Sunday, May 31, 2009

For today Sunday night May 31st.

Outside my's a starry starry night.

I am thinking...about the full week ahead.

I am thankful...that the kids' Theatre didn't have to stop and that they practice and perform right around the corner from our house (four shows of High School Musical 2 coming up this week)

From the kitchen...we had my parents here for sausage and spaghetti tonight. We are cleaning out the freezer before going away in a few weeks, so we are only buying groceries that go with what we already have. Coming up on the menu we have beef stew, pork roast, more tacos (that is pretty much a weekly meal), and some frozen "Voila" meals that we'd gotten buy one get one.

From the learning rooms...we are starting school at 7am tomorrow because I want to get Bible, History, and Science in before we head over to help set up for Theatre at 9:30. Jake is still on The Glorious Flight (it isn't his favorite) I think will be Madeline. We'll squeeze in math at some point each day.

I'm creating...flexible children.

I am wearing...jammies--red shirt red and white shorts.

I am reading...Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy.

I am sleep good tonight...I have the craziest, most vivid dreams...for example the other night I dreamed that I bought a little boy friend of ours (who's birthday is not coming up, but two of his sisters are having a birthday soon:)) a shirt at Target for his birthday then had a conversation with his mother about what kinds of clothes she liked people to buy him (she wanted yellow instead of blue and nothing Nascar) so I then had to go to Target to return the shirt and the return line was too long so I just bought the yellow one and figured I'd return the blue one later {but by that point it had orange painted handprints on it}, then I was worried because I'd need to tell Mike so he could record it for the budget, but I had now bought two and thought maybe I could eventually return the first one with the second receipt...anyway, this is typical for me and probably why I wake up still sleepy!!

I am hearing...Jonathan going downstairs to get a drink of water before bed.

Around the house... Jake fell asleep while I was reading Frances's Birthday to him (it's not a very good book).

One of my favorite things...the homeschool exhibition which is coming up on Saturday (and of course "show weeks" which this also is).

I am bed without having a bedtime snack...aren't you proud of me?

A few plans for the rest of the week...Babysitting Baby X Mon, Tue, and Wed (then we won't have him regularly because his Mom is a teacher and school is getting out), Theatre stuff all week, still schooling whenever and wherever we can. The kids and I also get our teeth cleaned tomorrow and I go to the dermatologist on Thursday.

A picture thought...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Homeschooling Thoughts

Our homeschool group has been a "yahoo group" since 2004 and has over 15,000 emails in the archives. Needless to say some subjects come up over and over again. It can get slightly tedious for those of us who have been reading the same thing over and over for the last 5 years. I'm not saying this to downplay people's questions (remember I just got rejuvinated at the convention--and really enjoy helping newcomers), but it is possible to search the archives of a yahoo group and see the same answers repeating themselves. All this to say two topics that have resurfaced again this week include negative stereotyping of homeschoolers in the media and the merits of joining an "umbrella school".

A local newspaper printed an editorial this week in which the author slammed homeschoolers. It was quite frustrating to read, and really shocking as well. In all of the years that I have homeschooled I have really never encountered any truly negative comments. Initially my mother-in-law had some negative things to say about it (at that time she actually had negative things to say about all aspects of our parenting). She has completely changed her tune though, to the extreme that she even called in a talk radio show to brag about how great her homeschooled grandchildren were turning out and to defend homeschooling in general (this is in Connecticut where homeschooling is not nearly has prevalent as it is in Florida). I imagine at least some people who receive our Christmas letter might sometimes shake their heads and wonder why we do such a strange thing. These are the people who we don't see very often and who don't have much or any contact with homeschoolers. I, however, have never had anyone ask me what makes me think I'm qualified to do such a thing or to ask me the most ridiculous of all questions "What about socialization?" At this point our lifestyle seems normal to us, and it is surprising sometimes to realize it is still strange to other people. Interestingly enough at the time that I read the editorial online there were 75 comments on it and at least 65 of them were pro-homeschooling. I have to think that the author is at this moment rethinking her views. Her points were so weak anyway...How will homeschoolers know how to act in the community? {they are in the community all day long} and How can parents think they are qualified to teach their children? {no one has as much invested in childern as their parents do and one-on-one or one-on-three or one-on-six is drastically different from a classroom setting}. Well obviously I'm preaching to the choir here, but I needed to get my thoughts out somewhere and felt that our yahoo group did not need another email of this variety.

