Sound Homeschooling

Okay, I think I’m ready.



A few years ago, I got real frustrated real fast with homeschooling.

Not the teaching aspect…I love that part.

But there are a million resources in a million places, and everyone has a different opinion on everything.

You know. Homeschoolers.

The thing is, I am incredibly resourceful. I collect resources and links whenever I find them. I like to know what is available, to whom, for what subject, in what format and for what price.

So, a few years ago I made a little webpage for me and the kids where we could easily find all of our information and resources.

However, over time we have grown, moved, adapted and found new interests. Which means I need to adapt and move the website so it works for where we are now.

So, I created Sound Homeschooling.

It isn’t a club, it isn’t a group, I don’t have an email list for it, we won’t have meetings and I don’t want to see any TPS reports about it.

It is simply a resource place for homeschoolers in the Puget Sound area.

My parameters were: if you can get to it by ferry, or if the city is near the Puget Sound shoreline, then it gets on my resource list.

This all being said, I am very happy to introduce:

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Sound Homeschooling covers every subject, every law, Common Core, curriculums, events, communities, classes and libraries around us.

For exapmple!


These are just some screenshots of the pages for STEM, Crafts and Events…but there are hundreds of links on this site.

I also have a Sound Homeschooling Facebook page…that you can like for updates, events, ideas, etc.

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I am sure over time I will continue to add more resources…and if you have something that should be on here, please let me know!!


But in the meantime: enjoy 🙂

What Are You Reading This Spring?

Book Shadows

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

I can’t say I blame her at all for this sentiment!

Truly, the first piece of furniture I bought when I moved out on my own was a bookshelf. Because I have a load of books…and these books need a home.

Books on top of books and in front of books on the shelves, with books in between.

Ahh, the love of reading.

The thing is, I can get into a rut with reading.

I remember one season in college when I read every single Vonnegut book there was. (You can’t really read just one of his books to understand what he’s saying…you kind of have to read a few.)

But after that…then what?

I’ve read every single Brontë sister book ever published (including Anne’s books), most of Austen, Shelly, Wordsworth, Frost, Dickinson, Henry James, Kate Chopin…Steve Martin…

What do you do when you’ve read the entire academic catalogue of literature?

You consult professionals to give you more books.


What To Do When You Finally Figure Out Why It Feels Like Your Head Is Being Torn Apart: Cluster Headaches, vol. 1



Because you know who has time for this???


Especially not this lady, who has been dealing with headaches ever since the scent of puberty breezed past her in Jr. High and then landed firmly upon her like an albatross, and is well versed with sundry stupid, “not life threatening,” “intense pains” for no good reason.

I swear, if I could boost my immune system with this sucker, or if there was something positive about it, like “cluster headaches increase the ability to see infrared light,” or “cluster headaches allow the user to bend the fabric of time,” that’d be one thing.

But nnnnnnooooooooooooooooo….

Okay, here’s what’s going on.

Last week I was having this pain on the left side of my face/head. No big deal, I’ve had headaches on the left side of my face/head before. I’ve had headaches on the top of my head, the bottom of my head, the middle of my head….all in all, this isn’t my first walk in the park with headaches. NO BIGGIE. Take some Motrin, as I have been advised to do by every single doctor I have ever spoken with about all of my headaches.

Good to go. It goes away, at least to a “dull roar.”

And then it comes back.

And then it goes away.

And then it comes back.

And then it goes away.

And then….OH COME ON. 

There has been no pattern as far as I can see. The headache comes for a few minutes/hours, and then goes away for minutes/hours. I might think it is finished, and then all of a sudden it’s back and I am holding the left side of my head, like it’s about to fall off.

I am hydrated (always the first thing to check, fyi), fed, rested, stretched, light exercised, rested again, showered, I am not bored, I am intellectually stimulated (for us cerebral types, the lack of intellectual stimulation can lead to intense frustration, which can lead to headaches or anxiety). I am not depressed, I am being deliberate about being happy, I am taking my Motrin (because sometimes I am so deeply annoyed with being in pain, again, that I don’t want to give it the satisfaction of being treated. Us overly-stubborn types know what this is about).

I have considered maybe I am having these debilitating headaches because I have a vitamin D deficiency, even though I have never tested low….but who the heck knows, maybe I am now. So I’m taking Vitamin D. And iron. I have Fish Oil on the stand-by…

I am willing to take anything that solves this problem, because it feels like my head is being torn apart from behind my left eye, and the pain is searing to the point that I cannot stay conscious and I am drugging myself and sleeping the pain away, and this, frankly, is bullshit.

