I see your box of toys and raise you….

Posted On April 2, 2011

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We’ve never shared where Grace ‘is’ as far as Achievement testing…and we don’t really intend on sharing specifics. But, she has been tested for the last 2 years and both times passing our expectations of her knowledge! Every parent wants their child to be a savant, but when it comes down to it we all just want them to be ‘average’ or at least PASSING! We went in with that mindset both times she has taken the test. We would pray “Lord, please let her at LEAST pass. All we need is for her to be in the 25% for us to continue homeschooling. I promise we’ll do better next year!” I can laugh at the now…but to have your child sit in front of someone measuring their level of understanding really puts your own beliefs on the line.

*I* chose to homeschool my child. *I’m* the teacher. *I* chose what to teach her this year. *I* decided what to focus on and what to leave out. Did *I* do a good enough job? What if *I* have failed my child by not sending her to a public school? *I* feel like we’re making progress, but will the test show that? *I* have no one else to put the blame on. No one to hold accountable for her education. It’s *me*. All *me*.  And that’s scary.

Well, needless to say for the last 2 years Grace has tested ADVANCED in all of her subjects….UH, excluding punctuation! For the life of me I had no idea that in K she needed to be able to vocalize WHAT a period/question mark/coma does. We were focusing on learning letter sounds and blending! And this year…well, she was expected to proof read a paragraph (which included adding punctuation and correcting mis-spelled words). I’d like to add that we still write most things phonetically. She can read anything and loves to write. But spelling? Not so much! But we’re working on it!

Anyway…this weekend was the Midwest Homeschool Conference and Nick and I set out (by ourselves thanks to my Mom & Grandma who stayed with the kids) to find new curriculum for Grace (and even Trey this year who starts Pre-K 4 next school year).

Our first stop was Apologia Science.

A lot of people have suggested their “Astrology’ program as a great 1st starter book in their series. Well, we looked at the Astronomy and even though I was sold, Nick wasn’t. He preferred the Anatomy book. We debated for a while and after seeing the Junior work book I was sold (the Junior Astronomy book comes out next month…I still might pick it up!)


I was worried that this might be too ‘advanced’ after seeing a parent buying a child Grace’s age a ‘Science curriculum’ that had a fun kitty cat on it and included 12 ‘experiments’. The child proudly looked at his parent and exclaimed “TOYS!” I uncomfortably looked down at my cool Anatomy book and back to Nicholas who also heard the conversation in front of us.

This kid was going to be putting rubber bands around an airplane to make it ‘fly’ and our daughter was going to be learning about how she can confuse her ‘somatic nervous system’ (responsible for voluntary movements) by crossing her hands in front of her and flipping them upside down and having someone point at a finger to see if she can make her mind move that finger  (really,  it’s harder than it sounds! and fun too!). But it made me start thinking about Grace and our expectations of her.

Nicholas and I take our job of teaching our children VERY seriously. They have a lot of educational activities that they do and educational games that they play, and we have fun with our lessons (probably more fun than we should have). But,  when it comes down to it, we expect our kids to rise above their level and to learn more. 12 fun experiments that teach ‘Newton’s Law’ might be fun, but Grace learned motion, mass, force, levers, pulleys and inertia when she was in Kindergarten.

Thankfully, Nicholas was right there next to me to assure me that we were making the better choice for our daughter. We can still do fun experiments with our curriculum, like make a jell-o mold of a cell using various candy and making a model of a diaphragm with a balloon and an empty bottle AND we bought a kit that can make 70 ~messy~ Science experiments (OUTSIDE) this summer!

My fears we’re put to rest when we got home tonight. Grace was eager to see what she was going to learn and when she started flipping through her new Anatomy & Physiology book there was a lot of “Cool!”, “Neat”, “That looks like fun!” and my favorite “Can we start now!?” *heart* She even went downstairs to her work table and brought up some fresh paper and a pen so that she could copy down words like ‘Hypothesis’ and ‘Mitochondria’ and then we looked up their meaning in our new book! 🙂

In the end, we made the right choice. Would she think a box with a cat on it filled with ‘toys’ is the best thing ever? Absolutely! But at the end of the year would she be any better for it? Would she have learned something new? Something more? We chose to homeschool to better our children!

