Friday, October 31, 2014

Homeschooling the youngest, thoughts.

I've gotten my whining out for a bit and I am ready to talk about homeschooling today.  My son, who is 16, has been homeschooled since the first grade.  He really only faintly remembers going to school.  We started out with unit studies.  I was teaching a first grader, a third grader and a sixth grader.  We'd do our unit study together (first KONOS, then Christian Cottage in the following years) and then my oldest son would go to his room, theoretically to work on his math, reading, etc. and the younger 2 kids and I would work on their math together, then my girl would go actually work on whatever she was assigned and the youngest and I would work on his spelling and writing.  The spelling and writing part, for him, has never gone well.  He's dysgraphic and probably dyslexic as well.  I read everything I could on right brained learners, late bloomers, dyslexia, dysgraphia and have tried several approaches.  He's learned to read without really learning to spell very well and writing anything by hand is still a horrible chore for him, but sometimes he does it, when he wants to.  He reads constantly.  He wants to learn things constantly.  As our school has evolved, we now do the minimum on basic subjects and then let him teach himself whatever else he wants.  He unschools himself on subjects that I don't understand, like physics and quantum mechanics.  Yesterday he was very interested in how hot something can get and did a lot of research, on his own, watching videos on V Sauce  and showing them to his sister (who has graduated but will never stop wanting to learn).  He does things like this all the time, getting the atlas and spending a whole day reading it, thinking of a question in the morning and then spending a week or more educating himself about it.   We recently cleaned out mom's house (as I have been whining about) and now he's got a whole set of encyclopedias from the 1970s in his room.  I can't help it, I think that looking things up in a book is more satisfying in some way than looking things up on Google, although he does plenty of that too.  We tease him that he is like the robot in Short Circuit, requiring "input?"

I am so glad, especially for his sake, that we have homeschooled.  I think the fact that writing is so difficult for him would have crushed his spirit in the public schools.

And also, by the way, Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

As I said a while back ...

I have a difficult time not titling every single blog post for this year "hanging in there" because that is what I am doing.  It's been a tough year.  Let me refresh you if you haven't been reading long.  At the beginning of 2014, my mom was in a local assisted living and had only been there a few weeks.  She was not, not, not, not happy.  During January, we made the decision to move her to a licensed family home with a lady who took care of 3 Alzheimers patients with the hopes that the smaller, family style environment, would allow her to feel more at home and allow her to bond with the other ladies.  This did not go well.  She was not happy but we tried to give it some time, in the hopes that she would settle in.

Meanwhile, I lost my job and had to scramble to get another one and my husband got a different job, which was actually a promotion, but required him to be gone all of the time, I started having some health problems and had to quit volunteering with the babies in the NICU.  :-(     (Also, I forgot to mention that in the middle of the awful, snowy winter, the pipes in mom's house burst and we had to go over there and shovel ice out of the floor.  Fun times.)  After I settled into my new job a little bit (there as a LOT of training and adjusting), I was able to look at Mom's situation and realized that we needed to move her again.  This was something we had wanted to avoid because she lost so much ground, memory/functioning-wise with each move.  I started looking for another placement, calling basically every family home in the state, then moving on to assisted living facilities with memory care units.  While this was ongoing, one day we got a call from adult protective services indicating that our mom may have been hurt in the family care home.  :-(   This was horrible.  I can't even think about someone hurting my poor sweet mom.  So over the weekend, in May, we moved her to another facility; this time, a good one, though more expensive than we would have liked.  We were fortunate that they were able to take her on such short notice, from Thursday to Monday.  Right about this time, some of my family members invited me to a party, then uninvited me, told me not to come and lied to me about the reasons why and another member of the community started spreading nasty rumors about me and my brother, which were unfounded, but pretty heartbreaking.

My health problems were ongoing, but I had to keep cancelling my own appointments because of some crisis with mom.  The second weekend in May, my son had a car accident in Mississippi, in my mom's car that he had borrowed when his broke down (another story) and we found out that with mom's 3 moves in 6 months, her car insurance had expired.  So he had an uninsured accident,  He had to go to court in July, in Mississippi (9 hours away) and we had to pay about 300 dollars in court costs and fines and later found out that the amount we owed for that accident, to pay for the other person's car, was almost 7000 dollars.   In June, I was finally able to get to the doctor.  In July, my own car broke down.  In August, my son moved back to Mississippi to go back to school and I had to get intravenous iron transfusions to deal with my marked anemia that had made me almost completely unable to walk.   We started homeschooling this fall with my daughter pretty much overseeing her brother's work, thank goodness.  In September, we started cleaning out my mom's house to sell it and in October we listed it with a realtor, a process that I have blogged about.  It's been heartbreaking for me to sell the home I grew up in.  Also, in October, our dog died.

