Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Will The School District Say?

What would you say to someone who is planning to start homeschooling but is scared of what the local school will say?  I don't know what state she is in.

 I've never done this myself.  I've only thought of putting them on that yellow bus as it rolls by in the's really just an occasional, fleeting thought.

Here was my recommendation, but I'd love to hear from others on this. 

Let me know what you think....

"I highly recommend two things for you, and I have third possible recommendation: 

  •  Go on Homeschool Legal Defense Association's (HSLDA) website and check out the homeschool laws in your state. Also, you may call them and get information on your state laws so that you are PREPARED when you talk to your local school. BTW, do you have to talk to the school? Or can you just NOT re-enroll your kids? I don't know, but HSLDA will! I recommend you join HSLDA too.
  •  Contact a local homeschool group in your area. Join one. Get on their email loop and ask others about their experience with pulling their kids out of the local school. Usually there is more than one family who has done that and can be of help. I've heard moms say it's been a breeze. I'm not sure if maybe something has happened to give you that fear, but I don't think there is anything any school can do to stop you. Just keep repeating as necessary, "I am taking my kids out of your school. I am taking my kids out of your school. I am taking my kids out of your school." They'll eventually get it.
  • Consider taking someone with you if you must meet with the school. A support person. Maybe someone from Philly like me who occasionally thrives on a good fight...ugh confrontation.

Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  (Sadly, this wasn't in my original response... better late than never.)

I've never pulled my kids out of school (they've always been at home...always.  all  day.  every day) so I don't have personal experience with taking my kids out of public school, but I've had lots of friends do this. Most have had NO issues!

Bottom line:  they are your kids and you are going to do what's best for them. 

I am going to do a post on "how to find a homeschool mentor" soon. So, please check back or follow my blog if you want.

Let me know how it goes!"  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Ten Events From This School Year

I started this blog at the beginning of the school year and frequently I think about certain days/events that I wrote about.  They may not make the most memorable events in world history...okay, they definitely won't.  But, they stand out in my mind for some reason.
This is a top ten list of the events, not necessarily my top ten blogs.  Does that make sense?  They are the most memorable things that weaved their way through the fabric of my life this past school year.  

No doubt, after I hit "publish" and send this out, I'll go...wait...maybe I should switch that one.  Here are some that didn't make the top ten, but could/should have!
 Not in any particular order, except for #1: 
my personal top ten things that keep coming to (my) mind that I blogged about this school year.....{Click on them to read the post!}

10. Started my blog 

9.  Speech class

8.   Toastmasters

7.   Adoption.

6.  We're getting exchange students again this summer!

5.  Our small group ministry

4.  My Friend's husband was killed inAfghanistan

3. Get a Homeschool Mentor 

2.   Ice Cream Social    My kids love to go to this at the beginning of the school year.

1.  Krispy Kreme Field Trip  Isn't that sad sort of?!   The highlight of the school year was about donuts?!  But, so often I think about how much fun it was to tour a donut store and decorate our own donuts that were the best I ever tasted!

It is my pleasure to invite you to follow my blog.  Click on the Follow button on the right sidebar.  I would love to continue this journey with you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Best Boy's Birthday Idea

My son turned 10 and he asked if he could go on a hike for his birthday.  That's a little tricky in Texas because it's soooo hot!  But, the kids are outside all day usually so they are used to the heat.


Then can we go out for pizza?


How easy is this?  Take a bunch of 8-12 year old boys, who I  know very well,  in our 12 passenger van to a park and then for a pizza buffet.  Too easy.  And so much fun.  Some of the boys brought "critter cages."  Look what we saw upon arrival...

The park ranger called it a Red-eyed devil katydid. Appropriate name.  It bit Jesse when he picked it up, and left teeth marks!  Bad bug. 

This is the first stick bug I've seen that wasn't in a zoo.  It was huge!

We could either drive to the trail head, or walk a short way and let the boys blow off steam.   Hmmm, decisions, decisions.

Ah, the wild flowers everywhere. 

We ended up putting our 14 year old, Josh (left), in the "point position" so he could keep the fast ones from getting past him (and potentially getting lost in the woods).  I'm adamant about bringing all the kids home to their parents after a birthday party! 