So, little boy with your box of Science Toys….I see your toys and they look like fun, but I raise you….Nothing. You’re not my child. I’m raising children who are so excited to have a new Science book that they beg to start learning at 8:30 in the evening! :o) I’m proud of their achievements and I’m proud that Nicholas and I have the sense to see the potential in each of our kids and recognize that their educational foundation is worth more than a few ‘toys’ in a box.


Sunflowers for Daisies

Posted On March 15, 2011

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A few weeks ago at Daisy Girl Scouts we earned our Rose Petal for our vests.

The ‘rose’ colored petal teaches us ‘To Make the World a Better Place”. I thought what could be better for our World than to plant a sunflower!?

Sunflowers are pretty to look at, can feed wildlife and help keep the soil clean by drawing up toxins from the earth! I thought that was just the coolest thing when I heard it! So, my thought process was that this was a great project for my girls!

They got their hands a little dirty as the dug in the earth (ok…potting soil in little containers! But we were still dirty!) and planted tiny little seeds. Within days of me taking them home they sprouted up!

Another week went by and they looked like plants! I was going to take these little guys back to the girls to show them what they planted! Their little seeds were growing! How exciting!

Sadly, I forgot to take them with me to the meeting that week, so they didn’t get to see them “2 weeks old”. Which, of course was probably for the best ~ it was cookie day at that meeting and a van loaded down with Thin Mints and Samoas doesn’t fit well with fragile flowers that need space too.

So, our little sunflowers sat for another week. It was 2 days ago when I went to water our flowers that I noticed they were starting to ‘wilt’.  😦 Oh no!! What will my Scouts think of me!? As a new Leader I’m trying my best to keep it all together with very little mistakes! Killing our sunflowers was not a move I was willing to make easily….

I rushed out to get some supplies to replant my little buds. I’m no Urban Gardener…okay, I’m not a good one. Because believe you me I try every year to grow *something* in my little Garden in the City! But my only thought is that the flowers have light, dirt and water….but maybe not enough ‘room’ in the tiny container that they started out in!

I didn’t have the time for this project yesterday, but I got right to work tonight with the help of my sweet husband!

Most had died away and withered to nothing at this point. But some were VERY strong! And had the deepest roots that I had ever seen on such little sunflowers.

I was surprised to see that some of the weaker flowers had reached out and had wrapped around the stronger flowers! I pointed this out to Nicholas and told him that this would be a cool lesson to teach our kids. That those of us who are stronger hold up the weak so that they can have a chance to live too. I was inspired by these little sunflowers! I was getting tears in my eyes thinking about the deep meaning of life and living and friendships and family when my sweet, sweet husband busted my bubble!

“No. Not really. See those weaker ones holding on? They really have a grip around the stronger ones. They’re saying, ‘Hey you Buddy! If I’m going down I’m taking this whole operation with me!’ Even the plants are trying to live the new American dream!”

Oh bother! :/

How great is OUR God? How great? How GREAT! Is our God!?

Five years ago this month Nick and I filed bankruptcy. Would I recommend bankruptcy to others…? Yes. I  have in the past, but I wouldn’t put myself in a situation where I would need to go through it again. We are 2 short years away from having it off our records and 3 years away from Nicholas graduating, starting his career and us (FINALLY) buying our first house! We came close a few years ago, but when Nick said he wanted to go back to school (in Ohio) buying a house (in Indiana) just didn’t make sense.


This summer we discovered a few blemishes on our credit reports. A few blemishes weren’t ours and a few were things we had no idea even existed! Between the 2 of our reports we had 1 extra bankruptcy (not ours…) that was not DISCHARGED as ours had been 4 years ago, 2 medical bills (one that we thought our insurance had covered and one bill that I knew I had to pay, but never received a bill), and our last error was a ‘delinquent’  bill that was placed in our bankruptcy and the creditor was holding a grudge.

It took all summer long, but with several letters and phone calls (and having to send our medical bill payment TWICE since the 1st one got lost in the mail) we FINALLY have a clean (as it can be) credit report!

So what does this all mean? Why write about it? On Monday we are applying for a Graduate Loan. We’ve applied for a Student Plus loan Nick’s last year of undergrad and the Graduate Loan last year and both times we were denied. As far as we can tell we were denied because our bankruptcy wasn’t out of the ‘clear’ long enough and because of our blemishes.

We also truly believe that we were denied because, even though the extra funds would be nice, we didn’t NEED them.

This year, we have a need. Tuition has increased and Nicholas has to go 4 quarters instead of 3, so our financial aid that didn’t increase (like the tuition) has to get us through a whole year instead of 9 months. Also, because Nick has to go all 4 quarters he can’t work during the summer any more.


The greatest thing with all of this. The coolest thing EVER! Is that even though we have a “need” more than ever, all of our needs are met!

Seriously, on paper when we write out all of our debts and bills we are really SHORT! Like, no money, at all, for December bills. And yet, as we approach November, our bank account has a running (POSITIVE) total that carries us all the way to December 29th!

How great is our God!?

We are asking for prayers as we fill out our Grad Plus Loan paperwork. But, we’re not asking for prayers that our loan be approved. It would be awesome if we were able to secure a little more money to ‘loosen our belt’ for the rest of the year, but we know that He will provide for our needs now and forever! But we are asking that our process goes the way they He needs it too. Even if that means another “no.” this year as well.

Nicholas and I have been through enough in our marriage to know that every closed door is closed for a reason!


Oh my goodness!  In 2005, Nicholas and I saw the best little colonial rental house on a quiet street! It was perfect~a little yard, a garage, 3 bedrooms, a quaint kitchen….it was just us and Grace and Nicholas was making the best money we had even seen in our bank account while working as a car salesman.

We jumped on it! We wanted it! We thought of nothing else but living in that house! I remember the phone call from the management company telling us that our credit wasn’t what they were looking for (we had *just* filed bankruptcy the month prior). Nick and I were crushed and fell to the ground in devastation!  At that moment in our lives NOTHING could have been more worse!

ha ha ha

2 months later the car business was not all that great. Yes, we had great months when people wanted a new car…but when no one wants to buy a new car. Well, those paychecks were hard. There would have been no way we could have afforded the rent on that little house with THOSE pay checks. And a month after that? Well…Nick was offered a job across the river in Indiana ~ all the way up in Starlight! Had we been in that little house, that we wanted so bad, Nicholas would have had an hour and a half commute to work and again to come home!  =o)

He provides for us even when we don’t know that we need it! So, again….I ask you.

How GREAT is our GOD!?


What’Snooo with You?

Posted On October 6, 2010

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I’ve been trying so hard to log into our blog and update daily. But it just doesn’t happen. Maybe tomorrow? ha ha

So what have we been up to?

Nicholas has been attending school and has Wednesdays off. Because he wants to be able to spend all Wednesdays with us he stays late the rest of the week. It’s no fun being a SAHM during the week, but it’s worth it for ‘Daddy Wednesday’!

Grace is learning her skip counting. She can now do her 10’s & 5’s! Last week we attending the Ohio Renaissance Festival and had a lot of fun with friends learning new things. We are pushing through with our school work every day. I, of course, have my ‘mommy moments’. ‘Am I teaching her everything she needs to know?’ ~ ‘Could I have done more today?’ ~ ‘Am I doing the right thing by keeping her at home?’ Uh! I hate those moments. I know that I am doing the right thing  and that she is where she needs to be for who she is. I have to remember daily that *this* is why I am keeping her out of the school system. We have the ability to take our time with our lessons so that in the end she *knows* her lessons. That is what is important!

Trey is doing well with his colors, numbers and letters. His vocabulary grows stronger every day and I know that we are taking the steps needed to lay the ground work down for a K program next year!

Mama is busy as always. Although I’ve not kept up with MY blog I have enjoyed reading $5 Dinners andSmockity Frocks ! Both of these Mamas are awesome! I love the recipes and home organization!  Connie from Smockity Frocks has a great video showing how she homeschools and organizes her family of 10! Yup! 8 children! I love it!!  I hope to one day have a master list as awesome as hers!

And Erin, at $5 Dinners, has the most amazing (and Thrifty!!) recipes!

If you get a chance you *must* check these blogs out! They are now a part of my daily readings and they have inspired me to be a better mom & housewife! =o)



Posted On July 27, 2010

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I have been trying for a few weeks to find the time to sit down and write out my letter of intent/notification to Columbus Public School that I will be homeschooling Grace for the 2010-2011 school year.

