Saturday, December 21, 2013

What I am doing for my Lyme Disease

I tested positive for Lyme Disease...probably in 2010.  I wasn't taking notes then.

Similar symptoms occurred in the summer of 2011 but more severe.  Feeling far-out dizzy, feverish, etc.  I pulled a tick off of my neck at the end of April and noticed it was full meaning it had been attached for a while.  Months later, my neck was itchy, but there was no visible rash.  It was July and I took my temp and it was about 99º.  2 days later, I went to the Walk-in with a fever of 101º and told the doctor I suspected Lyme.  I was put on Doxy.  6 days later the doctor called me and said my Lyme was negative BUT I was positive for Babesia, another tick-borne illness.  This required different treatment.  

I won't bore you with all the nitty-gritty details, the purpose of this note is to tell you what I am doing and why.

Fast-forward May 2013, I am feeling "Lymie" again.  Temperature of 99º, foggy-brain, and achey joints.  I went to a doctor and he prescribed Doxy but my Lyme test came back negative again (or at least not higher than it would be from my previous infection.) 

It seems like nearly every spring, I feel Lymish, have a negative test, go searching for some other cause, and waste a lot of money on dead ends.  Spring 2013 I had severe hip pain (interestingly, the area of my first tick-bite in 2010.)  I had it x-rayed and aside from minor arthritis, nothing.  The doctor asked me if I wanted a muscle relaxant.  Um, no thanks.  I did go to a chiropractor who straightened me out after about 2 visits....but I also simultaneously started the Buhner Lyme Protocol.  See, I told you I would get to my point. 

I confess I am an herbal-medicine skeptic.  I did research each of the herbs he recommends and found that each definitely have qualities that would address Lyme symptoms.  Also, he seemed honest about the success-rate feedback he receives.  I figured it was worth the $ investment to give it a try.  I have used it for over 6 months and saw definite improvement.  I have been slacking off lately and have seen some symptoms returning.  

This is what I have been using from the Buhner protocol and the research on each herbal supplement. You cannot believe everything on the internet, of course, but most herbal and medical websites gave these as listed properties of the herbs.  I ordered all of my supplements from Vitacost (and if you haven't ever ordered from them, you can use my link and you will get $10 off and I will too): 

1. Resveratrol (japanese knotweed) - anti-oxidant , anti-aging, heart health 
Vitacost Trans-Resveratrol with CoQ10 - 250 mg/ 100 mg - 60 Capsules

2. Astragalus - immune booster
Vitacost Astragalus Root -- 1500 mg per serving- 100 Capsules

3. Alpha lipoic acid - anti-oxidant, fatty acid, repairs nerve damage, restores brain function
Vitacost Alpha Lipoic Acid & Acetyl L-Carnitine HCl -- 1,600 mg per serving - 60 Capsules

4. Eleuthero root - ginseng- energy, memory, endurance
Vitacost Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus) -- 1000 mg per serving - 120 Capsules

5. Cat's Claw - antibiotic properties, reduces inflammation
Vitacost Cat's Claw {Uña de Gato} -- 500 mg - 300 Capsules

I stopped taking the Resveratrol after I finished the 60 caps because it is the most expensive of the herbs. (Correction, I took it for 4 months, so that would be 2 bottles).  $25 verses the $5-$10 for the others.  I will probably re-order it again since it has other health benefits:

Anyway, like I said, it was worth the relatively small monetary investment to feel healthy again and it has worked for me.  Purely anecdotal, I know, but I suppose if enough people have success from it, it then becomes more tested and proven. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kate Larsen's REAL Bread Stuffing

So, about 2 years ago we celebrated Thanksgiving with our church.  I agreed to roast a turkey to contribute and since our family was attending, I made all the other standards that we would have had at home as well.  I showed up with my quaint corning-ware dish of homemade stuffing (dressing, really, it wasn't stuffed in the turkey) and left it with the kitchen "staff".  They had made giant aluminum foil trays of stuffing for the over 100 people attending, and so mine was set aside.  Later on, the "head chef" said, "hey, that was really good stuffing.  Is that parsley?  We decided not to put it out.  Do you mind if we bring some home?"

2 years later, bump into "head chef" during fellowship after church, "Hey Amy, are you making that stuffing again this year?"

