Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions...Yes, I Make Them

I love New Year's Eve/Day.  What better than a holiday to celebrate the successes (or learning from the failures) of an old year and the freshness and grand possibilities of a new year?

Here are some of my resolutions for the New Year:

1. The Husband Project


One of my favorite friends let me in on this.  It's all about showing little acts of love on a daily basis for the hubby. Let's face it...husbands for the most part don't get the credit they deserve in this world.  Why not go the extra mile and let him know every day how important and loved he is?


2.  Wearing nicer shoes.  I am the flip-flop queen.  Or the sneaker queen.  I love my sweats and comfy clothes. But I want to improve my image, polish it a little. So this year, more cute shoes.  Truly, if you have a pair of cute shoes, you know you won't just put on the athletic pants or sweats...you'll make the effort to look a little more stylish.

3.  Focus more on healthy eating, less on what size I am.  I figure if I gear towards a healthier lifestyle, the pounds will follow. 

4.  Fostering more independence with the kids.  This year I have started leaving them home alone for stretches of time.  They have learned to cook basic meals and clean house and wash clothes.  This year the independence will extend to the homeschool life.  I want them to take ownership of their education.

How about you all? Do you make resolutions?  What are your hopes for the new year?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely and Admirable

I have a 13 year old son.

He has the biggest heart.  He will literally give you anything if he has it and knows it will make you happy.

He has a strong moral compass.  He is quick to point out if something seems 'not-right' or if an injustice has been done.

And like most 13 year old boys, he enjoys playing video games.

I am vigilant that the games he plays are age appropriate and not violent.  He will even tell others who want to get him to play 'M' rated games..."No thanks, I'm not allowed."

I get teased a little for that choice.  Or at least told that video games are harmless fun and it's all just 'make believe' anyway...why not?

My reason for 'why not' is this verse from the Bible:


I want my children to fill their minds with things that are lovely, admirable, noble.

There is too much violence in the real world already...why would you want your young children to actively pursue it as entertainment? 

Also there is this verse that applies:

 
I want their treasure and their hearts and minds on things that the world needs more of..not of what the world has too much of already.

It's a free country and by all means, let everyone raise their children how they see personally fit.

And please respect me for raising mine the way I see fit.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

That's What Mama Bears Do




As I posted a few days ago, my son is beginning immunotherapy, aka allergy shots, for his numerous allergies to...well, the state of Georgia basically.

Our primary allergy doctor is located in a town about 20 miles away.  On the interstate, on a good day, maybe a 30 minute car ride.

My son had his first injections at the primary doctor's office.  It was a wonderful experience...despite having to have 3 injections in one day.  But the nurse was super nice, and she did it all so quickly and efficiently that is was done before you could say "OWWW!"  Two went in the tricep area of one arm , one in the tricep area of the other.

So, in order to make the bi-weekly injections more convenient and affordable, they suggested I use a local doctors office in my small home-town. 

Sure, I thought.  Sounds like a winner...close proximity and supporting local business!  Less times at the gas pump!

So they sent me home with vials of allergy 'juice' and paperwork.

Fast forward to yesterday.

We all went to the local doctors office to get the next round of shots.

We waited in the waiting room for an hour.  No magazines. No television. The kids didn't even have a book or game. So to pass the time, a read the entirety of the paper work from the primary doctor's office.  I read how each injection is to be made specifically on the designated area of each arm.  And that we were to wait 20 minutes after the injections to see if there is a reaction.  I was surprised at the specificity of how and where the injections were to be given. 

"Sorry you have to wait so long! We are having computer problems!" chirps the receptionist.  I guess she could hear my kids whining through her little glass window.  But wait...they called two other patients back.  Hmmm....the computer problems don't affect those patients? 

When we are finally called back,  the nurse tells me "I had to do a ton of paper work on this, that's why you had to wait so long..."  Hmmm....that's a different story...but...why am I getting two different stories here?

She procedes to give my son the injections.  I noticed with each injection she is taking a l-o-o-o-n-g time.  Not the quick, precise movement of the previous nurse.

The final injection she gives just below his elbow.

Wh...Wha?  Hold on.  I *know* what the last nurse did and I *know* what I just read.  That wasn't right.  My son winced in pain.  That wasn't right.

After 5 minutes we were told we could leave.  Without her checking the injection sites for a reaction.

Now my alarms are going off.  She didn't know what she was doing.

I called the primary nurse.  I asked her about proper injection procedure.  When I told her what happened, she sounded alarmed. She called the other nurse (whom I shall refer to at this point, Nurse 2)  and told her that she performed incorrectly and told her how these injections are to be administered.  She called me back and asked me if I wanted to return to their office. I said YES.

So at this point I realize I have to go back to Nurse 2 and take custody of his vials of allergens.  UGH. 

I hate confrontation.  But now the Mama Bear Mode was in full swing.

She stuck my baby with needles and didn't know what she was doing.  She either lied to me or at the least wasn't honest with me. There was no way she would ever touch my kid again.

Let's just say, by the time I left the office, I had my son's allergens and the nurse looked like a whipped dog.

And despite the money, time and inconvenience, I will be driving to the primary doctor's office from now on, twice a week.  Cause that's what Mama Bears do.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How Do You P.E.?

When I was a kid my least favorite class was P.E.  Well, first it was math.  I really don't remember structured P.E. classes until middle school (back when it was called 'Junior High')..and then I hated it.

I was always a skinny, uncoordinated kid, so asking me to dribble a basketball and run at the same time was just as impossible as asking me what the square root of 111 was.

However, that isn't to say I disliked physical activity...on the contrary I LOVED gymnastics (no formal lessons, just out in the yard with my friends attempting back walkovers and handstands).  I loved swimming. Skating. Dance. Climbing trees. 

Now that we homeschool, I truly do not have a structured approach to physical activity.  There are mornings or evenings when we walk around the neighborhood.  My kids climb trees.  In the summer they go swimming constantly.  They ride bikes and attend ballet/ tae kwon do classes.  Yesterday we all went to the military base and walked the 5k track.  We own a trampoline.  When I have to get on to them more than enough times to do something, they are required to run laps.

We also discuss the importance of exercise and how our muscles work.

How about you all?  Do you have structured P.E. time?  Or do you just allow opportunities for your kids to be active?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

White Chocolate Chip-Cranberry-Almond Cookies

I made a batch of these on a whim for my husband to take to his office mates. 

One of them declared them to be 'crack'.

Another offered to be my Santa Claus this year.

People from other areas were coming to partake of the crack cookie heaven.

So I am sharing with you all.

White Chocolate Chip-Cranberry-Almond Cookies aka "Crack"

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter MELTED
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp of each: vanilla, almond extract and rum flavoring
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream together melted butter and both types of sugar until well blended.  Beat in flavorings, egg and extra egg yolk until light and creamy.  Mix in sifted ingredients just until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds.  Chill dough for 1 hour.

Roll out 1 inch balls of dough and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until lightly golden around edges.

Let cool completely on the cookie sheet.

Be the most popular mom and wife this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blessed to be a Blessing

I just got finished grocery shopping with my kids.  I was annoyed to have to pay over $200 for didn't seem like a whole lot of groceries.

The van was low on gas, so while at the Kroger I stopped at the gas station to pump gas.

As I was pumping gas, an older, beat up looking car pulled up on the other side of the pump.  A lady approached me from behind...


"Ma'am? Can I please bother you to get me a little gas?"

I replied that I didn't have cash. 

"I don't want any cash...I need gas. Even if it is just a little..."  Desperation in her voice made me believe her.  I looked in her car.  Two little, scared little girls peeped out from piles of clothes and household items. The cat meowed from its carrier.

She continued, "My house burned down...I have two kids, the little one has the flu, and a cat, and everything I own is in my car. I don't know what else to do but go back to Florida, where my family is.  I keep praying to God, but He doesn't hear me..."  At this point she is almost sobbing.

"He doesn't hear me....I just pray and pray.  I lost a baby last year at this time and I keep wondering "Where is God? Why doesn't He help me??"

I filled up her tank with gas.  I asked her if she wanted me to pray with her.  She said yes, so we stood in the gas station holding hands and praying. 

I left her with a hug and told her girls "Merry Christmas".

I'm not telling you this story to make myself look good....

I'm telling you this to inspire you to not be cynical this Christmas.  When someone needs your help, give it, what ever you can, what ever it takes.  Show some one who is hurting that YOU care, even if the world seems like it is caving in.

I wish I knew what lie ahead of her.  I hope she makes it safely to Florida.  I hope if that is ever myself and my children in desperate need, that someone BELIEVES me.

I wish her and hers all the blessings that God can shower upon her. 

And I wish the same for all of you too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Season



Every year we do something a little different for Advent. 

One year we made a wreath out of fresh greenery and placed the traditional three purple, one pink and one white candles to be lit each Sunday of Advent along with a Bible verse that corresponded.

This year we made an Advent banner, courtesy of this lovely blog:

http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2012/11/free-printable-advent-ornaments.html

I printed out the triangles and wrote an activity on the back of each one.  Things like 'write a note of apprectiation to someone in our family' or 'have a movie night of Polar Express with cocoa and popcorn' and 'Make gingerbread houses'.  Also I downloaded some corny Christmas riddles for the kids, cut them out and taped one on the back of each triangle.

I paper-clipped each triangle onto a length of shiny ribbon and hung it across the fireplace mantle.

Some other ideas for each day are:

Study different countries and their celebrations at Christmastime.
Learn about St. Nicholas and leave a shoe out for him to fill on St. Nicholas' Day.
Do a random act of kindness for a stranger.
Make snowflakes out of paper.
Make salt dough ornaments.
Learn a new Christmas song to play on the piano.
Make Christmas cookies.
Read all our favorite Christmas stories.

Simple, inexpensive fun.


How about you all? Do you celebrate Advent?  And how do you celebrate?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Doing Hard Things With Dracula



Have any of you ever taken a look at readers or school books that were used back at the turn of the century?  OOPS...I mean the end of the 1800's and beginning of the 1900's. (NOT the y2K...although that will apply later in this post.)

Children were assigned classics...Robinson Crusoe, Around the World in Eighty Days, Treasure Island.  The original versions.  Nowadays kids are handed the same stories, but in an overly simplified version.  It's the literary version of the mother gull pre-digesting the fish for the young.  Sure, the young get fed, but it's no substitute for flying out over open waters and diving for a fresh, wiggling fish of your own.

The whole thing is a pet peeve of mine.  When you lower your expectations, you are lowering the bar.

Now, I am all for building confidence in struggling readers.  Let them read what they want to and what they are comfortable with.  But don't be complacent in the safety of the shallow waters...

Dive in to the deeper realms. 

We are studying the 1800's in history and around mid-October I thought we should all sit down and read Dracula.  Round robin style, as we do when books are long or somewhat difficult in nature to comprehend or with vocabulary words that may need clarification.

So we started reading one chapter a day. 

The language is a little archaic at times.  It took us up until today to read through the entire thing.

But, oh, did we enjoy it.

We spent a lot of time with these characters...Van Helsing, Mina Harker, the curious Renfield, and of course, the Count. 

Reading Van Helsing out loud is somewhat akin to speaking like Yoda. But we pressed on.

My son loved everything about it.  My daughter, who is ten years old, had only one complaint: it was too long she says.  But we became very engrossed in the story, despite looking up words and having to discuss what was happening and why at certain points.

Sure, I could have handed them the Great Illustrated Classics version, condensed and pre-digested.

But I don't think we would have enjoyed it quite as much.

And a little lesson within the lesson...every once in a while, do the hard things. See it through to the end.  Battle the demons of self-doubt and claim your victory.

It's all the sweeter that way.

Friday, November 30, 2012

K.I.S.S.

Y'all know what that stands for, right?

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

(Sorry, this isn't a post about kissin'.  :D  )

I have to remind myself of this every time Christmas season rolls around, because nothing is worse than feeling like you were too wrapped up in whatever event that you 'missed it'.

When my kids were little I would plan these cool birthday parties and these really creative cakes and take tons of pictures.

You know what I remember? Stressing out over the cake, the party and the pictures.  And truth be known, my kids would have had just as much fun if I had bought a cake from Publix, let all the kids do what ever they wanted, forgot the camera and was fully engaged.  Which I eventually did.  But those few birthdays I wasted over my own need to impress, well, those are days I will never get back.

Now I worry less about getting the perfect 'shot' and enjoy just BEING and ENJOYING.

Yup, nothing sucks the joy out of a birthday party or a holiday season quicker than stress.

So this year...simplify is my mantra.

A smaller tree is just as effective as a huge one...and much easier to decorate.

Dragging 5 boxes of ornaments out of the attic is never fun.  I donated most of what I had last year to Goodwill. 

It won't kill us to miss this event or that party.

A few gifts that are truly wanted mean more than having a bunch of 'filler' packages under the tree.

A visit to a local family that has a light display inspired by their son who is a cancer survivor is just as beautiful and more meaningful than driving 2 hours and spending over $100 at Callaway Gardens to see those light displays.

Our one big hurrah is a caroling party the Friday before Christmas.  Other than that, I don't forsee any other Christmas parties.

It's my family I want to remember this season..not the stress over time wasted and money spent.

How about you all?  Is a Simpler Season on your Christmas list?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mom Guilt

Took my 13 year old son to the allergist yesterday.

Now, for a little background info, I was raised as an Air Force Brat.  And despite the FREE medical care on the Base, we never, NEVER went to the doctor. Well, unless it were for vaccinations for school or a dire emergency (like the time I sliced open my hand climbing a chain link fence.  And even then my mom was all "I'm not sure she needs to go," to which my brother replied "I can see the inside of her hand Mom! Take her!"  But that is another story altogether.)

SO unless we were dying or there was a threat of jail time...we just toughed it out.

My son has always had allergy symptoms, along with everyone else in the state of Georgia.  Fall and Spring are times we stock up on Zyrtec and tissues.  But he has also had episodes in the past involving antibiotics, and cats, so I just bit the bullet and had him checked out.

The doctor looked in his nose and deemed it 'tired' looking...tired of being red and inflamed.  He looked in his throat and said it was 'cobblestoned' from all the drainage.  I guess all the drainage cut grooves into his throat.  Poor kid.

The doctor said to my son, "I can tell you are not a complainer, are you?"  No, he isn't.  My sweet son just toughs stuff out until it becomes 'too much'.  My daughter does all the complaining for the both of them.

A skin test was performed on his back.  The kind where they scratch the surface of the skin and apply a sample of an allergen.  Then they wait for the reaction.

My son's back looked like he had laid in a bed of nails.

Here's the results:

Allerigic to  birch, hickory, pecan, pine, cedar trees...about 5 different weeds....cats and dogs...molds...dust mites...cockroaches....and the worst one of all...grass.

The grass reaction was off the charts.  The reactions were scored on a scale of 1 to 4.  Everything he reacted to was a 4...grass was written down as '4 + '. 

I'm now in a whirlwind of scheduling twice weekly allergy shots, washing bedding in 130 degree F water once a week, zippered pillow covers and mattress covers. 

I'm NOT selling the dog. No way!

The doctor explained to me that a lot of his distractiblity issues could be due to allergies...when the body is producing histamine and fighting the environment, it is comparitive to running a race.  The body gets exhausted.

I feel so guilty though.  I should have taken him sooner...when he was younger.  Maybe he would be so much better by now.  I just thought allergies were something that everyone just has to suffer through. 

Now I know.  And the cleaning, scalding, injecting has begun.

