An Update on our School Year (Our Schedule, Curriculum, Homeschool, Public School, College, oh my!)

Way back in August when I shared this very delicious Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe, I mentioned a bit about our school year and our family Bible time. Several asked for more information, so here I am, a month and a half later, finally getting around to writing a few details about our schedule and curriculum.

schedule and curriculum

The good news: So far, this year isn’t as difficult as the past three years have been. Thank you, God. Our high school aged sons had some tougher classes during those years that threatened to push both student and mother over the edge of sanity. Everything in comparison seems easier this year, even though it’s still hard work. So here we are, not losing our sanity. Mostly.

This year we have:

Asa ~ age 20, a college junior

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Of course he’s not still homeschooling or even living at home, but I thought you might like an update on him anyway. :) Asa lives on the York College campus across town, so we still get to see him from time to time! He’s in the thick of his Business Communications degree plan, is known as “the video guy” on campus, and is well on his way to making a career of videography and photography. He’s paying his way through school with his camera, by studying hard so he can keep his academic scholarship (he has to maintain a 3.75 gpa or higher, phew!), plus he’s got a soccer and a choir scholarship. Somehow he keeps up with all of this, along with heavy involvement on campus, without ever sleeping. Also, he has an adorable girlfriend. Be still my heart.

Justus ~ age 17.5, a high school senior

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He is all but finished with his high school graduation requirements, so he is focusing now on getting more college credits under his belt. (We heart dual credits!) He’s taking World Literature on the York College campus, and Intro To Business at the public high school for college credit.

Big News! Nebraska changed their requirements this year for homeschoolers. In order to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school, homeschoolers only have to take two classes (which is much more doable for our family compared to previous state requirements). So Justus and Elias are taking two classes each at our local high school so that they can play soccer with the team in the spring. So exciting!

Justus is taking piano and voice lessons each week, choir at the public school, and produces music on software at home each week too. Perhaps it goes without saying that he is planning to be a music major in college next year.

Elias ~ age 15.5, a high school sophomore 

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This kid is hitting his high school basics hard this semester so that he can begin dual credits next semester (or next year…we’re still working out some of the specifics). He’s taking Choir and Weight Lifting at the public high school for his two required classes which will make him eligible to play soccer with the team. We chose those because there’s no homework involved, seeing as his homeschool academic plate is very full this year (details below).

Elias takes voice lessons each week and has no idea what he wants to do as a career in the future. It will be fun to watch God reveal that to him in the coming years!

Malachi, age 12.5, a 7th grader

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This guy is so full of ideas I can’t keep up. He’d rather ignore all school work and instead develop his ideas all day (mostly with LEGOs and YouTube, both of which he’d like to turn into businesses). Unfortunately, he has mean parents who still make him do his Pre-Algebra. So, he works hard to get his school work done by lunch, if possible, so that he can go with ALL THE IDEAS all afternoon.

He is on both a city team and a club team for soccer this fall and is busy writing two scripts for a church middle school event in the spring.

All three of our boys who still live at home will play for our homeschool basketball team this winter (Malachi’s first year!). They also all referee soccer for our city rec league, and some for club teams too, which has been great money for them through the years. They all work with Matt here and there doing various handy man or lawn care jobs, which is great for their work ethic, skills training, and savings accounts!

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What does our school year schedule look like?

6:30ish I get up and have quiet time with God before the household gets up. The boys wake up to their alarm clocks so they can be ready and at the table at 8:00.

8:00 Our family enjoys breakfast and Bible time together (I explained more about our family Bible time here).

8:40 Justus and Elias leave for Choir at the public school. Elias has Weight Lifting right after that, so Justus hangs out in the library and does school work during that period.

Meanwhile, Malachi and I read World History together (Sonlight curriculum) at home. Then he heads to a computer to work on Pre-Algebra (Teaching Textbooks) in the hopes that he’ll be done with that computer before Elias gets home. I answer emails and do other small blogging jobs while staying nearby to answer any math questions Malachi has.

10:30 Justus and Elias get home from public school. Justus practices his piano, guitar, and does any college class homework that needs to be done.

Elias starts on Geometry (Teaching Textbooks), then moves on to English, Zoology, and Economics (all guided by Sonlight curriculum suggestions, but adapted by Matt and me to fit his needs/learning style/state requirements). He finishes his day with Spanish (DuoLingo) usually around 2:00. We’re trying to squeeze in some ACT practice right now as well.

Malachi does his English, Science, and Reading (all Sonlight curriculum), then moves on to Spanish (DuoLingo). If he’s diligent, he can be finished with his work by noon.