After many rave reviews and since many folks think Stove-Top and Pepperidge Farm are how stuffing is made, I thought I would share my step-mother's grandmother's recipe for REAL stuffing.

I remember my step-mother, Rose, making this recipe with me when I was a young girl, but I don't think it was until I had been married for about 15 years that I actually asked for the recipe.  

To start, lay out your bread to stiffen/stale.  I do not use white bread, or at least not all white bread.  I save and freeze bread ends or any bread that will not be used, like that last hamburger roll or the end of the loaf that is no longer fresh.  This year, I had bought some rolls from Walmart that were day-old cheap and was going to use for dinner, but made my own from scratch instead.  So those were cut in half and put out to stale for stuffing.  I just leave it out overnight on my counter.  

Next, I cut the bread into cubes and place in very large bowl.  I know the recipe says to moisten into balls, but I found that the seasonings, egg, etc didn't mix as well with the bread and it was too dense that way, so I cut into 1-inch cubes instead.  

Add to the bread crumbs:  
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine 
Fresh Parsley, chopped fine (I used a WHOLE bunch, this is a key ingredient) 
Fresh or dried Thyme (6-8 stalks or 1/2 t. dried)
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper (I probably used more)
3 eggs 
Broth to moisten bread (1 -2 cups, but add gradually)

Mix well....clean hands work best! 

Try adding 1 lb sausage if you like.  I parboiled and broke into tiny pieces before adding to the above.

Stuff into turkey or bake in a large casserole dish for about 30-40 min. (cover for about 1/2 the time then uncover to brown the top....I didn't do that this time, but I think it tastes better that way.)

Enjoy!  (I forgot to take a picture before we ate some!)

Here's just the recipe without pics:

Kate Larsen's Bread Stuffing

About 1 loaf of stale bread (different kinds of breads will do)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
1 full bunch of fresh Parsley, chopped fine
6-8 stalks of fresh Thyme (or 1/2 t. dried)
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper (or more)
3-4 eggs, enough to bind
water or broth - about 1-2 cups
1 lb sausage, parboiled (optional)

Put bread out to stiffen, about 2 hours. Cut bread into cubes and place in large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients except broth/water.  Mix with hands adding a little broth at a time to moisten.  You don't want it soaking.  Place into turkey just before roasting, or put into casserole dish and bake for 30-40 minutes. 

As you can see from the hand-written recipe, credits go to my step-mother, Rosemary Rainer Chesser, and her grandmother, Kate Larsen! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Guns and Culture

I was reading one of the many outrageous zero tolerance story posts on Facebook the other day, the ones where little boys draw pictures of guns and get expelled from school, or glue army men to their baseball hat to honor the military for “hat day” and have their hat confiscated complete with the disdain and punishment that their “sin” for honoring our military deserves.  

I was thinking, why are people so frightened?  Why do people think that these little 7-10 year old boys need to be punished for their interest in guns?  Why do people think they are going to actually hurt someone?

In today’s culture, evil is glamorized.  Video games and television shows desensitize us and our children to the horror of violence.  The use of guns for evil purposes is featured in the news on a daily basis.  The stories of citizens protecting themselves or their fellow citizens with a gun are not featured in the weekly news, although they are happening.  Why is not heroism glorified?  

What was the original purpose of guns?  To provide for and to protect one’s family, property, and country.  

I think of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father’s gun above the door.  Pa would use the gun to provide game for their family, to protect their crops, and to protect them from dangerous animals or people.  Laura felt secure with the gun above the door and the family dog, Jack, pacing with hackles up as the wolves howled outside the Little House in the Big Woods.

I think of early America. The original militia was just a bunch of farmers with their own family weapons, weapons used to provide.....and to protect.  Our country was founded by armed citizens.  If these weapons were taken from these families, our country would not exist with it’s freedoms intact. 

We have been a gun-owning citizenry for over 200 years, there have always been the evil and the insane, why has our view of the ownership of guns changed?  Because our culture’s use of guns has changed or...perhaps just the reported use of guns has changed.

The gun-owners I know personally are very intent on using their weapons for provision and for protection.  They are primarily hunters providing meat (non-hormone-laden, free-range meat that everyone is paying a pretty penny to purchase these days.)  I suppose their guns could be used for protection as well, like maybe protecting one’s livestock from the unexpected bear in the chicken coop, or the intruder turning the door handle of their home at 2AM!  