I have completely run out of ideas on what this stupid, coming and going headache could possibly be. It isn’t anything I’m eating. It isn’t anything I’m doing. It comes in waves, and lasts a while, and then goes away….and comes back again, and this has been going on sporadically for two weeks.

So, anyway, that’s a cluster headache.


According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Cluster headaches, which occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head.”

Oh. That’s fantastic.

“Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last from weeks to months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches stop.”

According to WebMD:

“We don’t know what causes them, but we do know that a nerve in your face is involved, creating intense pain around one of your eyes. It’s so bad that most people can’t sit still and will often pace during an attack. Cluster headaches can be more severe than a migraine, but they usually don’t last as long.”

“A cluster period generally lasts from six to 12 weeks. The starting date and the duration of each cluster period might be consistent from period to period. For example, cluster periods can occur seasonally, such as every spring or every fall.

The pain usually ends as suddenly as it began, with rapidly decreasing intensity. After attacks, most people are pain-free, but exhausted.”

Gotta admit.

I’m pretty exhausted.



I. I Literally. Can’t Even. Keep My Eyes Open.

Okay, I am working on outlining a huge 40 day Lent writing fest….


The problem is, our family’s theme for Lent is “40 Days of Health.”


And that means exercise.

I have done two days in a row, pre-Lent, of ballet Pilates.

Two days.

In a row.

My body is so sore. I am typing this with my eyes closed.

Because Lent is about returning to God, repentance, forgiveness and giving up something you enjoy.

I enjoy not working out. Because working out is hard, painful, tiring and painful.


It is returning to health.

So that’s what we’re doing.

I will write something more substantial tomorrow. Right now I’m going to bed. After I take Motrin.

Getting To Know You, Getting To Know…Some Selected Things About You

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Sometimes on a blog, you can get lost in your writing.

For the most part, the reader can get a good sense of who you are through your writing; yet, there are a lot of little things that make you up, on top of the big ones.

Sure, we homeschool and have a bundle of kids…but we aren’t the only ones who homeschool with a bundle of kids.  Are we doing Waldorf? Classical? Eclectic? Secular? Virtual? Charter?  What do we do and why have we chosen our curriculums, exactly?  I make all of our meals from scratch, but what does that mean in real life?

Am I one of those neurotic women who obsess about food, and use buzzwords like kale, local or organic? Or is it just an interest?

If I do make all our meals from scratch, and we homeschool, and we have a bundle of kids, why aren’t I writing more articles on organization or couponing? (this is not going to happen)  I have been married for over 15 years, and together for over 20…why aren’t I writing about healthy relationships?


I like punk music, so why am I wearing mom jeans? (I’m not really wearing momjeans.  I’m really wearing green plaid pajama pants.)

I drink endless cups of black coffee every day…how is this possible?

I like Science Fiction, and shun the Hunger Games series.  Am I a snob? (yes)

I hate 99% of chick flicks, and I only watch a small handful of musicals.  Am I simply opinionated, or am I a hater? (debatable)


There are so many things that make up a person.

In person, am I really an altogether groovy chick, or are you going to feel incredibly awkward when you meet me?

Who am I, really?

This question plagues me, and it is definitely the fuel that keeps this fire under me going.  I have grown and changed so much in my adult life, that I wonder if I am even the same person I was.  Yet, when I look back…I have kind of painfully been the same person this whole time.  Some little things have changed, but the big ones haven’t.


I thought I’d break format a little today, and answer a few “Getting To Know You” questions from GoodReads.


I know! Me too!!


 What is your favorite subject in school?

English, obviously.  I loved reading literature, analyzing the material and writing amazing essays in the end.  It was like finishing a puzzle for me.  Very satisfying to complete.

 What is your favorite flavor of jelly beans?

I am very particular with jelly beans, actually.  I like the bags of assorted jelly beans, but I eat them two at a time: coconut and lime, popcorn and cinnamon, apple and cherry.  I love mixing the flavors, but it takes forever to eat a bag when you are just eating them two at a time.

Which flavor of ice-cream do you prefer?

I am not an exotic ice-cream aficionado, but I am particular about what I enjoy.  The absolute best ice cream is Ben&Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge Swirl.  It is the perfect balance of creamy vanilla, and the perfect caramel and fudge texture.  This ice cream got me through quite a few pregnancies.

 What do you think is your very best feature or characteristic?

I can adapt to just about anything.  Long term is a little harder, but short term is no big deal.  Snow? Water? Heat? No problem. Need and event organized? Got it.  Need some ideas? I got your back.  However, this makes “settling down” pretty tricky.


