Thankful, so thankful


Day 5 of YES

From the book:

I Declare I am grateful for who God is in my life and for what He's done. I will not take for granted the people, the opportunities, and the favor He has blessed me with. I will look at what is right and not what is wrong. I will thank Him for what I have and not complain about what I don't have. I will see each day as a gift from God. My heart will overflow with praise and gratitude for all of His goodness. This is my declaration.

I like to think that I’m a pretty positive person.  I’m more of an optimist than a pessimist. But I’m not happy right now and I’m just a leetle depressed.  Christmas is rough on me.  I miss my parents so much at this time of year.  So many of the traditional activities of the season are things that I shared with them.

And it all just stirs up feelings and thoughts and memories – some of which I love and some of which I wish I’d forget.  All the things said, all the things left unsaid.  All the things that need to be forgiven.

But after last week’s tragedy and other events from last week, I definitely look at today with eyes of gratitude.  My babies are safe.  My husband is safe.  We are all ok.  We have a roof over our head, gas in the car, and food for our bellies.

Time4Learning: My Review

A few weeks ago, I was asked to review Time4Learning, an online education curriculum for preschool through 8th grade.

I was curious about it.  We have used another online learning site and really liked it but it is definitely for the preschool and kindergarten crowd.  I was interested in this because my kids could stick with it for a while.

I thought that the lessons were good.  However, there wasn’t a big “START WITH THIS THING RIGHT HERE!” so I had to decide where to start.  I thought that the concepts were excellent and in line with what we’re doing with our curriculum.  However, I felt that the graphics were really ugly, especially in comparison with it’s competitors.  Maybe they appeal to children more than adults but still…

Here’s the thing: Phoebe hated it and, after playing with it a couple of times, absolutely refused to do it.  She told me that she wanted her other computer game (the other online site) and she didn’t want to play this one anymore.

Had I had more time with the product, I might have been able to get her around to it eventually and I may try it again in a few months.  I thought overall, it had good material even if I thought it was ugly.

Disclosure: I received a full month of access to this product in exchange for my review. 

Trial by Fire.. sort of


Day 4 –

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)


From I Declare (paraphrase):

It is not too late to accomplish everything that is in my heart.  He is giving me special grace to complete everything He wants me to do. He has every intention of bringing to pass the desires of your heart. Don’t let disappoints cause you to give up and settle where you are.  Every set-back gets you closer to where you want to go.

Forgive me for not writing more about what happened Tuesday.  It was a day from Hell.

Basically, hubby found out last week that Tuesday would be the day that the layoffs were gonna happen.  We’ve known for a few weeks that they were coming – his upper management told them about it right before Thanksgiving – but we had no idea when they would happen.  Hubby and I basically got ourselves ready for the worst case scenario – that he would be laid off with pay for a few weeks and health insurance through March and I started looking at his resume and basically getting myself and our budget ready for cutbacks.

I’ve talked before about our budget and how tight it is.  It is still tight but I was actually considering skipping Christmas presents altogether except for the kids with a potential layoff in the works.  We are still on a very tight budget for Christmas and I’m hand making a few gifts to cut back.

Our budget is tight because of several commitments that we made – medical bills namely.  We are on payment plans still because of all of the medical issues in 2011.  Two hospital stays, numerous emergency rooms visits, etc. really stretched our budget last year and it took a large portion of the first part of 2012 to finish shaking out all of the bills and what insurance would pay, etc.  Heck, I’m still fighting a couple of them (basically where I’ve paid the balance due and they’ve come back with another balance due kind of crap).  Also, hubby had to have some major dental work a couple of weeks ago and that’s a new ongoing bill (it takes forever to get crowns made).  2013 will see ALL of them gone, paid in FULL.

I haven’t been sleeping very well. Griffin is cutting his two upper 2 year molars and has been a bear.  He’s cranky, willful, hardly naps, and sleeps fretfully.  He’s been up the last couple of nights around 1AM and I have trouble going back to sleep after I get him back down.  Insomnia and Pinterest are either “besties for life” or Hell on Earth – depending on which side of the morning you’re on.  So the last couple of days I’ve felt hung over and tired and just worn out.

But this morning, I’m hopeful.  Hopeful that we’re headed towards better days… hopeful that we will finish the year strong… and grateful that we’re making it through the storm.

We're safe...

For now. More tomorrow.

Tomorrow's the Day

We find out tomorrow if hubby's job is being eliminated.

One Day at a Time

Day 3 of my Season of YES

God has given me all I need to overcome any problem or obstacle.

How do you make it through the tough times?  One day at a time.

Dee's Bugaboo Boutique ~ 1 Peter 5 vs.7I tend to lose my sense of humor when I’m scared.  And scared I am right now.  What am I scared of?  A million possibilities and I shouldn’t be thinking of any of them.  Anxiety eats at me like a cancer these days.  And yet, I know it does absolutely no good to worry about what may be. 

So when I feel anxious or start to worry, I start counting my blessings.  They are too numerous to list here and I can come up with hundreds of things to be grateful for.  Perhaps one day, I’ll start a gratitude journal or start posting them.  We’ll see.

I also find ways to make myself smile.  I wander through the funnies on Pinterest or just look for something to read or watch that’s funny.  I think I’ll do that today during quiet time.

IMG_1126[1]On another note, I was enormously productive yesterday.  I got a post done here, I got two posts written for Disney Preparedness, I got the club calendar entered online, and I got the lesson plan for next week put together (it will post next week).  Today?  Not so much.  Except I have been working on a crocheted granny square…

Starting a new season…

Yesterday, I decided that I would start a season of YES.  A season of deciding to make some major changes in my life.  It’s 100 days of being completely faithful and declaring favor over my life. 

At first, I was going to keep a private blog where I wrote only for myself and for hubby to read.  I’ve been praying about this, and my heart is saying I need to do it here.  I don’t know why.  I just feel like I should.

Truth is, the crap is getting heavy round these parts.  Money’s tight – we’re just scraping by.  Hubby’s employer has announced that there will be layoffs very soon.  Christmas is fast approaching and I still haven’t bought gifts for anyone including my kids.

But I’ve got to look at the good news.  We’ve got a roof over our heads and we’re warm and cozy, and there’s food in the kitchen.  The car’s running good and there’s gas in the tank.  Jesus is still our savior and God is ALWAYS good.

Yesterday, I posted a goofy private video where I laid out some goals.  I won’t subject you to the video but I will share the goals for the season plus share today’s declaration of faith.


The declaration (Explosive blessings are coming my way) comes from Joel Osteen’s most recent book called I Declare

Here’s Ephesians 1:3-7

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Domestic Felicity includes everything that keeps my home from spontaneously igniting including keeping the house clean, bills paid, our business making some money to pay those bills, and staying ahead on home school.

Creativity includes everything creative that I like.  So often, I make expressing my creativity as something that I get to do when all the work is done.  It has to have a more important role than that.  It’s more important than that.

Today, December 6th, I declare that I will experience God's faithfulness. I will not worry. I will not doubt. I will keep my trust in Him. I will become everything God intended me to be.  I can do my part and believe that His Will is perfect and in perfect time.

Hebrews 13:6 (NASB) says:

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?

I like Joel Osteen a lot and I get daily emails from him and I really like today’s email that talks about the anointing from God.