For sure, they follow the rules of gun safety and usage and they TRAIN THEIR CHILDREN TO as well.

Perhaps, instead of instituting draconian rules about mere drawings of guns, comments about guns, and possession of toy guns, we should be teaching and training our children the proper use of guns, gun safety, and respect for life.  If children only see the glorification of violence, and not the respectful use of guns or the sacrifice of soldiers or the emotional devastation of the misuse of guns, they will not respect weapons.  They will either see them as a tool of callous power or a source of fear.  

As we remove guns from our citizens this will only amplify the misuse of them.  Guns will be ONLY viewed as a source of power to wield over the weak.  Those who can obtain them will do so illegally and use them for evil purposes.  The obedient will become vulnerable and helpless.  I am not even getting into government use of weapons, government is made up of humans, good and evil.  Government individuals can misuse guns as well.  Even those delegated with the responsibility of protecting our citizens and given the authority to use guns cannot be everywhere at once, leaving the weak, vulnerable or dead.   

So, why not?  Why not have a gun course in schools?  You wouldn’t even have to use guns.  Just teach children the proper use of a gun, gun safety, potential dangers, precautions, etc. Today’s children are not taught the real danger or use of guns and they will not learn it by being punished for drawing pictures of them or creating one out of a stick.  I think more than likely, it will foster anger and rebellion, rather than fear and respect.  It certainly will not help them to act responsibly if they come across one unexpectedly.  Why not combat the violence with knowledge and wisdom? 

 We may not be able to remove the evil from our midst, but we could make wise the simple and strengthen the weak.

(This is just a website I found with a very detailed write up on gun safety. This guy is serious and that is what our children, our citizens, should think and feel about guns.  I know that in RI you must go through a gun safety course before getting a hunting license.  I know that it is extremely detailed, outlining multiple scenarios of potential danger, but the assumption is that people will behave responsibly and with caution while hunting, otherwise there would be a lot less licenses issued.)  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Write it Down

When I started having children.....actually before that, when I got married, my friend Shelley used to tell me, “Amy, write that down.  You’ll forget.”  
This week was my oldest son’s 18th birthday.  My youngest daughter, age 10 asked me, “Mom, what time was Aidan born?”  I said, “I don’t know. I think some time at night.”  Then the questions kept coming, what about this sibling, and this sibling, and what about me?  I said, “Well, I remember when you were born because I know they were joking around that I was going to be able to eat lunch.  You were born right after lunch.” 

Then I see on Facebook, everyone posting their kids birthdays, with the TIME they were born and I start to say to myself, “when were they born?  I can’t remember.”   

I was never one for writing stuff down, I mean, especially if it was something you didn’t want someone ELSE to know when you die or something.  I tried journaling and I have written down some significant things over the years that I really wanted to remember, but rarely.  And, I actually started blogging for two reasons, so that I could remember things and so that I didn’t have to give the same advice a gazillion times.  But I wasn’t blogging when I first started having children. Were there blogs back then?

I did take my friend’s advice for my children.  I kept little journals during my pregnancy for each one of them.  Some of them have more detail than others.  

This morning I rummaged through my book shelf and produced 4 little journals.  Elise was still in bed and I said, “Okay, Elise, Aidan was born at 2:28PM. I was way off on that one.  Tyler was born at 9:39PM. Look, Daddy wrote that down.  That’s his handwriting.  Avanell was born at 11:21PM. And, you were born at 12:20PM. See, just after lunch.”  

Then I read an excerpt to her, “Elise is the sweetest baby.  We all enjoy her so much.  All her characteristics just make you want to hug her and play with her.”

To which she replied with a teary smile, “Thank you for writing that down.” 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What Godspell taught me about Jesus

Whenever I see a movie or in this case, a play, I think about it for a few days, that is, if it is any good.

We saw Godspell last night at a small venue in Putnam, CT called Complex Performing Arts Center.  The worship leaders at our church, Living Hope Christian Church, acted in and directed the play.  I am humbled to say, I have been brought near to tears just thinking about the play today.   

The content itself was very familiar to me, the Gospel of Matthew.  I knew the stories and the major plot, of course. There were characters in the play who were regular people/Jesus’ disciples, and even at times acting as Christ’s persecutors, betrayers and killers.  Jesus, of course, was the main character.  

