Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday--Dancing in the Kitchen

We baked cookies last night.  So, how do you pass the time while the cookies are baking?  Dance of course!

Start the music then scroll down and watch the slideshow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Life--So Fragile

There were four of us.  Couples that is.  We were part of a small group from our church.  We were all married about the same time.  Several of us were finishing degrees.  We were just starting out.  We shared so much together.  We helped each other move, sometimes more than once.  We ate together.  We prayed together.  We studied the Bible and sought God's will for our lives.  We bought homes.  We all wanted to start families.  We all suffered from infertility to some degree.  We rejoiced as God gave each of us a child during the following years.

After all of this, it came time for us to go our separate ways.  The Historian and I were led to a church much closer to home.  The other couples moved on as well.  We drifted apart despite promises to keep in touch.  Life and distance have a way of doing that.

As I type this there are tears pouring down my face.  I just received an email from my friend.  She is in her early 40s.  Her son is 6 months younger than the Crafter and her daughter is 6 months younger than Wild Thing.  She has cancer.  She had no symptoms other than some abdominal pain and bloating.  When she had a CT scan, there were masses on her liver and colon.  She's had an ileostomy .  She's having chemotherapy.  Her oncologist's name is Hope.  She's asked for prayer.

Dear God please spare your daughter.  Heal her body.  Encourage her spirit.  Hold her in Your arms.  Comfort her husband and children.  You are able.  Amen.

I need to hug my babies now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to Convert from HSB to Blogger

Sally at Diamonds in the Rough has found a great resource to convert HSB blogs to Blogger.  I was able to move almost all of my entries.  I did lose several comments and many of my pictures needed to be resized, but I am pleased with the results. It's a three step process.

1.  Export the HSB blog and save to your computer.

2.  Convert that file using and save that file to your computer.

3.  Import the file from step 2 to Blogger.

The entries show up on the Edit Posts page.  You can publish them individually or all at once.  Thank you Sally for easing the pain of the transition.

More Detailed Instructions:
Go to HSB dashboard.

Left side--Tools--Click on Export

Select date ranges etc. I left the defaults to export the whole blog.

Click Download Export File

You should get a window that asks you to save file. It will have wordpress in the name and be a .xml

Click OK

Wait for it.

Then go to the page with the wordpress to blogger tool

Step 6 has a Browse button. Click that and select the file you just downloaded.

Click convert. Save that file. It will be another .xml and say blogger export.

Now go to your blogger dashboard.

Click the settings tab.

Blog tools will be at the top. Beside that will be Import Blog in blue. Click that.

Browse and find the blogger export file and upload it.

When it finishes, you should find all of your entries on the edit posts page. From there it's a matter of selecting and publishing. I had to resize a lot of my pictures and some YouTubes didn't transfer. Almost all of my comments survived.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sometimes You Don't Want to Know

Wild Thing walked into the kitchen one night looking like this.
Then he fell down. 
The Crafter and Princess Pink propped him back up.

What's wrong you ask?  He's stuffed.

Why you ask?  I'm don't know and I'm not sure I want to.
But he had so much fun that Princess Pink felt she should get stuffed too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Trying Out Blogger

HSB has been down for a couple of days, so I thought I would try out this format for a while. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I've been tired for years.  It seems strange to write that, but it's the truth.  I haven't blogged about it before.  I don't know why.  Maybe I didn't want to put my weaknesses "out there" for all to see.

Whenever I mentioned being tired, I was patted on the hand and told "Of course you are tired.  You have a baby or you have a toddler or you are homeschooling or you are have so much going on."  Take your pick.  But it was more than regular tired.  This was weary tired.  This was you get up because you have no choice tired.  I was also having more trouble during that time of the month.

About three and half years ago, I first mentioned my symptoms to a doctor.  I was told that I was getting older.  Hmm, I was 34.  I knew 70 year olds that had more get up and go.  Maybe I should put the kids in school so I could rest.  Here's a prescription for antidepressants.  By the way, your blood work was normal.

I really didn't feel depressed.  I felt tired.  But I tried the antidepressants anyway, and they made me more tired.  I quit taking them.  Then two years ago I saw a different doctor.   He said that I was getting older and suggested yoga and B6 and if that didn't work he would give me a prescription for different antidepressants.

