Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Doubts and Fears

Whew, that didn't take long. Now that the decision is final, I have begun a sort of back and forth between being on a high and being filled with anxiety! How will we sell this house? What do I need to purge? How long will it take to get the new house dried in enough to live in it? Should we go ahead and take out a construction loan just in case? How will we sell this house? What will family and friends think? And most importantly, how will we sell this house?!

At the moment we have received nothing but a positive response, but then again we have only revealed our plans to a few as of me writing this (though I am sure now, everyone knows). We expect to get some negative response because when we approached the idea the first time back in January we got that response. I can't honestly say that it doesn't make me wonder, at least every now and then, why we are doing this.

Looking forward I see such a great future. One of the mortgage free variety. One where we are no longer slaves to the bank and our debt. Debt we are managing, but who wants to just manage when one can conquer?  I also see a future of my children growing up with a kind of independence we can not give them here where streets are busy with cars and yards are dominated by home owner association rules. I see them running 3 houses down to grandma and grandpa's house to see what sugary treat they can weasel out of him (and we all know grandpa is the culprit in this situation).

But what if it doesn't work out? What if we hate living in a less than manicured neighborhood? What if we miss having houses within touching distance of our own? Should that actually happen (and I have my doubts that it will), then we will own a house that is mortgage free which we can rent out or sell. We can take our savings from being mortgage free and invest it into another house. Of course this is worst case scenario but it is nice to know we have a back up plan just in case.

But, I have faith that God is going to bless our attempts at "owing no man".

post signature

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Long Term Plans

I decided that I needed to map out what my long term educational goals were for my children. I think it is a good idea to have a plan so that I am not making last minute choices about what to teach only to accidentally leave something out. This list only goes through Brianna graduating so it won’t be exactly the same for the other two. I haven’t decided exactly how to handle that. They will get the same classes just at different grade level which is why I posted the year beside it and not Brianna's grade level.

History Cycle-Using Mystery of History which has cycles with each book having a elementary, Jr high and high school option.

2012 Ancient History (Mystery of History Volume 1)
2013 Middle Ages (Mystery Of History Volume 2)
2014 Renaissance (Mystery of History Volume 3)
2015 Revolutions (Mystery of History Volume 4)
2016 American History and British History (Long way off so haven’t decided which curriculum)
2017 Ancient History
2018 Middle Ages
2019 Renaissance
2020 Revolutions
2021 American History
2022 Civics and Politics

Science Cycle-I might actually combine zoology 2 and 3 so that we can do a year of geology. Or condense one of those years into a single semester and do a semester of geology. Three years zoology just seems like an awful lot. I am debating if I want to use the upper Apologia books because I do not care for Jay Wile, but that remains to be seen later.

2012 Intro to Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Astronomy (Real Science 4 Kids)
2013 Astronomy and Botany (Apologia)
2014 Zoology 1 and 2 (Apologia)
2015 General Science (Apologia)
2016 Physical Science (Apologia)
2017 Biology and Marine Biology (Apologia)
2018 Anatomy and Physiology (Apologia)
2019 Chemistry (Apologia)
2020 Advanced Chemistry (not sure but probably at a college)
2021 Physics (not sure but probably at a college)
2022 Advanced Physics (again probably college)


2012 Teaching Textbooks 3
2013 Teaching Textbooks 4
2014 Teaching Textbooks 5
2015 Teaching Textbooks 6
2016 Teaching Textbooks 7
2017 Teaching Textbooks Pre-algebra
2018 Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1
2019 Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2
2020 Teaching Textbooks Geometry
2021 Teaching Textbooks Pre-cal
2022 Teaching Textbooks either calculus or trigonometry (or possibly Math 1301 in college)

English each year will automatically include spelling and vocabulary

2012 Easy Grammar 2
2013 Easy Grammar 3 and beginning writing techniques
2014 Easy Grammar 4 and continuing writing techniques
2015 Easy Grammar 5 and continuing writing techniques
2016 Easy Grammar 6 and Creative Writing (Thinking Abeka but that is a while off)
2017 Daily Grammar 7 and continuing writing techniques
2018 Daily Grammar 8 and research paper-Old World Literature
2019 Daily Grammar 9 and Poetry Anthology- New World Literature
2020 Daily Grammar 10 and Creative Writing-American Literature
2021 Daily Grammar 11 and the Art of Debate-British Literature
2022 Daily Grammar 12 and Research Paper (or English 1301 in college)

