Thursday, September 15, 2011


Today has circled around my role in leadership and what I do. In times of both struggle and triumph, I often turn to the beautiful words of Rudyard Kipling.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beauty from Ashes

On the radio show I host I often refer to beauty from an impossible situation can lead to something precious. It never ceases to amaze me as I get the chance to talk with people all across the country who have made Beauty from Ashes. They inspire me.

Today we received our new handwriting book. J3 decided he wanted to tackle cursive this year. I gently handed him the book. He was so excited. It was his CURSIVE book - and it was BLUE!!! (ah, the things that make a difference to our children! lol).

I had him look at the letters and their shapes. I labeled the cursive letters in print so he could have a "comparison chart". I was ready to close the book for the day and move on.

Instead I heard, "Mom, can I start it right NOW!??!?!!?"

"Uh, sure."

Off he went, zealous and excited, planning to do 2-3 pages.

He didn't make it 2-3 pages. He did finish the page he was on.

He made a very good and legible row of E and e.

He made a slightly less spectacular row of B. And a completely illegible row of b.

I drew smiley faces over every good example and gave him a hug. We agreed to tackle b tomorrow again.

He gave me another hug and ran off.

All from the child who 3 years ago would cry at the sight of a pencil because of his public school trauma.

So I tell each and every one of you as I tell my radio show audience nearly every week:

There is hope. There is light. There is beauty from ashes. Embrace it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sounding Off

I'm done.

I'm done with the constant assumptions that you simply must have 20 children to homeschool.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying large families can't homeschool either. I think they're wonderful.

But I'm sick and tired of having the fact that I only have one child thrown in my face by people who just aren't thinking.

He's 8. I've been trying to get pregnant for 7 years. Clearly this isn't MY timing we're dealing with now - it's GOD'S.

If I hear one more time "save your curriculum in case you get pregnant" I might scream. Or better yet, "Maybe if you get rid of all of it, you'll get pregnant."

If I hear one more person come to me and say they're expecting and how on earth are they going to manage it and what were they thinking getting pregnant again I'm going to scream. I'd LOVE to have your problem. Please, pass your fertility onto me.

If I hear one more parent agonizing over how difficult it is to have so many or how awful their children are or how impossible it is to deal with the constant bickering I'm going to explode. Try NEVER having a sibling to fight with. Never having the opportunity to play a prank on your sister or have your brother stand up for you.

It's a lonely existence. I'd know. I was an only child until I turned 12 and in many, many ways I still am.

I'm so sick and tired of the garbage.


Yes, you can successfully homeschool an only child.
Yes, you can have a classroom of 1 and still manage to learn everything that needs to be taught.
Yes, you can create an environment of love and beauty without 1, 2, or 10 siblings to share it with.

Enough already. Back off of me and my son.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Purple Heart Day!!!

In 1782, the Continental Congress took a cost cutting measure preventing the awarding of rank for valorous service. Up until this time, individual achievements in battle were generally awarded with a promotion. In response, 2 military awards were created for servicemen. The first award authorized a chevron to be worn on the left sleeve for every 3 years of service given to the Continental Army. These chevrons are still in use today in all branches of the military on dress uniforms.

On August 7, 1782 in Newburgh, NY General George Washington commissioned the first badge of honor for valorous action in battle. I was designed by M. Pierre Charles L'Enfant who later designed the Nation's Capital City, Washington, DC. It was a piece of heart shaped purple cloth most often made of silk or cotton. It was edged in very narrow lace and contained white embroidery. The center featured a single word, "Merit". It was awarded for "any singularly meritorious action" and was named the Badge of Military Merit. This was the first time enlisted and non-commissioned officers could earn a badge of distinction.

Awards for service to any person serving in the military for valor disappeared after the American Revolution until the Civil War when the Medal of Honor was created.

On January 7, 1931 a new award was to be created in honor of the bicentennial of President George Washington's birth. Ms. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quarter designed a sketch based on Washington's Badge of Military Merit. It consisted of an enameled heart of purple edged in gold. George Washington's profile is in the center of the medal and it hangs from a purple ribbon edged in white. The back of the medal says "For Military Merit" and is usually engraved with the soldier's rank, name, and service branch.

