Thursday, December 29, 2005


It's been most of a month since I've written. The combination of Christmas, travelling and some nasty colds devastated my routine of writing regularly on my blog. I miss it. Something about writing seems bigger than my actual life. So, here I am, dedicated to reviving my habit.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Justifiable Homicide?

To my faithful readers, I am sorry I've been gone so long. First, I was sick and upon recovery, discovered to my horror it was the Christmas season. Yes, I am one of those bah-humbug type people. I am trying very hard this year to be positive, and to enjoy the season, to give the kids good memories instead of a grumpy mom, who, already overwhelmed, now has to SHOP on top it.

So, armed with a new attitude, I went to the local, small toy store. It is an upscale shop, carrying more educational and high quality toys such as wooden train sets and cute puppets and the like. I was proud of myself for having made two selections, my first purchases of the year, and made my way to the counter. Timewise, I was doing okay, but needed to get back to pick up dd#1 from her piano lesson. In front of me, another customer chatted with the store clerk, clearly not in any hurry. She had found everything she needed except the adorable little porcupine puppet (who'd want a porcupine puppet??) that she'd bought here before.

"Oh, wait," said the clerk. "There may be one in the back." She disappeared before I could say a word, and I stood holding my items and looking at my watch.

The customer then turned to me and said in a syrupy voice, "Oh, I do hope she has it, because then I'll be all done with my Christmas shopping." I fantasized about yanking her hair, wondering if it would be considered assault. I gave her an insincere smile and said nothing. I not only wasn't finished with my shopping, I had barely begun.

The clerk returned with the blasted puppet, and started ringing up the purchases, all small items. They were small, the woman explained, because her entire family was going on a Carribean cruise for Christmas and they couldn't take large gifts. I contemplated murder, but wasn't sure I could prove justifiable homicide. Would the judge understand that I'd been pushed to the edge?

After she left, the clerk rang up my order, and through my gritted teeth, I had to tell her that she'd added it up wrongly, and I instead owed her $7 more than she thought. I barely made it back in time to pick up dd#1 but at least I escaped jail time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Winter Sky

I've been sick these past few days with a bad cold. I haven't felt much like writing, particularly since I like to write with a sense of humor. Nothing much has seemed funny these past few days. I think I'm pulling out of it though. Just feel like a horse is sitting on my chest.

The above photo was taken by Lauren in our back pasture before a storm that flooded our yard and barn. Winter is truly coming. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Black Friday

Yesterday was Black Friday, and I did something I've NEVER done and swore never to do - I went shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. There was one item at the local Wollymart that I wanted and a few groceries to get us through the weekend. Of course, the item was sold out, having gone to those willing to stand in the dark at the starting line and knock people over in the race for the treasured item.

Most of the store was empty. Nearly every single shopper was in the electronics department. It was crawling like an anthill. The Christmas cheer was nowhere to be seen, as of course, it was still Thanksgiving. People clogged the aisles with their carts, and glared if you dared an "excuse me" to try to get around them. After giving up the battle, I went to the grocery section and easily glided through. Everyone was full from Thanksgiving, and needed no food.

Leaving the store, I saw a car pull out in front of another car, resulting in a loud honking and rude gesture. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good shopping.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Caught Eavesdropping

Last night, I caught myself eavesdropping. It was perfectly innocent, and understandable. I sat at a restaurant table with my brother, who thinks a loud belch passes as dinner conversation, and my 3 year old. His conversation was following the lines of "this is the salt, this is the pepper, this is the cheese, these are the red things you put on your pizza...." So, I found myself a little mentally bored while waiting for the food to arrive.

Across from us, two couples sat, the women talking right across their men as if they weren't there. "Yes, she put her engagement on hold," I heard the one say. Interesting, I thought. That speaker looked younger than the other. Maybe the engaged was a friend of hers, and she was telling her mom about it. "Why?" asked the mom. "Well, she went to a party at her fiance's house....[unintelligible conversation].....she wasn't invited.....[more unintelligible conversation]....therapist thinks she shouldn't marry him."

Wow, I thought, that is quite a story. I wonder why the woman is in therapy.....Wait, the young woman said, "Oh, you didn't see it yet? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to spoil it for you." They were talking about Desperate Housewives! It wasn't even a real story. I guess that's what I get for eavesdropping.

Monday, November 21, 2005


This is one of my favorite photos from our vacation this year. Wm. never even paused to think whether or not he could lift this chain on a battleship. Optimism .

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Appliance Woes

I really wasn't going to blog today, it being Sunday and all. My day off, yeah? But I just have to blog this. I have to release this outta my brain. I was reading Fish In My Hair, whose oven door fell off, and the days events came back to me.

I would be happy for my oven door to fall off. You can put that back on. Today, while painting the water damage spots on the ceiling, I kneeled accidentally on the stove top. The GLASS stove top that wasn't anchored properly in the corner where I knelt. Don't try this at home. The glass shattered. It broke the burner underneath.

Now, for those of you that are justifiably asking whatever was I doing on top of the stove, it is a "drop in" meaning it is part of the countertop. I stepped off my ladder, onto the counter to get the one spot on the other side of the counter. I have amnesia when it comes to the actual accident and cannot remember why I knelt down, missing the counter top and nailing the exact spot on the stove that would cause appliance failure.

Together with the oven sensor which repeatedly gives me an "F2" (which we all know what that means) and the rocker switch that is broken, the estimated repairs are about $488, parts only.
Except that the glass is on backorder, maybe not even available.

But I have my entire extended family on my side coming for Thanksgiving dinner! So, I'd be willing to buy a new oven. Hey, mine is at minimum ten years old, probably more like fifteen (it came with the house). The only problem is that the type of stove "drop-in" is available special order only. I would go shamelesly begging at appliance stores tomorrow, maybe buy a floor model. I drive a pickup - I'll cash and literally carry. Hey, I'll install myself - except....

This week my dear brother is visiting, who despite the odd looks he gets for his disabilites, has never met a stranger and stops them to get right up in their face and say "HI". He would not be an asset in appliance shopping and begging. On the other hand, if I could get my three year old screaming and get my brother to give the clerk a big wet kiss with his overgrown mustache, maybe they'd do anything to get me out of there. Lord, help me!

Food Disasters

In Keeping with my Sunday reruns of good, old posts, here is one about
Food Disasters
Tuesday, December 28, 2004

My husband says we are destined to become his parents. Perhaps he is right. Just the other day, without thinking I responded to his query about the banana bread I'd just baked with "That's not for you!" Baked for our upcoming Christmas celebrations, it was being circled like fresh kill by turkey vultures. I relented and let them eat it, thinking of my father-in-law, who claims to never get to eat the great food my mother-in-law makes because it is for the church or some other function.

Food elicits good memories for most of us, but also vivid memories when the result is not so good. Most of us have a turkey story. I remember seeing my husband and mother-in-law trying to turn a 30 pound turkey and seeing it roll across the floor. In my own family, we remember the time I heard my mother scream from the kitchen. Our standard poodle had stolen the whole raw turkey from the counter, tearing a wing from it. Mom later served the cooked turkey, remarking how sad it was that the poor turkey was born with only one wing.

Then, there was the time that my visiting sister just wanted a nice cup of coffee, first thing in the morning. Absentmindedly, I had used my usual sugar container to store my canning salt. Poor Teresa uses a lot of sugar in her coffee. Next thing I knew, she was spewing coffee in the sink. "Are you trying to poison me?" she choked. After I realized what had happened and got up from the floor after collapsing with laughter, I explained.

My family will remember the time that I took extra pains to make two beautiful custard pies to give to friends as a thank you gift for rides to work. My mother came running to my screams when we discovered that my mentally handicapped brother had eaten the entire filling of one pie, and was working on the second, scooping the filling out with his fingers. Arggggg...!

There are probably many more - like did you know that you can't use bread flour to make a cake, or that black walnuts don't taste at all like regular walnuts - but I'll save for another time. Perhaps you have some food disasters?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

National Toy Hall of Fame

Perhaps, like me, you are a bit surprised to even hear there is such a thing as the National Toy Hall of Fame. But, perhaps not. It seems these days there are all kinds of Halls of Fame. Anyway, I like to listen to National Public Radio (NPR) while cooking. On All Things Considered, they announced that the giant cardboard box was just inducted. I suppose it should go into the hall of fame as in a thing of the past because when we recently received our new refrigerator, it came nude! Boxless! The kids were disappointed.

I remember many a day when we spent cutting holes for doors and windows, marking up the sides, seeing if we could tip over in it, and generally having a good time. My girls also did this 10 years back. Now, it seems that the box must cost extra, for no box came with my frig.

The other two toys were Candyland and the Jack-in-the-Box. Now, I'll vote for the J-in-the-Box as Wm recently discovered this at Cracker Barrel, and just loves it. Perhaps a good Christmas present. But Candyland? I can't tell you how we moaned anytime our kids wanted to play that game. Okay, okay, it's educational. Teaches colors, numbers and all that. AND is extremely boring. Just when you think you are almost done, you get that card for tinky-winkly lollipop-land that sends you almost back to the beginning. I'd be willing to lose, but EVERYONE gets sent back, and it drags on for hours. Chutes and Ladders is another such game.

My vote would be for the giant box, definitely. The best things in life were free.


