Category Archives: Homeschooling

Today was definately a better day!


Yesterday began with me cutting a lovely chunk out of the end of my thumb while I chopped onions for our breakfast.  I was trying to make scrambled eggs with onions and cheese.  Thank goodness the knife took a hunk out of my nail first; that probably slowed it down before it sliced into my thumb.  I then proceeded to smash one egg all over the counter instead of into the pan.  Then I burned the butter, burned the onion, burned the eggs.  I may not be a great cook, but I’ve never burnt eggs before!  The next lovely event was a math meltdown while we were doing school.  Good grief, how I hate math!  I’ve never been good at it, but trying to teach it to a 7th grader brings the despair to a whole new level.  So, we were doing “scale”… as in, scale models, blue prints, doll houses…. The dumb part is, I know how to do it.  I could answer the problems in my head – but, to try to explain it using the methods the book teaches?  No way.  I don’t even get what they are doing in there!  It’s making it much harder than it needs to be, in my opinion.  And when Kiki doesn’t understand something right off, she gets frustrated.  When she gets frustrated, she gets mad.  When she gets mad at school, she gets mad at me… I am the teacher, after all!  No, of course she doesn’t get mad at her classroom teacher!  We finally got thru that little bit of hell, and it was time for me to go to work.  And my car wouldn’t start.  No sir.  So I pulled out my AAA card to call for a truck, and oh wholly crap…. my membership expired 3 days ago.  Could it just get any better??  Yes indeedy, a lovely, lovely day.

This morning I barely wanted to get out of bed to face the day.  First off, I called AAA, and guess what?  They have a grace period, so I could still get service. The tow truck driver came, and he was super nice, and recommended a repair shop just 15 minutes up the road.  I was truly panicked about what was wrong and how much it was going to cost (because we are lower than broke at the moment). I was also worried about how long I would be without a car!  I hate that.  This afternoon, the mechanic called and said I could pick up my car – really?!  Then the best news of all – it was a short in the battery, which if you can believe this, was still under warranty!!  Seriously, does that ever happen?  Don’t things always go wrong the month after the warranty is over?!  This still had one month left!  Not only did he have the new battery delivered to his shop, but he replaced it completely for free!!  He didn’t charge me a dime for his time!!  Does that ever happen?  Not in my world.  At least not in the past.  My car works, and it cost me nothing but a bit of time.  (and a little stress!)  My thumb is healing, I didn’t burn the cold cereal this morning, we had no meltdowns.

Yep, today was definately a better day.

The good, the bad, and the ~ really cute!! Jobs and Vera Bradley handbags


The good news is – I got a job.  The bad news is – I got a job.

See, I really need a job.  But I really don’t want a job – I mean, I have a job… it’s called a homeschooling mom, and it keeps me pretty busy.  Not to mention I am trying to learn new software for the business we are starting… Problem is, neither of those jobs pays much.  sigh

So – I have this friend who owns an upscale consignment clothing store, and she asked me if I’d like to work just a few hours per week.  She needs another employee, and she knows I need some pocket money, so I guess it works for both of us.  It’s good, because since she’s my friend she’s pretty willing to work me the hours that work for me (uh, never??) but on the downside, I’m making less per hour than I made 25 years ago…. so that’s depressing.  Besides, I am sooo not the fashion queen!  Since I quit working and got fat and old, I’m pretty much a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl.  Even, kinda worn out jeans and t-shirts. Because I hate shopping (for clothes; I love to shop for about anything else!) so I don’t generally buy something new ’til the old stuff falls apart.  Which won’t really work, ya think?  Today I bought 3 “new” shirts at the thrift shop so I can at least wear something different this week than what I wore last week (yeah, I really only had 4 shirts.  uhg).

But, here’s the beauty part!  She sells cute stuff, right?  And not just clothes – but hats, scarves, jewelry, and purses!!  I like accessories (you don’t have to be skinny for them!).  So last week, when I was not working, my mom and I took my daughter and one of the cousins shopping there…. they got some clothes, and I found this great Vera Bradley “peacock” bag!  I decided it will be my “summer vacation bag” because it has a strap long enough to go criss-cross over your shoulder and chest, and plenty big enough to pack around all the stuff I could possibly need. 