Time marched on.  I did what needed to be done--just barely.  Sometimes I would be in tears because I couldn't do the things I wanted to do because I was just too tired.  I was hating the thought of spending my children's growing up years too tired to enjoy them.   I had become short tempered and sometimes down right mean.  My life was about survival.

I was disillusioned with asking another doctor for help, but my friend suggested that I see her boss.  She had recently started working for a nurse practitioner at an Osteopath's office.  This was a big change for me.  First you filled out 9 pages of questions about medical history, symptoms, sleep habits, and monthly issues.   Then the appointment was to take 40 minutes.  She asked questions and listened and made notes about what I said.  She gave me the usual uncomfortable exam.  Then she said she was ordering some detailed blood work.  Turns out that I'm low on Vitamin D, progesterone, and my iron stores aren't what they should be.

I now have a long list of supplements including fish oil and molasses.  I also have a prescription for progesterone.   I feel guilty for the expense.  Nothing that I am taking will even go towards our insurance deductible.  I am hopeful that this is the beginning of feeling better.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Things Homeschoolers Hear

This is our seventh year of homeschooling.  I have been blessed to have the acceptance of most of our immediate and extended families.  There are a few older relatives that don't grasp the concept, but at least they don't criticize.

Our dealings with the public have generally been good as well.   Most of the time we go unnoticed.  There are a lot of year round schools in the area, so seeing a child out on a school day is normal.   Once in a while someone asks about school, and when they hear that we homeschool, they usually say good for you.

Then there are the comments from the ignorant.  I usually can come up with a wise crack comment--two days later.  Here are some of my favorites.

Setting: Grocery store line, late August 2004.  Baby Wild Thing is gnawing his foot.  The Crafter is by my side.

Person in line to the Crafter: It's too bad you weren't old enough to go to school this year.  I bet you'll be glad to be in kindergarten next year.

Me: Well, she's already doing kindergarten work.  We're homeschooling.

Person in line: Oh, I heard about homeschooling.  There were some people in Texas that homeschooled and beat their children.

Two days later response: Yes, and there was a third grader assaulted on the bus last week in this town.

Setting: Walmart line, midsummer

Me: I'll be glad when the school supplies go on sale.

Casual Acquaintance: Why?  Don't you homeschool?

Me: Uh, well we still need school supplies.

Two days later response: Well, I decided that it was time to try pencils and paper instead of writing with a stick in the dirt.

Setting: The college where I teach a math class.  The Crafter was with me because we intended to shop for birthday party supplies.

College Student to the Crafter: Oh, are you out of school today?

The Crafter: I'm homeschooled.  I'm going to do my math while Mama teaches her class.  Then we're going shopping for my birthday party.

College Student: How can you have any friends if you don't go to school?

The Crafter: Um...I go to church and a theater class.

Two days later response by the Chemist: None.  Some statements are just too stupid for a reply.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dance, Theater, Karate, a Birthday, and the War of 1812

I have been very busy the past couple of weeks.  This is the first year that each child has an extra curricular activity.  What was I thinking?  I'm worn out.

Princess Pink started dance classes last week.  She says that she hates dancing and never wants to go back.  I'm going to make her stick with it a few more weeks.  Hopefully she will start to enjoy it.
This is the Crafter's third year of Christian Youth Theater (CYT).  Her class will be performing Cinderella in January.  She hopes to get the part of one of the mice or the cat.  Her audition was last Saturday.   She sang The Battle of New Orleans.  More on her song choice later.
Wild Thing is taking karate.  I have hopes that it will help with his focus and coordination issues.  He says hates it, but I can see some positive results.  The Crafter is also taking the class, and she enjoys it.  We will continue at least through December.
The Crafter turned eleven this week.  Time seems to move faster and faster.  I'm proud of the young lady she is becoming.