Officially authorized on February 22, 1932 by President Herbert Hoover, the following General Order was issued:

"By order of the President of the United States, The Purple Heart established by General George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the war of the Revolution, is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.

The decoration is authorized to be awarded to persons who, while serving in the army of the United States, perform any singularly Meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity or essential service. A wound received in action may be construed as resulting from such an act."

It is one of the most recognized military medals in the world and is frequently considered to be one of the most beautiful.

For more information on the Purple Heart and the Badge of Military Merit, visit:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What on EARTH is going on in Georgia?!?!?!?

I turn on my computer this morning to have two very questionable articles cross my face within hours of each other.

The first, a tale of 3 girls who started a lemonade stand in Midland, GA to raise money to go to a water park this summer. Unfortunately those girls were shut down by the police for failure to have the correct permits costing $50 a day or $180 a year.

Not 2 hours later after a short swim in the backyard I return to learn that schools in Atlanta are cheating on tests and creating very poor learning environments for students including using intimidation and fear against students.

What the HECK is going on in GEORGIA!?!?!?!?!?!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just Like Me

This weekend, the NEA reaffirmed it's position on homeschooling:

"Home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience."

Of course, those of us within the homeschooling community know what a pile of bunk that is but the bottom line is that educators across the country and buying this tripe hook, line, and sinker. They are being pivoted against homeschoolers and putting us in the position of enemy.

I encounter a TON of educators. I'm friends and relatives with people who teach from the cradle at day care centers and preschools to VERY expensive high end colleges. There is nothing wrong with education administered by these people. They're wonderful and the vast majority of them are fantastic at their jobs with true hearts for their students.

However, I can't tell you how much these educators have been poisoned by the NEA against homeschoolers. Over and over they questioned me when I made the move to homeschool. They warned me of poor curriculum, substandard education, and how much this could hurt my son in the long run.

As time went on, they saw how I educate. They saw how much I love educating my son and how he has blossomed in home education. Time and again, they have told me, "If all homeschoolers educated like you, I wouldn't have a problem with them."

My response "Most homeschoolers DO educate just like me" because we DO! We're not creating a generation of substandard educated kids who are clueless about the world through homeschooling...

...but we are creating one through our public education system.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I so often hear homeschooling parents who are deeply concerned about "standards", especially from those who are new. While I realize that in some states, parents are required to submit to standardized testing and regulation of curriculum, the vast majority of states do not require these kinds of restrictions. So why do so many of us who don't have to be concerned with standardized testing and regulated curriculum care so much about "meeting the standards"?

Perhaps it is because we obsess with "grade level" questions. There are many places this happens. Some curriculum is based on "grade level" therefore making us constantly question what "grade" our child is in. Yet, even in those sources, what is "on grade level" isn't universal so it's a rather useless measure.

Then there are the questions that keep a homeschooling parent up at night.

"Is Timmy able to go back into school with the same class of kids he left?" It's a legitimate enough concern if you're only planning to homeschool for the short run, but long term, it's really not a sufficient concern. "Is he learning enough?" Most likely, yes. Children who are homeschooled repeatedly outperform their public school peers. And so on they rattle in the brain on sleepless nights.

I could go on about this for hours but the bottom line is that nationally developed standards don't even work. Each state is in charge of it's own education so the standards already vary from state to state. The new "national standards" are attempting to remedy that problem, however schools are consistently struggling with implementation and getting their already behind students to get caught up.

Children in public schools often appear to be running a race with an award at the end - a high school diploma. We continue to hold it slightly out of reach while forcing them to run faster and harder. It's almost like watching a cartoon of dogs racing with the "bait" dangling from the stick - ever elusive, ever just out of reach.

When are children are nearing that goal during their high school years, we begin to dangle another bait - college. Students who choose not to attend college are immediately looked down upon by their peers as the entire school is abuzz with who was accepted where and what they will be doing with their bright futures. Yet studies show far less students will ever reach this second bit of dangling bait with a diploma and those who do haven't always found it to be worth the cost of having a piece of paper.

I challenge you to try letting go of standards.