Godspell really showed me Jesus’ humanity and friendship.  He is every believer’s close and intimate friend.   

As the play went on, the same people were following Jesus consistently.  He told His parables and they acted them out.  He was very kind, loving, and understanding to all, no matter what their behavior.  He was welcoming to sinners and kindly corrective.  He was accusatory towards the religious elite. There was also plenty of humor. 

The level of intimacy between Him and these disciples/followers increased throughout the play. I felt uncomfortable on occasion with the intimacy of some of the women with Jesus.  I realized this was my own fleshly mind getting in the way.  This was Jesus!  Jesus’ relationships were all pure, although He was a man, he was also God.  Jesus really did let a prostitute touch him.  Jesus probably would have sang songs with Martha or Mary or other women as well.  He did touch people often, and they touched him.  Jesus was more than their friend.  They followed Him; they worshiped Him; there was nothing inappropriate about it.  He was God in the flesh. In the play when Jesus was crucified, the people were weeping at the foot of the cross but they were literally on his legs, touching him.  I wonder now if the people at the foot of the cross were actually, in fact, touching Jesus’ feet.   

I realized that up to this point, I have had a very cordial, distant way of thinking about Jesus.  As I started thinking through the play, I found myself teary-eyed thinking about Jesus as my close friend.  I have been thinking about Him and what it would be like to “hang out” with Him.  How I would I have felt if He were killed before my very eyes, especially after witnessing His perfect goodness and innocence? What will it be like to be with Him in Heaven?

Normally, I would have major issues with a play that leaves Jesus dead, but since we saw it on Good Friday, I was perfectly fine with it.  I realize now, if He had risen in the play, I probably would have continued along with my cold/cordial thoughts of Jesus as a risen unapproachable radiant being, instead of on His life, His humanity and His relationships with His followers.....and with me. 

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. - John 15:13

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Not-To-Do List?

I commented recently on a friend’s business Facebook page regarding a video about, prioritizing; making a “not to do” list.  The speaker made the point that sometimes children approach with things that are clearly, not something you are going to interrupt your time to do.  My comment was that sometimes the unimportant things your child approaches you with, are really important to them!  I really do agree with this man, because with all that I have to do, I do routinely say, “no, we are not doing that right now, to my child.”  But sometimes I look at the activity and find it unworthy of my time.....then I look at the CHILD and I say, “okay, let’s do that.”

Children are important.  I think that many parents are at a disadvantage because their children are away from them 8 - 10 - 12 hours a day. How can anything in the remaining 2-4 hours be unimportant if it means spending time with your child?  

I feel like I have the advantage.  I homeschool.  I am with my children for most hours in a day. Please don’t think that homeschool kids and moms are home 24/7. My kids do go out to activities, visit friends, and on field trips with me and on their own, but I don’t have the limited time with my kids that many parents have.

I do a lot of things.  I own 4 dairy goats that must be milked each morning and evening along with other care that they need periodically.  I make my own soap and cheese. I have chickens and ducks.  A garden in season. I run a non-profit homeschool organization of 250 families.  And, I homeschool my children.  People ask me, how do you do it all?  I would say the answers are:  routine, delegation, flexibility, and multi-tasking. 

I do have an every day routine.  Goats are milked morning and evening at the same time (roughly) every day.  Chickens and ducks are fed and watered as well.  I eat breakfast.  Check email.  Make my bed.  I shower and get dressed every morning. The dishes are washed and put away. I have homeschool time with 10 year old.  Dinner is prepared (or reheated.) These things happen every day.  

I have trained my kids to do basic chores.  I have not succeeded in making them do them on their own, but they will do anything I ask them to do with a relatively good attitude.  I delegated putting the dishes away to my daughter this morning while I showered.

Older children are responsible for their own school work.  Much of this depends on them.  Not all of them are the best time-managers.  Some things are undone, some things are behind, and some things they are ahead on.  I am trying to re-instill routine in them to get them on track with everything, but they are old enough now to do school on their own and they do.  One of them is in college and doing well; she is completely on her own.  Two of them are taking a CCRI class and they complete their assignments without my intervention. This shows me that much of their schooling can be delegated to them confidently.

