Around Here Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer.

After spending over a decade in law enforcement, victim services and social work, we circled the wagons and brought our kids home from public school. Now, we are on year five. After the first years, we learned to lay to rest all of those good intentions of facilitating unrealistic goals of growth, having tri-lingual kids, and raising prodigal children. We now focus on strong vitals and an education that stands just above 3rd world countries.

Frankly, our boys live like college freshman – stay up late, sleep late and cram like it’s their job. Yes, we have the same 24 hour day as the rest of you, but the mental exhaustion of homeschooling puts that productivity at around 4 hours a day. By the time I do my own jobs, home school and some typical chores, I am mentally done. So, I add wine to the equation and gain a few more hours of productivity.

What do I do with this 2nd wind, you might ask? Mostly, I curl up with a book and ignore all types of responsibilities for a couple more hours. What are my boys doing during this sacred time? They are enjoying endless amounts of technology – YouTube, Xbox, Ipads, TV, etc. Why? Because it keeps them quiet. Because it keeps their vitals strong. Because it protects my sanity.

My boys often ask if we are normal and I say, “Yes!” with resounding confidence. I explain to them that they belong to an internationally, renowned private home school program, I somehow manage to work enough to contribute to my part of the household bills and 80% of our food budget goes to home-cooked food! Did I mention the strong vitals?? We are good, I say!

What’s ‘normal’ anyway. Around Here Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer.

I Am As Nervous As A Long Tail Cat In A Room Full Of Rocking Chairs.

So a few months ago my Facebook news feed was overrun with pictures and celebrations of little angels receiving numerous school awards. This week, it’s overrun with first day of school pictures. Facebook has led us to a point that we broadcast every praise bestowed upon us or our little petite ya-yas. We are a homeschooling family and  I just want my homeschooled kids to get their due. Since by May, I am ready to eat my young and could care less about celebrating, I’ve decided to start the year off with a clean slate and award Expectations. This is apropos since we started our school three weeks ago. The very first Monday was a teacher workday…..the first Thursday was a field trip……Friday was a half day….. Yet, another reason to do this now. So bear with me as I celebrate the ‘potential’ of my kiddos. We will stick to public school awards….Presidential, Achievement, Attendance and Overall. Ready?

As far as Presidential Expectation, I have decided that my 5th grader be awarded the Clinton Award. Regardless of evidence, he is always innocent and will only concede an ounce of guilt. My 3rd grader deserves what I shall deem the Watergate Award. He won’t know what happened to his work…won’t remember any conversations that took place during this school year, nor will he admit his own name.

As far as Achievement Expectation, I would like to celebrate my oldest with everything I have got! He is conscientious….persistent and ready to fill out whatever box I throw at him. He will absolutely achieve whatever goals that he sets for himself. Now…about the goals that I set for him:

  1. Putting laundry actually inside the hamper.
  2. Putting his dirty dishes actually in the sink.
  3. Finishing his homework on time.

In light of these goals, I give him…..a 5 out of 10.

For these same goals, plus basic everyday work, I hereby award my youngest with the infamous “Get Out Of Bed” each morning award!

English Expectations: they shall speak the language. They shall understand the language when its suits them. On certain days, they may even correctly define a noun and verb. I hereby award both boys this distinction.

Attendance Expectation. Let us just go ahead and call this award what it is….the Pulse Expectation. In public school, if they show up, they get a mark. In homeschool, we have much more room to move. I don’t mind counting field trips but I refuse to count a day that every participant is comatose. So for our school, both boys shall win the Pulse Expectation. And to add my expectation…thats 3 out of 5 days of school work that they ACTUALLY complete to the best of their ability.

Overall……let’s stop with the rear.

Speaking of rear, allow me to offer their rewards for the entire school year. My 3rd grader shall receive, with all the dignity and pride that comes along with, the Rear of the Year Expectation. If you need a description of this achievement, please look in Wikipedia for a Person that could give two shits about school.
Now my 5th grader has his own distinction. He shall be proud to receive the Mother Theresa Award, because he cares. He cares about his school; he cares about my sanity; and he cares about what others think.

Soooooo…..I’m excited that my boys will meet my wildest expectations for this school year. Wildest being…..they will participate, learn something and not hate me for the rest of their lives!

