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Christmas Knitting

Christmas always puts me in the mood to knit. It's ridiculous because there's no way I could actually start and finish a project in so short a time, but December has me browsing patterns and daydreaming anyway. After yet another year of regretting not starting sooner, I've decided to just start knitting and getting a jumpstart on next Christmas.

I stocked up on some fun yarns during Craftsy's big yarn sale earlier in December and downloaded some fun patterns. Craftsy is having a huge sale on their classes and they have a fun sweater class I'm looking forward to trying The Seamless Artemisia Sweater class. It's just under $10 this week and will teach me to knit a sweater completely in the round with lots of neat detail and information that I can apply to future projects.

The week before Christmas is probably a weird time to be thinking about New Year's goals, but I'd like to aim for a project per month. This week is a good time to plan for it, thanks to pre-Christmas sales. I know sitting and knitting might sound silly for a busy homeschool mom already struggling to find time to get it all done, but it is a nice creative outlet and perfect for the nervous energy that makes it hard to sit still for family movie night or long rides in the car.

What are your projects? Did you manage any fun gifts this year? Can you recommend a pattern for me to tackle this next year?

A week of Christmas School in our house

We've wrapped up the first week of Christmas School. I've enjoyed digging a little deeper with the girls this year, while still enjoying our familiar Christmas lessons. We start each morning with our Advent prophecy verses and our Jesse Tree memory work. The boys showed me how to use our Chromecast, so I can show them our lessons and YouTube videos on the t.v. They split off for math and Bible study and then we gather together again for geography and crafty things.

This school year, I've tried to implement a lot more geography into our weeks and Christmas School has provided a great chance to work on it even more.

There are so many options for Christmas School that we never manage to hit everything. The one thing that is always constant is our Jesse Tree. 

This year, we somehow misplaced all of our Jesse Tree ornaments! Joel, the 15 year old, is working to create new ornaments out of clay. We've never done 3D ornaments before and they're a fun change.

We've studied Norway, England, Russia, Germany, and Latvia this week. There was coloring...

Symmetry lesson hijacked by an artistic 12 year old. And glitter.
 There was baking...

Pfefferneuse cookies from our Norway  lesson
 There was cutting and pasting...

Christmas cards from our England lesson.
 The Christmas cards are always a favorite. The rules are: Nothing but paper, scissors, and glue. The 15 year old cheated this year by writing the words "Police Box" on his, but it was too adorable to argue.

The Doctor
We're looking forward to next week's lessons

Christmas list printable freebie

My bunch are all making Christmas cards with scraps of paper, glue, and glitter. While they destroy the dining room, I wanted to hop on quickly and share a little printable I whipped up to help with organizing. It's not anything terribly special, but I hope you enjoy it, all the same: 

First night of Advent

Years ago, when our oldest was just a baby, we ran across a pamphlet from Focus on the Family, talking about Advent. We decided it was how we wanted to celebrate Christmas with our growing family and it has been our tradition ever since.

We start our Christmas celebrations the day after Thanksgiving, pulling out all of the ornaments and spending the day eating leftovers and decorating.

This year, we decorated the tree 3 times. THREE. It was so beautifully decorated....and then it fell over. We redecorated, re-centered, and tightened the base...and then it fell over again. We propped it up against the wall for the night. The third time, we tied it to the window. It's not going anywhere!

The celebrations begin in earnest on Sunday, the first day of Advent. We gather together and read, this year from Ishtar's Odyssey. The reading gets tricky during the chaos of Christmas, but we try to make it a priority. Sometimes we have to double up on chapters to keep up. 

At the end of the evening, we light the Advent candles. Daddy reads some verses and prays. And they all take turns fighting discussing whose turn it is to  light and blow out candles. 

If Advent is new to you, I encourage you to give it a try. You'll thank me. I promise! As my daughter said tonight, "I feel sad for the people that don't know about Advent. They're missing out on the fun!" It isn't complicated at all, just pausing to light a candle, read scripture, and say a prayer each night. We add in a chapter from a book each night, so ours takes about half an hour, but it could be easily finished in five minutes. Five minutes enjoying each others' company, soaking in peace during the craziest time of year, remembering the foundation of our faith, and anticipating the coming of Christ.

