Birthday Week for Littlest

Boots kept Sparkles company during the bad days

Boots kept Sparkles company during the bad days

Sometimes this past week seemed really long yet the days flew by in a blur. Two occurrences made the days pass slowly. My husband had meetings most of the week that kept him from spending his lunch hour with us. I felt a bit lonely without him and forgot to eat lunch a couple of times. Sparkles also had a really bad week with her uc pains, which exhaust her. She went back to bed several days and slept this week. She recovered a bit by Friday and was able to enjoy a mostly pain free weekend.

flat tire and grey day

flat tire and grey day

On Thursday I managed to run over a roll pin and end up with a flat tire. Fortunately, I managed

to pick up the pin near our home. At least I wasn’t stranded anywhere. Oldest learned how to operate a jack and change a tire (life skills lesson, yay!!! ). Luckily, the tire did not need replacing and only required a simple plug to keep on rolling.

Littlest turned six on Friday! My husband only worked a half day so he could spend the rest of the day with the birthday boy.

Pikachu cake

Pikachu cake

Sparkles baked his cake and my husband did the decorating. This year Littlest wanted a Pikachu cake. I have no idea what a Pikachu may possibly be or if I am even spelling it correctly. All I can say is it is a cute little yellow critter. Littlest was delighted with his cake and presents. The older three spent the rest of the evening helping him build marble runs. Sparkles even gave him 20161028_192507-640x457twenty dollars of her own money. She told me she felt bad that she didn’t feel well enough this week to make him a card. She can be a total sweetheart to her brothers at times.

On Saturday morning we took everyone to Best Donuts for a treat 20161028_172908-480x640and then went down to the Mennonite grocery shop. Sometimes the deals are nice but not always. We do like to get our cheese from them because we can buy it in full size blocks and save money. Amish and Mennonite cheese is often better than anything available in the local grocery store anyway.

Later, my husband took me out for a ride in his sweet Mustang. I rarely get to ride in the classic so the afternoon ride was a real treat for me. We drove through Scott county, Switzer and img_20161028_161819-640x640Stamping Ground before returning home. I practiced taking pictures from a moving vehicle and asked questions about the engine and

exhaust sounds. The Bluegrass Region is beautiful and I was delighted to ride shotgun and gaze at the rural landscape…to me that is about as perfectly romantic as a moment can get. Just us, cruzin’ on a country road.

20161028_183441-480x640We took the younger three to some trunk-or-treats over the weekend. Oldest stayed home and watched episodes of Sherlock. We decided he was old enough to start watching certain shows and movies. He and my husband have been watching some classic horror films together lately. They watched Nosferatu and several of the classic Frankenstein movies before watching Young Frankenstein together. I watched some of those with them but when they opted for Jaws and Christine I found something else to do. Oldest now wants to read Jaws and Christine so I told them he could when he finishes The Three Musketeers.

20161025_153009-640x480We were tired by Sunday morning and opted to sleep in and continue looking for a church community next week.

I spent the weekend experimenting with some bourbon ball recipes. I can make  the old fashioned recipe just fine but am trying to make a buttercream version now. The first batch I made did not have enough boozy goodness so I modified a second batch. I am hoping these will turn out better. I also 20161024_083635-480x640started a new knitting project today. I plan to make a mesh shawl with a beaded fringe and maybe a matching floppy hat. I’ve only completed about ten inches so far…another fifty or so to go.

The book I am reading this week is pretty good, Dinner with Buddha by Roland Merullo. I love the road-trip genre anyway. But this story is about a retired (forced to retire from the writing industry) North Dakota boy from a successful New York City career, traveling the 20161024_111940-640x480West with his brother-in-law, a Russian-Tibetan Monk, just sounded so intriguing to me. I’m not a Buddhist, nor about to become one but the insights the writer provides are fascinating. I identify a bit with the main character in his attempt to make sense of spiritual matters, daily life and reconciling our place in the bigger picture of the sufferings of humanity.

20161025_132038-480x640Homeschooling chugged along nicely this week. Littlest wrote his first words in cursive and passed his first spelling words. In history he is still working through his first book but I plan to take his first notebooking experience nice and slow keeping it fun and light. Oldest sat at the computer with him this week and helped him navigate around Clever Dragons (an education computer game that goes through 8th grade). Pretty soon he will be able to sign himself in, use a mouse and keyboard all by himself and start learning to use the computer.

20161028_184509-480x640Middle Boy is at that stage where he tries to see what he can get away with. He tried to skip some of his writing assignments this week. I guess he thought I wouldn’t notice so he spent part of his free time on Sunday finishing his work. Oldest and Sparkles did the same thing when they were nine so I wasn’t surprised at all.

