Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Time will ease your pain.  Life's about changing.  Nothing ever stays the same."  That Patty Loveless song from 1999 has run through my mind many, many times.  Mostly because it is so true.  And then there's that great quote from The Sound of Music, "When God closes a door, He always opens a window."  Also true.

That beautiful horse in the picture above, is gone from our lives now.  He looks so wonderful there.  We were so lucky to have him.  I wonder if we will come across another as good, ever.

I had to make that horrible, horrible decision to say goodbye to Reno, the best horse ever, in the fall.  He was 29 and I only got to love him for 5 years.  What a great 5 years he gave me.  It was a beautiful day, and I didn't want to try to coax him through a tough winter when he couldn't really eat hay very well.  He was showing signs of pre-Cushing's syndrome, and was even foundering on the grass that came in after the drought ended.  So I couldn't turn him out very much, and he couldn't eat hay very well!  It was not a good situation. 

It was the right albeit terrible decision.  Several friends, whom I will never be able to repay, came and managed the whole process for me.  I could not attend.  Some may be able to do that, but when I talked with the vet on the phone, even she said she couldn't do it with her own horses.   The only good side to it, was that he could be buried here.  We had enough discussed it with several friends who had experience with the process and although Handyman thought it would be nigh-on impossible, it wasn't---again, thanks to some very helpful friends.

"Hi...if you're not doing anything today, could you come attend the euthanization of my 1000 lb. pet and put him in the ground for us? That would be great.  Thanks!  Oh, and I won't be here.  So good luck with all that." 

He is gone but not forgotten and we are getting a stone carved for his site, and planting a super knockout rose outside the fence nearby (otherwise those silly goats will eat it.)

Princess is a little lonely without him, but she does have her goatie girls.  I am not sure if I am actually done with horses.  I did get bucked off my neighbor's horse soon after Reno was gone.  It was not fun.  Probably the most painful part (okay not really), was that I was hurt and could not get back on and ride that sucker into submission myself.  Fortunately, I wasn't so hurt that I couldn't drive a bus! 

That realization that comes over you as you do the quicky assessment, while still lying on the ground....nothing is broke, but something is definitely messed up---dang! he is going to step on me if I don't move fast, and what will happen to my family if I am REALLY injured?!  No surgery today if I can get up quickly!  (which I did.)  But my back/pelvis was jammed up for about 3 weeks.  Sleeping on heating pad, Aleve for breakfast and very slow walking for about a month, and I am back to normal.  Also made me miss Reno all the more.

It was a nasty buck and twist and brought my age right into focus.  Will I keep doing this?  Should I just move over to dogs for good?  Handyman would love to turn that barn into a woodshop.  What  about llamas?  Yeah.  Llamas!  They can't kill me and #3 would love to show a llama at the fair. 

Me?  The one who has looked down my nose at llamas for many years, is actually signing the little one up to lease a llama for the summer.  Pack up the chaps, Honey.  We're getting a pet that can spit at us! :)  Oh, and you don't have to shovel their poop, and they don't need a farrier, and they don't bite or kick or rear or buck.  And, oh can't ride them.  :(

Handyman wants to buy me a mountain we can spend time together.  It's pretty hard to say no to that.  I'm just not sure if I'm interested in working that hard.  Something about having the animal do the work, while I just hang on...but then we won't be hanging out together...

Well, you gotta try these things out, or you'll never know.  I don't think I would be able to turn down just the right horse if it came walking into my life, though.  We may borrow a horse from a friend, just for a companion.  But I'm not sure I'm ready to sell my saddle yet.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mork Calling Orson....come in, Orson!

We are here! We are safe! We are healthy! My two fans, Sally and Horsemom: thank you for checking in frequently, requesting updates. We have been having a hot, dry, but good summer. We were hoping to get about 500 bales of hay off the 1 yr. old field that I manage. Just before the drought began, we (and I say "we" VERY loosely) baled 800 bales of hay!

