Wednesday, September 5, 2018

2018-2019 Homeschool Year

We started back on August 13; however, I am just now finding the time to write about our curriculum and schedule for this year. It has been that hectic. With one senior and one sophomore, the workload is heavier -for them and for me- and also increasingly challenging. To add a little more stress  excitement, my senior is also working part-time. Plus, I still have my writing, which sometimes means early mornings and late nights to ensure that I meet deadlines. On a side note, look for exciting news about my writing coming soon. For now, though, let's continue with the homeschool discussion. We typically school five days a week, Monday through Friday, although we've already had to do some school on a couple of Saturdays in order to make up for missing some school time due to issues that arose during the week. Since I have high schoolers, most of their work is done independently. I check over it, and then we go over any corrections that need to be made. Some subjects, such as Literature, History, and the Sciences, are interactive in our home. We discuss ideas and themes, events and people, and do labs together. I'm also available to facilitate in other subjects as needed. I believe in teaching students to learn independently, and I've been fostering that type of environment since we started our homeschool journey in 2006.

I use a mix of different curricula. I choose based on the learning style of each child and also what fits my teaching style; it's important that you take both into consideration. Also, one other piece of advice before I share what we're using this year: be prepared. Plan, plan, plan. I spend around two months each summer planning our homeschool year. I block out around one-two hours 3-4 days a week over that time period and research options, buy materials, familiarize myself with the materials, see how many days/weeks it will take to finish each subject, and then loosely plan the year. That works for me. Find your style and then make planning work for you.

*My Senior's Curriculum
Psychology and You
Forensic Science Fundamentals and Investigations
American Government Balancing Democracy and Rights
Fundamentals of Economics
Math-U-See Pre-Cal & Trig
Memoria Press The Iliad & The Odyssey Set
Art Appreciation
Word: The Poet's Voice

*My Sophomore's Curriculum
First Form Greek
Art Appreciation
Word: The Poet's Voice
Math-U-See Geometry Set
History Odyssey Ancients Level 3
Ancient Literature
High School Chemistry in Your Home
Analytical Grammar

*Don't freak out too much at the prices. I didn't buy all of these new. Some I borrowed from friends and many I found on Paperback Swap and Thrift Books.

If you have any questions, please ask. Also, I'd love to hear about the materials that you're using and about how you plan and schedule your homeschool year. Let me hear from you soon!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Be You, Be Beautiful

"But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow"
                                                      -Cyndi Lauper

"You've changed." 
Oh, my, how I've heard these words recently! This statement has ranged in meaning from my views to my depression and almost everything in between the two. It's been spoken like it's an accusation. It's been said with irritation. These words have even been spoken as a reason that I'm harder to love or as something that makes it too difficult to keep me as a friend. 

But, you know what? This is who I am. I have depression. I will not apologize for that. It's part of me. My views? Yes, they've evolved. I've become more informed. I don't want to stay the same, anyway. I find that quite undesirable. I do not want to be stagnant. I choose to be a lifelong learner. Plus, in many ways I'm still the same:
kind, loving, compassionate, giving, bookish, feisty, wine-drinking, Netflix-watching, writer. If people would spend some time with me, they would see this; however, it's not my problem if they choose not to do so. I'm content with the people who are currently in my life and with the friends that I believe I will make in the future.

The older I get, the more comfortable I am with me. I love who I am. I want to surround myself with people who also love me for me. I won't simply be "tolerated." I expect to be loved, appreciated, and celebrated. It's taken me a long time to arrive at this place, and I won't allow anyone to take it away from me. It's an especially hard-won battle for someone with depression, but I've earned this victory and have the scars to prove it.