Sparkles managed to get most of her work done despite her illness. She likes to get up early and get her school work out of 20161027_132412-640x457the way. This week I am encouraging her to just sleep in and let her body heal. Healing matters more than long division.

Oldest pulled excellent marks on his exams this week so I told him he could get his work done as he pleased for the week. The memory work for last month was the poem Invictus 20161025_154008-640x480by William Ernest Henley. Littlest even started reciting it with us by the end of the month. The older three recited the poem perfectly. November’s poem is Death, Be not Proud by John Donne. The kids do not care what poems I choose in the future for them to memorize so long as it is not by Shakespeare.


Sunday Journal: Field Trip Week

img_1355-628x640I really should have tried to keep a daily diary this week. So much happened that I am sure I’ll miss capturing most of the week. I’m considering writing a nightly draft this week for the next weekly post…maybe.

This week we vacationed and crammed our days full of field trip opportunities. Sparkles turned eleven on Monday and Oldest turned thirteen on Tuesday. dsc02999-640x480I’m now the parent of a teenager. I asked Oldest how it felt to be in his teens and he replied that he does not feel any different…just his “same old self.” I let him know that particular feeling about getting older doesn’t really change no matter the number of years.

20160919_133922-457x640On Monday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. We found a path we had managed to miss the first two times we went and explored the rain-forest center too. We saw the new baby giraffes and watched the red panda roam around. Littlest (or was it Middle Boy?…not sure) wondered if we would see a rabbit. Just as soon as I doubted there were rabbits at the zoo we found a black floppy ear bunny in the barnyard area. Figures, right? Littlest wore his Batman cape most of the day (the week really) and got a bit miffed a few times when 20160920_115939-480x640people asked him if he was Batman. He would either ignore the commenters or inform them that Batman isn’t real and he was just wearing a costume. Some of the creatures in the nocturnal building did react to Littlest’s bat cap. Maybe it was the ears sticking up…who knows? One particular owl just followed him from one side-to-side. Even though it was amusing it also kinda creeped me out. I like the nocturnal critters, it is one of my favorite places to visit at the zoo. The sand cat is my favorite just because she is so cute. The place is also covered in poetry about the animals and night-time. The homeschool-mom nerd in me loves the poems…

dsc02832-640x480Later, in the afternoon, we went to Chamoda’s Candy Cafe. If you are ever in Cincinnati or near by then stop at this wonderful candy store. They let the kids sample nearly everything and I believe the store motto must be “try before you buy”! The chocolate was very tasty and they have the best gummy candies I’ve ever tried. My husband doesn’t even like gummy candy but he did enjoy Chamoda’s gummy bears. The kids were in candy heaven and Sparkles got extra treats since it was her birthday.

20160924_144028-457x640On Tuesday we headed out to Mammoth Cave. On the way we stopped by Best Donuts in Lawrenceburg. We treated Oldest to an extra donut for his birthday. One of the owner’s treated me to a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon roll…best ever!!! We then loaded back up and traveled to Mammoth Cave and arrived in time for the 9:30 a.m. tour. I always said that I would never-ever go in Mammoth Cave. Traveling deep under the earth far away from sunlight is dsc02815-640x480frightening to me. I found enough courage to trek with my family 250 feet below the surface through narrow tunnels and dark caves. I did it. Never going back. I’m not gonna fuss about it too much since one of the tourists was a ninety year old lady from Alaska! Her younger husband (all of seventy-three years) complained how difficult it was to keep up with her. I’ll bet they have an dsc02806-640x480interesting story. Littlest wore his bat cape and a few people asked if he was scouting for a new Bat-cave. He posed by the “do not touch the bats” sign. He thought the cave was okay but that it would have been more fun if he would have been allowed to climb on the rocks off the path…the rangers were not crazy about that idea.

20160923_111006-480x640After leaving Mammoth Cave we went to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. We looked around at the corvette displays and I slept through the history video. The most interesting (and sad) part of the museum was the display about the cave-in that happened a couple of years ago. They marked the floor where the sink-hole developed and the edges of the cave. I’m glad that I experienced the cave-in simulator after touring Mammoth Cave!

