The Misadventures of Cheri

Mortifying my kids one swimsuit at a time

All my life II {and giveaway!}

Apparently, thinking a rabbit is on meth is hilarious.

Here’s entry #2 in my hall of shame.  This shame is so bad because at least once a year my dad reminds me, “Hey!  Remember when you used to think . . . . . .?”  Yes, Dad.  How could I ever forget.

When I was a kid back in the late 70’s McDonald’s sold the Arctic Orange milkshake.  Such levels of pleasure this shake provided, I cannot describe.  During that time McDonald’s had a commercial for the milkshake.  It showed Eskimos in fur parkas picking oranges off of trees that were growing in the snow.  The snow was blowing, there were icicles dripping off of the oranges and the Eskimos were smiling so happily.

I’m sure some of you can see where this is going.

I was convinced that this was a true representation of  how McDonald’s got their oranges for the milkshakes.  I honestly thought that there were special trees that grew special roots under the ice and, yes, that oranges could grow in Alaska.  You see, at this time I lived in Idaho.  I had been born in Alaska, but left for 7 years when I was 4.  So if I had ever seen an orange tree growing in Alaska, I didn’t remember it.  I also didn’t exactly remember that there weren’t any miraculous orange trees up there.

As if this mess up in thinking isn’t bad enough, I thought arctic orange trees were possible for a long time.  A disturbingly long time.   In fact, when I finally brought this thought pattern to my parent’s attention, I was in high school.  *sigh*  And even worse?   We had been back in Alaska for 4 or 5 years.  And although I’d never seen the elusive arctic orange tree, I still thought they existed.

{That last bit was a little hard to type.}

One night my family and I were reminiscing and I said, “Remember that McDonald’s arctic orange milkshake commercial?  Where do they grow those things anyway?”

My mouth has never been my best friend.

My parent’s and brother’s explosive laughter was enough for me to know I had been duped.  Duped by my own mind.  Still I was incredulous (read: dumb).  “You mean they don’t exist?  But they must . . . somewhere?”  My dad asked me how I thought they could grow.  I told him my theory about the special roots.

At that point the laughter just got louder . . . . the snorts, the coughs, the tears.  All tattooed on my brain for eternity.

I have searched high and low, as well as my hubby, and we canNOT find a clip of the commercial anywhere. If anyone can find the commercial on the web and send it to me, you get a $5 McDonald’s gift card.  That should cover the cost of an order of fries, right?


All my life

All my life I have thought/believed some pretty ridiculous things.  So I’m going to start a little series on some of the dumbest things I’ve thought.

The first has to do with Alice in Wonderland.  Riveting  and important stuff, eh?  I never really “got” the original movie, but just like every young kid, I had seen it numerous times.  Here is where the confusion begins.  I always, always, always thought that the white rabbit at the beginning of the movie was the SAME rabbit at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.  I know, I know, the white rabbit invades the tea party.  I guess I never paid that close of attention to it.

Now in retrospect, why I thought this guy . . . . . .

. . . .was also this guy . . . . .

. . . . is truly beyond me.  But it never mattered because I didn’t care so much about the movie.  I figured it was just one more thing about the strange movie that I didn’t get.

Fastforward to this past weekend.  My husband rented the Tim Burton version of “Alice in Wonderland.”  At the tea party scene in this movie, I finally decided to voice my confusion.  Because this guy . . . . .

. . . . in no way, shape or form resembles this guy . . . . .

Frustrated with not understanding it was two different rabbits for the entirety of my life, I blurted out, “What happened to that stupid rabbit?  Did he discover meth since he led Alice down the hole?”

My family: What are you talking about?

Me: He looks nothing like he did at the beginning.  Now he looks like a tweaker.

My family: {insert uproarious laughter here . . . . so uproarious that I can barely hear them explaining it to me}  Mom!! Cheri!! Are you kidding?  It’s not the same rabbit? { Hoo hoo ha ha hee hee, mom’s an idiot, bwahaha hee hee}.