We are continuing to take our Tapestry of Grace studies at a slow pace.  We finished up week 6 on James Madison and the War of 1812 today.     I continue to be appalled at the dismal state of my own history education.  We learned about Tecumseh, William Henry Harrison, James and Dolley Madison, and the Battle of New Orleans.  We hope to make a trip to see the Dolley Madison exhibit in Greensboro soon.  On a less serious not, we discovered Johnny Horton's version of The Battle of New Orleans.  The Crafter enjoyed it so much that we found the background music for it and she used it for her audition.  Here is the lego version.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grimm Is Truly Grim

Wild Thing's literature in Tapestry of Grace has been Grimms' fairy tales.  My knowledge of fairy tales consists largely of Little Golden Books and Disney versions.  This has been my first exposure to the originals which were collected by the Brothers Grimm in the early 19th century.  They are much darker than the sanitized versions of popular, cartoonish  story books.
The versions that TOG recommends are beautifully illustrated and true to the originals.  There are some disturbing elements though.  That's why you must ALWAYS preview reading material.  Did you know that Rapunzel was expecting twins when the witch threw her out of the tower?   That caught me off guard.  I ended up slightly editing the story.  Hansel and Gretel contained gruesome descriptions of how the old hag intends to butcher and boil the children.   I had to do a bit of editing here, too.  I wasn't able to get the suggested book for Rumpelstiltskin from the library, so I used to find an audio version.  Rumpelstiltskin literally tears himself in two with rage.

And here is where the trouble started.  After we listened to one story, the kids wanted another and another.  We listened to Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel.  Everything would have been okay if we had stopped with these, but curiosity got the best of us, and we listened to The Red Shoes.  Oh my!  The poor girl asked someone to cut off her feet to be rid of the endlessly dancing shoes.

The moral of this story is always preview.  Always.  We have handled these dark stories by discussing how life was harder when the stories were written and trying to discover a lesson to learn.  I'm glad that TOG puts cautions for parents into the weekly preview, but there is no substitute for parental vigilance.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tapestry Fog

Sometimes you read something and think  "Nah, that won't happen to me."  Well, it happened.  I succumbed to the "Tapestry Fog".  It's a condition that affects new Tapestry of Grace users and lasts for about four weeks.

Symptoms of  "Tapestry Fog" begin when those shrink wrapped packages of paper arrive.  It's often mistaken for giddiness over new curriculum.   A sense of total elation accompanies the trip to Staples to purchase new, quality 3-inch binders.   The victim trembles with excitement as she assembles each unit.

Then the victim begins searching for the books that make TOG work.   The victim has no budget left for additional books because she spent it on TOG itself.  There's a feeling of panic as the victim realizes that very few of the suggested books are available through the local library.  The feeling is compounded when said library institutes a $2 fee for each interlibrary loan request.

Then it's time to plan lessons.  There's a feeling of uncertainty over which level to place each child, but a decision is made.  Then the questions begin:  Which books do we read for history?  Shouldn't we read as many as possible?  What day do we do geography?  What exactly is the Loom?  When are we going to find the time to follow all of those links?   If we do all of this, when are we going to do math?  If we do all of this, when are we going to eat?

The victim is now officially overwhelmed as the Tapestry threads seem to unravel each time she touches them.  There is no order, no direction.  The victim wails, "Dear God, what have I gotten us into?  I can't do this."  The fog has claimed another homeschool mom.

A week goes by.  Books are read.  Work gets done.  Maps get colored.  Hands on activities are completely omitted.  Prayers are said.  Week one ends up taking two weeks to do.   But then something happens.  The victim notices that the books are scheduled to last more than one week.  (It did say week 1 of 3 in the notes, but a victim of Tapestry Fog doesn't always notice such things.)  Week two brings a confidence to read one biography aloud for the family instead of having two biographies on two levels.  Week three finds the victim with no recommended books on inventors, but dad steps in and shows how to test batteries with his voltmeter.  Lego inventions are built.  Teacher's notes, encyclopedias,  and websites substitute for books.

Then it happens.  It is week four.  It's time to study Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark.  But now there is no panic.  The fog has lifted.  Choices are made.  Projects are planned.  Library books are checked out.  There is no panicked rush to do every single thing in each thread in one week.  There is no urgency to do even do each thread.  The former victim of Tapestry Fog is now a cautiously confident Tapestry Mom.  She is capable of seeing TOG as a buffet where one picks and chooses what to do.

