Keeping it Fresh

Today, my five year old needed something that required movement. Everyday we practice something that is very hands on, but today was especially one of ‘those days.’

One of the ‘move it, move it’ activities we practiced today was spelling words with magnaformers. They are actually a generic form of this magnet, but they get the job done!

Here’s a sneak peek into how he practiced his words today.

Skiing Morning

Once a week, we take a couple hours out of our morning to ski, at the local slopes.

Each spring, Trollhaugen offers a discounted family pass. We are a crowd in and of ourselves, so we take advantage of this.

Last year was a challenging year. I’m a cheap skate and decided to teach the kids to ski – all by myself.

It was all about my expectations. Honestly, it’s still about realistic expectations. But when I was trying to teach skiing, I had to go into each session with the expectation that I was going to be a sweaty mess and I may not be able to walk the next day. 😂

After a few weeks, we graduated from the bunny hills and braved the chair lifts. My youngest still can’t get himself on the chair, by himself. Here I am counting to three and lifting him onto the chair.

This year, we almost exclusively ski the chairlift runs. I am able to drop the twins, at my aunt’s house, for a couple hours. Each kid is able to pick 3 runs. We take turns picking where to ski. That brings us to about 2 hours.

For us, two hours is about right. My oldest kid would love to stay longer, but my five year old is over skiing at about 1.5 hours.

Not to leave out the meek middle child. He was pretty stoked to ‘catch some air’ today. Not sure anyone else would be able to discern any air caught, but he was proud of himself! And so am I! Takes a lot for my ultra cautious child to even think about something kind of dangerous. And that’s ok.

Spelling Words

There are a lot of creative ways to encourage spelling practice.

A few ways we keep spelling fresh and fun:

Boogie board:

Spelling City:

Write a Sentence for each Word, they have for the week. This is great for dictation.

Every Wednesday, we FaceTime Grandpa (my dad) and they write a short story that includes all 10 of their spelling words. It’s usually a funny and nonsensical story – but a effective nonetheless and great for the imagination!

Along with the ‘fun stuff’ we also do a pre test and a real test. Sometimes I have a pencil a paper, but mostly we narrate our spelling words.

Redemptive Artistry

For the first 13 weeks of school, we were able to use a freeelementary edition of Redemptive Artistry. 


My kids and I had a ton of fun learning about past/present artists as well as their differing techniques.

Shelley West, of Redemptive Artistry, does a great job of laying out and explaining each lesson. Included is a Preschool section, perfect for little hands and short attention spans.

Redemptive Artistry has a facebook page:

MN Zoo Adventure Jan 2019

After Christmas break, it’s safe for the homeschoolers to come out of hiding!
Over past Christmases, I’ve been able to convince several family members to ditch the conventional packages and instead gift an experience or a year long membership.
My brother and sister-in-law have gifted a membership to the Minnesota Zoo for the past 6 years! We have had so many fun experiences, discoveries and learning opportunities.
Regardless of how many times we visit or what time of year it may be, we spend a minimum of four hours walking and taking it all in. (Winter is especially fun – walking slowly along the TROPICS Trail!)

Minnesota Children’s Museum

Here’s a quick peek into our trip.

We have an MCM membership. Normally, we like to visit once a month. With the rise of Covid, well, it’s interrupted many of life’s normals. Thankfully, the kids were able to do a few of summer’s normal activities, which pushed out our visit to MCM, once it did reopen.

Whether a member or not, reservations are required. It’s a very simple process. Visit and follow the link to book your visit. We have been blessed with memberships, for several years. Instead of the normal Christmas presents, we’ve asked for experiential presents, such as the Children’s Museum.

Yesterday, we were there for 5 hours. Yes, 5 hours. It’s truly a magical environment.

However, to be frankly honest, I didn’t sleep much the night before. This isn’t up for debate or needing a bazillion comments; I am not a fan of masks. I also don’t like getting in trouble. Keeping three young children in masks is about how you think it would go. (children 5 and under are exempt, from wearing face coverings)

Here’s my tip – for places that allow face shields – bring both and let the kids switch it up. I did. We brought and shields that I found on Amazon. My oldest kept her shield on the entire time, the twins didn’t need face coverings, the boys did switch back and forth between the two.

Checking in was a breeze. Before we left, I printed out the tickets. When there, they had me scan each barcode and then scan the barcode of my membership. Super easy. They didn’t temp check or anything else uncomfortable.

Beyond that, it was pretty normal. Their indoor playground is closed. A handful of feature items have been removed. The kids only noticed a couple. I didn’t bring up the rest. Being there all day and not even experiencing ‘all the things,’ I’d say is a win.

The best feature, for parents, is the limited number of people allowed into the facility. Normally, that’s my anxiety trigger. Keeping the ducklings together amongst the sea of other ducklings. UGH! This was so relaxed. I could comfortably leave the stroller and engage with one or two of kids, knowing that the others were ok.

This could be, because they are getting older. Some things do get easier with growing children. We are teetering between kids old enough to enjoy the Science Museum and children young enough that Children’s Museum is where it’s at.

