Saturday, October 29, 2011

Momma's Got a Job!

Our local public library has a new addition. A new employee. Someone who really wants to work there.

Me! (Yay!)

I wasn't really looking for a job, even though I wanted one. Sure, I checked into the career boards now and then, and checked the job openings pages for our local university and community college once a month, and I did take applications to a few places a couple weeks back because I was so feeling the financial pressure.

But, as a homeschooling mom, my husband made it clear to me that he did not expect me to go out and get a job just to try to make ends meet.

But I tried to keep my eyes and ears open just in case God had a plan that meant me working in order for Him to be able to provide for our needs.

Then lo and behold, I stumbled across an ad in the newspaper ... we don't even GET the newspaper at our house! We happened to be at my in-laws to pick up a tractor on a Saturday. I picked up their's and was reading it. There was a published list of people who were behind on their taxes, some of whom I knew. I asked if they were done with the paper so I could take it home with me. I wanted to pray over those names.

It just so happens, the employment classifieds happened to be in the section of the paper that I took home.

It hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw this little ad stuck in the middle advertising a part-time, evenings and weekends position as a Children's Services Assistant at the library! What could be better?!? I already practically live there, I know the Children's Services manager and another employee in that area, I can still do school during the day and Daddy can be with them in the evenings, and besides earning a small paycheck, I can make a contribution to our community.

I whipped up a resume to turn in with the application they required. I hand-delivered it on a Sunday afternoon, 6 days before their deadline. They called me the day of the deadline (Friday), asked if I'd like to come in on Tuesday for an interview. (Would I?!?) I interviewed on Tuesday and was offered the job on Wednesday --- a week and half after delivering the resume. It was meant to be.

I start on Monday. Today is Saturday. I can't wait!
My To Do list hasn't changed for this weekend though ... "Go to library" is still on it!

Watch out, world! Momma's finally got a job!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where Do You Grow?

It’s In the Valleys I Grow
by Jane J. Eggleston

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe.
It’s then I have to remember
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced some pain
I would never appreciate God’s love
And I would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow.
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it’s in the valleys that I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do
But, I am very sure of one thing,
My Lord will see me through.

He’s never failed me yet
Since His grace I’ve come to know,
And I can face life’s problems
For it’s in the valleys I grow.

My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death
His victory was Satan’s loss.

Forgive me, Lord, for complaining
When I’m feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for the valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it’s in the valleys I grow.

Copyright © 1977, 2005 by Jane J. Eggleston (Williamsburg, Virginia).

Monday, September 26, 2011

That would be no.

The answer is no.

We are not moving! Anyone who follows me on Facebook already knows this only too well.

I am ecstatic! I am thrilled! Now I can just get on with my life! Yay!!!!!

So, getting on with my life ... ugh. The 8-year-old son is crying. The 10-year-old daughter caused it. She's now here to admit that she hit him because he was having an attitude with her and she didn't like it.

I sent her off to go fix the problem. She caused it, she can fix it.

Back to my life ... my printer bit the dust. Not fair!!! Every penny we've saved has gone into our new barn, every penny we can get on credit is being considered toward the new barn. I don't have money for a new printer! And I use my printer/copier multiple times a day for our school work! Errrggg! Not fair!!!

Things I want ( but not really):

  • to go back to work so I have more money
  • to send my kids back to school so someone else can deal with them
  • to live closer to a grocery store, the library, and more neighbors for the kids to play with
Things I want (really):
  • for my kids to just get along
  • for my kids to WANT to do schoolwork all day everyday
  • a new printer/copier with a lifetime supply of free ink and paper
  • for groceries to be magically delivered to my door daily, for free (a girl can dream, right?)
Things I have:
  • the freedom to worship as I choose
  • the freedom to educate my children at home, any way I'd like
  • an extremely supportive husband
  • good friends
  • a barn (it's not built yet, and it's not actually truly paid for either (dang debt), but all that wood and steel is mine, by golly!
I'm reminding myself that it's good to count my blessings. Hope you're counting yours, too!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

What's it gonna be, Girl? Yes, or, noooooo???

I don't know. Still.

My dear, darling husband has been offered a new job. It's a great offer. It might be the answer to our prayers about him being delivered from his current awful job. We didn't go looking for this job. It came to him. And they REALLY want him.

But we will have to move if he takes it.

Brian has lived in this county all his life. Grew up here, went to college here, settled here.
I came to this county at the tender age of 17 for college and never left! I like it here.

But I might like it "there" too.
Facebook allows me to stay friends with people all over the world.
There are so many what-if's, I can't sleep at night.

I just want to know, for sure, which way we're heading with this ... going or staying? Either way, I can wrap my mind around it. But I can't keep up with all the gazillion mind-numbing thoughts that are plaguing me in the interim.

Oops, that's him calling now.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I just wish I knew how to blog better!
And I wish I had more time to figure out how to blog better.
And I wish I had more money.
There. I said it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mother's/Teacher's Instincts

Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.
Especially as a homeschool teacher. Especially as a homeschool teacher!

On Monday, we had our official first full day of school.
On Tuesday, we were burnt out.
Already?!? After only one day?!?