 What do you usually do when you have leisure time on your hands?

I know this is going to sound crazy, but if I have free time I am either reading or writing. Or planning homeschool adventures. Right now I have a paper next to me outlining our next adventure into the Medieval times…we’re going to be doing timelines, kings, a little theater the kids are going to perform, illuminated manuscripts, wars (there were so many), what peace means: innovation, 1450-the Gutenberg press, the Great Schism of 1054, Black Death, Magna Carta of 1215, Vikings and how they were not dragon flying peacemakers who played games all day in harmony, I’m looking at you Hiccup, Marco Polo and mapwork. 😀


 What is your favorite home cooked meal?

Probably my rosemary and garlic roast lamb.  It’s pretty phenomenal.  Also my stroganoff.  It’s kind of out of this world. My Old Fashioned is also pretty freaking amazeballs…


 How many siblings do you have?

2, and I’m the oldest.  I have “first child” syndrome in a big way.  Something is happening?  Here, let me take over.  No, I got it…no, no, I got it give it to me, I got it.  I’m learning how to back off.  Sometimes. Not really.


What kind of vehicle do you usually ride in?

I refuse, with all of my being, to buy a minivan.  I just can’t do it.  It feels like giving up something…so we have a Crossover with 3 rows of bench seats, and we can fit everyone in our car.  We just can’t fit anyone else in our car.

 Do you have pets?

I have two dogs: a cocker spaniel, Captain America, and my Pomeranian, St.Sebastian. I also have a lovely gray cat named Esther who is allowed to go outside in the morning and catch forest shrews.

When was the last time you visited a park and what did you do while there?

Y’know, there are far too much forest and beach access out here that we love…to go to the park. Granted, sometimes we do. There is a fantastic park nearby that we hit when it’s sunny, which also means we haven’t been there in a couple months. But I think the point of this question was finding out how often we go outside, and that’s easy: every day. Right now I’m starting to see all the bulbs I planted last fall start to sprout, which is so exciting. I am going to have a ton of daffodils this spring! The kids make forts and hideouts in the woods, and I generally keep the Pom out of the forest because he could walk underneath the ivy and I would never see him again.

What do you usually do when you meet someone for the first time?

I always shake hands, even for rather informal circumstances. It’s just a good ice-breaker. Otherwise, I generally lead the conversation because I have found people will open up when the environment feels familiar, so I just treat people as old friends, and it is better for everyone.  Which is a total INTJ response to conversations.  But it works, and that is what I am going for.

Do you plan to go to college?

I went to college, and our kids are planning on going to college.  Glenn has already told me that when he is in his office, I can call him at lunch, but not before. Because he is working.  #melt

What job do you think you would most enjoy as an adult?

I would love to either be an editor, or go back to teaching in university…actually, I kind of like that idea better.  I love the classroom.  Give me a chalkboard, a projector, and a slew of dusty textbooks and I’m a happy camper.

Or, you know, I could just be a writer in the forest.

What was the last item you cooked and ate?

Baked turkey for dinner guests. Turkey is the greatest thing to make for a lot of people…it goes a long way. I also am the greatest turkey cooker (link).

How many books did you read last year?

I….have no idea.  I have books all over the place. Some of the ones I have read are “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History” and “Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer” and “Without: Poems” and “The Selected Poems of Donald Hall” and “The Coral Island” and “Porcelain: A Memoir” and “Bossypants” and “The Royals” and “Fortune Smiles: Stories” and “Dear Mr. You” …

and a few others, but those I had directly in my Kindle library so they were easy to fetch off hand.


How many pairs of shoes do you currently own?

A couple. One pair of boots, one pair of hiking shoes, a few heels (that I don’t fit in anymore) and gold boots. And muck boots.
Which one fashion accessory do you like better than others?

Y’know, I really don’t know. I don’t really use a lot of accessories. They’re distracting.

Have you ever been horseback riding?

Yep. I love horseback riding. However, I don’t do it because it’s expensive and you only get to ride once. Unless you have your own horse…

Have you ever been water skiing?

Yes. I freaking hate water skiing.

What do you most like to do in the snow?

To stay in the car. Or make sculptures. I made a bust last time we were at the snow and I gotta admit, it was pretty stellar.

What is your favorite all-time movie?

The Philadelphia Story, with Kate Hepburn

Can you change a tire?

Yes. But make sure your jack is big enough and can actually lift the car entirely off the ground. Otherwise it WON’T WORK.  #experience

Is your room more clean or more messy?

