Happy Hearts in Planning Mode


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It has been a busy summer here at our house, but it’s time I nail down our plans for this upcoming Happy Hearts homeschool year. I feel like we’ve come full circle. We started out homeschooling with just the two of us (my youngest son and I), and here we are, seven years later, back to just the two of us, now that both of my daughters are homeschool graduates.

So here goes… this will be Marcus’ eighth-grade year. I have already registered him as a distance student through the amazing Liahona Academy. His online classes will cover earth science, American government and civics, and a combined Geometry/Algebra 2 class. The best part about these classes is that they are filmed live, but the recordings are available anytime, and they are only Monday-Thursday. So, there’s a lot of flexibility for homeschoolers. Also, these classes are gospel based, which I love. This will be Marcus’ fourth year with Liahona.

That was the easy part! Now for the rest…

English/Language Arts- I want to cover more poetry this year. I purchased three poetry books to give us variety:

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The first is called, Pocket Book of Poetry and it contains select poems by several poets, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lewis Carroll and Robert Frost. The second book is called, The Bridge Across the River by Shepherd Thorleif Halvorsen, and the third book is from Simply Charlotte Mason’s Enjoy the Poems collection (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

We have yet to try any Shakespeare, so with my daughter’s help, I chose, Much Ado About Nothing and I found some free online resources to accompany it, which I’ve downloaded into a folder.

We will also cover grammar and essay writing.

For our read-alouds, so far I have, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, and the third book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and the second, Nightmares! (The Sleepwalker Tonic), by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. And then, we’ll go from there, but I want to include a novel by Jules Verne (Last year we read, Around the World in 80 Days).


Geography/History- I love geography so we have already learned the states and capitals twice, and having lived in Peru, we experienced another culture, but I want to go deeper this year and do a state history unit in order of the statehood dates, as well as a seven continent (with select countries from each continent) unit. This is where I’m still planning, but I have ideas swirling around my head (and jotted down), plus, I’ve purchased a couple of goodies to get us started. The first is this set of 50 state postcards. The second is this decorative USA map which I’m going to frame.


Art and Music- We will continue with our set of Maestro Classics, which we started using last year. Since the only art my son currently enjoys is chalk pastel art, I purchased a couple of e-books from chalkpastel.com. One is American Landmarks so that will go nicely with our state history unit.

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I’m sure I’ll be adding a few more resources/curriculum as we go, but for the most part we keep things simple and leave time for new pursuits. As for our schedule, I can’t plan that in detail until I know his online class times. I only know the starting day is Aug. 30th. I’m also checking out different homeschool planners to see if one appeals to me.


Summer Family Fun



Last week with my nieces was so. much. fun! We went rollerblading, enjoyed a picnic, and visited a petting zoo.


We also made some crafts and I have to show off my favorite one. My niece who loves the movie, Up, made this.


We ended the week by watching the Days of 47 rodeo. My husband, oldest son and my brother all joined us.


On Sunday, my family drove up Mill Creek Canyon where I took pics with my iPhone 6 while my son took pics with my nice camera. I’m sure his photos turned out better, but I’m so happy he’s enjoying my camera this summer. 🙂




There’s something soothing about taking nature photos, even with an iPhone.



This morning, we watched the Days of 47 parade in downtown Salt Lake City. (The Days of 47 celebrates Utah’s Pioneer Day holiday.) There were a lot of high school bands, floats, horses and police motorcycles. This is our second year attending this parade.

Weekly Nutshell (4th of July & a Concert)


Yes, I embellished this picture, but you get the idea.

Last weekend, Zach came home, which is always a treat, and then friends came up from Salt Lake and had a BBQ with us on Sunday. On Monday, we watched fireworks in the distance from our back deck and lit sparklers. (I sent Zach home Sunday night with my Sony DSLR so these are all iPhone pics.)


On Tuesday morning, Marissa left for her last girls camp. On Wednesday, our dog, Zoey, went to the groomers and came home with a shiny coat (and all the undergrowth gone).


On Friday, Marissa returned, full of camp stories. 🙂


On Friday evening, Marcus and I visited our friend’s barn just up the street…


Where we got to bottle feed their calves. That was fun!



And on Saturday night, a group of us (that’s my cousin taking the group-selfie) went to a nearby resort for a Kelly Pickler concert.


Aren’t they beautiful sisters?


So that was our week in a nutshell. How was your week?

Lessons From Our Homeschool Journey


We didn’t discover homeschooling until our last child entered public school. You can read our homeschool story here. Until then, my husband and I blindly followed society and sent our children to local public schools where we experienced some good, but definitely the bad and the ugly that the system offers. More about that here. I started out homeschooling only my youngest, but eventually both daughters joined us (by then, my oldest had graduated from public high school). Now the girls are homeschool graduates and we’re back to a mom and son duo.

For the first four years, we blissfully unschooled (I highly recommend the unschooling approach for the early years). Now we are happy eclectic homeschoolers: Some of our subjects are covered through online classes. We use very little formal curriculum. We love reading great literature together, we enjoy unit studies, we self-teach, and we follow our passions.

With that in mind, here are some of the lessons we have gleaned in seven + years of homeschooling (in no particular order):

♥ We have learned that there will always be naysayers among our circle of family and friends, but we’re not homeschooling to please them. We’re homeschooling because that is what is best for our family and our opinions are the only ones that matter.


♥ We have learned that we may sometimes feel alone on this journey, but the reality is that there are many other homeschoolers out there. There are other like-minded parents and kids who treasure homeschooling as much as we do.

♥ We have learned that education is not separate from life. They are one and the same. In other words, just living life is an education. (We have also been privileged to have lived in another culture and what an education that was!)

♥ We have learned that there are multiple ways to acquire knowledge. There is no single right way to learn something and the best way to learn looks different for every child and can even change from subject to subject.


♥ We have learned that we will never go back to the public school system. For us, this is simply not an option. We value our freedom and time together and we can see how the system keeps getting worse.

♥ I have learned it’s unwise to compare our homeschool to any other homeschool. Each homeschool is unique because each family is unique.

♥ My kids have learned they should not compare their education to that of their friends, especially their public-schooled friends. We believe every child’s education should be one-of-a-kind because every child is one-of-a-kind. (Of course, schools don’t believe this.)

♥ We have learned that we prefer being outdoors surrounded by nature. We love our beautiful earth and appreciate it more when we go outside and immerse ourselves in it. There is much to discover and learn from nature.


♥ And finally we have learned to embrace childhood and family time, to not get caught up in what the world thinks, but to live by our values and go with our family flow.

What homeschool or life lessons have you learned?