Tuesday, February 28, 2017


It's the end of  February, almost a year since I lost my job.  I went to a career coaching class at our local library and now I am armed with a better resume and interview skills so maybe I'll find something.  Meanwhile, I'm keeping busy.  I'm continuing to work out in the physical therapy gym strengthening my legs to help compensate for the fact that I have a torn ligament in my left knee and God only knows what wrong with my right one.  I'm doing good.  I'm feeling stronger.  It wears me out on exercise days though.  :-)  I'm working on the house, working on planning the special events we have coming up, working on my reading list, re-learning French, brushing up my MS Excel skills and being the support person for everyone else here at home.

Last week my youngest son was evaluated by Vocational Rehabilitation to see if he is eligible for accommodations in college.  We haven't heard anything official but the psychologist said that he definitely saw signs of ADHD and dysgraphia.  I guess we'll hear something soon.

The scholarship search is kind of discouraging.  All I have seen so far require that he be a high school senior and the fact that he has taken a year off seems like it's going to make him not eligible for much.  I will keep looking, but I don't feel very hopeful.  Thankfully, he's going to the least expensive college in our state, the local community college system  but  I haven't found one that he's even eligible to apply for.  :-(

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Special Events Coming Up.

Right now I'm doing some planning for a couple of events.  My oldest son is getting married in July.  Both he and fiance are gluten free.  (She went gluten free after meeting him and got her Grave's disease to go into remission!)  So now I am excitedly planning both a shower menu and a rehearsal dinner cookout menu.  The wedding it out of state and the shower is local.  Both the rehearsal dinner and the shower will probably be upwards of 50 people in attendance.  I'm serving a full meal, of course, at the rehearsal dinner but for the shower, I'm going to go with finger foods and snacks.  Being gluten free makes everything a bit more complicated, especially if you are trying to stay on a budget.

For the shower, I'm going with a theme of dip, apparently, I'm doing fruit and dip, veggies and dip, gluten free crackers with a cheese ball, punch and other drinks and cake; which my cousin is going to make from gluten free mixes that I purchased at the salvage grocery store.  We eat these all the time and they are yummy, no concerns about quality.  They are King Arthur brand.  By buying these at the salvage store, I've saved about 4 dollars a box on them.  My cousin will do the icing.  She is good at this and she actually did my wedding cakes 28 years ago.

For the rehearsal dinner, it's more complicated.  We'll be 4 hours away from home in a state park and outside in a pavilion.  We couldn't afford to get a room in the lodge because we'd have to pay for catering.  Fortunately, the bride and groom are very easy going and even suggested a cookout.  So we're going to order these hamburger buns Rotella  and grill out burgers.  For side dishes I was kind of stumped.  I'm going to be staying in a cabin with a kitchen, but I don't know how much cooking I can do there.  It looks small on the web site and besides, I don't want to spend the entire day cooking.  I want to do vacation-y things.  Also, I am afraid that things like potato salad will get too warm and be dangerous.  So I called and asked and the pavilion does have electricity so that I can plug in crock pots.  I'm going to have crock pots full of baked beans, green beans and corn on the cob with watermelon slices and some of my special oatmeal cookies that I'm famous for, for dessert.  To feed a crowd like this, I'll probably have to borrow crock pots from several of my friends.  :-)

I'll probably bring potato chips to both, just in case we need to stretch the food a bit.  I need to find amounts of food to make for each and will utilize web sites like this one:  Cook Like a Caterer  and this one:  Chef Menus Quantity Chart

I think it's going to be fun!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


The word etymology is derived from the Greek word ἐτυμολογία (etumología), itself from ἔτυμον (étumon), meaning "true sense", and the suffix -logia, denoting "thestudy of". In linguistics, the term etymon is used to refer to a word or morpheme (e.g. stem or root) from which a later word is derived.

Our youngest son is very interested in words, their meanings, their origins and roots and what they mean now and what they originally meant.  He has an incredible reading and speaking vocabulary.  Today, he let me know that he has figured out the original meanings and origin of all of the English cuss words and why they are considered rude.   

I'm so proud. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

News from here and a helpful resource or two.

