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When Homeschooling Goes Badly, Begin Again

It’s official. Weeks 1 and 2 of the Perkins family back to homeschooling are in the books. Well, the planner anyway. And the computer program.

Ever feel just a bit scattered in your record keeping?

I started out our first week with high hopes. We were going to start with a bang! We were going to get everything done! We were going to be awesome!


The first couple days were great. We started just a couple of subjects, added a new one each day, thinking we’d be up to “full schedule” by Friday.  Then Friday turned out to be Kid’s Day at the Fair. Since my boys are now both over 6th grade, they don’t get to go to Homeschooler’s Day at the Fair for free anymore, leaving us Friday as the ONLY free day we can do. Because I’m cheap and don’t want to spend $10 a person to walk around at the fair and look at animals.

We set aside the books for the day and we went to the fair.


Week 2 was an “Autism Week”.

Starting Monday D1 overslept, could NOT get his day going, and then didn’t get really any school work done, resulting in his missing Minecraft Club, which is his favorite extra-curricular activity. The days between that and the first day of Homeschool Band went okay, and then on Band day he again did not get things done. I won’t make him miss band, BUT he is in jeopardy of losing it completely so he’s promised to try to stay on track.

Thus begins my high school panic, once again. Autism moms, I need to hear from you! I need to know I’m not alone, that I’m not losing it here. I love my son but I also want him to finish high school in four years. Is this unreasonable?

Don’t get me wrong: It wasn’t all bad.

D2 has turned into quite the self-starter, completing most of his work with only minor assistance and guidance. Both boys are doing very WELL in math, consistently scoring 85-95% on their assignments. I am HAPPY. Very, very happy, considering my math dilemmas last year and the heavy tutoring we did with D1 to prep him for Pre-Algebra.

It was worth it.

We aren’t going any where. They aren’t going to school. This is all me, folks. Real life here. This week, we begin again. Every day and every week is a fresh start. We begin with the same number of days, hours, and minutes and we use them to the best of our abilities. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint (even though I am feeling the high school crunch right now, I know it’s NOT). Homeschooling is our lifestyle.

So tell me, how would you feel about watching/participating in a Home Highschooling with Autism Google+ Hangout? Leave me a comment please and tell me what you’d like us to talk about. Let’s learn from each other!

categories: Homeschooling

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“Easy” Online Filing of Your Declaration of Intent to Homeschool?

It sure seemed easy.

Go to the website, sign up for a free account, and file our Declaration of Intent to Homeschool Form online.

No more driving to the school district office, waiting for the receptionist to make a stamped “RECEIVED” copy of my form. No more worry that it might get lost.



I did it once. Two years ago. I filed that online form at I thought that took care of it. It really didn’t occur to me that it WASN’T my school district’s website—or at least a website provided by my state’s education board.

Then last year, I got an email from the site, reminding me that it was time to file my DOI. I clicked the handy little link that led to the website. There, I was prompted to log in to file my DOI, which I did. When I logged in it indicated that I need to pay $6 for a one- year “subscription”, so that I can file my form. The form I file once a year, for free. And to pay for it.

I don’t think so.

Looking a little deeper into the website, I learned that the company is based in Georgia, not Washington. Meaning the state where I live and am required to file my Declaration of Intent to Homeschool is NOT one accepting the digital form I am sending. I honestly have no idea if they even received my DOI before, since I did use this service once. That’s a little scary, although I am assuming they did receive it, since we didn’t have a visit from any truant officers or nasty letters from the superintendent.

But really, where does that information GO? And what does a company in Georgia have to do with Washington state homeschool registrations?

I don’t know how long it takes them to send the forms that are filed digitally to the state/county/school district that is supposed to be receiving it. There are two school districts in my state with the same name. How do I know that it will get to the correct one?

The answer to all of these is that we have no way of knowing. And I like to be sure about these things. When in doubt, be smart and use the forms provided by your state’s homeschooling association or by HSLDA. I usually use the form provided by the Washington Homeschool Organization, so that’s what I did this time too.

