Sunday, December 26, 2010

15 things: Belated Anniversary Edition

My hubby and I celebrated our 15th anniversary on December 23rd.  In honor of that I present to you 15 of my annoying habits quirks that my husband has had to live with for the past 15 years

1. My need to talk incessantly
    and by incessant I mean that when I start talking sometimes I don't even need to stop to take a breath

2. My pathological neatness
    I will put away something while he is in the middle of using it.  It's an illness I tell you.

3. My spaciness
    sometimes I lose track of the conversation mid sentence

4. The fact that I like to use a blanket at night even in Hawaii
     What?  I like to snuggle up under blankets when I sleep

5. My chronic lateness
    I try. I really do, but I cannot get places on time.

6. My inability to stop in the middle of working on something
    It's a problem. Once I start a project, I cannot stop even if I should be doing something else like making dinner.

7. My internet addiction
    between email, facebook, and blogs, it gets out of hand sometimes, but I am working on it.

8. My cheesiness
    I'm kind of cross between swiss and cheddar. Cheesy music, cheesy movies, getting choked up over random things, that's me.

9. My forgetfulness
    if I don't write it on my list, I will forget it.

10. My list making
      see #9. 

11. When I say I will be ready in 5 minutes, and I am not.
       probably related to #5 and #6.  My sense of time is not great...

12. The fact that I don't like to watch football
       he has tried to teach my about the game, I have tried to find a team to cheer for, but I just can't get into it.

13. My taste in music
     I like Colbie Caillat.  He likes Nirvana.

14. The fact that I something feel claustrophobic when we snuggle.
       sometimes I am fine with him draping his legs over me while we watch TV, sometimes I have to throw his legs off me in a panic 

15. My overwhelming love for him
     ok, not a quirk, but it is true, for 15 year through our ups and down I have never stopped loving him.

Thanks, babe, for loving me, quirks and all,  for the past 15 years!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Best Christmas Eve Ever

Today as the girls and I were making Christmas cookies to leave for Santa tonight, I started thinking about my favorite Christmas Eve memory.

One Christmas, I think it was the year that I had a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a newborn, I ran out of time to make Christmas cookies for Santa.  I was feeling frustrated and upset that I had not succeeded in carrying out an important Christmas tradition.  Rand, my wonderful husband, came to the rescue.  He suggested that we leave Dr. Pepper and chips for Santa. The girls thought this was a great idea.  And the next morning, we found a note from Santa thanking us for the pop and chips and telling us that it was nice to get something beside cookies. What started out as a disaster in my postpartum mind became a favorite Christmas memory.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Smooth Sailing

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but I found it on my camera and thought it was funny. Oh and by the way, we love Singapore Math.  My oldest is just not a fan of math in general.
In fact, this post is about how smoothly everything has been going in our homeschooling lately. Yes, my oldest is still not a fan of math, but truly things are going SO well. (Please don't let this post jinx it!) I mean it.  It just feels like I after finally figured out this homeschooling thing. And it has only taken me 7 1/2 years...

I haven't been posting much about homeschooling lately and I think that is because everything is just kind of chugging along.  Nothing overly exciting is happening.  I am not stressing out over curriculum or deficiencies in my girls' learning.  I don't have anything new to report.  We are just happily using what we have found works in our homeschool; Writing Strands, Singapore Math , First Language Lessons , Growing with Grammar, Story of the World , English from the Roots Up , Real Science 4 Kids , Live Mocha, Individual spelling lists, reading good books...

My girls have their daily lists and come to me when they have questions. I spend about an hour and a half every morning fielding questions.  With 3, it seems like someone always needs help, but it is manageable.  Then I actively teach and lead discussions for another hour and a half. Usually the girls have some work to finish up after lunch and then I have my afternoons to do household stuff while the girls play with the neighborhood kids.

So.. If you are a new homeschooler or thinking about homeschooling, you just need to stick it out for 7 years and it will be great.

Just a typical day in our homeschool. For some reason my middle child likes to stand while she works...
Link to my girls' daily lists

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Goose is getting fat...

or maybe that's just me... Must exercise more.... Too much holiday food...

Yes, Christmas time is upon us.

I have been enjoying this holiday season with my sanity pretty much intact.  Or as much as my sanity is ever intact... 
Decorations are up. 
Gift have been bought (Thank you, Amazon!) 
Packages have been mailed. 
Cookies have been baked. 
I still have wrapping to do and more cookies to bake (need to make sure we have some to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve). I gave up Christmas cards last year due to facebook.  Sad, I know, but it freed up some serious time and money in my Christmas season.

one of about 20 pictures found on my camera that my kids took of the Christmas tree

Want to know a secret? I let my kids set up and decorate the tree all by themselves AND... I didn't even go back and move the ornaments around when they were done.

