Bye, Bye Summer.

With Halloween and our last birthday of the year behind us, I hope to buckle down and revisit some consistency in our daily routine for a little bit. I know it’ll be short lived with the best holiday of the year fast approaching! I’ll be busy trying to figure out the perfect gifts, and I am sure a lot of our daily subjects will be pushed aside to make room for Christmas baking and Christmas projects. Yeah!

We are so sad to see the sunshine, and the warmth that it brings, go away.. We love, love, LOVE, being outdoors during the spring and summer.

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^^ This adorable little fella came to perch and wasn’t easily frightened away. He allowed me to get so close to snap off some pictures. A baby. He didn’t appear to be hurt, either.

The cooler weather is a reminder of an exciting time of year and visions of hot cocoa, slippers and movies. The Spring is a time of blooming and awakening. All things emerge, as do people .. and then Fall and Winter are a time of contraction. Blooms tuck away, animals hibernate, and humans bunker down in the warmth of their homes. A changing of the seasons is reflected everywhere you look.

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^^ Emilee calls these ‘Wish-away’ Flowers .. Seen covered, now-a-days, in the chilly morning dew.

Over the summer we really got into growing our garden and all the built in lessons you learn from planting food from seed. It opens up so many new areas of interest that you may otherwise not have known to pursue. We picked up this great Botanical Kit for further ‘study’ and (mostly) play



It comes with lots of recipes for homemade tinctures, syrups, lip balms .. and a DVD to walk you through each step

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^^ Although, we did have to use quite a bit of vodka in this recipe .. to waste, or not to waste. That was the question!

We also picked up this cute game on the human body, while complimenting that with our squishy internal organ model

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And ya can’t go wrong with a ‘Make your own Chocolate’ Kit!

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We’re also getting into water painting


Building pyramids like the Ancient Egyptians


Lots of fun with our new Metal Stamping Kit


Making hand-stitched fruit and veggie platters

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And, always playing with Patch and making him pose for us. We figured he was cold, like us…He’s so compliant!


Joey doesn’t like be photographed – I think it’s the age .. He’s starting to creep up in size. He’s now as tall as I am! We’re actually excited to see this happening, for him. He is an incredibly intuitive, smart, young man and it makes my heart swell. His strengths are in strategy and logic. He currently ranks in the top 1 to 6 % (depending on the division) in the WORLD in his online game, Destiny. He’s THAT good…he playing grown men who, I’m sure,  are mostly using some of the most advanced, top of the line gaming equipment. Meanwhile, this kid blows them all out of the water, in terms of strategy, resulting in top ranking stats of all the online gamers in this game, using less than mediocre internet speed, and basic equipment. He was so good, that he got bored and decided to use the least effective weapon in the game, which nobody uses, they all use the weapons that are more precise/easier, resulting in higher stats, and he STILL blew them all away in scoring. I honestly was irritated for a long time by how much he wanted to play this game. But when you strip away the societal stigma and recognize that he’s a free human on this planet, entitled to his own interests, who am I to tell him what they should or should not be? When I stopped judging and criticizing the gaming phenomena, and, instead, just listened, I realized that he takes his stats very seriously and he is EXCEPTIONALLY good at what he’s doing. It makes sense too. That is where his strengths lie. In strategy and logic. He enjoys working out and running, he has an impressive sense of humor, and a tender heart with an uncanny wit, and intelligence . He is who HE is and growing up in a different day and age. I have chosen to simply support him, in whichever way his interest flow. All I ask is that he is truly happy.

I love the quote:


Happy November!


Kovar Family Academy, Year 4. (wait…what?!)

Just typing that title made me stop and count the years again. Is that right? How’d we get four years behind us already? It seems it was only yesterday that I was just a stumbling, scared, newcomer to that leap off the cliff I took when I decided I’d home educate .. and here we are, soaring!

I decided I’d start this blog again, and, hopefully, I’ll remain (sort of) consistent with my entries. I find it helps me *see* more clearly all that we’re accomplishing. It’s very hard to shake the ‘ are we doing enough ‘ mentality after always going to public school myself and having your first child spend his first 6 years in school as a star student. Every once in a while I find myself saying ‘No, we have to do school’ (must.stop.saying.this. I hate the way that sounds) when Emilee is longing to be outside because she has been out back, and has reported: the sun it OUT! If that back door has been propped open because the sunshine is spraying the door with it’s warm beams of happiness, then the forecast for the day, for sitting down and ‘doing school’, is pretty grim. It’s on those days, however, that we’re usually tending to our garden, as a team, and learning by doing, sharing ideas, laughing, messing up, working through frustrations (what is eating our cilantro?!) that leads to more ideas, conversations, research .. dirty hands, happy animals .. it’s good stuff.

(Note:You can click any picture to view is larger!)

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(*Left to Right: Strawberries, table full of various hot peppers, too much basil, jurassic sunflower, harvesting sunflower seeds, striped – just like when you buy them, harvested a full 9×13 pan full, Emilee searching for snap peas to eat off the vine*)

Those things absolutely count. They count in even more meaningful ways (to me) than filling out a worksheet based off some textbook reading. Its been enlightening, homeschooling, because it’s like a little corner of my brain has been awakened, that wasn’t paying attention before, to all the learning that happens, without even trying, outside of sitting down at a desk and taking instructions! You couldn’t have told me that prior to homeschooling, I would have been a skeptic.

Joey just turned 15 .. yes, that’s only 3 years shy of being 18, and it scares me. He’s technically a 9th grader. Emilee is just about 8 years old (November 13th) and she is a 2nd grader. Emilee is cruising along. She’s a wondrous child. Joey is speeding along at a rate that, all of a sudden, seems to be moving way too fast.  I would give ANYTHING for more time with him. I do wish I could have started this homeschooling journey with him a long time ago, but on the other hand, I can’t say that because he wouldn’t be the young man he is today. I just want more time. I want more time to make him comfortable, to watch him learn, to see it ‘click’, to make him laugh, to allow him the time to ponder things, to take a break in the sunshine, and to meander through valleys and peaks of interest. At times I almost feel guilty that I have that opportunity with Emilee, one that I didn’t get to have (as long) with Joey. I can’t get those years back. At this age, he’s way more independent, and he isn’t as interested in making grass grow along the banks of the Nile, or making a bird feeder from a hollowed out grapefruit. Such is life, I suppose. I can say I am grateful he’s with us. We are close, and we are together. I will always cherish these years.