At first, the process is frustrating. Leaving public school established grade levels behind can be infuriating. Instead of constantly looking for "his grade" you'll have to start doing some homework. What, exactly is in the curriculum? What is covered? Dig into that table of contents and question ANY publisher who does not make their scope and sequence available to you as a consumer. "It's meant for __ grade" is not an answer, it's an excuse.

Consider stepping further outside of the box. You know what your children know. Allow them to become secure in their newfound knowledge. Perhaps it's time to let them pursue some interests that don't appear to be on the learning spectrum. In our home we're currently rebuilding a 1950's Willy's Wagon in school. You'd be amazed how much science and math it's taken...and it sure beats a textbook in the schoolroom. Practical experience beats textbooks every single time.

I'm often asked for a glimpse into our curriculum. I respond with the typical answer of publishers, books, and such that we are currently using in our home education program. To be frank, I believe I need to expand that. Our NEW curriculum is:

Math U See - Beta
Investigate the Possibilities - Elementary Physics
All About Spelling - 2
Catholic Heritage Handwriting - Level A
Homemade unit studies of the American Revolution

Building a 1951 Willy's Wagon Jeep
Putting in a new Garden
Building planter boxes for veggies, herbs and flowers
Planting apple trees
Researching and placing a windbreaker of shrubbery
Finding and researching insects we find
Watching Mythbusters
Watching Only In American w. Larry the Cable Guy
Church school
Taking care of our pets
Cooking classes

This could go on for pages - but I'll stop here...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Handmade Kindle Cover

Supplies needed:

2 Fat Quarters in complimenting fabrics - 3 if you want to get fancy...make sure 2 match
Cardboard (to create your pattern and your "fake Kindle" for checking fit, etc.)
1 piece of template material (for making quilt templates)
Low pile batting (if you want it soft and squishy - this will require the 3rd fat quarter)
2 pieces of thin (1/8") elastic
1 button

1. Trace your Kindle on the cardboard. Cut out 1 pattern of your Kindle. Label it A.

2. Take cardboard Kindle and place on cardboard. Measure out 1 1/2 full inches in every direction. Cut the "larger Kindle". Label it B.

3. Trace the "larger Kindle" side by side with itself, like an open book. Draw a straight line across the "dips" in the middle (or leave them for a more stylized look - but it's more difficult to sew). Cut out the 3rd pattern. Label it C.

4. Place A on top of B. Measure diagonally across the corners for a triangular piece of fabric which will hold the Kindle in place. When you measure it, meaasure 1/2 inch beyond where you want it to sit on the Kindle. This will be a seam allowance for later. Cut the triangular piece out of cardboard. Label it D.

5. Out of the material that you want to make the outer cover, cut 1 C pattern. Out of the material you want to be the primary inner pattern, cut 1 C pattern. Out of a contrasting material to the inner material, cut 4 D patterns.

6. Cut 2 B patterns out of the template plastic. You may make these about 1/2 inch down total OR trim as needed toward the end. I recommend trimming at the end if you don't mind losing a small bit of template fabric.

7. (if desired) Cut 1 C pattern out of the batting reducing the pattern by 1/2 inch in each direction to allow for seam allowances. You will need an additional C pattern as well in any coordinating fabric.

8. Measure elastic across B pattern and cut two taught pieces across the cover (stretched to help hold Kindle in place).

9. Cut 1 small piece of contrasting fabric to make the closure. This can be made as a strap to button or as a loop. Designer's choice! :)

10. Cut the inner C pattern in half so it "matches" the B pattern.

11. Hem the 4 D patterns across the long portion of the triangle with a minimum of a 1/4" seam allowance.

12. To the right half of the halved inner C pattern, sew the two piece of elastic on - one for the bottom and one for the top. Sew them to the front side of the fabric. Sew only on the left side. Measure to your A pattern to check for distance.

13. Sew the two left triangles onto the inner C pattern right side sewing the outer corners and leaving the inner corner "free" with the elastic coming out from the inside.

