School Plans for 2019

If you are someone who is overwhelmed by someone else’s “much,” just scroll on by as they say- I know I can be, so no worries. I actually always, always hesitate to ever write posts like this because it can all just be too much. The writing process is helpful for me though! As I was writing this, I realized several key details I need to attend to! So, onward and no hard feelings if this isn’t for you! 

On another note, it is now the next day and we are enroute to a brand-new college move-in day. Somehow, we are all loaded, and I know the fleeting completeness of us all together again.

I realized not everyone homeschools to college, and there are different paths to reach the same goal: sons and daughters reaching full potential in Christ; in life-

However, this is how we do it. My two high school students are respectively heading most likely to a four-year college and the other to start at community college based on their personal goals, potential, and needs- so that is my context! The best thing I can say is that I always plan with the end in mind- and even now am positioning my eighth and sixth grade sons for their futures.


Right now, as I type these words, Todd is heading home with a car full of our loves, bringing Tall Son back from a summer working at a Christian Retreat Center- and shuttling three siblings with him who all spent some hours together (with Todd) at Hershey Park.  What a day! Here at home, I cooked; we cleaned; Cookie Bar was baked by a young master for all to enjoy- but especially big brother; and I finalized homeschool planning.

The planning steps are involved, and planning begins months before the year begins- it is a process! However, in summer, I prepare Goal Sheets for our oversight. I attend oversight orientation and pay fees. I prepare a shopping list- or rather I tweak and perfect a list I have been curating for a good, long while-  and make purchase plans. I find resources and print documents. I prepare chore plans and meal plans. I create checklists and a schedule/daily flow. I review every out-sourced class and corresponding required texts and supplies/resources and make sure I have a plan to secure what is needed.

Little by little, piece by piece it falls into place.

It feels like a good time to share plans for 2019 as I balance on the cusp of college launch week(s).

Note: these plans are (somewhat) subject to change!

Junior (son):

Bible (Daily Scripture; Selected Readings (from Sonlight Core 300- Paul Little: Know What You Believe and Know Who You Believe along with selected C.S. Lewis texts)

Math: Honors Precalculus online with Liberty Tutorials (Foerster)

Science: Apologia Physics with Lab at co-op

History: Early Modern Great Books at co-op (Honors World History- Early Modern on the transcript)

Spanish 2 : Rosetta Stone (hopefully- he took Spanish 1 at The Potter’s School- not sure how this is all going to go- working on it!)

Technology: AP Computer Science A with Pennsylvania Homeschoolers

English: AP English Language with Debra Bell’s AIM Academy (Liliana Serbicki)

Fine Arts (half credit) : piano

Elective: Personal Finance with dear friends

and soccer, scouting

Sophomore (daughter):

Bible: still finalizing

Math: Algebra 2 at co-op

Elective Science/Study Skills: Health (first semester) Study Skills (second semester) with The Potter’s School

Combined English and History: US History and Literature at co-op

Additional English support: Wings to Soar Academy intervention programs: Infercabulary; Exact Path; Reading Plus

Foreign Language: Latin

Fine Arts/Phys Ed: Violin/Dance

Elective: Personal Finance with dear friends

Eighth Grade (son):

Bible, History, Literature, Science, English: Heart of Dakota finish Res- to-Ref/start Rev to Rev

Personal Reading

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise

Spelling: Phonetic Zoo

Math: Honors Algebra 1 with The Potter’s School

Music: Viola/Piano

Art: HOD/ and appreciation

Phys Ed: Tennis/Basketball, scouting

Sixth Grade (son):

Bible, History, Literature, Science, English: Heart of Dakota finish Res- to-Ref/start Rev to Rev

Personal Reading

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise

Typing: Mavis Beacon

Spelling: Phonetic Zoo

Math: Saxon 76

Music: Flute/Piano

Art: HOD/and appreciation; planning for some lessons as he has a special aptitude

Phys Ed: Tennis; hiking, scouting

Second/Third grade (daughter a):

Bible, History, Literature, Science: Ambleside Online Y2

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful; All About Spelling; Copybook

Math: The Good and the Beautiful

Art: Appreciation

Music: Cello/piano

Phy Ed: Dance

Second/Third grade (daughter b):

Bible, History, Literature, Science: Ambleside Online Y2

Language Arts: The Barton System; Copybook

Math: Right Start

Art: Appreciation

Music: Piano

Phys Ed: Dance

First Grade baby girl:

Bible, History, Literature, Science: Ambleside Online Y2

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful; Explode the Code; A Reason for Handwriting

Math: Horizons/ The Good and the Beautiful Level 1

Art: Appreciation

Music Violin/Piano

Phys Ed: Dance

What are your plans for 2019?




Christmas 2018

(Note: as I was writing this- my youngest daughter had a very bad episode- and I was derailed for a short time. Back now to finish!)


I am home from Church with sick little girls. My oldest daughter at the helm with me. The illness is dramatic with choking coughs, inhalers, little girls who whisper with constraint because they fear the cough, a Saturday morning pediatrician sick visit, now antibiotics, ear infections, a vaporizer (first time EVER using one in my entire motherhood– just continually shows me how  there is always more to learn, know, implement, and use–I am frequently surprised in this motherhood journey and realize all I would think I *knew* if I didn’t have the long journey of parenting all the ages for decades), and a grace- given neighbor who literally came (unknowingly to her) my rescue, sat with me, applied her stethoscope, provided (legitimate) medical advice, and was an all around comfort.

(Thank you, friend. Thank You, Lord.) 

In a few moments, Abi and I will spring to action and (hopefully) whisk the house into better shape. She is knitting industriously, and I– I am writing here and pondering. We are all listening to Piano Guys: A Family Christmas which is one of my Christmas favorites.

Blessed Christmas 2018. Sharing some memories and grace gifts. I managed (somehow) to pull our Christmas together amongst the most different advent season we have ever had. It is somewhat of a blur- we had the great delight of hosting overnight guests two weekends in a row, college son coming home, his work commitments, my high school students online classes stretching even through the 21st of December, concerts, and performances. I am resting in this Christmas week as I try to prepare my mind, heart, and home for the next semester of school. Lord, please help me. I am still writing at 66books and here is a link to my most recent post there which refers to this timely, precious week between the change of the years.

Some of our traditions fell to the wayside- but some remained unscathed:

Sunday evening advent; Adornaments; The Advent Book; It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol; Christmas Eve Shepherd’s Meal; Christmas Eve Wrapping Extravaganza; Christmas Cookies

-not enough Christmas story reading- but we are working on that now-

Something I deeply treasured this Advent Season was “tuning” in to Sarah Clarkson’s Advent Poetry readings. She would go live on Instagram (which I would watch when I could) and share the loveliest poetry. I learned many new favorites- the whole experience blessed me tremendously. You can find them here. They are a wonder.


Here is a link to Jonah playing my favorite Christmas song (by ear). — his Christmas gift to me. Best gift.


Contempic performances (Nutcracker Tea, Town Mall, and Nursing Home) and the treasured friends (and family)who shared them with us

Nathanael’s Cello performance at the Town Mall with CCS string group

Opus Winter Recital

Annual Christmas party and having special guests this year

Cookie Day and Mango Chili

My first time ever eating pomegranate ( I am in love) and the best fruit salad ever

Starbucks after Abi’s Christmas dances with Courtney and her girls

CPYB Nutcracker Performance with Jenny and Emma at the Hershey Theater

Christmas songs, Trumpet playing, Schwenk visit, heart to heart talks

realizing that Bjs wasn’t actually BJs (and time with the Erks)

lunch with Jen and all her wisdom

Being Colin’s Christmas exchange family for this year and the thoughtful, amazing gifts we all received

Amazon Prime’s Little Women and The Christmas Candle on Netflix

Christmas poems for sisters (from Micah)

Jonah’s viola music

Nathanael’s companionship at the shops on Christmas Eve

Taking the little girls to their first ever theater movie with their cousins: Mary Poppins

their happiness and joy in Christmas and (some) dreams coming true…

Happy Christmas!  I am still celebrating… not quite ready to give it all up.

Tomorrow- New Year’s!!








She’s Five

My darling turned five today (3.8) and this post is for her, not for me, although I so desperately want to write the post that is for me- the one that reflects on the reality of leaving the preschool years behind (for now… what hopeful words those are….for now) and the heart full and mind overwhelming stage I find myself in. How is it that you can look back on your own self with such nostalgia? But I do.

But for her… this day…


was full of three, small chirping girlies….

-and there was one who struggled a bit to find happiness in her sister’s special day. After a personal struggle, she managed to turn it around- I am grateful to say- and it is noteworthy- because said girl recognized it, reflected on it, and remarked on her turn-around later (during the cookie party).  She chose what was good. I am so glad.


It was full of a slow, unfolding delight.


Special Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Biscuits, Scrambled Eggs, Berries


Birthday song and Pictures


Her choice of hymn: Go Tell It On The Mountain

A stab at a birthday poem: we settled for Now We Are Six.

It wasn’t quite …but we made do.

A blessing.


A birthday gift (or two)


Long hours at play


The start of a new chapter book at rest time- and what SOLID delight to begin Misty of Chincoteague!


A whirlwind spin outside in the cold (for them, not me)


Everyone- all of us (minus Todd) home all. day.  All day.  I don’t think I fully realized this until now, and I certainly didn’t make the most of this. But, now, in this moment- I realize.


A drive out to Boy Scouts and four I love playing “I Spy” all the way home…


Her dinner: Hot dogs and rolls, chips, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, special sauce, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Lemonade.


A bubble bath (with jets that somehow ramped the experience up to the best day of the whole year! and rocketed me into best Mommy position!)


Tiny painted toes


A Cookie Celebration Party and Lemonade in blue polka dot tea cups


The Promise of a Family Party on Sunday with Gifts, and Cake, and Pizza, and Popcorn.




She’s Five.




Solo Recital Violin and Viola

It is such a joy to celebrate with the ones we love. It is so precious to champion diligence and excellence and to feel the love and support of precious ones around us.

On Saturday, we celebrated Abi and Jonah as they attained a musical goal. img_20170128_125433584 Performing a solo recital is a long journey in process. Each one takes almost a year to plan- at least six months…before recital day is finally here.


On January 28th, Abi and Jonah each stood before a crowded family room filled with family and dear friends and presented work that had been almost a year in the making.


Currently, Abi is working and almost finished with Suzuki Book 3 in Violin. Jonah is working and mid-way through Suzuki Book 2 in Viola. In the midst of continuing on with their studies and progressing through their new levels, they also perfected all the songs they learned in their previous level.


Abi presented Suzuki Book 2 and Jonah presented Suzuki Book 1 for Solo Recital. They each also chose to memorize their entire books just as their brother had last Spring- and so they presented each piece from their heart.


In preparation for a Solo Recital, the teacher works carefully with the student, crafting each piece to performance level. Usually, for a semester recital, the student only perfects one of the pieces. For Solo Recital, each piece is taken to the highest level.

For this recital, we broke for a brief and festive intermission and then enjoyed dinner afterwards. We also planned a very special surprise for the end. Nathanael joined them and they played two songs as a trio: All Creatures of Our God and King and The Kesh (dedicated to my Dad)


There were so many things that made it special. One most important one was that dear people still came even though we were dealing with significant illness ( I actually think RSV per one of the pediatricians) in the young children.  We managed to present this recital in spite of a very challenging week that included possible pneumonia diagnoses for two of the little girls, inhalers, antibiotics, and many middle of the night steam showers.

It felt a little like a repeat of last year- when Abi prepared and prepared and prepared for a Fine Arts Competition- only to be seriously ill on the one day she was to compete. She competed anyway while under strict germ protocol- but did not (of course!) do as well as she could have. However, she did perform so beautifully at this solo recital and we made it through!