After putting up our own stash, we sold the remainder almost immediately. Which seemed good, at that time. Had we waited a month, we would have made a terrific profit, but that in a nutshell, is the hay business. The great news is that our loft is full. The bad news is that our pasture is teetering on dead and the hay field did not even grow after the cutting. We have received a couple of inches of rain in the past week. So I do see little green sprouts in my pasture, and I do see the hay field getting a little green besides just the weeds (which do not die in the drought of the century--go figure!) So I have hope.

We made it through the 4H Fair, although we only went one time besides our dog showing days. Little Peanut Daughter was Champion in her showmanship level (!) and Reserve Champion of Rally Obedience. Not bad...considering the complete lack of practice. I was shocked...didn't even have the camera! Bad mommy!

My Percheron therapist went home. I was very sad and disappointed. But when things are beyond your control, they are beyond your control. And it turns out that it is a better thing for me right now. Less poop, less hay, less work, one big thing off my plate. Granted, it was one big thing on my plate, that I LIKED! But sometimes, oftentimes, the Lord knows better than I do. So, on to the next roller coaster hill.

I have been training to be a school bus driver! It is good pay for a great part-time schedule. I take my CDL skills (driving) test next week. I have already passed 4 different written exams and a physical. I drove on the interstate, in a construction zone, last week. I said something like, "Remember when I said that after cancer, nothing is scary to me?? I was LYING!" I did white-knuckle it through the concrete abuttments, but we survived and my terrific trainer just kept saying, "You're doing fine. YOU'RE FINE. There won't be any construction zones on your test." :)

The biggest news of all is, WE ARE COOKING INSIDE! Yes, fans, we got our 10 yr. old, "brand-new" cooktop installed and working just before the one-year mark of July 4. All appliances are in place. New laminate countertops in and happy with that choice. Current issues will be detailed more fully over at the remodeling blog: , I promise! There are many things still to do, choose, install and complete. It is far from over.

#1 will be a senior in about 10 days. She does not believe it and is not embracing it at all. She just likes driving by herself. #2 is sure she is really 16, no matter what her birth certificate says. #3 is not convinced that she just turned 9 since her feet don't touch the floor when she sits at the table. I am delighted to have hair hitting my shoulders, although it is not the glorious hair of old. Thinner, flatter, but legit-ponytail at least. I shall not lament.

I am continuing my nut-job health-food weirdness, handed down to me by my mother. More to come on kefir (dairy and water), goat milk, raw honey (bees say hi!) and my ongoing mission to actually keep my house under control. If you're reading this, please leave a little comment. It really stokes the fire!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I have only a few words today: Corporate taxes are due 3/15...which means my accountant wants to see something before then. Which means I should have done more sooner; which means I am still procrastinating on SOME things, which was one of my New Year's resolutions.

Which means we are having PB&J for most of this week.

Thank you for your patience. We will commence planning again soon.

Feel free to send me your plan so I can sponge off your efforts. :)

Monday, February 27, 2012


I'm not ready! I'm not buckled in yet!

Monday: Eating at MIL's house--THANK the merciful Lord.

Tuesday: Spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. Cooking on the driveway again. Easy and everyone likes it.

Wednesday: Pizza Hut. Awana is back on after two missed weeks due to measles contamination. So we'll be hustling out the door.

Thursday: Handyman is in charge of dinner, because he was gone all week last week. And it's his turn.

Friday: Rueben casserole that I saw in the newspaper. Haven't figured out where I will bake it yet.

Sorry this isn't very helpful to you all. Can I just encourage you to put something down on paper. It makes all the difference in the world. Seriously. :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012


We love our chickens, and we love their eggs. They were our first farm animal. We bought an original flock of chicks about 6 years ago, with some friends. They raised that first group in two baby pools in their garage. They were suburbanites with 6 kids and wanted the experience. Once they were grown into pullets we moved them here, into the coop on wheels that Handyman had built.

They were a terrific flock, half Ameracauna (Easter-Eggers who lay green eggs), and half Rhode Island Reds, with a few unique specimens thrown in. We lost several to hawks, especially in the beginning. We had made them a wonderful aviary with pvc and poultry netting. It eventually got destroyed in a windstorm. Then for awhile they were free range in our orchard. It was absolutely delightful and hilarious to have chickens on the front sidewalk, looking in the sidelights at the front door!

