Friday, May 31, 2013

I really did mean to blog more this week.....

And then this happened......

The swing broke and he landed on his elbow - hard. Four hours in the ER - who thought it might be broken - three hours at the orthopedist the next day - who was fairly certain it wasn't but just to be safe let's splint it for a week anyway. So I agreed. They'll recheck next week and hopefully he'll have it removed entirely.

I haven't been sleeping great anyway this didn't help. The good news was that Middle is a great reader and does not need tutoring. YAY!

And we got his evaluation in time for his new plan. YAY!

Next week looks like a doozy. Appointments every. single. day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Father's Day rapidly approaching.....

I always miss my Daddy. ( I never called him Dad - just didn't seem to fit. He was always Daddy, even when I had my own kids)   Lately though, I've been missing him more and more.

My parents married way too young - for them - and they split up when I was eight. My mother wound up working two hours away and we moved and then she was transferred and we were four hours away. I loved the small town that Daddy and Momma grew up in and I loathed having to leave it. I always (and still do) long to return. I used to go stay with my maternal grandmother - who lived and worked there still - every chance I got. When my mother had to go to California to work during a telephone worker strike I got to live there for four months or so. I would have happily stayed.

For I was much more like my Daddy than my mother.

From him I got my stubbornness, my tenacity, my love of the outdoors and sports and music. Daddy and I could always tell a song by the opening notes. Music was so important to both of us - we could 'feel' what the song was about.  I have his record collection and I love to listen to the vinyl records. I close my eyes and I'm sitting with him and my step mom on the porch of 'The House' (his parents place that he inherited on their death) on a summer's evening as the twilight crept over the land.

And though I got my absolute love of sports from him I did not get his ability. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Daddy was a scratch golfer - every day he'd hit a huge bucket of balls. He would have been playing golf the day he died if there hadn't been a tropical storm headed our way.

We didn't know how to bridge that gap the years had created. I think he was scared of me and I know I was a bit scared of him. Not because he was scary - he wasn't - underneath that sometimes gruff exterior was a shy tender hearted man. I'm not sure he felt comfortable around many people even though he was one of thirteen kids.

His death was sudden and shocking and I'm not sure I've really forgiven God for it. I see him in my kids - he would have enjoyed the boys - at a distance perhaps - but he would have gotten such a kick out of their antics.

My Middle would have been Papa's best buddy.

He too is shy and tender hearted beneath a gruff exterior. He loves the outdoors and is a golfer. He has the talent that skipped me entirely. He would have shared Daddy's gift of silences - just happy to be with him. He'd of tagged along everywhere and anywhere and Daddy's pride in Middle's golf skills would have been boundless.

I can see Daddy's face light up as Oldest plays the piano - that music he loved so much. Hear him laugh and shake his head at how smart Youngest is - how sure of himself he is.
 Me standing - as a toddler -  in front of 'The House' and Daddy's favorite car - 'The Fugitive'. (A Ford Galaxy with a Shelby Mustang engine in it)

I got Daddy's strong opinions too. And I miss having him here to rant with. We didn't do it often but I'm more comfortable with me now and I think I understand him better. I could use with a good old gripe session on the front porch and someone agreeing with me and getting as riled up as I do about it.

I've done the long goodbye that wasn't that long, really, and I've had someone snatched away that I felt like I really didn't appreciate or understand while he was here. 

And it still hurts....  


This is the first year of my life I've had to face without my grandmother. Words will never express the unconditional love she had for me and my brother. She did not hesitate to let us know if she thought we made the wrong choice on something but not once did I feel like she withdrew her love despite her disapproval. I lost count of the times she bailed me out of whatever trouble I'd managed to get myself into.

But it was more than that. It was being able to pick up the phone and dial and her voice was on the other end. It was hours of picking apart our favorite soap and the characters or her 'story' as she and my Great Aunt - her best friend - called them. Just hearing her soft sweet voice brought my blood pressure down a few notches.

She was the only daughter. Sister to her older brothers who felt a tremendous responsibility and deep love for her. I heard it in the voice of her oldest living brother when he spoke to and of her. I read it in the many letters of the middle brother that he wrote during World War II. You see, my grandmother and her brothers lost their mother. My Grandmother was 8 when it happened.

My great grandfather, who had waited so late (in those days) to marry, who'd already had to bury their oldest boy at 3 days old, was left a widower in the Depression with three children to raise. And he did it well. My grandmother never doubted her father and brother's love for her. The three children grew and one was a Naval Engineer in WWII. One was a Captain in the Army Airforce and a lawyer. My Grandmother served in her capacity as a nurse.

I never remember my grandmother with anything but the softest whitest hair. It had an unruly curl at the front. Her cowlick, she called it and oh how it annoyed her. She learned to work with it instead of against it and mostly it held her crisply starched white nurse cap in place. My grandmother loved being a nurse. She always work a crisp starched white uniform with cap, hose and nurse shoes. She served in almost every capacity in her nursing career and only retired when medicine went from being a healing business to just being a business. She'd already beaten breast cancer at that point.

She loved to read - mysteries in particular. She adored the opera and collected music boxes. She loved Wilmington - it's soft river mists, the moss hanging from the cypress trees, the tea colored water of the Cape Fear River. It was home.

I only ever saw her cry - really cry - twice. Once was when her Daddy died. The other was when her daughter - my mother - died a mere three months before she did. It's a horrible thing to watch someone you love bury their child.

She and I had a special bond. I would and did ask her things my mother never dreamed of asking her and she always answered me. We looked at the world the same way - she - part of the Greatest Generation and me - part of the Generation Reagan. My mother and I were polar opposites in almost everything and I always felt as if I were a disappointment to her. I did not feel that way about my grandmother. There was nothing left unspoken between my grandmother and I before she died. No regrets other than I didn't want to let go of her. I didn't tell her that of course. She felt bad enough about leaving us though I know she was ready to go home. My prayer was that she entered Heaven's gates and her mother and father and her brothers - all three of them would be waiting along with my mother. All those she loved and loved her. She went quickly - pancreatic cancer works that way - and as a nurse she knew only too well what to expect. I think she welcomed it - both her father and oldest brother had lingered for over ten years - bedridden - before they passed. She did not want that for herself. The only pain she couldn't handle came in the last three days and Hospice helped ease that. They knew she was one of them and they treated her like a peer. The nurses treated her like royalty - they told her what they were doing and why. They asked her permission. They never talked down to her. I loved that. She deserved that.

My mother thought she was weak minded because grandma generally deferred to other people. I thought my mother was wrong - my grandmother - like so many ladies of her era - had a quiet grace and strength about her that I could only pretend at. She had survived so much and was such a quiet tower of strength.

She adored my boys and they adored her. My husband doted on her. Like me he was his grandma's baby and she reminded him of his own grandmother. She always always sent cards on birthdays and holidays. The first time I really fell apart after her death was on my birthday when there was no card.

There was so much - conflict - between me and my mother that it has stifled the grieving process for me. I'm still trying to work through it all with her. Still waiting to miss her.

I did not wait to miss my grandmother. I missed her from the moment she breathed her last. I missed her from the moment they told me I would lose her very soon - that the cancer was too far gone and she was too weak to fight it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mosaic Reviews - My Home School Grades

I received a lifetime subscription to My Home School Grades for review.

My Home School Grades was created by a homeschool dad - John Echols -  and a homeschool graduate -Jordan Shute -  who wanted to create a way to put all of the information a homeschool needs - record wise - in one place.  The result is a very easy to use program that can be used on any device and updated at any time. But more on that later on in my review....

I was anxious to be chosen to review this product as it looked wonderful on the website. Once I logged in I was amazed at how easy it was to use. There are four tutorials that can lead you through the process of adding a student, adding a class, track extracurricular activities or create a college ready transcript. I really didn't need those but it was nice to know they were there in case I ran into trouble.