So guess what we are doing right now?  Hanging in there.  It's all we can do.  We're trying to adjust to the new normal and trying to feel hopeful. My anemia has been treated and I am feeling better. Mom's doing better at this new place, but if we don't sell the house, we will have to move her out of there, so that is worrisome.  I'm driving an hour each way to visit her in the junky car I have to drive and trying to be thankful that I even have that.  We've been doing art journaling, knitting, crocheting, watching TV, reading, playing games, spending time with friends and trying not to feel down or depressed, but I tell you what, I am looking forward to the end of 2014.  It's not been a fun year.

What does any of this have to do with homeschooling?  As usual, homeschooling makes dealing with all of these crises easier, not harder because we are able to be flexible and our 16 year old is available to help with things like packing up a house and shoveling ice out of someone's kitchen.  If anything, my kids have learned to pitch in when there is a crisis, keep on keeping on and well, you know.

I thank God for those people in my life who help me with everything, laugh and cry with me and help me, every few months, to pick up a bunch of things and move them, those people who invite me to things and really want me to come, people who defend me and stand with me, kill the spiders and bury the dogs.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Who would have thought that I would go through a period of mourning about the sale of mom's house?  Apparently I am not the only one.

Grief   "The loss of a home is one of many significant life changes that can cause lasting heartache, says Nancy Stutz-Martin, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a grief recovery specialist. "We do form relationships with inanimate objects, including houses. Your home is a place of comfort, security and self-identification. You form emotional attachments to a house, because you have so many memories within its rooms"

I know my youngest son is dealing with it too.  Several things he said yesterday while we were there at the house and he was working like a trooper, let me know that he is feeling the pain too.  My daughter keeps it all in, but I am sure that she's trying to deal with it too.

Gosh, it's hard.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Success, I guess.

We made about 300 dollars at the yard sale.  That's the most I've ever made at a yard sale and it wasn't for me, but the location of my friend's house is so very, very good, that I may have one there another time, if she doesn't mind.  It was very busy even though we didn't advertise.  We had a pretty good time sitting out there and talking to each other.  So we worked for the yard sale, getting things ready, etc. for pretty much 5 days and then today we went over and cleaned up mom's house a little bit, then went to the grocery.  On the way back from the grocery, the realtor was there, showing the house ... so it's a good thing that we cleaned up a bit.

Selling the house is not something I want to do, but it's necessary.  We really need the money to help keep mom where she is.  I had a big episode of self pity this morning, but I've kept busy and I did some art journaling in between the other things I was doing and now I feel okay.    Here's the art jounal page I have been working on today.  It's not done yet, but I really like it so far.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Yard sale today.

We've just been moving stuff around all week.  Today we are going to sell it, hopefully.  It looks like the weather is going to be very nice but I have gotten up at 6:00 a.m. to try and get some of my work out of the way and there isn't any work.  I may have to just take my computer to my friend's house and work there.  :-(  I have paid time off now, but it accrues very slowly and I used it all up taking off for the state fair or something.  One of those times I had to take off, I had to use it and I haven't quite accumulated enough for another day, so I have to work.  I am not very happy about it, truth be told, but I guess I'll just deal with it.   We went to see the Realtor yesterday and he's going to put the sign up so now I have to get in there and get the rest of the stuff out of the mom's house.   Fun, fun times.  I tell you.  Thankfully my kids are very good about helping and my friends are wonderful, they are good at moving things and packing things and have had yard sales before.  I guess I have lived a sheltered life, because I have not moved much, only once since I got married and haven't really done many yard sales.  I actually haven't done one of those since I found out my youngest was going to be a boy and sold some of my daughter's baby clothes.  He's 16 so it's been a while.  We've put school on hold this week, for the most part, as we deal with stuff, stuff, stuff and more stuff ...

Praying the house will sell quickly, the yard sale will go well and this will all be done and I can concentrate more on visiting with my mom, instead of arranging her affairs.  :

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Frustrating day.

I got up at 5:30 to get my work done before a field trip for the kids this morning.  Then when I got to the field trip, realized that it was a hike and I definitely did not feel like hiking.  One of the other moms agreed to bring my kids home and so I left them with her and came back to the house.  We had a plan for the homeschool group to meet me at mom's house today and start packing up some things for the yard sale this weekend at 2, but it's 3 now and they are still not back.  So, I've been sleepily waiting, for 2 hours (they were supposed to be finished with the hike at 12:30) for them to come back.  I've occupied myself with messaging another mom through Facebook, who was texting her daughter and keeping me updated on their progress.   We might get one load/trip done today and we might not.  They have to be someplace else at 5:30, so I guess we'll see.

