Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Isaiah 46:4

I started out having a very difficult day. Of course, this primarily started in my mind and emotions, as all difficult days are apt to do.

There were a few very important things that seemed to breathe down my neck and try to choke the peace right out of me.

Finally, I prayed, and asked God to please show me whatever it is that he wanted me to know today. I opened my Bible, and turned straight to this verse:

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:4

As soon as I finished reading this brief message, all of the obstacles were cleared. Everything happened instantly. My needs were not just met, but met with great abundance.

I may not be a wealthy woman, but my father in heaven owns everything.

Work at Home Mom

I have not worked outside of my home in several years. There are some challenges to being self employed, but for me, the challenges of being a career mom were way more difficult to surmount. As the tale goes for many self employed individuals, there have been some fat years and some learn years. My little job with ChaCha.com helped with the expense of moving to our new town about two years ago. Today, things have slowed down so that I might not be able to earn that kind of money with them. Still, I keep plugging, because I have been through their fat and lean times already. That's just business, I guess.

While things are slow with ChaCha, I have been doing a little bit more on mturk.com. Mturk is owned by Amazon.com, and is a good way to either earn credit to spend on Amazon.com, or to cash out to pay a bill or buy groceries. I'm debating on whether or not to treat this as my Christmas fund, because it is very easy money.

I have found that I can successfully crochet during the time that I work with ChaCha, so I have finally ventured to open My Etsy Shop. As of right now, I don't have very much posted, Soon I will have my little piece of the internet flooded with items.

If you have an Etsy, please leave a link in my comments so that I can add you as a friend.

Also, if you are a WAHM, please tell us what you do. I love to learn about other mommy adventures.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Charlotte Mason

I've been thinking about how neat it's going to be that I can start Tarja off with a Charlotte Mason education, rather than starting in late elementary and early middle school like I did for Melody and Abbey.

Several years ago, I began to look for something that could help us with Abbey's reading. She was a very, very slow reader. Here, begins my testimony of what has made me so passionate about using the Charlotte Mason method.

Abbey could not read or write by the time she was 8 years old. I worked with her every single day. Even my husband started to question my ways, and said that maybe I just didn't know what I was doing, and should send her to public school. I stood my ground. Friends of mine who are school teachers offered all kinds of suggestions, web sites, and curriculum. A lot of tears were shed by both Abbey and me during this time.

Finally, I asked another homeschooler about Charlotte Mason, and she explained it to me, and directed me to a few websites that could explain it better. I borrowed A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola from my local library, took an empty spiral notebook, and took notes from every chapter. I put the brakes on everything else that we had been working on, and started adopting Charlotte Mason's ways immediately.

In about a month's time, Abbey was reading. Not only was she reading her lessons, but she started to read for pleasure. As if a switch had been turned on in her head, she began to spell perfectly, and her penmanship was beautiful ONE MONTH changed everything, after several years of stress, struggle, and heart break.

Shortly after this change, I attended a play that she did with our local Methodist Church. She had to stand up and read a few lines. She read them perfectly, with no mistakes at all. I held myself together until the very end. The girls invited me to enjoy their fellowship meal with them, but I excused myself and went home. I went to my husband, with tears streaming down my face, and I said, "Even you, didn't believe that I could teach her, but today, Abbey stood up and read to the entire church!"

Now, there is a big kicker at the end of this tale. Abbey's reading, writing, and school work seemed to improve 100 percent each and every year. The only problem was that she worked very slowly, but she did get everything done that was asked of her. She works steadily, methodically, and even exclaimed once that she loved doing her school work. I knew that she had a visual perception issue, and I also knew that a regular eye doctor couldn't fix it, but maybe there was some hope. We made a date to have both her and Melody's eyes checked. It was heart wrenching to watch Abbey try to read the eye charts to the doctor. She couldn't read anything correctly. How, then, was she doing so well with her reading, copywork, and writing assignments? I'll never understand it myself, unless it was the consistency that came with using the Charlotte Mason Method, or maybe the act of learning to recognize the words, even if the words looked very different to her than they looked to other people.

This year, Abbey has read almost all of the Babysitter's Club series for pleasure. She is in the lead for our 52 books challenge, and even though she hasn't tried to read any for herself, she enjoys classic literature. I credit the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling for transforming my daughter's life.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

This being a holiday weekend, and also my brother in law's wife's birthday weekend, we literally had an all day cookout. My hubs started off by grilling some chicken, and I made some really spicy and delicious deviled eggs. My brother in law's wife made stuffed jalapeno peppers, roasted chilis, roasted corn, and hot dogs wrapped in bacon. All of this fits nicely into my diet plan, so I was literally in hog heaven today. I don't mean to come across as a foodie, but family events haven't been much fun for me, considering that the majority of the meals being served consist of foods that could be deadly for me. Today was literally a feast day for me.

