Saturday, January 29, 2011

The "S" Word

There is a word that should be banned from vocabulary, just because I'm tired of hearing it. That word is "socialization". When I hear the word, "socialization", I think of things like Socialists, Socialism, and a whole host of other negative things that have nothing to do with what people mean when they ask that question that is always asked of homeschoolers.

"What about socialization?"

Let me start with some background information, that I just need to get off of my chest for once and for all. Forgive me, Lord, but I'm about to let this out in the open, and I'm going to consciously forgive some people as soon as this post is published.

We have homeschooled for over ten years. Apparently, some folks didn't realize that we have been homeschoolers all along, and didn't find anything unusual or different about our children until THEY FOUND OUT.

Of course, we weren't hiding anything from them. It just wasn't really any of their business. Their children attend the school that they attend, and mine attend the school that MINE attend. When they became closer to us, they decided to try to convert us to their way of thinking.

Even though their primary contact with my children has been at parties and other social events, they determined that we have kept our children from the real world, and that they won't even know how to be around other people. It is also their job to save us from ourselves, or didn't we know?

This ends badly, because our relationship was forever marred when the male part of this group stood, screaming at me in my own home about how my children have no lives, and that they could never do that to their own children. Of course, he did this in front of my children, going on to insinuate that they lack intelligence, among other things. I hope that my children can be forgiving, because right now, they don't enjoy spending time with this part of the family any more.

I won't attack the way that they parent their own children, because the destructiveness of their lifestyle is already manifesting itself in some very not so surprising ways.

So as of this post, I end the catty remarks, and things like that from me. No matter how angry I get at the things that they say to me, my husband, or my children, we will continue to do what we do, because that is what is right for our family.

If the real world is all about sex, drugs, drinking, failing grades, disrespect, teen pregnancy, and outright child neglect, then we reject that world.

If the real world is about hurting other people just to make ourselves look better, then we reject that world, too.

If the real world ignores God and family, just for the sake of pleasure, then we are also guilty of rejecting those things.

If the real world means that my children can't pursue the information that they truly need in pursuit of the lives that they want to live, then we reject it once again.

If the real world means that it is ok to cheat on things like science projects for the sake of winning instead of learning, then we are guilty once more.

We don't care if the Three Princesses never win a science fair, listen to rap music, have a swagga, call themselves Gucci, or become homecoming queens. We don't care if they never get their noses pierced, go cruising, or find out what going out to the boonies is all about.

I'm tired of listening to you brag about your children's accomplishments, and tired of pretending that I am impressed. I am tired of being careful to not mention the accomplishments of my own children, lest you insult me or try to start a fight. If you will notice, I am the one that stops talking when you throw something insulting and demeaning into the air for all to hear. Years ago, I adopted a philosophy for myself that goes like this, "PRAY, DON'T CONFRONT"

We are raising Americans, NOT Socialists.

Yet as I said, I will forgive now, because it's past time to do that.

Giving Thanks and Praise to God,

Laurel Santiago

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Royal Disappointment

Princess Melody is just a few months too young for the job that she thought she already had.

I, being the pushy, homeschooling mommy that I can be, said, "It's OK. You can focus on your ACT test for now, and by the time that's over, you will be old enough to work wherever you like!"

Princess Melody looked at me like I was crazy. I don't blame her.

Even the sweetest princes and princesses don't get paid for taking standardized tests.

Explaining to a young student that the three r's, tests, diplomas, and degrees earn one more money later is often met with a faraway gaze.

After all, what happens in the future doesn't fill their little pockets now.

Could this be an exercise in patience? They say that patience is a virtue, but what they don't say is that it takes practice. It's another one of those tests that really does earn us more of everything as time passes.

Princess Melody, I do believe that someday, you will have all that you want, and more than that, because that's the kind of faithful, hard working princess that you are.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Princess Melody Goes to Work

Princess Melody has a lot of big plans for herself. She has chosen to enroll in an online college after she graduates, because she wants a home, car, her own business, and lots of other nice things. The catch is that she intends to do all of this and remain debt free.

For the past few years, she has taken on babysitting and housekeeping jobs to fund her dreams. Today, she has a real job interview.

It's a little bit scary, thinking of my baby being old enough to have a real job. Instincts are causing me to wonder what kind of questions they will ask her in the interview. Will she know the right answers? If she gets the job, will the other ladies that she works with be nice to her, or resent her for being so young and inexperienced?

All of these questions and more are running through my mind, even though I worked all through school.

This year, we have a new job, sweet 16, graduation, the beginnings of higher education, and more. Someday, my baby girls will all be the queens of their kingdoms.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Three Princesses Unit Study Giveaway

It seems that all great blogs give something away, so I have decided to bless somebody with one of my unit studies. In fact, I will even autograph it for you if you like.