20160924_132118-480x640Wednesday and Thursday were spent here in Frankfort. The Kentucky history center was very nice and had several interactive exhibits that the kids enjoyed. After ward we went on a tour of the Old Capitol which is actually the third capitol building…the first two burned. If you have kids the tour is way too long! We were pretty excited when the alarm suddenly went off and we had to leave! We then went to the Kentucky Military History Museum which is housed in the old arsenal…a really cool looking fort overlooking the river. I liked the military museum and was surprised to see Santa Anna’s epaulettes! We then went up to the old graveyard and visited Daniel Boone’s grave. His grave gives a nice view of the capitol building and valley. Right over the stone wall you can dsc02885-457x640still see the path where ammunitions were brought from the arsenal (the military history museum) to the river below. We met a fella (from Buffalo…or Boston…I don’t remember but one of those big cities that begins with a “B”), he told us that Boone’s bones may not be buried there at all. Some say parts of his remains are still in Marthasville Missouri. Anytime I hear talk about moving bones around it reminds me of the movie Poltergeist…which gives me the willies.

dsc02906-640x480After visiting the graveyard we drove up to Fort Hill which overlooks downtown Frankfort. Military fortifications were built there to protect the pro-Union government during the Civil War. We plan to visit again when we get to the Civil War in our studies this spring. The park has several walking trails, earthen fort embankments, an 1880’s cabin and exhibit/visitor center and living history programs. We are looking forward to learning more about the Fort Hill.

dsc02790-640x457The next museum we visited was the City Museum. Here we learned all about the history of Frankfort. The first drawing of Frankfort was done by a British POW during the War of 1812. We learned about the assassination of Governor Goebel, that Frankfort is a mispronunciation of Frank’s Ford and on and on…The City Museum and the Military dsc03020-640x480History Museum both tie as my favorite museums in the city. They are both kinda laid back kid friendly places. Our last touristy visit in Frankfort was to the state capitol. Wowser!!! The building and grounds are beautiful and opulent. It really is something to see…

dsc02927-640x457Friday we toured the Ale-8-1 factory in Winchester. Middle Boy loves Ale8, he could hardly wait until Friday. We got to see some of the bottling process, smell the secret formula and enjoy (some of us anyway) a fresh cold bottle of Ale8! Littlest wore his bat cape again to the delight of nearly everyone he encountered. He resignedly explained he was not 20160922_114348-480x640Batman. “I am Sam, not Batman”, was a bit of a mantra this week. We then went home and crashed for the day tired from all of our fieldtrips and explorations this week.

Saturday was a nice visit with our friends Cindy and June. I love them both to pieces and never visit with them often enough. Shannon and I cooked up a great big ham dinner, we feasted and had a great time. I made an onion-less version of hashbrown casserole. I had to make the recipe up while shopping at the grocery store. The recipe calls for a can of cream of chicken soup but since one of our guests is allergic to onions and Sparkles’ Ulcerative Colitis doesn’t always get along with onions I had to start reading labels to come up with alternative ingredients.

Alternative Hashbrown Casserole

mix together in large bowl:

1 tablespoon chicken base (Better Than Bouillon)

I can evaporated milk

I pint sour cream

1 teaspoon pepper

melt one stick of butter in 13×9 pan while preheating over to 350 degrees Farenheit

add one thawed bag hashbrown potatoes to mix in bowl and then mix in two cups shredded sharp cheddar

pour potato mixture into pan with melted butter, top with a handful or two of shredded cheddar, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes

remove foil and broil until lightly browned on top

If you do not have Ulcerative colitis or an onion allergy then add a small diced onion and two diced cloves or garlic with the hashbrowns. Or just use the cream of chicken soup recipe on the internet. Also my ingredient volumes are approximations…I didn’t measure anything.


I chose the name At the Well because I identified with the woman at the well. She was an outcast in her society and faith community. She bore her sins publically, fetching her water during the heat of the day avoiding polite society. Still, Jesus spoke to her. He shared powerful words with her. I wonder just how much she understood him. I’m not sure that I understand…not in depth anyway.

I love well shared words. The words of Jesus were beautiful enough to send me to a monastery centuries after he walked among us mere mortals. To this day my favorite words are those that belong to Jesus. I love poets because they share living vibrant words. My mind constantly swims with words. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I drown in words. I have to write the words in my head or I go a bit mad. I need to write as much as I need to breathe.

My first writings on this blog were violent. I needed a place to speak my thoughts and feelings about being raped by my father. I bottled the rage, shame and fear all my life. I could not talk to anyone and I’ll never be able to speak to a therapist so don’t bother mentioning. If I could actually speak to anyone about the violation it would be to my husband. But how could I possibly talk to him if my words were too painful to share vocally. How do I tell him that sometimes my mind goes to dark places when we are together…a darkness that is not his responsibility to bare.

So, one night I let the rage loose, released the shame and exposed my fear in writing. I poured my soul onto a blog post and felt release. I put in painfully descriptive writing what my father had done to me and my emotional pain. Once the words that burned me were put down I felt lighter…free. I didn’t feel so lost and my days got better. The relationship with my husband improved. I healed.