Wish me luck.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Boundaries and the "Bug Man"

It's no secret that I live in the South. The DEEP South, Honey, with sweet tea and cornbread and "Bless Y'all's Hearts".   And calling anything 'salad' when we add mayonnaise and boiled eggs to it.

And bugs.  My lands the bugs.  Every good Southerner has a regular 'date' with the exterminator, or as we refer to him in this house, The Bug Man.

I have a wonderful exterminator, yes, but it's the dispatcher whom I truly enjoy.

She is as Southern as a butterbean and sweet as she can be.  When she calls to set up our bi-monthly service, it always winds up being a 10 minute phone conversation.

"Hey girl! It's time for your service! Oh now Honey, you don't have to wait til payday, you can just send that check right on in the mail to us.  Is 5:00 too late? I know you have kids, I would hate to mess up their supper time.  You have a good day now, hear?"

Or something like that. 

I have never met this lady, but I really do enjoy her.

So she calls yesterday and I can tell something is off.

"Hey! It's time for your service.  Did you have a good holiday? (I replied that I did and asked her if she did)...Well, it was bittersweet.  My Grandpa wanted us all to get together for Thanksgiving, the whole family, and we did-which was really great!  But my Grandpa died yesterday so it was his last Thanksgiving....but it was wonderful that he had just what he wanted."

Poor girl.  My heart just ached for her.  So I told her I was so sorry.  And we set up my Bug Man appointment for next Monday.

Here's my dilemma....I feel the need to send her a sympathy card, but I don't even know her. I don't even know her last name. And how weird would that be for her to get  a card from  a virtual stranger?  But yet I just really, really want to.

I need to know if that is overstepping my boundaries.

What say you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

South Beach Friendly Menu for the Week

Menus for the next several days include....

Asian marinated flat iron steak with stir-fry broccoli, water chestnuts and peppers and onions.

Baked chicken, roasted vegetables, salad

Chicken and quinoa salad with zuchini, onions and broccoli (using left over baked chicken) dressed in a lemony, garlicky, olive oil based dressing.

Broiled shrimp, vegetables and salad

We are big leftover fans.  I tend to cook a big batch of whatever and we have it for at least two days. 

So far the kids are game with the South Beach plan.  Of course, I will allow them a side of rice or potato or pasta.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Update From the 'Beach'

Man, I wish I *was* at the beach! 

Nope, I am referring to the South Beach Diet plan that I have been on. 

It's been about a week.....

and I have lost 6 pounds. <Crowd goes wild...>

The best part?  I haven't really craved sweets at all.  Since I am allowed to have sugar-free Jello, that has kept the Sugar Monster at bay.

Bread is another story...I'm a bread and pasta girl.

The other best part? I haven't even felt hungry, in fact, there are days I make myself eat a snack to keep my blood sugar levels even.

Some little things that I have found to be tasty are:

a slice of Swiss cheese and a slice of ham, rolled up with a little Dijon mustard.

Greek yogurt as a substitute for mayo in chicken salad.

Pepperoncini pepper juice and olive oil make a pretty good vinaigrette dressing when you run out of balsamic vinegar. If you like spicy stuff that is.

I'm still on the strictest part of the plan, Phase 1, which forbids any bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, crackers, corn, and sugar.  This should continue for another week, then onto Phase 2 where whole grains are introduced.

The one thing I am a little tired of is eggs.  I have had a variety of 'omlettes' every morning, but an egg is still an egg.  I've never been so excited about the prospect of high fiber cereal or oatmeal for breakfast!

I am so pleased with the results of this eating plan.  No hunger, no raging cravings, weight loss and just the overall healthier feeling I have experienced have made this a winner in my book!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tis The Season For Peer Pressure






My 10 year old daughter says she wants an ipad for Christmas.

I told her to quit smoking crack and.....NO.

(Okay, I didn't tell her to quit smoking crack.  But I did tell her no.)

She wanted to know "Whhhyyyyyy?"

My response:  "What does a 10 year old need with an ipad?  And do you realize how much they cost? NO."

So of course after she asked me three more times about getting an ipad I asked her why she wanted one so badly.

"When our Sunday school teacher asked what we wanted for Christmas, EVERYONE else said they wanted an ipad except me! I just wanted an American Girl doll and accessories.  Someone made fun of me."

Huh. 

My response?

"They are all just saying they want one because everyone else is saying they want one!"

Then I showed her a video on YouTube of lemmings jumping off a cliff.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOOs8MaR1YM

It was my hip, high-tech way of asking her "If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?"


Seriously...it's a sad world we live in when a 10 year old little girl feels awkward for only wanting a doll for Christmas.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Doin' the "Beach"

Okay, I confess..I have always gave diets a bad rap.  Sure, if you follow a diet you will lose weight...and when you stop the diet you gain it back.  It has to become a 'lifestyle'.

A dear friend of mine has told me of her success on the South Beach Diet and I was a little jealous (7 pounds in one week!) and a lot curious, so I of course went and got the book cheap-cheap at the local used book store.

After reading, I am convinced that these people know their stuff.

South Beach is more of an eating plan than a diet. For the first two weeks you eliminate white flour, sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta and fruit from your diet, to detox from sugar and to bring your insulin levels back to normal.  (And they explain exactly WHAT insulin does and HOW it affects your body...) Then gradually you add back in whole wheat products, certain fruits, etc.

What I love:  No counting points or measuring portions! 

                      Basically you are eating in the first two weeks lots of lean proteins and nutrient packed
veggies, cheeses, eggs and nuts. 

You never feel hungry. I actually felt 'full' all day yesterday...but I will admit feeling a little 'blah'.

I love that this is a way you can eat the rest of your life.  It's more about making healthy choices and I am all down with that! I want my kids to see food as fuel for their bodies and to make wise decisions regarding what they eat.

The recipe and meal suggestions are EASY to prepare and easy to adapt to eating in a restaurant.  I won't have to fix my kids one thing and myself another.  In fact, many of the suggestions are things we eat regularly as a family anyway...grilled salmon, chicken, steak...just pass on the bread and potatoes and opt for more salads and veggies. Easy! Now, I will not deny my kids bread or pasta or fruit...but I will have to maintain will power around these things.

I love how the author explains the 'why' of how this plan works.  Everything he says makes perfect sense about insulin levels, blood chemistry, etc.

Okay, I've only been on this one day and I'm sure I am in for some days when all I want is a chocolate bar and buttered toast.  But I'm willing to try this just to see if it works!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

That 13 Letter Word

Do you ever have those moments when you feel God is trying to tell you something..and you kind of keep wanting to push it down because it is NOT what 'many people' would accept?  And so you go on tying yourself up in knots because, even though deep down in your heart, you know what God is telling you but the pressure...OH the pressure from all sides around you, just wants to tell you that little voice is wrong?

Next year my son will be in the 9th grade.  (Hold me.)

And of course instead of worrying about what we are doing THIS year...my thoughts fly to next year and I just get overwhelmed.

And it's all because of one word...one 13 letter word... ACCREDIDATION.

I've looked at online schools.  They are wonderful...but not feeling it.

I've looked at 'boxed' curriculum that is accredited...still not feeling it.

It's not what we love, what has 'worked' for us in the past. 

So of course I want to ignore that little voice that says "Follow your heart.  YOU know your children best."

Which is then followed by that voice that says "What if you screw up your kids?? What then?"

Sigh.

SO all the thoughts of just doing our 'thing' right on through high school are daunted.

Until I had a conversation with a fellow homeschooling mom who was homeschooled her self.

Guess what? When your homeschooled high schooler applies for college...they don't necessarily care about accredidation.  They care about grades, transcripts, entrance exams...and if your high schooler completes college courses while still in high school, it proves they are capable of doing college level work. What accredidation *is* useful for is getting the HOPE grant..which, if you do not have the accredited curriculum, you wind up getting the HOPE as a refund at the end of your college term anyway.