I thought today would be a good time to catch up on some updates from past posts:

Horse Woes
The horse, Nova, that Lauren had purchase was returned in October to the woman from whom we bought him. After much expense, we concluded that it would be a very long time before he was right again, and that at Lauren's age, we couldn't afford the time or money to rehabilitate him. On his return, the lady told me that she'd spoken to the breeder who disclosed that the poor thing had gotten caught in a tractor tire (used unwisely to hold a round bale) as a yearling. There was swelling in the area, but since it went down, they thought it wasn't permanent damage. Evidently, they were wrong.

Kicked in the Face by a Mule on Thursday, November 03, 2005: It was just a bump on my nose, nicely healed and flat now. No skin cancer, thank goodness. I seriously doubt the sanity of those that undergo plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 Teaching Compassion and Responsibility :
Lauren quit her job, both because of a need for more time to study but also, and largely, due to a difference in philosophy of treatment of animals with her employer. I called to offer a home to the animal that we felt needed medical attention, but was refused. We offered to come help in the treatment, but heard nothing. I offered some advice given to me by a woman who had an animal with a similar infection and was told it would be done. At that point, we've done all we could I think. The animal was not in immediate danger, and we saw that it was being treated better as we drove by. It was difficult to call and discuss it, but I think it was an important life lesson.

Tools of the Trade:
I bought a new refrigerator! This is the first new one since I was married! It is a bottom mount. The first day, I saw the advantage in this. Wm. stood before it and yelled, "Mom, I'm hungry and I can't reach the food!" He can, however, reach the ice, and can now get himself a cup with ice and water from the bathroom sink. How nice!

Today, I picked up my brother, George, for a vacation at our house for a week. George was born with hydrocephalus and has multiple disabilities. He is as he put it "so excited" to be here.
He is musically stuck in his childhood, and likes to play the same songs over and over. Cher's "Half Breed", Billy Don't be A Hero, the Carpenters, to name a few, are already carving fresh grooves in my brain. Tomorrow, a trip to buy him nice headphones will be in order. Interestingly, he and my son are playing well together, as George is probably mentally about Wm's age in a lot of ways. Interesting to explain to Wm that George is a man's size but really is more like Wm. It should be an interesting week, no?

Friday, November 18, 2005

'Tis the Season..

For giving! And I'm not talking charitable donations. I'm talking about the hackers and sneezers and coughers that are everywhere! Last Sunday at Church, there were people there that should have been in a hospital, or at the very least at home. I don't suppose it would be very cool to pull out my anti-bacterial wipes after the "Sign of the Peace" handshake, but gee, would a nod do? Gloves, maybe?

I wonder that people feel compelled to take their children out even though they are sick. Not too long ago, I ran into an aquaintance at the Super W in the grocery section. We greeted each other cheerily, and then I asked if school was out, as her boy who attended public school was with her. No, she sidled up to me and my toddler and whispered, "don't get too close to him. He has strep and we came in to get his medicine and I thought I'd pick up a few things while we were here". I looked over at the boy who had his hands all over the grocery cart. A free gift for the next shopper. Lovely.

On the Phone

Now, I am not a big phone talker and never have been. But being a woman requires the ability to talk or at least listen on the phone, and to do it well. It's like a job requirement. Anyway, I just love it when you are in a conversation and the person on the other end gives you the boot. You know what I mean. They try to gently get you off the line by saying "I'm going to let you go now" or "I won't keep you any longer".

You and I both know that this person is really saying "I'm done with this conversation and I want to hang up on you now". Okay, so that wouldn't be so polite, but do they really think you don't know what they mean?

Dh at work has unfortuately been the brunt of my aggravation when I hear typing in the background. This is a cue, my dear sisters, that someone isn't listening.

And what's up with all the wrong numbers lately and the rudeness? Evidently, there are many phone numbers close to mine, because I get at least two wrong numbers a day, all looking for different places. Invariably, one of these calls start by someone asking "Who is this?" Duh, you called me?? What ever happened to good, old phone manners?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Education: Opposing Viewpoints

In the book Education: Opposing Viewpoints, there are a series of essays giving opposing views on education. Skimming through it, I noticed two on homeschooling, so took it home from the library to read. Here are two things I wanted to share with you from the book that I found interesting:

In the chapter "Standardized Testing and Assement Do Not Improve Education", a cartoon by David Horsey was synidicated to read "If Mozart and Michelangelo were students in today's American schools". In this link, it reads "Washington's schools" as it was originally featured in a Seattle paper.

The other was the following paragraph, entitled Developing Thoughtful Citizens:

School leaders should recognize that the goals of multicultural education are highly consistent with those of the nation's schools: to develop thoughtful citizens who can function effectively in the world of work and in the civic community. Ways must be found for schools to recognize and respect the cultures and languages of students from diverse groups while at the same time working to develop an overarching national culture to which all groups will have allegiance.
-James A. Banks, School Administrator, May 1999.

Interesting, isn't it? Not one word about learning, enjoying learning, discovering passions and the world. Nothing about becoming good parents, able to make good families. It is about making good workers and voters of our children.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Best of Everything - Letter Received

In The Best of Everything, I asked if you had something that you considered the "best". Here is a letter I received by email that reminds us that our children are the best and that sometimes, the best things are those we might take for granted:

Dear Junosmom,

In my early years, my family was poor. I worked from the time I was 14. There are some things I truly appreciate and would miss. Let's begin with a little thing. I love having a coffee grinder and buying coffee beans (water processed decaf) to grind each morning for two or three cups of coffee. I love having a top loading Maytag Neptune clothes washer. I know I would miss having the ordinary clothes dryer which sits next to it. I like being able to wash and dry anytime I like and almost anything fabric.

Many people take having an air conditioner and furnace for granted. I have to say, I know what it is like not to be cool when it is torrid outside and what it is like to freeze indoors when it is cold outside. I am grateful that we have always had both when needed during
our marriage.

I have also always had my own vehicle to drive. I can go where I want, when I want. Not everyone has that, which many take for granted. I have had a dishwasher most of my married life but I don't mind hand washing so much as I would mind going out to a laundromat. When I have had to do that, it hasn't been pleasant. I enjoy having a
refrigerator with filtered water dispenser and icemaker.

I am grateful for the warmth and comfort of our waterbed, which we have slept in since 1982. We have had a pool and spa at home since 1990. For me, the spa is something I would miss a great deal. It is heavenly to soak in its warm water under the stars. I rarely find the pool warm enough, but when I do go in, I must admit to loving the luxury.

For the most part, my working life ended in 1983 when our older son was diagnosed with leukemia and I needed to stop my part-time job to be at home. I did substitute teach a little when he was in primary school but only occasionally for a couple of years when his health was strong.

Brian was born in 1980. This time of year, in November, when he was 3, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He survived 5 years. Most people assume a cure after that time. That spring, he had a relapse and underwent chemotherapy a second time. He made it through the three years of therapy and then relapsed again. He was twelve years and four months old at the start of this relapse.

One of his sisters was a perfect match so he underwent treatment again, followed by a bone marrow transplant on President Clinton's inauguration day. He suffered an infection before the transplant took hold and died March 12, 1993.

He would have been 13 on July 4, 1993. Like his sisters, Brian was labeled gifted by the schools. He admired President Lincoln and wanted to be a judge. The world missed out and we miss him.
Brian is survived by his two healthy, loving and successful adult sisters and his autistic little brother, whom I homeschool. Nobody would want to trade places with my life. I am grateful for a loving husband whose salary allows me to be at home in relative luxury.

--From Southern California

Monday, November 14, 2005

You Are Surprised?


But the Ninth circuit ruled against the parents, saying in effect parents have no fundamental right “to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters for their children.” It also said parents have no right to dispute whatever the public schools choose to teach in sex education.

Are Your Kids Safe on the 'Net?

Okay, a serious post for a change. We all know that this world today isn't the world we grew up in. The pace is faster, the information is more available, the dangers are more present. I wasn't surprised when I watched MSNBC's Dateline report last night about online child predators. What did surprise me is that posing as young teens home alone, they were able to get 19 men in three days to show up at the house to prey on a young girl or boy. These were people that the "child" might have met in a chat room online. They were an assortment of people, professionals, a rabbi, a teacher of disabled children.

Most of the suggestions as to how to prevent this from happening to your child (the statistics are that 1 in 5 of children online will be solicited for sex) have to do with being alert and involved parents. Here are some of the suggestions from What you don’t know can hurt kids:

Teach your children to:
Think before they click:
With whom are they chatting or e-mailing, what are they saying and how are they saying it?
Will the person on the other end know they are joking?
Walk away from the computer and “Take 5” before responding to something that upsets them online
Avoid spreading rumors, assisting in cyberbullying or sharing private communications online.

Follow the golden rule of cyberspace:
Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life!
Follow responsible safety practices yourself:
Install spyware and adware blocking software on your computer
Make sure you have a working firewall
Install anti-virus software and update it regularly
Take advantage of spam-blocking tools offered by your Internet provider or e-mail software

And more importantly, talk to your kids. Tell them frankly about the dangers. Ask them with whom are you talking. Don't allow internet access in a private place, such as a bedroom. Be suspicious of any gifts or phone calls from people you don't know. Web cams have become a particular problem and should be allowed only in public parts of the house.