Later, when we decided to homeschool I started blogging about the experience. When I joined a curriculum review team they asked me to take my personal posts down. I should have told them to take their judgmental selves elsewhere. But I did not. I caved because I wanted to be accepted. And only whole healthy people are accepted in certain circles. So I picked my shame back up and deleted my posts. I engaged in other forms of social media as required by the team. Later, I joined another review team and was told how and what was permissible to write. For these teams I had to build a persona that fit their mold.

So, At the Well is no longer my primary writing space. I’ve thought about this for nearly a year or so now. I no longer identify with The Woman at the Well and this space has come to symbolize a painful chapter I am ready to close in my life. I will continue to maintain this blog (especially for my professional contacts) and post occasionally (for my husband to share on his social media). But my personal writing, poetry and art will not be here.

If you want to tag along pop me a note and I’ll send you a link to my new home. Otherwise, goodbye and I give you all my love. Thanks for reading and sharing.

I’ve left the well in pursuit of…

Sunday Journal: Just Another Week in Paradise

Littlest and his history book.

Littlest and his history book.

I just drank a pina-colada the size of a rainstorm so this might be a bit rambly. You’ve been warned.

Well, the drink was mostly pineapple juice. Vitamin C for the day (or possibly the week)–all taken cake of. I indulged in my weekly cocktail too early tonight. Now that the massive (maybe not that massive) storm has passed I would like to go on my evening walk. But since I might be too sociable with the neighbors due to my rum infused beverage…maybe I’ll just stay in for the evening.

poetry tea time

poetry tea time

Yesterday my husband and I got to go out together for the first time alone since December. That was nice until I got sick. So that kinda sucked. Our time together was great albeit short lived. Maybe we can do that again sometime before Christmas (without the sickness this time). He did get me a totally cool bulletin board made out of rulers while we were out. I plan to use it as a vision/intuition board in the school room. A little place to post prayers and ideas and such.

birthday cake

birthday cake

Sparkles made and decorated a birthday cake for Shannon (my husband-her Daddy) this week. While she prepared the cake I made the cream cheese icing. He opened a few gifts and we had a nice little family night.

Sparkles decorating cake

Sparkles decorating cake

I’m gonna brag on Sparkles for a moment. When she first started taking her medication she complained constantly. I thought this was going to be a real battle with her. However, she completely took charge of her pill regimen. She learned which pills (10 pills daily plus a fiber powder) she needs to take and started taking care of herself. I wasn’t expecting this much independent self-care from her so soon. I still check-up with her daily just to make sure…but she took responsibility just a bit quicker than I anticipated. We will

Sparkles making cake

Sparkles making cake

all be glad once she goes off the steroids since they affect her moods and eating habits but otherwise we are very happy with her body’s response to the medication. She isn’t so miserable anymore and her pain is clearing away. We meet with her doctor again in a couple of weeks for a follow-up and I hope to get more of our questions answered about UC.

School is swimming along just perfectly. Sometimes we have

Littlest learning piano from Oldest

Littlest learning piano from Oldest

some drama filled moments but overall the year is off to a great start. We are quickly approaching our first project week and I’ll have to get the shopping done for everyone soon. I figure the project week will either be great or a total disaster…probably a combination. Our first of five terms is nearly completed. Are we “behind schedule?” You bet! Do I care? Not one bit!

dew drop on Sunday morning

dew drop on Sunday morning

On a personal note–I actually prayed this week (the Jesus Prayer with my old Rosary) and even read a passage or two from the Bible (from Job—as if I even have the grace to understand that book!!). I’m not really sure that I addressed my prayer to the Christian concept of God but I broke my stubborn silence anyway. I’m still finding my way in the murkiness but at least

little bug with my macro lens

little bug with my macro lens

the red-hot pissed-off anger has passed. My husband and I did discuss looking for a church after the Labor Day holiday. I assured him that wherever he and the kids decide is best I will follow along and promise to be polite. I want my family to be happy and the older three have all expressed to me their need to return to church in their own way. Personally, I am open to exploring other avenues of expressing spirituality. Our world and all of the cultures that exist herein are so vast and fascinating; I have the desire to explore them all.

It is amazing out there…



TOS Review: Laurelwood Books and Discount Code


The Crew recently received the opportunity to review several interesting homeschooling products from Laurelwood Books. This company has so many wonderful things I had a hard time choosing. Since I could not decide I opened the decision up to my kids and they were the most intrigued by the Latin readers and accompanying workbooks. They chose Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, Reader II and Workbook II.

