The Best Lasagna Recipe (It’s Not Healthy!)

I can’t take credit for this lasagna recipe. It’s literally called World’s Best Lasagna Recipe on All Recipes. However, I can take credit for making it several times and it turning out really good. I’ve also changed the name from “World’s Best Lasagna” to “Best Lasagna Recipe” because they’re not making lasagna on Mars. I bet Elon Musk thinks he will.

best lasagna recipe printable pdf
Here’s a cute printable I made with dimensions unlike any sheet of paper that exists on earth.

Now, I don’t follow this recipe exactly. For instance, Step 1 says to use a Dutch oven. I don’t even know what the heck that is. Is that what the witch used in Hansel and Gretel? I use a regular old pan.

Here’s another difference: I let the lasagna sit in the fridge over night before baking. Tastes way better. Plus it’s nice to break up all the slave work that goes into making a lasagna.

Also, 3/4 lb mozarella cheese? Maybe on one layer.

best lasagna recipe
These two are about to spend the night in the fridge.

Want to be extra fancy? Once I went to Target and realized they didn’t have sweet Italian sausage (why would they?) So I bought ground pork and made my own sweet Italian sausage using 1/3 of THIS recipe. Again, the lasagna tasted way better. I’m sure using fresh and fancy ingredients would make it taste better all around, but this is already a time consuming dish.

If you make this lasagna, let me know and invite me over.

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“Why I Quit the Library” Comic Series: The Toilet

Why am I suddenly working on a library comic when I should be finishing my novel? Here’s why: in my mid-20s, I got a job at the city library. I thought it was going to be an awesome, chill job where I could just sit on my butt and read books. Nope. Turns out, a lot of weirdos go to the library. Most of them don’t even go there for the books. They like to sleep, clog toilets, cuss at you, steal DVDs, accuse you of trying to rape them, etc.

Anyway, I decided not to let my stories of working at the library go to waste and that’s why I am working on a library comic. I guess that doesn’t explain why I’m not working on my novel. Truthfully, I’m in a novel-writing-rut and need something else to do in the meantime.

library comic funny librarian clogged toilet

I’m going to “go there.” Forgive me. I’ve seen a lot of clogged toilets in my day. I’ve walked in countless stalls and seen the result of slobs who can’t simply raise their foot up and flush. Here is why this clogged toilet is seared into my mind: when a toilet is clogged, the water rises, but doesn’t go down. The addition of water from the tank should dilute the contents of the toilet. In other words, the poop to water ratio shifts from 1 part poop /6 parts water to 1 part poop/12 parts water. There was no dilution with this clog. It honestly looked like six people (specifically 400 lb men) took turns on the toilet without flushing. I think this library comic is going to come back to haunt me.

If you’re curious how this story ended, I got the custodian/maintenance guy and let him lose five years off his life. I think the patron who informed me of the clog expected me to do something right that minute. If I tried flushing that toilet, I had no doubt it would explode in my face and give me Hep-B.

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Don’t Let Your Blessing Be Depressing Poster

Did you forget to instruct and discipline your child today? This was one of those “ideas” that came to me and I just had to make it. I tried to go for the WWII propaganda-style poster. I’m terrible at design. My brain doesn’t “get it.” Composition, layout, color choice, etc are techniques/skills that don’t come to me naturally. I also have little drive to get better at them. Anyway, I looked at a lot of posters for inspiration and ideas.

Despite this particular style choice (vintage propaganda), I’m not trying to be misleading or manipulative. We really do need to instruct and discipline our children (in the Lord).

instruct discipline child verse bible ephesians 6:4

My son was a reluctant model. I also had my husband take a photo of me for the woman. I had to tweak the waistline and face to make her look more retro. From the photo, I traced the outline of the characters and water colored them, then went over some areas with ink. The sunburst shape was also done with watercolor. I scanned everything into the computer and rearranged using Photoshop.

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Workmanship and Worship: My Ongoing Sanctification

“Blue Pomegranate Tree” by Me

Have you ever gone through your kids’ stuff and came across some awful toy you bought at the dollar store? You take-in its crudeness for a moment, wondering if you should donate it or just trash it. Then you recall how your child played with it during the short car ride from the dollar store back to your house, but he immediately lost interest once you got home. You feel like a fool. As you shove it into a garbage bag with six other dollar store toys, you think, “I wish I had those dollars back, so I could buy something decent.”

“Fun for a whole 5 minutes.”

There’s a certain type of post on social media that I refer to as a “Dollar Store Post.” For the cost of 2-3 minutes of my time, I can post something dumb to Facebook and get 10-20 reactions and maybe a comment or two. These posts are forgettable and fruitless, which is why I’ll post another one in 48 hours. Then, years later, Facebook will remind me of the post and I will think, “That was dumb. I wish I took the time to write something decent.”

I checked my Facebook memories for the sake of this post and this was a year ago today.


At the start of the year, I started feeling convicted about my half-hearted “works” especially in regards to my writing and other creative projects. Social media deceives us (or maybe just me) into thinking it’s okay to be mediocre. Mediocrity gets clicks and “likes.” Now that I think about it, complete garbage gets clicks and “likes,” too. We see it in journalism: click-bait headlines and useless celebrity gossip. If I can get more “likes” for a slapped together post, why would I bother slaving away over a novel that may only sell fifteen copies (I’m not including the pity copies purchased by family and friends)?

There was a time, not too long ago, where publication was typically reserved for quality works, edited and reviewed by professionals. Now, any (forgive me) bonehead can be published. We have an instant audience with instant reactions to whatever we post. You may not know someone personally that agrees with you, but there’s a stranger two counties over who will give you a “like.” Collect enough of these strangers and you start feeling pretty good about yourself. The ease of publication combined with attention-on-demand has led to an ever growing landfill of useless posts and information.