The house is okay.  My room is okay, besides the laundry. But I just made some good progress on getting 85% of it folded and the kids put theirs away last night. Otherwise, I’d say it isn’t messy.


Do you prefer a bath or a shower?

Shower. You can’t wash this hair in a bath. I also don’t really like getting wet, so showers are just quicker, and we have sucky water pressure (well problems) so it takes for. ev. er. to fill the bathtub anyway.


Do you like drinking from the cup or a straw?

I kind of prefer a straw, because I have less of a chance of spilling anything/everything on myself if I use a straw.  I am a little very clumsy.


Do you like ice in your cold beverages?

Sure, but only a couple.


 What is your favorite sandwich?

Hands down: squaw bread, sprouts, provolone, thinly sliced tomatoes, spicy mustard, sliced turkey and avocado. But: celiac.


Where is the farthest you have ever traveled?

Beijing, China.  I would go back in a heartbeat.


Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win?

I notoriously win the body lotions at bridal showers or baby showers…and I can’t stand body lotions.  I don’t really like rubbing stuff all over my skin, it just feels gross.  I also have trouble smelling, so they just don’t do much for me.  However, I will win them most of the time. And then give them to someone who really likes them.


Have you ever been in a musical drama or play? If so, what was it?

Baby, I write the plays.


Do you know how to iron your clothes?

Kind of.


Can you sew a button on your clothing?

Buttons are easy. Pants are harder.


Have you ever cut your own hair?

I have been not cutting my own hair successfully for the past million years (as in, I just don’t get it cut. Just let it grow forever. It’s getting pretty long at this point).  I do trim my bangs by myself, against all good advice from serious hairstylists.




You made it!  Cheers!! 

Celiac Discussions: Let’s Talk About Beer.

As a Celiac American, there are many things I cannot eat.

Things which will make me very sick. Can’t breathe. Heart palpitations. Muscle tension. Flush cheeks. For 8 hours…

You know, the basics.

So things I avoid like death are:

Doughnuts. Pizza. Sandwiches. Scones. Crumpets. Eclaires. Toast.

You know, things that taste wonderful.

My journey into Celiac territory has always been interesting. Not only do I get to enjoy foods that are naturally gluten free, such as steak, sushi, ice cream and wine, but I also get to explore new ways of cooking in order to still enjoy recipes that traditionally use flour.

I’m lookin’ at you, gravy.


However, I have always enjoyed beer.

Whaaattt….beer?? But…beer is made from wheat, rye and barley?! You can’t drink beer.

What if I told you I have never had even the smallest reaction to beer.  Ever. Because beer is gluten free.


 mind. blown.



Here’s the deal: there is science to back this up.  I am going to be quoting many (many) places which have the results of what the question is, what it means, how it compares to other products…and then we can all continue to enjoy Irish Death in peaceful harmony.


Thank you.

1) What is gluten, and why do beer companies claim their products are gluten free, if they are using rye, wheat and barley? “There have been numerous claims that traditional barley-based beers are gluten free or that all beers are gluten free. Unfortunately, the area is very grey and substantiated on technicalities. The purpose of this post is to eliminate the confusion about gluten as it relates to beer.

Gluten is an umbrella term used to describe a mixture of individual proteins found in many grains. Celiac disease (celiac sprue or gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity) is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by the ingestion of some of these glutens.

People with classic celiac disease are intolerant to the gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and a couple other lesser known grains. All these grains have a relative of the gluten protein.

Interestingly, corn, rice and sorghum also have gluten proteins but are not toxic to celiacs.

Herein lies one of the fundamental problems; the use of the term gluten intolerance to cover only certain gluten containing grains is confusing for consumers and food manufacturers alike. Unfortunately, it seems that the inertia for using celiac disease and gluten intolerance as synonyms is unstoppable. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of both consumers and manufacturers to make sure the terms being discussed are defined and understood.

As this relates to beer, there is a gluten protein found in barley. This protein is known as hordein. Wheat gluten is known as gliadin. Rye gluten is known as secalin. Presently, assay tests (or lab tests) are only commercially available for the testing of gliadin. We are unaware of any tests for hordein or any manufacturer that presently tests for hordein (Note: If you know of anyone that does in fact test specifically for hordein, please let us know). Therefore the idea that a barley based beer can be considered gluten free based upon the lack of testing is very difficult to fathom. It should be understood that a company using an assay test for gliadin to test for hordein will not return accurate results.

