Planning a family-friendly getaway to Petoskey, Michigan

I’ve been eager to visit Northern Michigan for the past few years and it just hasn’t fit into our schedule.  However, I’ve started planning a getaway to the Petoskey area, in hopes that once I have it all planned out, getting it on the calendar won’t be so difficult.  Here are some of my ideas for a family-friendly weekend getaway to Petoskey, Michigan.

Petoskey, Michigan is located 35 miles south of Mackinaw City.  Petoskey lies on the shores of Little Traverse Bay, and is a 6 hour and 20 minute drive from my home in Ohio.  Our family enjoys outdoor pursuits, walking and hiking tours, and history that can be geared towards little minds.  All of the attractions I’ve found will suit our young family.

Things to do in the Petoskey area

Pond Hill Farm – The farm contains a petting zoo, hiking trails leading to a view of Lake Michigan, and a winery & brewery.  If that doesn’t make everyone in the family happy, I don’t know what will!

Harbor Springs – located directly on Little Traverse Bay, Harbor Springs includes many dining and shopping options as well as the popular drive, M-119 Tunnel of Trees.

Petoskey – This historic town has over 400 homes on the National Register.  I’d like to stroll around (literally, with the stroller) and enjoy the architecture.  If we get tired, Petoskey also offers a streetcar.

Boat Trip to Beaver Island – Beaver Island is known as America’s Emerald Isle. It’s a place to relax with the kids, enjoy the crystal clear water, and view 2 lighthouses.  The ferry ride is free for children under 4.

Hitting the Beach at Petoskey State Park–  This is the place to sunbathe and swim, but it’s also listed as a location to search out the famed Petoskey Stone.  The Petoskey Stone is a fossilized form of coral, and it’s Michigan’s State Stone.  I’d have my boys hooked on this “treasure hunt.”

A Petoskey Stone

Lavender Hill Farm – I’ve been to a Lavender Farm outside of Melbourne, Australia, but we just missed the bloom.  It appears that the bloom in Michigan happens in July.  On summer Fridays, they celebrate “Fridays on the Farm” with kids crafts, yoga, and more!

Rainy Day Ideas for the Petoskey area

Raven Hill Discovery Center – This is a place for families to explore science, history, and art.  The second Saturday of each month the Center is free.

Little Traverse Historical Museum – I love local museums because you really get a feel for the community and how it all began.  The Little Traverse Historical Museum is located in an restored train depot, right on the shores of the bay.  Did you know that Ernest Hemingway spent much of his life in this area?  The museum has an entire exhibit dedicated to him.

Family-friendly accommodation in the Petoskey area

Elvyn Lea Lodge is a  20-room lodge that can be used for retreats and business gatherings.  However, single rooms can also be booked for families visiting the Petoskey area. The resort has two lounges and over 44 acres brimming with hiking trails!  My kids would love the rooms with bunk beds.

I’ll also have my eye on the Boyne Highlands Resort.  A friend of mine stayed there and they have large suites that would comfortably fit our entire crew. The hotel is a ski resort in the winter, so summer rates are affordable.  Boyne Highlands Resort is located in Harbor Springs.

All in all, the Petoskey, Michigan area appears to be more than just a quick family-friendly getaway.  There’s enough to do for an entire week.  I’m hoping we can travel to Northern Michigan this summer!

Have you been to the Petoskey region?  What’s your favorite attraction?

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A visit to Avery Island- the home of Tabasco

What happens when an epic storm system ruins your plans of gallivanting around plantations like a Southern Belle, er, Midwesterner?  And your husband says, “Well, is there anything to the west of us?  Anything we could go see?” And then he hears the two words that men (and women) around the world find as sweet nothings… TABASCO SAUCE?

Even if our morning started with a tornado warning and a panic stricken wife, Mr. Yoder Toter ended his day in pure bliss of Tabasco taste-testing goodness.   Not one moment before that sad morning in a hotel in Gonzales, LA, did we even know that the home of Tabasco Sauce was in the low-lying lands of Avery Island, Louisiana.  But we went (through the flood waters) and we conquered.

