Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Laurel's Favorites in 2011

There are quite a few things that have really made my life easier and more fun during the year 2011, and I would like to take some time to share them with all of you before the year ends. These are listed in no particular order, as my thought process at midnight tends to have no particular order in itself.

1. SWAGBUCKS is the best thing in the world for a curious homeschooling family, because we earn these swagbucks for random online searches. Swagbucks are later redeemed for actual prizes and even cash. Of course, it takes awhile to earn enough Swagbucks to get a really great prize, but if you are a family that does a lot of searching, it may be worth it to you to save up those bucks for something that you really want. This year, I have traded my swagbucks for credit, which allowed us to get Just Dance 3 and my favorite kind of baby bottles for free. After that magnificent purchase, I started redeeming them for cash to deposit into my paypal account.

2. Thredup allows you to exchange your gently used children's clothing toys, books, games etc. I got stocked up on Playtex nurser baby bottles for $1.95 on that site by using credit that I earned from all of the items that I donated to other people.

3. A Charlotte Mason Companion is the greatest book about child rearing and home education that has ever been written. This year was my second time to read the book, but I needed a refresher course, since Princess Tarja officially started preschool in our little homeschool.

4. Android phones. WOW! I had not had a cell phone for myself in at least two years. When the king first bought my Samsung Intercept, I played with it for two days, enjoying all of the fun apps. When the king tried to call me, he was a little unhappy that I had not learned how to answer it when someone called. Anyway, I have had my phone for almost a year, and it continues to keep me amazed and entertained all the time.

5. Netflix streaming through the Wii is a godsend! No longer will we have to stress about lost, damaged, or overdue movies. All of the movies and TV episodes are right there, at the touch of a button, for less than $10 a month.

6. Just Dance 3 is the most fun video game that I have ever played in my entire life.

7. Burke's Outlet is my current favorite clothing store.

8. Doing my nails, myself, with supplies purchased from the dollar store make me feel very frugal and happy. Nobody knows the difference but me.

9. Glittery eye shadow, sparkly nail polish, and black liquid eyeliner have always put the H in my happy.

10. Scentsy products are fascinating. I wonder if a mother can become addicted to the amazing scents of flameless candles.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Check out the photo I created @

If you really want to surprise your little Christmas kiddos, this year, then you must try this amazing opportunity to catch SANTA in the act when he tries to visit your home on the sly.

Check out the photo I created @ lets you easily upload any photo from your computer, insert the Santa image of your choice, including a holiday border, and then you can have fun sharing with your family and friends. There is even a video option and options to post your pictures right away on your favorite photo sharing sites, or to order prints from places like Walgreens.

So here's the real deal. I have 5 free photos to give away to my blog readers. This is going to be a short giveaway, since Christmas is right around the corner, but I need at least 30 people to enter before I can draw the names. As soon as 30 of you comment on this post, and let me know that you have "liked" iCaughtSantaClauson Facebook, I will draw to see who gets to receive a free photo from

I'm really excited about this one, and hope you are too!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homeschool Year 2011

It's hard to believe that Christmas is next week, and that we will also ring in a New Year so quickly. This has been a very busy year for the Three Princesses, and I would like to take this time to do a little review of 2011 for each princess.

Princess Tarja is 3 years old. She started preschool this year, and is doing a fantastic job learning her letters, numbers, colors, etc. She recently started working on her first Presidential Active Lifestyle Challenge. Tarja loves the library, and enjoys having me or her sisters read to her. Her favorite game is Just Dance 3 on the wii.

Princess Abbey has been literally thriving on the curriculum and schedule that is offered on Her dream is to become a dog groomer. She has been active in 4H shooting sports and baton twirling. Princess Melody gave her a wii for her birthday, and she has been dancing ever since. Abbey has earned her first Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, the Heritage gold award, and the Freedom Gold Award. She is also the winner of our 52 Books Challenge (the challenge to read 52 books in a year).

Princess Melody earned her Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, and the Heritage Gold Award. She has been active in 4H shooting sports and baton twirling. This was the year of her Sweet 16 birthday party, driver's ed, first job, braces are almost ready to come off, and............(Ta Daaaa!!!!)her graduation from homeschool high school. She is now working toward her bachelor's degree in business administration, and her driver's license at the same time.

As a family, we joined a local art association, opened a temporary tattoo business, started selling our arts and crafts both online and off, and are approximately 5 weeks away from welcoming our fourth princess, Ivana, into the world.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Couponing: The Extreme Video Course

I just got finished watching all 14 video lessons that are included in the Couponing: The Extreme Video Course, which can help all of us to stay a stay at home mom. Fourteen videos teach how anyone can save amazing amounts of money on groceries and supplies through the use of coupons. Not only do the courses address basic coupon usage, but highlight a few different stores that are popular with couponers, giving details about how to navigate their sales and coupon policies. An extreme couponing hopeful will learn how to find, organize and use coupons in such a way that the student can amass huge stockpiles of items that can be used not only for one's family, but can be useful for helping other friends, relatives and charitable organizations. Each course comes with 14 video lessons, a workbook, and a website to help the student locate coupons and other resources easily.

I truly can not say enough good things about this video course that will help anyone who is willing to put forth a little bit of time and effort to save money on things that his or her family needs. I have been doing some serious couponing for a little over a year, and I must say that viewing these video lessons has helped to renew my spirit so that I can get back in the saddle and start hunting for the deals, savings and refunds with even more energy than I had before. I started reorganizing my coupons while I was watching the videos, and am excited to get back in the saddle armed with even more information and ideas than I had in the past. I urge you to try Couponing: The Extreme Video Course right away.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Giveaway Winner!!!

Congratulations, Valerie Taylor Maybrey! You are the winner of the blue/pink beanie. Thank you so much to all of you that entered. I will post another giveway within the next few days. Rules for entry will be different each time, so keep checking back for ways to win.

*Winners are selected via Randomizer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last Call!

We have just two more days before I announce the winner of the sweet little girl's beanie that I'm giving away. If you want a chance to win, please leave a comment HERE, letting me know where and how you are following me. Your name will be entered for each area that is detailed on the list of possible ways to enter, but ONLY if you leave a COMMENT HERE!I can't wait to see who wins, so hurry to THIS POSTto get your name in the drawing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

`Three Cups by Tony Townsley with Mark St. Germain

Three Cups is a beautiful story about turning money management into a unique adventure that children can quickly learn and enjoy. If instilling financial skills in your children is important to you, then this book is a wonderful place to start.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Grace Effect By Larry Taunton

The Grace Effect How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief by Larry Taunton by Larry Taunton is an amazing story of the trials that the author and his family endured while trying to adopt an orphan in atheistic Russia.  Until reading this book, I had no idea that Russia was as spiritually corrupt and neglectful towards their people as they are, even to this day.  I feel truly blessed to have learned so much about the culture of Russia, their religious roots, and history that we aren't often taught in schools.  The story of this family and the adoption process is so powerful, that readers will rise and fall emotionally, as if enduring the process themselves.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Little Red Book of Wisdom by Mark DeMoss

The Little Red Book of Wisdom by Mark DeMoss, is a book about good common sense and wisdom in both the professional and personal areas of our lives. Mark DeMoss used his own life to set examples for us to follow for improving our relationships with our business partners, spouses, children, and especially with God. I feel very blessed for having had the opportunity to read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


A lot of my friends have been posting things for which they are thankful on their Facebook walls. I have a long list of things for which I am thankful, and I'll share a few items with my readers.

This year, I am thankful for:

1. The continued right to homeschool.
2. The sounds of my children talking, laughing, creating, reading, learning,and playing.
3. Celebrating so many milestones with Princess Melody, including her sweet 16, high school graduation, online college, first job, and driver's ed.
4. Getting to watch Princess Abbey play softball.....preceded by a few frightening years with asthma.
5. Getting to be a stay at home mom.
6. A new business adventure that we are going to be able to do as a family.
7. The new baby that is coming. We thought that having Princess Tarja was something we could never have, and God turned around and followed up with Princess Ivana. What a surprise!
8. Tarja's energy. I don't know where it will lead, but anybody that can move as fast as she can, has to be destined for greatness.
9. The king's new job. He lost his job last Summer, and after three terrible months, gained the best one that he's ever had.
10. Last, but not least, I am thankful for books. Books are all over my house, stacked up in my storage shed, placed in plastic for safe keeping, and probably will always make up the bulk of our possessions as a family. It's no wonder that we enjoy the lifestyle of learning as much as we do.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Laurel Santiago and the ThreeFour Princesses

Monday, November 21, 2011

By now, Princess Melody is hard at work, at her new job.