Once I got all the information I needed to have it was quick to write up the actual letter and cover letter. Answering #6 & #7 took a bit more time.

Last week I started on my actual curriculum/lesson plans. Things were going pretty smooth (actually got the 1st few weeks ‘in’) but the kids have trumped my time and I haven’t been able to go back to my lesson planning. It’s my hope that things are able to calm down around here and I can complete what I need done before we start our ‘year’ on August 23rd.

We have had lots going on over the past week: Nate’s 1st Birthday party, family in, friends in and this past weekend Nick’s brother Matt and his lovely wife, Olyvia came to visit us as they make their trip around Ohio to visit family and friends.

On Sunday Nick and I started into our journey of having a ‘boarder’ in our home.  My aunt, a nurse, has gained employment at Riverside Memorial Hospital here in Columbus. She will be on a 12 hour rotation for 3 days and will be with us 2 days a week (mostly sleeping during those 2 ‘days’ as she works midnight shift).  This week she is here for the whole week (M-F) for orientation. So far, nothing has cramped our way of life, but I am worried about how long she plans on staying in this position. Long term for example: Nick will graduate in 2013…will she still be here then? Short term for example: How will this effect Nick’s study habits/our homeschool habits with her in our school/den/study room.

We are already quite ‘homey’ (aka, stuffed/cramped/jammed) in our little 2 bedroom apartment with our family of 5. By 2012 we would like to add a new tiny member to our family….we wonder how that would work with a boarder?

Lots to think about! 🙂

Yippee! Woo-hoo! Horray!

Posted On July 21, 2010

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Nicholas has today off. Even though we have errands to do this is the 1st day he’s had off that we didn’t have someone visiting us! So, I get to be selfish and have him all to myself~well, the kids too! =o)

Today’s thrilling agenda:

~Title for the Mercedes switched over so that insurance can pay us.~

~Goodwill for a new nightstand for our bedroom and another attempt at looking for a new dinette set. I have these visions of a nice square table that I can refinish and some funky -but sturdy- chairs that I can also refinish and add some nice fabric to.~

~Going over to the office to inquire about a 3 bedroom (we are busting at the seems here! And before Nick graduates we would like to add one more blessing to our family! Not sure where we put him/her! ha ha)~

~New pants for Nick. We have both lost weight over the last month and neither of us can keep our pant up! I got a few pairs yesterday (only 2…I’m hoping to drop another size before Fall weather hits) and now it’s Nick’s turn.~

~Kenjockety Girl Scout Camp in Galloway with Grace tonight at 6pm! Her first camp expierience! We will be going just for the evening, but it should be fun!~

Have a Blessed day!


Oh Happy Day! =o)

Posted On July 20, 2010

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Today Nick & I have been married for 8 years! Wow! How can we already mark off 8 years of wedded bliss!? It hasn’t always been easy…well, our marriage is easy! It’s not hard to live with someone you love so much! But life has thrown us curve balls every now and then!

If someone told me 8 years ago that Nick would be in the middle of Optometry School and I would be at home schooling our 3 kids,  I would have laughed in their face! 8 years ago I wanted to run my very own daycare center and Nick was very content at WTRF-7 doing chiron and graphics for the evening news. We loved our little 2 bedroom apartment in St.Clairsville and life was simple.

But I wouldn’t give up our life for anything! It’s not easy to live off of student loans and we’ve lived with our (my) family twice, Nick has spent countless hours locked in the basement studying and even more hours late night at school…but it’s worth it! It got us to where we are now and will get us where we need to be  in another 3 years!

5 days ago our Squishy Baby turned 1~It’s hard to believe that this little guy came to us without all the normal drama that had come with trying to conceive Grace and Trey. No temping, no charting, no fertility Dr’s…he was just a God given gift! We celebrated this weekend at our favorite park (Blacklick Metro) with friends and family! The weather and company was PERFECT! Pics to follow in a later post!

Yesterday the Squish had his 1 year check-up. After a month of no dairy he was earache free! WOOT! He weighed a whopping 22 pounds and is the top percentile for his height and weight. While we were there I took that fear-filled leap off my comfortable bridge to ask the Dr. about Trey. I was trying to ask about how to schedule an appointment for evaluations and then was faced with “Evaluation for WHAT?”


Why can’t I just say ‘evaluation’ and leave it at that. Just tell me if I make an appointment with a Ped or with a specialist!!

Anyway. So I briefly go into the facts. He can’t sleep. He has breakdowns when we go a different way in the car. He has issues with eye contact….The Dr. just stared at me.

So I said it. “I don’t think he is autistic. But I think he might be on the spectrum. We want to know if how he behaves is NORMAL for him, or if there is something else there that we should know how to handle.”


He told me to reschedule and appointment at the window as I leave.  THEN! When I go to the window they need to know WHY I am making an appointment. When I say “evaluation” they press the issue to!

ANYWAY. We really aren’t sure what will happen next week at the appointment, but we feel better knowing that at least there IS an appointment. We’ve gone rounds trying to decide if what we see in Trey on a day-to-day basis is something to be concerned about. Over the last year we have been able to control some of his behaviors with sleep….but that includes giving him melatonin. I believe that regardless of the outcome we just need to KNOW. We need to know if there is something there or not.

Anyway! The kids are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Aunt Olyvia and Uncle Matt this weekend! Nick and I are too! We wanted to go see them in Florida last year, but buying Optometry equipment left us with no extra money to make the trip!

I hope everyone has a happy blessed day!!  

We’re so HOT!

Posted On July 16, 2010

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H.O.T (House of Tafan) not HOT (Although it has been very warm in Columbus the last few days).

A few days ago I got to thinking about where I wanted our blog to go. I LOVE that I can write about homeschool stuff and keep friends and family updated about our on-goings.

But our kids are not the only ones who have things going on! We are a busy, busy family!

3 kids, a hubby in Optometry School (he’s an Opt 2 now!!) 2 dogs, 1 hairy fluffy cat, a tank full of fish, a growing bullfrog and a Mama who is forever attempting to do it all! WHEW! I’m exhausted just READING that!

I decided on H.O.T. after reading a VERY cool blog about a family (mostly a mama) who does it all too for her family. She mostly blogs about crafts and cooking. But the name of her blog was “HOH”  (House of Hepworths) and I just fell in LOVE with that idea!

The majority of my posts so far *have* been about our family (all of us) and our day-to-day adventures! We never have a boring day in The Taflan House!

So that’s it! Our permalink will still be ‘ taflanchristianacademy.wordpress.com ‘ but our new Title will change to ‘House of Taflan’.

So sit back and enjoy a little bit of our house in yours!

Forever? And Always!

Posted On July 6, 2010

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A ring is a circle that has no breaks. It is never ending. It is eternal forever. The ring is the symbol for marriage: Never ending. Un-dieing. Forever the way our love for each other is.

In the commotion of all of the Lake events on Saturday, Nicholas lost his wedding band.

I can’t help feeling so sad over losing this little piece of ‘us’. In 2001 when we picked out our wedding bands we wanted something simple and yet unique. We had the jeweler create our bands with a diamond in the underside of the band. A little quarter carat that only we would be able to see. Not facing outward for the world to see, but tucked away safe and sound against our fingers. Our rings didn’t just match, they went together.

My band was engraved “Forever” while Nick’s matching band stated “Always”. Our never ending question of “Forever? Always!” close to our hearts and souls until eternity.

Our rings are our physical acknowledgment of our love for each other. They went on our fingers almost 8 years ago in front of  our friends, our family and God. I want to die with the very same ring on my finger that Nick gave me on that day. No other  ring could ever replace mine.

To us, they were never a piece of jewelry, but something that connected us even when apart.

There have been greater things to grieve and worry about over this past weekend than our missing ring, but I do feel heartbreak over it’s loss. I feel like another ring is just a replacement. It will never be the ring that was blessed in front of us and it will never be the same ring that I slipped onto his trembling hand.

In the scheme of things it was just a piece of metal. We can have it remade to duplicate the one lost forever in the bottom of Grayson Lake. The new band will hold new memories and a story about a crazy day boating in Kentucky with friends! Our connection is not held together by a band of gold. We are committed to each other ‘Forever & Always’ with or without a wedding band.

Serving & Saving

Posted On July 5, 2010

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I coupon. I am a coupon-holic! Most people know this about me and when they find out I always get “wish I could do that!” or “Will you teach me?”.

Today I sat at our kitchen table to organize my coupons that have gotten away from me over the last few weeks. Between Nick finishing up school for the year, the weather being so nice and the kids doing every activity under the Columbus sun…my coupons have gone the way of the buffalo~that is to say, they were a jumbled up mess of papers sticking every which way out of my coupon binder.

While cutting, clipping and tossing away expired coupons I decided that I would do a quick “how-to” on here today.

Step 1. Find your nearest big city Sunday Paper. The bigger city papers usually have better coupons. When we lived in the Valley we would opt for the Columbus Dispatch or Zanesville paper instead of the Times Leader.

Step 2. Go through your paper to gather up the coupon inserts. We usually buy 4-5 papers and when I get the inserts I like to flip through them and pull out the ‘junk’. You know, those inserts that are advertisements for socks, ornaments, popcorn tins, ect…and pitch them now. You don’t need them!

Step 3. I like to take my inserts and slip them into large plastic sleeves. The kind that you could get at Staples for business reports. I stack up the inserts for that week, stick them into the sleeve and then take a blank sticker/label and mark the date of the insert (if you need to check the date it’s on the left side of the insert) and the date of the last usable coupon. Example: 7-4-10 RP (RED PLUM) 12-12-10 SS (SMART SOURCE) 9-13-10

Step 4. This is the secret to successful couponing: KNOW YOUR STORE SALES! Think of couponing as like a card game. Do you throw all your cards down on the 1st round? NO! If you did you would lose. There is a chance you might get score a little, but you won’t win big! You hold onto your good cards and you play them when you have a greater chance of winning! Right? So, hold your coupons for those sales!! A sale+coupon=A GREAT DEAL!

Step 5. This is where I cheat. There are programs out there (Grocery Game to think of one of the top of my head) that will take your local stores and will put together deals for you. Say, you shop at Kroger. So you let them know you shop at Kroger and once a week they will send you a spreadsheet that has already matched up the sales and your coupons. How great is that?! Well, it’s okay. The first month is free but after that the monthly fee is about $10 a month. You want to SAVE money! Don’t buy something you don’t need. I like to search for blogs that shop at the same stores *I* do.  Also, HCW is a message board that has TONS of stores with people just like you putting together the same deals that The Grocery Game would…for FREE!

So use the help of blogs and message boards. Very rarely do I put together my deals. I can. But it’s so time consuming and unnecessary!

Step 6: Don’t just rely on newspaper inserts! There are printables on  store websites and company websites. Sometimes, you find something that your household uses all the time and a store that you shop at has a GREAT deal on that product. Stockpiling is a great way to save money! When we find a deal that is too good to pass up we order coupons from eBay or a coupon cutting service! Last year Nick and I stocked up on Heinz Ketchup~we bought 30 bottles of ketchup and with the cost of the coupons we paid $4. That was almost a year ago….we still have ketchup to spare!

Step 7. Don’t expect to come out of the gate with HUGE savings. Most deals are done with coupons that were available MONTHS ago! Do what you can and each week, with every new set of coupons you will be able to save hundreds and sometimes MAKE money. Target is a great place to shop with coupons!

Target always has gift card deals. Example: If you buy 2 Gillette razors for $8 each you get a $5 gift card

Sound good? Not really. You spend $16 to get $5 back? Eh.

But what if you used 2 $5 coupons on those razors?

$16 total-$10 in coupons =$6 (plus tax) for 2 razors. Get $5 back. Once you add in that gift card you are only spending $1 (plus tax).

Now, in this particular scenerio you are not actually MAKING money. But there are plenty of deals at Target where I *have* made money and spent nothing ‘OOP’ (out of pocket)

So, that’s the geest of what I do. It’s not easy. I’ve heard comments from others that *I* should just do this for them. It takes HOURS for me to sit down and figure out each week what I’m buying and spending. Planning is the key! If I can do it with 3 kids then ANYONE can do it!

Maybe it’s not worth saving half of your grocery bill with coupons. But to me, it is. We live from ‘school loan to school loan’ and I have to make that money stretch as much as I can. Coupons help! I think of it as my ‘job’ for my family. At the end of the month I have a stocked pantry and money left over to do something fun with the kids!

I hope that this helps someone out there! I’m up to pointing anyone in the right direction and giving tips! I might even post a deal from time to time! But please don’t ask me to hold your hand and cut coupons with you! (I’m working on my own coupon pile!)

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