Tag Archives: homeschooling

“Holy Exhibit Hall, Batman!”

Flashback time.

Nearly every year, one or both of my parents would head off to Richmond for the annual Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) convention.  For those of you that aren’t in the know, homeschooling conventions are fantastic places to hear speakers on a plethora of topics, meet fellow homeschoolers, and to examine/obtain materials for the upcoming school year…among many other things.  I was (am) one of those weird kids who were (are) actually disappointed when summer break starts, so I would use the boxes and crates of awesome that came home with my parents to console myself and get all jazzed up about the next school year.

As I got older, my friends started graduating at the HEAV convention.  Seeing them (and hundreds of other kids) graduate helped make being a homeschooled kid seem more official, especially back when homeschooling wasn’t exactly as mainstream as it is today.  Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie…my favorite part of graduation was getting to go into the exhibit hall myself and browse among a selection of books that called to my book junkie self much like the Sirens called to lost Greek sailors.

This year, when I was brainstorming about what I wanted to do with Oldest and Toddler for the upcoming year, I remembered that HEAV has a convention option that gives you a shopping pass.  Since this was what I was most interested in…and because I didn’t think of the convention in time to do the hotel thing, I decided to go ahead and register.  The convention was this past weekend.  My hubs took Friday off and stayed home with the kiddies.  (P.S. Thanks, Baby!)  I left my house slightly after dawn cracked and made it to Richmond without getting lost more than once.  Side note…while I was lost, I think I may have accidentally run a red light which I didn’t know existed until I was already in the intersection.  Dang sun visor.  And dang roundabout intersection with no signs.  I didn’t kill anybody, and if I get a ticket, it’ll be my first one ever.  That has to count for something, right?  Anyway, this year, HEAV offered shuttle parking for the Friday of the convention, which was great.  I didn’t have to look for parking in any of the 8, 000 parking lots and garages around the convention center…I just had to grab my wheelie suitcase (to carry the awesome I expected to find) and hop (I use that term loosely these pregnant days) on a bus.  Easy peasy.

I got there and checked in about an hour before the exhibit hall opened.  This was good because I got an opportunity to look through the goodies I got at registration and kind of prioritize which vendor booths I really needed/wanted to visit.  I also found out that I would get to go to one speaker session, so I picked five sessions out of the program that looked especially interesting, and then factored in starting times/lunch/my estimated time of departure to pick the lucky winner.  (I ended up at an Answers in Genesis presentation on Creation vs. Evolution.  It was great, in case you were wondering.  So great that I bought the MP3s of the other three sessions being given by that particular speaker so I could listen to them this week.)

By this point, the exhibit hall was open, so I walked in to see what I could see before my session started.  I swear that place has quadrupled in size and content since my junior year, when I attended the convention with my dad and sister.  I’m a non-shopper.  Like, I don’t like it at all.  In fact, I prefer to visit the dentist.  Walking into the exhibit hall was something like drinking out of a fire hydrant.  I realized belatedly that my little wheelie suitcase was probably not going to be large enough to contain the awesome, but as my daddy always said, “Life’s tough…get a helmet.”  I ended up purchasing a variety of awesome from the following publishers/vendors:

At this point, my wheelie suitcase weighed about 75 pounds, so I was reduced to metaphorically drooling on a lot more awesome from several other vendors, including:

My hubs and I are hoping to be able to go to the whole convention together next year.  I really want to be able to attend more sessions, and to be able to browse the awesome a little more at leisure.


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Non-Resolutions for 2014

My mom used to repeatedly remind me that “Patience is a virtue,” to which I would repeatedly reply that “Impatience is a virtue, too.”  I didn’t mean to be disrespectful, although upon reflection, I can see that it might have sounded that way.  It just seemed (still seems) to me that if everyone was patient and waited for things to happen all the time, than nothing will ever happen.  For example, as a sailor, I could wait for the deck to strip and wax itself, but since the likelihood of that happening is slim to none and the lack of completion posed a very serious risk to my liberty (and the rest of my division’s liberty as well), it behooved me to take action and “git ‘r’ done,” so to speak.