Requisite cool kids-in-the-tree picture.

Although not a birthday picture, Jesse also had his baseball team party this weekend, and here he is getting a trophy.  He pitched and played second base. 

Jesse had a great idea for a birthday party!!  

Really, this would be a good idea to do in the summer and guests can pay for their own pizza, or just bring a bag lunch. 

Do your kids like to do this type of activity with friends?   Do you?


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Documenting a School Year

My plan at the beginning of the school year was to blog for a year, documenting what homeschooling looks like for our it would encourage other homeschoolers.

Okay.  I found out how hilarious that was when, after I had been blogging for awhile, I found out that there are a "bizzilion" other homeschool blogs. 

What difference does mine make when there are so many others?  Does one blog make a difference?

  • My blog is unique because it's about my family and I love that it will hopefully remain in the blogosphere for my family's posterity. 
  •  I found out that I can get my posts printed in a book so that I can have a hard copy.  I plan to do that. 
  •  At the 2:1 Conference that I attended the mantra was, "Keep Blogging.  Everyone has something important to say, and what you say may really help someone else.  There are people who like your blog for a reason." 

I am so thankful for my followers and people who post comments.  It is a great community!  A real community with real people.

I'm pretty sure I'll continue documenting our homeschool in the years to come. 

On Tuesday I plan to post my top ten favorite topics that I blogged about.  Hmmm...what am I going to say?   I already know one thing that I'll put on there as my favorite homeschool activity this year...and it's a little embarrassing.  Come back on Tuesday.  Please.

                                   What are your favorite blogs about???


Friday, May 25, 2012

Report Cards

Do schools still give "report cards?"

When I first started homeschooling I was so excited about all the kids had done.  At the end of the year I remembered that I received a "report card" at the end of the year.  Students' grades were on them and teachers would usually comment about the the student's performance, personality, attitude, diligence, handwriting ability, standing-in-line skills.   Okay, maybe I got a little carried away there.

I didn't want to grade my kindergartener on those things.  I wanted him to know how much he accomplished that year (and how much I accomplished- remember, "It's all about me!").

It's been said the the great leader-orator Winston Churchill performed terribly in school and hated tests.  "Tests" he said, always tried to determine how much students didn't know.  He wanted someone to ask him what he did know about a subject.  That was the true test.

Likewise, I wanted my students to know what they did, learned, accomplished.  So, I started writing "Yearly Accomplishments."

What I do is list every subject they had.  Then I may give the text they used and possibly their grade for the year (this has come in handy when I needed to refer back and couldn't remember everything).  I add in some/all the books they read for that class or books I read to them.  I often ask them what their favorite book and favorite subject was that year. 

I keep it positive.

Sometimes it's tricky to put a positive spin on things, but that's my goal.  I try to end the document with something special about each child.  Something about his/her sports team or an extracurricular activity (ie: Eagle Scout award). 

I put them in a Word document and send them in an email to myself so that I (hopefully) always have a virtual copy!  I print them and put a nice card stock cover with a title on the front.

Usually we send a copy to close relatives.

Do you have an end of the school year tradition?  What do you think about this?  What do public schools do?

For some brief examples read below:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A New Season

Three of my kids are working now.

Until about 4 years ago I couldn't go anywhere without taking all of my kids along.  I had 5 kids at the time, and until Luke turned 12 if I had to go somewhere I took all of them, except for the rare time I hired a babysitter.  Babysitters who are comfortable watching 5 small kids are not plentiful.

When Luke turned 12 I let him start staying home by himself for small periods of time.  Eventually I let some of the the others stay with him.

Now he can watch all of them if I need him to and so can Josh and Caroline.  Somehow in 4 short years I have 3 babysitters who also all have part-time jobs.  Luke and Josh bag at the commissary, referee soccer games and do occasional pet sitting.  Caroline does pet sitting too.

It seems like yesterday that I packed a few toddlers, a baby and some elementary aged kids in my (large) vehicle and dragged them everywhere....commissary, medical appointments, dentist.  One time when I had 3 very young children and I was getting my haircut (a brief 30 minute appointment) the hairstylist asked how old my kids were.  When I answered, he remarked that I probably didn't have much time to relax.  I said, this is my time to relax....30 minutes at the hair salon!!

 Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--

In case you're wondering we've had a few Suburbans, mini-vans, an 8 passenger Mercedes van and now we have a 12 passenger van so we can take some of the kids' friends with us.

Now, I have to make a special effort to have them all with me!!  I love it when we can all go somewhere fun together like "Park Day"  with our homeschool group.

Josh's first day on the job "bagging" at the commissary. 

Luke (right) is training Josh to "bag".

"Mr. A."  The best boss!! 

Do you get time to yourself?  How? When? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tour of the Alamo and IMAX Alamo movie

We met other families from our homeschool group at the Rivercenter Mall IMAX in San Antonio today.   As we were walking into the theater we saw a bunch of school buses outside which turned out to be from our local public elementary school.  We waved at and high-fived a handful of kids we know.  They said that after the movie they were going to have a picnic at a park.  After the movie we went to the Alamo.  It's right across the street from the IMAX and it's free.

The Alamo...inside the walls.
 The movie/story was awesome!  Those were real, brave men.  Not real brave men...they were real men and they were brave.  I'll be taking my two older boys, who didn't go today, back to see the movie to give them a real-world look at what it means to be a man. 

Santa Anna was a coward.  He didn't care how many of his men he lost as long as he won.  

LTC Travis gave his men a choice of whether to stay and fight, which he said would end in their death, or to leave and save themselves.  Staying, he said,  would help the cause of freedom. History proved him right.  The fight at the Alamo gave time for Gen. Sam Houston to get more men and ultimately win at San Jacinto ensuring freedom for Texas.


After we toured the Alamo we ate at the  
Rainforest Cafe.  
Levi was scared of the animals when they seemed to come alive.  I told him that I wouldn't let anything happen to him.  He stayed very close to me the entire time we were in the restaurant!

We got the signature Volcano dessert!  We didn't even finish it.  I took a picture so we could copy it at home...the bottom is a brownie slice, with 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream on top.  Then there are 3 wedge shaped brownie slices leaning on the ice cream.  Somewhere in there is a whipped cream, fudge sauce and caramel sauce.

We RARELY go out to eat so this was a real treat!

Great field trip!!!

What are some of your favorite local homeschool field trips?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Places I've Lived

For some reason I keep thinking I should post this.  

Maybe it's because I'm using this blog to document our family history.  Maybe some day one, some, or all of my kids and/or grand kids will find it beast (aka cool) or whatever they'll call it in the future, to find out places where I've lived.  Or, maybe one day when I can't remember things so well I can ask someone to look at my blog and tell me where I lived.  It's part of my story.

Here goes. They are in chronological order.

  • Rockledge, PA (right outside of northeast Philadelphia)
  • Willow Grove, PA  (last two years of high school- stayed in same high school)
  • Indiana, PA- college
  • Wildwood, NJ -during a few summers in college
  • Washington, DC - during a summer as an ROTC cadet
  • Nahant, MA - for the summer after I graduated from college
  • San Antonio, TX - Officer Basic Course
  • San Fransisco, CA - first Army assignment
  • Monterey, CA - for the Army Adult Nurse Practitioner Course
  • Columbus, GA - (Ft. Benning) assigned to the 2nd MASH
  • Saudi Arabia - during Operation Desert Storm; it was a deployment, but I wanted to include it
  • San Antonio, TX - Army Officer Advanced Course
  • Shirley, MA (Ft. Devens) (While I was there I spent 9 weeks at Leavenworth, KS)
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Fort Polk, LA (Leesville)
  • Suffolk, VA (near Norfolk/Virginia Beach)
  • Olympia, WA
  • Fort Polk, LA
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • San Antonio, TX
I know, I know.  I should add the years. I could add them.  Not right now.  Maybe in the future.

Is that helpful/relevant to anybody but me?!   Does anybody else post stuff like that?  I did a little search after I wrote this and I found out that I'm not the only one who writes about this!!  Ah.  Whew.

Have we lived any places in common?