One more small piece of advice…

Know what information is legally required to be reported to the state in which you live. When I brought my form in to my local district office and asked the receptionist for a “Date Received” receipt as I always do, she looked at the form and asked me to include a telephone number “In case we need to reach you for more information.” I stated “A phone number isn’t required on the DOI form”. She didn’t push but did not look happy about it.

As I walked out the door with my date stamped copy of my DOI I heard her ask another lady, “Aren’t they supposed to include a phone number on those forms?” I left and didn’t hear the rest of their conversation.

And no, we’re not.

In Washington State, the form must contain our students’ names and ages, parent name, address, and a statement (checkbox) indicating whether or not the education will be supervised by a certificated teacher. That’s it. If your district is asking for more than that on their form, you can either just ignore that part, which may earn you a letter or phone call from them later because your form is “incomplete”, or use a form that doesn’t even ask for that information.

Looking for more information on homeschooling in Washington State? Enter your email address in the blue bar at the top of the blog to get my FREE Homeschooling in Washington State Resource Guide!

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These Dry Bones

Jesus waved at me from the Old Testament.

 I  know it sounds weird. Just the visual that brings up in my mind is odd.

I wasn’t looking for him. Honestly I was just sitting there in church, sipping on my much-needed skinny caramel latte and trying to clear the cobwebs from my brain because I had worked night shift that night. As in, I got home from work at 7am, took a nap, and was sitting in church at 11:30. Cobwebs.

These Dry Bones~ Ezekiel 37:27

Our church is currently reading through a book called The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People, which is a basic paraphrased retelling of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. I was excited when they first began this book study, because if you have read me for more than a couple of years you know that I’m sort of passionate about reading the entire Bible. I’ve done it, three times, following the Bible in 9o Days reading plan. I love it.

And I failed miserably at it this past new year.

It was with an entirely self- righteous mind that I thought, Wow, how cool! This church might even get an understanding of the whole Bible through doing this book study.

Foolish me. I struggled with the book reading myself. I have trouble reading the retelling, when I’ve read His words through so many times. I already get it. I remember a lot of the details of the Story that aren’t covered in The Story.

It’s been a hard couple of years since we left the church we were at for 17 years.

It has been a spiritual growth process, a shedding of blinders, of prejudices, and stepping outside the bounds of a tightly insulated environment and into The Real World. It’s amazing what can happen in your life when you let go of certain ideals and get down to basics. Like Jesus. Just Jesus.

So I’m sitting in church, and the pastor is talking about Hezekiah and Manasseh and the prophets that were sent to Judah over and over, as God threw them yet another line, wanting to bring them back to Him. He read in Ezekiel about the vision he had of the Valley of Dry Bones, and how the Lord brought them together and put flesh on them, showing him what he was going to do with Judah, bringing them back from the (spiritual) dead.

Back up again, to the previous night, where on my breaks at work I had been devouring Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Spiritual Christianity by Donald Miller. Devouring, as in reading with a pen in hand, underlining passages. This book is so absolutely quotable, and so very thought provoking, I just love it.

I had underlined,

“The entire world is falling apart because nobody will admit they are wrong. But by asking God to forgive you, you are willing to own your own crap.”

Not the most Christian-ese quote by any means, but it hit me. All God wants us to do is own our own crap.

The Valley of Dry Bones has been me lately.

So very dry. Between my night shift weekend job, my VA business, my kids, and getting ready to start homeschooling again, I’m zapped. I haven’t read the Word much at all, but I have been praying and thinking and pondering and wondering where it all fits in again.

God showed me Jesus in those dry bones. That again, this is just a season He is bringing me through. This plan he has for my life is still in motion, and my own growth simply depends on me constantly turning back to Him, the giver of Life.

categories: Faith

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Top 10 Must Have Items for Homeschooling

Top 10 Must Haves for Home SchoolingMy must-haves are things that are either no-brainers, or things that I had to figure out the hard way. I consider it a given that a computer and a good internet connection are must-haves these days. Beyond that I have compiled a very practical list that I hope will be helpful! :)

1. Electric Pencil Sharpener- Just TRY using one of those little hand held ones for more than a few days and you’ll be looking for one too! It’s #1 on this list for a reason. Don’t buy a bottom end one; get a middle of the price range sharpener and you’ll be very glad that you did. The really cheap ones chew up pencils like kids eat candy on Halloween.

