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Not Back-to-School Blog Hop ~ The Students

I am FINALLY getting some pictures taken of the kids for our Back-to-School photos. We had our nature day at the park today, so I thought it would be a good backdrop. Little did I know that our little park would have a couple of brand new areas with beautiful foliage and flowers!

Eli and Brynne are my homeschooled students this year.

They are both in the 3rd grade. However, I have decided to kind of do a 2nd/3rd combination for this year for both of them, and a rigorous 3rd grade for them for next year. Brynne would be a super-young 2nd grader this year, but academically she is ready for all 3rd grade work. I'd like to slow her down a bit, though, so that she doesn't graduate from high school when she is 16. Eli was a slight bit behind last year because of birth-related neurological delays. Although he is very smart, he could certainly use a transition year before we blast forward.

The two of them are 19 months apart in age, but are cognitively at about the same level. That makes schooling them easy, for the most part. I can teach them the exact same material. But, they have completely different learning styles and strengths/weaknesses. Eli loves all things math and science and is a whiz. Brynne is slower at math, with less interest in science, but LOVES literature-based learning and social studies. He likes worksheets. She likes living out her subjects. So, that presents as a challenge at times. But, I just try to make it work, pushing them to try each other's learning styles and trying to give them enough of what they like.

One thing is for certain, though: They are best friends. They spend ALL their time together. They have their "moments", sure, but for the most part, they are content just being together. I have to give Eli his space sometimes, though, because he needs alone time and Brynne doesn't know that alone time exists. And, she mothers him to death, which he doesn't always mind. But sometimes even he hits his limit. I love it that they are so close, that they push each other to succeed, and are each other's biggest fans, by far!

This is Eli ... the sweetest person you will ever meet. He is 8 1/2 years old. He loves to play with toys .. any toys. He can take a mish mash of small toys and create a story that he will act out for hours. He loves to dress up, primarily as a Ninja, Indiana Jones, or a ghost hunter. He is tender-hearted, loving, and affectionate. He tells me he loves me many times a day. He is a rule-follower and likes very specific boundaries. He is a resister, however, always saying "no" to anything he is asked to do (usually by saying "ohhh man"). But then he does it without question. He needs lots of supervision and prodding in his work to get it accomplished because he drifts easily. He loves to laugh, so his favorite shows are America's Funniest Home Videos and Wipeout. He is very competitive, to the point that it freaks him out if his "team" isn't going to win. He is terrified of babies and storms. Every single person who meets him loves him. And he loves geography.

This is Brynne ... oh, my Brynne. She is a spitfire! If there was ever a person made for school, it would be her. She could literally do school from the moment she wakes up in the morning until the second before she goes to bed at night. And, some days she does just that. I have the hardest time keeping her challenged. Her favorite things in the world are her dogs and her brothers. She cherishes them all. We often say that she is going to be the ruler of something someday. It might just be her own home, or it might be a small country. She is my shadow and my mini-me. She mothers Eli so much that I have to ask her to please let me be the mother. I don't think she really thinks I'm capable without her, and she doesn't know how he survived until she was born. She loves to ride her scooter, play with Eli (doing whatever it is he wants to do), play Xbox with Dawson, and help me in the kitchen or with housework. She could go swimming every single day of her life. As confident and sure as she is about most things, she is also the biggest weenie when it comes to many things. I am always surprised at the things that scare her. Our days would be so dull without her.

And let's not forget Dawson! My sweet 6'3" son is a sophomore this year. If you have followed my blog, you know that Dawson is the reason why we started our homeschooling journey. At his request, we took him out of public school in the 8th grade and homeschooled him for two years. What a transformation that took place in him during those years. I have seen my punky little boy turn into an amazing young man. And I am so proud of him. Dawson is the most loyal and protective person I have ever met. He believes in Justice, and has a soft spot for anyone with special needs. He is incredibly smart and intuitive. In school he enjoys researching topics and discussing them. He's someone you just like to spend time with. He makes my life very happy. He is one who doesn't have a lot of friends. But the friends that he does have are his best ones! That's why moving to Missouri has been so hard on him. He had to leave his two best friends behind, and he misses them desperately. Thankfully, his absolute best friend came with him .... his 2 1/2 year old Border Collie, Crusoe. Crusoe is a boy trapped in a dog's body, and Dawson loves him more than anything in the world.

Dawson is getting ready to turn 16. When we moved, he decided that he would like to go back to public school. And I think it was the right choice for him. He is now going to a super small school where he can make his mark and not be just another number. I am so excited for him to experience high school life without all of the fear and loneliness he was experiencing in a huge school system. I can't wait to see what this year holds for him.

And last, but certainly not least, is Kyndal. There is one word to describe Kyndal ... INDEPENDENT. Last December, Kyndal decided that she would like to move to Missouri to live with her dad. And that's what she did. It was the most difficult thing I have ever gone through, and I still struggle with it today. But, she is not someone I need to worry about. She has a good head on her shoulders, makes relatively good decisions, and has always been mature for her age. It's been hard to just let her make her own way in life, but her personality demands it. She will be 18 in a couple of months, and is a senior in high school. She is going to a small high school in her dad's hometown, and is thriving there. However, she thrives wherever she is. She is just adaptable. She is a cheerleader and working at her uncle's restaurant. Kyndal is a social butterfly and spends every waking spare moment with her boyfriend or her friends. You cannot hold her down, no matter how hard you try. She is a free-spirit. My prayer for her is that she just embraces that and lives her life how she sees fit, not how she thinks others want her to live it (even me). Somehow I think she'll do just fine.


And those are the students on this Journey to Excellence. They are all in different places, three of the four of them not even doing what they were doing last year. But that's our philosophy in education. We want our children to thrive in the environment that is best for them. Sometimes that changes. We are very happy where all of our kids are at this year. It's going to be a great year!!

Now you can skip on over to iHomeschool Network to see everybody else's adorable kids.


  1. Awww. Those pictures are lovely! Eli looks like a sweetie. Boy would my James love to have someone like him to play with. James' current favorite play time is Star Wars, but I am sure that Indiana Jones would do! You can tell by Brynne's pictures that she is a go-getter. She just has that demeanor. And a fantastic smile! Good luck to Dawson. I found your blog about the time you began homeschooling him! I am so glad that your oldest daughter is doing well!

  2. Wow, what huge changes in the kids since your sidebar photos were taken! They sound like terrific people, too. You're obviously doing a great job, Nicole!

  3. I really enjoyed your descriptions for each of the kids...nice complement to the photos. I also admire that you are not afraid to meet your kids where they are, where ever they are.

  4. You know, Nicole, I think you're going to have a wonderful year! How nice that the youngest kids get along most of the time so well! All the best to Dawson heading back to public school. (If things go as planned, my oldest will attend a charter high school next year as a 10th grader too.) And to Kyndal as she finishes up high school!

  5. All your kids are gorgeous just like you *smile*
    The personality of your youngest 2 are similar to my Andrew and our Katie-girl (although they are not close in age, lol) =)
    Great pics!

  6. I am so excited I found your blog. The kiddos look great but we sure miss you here. Have a great year!

    1. Miss you guys, too, Cheri! Today at church, Brynne made a new friend named Harlee! She was so excited to meet another one. Hope you are doing well. Say hello to the kiddos!


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