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Soon, the sun won’t come – at all – and the rain will. We need rain, but, unless I’m on a lake listening to rain on the roof of a cottage, I’m not much of a fan.


Here are some pictures from Joey’s 15th birthday. We kept it simple, and spent the day with our dogs and Kevin’s mom, who came up from Florida to see us for a week. We spent Joey’s birthday at our favorite (dog friendly) beach, and then we camped for a few days. Grandma Karen – who will be 76 in November – had never camped before in her life.. Now she has!DSC_0516


^ This is the symbol to his favorite video game – Destiny. I try to make things fun! I think (I hope) they appreciate my efforts!


*That lantern was our lifeline out there .. PITCH black without it!*


*Wine always takes the (what was that noise?) edge off.*


*Riverbar and hot dogs off the tailgate*


Life Is Good — Living Life, Outside The Box.

Behold: the two absolutely worst arguments against homeschooling

Please take a moment to read, and hopefully understand, the ‘other’ side of the story. Take a moment to understand better our *decision* to homeschool our kids. This man’s blog post really reflects it nicely.. and yes, everyone’s does what they think is best for their families, but this is why I post this. People in large part still think homeschooling is somehow inferior to a proper public school education. So THAT is the reason I speak out on our decision to homeschool. Although you may still be in favor of the public school option, it’s important to me for people to not misconstrue the notion that the public school system somehow trumps the education a child receives, one on one, in the comfort of their homes. I’m not suggesting we’re better than anyone else, or that we care more, I’m only here to help debunk and educate those who feel homeschooling is *not* a sufficient way to become your best, educated, self, much the same as you wouldn’t feel right sitting back and listening to someone tell you something that you know *not* to be true. You feel compelled to speak up. That is all 🙂

The Matt Walsh Blog


Here’s the email I received last week. I was saving it for today, as I’ll be speaking at a homeschool conference tomorrow:

Hi Matt,

I’ve been a pretty decent fan of some of your writings, and while I don’t always agree I find that you sometimes have an entertaining way of presenting your opinion. Anyway, all due respect, I find myself having a hard time continuing to follow you now that I’ve gone back and read through your views on education.

It doesn’t so much bother me that you seem to be PROUD of your lack of a college education. You seem to be of the lucky few smart enough to get away with having no real education to speak of (congratulations). What I can’t reconcile myself with is your vitriol and hatred for public education and your insistence on peddling “homeschooling” like it’s somehow the answers to all of…

View original post 2,317 more words

April Fool’s Pranks!

I’ve never really acknowledged ‘the day of pranks’, but this year, with the wonderful world of Pinterest, I was feeling inspired! I wasn’t inspired until late last night..but I was able to pull off some pranks, none the less. I conspired in my head what I could feasibly pull off with the few things I had around the house, and no preparation time. As bedtime set in, I waited them all out..(well, actually, I started reading my book, in an effort to keep myself awake, and instead, awoke abruptly, as if someone shook me, with the book on my chest and drool on my face, my iphone flashlight still blaring bright, and hot to the touch, at about 1 a.m.) It seems my subconscious mind had me covered. I got to work creeping and tip toeing in and out of rooms until my plans were complete….

Joey wakes up, and the first thing he does, every morning, like a lot of us do, is grab his phone. This morning was no different, except, it was..




He then proceeds to unwrap his phone and doesn’t quite get it yet, until he see’s it’s April 1st. He laughs it off, unwraps my handy work, and proceeds with his daily morning routine. Straight to the computer. He likes to check his Minecraft page each morning. Today, was no different, except, it was… (I taped a picture of myself making the ‘Troll Face’ – or trying to at least – to the screen of his laptop. He keeps it closed at night, so when he flipped it open, there I was. Bwahahha)





OK, OK, real funny, Mom. He removes the picture and wiggles the mouse to bring his laptop to life, but it’s not responding….(paper taped to the bottom = mousey no workey)




Moving on..he does his thing, checks his Minecraft, and, like clockwork, He gets dressed and puts on his sneakers (no – he’s not actually going anywhere, and yes, he does this every morning…..) Today was no different, except, it was….(What’s wrong, those shoes don’t seem to fit…?)





Oh, and little Emilee’s didn’t fit either..hmmmm?


Yes, I did waste use almost an entire roll of toilet paper to prank my kids..

Joey now has his shoes on (Emilee is still sleeping) and heads out of his room, like any other day, except, it’s wasn’t…




that string attaches to the stairwell so he can’t open his door..strung up Emilee’s door too..


Now I’m awake and Joey and I are downstairs in the kitchen, laughing at his morning distractions, and he opens the refrigerator to grab the milk for his cereal, like he does every morning, except this morning….




And a closeup, for your viewing pleasure:


Now we’re laughing! He’s now recanting, sort of summing up, the chain of events he’s seen so far, and right as he’s saying to me, ‘Geez, Mom, I kept wondering what was next!’ – as if on cue – he pours the milk into his cereal….





Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, and that was all I had, but, boy-boy, it was a perfect ending, to a perfectly consecutive, prank run!

Then Emilee woke up and, as she normally does, went to feed her froglets, but as she approached them, she says ‘What the heck?!’ and I say: ‘Whoa! They grew?’ and she simply turns to me and gives me a look like, ‘Mom..are you serious?’



She then proceeds to open her bedroom door to see the yarn web, encasing her door frame…she’s not impressed. We go downstairs, and we’re sort of giggling, as I suggest she put on her slippers to warm up her little toes, but as she reaches them she squats down, pulls out the toilet paper I’ve stuffed in there, and turns around and looks at me, once again, like, ‘Nice try..’

I offer to pour her some cereal and I set the milk on the counter for her to pour – she does, and her response is: ‘Ugh! It’s BLUE!!’ and as I’m laughing away, she starts to tear up because she’s mad that I ruined her cereal! My pranks aren’t working as planned on her! I console her and tell her it’s OK. Mommy fully intended on wasting a bowl of cereal in order to prank you sweetie will pour you another bowl!