12:00 Justus heads out to his Intro to Business class at the public school.

1:00 Everyone (and by this, I mean everyone but Asa, of course) is home and we eat lunch together, if possible.

1:45 On Tuesday/Thursday, Justus heads to the York College campus for his World Lit class. Elias and Malachi finish any work they have left. This is the point I can usually get a little bit of uninterrupted blogging work done, maybe, sort of. (Not that it matters, but it is 3:47 right now and I have been interrupted no less than 13 times in the past 30 minutes. Working from home is so relaxing and productive.)

The rest of the day and evening involves soccer games, church activities, or ministry opportunities. Often we don’t eat dinner together until around 8:00 pm during the fall. However, our boys’ homeschool basketball season is about to begin, which will mean that they need to eat and leave by 6:30 on Tues/Thurs evenings.

Our School Year - Homeschool, Public, and College

Through each full day, God always provides for our spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. My dirty kitchen though? Well, I’ll get that clean after all the kids graduate.

Learn Your Letters/Learn Your Numbers Learn to Serve Package Giveaway (For you and a friend!)

This giveaway is extra fun because you can win a package for yourself and one for a friend! Share this with a friend so she can enter too, then you all have double the chances at winning!

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What is Learn Your Letters (and Learn Your Numbers), Learn to Serve? It’s a complete early learning curriculum kit that helps you teach your young kids basic counting and reading skills and at the same time…

Teach them to serve others.

Teach them to think of others. Teach them to be creative in their service to others. Teach them to be comfortable with older people, younger people, sick people – all people with needs.

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Read all about Learn Your Letters/Numbers, Learn to Serve packages here. This downloadable package contains hundreds of pages of ideas and instructions for activities to help your kids learn letter sounds and counting skills. They’ll memorize scripture associated with each letter sound. You’ll read Bible stories together.

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There are printables, book selections, and all kinds of service ideas! There’s so many ideas, you can’t possibly do them all, but that’s part of the fun. You can pick and choose what works for your family and your individual kids and run with it!

See all the details about Learn Your Letters and Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve here.

Want to win a package set for yourself and for a friend? Enter to win the Rafflecopter below. Tell your friend to come enter to. Then you both double your chances of winning!

I’ll draw a random winner on July 14. Watch for an email sharing about the winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ways Our Family Saves Money on Homeschool Curriculum

Here are two things I’ve learned when it comes to buying homeschool curriculum:

  1. Homeschooling should be looked at as an investment.
  2. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive.

In my 14+ years of homeschooling I’ve learned to recognize that just like with healthy eating – it is worth it to invest in the good stuff. Spending money for great curriculum is as worth it as spending money for great food. Ahhh, books and butter. Curriculum and vegetables. It all goes hand in hand, right? Buying high quality is worth the cost.

But there are also many ways to keep your curriculum costs down so that maybe, just maybe, we can enjoy good books and save money too. (Well, of course.)

How to Save Money on Homeschool Curriculum

How to Save Money on Homeschool Curriculum

Here are several ways I’ve saved money through our homeschooling years:

1. Use the Library

This one is too obvious, but still worth a mention. While I have really appreciated owning lots of great literature and having it on our shelves to grab at any time – there are plenty of books we have simply checked out from the library as needed. Cost is free, unless you forget to take the books back on time and have pay late fees. I know nothing about this.

2. Buy Used

Every year, I sit down with a list of books each of our kids will be reading during the school year. If we don’t already own it and I prefer not to have to get it at the library, I check on Amazon and see if I can find a used copy. I have saved so much money doing this.

Occasionally I’ve found needed books at garage sales or I’ve bought curriculum from other homeschool families who are cleaning the closet. (I’ve even been blessed by people handing me their used books for free!) As long as the book isn’t falling apart, buying a used book is just as nice as buying a new book – and you’ll save a few bucks per book too!

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3. Borrow and Share

One of the best ways I’ve found to save on big ticket items (like Teaching Textbooks or Apologia Science books) is to borrow and share with friends. This only works if our kids are in different grade levels and will therefore not be needing the same books or software at the same time. But coordinating with friends (i.e. I’ll buy the 5th grade book and you buy the 6th grade book, then we’ll swap next year) can be a huge money saver.

4. Divide the Dollar Amount by Number of Kids in Your Family

It has helped me “justify” a quality purchase when I do the math – knowing that I will eventually use each item for all four of my kids. Therefore, if I spend $40 on something, I know it really breaks down to just $10 per kid. Make sense?

