Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Road to College...

Exciting news here...Allison has been officially accepted into three of the seven colleges that she applied to. Two of the colleges are public and one is private. The private college has offered Allison an 8-9 thousand dollar merit scholarship. That happens to be the highest scholarship they offer! Pretty neat! The only bad thing is, that it is really pennies when you consider the actual yearly cost of going there. On the up side, we fill out the FAFSA in January which will also qualify her for more aid directly from the college and maybe just a teeny tiny bit from the government. She'd really like to go to this college, but we'll have to see where we end up after all the money comes in.

In other news, the kids are signed up for the ACT this weekend. Jon, in particular has been working his rump off in hopes that this will be the last general test he'll need to take. He will still be taking the CLEP and the SAT II in Chemistry this coming Jan-Feb and will also be working toward other SAT II's in the future. He wants to go to Cal-tech, so he needs to work hard.

Allison is finishing up her first semester in college this week and also on Monday of next week. She's hopeful that her grades are A's and that she'll really impress those college recruiters. I'm thankful that she has made a quick and painless adjustment into college. When you homeschool someone from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade, it can be a little nerve-wracking to send them off into the unknown. I hoped that I had prepared her to the best of my ability, but really you never know until that first paper or that first math test comes along and they come through it with a good grade and the confidence to continue on. I'm thankful that God's grace has covered all my short-comings and allowed Allison to blossom in college and in real life. Watching her hold down a job, swim on the swimteam, and take three college classes all at once and do well in each area, makes me proud of who she is becoming and the direction that she has chosen to take.

One thing that has impressed me, is that Allison is really considering her future and how she'd like to get there. She'd love to go to the fancy private college, but is also considering staying here for the next two years to get her AA. She's not closing any doors. Instead she's making sure that the decision she makes won't cause her to leave college with major debt. I think that shows a lot of maturity.

One thing I'm looking forward to, is going back and being just an elementary teacher after this year.LOL Jon will take all of his classes at the CC next year and Allison will be a fulltime graduated college student. I'll be back to homeschooling the littles, with a little guidance counselor thrown in for good measure. What a blessing.LOL


Friday, December 04, 2009

Our Annual Christmas Photos...

Yesterday, I decided to take everyone's photo for our Christmas card and the yearly photos of the kids. Allison isn't done designing the card yet, but here are some of the photos...

Genevieve age 7

Sophia age almost 3

Isaac age almost 5

Jonathan age 15 1/2

Allison age almost 18

Me with a couple of stinkers...

Eric and I, not telling how old...

I'm pretty excited to see the final Christmas design and I'll share once it's complete.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Project...

My friend Karen asked me if I'd like some mint tins for a project. Well, I'm not one to turn anything down, but really didn't have a clue what I'd do with them once they

The answer came a few days after I received them.

The littles get an Advent Calendar every year and Allison was lamenting the fact that she and Jon never got one. We didn't celebrate Advent when they were little. I had never heard of doing such a thing. Well, I was looking at those tins and it came to I mod-podged some Christmas fabric to the tins and then added numbers to each one. Then I took an old hanger and pulled it into a circle and wrapped it with ancient batting that has moved with us no less than 7 times. I took strips of denim fabric and wrapped it around the batting and then velcroed the little tins all over the "wreath." I wrapped a red ribbon around it this morning and Allison made the bow with the leftover ribbon.

Now to fill the little I have to decide what to do, fill with a little note for a treasure hunt or fill with little candies and treats.

I made it reuseable and I think this will be a good tradition for the older kids. Thanks Karen!


Our Traditional Florida Christmas Tree...


It's a bit small, but smells really good. Too bad we ate

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random post...

A few weeks ago, Allison had her end of the year swim team party/award ceremony. Allison received her letter, a medal, and a certificate. She has done so well this year and I just love this photo of her...
Sophia decided to try on Allison's knifty-knitter hat that she was making...too bad she didn't wait until it was off the
Here, Jon was doing a little target practice. Allison was a big help...
The three littles on their new playset. They are out there from morning until sunset. What a blessing this has been for me.LOL We've also been having wonderful weather. I love this time of the year!
And finally, I've been crocheting teeny tiny hats for the new little one. I should have enough for every day of the month by the time he I'm still learning but it's a lot of fun!