In 2013, I decided to set goals rather than to make resolutions.  I know.  Semantics, right?  I think that the reason that goals resonate with me whereas resolutions do not is that action is at the heart of a goal.  Resolutions sound great, but more often than not, they are just words that sound great. Goals have quantifiable outcomes, which makes it much easier to determine whether they have been met (or not).  It worked, though.  I definitely had more success than failure this last year.  Bearing that in mind, here are my primary goals for 2014:

  1. Get an A in my ART 351 (Digital Imaging) class.  I am actually looking forward to this class for a number of reasons.  The first is that, obviously, it is a digital art class.  Totally awesome.  The second is that this class is my last undergraduate class.  Ever.  That I am able to say that makes me nearly weep with happiness.  It has been nearly 14 years since I started working on my bachelor’s degree.  As a goal-oriented person, the fact that it has taken so dang long to finish has been like pouring lemon juice in a paper cut.  However, I’m almost done!
  2. Graduate Magna Cum Laude on 10 May 2014.  If I get the A mentioned above, I will finish with a GPA of 3.84…exactly 1/100th of a point away from Summa Cum Laude, which I am trying to not let bother me too much.  (Curse that B in my sophomore theology class…)  Oh, well.  Magna’s not too shabby, right, especially considering that I got my degree spanning across an overseas tour, three sea tours (two mine, one his), two full-time jobs, two pregnancies?  Please say that you agree with me.  (Obviously, this little Magna/Summa thing is still bothering me.  I’m working on it.)
  3. Date my husband more often.  As I mentioned in my last post, last year we got to have 2 out-of-house dates, which was 2 more than we got to have in 2012.  However, I read something (maybe in my Babywise book?) that said that one of the most important things parents can do for their children is to show them how much they love each other and to make sure that the romantic side of marriage isn’t neglected.  Since I’m all about quantifiable goals, I’m shooting for 6 out-of-house dates.  That’s one every 2 months.
  4. Find a good (and relatively inexpensive) babysitter.  Otherwise, item 3 ain’t happening…at least, not out of the house.
  5. Read the Bible in a year.  I’ve done this in the past (most notably reading it through during one summer while I was in high school), but it’s been awhile since I’ve done it from cover to cover.  I’m going to use a plan like this one to keep me on track.
  6. I’m back to where I was before I had both babies, which is good.  However, both of these pregnancies have been super hard on my body.  We definitely want more babies, but I need to give myself some TLC to give myself the best fighting chance of having a normal pregnancy next time.  My body will never be the same again…and that’s okay.  I run around like a crazy woman all day, but my energy-burning isn’t, shall we say, targeted.  So, my goal is to put a minimum of 3 workout sessions a week back into my routine.  Oh.  And drink more water.
  7. Recondition my hands.  My dear piano teacher reminds me periodically that pianists are like athletes, and need to train and build dexterity.  My hands are a little out of shape, so my goal is to work a minimum of 30 minutes of piano a day back into my routine.  I’m hoping to have at 5 pieces remastered/mastered by the end of the year. (Bach, Chopin and Ravel are all on my list.)
  8. Earlier last year I discovered the Fly Lady.  She makes it pretty much the easiest thing in the world to build a routine that gets your life organized.  My chaos is pretty organized, but it could be much better.  I started the Baby Steps and was doing pretty well, but something threw off my groove.  So, I’m restarting on Monday.  Hello, Shiny Sink!
  9. Maintain academic excellence in our little home school and have fun doing it. *
  10. More of the good stuff. Painting/drawing, crafting, reading, family game nights, kitchen science, writing, homemade Christmas presents…you get the idea. *

