23 December 2014


Sweet Pea finally officially heard from the last college. This has truly been a strange experience. This is the school she applied early decision to but it's the last one that she heard from. She sent in her application in early October and we thought, mistakenly, that since she applied early decision that she'd hear back pretty quickly. She got some mail from them, including information to set up an account on their portal and an email account. We'd check it but the only status was that they'd received her application. Nothing. She emailed the ski team coach to get more information from him since after talking with a student athlete at the school it sounded like as a snowboarder she'd be able to practice with them and keep competing through USASA. She got an email back from him and emailed with more questions. Then nothing.

I messaged a friend I know who has a freshman daughter at the school and asked when they heard she got in and how they found out. She said it was mid-December and they got a letter in the mail. OK, at least we can rest easy for a bit and know that we're looking for mail, not an email or a phone call. So about two weeks ago she got another email from the ski coach "Congratulations! I heard you were accepted..." Huh, news to us. And still nothing from teh school. On Sunday I told her to check her portal again and see if anything was updated there and if she didn't hear anything over Christmas break to email them and ask in January when offices were open again. Yes, on the portal it looks like she's been accepted. Weird.

FINALLY in yesterday's mail was the official acceptance letter. I haven't had a chance to read it yet (we got home late from celebrating Christmas as my mom's house) but she was accepted, was offered merit scholarships (like the other schools), and was admitted into the Honor's Program. Very exciting! Now the tough part, figuring out which school will be the best fit for her future goals.

12 December 2014

Getting Acceptances

Well, the acceptances are starting to roll in. Shortly after we got back from our trip to New England, Sweet Pea got an email from Green Mountain College letting her know she got in. The funniest part of this is that she never completed her application. A few weeks later, she got an email from Johnson State and they just needed her recommendation and would get her an answer in a week or so. This was right before Thanksgiving so it did take longer than a week but she also got in there. She got a phone call from them telling her she was accepted and she just got the official letter in the mail yesterday. Also in yesterday's mail was this envelope...

Yep, she got into Plymouth State University as well. She's excited because it's her first choice, but it also makes it more real for her and that's making her nervous.

The funny, ironic thing is that she still hasn't heard from the University of Maine yet and she applied there early decision. Hopefully she'll hear from them soon. Then the real stress will begin, which school to choose. I think probably any of them would be good, all have given her some good scholarship money, it's just going to be a matter of what's most important to her. So for all you out there worrying, yes, you can homeschool and get into the college of your choice.

02 December 2014

Waiting is Hard!

All the college applications are in and have been for a while. All the schools she applied to have rolling admission so we thought we'd hear sooner but as of now have only heard from one college. She got into Green Mountain College in Vermont. After our visit there it fell to the bottom of the list, but it's good to know she's been accepted somewhere. I'll admit it, it validates all the hard work we've done over the years and I feel like I got the stamp of approval even though it really has nothing to do with me. We're still waiting to hear from the other three schools. Hopefully we'll hear from UMF in the next couple of weeks; I have an online friend whose daughter goes there and she said her daughter applied early decision (as did Whitney) and heard in early December. She should be hearing from Johnson State soon as well; she got an email from them saying they had everything except her recommendation and once they had that she'd hear in about a week. No word from Plymouth State at all. Waiting is hard.

08 November 2014

Colleges in Review, Part 2

After visiting UMF and Plymouth, we went to hang out with my sister-in-law for a few days and visit a couple of colleges in Vermont. We had a bunch of fun with my 3 year old nephew but on the agenda was Green Mountain College and Johnson State College.