The other hot topic is the umbrella school dilema. An umbrella school is a non-traditional private school that homeschoolers can join for a fee and in exchange the school will keep their records etc. I have never chosen this option and I have no plans to in the future. We register as homeschoolers through the county and once a year we send in the paperwork from our evaluation with a certified teacher, this works well for us. Among my friends, we are basically split close to 50-50 between county and umbrella. Everyone has different reasons to do what they do. Just like there are tons of reasons to homeschool and tons of ways to homeschool, who to register with is just a matter of personal preference. One reason to use an umbrella that has come up a few times in the yahoo group cracks me up and I just wanted to take this time on my own personal blog to comment on it. This reason is because "my child will graduate with a high school diploma instead of a GED". I think the first time I heard this I might've been taken aback as well. A GED does have a little bit of a negative conotation associated with it (no offense). However, it is the high school transcript that really matters (and I'm starting now to try to figure out how to create this). I truly have never researched this GED issue anyway, but even if it is true this is not the GED of the 1970s high school dropouts. Furthermore, registering with the county gives our kids the option to take some classes at the local public high school (and I'm thinking we will make use of this option). Likewise the kids will be able to dual-enroll at the community college and may very well have their associate's degree (for free) by the time they are 18 years old. A piece of paper called a "high school diploma" doesn't mean that much to me. I'm not sure where mine is or if I even still have it. Baby bottles and cribs are items associated with raising children and for the most part I raised my three without the use of these items...why would a piece of paper be all that important to us?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Linda Werner

I listened to Linda Werner speak three times at the convention. The first time was at the leaders' forum and she spoke about (whatelse) leadership. The theme basically was that if you don't continue to grow, you die. Not necessarily literally, but certainly figuratively. This resonated with me because I'm always trying to push myself (and often my family) to do better. As a blogger, I tend to show the nitty gritty dirty stuff (see the previous post) because personally I prefer blogs that tell it like it is as opposed to ones that show families that "have it all together". In other words, my blog isn't generally big on advice, but since this advice is coming from conference speakers and not me I'm going to include it. Supposedly I will be able to access her facebook page and see her list of her favorite self-help leadership books. I haven't done that yet, but I'll let you know when I do.

The second day she spoke on defining your strengths, and your kids' strengths. It is generally very easy for us to come up with many things we are not good at. Likewise we often do the same with regard to our kids. She suggested we focus more on what we and our kids are good at, and illustrated it with that story about the animals that started a school. How the rabbit was a great runner, but he had to take remedial swimming because he was so bad at it. Eventually the school suggested he give up running altogether and focus only on swimming because he was having so much trouble. Obviously we cannot completely ignore what we do poorly, but if we focus a little more on what we all do well, we'll all be better off. Isn't this the essesnce of homeschooling anyway? We don't all have to do the same things in the same ways that everyone else does. This session ended with a story of a little boy who was ostracized in preschool, not allowed into a private kindergarten because he couldn't write, and was eventually labeled on the autism spectrum. The parents ended up homeschooling him by default. He was tested by professionals and found to be just a hair above educably mentally retarded. This little boy is now ten, and got up on stage in full Native American Headdress and gave a report on Florida's Indian Chief Osceloa. At the end when everyone clapped for him, he replied, don't clap for me, God is one the who gave me the ability to do this...give the glory to God. Isn't it wonderful that this child who was basically written off by professionals is now being taught with an eye toward his strengths?

The last day Linda's topic was "where do you want to see yourself and your family in 10 years?" Think about that one for a minute. Is what you are doing now with your family going to give you the outcome you desire in 10 years?

Dirty Work

Well after three very busy days at the convention, you'd think we'd be happy to relax the rest of the weekend right? No, instead we decided to get 5 large pallets of sod delivered. I think it is really a sickness that we have always having to go go go. Seriously though, the yard is looking great. We are only half done laying the sod, but it has made a huge difference.

While the rest of us worked, Jake played golf.

Eventually Jake got in on the action too.

Where has everyone been? I'm getting very few comments lately. I guess it is that time again, if you read this please throw me a bone and let me know.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


For today Sunday night May 24th.

Outside my window...the rain is not nearly as exciting as it was last week!

I am thinking...about the homeschool convention still, and about how my iron was good enough to give blood today (one week of vitamins did the trick, last weekend my iron was too low).

I am thankful...for my family.

From the kitchen...we had steak, potatoes, and broccoli for supper. On the menu for this week we have chicken and chips, pork tenderloin, vegetable soup, spaghetti and sausage, and tacos.

From the learning rooms...we're getting close to the 80s! Evaluations are done, but I still want to make it a priority to finish the year...I'm also getting excited for next year. Jonathan and Madi are going to do more things separately next year, it will be different for us. Jake still didn't finish the Storm in the Night lapbook, so we need to get on that and then start The Glorious Flight. He did do about 8 lessons in his new math book this weekend though and all three kids are writing stories.

I'm creating...writers.

I am wearing...greenish capris and an orange-ish shirt.

I am reading...Handoff by Jeff Myers.

I am hoping...that we continue to get more rain (even though I'm tired of it) because we are getting some sod delivered tomorrow.

I am hearing...the family starting a movie downstairs.

Around the house... the smell of popcorn is in the air.

One of my favorite things...when Mike has a day off.

I am watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix in a minute.

A few plans for the rest of the week...much calmer than last week! Schoolwork, babysitting, and Theatre, everything else is done.