This mom could have saved herself a lot of trouble if she had done a little more research (Tapestry Blog) and lot more praying.  Once again I took it all on myself instead of letting go and letting God.
Books for Weeks 4 and 5

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Like Night and Day

Wild Thing has been busy drawing animals.  He was showing me some of them, and telling me facts about each one.  He pointed out that a certain animal was "ternal".  I asked him what he meant by "ternal".   Wild Thing looks at me like I am totally stupid.  He says, "You know, mama.  Ternal means that it's awake in the day.  Not ternal is awake at night."

I guess I know what tomorrow's vocabulary lesson will be.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What I Wish I Had Said in My Valedictory Speech

This valedictory address really hits home.  You see, I was the valedictorian of my high school class.  I knew how to follow the rules and play the "school game".  I could absorb information and spit it back out and make good grades.  That was my job when I was a teen, and my parents made sure that I knew it.  But did I learn anything in high school?  Not really.  I had no interests or goals beyond going to college and playing their game.

I have to hand it to this young lady.  She recognized the game of public education for it was.   She states many of my feelings in her valedictory address.  These are some of the reasons I have chosen to homeschool my own children.  I only wish I had had the clarity of thought that she does at the same age.  I wish her well.

Coxsackie-Athens Valedictorian Speech 2010

(The following was read as the valedictorian's speech at Coxsackie-Athens High School in recent weeks, creating quite a stir among administrators, to great applause from students and many of their parents)

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master: "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen?" The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years . ." (The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast - How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" (Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer - not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition - a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, "We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness - curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that." Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States. (Gatto)

To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of "critical thinking." Is there really such a thing as "uncritically thinking?" To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be - but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, "You have to learn this for the test" is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!

Erica Goldson
Athens, NY

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wild Thing's Curriculum

Here's my new first grader!

And here's what he will be working on this year.

Phonics / Reading: Phonics Pathways, A Beka readers, Pathway Readers

Math: Saxon 2 followed by ????  This is a difficult one.  Wild Thing is a natural at all things math.  He can already add and subtract 4 digit numbers with carrying/borrowing.  The Saxon is only necessary for things like time, measuring, and money.  He's on Lesson 94 in Saxon 2, and we only do every third or fourth lesson.   I'm not sure what will be next.  He needs a workbook because writing is difficult for him.

Grammar: First Language Lessons Book 1

Handwriting: Italic Book B and copywork  Handwriting is another challenge.  Wild Thing struggles with writing.  He still has lots of reversals and many of his letters are not formed correctly.  He also writes very slowly.

Spelling: Spelling Workout A

Science: Continue study of human body followed by God’s Design for the Physical World

History / Literature / Writing / Art and Music Appreciation / Geography / Christian Worldview: Tapestry of Grace Year 3 Lower Grammar level

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Crafter's Curriculum

It's our first day of the 2010-2011 school year at Bradford Academy.  The Crafter is now a sixth grader.  Where does the time go?  It seems like yesterday she was throwing down her picture books in frustration because she didn't know the words.  Today she can whip through a 300+ page novel in a day--if she is interested.  Otherwise, it can take her an hour to read a 10 page chapter in a biography.

Here she is in the kitchen at Horne Creek Farm.  She's a junior volunteer this year.

So, without further ado, here's the Crafter's lineup of subjects and curricula.  Of course, we won't do every subject everyday, and I am still trying to wrap my brain around  Tapestry of Grace.

The Crafter--Grade 6

Math:  Singapore 5B and 6A

Grammar:  Rod and Staff 6

Handwriting:  Italic Book G

Spelling:  Spelling Workout F/Spelling Power

Science:  Continue study of human body followed by God's Design for the Physical World

Spanish:  Rosetta Stone

Typing:  Typing Instructor for Kids

History / Literature / Writing / Art and Music Appreciation / Geography / Christian Worldview:  Tapestry of Grace Year 3  Dialectic level

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Update and a Some Freebies

The Historian took our tax stuff to the accountant today.  She called the Department of Revenue and explained the obvious error.  They thought it was funny.  I guess one could find adding a one to turn $17,800 into $178,100 and a $250 refund into a $12,000 liability funny if they were not the victim.  According to the phone call, we are in the clear, and they shall send our refund.  The accountant says that what's said on the phone doesn't really matter, but since the error was so obvious, that should be enough.  She also sent a letter with the details of the conversation and copies of our state tax return via certified mail.  She advised us to take some money out of the bank  for living expenses just in case they don't clear our case before the $12,000 is due.  They have been know to seize bank accounts on closed cases before.  I'm ready for this to be over.