Jesse Tree Freebie

I love Thanksgiving. It is absolutely my favorite holiday. Family, food, and God's undeniable gifts overwhelming just doesn't get any better. My family loves Christmas, but we guard Thanksgiving very carefully. No Christmas music is allowed before the Friday after Thanksgiving. The decorations stay hidden in the attic until Thanksgiving is fully over. 

However, the week after Thanksgiving is the start of Christmas School and I have to get ready ahead of time. I try to sneak in my printing and planning early in the morning while the kids are sleeping. This year, I've created a new copywork book for them, introducing a new Jesse Tree verse for each day of the week.

Subscribers to Simblissity Cottage receive a free copywork of the Jesse Tree Copywork eBook. Register to access your copy.

*If you are already a current subscriber, you should have already received your download link. Contact me if it hasn't shown up in your email inbox. 

Mani-Pedi Day!

When goats scramble around on rocks, they naturally file their hooves down. When they spend their days in fields, they need a hand keeping those tootsies trimmed. Every couple months, they're rounded up and take turns with their spa treatment.

9 goats in a tiny corner, listening careful to the salon manager's advice.
We built a makeshift corner fence in the pen and draw them in with the grain bucket. They'll go anywhere for that bucket. They instinctively crowd into a corner and settle down once the snuggle in.

Our last spa day included hoof trimming, spraying eyes for some pink eye making the rounds, and spraying a few of their mouths with iodine to treat Orf. Orf is it's own special article waiting to happen. Nasty looking stuff.

The salon technicians pull a goat onto its side and hold him still. The goats put up a fuss for about 3 seconds and then lay still until it's over. It's wise to have extra hands holding the horns just in case they test the freedom before you're finished.

Typically, the hooves look like the picture below. The edges start to grow out and curl in, similar to fingernails.

A little snip, snip with a good pair of shears:

And then they're good to go.

This was our second mani-pedi day and we found this poor guy who slipped through the cracks during the first mani-pedi. His feet were a bit nasty.

I love to listen to Chris talk to them as he works. "Dahhhling, what HAVE you been doing? You've really let yourself go!" 

We hope to eventually move the goats to our back field, which is covered in bluffs and rocks. I'm curious to see how this affects their feet. 

Minerva, spa manager


It's been a year on the farm! Our biggest endeavor so far has been raising goats. We'd love to raise our own bacon, eggs, and perhaps milk, but we thought it best to start with one animal at a time. It has been a blast. Since we had a small field that needed cleared, we opted to start with goats.  It has been a blast!

Alpha Bob

And they've done the job well. In just a month, they took our small field from this:

This is actually several weeks in, but the original picture is hiding somewhere. 
to this:

The back section of field slopes downward, where they like to hide and devise ways to reach the creek below.
Care has been relatively simple. We built a simple goat shed, where they sleep at night and hide from the rain. We leave hay, minerals, and baking soda out free-choice, and feed them grain twice a day. We trim their hooves (mani-pedi day) and doctor them when their sick. Otherwise, they're pretty content to ramble and entertain themselves, which is fun to watch. They rarely try to escape, which was a huge concern before we started.

Our goat shed, with mineral and baking soda dispensers.
We brought home 20 baby goats and they quickly grew. Our original plan was to name them after Lord of the Rings characters, but they all insisted their names were Bob. If you try calling them anything else, they'll quickly correct you and say, "BOB!" 

Unicorn Bob 
Eventually, their individual personalities began to shine, and they developed more specialized names: Dumb Bob gets his head stuck in the fence daily. He has a bald patch on the back of his neck from rubbing it on the wire. Drama Bob thinks he's dying if you so much as look at him funny. Pocahontas Bob is graceful and beautiful. Granny Bob is the sweet grandmotherly figure in the bunch. Shawshank Bob...well, you don't want to know. Gross Bob developed a bad case of Orf and looked pretty nasty for a while. He's all healed, but the name stuck. 

The siren call of the grain bucket. They'll follow you anywhere if you carry it.
We thought goats would be a temporary endeavor, but we've all enjoyed having them and will likely make this a permanent plan. Chickens are next on the list!

