All posts by Webmama Tina

Mothering Magazine sponsored homeschool chat transcripts coming soon!

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Long before I had Homeschool Realm, I had another really successful site called Mommy Chats. (Back in the day of chats.) It doesn’t exist anymore…you can only find it on nowadays…

I had the site for many years, and hosted casual chatting as well as lots of topical chats…and from Oct 2004 to July 2007 I partnered with Peggy O’Mara and Mothering Magazine (then editor of the then print magazine…it’s no longer Peggy and no longer print…but it was for decades…and it does still exist as a website community and digital format, it looks like…) to host their natural parenting chats. They brought me the guests and I hosted their weekly topical chats. It was a lot of fun and I got to meet a lot of really neat people and learn some really interesting stuff.

Recently it occurred to me that I could dig up the homeschool related chats and post them here on this website because there was some really great stuff learned from those chats from long ago!

So….here’s a list of the people whose chats I will be sharing with you:

I just have to get the formatting to cooperate and I’ll start posting them soon!!

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Journey to a more inspiring high school experience…

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These last couple years have been an…interesting…experience. We went from being enrolled at a homeschool charter that gave us complete freedom in how we homeschool our kids, to a charter that is much more limited.

I’m pulling my high school daughter out of our current charter after this year because of our experience with the rigidness of their high school program. We’ll be going with the private school affidavit option, a wonderful option in California for homeschoolers that want freedom to do high school the way they want, without all the rules and regulations.

But let me preface this whole post with an explanation as to why we joined a charter in the first place…I am a self diagnosed ADD mom. Still awaiting an official diagnosis, and hopefully a prescription to help…but I am like 99.9% certain I am correct in my self diagnosis, as many many online quizzes have confirmed and every single thing I’ve ever read on this have confirmed that I seem to very much fit the bill. And have for years and years. It has gotten to the point lately, as I am in the throes of perimenopause, when I’m told by my sister “shinies” (a cute nickname for AD/HD people) that all hell can break loose on ADHD symptoms, as they intensify during the hormonal changes…which appears to be the case with me…that I have had to seek out professional help for the problems that have arisen due to my ADDness…the chaos that it has wreaked on my life and my family. The struggles that we are all enduring.

But back to 2011 when I first sought out a charter…  All I knew back then was that going it on my own wasn’t working and I needed a change. I knew that I wanted a community around me, and the nonprofit homeschool resource center that I had attempted to get going had fizzled…the existing homeschool community, at the time, was disorganized and sporadic with gatherings…and I needed more. And I thought that maybe a homeschool charter might give me the benefit of having someone give me some oversight, pushing me to stay on top of things with my kids…a huge issue I have. Plus, there was the added benefit of enrichment classes and access to a library of resources. All for free!

And it worked! From fall 2011 through spring of 2016, our family thrived at our first homeschool charter, which was very flexible in allowing us to do our own thing, how we wanted. They were happy as long as we produced one sample of work for each of the 4 main subjects: math, science, social studies and language arts every month to turn in to our education coordinator. And it was lovely.

Until they shut down our local satellite and abandoned our (thriving) local community. This was a HUGE blow to our local community, and an incredibly hurtful thing for them to do to us. Many of us still feel hurt and angered by this. They forced us to decide if we were willing/able to drive an hour one way down to their main campus twice a week for classes.

This was something that would no longer work for our family, due to the cost. We had done this before, the first year, and then they opened a local campus and we didn’t have to anymore for a time, which was a huge relief financially to us. Then my daughter outgrew the local classes and for her first year of high school we did have to drive her down there for our last year with this school…carpooling with other families of olders… This helped with the cost, but was such an exhausting thing…juggling with other families to watch my son while he attended classes up here at our local campus one day (so I could drive carpool), and on the other day, impose on my mom to take the carpool one day a week down to the classes an hour away so I could be with my son up here once a week …it was just not an ideal situation. So stressful and exhausting. But we were willing to do it because the classes and community meant that much to us.