5. Use and Reuse

With many of our consumable books through the years, I had our oldest kids leave the book blank and write their answers in a 20¢ notebook instead. That way I could save the consumable book to reuse – instead of having to buy it over and over each time another kid needed it. Yay for Malachi. The youngest kid gets to write in his books.

6. Go Digital

I’m learning to love digital books more an more for these reasons:

  • They save bookshelf space
  • I can organize them easily on my computer
  • They save money
  • I can use them over and over as needed for my family

Last year when the Build Your Bundle Homeschool Curriculum Sale was offered, I grabbed several packages to use for my younger two boys. Ah-ma-zing. Throughout this school year I supplemented our regular curriculum with eBooks I had picked up last year for cheap!!

What great ways have you found to save money on books?

If I Love Homeschooling So Much, Why Do I Love Summer Break Better?

I am a homeschool mom and I have some confessions to make.

We just finished our school year, put away all the books and CDs, drop-kicked our science lessons, and had ice cream for breakfast to celebrate. (It’s a yearly tradition the boys don’t let me forget about for some reason.)

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Oh look. Here are the boys at the beginning of this school year – 
so full of hopes and dreams and eager to do Algebra.
In other words, they were bummed that summer break was over.

Last week I made a face at all our reference books as I put them back on the shelf as if to say, “I don’t want to see you for a very long time. I’m sick of you. Gather dust you…you big huge book full of words.” (Do I know how to give out insults or do I know how to give out insults?)

I no longer care if any of the pencils in our house are sharpened. I don’t know where any notebooks are, nor am I concerned with how many blank pages remain in them. No one has to give me a report at lunchtime on how much school work they still need to finish up for the day. Instead of saying, “Whose turn is it to do math at the computer?” I will say, “You guys want me to pull the van out of the driveway so you can shoot hoops?”

These are some of the emotions I feel about our impending summer break:

end of school year 1 (1) end of school year 1 (2) end of school year 1 (3)

But really. I love homeschooling.

It certainly isn’t for everyone, but as for me, I love pretty much everything about homeschooling. It is the rocking-est thing that I get to spend this much time with my kids. We seriously get to do some of the coolest activities, go to the most amazing places, and get to know some of the most incredible people. I love the homeschooling life!!! I even love the actual learning part. 

But when we can put the books away and just be? Oh it is so nice and wonderful.

Also? I love summer better than all the seasons. You all know this about me. I love heat and sunshine and I am so over cold, cloudy winter weather. I’m ready to enjoy being outside, soak up Vitamin D, swim, grill, garden, oh and you know what else?

I’m excited to take my kids to the library.

See, this is where I start to sound silly. (Because the selfies. Those weren’t silly.)

I like going to the library more in the summertime than I do during the school year. When we go during the school year, we usually go with a purpose and we need to hurry back home to study and learn. But when we go to the library during the summer we browse the shelves, linger over “just for fun” books, take our time, and check out all the books that look remotely interesting. There’s just something about the library in the summertime.

So there you have it. This mom loves to homeschool. But I also love summer break so much that I am busting out in dance moves (selfies not included).

Whether you are a homeschool mom or a public/private school mom – what are some of your emotions about summer break? Leave a comment to describe, and by all means do feel free to send me an emotion selfie. (I’m serious. laura @ heavenlyhomemakers.com)

One For You ~ One For a Friend: Learn Your Letters and Numbers, Learn to Serve Curriculum Giveaway

As Christmas approaches, I thought it would be fun to give away some of our most popular shop items. Then I decided it would be even more fun if you had a chance to win one for you and one for a friend! We’ll start this Christmas giveaway fun with Learn Your Letters (and Numbers), Learn to Serve Complete Curriculum Kits!

Learn Your Letters and Your Numbers Package Deal

Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve is an 183 page downloadable kit that includes thorough lesson plans, games, crafts, recipes, memory verses, Bible story suggestions, vocabulary stimulation and discussion, play, books to read and so much more…all while encouraging service to God! We recommend this for ages 2-7.

To go along with it, we recently created Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve. It contains 148 pages filled with activities, patterns, printables, instructions, crafts, and games – all with the purpose of teaching your child numbers, counting, Bible stories and teachings, and a heart of service.

Learn more specifics about these curriculum kits here. Academics is important, but teaching our kids to serve is most important of all. These books equip you to teach both!

If you’d like to win a copy of both of these books for yourself and for a friend, leave a comment on this post. Be sure to tell your friends about it so they can come enter too. It gives you more chances to win, assuming your friend will share one with you if she wins!

I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, December 30. Be watching for a post sharing the winners of these Christmas giveaways. You’ll be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen!

