Day ZERO: Homeschooling a Freshman


A few weeks ago, I thought it would be a great idea to “brush off” this “adventures in parenting” themed blog and continue reflecting on life with three teenagers.  I’m pleased to say I can still write under the title:


My husband and I are parenting a Senior Girl (18), Sophomore Boy (16), and Freshman Boy (15).  Three High Schoolers and a 14 month old Black Lab Puppy named Cooper.  There is always something to write about.

Two weeks ago, my FB15 came downstairs and asked:

“Can’t I do some sort of modules for school?”

Since the new semester, began in late January 2017, he has been struggling to get up and get going.  His temperature did not register over 99.1 (rather never registered above 97.1 either…but more on that later) so that meant, Get Dressed and Hit the Road.  He has more or less “hated” school.  Especially English, which was Period 1…how he started everyday.

He is bright and problems solves ways to do the least amount of work for the maximum results.  I know most kids do this, but he is especially gifted a delegation (and procrastination).  I am certain he will have a personal assistant who reads and summarizes for him – later in life – in the meantime, the educator in me wants him to learn something too.  So, without doing too much recap, I feel keeping him home, for at least these last 90 days of Freshman year, should help get to the root of a few things:

  • Does he have reading disability?
  • How distracted is he during a lesson?
  • Will having more freedom to make his own schedule motivate him?
  • Will this enhance and hurt our relationship?

I am a licensed K-8 educator.   I have BS in Business Administration and a Masters in Education.  I’ve taken a variety of online courses to renew my teacher certification.  I’m currently participating in a year-long online course to become a certified Health Coach.But am I qualified to work with my own kid without losing my mind?  That’s what I hope to find out through this blog.  Wish me luck!  LOL.

I think we are ready to launch tomorrow and start Day 1.

What have I (we) done to get ready for Homeschooling?

  1. Research the Options
  2. Prepare a Learning Environment
  3. Create a Game Plan for Support Services
  4. Set Guidelines for Free Time
  5. Prepare for Pitfalls

It will all be new and I am going to attempt to keep on my Duct Tape and let him sort of blunder through these first couple of weeks.  It would be sooooo easy for me to just “create” structure and discipline…but then it is a new environment for some of his major complaints.  So, with faith, I am curious to see what emerges in the next few days and weeks.

Nurture Shock (Chapter 7) The Science of Teen Rebellion


I’ve got a new book on my nightstand!


Nurture Shock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

The central premise of this book is that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring because key twists in the science have been overlooked.


Since every chapter of this book, turns thinking upside down, I naturally want to dig in and make sense of it all so that I can change my belief systems!

Chapter 7: The Science of Teen Rebellion: Why, for adolescents, arguing with adults is a sign of respect, not disrespect-and arguing is contructive to the relationship, not destructive.

Three Hot Topics:

  1. When and Why Kids Lie
  2. Neuroscience of a Teen Brain
  3. Arguing is respectful

Sometimes it is the quiet, compliant, model students …who lie the most about really big stuff!

“I like to my parents every day.  I lie about homework every night. I say I finished it when I haven’t even started it.  I finish it – but I do it at school before class. Never when I say it’s done”. … “I just don’t want to tell my mom something if it is going to make my life difficult.  She lectures me a lot- and I don’t want her to stop.  If she did, I would think she didn’t care.  So sometimes, I will tell her the truth-when I feel like being lectured. It just depends on my mood. But I only ever tell her the truth when I want to”.

Drs. Nancy Darling and Linda Caldwell go curious about how much teens lie to (and hide from ) their parents.

96% of teens in Darling’s study reported lying to parents.

By withholding information from the parent, kids carve out their own identity that is theirs alone, separate from parents and authority figures.

To seek out a parents help, is from a teen’s perspective, a tacit admission that he’s not mature enough to handle it alone….It’s essential for some things to be ‘none of your (parent’s)  business’.

Surprise to researchers was the age for this autonomy.  Darling found that the objection to authority peaks at around at age 14-15.  The strongest resistance is age 11.  It isn’t the high schoolers.  It is the much younger early middle schoolers.

Teens lie about:

  • what they spend their allowance on,
  • whether they are dating
  • what clothes they wear away from home
  • what movie they went to with who
  • they lie about alcohol and drug use
  • who they hang out with (especially if the parents disapprove)
  • how they spend their afternoon if parents work
  • whether there was a chaperone at the party
  • whether they rode in a car with a drunk driver
  • homework
  • what music they are listening to

“Drinking, drug use, and their sex lives are the things kids hide the most from their parents, ” Darling noted… “They really objected to the emotional intrusiveness (of the sex lives)-being asked, “How serious is this relationship?” and “Do you love this person?”.  Kids don’t want to answer those questions.