Accreditation is only important to those who stand to make money off of convincing us that we NEED to have it.

Can I tell you that conversation has been like lifting a weight off of my shoulders?

I know my point of view is not shared by many moms in the homeschooling community.  It's okay.  I'm doing what I know to be best for the education of MY kids.

Ahhh...the luxury of educational freedom.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh, The Guilt

We are down to one kitten, after getting rid of the other three. 

For the first week, she was really cute.

Now she is climbing on the bird cage, terrorizing the dog, digging in my plants and creating all sorts of havoc.

My daughter, who LOVES animals (her nickname is 'Ellie Mae') even said "I wish we could give her to someone else. She is annoying!"  My son echoed the sentiment.

Sigh.

I wish I could say I love her...

I don't.

Cleaning a litter box is just one poop related chore that I just don't want to have.

So I put an ad in the local credit union 'bulletin'.  I really don't want to have to take her to the pound.  She deserves a family who will love all her little, annoying kitty ways.

Until then, wish me luck.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Does Curriculum Really Matter?

I think I have been a homeschooler long enough to answer this confidently:

Not really.

In the past, every Spring brought out anxiety over which curriculum to use, which was better than the next, etc.  I've done everything from Google-schooling (finding random activities and free downloads online) and spending hundreds of dollars on 'top-notch' curriculum.

My verdict is....none of it is any good if you don't enjoy it.

Take for example my science curriculum.

Not cheap.  Lots of great books and activity sets though.  A teachers manual with every day of every week planned out for me.

*Yawn*

My science loving kids just weren't lovin it.

Yesterday I just 'went rogue', and did things the way I always do...spend a little time on Google, found activities that corresponded with our science topic, and meshed the two together.

The kids had a wonderful time.  After reading our lesson about buoyancy and density, we did several experiments including building a aluminum foil boat and seeing how many pennies we could add to it before it sank, used a potato chip bag, 100 pennies and a margarine tub lid to see how we could make something that would float and carry all the pennies, watched a video demonstration of the Archimedes Principle (which also taught us the formula of measuring the displaced water to find the weight of the object floating), as well as a Mythbusters episode on our very topic.  We added salt to water to see if we could 'float' an egg after we studied the Dead Sea and learned why it is so easy to float in.  We floated an ice cube in a glass of water and then discussed why the same ice cube would *not* float in a cup of rubbing alcohol.

It was engaging, and it was fun.

I know moms that stress about getting the perfect curriculum.  I hate to tell them this, but it doesn't exist.

What makes a curriculum 'perfect' is the passion of the teacher teaching and of the students learning, and you can't find that for sale anywhere.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hissin' and Spittin'



A stray cat had kittens under my shed approximately 8 weeks ago.  They have just emerged recently and created all kinds of havoc at my already 'close-to-charging-admission-to-our-zoo' home.

The kittens were feral, meaning they had never interacted with humans.  To say they were distrustful is an understatement.  After trapping them and keeping them contained in our rabbit's outdoor pen, we soon realized how opposed to humans they were.

If you reached out a hand to pet them, they would hiss, spit, climb the walls and generally display bad kitty behavior.

So everyday I made a point to get in the pen, sit, pick up one hissing, spitting cat at a time and just love on it.  Despite the scratches, I kept on.

My daughter thought I was crazy. 

"How can you do that? Aren't you afraid??"

I explained to her that if I didn't, those kittens would never learn to interact with people.  No one would want them, and they would remain stray cats all their lives, never allowing anyone to get close to them.  "They have never experienced love from people," I told her. "They need to learn to trust that not every hand that reaches out to them is going to harm them...that sometimes those same hands provide love and comfort. You just have to overcome their fear with your love."

She thought for a moment.

"Kind of like people. I think mean people just need love," she replied.

God loves us the same way.  Even when we hiss and spit and don't trust, He keeps reaching out His hand to show us that His love is stronger than our doubt.

And she's right...those people who are mean, hissin' and spittin' all the time...they need that love more than we know.

Friday, October 5, 2012

That's It?

Yesterday I took my kids to their pediatrician's office.

He is a delightful young man who loves his job and loves whenever we bring him something 'interesting' to examine.  yes, we have had 'interesting' conditions around here. Don't judge me.

Anyway, he asked my son, "How's school going?"

My son's reply: "Great!"

Doctor: "What school do you go to?"

Son: "We're homeschooled!"

Me: (Waiting silently during that split second when the conversation hangs in the balance...either tipping into the slightly confused reaction or the enthusiastic reaction to our admission of homeschooling....hoping it tips in the favor of enthusiasm...)

Doctor: (face lights up) "That's great!  I am always intrigued by homeschoolers!"

Me: (Still silent, but now hoping the doctor isn't one of those people who like to quiz homeschooled kids on math facts or spelling words because he assumes they are all brilliant...not that my kids aren't 'brilliant'...at least, in MY heart they are brilliant, but realistically...rather average.)

Doctor: "My wife and I considered homeschooling our four kids, but she said she just couldn't do it. She doesn't have the patience."

Me: (Still silent, but now smiling knowingly and cheerfully, and thinking to myself 'there are lots of days when I don't have the patience either!')

Doctor: " So tell me...."

Me: (Still silent but now on edge a little....what?? Tell you what??? DO we socialize? What curriculum do we use??? Do I plan on homeschooling through high school??? Do I worry that I am screwing up my kids?   Go ahead Doc, I have answered them all....)

Doctor: "What time do you all get up in the morning?"

Me: (Silent and dumbfounded. That's *IT*?)

Son: "Our alarms are set for 7:00."

Me: (Silently grateful he didn't follow that with "...but my mom lets us sleep in a LOT!")

Doctor: "Oh!"

And....that's it.

Huh. Interesting. Never had that one before.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's For Dinner

Here's what is on tap for dinner the next several days...

Easy Broccoli and Cheese Soup with Homemade Yeast Rolls

Creamy Chicken and Biscuits (kind of like chicken pot pie, only topped with biscuits instead of a crust)

Grilled Pork Chops and Applesauce with Baked Sweet Potatoes

Homemade Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Tossed Salad

Roast Chicken, Dressing, Green Beans and Salad

I don't know about you but I am so looking forward to Fall flavors...apple, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cinnamon and spices...and comforting soups and stews and such. 

However, living in the South, the weather still warrants grilling out!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Field Trippin'....Mountain Style!


Welcome on our field trip to the North Georgia mountains!  In history we are studying the Gold Rush...did you know Georgia had it's own gold rush, only ten years prior to California?  In Dahlonega, we toured a gold mine.  NOT for the claustrophobic!




There were bats in there as well.  Not flying around, thank goodness!




Then we tried our hand at panning for gold.  We all wound up with a vial of little gold pieces and a few small gemstones- amethyst as well as peridot.




Then we had a picnic lunch at Amicolola Falls!  The weather was wonderful...in the mid-60's and very Fallish!  This picture was taken from the top of the falls...I love the view.




You can walk down the steps to view the falls....many, many steps! 





Ain't it purty?




20 minutes or so up the road is Ellijay, Georgia.  We stopped at an apple orchard to pick some apples.
And sampled one or three during picking...



 
 
 
I love living in Georgia!  In just a matter of hours you can be at the beach, in the mountains, in a busy, bustling city or in a tiny, rural farming community.

And I love being able to reinforce our lessons with hands-on field trips like this!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Faster Than You Can Say "Tortelloni"!

I made one of the easiest, tastiest dinners last night that I have ever made. 

So I will share with you!  Sorry, no pictures.  I can't even take pictures of the left overs because...

THERE ARE NONE!

That's how good this was.  Even my kids had seconds.  And that is saying something.