14. Hem, sew, or otherwise create the strap or loop for the closure of the cover.

15. Attach the strap or loop to close the Kindle to the right side of the inner C pattern on the right side.

16. Hem the left side of the right half of the C pattern using a 1/4" seam allowance.


17. Take the extra C pattern and lay the "inside" of the Kindle using the halves of the C pattern you just sewed. Check the positioning as this will be the "inside" of your Kindle cover.

18. Pin these pieces in place. Cover with the outer C pattern facing downward so the part you will see is sandwiched in the middle. Pin in place.

19. Sew outer edge around project leaving one of the short sides open for turning, stuffing, and hand stitching.


17. Lay your outer C pattern right side UP.

18. Place your two inner C patterns you cut in half on top and pin in place leaving a small gap in the center. Make sure they are facing down so you are seeing the "wrong" side of the fabric.

19. Sew outer edge around project leaving one of the short sides open for turning and hand stitching.


20. Turn right side out. Stuff with batting if desired. Sew remaining area with blind stitches.

21. Opening the cover, slide the two B template pieces inside. These may require trimming as previously mentioned.

22. Place the Kindle inside and a notebook on the opposite side if desired. Stretch your loop/strap closure around to the front and pin where you will need to place the button.

23. Remove inner items and attach button.

24. Restuff and enjoy!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Sociable Sue trying to be a Perfect Paula teaching a Competent Carl

For those of you who have NO clue what I'm saying, allow me to elaborate. :)

My mother is the most wonderful person on earth. Really. She's fantastic. She was so organized as a child my grandmother used to take her friends into my mother's room and show them how perfect it was. She even earned the nickname "Peggy Perfect" from friends and family as a school-aged child.

So you can understand that her perfectly organized, extremely type A, beautifully wonderful person is, in Cathy Duffy's terms, a Perfect Paula.

I spent my whole childhood knowing I wasn't like the other kids. I didn't learn like them. I didn't look at the world the way they did. Music was background noise to them. It was what moved my soul. My entire being focused around my music because it was a way I could please the people around me using my gifts. I am a Sociable Sue.

People often think chatty people are Sociable Sues. That's not really what it's about. Sociable Sue's are the textbook people pleaser. We don't come second, or third. We put ourselves at the bottom of the list and devote 100% of our energy to pleasing other people. We're often artists and musicians. Our entire and total language is making other people happy. It's truly where we find our bliss. It's our every happiness.

Being the daughter of a Perfect Paula, I tried to be like my mother. Always having it together. Always being perfect. Always trying to do it all, have it all, be it all. Because, in my heart, I wanted to BE like my mother. It would make her happy. It would make the people around me happy. People LIKE Perfect Paula's.

It's kind of the ultimate irony.

So, up until a few weeks ago, I was a Sociable Sue trying to be a Perfect Paula teaching a Competent Carl.

Perfect Paula's make great homeschool moms. They're the ones who have it all together and have the perfect curriculum and perfect little smiles on their 6 perfect children's faces.

Reading Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschooling Curriculum opened my eyes. To me this book was SO very much more than about homeschool curriculum. It showed me, in simple black and white terms, why I couldn't possibly be happy with what I've been doing.

Because I can't be a Perfect Paula any more than I could be those kids on the school ground. I can't learn the way they learn. I can't do things the way they do them. Because I'm not a Perfect Paula. I'm just not.

I'm a Sociable Sue.

I'm vibrant with piles of energy. I love people and I love to be surrounded by them. I'm a free wheeling, fun loving, crazy to the point of almost being insane person.

And somewhere in the middle of trying to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect person, I forgot I needed to be me too.

I forgot to embrace that side of me. To be happy and free. To be that person with a crazy love for life. I forgot what it was like to dance in the rain..yes, literally dance in the rain. I dragged a bunch of my college classmates out of the building one day in the middle of a class and we went out and danced in the rain.

That's who I was.

That's who I AM.

And now that I've found it again, I'm not letting it go. I'm not going to try and be something I'm not anymore to try and make the people around me happier. I'm going to be me. Crazy, fun loving, emotional, borderline psychotic but so much fun to be with you just can't put me down. I'm that wild book you always wanted to read, that crazy woman in the movie that, secretly, you wonder what it would be to be like. I'm a lounge singer, a church cantor, and I sing lullabies to the most beautiful, wonderful little boy on this earth.