Monday, November 09, 2009

The Road to College...literally.

I'm guessing you all can tell what the next part of the college process is...

Road Trip!

Allison received her first phone call from a college this weekend. We're excited that someone has received all the paperwork, has read it, and still wants us to come and visit.LOL Our next step is to arrange three personal interviews with three different colleges. One is easy, because it's in our town. The other two are spread all over Florida. In fact, we may end up having to do more than these three interviews but these three are the ones that had it as a requirement for their application process for homeschoolers. So...

1. Make sure that the colleges you apply to are ones that you'd like to visit even if you haven't received an official offer from them. Lucky for us, the two out of town ones are on Allison's short list, so they were needing visits anyway, but if one of the lesser colleges that we applied to, asks the same of us, we may just back out of that college.

2. Read the requirements and then figure out if you can actually meet them before applying. Allison is swamped right now and meeting up with three colleges will be a stretch, especially while trying to keep up with school, work, studying for the ACT, and swimming. I'd rather save our money and visit the colleges that she is actually accepted to attend but we knew about these three and will commit to visiting.

3. Don't let your teen get their hopes up while visiting! I mean, these are just more steps to apply, not a guarantee that they will get to go there. Make them wait until you are visiting one that has actually accepted

4. Take photos and label them so that you can "revisit" if you are accepted to decide if it's the right college for them. That may help narrow things down if you end up accepted to more than 2-3 colleges. (This advice is for people (us) who can't afford to visit 7 different colleges if we are accepted to all of them.) If you've already taken the tour and visited, then only go back if they are numbers 1-3 on your teens list, unless you can afford to visit them all.

Well, I'll update after the visits or if anything else comes us that we forgot to do.LOL


Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Last Great Build of 2009...

For Christmas this year we decided to buy the littles a playset. We saved up all year and finally bought it two weeks ago. We wanted to make sure that we got it early, since this is the time of year that the weather is good to be outside, and also, we didn't want it to come after Christmas.

It arrived on Friday and everyone was pretty excited about it.

First, though, we had to say goodbye to old faithful. It was getting quite dangerous now that we have three, soon to be four, little ones that never really appreciated our rules for jumping.


The littles protested at first, but once the playset started taking shape, old faithful was easily forgotten.

Step 1

This is what it looked like in our garage...
Step 2
This is right after Jon's manhood was (The bars were free rolling until they were screwed in.)
Step 3.
The barn raising...notice the little helper...
The rock wall comes together...Isaac was
Step 6
The final product...
The kids couldn't be happier...
Isaac is king of the hill...

It only took some of Friday, all of Saturday, and a little of Sunday to put together. We had one of Jon's friends helping and it really was nice having that extra set of hands.


Friday, November 06, 2009

The Road to College...

Or, should I label this one...

What to do while you wait on your teen to get all her ducks in a row.

Anyway, here's an update on our saga...

We have so far turned in three complete college applications with all the extra stuff. The deadline for each of these colleges was November 1st and we accomplished it. Each envelope contained 29 course descriptions, a four page transcript, one had an essay, and another had a recommendation form filled out by her English teacher. We sent each college an official SAT score report from the SAT website also.

Now for the waiting part. Allison filled out all the applications for each of the other four colleges that she's applying to, but she still needs four recommendations and two essays before we can finish those colleges.

We found out that her SAT scores were not as good as we hoped. She increased her scores in each of the different areas but since she didn't study for the test, it isn't enough for her top colleges to award her a scholarship. So plan B is in action. I signed her up for the ACT and she will take it in December. I also signed up for their online study guide for $19.95. By far, the ACT is a more economical choice and I'm hoping that with a little studying, she'll get a good score. She'll need a 29 to get scholarship offers. Luckily, SAT and ACT score deadlines are flexable. Most colleges give you until the end of the school year to get your final scores in. It would be better to get them in sooner, but better scores can mean more money, so we'll keep at it a little longer.

What I've learned...

1. Study for the SAT and ACT early. It's really never too early once your teen is in highschool.

2. Start collecting recommendations from teachers, pastors, and close friends as soon as they have done something. It's better to have them early. Also, you need a lot of them, so don't be shy about asking a teacher for one. You'll need it. That way, you can spread it out and not have one person doing five different ones for five different colleges. They don't like

3. Start work on college essays in the Jr year. What I've noticed about the essays, is that they all are basically the same. They all want to know WHY your teen would make a good fit at their school OR they want to know what they've learned from some experience that makes them a good fit for their school. Allison wrote one essay during her college class that actually fit most of the college essay question and it has helped tremendously. Now that I know, I'll be working with Jon to get a few good essays in next semester to help with his college applications so that we aren't trying to do everything at once.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

When Halloween Candy Strikes...


It can do a real number on your teeth.


Good thing we have 427 toothbrushes.



Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Road to


Here's what we've done right.

First off, 2 years ago I hired Lee from The HomeScholar to help me with Allison's 9th and 10th grade transcripts. Lee was wonderful. She called me and we discussed Allison's work over that time period and she helped flesh out the transcripts with really good questions. She not only asked about each and every usual subject, she also asked about outside activities, things that Allison liked doing during her free time, and church related things that she did. These questions not only helped Lee, they also helped me to see all that we had accomplished during these two years! It also made me see what to include during the next two years afterwards.

After we had talked, Lee compiled a professional transcript for Allison and sent it to me that day. What I got was three different forms. The first one lists each course by subject. The second lists each course by year. The final paper lists each class title and I added to it by putting textbooks used under each course and I linked each course to the website that sells the course. What was so wonderful about these transcripts was that each one could be easily added to for each consecutive year. In theory, I could add each year as we finished it so that it was fresh in my mind and it would have been quite easy. In reality, I waited until last week to compile the last two years and it was considerably

I found Lee's business to be extremely helpful to me. Could I have done it without her help? Possibly. I know that there are many free helps out there these days, but just having someone walk me through the first two years was a tremendous help. She not only helped me flesh out what needed to be put on each transcript, she helped me SEE what transcripts really look like. It is also nice to have actual transcript forms to just enter in the next year's work.

When it was time for me to enter in the next two years worth of school, I purchased Lee's The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts E-Book, plus I also joined the Gold Care Club. I got a bunch of free helps, along with more transcript templates and I also get one free 20 minute phone call with Lee each week for a month. Very nice. Through her website I was able to work through my transcripts without trouble and finished them all in under a week.

What I didn't do well.(lol)

Can we all say Procrastination? I have all of Allison's work, labeled, in notebooks, with her grade sheets added into the books, all on my handy-dandy bookshelves. I really thought it'd be no big deal to enter them into the transcripts on my computer, "at a later date." Boy, was I wrong. It was confusing and hard work to locate every single course at that later date. It was tedious, time consuming, and stressful. I will not do that ever again. That is, of course, after I get Jon's transcripts up to date. (lol)

What I also didn't take into account was what colleges would want in addition to the official transcripts. My big mistake was not going to different college websites to see what kinds of paper trails those popular colleges would expect to see from home school students. Most colleges just want the standard transcripts, along with references, SAT scores, and the college's essay. Not too bad, really. Some of the nicer colleges wanted just a bit more. Of course, being that I didn't actually look on the websites to see if they would want more, I didn't know that they would also want....

Course Descriptions With How We Evaluated Each Course.

Of course Allison decided that her top college pick would be one that needed these dreaded course descriptions. It meant ME going all the way back to 9th grade and writing each and every description, digging out each and every notebook to see each and every grade earned from each and every course. It was almost too much. Out of fear and desperation, I emailed Lee, hoping that she did this service and if I could just email her the transcripts and have HER do it. Money was no Well, Lee no longer provides this service, but she was a tremendous help. She sent me links all over her website where she showed me how to do course descriptions and even an audio recording called Course Descriptions Demystified. I listened and looked all over her website and then got started.