Tortelloni with Browned Butter and Sage Sauce

2 packages of Buitoni cheese filled tortelloni
1 stick of butter
about 1 tsp of dried sage.  If you are lucky enough to have fresh, about 12 leaves.
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Put on pasta to boil according to package directions.

In a stainless steel saute pan, melt butter.  Add sage.  Go ahead and taste to see if the sage level needs a boost. Stir over medium heat constantly until you notice the butter turning foamy.  As soon as it starts to turn a little brown, TAKE OFF the heat!  It will continue cooking in the pan, so you don't want it to burn.  Add lemon juice and salt and pepper. 

By this time the pasta should be done.  Just use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the pan with the butter sauce.  Add a little of the pasta water and Parmesan cheese and stir to coat. 

Guess what? You are DONE.

I served this with steamed broccoli and it was delicious.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Teach Them Well

For some reason there are a few misguided notions of what homeschoolers are 'supposed' to be.

1. Child geniuses who attend college at age 12 and build computers out of tin cans and Silly Putty

2. Social misfit who doesn't know when to raise their hand or wait in line and can't function without Mommy telling them what to do.

While there are some of these types, I'd venture to say that the majority are *gasp* normal kids with normal abilities.

And given the two stereotypes, can I just say the first one is the one I struggle with more than the second one?

As a homeschool mom, there are days I feel the pressure to have my children 'outperform' public schooled kids because when you homeschool, your kids are 'supposed' to be 'geniuses'. 

Uh...I have a confession. My kids are normal.  Above average in some subjects, struggling with others. 

I also have another confession....

When I signed up for this homeschooling gig, character training was as important to me as academics.

In my opinion, it is a waste of time to press your child to learn Latin, physics, trigonometry and the ilk if they never learn to be compassionate, respectful human beings. 

Does it make me a horrible mom to think I would be more 'okay' with the fact of my kids having a blue collar job, but having integrity and having Christ guide their actions than if they were uber successful in their careers but being hollow, shallow souls?  

Not saying there is no need for higher education, oh no.  I am teaching my children subjects that will futher their educational goals and serve them well in life.

But as a homeschool mom I have the brief opportunity to actively shape my children's character.  I don't want to let that escape me.

That lesson is the one they will remember all their lives, and the one that will serve them the rest of their days.  Success and money and prestige can come and go. I need to prepare them how to live when the world tells them they need to give up and give in.

It's a lesson I intend to teach well.





Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Welcome To My World


Hello there! Welcome to my little corner of the world....in particular, my dining room.  You know you are a homeschooling family when your dining room table looks like this....







 Let me guide you through this mess. Algebra and math books, and a physics workshop....

Oh, and Legos.  Bags of Legos, along with the instruction manual.  And tires from some vehicle....not sure where the rest of it is.





 One armed wrestling dude, shaking his one good fist angrily at the ladybug habitat, complete with ladybug that was rescued from a puddle in one of my Crocs this morning.  The other wrestling dude is doing his yoga moves for the ladybug. 





Algebra should be taken with a 'grain of salt'....Hahahahaa!  Oh man, am I funny.







How about you? Is your table this crazy? Or is it immaculate?

Monday, September 17, 2012

When I Was Your Age...

Having been a homeschool mom for a few years now, I have developed a tough skin.  Certain things that other people questioned me about that used to annoy me now just roll of my back...the socialization thing for starters. I *know* better, so I can simply shrug that off. And the worrying about the quality of education...the numbers don't lie, so I know better on that one too.

Yesterday there was a statement presented to me that has had me a little ruffled ever since.  And it wasn't said in a condescending way or anything, just a matter of fact. Actually it was said to my kids.

"When I was your age, I had to get myself up and ready for school everyday! Mom was at work and we had to do it ourselves."

Of course my initial reaction was indignation. 

But the more I thought about it, I had to face facts.  My kids don't have that level of responsibility.

Their alarm clocks go off at 7:00, but many mornings I am still having to shake them awake.

They don't have to 'beat the clock' to manage time wisely.  They are allowed to shower and dress at their leisure, they have time to eat their breakfast, brush teeth, etc without feeling the pressure to be 'done' at a specific time.

Should that worry me?  When they are adults, will they be lazy and not good managers of their time?  I am kind of on both sides of this fence. When *I* was their age, my mom was a stay at home mom. But I had to get ready for school and rode my bike to school every day. 

Or is this something that is irrelevant when they join the work force?  When you know you 'have' to be somewhere, that prompts you to get on the ball and get ready...right?

Or should I consider this one of the benefits of homeschooling?  The luxury, at least for a little while in their lives, to enjoy starting out the day in a pleasant way, ready to tackle their 'job' of learning with more enthusiasm. 

What do you all say?



Monday, August 20, 2012

What's on the Menu

Here's a peek at our menu for the next two weeks, if you are into that sort of thing...

Cheesy Enchilada Soup ( Paula Deen's recipe.  Surprisingly, no butter or cream cheese was harmed during the making of this recipe. )

Shrimp Fried Rice and Pot Stickers.

Maple Dijon Chicken, Roasted Garlic Herb Potatoes and Broccoli

Italian Beef Sandwiches (thanks to the slow cooker) and fresh fruit

Stuffed Shells, Salad and Bread

Chef's Salad and Homemade Rolls

Yes, I said 2 weeks.  I make a big meal so we can have leftovers for a day or so.

I don't know about you all, but I'm excited about Fall and using my slow cooker more and more for those yummy Fall dishes!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One More Reason I Love Homeschooling

I love homeschooling mostly because of those "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" moments.

Yesterday we had a lesson on scientists and inventors of the past and their contributions to physical science...Isaac Newton, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Otto Lilienthal, Robbert Goddard, Neil Armstrong.

Which lead to us YouTube-ing footage of Armstrong's first steps on the moon. 

Which lead to us finding videos of astronauts playing around in weightlessness.  Which prompted great questions such as "If there is no gravity, how do you go to the bathroom?" And "Why do they have to workout while in zero-gravity for an extended period of time?"

Which lead us to videos of pilots in a zero-gravity plane popping water balloons.

Which lead to conversations of how an airplane can simulate the weightlessness of outer space by flying in a parabola.

Which lead my son to dig out a 'Magic of Flight' dvd that was purchased years ago at a Pensacola museum of aviation.

Which lead to discussions of how a planes wing is modeled after a birds wing and how wind speed differences create lift.

Those are the moments when I sit back and think, if this took place in a classroom, the lesson would have ended with Newton, the Wright Brothers, and Armstrong. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

13 Things

My son turned 13 today. 

He was my first baby.  The ubiquitous 'guinea pig', the one who taught me in so many ways how to be a mom.

Here are 13 things I learned since August 7,1999:

1.  It all washes off.  No, really.

2.  Even if you don't have a clue in what you are doing, keep in mind the baby hasn't been to this rodeo either.  He won't be judgemental if it takes you three tries to put that diaper on right.

3.  Your baby won't explode if they eat REAL food.  Real HUMAN food.  That stuff in the jars? Not human food.

4.  It takes 3 days of no sleep for one to begin to questions one's sanity.  (Actually, I learned this from my daughter.  My son slept like an angel.  An angel that led me to believe I was the Best Mom Ever. Until I had my daughter.  But that's a whole 'nother story.)

5.  It's all cute and fun when you have pets before you have a kid.  You refer to them as your 'babies'.  Then you bring that baby home and all those pets suddenly become hairy, noisy, germy animals. Amazing, really.

6.  Watching nature documentaries, particularly the ones that show baby animals being hunted down by packs of hungry lions while the mother fights with all her might to protect her young become more emotionally gripping than anything Hollywood could concoct.  My heart goes out to those mommas.

7.  Along with #6...every child becomes 'your' child.  That child on the news who is missing?  It hurts your heart because...'that could be MY child'.

8.  Nothing is better on a day when you are feeling fat or frumpy than a crayon drawing with 'to my beeyoutifull mommy, the best mommy ever' scrawled across the bottom.  Heaven.

