On My Mind: January 17, 2014


Did you know pirate giraffes are a thing? I did not. But two dear friends did and have bestowed pirate giraffe goodies upon my head car and um… torso.


Thank you, Michelle!


Thank you, Summer!


Last week my niece texted me that Hook’s Revenge was up for preorder on Amazon. I had no idea. It felt a lot like this:

tumblr_mxoe5gmdF31r3gb3zo1_400Only happy.


There is no cover image up on that amazon page yet, but I have seen the artwork and it is GORGEOUS. I want to marry it. And make a real jacket from my book jacket so I can wear it always. That’s not weird right?

Anyway, I’m not sure when I can share it, but watch this space.


Winter break has ended and with it, our commute-free days. A couple days a week Hannah attends a homeschool co-op nearly an hour’s drive away. We don’t want to waste time so we are sure to do educational things in the car. For example, listening to this song:

What? It’s history.


I made dinner last night. Real food. We sat around the table together. That was the norm for quite some time, but over the last year or so, it has occurred less and less. I have a lot more to say about this, but I think I’ll save it for it’s own post. However, this is what is on my mind today: It felt good.


THE FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC REMAKE IS ON LIFETIME TOMORROW NIGHT. Who else is going to watch it and relive being twelve? Who else is going to watch it and think “Holy crow, I watched/read this when I was twelve?”


The eighties, right? What are you gonna do?

I think it may be just about time for a reread.

Heidi Homeschools (Yup, I still do)

heidi homeschools We are nearing the end of another school year–our fifth since Walt and I made the decision to educate Newt at home. Every year has been different, presenting its own particular challenges and triumphs. If I had to sum up this year in one word, that word would be change.
Around this time last year I started feeling like change was on the horizon. Newt was getting older and her needs, both socially and academically were changing. My needs were changing as well.
I felt it was necessary to add in some outside mentoring this year. Let’s be honest, I can only inspire Newt so far. She, quite naturally, has little incentive to push herself beyond her perceived limits for “just her mom.” And the few other leaders from 4H or church were ones that she had had for years. She had grown perhaps a bit too comforable in those relationships. She needed to be challenged.
And for the first time in my life as a mother, I am now trying to balance family and career. I needed to shift some of the homeschooling workload off my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, the responsibility to ensure Newt is getting a good education is still firmly mine–I just needed to share the work.
It took much of the year, but a couple months ago we finally hit on the right mix and one that I think will carry over nicely to the fall.
For Newt’s at-home curriculum she is using Easy Peasy — All in One Homeschooling. This is a free, online curriculum that incorporates much of the classics-based learning we had enjoyed with Ambleside Online, but in a format that Newt can easily do on her own.
And does she ever. Many mornings lately, she’s been setting her alarm for 6:00 am so she can do all her schoolwork by 9:00. She then has the rest of the day to read, draw, play with her animals, or tell me she is bored. (Working on that.)
For math, she is doing Khan Academy at home, meeting with a weekly tutor, and taking an outside class.
The outside class, that is where the magic is happening. Once a week I drive Newt nearly 50 miles for classes at Village Home, a fabulous homeschool co-op. She is currently taking three classes there: The math class, a sewing/art class, and Hogwarts Academy (which has included potions/real chemistry in a lab, creating a scale architectural floor plan of Hogwarts, and playing Quidditch). They have all been very much worth the time and expense.
In the fall, I plan to register her for eight classes–two full days each week (and am crossing my fingers that I can carpool).
She is being challenged academically and beginning to make new social connections.
I am feeling the relief of not having to plan and execute everything, while still being certain that she is in good hands.
It has been a somewhat tumultuous year, but things are smoothing out. I think we’ve hit on the right combination–at least for now. But that’s the great and terrible thing about homeschooling: Adaptions can always be made because adaptions always need to be made.
I’m excited to see what next year will bring.

P.S. Just a reminder: All of the above refers to our own personal journey and should not be taken as commentary as “the right” way to do things. There is no one right way. It there was, this would be a lot simpler.

The Key to Doing Absolutely Everything

I mentioned in my last post that I was needing to do a bit of costume design for my girl (and her chicken). She debuted her Tardis dress at a party on Friday night to rave reviews from the one person who knew what a Tardis is. Lucky for her, she has a good friend with similar interests:

Saturday, Newt had her first 4H chicken show, including a costume contest–which is why I ended up making three costumes this year. Once again, no one was geeky cool enough to get her Dr. Horrible/Captain Hammer costuming, but Newt didn’t care.

Sidenote: As her first show, none of us expected her to come home with this:

So exciting! She can’t wait to do another.

I had someone ask me the other day how I possibly have time to write, sew costumes, cook dinner, do laundry, homeschool, and any of the other 416,832 1/2 things I have/get/want to do. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I don’t do all those things. At least not on the same day.
That’s the key to doing it all. Don’t try to do it all at once.
I made Newt’s (and Phyllis’s) costumes in the week after signing with my agent, while waiting on his revision notes.
Walt has been helping out with dinner quite regularly.
The laundry–is a disaster.
Homeschooling…we are making some changes, starting with an online curriculum that will free me from some planning and instruction time. (A change in the way we do things has been on the horizon since last spring, but we recently became a bit more motivated.)

Now I am back in revisions and working as hard as I possibly can, without neglecting too much the things that are most important. I get up insanely early and steal minutes as often as possible throughout the day. Walt reminds me to take time off, even when I think I don’t need to. Even when I really don’t want to. He’s good like that.
I also say no a lot, often when I’d like to say yes.
Can you help with this year’s Nativity Festival? Sorry, no.
Want to make applesauce together? Yes, but I can’t. So no.
Would you critique my manuscript? Nope. Maybe next month.
If you are on the receiving end of one of my nos, please don’t feel badly. I only have room for so many yeses–and for the most part, they are all reserved.