I’m trying to protect the relationship with my parents, I don’t want them to be disappointed in me.

What about the parents?

Many parents are misled to believe that being permissive will keep them more informed. Darling found that kids who go wild have the most permissive parents and the kids take the lack of rules as a sign that parents don’t care. That their parents don’t really want the job of being parents.

Darling found that most rules-heavy parents don’t actually enforce them. “It’s too much work”.  These teens avoid direct conflict and just sneak around behind their parents backs.

The parents who are warm and supportive and have the most conversations with their kids were the most consistent at enforcing rules. They set them over key areas and explained why the rules are in place. They expect the kids to obey the guidelines.

Over life’s other spheres, they supported the child’s autonomy, allowing freedom to make their own decisions

The kids of these parents lied the least!

Linda Caldwell’s hypothesis that teens who are bored turn to drinking and drugs was confirmed in The Mod Squad Study.

Can you teach a kid how NOT to be bored?

Caldwell designed a program to see if she could try.  Her research showed boredom starts in 7th grade and increases all through til 12th grade. Intrinsic motivation also drops. She got school districts in Pennsylvania to implement a program called TimeWise.  Sadly, six months after taking the class, were not dramatically different than the kids who didn’t take the class.

The research also found that it wasn’t just kids with lots of free time who were bored, busy kids were too. The busy kids were doing a lot of things their parents signed them up for. The more controlling the parent, the more likely the kid will be bored.

Why didn’t TimeWise help?

Seems it has to do with how a teen brain is wired.

At UCLA, Dr. Adriana Glaven looked at the brain’s reward center.  Teen brains do not get pleasure out of things that are only mildly or moderately rewarding.

Galvan noted that “the response pattern of teen brains is essentially the same response curve of a seasoned drug addict. There reward center cannot be stimulated by low doses- the need the big jolt to get pleasure”.

But that’s not all.  When they are emotionally charged, Teen’s brains are handicapped in the prefrontal cortex and lose the ability to gauge risk and foresee consequences. In exciting real life situations, the rational part of the brain gets overridden by the bright reward center.

All of this fits what we see in the real world.  They sleep in class, drink on the weekends, and don’t realize it is a bad idea to put five friends in a golf cart and drive down a steep hill with a curve at the bottom.

  • Parents ask: “What were you thinking?”
  • Teens answer: “I don’t know?” “I wasn’t thinking!”

The neuroscience of risk taking is very advanced field, but it doesn’t offer many solutions; some teens brains are wired to take big risks, done deal.

Kids will take stupid chances, surrounded by friends, just for the thrill of it.

There may be some hope for those of us chewing on our fingernails in fear!  Researchers have found that teens are only SOMETIMES huge risk takers.

Social terror keeps them in check! Dr. Abigail Brasser watched teens in an MRI scanner and presented good and bad ideas (swallow a cockroach, bite on a lightbulb, light your hair on fire…)

Adults answer immediately, teen brains take a lot longer to answer…they are THINKING. Adults have more experiences so they have more automatic responses.  Since kids don’t have painful experiences to draw off of the idea of swimming with sharks doesn’t necessarily scare them.

When parents ask “Why did you have to try that?”…they teen brain can think abstractly, but it can’t feel abstractly…at least not until it has more life experiences to draw on.

Feeling like it is a bad idea is what it would take to stop oneself from doing it

Social exposure and peer judgement vibrantly light up parts of the brain that signal distress and danger.

That’s the teen brain at fifteen in a nutshell – fearless to jumping off roofs, but terrified of having its love of Nickleback exposed.

“Might there be a way to harness the latter to minimize the former” -Bronson and Merryman

The dictionary defines the opposite of honesty if lying; the antonym of arguing is agreement.

To an adolescent, arguing is the opposite of lying.

Darling’s research revealed that the main motivation of telling the truth was in the hope that parents would give in and say it was okay. The kids thought arguing was worth it if the parents might budge.

  • In families with less deception, there was a higher ratio of arguing/complaining.
  • Arguing stresses parents out
  • Filipino teens (where families are viewed as lacking conflict and children do not challenge parents) had the highest rate of convict.
  • But Filipino teens were fighting parents over the rules, not over the authority of the parents to set the rules
  • American teens didn’t bother to argue. They just pretended to go along with the parent’s wishes, but then go do what they wanted anyway.

