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Time Marches On

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HI01beach


Time marches on.

No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, time does what time does and that means moving always forward, never backward.

You can't stop it, you can't slow it down, you can't do anything but move with it, and sometimes this is easier said than done.

On Thursday I will turn 39. I've always prided myself in embracing my age and gracefully accepting the fact that I am what I am, but I have to admit I'm not too happy to see 39...she's a little too close to 40 for my taste.

How is it possible I'm on the doorstep of 40? I remember turning 21 and it seems like yesterday that my roommate at the time took me to a liquor store so I could buy my first bottle of rum. Turning 25 seems like mere minutes before. Turning 30 seemed like it was just moments ago and turning 35 was nanoseconds before now. Alexis was born when I was 29...In June she'll turn 10. Where in the hell did all this time go?

So to be honest all this is just making me snarky. I've been snarky all week, and I plan on being snarky right up to the instant I turn 39 and then I'll gracefully accept the change and move on, because as Alexis told me, "it's the circle of life" and I just needed "to get on with it already"! She's a smart one my girl, an old soul trapped in a nine year old body, and she speaks logic on a regular basis. And as straight forward as that all seems it also has me thinking...

Two years ago I finished up my first novel. I've got story after story started that I need to finish, but this story hit me and kept at me until I got it all down on paper. I let Darlene read it as I went along and she encouraged me every step of the way; Jamison's mom read it and enjoyed the story; and my dear friend and tattoo buddy Leann read it and was on board too. I wrote it, but despite that blaring flaw, it's actually a good story. I promise. It's called Different Dishes: A Life Undiscovered and here's the general idea:

Have you ever felt lost?

As Emma Morgan sits on her front porch in the middle of the night on her 39th birthday she knows that something has to change. She doesn't know what she is looking for, but she knew it wasn't this. She never expected to still be sitting on the side of the mountain she grew up on so many years later, never having traveled and seen the world as she expected. She wasn't living life, she was simply existing.

She had left her dreams behind when she married her husband Michael, with whom she was now having a lot of problems. Emma had made his dreams a reality, while she shoved her own to the back burner as women often do. Michael had wanted a staid life without excitement and adventure, while Emma dreamed of traveling and seeing the world. Emma was certain her life would always have a spark. That spark was lacking.

On the doorstep of 40, sparked by her realization that her life was not what she wanted it to be, after years of doing what is expected of her, Emma decides to stage her own little rebellion to find out what she is missing. With the help of her best friend Delia Drake, her substitute grandfather Henry McClellan, her sons Jackson and Christian, her photo blog and friends she makes along the way, she begins a journey that she never thought she would travel. Emma starts doing things she has always wanted to do and one of the first things she does is make an overdue trip to see Delia in California.

With her instant friendship with a very British William Halstrom, who saves her from a delusional stalker in an airport after an unexpected layover in Colorado on her way back from seeing Delia, her life begins to shift. William gives her the opportunity to travel and take pictures as she has always wanted to do. Along the way William not only is her friend, but when her marriage to Michael ends with his admission he has been having an affair with a woman in Portland, the relationship between Emma and William begins to change. They are finally free to explore feelings that are no longer forbidden. But will it last?

A mystery sends William back to London and Emma is crushed. She decides to travel to Ireland where she immediately feels at peace. She meets people during her journey that help to shape her new views on life. While part of her heart is breaking, another part is awakened. She decides that sitting around waiting for William to explain his absence is not in her best interest. As she meets new people, and loses some of those close to her along the way, she learns that in order to enjoy life you have to simply go out and take chances.

How does William's seeming betrayal turn Emma's journey upside down? When William comes back and explains why he left will she forgive him? Should she listen to her heart or should she run away?

So what's that got to do with me?

First off Different Dishes will be coming to a Kindle/E-reader near you in the near future. This story is supposed to be out there, I feel it in the marrow of my bones, so I'm releasing it myself. I'll tell you more about that as it comes along, including specifics and my new writing webpage and such, but it should be in the next few weeks and it would be a fun Christmas present for that woman in your life who is looking for her own path. (Hint. Hint. Wink. Wink. Nudge.)

Anyways....

There's a lot of me in Emma, or maybe a lot Emma in me, like the parts about not being where I thought I'd be and being disappointed in some of the turns in my life and I myself am hitting 39 in a few days so here's what's going to change...

There's going to be a lot more doing, and a lot less thinking about doing in my life. You only live once...I'm tired of sitting around waiting for things to happen, so I'm going to make them happen!

I'm putting out my novel. I'm traveling to Ireland before I turn 40 and I'm taking Darlene and Alexis with me (and maybe Leann too if I can convince her!) I'm going to finish up my Master's degree and then I'm going to go wild and get a PHd just because I can. I'm going to get Botox on my forehead because I want to. I'm going to bury my toes in the sand more often and have a few more mai tais while I'm there. There will be more manicures and pedicures, more girl's nights out, more everyday adventures and less everyday doldrums. I'm going to kick depression's ass, start swimming more, worrying less, living life. I'm going to enjoy the world and stop watching it pass me by. They say art imitates life, well in this case, life is going to imitate art! Emma has nothing on me!

