Best Christmas gifts for the homeschool mom

Homeschool moms wear a lot of hats:  teacher, principal, and curriculum advisor, not to mention their homemaking roles, financial advisor, etc.  While that may create stress the other 364 days per year, on Christmas Day it means many more options for gifts!

Here are my favorite Christmas gifts for the homeschool mom.  Some for her, some to make homeschooling easier.  The things she wants but won’t ask for!  Read to the end for a fantastic giveaway just in time for the holidays!

EXPO Dry Erase Markers

Let’s just begin with reality- Dry erase markers are equivalent to liquid gold in our home.  They can also cause mama to LOSE HER COOL when the kiddos steal them for their personal coloring.  Save her sanity and stick some of these in your homeschool mom’s stocking.  She will love you for it!

Field guide to trees and Field guide to birds

Our family takes many nature hikes and the children are always asking about birds and trees and well, they are not a part of my repertoire!  These field guides are helpful for any mom that enjoys the outdoors, or uses Charlotte Mason-type curriculum.

Best Christmas gifts for the homeschool mom

Office essentials

Homeschooling often happens at the kitchen table, but it always feels good when it’s a little organized and pretty.  These office items from Target are perfect for making the homeschool mom feel pampered.  The globe will help her with teaching lessons, the files and paper organizer are great for separating each child’s work, and the bookends are functional and cute!  (I have these bookends and I love them).


The Unhurried Homeschooler or Teaching from Rest

Not gonna lie, most homeschooling moms could use a little encouragement.  Reading books from those who have been or are currently walking the homeschooling road is one way to help!  Both of these books have been on my “to-read” list for awhile and both received rave reviews.


For the Laura Ingalls Wilder fanatic

It seems to me that nearly every other homeschool mom has read the Little House books to her kiddos.  We’re almost done with the series and this new scarf from Litographs takes Laura’s words right off of the page!  Or this novel based on the life of Caroline.  Every time I start whining about motherhood or cooking, I think of how much easier we have it than Caroline.

Amazon gift card

I don’t know how you could go wrong with gifting an Amazon gift card.  Hopefully she’ll use it on herself and not school supplies, but even then, it’s always a great gift!

Best Christmas gifts for the homeschool mom- a massage

Groupon for a massage

She needs an hour of quiet and relaxation, you want to save a few dollars.  Why not check Groupon for excellent savings?  A massage, a pedicure, or an hour at the spa- I doubt the homeschool mom in your life will be too picky about which gift you choose!

best gifts for the homeschool mom

A new t-shirt to show the world she’s a proud homeschool mom

What’s even better?  You could win one!  I’m partnering with 6Money’s Creations to give one reader a chance at winning one of these styles.  You pick the design and the t-shirt size.  (Rules: Must be a US Resident, drawing ends 12/7 at 5:00pm and will be chosen at random.  Must follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below for ways to enter).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Which Christmas gift is your favorite?

** This post contains affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. **


Homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

It’s hard to believe it’s our 3rd year of homeschooling.  It seems like I just had two in diapers and now I have two in school!  ((Cue the weeping))  A few close friends ask for homeschool updates, so without further ado, I’ll share what we’re planning this year while homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner.

If you want to read our past updates on homeschooling:

A really long post about our first year of homeschooling

Second year of homeschooling

The past two years I’ve focused heavily on reading and math.  My philosophy for younger kids is that if you can get them reading and doing math, the science and history and other puzzle pieces will all fall into place.

For Olen, our kindergartner, I’ll be focusing on those two things!  I feel like, unfortunately, since Olen was my middle one in the midst of 3 under 4, he missed out on some of the preschool work that I did with Jackson.  I’ll be doing the same Abeka K5 program for phonics and reading that I also did with Jackson.  The program is probably better suited to a small classroom or private school, but it did set a good foundation for Jackson so we’ll roll with it again.

Handwriting will be the ever-famous Handwriting without Tears.  We’re fairly certain that Olen is a leftie, so hopefully I’ll be free of tears, too, as I navigate trying to teach left-handing writing.