Now think of a friend you’d love to bless. Leave a comment here for a chance to win copies of these books for both of you!

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character badges

Psst! The winner of our Character Badges Giveaway is: Jennifer: themightywriter@. Jennifer, email me and I’ll forward your info on for your prize!

Remember that Character Badges is also offering us all a 10% discount on any order! Use the code HH10 to receive the discount. This offer is good through December 31, 2015.

The “I’m Not Here So You Might As Well Steal Everything From My Shop” Sale

No really. I’m not here. I’m at church camp and I’m mostly offline because the internet doesn’t like church camp as much as the rest of us do.

So while I’m gone, I figure you might as well go raid my shop. No really, go ahead. No one is watching. You won’t even have to sneak. I’m giving you permission.

Heavenly Homemakers Books and eCourses

I’ll even give you a coupon code – let’s call it LAURAISGONE – so that you can go fill your cart with anything you want (except for our printed items) at a 35% discount. Yep, 35% off!!!

To be clear: I’m nice, but if you buy any of our printed items with the coupon code I will reappear as soon as I’m able to refund your purchase and say, “Sorry, I’m not that nice and I can’t eat all of our printing and shipping costs.” So again: DO NOT use the code on our printed books. (Somebody sure is bossy. Good thing she’s gone.) <—Hey, I heard that.

The good news is, when you sneak into my shop you will find over 30 other e-products in our shop for immediate download. That’s a lot to pick from along with a very healthy discount.

So go to the Heavenly Homemakers Shop now. Spend as long as you want looking though all of the eBooks, Curriculum, eCourses, and more. Put everything you want (except the printed items – I can’t remember if I said that already) into your cart, then use the code LAURAISGONE to knock off 35% of your total.

You can use this code through Wednesday, July 22.

Okeedokee? Don’t have too much fun without me while I’m gone. But do enjoy the discount – on everything but the printed items. (I just can’t let it go.)

Heavenly Homemakers Shop is Here
Use the code LAURAISGONE for a 35% discount

How You Can Get Our Curriculum Kit Plus Four Other Resources For LESS Than the Cost of the Curriculum

I loved watching this order come through on Monday, knowing the recipient was getting a huge bang for her buck.

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See, normally our Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve complete curriculum kit download is $45.00. You get a lot in this kit, no doubt. But this week? Since we’re running a 40% off sale on everything downloadable on our site, you can get the curriculum kit plus several other resources – for LESS than the original cost of the curriculum.

If you’ve been eyeing any of our downloadable items, from ebook to eCourse to curriculum – you must take advantage of this great deal this week. Use the code BIRTHDAY at checkout to receive 40% off your entire order of downloads. Note:  All printed items are excluded from this sale. Watch for fun bonus buys with printed books soon!


Many are taking advantage of this huge discount. Have you? Come and get it!!

Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve $15 off Sale!

If you’ve been eying our Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve early learner curriculum – now’s your time to grab it. We’d love for you to have this resource to begin working through with your kids this summer and/or next school year. So we knocked $15 off the price to help make it possible for you!

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This 183 page downloadable or hard copy kit includes thorough lesson plans, games, crafts, recipes, memory verses, Bible story suggestions, vocabulary stimulation and discussion, play, books to read and so much more…all while encouraging service to God!

Each letter you study includes suggestions for service, such as “Take a new Bible to B__________” on Bb week, “Make soup for someone who is sick on Ss week, and “Deliver flowers to F_______________” on Ff week. Your child will make gifts or food, offer help and learn to think of others. As a family you can delight in praying together about who you would like to serve and what form of service you would like to offer!

This curriculum kit can be used as a supplement to what you are currently doing to teach your child preschool basics…or it can be used all on its own as a complete early learners curriculum tool.  It is absolutely not just for home schoolers.  Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve is for any family who would enjoy learning and serving together with little ones.  In addition, Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve Curriculum Kit may be purchased for use in a Sunday School Classroom or Preschool Classroom.

To get a feel for what this kit is like, help yourself to free Curriculum Sample Pages, including the lesson for LetterBb.

Get more details about this great resource here.

The following coupon codes are valid through Wednesday, May 14. Hurry to grab this, and you’ll be well on your way to a great summer of learning and serving with your kids!

Downloadable Version
$45.00
$30.00
Use the coupon code SUMMER15
Add to Cart

Printed Version
$68.00
$53.00
Use the coupon code SUMMERPRINT15
(price includes entire 183 page color printed kit and shipping costs) U.S. only.
Contact me if you’re interested in having a book shipped outside the U.S.!
Add to Cart

 Visit Heavenly Homemaker’s Shop to find more great downloadable products to help you in your homemaking and parenting efforts.

