Living Among Boxes and Paint

I used to love painting.  Our plan when closing on the new house at the end of July and closing on the old house at the end of this month was to allow us to peacefully enjoy the transition and do all that we wanted to do to the new house BEFORE moving in.  What grandiose ideas!

I wanted to do all the painting myself.  My husband said we should hire someone.  I said but I love to paint and it will give me the satisfaction of doing it myself.  He said I didn’t have time nor did I need the stress.  I said I didn’t want to pay professional prices and I enjoyed painting.  Yeah, well – I’ve never tackled that many rooms before and really should have listened to him (did you read that dear?).  I did have a couple of friends help with the painting.  It did get done.  I DO feel the satisfaction.  But it was stressful and if I never see a paintbrush again that will be okay.  :)  I admit it.  It took A LOT more time than I had anticipated…so while most of the house did get cleaned…I did not accomplish all that I had hoped for.

We did attempt to hire someone to paint the ‘recreation’ room – what will be my office/library area.  The first guy didn’t come through though- personal issues kept him from starting so we had to find someone else.  The someone else is doing an incredible job thus far but his personality is a little overwhelming.  I’m trying to stay focused on the positive that he has really pulled through for us in getting this job done!  If he does a great job we may hire him for more!

But all of this was the least of our problems this month.  Take all of the ‘joys’ of moving and add our son adapting to football practice (which is a half hour away until we are sleeping in the new house which will hopefully begin tomorrow), the van breaking down and needing towed to two different places, bees, carpenter ants, water damage, locksmiths, phone and internet issues, a pool I don’t have a clue on how to maintain and, well….you get the picture.

Right now I sit here amongst these:

wpid-img_20140819_073539_705.jpg         wpid-img_20140819_073550_912.jpg         wpid-img_20140819_073606_220.jpg

and this:

wpid-img_20140819_073736_980.jpgI’ve noted they don’t seem to be using the whole roll of tape before tossing it…..sort of irritating as I’m betting we probably pay by the roll….

But the old house is mostly packed up and some of it loaded onto the trucks already.  They are really being very quick and efficient. I hear word they’ll start delivering tomorrow!!  It’s exciting but overwhelming as well.

So that’s why I haven’t posted anything this month (except for the one I posted earlier today that SHOULD have been posted back on the 4th!  Oh well!)  Hopefully things will get back to some normality in September!

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Homeschool 2014-2015 Day #1

Yes, that’s right.

Today is officially Day #1 of the new homeschool year for us.  Actually, we’ve already had days we could count for our 180 school days as required by the Pennsylvania State Law. The five days my son spent at St. Tikhon’s summer camp were not only super fun, but he always learns a lot.  Of course, I don’t count all 5 days – that to me would be really pushing it.  But I usually give him an extra ‘flex’ day because of it – BUT he still needs to finish his academics according to plan.  So what this really means is he still needs to complete his academics but if he finishes them ahead of the 180 academic days planned, he doesn’t have to do anything extra for the remaining few days – as he’s already done extra ‘field-trip’ type days that more than make up for it.  He not only had his day(s) at St. Tikhon’s but had Scout Camp and had some hands on learning type activities on our family vacation as well.  All in all, I’d say those days count for at least 4-5 school days should he finish up the academic work a bit early. So really…today is day 6… we just don’t officially call it that.


Here’s a few of the materials my older son will be using this year.

So today he begins academics for his tenth grade year (and his first meeting about playing football with the public school….yikes!)

My son has a folder containing his goals and expectations for the school year.

Inside are the following materials:

  • The 180 Day plan sheets.  They look  a bit like this:

Each day tells him what he needs to complete that day.  It also displays the date for him to fill out in case the plan does not go, well – as planned,and what day of the 180 he is on as well as how many days are left!

  • A week by week break down of what he has to do for his World Studies course.  I broke this down weekly rather than daily as it was cumbersome to include in the daily plans and this gives him more independence and responsibility to time himself through the week or ability to get it all done in a day or two and be done with it rather than the break down I did with the other coursework.
  • A page displaying our grading scale as a reminder to him for goal setting.
  • An email from his Chemistry Lab teacher explaining what is expected for lab.
  • Other miscellaneous items can be added as time progresses depending on need.  It’s a tool he’s to use daily.  He is to check off each item as it’s completed and bring it to me no less than once per week so I can double check his progress and see what quizzes/tests/assignments need graded.

It was sooooo nice last year NOT to have to sit through at least one if not two or more painful hours not only checking materials but planning for the next week.  Planning for the whole year at once was LESS time consuming and left my Friday evenings much less stressful through the rest of the year.  Yes – it really was LESS time consuming.  While it wasn’t a breeze – it did not involve the time it does to do this during the school year week by week.  I strongly encourage you to try.  If you don’t have time to do the whole year right now, try doing it for a semester or at least a 9 week period.

