Not Back to School at the Zoo


We had friends visiting from Canada so Marissa took a day off from her classes and we spent the day at Utah’s Hogle Zoo.

Here are some of the highlights-

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We love these whimsical giraffe.                    Listening to a guide talk about ferrets.

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Watching the real life giraffes.

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This giant elephant made lots of noise and his trunk was a favorite perch. But, the live ones are fun to look at, too.


I thought the elephant enclosure was nice.  

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You’re never too old to pose in an eagle’s nest!

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Or play in a hollow log!

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We could watch these guys swim all day.

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                                                                                                                 The gang!

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How does he sit there for so long with his mouth wide open?    I bet he wishes he could snack on this bright fellow!

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This big guy didn’t look too happy.                  “Now, where to next?” Marcus was the map guide. 


Happy Hearts Fall 2014


Here is how our fall year is shaping up-

For Marissa Girl, who is in her Junior year of high school, she will take her usual online courses (Algebra, English, History and Science) through the awesome Liahona Academy, plus she has dual-enrolled at the local high school, just for the first trimester which ends November 18th. This will give her 2 additional credits towards her high school diploma. She started these classes last Thursday.

She is taking a watercolor art class and a veterinary assistant course. She is also taking her third year of Seminary, which is an LDS (Latter-day Saints; short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) scripture study course for youth in 9th-12th grades.

I have to explain why we occasionally dual-enroll when we dislike public school so much. Well, Marissa would be going to the school’s campus for Seminary anyway, and we’ve worked with this particular high school before with my oldest daughter, Darcie. It was a positive experience and gave her some extra credits easily enough. It’s only temporary, for one-third of the school year, and she will not be taking any state tests since her diploma will be through her private school.

Here is some of the content Marissa will be studying, plus some of the curriculum she’ll be using this year in Liahona-

History- 1860 to present day, including the Civil War, 2 World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Great Depression, 9/11 and LDS Church history.

Science- Human and animal Biology

English- Rhetoric, persuasive writing, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Aesop’s Fables, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, The Book of Mormon, The Federalists Papers, The Gettysburg Address, The Republic by Plato, The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster

Math- Saxon Algebra One Student Edition

This will be Marcus’ 2nd year with Liahona Junior’s 5th & 6th combined class. Last year rocked! We love his teacher, Sister Rowley. Through her class, he will have English, History and Science. I’ll continue to teach him math and I have 2 fun units planned (Around the World in 80 Days & Greek Mythology). I also need to look into a typing program for him.

Here is some of the content Marcus will be studying, plus some of the curriculum we’ll be using this year in both Liahona Junior and Happy Hearts-

History/Geography- Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History, Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (this will be a unit I’m creating)

Science- Physics (force & motion, electricity, atoms, magnetism) We are using this book- Christian Kids Explore Physics


English- Spelling Smart by Cynthia M. Stowe, National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology (part of a unit I’m creating), Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordin

Math- Learn Math Fast System Volume 2 (fractions, percentages, greatest common factor, cross canceling, decimals)

Other- Typing, piano and Spanish lessons, Boy Scouts

Reading together- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Marry Poppins by P.L. Travers, The Fourth Nephite by Jeffrey S. Savage, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kimpling’s Just So Stories

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Reading on his own- Because of  Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck, Hazzardous Universe by Julie Wright & Kevin Wasden, How to Train Your Dragon Book 8 How to Break a Dragon’s Heart

Studying the States


Here are some ideas for studying the United States in your homeschool:

DSCN1282We created this state quarter book using these printable worksheets from

It took my son approximately three months to complete his state quarter book. The states are listed in the order they joined the U.S. beginning with Delaware and ending with Hawaii.

Each worksheet pictures a state quarter and prompts the child to list some specific facts about each state.

This state unit is especially fun if your child has a state quarter collection.

Last year, Marcus created a smore flyer. I wish I had it here to display for you. A smore flyer is an interactive, online flyer. Marcus created one all about the state of Maine, listing facts and adding pictures of lighthouses, etc. It was very cool when it was finished. This is a unique way to do a state report.