Homeschooling a 2nd grader and kindergartner - Handwriting without Tears

Jackson (2nd grade) will be starting the next book in the series of A Reason for Handwriting.  I really like this workbook and the way it helps us to also learn Scripture.

For math, we’re doing some catch-up and review via a School Zone Kindergarten workbook and flashcards, and then diving right into Horizons Math 1.  Jackson is nearly halfway through Horizons Math 2 and we should complete that this year.  I like Horizons, but I do feel like it moves at a quick pace.  I want my children to master a skill, not just ace the test.  I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing addition and subtraction with Jackson and let’s hope it haspaid off!  He’s starting multiplication this week.

For science, both boys will be studying Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, although I expect Olen’s role will be geared more towards just coloring in his accompanying Junior Notebooking Journal.

Homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

For history, we’re going to use the The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child and the accompanying activity book.  Because I love history, this was the hardest curriculum for me to pick.   I really like the Classical model, and I’m hoping this will be a good fit for our family!  I think I’ll be able to gear this for both boys based on the activities- Jackson will be able to do a little more than Olen, but I like that we can all work on it TOGETHER.

The Story of the World - Homeschooling a 2nd grader and kindergartner

For Ohio history, we’re planning field trips to Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio and the Johnny Appleseed Museum at Urbana University.  We’re also hoping to get to Marietta!

That’s probably all for Olen- while Jackson will have his own spelling, language arts, and phonics.

For  Jackson’s phonics, we’re using Explode the Code again.

I call my homeschool the hodge-podge method and it’s because I enjoy many different styles.  I’ve enjoyed many things by Charlotte Mason.  Last year we used a Charlotte-Mason based nature study called The Outdoor Secrets Companion and I’m sure that over the years I will revisit this combination of literature and nature.  For Jackson’s language arts we’re using Language Lessons for Today: Grade 2.

Spelling will be Building Spelling Skills- Book 2.

Building Spelling Skills- Homeschooling a 2nd grader and Kindergartner

We also spend lots of time developing our reading and listening skills by reading aloud.  Over the summer, the kids “earned” screen time by reading books and allowing me to read to them.  We’re reading through the Little House on the Prairie series and will finish The Long Winter this week.  Anyone have any suggestions for when we’re ready to move on from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder?

The Long Winter- homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

Per the State of Ohio, we’re to cover health topics like nutrition and body care.  I found this fun book called Nutrition Fun with Brocc & Roll and I think it puts a kid-friendly spin on how to read labels and I can’t wait to get my copy. I’ll be supplemented with some library materials like Nutrition Facts for Kids and Good Enough to Eat.

Nutrition Fun- Homeschooling a 2nd grader and Kindergartner

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention our darling Miss C. So far she’s been sitting at the table and doing many of the same things as Olen.  She hasn’t been as distracting as last year (but it’s only day 6!).  Today, when she tired of my instruction, she just went to her room and played with her dolls.  We’ll see how it goes as the year progresses.

Tell me- What’s your go-to curriculum?  Do you use any of the same things? I’d love to know!  


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**

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?

My 2016 Christmas List

Blogland is full of lists- Best gifts for travelers! Best gifts for boys aged 7-12!  Best gifts for dad!

This is the list titled– Best Gifts for Leah Yoder — fully egocentric and very specific.  Friends, since I can’t have a 10-day Pacific Islands cruise with my family (and a nanny), I’ve resorted to a traditional list.

I wrote this for 2 reasons.

  1.  So I don’t receive a turkey baster wrapped in a Target bag (We made it through that one, Mr. YT) 😉
  2. Because I want to know what you want.  So that’s your job in the comments.

So here’s my list.  Some of affiliate links (no cost to you, but the 20 cent commission may help Mr YT afford my taste in boots)!


#1- I love these boots.  We’re moving to the snowbelt and my Uggs are not going to handle the wet snow.  I just wish I’d had these in Canada.

#2- I’ve been wanting a functional world map- good for school and décor.  This one I found on Amazon takes the cake, and it comes with push-pins to mark where you have been!