Ameracaunas are wonderful, and they can vary greatly in coloration. We had one who was completely white, named Tweety. We knew she was an Ameracauna by her green legs. We also had one black hen. Her feathers are tipped with gold, and she has the puffy cheek feathers so common to EE's. Even as a chick, she was striking. Our friends named her Falco, because she looked like a falcon.

One spring early on, Falco went broody. This is when a hen decides she wants to hatch chicks. They refuse to get off the nest, no matter what. While they are resistant to getting off the nest, they also lose most of their fear of you in their zeal to sit. Usually hens raised without mothers (like ours), do not go broody.

Falco was a zealot. It went on for weeks. But we had no rooster, so there was no chance this was going to work out. I belonged to a great website called Backyard Chickens, and they have lots of bulletin boards for chicken lovers. I happened to see a post offering bantam hatching eggs, for a low paypal payment, including shipping. So I bought a dozen.

They arrived by Priority Mail the next day, wrapped in bubble wrap.

Bantams are small chickens, about half the normal size. I had had bantams as a teenager. They are terrific. More personality than 3 full-sized chickens. Beautiful colors, lots of fun. Since the eggs are tiny, we put all 12 under Falco.

She was unsure for the first day. Probably ready to give the whole thing up. I think she had already been broody for almost a month at this point! An entire sitting would only take 21 days, so I'm sure her hormones were ebbing. But she was swayed apparently, and commenced sitting. (I'm sure she was happy that I was no longer stealing her eggs.)

At about 2 weeks we candled them, and by golly--there were multiple ones that showed distinct promise. This being our first time to candle eggs, we were too unsure to take any away from her, even if they appeared empty. And on the night before day 21, we moved her and her nest, into a baby pool in our garage.

Sure enough, she hatched them! It was the most glorious, wonderful experience ever. Four fluffy little tiny chicks. We were enchanted. Then our stupid corgi decided he should catch one, and that was then end of that one. Kids learn about death...check that lesson off the list.

Fortunately we had 3 left. And spoiled they became. These were purebred bantam varieties. It turned out that we had a hen and rooster Buff Brahma Bantam and a Blue Cochin hen. They were tamed from birth, just about and became our favored pets. They grew up in our flower garden and we learned the vocalizations of the mother hen. The special sound that says, "DO NOT MOVE! EMMINENT DANGER!" and the one that says, "Come and get it!"

She was a wonderful mother. And she never went broody again. I have several scrapbook pages of "the chicks", and their miracle mother, Falco.

I tell you all this to say, that Falco is now the oldest and only hen left of our original flock of 28. I have one other hen, who I bought as an adult and several little bantam hens raised by their mothers, (who think I am Godzilla.) And Caesar, the little bantam rooster, is the only sibling remaining of his hatching. He is an older guy now, too.

So now we're having the urge to start a new flock. Little #3 doesn't remember raising chicks, so it's time to start thinking about another go-round. We've been through hawks, coyotes and even a loose dog massacre (someone else's dog). Having birds will definitely toughen your hide. But they are fun and the eggs just can't be beat. I purchased organic large eggs at the store, and my homegrown ones are still more orange and robust.

Another idea rattling around in my spring feverish mind...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday--on Tuesday, or Story of My Life

Yeah, yeah, it's Tuesday. So sue me! Just kidding...I can't remember what I was doing on Sunday afternoon. It might have had something to do with blowdrying a chicken, or cleaning up 3.5 gallons of dog barf underneath my office chair floor protector thingy. I am trying to blot out the entire evening really.

So here's my plan:

Monday: Ate at my MIL's. She roasted a giant chicken in the oven. We had salad, steamed baby carrots, (I added honey.) and baked potatoes. I haven't had a baked potato in about 6 months or more. (BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE AN OVEN.) I don't sound bitter, do I?