Vera bags were a huge deal in Virginia – everybody had one.  But I thought they were way to pricey for just fabric bags… the one I just bought originally retailed for around $60.00, which is silly, right?  But I got it for $20.00, and it looks like it’s was never used!   I was attracted to it because she’s got great, colorful fabrics. (it’s brighter than it looks in my pics)

So maybe my job won’t be all bad…..

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Parenting ~ It only gets harder (You thought the toddler years were hard?!)


Ah, the good old days.  I remember them well… Kiki had a friend – a Best Friend – and life was good.  They generally looked even happier than these two girls! (maybe these gals don’t like their pic taken?)  If there was a problem in Kiki’s life, I could most likely fix it… with a needle and thread, glue, a band-aid, or a hug.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Shift to current day teenage life.  There are suddenly so many problems I can’t fix – even with SuperGlue.  Problem of the week?  Friendships.  Kiki is a tender-hearted and kind soul who gives her heart easily and fully to a friend.  She prefers one “Bestie” rather than a group of friends.  Not that she doesn’t have a bunch of friends… in fact, my biggest problem this week of Spring Break is trying to co-ordinate all the picking-up and dropping-off of various friends who were clamoring to spend some time with my daughter this week.   So, what’s the big deal? 

Her “best” friend. They’ve been friends for, I don’t remember, about 4 years.  Last year, she was the friend Kiki missed most when we moved to Virginia.  She was the friend Kiki was aching to get back home to.  And the month we came back, her family moved away.  Life sucks sometimes, I know.  I just hate it when it sucks for my kid.  So we are on the 2nd year of them being apart, and being with other kids.  I knew at the outset that they probably wouldn’t remain best friends… long distance relationships just never work that well, do they?  Of course my kiddo didn’t know that… nor would she have believed it if I’d told her. This week the friend is in town visiting for Spring Break.  She has spent more time with her friend she purportedly “doesn’t like” and who her mom said was a “bad influence”; now, that makes no sense to me, but what do I know??

 The worst of it was when the “best” friend, Kiki, and one other girl were talking about a “fun” outing, and what they’d do… then the other two girls did that thing, and left my daughter out of it.  These other two even bought “best friend” necklaces…. wow.  Kinda crappy in my opinion. Now, when Kiki gently confronted her friend about it… well, she lied.  The friend said the other girl suggested  it, and she had no idea that my daughter had talked about this plan. Well.  Really?  Because I happen to remember when the idea first came up, and they were all there!  Ah, well, Kiki chose to believe her; says she doesn’t really remember when the whole idea first came up – and, that’s good.  I’m glad for her “selective” memory.  I am also glad that she is the kind of girl who spends time thinking about – well, things – and she realizes that she will just have to have fun with this friend as it comes, but no longer call her “BFF” and that honestly, it’s fine, because they have changed over the years, and just aren’t as much alike as they once were.  Which is pretty mature thinking on her part, I believe.  But you can’t tell me it doesn’t hurt.  She’s already had her kindergarten best friend move out of state, and her 1st grade best friend move to a different school…. and, therefore, different friends.  That’s life, but it’s not fun.

I can’t say I am really upset about the loss of this particular friend.  After all, if she’s the kind of person who will treat a friend that way, who needs her?  Besides, there have been other behaviors that I have found rather questionable, so I will be fine with Kiki moving on.  But.  It made me feel really bad for her.  I’ve had friends “move on” and it never feels very nice. 

I hope she deals with it well.  I hope, unlike me, she keeps on putting herself out there, making new friends, being vulnerable.  Because I sort of gave that up after too many painful “friend break-ups” and the result is that I haven’t really got any close friends.  I hope she will have a lifetime of dear, sweet friends!

Being “healthy” … I think my brain is going to explode!


First let me say I made a really yum treat for Kiki and I this afternoon, when she got home from her ITBS testing.  (That would be the “Iowa Test of Basic Skills” which is sort of the nation-wide testing standard to see how students across the country measure up to their peers… yeah, the one she scored in the 95th percentile the year we didn’t do any school… which made me wonder – are they even teaching anything in public schools??!) 

 So, the treat – I bought some tahini and then was like “what the heck am I going to do with this stuff?”   Well, it’s the main ingredient in Halvah, which I love; that gave me the idea… so, I put some tahini in a pan with butter, xylitol, cocoa,

 chopped almonds

 and chunked Granny Smith apples,

 and basically sauteed it all.  OMiGosh!!  It was so stinkin’ good!  I told Kiki it was a middle-eastern treat before she tasted it because I knew that’d earn points with her… and she loved it!  Even my mom and dad liked it, so I guess that recipe is a keeper.  I didn’t take a picture of it because to be honest, it didn’t look that great… now, my dad thought it looked like beef and potatoes –  corned beef hash, maybe – but I thought of its appearance more along the lines of something the dog ate and then – uh – “unswallowed”, if you will.  Yeah.  Mmm.  But it tasted amazing.