Teacher Appreciation Gift: Chalkboard Flowerpot

I’m going to go on record right here, right now and say, “Teachers of the World: I love you!”
That was awkward, wasn’t it?
I thought so.
I hope we can put this little incident behind us…

<begin mild rant>
There is a nasty bit of a rumor floating around out there. You know, the one that says that homeschool parents don’t like/appreciate/respect teachers? And that teachers don’t like/appreciate/respect homeschool parents? I’m going to lay that rumor down right now.

Frantically Simple. Fighting injustices every day.

I love (most) teachers. They are dedicated, hard working and truly have their students best interests at heart. I don’t homeschool to keep Newt away from evil government schools and unrighteous influences. I homeschool because it works for our family.
Most teachers that I know get that and respect it.
</end mild rant>

Toning it down to an appropriate level: “Teachers of the World: I appreciate you!”

If you’d like a cute and simple way to show your appreciation for a favorite teacher, read on.
Note: Merely reading this tutorial will not be enough. Once you have read the instructions on creating the following project, you will have to actually create one. Or make a card. Or buy something. Or just say, “Thanks.” One of those ought to do it.

Newt and I made a chalkboard flowerpot for her piano teacher a couple of years ago. It’s a cute, simple, and cheap and easy to make little gift.
Purchase a small terracotta pot from your local gardening store or crack addiction recovery center Wal-Mart.
If you are going to plant directly into the pot, instead of using a liner, you’ll want to seal it. Thompsons MultiSurface Spray Water Sealer works great. Brush on or spray the interior of your pot and allow to dry according to label instructions.
Once the sealer is dry, paint the outside or your pot with chalkboard paint. A little goes a long way; you don’t need to buy a large container of it.
Allow to dry for 24 hours before planting. Have your little darling chalk a message to his/her teacher.
I suggest, “Teachers of the World: I adore you (and also would like to smell your hair)!”
And now we are back to awkward…
I’ll be home all next week. Go ahead and drop the restraining order by any time.

Amazon affiliate links are being used for your convenience. Feel free to pick up your supplies where ever you like.

Spring Break Homeschoolers Gone Crazy

We took the week off for Spring Break and it’s been cra-zy around here.
Don’t believe me? Read on.

We’ve made more freezer paper t-shirts. Doctor Who themed, of course.

Exterminate! Exterminate!

I found some really awesome stencils on Chocolate and Cream Cake. I just modified the Dalek slightly to give him a more classic plunger. Sadly, said plunger placement is uh, right over my um… Let’s just say I wore it today and spent the day being groped.
They are evil, right?
(Pst: If you like Doctor Who, check out our free printable Valentines, my daughter’s room makeover, and her Halloween costume.)
Not Spring-Break crazy enough for you?
Okay, more spring break madness: We watched a pig give birth and…
…we dissected a still-born piglet.
You, ah… what’s that?
Only a homeschooler.

Since Newt wants to become a vet, and lots of dissections are in her future, we both felt it would be a great opportunity. That is how I found myself inviting some friends over for a good old fashioned spring break dissection party.
I have to admit, I was a little unsure how any of us would handle it, but once we got through the first few cuts, we were fine.

Fascinating stuff, that.
If you have the stomach for it, I created a set for the rest of my photos on flickr.

What else have we been up to?
Lots of sleeping in. Reading. Writing; I’ve made a fair amount of progress on my book. Time with friends. It’s been a nice break.

What crazy plans do you have this spring?

History’s Heroines: Julia Child

The heroine for our homeschool history club’s March study was similar in many ways to February’s.
Off the top of my head:
1. Julia Child was just one year older than Lucille Ball; both were born in August (1911 and 1912).
2. Like Lucy, Julia’s husband, Paul, was investigated by the Committee for Un-American Activies.
3. Both women were pioneers in television entertainment and both were truly funny ladies.
4. Lastly, most of the girls in our club had never heard of either woman before but really enjoyed learning about both.

Julia gave us many wonderful things to discuss. She did not start cooking seriously until her 40s. Before that, her meals were often disasters. We talked about the importance of life-long learning. At 6’2″, she stood out in a crowd, but never seemed to be bothered by it. We talked about how being different can be an asset. Mostly, we talked about how her “no fear” attitude was inspiring.
Most of the girls had taken time before the meeting to watch episodes of The French Chef. It was a big hit.

After a brief meeting for our discussion, we loaded into my car for a field trip to Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland. We ate fancy food, prepared by chef students, in the school’s restaurant.
Note: If you have plans to be in the Portland area, make reservations. Nine dollars will get you a wonderful three-course lunch, eighteen will get you a four-course dinner.

The girls sampled such fare as Grapefruit and Fennel Salad, Smoked Salmon Mousse, Lamb and Potato Gnocchi, and the delicious, if not exotic, Chocolate Dream Torte. Although they did not all love every single thing on their plates, each girl tried new things and no one uttered a single “gross!”. Success!
After lunch we were treated to a tour of the school kitchens by one of their female executive chef/instructors. It was a fantastic way to cap off our study of Julia Child.

Newt is going through a "I don't smile in pictures" phase. One consequence of being a blogger-mom.

Feel free to use the notebooking pages and writing prompts I created. Non-commercial use only, please.
Writing Prompts for Julia Child
Julia Child Notebooking Pages

Bon Appetit!

Next month: Annie Jump Cannon

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