Well ... yeah. And since it's just me, myself, and I running this school (with hubby's limitless support), it's up to me to analyze why.

Let's see, on Monday we did a full day of schoolwork. We stuck with it and got it all done during the day. We made progress in subjects the schools measure.

Hmmm, maybe I see the problem here. I think my brain was in "public school mode." And the results: burn out.

I changed tactics for Tuesday. I let the kids lead the day. What they ended up doing was "playing" with the Legos all day. These kids are 10 and almost-9. 5th grade and 3rd grade. They did not just "play" with Legos. They CREATED with Legos! If you could only see the things they created! Amazing!

I went with my instincts of just backing off yesterday in order to avoid having us burn out before the first week of school is over, and it paid off. They worked cooperatively, creatively, & created masterpieces (they are not the type to build Lego kits from beginning to end; they just use the pieces from kits because those pieces are more fun and interesting than standard rectangular Legos). They also problem-solved. I can truly see where days like yesterday will benefit them as adults in the workplace. Can you?!?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that they also did their math and Andrew did his phonics lesson and Annie worked through a bunch of standards-based activities in some great computer software we have.

We didn't do history or science or grammar or writing or spelling ... but my instincts tell me we still did school.

Monday, August 22, 2011

One GREAT Day!

I found them!!!
I found the missing test results that have to be sent to the superintendent before the first day of public school! After losing sleep over this, I contacted a teacher-friend (you know, a "real" teacher - wink, wink) and asked if she would help me with the alternative to turning in standardized test results. The other option is to submit a paper signed by a "certified teacher" stating that she had reviewed samples from my children's portfolios and found that my children were progressing according to their abilities. She agreed to help. Sounds wonderful, right?!?

Not so much. Yes, problem solved, but another was created too. You see, I had known last year that I was going to have the kids take standardized tests this past spring, so I didn't keep portfolios! So, yes, my friend would help by looking at the non-existent portfolios and signing the papers for the super, but I now had to assemble the required portfolios!

Well, thank you, God! After spending time cleaning out their old binders last night (filled with labeled dividers -- as if I was planning to keep a portfolio of their work!), and typing up the form the friend would have to sign, and printing it (with my very valuable ink, I might add), and dragging book bags and piles of school papers (that were conveniently stored in several mass piles of mostly school papers) into our very neat and tidy new school room that had yet to acquire piles of papers ... yes, AFTER all this ...

I took one more look into a box that my dear, darling, helpful hubby had used to carry, um, piles of papers (etc) from the kitchen to the storage room prior to a party I was hosting. The party was less than a month after I had major surgery, so I certainly did need his help.

I had looked in this box before (when the panic set in because I couldn't find the test results), but as I dug into it, it was all stuff that pre-dated my surgery. They couldn't possibly be in there. But it was the only place I could think to check again (since I had already re-checked every single possible place 3 or 4 times). When I looked again today, I noticed, deeper in the box, under the items that pre-dated my surgery, there was a small pile of more recent stuff. A magazine, for instance! That had come well after my surgery! Gasp! Could it be?!?

I dug down even further ... and there they were! They were at the absolute bottom of the box!!!

Oh, again, thank you, Lord! You are so good to me!

I quickly assembled the rest of the packet, stuffed it, labeled it, and mailed it off!!!
Whew! Maybe now I'll sleep tonight.

On top of that, we managed to accomplish our first full day of school today! We've been building to a full day, and I had planned to have a full day, and I did it! I'm so proud of us!

Friday, August 19, 2011

What to do?!?

All I can do is pray!
I suddenly hit me early this week that I had forgotten about turning in paperwork stating our intent to homeschool again this year. (Should I really be concerned considering I looked at the classroom lists for our local school and my children are not listed?)

So, I started filling in the forms to send back to the Board of Education ... and realized I was missing something important!

We have the option here of submitting either standardized test results, or a certified teacher's evaluation. I did have the kids take the standardized tests this year, for the experience, and received the results much sooner than I ever expected.

Unfortunately, I received the results during my "living in my bed" phase ... pre-surgery. I had surgery mid-May, eliminating the need to live in my bed any longer, and renewing my entire life. Shortly after my surgery, even before I was fully and completely recovered, my mother also had a surgery and I went to stay with her for a week, then drove back and forth for yet another week.

Somehow, in all that, I managed to put those test results "somewhere." Do you think I know where that is now?!? When I need them?!?

Nope. :(

I have been looking. And looking. And looking.
Finally, I started praying. And guess what I found?!?

No, silly, not the test results. I found the library book we thought was "lost" and we still have time to return it before we have to pay for it in full! (In case you're curious, it was right where it was supposed to be ... in the library bin. Unfortunately, papers had also been thrown in there (not the test result papers -- I checked!), several coming to rest on top of this thin paperback. We've only been looking for 2 months.)

So, the prayers worked ... in a way. I found something that was lost ...

Please Lord!!! Please help me find the test results!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Change of Plans!

Ok, I'm making a somewhat radical change to my curriculum plans for this year ... not that anything was actually set in stone yet, but in my heart it was.

