We Are Deep In the Heart of Texas

Nomadic seasons of farming adventures with nature thrown in to include; a pinch of family, snippets of friends, counting our blessings, paying IT forward, home school, and the spicy things I decide to rant about.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Why the change?

Since I have started homeschooling, I am adjusting my days to our sons educational needs.  Today I changed my template so Saenz may better read my postings due to Irlens.  Once he finds a template, back ground color and font he in fact likes and is able to read with ease.  I will have him start his own blog for the purpose of creative writing through journaling. If you want to know what Irlens is just click on my blog title or the underlined Irlens in the second sentence.  I think I did the linking correctly. 

I also added a homeschoolers' article widget to one of my side bars.  Another item I wanted to pass on is the website on grammar I found through through  through the homeschoolers co-op.  I decided on purchasing this program and it's cheaper through the co-op; because I can pair it with the public library and science lab Mr Larry has sent to our home. (THANK YOU)

I promised Mrs. Talitha a list of sites I have gathered in the last couple of weeks.  She also pulled her children out of public school as well as Mrs. Kelly.  I have more I will add later.

Some other sites I have used or recommend:
Now on to why I chose the above picture.  I just wanted to say I am so happy our son, Sid has started community college.  Education is the one thing that can not be taken once you acquire it.  It's yours once earned and then you have to build a future.  Maybe Sid will go on to become a graduate and do what he wants to do in life as a journalist.  It's never too late to start, I recieved my associates at 36,  bachelors at 43, with a masters by 45.

Even Olympic runners start off with 'baby steps.'

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Handsome Hubby

He is on the left, this is at an award event; he had no idea it was to happen.  Let's just say he was a tad tiffed over not knowing because he was in his 'work clothes.'  Nonetheless, I find him more attractive today than the day we met.  WAY TO GO, BABY!  With that certificate, you can move on to bigger opportunities!

My love, hugs and smooches,
Your redneck!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why do I bother?

Ack, turn on the news during the day or read the headlines?  Here is an example of the stories listed:

Police Say Texas Man Decapitates Wife (WHY WHY WHY?????)

Finance Reform Bill Blocked for a Third Time in the Senate (inferring Republican blame)

Sandra Bullock's Secret Divorce Details Revealed (Is this our business?)

Surgery Regrets: I want my prostate back  (I COULD NOT LOOK)

Teacher Stabs 15 Students, 1 Teacher in China (Why is China different from the US?)

Pope may apologize for priest sex abuse. (WHAT? Why has this not already happened? Nevermind I know the reason. Shakes head in disgust)

Okay now onto things of interest to me.  This week has been difficult trying to get Saenz into 'Mom as the Teacher Role,' and for him to buckle down and work.  Yes, Zephyr is a distraction however, there is only two students in this school instead of 100s.  Another point, we need to get the desk and work table situation settled in the school room.  It is my belief once we enter that room; both boys will understand they are there to learn, work, play, observe, experiment, and explore.

Their progess thus far

Saenz has completed reading 3 books since the 20th of April; Accelerated Reader points are 8.
(8 AR points per six weekes was the goal set for him by his former school.)  We have completed 5 hours of handwriting skills, started a book on Texas history, 12 hours reading AR, 12 hour of math instruction, 4 hours of world history, 8 hours of language arts, 6 hours of animal science, 2 hours typing skills, and 4 hours computer assisted programming in math.  These last few days we are building our actual IN CLASS room time.  He really needed to decompress from the pressure he had be under to perform for TAKS testing. 

Zephyr is able to count without assistance to 65, connect the dots from 1 to 50, recognizes all shapes/colors/body parts, does simple addition to 20, puts together 24 piece puzzles unassisted, recognizes similiar items on worksheets, has scissor skills, and mazes.  We are still working on the writing skills for numbers and letters once this hurdle is met; we will move on to primary readers.