God Loves Beauty

Lately I’ve had the feeling, a conviction, that if I had to put it into words it would be, “You need to stop adding to the pile” and even further, “You can do better.” I re-listened to an encouraging sermon my pastor gave earlier this year, Blue Pomegranates. God loves beautiful things as evidenced in creation and His command for blue pomegranates in Exodus 28 (something not found in nature). It sounds random, but if you listen to the sermon, it’ll make sense. God loves beauty for the sake of beauty. It brings Him glory.

As our pastor wrote (based on Ephesians 2:10), “…we are created in Christ Jesus for creative, passionate, beautiful good works.” This sermon doesn’t just inspire me to make good things, it makes me want to create beauty in everything I do for His glory.

ephesians 2:10 sanctification

But then I hit a wall. I could spend all day writing, painting, creating. The energy and desire is there, but often times, when I imagine bringing my “good works” before God or using it as an expression of my faith that others may see, I feel unqualified. Who am I to use my writing or art to glorify God? I didn’t go to art school. Who am I to even write this post? I’ll probably butcher scripture somehow and sound like an idiot.

I’ll just stick to my Dollar Store Facebook posts. That’s what people want to hear from me.

Worship and Trust

But, with every round of sanctification I’ve gone through, God has provided. Last week, He provided a second encouraging sermon, Heart of Worship, which I view as my personal “Part 2” to the Blue Pomegranates sermon. My worship is to trust in Him with the talents He gave me. It’s foolish (and consequently, fruitless) to think that I am my own or that my talents and time are my own. It’s not my glory (or “likes”) I should be seeking. And while I know God will continue to sanctify me until my death, I will never be perfect nor will anything I create be perfect. As my pastor outlined in his sermon, “Worship God with your time, your treasure, your talent, your heart… All your time, treasure, talent is His–worship is trusting Him with it.”

1 peter 4:7-11 sanctification

Therein lies my sin. I don’t always trust Him. “Sure, God might be glorified, but what will they say about you?” It’s disturbing when I clear my head of all the noise and see what I am doing: suppressing “good works” out of fear that they (1) might take attention off me (2) might bring negative judgement toward me. I deny God the glory and worship He deserves to protect myself. Lately, the things I have felt inspired to work on have been out of my comfort zone and not what others are used to hearing from me. Topics I can’t hide behind jokes and sarcasm. I have never really been someone who cares all that much about what people think of me, but that’s because I tend to act like a caricature of who I think I ought to be. I am in Christ, therefore I am a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17] so it makes sense that some personality traits that I considered defining or things that I used to enjoy are no longer defining or enjoyable. In some cases, they’re sinful. It’s time to trust God and leave my old ways behind.

When I repent and look to Him–His promises, character, and commands–the idea of creating things to glorify and worship God excites me. As it says in Ephesians 2:10, I am His workmanship; His poema or poem. It’s an honor to be an ambassador for Christ, to reveal His work in my life through what I create. Sure, I may not create something perfect that will appeal to the masses, but I was created through Christ Jesus for “good works” and my life ought to be an example of His good work in me. I may not be able to do better right now, but God has provided the time, resources, and the ability to get better. Yes, editing my own work is torture and discouraging, but it has always led to better work. So I will do it with the reminder that my worship is trusting in Him.

With all this in mind, I will daily put my trust in Him (with constant reminders and risk of failures) to choose to create beautiful works for His glory.

Pray for me.

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Our Weekly and Daily Homeschool Schedule

homeschool schedule

It’s worrisome to write about our weekly and daily homeschool schedule because I don’t want to give the impression that your schedule ought to look like my schedule. What my family does is not the standard. My aim is to show you what we do and explain why we do it. If you choose to homeschool, hopefully this post will give you some ideas of how you can arrange your own schedule efficiently and effectively around your family’s needs.

Our Week

My husband designed a weekly planning sheet for me. On the weekends, I set aside some time to prep for the coming week. Because I pieced together our curriculum, I don’t have a set schedule already done up for me. The curriculum we’re using next year has a pre-planned schedule (thank goodness). Honestly, I’m sick of planning.

homeschool schedule weekly
Do you like how I left that pen there? That’s the extent of my “artistic” photography skills.


This week I introduced a new math lesson on Monday. For the rest of the week, my son does worksheets. Some days I have him do only half a worksheet (they’re double-sided) and the rest of our time is spent practicing with manipulatives or reviewing old concepts. This is a great way to break things up. On Friday I wrote “pg 197 or Test.” If by Thursday I don’t think he has the concept down, I’ll have him do another worksheet. Math U See is a mastery program so we’ll linger on a lesson until he “gets” it. You’ll also notice the “boring level” of each worksheet below. If one of the worksheets is extra “boring” (e.g. 15D), I make sure that the rest of his work that day isn’t as spirit crushing.

math u see alpha
Math U See worksheets and manipulatives.