**Memory verses are in NIV, but are available in KJV by request!

Dear Curriculum, You Don’t Own Me

For those of you who don’t homeschool, I realize that parts of this post won’t apply to you. Perhaps there’s something else in your life you need to smack down. If so, feel free to insert a different word where I’ve typed “curriculum.”  Bathroom scales, perhaps? Daily planner, maybe? You fill in the blank.  :)

Dear Curriculum,

It’s that time again. I’ve gone over and over your catalog. I’ve purchased many of the books you recommend. I’ve read through loads of your teacher’s manuals.

You are, without a doubt, wonderful, and I am so thankful for you. What would I do without you to guide me along as I teach my four children? Truly, you have been a God send.

What I need you to know, as I plan our upcoming school year, working to provide the best education possible for my children, is that as wonderful as you are, you aren’t perfect. Don’t sweat it. There’s no way you could keep up with knowing what will work best for each family.

Just so you know, what you ask me to do on week three doesn’t at all match what is on our calendar. (Perhaps you’ve heard that soccer season and fall school schedules don’t always get along?)  It’s okay though. I’ve decided to slide some of your assignments around so that we can fit them in later, if possible. It’s really cool how you have never sent the Curriculum Schedule Police to my door to spank my hand for shuffling around assignments. You are constantly gracious.

I’m not sure who you think we are, and it could be that all the other families actually have 8th graders who are ready to study for their doctorate. But I felt you should know that while I appreciate all of your suggested literature, if we want our kids to have time to get themselves up out of a chair for any part of their 15 hour awake time each day, we won’t get around to reading every single one of your books or do even half of your writing assignments.

Some of what you assign my kids to do each week, we will only do once per month. That really is plenty for them at this stage. Occasionally, I will substitute one of your recommended books with another one that meets my boys’ needs. And when I look at you each weekend while planning for an upcoming school week, if at any time I feel like throwing you across the room, I’ll refrain, but I reserve the right to stuff your schedules, guidelines, suggestions, and outlines into a bottom drawer far away and pull you out when and if I feel like looking at you again. No worries. Learning will still be going on at our house. It just may not involve keeping up with your recommendations during those particularly hectic days.

Here’s something neat:  After eleven years of homeschooling, I don’t look at your outlines and teachers guides and feel less than, guilty, or overwhelmed anymore. My kids are learning loads of information and becoming very well rounded because of and in spite of me (and you). So thank you again for your help, because I truly could not do this without you. I’ll continue to use you as a guide, because you are so very good at that.

But you don’t own me. I own you. Perhaps you remember the exciting day you arrived in a box on my doorstep?

See you in a few weeks. It’s going to be another great school year with our family!

Unregretfully Yours,
Laura (an ordinary homeschool mom)

P.S. Have you ever wished Shakespeare had spoken a bit more understandably? Maybe I’ll write a letter to him next. In toddler speak. That’ll teach him.

17 phone calls

As of this month, I am now 38 years old and have been married to my beloved for 17 years. Speaking of my beloved (because it’s more fun to avoid talking about how old I am and to instead focus on my anniversary) – do you want to know what Matt did for me on our special day?

He was out of town all weekend at a soccer retreat with the college team he helps coach, making it impossible for us to be together on our anniversary. (Don’t worry, the story gets better.)  We’d decided to celebrate later and I happily supported his decision to go be with the team. His cell phone broke while he was gone (no really, the story gets better), so he was unable to call without borrowing a phone and going to a little extra trouble. He called in the morning to wish me a happy anniversary, and then later in the evening when he had a moment. And that’s when the fun started.

No sooner had he and I hung up from our conversation that the phone rang again. It was one of the soccer girls, Isabelle, calling to wish me a Happy 17th Anniversary. I hung up with Isabelle and the phone rang again. It was Katie, another soccer player, calling to wish me a Happy Anniversary. Then Jen called. Then Jordan. Then Anna, then Macy, then Hannah, then Morgan. And so it went for 17 phone calls.

Yes, my husband had arranged for 17 soccer gals to call and wish me a Happy 17th Anniversary. It was the sweetest thing ever. The girls kept saying things like, “Coach Copp has been talking about you all day.” and “Thanks for sharing your husband with us this weekend.”  It totally made my night (and totally kept me from washing dishes because who can wash dishes when the phone rings 17 times in a row?).

And that is why I made him a peach cobbler when he got home with 17 peaches from our peach tree. (Okay, just kidding, I don’t really know how many peaches I used, but 17 peaches sounded more romantic.)