Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cost of Online school

I had a good question about the cost of online schooling. As far as fees, we pay a normal fee like what you would pay if we went to public school. That was it. There are some intial start up costs like school supplies (Paper, pencils, crayons, etc.) They gave us some of the paper and all of the books. The computers were the most expensive, but we just found some laptops for a really good price and figure that they will be useful in the future, as well, so they were worth it. I wonder if we had gone with a different online school, if there would have been a larger fee. We went with one in our school district so maybe since we lived in the district, it was cheaper? That might be something to look into....
The good thing was we didn't buy new school clothes and we don't have to keep buying school supplies for the rest of the school that were shared. We were always getting asked for money for this and for that. We don't have to buy school lunches which went up to $2.50 this year. OUCH! We don't have to pay an exorbitant amount for field trips. $9 just to take the school bus anywhere plus $5 for whatever it was they were doing. So I think it all balances out. :0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adventures in Online Schooling

click on photo to see it better
So at the beginning of this year, Rob and I decided to try an online school for our kids. This was not an easy decision. But the reasons for it were too great and we felt an urgency in making this decision. It was a personal decision. We don't think everyone should do it or everyone shouldn't do it. It was something that had to be done for our children at this point in our lives, but who knows what the future holds. I want to get the word out so that other parents will know that it is an option.

Having been involved in it for a few months now, I feel like I can better talk about my experience. If you have any questions about anything, PLEASE feel free to ask me! I don't know everything, but I hope I can take the fear out of it for those who would love to do it but just don't think they can.

So the reasons WHY we decided to do it....The kids were getting bombarded with inappropriate material while riding the bus to school 45 minutes, one way. They weren't allowed to talk about Christ in the schools. They were required to walk a mile to catch the bus. School was starting later and the kids wouldn't be getting home until 5:30PM and then have homework on TOP of that! Some of the kids were getting bullied to the point where the bullies would SEARCH out my child and try to make their life hell. At this stage their self-esteem would have been shot. So those are some of our reasons....

We looked at a couple different online schools and found one right in our own school district. It is fairly new so they are still working out the kinks, but I have LOVED it! We start our school day at 8AM and end around 12PM with lunch. The kids might have some little things to finish up, like reading or PE. We work until Thursday and turn everything in on Friday, so they pretty much have Friday off. Sometimes we even have Thursday off. We have gone to the Science Museum a number of times on our days off. The kids are able to explore and do experiments they wouldn't be able to do at home. Working closely with my younger kids has been so fun! Their writing has improved and their spelling has improved. I get to see exactly what is being taught and I can bring Christian themes into it if I so desire. How awesome is that!

I get asked a lot of questions about how we have everything set up so the picture at the top kind of shows what we have done. We have a little office space right outside of our bedroom and we just lined up desks around the walls. Each child has their own desk where they keep their books, school supplies and computer. They have a hook on the wall for their headset. The younger girls received a box of schoool supplies from the school district to use throughout the year. some of them are consumables and some items will need to be returned. They gave us a list so we know what they want back.

How does it work? The kids are assigned teachers that work with them one-on-one. They meet once or twice a week in a Virtual Classroom with all the other students and get a lesson or they can ask questions. I also get to talk to the teachers about any concerns I have. They can be reached by e-mail as well or through a chat room. The teachers post their assignments for the week and any other info we will need, like copies of worksheets we might need. I sit down on Friday before the week and mark all the pages that need to be done and make all the copies that need to be made and place them in their folders. Now we are into the routine so I don't have to be by their side all the time. They also have websites the kids can go to to do some of their work online for practice. It is AMAZING what is out there! If I ever have any questions or can't remember what a past participle is or something, I GOOGLE it! I find the answers I need everytime. It's nice because I'm re-learning right along with my children. LOL At the end of the week, I scan what the teachers want and submit it to a special place on the school website. Voila!
The teachers grade it and give feedback on their assignments so the kids can see. They receive an e-mail letting them know when it is ready. For PE they just have to be active for so many minutes a week and I keep track. I have them exercise with me so that's nice that I can get it in and they can use it as well. It's been great. Also, with online school the younger kids can take a language much earlier than if they were in school. They don't get graded, they just get to explore. The kids have so much fun with it, I use it as a special treat if they get all of their graded work in.

