Friday, October 31, 2008

The Old Switcheroo

Hopefully all of you had a wonderful week. Ours was fast and furious, which is why I haven't been posting too much lately. It sometimes seems like just taking the time to sit and focus and organize my thoughts enough to get them down would take too much time out of my day. Or I could possibly just be a little too lazy to do it. Either way, I should probably stop acting like it's a strange phenomenon and just admit that I only update my blog once a week or so. Apparently, that's just how it's going to be, LOL.

Anywho . . . in homeschool news . . . during the past couple of weeks, we have made a few curriculum changes. I always use the first 6 to 8 week period sort of like an introductory or auditioning type period. This is the time period when we decide what is working and what is not and allow both Baby Boy and myself to give our honest-to-goodness feelings about what we are using and how we are using it so that we can make decisions that will need to stick for the rest of the school year. We have lots of hit, and a couple of misses. An itemized list below:

  • The first change is that I simply cannot do Sonlight anymore. Not. one. more. day. I know. Shocking! If you follow any of the homeschool forums and yahoo loops that I am in, then you know that I researched the heck out of that curriculum choice and was simply over the moon wanting to introduce it into our program here. It just hasn't worked for us. First of all, I must say, it's an excellent program, meticulously planned, and through beyond all reason, but not for this family. Let me explain why, in case our misstep may be able to prevent any heartache or mismatched purchases for anyone else out there.
  • It takes forever. I imagine if you can read super fast, this would not be the case; however, if you are a slower and more deliberate reader, the chapters and chapters assigned can take all day long. Baby Boy falls into the latter category and I'm not an advocate for home schooling taking all day long, especially since we also have a full math and science program we are trying to get done as well. For those of you unfamiliar, Sonlight includes literature as well as history.
  • It sucked every single drop of joy out of reading for us. I LOVE to read. I could read all day long and all night strong, but Baby Boy is a "take it or leave it" kind of reader. It has to be incredibly interesting and be about very specific subjects to hold his attention. He is, however, dedicated to getting an excellent education and will plug along even if he isn't particularly enjoying the selection, usually without complaint. I just got tired of watching him be miserable. It's not necessary to be tortured to learn. I could just send him to public school for that. (I'm not talking about your class, if you're reading this, Jason. I'm positive you're one of the great public school teachers) We found ourselves just checking our reading off of our list of things to do instead of reading because we were enjoying the story. Not a good thing.
  • I didn't anticipate this beforehand, but it turns our that neither Baby Boy nor I like reading a few chapters out of 3 or 4 books a day. We would rather read one book all the way through and then start up on another book. We are apparently too simple-minded for this form of learning. During our discussions regarding the literature selections, we found ourselves confusing the stories' characters, locations, and themes. We had to make a cheat sheet to keep them all straight. This led to much frustration and confusion.
  • It doesn't contain nearly enough literature analysis for my taste. It is full of the regulation R&R (read and regurgitate) questions. Usually at the very beginning and very end of a reading selection, it will ask you if the book contained round or flat characters and inquire about the theme and conflict. This is not enough, in my opinion. I'm an actively involved homeschool parent. I already know my son is doing the work. I don't need to ask him a bunch of "what did so and so say" or "what did so and so do when such and such happened" type questions. I felt the majority of the questions are really surface level and a waste of time. I'm looking for more critical thinking questions. Luckily I'm familiar with the WTM method of literature analysis even though we aren't classical homeschoolers. Also, sometimes the answers didn't match up exactly to what the question was asking. Baby Boy and I found this frustrating.
  • Although I did already know I was dealing with a religious curriculum, and was prepared to secularize it, I found it a little over the top. It seems geared to an extremely narrow and specific religious group rather than to all Christians as a whole. I don't knock them for that, it is what it is. It just seemed like I found myself cutting out more than I was leaving in. What's the point of keeping something that you just aren't really getting good use of?
  • I do want to say that the curriculum is not a total disaster. It has some very interesting reading selections. Lots of things I would not have thought of on my own. I did and still do benefit daily from the book list and reading schedule, especially for the History of US books, which Baby Boy and I are continuing to use in our American History program. It was not the right fit for our family, but please, don't let my negative experience deter you from trying it if that's what may work for you.
  • In case you are wondering what I have replaced my Sonlight with, we are using various literature books that I'm pulling from various literature lists easily available online. We are focusing on American Literature this year, as we are studying American History as well. I have also acquired a copy of the LLATL Gold Book. It has a "just the facts" approach to literature analysis that I like and we are using a little bit of this to add to my homemade literature curriculum. Strange but true, LOL. Nothing comes into this house and gets used "as-is." It simply does not happen.

  • As I'm sure you have already guessed. I had to give up Chemistry. I'm most disappointed in this decision and did not come by it lightly. It was after much prayer and contemplation that I simply decided that I am not adequate enough in this subject to provide Baby Boy with the instruction he needs. Somehow, back in the old days, they would let you get a high school diploma and even a college degree without stepping foot into a chemistry lab. Now . . . not so much. Baby Boy simply needs more adequate leadership in this area, and I don't want to handicap him in this subject. He's too good of a student, person, and learner to be short changed. We have decided to out-source this class to the local community college. We're too late this year, but he will be taking it next year. I can't talk about community college too much, because it brings on tears, cold chills, and dry heaves. I believe this may be the last year that I get to teach Baby Boy anything at home. Next year, I think he's planning on taking all classes at the community college. Can you say NNNOOOOOOOO!!!! That's what I want to say. They grow up so fast. Let me try to stay on topic. It's hard. This is the first time, ever, in all the years we've been homeschooling that I have felt that there has been something I cannot teach. It's disappointing, to say the least, but I also do think that every person needs to be fully aware of when they have reached their limits. It doesn't do me or Baby Boy any good for me to be prideful and keep this going. He is the one who would suffer later in life, not me. So that's that.

  • On a much happier note, we love the sciences in this house and have replaced chemistry with human anatomy. Baby Boy is excellent at all of that biology vocabulary and loves to dissect things and he knows all about everything, so this is basically just a fun course for him. He's breezed through the first few modules of the book and saves this subject for last every day so he can linger over it and possibly do a little extra in it. WHAT?! Who's kid is that, you say? It's mine! When we received the box with the dissection specimens in it (YUCK!) I refused to look and just the thought made me want to . . . uhmm . . . regurgitate, but Baby Boy and Mom #2 were both so excited they could barely sleep. Needless to say. Dissections happen outside as in NOT IN MY HOUSE and Mom #2 will be supervising them. I'm just not into dissecting.

  • Everything else is going well. I'm not going to give a detailed overview of each subject, because this post has already gotten very long winded. I'm sorry. I really just needed to come to grips with my thought process and this is the only way I can just get it out in the open. I'll probably be re-reading this post myself in a couple of days . . .just to make sure I don't need to check into the psych ward, LOL. If you've read this far, thanks.

Oh, and just in case you thought it was all business and no fun. I would like to let you know that something extremely miraculous happened in our home this week!

The Baby sat up all by herself! Well I don't know if you can really call it sitting up, because she's sort of resting on her big baby belly, but, as far as I'm concerned, it's a developmental milestone and it DOES COUNT.


If I don't get anything else posted between now and then, don't forget to set your clocks back Saturday night before going to bed (THANK GOODNESS!) and if you haven't already, don't forget to vote on November 4th. It's a monumental election this year, and no matter who you chose to vote for, please let your voice be heard.


Until next time . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sibling Differences

Mom #2 and I voted last week.

I heart early voting. I despise waiting in lines. Early voting equals shorter lines. Well in my case there was a fairly short line, but I got behind a poor young girl who was registered in another county and didn't have any ID and it took forever to get her situation straightened out. Silly girl. But I do give her props for showing up, that's more than a lot of people her age do. She's on the right track.

But I digress, naturally.

I talked to my sister and reminded her of her voting responsibilities because she tends to be a little absent minded. Do you know what she said to me? Of course, I'm going to tell you. She said that she didn't want to early vote. She wants to wait until election day so that she and her daughter, my niece, can take off of work and school and stand in the long line and visit with strangers and get the "full feeling" of the election process at work.


She wants to stand in a long line and talk to strangers. Let me tell you a little something about myself. I may be fairly open and candid in this forum, but in real life, I do not speak to strangers. I do wave to strangers, because that's the Southern Belle in me and I just can't resist even when I try to physically stop myself, but I am not fond of speaking to strangers. I'm not too fond of Mom #2 speaking to strangers either, but that's a totally different post. ;-)

Anyway back to my point. My sister and I are SO INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT. I am the opposite of everything that she is and, I assure you, she is the opposite of everything that I am. It's amazing that we are both 100% genetically related and actually grew up in the same household with the same parents under the same circumstances.

I can't imagine why anyone would want to stand in line, to get the feel of - - what was it - - - the election process. I plan to be at home watching the election process on television. Meanwhile she is using that complete and total aggravation as a teaching moment for her daughter.

Now Mom #2 and I did let Baby Boy come into the voting booth with us, and he also came into the booth with me when I (early) voted in the primary, we stayed up until about 3 in the morning participating in the caucus, and we even stood shoulder to shoulder with 30,000 other people at two separate Obama rallies, but standing in line OUTSIDE for hours and hours to vote, that's where I have to draw the line.

*SIGH* Sometimes I think my sister should be the one homeschooling, she was born with infinite patience, creativity, and natural optimism. Of course she is a single working Mom with a doosey of an ex, so I guess she really needs those traits. I don't envy her situation, but her handling of it is divine, bordering on sheer sainthood.

Meanwhile, Baby Boy and I use methods that are expedient, pain-free, and with a minimum of muss and fuss.

Sometimes I think of myself as the evil sister. But really am I? Perhaps just the pragmatic sister . . . touché.

Well, we certainly are different. Do any of you have siblings? Are you more alike or different? Please don't say it's just us . . . it couldn't be.

Until next time . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tagged Times Two!

Recently I was tagged by both Hula Hank and Katy for this cute little meme. I've been a little too lazy busy to get it done, but I suppose better late than never, right?

Naturally, this tag has a few rules, so on with the formalities:

  • Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog. Check!
  • Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird. Check!

So without further ado . . . here's my Super Seven.

  1. I'm a total military brat. BOTH of my parents were in the Air Force. My dad did more than 20 years.
2. I went to extremely conservative private Christian schools growing up, but after getting kicked out of several of them, I was home schooled. I guess even back then I was a tiny bit of a rebel. My poor parents. ;-)

3. Even though it's been years, I bet I can still play a pretty mean jazz flute. I was in a jazz band, many years ago.

4. I am not a crier. In any movie or news show if they show people being tortured, hurt, or torn from loved ones, it doesn't bother me at all. BUT if they show an animal (especially a doggy) getting mistreated in any way, I cry like a baby. I don't know what's wrong with me, Mom #2 thinks I must have been canine in one of my past lives.

5. I record The Young and the Restless every day and Mom #2 and I watch all 5 of them on Sundays. I don't do suspense very well. I. need. to. know. NOW!

6. I was a social worker with my state's welfare department for about 10 years. Even though I haven't worked there for years, since I've been homeschooling, I still read and keep up with all the policy and changes (they must keep the online handbook up to date, per federal law). I can quote the Health and Human Services Commission Handbook (and it's BIG) like I wrote it myself, in fact, better than 90% of the people working there now (but don't get me started). I don't know why I do this, I'm almost positive, I'll never work there again, but you never know.

And last, but not least . . . 7. I wear my hair different almost every day. This is not something I always do on purpose, I just have the kind of hair that has a mind of its own.

So there you go! You've definitely got the run-down on me now. I'm supposed to tag 7 people who also have to do the 7 things about themselves, but since I just awarded 8 people a couple of days ago, I think I'm going to break the rules on that part of the meme. But I did participate, so I hope that counts for something. Remember, I'm a rebel, LOL. ;-)

If you have 1 or 2 or 7 or 10 things you'd like to share about yourself, feel free. Consider yourself tagged!

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ahem . . . Spotlight Over Here, Please

My good blogging buddy, Kitten, thought I deserved this fabulous award. I love getting awards, they make me feel soooooo extrie special.

“This blog invests and believes, in ‘proximity’ [meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' - being close through proxy] "They are all charming blogs, and the majority of them aim to show the marvels of friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate?" Then let’s try to give more attention to them!

So with this prize we must deliver it to eight bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.”

So I'm supposed to pass on this beautiful award to eight other blogs that I would like to bring love and attention to . . . hmm . . . . let's see. . . how about Floridamom, Ami, Fourmother, Paula a.k.a. ElegantLion, Rebel, :) De, RegularMom, and last, but definitely not least . . . Kel.

So stop by and give all these ladies a little love!

Until next time . . .

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Case of the Mondays . . .

We had a long week last week (hence, no blog posts), a long weekend (more hence, no blog posts), and are feeling a little worn out this morning.

So when I came out of the shower this morning and found this in my bed . . .

. . . I thought it was a great idea.

So we'll be doing school from my bed today, in case you're looking for us.

Don't you love home schooling?

Until next time . . .

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why I Am TOTALLY Thankful For My Son

After a long morning of our once-a-month grocery shopping, where Baby Boy had to get all the heavy stuff and all the stuff that was up past the 3nd shelf and load it all on the conveyor belt at the cash register while I watched the lady to make sure she didn't over charge me or pack my bags incorrectly and load the stuff back into the basket while I made sure she gave me the appropriate credit for each and every one of my coupons and loaded it into the car for me . . .

. . . I ran upstairs to pee right quick (I had been holding it because I simply cannot use public toilets) and let Baby Doggy out of his kennel and by the time I got done, all of the groceries were upstairs, the car was locked up and Baby Boy was already starting to sort out what needed to be refrigerated, frozen, and pantry stored.

Did I mention we live in a 2nd floor apartment? Oh, how I love teenage boys' ready muscles and endless energy.


NOW I know why two middle aged, overweight, moms were blessed with a rambunctious Baby Boy instead of the prissy little girl I thought I always wanted.

He made me very happy today. I just HAD to share. Don't you just love it when all of that good hard work and upbringing finally pays off and you get to be the beneficiary?

Until next time . . .

Friday, October 10, 2008

Whew! Another Week Down.

I hope everyone's week has been productive and stress free.

In homeschool news:

  • We just finished up our literature book, Stink Alley, which was a humorous look at the life of a little separatist girl who is a religious refugee from England living in Holland in the early 1600's. She is a little on the mischievous side, but does have a good heart and struggles with the strict religious rules that her the man responsible for her has put on her. It's lighthearted considering the subject matter and interesting enough to hold a teenage boy's attention. 'Nough said, LOL.
  • We've completed another chapter in Algebra 2, and although Baby Boy didn't do quite as well on the quiz as he did on chapter one, I still think he's doing strong work in this subject. We are still doing a majority of review, but at the same time, kicking it up a notch and adding more complex equations into the mix. Baby Boy seems to be handling it with grace and it may be the best subject of the year, but I didn't really say that, because I don't want to jinx him. ;-)
  • We've finished up book 1 and have moved into book 2 of our History of US series. We still enjoy reading these books and because the chapters are short and sweet, it leaves plenty of time for spirited discussion between Baby Boy and me. Who knew American History could be so interesting? It certainly beats the boring dry textbooks I had growing up. We are also finishing up our additional history reader, Black Indians. It has some additional fascinating details that are often left out of traditional history texts, even the History of US, which I admit is a little more inclusive than most.
  • Baby Boy is really getting into his driver's education course. I'm the one who needs to get back to the basics on this one. I guess when you do something almost every single day, over a period of years (we won't discuss how many), you forget the details of exactly how it's done, you just do it form force of habit. Well I'm getting back to the nitty gritty of driving now-a-days. We have discussed precisely when you turn on your headlights, exactly how far to park from the curb, and exactly how far behind the vehicle in front of you is considered a safe distance. Mom #2 needs to sit in on the tailgating portion of class, but you didn't hear that from me, LOL.
  • Last but not least, we are plugging along in Chemistry. Oh, Lordy, this stuff is tough. Baby Boy and I had to take a day off from it to let some of the information soak in before hitting that book again. As a matter of fact, this weekend I have scheduled myself an appointment with Mom #2 to sit down and read this together so that between the two of us, we can try to learn as much as Baby Boy already seems to know. He asked me for some help earlier today and I looked at him like a deer in headlights . . . can you say "no comprendo," LOL. Seriously, I'm in over my head. I may have to get some money together to outsource this class. I may not be that smart, but I have enough sense to know when I'm in over my head. I've reached out to a couple of other homeschooling moms via the internet, and they have been of great assistance and have assured me that it gets better. Let's hope, for all of our sake, this is true.

Of course it wasn't all work and no play. We don't let a week go by where we don't include hands-on activities to go with our studies. Of course Chemistry is usually the source of our inspiration.

This week, in preparation for many more labs to come, we calibrated our thermometer.

We started out in good spirits. . .

. . . then we had to take a fussy baby break . . .

. . . and then another fussy baby break (dig that funky eye wear, LOL) . . .

. . . and finally got back down to business.

Send good thoughts for the dear grandbaby, she has nasty allergies already, and she does. not. like. it.

I hope you all had a great week and a relaxing weekend!

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gettin' Down Town With Mr. Brown!

Baby Boy earned his brown belt in tae kwon do this weekend!

First he did some punching.
I've trained him to look at me whenever he hears a camera click ;-),
I hope I don't get him killed, LOL . . .

. . . then he wrestled a 250 pound guy to the ground . . .
(That's Mom #2 in the background with the video camera - GO COWBOYS!)

. . . then I got to present him with his belt (since I pay the HEFTY monthly bill) . . .

. . . then he had to stand and listen to a 30 minute lecture on, well I'm not sure on what, because I may have dosed off, LOL . . .

. . . and finally, we all got to celebrate! Our final picture on our way out the door to go get a delicious steak lunch for all of Baby Boy's hard work.

The man in the black uniform is Baby Boy's instructor, he's an awesomely patient man, and simply a saint at heart. I hope there's extra fairy dust in heaven for him. The other people are my little sister and my parents, who are playing nice for this family event, which I really appreciate.

Congratulations, Baby Boy!

I hope you all had a great weekend as well.

Until next time . . .

Thursday, October 2, 2008

. . . brought to you today by the number 2 . . .

Today we went to homeschool bowling and for some reason absolutely no one in Baby Boy's age group showed up. No one at all. That has never happened in all the years we've been going. Of course out of about 30 children, only about 5 are teenage boys. They usually talk and laugh and enjoy getting to have a lane all to themselves.

Today . . . This was the official Teen Boy's Team.

I'll just let everyone know right now that all of my previous bowling experience consists of playing Wii bowling.

Uhmmm . . . suffice it to say that bowling for real is very different, LOL, and my score was living proof. No other comment necessary.

And as if that wasn't enough, we went on to tae kwon do and this was the entire class.

I mean, do we have cooties, or what? I guess it's just one of those days.

Anyway, I thought it was funny and I thought I'd share. Carry on with your lives, LOL.

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Poetry, Anyone?

I've been reading a lot of poetry lately.

I love poems.

I especially enjoy short poems. It's like biting into a blow pop right away instead of sucking on it all day long; you get all the flavor, without spending all of that extra time waiting for the good part.

I'd taken an extended leave from poems for no apparent reason other than being too lazy to read them, but lately I've been back on my poetry reading kick. I marvel at the fact that every single word in a poem has a precise meaning and is chosen specifically for an intended purpose. There is no room for "fluff" verbiage in poetry. Too bad more things in life aren't like that.

Coincidentally, Kitten, Katherine, and Holly have posted poems on their blogs this week. Well, Kitten posted quotes, not poems and Katherine posted a link to a poem by one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, but Holly definitely did post an original poem that her son wrote.

Anywho . . . I digress . . . something in the blogosphere lately has put poetry reading back on my mind. How's that for tying up a loose end? ;-)

While I dabble a little in original work, I'm ferociously sensitive when it comes to criticism, so I'll spare all of us that drama; however, I do want to share one of my very favorite poems. When I was a young girl, I was required to memorize this poem. Being the super-nerd that I was, I had it memorized lickity-split by the next day, much to my classmates' horror, but I didn't really understand it until much later. Whenever I'm going through a difficult time, or feeling like no one is really understanding who I am or what I'm about, I find myself reflecting on this poem.

Since that is where I find myself today. I thought instead of going on and on and on about the drama . . . I'd just leave you with something beautiful to read until I can pull myself together.

The only thing I don't understand is why he had to make the last line gender specific, but I'll forgive him that, it was a long time ago. So without further ado . . . I give you . . . If, by Rudyard Kipling.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Until next time . . .

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