To Children’s Museums credit, they offer quite a bit that caters to older children. Children’s new mega legos are amazing. All of my kids loved building and creating. The Museum’s art center is my oldest’s favorite exhibit. Even in the exhibits that are a little young-ish, they offer pieces that can be interesting to older kids, even adults.

All in all, two thumbs up! We’ll be visiting again, soon!

Catalytic Effect During Friction

Geek out moment – and who wouldn’t geek out when watching a chemical reaction take place? Would you rather balance equations or watch them in action? Ok, most people would rather experience neither, or would they?

My 3 three year old twins physically embodied what I feel on the inside, every time we do a science experiment.

What’s crazy is, all of the Elements are sitting mostly in stability, minding they’re own business and WHAM we hit them with friction/heat/etc. What the? But the resulting reaction can be spectacular!

Life can feel a lot like a chemical reaction. However, it can feel a lot more volatile, unstable, and blind.

The goal is to move forward. Friction can and should:

1) Draw us closer to God. (James 4:8)

2) Boost us to the other side of the equation. (Romans 12:2)

This is a process that continues over and over as we allow God to transform us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. (2 Cor. 3:18)

God isn’t unaware that friction in our lives causes anxiety (Phil 4:6), sadness (Matt. 5:4), and distraction (Prov 4:25-27).

Distraction… it’s an art. I’ll let you think of all the ways professionals use the ‘Art of Distraction.’

Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Satan/Lucifer also understand this, well. He’s the master of distraction. How can he distract us from God? Putting us in a place of freaking out in the midst of friction.

My husband and I enjoy mountain biking. A key rule of mountain biking is to look where you want to go and not where you don’t. If I don’t want to hit the tree, but take a good look at it, I’m gonna hit it.

We recently rode trails at RedHead Trail System. Some of the black diamond sections made me a little nervous. I don’t do heights. I also don’t trust myself to keep my eyes on the trail. If I averted my eyes, I was going down. Probably wouldn’t have died, but would’ve been in a world of hurt. I attempted to find a picture of the steep drop off. Couldn’t find it, but this is how my head felt. My hands needed to be peeled off the handlebars.

‘Looking to the right or left’ would be disastrous. Putting the hiker/biker in a world of hurt.

Life looks much like a narrow, steep, sketchy path. Pictures of Israel show tons of ancient ‘roads’ that look like the picture above. Besides this, the Bible says we walk the narrow, sketchy road, in the dark, while being pursued by satan… That’s a lot to wrap my head around. I’m on a sketchy mountain bike trail, in the dark, while being pursued by a mountain lion. Ugh.

Fix your eyes on Jesus. Allow The Word to be my guide, one bike length at a time. The Word is the head lamp. I desire the brightest head lamp! Years ago, I bought my husband the most expensive biking light I could find, Lupine Betty. He had never heard of it and was skeptical. After pressing the ‘on’ button – there was an explosion of light. Betty offers a ‘daylight’ experience, after the sun goes down. The Bible has the same daylight effect, in this dark world.

It’s about forward motion. Not looking at the prospects ahead, frozen in a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7) Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor 3:17). We allow the friction to move us forward, lighting a fire in our hearts, as we draw close to God, keeping our eyes fixed on Him, allowing His words to light our path, not averting our gaze to the right or left.

The best is yet to come. The fireworks are about to start.

Mother Culture, by Karen Andreola

This read reminded me of a cup of coffee: sip, savor, repeat.

Spending any amount of time, in the homeschool world, you are bound to come across ‘mother culture.’ Although the inter-web can pass along many ideas about mother culture, Mrs. Andreola fills the cup to overflowing.

Free to imagine what culture could permeate my home.

Even as I write, so many thoughts swirl around my mind. Thoughts about raising children. Raising adults. Passing on genuine faith. Educating children. Staying sane. Being healthy. The list goes on and on. ‘Mother Culture’ touches on all these and is a book that I’ll read several times over. As a seasoned homeschool mom and now grandmother, Mrs. Andreola gathers all swirling thoughts and brings them into focus. She provides space for the freedom to imagine what home could realistically look like.

At the end of each chapter, she provides a list of extra resources

Frequently, Mrs. Andreola would quote from other resources. Each time, my Amazon wish list would grow by one more book. I also found myself reading portions aloud to my husband or anyone else who would hear me. She put into words things that I couldn’t quite ‘put my finger on.’

If you find yourself in the state of motherhood and especially if you have been led into homeschooling, this is a must read!


St. Croix Falls has a well known gem.

It is not surprising to see Fawn-Doe-Rosa’s parking lot packed from front to back and side to side! They offer a truly magical experience. Deer walk up and eat out of your hand. This is also true of ducks, goats, sheep, ponies, llamas, and cows. Where else can you pet/hold skunk, wolf pups, raccoons, fox, and so many others.

The kids and I spend a minimum of four hours meandering, interacting, and reading about Fawn-Doe-Rosa’s animals.

Cascade Falls

As a ‘stay at home adventurist’ this is a gem of an adventure. A short little jaunt down some stairs – to Cascade Falls, a leisurely walk along the St. Croix River, and short/sweet hike up a steep hill. We end our hike at the local Dairy Queen. Besides the DQ, Osceola, WI has cute coffee shops and boutiques to round off the experience.


