Saturday, September 30, 2006
Now, I'm old and humble enough to know it wasn't me that he was looking at. If he was, it was because my shirt buttons had popped open (nope) or my hair was sticking up funny. OH, it dawned on me, he's looking at Anna! My 13 year old Anna.
"He's looking at you, Anna," I said.
"Yeah," she smiled. "I know."
"Gees, and he has a woman in the car with him. Quick, smile and flash your braces at him so he knows you're jail bait."
Lord, I'm in for a time of it, aren't I?
Friday, September 29, 2006
And they make you taller to boot (no pun intended)! I won't have to have that operation to stretch my legs longer after all! Wonder what the ladies at church would think?
I had to go browsing on this site. What a hoot! Look at all the dress up clothes for women. Lots of fantasy stuff there for the guys. You can dress your woman as a maid, school girl, geisha girl, bunny, cat, French maid, pirate wench, and on and on. Now, look at the men's selection. Of the very few costumes, there are only six variations, whereas the women's section has multiple pages. (And a Hugh Hefner outfit? Yuck! Can you get any more icky than that??) Obviously, it doesn't matter what the guy wears. Rather amusing. Evidently, there are too many people with disposable income.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
What really made me mad though is that with a chemical engineering degree, and just two students, more likely the chemicals would be safer with me than in a room full of thirty teenagers and a biology teacher. Oh, well, it's a crazy world.
I ended up buying a forensics lab from Carolina Biological that covers the concepts we are studying right now: carbohydrates, polysaccharides and enzymes. Lauren, who loves the show "Bones", will be much more interested in detecting saliva on "evidence" than she would be seeing if she could squeeze more juice out of applesauce. It looks fun.
I'm, in the meantime, trying to find my humor that's gone missing with a husband in the middle of peak season, gone most days dark to dark, teens that consider me their personal driver and social director, and a little boy that suddenly developed a fever this afternoon.
Monday, September 25, 2006
So, yesterday I submitted to adding another year to my age. It was an enjoyable day spent with my family. While I took the girls to church, dh and Wm went to the grocery and returned with steak, corn on the cob, salad and "a surprise" for my birthday.
Wm announced as soon as they returned that they had a surprise for me but he wasn't allowed to tell what it was. I was impressed with his ability to keep the surprise. I tried several times to trick him into telling me, but he was on his game. I was reminded of my sister, many years ago, who also was told not to tell her Daddy what his present was. Immediately on coming into the house, she ran to Dad and said, "Daddy, I'm not allowed to tell you that we got you socks for your birthday! It's a secret!" My secret prize was a DQ chocolate ice cream cake which calls to my expanding waistline even as I type this morning. It screams to me telepathically to be released from it's freezer prison.
Before dinner, we all went to ride at a nearby arena, all five of us riding at one time, a dream of mine I'd had for a long time, come true. My daughters treated me to a back and foot massage as their present to me. All in all, a perfect day. Perhaps birthdays aren't so bad.
Sometimes, such events are hard for me. On the one hand, it is the company that pays the bills, the company that in normal times, gives dh the job he really likes. Yet, in this peak, pre-Christmas season, it's the company that steals his time, takes him body and mind. Here's the manager, sitting across from me in the large white tent, who I've heard stories about, who sometimes makes waves that ripple across dh's desk. I smiled my plastic smile, but I didn't have to like him.
A crisis was in progress even as we looked at snakes and spiders in the HerpAquarium. The blackberry on his belt beeped and called him away. I listened as he tried to rearrange schedules and deal with another crisis and the vampire bats in their glass cages drank blood. I could not help drawing a comparison. I wish I could save him from this stress.
We walked outside to view other animals and the heavens opened and it poured like a monsoon in the far East. We admitted defeat and returned home. In the end, we got six inches of rain. Dh's father and brother came to visit that night, and we went to an Irish restaurant for dinner to warm our insides with good, thick carbohydrates to try to banish the rain from our bones.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Anyway, I'm at Walmart and see that all of their purses fall into the teenage genre of purses. Either impossibly tiny or enormously big, I can just see the girls with their bellybutton piercings, bleached hair and these purses. Where are the purses for the I-don't-want-to-look-like-a-mom-but-don't-want-to-look-14-but-don't-have-$50-to-spend-on-a-purse purses? There were several that were large enough to hold a laptop, if I had one, that is. I finally settled on a not too large black leather purse that had a pocket for my cell. It matches my black leather jacket but I fear makes me look like a biker chick. Perhaps I'll get a tatoo.
My mom visited yesterday and looked at it in dismay. I don't have much in it yet, and it hangs limp like a bra someone bought too big and no chest to fill it. She held up her proper brown alligator skin bag, and suggested a little more taste in my selection next time. Well, I'm not quite ready for the alligator track yet. Maybe I'll get a motorcyle to go with my purse.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Lately, he's been analyzing and questioning the source of his food. Perhaps he's heard that spinach can kill? No, he's been asking about meat. Recently, he turned down steak, nicely grilled and seasoned, after we told him in response to his inquiry, that the meat came from a cow. I don't go into detail with the kids when young, but neither do I lie. Someone killed the cow and now, we are going to eat it. Except for William. He refused to eat the cow.
That brings us to this evening. I made fried chicken for dinner. William is eating shredded cheese. He won't eat the chicken after I answered his questions:
Me: It didn't come from one of our chickens. It was a chicken raised for meat.
W: It didn't have a head or feet?
Me: (internal laugh) No, it no longer has a head or feet.
W: Someone cut it's head off?
(I am smelling the wonderful smell of fried chicken and not enjoying thinking about this.)
Me: Yes, someone did.
W: How'd they get all the blood out?
Me: It comes out when they cut off it's head.
W: I'm not eating it.
Me: I'm not asking you to, but it's what you had for lunch.
W: No, that was a different type of chicken. Not real chicken.
As we sat eating our meal, he reached over for one piece. "Welllllllllllll......I guess I'll try one piece." He actually tried two small bites, but his face frowned in ethical objection. He spit it out in a gross gesture to the floor where the dogs waited in eager anticipation of pre-chewed food. Wm ate no more chicken.
Having hand-raised chickens and sat with them eye-to-eye, laughed at them and called them by name, Wm is giving up chicken he says. Will it last? Or is it just MY chicken?
My girls, having had their carnivorous habits firmly established before we had any chickens, have considered the option of vegetarianism, having several friends who are, for various reasons. But both say that though they'd like to be in a way, they like meat too much to give it up. They can, and did recently, devour a whole 2 pounds made into beef jerky in one day.
Wm will still eat meat that he's not recognized yet as having come from an animal. For example, he ate Polish kielbasa yesterday and loved it. Speaking of chickens, it's dark, and I must go shut their cages before something does eat them.
Four year olds, however, sense that you have a lot going on somehow, a radar for non-attention by the Mommy. The image that comes to mind is in some movie who's title I've forgotten (is it Alien?) when the octopus-like creature jumps out at the human and is attached to the human's face so that he can't breathe. Today, if Wm. could attach himself to my face, he would. He can't seem to get enough attention or holding. Now, you are probably wondering how I'm typing this? Well, as I type, he is climbing in my lap. He says:
"I love you so much, Mommy. I love you so much I want to be with you."
I guess everything else can wait, eh?
Sunday, September 17, 2006
No, I replied, he's alive and well. Aiden's grandpa died. The boys had been in the backseat of the car, and I'd heard the following conversation.
W: There's a dead squirrel.
A: My paw-paw died.
W: He did? Why'd he die?
A: He was old and sick.
W: Do you miss him?
A: Yes, but it's okay.
W: I miss Juno (our dog that died).
So, Wm. thinking paw-paw meant papa reported that the father, not grandfather died. Dh, somewhat shocked but disbelieving (because surely I would have told him immediately), asked if Aiden were crying, if Aiden's mommy was crying.
"No," Wm reported.
"Weren't they sad?" Dh continued to try to correct the story.
"No, it's okay," Wm answered.
After I explained that the grandpa had died, Dh asked if they were going out of town, would I watch their animals. Well, the grandpa died several months ago (which I had told dh at the time), so no, I wasn't.
Glad to report that Rod is in excellent health.
If you are a woman and your dh just told you this, your first question would be "why"? If you had been talking to the neighbor, you would have found some easy, not-too-nosey way to say, "oh? did you change your mind?" and that would open the door to more conversation in which you would satisfy your curiosity.
Returning inside, I asked dh why the neighbor wasn't moving. "I don't know, I didn't ask him. I don't really care."
I guess it's a guy thing. Now, I'll never know.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wm: What's that place there?
Me: They sell stuff.
Me: Yeah, junk people don't want anymore.
(I hear him in the back seat whispering: stuff-junk, stuff-junk)
Wm: I thought you said "skunk".
Me: No, stuff, junk.