So when they shut down our local campus and left us all out in the cold, we were forced to make some tough decisions. Decide to pay the money to go down to their other campus that essentially just kicked us in the face and told us all that our community meant nothing to them or find something up here.

At the time, there was nothing acceptable. But then, luckily, something opened just as the school year started. And it seemed ideal.

Until things got really going and I started to really learn how things worked at this school.

So now I’ve learned that for my son, who is only 6th grade…it can be managed. Their hoops are doable. They are much more flexible for the lower grades and it’s not such a big deal. But for high school….it’s absolutely intolerable for us.

The requirements at this charter for following the state standards and requirements for graduation go against everything I believe in. And have me realizing that this is exactly why I homeschool in the first place! To AVOID this sort of garbage!

This is what it reminds me of:

Because, at least at the high school level, this charter is absolutely all about pail filling. It’s about checking off the standards and moving on to the next, making sure that you’ve fulfilled the requirements…and not about lighting the fire, the passion for learning. Of course, it’s possible that you could be lighting children’s fire while filling the pail, but I don’t have time to do both! There’s just TOO MUCH that they are expecting… and frankly, a whole lot of the standards are just a complete waste of time!

I want my kids to be learning things that are lighting their fire, their passion for learning about their world, and that will actually benefit their future lives…not something that some bureaucrat somewhere (because I know that it’s not actual educators that came up with these lists…judging just by how developmentally INappropriate most of the stuff they are pushing on the youngest ones is!) decided that all kids in my kids’ grades should be learning at the same time! It’s flipping ridiculous!

And someone tell me why nearly all high school curriculum…even homeschool curriculum that isn’t necessarily based on standards…is so DRY AND BORING AND TRADITIONAL???  

Because my daughter and I are on a quest now to re-invent high school for her…in a way that has meaning to her…and we are going to have to start from scratch essentially….and nearly none of the already existing curriculum out there for high school will do. I can see that already.

It’s like, as soon as they hit 9th grade, BOOM, no more fun learning, you gotta go right into traditional, boring, dry, dull teaching methods. Textbooks and rote memorization and spitting out things on tests and writing endless papers and reading insanely dull textbooks and all the same stuff we did in public school. CREATED FOR HOMESCHOOLERS!! WHY??? We are homeschooling!!! We can do BETTER!!! We don’t HAVE to do things this way!!!

It’s like for homeschooling high school, the only choices are: unschool or traditional school.
Really??? Nothing in between??
The only in-between you have to create yourself. Which is where we’re at. This is SO RIDICULOUS!!

WHY CAN’T THERE BE HIGH SCHOOL LEARNING THAT’S HANDS-ON AND FUN TOO?? Why do the littles get all the fun learning??

Why is high school all read and write and regurgitate?

They don’t stop benefiting from hands-on, engaging learning just because they advanced a couple years! All kids, even those that aren’t kinesthetic learners, can benefit from hands-on learning! So let’s keep doing it!!

Seriously, what is UP with the high school curriculum manufacturers?? Well, I’ll tell you part of the problem….it’s because it’s what the parents demand.


Yes, there are SOME kids that can benefit from that type of learning…SOME. But even those kids would benefit from another way. And holy crap could you imagine how much better all kids’ education would be if it were more hands-on and ENGAGING and we cut out all the dry, rote, dull stuff and actually put in front of them some really meaningful stuff for a change? Because, here’s a thought….they might actually remember some of this stuff for the rest of their lives instead of losing it promptly after they spit it out on a test or paper like we all did?

I want my kids to actually RETAIN THIS INFO. Of course they’re not going to retain every bit of it, that’s not realistic…but hopefully they’ll retain a good bit of it! Otherwise, what’s the point? It’s just wasted time!!  And the way all this traditional learning goes…this stuff isn’t designed to be retained. It’s designed to be regurgitated and forgotten. THAT’S NOT LEARNING.

The definition of learning is:

“the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill.”

To me, that means that they actually RETAIN that knowledge….otherwise, WHAT’S THE POINT?? What’s the point of acquiring knowledge just to forget it??? Spending all that time on something that is just going to be forgotten?? WASTE!