In addition to that new beginning, we found a way to maybe start a business that we've been wanting to start as a family, while helping other people at the same time. There will be more revealed about this as it comes to fruition. In the meantime, your prayers for clarity and open doors will be very helpful. The Three Princesses have expressed a desire to do something huge together, but something that helps others at the same time as it helps ourselves. Today, we may very well have found that special something.

Princess Ivana has already been blessed richly with beautiful clothes, baby furniture and other things that she will need to start her life in a safe, easy and fun way. Thank you so much to all who have been helping with this effort. Having a high risk pregnancy is overwhelmingly expensive, and everything that everybody has done or is doing for us is greatly appreciated. I feel so blessed right now as a mother, and hope that I have been or can be a blessing to other mothers and children as well.

I crocheted a really pretty angel last night, and plan on making a lot more. I know a lot of people that will like to have them, so that will be my next big project. I don't know whether to add my first one to my etsy page, keep it, or wrap it up for somebody for Christmas, but I'm sure that the right idea will come to me soon enough.

At breakfast, I gave the Princesses the option to have this week off from school for the Thanksgiving holiday, or to continue working as usual. Princess Abbey wanted a break. She is a great deal ahead in her work. However, Princess Melody opted to not have a break, because she is halfway through her English Composition course, and wants to keep moving forward. Incidentally, as much as Melody doesn't enjoy English or composition, she is currently carrying a hundred average in that course. I am still on cloud 9 after viewing her online grade book this morning. I am so proud of the Princesses, because every time that I start to wonder if we are doing the right things for them, as homeschoolers, they do something amazing to prove to me that nothing could replace this experience.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We decided to try our hand at paper mache clay, just to see what we can make. I have a table full of items that are drying as I write. Because we made them fairly thick, they might take a very long time to dry. After about 10 hours of drying time, they are just as wet and mushy as they were when we made them, this morning. We made hearts, teddy bears, and a few Christmas ornaments. I'm somewhat confused as to why they have not dried at all, but we'll see how they do tomorrow. If this is a success story, we plan on making jewelry and ornaments. If it is one of those projects that just won't work out, then at least no money was spent on the effort. We used newspaper that was lying around the house, and made a flour/water paste.

Princess Melody starts her new job at McDonalds tomorrow. She is very excited. In addition to that, we are about ready to have her test for her learner's permit so that she can start practicing her driving skills with the king. It's really exciting to have a teenager that is embarking on all of her "firsts".

I have been wrapping Christmas presents and am in the process of crocheting some more. There are more presents to wrap, but I have had a hard time finding a chance to smuggle them into the house without a curious princess finding them. Typically, what I do is wrap gifts as I put them away, so that if they are found, they are already wrapped. Also, I don't put them under the Christmas tree until all princesses are asleep on Christmas Eve.

Besides a new job, driver's ed, and Christmas, we joined a local art association, went to a little circus that blew through town, got some cute pictures of Princess Ivana's legs, bottom and feet, and have been playing many after dinner rounds of Words With Friends on Facebook.

If you want to win the beanie that I am giving away as detailed in a previous post, please leave me a comment. There are several ways to get your name entered in the drawing, and the winner will be announced on December 1st.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Physical Fitness Awards for Homeschoolers

We have been participating in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Challenge for a number of years. Melody and Abbey actually completed their first award last year. After that first accomplishment, they opted to try for the Presidential Champions Award. Presidential Champions is a little more challenging, and takes a little longer to achieve.

However, I receive word in my email this morning, that new activities have been added such as video game workouts, video games that promote activity, Curves, Pilates, and a lot more. The Three Princess absolutely adore the Just Dance games for the wii, and I don't know why I had not thought to include their fun dancing sessions on their activity log, but I began this morning by going back and filling in the recent days that they have played. Dancing increases their point value a great deal, I discovered, so they should be on their way to earning another award very soon. Also, there are activities listed such as billiards, housework, table tennis, baton twirling, and other fun activities that we might not always think of as exercise.

Also, I realized that because the registration is open to children aged three and up, the very energetic Princess Tarja can start earning points for her Tarjamanian Devil behavior. She loves to dance, take walks, play sports games on the wii, and whatever else she can find to do that requires as little sitting down as possible. If only we could all be as energetic as a three year old. Santa Claus is bringing gear to prepare her for her very first year in tee ball, and she can't wait to get started.

Even fellow kings and queens can sign up. As soon as our new princess arrives, I plan on earning a few awards of my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thank You, God, for Blessing Me by Max Lucado

Thank You, God, for Blessing Me by Max Lucadois a very sweet prayer of Thanksgiving, from the beloved character, Hermie. Hermie gives Thanks to God for some of the special things in his life. Each page is brilliantly illustrated, and the prayer is written in the form of a rhyme that children can remember as the story is read to them time and again. I feel very blessed to have read this book right before Thanksgiving. It is a beautiful illustration of Thanksgiving for young children.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Heaven is For Real for Kids by Colton Burpo

Heaven is For Real For Kids, by Colton Burpo, is a very special, very eye opening book about a little boy's real life account of Heaven. Colton Burpo died during an illness, and discovered that Heaven is a wonderful place, just as the Bible says, and that Jesus really does love children very much. This is an amazing book, with gorgeous illustrations. Heaven is For Real For Kids is a book that can be loved an appreciated by any reader of any age.
I enjoyed the book tremendously.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's a Giveaway!

I just finished posting some new beanies on my Etsy Shop, and decided to share one. This beanie is baby blue, with a pink rose, and fits an older toddler or child. It is made from Red Heart baby yarn, and currently resides in a pet free/smoke free home. Drawing will be held on December 1.

There are few different ways to enter, and you are welcome to enter more than once, for more chances to win.

1.Follow my blog through blogger.
2.Follow me through Networked Blogs.
3.Follow me on Google Friend Connect.
4.Sign up for Thredupusing MY REFERRAL LINK.
5.Sign up for Swagbucksusing MY REFERRAL LINK
6.Post a link to my blog on your own blog.
7. Follow me on Pinterest. (You will find my button on the right hand side of this page.
8. Like me on Laurel Santiago Unit Studies for the Homeschool on Facebook.
10. Like me on Pretty Things by Laurelon Facebook.
11. Like Countdown to Christmason Facebook. Please note that there is more than one Countdown to Christmas, and you must like the page on the link provided in ordered to count it as an entry.

****12. If you are already doing any of the above, let me know in a comment. When you do any of the above, leave a comment.
****13. Check back on or after December 1st to see if you've won. The winner will need to provide me with his/her shipping information in order to receive the prize.

You have 11 ways to enter, so leave me some comments, make your presence known, and I will enter your name for each of the above activities that you complete or have already completed.

PS: There are more giveaways coming up between now and Christmas, so stay tuned!

Monday, November 14, 2011

First of all, I need more friends on Thredup, so please help a mama out and click HEREto visit my profile. If you have never heard of Thredup, it's a great place to trade your children's clothes, toys, books, games, etc. They provide you with the mailers and the postage for what you give, and if you choose something for yourself that another person has posted, then you pay postage for that item. I have so far given away lots of nice Princess items that were gently worn and outgrown. I earned enough credit (and even a little cash for certain items) to get well stocked up on the kind of baby bottles that I will need for Princess Ivana, with a total out of pocket expense of about $1.95. I truly wish that I had known about sites like this when the other Three Princesses were babies.

Princess Ivana only has about 10 more weeks before she makes her grand entrance into the king's palace. Setting aside the diabetes issue, which will forever be my issue whether pregnant or not, this has been the easiest of the Princesses to carry. I feel really blessed to have this experience, knowing that for health reasons, it will have to be the last. However, I know that there will always be children in our lives.

