Monday, December 17, 2007

How our pets make life not-so-boring

Well, I am well into my second trimester now with the pregnancy. We don't yet know what we are having, but I just had blood work/tests done last week to make sure everything is normal. For anyone who prays that may read this, please say a prayer for us that all is normal.

Being in the second trimester, you would think the nausea should pretty much be gone. However, it has gotten worse for me. I have thrown up so many prenatal vitamins that I could have bought an extra bottle. I try to take them as I am going to bed, but many times I am back up in the bathroom 5 minutes after I lie down. Sometimes it's a smell, sometimes the thought/fear of throwing up seems to help trigger it. I know, a lot of it is in my head.

The animals aren't helping me, either. Last week, our 12-year-old Golden Retriever decided that he must protect our house (where our yard backs up to a large hay field) from a curious skunk who wandered into the yard. Well, not only did the dog get sprayed, but he managed to chase the skunk under my van just before the spraying occurred. If you've never smelled anything freshly sprayed by a skunk, you may not recognize the smell upon the initial moments. In fact, I was not sure the skunk was the culprit of his stink at first.

So, I angrily (I have to be angry because he won't go into the bathroom unless I threaten him) get him to the tub and shut the door. Why not bathe outside, you may ask? Well, it was after 8 p.m., and I didn't want to hold him by his collar the entire time. So, as I shut the bathroom door, I am overwhelmed by the smell and begin my now-seemingly-nightly routine of throwing up. We were out of the tea tree oil shampoo I usually use on him (great for ticks and fleas in the summer months, and good for sensitive skin). So, I proceed to use whatever I can get my hands on. First, it was the kids' Vanilla Scream shampoo. It didn't touch it. Then, I got my Suave White Lily and Aloe shampoo. Again, nothing, but the skunk smell was more prevalent now. At least it was not how he smelled before (so strong you couldn't even tell that it was a skunk). After the Suave shampoo, I tried some orange and ginger body wash I had on hand.

Now, many of you are saying, "tomato juice," but, I didn't have any on hand, and where I live, you don't make a trip to town for a can of tomato juice. So, I managed to give him the bath, and then set him out on the back porch. This all occurred last week on Wednesday night. It has been 4 days now, and the smell is still there. Thank goodness it has diminished quite a bit. I haven't bought tomato juice. All the guides I have read online give a peroxide + baking soda + liquid dish soap recipe that is supposed to be more effective. I did this yesterday, and it has helped quite a bit. I had gone to the pet store on Thursday for some skunk odor removal solution. I discovered later it is mostly citronella oil. It helped a little, but the peroxide recipe has been the most effective. I have also periodically treated him with the Gold Bond powder (I'd rather smell the menthol than skunk). It is much more tolerable. Luckily, the smell in my car only lasted about 3 days.
The cat has managed to throw up on the linoleum a couple of times, which has helped my daily appointment with the porcelain throne (at least it was on the linoleum). I can smell his litter box as soon as he uses it, so my oldest has been on litter box detail for a while. I have to admit, I have been a dog person all my life, but even with the litter box, the cat is so much cleaner than any dog I've ever had. He sleeps with me every night, which will probably have to change when the baby arrives. Here's his favorite place to sleep (besides across my big belly). . . under the Christmas tree.
We also have a dwarf hamster that luckily is not responsible for any of my nausea. He only uses one place to go to the bathroom, and his cage does not get too messy. He's also very tame. The girls enjoy holding him, and the cat likes to stare into his cage. He's close to three-years-old now, so I don't know how much longer to expect him to live. It will be a chore keeping the baby away from his cage if he's with us for another year. I don't see another hamster in our near future after this one because of the baby.

So, there you have it, our official food chain. It is as complete as it will ever be. After the skunk fiasco, I have sworn off having another large dog in the house. Especially one that sheds like our Golden. Our next dog will be a non-shedding breed. And that may not be for another 4-5 years. I'll just be glad when I can normally clean up after them all again. I despise the nausea, but at least my 8-year-old does not complain when I ask her for help. She's seen me gag enough lately (tonight I threw up because I had a hair in my mouth... my own hair).

The next post will be much more pleasant. We find out the baby's gender on the 27th (hopefully, unless legs are crossed or something like that).

Friday, November 9, 2007

I want to live at DisneyWorld

And who wouldn't? We recently returned after a 4-day stay on the Disney grounds in Orlando, FL. It had been 25 years since I had been. We decided this fall would be better to go than next fall, when I'll be dragging a 5-month-old baby around diapering and feeding every 2 hours. I guess feeding the baby in lines would not be so bad, but having to change diapers and carry a diaper bag around do not appeal to me. So, this year we went, and we'll go again when the baby is older.