Of great accomplishment for me- was the crafting of the programs! It took me far longer than I expected. We had such a wonderful example in Nathanael’s Cello teacher from last year. She really was amazing in so many ways and she set a wonderful precedent and example.


Thank you so much to all who came and gave your attention to their music. Thank you for being a part of something so special to our family. Thank you for bringing honor to a day that took so much effort. My heart is so filled with gratitude for the dear people who come alongside and love our family and who traveled so far for us. Thank you. Thank you!

Here is a sample to remember our day:



Thanksgiving Bake/Cook Day!

It’s Thanksgiving Bake and Cook Day at our house today!

We cook with an extravagance of eggs in great joy. What once was lost, has been restored, and it never gets old. We celebrate our Thanksgiving with deep and abiding glee! I believe this is our seventh Thanksgiving with eggs. This is the tipping year. The year that tips us over onto the other side. Where, we will now begin to have eggs freely longer than we were without. Significance!

The Spirit has been bringing a beloved family hymn right to the forefront in these present days. And we are “raising Ebeneezers”, truly we rejoice in the work of the Lord! There are many versions of this treasured hymn. This is merely one of them and not quite the whole way we sing it- but Chris Rice! Love.

Chris Rice singing Come Thou Fount (watch out for ads!)

I shared the following thoughts and verses with a small group of sweet girls during a November knitting time. I want to memorialize them here, too. We have been reflecting on these verses and quotes for a few weeks. It is good to let them sink, deep in.

Psalm 50:23 ESV

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!

Psalm 69:30 ESV

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.


You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink. G.K. Chesterton

The unthankful heart…discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! Henry Ward Beecher

This day has not been without its jarring disillusionment and stresses. Tensions are high with the stress of this school year and a littlest one who lives outside the box. I love that but I also cannot deny it has its challenges- especially this year, this Thanksgiving cook day. And I just feel honest in scribing it here. I keep the good. I find mending, forgiveness, grace, and healing in the hard and I just can’t quite shake the tinge of sadness I feel. Help me embrace the day and every season Lord. You are in this place and journeying with You is never stagnant- and You care for me, too.

Blessed Thanksgiving friends! Truly we rejoice in all the Lord has done and we huddle under the wings of His great mercy.

Joying with you,


Kindergarten and Preschool

I have shared about our Morning Table time and our twice weekly Meeting time.
Now, I will share some kindergarten and preschool resources we are using this year:

The day has two components- a morning academic time, and then a read aloud time.
For learning to read:
100 Easy Lessons, then(when finished) Explode the Code

For learning to write:
Memoria Press Alphabet Books, then(when finished) Copybook 1
Pencil grippers to help with the finger hold.

For Mathematics:
Rod and Staff Level 1

Resources at hand:
Finishing Memoria Press Junior K program:
this includes appropriate memorization, recitation, poetry, and literature (right now Officer Buckle and Gloria. Grin!)
Utilizing Sonlight 4/5 read alouds, Bible, Science. So many tender memories of using this with Jonah and Joshua. Grateful I get to travel this way again.
My beloved home library- including the Billy and Blaze series and the Katie and the… series by James Mayhew along with many other favorites.
Rod and Staff workbooks. (Such a blessing- teaching colors, fine motor skills, and so much more)

They also join in to Preschool on the days we work in that area.


Heart of Dakota’s Little Hands to Heaven alongside finishing Memoria Press Preschool.
The little series of 4 workbooks designed for 3 and 4 year olds. About Three, etc.

I have to say, I love Memoria Press. It is so soothing and beautiful. The routine every day brings peace and beauty. I love it and I love my little girl, bowing her head, reciting her memorized prayers and little poems with me.

My little girls can recite Baa Baa Black Sheep, Wee Willy Winkie, Jack and Jill, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Love.

All is grace,

Welcome, Little White!