With that said, I saw on the Early Show this morning that today is Diabetes Day or something like that. That's pretty neat......I guess. Maybe someday, something will change for us, but for now, it's a lifestyle all it's own. The likelihood of one of the Princesses being diabetic at some point is pretty high, but maybe by the time that happens, there will be a cure. Until then, I hope to be a blessing to my family if they should ever need my help in this area. When the gavel pounded the final diagnoses for me, nearly a year ago, my very first thought was that I have nobody to turn to. After I got to where I could see through my tears, it became apparent that maybe someday I will be someone that somebody in the same situation can turn to.

Some people think and will say that all that one has to do to beat diabetes is to lose weight, and everything will be fine. Say that to a diabetic who is anorexic due to ketoacidosis. I've been on the path to weight loss. My doctor told me that if I lost ten percent of my weight, he could take me off of insulin. I did what I was told, as quickly as possible, and am on about triple the dosage of insulin that I was on before. The bonus is that I was finally able to lose some weight after years of struggling and failing, but it was not, nor will be the cure for a condition that runs in my family, regardless of weight or gender.

I want to leave my readers with something that is very important to me as the holidays roll around. Most, if not all of you, are planning a Thanksgiving feast in a couple of weeks. Do you really know the needs of the guests that are coming to eat the meal that you carefully prepare? Would it be so wrong to evaluate and revise your menu to make it healthier? After all, it won't hurt a healthy person to eat a healthier meal in any situation, but a diabetic or heart patient eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that is loaded with starch, fat and sugar might not live to see many more holidays. Baked goods can be made with Splenda. Add an extra vegetable dish to the table. Make your fruit salad with light Cool Whip (or none at all) instead of condensed milk and whipped cream. Let turkey and salad be the stars of the show instead of turkey and dressing. A big one that might hurt a lot of folks is to skip the alcohol. Those that insist on drinking, can drink elsewhere. It's really not a big deal. Above all, don't be afraid to ASK people that are coming over, if they have any dietary restrictions. Believe me, they will feel very blessed that you took the time to find out. I can testify to having been to many events that were centered around a meal that I could not eat safely, and it's a terrible, isolating feeling.

Please help keep your friends and relatives safe this Thanksgiving by being a part of the solution.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Days of the Week Calendar

On my pinterest, which you can find at the right hand side of this page, I have a pin of a set of refrigerator magnets that are fashioned to make a days of the week calendar, using chalkboard paint and wooden blocks.  I took that idea and ran with it. 

I need a calendar that is as big and bold as the schedule that my family keeps.  Therefore, I picked up 7 picture frames from the dollar store, a can of Krylon chalkboard paint, and borrowed a silver Sharpie marker from Princess Melody.   I removed the glass portions of the frames and painted them with the chalkboard paint.  After they dried, I put them back in the frames, and used Sharpie marker to write a day of the week on each frame, then nailed them as a grouping on a wall in my kitchen.  There was nothing said on the can of paint about needed to allow it to cure, but I assume that it's better to wait a day or two before I start writing on them with chalk. 

For Halloween, the Three Princesses used their tattoo booth to gather donations for the local food bank. Some families brought non perishable food items, and others brought cash donations. Altogether, they received $46 in cash donations. You can see in the pictures that all of the princess opted to be pirates, per Princess Tarja's request.

Now, for your Princess video viewing pleasure, here is a fun clip of Princess Tarja and Princess Abbey playing the royal sports. Princess Tarja hasn't learned much about good sportsmanship yet, as evidenced by her actions at the end of the video.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The king didn't get any sleep last night, due to being on call for his job.  Therefore, we started our morning off at the Sands Art Festival.  I talked with two of the ladies about how we, as a family, could join their organization, and not only did they invite us to the next meeting, but took us around and introduced us to some of the members.  I can't wait for our first meeting with those wonderful ladies.  The best part of the show is that I ran into my very own Kindergarten teacher from the town where we lived until about two years ago.  She was selling some gorgeous jewelry that made.  Princess Abbey got a very pretty necklace/earring set, and gave the earrings to Princess Melody.  I also bought a book called Coyote Tales from illustrator, Jackie Gulledge Zweiger, and she autographed it for us.

After the show, we went to McDonalds for lunch, and let Princess Tarja play in the play place for quite a long time so that the king could have an undisturbed nap.  After we made our way home and deposited Princess Melody and Princess Tarja, Princess Abbey accompanied me to the library's Fall book sale, where they were selling lots of books for only 10 cents each.  We found a few good looking reads, then went home and looked up how to make God's eyes online.  Abbey made a really large one with wire cut from a coat hanger, I made two out of twigs from outside, and helped Tarja make one out of two very small twigs.  They are now hanging on my living room wall. 

While we made the God's eyes, Princess Melody literally painted a painting right onto a denim skirt.  It is truly amazing, and I wish that I was thin enough to wear it.  Oh well!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Fourth Princess

Yesterday, as a family, we finally agreed upon the name of the fourth princess. Princess Ivana, whose name means, "God is gracious" is due January 30th.  If history repeats itself, then I will have labor induced in about 10 more weeks.  If not, then we will patiently wait for her arrival. 

A cold front is blowing into West Texas.  Keep in mind that anything that happens in our area, travels via high, dry, winds.  I have been diligently crocheting my new sweater, and only lack one more sleeve before I get to put it together and add the trim.  I would normally want a black or gray sweater so that it can go with anything, but this year, I am being adventurous with a blue striped pattern.  If I make myself another one, it will be black so that I can wear some bright red, Christmasy stuff with it.  Of course, the real object of the game is t sure to make sure that it will cover my big mama tummy right now, but still fit decently after Princess Ivana's arrival.  If not, then I guess one of my friends will be blessed with an almost new sweater.

Princess Tarja started acting devilish today, so I determined that maybe she would behave a lot better if she were kept busy.  I decided that a simple craft project was in order.  We got out some pink and white yarn, and proceeded to make pom poms to tie around her ponytails.  This went very well.  She wrapped the yarn around and around a book, and after she had wrapped enough, I did the cutting and the tying.  Well....our fun ended when she got her quick little finger in the way of my scissors and I nicked her fingertip to both of our surprise.  I called the king, who decreed that I should not wait for him to come and give his opinion, but to go ahead and run her to the clinic.  Keep in mind that she was bleeding profusely, and I couldn't tell if I had cut off the end of her finger or what.  Thankfully, by the time we got to see the doctor, the bleeding had stopped and he could tell that it was just a tiny nick that only needed a Snoopy band aid and a kiss.  She seems to have forgiven me.  Children are good like that. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pssst......Heads up!

I have been a member of Pssst..., which is a pretty neat way to get to preview some General Mills products.  For our homeschooling, couponing, breakfasting pleasure, they are going to start having comic books in specially marked packages of cereal.  I'm sure that this will be loved around my house.

The new princesses is 27 weeks along as of today.

A dear friend and fellow homeschooler recently blessed us with a large container of colloidal silver that she made herself.  WOW!  It is currently clearing up a bad case of acne, and my hair looks like it has been colored, because there are fewer and fewer grays, and the condition of it is unbelievable.  Princess Abbey had a bad cough a few days ago, and because she has asthma, her coughs normally last all Fall and Winter.  After a couple of doses of colloidal silver, she is no longer coughing.  Princess Melody will get to have some when she gets back from the orthodontist today.  All of these benefits have been enjoyed in less than a week.

On the homeschooling front, we have been using Grandma Moses for our artist study for this term, and Beethoveen for our composer study.  Grandma Moses is kind of refreshing after all of the heavy duty stuff that we have explored during the first term of this year.  We also read a biography of Galileo, part of Tales from Shakespeare (which we will continue, but the library would only recheck it to us so many times), and are now exploring Archimedes.  Princess Melody is in the middle of her first college English course, and our parent taught driver's education course at the same time.   I don't know about her, but I definitely feel challenged.

Since my last post, I have added crochet ruffles to baby and toddler socks, and have made sweaters for Princess Melody and the baby.  I am currently working on a sweater for myself, and have been clipping coupons like a crazy woman.  Friends have been giving me lots of coupons for diapers and other goodies.  I even found a couple of coupons for drop ins liners, which are one of my favorite must have baby items.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Our fourth princess is coming along nicely.  We haven't agreed on her name just yet, but she is growing well and is about 25 weeks along at the time of this writing.