I started by entering my students. You can upload a picture or use a cute chalk drawn stick person as a picture. (Please click on all photos to see them larger)

After entering the students, then you start adding your classes.  You do not have to enter current classes only. You can recreate an entire school career as there are many school year options available.

You assign credits, select your school year - select full year or semester - subject, etc. There are options for dual enrolled students and AP/Honors class indicators. You can also set up your own grading. If you are creating a transcript for an entire school career or you just don't use grades - then you can use Pass or Fail. There are many other grading options as well. Some publishers are pre-loaded and you can always request new ones be added.

After you enter your subjects then you can go in an entire your lessons for each class. I've got a screen shot of Teaching Textbooks PreAlgebra shown here. It really was super easy.

You can go back and edit the class as needed. I add lessons and grades as he moves through the program. I try to do this weekly for each kid.

It's also easy to enter in activities for each child:

And the transcript looks very professional. (There is personal information also on the transcript that I cannot show for privacy reasons.)

As I said before - you can use this on all platforms. The record keeping software I formerly used only works on PC's. We are almost exclusively a Mac family at this point. I really appreciate being able to use this program on my iPhone,  iPad, iMac or Macbook. There are many places where I'm sitting and waiting for the boys and I can catch up on grading and entering at my convenience. And that it is so easy to use is just icing on the cake.

A Lifetime Membership is just $49.99. This includes all upgrades - attendance is one that is currently in the works. They also offer a 14 day free trial just so you can get a feel for the program.

My Home School Grades is very concerned with information privacy. I advise reading their Privacy Policy if you have any concerns.  The staff are very responsive and if your question isn't answered on the website - simply click on Support and drop them a message, report a bug or request a curriculum provider be entered into the database.

I really enjoyed this product and would highly recommend it. I plan on using it from here on out to keep a computerized record of our homeschool data. 

Be sure and check out My Home School Grades on Twitter and Facebook!

To read what others on the Team had to say about this product please click here.

Also, be sure to join us on Facebook on May 24th at 9pm Eastern Time for a Facebook Party. It's a lot of fun! We can answer any questions you may have. :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mosaic Reviews - Waterproof Bible

I received a Waterproof Bible from Bardin&Marsee Publishing for review. I received a very pretty blue King James Version - New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs edition. 

I liked the compact size and the feel of the pages on my fingers. I worry when I use my 'regular' Bible - the pages feel fragile and forget marking on it because it bleeds through.

Not with this Bible- you can write in pencil, dry highlighter or even some types of pens. It just feels sturdy and durable. I can think of a million and one places that I wind up traveling that would make this a great carry along. During the summer I spend a lot of time trailing around after Middle on golf courses. I can pack this in the cooler or in the golf bag and not worry about leaky drinks or sunscreen or anything ruining it. It just wipes off and it is once again like new. It's perfect for the beach or a baptism or a soak in the tub.

My boys have had a blast trying this out. They have sunk it in the bathtub, taken it out in the rain, gotten cheeto fingers on it, you name it. I even spilled coffee on it once.

I decided to send it out for the ultimate test - I sent it with our Youth Group on their beach retreat. They happily took it and read it in the showers and then took it to the beach, where it floated. (I will spare you their corny water jokes.)

And being kids they didn't take a. single. picture. :sigh:

So I had to take other pictures to demonstrate a few of the ways we tested it out.

Ran water on it:

Coffee spill?

 Washes right off!

These Bibles are available in five translations:

ESV - English Standard Version

KJV - King James Version

NKJV - New King James Version

NIV - New International Version

NLT - New Living Translation

You can choose between a full Bible at $44.95 - with a choice of colors - Blue, Camo or Pink, or a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs for $24.95. For an extra fee imprinting/personalization is available.

I am seriously considering purchasing a full version for our family. Our Bible takes a lot of abuse - we use it constantly for school and take it with us any number of places. A durable Bible that could withstand three roughhousing boys and a forgetful clumsy Mom is a keeper. 

To read what other team members had to say about this product click here.