Jason is a little different. He is in Junior high so he has numerous teachers just like in Junior high. He is a little more independent. I can check online for his grades, though, so if I see he has a D then I get a little more involved and he has to answer to me for all of his assignments. He has really caught on now and is doing an excellent job. :0)

Well, I don't want to drag this on and on, but like I said, if anyone has any other questions, please let me know.
One last thing I want to add is, they really try to keep the kids connected. They meet in the "classrooms" with their fellow students, they have field trips with their fellow students, they have penpals assigned to them that they can talk to, and they get together with their teacher and other students during a face-to-face assessment, like we are doing tomorrow. The kids are so excited!
Okay, that is it!

Thanks for stopping by and reading me blabber on and on. :0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FINALLY the last of the reunion photos Part 1

The day before Teresa, Adam, and Dylan left, we went on a sight-seeing drive and hike. The first place we stopped was this mountain that apparently had an avalanche that changed that whole area. In this picture you can see where all the trees fell down the mountain leaving the dirt showing.

Here is all the debris. Some of the trees stayed standing and started growing where ever they fell. That was pretty cool.

We found a campground and had a picnic. It started to rain so we built a fire to get warm.

I LOVE Jason's smile when it is genuine. He is such a great kid and fun to be around.

On the drive back home, I saw the Teton mountains pop-up from around the hill and it was so amazing, I can't even describe it. The pictues just don't do it justice! You have to click to get a better view.

Here are some surrounding hills that were the prettiest colors. I would love to live out there somewhere when we retire and all.

This picture shows the Tetons with a river and a little waterfall coming into it. Beautiful.

This is just a random picture of the hail storm we got in JULY! Gotta love that mountain overpass.

FINALLY the last of the reunion photos Part 2

The last day of reunion we went to the Teton Valley County Fair! The kdis got to see and pet the animals and then we let them ride a few rides. They were VERY expensive as only Jackson Hole can be. We had to pay to see the worlds BIGGEST pig! But you get to see it for free! LOL

WE also had to pay to see the worlds smallest horse.
Parker is brushing the cow.

It was a hot day so the snow cones were definitely appreciated. I couldn't believe how BIG they were!

After the kids and the grandparents were wiped out, Rob, Spring, Lars and I got to take a ski lift up to the top of the mountain to see Jackson Hole. It just happened to be me and Rob's 13th Anniversary.

A storm was rolling in so we had to take pictures fast because they close down the lift when it rains.

The ski lift operator. He said he gets asked to have his picture taken a lot. Gee, I can't figure out why. LOL

Trying to get off the lift was fun. Rob used me as his leverage to get off which held me in the chair so I almost got to go around again. Thanks, Rob! LOL

Well, that is it! Finally....It was a fun and memorable time and hopefully we'll do it a couple more years. :0)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

That's right....MORE REUNION PHOTOS!

My brother, Alan , left on Tuesday of that week, but my sisters, Teresa and Spring, arrived with their handsome husbands.

Here is Adam. He is married to Teresa and they have the CUTEST little boy named, Dylan. I was so happy to see them!
This is Lars. He is married to Spring. He is the reason my son , Jason, wants to learn Chinese. :0) I'm so glad our crazy family didn't scare these guys off. They are a lot of fun.

Here is Grandpa chasing Dylan. Dylan is such a happy little guy. I love his gap-toothed smile. LOL Reminds me of Teresa when she was little.

My Gorgeous sister, Teresa. AS you can see, no more gap in the front teeth. LOL

Spring holding Dylan.

My brother, Bob, and his wife, Ewa. My grandpa was leaving the next day.