9.  You learn the true meaning of grace.  Yeah, you lose it when something gets broken or destroyed, but you still love the socks off of that kid.  And thus you realize how much God loves you in the same manner.

10.  Watching that first baseball game when the kids are pitching and they all want to pitch a 100 mph fast ball but have NO accuracy what so ever requires many trips to the concessions.  I can't watch.

11.  I'd rather be punched in the face than see someone hurt my kids' feelings.

12.  My parents really WERE smart.

13.  No matter how old they get, when I look at them I still see their little chubby smiles and feel those sweet kisses.  I always will.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sometimes He Sends a Spider

I love Joel Osteen, don't you? He looks perpetually happy everytime you see him on television, and I truly believe he really is that happy 99 % of the time.

Anyway, I caught his sermon on television yesterday morning before church and it has stuck with me, so much so that I want to share it here.

In a nutshell, it was about a soldier in Vietnam who was alone in the jungle.  He could hear the enemy getting closer and closer.  He started to run, but could only go deeper into the jungle.

Finally he came to a cluster of caves, and out of desperation, he chose one and hid in its darkness.

All the while he could hear the enemy approaching.

So he prayed. He prayed for a brick wall, an iron fist, anything to stop them from capturing him.

He came to terms with his mortality.  And he waited.

Suddenly he noticed a spider in the mouth of the cave.  It began to spin a web from one side of the cave to the other, and in no time it had woven it's web across the mouth of that cave.

The enemy approached the caves, and began searching them for the soldier.

When they came to his cave, one of the soldiers saw the spiderweb and suggested there was no way anyone could be in that cave...they would surely have disturbed that web when entering.  And they moved on.  One little spider saved that soldiers life.



How many times do we pray for that brick wall, that iron fist...or at least expect something huge and amazing to answer our prayers, all the while forgetting that God can take a lowly spider and create something extraordinary out of it?

The next time you pray and think that God hasn't heard you because he didn't send what you requested...look again.  Closely.

Sometimes He just sends a spider.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blueberries and Cream Pie

Yesterday I came across some blueberries in the freezer.  Not enough for a cobbler, but I really wanted to make a dessert.  Then I found cream cheese. 

This is what I made:



I made a pie crust and pre-baked it for a few minutes. You can use a refridgerated store bought one if you wish.  Preheat oven to 400.

1 block cream cheese, softened
1 egg
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp AP flour

Cream these together till well blended.

2 1/2 c frozen blueberries (or fresh would be fine)

Stir berries into cream cheese mixture.  Pour into pie shell.  Bake 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

Mix together:

1 1/2 Tbsp butter, softened
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp chopped walnuts

Remove pie from oven.  Sprinkle nut mixture over pie and bake 10 more minutes.

Let cool on counter, then chill in fridge.

Enjoy!




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Value of Traditional Family Values

These are all headlines in my local news for today:

"Macon Grandmother Accused in Death of 11 Year Old Granddaughter"

"Augusta 11 Year Old Admits to Killing Dad's Girlfriend"

"Cops: Ga Man Forced 7 Year Old to Smoke Pot"

"Georgia Teen Arrested After Explosive Devices Found"

All of this on today's local news.  Never mind what is taking place in other parts of the country.

I don't know about you, but it makes me feel sick, sad and hopeless.

Lately the Christian faith has been under attack for espousing traditional family values. Traditional family values doesn't just mean marriage between men and women, but a value system that supports the family.  I personally believe that if more families took the time to embrace some of those values, today's headlines would not be so hard to read.

Parents- take time with your children.  Have dinner together as a family.  Be interested in what is going on in their school.  Monitor their internet activity and the media they see and hear.  Evaluate their friendships, and prune the unhealthy ones when necessary.  Let them see you pray.   Love your spouse.  Be gentle. Be kind to everyone you meet.  Discipline them when they do wrong, praise them when they do right.  Have integrity.  I mean, isn't that what Jesus told us to do? 

 I can't help but be convinced that if these children were raised in homes where they felt safe and loved the outcome would be so different.

Above all, pray for today's children.  They need it now more than ever.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Raising Kids in an Overly Sexualized Culture

One of the main reasons I homeschool is to filter influences that affect my children.  Call me over protective if you wish...I really don't care.  Has anyone spent any time at all watching television, on the Internet, listening to the radio, reading a magazine?  If you have surely you have seen or heard the bombardment of sexual content that is being hurled at our children.

"According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average American child spends more than 38 hours a week on video games, music, TV, reading and their computers — nearly the equivalent of a full-time job. And the report notes that 68 percent of the material the children watch contains sexual content." (ABC's GMA report: Children Overly Exposed to Sex)

I don't know about you, but that is an alarming statistic. As much time as they spend in school, they are being exposed to damaging stuff.  Heck, even *in* school they are potentially exposed to damaging stuff.   A fellow homeschool mom sent her son to middle school so he could play sports.  His first year in public middle school he was exposed to pornography.  Needless to say, he was very quickly brought back home to continue homeschooling...by his own choice.  Pornography addiction is a very real problem in society today.  And both girls and boys are encouraged to have 'exclusive' relationships with the opposite sex. Why?  When  you are 12, WHY do you need a boy/girlfriend?  It only adds fuel to the hormonal fire.

It's everywhere.  Clothes shopping for little girls shouldn't have to involve the 'squat test' (my own term) to see if, when my daughter has on jeans or shorts, her bottom or underwear is exposed because of the low cut nature of the clothes. T-shirts are cut very narrow and expose every curve.  Bathing suits are sometimes teeny weenie bikinis. 

And the music.  Don't get me started.  Seeing little seven year old kids singing along with Lady Gaga and the like, singing suggestive lyrics.  The images these celebrities portray...skimpy costumes, suggestive dance moves.  Just watch an episode of 'Toddlers and Tiaras' sometime.  You'll see what I am talking about.

Television.  You can't hardly go to a 'family film' anymore without some sexual references thrown in. 

Internet is no place for a child unless strictly supervised.  Especially the social media realm.  Have any of you seen some of the pictures posted by tween aged girls?  You all know the look...pouty mouth, camera angle to show her body.  And some of the comments ...wow. 

Sometimes my kids ask why 'they' don't have a smart phone, or Facebook account,  or have this album or that outfit.

Here is my answer: You can borrow my phone to call friends.  You can play on games on the Internet that I approve and have saved on my 'Favorites' list.  No surfing the net.  Because there are so many things that, once you see them, you can't UNsee them.   You need to respect yourself and wear clothing that honors you as a person and that honors God. No self respecting young lady exposes her body for everyone else to see.

Maybe I am 'uncool'.  Maybe my kids will be social pariahs because they don't have access to these things.  I don't care.

They have the rest of their lives to be exposed to the ugly things in this world.  Right now I just want to fill up their minds and hearts with what is healthy and good.

But, boy, is it ever a battle.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Curriculum 2012-2013

Not sure about all you other homeschool moms out there, but I am finally getting ready for the year!  We are keeping some old favorites and branching out with some new and fun things. 

Here's the grand tour...

Old Favorites:

Saxon Math...

 6/5 for the daughter.  Since my son also did 6/5, this will be familiar ground.


Algebra 1/2 for my son.  Can I just say my memories of Algebra in my school days is enough to give me the hives? I am trying not to let that attitude carry over to my son. 



Easy Grammar!  It's easy. It's grammar.  Enough said.


The only spelling book you'll ever need. Yay!

Okay...we started this last year and let it fall to the wayside due to overscheduled lives.  We are going to stick with this this year! The kids enjoyed learning Latin and Greek words and roots last year...hopefully we will be speaking in sentences this year.