First up was Green Mountain College. It was in a really, really small town in a flat valley near New York. You could actually see NY from the campus, it was just past the farm and on the other side of the river. The town (Poultney) had three churches, a couple of cafe-type places, a grocery store and hardware store and not much else. It was about 20 minutes from Rutland which is a much larger town. You drive through this really small town, down Main Street, and the campus is in front of you on the edge of town. We went in and there was a welcome sign for Whitney. We took the tour and there were some pretty interesting things about the campus. For one, most of the buildings have classrooms on the main floor and dorm rooms on the second and third (if there's a third floor). The basements hold different things - in one building there's a bike shop where you can work on your bike or have someone help you with it, in another there's a dance/yoga studio.  The library was really nice and I liked their tutor system. There's a farm on the edge of campus where they grow food (produce, pigs, and chickens for eggs) that's used in the dining hall. The tour guide said that a lot of the food was locally sourced, which would be easy in that area. Whitney also spent some time talking with the guy in the Green MAP office, the outdoor club. They have skis to rent/borrow and lead all sorts of adventures hiking, skiing, etc. Sounds like it was really active and a great opportunity for Whitney to do stuff and get into leadership there. The down side to the college is the Vermont-y vibe we both were getting and Whitney didn't like that much.

When we were done the tour, she met with the director of admissions for about 10 minutes then I went up to talk with them. They had a good conversation, Whitney talked about her outdoor experience both with the family and working. When I went up we talked a bit about the school and also finances. Overall we left with a good impression but felt it wasn't the school for her.

The next day we went up to Johnson State College. We drove through lots of small towns to get there including Stowe, passed Ben & Jerry's but didn't stop. The college is again in a small town but this time there was no bigger town nearby. We did find an area outside of town/next town over that had a couple of fast food places, big grocery store, drug store, etc. Johnson is bigger than Poultney but to get to the college you go into town, turn right over the river then go up the hill and the college is pretty much the only thing up there. Again we did the tour and saw the campus. It's nice, a newer college; nothing seemed much older than the 1980s. Whitney went in thinking she wasn't going to like the school and ended up liking it enough to keep it on the list as #3. The built up part of the campus is small but they own a lot of land, enough that they have their own terrain park. Too bad Whitney isn't interested in riding the rails.

After we finished the tour, an assistant director of admissions happened to walk in behind us. We had a nice chat with her, got some more information about the college, and I asked some questions about Whitney applying as a homeschooler which really seemed like no big deal to them. Whitney had planned to wait to apply until after we got home to see if she liked the college enough to apply, which she's done.

So that was our grand tour of colleges, the Open House at UMF, a drive/walk through again at Plymouth, and tours at Green Mountain and Johnson State. Now the waiting game begins, all her applications are in, she took notes right after each visit, she's reranked the schools, and now we see where she gets in before the real angst starts and she has to make a decision.

05 November 2014

Colleges in Review, Part 1

We're back from our trip to New England visiting colleges and it seems just in time. There was a big Nor'easter on Sunday and they got snow, at least in Maine. We had a good trip and visiting the colleges definitely helped provide some clarity.

First up was University of Maine at Farmington. We got to the hotel late Friday night but it was pretty easy to find. In the morning we went into Farmington and found where we needed to go on campus. The open house started in Merrill Hall and included a welcome from the Director of Admissions, the President of the college, and a student. The president is a hoot! From everything we saw and heard about her, she's well liked by the students and very involved in campus life. After we finished there we went to one of the other buildings to meet with some of the professors from the business program. Whitney is interested in ORBA - Outdoor Recreation Business Administration. There were only three students there including Whitney, one was also interested in ORBA, the other was looking at business psychology. Since it was a small group it made for some pretty good discussion and we learned a lot. There was quite a bit of discussion about the required internship and we found out that with some coordination with the director of Camp Highroad she'd be able to do her internship there if she wanted. They'd have to have her do more than camp counselor or leading groups on the ropes course but it could be done. Whitney had a better feel for the program and the requirements when we finished talking with them. We stayed to hear what the social science professors had to say during the next session, which was interesting.

We had lunch in the dining hall, actually brunch since it was a Saturday. They had a sandwich bar, salad bar, looked liked an area for soups, and a buffet line set up with hot breakfast stuff and more lunch/dinner type food. The food was good and the dining hall was nice. We happened to sit at a table with a man who works at the college and had a really good conversation with him, mostly about what Whitney was interested in and how much snow they get in Farmington. After lunch we took a tour of the campus. We weren't with the best group (most of the kids were younger high school students) but the campus is nice. When we finished the tour, we made a quick stop at the bookstore then walked around the town some before meeting my aunt and uncle for an early dinner. The town is small, the campus is small, but it sounds like it's a pretty active campus if you like getting out and going - hiking, on the river, skiing/snowboarding, anything outside. There really isn't too much in town but there is a small movie theater, a few stores and cafes, enough for a small town.