The problem here is that with the traditional model of learning…learning is viewed as a means to an end…a means to pass a paper to get a grade to attain a piece of paper (high school diploma) to get into college to get more grades, to get another piece of paper (college degree) to attain a job, to make money and have a fulfilling and meaningful life.

NEWS FLASH: LIFE DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY.  Because that college diploma doesn’t guarantee squat.

So how about coming at this from a different angle: LEARNING FOR LEARNING’S SAKE.
Because learning in and of itself is an extremely MEANINGFUL THING.
And LEARNING can actually better a person.
The more knowledge, the more life experience, the more you learn about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, the MORE you become.

I want my kids to REALLY LEARN. To BECOME MORE. Not just pass tests and write papers. Or get a diploma or a degree.  I want MEANINGFUL LEARNING. And that means NOTHING that looks traditional. And that also means LIFELONG LEARNING. It never ever ends! So they have to ENJOY it! They have to be turned on to it! They have to be IGNITED. And traditional education does nothing to do that. If anything, it turns them OFF to learning, because they just want to get it done so they don’t have to do it anymore.

That’s the exact OPPOSITE of what I want. The exact opposite of what my purpose was when I started this whole homeschooling journey. And for a time, I lost track of that, stuck in this charter’s way of doing things.

No more.

So here I am, looking to turn my daughter’s education on it’s head…and we are starting by revamping her “World History” course that we started this year….and turning it into a focus on women in world history. And she’s EXCITED by it.

I’m starting by putting a long sheet of butcher paper up on my massive bulletin board and we are going to chart a time line and start plugging women throughout time and across the world on there. Gonna need a world map to pin them on as well.

Our blank timeline: we start here to design our outline of world history through the lives of women

We will be able to visually see that we have women represented throughout the world, throughout time, and throughout the different events and things we want to study (color coded, so we can see that we have enough represented) : events, arts, sciences, historically significant people, inventions, and women of color.  I’m sure we’ll think of other things to chart as well.  I may pull some ideas from our Pandia Press timeline….love that thing, but we’ve yet to fill it out much…might finally make the time!

I’m going to use the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History as a spine to make sure we hit the significant events across time…and we will study these events through the eyes of the women of those times. I’M EXCITED!! And so is my 16yr old, because this is something she can totally get into! She’s all about women’s rights and learning about how women have made a difference. I also realize it’s going to take some serious digging for some of this stuff, since we’ve not historically gotten a lot of credit. But that will be part of the learning process!

But THIS world history course is going to actually make an IMPACT on my daughter. Far more than the western civ audio course that she was listening to from Great Courses that was essentially putting her to sleep. That only covered western European history and I guarantee had little to no women covered in it. And while it was somewhat interesting, was presented in a traditional, dry manner of nearly every college lecture. I’ve recently discovered my daughter is a visual learner like myself…so this is going to be far more engaging for her.

I’ll try to remember to share what we’re learning here, as we go! Feel free to comment and remind me to update! LOL! You know now that I’m ADD, so I do get sidetracked! I need reminders! SQUIRREL!!

My daughter brought this book out that she owns, to use on this project: she is ON FIRE for this path!


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MUSIC REVIEW: Caspar Babypants–This is Fun!

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This is a cd I just dug out of my crate full o’music that I apparently never got around to listening to before…I probably received this for review years ago because I don’t even remember when! But it turns out that I actually really like it! It’s one of the few out of that huge stash of kids music submitted to me for review that I actually like!

Very catchy! I was bouncing along to “All You Pretty Babies” and literally laughing out to the silliness of the “The Legend of the Bone”…I can totally see families with babies through preschoolers really enjoying this cd! Maybe even some a little older than that, if they like fun kid music. It’s definitely aimed at a young crowd though.

Very clever songs, catchy tunes, cute lyrics, fun!! Well named album! 🙂  Go check it out! Click on the album cover image above and you can listen to samples of the songs on Amazon.

My kids may be grown, but I sometimes have friends with littles over and someday I’ll have grandbabies. I’m keeping this one!

