recess and a one-hour break for lunch. (I do often read at lunchtime, so it's not a total break.) Most days, we wrap up between 2:30 - 3:00 p.m. I guess that leaves us with 3.5 hours of "formal" schoolwork. The only subject we do daily is spelling. We do math, reading and language arts 4 days/week and everything else is done either 2 or 3 days/week. However, my kids will often read, do math activities or play geography games during recess or on the weekends. Learning truly never stops here....except when it is video game night ;) .
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Wednesday is our mid-week light day. We enjoy a shorter schedule and have free afternoons. Sometimes we'll plan something away from home, while other times we'll get involved in a home project of some sort. Since we have Wednesday night Bible Club, you may find us eating an early supper ;) .
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
This is my dream history field trip: Pennsylvania Turnpike across the whole state (I have a bunch of stops planned), then turning south to tour our nation's capital, heading further south into Virginia with several stops before heading west, visiting Shenandoah Park and finally making the turn north to head home. I do have "mental itineraries" for a New England coast fall foliage trip, a South East coast beach trip and an "out west" National Parks trip, but the dream history trip is nearest to my heart...and budget, lol.
What books have you read over and over?
I am not much of a repeat reader. In fact, I can't remember anything I've read in entirety more than once, other than books of the Bible.
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Praise the Lord, we don't really have any dietary issues. We just have to watch sugar intake and maintain proper hydration. I think most moms have to watch those things, though.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Relationship over academics. Repeat it over and over. If you need to stop, regroup and start again another day to maintain your relationship with your child, do it. They are your "why" for doing this. Hug them, take a walk outside, get a snack and try again.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
I have to pick just one!? They bring such joy and I take such delight at their discoveries and new-found abilities. I have to say when we are out and about and one of my kids makes a connection to something we learned together, my heart does a little flip-flop. "Look, Mom! That's just like you taught us!" Sigh :) .
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
We have a close, large, very local extended family, lol. They all come over for dinner and cake and leave behind an unnecessary abundance of gifts. My kids don't seem to mind ;) .
What have you done recently for the first time?
I am not much of an early adopter or trend-setter. The newest thing I have tried my hand at is vlogging/blogging. It's a whole new world and I haven't quite made up my mind what I think of it.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Both my kids and I love homemade lunchables. My kids love the variety and snack-feel and I love that I can easily get many food groups covered at once.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
The only regular use of the internet in our homeschool is daily spelling video lessons that we stream. We "ask Google" for fun facts or answers to questions that come up and play games about once a week, but we'd manage ok without it.
What tips do you have for other families?
Involve everyone (as much as possible) in learning. Make homeschool a family affair. There are a million ways to do this, so just find the ways that work for you.
Take vacations at off-peak times to save money and skip the crowds. Enjoy those types of perks of homeschool that you can look back on during difficult periods.
Get out of the house. Give your boys chances to run, even if they run laps around the perimeter of your house. Some girls need it too, but just about every boy needs it.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
My daughter is so imaginative and clever with her words. She is exuberant and full of big emotions. She doesn't know how to do anything small or halfway.
My son is such a thinker and has an incredible memory. He loves including everyone and always, and I mean always, has a game/challenge he wants to do with us. He is tender-hearted and very aware of the suffering of others.
What song is currently in your head?
The Peppa Pig theme song.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
We love so many, but our current favorites are UNO, Battleship, Ship of Treasures, Fibber, Memory, any card game and Watch This.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Right now, we exercise after school work is done. We do a warm-up video together, then the kids do the cardio video while I go on my stepper (in the same room). We finish by doing a cool-down video together. It takes about 20 minutes and we aim to do it 3-4 times a week in the cold months. When it gets warmer, we plan to walk outside a day or two instead.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
We are going to Disney World. Trust me, this is hard.
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Getting treat from the bakery instead of making them at home is a fun treat my kids love!
What would you name your boat if you had one?
Please Don't Let Me Drown
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
I would love to learn to sew or play the piano.
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
Chocolate Chip Muffins using Pancake Mix
What apps do you use the most?