Adrenal Fatigue and Dehydration

A few months ago, I bought a super-fancy bathroom scale that records your profile and tells you your BMI and hydration level. Knowing anything less than 50% shows dehydration, I was confused when mine registered as 45%. I drink a lot of water and assumed it must be out of calibration. To compare, I had my husband try it. He drinks an inordinate amount of coffee, so I was shocked when his read 50%. I decided it must be broken and decided to take it back.

In my typical distracted fashion, I forgot to take it back for several weeks. During that time I began to piece together new information about adrenal fatigue and hydration levels. Basically, the body doesn't process water properly when the adrenals are stressed. This is a key reason patients are encouraged to eat lost of salt. It really didn't matter how much water I drank, I could NOT get the scale to read above 46%. It's no surprise that brain fog is a primary symptom of adrenal fatigue; patients are constantly dehydrated!

After a few months of eating primarily a ketogenic diet, taking natural progesterone at night, and adrenal supplements each morning, It now reads 48% hydration. Considering the fact that most of the material I've read says it will take at least a  year to heal the adrenals, I'm very encouraged by this improvement. My metabolism is also waking up. Over the last few months, I've lost 15 lbs!

Amazon's Reviewsio

For those who enjoy writing reviews, I just discovered a new opportunity yesterday. Reviewsio let's you try Amazon products for free or at discounted prices in exchange for honest reviews.

Once you set up a profile, you can request deals, which are updated daily. These range anywhere from garlic presses to iPhone cases to health and wellness supplements. In addition to receiving free products, you can also earn points through sharing about the program and through writing reviews, which allow you to earn free amazon gift cards.

The reviews are written on Amazon, which help boost sellers' visibility. No blogging necessary. So, if you are opinionated and don't mind sharing your thoughts through an Amazon review, check out Reviewsio and earn some free stuff. 

New Books for a New Year - Ancient History

Thankfully, most of the books for this year were already on the shelves. We're starting over with Year 1 of our history cycle: The Ancients, and everyone is excited to begin. Here are some of the things we're looking forward to using again:

Story of the World 

I think. I also ended up with a Beautiful Feet guide, which we've never used before, but I like the look of it. We have nearly all of the corresponding books. I also like the look of Ambleside Online's history outline. We've enjoyed them in the past. What I reeeeeeally like the look of is Truthquest, but I can't justify spending that much money on a new curriculum when we already have access to three others.

History of the Ancient World  (for the older set)

Philosophy Adventure (for the younger set)

This one isn't a definite. I know I love the program, but I'm not sure if my girls are ready for it. They are 4th and 6th. This lists 6th as the minimum age. I really probably shouldn't push it. But I really like it...

The Greeks

I worry about overkill, but I can't NOT share this with my boys. Multum non multa. We've covered ancient history before. I do not want this to be another year where we cover data. I want to discuss literature and ideas. Philosophy. Art. This is something we dabbled in for a bit last year, but this year we will dive in all the way.

The Bible
If you prefer secular material, please do not discount this. Even if you're not a Christian, the Bible is a very important piece of literature. A foundational piece of literature. I don't think one could really consider themselves well-read without having read at least some of it and having some familiarity with its stories.

As Christians, we appreciate it for much more than its literary merit. This year's focus on the Ancients really brings the Old Testament to life, as we better understand the times in which the forefathers of our faith lived.

Amy Pak's Timeline Figures
These are truly the best timeline images out there. You can choose to print them in different sizes, with or without text. They come with a handy list of each figure, listed chronologically, to help you plan your year. The sets include Biblical events, which I greatly appreciate.

Map Trek

The quality of these maps is incredible. We've used them in the past. The Atlas is a beautiful book that you'll want to enjoy browsing, when you should be grading geography papers. Something new we'll be trying this year, is the outline that integrates Map Trek lessons with your regular history spine! 

Beyond that, there will be lots of reading of lots of great books. Our literature studies will revolve around GilgameshBeowulf, The Iliad, Greek plays, Plutarch, Aristotle, and more. Son #2 will get to compare Till We Have Faces with the Cupid and Psyche myth. I have a feeling there will be plenty of trash television going on to offset the brain strain. 

Planning a New School Year

This year, we're planning on things looking a bit different than all of our other years. Fewer things on our plates, with deeper and richer days. So what does planning look for that look like?

First, I'm remembering the wise advice from Christopher Perrin and Sarah Mackenzie regarding planning for Schole. Instead of taking all of the things you want to do and fitting them into your schedule, begin with your schedule and find out what priorities can fit into it.

