First Day of School

My first born had his very first day of school today.  He was up early this morning, got himself ready, and had his backpack packed last night and he was ready to go.  I told myself I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry.   So as he was leaving and I had to reach up to hug his 6″ 1′ frame, I was able to smile as I looked at his clean-shaven face.  My son has been home schooled all his life, he is a senior this year and he wanted the Public High School experience.  We are now in an area where I am comfortable with this decision.  It’s a small high school in a small town.  He’s made a lot of friends already over the summer, and….we live right across the street. =]

He will be turning 18 in a couple of weeks.  It is funny how turning 18 seems so magical and you really think you’ll be an adult as you anticipate that big day.  But as a parent you realize there’s a fine line, that you wish was broader, between being a teenager and an adult, especially with boys.  But I know this experience will be good for him and I am excited and look forward to see what this year has in store for him.  But when June comes, and he’s in his cap and gown, there is no doubt, and I won’t be able to talk myself out of it…I am going to cry.

Back to School Encouragement


Now that school has started for most kids, why not encourage them with a “Back to the Books” bar!! This is something I like to do for my kids. This is a wrapper that you print, cut out, and wrap around a Hershey bar. I am including a downloadable Microsoft Word file that anyone can download, print and use for their kids. The front reads: Back to the Books – A Great Year Ahead.  On the back is a section with Nutrition Facts that reads:

Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size: 1 Student
Percent Daily Values (DV) based on
Upcoming School Year
Health 100%
History 100%
Language 100%
Math 100%
Reading 100%
Science 100%
Spelling 100%

The Ingredients section is actually an encouraging message that reads:

May your upcoming year be filled with good grades, new experiences, old and new friends, and lots of fun. Always strive to do your best, do what’s right and be yourself. Best wishes for a great school year.

There is also a bar code that represents the date of 08/2008.

I am including one for boys with a blue background, and one for girls with a green background. I usually secure them on the back with some glue stick, or you can use tape as well. I print mine on glossy stock paper, which is a little thicker, and looks more like a candy wrapper, but you can use regular paper as well.

I enjoy making these up for various occasions. If anyone is interested in having me create something special for them, drop me an email with your idea, and I’ll get back to you. I have done “Thank You” bars for birthday parties, where the kids will write the thank you message themselves, and I then type it in the ingredient section. The Birthday Boy/Girl hands one out to each guest at the end of his or her party. As a surprise I present one to the Birthday Boy/Girl with a candy bar of their own, that has their name on it. These are a great personalized treat. What kid doesn’t like chocolate? You can contact me at:

Just wanted to share this idea with you. I hope your kids are encouraged by this sweet treat.  Here are the downloadable files.

Back to the Books (boys)

Back to the Books (girl)

I’m Back

This weekend was my “Me Time Extravaganza.”  Well…it wasn’t that grand, but I had a whole weekend to myself.  I was house-sitting and did absolutely nothing and it was wonderful!!  I didn’t have to cook, clean, answer any questions, or talk to anybody, I didn’t even talk to myself!!  I went to my favorite hot dog joint for dinner one night, went to my favorite bakery and bought sprinkle cookies, which I didn’t have to share, and a chocolate chip coffee cake that was delicious, which I ended up sharing, because I forgot to bring it home with me.  I know my house-sitting hosts are enjoying it.  I watched TV, mostly home design shows, I love Flip This House.  I watched one of my favorite movies, Head Over Heals with Freddie Prince, Jr., it’s one of those movies that it’s just silly and far fetched but funny.  I also actually worked on a cross-stitch project that I started over three years ago.  I love to cross-stitch, it’s very relaxing to me.  The reason I know I started it over three years ago, is because it’s a baby blanket for my baby who just turned 3!!  I did this for all my kids.  When I found out I was pregnant with each of them, I started a blanket.  Believe it or not, I actually finished the twins’ blanket before they were born.  But I did have help on the second one, which was a joint effort with my mom and niece.  I did finish one all by myself.  For Elijah’s, my middle guy, that one was done shortly after he was born.  So the big joke is that Benji will have his done in time for his Kindergarten graduation.  I hope not.  My daughter showed it to him one day, and he just hugged it and didn’t want to put it away.  So then he began to pressure me to get it done.  Anniehow… I did get some work done on it.  It was so nice not to have to do anything, and I didn’t worry or feel guilty that I wasn’t doing anything.  I realized I need to do this more often.  When I came home, the house was clean, and everyone was exited to have me back.  My husband looked even more attractive to me, I did miss them all.

Now I’m trying to get back to life.  We have a couple of weeks left before we start school, and we are trying to have as much fun as we can.  My sister-in-law and her husband were in town from California, so we visited with them.  Today, the twins have their friends over, so that makes a total of 7 kids.  You think it would be chaos around here, but it’s not, the girls are in their room and the boys are in the boys’ room.  These friends are their “homeschool friends” since they are homeschooled too.  We try to get together as much as we can with them, last year we did a couple of field trips.  When we all get together there is a total of 9 kids, so it’s like a little class.

It’s nice to have a couple more days left to plan some fun.  My husband and I would like to take the kids miniature golfing and also take a trip downtown to see the fountain.  Something to look forward to before we have to hit the books again.

My Quest for a New Fridge

All the places I have lived in so far have had a fridge in them, so I haven’t really given much thought about having to actually buy one, until now. It’s not that the one I have is running badly or is in bad shape. It’s just that it was here when we moved in 3 years ago, and it has the worst design and functionality. OK, some of you may be saying, “It’s a fridge! It keeps things cold what else do you need?” Well let me explain my dilemma. First of all, we are a family of six. Every week when I go shopping I buy 4 gallons of milk, 3 gallons of Hawaiian Punch and two half gallons of Lactose Free Milk. So when I come home from shopping, I have 8 gallons to contend with. OK, I only need to refrigerate two Hawaiian Punch gallons at a time (two different flavors). But I also have to keep in mind that I already have a 2½ gallon jug for water and another gallon of green tea that I make myself and keep filled. So we are talking about 10 gallons of beverages!! Yes, I know, my family has a drinking problem. What can I say, my husband has to have a cold one after a long day at work. I personally don’t like the taste of Berry Blue Typhoon Hawaiian Punch, but it hits the spot for him. I myself am a green tea kinda gal. I pour myself a tall glass before dinner and I am set. Sadly, the problem has even started with the kids. I would need to keep chocolate milk on tap just to keep up. Anniehow…back to the real problem. So being that the drinks are the biggest problem, I had to configure the shelves of the fridge to accommodate all these containers on the bottom shelf. It doesn’t leave much room for anything else. The shelves of the fridge are glass and they have brackets on the back that hook into the back of the fridge. This is the design flaw. You cannot keep much weight on them. So my top shelves are as close to the top of the fridge as possible. I can only store margarine and cartons of eggs up there, maybe some sour cream. But if I have more than two dozen eggs up there, the shelf falls off its bracket, at which time I go into my ranting of, “This stupid, stupid fridge!!” At that point one or both of my little guys remind me that we don’t say stupid. This fridge does have a handy snack drawer. This is where I stash my chocolate. But it is a clear plastic drawer and right at eye level to my little guy. So he knows exactly what I have in it, and knows exactly what he wants. OK, so I have learned to live with the shelving problem. Now to address the door. This has some nifty compartments as well. The ever-popular butter dish, which I keep margarine sticks in, no problem. But the compartments are actually plastic trays. They “hook-on” to the little tabs that are on the actual door. They are large enough to hold a gallon of milk, but no where near sturdy enough. They do hold condiments, but not many. A couple of jars of relish and olives or some containers of BBQ sauce and that’s about it. You add some ketchup or mayo, and the tray cracks and falls out as you close the door. I have come to the conclusion that the fridge designers design them to look sleek, and hold a bottle of wine, take-out leftovers and some tofu like you see in the movies. They are not designed for a growing family. I thought to myself, well maybe it’s just this model. The quest begins!!

The other day, we all went to Best Buy, just to look around. My husband and the older kids were looking at the flat screen TVs. So my little guy, not wanting to stand around, starts pulling on my hand. So I look around and spot the appliance section. So I say, “OK, let’s go over here.” Not exactly what he had in mind, but once I started opening the refrigerator doors, he thought it was a pretty cool game. After awhile my daughter joined us, thinking her dad and brothers heard her say she was going over by me. Well, the three of us got all caught up looking at these shiny new refrigerators. I’m not too crazy about the stainless steel ones. But these things had all kinds of buttons and temperature controls on them, I wouldn’t even know how to operate them. I do like the water and ice dispensers on the front. But then you have to deal with the double door issue. You can get the double doors with the freezer on one side, but I had one of those before and the freezer is just too narrow. You have to put the frozen pizzas on their sides and then when you open the package all the pepperoni is at the bottom. I think I would rather have to deal with that than a double door fridge with the freezer as a drawer at the bottom. There doesn’t seem to be enough room in a freezer drawer. So we looked at all the different models. My little guy was having so much fun as my daughter and I discussed the different features. At one point he opened a fridge and it had a crisper drawer in it like ours at home, he opens the drawer and says, “Mom, look! You put the food in here, take it out, and make it for dinner!” (They really do watch our every move). With all the fun we had and all the choices out there, I was disappointed that I did not find my perfect fridge. Some were actually built worst than the one I have. Many of them had the plastic trays hooked onto the door, and the plastic was actually thinner. I did find one that looked pretty sturdy, it had shelves built into the door and wire racks as shelves on the inside that looked connected well, and it was only $500. But it didn’t have the ice and water dispenser on the front. It was then that I realized that this was going to take more research. So we were heading out of the department when my daughter spotted one more. We stood in front of it, as we opened the doors we were hit by a cool breeze and a bright light. Did I actually hear angels singing? Was this the one? Was it a sign? No…this one was just plugged in and running. Needless to say we were unable to actually look at all the features on this one, my daughter was being paged. While we were caught up in stainless steel, water dispensers and temperature controls, my husband and two sons were frantically looking for my daughter. They didn’t hear her when she told them she was going by me. Once “our party” was all back together and safe, we left. My daughter was reminded that she needed to tell someone where she was going. They actually left the store to check the van to see if we were out there. That’s when they came back in to page her. Usually I’m the one in the store with the kids looking for my husband as he wanders off, but he is a grown man. It’s quite frightening when you don’t know where your kid has gone off to, even for a split second. Thank God we were all accounted for.

So the quest continues. I’m going to do a little research online, and see if I can find out what all those buttons actually do. Find the lowest price and then check it out at the store. It’s a good thing I’m in no hurry, this might take some time. But I know one thing for sure. The next time we split up in a store, we will all know where everyone is going.

Issues to Consider When Deciding to Home School

Deciding to homeschool your children will be one of the most important decisions you will make for you family. You will find though, that there are many valuable resources to aid in your decision. Before you do anything, find out what your state law requires, because each state is different. The best place to obtain this information is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. Listed here are a few of the pros and cons of homeschooling.

Pro: Individual Attention: This is probably the best benefit of homeschooling. Your child gets the undivided attention that they need to excel, as opposed to competing for attention with 30+ kids in a classroom. This especially benefits boys who tend to have more energy that needs to be channeled. Even when you are homeschooling more than one child, you can still focus on each of them. This is very helpful in determining how your child learns. Even in the same family, what works for one may not work for the other. By spending time with each one of your children, you can see how they learn the best and tailor their curriculum accordingly.

Pro: Set your own schedule: This includes your daily schedule as well as yearly. It’s best to give children consistency. A daily start time, break, lunch and end time is beneficial and will prepare them for the working world. But you can start at any time and not have to worry about getting them up super early to catch the bus, driving them yourself, or carpooling.

Your child’s daily schedule will not be as long as a traditional school day. You will not have to spend eight hours teaching them, unless you want to. Keep in mind your child is not in a large classroom, there are far less distractions. They don’t have the time in between classes to switch from room to room. Usually a day for a younger child will last 3 to 4 hours, with you spending the bulk of the time with them. For older children, their day can be completed within 4 to 6 hours with your involvement of about 1 to 2 hours.

You can follow the traditional school calendar and have the same days off and breaks as well. Some people homeschool all year round, working for six weeks and then taking 2 weeks off. You determine what works best for you in conjunction with what your state requires for attendance.

One of the best benefits of setting your own schedule is that you can alter your schedule at any given moment. You’ll be able to spend time with out-of-town guests. If your spouse’s job keeps them away for periods of time, when they are home you can spend that quality time with them. You can plan vacations during the year. Also take advantage of free days during the week at local museums, art galleries or cultural events.

Pro: Save Money: You will be saving money on tuition if your child would otherwise attend a private school. If they would attend a public school, their wardrobe would not have to be as extensive, or you wouldn’t have to buy uniforms. Mind you, they do need clothes at home. Homeschooling in PJs is probably not the best idea, so they do need to get dressed. But they will only be seeing you and their siblings, so the need to look hip and fashionable is no longer an issue.

 There will also be savings for lunches, you won’t have to purchase special juice boxes or “lunchables,” or provide lunch money.

Con: Responsible for education. You have the sole responsibility of your child’s education. You decide what and when you teach them. You’ll have many choices for curriculums, and finding the right one for each child may take some time. But just because a curriculum might not be achieving the results you desire for a semester or even the whole year. All is not lost. Keep trying until something clicks. Your child is not falling behind; you set the pace and the schedule. They are still learning something. As long as your child is not spending the whole day in front of the TV or playing video games, they are getting an education.

Many well-meaning friends and family members may question your ability to teach. Many people think you should have a teaching degree. Many curriculums have extensive instruction for the parent to teach. You must be willing to put the time in for preparation. As long as you are willing, you are more than capable.

Con: You are with your kids all the time. We love our children; there is not doubt. But when you homeschool, you do not have the luxury of a quiet house while they are at school. Unless they are involved in outside activities, for the most part, you will be together for the majority of the time. The key to keeping your sanity is to work something out with your spouse to get some time for yourself. You need that to recharge your batteries, and to continue to enjoy this experience.

If you live in an area where there is snow in the winter, there are no snow days. This of course affects the kids more than it affects you.

Con: Sacrifice an income. This is probably the biggest sacrifice you will make. If you are used to working, and then begin homeschooling, it’s a big adjustment to live on one income. But it’s worth every penny.

You will also have to purchase the full curriculum for each child. Some textbooks can be used for other children, but you usually have to purchase workbooks for each child each year. This is still the fraction of the cost of tuition. It also depends on the curriculum you use. The least expensive is buying the books, teaching and keeping all your records. There are also teaching DVDs and correspondence schools, where you pay them to keep track of record keeping. Choose one that fits your schedule as well as your budget.

Final thought: Before my first child was born, I knew that I would be homeschooling. When I became pregnant, I started reading up on the subject. Then when I found out that my first child was actually twins, I realized I would have a mini classroom. My twins are now 13, and I have been homeschooling them the whole time, along with their brother who is in first grade, and I have one more to go after that. I plan to homeschool all the way through high school, with the thought of using an online school or correspondence school at that level. It’s a lot of work, but I continue to enjoy it, and learn things myself along the way.