Watching my girls and their amazement was worth the trip, but it's hard not to get sucked into the magic of Disney.

We felt so pampered the entire time we were there, and did not want to leave. The food was amazing. I highly recommend that anyone get the Dining Plan they offer. We were never hungry. And staying on the grounds is a must in my book. Not having to worry about parking every day was really nice.
If our family was not in Tennessee, I'd move our family down to Orlando and work at Disney. I'd even clean the toilets (well, once the nausea subsides from pregnancy). All the toilets have automatic flush features there, so how bad could it be?

I could go on about our trip, but all I can say is that if you have kids, at least one trip to Disney in their early childhood is highly recommended.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I didn't fall off the face of the planet.

I am still here. It's been SO long since I last posted, but I have to say that I have an excuse. Those of you who are my close friends already know this, so the next few sentences will be a bit boring for you. For those who may be here that aren't necessarily close contacts, I discovered in late August that my family is expecting an addition. Yes, baby #3 for me. I was hit like a ton of bricks with shock. I had resolved that I was done with my family (though I had not done anything permanent about it). So, I walked around like a zombie for at least a week. I didn't eat or sleep for the first three days (those two activities still haven't returned to any form of normalcy). But my mind is trying to regain some ground. Ha-ha. I am 12-weeks along now. That puts the due date in early May. I'm pushing for May 5 (5/5 would be easy to remember), or 4/28 (multiples are easy to remember as well). Anyway, here's a picture of the little bean at 9 weeks (the head is on the right, and you can see nubs for the arms/legs).

After this one is born, I will be having my tubes tied. As I told my husband, I don't feel that my body was meant to be a baby-makin' factory, nor am I willing to subject it to childbirth when I'm pushing 40. My husband is totally against himself getting the "snip-snip" (he claims that he doesn't feel that the Lord is telling him that is what he needs to do right now). I think it's a cop-out, but since insurance will pay for mine and I'll already be there, I will make the "sacrifice" and let my doctor do the procedure. I really wanted him to do the Essure procedure, but he does not do it yet. It would be much easier on me, because there are no incisions, and there is no chance of the tubes growing back together (because they aren't cut). Essure is basically tubal inserts, putting micro surgical inserts into your tubes and letting scar tissue build around them over time (it usually takes around 3 months, so you have to use another form of birth control until then).

Last weekend, my oldest daughter and I went camping with our Girl Scout troop. I'd post pictures, but I'll have to protect the privacy of the other kids in the troop. We had a great time, and I got some much-needed adult conversation with my closest friends. It was exhausting and relaxing all at the same time. We had a really nice cabin, much better than last October, when we had screens for windows, the temperature dropped below freezing at night, and our space heaters wouldn't work because the circuit breaker kept tripping off.

This weekend (tomorrow to be exact), we leave for DisneyWorld! It's been nearly 25 years since I've been (Epcot had just been built when I was there last). It's been even longer for my husband. We wanted to go next year, (it's always been our plan to go in the off-season), but we realize that it won't be as pleasurable with a 5-month old who will need to be changed and fed every 2 hours (which, history has shown, defaults to my job, since I have all the feeding "equipment," and my husband has never done diapers). If we wait until baby #3 will remember it, our oldest will almost be too old to enjoy it (pushing 13, so we don't know if she'll be too "cool" or not).

I'll be sure to post pictures from the trip when we return. I have a lot of packing to do today, so until then, au revoir!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Can I get a clone of me?

You know, it's been a few days since I've posted. It's been crazy at my house. Hubby has announce that the room upstairs has a deadline of 6 weeks now. I suppose that is reasonable enough. I also have some project deadlines for proofreading that I have to work on. Wish I had more of me around. If I did, I may try some video conferencing to get my work done more efficiently. Or even better, I'd use my clone to work on the cleaning around the house, while I did some video conferencing with my family and friends in other states.

The thought leads me to a mom's blog (and eBay auction) which stirred quite a lot of traffic on the internet last week. A mother of 6 kids posted some Pokemon cards that her kids sneaked into her cart. She provided a "day in the life" in her description, and as a result of her gift for words and humor, she now has countless emails coming to her every day (now there is someone who could use some video conferencing). I can't imagine getting back to the numbers of emails that she has had flooding her inbox.