Certain types of fighting…are ultimately a sign of respect – not disrespect.

Parents are the ones who are messed up in the thinking. Tabitha Holmes found that 46% of moms rated arguments with their daughters and destructive to the relationship.  Only 23% of the daughters felt they were destructive and far more believed that fighting strengthened their relationship with mom.  The daughters saw fighting as a way to see their parents in a new way as they heard the mom’s perspective told.  Frequent fighting was also not viewed as destructive by the teens.

The variable that seems to be key:

The teen needs to feel heard, and when reasonable, the parent needs to budge.

Holmes found the daughters who felt the arguments were destructive had moms who stonewalled rather than collaborated.

“Parents who negotiate appear to be more informed. Parents with unbending strict guidelines make it a tactical issue for kids to find a way around them.” Robert Laird

Teens view arguing as productive!

But wait, society warns parents not to be pushovers or we will breed beggars and whiners. Even Darling’s study showed permissive parenting leads to lying.

The findings come down to this:

Pushover parents give into kids because they can’t stand to see them cry or hurt. They placate to shut them up. They want to be their kid’s friend, and don’t want to be viewed as the bad guy.

That is not the same as insuring that a child feels heard, and if the child has a good argument for why a rule needs to be changed, that parent lets the discussion influence a change in decision.

Darling found a similar distinction: The type of parents lied to the least had rules and guidelines that were enforced consistently, but found ways to be flexible that allowed kids to respect the rule-setting process.

“Collaboration retains a parent’s legitimacy” -Bronson and Merryman


WOW! What do I take from all this?

I need to continue to find the balance in parenting that guides my kids to becoming independent responsible resilient adults.

Duct Tape Parenting has guided me to practice parenting in a way that matches this current research.

  • Raise Thinking Kids
  • Examine my own beliefs and rewriting them to strengthen the relationships with my children and dropping the beliefs that no longer serve the strength of my family bonds.
  • Make agreements that provide guidelines for acceptable behavior in our home and make sure they match the expectations of society-the real world.
  • Allow my kids a voice in those agreements. Value their input in the process.
  • Remind them over and over again that they have worth in our family and gifts to contribute to the world.
  • Appreciate my kids every day, every hour, every minute if possible.

and…I’m going to be…. (Click the pic for strategies!)


Family Meetings – Reflections on Appreciations


Happy New Year!








I always consider the start of a new school year as an opportunity for new beginnings.  New binders, crayons, and folders.  New shoes and new school clothes. It’s exciting!

…A fresh new start.  I am entering 2nd Grade/Year #2 in Duct Tape Parenting.

I got the amazing opportunity of participating in my first “class of the year”:

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(She is starting another round of it on September 15th.  Click Family Meetings with Vicki Hoefle to join.)

The Family Meeting is a critical tool when raising respectful, responsible, and resilient kids.  It is a deep and rich strategy that helps you move forward and stay on track toward continued success. VH

Last year I shared “An Invitation to Our Family Meeting”

I’m taking it to the next level and diving deeper. I have decided to step back, Go Slow, and rebuild our Family Meetings from the bottom up.









Every meeting starts with Appreciations.

Appreciations are an opportunity for us to acknowledge and express gratitude for the difference the people that we live with make in our lives every day. This is the parent’s opportunity to focus their attention on helping their children develop traits like kindness, inclusion, compassion, understanding, respect, and acceptance and a chance to feel good about their strengths. VH

I don’t want to give away too many of the amazing rich goodies you will learn in the class…but I’m willing to try any strategy that will address the everyday challenges of:

  • Sibling Rivalry
  • Rude and Disrespectful Behavior
  • Being Critical of Others
  • Self-Criticism

Imagine a world where every child was showered with appreciations every week by the members of their family?

Expressing gratitude week after week, month after month, year after year in a society where the focus is on finding problems and pointing out faults, teaches our children how to for the best in family members, their friends, and their community. VH


I have to admit, our Appreciations got very superficial over the last year.  A lot of appreciating “car rides, meals, weekends/vacations”.  They were all sort of easy to do…and no one really felt empowered by the process.  So I was thankful to have some handy hints to set out on our new improved version of the family meetings.

  • Be Prepared for Appreciations to be difficult (for everyone-Parents too!)
  • When someone is stuck, let them pass and try again when everyone is finished
  • Create an appreciation board or encourage everyone to write them down through out the week
  • Go deeper by asking “What do you appreciate about…?”
  • Have kids struggle to come up with their own and don’t correct anyone’s appreciations
  • Limit appreciations to 3-4 sentences.
  • Accept that some will struggle; it’s normal.