In order to be entered into a drawing for a free unit study book by Laurel Santiago, you will need to click on the links in the margin of my blog, where the unit studies are located. Preview the first few pages of each book, or at least those that you are interested in previewing, and then leave a comment, telling me which one you would most like to have. Next, follow my blog either through the site, or on networked blogs via facebook. The winner will be announced January 31st.

Thank You and Good Luck!
Laurel Santiago

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Three Princesses Go to Church

We have lived in our new town for a little over a year. It has had it's ups and downs. One of the ups is our new church. The girls started going to children and youth groups. I went every once in awhile, especially if a princess had something going on like choir or Upward cheerleading. This morning, I got up and decided that it was time to join the church. I sent text messages to my two oldest princesses, and told them that when the pastor gave the invitation, I was going to go up and tell him that we wanted to become members, and that I wanted them to go up with me. When the time came, I took my shy, eleven year old princess by the hand, and my oldest met us at the altar. What is the significance of this?

We moved to this town two years after seeing my beloved Mama off to heaven by way of cancer. Moving here forced us to leave behind a baton twirling corps that I founded, and a thriving Girl Scout unit that I managed, as well as a growing homeschool group. We went from being leaders, to being new faces in a new, bigger town.

Before we got all of our things moved, our new home was burglarized, and we lost some very important things such as our entire collection of batons that we used for performances. This would lead to a year off from twirling.

My husband had to change jobs twice.

We went from being a two car family, to one, which meant that after school activities would be greatly limited. No more Girl Scouts, no parade corps, no joining other homeschoolers to play.

It's been a long, frustrating journey.

So what does the church have to do with all of this?

It came to me not long ago, that our entire lives have changed. The changes may seem insignificant to those on the outside, but they were very profound for us. However, it's all coming back to us. We are equipped and ready to start twirling classes next March. We have a new homeschool group forming, and even though we aren't involved in the same activities, our schedule is starting to be packed once again. In fact, I have joined the church choir so that I, too, can enjoy an extra curricular activity that is all my own.

The fact of the matter is that the people of this church have treated us very nicely. They act like we are family, even though they admit to not knowing us very well. It seems as if we were led to our new church family via our personal "trail of tears". Tonight, I write with a humble and grateful heart. We have made our membership official, and two princesses are going to be baptized. The long, emotional, and painful road has led us to a new life, new friends, new church. I'm looking forward to looking forward.

Giving all the Glory to God,
Laurel Santiago

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Palace Rules

Most mothers have a rule for everything that goes on in their homes. If the rules aren't followed, then there are consequences. Discipline is important, but I don't have to do a whole lot of it. The three princesses are very well behaved. Of course, our youngest, and most high spirited, is in her terrible twos right now, but she's learning about life in our little castle.

I think that the only really serious infraction is that of refusing to keep their chambers clean. The Queen does not like to have to wade through masses of clothes and toys to get to things. Beyond that, the house rules are simple. I expect everybody to be nice to each other, and to visitors. I don't like to hear curse words, even though the king might bellow every once in awhile. Princesses are expected to tell me where they are going, and then stay in that place unless they ask permission to go elsewhere beforehand. Basically, being honest earns a princess a lot of nice privileges.

This could mean, of course, that they are unsocialized. There's that goofy word. If they were the kind of kids that get into trouble often, then they would be considered normal, and then I could have something to talk about with some of the other ladies. However, I listen to them talk about their incorrigible kids, and there is no place for me to join in. Sad, isn't it?

I love the three princesses. They make me proud every day. Even on bad days, I know that many queens have a far more difficult time managing things than I do, and I pray that they receive the help and guidance that they need.

With Love for all Queens and their princes and princesses,
Laurel Santiago

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Royal Exercises

The Royal Exercises, otherwise known as PE, range from simple to intense. My children are enrolled in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Challenge. Participation is free, self paced, and one may sign up online. Tarja won't be able to participate until after her third birthday, which is very soon. Melody and Abbey earned their first award last semester, and now are working toward a second. Right after my recent diagnosis of diabetes, I signed myself up for the challenge along with a friend. They have options specifically for adults. I am actually well on my way to earning my first award. HOotie hoo!

What do the Santiago princesses do for exercise?
The majority of the exercises logged for Melody and Abbey are walking, and household tasks. Melody has a housekeeping job for a neighbor, and both girls help me with chores around the house. Also, they walk almost everywhere that they go, and Abbey is in Upward cheerleading. In addition to that, I teach baton twirling, so they get credit for those practices as well.

For myself, I have been doing the Mama Wants Her Body Back program. It's a grueling 1/2 hour of cardio, strength, and core. I really don't enjoy it very much, but each exercise is done quickly, and furiously, which means that by the time that I think that I can't handle it anymore, it's already time to move on to the next thing. Like all exercise, it gets easier, so I may decide that it's my favorite before it's all over. My actual current favorite exercise is Callanetics. I'm not flexible enough yet to get beyond the beginning stages, but I can do the exercises in a short amount of time, and can really feel my muscles working hard while I do it. The instructor claims that her only competition is plastic surgery, and that her exercises can shave ten years off of a person. I'll let you know when I've lost my ten years, and million pounds. I might even show you a picture, but right now, I'm keeping my roundness off camera.

