Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Springtime in Paris!

tableOo-la-la! In my last post, I mentioned some of my favorite springtime things here in Texas. And while I could travel up the road and show you images of Paris, Texas, this particular Paris, the World’s Fair of 1889, was created for the Texas Christian napoleonHomeschool Prom. All 1,750 students were treated to an evening on the Champs Elysees, exploring cafe’s, gift shops, the catacombs, and even the Arc de Triomphe.

MC_MG_0705 (128)-XLAlong the way, they also were able to meet various famous people who had actually attended the World’s Fair that year. Folks like Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and Theodore Roosevelt.

phantomscaredIn addition were some other characters from the world of entertainment like Gaston and Belle, the Three Musketeers, the Phantom of the Opera, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

quarter dance floorThe students hardly left the dance floor, however. Or should I say, four dance floors, at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Current songs along with oldies like “Rockin’ Robin,” “Shout,” and “Thriller” kept the dance floor hopping. Literally. The chandeliers even bounced!

What an amazing evening! Memories that will last a lifetime! I’m so glad I was able to be part of this event! If you know homeschoolers, encourage them to enjoy amazing nights during their high school years.


Texas Living

Texas Flag sq

I love setting my stories in Dallas and North Texas. My first solo publication, Grime Beat, occurs downtown and in the surrounding suburbs. It’s so fun to identify “live” locations! Check out my LIFE IN TEXAS board on Pinterest.

I’ve lived in this area (both suburban and rural) all my life. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than sharing some of the best things that are exclusive to this area. In this case:

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NaNoWriMo Sacrifice

2013-Winner-Vertical-BannerI LOVE November. Last year, I wrote almost all of the 100,000 word contemporary romance that I just handed over to my agent. The year before that, a romantic suspense that is currently in play.

I love the challenge. Love meeting new people. Love logging in my words at the MBT NaNo Challenge as well as the main NaNo website. And I TOTALLY LOVE spending October planning out the novel to the last detail. One of my favorite things.

This year I’m viewing NaNoWriMo differently. The last few months in Continue reading

Inspired by Green

Green is the color of life, of new beginnings. Like a fresh breeze, it draws us out into the world, enticing us to take a stroll and enjoy it’s brilliance. Continue reading


Top 10 Lessons from a Summer with Teenage Girls.

Life with Twins became more interesting now that they are teenagers.Today’s blog comprises the top ten things my teen girls taught me this summer.

  • Never lose the ability to laugh at yourself and never laugh too hard at others.
  • Wanna go to the mall? Do you really have to ask?
  • Since it’s Happy Hour and there’s a Sonic right there, why don’t we stop?
  • Everything, even chores, gets better with music.
  • When all else fails, put it in a ponytail.
  • Eggs really can cook on the dashboard of a car.
  • You’re never too busy to play – oh wait, that’s a lesson that I learned from my dog.Teenagers are making my life so colorful.
  • Always keep a dog around to blame.
  • Laughter is best when shared.
  • The drivers of the other cars can’t hear you, Mom.

Your turn: What have you learned this summer? From whom or what did you learn it?




Four R’s of Vacation

All pictures in this post are property of Marji Laine: All rights reserved.

Bet you didn’t know that vacations had r’s!

I spent last weekend at a cabin on Lake Holbrook near Mineola, Texas. A special mom-daughter weekend with my twins and a few of her friends and their moms. I confess, I’m not always so great at the chill and be chilled type of vacation, but without my computer or any cellular bars, I had little choice.

Vacays are essential to good health, and there are four prime actions to enjoying them correctly.

Relax – Losing stress and letting daily imperatives drift away steadies nerves and relieves tension. Must be some type of chemical reaction, but leaning back in a chair and putting up one’s feet can loosen stiff spines and squared shoulders that are somehow attached to the furrow muscles near the eyebrows.

Reflect – Even in the peace of early morning, Lake Holbrook never quite looked like a sheet of glass. The trees on the far shore appeared skewed in the water’s messy surface. A warped view of life can stem from intense busyness. But breaking away from routine allows for a true interpretation of life directions, a realistic view of who I am and what I can do. Not to mention confirmation of God’s path.

Renew – The other moms and I aren’t besties, but getting together like this bonds us with chatting and laughter. I also had a blast with my dinky twinkies. Even though I build close relationships with my kids through homeschooling, there’s just something about the uninhibited goofiness with girlfriends that super-glues us together.

Refresh – God set up the Sabbath especially for the purpose of breaking regular behavior. Dispensing with routines and renewing spirits is what Sabbath is all about. God knows we need it, and instructed us to take it. (Like a patient parent urging vitamin doses) And vacations can be a type of Sabbath, shedding the cares of daily life to embrace the Father, His beautiful creation, and the children He gifts me with. Christ, Himself, spent time alone in a refreshing period – early in the morning when he talked with His Father. They know that the relationship I have with my Lord requires quiet, both inside and outside. And I need to take that time daily, but also, like in this instance, with more in depth focus.

I needed this weekend. I needed the open chat with moms and hysterical fun with girls. I needed the still, cool mornings of communing with my Father. And I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity.

Your turn: On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rank yourself as a 4-R vacationer? 

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3 Imperatives for Preparing a Homeschooler for College

My oldest graduated from our homeschool in 2009 and is poised to complete his bachelors at UTD this year. By his junior year in high school, we had a clear picture of school choices and a pretty good idea of his major. This proactive momma thrived!

My Precious Redhead isn’t as easy. It does make a difference that she is a girl. And she’s as much a creative as she is an academic. So we have no idea of schools or majors, yet. I feel like I’m trying to play pin the tail on the donkey while riding on a motorcycle.

But at least I know the basics.

Every student needs a transcript regardless of where they go to school.

The transcript gives the class by class data and the grades and credits earned for each one. The grade is the letter or numerical standard that the teacher assigns detailing the depth to which the student mastered the data. The credit reports the time involved for a class. For instance, if a student completes pages of math every weekday for 8 months or so, that would be the equivalent of one credit. Likewise, a one-semester course, or one that only required a day or two each week, would be equivalent to a half credit.

For our school, we stick pretty close to TEA (Texas Education Agency) standards, while adding electives to satisfy my girl’s interests. In a nutshell:

  • Four English (includes grammar, writing, literature)
  • Four Math (includes Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry)
  • Four Science – at least 2 labs (including Chemistry, Physics, Biology)
  • Foreign Language – 2 to 3 years
  • Fine Arts – 1 year
  • Speech
  • Electives

Most of the classes are home-taught or coop-driven with a few dual credits at a local Jr. College.

Test Scores are the proof for everything you claim on the transcript.

Precious Redhead’s transcript doesn’t end there, though. SAT and ACT scores will go on it, right at the top. Test scores are imperative for homeschoolers. They prove that the grades on the transcript are valid.

My dear son made a 105% percent in geometry. (No I wasn’t the teacher!) He did extra credit and loved math. Any wonder that he blew the top off the math portion of the SAT. But had he not, had he made a low score on the test, my grade of an A+ on his transcript wouldn’t mean very much.

Activities, jobs, and services show a well-rounded student.

Just like a resume’ has to show a variety of information, so does your student’s transcript. Not just the cold numbers, your student’s one-sheet is all he gets to share who he is and why he’d be a great fit for the college of choice. For that reason, the record needs to include other data that displays your student’s abilities and passions. Those can be shown in jobs, charitable activities, sports or academic contests, and fine arts involvement.

More isn’t merrier in this case. The key is specificity. In fact, the listings that work the best are the ones where all of the extra activities support or enhance one another. For instance, Precious Redhead, who is looking to pursue worship arts or music education, led worship for two years in an adult church service and will have led worship for 4 years in a cooperative chapel meeting. She traveled for two weeks with college-sponsored theater group last summer. If she is able to add vocal instructions on her transcript and some sort of performance oriented activity like a choir, her devotion to her passion stands out.

And that’s okay, as long as those activities are embellished with some sort of academic endeavor (Honor Society?) and participation in a sport. The mixture shows a distinct focus, but still gives a well-rounded appearance.

If you’re preparing a homeschool student for graduation, don’t stress. There’s no need to go it alone. A number of support groups post “what you should be doing now” types of articles and personal counselors are available (for a price) to help you get the right mix of information.

  • HSLDA has a wealth of information at their homeschooling for high school site, including sample transcripts and a GPA calculator.
  • College Board isn’t just where you go to sign up for the SAT. You can set your own parameters to receive emails for preparation through all of your high school years as well as scholarship and award opportunities to help fund your student’s ambition.
  • Dallas County Home School provides college prep guidance and all that goes with it to Homeschool high schoolers for a reasonable fee.

Your turn: What scares you most about homeschooling your high schooler?


F is for …

Me and Sweet Hubby – I am so blessed!


I know I’ve already done an F entry for the week (you can find my original F entry HERE!) but being that it’s VALENTINE’S DAY, I just had to give an online hug to my favoritest people in the whole, wide world!

Iron Man – Goofy Nephew and my amazing mom.

I just LOVE spending time with my kids, my brother and his family, and all of the extensions. 

My mom has the greatest sense of humor and it has spread to my brother, his son, and my son. As a result, we can’t usually make it through a meal without laughing ourselves silly.

Dear Boy and Goofy Nephew
doing what come naturally.

(Yeah, I think the restaurant was really happy to see us leave!)

Speaking of laughing, I love to make my sweet hubby crack up. He’s the quiet type, but he tosses in zingers every once in a while and when he gets tickled, his giggle is delightful.

“Granny” is Awesome Sis-in-law’s Mom.  Goofy Nephew didn’t
realize he was in this shot. Too funny!
Me with my mom and my brother. Yes, I’m a good little Texas
girl and I call my brother, “Bubba”!

All of our holiday and birthday celebrations include my mom and brother, his family and my sister-in-law’s mom. We go together well.

Sis and her family with my dear boy.

One of the reasons we get to enjoy so many Christmas celebrations is because of the wonderful lady who became my dad’s third wife. 

My wonderful step-mom and Dear Boy.

Though Daddy is gone, she makes sure we get to have family time at every opportunity. My sister and her kids complete our celebration. Don’t kids just MAKE a party?

Delightful Dinky Twinkies.
DTs with Precious Redhead.

And speaking of kids, my house if filled with laughter and singing. Few harsh words and fewer raised voices. I love the sweet smiles of my girls and how they chatter and laugh together.

And I never even got to my excellent in-laws!

I’m blessed and I know it full well. 

Tell me about your family!


Putting it Together

They look like they're a little bummed though – or maybe that's their game faces?

In keeping with my recent articles about goal-setting and winning, I'm going to draw them together today.

Did I mention that the Angel volleyball season is over. Can I just say:

Thanks, had to get that out of my system! Sixty-nine matches, seven tournaments, two months and over 8000 pictures. Yep, I'm good for another year.
But I want to share just a little about my precious redhead's team. Most of these girls played together last year. 
The team as a whole never

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And So It Begins . . .


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