Many of the events, tasks, and planning for the homeschool organization I run, are delegated away.  I merely need to make sure that the events are delegated to trustworthy volunteers.  I said recently to a speaker at our Conference that I was nervous about it and she said in jest, “oh, is that tomorrow?”  That was not something I was concerned about.  I find people I can trust and I give them a task and then trust that they will do it.  No one has failed me yet (that I can recall!)  Church events are the same, if I ask someone to cook for a Fellowship lunch, I just trust them to do so.  If I trust someone to cover games for VBS, I am confident they will. Again, no one has failed me yet.

Today was a flexible day.  Homeschool routine with 10 year old was postponed so that I could do some things that become urgent at this time each month, namely, the homeschool organization newsletter and paying my bills.  I was awaiting a few items for the newsletter and kept putting my daughter off.  Fortunately, she is very good at self-entertainment, and in an educational way. 

And Multi-tasking:
I managed to do 1/3 of my daughter’s schoolwork with her while I was waiting for someone to call me back about the newsletter (they forgot about me!) and I paid my bills while I was waiting for another call. Once the newsletter was taken care of and bills were paid, my 10 year old and I went to run errands and to the library.  Now school is done.  It is later than usual, but today had to be a flexible day and I am happy to have completed some of it in what I originally thought was going to be wasted waiting time. 

So, in re-reading this, I am thinking that I sound really unorganized.  There is truly a balance between structure and flexibility, especially when things are ever-changing. I often wonder how women and men who work outside of the home do it.  How do YOU do it?  I want to ask.  How do you spend quality time with your children?  When do you go to the dentist?  When do you do your errands?  When do you make your dinner?  The structure of having a job outside the home leaves little flexibility for those things that you just can’t put off in life.....some things just can’t go on the “not to do” list.

(Now, to be fair, I should have my next post be a not-to-do-list!)


Monday, March 25, 2013

Spelling and Vocabulary and Writing

It seems like there has been a lot of advice and comfort coming from stories, stories of success or unexpected outcomes.  I have been encouraged by stories myself a lot lately, and been telling my own.  I think I will blog some of my stories to see if maybe someone may benefit from them as well.

I will apologize at the outset that this is not smooth story.
Having a homeschool graduate, a senior, and a junior, I feel like I can say with some authority, “don’t worry about it.”  That’s not to say that I am not doing my own worrying about what lies ahead. But today I am talking about spelling, vocabulary, and writing.  There have been a plethora of questions, conversations, and concern regarding spelling and vocabulary, most specifically, and that naturally ties into writing as well.   

What did I use for spelling and vocabulary curriculum?  The answer is many things but nothing consistently.  This is mainly a story about my boys education through spelling, vocabulary and writing, a potentially worrisome route with a surprise ending. 

For Daughter 1, my oldest, we did Spelling Workout, these were workbooks and I liked the incremental way that they focused on similarly spelled words.  She probably did the first 4 -5 books. She also read at age 4 and taught herself cursive in first grade. Classic first child. 

Then came Son 2, although he was reading at age 6, he cried about any writing until he was about 9 years old, almost like it hurt to write. I finally asked a friend with a degree in early childhood development about handwriting and some possible solutions. Her  short answer was, “don’t worry about it.”  She asked me, “Amy, how often does your husband write?  How is his handwriting?  How does he generally communicate with others?”  The answer was, of course, he types emails and IMs, and on rare occasions, will hand write a note.  His handwriting isn’t that great.  Come to think of it, most doctors have notoriously bad handwriting.

So, I didn’t worry about it.  He still read and did math and wrote short answers for other subjects, but most of our learning was through reading and listening, so writing didn’t come up much.

Then Son 3 did not read until he was almost 10. So there was no writing, except some phonics, until then.  Fortunately, when he did start reading, it was right at grade-level, so we could dive right into writing.  His handwriting was (and still is) horrible, but legible.  I don’t worry about it.  

We joined a co-op, when the boys were probably 11 and 12.  There was a writing class.  For the first in-class assignment, Son 3 wrote, “I can’t spell” on his paper  The teacher showed me the assignment, and I just sighed.  I was worried!  

I went home and read Ruth Beechick’s “The Three R’s” book, the writing section, and Susan Wise Bauer’s book, “Writing with Ease”.   Both recommended dictation.  I sat the boys down at the kitchen table and told them.  “I am going to read something to you and you are going to write it down.  You may correct your work from the original when I am done and you can ask me to spell any word you don’t know.”   I read to them a Shel Silverstein poem (can’t remember which one),needless to say, they were chuckling as they wrote.  

It was like a miracle.  All it took was 2-3 dictation lessons for them to realize, “Yes, I can spell reasonably well, and I can always correct it if it is wrong.” , “I can easily put what is in my head onto paper.” and “Hey, writing can be creative and fun.”  Shortly afterward, Son 3 wrote a novel about my husband.  The title was, “Stephen in Fantasy World”.  Friends, relatives, and acquaintances were main characters.  It was quite humorous. The handwriting was horrible, but he brought it to me regularly to check the spelling and make corrections before showing it to his co-op teacher.  

I should mention that Boy 2, handwriter-with-tears, was still not great at getting much on paper, but his handwriting ended up being BEAUTIFUL!  He may not have had much to say, but he  could be a calligrapher.  

I should also mention Daughter 4 here (currently age 10).  She is another struggling reader, auditory learner.  If she hears it, she remembers it. Dictation was also crucial to her learning.  She seemed to turn a corner when I started spelling by dictating words to her.  I say it, she says it back, and spells it.  The combo of hearing and writing has, been the key to her finally jumping from sounding-out to some whole-word reading.  Whew.  I was worried for a while there. (Just a note, that I got this phonics dictation idea from the blog at

Back to the boys’ story.  

I bought Sequential Spelling.  My boys grew quickly bored with it.  

I bought Vocabulary from the Classical Roots.  It was okay. I think they may have each completed a book.....maybe.  

I bought some Sadlier-Oxford vocabulary workbooks.  We had those in school and I loved them.  But my boys did not get the subtle differences in meanings for words that seemed obvious to me and Daughter 1. 

Meanwhile, Daughter 1 was (is) an avid reader and was working through Wordly Wise vocab books for some grades and Vocabulary from Classical roots for others. She was constantly reading.  Every free moment.....reading, reading, reading.  And I think that IS the key to spelling AND vocabulary AND writing.  

We were also reading a lot as a family.  As part of school each day, I read new and classic literature, history, historical fiction, science, etc. aloud to the kids.  My husband read to the kids at night.  Eventually, the boys started reading for pleasure and for school assignments as well.

When the boys were about 13 and 14, I decided to start a boys‘ writing class with them and a few of their friends.  I used the curriculum Write Shop. The accountability and competition of writing with friends really spurred them on.  I had read the book “Boy Writers” by Ralph Fletcher and it gave me different goals and expectations for the class.  We were not going to be discussing feelings here.  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the material that was eventually produced.  All of the boys really improved over the course of the class and gained confidence in writing.  

In the following years, they had writing assignments for history and language arts, but honestly, they did not produce much. 

At ages 15 and 16, I did do a short SAT essay prep class with them and two other homeschool students.  This was a new level of difficulty, timed essays.  They did fine.  Their reasoning was clear, their spelling mostly correct, and their vocabulary commendable.

Since then, they have not done much formal spelling, vocabulary or writing, aside from the “you must use correct spelling and grammar on Facebook” ultimatum.  Did you ever think of spell-check as a good spelling teacher?  A red line warning you each time you spell something wrong, seems to be a good teacher to me.

So, how are they doing now? 

I have caught them reading the dictionary, vocab flip books, and cartoon vocab books on their own.

They scored “okay” on their PSAT and SATs. Boy 3 may improve his scores, he still has a few more tries at it.

They scored very well on the Accuplacer, placement test for CCRI.

They are both taking a CCRI Intro to Lit course, heavy on the reading and the writing.  They have both said how much they really love it and have completed all their assignments without (many) reminders from me.  I will have to update with a grade, but they are holding their own in a college class at the ages of 16 and 17.  

Perhaps they could have gotten better scores on their SAT (one still may), If they did “all the workbooks”.  Despite or Because of the ad-hoc spelling, vocabulary and writing education they have received, they like reading, they like writing, and they like words, which I think is key to them continuing to pursue these subjects as they continue their education out from under my guidance.  

Not sure what we learn from my story, but I guess it is: if your child is a language lover let them go with it.  If they are not, try something else.  Read, read, read, either them to you or you to them.  And......don't worry about it.