Blogs: I've noticed many children, particularly pre-teens and teens, are starting blogs. Blogs are a good thing, encouraging writing. Make sure, however, that your child does not publish any personal information, email address, or photos that could lead one of these sickos to your baby.

Net Nanny is a reasonably priced program that can block chat rooms and objectionable websites. It has the added feature of being able to limit the times of day that a child has access to the Internet, for example not after you yourself go to bed.

The Internet and computers are valuable resources, but the pace of the technology changes rapidly. We owe it to our children, if we are allowing it in our house, to keep up with ways to keep them safe.

To read more:
Catching potential Internet sex predators
Wired Safety
Blog Sites, Profile Sites, Diary Sites or Social-Networking Sites
Wired Kids

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Tools of the Trade

Originally written December 4, 2004
"Harry* thinks we need to buy a backhoe now," commented my husband's cousin at the wedding reception table. We were catching up with family news, having not seen each other since August. Harry and Shawna* had moved into their own "money pit" this past year, escaping suburbia for rural New Jersey. As is often the case, there were a few little surprises in store for them in their new residence, including the state of the septic system, hence, the backhoe. Having enjoyed his experience with the borrowed machinery, Harry felt they should own their very own backhoe, in the event of another ditch-digging emergency.

We laughed at the preposterous idea, while at the same time comiserating that there were costly machines and tools in our very houses that our men had purchased so that they could be prepared for just about anything. "Yet," Shawna said, "if I pull out both racks of my dishwasher at the same time, the whole kitchen tilts." Appliances used daily, more than the saw and special drill bits that gather dust in my garage, limp along in my life. My mother-in-law fares no better. While visiting recently, I could not get her dishwasher to start. "Oh, you have to lean against the door with your hip and jab the start button hard with the handle of a knife, " she instructed.

We have a special implement that attaches to our tractor (yes, tractor, not lawn mower) that is called a hay fork. This little item is used three times a year to move a roll of hay from our hay trailer, also used but three times a year, to the ground. In contrast, our fifteen year old refrigerator, opened about a zillion times a day, is held together with packing tape. The interior is a cave without illumination, since the lights long stopped working. I hate to even think what lurks in the dark corners. And while I'm on the refrigerator, why is it that the little plastic shelves, which break off like saltine crackers, aren't better made but cost almost as much as the refrigerator costs to replace?

My washing machine, which runs continuously, lasted fifteen years with several replacements of the agitator spline. It was a good machine, if you did not mind the sound of a jet engine just off your kitchen. It finally died from an overload of sheets and towels, and I stood agonizing over the models in the showroom. After much soul searching, I thought of Harry's backhoe, and bought the most expensive one I could afford.

*names changed to protect the guilty


In keeping with having a day of rest, I am going to start the practice of posting on Sundays a blog that I wrote before that I liked, kind of like Ann Landers did when she went on vacation. It is hard to believe I've been doing this for a year!

A suggestion to you bloggers: Do you print out your blogs?? I have been and I three hole punch and put into a binder. I just think it will be nice to have a hard copy, a history of our daily life.

Okay, so today, I'll post "Tools of the Trade" which is very appropriate as my new refrigerator arrives tomorrow. Yea!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

In My Head

I dreamt of you last night
And wonder if you feel
That we’re together in my dreams
And if that makes it real.

Hot Tubs

I will never use a public hot tub. There, it's in writing. Since we are now the proud owners of our own private hot tub, I've become intimately acquainted with it's particulars. I keep it very clean, checking it daily, and perhaps they also check public hot tubs daily, but somehow I doubt it.

There is a chemical called "Enzymes" that break down oils and "other organic matter", meaning mostly skin. After adding it, there is another chemical which acts as a coagulant, clumping together smaller particles. Okay, this is where it gets gross. After the addition of the two, a scum line forms around the tub, which must be wiped off. "What is that?" asks the daughters. "Skin," I reply to the sound of squeals and of feet running off. Well, let's face it, it's nothing but a giant bathtub that everyone shares.

So, if you are out and see an inviting hot tub, and it isn't perfectly clear, you might want to pass.

Are You Unique?

Have you ever Googled yourself to see if you exist? Oh, come on, admit it, you've put your name in now and again. Actually, I don't exist, according to Google. There are many hits on my married last name: Alger. Alger Hiss, Horatio Alger, and evidently there is a place in France called Alger. My brother-in-law apparently has a famous name: Brian Alger, who has many hits, but isn't our Brian. And there is Jim Alger, who evidently has taken Walmart to court.

Putting in my maiden name, Matthai, is just as amusing, for we knew that the name had German origins. Yet, a good number of Matthai's hail from India, Africa, Italy, and here in America. All over. My dad, George Matthai, is famous for a business in Baltimore, and for medical advances in India, except it isn't him. It isn't as unusual a name as one might think.

I suppose one could say, "I blog, therefore I exist". Recently, I read in our paper's advice column about a young woman who was bequeathed her grandma's 20 journals. The girl did not want to store them any longer and she thought anyone else would find them boring. They are the non-technological age's equivalent of blogging. Will someone someday find all these blogs boring or will they be happy to have a historical view into life in the early 2000's? I do think that blogging has caused a writing revolution. Look at all the people keyboarding their thoughts that would otherwise not record the daily events of their lives. I do hope someone is studying this trend.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Finding Things

Did you ever hear the definition of a mom: The person who knows where the tape dispenser is? Oh, it goes much deeper than that, particularly for a homeschool mom.
"Have you seen my math book?" asks child.
"No, look in the kitchen."
"I've looked there," said in a whine. "I've looked eeeeverywhere."
This should be taken as an announcement that said child will not be looking anywhere further, for the book has fallen into a black hole, never to be seen again. Math is cancelled for the year. Said book is found within the next five minutes of power-finding by mom.

A mom is the only person that, in spite of chaos, can find anything. The reason for that is that moms are willing to move objects and bend over. Just yesterday, I had to go out and buy one of those bottom mount refrigerators. (BTW, they ought to be called TOP mount because they are called REFRIGERATORS, which is what is on top. The freezer is just an extra.) See, if an item is on one of the bottom shelves, and especially if it is in the back, it isn't there. That would require the Herculean effort of bending over to look.

I did take into account dh when looking at the design. Some of these bottom-mounts have sliding drawers instead of swinging doors. Now how is a man over six foot supposed to look into a freezer near the floor with two feet of drawer in his way? The answer is obvious, of course. He isn't. There is ice in there though, and it may be occasionally necessary.

Yes, a mom is someone who has to know where everything and everyone is at all times.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Nuances of Potty Etiquette

Boys are easier, everyone you don't ask will tell you. Having had two girls, I couldn't tell you up until now. I now am the proud owner and operator of a real live boy. Now, in many ways, he is easier. There's no hair to style - you just shave it all off periodically. Clothes are the last thing he worries about. His favorite shoes are bedroom slippers or sometimes his snow boots on the hottest day of the year. There is no preamble to playing with a stranger such as "what is your name?" or "wanna be friends". Boys jump straight to "I'll be the monster".

Now, potty training, I assumed would be easier, though I was told this was the one area in which boys lagged. My little guy quickly figured out number two at age two, and I was forever thankful. It still amazes me, however, that I am the only member of the household capable of dealing with the results. But number one, that took awhile. And while he now understands that he must not pee in his "daddy underwear", it is taking a little longer to get the nuances of potty etiquette.

Today, while I had stepped to the rear of the truck to check my trailer hitch, I returned to the announcement that he'd gone potty. "Where?" I asked anxiously, knowing that he'd not left the truck cab. "Right there," he pointed to the back of one of the front seats. And there was the tell tale downward fan of wetness.

He doesn't understand yet that while it is okay to water the grass or tree, it is not okay to go wherever one can pull out the fire hose. I can understand the confusion. It is okay to go outside, for example, but not okay to go on the side of the house or the post of the porch. But that's outside, is it not? Periodically, I've let him use the horse trailer to pee (for God forbid anyone actually SEE him pee), but it is not okay to pee in the back of my truck bed and all over my folding canvas chair.

The one thing that I've been amused by is his modesty in it all. I assumed that boys would not have this, yet he generally shouts to me from a bathroom stall "Go away where I can't see your feet" and I have to back up to the sinks and pretend to be somewhere else. His modesty does not extend to his announcements publicly of coming events. "I HAVE TO POOP" he'll announce loudly in the checkout line.

This is an exercise in patience, for this requires not only a trip to the bathroom, but a complete disrobing down to his birthday suit a la George Kastanza (of Seinfeld fame). Off come the shoes, socks, shirt, pants. Why is this? I know my nephew did the same. My girls did not do this. I suppose, as it did with the girls, etiquette and wisdom comes with age. Now, off to scrub my truck carpet.

The Best of Everything

A weekly column in our local paper has readers write about something that they think is outstanding or something worth buying. Lands End flannel sheets are very expensive, and worth every penny. It's funny, but sheets are something you use every day of your life for eight (hopefully) hours a day, yet people are often stingy when buying them. "I got my sheets over at Wollymart for only $3 a piece!" they'll say. But those sheets won't give you that "ah" feeling as you slip between them after a hard day. Lasting seemingly forever, they one luxury that lasts forever and gives you pleasure every day.

So, what item could you not do without? Write a comment to me!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Take Note Unschoolers

The Primal Teen, page 44.