Truly it has been a very relaxing Christmas season this year. Yep, I kept myself sane, but I am not sure what has happened to my hair...

OK, I do know. Arwen gave me Cindy Lou Who hair the other day while we were learning about DNA.  It made it hard to concentrated, but we had a good time laughing!

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ok, so maybe homemade laundry soap doesn't work

'member when I made homemade laundry soap and I was skeptical at first, but then excited when it worked. Well...

I am not sure it works.

First, I made a batch and forgot to add Oxy Clean.  I started to notice that my clothes were looking dingy and then I remember that I read that that would happen if you didn't use Oxy Clean.

Now, Rand and I are noticing that our T-shirts are starting to smell really rank, even right after they are washed.  OK, yes, we live in Hawaii and stuff gets musty easily, but clearly the homemade stuff is not getting the stink out.  They seem to be getting worse and worse.  I think it is time to buy a big box of Tide!!!

*I just remembered that the first couple of batches I used washing soda, but then I ran out and it is really difficult to find in Hawaii, so I started using baking soda.  I just read that washing soda is stronger.  Hum, maybe I won't give up completely.

I also tried homemade dishwasher soap and all purpose cleaner.

Homemade Dishwasher Soap
This took a bit of experimenting.  The basic recipe is

1 cup of borax
1 cup of baking soda

use 1 teaspoon in each soap container

easy peasy, right?  Well, this got the dishes clean, but left a residue.  I tried adding salt.  I added a squirt of dish soap.  I tried vinegar in the jet dry spot (which kind of worked, but splashed everywhere).  I read that citric acid works well, but I didn't feel like running all over trying to find it and I couldn't get it on Amazon with free shipping. Finally, I just added a cup of Cascade to the recipe and it works great.  And let's be honest, I am doing this to save money more than to save the environment.  Sorry, Mother Earth, love ya, but a girl's gotta save a dime where she can. So really what I am doing is extending the life of the store bought stuff with cheaper stuff.

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda or washing soda
  • 2 teaspoons borax
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
  • 2 cups hot water
Combine all the ingredients and the water into a spray bottle. Shake well. The washing soda or baking soda makes this formula a great grease cutter.
So far no problems with this one and is really is great for cleaning up greasy messes.  But not greasy faces, as my daughter Arwen suggested when she was reading over my shoulder and I tried to explain to her what a grease cutter was.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

5 Questions

I've been tagged in a blog meme by my internet friend, an American Muslim convert living in England who shares my name and my home state.

She asked me to answer the following 5 questions:

1) What is your favourite book of all time?
My first response would be A Tale of Two Cities, a book that I have claimed to be my favorite since high school.  I can't wait to reread it with my daughter in a few years. But I recently read The Outsiders again and I love, love, loved it. I really love reading, especially young adult novels, so it is really hard to pick an all time favorite. I went through a phase after college and when I had little babies that I didn't read much. I think I got overloaded with my college reading and then I got "mommy brain" and could barely concentrate long enough to read a magazine article.  I am glad that my dear husband encouraged me to start reading again.

2) What is your idea of the perfect day?
My perfect day would include a fun family activity in the morning (but not too early...) like going to the beach or a museum or hiking.  Afternoon would involve a delicious lunch that I didn't have to prepare or clean up after. A nap would be part of a perfect day. The evening would be spent going out to eat with my hubby, probably to Vino's where I recently ate the best meal of my life (the kids would miraculously be fed...).  Then after dinner I would spend quality time with my hubby. Also, somehow during this ideal day, my house would stay perfectly clean.

3) If you weren’t homeschooling, what sort of career would you have?
Well, my dream job would be to be an actress (stage, screen, TV, whatever) Once when I was in college my best friend and I made a timeline of our lives.  I have pretty much followed the timeline except that I haven't been in a made-for television movie, yet :) In reality (because an acting career would not exactly be the best job to combine with motherhood - and I would chose motherhood over acting every time), I would probably be a teacher. In fact, I am looking into what it would take for me to be able to teach English 101 classes at the university that my husband works at. I am thinking it would be a great job for me when the kids are older and definitely after they have flown the coop.

4) If you had the chance, what one famous person would you meet and why?
This was a hard question for me. I don't really get caught up in famous people, especially celebrities .  It seems to me that they are just regular people that took a certain life path. Although it was kind of fun to meet Josh Holloway... Anyway, I can't think of just one person that I am dying to meet.  I decided that I would arranged a dinner party with the following historical figures: Cleopatra, Michaelangelo, William Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Eva Peron, Martin Luther King Jr., and Albert Einstein... and maybe Josh Holloway...just kidding... or not, it could be fun to add a nice southern boy to this motley cast of characters.