After dinner, we played Monopoly. My brother in law won. I haven't won a game of Monopoly in a long time, but it's still my favorite game.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's unusual for me to post more than once per day, but after publishing "I Wanna Talk About Jesus", I looked down at Tarja's sweet, sleeping face, and a horrible day that we shared almost two years ago came back to visit my memory.

On a cold afternoon, Abbey brought Tarja from their bedroom. She was hanging from her arms like a rag doll. Her eyes were rolled back into her head, and she was making a strange gurgling sound. Abbey said, "Mom....she won't snap out of it." I took Tarja from her, sat her on my lap, and screamed for Melody to call 911. It appeared that she was not breathing. I thought that she was choking on something, and did a finger sweep in her mouth, but could find nothing. I shook her slightly, turned her over and pounded on her back to allow her to expel whatever was cutting off her breathing, but nothing was happening. She seemed to be fading fast. Melody called everybody that she could for help, and I held Tarja in my arms and cried, begging God to please not take my baby. Everything was in slow motion as we waited for the ambulance. By this time, we were all holding her and each other, and crying, pleading for her to stay. The neighbors across the street came running. By the time the ambulance arrived, I had completely lost all of my senses, and I don't remember a whole lot of what happened until she came to on the way to the hospital.

By the time the doctor examined her, Tarja was fully alert, and acted like nothing had ever happened. The doctor said, "Ma'am, your baby is fine, and will never know that this ever happened. YOU are the one that will have to recuperate." Believe it or not, I was still crying by the time we were discharged from the emergency room. It turns out that she had a febrile seizure that was caused because she had received vaccinations while she had an ear infection. It will take me a long time to forgive the clinic that gave those vaccinations, because I told them that she was sick and they told me that she wasn't sick enough to not receive her shots.

Thank you, Jesus, for blessing us with this princess when we didn't think that we could have any more children, and for keeping her safe and well. That day will be burned on our hearts forever, but you kept this baby in your hands loving hands.

I Wanna Talk About Jesus.....

It was a sleepy kind of day, but we did manage to read chapter 39 of Great Expectations. Melody worked on the pre algebra and reading portions of her ACT test prep. Abbey worked on another section of her Youth Freedom Award project.

I spent a great part of the day reading Eat Cheat and Melt the Fat Away. I have used this program before, but this is the first time that I have read the book in it's entirety. I am now convinced that this should be the diabetic bible. Read any of Suzanne Somer's books about nutrition, and you will be truly blessed. I started a journal of recipes that I want to try, that fit into this plan.

We have relatives coming to spend time with us tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to Hub's barbeque. I push for barbeque for just about every family gathering, because I can eat meats to my heart's content as long as I don't attack my body with starchy side dishes such as potatoes and beans.

Tarja has been a little turkey tonight. She hasn't wanted to go to bed. We are snuggled on the sofa as I write. Before she finally closed her eyes, she said, "Mommy, I wanna talk about Jesus." I said, "What do you want to talk about?" She said, "Tell me about it." I showed her how to fold her little hands to pray, and we talked to Jesus briefly, since the conversations of three year olds are a little scattered. After that, she thanked me and went right to sleep.

In Jesus's Name.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Princess Melody is at her monthly orthodontist appointment in San Angelo. She doesn't look forward to the dentist, but she does look forward to the trip.

Melody is also the proud recipient of her very first job. This is the job that she applied for just a few months ago, but was told that she would have to wait until her birthday. She is a very, very happy little princess, because now she will be able to earn money to fund some of her dreams.

Princess Tara and I had the pleasure of reading two books today, Invisible Alligators and The Journey of the Noble Gnarble. While Abbey was working on her lessons, Tarja says, "But what about me???" I love that my children love to learn.

Princess Abbey got started on the Youth Freedom Award project today. There are a lot of opportunities to write for this project, so we assigned a spiral notebook for the effort. As she writes, we correct grammar, and practice all misspelled words. When she is finished with the project, she will get a nice medal.

This afternoon, we have a twirling lesson, and then Abbey has a softball game. I have to make supper very early so that all we have to do is heat it up when we are ready to eat.

As for me, I am on the very last unit of Experiencing God. I will miss this study when it's over. Also, I am continually working toward improving my health, and have been even more diligent in working with ChaCha to help with my husband's transition from one job to the next.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homeschool Summer

We don't allow our children to play during the Summer. Ha ha! You know that's not true, but that is the assumption that a lot of people have about homeschoolers.

However, I do have some things to say about the way we handle the lazy months of Summer. Truly, the Santiagos don't have time to waste away the hundred degree days by sipping Lemonade and listening to the sidewalks crack.

We still have lessons, although they might not be as structured as they were during the Fall and Winter. Last year, we started the Youth Heritage Award project during the Summer, and began utilizing all of the available video courses on Hippocampus. The girls attended a theater workshop, and began the necessary work for the Active Lifestyle Challenge. Abbey also participated in the Summer reading program at our local library.

For this Summer, I plan on working on Melody's high school transcript, and she will do her ACT test prep so that she can test in November.

Tarja will get to participate in the library Summer reading program for the first time.