Our oldest son just took his last final exam of his college career.  He's going to walk the graduation walk in May, but he's officially done now.  Woot woot!  In a few months, he'll be a married man as well as a college graduate.  :-)  Youngest son got his most recent acceptance letter yesterday, to the local community college where he will probably start college.  He still hasn't decided what he's going to do.  The girl is reasonably happy in her job and working on her novel.  I'm still hanging in here, unemployed, cleaning, exercising, looking for work and trying to keep the house in order, supporting what everyone else is doing by trying to get all the errands and other things done here at home.

Homeschool helpful resources:

If you are just pulling your child out of school and wondering if they are at grade level and where you should start, here is a helpful resource.    HSLDA Placement Tests.

A good article about play:  Teacher Tom.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

More on Read Alouds

I got this article in my email yesterday from Rainbow Resource.  It's a fascinating article about the value of reading aloud and as you know, around here we are huge fans.  We read some ourselves and we listen to a lot of audiobooks.  Right now, everyone in the house is listening to an audiobook but me.  I'm reading a conventional book.  Anyway, some benefits listed in the article include building a larger vocabulary, increasing reading desire, and making kids fall in love with reading.  You should go read it as well as the rest of this post, in which I copied a post from my blog from 2014.

 As I may have mentioned, we have been doing read-alouds before bed every night forever.  When the last kid moves out, I may have to start babysitting or read to the dogs or something.  Actually, for the past year, since I have been art journaling, I haven't been doing the reading.  We have been either listening to audio books which we either check out of the library or download from our virtual library system.  This has been good for both the kids, because if my daughter doesn't know how to pronounce a word, she'll ask and my son and I both look at it and see if we know what it is.  On the rare occasions we don't (his vocabulary is extensive!) we look it up on Dictionary.com to get the meaning and the pronunciation.  It's cool living in this age where that is available.  Also, it is great to listen to an audio book for several reasons.  Those guys all do such a good job.  It's fun to listen to the accents.  As rural Kentuckians who have been listening to an Irishman reading recently, we've enjoyed how they put random Rs in places we wouldn't think to put them.  For example in the Artemis Fowl books, there is a character named Maria which is pronounced Mareer (rhymes with career) by the reader.  Last night when my daughter would read the book we are on, she would pause every time before she said Maria and smile.  Fun times.  Other fun times we have had is when I am reading and I get overly tired and start saying things wrong with hilarious results.  I personally have to pause when I am reading any of the Brotherband Chronicles books by John Flanagan because of the giant crossbow they have in the bow of the ship, causing me to have to stop and think whether I should say bow or bow ... which in turn has led to the discussion of homonyms and now that I am looking up the definition of that word, I see that we also need to discuss homophones and homographs.  I don't remember ever hearing of a homograph before.

Anyway, here is a list of books I recommend reading to your teens or tweens:

Harry Potter  (best ever).
Ranger's Apprentice  (a close second). 
Brotherband Chronicles  (A very good sequel to Ranger's Apprentice with different characters but in the same world, very humorous.) 
Peter and the Starcatchers (The first one starts out really slow but push through this, because it gets way better and very exciting further on).  
Artemis Fowl (He starts out as a criminal mastermind but reforms gradually and goes straight.)
Lord of the Rings/Hobbit 
Hank the Cowdog Probably really for the younger kids but I enjoy these myself at my age.  Mostly.  The one about the vampire cat can grate on the nerves a bit (okay, a lot) and the one by Drover is not good.  Otherwise, the rest are cute. 

Percy Jackson - As mentioned previously the books are way better than the movies.   It is an interesting premise, that the Greek gods are real and have all these illegitimate children  with mortals and if you are religious, you might want to reject these but as we have discussed, these Greek gods would be very unsatisfying gods to have as they are irresponsible, immoral, not trustworthy, etc.  Also, it is assumed that youngsters at 12 need to have a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. which may make more conservative families reject these.  We have just discussed our feelings about that and went on.  The books are very educational about Greek/Roman mythology.  The companion series to these is
The Kane Chronicles - Very educational about the Egyptian mythology.
The 39 Clues.  Educational about a lot of stuff.  Reasonably enjoyable for all.