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A crate full o’music

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Doing some reorganizing and decluttering and look what I found! An entire crate FULL of kids’ music! That’s right! This is a square milk crate and it truly is ONLY filled, right to the top, with kids’ CDs!

Yes, I did have a bit of a kids’ music habit once upon a time…having been a preschool teacher whose specialty was music and movement circles (ask me about my afternoon dance times, back in the day! I ROCKED OUT to these tunes with the kiddos!!) Those experiences I then took with me years later to a mommy and me science class I created and ran at a local science center for awhile with fun circle times, which led to me opening my in-home mommy & me biz I ran for around 3 years…so fun!!

But in my defense, not all of these CDs were collected by me. I did start reviewing kids music on my local website around that time as well…and asked children’s performers to send me their music for review. And send me they did! So a whole lot of this are review copies…(and a lot are, sadly, not very good…but I’ve not yet had the heart to get rid of them.)

Well now I’m in the process of decluttering…and I’ll be going through this whole crate, slowly but surely… and I would like to bring to all of y’all (that still have littles), some new reviews and recommendations for some of MY favorite kids’ music that is out there!

Because I know some AMAZING STUFF!! And if you think kids’ music is boring, you are SO WRONG! I actually enjoyed some of this stuff so much that I found myself even listening when my kids were not in the car! And to THIS DAY these tunes put a smile on my face and make me sing and dance like a crazy person! I just need a couple preschoolers to join me because my 11 and 16yr old s are just not havin it, lol! Maybe I can borrow my next door neighbor’s preschoolers for a dance party from time to time, lol!

But I’m telling you!! Kids musicians are some seriously talented musicians and are worth looking into…Because while I totally get that people want to expose their little ones to good quality, “real” music…and I totally AGREE with that…they SHOULD still grow up with adult music as well…I do still feel like children are missing out if they don’t ALSO get to have music of their own. Music that was written by people who GET THEM. Who get how important it is to be silly…who write songs on topics that littles can relate to (vs adult topics that kids don’t even understand), that write lyrics that are so quickly and easily memorized and belted out at the top of their lungs and felt down to their toes because they are songs with a child’s heart, that kids KNOW. Because they talk about things that kids can relate to, that kids can understand, and that kids can totally get behind. And they are catchy!

Because true children’s performers are children at heart and they GET children. They love what they do, they love their audience, and it shows in their music and the children can feel it in their songs.

And  did you know some popular regular performers offer kids CDs in addition to their regular music? (Kenny Loggins and They Might Be Giants immediately spring to mind)…and there are some performers that you know in other areas that might surprise you as amazing kids’ performers (my favorite is John Lithgow!!) and some famous kids’ musicians started out as regular musicians for just adults…like the most famous of all kids’ performers, Raffi!  Amazing performer with an amazing story! I HIGHLY recommend his autobiography!! LOVE THAT GUY!!

And some of my favorite kids’ performers you probably haven’t even heard of yet…but you will!

Anyway, I digress…I’ll share some of these CDs in future blog posts..but if you’re eager to take a peek at some of what I’ve got in this crate, head over to the music review section of this blog…I already reviewed quite a few of them. It’s just not been updated in a very long time.

More to come! Stay tuned. I think I’m going to reach behind me and pull out one of these cds from that crate now to set the mood for what I’m working on next…

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Anxiety and depression are no joke

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I talked about perimenopause in my last post. But I need to talk some more about some specific symptoms today….

I dealt with the blues in my adolescence and early 20s, now and then….And I’ve always been a bit of a worrier…nothing really serious. But this stuff that perimenopause is throwing at me is “fer really real,” y’all. I had no idea what this really felt like until now. I’ve read and heard about depression and anxiety for years….but WOW. I am impressed. This is some serious stuff.

It doesn’t help that the last 6 months or so have thrown me some life experiences that have seriously rocked my world. And one after another, with very little break. I’m not sure I’d handle it any better if I was NOT dealing with all these hormones. It’s pretty intense.  But to throw them at me while I’m going through the turmoil of perimenopause and all that she has to dish up to me daily…that’s just not fair.