So all of that to say...

Watch out world...I'm coming...and you'll never know what hit you!

Why We Homeschool

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For those of you that don't know we chose to homeschool Alexis long before she was even born. I had the idea brewing in my head before Jamison and I even met and luckily he agreed with my assessment. There are many reasons, but the main reason was the deteriorating state of our school system's actual educating processes and the increased amount of violence. I simply wanted to make sure that Alexis got a well rounded education in all subjects, most importantly science and math, which have been watered down to practically nothing in some cases, and was able to do so in a relatively stress and violence free environment on a consistent basis.

When you tell people that you homeschool there are two reactions that you normally elicit, most people think it's really cool and ask a lot of positive questions or the other reaction you get is where people give you a terse "Oh!" and look at you as if to say "You're one of THOSE people! Bet you have your kid locked up in the basement unsocialized!" The first group are fun to talk to, the other group I've found it best to ignore them and move on. Some people just will not be pleased no matter what you do.

There is a misconception for some that all homeschooled children are kept sheltered, have no friends, don't participate in any activities outside of the home, etc. This isn't true in most cases. For instance Alexis is in a local Girl Scout Brownie troop, does various programs with other kids her age in arts, science, physical activities, etc. She attended several day camps during the summer along these lines and she is also very involved with our church's youth program.

We go out and do activities often. We're out and about all the time and Alexis is a very social child. She's never met a stranger and will talk to most anyone, unless they are mean toward her. Around our community people know Alexis and call her by name. She has that type of personality that makes it easy for her to like and be liked by anyone, and she has several very close friends she spends time with, along with acquaintances as well. Last Saturday she did an art class at the local library. This Saturday she will be working on her Science badge with some of her fellow Brownies. She's quite the little social butterfly!

There are also a lot of collaborative homeschool groups out there if you're interested. We don't utilize these groups, because it isn't our thing, but it is a good resource for those who might not feel comfortable with one subject, and excel at another. While someone in the group is helping the children with math, you might teach another group story writing. Most of these groups are called "Co-ops" and you can usually find one in your community or one nearby. These groups can meet once a week, once a month, etc. It depends on the group itself. Some are religious based, some are not. You can usually find one that fits your needs if you are interested in such things.

A lot of people assume that religion factors into the decision to homeschool and for us that is not the case. I let Alexis get her religious education at church on Sunday and we leave it at that. She knows the basic principles that are important in life and that's all that matters to me. She knows to treat others as she wants to be treated, she knows to help those who might need help, she knows that she is a very lucky girl and not all children are. She also knows not to make fun of people and not to be mean. She is one of the most empathetic people I have ever met, if you're sad she's sad with you, if you're happy, she'll be happy as well, if you're in pain it upsets her and she wants to help you alleviate that pain. She worries about people. She has a huge heart. I have friends that do fit religious education into their homeschool classes and that works for them and that is how it should be...Your program should fit your needs. For us though religion in class isn't a factor.

This year we're going further in depth in many branches of science, including chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, botany, marine biology and geology. We are continuing our study of French and Spanish which is a lot of fun. We also are reading kid's versions of literary classics, along with some of these stories just straight up. We're doing more indepth story writing, art and music, history, geography, money, time, nutrition, anatomy, critical thinking, note taking skills, etc. Alexis is also learning to type. To round out each day Alexis writes a daily journal entry that tells about her day, something she'd like to do, something she just did, etc.

I also am a firm believer in hands on, on site, learning. If you're studying sharks, why not go to the aquarium and take a look at an actual shark? Studying George Washington? We're lucky enough to live near a lot of history surrounding Washington DC, Baltimore and New York isn't really that far away either. So for Mr. Washington we went to Mount Vernon. What better place to learn about one our founding fathers than his own home? Scientific experiments are easily done at home, or out in nature, or whenever you can observe or touch what you're studying. Reading about something is great, and it's part of the overall whole, but seeing it in action is in my opinion an imperative tool as well.

But homeschooling is expensive some argue. I disagree with you there. I will admit I buy a lot of books each year, because we are very much book people, but I find a lot of material for free online too. You would be amazed what is out there. Of course you have to look at these sources with a critical eye to ensure the information they are presenting is indeed true or factual, but it isn't too hard to distinguish the ones that are what they should be, and those that are not.

This year, though I hated to see it close, Borders going out of business was a rare opportunity for me to afford some of the books I had always wanted to use in our schooling. I also like to give Alexis computer and Wii games that are fun, yet educational. Kids can learn a lot while having fun without even realizing that they are learning, which in some cases is a good thing.

Is homeschooling for everyone? No, it isn't. In order to homeschool you have to have a lot of patience, a lot of preparation and will power to go the distance. Are there bad days homeschooling? You betcha! But most days are good, or at least that is how it is for us. Alexis is comfortable enough with me, as I am her Mom, to test her boundaries some days, so it's important to ensure you stick to what needs to be done. Homeschooling also gives you the flexibility to move on when your child is ready to go to the next step and to take a little extra time on certain things that your child might have a bit harder time understanding. Homeschooling is a perfect way for you to allow your child to learn at their own pace.

In short? Homeschooling works for us. Will it work for you? That is up to you to decide.

Murphy's Law In The Morning

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Murphy's Law states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" and boy this morning was that ever true!

I had an appointment this morning at 8:15 on the other side of the county to get some yearly physical tests run. I set my alarm to go off at 6:30 with that new Joe Jonas song that I equally despise and can't stop listening to all at the same time. Somehow my iPod came unconnected from the dock during the night and said alarm never rang. I woke up at 7:30, which was actually the time I needed to LEAVE not wake up! Somehow I got up, got dressed, brushed my teeth and hair, put myself together, even threw on a little makeup, and got out the door in 7 minutes. Yay me!

I hate the feeling of running late. I'm an early bird in terms of arriving somewhere. I always have been. The stress of knowing you're going to be late is something I can't handle. The stress of knowing I am leaving someone waiting really bothers me. I'm too OCD and I like to do things on my own terms, and my terms so happen to be arriving on time or early if possible. So that feeling of dread settled on my shoulders and pressed down with malicious glee.

I was driving (Very fast!) down the interstate, luckily coming across no cops along the way, listening and singing along to that stupid Joe Jonas song on loop, because apparently I'm a glutton for punishment (Damn catchy tune!), happy with the time I was making, when I had to switch roads. The road that was the next path on my little morning jaunt was a standstill parking lot. Hello Murphy! I'm not pleased to see you and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

I took the first exit off of this road and immediately called Jamison to find a way across country that would allow me to make it there without having to get back on to the parking lot extraordinaire. I knew of one short cut, but it would make me have to get back on parking lot road and I knew there had to be another path. He found one and luckily I walked in the door at 8:14. I had an overwhelming sense of relief!

After my first appointment I had a second one that I needed to go to, which luckily was two buildings up from the building I was currently in. Unfortunately Murphy decided to come back and sit on my shoulder again because they didn't call me back until 15 minutes AFTER my appointment was supposed to be, so that crushing feeling of stress moved back on in. Lovely. Murphy was on my last nerve at this point.

Somehow she managed to finish my appointment and I walked in to my next meeting with yet another minute to spare. I heaved another sigh of relief, signed in and sat down to wait for my 9:15 appointment. Murphy being ever the "helpful" little law that it thinks it is came back in terms of them running behind. I wasn't as overwhelmed by this because I had no where specific to be after that other than running by the store and then returning home to do school, and neither of those expected me to be there at a specific time.

After a few minutes of playing Crazy Quilt Solitaire on my iPod to help me ignore the really bad programming they had on their waiting room TV, I realized that the poor woman next to me was shaking. She was 7 months pregnant and had just taken her blood glucose test. The test wasn't settling well and she was trying not to throw up. With this one I just wanted to flip Murphy the bird. I mean come on! This poor woman was already miserably pregnant, still having day long nausea from her little bundle of joy and then Murphy comes in and throws her a curve ball. Murphy kindly go home!

I began talking to the lady next to me to distract her a bit. She was a fabulously nice lady, who simply felt like dirt and my heart went out to her. We had a nice little conversation, despite the fact she really just wanted to hurl. It was one of those things I like to call a drive by friendship, because you'll most likely never meet again, but you are there in the moment, and I hope I helped her in some way, though I know she really felt miserable, but I really do think I helped a bit. A bit is better than nothing. I wish I could have done more for her. She went back right before I did to have her blood work done. I felt joyous for a moment because I wanted to smirk at Murphy and yell "Is that all you've got? Come on!"

I was called back several minutes later to do my blood work and I took a sip of water from a bottle in my purse not realizing it was "strictly forbidden" by the facility. I wanted to roll my eyes at the woman, but I simply put the lid back on my bottle and told her I hadn't realized that was the fact and the incident passed without drama. Murphy rearing his ugly little head again, but I nipped him in the bud. That'll teach Murphy to mess with me!

Luckily my blood tests went off without a hitch and I made my way out to the parking lot about 2 minutes later. When I got in my car, I saw the poor woman that I had spoken with hunched over in the parking lot trying not to hurl. Her mother was easing her toward the car, and you could see the nausea had definitely not left her. At this point I wanted to run Murphy over with my car. Murphy I have decided should be banned before noon at least, if not all together!

Lesson learned? Murphy sucks and you shouldn't tempt him once he gets rolling or he'll only make it worse.

What I really want to say to Murphy? Eff you, you vile monster! Go back to the hole you crawled out of and stay there!

Maryland is a Hopping Place

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