We played hand and foot that night with my Aunts. Here is my mom sporting her SpongeBob Squarepants pants.
Here are my beautiful Aunts. My mom on the left, my Aunt Joann with her adorable dog, Cooper, and my Aunt Marie. These women are amazing. They have come through some pretty great trials in their life and even struggle today with some things. They mean a great deal to me because they have such great strength and that gives me determination to get through what ever trials come my way.
Family has been on my mind a lot lately. I wish we were closer so that we could grow together, but I hope that we try to keep those connections that we formed when we were younger. We may not always agree, but we can still love each other. Those are my deep thoughts for today.
Thanks for stopping by and yes, there are more pictures to come. You DON'T want to miss those. I have some gorgeous pictures of the Tetons and surrounding countryside. B-E-A-Utiful!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


On day two all of the guys went to Jackson to work at the towing company. That left Grandma, Great-grandpa and I with all of the kids. So we decided to visit the Teton Valley Historic Museum. I mean, Why not? The following pictures are what happens when you give the camera to the kids. It was fun to go back later and see what they thought was picture worthy. The BEST part was seeing how Jason posed the kids for the pictures. It was hilarious. So without further ado.....

Click on the photos to get a better view.

You have to click on this one of Bryce being the teacher. Bug's reaction was funny. :0)

This photo is of devices used in the war. The soldiers would leave these little boxes lying around houses and when enemy soldiers took over the house, they would stupidly open these boxes and....

BANG! Jason thought this was pretty funny and therefore, the picture.

Bryce was horrified to learn that they had to use magazine pages to wipe with. He was also acting out that the out house must have smelled bad. LOL

The nice ladies at the counter took this picture for us. That concludes this tour. Come back for more exciting photos of the rest of the reunion. :0)

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


We finally got most of the Grout siblings together for a family reunion. Not all at the same time, though....My brother, Bob, and his wife, Ewa, flew into Denver and the next day we drove up to Driggs, Idaho, minus my hubby who had to work. I was a little nervous because my brother and his wife aren't used to having so many little kids around and here they were in a van with all of us for 10 hours. It actually went farely well thanks to the Fablehaven books on CD.

My brother, Alan, flew into Jackson Hole on his birthday. I didn't get any pictures of Alan. They went to Burley the next day for a wedding and I went grocery shopping. The next day my mom and I got up at 3AM to drive up to Montana to pick up my Grandpa Reed. It was an 8 hour drive. We got there in time to celebrate my grandpa's 96th birthday with my aunts and uncles and some cousins. That was a lot of fun. Of course, I am a bonehead and didn't think to bring the camera. I got to see some family that I don't get to see too often. Then we jumped back into the car and drove back to Driggs. We got back at 1AM. Needless to say, it was a LOOOOONG day. But well worth it. :0)

Here is my grandpa. He is my only grandparent left. I am amazed at how sharp he is for his age. He is an amazing man and I absolutely adore him. I'm glad that some of my kids will have memories of their great-grandpa.

While my mom and I were away, Grandpa Grout took the kids on a hike. The babies were in the stroller. Emi was running with Ty and the stroller tipped over. Ty got a little banged up. But he's still smiling. What a happy little guy.

I had to get a pic with Grandpa and the babies.

Fortunately, my dad was able to get this little camper to put the kids in. They had a great time sleeping in there. Unfortuantely, they used the toilet which wasn't hooked up. Ooops. But really, what do expect kids to do.....?

Here are the cousins playing and having a great time. I had to capture this while I could since you know how towards the end they start having little spats.

Here we are at a park that is close to my parent's house. We took a picnic and let the kids play. The babies had a blast tasting the pinecones and pine needles.

There was a sprinkler running nearby so guess who found it, in his white socks and no shoes.

Well, then EVERYONE had to join in, of course. :0) Except McKenna who just watched.

She loves to pose for pictures, though.
Tori had fun playing with the babies and they loved the attention. This was a sweet picture.

Great-grandpa and Grandma

Later that day, my dad had the kids go around in the empty lots nearby and find these rocks.
What are the rocks used for??

He uses them to make a border for his landscaping. My dad isn't above using children for labor. LOL

Here they all are finding the rocks and carrying them back to the house. I will mention that they did get quarters. AND they were very excited about it.
Even Josh got in on it. I think his contribution was the smaller rocks. LOL

It was a long but fun filled day.

Stay tuned for more pictures from the following days!