That leads me back to my work... time to find my red pen and start a-markin'! Before I leave, here's a picture of our turbo kitty who has now discovered that the sand and dirt in our houseplants should be something to play in. He really doesn't look like he'd be that fast in this picture, but if I waited until he was in "play mode" I'd never get a picture of him! My daughter loves to hold him while watching TV, and occasionally, he takes a peek at the tube too. This happened to be one of those moments.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My life flashed before my eyes today.

Ok, I'm being melodramatic, but it surprisingly took the wind out of me today when my oldest daughter actually went through with getting her ears pierced (which I had supported for a long time). I watched the entire thing, and I did not think that I would be the one who would break out in a cold sweat after it was all done. I really thought I was going to pass out in the middle of the mall! I did not expect it to affect me that way. I felt almost sick, and I was the one who approved the whole procedure to start with (her daddy was not gung-ho about it, but he went along with it). She already has a whole list of what she wants to put in them after her starter studs are out. Never a wimper or a cry today, either, which was a huge step for her. She hardly even felt it, she said. I am proud of her for facing her fears, and she's extra proud of the result.

Before the escapade at Claire's, I took the girls to gymnastics. They had a blast. The oldest has nailed several cartwheels in the last 24 hours (she finally figured out how to do a really good one about 10 minutes before we left for class). She also did a good first-time one-handed cartwheel today, as well as good practice on the balance beam, back rolls, bridges, and some "quick" handstands (ok, if you blinked you would have missed it). The younger one did some great back rolls today, and worked on all sorts of jumping and coordination skills as well.

Yesterday, we had registration for our brownie troop. We'll have 5 or 6 girls this year, which is a great number to work with. We were able to catch up today with school. The oldest is loving Rosetta Stone (we are using library access to go through the Latin program). Math seems to be getting easier for her as well. She is starting to understand what it takes to nail the timed facts practice sheets with her Saxon workbook.

I am going through training with an online company right now. I have 7 more tests to take in 8 more days, so my schedule to get those done is pretty tight. I also have 2 more guides to finish proofing by next Friday. I certainly don't wish my life away, but the rigorous testing schedule to which I have to adhere is hopefully going to be worth it when I am certified with the company. More about it when I am able to go into more depth.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My educational background, working outside the home vs. at home

A big reason I decided to homeschool is summed up in the following sentence: I'm a former public school teacher. I taught high school English literature, grammar, and composition to 7th, 9th, and 10th graders. I've homeschooled my children from the beginning, and don't plan on ever sending them to the pit of public schools. I graduated 2nd in my class of about 300 students, and with honors in college. My husband and I got married when I was 19 and he was 21, just after completing our second year in college (he decided to go back to school after we started dating during my senior year in high school). I've not had the desire to go back for my master's degree. Next year my state professional teaching license expires, but I am not seeking renewal. If I ever need to go back and teach in a formal classroom setting, I'll go to a private school, and then go and do whatever requirements they may hold. If I cannot teach in a private school, then I'll find work elsewhere.

I'm exploring several options to make extra money at home, one of those avenues being expanding my freelance editorial services. I have not actively sought out more clients, which is reflected by the sporadic nature of the work that is assigned to me. I'm also going to be more persistent about getting listings up on eBay. I really need to get rid of a LOT of junk in my house. I also am working on a few other independent contractor projects that I will try to squeeze in from time to time. One is still in the application phase, so when that comes to fruition I'll explain it a little more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some general homeschooling and life goals for my kids

You may have already figured from past posts that I'm not the most conservative of moms out there. But here's a list of things I want for my kids as a result of homeschooling.

1. To love the Lord and make Him an intregal part of their lives.
2. To be Christians without being prudish.
3. To be natural leaders without being dictators and without running over anyone else.
4. To know how to have fun without succumbing to peer pressure.
5. To know that they can do their best, but still won't always get 1st place, and take pride in their work regardless of place.
6. To make mistakes and be better educated as a result of correcting those mistakes.
7. To remember the importance of family.
8. To be prepared and well-rounded, not overly sheltered.
9. To be lifelong learners, understanding how to find the answers that they seek in life and knowledge.

In reference to number 8, I am sure I've stirred some pretty strong feelings here among homeschoolers. I will be the first to admit that I am homeschooling my children to shelter them. However, I may choose to expose them to something that I would not be comfortable about them being exposed to in a public school. I'd rather be prepared to explain to my kids about issues that are questionable. I also make mistakes in front of my children. They do not see me as perfect. Nor do I want them to. That sets up some pretty sore disappointments later in life when they realize the truth. I want them to realize that I struggle daily in various aspects of my life. I don't want them to think that being an adult is easy and that life gets easier.