My plan was to study just American History this year and I REALLY wanted to use All American History, Jr. from Bright Ideas Press as our curriculum, but out of respect for my family's budget, I have broken through my own stubbornness and decided I will continue with Story of the World, which I already own and I know the kids enjoy.

But I still must admit that I'm so very disappointed.
<<Whine whine. Stamp my feet! Thrash around. Groan!>>

Why, oh why, do the school districts get money to spend on our children?!? Why isn't it diverted to parents who can prove they are doing the job?!?

We're getting there!

We are slowly adding in a little more school work each day, building up to next week's new schedule. The public school kids next door head back to school on Wednesday, eliminating the "play outside all day" schedule of summer.

Today we've already completed Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and they are almost done with their Math Placement Tests. We didn't start until after 10:30, they took a break for lunch, and it's now not quite 1:00. And they're almost done!

I do believe that when the "school year" really starts, we'll be good to go!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finally, a planner for me!


After searching both of our local teacher stores, and looking at what felt like thousands of planners online, I finally found the one that I think will work for me! It's editable, so I can make it my own, and it includes lots of fun doodads like a field trip planner, menu planning forms, chore charts and to do lists. It also includes pages for curriculum planning and yearly plans. 

I'm so excited to have found something I can buy just once, download to my computer, edit to make it my own, save it on my computer each year, and start again, saving it new the next year and the year after, etc.

So what is this wonder planner?!? It's the Weekly Homeschool Planner created by Jolanthe Erb at Homeschool Creations.

Y'know, my Facebook status today reads, "I really need to get organized. Fast! Life is creeping up on me!" Then POOF! Up comes a planner I hadn't seen yet, and it was the answer to my problems (fingers crossed!). Happy planning to me!! 
Weekly Homeschool 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  As an affiliate, I will receive a portion of the sale of any products purchased through links included in this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Your experience may vary.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

Today was karate day for me and Andrew. We go twice a week right now. We're only in our first month of this, and it's still summer, and none of our other fall/school year activities have resumed yet, so we haven't quite figured out how karate is going to fit into our normal/school life.

That said, Annie stayed home while Andrew and I went to the dojo (the karate training place). She was told that while I was gone, she had to have breakfast, get dressed, practice her piano lesson, and do a workout on the Wii.

I came home and she met me at the door in her jammies. Had she done anything I asked?!?

She had eaten tuna on crackers. For breakfast.

However, there was a hidden blessing in her disobedience.

She, my Annie, my 10-year-old, had done the laundry. (I HATE doing laundry!)
She had folded the dry towels, transferred the wet stuff, dried it, then STRIPPED MY BED and washed all of my bedding! (Kings-size bedding requires more than one load!)

It is now 9:19 pm and that little domestic diva has just finished remaking my enormous bed. (Hubby and I affectionately call it "the island.") She stuck with that dreadful job from beginning to end, from morning to night!

Lest you think that all she did was laundry, I must admit that in keeping with the idea that it is still summer and I personally want to enjoy some of it still, Andrew and I played on the computers all day (after getting our butts kicked in karate) and she watched LOTS of tv. There, I said it. We vegged. We still did lots of little ordinary things that need to be done, like meals, and walking dogs, and cleaning up messes. But we didn't do school, and we didn't do any big projects.

Except for Annie, who did the laundry. (What a blessing that girl is!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

School Days

Am I the only one who always has a better day on the days when we "do school" than the days that we take off?

We don't have a schedule, but we do have a routine for school days. Maybe the kids just respond better to the structure rather than the freedom of a no-school day.

Maybe I just feel better because on school days, I'm guaranteed at least a few minutes worth of "control" (ha ha ha ha ha! No, I don't have control issues!).

However, with yesterday being Saturday, we didn't have school. Everyone had a good day, and Annie, my 10-year-old, came home from playing with the neighbors, and took it upon herself to get out her sewing kit and started working on a doll for her friend next door. And she continues to make progress on it without any guidance or "teaching" from me. (I taught her how previously, many many months ago!)

Andrew, on the other hand, flounders without the structure ... if he's not allowed screentime. He's 8 1/2 and would be in heaven if I would let him play on the computer all day everyday. Too bad. I'm not that kind of mom.

Finally, I must admit ... this Mom gets bored without any "school" activities to keep her occupied. We have a busy day today, a full day, with no school activities. I'm already daydreaming about taking the computer along and creating worksheets and doing lessons plans! Can't do it, since the day's activities include church and a family party and a family movie ... but I'm being honest about what I'd rather do.

I'd rather "do school."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rest & Renewal

It hasn't even been 24 hours yet. We dropped the two youngest off at church camp at 4:45 yesterday (it took us until 5:15 to drag me away). The older kids don't live with us anymore. So, I'm home alone with just the two dogs while the man is at work. For 3 days.