“...You anoint my head with oil...” (Psalm 23:5, NKJV)

slice-of-cakeOsteen then goes on to talk about what oil does: it makes things flow and makes things move more easily.  In cakes, you add oil versus other fats because it makes the cake moist but also lighter in texture not to mention taller than when you use butter.

So the anointing makes us better able to follow the journey that God has set before us.

Today, I will remember God’s anointing and faithfulness.  It may sound silly, but I’m going to think of cake and how the oil helps it to be delicious and moist.

My Scripture Journal

A few weeks ago, I became intrigued with scripture journals.  Most of the instructions I’ve found, have been on LDS websites but I think this is something that anyone who thinks visually and wants to study the Word in more depth can do.

What I did was take a lovely Rhodia Meeting Notebook and turn it into a topical Bible study journal.  The first few pages are my table of contents and then I numbered all the pages in the notebook.  Each page gets it’s own topic.  I expect some topics will have multiple pages.

Then on that topic page, whenever I hear or see something relevant that helps me understand or a verse that helps me see the issue biblically, I write it down and doodle or draw to illustrate it to myself.  This is an intensely personal project but I thought I’d share a couple of pages with you.

photo (1)

photo (3)photo (2)

Also, this video is  great beginning to see how to get started…

Circles and Baubles


So I made this necklace using a kit.  It is completely not my style and I’m not really likely to wear it.  However, the making was interesting.  Each of the circles is held together using gold wire so it was a good exercise in wire wrapping.

What do you think?

Almost Thanksgiving–where are the beans?

Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of weeks and I’m already beginning to really think about the things that I’m particularly grateful for.

I’ll list those in more detail on Thanksgiving itself, but right now, I want to talk about green beans.

I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought two cases of green beans – name brand beans – on sale. Yeah.  Crazy talk.

Last time, I bought green beans on sale, I got store brand and the cans were all full of rocks and twigs.  So far so good on these cheap beans.


Time4Learning has invited me to try their online curriculum for 30 days in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. Visit them for information about lesson plans, homeschool portfolios or writing your own curriculum review.

Wordless Wednesday: My Point of View



Hope you got a chance to vote today. The pastor of our church made a very important point on Sunday about the whole thing:
Remember. God establishes the authority of every elected leader.
Have a good night.


We're still recovering for the recent illness to strike the WHOLE family.

After 12 years of marriage, I've discovered something. When my husband has a cold, he hides away secret stashes of paper napkins and tissues like an old lady hoarder with post nasal drip. There are paper napkins in drawers. There are packs of tissues in the bathroom. Tissues and napkins stuffed into the cup holders in the car.

However it is quite handy when I'm at the end of cold myself and I start coughing up things out of my lungs that look like an enlightened civilization.



It started as a thoughtless, judgmental comment made in a semi-public forum. 

A really good friend, who has an interest in the subject, thought I meant it about a situation she’s involved in. I wasn’t even thinking of her situation, but I realized after she confronted the issue that my generalization was really hurtful.  Furthermore, I was just acting like a troll to cover up my own feelings of inadequacy.

After a some talking and some crying, I asked for her forgiveness and I hope that one day we will be good friends again.

Have you ever noticed how when the Lord is working on your heart that things get harder?  He’s been working on me about forgiveness for a long time now.  There are people who have done great wrongs to me and I have come to realize that I keep giving them power.  If I would just forgive them, I would take that power away from them.  What’s more, they aren’t going to change their ways, so my continued hurt over their words and actions won’t make a bit of difference to them.

The best I can do from this recent drama is learn to be more thoughtful about what I say – and hope that my friend is better at forgiveness than I am. 

Meanwhile, I’m gonna let the Lord keeping working on my heart.

Switching Off

This election season has done something to me.  I’ve gotten mean and judgmental instead of hopeful like I was during the last presidential election season.

For this reason, I’m switching off some of my social media for a week – primarily Facebook – starting today.  It is such a time suck for me and there’s so much negativity that I just have to turn away for a little while.  Also with all the sickness in the family, I am sorely behind on domestic and educational tasks (like lesson planning) and I’ve no extra time for fooling around for a few days.

I’ll be posting here, and I’ll be tweeting.  I have to monitor our Facebook page for our Disney blog but I can do that without actually going onto Facebook.  So I won’t be giving up Social Media completely.

Meanwhile, I’ll get my house cleaned up and enough lesson planning done to get through until Christmas at least!  Maybe I’ll get all my posts for the Disney blog done for the rest of the month!  I don’t know for certain how much I’ll be able to get done.

There’s one thing I know for certain: No matter who wins on Tuesday, someone is going to get upset. 

Talking with my son


Griffin is 20 months old.  He’s not talking that much – can say “mama” and “dada” and  calls a train a “choo-choo” and makes lots of fun noises (zoooom! is his favorite while he’s playing cars).

Here is a conversation I had with him earlier:

(setting: we’re hanging out before bedtime and he has several animal toys he is playing with)

(Holds up a Monkey) Griffin: Eee eee eee!

Me: Yeah! A monkey!

I hold up a cow

Me: What’s this?

Griffin: Ooooooommmm!

Halloween Yuckiness

Doctor Phoebe will see you now...

So the last 2 weeks have been crazy busy and now, I think, we're paying for it.

Since I wrote the last post, we have:

  • Joined a new church
  • Attended a dinner for new members
  • Attended a class about prayer
  • Attended 2 small group meetings
  • Had 2 play dates
  • Attended 1 club board meeting
  • Written, edited, and assembled 1 club newsletter
  • Had at least 5 days of at least 1 sickie in the family

Yeah- busy. For us, crazy busy. Notice I didn't say a lot of school got done. Almost none has happened this week as whatever cold/funk/plague has affected the boy has now affected me and I have no voice.

Our curriculum relies on me and my ability to read to Phoebe heavily. No voice equals mama letting Phoebe make play dough letter shapes and do a few worksheets and whatever YouTube videos I can find that are relevant.

The boy has had a cold off and on since the beginning of October. It would clear up just shy of the date I would set to take him to the doctor. Also, he's got a 2 year molar coming thru so he's drooling a bit and starts coughing because of that.

With Phoebe, the first molar took about 2 months to finally cut thru but then the others came in quickly. I hope he's the same way.

Sunday, he had a pretty good cough that really bothered him at night and he's been waking himself up coughing for the last couple of nights. Monday, I got up feeling like crap and by Halloween morning, I was praying for death.

Little girl has a slight cough and a bit of a runny nose but is otherwise ok - although she got up this morning looking a little glassy-eyed. John has this crap too but has been pushing his way thru it until he got up feeling really bad Halloween morning.

So we did not go trick or treating. Did not go to any parties. Have barely left the house except for groceries and work and we both got out to early vote.

I need this crap gone though. I need everyone to feel better. I have something I want to do this weekend and it doesn't involve laying on the couch, drinking ice tea, and having the boy run his cars over me while the girl watches Team Umizoomi.

Halloween: A definition from my preschooler

me: What is Halloween?
Phoebe: That's where you wear a spooky costume like a spooky princess or a spooky Tinkerbell with wings and a magic wand and you get candies in your pumpkin bag!

Using YouTube in Your Homeschool

Part of supplementing our preschool curriculum is using YouTube videos – YES! YouTube is an excellent source of preschool stuff!!