To the point of this post though – I am so sick of all the conflicting theories about what to eat, and when to eat it, and how to eat it, and why… the list goes on and on but I think you get what I mean.  It’s annoying!  One group says “this” and another says “this” and then you have those friends who are “Oh, I’m doing the HCG diet” because she has that whopping 5 pounds to lose oh, the fat cow! – and somehow that seems like a bad idea to me anyway…. yeah, whatev

Because the …group… that I am currently going to for health issues is so over the edge in my opinion… for instance:  They think I should go have my dental fillings removed and replaced because they have heavy metals in them.  You know, the shiny silver fillings we old folks got before they started using the white stuff?  Yeah, so, I am not signing up for that particular event.  I don’t really enjoy the dentist that much, so when I happen to be in there and he tells me “these are cracked and we should replace them” then, fine, I will do it… but not before then.  Or how about your deodorant?  “They” say you should never use the kind with aluminum in it (which is pretty much all of them) because that will give you Alzheimer’s…. now, I haven’t got an issue with that – I can use the natural mineral salt stuff and I don’t stink, but my poor teenager!  She uses the ‘evil death deodorant’ or she’d stink to high heaven.  My sister (okay, and don’t even get me started on this girl because I’m about fed up) but she won’t even use regular toothpaste because the flouride will be the death of us all.  Well, ho-lee-crap.  I might as well just curl up and die right now, huh?!?! 

I am not afraid to be dead. I believe in Heaven, so I’m cool with going there.  However, the process of death can be rather uninviting. I have been thinking of the older people I know, and which ones are healthy and happy, and which ones ate heathy or not, and they don’t always match up.  So there is more to it all.

So, that is why my head hurts.  My normal reaction would be to go out and chomp down some cookies, but that wouldn’t help, now would it? 

I think I’ll go out drinking instead.

Living in fly-over country (Home is where the Heart is)


I live in Idaho.  Ever heard of it?  Do you know where it is?  Trust me when I tell you, it is one of the 50 states… but it seems to me that a whole lot of people don’t know that. I remember when my husband and I decided to move here from Southern California… our co-workers kept asking things like “Where are you moving again?  Ohio?” “Illinois?”  Really?  Really. 

 It was even worse last year while living in Virginia!  At least out there, you could think …well, Ohio is close to here, so that makes sense…. sort of…. except not really, because I’m not talking recent immigrants…. I mean, sure, if you told me you were from Zambia, not Zimbabwe, I might not know which one was more north and which more south… but I am pretty sure all of us Americans took US Geography at some point, learned that ‘States song’… you know the one?  Yeah, so I think you ought to know where Idaho is.  Yet on more than one occasion I found myself saying “No, not Ohio.  I-da-ho.  You know, it’s between Montana and Oregon.”  Because everyone knows where Montana and Oregon are, but not Idaho!  Urgh.  The good thing, I suppose, is the the less people know about Idaho, the less likely it will get full-up and ruined.  (After all, that’s why we left SoCal… too many people moving there!)  One of Kiki’s friends in Virginia, when she found out we had moved from Idaho, was like “Ooooh!  Do you like french fries?!”  So, I guess she at least knew a little bit about Idaho.  Yes, potatoes grow here. 

My dad calls Idaho ‘fly-over’ country… as in, no one comes here on purpose, they just fly over.  That’s pretty true.  There are alot of things we don’t have here….. shopping is sparse at best. 

 No Ikea, no Trader Joes.  We don’t have In-and-Out Burger.  Or Nordstrom. We don’t have the ocean, and that’s the worst part, really.  We have what you need; maybe not everything you want.  Most of what Idaho is known for is outdoor living… skiing, snowmobiling, white water rafting, horsesback riding, hiking, hunting; that sort of thing.  We have gorgeous mountains, fantastic lakes, tons and tons of wilderness areas. We have all four seasons, and they are all beautiful.  And about four malls in the entire state.  So it depends on what you’re into, huh?  It can be frustrating… a few days ago, my hubby and I and another couple wanted to go out for espresso.  We went to the one really cool place – which was closed for a private party.  Then we hit two other spots – one a local spot and one a nationwide chain (Tully’s) – both of which were closed (it was only 8pm!!) before we ended up at SBUX.  Not my fave coffee place – but, they were open. Meh…stuff happens.