Come on, life, cut a mom a break, will ya??

This is a time when I need to surround myself with my closest friends, and that circle is shrinking. But I am so extremely grateful for the ones that have been there for me…even though I must tire them with my unloading. (I mean what I say, friends…You MUST RECIPROCATE and unload on me too soon! I WANT YOU TO! Friendship is 2 ways, ya know…I am here for you guys too. Actually I feel like I probably would be better for someone else than for myself right now. It would be nice to think of someone else’s problems for a change.)

Seriously, these friends, and they know who they are, mean the WORLD to me.

And my husband. Oh my husband. He’s my lifeline. Seriously. I have the world’s best hubby.  He is there for me. He loves me completely, and I feel it. And maybe even more importantly during all this…he makes me laugh daily.

And my kids…they are my life. I live for them when things get rough like this. I live for making their lives better. And they make MY life better. They need a whole mom, and dammit, that’s what I’m going to give them. It just will take awhile to figure out how to do that again.

And my brother. Second only to my husband in my life. Thank you, bro, for always being there for me. I tear up when I think of it.

And my parents….oh the crap I’ve made them listen to me whine about over the years…so patient, so loving. More tears. I love you guys.


So I have finally seen a doctor, and I have hope that I’m finally going to get the help that I so very much need right now.  A referral to a therapist is happening. Finally. And there may be anti-depressants in my future. In the meantime, I am searching the net for ways to cope.

And what I found is that there are actually a lot of homeschooling moms that are educating their kids while struggling with depression.  That is oddly comforting to me.

And since I always have a very strong need to share my feelings…to get them out…because it feels oh so much better…I thought I’d write this blog post to try to get a little out. And then also to give a heads up to what’s going on with me, why Noodle Homeschool and the Savvy Homeschool Moms podcast have been so often on hiatus these past 6 months or more…and maybe my post might help someone else not feel alone. Because that’s how those other posts out there about homeschooling with depression have made me feel.

I’m not going to go into it all here, though…because there’s some personal stuff that I don’t feel like airing my dirty laundry about. And some of it I am not allowed to share, as there are loved ones whose privacy would be at risk.  And those parts aren’t for me tell. They are their stories, and I’m just along for the painful ride. Trying to help where I can, while keeping myself together, worrying about them, and dealing with my own life events. GAH.

But suffice it to say that my world lately has pretty much been a roller coaster of events and emotions, and sprinkled into the mix, the feelings of having the hope and joy ripped from my embrace unkindly.  Replaced by feelings of sadness, anxiousness, fear, and flat out RAGE. Yay.

But I’m a survivor. And I know there will be light at the end of this miserable tunnel and I’m determined to get there. So for now, I will follow the advice I’m reading online….I will make short to-do lists to check off so I can finally feel accomplished. I will cherish the NOW, and just do the NEXT THING. I will get outside into nature more because that means so much to me personally. It’s always been so uplifting and energizing. I will try to get more exercise. I will try to give my children the opportunities to experience the fun that I am incapable of currently giving them. I will listen to my iTunes playlist of “calming music” that helps center me. I will laugh with my husband and kids daily, because I can’t not. They are just that weird.  And when the time is right, I will unburden this pain in my heart to the appropriate people…even if it’s just to a therapist and my husband.

If you’re also struggling with anxiety and depression while homeschooling, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Misery loves company, ya know. We are not alone. We can still provide a quality education for our children, despite these setbacks…and we will get past the low times. I know we will. Right now I just am aiming for getting a day without these crushing feelings of overwhelm and sadness.

One. day. at. a. time.  It will happen. I know this.  And until then…thank you for having patience with me.

P.S. These articles helped me…maybe they will help you too:
And the overwhelming amount of comments on these articles makes me feel like there’s a LOT of us out there dealing with this. It’s sad, but comforting.

Homeschooling with depression: The hardest part of Shawna’s homeschool year


Homeschooling with Depression, Part I – Survival Tips



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