{good} stuff

good stuff I've found recently around the web, all with the twang of New Year, New Starts....

Good Stuff on the web -blog

{Plum Paper Designs} << clickable link

love those fancy, designer planners but just can't justify spending $50 + on them? This Etsy shop has  nice, semi-custom planners with add-ons, stickers and personalized covers ~with less sticker shock

{Only Passionate Curiosity}

Printable homeschool planners.  >>prettier than the plain ones I make up in Word, with big O's for checkboxes.....

{Elisa Pulliam}

PDF-books: How to Start the Year Equipped and Thriving. These look very good and she was having a BOGO sale...though Jenny-the-late has missed the ending day

{7 Ways to Conquer your morning routine

for those non-morning people among us. New Year, New Start!  Er...or something...

{Daily Page Notepad}

Thyme is Honey Etsy shop....simple but eye-pleasing daily checklist. Because, I will forever be an optimist that I can get my act together, and I will keep buying stuff to somehow, magically attain this goal...plus, I love paper....

{What Comes Next}

A Study in Brown blog. She writes about seeking simplicity and experimenting with living with no internet in the house.  I don't think I would like this, I don't think I could do it, and yet, the thought intrigues me with the possibilities....


Happy New Year, bloggy friends!



7 Quick Takes -life edition

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Josie is working on a painting for her arts highschool, they will be selling it at auction for a fundraiser. She continues to amaze me with her artistic talent.

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My sister and I had to have our grandfather's driver's license suspended this Summer.  He is suffering from alzheimer's and was not safe on the road.  It was a hard thing to do.  Now, my sister and I take turns taking grandma to her Dr.'s appointments, and a weekly shopping/lunch outing.  My grandmother is a dear, I'm hoping to take her home with me some day <3

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Oliver: A.K.A. Evil Kitty and I have come to a truce.  I keep Emma-the-wonder-labradoodle away from the dog door at bedtime, and Oliver is free to use it without being chased.  Win/win. (no more meowing at me at 2 a.m. to be let out) Here is a photo showing how in his world, Cat > Composition homework


I am giving up on my facebook fanpage for this blog, and concentrating on google+ (watching my post views continue to dwindle on fb because they want to sell ads, is frustrating and it has gotten worse)  It's a bit of a learning curve over there, but I think I am going to like it.  Leave your name or handle in the comments and I'll circle you!


We dropped Demi-Sky's online Latin class and I ordered Memoria Press First From Latin on dvd series to do instead. I'll report back on how it turns out.  I also ordered First Start French for Josie to work with afterschool.  The books arrived a day ago, and I am very excited.  Am I the only nerd that gets super excited when the UPS truck leaves a box of books at my door?

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I started back to college to finally finish a degree, decades later.  It was really kind of scary for me.  I am taking classes first, outside of my degree, for early childhood education.  I'm thinking I would like to work with the HeadStart program part-time once Demi and Amie start highschool outside the home.  The class is mostly young people, which makes me feel old, but there are a handful of moms about my age in there, too.  The instructor has been very encouraging about me being a homeschool mom, I admit I was worried about what the reception would be about that.  When I first started homeschooling, 13 years ago, I often got negative or hostile reactions from educators, but as the years went on, the general feeling seemed to warm up.  I am really glad that with my first college class back, my instructor is sympathetic to homeschooling.


I love photography.  I love the fact that a photo can take you back to a certain moment in time.  I am going to try to post one photo memory a week that I want to cherish and I will be putting up a linky so others can share, too.  I hope you will link up!

My Burn Book {moments I want to burn into memory}

*7 Quick Takes is hosted every Friday over at Conversion Diary blog

*join the Hot Homeschool Hop over at Homeschool Post!

an old-fashioned blog post

Hi-ya! So, I was just reflecting on blogging, old-school style and about some of the blogs I used to read way back in 2005/ 2006 before I started blogging.  Things were a bit simpler in those days, when blogging was really more of a web-journal.  Nowadays, we have so much going on; great site design, widgets, social media (micro-blogging!), linky parties, giveaways, photography....

I tend to get a little uptight about photos as art.  And then I don't post much, because I don't feel like getting on my big desktop computer in another room and editing photos.  Editing is kind of like work.