Foreign Language


2012 Life Pac 2
2013 Life Pac 3
2014 Life Pac 4
2015 Life Pac 5
2016 Life Pac 6
2017 Life Pac 7
2018 Life Pac Practical Christianity and Church History
2019 Life Pac New Testament Survey
2020 Life Pac Old Testament Survey
2021 Life Pac Bible Doctrine
2022 Life Pac Christian Faith and Living

Home Economics

2013-2016-Health and Safety
2017-Nutrition and Food Preparation
2018-Sewing Basics and Historical Arts (canning, embroidery and so on)
2019-Cleaning and Home organization
2020-Etequet and Hospitality
2021-Holistic Medicine and First Aid
2022- Finances and Consumer Math

My DH will take care of computer science, though I will also encourage them to take it as a dual enrollment class their senior year since most degrees require a college level computer science course.

Of course all this is subject to change as needed. I will also allow them to chase some self-led interests, but over all this is what I believe they need to have a well rounded school experience with a Biblical world view. Let me know if you see something missing!

post signature

Monday, June 25, 2012

Downsizing: The Journey Begins

This is the artist rendering of our current 3200sq ft home
It bit us. The downsizing bug. The one where you realize that things are not as important as memories and memories are not made in big houses where families are so far apart from each other that they only pass one or two times during an evening. They aren't made when mommy sits in the bedroom and daddy is in the other end of the house in the office. They are not made when having so many toys means that none are treated with respect. They aren't made by having 3200 sq ft of home that takes all day just to do a basic clean up in.

Now,  I am not saying that all families who live in big homes have these problems, but our does. Currently our lives are dominated by tasks that do not really create memorable moments but rather barely keep chaos from taking over. I spend my day fighting a losing battle cleaning house while the kids are so overwhelmed by toys that they give up trying to play with any of them. Daddy comes home and has to continue work in his office which is closed away on the other side of the house. I sit in the bedroom watching TV and the kids are now fighting because of how chaotic the upstairs is.

We decided we have had enough. We are getting rid of the chaos in our lives. We are getting rid of the obsession with things. We are downsizing.

On July 16th, 2012 (if all goes according to plan) we will pack up what we need to live, move in with my parents and put our 3200 sqft, in the city, in a manicured subdivision with an HOA, on the market. During this time we will dry in our new, in the country, on 5 acres of land, 1660 sq ft home for which we will pay cash. While we are selling our current home we will slowly work on finishing the new one doing our best not to incur any debt.

We don't know what the market will do for our current home. We have only been here just under 3 years. We may even have to take a small loss on it should it not sell for what we need it to, but even if that happens, we will be mortgage free on the new house and will be able to quickly pay off the small amount we would owe.

So here we are. At the start of a fantastic adventure. One that no doubt will have it's ups and downs. We know that we have some family and friends that will think we are nuts. Right now I am riding the wave of happiness over the thought of being mortgage free. I am sure this feeling will come and go, but we know that this is a chance to live as we believe we should, owing no man.

post signature

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Things Not to Say to a Friend Who Has Just Experienced A Miscarriage

The road to hurt feelings is paved with good intentions. Maybe that isn't exactly the way that phrase goes but it is pretty accurate. When I had my miscarriage in December 2005 I immediately told my husband and my mom to let everyone know that I did NOT want to talk about it. I didn't want sympathy, I didn't want questions. I wanted to pretend like it didn't happen. At least while I got through Christmas. This is not how everyone will handle it, but at the time we were traveling from place to place celebrating Christmas and I did not want to have to deal with an emotional breakdown at a huge family event. Inevitably, either someone didn't get the message or they thought that what they had to say would somehow make all my pain disappear. Deep down I know that they did not intend to hurt me, but it did. So let me help you out with how to respond to a friend who has just experienced the loss of an unborn baby.

Things not to say:

1. Well at least you weren't that far along. I was 7 weeks pregnant when I lost my dear Jaime. It hurt. It hurt just like I would imagine losing one of my other children who are here with me. Maybe that doesn't seem like it can be true, but it is how it was for me. It does not matter how far along the pregnancy is, losing a child hurts.