Avery Island, the home of Tabasco, is approximately 140 miles west of New Orleans.  Surrounded by marsh, Avery Island actually sits on a salt dome- it’s not a true island, but arriving over a flooded waterway sure made it feel like one.  The original red Tabasco was created here in the late 1860s by Edmund McIlhenny and the company has not moved!

Once pulling into the Tabasco homestead, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time 100 years, as the buildings & trees add to the feeling of the old south.

Admission to the Tabasco Museum & Factory on Avery Island is very affordable!  I believe we paid $5.50 for four of us, our youngest was free.  It’s not many times you can experience something as a family of 5 for under $25.

The Tabasco Museum tells the story of Tabasco.  From the earliest settlement of Avery Island, to the modern day changes the McIlhenny family have made.  I enjoyed seeing how Tabasco products have done all over the world and appeared in advertisements.  My favorite was this Darth Vader piece:

After visiting the Museum, there is a self-guided tour through the grounds, easily followed by numbered signs.  The most interesting for my husband and myself was the barrel house.  The peppers are turned into mash and placed in white oak barrels and aged for THREE YEARS.  Seeing so many barrels of pepper mash just waiting to be turned into sauce, showed the great quantity of Tabasco that is produced in this small town.

Unfortunately, because we visited on a Sunday, we were unable to see the factory in motion. The bottling line is only open Monday-Thursday, so plan your visit to Avery Island accordingly.

Probably the best part of the tour, for me, was the Tabasco Country Store!  Tabasco ice cream!  Tabasco suckers!  Tabasco coffee mugs!  (Said just like Yogurt from Spaceballs, lol).  I was intrigued by just how many things can be flavored using a few hot peppers, and my husband liked taste-tasting all of the many different sauces.

We only wished we weren’t traveling home by air, as the products are priced reasonably.  Don’t worry though- we brought home a bottle of Mr YT’s favorite- wrapped within the kids (deflated) pool floaties!  No clothes were injured in this attempt.

 

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Tips for if you go:

We had our double stroller (side by side) with us, but we may not have needed it since our kids are a bit older.  If you do take a stroller, I’d try to take a single because the doorways and hallways are a little tight.

The closest town with numerous lodging possibilities would be Lafayetta, LA.  I usually recommend the Homewood Suites or the Fairfield Inn and Suites.   You can check Current Rates HERE.

Plan on spending 2 hours on JUST Avery Island and the TABASCO tour.  If you wish to tour the adjacent Jungle Gardens, I’d add even more time.  We could not visit Jungle Gardens due to flooding.

So tell me, do you love Tabasco products?  Ever had spicy ice cream?  

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My Favorite Products from Thirty-One Gifts

Thirty-One Gifts was introduced to me quite a few years ago by my neighbor.  I fell in love Thirty-One’s products because they offer so much for the busy mom!  We’ve used their travel totes & thermal on multiple trips by car AND air!  I even have a favorite office product.

Thirty-One Gifts is Ohio-based and focuses on giving women the chance to enjoy the freedom of their own business!  I love their emphasis on faith and family.

It’s hard to pick a favorite Thirty-One product.  I adore my new Getaway Tote.  The navy and white stripe with cork is on point for summer’s hot nautical theme.  I love that the bag is big enough to use for an overnight or daytrip to the beach, but also doesn’t feel too big to carry as a purse.

Currently I’m using the Getaway Tote to haul my laptop and notebooks to work at the coffee shop.

But I also plan to take it to the pool.

The Getaway Tote pairs perfectly with the All About The Benjamins Wallet.  My matching wallet is Tan Metallic Cork and I appreciate that the wallet has numerous spots for cards and cash!

Another favorite product that has been used time and again is the Large Utility Tote.  This is a catch-all.  We’ve used it to take towels and games on a beach vacation.  It’s hauled baby gear to an overnight at my parents.  We even stuffed it full of miscellaneous items when we moved in December.   The possibilities are endless.