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Keep
- various travel apps
- shopping rewards apps
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
It changes often, but my son wants to "invent things" or be a YouTuber. My daughter wants to be a firefighter-doctor-mommy.
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
We change it up each year, but currently we are involved in our local church activities, piano lessons, gymnastics, ballet, ice skating and soccer. We participate in local homeschool field trips every month or so, as well.
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
Currently all my "me time" is spent planning our Disney vacation. It's still a pretty fun way to pass the time, even though it's work.
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Muffins! I like just about any kind, but the kids' prefer banana or chocolate chip.
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
We really enjoyed a day at Pioneer Town. It was immersive, hands-on and just long enough without exhausting the kids.
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
I don't come across this much (thankfully!) but I usually reply with something like, "I know that's been a concern for a long time but things are really different now. There are many opportunities for kids to form friendships in clubs and activities. My kids are always busy!"
What’s the funniest thing one of your kids ever said?
They have said some super funny things...but the only thing that pops into my mind now is when my daughter told me she wanted me to die so she could marry her dad. "But don't worry, Mom. I'll still love you even when you're in Heaven. You'll always be my mom. But I'll only love you half, because...you know, you're dead." Of course, we explained she would never be able to marry her daddy and she then told me she isn't going to love me anymore.
What do you do for fun as a family?
We create family challenges and homemade games. If we make it a scavenger hunt of sorts, everyone has fun.
How do you continue to educate yourself?
As part of my professional licensure, I have to do a certain amount of continuing education courses every two years. In addition, I read and watch a ton of videos for online learning in areas of personal interest.
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
Cheese sticks and raisins save the day here!
What’s the best museum you’ve ever gone to?
We have an awesome local science museum. However, my all-time favorite is the Smithsonian in DC.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Teaching my son how to handle difficulty and making mistakes. He is so hard on himself when he answers a question incorrectly. Teaching him to regroup, move forward, learn from it and try again.
What is your favorite thing about having kids?
Again, you want me to pick just one thing?! I love watching them experience life - wonder, joy, discovery, challenge, success, learning. We get to see all their firsts and know them better than anyone else!
What’s the best vacation you have ever taken as a family?
We haven't traveled often or far from home yet, but we all loved a recent trip to Lego Discovery Center. We found a hotel with a fun waterpark, ate at unique places and truly relaxed.
List 3 frivolous things you are enjoying right now.
A Google Home Hub type thing (I can't remember what mine is called), a 3-D printer and Disney planning.
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
Nachos and rice!
What’s the strangest place you’ve done school?
Share a favorite organizational tip.
Put your homeschool stuff where you are most often naturally in your home. I know, that's probably your kitchen....but sacrifice a cupboard for daily ease and sanity.
What special gifts or talents to your kids have?
My son has true musical ability. We aren't sure where it will take him yet, but several teachers have noted his talent.
We are still learning my daughter's talents as she is still a wee one, but she is a born caretaker for sure.
Both my kids have an amazing memory.
Tell us something unique or unusual about your family.
I guess some people would say that homeschooling makes us unusual, but the Timberdoodle family wouldn't agree. :)
I think most people would find it unusual that we can be completely content and entertained at home. A lot of our friends are always looking for places to go and things to do to keep the kids busy. We like being together and, apart from occasional, brief moments, our kids don't "drive us crazy." We actually like being with them!
What’s making you laugh these days?
I love hearing my kids do impressions of their favorite characters or silly songs.
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
We have a set of videos we use for warm-up, cardio and cool-down. I also have a health text that I read from occasionally at lunchtime to teach the kids about caring for their bodies.
Share a favorite inspirational quote.
It's never too late to do right. (My pastor)
What’s your best time of day to homeschool?
10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. We just stop at 3:30 p.m. no matter what we've accomplished.
Tell us something interesting about your local area.
We have the residence of a former president in our town. I'm sure there are more interesting things that I am forgetting. We love it here!
What dream for your family has come true?
We have a beautiful home, I am home with the kids and my husband is in full-time vocational ministry. It's all we ever wanted.
What’s the most useless talent you have?
I can still remember my twirling routines from high school. I don't know how that will ever be useful, lol!