It’s not all mountains and meadows… where we live, it’s actually sort of high-desert…. fields and sagebrush.  Well, where there isn’t a housing tract.

And some rivers.

Of all the places we’ve lived, Idaho isn’t my #1 fave. Part of it is probably due to the fact we haven’t taken full advantage of all there is to do here.  We really need to go camping this summer!  All things being equal (as in, if I could move my family, friends, church, and Kiki’s homeschool co-op with us) we’d probably live in the Seattle area.  We love, love it there.  However – all things are not equal!  We have chosen family and friends, and we are very happy to be living here. 

P.S.  I did not personally take these photos.  I gathered them from around the internet, but none of them said I couldn’t…. so there.

Stuck in a book!


I love reading!  The thing is, though, I seem to prefer reading “Juvenile Fiction” over adult fiction.  Somehow the stories seem more interesting to me; fantasies rather than reality (I live in reality.  It’s overrated.).  I love to get lost in a book, and, perhaps unfortunately, that’s exactly where I am right now… to the point I am ignoring everything else.  I am in book 2 of the Inkheart trilogy – I simply cannot put these books down!  I did have some other books I thought about getting from the library next, but I think when I finally get thru book 3 of this set, (which will be soon – I do nothing but read these days!) then I will have to take a breather so as to get something else done… cleaning, homeschooling my daughter, paying attention to anyone when they speak to me… that sort of thing.  In the meantime, I love the fact that while I am immersed in a great story, my own sad story seems to disappear for a bit.

Wednesday, Wednesday


So, it’s late and I haven’t really got anything to say.  I thought of all sorts of information earlier today; all sorts of great ideas and topics… but it was a busy, busy day, and now I am just plain tired.  Today I had to get up extra early as Alan had a plane to catch, and tomorrow is a classroom day for Kiki so we can’t sleep in.  We need to research a science project idea, and get some stuff to do a history project… I was going to moan about, oh, I don’t know, something… but I think I’ll save it for another day!  I will just leave you with a picture…

How cute is my dog?!

How to make homeschooling even harder


Homeschooling is tough.  It’s not for wimps, that’s for sure.  You have to be really, really sure it’s what you want to do before you jump into it.  I’ll be honest – there are days that I totally understand how much my mom enjoyed sending us out the door to school each morning!  I can picture her shutting the door behind us, taking a big breath in, big sigh out, and probably doing a little happy dance.  I’m the kind of person who really needs alone time – something you don’t get much of if you homeschool.   One thing that’s helped is that for all but last year we have been under the umbrella of our homeschool co-op, so 2 days a week Kiki is in a classroom with other kids and another teacher, so I’ve had those days to get my head back on straight.

 I’ve homeschooled Kiki since 1st grade, and honestly, I’ve enjoyed it.  Really!  The first two years were awesome… the material was fun and easy, it took us about 2 hours to get thru our work, and then we got to spend the rest of the day playing.  How can you find anything bad about that? 

3rd grade was tough.  I don’t know if the material was harder for Kiki or if she was just going through a moment of growth and independence, but we had lots of days of “flying books” as she screamed about not doing school.  This is the year three things happened:  1) We did school in the ‘bonus room’ upstairs, and I seriously considered tossing her out the window 2) I remembered that in her pre-K and Kindergarten classes, her teachers had prize boxes the kids could choose out of when they got certain things done, or behaved certain ways…. and I realized that if ‘real’ school teachers could use bribery, so could I!  3) I found out that Kiki responds way better to rewards than to punishments.  School went better after that…. until this year.

Kiki is in 7th grade this year.  She is really bright, so for the most part the curriculum isn’t a big problem.  She ‘gets’ how to do most of it without a whole lot of help from me.  Except math.  Math sucks.  I couldn’t figure that crap out when I was in school myself, and for the most part it isn’t making a whole lot more sense to me now.  Thanks to the internet I have learned a few mathematical facts that I think I probably should already have known… and finally now I know.  But, still, there is a lot I just don’t get – and don’t care to get.  It makes it hard to explain to Kiki why she has to know it, when I don’t.   Still, it’s not too bad.  We are still doing alright at this homeschooling deal.

