Back at the Keyboard

Wow, a month away from my blog….never thought I could do it, but it was actually rather freeing. Still, I’ve missed blogging and am happy to be back.

So as I mentioned last month, we’ve moved, AGAIN. That makes three times in four years (for anyone keeping score), and if I say so myself, this was our most disorganized move yet, which is kind of depressing because we have a lot less stuff now than we did four years ago.

Part of the reason this latest move has been so crazy is that we moved into a much smaller house. We’ve always known we would need to downsize, and I thought I was ready for it. I love reading about the tiny houses that are so hip right now; just the thought of simplifying and streamlining the prodigious amount of crap stuff that a homeschooling family of six can accumulate made me happy and excited for the future. But the reality was that we had to slog through a lot of stuff in the heat and humidity (our leases kept going August to August) and it’s really gotten old.

That said, it’s worth it, because we feel lighter with every box we take to the Goodwill store. And (even at my age), I’m learning all sorts of good lessons through this experience. I’ll be sharing a few in future posts; let’s call them “The Downsizing Chronicles.”

As for those announcements I said were upcoming, it’s almost time. Stay tuned.

Enjoy the Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling

Another cold January weekend….the perfect time to stay home where it’s nice and warm and spend some time visiting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

We can learn so much from others on this homeschooling journey. The carnival makes it easy to check in with a variety of bloggers and get their take on all sorts of homeschool-related topics. It’s a great way to relax and learn at the same time. See you there!

Happy 4th Anniversary to the Carnival of Homeschooling

Back in the day, when I was a wannabe homeschooler, there weren’t many places to go to learn about homeschooling. I received a lovely little newsletter from the Moores that I devoured as soon as it arrived in my mailbox. I got the name of a homeschooling parent several towns away, called her, and soaked up her advice with gratitude. But that was about all the encouragement I could find.

Who could have imagined back in 1984, when I first learned about homeschooling, that someday there would be this thing called the Internet, where you could find more homeschool encouragement than you could ever absorb?

Of course, with so much available about homeschooling, it can sometimes be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. That’s why people like the Cates are so cool. The Cates began the official Carnival of Homeschooling, where each week you can read an assortment of posts related to homeschooling. It’s the best place I know to find bloggers you’ll want to visit again and again.

The Carnival takes a lot of work, and none of those involved get paid for it. I think it’s a labor of love. We bloggers love this lifestyle, and what it does for our kids, and we want to share that good news with anyone who’s interested in learning about it. That goes double for those who organize the posts into each week’s carnival.

This week is the carnival’s fourth anniversary. Wow…..210 weeks’ worth of informative blog posts, laid out in clever themes for your enjoyment. And you can still check any of them out, if you wish, right here.

Many thanks to the Cates, and to all the others who have hosted or will host the Carnival of Homeschooling. You do a great service to parents everywhere.

Exercises in Frugality

R2D2, aka DAK

R2D2, aka DAK

Frugality, one of my favorite topics, continues to increase in popularity as the economy negatively affects more and more families.

Some people apparently take frugal tips pretty seriously; note a couple of cranky commenters at this post. Two thought the blogger’s tips were too common, and one misguided soul suggested the blogger stop homeschooling, put her kids in school and start an in-home daycare.

Instead of complaining that someone’s frugal tips are too basic, most commenters helped by sharing their own tips. I think I’ll do the same for the next few posts.

Bread machines

My beloved Oster bread machine died several months ago after about ten years of use. The unit still worked but the pan began leaking oil (or something similar) into the bread because the seal was shot. A perusal of eBay introduced me to a few people* who would love to sell me a replacement pan for $20 plus $10 shipping.

Not interested. Instead, I hit the local Goodwill and bought a replacement, a Regal for $9. It made so-so dough and baked bread that resembled a doorstop in shape and heft.

I waited patiently while watching Goodwill for a new bread machine but kept seeing the same type as the Regal. A blogging friend suggested I buy a Zojirushi BBCCX20 Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine as she’d had great luck with it. I checked it out on Amazon: $200+, and some (though definitely not most) people had trouble with it.

I know how ticked I’d be if I spent $200 on anything and it didn’t work right. So I decided to keep being patient and checking Goodwill. But then I saw a Sunbeam breadmaker at Walmart for $50. It had pretty decent online reviews, so I decided to use my birthday gift money to buy one, but when I went back, they’d cleared out that model and replaced it with another, whose model number came up empty on a Google search. Not a good sign!

Not long after this, I stopped by Goodwill and found four bread machines. Three were Regals or looked like them. The fourth was so funny looking that I didn’t realize it was a bread machine at first. But it came with recipes, and at $5 it seemed worth the gamble.

Turns out it’s old (1990) and works great! It has quite a fan club, and I can see why. I thought I was being so clever calling it R2D2 until I found out that many people call it that.

Anyway, it makes great bread and dough, it was $50 cheaper than the bread machine I saw at Walmart, and $200 cheaper than the Zojirushi. Definitely worth waiting for!

* Sounds like a profitable racket, so I gave my old Oster and the Regal to my eBay seller daughter, hoping she can make some money off the parts, paddles and manuals :)

Blast From the Past

Having my own homegrown techie available to help me with my site and blog is really convenient, but it has its hazards. She can do things that I can’t do, and I can’t undo.

Case in point: Dd17 was going through one of my childhood photo albums when she suddenly decided my blog needs a photo of me….hence the new addition to the upper right corner of this blog.

“Mom,” she says, “You still have bangs, and you still make that face sometimes!”

Yep, some things never change  :)