Category Archives: homeschooling

School’s out!



(That was me, not the kids, practicing my Mel Gibson voice.)  Today was our last day of school.  This mom/teacher is just as excited as the kids!

Time to be ridiculously lazy.

Just now I handed the kids a whole carton of ice cream, a spoon per kid, and told them to go eat it in their pricker fort.  They think I’m a cool mom, which I am, but I also knew it would buy me 45 minutes of alone time.

I gave them the cheap, artificially flavored raspberry stuff, and pulled out the creamy chocolate ice cream bars after the kids disappeared over the hill.  I ate two.  I also ate two last night, after everyone was in bed.  I need to stop going grocery shopping!  My husband does a better job of sticking to “milk, bread, and apples.”

Is it crazy that I already have most of my curriculum purchased for next year?  As hard as home schooling is, I enjoy it.  I love spending time with my kids, and I love it when nice teacher shows up and makes my kids fall in love with her.  I love watching my kids discover life,  and I love learning with them!

(I also love brainwashing them.  I won’t deny it!  Hey, if I’m going to make hundreds of PB&J sandwiches in my lifetime, I deserve a small power trip, right?)

Here are some of the books we studied this year:

The Story of the World: The Middle Ages

Sitting down to read our history is probably my favorite time of day!  This is our second year using SOTW, and I’m a happy customer!  We also ordered the activity book and tests to go along with the textbook.  The activity book has a lot of maps (which look awesome in Kirstyn’s portfolio), coloring pages, crafts, recipes, and extra reading to go along with each chapter.  It’s awesome.  I love that it’s a history book for multiple ages.  For my younger kids, I have them sit and color while they listen to the story.  My older kids can do extra reading, writing, and projects related to the chapter.  I’ve already ordered our Story of the World books for next year!

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy

I. Love. Apologia science!  This is our second year using Apologia.  I splurged and bought the note booking journal for Kirstyn, instead of trying to come up with assignments on my own.  Worth every penny, in my opinion!  Next year Cory and Cameron will be journaling too, in junior notebooks.

Wordly Wise

I love words.  I love language.  I love writing.  This is an example of where I am going to brainwash my kids and teach them to love it too!

Spelling Skills

My daughter has atrocious spelling.  She comes by this honestly.  (You don’t need to be a good speller to write!)  I bought this cheap book hoping to improve her skills, and was pleasantly surprised!  Not by improved spelling necessarily, because that is still questionable, but this book was fun!  It was the first book Kirstyn worked in every morning, and she quickly finished the entire book.  I don’t know what other moms do, but if my kids get their math done, I let them double up on stuff that interests them.  We’re promoting the LOVE of learning here, not learning itself.  It works for us!

Explode the Code

I use these books — there are several in the series — for two of my kids, and they never get boring.  Well, let’s be reasonable.  My kids would prefer not to do any school, but if they must… they enjoy working through these books!  I love that there’s reading, writing, and spelling all in one workbook.  Killing three birds with one stone is very convenient while home schooling.

We also used Easy Grammar, Saxon Math, A Reason for Handwriting, Sylvan and Brainquest workbooks for the younger kids, and various odds and ends.  And we read LOTS of books!  I hope my kids grow up and surround themselves with books, reminiscent of their childhood.  Books and trees and animals!

Coffee’s a given.  They already beg for it every morning.


*contains afilliate links


Plug your nose — it’s Friday!


Tuesday and Thursday are my newest nemeses.  (Joining Laundry Pile, Dust, and Moldy Fridge Food.)  Mondays now — we’re tight!

This is not breaking news to some of you.  I’ve mentioned before how I much I enjoy a good Monday!  This week saw the return of SCHOOL, and I always find Monday to be productive.  Being productive makes me feel good about myself, and we all know that feelings do, in fact, matter.  If Mama ain’t happy… and also happens to be the school teacher…

It ‘aint pretty.

Monday and Wednesday were great school days for my little brood!   We breezed through reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic with happy faces, and minimal interruptions from the peanut gallery.  Warm fuzzies swirled through my brain, and I thought, “Homeschooling is great!  I can do this!”

On Tuesday and Thursday, I thought to myself, “Homeschooling is horrible!  What am I DOING!”

I don’t remember particulars.  Please forgive me for blocking the trauma from my permanent memory bank.  I’m sure it was all stupid stuff, like babies falling down the stairs, sisters being tripped, lamps tipping, books ripping, fires in the oven, poop getting dropped off in inconvenient places, and lollipops getting dropped in places where poop should go.  OH — and mama running on coffee fumes alone.

On Wednesday night — I counted — we had SEVEN wake-up calls!  It’s just too much, folks, for my sanity.

I will never forget almost eight years ago, when our first baby was just a few days old, and Dee and I took her to a Labor Day party. (I know — what were we thinking, us newbie parents!  Now we just hole up indoors for weeks on end with a new baby.  Mostly so we can take turns sleeping.)  An older couple was there, with five children — in six years — all grown up.  They gave the expected congratulatory remarks, and then chuckled in unison as they told us, “Now you’ll never sleep again!”  It seemed gleeful, like they were happy somebody else would understand how HARD it is.  We laughed too, waaaaay back then!  Now, we’re too busy playing tag-team in the middle of the night.  *sigh*

Would I trade it?


Just last night, I was breathing in my baby boy at 1:00am.  Consciously memorizing the way his body curves into mine, his eyelids fluttering back shut, his still-baby hair, and sounds, his soft hand on my cheek.  I wonder how many more nights I’ll have, and how many more babies.

I have always treasured my middle-of-the-night snuggle times with my babes.  It’s selfish, really, my refusal to sleep train my babies.

I don’t WANT them to not need me!

It’s morning that doesn’t always agree with me.  My kids know that I will always greet them with a smile and hug, but breakfast just isn’t happening right away!  Not until Mommy has coffee.

So.  Back to the beginning.  Mondays and Wednesdays, good.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, bad.  Why?  The only link I can find is the shower.  I don’t shower every day.  (Sorry!  Just clothespin your nose if you’re visiting on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.)  On the mornings I definitely, really do need a shower, I stay in my jammies until it happens.  I get the kids started on math before I hop in the shower, but I just don’t feel professional or attractive adorned with greasy hair and sweats.  The solution seems obvious, yes — shower at night!  However, I’m usually making out with my husband, reading a book, or watching Beverly Hills Nannies.  Which to sacrifice?  Probably none.

Besides, that no-shower theory?  It’s just a theory.  My bad morning might also be directly related to low levels of caffeine in my system, potty accidents that occur before any caffeine, or the fact that I forgot to put the plastic holder-thingy back on the coffee grinder, and so my caffeine spewed all over the kitchen counter and floor.

Always, I know, it’s related to forgetting about Grace.  And forgetting to focus on eternal things, to laugh, and to be kind to all who live here.

(P.S.  There is no such thing as a horrible Friday.  On Fridays, we focus on art, parks, games, and THE WEEKEND!  And yes, chewing on crayons and creating interesting drool all across the kitchen floor totally counts as art.)

It all started in the pediatrician’s office


True story:  A mom walked into the pediatricians office with her un-vaccinated baby.  The nurse asks, “How many children do you have?”  The mom tells her five, and that the oldest is just seven years old.  The nurse then asks, “And do you homeschool too?”

Why yes, yes I do!

I also live in the country, I garden, and I can my own food.  I eat grass-fed, free-range beef and chicken, and drink raw milk.  I can hang drywall and stack wood, and I know which plants to chew up and spit on a bee sting.  I breastfeed my babies and wish I could have DOZENS of kids!  The only reason I don’t own goats is because my husband said,”NO!!!”  (Just like that, too.)  And I try really hard to obey my husband.  Because I believe God wants me too.

What?  Oh, yes.  Yes I AM a Christian!  What does that mean?  I love Jesus, believe He’s God’s Son, believe He was born and walked this earth fully human and fully God, that He died on a cross so I wouldn’t have to pay my own death penalty for sin, that He rose from the dead, that He LOVES me, that His grace is limitless and free, that His grace ALONE saves me, that He intercedes for me at the throne of God, that when I die I will live forever with Him in heaven, a place where there is no more sorrow…

And while I’m on a rant… No, I don’t believe in “global warming,” per say.  I believe creation is groaning, waiting for Jesus to come back and destroy this sin-full world.  To reign over His new heaven and earth!

And WOW is that radical!

I guess being stereotyped isn’t always bad, if I could just remember to bring up Jesus.

P.S.  I still don’t bake my own bread.  And I buy Fruit Loops.  See?  I fit in nobody’s box!

Bumming around, soaking up Love


Yesterday was “Be a Bum” day!  We did go to church, yes, and afterward I was chatting it up with a friend.  She was talking about the pork roast turning yummy in her crock pot as we spoke.  My husband was standing nearby (within earshot), and shouted, “I’m coming to your house!”

Her eyes got big.  (In an excited, I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this sort of way.)  “Do you want to?” she asked.

Dee and I quickly conferred, and got back to her. “YES!”

So we went.  She has eight children, the oldest is 10.  They’re Italian.  They’re noisy, and crazy, and absolutely lovely.  Her house had crumbs on the floor and getting-ready-for-church clothes flung in heaps, and it was so beautiful to me.  She invited me into her mess.  No time to prepare, just, “Won’t you please come in and stay awhile?  Share our home?”

We made two pots of coffee, and drank them both!   In between diapers, and pork roast, and nursing and bottles, and kids crying from roughhousing, and swapping homeschool stories.

(We also paused to laugh at our jokester husbands, the ones who both tell friends that their wives hide in the bathroom to smoke cigarettes.  Or make up stories about the hidden flasks in the diaper bags, or the weed smoking…  All false!)

She gave me books for homeschool, expensive books.  I shared how last week felt like a tough week with a baby that wasn’t sleeping much during day hours, and wanted me to hold him when he was awake.  So when he does sleep, do I do school, or dishes, or laundry, or sweeping, or what?!

She told me I was doing an amazing job.

She told me my kids had already impressed her!  She lifted my heart right out of its funk.  Peeled away the doubts that crept in this week about not being good enough.

She told me that she struggles with being spontaneous.  It’s her husband that always invites people over spur-of-the-moment!  He asked her yesterday, “Are you okay?!”

She did this for me.

I know why God calls us to fellowship.  Our friends point us back to Him.  He created humans to crave love, so we would crave Him, and our friends remind us about Love.  My friend replaced doubts in my heart with love and acceptance.

She made herself vulnerable to give me this gift, and perhaps that’s what love is about.

Opening hearts up wide.  Not hiding the heart mess and the house mess.  Because when did that ever help somebody?

My sisters-in-law and I are memorizing the Good Samaritan story from Luke.  The pictures are racing around in my head.  Who was the one that loved?  The man who saw another man, broken, bloody, messy… and picked him up.  He “…came where he was…”, and he didn’t look away.  He made someone else’s mess a part of his own life.

It meant he too was vulnerable to the raiding thieves.

Love is risky.  Risking our own hearts to bind up the wounds in someone else’s heart.

And the best part?  If we do get wounded in the process, taken advantage of, used up…  We have a God who used up every last bit of His love to satisfy our craving.  He will heal the wounds in our own heart, and meet our need for Love.

Love is always a risk worth taking!

Red Starbucks cups make me happy! (The caffeine makes me giddy.)


Starbucks posted an advertisement on my Facebook account, announcing that they are now using red cups!  Again, great marketing strategy… sending pictures of coffee to moms of newborns… moms who are deeply obsessed with coffee!

I made Dee stop and get me one on his way home from work.  I’m sipping it now.  If I seem extra high and happy, I am. =)

Yes, my husband is already home from work, and this makes me happy.  He’s out working on the woodshed, and took the boys to help, so this also makes me happy!  I feel like I got a good day of school in with the kids, I started a batch of apples in the dehydrator this morning, I got a shower, did laundry, made chocolate chip scones, and started on cleaning the downstairs bathroom for overnight company this weekend.  Go me!

(I am disappointed that my feelings about myself are based on my performance.  Oh well.  We’re working on that!)

Speaking of bathrooms, it’s a good thing we have four of them!  If all my kids turn out to be bookworms like Kirstyn, then there will be plenty of bathrooms to go around when someone wants to “sit a spell.”  I grew up with one bathroom (no shower!) for eight people, and we were NOT allowed to read while we sat on the pot!  I used to stuff books down my pants and under my shirt anyway.  probably got a spanking or two, but I can’t remember.  It was worth it. =)

Another random thought (I’m sipping coffee, remember):  Creators of wall decals these days don’t know their U.S. geography.  I bought a U.S. map at Kohl’s (50% off, plus my 30% coupon!) last week.  I went to put it up yesterday, and realized they had Alaska sitting right on top of Washington, and Hawaii directly south of California.  (There’s quite a bit of Canada separating Alaska from the rest of the United States, and Hawaii is very much south and west of California!  In case your geography is rusty.)  I adjusted these locations just a tad, so my kids wouldn’t be ruined.  Dee thinks the kids will topple down the basement stairs while they’re memorizing states, but hey… at least it will be pounded into their heads.

Now I have a huge world map to put up.

My not-so-difficult-as-I’d-like-to-think Life


My boy, he’s been cranky.  I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a rough couple of days.  Zach fusses when he’s awake, and he doesn’t drift off to sleep so easily.  After four super-easy babies, I am so afraid that I’m going to have a colicky baby!  It’s one of my biggest fears right now, because I don’t know how to handle a “difficult” baby.

I’m still ruling stuff out.  Tomorrow morning, I’m taking Zach to the chiropractor.  Since he was born with his arm and hand up by his head, maybe he pinched a nerve or something.  I’ll know after tomorrow!  (I have never in my entire life been to a chiropractor.  If this works, I will be a new follower!)

Maybe the thrush is bothering him.  I kinda doubt it, because I think his mouth looks really clear.  There’s nothing on his tongue, and just a few white spots on his cheek.  Which might be milk spots, not thrush.  And not once, since he was born, has he refused to nurse or fussed while nursing.

