Mike (my husband to me): Why are you being so nice to me now? How can women be one way one moment and another way the next?

Makailya (our daughter): It’s called multitasking, Dad.

Mike: It’s not multitasking, it’s multi-tuding.



NO Homework and Recess All Day

Would you click on a link like my title on Craigslist? (I really would like to know your feedback on the title and content!)

Well, I just posted it on Craigslist under “childcare” tonight. Below is a copy of what I posted, including the pictures.  I would put in a link, but it will be dead in 7 days. You might be reading this on the 8th day.

Oh, and if you want to go to the meeting, you can come…even if it’s after the 7th day 🙂



I know the title is a bit strange, but I’m looking for unsatisfied and/or like-minded parents, educators, visionaries, or anyone else with a passion for children and young people. Let’s talk.

I am going to start a learner-centered educational resource center or school in the AV. I am going to build a community of passionate, life-long learners! How it is developed really depends on the needs in the community; therefore, I would like to talk with you.

Also, I know of other people in the Los Angeles and Inland Empire area who also want to start learner-centered schools. We can set up meetings closer to you if you live south of the Antelope Valley.

The book “No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education” by Jerry Mintz ( is an overview of a growing movement in learner-centered education. If you Google “alternative education” you will see so many ideas and different educational philosophies in action. I’m talking beyond charter schools and independent study.

Are you a homeschooler, unschooler, parent looking for another answer besides public, charter, or private schools but don’t know where to start, or perhaps someone weary with the constant fight to do homework or your child lacking a desire to go to school?

I want to share what I’ve learned and what I am going to do. I have other parents ready to have a meeting because they need something to change in their child’s schooling. I have been learning and have returned from a conference with lots of good information.

Even if you are unsure about alternative education or maybe just the idea sound strange and unfamiliar, I hope you will come to a meeting if only to be encouraged. You’re not alone, and maybe I can help give you resources to help you in your journey.

I am passionate about education, and I love being with kids! I have been in education in one form or another for over 20 years: I am a parent of four adult “children”, have homeschooled and unschooled, have been a teacher and principal in a private school, have been a preschool and kindergarten teacher, and have tutored children and adults. Currently I am tutoring at-risk youth. In all situations, I see a reoccurring theme of frustrated students, teachers, and parents. I believe that a fundamental change in how we do school can make a difference.

Email me with questions or if you want to attend a meeting. I really do look forward to talking with you!


btw…The type of school I’m going to talk about does not exist in the AV.


Waiting to capture that one moment of time is like fishing. Patience, timing, and love of what you do! You keep casting your line out there hoping to get a bite. Some days are better than others, but you love it anyway. Out of over 300 pictures taken over the weekend in Angels Camp, California, this is the only one worth posting! (Gotta love digital!) When someone realized how many pictures I was taking, he jokingly said, “You oughta take photography lessons!” He obviously doesn’t fish 🙂


by the way, the photo is of my cousin, Beth. She loves to “fish” as much as I do!

I Can See Clearly Now

This is a story of hope even though it is about losing three special ladies within a short space of time due to cancer. Some years later, we lost my aunt to cancer. Many times I will write when I am doing a lot of thinking and need to express how I feel (now you know why I have a blog!). As I was cleaning up my computer files, I came across a document dated August 2008. Below is what I wrote during the time my aunt was battling cancer. This is dedicated to Aunt Sylvia, Holly, Michone, and Teri with much love:

My mom called this morning. My aunt just went into surgery today to remove a cancerous tumor in her colon. But they couldn’t remove it (don’t have details yet), so her only other option is chemo. Without chemo she has about a year, and maybe longer with chemo. My aunt has lost a lot of weight and is very weak. She was drinking Reliv (nutritious drink), but now can’t keep that down. Mom is really having a hard time with this. If they come to mind, please pray for them and the rest of our family. My aunt’s daughter (my cousin) died a few years ago with cancer, so this is very hard, especially for my aunt’s children.

A thought had come to me a few days ago. When we pray for God to heal someone, we know that He can do it. But as we know, it doesn’t always happen, or at least not the way we think it should. For example, at the same time my cousin was diagnosed with cancer, two very close friends were also diagnosed. And don’t you know how hard we prayed for all three to be healed?! Two of them were my age and the other a bit younger. They all had children. I never lost faith of His healing power, but when they eventually died, I did a lot of wondering out loud to God.

Then I remembered a prayer I had prayed several years back for my close friend. I said, “God, whatever it takes, I pray that Teri will come to know you as her Lord and Savior.” WHATEVER IT TAKES….those were my exact words that were coming back to me. And when she was battling for her life, she did cry out to Him. And she had quite a hard life filled with poor choices before she allowed Jesus into her heart. But the transformation in her life was undeniable.

Then I was reminded of the prayer for my cousin. “Lord, please bring a very special man into Michone’s life who will love her unconditionally.” She was always “looking for love in all the wrong places”. And of course, I also prayed for her salvation. A VERY SPECIAL MAN…hmmmmm. When I heard her take her last breath in the hospital that early morning, I ran to get the nurse. It was amazing to me that I heard it while I was half asleep. It was as if her breath was magnified in the silent room.  They worked to revive her to no avail. As I stood back, I felt such a deep fear. I said, “Lord, please don’t let her go unless you are taking her home.” You see, I had planned on talking to her in the morning about Jesus. Her only clear moments were in the mornings. Did I miss His timing? I couldn’t bear that thought. I felt sick. Later that day, I had an opportunity to talk to the pastor, who happened to be her neighbor. He said that before she went into the hospital, she had asked him questions about the Lord. This was the first time she wanted to know anything more about Him. He said they had had a very good talk.

Then there was Holly. You would have loved Holly. She was full of love and life. I always admired her tenacity as she faithfully stood by her alcoholic, drug-addicted husband. She kept hoping that he would relinquish his life to the Lord. Now, don’t get me wrong. At times she felt hurt and anger as she watched the father of her four children destroy his life. But she always loved and always hoped. I thought for sure that this woman of God, who had given so much, would be healed. “Jesus, how could these children be without a mother? What would happen to her husband? For their sake, please heal Holly.” FOR THEIR SAKE…..hmmmmmm. It seemed like Holly hung on, almost as if desperately waiting for something to happen. Her bed had been moved to the living room of the house as her husband stayed by her side consistently. However, this particular time he was gone. On his way home, he decided to go to an AA meeting. Please forgive my vague details from a unclear memory, but basically he stood up in the meeting to speak. He gave God glory and said that if it wasn’t for Holly, he wouldn’t be there. While he was at the meeting, Holly passed away.

Three stories; one question. Why? The words, “WHATEVER IT TAKES”, “A VERY SPECIAL MAN”, and “FOR THEIR SAKE” jumped out to me. OH, the power of prayer! The Lord DID answer my prayers. I believe Teri would not have given her life to the Lord without enduring her battle. Cancer is what it took for her to realize her frailty without Christ. She always knew she would be healed. In her last days she experienced such a peace that passes all understanding. Michone’s very special man who loves her unconditionally is Jesus! I believe she is experiencing His love, joy, and peace now! And for the sake of Holly’s family, she was taken home. I believe her husband and children were given an opportunity to see Holly’s relationship with the Lord that never wavered while cancer raged in her body. Her husband, who is now the strength for the children, is a changed man.

I don’t understand it all. Maybe one day He will tell me. Until then, I know that His ways are definitely not our ways, but always supreme. We just can’t see the bigger picture. Life goes beyond death. All three ladies WERE healed. They no longer suffer in emotional or physical pain. They are free. It’s just not the way I thought it was going to happen.

I do miss them dearly, and I know their families do, too. When we were kids, Michone had the wonderful idea of starting a singing group with all of us girl cousins. We were going to be “The Cousettes”! Don’t you just love it?! We were even going to wear matching white pant suits, which I think was my idea! And our first song? “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash. Now you can, Michone, and one day I will, too!

“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothing but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.”


The World at Night

I don’t know what it is about the night sky, but I love it! For example, the following links feature two “The World at Night 2011” photos on from a recent photo contest.

Venus Above Reunion Island

Alps at Night

I would love to be able to take pictures like that! Friends of ours, Roland and Linda Beard, have a Parables of the Sky blog. Among other things, they observe and sketch the heavens from a biblical viewpoint. I don’t know how God created the beautiful heavens, I just know He did. And it’s awesome!

I remember sitting in our backyard at night with my dad. I was about six years old. He was explaining to me the difference between the red and blue stars. A horse in the neighboring yard behind us would persistently sway against the wooden fence. He wouldn’t stop until Dad gave him an apple. Maybe he wanted to be a part of our little science lesson. Or maybe he just wanted an apple. Either way, he got what he wanted.

Mom and Dad separated when I was seven.

My memories before the separation are generally vague, but there are some that stand out.

  • A welcome letter from my Kindergarten teacher before school started. Miss McCann, your loving example inspired me to be a teacher!
  • The little corner market selling glass bottles of Dr. Pepper that had a deliciously distinct flavor that you don’t taste in today’s Dr. Pepper. Dad liked Dr. Pepper.
  • My beloved aqua and brown plaid dress that eventually became a shirt and had to be repaired by Aunt Bonnie and reinvented by Mom. Yes, I still have it.
  • Waking up in the night to my little brother puking all over my back. To this day I don’t like beans.
  • The house next to us that burned down one night. Not sure why, but I was afraid of my closet after that.
  • My mom trying to cover the sounds of the ringing black rotary wall telephone with a cloth diaper. I guess she could have used an “Ignore” button back then!
  • The day I discovered Band-Aids and how many boo-boos I actually had.
  • A boy in school telling me I looked like a bear in my new hooded jacket. I never wore it again.
  • My cousin, Beth, explaining to me that those were not trees on top of the mountains, but they were Indians. One was sitting down.
  • The original Star Trek, the evening news about the Vietnam War (which scared me enough to dislike watching the news for several years), talk about a man named Neil Armstrong and his walk on the moon, a new show called Sesame Street, and the Flintstones. “I want to see Barney!” I would cry when mom told me it was time to take a nap. That was the only character name I could remember as I desperately tried to convince mom to let me skip the nap. But I think Mom really needed me to take a nap that day. It was intense sometimes between Dad and her.

When I was sitting and looking at the night sky with Dad, I was enveloped by the stars and galaxies. Neil Armstrong couldn’t hold a candle to my dad. I didn’t understand everything Dad was saying, but I hung onto his words.  I wonder if I had suspected he would be leaving. It didn’t matter, though, because that night was special. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love the world at night and all of the nightly treasures in the sky. It reminds me of Dad.


p.s. Thanks, Mom, for not letting that be one of my final memories with Dad and for allowing me the opportunity to have more discussions with him…some that I still don’t always completely understand 🙂

I Will Smile at the Storm

I like to write stories. I have some stories that are unfinished. The other day, I was looking for a story to give to one of the girls I tutor. I want to encourage her to write, so I thought she could read the story and then write the next part. Below is one of my stories, which I started writing in 2001. Let me know what you think 🙂

I Will Smile at the Storm

Lexi McAllister sang half-heartedly to herself. This Tuesday afternoon she was in a “not-interested-in-anything” mood. Yet this song kept coming to her.

Sailing, I’m sailing home,

Sailing, I’m sailing home.

With Christ in my vessel,

I will smile at the storm

Until He takes me home.

“What a silly song,” Lexi mumbled. With her chin resting on her arms, Lexi lay on her stomach as her legs swayed in the air to the tune. She had learned this song in Sunday school. In all her eleven years, Lexi could not remember missing a lot of days of Sunday school. Last Sunday, however, was different than any other Sunday. Why was that song still squeezing through her thoughts? She really didn’t understand it, but…

Ring, ring,” the telephone interrupted. As Lexi’s mom, Beth, answered the phone, Lexi noticed Kitty basking in the sunlight next to her. Kitty always seemed to be in a “not-interested-in-anything” mood. Leaning over to scratch behind the orange kitten’s ear, Lexi remembered the words of her Sunday school teacher, Miss May.

“With Jesus in you, you can face anything. He loves you and wants to live inside of you. When He is there, you will have peace to weather any storm that may come. If you let Him, He will cause the fear to leave. I’m going to retell an account from the Bible. You’ll find it in Mark 4:37-41. Just like Jesus was in that tiny boat, so He wants to come and be in your vessel.

One day Jesus was in a boat with His disciples on the lake. As dark storm clouds rolled in with the sound of thunder and flash of lightening, the enormous waves tossed the little fishing boat to and fro. Fear struck all of the men—except one, Jesus. Racing to throw out excess weight, the men desperately sought an answer. Where was their hope? Would they stay afloat or would they escape the swallowing sea?

As if nestled in the Father’s loving arms, Jesus slept peacefully. The faithless men cried, “Master, master! We’re going to die!” Upon awakening, Jesus spoke with complete confidence to the storm that ravaged violently around them.

“Peace, be still.” The magnitude of the storm did not compare to the awesome stillness that miraculously flooded the sky and sea. The hearts of the men began to ease into a silent rhythm as they stood in amazement and wonder. Who was this man who commanded the storm?”

Lexi was startled out of her thoughts by her mom’s plea. “Alexis! Come quickly. We need to leave right away.” She only called her by her full name if it was something important or she was in trouble. She stood up promptly.

“Do you remember my friend, Lily Sanders? I met her at the homeless shelter last Christmas.” Lexi nodded slowly as she tried to remember. “She is from the Cornerstone Church. We were serving Christmas dinner together.”

“Oh, now I remember! She has a girl my age named Katie. She was fun to be around. She could always make me laugh! I haven’t seen her since the beginning of summer.”

“Yes. Well, Mrs. Sanders just called me. Katie is very sick in the hospital. Honey, she has cancer.” Beth paused as her eyes tenderly observed Lexi. Lexi stared at her mom.

“What?” She couldn’t register that word: cancer. Lexi knew that cancer was a deadly disease. But she couldn’t understand how Katie, someone her age, could be so sick. Would she die?

“Lexi,” Beth said softly as she put her arm around her daughter. “We need to go now to encourage Katie and her mom. This is very hard for them.”

Without further thought, Lexi went out to the car as Beth quickly gathered her purse and keys. As they drove away, Lexi could hear the Sunday school song flowing once again through her thoughts.

Sailing, I’m sailing home,

Sailing, I’m sailing home.

With Christ in my vessel,

I will smile at the storm

Until He takes me home.

When they arrived at the huge brick-layered hospital, Beth and Lexi went inside and weaved through the halls. It seemed like a maze. Every so often, Beth would ask an employee for directions to the Children’s Center.

Lexi felt like she was in a storm like Jesus’ disciples. Anticipation filled the air. What would Lexi find when she got to Katie’s room? Would she look disgusting and “cancer-like”—whatever “cancer-like” was. Maybe she would have no hair and big sores everywhere. Would Katie be so sad that she wouldn’t want to see anyone? Would she be mad at God for allowing her to be sick and not able to play with the other children? Lexi could only guess what to expect.

As they approached Room 312 Beth and Lexi pushed through the door. Lily was sitting beside Katie’s bed with the Bible in her lap. Lily’s dark, silky skin seemed rugged today. Several frays of black hair framed her tired face. Lexi could tell that a quick roll of Mrs. Sanders’s hair into a bun was the only evidence of hair-grooming this morning. Lexi remembered her as always neat in appearance. Yet today was different.

Katie’s eyes slowly began to shine as she awoke and realized that she had visitors. A sigh of relief escaped Lexi’s lips.

“So far, so good,” Lexi thought. Lexi didn’t notice any sores. Giggles erupted from both girls as Beth and Lily embraced each other. Lexi wondered if everyone felt the peace in the room.

Standing at the foot of the bed, Lexi observed the tubes going to and from the pale, thin girl. Lexi was relieved, however, that Katie had hair! Even more exciting was that her long, black hair was neatly braided into two braids with curls at the ends.

“Katelyn, I’m going to take Mrs. McAllister for a walk around the hospital. We won’t be long.”

“Okay, Mom. Remember where you are and don’t get lost!” Lily smiled as she recalled the few times she did get lost. Katie waved at the ladies as they went out of the door. “Guess what, Lexi?” When Katie spoke, Lexi noticed calmness in Katie’s voice. “A nurse came in and told me that I might be able to go to the hospital garden tomorrow. They have a pond there with fish in it. I like fish. I have a fish tank at home. I used to have five goldfish, but one died.”

Lexi was startled. She searched Katie’s face for any reaction to her account of the dead goldfish. However, without a pause, Katie continued. “I don’t know what happened. Maybe I fed them too much. Anyway, our neighbor said that goldfish stink, and I should think about getting a bird! I think he was teasing, but I like my fish anyway. Do you like fish?”

“I guess they’re alright. I think I would rather have a puppy. Right now we have a kitten, but she doesn’t do much but sleep. Except at night. Then she’s all over the place. Dad said we couldn’t have a dog. One time I thought a hamster would be fun. We had one in our class last year. Do you have any animals at home?”

“No. It’s a good thing, though. Now that I am sick, I couldn’t take care of any animals. Did your mom tell you that I have cancer?”

Lexi hesitated. She didn’t know what to say at first. “She did, but she didn’t know very much about it. We came over as soon as we found out.”

“I’m glad you did. I know everything will be okay, but it gets hard sometimes, especially with my mom. I know she tries to keep a strong front for my sake. Even if she’s not crying on the outside, I know she’s crying on the inside. I keep thinking about the other kids who are sick, too. They don’t know Jesus. Sometimes I can tell them about Him when the nurse takes me down the hall.”

Lexi was amazed at Katie. She knew that Katie loved the Lord. But here she was sick, and she was thinking about someone else. It was as if she wasn’t afraid to die.

However, as if she knew what Lexi was thinking, Katie said, “Sometimes I get afraid. Sometimes I don’t want to die. But I just pray, and the Lord comes. He takes my fears away. Then I know everything will be okay, even if I do die.” There was something about Katie’s eyes as she smiled at Lexi.

“Even if you die?” Lexi thought to herself. “So, when…do you…” Lexi struggled with her words as her eyes searched the ground.

Katie giggled. “You want to know if I will be able to ever come home, and if so, when?” Lexi sighed. She had always liked this girl from the first day they met. Immediately Lexi, still standing by the foot of the bed, came and positioned herself next to Katie on the bed. Katie quickly moved over to give her friend a place.

“I just don’t understand how you can be here. I just saw you at the beginning of summer at the Helping Hands Food Bank. You weren’t sick then. Remember? You and I had so much fun packing food baskets. But now…how can this happen to you? What do the doctors say?”

Katie looked at Lexi as if gazing into her heart. “Lexi, I don’t know why the Lord allowed this to happen to me. But this I know, it doesn’t matter what the doctors say. It only matters what God says. And He has put a peace in my heart that nothing can take away. I have more joy today than I did in the summer. I love the Lord more today because I have drawn closer to Him. He has waited a long time for me to draw near to Him.” Katie leaned closer to Lexi as she whispered, “Lexi, He’s been waiting a long time for you to draw closer to Him, too.”

Lexi stared at Katie. Everything she had said pierced her heart. But it was a piercing that didn’t hurt. It changed something in her heart.

For the rest of the afternoon, the girls giggled and talked about what they did during the summer. Just as Lexi was wondering if her mom and she should be going home, Beth and Lily walked in. Although Lily looked like she had been crying, she looked refreshed.

“Well, I didn’t get lost this time. I showed Mrs. McAllister the garden. It is so beautiful. I hope you can go tomorrow, Katelyn.”

“I was hoping that Lexi could come with me tomorrow. Lexi, would you like to come see the garden with me?” Lexi looked at her mom.

“Can I, Mom? We get out of school at twelve tomorrow. We can come after lunch.”

“I think that’s a good idea. But we need to go right now. Your dad will be home soon, and we have dinner to make.” Lexi’s mom gathered her purse and gave Lily a quick hug. She then leaned over to kiss Katie on the forehead. Lexi squeezed Katie’s hand.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Lexi said as she followed her mom out of the room.

On the way home, Lexi began to sing:

Sailing, I’m sailing home,

Sailing, I’m sailing home.

With Christ in my vessel,

I will smile at the storm

Until He takes me home.