I decided to blog old-school tonight;


a lot of messiness going on around here, as usual.  We had State testing for Amie this week, which involves some driving to and fro and waiting for her to be done, and waiting for "the call" that she is done so I can go fetch her.  Amie was very excited.  It's funny, for homeschooled kids- or at least for my kids, and my friends' kids; testing week is a social event.  They get to pack some good snacks, lunch, go to a new place that might have a cool playground (sometimes not) or might even have a pool they can swim in after (yes, this happened three different testing years- ultimate cool!)  and after the testing is done, or between times, like breaks- the kids can chat and play and invent interesting tag or hide & seek type games.  It is all very exciting.  Amie asked her dad to make sure to wake her at 6 a.m. so she would be all ready for the *big* day.  [sign in time was 9:30]

Our church had a big mens' conference and we had 3 of our old college boys (2 now married and 1 engaged!) fly in to stay at our house.  Very cool, and fun.  But didn't leave me a lot of time to do the things I should be doing like laundry and cleaning. My house is really a wreck.  I ended up cleaning the guest bathroom and the guest bedroom real good and calling it done.

Meg and Josie had big projects due last week.  Science fair projects and reports/ oral presentations for Biology and Chemistry class, and Josie had a big research paper due for Lit class, and Meg also had a presentation due for Economics.  (photos coming in a later post!)

The dreaded key assignments are due this week. {big sigh}  I'm calling "uncle" and it's official, for the younger kids we will no longer be using charter schools for high school.  St. Jenn's school for exceptional teens - here we come!

I have a learning record meeting this Thursday for the 3 oldest kids.  And then our heart-friends are flying in from Seattle for dinner.  They might be staying the night too, but I haven't confirmed.  This is my best-y Jennifer.  I don't know if she will be here long enough for a new episode of The Jennifer Club.  They are leaving the next day for a cruise.  They requested, with big excitement, dinner at Inn & Out burger.   Yeah, we are kind of spoiled, living in So. California.

Depression runs in my family, no, actually it gallops through the female line.  I have my turns with it.  This week I was hit with a wall of sadness/regret/panic as I realized my oldest dd is almost 18 and will no longer be homeschooling.  I had this horrible feeling of impending doom for those things left undone.  The subjects not delved into deeply enough.  We didn't do Bible as much as we should have.  I so regret this now.  I lay awake and tried to think of what we needed to cover in Bible and how to accomplish this before she starts college.  And then I knew I couldn't really, she is so busy right now with her studies and her life.  So then I was really sad and panicky.  I went to sleep telling myself "it's okay, I can get through this..." over and over.

I cried myself to sleep for two nights, and then...and then I snapped out of it and remembered that Sky always says that "things are never as bad as they seem or as good"  and I felt better. And I remembered that Meg isn't leaving for college, she will stay at home for two years and go to the community college first. [I'm not losing her yet]  And then I thought of Scarlett O'Hara and of the kick-butt truth that "tomorrow is another day"  and it was better.  Not perfect. But better.

So, no medication.  Yet.

I decided to think instead on all the wonderful things I admire about Meg.  She is super sweet and kind. Soft-spoken.  Quick-thinking and a deep thinker. She loves C.S. Lewis (and has read his non-fiction) and Tolkien.  She works hard.  She gets up early, like 5 a.m. most mornings and does her job of taking care of horses.  She does her school work independently and has become very dependable with completing her assignments  on her own.  She is still playing the violin and is now apprenticing with her teacher to become a violin teacher herself. She loves God and still goes to church meetings with us.

She is a daughter to be proud of.

Coming to the end of my homeschooling with her; I am extremely glad that we did it.  I am so glad I have had this time with her. My word of warning to you other homeschooling parents is that, yes- it goes by so very fast.  Blink and you miss it.  If I could do things differently, I would have planned more and worked harder to stick to those plans. I wouldn't have accepted days when we only got one or two things done, I would have made school hours less flexible.  I would have also ditched the charter school for high school.  The devotional/ discipleship relationship we had envisioned for the high school years got lost along the wayside of getting things done according to the charter school.  I regret that.

I am losing my rising 11th grader to the performing arts school next year, and possibly losing Demi for that school also in two years. Thinking about it makes me sad and a bit frantic about all the great learning I want to stuff into them before they go. And I feel sad, and a bit panicky and start my mantra again.

And then I stop, and think- "there is always the Summer and I will have them 2 whole months then"  ~oh yes, my pretties, I will have you all to myself then, and once a homeschool mom, always a homeschool mom.  I foresee Latin and an intense Bible school each Summer.

It'll be the Summer of love.