This is where it gets a little dicey.  I applied to graduate school on a whim and got accepted, which is awesome.  I still haven’t completely decided if I want to do the program to which I was accepted (Masters of Education in History) and know I will use or the one I am absolutely drooling over (Masters of Public Policy in Campaigns and Elections) that I will not immediately use.  My G. I. Bill benefits will cover about half of my graduate degree, but I need to figure out where the rest of the money is going to come from before I go ahead and jump into anything.  With that in mind, I applied for an art scholarship that would cover the rest of the money I need ($10K), but I won’t find out about what’s happening with that until the middle of March.  I’m planning on applying for other scholarships as well, but I had kind of been thinking about taking a break from school for at least the next year, so I wasn’t going to really stress about it as of yet.  I mentioned the 14 years for my bachelor’s, right?  Plus, my husband wants to start working on his bachelor’s when I finish with mine.  (We do the tag-team thing.)  However, my academic advisor said (afterwards, since I was awesome and didn’t think to ask before I applied) that if I win the scholarship, I have to start taking classes, or they’ll send the money back.  I have very mixed feelings about what I hope will happen here.  In any case, it’s an opportunity to trust God, so that’s where I’m leaving it.  Without further ado, here are my secondary goals, which are contingent on whether I win the scholarship.

  1. Either…Take 3 graduate classes (1 in the summer term, 1 in each of the fall subterms) and earn A’s in each class.
  2. Or…Participate in and finish the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge of completing a 50, 000 word novel in the month of November.  I have tried every year for the last 4 years, and since I have been taking classes simultaneously, have not been able to finish.  I have a story in my head that I want to get out of my head and onto metaphorical paper, but it hasn’t happened because I need sleep.

And, there you have it, Sports Fans!  That’s my Plan of the Year…because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

* You will see these goals every year, more likely than not.  Just sayin’.

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2013: The Completed Checklist

Back on 02 January, I shared my checklist of things I wanted to accomplish in 2013.  Seeing as this year is rapidly drawing to a close, it is time for me to let y’all know how that all went.

  1. Have my baby.  Check!  New Baby arrived on 27 March 2013 after induction and 32 hours of labor.  He weighed in at 8 pounds 14 ounces and was 21 inches long.  I ended up having an epidural right at the end.  It had been 29 hours and I couldn’t catch my breath.  I might just lead with that from now on.  It was awesome.  Anyway, New Baby has grown tremendously in the last nine months and got his first tooth from Santa for Christmas.
  2. Get back to pre-baby weight.  Check!  I am down to where I was before I was pregnant with Toddler. 
  3. Start doing pregnancy yoga again.  That was kinda hit or miss.  What can I say?  I’m a work in progress.
  4. Date my husband more often.  We got to go on exactly 2 out-of-house dates this year.  However, that was more than we got last year, so I’m thankful.  We did get to spend a lot of quality time together, which is awesome.
  5. Drink more water.  I’m doing better.  Still have room for improvement.  Still don’t like water. 
  6. Plant a garden!  Maybe in 2014…
  7. Reorganize my kitchen.  Yes and no.  I reorganized the dish and canned goods cabinets and replaced my pots and pans and Rubbermaid containers.  I also got 2 new chef’s knives for Christmas from my in-laws.  They’re awesome, but I have to confess that I’m a little afraid of them still.  I still have to go through my spice and medicine cabinets.
  8. Get an A in my BMIS 330 class.  I got an A!  I also got A’s in 4 other classes and changed my major.
  9. Maintain academic excellence in our little home school and have fun doing it.  Check!
  10. More of the good stuff.  Music, painting/drawing, reading, family game nights, kitchen science, writing, homemade Christmas presents…you get the idea.  I started teaching piano again this year, so that’s more music.  I painted 4 canvases as well as the ceramic ornaments for all of my kiddies’ grandparents.  I read a lot of textbooks.  We did have several family game nights, which were a blast!  Kitchen science…does creating a few new recipes count?  I wrote a metric butt-ton of papers.  And did make a few of the Christmas presents this year.  So I guess…check!