Does anyone else do a 180 day plan?  What other planning methods do you use?


**Note:  This post SHOULD have been posted on August 4th…but due to all of the things involved in our move, I haven’t even looked at my dashboard to realize it hadn’t posted!  So…. now I’ll go see if I have any others that didn’t post!



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Writing Exercise # 8 Literary Telephone

Literary Telephone

I have not tried this one myself, but it sounds like so much fun!  I think I’m going to have to try to get my family to do this one….hmmm…how to talk them into it since it’s not ‘school time’?  They are not all the lovers of writing that I am….hmmm…maybe chocolate?

So here goes:

The first person writes a brief descriptive paragraph – it can be about anything: an event, a person, a place, the dinner you served the night before.

The next person reads the descriptive paragraph (keeping it to themselves) and rewrites it in a very boring style, using no descriptive language.

The third person then reads the non-descriptive paragraph and rewrites this one using descriptions.

The exercise can stop here but, if you have more people, just keep passing it on following the same steps of one person reading a descriptive paragraph, rewriting it in a non-descriptive way and passing it on to someone else to write descriptively.  The person writing  should only ever see the paragraph written by the person just before them until all are done.  Then enjoy reading the various paragraphs!  Notice how they change (various words for description)and the difference between descriptive and non-descriptive pieces.

I would love for you to share your results!

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Monthly Wrap-Up: July

Wrapping It Up

July has been quite the busy month for me and my family.   We’ve been busy with loan papers and other important paperwork involved in the selling and purchasing of a home, the joys of juggling two cars among 3 people that need them, planning on the upcoming school year and planning, packing and enjoying church camp, a family camping vacation and scout camp among many other things!

 My Writing World

I’ve kept up with my writing goals!

  • Do the best I can to put in ten hours a week (absolute minimum) into my writing – the ten hours does have to include my blog writing time, book writing time and the time I take to read other blogs (about writing and the topics I write about), check for information, etc. on the SCBWI site and the 12 x 12 Challenge forum, critiquing, etc.
  • I have posted 12-15 posts this month on the blog (My goal is 12-15:  I posted 15 counting today) including some book reviews here and here.
  • Part of my ten hours is of course spent on writing besides the blog!  I have worked quite a bit on a manuscript that I sent in for a professional critique.  I mentioned this in my post on Point of View in chapter 3 of Writing Picture Books.  I have gotten some really good feedback on what I have revised thus far.
  • I also formed a new critique group and am looking forward to getting to know my critique partners better and seeing what they write!
  • And the most amazing thing of all  – I got an answer to that query letter and yes, while I’ m not trying to get my hopes up too high… I DID at least get a request for the manuscript!  (imagine me doing my happy dance here) :)

My Book World

  • This hasn’t been going quite as well as my writing time.  Mostly because my reading time is at night/bedtime when I am more likely to get interrupted by my teens wanting to talk.  They certainly don’t get up at 5:30 in the morning to talk to me but they do tend to wander in to my room at 9:30 or 10:00.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does take away my natural reading time.
  • I have been reading a few really good books actively:  Engaging Today’s Prodigal and The Graveyard Book (my current Newberry Medal read) are my own selections for ‘older’ reading while my picture book world has included titles such as Help! A Story of Friendship,  Bluebird Summer, and Grandma’s Purple Flowers. My youngest son has also taken the notion for me to read a chapter book to him- it wasn’t my pick- but he seems to be enjoying Geronimo Stilton’s “I’m Not Too Fond of My Fur”.
  • I was able to start Grain Brain as my husband convinced me I needed to while I was away at Potter County.  It’s full of good solid information thus far.

Our Homeschool World

There hasn’t been much going on in this area for my youngest.  Of course we read every day and that’s the most important thing to do.  But our lessons haven’t happened because things just keep getting in the way.

I took the week my son was away at Church Camp (St. Tikhon’s Summer Church Camp in South Canaan, Pennsylvania)  to work on his lesson plans for next year.  All 180 days have been planned with exactly what he needs to do each day – with the exception of physical education because we have a few things to look into before decisions are made on that.  I plan on writing up a post about this very soon!

Our Food/Health World

This part of our world is a little tricky in July.  It does require some thought and planning with all the camps and vacation, etc.  I think I have finally nailed a good routine as far as our general menu planning goes for days at home – more on that in a month or so- but planning for time away does pose a few problems sometimes.  Summer camp was NOT a problem though.  The people who prepare the meals at St. Tikhon’s are WONDERFUL and they cook a lot of the food for the kids from scratch which is amazing since they cook for so many kids.  I only had to supplement a few things for my son this year.  There were some meals that didn’t need any tweaking on my part or theirs at all.   Scout camp is quite different.  Unfortunately, the majority of their food is prepackaged processed items and I needed to plan an entire menu and provide food for all that he needed.  Family vacation with my family is a little stressful trying to balance what other people are serving with what I need to supplement.  Trying to figure out what I need to bring to ensure that we have enough to eat without bringing a lot of food that has the potential to be wasted is tricky- but certainly doable.