Large Utility Tote in Starfish Splash

The Large Utility is so versatile. And until the end of May, when you spend $35 with Thirty-One, you can add a Large Utility Tote to your order for just $10.  What a deal!

Going on a field trip or a short drive?  Need a new school lunchbox for your child?  The Thermal Tote is another one that gets a LOT of use from our family.  This bag easily fits 2 water bottles & a few sandwiches or snacks.  I also used it when my kids were babies to carry their bottles.

Thermal Tote in Candy Corners. This print is gorgeous.

I’ve also got my eye on the Picnic Thermal Tote for our summer travel plans.  This larger thermal will hold two 2-liter bottles (or 2 bottles of wine, just sayin’).  The Picnic Thermal is only $35, so this is what I could buy to then get my Large Utility Tote at the discount.

Here’s my van all loaded up for a day out with the kids. (Some patterns may be discontinued)

Now that I’ve relayed some of my favorite Thirty-One products, what are yours?  Do you find yourself coming back to the same ones again and again?

I think you’re going to have a NEW favorite- The Getaway Tote & All About The Benjamins Wallet because YOU CAN WIN YOUR OWN!  Fill out the Rafflecopter below- you have a chance for 6 entries.  Be sure to share with your friends.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** Thirty-One Gifts provided me with a free bag and wallet.  As always, opinions are my own.**

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Travel Hacking New Orleans

Flights & 4 nights for 5 people- under $300

Hey!  We just returned from New Orleans and I wanted to share with you how we saved so much money on this trip by travel hacking our accommodation & flights.  We’ve been able to travel more since learning how to better utilize our credit card points.  For more info, start HERE:

Why this Dave Ramsey follower still uses a credit card

Travel Hacking the Canadian Rockies

We flew to New Orleans on Southwest airlines.  The total cost of 5 flights on Southwest would have been $1269.40!  Instead, our total was $56 and some change thanks to using 56,350 points.  You could get this many points by getting the sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and then transferring the points to Southwest.  Check out 10xtravel for more info on all things credit cards!

Savings: $1213

For our hotel nights, we wanted to do a plantation tour, but also stay in the city.

Because we were arriving into New Orleans on a Saturday night during Jazz Fest, city hotel rates were really high.  We decided that we’d stay outside of the city for the first night, then drive in on Sunday.

The first night we stayed at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Gonzales, LA.  This was a perfect family-friendly property.  Our room with two double beds and a sofa bed was HUGE, and the free breakfast was sufficient.

The total cost for that night was $112.78.

We had some points left on our Barclaycard Arrival+.  Which allowed us to completely “erase” the purchase.  Barclaycard is offering a 50,000 point sign-up bonus which is good for $500 of travel purchases.

Savings: $112

In New Orleans, we picked our hotel considering what would accommodate our family, but was also not too close to the French Quarter.  I’d read on some blogs that the French Quarter can get a little rowdy at night and little ones (or their big mama, lol) would have a hard time sleeping.

Brian had some Hilton points to burn, so we chose the Hampton Inn by Hilton by the Convention Center.  If we would have paid out of pocket for the Hampton, 3 nights would have cost us just over $694.  This is without 2 nights of valet parking (we were able to park the first night on the street), which would have added an additional $88). Hilton now allows you to redeem an uneven amount of points – i.e. the Hampton was 36k a night and we redeemed 77k to help us save a little more on the last night.

Our final bill at check-out was

3 nights at the Hampton with 2 nights parking FULL PRICE: $782

3 nights at the Hampton with 2 nights parking WITH POINTS: $235

Savings: $547

We also rented a car, but it’s not a necessity when visiting New Orleans so I won’t include it.  Our reason for renting was because we did want to drive out to the plantations, and we needed cost-effective airport transportation.  I’m so glad we did have the car because of all of the flight debacles we had on the return.