A search on You Tube will produce several different videos of songs to help children learn the 50 states. There are also videos for some of the individual state songs. I’ll let you do your own search if you don’t mind!

Give your child a blank map of the U.S. so they can write in each state.

Read Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown, together and then give your child a paper Flat Stanley to color and cut out. Mail Flat Stanley to someone you know in another state. Have that person take a picture with Flat Stanley and mail the picture with Flat Stanley back to your child. My daughter did this in her Kindergarten class. She mailed her Flat Stanley to her uncle, in Wisconsin, and he and his wife, who is a school teacher, created this adorable book for my daughter:

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Have your child locate the state Flat Stanley visited on a map.

You can find the official Flat Stanley project HERE. You can find templates for Flat Stanley, and make sure to check out the photo gallery.

And, this link will take you to a Flat Stanley website that looks fun. You have to create an account which is free.

I’d love to hear other ideas for helping children learn about the states.

Been a Little Busy


I didn’t mean to go so long between posts, but life has been a wee bit busy here. The kids and I are home in Utah right now. Hubby is still working his project in Lima, Peru. I miss him a lot, but sometimes with his job, living apart like this can’t be helped. I’m looking forward to seeing him in September for two weeks.

We’ve owned our house here for two years, but have spent half of that time living in Peru, so we have a jungle growing in our flower beds. We have been spending a lot of time weeding. We’ve also been de-cluttering the house and garage. We’re in preparation mode right now as my son is returning home on Sept. 11th from a two-year mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has been serving faithfully in Calgary, Alberta. We are so excited to see him again, and we are having an open-house for friends and family after his “homecoming” talk which he will give in our Sacrament meeting (one of our Sunday church meetings) on Sept. 14th.


So, that’s what’s been keeping me busy. My daughter, Marissa, just started some classes at the local high school. She’s only taking these classes for the first trimester here, which goes ’til mid-November. I’ll write more about that when I post our fall homeschool schedule. She also will be learning how to drive which gives me a tiny bit of anxiety. I just can’t picture my baby girl driving!

I’m working on some homeschool posts and currently I have three drafts waiting to be finalized. There’s just been so much keeping my attention elsewhere. Plus, I have been planning Marcus’ homeschool year. Even though he’s now a distance student through Liahona Academy, which I LOVE, I’m still teaching him math and I’m planning two fun units, plus gathering up some classics I want to read with him this year. More on that to come.

Why We Homeschool


We started homeschooling when we reached a breaking point with the public school system. It wasn’t the teachers. It was the system. We can no longer trust our children to the system. Oh the stories I could tell you from our personal experiences, but I won’t go into all that here. I just want to say that for the most part we had some lovely teachers and if only they had more say in what they teach and how they teach, but they don’t. They are at the mercy of the system.

However, here is a list of things my kids definitely do not miss about public school-

rushed mornings

waiting outside (in any weather) before school begins

forced quiet during lunch

eating lunch alone at a desk

forced recess outside

hall passes to use the bathroom or get a drink of water

forced times to use the bathroom

bells and 5 minutes of rushing to get to the next class

spending the entire middle-school year with the same group of peers in every single class

hours and days of mandated state testing

dealing with a bully on a daily basis

exposure to drugs in the locker room

forced subjects to research and report

hours wasted on homework

deciding what to wear every day

popularity or lack of popularity

make up days

the rigidity of the school schedule and calendar

favoring the minority over the majority

Once we started homeschooling, we realized there are many benefits and virtues to keeping our children home. For me it comes down to 3 things-

1. Treasured time with my children that I wouldn’t have if I sent them to school for 6-8 hours, 5 days a week, 180 days a year. That adds up to at least 1,080 hours per year of time I’ll never get back with my children (and that’s not including homework hours).

2. For us, homeschooling puts God back where He belongs- in every aspect of our lives. We can pray to Him and include Him in every part of our daily life. What a difference that makes.

3. Homeschooling protects my children both physically and spiritually. At home they are free to be themselves and our values are embraced. At home they are nurtured, valued and protected.

family home