Recently, I participated in a thought provoking conversation.

It all started with a comment, by yours truly, wanting to relay a Bible study topic effectively to my children.

Others couldn’t agree more and it spiraled from there. It landed on how values shouldn’t be taught in schools, should be monitored closely at church and only should be left entirely up to the home life. I couldn’t agree more that values emanate from home life. However, home life communicates our values through where and how we educated/pass on information, where and how we ‘church,’ and with whom we spend time.

It was expressed that schools, public, private or religious should keep all values out and just teach facts.

If only that were possible.

Everything holds ‘value.’ Not only value, as in ‘valuable,’ holding value, but value as religion, faith aspects, or worldview.


Where does that information originate and why does it exist?

All information is a gift from the Creator. A gift to be used to grow His Kingdom through the redemption of Jesus Christ. (Side note – not only does all information emanate from God, but we are all spiritual beings and have a bent, belief, religion/faith – that shines through EVERYTHING we do…)

Either we/students/our kids are learning/education information with a mind set that it is given by God with the intention of using it to reach people, or we’re not.

Unfortunately, the English word “not” is vague. In the words of Scripture, you’re either for God or against him. Again, unfortunately, there is no such thing as middle ground, neutral, sitting on the sidelines, unattached lives. Either we see education and all subject matter interconnected to the Creator and using it to serve Him or we are disconnecting it from Him and connecting it to His enemy. Choose you this day, whom you will serve.

This matter has been dulled and we’ve bought a lie from the enemy – complacency. Jesus has won the war over death and separation, from God, for those who choose to make Jesus Lord of their lives. However, the battle, for peoples’ souls continue. God is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness, but He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish – be separated from Him.

I think of ‘old school’ battle lines – two armies lined up facing each other. Two hillsides and a valley in-between them. Those who have accepted the Lord as their king are on one side and those who haven’t are on the other.

In my head, I know we are all born as sinful. Yet, in my heart, I’ve bought the satanic/secular philosophy of being ‘born as blank slates.’ I don’t look at my small children and see ‘enemies of God.’ But– That’s how the Apostle Paul defines those who are not apart of God’s kingdom. I’m on Jesus’ side, with my husband and two of my children. The other three are still on the front lines, of the enemy. When I say this out loud – I cry. A messy, ugly cry. I plead with Jesus, I ask what he needs me to do. I see the ‘whites of their eyes’ and I long for them to choose Jesus.

The urgency. Moving past that to a flat out Emergency.

This goes beyond public school, Christian/Private school, or homeschool. Do we understand that information/education/discipleship is given by the Creator. It is woven into a Tapestry of Grace. If separated from Him, it’s automatically attached to His enemy satan. Are we raising our kids to use the info they’re receiving to reach others? Or are we trying to be ‘neutral,’ ‘personal growth and development,’ or ‘cactus religious cult?’ Or do we see information as a gift from Him? To use the extra time we have – not trying to physically survive – to reach others? I don’t… my mindset is slowly changing. Everything I do in life, job, hobby, etc are all vehicles to reach souls.

I do know that nothing is neutral, everything is either for God or against. Be aware, your enemy prowls like a lion seeking whom he may devour. Be aware of the small separation from the One who truly matters.

For a moment Newton

“Every common miracle which the child sees with his own eyes makes of him for the moment another Newton.” – Charlotte Mason

Wherever you live, your home, the outdoors, libraries, museums, or old shops. Explore. Not only for your children’s sake, but for your own as well. Feed your soul.

@thescvalley @iceagetrailorg

#berrypicking #stcroixvalley #lifelonglearning #explorediscoverlearn #stayathomeadventure

T’was the Night Before Homeschool…

T’was the night before homeschool and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except — the kid

– who is thirsty

– needs to use the bathroom

– is too hot

– is too cold

– too itchy

– whose blankets fell off the bed

– needs a snuggle

– has to use the bathroom, again

You get the picture. Or you’ve been there yourself!

This is a teaser of a series that will be coming down the pipeline, in the near future.

In order to be free to do ‘all the things,’ all the other things must be in order. Say that 10 times fast.

In reality, the more organized and prepared we are as parents and homeschoolers, the smoother the day usually goes. (Now throw a couple of toddlers in the mix and then it doesn’t really matter how well you planned…)

Ok – it does matter how well you plan, even when there are toddlers thrown in the mix. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.

When it comes to laying everything out the night before, there was a ton of work that went into the what’s, when’s, where’s, why’s, hows, and whose. Before I even prepped this, there were file folders, lesson plans, bullet journals, printing, laminating, and above all a lot of prayer.

Trying to bring it all together all at the same time would be completely overwhelming. Getting this all together takes multiple steps. These will be set out plainly in the near future. For now, here is a picture of what setting up the night before looks like.

Each kid has seat work, activities, piano practice and a chore that is done before they walk up the stairs, to our main level.

I set out what they need at their table spot and write out the details on the white board.