#3- I’m a homeschool mom, and I’ve gotten this book from the public library more than once.  I think it’s probably time I buy it for our home library.

#4- I was born in 1983, right around the time Return of the Jedi hit the big screen.  So our names aren’t quite the same, but I still adore this mug!

#5- These beatitude bracelets by Mercy House Global are perfect.  I love the message- and I love that they support impoverished women.  I subscribe the Earring of the Month club- check it out.

#6- Have you seen prints by Lindsay Letters?  I’m thinking this one would be perfect for a gallery wall in the new homeschool room.

#7 & #8 We’ve started the Little House series for our read-aloud time of homeschool.  Through that, I realized that it would be helpful if our family had a set of our own (instead of having to renew it multiple times)!  I saw the Little House coloring book at T.J. Maxx and it is GORGEOUS, but I was too cheap to buy it ($10 for coloring?)  However, this could be 3 pm therapy for me and the littles! Lol.

So what’s on your 2016 Christmas list?  Boots?  Jewelry?  A nanny?  A turkey baster?


A visit to the Newark Earthworks with kids

Some of the best travel happens right outside your door.

We’ve lived nearly on top of the Newark Earthworks for the past 7 years, yet never really fully explored them.  When some nice November weather hit us this past week, I realized that NOW was the time to visit.


The Newark Earthworks are the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures IN THE WORLD.  The earthworks were built by the Hopewell culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D.   Over the years, the growth of Newark destroyed many of the earthworks (very sad), but three major pieces still survive.  We visited 2 of the 3 sites managed by the Ohio History Connection.

The Octagon Earthworks are on the grounds of the Moundbuilders Country Club.  While this is a private golf course, visitors to the earthworks can access this overlook any time of the year (just watch for flying golf balls).  The entire grounds is only open to the public four times per year (see the above link for details).

The earthworks are not considered burial mounds, researchers have concluded that they have some significance in aligning with the rising and setting of the moon.  Covering over 50 acres, the earthworks are mostly 5-6 feet high.


The Great Circle Earthwork is nearly 12,000 feet in diameter.  The space is vast – it’s hard to see one side of the circle from the other!  Not only are the mounds about 8 feet high, there is an interior moat that’s over 5 feet deep.  It’s believed that this large circle was used for ceremonial purposes.

A small, on-site museum shows the timeline 0f the Newark Earthworks to other great milestones in history.  There are also some Native American artifacts like arrowheads and ceremonial pieces.

In more recent times, the Great Circle mounds were used as a fairgrounds until 1932.  This use of the land is what saved the earthworks from destruction.




I would set aside 2 hours for visiting the earthworks with your children.  The Newark Earthworks are located 2.5 miles away from each other.  This is a fantastic outdoor attraction because the kids are able to run off energy while still learning about Ohio‘s Native American history.


Where: Newark, OH – 45 minutes east of downtown Columbus

When:  Best times to visit are May- October mostly for programming.  Check the Ohio History Connection for dates of historian-led tours.

Stay:  The Doubletree by Hilton in Newark has fresh cookies on arrival, an indoor pool, and an on-site restaurant.  Plus, enjoy walking to Newark’s new Canal Market District.  It’s a great hotel for a small city.

While you’re in town:  Check out Dawes Arboretum and Blackhand Gorge.

Have you visited the Newark Earthworks?  Maybe there’s another attraction that is in your backyard which you forget to visit? I’d love to hear!

A really long post about our first year of homeschooling

There’s nothing like celebrating the end of our first year of homeschooling with a little Alice Cooper. #notyourtypicalhomeschooler Ha!   As of today, we are d-o-n-e, done.  Now that’s not to say we won’t do some review over the summer or keep up with our daily kids’ devotional, but no more 4-days-a-week-2-hours-a-day for the next 3 months.

I’m going to break down what went well, what worked and what didn’t- mostly for my own reference to just.keep.swimming.  However, SO many people asked me about homeschooling this year.  Questions about curriculum to schedules to state requirements and even things like “Don’t you want a break from your kids?”  Only 3% of American school-aged children are homeschooled, so it is rare, and people want to know more- I totally get that!  So here’s my two cents- along with what I loved and what I didn’t love.