If you are interested in any of the programs that I have cited in this post, please visit:
Active Lifestyle Challenge
Mama Wants Her Body Back

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Diabetes and a Homeschooling Mom

Ten years of homeschooling has been a very positive part of our lives. However, I learned at the end of 2010, that my lack of regard for my own care has taken a big toll on my health. It's very scary, and uncomfortable to have to face something that I had been dodging successfully, all my life.

My thyroid stopped working when I was 19, resulting in weight gain, and a lot of other problems. At some point, I stopped going to doctors unless I had to get my routine checkup for my thyroid, because doctor visits are too expensive, and there were times when I just didn't want to hear any bad news about myself.

There were times that doctors told me that my blood sugar was out of control, and it did scare me, but I would immediately go on a diet, and the problem would be solved. However, my diabetic grandfather would point out that most of our relatives became full blown diabetic after age 35.

I had gestational diabetes through all three pregnancies, but that was only temporary. With my third pregnancy, I was placed on insulin injections, and I thought that I would never be able to handle having to do that for the rest of my life. Being pregnant and diabetic is the pits.

Let's fast forward to December, 2010, right before Christmas, and three months before my 35th birthday. I had Christmas dinner all planned out. Desserts were already made and stored away for the big day. I made all of my favorite side dishes to go with the turkey. It was going to be perfect. The only hurdle that I had left before the holiday was to get my usual checkup and lab work so that I could get my thyroid meds refilled, and get on with the rest of my life.

After I had my visit with the doctor, and blood work was underway, I went home to enjoy the rest of my day, and work on getting my house ready for Christmas. That afternoon, the doctor called to give my results. My thyroid levels were good, so I would continue the same medication that I was using for that. My fasting blood sugar was over 300. I was crushed. It was very hard to listen as he gave me instructions over the phone and told me to go back to the clinic in the morning to pick up my new prescriptions. The girls tried to console me, but I couldn't stop crying. Many of my relatives, including both of my maternal grandparents, have passed on because of diabetes complications. It felt like I had been issued a death sentence.

It's been about a month since then. I've have been dieting, exercising, and taking meds. The pill medication didn't work for me, so now I am on insulin. The expense of this disease has been very frustrating, but I do know that God will provide. At first, I was angry about being diagnosed right before Christmas, but maybe I would not have lived to see 2011. My first thought was that I had no support system, but a dear friend came to me right away, and offered to help me through this. We are cheering each other on, and praying for each other. Other friends have been praying and encouraging me as well. If you were to ask me who my best friend is, I would say that they are all the best. It means a lot to me. Maybe someday God will use me to help another soul who is going through the same thing. In fact, I discovered that this really is an answer to a heartfelt prayer when I asked God to please restore my body so that I could feel better, and be of greater service to him. Quite possibly, the true miracle was finding out what was wrong with me in the first place.

Giving All The Glory to God,
Laurel Santiago

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Christmas in January?

Thanksgiving and Christmas are over. This was actually the easiest Christmas that I, as a mother, have had in my entire adult life. Inspired by a very dear friend, and being tired of having holidays that did not live up to my own expectations, I waged war and started my holiday preparations during the summer months. After it was all over for 2010, I looked around the remnants of the season, and realized, that I can do even better.

Today, I went to a Christmas clearance sale at one of my favorite stores, and filled up my backseat with Christmas decorations. I got wreaths, table accessories, outdoor decor, lighted decorations, wrapping paper and more. People mumbled behind in me the check out line that I was smart, but that they were tired of Christmas. I imagine that they were tired of the holiday frenzy that I will never again endure. After the cashier finished ringing up all of my purchases, the grand total was $7.00. How could I have been so silly in previous years when I waited at the last minute, fought the shopping crowds, and struggled to manage our usual household expenses? Now, in the middle of January, I only need to purchase and make gifts for the next Christmas. Amazing!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Welcome to Three Princesses!

You are about to embark on a royal journey.  This is the journey of three princesses and their parents, who have been on a mission to home educate for over ten years.  The oldest princess is Melody, who will complete her studies in the near future, Abbey, who is in her first year of junior high, and Baby Tarja, who is in the final stages of potty training.  

As you travel with us, you will laugh, cry, and experience some Aha! moments. I will start off our journey with a view of the two youngest, yet very fair princesses as they perform their royal exercises.  You will see Abbey, practicing cheer leading for her Upward basketball group, and Baby Tarja, following along so that she can someday participate in the same group.

Now, you will observe Princess Baby Tarja enjoying her royal reading lesson, which is administered and supervised by our oldest Princess Melody:

You have officially met the Three Princesses, and I hope that you will continue to join us as we share our homeschooling journey with you.