Except….. we live with my mom and dad now.  My husband doesn’t have a job.  So we have an audience every day.  This is soooo not working for me!!  Some days things don’t go smoothly.  Some days we yell at one another.  (Kiki and I, that is)  Some days I send her to her room.  Some days I send myself away!  We have always worked things out, eventually, and gotten through the day.  Gotten school done.  Ended up still loving (and liking) one another!  But now, everything is scrutinized.  Critiqued.  I get told what I should do, or what I should have done differently.  I find myself not always acting in the way I should – or would have – if Kiki and I were alone.  I think this is a bad deal.  It’s certainly making me insane, as if I wasn’t nearly there already…


Tonight, I am taking Kiki to the coffeehouse, just the two of us.  We are going to have a little time to talk, about stuff.   Sure, part of the talk is going to be about …. boys.  Yeah.  She’s 13.  Boy-crazy.  Some info needs to be shared.  Beyond that though, I think we will talk a little about how we are going to navigate the rest of the school year with her behaving well enough that I don’t have to kill anyone.  It could be her… could be my dad… could be my husband…. but, if something doesn’t change, it will definately be somebody!!

And the beat goes on….

Things are going along well.  We have a nice little school routine worked out ~  Bible study and devotions,  journaling, workbook pages in math, science, social studies, language arts, and colonial America, then reading classic literature.  I don’t have any "real" textbooks yet, but I found this great little workbook that basically covers all the highlights of what is taught in public school 6th grade, so we are doing those until we get our other stuff.  We are currently  reading "The Wind in the Willows".  I love the sound of the story, the way the words flow.  Kiki thinks it’s hilarious because the animals call each other "silly as*" when they deserve it.  I’m thinking that wasn’t a "bad word" back in early English days??  I mean, it just means "donkey"…..  We’ve gone on some good field trips, and some stuff on weekends with daddy (this past Saturday we went to the National Battlefield at Manassas.)  So we’re learning a lot of great stuff.  Kiki has an apologetics class one day a week (that is, defending your Christian faith) and an art class one day a week.  I want to start – hopefully next week – one day a week going into DC to do a Smithsonian museum.  That’s my plan, anyhoo.
On other fronts ~
I have rearranged the furniture in the apartment three times so far.  I just can’t seem to make it "work".  It’s just one room for everything, (I mean besides bedrooms) and rather oddly shaped, so I’m just not loving it so far.  I just moved about everything tonight while Kiki and Alan were out for "daddy-daughter night", so we’ll see if this arrangement works out!  I think my favorite "room" in the apt. (now that it’s cooled off some) is the patio/balcony.  We have a huge oak tree right next to us, and the other day we saw our first bright-red cardinal!
Kiki is still terribly homesick.  She cries about every other day.  She says when we go back for Christmas she is going to stay there.  (as if!!)  She is having a hard time wanting to make friends, because she doesn’t want new friends – she wants her old ones.  Sigh.  It’s hard to be the mom.

School is in session!

Alright, so we didn’t do a LOT of school today.  I would call it sort of a "soft start", in a manner of speaking….   Because, you see, I didn’t have any money to order text books.    So we did what we could.  We did our devotions, we did some reading, we’ve gotten some books from the library, and we are going to journal every day, so we made journals to write in, and we began them.  Oh, and we are going to go to the apartment gym every day to exercise, so we did that.  And I gave Kiki another lesson in "laundry" today – part of this year’s learning is definately going to be "life skills"!  Tonight, she had a class with a local homeschool group on ‘apologetics’ which is basically, how to defend your faith.  This one is taught by Ken Hamm from Answers in Genesis (via video, with group discussion).  It seems like a nice group of kids, and even though I took her there basically kicking and screaming, in the end she admitted she enjoyed it and is glad we’re going. Sheesh.
Here is how we made our journals:
The idea was to take plain composition books and make them pretty!
So, we chose some coordinating scrapbooking paper (2 per book)
This is probably the hardest part, as there are so many cool prints to choose from!
Kiki used a Christmas theme on this book ~
You just fold it over to size ….
Glue the corners, then the edges….
And viola!  A beautiful, custom journal!  You can add ribbons, or stickers, or buttons, or….. but we may just leave them as is
Kiki chose an autumn hue on this one ~
Here they are!  Fun and easy…. and no one else will have the same one