Princess Tarja had a nasty bout of croup during the past two weeks.  Last night was the first night that we felt confident enough to let her have her evening park time again.  She was ecstatic.

I have been crocheting up a storm, thanks to a friend who blessed me with lots and lots.........I mean LOTTTTSSSS of yarn.  A lot of the yarn is baby yarn, and crochet thread, which will enable me to make a lot of nice goodies  So far, I have made a little pink sweater for the newbie, a green striped sweater for Princess Melody a pair of very frilly socks for the newbie, and am almost finished with an equally frilly pair for Princess Tarja.  Princess Abbey has not been forgotten, she just hasn't put in a request yet for what she would like, but I'm sure that there is a sweater in her future.

Along those lines, I have a few things posted on Etsy.  The pictures are on the right hand side of this page.  There are more items coming very soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dave Ramsey

My 16 year old Business Administration major was thoroughly impressed by Dave Ramsey when we took Financial Peace University last year.  Today was her day.  She got her Total Money Makeover Workbook autographed by Mr. Dave Ramsey on her way back home from the orthodontist, thanks  to our good friends that didn't mind taking a detour to let her do this.  I've been saying all day long that I am jealous.  I told her that maybe when she gets to be a big shot business owner, she will bring him here to her own store so that the rest of us can meet him.  Whoo hoo!

We had a very brief little rain tonight after supper.  I insisted on taking Tarja outside to see the rain and hear the thunder, because it might be a long while before she sees it again.  You think that I'm joking, but we are in one of the worst droughts in our history, and it has been predicted to last until 2020.  That's a long time.

I've decided that instead of an actual nature notebook, I'm going to have Abbey blog about her nature findings.  This should begin very soon, so stay tuned.  Her love is dogs, and she researches different dogs all the time, so prepare to read a LOT of our dog Molly, and possibly the neighborhood dogs.  Her dream is to have a doggy day spa.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Living Books: Galileo

My friends probably get bored when I start going on and on about the benefits of teaching by way of the living books approach.  The biography that we are currently reading about Galileo is a perfect example of why I love this method so much.

Yesterday, we found a biography about Galileo at the library.  Finding it at the library means that we get to read for free, which helps to stimulate our household economy.  When we got home with the book, we set it aside, because it is time to read our literature lesson from Tales From Shakespeare.  Wouldn't you know that the our Shakespeare tale is set in Italy?  Afterwards, we begin reading the first two chapters from Galileo, and take note that he is an Italian scientist.  This is a coincidence, but a fun one.

Today, as we delve farther into the life of Galileo, we get into a discussion about the influence of the Catholic church on science and teaching during his time.  We talk about such things as the Reformation, Inquisition, and the meaning of "Protestant". A few tidbits of geography and a great deal of history also shine through, because they are important to the story of his life as a scientist at a time when anything other than theories accepted by the church were considered heresy.  At the point that Galileo discovers a supernova, Princess Abbey asks for more details. We pause our reading to look up a video on youtube that can explain the concept of a supernova, and find a great one that is from the History channel, thereby adding an even greater dose of meaning to the science lesson.

Therefore, because our science lesson comes from the biography of a scientist rather than a more traditional science textbook,  we have broadened our horizons with some extras that don't normally accompany a science lesson.  This makes my job of teaching easy, and her job of learning easy, so it's a win-win situation. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Worldwide Day of Play

The Worldwide Day of Play is a pretty good idea.....maybe. I admire Mrs. Obama for her efforts in trying to conquer childhood obesity, but I have a little wish list of things that I hope will someday be conquered.

There are too many things going into the foods that we buy, that should not be. For instance, why does mayonnaise, of all things, have corn syrup in it? Other ingredients are added to give it the tangy taste, so why did they have to sweeten it in the first place? I have to ask the same about some meats, cheeses, plain yogurt, and a whole host of other foods that aren't meant to be sweet, so why the corn syrup or sugar?

Since childhood obesity is a big issue, why are fruit juices made with anything less than 100% juice? Why, then, is it called "juice" if it's not really juice?

"No sugar added" products often contain many grams of sugar. If there was no sugar added to the product, then how did it get there?

Why do granola, cereal bars, and other bar type snacks that are marketed as "healthy" have as much, if not more sugar and calories than a candy bar?  Seriously, there are times that I have wondered if we would do better with a chocolate bar or bag of potato chips. 

As for fast food restaurants that are marketing healthier options for kids, why are apples dipped in caramel healthy?  I see that option all over the place.  I'm sure that they do have less fat in them than French fries, but why are we replacing a side dish with a dessert? 

There is a lot more to conquering obesity than a worldwide day of play.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lazy Sunday

You can get an idea of the way that I think about things, and the strange order of such thoughts, by viewing the playlist on my mp3 player. It recently dawned on me that all of my songs are listed in the exact order that I downloaded them. The two older princesses think that this is quite funny, so I will share the list with you:

1. Hips Don't Lie.....Shakira
2. Long Walk Home.....Bruce Springsteen
3. Girls in their Summer Clothes....Bruce Springsteen
4. Long Walk Home....(I guess I had forgotten that I had already gotten that one about ten minutes before.)
5. Raise Your Glass....Pink
6. On the Floor....Pittbull/Jennifer Lopez (this is my ringback tone)
7. Love Will Find a Way....YES
8. Go Your Own Way....Stevie Nicks
9. The Cup of Life....Ricky Martin (used this for the twirlers in the Homecoming parade)
10. Livin' La Vida Loca...Ricky Martin
11. Maria....Ricky Martin
12. She Bangs...Ricky Martin (I was in the mood for Ricky Martin right then)
13. Corazon Espinado....Carlos Santana (I can sing every word and roll every r in this song)
14. Guajira....Carlos Santana
15. We Weren't Born to Follow....Bon Jovi (speaks to my heart)
16. Highwayman.....Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and others (my ringtone that reminds me of Mama, but I don't really know why)
17. Keep on Rockin' in the Free World....I forgot who sings this one
18. Jesus is Just Alright...Doobie Brothers (4th of July parade routine, and was my ringtone for months)
19. Awesome God....Charlie Daniels
20. Proud Mary.....Tina Turner
21. Creek Mary's Blood....Nightwish(named Tarja after the female singer in this, and I love John Two-Hawks's part)
22. Phantom of the Opera...Nightwish
23. Vacation....The GoGo's (LOL!)
24. Everybody Salsa....who knows?
25. Macarena....a bunch of old men sing this one
26. Circle in the Sand....Belinda Carlisle
27. Gold Digger....Jamie Foxx (despite the foul language, there is a lesson to be learned)
28. Tarzan Boy....Baltimora
29. Calle Ocho....Pittbull (adhd anyone?)
30. Walking in Memphis....Marc Cohn
31. The Ketchup Song....las Ketchups
32. My Place in This World
33. Riders on the Storm
34. Total Eclipse of the Heart
35. Holding Out for a Hero...Bonnie Tyler
36. Radio Nowhere...Bruce Springsteen
37. The Breakup Song....(enough of the sentimental crap)
38. Spill the Wine....WAR(my kids say the lyrics may describe my thought process)
39. The Cisco Kid...WAR
40. Low Rider...WAR (Tarja thinks it's the George Lopez song)
41. Because the Night...Cascada
42. California Dreamin'....Dj Sammy
43. Boys of Summer....DJ Sammy
44. Tonight is What it Means to be Young...Streets of Fire
45. Nowhere Fast....Streets of Fire
46. Let my Love Open the Door....(mad cause this one was just part of a song, and right when you start dancing, it quits.)
47. I'm No Angel.....(this is Hub's ringtone, and always makes the Three Princesses laugh when he calls.) you know.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's kind of neat to have my children so spread out in age, because it's very confidence boosting to see how our educational methods are working at each age and stage. For instance, I get to see that the Charlotte Mason methods have created a graduate with a wonderful love for literature and the fine arts. Maybe she would have discovered these things with a different method, but would she have the extensive knowledge that she has of the great composers, artists, and literary masters at her age if we had not used this gentle art of learning?