We also had a chance to talk with the student that spoke in the morning. She's on the basketball team and was the point of contact for any prospective students that weren't able to make it to the sports discussion in the morning. The athletic director and a few of the coaches were only available in the morning because they had to be at a soccer game in the afternoon so Whitney didn't have a chance to talk to them. It sounds like the ski/snowboard team is pretty active and they'd welcome Whitney onto it to work out and train. It also sounds like they'd be willing to work with her so she'd be able to keep competing.

We stayed overnight in Farmington then drove over to Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. As we crossed the river and went around the traffic circle, Whitney commented that she forgot how pretty it is there. I'd agree that Plymouth probably has the prettiest campus of the ones she's looked at but UMF was nice as well. We parked and walked around campus and around the town a bit since it was Sunday and she'd already taken a tour there. We stopped in an artists co-op and bought a couple of things. Since this was the first non-snowy time that we'd been to Plymouth, it was nice to walk around and see the campus and town as well as some of the surrounding area.

Verdict so far -

UMF - Nice campus, probably the best program (it integrates outdoor learning well with the business), sounds like it offers her the best chance to keep competing in snowboarding while studying

Plymouth - prettiest campus, good program in outdoor education where she could get a minor in business

Both schools are within an hour of several good ski areas where she can snowboard and also work. Both have ski/snowboard teams or clubs as well as an outdoor club for her to get involved with to do things other than snowboarding.

21 October 2014

College Visits

This fall has been flying by! We've been busy with college applications, school, work, and life in general. I'm glad that for the most part the application stuff is finished. Now it's time to hit up a few colleges so informed decisions can be made once the acceptance letters come in.

First up on the schedule is the open house at the University of Maine, Farmington. From what we've seen online, the town is small and the school is very small. Sounds like almost the perfect place for Sweet Pea. The open house includes lunch on campus, campus tours, meetings with faculty, and I'm not sure what else. It should give her a good feel for the campus and the goings on there.

Next up will be another visit to Plymouth State University. We were there in February and took a tour then, which included lunch in the dining hall. Since we're going to be up there way again we wanted to stop here again to refresh memories and make sure it was still #1 on the list. We won't be meeting with anyone but walking around campus and getting a better look at the town will be nice. We've been there twice in the winter, once over Christmas break when it was brutally cold and windy then again in February which wasn't so bad. It'll be nice to check it out in the fall when we can walk around town, see where some of the other buildings are that we didn't get to before, and get a better look at the local area.

The last two schools are in Vermont, Green Mountain College and Johnson State College. Both offer the major she's looking for, both are near ski areas and in small towns. They seem to be what she's looking for, I guess we'll find out when we get there.

I'm excited about the trip, it's a great time of year to be heading to New England. We'll have some free time to spend in the mountains and driving around will be amazing with the leaves at their peak or just past. Hopefully when we get back she'll be able to say these colleges are still on the list, but this one dropped off. If nothing else, she'll have a better idea of what they all look like and offer so she can make a better decision. Now we just wait on the acceptance letters.

12 October 2014

Food Fun!

Probably one of the best classes going on this year is Food Science. Both girls are working on it and we've been eating pretty well while they're learning about cooking and baking. Sweet Pea is working through Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food and Rosie Jane is doing his I'm Just Here for More Food. We loved "Good Eats" when it was on the air and these books are like an extension of the show. They describe the how's of cooking/baking and the why's of doing certain things. When the girls finish the book they are working on, they'll switch which means cooking and baking all year!

Here's a few samples of what they've been cooking.