2. You can always try again. Maybe. But that still does not make the loss of this one any easier. The idea that my baby can just be replaced by having another is insane. If one of my born children died would you tell me to just have another?

3. You can always borrow mine. Because that is just like bringing my child back from the dead. NOT.

4. It must have been God's plan. Logically we know that, yes, God had a plan for that child and though their life was brief, He reigns and there is a reason for the loss, but it takes weeks, months and sometimes years to be able to acknowledge that out loud.

5. Don't worry you will have another. This is a pie crust promise. Easily made, easily broken. No one but God knows whether this is true and to say it to a woman who is grieving is a painful stab at the heart, because the first question we ask ourselves is "what if we can't".

6. It's been (insert number) weeks/months now. Just let it go. No one has the right to time a mother's grief. I am 5 years post miscarriage and I still have a hard time talking about it without crying. Let us grieve however we need to for as long as we need to.

My best piece of advice would be this: If you wouldn't say it to someone whose born child has just passed, don't say it to someone whose unborn child has just passed.

Things to say:

1. Nothing. Let your friend decide when she is ready to talk about it and when she does, she may only want you to listen. And please, don't give advice unless it is asked for. Just listen.

2. I am sorry. If you feel like you must say something keep it short and sweet.

3. I will pray for you. Another short and simple condolence.

4. What about your husband, how is he? I think most of us can say that during emotional trials that our husbands try to put on the brave front. My husband fielded comments and phone calls, he answered questions and talked to doctors. I was in no mental state to do it, but through it all the only one who acknowledged his pain was my OB/GYN. Not that no one cared, but just that I was so obviously hurt that they were focused on me.

There is no easy way to comfort a friend who has just suffered a pregnancy loss. Be patient, be understanding and be kind. Be ready for crazy emotional outbursts as grief and hormones collide. Everyone is going to handle it differently. Let the parents decide when and how much they want to talk about it. Most of all, think before you speak.

post signature

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Traveling with Children and Not Losing Time or Your Mind

I will be going to Knoxville sometime this week to visit my sister and my mother.  It is only a five hour drive, but if the kids had their way, it would take 10 because we have to stop every 30 seconds.

I do not drive 5 hours on I-40 to view the Tennessee countryside or to see the skyscrapers (I am using that term very loosely) of Nashville.  I just want to get to where I am going with as minimal an effort as I can get away with using.

My kids, however, have a different way of thinking.  They want to  use the bathroom, buy a snack, get a drink, stretch their legs, or whatever other excuse they could come up with to stop our forward momentum.  I made a drive there last summer and did really well on time!  It also did not cost anything but a little money for food and close to a million for gas, because gas, you know, is incredibly expensive.

I made some changes to the way we did things and I wanted to share those with you, as it is vacation season!

  1. Stop *only* at rest areas.  Scope them out at an online site like  or do a Google search for rest areas along your route. I have 4 between my starting location and where I am going.  We stop at all of them, regardless.  Everyone *has* to get out and potty.  I don't care if they "don't haf to." Do not stop at gas stations unless you need gas.  Otherwise, you will buy something - like a candy bar - and everyone in the car will decide that they can no longer "hold it" and a quick stop at the gas station will turn into a half hour ordeal.
  2. Buy snacks and food - including candy bars - at the grocery store before you leave. I get the food we typically only get when we travel - Hot & Spicy Cheezits, Chips Ahoy, and a couple bags of Frosted Donuts...  I also get clear, flavored drinks - like those Roaring Water Capri-suns and also get bottled water.  I pack a cooler and put in the drinks, ice, and luncheon meat. I also put in an avocado, caesar dressing, red pepper strips, and romaine lettuce.  I also pack a box with tortilla wraps or pitas and several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches already made up and cut into halves.  I finish it all up with bananas, the smallest apples I can find, a bag of grapes, and several ziploc bags of chips.  This year, I am going to pack lunch sacks containing a fruit, bag of chips, sandwich and a cookie so everything will be ready to just hand out, instead of having to pull over and go through everything.
  3. This is a good time to rot your brain on movies.  If you have portable DVD player or laptop computer, or both, make sure they are charged and ready to go.  Pack a couple of Redbox movies and return them to the nearest Redbox at your destination.  I also let them take their Gameboys, Nintendo DS, iPod touch, and the Innotab.  Several of those have car chargers so I make sure I grab those as well.  
  4. Don't go overboard on the pillows and blankets.  I allow one small pillow per child, not their bed pillow, but something like the pillow pet or small throw pillow.  The blanket they are allowed is the size of a small throw or, in one kid's case, the size of a crib blanket.  
  5. I always bring my "spankin' spoon".  Because, I am a mean mom like that and the kids know I have it and that is generally enough.  Only once have I had to use it while traveling.  
  6. Bring a roll of paper towels and a box of baby wipes, even if you don't have a baby.  If you don't want to do the baby wipes, then put three wet washcloths in a ziploc bag.
  7. Put a change of clothes for each kid and a clean shirt for yourself into a small, easily accessible bag.
  8. Always, ALWAYS, clean the car before you leave. :)  
Leave a comment about your favorite traveling tips!