Well, our school year is winding up.  We just finished up with our Biola Star classes, the 3 youngest are done with their charter school but we have another week of charter school for my two high school students.  I feel like my load has lifted a lot, but like I still have a lot hanging over my head with finishing up the high schooler's year.  We have some essays and projects to finish up and record before our last meeting. This homeschool year was not my best year.  I am clearly going to have to dedicate myself this Summer to super-organizing for next year.  With that in mind, I am planning on using My Father's World next year for everyone but Meg.  Meg will be in her Senior year next year, History as a subject is over for her and we already have a really full course planned for her.   I really, really liked the schedule pages for My Father's World.  The schedule grid looked about the same as the History course we area already using, but- it had spaces for all subjects on the page (A.D.D. mom does not do well having to flip around to other schedules) and also some helpful little notes in some of the squares reminding you to do something or telling you where to find something.  I really need that.  The best part was the facing page- It listed the days of the weeks with directions on what you should be doing each day.  } This works with how my brain thinks.    I have figured out how to line up our History plans with what MFW is offering.  I think/hope it will be a really good change.  [Worksheets].  I saw ample worksheet offerings and narration sheets and coloring sheets...swoon. I am so glad I was able to see this curriculum in person, otherwise I would not have realized how much I like it.

I am still going strong with watching what I eat and exercising daily.  I am now up to level 3 of the 30Day Shred and I can run more of my mile & a- half route.  I've lost six pounds already and feel so much better.  Here's the neat part, yesterday while I was doing my Shred, one of the kids was watching me.  In the past, I would exercise in the privacy of my room, using the laptop but something is wrong with the disc drive and I can't use it now...so, it's the desk-top in the front room or the t.v in the living room.  Well, this un-named kid was watching me and watching Jillian Michaels and laughing at me when I couldn't do the full-on sit-ups with my legs straight (those are hard!)  She asked if she could do the workout with me the next day.  I am really happy over this.

Here's where I struggle with how much to share on-line and with how much to be real- and how to be helpful to other moms.  I think I am okay sharing this.  One of my kids, (I will not name) is a butter-ball.  I noticed from the start that she is built differently then the others, she has always been more sturdy, bigger-boned; I guess you could call it.  The last few years she has put on the weight and I've been distressed and unsure of how to help her.  My big handicap is the fear of giving her some kind of horrible body-issue- struggle for the rest of her life.  As a society, we've become really sensitive about body -issue problems with girls- and not contributing to them...but I feel left in the dark about what to do when your child does have a problem.  At first, I figured it was our problem, not hers.  She needs to just be a kid, we as the adults in her life needed to handle it by getting her more physical activity and watching that she eats more healthy.  Sounds good, but really hard when you have four other kids in the house who are built like you were as a child- athletic and can eat anything, all day.  We've tried to watch her like a hawk and remind her to only take 3 cookies, not the 8 she grabbed...to suggest fruit, to make her eggs instead of cereal for breakfast.  We've put her into after school activities just to watch her put in the minimal effort.  We've taken her out because it was a waste of money.  When I was a kid, I was almost always outside playing.  Here, there are no other kids on our block.  It's been a real struggle.  I don't know how to change it without singling her out, and I'm afraid of the issues I could cause if I deny her a snack but let the other kids have one.  I worry if I stop all snacks but healthy stuff, that she will begin to hide food and binge.  I worry she will resent me.

I've tired little efforts- taking her on mile long walks more regularly, trying to get out and play tennis at the park..but it isn't happening every day.  So- having her ask to workout with me is huge.  It's something she wants to do, not something I am pushing on her.  Jillian Michaels, you rock- and I am so glad that my daughter has found something in you to compel her to emulate you.  After we finished our first workout I pulled up a photo of Jillian in highschool, when she struggled with weight...to show my daughter that we all have our struggles but that we all can also get healthy.

Thank you, Jillian Michaels.




the wind beneath her wings

Piano recital-time is approaching.  Our piano teacher likes to add a little something extra to these performances and usually assigns some kind of neat extra, like artwork or an essay.  }I blame this on the fact that her child is not school age yet, more homework:the gift that keeps on giving for mom. So- for the recital my kids were to compose a little essay to dedicate their performance at the recital to some person, ideal or sentiment.  These will be printed up in the little program booklet and the kiddos will read it/ speak it to the audience before they perform.

Let me preface this story by saying I had no preconceived ideas about this assignment, no guesses as to what my kids would pick (my kids always amaze and surprise me with their individual ways at looking at the world/life) and no real desire to delve deeply into it besides making sure it was done and punctuated correctly.