What are your expectations this year for your young ones?

That Dog Won’t Hunt


It’s that time of year when us homeschooling moms sit down with our computers, laptops, paper, pencils, laminators, sticky notes, highlighters, etc and plan a new year. We do research, we poll our friends, we beg guidance from strangers, and we contemplate our sanity for pursuing yet another year. We design lesson plans, calendars and other fun graphics to keep us on task during the year. We think of fun ideas to keep our children engaged. We consider including electives, such as other languages, botany, volunteer work, musical instruments. We plan 5, 000 play dates.  We find determination to deliver curriculum, schedules and discipline without quarter. All while, classical music will be playing in the background. Perhaps, we designate a classroom space and plan to set our alarms. Perhaps, we feel confident that our children will master and surpass their weakest subjects. Perhaps….the house will also be cleaned and a healthy, nutritious meal will be provided three times a day. While we are at it, we will just go ahead and send hubby with a nice, packed, nutritious lunch too.

We finalize our plans. We tell our friends our plans. We tell our children about the New Order. We tell ourselves that this year…will be different.

Why in the HELL do we do this to ourselves?? Can we just not do it and say we did? Why must we set ourselves up for this public failure?

It’s akin to going on a diet. That dog won’t hunt!!!! It might start heading to the woods and hell, it might even bark – but it ain’t gonna hunt.

I truly think we would all be better off by just opening the different subject books that are required by law and doing one lesson after another. Expectations make everything worse. Period.

Nothing gets my goat more than when I have spent hours and hours coming up with a creative game or lesson for my boys and we have an all out meltdown within two minutes tops. Then I have to take time out of my schedule to scream at them for not appreciating MY efforts, shame them for not respecting the LAW and provide them directions to the nearest elementary school. All this is followed by the music of screaming and slamming doors and then I’m the only one left listening to classical music (which I don’t even like.).

For real. Just join a program or a co-op and pay them to deliver everything outside of your realities. They will encourage you to do more…but hey…they won’t know any better. You can Facebook your supposed successes all year long. Join the droves of people who are not who they POST to be!

But alas…..I’ll do it all again this year and hope for different results. Wait….where have I heard that before?? lol




Parenting in Review

Today, I have been working on my next eBook, Mountain Notes to Parenting, and so I have been reviewing some of my prior posts on parenting. I came across this post and laughed all over again – especially, since it’s that time of year again for our family vacation!

Lord Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise is definitely worth a second read and maybe it will spark an extra prayer for us, as we try this again. I think it will definitely make the cut for my next book.

I am having a hard time, picking out my top ten tips to surviving parenting. Fortunately, I have some new ones to add, though. Which was your favorite?


Don’t Start An Argument With An Empty House.


I had so much fun writing my eBook on Mountain Notes to Grant-writing, that I have decided to make it a series. Mountain Notes is an off-shoot of Cliff Notes, designed to give you a brief synopsis of the facts. Of course, I started it with something that I know how to do and so the next book will also be in my realm of experience. The next volume in the series will be Mountain Notes to Parenting and catered to us mountain folk. Now, I don’t claim to know it all, but I have learned a thing or two.

This blog post will preview the first chapter of this book and focus on Lowering Your Standards.  After a decade in the field of parenting, I can truthfully say that this is the most important step in good parenting….or at least in surviving parenting. I have broken down this chapter into five key sections that will help you in the key areas to lower your standards.

First, we will address schedules and the need to throw them out the nearest window. Preferably into the eye of a tornado that will take them far, far away from your lifestyle.  From inception on, we are told to stick to rigid schedules in feeding, sleeping, meals and other nonsense areas. My advice: figure out what your kid is going to do and acclimate the best as you can. If your kid wants to sleep all day, then nap when you can and plan some productive things to get done in the wee hours of the night. If your kid is crying for a meal, give it to him. Why not? Is the schedule so important that you would give up sleep, cleaning or whatever and wait to feed him at a more appropriate hour? Who wins in this scenario? Our kids will dominate our every area of our lives for the next twenty years. Any resistant is futile. We might as well start training ourselves to be at their beckon call. Again, this may be the easier path to travel, but let’s be honest. We are essentially too tired to care.