We have welcomed a Ruby-Eyed White Netherland Dwarf Bunny into our family. Pippin. He is the longed for and beloved pet belonging to Abi and Asher. They researched bunny breeds and saved for three years to provide for and purchase him. He has already grown quite a bit and our whole family deeply enjoys his antics and sweet personality.

Cat and dog ownership are completely out of the picture for our family first, because of the incredible allergies we have to those pets. Second, for many other practical reasons. So, the first happy news was when we learned that we could actually own and care for a Bunny! There was the Christmas three years ago, when Abi and Asher were given a research rabbit book to begin educating themselves about owning a rabbit and all that would mean.


Christmas 2013

There were discussions with aunt and cousin about Netherland dwarf rabbits and how to care for them. There were visits to Ama’s, enjoying Skitch, the little grandbunny of Ama, and tender watch of cousin and Aunt. He is their beloved prize and Abi and Asher enjoyed learning about him and spending time with him.

There was the answer from our landlord that we were permitted to have him. O, happy day!

There was this! Pippin as a wee, wee, young lad. 🙂

Baby Pippin

Some photos of our journey to Pennsylvania to receive him from my sister and niece and the journey home.



We found a vet and made one good use of him already. I had my head stuffed with more bunny knowledge than I thought I needed to know!

He brings a lot of joy to every one of us.

Pippin (Peregrine Took). Our hobbitish bunny who lives up to his name and enjoys many a meal. 🙂


First Solo Recital

Note: My children read this blog and they love to look back at our memories. It was specially requested that I record this treasured event. 

One day, in November, I sat in on Nathanael’s Cello lesson. He had a new teacher for this past year and she was defining some of her teaching strategies. She asked him to consider preparing for a Solo recital that would stretch his performance skills and would involve memorizing every song in Suzuki Cello Book 1. Around this time, he was facing the end of this Book and eagerly looking forward to moving ahead to Book 2. Choosing to perform a Book 1 Recital would mean his Spring semester would be deeply focused on Book 1. Ultimately, this decision led to a deep perfecting of his technique which will benefit him in every way going forward- but we didn’t realize that at the time! After mulling it over in his mind for a week or so, and with some discussion from me, he agreed to the challenge.

With guided help from his teacher and a lot of focused practice, he succeeded in memorizing Book 1. He played Minuet 2 for the Spring Recital which is the last piece in Book 1.

Several weeks later, it was time. First Solo Recital. A 25 minute event. He was ready. He would play 17 pieces from memory, accompanied by his Cello teacher. His recital took place on May 7, 2016 at 3 p.m. It was held in our home.


I have been completely captivated by the beauty and artistry of the strings and it is something that has taken me completely by surprise. I had no idea I would love it so. Life takes some alluring turns, walking hand in hand, with children.

We shopped together, the Thursday before, for pretty flowers and other things. I planned a cookie reception. I had delighted little girls helping me bake. Helping Micah, too, as he made one of the recipes with one twin on each side of him.


We honored the day with special clothes and tablecloths, candles, and flowers. We rearranged furniture to accommodate the two cellos best.




A happy amount of people were expected to attend.

Nathanael was the first student at his music school to perform a Solo Recital.  He was also the first person in our family. He paved the way and now more students are getting ready to present their own special recitals. They created a new award for First Soloist and unexpectedly presented it to him at the finish- adding more honor and specialness to what was already an amazing day.


The day was full of grace. The music, so beautiful. The conversations afterward, so enjoyable.



And we were so filled with a joyful delight in the accomplishment of our son. All the effort, time, and diligence he invested… it was truly a delight to behold and I could barely keep from crying again and again.

To our family, who came in from out of town, you crowned the day in a way so special, I don’t know if I can accurately define it.

To Nathanael, I hope you know a little of how proud we are of you! The  beauty and life you bring fill our hearts with overflowing joy. Cello was completely unexpected, and O! how beautiful the surprise.


If you are getting this in email…click over to the blog for a minute and a half (or so) sample of his music. 🙂 I don’t think the link shows up in email. And then  there is also a link to his performance of Minuet 2 at recital.