Also, when flying on Southwest Airlines, your car seats fly for free!  This is a big money-saver!  We bought car seat bags a couple of years ago from Amazon and this backpack one is our favorite.  Hands-free with kids is a must!

We also just purchased this inflatable booster seat for our oldest.  It worked really well – and we could fit 3 kids across the back of a Ford Escape.

 

(If you weren’t traveling with three small kids you could easily purchase a plantation tour with hotel pick-up plus airport transfers).

So that’s how we did flights for five & 4 nights of hotel for under $300!  Do you travel hack?  Have you been to New Orleans?

** Leah’s disclaimer:  It’s never a good idea to go into debt by using credit cards.  We use them for most of our business/personal expenses and then pay the statement each month.  Don’t play this game if you lack self-control. **

 


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Hiking at the Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation





One of the things I love about following various Instagram accounts is getting new ideas for where to take our hiking excursions.  Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation was one of the places that caught my eye for a family hike.  I fell in love with this type of typography after last year’s trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Hinckley Reservation is part of the Cleveland Metroparks system.  While we only hiked the Ledges Trail, there appear to be 7 foottrails within the reservation, one of which is an all-purpose trail for hiking, biking, and rollerblading.

Whipp’s Ledges Trail is accessed from State Rd.  Note: When we were there, a bridge was being repaired on State Road.  You must enter the hiking area from the north.

There is a map at the entrance to the trail, but I’d recommend printing a trail map and taking it, just in case.  There are blazes, but not many signs, making it a little confusing.

The ledges are really spectacular.  It’s hard to believe that this type of place is just minutes from shopping malls and restaurants.  Ohio keeps surprising me, and this is a gem of a place to hike.

The hiking is rugged, so I wouldn’t recommend these trails for any younger than 3.  If you have a hiking carrier, you’d probably be ok!  Also, prepare for MUD.  Our kiddos wore their snow boots so we wouldn’t ruin their tennis shoes.  The trail is only 1.25 miles in length though, so it’s definitely doable with young ones who tire easily.

Probably the thing I loved most about Whipps Ledges was that it was one of those places that just made you feel really SMALL.  As a Christian, I’m always reminded that there’s something much bigger than me- and that HE is in control, not me.  Taking our kids to these places is a nice jumping off point for those talks, too- how we worship a great Creator who made this beautiful place for us to enjoy.  #endsdeepandmeaningfulconvo

Anyhow- Have you been to Hinckley Reservation?  If you’re interested in going, my friend Tonya at The Traveling Praters covered nearby Worden’s Ledges.  Next time we’ll definitely be checking them out.

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Little Buckeye Children’s Museum – Mansfield, Ohio

A member’s review + tips for if you go

Back in December, my mom was asking me what kind of Christmas present she could get for my kids.  Knowing we were relocating to Mansfield right after Christmas, I thought that  money towards a family membership to the Buckeye Children’s Museum would be just the ticket (pun intended) to keeping the kids occupied on dreary Ohio days!

We’ve been three times so far, and it’s safe to say that this may be the most well-loved Christmas present!  The kids are always asking to go back!

My children are currently 3, 5, and 7; and they all stay highly engaged throughout our visits and beg to stay longer.  When we purchased the membership, I worried that my 7 year old would tire of the museum, but he enjoys playing with his younger siblings and has never complained of boredom.  There are exhibits that older children may especially appreciate, such as the model train and k’nex station.

As a mom, I appreciate that although the space is large and the exhibits are plentiful, it’s fairly easy for me to watch my children even if they are at separate stations.  A tip for caregivers: if you’re starting to get weary from all the excitement, ask your children or grandchildren to put on a special play for you.  Sit back in the restored theatre seats with some (fake) popcorn and watch your little thespians.

If you’re coming from out of town, you may also want to pack a spare pair of pants (or shoes), for your budding scientists.  The water table is  a HUGE hit, but we’ve left with a wet shoe more than once.  I am thankful the museum provides these awesome bibs to keep their shirts dry.  There are restrooms on both floors for your convenience.