So, now I am not so intuned with the world.  After reading the headlines I can see I am not missing much.  I don't understand why there seems to be so much happening without a positive note.  I did read the story of the lady bus driver with the 'reading bus.'  MAN! Now her efforts should be applauded. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36823728/ns/local_news-tampa_fl/

Anyway, off to prep for dinner.  Baked chicken, kale and spinach soup, with steamed rice.

What are you all doing?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is 'handwriting' a dying art?

One thing I have discovered with Saenz is:

He could not read handwriting -- so we now have the letters down (3 hrs of instruction) with practice tomorrow with paragraph style.  Now being dyslexic I understand the difficulties he has and so we have begun slowly.  It is my personal goal of having Saenz be at least able to read handwriting by the end of the month.  I will post a copy of his newly acquired skill here to ensure I don't get off track.

For those of you who are homeschooling what are some of your resources to teach this skill.

I found worksheets here :

Also, I have each of my sons a 'wipeable -dry erase' practice writing flip book sold at WalMart for $3 each.  It makes teaching easy.

What do you all think?  A valuble skill or going the way of Saturday mail delivery?

This is through Sylvan and it's a reading program.

"Reports allow you to view and monitor your child's or children's Book Adventure progress. Shown are the most recent quiz results for each of the children linked to your account. To see a detailed report on the progress of an individual child, including all quizzes taken and their scores, click on that child's name."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Letter to a Friend


I am so sorry for your family's loss. Big hugs my over the pond sister. I miss you and seen a dragonfly yesterday. I thought of you immediately and wondered about your life.

You may or not believe this. Today, I found a picture of JoJo. Just to let you know, I never had one of her. Never took one, me an pretend photog -- just let my heart keep her image as pure as I remembered her. She must have hidden the photo in that little hand bag, packed away, a gift from our laughter at the flea market -- knowing one day I would need a message from her. She knew I would find it. At first I felt a kick in the gut. Then I felt release....

After 'chewing over it' I called JoJo's mom a little while ago.

Told her and listened to her story of a vision she had of Joleen.

Anyway, I looked at the picture long and hard and came to my computer. She led me to you -- she knew. Jo Jo was telling me to come and comfort you.

Not a day goes by
It doesn't mattter the distance
we all are connected
Our lives weave into others
so tight we become one quilt on which to
lay our weary heads.
We (your uncle) go to a better place
We continue living inside other hearts
I love you my sister,
you are not alone
Where dragonflies are near waterfalls
so is our friendship.

Much love,

From Store Room to School Room

When I made the decision to home school; I had spoke with several people whom I respect and admire. 

First Mr. Larry, Our family cannot say THANK YOU enough for all the items you sent to 'our school.'  This is what our living room looked like from all deliveries we received in 2 weeks since, decided to home school. 

What you can not tell from those pictures is, he actually sent more. So off into the storage room; I spent the last two days cleaning this room out.  Mrs Lily got two loads to fill her flea market both and the neigbors picked up 3 rolls of left over roof insulation. This is what the room looks like now with about another 10% of boxes to be gone through, given away or trashed. 

Thanks again!, Mr. Larry ---- you surprised us with such generosity.  I hope to live up to your  standards of teaching;  I get a clue you have a strong belief in my abilities.  That is so flattering.

KELLEY, We talked about homeschooling for months before I made the decision. I love talking to you as a mother because you understand the 'guilt' that is inherent with the job of raising stable, healthy, well adjusted human beings.

Thanks Sharon, I read about your initial struggles with homeschooling your son. You have definitely lived a very interesting life, please keep writing and sharing.

Sobrina,  Though we have yet to meet in person, I love talking to you on the phone and look forward to meeting you tomorrow.  You have a very melodious voice.  I am looking forward to meeting your family and the other homeschooling parents in our area.  Thank you for encouraging me!

My husband, who despite all my crazy ideas, moodiness; goes along with all I want to do.  No wonder we have been together so long. YOU ARE A SAINT!

Again, I would not be where I am if it was not for my family and the friends who encourage me to be the best mother, wife, writer, and teacher.

