First things first…

Before I delve into one thousand and one posts about what and how we use our home school curriculum, I’d like to talk a little about how I keep all those balls I juggle up in the air.


Let’s face it, teaching multiple grade levels at once is TOUGH! So to stay on top of things, I’ve come up with a few little tricks to make the school day run more smoothly.

First, assignment sheets!  Every evening I fill out an assignment sheet for the next day.  This details all of the work each child is supposed to do that day.  The kids have to finish every thing I list on the sheet before they can call the school day done.  If there are incomplete subjects done, they have to finish it on their own time.  All work is due Friday by the end of the school day.  Honestly though, the kids never have problems finishing the assigned work.  And this is for 3rd grade and up.  2nd grade down kiddos do most of their work with me. 🙂


Second, I must be prepared!  Once a month or so, I have a copy or print out fiesta.  I copy math forms (used in Saxon), religion quizzes, and print out anything needed for crafts etc.  I made the mistake of not doing this last school year (new move, little baby to take care of, excuse, excuse, excuse!) and I found myself constantly running back and forth from the school room to the office to make copies often.  Those little minutes add up!  Not to mention if I’m out of the class room for more than 5 minutes, the giggles start and the school work stops.  Not that I mind the cute giggles!

Third, and most important, prayer!!!!  I try to start each school day with prayer time.  I’ll admit I forget more than I like (which means a lot during our busy morning routine), and those days are always hardest.  Prayer in the morning calms and centers us so well!  I also set a reminder to go off every day at noon for the Angelus.  And I found a wonderful scriptural Rosary book we’ve been using.  My goal is to say at least one decade a day.


I hope to eventually add “circle time” in the mornings where we read a bit of scripture, pray and practice reciting some of the kids poetry memorization.  But in order to do this, I have to actually wake up before the kids do.

Yes, I realize the pictures in this post are random.  C’est la vie.

It only took 6 years

We’re on our 6th year of homeschooling.  This seems so strange to me.  I never intended to homeschool, and up until this point, I considered us a “new” homeschool family.  I never really let it settle in my mind that this is a permanent situation.

Until this year.  And this year has been such an amazing school year so far, that I find myself eagerly looking forward to homeschooling years beyond this one.


This year I’ve embraced my homeschool vocation and have really allowed education to thoroughly weave its way through our day to day life.  And because of my attitude change, my children are much happier and eager to learn.  IMG_0353

I know that my attitude isn’t the sole reason why our school year is going so well. 🙂  Aside from my kids trying their best and just being awesome kids, I’ve finally found the mix of curriculums and resources that work extremely well for our family.  So over the next few weeks, I’ll give little reviews about different programs and insights to how we use them.

I’m not an expert on homeschooling, but I’m getting to be an expert on my kids!  Perhaps someone out there can benefit reading how to homeschool a kid with ADHD or how to manage teaching 4 grade levels while taking care of a toddler and a baby while juggling (kidding!) or how to encourage little ones to keep a nature journal.  These are things I’m learning along the way, so maybe, just maybe I can help someone out there!

So stay tuned for an overload of homeschooling posts!

Cabin in the Woods part 2


Picking up where we left off…Liam drawing on a snowy day.


Matilda stole the camera for a quick selfie.


The kids found these really fantastic building blocks that were made from stone. A quick google told me they were made from sand quartz, chalk, and linseed oil.


Tilly bird watching.  Two little magpies greeted us every morning.  The kids loved watching the magpies play and fly around.



Zelda was saved by Link, Luigi, and Michelangelo.


Liam is special.


The snow in the forest was breathtaking.


Can you spot the chipmunk?


I’m really impressed with how well the littlest guys kept up with all the hiking.  I was holding Stella, so she made me do all the work.


I took so many pictures of Moraine park, but I couldn’t capture it well.  This area was so beautiful!  The fog lifted after a while and herds of elk grazed along the park.  All so wonderful.


Just a few more pictures to come…

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Around January, the husband and I were discussing vacations.  We’ve been on one together before we had kids.  We didn’t even go on a honeymoon!  So we decided to change that this year.  On our two week vacation our first stop was Capulin Volcano National Monument.


Capulin is an extinct volcano that is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic field, and the kids were amazed that we got to hike into the crater.  However we first had to drive two miles up the volcano with a sheer drop off on one side of the road.  I would have taken pictures of the drive, but I couldn’t look out the window!



Once at the top, we hiked to the very bottom of the crater.  I really, really wanted to hike around the rim as well, but it was really windy and the littlest ones had a hard time walking.  It’s hard to tell how far down we were from these pictures, but it was far and the kids loved it.


