Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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?


Social Event of the Season is OVER!

Oh it feels so good to have my computer back in my lap after almost a week of un-onlinedness. I’ve SO missed you!

We had a dungeon at our prom. Seriously! And I feel today like I’ve been released. Ahhhhh, freedom! And such a beautiful day for it!

So I’ve had my errand-running out in the sunshine – I’m also working out the resounding crackle in my knees and ankles after running (well walking) what should have been a marathon back and forth across the venue. (And in full medieval garb, no less.)

Yes, pictures are coming, but I had to say “Hi” first! Check back later this evening for my “P is for Prom” posting. This is unlike any prom I’ve ever seen!


Personality Plus

I’m working with the largest home school prom in America, and this year is bigger than any of the others. Being one of the five directors is really teaching me a lot about myself.

I think sometimes we have to go through stressful situations to figure out what type of people we are. AND where we need some work. For instance, when noise and distractions mount, while your attention is critical, how do you react? Do you snap at
someone? Do you curl up or shed tears? Do you walk away to end the matter? Sometimes the reaction stems from all the other circumstances you’ve been dealing with during the day, but some of your responses depends on your own values and goals.

Just like characters in a book, our values and goals build up our responses to different types of stimuli. A person who would walk away from the hypothetical problem might have issues with control. If they can’t control their circumstances, they WILL control them by leaving them behind.

A person who sheds tears, or even someone who guts it out and keeps working through the trouble, might very well be a people-pleaser, the other end of the spectrum. To avoid conflict, this person might bend over backwards, whether the work that they complete is worth anything or not.

A person who snaps could be either of these extremes and anywhere in between, because the snap usually indicates a build-up of pressure rather than a response to the specific stimuli. In such a case, the people-pleaser might have bent too far. Or the controller might insist on keeping the control.

What about a person who tries to quiet everything around before addressing the attention-demanding problem? They could be passive-resistant, or just procrastinators. Or they might have a mild form of ADD and need to have silence before they can concentrate on the matter that needs them.

I love laid-back people who have no problem with the situation I described. It would send me right through the ceiling. (I’m one of the ADD types and noise and distractions steal more of my time than car-pool.) One of my best friends has that ability. Nothing seems to phase her.
As a writer, I have to dissect my characters to discover how they will react when I put them in various settings with conflicting stimuli. Where one character who runs a diner might have no problem concentrating with loud noise and lots of people around, another character managing a bed and breakfast won’t deal with issues like that very often. Since that character is also a natural introvert, the commotion would probably drive her to her room at the top of an old Victorian mansion. My heroes would deal with the issues differently too. One is a cop who would likely press through the stress in order to complete his task. The other is a missionary and would like join the party and put off the demands for a time when he wasn’t interacting with people.Knowing how my characters would act under stress unveils my story rather well. But in dealing with my own situations of the day, I had a blessing that my characters don’t. With the prom board, I’m in a safe environment with like-minded ladies. All of us have singular purpose and hearts that can be trusted.Can’t say that about my characters. I love putting them in impossible situations all by themselves and then throw some rocks at them. (Yeah, that’s the way I roll!)

How would you react to the situation I described? What does that say about you?


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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I is for Me, I mean I, BOTH of Us!

Today's letter is I; Introductions
At the Texas Christian Homeschool Prom with Sweet Hubby

Identity is a difficult monster to define. I've had many of them: student, wife, daughter, sister, teacher and now writer. When I left my teaching career, there was a little trouble with this topic. No longer with a full-time "career" it took some getting used to before embracing the role of stay-at-home-mom. Some of my SAHM friends sure had me fooled. I thought this job would be a breeze after teaching twenty-six 5th-graders. HA!
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