Home School Organization

November 2, 2017

Home School Organization

So I’m one of these crazy people who can’t stand anything to be out of order.  I use to freak out trying to keep the house looking like a picture in a magazine…

This was until God smashed me with the realization that while life is in my house, it will never be perfectly clean.  (Note to self: NEVER be PERFECT!)

We also homeschool.  This means in addition to the normal kid toys, clothes, and assorted paraphernalia, we also have a stupendous collection of schoolwork items.  This all has to stay organized.  (Organization has paid off repeatedly as the girls move into high school level courses and dual enrollment.)  So I looked for an easy way to keep organized.

My first step at this organization was the purchase of three letter envelope sized Boxes upon which I wrote “Christina’s Schoolbooks,” “Rebeccah’s Schoolbooks,” and “Kimberly’s Schoolbooks.”

These boxes hold all current textbooks, notebooks, and school “tools” (pencils, pens, crayons, etc.) for that student.  I only had one “student” at the time, but the littler girls felt big to have their crayons, art supplies, and activity books in a “school box” too.  They also aren’t too heavy for a 5-year-old to tote around.

The students are responsible for their box and keeping their books and supplies in good order.  (Mom “issues” normal supplies like notebooks, primary crayons, pencils, pens, erasers, mathematical instruments, and books.  Usually, they like to buy their own “extras” like markers, colored pencils, or work pens inscribed with their name.)  This helps with responsibility.

Bingo!  I scored a short, sturdy wooden bookshelf that held my boxes perfectly!  **One (Jaquline’s) is missing in the picture, but that’s because she was using it!**

This allowed me to add the next 2 boxes (they were only 1 and 3, but Jaquline kept asking about her school box) and a third set for notebooks, charts & flashcards, and shared coloring & art books.  (Granted, we have a full-size bookshelf with art supplies and games and three full-size bookshelves with the supplemental school books – mostly history, science, technology, readers, and encyclopedias.)

Later, Rebeccah decided we needed a “non-reader” system on our boxes so we added “pictures” to the labels.  She likes everything organized too.

I created a book I call the School Planner.  (Rebeccah calls it “The One Book” as in “The book to rule all school!”) **Deceptively plain, isn’t it?**

It has everything school related in a very easy, homeschool-mom-friendly format.  (This means I can quickly enter information and file papers within my 10 or 15 minute time crunch.  I love organization, but hate spending time on it.)  One file drawer turned into the workbook paper file with one file for each student’s work by school year.  They look like steps and Kimberly has called them “the steps to college.”

Our School Shelf still holds everything current for 6 students (okay, Lucas isn’t a student yet, but he does have a backpack, crayons, and two coloring books in his school box).  Our School Planner sits on top of the School Shelf, and two sturdy boxes (perfect size to keep the workbooks snug and dust-free) sit on the other side against the wall holding all of the “next-ups.” (Core curriculum workbooks to be used by the next student.)

Our School Planner is organized by student in 4-week snapshots on each page.

On these pages, I keep a running list of reading books completed, courses completed and their GPA & weight (for high school-level), extra-curricular projects completed, and educational extras like field trips, community service, or practical learning.  The first page in my planner is my “base grade level guide” (texts I expect each student to pass at said grade level).

At the end of each school year (for us, the last Friday before our annual evaluation), I spend about an hour or two and compile all this raw data into a concise one or two page “report” I call a school year summary.

I attach a reading book list (gathered from the same data!) and if any high school level courses were completed, I add them into the student’s high school transcript.

For portfolio evaluations, I just grab the School Planner (reports go in the front in age order) and the file folder for each student for that year.  It’s easy and keeps me mostly stress free.  After evaluations, I rubber-band the School Planner pages together and set them in the file drawer with the previous years, print out the new pages with the changed dates and continue… the story of each school year in less than 1.5 inches of paper. The copy of their evaluation report (the copy of the official report on file with St Johns’ County) goes in a file folder with their name on it.  This has all evaluations and communications from the school district.  (This was a life-saver when the county changed computer systems!) **Lucas’ folder doesn’t have his name on it yet because they get to pick their colors**

Everything important with our school is in one long file drawer and one shelf.  This makes school time fun and easy – and organized!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

“I am Lucas!”