Happy travels!
post signature

Friday, June 8, 2012

ADHD and Daughters and Moms and Mouthiness

Today I had a conversation that went something like this:
Me (on phone with my children's father otherwise known as my husband):  "Well, honey, it is only 7:49."
Daughter who recently decided she knows everything:  "Actually, it is 7:50."
Me (pointing to the microwave clock that - thank the Good Lord - clearly read 7:49): "Seriously?"

I follow my daughter's eyes down as they look at the clock on the stove - it says 7:50.  "Oh," She says.

Oh indeed.

Unfortunately, I just thought YES!!!  WOO HOO!!!  I WIN!!!  I know that doesn't speak much about my character as of late, but it is the honest truth.  I am just being real when I say that it felt like I had won the "who was right about the time" lottery.  I was happy dancing in my head.

As I was thinking about this on and off today.  She frequently tries to correct me, admonish me, show me how right she is and how wrong she thinks I am. She wants to be held in high esteem for her wealth of knowledge and wisdom and instead ends up showing off how young and foolish she is.

I want her to recognize that I am "36 freaking years old" and am not an idiot, contrary to what she seems to believe.

I know three things:

It is a power struggle of epic proportions.
It has to end.
Parenting is hard, Y'all.

I read something really, really good and wanted to share it with you.  An article written in ADDittude Magazine.  It had a list of 12 facts and suggestions for parenting a girl with ADHD.  I found several really good reminders here!  Namely, to not to take ADHD symptoms and assign them as personality traits or attribute them to rebelliousness. They go on to remind us that frequently forgetting things is not passive aggressive behavior.  I *needed* to be reminded of that.  :)  Go forth! Read the article.

I am going to avoid the battle. I am going to stop talking when I want to say everything. I am going to remind myself that if what I am doing or saying doesn't feel like love or can not be justified in love, that it is probably not. I am going to try not to be so dang mouthy!

post signature

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Place for Everything: My Week-At-A-Glance Wall

I can see it from where I sit in my comfy La-Z-Boy in the living room. My organizer. But this time it is no longer the love/hate thing it used to be in the past. See, I used to be glad to NOT see it. “It” was usually scribbled lists on scratch paper, neatly printed schedules on colorful back grounds, or something written in pencil on my date book. I do love my lists, if I can keep them handy. I often tease that I have a Type A/ADD personality. But the Type A side to me is sometimes hard to see it through the ADD chaos.

My sister-in-law knows this about me. She knows I can be a little Type A and an avid list maker. So for my 40th birthday she gave me the most wonderful gift. On the surface it looked like a collage photo frame with 9 4x6 windows. I was grateful because I do have so many photos that I never put up. But she went on to tell me that wasn’t the intention of the gift. The gift, thanks to a post she’d seen online, was to be a dry erase weekly planner! She said “Just put some pretty scrapbook paper in each frame and hang it up as a planner.” My brain started turning over ideas…

DISCLAIMER: Before reading any further, please understand that this post will make me look more organized than I am in real life. This is for informational purposes only, don't think for a moment that I have it all together!

After circling the scrapbook store 27.5 times, I found the perfect colors of paper. I wanted greens, reds, and yellows. But then a little blue also seemed nice. And maybe some brown? Yes, brown looked right! I rushed home, cut the pages to fit the 4x6 windows and put them in the order I thought looked best. Then I took the frame to my friend’s house and she cut out the days of the week and both my son’s names from white vinyl. It looked great!