5) If you could possess one talent (singing, painting, writing, etc) and be truly proficient in it, what would it be?
This one is easy.  I was just telling my hubby that I wished that I could sing like Kristin Chenoweth. There are many things that I am not good at (drawing, cooking, remembering things from one minute to the next), but if I could snap my fingers and have one talent that I currently don't, I would pick singing.

OK, I am supposed to tag 5 people and give them 5 questions to answer.

Here are my 5 people:

And here are my 5 questions:

1. If you had one super power to wish for (X-ray vision, invisibility etc.), what would it be and why?
2. What is your favourite book of all time?
3. What is your idea of the perfect day?
4. If you had the chance, what one famous person would you meet and why?
5. If you could possess one talent (singing, painting, writing, etc) and be truly proficient in it, what would it be?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Well, ever since school started it feels like lots and not much at the same time. We keep plugging along with school. We have had fun things to do, but not so many that I feel overwhelmed. I can't quite get everything done on my to-do list everyday, but I get enough done that I feel satisfied.

Here is what we've been up to lately:

Bleaching my hair blonde

Making Movies

Going to the pumpkin patch ( yes, they have them in Hawaii)

Writing and acting out plays

Participating in Laie's Fall Break play

Grandma and Grandpa coming to visit

Celebrating Kali's 10th birthday

Taking gymnastics classes

'Sup with you?

Friday, October 15, 2010 a review

I was recently ask to review the Individualized Writing Course offered by This company offers courses from one to twelve months in length. Students enrolled in the course work with their own private writing teacher via email and work on projects of their own choosing. I chose to try out the month long course.

Originally, I was going to just use the course for my 12 year old, but the company allows the option of more than one student sharing a writing consultant, so I decided include my 10 year old as well.  The catch is that the student(s) can only send one email to your writing consultant each day, so I had to keep track of whose day it was to sending their writing to the teacher.

Here is how the program works. The writing consultant begins by sending one email to the student and one to the parent. The consultant asks about the student and discusses what type of writing will be done.  You can choose any kind of writing. The consultant can help with a writing curriculum or project that you are already doing or the consultant can put together a writing plan.

Since we were just doing a month long course, I decide choose one of the project options listed on the website and I had my girls each do a personal essay. After my initial correspondence with the teacher, I only ended up emailing her one other time (more on that later). The teacher worked directly with my girls in choosing a topic and working through the writing process.

I really liked how the writing consultant drew ideas out of my girls by asking them questions. Here is an example of a message sent to my 10 year old who was writing a personal essay about why she dislikes pizza.

Hello! Thank you for your message and list of reasons you don’t like pizza. For next time, let’s build a paragraph about the sauce. Do you like tomato sauce on pasta, or do you dislike it on everything? In your paragraph, tell about why the sauce on pizza bothers you. How does it feel when you bite into it? How does it make you feel after you taste and feel it? Use examples of times you have touched or tasted pizza to bring the paragraph to life.

The teacher also taught my 12 year old about metaphor and personification and encouraged her to use it in her essay about why she likes water. During the editing process, the writing consultant will correct and teach grammar concepts.  My 12 year old learned about using commas after introductory clauses. 
One downside to this program was the scheduling.  And it was really my fault.  I inadvertently scheduled the course the month that my parents came to visit for a week. The girls did some writing during the visit, but we did miss a few days. This was the other time that I emailed the teacher. Then the last week of the course fell during our local public schools fall break.  We took the week off school to participate in a community play.  I completely forgot about the writing course - oops.  By the time I remembered, the course had ended. 
Another downside, is the cost. A one month course is $75 and goes up to $800 for a 12 month course.  The one month course isn't bad, but I can't imagine anyone spending even the $630 for a 9 month course.  But as Lee at Home Scholar always says, "Spend money on your weakness."  Writing isn't a weakness in our house. I have a pretty good grasp on writing and my husband is a professor who teaches academic writing for a living. If writing is a weakness though, WriteGuide,com is less expensive than Brave Writer's personalized writing help.
I would recommend this program to anyone who is struggling to teach writing.  A month or two month long course could really help walk the student and you, as the parent, through the writing process. I would also recommend this program for anyone who is working on an important writing project, such as a college essay and needs help with revising and editing. 
I felt terrible that we missed the end of our month long course.  The girls were very close to finishing their essays. I helped them complete them though and  I think they turned out really well.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

for Braeden

Two years ago today, one of my dearest friends lost her 10 month old son.
I can't imagine the grief that she experienced
that she is still experiencing
yet I am inspired by her strength
and the strength of other women that I have known who have lost children
I am grateful for the faith that I have
in a life after this one where these mothers
will be reunited with their little ones.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Please don't stop by my house at 11am

As you may have guessed, homeschooling can reek some serious havoc on an otherwise clean house. Most nights I am able to get my house cleaned and straightened up after the kids go to bed. I enjoy sitting around in my clean house for just a few minutes before bedtime. But then morning comes and the mess begins. By 11am it looks like a tornado has come through. At lunchtime, I tidy up a bit and the kids help clean up when we are done with school for the day, so the house is not a total disaster.  But at 11am, the house is a complete wreck. So if you are planning to stop by unannounced, please come by at another time. Unless you want to feel better about your own housekeeping...
at night after the kids are in bed


at night after the kids are in bed


at night after the kids are in bed


at night after the kids are in bed


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Future Fashion Designer?