For the others I didn't personally mention just know you are still here in our hearts.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicken Boys, Randy

Since you asked the question on my last blog.  I went looking about educational statistics.

This site http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/ all you have to do is choose the state you want to inquire about.  I will be back for more on high school diploma, ACT, SAT, college grads and other information. Enjoy!

National DROP OUT RATES look here pay attention to page 33.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Texas Governmental Ingenuity Strikes Again

This is the e-letter I recieved from the Office of Susan P. Combs, Texas Comptroller:

"Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to me

show details 5:16 PM (1 hour ago)
April 22, 2010

Thank you for taking the time to submit your feedback regarding your recent experience with the Texas Trade Up Appliance Rebate Program. We know that many hardworking Texans spent hours trying to reserve a rebate. We recognize your frustrations and concerns.

As you know, Texas was given one-time only funding of approximately $23 million to implement and administer the rebate program. Regrettably, in a state our size with nearly 25 million people and limited funds, not everyone interested in the program would be able to reserve rebates. The high volume of people trying to make reservations dramatically impacted system availability and also resulted in reservations going quickly. The program experienced more than 38 million Web hits, and nearly 39,000 rebate reservations were made both through the Web site as well as the phone system.

Our staff worked with the company administering the rebates both prior to the launch date and during the day on April 7 to try to alleviate delays related to the very high demand for this program. The company administering the rebates had more than 550 agents taking calls; the online system was set up to accommodate 25,000 users at a time. However, with approximately 2,400 Web hits per second and about 1,000 calls per minute, many could not get in and some experienced technical difficulties. You can read more on our Texas Powerful Smart Web site at www.texaspowerfulsmart.org/media/100412-answers.php.

If you were unable to print your rebate application form, you may do so online or by request via telephone.

If you have a Web submission ID number, you can check the status of your rebate at https://www.txrebates.com/Status.aspx and print your form online, at https://www.txrebates.com/Reprint.aspx.

If you do not have a Web submission ID number, you can request it by calling (877) 581-1993 and either reprint online or ask for an application to be mailed to the address on file.

We understand the difficulties you experienced and your interest in saving energy with a more efficient appliance. If you were not able to reserve a rebate or get on the waitlist, we encourage you to take advantage of other local, state and federal incentives that may be available to you. More information on these incentives can be found at www.texaspowerfulsmart.org/incentives/.

Again, thank you for your feedback and your interest in the Texas Trade Up Appliance Rebate Program. We care about your experience and have read and will continue to read every comment we receive.

Lisa Elledge
Manager, Stimulus Program"


My response in turn -- in draft -- I need to walk away for a bit. LOL  "Care" does not allay improper governmental planning and consumer's fiscal responsibility. No wonder states have budget down falls.

"Dear Ms. Lisa Elledge

Manager, Stimulus Program

Respectfully, you counted all children in the state, which I will reduce by 8 million students and another 2 million under school age. That would mean 15 million eligible participants. Now let’s move onto average household size, I use the median of 3 members per household. Bringing it to only 5 million households, of which probably only 75% would or could be able to financially participate in the cash up front program. This would then bring the number of participating household to 3.75 million in the great state of Texas.

When you divide the number of household into 23 million this only works out to $6.13 per participating household. Not a sizeable amount right?


The comptroller office used a ‘weighted system’ when designing the website or telephone application process. By this I mean, a certain number of appliance were allowed for each type. For instance, if only room air conditioners were available then ‘giving out’ only 39,000 rebates the amount Texas would have rebated works out to less than 3 million dollars used of 23 million.


A nice carrot was built into this program so, politicians could label this a complete success. Much like the system did not work for the auto industry with ‘Cash for Clunkers’ because once the flux of buyers have purchased during the ‘special time;’ then no one buys for a long time after. Then if you look and analyze the first time homebuyer’s tax incentive, it too did not work. WHY? Because the banks were making folks jump through hoops then denying them loans.