It's now 1:45 in the afternoon and I haven't done much of anything. I've read some homeschooling blogs. I took a bath (with epsom salts to ease my aching body), then a shower so I could wash my hair. I did my hair and put on "clean the house" clothes. I took a birthday card out to the mailbox. I made myself a chocolate banana smoothie (just learned last week that if you put a frozen banana in the blender with some other stuff, it comes out like ice cream ... since I'm lactose intolerant, this is a HUGE finding for me!). I watched a DVD tv show that I had picked up at the library (we don't get regular tv anymore). Guess what I'm going to do next? You guessed it ... not much. I think I'll eat some potato chips, drink some pop (gasp!), and read my book.

Once a year, my children go off to church camp for 3 days and I allow myself a few hours to just shirk all responsibilities, eat some junk, and totally relax. I take the time to relish the quiet.

My husband and I don't "get away" generally, but even if we did ... we would be going somewhere else, and there would still be someone WITH me, and we would probably be DOING something. It's not the same. This is my time to be in my own house, with no children, and no husband ... just ME. (And the dogs, but they can't talk or turn on tv's, washers, driers, dishwashers, or any other noise-producing appliances.)

This won't last long, and I have a long list of tasks I hope to accomplish before they return, but for now, I want to thank God for this moment, this time ... for rest and renewal.

P.S. This is my last year of this, since the older one is aging out of this camp and will go to a different one, at a different time, next summer. I better start working now on how I will get a break next year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why I Homeschool Post #1

Smart Like Daddy

I've always wanted to write a "Why I Choose to Homeschool" post, but my reasons for homeschooling are so numerous, I was afraid I would have a book by the time I was done. If that happened, then I’d have to go through that whole lengthy publishing process, find an agent, go on tour, etc. I was reluctant to embark on the whole “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” adventure. Who wants to do that when they could be teaching grammar instead?!?

However, today I was hit by a revelation … two, actually!

The first I’ll write about in a moment. The second revelation was that I could share my thoughts over the course of several posts instead of all in one! Genius!

Revelation #1

As I sat reading Renee Tougas’ article about 4 Simple Ways to Teach Elementary Science, I was hit by a revelation! I could finally put my finger on an elusive thought that’s been flitting about my brain, teasing me. “This is why you want to homeschool, you just don’t know it yet.”

First, I must tell you, I’m married to an incredibly intelligent man.

And he comes from an exceptionally smart family.

That’s not to say that I’m not smart, or that my family isn’t either.

It just suddenly occurred to me … we are “smart” in different ways. I am book smart. I am “public school smart enough.” I am a reader & can teach myself just about anything. I can memorize facts for a test. I know how to spell, write, & speak well. I can do enough math to get me through the grocery store, to find the better deal on soccer cleats, and to calculate approximately how much paint I need for the living room.

But my man? (And his family?) Whew! They KNOW so much! I can’t even begin to list the things they know, but I’ll try to give you a few examples … they know:
·        How to raise honeybees
·        How to replace a belt (or any other part) on a tractor, lawn mower, or car
·        How to do their own wiring, plumbing, & roofing
·                How to locate certain stars in the sky 
·               What the Grand Canyon is like (among other national landmarks) 
·               What household goodies to use to doctor a bee sting (my mother-in-law almost scared me   away when hubby & I were dating when she taped a slice of raw onion to my foot after I stepped on a bee & got stung) *Don’t laugh! It worked.* (AND, I now know why it worked!)
·       How to can the veggies they’ve harvested from the garden they planted
·             What kind of bug that it, what bug it's related to, whether it's dangerous or not, and if we should get rid of it or put it to work in the garden or trees
·             Speaking of trees: what kind of tree that is, if it will make it through the winter AND, oh yeah ... 
·            How to tap maple trees & turn the sap into syrup!!! 

Sure, anyone can learn these things. But here’s what I’ve discovered that makes them different from me: they learned most of these things, hands-on, while growing up.

Almost everything I’ve learned in life has come from a book, in school. And now, as an adult, I feel like I don’t know a whole lot of “useful” information.

My husband also went to school, but what impresses me is the knowledge he gained from living “in the world” … as opposed to living in novels, like I did. I’m jealous.

I want my kids to be “smart like Daddy.” I want them to know how to do things. I don’t want them to just be able to spit answers back for a test, then forget them. When my kiddos went to public school, we simply ran out of time each day for “living.” We rushed around in the morning, spent the day at school (me too, as a substitute teacher), came home to argue, fuss, & fight over meaningless homework, ate, bathed, and went to bed. Oh yeah, I allowed some playtime in there somewhere.

I’m so thankful that God has allowed us to homeschool. My kids are learning so much more now! They might not know … hmmm. I was going to compare them to what their public school peers know, but I couldn’t find anything they are lacking yet. And the things they know that those “other kids” don’t? Now that’s priceless!

I will follow this up later with more reasons why we homeschool, but today’s revelation was a real eye-opener for me. We homeschool because I want my kids to be “smart like Daddy.”

*Please be sure to read Renee's article. She has done a fabulous job of helping my mind grasp what I really am using as an elementary Science curriculum.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer is for ... #2

Summer is for ... spending time with public-schooled neighbor kids.

Today we declared a "Movie Day." (Actually, we decided this last night. I quickly made up an invitation and they ran it next door before everyone went to bed.)