I could go on about sheltering, but I fear that I have already opened a Pandora's Box, and I certainly don't want to lead anyone into thinking that I allow my kids to do outlandish things. Life requires balance and temperance, and there are some in religious circles who I believe take some things way too seriously. More on that at another time.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Homeschooling: it's not just a choice, it's a lifestyle

This was probably not coined by me. I know I've heard similar discussions from the gay rights' activists, but it's sometimes a bit laughable. You could put just about any hobby or activity in the first word's place.

Today I enrolled my oldest daughter for a free trial gymnastics class. We'll try it out to see if it's something she thinks she'll want to continue. However, I don't know how one class will sum up what she's going to learn there. We'll see. I am looking forward to it because it is in the middle of the day, and only homeschoolers will meet there at that time.

We still have to add drawing lessons and music to our full curriculum schedule for this year. As I type, both the girls are painting at their easel. Tomorrow we'll start with the Drawing Lessons on Music will have to begin this week as well. We had a full day, and we didn't do any science today. But we are on task and on target. The telephone gets in the way. I would not answer it, but it is usually for my husband's business, and I'd rather the business earn that money. Hiring a receptionist does not make sense to me. Why pay someone else when we can pay ourselves? Not only that, if money is tight, we can skip my pay and make up for it later. We cannot do that with a different employee. It just makes sense to me for me to stay on. I also do all the books. I am no organized person when it comes to the business books, but bills do get paid. I do as much online as I can. I also handle payroll and taxes (all except the yearly tax return). I got a real crash course last December/January.

Finally, if you haven't noticed my eBay widget at the bottom of the page, you can go take a look at it. I am experimenting with what widgets are available and how much info I can put on there. I know I also have to eventually put some labels on my posts to ease navigation. There's still a lot to learn on my part (as always).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Not your typical homeschool mom (if such a human exists), and more blog page updates

Well, I've managed over the weekend to add some more widgets (gadgets) to my blog. Just scroll down the sidebars and see the additions. I can assure you these won't be the last. I've learned a lot in relation to my blog in a short period of time. Go ahead and click around. One of the things I'd recommend is checking out the TurboNote link on the right. It has saved me tons of time (great on-screen "post-it" note program). It's fully functional trial is good for 30 days. There are some decent free post-it programs out there, but this one (and I've tried a BUNCH) is the best.

If you've listened to my Finetune music playlist to the right, you have probably figured out that I'm not your typical homeschooling mom. For example, I let my kids (at the time of this post ages 7 and 3) watch SpongeBob. (No Bratz, though. Those things are just Barbies dressed as hookers.) There is no way I'd let one of those scary things in my house. I also let them watch some *gasp* PG-13 movies. I am in the room with them, and if anything is questionable, we change the channel or mute. They have seen all the Star Wars movies at least once (Jar Jar Binks and Yoda are favorite characters, naturally). Ok, I know, Star Wars are PG only.

And yes, we have our huge stash of Disney movies with all the princesses you could imagine, along with all the popular Disney movies that come out (courtesy of Grandma).

And I let my kids listen to more music than just Christian music. I won't argue, there's some good Christian rock music out there, but there is more to music than that genre. I consider myself somewhat eclectic when it comes to music tastes. We listen to some country (just enough that I can stomach), and lots of pop, rock, alternative (nothing too heavy metal-ish... it scares the kids and me both), along with some classical, Celtic instrumental, and more. They listen frequently to Bon Jovi, Goo Goo Dolls, INXS (my youngest's favorite), and some cool old 80s/90s stuff. We have officially grown out of the "addiction" to VeggieTales tunes (on a side note, I'm receiving a VBS site guide for "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" from one of my editors to work on tomorrow). We didn't go through a big phase of Veggies with my youngest. She's the real rocker of the two. I even occasionally pop in my KISS Acoustic album and we listen to a few tracks (I monitor that one really closely). I personally love the acoustic stuff (though I oddly don't like country that much).

So, many ultra-conservative parents would probably say that I'm raising heathens. Well, I don't think I turned out too badly, and I listened to some pretty raunchy stuff when I was a kid. I listened to George Michael, Culture Club (my first album, and no, gullible me did not realize Boy George was gay), Van Halen, Led Zepplin, KISS, Poison, some R&B, and many, many others. It didn't make me need therapy. No, I believe parents do that to their kids, lol. I am sure most kids these days need therapy (according to your average psychologist). Mine are no exception, nor am I an exception to "needing" it, and my mom was great and did the best she could.