Moving on. I suggest she use the bathroom before I pour her next bowl, you know, so the cereal doesn’t get soggy. She runs to the bathroom, as she would any other morning, except….





“MOM!!!” … But, I did get some giggles out of that one!

She found a few more shoes with toilet paper, and her cash register was stuffed..


And upon entering their bathroom, to brush their teeth, they found this… (the ‘Troll Face’ on the big mirror for Joey, and a goofy face on Em’s Barbie mirror) ….. and I found that, apparently, when using a flash, while taking a picture of a mirror, you can see just how filthy they are…



And..their little message mailbox flags were!! Yeah right! They WISH!



So, all in all, it was fun adding a little extra humor to our day, and it has only left me more inspired to step it up a notch, or two, next year…. 😉

Love you all!


Learning, Birthdays, Baseball, Halloween..OH MY!

What ‘busy bees’ we’ve been over the past several weeks. Baseball has become the desired past time around here lately. If we were not at a game, we were at practice, and if we weren’t at practice, we were at the batting cages. Myself, Emilee, Kevin and, of course, Joey, have all been taking our own swing at batting practice. It’s actually been fun for everyone! Joey has improved dramatically, from not knowing what the heck he was doing, in terms of technique, to making contact with the ball during every game now! Our season did just end, but his enthusiasm has only just begun… 




The kids and I have been trying to stay on a ‘schedule’ around here for our schoolwork. Joey prefers we remain on task,


and Emilee prefers to play outside…no matter the weather, in her summer clothes, even though the warmth has departed our region several weeks ago!


I fell off track (surprise, surprise) and haven’t been making it to the gym before the kids wake up in the morning, like I had wanted to. I have been going to the track for bleacher runs and sprints, on and off, and I did hit the gym a couple days last week, and so, once again, I feel invigorated. My consistency may be all over the place, but it’s never giving up that matters the most.

Kevin and I are our usual selves. We love each other and that is all that matters. We have gone from young and youthful, to middle aged, and starting to laugh at the stage of life we’re entering. Although, sometimes I don’t think it’s very funny.. Kevin can’t see anything without his glasses, I have to hold everything away from me (including kid’s faces, and their little outdoor things they bring to me, for viewing), we prefer each other’s company over anything else. The warmth and comfort of our home, and doing things together, our crew (especially when we can bring along drool mouth Rocket, and sophisticated Bear.)

Halloween became a ‘count down event’ by Emilee, because she just couldn’t wait to have gobs of candy to choose from. She is a negotiator, and you will find her by my side every 15 minutes or so trying to pull the ‘assumptive close’ on me with: ” Mom, should I have this piece of candy (kit kat) , or this one (some kind of mini candy)? ” Me: One small piece, whichever one you want ”  She leaves to eat her mini snickers… then, sure enough, I hear her feet, coming, running through the house..and I know. The master, relentless, negotiator is coming back for round two. Emilee: ” Mom, since the candy I just ate is so small, can I eat this one too? Because if you put them together, they will end up being the same size as the Kit Kat you were going to let me eat anyway. So what’s the difference?” Me: (halfway paying attention since this sort of manipulation I’ve grown use to) ” No more candy ” .. Emilee: ” Let me re-phrase that, and this time get the script right. May I have this piece, or this one, which one? Your choice.”        Oh..I love how I’ve been offered a choice! She makes me laugh so it’s hard to put my foot down, and put the negotiating to an end because everything that comes our of her mouth amazes me, and makes me giggle.

We trick or treated with some friends and it was fun for all! The kids had company, and Kevin and I, along with our group of adults, had our beers. Note to self, next year bring small cooler..


Joey is in the blue morph suit

We also went to a local pumpkin patch place that had a huge corn maze that you can enter, and then try to find your way out. We went at night, for some extra excitement. It was pretty fun! They had people hiding in the corn fields that would jump out at you and scare the shit  jeepers out of you..interestingly enough, I found myself leading the way because Kevin, Joey and Emilee sent me up front to take the brunt of the shock. Thanks guys! I am a pretty tough chic, so I took the lead. We could hear tons of screams and a chainsaw in the distance, somewhere..but it was dark, and we were turned around, and it sounded far away from us. We considered moving towards the noise, just for the thrill, but turns out, there was no need…Out of NOWHERE, this HUGE masked, psycho man came lunging out of the corn (which was completely unexpected since we believed he was far away, and nowhere near us!) wielding a terrifyingly loud chainsaw, and started to charge us…THAT WAS IT! Joey and I took off directly into the thick of the corn, no longer on a path, and literally ran for our lives to hide! We took cover, like in some horror movie, whispering to each other to be quiet and to not make a sound..we felt the chainsaw massacre man’s presence was nearby, so we needed to remain absolutely still. Hearts pounding, (Joey from fear, Me mostly from sprinting through thick corn fields, getting smacked in the face with rotting corn, twisting my ankles trying to sprint along muddy, uneven, terrain in the dark, somehow having lost sight of the underlying fact that this man wasn’t really going to slaughter us..) we calmed ourselves and finally heard the chainsaw murderer, further away, terrorizing other ‘suckers’ we came out to the corn maze to get lost and scared to death in the DARK! We emerged from the thickness, and tentatively meandered through the corn, fearing we’d run into that chainsaw man again, but hoping to reconnect with Kevin and Emilee, who at this point we have no idea where they were, or what became of them after the attack the chainsaw attack. After screaming out their names a few times, hoping they were nearby, we decided to make our way to the exit of the corn maze. We found Kevin and Emilee sitting by a community fire pit, waiting on us. My only regret was not having Joey watch that movie ‘Children of the Corn’ first..


Emilee later told me that when the masked maniac popped out, and Joey and I ditched them out of sheer terror, that Kevin (who was holding Emilee at the time) took off running too..and didn’t stop, she said, for a long time! He, too, decided it was best to leave the beaten path and find refuge inside the stalks of corn! That made me laugh! It was an adventure!!



Mr. Chainsaw, himself, came riding out of the corn on his 4 wheeler, so we grabbed a picture

It’s chilly here! In the mornings, the fog is so thick that it’s difficult to see the vehicle in front of you on the road! Then mid morning all the homes look like they are catching fire because the heat and fog mingle, and it looks like ‘smoke’ rising off the rooftops. Emilee rides her bike all over the house, and Joey has taken to throwing his baseball off the side of the porch for ball fielding practice.