These kabobs weren't from the cookbook, but the resting method's in there.

ricotta clouds

my chef, hard at work

Dutch baby bunnies (oh, so good!)


roasted tomatoes

the roasted tomatoes made into soup with the saltine stars
More good things will be coming!

10 October 2014

October Already?

It's been a crazy start to the school year. We started later than I wanted because Sweet Pea was busy working extra time at camp, then we got a few weeks of school in before Bob and I went on a cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We had a wonderful time in Maine and Canada and enjoyed being off by ourselves. The girls were at home busy with school and the rest of their stuff while we were gone. They mostly were able to keep moving forward while I was gone, but math was an issue for Rosie Jane and science was a problem for both of them, especially since I forgot to leave assignments for RJ. Oops. 

Now that I'm back it's time to finish college applications, get caught up on grading and reviewing work, updating records, and planning what's next. The year is moving by rapidly and we have things to accomplish before the snow starts to fall and we get immersed in snowboarding and winter fun.

06 September 2014

Week 1 - Done!

Well, we made it through the first week of school. The girls haven't started all subjects yet but they will this week. Sweet Pea had a bit of a misunderstanding/miscommunication about her online government class and when assignments were due. She was stressed and working late to get things turned in and thought they were late so what was the point of turning them in...as it turned out, she wasn't the only one AND her current events report was the one the teacher held up as an example of how she wanted them done. Big sigh of relief! Rosie Jane starts her history/lit class this week, hopefully it'll go well. I think it'll be interactive enough for her that she'll enjoy it. We have a busy year ahead of us but I'm looking forward to it. The best thing I've heard in a while was something Rosie Jane posted on facebook this morning: I survived the first week of school! Luckily I have a great teacher to keep me focused. I'm happy that she thinks I'm a great teacher and wanted to announce it to her little part of the world.

02 September 2014

A Last First Day of School

It's the last first day of school for my oldest. She's a senior this year and will likely be off to college next fall. I'll still get some sort of first day of school picture but it won't quite be the same.

It's been a long day here, getting back into the swing of things, but I think it'll be a good year. We need to get over the hump of college applications with Sweet Pea then see if she can't get a lot done before snowboarding season starts. She's hoping for early snow again this year but that means a long season, which is good and bad.

The Senior
The Sophomore

Here's to a good year!

22 August 2014

The Big Push to Day 1

The girls are gone yet again this weekend (they left yesterday). I'm going to take the time to finish getting the school books and area organized, start writing down assignments for them, and generally getting ready. I plan to start school on Tuesday since they'll finally be home. It'll be a rather choppy week though since they have dentist appointments on Wednesday and Sweet Pea is working on Thursday at camp again. While I had planned to start last week, they need to be here and it looks like next week is as good as any to get going. We'll ease in with two 4-day weeks, then it'll be full weeks until about Thanksgiving. Sweet Pea will be working here and there at camp so she may be out some, but she'll need to figure out how to balance work and school, with school being the more important thing. Hopefully having me around to keep an eye on her and how she's keeping track of everything will help her figure out how to do this so she can do it better on her own next year when she's off at college.

I'm not sure how much we'll use the school area this year. They both have mostly migrated to their rooms to do their work. They both have an online class this year and I know Sweet Pea will use the computer in the school area since her laptop is old and slow. At least their classes are on different days.

I'm still waiting on the last few books to come in. I think I forgot to order a few but maybe I'll check the library first since I think they're ones that are going to be used for a short time. I still need to flesh out a bit more the history of dance class but otherwise I think we're good. I guess I'll find out in the next few weeks!

16 August 2014


Books are the lifeblood in this homeschool. We use books for history, science, and even math. Not boring textbooks, although a few of those have crossed the threshold here, but what are called "living" books, historical fiction, a few fiction, non-fiction, even the math books are written with a story line (Life of Fred books). I'm way behind this year in ordering books, behind in starting school (students need to be here in order for school to start and they're not, they're still busy with summer jobs), behind in everything really. I spent some time yesterday going over the girls classes and finalizing what books they're using this year so that this morning I could get online and order the books we need to get started. I know I'm not the only one still looking for books, I see posts on facebook and other places of people looking for school books so they can get their year started as well. Now I just need to get my girls home for longer than a day or two so we can get started.