It is so much more than Saying Nice Things.


  • It is my job to shower my kid’s -many times a day -with appreciation and model how it is done.
  • If I want more appreciative comments, I have to model it.
  • And if we keep at it…we will get the best appreciation of all:


Holiday Greeting Family Photos


At one point in “The Life Journey” I realized that gathering the family together  for the “Family Christmas Card Photo” was stressful and messy.


When the kids were babies, it was easier to find matching colors and coordinate the lovely memory moment.


Fortunately, it was a bit easier than wrestling monkeys.

…and I never wanted anything contrived and posed for Christmas:



So I got smart (or so I thought) and throughout the year, I attempted to try and create a photo in April …  or June… while on a family trip.

My kids have gotten to an age that standing together as a “family unit” is deemed annoying and irritating.  Below is the best picture from the Spring Break Cabo Trip!


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I was ready to post this on the fridge and declare it the Christmas Pic.

Or maybe, in this age of selfies, I need to announce that everyone needs to submit their own favorite photo for the yearly greeting.

Declare a deadline, and whatever I get, I create a lovely collage.

But I still like little family gatherings.

Maybe we are happier when we are muddy and dirty!


Finals Day 3: Hormone Health


Since reading Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, at age 11, I’ve been a student of women’s health and hormones!


Like many kids in the 70s, I got most of my Sex Ed from Judy Blume and her various literary works! (My more advanced study came from finding my parent’s copy of The Joy of Sex in their nightstand–those were some provocative illustrations!)

Last week, Haydee, my gynecologist, informed me that I’m officially Menopause Mama. I’m thrilled!  It’s been a wild hormone ride the last 30-40 years. From wishing for my period (like Margaret and her friends) …to struggling through infertility …to birthing and nursing …perimenopause HELL ….adrenal and thyroid dysfunction…I worked with my doctor to formulate bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.  I feel fabulous.  I am celebrating the end to the merry-go-round known as “the cycle”.  I’m ready to embrace the next stage of my life with peace and acceptance.  I feel amazing at age 50!

I’ve met a ton of gals who have the symptoms I experienced from age 37 until 49.  As soon as sleep is disturbed-every night-at the same time-(12:32am, 1:48am, 3:13am, 4:59am were my wake-up times!) I urge them to get a blood panel of ALL of their hormones …and then do a saliva cortisol panel.  I get one from my favorite compounding pharmacy: Solutions Speciality.  The owner, Matt, uses the ZRT Test Kit.  It took me over 10 years to realize that all things lead back to the adrenal glands.

For me…my adrenal glands have to be fed by high quality, clean, fresh,organic food and grass-fed, pasture-raised protein sources.  I can’t consume sugar, gluten, or alcohol without them twanging at me!  It all comes back to Food and Nutrition. Setting up a sleep routine is another key element to vibrant health!

What’s on My Nightstand (and falling off onto the floor?)

Dr. Sara Gottfried just released her book in paperback.  It is the first place to start!  (Wish this was written 10 years ago!) Her Hormone Quiz is the best way to quickly determine your hormone  needs and concerns.


I found Northrup’s book in the height of my infertility years.  It is “All Things Female” and should be required reading for every girl and woman!  Northrup wrote the forward to Gottfried’s new book! (She is Oprah’s “Go To Gyno”)


A must read if you suspect you have anything wonky going on with your thyroid. Make sure to get the revised edition.


I can’t “stress” enough how important the adrenal glands are for everyone….especially since we are bombarded with extreme levels of “stress” in our lives. Simple things like avoiding sugar after 2pm and turning off my phone and computer by 9pm have made a huge difference in my sleep patterns.


Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride is a must read for understanding the Gut-Brain Connection.  I believe we are all going to hear a lot more about this in the years to come!


Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist, gives honest and forthright information on the impact of what we eat and how it is affects our brain health (which runs our hormone machines)!


A Few More Resources from my Journey

Thanks to Tara Rayburn-The Healthy Habit Coach, in January 2011,  I was introduced to:

Adding these health practices and eliminating alcohol and gluten were a step to healing my adrenals.  (I was in Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue in October 2008)


Donna Gates is a Health Goddess.  Her work is an expanded extension of healing the gut from candida.  Like me, she had followed the Yeast Connection protocol on her road to wellness.  When I eat more fermented foods.  I feel better (note to self:  make more friendly critters this summer!)


In April 2012, I still was not satisfied with my adrenal health.  I was fortunate to meet Dr. Orlandis Wells. He moved me further along to optimal health.