Me: It’s not the same rabbit?  Is this some kind of joke?  I’ve though that my whole life.  No wonder I thought this movie was so stupid.

My family:  {The ha ha hee hee knee slapping fit still going strong}  Meth?  Who thinks of meth at a time like this? A rabbit on meth {ha ha hee – you get the picture}!!!!

So there you have it.  I will never, ever again confuse the two.

And I still think the second rabbit in the Burton version had a nasty addiction.  They were able to cover all his meth spots with CGI.


What I don’t need

First off, I’m barely tolerating the creature that has attached itself to my back.

Secondly, I know I’m  not supposed to be laying on this blanket.  You think I don’t know?  You think you haven’t nagged me for the last year?  Get a clue, woman.  If I want to lay on it, I’m going to lay on it.

I don’t need your silly attempts at a guilt trip.

I don’t need you saying, “bad dog,” “get off of there,” or any of your usual attempts to boss me around.

I don’t need you interrupting my nap.

Don’t you have kids you should be homeschooling?  Doesn’t their education rank higher on your list of priorities than my laying on a blanket?

And I so. don’t. need your drama.  I have enough of my own.

Some may find interest in your drama, but I do not.

I don’t need your attempts to control me.

What I do need is for you to back away.

If you back away slowly and pretend you didn’t see me, no one gets hurt.

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Winners announced!

The winner of Heidi St. John’s “The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance” is BethelHome.

The winner of Todd Wilson’s “Lies Homeschool Moms Believe” is Rachel Roland.

I’ve contacted both of the winners via e-mail, but you might want to check your spam folder.  I titled the e-mails, “You Won.” Pretty much assured them a one way ticket to Spamville.  I couldn’t come up with anything more official sounding.  I just finished my first week of homeschool and it kicked my rear!!

Thanks to everyone for participating in the giveaway!  Between the first week of school and working on my blog this week I feel like I’ve been eaten by a homeschool monster.  Tomorrow’s soccer game (his first – squee!) and tennis lesson (her first – squee again!) will get me out of the teacher mode.

Have a great weekend!!

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Your burning homeschool questions answered

You guys can ask some questions!!!  Let me give you a couple of disclaimers.  First, my answers are based almost solely on my experience with my two kids. Certainly they are not like every other kid in the world.

Secondly, you may notice that I don’t talk much about my daughter.  Mostly because she is the easiest child in the world.  She was born that way and it is in no way due to my parenting skillz.  She is an amazing young lady and I really haven’t had any school challenges from her.  I think the most grief she’s ever given me is complaining about not liking school.

Sherry asks My son has ADD tendencies. What have you found is most helpful for your son in terms of schooling to help him stay on task? Two things – breaks to let him run around and finding curriculum that didn’t have a lot of busy work -i.e. worksheets, too much repetitive review.  Sonlight, Math-U-See and Switched on Schoolhouse helped immensely with his short attention span.

Amy and Jennifer ask:  My question is where and how do homeschool moms get their “curriculum”? There are a number of ways.  If you have a local homeschool supply store, you can look at things there.  You can go to a homeschool conference, but beware, they can be completely overwhleming!!  So can just searching online.  If I had to do it all over again, I would start with Sonlight and Math-U-See and stay with both of those for PreK-8th grade. I personally think a literature approach to education is one of the most beneficial ways to learn.  We’re switching Austin to more textbooks this year (9th grade) because it’s what he’ll be doing in college.

Amy also adds: . .  as she gets older, I am scared of not teaching her all she needs to know. Welcome to the homeschool mom club, Amy!  We all worry about that at first.  If you make sure you have age/grade appropriate materials for reading, writing and math (and throw in history to make me happy) you’ll be just fine.  I live in Washington state and starting at age 8, state law requires yearly standardized testing.  Getting those results back will show you if your child is progressing.   But truly for me the heart of homeschooling is simply teaching my children how to learn.  If they know that, they can pretty much figure out anything.

