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Monday, December 5, 2016

Busy December in Our Homeschool

For some reason, no matter how well I think that I’ve planned things, December always takes me a little by surprise. Between holiday parties and activities, advent related studies, Christmas shopping, and winter weather, it seems like everything is going at double pace right when I’d like to slow down and relax a bit.

busy december 2016-001

So what have we been doing?

We have been doing our regular studies, for the most part.  The only thing I’ve dropped for this month is our science experiments for the 3 younger kids (the middles are still doing their science readings, though).

The 16-year-old has decided to organize his work by 2 week segments instead of 1 week or daily segments.  He calls them “zones,” which maybe doesn’t make sense, but he couldn’t think of what to call them, so zones it is.  He says this gives him more flexibility and he likes that.  I’m happy to see him taking control over his studies (this is a big win).

He is finishing up his study of Edgar Allan Poe and is trying to decide what to study next in the literature department.  He’s in the mood for Victorian something or other…got some ideas for me?  He’s also wanting to work on short story craft for a while, though we may work on timed essay writing instead (SAT prep!).

In addition to our regular studies this past week:

It wouldn’t be the holidays without baking.  These are marshmallow stuffed chocolate chip cookies made by my 16-year-old son:


This is the first tray, which was a teeny bit over-baked, but he turned the temp down a bit and the second tray was just golden brown and perfect.  He mixed up a standard chocolate chip recipe.  Then, instead of just putting scoops of dough on the baking sheet, he formed each scoop into a ball around 2 mini marshmallows.  They were especially awesome warm. He got the idea when he was peering over my shoulder and saw these on Chocolate Covered Katie, but I really think she might have gotten the idea from me (I posted this very similar recipe/technique back in 2011, right down to the number of marshmallows per cookie).  Funny how what goes around comes around.  His did come out gooey like hers, but he did not use vegan marshmallows.

We are also doing our yearly advent study. 


For the past several years, our standby has been The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean.  This year, we are also using Jesse Tree Ornaments by Kathryn Marcellino, which not only has these great reproducible Jesse Tree ornaments to color and cut out (ours are hanging across our kitchen), but a summary of the bible story and all the scriptural references needed to round out the story in The Jesse Tree.



My three youngest children take turns coloring the day’s ornament.  This has been going great (so far) and I highly recommend both books.

Emma has been on a fort-building kick, which means that on any given day it may be hard to find a place to sit down:


My Instant Pot arrived  last week (because I just couldn’t resist the Black Friday sale at Amazon).  So far, I have made barbecue chicken breasts, vegetable noodle soup, bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, and one pot pasta with meatballs and spaghetti sauce.

My 16-year-old calls it “Super Fast Pot with all the Powers.” This is after a family nickname we used to have for 7-year-old when she was about 2 (Super Fast Twilight Sparkle with all the powers).


I am still getting the hang of using it (the barbecue chicken was a little dry), but so far I’m really happy with this purchase---it is making meal prep a little less painful in the busy season.

The children have been exercising their artistic muscles.


This is Emma’s chalk pastel drawing. 

We survived National Novel Writing Month and 3 out of 4 kids reached their word goals.

We will take December off from writing and perhaps edit in January.

The children have drunk a lot of hot chocolate (make that coffee for the 16-year-old). The teen filled out his first job application and had his first job interview. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m doing any handmade gifts this year (I know, I know, I better decide, right?).

And I made some new subscriber only freebies for this holiday season…can’t wait to share those---be sure to hit that subscribe button up top so you don’t miss these, they will help you with last minute gift giving.


  1. Beautiful chalk pastel drawing and those cookies look so good! I am like you - no matter how well I think I have planned December, it always catches me off guard and feeling like I am three days slow. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year! - Lori

    1. Thank you, Lori! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, too. :) -Susan


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