There has been widespread speculation that the brewing process eliminates these hordein proteins making all beers gluten-free. Although commercial assay tests for hordein are not available there is conclusive evidence that the brewing process does not degrade hordein to non-toxic levels. A research study in Australia on improving beer haze shows that hordein is still present in beer after the brewing process ( Therefore, claims that hordein or gluten is destroyed in the brewing process is unsubstantiated and clearly, based upon the Australian research, is highly questionable.

Based upon the continuous claims by beer companies that beers are gluten free, it is clear that the issue is misunderstood and, as always, it is up to the consumer to educate them on the facts. Hopefully, the information provided here will give consumers and manufacturers alike the ability to discuss these gluten issues intelligently and effectively.”



2) So, why can people with Celiac have 20ppm of gluten, if gluten is technically a toxic entity in their bodies?

Gluten Free Dietician: “In 2007 Catassi and colleagues assessed the effects of consuming capsules containing 0, 10, and 50 milligrams of gluten on the intestinal morphology of persons with celiac disease who reportedly were compliant with a gluten-free diet (Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:160-166). During the study participants maintained a strict gluten-free diet  and were only allowed to consume specially marked gluten-free cereal foods containing less than 20 parts per million gluten. Gluten intake from the diet was estimated to be less than 5 milligrams. Researchers found a significant decrease in the villous height to crypt depth ratio in the group taking the 50 milligram capsule. No significant change was found in the vh/cd ratio in the group taking the 10 milligram capsule.”

So, we can have up to 20ppm of gluten in one serving of food before there are any adverse affects to our bodies.


3) How much is 20ppm, for those of us who are not science-inclined?

Gluten Free Dietician: “To break it down, 20 parts per million is the equivalent to 20ppm per kilogram of food. An average slice of gluten-free bread containing 20ppm of gluten (which is all of them- link to results) would contain 0.57 milligrams of gluten. Even if you ate ten ounces of foods containing 20ppm gluten, that would be just 5.70 mg of gluten. This level is just over half of the 10mg found by Catassi’s study to be a safe level so you would need to eat a whole lot of 20ppm food each day to surpass the “safe” level.

We must also consider that 20ppm is the highest level of gluten that foods can contain to be considered gluten free so most of the products you are eating will contain less than this amount.”


The Chameleon’s Tongue: “Fasano’s study tells us that 50mg of gluten per day damages the bowel of coeliacs, even though it doesn’t cause symptoms or show up in blood tests. That’s about as much gluten as 1/100th of a slice of standard wheat bread contains. A normal western diet contains 10–20g of gluten each day, which is 200–400 times the minimum amount of gluten that damages the small intestine of a coeliac patient. Fasano’s work also showed that there is a lot of variation between coeliac patients, and some experienced symptoms with as little as 10mg of gluten daily.”

My tolerance to gluten is definitely going down, the older I get and the longer I have been on a gluten free diet.  My tolerance level, at this point, is at about 20ppm, at which time I am in bed in pain.

So it is roughly the equivalent of 1 slice of Udi’s bread.


4) Get On With It!! So, how much gluten is in beer?



“My impression is that many beers (including craft, of course) have pretty darn low levels of gluten, say around 10-15 ppm. Many obviously have a lot more (stronger, fuller-bodied, wheat beer etc.).”


  • 10-15ppm of gluten is 0.01mg of gluten.
  • A 1oz slice of white bread contains about 3.5g of gluten.
  • 10-15ppm of gluten is equal to half of 1/100th of a piece of bread.



“You also have issues with how much a person can tolerate, under 20ppm is typically considered safe for someone with celiacs, however there are people who still react even at those low levels.”


This one was cool, you can actually test for gluten in the beer. Some had more than others, but most had <5ppm.

Then there was this:

Celiac Disease, Beer and Brewing
By Michael J. Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Brewing Science
Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis
“Some celiacs drink modest amounts of some beers without triggering overt symptoms of the disease and some beers do not register, and most barely register, on the scale of analysis currently used to measure gluten (personal communications). There is therefore good reason to examine the proscription of beer from the diet of celiacs. “
“Ordinary processes of beer manufacture completely eliminate native barley proteins from beer; some polypeptides survive the process. However, because prolamin-derived polypeptides (hordeins) cause haze problems in beers, brewers have a direct interest in removing them; processing to achieve a gluten-free status, therefore, is perfectly in line with brewers’ practices used to manufacture a haze-stable product. Celiacs and brewers have common cause.”
Two questions arise: Can brewers make a good argument for beers as being gluten-free? Or, in addition: Can brewers envisage reasonable processing practices that will make some beers (at least) gluten free? The answer to both questions is “Yes!”