I did enter the Lowes Makeover $100,000 giveaway. The finalists will be announced on March 5--which isn't too far away. When I told Handyman, his first words were, "I wouldn't have to do the work." I am imagining what it would be like to go to Lowes with a gift card that has a $100,000 balance. I am sure I could apply some of that towards my favorite contractor...hmmmmm.

Oh! Back to: Menu Plan Monday

Tuesday: I will use some of the chicken meat sent home from MIL's, to make Chicken Taquitos (Whatever you do, don't skip the salt sprinkled on the taquitos before they're baked. Those bites were the very best!)

Wednesday: Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps, which I had posted last week and didn't use.

Thursday: Kung Pao chicken, which I added for last Sunday, but didn't use.

Friday: Spinach and Bacon Frittata and hash browns, which I made last week and enjoyed so much, we are having it again! Woot! Woot! The hens are laying.

Saturday: Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chili

Sunday: WHO KNOWS?!

Reviewing last week's recipes, I want to say that the Ravioli in Sage Cream Sauce was AWESOME! We all loved it. The pecans were the piece you shouldn't miss out on, although other nuts would probably do as well, if you have a preference. It was easy and quick and has already been added to our favorites folder!

Check out OrgJunkie today! She has a great post with linky for her favorite organizing links! It looks chock full of stuff we can all use. And, could I ask y'all to leave a comment? It is fun to write a blog, and more fun to see 50 views for the week; but a real bummer to get absolutely no comments...if you can't think of anything, just say hi! TYVM!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Story of Mr. Bingley

When we scouted this place out back in 2002, there was an orange cat hanging around outside. The house was vacant. We were told it had been vacant for a year. And prior to that, had been a rental for awhile.

We are all cat lovers. Handyman, like my dad, loves cats. Handyman could never have cats as a child, because his brother is allergic. He had to satisfy himself with the barn cats at his grandparents farm, when he visited them every summer.

When we married in 1991, I had two cats. The amazing Chelsea, best female cat ever; and her neurotic mother, Monet. Monet and Handyman bonded while we were still dating, when she jumped out my open apartment window and landed (much to her surprise), one-story below ground in the old coal dump area outside my ancient apartment building. She was stranded in the brick, room-size well when he showed up one day, and like the prince he still is, he rescued her.

I remember telling my vet that I was getting married and needed to change my name in their files. He said, "You are going to ruin a perfectly good relationship by getting married?!" I replied, "He likes cats." Dr. McCune said, "Oh, I understand."

But back to Mr. Bingley. There was never a doubt in anyone's mind that we would tame any cat on the premises, once we moved in. Each time we came to look at this place, and talk ourselves into the big plunge of remodeling it; he was here. Big, orange and quiet, skulking around.

When we finally took posession, we saw him still. Not skinny, but skittish. Soon enough, little #2, almost 4 at the time, sat on the sidewalk by the garage and up he came, to pet her! He rubbed on her immediately and that was all there was to be done. He sniffed noses with our big male cat through the cracked-open patio doors and soon came in to join our family.

We had named this place Netherfield, an homage to our obsession with Jane Austen literature. (We try not to call it Neverdone, but that does creep in occasionally.) So the only logical name for this feline was Mr. Bingley, the popular owner of Netherfield, in Pride & Prejudice. The moniker fit, as our Mr. Bingley possessed all the same characteristics of his namesake: good humor, gentlemanlike behavior and kindness.

We enjoyed his wonderful presence for over a year. He never wandered far, always coming in at night. We were sure he appreciated his home. Then one day, no Mr. B. The next day, no Mr. B. It was heart-breaking. We printed flyers, called our neighbors, drove around calling. Nothing. He was gone. There was only one logical conclusion to all this: coyotes.

No matter what Hank the Cowdog says, coyotes are NO fun, at all. They wake us at night with their infernal partying. They eat our pets, feline and avian. They creep us out at all hours of the day and night. They had to have eaten our big buddy and what a roast he would have made. We were heartbroken.

A year went by. I picked out another cat at the humane society, when I was there getting some free barn cats. Tony, all personality in a short-haired package. He fit right in.