Now, for the New and Exciting...



http://www.homeschoolinthewoods.com/HTTA/TTS/Early19thCentury.htm

The Time Travelers series from Homeschool in the Woods. Basically you get a history lesson and then project ideas that correspond. For each lesson you prepare an addition for a lapbook that will be finished at the end of all of the lessons. I am so excited to do this!  The lapbook templates are amazing in detail and not childish at all.  AND we are reading LOTS of historical fiction.  That will have to be another post, as there are too many to include here!



http://www.noeoscience.com/index.html

Noeo Science is right up my alley...not a 'textbook' based curriculum, but rather interesting books and it includes a teachers manual and <drum roll> a physics set from Thames and Kosmos and an electric circuit kit. Yay!

This seemed fun.  The book gives a scenario and the kids have to finish the story with their own imaginations. I think it will be well received.

Another 'new-ish' addition...more notebooking!  Lots of notebooking.  Writing across the curriculum and such.

How about you?  What is the one subject you are looking most forward to this coming year?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Friends

I've been thinking a lot about friendships lately. I've had friends on the brain, so to speak.

This past year I have experienced a blossoming in my relationship with Christ.  So many things have touched my heart in ways that have brought me closer to the Lord.  I've even gone so far to pray, "Lord, what do you think about my friendships? Are they pleasing to you?"

God has been revealing some things to me, particularly in the realm of relationships.

1.  I need to include more people in  my life that encourage and support my faith.

2.  God 'does' care whom I allow close to my heart.  I'm not talking about the person you see once in a while for lunch or a movie. I'm talking about the ones who could influence me and my behavior.  Because if you don't think that the Enemy will send someone into your life to try and get close to you in order to pull you in the wrong direction, you are mistaken.

3.  Be wary of friends who try to 'keep you in your past'.  Guess what?  I wasn't always a Christian.  I've done some wild and stupid stuff along the way.  But that was years ago, and I have been forgiven.  Anyone who keeps trying to present me as the person I was 25 years ago is not someone that is spiritually healthy to have in my life, because I'm not that person anymore.  A true friend respects the changes and choices you make if they have made your life happy and healthy.

4.  Friends can be in our lives for seasons.  There are friends that may only be in your life for a little while.  They teach us more about ourselves and themselves before they move on.  Be grateful for them, even if you are sad to see it end.  They were put into your life for a reason.

5.  If someone is offended by my faith or my beliefs, its usually not wise to form a close relationship with them.  That doesn't mean I have to 'cut them off' all together, because they could gain so much from exposure to Christ.  However, if they truly have a negative reaction to something that is my heart and soul, I just can't see how I can form a true bond with that person.

Letting God take over has not been an easy task.  Sometimes I think * I * know better.  I want to follow my feelings and as we all know, feelings are fickle and can't be trusted. 

God knows my heart, and cares about whom I let in it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Things I Dislike About Homeschooling

In the spirit of  'keeping it real'...and running the risk of inviting all kinds of negative comments, I thought I would branch out on the not-so-fun side of homeschooling today.  Because so much has been said about the benefits, it's only fair and honest if someone exposes some of the things that are not a joy.

In no particular order:

1.  Being around my kids 24/7.  Don't get me wrong. I love my kids more than coffee ice cream.  But there are days when we all just get tired of looking at each other.

2.  Wearing the Mom Hat, the Teacher Hat, and the Principal Hat all at once.  Some days it is tough to be Teacher Mom and give the bad marks on the writing assignment when at the same time, Loving Mom wants to be nice and give you a better grade because I saw how hard you worked on it. 

3.  Negotiating 'friend time', field trips, lessons, etc.  There are times when I wonder if the amount of gas I have used hauling them around would pay for private school tuition.

4.  Nagging self-doubt.  Do I really need to explain this one?  Even in small doses, it's always present.

5.  Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices out there.  Especially since high school is coming down the pike.  Veritas?  Classical Conversations?  Two Day a Week Co-op?  Private school?  Online public school?  Umbrella School?  Aye aye aye. It makes my head spin.

6.  Lack of  money.  Obviously one needs to be a stay at home mom to homeschool, or at least a part time employee.  Sometimes I think "Would life be easier if I had a job with some extra income to pay for fun stuff?  Or not even fun stuff, but great field trips, science curriculum, etc.  And yes, I tire of saying to my kids "Sorry...we can't afford that."

So there are a few reasons why homeschooling can be not-so-fun. 

Not that I would consider any of them big enough reasons to stop homeschooling though.  The benefits far out weigh the negatives.  And lets face it...homeschooling is a finite schedule.  One day I will have all the time, money and gas I could ever want.  Until then, I am keeping my eyes on the prize!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nope, My Kids Don't 'Fit In'

This is in response to some comments I read on a homeschooling blog.

The commenter stated "I could always tell the homeschooled kids in our church...they never fit in."

So, here is my response to the comment:

Dear Commenter,

I'm so glad you took the opportunity to judge the members of your church and what you consider to be proper socialization.

I homeschool my children, and I have to agree with you...no, they don't fit in.

Unlike many kids I know, they are completely confident in having meaningful conversation with adults, as well as children.  They don't shrug their shoulders when asked a question. 

Also, unlike many other kids, they aren't bound by expectations to only play with or have friendships with children exclusively in their grade or age group.  They have older friends and younger friends.  They are tolerant of younger siblings, not exclusive.

They aren't embarrassed to be seen with their parents or grandparents.  On the contrary, they are proud of their elders and will more than likely introduce you to them.

They would never bully an elderly woman who would be their bus monitor. (If you haven't seen that story on the news...sorry, but you must be living under a rock.  It was horrible the things those kids said to that woman, reducing her to tears.) 

They wear what they want to wear, wear their hair the way they like it and don't worry about what other people think. 

They don't think it is 'uncool' nor un-Constitutional to proclaim their love of Jesus Christ.

They love to learn new things.  They think Latin is cool.

So, Commenter, I guess I have to agree with you.  My homeschooled kids most definately do NOT fit in.

And I don't consider that to be a bad thing at all.

Sincerely,
A.H.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What's For Dinner

I don't know about you all but if I don't plan out weekly menus, I tend to overspend in the grocery store AND get so overwhelmed in the grocery store that I just grab processed convenient stuff because I just can't get inspired.

So, if you are like me and are looking for inspiration, here is a peek at my meal plans:

1. Butterflied Grilled Chickens with grilled zucchini and quinoa salad. 

(Butterfly a whole chicken by cutting up either side of its spine with shears, cutting out the backbone and pressing the chicken flat to ensure even cooking.  I marinate mine in soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.)  The quinoa salad includes mushrooms, green onions and fresh cucumber, and it is dressed in a lemony olive oil dressing.

2. Spanish Omlette (aka 'tortilla') and Spinach Salad

Spanish Omlette is merely frozen O'Brien potatoes and onions stir fried in olive oil till tender, then add about 6 beaten eggs into the pan, stir til it starts to 'set'.  Place the whole pan in the oven at a high temp til the top is set too. 

3. Pan Seared Catfish with homemade coleslaw and German potato salad.  LOVE German potato salad. Bacon makes everything wonderful. 

4.  Homemade Hamburger Helper. 

I despise the boxed stuff, but this is so easy to make from scratch, why bother with the boxed stuff?? I use macaroni pasta, ground turkey, tomato sauce, chopped bacon and cheddar cheese to make a Cheeseburger version.

5.  Grilled Pork Chops with sweet potatoes and broccoli. 

I love to glaze chops near the end of cooking with orange marmalade or peach preserves thinned with a little soy sauce. The sweet potatoes get steamed in the microwave til tender and are whipped with butter and cinnamon sugar. (BAD...I know.)  The broccoli gets stirfried in a pan with olive oil and garlic.

What about you? What is your favorite summer meal? How do you find inspiration for your family's meals?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Peachy Bread Pudding







I made the most fabulous bread pudding yesterday with King's Hawaiian Bread. 

Here is the recipe!