And I'm not hiding anymore.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Homeschool Handbook Review

I'll freely admit I'm not a big blogger, but it was easier to write down my thoughts here and organize them.

I just received a free copy of the current issue of The Homeschool Handbook. First off, I'm blown away and amazed at both the content and variety. I'm always on the lookout for new "Mommy" resources that are helpful, uplifting, and cover a wide variety of issues.

Some homeschool magazines are very narrowly dedicated to primarily one thing. They seem to pick one area to focus on in homeschooling such as curriculum reviews, teaching methods, working with younger children, etc. The thing that surprised me most is there really was something for EVERYONE in this magazine...and that's quite a feat when you consider how vastly different homeschooling families can be.

I found articles on everything from teaching primary colors to educating ADD kids. There was a plethora of information presented in a fun, engaging format that was both easy to read and simple to use.

My FAVORITE feature of this particular magazine is in the back. There's a HUGE list of all the advertisements and discussed curriculum indexed by page number with website listings. No more digging through trying to figure out what on earth this or that was. It's a HUGE asset to this magazine and a wonderful addition for moms like me who are always searching and forgetting where they found a certain resource. Simply Fantastic!!!

I can definitely say I would recommend this magazine to any homeschooling mom. There is valuable information there for every parent to find.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Congrats to our Illinois Friends

Friends and Families in Illinois, thank you for standing up for your freedoms!!! I couldn't be prouder of each and every one of you.

Here is a link to a video of the 4000 homeschoolers who gathered to have their voices heard. JOB WELL DONE!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm often quoted as saying I "Seuss-School". On a boat, on a train, in a car, on a plane.


Many Moms ask how we keep going "on the go" so often and don't miss a beat when it comes to DS's outstanding education. I'm often asked when I pack for a trip "Where are you going NOW!?!?!?!" lol It cracks me up but truth is we both like being on the go and relish our chances to explore the world.

Here's how we make it happen.

When we're on the road, we use an expandable file folder with 13 pockets. Those pockets include EVERYTHING that needs to be accomplished for the day. He can do them in any order he wants, I don't care. I just want it accomplished before bed, the end of the car trip, whatever. In those pockets are everything from a worksheet or two, to a science experiment that can be performed at a stopping location, to a history lesson involving another stopping location for the day, to directions to complete a computerized lesson, to a deck of cards for a game of Rummy.

These "activities" serve two purposes.

1. I survive the trip without needing to use duct tape. :)

2. He schools on the go with VERY little help from me. He can keep himself busy and occupied. He also has the added ability to physically SHOW others that homeschooling WORKS.

About a year ago, we were taking Amtrak to visit family. We like to hang out in the lounge car. Lots to see and do and we usually get into conversations with all KINDS of entertaining humans. DS curled up in a seat and since there weren't any kids around settled down playing his Leapster while a talked with an elderly lady and a college student.

The older woman looked over and said, "What's that game thing he's playing with?" DS hopped over and showed her his Leapster, explaining the features and letting her see what it did. After he went back to playing on his own she turned to me and said, "I had NO idea things like that existed! Why, kids don't even need school anymore! They can teach themselves!!!"

I could have burst with pride.

YES, he can teach himself. I'm THRILLED he can do it. I'm ECSTATIC he WANTS to do it.

And I'm very happy that he's keen on doing it on the go.

Now I'm off to create another Seuss-School plan for this week when we take another 2 day train ride. Not sure we'll be doing much off board with the weather but I think a unit study on the Mississippi River might be fun.... :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Children Will Learn When They're Ready To Learn

How many times have you heard that thrown around a Homeschooling board???

Quite by accident, we have proven that right.

Our little student struggles with math. He's 7, ahead in everything but math and writing.

In November when my family was visiting, they were well meaning, but very concerned about his math. He was struggling with basic addition....greatly.

In Dec, I threw my hands up at schooling and took that month off because J2 was home from work. J3 spent his "schooltime" playing JumpStart and Leapster Explorer.

We just ran through a set of addition flash cards - 0+0 thorough 12+12 - 55 random problems. Guess who got 54 out of 55?



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