Then one day, a friend mentioned that he had a big orange cat that had showed up in his barn and was scaring his half-grown kittens that lived there. These friends live about a mile away, straight west as the crow flies, but across a swift-flowing creek, and a lot of fields. He asked if we were missing any cats?!

"Well, we were, about a year ago," I told him. It was a big, orange male cat. He said this one was shy, and hard to catch. But, he said once he caught him, the cat was not agressive, seeming to like being petted. He said his neighbors had told him that the cat had been hanging out in their barn until they chased it off. I couldn't believe that it could be our guy. It'd been too long. But I agreed to come look at it, the next time he was able to catch it.

So, when he called early one morning, I went over. We had three cats in the house then, since we had acquired Tony. I did not need another cat. I knew better than to take #2 or #3. They would want to bring home any cat from anywhere. They didn't clean litter boxes. #1 wanted to go, and since she was beginning to show signs of adult behavior, I agreed.

When we got there, our friend Rob was standing at the far end of his barn holding this giant pumpkin-colored cat and I gasped. Mr. Bingley was a big bulky cat with very matte hair. It wasn't shiny or sleek. It was very unique, I thought. This guy had it. As I went closer, I didn't think it was Mr. B. The face seemed wider and the eyes were green. Mr. B. had gold eyes, almost exactly the color of his fur.

But everything else was the same. The size, the color, the hair. He was neutered. He was kind. He was heavy. We agreed to take him. Can eye color change? I didn't feel like I could say, "almost, but no." So home we came.

He never hissed at any of our other cats. They never hissed at him. He immediately took up residence on the foot of my bed, where he sleeps every single night. He goes out, wanders around and comes right in. He never skulked around the house. He was never intimidated by our tribe of very vocal dogs. But his eyes are definitely not gold.

We got out the scrapbook and looked at the old pictures of Mr. B. This guy has the same number of little stripes in the middle of his forehead. We couldn't bring ourselves to call him Mr. Bingley in the beginning. We were only about 85% sure it was him. But then, we couldn't not call him Mr. Bingley.

We avoided the issue for awhile and called him "the interloper", "the impostor", and "the stunt double". Then he just became Mr. Bingley again. If he is not the original, he is so precious a duplicate, that I feel blessed to know him. If he is the original, I am, of course, thankful that he was protected and generously returned to us.

And so to quote Spenser, through Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility: "For there is nothing lost, but may be found, if sought..."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday---I think I can, I think I can

(There is a new post, a few days prior to this one. Because I started it back in January, it posted it chronologically to its start date, not post date. )

Let it be known that menu-planning doesn't even take that long. If left to my own devices, I would plan the same 14 things over and over again. But Handyman does not go there. This is a man who eats catered food, routinely, on the job. Sometimes that is good. Sometimes it is evil. But it definitely puts a little pressure on me, in a good way.

For the first time in ages, I will be linking this post to org junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Mostly because that's what makes my menu planning faster, and more fun. I just troll through the linky and steal other people's work. It's not cheating anymore Ladies! It's support!

Monday: Today is Westminster Kennel Club dog show, on USA Network or something we don't get. So we are heading to Grandma's house, to watch. We will be having a stroganoff made with a pre-cooked pot roast from Costco. We have eaten these several times and been very impressed. They cost about $12, which ain't cheap, but they are done after 10 min. in the microwave and fall apart tender on the plate. If I can track the recipe down, I will link later. Basically sour cream and noodles, parsley flakes. Maybe some cream soup.

Tuesday: Also Westminster Kennel Club night. So back to Grandma's Spinach/bacon frittata is the plan. I stole it from HERE. My hens have started laying again, and even though they are little bantam eggs, they are bright orange and full of good stuff. Buy organic, it's worth it.

Wednesday: Is Awana night at our house, which usually means Pizza Hut, which usually means $20. I'd like to reduce that, so I'm going to try Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps. I have some of those great flatbreads from Costco, in my freezer that I will probably use instead of tortillas. They are a lot more filling. Again, I am springing for organic beef. Costco has organic beef patties for less than $4/lb. I just thaw them and chunk them up for whatever I need. Otherwise I am paying about $5/lb. for Laura's lean at Kroger. I do not buy store ground beef, ever. We just don't eat ground beef a lot. Not that we don't want to, but it's more than I can tolerate on several levels.