Stay tuned for a recap of the high points of 2013 and the list of non-resolutions for 2014!

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To Recap…

I really could have sworn that I had posted since Monday.  However, the dashboard does not lie.  All of that writing I did this week was apparently for class, not for this blog.  At least I know I posted it to the correct website…I’m pretty sure you would not be interested in the responses I had to write for my discussion board.

This week has been a roller coaster ride of epic proportions in the blood sugar department.  I had four days of awesome, followed by four days of “what the heck?!!” which was then followed by a “Go directly to Insulin.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.00” card from my doctor on Thursday.  I may have mentioned this before, but when it comes to needles, I’m a big sissy.  Possibly the only thing that paralyzes me more than needles is spiders.  Seriously, I still can’t watch Shelob try to eat Frodo.  I have to cover my eyes and ears during that part.  She moves and hisses just like the tarantula that moved into my apartment when I was stationed in Puerto Rico.  Enough with the arachnophobia.  Moving along…I know I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but my husband is awesome.  He gives me my shots at night so I don’t have to give them to myself.

We had our first field trip of 2013 yesterday!  It was Homeschool Day at the aquarium.  My husband had the day off, so he got to go with us, which doesn’t happen very often.  The boys and I were pretty dang excited about his presence.  Daddy is oodles of fun, plus he can keep up with them much easier than Momma can at this point in the game.  She waddles like a penguin with arthritis.  For me, the highlight of the day was seeing both of my boys petting the stingrays.  Oldest managed to drown his shirtsleeve, but he had an absolute blast seeing how many he could attract.  Baby seemed to think that they were very large and strange bath toys and was perfectly happy splashing away.  I got to pet them, too…it’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that and I forgot how soft they are.  Like buttered velvet.  On the drive home, I was especially happy that my husband was with us (and driving) because we found ourselves smack in the middle of a snowstorm.  I hate driving in snow around here because it completely messes with the already dysfunctional drivers populating this area.  Thankfully, we got home without anything worse than over two hours of traffic.  The best part of being home?  Ready access to a potty.  Being pregnant is…painful…sometimes.  That’s all I’m gonna say.

To close out this week’s awesomeness, I got a surprise in the mail today. Because of my “academic achievements” and for being “such an excellent student,” I was awarded…a royal blue velvet bag containing a silver thumb drive emblazoned with my school’s logo. This is possibly the most practical and yet nerd-tastic award I have ever received.  It was also as close to “A Christmas Story” moment as I have ever had.  No, it was not a risqué  leg lamp, but it made me giggle. A lot.  It also made me feel pretty good at the same time.

Plus, I can always use another thumb drive.

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I Hereby Resolve…

…To not make any resolutions.  Per se.  However, there are several things on my “to do” list this year (ain’t there always?) that I am enlisting you, Dear Reader, to give me accountability on getting finished by New Year’s Eve 2013.

