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Art Attack

One of the subjects that I don’t really cover in our homeschooling journey, is art.  Even though I actually supported myself as an artist (air quotes) in Los Angeles (I painted walls and furniture), I cannot draw to save my life.  I never progressed much past Kindergarten.


Thankfully my children inherited their artistic flair from their father, who is a talented artist.  We’ve come to realize, however, that our 9 year may be some sort of phenom in the world of art.

Fiddledaddy filmed the following over Jensen’s shoulder last night.  Keep in mind that the film was sped up only slightly.  It took him about 5 minutes to draw the following picture.  He did not have any photograph in front of him.  This was totally from his fertile imagination.

Perhaps we’ve let him watch one too many dinosaur shows.  The images may be permanently burned into his retinas.

I have tried to correct the way he holds his pencil.  Really, I have.  At this point I think I’m just going to give up because I think he could give me a lesson or three.

He did not add the usual crime scene gore.  For that you can be grateful.

My entrepreneurial spirit tells me that somehow, I can make money off this kid.  Which will totally go to pay for the future therapy his sisters will undoubtedly need after the exposure to All The Dinosaur Violence.


Show and Tell

Our school year has mercifully come to a conclusion.  And no one died.  Important to note.  I officially am the homeschooling mother to a high school student, a junior high student, and a reluctant 4th grader.  Frankly, after completing 9 long years of homeschooling, I’m still shocked that all 3 of them can form full sentences.  And read.  To my detriment.  Because since they can actually, you know, READ what I over share about them, I’ve had to scale way back on posting the daily minutia.

Of course we must still continue on with math, until they each finish their respective levels, because I’m the meanest mom ever to live.  So I really look forward to that aspect of a carefree summer.  Daily I have to remind my son that contrary to his deeply held beliefs, Math will not kill him.  And today I watched my 12 year old carefully count out change to purchase her own nail polish.  SEE?  YOU DO NEED MATH.

I made the annual pilgrimage to the homeschool convention with my SIL, Trish, last week.  We arrived on Thursday, and the hotel staff had to pry us out of our room on Sunday morning.  Those nearly 4 days were truly a gift of renewal, relaxation, much laughter, and many seminars aimed at preparing us to homeschool high school.  Or as we like to call it,  THE END IS IN SIGHT!  Our heads are filled with thoughts of PSAT and SAT preparation, the perfect Transcript, and scholarship procurement.  It was eye opening.

I ain’t skeert.

It is impossible for me to believe that when I began this blog in 2006, I homeschooled a 2nd grader, a kindergartner, all while wrangling a toddler.  It was kind of like juggling.  But without the coordination.

Our upcoming school year is all planned out and I will be over sharing what we’re doing soon.

But I will close now with a brief glimpse into my son’s end of the year love of All Things Animal Science.


The sign is posted in our neighborhood.  Pity the alligator.  This is simply an open invitation for this particular 9 year old.




Accepting Donations for the Therapy Fund

It’s no secret that we’ve been homeschooling for 9 long years.  That’s a lot of hours with my 3 high strung children, if you’re doing the math.  This year I thought I’d try something a bit different.  One day a week, while I have Emme off taking classes at a wonderful local co-op (covering all the courses that I’m reluctant to attempt, like SCIENCE, and DISSECTING STUFF), I also have Cailey and Jensen enrolled in a program that allows them to attend a very very small private school for that same one day a week.  They bring the curriculum that I have them doing at home, and are able to get help if needed, as well as participate in some group projects.

My rationale is that now I should no longer be drowning in paperwork, as we run basically two of my husband’s businesses.  {{{Psst, still drowning in paperwork, but at least I’m doing it quietly one day a week.}}}

Anyhoo.  When the kids get home from their schooling that day, I re-check their work and log it into my homeschooling journal.  While perusing Jensen’s PACE work (Accelerated Christian Education), I discovered this:


His Supervisor for today was the sweet lady who runs this small private school.  This is the same bedraggled teacher who must endure Jensen’s thirst for violence in the form of extra dinosaur drawings devouring their prey on nearly each page he completes.  As you might imagine, the child goes through red markers at an alarming rate.

What the heck.  Except for the excessive capitalization, I think his handwriting and grammar are fantastic.