"And we could find out that the way to make a better brain is not through four hours of homework," continued Giedd, ....
What if we find out that in the end, what the brain wants is play, that's certainly possible," he said. "What if the brain grows best when it's allowed to play?"

Monday, November 07, 2005

Primal Teen

page 33:
"Kids today are getting mixed messages," he says. Parents want to be friends with them; they don't set good boundaries. I don't think a fourteen-year-old has what I would call consequential thinking." --Mark Howard, head counselor at a teenage residential drug rehabilitation center

The Primal Teen

I am reading The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids by Barbara Strauch. It is amazing, isn't it, that the government requires its citizens to learn a certain amount of math, civics, science, etc because that makes for good citizens, but it doesn't require you to learn anything to prepare to be a parent? So, I am educating myself.

Here is an excerpt:
p. 33
...[Teens] want to be adults and they're exposed to a semiadult culture. But they don't have the prefrontal cortex to regulate those adult behaviors; they drink and they drive without seatbelts, all of that."

"Or as Giedd puts it: "They have the passion and the strength but no brakes and they may not get good brakes until they are twenty-five."

More excerpts later

Weekend Performance

This weekend had to take the cake for ultimate parental output to facilitate the extracurricular activities of my poor, undersocialized homeschooled children. Dh took Anna, who played her best soccer games as goalie, to a two day tournament in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I drove the opposite direction to Lexington, where Lauren's team took first place in the novice division of the Fall Finale of the U.S. Mounted (Pony) Games. We had to drive back and forth between Lexington each day, so that she could practice her piano recital piece and I could hem her dress Saturday night. Then Sunday, when everyone had returned home, we all drove down to the University of Louisville where Lauren performed at her piano recital. She played beautifully an eight minute piece by heart: Sonata K.3311 I: Andante Grazioso. I wish you could've seen her.

I have to be amused when I have friends ask "how can I get my kids to read" or "how can I get my kids to practice the piano" or "how can I get them to write" because I often find myself irritated because I can't get them to do anything BUT. Anyway, I hope to have a weekend soon that doesn't involve driving, but I suppose should know better.

A Whole Lot of Room In Between

On Friday, we returned from riding lessons to find a pile of feathers and no chickens. Fearing the worst, we began our hunt for survivors. Daisy, our beagle/lab mix, quickly flushed out several. We eventually found all but two. Locking them in the coop, I took Lauren to her piano lesson and Anna stayed home.

She later called me, having found the neighbor's dog in our yard with one chicken in her mouth. She tied the dog to a tree, and unbelievably the chicken was alive, albeit with a three inch hole in her back. Ribs were visible. Even more incredible, all three injured chickens are alive today, Monday. Lauren sprays them daily with a pain killing antiseptic, and they act unaffected, except for a cessation of egg laying.

Our fear with chickens and other animals we have is that they will suffer a slow and lingering death. Sometimes, they'll get sick or hurt, and you do all you can, and the animal fights on, but after much effort, dies anyway.

I am mindful of a friend who has suffered through his son's brain injury due to an ATV accident without a helmet. While in the hospital visiting his son, he met a young man who argued that helmets should be voluntary, since it is his life, and if he dies, it's his to risk. My friend told him about his son, and said, you know, there is a whole lot of things worse than death. There is a lot of room between being alive and being dead. Have your children wear their helmets!

Postscript: The neighbor retrieved his dog while we weren't looking, and has not so much stopped by or called with an apology and it is three days later.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Media Blitz

What is with the sudden media blitz that says that homeschoolers are denying their kids socialization? Like the country has been doing so well with all the public schooled kids???

Here's where you can read about Dr. Phil's take on homeschooling:
No Room for Compromise
Bill Maher also aired tonight a segment on homeschooling, saying that it was no surprise that two teen singers that sported Hitler tshirts were homeschooled. (Note: contains offensive language)

And if you want to read an opposing and supportive view of homeschooling results, go to

Kicked in the Face by a Mule

Yesterday, I had a bump on my nose removed at the dermatologist's. She says it's probably nothing, but we needed to biopsy anyway. What she didn't tell me is that I would feel like I'd gotten kicked in the face by a mule and look like a car wreck victim. My nose is swollen. The indignity of it all!

The funny thing is to watch other people's reactions. They notice that I have a large bandage on my nose and that my eyes are a little swollen - you can see it in their eyes. But they don't say anything. I find this amusing. I wonder what it would take - perhaps a large hole in my forehead - before they would say "what happened to you"?

Grocery Fast Lanes

In the grocery, they have fast lanes for checking out. Now, it is time to take this one step further. They need fast lanes for shopping as well. A number of times I need milk, bread, a little salad, and a vegetable (all perimeter items) for a quick meal, and this I can negotiate rather rapidly. Yesterday, however, I committed the worst error, and ran out of dishwashing detergent and had to venture into the dreaded middle aisles.

There, people accumulate in clumps, talking to long lost friends, stand dazed in front of shelves lost in all the choices, or talk on their cell phones oblivious to the outside world. Luckily for me, I've done a few video driving games lately, and can swerve and duck, casting "excuse me" about in my wake.

Why is it people can drive with the notion of "keep to the right except when passing" but they can't do this in the grocery? Perhaps I need a bullhorn, and can shout "COMING THROUGH!"
Okay, glad to get that off my chest.

Weight of Coffee

How is it that I can get up, have a cup of coffee, go to the bathroom, and re-weigh myself, gaining a half pound since I got up out of bed?? I didn't eat anything. Coffee sure weighs a lot or I need a better scale.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Teaching Compassion and Responsibility

One of the most difficult jobs of parenting is teaching children to have compassion and responsibility for the humans and other creatures of this world. While I cannot go into detail here, Lauren became aware of a situation where an animal may not be getting appropriate medical care, and indeed, may be suffering abuse by most people's standards. She looked to me to do something. It is a sticky situation - a neighbor, a friend we thought. She's been nothing but kind to us. But here is this animal...

I talked to the owner and found that she intends to find it a new home. I am now faced with possibly taking on a sick animal with vet bills (which I can ill afford) because I cannot turn the other way. I don't know if she'll let us take it, but I suppose I should do something. Perhaps children are here to teach us responsibility, eh?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I've been reading Kevin Trudeau's book Natural Cures: "They" Don't Want You To Know..., or rather skimming it. Interested in nutrition, exercise and natural ways to be healthier, this book left me overwhelmed to the point it would be easier to not take any of his suggestions and keep my blinders on.

On the other hand, perhaps he's altered my way of thinking. You see, I woke up this morning certain that the combination of Daylight savings time with Halloween (and the collection of a pot full of artificially colored, artificially flavored, chemically manufactured, candy) is a conspiracy. Yes, drug manufacturers have somehow gotten the two events co-ordinated to cause increased anxiety and stress in parents, driving them to take sedatives or anti-depressants.

William, still on the time when we weren't saving daylight (why doesn't that time have a name?), awoke at 6:30 a.m. and began talking. And talking. Finally, giving in to the thought that he wasn't going to quit, he wanted his pumpkin full of candy, and that I hadn't yet had my coffee, we got up. I suppose it is going to be an interesting week.

Monday, October 31, 2005


I won't go into detail and bore you, but I went to a costume party Saturday night at dh's co-worker's house. While there, I got into a discussion with a couple, the woman born in France, who were very opposed to homeschooling or at the very least, it's lack of regulation. I told dh later that I rarely feel verbally attacked for our choices, but sure did that night. He was off talking to someone else, or he, dh that is, usually helps me in such discussions. Generally, though, they more take the head shaking, "I don't know how you do it, I could NEVER do that", route. That night, the woman could not believe that the government (I note that she comes from France because she says homeschooling is virtually unheard of there) would not oversee us.

You know, such discussions can be draining because they can play on insecurities most of us already have anyway - Are we doing the right thing? So this morning, I was reassured by reading the posts on, in some online classes my kids take. The teacher of Anna's Passion for Fiction writing class wrote that he teaches at a good University. Each new class, he asks the students, mostly freshmen, what they read in high school and most can't remember anything they read. He writes "how sad". Ask my kids what are their favorite books, authors, and well, you might as well get a cup of tea and pull up a comfortable chair, because you'll be there awhile. So, we're doing something right.


Last week, I was in one of our local craft stores to buy art supplies for Anna. These type of stores stir up latent needs to make cute decorations for the appropriate seasons. I don't know the source of these urges, since generally I don't like clutter or cutsie things that I have to move to dust. Someday, they'll find a crafts gene. Most likely I'm missing that gene since my projects either lay unfinished or look like they'll get third prize at the kindergarten fall arts fair.

So I paused, unwisely, on my way to the serious art supplies department. Foam pumpkins, cute canvas bags decorated and painted with a glittering "BOO", and other fall crafts were hung in front of me. I noticed, however, that the supplies for these crafts were largely depleted. I was too late.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a great deal of activity in a nearby section. Christmas! Women crawled like worker ants over Christmas ornaments to make, fake pine boughs and ribbons. "STOP!" I shouted inside my head. Didn't these women know what they were doing to women-kind? We hadn't passed Halloween, not to mention Thanksgiving, and they'd already moved on to Christmas!

Production lines came to mind, where a new fast worker is reprimanded by long-term employees who have developed a comfortable pace over the years and see it jeopardized by someone working faster. I had a momentary daydream of running through the aisles with my arms outstreched, clearing the shelves onto the floor. How to stop the madness?