Andrew had requested the movie "Spiderman" from the library, but we hadn't watched it yet. I needed something to kill some summer hours because these kids were getting under my skin. So, we invited the neighbor kids to come eat popcorn and watch the movie with us.

Today, we ran to the Dollar Tree and picked up some cheap snacks, came home to tidy up the family room, and then we let the festivities begin. We had popcorn, cookies, pretzels with cheese, and Tootsie Pops.

It was fun. Everyone was happy. Including Mommy. Yay! Maybe not the dogs so much. They were stuck in their crate the whole time.

Summer is for ... #1

Summer is for ... curriculum planning.
Summer 2009 - The decision had been made to start homeschooling, using an online public school. A1 was going into 3rd grade, A2 was going into 1st.
Fall 2009 - What was I thinking?!? An online public school is still a public school! (However, I had not done due diligence when it came to educating myself about homeschooling, so how was I to know?) Let the research begin! Cancelled the online public schooling, filed the paperwork declaring ourselves homeschoolers, and started the kids on worksheets and workbooks (so they were doing something "educational") while I started bringing home armloads of books from the library. OH!!! So that's what homeschooling is all about. Ok, the picture was coming in clearer as I learned about the different styles and methods and curriculums. Now we're getting somewhere. Scrabbled together a makeshift curriculum for the 2009-2010 "school year" and kept up with my own studying ... of "How to homeschool" etc.
Summer 2010 - Discovered Classical Conversations somehow. Can't remember how, but if you saw what I do on the computer ... read an article, open a new tab each time I come across something I want to know more about, search for it in the tab, then leave the tab open and come back to it when I'm done with the first article. So, somehow I must've read about it somewhere online. Went to an informational meeting, took home the propaganda, researched it, discussed at length with hubby (dear man), and decided we'd try it for a year since we happened to have the money to afford it.
Fall 2010 - Started attending Classical Conversations (or CC, as members affectionately call it). The kids loved it. They loved making new friends, having playdates, eating lunch together. But Mom ... not so much. I like the program, for the most part. I love the curriculum. Let's say that much. What I don't like is getting up early on Monday mornings, scrambling around just like we're trying to get to school on time! No time for coffee, have to walk the dogs, brush my teeth (there were days when I forgot to brush my hair!) ... pack some breakfast because there's no time to eat! Wait ... isn't this the stuff we loved leaving behind when we started homeschooling?!? All of a sudden, my favorite day of the week became my most dreaded! Mondays are my favorite because the busy weekend, full of off-schedule activity, is put behind us and I can start out new again, refreshed and ready to tackle the world. OR, if it was a super busy weekend, we can take Monday morning off to regroup and rest before tackling the world. Either way, that wonderful Monday morning feeling went down the drain as I went back to my public-school-mom personality of trying to get everyone organized and out the door on time.
*We stuck it out for the year. Kids still loved it, although they weren't too upset the few times we had to miss it. But I couldn't wait to get back to our regular life when it was over. And that leads me up to Spring of 2011.
Spring 2011 - Mommy doesn't want to go back to CC. We set aside the money for it, but financially we're just scraping by ... why should we spend so much money on something that makes Mommy miserable? Who wants a miserable teacher-Mommy? (They can get those at public school!) So, let the research begin again!
Summer 2011 - Mommy got up the guts to talk to the Superintendent of our school (a.k.a. Daddy) about not going back to CC. Daddy says ok. I can still use the curriculum to do my best at giving my children a good education. Now the challenge is explaining to the children that we are not going back.
Someone say a prayer for me.
**P.S. We have continued very light schooling through the summer with a concentration on spelling, their weakest subject. Now it's the middle of July. We're still plugging in summertime fun, but we also hit Staples the other day for back-to-school supplies and that really put the kids in the mood for more! Mom - not so much! I'm realizing how much work I have to do to get ready to start back full-time. Ahem. Not really. We're homeschoolers after all. My goal is for us to enjoy the ride.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Japan had a crisis. Then another. And it just seems to keep going.

Thanks to this (not said in a thankful tone ... I'm deeply saddened for everyone affected by these events, and feel so helpless!) ... But, thanks to these events, I unexpectedly have my husband home for a week. He works in the automotive manufacturing industry. More specifically, he works for a Japanese auto manufacturer. Production has stopped for the week, and I suddenly have a handy helper!

It's been a wonderful day of progress, and now it continues. We decided last week (or the week before?? Time flies, you know?) ... we decided we would move two kids into one bedroom, another kid into a different room, and create a "school room" with the last available bedroom.

Thus, at this very moment, as I watch the news and share my news with you, my darling husband is upstairs with the kids, putting up the bunk beds! I ran up there long enough to run the vacuum over the area that the bunks will possess, because you know that spot isn't being cleaned again anytime soon!

There is so much work to do, so many steps to get to the final arrangement. I know it's cliche, but I'm exhausted just thinking about it all.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I'm Crazy Sexy.

I recently read the book Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr.

Kris Carr changed my life, and hopefully my future. And my children's future.

Although I haven't changed everything, the things I have changed have left me feeling so much better, physically and emotionally.