Things I loved/that went well:


Do you know how hard it is to get three kids out the door on a Sunday morning by 9:30 am when both parents are home?  HARD.  So I shudder at the thought that I would have had to either drive or walk Jackson to school every morning with two other children fed and out of their pajamas. I love the flexibility of homeschooling, to be able to easily maneuver our day around sick children, appointments, naptimes, and the like.

That said, I felt like I spent much of the year trying to find a weekly routine that worked for our family.  I started out trying to school mostly in the afternoon while the toddler slept, but I realized after the holidays that Jackson was pretty tired in the afternoons (as was I) and I was treating his lack of focus as disrespect even though he was just facing a drop of metabolism like I was (but without the coffee).  Since March we’ve moved to mostly doing school in the mornings (typically 9:30- lunchtime) and I’ve seen a small, but helpful, change in ALL of our focus.

I also adore the flexibility, not only on the daily notion, but as a whole.  A quick review of my calendar shows at a minimum, had he been in public/private school, my little man would have missed 5 weeks of school!  I’m sure some truancy officer would be sending me hateful letters.  In reality, I can’t imagine how much of life-altering on-the-road schooling Jackson would have missed had we not taken that time off.  Nonetheless, we DID do school when all of the neighbors were off for Christmas and Spring Break.

I like the idea that our school year can revolve around our travels and my husband’s busy/slow seasons at work.  We have talked about doing some type of private education in the future, and I think the flexibility would be one the single hardest things to give up.


In July and August last year, I spent a lot of time asking trusted homeschooling friends and acquaintances what their favorite curriculum was and why.  I tried to give them a feel as to where Jackson was at and get their feedback on what they thought would be appropropriate.  Since it was just kindergarten, I didn’t want to overwhelm him with a bunch of history/science/etc but just work on setting a good foundation for phonics, reading, and math. We also did a handwriting and Bible lesson everyday.

We used the following:

Math- Horizons Grade 1

Phonics and Reading- A beka K5 

Handwriting without Tears – Letters and Numbers Kindergarten

Bible- Long-Story Short: 10 Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God

I think what I picked worked really well for our first year.  I will continue to use Horizons next year.  My only complaint is that it really goes quickly from one item to the next, so I’ve been supplementing learning with a Rod and Staff grade 1 book and worksheets I find on blogs or Teachers Pay Teachers.   I think A beka worked well, but I am going to use something different next year.  While Jackson thrived with this, everything was formatted for a larger classroom and I disliked having to buy the curriculum that includes handwriting and numbers, when I didn’t want to use those.

We finished the Handwriting without Tears curriculum before our trip to Australia (I may have required too much, too soon), so since then we’ve been working through A Reason for Handwriting and we’ll continue to do a page/day next year.  While I’d like my kiddos to have nice handwriting, I worry that I’m teaching them a lost art.  I wonder if I should start teaching them to type!  😉

I didn’t focus on science and geography this year, although I know we did so much learning in Florida and Australia and during local field trips.  Our local arboretum also offers a preschool science class every other week and we attended most of them.

Things that didn’t go so well or I didn’t expect

Strong-willed child v. strong-willed mama

I always laughed when a comment was made like, “Wow, you must have more patience than me.” or “It’s great you have the patience for homeschooling.”  Let it be known, if there was a character trait I was to be praised for, it would NOT BE PATIENCE.  Because I did a little bit of homeschool for preschool- maybe 2 days a week for 45 minutes a day, I was naive about the process of schooling approximately 8 hours a week.  If ever there was a sanctifying process, parenting full-time AND teaching your children to read, write, etc, is THAT.  Poor Mr. YT fielded a lot of calls during his workday between a stressed out mama and a frustrated, antsy pants, little boy.  Whatever the cost of it though, we’ve both grown up (maybe me as much as the little man) and we’re resilient to keep going (his decision, too).

