Friday Flashback: A new year, a spa day, a snow day?

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This week was the absolute best first week back to school after an extended vacation. The fact that I spent most of Monday at the local day spa utilizing my husband’s 40th birthday present to me probably had a lot to do with it, but there were other reasons too — really, there were! I took a planning day right before the New Year to get myself in order, and it really made a difference. All I had to do Sunday night was make sure the girls’ “to do” folders were ready and supplies out so I could enjoy my Monday spa day in peace knowing that my hubby (who works at home) could manage to keep things moving forward without me. And it worked!

Books were checked out from the library, downloaded to the Kindle or in from The girls had their new daily agendas printed out in page protectors so they could check off their daily routine with a dry erase marker. We were ready to go and the week played out so smoothly and seamlessly!


My favorite thing this week was…

My spa day — no question about that! I spent from 9am-2:30pm being pampered like a princess and even enjoyed a healthy & serene spa lunch by myself. I enjoyed the relaxing treatments so much that I actually fell asleep during my massage for what I think was just a few minutes… I’m actually not sure how long, but I caught myself starting to snore — oops!


The girls’ school day went off without a hitch while I was gone. The girls couldn’t wait to hear about my spa day and inspect my pretty toes & fingernails when I got home.


I’m grateful for…

My thoughtful, dedicated and loving husband — not just for the birthday gift but for making me feel so good about retreating for the day. He is THE BEST!!!


In our homeschool this week…

We completed Week 5 of our six-week Unit Study on Christopher Columbus using Trail Guide to Learning Paths of Exploration curriculum. I really love the ease of use of each week’s lesson plan and the way we cover everything but math within our unit study (we also use POE’s Bible supplement).


In our lessons this week, we incorporated themes from our Columbus reading into poetry, learning how to write Cinquain poems.


Elise started back on her BOB Books, but I am reviewing the Red Set because I have found that she really benefits from regular review. To enhance the review experience, I downloaded FREE printable BOB Book supplements created by In Lieu of Preschool, and they were perfect.


We also dug up an oldie but goodie during our recent basement clean-out: The LeapPad Learn to Read Phonics Desk! It still works and is only missing two letters, which I am hoping will turn up when we complete the upstairs kids play area cleanup this weekend. Elise loves it!


The girls’ favorite things this week…

The highlight of our school week was making model ships today. We only had one buttermilk carton to use, so the girls got creative — employing some scraps of Christmas cellophane to both decorate and further waterproof a larger ship made out of a cardboard box. The Littlest Pet Shop crew was pleased with the results.


Elise’s favorite thing was being able to enjoy my new iPad Mini and the educational games I downloaded for her during little breaks while I worked with the older girls. (See my tips on where to find great apps for kids.) She told me that she really had “a lot of fun” in school this week, which means a lot coming from her:


My helpful homeschooling advice to share this week…

I love spontaneous projects. They are an easy way to inject some energy into a routine day and keep things exciting. I like to pin project ideas and free printables like this one: A memory jar journaling project, which I received via email from Paper Coterie this week:


If you haven’t started a Pinterest account, this is a really good reason to do so. How many times have you received an email newsletter from a magazine, Web site, or blog you like and thought, “I might want to try that someday.” Click on the link, pin it, and when you’re ready for spontaneous fun, do it!

Things I am working on…

This week I downloaded the new book “Desperate” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson to my Kindle. I have experienced truly desperate times in my journey as a homeschooling mama, and the thing that hurt me the most during those times was staying isolated. So my first instinct is to invite other moms to share the journey of reading this book with me.


My first mini project is creating a small book club with a few neighbor moms, and it’s already coming together! Next I am setting up a Facebook group for the rest of my friends who want to join us in an online book club. I am praying for God’s grace to pour into us all and refresh us like never before in this journey!

What happened to the snow day???

Due to a big storm moving our way from the Pacific Northwest, we were supposed to get snow today. My girls were VERY excited about it since most of the last snow has melted. So far it seems to be snowing everywhere else in the Denver metro area except Castle Rock.

It’s still super cold and windy, so the girls are watching Rapunzel instead:



Renee GotcherRenée Gotcher is a wife, writer, entrepreneur & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. A former journalist, Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She is editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

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4 thoughts on “Friday Flashback: A new year, a spa day, a snow day?

  1. hello there! i found you trying to find info on POE curriculum. WOuld you mind sharing a bit more in depth with me on what you’ve liked/not liked about it? My kids are currently in 5th, 3rd, 1st and pre-k. Not sure if i should pick up in the middle of this year since we are abandoning My Father’s World, or wait til next year! any info would be great 🙂 thanks, mandy

    1. Hi Mandy! I wrote a more detailed post about the reasons we left MFW and HOD to use Trail Guide to Learning (TGTL) that will give you lots of my “why” reasons, here’s the link:

      Once we were set on trying TGTL, I decided to start with POE even though my older two are in 4th & 6th because I wanted to start from “the beginning” of their series, and I use the middle school supplement to give my 6th grader more of a challenge. Since your older two are 5th & 3rd I think they’re the perfect age to start POE. We did not wait for a new year — I figured why wait, especially since you can download one unit at a time with POE. I thought we would do that first unit and see how it went before investing any further in another new year-long program. And it was an instant hit!

      What we’ve loved so far are:
      *Downloadable PDFs – I have spent so much money on books and lesson plans I didn’t use or finish, I like the opportunity to buy as we go and the immediate delivery of products with no shipping!
      *Book selection – I have been able to purchase most of the books used very inexpensively and a few off They are quality choices.
      *Student Notebooks – Both myself and my girls do better with some grade-specific work already laid out for us. The ease of using the ready-made notebook pages makes dividing up the work to their ability levels so much easier.
      *Unit Study approach – Everything but math is truly integrated into the unit study. It just flows much better to me and makes more sense. I like the read alouds, the discussion questions, the project ideas, etc.

      These are just the highlights. Hope this helps & best wishes on your homeschooling journey! Follow us on our blog for more of how our year with POE goes, I’ll be sharing lots here!

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