October 9, 2017

“I Am Lucas!”

It had been a very hectic day!  As Christina and I sorted the folded clothes, I imagined how much money we would make if we designed a Roomba-type total-clothes robot.  You know, you would dump dirty clothes in a bin and this robot would suck them in, wash them, dry them, fold them, and put them away in the correct drawer.  (I was imagining coding for the brain and a lego technic body rolling around the house in an endless cycle – it would have to be powered by a rechargeable battery that plugged itself in at night so I wouldn’t forget to charge it.)

(With Christina’s cap!)

Lucas ran down the hall with lightning speed.  (On second thought, maybe I should just discover a way to harness 2-year-old energy to offset electric costs!)

He tapped Rebeccah’s knee.  “You are Becky!”  He screamed.  (He and his best buddy at church had amused themselves by yelling “I AM…” *insert toy, like BIG TRUCK, BLUE CAR, LITTLE PUPPY, etc.* This was the first “You are…” I had heard.)

Rebeccah, Kimberly, and Christina applauded.  Lucas loves attention even though he plays shy.  He ran into Kimberly doing dishes.  “You are Kay!”  (This is the sometimes-nickname the girls use for Kimberly.)

“He knows my name!” Kimberly laughed.

Jaquline stopped with an armful of clothes to be put away, “who am I, Lukie?”

Lucas got that crooked boyish grin. (She had said Lukie instead of Lucas!)  “You are BECKY!”

Jillian stopped gathering Lucas’ army of trucks that lined the hallway and laughed, “am I Becky too?”

“You are Prim!”  (This is Christina’s dog!)

Christina and Rebeccah laughed.

Jillian thought this was hilarious.  She started nudging trucks with her nose and yipped as Lucas raced past.  Lucas ignored the newly-discovered doggie and ran full steam back through the house.

He called out names as he touched or ran into people, “You are Ki-tina!”  (Best version of Christina so far.)   “You are Mommy!”  (Can’t really get that wrong; he’s been saying it correctly for a year and a half.)  “You are Becky!  You are Kay!  You are Jaqu-line!  You are Jillian!” This continued until the clothes were put away.  (The energizer bunny would run out of power before Lucas slowed down!)

Christina laughed, “who are you?”

Lucas giggled and yelled, “I AM LUCAS!”  This sound echoed off the hallway walls as he raced back into the playroom.

There is one little guy who knows who he is!  (Some of his energy does actually leak out to us; he can race through and brighten the mood of a whole room!)

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

A Storm and Chicken Story

August 26, 2017

A Storm and Chicken Story

One day we were playing outside and a storm came up.  Not a cute little Pooh bear thundercloud with a few raindrops, but a giant, hurricane-wind, flash-lightning-fireworks-in-the-sky, shake-the-whole-house-thunder, all-people-hide-inside kind of thunderstorm.  (Okay, it was a simple, everyday, Florida thunderstorm.)  The winds were swirling chicken feathers and fluffing them out like towel-dried cats.  Smaller chickens were hop-flying to stabilize themselves as they fought for the safety of the henhouse.

After drying off from the first wave of rain, the girls peeked outside and giggled at the chickens until the raindrops were so large we couldn’t see the henhouse anymore.  The late summer winds blew the tree limbs around like strong autumn breezes scatter just-raked leaf piles.

“Mom, can you tell us a story with a storm?” Asked Rebeccah.

“A Long Tail story!” yipped Kimberly.  She was five, and she loved Long Tail.

So we snuggled on the couch with lightning flashes illuminating the room through the big windows and started what would become “Long Tail and the Big Storm.”

The chickens of the yard were ruled by Long Tail, the great yellow chief, and guarded by Long Tail and Alfredo, the white rooster imported some time ago.  Under this rooster team, the hens and pullets scratched and gossiped and laid eggs all day with no worries.

On one autumn day the bright sky darkened with angry clouds.  The sun hid.  The birds in the woods started crying warnings and flying away.  Two small humans who were playing in the henhouse with the baby biddies, heard a booming crack of thunder and jumped!  They put the baby biddies back in the safe brooder and left the henhouse.

“Look at those little humans!” cawed Alfredo, laughing, “running like rabbits!”

A giant bolt of lightning lit up the sky just behind the woods and a cannon-loud BOOM of thunder shattered the air.  Alfredo scrambled into the henhouse and hid under the brooder.

All the hens laughed at the silly rooster.

Even Red Feathers and Golden Eye, two of the youngest pullets, laughed at him.

Long Tail strutted by, “when the water falls from the sky, we come in.” Long Tail was not afraid.

A big wind shrieked through the henhouse.  It blew the people door open!

Can Long Tail save his flock?  Be sure to check out Long Tail and the Big Storm to see just how this courageous rooster accomplishes this brave feat!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

The Board

August 13, 2017

The Board

The fun of off days is being able to spend time with family!  After I got done working Saturday, we planned on meeting up with Aunt Becca and Anastasia. (Jillian calls her “my almost-my-age sister cousin” because Anastasia is 4 and Jillian is 5.)  Our start time got delayed, as usual, but that happened on both ends. (Secretly, I love it when that happens! It’s like it was orchestrated!) We were “sardined” into the van with sand toys, boogie boards (which originally belonged to my sisters and brothers), towels to line seats, the canopy tent (usually used for craft and book shows), and two camp chairs.  Oh yes, and add the apples and cherries from our 3-minutes stop by the Produce Market.  (Our part of the snacks – we remembered Lucas’ water cup but forgot the gallon of water.)

And we had the surfboard.  THE.  As in, there is no other like it.  It was my Dad’s ages ago.  He rode it up and down A1A before the overgrown beach houses obscured the ocean view.  It is bright yellow with a blue “arrow” on the front. (The girls claim this gives it extra speed.) It has a few bumps and dings – yes, see that?  That one was from my only-ever attempt to stand at North Vilano Beach where the wave dropped me on the shells.  I like to call it “mine” but invariably it is referred to as “Granddaddy’s surfboard,” because everyone knows where it came from.  Christina tries to call it “mine” and Kimberly is starting to call it “mine” so maybe that is the official name, “Mine,” since I’m not done with it yet!  Honestly, we compromise; it is “ours,” and we all love to share it.

When our sardine can turned into the beach park north of the pier, the girls spotted Aunt Becca’s car behind us and started screaming, “Yeah! Aunt Becca!” and “I see Grandma’s hair!”  Lucas napped through all of this commotion.  We played musical parking spots until we found two side-by-side and the troupe tumbled out of the vehicles, hugged and squished each other in greeting, grabbed their assigned items, and paraded up the walkover to the beach.  Lucas and I took up the rear, but Grandma stopped to help another little one.

Lucas spied Grandma.  “Mommy!  MY GRANDMA is HERE!!”  That woke him up!  Anastasia ran past and he squealed “my ‘STASIA!”  Now squirming with excitement, he heard my sister.  “Mommy!  Grandma!  My Aunt Becca HERE!”  He didn’t get down, but twisted around to see her.  “Mommy, THE BEACH!” He yelled as we started going down the walkover steps.  He then announced to everyone else who chose to hear that he was at the beach and named everyone he came with in a very quickly smashed up string of excited words.

Set up was fast and the children launched into the ocean in twos and threes while the adults paused to relax and say hello in the shade.  Lucas discovered Anastasia’s sand toys.

Jillian and Anastasia hit the surf on boogie boards.

One visible head is part of the three heads in the distance belonging to Jaquline, Kimberly, and Rebeccah.

Christina took the surfboard out and after a couple of rides to discover the safety of the sand bar and how shallow the water actually was.  She started giving tandem rides to the older girls and “baby wave rides” to the littler ones.  Mom got to tow the middle ones out one at a time to catch waves.

When everyone paused to refuel, the surfboard doubled as a comfy sand-free bench.

We enjoyed rain in the water and played shipwreck.  The two littlest were in a boat, the others on boards, and Rebeccah, Christina, Aunt Becca, and Mommy guiding and swimming out “in the deep” just before the sandbar.  We pretended we were shipwreck survivors trying to navigate the waves (as if there wasn’t a beach 20 feet away) and keep each other afloat while Grandma watched for approaching ships and held down the fort. (Quite literally, as the wind was picking up the canopy!)  Christina, Jaquline, Anastasia, and Lucas built a big hole in a tide pool and played like the Funny Sisters in Sisters at the Seashore. (Lucas kept jumping in it!)

Join us next time, another adventure awaits!  (And everyone slept all through the night!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

My Illustrators

August 3, 2017

My Illustrators

I love to write.  When it comes to drawing, I’m not an artist.  So when I’m ready to finish a story, I enlist the aid of my team of illustrators.

The latest releases, “The Mystery of the Strange Chip” and “A Clue in the Barn” were illustrated by a team.  Christina Tart sketched the design and Kimberly Tart used her new favorite medium, pastels, to color it in.  They turned to a computer editing software package to add text for the design.  The results are the new covers for what they call “old” stories.  (Old, well, they were written when I was dating and just after I was married – so they are older than the illustrators!)

It’s interesting for me to see what my illustrators come up with when they draw.  Sometimes what they see is not what I would have seen, but it’s usually much better!  When Ann Pearson (one of my little sisters) illustrated for “Long Tail” her images of Long Tail and Red Hawk looked different than what I pictured, but they were so perfect for the series!  Those images were colored by Christina and Rebeccah.  Crayon drawings gave the perfect texture to the childish, fun, read-along Long Tail stories.  (Ann’s running farmer was just perfect – you can see him in the DVD book and handmade book versions.)

Another new release is “Sisters at the Seashore” one of the Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters.  Jaquline did her first illustration job on that!  She’s excited because “now I’m published too!”  Christina thinks it’s neat that their names show up on the ebook websites as illustrators or colorists (depending on their role).  Rebeccah loves getting commission on her work!  (I pay my illustrators 10 to 50 percent commission depending on the number of illustrations in the work.  The “Jilly and Luke’s Block Adventures” are 50 percent commission works because they are picture books – an illustration almost every page!)

At one bookshow I did, a fellow author expressed interest in my illustrations.  Her favorite was “The Living God” because she claimed the “abstract art is amazing” and she commented that it looked like the open jaws of a lion.  I’d honestly never seen it that way, but now, I can’t not see the open lion jaws when I see the book cover!  I previously just saw it as colorful geometric shapes.  (Christina’s favorite book cover illustrations appear to be random flowers, geometric designs, and scrollwork.)

As of the latest release, I now have five illustrators on my team: Ann Pearson, Christina Tart, Rebeccah Tart, Kimberly Tart, and Jaquline Tart.

Oh, and Jaquline’s second book cover illustration will be published shortly too – she redid the cover for “Birthday Present!”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Baby-Surfing

July 19, 2017

Baby-Surfing

Certainly you’ve heard of surfing.  You know, the ancient art of riding a plank of wood on the waves?  Then we created lighter, smoother, conventional surfboards so we didn’t get splinters in our feet or stomachs and we weren’t worn out after dragging our plank to the ocean.  

What if we forget our surfboard?  Or, in our case, we decided to go to the beach on the “spur of the moment” and happen to have bathing suits because it’s Florida and a bathing suit is standard wear.  Then there is always your body!  ”Body-surfing” is when you catch the wave like a dolphin, with just your body!  You dive into the swell and the wave picks you up and carries you until it breaks, sometimes all the way to shore!

But have you ever heard of baby-surfing?  That is when a baby with monkey-grab-on power rides mom when she’s body surfing.  Lucas invented baby-surfing when we went to the beach.  (I’m sure it’s been around as long as surfing, but for us, it was a new concept!)  

The beach was gorgeous.  It always is.  The tide was coming in, almost high, and the waves were breaking in long, straight rows.  Perfect!  Before Lucas and I made it to the water, the girls were already body-surfing and their laughter sprinkled through the air like sunbeams reflecting off the water.  Jaquline is obsessed with “getting tube” – her term for catching the wave before it breaks and riding through it as it closes.  She is so light and fast that she can usually do this even with smaller waves.  

Lucas clung to my back and shouted “surfing!”  

He’s ridden the board with us before, but not body-surfed as he isn’t a fully independent swimmer yet.  (He knows how to hold his breath, paddle and kick, and get upright, but not really swim yet – he is just two.

But Lucas LOVES the ocean!  Well, Mom and Daddy went surfing all the time while dating, and the board he rides on is Granddaddy’s, so he gets it naturally.

The waves weren’t rough.  They were about a foot and a half, maybe two, but even Jillian (who is five) was body-surfing them.  So we jumped in!  We only had to go out about thirty feet to catch them.  The water was refreshing and about waist deep to an adult.  For Rebeccah it was waist deep, but for Kimberly and Jaquline it was eight-ball high (midway between waist & shoulders).  

“Whoooo-eeeeeee!” Lucas hollered as we caught the first wave – about a 20-foot ride.  I stood up and Rebeccah asks, “Lucas, did you like that?” 

Lucas let go of my shoulders and yelled “AGAIN!!” His legs were still locked around my waist but he threw his head back into the next wave.  As he popped out of the water he shook his spiky blonde hair and shouted, “AGAIN!  SURFING AGAIN MOMMY!” 

As an infant of 8 months, this beach baby started trips to the beach by racing into the surf, getting tossed back, and getting right back up and running out again!  This is the way of Lucas, so much adventure in that tiny package!  

Every time we caught a wave he whooped and hollered like a rodeo cowboy.  Every time I stood up at the end of a ride, he hopped up and down while still clinging to me and yelled “AGAIN MOMMY!” or “SURFING!”  Every time one of the girls caught a wave as we were trooping back out, he joined me in cheering them on.  

Mom would say stuff like: “Yeah, Jillian!”  ”Good job, Jaquline!”  ”Grab it, Kimberly!”  ”Nice! Rebeccah!”  

Lucas would shout: “Wheeee!”  ”Whoooo!”  ”SURFING!”  ”YEAH!”  ”BECCA!”  (Since we call my sister, “Aunt Becca,” he shortens Rebeccah’s name to “Becca” sometimes too.)

After about an hour or so, (No one in the ocean pays attention to time – they are having too much fun!) I felt Lucas falling asleep.  ”Are you ready to go build sandcastles?” (Trying to get him to the beach, he loves building – and demolishing – sandcastles.)

“No, Mommy,” he’s clinging to me like a monkey still, his voice sleepy slow, “SURFING!”  

End of the next ride, “Are you ready for food, Lucas?”  (Food usually gets Lucas’ attention away from anything else.

“No, Mommy!  AGAIN!”  

“Just one last ride, okay?” So one last ride, one last “Baby-Surfing” ride.  This was the biggest of the day, we had to go quite a bit farther out to catch it (as the tide was turning, the waves were breaking farther out, but the water level still wasn’t any deeper), but what a thrill riding it back in!  Rebeccah, Kimberly, and Jaquline joined in the last big wave – we rode it all the way in.  (Of course, the girls ran right back out for “just one more.”) Lucas was asleep before we got to the van!  Christina commented, “wow, Mom, Baby-Surfing wore Lucas right out.”  

Perfect trust, perfect fun, perfect day!  Thank you, Jesus, for the awesome rides!

Thanks for reading!

Talk at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Double Break

July 12, 2017

Double Break

Once there was a princess.  She was seven years old and she loved climbing in trees.

She had a pretty purse her aunt had given her for her birthday.  For four months, it had never left her arm.

She also had a favorite pair of shoes.  Not active, sturdy, outside shoes, but dressy magic boots so worn out that the bottoms were falling off (mom had tossed them into the trash can multiple times, but magically they appeared back on Jaquline’s feet).

It was the end of a long, fun day.  Mom called everyone in for dinner.  It was almost 7pm.  Jaquline, Jillian, and Kimberly decided to play one more game of tag.  Jaquline raced to climb up base (the tree) and got about 5 feet up before her shoes slid, purse got caught, and she fell.

Echoing through the neighborhood was the type of pain scream that Moms dread.

Within 5 minutes, Christina had gathered the other 4 kids into the SUV, while Rebeccah (with her awesome bedside calming manner) soothed Jaquline and Mom carried her into the vehicle.  We could see one of the breaks easily – it looked like a crumpled, tiny T-Rex arm had grown just above Jaquline’s right wrist.

Mom sped to the hospital.

Christina called Daddy so he could meet them there (he was at work).  Jaquline had her call Grandma so she could pray with her.  Rebeccah sang funny songs and told jokes while she held Jaquline’s body and arms still.

Jaquline had broken her right distal ulna and radius (within 2 inches of the wrist joint is “distal”) in a “closed break” (it didn’t break skin, but was “compound” because the break was completely through the bone – in 3 places on both bones) and her left distal ulna was broken, distal radius cracked, and scaphoid (a wrist bone) dislocated.  She told every doctor, nurse, and CNA who came in that as she fell she didn’t want to hit her head or neck, back, tummy, legs, so caught herself with her arms.  When they gave her some “funny juice” to make her not feel the pain while they snapped the bones back in place, she told us about unicorns, a palace in the clouds, and flying.  She told the doctor that “God is sewing my bones back together.”

She was limited (barely! she was still only for the first few hours) for a few weeks in two casts.  We had to keep telling her she was a princess and couldn’t get up off the couch (this was the first time she didn’t want to be a princess).  She had the right cast on for an additional three weeks.

There were many miracles during this time.  First, God put strong, capable medical staff in our path.  Several even prayed with Jaquline.  Jaquline’s bones started knitting back together quickly.  At her 6 week appointment (removal of second cast), her x-rays showed complete healing.  The doctor said “normal” regrowth would have been 1.5mm, Jaquline’s was over 5mm.  There was a bone “spur” (part angled out that wasn’t straight, it looked like a bump on the bone) but by the 3 month appointment, it was completely gone.  They were concerned about range of motion in her wrists, especially the right one because of being in the casts so long, but that was fine too – she did hand and finger exercises every day.  (She did all kinds of stuff every day!  We moved while she was in her casts!)

We learned a lot about our bones, how our bodies heal and grow, and about the various medical professionals who were part of helping Jaquline.  She is considering orthopedic medicine because “I want to help people like my doctors and nurses helped me.”

The picture is from the one week when she had matching purple and pink camo casts (the nurse even put glitter on one).

Although she hasn’t been climbing many trees lately, she’s back to 100% and has learned a lot through this adventure.  She taught us about her faith in God.  She never even considered that her bones wouldn’t grow back straight or that she wouldn’t be able to “work” her thumbs and wrists.  She always trusted God and never quit trying.

I learned about the faith and determination of my Princess Jaquline.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Capturing Places

June 24, 2017

Captured Places

Have you ever walked through a place you loved so much you drew scale drawings of it and built models?  I love architecture.  I plan each building and area – in most of my stories, even down to the plants and what color flowers are in season!

Once, I walked through a house with my parents.  This house was three levels with huge seat windows in every upstairs bedroom – the architecture of its large, open, bright rooms inspired the castle rooms in The Princess and the Swans.

The drab gray stone buildings in the K’vell training complex in Web of Deception came straight from a series of compact, functional, barracks-style buildings on an old property we explored once.

The Ann, Mary, and Susan Mysteries take place in my second-favorite childhood home.  The inside of that house is exactly as it is in real life – including the wrap-around second-floor deck and the loft-lookout bedroom on the third floor.  I added the aviaries, fields, and barn the way I wanted them (the only real-life outdoor structures in the stories are the dilapidated pool and the little next-door house) but even most of the bushes the girls hide in are on the real-life property.

In the Adventures of Long Tail, the chicken yard is exactly as we had it in the house Kimberly and Lucas were born in. (But the time stamped in those books is just before Jaquline was born.) Even the hen house is set up exactly as we had ours with the 4-level biddie brooder and incubator on top.

For me, it helps to visually see places in my worlds.  Lego bricks are great for scale buildings!  I even make maps and blueprints for most worlds and buildings so I never mess up my directions as I bounce from one storyland to another.  Continuity is very important to me (my perfectionist nature, I guess, but seriously… if Long Tail’s hen house was different each time, or if Ethan went down a different corridor each time to get to the Observation Deck, wouldn’t that be odd?)