It’s the little victories.


Teacher of the Year

I hail from a family of educators.  My step-sister is a special education teacher, and her husband teaches as well.  Fiddledaddy comes from a family of 6 siblings.  Four currently homeschool, one used to homeschool, and the oldest brother is a much loved history teacher in a local public high school.  (His wife was also a private school teacher for many years.)

I would like to focus on the history teacher today.  Recently, a classroom photo of him went viral.  The original article sited something like, “Teachers Caught Being Awesome.”  And indeed, any student of his that you might come across, past or present, would tell you that Mr. H. is awesome.


As he tells it, he donned pretty sparkly pink Minnie Mouse Ears and veil with coordinating gloves to celebrate a particular class after they took a test and overwhelmingly exceeded other classes by an average of 15 points.  To say that he inspires his students is an understatement.  Even when not dressed as a pretty princess.  He delights in both his job and the successes of his students.

Blessed are those educators who devote their lives and careers to uplifting and inspiring our youth.

When I told him that he was going to be the star of my next post, he suggested the following title for the piece:  “Why we homeschool.”

We’re proud to have him in our family.  Just don’t tell him that.


Evidently insanity isn’t the only benefit of homeschooling!

I reluctantly agreed to homeschool my children when they were younger because I was, well, younger, and could still recall my own private/public school experiences.  Junior high was a particularly troublesome time for me, due to my environment and my ability to naturally gravitate toward trouble.  With a capitol T.  I realized early after giving birth to my own children that they shared my gene pool.

So I homeschool them.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tonight I drove Cailey to a birthday party for a dear friend of hers who was also turning 12.  We were too far from home to return before the party ended, so I promised Emme some mom/daughter shopping time at the mall.  She was very excited at the prospect.  I thought back a hundred or so years ago to my own 14 year old self, and a mom/daughter shopping trip would have been the LAST thing on my wish list.  The age of 12 was about the time that my relationship with my mother disintegrated and she found herself living with an alien.  And unpleasant alien.  The relationship continued to crumble throughout my turbulent teen years and on into adulthood.  It wasn’t until I gave birth that I fully realized the extent of the hurt caused by my pulling away.  But since my mother had died just after I learned I was pregnant with Emme, I was never able to really reconcile and fully apologize for the hurtfulness and the folly of that lost teenaged girl.

A benefit of homeschooling is the constant contact I have with my children.  I almost choke on those words, because it’s even when I’m seriously considering BOARDING SCHOOL IN A REALLY HARSH CLIMATE, I do see the rewards of being so intertwined (particularly) in my daughter’s life.  Not that that can’t happen if your kids are in school, I just know the types of people and situations that I was involved with in my own life.  I made some horrible decisions.  My parents had no idea.

Let me make this really clear.  Homeschooling is not for everyone.  Such a personal decision.  AND IT’S REALLY REALLY HARD.

I hope I’m crystal clear about that.

Anyhoo.  Tonight I sat in the van chatting with my 14 year old daughter.  We stopped at Starbucks for Tall sustenance (this was her first Frappaccino NOT SHARED).  Then we perused the food court and the mall.  For an hour and a half I chatted and laughed with my girl as we window shopped.  I often marvel about how open she is with me about her thoughts, feelings, and insecurities.  And this kid is really really funny.  I got a glimpse tonight into the type of adult she will be and the kind of relationship we will likely enjoy.

I thought to myself, WHAT A GIFT.  I’ve watched her mature so much in the last year or so.  Not that we won’t have issues in the future, or that she won’t punch her brother in the throat when she’s had a belly full.   But I believe that Fiddledaddy and I have forged a solid foundation with this teenaged young woman.  And for that I’m so grateful.

I write this moment down so that I can hold it close to my heart the next time we go head to head over math or when ALL THE HORMONES ARE FIRING.  I can re-read about this tender time the next time I’m in my closet and hear my son report to his father, “DAD, MOM’S BEEN IN THE CLOSET FOR A REALLY REALLY LONG TIME!”

It’s the little things that we cling to.


Boy vs. Wild

A few years ago I declared our small local zoo dead to me when they posted a misleading discount on Groupons, and then refused to honor it.  After all, our postage sized backyard boasts of all manner of wildlife.  And that’s basically free.  Except when you consider the premium we had to pay to back up to the nature preserve (again, code for scary overgrowth).