From an imaginary camping adventure to a McDonald’s drive-thru (by Cozy Coupe), there’s make-believe play for all ages.  On this last visit my eldest child taught the younger ones their letters and numbers in the one-room schoolhouse.

How fun is this sensory room?  FYI: This is the only space that they ask that you remove your shoes.

One of the things I love most about the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is seeing how my kids interact with each other and play together throughout each exhibit.  They share their enthusiasm and model to each other what they are learning.



A family membership at the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is currently $100.  For a family of 5, it would only take 2.5 visits to pay for the membership.  This is one investment I can endorse!  Not only are you allowing your child to engage in a play – the BEST type of education- but you’re also investing in a small city in Ohio.

NOTE: There is no parking lot for the museum.  On-street parking is a 2-hour limit meter.  Pack your quarters and set your timer!  Otherwise, we park in the free public parking, which is accessed off of Diamond Street, just south of 4th Street.  It’s a one block walk from there.

Between Labor Day & Memorial Day, the museum is open Wednesdays- Sundays.  We prefer to visit on Wednesdays because it’s typically very quiet!  Check their calendar for special events.

Hotels in Mansfield

** This was NOT a sponsored post, our family just enjoys the museum and I want to provide my readers with as much info as possible.  May contain affiliate links**

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The Friday Five- April Life (not the giraffe, the month)

Hi everyone!  I haven’t done many posts lately on what I’m reading or our family life, so I thought I’d do a general post for my #FridayFive!

ONE

My grandma passed away a few weeks ago and although she was nearly 99 years old, it’s been a sad time. It’s weird to think that that generation, which was a huge influence in my life, is gone and there’s only my parents left.  Has anyone else felt that?

Anyhow, Sunday night my parents were over and  brought a box of letters I had saved from when I was an exchange student.  The box contained probably 20 letters that my Gran had written.  I laughed and cried for an hour!  She was a such a hoot.  These letters will continue to be precious to me.

That leads me to #2…

TWO

After my other grandmother passed away 3 years ago, I made a pact that I would journal and write more.  The written word has such a profound effect on those who are left behind.  Seriously, we found a journal entry from my grandma that said she had babysit me when I was about 10 months old and I was “such a good baby.”  That made me cry for a week! (#Iamacrier)

I’m going to journal more about life – anything from the kids to blogging to arguments between me and Mr YT. Haha. I figure that someday these will make me laugh and reflect.

AND, from a business perspective, having a written word to look back on is SO helpful.  I’ve written down so many blog topics and completely forgotten about them less than a week later!

Love this quote from a Copyblogger (yes, a blogger’s blog):

“In my experience, creative people need journals. They’re the greenhouses where we grow ideas. And the laboratories where we practice fiendish experiments.” ~Sonia Simone

I don’t have a green thumb, so my journals will serve as my greenhouses. 😉

THREE

Since the move, I’ve been slack about reading.  I read on Instagram (and I don’t remember who’s feed) that every time you wanna pick of your phone and browse social media, pick up your book instead.  I tried this this week and it was so productive!!

Here’s what I hope to get through this month:

Mindset – I’m about a third of the way through.  This is some heavy psychology stuff, so you can’t just skim it.

City of Refuge – A fictional novel about two families dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Highly recommended as something to read before visiting New Orleans (we leave at the end of this month)

The Secret of Midwives – I rarely read this much fiction, but I just can’t turn down a book on midwifery written by an Aussie. 😉

The Magnolia Story – I jumped on the bandwagon (and already finished this).  I adore this couple, but didn’t love the book. Don’t worry, I still wanna visit Waco.

FOUR

The house.

So did I tell ya’ll that when we bought our house we bought one where we wanted to paint and/or change EVERY SINGLE ROOM?  Since we moved I’ve painted the 1/2 bath, the dining room, the homeschool room, and the foyer… hey, that means there is only 7 rooms to go!  ha!

