Thursday, January 24, 2013

Handy tips on not being a PAIN in the homeschool group

There are a couple of posts I have written in my mind, but it was never the right time to post them. This is one of them. I have served on my local homeschool board for three school seasons. I retired at the end of December 2012. We are asked to serve for one year, but our board had a genuine friendship among us and we all agreed to work together for another year. I served out another five months of the third year to finalize some remaining legal work. I feel like I came skidding to a halt after so much hard work. The Lord wrang me out. Now, that's not a bad thing. I was honored (and at first puzzled) why I would be asked to serve here. I promise you I don't have one thing to contribute. Seriously Lord, what were you thinking? But my purpose unfolded shortly after the first board meeting. All my years of working in the legal field suddenly had serious and personal meaning. I worked with attorneys and an accountant and we changed the legal structure of our homeschool group and applied to be a charity. No one noticed any change. That's good! It was a seamless and important change that took place in the background. I celebrated privately with the Lord when we got our paper in from the government saying we were now a public charity.

All of that was a piece of cake compared to what I am about to tell you. The hardest thing in serving in a homeschool group is dealing with the parents. The greatest thing in serving in a homeschool group is dealing with the parents. Homeschoolers are a different breed. They are independent, stubborn and a little outside the box. All GREAT things until you are in leadership and have to deal with them. Can I give you a few pointers so that you don't become "that person" in the homeschool group? WARNING - this is pretty rough. After three years, I have a lot of material.

-Pray for the leadership. Lordy, these people are tired. They have their own families and their own sets of problems. They are also trying to educate their children and make it to soccer practice on time.

-Don't talk badly about the leadership. If you don't agree with a decision they made, it is probably because you don't have all the facts smarty pants. They have sought the Lord on this decision. If you have a problem, you need to seek the Lord before you go forward with any complaints. And then if you still feel led to complain, you haven't heard from the Lord. *smirk*

-Send a letter of encouragement to your leadership. They will be over the moon. You cannot know how special it is to get such a letter without a smidge of complaint. (Zuzu's petals... I just had to say that.)

-If you can't make it to an event, PLEASE don't tell us all the reasons why it won't work with your schedule. We have 1,000 children and 400 families schedules to deal with. YOU are not the only person in the group.

-Volunteer for stuff. Volunteer early. Seriously, the leadership does the lion's share of the work. These people need help. Until you are in leadership yourself, you have no idea of the flurry of activity that goes on behind the scenes.

-If you volunteer to do something, for heavens sake, DO IT. Don't come up with excuses or fail to show up. We are counting on you. Giving a little of your time takes a great burden off of the leadership who do 99.99% of the work.

-Be part of the solution. If there is a problem, don't send an e-mail to the group or leadership complaining. Send a private letter to the leadership offering a solution that YOU are willing to be a part of. They may or may not take you up on it. If you aren't willing to help, keep your flapping mouth closed. The leadership works in the background to solve problems. Chances are it has already been spotted and solved before you even typed out your angry e-mail. Now they have to deal with responding to you. Great.

-Don't paint yourself as the savior of the homeschool community. You, dear friend, do not know everything. Not everyone does homeschooling the same way. Your solutions and curriculum choices may work for you, but may be a disaster for others. SO WHAT if you have had 28 years of homeschool experience. You too can learn from others.

-If someone responds to an e-mail you post seeking advice or help, THANK THEM. They took time out of their very busy day to attend to you. Take a few seconds to thank them. Now, that didn't hurt did it? (that is a pet peeve of mine because I fail on this one too).

-Do not forward a note to the group before you verify that it is truthful. Seriously folks, it takes 2.3 seconds to double check that e-mail that warns everyone that the boogie man will attack you if you go to Kroger parking lot and flash your lights. I do not care that it was sent to you by your pastor or your neighbor who got it from the police chief. These people are human. Check it before you hit send. Eroded credibility (of you and the group) is hard to get back. Huge pet peeve of mine. My homeschool group friends are giggling.

-Do not post 54 notes regarding your concern about immunizations or some other "interesting" thing. Send out one (uno). If someone is interested, they will contact you and you can have a private conversation about it. Just because you are concerned about it doesn't mean everyone else is (or will ever be). Sending out 54 notes makes people grit their teeth and hit delete. Don't be a pest.

-Do not avoid the leadership in public. I was warned by a previous board member that it would happen. When it did, I was flabbergasted. Dudes. We are slobbing through homeschool just like you. We probably just yelled at our kids in the car. We are not going to the board and reporting about that bottle of wine in your grocery cart. We don't care. Give us a hug. Come say "hi" when you see us in a restaurant.

OK - that is the end of my rant. Follow these guidelines, and you will become the favorite in the homeschool group. You might even be nominated to serve in leadership. Ha!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Even more boring Formal talk...

OK, so on we go with the Formal planning. My husband took a look at my plans for building a 14 foot Eiffel Tower and told me it would just be cheaper to spring for the realistic looking 12 foot cardboard one that costs $200. I gulped and then placed the order. Hopefully it doesn't look like a stinking pile. You know how things never look like they do on the internet. Crossing my fingers.

Well, I've sunk myself into building a fountain made out of an old turtle sand box and some plastic containers from the dollar store. I watched too much McGyver growing up. I mean, really, who looks at a turtle sandbox and says to themselves "that could totally be a fountain." I'm crazy enough to think we may actually pull it off though. A very sweet homeschool mom volunteered herself to help me with the project. She describes herself as "crafty" and she didn't blink when I told her we could do it. She's a keeper!

We found a wonderful dance teacher to teach our kids some cool (and clean) moves. She's a Christian, young and a former Disney dancer. I love how the Lord works out the details.

We are borrowing lots of props. We got a bunch of trees from a local church who was going to throw them away. They are in good shape and perfect for us. Other people are letting us borrow various pieces of furniture. Don't invite me over between now and March, because I'll probably take something from your house for the formal. I still am looking for some street lamps. No luck so far. But I did notice one in a yard down the street...

LiedertafeltHallWe got a rocking location. Again, totally a God thing. Liedertafel Hall is the perfect location for this event. The price was fabulous. You should have seen some of the dumps people in Houston were trying to rent for serious money. This place is an octagon building recently built to resemble an old German dance hall. The ceiling comes to a point with large beams going up. It reminds me of being in a huge tent.

I found this awesome laser light show that you can rent for a few days. It projects the night sky with moving stars and a blue cloud on the ceiling. It looks soooo cool.

I probably need to stop looking on the internet. Every time I do, I find another cool idea.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fat, cross-eyed bunnies that are teapots must come home with me

Bunnies make me happy. (That is, bunnies that aren't eating my garden.) However, when I saw this guy in an antique shop, he made me laugh. He is so fat and cross-eyed, he had to come home with me. I bargained a bit with the proprietor who was happy to give me a discount. The fact that this bunny is a teapot, is even more appealing! He is holding his foot which makes the handle. How such a fat bunny was able to perform such an acrobatic feat is unknown. He makes me smile every time I pass him in the dining room. He is a wonderful addition to my Easter collection!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My dear son told me a few months back that he would like to attend a dance before he graduated. It surprised me because I didn't think he cared about such things. We looked around at some local homeschool dances and were disappointed with various aspects of them. So, what did this mom do? Why, she decided to throw her own formal for our local homeschool group. Yes, I have rocks for brains. We are in the midst of the planning and I have to keep focus on why we are doing this so I don't run screaming for the hills. It is a LOT of work and we need a lot of help.

Our theme is "Paris Under the Stars". Because we have a tiny decorating budget, I had to get creative. We will need to borrow or build most of the decorations. I am going to try and build the Eiffel Tower. I can't find any decent instructions on how to build a 14 foot Eiffel Tower online, so I'm going to wing it. It involves velcro strips, foam core board and begging for the poster printer access at my husband's engineering firm. I'm excited about the challenge and my head is spinning with plans. I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do with the tower once the formal is over. Any takers?

My other ideas are to just use a borrowed park bench with a bunch of borrowed fake trees covered in white lights for the "park". Another area will be a flower market complete with pails of fake flowers. The last area will be a French cafe. All with borrowed or made items. Will we pull this off? Time will tell.
Dawn Power CleanI've been dabbling in making my own cleaning products lately. Dawn is the base for a lot of those products. Recently, I spied and tried Dawn Power Clean for those pots I clean by hand. Wow! That stuff is awesome! It is one of those rare products that lives up to its claims. It really does give you the power of an overnight soak in five minutes. I'm also trying it out in my dishwasher detergent formula and will report back on that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fall Garden Adventures or The Night Creature

I am in an epic battle to save my garden from a ravenous night creature. He is particularly fond of my broccoli. I am not particularly fond of him! My garlic pepper spray could only save my garden for a short while. He was not impressed with my humane trap. Lights on all night didn't deter him. I think it is an opossum but my husband thinks it is a rabbit. He may be right. It must be a whopper of a rabbit. I have a very tall broccoli plant that was decimated overnight. He had to stand on his hind legs to reach the head. As a last ditch effort, I tried mothballs sprinkled around my garden. SUCCESS! He hasn't hit since. My backyard stinks, but at least I might get a shot at actually tasting my broccoli this year.

AFTER - one night's work Argggggg!

beauty in the veggie patch

Sweet Millions is my favorite tomato plant! 

Heirloom - sadly it froze before I could get a crop

Louisiana Satsuma crop 2013 - Crazy!

sharing our bounty of Louisiana satsumas

carrots are doing well... before the creature struck!

view of our Cypress tree in fall

carpet of beautiful and fragrant cypress leaves in the fall

Excited about this crop of "cheesy cauliflower"! Beautiful!

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas! I decided to do something a little different with my tree this year. I wired my Christmas village houses into my tree. I made a road up the front of my tree with some burlap ribbon. My usually all-white tree got a shot of color this year with this "winter village" theme. I love it!

Closeup of the houses wired into my tree
Christmas cookies - the sleigh is a favorite!

cookies bagged and ready for giving

tea table read for guest 
The last of the Twinkies. They went very quickly. 
This year we enjoyed an after-Christmas tea with friends. I had one last box of Twinkies which were a big hit. Not a one was left! I got to use my teacup collection this year interspersed with my regular teacups. It made for a colorful table as you can see. The rest of the menu was scones, cranberry nut loaf and lemon poppy seed cake. Grapes and strawberries were delicious with the baked goods. As usual, Christmas crackers added a nice "pop" to the festivities. I also had some gingerbread house cookies for the kids to decorate in the kitchen. It gives them a little something to do when they are not eating or playing. For the first time, we had three men join us. It made for a jolly table. They are all invited back again next year! A Happy New Year to you dear reader! May the Lord bless you richly in this new year.

closeup of my collection of nuts on my dining room table centerpiece

My growing teacup collection


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