  1. Have my baby.  Happily, this isn’t anything that I can avoid, so I’m putting it first on this list.  He’s coming out, whether I’m ready or not.  However, my goal is to have him naturally…sans pain medication…just like I did with his brother.  Now that I’ve written that, I get accountability.  See how this works?
  2. Get back to pre-baby weight.  New Baby and I have thus far kept everything under control.  Here’s to keeping it that way for the home stretch.
  3. In keeping with the theme of number 2, start doing pregnancy yoga again.  I’m feeling creaky.
  4. Date my husband more often.  Sometimes I seem to lose sight of him amidst the laundry, grading schoolwork and dirty diapers.  As he is the most awesome husband in the world, this is completely unsat.  Yes, I used a Navy term.  Deal with it.  By the way, he just painted my toenails for me since I am having a really hard time reaching my toes these days.  They’re so pretty and festive!  He rocks!
  5. Drink more water.  I try…I really do.  But water is so…meh.  This is where I should probably make a note to self to buy lemons the next time I go to the grocery store.
  6. Plant a garden!  It’s a win-win…sunshine for me, the babies and Oldest…plus, we get fresh veggies.  In theory.  Of course, I’m not trying to feed the legions of squirrels and rabbits in my yard/neighborhood, so I need to figure out a way to critter-proof this hypothetical garden before making it a reality.  The local wildlife do not seem to fear my dogs.  My beagle, however, is utterly terrified of said wildlife.  To be honest, I’m not entirely certain he knows what’s out there.  There seems to be a huge gap between his brain and his smeller.
  7. Reorganize my kitchen.  I’m spending a lot more time there than I have previously…well, ever in my life, unless we’re counting the years of washing dishes by hand as a kid.  Therefore, what was heretofore acceptable for occasional bits of culinary awesomeness is no longer okay.  Neither is that pan that scorches anything within a two-mile radius.
  8. Get an A in my BMIS 330 class.  Oh, yeah.  I should probably finish the class before New Baby arrives.  It’s supposed to end three weeks before my due date.  What was I thinking?!!  Maybe I’ll even get to take another class during the fall semester.  So, get an A in whatever class that ends up being.
  9. Maintain academic excellence in our little home school and have fun doing it.
  10. More of the good stuff.  Music, painting/drawing, reading, family game nights, kitchen science, writing, homemade Christmas presents…you get the idea.

Thanks in advance for your time and assistance!  Hopefully when we do the outbrief at the end of this year, I’ll have ten line items marked as complete.  I’ll keep you posted throughout the year!


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Goodbye, 2012

What an interesting year it has been.

2012 seemed like it would be fairly “normal.”  You know…work, school, work, diapers, work, laundry, work…I saw all of those on the horizon for this past year.  What I didn’t see coming was the switch from being a working mom to a homeschool mom…or the possibility of loving said switch.  I didn’t see the collapse of a soggy dining room ceiling, a tornado stealing our shed and then dropping it on the neighbor’s car, or the dog eating the living room carpet to soothe an upset tummy coming, either.  Apparently, Professor Trelawney I am not.  (Wait…)

Continuing to highlight some of the more memorable moments of this past year:

  1. I started this blog…and then put it on hold around Oldest and I started summer break so I could attempt to write The Great American Novel of 2012.  Instead, I conducted The Great Purge of His Bedroom while he was off visiting relatives in various places. Maybe in 2013…
  2. We got our annual mandatory academic progress test results back…Dude passed with flying colors.  All paperwork was filed and curriculum purchased so we could continue to homeschool during the 2012-2013 school year as well.  In case you were wondering, fourth grade rocks!  I’ve gotten to teach basic electronic theory during science this term.  *flexes techie muscles*    We have had a few awesome field trips and done some pretty fantastic projects that will (hopefully) be covered in more detail during later posts.
  3. Baby has twelve teeth, a fifteen-ish word vocabulary, and can walk like a champ.  We discovered on Halloween that he was apparently born knowing how to use a light saber.  (He made the cutest Yoda I’ve ever seen…I’m telling you.)  He absolutely loves books, cars (said with a Bostonian accent), trucks, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,  and our dog-dogs.
  4. He is also going to be a big brother in about three-ish months!  We found out that New Baby was on the way on my birthday, which was about the best present ever.  (I’d been wondering what all the nosebleeds were about…apparently, that’s how my body reacts to being pregnant.  Fabulous.)  Yet to be discovered is whether or not gestational diabetes and bed rest are on my horizon this time around.
  5. Thankfully, the whole second trimester energy spike thing happened right around the holiday season, so I was able to make and bake a whole lot of stuff that will also (hopefully) be covered in more detail during later posts.
  6. Item 5 was brought to you and all actual beneficiaries in part by the discovery of Pinterest.
  7. The disasters mentioned in Paragraph 2, plus a few others.  It’s okay.  We survived.
  8. Hubby presented me with a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, and it has changed my culinary life this past week.  I still can’t decide whether to call it The Beast or Bonnie.  It’s a toss-up.  I’ll keep you posted.  So far, we’ve made four batches of cookies (gingerbread men, spritz, vanilla-mint candy canes, and cinnamon roll sugar cookies), icing, my grandma’s legendary Anadama bread, and mashed potatoes.  As a side note, this year was my second making Christmas dinner all by myself, and I didn’t set anything on fire!  All of that Food Network viewing is so paying off!  My in-laws further expanded my culinary horizon with their gift of the ice cream maker attachment.  Holy frostbite.  That thing is awesome!  I made honey-vanilla ice cream the day after Christmas and grape sherbet (chalk it up to weird pregnancy cravings) this weekend.  There is but one thing to say about how they turned out.  Dude.  Okay, moving on.
  9. I can now say that I’ve given hermit crabs a bath.  Considering how much they resemble spiders and my arachnophobia, this is quite a feat.
  10. Much amazing time with family and friends, including a two-week visit with my baby brother this summer, surprise visit from my Bestie while we were Up North for Thanksgiving with my grandmothers, parents, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins (oh, my!) and another surprise visit from my sister and her husband the weekend before Christmas.  Hopefully, this new year will contain much more of this line item.  Also, please note that the board game called Frazzle! is pretty awesome and adds a lot to family gatherings.  It comes with a gavel.  ‘Nuff said.