Thursday: Handyman is home all week, so this sounds sophisticated without being difficult or expensive. And #2 loves ravioli. Ravioli with Sage Cream Sauce

Friday: This recipe came from my BFF: Arni's salad with BBQ chicken. Fresh green salad with shredded BBQ chicken, black beans, corn, avocado, red onion, shredded cheese, and the tortilla strips you can get in the crouton section. I put a little ranch dressing mixed with Frank's on mine, as well. Awesome!

Saturday: LEFTOVERS, LEFTOVERS, or cold cereal.

Adding Sunday NOW: Kung Pao Chicken, only 500 calories, over brown rice. Yum!

There you have it: A week's menu for a home with little to no kitchen!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Yes, it is past Monday. Yes, I made a menu plan. Yes, it gave me peace of mind. Yes, it is buried in my daytimer and has not seen the light of day. In fact, I admit, I did not even prepare a dinner on multiple evenings this week. Those darn kids, they snack all the time. And when they start thinking about dinner, I have barn chores to do.

I made all the dishes on my menu last week. Actually I had to skip one, because I had three different, very edible leftovers in my refrig and I refused to cook something else. I even gave food away to the neighbors--(it was good soup). I'm just sayin' the effort was there. But this week, I have failed.

Handyman is on a major network show for Superbowl and he isn't home any night for supper. Kids eat without ceasing all day. I feel responsible to feed horses, they can't use the can opener or microwave. So I go to barn, kids fend for themselves.

Here is a good example: Hummus, crackers, organic turkey slices, 2 kinds of kefir, walnuts, craisins and almonds, pomegranate, honey bell oranges, tomato soup, cottage cheese, pickled beets, salsa, chips, chicken nuggets, nitrite-free hot dogs, salad with croutons. There are all kinds of great combos there, for a perfectly satisfying meal.

Staple of choice here: Popcorn. Go figure. No stove, no oven, no problem!

As a special reward for reading all the way to the end: GO HERE to get some FREE printable worksheets to help you get organized! I'm downloading them now! You should too. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, this is about my fifth week putting together a menu on Sunday afternoon. And it helps tremendously with my sanity, because I DONT HAVE A KITCHEN right now. Therefore, my meals need to involve NO ovens and very little stovetop, since I use one burner on my driveway.

So here it is:

Monday: Crock pot chicken with biscuits

Tuesday: Crock pot pizza

Wednesday is Awana--so grilled cheese and tomato soup

Thursday: Bacon Ranch Chicken over noodles

Friday: Jambalaya

Saturday: Pasta Fagioli soup

Sunday: Quiche, which I will bake at my mother'in'law's

Ahhh, I don't have to think about this again.

I am sad, though, that football season is drawing to a close. :*(

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Home Is Where My Heart Is.

Well, so much for my career as a lunch lady! When one goes through cancer, one experiences a lot of different feelings and thought streams. I would guess that I am not the only woman to have cancer and think, "What if I die? What will happen to my children?"

For awhile I danced with the idea that my homeschool friends would take them in for school, and help them make it through. I have no doubt that many of them would be willing to do it. I'm pretty sure I even pleaded with my husband to not ever put them in school. I'm pretty sure he had moments of panic about the whole thing too.

Then I came to the idea that putting them in school might be okay, so that if something did ever happen, they would at least know the drill, be able to "swim" and better to do it while I am here to help them get accustomed, right? So that's what we did.

#1 was already in public high school by this time. She wasn't crazy about it, but God proved Himself faithful in her situation, many times. I thought #2 should go for 6th grade, so she could join band, and sports or whatever interested her. And little #3 begged me to see her local school, since her sisters were "getting to go". So we visited and she liked it a lot. It helped that it is a lovely new suburban school with primary-colored ramps and banners from the ceiling, and it was recently named the #2 elementary school in our state! I felt so much better.