I feel beautiful in my own skin. I will continue to be true to who I am. For the ones who truly love me, I love you, too, and you all are wonderful examples of being real. To everyone, never be afraid to show your true colors. Your real life - and your real friends - are out there waiting!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I've noticed that there is a disturbing lack of compassion in the world today. One look at Facebook and it's obvious. So many people are not willing to put themselves in others' places and imagine what it might feel like to be in a different place in life. I cannot understand this. In this day and time, there is no excuse for ignorance. Through the internet and global news, it is quite simple for us to be aware of the plight and struggles of others. It's not for lack of information that people are ignorant; it is by choice.

Furthermore, I cannot fathom the hate that spews out of the mouths of some people. Aren't we to love? Aren't we to reach out to other humans, regardless of race, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation? So many problems could be solved if people were willing to truly love one another - unconditionally and without judgment. Trust me, it's possible - even rewarding - to love someone who is different from you.

All I know to do is to spread love and compassion everywhere I go. That is what I try to do. I cannot change the whole world in one broad sweep, but I can change my own outlook and give of myself in the best way I know how. That is my goal for this year and for the rest of my life. My prayer is that one day soon the rest of the world will join me.

Monday, November 6, 2017

When You're Judged as Not "Christian" Enough

"Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure
will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the
wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see
clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." -- Matthew 7: 1-5
There appears to be a movement, and I'm on the outskirts. It's not that I want to be a part of this group, anyway. I don't care to sit in judgment of others; I'd rather love them and try to understand their views, even when I don't agree with them. But now this "I'm better than you because I don't do (fill in the blank here) or I don't participate in this thing or I don't allow my kids to do that thing" movement has affected me personally because I have been openly criticized for choosing to do certain things and for allowing my kids to do certain things. Both my parenting and my Christianity have been called into question. And that, my friends, is not okay.

I have to wonder if these same people spend as much time praying for me about my battle with major depressive disorder and suicidal ideation and my challenges in being a mother to a child who is severely mentally insufficient and legally blind as they do in judging me for perceived "sins" in my life. They certainly haven't reached out to offer me any sort of tangible help or encouragement. I recall that Jesus said those who follow Him would be known by their love. I'm not really feeling the love here.

Furthermore, as a person with major depressive disorder and suicidal ideation, life is a balancing act. All it takes to knock me off balance is one push. When people say hurtful things about me, ostracize me, look down their noses at me, or judge me as not quite holy enough, it can trigger a catastrophic episode. All the progress I've made can come to a halt and then spiral and crash back down to rock bottom. This is what happened to me last night as a result of things that people said about me. I was right back in the darkness and irrationality that put me in the psychiatric section of the hospital this past January. I was in the kitchen again, and I had a plan. My husband had to stop me and calm me down. It was scary, and it was ugly. I eventually settled down, though, because I did not want to go back to the hospital. But, see, words hurt. Being judged crushes a person. This is true for all people, too, not just for those of us who are diagnosed with some type of mental illness. Plus, it's not your place to tell someone that he/she shouldn't celebrate a certain holiday or dance or have one glass of wine once a month.

I'm writing this post to make you aware of the damage you can do when you speak critically of others. Your words can have far-reaching consequences that you might not intend for them to have. So, think before you speak. If it's not edifying, then don't say it. If you're not saying it directly to the person you're discussing, then don't say it. Talking behind someone's back is cowardly, and it's also gossip - even if you preface it by saying "Please pray for...negative...judgemental statement...criticizing..." Show love. Extend mercy. Overflow with grace. Live like Jesus.

"Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded" -- Casting Crowns

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Poe Party

I'd been missing the early days of our homeschooling years, when my children were "little," and school was fun. I longed for the excitement of activities we all looked forward to doing and the memory-making times of the past. Well, thankfully, I discovered that homeschooling high school can also be fun! I want to give a huge thank you and a shoutout to fellow homeschool high school blogger, Nerdy Little Birdie, for inspiring me. She shared a wonderful idea for a poetry party, and it sparked a fire in me. So, I took that desire and combined it with my love for Edgar Allan Poe. We studied his life and poetry throughout the month of October, and then we culminated our studies by having a Poe Party. Here are some of the highlights I'd like to share with you.