Is painting the worst chore ever? How do people do this for a living?

What could be worse is actually PICKING paint colors.  I’m so indecisive.

Do you paint or do you hire someone?  I know we should just try to hire someone but I’m so cheap.  So instead I save the money and whine for DAYS.

THIS. This is “wedding white.”  Which I thought looked cream.  But it’s white.  The end. #firstworldissues

FIVE

You know I can’t end a post without talking about travel.

The Yoder Toters have a busy season coming up:

New Orleans, Marietta, Fort Wayne,  and staying in a CABOOSE in Hocking Hills – which one would you most like to read about?

Are you planning your summer vacation?

I love this post from Shalee at Shalee Wanders- Eight Other Travel Bloggers to Inspire Your Wanderlust

I’ve gotten to meet a few of these ladies and they are the real deal!  Tonya from The Traveling Praters has become my blog guru & I’m so thankful!


Happy Friday!!  Have a great weekend!

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Finding Hemlock Falls – A hidden waterfall of Ohio

My introduction to Hemlock Falls came from an Instagram post.  Ever since then, I’ve been scheming a time and place to see this waterfall.

While Hemlock Falls is located NEAR Mohican State Park, it’s actually on private property managed by the Mohican School in the Out-of-doors.  Eventually the Falls will be on the new B & O Trail as the land was recently purchased by the Mohican Watershed Conservancy.

What does that mean for the casual traveler like me? You must call and get permission to access the site.  Don’t just show up!

The Mohican Outdoor School has field trip groups on many days and the first time I called they said we could not visit.  If you’re coming from out of town, you can call and set up a time in advance, but since we live close-by I just called on a particularly nice day to see if the site was available.

The Falls are actually across the street from the School.  My directions were to go to the school first and check-in.  Don’t do like I did and mistake someone’s home for the office!  Oye!  The school office is actually located just below the visitor parking area.  If you see a dumpster, you’re on the right track (how welcoming)!  The director I spoke with (after opening the door to her personal home), said they are working on getting better signage.  Thank you and amen. 🙂

After you park near the Field Trip Center (across the road from the school), you will need to follow signs that are located on tall poles or trees.  They aren’t the easiest to find!

We actually got off of the trail at one part and needed to cross the creek on foot to get back on the trail.  There are no blazes.

Then, once we got to the bridge where you view the falls, there were signs saying the trail we were on was actually closed.  Uhhh???

Nonetheless, the site of a 60+ foot waterfall that’s not heavily visited like Big Lyon Falls at Mohican or Ash Cave in Hocking Hills, made the momentary stress of finding the falls dissipate.

Normally I would have turned around, but I thought I should honor the sign.  So on the way back we followed signs for the “main trail” and we ended up about 300 yards down the road from our van.  Hmmmm.

If you go, I’d ask for very clear directions from the Outdoor School.  I would not have been concerned except I was alone with my three kids AND there is no cell phone reception in this area.  That’s not the best combination!

The Hemlock Falls trail is slippery when muddy, so wear your boots!  Also, our youngest is 3 and she was able to manage the trail with a little help from me.  I wouldn’t bring much younger children unless you have them in a hiking carrier.  It’s very hilly.

The # to call for Mohican School of Outdoors:  419-938-6671

Hemlock Falls is located approximately 25 minutes south of Mansfield, OH or 30 minutes north of Mount Vernon, OH.

Where to stay:  I loved my stay at the Mount Vernon Grand, a closer option would be the Hampton or Best Western on the south side of Mansfield.

Have you been to Hemlock Falls? 

 

**This is not a sponsored post but may contain affiliate links**

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Spring Bucket List

Each season I like to make a family Bucket List.  This is so we are intentional about our time and enjoy the particular rhythms and events that each season brings.

We moved right after Christmas, so some of this list pays tribute to our new hometown- i.e. Find a new favorite bakery is at the top of this mom’s list #carbsfordays.