That’s about all. We stay busy and I continue to try to utilize my time during the day better. Although, I’m not doing as well as I could be. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be home, not working, and to home-school and I get frustrated with myself for not doing more. It’s the computer. I need to eliminate it!


Our ‘Tuesday Tea & Poetry’ table all set


We’ve been reading a lot of books on Autumn and the changing seasons

Making a Weather Vane

Making a Weather Vane

First we placed it out back, but as much wind movement back there

First we placed it out back, but not as much wind movement back there

So we put it on the front porch

So we put it on the front porch

It actually works, and it's still there, going on a several weeks now!

It actually works, and it’s still there, going on several weeks now!

Joey and I are currently reading “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. I am curious if anyone’s read this? Mom, you should. It’s a classic, it’s about the bible. I think you’d be interested in it. It’s by Paul Bunyan. I just started Joey on a Mary Higgen’s Clark book too. Stepping up the reading material (age wise) a few notches. He’s mature enough, and quite intelligent enough, to forge ahead. I want him to find his first book that really HOOKS him! We have so much reading material to get to..ahhh!

Emilee is working on learning to read. It’s been fun to watch her ‘get it’ because I know it’s because I helped her! It is a very rewarding process to share together!

We do so much reading that I like to switch things up and try to incorporate more hands-on material. As an example, for science, we decided to dissect some owl pellets.


We thought they were pooped out, but they were actually regurgitated out!! Don’t worry, they come sterilized! So, you receive a couple pellets and with it we received some educational material that informed us of what we may find.


Pellets still wrapped up

Pellets still wrapped up

Here's our pellet before digging into it

Here’s our pellet before digging into it

Diggin' in

Diggin’ in



By comparing the bones they uncovered, to the educational guide, we were able to decipher what our Barn Owl fed on

By comparing the bones they uncovered, to the educational guide, we were able to decipher what our Barn Owl fed on

All three were Moles

All three were Moles

It would be one of several typical rodents that an owl preys on. You sort of act like a paleontologist and chip away at the, err, pellet ball, until you are able to uncover the skeleton of the owl’s meal. They do not digest their food, so you are going to find the entire skeleton inside. We were suppose to reassemble the skeleton, but some of the bones were so teeny, tiny,


we quickly decided to skip that part. It was different, but fun. That’s the whole point. We learned all about Barn Owls, their behavior, and about the types of animals they eat!

We just celebrated Joey’s 13th birthday!! I can’t believe he’s thirteen! Noooooo!

I surprised him with a homemade MineCraft Cake..

I surprised him with a homemade MineCraft Cake..


This was a Texas Sheet Cake, made to look like blocks, or layers, green frosting for the grass, Rice Krispy Squares for he sand, and blue Jello for the water. KitKat for the trees and Rice Krispies, with green food coloring on them, for the tops of the trees. It resembles how they build their worlds in the game Minecraft.



We were so fortunate to be able to surprise him with concert tickets to see Maroon5 (THANK YOU, Marie and Jason!!!)


We had soooooo much fun! We had to make a weekend of it, down in Sacramento, and it made for a great little get away, in honor or our first born entering his teens. Ironically enough, his ‘big’ gift ended up getting stolen while we were down there. We went out to eat at The Outback and some selfish thieves broke into my truck, damaging my door, and stole ONLY Joey’s new birthday gift.

Right before we we found out our truck got broken into, and Joey's birthday present was gone.

Right before we found out our truck got broken into, and Joey’s birthday present was gone.

Nothing else. He was heartbroken. We promised to get him another one.. (ouch!) and we did. We stopped at a friend’s house on our way home. He lives way up high in the mountains, and from there we saw one of the most beautiful sunsets.

Enjoying the puppy, the quiet, and the scenery

Enjoying the puppy, the quiet, and the scenery

Our friend harvested some ENORMOUS carrots!  We picked our salad straight from their garden for dinner that evening..

Our friend harvested some ENORMOUS carrots! We picked our salad straight from their garden for dinner that evening..


The sky was orange! But our picture didn't show it..

The sky was orange! But our picture didn’t show it..

On our way home that evening, driving down the insanely bumpy, rugged, and not nearly wide enough road, on the edge of this mountain, I was saying to Kevin and the kids how cool it would be to see a bear, from inside the truck (ya know, safe) and we literally turned the bend in the road and there was a baby bear cub just sitting on the path in front of us!! It was unbelievably ironic! I couldn’t snap off a picture fast enough, darn it!

Next is Emilee’s 6th birthday, Thanksgiving, and then, of course, CHRISTMAS!

Until next time…. I love, and miss, you ALL!

School’s Back In Session!

No time, no blog!

The “Kovar Family Academy” has been up and running now for 3 weeks. Little Emilee is now a ‘Kindergartner’


and my little boy is now looking at his teen years, and is officially a 7th grader.



* They each got a little something for the start of their new year of endeavors

A 7th grader? This is where I’m suppose to say ‘awww, it’s so bitter sweet, but, it’s not, there is nothing sweet about it. It stinks. Rather, it’s a reminder of all those years past that now will only be in my memory. It already isn’t enough. I wish I could have recorded more, I wish I could have captured his innocence in a jar, the smell of his soft baby head, I wish he still cried for me in the night so I could hold and comfort him. (Emilee still does!) I wish he still wailed his little heart out when he wanted his ‘nie-nie’ . Those memories are faded, they are dimming. He’s grown to be such a smart, witty, kind-hearted, caring, thoughtful, and hilarious young man. Words do not exist to describe how deeply I love these children. Emilee’s early years are still close in time, yet, they too, are trailing off, becoming harder to recall. But Joey, he’s gonna be a TEENAGER? I hate that they are growing older and older every day. I hate that they will venture out on their own soon and I won’t be there to foresee all the dangers, lurking on the horizon, that they might be oblivious too. I hate that, coming around to see Mom and Dad one day, may sometimes be an inconvenience in their busy, young adult, lives. All the years that we spent nurturing these little people that we made, from infants to grown-ups, will be over. Forever. It comes, and then it’s gone. I know, I know…that’s what is suppose to happen. They have to become independent and live their own lives. And they will. I just want to say that I’m not looking forward to it….