As for bedtime and all of the nonsense spread by our elders, it’s just another part of the day that we can adhere to the schedules of our real masters. We can spend endless hours hearing the screams of our children, only to fall asleep with one eye open. What if they choke? What if they get hungry? What if they get kidnapped? What if they get their adorable little heads caught between the cribbing? What if they have a bad dream? The only thing certain in this scenario is that you are not sleeping. Sleeping is good. Sleeping is necessary. Sleeping helps us be better parents. If co-sleeping works for you, then do it. The end. Seriously, this one needs to be above argument. Eventually, I PROMISE that your child will want his or her privacy and will not be spooning with you when they are teenagers.

Rules. Obviously, there are rules that should be enforced if the child’s safety is at risk. Other than that, who gives a big shit? You may have sworn to limit TV time before you were a parent, but who has time to entertain their child 24/7? TV becomes a godsend for those of us that have other shit that needs to be done – like sleep, cooking, cleaning, decompressing,etc.

Humor. I realize that kids do the darndest things and we should be ready and willing to correct, as necessary. But if it’s funny – laugh. Who cares?! You can address the issue before or after your hysterics. I can promise you that if God didn’t have a sense of humor, he wouldn’t have allowed procreation. Just as I can promise you that if Pixar and Disney didn’t have a sense of humor, they wouldn’t name their leading men, Woody. When your son is running around in his new big boy underwear and screaming look my woody…laugh. That shit is funny.

Punishment. I know that some of us may have sworn on a stack of Bibles that we wouldn’t whip our child….but if that is the only thing that gets his attention. Do it, and do it often. My sticklers are unsafe issues and manners. If my boys violate either of these, they get deft punishment, without quarter. However, all other offenses may or may not elicit exact punishment. In a way, this keeps them on their toes. They never know when I’m going to blow!

So it all comes down to these ridiculous standards that we shared with others and ourselves about how we were going to parent and how we were going to ensure that our kids turned out perfectly. Myth!! Not happening, no matter what methods you employ. Why not have a little fun in the raising of our children? My personal goal is that if my children end up in front of therapists that their therapist have to bite their tongues to keep from laughing. Yes, we may warp our kids. However, we have to option of doing it with style.



Monday Moans!

We all start out with big dreams for our little ones – great academics, star athlete, successful ventures, good character….. But as times change, so do our goals. Now, at the end of the day, we just pray for strong vitals.

When I started homeschooling, I had classical music playing in the background, other language curriculum on stand-by and hours coordinating good, positive socialization. Fast forward four years…..the only music in the background is my constant screaming…or theirs; forget Spanish, focus on the ABCs and subject-verb agreement, and before every playdate, we go over what they are not allowed to say and do.

Therefore, I start each Monday with a goal that we at least start school for the week.

Today, I got them started on school and went to start the laundry. I’m not sure how long I was out of it or even if it was real. But, I felt tears of joy begin to rain down my face that our family meeting from the weekend somehow made it past the initial barriers of their little minds. On Saturday, we had all met in the bathroom. My husband and I briefly discussed placing their dirty clothes actually in the hamper, instead of on top of it…in front of it….or no where near it. After our brief lesson, we allowed each child to practice. (lift lid, place clothes inside, close lid.) We even took it a step farther and tried to urge them to try it with one finger. It was tough at times, but we were all determined to master this seemingly small feat. Then, we reviewed the lesson, high-fived each other and parted ways.

I had no misconceptions that this lesson would stick somewhere between their ABCs and Math. However, today…my children surprised me and made me proud. Yes, they can hit a target with uncanny accuracy with a variety of weapons. Yes, they can shoot a basketball into the goal and hit a baseball thrown by a pitch. They are even getting decent at soccer. They are masters at their tech devices and often help us parents figure things out. However, I started wondering if I needed to get them tested since they couldn’t do simple tasks. For example, putting laundry into the hamper, putting dishes into the sink, and/or covering themselves up with a blanket that rested at their ankles. I decided to focus on these tasks…because after all, I’ll give them to wives one day. But I didn’t believe.

But today….I believe.

Check back in with me tomorrow.