Learning the alphabet? Check out:

Learning colors? Check out:

A quick search will find stories, songs, fingerplays, you name it.

Who knew that something that shows stupid videos could be a resource for homeschools?  I didn’t!!

Preschool Concepts


The name of our homeschool is Firelight Academy.  It is based on a quote often attributed to poet William Butler Yeats:

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

Here are the subjects we are studying:

  • Language and Literacy (Reading Readiness): the alphabet, begin developing listening skills, begin discussing stories (comprehension), learn an understanding of new vocabulary, develop expressive language including asking questions to gain information and solve problems, engage in turn-taking conversations, telling stories, writing readiness skills,
  • Math readiness: develop an understanding of numbers, sorting and classifying objects, create and duplicate simple patterns, develop a sense of space and understanding of shapes, develop measuring skills
  • Science Readiness: Use processes of science (observation, identification), learn about the sciences (health, life, earth, physical)
  • Social Studies Readiness: Develop awareness of family, school, and community, develop a respect for differences, begin geographic studies (directions, landmarks, etc)
  • Artistic and Visual Skills and Readiness: Explore creative expression through visual arts, music appreciation, movement, and expression (drama). 
  • Physical Development: Work on gross motor development (climbing, walking, galloping, running in rhythm), develop fine motor skills (tearing, writing, scissors, stringing, dough and clay, pouring, transferring)
  • Spiritual Development: Begin teaching the foundations of our faith, reading and exploring Bible stories, character development through stories, begin to understand her relationship to God and Jesus, learning songs and verses to enhance understanding
  • Life Skills: Manners, playing together, cooperation, domestic tasks, intro to money management

Our preschool curriculum is all about getting ready.  I’m not doing math drills.  I’m not even getting into sight words yet.  But I find as I go through this list that there are so many things that my daughter is already excelling at.  I will likely tweak this list as the year goes by and by the time my son is 4, I’ll have completely rewritten it!

Preschool Resources – So Far

IMG_0686 When I first started considering homeschooling the kids, I went into what John calls “research mode” which I think is his nice way of acknowledging my obsessive nature.  I found about 17,000 resources – give or take - for high school curriculums and information about 3rd grade nature studies and 5th grade English composition.  But information on preschool was lacking. 

I’m putting together a page of preschool resources but thought I’d do a quick run down of what I’m using right now:

Main curriculum: Calvert


  • – Covers tons of subjects and Phoebe loves computer time. Runs about $8 a month.
  • Starfall – Teaches reading through fun songs and games and stories.  Mostly free.
  • Living Montessori Now – Talks a lot about using Montessori methods in the home where I think it should be… but that’s my opinion.  Has links to lots of activities.
  • Calvary Curriculum – Technically, this is a Sunday school curriculum but I’ve found the resources here are great for integrating Bible studies and stories into our daily studies.
  • Mama Jenn – has tons of printables and advice for new homeschoolers.  I love her calendar printables.
  • Progressive Phonics – Another reading site.  Some fun learning books to print out and start reading with.
  • Kids Learning Station – Lots of printables here including some great scissor printables.  We spend the first 3 years of their life trying to keep them away from sharp things and then we need to hand them a pair of sharp scissors and say “here ya go, kid!”

Do you have any websites that help you with preschool?

Organic Homeschool

IMG_0772 Some folks would call it “Unschooling” or “Eclectic” homeschooling.  But I like “organic”.

Phoebe, as I’ve mentioned before, has a good understanding of counting to 20.  She was forgetting 12 but now seems to be over that little hump.  She’s working on counting up to 30 but has trouble remembering 21.  Once I remind her of 21, she jumps in and counts to 30. 

I never set out to teach her to count.  I started when she was a baby and I could count and kiss each delectable toe and finger and make her laugh.  Then, I’d sing “5 little monkeys jumping on the bed!” complete with finger gestures and she’d laugh some more.  That’s what I mean when I say that I taught her organically.  It happened as a result of play.

I’ve read about Maria Montessori and Charlotte Mason and other homeschool/preschool educational giants and the gist of everything I’ve read is “PLAY WITH YOUR CHILDREN! READ TO YOUR CHILDREN” and I’d like to add one more “ENJOY YOUR CHILDREN!”

The day that we make a mess and discover that yellow and red finger-paint turns orange when mixed together is a great day.  We figured out that pink play dough and green play dough make kind of a fleshy color when mixed together.  We make our own bubbles while washing hands and brushing teeth.  We sing songs and act silly and still she learns something new every day.

I’m also working on what I call “THE ABSOLUTELY MUST READ TO YOUR CHILDREN LIST!” and I regularly add books from this list to our reserve list at the library.  Once a week, I go, pick up our reserved books, and maybe another one or two for insurance, and bring them home.  Everyday, in addition to the reading story or poem in our Calvert reading readiness work, we read one of the library books. 

This week, we’re reading several of the “Llama Llama” books by Anna Dewdney including Llama Llama Mad at Mama.

We’re working on learning our home address and remembering everyone’s FULL name.  We are memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance and a little prayer for the beginning of meals (Yes, that old standby “God is Great, God is good…”).

She’s very interested in writing and mazes, so we’re working on holding the pencil correctly and using logic to get through the maze. She’s also interested in words and we’re starting to do some sounding out of words when we read. We have a couple of workbooks that I pull things out of and printables here and there that we use to supplement our learning.  But right now, they are all fun and she asks if we’re doing school almost every morning.

The one thing I don’t forget is that she’s four.  Four years old.  Still a little child.  Still young enough for me to pick up and hold in my lap and tell her little stories.  Still young enough to believe everything I say.  So young and so full of the spirit of God without even knowing it.  Too young to force into a chair and force knowledge into her head.

No, we’ll keep playing and she’ll keep learning.

Friday Wrap Up

I'm a busy girl here lately.  But I thought I'd drop by and tell you what all's happening.
  1. Yep, we're still homeschooling and no, we don't hate it.  It's a lot of fun to see a concept dawn on your kid's face as it starts to make sense in their brain.
  2. We started going to a new church back in June and I joined a small group a couple of weeks ago.  We're going to be studying 40 Days of Love Video: We Were Made for Relationshipsby Rick Warren. We're working on a church wide study right now that is nearly over.
  3. I am doing my own personal Bible study.  I'm working through Breaking Freeby Beth Moore. It's a study of Isaiah and is pretty intense.
  4. We've started a website called Disney Preparedness about our love of Disney World.  I hope you'll check it out if you love the MOUSE!

Free Homeschool Introduction Guide

welcome to homeschooling guideI thought that this little e-book from Time4Learning was a helpful little guide to get started.  It talks a lot about the lingo you hear in chat rooms and forums and explains the difference between unschooling, classical curriculums, etc.

If you are considering homeschooling or are like me and just getting started, it’s both a good overview and a quick read!

Why we homeschool

super-phoebe My husband and I both have very strong feelings about education and it’s importance.

But we also come with school related damage.

John had a teacher that had no interest in him and decided that he needed to be held back because he wouldn’t read something on demand.  Anyone who works with kids or is around kids at all knows that they are unpredictable and will always do something contrary to what you are thinking.  This teacher didn’t understand this concept and obviously shouldn’t be responsible for children – in my opinion.  He was pulled out of the public school and put into a great Montessori school close to their home.  He not only caught up to his former classmates but had some amazing adventures with his new school that would have never been available at a public school.