My oldest daughter made these dresses out of tissues, yes, that's right, tissues. 

Didn't you hear? 
Kleenex dresses are all the rage this fall!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dust Gatherers

As I typed out my curriculum purchases and mentioned that I thought the Writing With Purpose books might be dust gatherers (I am pretty sure now that I have them that they will be...), I thought about the other curriculum that I have bought that have turned out to be dust gatherers.

Now it's not to say that these products aren't any good.  One family's dust gatherer might be another family's favorite curriculum. Here are the curriculum purchases that haven't gotten much use in our house.

The Usborne Internet Linked Science Encyclopedia - I bought this at the same time that I bought The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History .  I have used the world history one more because it is used as part of the Story of the World curriculum.  I just haven't found a way to work this into our school.  I have kept it around for the 5 years since I bought it. I keep hoping I will find a use for it in our homeschool.

The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - I bought this because I thought I needed to do more phonics with my oldest after we finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons.  We had finished 100 Lessons and she was just reading easy readers for about a year, but when she was almost 8, she hadn't made the leap to chapter books, so I got worried.  Shortly after I bought this book, something clicked and she has been a voracious reader ever since.  I sold the book at the end of the school year.

Many Math extras - When my oldest was in 3rd grade, we struggled with math.  Eventually, I discovered that part of the problem was the curriculum we were using (Abeka) and part of it was that she simply needed to solidly memorize her multiplication facts before we went any farther in math. But before my realization, I bought A LOT of math extras to try and help/spark interest in math.  These included a dominoes book, a geoboard book, Mia Math CD rom, Peggy Kaye's Games for Math, and Family Math. The girls played the Mia Math game a couple of times.  The rest I don't think ever got used.  Oh, I read Games for Math and Family Math from cover to cover and took notes, but I don't think I have ever actually used them with my kids.

Art Basics for Children - I don't think this even had time to gather dust.  This was one of those purchases where I wasn't able to get a good sense of what it was just from looking at it on the internet.  I sold it almost as soon as I got it.

Basic Not Boring Spelling  - I should have know better than to buy something designed for public school kids (And I should have remembered when I bought the Writing with a Purpose books this year...).  These workbooks were, well, boring.  I think my older 2 did 2 pages each before we stopped using them.

Hands on Equations - I bought this when I still thought I would use all of the math extras.  And hands on that sounds great, right?  We haven't gotten to algebra, yet, but I doubt we will use it.  There is just not enough time in the day/school year for all of the "great" hands on things.

Math Wrap Ups - These were used a few times and now just sit on a shelf.  We got slightly more use out of the states and capitals wrap up when my older 2 were learning those.

Winston Grammar - I bought the Basic teacher's manual and the cards used and acquired the Advanced level teacher's manual and student workbook.  I haven't used either of them.  They are too teacher intensive.  Kind of like Right Start (which I used for a while, but then sold and switched to Singapore). They are very hands on which is nice, but you know how it goes with hands on stuff...  Growing with Grammar is working really well for us, so I doubt these will ever get used.

Lyrical Science - I have the texts and CD's for Life Science 1, 2, and 3, and Earth Science, but I have never used them.  They seem like a good idea, but I can't seem to figure out how to use them in our homeschool.

Nitty Gritty Grammar - I think I needed to add something to an Amazon order to add up to $25.  I read it, but I doubt I will actually use it.

Number Jugglers - I bought this just last year. Did I not learn my lesson when I bought all the math extras several years ago?

Quarter Mile Math - Another one that seemed like a good idea, but my kids were bored by it.  The whole point was to make learning math facts more interesting, so I gave up making them play it after a couple of months.

But like I said, one person's dust gatherer might be someone else's treasure.  I am actually trying to sell the Winston Grammar and the Quarter Mile Math. If anyone is interested let me know.  And if anyone is interested in anything else on this list that I haven't already sold, feel free to make an offer on those too.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Many Faces of Arwen

Arwen has been borrowing my camera a lot recently and when I look at the pictures afterwards (deleting most of them), I find a bunch of self portraits.  Here are some of my favorites:

Bunny Arwen
Sassy Arwen
Upside down Arwen
Grumpy Arwen

The End