I rushed home, found the perfect wall in my kitchen and promptly displayed it. I can see this planner from the kitchen, living room and dining room! I can use a simple dry erase marker on the glass pieces. On Sunday’s square I write a Bible verse that we’ll meditate on all week. Monday through Saturday I write down any events going on. (I used to write down our meal plan, too, but my niece made me a Kitchen Menu board that I write the menu on now.) This, it turns out, has brought much joy to my sons. They LOVE knowing what is happening through the week! Who knew?? But there are nine little windows, not seven. So what to do with the 2 extra spaces? Well, my two sons each have a window with their name where we can write down special “to do’s” for them! This has been another life saver; they love to wipe off things when they are finished. Looks like I may be raising list makers???

But that’s not all! This section of my kitchen has now become my Type A Haven. I have had the boys doing “ChorePacks” for quite some time. I love the concept, but they rarely wore the badges that the packs were stored in, and then they’d forget where they set them, and round and round we go. So, I put the chore cards on a metal ring and got rid of the wearable badges. But I still didn’t have a set place for them to be stored. So now I have a hook below each child’s ‘window’ on the frame, and they hang their pack on that hook. The packs I made looked very … boring. So, I borrowed my dear friend’s idea and we bought big price tags at an office store, sprayed a little brown spray paint to make them look more aged and worn, and my friend gave me vinyl cut outs of the boys’ names to put on the front of each pack. Each tag has a chore written in black sharpie. My youngest son also has a little clip art picture of the chore that I printed those off the computer. I put them on a metal ring, tied some strips of fabric to the ring for decoration, and now they look nice when they are hung up by the weekly planner. The first half of their pack holds their chores for the morning, then I glued a tab to show where afternoon chores start, and a tab to show where night chores start. Simple!

And my chores, you ask? I use the SHE method with index cards and a box. So, my box sits below the weekly planner. You may like to look up Sidetracked Home Executives to read more about this method. This helps me keep track of all my jobs, daily, weekly, monthly, annually… and anywhere in between! I used the remaining notebook paper for two final projects. First, I decorated a skinny binder. Inside the binder I have my datebook, my 28 day menu, and my 3 month food supply list. I grab this binder every 2 weeks to prepare my grocery shopping list. And when it isn’t in use, it looks pretty on the counter. And I no longer wonder where I put my date book on any given day.

And this part of the kitchen? It is the part that just makes me smile. After all, we all need to have things that make us smile in the areas that we spend so much time! But it also is my reminder to balance my priorities. Planners are great, no matter what shape they take. But in the end we all have to ‘weigh’ our priorities and decide what is most important. If this planner gets too full, chances are I’m giving up something important for a ‘to do.’ No matter what you use to help you plan, be sure to plan in some ‘white space’ as author and speaker (and homeschool mom) Heidi St. John recommends. Jot down a date night with your spouse, a board game day with the kiddos, a walk to the park, or just leave it open for whatever strikes your fancy. A schedule is not meant to take away flexibility. Don’t let your list make a slave of you. Your list IS your slave.

Hope you all have a blessed week, whatever you have planned! ~ Christa
PS~ See my 5 part series on organization starting here.

Top 25 Homeschooling Blogs at Circle of Moms

Vote for us to be included in the top 25 homeschooling blogs at Circle of Moms!

post signature
post signature

Preparing a Homeschool Portfolio by Richele

Here in the great state of Texas we are not required to submit a homeschool portfolio, but since many states are, I wanted to share this wonderfully informative article by my dear friend Richele over at Under the Golden Apple Tree.

What is a Homeschool Portfolio?

A homeschool portfolio is a window into your child's homeschool experience, achievements, and academic progress, throughout the school year.  There are more then on way to keep a portfolio but I will list the core items you will need.  However, always check your state laws, homeschool co-ops, and with the evaluator, on what materials are required. 


The Basic Supplies

  • 3 ring binder {3 inches or more thick}
  • dividers
  • page protectors
  • Sharpies
  • computer paper to print out basic forms
  • samples of your child's work
  • photos {optional}


Forms to Provide

  • Attendance Form:
  • List of Curriculum and Resources
  • Reading List
  • Daily or Weekly Routine
  • Record of Grades or Progress Report

    This is just a portion of her article. Click here to view detailed information on what she includes as well as fabulous links to printable forms. If you have a moment leave her a comment and let her know I sent you!

post signature