A picture thought... it was from 4th of July, but works for Memorial Day too!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


What an amazing few days. I think I'll be blogging about the convention for a long time. We've gone every year since I was pregnant with Jake, and we've always enjoyed it, but this year was the best in a long time! Every speaker that I saw was great. I'm too exhausted tonight to be articulate, but once I decompress I will have a lot to say. Jeff Myers and Linda Werner were so inspirational, I plan to dedicate entire posts (or a series of posts) to what they have to say. Debra Bell talked about homeschooling high school and the future of education (including her belief that brick and mortar schools will be a thing of the past in our lifetime--and we'll already be ahead of the game). Jean Burk taught us about tricks and patterns with the SATs and how figuring them out can lead to lots of money for college {in her words, the time spend practicing for the SATs can literally pay you $500 per hour in scholarship money}. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular convention there are 6 hour long time slots both Friday and Saturday with 10 options for each slot. I also attended the leaders' forum on Thursday. So that made for a lot of opportunites to hear a lot of different kinds of people talk. Plenty of people are there to "peddle their wares" (the exhibit hall has over 1000 vendors), but I've always been a fan of the speakers who believe you could basically throw a dart in the exhibit hall to pick a curriculum and academically your kids will be fine. Those are the ones who challenge you to grow and change and be all you can be. The ones who encourage you to get your priorities straight and make sure you put the big rocks in the jar first. The ones that say people begin homeschooling for a variety of reasons (religious, academic, social, etc), but people continue homeschooling because of what it does for their families. Those speakers are my heroes. I hope to take what I've gotten out of these last few days and share it with as many people as I can. I'm thinking my blog is a good place to start.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The homeschool convention not just motivating to Moms. I bought Jake's new math last night, and he immediately started it. This morning the first thing out of his mouth was "Mom can you help me with my math?"

A few minutes later he said, "My brain's growing so big my head is going to explode."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's raining it's pouring...

I'm heading down to the homeschool convention first thing in the morning, but wanted to take a minute to say a few things...

First of all Whooo hooo Kris!! The newest American Idol!

Second, when we prayed for rain, God really showed us huh? I think this is the most rain we've had in 10 years of living here. It feels like we'll never dry out.

Lastly the kids had their evaluations today (yes, they passed) and the AWANA awards ceremony was right after that. Here are some pictures....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


You may have noticed, I took my music off my blog a while ago and haven't put on any videos in a long time. Well that is because the sound on the computer hasn't been working. Mike and Jonathan have both looked at it a few times, and Jonathan even changed out the speakers, but nothing was working. Well today out of the blue it started working so here are some "catch-up" videos...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For today Sunday night May 17th.

Outside my is getting dark, and it is raining...hooray!!!

I am thinking...about 11 years ago today (also a Sunday) when 2 1/2 year old Jonathan woke up having a grand mal seizure and we had to rush to the Emergency Room.

I am thankful...everyday for HEALTH!!

From the kitchen...I made bread in the bread machine that I was going to get rid of, and now I think I'll keep it. I used the ground flour and added gluten and otherwise followed a recipe that came with the machine...I also made bread and rolls my usual way. We had "make your own grinders" for supper. (for those of you not from Connectuicut a grinder is like a sub...I've been having them a lot lately...the "old fashioned way" with cabbage instead of lettuce...I know it sounds weird, but it is soo good!) We had yummy omlets for breakfast and pizza dip with bread machine bread for lunch. This week Mike will be out of town a few nights and then we head to the homeschool convention at the end of the week, so probably tacos tomorrow and "clean out" after that.

From the learning rooms...Homeschool evaluations this week. Jake's still doing Storm in the will be The Glorious Flight. Jonathan and Madi are hooked on watching the Wonder Years--I could cry my head off at the end of every episode. They're still in the 60s and 70s.

I'm creating...a very detailed blog of our lives.

I am capris with fish on them and a blue shirt.

I am reading... A Father Who Keeps His Promises, almost done...bookclub in the morning.

I am be asleep before 9:00.

I am hearing...thunder and the TV in the other room...Mike's watching Seinfeld while he packs for his trip.

Around the house...not great, not terrible.

One of my favorite things...The Homeschool Convention...this will be our 8th year going I think.

I am read to Jake...Storm in the Night during a storm...gotta love it!

A few plans for the rest of the week...probably one of the busiest weeks of the year, I've decided May is like December- "life on steroids" bookclub; signing up for golf clinic, kids college, & sports camp; schoolwork; dancing with the stars (that's just tomorrow!!). Not to mention all of the things that only happen once a year that are happening this week like homeschool evaluations, AWANA awards night, the convention, American Idol finale, and all the usual stuff that happens every week too!!

A picture thought...

A funny thing from Jake

Jake: Mom you're lucky you're not as young as a kid.

Mom: Oh yeah, why?

Jake: Because kids cry a lot and grown ups don't.

dramatic pause

Jake: The bad thing about being a grown up though is they die easier.

Tons of catch up pictures....

Jake got his first trophy yesterday. He was so proud he took everything down from the high shelf in his room so he could put it up there all by itself. In my 39 years, I never got a trophy!

Beach fun.

Nature walk fun.

Silly string and Slip-n-slide fun.

Muddy fun.


April's AWANA clubber of the month.

Fun at writing club.

Madi went to a fun birthday party a couple weeks ago where they had to follow clues to solve a Nancy Drew-type mystery. One clue was even in the pool.