I'd go as far to say that Prince is a musical genius of our time (although I'm not always a fan of the lyrics), and Paul Stanley of KISS has one of the strongest voices I've ever heard (I heard them in concert in 1994 and lost probably 10% of my hearing in one ear, lol, but he sang notes so long I thought he'd pass out, along with dancing around on stage in platform boots... all this when he was 40+ years old). George Michael has an amazing voice too, and still good looking after all these years (unfortunate that he wastes them on men). I am leaving out some really great mainstream people - Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, and countless other amazing talents. By the way, I do own a Dixie Chicks album, though I'd bought it after their anti-Bush remark in London. I don't like their new material much. But I didn't smash my cd after the remark, though I didn't listen to it for a while. (I'd sell it on eBay before I'd do that - but wait, I bought it on eBay, ha.)

In spite of all my movie exposure and musical tastes, I am still a conservative Republican, and believe that the public educational system is in a shambles, where big government has grossly abused its powers with educating the LEGAL children in the U.S., and regularly abuses the power to spend taxes and funding that we are required to give to it. (The government continues to educate the ILLEGAL aliens, yet places higher standards on homeschooled children whose parents pay taxes but don't use the public education system.) Ok, I won't get on that soapbox. I'll post more about my background in some later posts.

In closing, I really hope that Fred Thompson runs for President this year. I know a lot of homeschoolers support Mike Huckabee, but I'm not sure he can reach the mainstream public. I've watched Fred Thompson for years in the political realm (and on screen), and I believe he has the right articulation and true sincerity to go against the Democrats. Check out his site: to see more about him (or click on the widget to the right *grin*). Can you tell I like these widgets?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Frugal tip: Gold Bond = SUCCESS!

I had to take this opportunity to report that the Gold Bond powder I mentioned for my Golden Retriever's hot spot really worked! I checked the spot tonight, and I could tell that the "sore" is now drying out. A scab has formed, which is a sign that the wound is healing underneath, and the spot will soon be gone.

My husband had his doubts about it working, because the dog has still been panting a bit. I didn't tell hubby that I had raised the thermostat in the house to 75 degrees, hee hee. I am trying to save some electricity in this 100+ degree weather. When the outdoor temperature gets back to a more tolerable range, I'll set the thermostat back to our normal 70-72 degree range.

I have one more great site I found the other day. It is If you've heard of the Grocery Game website, it is similar to it, but it is FREE. She also has some great free e-books to download. I tried the Grocery Game trial period ($1 for 4 weeks), but after finding many inconsistencies with the actual prices in the stores I was paying for, I decided to end before I was billed the full amount ($25 every 4 weeks, based on the number of stores for which I had signed up). The Coupon Mom doesn't list the deals from the drug stores, but the grocery stores are there (did I mention that it is FREE?). You'd pay $10 for one grocery store on the other site.

As for our school today, dd did one half of her lessons the night before, and will be doing the remaining half during the weekend. We had our neighbor's daughter for the day (she had teacher in-service at a public school, but the daughter didn't have classes today). I took the girls swimming at my mom's neighbor's pool today. It was so hot that we only stayed about 1-1/2 hours. My eyelids were burning. I'd have worn sunglasses in the pool, but I was going under the water too much. I see us going at least one afternoon next week to the pool as well. The forecast says it is going to be 100+ degrees all of next week. My yard needs mowing, but it's just like hay out there. It would be miserable for me to get out and mow right now with my allergies. It will have to wait for now. We're praying for rain.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Waiting for normal...

but when will that come? Seems that I always have something to do for my husband's business, or we have some other project going on. Somehow we squeezed school into today, and were able to go to town to do errands. I still have to paint the last coat of the stairwell to our upstairs before we can put up trim and carpet. Eventually, it will be done, but I'd love to be enjoying it now.

By the way, if you are a homeschooler and have never taken the opportunity to visit, now would be an awesome opportunity to do so. As we've added more subjects each day, the need to make out oldest dd's weekly schedule became a must. There are also great printable helps for most subjects.