Olim%20Workbook%20II_zpszzeq8ehsOlim, Once Upon a Time in Latin is a series of six Latin readers and workbooks. These are designed for grades two through five or thereabouts. No prior Latin experience is required for any of the readers. They also have a Latin Derivatives book that can be uses alongside the Olim series. Latin grammar is taught in the workbooks with simple exercises like matching, fill-in the blank, and vocabulary exercises in English and Latin. Every few lessons there is a Digging Deeper” section in the workbooks. These sections go over derivatives, verb tense, infinitives, cases and other bits of grammar. Answers are provided in the back of the book. The front of the workbook has a pronunciation guide and list of Roman Numerals. The teacher note explains the importance of endings in the Latin language.

The workbook also had a “Digging for Treasure” section for each story. These were marked by a shovel and contained clues for decoding a Bible verse. At the end of each story my daughter was able to learn a verse in Latin and translate it into English herself.

Olim%20Reader%20II%20_zpshwndtjygOur reader contained three stories written first in English and then in Latin. Nearly every page had vocabulary words, grammar key and translations in the margins. The stories also had several lovely illustrations that worked as visual aids much like other early readers. The front of the book contained a helpful “how to use this curriculum” page, pronunciation guide and list of Roman Numerals.

Our reader contained two stories from the bible and a fable. My oldest son is the most interested in learning Latin and he 20160705_152753 (480x640)expressed interest in obtaining the rest of the readers to use alongside his Latin course (Visual Latin). As a seventh grader the workbooks are too easy for him but the readers would be useful for extra translation practice. My daughter worked through several of the lessons and reader on her own. She liked that the works was not hard and she enjoyed the ability to read and translate a story in Latin. I liked that the lessons were short enough to fit our Charlotte Mason approach to education

Other than helping her to pronounce a few words the curriculum



was mostly hands off for me. The reader always directed her to the proper pages to be done in the workbook after reading a section. She always managed to get her lessons done in fifteen to twenty minutes each day.

I thought this was a great curriculum for an early introduction to Latin.

The folks at Laurelwood Books have generously provided a discount code for my readers.  For a 20% discount just use the code blogger 121. The code is good until August 15 2016.

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For more reviews of great products from Laurelwood Books please click the graphic below.


Journal: A Wedding, Beatersville and Ember Days

the feast

the feast

I had the perfect school week planned out. Naturally, the days did not work out as expected. Sparkles came down with a nasty illness on Tuesday and still does not feel well this evening. Just as we thought she was getting better, down she would go again. Sparkles has managed to keep food and liquids down only a couple of the past six days. Sometimes she seems to feel just fine so long as she skips most foods. Right now she can tolerate bananas and those full meal drinks.



By Friday we thought Sparkles should see a doctor. Something is going on. One doctor said their earliest appointment was in July and another practice refused to see her until they had her immunization record in hand. Seriously? There was a time when people who practiced medicine actually gave a damn. Frustrating! I reached out to the local homeschooling community and neighbors asking for doctor references. No one I spoke too receives medical care in this town. Isn’t that crazy?! Hopefully, I’ll get Sparkles into a physician’s office this week in another town.

the happy couple

the happy couple

This week we replaced our poetry tea time with our Medieval Ember Day feast. The recipes we tried were very tasty and most likely the healthiest food we’ve eaten in a long time!!! Sparkles came downstairs to look at the feast and sample some pottage before going back to bed. Our school week was a little slow without Sparkles. I worked on some lesson planning for July and with Littlest on his reading lessons.

The weekend was busy. We drove to western Kentucky for our sweet niece’s wedding. Sparkles made the trip okay but I worried

Littlest asleep at the wedding

Littlest asleep at the wedding

about her constantly. She and Littlest rested on me during the wedding ceremony. The next day we went to Louisville for Beatersville. Always fun to look at the cars and it is a great event for people watching. They moved the venue to a new location and it just wasn’t the same. The industrial section of a large city just doesn’t have the same vibe and many of our favorite cars were not at this year’s event. Boo-hoo…

I spent today putting out flowers in the yard. My husband pulled out his smoker and made smoked meatloaf and garlic. He even



wove one of the loaves in bacon. Yum!!! It was so delicious as lunch we’re having it again for dinner.

This week begins our summer session of school. The kids are working through lessons from ArtAchieve, Composition and Poetry from Blackbird and Company and math. Maybe we’ll toss in a science experiment or two. All of the neighborhood kids are on summer break so I thought shorter school days would be best until late July. Our read-alouds will be based on Kentucky history for now…well, and Les Miserables. Hopefully, Sparkles will feel well enough for school this week.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers