Category Archives: My Family

Fan Fiction: One More Time

*If you are an email or Twitter subscriber, you may have received this post this morning. Word Press accidentally suspended my blog shortly after this post due to a glitch. I removed the original “Fan Fiction” post because the suspension messed it up. I hoped this re-post would correct any problems, but sadly I am now on my second re-post. Please let me know if you have any problems reading this post or any post on my blog.  Thanks in advance for your understanding.


I hope everyone is back in the saddle again so to speak. I know some of you have changed curriculums or just started homeschooling. January and August seem to be the two start-up times for homeschooling.

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that as part of my daughter’s homeschool writing curriculum, she writes her very own anime fan fiction blog and we edit together. Anime continues to grow by leaps and bounds in this country. There is a huge fan base here in the United States. .

Because of my daughter’s great love of anime, it only seemed natural to merge it into her home school lessons. She is very into sketching, so her art lessons include anime drawing. She has her anime sketches posted all around her room. She even posts them on an anime artist site. She creates AMV’s ( anime music video ) and posts them on YouTube. Here is a link to some of her AMV’s. Recently a particular site invited her to submit a Christmas AMV for a contest they were running. She was so proud! Being recognized for her work was a thrill for her. I must admit, I was a very proud Mom too! Smile For theater arts or drama, she has anime cosplay outfits. She acts out various scenes. Her dream is to attend one of the many anime cons such as MegaCon, Dragon Con, A-Kon, AWA…

Here are a few of her anime drawings.

Rin Okumura Drawing By Hannah  Yuki Sohuma Drawing by Hannah

Writing fan fiction is so very different from what I learned about traditional writing as a student. I embraced that difference and learned something new myself.  Blogging is not our only avenue for writing lessons, but it is her favorite. If you would like to take a peek at her blog, it is Bleached in Anime. The lingo is unique to anime lovers. If you are not an anime fan, it might be a little strange. It has taken me a while to become a fan (o.k., I am still traveling the anime road hoping to become a fan, but shhhh, don’t tell my daughter).

The blog is a little behind now due to all the holidays, and she has writer’s block. Sad smile It’s not too bad for a dyslexic, CAPD kid. I think her success with blog writing just proves that Special needs learners can succeed if we give them the right tools.

I truly want you to share how you teach writing in your homeschool, so please don’t be shy! If we all share ideas and techniques, we have the chance to learn something new. I would love to get some dialogue going.


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Looking back over 2011, it seems like a bit of blur. We moved twice. That means I still can’t find things, and I am still unpacking junk.  I love the idea of if you haven’t used it by now, you don’t need it, but I am too afraid to just throw some stuff away. What if I want it later. HA HA  I don’t know that we had any awesome achievements, but living every day is really an awesome achievement if you stop and think about it. 

We let our daughter try public school this year. It was as horrible as we remembered it being when she was little. Homeschooling is just so much better. I can’t believe how much she actually learns on her own. She is very independent. She would rather learn on her own, but somehow indulges me. We added some neat history and science to our curriculum, I will post more about it later.

Several different animals came to live with us on our farm during 2011.


We added goats, chickens, guineas, ducks, geese, and cows. They are fun, but very time consuming and expensive to feed. We put up a few small sheds and new electric fencing. The goats don’t mind the shock. They run fast knowing the it only stings for a bit. Their drive to graze is very strong. We had to totally change their fencing. We got a great used tractor that surely helps my husband tons.

My daughter continues to improve her writing skills via her blog. She gets better and better at making AMV’s (anime videos). She was recently asked to submit to a contest. 

We watched several comet showers during the year. It’s great lying on the trampoline and staring into the peaceful night sky when you live in the quietness of the country.

My husband’s health has been fairly steady this year. He only had a few scary rough patches. I am very thankful for that! My health has been good. Since we lost our insurance last year, I can’t tell you how much good health is. God is good. 

My Mom and Dad were able to visit us during 2011. That is always something good. They live so far away, so visits are treasured.

I have posted more often the last several months. My goal is to continue that into 2012. 