Abbey doesn't currently love the arts as much as Melody does, but she has researched so much about the animal kingdom, all by herself, that I am starting to wonder if I would insult her with a more formal life science or biology class. Introducing the living books approach to our little school, has taught her to look much more deeply into the things that interest her. Instead of pouring over textbooks, she reads books and articles that are written by experts about the subjects that she loves.

Tarja, at age three, will listen to a story, and even interject to tell me what she thinks is wrong with the story. For example, today, she pointed out that there are no mermaids in A Midsummer Night's Dream. How did she even know that A Midsummer Night's Dream is a story of fantasy with fairies and magic, but lacks a mermaid? Until she made her objection, I thought that she was just playing with her dolls while her sisters listened. Charlotte Mason says that we should not read stories that are "twaddle" to our preschool aged children, and Tarja is living proof that we can, indeed, introduce fine literature at early ages.

It is so much fun to see education at work in the lives of the Three Princesses, and very rewarding to be able to see results from one age group to the next.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Diabetic Pregnancies

First of all, IT'S A GIRL!!!!! I will soon have to change the name of my blog to "Four Princesses". How exciting!

Next, it is important to be aware that I am not the only diabetic, pregnant mama, so I like to share this vital aspect of my life with you as much as I can, especially since it involves the life of our new princesses. Yesterday, was my first time ever, to be seen by a group of people that specialize in high risk pregnancies. Just the fact that I am a person that has to add this step to my prenatal care is scary. I didn't sleep all night, the night before. All night long, I kept reminding myself about how exciting it would be to have my ultrasound, and find out if we were having a boy or a girl. To my surprise the staff were really nice. I did not hear any grumbling about my situation in the hallway like I did at my first doctor's appointment. One nurse took me into a private room, and we discussed my health history, that of my husband's, all of my meds, and diet. My blood sugar is running higher than normal lately, but instead of the usual lecture that most diabetics get when their levels are elevated, I was given a definite game plan and quite a bit of encouragement. There was also a lot of stress on the fact that I did not cause this problem, and that I am at the point in my pregnancy that makes diabetes a little harder to manage. A general family doctor often treats elevated blood sugar as a condition that is only brought about by laziness and gluttony. After a video and lots more discussion with other nurses, doctors, and the radiologist who did my ultrasound, I was sent home with a huge burden lifted from my shoulders. The baby is fine, I'm fine (and will be even more fine as we continue to adjust diet/meds), and I have finally fallen into the hands of some people that actually care about and understand what is going on. For the next few days, I'm having to follow a diet plan with a lot more carbs than I'm used to having, and have to check my blood sugar around 7 times per day. I will then call the hospital to report my readings so that they can decide how to adjust my insulin and what they would like to add to it, if anything. I recently read an article about diabetes and depression. Studies show that many people feel that their blood sugar readings are a judge of their moral character. I think that I have fallen into that trap, and it's not a good feeling. The last month or so, I have been reminding myself over and over that for whatever reason, this is the way that God made me. I am who I am, and there was nothing that I could have done to have caused it and nothing that I can do to stop it. It doesn't make me a bad person, and it's not a just IS.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The only aspect of the Charlotte Mason method that we have struggled with as a family is the need to spend more time outdoors. This has been a real challenge for us, because we ended one of the coldest winters that we have been exposed to, and began an equally hot summer.

This is Tarja's first year to actually have "school", so we had to make a change in this area. I started designating some time between breakfast and lunch to go out into our own yard, and then we go to one of our local parks after supper, and stay until it begins to get too dark to play.

Another aspect that is really at work in our house is the living books method. Obviously, this method works well for my older children, but will it work for wormy, squirmy Tarja? We read to Tarja all the time, and it seems like she doesn't listen or understand. However, she has surprised me by retelling the stories to me, without my even asking for a narration. After all, one would not expect a toddler to be able to narrate. Indeed, she can give a play by play account of most of the stories read to her, even after the first reading. The most fun that we had listening to her retelling, was of Sleeping Beauty. She added her own perspective to the story by saying the Jesus helped Sleeping Beauty after she pricked her finger, and that while she was asleep, the King came up the stairs to see her and prayed. Wow! What a lovely addition. Maybe someday, she will write her own brand of fairy tales.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Today is the last day for me to work at the laundromat. A couple of friends and family called to find out if I was all right. I'm all right, but might not be for much longer if I keep up this pace. I had already made my decision, but just in case I changed my mind and decided to stay a little longer, God made things especially difficult yesterday to prove to me that enough is enough. Uuugh. It was ONE ROUGH day. Hopefully, things will be better today, but if not, I know that I can work through it all once more. On the home front, the Three Princesses have been practicing twirling with two princesses from another queendom for the local homecoming parade that will take place in exactly one week. Hopefully we can squeeze in a couple of other parades in some of the other little towns that are nearby. Tomorrow, we have our temporary tattoo booth in the Desert Reflections Car Show. Abbey organized the hundreds of tattoos into notebooks. Melody drew a huge sign, and Abbey colored it in. I have stood back and let them work out most of the details for this event, and they are doing a great job of figuring it all out. The plan is that they will tattoo the customers, and I will keep track of the money. They are really excited about their new business venture.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Princess Abbey had earned the Youth Freedom Award to go with her Youth Heritage Award. Hootie hoo! Now, onward to the Youth Citizenship Award. Congratulations, Princess Abbey!!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

For our next act, we have purchased a booth space in the Desert Reflections Car Show here in town for our small business pleasure. This takes place next weekend, and the girls are getting ready as I write. Actually, Princess Abbey is getting ready while Princess Melody looks up weird, foreign videos on youtube (I don't's just what she does). We're primarily going to sell temporary tattoos. Melody is also going to display her artwork. Tarja will probably be the tattoo model, since she has been known to wear 10 or 15 at the time. I hope that this gives the girls some fun business experience, especially since Melody wants to own her own business. Other than that, we have spent our Labor Day holiday doing hard time by cleaning out the garage. Every time that I thought we were done, another box came out of the woodwork, just begging to be sorted and picked through. Hopefully we never have to do that again. On the upside, this helped me to locate a lot of items that I needed for homeschooling, including items that I thought had been lost in the burglary during the time that we were moving into this house. I never could figure out what burglars would want with our lapbooking stuff, other than just to tear them up, but I am happy to have found boxes of completed work, lapbooks, and other books that I thought were trashed and gone forever. Abbey organized Tarja's little play area yesterday. There are now drawers with crayons, puzzle pieces, blocks and other little goodies that used to be just thrown altogether in baskets. She put bigger toys and dolls in plastic, lidded boxes. There are too many such boxes filled now, so Hubs is pushing for us to put all but one box away at the time, so that we can rotate boxes periodically. We'll probably start that project tomorrow. Anyway, it feels good to walk through that area without stepping over or on the toys. We still have a lot more household projects to do. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it, but I'll keep you posted if anything interesting happens. Nesting can be a great incentive to declutter.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One of the chief complaints of medical care is the lack of sensitivity by medical professionals. I got spoiled over the years by a wonderful physician's assistant that treated me for about 12 years, and I had the same OB for all three princesses. Here I am in a new town, with doctors that don't know me, and I'm too far away from the aforementioned doctors to be able to go see them as often as I need to be seen. I'm hypothyroid, diabetic, and pregnant. Is that the makings for a good reality show or what? When you call a doctor to try to set up an appointment for prenatal care, the person on the other end of the line gets a brief history of your health. After they hear that you have issues, they tell you that they are all booked up, or that they may not be equipped to handle your high risk pregnancy. Hubs put his foot down and said that I needed to give the local doctor a chance, so I did. My appointment was at 8:30a.m. Being a diabetic, I went in fasting just in case they would want to get a fasting blood sugar reading. By 9:30a.m. I am finally in the door, and have to sit in a room until about 10:00a.m. while doctor and nurses decide if they want to take on my case or not. I can hear from the din in the hallway that phone calls are being made to other doctors on my behalf, and there are debates going on. At some point, the nurse comes in to tell me that they won't be able to treat me. A few minutes later, the doctor comes in and says that he will treat me, but with the backup of three doctors that specialize in high risk pregnancies in the next town. Are you surprised that by the time the nurse got around to taking my blood pressure, it was slightly elevated? The doctor seems to be very nice and appears to love his line of work, which is always a plus. He and the nurse do all of the routine things that are done on first prenatal visits, and the nurse says that she will try to set me up for sonogram for that afternoon just to confirm dates and things like that. How exciting! My excitement turns to fear and humiliation when I hear her and another nurse talking about me in the hallway. The other nurse was rudely and hatefully discussing my case and was telling my nurse that she will not be able to handle me, because apparently I am a freak that is not deserving of proper medical attention. A few minutes later, mine comes in with a paper giving orders for a sonogram in a couple of weeks with the high risk doctors in the next town. Fair enough. She gives me a few instructions and her contact info, and I am on my way by nearly noon, EXCEPT for the fact that I have to stop in and get a near lecture from the battle axe in the business office who wants to make certain that I pay all co pays, deductibles and 20 percent of my expenses before the birth of the baby, or else they will give all of my records to me and send me on my way. This comes after she sort of turns her nose up at me when she asks and I tell her that I am not on Medicaid. I have no problem with families having Medicaid, and have received it in the past, but I don't have it, and therefore am a freak without government assistance who dares to attempt to receive medical care. At this point, I don't think that Obamacare or any other government intrusion is necessary. A crash course in common courtesy might be all the reformation that the healthcare system needs.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I am miserably losing the battle between me and the girls on the 52 Books Challenge. We were supposed to read 52 books in a year. Although I am reading consistently, Abbey is in the lead with 24 books, Melody follows her with 19 books, and I am dead last with 16 books. The year is still young, so maybe I will catch up and we will all have read out 52 books. Tarja got her certificate from the library reading club program today. It is her very first certificate for anything, ever, so she thought it was a very special occasion. This is one of the things that I love most about tiny princesses. Everything is brand new and wonderful. Tarja really loves the last lapbook that I made for her, which you can read about in the previous post, so I went back to the library and printed off another one for Katy No Pocket. We already have Katy No Pocket in our home library, and it's one of her favorite stories. She helped by coloring the mother and baby kangaroos for the front cover, and then I made the little pockets and cards that we will play with tomorrow. The focus on this lapbook is on Kangaroos and words that being with K. You can find free lapbook units HERE. I have my first prenatal visit for Baby Santiago #4 in the morning.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to School Clothing Swap