Anyhoo, I put my differences aside when they our zoo recently announced $2.00 admission on Tuesdays throughout the month of September.  Since we’re studying birds in the elementary Science portion of our homeschool, I thought we’d call it a Field Trip.  We were accompanied by my SIL and homeschooling partner in crime, Trish, and her boys.

There are some special exhibits that we don’t ordinarily see in Florida wildlife, such as giraffes, a Rhino, and a singular Kangaroo.  But mostly our zoo contains those species that we’re able to study up close and personal on the roadside, that is, unless the vultures beat us to it.

However, there is one air conditioned building that is a particular favorite.   The Reptile House is home to Jensen’s most favorite zoo creatures.  At one point Jensen squealed with delight as the zoo keeper wrapped a Python around him.  When I regained consciousness it was too late to snap a photo as the snake had already been placed back into his glass enclosure.

But as we wandered through the petting zoo portion of the park, Jensen made fast friends with this:


Jensen knew immediately that this was a Black Throated Monitor.  I’m pretty sure Black Throated Monitor is going to appear on his I Wish I Wish list at Christmas time.  I sent the picture to his father, who replied, “WHERE ARE HIS GLOVES? WHERE ARE HIS GLOVES?”

(He’s not suppose to touch reptiles without them.  He had them earlier.  Pinky swear.  I think a Llama ate them…)

The day was a success in that I only lost two of my three children.  At separate times.  And I may have been overheard asking, “The zoo doesn’t serve alcohol, does it?”

Not to worry, I made good use of the Suggestion Box at the exit.

And it should be noted that I left with the same number of children with which I entered.  That makes for the best kind of field trip.


The Hunger Games

Our local homeschool archery club started up again last Friday.  My girls dearly love the feeling of a taut bow and arrow at the ready.  They’ve never even seen The Hunger Games.  But weaponry is always fun.

I generally come prepared wearing particularly brightly colored comfy wear.  So I am not mistaken for a bale of hay.  Or a moving target.

Jensen comes prepared to catch reptilian wildlife amongst the trees and shrubbery, with his gloved hands (he’s still not supposed to touch the lizard-life with bare hands because of his eczema and likely staph infections because of open wounds AND ALL THE NASTINESS THAT LIZARDS CARRY, per his doctor’s instructions).  A friend asked me why Jensen wasn’t learning to shoot an arrow.  I looked at her, “Have you MET my son?”

I fear that Jensen could set the sport of archery back a couple of hundred years.  And greatly reduce the homeschooling population in one fell swoop.  Nay.  It’s better that the local lizard populace suffer the consequences of coming face to glove with Jensen.

There was one near human fatality when at the beginning of the practice as everyone (parents, archers, and siblings) was receiving clear instruction from Mr. Ron (an older gentleman who takes no nonsense from the children).  Mr. Ron, noticing Jensen’s plastic coral snake that accompanies him on all lizard adventures, made note for the children to stay out from behind the bushes lest they get hit by a stray arrow or bitten by a snake.  He went on to name a few species of snakes that he’s personally witnessed on the premises.  At the mention of one type (I cannot remember which one because I was starting to hyperventilate at the thought), Jensen piped up and added loudly, “NO, THAT TYPE OF SNAKE IS NOT INDIGENOUS TO FLORIDA.”

I stopped hyperventilating long enough to begin a fervent prayer that the earth open up and swallow me whole.  Mr. Ron is void of a sense of humor when it comes to know-it-all 8 year olds.  As am I.  Brain matter was everywhere as my head exploded and I drug my son off into the snake infested forest to have a VERY stern Come to Jesus meeting regarding the public correcting of adults.

Everyone then scurried off to their various targets and readied themselves with weaponry.  I settled into my nice comfortable camping chair and began catching up with dear homeschooling friends that I’ve missed over the summer.  After a while Jensen had amassed a following of pre-schoolers who were too young to shoot arrows.  But not too young to do a Lizard Hunter’s bidding.  He had several lizards trapped in his net lizard cage, and was sitting at a picnic table with his gaggle of new friends, holding court.    Nearby on the bench was one nervous breast feeding mother (kin to several of the pre-schoolers in question…I think she had at least 7 children…you would think that nothing would faze her).  I suspect she was leery of the loud 8 year old boy that was corrupting her offspring with his pied piper ways.

I was mid-sentence while having a conversation with several other moms when I distinctly heard my son’s voice, “Oh look, this is a male and this one is a female and they are getting ready to…”

At that exact moment I yelled, “JENSEN!” trying to stop him mid-thought as I flew over my camping chair and once again drug him off into the forrest.

Wherein another Come to Jesus meeting took place.

My friends were impressed that I could not only carry on a conversation with them, but that I was also tuned into my son’s actions and words 15 feet behind me AND that I could leap over a camping chair in a single bound.  It’s a honed skill that I’ve had ample opportunity to perfect over the last 8 years.

I would say that our first Archery Lesson of the season was a learning success.  Not only was P.E. covered (for me as well, as my heart rate never did return to normal) but science and health were also front and center as the mating habits of lizards no doubt was the back seat topic in many a mini-van that afternoon.

A blanket YOUR WELCOME I extend to all of my fellow archery homeschooling parents.

All I could think of on the way home was Steve Martin’s comedy bit where he wears a fake arrow through the head.  I have GOT to get one of those before our next Archery meeting.


Tales from the Chauffeur

We’re in our 3rd week of home school.  Today I registered all 3 of them for boarding school.  In a harsh climate.

Just kidding.  {{{I couldn’t find anyone to take them.}}}

Besides all the fun of academia, we’re in full activity mode.  Which means I have to keep a precise calendar so that I know who has to be where and when.  To add chaos to the confusion, sometimes my friends and I trade children and cart them to and fro.  I’ve actually panicked when I’ve looked in my rear view mirror and thought I’d left a kid somewhere they’re not suppose to be.  This is especially problematic if the kid in question doesn’t actually belong to me.  It’s just not good enough to be satisfied with bringing home the same number of children that you left with.  That would be too easy.

Generally my children are on their best behavior when we have a guest in the extra seat.  What this means is that I don’t have to reach back and swat anyone.  I was pouring my heart out to a dear friend who only has one child, trying to explain to her what it was like when all 3 of them begin bickering while I’m focused on keeping the van on the road and both hands in the 10 and 2 o’clock position.

She relayed a story about a friend of hers who would keep a bag of cheap paperback books next to her, and if her sons (she had 3, I believe) began misbehaving she would chuck books back at them.

I thought that a tad harsh as I imagined the possible loss of vision.  YOU COULD LOSE AN EYE THAT WAY, I heard my own mother’s voice as I listened to the story.  And then I thought, oh no, that would be just giving them more ammunition to lob back at me.  I could actually feel a book hitting me in the back of the head.

Still.  Clever use of cheap paperbacks.

Today we had a friend of Emme’s in the car as we attended swim team practice.  And let me pause to say that I discovered my children may be out of shape as both girls were making out their last will as they hung over the edge of the pool during the long Saturday morning practice.

I sat back and pondered how nice the car ride home would be with 2/3 of my children exhausted beyond the point of speaking.

Anyhoo.  After practice all the girls were indeed exhausted today.  But not the boy child.  He was in rare form.  He chose not to take part in the swim team, because all that discipline could stunt his lizard catching time at the pool.

He lost all manner of gentlemanliness as he sat in the nosebleed section in the far back of the van (out of swatting distance) and commenced with a burping showcase.  Inappropriate humor followed.  Then he then discovered the extra long umbrella and that he could use it to sneak his collection of rubber snakes and lizards up to the middle row, where the teenaged girls resided.  All the while he giggled like a school girl, very proud that he had succeeded in horrifying his sisters.  (The friend has brothers, so she’s used to boys.  As if one is ever used to boys.)

Meanwhile I managed not to yell in front of the child who did not belong to me.  Nor do I owe the cuss jar any coins.  (I KNOW.  Imagine MY surprise.)

My next van is going to have a soundproofed plexiglass partition between the drivers row and the peanut gallery.

Help!  What are some useful tricks to keeping the peace during excursions which require everyone being trapped in a moving vehicle for any length of time?