I printed out quotes, framed them, and placed them in various places in the dining room. I purchased the candleholders and raven on the pumpkin decor from Target.

We decorated coffee mugs with black Sharpies and then baked them in the oven to set the designs. Here you see the famous 'Nevermore' quote from Poe's well-known poem "The Raven."

And here, obviously, is a raven.

Another raven.


The 11th grader painted this to represent the last stanza of Poe's poem "Annabel Lee."

The 9th grader sketched this and then colored only the couple to convey artistically the meaning of the second stanza of "Annabel Lee."

We had a delicious apple crisp dessert while we took turns reading and discussing quotes of Poe's.

We wore these "masques" so we could be like the revelers in "The Masque of the Red Death." Well, not EXACTLY like them. We're still alive, thankfully!

We had a simple dinner: veggie nuggets, vegetables & ranch, & wine-for those 21 and over only!

More decor on the piano.

Vegetables and ranch for the party.

Cheese & crackers for an appetizer.

Tabletop decor - all purchased at Target.

More decor, printed by me or purchased at Target.

Finally, a coffee mug with the first stanza of "The Raven" printed on it.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Bitter Truth

Most of us eventually reach a certain place that will never allow us to go back to the place we used to be. We know too much. Our eyes have seen far too many things. Our hearts have been asked to bear more pain than any one human should have to stand. The answers we thought we had suddenly blow up in our faces, leaving us wounded and gasping for air. We look for new answers, but can find none that satisfy.

It's as if a hole has been ripped through our chests. The sorrow is tangible; we feel it in every painful breath we draw and every morning when we open our eyes. We long for our younger days - the days when we thought we knew the answers and could wrap difficult concepts up in neat little packages. But we got older, and the hard things got harder. There is no explanation now. We don't have one. Nobody has one. We're forced into this enigma of pain and cynicism, and there is no escape.

We are locked in this world where so many things don't make sense. This is hard for me to accept, and the older I get, the harder I gets. I can't imagine that it will ever get better. This is where I am now, and I can never go back.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Legacy of Love and Faith

This year I've had to bid farewell to the last of my grandparents - my father's mother and father. While I'm sad to see them go, I know that I will one day see them again in my eternal home in Heaven, where they are already rejoicing together. This knowledge brings me both peace and joy.

My grandparents celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary just a few months before my grandfather passed away this past March. How amazing is that? 75 years of love and faithfulness, which included three children, my grandfather's service in World War II, the path to my grandfather's recovery after his stroke, and the countless misadventures that my granddaddy always managed to have. He was stubborn and quite a handful, but my grandmother loved him deeply, just as he loved her. 

Once my grandfather was gone, my grandmother was lost without him. He was truly the light of her life and her best friend. She thrived on the act of taking care of him. It was how she showed love. She served, whether it be through her delicious cooking or through her prayers for her family. She was a strong woman; saying goodbye to her this week was hard, yet we smile at the precious memories that will sustain us as the years go by.

They leave me with big shoes to fill. A marriage like theirs doesn't come along every day. It doesn't just happen. It takes work. It requires endurance. It needs faith. It calls for sacrifice. My grandparents are examples of all of that. Their faith is a testimony to the love and goodness of God. Throughout their lives - in times of joy and sorrow - they clung faithfully to the Father. I am inspired to walk in faith as they did. My grandfather said many things while he was alive, but two things that I will always remember and strive to live in light of are the following:

"If you want to know how much God has blessed me, just go outside and look at the stars at night. That's how many blessings God has given me."

"I know the reason that I made it back safely from the war. It's because Lucille [my grandmother] was on her knees every day praying for me."

This is their legacy. I have been blessed.

2018-2019 Homeschool Year

We started back on August 13; however, I am just now finding the time to write about our curriculum and schedule for this year. It has be...