I highly recommend this book, for the learning experience, if nothing else.
If you have cancer, run, don't walk, to the closest bookstore!
If you don't have cancer, and you don't want to get cancer, you might be able to wait until it comes in at the library.
If you're feeling rundown with little zest for life, and mucho aches and pains, wibble-wobble wherever until you get it, force yourself to read it, and start making some changes.
If you're like me (with no cancer), you'll wait to get it from the library, read it cover-to-cover, return it, then buy your own copy. It's worth it.

Then you can be Crazy Sexy too. (Like me!)

Today's Walk

My Facebook friends know that when I walk the dogs, we go "3 telephone poles." Out here in the country, that's how I measure distance ... how many telephone poles is it? They're spaced evenly, and I can see them from my house. On the route we take, there is a cement pillar next to the 3rd pole from the corner of our yard. My general goal is to walk them to that 3rd pole, turn around, and walk back.

On bad weather days, the dogs seem to know that they'd better "go" sooner than that because there's no way I'm going to make it that far. "Three poles" seems more like 3 miles when I'm being battered by a cold wind. Thankfully, they don't like it either.

But lookie here! Spring has arrived (according to the calendar). We have more sunshine in our days. The temps have warmed up a little (emphasis on little). And I can handle going out without wearing my Carharrt overalls, winter coat, snow boots, and ski mask.

Some days I actually have walked farther than just three poles! A couple times, I even doubled the length of the walk! (Guess how far that was!)

But today's afternoon walk was the best!!! We walked three pole lengths, turned around, and then I JOGGED back!

Wa-hooooooo!!!! Mama's on her way back! Let's pray that I'm not a one-hit wonder. I'd like to make progress each week.

Better and Better


I really dread the task of walking the dogs (2 miniature schnauzers). Especially out here in the country where we seem to have wind 24/7 (except on those really hot days when we want it!). Especially here in Ohio, where the weather just can't seem to warm up for longer than a few hours, once a week. Ugh. I'm full of dread just writing about it!

However, over the course of the last year, my father has gone through his last days of cancer and died, my brother was diagnosed, treated for, and cured of prostate cancer, my youngest son started tests to determine what might be wrong with him neurologically, and I have had enough physical tests to last me a lifetime to rule out everything under the sun (that's right, there's nothing wrong with me) other than adhesions in my abdomen.

I've also homeschooled two children, lived through parenting a 17-year-old son through his senior year, and have bolstered my husband through a horrible work situation.

Anything else? Oh yeah, I got a crown on one of my teeth. But the positive side of that is that the dentist also took the time to fix my TMJ! Halleleuia!

Where was I going with all of this and what does it have to do with walking the dogs?

My point is that these walks have kept me up and mobile. This past year was enough to drive me to my bed. I wanted nothing more than to stay there with the covers over my head ... I know that sounds cliche, but it's the truth. And there were days when I did just that. And cleaned up pee in the house later. (Yep, some days I'd rather clean up messes than walk dogs in the cold, wind, and rain.) {It should be noted that my house does not stink from this failure thanks to an amazing product we use, which I would love to plug here, but I don't want you to stop reading my blog because you think I'm trying to sell you a product. If you're interested in knowing more, message me.}

But I digress. Again, my point is (this is what it's like to talk to me in person too!) ... my point is that instead of holing up in the house, and in my bed, I have been forced to get up and out. I got exercise and fresh air and a little sunshine once in a while. And I did it every day, a couple times a day. One of these dogs won't "go" anywhere except in his regular spots in the ditch during our walks ... he MUST be walked.

And guess what? I survived the year. I didn't die from grief, depression, exhaustion, or apathy. My children made progress in their learning thanks to my teaching, and we all managed to find something to eat most days.

Thank you, Joey and Rudy, for needing to be walked. Thank you, God, for your Sovereignty, for knowing what I would need, and for providing it. Amen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Good question!

Andrew, age 8: I wonder how many Plutos fit in the sun.
Mom: That's a good question!
Andrew: I know! Why don't you look it up?
Mom's fingers click and type ... Go, Go, Google Chrome!
Aha! Wikianswers has the answer!
Answer: 223,096,366 (Mom reads answer to Andrew.)
Mouths gape open at each other.
Andrew: Wow! That's a ding-dong big number!

I love days like this!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

With January comes a ramp up to our schedule. Our two youngest play Upward basketball (, which is a Christian-based program. We are also a part of our local Classical Conversations group (, which is a Christian-based homeschool program. We love both of these programs and we're so happy that we've reorganized our lives in a way that allows us to particpate in these.

But they do add to our schedule! CC meets all day on Mondays, from 9:00 - 3:00 (because Annie is in two sections of the program). For homebody homeschoolers, getting out of the house before 9:00 is quite an accomplishment for this family! Then, Annie has basketball practice on Tuesday nights. But that's also the night that Daddy has a men's prayer group to attend. Daddy and I also just started attending a small group that meets on Wednesday nights. The kids are happy with this because they get a cool teenage babysitter who plays games with them! Andrew's bball practice is Thursday nights, and then both of their games are on Saturday mornings. All of this only lasts a few months total ... and helps us get through these dreary, gloomy winter days. (Written on a gray, drizzly, foggy winter afternoon, as the temperature falls and we wonder if the roads will freeze before we leave for practice.)