A fellow coupon mom mentioned that there was a website that would allow us to exchange boxes of our children's clothing. I could not find the site, until I ran across a mention of it in a magazine article. I searched for the address immediately, and now I think that I am in love.

If you aren't already a member of, I urge you to check it out.

By becoming a member, you get to bless a family with gently used clothing, toys and books. This includes military families. When someone requests a box that you have posted, you receive a shipping label so that you don't have to pay for the shipping. If you choose to receive a box from another member, then you pay for shipping. I just posted my first two boxes, and can't wait for someone to ask for them. Hootie hoo!

If you are interested, please visit my link at:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I went to the library to print off a lapbook project from homeschoolshare. The project was to go with the reading of 123 Zooby Eric Carle. After I printed the lapbook pages, I tried to find the book so that I could check it out, and could not find it. Thankfully, the librarians looked for it after I left, and called me so that I could pick it up today.

This evening, we took a little trip to the sandhills. We took our extremely hyperactive blue heeler with us and let her run wild and free. She gave thanks by knocking my husband flat on his back. If I had been recording that incident, I would have made bunches of money on America's Funniest Home Videos. Incidentally, I am almost five months pregnant, and climbing up and down the dunes was not as much fun as I thought it would be. Therefore, I picked a comfy spot on top of one of the big ones and took lots of pictures. It seemed like it took me forever to get back down when it was time to go home, but I finally made it without falling flat on my face.

My cell phone, with all of the pictures on it, is out of battery, but I will share our adventures in the near future.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Under Construction

I found this awesome new background, and I guess it caused me to lose all the rest of my content. I'll start posting again as soon as we get back from doing more homeschooly stuff.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Princess Tarja and Preschool

Tarja is so excited to have her very own school work to do. Since she is three years old, we have to keep everything light and simple. We picked up a workbook that is a comprehensive preschool curriculum that should for two years. The section that she is using right now is about color. Yesterday, she did the red pages, and today she had yellow.

I took white index cards, and a red marker to make sight word flash cards. We do actually have store bought flash cards for this effort, but I have learned that the red lettering works best for babies, and toddlers. We are doing five new words per week.

The real challenge is trying to get her to spend as much time outdoors as the Charlotte Mason method advises. It's still over a hundred degrees in the afternoon, but we took advantage of the cooler window of opportunity right after breakfast, and then went to the park after supper and stayed until it was too dark to play anymore. I was a little bit worried that the addition of playground equipment in the park would stifle the independent nature study, but before I knew it, she and all of the other children that were playing in the park were having a great time with a friendly old dog that came to love on everybody. Although domesticated, the dog is still a part of nature.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Generation

There is something that has been on my mind recently. I remember going through a little crisis as a young married mama, because it was drilled into our heads in public school that if we didn't do as we were told, or didn't make the best grades or test scores, that we would be sentenced to a life of working at places like McDonalds.

I made wonderful grades, and did wonderful things in school, but found myself doing a variety of different jobs while I was in college and even afterwards. Every job that I have ever had, I have taken very seriously. It didn't matter if I was a musician, salesperson, telemarketer, insurance agent, Mary Kay lady, activity director or laundry attendant, I have worked as hard as I could.

The dilemma is that I often felt very badly about myself and my position. As I grow and change, I realize that was hogwash. Where would we be in this world if there were no food service workers, janitors, dry cleaners, babysitters, store cashiers, and so forth? Are we doing our children any favors by treating some people as though they are more lowly than others because they didn't attend college or chose to be stay at home parents even after college? What is wrong with us?

I am doing as much as I possibly can to encourage my children to take the career path that they choose, but if they have to wait tables to get through college, or to make a little extra cash during hard times, is that such a bad thing?

Let's raise a generation of hard workers, just like our grandparents, and their grandparents, and teach them to make no apologies for choosing to earn an honest wage instead of dealing drugs or engaging in sinful activities in pursuit of the dollar.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm so excited that Princess Tarja is going to have the opportunity to use the Charlotte Mason method through her entire school career. Princess Melody did well from middle school through high school. Princess Abbey has done well from elementary school through the present middle school years, and Princess Tarja is about to commence to begin to start.

An online homeschool friend is starting a group on facebook for those of us that want to read and discuss A Charlotte Mason Companion by chapters. When we first started using this method of teaching, I borrowed the book, but since I will need it for the next several years for Tarja and the prince or princess that is on the way, I went ahead and ordered myself a copy. Now, I can't wait until it gets here!

I'm sure that my friends get bored with me going on and on about Charlotte Mason, but this woman was a genius in the area of educating children. Also, if you have ever doubted your decision to ditch the career wear to become a full time wife and mother, the beautiful words of Charlotte Mason will open your eyes to a whole new, beautiful world.

Also, I ran across the blog of the author of A Charlotte Mason Companion. It is a beautiful, beautiful, work of art. If I ever were to get to meet some important women in my life, I would like to meet Charlotte Mason and Karen Andreola. Both women have changed the face of child rearing and homeschooling for my family forever, and I dearly hope that someday, I can be such an inspiration to other mothers that need this tender encouragement.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm not enjoying my new job as much as I thought I would. Now, the real reason that I took this particular job rather than getting back into insurance, is because the hours fit right into the schedule of my family, it is very near my home and the actual duties aren't really that difficult. My dilemma is that I am four months pregnant, and you can imagine that when it is 110 degrees outdoors, what must it be like indoors with many washers and dryers running at the same time? I'm not a good quitter, so do I grin and bear the consequences, or get back home under the A/C with my computer and I have to think long and hard about this.