The Tools

My wall calendar

This is for everyone in the house to glance at and know what's going on and when. This calendar gets comments from nearly everyone who comes in the house. It's pretty and it's incredibly handy.

My bullet journal

This is my brain. This keeps all of my junk in one accessible place. It also allows me an excuse for a little creative outlet.

Homeschool Manager
I can't say enough good stuff about this online planner. Easy Peasy. We're actually getting stuff FINISHED with this.

Menu Plan
{free printable in the link}

I don't have time to worry about this stuff. They insist on eating at least 3 times per day. With several evening activities, I really can't wait until we're hungry to start thinking about things or we'll end up eating at McDonalds every night. Eww.

Motivated Moms
(affiliate link)
Again, no time to worry about this stuff. Check off little boxes in my phone and get the house clean. Done.

The Plan

You don't mind if I just think out loud here, do you? I need to work through this and I think better in print than in my brain.

I have Monday through Friday, though Fridays often get eaten up with outside activities. We begin early, since they seem to do so much better at math if they work on it before 9:00 a.m. We take an hour for lunch, eating together and cleaning up. We want to be finished by 3:00. That gives us 7 hours, 4 1/2 days per week.

A lot hinges on a morning routine. By the time they sit down for a Circle Up at 8:00, they will have already finished their Morning Five:
  • Feeding animals
  • Feeding themselves breakfast
  • Bible Study
  • Beds Made
  • Dressed and Ready
If they only take 10 minutes per chore, they've already taken nearly an hour. I'll have to wake them up at 7:00 at the latest. They're going to ask me to wake them up earlier. I just know it. That will cut into my alone time in the mornings. My mornings are sacred. This is hard. Sigh. Okay, fine; I'll wake them up at 6:45, but no earlier!

Now, that Circle Time. I have a tendency to chat and get way off topic. It's supposed to be a time run through our memory work. If I feel the need to chat about something, I'd probably better do so over breakfast. They need to start math.

8:15 - 9:30 MATH

It's really the only thing we put on a schedule. Everything else is flexible. But if we don't hit this math schedule, nothing gets done. Nothing.

Must Do's:

Reading good books (history & lit)
Writing (& grammar & spelling)

If we do an hour per class, we've already gone over our time. It doesn't work. In theory, 3 of those classes will only take half an hour. But we get chatty. I think perhaps I should do Economics one semester and Theology the next, for safety's sake.

We can do this. It's going to work. It will!

Be sure to check out my article at Year Round Homeschooling, sharing how we managed to get our kids excited about a new school year.

The Paleo Chef

The Paleo Chef

Quick, Flavorful Paleo Meals for Eating Well

Pete Evans, foreword by Seamus Mullen

Having no television, I really don't know much about the who's who world of chefs. The name Pete Evans meant nothing to me, but the idea of quick Paleo meals was very appealing! I happily volunteered to review this one.  

We don't have any food allergies, just some mild sensitivities that do better with a primal approach to eating. After a vacation of eating whatever we wanted, we were all needing a fresh start and a good eating plan. This was perfect timing for my family.

The book contains over 100 recipes, including paleo recipes for breakfast, dessert, and beverages as well as great main dishes. While some of the ingredients required more than the basics, the instructions were easy to follow and not too complicated.

Some of the ingredients were a bit intimidating. Our tiny town doesn't carry much in the exciting foods department. Figs, saffron, fennel bulbs, licorice root...these are not options for us. When I read "kaffir lime leaves", I laughed out loud. Pancetta? Frisee? No. But the book comes with great instruction and direction. We were able to substitute ingredients and still enjoy fabulous meals.

The cookbook also inspires attractive presentation. Having a family often means just being happy we get to sit down and eat together, not even caring overly much what's on our plates, let alone how it looks. But it is a nice touch to consider color and texture and work towards making it look as appetizing as it tastes.

Desserts include Churros, Key Lime Tart, Chocolate Beet Mudcakes and more. Main dishes include fish and chips, Jerk chicken, Seared Beef Liver, and much more. There are sides and snacks and beautiful, inspiring recipes in here.

The Paleo Chef can be purchased for $24.99. You can read more info and the author's bio for even more information. 