The lottery system was not fair for citizens who have no internet access or telephone service. If the comptroller knew only 39,000 rebates would be meted out to Texans then a more equitable way could have been designed like:

Texans who: own a state drivers license, own a home, have multiple dependents, are employed, and are registered voters. This would have dramatically cut the pool of ‘eligible’ lab rats down to size.

So quiet frankly, I do not accept your canned email response.  Your efforts to address my concerns as public official leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.  I now understand why folks are starting movements against 'big government.'  Also, I now can plainly see why Texas ranks 47th of 50 in public education.

Former Manpower Management Technician
M Torres"


Horrible Night For Sleep

We are early to bed people.  Hubby usually turns in by 9 and I soon follow. Well seems the neighbors went fishing and came back only to call at 10:30 offering some fish - left a message on the machine.  Needless to say they awoke my sleeping bear who was not too happy since he gets up for work by 3 am in Corpus Christi. 

This in turn causes me to toss and turn for the rest of the night listening to the house settle.  I don't know what time I finally went to sleep.  Then about 2:30, I awake to hear Zephyr coughing so up to give him some medications then watch his respiration. YUP, he needs a breathing treatment with the nebulizer.

By then hubby is up............ Tells me to keep the neighbors from calling at that time of the night.
 (Like I can control them.) 

 I just nod and answer with my bloodshot eyes.

He is about to leave and comes back up stairs to tell me there is a sick  or about to die cat - laying in a box - on the back porch.  To be careful because it would not shoo. 

WONDERFUL -- rabies is bad in this part of the country. Off he goes to work.

So, here I am listening for my boy to go back to sleep, counting the chores, homeschooling, and college requirements I need to do in the mid-morning.

It's wonderful to be alive at this time of morning........snore

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Watching for the Delivery Man

Let me tell ya, even if Texas Comptroller renegs on the Trade Up Appliance Rebate.  It's okay, hubby went this passed weekend and bought a new washer for the house. YEAH, no more washing everyday because the old machine did not fill water up to a full load capacity. 

Is this not a beauty.  Hubby has learned a lot from this chicken.  He asked for a 'discount' through Sears Hometown Heros, (I had him take my military id) since, I am retired, a teacher and he is a civil servant.  He recieved a 30% discount.  This washer was $550 but, it came out to $400. But then you have to add in: Tax, Delivery, Removal Fee which brought it back to $560.  Whooop Whoop

Get this -- if the rebate programs works.  We will recieve $225 back.  Not bad

Either way, we would have spent over $700. Through careful research and 1800 phone dials; we have the potential to save big and, Chicken Mom will not have to do laundry all day.

If you want to see the specs on this model and choose the Top Load model:

Off to homeschool our boys..............

And Randy (chicken boys), 'I am not a meanie.' LMBOH! ~:>

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We started building

We started organizing our 'school house.' This will be both our chalkboard, and project board.  I used chalk board paint, two coats and it will now dry for 24 hours then I will season (cure) it with chalk before has a writeable surface.  The other side will be painted white so, I may use either an overhead projector or slide viewer.

Their lap chalk board under way.
Dad is teaching them about carpentary.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

So, You Think Your Husband Has Gas?

 With all the rain we received yesterday, one cool thing was to explain to the boys how 'gasses' escape from Mother Earth constantly.  We just don't usually 'see, hear, or smell --  it.'  The sound of all those little fonts kept the boys hopping from one water hole to the other.  We did not get the opportunity to find any water bugs.  Zephyr rescued a few soggy worms.

The Icelandic volcano eruption has been the other science discussion in our home.  Mother Earth has gas issues all the time.  LOL!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicken Coop is Now a Moat

That is the side of my house.  Over 7 inches of rain in the last 24 hours.  More later when the storms pass.

Following the flow of water.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Emotionally, Spiritually SPENT

  I don't know about ya'll but, I have give out.  This year has been especially tough trying to keep my oldest son motivated while going to public school.  Think about this, his first year of school was Head Start at age 4, 2002 (he was labeled there a problem child because he would not color). 