2. A Laminator- I lived without one for the first ten years we homeschooled, but when I did get one I quickly saw that I didn’t know how we lived without one! You can do SO MANY things with a laminating machine!

3. Laser Printer that Duplexes-
  My black laser printer is my go-to for printing ALL of my black & white documents, especially E-BOOKS! This thing was worth every penny I spent on it and then some.

4. Color Printer/Copier/Scanner- Emphasis on the copier. How many times have you needed just one more copy of a lesson sheet? Having two kids and using master notebook packs or mastered activity sheets, there’s always a need for a copier. If you can afford a color laser printer/copier you would have an unbeatable machine. (I don’t. I have one of each until budget allows. :))

5. Digital Bookmark Timer- Comes in handy for timing lessons and keeping track of time spent reading. We use timers for lots of different things, but especially for my son to help him self-regulate activities.


6. Good Pencils- Lots and lots of pencils! Don’t buy cheap ones either. Get the best ones you can so they don’t get eaten by your pencil sharpener.

7. Wiggle Seat- Whether you have figety, busy boys or are dealing with special needs, a wiggle seat allows your child to move and wiggle around easily on his chair without getting up from it. My son LOVES his. Our children’s pastor bought several for those who need them to sit in the kid’s church and Sunday School class.


8. Mini Trampoline- A MUST for the sensory seeker. Get that excess energy out or practice math facts and spelling words while engaging those big muscles and gaining sensory input. Can be picked up for under $20 at WMart.

9. Fun Educational Games- Using games to teach or enforce concepts helps cement it in their minds and lets them have fun with school too. You can use anything from Preposition Bingo to practicing times tables with dice, or the multitudes of educational board games available.

10. Composition Notebooks- We use these for everything! We buy at least a dozen every summer when they’re on sale. We like them better than spiral notebooks because they keep nicer.


55 Moms Share Their Expertise on 103 Topics

Wouldn’t it be great to have a resource you could turn to when you have a question in your homeschool?

  • How can I encourage my tweens and teens to be more independent learners?
  • What should a preschooler be doing for school?
  • How can I make geography practical and fun?
  • What can I do to make learning handwriting easier for my children?

Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

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From the Bees Comes the…


Remember our bee adventures last spring? Interesting week, right? We had not one, but TWO swarms of bees in our back yard! We learned a lot from talking with our neighbors and watching them capture the swarms.

Who’d have thought you could just knock a whole swarm of bees into a box? Certainly not me! It was the coolest thing we’ve seen in a long time.

We have also definitely reaped the rewards from having neighbors with bee hives living right behind us. Bumper crops of strawberries AND raspberries. Gallons of them.



And if you know me, you know I am not a gardener but I LOVE my berries. True, I have been a wanna-be gardener, but never an actual gardener. It probably helps if you don’t mind going outside to pull weeds when it’s 90* outside.

That would not be me.


As my strawberry bed can attest, I only do it twice a year: At the beginning and after the end of the berry season.

Imagine my surprise and delight when our neighbor Nona and her two kids showed up at my door Sunday night, in the midst of our CRAZY let’s-have-all-our-kids-and-grandkids-over family barbecue, with this…


The odd shape is due to several of us digging in and eating pieces of the honeycomb. There’s nothing quite like honey straight from the comb, although you have to spit the wax out, unless you really like eating wax. You never know. My husband ate it.

I’m still in awe that a BUG can MAKE something like this! God is so cool. Only He could create something so amazing.

The moral of this story is:  Be kind to your neighbors, and don’t kill their bees when they invade your yard. Bees are good!

categories: Home & Family

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