Tomorrow, my big brother is having his prostate removed. He has cancer, and we're praying this takes care of it and leaves him with many healthy years to come.

Happy days and nights to all of you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mama is back!

When I left you last, it was Friday. I had experienced a less-than-stellar week, as a homeschool teacher/administrator/disciplinarian, and as a mother. I was so run-down. And I was feeling cruddier the longer the day wore on.

Shortly after I wrote that post, I started feeling increasingly worse. Brian came home late and was going to start dinner for us. Instead, he loaded me into the car and took me to the urgent care facility. I knew exactly what was wrong, and how to heal it, but I've had enough experience with this to know it would take antibiotics. I hate to even type it ... I have a urinary tract infection.

After peeing in the cup and seeing the doctor so he could diagnose what I had already diagnosed, we headed for the local pharmacy where the prescription would be waiting (I hoped). I waddled up to the counter (bounced, jiggled ... oh, they are so uncomfortable!) but it wasn't ready. Oh my ... I had to wait. At the grocery store. Did I mention how uncomfortable I was?? I wanted to sit there by the pharmacy and just wait, but prior to our arrival, and elderly gentleman had fallen and was using one of the chairs to wait for the paramedics. A pharmasicst was hovering over him, blocking the other chairs. and then the paramedics arrived and took over the whole area. Where was I to sit?? Ha! You'll like this ...

In front of the snack food aisle, they have two lovely leather (or leatherish) rocker recliners displayed along with snacks and drinks. Hmmmm. Yep. Looks like a good place for an uncomfortable woman to sit and wait. Oooo, that chair was comfy!!! I might've been happy to wait all night. I have a lovely view of the fallen-man happenings and they checked him and loaded him and got personal information about him from the pharmacy. And to be honest, it was infinitely better than standing with Brian, talking to one of his old co-workers (who I had never met) about his old job (which I don't miss) and that fella's wife (who didn't want to talk to me, a stranger, either). We had already made as much small talk as was required. In fact, I rudely walked away when she turned her head!

So, the silver lining to the whole UTI problem is this: I slept all night Friday night, and all day Saturday. Finally! God found a way to provide me with the rest I needed ... guilt-free. By the time Monday rolled around, I felt wonderful (except for a little bit of bladder discomfort still). My energy had returned, as had my good mood and my homeschooling mojo.

Mama is back!!!

Now I have to give you a bit of a flashback. On Friday afternoon, while I sat in bed feeling awful, I still managed to spend some time with the kids. I had been reading blogs and again came across a link for the Time 4 Learning website ( I knew our schooling needed a bigger jumpstart than I could provide, so I read up a little bit about this. I noticed that we could join and if we cancel within the first two weeks, I could get a full refund, and if we continue past that time, I could still cancel at anytime (but no refund).

I brought the kids in, and we tried the demo activities they provide. The kids wanted to give it a try. I explained it all to them, and laid down the law: NO Club Penguin until after they did a lesson on Time 4 Learning (T4L for short).  "Ok, ok, we want to do it!!!"

So I signed them up, and they gave it a try ... and I found it to be surprisingly great! It has appropriately staged educational lessons and activities. I was able to choose what level I wanted each child to be working at, and the kids can choose what subject to work on. I allow this since I'm using it more as a supplement to our normal school work than as our whole curriculum (although, depending on your standards for your child's education, it COULD be used as a whole curriculum).

It's been nice to have something new and fun but still educational that the kids can do by themselves (I did the first few with them) so that I can work on healing.

Today is Tuesday. On Monday, Mama was back. Today, we had a great day. I taught them some basic sewing skills. They were beside themselves with joy that we were doing something fun like that. I also finally started cursive writing. Annie was taught the basics in public school in second grade, but I never made her practice it at home, or use it for any of her work. And Andrew is now in second grade, so I guess it's up to me to teach it. Annie was glad to work on something she already knew. Andrew was at first excited, until he found out he would have to try it himself, putting pencil to paper ... and would have to ... gasp! ... practice!

Yes, today's motto is definitely "Mama is back!" Now let's hope she stays for a while!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oh Sleep, How I Miss You

This is the post where I bore you with boring details about our last few days.

Wednesday, I finally dragged myself out of bed when I heard one of the dogs peeing on the floor (and Andrew yelling "Rudy peed!" which meant I couldn't pretend it hadn't just happened). That was only the first dog mess I cleaned up that day ... the dogs then took turns throwing up.

As I desperately tried to catch up on the sleep I've been progressively losing lately, Annie decided to cut up her own apple. And proceeded to cut her hand. It wasn't deep enough to require stitches, but it was bad enough to require that she lay in bed for an hour and a half with Mommy, watching tv.

When I finally got up, I ran to town to get some forms mailed out, and to pick up fast food (and chinese) because Daddy was on a business trip that would bring him home later than usual. Unfortunately, the burger that I got for myself (I need burgers on days like this) must've had milk in the bun (I don't usually get burgers from this place). Considering the fact that I'm lactose intolerant, the milk was not a good thing. The day was officially over at that point.