My thrush?  It’s still there.  One side worse than the other.  (Weird, right?)  But at least I only feel like crying while he’s nursing on one side!  But if my children, poor dears, try to snuggle close to Zach or talk to me while he’s nursing on that side, well…

The thrush has receded, I think, but I’d like it to be GONE!  I’m picking up gentian violet at the drug store tomorrow.  I’m going to paint me and Zach purple and be done with it once and for all!  I hope.  A lot of people have told me that this stuff really works.  Even the doctor who was seeing Cameron when he and I had thrush a few years ago told me about it.  (Almost four years ago!  I can’t believe Cameron’s that old already!)  It’s a natural treatment, so that makes me feel better about using it.

I have been eating yogurt like crazy, and taking tons of supplements.  Oh, and painting Zach’s Nystatin on me.  It’s sticky stuff!  I didn’t take any supplements today, and I honestly think Zach has been more calm today than he has been for a while.  Maybe I was overdosing a little too much?  It would’ve been interesting to test my breast milk.

Maybe my boy’s just a smart cookie.  He knew that Mommy’s “Parenthood” show was on tonight, and that he’d better sleep in his bed for at least a tiny bit!

He’s been sleeping on me at night,  all night long, and I am so tired of sleeping sitting up in my bed!  This morning he woke up bright and early at 5:30, compared to his normal anywhere from 7:00-9:00am wake-up time.  I was so tired it wasn’t even funny.  But then Dee made me coffee before he left for work, I read my Bible and prayed for my kids before they woke up, and then when they did wake up, Zach was back asleep so I put a movie on and conked out on the couch for a bit.  (This kind of sleep is always fitful, because I have to get up numerous times to supply my kids with peanut-butter graham crackers and drinks of water.)

Around 9:00am, my mother-in-law came down to see if I needed any help.  She knew Zach had been fussy yesterday evening, so thought maybe I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep.  Isn’t she amazing?!!  She watched Zach and the other kiddos while I took a shower (and shaved!), and then she took everyone but Zach up to her house for pretty much the rest of the day!  She even did school with them.  *Sigh*…  I have it pretty easy, huh?

Alone again


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Scratch that.  “Alone” isn’t the right word!  Not with my five beautiful children living here, and that husband of mine I keep falling in love with…

What I meant was, I’ve had a sibling living with me since late July.  (I know!  A long time.  Believe me, I knew all along I was being very spoiled.  Almost like Angelina and her four nannies!  Almost.)  But everyone left on Monday to head back to Massachusetts, their real home, and now it’s just me and my brood.  I think Megan considers our house “home” to some of her Massachusetts relatives.  Andrew came back down with my mom and dad last week, and when Megan saw him walk in the door she yelled, “Andrew’s home!”

I was okay with everyone leaving until Anna hugged me and said, “I love you.”  Then I cried.  I am seriously going to miss that girl!  I miss the rest of my family too of course, but Anna’s special.  She was “my” baby, born when I was 11 years old.  We spent a lot of time together, her and I, those 19-going-on-20 years ago!  She’ll always be attached to a special heartstring of mine!

We haven’t been doing a whole lot around here!  Just surviving.  I mean that in a good way, not a bad way.  We’re doing what’s necessary, not much else!  You know, like eating, sleeping (when possible, always interrupted), school with Kirstyn and Cory… and I nurse, change, and rock Zach.  On repeat cycle.  The dirty casserole dish from last night’s supper is still sitting on the table.  We did school around it.  My hamper is overflowing with dirty clothes, my carpet needs to be vacuumed, and I see dust bunnies congregating.  They’re making a whole rabbit warren.  But I keep telling myself, “This is good.  This is okay.”  And it is okay!  I’m glad I’ve had babies before.  I knew I’d be overwhelmed!  But I also knew that this in-over-my-head, pass-me-your-shoulder-because-I’m-going-to-cry-again part of life with a newborn will pass quickly.  In just a few short months, I’ll be staring at Zach, saying, “Remember when we brought him home from the hospital?  How tiny is was?  He’s getting so big…”

He really is getting big!  His two-week checkup was today, and I found out he’s 9lbs, 12 oz now.  He’s put on over a pound in just two weeks!  Yeah, now I wouldn’t brag about that, but for a baby, that’s pretty impressive.  He’s also grown an inch and a half.  I’m going to have a whole houseful of tall, strapping boys !  (Even my daughters will probably be taller than me.  It won’t take much!)

I also found out today that Zach has thrush for sure.  I knew there was a reason I felt like screaming in pain every time he nursed!  Cameron and I had thrush… not fun.  With Cameron, I fought the thrush without medication.  I cut out all sugar, dairy (except yogurt), wheat, and fruit, and made sure Cameron and I took probiotics like crazy.  It took maybe three weeks to get rid of the thrush?  But I don’t have three weeks this time!  I have too much else going on.  I’m getting on meds!