On the bright side, the accountant found a couple of deductions that we missed.  She said that those deductions might just take care of her fee.  At least we could break even.  We really don't have cash to spare for accountant's fees.

Now for some freebies...

Journey to the Stars DVD Are you ready to take your students a Journey to the Stars? The American Museum of Natural History and NASA have joined forces to produce a planetarium show about the amazing variety of stars that dot our cosmos--exploding stars, giant stars, dwarf stars, neutron stars, even our own star! But you don't have to go to a planetarium to experience this mind-blowing journey. NASA will send you a DVD and Educator's Guide, for free!

Free Family Film Festival Selected G or PG movies start at 10:00am every Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. Tickets and seating are first-come, first-served and are limited to theatre capacity. The Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kids to spend a weekday morning in the summer. Tickets for our 2010 Free Family Film Festival are exclusively available at select theatres’ box office on the day of the show.

Kids Bowl Free Select bowling centers and schools around the country are participating in the first ever “Kids Bowl Free” program. This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.  Children whose age does not exceed a limit by a participating bowling center are eligible to register for 2 free games a day, all summer long, courtesy of the particpating bowling centers along with the schools and organizations.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What a Monday!

I'm scared because it's not over yet.  The children woke up grumpy.  The phone is out.  After 20 minutes on hold, they said they should have it fixed by noon tomorrow.

Then I got the mail.  We had a bill from our state's department of revenue saying that we owe over $12,ooo.  When I came to, I looked more carefully at the letter.  They had our income listed as almost ten times what is really is.  It appears that someone inserted an extra one into the correct figure.  I have my copies of the state return, but there is no information on how to appeal this.  The letter just stated that we need to send in the full amount plus interest and penalties in 45 days or face bank account seizure and wage garnishment.  AAARRRRGGGHHH!

I'm waiting on a call back from the Crafter's AWANA teacher who is also an accountant.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Taking the TOG Plunge

When we first started homeschooling, I did what my neighbor did.  She followed The Well Trained Mind with her only daughter.  I was able to buy her old curriculum and get started with the Crafter.

As the years went by, things changed.  The first to go was Saxon Math.  We replaced it with Singapore.  Then we used Rod and Staff Grammar instead of ABeka.  Spelling Power replaced Spelling Workout, and then Spelling Workout returned as a supplement.   Science was a hodge podge of this and that with some Apologia here, some God's Design there, and a host of smaller topic studies.

The only curriculum in the original line-up that we still use is  The Story of the World.  That too is changing this year.  We are taking the Tapestry of Grace (TOG) plunge.  I came to the conclusion that I need more planning to be done for me.   I need the multiple levels and the multiple subjects coordinated for me.

I fought TOG for a long time.  I thought that I could do it myself by following The Well Trained Mind.   I balked at the cost of $400+ each year.  The Historian balked even louder at the cost of $400+ each year.  And the size and scope of it scared me.

I did my best, but  subjects kept slipping through the cracks.   Wild Thing started school, and more started slipping.  I no longer had the time to seek out projects and literature to go with history.  Art and music never happened.  Finally, I caved and ordered year 3.  The Crafter will ride the line between upper grammar and dialectic and Wild Thing will be in lower grammar.  Princess Pink will tag along.  Wish us luck.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Must Brag

Congratulations Crafter!!!

She earned a Silver Medal on The National Mythology Exam!

Glitter Graphics from

Glitter Graphics

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mama, Can We Keep It?

Last year it was a giant beetle.  This year it's a mouse.  The Crafter managed to catch him/her in the back yard.  His name is Martin after the mouse hero of Redwall.  The Historian has already fixed him an aquarium with bedding, food, and water.  I'm feeling like a hypocrite because there's a mouse trap in the attic.

mouse Pictures, Images and Photos
Martin Mouse

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Then There Was the Time We Got Trapped in the Bathroom

I am not having the best of days.  Wednesday is theater day for the Crafter.  She is in a wonderful theater program in a town 45 minutes away.  It is so worth the trip.  It is even worth trying to keep Wild Thing and Princess Pink occupied while the Crafter is in class.  We have been fortunate the past few weeks.  After many, many, cold, rainy Wednesdays, we have been blessed with gorgeous spring weather.  We have been going to a nearby park to play.  And that's where today's story begins.