And the sleep situation didn't get any better that night.

So, because I was supposed to get blood drawn Thursday morning, I couldn't eat after 8:00 that night. Maybe that explains why I barely slept. No bedtime snack to tide me over until morning. Thankfully ... oh, thank you, God and Brian! Thankfully, my husband, Brian, took pity on my tired state and told me I didn't have to go get my blood drawn. He even called to cancel for me. What a man!

Because I didn't have to leave the house, we were able to get an early start on the school day. Best school day so far this week. But since it's already Friday ... almost noon ... and we've done no school work and I've resorted to yelling ... really loud! ... after the dog peed on the floor a second time today ... I'm ready to give up!

Is it time to give up the freedom that homeschooling allows and send the kids back to public school? No way. But I'd love to have a guest teacher come in and run this place for a week ... whip us all into shape. Or how about a substitute parent who can do the job I'm supposed to be doing while I take a sabbatical ... and catch up on some sleep?

Oh Sleep, how I miss you.
Grouchy Mama

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stinky Feet

We've had two days in a row of sunshine. In addition, I finally slept well last night. These two facts added together equal a much happier mama.

For Christmas, I bought myself several Geo Puzzles. (I think I got them through Amazon.) They are fabulous! I didn't grow up with even an adequate education in geography. I'm working diligently to make up for this with my own children. We opened the Europe puzzle today since we've been studying Europe in Classical Conversations ( Andrew, the youngest at 8-years-old, put it together with minimal help from me while Annie did her math (she's 9 and 3/4). When she finished her math, Annie was challenged to do the puzzle herself ... with a timer! She had it finished in 20 minutes. I had her write her time on the board and I'll have them do it again another day. They really seemed to enjoy it. We haven't done puzzles in a LONG time, so it must seem like a new toy to them.

Upward basketball starts tonight. One of my favorite aspects of evening practices is that Daddy can take them and I can have a little private time at home. However, for this first week, I prefer for us to take them together so we can both meet the coaches. Barnacles. I want to be home alone!

Annie and Andrew love basketball! I'm very, very ready for them to get that exercise without having to employ the Wii. The Wii is great and I wouldn't want to give it back ... but once it a while it gets annoying to have them arguing over it and thumping the floor as they "get their exercise."

My oldest daughter, Caity, stopped by today to pick up some homemade soup and grocery coupons. She's 19 going on 40. Homemade beef veggie soup and grocery coupons. And she made a large payment on her school loan today with a goal of having it paid in full when she graduates next December. She's very balanced, with a good job and a healthy social life (and I do mean "healthy" since she's not a drinker/partier) in addition to her classes. I admire her maturity and enjoy her young spirit.

The only other child I should note today is Jack, my 17-year-old. I could usually say something positive about him, but the stench of his feet melted my brain yesterday and I'm not quite back to normal yet.

Smile, and put some life into your day!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Remain Flexible

It was a nice plan: breakfast, walk dogs, ready for day, schooling ... really good schooling ... lunch and chores and playtime and rest or just whatever. Finish any schooling that didn't get finished earlier.


After a terrible night's sleep, awake at 4:35, and back down for a nap at 7:00 a.m., my plan was already thrown off. Child #2 slept in until 10:00, and she's the slow starter. By the time I got through the "morning" stuff, it was already mid-afternoon.

We did get some good schooling done, but it was only reading and math. Not much if you knew how much I had "planned" to accomplish. Therein lies the reason for why more experienced homeschoolers always advise you to make your plan, but remain flexible.

Life happens.

New Year, New Attitude, New Blog

The phrase usually goes "A Day in the Life of ..." but after the year I've had, I've decided that my new blog will focus on the life in my days.

My aunt passed away from breast cancer on April 20th. My dad succumbed to liver cancer on July 8th. My brother's father-in-law died exactly two weeks later. Then his mother-in-law died. Then my best friend's father died.

Then, a couple weeks ago, that brother mentioned above was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He's 48 and in the midst of all that was happening this summer, he retired after spending his entire adult life so far as a police officer.

And today, my sister had biopsies done on three skin spots. My grandmother had melanoma, and my mother has had dozens upon dozens of pre-cancerous lesions removed. Being a certified Baby Boomer, my sister has had a perpetual tan all her life. No sun? That's ok. That's why they invented tanning beds. These spots could prove to be nothing ... but you've now heard how our year has progressed, so we're waiting with baited breath to learn the results.

I'm not trying to bring y'all down. I just want you to know where this blog was birthed from. We've mourned and mourned and mourned some more. And now I say: enough already! I know it hasn't been a year yet, so we've got a long road ahead of us, but it's time to re-focus.

So ... new year, new attitude, and new blog ... focusing on my real life.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not walking around knocking into doorways with a big ol' inflated ego. I don't think my life is that interesting. But maybe I can inspire someone just with my honest portrayal of our day-to-day life. I'm often inspired by reading the truth about others' lives ... be it their successes, their failings, or just their day-old ramblings. I'm inspired to get up and get going! Hey Jane! Get up and do something already! Quit wasting your life away, because it could be gone in a flash! In a blink.