“Thus there are many reasons why beer might be considered naturally gluten free and might justify the risk some celiacs take in consuming some beers, especially light beers. Also, as discussed, many strategies suggest themselves by which beer might be rendered gluten free. There is however one consideration, referred to earlier in this paper, that needs to be revisited here: all the arguments of why beer should be considered naturally gluten free or rendered gluten-free by process modification, depend absolutely and ultimately on one thing: brewers must be able to demonstrate without equivocation that they have succeeded in producing a gluten-free product. This can best be done if the nature of the offending peptide is known and reliable methods for measuring it are developed. (Currently an ELISA method linked to wheat gliadin is used (1); beers barely register on the scale of measures by this method). Therefore, the brewing industry might usefully join with the medical community in seeking a more exact definition of the peptide sequence that triggers the celiac reaction and help to develop methods to analyze it. Beyond such analysis is the potential for clinical trials to demonstrate directly whether or not beer can trigger the celiac auto-immune reaction. “

5) Finally, just be careful. No matter what science says.

Food Republic: “If you have a food allergy that isn’t life-threatening, try carefully fiddling with it like one lactard friend of mine does with aged cheese — cream cheese would bring her right down, but a little grated parmesan on her pasta is fine. Another friend who’s allergic to most fish discovered that salmon doesn’t affect him the way shrimp would, due to its lower iodine content. Now his hair is super shiny from all the salmon he’s been eating. You’re stuck this way for life, friends, and allergies have their quirks, so find a silver lining. Or in my case, a silver bullet or six.”


So there you have it folks.

Beer has the same amount of gluten, if not less, as the average gluten free product.

Which is why beer is gluten free, in the same manner that Udi’s Gluten Free Bread is gluten free.


I don’t always spend all day looking up scientific research,

but when I do,

it is so I can drink beer.

New Seasons! New Habits! New Routines!

I’m not even going to try to make this an interesting concept, I’m just going to be honest with you:

My dog is pooping outside.

giphy-1.gif                                                            Across the board excited.

Right now, at this very moment, at the brink of morning I am wearing my cement-gray slippers, Ben’s hoodie and a quilt my mom made (and pants, just to be thorough)…on my front porch.

It is a balmy 43F right now, but with no wind and a bright, patchy blue sky.

What would draw me outside at this hour, you might ask?

Well, ever since St.Sebastian got his casts off, we have been able to go outside to poop. See, I couldn’t take him outside when his casts were on because it was wet and rainy outside, and I didn’t want his casts to get wet. So, we tried to have designated places for him in the house…

This was a 25% success.

Because 25% of the time, he used the puppy pads we put out. The rest of the time we would find his spots, which was getting tiresome.

However, now that the casts are off…and it is not 27F outside and the ground is not frozen and I can go outside with a hoodie and pajama pants and not freeze solid…we are starting new routines! New habits!

New successes!!

Every morning for the past week I have taken St.Sebastian outside for about an hour. I have had my coffee, blanket, hoodie and laptop and read the news outside, watching little man explore the front yard and all its foresty smells.

I am just excited about this because the dog has to stop peeing in my kitchen at some point.

And now we are a normal dog family where I have to take him outside every so often, like a normal dog.

It’s just nice when things work out the way they are supposed to  🙂





The Cure For Introvert Hangovers: Making Soup


“Extroverts want us to have fun, because they assume we want what they want. And sometimes we do. But “fun” itself is a “bright” word, the kind of word that comes with flashing lights and an exclamation point! One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of “fun” is “violent or excited activity or argument.” The very word makes me want to sit in a dimly lit room with lots of pillows—by myself.”

-Laurie A. Helgoe, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength

It is undeniable that dog owners tend to have dogs which reflect themselves.

You have seen those comparison pictures, where the Winston Churchill doppleganger is sitting next to his English bulldog, sporting matching jowls. Or the svelte art gallery curator with the Afghan Hound companion. Dogs are delightful companions in life, and it only makes sense that we would seek out like minded individuals to accompany us. It would be absurd to introduce a Border Collie into your home if you are more on the homebody side; likewise, a person who enjoys hiking every weekend will find a corgi rather cumbersome on the trails.

Which is why I found a Pomeranian for my home.

Pomeranians are intelligent, playful, friendly, and wonderfully mischievous.  They are definitely more of an extrovert than any other dog I can think of, and require balanced and regular socialization.

They adore you, your family, your friends, your friends’ friends, your friends’ dogs, their friends, the cat, the UPS driver, the UPS driver’s friends and every person they meet when you go for a walk.

They are an active breed, but not too active. They would love nothing more than to go for long walks, run up the stairs, play fetch, run around the yard, hide behind trash cans or attempt to climb a tree.

For a few minutes.

And then they are done. And they need to recharge.

I completely understand the need to love everyone around me, sometimes a little too much (“You can stop hugging me Tamarah.” “BUT I LOVE YOU”.)

I completely understand when I have socialized quite enough, and need to recharge.

Last night I reached the banks of my socialization. I needed to spend time seeing people and being a social butterfly…but my Pomeranian energy limit peaked quicker than I expected.

There has been enough time spent trying to talk over deafening EDM soundtracks, underneath a rotating chandelier which swung gently next to the nefarious trapeze apparatuses (..?).

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-4-02-27-pmClick here for a video…you know you want to.

I had enjoyed moving from room to room and talking with people in Sales, Marketing, Engineering, and one 8 foot tall man who was the +1 of Stephanie (I think that was her name…). The night was filled with loud, flashing, dancing rooms…it was enormously fun for the extroverts who organized the event, and they did a fantastic job coordinating it all for us.

This morning, however, will be spent in bed. Under a very heavy blanket. In a quiet room. Eating soup.

I truly believe that every great introvert experiences truly great introvert hangovers.

An introvert hangover occurs after you have enjoyed catching up with friends, attending very loud parties, staying up far too late, and talking for longer than half an hour.

The deep and meaningful conversations counterbalanced the well-studied art of small talk; which has its place in conversation, despite the nay-sayers.

On one hand, there was a very good friend who I got to talk to for a long time, over sazeracs and fries, about her service dog training adventures (and some frustrating mis-adventures). This entire setting was completely worth getting dressed up and out of the house for.

On the other hand, through my journey of small talk, I found a farmer from North Carolina who grew up on vegetable farms! How often do you find farmers from North Carolina who grew up on a vegetable farm, in tech? I wouldn’t have known this without the power of small talk.

Other people I met were a couple who also met in high school, and are more than happily married. I also got to see some old friends and catch up with who is having babies, and who is moving to Oregon.

But after the night was over, and Ben and I got on the ferry to come home, my body let me know that it was done.

More than done.

I walked through the ferry terminal and made it onto the ferry. I fell asleep on a bench in the ferry. I got into our car and fell asleep on the way home. I plunged myself into bed and fell asleep under my big, squishy purple blanket. I continued to sleep well into the morning, and finally had my first cup of coffee at noon.

It has been a quiet day here. We have been reading, drinking water, eating some fruits to promise my body that I won’t subject it to sazerac and french fry dinners any more, and making soup.

I love the social adventures I find, and I especially love seeing friends and new friends.

For today, and for this weekend, though, I love recharging and being alone.








Homeschooling Mid-Year Planning: Language Arts


Homeschooling comes with its own varieties of idiosyncrasies and prejudices, just like any brand of education.

Public school varieties are positive we are teaching our kids in the basement wearing handmade Amish bonnets and feeding them conspiracy-laced bunker oatmeal while mentally depriving them of “actual education.” Homeschoolers are pretty certain we’re all 3 grades ahead in math, and our 2nd grader actually loves Chaucer (no one loves Chaucer), and our neighbor’s sister’s cousin’s kid taught himself Latin in Kindergarten. In the car.

3rd declension FTW!

I remember one time when I was in a homeschool coo-op meeting, and I told everyone I loved using textbooks.

*laughs maniacally*

Yeah, they nearly lynched me for that.

Textbooks omg that is so boring wouldn’t you prefer to teach your kids pre-algebra by cutting potatoes into quarters and saying it’s fractions?? Look, if you flip the potato over, it’s a reciprocal!

No, that’s not how math works.

Not on my watch.

We may be homeschoolers, but we go by the book. Because they aren’t going to give us snacks or do-overs during the SAT, and we’re not messing around over here.

However, you can make learning something you love…and something your kids will love.


I have a struggling reader. She hated reading, even though her mother has a degree in Literature and our entire house is surrounded by amazing books, and fought sitting through any stretch of reading exercise she was given.

Dyslexia isn’t an easy mountain to climb.

But this girl loves her some scary stories. If it’s gross, disgusting, creepy, disfigured, in the dark and named “BoogeyBoo,” she is all into it.

So when she found “Goosebumps” on Netflix, she nearly lost her mind.

And so did her little sister who couldn’t sleep for days after. We had to oust “Goosebumps” from the TV, just for the sake of some people’s mental well-being, and everyone agreed it was for the best.