Other Parts of Life

July didn’t allow much time for other parts of life other than what I’ve mentioned due to camps, vacation and lots of paperwork and decluttering (and selling things on online garage sales!).  The other highlights of course were the week in Potter County, PA which I posted about here.  And closing on our new house!!  WOOT!  (which happens today by the way!)

So How Was Your Month?


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Know The Homeschool Law

As it comes close to the end of July, there are homeschoolers across Pennsylvania that already have homeschool days in for the year.  The Pennsylvania homeschool year can begin on July first, as long as you have your affidavit and other paperwork handed into the school district.

Note above, that I said ‘handed in’ and NOT ‘approved’.  The school district superintendent does not need to approve your plan.  You may begin counting days as soon as you have handed in your required paperwork.  I do always, however, recommend obtaining a receipt that you did hand that paperwork in.  This was the first year that my school district superintendents secretary didn’t shake her head when I handed her my own receipt for her to sign.  I always make sure that I have specifically listed each and every document that I have handed in and have a signature to show evidence of doing that should anything turn up missing later.

As you begin the new homeschool year, I urge you to review the law.  KNOW the law yourself.  Do not depend on others to know it for you.  One would hope that you have good resources around you – other homeschool moms/dads, homeschool co-op members, and your evaluator – but do NOT depend on these people to know everything there is to know.  Sometimes they have it wrong.  Sometimes an entire community has it wrong.  So read it yourself and find a truly reliable source that really will know that law inside and out so you aren’t overlooking a necessary component to following the law AND so that you aren’t doing something totally unnecessary.

As a case in point:  When I moved to a new community 6 years ago, I was surprised that everyone around me seemed to be studying Pennsylvania history each and every year.  This confused me and I double checked.  No, Pennsylvania history is not a requirement every year.  It simply needs to be covered at some point during the elementary years and again, at some point, during the secondary years.  This is true of all of the subjects.  None of them NEED to be covered each and every year except for the regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires. Nor do you have to do school subjects on days you have field trips because, no, you do not have to work on all of your subjects every day.  However, somehow a lot of people in this community had been given a different impression.  Even some evaluators were under that impression…so… please be sure to double check everything you are told for yourself.

For further information regarding the law, please see my previous posts:  Pennsylvania Homeschool Law , Pennsylvania Homeschool Law #2, Homeschooling in Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Homeschool Graduation Requirements.

So while your homeschool parent friends, co-op leaders and evaluators are usually wonderful sources for curriculum information, sharing ideas, emotional support and yes, even knowledge of the law, double check that information – especially about the law.  Do not ASSUME what they say to be true really is.

When I double check the law, the people I always go to as my number one source are the Pennsylvania representatives of HSLDA.  HSLDA representatives have always been able to answer my questions, big and small, within a 48 hour time period- usually much quicker.  While I understand the cost of being a member can be expensive for some families, I see it as a very worthwhile insurance policy if you are able to afford it.  Their website itself offers a ton of information that I can always be sure of the legal accuracy of the information.

What is your favorite source to KNOW THE LAW?

If you have questions about the Pennsylvania homeschool law – or other questions about homeschooling in general, let me know.  I’m always looking for subjects to write about!



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Twenty Two Years Ago.


                         We invited others to share in our joy and our commitment.


I married my best friend.


He is still the one I laugh with, live for, dream with and love.


Hand in hand, we will venture forth – sharing in the sacrament God led us to and leads us in every day.

I love you Theodore Federoff.  YOU are my one and only.  Forever.

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Great Cabbage – Paleo Skillet Dish

I’ve been making some really good cabbage.  Both in terms of the slang word for money and the Brassica family.  :)

I’ve been selling lots of things on a local Facebook page for online garage sales.  So far I have decluttered my home of videos, unused wii games, baby toys, games, a keyboard, various books, and a few kitchen items and cookbooks and I’ve been saving that cabbage to go towards purchases for the new house.  (Closing Date Coming Soon!)

In other parts of my kitchen, I’ve been making cabbage that is good enough to eat (even by my son who used to turn up his nose at the stuff).  I used to make fried cabbage about once or twice a summer simply because my husband and I loved it.  Secondly, because cabbage is really cheap for a meal (thus saving the other kind of cabbage).  But my kids complained and I hate complaining and just avoided making it at other times – except my cabbage casserole because- well- that’s really good.