I've been keeping myself occupied by doing a little cooking and a little bit of housework and contacting my brother and the realtor about getting the house sold.  :-(

***** Update:  Our wonderful friends and kids made it back and did an awesome job of moving the stuff.   Still a ton to do, but quite a bit got done.  It feels good, but we are pretty tired now.  :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday with the Homeschool Group.

We had 4H yesterday and since we are doing a financial unit, the assignment was for 3 teams of kids with moms to go to different grocery stores and write down prices for basic necessities and then see which grocery store was the least expensive.  The items were things like rice, milk, spaghetti, canned vegetables, fresh produce, potatoes, etc.  In our town, the stores were Kroger, Walmart and Save-A-Lot.  Kroger had the best prices on 4 items, Walmart on 3 and Save-A-Lot had the best prices on 21 of the items.  They had ground beef for 2.99 and canned goods for 45 cents.  It looks like we might all be shopping there next week.  I wonder if the Kroger gas incentives offset those savings?  Someone needs to do some math.  :-P   Also, Kroger has those coupons they send sometimes for 15 dollars off a 150 dollar purchase and sometimes they have double gas points on the weekends ... I'm sure they make it this confusing on purpose.  :-(    I do know that Walmart is cheaper on Chex cereal and the whole foods near where my husband works has the gluten free bread for almost a dollar less and the salvage store is really inexpensive but doesn't always have things we can use ... but I don't really have time and it wouldn't save money anyway if I drove all over the countryside looking for bargains.  Yes, there is probably an app for that, but I don't have it on my non-smart phone.  I do have a pretty good head for remembering numbers so I know about what I have been paying for most groceries and can at least recognize a lower price when I see it.  That may just have to be enough.  Just doing the best I can here.

After 4H, we went to dinner at our friend's house and then we had our moms Monday night bible study.  We didn't get home until pretty late, listened to our book and then went to bed.

It's going to be a busy week because we are really going to be working on my mom's house this week.  I am not looking forward to that.  :-(

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Been busy.

In my spare time, I've been art journaling and working on the scrap-ghan. It's getting big.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Then ...

One of my children was assigned some cleaning today.  When I came back home, that person said "Well, I was cleaning, but then I learned to juggle."  LoL.


We finally got the bill for our son's wreck last spring.  :-(.  It's a big one.  That's going to have an impact on a lot of things.  Car shopping.  Christmas.  Not fun.

Today though, business as usual.  Homeschooling.  Working.  Going to see Mom.  Maybe this weekend we will get her house cleaned out finally.  It sure has been a crazy year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finally looks like fall!

I love fall so much.  It is so beautiful!

As to what we are doing today, my youngest son took the PSAT and said it seemed "pretty easy".  We'll see.  He said that there was 1 math problem he guessed on because he didn't want to work out the answer and 1 he didn't get to.  The hardest part for him, was writing a statement swearing that he would not talk about the questions to anyone, since he has dysgraphia and writing is difficult for him.  Other than that, it went pretty well.  :-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

11th Year.

Someone is doing a poll on Facebook asking how many years everyone has been homeschooling.  This is our 11th year.  We decided to pull our oldest out of school for 1 year before he started middle school and it snowballed from there, with us quickly seeing many, many advantages to schooling at home and pulling our other 2 out of the public school system a few weeks after school started.  So when we started, we were homeschooling a 6th grader, a 3rd grader and a 1st grader.  Fast forward 11 years and the oldest is a junior in college with good grades, the 18 year old has graduated and is working on her own crafting business and writing a novel and the youngest, in 11th grade, is still homeschooling, but with less and less input from his parents as he finds he can do the work himself (with some writing help from his sister due to his dysgraphia).  He's going to take the PSAT tomorrow.  I'm not sure if there is any advantage to taking it for him, scholarship wise, but it only costs 14 dollars, some of his friends are taking it and he's looking forward to giving his brain a good stretch.

We have never regretted our decision to home school, not for one second.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Review - The Action Bible Guess-It Game

In my excitement at having a giveaway to do on my blog, I forgot to write my review of this game!  The winner was Kathryn C. and we are in the process of getting her address so the game can be sent to her and her family!  

Here's the review I did on the Family Christian website. 