With my art supplies and a pumpkin candle holder in my cart, I stood in line behind a woman that had purchased enough garland to fill the largest size trash bag. "I'm just getting started. I'll be back," she said cheerily. Perhaps I will, too. After all, Easter is just around the corner.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Costume Parties

Two days ago - two days mind you - dh emailed to me an invitation to a costume party thrown by a co-worker this evening. Not just any co-worker, but a blonde that I saw at the last work party wearing black leather pants. Okay, so my insecurities are showing but what's a blog for if it isn't to write about one's darkest thoughts?

Only another woman maybe can understand the delicate balance between choosing a costume that neither makes one appear too sexy (it IS a work party) nor is too ugly/demeaning/stupid/silly.

Remembering that we had some Mexican ponchos, dh has suggested that we go as Clint Eastwood and his side-kick, a Mexican. Discussing this with a female friend, she got the problem immediately. "Oh," she said. "Like in the movie The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and you get to be Ugly?"

So - what to do? I may wear Anna's soccer uniform, assuming that it isn't too smelly after this afternoon's game.

Chinese Torture

Even the Chinese are losing jobs to technology. How do I know? Anyone who's purchased a vehicle toy for a young boy lately can attest to this. You know the scene - you are dragging your little boy around to all the events of his older siblings and you think, "I know, I'll buy him a cheap toy to keep him busy and happy". (You know that you are wishful thinking, but hope springs eternal, yes?) So, you run into Walmart, and quickly select some plastic toy that will be broken and forgotten tomorrow. Still, for the moment, Johnny is happy.

The toy in question is secure in a cardboard box that is designed to withstand hurricane forces or possibly a nuclear blast. Using your key (what else?), you rip off tape that should be used to secure the foam to the space shuttle. Now in the good old days, you would have found underneath that the toy was secured from falling or being stolen from it's protective cardboard cage by silver, plastic-coated wires twisted in a myriad of configurations that take forever to unwind. I haven't decided why these toys are tied so tightly to the box. If only our national security was as good. Anyway, after much twisting, and removal of several plastic clips, the toy is freed!

Yet, that required some poor Chinese worker hours of twisting wires. No doubt, carpal tunnel became rife among the workers and the corporations despaired of paying them $2 a month. So in a move towards modernization, some bright businessman installed machines that screw the toy into it's box.

Nothing comes close to the rage I feel when I open the cardboard to find that removal of the toy requires a Phillips head screw driver. (BTW, who is "Phillips" and why does he have a screw driver named after him?) So, like a fool, I try my nail clippers, my credit card, my keys. Nothing fits the tiny screw. I contemplate breaking off the plastic holders, but they are made of finer grade plastic than the toy and will not yield. Passing strangers give me weird looks as I shout, "Anyone have a screw driver?" In the end, my poor child sits in the car, cradling the toy still encased in the box. We finally find someone with a screw driver, release the toy, and momentarily, the crisis passes.

I never thought I would miss those silver colored wires......

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mid-Life Crisis?

Anticipating a year-end bonus, dh bought a hot tub before the females in his house could plot to use it on the purchase of more horses. It came complete with a bucket full of chemicals, 15 different bottles in all, which require a degree in Chemistry to understand.

"The blonde doesn't come with it, ya know," I informed dh. He was watching the DVD presentation on how to take care of the hot tub, as if he were going to be the one to take care of it.

Interestingly, it showed a rather flat-chested brunette administering one of the chemicals that come with this community bath tub. Once the tub was up and running, the brunette was joined in the tub by her skinny husband and this young buxom blonde and her gray-haired boyfriend. Wanna guess who the target market is?

One bottle, marked "Enzymes" is rather interesting. It takes care of "other organic matter" that the filter and other chemicals don't attack. Rather a disgusting thing to contemplate, isn't it? I must admit that even though I have to shut off the part of my brain that knows I'm sitting in a chemical stew, I've enjoyed boiling myself once a day and watching the leaves turn beautiful colors in our backyard.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I haven't the bravery or the organizational skills to unschool. I wonder - how will I prove what we've done, what we've learned? How will they get into college. So each summer, I plan, I buy books, I lay out schedules and by, oh right about now, it all falls apart. Why?

Well, both girls love to read. They read, and read, until I am forced to confiscate books so that I can even get them to do a few chores, much less "schoolwork". Anna loves to write, and will disappear for hours, typing away. I've yet to read any of it, unless I find a stray poem here or there, for she doesn't like anyone reading it yet. Guess I can understand that.

Lauren plays the piano for hours until my ears ring. (I've taken to wearing my ear protectors that I bought for using while mowing grass. It dampens the sound, but it is still loud.) When she's not on the piano or reading, she's consumed by anything to do with a horse.

I guess that through entropy, my plans fall apart - and we begin to unschool. I will admit to keeping them on track for math, they are dragging a bit on Foreign Language, but the others, well, history is changing all the time anyway, and so is science. Maybe we'll wait until they quit changing the answers!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Theory of Relativity

"We have two houses", my three year old told me yesterday. We were riding our horses our usual two mile loop. We do? He sat in front of me on the saddle of my old Tennesse Walking horse, talking non-stop. "Yes," he said, "the one we left and the one we're going to." Interesting way of thinking, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Boy Who Would Be King

Burger King, that is. Yesterday, I took 3 yr old William to Burger King. There's a play place there, and kids with which to play. He asked if the workers lived there. He had a hard time grasping that the restaurant was closed at night and the workers went home. "Well, I wish that I lived here," he said. "Then we'd have a play place, all this food, and kids to play with."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bird Smarts.....

We've noticed something quite interesting about our chickens and about our finches. When we returned from our vacation in August, we found that the finches had added many eggs to their nest and were actively sitting on them. We'd been gone about ten days, and in the quiet house, they'd been busy. When we returned, however, our active and noisy house seemed to disturb them, though they are off in a separate room. They quit sitting, and after some time, began rebuilding the nest on top of the old eggs, a sure sign that they'd given up on the eggs.

Meanwhile, in our chicken coop, we'd not had many eggs for ages. We had not let our chickens free-range for some time because between the foxes, raccoons and the neighbor's dog, they were in mortal danger. So we kept them "cooped-up". Lately, though, we've seen no varmits and the neighbor's dog has been kept home, so we've let them out. The interesting thing is that now happy with being outside, egg production has increased and you would not believe the improvement in the feathers of two of our chickens. One was nearly bald, and the other's feathers were actually curled up, though they aren't supposed to be. Now, both are sleek looking chickens, nicely feathered.

My observation is that in our birds, if they are stressed or in less than ideal environments, they don't lay eggs or at least don't sit on them to hatch them. If only humans were so smart.....

Mounted Games

We spent the weekend in Edinburgh, Indiana for the Corn Husk Pairs Mounted Games competition. Both girls did beautifully, taking second place out of six pairs. I got to see a little of the area, driving around, and there are some neat old towns there, just south of Indiannapolis.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Feingold Diet

Though I've always known that a more natural diet is better, it is difficult to not lapse into using the dreaded middle aisles of the grocery store. You know what I mean, the meals in a box, the food with a list of ingredients that are more numerous than the stars and with unpronouncable chemical-sounding names. We've become a nation that eats chemicals, yet we don't admit it.

In my elementary years, there was always one or two kids, usually boys, that were always in trouble with the teacher. I remember Marc (but not his last name) who the teacher would make stand in the garbage can (yes, literally) in the corner because not only did he not behave, but he kept his desk like a garbage heap (hence his punishment). Today, a good proportion of youngsters seem to have trouble of one kind or another and ADD is a household word.

Is it not a wonder that the increase in the number of children with ADD skyrocketed right around the same time we began eating industrialized foods? For our own reasons, we found the Feingold Diet. Through them, I've learned some things. For example, dye is in many, if not most processed foods. Even the farm-raised salmon we bought one day said "food coloring added", presumably to make it more red (wild) looking. Dye is a product of petroleum. How about vanillin? It is a byproduct of the paper industry, and happens to taste a lot like vanilla, but not at all natural. Many artificial flavors are also from petroleum. So while you feed your family, consider, would you put crude oil in their food? The food industry does.

Learning to eat more naturally is about planning. I intend to make a website that will give weekly dinner menus complete with grocery shopping lists. It will take me a week or two to build up the first page. I will post the link when I am finished. In the meantime, stick to the outside edges of the grocery!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Times Have Definitely Changed

Raising children in today's world of fast-paced, information loaded, media-filled world is a challenge. Times have changed, not only for the raising of children, but also for the adults who raise them.

Case in point. We went to Anna's soccer game on Saturday and sat down in our folding chairs, got out our picnic lunch and settled in for a wholesome, family outing. Or so you'd think. No sooner had we made our spot than directly in front of us we were "treated" to the eye-popping sight of a blonde, pony-tailed woman's pink thong and most of her "bottom".

My non-soccer daughter suppressed a giggle, as dh and I raised eyebrows at each other. Teen, you might think? Noooo, it was the mom of one of the team members. Luckily, she adjusted this wardrobe malfunction (and repeated as needed throughout the game).

Goodness, just gives you a warm feeling deep down inside to think of your mom flashing her thong to the world, doesn't it?

Are We Opt-outs?