From Amy Sue: What has been the hardest subject you’ve taught? Math.  Oh dreaded math.  My brain is set up for reading, writing, creating . . . not math!!  When the math got harder (6th grade and up) I found it very hard to explain things.  Math-U-See was a godsend because each level has its own instruction dvd so the kids learn from that.  Austin is now doing Algebra I and we switched to Teaching Textbooks because it got such rave reviews from many friends.  So far, it’s wonderful!  And they do all the instruction on cd’s.

From LaVonne: Do you ever worry that you won’t be doing enough for them? Again, welcome to the homeschool mom club!  I used to, but not anymore.  They’re very involved in things outside of the house – church, sports; they’ve taken violin lessons, choir, all sorts of things.  But by far the greatest thing we’ve done recently is belonging to a co-op.  Our co-op is part of a larger organization that has co-ops all over the country.  Check out First Class Homeschool Ministries.  They rock!

Rachel had two questions: 1) How much time do you spend daily teaching/instructing? This varies by age.  I would say 1st – 3rd grade, you usually spend a lot of one-on-one time teaching.   But when they’re that young, it’s maybe two hours a day.  I like to say, “If you’re spending more than an hour teaching your kindergartner, you might want to re-assess the situation.”  Now that the kids are older, school usually takes about 3 -4 hours.  But my role has changed.  I basically write down what they need to do, correct it and go over it with them.

2) How much have you lost your patience? One time I called a veteran homeschooler and asked her if there was a book about being patient and homeschooling – lol.  I thought she was going to say, “Uh, it’s called ‘the Bible.'” But she didn’t.  I’m not the world’s most patient person so I have lost it more than once.

Valerie asks: Do you have family support? and if you do … how do you use that to your benefit? As far as family support, I have tons of it.  My husband, all the grandparents and aunts and uncles have been very supportive from day 1.  Some of my older, extended family members have made snarky comments here and there but I  honestly could not care less.  I hardly ever see them . . . and I’m not living to please them anyway.  It doesn’t hurt my feelings, I just inwardly roll my eyes and realize they’re as set in their ways as I am in mine.  As far as using it to my benefit, I’m not sure what that means.  There have been times my husband has stepped in and helped . . . when the kids weren’t being as attentive as they could have been, when I just can’t explain a certain math concept.

Christie and Kristi from Facebook ask: What about time for yourself, away from kids? When I first started homeschooling, there was a group of us at church who were homeschooling and we all had kids around the same age.  We made sure all the others were having “time off.”  My husband was always eager to let me have a little getaway time here and there.  I know one thing that helped was that we do. not. do year round school.  I know a lot of homeschoolers who do and I just can’t.  I take full advantage of the summers.  Huge amounts of laziness abound.  I was very honest with my husband and what I needed.  I don’t think there’s a husband out there who can just “know” that their wife is at the end of their rope.  We have to tell them!!    I was almost always involved at church, Bible study, and I had hobbies that took me out of the house.

Christie also adds: And what do you do as far as band, team sports, clubs, prom, etc? For team sports, the kids just play in local, private leagues.  Austin has done soccer, basketball, karate and track over the years.  Amber isn’t in to sports, so she’s taken dance lessons and will be starting tennis this weekend.  Band . . . neither of my kids ever had a desire to play in a band.  They did take violin for three years in an orchestra class.  My son has also taken guitar lessons.  Prom . . . well, the homeschool co-op we go to have teen formals twice a school year.  Prom problem solved.  Usually if you can find a local homeschool group, you’ll find moms who have a pulse on all things extra-curricular related.

From Our Nifty NotebookI want to know HOW you get your kids to do their work? Hmmmmmm . . . I’ve not had too many problems with this one.  It just is not an option for them to not finish what they are assigned in a day.  If they have to sit at the table until 7 pm, then they have to sit there until it’s done.  Once I established this “zero tolerance” policy early on, they really haven’t fought me over the years.  The early elementary school years were the worst for trying to get out of schoolwork.  They got pretty sick of losing out on life because they didn’t want to do their work.  Do they complain? I’m about to fall out of my seat laughing on this one.  I apologize.  Of course they complain.  Usually on a daily basis.  I generally ignore them or just laugh.  Life’s hard!

Alecia writes: My daughter has shut down and refuses to do any sort of what she thinks is school work at this point, will this pass, will she enjoy to learn again? First of all, she might need a break.  Or her load might need to be lightened for a bit.  Readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic might have to suffice for awhile.  That’s what I’d do . . . take out all the other stuff for a period of time.  As far as will she enjoy to learn again, I don’t know.  Neither one of my kids are what I’d call  lovers of school.  I’ve tried everything I can think of to get them to enjoy it and they just don’t.  They’d rather be outside.

From Amy E.:  How did you deal with your doubts? Not very well at first.  But once I was around enough homeschoolers and their kids, I saw the wonderful results.  Also the yearly, standardized testing our state requires is a good gauge as well.  One thing that Todd Wilson says in the book I’m giving away is that (and I’m paraphrasing) you can’t do anything to keep your child from God’s intended purpose for their life.  Anytime I start to freak out  – like about an hour ago – I say this to myself over and over and over.  My goal for homeschooling has never been to spit out geniuses who are the smartest at everything by the time they graduate from high school.  My focus has always been on my kids’ relationship with Christ, their character and passing on our faith.

And, finally, from Kirsten:  When homeschooling, how can one be sure their child is receiving enough social interaction from others their age? For us, the amount of interaction the kids got at church, in the neighborhood and with my friend’s kids was enough.  I still feel the same way as they have branched out with more activity at church, been involved in sports and  though our co-op.  How does one even gauge when it is enough? This is how I keep a pulse on it:  If my kids can interact in healthy, socially appropriate ways with the public in general, then we’re good.  If they can look an adult in the eye and at least respond with a “thank you” or answer a question, then all is well.   My daughter was painfully shy as a child.  I knew she was okay socially because even though she was shy, she could maintain healthy friendships.  If at any point I thought my children were “peer dependent” I would have cut back on some of their social activities.  Dr. Ray Moore has a really great book, Home Grown Kids, that deals with many of these types of issues.  I would recommend it for anyone to read.

And . . . . we’re done!!  You still have a little less than two hours to enter my giveaway HERE.   I will count all entries received by 2 pm Pacific time today!

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You ladies (okay, I’m just assuming you’re all ladies) are keeping me BUSY answering homeschool questions.  Tomorrow’s blog is going to be a doozy.  And because of that, I have nothing to write today.  Instead I’ll post a link.

The Pioneer Woman – don’t we all just lurve her – has a homeschooling section on her website.  Today’s post is by “Oh My Stinkin’ Heck” and is called Erasing the Fear of Homeschooling.

Enjoy!!  I’m typing feverishly for tomorrow . . . . . and there’s still time to enter the giveaways.

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As promised, the lowlights

As promised in my giveaway blog (enter until 9/10/10, 2pm Pacific), I give you a list of various lowlights from our homeschool journey.  Far be it from me to lead you to believe that everything is just hunky dory every single day.  So I’ll look through some old photos and see what I can remember . . . .


When Austin was in the 4th grade, I had the worst year ever with him.  Why?  Let’s review for a moment: he has a will of steel, he thinks things need to be done his way at all times, he hates school, his sister irritated him, life irritated him, being irritated irritated him.  So I marched myself down to our neighborhood school and asked for a boundary exemption for the next school year because our neighborhood elementary school stinks.  That summer we did a thing we called “Remedial Attitude Training” and he was wonderful by the next school year.  And the school I was trying to get him into called two days before public school started and told me they didn’t have any room for him.  Two. days.