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

I think I might have something in my eye

My boys spent the week at a mission trip and my sweet Mother-in-Law hosted my girls at a week of Camp Grandma, so I was able to spend an entire week alone at home. I cleaned all of the dark corners and listened to inspiring podcasts and seminars from Circe Institute.

There were too many good things to begin share it all, but I have a new perspective for our school year that I must share. One speech that strongly challenged me was The Seventh Day and Its Implications on Our Teaching by Christopher Perrin.

So many good things there, but something in particular stood out to me. Regarding the verse that speaks of removing the splinter from your brothers eye only after you've removed the log from your own: Remember that children are persons...before removing that speck from your 6 year old or your 16 year old, remove the log from your own.


Another excellent session was The Classical Paradigm by Martin Cothran. He gives a beautiful definition of Classical Education, as being the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It fit in so nicely with the teachings of Christopher Perrin and the need for Schole. Restful, purposeful learning.

Multum, Non Multa.

Much not Many.

I've always opted for many rather than much. There are so many fabulous things out there, I just want to squeeze as much of it in as I possibly can! But so little is retained when you try cram in learning. It is so much better to soak in good things, discuss and chew on topics until you own them. Much will be changing in our new school year.

Finally, a session you just have to hear is Further Up and Futher In: An Exploration of the Classical Quadrivium by Andrew Kern. Kern rambles like a madman, but there are so many good insights, it truly is worth holding on tight and listening to again and again. Something in particular that stood out to me is the reminder of Man's Primary Purpose. We've been going through the Catechism with the kids (very slowly) and we've certainly learned that Man's Primary Purpose is to Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever.

And then Kern asks: Are you sure? Are you sure your son's purpose isn't to go to college? Of course not! It might be part of the process God wants to use with your son in the specific way God intends to be glorified through him, but even then, it is but a means to an end. It is NOT the end.

I've been terrified of this upcoming senior year and all of the applications and tests and transcripts and credits and and and..... This was a good reminder for me.

And finally, in that same talk, this beautiful game changer:
[Socrates:] I am amused, I said, at your fear of the world, which makes you guard against the appearance of insisting upon useless studies; and I quite admit the difficulty of believing that in every man there is an eye of the soul which, when by other pursuits lost and dimmed, is by these purified and re-illumined; and is more precious by far than ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it alone is truth seen. Republic VII
Do you see that?? The eye of the soul is purified and re-illumined by the pursuit of "useless studies". Are your children's eyes dulled to learning? To life? Are your eyes dull? Are you gazing upon Truth, Goodness, and Beauty? There just isn't time, right? So much to do! So little time! It feels silly to pause to read a good book, listen to Mozart, or gaze upon a painting. Do it anyway. Go watch a sunset. Walk and hold hands. Read a poem, learn a new Latin phrase, sketch a picture. Wake up your mind and remember how good it feels to think on these things.

I cannot wait to begin school with my family. My final year of school for oldest baby. Man. Whatever.


We've had a touch of rain lately. Lately, being since the snow stopped in April. The river you see below is a dry creek bed that intersects the road to my house. Occasionally, rain accumulates and runs down the hill enough to trickle through the dry creek bed. Very rarely, water builds up enough to be noticeable. Those rare moments have been happening at a bizarre frequency lately. 

We've had to spend several nights in town with family because it was uncrossable. That seemed so inconvenient until this morning. 

If you look at the other side of the creek, you'll see a flattened field of grass. The grass was taller than me last night, but the creek got up so high while we slept that it ran over the fields beside it. There were 44 cows in the field when we went to bed. There were 2 there this morning.

Chris has spent the day scouring the county. They've been showing up miles away. There are only 8-10 unaccounted for now. Those found weren't in great shape.

On the bright side, the county has now recognized we exist and are grading the road daily, so we're able to get in and out using a back road. The house is on a hill and safe from any flooding, thank goodness.

We've learned a lot of lessons through the years and I'm sure we have plenty more to learn. Right now, I'm thankful for the many lessons in learning to Trust that God has us in His hands. There is an incredible peace, knowing He will take care of us. It doesn't always look the way we want it to look, but He has us in His hands and there's no place else I'd want to be.