Time-management/playtime for Mommy

From having three kids in four years to having three kids and one needing to do school was a big change.  I would be lying if I didn’t say that much of that past 5 years was spent in survival mode, a cycle of diapers, dishes, and, eh, drama?  Once this Momma entered the world of teaching a child, schedules had to become more concrete and social time diminished.  I used to have many more playdates and outing during the week, but when most of your friends are also homeschooling, the time alloted to get together with other ladies and children is reduced.  Much of this has made me consider how doing a co-op would help with the social time for both the kids and Mommy– although the oldest needs no help to his sociability- TRUST ME.



The first year of homeschooling was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, years of my life.  I know that many may read this and think, “well if it’s so hard, why would you keep doing it?”  I ask myself once a week! No, really, most good things are never EASY things, and even when days were hard and exhausting, I remember how much Jackson has learned and grown (and how much I’ve learned in the process).

This process of growing up isn’t just for the kids, right?  Each new phase of parenting (and schooling), grows me, too.

I’m not sure we’ll always homeschool, but for right now we’ll enjoy learning new things while constantly being there to see every new milestone and learned skill.


Wahkeena Nature Preserve with Kids

This past fall a girlfriend and I packed up our kids and visited Wahkeena State Nature Preserve, the perfect day-trip for anyone in Central Ohio.  Located just south of Lancaster in Fairfield County, the Preserve is ljust on the northern edge of the Hocking Hills region.  Wahkeena is the Native American word for “Most beautiful.”  The unassuming vegetation of this area really is beautiful.

wahkeena header

Wahkeena 1

There are 2-3 different trails at Wahkeena.  These are short in length and fairly easy for children.  Watch for the local wildlife though! #Notafanofthisguy


There is no handicap-accessible route, so don’t plan on taking a stroller.  I carried our littlest in the hiking backpack.  This worked well except for the wetland boardwalk.  Two little boys on a moving boardwalk…hmmm…you can imagine! 😉

The Visitor Center is a must-see.  There are taxidermied animals (a little creepy), and real ones!  There are also fantastic diagrams showing how many bears, bobcats, etc have been spotted throughout Ohio.  Interesting, and a little frightening!  For ages 6-10 this would be the perfect place for a science lesson on habitats and environments.

Wahkeena visitor

The kids’ favorite part of the day was this barred owl.  He is kept at the Preserve due to an injury he sustained when he was hit by a car.  Owls are so majestic, the kids really enjoyed watching him.


Have you been to Wahkeena Nature Preserve?  It would be a great pit stop on your way to Hocking Hills from Columbus.  I think we’ll go back in a few years once my younger kids children understand a bit more.

More information

There is no designated picnicking spot.  We packed some sandwiches and ate them in the parking lot.  Lancaster is only 15 minutes away, where you’ll find many eating out options.

Want to try another hike?  Check out Shallenberger Nature Preserve.

Wahkeena State Nature Preserve is administered by the Ohio History Connection and managed locally by the Fairfield County Historical Society.  You can see the OHS website HERE.

For a more thorough review with up-to-date hours and schedules, on of the employees of Wahkeena keeps a blog HERE.

Who is Zane Grey, anyway? A visit to the National Road & Zane Grey Museum

national rd museum header

It’s easy for me to forget that history is literally all around us- sometimes we just need to do a little searching.  This week our family found a local jewel in the National Road & Zane Grey museum.  The museum is located only 10 minutes east of Zanesville in Norwich, OH on US 40, the National Road!

Run by the Ohio Historical Society, the museum features three exhibits focusing on: 1.) the building of the National Road 2.) Zane Grey, a local author who penned more than 80 books and 3.) local pottery.  When researching the museum, I wondered how our young family would take to these mature topics (especially 2 & 3) but there was so much for them, especially my boys.  I would highly recommend that all ages visit.

The museum begins with a diorama that measures 136 feet!  This diorama showcases the numerous stages of building and travel on the National Road, the first “artery to the west.”  The boys loved so many parts of this! Olen was mesmerized by the little figures cutting down trees and herding their animals on the road, while Jackson loved the section on the building of bridges and the beginning of railway travel.  As you walk around the diorama and learn about the evolution of the road, you also have full-size visual representation through a Conestoga wagon, Model T ford, and other carriages and cars from the time period.

National Road and Zane Grey Museum

The next section of the museum is dedicated to Zane Grey.  Grey was an American author born in Zanesville.  In his colorful life he wrote mostly Westerns, some that were turned into Hollywood movies.  While much of this material was too mature for the kids, they were fascinated by many of the artifacts, thinking these were the things of “cowboys and Indians” (oh boy!).

We did not spend much time in the pottery exhibit.  This is something I would like to come back and learn more about, but attention spans were fleeting and well, glass and little ones do not mix (although it WAS out of reach of children- thank goodness).

National Road and Zane Grey Museum

Considering a visit with kids?  

  • The museum is handicap-accessible which means you’ll easily maneuver your stroller throughout the entire place!
  • The bathroom has a large handicap accessible bathroom- which also fits a double stroller (win!)
  • There are picnic tables on the property.  If I had to do it over again, I would have packed a picnic lunch.
  • However, the museum is only 10 minutes from restaurants in Zanesville like Wendy’s, Cracker Barrel, or Olive Garden.

Museum website

P.S.  If you do decide to go into Zanesville, head up to Putnam Hill Park and check out a hilltop view of the Y bridge.  It really brought our learning to life as the kids were able to see how the bridge changed from when it was originally built!

Y bridge, Zanesville


What do I really want for my kids?

You may have gotten the gist from the blog that we plan to homeschool our children.





























Jackson is quickly approaching kindergarten and I’m knee deep in trying to pray and research and network my way into a curriculum that works for us.  I’ve passed on some knowing that this season where I still have two littles makes it a decision about what is best for all, not just for one.

After reading this article the other day (I posted it to my personal Facebook page), I was stuck on the fact that we continually desire for our children to know more and more.

I find myself yearning that my son (and all my children) be the best and brightest.  My motives are unclear though, sometimes it is for the joy of watching them excel, and sometimes it’s merely because it “toots my own horn” as a homeschool mom.  I feel torn almost daily between allowing him to just be a kid: play outside, run around the library, watch a few cartoons and wanting him to be a 5 -yr-old that’s on his way to a PhD through educational opportunities, bookwork, and field trips.  I’m not sure where you draw the line.

I constantly hear a quiet voice at the back of my head asking me, “When you look back at your child-rearing years, will you wish you would have taught him Spanish now or do you wish you would have spent less time worrying about the screen and snuggling up with him to watch a movie?  I’m not sure I know the answer and maybe it’s a mix of both.

Maybe my bigger question is, “How do I make them citizens of the world without making them think the world revolves around them?” 

I do believe our cultural switch in the past 40-50 years from teaching our kids hard work and instead sending them to dance, basketball, and Boy Scouts has only shown them that the world revolves around them and their activities.  I preach this as a woman that has continually struggled to give up “my rights” and care for my children and my husband.  Of course I want for my kids to be well-rounded and happy, but I moreso desire for them to be less self-centered and strong in their convictions.

Maybe all of this that I’m saying is something that you do not agree with.  I’m so glad I fell upon this blog about a mantra for mothers called, “Good for her, not for me.” 

I’m thankful for the opportunity to homeschool because I know that I can tailor the education to what my kids enjoy the most and will excel at best.  It works for me because while I love to travel, I don’t do well at running around my own town and being lost in busy-ness.

No curriculum, schedule, homeschool, private school, public school OR set of parents is perfect.   Parenting is a learning process in itself!  I’m thankful that God provides the grace when we fail- and that kids give us lots of grace, too (Mostly because they don’t know how much we are losing sleep over all of this).


What do you think?  Did you feel pressure to conform to a particular homeschool curriculum- or maybe even private school or public school?  And seriously, wouldn’t the world just be a better place if we all said, “Good for her, not for me?”   Come’on Moms, let’s do this!