Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Fun Mother’s Day

It is amazing me how quickly the year is passing. I’m struggling trying to find a new rhythm to my days since Tiffany is graduated. We’ve rewarded ourselves with a break this last month but are really trying to get it together. See, in our year-round schooling schedule, Tiffany would have most of the month of April off and then we’d start back up at the end of April with the OCHEC Homeschool Convention and keep rolling. The convention is a great boost. Before we started homeschooling year-round, I wondered why the convention was in late April/early May because I’d go and get all pumped and then our school year would be over within the next couple of weeks. By the time we started back up again I did not have the same excitement as I had after the convention. All that changed with the year-round schedule.

Mothers Day ~ LifeofJoy.meFor Mother’s Day, Sean took Mike, Tiffany, and I out to dinner at the restaurant of my choosing. I wish I’d have remembered to get a picture but alas, I did not. I chose Santa Fe, since I hadn’t been there in a year, they are on the side of town where we attend church and my parents live, and their cheese sticks are wonderful. While we waited the few minutes for a table to come available, one of the workers there gave me and the other mothers waiting, a $10 coupon good on our next visit. Very nice! Once we were seated we were informed that mothers receive a free dessert too.

We had the cheese sticks for an appetizer and they were as good as I remembered them to be. I had a delicious Chicken Santa Fe which had mushrooms and onions (which I had them caramelize because I don’t like crunchy cooked veggies), bacon, and Monterey Jack cheese with french fries and a side salad. The chicken was scrumptious! The salad decent and the fries great. Mike got the catfish and was too full to finish it off, so I brought home the rest with a couple of the rolls for a fish sandwich the next day – Yummo! Sean and Tiffany split a club sandwich and fries because he is never very hungry after church. When I questioned him about this phenomenon, because I’m always starving after church, he said he thinks it is because he drinks too much coffee, since he frequently finishes Tiffany’s.

We went to my parents’ home then and enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship with my extended family. My mom, who has always been such a giving person, has gotten something little for my sisters and I ever since we became mothers. This year was no exception. Brian and Lauren gave me a very comfortable pair of flip flops that she got a great deal on. I have not worn flip flops so comfortable in ages! I absolutely love them.

From Mike and Sean, I got some Zendala tiles, plastic sleeves for Zentangle tiles, and some chalkboard placemats and place cards. I cannot remember if I received “Move Over Darling” starring Doris Day for my birthday or Mother’s Day, as they were just 5 days apart this year. It’s a fun movie.

Well, that’s my week. I hope you have a good weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

How It Began

Kindergarten ~
Brian is holding the Mickey Mouse canteen and Sean is the little one sitting on the rock.
Field Day ~
Brian on the right and Sean on the left of the gravel driveway.

My homeschooling years are through. I’ve been looking back and thinking about what I used and why. What I liked and didn’t like.

When Brian was just about a year old, I bought Hooked on Phonics. They said it could be used successfully with young children. I was eager to share my love of books with my dear little boy, so I bought it in hopes he’d be ready soon. :D I tried to entice him when he was 2 years old. My sister’s oldest son was then 4 years old and we embarked on making a cute little “school” room in my unused den. We put up bulletin boards, made cute curtains with day and night on them, and had all kinds of hands on things for them to play with. They were not interested! So we didn’t push.

Each year I would get out that Hooked on Phonics set and try to entice Brian to want to use it and learn to read but alas, he still was not interested. When he was 4 years old, I enrolled him in the pre-k of the school in our church. Even by the end of the year, he still wasn’t interested.

Maymont Park ~ LifeofJoy.meThe next year we decided to homeschool him, for a couple of reasons. Since his birthday is in July, he was next to the youngest in his class. He loved playing with the kids but my sweet little boy ended up in the principal’s office 3 or 4 times that year! This was not acceptable! It also showed me that he was a follower and that could lead to disastrous results. I had some friends when I was a late teen that had gone to a different Christian school and they had told me that their school was as bad as a public school, with all the drinking, drugs, and smoking. They pointed out that kids that got kicked out of public school enrolled in private schools. The other reason was because it was expensive and looking ahead at our other children getting to be school age, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Homeschooling is much less expensive. :)

I used the summer to scour the internet AOL forums for what to do. I was not panicked at all because I had that Hooked on Phonics. My dad was encouraging; he’d heard about a computer program for homeschooling on the radio and told me about it. When September rolled around that year, I started him working on learning his letters with Hooked on Phonics and printed off easy math worksheets for him to do.

Kindergarten Group ~ LifeofJoy.meI knew two other ladies that had five year old boys. We decided to get together once every other week and do some kind of educational activity with them and then just let them play. It was a good year. I was pregnant with my youngest and one of the other ladies was pregnant with her fourth child. Tiffany was born the end of May that school year and the other lady had her baby in August.

At the end of August we moved from VA to OK, downsizing from a tri-level to a single wide 16×80 mobile home. My family was still in VA and Mike was going back and forth from OK and VA finishing up some work he had there. To say we had some adjustments to make is an understatement.

Next week, I’ll talk about the curricula we used, what we liked and didn’t like.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Diva Challenge #217 and maybe more

My birthday was last week and I didn’t take any time to do any tangling. I was excited to get back to it this week but then I got a hum-dinger of a headache yesterday. I’ve had the windows open the last couple of days and evidently the pollen count was a bit too much for me (and Tiffany) and we think that was the cause of the headaches. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to get a tile done to post on time but I started working on it anyway. I was amazed to find that by the time I’d finished the tile, my headache had lessened greatly! Whoo hoo! Thank you God!

iamthedivacztThe Diva Challenge this week is a duotangle using Dex and Bunzo in honor of the Diva’s 35th birthday this week. Dex is not one that I have ever done properly and I’ve never even attempted Bunzo before so this was definitely a challenge for me. I decided not to try and come up with some cool way integrate the two and just use a string. But I also did not want the pressure of picking a string either, especially since I already had enough pressure in my head from the pollen. Sooooo, I decided to draw the string with my eyes closed. :)

DC#217 ~

I just went with it. I’m not necessarily pleased with how dex turned out but it’s okay for the first time with it.

DC#217 finished ~

My pens are drying out, so I should really use my new ones but I hate to start the new ones while there is still ink in the old ones. How do you store your pens? Laying down or standing on one end – which end? I heard that you can turn the tip around using pliers and it will extend the life of the microns. Do you have any experience with this? Is it worth the effort?

I also need to get another pair of magnifying glasses for the detail work. I can really see the areas for improvement when I put it online because it is enlarged.

Well, as always, if I get any more tiles or zias done this week, I’ll add them here.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken Fried Rice ~

This recipe is easy and very flexible. You can use whatever meats you have on hand or just go with all veggies. We’ve used just chicken and egg before as well as broccoli and carrots. But our go to is chicken and egg with onions and mushrooms because I love caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms.

It works best when your rice is cold but I seldom have rice sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be used.

When I first ate chicken fried rice it was at a Cantonese restaurant. It had onions and mung bean sprouts and maybe some carrot cubes. Several years after Mike and I got married, I wanted chicken fried rice for dinner but we couldn’t afford to go out at the time, so I set out to make it at home with many disappointments. At first I did not add in the mung bean sprouts because they were crunchy and I don’t like crunchy cooked vegetables. It didn’t taste right so I tried the same recipe I’d found with the sprouts but it was still missing something.

I tried other recipes and one day came upon a recipe that included sesame oil but said it was optional. Well, sesame oil was not cheap so since I wasn’t sure if we’d like it or ever use it again, I did not purchase any. The recipe did not taste like what I remembered it was supposed to taste like. I tried other recipes and one day decided to get the sesame oil and give it a try. That was it! I was amazed that a few drops of this oil is what the key ingredient was to making this dish taste like its restaurant version.

If you have any leftover meat or veggies, this is a good way to use them up. You can use as much or as little of any ingredient as you desire.

If you don’t have any rice cooked, put about 1½ cups of rice in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the water is gone and rice is tender.

I usually use one large chicken breast that is somewhere between three-fourths of a pound to one pound. Cube and cook just until no longer pink.

Diced Chicken ~

Dice about half an onion and slice about 5 or 6 ounces of mushrooms. veggies ~ LifeofJoy.meSaute in a little butter or oil, with just a few drops of sesame oil. (Sesame oil is very strong, so start out with a little bit; you can always add more later.

Saute Veggies ~ LifeofJoy.meMove veggies to the side and beat 4 eggs slightly. Pour into the pan and scramble them.

Scramble Egg ~

Now add about one teaspoon or so of the sesame oil, the cooked rice, cooked chicken, and about 1/4 – 1/3 cup soy sauce to the eggs and veggies and mix/stir fry. (We use low sodium soy sauce.)

Mix it all together ~ LifeofJoy.meRice and stuff added ~ LifeofJoy.meNearly Done ~ LifeofJoy.meTaste it. If it is too mushy, add a bit more oil. If it is bland, add a few more drops of sesame oil or soy sauce.


Plated ~

I hope you will give this one a try. It really is very versatile and delicious.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Your Husband is NOT a Mind Reader!

No Mind Readers ~ LifeofJoy.meIn the past, I have been guilty of dropping hints and wanting Mike (my husband) to understand what it is that I want. Sometimes it has been something I wanted him to do, like take out the trash or put his dishes in the dishwasher. Other times it has been something like having him rub my feet or back. But that is not fair to him or to me even.

I don’t like it when he does the same kind of thing with me, even though sometimes I can deduce what it is that he wants, I prefer to be asked. But that is really not good either. It is akin to pride or lording over him, which admittedly doesn’t sound like love to me. :(

Instead the proper thing to do is to ask for what you need or want. Ask politely, sweetly, respectfully! But ask for what you want or need.

If you are too tired, exhausted, or run down, you are probably finding it difficult to give your beloved the attention he needs, craves, and deserves. If you calmly tell him what you need to feel able to spend time with him alone, I bet he will gladly work out a way to make it happen.

Remember he loves and needs you!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

A Week in Review

Gwin and Plan B for the lights ~
I forced Gwin to let me take a picture of what we decided was NOT how we wanted to use those colored icicle lights. :D

Well, it is the end of my birthday week. :) It has been very relaxing. I’ve been recharging from my busyness with last Friday’s fellowship night at our church. I really do need to learn not to procrastinate. I don’t know why I do it but I do, frequently and with many many things.

I think the fellowship night went well but I’m not sure that everyone did. There were a few hiccups but overall, I had fun. ;)

We made i-spy bottles for one of our games. Tiffany and Lauren were a super help . . . truth be told, they did most of it for me. :) They are great to me! We tried it with sand but the sand was damp. Mike brought it home that way. We collected small items that would fit through the opening on a small water bottle. When we put the items in with the sand, the sand coated everything and you just could not see the items, which really defeats the purpose of the game. So we switched to rice. It worked great with the rice. We made each bottle different.

We ended up with too many things to do which is my preference over not enough to do. I had been asked to sing but my voice was nearly gone come Thursday. Thus I spend the majority of Friday whispering, since I needed my voice to emcee the activities for the evening.

I asked for the attendees to help us clean up afterwards. It was such a blessing to have the extra hands helping out. It sure made it easier than when we set it up. All those extra hands and feet loading up the vehicles with all the decorations made it light work. I was even blessed to have someone come up to me and take over the vacuuming for me! What a blessing!

Saturday was a fun day. The kids, including Brian and Lauren, Mike, and I went to see Avengers 2 at the mid-price theater. I can handle an older theater when the price is so much cheaper. It was fun. We ran a few errands to get birthday gifts and Sean treated the four of us to milkshakes from Braum’s on our way home. :)

My friend Gwin has her birthday on the day before mine. I got her a book that looks wonderful – The Joy of Zentangle – in which 3/4 of it is filled with tangle step-outs. I think she will enjoy not having to remember which websites to go to when she begins to tangle.

My niece’s birthday is the day after mine, so Sunday we celebrated my birthday and hers at my parents’ home after Sunday morning services. Macie chose Mud Pie for dessert.

On my birthday, Tiffany really spoiled me! I got some computer games that I had wanted and enjoyed playing the ones that I could get to work easily. She fixed all my meals and dessert too!

Brian and Lauren came out to celebrate with me. After a dinner of Lasagna and homemade bread, we started to watch Agents of Shield but they don’t follow that show and needed to leave earlier than usual. We played the group game on Nintendo Land that we call candy. Five or Six people can play it together. The majority of the players run around collecting candy trying to reach the goal while the other player (or two) plays the two guards and attempts to catch them 3 times before they can collect the specified number of candies (the more players the higher candy goal).

My voice has been getting stronger and stronger since the party Friday night but still is struggling a bit. :\ This too shall pass.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Dysgraphia ~ LifeOfJoy.meI received this interesting article and thought I’d share it with you today.

I hope it blesses you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


By Deborah Reed

Disgraphia (sometimes spelled dysgraphia) is a learning disability whose primary symptom is the inability to write legibly. Because it is seldom recognized as a true disability, the child may suffer not only from the disability itself but also from the stigma associated with extremely poor handwriting. A child with this disorder often has low self-esteem because he cannot write as well as his peers no matter how hard he tries.

What few studies have been done on this subject indicate that the problem lies in the brain, that some “connection” is missing that prevents the child (or adult) from forming legible letters and words. Research indicates that these students have difficulty processing the sequencing involved in writing even if they slow down considerably and give their best effort.

Primary Symptom

The first clue that you as a homeschooling parent may have that your child suffers from this disability is, of course, illegible handwriting. This is the first red flag, but other symptoms must also be present for a true diagnosis, because many children have poor handwriting, as do some adults. Very young students, therefore, cannot be diagnosed, for their handwriting may very well improve with practice. If, however, your third-grader still has virtually illegible handwriting, you might want to consider having him tested for this disability.

Other Symptoms

Most children who suffer from disgraphia have very distinctive handwriting. If your child does, indeed, have this disability you many notice all or some of the symptoms below:

  • The upper and lower case letters are intermixed, and the size of the letters is uneven.
  • Sometimes a word is left uncompleted before going to the next word.
  • The words and letters are not spaced correctly.
  • The written page looks like a scrawl despite the child’s best effort to make it look neat.
  • The child is reluctant to do written work and spends much more time than necessary to accomplish even the smallest writing task.
  • Flexing of arms and fingers often (because writing causes pain)
  • Odd movements when writing (perhaps holding the pencil differently for different letters)
  • Excessive erasures
  • Misuse of lines and margins
  • Sometimes writing the wrong word altogether


Disgraphia extends far beyond an inability to write legibly. Spelling ability is also affected, and your child may take much longer than needed to learn a simple spelling list. Often the spelling words will be mastered one day, only to be forgotten the next.

And—the most alarming symptom of all—it seems that while the child is struggling with the mechanics of writing that he is unable to process the material he is trying to learn. Most students learn while they write; the child who has disgraphia has to make a choice—does he want to learn, or does he want to write? He can’t seem to do both at the same time. Perhaps you choose to give a writing assignment to introduce material you plan to cover—copying vocabulary words, for example. For the child with disgraphia, this is counterproductive. He concentrates so hard on the writing itself that the material takes a back seat. Writing is a large part of a child’s school life. If he is not learning while he is writing, whole chunks of the day are wasted.


Because disgraphia is a relatively unknown disability, the homeschooling parent may not recognize it for what it is. You may urge your child to just try harder or to slow down when writing or to pay more attention to what he is doing. None of these suggestions, of course, alleviates the problem, because the problem lies inside the brain, not in the child’s attitude. Thus, obtaining a true diagnosis (is this disgraphia or not?) is essential.

In many states, the law requires that homeschooled students have access to the same services as those who are in the school system. If this is the case in your area, a call to the district office would be the first step to take. If your school district employs diagnosticians, request a meeting with one, along with at least one special education teacher. Be prepared for the fact that you may be the only person in the room who is aware of this disability, and bring examples of your child’s handwriting and copies of any research you have done.

If you do not have access to (or cannot afford) these services, you are pretty much on your own, although several excellent articles have recently appeared on the Internet.1 Independent research is then needed both to make a diagnosis and to create special lesson plans. These plans take into account that your child has difficulty learning while writing and consist of certain modifications that address this problem.

I became interested in this disability when my grandson, Trey, was diagnosed with it, and I was able to create several modifications for his schoolwork. These are listed below, and while they may be helpful, you may need to create additional ones that pertain to your child.


Because this disability is not as well researched as many of the others, you are essentially on uncharted grounds when modifying your child’s schoolwork. You might want to play around with different modifications to determine which one works best for your particular situation. As with the dyslexic student, the modifications that your child needs are just that—necessities, not “shortcuts” that she is taking because she is lazy or sloppy.

Many modifications involve sidestepping the writing process. The skills involved in typing do not seem to be affected by this disorder, so today’s students, most of whom are fluent in keyboarding skills, have an advantage over students from earlier years. It is very important for the child who has been diagnosed with disgraphia to develop keyboarding skills if he does not already possess them. If he types poorly, he is no better off than if he writes poorly. Time spent practicing keyboarding is well worth the effort.

A tape recorder, too, is a valuable tool. Your child can record his thoughts and then write (or type) them later. This bypasses the “I can’t think while I write” problem. Do not insist that your child write her assignments in order to get more practice. Practice will help a little but should be done independently of schoolwork.

Below are some of the modifications that I adopted for Trey. They may or may not work for your child but will give you an idea where to start.

  • You may choose to give your child an incomplete outline of certain assignments and let her fill in the blanks, rather than doing the entire assignment.
  • Allow her to choose either cursive or manuscript writing—whichever comes easiest.
  • Older students should be allowed to use wide-lined paper if they find this easier to write on and to use a writing instrument that they feel comfortable with.
  • Because poor spelling ability goes hand in hand with disgraphia, it is best to give only a few spelling words at a time.
  • Keep in mind that writing causes pain for your child, and allow him to stretch or shake his hands occasionally.
  • Allow her, when possible, to talk about the lessons rather than write them.
  • With some subjects, such as math, your student may do the work on a scrap sheet of paper and then ask someone else to copy his answers onto the worksheet.
  • With other subjects, such as language arts or science, the student may “dictate” while the teacher writes.

Disgraphia, like all learning disabilities, is best addressed if diagnosed early, or the child will spend valuable learning time struggling to do something that she is simply not capable of doing—writing legibly. A correct diagnosis followed by modifications in lesson plans is therefore essential for the student with this disability.

Deborah Reed has had thirty-eight short articles/essays published, two of which are Pushcart Prize nominees. She is a retired science teacher who now lives in Central Texas. Her hobbies include ballroom dancing, weight lifting, and studying quantum physics.


1. The following articles provide helpful information about this topic from the National Center for Learning Disabilities:

from Right Diagnosis: , and from LD Online: .

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the Annual Print 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Chicken Pot Pie

Slice of Pot Pie ~ LifeofJoy.meThis recipe is one I created because I like pot pie but seldom ever buy it. One night I was hungry for it and didn’t have any. I knew chicken pot pie was basically chicken, mixed veggies, crust, and a gravy of some kind, all of which I had.

First cook up some chicken. I use one large boneless skinless breast or at least 2 cups pre-cooked chicken chopped. Add can mixed vegetables (drained) and one can of cream of chicken soup (undiluted). Mix together. Look for the combination you like – I added in a can of cut green beans (drained) and another half can cream of chicken soup.

Chicken Pot pie Filling ~

I cheat and use pre-made pie crusts. Place one in the bottom of a 9″ pie pan.

Pie Crust ~

Pour the filling into the crust.

Filling Added ~

Place the other crust on top, tuck the crust hanging over the rim inside the pan and crimp the two crusts together. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

Ready for Oven ~

Bake at 350º for about 30 minutes or until crust is slightly golden and the filling bubbly.

Served with Noodles ~

I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Making Him a Priority

remote-controlI have a simple thought today. Some times it is best to do something other than what you want to do, to show your hubby that you place him as a priority. Even if he doesn’t seem to see it or get it, it is good to make this kind of sacrifice from time to time.

Let me explain what I mean:

Mike likes to flick channels. He always has. This bothers me. It always has. It caused us a bit of trouble in the beginning of our marriage as we learned to cohabitate. ;) I learned to compensate for this frustrating behavior by doing other things as we watched television together. I crocheted, read books, did word puzzles, and eventually I played Nintendo.

Through the years I have added and subtracted activities from my list of things to do during the evening hours, while watching television with my hubby. Eventually it grew to me working on my computer but this became a frustration to Mike causing him to say things about only ever seeing the back of my head but I thought I was doing good because I was in the same room and aware of all that was going on.

Thankfully several years ago I got a laptop and thus Mike no longer saw the back of my head. ;) As you might have guessed though, this did not end his frustration with what I do while we watch television. Through the years, we have come to an agreement that during certain shows he will not flick channels but by this time I already had the habit of doing other things while watching television.

So, the point of all of this? The other day I purposefully stayed off my computer. I didn’t work on my blog, check my email or facebook, or play any of my games. I felt good about my choices even if it wasn’t noticed. I don’t know if he noticed or not but I do know I gave him more attention that I usually do.  It is important to give and take in a marriage, giving up without expectation of anything. Don’t expect him to notice or say anything about what you do or expecting him to do anything in return. Do what the Lord leads you to do and that is it.

What it boils down to is doing something for your beloved just because . . . that’s it. I think that is enough said.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº