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

Optimism



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.

Updates

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?

http://www.crosswalk.com/news/1362503.html

Snip:

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

Sundays

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.
http://www.safesearching.com/billmaher/print/transcripts.shtml (Note: contains offensive language)

And if you want to read an opposing and supportive view of homeschooling results, go to http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/default.asp

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

Conspiracy

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.

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