Our summer was a nice break, and easing back into our school year was a smooth, easy transition. Mainly because, when you’re homeschooling, it’s just not necessary to pull the brakes, and come to an abrupt STOP, from a long leisurely summer. Instead you just decide that in the next day, or so, we’ll dig into some of the really cool stuff we have lined up for our upcoming school year.


*Our ‘Homeschooling Headquarters’


*My prized collection of books, and educational stuff…so far! Oh – and it overflows into closets, and upstairs. This is just our ‘HUB’ where we grab everything off this bookshelf that we’ll be directly using this year. It may not look organized, but it is, but subject, and kid! The science kits, etc. are in their own special place!


*Our built in filing cabinets. This room was designed for us!

We are, once again, feeling extremely grateful for the decision to homeschool.

This year I decided to sign the kids up under a local charter school, so that I’d be able to get some extra funding for their supplies. It’s a decent chunk of money that will cover anything from educational Amazon purchases,

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to local extra-curricular activities (gymnastics, rock climbing, jiu-jitsu, tennis, music lessons, swimming, pretty much anything that can be deemed as ‘learning’..) In exchange for the funds, I have to subject the kids to ‘state’ testing. I don’t love that idea, as I don’t, personally, feel it’s necessary. Like, EVER. However, they both did a couple tests (Joey on the computer, and Emilee was just one on one, writing letters, recognizing letters, numbers, shapes etc.) and they both tested very well. Joey, who is just entering the 7th grade, tested at an ‘end of the year – 7th grade level, for math, and then tested 9.8, (meaning 9th grade level, out of 9.9 as the highest level possible in the entire testing program) in both language arts and reading! Damn kiddo. Emilee tested as an advanced Kindergartner..We will have to meet with a personal ‘teacher’ about 1x a month. Fortunately, our teacher is just as laid back as I am, and she admits that our meetings, and those testings, are all just a technicality in order for them to receive their funding, and as a result, for us to receive our funding, and she doesn’t interfere (nor does she have any interest in doing so) with any of my teaching, in anyway (Unless, of course, I were to ask for it). It sounds great so far, and it’s been fine so far, so we’ll see where this goes. We’re able to drop out of the whole thing at any time, so it can’t hurt to try it out.

Joey and Emilee each have their own folders to check each morning to see what’s ‘on deck’ for the day. **Note: You can click on any of the pictures for a larger, close-up view!**


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Now, the only time limitations we have are the kids activities we attend, later in the day. Every. Single. Day. we have to be someplace. (Insert exasperated sigh) This year, in an effort at getting the beer, I mean blubber, I mean the extra weight off my body, I have chosen to set the alarm to wake me. I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t stressed out, or irritated, about trying to make it into the gym during the days, (like last year) after I’d finished up stuff with the kids, so I told myself, that starting our first day back to ‘school’, I’d wake up before everyone else and get to the gym. I am quite proud of myself, I saw my goal through, and now it is my new routine. The groove has set in, and I’m into it. I’m not sure why the heck I didn’t commit to that sooner. The hardest part was starting. Now, you can find me in the gym by 7:30 am doing squats on a Monday. It’s great. It’s quiet, I usually have the gym *almost* to myself, and when I get home, the kids are just waking up. We eat, we clean up, I light all my candles, and we sit down together and get to learning. It’s my kind of perfect.

Joey does his own math program online. It’s a cool, one on one style, virtual tutor. We used it last year, and he liked it, so we went with that again. This little guy talks to him, conversationally, and Joey watches the problems explained and done for him. Then he tries. If he gets it wrong, it’ll stop and tell him how to do it, again, or what he did wrong, and then he has to do it again, until he understands, and gets it right.  For Language Arts-Grammar/Writing, Joey and I are doing a highly recommended curriculum that is meant to be quite different than your basic boring text. Instead, it’s full of rich literature that  weaves itself in and out of the lessons being taught. We do this together. Currently, we’re reading a supplemental book, titled: ‘Nitty Gritty Grammar’. It throws in humor, and attempts to take the tedious out of grammar. We’ve just started it, so we’ll see. We really loved ‘Woe is I, Jr. and ‘Woe is I’, from last year. This new book is similar in style, so hopefully it doesn’t disappoint. For the writing portion, I went with another highly recommended Language Arts program that I just had to have once I read all the raving reviews. It is called, ‘BraveWriter, The Writer’s Jungle’, and with that, I signed him up to be a part of a virtual book-club. It’s geared towards teens, so the books should hold his interest. The first book was ‘The Hunger Games’ which he had already read, on his own, last year, and because we jumped in at the end of the month, and he’d already read this one, we skipped it. The next book is called, ‘The Flowers of Algernon’. Anyone heard of this? I plan to read this right along with him, that way he and I can also discuss. Each week he’ll have dictation passages that are strategically handpicked from the current book, meant to be thought provoking,  with questions, prompting inspired discussions. It’s still new to us, but I am super excited about this program. I plan to implement it with Emilee, as well, from an early age! She (the creator of BraveWriter) also has daily suggestions to implement into your lifestyle. One is to have Tuesday Teatime. Now, it may sound silly to some, but it’s really just making a priority out of stopping what you’re doing during the day, setting a nice, inviting, table, coming together, and connecting with one another. I usually set the table, and surprise the kids with a treat. We’re going to focus on reading some classic, and some silly, poetry, (also recommended) during this time



or, as in the picture below, we caught up on some history reading! Whatever works. After we’ve snacked, goofed around, and chit-chatted, they sip their *cold* tea (we’re in the process of trying to find one they actually like!) while I read to them.


*Tuesday Teatime


* that would be Emilee’s old crib sheet doubling as our table cloth, perfect fit…I’m so innovative. Ha!

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* Tuesday Teatime bloopers!