Abbey will finish her softball season around the fist week of June.

Both Melody and Abbey will participate in a youth Bible study.

All three girls are baton twirling until Christmas, and we are all still doing the 52 Books Challenge to show that we can read 52 books by next January.

Please discuss your Summer plans in the comments below. It's fun to share ideas!

Monday, May 16, 2011

We have been very busy with softball practice 4 days a week, and baton twirling for two days per week. Softball season is already nearing an end, but we are just getting started in twirling. Two of my students are beginners, and are about to have their very first parade, beginning with the local July 4th parade. I don't know if they are excited, but I am.

Along those lines, I have decided to take the United States Twirling Association home study course to become a USTA coach. I don't know what that will do for me, but I just feel like this is something that I can and should do for myself. Keep in mind that I have been giving twirling lessons since I was about 16 years old, so you can imagine my excitement.

In response to my dear friend, LL, asking what the youth heritage project is, you can find more information about that program HERE.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Homeschool Year in Review

Even though we are nearing the end of the public school calendar, my homeschool never stops. Activities change for the Summer, but we technically have "school" all year round.

I do like to take this time of the year to reflect on a few things that we have accomplished, so here is a list of some of the high points:

1. Melody and Abbey both earned the Youth Heritage Award for intensive study of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We started this project near the end of last Summer.

2. Melody and Abbey both earned the Presidential Active Lifestyle Challenge Award.

3. Melody completed all of her high school coursework with the exception of math. Math will be completed in the very near future.

4. Abbey successfully completed a few high school courses alongside Melody.

5. We joined a fellow blogger in a challenge to read 52 books during the course of this year. Abbey is winning this challenge, and those that know us in person will know that this is a tremendous accomplishment for her.

6. Abbey joined a local softball team, 4H sewing, and two 4H shooting classes.

7. Melody joined the 4H shooting classes, and taught herself how to play the Irish Tin Whistle.

8. Melody and I took Financial Peace University together. She just turned 16, and is excited to finally be able to look for a job and jump straight to the wealth building portion of the program. (HOOTIE HOO!!!)

We have a new Presidential Physical Fitness goal, and are about to start on the next Youth Heritage Award project. Also, we plan on doing lots and lots of swimming.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I have been a college student mom, working mother, stay at home mom, work at home mom, public school mom, and homeschooling mom. The Three Princesses and I have not had a boring life together.

I was already pregnant with Princess Melody when I got married. I prayed for a baby girl with red, curly hair. Keep in mind that I am Native American with brown hair that is straight as a board. My husband is Hispanic, with dark brown, straight hair. Princess Melody has naturally wavy brown hair with red highlights.

About 3 years later, I told Mama that I was going to go to the doctor for a pregnancy test. Right after I left her house to go to my appointment, our old family doctor came to ask Papa to work on his car, and she told him what I had told her. about 9 months later, I was sitting at her kitchen table with newly born, Princess Abbey. The same old doctor friend came to the door. Mama took Abbey to him and said, "Remember when I told you that Lori needed a pregnancy test? Well, here it is!"

I found out that I was expecting Princess Tarja, the day after Abbey's 8th birthday, and just a few months after Mama died. When I went to the doctor, she confirmed what I already knew, and I burst into tears. We had wanted another baby, but had given up several years before. My doctor hugged me and asked me if I wanted the baby and I said, "I do......but I feel so silly, and I miss my Mama." Mama died in February of 2007, and Tarja arrived in March of 2008.

My birthday is in March. Mama gave me a necklace in December for my birthday. It is a heart with footprints on one side and the words, "It was then that I carried you...." on the back. She insisted on giving it to me in December. I sat with her until she went home.......just two days before my birthday.

"It was then that I carried you......"

Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Children's Claritin Syrup

The Three Princesses and I can not live without Claritin, so imagine how happy I was to receive a bottle of Children's Claritin Syrup in the mail! We live in West Texas, and right now, the wind and smoke from the wild fires have been aggravating our allergies in the worst way.

My honest review is that even though Children's Claritin syrup is a fabulous product for allergy suffers, I prefer the ready tabs or chewables. The ready tabs or chewables are much easier to administer to my youngest child. However, the syrup is very necessary for those children that are too young for the pill forms. Hooray for Claritin for covering all of the age groups with their product!

I am a Bzzagent and have received this product and coupons for free to try in exchange for my review.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I was lucky enough to be one of the few Bzzagents to receive Covergirl Natureluxe foundation and a lip color. These arrived just in time for Princess Melody's sweet 16. The foundation was full coverage, yet did not look or feel like a full coverage foundation. In fact, after I applied this product to my face, it didn't feel like I had any makeup on at all. Melody tried some, and said the same. The lipcolor appeared to be a red that I would not normally wear. However, I was surprised to find that it was a moisturizing hint of color. Therefore, I am happy to report that both the Natureluxe foundation and lip color are five star winners in my makeup kit.

*I am a Bzzagent, and have received these products as free samples in exchange for my review.