Princess Melody had to leave her job at the convenience store, because her former boss seems to think that teenagers should put in 12-14 hour days every day without complaint, have no days off, and forget about what needs to be done for school. Yes, we are unusual in that not only do we homeschool year round, but that we feel that a 16 year old college student should be allowed a few hours per day to devote to the lost art of study. When she told her boss that she could not work early morning shifts, because she has school in the mornings, she was told that if she could not work the hours given to her, that she could find work somewhere else. Our King put his foot down, and Melody is currently seeking a more student friendly position somewhere else.

We celebrated Princess Abbey's 12th birthday by going out to dinner and coming home to chocolate cake with mocha icing. The King and I (LOL) gave her a cell phone, and Princess Melody bought her a Wii (Princess Tarja calls it the Weed). She also received an amazing birthday surprise from our dear friend and fellow homeschooler: a trip to a nearby nail salon for some girly fun. Hootie hoo!

Next month is the King's birthday, and Princess Tarja informed me that she is going to arrange a party for him. It will be interesting and fun to see the party planning prowess of a three year old princess.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Baby Wipes: They're Not Just for Babies Anymore

I met my husband when I was 15 years old. We married when I was 18, and had Princess Melody when I was 19. I am now 35, and it is time to share a few things that I have learned on my journey as wife, mother, worker, student, daughter, caregiver, etc. etc.

1. Baby wipes: they're not just for babies anymore.

2. Look nice when you go out, but keep a "just in case" pair of comfy shoes in the car.

3. Keep beauty routines at a minimum. I can be ready for anything in about 20 minutes, whether anybody likes the way I look or not.

4. If you are a busy mom, keep at least one skirt on hand that goes with any blouse. Why???? You don't always have time to wonder what everybody else is wearing, but you can rarely go wrong with a skirt and blouse.

5. If you don't like how a program or activity is going for your children, then sign up to volunteer. Either you will learn the method to their madness, or be part of the solution. It's a win-win situation.

6. Don't compare your marriage to anybody else's. Nobody but Jesus is perfect.

7. Along those same lines, don't second guess your decisions as a mother. My own Mama, when I was faced with a decision said, "Whatever you decide to do will be right, because you are their mother." Thank you, Mama.

8. Keeping a personal journal for each of my children is both healing and will leave something behind that is worth far more than money.

9. Your mother was right when she said to always wear clean underwear, because you could end up in the emergency room. Trust me on this one.

10. Do laundry every day. If you don't believe me, watch some ladies do a month's worth of laundry at the laundromat and ask yourself if you would like to be in their shoes. Just do it.

11. Play board and video games with your kids once in awhile. It's fun.

12. Share your favorite music and books with your family. You never know who will be truly blessed by being exposed to these things.

13. If you want your kids to read, then you should read. Read books, magazines, newspapers, internet articles. Read, read, read.....

14. You can't take care of your kids if you don't take care of yourself. Give yourself permission to be a little bit selfish in the health department.

15. ALSO, don't hide your health issues from your kids. I am a diabetic, as is or was the rest of both mine and my husband's side of the family. Growing up watching my grandfather handle his diabetes may very well have saved my life, and I will do the same for the little eyes that are watching me.

16. Let your kids teach you. I had never watched a foreign film with subtitles until Princess Melody discovered Bollywood all by herself. WOW! There are some amazing things to see in this world.

17. Read Proverbs 31 over and over again. Then, read it over some more.

18. If something isn't going right in your life, don't be afraid to make changes.

19. The fastest way to stop an argument is to stop talking.

20. The fastest way to solve a problem is to pray.

Giving All the Glory to God,
Laurel Santiago

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My rein as a stay at home/work at home mom has partially ended. I took on a part time job at a laundry mat that is just a few blocks from my house. I enjoy the work, but it's hot around all of those dryers. Of course, everything is hot in West Texas, but I bet that I will fully appreciate it when the weather starts to change. Therefore, I have the laundry mat, and my twirling students to keep me busy earning money for quite awhile.

Abbey is on Year 6/Week 5 of Charlotte Mason. I finally decided how to handle the Book of Centuries issue. Abbey completed one spiral notebook after 4 weeks of work. In the back of the spiral, we made a timeline of historical facts that were learned over the course of the four weeks. The new spiral is larger, so we may have to break things up into timelines reflecting four weeks at the time.

Melody so far has a 95 average in her first college course. I know that things will get tougher, but this is one proud mama.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm suffering from a little writer's block, so I'll just share a few things going on in our lives in a list.

* I got an "outside the home" job to supplement my three work at home ventures. It's not in my field, but it fits into my family life, so I figure that more money is always appreciated.

* My husband was out of work for a couple of months, but he's back in the saddle again.

* A man has been bringing stacks and stacks of books to Melody at her job. They are amazing books, and I have started reading one of them. We are still on the 52 Books Challenge, and Abbey is in the lead.

* I'm itching to get started on my crazy coupon trips again. My coupon file needs to be cleaned out. Maybe that can be a good project for me to do today. My coupon file is amazingly large, though not nearly as large as those on Extreme Couponing.

* I need a king sized bedspread. Just thought I'd throw that in there. I could make one, but it will take a long time.

* I need a storage shed to help further our clutter conquering project. I have visions of red boxes for Christmas stuff, blue for general stuff, pink for girly stuff and green for schooly stuff. Hmmm......yes.....I'm just crazy.

*I also need to buy or make a toy box for Tarja.

* We have company today and are expecting more.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One of the drawbacks of homeschooling is that it's hard to keep the house clean when the kids are home being educated all day. However, I am proud to announce that my bedroom is now free of clutter. Hootie hoo! It took two days to move old things out and new things in. In fact, it took three adults, three teenagers, a one year old, and a three year old to get it all done. Of course, in the process, we added more clutter to the kitchen and living room. Will it ever end? I don't know. I just know that neat freaks need not apply for homeschooling. My dream home would include an office, library, computer room (with several computers), and a bathroom for each princess. Until then, we have to keep up the endless shuffle of books, papers, music, videos, etc.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This day started off with a twirling lesson. Our budding twirling groups is really cute right now. It consists of two families, and each of those families have three princesses each. We got together and chose uniforms today. I am really, really pleased with what we all agreed upon, but I don't like to get excited until those uniforms are actually in our hands.

During this time, Melody has been at work, so she won't do her school lessons or twirling lessons until later in the day. In fact, I expect her to call me to pick her up from work at any time as I write.

Tarja likes to be read to right before lunch. I don't know why this is, but as soon as we finish whatever it is that we need to do in the morning, she brings all of her library books for me to read. I have to time our reading, because she gets a prize from the library for every 5 hours that we read to her.

Abbey's weekly lessons are both online and off, and she works very well independently. After she did some of her reading assignments and math, we listened to The New World Symphony by Dvorak, then did dictation and Spanish. Now, she is reading The School of the Woods online. Since she's an animal lover, she should really enjoy that book.

I'm debating on how I want to set up her Book of Centuries this year, because this term has a big focus on the 1920s, and if I make the book in the way that I usually do, she will run out in one area and have lots of blank pages in others. I have lots of ideas, but will welcome more. If you have an idea to share, please post it in the comments.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Official Home School Schedule

*Daily Lessons:

Penmanship or Copywork
Foreign Language

*Weekly Lessons:
Art Appreciation
Book of Centuries
Music Appreciation (including folk songs and hymns)
Nature Study
Shakespeare play

*Grammar Schedule
Formal Grammar
Oral Narration
Written Narration

Week 2 Lessons

*Bible-Creation (continued)
*Penicillin is discovered.
*The New York stock market crashes.
*Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.
*Story of Mankind-Chapters 67-68
*Story of David Livingstone-Chapter 2
*Albert Einstein and the Frontiers of Physics
*Poetry of Robert Frost: Copy next poem for notebook
*Romeo and Juliet
*Our Young Folks' Plutarch
*Age of Fable- Chapter 29
*Youth Heritage Project
*Grammar: Grammar Monster
*Art appreciation: Mary Cassatt
*Book of Centuries
*Music Appreciation: Dvorak
*Nature Study
Abbey is loving her Charlotte Mason weekly schedule. I wasn't sure if she would really like it or not, but I am happy to report that she does. Her favorite book for this term appears to be The Story of Mankind.

Melody is not loving her job, but she is loving the money that she's making. As of today, she's sporting a new dress and a smart phone. She also took us out to breakfast this morning. I'm so happy for her.