Then there is a very important area of learning that takes place in this home, whether you like it or not, and that is Austrian Economics! We are subscribed to for the year, as well as many various lessons Joey (actually, all of us!) gets on a daily basis, through conversations with Kevin (who is the smartest man I know. Yes I am biased, but truly, it is amazing to me how well this man knows his history and economics. All out of personal interest, self motivated, self taught, resulting in an unshakable knowledge base, yet he could hold is own, and converse with the best of them. I believe that with all of my heart. No doubt in my mind) and Joey, of course, will continue to learn  through real life experiences, of which there are plenty, if you just pay attention. He always has an economics book in circulation as well, the most recent was ‘How an Economy Grows, and Why It Crashes’, and just started ‘Not A Zero Sum Game’. Next we have History. This is a fun, and very important, subject around here, as well. I am teaching this, simultaneously, to both kids, and to myself. We are following along to a history curriculum I found, that was recommended, as a jumping off point, and along with that, we are reading Gombrich’s ‘A Little History of the World’. We are starting our studies from evolution, on, so we’ll just start there and move forward through the years, figuratively and literally, taking our time. The curriculum gives us extension suggestions, and fun activities, that tie into what we’re reading in the book. We will supplement with documentaries, biographies, historical games .. whatever we can find! I’m doing a couple more subjects, tandem as well. We are doing a program called ‘ Mapping your way with art ‘ (Geography – infused with art – drawing historical and geographic locations) and then we have a separate, stand alone, art curriculum as well called, Atelier. (DVD based, year long, curriculum. I bought two levels. One geared more towards Emilee’s genre, and one towards Joey’s. We will alternate between the two, until we’ve gone through both, year long, curriculum levels. Art is engaging, regardless, so I think it’ll work out well.)

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We will also cover several aspects of Science because I have a specific curriculum for each of them (by the same publisher), geared towards their specific ages. On the days we do Joey’s Biology, Emilee will participate, and absorb what she can, and vice-versa. Additionally, we’ll be adding in a little Spanish, some basics of sign language, oh, and, Joey has a program called ‘Typing Instructor’ to help him avoid living as a keyboard pecker, and so many supplemental books, games, kits, puzzles… Fun!

Now for Emilee, I have her doing a literature based math curriculum called, Life of Fred.  I got a little ahead of myself when I found a great deal, and purchased the entire set, through 5th grade! Guess we’re set with math for a while..


We read about a little guy named Fred, and it conspicuously blends in how the concepts of math work. To supplement, because I like all things educational, I have games, cute manipulatives, and fun, educational websites to utilize, to keep things interesting. Phonics is our biggest focus this year for her. I feel Emilee is more of a right brain learner, so I have done some extensive internet perusing to find the best methods for right brainers that I could come up with. For now I’ve settled on Reading Reflex and the ‘Phono-Graphix’ method, ** click the pictures for close-ups **

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* Abner, the ladybug, tried to climb this hill, but became exhausted, as it was taking forever, so he decided to burrow a tunnel right through the center of that hill. When he came out, he saw that it was the home of many ants, who were now very angry at him. In an effort to make amends, Abner rolled a donut up to the top of that ant hill, and sent it down to the ants, as a peace offering.. But, it wasn’t stopping! So the ants quickly put a stick at the bottom of the hill, to stop the donut before it rolled away. That worked, and now, all was well. Thus forming the lower case a, and the capital A. (I didn’t recite that, verbatim, but that was the gist of it. The image was visual and the connection was better ‘seen’, hence, better comprehended. However it was worded, it made it fun!)

….as well as a few other visual, kinesthetic materials to play around with. We have plenty of fun supplements, and I’m hoping we use them all! I hate things that sit around, un-used.

In addition to doing ‘Mapping your way with art’, with Joey, I signed Emilee up for a, fun, monthly subscription to ‘Little Passports’. (Geography) Her first month she received her own personal suitcase, passport, world map, and photograph of her new ‘friends’. Each month they’ll check in with her, send her something special, and tell her all about the new country they’ve visited! Super cute!


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In addition to our core subjects, we are including, as a whole subject, Nature/Gardening. I have a gardening curriculum to follow, and, we picked up several indoor gardening kits as well! ** Click pictures to enlarge **




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Tickle-Me Plants, open (still babies)… but when you ‘tickle’ them…


They get shy, and close up!

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*Sprout viewing window! Peas and Green Beans

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* testing the PH of the water

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* Growing: Spinach, Wheat, Marigolds, Zinnia

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We will all follow along in our Nature books (they each have their own) and with our field guides.


We each have a ‘Nature Binder’, divided up by month, for journaling, and anything else pertinent to that month, or season.

Emilee also has a little boxed music curriculum we picked up from the charter school (on loan, for $5, for as long as we want it!) and it teaches her about all the different instrument families. It comes with a mini lap harp, a triangle, harmonica, flute etc. I plan to add in some real music lessons, as soon as time permits. Piano and guitar is whats on the radar!

Also, a website called, Brainpop (and Brainpop Jr.), is very resourceful, anytime! It’s all over the place, fun, and educational.

Joey and I are reading ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ right now, and Emilee and I are reading the ‘Little House’ series.

Emilee has also, recently, become quite interested in building fairy houses. We picked up some neat books showing all sorts of real fairy houses, and now she is obsessed! You should only use what nature has to offer, and now, everywhere we go, she brings home pine-cones, twigs, rocks, acorns, flowers, you name it. They are frequently found on our kitchen table… We experimented with a few of our own fairy houses in our backyard. ** Click to enlarge **

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* We made this one while visiting the Arcata’s hard to see the dimension, and details, in this picture, but it was pretty neat in person! A fun past time together..

It is an art, and we are having fun perfecting these little bitty  homes, for all the fairies of the world. We believe they are butterflies by day, and fairies by night….

Oh, and I have some dissection kits coming. I thought this would be so cool. Gross, but cool….apparently, as of right now, Joey, vehemently, objects! I guess I’ll be doing the cutting, they’ll be doing the observing, or peeking, at least, I hope..?

There is literally so much more stuff that we want to do. It is true, what my Mom always use to say, “There are not enough hours in the day”.

We have birthdays, and then holidays, on the very near horizon..yikes!

We continue to miss you all..

Lots of X’s and O’s,

Carre, and family!