09 August 2014


Sweet Pea has been gone most of the summer working at camp which has made it hard to research colleges and find ones that will be a good fit for her. She already had two on her list, Plymouth State University (which we've already visited) and University of Maine, Farmington. Both have a program that she's interested in, are the right size, and in her preferred location. I really thought she should have more than two colleges on her "apply to" list so I spent some time looking around for her.

One place to start is the College Board website. I didn't find it very helpful in our case. I searched by major and found very few colleges, even ones that I knew had the major, even when I used the exact wording of the major at the college. Instead I decided to go to Google and see what I could find there. Jackpot! I found quite a few colleges, did a bit of research on some of them to help her make a decision if they were worth keeping on the list or not.

This morning we went through the whole list to decide if each school was a definite apply, need more info/likely apply, need more info/maybe, or a no. One came off the list, one made it to the maybe list (the location wasn't what she was looking for), and the rest were split between apply for sure and need more info/likely apply. Most of the schools are in New England, although there's one in Colorado, one in Nevada, and one in British Columbia, Canada. I think the last one is going to likely fall off the list, it's too far away and a bit...different.

We had a good discussion today. We both have more work to do. I'm going to pull together what's needed to apply and a few more important bits of information for each college and put that into a spreadsheet for her. She's going to be going back to the college websites and looking more closely at the ones she needs more information about to make a decision.

The other thing she did today was to open an account on the Common Application website since several of the schools she's got on her list use the common app. A few of the schools you can optionally use the common app or their own and I think at least one or two only use their own application.

I tell you, dealing with college applications is not for the faint of heart! We're really just at the beginning and I have a feeling we have a long way to go until next fall when she leaves home to her college of choice. Then I'll have to do this all over again with Rosie Jane, which might be more complicated if she decides to play golf in college and we have to do the NCAA paperwork to get her certified to play.

28 June 2014


I've made some good progress on the school to-do list this week. I've finalized almost all of their grades from this year and updated their transcripts. I haven't started on the course descriptions yet for this year, so that's on this week's list. I'm going to focus on the more unusual classes, the ones that the course title doesn't make it obvious what the class covered. I guess I also need to tackle the NCAA stuff before it gets too far out of mind.

Besides finalizing things from last school year, I'm working on next year which I know will be here sooner than I'd like. I've already ordered a couple of things from Amazon and I think I have my list finalized for Rainbow Resources. I also started working on schedules for a few classes already. Cryptozoology is done, just need to find a few more books, meteorology is sort of done (text is ordered so I'm waiting for that to come in before I can finish the schedule), geology is started (still looking for a text to go along with the dvd). Much more to get ready for school.

15 June 2014

AACK! End of the Year

So we wrapped up the year on May 30 then left right for vacation. That means that I'm behind on so much! We had a good time on vacation but now I need to get moving on school admin stuff. I have things that still need to be graded and figure out final grades, update both girls' transcripts, get rough drafts of course descriptions written and print out book lists, work on NCAA paperwork for Rosie Jane's freshman year. That about takes care of wrapping up last year. Then I need to finalize the courses the girls are taking this fall, figure out what books/texts they're using, and start ordering books. I also need to get our paperwork into the county for next school year.

I think I need to get a list written down, prioritized, and start working through it this week. We plan to start school again in early August since we'll need to be done by the end of May so I need to get working on things.

17 April 2014

Thinking About Next Year

Snowboarding kind of took over my life for a while late in the winter but now it's time to get to thinking about next year. Hard to believe but I'll have a senior and a sophomore in the fall. I've talked to both of them some about what they'll be doing next year and things have changed a bit since our first conversations earlier this year. For a few classes, I've already decided what they're going to be doing and what we're using, for others (mostly electives) either I've given them a choice of things or they've given me a few ideas to look into for them.