NO ONE LISTENED TO MOM, I told them he was dyslexic at 18 months.

Here we are at year 2010; he is 12, a 5th grade and has been through the wringer.  He knows his learning style is different; more importantly so do other children.  Saenz has Attention Deficit Disorder, IRLENS, and Dyslexia. 

My reasons to homeschool are:


A.  One thing I have noted; he doesn't understand the functions of basic foundations of math in the area of multiplication and division -- crucial skills for alegbra which, he should have already have had exposure.  Without math skills, this affect other areas of study especially science and the arts.

B.  The Accelerated Reader program has been another hinderance because, none of the chapter books are of topics in his interest. But give him a book on history or modern warfare; he will read for hours. Without reading skills or interests, this will affect every other area of my child's development.

Spiritually or the Emotionality:

A.  Inside the classroom, mates may be helpful but, once out on the school yard or on the bus; Saenz is the outsider.  In 8 years of school, he has walked a tight rope of conforming to state standards that are not educationally related.  Yes, children are taught the skills to pass TAKS but, is that a true education? I think not. 

B.  He has never dealt with change very well. So the disruption of being pulled to go to tutorials, benchmarks, and other special education help only adds to his feelings of isolation. Being kept from releasing steam through recess due to 'helping classes' another issue. He is not into team sports but, perfers one on one activities. Again all make him the: OUTSIDER

So, this afternoon through the tears and frustration, (mine was held in) and declarations of:


I called the school principal and we spoke at length. I feel his support in my efforts to withdraw my son.  Tell me of a teacher or principle who enjoys being 'forced' to teach a test? I CAN NOT...

In no way do I feel that his public school is at fault after all, they have a requirement and a contract to sign in order, to do the job they loved ---- at least in the begining.  The school is forced to 'teach' the TAKS, or whatever the new testing system is called.  His school has gotten him over the hump with reading due to IRLENS and Dyslexia however, he is coming up on puberty. 

Basically it boils down: FUNDING. My son is a cog (coin) inside the machine of public 'education' bureaucracy.  So, if I bring him home --- I will educate both our sons because our futures lay within theirs forever. 

Just random thoughts: To be educated means being able to: use, find, access information, or build on what you know and apply it to the next level.   TO QUOTE: "How do you know if learning has taken place?  You can see a change."

Steps off egg crate:

Monday, April 12, 2010

One for the Record Books

This is a weird egg day.  Seabright our Porcelin D'uccle is back to laying far left.  Fiesty laid a double yoker (green long),  and Cranky had two mini eggs which normally look like the darker brown egg below.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Baby and a tosser! LOL

Pices gets frisky.  Hubby tossed on his side and held him down after this shot!
Welcome Baby Opposum. Zephyr named him.
Aries is making sure he is all there.  One thing I have noticed. My goats mommas who, came from Hilliary; all seem to kid at or near 4 p.m. like she did. Opposum is a big ole boy.  Guess this chicken mom was right when I kept saying Aries was preggers.  She did not show like her mum or sister March.  This means we will be 'selling' Pices since, he is near weaning time.

Pup Tent standing guard in the yard.

Chicken Mom and Dad have mad skills!
The boys say Thank You Mister Larry!
We did not put the tent up yesterday since the winds were terrible.  Also Junio, Sid, Lisa, Frog and Lady Bug (last two are grand daughters) came over for a grill out Saturday.  Frog and Lady Bug spent their time learning how to chase chickens and rough house with the boys.  It was a good evening with some star gazing.  Ya'll need to come back over soon! 

This morning after chores plus the Sunday morning town run, mom and dad put the tent up for the boys. Now we are kinda stuck inside the house because a storm is on its way. 

Again, thank you Mister Larry!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mr. Larry Strikes Again

The boys got a huge surprise last night after we came home from dinner in Beeville.  Mr. Larry loves to send them things that fires up a boy's imagination.  This time he sent them an Army tent and some other military surplus bags. 

Zephyr with his new boonie hat and allergy nose atop mom's pickup.

Saenz is hankering to put up the pup tent.

The bags needed airing out.

Mr. Larry, Both boys can not say thank you enough.  Both are outside this morning, working hard with dad so, they can put up the tent if the winds die down.  It will be a fun day and with the wind a very interesting one.  Mom will take pictures of them attempting military manuevers. LOL

PSSSSSSS, Mr. Larry (Grumpy Gramps) be watching for a package in the mail.  The boys picked it out for you since you send them tales of the kitties and raccoons. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

The House Leveling Team

Well this is a little of what we seen watching the contractors work on our house leveling.  I left all our chickens in their coops yesterday and they were unhappy about that!  Can you imagine 40 chickens caught under our house? BAKKK  The ladies ran out of the coops like well bats out of Hades this morning.  It was funny, chicken stampede into the open air . SOUND THE TRUMPETS for my FEATHERED STRUMPETS. hee heee

The only problem we are having now, is the bank this company uses puts a ten day hold on our payment by check because we use a credit union in Mississippi.  I guess this area has not caught up with the modern world and Paypal money transfers. LOL Go figure....now I will have to figure out how to get the monies transferred electonically to them; thing is they still have our check.

Second great thing, we recieved our tax refund electronically. It's a nice thing to wake up to on such a beautiful but, chilly day.

Cubby's View

Hee Hee, Little Brother found Big Brother's camera again!  Am I the only one who gets dizzy?  Mr. Larry sent posters (the ones here), books, games, gifts, snacks, videos to our boys and our homeschooling efforts.  BIG THANKS!

same window -- two views

Thursday, April 8, 2010

KISMET, the chicken momma dream

We are going to have our house leveled.  I am so happy because from this 'repair,' we will be able to start on others like new siding, windows and flooring. 

The story of our house, I was stationed at Andrews, Air Force Base in Maryland and my husband worked in the housing office.  We started looking for a house online since, I was a year from retirement and just had Zephyr.  We needed to buy our first home a final place to raise our boys with stability in a rural community.  We poured over 1000s of listings.  I had a 'pre-set' idea of what I wanted. 

1.  NO BIG CITY  immdiately ruled out San Antonio, Corpus, Dallas, Houston & Austin
2. Excellent School System (yes I checked out online school report cards.)
3. Sexual Offenders registration
4. Some acreage
5. A house payment that would equal no more than 25% of my retirement pay.
6. Trees
7.  Allowed chickens, gardening and maybe other animals

Of course, all this lended to limit our choices especially the budgetary issue since, my husband would not have a job upon arrival. One night while watching Special Victims Unit,

the page loaded and there stood my HAD TO HAVE HOUSE..

It looked kinda like a barn, no easements, and five acres.  It was KISMET or meant to be.  We went through all the paper work online, fought to get the house and nearly lost it three times to others, inspection rules, and lack of running water inside the house plus two broken windows.

After I retired, we drove from Maryland to this place our place....with knee high dry grass and open space. We showed up at our home seven months after closing, never have been inside with just 15 minutes before the moving van showed up on January 7th 2006.

I like that kind of fresh start from scratch; not knowing, butterfly feeling like the first drop on a  roller coaster, stomach knotted excitement--feeling like I get with my husband.  The thrill of the UNKNOWN....

I still love this house and the life we are building inside this home.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Texas POWERFUL SMART 1800 busy tones

After approximately 1800 rings by my own fingers the fund is down from 24 Million to 4 Million.  I have been signed up for this program almost a full year. The website is down, server is unavailable.  And if I ever find that woman on the recording.

OOHHHH it won't be pretty! LOL

One last ditch effort:

Got me to the fill out page, no less than three times.  Feathers crossed.

Texas Trade Up, Powerful Smart

4 1/2 Hours in

Do you think the majority of folks getting 'in' are in major cities like San Antonio, Houston, Dallas where, the demand for electricity is greater.

I know for a fact calls can be routed based upon NUMBER called from.

My arms are jello and the website is still down.