I took the girls to McDonald's today. They had a good time, and we enjoyed milkshakes to boot. My only complaint was there was a little girl blocking the ONLY tunnel entrance to the play place. She would not move for the longest time. She was a very large girl (larger than me), but couldn't have been more than 10 years old. My girls waited nearly 15 minutes before they could really play there. On a positive note, I am thankful for the indoor PlayPlace in the 100+-degree heat we had here today.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hot weather, heavy schedule

School went well today. We added grammar and also science to our schedule. I have been looking at the schedule, and realize that I may have packed too much in for each subject to be done each day. I guess that will ease some worries, though, since most of the books don't actually have 180 lessons in the text. Most only have between 90 and 100, which makes me even more disappointed in most public school systems. I do not remember getting through one textbook completely (well, except literature books we had to read). Even if we made it to the end of the book (history may have been one), we had to skip parts of the book not because we already knew the material, but because we couldn't fit it into the school year schedule. We successfully completed at least 3 textbooks last year (one was not completed, but we were very close to the end). I look for this year to be even higher.

School ended today with a trip to my mom's (I had a couple of errands in my hometown anyway), where we went swimming again at the neighbor's pool. I made a short video of a "jump." I am so glad I didn't waste money on superfluous swimming lessons this summer. I don't think they did much good at all last year. She did much better with me working with her on a more patient, one-on-one basis this year. Today, when my mom's neighbor got home, she showed dd how to blow water out of her nose so she wouldn't cough as she came out of the water. I believe she'll be jumping off the board without the wings next summer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Into day 2 of our school year

It's been a good start to this school year. The 3-year-old is loving practicing her letters she gets from the worksheets I print out for her using our StartWrite software. My 7-year-old has enjoyed doing math for two days now. We have added some reading comprehension stories into our second full day. The book she is reading right now is All Kinds of Animals from ABeka book. I bought the book at a used curriculum sale about 2 weeks ago for only 50 cents. My daughters are huge animal lovers, so this was something my oldest eagerly picked up. I didn't know it was an ABeka book at the time. I have never been an all-out huge ABeka fan (and I've been to my share of hotel ABeka showings), but I really have liked this one. We did use one ABeka book for science last year that I bought at a consignment sale. We used it to supplement our topical studies. As I've mentioned before, we are very eclectic. I am always looking for the best deals on great curriculum, and I am not content with paying full retail price for everything we use in our homeschool (there are some exceptions to that statement). Besides eBay, Amazon,, and, another great site I use is

She is now ready for her third lesson from I was impressed when she finished Lesson 2 yesterday with only a 0.8% error rate (2 errors, to be exact). She wants to learn to type so she can write stories online, as well as email family members. I am not focusing on typing speed right now. I'm more concerned with errors. The speed will come with time and practice. I was surprised when we were driving home from the post office yesterday, and I asked her what fingers touched what keys, and she answered correctly without hesitation.

Tomorrow we'll be adding grammar to the mix. Each day my goal is to add one subject. That is our way of "easing" into the school year.

Oh, and a great freebie I got in the mail was incorporated into our school day. We got a free DVD from Animal Planet on the series Meerkat Manor. The girls enjoyed it, and we are adding the series it to our "must-see" TV for next week. We'll also be waiting for the occasional American Girl movie from Netflix.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sweet coupon deals and free samples

The frugal tip on hot spot posting leads me to another frugal tip: using coupons. I am a self-confessed coupon-addict. I use them almost every time I go to the store. My husband can't believe the growing box of free stuff I have in a plastic bin under the bed, all because of coupons.

The basic premise of getting free items is to get the smallest-sized item, on sale, with the use of a coupon. If the coupon does not say "excludes trial size" or something of that nature, then by all means, get the trial size. Get 10 of them, if you have 10 coupons. Now, I never go more than 8 coupons, because I get 4 sets of coupons every week. Some weeks I'll get 4 extra coupon sets from the prior week. No, I don't buy 4 papers a week. I pay a friend who provides a service to local clients by providing only the coupons from the newspaper. Now, some weeks are a disappointment in sales and coupon availability, but you don't throw away coupons. You save them, organize them, and keep your eyes on the sales.

The Gold Bond powder was a free find, using coupons. The trial size was .97 at Walmart. I had a coupon for $1.00 off of one (no trial size exclusions were on the coupon). I had 4 coupons. Ok, I had to pay sales tax (.10 per item here where our sales tax rate is nearly 10%) minus .12 (the .03 overage the coupon provided for each item). I guess I could have paid .28 total, but the negative subtotal really freaks the computer out sometimes. So, as long as I bought something else in the store, there was not a problem with my purchase. I guess you could say I paid about .07 per trial size, which is probably close to what Walmart pays the manufacturer for these items. Not bad.