Now I found a way to make fried cabbage so I have one less complainer.  I thank Sarah Fragoso for this one as I found the base recipe in her Everyday Paleo Cookbook.  It’s a great cookbook and well worth every piece of cabbage I spent on it.  :)  Here’s my version which is very close to Sarah’s.

recipe title=”Great Fried Cabbage” servings=”5-6″  time=”45 minutes”  difficulty=”easy”]

  • 1 package nitrate/nitrite free uncured bacon, preferably organic
  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded in food processor or chopped by hand
  • 1 medium to large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup homemade chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:   Cut bacon with kitchen shears into pieces about 2 inches long.  Brown bacon with onion s in large skillet.  Remove bacon and onions from pan (NOT the yummy bacon grease!) and set aside.  Add the chopped cabbage to the hot skillet and stir it around the grease for about 4 minutes, allowing the cabbage to wilt slightly.  Add vinegar, chicken broth, mustard, salt and pepper.  Mix Well.  Allow to simmer on medium heat for ten minutes.  Add the bacon and onion mixture. Allow to simmer for another ten minutes.

This dish is great by itself (just use an extra big cabbage) or is also really good served with pork chops and/or sweet potatoes.






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Too Many Blogs, Too Little Time

As I go around my house in attempts to declutter and minimize in preparation for the big move coming in August,  I’m also trying to declutter my email.

It is ridiculously overwhelming at how many emails I get in both my personal email and the one I reserve to ‘writing’ only.  On Mondays, it’s tenfold.  That’s the day I get all the blogs I follow that I have selected weekly emails only. So……  as much as it kills me to have to hit that unsubscribe button, I have been doing it a bit more.  I know there is NO WAY I’m going to be able to read all these emails.  I usually end up hitting delete anyway after a week or two of it sitting there still unread.

So for the past two Mondays, instead of using my morning time (30-60 minutes that I get by forcing myself to get up early) to work on my writing, I sit and read blog posts and determine –  “Is this blog really benefitting me?  Do I really get something out of this person’s writing?  Is it someone I enjoy interacting with or do they give me information that will truly contribute to my days/time?” If not, well – I’m sorry.

It really does make a difference though.  It’s so much easier to glance at my email in the morning and determine if there is something truly important there that I need to attend to – like seeing the response to that query letter right away – WHICH I DID!!!  And a request was there!!!  Now I need to keep it decluttered waiting for a response to an actual submission!

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The Purpose of Man

“God created us in His own likeness and image.  He gave us intelligence, free will and an immortal soul, so that knowing God and becoming like Him, we would all become better, perfect ourselves, and inherit eternal blessed life with God.  Therefore the existence of man on earth has deep meaning, great purpose and a high goal.”  ~ Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy in The Law of God

It seems to be a constant debate.  What is the purpose of life?  What is man’s purpose?  What is MY purpose?

For people without faith, I imagine that life does seem incomprehensible.  For even in my days of challenge….those days where I allow the sin of this world to pull me down and away from turning to God for my needs – on those days life does seem accidental and without true meaning and , well, sort of hopeless.  So if I, a Christian, can be pulled away from Him even momentarily and lose my sense of balance in this world – so must it be a whirlwind of doubt and wonder at the cause and reason of it all to an unbeliever.

But the true purpose of man is to know the true God.  With this comes having true faith and believing in Him and living one’s life according to that faith – loving God, our neighbor and doing works of kindness and goodness.  It is indeed necessary to have a life in keeping with our faith to obtain salvation. What greater purpose could there be?

The purpose of Man is not to obtain degrees.  It is not to have great earthly riches or a great retirement account.  It is not to become world-famous.  It is not to complete each task on a bucket list.  The purpose of man is to know God.

Scholars have confirmed that people/cultures in all times have believed in some sort of deity, always having some sort of religion.  This is because the soul thirsts for God.  Having originated in God, the soul by its own will turn to God seeking Him.  The atheistic populations are actually exceptions to the norm – and even they are looking for something (though most don’t usually readily admit it).

So in this hustle and bustle world we live in – when you find yourself feeling something is lacking….feeling like there must be something more that you are missing – ask yourself:  “Am I making God my purpose or am I seeking comforts of earthly matters? ”  If you are not consciously making God your purpose (as was designed to be), then that is what is missing.  It is He that you need.  Turn to Him.  Find your purpose.

“As the deer longs for the springs of waters,

So my soul longs for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for the living God:

When shall I come and appear before the face of God?” ~ Psalm 42: 1-3


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Potter County – God’s Country

Today’s post is a photographic display of one of my favorite places to be – a place I have been going to almost every summer for as long as I can remember.  I hope you enjoy :)

2010-07-21 15.10.08    2010-07-20 13.58.10


2010-07-18 09.24.102010-07-18 09.50.10

2010-07-22 08.12.39-1   DSCF1932

Everyone needs a place of escape.  This is one of mine.  What’s yours?



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