I let my short hair grow out a little bit longer. My husband says it looks much better while my daughter says she likes it shorter. Which to go with???

I found great homes for all our birds, our rabbit, and several baby kittens. This relieved lots of stress for me, and the new owners were thrilled. 

I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. That was very nice (thank you FB).

We have continued to stay active in church. We belong to a super Rhema church.

I am sure I left tons out, but I didn’t rob a bank, kill anyone, or see my picture on the nightly news, so all in all, I think 2011 was successful! 

How was your 2011? Leave me a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you. 

The best is yet to come, so I want to wish you all the very best for 2012.


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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in My Family


From the Heart

Christmas! It is a wonderful time of year, but it can be hard on the pocketbook if you are not careful. Maybe it’s time to reflect on the season and gift giving with our children.

Gift giving is a wonderful thing and I am not suggesting we should abandon it, rather, just change our way of thinking and doing a bit. After all, what are we teaching our children? Most likely we are teaching them to shop, and to value material goods over anything else. My husband just calls it “crass consumerism”. The result is a society that is deeply in debt and piled high with needless stuff. Have you ever looked at how many yard sales there are each week?

What if you try creating new traditions with your sweet family — go Christmas caroling as a family or with friends, bake Christmas cookies, visit shut-in at the nursing home, wash someone’s car, string popcorn for your tree, offer to babysit for friends or family, shovel snow off the neighbor’s sidewalk, bake yummy pies to give as gifts, play football outside, send a Christmas note to a person in the military, volunteer at the food bank, create Christmas scrapbooks… All of these are either free or fairly inexpensive, but most of all they build strong family ties.

Look for ways to celebrate this year without having to buy so much. Personal gifts from the heart are usually most appreciated anyway.  Try giving a handmade coupon book to Grandma. I am sure she would love redeeming a coupon from her grandchild that was good for having a story read to her by her precious grandchild, or redeeming a coupon good for having them rake the leaves from her yard. Coupon books are excellent ideas to give to any family member.  Mom, help the kids make one for Dad.

I remember making my grandmother a very simple gift when I was very young. I took a little bottle and filled it with water and added food coloring. She kept the bottle until the day she died. I made my other grandmother a pet rock and she kept it until she passed away, too! As an adult, I was overwhelmed with memories and love when I found my simplistic gifts in their belongs as we cleared out their houses.

Focus on the true meaning of CHRISTmas this year. Build new traditions as you strengthen your family bond.

I wish you and yours a very merry of Christmas and a blessed New Year full of joy, good health, and prosperity-both financial and spiritual.


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God’s Handiwork


Gerogia Mountains and Misc 031Gerogia Mountains and Misc 041


The Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia During Apple Season

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                         My front and side yard.


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Posted by on November 19, 2011 in My Family


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Honoring The Military

How many homeschool lapbooking writers read this blog? Lap books are a fun way to showcase a study about the military. It is also neat to add lap books to your child’s portfolio.

When the Iran war was going on, I wrote a letter that was delivered to a service man. I did not pick anyone in particular. I let the organization I used decide who would get it. The service man who received my letter wrote back. We continued to correspond until he went home. He told me how much it meant to get the letters. It made me smile.


Encourage your child to actively honor the military (excuse the split infinitive). There are several ways to show you care, and they are all educational.

Here are a few examples to get you started.

· Letters-I know I love to get letters in the mail, so I can only imagine how it must feel for a soldier to receive one, especially from someone they don’t know. It shows them they are being thought about. Organizations like Operation Gratitude accept letters that they will include in care packages. If you have a family member, friend, or neighbor in the military, ask for their address and send them a letter. If your child is very young, have them draw pictures. Sometimes the person who receives the letter will write back. It only takes one stamp to mail letters to our military who are overseas. Educational Opportunities: Make sure you use good grammar and punctuation. This is great real life practice on letter writing and addressing envelopes. On a map, pin point where the solider is located once you find out, if you find out. Calculate the distance from your home to their location. Learn about the country the soldier is stationed in.

· Care package-Put together a care package. Include magazines, food that won’t spoil (check to see if there are specific food items that are not accepted. I sent a care package to a service woman stationed in Iraq and p0rk rinds, which were her favorite, were not allowed), socks, boot cleaner, toiletries, cards or games, books… are easy to send and not too expensive. You can get flat rate boxes free at the local post office. Don’t forget to include a letter and maybe a picture. To increase your chances of getting a return letter, include a stamped, self-addressed envelope; a few pieces of paper; a pen; and put them in your package. There is no need for a stamp on the envelope. In your letter to the Soldier, which you also put in the box, ask him/her to drop you a quick note. The organization, Any Soldier, is a good one to use. Educational Opportunities: Research what is and isn’t accepted in care packages, and why (some have to do with culture, religious beliefs, safety, and so on). When your child shop for items to send, have them follow a budget. Give them a calculator and a notebook to keep track of the money.  

· The Families At Home-Write a note to the family members who have a loved one serving in the military. We tend to forget about them. The kids of service men and women miss their parents. Educational Opportunities: Again, writing practice and addressing an envelope is the focus here. Locate the families home on a map. Calculate the distance from your home to their home, and calculate the distance from their home to their where their family member is stationed. Add all the distances up. Draw lines connecting all three locations on a map.

The best thing you can send is your SUPPORT! Tell them you are proud of them. Let them know you care. It only takes a minute, but your simple expression will make a huge impression.


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Do you have enough minutes in your day? It seems everyone is busy these days, especially homeschooling Moms. We are the taxi driver, master chief, nurse, educator, arbitrator, and domestic engineer for our household. How on earth are we supposed to find time to check our Yahoo groups, put our status on Facebook, update our Linkedin profile, read our tweets, text our friends, update the kid’s portfolios, or chat in our favorite forum groups???

I am sure you have met Organized Olivia at a homeschool group or local co-op? She has it going on, and is sure to offer tons of charts, calendars, and graphs showing how she schedules and organizes her day. Some people are just born with a natural talent for fitting 101 things into their day. I don’t know about you, but charts, graphs, and organizers just never seem to work out quite that great for me.  I need practical hands-on tools. Some days I simply want to shout, “Calgon, take me away.” Rats! What am I thinking, I don’t have time for that. 


I know you have heard the saying, “time is money”, so I am going to try to help you save a little time and money. While I am not Organized Olivia , I will share a few things that save time for me so that my days are more valuable

  • Portfolio–If you use Time4Learning, I hope you take advantage of their record keeping system. You can print whatever you need and add it to your binder, or you can save whatever you want on your hard drive, or to a flash drive. This sure beats handwriting everything.
  • Google Calendar–Set up a Google calendar complete with pop-ups and email reminders for anything you want or need to remember. 
  • Smart Phones–If you use an Android smart phone (not sure all smart phones do this) sync with your Google calendar. Check your email while waiting at the doctor’s office. I love that I can check it while I’m waiting somewhere or riding in the car (I don’t do this when I am driving). I delete junk mail and it also deletes it off my desk top computer. That’s one less thing for me to do when I get home. 
  • Facebook & Twitter–Use your smart phone to post to Facebook or Twitter with a simple click while you are waiting in line someplace.
  • Voice Texting–My favorite thing on my smart phone is speaking my text rather than typing it. It works great and really does save me loads of time, not that I am a big texter.
  • Yahoo Groups–Set your Yahoo groups to daily digest. Scan the titles in the digest and click or scroll down only to the ones you really want to read. Unsub from groups you no longer enjoy.
  • Nutshell Mail–I saved the best for last. I LOVE this service. Here is what they say:  Save Time Monitoring & Managing Your Brand on Facebook, Twitter & More…NutshellMail from Constant Contact tracks your brand’s social media activity and delivers a summary to your email inbox on your schedule.


I love Nutshell Mail because I don’t always want to go to Facebook or Twitter, or any of the accounts I have set up. Nutshell Mail sends a summary digest to me based on the time schedule I set up, and it includes whatever I want or don’t want to read. I can also decide how I want the groups ordered in the digest. I have mine set to include Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and The Homeschool Lounge.

It is really nice to get multiple social network info all bundled into one concise digest. It sure beats going to 8 different sites. And best of all, it’s FREE! You can add Yelp, You Tube, Foursquare, and Citysearch, if you use them. I have not ever seen another service like this.


My old Blackberry didn’t always work right. Sometimes it wouldn’t ring or tell me if I had messages. I got used to not carrying my phone with me everywhere I went since it didn’t work half the time. I recently traded my old broken phone for a new Android phone that is awesome. It has great time saving features, but I still don’t take my phone with me everywhere I go. And when I do, I  sometimes turn it off. I don’t like being tied to it.

I know you have seen those folks who have a phone growing out of their ear. They are constantly on their phone texting, talking, checking Facebook, or browsing the Internet. I don’t really call that multi-tasking, I think of it as time wasting when it is addictive.

Have you ever been trying to buy groceries while Chatty Charity is telling you all about her day? That one phone call drags out the shopping trip a good bit because it is hard to compare prices, remember to pick up everything, keep the kids under control, find a specific item all the while someone is gabbing in your ear.

Just do it–turn off the phone that is. You will thank yourself when you realize how much time you save when your phone is not attached to your ear.

Hmmm, with all my timesaving tips maybe I do have time for Calgon to take me away after all.

P.S. Please take time to post a comment on simple ways you save time. I know we would all love to discover your secret!


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Currently I Am…

Currently I Am…

I saw something similar to this on another blog the other day, so I decided to try it. It was lots of fun. I used Digital Scrapbook Artist to make it.

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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in My Family


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Decisions or Dilemma?


We have been unschooling the last several years and it works for us. It’s a great way to learn life skills for sure.  However, my DD is heading into high school now, so I am trying to unscramble all the different options for her. She is interested in returning to public school, well, for now she is interested in it. Tomorrow may be a different story. Smile  Her mind changes as fast as the wind. My husband and I are giving her that option for now. I don’t want her to look back in thirty years and regret not being able to at least try public high school. It is a small county school and appears to offer a good bit of choice as far as electives go.

I am sure she will have to test to see where they want to place her. She is behind, well according to public school she is behind. Her dyslexia and CAPD, among other things, has set her back just a little. She has a high IQ and is quite smart. I am not so sure she will be happy with their decision, and I am not convinced she will even like going to school! She hates large crowds, she hates lots of noise, she will have to ride the bus about an hour one way, she is not used to homework, she is not used to changing classes… However, she can roll with the punches–she is a survivor. She is a leader and not a follower. She has what it takes, just not sure she will want what it takes, know what I mean? Even if she does choose to tough it out in public school, we will still have to work at home as if we were still homeschooling. Actually, we will have to work harder to keep up with all the junk they require. Yes, I think most of it is pure junk.

Are any of you facing a similar situation? Leave a comment and share with me. I will keep you posted on our dilemma.


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Rocky and Handsome


I know I mostly write about educational stuff, but I wanted to write about the two newest additions to our farm, Rocky and Handsome, two fun bull calves. Handsome was Tuesday, July 5,and Rocky is about 6-7 days old. These bottle boys are awesome (I really want to say precious, but I just don’t think it fits with boys). They are Holsteins, look like the Chick-fil-a cows.

Rocky definitely loves getting his bottle. He will chase you down for it. When the bottle runs dry, he will spend his time sucking your fingers or legs, or anything that might possibly give a little more milk (in his mind anyway). My baby goat, Lucy, is glad we brought the boys home because she just ran out of milk replacer. They saved the day for her! I am weaning her anyway. Rocky loves to run with my daughter. Kicking and jumping are among his favorites. Handsome is still too little to enjoy all that yet. He mostly sleeps. They both got their first shots last night. Poor Handsome had scours, too. He is much better today.

My little boys will soon big very big boys and gone before I know it, so I am going to enjoy every day with them while they are here.

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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in My Family


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When A Teacher Becomes A Homeschooler

When A Teacher Becomes A Homeschooler

Early on, my husband and I both knew we wanted to homeschool our daughter, Hannah. I spent time researching homeschool curriculum and actually began putting back materials so I would be ready when the “formal” time for school arrived. Sadly, the time never arrived. We were in a position where I needed to go back to work to help the family make ends meet. God blessed us. The private school in Texas where I had taught previously called and asked if I would come back and teach for them. Since Hannah was only four, I agreed to teach part-time. Life was taking a turn for us. Hannah started preschool (across the hall from my room) and I found myself back in the classroom once again. I was only supposed to work half a day, but quickly found myself at school almost all day. The rigors of classroom teaching don’t end at noon! The following year, I decided to go back to teaching full day as I had done in the years before Hannah’s birth.

Approaching Education as a Classroom Teacher

Learning is fun for me, so I endeavor to make it as fun as reasonably can be expected in the classroom–I enjoy teaching! I am a very hands-on type of teacher. I like the kids to really get involved with all their senses. I feel like that ownership experience helps them take pride and want to learn more. I know it helps them not only retain the lesson, but actually learn the lesson. I am also passionate about finding out each child’s learning style and teaching toward it.

The following year, Hannah started kindergarten and I moved to second grade (my favorite grade to teach). This was an important year for our family because it marked the signs of what was to come in regards to Hannah’s education. Schoolwork was difficult for Hannah. She struggled with learning reading skills. She became very anxious when called on to read aloud in class, so much so that I asked her teacher not to call on her in class any longer. Her progress at the end of the year was not where her father and I would have liked it. We knew Hannah had some issues, so we had her tested. Wow! The list seemed like a death sentence–ADHD, dysgraphia, sensory integration, language delay, dyslexia, and auditory processing problems. The next year, Hannah was a student in my class. I will say that having your child in your classroom at school is NOT the same as homeschooling. I expected more of my child than I did of the other kids. I was determined not give anyone a chance to say I favored my child.

Our situation changed again when my family and I were transferred from Texas to Georgia due to my husband’s job. I had a teaching position lined up. Three days after arriving in Georgia, I ruptured a disc in my back and was not able to teach. In the meantime, my husband and I had decided to retain Hannah in second grade in hopes that she would have an easier time in school. I don’t recommend doing that. School was almost unbearable for her. By January, the school still did not have her IEP completed. Hannah was begging us to home school her. We finally gave in and embarked on the best journey of our lives!

Approaching Education as a Homeschooler

That first half of the year we used Abeka, Bob Jones and supplemental texts. Hannah made good progress and we were both happy. She smiled more, she completed her assignments with no fussing, she moved very rapidly through lessons and actually understood the concepts… She was so proud of herself when she was able to move into a third grade math book.

In this beginning stage, however, I was not very hands-on at all. I was trying to get my legs under me so to speak. So, I decided to make some changes the next year in hopes of adding more hands-on activities.. I also wanted to quell the beginning of problems I could see rising since the honeymoon phase had ended. For one thing, I was much too rigid in my approach to teaching. For our first fun “hands-on” activity, we both decided to try lapbooking. We mulled over all the titles and Hannah picked several. I excitedly ordered them all and got everything set up for her to begin a lapbook on Mythical Creatures. I had read all the directions and teacher Jackie knew just what to do and how to do it. Boy, was I wrong! The first day, I had my dyslexic child who hates school, copy vocabulary words. Not just a few mind you, all twenty or so of them. That was a prison sentence for her!! How could I have been so blind and so far off course? I can only say it must have been the “classroom teacher” in me. In the classroom I would have had my students do that activity, so I just naturally assigned it for Hannah, even though I knew she couldn’t handle it. I hadn’t yet learned to separate my “classroom teacher” hat from my “homeschool teacher” hat. Next, I had her cut and paste every single picture and make every single mini-book. She saw all of it as a waste and very boring. She would have been much happier if we had researched online the various mythical creatures and I read about them. She would have enjoyed checking out books about them and looking at the pictures, watching videos, listening to online stories – - none of which seemed educational “enough” to me. I think I wanted something to show for the work. I wanted to be able to say, “This is what we accomplished. See, we really did do some work.” I guess I thought more about being questioned about how much and what type of learning Hannah was getting than what was going to work for her.

Since Hannah had been a student in my classroom, I already knew her learning style(s). However, what I found out next was very surprising to me. She didn’t want to do much in the way of hands-on activities now that we were homeschooling. I remember purchasing all the supplies we needed to build a volcano and have it erupt since we were learning about them. She just wasn’t excited or interested in building one. I couldn’t figure it out. That didn’t make sense to me since. I guess I just assumed she would want to do all the neat creative stuff just like when I had her as a student in my classroom. I was the one disappointed, not her. Again, I had failed to see there was a difference now that we were learning at home. I was determined to find something that clicked with her. I very much wanted this child of mine to finally have success at school and find that it could be fun and enjoyable. Was I kidding myself?

Next, we tried the state’s online virtual school. Virtual school worked decently until about mid-year. Hannah’s needs were just not being met and she did not like it at all. The work was getting much harder, yet she was not really getting what she needed to reach the expectations of the virtual school. (Notice I say the expectations of the virtual school, not my expectations). I found that the virtual school and I did not agree on how to homeschool or what to teach. I felt like my rights were usurped. I realized that finding the perfect curriculum or solution was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. While these texts, curriculum’s and schools were all helpful in many ways, they each came up short in meeting Hannah’s needs.

Approaching Education as a Mother

Hannah was becoming quite independent. I felt like she still needed me to take the lead in her learning due to her challenges, but she was trying to show me that she wanted to take the lead. I am not sure who was the most hardheaded. I didn’t want to let go. I knew I needed to find something that would allow her to be more independent and self-directed but still keep me in the loop. I was learning so many things about Hannah too…things like how much of a visual learner she really was; what her interests were, not mine; that she was not as much a kinesthetic learner as I thought she was; that she remembers what she hears very easily–way more auditory than I gave her credit for being; that she is capable of more than I realized… I wanted so much to shield her from failure or frustration, that I believe I was actually holding her back. I was forcing my ideas on her rather than listening to what she was saying. She was telling me very plainly what she wanted to do. My ears were clogged up listening to my own ideas of what should be done each day.

I became more determined than ever to find something that worked for both of us. I joined more Yahoo-type educational groups in order to hear/learn about what others were experiencing. I knew I couldn’t be alone. I figured there were other Moms or Dads out there going through the same issues as I was experiencing. I joined lists for homeschooling only children, children with ADHD, children with dyslexia, children who hate school… I found out about online schools for homeschool kids through many of the lists. I knew you could purchase curriculum in a box that included CD’s of lessons and such, but I wasn’t aware of actual interactive online learning programs. Virtual school was not, in my opinion, an interactive online learning experience. I began reading reviews written by parents about different multimedia homeschool curriculum. We tried Alex for math. Hannah hated it. We tried Click N’ Kid. She thought it was very childish, but indulged me. It didn’t make a lasting difference either. Finally, we looked at Time4Learning. Time4Learning’s flash, audio, and visual style appealed to my special needs learner. She finally found that school can be fun after all. I am thankful T4L meets the unique learning style of my child and thousands of others. There is hope for us all!

The journey has been long and I know we still have a long road ahead, but I think we are finally on the right track. I have come to realize that being a classroom teacher does have some benefits when teaching your own child at home, but it also comes with disadvantages if you are not keenly in tune with your child. I don’t regret for an instance that I was a classroom teacher. I am just thankful that I was able to make the transition from a classroom teacher to a first-time homeschool teacher/mom. Bumps are to be expected along the way, and I feel I have hit just about every bump in the road. But, this journey has led me from a classroom teacher to a homeschool teacher and finally to a Mom who realizes she just wants to meet the needs of her daughter.


Posted by on August 8, 2010 in My Family


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