Writing also helps me capture the best of places I remember (or dream up).  If I love a house, shed, barn, park, or yard layout, it will be in a book someday!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Home School Doggies

June 19, 2017

Home School Doggies

Many dogs have lived with us for various amounts of time (we’ve fostered quite a few).  Each one leaves their unique pawprints on our hearts.  Since dogs tend to single out one person to bond with, each one “belongs” to one of the girls for their stay.  They sometimes refer to our dogs as “home school doggies” because they are part of our “home school family.”

Rebeccah had a cute Black Mouth Cur named Lady.  Lady loved the girls so much that when they were doing school, she would wiggle around their feet and periodically whine.  We’d say, “Lady, hush!  They’ll come play in a bit.”  She would wag her tail (which wagged her entire body in waves) and give us “the puppy look.”  Lady weighed about eighty pounds and was still less than a year old!  One of our neighbors said she looked like a deer! (She jumped like a deer too; dead stop with a 5-foot fence in front of her? Boing! She cleared it no problem.)  She was friendly and loved everyone – especially other puppies smaller than she. (Since she was bigger than most of the children, I’m sure she considered them puppies.)

Sheba thinks she is the queen (our family dog who was 7) so she just slept on the couch during school work time.

Lady would climb in Rebeccah’s chair.  She thought she was human.  Rebeccah would occasionally dress Lady up.  One day I hear “Mom!  Come look at your newest student!”

Around the corner from the kitchen I spy our big human-sized dog standing with her back feet on the floor, left paw on the table, and right paw in Rebeccah’s hand with a pencil between her toes.  (The DOG IS ON MY TABLE!  But I laugh instead, because that look is hilarious – and yes, we caught it on camera!)

“Mom, Lady is doing my schoolwork today.”  Rebeccah says. “I hope she’s good at fractions!”

I love the fact that happy interruptions (like an impromptu photography session, discussion of dog’s feet and toes and how different they are from human digits, or recess to rub their dog’s belly) can pop up and get included in their day.

By the way, we were doing “bookwork” after dark (about 7 in winter) because the day was just too pretty to stay inside. (We’re in Florida; winter = 60 degrees at noon) There is so much to be learned from events in our daily lives.  We watched different Florida birds that morning and the explorers stumbled upon the deer thicket in the wild deep brush behind our house.  So we looked up birds for identification and researched deer. (Surprisingly, the movie Bambi has a lot of truth about deer in it.)

One stretch we had bookwork “paused” while we spent extra time loving on a litter of puppies and their momma until each found their “fur-ever” home.  The girls named and loved every one of those pups.  They researched and learned a lot about life from those little sweeties.

Today, our two family dogs observe “bookwork” each in their own way (none as active a participant as Lady was):

Prim (one month shy of 3 years old) curls at Christina’s feet, yipping if her master’s bookwork takes too long.

Sheba still sits like a queen (she’s 10) on the couch, pretending she’s old and weak. (But open the gate and she’ll rejuvenate to 10-month-old-puppy and sprint outside so quickly that only Daddy or Kimberly can grab her!)

I’m so thankful for the “home school doggies” God puts with us to learn from and smother with love.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Question For Inspiration

June 17, 2017

Question for Inspiration

We were all snuggled up, sprawled across the big fluffy bed in our pajamas, about to start reading the third bedtime story on the cool winter night.

“What will it be?” Begs Jaquline for the umpteenth time.

“Patience!” Sighs Kimberly.

“Curiosity killed the cat, you know,” Christina laughed, repeating something her grandmothers and some aunts had occasionally said.

“Why?” Jaquline asked.

Everything stopped.

“Why do you say curiosity killed the cat?” Jaquline clarified.

“Mom, why do you and grandma say that?” Rebeccah asked.

I was stopped on the bed.  I had a storybook in my hand.  This time, I didn’t know why.  I’d never heard of any fable, story, or family tale which had that saying, even as a line somewhere.   So, I invented one.  I told them why the birds say, “Curiosity Killed the Cat.”  They liked it!  The girls insisted I write it into a real story. (Type it, actually) Christina drew the illustration and colored it.

This fable-style story owes its existence to a question asked by a little girl.  For me, inspiration often comes from the simplest of things!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time,

~Nancy Tart