After Austin finished the second grade I was at my wit’s end, or so I thought.  So I actually got a bunch of information and the enrollment packet for a small Christian school.  Then I bawled and realized that he really needed to be home.  Then I bawled and realized he would be home.


Nothing makes a homeschool mom feel as terrific as when you get your kids’ yearly tests back and, after looking at the scores, wonder if one of your students was even awake during the testing.  Then you remember giving the tests and the child saying things like, “Ah, who cares?  I’ll just pick one to mark.”  Then laughing wildly.  You also remember this child doing this over and over again.  At that point, you cry and tell God that this is His homeschool (read: why did you do this to me?) and He’s going to have to take over (read: this is your mess, not mine!).  You then ask God to strengthen you for the next year (read: I’m pretty sure one of us will be dead by next Christmas).


If I had a dime for every time the stupid dogs interrupted school, I’d be rich. For some reason, the two we have now think anytime all three of us are in the homeschool room (aka: the dining room, aka: the room that homeschool ate) they lose their ever lovin’ minds and hold daily, no hourly, death cage wrestling matches.  I have scared the kids by abruptly yelling out, “SHUT UP AND GET OUT OF HERE . . . .SOME DAYS I HATE YOU BOTH SO. MUCH!”  I also silently pray all our windows are closed because what would the neighbors think if they heard that?  They all know I homeschool.


I haven’t had an easy homeschool journey.  No one who homeschools has an easy journey.  The early years were particularly rough and the dread I would feel about a week before school stared was almost unbearable.  I dreaded the daily challenges to my authority.  I dreaded the inevitable crying child I’ll have to deal with on a daily basis.  Explaining for the 5,000th time that anything multiplied by zero equals zero.


At one point in time, one child’s 2nd grade attitude was so bad that I video taped that child so Dad could see just what went on.  It took this child exactly 7 seconds from the start of the day to burst into tears and scream.  And cry.  And scream.  And wail.  And cry.  And yell at me.  When I showed it to Dad that night, with said child sitting down with us, there was a “come to Jesus” moment for said child.  Attitudes did improve and the wailing/screaming sessions were over.


Austin was highly easily distracted in the early days.  I finally had to get three pennies out, put them on a piece of paper with a black line drawn down the middle.  Every time I said, “Do your work!”  one penny got moved over the black line.  If all three pennies ended up on the wrong side of the line, he had to go sit on his bed for 15 minutes and do nothing.  Since he was very hyper and extremely social, this discipline was almost unbearable for him.  I only had to do it with him 2 or 3 times (complete with 15 minute wailing sessions when he was on his bed) and he got the point.

Yes, it’s been an interesting journey, but a worthwhile one.  Now that the kids are older, I don’t have anywhere close to the issues/challenges I used to.  The last two years have been so wonderful that I have to pinch myself.


Homeschool Year 10, Day 1

8:46 am – Amber to Austin – “You have one hair sticking up. Ha ha ha ha.”

8:47 am – Me:  “It’s called ‘bed head’.”

8:47:44 am – Austin: “At least I don’t have bed face.”

8:47:46 am – Austin with a look of panic: “I was talking to Amber, Mom, not you.”

8:52 am – Amber: “You know, I always pictured this day as me being by myself.”

8:52:01 am – Austin: “You mean you wish I was dead??!!?!”

8:53 am – Amber after a long, dramatic pause: “No, just remember how you said you were always going to go to public high school?”

8:54 am – Austin: “Whatever.”

9:46 am – Austin: “I think I learn more from t.v. in the summer than I do from school.”  (This was done to get a reaction out of me.  I just kept on walking towards the garage.)

10:32 am – Austin, “Yay!  Only 6 days until Halo: Reach.”

4:44 pm – I realize I forgot to take a picture of them on their first day.

Overall it was a great day . . . good attitudes on the outside (who knows what was going on on the inside), nice and quiet house (things get cray-zay here in the summer), a trip to a homeschool store for a couple of things I overlooked, dinner simmering on the stove.  A great day.

**Don’t forget to enter my giveaway x 2 here. Great questions so far!  I’ll be answering them on Friday.**

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10 Year Homeschool Anniversary {and giveaway x 2!}

**This giveaway is officially over!!**

Why homeschooling worked for us:

September 7, 2010.  Not only will I be homeschooling a high schooler for the first time ever, it will also be the 10 year anniversary of my homeschool journey.  It doesn’t even seem real.  I’m going to post this week on memories I’ve had, highlights, lowlights (and, oh, there have been lowlights), and things I’ve learned over this joyful journey.

Today’s post will be the answer to a question.  The question all homeschoolers invariably get, “Why did you decide to homeschool?”  I don’t just have one reason.  I didn’t feel God was pounding me over the head to homeschool.  In fact, I struggled with the decision for quite some time.  But in the end, I know we made the best choice for our family.

So, here are my reasons . . .not necessarily in the order of importance.

  1. Austin simply wasn’t built for school.  He was, for lack of a better term, a very hyper child.  Hyper-hyper if you will.  I knew the second he stepped into any sort of traditional school he’d be labeled ADD at best and a bad kid at worst.  I also knew he was neither of those things.  He could concentrate when he wanted to – on board games, on drawing, on anything that he liked.  I didn’t want to waste my time fighting with any school over his God created uniqueness.
  2. My hubby was in the early stages of his law enforcement career which meant no weekends off.  And he was working swing shift at the time, so Austin would have only seen him a couple evenings and a couple of mornings a week.  The thought of that was not exciting to me.
  3. Our neighborhood school stunk.
  4. We couldn’t afford private school (I went to Christian school and, shhhhhhhh, I don’t think it’s always all it’s cracked up to be).
  5. I knew #3 and #4 weren’t viable options for him anyway because of #1.

I remember before I had Austin, I always knew I wanted to homeschool.  Then I had him.  He did a number on me.  By the time he was three I knew there was no way he and I would survive homeschooling together.  And then God moved us to Eagle River, Alaska, just 1/2 mile away from an old friend of mine.  Who just happened to be successfully homeschooling her daughter and eager to do the same with her son.

I told her everything you hear, “I couldn’t do it . . .I don’t have the patience . . . I’ll end up seriously injuring him.”  She told me that the child he was at 3 wasn’t the child he was going to be at 5.  She told me to just keep an open mind.  Thank God that He plopped us down where he did.  I do remember a couple of years into my homeschool journey calling her and asking if there were any books about how to be more patient when you homeschool.  Bless her heart for not laughing in my face.

I’ll pick up tomorrow, but for now I know you’re dying to know about the giveaway.  I will pick two random winners who leave comments on this post and this post only.  The first giveaway is “The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance,” by Heidi St. John, whom I am blessed to call my friend.

And I just have to include another picture of Heidi . . . it’s my favorite.

The second giveaway is, “Lies Homeschool Moms Believe,” by Todd Wilson.  He’s not my friend, but I love the book and it helped me in so many ways.

To enter the giveaway ask me anything you’ve ever wanted to ask about homeschooling. I’ll answer any and ever question in a blog later this week.  If you don’t have any questions to ask, just leave a comment and you’ll be entered as well.  The deadline for entering is Friday, September 10 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time.

Good luck and get to askin’ those questions.


This is why I have to try to hate her

Because if I don’t, I will be blown away on a daily, if not hourly, basis by her cuteness.

And I’d have to sit down.

And I’d never get anything accomplished.

Not even posting a cute picture of her.

I was looking for another picture when I stumbled across this one.

I’m done for the day.  That’s all she wrote.  Hasta la vista, baby.

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