Going to small extremes to make simple things happen…

Sunday morning…ahhhh! Yes, I love not having to be anywhere, it’s true. My favorite thing to do is light all my delicious candles, makes some fresh coffee, douse it with hazelnut creamer, and sit down and browse the internet..


however I never do this, guilt free…this morning, in particular, Emilee says to me, “Mom, this isn’t the real me. I’m not the type of girl who likes to watch TV. I like to do things with my mom, I like to spend time with her. So don’t get on your computer. Don’t spend all your free time on your stupid computer. And don’t drink coffee, it’s bad for you. Drink water. Coffee makes your teeth brown like a hyena…….”

OK, well, I decided to drink a couple of beers at dinner last night, something I’ve abstained from in a desperate attempt to loose the GUT that has attached itself to my once firm stomach, so the second I opened my eyes this morning, LITERALLY, all I could think about was getting up and getting my beloved coffee. Yet, here is my little girl, working the manipulation of guilt on me because she knows she can. She knows that I will feel guilty, she knows I am an extremely co-dependent towards other people’s feelings. She can sense it, I exhibit weakness, and resolve, whenever she pulls those words out of her ‘bag’ and now she’s honed in on her skills to get me to see things in her favor..any other day but today. ~C.O.F.F.E.E  F.I.R.S.T.~ I find myself torn between thoughts like: “hmmm, she’s right. I want her memories to be only those of us playing and bonding, and not of ‘Mom’s on the computer’ Then I need to reel those thoughts back in a little and know that I live for these kids and they are with me all day, as opposed to being in daycare or something, so we HAVE time together! We DO lots together, and that I am entitled to a little ME time in the mornings before I do,do,do for everyone else. So, here I sit, with my big ‘ol cup of morning love (coffeeeee) and she is content with her buttery biscuit and the little princess cartoon ‘Sofia the First’ on Disney channel. After I’ve consumed my energy in a bowl (although it should be a cup, it is so NOT) for the morning, THEN we’ll talk about what to do today! Opening my eyes and instantly jumping into character mode while getting my nails done at the virtual nail salon, wasn’t gonna be pretty this morning unless I had my coffee first.