 

What’s on your Spring Bucket List?

Feel free to print this copy below, if you plan to do some of the same things we do!

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2nd year of homeschooling – planners, curriculum, and controlling the circus

It’s crazy to believe we are racing to the finish of our second year of homeschooling!  I’ve made changes to our approach this year, as I’ve learned more about myself and more about my son!

Last year seemed like the year of personality struggles and the big adjustment to schooling full-time.

This year feels like a full-blown attempt at scheduling & curricula.

Things you should know:

Momma doesn’t always know best (sshhh don’t tell anyone)

The hardest part of homeschooling for me, has been that I’m a recovering control-driven perfectionist.  I think every day should follow the schedule which is set apart in my happy little noggin.  Then, all of my dominion shall act like scholarly little subordinates who love learning and enjoy worksheets as much as a young Leah did. When do I get my way?  About 1 out of 15 days.  Maybe once a month.

I’m learning to choose my battles.  I go “old school” in that I try to focus all of my energy on that which I think is most important- reading, writing and arithmetic.  Then I read (to the children) some more.

Sometimes I’m discouraged because I feel like something I’ve chosen isn’t working for us and so I’ll spend a day or days or weeks trying to tweak.  I have to tell myself, THIS IS WHY WE DO IT…because we can tweak it and we can make our boy get the most out of it.

Basically, like most things good things in life, homeschooling is work and it does take some adjustments!

It’s hard to keep the troops in line

I really thought life with 3 under 4 was the 3-ring circus, well it turns out life with a 1st grader, preschooler, and energetic 3 year old can be just as hectic.  One of our major battles is distraction (which is probably true in a public/private school room, too).  The younger kids listen in for our read-aloud time (we’re on our third book in The Little House series) and Bible.  Beyond that, if they are wanting to be more involved, they’ll do map time during history or I’ll pull out some alphabet flashcards.  I also have age-appropriate workbooks if they want to join.  For preschool books, C has cheapos from The Dollar Tree.  Olen is very particular about any workbook (he’s my hands-on man) so I have these Star Wars books which he adores!!

Chewy                                                Anakin                                           C3P0

We live or die by a plan

One of the major changes I felt happened between kindergarten and first grade is that a schedule was even more important.  I’ve used a planner like THIS the past two years and I love how easily I can break down our days and still have a space to write the things I need to do, too.  I’m a planner by nature and I think Jackson needs to know what’s expected each day, too!

I usually only plan a week or two ahead.  Most of the time I do this while Jackson is working on math problems so it doesn’t eat time out of the evening.

A sample of last week’s planner

Due to The Plan, we don’t get out of the house as much as did last year.  In the spring and fall we’re playing outside, but I’m really missing the playdates and social time!  We DID just move though so I think we’re just generally missing our friends — along with March cabin fever.

Curriculum loves and hates

I shared in the recap of our first year about our curriculum choices.  We changed our phonics from A beka to Explode the Code and I’m thankful we did!  It’s just a much simpler format for both of us!  I ended up buying A beka 1st grade History because it covered US History and countries of the world, but I don’t love it.  I’m considering putting the boys in Classical Conversations next year- so if I do- we’ll have history covered.

We’re continuing to use Long Story Short for our Bible time and I really can’t imagine using anything else.

For science we’re bouncing around between some Charlotte Mason work and Our Father’s World.  I like both, but the Charlotte Mason is a nature study with many outside things and well, this is Ohio. 😉

For math we’re using Horizons Year 2.

New room

Maybe the most welcome change since the new year is that we now have a school room!  It’s still evolving, but I’m so thankful I’m not longer clearing books so we can eat, then cleaning the table so we can restart school.  Gosh, it’s just made the day a lot easier!

So that’s a little (800 word) update on what’s been happening at Yoder Academy.  What does your homeschool day look like?  Do you feel like you run a three-ring circus?  Any thoughts on Classical Conversations?

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