One day, we were at the library. Lo and behold, an entire section of the library devoted to R.L. Stein’s “Goosebumps.” Have you ever seen a girl so excited in your life??

No. No you haven’t. Because she checked out her favorite stories, and read book after book until she was finished. She loved it. She loved reading. Oh sure, it wasn’t Chaucer or any of the Bronte sisters….but that’s because those books are other people’s favorite books. These were her favorite books.

Literature is a personal journey. The stories and characters speak to you, where you are. 

Sometimes you are 38 and love “The Turn of The Screw,” and sometimes you are 13 and love spooky stories about haunted ventriloquist dummies.

Reading can be in books, in magazines, in journals or articles…and sometimes it is hard to know where to find what you’re looking for!

Besides the library, here are 5 other places we use to find great material for reading!


1. ReadWorks


I love ReadWorks because there is a lot of very high quality material there, with options of subjects and grades. This morning I printed out a 24 page packet for 8th grade, and we are going to be studying mental and emotional health this week. We are covering comprehension, vocabulary, themes and bigger ideas. My 1st grader is studying articles about bugs 🙂


2. LiteracyTA

Okay, so I found this last year, and it has changed my life. Like, more than any other site…but it is kind of intense, and you have to navigate through it a bit. But once you get it figured out, there are entire lessons on writing you can use. Make a cup of tea and find a quiet corner in the house (that isn’t the bathroom) and get into this one. It will not disappoint.


3. Starfall

An oldie but a goodie, and always a favorite. Particularly for younger kids and beginning readers, you cannot go wrong with Starfall.


4. Reading Rainbow

A new favorite in our house! We have been subscribers to the Skybrary for over a year now, and it has been amazing. There are stories, games, and very easy navigation between worlds (see: genres) for older kids and younger kids.


5. Newslea

This is a great resource for kids to get involved with current events. Instead of letting your kids loose into the nefarious articles of CNN or The New York Times, Newslea is a much safer portal into the world. You can create personal logins for your kids, and have particular subjects listed, rather than just getting the full firehose of news blasted at you. Highly recommended.



A New Year, A New Page.


Last year was the year of letting things go.

Which is a BIG DEAL for me. I don’t just let things go.

I wrestle with them until they are shreds of scraps, and by then I have nothing left to wrestle with. So, I figure I’ll move on. I guess.

For instance, last year we finally got rid of old furniture we brought with us that fit in our home before just fine, but here they were large and cumbersome. Now, we have smaller furniture to fit in our smaller rooms, and we aren’t squeezing past dilapidated IKEA couches in order to get the laundry into the laundry room. Those days are OVAH!  We now have a charming gray loveseat with colored buttons, and it sits neatly *next to* the doorway, instead of covering the doorway.

IMG_4288.JPGLook at all this room for activities!!

Change. Change is good.

Last year I bootstrapped our homeschooling (again) and we have done everything that I wanted to do. We are creating, writing, studying cell biology, learning about world history, figuring out state history (which is nuts), and we are organized… we are on a darn-near military agenda…I say laughingly, since the military might also make their beds every morning. And not march in pajamas. And the marines probably finish their work quickly and don’t lose all their pencils by the end of the week….okay, okay. Maybe not “military grade” agenda, but it’s still an awesome agenda we have working!

I have started painting again, which I really didn’t think I’d get into any more…even though I think about it all the time. But at this point of my life I’m not nursing anymore, I’m not pregnant, I am officially out of toddler season since my youngest just turned 5, what, and things are pretty solid. So, I’ve painted a few things…and I love it just as much as I remember:

However, the word is my passion…and I am happy to report that I am over halfway finished with my second book of poetry.

And I am planning on finishing it and submitting it to publication and all that mess sooner rather than later.

This year I already have a load of plans and projects on our calendar.

The boys are building like crazypeople. They built some moving crane the size of a coffee table last month, are always putting together stop-motion videos, and have rearranged their bedroom and removed doors from their closet in order to fully utilize the space so they can have a better and more efficient work environment.

Just sayin’: they don’t get that from me.

The girls, on the other hand, are a beautiful chaos of creating, sewing, painting, drawing, ripping up, recreating and storytelling.

That’s from me 😉

IMG_4289.JPGI might actually need to clean my desk.

So what are we going to do this year?

Well, we have to wait until TOMORROW  to watch the Rose Parade, because they don’t do it on Sunday. I remember having this dilemma 7 years ago…


A little of the foundational…exploring, inventing, discovering.

And a little of the new…we’ll see!