Yesterday (June 1st) was National Lemonade Stand Day. I had never heard of such a thing up until two days before the event. Now, Emilee has  been asking, on several different occasions, if she can have a lemonade  stand. It’s the all American thing to do, yet sadly, I’ve always had to dissuade her, or brush it off until ‘another time’ because the street we live on is so not ideal. She would literally go unseen and it would be so sad. When I heard about this I got that instant nagging, knowing feeling, that I would absolutely HAVE to make this happen for her..problem was, it was in TWO days. Being that I can’t just set up ‘shop’ outside our house (business would be a flop and could traumatize the child…for life, right?!) that meant that I had to plan, ahh geez. I’d have to actually organize this, figure out a location, bring all the stuff with us… I didn’t even have time to dread the day, I had no time for that, I had to hop right into ‘Operation: Do Not Fail Your Child’s Big Chance At Her First Lemonade Stand’ mode!! This event is big. You can register your kid’s stand, post pictures, talk about why people should come visit your stand…ugh. I did register ‘EmileeLove’s Lemony Lemonade Stand’ to be held at the Sequoia Park (near the zoo) … good enough. Done! However, in the meantime a great opportunity came up for a day of *free* rowing lessons on the Humboldt Bay. This is something Joey and I have talked about him possibly doing, down the road, so I really wanted him to try this out. We always see  the guys out on the water when we’re driving over the bridge on our way to jiu-jitsu in the late afternoons, and it looks pretty cool to be out on the water like they are, especially now that the weather is getting nice.  Well, the free lesson happened to be the same day as National Lemonade Day. Of course. And to make matters a little more complicated, (for me, anyway) was that  the only time slot still available for the rowing lesson was at 7am. So, new plan, Joey does his lesson, and Emilee has her lemonade stand while we wait for him. I figured there’d be plenty of people there for their lessons etc. Perfect! I visualized what we’ll bring, made a list, bought all the supplies…We were going for ‘fresh squeezed’ lemonade. I wanted to use my new high speed blender and make a lemonade slushy, to set us apart from the rest. This required bags, and bags of lemons, organic sugar, and a couple bags of ice. I’d thought of everything! Even wet wipes for stickiness and a trash bag for our customers. We don’t have a folding table so we decided we’d just lug along Emilee’s ‘mini market’ she has. It was really perfect for the  occasion, and no more trouble than bringing along a table and chairs. We set our alarms, put all our supplies near the front door, and we managed to get up and out of the house by 6:20am. We’re lookin’ good. We find the event, after arriving at the WRONG place, using the address that THEY supplied, and started our unloading process. It was only Joey, Emilee and I this morning so Joey was my big helper, yet he had to get to his lesson at seven. I had him help me get the market out of the back of the truck and then he was off to his lesson. Well, unbeknownst to me, the Humboldt Bay Rowing Association was having a fundraiser during their day of free lessons, to raise money for their rowing club. So, here I am, with my goods, and the fundraiser lady, is there with her goods. I hear another woman say to fundraiser lady, “They are here to set up a lemonade stand for National Lemonade Day, did you know about this?” Fundraiser lady response, “No. WE have lemonade to sell too.”  Insert the sound of crickets. Awkward. She tells me to let them set up first, and then I can find my spot. OK, fair enough. I wait. Meanwhile Joey is doing something..I have no idea what, I’m too busy trying to make Emilee’s epic lemonade day a success. I normally do not like being the only one in charge. I’m not full of confidence and gusto. I’d much prefer to be the helper of such things, not the one solely in charge. I’m feeling slightly stressed. So she puts up her big tent and tables, loaded with food, goodies and a beautiful lemonade presentation. I find our spot, right next to her spot,  because my kid is here to get noticed, dammit. I’m feeling a slight conflict of interest, a teeny speck of competition, between fundraiser lady and myself, brewing underneath the pleasantries. Now, my truck isn’t right there, so I’m running back and forth from stand to truck as we set up. Poor Emilee is made to sit at her stand while I get everything prepared, which she did without complaint. So, stand is up, balloons attached, straws displayed, her sign is taped to fundraiser lady’s tent pole (thank you fundraiser lady, my sign would have blown away otherwise) .. now to make some lemonade. Mind you, we have not test run the lemonade. I have not made it, and tried it out yet, so the stress level now goes up another notch. I tell Emilee to stay put, I have no idea where Joey is, and I dump my pre-sliced, and pre-peel, lemons(thank goodness I thought ahead to pre-slice enough for our first batch) my sugar, some water, and now the ice…turns out my ice is frozen SOLID into two big rocks. Stress level climbs. I did bring a wooden kitchen utensil, so now I am back by my truck stabbing these rock solid ice blocks to death, panicking because it’s not really working, with Emilee over by fundraiser lady, by herself, with a sign up that says ‘fresh squeezed lemonade’, yet there is no lemonade. I’m hoping she doesn’t get any customers yet, but I can’t see her, so..back to bashing the ice like some back alley murder scene. Finally I break off a few chunks and put them in my blender, along with all the other ingredients as I tell myself, ‘see, it’s fine, we just blend this up, yes all is fine, no one can tell I’m completely stressed out, we’re all organized and planned out, it’s running along just as I thought it would. hee,hee, haaa,haaa, smile and wave Carre, just smile and wave..’ I have an adapter for the truck that allows me to plug things in, like my blender. Turn truck on, turn on adapter, turn on blender…blender doesn’t turn on. It gives a little rev, but will not run. Haa,haa,haa,hee,heee,heee. That’s fun stuff. I can’t make shit without this blender. Hope Emilee and Joey are OK, because I have no visual of either one of them at the moment. I do have a visual, however, of the elaborate lemonade stand sitting all up in fundraiser lady’s space, currently with NO lemonade. I run inside the building and ask if I can use their plug outlet. Lady says yes, after this wave of people check in, since it will be loud while it blends. Totally fair, I wait. I then plug in my blender, and it starts, and then stops, and proceeds to take out all the electricity in the building with it. Do I feel like the intrusive ass that is causing problems on fundraiser day? YES. Nice guy informs me they are run off solar power and I can’t power the blender in there, obviously. Stress levels are now making me sweat on this cold morning. Sure hope Emilee isn’t wandering around  looking for me..Joey is now no longer in sight, which means he is off in the water someplace with a group of rowers. Umm, hope they don’t tip..?! Mind switches back to the lemonade stand with no lemonade dilemma. I’m coming to the dreaded conclusion that I will have to break it to Emilee that we can’t do a lemonade stand after all, even though she made her own sign, picked out her most lemony outfit for the day, and she’s been sitting patiently (or so I think) at her stand, waiting for mom to make it all happen, to give her the ‘go’. So much effort..I’m really bummed, and exhausted. Then nice guy, who’s electricity I just blew out, says he has a generator out back. Oh? So, we walk out back, me with my heavy, toppling around, blender in hand, and he goes to crank up this generator for me, all so that I can power my blender and make some lemonade, in direct competition with fundraiser lady. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty burdensome right about now. Not only is he stepping away from his duties at the rowing club on this busy day, but he now can’t get the generator started. He’s visibly exerting extra effort to getting the thing going. When he finally does, the LOUD sound pierces into the air of this quiet morning on the water..all for my blender, and some lemonade so my daughter  can experience the joy of running her own lemonade stand. Holy crap. OK, now I’m literally behind the huge shed like building, that holds all the canoes, the generator is kicking  up dust from the gravel it’s resting on, there is a piece of plywood sitting on top of the generator so I have the blender on top of it, using it as a counter top to rest the blender on, yet it’s rattling around from the vibration of this extremely loud generator. I’m holding onto my blender for dear life so that it doesn’t spill over and I can just get a batch of lemonade out to my little girl who’s been waiting and waiting. Finally I am able to go back to Emilee, pour our lemonade into the pretty lemonade dispenser we brought, sit down, breath, and realize, we did it! We have lemonade, we’re sitting down, and now we wait for customers. We did it!’ Yes! Now, where is Joey?! The day proceeded, we started off with no customers for a good while. All that work, and I started to worry she wasn’t going to make any sales. Joey came back, he had a great time on the water. He left and went with a friend to watch his baseball game, and Em and I stayed on to sell her lemonade. We started to get a big wave of customers and things were looking good! Only problem was we needed more lemonade. So, I spent the day running back and forth from the truck to cut more lemons, and add our ingredients, and then to the back of the building to run the blender on the generator (which I couldn’t leave running the whole time, so every time I had to run the generator I’d have to find someone to start it for me because I wasn’t strong enough to pull the cord and get it to start up again. So, I felt bad about bugging people, and then the loud noise cranking up again each time..). After a while Kevin was able to make it over and at that point I didn’t feel so bad about leaving Emilee while I made more lemonade. It was a huge help. Many people started coming and they loved her stand! They all told her it was the best lemonade stand they had ever seen! They loved her fresh squeezed lemonade, and said they could tell it was freshly made. We had placed out a tip cup, and basically everyone left her their change!! We brought with us her little pink register, and by the end of our day it was loaded up with one dollar bills! We stayed until our sugar ran out and we couldn’t make anymore lemonade. Kevin helped to point out to Emilee that the fundraiser lady (who ended up warming up to us after a while) was there to raise money for their club, and with us there, cutting into their profits, and allowing us to use their generator (and all the gas that was in it) that maybe we should make a donation to their club too. So Emilee, without complaint, or a second thought, walked up to fundraiser lady and said ‘thank you for the referrals today and letting us have my stand here’, and then handed her $10. (Five of her dollars, and then Kevin pitched in five of his dollars) Fundraiser lady hugged Emilee and told her thank you!! And then gave her some brownies ‘on the house’. In the end it all worked out. Emilee had a great stand, great lemonade, and made $40 running her own business for a day! Mission accomplished.





^^^ That is ‘fundraiser lady’ in black! ^^^


^^^ Joey is in the blue sweatshirt ^^^




Today, we rest. Well, not really since Emilee has been in here three times now while writing this, asking me to make her some of our fresh lemonade, like yesterday…..’Me’ time is up!

Oh and as a side note, my book club wants to meet in a less ‘uptight’ place than the wine bar that we went to last time (which, personally I enjoyed) a few mentioned the forest, or a boat, anywhere. I thought this was funny, like, ‘anywhere, we’ll meet anywhere we can to get in a little girls night out time’ … turns out that wasn’t meant to be a joke… meeting will be outside someplace, at night, and forest in on the list of possible places to meet………..oh boy, this will be a first.

XoXo, Carre