My first plan of action was to have my Dh make a template for the course descriptions. Looking at Lee's sample, he was able to give me one very quickly. After that, I got started. By far, the first two were the hardest. I began with math, thinking it would be the easiest to find online. I started off looking for course descriptions all over the internet. I looked at the curriculum website (MUS) that I purchased the subject, for their description of the course (there wasn't a good one) and I also looked for table of content links (which they had). I then used a generic course description that I found by googling "pre-algebra course descriptions" and found one that encompassed what the course did. Then I pasted the table of contents page into a section that I labled "Topics included." At the bottom of the page and sometimes on another page, I listed how we graded this course. For this course, I listed Tests, Daily Work, Unit Tests and Final Exam. Can we say TEDIOUS? I did this two more times for Allison's different math courses and then started on Science. Science was a bit easier since I knew what I was doing and it went a tad faster. I am not doing Allison's college dual enrollment courses since we'll be sending those separately once she has offical grades. I do have them listed on her transcripts with a * beside them denoting they were not taken at home.

I was able to do 6 courses yesterday and 5 today. My goal is to finish at the end of this week so I have time to print out all the different copies and allow Allison the time to do her part of the application process on my computer the next week. She has those essays, remember? She also has to work on each application, although only two are due Nov. 1st. We have more time on the rest of them.

So now you know what I've been up to this weekend. If I could share a little advice to anyone just starting this journey, I'd say research 8-10 different colleges, any colleges, to see what they require from homeschoolers and then work towards completing that paperwork right now. It's better to have too much, than not enough when you get to the senior year. It would have made this process a lot easier if I had done my research.


Friday, October 16, 2009

You know you have a large family...

(I saw this on De'Etta's blog and thought I'd add to


You calculate what the toilet paper to toilet ratio is before you buy a brand. (Charmin=bad, Scott=good)

You buy 6 whole chickens and it lasts you a month.

You buy the $1 towels from Walmart because they dry-even when left crumpled on the floor-in record time. (Who cares that you can see through them. You can fit 72 of them in the washer at one time and they dry on the line in 10 minutes.)

You also buy the bulk wash clothes x 2 and never have enough.

You wait for a clearance and then buy them out.

One loaf of bread= one lunch
One Gallon of milk= 2 breakfasts (and only because you have to use 3 different kinds due to allergies)

When one room can be completely destroyed in 10 minutes and it takes 2 days to clean.

When you shower, you no longer expect privacy. In fact, you use that time (wisely, I might add) to bathe half the family. One in the shower with you, two in the tub next to the shower.

When there really is a "Hair Wash Day."

When it takes you an hour to tuck everyone in...on a good day.

When your home looks more kid friendly than the local Chuck E Cheese.

When your calendar looks busier than the presidents.

When you're mentally calculating whether or not your 8 passenger vehicle will really hold 8 passengers. (four carseats, four adults. hmmm.)

When you buy toothbrushes in bulk, assign everyone a color and have no less than 463 of them all over your house, just to make sure you can find one when you need it.

When your old big pot is now for side dishes and your first crockpot is only good for soaking beans.

When you are seriously wondering where the next baby will go.

and finally,

When you no longer get upset over paint, marker, or crayons on your walls, stains on clothes, or broken anything (other than kids), because you love them more than anything and only *they* can't be replaced.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Road to 2

So, now that Allison is in DE, working as a lifeguard, and swimming for the swimteam at her local highschool, we're all set, right? Wrong! I got about one week off before the next wave hit. Thankfully, it was the week that I got

The very next job for me is the dreaded transcripts. Her top pick college is a little persnickity about what they want from homeschoolers. It's do-able but not much fun. Some colleges, were not very homeschool friendly. Allison's most favorite college wouldn't even look at her unless she wanted to take 5 SAT II subtests. Well, we just don't have the time for that. If we had started her Jr. year, then maybe we could have gotten that accomplished, but with time running out, we've decided stick to colleges who appreciate and want homeschoolers.

So, what do those colleges want from us? Well, I'll tell you. Two of the six colleges that she is applying to want our basic transcripts AND a list of all textbooks used AND a detailed course description along with what we expected her to learn from each course. Fun, fun, Now, I've been keeping up to date transcripts and reading lists for her highschool years, but not lists of her textbooks or course descriptions or course expectations. I have to admit here that some of her credits didn't have traditional textbooks. Will she get in anyway? I guess we'll find out.