I've gotten free toothpaste, shaving gel, deodorant, body wash, shampoo and conditioner, and lots of other items this way. I try to buy as many of a good deal item as my coupons and budget will allow to stockpile. I have an ample supply of the items mentioned above. I scan online for the local sales ads weekly and compare them against the coupons I have available. There are some great tips on, so I frequent that board too. Another great site for free trial sizes is, where you just enter your info and expect a little blue box to arrive in your mail in a few weeks. It's always nice to get a prize from the sample fairy!

Some ramblings and peeves about "grade levels" and children who "do no wrong"

Some homeschooling moms out there rush so quickly to announce what grade their children are in. Well, that is fine and dandy, until you realize that your child, whom you have placed in a "grade" appropriate to her age (regardless of the fact that she does above grade level in most subjects), is the same age as the child who is now supposedly 2 grades above her.

I find this pressure that moms feel and exert on their children disturbing. Let's look into the future for a moment: In 10+ years, will your 16-year-old child be ready for college? Leave the intellectual aspects aside for now. Will he/she be able to socially and emotionally handle college? Now, I've met some pretty mature homeschooled kids in my lifetime, but I would not send any of those children off to college early. (I am not referring to dual-enrollment classes, here.) But if a parent says a child is two grades above where his/her "age" would say, I think the parent should responsibly have some good evidence to back it up. I mean, a substantiated test or something of that sort. Otherwise, it is blowing a bunch of hot air. I deal with enough of that from some non-homeschoolers, though sadly, I'm seeing it more and more in the homeschooling community. I realize we as homeschoolers are all human as well, but I wish this urgency to push our kids to the very top was not so incredible.

I think these parents need to consider the curriculum they are using, and if it is challenging enough for the child. I was using a certain set of readers with my oldest dd, and she sped through them. I know her reading level is somewhere in the 4th grade range right now, but I refuse to say she is in 4th grade because of it. She just reads really well. Sure, it is an advantage, but she is not capable of handling some of the more complicated concepts in math or science yet. She is also not emotionally mature enough to handle issues that may be discussed in social studies. Now, I don't mean to project my daughter's emotional maturity or abilities on other children, but I've been around other so-called "advanced" children. They can be just as socially immature as the next kid their same age. I feel that these parents are promoting a need for the kids to be "better" than everyone. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't tout the "everyone gets a participation trophy" approach to life, but there is also the opposite end of the spectrum... the "you are so much better and smarter than everyone else" attitude that may be dangerously instilled into the sub conscience of our kids. I won't say it is a guarantee for all children with early placement, but it is something parents should guard against. I am also not one to promote mediocrity. I do believe there has to be a healthy balance of attitude. Do your best, don't assume you are the best, and don't get too caught up in the details. Later in life, hard work, effort, and true accomplishment mean more than a grade on a transcript or piece of paper.

Now on to the other peeve: the "my children do no wrong" attitude. I have seen so many more homeschoolers guilty of this one than the former. In fact, turning their eye to their own children, while being the first to chastise another child. I'll be the first to admit my kids are bad. I know they are. They drive me nuts! But all kids mess up, and they don't just do it at home. They act up in public too, when you least want them to, and they are fully capable of embarrassing you. I don't really have a lot to expound upon this topic, but I just wanted to get it off my chest. Perhaps it will help me keep my own kids in check.

Pulling my head out of the sand ... you can make money with blogging!

I'm pretty new to the blogging world, especially new to writing blogs. Little did I know in my searches over the past few days that you can actually make real money by posting on your blog! One of the companies that allows this is called BlogsVertise.

There are great ways to make money with your blog. One way is through advertising affiliate links, where advertisers put ads on your blog and hopefully your visitors will click on the advertisement. You get a commission from the resulting sales. Another way is from writing a review about a company's product or service. Companies like BlogsVertise give assignments on what products to review. Review in a post on your blog, and submit it to BlogsVertise's website for payment.

The great thing about BlogsVertise is that it allows new bloggers to apply and make money through a "probationary" period. Not many companies allow new bloggers. I'll post some other great ways to make money online (blogging and otherwise) as my blog evolves and grows over time.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Frugal tip for hot spots

And no, I'm not talking Wi-Fi here. Our poor Golden Retriever has always suffered from the occasional hot spot. Usually 2 per year, which usually results in an expensive trip to the vet. The vet administers a shot, and we have to give oral meds to him for usually 5 days. It ends up being at least $100 by the time it is all done.