My husband got a new job. It's a weird job, but he seems to like it. I say that it's weird, because he's on call 24 hours a day. The kicker is that he never knows when he's going to work, or when he's coming home.

For the fourth of July, we have the first parade that we've been in for about two years. It's exciting to get back in the saddle. We got new white tennis shoes and socks for the effort. Our song for this one is "Jesus is Just All Right With Me" by the Doobie Brothers. I never get tired of hearing that song.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Race to Graduation Begins

If you have been reading previous posts, you will remember that Melody has graduated high school at age 16, and we are saving the celebration until her college graduation in a few more years.

This means that Abbey has four years to do the exact same thing. The race to graduate Princess Abbey is on! Hootie hoo!!!! Now, you will all think that I am a total meanie, but in order to make this happen without a great deal of stress is to cut Summer vacation short. That doesn't mean that the kids don't get to swim and hang out with friends, but we still have lessons. Due to circumstances that were beyond my control, we have not had any formal lessons for about a month. That's a pretty good vacation for a homeschooler, especially since I give them all of December for Christmas.

Tomorrow starts the first week of Abbey's four year race to graduation. Here is her list of things to do for the week. If you want to follow along, I will continue to post these weekly for your benefit. These lessons are based on the Year 6 (actually 7th grade) curriculum from Ambleside.
Week 1 Assignments:
Bible: Genesis Lesson I: Creation
*The Nineteenth Amendment Grants Women the Right to Vote.
*Archaeologists Uncover King Tut's Tomb
*Charles Lindburgh Sails Over the Atlantic.
*The Story of Mankind: Chapter 66
*Read a book of your choice.
*Story of David Livingstone: 1 Chapter
*School of the Woods: chapter 1
*It Couldn't Just Happen by Lawrence Richards
*Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher
*Albert Einsten and the Theory of Relativity by Cwiklik
*Math (I
Poetry of Robert Frost: copy first poem for notebook.
Age of Fable: Chapter 29: Return of Ulysses
Romeo and Juliet: begin reading
Our Young Folks' Plutarch: begin reading
The Hobbit: forward and chapter 1
Keep working on Youth Heritage project

*These lessons will also include math, nature study, copywork, art, composer studies, art studies, and more. If it sounds like a lot, it is, but these lessons must be tweaked or modified to meet the needs of the individual child.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's official. My 16 year old princess, who has homeschooled since kindergarten is a freshman in college. Her books arrived in the mail today. Melody is working toward a bachelor's degree in business administration. I am so proud right now that I can hardly stand to be around myself.

For the benefit of my homeschooling friends, I would like to share a few things that I have learned from over 10 years of homeschooling my first born princess.

1. In the early years, even I thought that I may have lost my mind when I withdrew Melody from school, I knew in my heart that this was right, even if it didn't make sense at the time.

2. Purchasing curriculum has been a non issue. The Lord has provided richly, and we have always managed to have what we need at any given time.

3. There are people in our lives that have made their best efforts to make me angry, and have tried to shame me into throwing in the towel. Guess what? I learned that I am tougher than I thought, and can forge ahead, even through my own tears.

4. Even homeschooled kids don't always do what they are told, but discipline is part of the educational experience.

5. A social life is important, but I'm still not convinced that "socialization" is the correct word, simply because it is a word that is often thrown around by some very uncouth people. Sure, they miss out on some things by being homeschooled, but public schooled kids also miss out on some things by being public schooled. We took the road less traveled, and it led to great things.

6. A mother absolutely can create a high school transcript. If she can fill in the blanks, then she can manage quite well. After all, if said mother was public schooled, then she has had lots of practice in the art of filling in blanks.

7. I have two more princesses on this journey. Can I handle another 15 years or so of this? The truth is that it gets easier with practice.

8. If you are new to homeschooling, be prepared to be told by people that have no jobs that you are too lazy to send the kids to school and get a real job. Be prepared to be told by people that have dropped out of high school that your kids HAVE to go to school like everybody else. Don't be surprised when people who have never been to college tell you that online college isn't "real". Learn to hold yourself back when parents of pregnant teens, mini alcoholics and drug addicts tell you that your kids are missing out on the real world.


10. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything, and am very grateful to God, and to all of our friends and family that have climbed this uphill battle with us.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Motts for Tots

Motts for Tots is a juice that is formulated for small children with 40% less sugar and 100% apple juice. If you haven't tried Motts for Tots, simply click the link for savings. I will receive a free sample in the mail from Vocalpoint, and will let you know if Princess Tarja likes it.

On the home front, I have started making car seat blankies. These blankies are designed in such a way that the car seat buckle fits through a hole so that the blankie doesn't fall to the ground while baby is being carried. Isn't that amazing? I plan to make lots and lots of these, so stay tuned for new posts on Laurel's Etsy Shop.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Charlotte Mason Preschool

I copied this from Ambleside Online. Princess Tarja is three years old, so that gives us three years to try to reach the goals listed below. It may be a challenge to find lakes, ponds, forest trees and wild flowers in Monahans, Texas, but we will certainly give it a try.

"A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six"

A reprint of a curriculum outline from a CM school in the 1890's. from Summer 93 Parents Review pub by Karen Andreola

1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
2. to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm
3. to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
4. to read--what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child
5. to copy in print-hand from a book
6. to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
7. to describe the boundries of their own home
8. to describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach
9. to tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early English, and 3 from early Roman history (my note here, we may want to substitute early American for early English!)
10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views
11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them.
12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees
13. to know 6 birds by song, colour and shape
14. to send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed
15. to tell three stories about their own "pets"--rabbit, dog or cat.
16. to name 20 common objects in French, and say a dozen little sentences
17. to sing one hymn, one French song, and one English song
18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.
Last night, after my perfectly Somersized meal and an amazingly positive change in my blood sugar readings, Princess Abbey and I made the sidewalk paint. Abbey and Tarja painted the front porch with beautiful crosses and swirlies. Of course, we don't get to keep these creations, since this paint dries to a powder for easy clean up. That means that they get to create new masterpieces another time.

Hubs dug up an area for a garden. We planted onions, jalapeno peppers, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Tarja helped plant seeds, and then I let her plant sunflower seeds in a little flower pot of her own. Bear in mind that we have been trying to have a garden for years, and have never been successful. Here's hoping that we will have a plant grow in our new town. So far, the trees that we have planted are thriving, and I have more roses on my little rose bush than I have ever had in my entire life. Maybe today, Tarja can plant a bean so that she can watch a really fast growing plant while she waits for the more slowly growing flowers. I also have a lot of seeds of various yellow flowers to plant in the front yard. The reason that they are all yellow is that my more artistic minded, Princess Melody, suggested that all of the flowers should be the same color. I hope to have a yard full of yellow flowers soon.

After the planting fun, we went to the park so that Tarja could blow bubbles with a bubble blowing set that Melody bought for her, and then we all played catch. Abbey, the softball players, laughed at our throwing and catching abilities, but it was fun.

I actually have pictures of all of this, but can't find my USB cable so that I can upload them to my computer.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I've gone back to Somersize level one, for reasons that I can't disclose at this time, but it works for me in certain sensitive situations, and hopefully I can discipline myself to make a lifestyle out of it. My health really, truly depends on it. Hence, this is another phase to my personal war on diabetes.

Here is a strange, interesting fact about me, now that we are on the subject of health: I do not drink water without ice. Even if I drink bottled water, it needs to be ice cold. As I write this, Princess Melody has informed me that we are out of ice, and since caffeine causes issues with my blood sugar, my glass remains empty. It's water, or I need to go out and get a bag of ice. Don't even ask why I won't drink ice made at home. It doesn't even make sense to me, but that's one of the things that makes me different. Be that as it may, I have made a commitment to myself to drink as much water as possible, and it's working for me. Since we live in Death Texas, water is a good thing to pour within one's body.

Hopefully, it will get cool enough to do something outside. When, and if that happens, I want to make Sidewalk Paint for Princess Tarja. I'm sure that her sisters will enjoy helping her beautificate our sidewalks, as well. I absolutely love home made art supplies.