I've been compiling all of this for the past week and I have at least 2 weeks left until I'll be done. I'm glad to know what I need in the future for Jon though. I'll be compiling these lists as soon as I'm done with Allison.

What is Allison doing during all this? I'll tell you. She has a very important job right now. In addition to keeping her grades up, juggling her job and swimming, she is now in charge of completing college applications and writing 6-12 essays before the end of the year. She needs to complete 2-4 before the end of the month and the others before Jan 1st. She's also collecting references from two college professors, one Dr, and her employer and, as if that isn't enough, she's also in charge of writing a resume of her work experience which is another requirement of her top college pick. Crazy, isn't it?!! Makes my job look

I talked about having three plans in place for Allison to accomplish her goals in my last post. I think I'll go over them here and now.

Plan A: Allison goes to a four year college on scholarship. Either full scholarship or part with money from us and from her job.

Plan B: Allison stays home and goes to community college while working so that she can save up for her 4 year college after her AA degree. We will help with expenses. She could also transfer as a transfer student after she has enough credits as long as she stays in Florida. They all have articulation agreements between the local cc's and all Fl 4 year colleges. This might get her in the persnickity college that she'd love to go to.

Plan C: ROTC scholarship to a four year college. She'd have to sign on for 8 years, but they would cover all expenses.

So far, that's what we're up to. I'll keep you posted on the next steps as they come up. For now, I'm off to work on those darned


The Road to College...

My dh thinks that I should document what we did Allison's senior year to get her into college. I have to admit that I'm a bit nervous to write this all down. There are NO guarantees that we'll even get her into a four year college. Although that may be the case, I will not consider it a failure if she ends up at our local community college for her AA degree. That, in itself is an accomplishment worthy of cheering and rejoicing. I'm thankful that Allison has goals and we have 3 plans to accomplish those goals. My plan is to update the blog throughout the process, so this will be more of a series instead of one long post.LOL

Now, on to part one...

The first thing we did to help Allison look more marketable to colleges this year, was to enroll her in the Dual Enrollment program at our local community college. Most colleges that I researched were looking for some outside accountability, somewhere. Did it have to be college course work? No, but for us it was the best option. Colleges want to know that your student can do the work and they like to see that your student can complete work from an outside teacher. We happen to live right next door to our local community college, so it was a shoo-in for ease and access. If you are looking to have your student enroll in the DE program, start early! It was a lot of paperwork and we ended up walking a lot of it through all the different channels.

Something else to consider is outside work. Colleges like to see responsible young adults that can manage work and school. Finding a good part-time job can help your student look responsible AND that employer makes a great reference letter later on to your top college pick. Allison has worked part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer for two years now. She's proven herself responsible, hard working, AND able to balance work, school, and extra-curricular activities.

Work and school are great but without any fun your student looks a little boring on that application. Now it's time to look into some fun activities that your student might be good at. Allison picked swimming for our local highschool. She loves the water, it's an extension of her job and it shows that she has interests outside of school. She's working extremely hard to lower her times right now and if she can get them low enough, she may even qualify for college sports scholarships. If not, then she still has interests to put on that all important transcript.

All of the things listed above, had to be completed before the school year began. Surprisingly enough, the swimteam was most important to set up before the year began. Because of rules by the FHSAA, if she had decided after the year began, she would have been ineligible to join the team. We barely got her in and it was dicey that she'd get to stay in. She proclaimed her decision two weeks before the year began thankfully.

Once the year began, her primary job was to keep her grades up and learn how to juggle all of her outside commitments. It was tough at first but she has really thrived in this environment.

On the college front, she decided to take a full load for DE. She has three classes consisting of College Algebra, Spanish 1, and English Composition. Not even half way through her 1st semester, she had to decide and pick her next semester's classes. Things move quickly in college, we've She picked Spanish 2, Elementary Statistics, and Chemistry 1 for her next semester. These are all classes she needs for college and for highschool graduation. So far, she's doing wonderfully in her classes. She loves her teachers and has made some friends. It's been a good fit for her.