After the hike, the kids didn’t want me taking any more pictures of them.  The only reason they’re all looking at the camera in this one is because I yelled, “Look! A mule deer!”


On a clear day, the views from the top are amazing.

More to come about our next destination…

No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks…


The school year is DONE! This was our family’s 5th year homeschooling, and I have to say it was, by far, hardest.  The end of last year was tough because I was very pregnant and we were trying to sell our house.  Because of moving and having a baby, I didn’t prepare as much during the summer as I should have for this school year.  I also, for some insane reason, decided to change curricula.  Let’s just say that next school year, we are running back to Kolbe Academy.

Here are are a few things I learned from this school year:

1. Make a schedule and stick to it.  The day doesn’t have to be scheduled down to 15 minute increments, but having math, lunch, etc at the same time every day really keeps the kids in a better mood.

2. The more positive I am, the more positive the kids are.  It’s hard, really hard sometimes to stay chipper all day.  This year Liam was in 4th, Jack was in 3rd, Matilda was in 1st/2nd, and Matthew was learning how to read.  On top of that I was caring for a toddler and a newborn.  There is always a lot going on here!!   But I found that the days where I found humor in everything and joked around with the kids all day were some of the most productive days we’ve had.  Don’t get me wrong, the kids complained a lot about doing school, but what kid doesn’t!  But I’m the one setting the attitude example, not the kids.

3. A messy house is ok.  Really, it is.  At the top of my list of things that stress me out is clutter.  But realistically, there will be clutter in my house.  We homeschool 6 kids, and that equals mess.  I can’t change that.  But what I can change is how I feel about it.  I read a great quote by Simcha Fisher that hit me in the heart. “Given the choice,  I will  almost always choose cleaning up a mess over keeping things under reasonable control.”  Yep.

I’ll be back with summer reading lists and activities and curriculum reviews!  Yay for summer!!

Slacker post!

We’ve been so busy with school/birthdays/moving/baby growing that I forgot about this poor ol’ blog.  So for the few readers (who are mostly my family) here are a few pictures for you…Image





So we have pictures of Matthew turning 4, Max turning 2 and Matilda turning 6.  Whew! 

Thankfully, we’re wrapping up school for this year, but then we’re moving (just to a neighborhood closer to the city for those family members thinking it’s some cross country move. :))!!!  And the same weekend we’re moving, Jack is having his First Communion!!  So it’ll be busy here for the next 3 weeks.  I’ll try to remember to keep my camera out.  Meanwhile, I’m @elainemariej on Instagram, which is where I post most of our daily pictures, so follow me there!


It’s been a while!  We’ve had our heads so buried in school that I just looked up and realized I left this little blog all alone.  I’ll try to remedy that over the next few weeks because I love Advent and want to spread the love!!!  The candles, the Jesse Tree, the anticipation, the readying of our hearts…I love it all.  Stay tuned…

My thoughts on the conclave

Yes, I know I’m just a lay person, but our house has been abuzz with talk about the upcoming conclave.  This is the 3rd papal election of my life.  I was 6 months old when Blessed John Paul II was elected.  He remained pope until I was 27 years old.  There will always be a special place in my heart for John Paul the Great.  It was with a bittersweet heart that I said good-bye to him.

Then came Benedict XVI.  I, like everyone else, was stunned when he announced he was stepping down.  I will certainly miss seeing his loving face.  Perhaps this will finally get me to tackle his Jesus of Nazareth series.

My thoughts about the conclave (I’m writing this on Sunday and publishing on Tuesday.  So let’s see if I’m even close!)…I know that the Holy Spirit will lead the cardinals to choose the best for the job, but it’s still really fun to try to guess who it will be!  So here are my top picks (please excuse the wikipedia links, but it’s late and I’m tired and wiki is easy): Cardinal Arinze.  Yes, I know it’s unlikely since he’s 80, but I can hope!,

Cardinal Dolan.  I may be a bit biased because he’s American, but I think he’s a great leader and communicator.

Cardinal Ouellet  Yes, another North American.  Canadian even!

The husbands pick: Cardinal Burke

Some other fun conclave things:

Pope Alarm  I don’t really watch tv nor do I have time to be on the internet all day.  So Pope Alarm will come in handy! Plus I laughed really hard at “When the smoke goes up, you’ll know what’s going down!”

Adopt a Cardinal.  When you sign up, you get assigned a random Cardinal to pray for before, during and after the conclave.  I was assigned Francesco Coccopalmerio.

And here’s a very informative post by Jimmy Akin about voting in the conclave.

Finally, a couple of videos that still bring me chills: