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.


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