 Enter below to win a free copy of the ebook Finding Joy in Depression See my review about it here.

I linked up with Moments to Remember

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review for Finding Joy in Depression- And a Give Away

Book Review and a Giveaway:  Finding Joy in Depression by Amanda Pelser 

Depression?  On a homeschool blog?  Yes, even on a homeschool blog.  During this past year I kept wondering what people with do when they homeschool. Do they continue?


 I think it's possible.  However the homeschool parent may need to adjust schedules and expectations.  Finding Joy in Depression is certainly a book that could help figure out how to do some of that.

   Amanda is a fellow homeschooling blogger who recently wrote an ebook about depression and I really wanted to hear what she had to say, having dealt with it myself.  I read it all in one sitting.  For me, I think what stood out most was what she wrote about how others react to someone having depression.  Ouch!  Read on for examples of that.  Even if you don’t have depression, but know someone who does, this book will help you understand what’s inside that person.

Amanda wrote the book about her own experience with depression.  She defines depression, gives it symptoms, talks about using medications and how it’s ok to do that.  She shares what can help and what to do with people and circumstances that aren’t helpful.   Examples of people’s reactions when they find out someone has depression that aren’t helpful are

• You brought it on yourself.
• You aren’t trying hard enough.
• You shouldn’t need medication for it.
• You don’t trust God.
• You don’t pray enough.

Not only does does she suggest that you talk to your spouse and or close family member about the situation, but she also suggests finding a mentor.  The mentor can be a counselor or someone who has walked the same walk. 

There was no specific formula for how to find joy in depression.  No twelve steps.  It was inferred.   Joy could be found by reading what she wrote and implementing those strategies that the reader found pertinent.  The book is written in a style that is easy for a person with depression, or who knows someone with depression, to read and understand. 

What I found to be probably best described as a catharsis for me was her openness about her own experience.  Isn’t it good to hear when someone else says they experienced something that you did too- good or bad? 

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the Author in exchange for writing my opinion about the book. 

Enter in the box below for a free giveaway of this book.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

I talked all day

In my life this week...

Instead of being the one who bounds through the bowels of the vendor hall diligently seeking the perfect curriculum for my kids, I was on the other side of the table today- the vendor side.  I had those women who, like I've done, hung out at my table arduously reading, turning pages and asking questions to decide whether they  

It was exhausting and exhilaration at the same time.  There were lines of people at my table constantly.   On the way there this morning I prayed that I would be Godly.  I wasn't sure if I should pray that I would make a lot of money?!!  I think I will tomorrow  ( :   Maybe.  

It was exciting to be back in the public speaking milieu as a workshop presenter!  

Talking about homeschooling, and about curriculum that works, is something that most homeschoolers do for free no matter "what side of the table you're on." 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What are your top tips for high school?

How did I get half way through high school with my oldest child?  What I mean is, how did the time go so quickly?  Wasn't I teaching him to read yesterday

If you have graduated kids from homeschool and have some suggestions/gems/tips that you would like to pass to the rest of us who are still in the middle, or maybe for those who have kids about to enter high school in the next few years, would you give us your top tips for getting through homeschool highschool? 

I know there are a ton of books out there about this (I love Deborah Bell's The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens), but I'd love to get some of your thoughts. 
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens
(You can't actually look inside this copy.)

Just send a comment below or to my FB page which I hope to be able to access again tomorrow after the whole hacking debacle!

I look forward to hearing from you.  Do you have suggestions or things you wish you would have done differently? 

My Email Was Hacked!

The good thing about being hacked, if there is a good thing, is that you get to hear from friends who you haven't heard from in a long time.  

And, people call/email/text  because even though they don't think you were attacked by a gunman in the Philippines, but they are concerned and want to make sure it really was a hoax!

I'm sorry about any inconvenience or concern this caused you!   

If you would like to take time to leave a comment that would be great- then I'll know that you know I was hacked.  I'm trying to get the word out as quickly/easily as possible.  

Thanks for caring! 

(To comment:  If you don't have a google account you can publish as "anonymous" and then sign your name so I know it was you.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Get a Homeschool Mentor

I realized when my first child was just a baby that it's very helpful to find another mom who had a child about 6 months older than my child so I could glean from her.  Someone beyond where I was but not too far from the "trenches" that they forget.  

Find someone "real" and see what her child is doing and what she does, etc.  As a matter of fact, I STILL do that, but now I will often find a mom with a child about a year or two older than my oldest boy or my oldest girl so I can get a glimpse of what might come...adolescence, shaving, peer issues, college preparation.  

Same deal for homeschooling.  My mentors are usually people I'm friends with already.  I've found that most homeschoolers, especially "veteran" homeschoolers, are glad to give their input when you ask them questions about homeschooling.  You aren't bothering them.  Really.  They may not think they are an expert, they don't need to be.  They just need to be "real" and open and honest.

I'll tell you about two of mine 

First, a few years ago a homeschool family with nine children moved into our town.  We had some kids the same age, went to the same church, the kids played sports together.  You get the idea.  I would ask her questions about what she did for school with her kids, especially her older kids.  At that point she had two girls in college.

One particular question and answer still sticks with me.  I asked what she did for writing for them.  She said she didn't do much.  When they got to high school she sent them to a community college for a writing class.  And they did perfectly fine (my words).   As I said, they were both in college- one was on an ROTC scholarship for nursing.  I felt a weight being released, knowing that no matter what I teach for writing, it could be possible for me to send the kids to a community college course and they could be okay- wait a minute, even more than "okay!"  Yes, her girls did perfectly fine.   I play that scenario over and over in my head when I need reassurance.

Second After meeting her through the wonderful Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and emailing/calling back and forth for about a year as I agonizingly planned my high school courses, I actually met Becky at The 2:1 Conference this spring!  I had no idea she would be there.  She is a former homeschool mom working as a counselor in the high school department of HSLDA and has three grown children.  I always think of her as my consultant although she probably talks to others who contact HSLDA too.  Anyway, I think of her as my Becky and I told her that when we met.  Now, when I email her it's to "MyBecky". 

If you don't have a homeschool mentor, what it one thing you could do to find one?  Are you a mentor?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

College in High School

High school is going so fast.  Luke will be a junior next year and Josh will be a freshman.  

Luke was enrolled in CollegePrep this semester which is a slower pace semester of CollegePlus.  He is still working on taking his first CLEP test for College Algebra.  Hey, slow is ok.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  He is going to pause on his high school algebra 2 studies for a few weeks as he completes his preparation for his CLEP test.  I'm wondering if he'll need to finish the high school algebra 2 if he passes the college algebra test?  I'm waiting to hear what the CollegePrep rep recommends about that.  

Hopefully, next year Luke will CLEP a few more courses.  I'm pretty sure we'll stay with CollegePlus.  In addition to helping students earn college credits via CLEP tests, they mentor them and help them figure out what to pursue and how to pursue it in a way that best meets their individual needs. 

I think Josh will start CollegePrep next year too.  His personality is suited for reading, testing, finished, next!  He wants to get as much of his college done during high school as possible.  Why not? 

Since Luke is the oldest, I'm figuring out how all this high school and college stuff works with him.  It will make it much easier (for me) when the next ones hit high school I hope!  

And...I received my Institute for Excellence in Writing's Speech Boot Camp (SBC)  and The Elegant Essay (TEE)  curriculums this week.  I haven't looked at the SBC yet but the TEE looks awesome!  I'm going to see if I can get a few more high schoolers to join the The Essay class with Luke and Josh in the fall. 

Here's what next year is looking like for Luke (11th Grade):
Worldview:  Apologia Apologetics
Math:  Pre-Calc Teaching Textbooks
Science:  Apologia Chemistry (in a local co-op)
History:  apestry of Grace History Year 3
English:  Tapestry of GraceLiterature (online course), Writing (IEW SBC)
Foreign Language:  German 3 (Oklahoma State University)
PE:  Soccer
Fine Arts:  Choir

I'd really like to throw Latin in here too, but that might/would be pushing it (:
With CollegePlus he'll be taking CLEP tests to get some college credit too.

Wow, it feels good to get that schedule out of my head and onto paper...screen, you know what I mean.

Is anybody in the local area interested in joining us once a week for the essay class?  Oh, or maybe you could join us by Skype?  Let me know.

Birthday Boy

This is the week of three birthdays in our house.  Josh turned 14 today!  Wow, just like that my older  boys are "boy-men" now.  I'm pretty sure men don't giggle way my two oldest were doing today, so they are still boy-men (not quite men). 

Waiting for Josh to open presents.

Josh said his matching cammo hunting clothes that he got today are the most expensive clothes he owns. 

Happy Birthday, Josh!

 What do you do when you get cammo for your birthday and some time off from school?  Go shoot the bow with your brother!  And, since we're in a neighborhood of
  other extreme bow hunters, Josh was fortunate to have a wonderful neighbor let him borrow the awesome 3-D target! 

"You say 'Redneck' like it's a bad thing."

Remember, this is just a target.  No actual animals were injured during target least none on film (:

Luke and his bow hunting skills.

 We had planned to go to a local drive through safari today, but it got rained out.  I think this was actually better.  

What do other teens do on their birthday??

Monday, May 14, 2012

Walks With My Kids

For the past year or two we've been getting together in the morning for our Bible time.  A few weeks ago we started taking a walk once a week instead of the Calvary Chapel Curriculum that we use, and I love.  

Some of the kids scooter or rip-stick and others walk.  We usually take our not-so-well-trained Golden Retriever, Darby.  

Everyone loves it. 

It's almost the end of a school year and I think we sort of need to do it, I mean look at them...don't they look rambunctious?!

Right after Bible class today.

Yesterday was indeed a "happy Mother's Day."  Why?  Because the kids knew it was Mother's Day and they all had something for me. It's not that I want them to give me things, but I was so happy/thankful that they wanted to do something for me.  It truly was the thought that "counted".  I'd give my left arm or leg, or whatever, for them. 

Here is a handwritten note, a Vera Bradley bag, Godiva chocolate bag, hand made earrings and a painting that I got for Mother's Day!  All of them are my favorite things.  

I tell them that they are my Mother's Day gift and I mean it.  Thanks!  I love you!

Have you started anything new at the end of your school year this year?  Have you ever gone on walks with your kids during school?
Linked up with  Better Mom Monday.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”

Click to show "Mother Teresa" result 7

 For moms of many.... (Author Unknown)
An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard.
I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.
He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.
The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour.
This continued off and on for several weeks.
Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'
The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep..
Can I come with him tomorrow?'

One last personal story.  
One evening I called a friend of mine who also has six children.  After talking to her for more than a few minutes I asked her how it is that she hadn't been interrupted yet, and better yet, why is it so quiet on her end of the phone.  I could almost hear her smiling as she told me that she was sitting in her van reading the newpaper.  What?  Why in the van?  She said that when she came home with her kids a little while ago, she stayed in the van when they all got out.  She said eventually they would find her, but until then she had some "free time." 

  Ever done anything like the dog or my friend?!  Leave your comment here!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Small Group Ministry- Retreat this Weekend

This is my 3rd weekend away from home, staying in a hotel.  Someone is making my beds and bringing clean towels as I'm typing this....ahhhh...   The entire weekend cost less than one night at an inexpensive hotel and it includes ALL meals for ALL eight of us.  Immediately when I heard that I told Steve we should go, and then, at some point,  I asked him what the retreat was for.

Back to Small Group Ministry.  Our family is attending this weekend retreat at a beautiful conference center for Officer Christian Fellowship members/leaders. 

Here's  a blurb from the Officer Christian Fellowship about page on their website:
"OCF desires to serve those who serve their country. We have resources available to help military members and their families grow together in their relationship with God and others."
It is a unique and exciting experience to be in a roomful of military or retired military officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force....and everyone is playing nice too.   There is at least one graduate from each of the military academies.  

In the next room there are people taking great care of our kids while we learn about the OCF organization, and there was plenty of time off to swim, exercise, blog, etc., today.

Tonight I interviewed a former Air Force Special Operations C-130 pilot with my kids.  He spent 30 years in the Air Force and my kids and I got to hear some great war, and peace time, stories.  Most of them were probably true!   I took some notes, and if I can get it together I'm going to rewrite the notes and post his story.  He asked if this was part of their school.  Yes.  Do they extra time off?  No.  