So, I pick up Amie after her last lesson and her teacher with simmering excitement bids me to sit down, takes my hand, and tells me that she has some exciting news about little Amie's dedication....(I have to preface this by begging you to realize that I don't expect adoration, thanks, fawning, etc. from my crew, I am just happy if they follow my directions without grumbling-they are all reaching tween/teen years- we are just trying to survive at this stage.  I drive them around, teach them, direct them, sacrifice for them and figure that someday- ten years from now when as a parent they are sitting up at 2 a.m. rocking a crying child who has just puked on them, my children will each, in turn lift of a prayer of love and thanksgiving for me, beyond that...not expecting fanfare...)   So, no passing thoughts as to who they will pick- but the way the teacher was acting, the fact that she took my hand...I will admit that just for a teeny/tiny fraction of an instant- my heart leapt a little at the thought that it must be me.  Amie must be giving her dedication to me, for the time I spend taking her to lessons, finding her music book, making sure she is clean before she goes, asking her to practice... just for an instant I kind of thought this.

drum-roll please...  her teacher told me with great excitement that Amie's performance was dedicated with much love to ~

our dog, Emma.

yes, she is the wind beneath her wings.

this was the only way this story could end, really.


March photo-a-day {self-portrait} & {books}

March photo-a-day [days 5 & 6]


Yesterday, I had it planned (in my head) to stage an artsy self-portrait in front of my homeschool bookcase or my reading book-shelves >with my beloved nikon in hand.  Monday turned out to be more busy than usual, and it never happened.  Instead, I offer up this photo I snapped with my iphone while sitting in my van.  This shot tells a lot about me...busy mom sitting in her van on the way to some kid activity.

This is me}}


Day 6 {Books}


ahh, my beloved books!  Here is my personal reading bookcase in all its messy/ topsy-turvy glory.  It is telling that the only neat shelves contain the Grace Livingston Hill books I collect.  My shelves display the things that interest me:  New things to try, perhaps...old favorites I read over and over, books I am done with and need to give away to someone who will love them.

We are a book-loving family :)


**you can find the prompts for March and link up here**

asthma time warp


[Yes] we are in a time warp here: This is a 1960's asthma nebulizer machine.  It belongs to Sky's mother, known around here as the lovely and gracious Queen Mum.

We are in the midst of some asthma drama;  our nebulizer machine broke a while ago, now that only 2 of the kids seem to be suffering with asthma and considering their ages, we decided not to get a new one but just rely on inhalers.

[wrong answer] !!  You lose a turn.

It seems congress, and California in particular, keep conspiring against us as asthma parents.  Not being able to order a reasonably priced nebulizer machine in California is old news to us, been there, done that hassle...but a new law passed against our tried and true albuterol inhalers- and then, Sky's employer changed prescription plans on us.  I went to pick up inhalers at the pharmacy and found out that the $6 albuterol inhalers were now $40, and the steroid inhaler was $105.

  • Yeah, fun times for mom as she decides how badly her children need to breathe..... {insert sarcastic smiley here}

We made do with two older inhalers I found in the house...yes, it was sad, my kids were sharing inhalers... and then I was telling The Queen Mum about the hassle, and she said, brightly and helpfully..."would you like to borrow my old nebulizer?"  and I said "yes!" and she went to go get it.   I waited for her to bring it out, fully expecting her to walk out with an early 1990's model, like our first one (1990 was the time I remember her asthma being really bad and she was hospitalized quite often)  She walked out, instead with what has to be a 1950's or I'm guessing a 1960's model.

I instantly thought of Sky's dad, who believed in buying the best.  I looked doubtfully at the old tubing attached, but was optimistic that the machine itself would outlast any new machine we buy- and I knew Sky could rig up some kind of solution for the tubing.  The pressure gauge threw me a bit...

Sky was able to rig up our new tubing and mask.  So, why yes, we have kids breathing again at our house!  It is really, really, loud. Emma-the-wonder-labradoodle heads to my room when I turn it on.  It gets hot, too- so I cannot do back-to-back treatments for the kids on it, but have to let it cool down a bit.  I am in constant fear that we will be the ones to finally break the Queen Mum's museum quality machine.

Good news, the Dr. brother found us a nice, newer, quieter, faster used machine...it arrives tomorrow, I hope :)

It's never dull around here for long...