A Hero's Guide To Saving your Kingdom and The Hero's Guide Storming the Castle and the other one before that ... these were great.
Dragon Rider - not a series, just the one book.

Some that my youngest son enjoyed on his own, but his sister and I didn't not share his enthusiasm:
Deltora Quest
Eragon - series
Dragons in Our Midst 

This should get you started.  If you read all of these, that's approximately 150 books.  You'd better get started NOW.

We find that a couple of chapters before bed every night is a great way to finish the day.  

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Recommended Books for New Homeschoolers.

The group of homeschoolers that I am in on Facebook came up with this list and I wanted to share in case it might be helpful.
Ruth Beechik Books

102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy (older versions are 100 and 101)
The Christian Homeschool by Greg Harris
Mary Pride Books
The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarkson
The Three R's by Ruth Beechick
Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins
Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Hupp
The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson
Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson
A Survivor’s Guide to Homeschooling by Luanne Shackelford
Free Range Learning - How Homeschooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon
Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto
Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin
Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson
A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
The Noah Plan, Self Directed Seminar
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Reading Challenge.

The 2 kids who live here decided to challenge themselves to read more this year.  They want to read at least 1 book every 2 weeks and audio books count.  Mangas which are short and are read very quickly count differently -- you have to read 10 of them to count as one novel.  These are the kids rules and it's their challenge, but I decided to join in.  I'd like to read 50 books this year.  I don't think that's a crazy amount for me.  The main difference for me is that I will be keeping up with what I read.  I wish I had always done it so I had a list of every book I'd ever read.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Oh well, anyway, I can start now.  It's like that Chinese proverb --"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is now. " So, I'm starting now.

Here's what I've read so far this year.

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar   My review:  I enjoyed this and would like to read more by this author.  I don't think I'd want to read it over and over again as I do some.  :-)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins  My review:  Pretty good.  The fact that the main character has a drinking problem and sometimes doesn't know what she has been doing really adds a depth to the mystery.
Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeve  My review: This was a second reading.  It's okay.  It's actually a children's book, one of the prequels to the Hungry City Chronicles, which I have read in the past and enjoyed.  The reason I chose this one was that we hadn'd gone to the library and it was here at home on our own bookshelf.  I may read the HCC books again at some point.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah  This was pretty fascinating, a look into South African culture.  I would recommend it.

I may have to throw some shorter ones in there to get the 50 I am challenging myself to read this year but we'll finish the audio book we are listening to together tonight and I can count that one.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

It's weird.

It's very weird being unemployed.  I am not sure how to act.  I've been doing quite a bit of cleaning during the time that I have been off and lately, I've been working very hard on getting in shape.  I've been going to the physical therapy gym and exercising for 45 minutes 3 times a week.  I still have more cleaning and organizing to do, my bedroom and the laundry room are crying out for re-organization, but after working out, I am so tired.  I'm getting there though.  I did 25 minutes on the exercise bike this morning and the rest of the time did knee physical therapy exercises.  I have improved on all the exercises and I am feeling better.

I am going to start working at the Montessori school where my daughter works as a substitute and I've been doing some things to get ready for that.  They've pursued me.  I would like to work there, but I like to have a daily routine and so being a sub doesn't really appeal to me.  I said no twice and finally, when no other job has presented itself, I said yes, reluctantly.  I really want to find something more regular, but maybe this will work into something.

We're working on wedding and shower plans and that's exciting.  We're going to have a wedding shower in March when my son and his fiancee are here visiting us.  I'm also working on getting my youngest son assessed for his learning disabilities so that he can get accommodations for college and filling out college applications for him.  It seems likely that he will go to the local community college.  I don't think he wants to leave home right away and I am good with that.  I will let you know how it goes, going to college with dysgraphia/dyslexia or whatever it is that he has.  It should be interesting.  Hopefully, the college will be easily able to accommodate his needs and he won't feel embarrassed to need the help.   We went to vocational rehabilitation yesterday and though they don't think he will qualify for their services, they are going to see if they can get him assessed for us so that we will have documentation of the learning disability.  This is the kind of thing that homeschoolers have to do, because he's not coming from the public school system with an IEP.

That's it for us.  It's quiet around here.


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