"I think this would be a lot of fun for a church trivia night. by Fatcat on 10/7/14
There are bible persons, places and things and each beautifully illustrated card lists 20 clues, at first very vague clues and then increasingly specific. The earlier in the clue process you guess it, the more points you get. We played it at home but I think it would be more fun at a trivia night party. There are a few variations of how to play, which are helpful because if you are like me and have a child who knows pretty much all the answers but hates to write anything down, there is a no-writing variation. The game made us think and it sent us to our bibles to look some things up, so it was a learning experience for us as well! The only drawback that I saw was one of my children was confused about the wording of some of the questions and did not like it that things like The Ten Commandments, were referred to as "I" as in "I am the 10 Commandments" so after the first one like this, I changed the wording as I read the questions. All in all, an interesting take on a bible trivia game with several variations!"
 I think that it is a good game to reinforce bible learning!.  As a homeschooler I know how much the kids learned and how much they enjoyed it when we would pull out a game to supplement our studies.  This is excellent for that!   


This weekend was my daughter's most successful show ever.  She's been doing craft sales for a couple of years, so it was pretty good.  The rain stayed away Sunday all day.  We even got to take down the tents and load everything up into the cars without rain.  It was great!  The sun was even out!  I didn't take any pictures the second day, so this is a picture of Saturday, when it was kind of early and very overcast.  

As to what my daughter is doing now that she has graduated homeschool (which is what everyone asks), she is crafting and doing the craft sale circuit and working on a novel.  Apparently, it's a pretty unusual thing to be doing, according to our family and friends, but I don't think taking a year or so to decide what you want to do is a bad thing.  When I was trying to decide what to do about college and career, I was in the public school peer dependent mindset and I made all of my decisions based on what my friends were going to be doing.  My daughter is making her own decisions.   Meanwhile, she's got a way to make some money while she writes and is happy as a clam crafting and writing.  :-)  

The club is possibly doing another sale this next weekend.  :-)  

I'm having another catch-up Monday today, working on my calendar, my blogs, my Words-With-Friends games ... and the housework.  It's gonna be another busy week!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rain, rain, go away.

 It started out pretty good this morning, lots of people and the rain was holding off for the craft fair.
 Then it rained and most everyone went home.
This is the gutter which ran underneath our chairs.

Still, my daughter did well, before the rain and we will go back tomorrow.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Giveaway!!!

I have recently signed up to blog for Family Christian Stores and I'm excited to be able to offer you this giveaway.  They sent me a copy of The Action Bible Guess It Game and we played it the other day.  It is different from most trivia games in that it gives you 20 clues and you get more points based on how many clues you need to use.  This makes it more fun.  Unfortunately at our house, the master of all things trivia, the youngest son, wins every time but it is still fun and educational.  It had us looking things up to verify that they had all their facts right.  (They did!).  The art on these cards is very well done and I think your family will enjoy it.  Register to win!

(Isn't this exciting??  A giveaway!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Getting ready.

Ready for the craft sale.  My daughter set up her table in the living room just to see how the amount of her products matched her table size and to see how she could arrange it.  It think it looks like she has plenty of stuff to sell, don't you?

I'm kind of nervous about it, just because it's going to be a long day.  I worry that I will get so tired that I will just involuntarily put my head down on the table and start snoring.  She has strict instructions to nudge me if that occurs.  :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Balance ... are we there yet?

I've been juggling things my whole life and I guess that's what it is all about.  Right now, I'm trying to juggle my job, my homemaking responsibilities, working on Mom's house, getting ready for the craft sale this weekend, meeting mom's needs, taking care of my family that lives with me ... I'd throw in homeschooling to just pile it on there, but if you know me and you've been reading this blog for long, you know my kid pretty much homeschools himself at this point.  His sister helps when he needs help. There is a book I am trying to decide whether or not to purchase for him to help him with his spelling, but if I do, I'll just hand it to the boy or the sister and tell them to handle it and they will.  They are very responsible and she's been my assistant teacher and assistant mom to him since the day he was born.  My mom asked her the day he was born -- she was 22 months old --- if he was the best toy ever and she said "yeah."  :-)

Today we can cross off a few things accomplished ... we got about 15 bags of garbage out of mom's house.  Some of it wouldn't have been garbage if it hadn't sat there for nearly a year and gotten somehow damp, but now it is.  We are on the last room, sorting.  We started on it yesterday and its the smallest room in the house, basically a walk-in closet so it might go pretty quickly.  Then, we'll move what we are moving here, here and then we'll have to start cleaning and organizing our house, donating some of our furniture and moving some of mom's furniture here.  It's sad and every now and then I really intensely wish that we could buy their house, but we can't.  :-(  

As to things gotten done today, after work, I also did quite a bit of work on my house, took out our garbage, washed our dishes and cooked our dinner, did some drawing and now I am feeling quite lazy, but I may go to Wal-mart and pick up some things I know Mom needs, so I won't have to do that when I go see her tomorrow.  There's not a conveniently located store between here and there yet.