For writing, my son works through Handwriting without Tears. He does one page a day (sometimes more if he’s willing). He does not like writing so emphasize quality over quantity. I wrote (easy) and (hard) on my schedule next to each page assigned. If a writing page looks easy, then I make sure I sneak in more writing practice in his other lessons. If it’s hard, I try to show mercy where I can.

homeschool schedule writing without tears


Reading comes next. I am using the Charlotte Mason sight and sound lessons using the Bob Books. If you’re interested, here is a YouTube video of the lesson. If I’m not mistaken, this method is similar to what you find in the curriculum All About Reading. This week we are working on the book “Lolly-Pops.” On Monday, I introduced the new sight words using the CM method then I have my son read the story. Throughout the week I will review the sight words, have him re-read the story, work through the Bob Book Workbook, and re-read some other stories he’s already gone through. As with math, I try to make sure I don’t have my son doing too much as far as worksheets and writing.

bob books charlotte mason reading
(L) Charlotte Mason reading lesson using Bob Books (R) Bob Book Workbook

Social Studies, Science, and Supplementary Lessons

The final rows on my schedule (marked in yellow) are activities we do together as a family. This is how I sneak in extra school work during the day. I use a unit-study curriculum called Five in a Row. We focus on one book a week. This week it was Papa Piccolo. Each unit has a list of discussion questions, activities, and lessons that cover all subjects, including art, language arts, science, and social studies. Some lessons are simple. For example, in this unit, I ask the kids what they think the role of a father is. How was Piccolo a good father? Or, for science, I explain and demonstrate what peripheral vision is. I do not do all of the lessons. You’ll notice I wrote down a list of numbers on my schedule notes. I number every lesson in the unit and choose the ones we’ll do.

homeschool schedule five in a row fiar papa piccolo
Lunch time activity: making flags for Italy and Venice (where Papa Piccolo takes place). Of course, the kids would rather look at a spider.

For science and social studies, I have other workbooks and lessons (some of which I purchased through Teachers Pay Teachers). We do not do Five in a Row every week.

Our Days

When I was on the fence about homeschooling, I had visions of me teaching for 5-7 hours a day and I thought, “Heck. No.” Then I found out homeschooling takes a fraction of the time you would normally spend in public or private school. On an average day, it takes an hour for us (this is not including the Five in a Row lessons we do at lunch or other educational activities I sprinkle in throughout the day). We do have our bad days (and sometimes bad weeks) when things take longer or don’t happen at all. I think back to my days in public school and how there was always a few crazy kids in class who wasted everyone’s time. Well, with homeschooling, we all get to be that crazy kid once in awhile.

homeschool schedule complementary colors
Five in a Row lesson about complementary colors. I used a lesson I purchased through Teachers Pay Teachers to supplement the lesson.

I follow the Charlotte Mason method of short lessons/tasks: 5-10 minutes per subject. For example, I may do five minutes of review of a math concept using blocks then have my son do five minutes on a worksheet. Then we move on to five minutes of reading together followed by five minutes of hands-on reading lessons.

Most of the time, we start around 10-10:15 and finish around 11-11:30. Again, this time does not include lessons we do as a family, crafts, and other learning-through-play activities. My son also spends time doing ABC Mouse online (spending his tickets haphazardly on hamster tubes).

homeschool schedule abc mouse
Not sure how that’s comfortable.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility it allows you to have when you desperately need some flexibility. For example, if someone is sick or having a bad week and the last thing you want to do is sit at a table and fight through a lesson, take it easy and read together. Do school through play. Put on an educational show, narrate what you learned, and then ask your child to do the same. Education isn’t just about completing worksheets and having results you can see or touch. Learning something new doesn’t always require us to produce visual evidence that we’ve learned.

Anywho, I hope our homeschool schedule encouraged you (or at least satisfied some curiosity).

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Proverbs 6:6-11: Go to the Ant, O Sluggard…

Proverbs 6:6-11 sluggard ant poverty wisdom

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Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum: The Carolyn Way

There are approximately 4 pootillion homeschool curricula out there (is it annoying to use curricula or should I switch it to curriculums?). Finding the “right” one can be a daunting task made worst by the fact that curricula can be expensive. Hopefully I can help you narrow down your choices.

I don’t actually own that shirt.

Research Teaching Philosophies/Methods

If you are overwhelmed by the hundreds of curriculum choices out there, it may help to read-up on education models and choose one (or a few) that sound like a good fit for your children (and you). Familiarizing yourself with education models and philosophies could also help eliminate some curricula. Here are a few breakdowns of popular teaching philosophies and models:


  • Use of three learning stages, referred to as the Trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric)
  • Language focused (learning comes from words rather than images)
  • Systematic/rigorous study
  • Follows a strict chronological reading plan
  • Lots of memorization early-on
  • Video Explanation HERE

Charlotte Mason

  • Use of “living books” rather than text books
  • Emphasis on the cultivation of good habits
  • Narration
  • Copy work
  • Short lessons
  • Liberal education (arts, music, nature study)
  • Video Explanation HERE


  • Hands-on learning
  • Mixed aged teaching/classrooms
  • Children are free to choose learning activity
  • Unstructured time
  • Video Explanation HERE


  • Threefold learning process: Thinking, Feeling, Doing
  • Early childhood focus on doing
  • Middle childhood focus on the heart/feeling
  • Adolescence focus on the mind (Discernment, Judging, Thinking)
  • Emphasis on well-rounded education
  • Hands-on approach
  • Block learning: study one subject for 3-4 weeks then rotate
  • Video Explanation HERE


  • Child-led/interest-led learning
  • Learning happens through life experiences
  • Children’s natural interests are nurtured
  • Days can be structured, but not around a curriculum
  • Video Explanation HERE

There are more education models and philosophies than these, but I just wanted to give you a taste of the similarities and differences. For more information, including pros and cons, I recommend this article: Homeschooling: Which Model Is Right for You?

Assess Your Child’s Learning Style

There are three main learning styles: kinesthetic (tactile), auditory, and visual. Knowing your child’s dominant learning style can help fine tune which curriculum you purchase as well as assist in what kinds of manipulatives, workbooks, and other supplementary materials can aid in teaching. Keep in mind, your child may be great with all of these styles or appear to stink at all of them. I think my son does well with visual and tactile (definitely not auditory).

“Draw me, Mama!”

Here are a two Learning Style quizzes: Homeschool On and Scholastic

That said, I personally wouldn’t rule out a curriculum or workbook simply because it doesn’t match your child’s dominant learning style. There are manipulatives and supplementary resources that you can use in conjunction with your curriculum to make things more visual/auditory/tactile.

