Progress Comes in Small Chunks


ID 135366877 © UMI NADRA HAMID |

I was only able to write two days last week. This upcoming week, I won’t be able to write at all. I should be back on track with writing, however, after that.

It quickly became clear that my kid isn’t a big fan of doing his homeschooling six days a week. I was trying that method because we had three weeks’ worth of classes to catch up on. It turned out to be like pulling teeth since his brothers have two days off and he doesn’t. So on Wednesday, I decided we’re going to double up on everything until we’re caught up. At this rate, we’ll be caught up on October 11. Sure, the next week will be a lot more work, but getting done sooner will be a huge relief for the poor kid. He’s on board with this plan because he can see the results faster this way.

I realize I could have treated the transition from one homeschool program to another as a “move”. I transferred from one school to another in November in the 6th grade and in early October in the 12th grade. No one started me over fresh on the classes I was taking. I had to catch up on my own. So, yes, I could have transitioned him over without starting fresh.

I decided to start fresh because I felt it was still early enough in the school year where it wouldn’t take long to catch up. Plus, I felt by treating everything like the beginning of the school year, it would be easier for the two of us to adjust to the new curriculum. It’s given me time to get a better idea of how I best work as a homeschool teacher and how he best works as a homeschool student. With the first curriculum plan, everything was planned out in detail for us. There was no need to figure anything out. You just did what the manuals and videos told you to do. I knew I would need to figure my way through this new curriculum, and I was more comfortable doing it from “Day 1”.

The new curriculum I picked up was Discovery K12, and it’s become more and more supplemental as time’s been going on. I now think of it as a guideline than something I need to follow every day. This week, I noticed I’m already going on my own tangent as I’m getting more comfortable with what I’m doing and learning what best motivates my kid to learn. I have already gone back and rewritten the objectives for the courses that I wrote two weeks ago, and today, I adjusted the grading scales for each subject because my original one wasn’t turning into a good fit for either me or him. I’ve come across other parents’ way of doing their own plans, but I’ve discovered I enjoy creating my own because I can specifically gear it to what works best for my kid. The more I proceed into this, the more I realize I want to create my own classroom environment. And the more I create my own stuff, the more excited and energized I get by this.

What I’m realizing is that this is a lot like writing a book. The more a person does it, the more they learn what methods work and what methods don’t. Over time, they find ways to fine-tune what they’re doing. No one goes into anything knowing it all. I don’t care how many videos one watches, how many books they read, or how many people they talk to; until they’re actually doing it, they aren’t able to really grasp how they are best able to perform the task. This is because everyone brings in their own backgrounds, preferences, and personalities. We can’t all be put into a box. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to anything. There are many ways of doing something where people can reach the same conclusion. In the matter of writing, the end goal is the published book. In homeschooling, the end goal is the kid to learn the material. How you get there isn’t as important as actually getting there.

Over the years, I’ve found small steps toward a big goal has helped a lot in staying on task and staying motivated. It’s why I have my daily word count goals when I write. I pace myself so it doesn’t get to be too much. If the pacing doesn’t work, I adjust the word count goals until it does. I believe in rewards for reaching the small goals, too. Every small step in the right direction is improvement. I don’t care what the project is. If you break things down into manageable sizes, then you don’t end up feeling so overwhelmed that you quit.

I’ve also come to learn the value of flexibility. If something isn’t working, there’s no point in sticking with it. It’s best to try an alternate way of doing things. This is why when a writer tells me they can’t write by the seat of their pants, I tell them to try outlining what will happen next. If a writer is getting stalled on a book because it isn’t following the outline they laid out, I suggest they modify the outline or throw the outline out and try writing the rest of the book without it.

Homeschooling is not any different. The curriculum I was using at first is a very popular one that a lot of people love, but it wasn’t the right fit for me or my kid. This new method where I go to DiscoveryK12 to get the “blueprint” for what is grade appropriate for my kid and use that to create my own curriculum has turned into a much better fit. The point is, you don’t know if something will work if you don’t try it. Some people get stuck on their failures. Failures aren’t really failures. They’re learning opportunities. They give you a chance to try something in a different way. Like I said earlier, if you reach the final destination, then who cares how you got there? The point is, you did it, and that’s something to be happy about.

Okay. I’m off my soapbox. 🙂

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Nelly’s Mail Order Husband is Available!

This book features Tom and Jessica Larson’s oldest daughter!

Nelly's Mail Order Husband for website

This is Book 1 in the Husbands for the Larson Sisters Series.

I don’t have any information for the other books in this series yet, but I’m planning to write books for the rest of Tom and Jessica’s three daughters. When those stories are ready to be written, I’ll write them. I used to force myself to complete a series, but I don’t do that anymore. I learned the hard way that rushing a book only pisses off half of the people who read it. So this time, I’ll bide my time.

With that aside, I’ll stop rambling and get to the good stuff. 🙂

This book is a historical western romantic comedy.

If you enjoyed A Bride for Tom, The Wrong Husband, Groom For Hire, and The Imperfect Husband, you’ll enjoy this book. This is a lighthearted and fun read. And it does contain sexual situations within marriage. So for those looking for a “clean” read, this isn’t for you. I know my covers convey “clean” romances, but I love these kinds of covers, and since I’m the one who’s ultimately stuck with my books, I’m using the covers I want. I realize this throws some people off, but I don’t like covers with half-naked people on them.

Here are the quirky characters you’ll find in this book:

There’s a hero who comes out to Nebraska believing he’s about to marry a wealthy landowner because he and his friend assumed someone running a homestead was well-to-do. So he’s in for a rude awakening when he discovers there’s not a group of servants to do stuff like milk a cow or mucking out stalls for him. Don’t worry, though. Despite his uncertainty, he’s the type who sticks it out.

The heroine has three meddling sisters who want nothing but to see her fall in love, and though someone is probably going to be put off by the way they acted, I was chuckling while writing the scenes they were in. Maybe I have a weird sense of humor, but I thought it was hilarious that they were so vocal in how excited they were to have a brother-in-law in the family. And it was fun to see the heroine get jealous from all the attention her sisters gave him.

The heroine in this story has a strong personality. She’s had to fight against the mindset of that time period that said women couldn’t own a homestead. I did some research and found that women back in the 1800s did actually have their own homestead. True, it wasn’t frequently done, but it did happen. I thought it would be fun to write about a heroine who was one of them. She only agrees to marry the hero on the condition that he won’t force her to stay indoors all day to do the stuff she considers boring (sewing, cooking, and cleaning). To her, being outside is where the fun is. The hero, in this case, is more than happy to let her manage the running of the homestead, but he does have his own strengths that end up coming into play by the end of book, and yes, the heroine does recognize them.

When I write a romance, I select characters that complement each other. I don’t look for perfect characters. Every character has some kind of flaw. What I like to do is pair up characters so that the relationship is balanced. In real life, my husband and I have our strengths and weaknesses, and I find that we end up balancing each other out. In areas I’m weak, he’s strong, and vice versa. The same is true for my characters.

If this sounds like the kind of book you’d like to read, you can find it here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble



Google Play


Payhip (use temporary coupon X5SFCD4SQ9 to get 50% off: ; coupon good until Oct. 3)

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Thoughts on Homeschooling

I ran into a wall with the homeschooling curriculum I had purchased to use this school year. I made it three weeks into the program when I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me and my kid. I thought it would be because as a student, I’m actually a good fit for the thing. If my mom had handed this program to me, I would have done well in it. But then, as a student, I loved listening to lectures and taking notes. As a homeschool teacher, however, it doesn’t work. I was getting bored and restless. As for my kid, he doesn’t like to listen to lectures and take notes. He wants to be active and do things. This program did not allow for this.

I have to say that these past three weeks have been a huge eye-opening experience for me. I realized that just because something sounds perfect on paper, it might not be a good fit in real life. I don’t know if it’s my age (44) or the fact that I spent two grueling years trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my writing, but I have grown impatient for wasting time. In this case, I was also wasting my kid’s time.

Fortunately, a friend passed on a different homeschooling option that is turning out to be a better fit for me and my kid. It’s not accredited. The nerd in me had to let the accreditation thing go. After doing some research, I realized the accreditation part isn’t as important as I originally thought it was. I’m just going to keep attendance and track of the stuff we’re doing so if I’m ever asked, “What are you teaching your kid?”, I have the binder I can open up and show them. Thank goodness I have years of record keeping with the business side of writing to know how to track everything I do.

I did save the stuff I did with the other program for my records, and I am keeping a paper trail on the shift I’m making as I transfer from one program to another. That way I can always show the school system the dates these things happened, the “why” on the changes I made, and my alternative plans going forward.

This new program is very flexible. It gives me guideline on what he should learn for his grade level. I did go down one grade level. In my state, my kids took Pre-Algebra in the 8th grade. On the homeschool site, they have kids taking Pre-Alegbra for 7th grade. My kid isn’t ready for Algebra. So I’m doing Grade 8 for everything else but Grade 7 for math. Since this program is flexible, I’m able to do that. I can also substitute their plans for the day’s activities for each subject with a plan of my own.

It puts more of the planning on my shoulders. I didn’t think I’d want that, but it turns out I do. I’m energized by it. I get to tailor the lessons for my kid needs and what his interests are. I’m still figuring out a grading procedure I want to use. I want to use an objective standard of measuring to decide what grades he should get, but I’ve decided a huge portion of the grade will be effort. The fact that he is trying should matter. And sometimes getting the overall concept of an idea is more important than knowing specific facts. Facts can be found on the Internet. If I want to know the specific date the US Constitution was adopted, I can find that within two seconds. I’m more interested in my kid understanding why the thirteen colonies fought Britain to become an independent nation. Right now the History course covers the American Revolutionary War, which is why I used that example.

For English, I’m going completely on my own plan. My kid told me he wants to write a four-book series. Since he’s in the 8th grade, these aren’t going to be long books. At least, I don’t expect them to be. But as he was telling me how much he wants to write this particular series, I thought, “If he writes a book, he will learn punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary, spelling, writing, rewriting, and editing.” Since he’s new to writing a book, I will teach him how to outline (or plot) out a book. Making those Roman Numeral outlines is one of the goals of the 8th grade. Now, he might not end up being a writer who plots books. He might plot this one and then decide he’d rather “pants” the next book. But I see no reason to waste the chance to teach him how to make a Roman Numeral outline so he knows what one is. Plus, writing his own story will give him a hands-on approach to learn story structure and discuss elements like foreshadowing and flashbacks. The above were the things the original homeschool course was requiring for their English course. But that original course would never have let him write a book. He was going to have to do a bunch of homework from their books, and that would be boring. This way will be fun for him.

I’ll also help him make covers, which will fall into Art, and he’ll come up with soundtracks for his books, which will fall into Music. He’ll type the story on Word and format, so he’ll learn computer skills while he’s at it. I’m excited about the overlap this particular course will have into other subjects he’ll need to do anyway. He’s really excited about the series of books he wants to write, so we’ll probably end up focusing more in that area. I’m letting him come up with the stories himself. In my opinion, if he can have some control over what he gets to do, he’ll be more motivated to learn. I’m also letting him pick his own books to read because I think reading should be fun.

My ultimate goal is that he finds learning fun, so I’ll be experimenting with different strategies as time goes on. I’m sure there’s plenty more stuff I’ll learn as I get further into this homeschooling thing.

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