He did end up giving them an assignment... should I tell you now or make you wait until I write up the interview?   I'll tell you this, he said they need to read a particular book (no it wasn't the Bible, but I'm sure he would say that one too).  I'll let you know soon.

Are there any books you think kids should read before graduating from high school?  I'd love you to leave me a comment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My First Toastmaster's Speech Today

I actually like speaking in public.  I had jobs in the Army where I got paid to speak in public and I loved it.  Steve joined Toastmasters a month or so ago.  It meets every other week for an hour at lunch time.  Normally I don't plan to do anything but school and medical appointments during the day, but out of sheer jealousy that he gets to do what he wants when he wants, kinda, I decided to go too.  After all, it's up my alley. 

So, I started going too.  I joined at my second meeting and gave my first speech today.  The Toastmasters plan begins with 10 speeches that are spelled out in the member book (you can also check out the requirements by googling Toastmasters speeches). 

The first speech is called the "Ice Breaker".  The speaker has 4-6 minutes to introduce himself/herself to the group.  Then an evaluator gives feedback in front of the entire group about the speaker's presentation.  I must say, the intention is to build the speaker up and never to tear down so there is no need to fear the evaluation.  And, one of the members gave great advice today.  He said to treat the evaluations like a duck.  Take what you find useful and let the rest roll off your back.  Bingo.  I think that's applicable to other things in life as well.

What was the most difficult part?  Not giving it, not practicing it, but writing it.  Ugh.  I've given many speeches before, but how does one decide how to introduce herself to a group in a mere 4-6 minutes?  

There is a saying that there are three kinds of speeches:  the one you planned to give, the one you gave and the one you wish you gave!

If you would like to read what I said (~very eloquently~) continue reading to see the entire speech. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spending Time with Family is Special for a Military Family


It rained in San Antonio today.  We went out to play in the puddles twice

Levi and Sophia

This past weekend was bitter-sweet.  On Friday I flew to Boston to say goodbye to my aunt.  She was married to my mother's brother who is only 14 years older than me.  The summer that I graduated from college, I lived with and worked for them.  Not only did they put up with me, but they treated me amazingly well.  It was a great summer.  

I lived near them a few years later when I was in the Army and stationed in the area, so we spent time together often.   She left my uncle and my two cousins, one is a freshman in college and one graduated from college last year and is in graduate school.  

Almost of our family was mom, aunts, uncles and cousins which was exciting since, as a large military family, we don't get to go "home" often.  I have a wonderful family and I love to visit them.  They know me and they still talk to me and ask how and what I'm doing!
My mom and her baby brothers.  We still call them "the adults." 
My cousins, still called "the kids" although two will turn 50 next year.  (Not sayin' which two.)

Driving around that area north of Boston, I was fascinated with the beauty there.  The clapboard houses (I just pointed out that particular type of house to my kids as we were studying the Revolutionary Time Period in the US), the winding roads, beaches, sailboats.  I decided it is my favorite place in the United States.  Ouch- and I've lived in San Fransisco and Monterey, CA!

A fresh "Lob-stah" Roll.
Center piece arrangement from the gathering of friends and family. 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Homeschoolers playing sports for public schools?

Depending on where you live, your homeschooled high school student may or may not be allowed by state law (or Department of Defense Guidelines) to play sports for the local public school.

Personally, it doesn't bother me if my children cannot participate in public school sports.  In Texas, where I currently homeschool, they are considered students in a private school and may not play sports on a public school team. Period.

There is a revealing article in the 2 April 2012 issue of Time magazine.  
"Tebow Law" Article in Time Magazine  

The article in the 2 April  2012 issue of Time magazine gives great insight into the realm of homeschooled students playing on public school sports teams.  Twelve states are considering legislation, nicknamed Tebow Laws, which would allow homeschooled students to play on public school sports teams.