If you are wondering, "Just what is a hot spot?" it is a skin irritation, where the dog licks the place until hair is inadvertently removed and a sore ensues. (By the way, horses also suffer from these.) The irritation usually turns red and becomes a painful sore to the dog, who further licks and makes the irritation only worse. A hot spot could be caused by a food allergy or an external allergy (such as weeds, grass, or fleas). If I knew what exactly was causing this, I'd certainly get rid of the cause if at all possible!

I was telling my neighbor about it last fall, after we had just gotten over one hot spot. She gave me a great tip! Gold Bond Medicated Powder (in the yellow bottle) is an effective treatment for hot spots. It also keeps it dry, which helps speed healing. Well, I just discovered a new hot spot on our Golden this morning, and have been treating it through the day with Gold Bond powder. His panting has subsided somewhat (which is a sign of fever, another symptom that told me a couple of days ago that a hot spot was about to appear, along with the persistent licking). We will see over the next few days if this is all that we will need. So far, I've not noticed any increased redness, and it seems he is not licking there so much (I guess he is not finding an appetite for the menthol in the powder). It sure is cheaper than a $100 vet bill. We've already spent our fair share there this year, with the neutering of our new kitty (to prevent spraying), and since our Golden had to be neutered at 12 years old because he had cancer earlier this summer.

I'll explain how that Gold Bond Powder was an even sweeter deal later.

Getting ready to start the school year and some cool resources

And our little red schoolroom is still not complete. But we will begin downstairs for now, and move upstairs in a few weeks. It is my own fault. I have one more coat of paint in a few spots, and then carpet and steps, doors and trim. Then moving the furniture up there (I probably dread that part the most).

This year, we are taking a very eclectic approach. Saxon Math, Apologia Astronomy, A Child's History of the World (Calvert), a few "living" books (Charlotte Mason style), Studying God's Word (Christian Liberty Press), Prima Latina (Memoria Press) along with Rosetta Stone Latin, some more italics handwriting practice with StartWrite software, Growing with Grammar, Alfred's Basic Piano, and a side of Girl Scouts and gymnastics for extracurricular activities. I'm sure I've left something out, but I'll try to feature some of what we've been working on each week.

And my dd also announced to me just today that she wants to learn to type. Well, I had this bookmarked somewhere for free online typing lessons. So, I'll be using one of these as well this year:

Now for one more ultra cool online resource: FREE VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Some of oldest dd's accomplishments

Well, my oldest dd lost 2 teeth last night. That was the second of two accomplishments in the last couple of days. On Thursday, she decided to jump off the diving board for the first time (a big step for her). Granted, she still had her water wings on, but she was going under the water when she jumped. I know I am probably her toughest critic, and I was really surprised and proud of her.

The tooth fairy pays out $1 per tooth here. That's more than I remember getting. I got a half-dollar for my teeth. The kids' papa once said the teeth should be worth $5 each, to which I replied that the tooth fairy is not made of money. I know of some kids' fairies who give $5/tooth. I know we'll have to put braces on our oldest. Perhaps the fairy will raise her rates when we don't have to fight so hard to get those teeth out. The first two were nightmares, the second two we had to pay to get them pulled at the dentist, which was $45/tooth.

Maybe it will get easier as she gets older. She has a strong aversion to pain that she knows is coming. She won't get her ears pierced for that reason. Falling, she can pick herself up most of the time without a wimper, but the dread of pain is actually worse than the pain itself. I am just shocked I was able to get that second tooth last night after having pulled the first in the same night. I knew I didn't want to go through that the next night, though. Just get all the crying, screaming, and yelling out at once. (I have to sit on her as she's lying in the floor with my legs holding her arms next to her.) It is not fun, and pulling teeth is something that her father has yet to attempt. Just how do dads get out of being the bad guy?

By the way, I was holding our kitty today, and discovered that he had also lost a tooth. DD wanted to know if the tooth fairy would be visiting him as well.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My first post!

Ok, here we are at Fall Creek Falls, TN. We took a nice day trip a few weeks ago, and the kids, though you can't tell from this picture, had a great time!

I'm going to be updating this blog, and working on what I can do to make it better as time goes on. I started a blog at, but it proved to be a bit too advanced for someone like me who remembers the good 'ole days of plain HTML.

Hopefully you'll see some improvement along the way.

I'll be posting about our homeschooling adventures, our activities, and my opinions about homeschooling and life in general. I may offend some, but that is not my intent. I just wish to share my own views with those who choose to read them.
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