So they went. And, I immediately decided I should get a job while they're gone, so I can bring in money to help remodel this place. So I did. And it was fun. I got a job in the main kitchen at a large high school in the city next door. The pay rate was great, the fellowship was nice and the work was strenuous, but invigorating.

That was last year.

This year, after #2 and #3 had gotten to hear every single cuss word ever invented, on the school bus and beyond, we prepared to do it all over again. Only I went back to work 2 weeks before they went back to school. My mom was in town, so we muddled through, sans kitchen and everything.

Then the middle school notified me that #2 had scored poorly on a statewide test, in math. And their plan to rectify this was to remove her from art (her special talent which I have paid extra to indulge, for years), and put her in a second period of math wherein she would do an online math program that would help her solidify her math foundation.

When she continued to struggle and the regular math class teacher started spending a portion of the class teaching an individual who did not speak english, I met with the guidance counselor to see what my options were. He thought she would be able to get out of this lower-level class, away from the poorly-behaved, unmotivated students, to get into a better environment for learning. When I contacted the math teacher directly, she disagreed. She said #2 should stay in her class, and perhaps stay after school also, for homework club.

So I had her stay. #2 explained to me that homework club involved sitting in the library (sorry, media center), where the math teacher gave her flash cards. This after spending two hours during the day, in math classes.

Something had to give. The homeschooler in me reared her American-born, mother-bear head and said, "Not with my child, you're not." So the lunch-lady career careened into the ditch, and we made major life decisions.

Thank heavens for choice in education! We have friends who have been attending a charter school that is 60% online, 40% brick and mortar, for several years. This year, that same school opened at 100% virtual option, using curriculum I had already admired, developed by the man who wrote The Book of Virtues.

We applied at Thanksgiving and got in for second semester. I went ahead and transferred #3 also. I had spent many years homeschooling #1, and felt like I was missing out on that time with #3. She liked school, but like most children, loves being at home.

Is it perfect? No. Is it easy? It's not HARD. It is a terrific hybrid of homeschooling and accountability/diligence/tutor-type education. We can be online live with the teachers every day if we want or need to. We can motor along on our own, following their pacing guides to make sure we make adequate progress. It is an amazing option that I actually enjoy.

The most wonderful thing about this type of program is that the student doesn't move forward until they exhibit "mastery" of a subject by scoring 80% or above on an assessment. These assessments are frequent and immediately scored by the program. There are oodles of optional activities to assist you when you struggle, and you may retake the assessments as many times as you need.

Isn't that the way education should be? Last year, #2 got left behind when she had trouble with fractions. The class had to move on. Essentially, her can was kicked down the road for next year's teacher to deal with it. If she didn't get it in the time alloted for this year's class, too bad--movin' on. ACK! How many others are being rolled to the side of the road by this type of program?!

Next thing you know, she's giving up on herself and any hope of post-high school education. No one cares WHEN you learn fractions. No one ever asks that. You just need to learn them. If it takes you one month to get them down pat, rather than 2 weeks, no one cares, EVER. But you do have to get them down. This system handles this rather large dilemma wonderfully.

Do I wish I had all my time to myself, to clean house, or read books or post on my blogs? Absolutely. But the confirmation of my decision became clear last week, when #2 told me she wasn't smart enough to attend a college-prep, charter high school I am considering for her. --What?!

She was sure that since she had been relegated to that math class, and its various entities, she would not be able to cut it in a college-prep program. Only halfway through seventh grade and the label is firmly ensconced on her self-esteem. Ugh. I knew right then I had made the right choice, not waiting until the end of this school year.

Change is always hard. My parents moved me in the middle of 7th grade. It was HORRIBLE. Honestly, I think it damaged my academic progress permanently. I thought about that a lot when I was deciding what to do with my daughter. I wish I had never sent her to public school. But what's done is done. And the experience there will teach her many things I cannot.

Thank you, State Legislature, for allowing us to have charter schools. Thank you, Mr. Bill Bennett for developing the K12 curriculum. Thank you, Sally N., for telling me to go home to my children.