November 2012, I hear Jordan Rubin speak. I become a “Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised Protein” hunter and gatherer!


I’ve been hearing a lot about the health benefits of collagen (the good stuff we get from bone broth!).  Just picked up this e-book.



Just stumbled onto Danielle LaPorte.  My book and journal just arrived in the mail. (Thanks Dr. Sara)



Found this in my drawer.  All the signs in the sky say “It isTime” to balance my wellness wheel and look at nourishing the soul.


What is in my “Amazon” Shopping Basket?

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Finals Day 2: Food and Nutrition


Last Fall, I was introduced to an offer – Harvest Your Health – by the Wellness Mama

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I had not planned to take another “education adventure” last Fall.  I was already committed to exploring my parenting beliefs and implementing a new way of Family life in my household.  But the Wellness Mama announced she would be a speaker at The Real Food Con by Sean Croxton.  I signed up for the online conference and that kept the ball rolling.

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Which led to …

The Gluten Summit

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…the next thing I knew I was submerged in Food and Nutrition and how new information fit with my own experiences with food and beverage and how it impacts my wellness wheel.  The following quote -quite simply- sums it all up:



A Dozen Books and Resources

  1. Grain Brain
  2. Wheat Belly
  3. Gut and Psychology Syndrome
  4. Solving Leaky Gut
  5. Your Personal Paleo Code
  6. The Blood Sugar Solution
  7. The 10 Day Detox
  8. The Calorie Myth
  9. The ChEAT System Diet
  10. The Schwarzbein Principle
  11. The Kalish Method
  12. …Because it’s your Life

Is there any program that is “The Best”?


I am finding that I have the most vibrant health and balanced wellness when I avoid gluten, sugar, and alcohol.  Doesn’t sound very fun and social.  But I have learned I can still enjoy friends and family without these three bad boys. When I dabble, I pay the price.  Usually with poor sleep.

I need a few carbs (fruit or slow burning starch or organic starchy veggies) to start my day.  I tried a ketosis plan and started to feel a bit wonky.  I need some carbs.  I think I do best if I eat them before 1pm.  If it’s carb rich – I try to  make it fat poor.  No butter on the sweet potato.

  • My body loves meat.  (organ meat too!)
  • My body likes fat (but not an unlimited Paleo Plan approach)
  • My body does better without grains.

It is a lot of trial and error.

I’m still a student.


It’s FINALS week – Day 1 “Parenting”


We are in the homestretch. The end of the school year.


For anyone who has read my blog this year…you will recall that procrastination is a trait of my middle school boys.


Actually, my boys don’t even bother pretending to look at the study guides.

My kid’s are taking finals three days this week, so I am going to “write my final exams” too. (Or at least share my “textbooks”/websites)

Reflecting last night, I found that I have focused on three key themes this “academic year”:

  • Parenting Beliefs
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Hormone Health (because I’m 50…and as of last week…it’s official…I’m Menopause Mama!)

I’ve read books, listened to on-line conference presentations, tried new things…challenged myself to look outside the box in some areas of my life these past nine months.

I’ve used this blog to put into writing my parenting adventures. I guess the posts have been my weekly term papers. But..I’ve also learned that my memory for the funny quotes and day-to-day moments can escape me unless I put them down on paper.  (Could be Menopause Brain Fog too!) For anyone who has stumbled onto this blog…it could have been accidental.  It’s been my source of reflection and I have done my best to keep the “players” anonymous, but I haven’t shared the link with too many people.  Why?  Even though I know it is public, I am still a bit reserved about the whole village “watching” my “learning curve”.  I choose to keep it public so that anyone who has chosen to dive into Parenting 101 has some humor and “war stories” to keep them on the path.

There is so much more to my  life journey than just parenting memories (coming in the next few days)….but I will sum up the resources I’ve used this year (for anyone who cares!) Wink.





But…what have I learned this year?

  1. TRUST …my kids are amazing human beings!
  2. Zip the lip.  The more I stay out of the way the better.
  3. Don’t offer advise. (Even if requested and/or demanded)  Ask questions instead: What are you thinking?  How do you think that will work out?
  4. Be empathetic.  Attempt to remember what was really important at age 12, 13, 15.  (It’s not getting ready for life…it is LIVING life!)
  5. My kids are NOT a reflection of their report cards! (Cs get degrees!!!!)
  6. Attempt to maintain a sense of humor.  (No, that is NOT sarcasm! and/or dry wit—-wink)

Time’s Up.  Exam time over. I’ve got to go “study” for my Nutrition and Hormone Health blogposts.