To Write–Perchance To Dream

I spoke at a homeschooling convention yesterday.  Part of me was wowed by the fact that I had been asked to speak at the convention that, in years past, had been the iconic Homeschooling Event Of The Year in these parts.  The other part of me mitigated that with the fact that, facing competition with other conventions, it has become a much smaller affair.  And the fact that I was only doing an exhibitor’s workshop.

So it wasn’t like I was a keynote speaker or anything.

But I was still thrilled.

In a vague attempt to fool myself into not thinking too highly of myself (because, come on, seriously.  We all do.), I had myself convinced that I would probably attract three or four attendees, and I pictured us pulling our chairs into a circle and having a nice Socratic Dialogue about the topic.

After all, I was representing Classical Conversations, so that would have been fitting.

It turned out to be standing room only, and they turned people away at the door.  Small room, so maybe 40 or so people.  I had made only 10 copies of my handouts.

But it went well, I think. It seemed well-received.  They laughed at most of my jokes, anyway.  I probably told too many – I usually do. But a couple of people stayed after to ask questions, so it couldn’t have been awful.

When I got home, the 14 year old asked me how it went.  I told him how amazed I was that so many people attended.  He looked thoughtful, and then asked me what my topic was.  So I told him it was “How Do I Teach All These Children And Still Get Dinner On The Table?”

He rolled his eyes at me.

“Mom, of COURSE they wanted to hear about that. You should have booked a bigger room.”

It was at this point that it really started to dawn on me that after 17 years of homeschooling, I might know some stuff that people need to hear.  Because while, in my mind, all those articles have already been written, it occurs to me that there is a whole new crop of homeschoolers who aren’t likely to dig through back issues of Home Schooling Enrichment Magazine for the answers to their burning questions.

So I have decided to start writing again.


As soon as I get my curriculum chosen for the British Lit. class I’m teaching in the fall.

But right after that.  I am TOTALLY going to start writing again.

Bug me if I don’t. (Although, if you do, you may want to stand ready to duck, because if you have chosen the wrong time to nudge, like, say, when grades are due, I may throw something).

Categories: Blogging, Education, Family, Homeschooling | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

No Filter December – Day 31: The Final Day

No Filter December has come to an end. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of blogging under the No Filter title so much, I may just declare next year “No Filter 2015.”  Let’s just consider it that between ourselves, though, so I don’t have to preface every title with it, because frankly, that got tedious this month.

041At any rate, it’s New Year’s Eve. Time for the Traditional Schmidt Household New Year’s Bash, a rollicking good time wherein we drink Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider and do a jigsaw puzzle.  Sometimes, if we’re feeling daring, we light a fire.  This year we added a pot of chili to the mix AND were treated to gluten-free donuts made by the 14 year old.  (There was a slight misunderstanding about the difference between 1/2 tsp and 2 tsp when it came to the salt measurement in the recipe, however, so we didn’t actually eat the donuts.)

When I was young and single, I did my time at New Year’s Eve parties. I remember one in particular, a rather large one for the Singles group at a popular church.  After a painful hour or so, a friend and I, having recognized a certain desperation in each others’ countenances, politely sidled out without drawing undue attention to ourselves. As soon as we got to the sidewalk, we ran, yelling “Aaugh,” down the street.  Yes, we literally yelled, “Aaugh.” It was that bad.

We ended up at a party at the home of a friend of his. It was a handful of people, and we sat around and played quiet games and chatted and I do believe it was the best New Year’s Eve party I have ever attended.

That was the last year I attended a big party.

A quick look at my Facebook newsfeed tells me that I’m not alone in enjoying staying home on New Year’s Eve, so either I’m getting old or a lot of people have come to the same conclusion as I that large New Year’s parties are overrated.

So to those of you who are joining the loud, the frantic and the raucous this evening in your celebration, I tip my hat.  To those of you who are joining me in staying home, I lift my glass of sparkling cider to you and offer you a quiet and understanding grin.

And, since I spent some time with this little guy earlier today while his mistress and my daughter were riding bikes at the beach, I also offer you a Happy New Year grin from Sam.  No, he’s really grinning. Really.






Categories: Around Town, Blogging, Family, Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

No Filter December – Day 25: Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas From the Beach


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No Filter December – Day 11: The Christmas Party

Now, in the title I said “party,” as in singular, but what I really mean is parties, as in Oh My Goodness, People, Does EVERYONE have to have a party this time of year and how on earth do you guys find time to plan these things, let alone cook and decorate for them and now my son wants to have one too and I just laughed at him and now he is looking at me funny.

You get it, right?  Parti-bus?

You get it, right? Partibus?

“Pars, partis” is Latin for the noun “part.” The plural form of this word for both the dative and ablative cases is “partibus,” which I found delightful when I was learning Latin.

I mention this simply because I spent 6 hours with my Classical Conversations students today, at least half of which, after the Dreaded Logic Final (5 pages, baby) and six Art Lecture Presentations (they were all brilliant), was spent having a Christmas Party.  We told embarrassing stories, drank tea, ate food, sang Christmas carols and took group pictures.  And let me tell you, taking group pictures with a bunch of 15 year old girls should be classed as an Olympic sport.

I am now exhausted, and therefore punchy. That’s my excuse for my strange sense of humor today.  (The rest of the year, well, let’s just say I really need those filters I have eschewed this month for my No Filter December Jig.)

At any rate, last Monday night I had two different parties to attend, both of which I missed due to the stomach flu.

On Wednesday the two younger kids had two parties (one in P.E. class, one at youth group), one of which required a treat to share (and we’re gluten-free, so that’s not something you just pick up on the way there) and the other of which required an unwrapped toy per child, to be donated to a local hospital, and a wrapped white elephant gift each.

This morning each kid had a Christmas Party Potluck in their CC classes, as did I, which meant three sets of (gluten-free) Potluck Fare, two wrapped Secret Santa gifts and eight wrapped Christmas gifts for my students, not to mention the other things I mentioned yesterday that I had thought would be spiffing to bring to class today.

We are then party-free until Sunday.

This is then followed by another party on Monday, which requires another white elephant gift.

And then we have another on Thursday of next week. This one requires only (gluten-free) cookies.

This brings us to the next weekend, when we will be missing my good friend’s birthday/Christmas party, because we are hosting not a Christmas Party, but a 21st Birthday Celebration for my oldest.

And then this is followed closely by Christmas itself.

So two things:

1) Do any of you seriously still think homeschooling is dangerous because of the whole “socialization” issue?

2) If I accidentally say “Bah, Humbug” in the next week or so, well, I’m hoping it will at least be understandable to the twelve people who read this blog. (Hi, Mom!)

Here is the Official Picture of the Day:


I forgot to mention that today was Ugly Christmas Sweater Day as well. I didn’t have one, but I did have 34 years worth of Christmas jewelry to choose from. I chose all the pieces I could find at 7:30 a.m.  My husband bought me the light-up necklace and flashing earrings from The Home Depot. Yep, I’m livin’ the dream.

And here, just because it is cool, and because readers who scroll to the bottom deserve to be rewarded, is a Bonus Photo.  This is a pillow I received as a gift from the one student who gets certain of my jokes during class.  Last year I made at least 4 Doctor Who disciples; I still have another semester to go with this crowd, so I have high hopes.

It LIGHTS UP, people.  With a BLUE light, because Alan insisted it couldn't be a white light and fixed it. (Sharpies fix everything)

It LIGHTS UP, people. With a BLUE light, because Alan insisted it couldn’t be a white light and fixed it. (Sharpies fix everything)


Categories: Around Town, Blogging, Christmas, Education, Family, Homeschooling | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Filter December – Day Nine: Back To Mexico

I didn’t actually go back to Mexico today, but since the 14 year old and I brought home a souvenir of our trip last weekend in the form of a stomach bug, we won’t be going anywhere soon.  This cuts down significantly on my No Filter December photo ops for the day, and I have 308 photos from the weekend just begging to be posted somewhere, so I will spend the next few days doing a TBT of sorts.  Despite the fact that it isn’t Thursday.  And that I’m only throwing back a couple of days.

Friday, Dec. 5, 2014

Mexico 2013 Best of (2)We arrived in Rosarito at lunch time and met up with our missionary friends, the Wilsons, at Mariscos Tito’s.  Just as I had predicted.  There are certain elements of these missions trips that are predictable, and this is one of them.

The rest of the trip, also predictably, generally falls under the category of The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men.

In fact, David Wilson’s favorite thing to say when working with mission groups is, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be broken.”  It’s just an unavoidable aspect of taking 27 people from one country and coordinating efforts with a handful of people and a couple of organizations in another country, crossing both language and cultural barriers.  A veritable plethora of cracks through which details may fall abounds in situations like this.

So one can either get bent out of shape that the Schedule Was Not Followed, or one can see these cracks as New Opportunities instead.  We know this going in, so while we have an Itinerary, it’s considered, like the Pirate Code, to be “more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

Baja Mission 12-2014 035cropThe rest of Friday actually did follow more or less according to the Itinerary, with the ten under-15-year-olds in the team joining with a local group of missionary kids to make Christmas cards to be given out through local ministries.

It must have been a little surreal for the kids, however, considering that they got up early in the morning, drove a long way on the freeway, then reached a scary place with high fences and guards with guns who might at any minute pull over one of the cars in the group and search it, and then found themselves in a place that looked completely different from the only world they had known so far in their lives, where everyone was driving crazy and nothing was in English except the signs for Office Depot, McDonalds and Burger King.

As if this wasn’t enough for one day, after an hour or so of acclimating to the foreignness of it all, these kids were piled into cars, bumped down some pot-hole-ridden roads and before they knew it, they were sitting around at a house on the beach with a bunch of American kids, eating sugar cookies and making Christmas cards.

Kids are resilient, so they handled it well.  The cards were made, the kids filled up on cookies.  At this point, however, due to some last-minute shuffling of team members, a couple of the mothers who had probably not intended to drive in Mexico found themselves faced with piling more kids into their cars than they had seatbelts for and following a caravan of cars through the streets of Rosarito at dusk during rush-hour.  And let’s just say that traffic laws in Rosarito are another thing that tends to be treated like the Pirate Code.  These women deserve an Award of Bravery.

Baja Mission 12-2014 046In the meantime, the rest of the team was setting up for an appreciation dinner for volunteers at Capilla Calvario/Calvary Chapel Rosarito.  The name of the church is such a mouthful because everything they do there, from the sermon to the worship songs to the announcements and signage, is bilingual.  It takes a little longer, but it results in a wonderful melding not just of two languages but of two cultures into one, unified body of believers numbering above 1500 members.  It takes a lot of staff and volunteer members to keep a church of that size going, and our team was privileged to be the ones serving them at the dinner.

The waiters waiting to wait.

The waiters waiting to wait.


Baja Mission 12-2014 089It was just as well there were 27 of us, because it took all members of the team, from the 6 year old to the 66 year old, to get that much spaghetti and salad delivered to the tables of guests.

Baja Mission 12-2014 100By the time the dinner was served, and the team was fed, we were all exhausted.

Except for the kids, who were playing in the church playground.

It was at this point that our leader, Andy, told us he was coming down with the flu, so we pulled the kids off the swings and headed back to the guest house where we were staying.


Baja Mission 12-2014 028The adults sat and rested then for a while… while the kids played basketball.

I’m pretty sure the kids would have kept going all night if the parents hadn’t insisted on bed, knowing that we had to be up at 5:30 the next morning.

Youth is indeed wasted on the young.


Categories: Blogging, Faith, Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Filter December – Day Seven: Stuck At The Border

My amazing weekend in Mexico came to a screeching halt just as I was re-entering the United States this afternoon. I had so carefully packed my passport and my daughter’s birth certificate, but somehow I had completely forgotten that I would also need my green card to re-enter the country.

This is not my first border crossing. And it’s not like being a non-U.S. Citizen is something new for me. So I don’t really know what was up with that.

Off I gallivanted to Mexico, blissfully ignorant of the doom that awaited me until we pulled up to the guard station after an hour and a half of waiting and trying not to buy things from the vendors that patrol the border lines. It was at this point that I looked over at my friend Virginia’s green card and went, “Ohhhhhhh….”

If it hadn’t been for my hero of a husband, who jumped in the car and drove for 2 hours to bring me my green card, I would still be there. Because even though they can easily look up my information in the system, with or without the Alien Identification Number that I memorized years ago for just such an occasion as this, and even though the border guards themselves were completely convinced that I was not a criminal or a terrorist or anything other than an absent-minded middle-aged woman, they said the point was that I just could not come into the country without the proper documentation in hand.

Unless, that is, I paid them a “waiver fee” of $595. This fee would be a one-time thing, and if it turned out I had actually LOST the card, I would then have to pay an additional $450 for a replacement card. I am sure that somewhere up the chain of command, this line of reasoning makes sense to someone.

A friendly border guard also advised me that it would take more than two hours to do the paperwork, considering that there was another forgetful woman ahead of me with the same problem.  He posited that my husband stood a good chance, given the fact that traffic would be lighter during the Chargers game in San Diego, of getting there sooner than they could process me and my $595 fee.

So Alan jumped in the car and headed south. And I waited on a metal chair that was just a couple of inches too high for my short legs, which meant I either had to dangle my feet, or sit slumped down on the chair and put one toe on the floor.  Needless to say, my legs took turns falling asleep.

I hadn’t packed any books for the weekend, figuring that there would be no time to sit and read while on a mission trip, and my phone died after the first 30 minutes, so I just had to sit there and deal with the realization of my worst fear – the Fear of Having Nothing To Read.

I did have my camera, and as I had this blog in mind, I was about to take a photo of the waiting room, when my eyes lit on a giant sign outside the window that said, “No Photography.”

Not wanting to tempt fate, I dutifully put the camera away.

So here is today’s photo:

You may have surmised, given the publication of this blog, that I made it home okay.  I did. I survived.  It wasn’t the end of the world.  And while I didn’t really get a chance to converse with anyone else in the waiting room, given their ignorance of English and my ignorance of Spanish, I did manage to give a cough drop to a very sick older lady who should have been home in bed, but was apparently being brought to a doctor in the States by her adult children.  She was wearing her house slippers.  Her cough was painful, and when I handed her the cough drop her son was so grateful that I had reached out to her instead of moving away from her, it made my 2 hours on the chair worth it.  Because as annoying as my wait in that room was, I can’t imagine how stressful it was for them.

Categories: Around Town, Blogging, Family, Los Angeles | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

No Filter December

I am aware that today is still actually November.

However, the 12 year old has convinced me to get down the Christmas decorations, and despite the cold I’m fighting, I gave in.

And as I sat down to recover from all that ladder climbing and box schlepping, something I read on another blog about taking a photo a day for 365 days was buzzing around my brain, and I came up with the idea of posting a photo a day for a month, and accompanying it with a few words regarding whatever I was thinking that day.

Which seems rather self-serving, but if I go too far down that road I will stop writing altogether.  And maybe, amongst all the “okay, Julia, thanks for sharing” posts, there may be a gem that makes someone smile or helps someone along.

Anyone want to join me?  No Filter December.  Photos, thoughts, whatever is on your mind.  Doesn’t have to be earth-shattering.  Doesn’t have to be long.  Just post.

Plus it’s a good bandwagon to jump on for those of us who missed NaBloPoMo.  Ahem.

Can we just called this decorated already?

Can we just call this decorated already?  #CloseEnough

Categories: Around Town, Blogging, Christmas, Family | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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