Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Robinella's Homeschool

...is not very schoolish. We play most of the day. Pete gets to learn a new math concept once a week. We use RightStart Math which does not use a lot of worksheets. It's more mental math. Each day we read one page from "Let's Read: A Linguistic Approach". He never liked phonics. And that's all folks.
Pete's 8. Pete loves to play and pretend. My boys spend the majority of their day outside - whether we are just hanging around the house or whether we attend local homeschool functions like park days, PE, museums, etc.

Monday, March 10, 2008

To homeschool or not to homeschool

You know, I've been (__) this close to sending my son back to school lately. I love him dearly. I want him home. I want him schooled at home, but he's really wracked my nerves these last two years.

What do I do? I give myself an attitude adjustment. I take myself out behind the house, give myself a good swift kick in the ass and move on. Have you ever tried to kick your own hiney? It's not easy and if nothing else, trying it will make you laugh. Until the next day when I need another one. I'm starting to like the ass-kicking. That can't be a good sign.

Anyway, I'm on the upside of the attitude adjustment right now and I feel positive - for now.

I wonder if any other home schoolers out there feel this way. How do you get past this? Will it get better or am I ruining us both? I'm sure it gets better,...right?


Sunday, March 2, 2008

I fought the law and WON!

(warning: lengthy post)

At the risk of getting audited yearly for this post, I felt it necessary to share this story and give hope to the millions of you out there who wait and wait and wait to file those taxes. (or at least the three who read this)

In 1996, BN and I were audited.

It all started when in 1998 we received a phone call from a collection's agency. We were very surprised to find a dollar amount in collections. After several phone calls and many transfers, I spoke with a grouchy old thing who informed us that we were audited by the IRS for our 1992 part-year tax return, on which I made a mistake, and owed the IRS $98. I was informed that the IRS was not able to contact us in 1996 and that we were sent to collections and we now owed just over $398!

Luckily, I keep all tax records for the suggested seven years. I still had 1992 in our fireproof safe. I pulled it out and went painstakingly through the form again. Have you ever filed a part-year tax form? It's a bitch. I found my error and actually noticed a second error. I didn't claim the "renter's credit" that I should have. Had I done it correctly, the IRS would have owed us a little money. What to do, what to do?

I contacted some IRS helpline. Guess what? Not helpful. So I contacted the legal liaison we had available to us through our employee benefits. They got me in touch with somebody legal in California and this person, this lawyer, said I could try to appeal but I probably wouldn't get anywhere with it and would have to pay anyway. Problem is, I'm hard headed and head strong. Think of me like a bull and be damn sure to get out of my way when I am wronged.

What did I do? I used a skill my Mom taught me. My Mom has this thing she does where she looks, on all accounts, to be very sweet and accommodating, while unbeknownst to you, you are really being reduced to a pile of shit. Have you ever heard the phrase, "Well, Bless your heart." If so, you've just been shit on.

So, I wrote a very "courteous" letter, two pages in length, explaining to the IRS just how easy it was to actually locate BN and myself (this is the dog dooky part). You see, in the years 1990-2000, BN and I were on the radar, so to speak. We were in the Navy, him 6 years, me 4 years. While BN was finishing those last two years in the USN, I was working for the Department of Defense. I used veteran's benefits (GI Bill) to assist with college expenses. BN also used the veteran's GI Bill. Each year I filed income taxes, both state and federal, with the IRS updating our address. The Navy, the DOD, and the GI Bill are all tracked using a little number that the IRS knows quite well. It's called our Social Security Numbers or SSNs.

I spent two pages explaining this to the IRS and then I wrote a check for $398 and sent it "in good faith" to the IRS with all of our particulars to ensure that not only did I get a return check for $398 but also for the additional $42 they owed me (remaining renter's credit). I didn't ask for interest and collection fees from the IRS on that $42. Nope, I just wanted my due amount. A check for $440 and a letter rescinding the collection and debt on our credit reports.

Just two short weeks after I sent this letter and "good faith" check, we received a check from the IRS for $440 and a letter explaining that we were in good standing with the IRS.

Don't let the IRS become a three letter word. Don't give them that power.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Day One.

When BN goes out of town, no matter how long the stay, the first day is always hard for me. The boys are wound a little tighter, the house suddenly has a void and I can't stand to be in my home the first day he is gone. I can live there on day 2, day 3, etc, but Day One is no good. I have to leave.

My Mom is the lucky one who gets to entertain us on Day One. I dropped BN off at the airport, tidied up the house, packed a small bag, loaded the kids and hit the road. My Mom is the perfect diversion for me. I love the way she smells. I love the food she cooks. I love the chaos that is her home. No matter where I've lived or how long I've been gone, her home is always the same. It grounds me.

My Mom has two mutts. Buddy and Ellie Mae. They've replaced me and my sister and helped my Mom get over the empty nest thing. Like all little brothers and sisters, they drive me nuts. My Mom does things for those dogs that I just have to shake my head at.

For instance, when she leaves for work, she leaves the t.v. on for Ellie. Apparently, Ellie Mae likes Dora the Explorer and Diego. Okaaay.

She's also the smart one. When Buddy is on Mom's lap, she'll run to the front door and start to bark, which makes Buddy think someone is coming so he gets up and runs to the front door. Ellie slinks away and runs back to Mom and climbs in her lap. She also hides Buddie's toys, especially the ones that squeak.
And neither dog will go through the door when it is open. Nope. They wait for it to close and then they use their doggie doors. So as the big sister, I like to hold the doors open longer than necessary just to see them sit and wait.

Thanks to Mom and the mutts for getting me through Day One and most of day two. Now I can't go to sleep because BN always checks the doors and even though I looked at all the locks and verified they are indeed locked, I can't go to sleep. Sheesh.