Sweet Pea, the senior

Government (semester class using Sonlight)
finishing trig, then calculus (Life of Fred)
Literature (semester of classics/semester of American)
Food Science
Art history

Other things we're thinking about - meteorology (probably will do this), continuing French and Russian (need to figure this out, probably some sort of self study for French)

She'll also be applying to college, writing college/scholarship essays and working on her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Rosie Jane, the sophomore

American history
American lit (both of these will likely be an online class through CurrClick)
Algebra (Saxon)
probably Marine biology or maybe Geology
Home Ec

Other things we still need to figure out - German (again, probably with OSU although we may wait until next year and she can take it at the community college), art/music history, history of ballet/modern dance, maybe art at the local co-op. Most of these things she'll be doing, we just need to figure out if it's this year or next year.

It's going to be a busy year for both of them, but we're going to find ways to enjoy it!

02 March 2014

First College Visit

We were in New Hampshire visiting family and took advantage of being there to add a college visit to the itinerary. Bob, Sweet Pea, and I went to Plymouth State University for a look around. We took the official tour, had lunch in the dining hall, and got to catch up with an old friend of mine who works there.

This is Sweet Pea's top school at the moment so we really wanted to get her there to take a look around to see how she liked it in person. Turns out, she liked it a lot. The tour took us through an academic building, she got to see a dorm room (bigger than she was expecting), the student union building and it's gym and fitness center (the athletic fields and arena are down the road, across the river), and finally the dining hall. After the tour, we ate lunch and the food was good. She really liked that they had a salad bar.

We went back to admissions so I could talk to someone about her transcript. The director of admissions talked to us and really liked her transcript.  That's a good thing. I never did get a clear answer if they want course descriptions so I guess I should work on those so if they do want them, I'm not in a rush to get them done by a deadline.

When we were done in admissions we went to meet my friend. She works in the student services office. It was good to catch up with her since I haven't seen her in over 15 years. It was also good to get a really good idea about what the student services office there offers, lots of study helps for all students, not just those with an IEP.

So all in all a good visit. One more coming this summer - University of Maine, Farmington. We'll head up there sometime in August.

I think it will be a tough decision because both campuses are situated in similar places - small town New England, close to the ski slopes (very important), they are similar in size, and offer similar programs. She'll have to dig into more details about her intended major to figure out which might be better.

29 January 2014

It's Been One of Those Winters

It's been one of those cold, snowy winters, even here in Virginia. We got another inch of snow last night and it's about 16 degrees at 1:00 this afternoon. We've had a lot of really cold weather, we've had snow (although it's usually been too cold out to play in), and the public schools have been closed quite a bit this month. We still have February to get through and most school systems have already gone through all their built in snow days. I'm so glad that we homeschool. By this time, if my girls were in public school, they'd be climbing the walls of boredom. The Wii and computer can hold their interest for only so long. Since we homeschool, they've pretty much been moving right along, school as normal. It's a good thing since we've got a firm "finish by" date this spring.

23 January 2014

The Busiest Time of Year

We are now into our busiest time of year. Since mid-December, Sweet Pea has been snowboarding which means that Wednesday and Thursday afternoons she's got to wrap up school and head to the ski slopes for practice. She's on the snowboard team at Massanutten Resort and competes in snowboard cross through USASA. The biggest issue is that we live two hours away from Massanutten. Yes, I do lots of driving this time of year. Besides the Wednesday and Thursday practices, she's also got practice on Saturday mornings. While she wishes for a teleporter, she loves snowboarding, has been learning a lot of new skills (including patience), and can't wait to compete in the next few weeks. Hopefully she'll do well enough to get another invite to Nationals and we'll have a spring break trip to Colorado.

Right now Sweet Pea has something going on every day of the week, between snowboarding, work, bible study, and church stuff. Rosie Jane is keeping me busy as well, when I'm home, with her dance, babysitting, and church stuff. One issue we have right now is that one of our cars is in the shop so I'm back to driving both girls all over. My day is mostly spent helping with school, getting the basics done (laundry, grocery shopping, cooking), and driving to the mountain. Can't wait for April to come when things will slow down a bit.