I started school as an excited smart kid.  MY first grade teacher called me “spirited” and then did her best to break that spirit.  She used humiliation as a way of dealing with my vivacious manner.  As I’ve talked about before, I got sick almost every Sunday night while I was in first grade.

I’ve also talked about the fact that elementary school just wasn’t a lot of fun for me.  I don’t look back and see the friends I made but that I survived it.

When I was pregnant with Phoebe, I started thinking about the fact that she would eventually go to school and the idea scared the pea soup out of me.  I started researching private schools and Montessori schools.  I quickly found out that the county we live in has abysmal results.

I personally believe that the worst thing that ever happened to the American public school systems was No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the second worst was Zero Tolerance.

We had considered selling the house - nearly impossible in this market - and moving to another county because the schools are supposed to be better there.  After a discussion with a friend of a friend about class sizes and the recent testing scandals here in the Atlanta area, I decided that they weren't much better.  So that got us considering something else.

John went to Montessori and we looked into putting Phoebe into his old school.  It's NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.  Yes, NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS.  Good grief.  And it's 35 miles away.

I looked into some of the local private schools, but found that not only were a couple of the schools using the SAME EXACT CURRICULUM as the public school but that class sizes were sometimes bigger than in the public school. 

The best private schools around also seemed to have a religious slant.  Now, we aren't especially religious.  We attend church and identify ourselves as Christian.  I've always thought that religious instruction should come from the parents and the church - not my kid's school.  I had a cousin growing up that went to a religious school - his parents were basically racists and the school didn't have any "brown" people in it.  I remember how confused he was.  Last I heard, he's a skinhead and I haven't talked to him in about 15 years.  His education didn't do him any good in the real world and it certainly didn't help him learn to accept people for what they are.

John and I also started talking about the future.  The future we’d like to create where we are able to travel more.  I have this dream to buy an RV and travel around the US and see every state.  I’m also dreaming about a trip out west that will take us to many places that John talks about from his Montessori days (he went on a nearly month long trip out west to the Grand Canyon and other places) and I have plans and bookmarks showing all the routes we could take and places we could visit.  I also have a fantasy of this crazy around the world cruise that takes over 100 days to complete and goes to 28 countries.

It always seemed like that serious travel would have to wait until the kids are grown because of school schedules, but then I started thinking.  What better way to learn about the world than to travel it? 

make-tlc_s-17-kids-counting_-800X800 I was mostly appalled by the idea of homeschooling before this.  After all, I was not an educator.   I barely made it through college algebra, how could I teach algebra to my children? Also, I knew the stereotype: unsocialized, religious zealots where all the girls don’t cut their hair and wore prairie dresses and the boys have crew cuts and tons of kids in the family.

But as I did the research, my mind was changed.  Home educated children have consistently higher performance on standardized test scores.  Also, is there really a good reason to separate children from their siblings?  Several modern education techniques take more than your children’s manufacture date into mind (see the video posted here for more on that).

Also, that socialization thing?  Have you ever read Lord of the Flies? Since when have a group of similarly aged children been a good thing to have around?  Pack-like mentality is almost never a good thing (think angry mobs, mean girls, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail).

Another thing: the importance of family.  I am sick to death of people talking about the sanctity of marriage when we have a 50% divorce rate in this country.  But I believe that the family is the foundation of the country in whatever form that family takes.  Modern education practices places all the importance on pulling the child away from the family because they are the experts.  But the modern classroom is more about managing children than educating them.  In the family, the child is celebrated while at the same time being taught the value of working together, getting along, and building character.

Because of these reasons, at minimum, I will homeschool my children through the elementary grades.  Beyond that, we will decide on a year to year and child by child basis.  I will choose the best resources I can find to teach them readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmatics and I will make sure they have a good foundation in history, science, language, and the world around us.  I will make sure they are socialized and will be able to hold their own in any group and respectful of others.

And do you know what I don’t have to deal with?  Crazy back-to-school supply lists, filling out the same paperwork with the same information over and over and over again, or hours of homework every night after they’ve been in school for 6 hours.

I can’t avoid my children being bullied by other children but the difference is that if Phoebe tells me another kid is being mean to her, I don’t have to send her back to face her tormentor the next day.  I can’t protect my children from everything, but I can make sure that their educator is fully invested in their education and best interests.  I can help my daughter make friends who will support her and make lifelong friendships.  I can make sure my children think creatively and divergently.  I can help make every day be the miracle it truly is instead of another day to get through.  In short, I will do anything for my children to succeed and be joyous.

Yummy apple flowers


Yummy apple flower snack inspired by Sarah Fragoso’s book: Everyday Paleo

This is an apple, sliced thinly, a tablespoon of hazelnut butter, and a strawberry.  My kids love this as you can see from Phoebe’s face!

Our First Week of School


In my life and our homeschool this week…

we actually got started.  I’ve been planning this since we decided we were gonna do this last summer.  So it’s been a long time coming and a lot of worrying and thinking and planning and I think it’s gone pretty well.

Phoebe made a really good attempt at writing her name this week.  She started writing the letters with a bingo dauber and ran out of space. 

The week was cruisin’ along until my boy crashed into the entertainment center Wednesday afternoon and cut a gash in his face.  Three stitches later and he’s on the mend.  The worst part of that whole thing was trying to keep the numbing gel on his face for 30 minutes.  He did not like it and wanted it off.


I’m praying for…

the strength to continue our journey.  I am praying for some things we are working on to start making progress.  I’m praying just to be praying.  I’ve been away from Him for too long.

Getting Ready for School

2012curriculum-calvertSo earlier this week we started Pre-Kindergarten.


At home.

With me teaching her.

I never thought I’d be doing this.  But then, there were a lot of times that I didn’t know if we’d even have kids. I am so thankful that they are in my life and I am so thankful that I have the ability to do this.

So on to what you’re probably here for: Choosing a curriculum

This has been no small task. We are using Calvert School for our Pre-Kindergarten curriculum.

The biggest issue was how I feel about my own belief system and teaching children about science. It was important that the science curriculum be empirically based and not based on religion. This is not to say that religion isn’t important but I am one of those folks that believes in both creationism and evolution. But that is a topic for another blog post.

I wanted a strong science. Mainly because if my daughter or son decide to be scientists and get accepted at MIT, I don’t want them laughed out of the place on the first day because they think that the fossil record was put in place by the Devil.

I also wanted a complete curriculum. I thought about putting together my own from a little of this and a little of that, but I decided that I wanted something that would be the backbone of the curriculum and then I could supplement as I like.

calvertcollage1rI also needed something that would fairly inexpensive so that I could see if I liked it without plunking down a grand for pre-K.

In a nutshell, it is a complete package.  Everything comes with it: the books, the art supplies, the drawing paper, even the crayons and modeling clay.

The Lesson Manual is best part of the whole program.  It details EXACTLY what you should do, how you should prepare, what you need for each lesson. There are 160 lessons with review lessons at lesson 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, 140, and 160. 

Now the downside: Numbers aren’t introduced until Lesson 82 and the alphabet isn’t introduced until lesson 137.  My kid already knows the alphabet and can count almost perfectly to 20 (she frequently leaves out 12 for some reason).

The books are boring. Yep, I said it.  There are a few line drawings and the stories aren’t all that exciting either.  I don’t know what I expected.  But we will definitely have to supplement with interesting, colorful reading material.

I will be adding pre-handwriting materials, more interesting reading materials, calendar time, more science, some Bible study, and possibly a bit of French.

First Day of School

first dayMonday was Phoebe’s first day of pre-kindergarten.  She has been asking about school for months and it’s at these times that I’ve almost ignored my instincts and plans and given in to her request to go to school. 
She’s 4.  Her idea of school is a place where she gets to play with other kids.  If you ask her about what they do all day, she’ll tell you that you get to play with kids and play games and dress-up. 
But I have persevered and we started homeschooling on Monday.

Monday, we started with a picture with her holding a sign from this website and then we talked about all of the books that we’ll be reading together and all the activities and games we’ll be playing.  Then, I started teaching her the pledge of Allegiance and a brief prayer.
Next, from the Calvert School curriculum, I read Peter Rabbit to her and we talked about what naughty rabbits and little girls have in common.  Then, to supplement, I found a picture of Peter Rabbit on the internet (sorry no link) and she colored it while I kept little brother busy with a photo puzzle I made for him.
first day
The first day took about an hour and a half to complete.  That includes about 20 minutes playtime while I changed a diaper, made a bottle, looked for shoes, etc.  The curriculum for the first day was more about establishing the routine rather than any real work.
There will be another post this week where I talk more about Calvert School.  If you are considering it for your preschooler, you won’t want to miss my initial reviews.

Eat Like a Caveman

So we started the Paleo Diet back in the beginning of June, and I can tell you it’s been an interesting journey.

First of all, it’s been expensive. 

We followed the meal plan in the back of Robb Wolf’s book for the first week and we didn’t like the food at all and it required all kinds of extra spices and stuff that we don’t usually use.  We learned a couple of good recipes that we’ll use but for the most part, we hated everything we were eating.  But even still, it is more expensive to buy most of your food fresh.  Produce and fresh meat are all very expensive even now in the summer time when there should be some sort of break.  One area where we are saving money though is in take out.  But we’re finding we’re just moving the money we were spending on takeout on groceries.

Second, you will lose weight on this – without being hungry.

Seriously, I am very rarely just starving.  Usually if I am really hungry it’s because it’s time to eat or I’ve forgotten to eat and now it’s catching up with me.  Since June 4th, I’ve lost 18 pounds.  When you’re my size, 18 pounds isn’t much.  But it is a major accomplishment to me.  I was last at this weight when I was pregnant with Phoebe and sick as a dog from morning sickness.  Between pregnancy hormones going crazy and just the constant throwing up, I got down to this weight.  I like getting here by eating steak much better.

Third, I have found that gluten makes me sick.

Really.  My birthday and John’s birthday are 4 days apart.  We decided that during that week, we’d take it easy and only do 80% Paleo and we would enjoy a little birthday cake.

I enjoyed it until 2 hours later when my stomach was killing me.

Then we decided to have a chicken sandwich from Wendy’s.  I enjoyed it until two house later, my stomach hurt very badly.

Then I had a peanut butter sandwich.  See where I am going with this?

I’ve tried it with dairy and legumes but they don’t make my stomach hurt.  Just bread.

Choosing Your Homeschool Curriculum

I’ve mentioned before about how to get started.  Mostly you need to learn some terms, find out how to do it legally, and then start researching.
I did these steps myself.  I read everything I could get my hands on: blogs, books, magazines.  The one thing that tripped me up was choosing my curriculum. 
Some folks – sometimes called “Unschoolers” choose to forgo the curriculum with preschoolers completely and wait until the child is 6 or 7.  But I knew that I needed some sort of formal program to keep me on track.
So I started by reading 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.  I found this book to be quite helpful in both choosing my style and ultimately my curriculum.  I’ll talk more about what we choose later this month.
Other things you need to start thinking about:
  • Do you want to include your faith? There are a ton of options if you want to homeschool with faith based principles.
  • Do you want a computer option or book option?  Again, there a great many different options depending on which one you choose.
  • How interested are you in determining what your child learns?  Of course, since you’ve chosen this path, you are pretty interested in what your child learns.  But the difference is that some paths will be completely laid out for you and you only have to follow or you create the path and choose the books and determine timing.
  • How much money do you have for this?  It can be a pretty big outlay of cash if you go with some of the full curriculum packages or you can look for free or nearly free sources.

What is the Paleo diet?

So since my husband and I decided to start this journey, we’ve gotten a lot of questions.  Everything from “How can you give up bread?” to “Is there anything you CAN eat?”

After losing 14 pounds in the first month, I can say definitively that you can eat a lot of things and still lose weight.

In my opinion, the Paleo diet is basically this:  if God didn’t make it, don’t eat it.  So no twinkies, no packaged noodles, no candy bars.  But you can eat plenty of veggies, lean meat and fish, nuts, healthy fats, and fresh fruit.

You also, at least at first, need to stay away from dairy products, all grains including wheat, rice, barley AND corn, and legumes.  More about this in a moment.

The diet was really popularized by Loren Cordain, a professor of Health Sciences at Colorado State University and published in his book, The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat.

I have found his book to be a little on the dry side – cough, cough – very dry – and got a lot more from Robb Wolf’s book: The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet

I find the Robb Wolf book to be very informative, entertaining even – and a good source of the science behind the diet.  They both do a much better job than I can do to explain why grain is the worst possible thing in the world for you to eat, but it comes down to this: humans haven’t been eating grain long enough for us to be able to properly digest/breakdown gluten.  Gluten won’t make most of us instantly sick, instead it’s like a slow, painful dance.  It disrupts our intestines and may contribute to Leaky Gut syndrome.  Grains raise our blood sugar levels and force our pancreas to work harder to lower it.  It’s just not a good thing.

Dairy is taxing to the gut and may increase inflammation.  Legumes, while rich in iron and other nutrients, are also inflammatory to the gut and should be avoided, at least at first.

Yes, it takes some planning and it can be expensive.  More about that soon…

This page is also posted on my new Paleo Weight Loss website.

The one about sick kids…

Phoebe on the floor just before throwing upThere’s something about your 16 month old baby having a 104.7 fever that gets you moving.

Wednesday morning, I knew something wasn’t quite right with Griffin.  He was alternately ok and whiny/clingy.  Would go play for a few minutes and then whining and wanting to be in my lap.  The closer we got to lunch time, he was less about playing and more about being on me.  Bad mommy was trying to get the newsletter for my MOMS Club finished and I finished it with him on my shoulder snoozing.

I said bad mommy because I didn’t realize how hot he was getting.  After I sent it out, I checked him out and yes, he was really hot.  I checked his temp and found he had a 102 degree temp.  In with the acetaminophen and he cooled down within a couple of hours.  I put him down for a nap and he awakened screaming a couple hours later with a temp of 104.7.  More acetaminophen and a call to the doctor’s office who, of course, had just closed for the day.

So as soon as John got home, he and I took off for one of the local children’s hospital immediate care centers. Which is 30 miles away.  But it’s the closest.  Sort of.  Actually there were two equally that close but that one seemed like the one that might have less traffic at 6 pm.

And I was right.

We got him there, the doc looked into his ears, said he had an icky ear and prescribed antibiotics and alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen and sent us on our way in under an hour.  It took almost longer to get there and back than it took us to see a doc.

By the next day, he was back and forth between feeling ok and not but never spiked a fever above 100.  I felt like he was stable enough I could go to a meeting (I’ve been elected into my local MOMS Club as treasurer) and while he was up a bit overnight, he was much better Friday.

But not the girl.

She woke up, apparently ok.  She played in her room when she first woke up.  Then came requesting cereal.  I got up not feeling so good myself but dragged myself out of the bed and got her some cereal and me some coffee.

As the morning wore on, the girl was spending more time cuddled up in a chair or on the couch than playing.  I finally felt her forehead and she was burning up with a 102 degree fever.  Alright, battle plans in place.  Plenty of fluids, first acetaminophen and then ibuprofen.  I even made a handy dandy little on-the-fridge form that would help remember who had taken-what-when and laminated it.

And then my daughter puked.

What do you do?  Give more acetaminophen?  Withhold everything?  She seemed to feel better after throwing up so I consulted Dr Google which said to wait on another dose until time to give the next dosage.  I opted to give her the Motrin instead and she ate a little lunch and drank some water and genuinely seemed to feel a little better.

Then she took a nap on the floor covered in a blanket and woke up with a 106 degree fever.  John was home by now and we moved into action, bathing her with a damp washcloth in spite of her protests.  I didn’t think she really had a 106 fever but that it was skewed because she was sleeping under a quilt (made by my talented sister-in-law) and the fact that it’s 100 degrees outside and the air conditioning is just barely keeping up and in fact, the power went out for about 10 minutes and things got a little stuffy. 

We got her cooled down to 102.7 within half an hour which confirmed my suspicions that it was partly overheating.  I was ready to throw her in the car and head for the emergency room but Daddy being more lucid, suggested a warm bath, so I threw her in the tub instead.

Which worked.

She felt much better and ate some dinner and went to bed late.

She just woke up a little while ago at 4AM and felt a little hot – I gave her Motrin and then sat down with her.

She: Mama, I’m sick.

Me: I know.  I just gave you some medicine so you’ll feel better.

She: Mama, I need to go to the doctor.

Me: We might go if you keep feeling bad.  But right now, we’re gonna keep on giving you medicine. ok?

She:  Mama, I need to go to the doctor ‘tomahwo’.

She looked pleadingly at me.

Me: Ok. We’ll take you tomorrow.

Then she got up, went upstairs and put herself back to bed.  I kissed her and told her to call me if she needed me.

She grabbed my hand.  “Tomahwo momma.  I need to go tomahwo.”

Do I take her?  I don’t know.  It depends on how she’s doing.  If Griffin is any indication, she’ll feel a little better Saturday morning and will be at 75-85% by Sunday.

It gets easier.. or does it?

Today is the 10th anniversary of my dad’s death.

That was a bad day.  I saw a bad car wreck and got a flat tire – all on the way home from work.  I said to John, “I don’t think this day can get any worse.”  And boy was I wrong.

That day started the long spiral of suck in my life.  Not long after this happened, mom got sick and died and then our battle with infertility began.  It was five years before I could dig my way out of the depression.

He had been in the hospital for a few days.  I had just gotten back from vacation when he went into the hospital and couldn’t get any time off to go visit him.  I had some vacation planned for the week after he passed away and I was going to go and spend as much of it as I could with him.

There are so many things that I regret about that time.  I regret not just taking the time to go (although my boss made my life a living hell for taking bereavement leave – the asshole.) and I regret not taking his illness seriously.  It never even occurred to me that he might not make it through it.  But again, so much of my knowledge of his condition was second hand from people physically closer. 

I’m glad that I told him that I loved him.  I’m glad that I said I was sorry for being such a self-centered brat.

I miss him every single day.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.  Not one.

I think that the grieving process never really stops.  You get over the worst of it.  If you didn’t, you’d end up curled up in a corner for the rest of your life.  But you get up, you get dressed, and you go out and face a world that is diminished.  You find yourself laughing.  You find yourself forgetting the pain of the loss for a while.  You may even be able to look back on how annoying that person may have been at times.

Hell, I think there are still some days that I go through all 5 stages of grieving in a single afternoon.  Even now, I get angry that he worked so much.  Even now, I get angry that he is not here to see my children.

But then, one of them will look into my eyes and I’ll see him looking at me through their eyes.  And somehow, I know that even though he’s not here physically, that he’s here in spirit.

How does your garden grow?

Me: What do you think grows in a garden?
Phoebe: Vegables!
Me: Yes, vegetables grow in a garden. What else?
Phoebe: Tomatoes!
Me: Yes! What else?
Phoebe: Barbeque!

Living on the wild side…

A couple of weeks ago, I started writing a book for Camp NANOWRIMO.  Man!  I had no idea how difficult it was to maintain a storyline for more than a few thousand words without A) losing your way in the story or B) not knowing what the Heck to write next or C) giving up completely because your kids won’t stop pestering you every 3-1/2 seconds to use the computer.  In short, I do not have enough time in the day to write at least 2,000 words unless I give up sleep.  But I can find time for 100-500 words a day.

So, I haven’t given up writing the story but I’m working on it in smaller chunks.   You can read the story from the beginning here and I’ll do an update here as I post new parts.

Also, we started a new diet. 

I have a skin disease called Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).  It’s a nasty condition that causes extremely painful lesions anywhere you have sweat glands.  I will have to go into more detail in another post but suffice it to say, it does not make for a Happy Girl.  I have had flare-ups off and on since I was a teenager but about 4-1/2 years ago, I got a flare-up that has NEVER gone away. My dermatologist injects them with steroids and puts me on antibiotics and they get a little better but have never gone COMPLETELY away since right before Phoebe was born.  During my pregnancy with Griffin, they went on overdrive and I had the worst flare-up of my life and was taking meds during pregnancy to help combat infection.

No, I’ve never talked about it in this blog because it’s embarrassing.  The lesions are gross and sometimes ooze stinky stuff.  When I have a bad flare-up, I don’t leave the house unless I have to because they are extremely painful AND smelly. Furthermore, the medicine I put on them is a sulfur based ointment so I smell like rotten eggs.

So I was reading a thread from an HS forum and someone mentioned Primal Girl and her battle and subsequent remission from HS and my mind was BLOWN.  She went on a Paleo/Primal type diet – which basically means she abstained from dairy, wheat, legumes, and refined sugars - and not only did she lose a crap ton of weight but had major improvements in PCOS (which I also have) and HS.

I read about it and then mentioned it to John.  He said he’d recently read about the Paleo diet but thought I would think he was crazy for even considering it. 

I mean the Standard American Diet and the recommendations from the FDA, ADA, and the American Heart Association all say you need grains and dairy for optimum health.  My gastroenterologist told me I needed fiber in the form of whole grains, fresh fruit and veggies and particularly, legumes, like pinto beans and peas to prevent flare-ups in my diverticulosis.  It would be crazy to go against all this expert advice and do something different wouldn’t it?

But as I read story after story of people healing themselves of diabetes, obesity, and numerous gastrointestinal and autoimmune issues by simply avoiding these substances, I began to have a different opinion.

I read two books, which I will detail in later posts, and then jumped on the Paleo bandwagon.  We decided to stick to the 28 day menu in one of the books but found that there were so many things that we just did NOT like and this past week, we've struck out on our own but are using the menu as a guideline.

For the last few days, we have been completely dairy, wheat, legume, and refined sugar free.  The first couple of days I felt like absolute crap.  John and I both had a bad headache that wouldn’t go away with sleep or ibuprofen.

We were jones’n for Cokes and ice cream.  I wanted cheese more than I have ever wanted it in my life. But on day 4 something happened:  the headache went away for the most part and by day 10 (yesterday) were gone.  My head cleared.  My stomach didn’t hurt anymore. I had more energy. I felt good. And I wasn’t hungry.

I have been taking 4-8 ibuprofen a day for the last few years just to get through the day and it just dulled the pain enough that I could keep going.  My arms and shoulders, legs and back, have ached every single day for the last 10 years.  On day 5, I took 2 ibuprofen to deal with some menstrual cramps and that was it until this morning.

Yesterday, while the kids were having a snack (they aren’t Paleo – yet), I was handing Griffin some Honey Nut Cheerios and while I wasn’t paying attention, popped a handful in my own mouth.  A few days ago, this would have been completely normal: hand the kid a handful of cereal to snack on and then pop some into my mouth.  Now?  Ugh.  Within 2 hours, I felt spacy.  This morning, I woke up feeling like someone beat me.  The aches and pains that have been largely absent the last few days are back with a vengeance.

Could one handful (about 12 Cheerios) cause so much anguish?  I’m praying that tomorrow I feel like I did on day 10.

Every time that I have gone on a diet (usually the Watchers of Weight), I have been instantly hungry and hated counting every single grape that went into my mouth.  It never felt sustainable.  I imagined that if I was on it for several months that I’d get used to it and it would feel more natural to count everything.  But it never did and that’s usually when I’d give up.  AGAIN.

I always hate that person leading the group who says things like “When you get thin, you can just smell food and get full.”  That is crap.  Complete and utter bullshit.  We need food to live.  Our brains do not function without food.  Our brains NEED carbohydrates for fuel.

But on these plans, you’re steered away from fresh fruit because it’s “so high in points to get enough!” but “here, eat this prepackaged brand name grain based snack mix! It’s only a point for this WHOLE bag!”  Well you know what?  That snack mix has little nutritional value whereas that fruit is perfectly packaged to provide nutrients.  Yes, it has sugar but God wrapped it in a fiber package so that the sugar is absorbed better by my body.

Right now, I am 4 hours since breakfast and it’s time for a snack but I’m not really hungry.  Additionally, my blood sugar is in good shape.

And also? On Monday, I weighed in and I’d lost 9 pounds.

Organizing your photos

photo albumSo, you’ve got a box (or boxes) of photos and you want to scrap them? The first thing you’ll want to do is get those photos organized! Many scrappers organize their photos chronologically and/or by events.
After you know what you have, you can begin planning your scrapbook!
Some of the most common ways to organize scrapbook albums are:
  • Chronological albums showing your family’s life throughout the years
  • Focusing on certain things or events, like the character and personality of individuals or on weddings, births, etc.
  • Themed albums about sports, holidays, or seasons are interesting ways to organize your layouts.
No matter what you choose, keep in mind that there isn’t “right way” to do it! You can choose many different album ideas even within the same album!

Water Water Everywhere

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798), Stephen Taylor Coleridge

I talk a lot about the historic Georgia floods of 2009. For me, it was a pivotal moment and one I do not soon want to repeat.

As you may remember, I had a 15 month old daughter, no phone, no internet, no television, no electricity, and worst of all, no running water. Oh there was plenty of water around, just not any potable or drinkable water.

We had had some plumbing problems a few weeks before and had bought several gallons of bottled water to plan for a day of repairs. Luckily, we didn’t need the water during repair day, so I had a pretty good supply of drinking water on hand when the water system was overwhelmed by the torrential rains.

Within hours, every grocery store shelf was empty of water too and travel to other stores was difficult and dangerous due to flooding. I was more than happy that I could get through the emergency with the water we had on hand. Looking back, in fact, I distinctly remember being thankful that I had just weaned Phoebe because that would have been a big drain on our small water supply.

What about you? If the water was turned off for an indeterminate time, would you have any on hand?

I got the potty training blues...

We started potty training in July. Last year. "Started" being the operative word.

In my usual OCD manner, I read every book I could get my hands on, viewed every video at the library and Netflix. Talked incessantly to Phoebe about it and how exciting it would be. I bought cute little princess underpants. I bought 3 different potty chairs. We read books together about pottys. And I talked to just about everyone I knew.

And then we sucked.

We sucked because deep down I wasn't sure she was ready. I worried that her speech wasn't good enough to tell me what she needed. I worried we didn't have the right potty. I obsessed over every little detail. I followed EVERYONE's advice but I did it all at the same time so I think I just confused her. I would say one thing and do another.

Case in point: pull-up diapers. They are EVIL. Do not use them. Well except if you're going on a long trip or at night time or during nap time. See what I mean?

So during the day, at home, I'd have Phoebe in a dress sans pantaloons or "without underpants" for y'all that don't speak messed up French. Then, we'd put on a pull-up if we were going somewhere or it was nap time or bedtime. Phoebe would stay dry and clean as long as she was pants-less but would save poops for the pull-ups or underpants. She got to the point that she didn't like getting cleaned up and would stay just out of poop smelling range to avoid it. Which meant that by the time I smelled it (10 minutes or so) she would be a little irritated and we'd have to stop everything to get her cleaned up and cream applied. I was at my wit's end. Bribes in the form of suckers were no good. It really seemed like she could careless about being potty trained.

A friend of mine suggested a particular book and told me that purchase of the book also granted you access to the author in a forum so you could ask questions. I purchased the book, looked at the forum and found it all completely useful information. And then I promptly went back to what I was doing.

Until about six weeks ago when she went in a pooping spree. At bed time, she'd poop a little, request cleanup and then go back to bed. Then a little more poop and more cleanup. This would happen 3-4 times every evening. I'd ask her if she was done pooping and make her sit on the potty but no dice. She'd poop a little more and be back for cleanup.

After about 6 nights of this, her butt was getting raw and cleanup time was no fun for anyone.

I went on the Internet looking for answers and was reminded of the book I bought and the forum. We were 9 months into this and I had no idea what to do next and I didn't feel we were any closer to being trained than when we started.

The woman who wrote the eBook answers questions directly in her forum.  I posted where we were in the process and what we were doing and she came back with the fact that the pull-ups HAD TO GO.  NOW.  DO NOT PASS GO.  DO NOT COLLECT $200. 

So we went cold turkey with the pullups and it has been amazing.  Phoebe went from refusing to poop on the potty to doing it willingly.  We've only had a few accidents and those only in the first couple of days.  We even went to the zoo last weekend and she was perfect.

Night time training is sucking but not for the reason you think.  She's only had a few accidents at night mainly because I check on her about 2 hours after she goes to bed and then I get up about 3 hours later and take her to the potty again.  Then, sometime between 3 or so and 8:30 am, she'll get up and go potty without help.  I'm working on stretching the time of the second check so that I can train her out of that one.

So between getting up with her at 3AM and with Griffin, who is experiencing his first ear infection and a growth spurt at the same time, I'm not sleeping a lot.  But the fact remains that my kid is nearly potty trained.  I can't say she's perfect - we're not done.  But day time is no problem anymore.

Reasons to Home School: Traditional Schools Kill Creativity

Schools are all about conformity.  All the kids learn the same thing, at the same pace, in the same place, in the same way.  There is usually only ONE right answer and it's in the back - but DON'T LOOK!

The kids are taught to think the same.  And in some schools, they dress the same.  If there are no school uniforms, then fashions rule what the kids wear and next thing you know, your daughter wants to wear something stupid to school because she feels she will be a social outcast if she doesn't.  And she's right.  Quirky, divergent thinkers are rarely the popular kids in traditional schools because they don't look or act like the crowd.

But you know what my dad always taught me?
"Don't be a sheep.  Sheep are led to slaughter."  
It's a pretty depressing thought but then I also think about Tommy Lee Jones' comment in Men In Black:
"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

So that leaves private schools but they largely have the same problem as public schools and that problem is accountability. Accountability in and of itself is a good thing.  But trying to measure a child's education by grading the child on thinking the way everyone else thinks is destroying education.  

I will write more about No Child Left Behind in another post but I can tell you that Standardized Testing is the worst thing that ever happened to schools.  Teachers MUST teach to the test.  Teachers MUST teach test taking skills.  Teachers MUST teach things that have no practical use in the real world.  Seriously, how many times have you had to fill out a bubble form lately?  Your Census form?  Ok.  One form.  That has stupid easy instructions.  Do you really need 20 or more hours of practice filling in a few dots?

In the real world, divergent thinking is important.  Being able to think creatively to solve problems is revered.  No one puts "I know how to bubble in the answers" on their resume. 

How Homeschooling compares with Public Schools

Homeschool Domination  
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Why I love scrapbooking

september-scrapbook-wowAbout 15 years ago, I inherited literally HUNDREDS of pictures.  A lot of these photos were loose in boxes, some were in old photo albums, few were labeled and all needed some time and attention given them.

That's when I learned about scrapbooking and I never looked back.

After a few years, I branched out into rubber stamping because it gave me the ability to stretch my scrapbook dollar and a while after that, I moved into making my own cards.

At heart, I am a teacher and see my purpose as an opportunity to share what I love with folks who were like me 15 years ago.  I love showing people new techniques and I love learning them myself.  I am also aware that, when faced with the MOUNTAIN of supplies, endless ideas and, most importantly, the sheer financial burden that some crafts impose, that it's important to start at the beginning with those things that you really need instead of just following what’s trendy.

I’m going to use this space to show you a few simple techniques that make the most of your creative dollar.  I'd far rather you buy fewer things and be happy with them, than push you to buy the next great thing and have you quit your craft because it's too expensive.

My Summer Plans

I'm busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest.

I figured out last night that I am working on about a dozen different project right now.  Some are short term and will be over soon.  Others are ongoing projects and will be going on for YEARS (I'm looking at you children who want to learn to read and write and do math and be ed-u-ma-cated...). 

One thing I'm gearing up for is Camp Nanowrimo.  In case you don't know, NANAWRIMO stands for National Novel Writing Month and traditionally takes place during November.  Basically you commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in those 30 days.  My darling hubby was a NANOWRIMO winner a couple of years ago - meaning he completed his novel.  They also nost two smaller events in June and August called CAMP NANOWRIMO for people who basically can't wait for November.

Now, I've decided that the ideas in my head will not calm themselves down and must be written out in novel form.  This is part of the moving towards more writing in my pursuit of employment where I don't have to actually deal with people.... I'll have to talk about that more in another post.

So I have 3 story ideas.  I am working on writing out a synopsis for all of them but I think I know which one I will be writing during the contest.

Have you ever done anything like this?  I'd be interested in hearing how it went in the comments...

Bracelet #3–Not yet

I am using this book as a kind of curriculum for future bracelets. So far, I have made and destroyed about 10 bracelets because the weave is too uneven and ends up being wonky on one side but nice and tight on the other.

To this end, I am still working on a bracelet for this week.

I only drink at Disney World

My mother was quite the party girl when she was in her 20’s. She drove intoxicated on more than one occasion and often said that it was a miracle that she never got hurt or killed someone. She often said that she’d used up all of her luck and part of mine too and was relentless in telling me not to drink and drive.

I was a willing student for the most part. Our young next door neighbor was killed in a drunk driving accident and it marked me and made me understand that just because you are young does not make you invincible.

My parents were also quite liberal about alcohol.  We always had a full bar and my parents often offered to make me a drink and let me find out what it was like to get drunk in the comfort and safety of my own home.  I had had wine from a pretty young age and had tasted the hard stuff numerous times and never took them up on the offer. This cavalier attitude affected me in the way that I saw no point in sneaking off to get drunk with my friends.

However, on one occasion I decided to be one in the crowd when an older friend, who was driving, said he would “stay straight” so we could all get wasted.  And wasted was what I got.  But not so wasted that I didn’t notice my designated driver having a beer.  I confronted him right then and there and told him I wasn’t letting him drive me home.  I then took off into the night and walked about 2 miles to a convenience store with a pay phone (this was before cell phones, kiddies!).

I called my mother and told her I was drunk and needed a ride.  She had promised me that she would pick me up, no questions asked, if I EVER needed it.  I had mostly sobered up during the walk and was almost completely sober by the time she got there.

I got in the car and she said we weren’t going to talk then since I was drunk and we would discuss it in the morning.  I said that I wasn’t drunk anymore, but that I was PISSED!

I was mad that I had trusted someone to stay sober so I could get drunk. From that day on, I have only trusted three people in this world to stay sober: my husband who doesn’t drink, my mother when she was alive, and ME.

That’s right, ME. I know that I will be sober and have acted as the designated driver on many occasions while I watched friends be idiots while under the influence.

So this brings us to Disney World.

We have always stayed on property – meaning in a Disney hotel – while at Disney World.  Disney hotel guests have access to free transportation.  Disney World has awesome alcoholic choices.  And voila!  It’s like a match made in Heaven for a control freak like me.

Homeschooling Laws in Georgia–REDUX

blahJust a few of days ago, I posted this story about the laws in Georgia as they are on the Georgia Department of Education page.
Turns out that the Governor had JUST signed a new bill into law whereupon all correspondence now goes to the State instead of the to local school district.
As of today (5/9/12), the page has not been updated and there is no mention of any changes.  So I will keep watching to update you on this…

Bracelet #2–EDITED

IMG_0190I made this bracelet about 4 years ago and I’ve been trying to find the pattern ever since.  I’ve found patterns that are close but not exact.

It’s made with Swarovski 4mm bicones in Peridot and silver Delica beads.  I think the class I made this in was the first time I’d used Fireline.

Fireline is really fishing line but somewhere along the line, beaders found it and decided it was so tough and thin that it would make great beading cord.

EDITED:  Wouldn’t you know that after posting this item this morning and 3 years of searching, that I would find a resource that not only tells me what the name of it is but how do to it?  Here it is for your information… Hana-Ami Pattern