Adrenal Fatigue - It's not in my head

For the last year, I've been tired. But who isn't tired? I've been steadily gaining weight, but everyone over 30 does that. I read the many articles linked from facebook that told me what delightful diseases I might have. I read the myriad symptoms lists and scoffed at the sincerity of the lists. Of course I have brain fog and thinning hair; I'm a homeschool mom to 4 kids. I have teenagers!

Just in case the articles weren't bunk, I visited my doctor. She patted my knee and told me to watch what I was eating. Stress was her diagnosis. I was stressed. I insisted I felt perfectly relaxed and wasn't stressed. She insisted I was a homeschool mom to 4 kids and I was stressed whether I knew it or not.

So I continued to sludge around, hoping for the best. I gained 35 lbs in a year.

A few months ago, a friend recommended an OBGYN that is known for taking her time and for digging a little deeper than the standard medical practitioner. She requested a saliva test to check my hormones, which was new to me. It turns out that my hormone levels are extremely low and my adrenals are shot. Ironically, the tests all say I'm stressed. This doctor explained that I'm not necessarily feeling stress, but chemically, my body is stressed.

On one hand, I was relieved to find out that I'm not crazy and I'm not lazy. On the other hand, Adrenal Fatigue doesn't sound like a real thing. It sounds like a prescription for a nap and I feel goofy telling anyone. Who takes that seriously?

Basically, it is a prescription for a nap. To heal the adrenals, you need good rest. Mine wasn't great. I went to bed around 11 and got up at 5:45 every morning. Now I'm in bed by 10 and I get up at 6. Sometimes even 7! I've even napped in the hammock without guilt. The not-feeling-guilty part is nice.

It is also a prescription for healthy eating. I've researched healthy eating out the wazoo, so it's sad that I overlooked it. For the most part, I eat healthy, but I didn't realize how lax I had become. Most of that was from being busy. Always running means often grabbing something easy, and it's been BUSY. Our diet wasn't terrible, but it wasn't what it could be. Now, I'm saying no to the unnecessary activities. And planning meals.

I'm now on a natural progesterone prescription and an adrenal supplement. Blood-work showed I was low in a few things and I'm adding those in as well. It's been a few weeks of implementing the supplements, the sleep, and the healthy eating. So far, I've lost 8 lbs. I don't feel any significant change in energy levels, but maybe a little bit. I've heard from others that it takes several months before much change is felt. I'm hopeful.

All of that to say, if you're tired and gaining weight, do something about it. Don't be like me and wait for a year to go by before you finally do something about it. Find a doctor willing to check your hormone levels. Find a doctor who offers advice beyond, "Relax and eat better." 

My Favorite Planner (a review)

After a dozen years of homeschooling, I've tried a LOT of planners. After hating a lot of planners, I settled into creating my own forms for many years. And then, two months ago, I found the perfect planner for my family. It is simple, but complete. It is online, so it keeps track of all of our information, but it is easily printed for my students each week. We've used Homeschool Manager for nearly two months now and I still want to sing hymns of thanksgiving every week as I print out our checklists.

To use, I first set up my school and students and year's details. This required listing every subject. The set-up for any planning program requires some time and effort, but I had all 4 of my students signed up, with subjects, within 20 minutes. Since then, my weekly planning is easily finished within 10 minutes. It's wonderful.

Scheduling is a breeze. To plan my next week, I click on the subject and enter the assignment. For example, under MATH, I might type in Lesson 3 Page 27-31. In reality, it would look more like L3P27-31. If more than one student has the same instructions, I don't have to type then in again or
 even copy and paste. Instead, I click a little box that says "Assign to multiple students" and then click on the other student's name. 

Some subjects have more than one assignment. This is no problem at all; you can't list as many as you like. Under LANGUAGE ARTS, I add several assignments:
  • Grammar: L3p27, See Me
  • Spelling: L4p43
  • Lit Analysis: Ivanhoe p234-250
  • Read Aloud: Sword of the King
  • Vocab: L2p14-15

Since easy subjects like math will look nearly identical from day to day, just a change of a few numbers, I slide and copy assignments I've already typed and just edit the tiny bits that are different. If the original entry was assigned to multiple students, all copied and edited assignments are automatically assigned to others without me telling it again. If I want to change that, it's still just a click of a button.