Wild Thing, Princess Pink, and I were having a lovely day at the park.  We saw some ducks,
ducks Pictures, Images and Photos

and some turtles. 
Turtles Pictures, Images and Photos

The kids played on the swings.  Then Princess Pink got thirsty.  We walked to the restroom with our emergency cup.  (There's no water fountain at this park.)  The three of us walked in through the open door.  It was obviously broken.  We filled our cup in the sink.  Then I had the bright idea to actually use the restroom.  I told my children to stay where I could see their feet and to not touch the outside door.  Famous last words.  Wild Thing not only touched the door, he closed it, and he locked it. 

We were trapped.  I couldn't get the door to budge.  So naturally, I panicked.  I yelled for help.  No one came.  I tried calling 911 since the park is walking distance from the police station, but couldn't get an answer.  That wasn't comforting at all.  I tried yelling for help some more.  I called the Historian.  He was able to calm me down.   While he talked to me, I worked on the remains of the handle with my keys.  I know that it was God's hand that opened the door because nothing I did would have made it open.  Our twenty minute ordeal was finished, and we still managed to pick up the Crafter on time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

And Now It's Time for Deep Thoughts

by Wild Thing

"You know, it would be cool to have a kangaroo made out of mashed potatoes.  You could put gravy in the pouch."

"I don't think you should let monkeys watch The Wizard of Oz.  They might get ideas."

I love my kids.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Well What Do You Know?

I got a big surprise Friday.  I was selected this week's featured blogger.  Who would have thought that my oft neglected little blog would receive such an honor?  I am humbled.  Thanks for visiting my little corner of the internet.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Please Place the Item in the Bag

or Why I Hate Self Checkouts

It started out like any other day.  I was out and about running errands with the kids in tow.  We had already done the grocery shopping, but I remembered that I needed to make a sugar free dessert for a family gathering.   I needed one box of lemon flavored sugar-free Jello. 

I stop at the next grocery store.  It's not my usual grocery store, but I only need one thing.  "It's going to be a quick trip," I tell the children. We only need one box of sugar-free lemon Jello.  We go in.  We find the Jello.  We go to the checkout.  We're making record time. There is one lane open.  There are several very full carts waiting in that one line.  My spirits fall, but then I see it.  It's the self checkout.  It lures me with its promise of a quick purchase.  Alas, it had done me wrong before.  I recalled the trying to weigh the bananas incident of months past.  But this time would be different.  This time I only have one item. 

We approach the machine.  It greats me and asks for my customer loyalty card.  I scan the card and am rewarded with a pleasant beep.   Next it asks me to scan my item.  I scan.  It beeps.  It asks me to please place the item in the bag.  I place the item in the bag.  It asks me to please place the item in the bag.  Um, it's already in the bag.  I try to ignore it and push finish.  It says PLEASE PLACE THE ITEM IN THE BAG!  At least I thought it was getting louder.  I push finish again.  It says PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE CHECKOUT.  Here comes the cashier looking at me like I've done something wrong.  She tells me I have to put the item in the bag.  I show her my little box of Jello in the bag.  Apparently it was too light to register on the scale under the bag.  Meanwhile Princess Pink and Wild Thing are entertaining themselves by chasing each other in circles.

The cashier clears out the machine and rings my little 50 cent purchase at the front.  I am then reprimanded for attempting to use the self checkout on a light item or anything that doesn't need a bag.  I hang my head in shame and walk my family out of the grocery store.  As we exit, I notice that the once full line for the regular checkout is much shorter.  If only...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Christmas Program

Our church had its Christmas program the week before Christmas.  It was held 5 days after the great haircut fiasco.  Princess Pink was supposed to be an angel, but she switched to a cow because of her very short hair.  Wild Thing gave an award winning performance of Joseph.  He had to sit still for 20 minutes.  That was real acting on his part.  I don't know how he survived.  He never wants to be Joseph again.  The Crafter was the angel who spoke to the shepherds.  She quoted her entire verse even though it was shortened for the presentation. 

Princess Pink as Cow

Wild Thing as Joseph

The Crafter as Angel