In browsing through some blogs, I found one about school attendance. In it, the author writes:

Attendance: School Dropouts, Pushouts, and Optouts
A school dropout is defined as an individual who quits school prior to graduation. A school pushout is defined as a student that has been counseled or in some way forced out of school prior to graduation. I would like to suggest that we also consider the idea of the school optout, or an individual who quits school because it serves no meaningful or relevant purpose in their life...

Interesting terminology. Yet, none of the above fits me and mine. I could suppose that we are "opt-outs", yet that doesn't quite fit, because we didn't quit - we never started. I am thinking about what terminology I'd like for lifetime homeschoolers. Send me your words!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Weekend News

Friday night, we went to eat at the local Asian buffet - all you can eat. I am not crazy about the atmosphere there - tables all squished in together - eating next to someone who's habits are questionable and who you don't know. The food is good though.

This time, though, we were seated next to a man that was grotesquely obese, at least 400 pounds, and his wife, fat but slim by comparison to her husband. We watched, as we could not help doing since he was practically seated at our table, while he ate plate after plate after plate of crab legs. I had to hold myself back from telling him about Wm's godfather, who died recently when his heart just couldn't pump anymore blood around his enormous body. He literally ate himself to death. Did this man not know what he was doing to himself? Anna overheard the man telling the waiter that he'd eaten 18 plates of legs!

I said nothing but wondered that we can legislate smoking because of health issues, prevent people from taking certain drugs because they might harm you, yet it is okay to feed people until they literally burst. Perhaps it is unethical to take children to such a buffet and say "have at it - eat all you want", aside from the fact that the food there is rarely healthy and mostly fried. Perhaps it is better to take them to the buffet, and teach them to choose wisely. The world is a buffet in America.

As we left, two old ladies and their granddaughter were stranded in the parking lot. We could not get their car battery jumped, and called a tow truck for them. I mentioned to the girls that in the pioneer days, we'd have to take them home with us, as there were no hotels or places to go.

Yesterday, we went to Anna's soccer game, then Lauren had a piano class. Today, we are off to Lexington for Mounted Games practice. I feel like a hamster on a treadmill.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Breaking the Rules by Helen Hegener

I loved this article which I found at NHEN's website. Perhaps, it is because I, too, have always felt the need to push the rules, ask the questions unasked. Perhaps it is because we also love horses and yet, a mother cannot help feeling a mixture of fear and pride when seeing their child ride.

Breaking the Rules
by Helen Hegener
There's a framed picture on my desk of my daughter Jody and her brother Christopher at the Ferry County Fair last fall, riding into first place in the Sweetheart Race on Jody's horse Claire. Reins flying free, Jody has both hands thrown high in an exuberant victory salute, and Chris has that big old grin that he gets when he's just flat out having a good time. It's become one of my favorite photos of the two of them, and it underscores something I've been thinking about for some time now.

It has to be some breach of safety rules to be riding fast without your hands on the reins. Jody knows it better than we do, having spent several summers as a youth camp counselor and wrangler for friends who run a large horse summer camp for kids. She realizes the dangers, and yet she constantly tests them in her own ways, flirting with what might happen if...

We chide her for it from time to time. She'll ride through the yard with only a halter on her horse, knowing full well that we disapprove, and knowing just as well that our disapproval stems from a concern for her safety, not some arbitrary need to have rules obeyed. We'll mention it, she'll acknowledge our disapproval, and that will be the end of it for a while. She'll bridle her horse for some time to come. But then one day she'll be back with only an Indian-style cotton rope through Claire's mouth. Testing, always testing.

I cherish this quality in her. She knows the rules, such as they are, and she constantly pushes against them, seeking to find some different, somehow better way. I've done that all my life, and, in one way or another, I suspect most homeschoolers have.

I consider it a hopeful sign for our times that so many parents are choosing to homeschool their children. It tells me that the spark of personal decision has not been entirely trampled by government schooling, that we as a people still have the wherewithal to make societally unpopular decisions for ourselves. Whether teaching our own, birthing our own, growing gardens to feed our own, building homes to shelter our own, or working at businesses to support our own, there's still a healthy and growing movement toward self-reliance in this country, and it feels like a very good thing.

It also feels like letting go of the reins and pushing against the rules. One could write an entire book about why this is so (many people already have), but as a society we've been led to believe that our place in the competitive global economy requires a process of education and a dedication to the workforce that homeschooling successfully circumvents. We've effectively said "No thanks, we'll teach our kids to grow their own food and build their own homes so they won't have to spend their lives at some thankless job just to survive." One of the recurring concerns we hear from new homeschoolers is "How can I be sure my child will grow up able to make a good living?" It's a tough question, because there are so many variables from family to family.

This is one of those areas where courage in letting go of the reins is really evident -- it's all so well arranged in school, with aptitude testing, guidance counseling, vocational training classes and so much more. But it's arranged to produce the kind of results President Clinton alluded to in his 1994 State of the Union message when he said that schools should be measured by one high standard, namely: "Are our children learning what they need to know to compete and win in the global economy?"

Is this really what we want for our children? Can it be what they want for themselves? I'll venture to say that most parents probably have more mundane goals for their children. A loving family, a nice home, a comfortable income doing work they enjoy. Is it somehow less than enough to be content with these?

In Ron Miller's book Educational Freedom for a Democratic Society (1995, Resource Center for Redesigning Education), Seth Rockmuller and Katharine Houk write of the government's Goals 2000 educational reform package, "It does not appear to be an option for parents or a community as a whole to choose not to have their children strive to be 'first in the world in mathematics and science' or 'prepared ...for productive employment in our nation's modern economy.' The issue is not whether these are admirable goals or loathsome ones; rather the issue is who chooses for a particular family what the goals for its children should be."

The issue is who chooses. In light of this it's even more hopeful that so many parents are deciding to push the rules and assume the responsibility for their children's education. We need to be vigilant in maintaining our freedom to do so, and we need to be willing, like Jody, to let go of the reins every once in a while and test our own limits.

Several weeks ago my sister Sue rode one of our horses up the creek, just puttering around, enjoying the beautiful autumn day. Jody and I walked out to the pasture, stopped to pet the horses, and Jody, seeing her Aunt Sue off in the distance, suddenly decided to join her. Before I could protest she'd swung onto Claire and was off at a gallop, no bridle, no halter, nothing but trust in her horse and her own riding abilities. I was annoyed and awestruck and proud all at the same time at my wildly capable girl and the horse she'd raised and trained herself. I've never had the nerve to ride without a bridle. Secretly, I'm delighted that Jody does.

Shared freely from the NHEN Article Clearinghouse -

Bare Minimum

I have decided to rename our homeschool. It will now be called "The Bare Minimum". I wonder how this will strike relatives, friends and the school board! I did not arrive at this name lightly.
Yesterday, I was reading an article about Christopher Paolini, one of my 12 year old's favorite authors. Homeschooled himself, Paolini began writing the book Eragon at age 15, and at 21, has just published the sequel, Eldest. The article states: "Now, Paolini doubts he'll ever attend college. "To be honest about it, I make my living right now writing down my daydreams, which is a wonderful job. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best job in the world," he said."

As I discussed with my dh my frustrations with getting the "bare minimum" of schooling done, because my daughters' passions for piano playing, horses, reading and writing were taking up so much of the day's time. Then, I thought of Paolini. At 21, he has a job he loves, income, fame, and a future. I wondered if he is good at Algebra? Does he know the difference betweeen eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells? Maybe, but no one really cares. They care only that he writes another book.

I remember discussing high school curricula with a mom who had two homeschooled college age girls, one of which now attends college. I asked her advice, seeing that she'd used both correspondence schools, text curricula, and junior college. She told me that were she to do over again, she'd give her daughters just the bare minimum of what was required for high school. Thus, our school name.

Many days, I reflect on what we are not accomplishing. These feelings I know stem from what other people expect of us. Worrying about the standards, I generate negative feelings of being "behind". Yet, I have a daughter that can play piano at a high school, maybe college level and is self-motivated to practice for hours. I have a daughter that writes for fun for hours and is really gifted. Both love to read enough that I have to confiscate and hide their books in order to get them to do their chores. Both ride horses very well. Both know their way around a computer. I want them to be grounded in the basics, but maybe the bare minimum is enough. Perhaps life should have more time in it for our passions.

Still thinking.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I've read many a review of textbooks, declaring them full of errors and misconceptions. Particularly for Middle School ages, I could find not one textbook that did not have a bad review. Yet, I found decent write-ups about Prentice Hall's high school level Biology: Exploring Life program, which links a smaller text with interactive computer lessons and labs. We've enjoyed the lab, and the computer lesson is interesting if not particularly challenging. Yet, I've found two errors in the book without getting out of the first chapter. I intend to keep track of these and write to the company.

I have heard similar stories from other homeschoolers, who kept track of and found many errors in texts. Such errors, so easily found, seem inexcusable. Perhaps the publishers should hire homeschoolers as editors. As it is, they will not let me on the teacher website because they don't seem to do business with homeschoolers.

New Addition to Our Family

Don't get excited - it's not a living thing! Yesterday, after many years of needling from our piano teacher, we purchased a (used) grand piano from a friend that was selling. Never did I think we would have one. It's arrival was an exciting event. It is the centerpiece of our main living space. Lauren plays so beautifully, it would be a shame to pass up this opportunity.

It is interesting though. Horses and piano are two of my own interests - things I wanted for my children. Now, Lauren plays hours each day, sometimes driving my poor brain and ears wild for a bit of quiet as our house is a very open floor plan. There is no respite from it. We can go outside right now, but come winter, it will be a challenge. As for horses, both girls enjoy riding and mounted games, yet they take up much time and resources. It is difficult between horses and piano, to do anything else, including school. I guess the saying is true, be careful what you wish for, as you may get it.

P.S. My five year old U1 Yamaha upright piano is for sale.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Teens Go to College - Revisited

Upon reflection, I decided that my reaction to this article is neither depression or reassurance because it has no relevance our family. Our reasons for homeschooling do not include getting our children through college before most have gotten through high school. In fact, I'd rather that they take time enjoying their childhood and growing up, for the weight of adulthood will be on them all too soon.

Teens Go to College

I'm not sure if I am depressed or reassured by this article:

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The March of the Penguins

Last night, we went to see The March of the Penguins movie. I had heard so much about how great it was, that it paled in comparison. Or maybe it is because I see so many really good PBS documentaries these days on television. While it was enjoyable, I don't get the hype and three and a half stars. I had hoped also that our three year old would love it, but he'd seen an airplane video game in the lobby, and asked me several times during the movie if he could go "do the airplane". We left the girls to watch the last 15 minutes so he could visit all the video machines. I guess I better save my quarters.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday - September 24

Reading: The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas
Watching: Elizabeth, DVD
Doing: Nothing - it's my birthday!

Yesterday evening, I attended the "viewing" of William's godfather, Bob Artner. My heart goes out to their children. Bob was only 46 at his death of a heart attack. If you care about your children, take care of their parents.

Another Birthday

Today is my 45th birthday. While I don't appreciate being older, the alternative is not acceptable.

Fall Days

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rat Snake

On Thursday, we'd noticed a "baby snake" in our garage on the way out. I told Lauren to leave it. Mice are always a problem where we live and perhaps it would live in the garage, keeping out mice. Today, however, I found the above pictured snake in my bathroom, two floors up from the garage, hanging out by the commode.

I was on the phone with an equine hospital when I spotted him. Lauren shrieked, giving the lady on the other end a busted eardrum, I'm sure. We got a bucket and I plucked him up by the tail. We did a search on the internet and are sure that he's a juvenile rat snake. Not poisonous, they are mean though and will bite. Lauren lifted the lid and the little rat lifted his head and hissed, causing another shriek. He was about 2 feet long, but we read that they get to over 100 inches.

I only hope that he's the snake we saw in the garage and not one of many siblings! We released him in the barn, where there's a multitude of mice for good eating.

I'm off now to go practice kicking soccer balls at my daughter, who is learning the goalie position.

Busy Days

Our days continue to be full, and we strive to fit in the traditional academics with our other interests. Since Wednesday, we've been to a Mounted Games practice. William filled that time with learning the mysteries of a giant mud puddle, and the feeling of it oozing through your toes. I finished reading The Mermaid Chair while I waited. A good book, but I liked The Secret Life of Bees better. The rest of the day was filled with piano lessons, errands and running downtown to the Wayside Christian Mission where we delivered 10 personal care kits and underwear for Katrina survivors.

Yesterday, we used the entire morning talking to our equine chiropractor. About a month and a half ago, Lauren purchased Nova, a half Arab pony. He's been in training for the past month and towards the end of it, we noticed a bump, right behind the saddle area. The chiropractor is sure, and I agree, that the spine is actually curved there. He was able to move it, though the prognosis is sketchy. I have, yesterday and today, been trying to get an answer from equine hospitals as to whether or not it can be x-rayed. One has said no, and that it would really require nuclear imagining, costing nearly $2000 or maybe more. Another says it might be possible. I'm waiting on their call.

The point of an x-ray would be to see if vertebrae are cracked. If they are, he's a pasture ornament. If not, it may be that with chiropractic care, we can make him better. Either way, it is a devasting blow. We had done everything we could to make sure he was sound before we purchased him. There is no way to know what caused/is causing the problem. Disease? Back injury? Or whether he'll ever be whole. I hope for an appointment next week.

Lauren later went to her work at a stable, and Anna to soccer. She reports that she'll be a goalie this coming game. She seems to like the idea. Wm. watches too much TV. I need to work on that.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I wonder how they're doing, Claire and Jamie. After many months of re-reading the Diana Gabaldon books on time traveler Claire Beauchamp Fraser, I've finished the fifth book. I've done this in preparation of the release of her sixth book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, due out this September 27th. It is difficult to move onto other books, as her books were of such length (the last was over 900 pages long), that read in sequence, the books became part of my life.

I suppose I've admired the character of Claire, because of her deep love for Jamie, but also because of her intelligence, strength and confidence. She is like someone I strive to be. I must move on in my reading, but look forward to the next book. My only regret is that once I read that book, I know it will be some time before another is released.

If only I could find it in myself to become such an author....

Old Age Hair

There are many deep and meaningful things about which I could write, but today, I ponder such paradoxes as old age hair. I've read about the reasons for gray hair, and that scientific studies show that it is some mechanism turning off to protect the body from cancer and such dangers. Yet, I ponder the evolutionary advantage to the prevalence of hairs that in old age, sprout from places they didn't in the body's younger days.

Now, maybe I shouldn't publicly be admitting to old age, and indeed, I daily either try to refute that it is happening to me or ignore the effects. If I must say so myself, I have very nice eyebrows, or have until now. Short, light brown hairs arch nicely over my eyes, so that I really don't need to indulge in the female torture of plucking them. Lately, however, I've noticed that two hairs, which don't seem to belong to me, have decided to plant themselves among my eyebrows. They should be on some grandpa somewhere, and I don't know how or why they've come to be on me. Much longer, darker and thicker than my others, I viciously pull them out when I notice them. I can't help thinking what the advantage is to developing "grandpa" brows.
I have been reminded, however, by older un-named relatives, that I should be happy to pluck these few wayward hairs from my brows, and not elsewhere!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday - September 16th

We went shopping today to find items for personal care kits for Katrina survivors. Though I was tempted to just make a donation, I wanted the girls to be involved in actually doing something. We have ten kits put together that I'll drive downtown next week. We brought a lunch and put the items together at the park. William enjoyed playing for awhile.

Having once raised hamsters, I have no aversion to rodents as a rule, but dislike herds of them in my barn or even one loose in my house. I have made it my personal mission to erradicate as many as I can. My count so far is a total of 38 mice, most from the barn.

My weapons of choice are two traps that basically electrocute the mice. It seems the most humane way, as often the old-style traps could catch a mice by the arm, and not kill it. I try not to think as I fling them from the trap, but cats are not an option, and the one we have is lazy.

So far today, little accomplished. I despair.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday - September 15

I'll admit I do a lot of running around. Lauren today worked, necessitating a trip back and forth to drive her there. The girls both had orthodontic appointments, followed by a short time at home before driving Anna to soccer. I suppose that a good deal of the running around is due to the fact that some of our "learning" is done outside the home, rather than contained in one building called "school". A good deal of the difficulty with handling this feeling of being a marble swirled around in a box is that I have a three year old to contend with, and two eating machines called teens.

I suppose given the alternatives, I should consider myself lucky to have a full and meaningful life. I wouldn't trade the chubby hand reaching up to pat me and tell me "you're a dood (good) mommy" for anything. Much of the time in the car is spent in engaging conversation with my girls. But some days.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wednesday - September 14

Days slip by. Though I don't write, I am always writing in my head as I go about my work. I just find it harder these days to get those thoughts into the computer. We've added school now to our already busy schedule, but I've been pleased with the girls' response. I think we've succeeded this year in finding some interesting things to study.

Today, we hadn't much time for ordinary academic material, but not that we weren't learning. This morning was filled with mounted (pony) games practice. Anna continues to progress so that Lauren has asked her to be her pair in an upcoming competition. William happily played in a mud puddle, slapping great goops of it on his tractors, and making mud pies. We hosed him off at noon, and headed home. After unhooking the horse trailer, and getting William's lunch, I quickly changed, and took Lauren over to piano lessons. While she was there, Wm and I ran over to Burger King, less for the lunch than the hope that there would be little kids, preferably boys, to play with in the playplace. There were two! He had a great time. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay long, as it was back to pick up Lauren.

After several errands on the way home, I spent a good deal of the remaining afternoon mending the electric fences around our place. By the time I came in, the night was through. Lauren skipped Dog 4H tonight, chosing instead to ride her new horse, who is now home. The day goes by so quickly. I am going to get a bite to eat now.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


We did well this week so far in accomplishing some of our goals for education. Still, I wonder how this year is going to go with Wm. (age 3) needing so much attention. He is not the type of child that will sit and play, he detests crayons, and enjoys seeing how to use common household items in new ways. Yesterday, he used our salad tongs, detached from each other, as "win-wipers" (windshield wipers) and ran alternately chasing the dogs and Anna. He did enjoy some time playing in the barn while I split wood. (I did use the neighbor's log splitter, so don't feel too badly for me - though the wood is heavy to lift.)

Oh, and that gets me on another subject - exercise. Recently, we've applied for new life insurance. The company requires a nurse to come to your house to ask all kinds of silly questions, like "do you smoke pot or do cocaine". Do they really think anyone is going to admit such a thing while trying to qualify for life insurance??? Anyway, I digress. One question is how often do you regularly exercise or participate in an organized sport. I asked if housework qualifies. No. How about working in the yard? No. How about running after my three year old? No.

So let me get this straight. My husband can sit at his desk for eight hours, come home and walk his treadmill for 10 minutes and he gets a "yes", but I can never sit down all day, eat my lunch on the run, but I don't exercise? Obviously, a man wrote the rules.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Starting School

Yesterday was the first full day of an organized schedule. It went well, all considered. I think I will find this year challenging with a three year old. The other day, Wm found a set of headphones used for hearing protection while driving the tractor. This was his helmet. He completed his attire with an empty box over one hand (shield) and a spike from the garden (sword). Where he got this idea I'll never know. Did you know that a one pound weight makes a perfect implement for distressing tables so that they look antique? Wm. did. Ah, well, at least he likes to sit and have someone read to him.

Anna progresses well in her writing, something she enjoys doing. Yesterday, I found a poem she'd written. I hope to get her to post it on her website.

Lauren continues with training Nova, her newest horse. I believe she's learning a lot from his training.

Myself, I cannot get the images from the hurricane from my brain. I struggle daily with what response we'll make besides a monetary contribution, which doesn't seem enough. I worry for the babies.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Reality TV....

...isn't real. No big surprise, though, eh? My daughters were invited Friday evening to attend the taping of a "reality" TV show. We've been advised not to talk about it much, though I don't remember the release obligating me to hold my tongue ;-)
It was a veritable spectacle. It was a learning experience for my dear daughters, who saw that the entire evening was not only staged and faked, but basically an acting job. Back to the beginning:

Dds' are friends with some kids in their 4H club, who invited them to a "salsa party" with the caveat that the party was to be taped as part of a reality tv show in which their family was one of the two featured families. I was curious, yet reluctant, having seen the show before. The show revels in chosing families as diverse as possible, and deliberately creating controversy. My distaste for the show has a great deal to do with the fact that homeschoolers are often the target of the controversy. I also find it objectionable to subject very young children, who have no real understanding, to such an event. In this case, the youngest child, a friend of my 3 yo, was 4 years old. I cannot understand ever being parted for two week from such a young child. Yet, I digress....

The girls had a great time dancing, yet they saw that it wasn't a real party. They were acting like they were at a party, rather than really attending a party. The dance area was very small, staged to look like there were more people than actually were there. Often, the action stopped, so that another scene could be staged. Lauren will probably be featured quite a bit, as one of the boys of the family takes quite a shine to her, and she danced with him. Lauren learned Salsa dancing while in Germany, and enjoys it.

I will reserve my opinions of the things I saw until the show airs, at which time I think I'll be more free to discuss more details of what I observed, limited though it might be. The girls now know that what they see on TV isn't what you think you are seeing, so it was an educational experience, all in all. Now, I hold my breath that they don't somehow twist something that reflect badly on my girls - though I think they have enough "dirt" on the family involved. I'll let you know when it's airing.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Catching Up

Flylady says that you are not behind, just start where you are. Really though, I have been behind. In addition to traveling, it seems that things to do pile up like dirty laundry. Both computers have had problems, which broke my habit of blogging and writing. I have been planning out the school year so that there is some appearance of organization. And, the kids of course keep me busy.

I long for the long summer days of my childhood where we did nothing but swim and climb trees.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

County Fair

County fairs are an interesting event. There are many sights, sounds and smells that assault the senses. I enjoy watching all the people, especially those that run the fair - the "carnies". I wonder about their lives and what it must be like, living in a trailer and driving all over the country to small communities to give little tikes a ride on the carousel. What decisions did these folks make that lead them to become gypsies of a sort? All seemed very kind to the young kids.

After going around and around the circle in little cars and in strange looking animal seats, William enjoyed the obstacle course so much and went through so many times, that he could barely drag himself up the steps. Even so, he was reluctant to leave. I asked the girls, closer in age to remembering what it is like to be so young, what was the attraction of climbing the same course over and again? The long, high, fast slide at the end, they said. Perhaps I've gotten old, for one trip through would have satisfied my curiosity.

We watched the lawnmower pulls and some sort of demolition derby. The girls saw a bit of the beauty contests and declared no interest in participating. Instead, they enjoyed rock-wall climbing. We all dragged home weary, and with a mom glad that the county fair occurs only once a year.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Around this time of year, I struggle with remembering the reasons that we homeschool and what it is going to look like next year. Each year, I start with renewed promises that I am going to be more organized in my reporting of our rather eclectic way of learning. Indeed, I even sometimes try to plan out curricula! Yet, I remain convinced that it isn't our objective to raise mini-Einsteins or grand scholars. We are committed to raising decent people that love to learn and can find meaning in their lives.

Recently, I borrowed a book from the library for dh, On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt. I found myself browsing through this small epistle to find a very pertinent (to education) paragraph:

"Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person's obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frquently impelled - whether by their own propensities or by the demands of others - to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant. Closely related instances arise from the widespread conviction that it is the responsibility of a citizen in a democracy to have opinions about everything, or at least everything that pertains to the conduct of his country's affairs. The lack of any significant connection between a person's opinions and his apprehension of reality will be even more severe, needless to say, for someone who believes it is his responsibility, as a conscientious moral agent, to evaluate events and conditions in all parts of the world."

Amen to that. My opinion is that school is often founded upon these beliefs, and children are subjected to being crammed with knowlegde which they will never fully master or maybe never even use, in the hopes of producing citizens that can participate in society. Often, it isn't about learning to learn, or about education at all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm Back

My computer suffered a major meltdown, literally, as my ethernet card was fried in a storm. At the same time, it got a virus and so it has taken me awhile to get it all back together. I will try to get back in the writing saddle again. But right now, William is hanging on my neck and hollering!

Thursday, June 30, 2005


I am working on developing the curricula for Lauren's freshman year in high school. We were given all the high school Saxon books in great condition. I assumed that was a message from God that we should continue with Saxon math, so she'll hopefully be able to do Algebra I in the fall (we're working on Algebra 1/2 this summer.)

I have purchased her Spanish program (Switched on Schoolhouse, secondary) and have a number of other Spanish resources (the Learnables, year one).

Music is set, for she has an outstanding Suzuki piano teacher. He is also supplementing the normal lessons with a class on theory this fall for his R.A.C.E. students (see previous posts on this) and it is high school level.

She'll be doing equine studies and work, and of course, physical education is covered by all her riding and horse competitions. So, that left Biology, Language Arts and History. So much to cover!

Someone suggested to me to purchase a college Biology text for an outline of what should be covered. Have you looked at the cost of Biology texts lately???? The most popular one on Amazon, Biology by Campbell, Reece is $137 new plus S&H. I fortunately found a used one on eBay for $5.99 with S&H. Combined with using Critical Thinking Skills materials, I guess that's decided. Now, on to Language Arts.


Today, the heat index (temperature and dew point calculation) is to reach 105 Farenheit! We had a brief downpour yesterday afternoon, but our children are learning the meaning of the word "drought". We were under a restricted water usage (outside watering) this week. I suppose those flowers I planted are doomed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


We just did one quick experiment from the Book 2 Sciencewise from Critical Thinking Books. My girls loved it. It had a little accompanying story that the king's egg had sunk, and the servant had to bring it to the top of the water, but no one is allowed to touch the king's food.

Here are the basics:
Put an egg in a container (we used a Pyrex 2 cup measuring cup) filled with water. The egg will sink. Without touching the egg directly with their fingers, the experimenters must think of as many ways as they can to bring the egg back up to the surface. Directions say to accept all reasonable solutions. Anna suggested using air bubbled in or a spoon. She tried, unsuccessfully, the addition of pepper, oil, a small amount of salt and dishwashing detergent. She is as I type, trying one last experiment - baking soda and vinegar - knowing from another experiment that the result of mixing the two cause gas to be formed. She's just called from the kitchen - it didn't work.

The "teacher" solution is to add salt slowly while stirring. It will take quite a bit of salt (1/2 a container), but eventually, you'll change the density of the water and the egg will float. Lauren immediately asked was that why it was easier to swim in the ocean than the pool? We discussed natural salt bodies of water (Dead Sea, Salt Lake) and what happens to a cargo ship that goes from salt water to fresh water.

Didn't take much time, but made a lasting impression. I think we'll like this book.

In the back of the book are "projects" that can be done in groups. I am thinking of forming a club of local hs'ers that would come together once in awhile to test their designs. One example is the design of an egg catcher with the egg dropped from a window or ladder.

Monday, June 27, 2005


We went to a park today to play before attempting to shop for shorts with a three year old boy. We ate a picnic lunch and played for awhile, and it helped to some degree. I noticed that the flies are biting now, though.

A member of our local homeschool list sent this link to me for beneficial bugs: There is a type of fly predator that one can order, put in the horse manure, and it eats fly larvae before they become biting flies. Worth a try, eh? I thought the prices looked good for other insects as well and might make a good summer biology project.

Speaking of flies, and time does fly, I was amazed at the changes to this state park we visited. When my girls were young like my boy, there was nice playground equipment, swimming in the lake, and in the winter, there was a ski slope. We notice that much of the playground was gone. There was a sign posted that the beach was closed, no swimming. The ski lodge and operation was obviously defunct. It seemed only yesterday....


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