As a military family, obviously we move around.  As an Army family specifically, we move about every 2-3 years.  In the past 12 years I've homeschooled in Virginia, Washington state, Louisiana, Germany and Texas.  In Washington state homeschooled high school students can play sports in the public school.  In Germany, at least where we lived, my son could have played baseball for the local Department of Defense School.  I didn't inquire about any other sports there.  Time magazine says that homeschooled kids "have access" to play sports in the public schools in Louisiana.  Not sure if that was possible where we lived.   I now have a high school student and, in Texas, he cannot play sports on the public school team.

What do we do?!  Can he possibly play sports in college?!  On a college scholarship?!  Can he play competitively?! 
He plays club soccer, and last year he played select baseball too (yes sports are important in our family!).  He plays on the local homeschool high school soccer team which won the Texas Christian Athletic League (a Texas private school league) State Championship last year!!

He is playing in a D1 soccer league as is his younger brother who will be in 9th grade next year. And my next oldest, my 12 yo daughter, is playing on a club soccer team too.  My 3 year old desperately wants to be on a team too, but I told him, "When Luke graduates you can play soccer."  Fortunately, 3 year olds don't have a great concept of time!

The down side of club sports?  It costs money.  A lot of money for a military family.  

But we homeschool.  That costs money.  We know we'll have expenses above and beyond the free public school system and we deal with that.  We have the choice to homeschool! Ahh.  Remember, we homeschooled in Germany (which is allowed due to the Status of Forces Agreement that the US has with Germany).  In Germany, the Germans can't legally homeschool.  I guess I'll leave that issue for a potential future blog.  It's great being an American!
Is there a potential downside to homeschooled children being allowed to play sports in the public school?  Maybe.  According to the Time magazine article when homeschooled students have access to public school sports, the government is going to ask something of you.  A potential slippery slope for our homeschool freedoms.  

R. C. Sproul, Jr. in his book, When You Rise Up, eloquently and sufficiently stated that it really doesn't matter about all that.  I'll summarize, "If God wants your child to play college sports, or pro-sports, or do whatever, He'll make it happen regardless."   After reading and believing that, I sleep well at night. 

If you homeschool and you are thinking of putting your child in a public so he/she can play sports, go to the prom, get socialized (hehe), etc., consider reading When You Rise Up by R. C. Sproul, Jr. and talking to a highschool consultant at Home School Legal Defense Association.  You'll be glad you did. 

What did you agree with in this post?  What did you disagree with?  Leave me a comment and let me know. 

"It's Monday and I'm being "Miss Elaine-ous" over at The Miss Elaine-ous Life!" 
Miss Elaineous Life

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Family Dinners

As much as possible, our family eats dinner together.  All eight of us at the table.  We have a big table.  My 3 year old loves to say the prayer and end it with a loud "Amen" while raising his arms to the ceiling with a big smile.

A few years ago I read something, can't remember what or where, that prompted me to have everyone at the table say "Three Things."  The three things are something that they did that day. Good or bad.  And they say a little about each one.  Some say more than others.  When guests come, they are included.  (It's also public speaking training but they don't know that.) 

I think my 3 yo got "three things" mixed together with the prayer, so his prayers usually go like this..."Dear God, I went to the playground, I played with so-and-so, and I took a nap.  Thank you for the food.  Amen."  Add the big arm motion.

On page 4-5 of Apologia's 2012 catalog  is a letter from the president of Apologia, Davis Carman.    Mr. Carman, the father of seven children, has a must read letter about the family.  It made me think about how important our family dinners are.  

Cooking is not something I like to do, but I've learned to cook for eight.  Of course not everyone likes everything I cook (I don't even like all of it!).  My rule is that if you don't like something that someone else cooked, you don't say anything unless they ask you for your opinion.  However, if you like it, you can certainly say so!

How much do we eat?  It depends on how much everyone likes the food and how hungry they are.  Our main dish is usually a 9x12 casserole size.  I add vegetables and maybe potatoes, pasta, rice and/or bread on the side.  I love my bread machine and use it often to add to meals.  Late in the afternoon I try to have a plate with fresh fruit and vegetables cut up so they are easy to eat so as the kids are getting hungry they much on that. 

 I encourage you to read the letter in the Apologia catalog (click on the link above).

What are your family dinner rituals?

Lost in the Prairies Link-Up