Also, I recommend taking some time to observe your child in a learning setting. Can your child sit and do a worksheet? For how long? Test this a few times since kids have good and bad days. How self-motivated is your child? What distracts him/her? What calms him/her down?

Research then Narrow Down

When I first started researching education, I loved the idea of putting my son in a Montessori school. But as I began to research and use Montessori methods at home, I was put off by “child led” education. While I do adjust my curricula and teaching methods based on my son’s strengths and weaknesses, I knew he would end up a total bonehead if his education followed a child-led model. Once my husband and I decided we would homeschool, I started looking into the Classical method. I read a Well Trained Mind. Classical education sounded great until I actually imagined my son and I doing it, day in and day out. When I imagined attending weekly Classical Conversations meetings and teaching other peoples’ kids, I thought, “This will annoy me in two weeks.” Some people love that and are great at it. I am not one of them. Then I began to research the Charlotte Mason method and that method, for the most part, seemed like a great fit for our family. It excited me.

I’m not trying to promote one particular learning style over the other. Instead, I want to encourage you to choose a method that works for (and excites) you and your family. Some of these methods and philosophies may sound great, but if you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in the promotion of ideas and their results, only to find out it doesn’t suit your family. Think of it like a hairstyle. Might look great on that gal over there, but it’ll make you look like a freak.

I cut my own hair.

Be honest with yourself: what are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you like going to events? Do you enjoy reading out loud to your children? How much structure do you want/need? I don’t like going to events, but I love structure…my structure.

If you don’t have the time (or interest) to read a lot of books, I recommend going to YouTube or doing a basic search of reviews of each learning model/philosophy. Also, keep in mind: just because someone gives something a bad review or a positive review, their lifestyle, personality, values, etc, may not be like yours.

Religious, Secular, or It Doesn’t Matter

I personally don’t feel the need to use a Christian curriculum. However, I think you should do what’s best for your family. You know your day-to-day life better than anyone. If incorporating religion into your schooling will assist you in teaching your child about the Bible, then go for it. Or, if you’re doing devotionals, prayer, etc, throughout the week, then you may not feel the need to narrow your choices to only religious curriculum. There are Christian-owned companies that produce secular curricula as well. For example, Math-U-See is owned by Christians, but the math curriculum is completely secular. Sonlight is Christian, but they created a secular option called Bookshark.

So, for example, a Google search of “Secular + Charlotte Mason + Homeschool + Curriculum” will narrow your search results quite a bit.

Choose a Curriculum

Here was my thinking: Charlotte Mason was the best fit for my family. My son prefers hands-on, visual learning (not a great listener). I value good literature and a well-rounded, liberal education. My son needs short lessons with lots of outside time and movement. He would enjoy it and so would I. However, I decided I would not strictly follow this learning method and would instead borrow from it.

homeschool curriculum five in a row explode the code eclectic

For Kindergarten, I went “eclectic” and used the Charlotte Mason method for reading, Explode the Code (great for visual learners, illustrations are not visually overwhelming), Five in a Row (literature based unit study with focus on art), Handwriting Without Tears (GREAT for visual learners), and Math-U-See (visual and tactile, but not overwhelming).

For first grade, we will be using Bookshark (Charlotte Mason inspired) and Math-U-See.

Here are a few examples of curricula and programs that are either strictly or loosely based on each learning style:

Classical: Classical Conversations, Veritas Press, Well-Trained Mind

Charlotte Mason: Simply Charlotte Mason, Ambleside Online
Charlotte Mason Inspired: Sonlight, Bookshark (secular version of Sonlight), My Father’s World

Montessori: Because Montessori is more of philosophy, there aren’t curricula out there that are strictly Montessori. However, there are plenty of online stores that sell Montessori related materials: Montessori Outlet, Montessori Activities from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Waldorf: Oak Meadow, Christopherus Homeschool Resources

Unschooling: Who knows…

Christian Curriculum: Abeka, Five in a Row, Bob Jones University

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The Technical Side of Homeschooling with a Charter School

homeschool honeychurch

If you are interested in homeschooling with a charter school, hopefully this post can give you a bit of insight into the process. There are quite a few charter schools in California that have homeschool programs. We are currently enrolled with Compass Charter, so this post will be about our experience with them. Compass Charter’s homeschool program, called Options, is completely virtual although they will host field trips, graduations, and random get togethers.


Enrollment is completely online. First you create a login, then fill out an application. If your child was previously enrolled in other schools, you will need to provide their transcripts. You will have to upload two proofs-of-address (utility bill, government mail, etc) and your child’s birth certificate. You can opt out of immunizations, but you have to sign a waiver. I took a screenshot of my son’s medical record online and the school accepted that. They also want proof of a kindergarten wellness check and dentist visit, but you can also opt out of these as well. Once your application is submitted with the necessary files, you get to sit back and wait until they e-mail you a “Master Agreement.” This usually occurs two weeks before school starts.

Educational Facilitator

When you are enrolled with a charter school, you are assigned a credentialed Educational Facilitator (EF). Your EF is there to answer your questions, advise you with curriculum, process orders, collect work samples from your child, etc. Your interactions with your EF depend a lot on your own needs and the preferences of your EF. Once a month, we are required to do a virtual meeting with our EF where we discuss my son’s progress and show her some of his work samples. These calls usually last 30 minutes. I rarely e-mail our EF. Other parents are in constant communication with theirs.

Work Samples

At the end of every month (aka Learning Period), we have to upload two work samples per child to an app called Seesaw. The type of sample alternates every month. One month the school asks for a language arts and a math sample. The next month, social studies and science. For kindergarten, I upload at least one worksheet from each subject. I usually “overachieve” and will upload 2-3 samples and occasionally a video of my son reading to give our EF a look at his reading progress.

seesaw app homeschool honeychurch compass charter
Seesaw App: It’s easy to use. Two samples a month (and yet people still complain).


At the end of the week, our EF e-mails us a link to an attendance form on the site ParentSquare. We check off which subjects we covered each day (you have to do something related to math and language arts every day). You also must log how many minutes were spent doing physical activity and the specific activity your child was doing. I hate this part because my son’s entire life (aside from sleep) is physical activity. (Side note: ParentSquare is also where the school posts news, updates, field trips, etc. This information is usually sent via e-mail on Mondays).

parentsquare form attendance activity log homeschool
ParentSquare Activity Log.


Each student has access to $2,800 in funds to be used towards curriculum, supplies, field trips, etc. Funding cannot be used towards religious-based curriculum or supplies. 25% of our funds with Compass must be used towards core subjects (language arts, math, science, and social studies). There are also quantity and cost limits for certain materials. For example, you are only allowed (I think) 25 books per semester. Certain supplies, like pencil sharpeners, must be under a certain dollar amount. The school provides A LINK to these guidelines. Also, your EF will keep a spreadsheet of your spending.


Compass has a lengthy list of approved vendors from which you can buy materials or go to for services (e.g. gymnastics, tutoring, classes). We have not used a service vendor yet so I am not familiar with that process. If you want a vendor added to the list, you can make a request with the school. I haven’t done this before, but new vendors are approved every month. For a list of Compass’ approved vendors CLICK HERE.

Material Requests

It’s a tedious process, but to get your curriculum and other supplies, you have to manually enter the product name, number, price, etc, into an online form. This form is first approved by your EF (if something on your list is not acceptable, your EF will contact you) then it’s sent to the vendor department who then sends it to the vendor. Once you receive your materials, you have to make sure everything is there, sign the packing slip, and send a photo of the packing slip to your EF as soon as possible. In the image, you’ll notice a column “Cons?” This stands for Consumable. If a material is consumable (e.g. crayons, paper, certain books, clay), you keep it. If it’s non-consumable, like a tablet or an instrument, the item must be returned to Compass when you un-enroll from the school.

material request form compass homeschooling with a charter school
Material Request Form.


For kindergarten through second grade, there is optional testing with a program called Istation. The results of this test are not reported to the state and are only used to give your EF an idea of where your child stands and if he or she is progressing. While it is optional to do the Istation tests, the school has a tendency to nag you if you decline. I had my son do it because I figured, “What’s the big deal?” Istation is garbage. It takes forever. The animations interrupt you. It’s awful. Anyway, as far as grades, I have to grade my son on a 1-5 rubric for all subjects. His EF confirms whether she agrees with the grading or not. Report cards happen at the end of every semester.

homeschooling charter school istation
This is Istation. Absolutely evil.

Benchmarks/”I Can” Statements

Part of what you will grade your child on is whether he or she is reaching and/or excelling in the benchmarks for his or her grade. Your EF will send you a link to the school’s “I Can” statements. I personally find these helpful (although some of them seem arbitrary). I print them out and check them off as we go. For Compass Charter’s benchmarks or “I Can” Statements CLICK HERE.

homeschooling with a charter school i can statement benchmark
Sample of kindergarten benchmarks for Compass Charter. Apparently using a computer or tablet to publish your writing is required.

Anyway, I think that covers most of the basics when it comes to the technical side of homeschooling with a charter school. These standards and methods vary from school to school. For example, some charter schools require in-person meetings with EFs or the amount of funding may be more or less. I wrote this in the hopes that it would ease someone’s mind about using a charter school to homeschool. It can be overwhelming jumping into a process like this without knowing what to expect. There’s a lot to get the hang of, but once you do, it’s well worth the initial hassle.

My next homeschool post will be on how I determined which curriculum to use.

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Proverbs 6:16-19: There Are Six Things That the Lord Hates

Back to illustrating Proverbs. I would love to focus my energy on getting better at drawing and painting. Truthfully, I don’t want to be that good at it, but I would like to learn some techniques. I actually like rough, somewhat sloppy illustrations. If you look at Quentin Blake, for example, his illustrations aren’t crisp and perfect like something you’d see in a Disney film. However, I do think his art is perfect. So…

Part of the reason I like water color is I like the blotchiness of it. The colors run outside the lines. With this illustration below, it’s a bit “cleaner” than I normally like to go for. I drew each image with pencil, water colored it, scanned it into the computer, then assembled them all in photoshop. In Photoshop, I added the text and used a watercolor paper as the main canvas.

proverbs 6:16-19 six things the lord hates abomination haughty eyes lying tongue

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Homeschool Tricks from Someone Who’s Homeschooled for 7 Months

You’ve probably gathered from the post title that I am no expert when it comes to teaching. My intention is to give you guys some tricks that are mostly useful for when your kid/turd is having an off-day. As you’re reading this, please know that our formal, dedicated school time usually lasts an hour (my son is in kindergarten). Although most of these tips are for combatting bratty behavior, most of my school days with my son are not bratty. So, maybe I am an expert.

homeschool tricks carolyn honeychurch
“Smile, son.”

Trick #1: Leave the Room

There’s a good chance your kid is going to “act up” more around you than they would a teacher. They know your weaknesses and they’re going to try to exploit them. There are days when my son wants to sulk and pout simply because I’m sitting there. It’s a performance and I’m the audience. I noticed that if he has to do independent work (e.g. math problems, copy work), the performance starts up. I get it. It’s boring. Sometimes I want to whine when I’m pulling clothes out of the dryer. One technique I learned is to quickly say, “I need you to copy this sentence. I’ll be back. I have to get my coffee/go to the bathroom/check on something.” In reality, I just leave the room and come back in 3 minutes. Most of the time, the work is complete by the time I come back. Sometimes I have to go in and encourage him to finish (“Oh, just two words!”) and sneak out again to “check on something.” If I’m in the same room, he whimpers and it takes five days for him to write, “The cat is fat.”

Trick #2: Play Dumb/Let Them Teach You

Kids get insecure or frustrated when school work is a challenge. My own thoughts have sabotaged me, so I understand the need to shift my focus from feeling sorry for myself and to a “greater good.” Sometimes “playing dumb” looks like me reading a book to my son and pretending to struggle with words/sounds that he knows or is currently learning. He’s always happy to sound them out for me. If I’m introducing a new math concept, we work on the first worksheet together. He does one problem, I do the next, but I will often struggle to find the appropriate blocks or I’ll choose the wrong ones. Make sure you don’t go too far and enter the realm of comically dumb. I once went overboard and my son thought it was fun and also wanted to be dumb.

homeschool tricks carolyn honeychurch
“How you said that? How you said that word?”

Trick #3: Have a Checklist

I’m satisfied when I get to mark something off a list and apparently kids are, too. I keep a schedule of what we’re going to do each day. I started posting my schedule on our cork-board in the office and if my son is being particularly impatient, I’ll show him he only has three tasks. Then I let him check them off as he completes each one. He gets a bit more pumped when he can mark something off. This would also work on a whiteboard or just a sheet of paper.

Trick #4: The Earlier the Better

This may not be true for everyone, but I’ve noticed if we wait until after lunch to do school, it is always worse. Our magic hour is 10 am. I’m reminded of my days working full-time in an office and how work was tolerable before lunch, but torture later in the afternoon. Still, I know people like to take advantage of the flexibility that homeschooling allows (I agree, it is a luxury), but I personally like a schedule and I think children respond well to a predictable routine. Even though kids are the ultimate bringers of chaos, they are happier and less anxious with routines. I read that on the google.

Trick #5: Don’t Do Anything Too Fun Prior to School

“Hey, I see you’re having a blast. Why don’t you stop and come in here and learn to read?” My husband and I let our son play video games. He is not allowed to play them before school. There have been mornings in the past where I was like, “Sure, go ahead and play Mario Odyssey for half an hour.” Bad move. And that’s my fault. Back in the old days, I would wake up early, make coffee, and play Fallout or whatever Zelda game came out at the time. Then I’d have to do work. I wanted to cry. Why do that to my son? Anyway, it’s easier to drag your kid away from a coloring book than a swimming pool.

Trick #6: Put on Instrumental Music

My son likes video game soundtracks. The only downside is if it’s “boss music” he gets worked up. Music helps me chill, too. Still, if your child is easily distracted, pay attention to what distracts them and remove it from your school area beforehand. If my son so much as sees a crumb on the table, that crumb is suddenly a wonderful toy. I don’t always use music, but I think it helps pep things up when he’s doing independent work or a craft.

Trick #7: Be Honest

My son likes to say, “I’m scared!” whenever he doesn’t want to do something. Sometimes I say, “Me too!” And it’s true. I get worried when I’m going into a task knowing that the one I’m working with is gearing up to be a monster. He did this today and I replied that I was scared, too. He calmed down immediately and we had a great school day. There are times I’ve told my son that being disobedient or having a bad attitude makes it hard for me to teach. I get grouchy or sad when he’s being a turd. We usually come away from these chats ready to work together as a team. However, I make sure I only address the effects of things he has control over (e.g. his behavior). I never say things about homeschool in general being tough. All that said, I try to tell my kids that they can be sad, grouchy, hungry, thirsty, bored, or whatever, BUT they don’t get to rant and rave. Just let me know how you feel and I’ll help. Don’t kick me in the chest.

Trick #8: Mirror Back Their Annoying Behavior

Sometimes kids don’t “get” how they’re sabotaging themselves. I have tried to explain to my son that the sooner he does his work, the sooner he can go play. In the heat of the moment, many kids (and adults) don’t listen to reason. One day I was on the verge of plucking my own eyes out and juggling them in a fit of insanity. Then an idea came to me: I told my son to tell me to write my name. I told him to count how long it takes me. I wrote my name correctly and quickly. It took five seconds. Then I told him to tell me to do it again, but this time I did all the annoying things he does when he doesn’t want to do his work. He started counting and a look of horror came over his face as I twirled my pencil, fell out of my chair several times, referred to the task as annoying or stupid, etc. This was actually one of the biggest turning points in schooling for him. I should also add that I did not mock him or over-exaggerate my impression of him. I tried to keep it exactly as he was acting. He needed a visual of the time he was wasting rather than just hearing it from me.

homeschool tricks hover carolyn honeychurch
“Can I see?”

Trick #9: Don’t Hover Too Much

I enjoy watching my son work, but it sometimes annoys him or makes him uncomfortable to have my big head casting a shadow on his work. I’ve almost punched people for hovering while I was working. Sometimes I do have to watch how he’s doing things (like with handwriting), but I remedy this by pretending to do my own work at the table or tidying up the office while I watch him. I try to alternate between sitting next to him and observing from afar. Constant hovering is annoying and discouraging.

Trick #10: Do Hands-On Crafts/Lessons as a Family

If there are any lessons/activities/crafts that I can do at the breakfast table with my son and daughter (she’s two), I try to do that and keep these activities out of our normal 10 am school time. This makes “school” go faster. Social studies, science, and art normally have hands-on activities that I can print duplicates out for my daughter to do one, too. If you have a set time for doing school, I would recommend using that time for the necessities (language arts and math) and if you can sneak science and social studies into other areas of the day, do that.

Trick #11: Occupy Younger Siblings

I read a parenting book and the author referred to toddlers as the “weakest link” in the family. It’s true. I’m giving you permission to let the little ones watch TV or a show on the iPad. They won’t die and their brain isn’t going to turn to foam. I watched TV growing up and look at me. I have a blog! There are loads of educational programs for your kids to watch. Or just let them watch stupid garbage once in awhile. Another way I distract my daughter is I will get out some toys that we don’t let her have ready access to (play doh, kinetic sand, etc). Or I will set up her doll house really nice. She can’t resist when the doll house is setup nicely and all the rooms are decorated. Now that she’s getting closer to turning three, I just tell her we’re doing school and to go play. I know. That’s super abusive.

Make sure you put some water and Goldfish crackers in the box.

Trick #12: End School if Your Kid Is Being a Nightmare

There have been a handful of occasions where my son is resisting school to the point of throwing a fit and I knew it was a lose-lose situation. It’s tempting to lose my temper in these situations, but if I do, he wins. I see this in adults. They want a fight and the best thing for you to do is take control and walk away. When my son is in such a bad mood, I shut the books, put things away, and tell him to leave the office. But, I always tell him we are going to finish; at some point today, he will circle which one is bigger: the dime or the quarter. If I don’t end it, the lesson can drag on for hours and be the start of a bad habit. Plus I’ll end up in prison. By ending school, I set the terms and place the blame on his shoulders. No exaggeration, within 15 minutes, he’s ready to do school and he’s in a good mood.

Let me know if you try any of these tricks and whether they worked out. If so, please send me $5 for every time it works. It’s the least you can do.

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Life Class: Busyness

These are my notes from Life Class taught at Barabbas Road Church. It was on “busyness.” I’m not going to post all the notes I took (cuz they’re MINE!), but I did want to share some of my favorite points. Coincidentally, I bought my 2020 planner this week. It’s the Day Designer for Blue Sky. I tried other planners, but this one is the best (for me). I wanted the brown leather-looking one, but it didn’t have the hourly breakdown for the days. Wah.

Busyness Is a Heart Issue

I. Signs That You May Be Too Busy:

(1) You feel guilty when you try to relax
(2) You can’t enjoy quiet (have to be distracted all the time)
(3) You seldom feel satisfied
(4) Always pushed by fear (FOMO!)
(5) You live for the reward of success

II. The Solutions to Busyness:

(1) Prayer – Pray over your schedules/to-do lists (e.g. ask for wisdom; ask how I can love God and others in how I spend my time)
(2) Praise – Count your blessings
(3) Prioritize – Make the best use of your time. Ask yourself: what is most significant in God’s view? Use the Word of God as a reference.

III. Other Great Points

– Remember: there are seasons in life. Manage your expectations based on the season you’re in.
– Christ offers us rest [Matt 11:29-30], joy [John 15:11], and an abundant life [John 10:10]. Don’t seek counterfeit ways to have rest, joy, and/or abundant life (brought up alcohol as an example)
– Be a good steward of these things: Time, Talents (spiritual gifts), and Treasure (finances)
– Encouragement: Don’t be afraid to look for encouragement. As a church body, we’re in this together; look to others for help. If someone is better at something than you (e.g. budgeting), then ask them questions.
– You will bear more fruit if you focus your time on a few things rather than spreading yourself thin over many things
– You’re never going to learn Spanish 😔

IV. Homework

Make a list of everything you do and want to do. Write down your to-do list, your dreams, everything. Don’t edit it. Be honest. Pray over this list. Organize it by priority. Begin crossing things off. Try to narrow down the top 3 (or so) things that you should do daily. Don’t let things further on the list (e.g. #30) come before higher priority things.

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I Been Married Nine Years

When my husband and I first moved to San Diego, a relative of ours broke the depressing news that it takes men three marriages to find the right woman. Forgive me if you did not already know this. It was a shock to me, too. I went to bed that night wishing someone had told me sooner. Imagine me, Carolyn, the first of three brides. How long did I have before number two came along? Five years? Twenty? Did my husband already know this? Did he sense it? Was he already looking for number two? She’d be a real beast of a woman, no doubt. I would have to teach my kids to hate her.

She’s always telling me she ain’t playing for real.

But after her comes the third wife; by the time she comes along (probably when I’m in my late 50s), my bitterness will probably have subsided. I’d still judge this woman though. Not so much in a hateful way, but with great pity. “Oh, she must be so insecure and pathetic. The poor thing.”

She’s boring, but she’ll be a great relief after the last one. Also, I just realized, she’s wearing my sweater.

Anyway, today is our nine year anniversary and our marriage has gotten better over the years, which only means that it will be even more tragic when the end comes. What could possibly cause my husband to lose his mind and leave a charming creature such as myself?

Middle-age is going to be rough. He has two divorces to go through and I have to find a man that’s already been divorced twice–this way I’m guaranteed to be “the right one.” I bet I could find a young one in prison. I’ll have to check the minimum security prisons since I’d rather be with a white collar criminal.

Always scheming. I’ll have to keep my own checking account.

I don’t know how I’m going to handle step kids. I haven’t even met them and I already can’t stand them. Spoiled and always looking at me wrong. Their moms will try to start fights with me because they’re still in love with MY husband. Plus, they’ll be jealous that my kids are cuter. Wait’ll the courts see all the voicemails and texts I saved.

Or I can just stay single and spend my free time matching missing persons reports with unidentified remains across the country.

Oh, and since this is an anniversary post, I’m supposed to write something like, “We’ve had our ups and downs” then you guys can start thinking, “Ooo, I wonder what she means by that!”

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Writing Goals and Methods

One stupid-dumb thing I always do when making writing goals is that I come up with the goal first then I try to make my terrible methods accomplish this goal. So, for example, last year I said, “My goal is to be done with my book by the end of the year” because that sounded cool. My husband and I agreed that my writing nights would be Monday and Wednesday after dinner. Then I would try to cram in writing any other time I could. Of course I failed. Not because of the timeframe, but because my methods weren’t very wise. Also, sin.

carolyn honeychurch kids playmobil writing goals
(L) Me trying to find a balance between loving, teaching and disciplining my children (R) Me about to Bawitdaba da bang da bang diggy diggy diggy

For starters, as a stay-at-home mom with two young kids, my brain is pretty fried by 5 pm. At that point, I could probably be collecting disability. Remember that brain-egg in the frying pan commercial? “This is your brain on drugs?” Well, my brain on kids would be the same, except when he cracks the egg, a fart comes out of the egg and swirls around the pan.

I guess anyone with kids, whether you work or not, is fried at that hour, but I would argue that stay-at-home mom brain is a different flavor of exhaustion.

Anyway, I would still go upstairs and write, but it was such an inefficient use of time. Sometimes I could only get 200 words out in 90 minutes. I never took the time to experiment with different times and figure out what worked for both my family and me. But that’s all changed, you guys!

Here are some bits of wisdom I learned over the past 3 months that helped me hone in on a method that is actually working.

Clean at Night

This is a good idea for two reasons: (1) Cleaning requires little brain power or creativity, so it’s best to do while braindead in the evening. Writing, on the other hand, does require brain power and creativity, so I should probably use my fresh morning brain on this task, right? (2) My kids will destroy my cleaning efforts throughout the day and then I’ll be re-tidying up ALL day (this = rage). Better to do it once at night and wake up to a clean house.

writing goals carolyn honeychurch messy living room playmobil

In short, give your “stupid self” stupid tasks and your “smart self” smart tasks. I feel like if I took the time I could come up with a cool Johnnie Cochran rhyme for this.

My husband helps, too, but it looks better if it’s just me slaving away.

Note: It’s not like I DON’T clean during the day. Things likes laundry have to be done during the day, but certain things are left for when the kids are in bed (e.g. loading/running dishwasher, kitchen wipe-down, tidying the living room, chiseling boogers off the furniture).

Write in the Morning

I never considered myself a morning person until I met my husband and realized there are people who need three hours to wake up. Now please don’t confuse being a “morning person” with one of those X-Men that only needs 4 hours of sleep. I wish I had that power. Anyway, I thought about getting up early to write, but it just didn’t seem practical to me.

(L) Early bird (R) Night owl

After attending a Christian writing conference in March, one of the speakers (Costi Hinn) encouraged us to get up early. This was kind of not good to hear, because my daughter (before daylight savings time) was getting up between 5-5:30 am. That means I would have to get up at 4 am to get at least an hour in. That’s going fishing times. But I took a step of faith and started doing it. I realized if I go to bed at 9:30, I could still get 6.5-7 hours of sleep. So, three days a week, I’m up before 5, usually 4:15 am. And it works.

I Still Do Bad Things

proverbs 16:3 carolyn honeychurch
“Oh no, a Bible verse” – some people

I had a few paragraphs here about how I still do bad things, but I decided to make that into a separate blog post. To sum it up, the third bit of wisdom came about when it was brought to my attention (thank you God) that I had sin in my life that I needed to repent of. Stay tuned for that juicy gossip. Oh, and with the scripture above in mind, I actually did that (commit my work to the Lord) and I just want to warn you that sometimes God needs to correct you in order for your plans to be established. It’s worth it though.

By the way, if anyone wants to be a character witness at my trial, please e-mail me.

My Revised Methods and Writing Goals

So, here we go. Just a little snapshot of my goals for April. Things will be modified for May.

  • Write ~4,750 words a week.
  • Wake up early three days a week (write at least 750 words during this time)
  • One writing night a week (Wednesday night, write at least 1000 words).
  • Two hour block of writing Saturday (write at least 1,500 words)
  • April total: ~ 19,000
  • Total word count: ~ 59,500 words

This post was supposed to be short. Also, for the sake of my SEO keyword density: writing goals, writing goals.

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A Fresh Start and Book Talk

Hello. If you’ve been to my page before, you probably remember that I, Carolyn Honeychurch, had a lot of illustrated posts on here. They were mostly stories about my life. I archived those since I’m transitioning this site into something more professional. Just to be clear, my idea of professional is not good (that’s what a real professional told me, at least). Also, my old stories contained material and language that can get you thrown in prison nowadays (e.g. m*dget).

So many memories.

Anyway, if you don’t already know me, my name is Carolyn Honeychurch and I’m currently working on my first novel. By “first” I mean the first one I actually intend to publish. I wrote one in high school and had another one going in my early 20s (got about 80% done with that one). Maybe I’ll write about those in future posts (Spoiler: they’re terrible).

carolyn honeychurch playmobil please leave
I’m not really a Playmobil.

As I get more involved in the writing community on social media, I realize that a lot of wannabe writers are very willing to share their plots, snippets of their writing and character bios. I will not be doing this. If some jerk came up to me and had two envelopes, one containing my work in progress and in the other, a nude photo of me, and then this jerk threatened to release one to the public, but I get to choose which one, I would have a lot of trouble choosing.

Here’s what I will tell you: it’s fiction, satirical, kind of adventure-y, a little fairytale-ish and maybe fantasy-like. It’s supposed to be funny. If it’s not funny, then I failed. But, on the bright side, if I fail, you all get to experience my failure with me.

carolyn honeychurch novel word count frog
Subtract 126 words.

Here’s my current word/page count. I assume my finished book will be between 75,000-85,000 words. My goal is to be done with the first draft by the end of May.

That’s it for now. I will keep everyone updated on my journey and other stuff here or on my Instagram @honeychurchbook.

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