There are many extra features in this. You can stick with the simple options, or dig a little deeper. None of it is difficult or overwhelming, so digging is fun. Here are some of the extra benefits I appreciate:
  • You can set up assignments as tasks or assignments to be graded. It prompts you to grade, which is helpful to me as I tend to forget this part of teaching. 
  • As it tracks everything, you are also building a transcript as you go. This is completely editable, so the finished product says exactly what you want it to say. 
  • I only recently discovered the Book List option, which also allows me to track every book they read throughout the years. 
  • Volunteer hours can also be tracked for that transcript.
  • Hours of instruction can also be tracked if your state requires this for records.
  • Students can log in with a separate password to access assignments or you can print the week's assignments for them. 
Homeschool Manager doesn't cut me off at 3 kids, it doesn't cut me off at 6 subjects, and it doesn't take an hour to correct mistakes when we get behind. I don't have to enter every page and project; I copy and paste. It takes five minutes to enter assignments for the week. FIVE MINUTES! And if we have a surprise vacation or come down with the plague, I can slide the assignment boxes over and put them on a different day. My plans are rearranged in seconds.

I am very visual and this lets me see everything I need at a glance. I can see when we're ahead or behind. I can see if we've skipped assignments for three weeks. (I'm not the only one who forgets entire subjects for months at a time, right?) 11 years of teaching and I've finally found my perfect planner. 

If you are curious about it being a good fit for you, be sure to check out their free 30-day trial! If you decide you love it as much as I do, you can purchase a year's subscription for $39 per year, or $4.99 per month.

Realizing that not everyone has the same tastes and preferences, I've also shared many different planner options in the Year Round Homeschooling Round-up. The entire month at YRH is going to be filled with homeschooling tips and tricks. Be sure to check it out.

A subscription to Homeschool Manager was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. 
The opinions are my own, in compliance with FTC Disclosure Policies. 

Spring on the farm

I've barely blogged all spring! That should be a sign of a busy life, but I feel like I've just been spinning in circles. It's been a heart-heavy season, as we've dealt with some confusing things at church. It's been a downright-comical season as we've dealt with the complications that crop up so well sometimes. It's best summed up with pictures.

Honor grabbed my arm and begged me to come outside and take a picture so she could keep this moment. A picture can't capture spring dew turned silver on grass. I love it anyway because it represents her wonder and excitement. They are all so happy to be out here, finally.

The bane of my spring. Every day, I vacuumed up a pile of ladybugs this size. DAILY! They were so cute to me last year. My, how perspectives change.

A sad part of our spring included the loss of our beautiful dogs, Sherlock and Watson. There were many more dogs that went missing at the same time, and it looks like theft. Who steals dogs?? We waited a few months, but the coyotes were nearing the yard and we needed to get more dogs for the farm. Meet Shepherd and Kaylee. They are a sweet brother and sister pair who are very gentle and will likely just try to cuddle if coyotes visit. 

My sweet father-in-law surprised us with a gift of morels. Delectable gift! 

I had never seen hail like this. There were hits across the entire window and glass in the car, but we were on a road trip and had to keep going. That was an adventure!

Church. Our family and home. It's been a season. There have been many highlights this spring. Sweet  and broken worship, meals with church family, Bible drill, derby car races, tea parties, picnics. I love my church. My heart hurts for my hurting church.

My sweet mother-in-law brought me this amazing gift from the bounty of her yard. I loved it!

Septic systems are not something city-folk need to worry about. This was a new adventure. Our youngest walked up casually and asked me, "Did you know that when you flush the toilet, a small fountain bubbles underneath the bush in the yard?" No. No I didn't know this. How long have you known this? "Since we moved in." In November. Thankfully, my father-in-law has lots of great tools and toys and we had the equipment to dig where we needed to dig. The ancient rock wall and grandma's irises did not fare well. This will be an ongoing project, but the immediate emergency has passed.

This view welcomes us each day, as the kids grow and learn and thrive. We're quite honestly exhausted in every way right now, but there's a peace within though there's a turmoil without. 

We survived our very cold (very expensively cold) winter, realizing that changes needed made so we don't get snowed in and stuck at home in the future. And now we've wrapped up our first spring, full of adventure and promise. We're ready to settle into our summer. Ready to work and enjoy the steady hum of simple, purposeful days. Oh-so-very ready.