So anyway, I go back and forth, working a little bit on this and a little bit on that, trying to achieve some balance, but I only get it for a few seconds at a time.  ...

Like I said, life.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The way it goes sometimes.

Free Range Learning shared this this morning, on Facebook.
This is what most days look like to me, but today, it seems more than usual?  Maybe?  I got up planning to go to mom's house and clean and make some phone calls and then go see mom, but I remembered that my rule is kind of, clean mom's house on the days I don't go see her, since she's so far away now that even if I only stay a little while, with being on the road at least an hour each way, I am gone from the house for at least 3 hours.  :-(   So I decided to stay here at home until 2:00 and get some things done at my house.   Normally, on Monday I would do some cleaning of our house, but with my burned hand (second degree burn to right index finger last Monday), I felt that instead of doing the kind of cleaning that gets my hands wet and uses chemicals, I needed to do some desk work, reconciling my calendar, cleaning out my purse and things like that.  I did also do a bit of laundry and I will load the crock pot before I take off on my trip.  I've also been spending some time promoting my various online businesses and blogs, so that hopefully, some passive income will be rolling in just about time for Christmas.

Some days when I am off, I spend about half the day paralyzed, trying to decide what to do so today I am glad that I just did something.  I got several things checked off my list and I feel a little bit more in control of the coming weeks, since I have cleaned out my purse and reconciled all those little appointment cards with my master calendar.

Trying to keep up with everything is a bit much sometimes.  :-)  Working, homeschooling, several small businesses, my daughter's craft business (big sale coming up), Words with Friends, homemaking, taking care of mom ... in other words, LIFE.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Where did this week go?

We are just keeping busy around here.  I did go to see mom and the visit went well.  I think she's settling in a little bit there.  I'm not sure I should say that, lest it jinx it, but it seems so.  We were not able to make a decision fast enough to maybe move her to that other assisted living.  The room became available on Tuesday and was rented by Friday.  We will give it some thought in case in becomes available again and as always, keep observing her and make sure she's reasonably happy where she is.  Having to be responsible for making decisions like that is hard.

Around our house, we have the wonderful news that my son is going to bring his girlfriend home for Thanksgiving!  It's exciting!  I feel that I need to clean the house, starting now, but still have mom's house sitting there needing to be cleaned out so I guess I'll work on that first.  :-)  I am also going to try and perfect a roll recipe so that we have good rolls for dinner.  That's something we haven't been able to do yet.  I've been able to make sweet potato pie, cornbread dressing and gravy, but not the rolls.  We are very picky.

Another exciting thing is our local craft show, my art is going to be displayed and hopefully sold, by someone who has taken it on commission to sell and at the same time my daughter's knitted and crocheted goods are being sold down the street.  Exciting times for our handiwork too!  Also my friend is going to get to sell her beautiful handmade wreaths and I'm excited for her too.   We had a good day shopping yesterday and though I overslept, I woke up in a great mood.  I'm just going to go with that.

I also need to go to the grocery.  :-P

Thursday, October 02, 2014

No surgery but ...

I went ahead and took my day off with pay.  I went to mom's house and cleaned for a while, came home and made lunch and then headed out to go car shopping.  The plan was to go car shopping and then see mom, but after hours and hours of dealing with the traffic while car shopping in the heat, we found ourselves at nearly 7:00 p.m. about 45 minutes from home and about 40 minutes from where mom lives (which is also about 45 minutes from home).  If we had went to see her, we would have not been able to stay very long at all, since my husband needed to go to bed early, for work today, so we decided to come on home and procrastinate seeing mom until today.  We found a couple of vehicles I liked but we did not have universal family agreement on anything.  :-(  

After we finally got home, the kids and I went to mom's house to clear out some garbage bags and bring them to our house for garbage pickup this morning and then my son did school work until midnight.  We would not have made him do that, since we wanted him to go car shopping with us, but his sister, the assistant (really main, in charge) teacher said that he was behind because the day before he had goofed off all day, so if he didn't finish school work from the day before he would be grounded from all screens.  So we skipped reading our book last night.

Yes, we are still doing read alouds every night before bed, a tradition we started soon after the oldest son was born 22 years ago.  Every night, either I read, my daughter reads or we listen to an audiobook before bed.  Right now we are listening to the Septimus Heap .  My daughter is 18, my youngest is 16.  I don't know how long this tradition is going to go on, but I'd personally like to adopt a couple more kids and just do it forever.  :-)   Books make life better.


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