I could go on and on, but I shall restrain myself.  Suffice it to say that I have learned so much this past year, and while moments of it were more painful than others, God has been incredibly good to me and my family and I am so grateful to Him for everyone and everything He brought our way.  Looking back on this year, this verse keeps coming to mind.

When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.

Ecclesiastes 7:14, New International version

No amount of crystal ball gazing or reading the tea leaves would have prepared me for the roller coaster of this past year.  (What say you, Professor?  Besides that I’m in grave danger.  I live with gravity every day.  You don’t have to tell me that.)  This year, more profoundly than other years, has shown me exactly how much I have learned (and have yet to learn) about trusting that God can handle things much better than I ever could.  One just has to sit back and enjoy the ride…even if it comes standard with wet drywall and doggie indigestion.

Happy New Year!

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An Unplanned Sabbatical

I’m back.  Ish.  Not that I ever planned to be gone exactly.  I even had a new post open…planned…titled…mostly unwritten.  However, as so often does, life happened.  A lot.  And apparently, May is mostly gone before I really knew that it had started.

This is exciting because that means that this first (albeit partial) year of homeschooling is nearly done!  My oldest has had a lot of adjustments to make this year…two public schools and then switching to homeschooling, plus getting used to having a new baby brother in the house after being an only child for so many years.  He has done amazingly well and I can’t be more proud of what he has achieved this year.  We’re both excited about starting the next grade together.  (Yay!)  This week, we learned the layers of the earth (hello, bedrock, subsoil and topsoil) using chocolate pudding and Oreo cookies.  Have I mentioned how awesome it is to be a homeschooler again?  We also completed our required end-of-year competency and progress testing and are impatiently awaiting the results.

It is also terrifying because that means that Camp NaNoWriMo is open on Friday, which means that my first summer attempt to write a Great American Novel is nearly upon me.  (Eek!)  Happily, I’ve actually got a pretty good idea of how my story is supposed to go.  (Yay!)  Even more happily, I’m going to “camp” with my bestie and we get to share a virtual cabin.  (Double yay!)  Did I mention that the goal is to write 50, 000 words in 30 days?    Bring it on…

In other news, my baby has his first tooth, can laugh like Donald Duck and is a huge fan of oatmeal with bananas.  Also, as mentioned in a previous post, if you want your bagels to turn out really well, eggs need to be an ingredient.  After 5 consistently awesome batches, I’m convinced.  But, more on that…and more…later.

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