Next, we had to begin to study and plan for her SAT. Yes, we really needed to start this much earlier but since we're new at this this is when we began. Allison took her first SAT in her Jr year. She scored well enough to enter the DE program at any level that she wanted to. They allowed her free reign of any classes. But her scores are not that great for someone who would like a scholarship at a 4 year college, so we signed her up for the October test date. We wanted the scores to be in before the November 1st early action deadline for her top pick colleges. If she did well, then I think she'll be accepted by her favorite colleges. If not, then we'll sign up for the next available test date and study

So those are the things that we've already done and Allison is currently doing. Next I'll talk about what I'm currently doing and what she's gearing up to


Friday, September 25, 2009

Another sewing project...

I saw this really neat dress on the Gap website the other day and it inspired me. The top was made of a ribbed knit tank top and the dress was made of vertical striped fabric, in layers, like the layered skirts I make. Well, it made me think. If you can use tank tops, you could probably make dresses out of old t-shirts, right?LOL So, here is my first attempt at a t-shirt dress...


I took this little green t-shirt that Evie out-grew and made it into a brand new dress for Sophia. I roll-hemmed the top and bottom of the blue fabric, used my sewing machine to gather the fabric at the top and then sewed the fabric to the bottom of the t-shirt. This was an extremely easy project and took no more than 30 minutes from start to finish. Not only that, but it was mostly free. I paid $1.00 for a yard of the blue fabric and only used 7 inches of it for this dress. The t-shirt was a hand me down, so I count that as free. I can see that using a long sleeved shirt would make a nice winter dress. That will probably be what I work on next.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Jon's Eggroll Recipe...

Supplies required are as follows:

1 bag of shredded coleslaw cabbage
1 bag of precooked frozen shrimp (you can buy raw, just prepare that like you would for shrimp cocktail)
Soy Sauce
1 package of eggroll wrappers (I recommend having 1 extra)
Vegetable oil


Use just enough oil to cover the bottom of your favorite skillet and pour in the bag of coleslaw cabbage, along with your desired amount of shrimp, fry it until the cabbage is fully cooked and add a good splash of soy sauce. Drain out excess oil and put the cabbage and shrimp in a bowl. Now that it is all cooked, this is when I normally remove the tails from the shrimp and cut them into chunks. Now get your eggroll wrappers out along with a bowl of water, take a decent amount of cabbage/ shrimp and place it in the lower/middle of the eggroll and follow the wrapping directions on the package. Now just fill a saucepan with enough oil to half cover an eggroll and fry untill they are golden brown.


(I'll take some photos of the process sometime this week.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Random and Varied...

One of my favorite things to do after a very long week is to look through all the photos that various people took. I always find it interesting to see what everyone finds important to them. I'm also thankful that the older kids feel comfortable borrowing my camera and I'm planning on buying a smaller camera for the younger ones to use. That way, we'll see what they think is important a little more often.

This first photo is by Jon. Before he and my Dh went to Ohio for Grandma's memorial, Jon wanted to make sure that I'd have food to eat. He made me 42 egg rolls! I know that there are only 37 in this photo...I was He really is a master chef!

This next photo is of the extremely noisy frog/toad that Allison raised from a tadpole last year and it not only survived, it has been a pain in the neck ever

Here is Isaac, not only smiling but showing off his latest creation...a shark. I think he did a great job! The kids love homemade playdough.

Here is my Sophia. Her hair is getting so long!

Just look at those curls and that color!

Here is Sophia's masterpiece. Would you believe that she did this with watercolors? She really knows how to use the space on paper and her colors are amazing. Every picture she draws or paints or colors is completely used when she's

Well, that's all the photos I have for now. Genevieve is getting excited about her 7th birthday coming up. Allison's school is great. It's a great fit for her. Jon is excelling this year. He's an amazing student and I'm thankful for his servant's heart. Isaac and Sophia are staying out of big trouble and keeping busy with all our activities. I'm 11 weeks along now with our newest little one and everything is going well. My only complaint is exhaustion but I really can't complain. It was a lot worse with my last one. So, there's my update. Sorry I'm not keeping up with this blog much. It's hard to manage everyone and everything and still have energy at the end of the Maybe once I get my sea-legs things will get easier. We'll