One loaf King's Hawaiian Bread, torn into chunks
1 regular sized can of peaches in syrup, drained and crushed by hand
2 cups half and half
3eggs
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp each almond extract and rum flavoring
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Place chunks of bread into an 8x8 buttered baking dish.  Mix the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour over bread.  Push any dry bread chunks down into the half and half mixture. Let sit about 10 minutes.  Place baking dish inside a 9x13 pan and fill the larger pan with 1 inch of water.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until top looks dry and 'set'.

Glaze for top:

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup white sugar
splash of milk

Heat in sauce pan just until sugar dissolves.  Pour over hot bread pudding and let cool.

Tastes like the most succulent peach cobbler known to man.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Home Summer Day Camp 2012



You may be asking yourself..."Self? What do homeschoolers do for summer camp?  Homeschoolers with frugal mommas?" 

I'm so glad  you asked.

While I am sure my kids would love day camp, I can't justify the expense.  So, here is my plan for one week this Summer...Day Camp At Home.  After morning devotions and a trip to the 'mess hall', we have a schedule for the week.

Monday:  Swimming Day.  Plan a day at the local pool/lake, complete with picnic lunch.  Try out some new swimming techniques.  If I can talk my brother into it, a kayaking lesson may be in the works.

Tuesday:  Board Game Day!  Get out all those board games and have a ball playing them. Card games also. 

Wednesday:  Cooking Day!  They will learn all about different cooking techniques and I will have all the ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for camp style cooking..and guess who will be doing the cooking?  Yep.  My little campers! 

Thursday:  Hiking/ Nature Journal Day.  Cruise to a local state park with our nature journals and colored pencils, magnifying glasses and a camera.

Friday:  Messy Science Day. I have a few science kits stocked away for a rainy day.  We will get those out and have fun with them, along with some messy science experiments from the Internetz.

Each evening will end with a camp fire and family time.

What about you?  Ever done a Day Camp at home? Any ideas to share?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Give Up.

During my son's piano lessons my daughter and I usually watch television in the den of the instructors home.  That is where we got hooked on 'The Chew'.  I have to say...I love this show.

Anyway, the theme this week was Mother's Day, and in accordance with that, Clinton Kelly pulled three moms from the audience to perform style 'Mom Makeovers'.

As with all makeovers, there is the depressing 'before' shot. 

One mom was dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans.  "This is a look that says 'I GIVE UP.'" spouts Clinton.

I looked down at what I was wearing.  Teeshirt and cut off jeans, flip flops to round out the whole ensemble.

Then the big reveal.  Mom comes out looking faboo in some cute wedge shoes and a colorful frock.

Me: "Well Lauren...does my look say "I give up?"

Lauren: (rolling her eyes) "She's a MOM.  Why does she need to look all 'fancy' when she is cleaning toilets?"

Me: (Thinking to Self...my goodness she is soooo my child..) "I like the way you think.  I think I'll keep you around."

Still...part of me longs for those cute clothes.  Even if only the Tidy Bowl Man can appreciate it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mathemagician

(Warning: Shameless Mama bragging to ensue...)

That moment in homeschooling that I have dreaded has arrived...my son is smarter than me.  Or at least better in math than I am.

The following conversation occured during our math lesson a few days ago:

Me: Okay...there are three steps to solving this problem.  First you...

Will:  240!

ME: Heh heh...no, it's not 240.  See, first you have to multiply this. Then you...

Will:  It's 240 Mom.

Me: Okay, it's not 240.  When you multiply this by this, add the square root of this and divide by this and this (not the actual problem, but you get the picture)...the answer is....well...240.

Will: I told you!

Me: Yes you did, didn't you? (Thinking the whole time 'how in the heck did he do that in his HEAD? He is his father's child. )


Then we had the discussion about why it is important to work algebra problems step by step and SHOW YOUR WORK.  To which he rolled his eyes.

 I know son...I know.

*Forgot to mention this tidbit...this is my kid who struggled in math in public school for 4 years.  Homeschooling rocks!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

History Reading List 2012-2013 : Lewis and Clark


I am so excited about studying Lewis and Clark next year!  Such an adventure. 

"The Captains' Dog" is written from the point of view of the dog that accompanied them on their journey.  I think it will be an interesting twist.



Of course, we will take time to read up on Sacagewea...



We love us some National Geographic in our house.  What better than a DVD all about the expedition?

We also have the DVD "America: The Story of Us" that we will watch.



For science, what better than to focus on a nature study of sorts?  I think it meshes nicely with the history lesson.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What We're Reading...



Right now in our history studies we are focused on the 1780's-1790's.  We learned about the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolt, Napoleon, etc.   I found this book at the used book store and thought "Oh! This will be right up our alley!"  So I bought it.

"Fever 1793" is  a fictional tale of a very real historical event:  the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia.  The central character is Mattie Cook, a tween aged girl who, in the beginning, is a little on the lazy side.  Of course, as the yellow fever begins its' march through all of the families of Philadelphia, she learns quickly that in order to survive she needs to be strong and have faith.

I can't tell you much more because I don't want to give anything away! 

Several of the characters in the story were real people at the time of the epidemic, and in the back of the book the author gives a brief history of each person. The author does a wonderful job weaving together the fictional and non-fictional to provide an exciting, interesting, educational tale.

My kids are really enjoying this book.  I am using it as a read aloud and having discussion questions after each session.  There is so much thought-provoking material to be discussed.

I will add that there are a few instances that are a bit 'bloody' and death, of course is prevalent.  My children have not had an issue with either, and they tend to be sensitive, so while it is mild, it is there.

And.of course, like any good homeschooling mother I threw in a mosquito and yellow fever study just to be sure we had a well rounded experience. ;)

I recommend "Fever 1793" highly if your students are covering this period in history!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nothing Says "Spring" Like Next Year's Curriculum!

It's that time of year again, when homeschooling moms start getting excited over all of the curriculum choices for next year.  Or confused.  Or overwhelmed. 

I had a brief fling with the notion of online school...which I just couldn't do.  Maybe in a year or two, but not yet.

Ever since I started homeschooling 4 years ago I have longed for a 'boxed' curriculum-one that had everything in it from A to Z that I loved and my kids loved and didn't cost a fortune.  Anyone found that yet? Yeah, me neither. 

So, I want to change stuff up for next year.  I feel like we are in a rut. 

I have always been an admirer of Sonlight, but felt it was so darn expensive.  And the fact that they use so much fiction.  I wanted more non-fiction.  Cue Winter Promise! http://winterpromise.com/    They have great non-ficiton books on their booklist that mesh wonderfully with Sonlights fiction selections.  That, along with our local used bookstore and Amazon.com, have been the determining factor for next years curriculum.

Next year will be the 1850's- Modern Era.  So we will be pulling selections from Sonlight's Core E for fiction and WinterPromise's Later American History and Culture http://www.winterpromise.com/american_culture.html  for non-fiction.  What drew me to Winter Promise is the fact there are plenty of books they use that have tons of hands on projects, which we love.

Math will remain Saxon.  My kids love it, it's affordable and has tons of review. What's not to love?

Science will be a mixed bag, as always.  Since we will be studying Thomas Edison, electricity will be a focus, along with physics and technology, as technology had a boom in the modern era. Also, since Charles Darwin will be in there as well, genetics ,evolution and intelligent design will be studied as well.

Art will focus on modern artists...Mondrian, Warhol, Kandinsky, Grant Wood and Wyeth, as well as photographers such as Ansel Adams and architects as well.

Music this year will include a study on opera http://www.squidoo.com/opera-for-children  which excites me to no end! 

Language Arts will include Spelling Power, Latin and Greek root words for vocabulary, and possibly Growing With Grammar for grammar. 

Writing stumps me.  Anyone have a writing curriculum they love? 

What about you?  Are you changing things up next year or sticking to the tried and true? I'd love to hear your plans for next year!