Wm: You know if you take a rifle and point it at your neck and pull the trigger, you'll die.
Me: Uh, yes.
Wm: Do people eat skunks? (We're back to the skunks.)
Wm: Why not?
Me: Well, the meat is probably not good, and skunks stink.
Wm: You could shoot it with a rifle.
Me: Yes, but the skunk would still stink.
Wm: You could put confume (perfume) on it.
Me: You could.
Wm: You could shoot a deer or a skunk with a rifle.
Me: Yes, but why would you want to shoot the deer?
Wm: Maybe if someone was hungry. They could eat it.
Me: (bleeding heart animal lover) Won't the deer's mommy be sad?
Wm: (future hunter?) She's probably already dead from someone shooting a rifle. You could shoot either a deer or a skunk with a rifle, couldn't you?
He nods his head knowingly, confident we've completed this train of though which all started at a junk shop.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
While you're at it, you can do the wild-animals-foaming-at-the-mouth "trick"- it's the old volcano using baking soda and vinegar, except that you mix together baking soda, citric acid (powder) and powdered sugar (to make it a bit palatable). Add a tiny bit of food colouring and put a teaspoon of it inthe mouth. The saliva in the mouth causes the reaction, and of course youdon't want to swallow this (not that it'll harm you if you do however), soyou just foam at the mouth, in whatever colour you chose. Messy, but fun.
So, being the total fool that I am, I tried it:
Thank you to my friend Christine for being willing to photograph my more glamourous moments. (Anyone have Katie Couric's Photoshop editor to work on my facial lines?)
And my adventurous Lauren also tried it:
I'm not quite sure what learning we accomplished, but we did have fun.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Yet, in today’s world, I cannot help but wonder what we are doing spending billions and billions going back into space. The Europeans are heading to the moon again. We are hoping to put humans on Mars.
There is much news about global warming, but very little news about what they’re doing about it. Alaska is melting, “which may be triggering a self-perpetuating climate time bomb”, Greenland is dumping fresh water into the ocean which may cause Europe to cool, and any day, you can drive to the nearest big city and see a dirty, brown cloud over it.
Yah know what I think? I think the people in power, those with money, those in Congress, are planning to leave. Yup, and though I’m fit for space flight, (Are you? Take a quiz.) I haven’t the more than 20 million dollars it takes to book a berth, like this woman. And do you think they’ll take us peons? No, you’ll have to pay for a spot. The scientists and politicians, they know this planet is doomed, and they’re planning to colonize somewhere else, only they’re not saying, and they’re not taking you!
So here’s my plan. Let’s take all the billions of dollars they are spending on the space station and space programs, and use the money on alternate energy programs. We can start with the government buildings. They sure use a lot of hot air. We could install solar panels on the houses of lower income people, so they can use money spent on utilities for more interesting things, like food. We could build light rail systems. Now there’s a novel idea. We could actually move away from dependence on oil!
Let’s take some of those billions and feed the starving babies I see in the news, give medicine to the AIDS victims, who leave those babies orphaned. Let’s use some to give people clean drinking water. Let’s use it to save what we have now, instead of trying to find a way out.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
And whom, I asked him, do you think will build that wall? The Mexicans, of course. No one else would work for low wages in the hot Texas climate doing thankless work. And did he think that the builders wouldn’t know every inch of it and tell their friends the best place to cross over?
Does he think a wall will stop them? An image flashes of National Guardsmen atop the wall with vats of boiling oil. These people are willing to cross the ocean in a boat made for half the number of people on it to get to our shores. They are willing to risk death in the back of a hot truck. Come to think of it, when did a wall stop anyone? The Appalachian, and later Rocky Mountains, natural walls, did not stem the flow of white settlers into Native American territory even at the risk of a deadly attack.
No, the wall is a breadcrumb thrown from our politicians’ tables to appease us, make us think they have a plan. At the same time, their gardens and houses are kept by Hispanic people. They clean our barns and build our fences. They become part of our community.
Until and unless we admit our need for such workers, and try to become part of a solution to the problem that makes them leave their own part of the world to support their families, they will come.
Dad thinks they’ll take over “the world”, his world. And maybe they will. Maybe, hundreds of years from now, everyone in this part of the world will speak Spanish, just as hundreds of years prior, no one spoke English here. In the meantime, I’ll try to learn a few Spanish words and bring a smile to the face of someone far from home.
Friday, September 08, 2006
A four year old is old enough to do things for himself, yet young enough to still need you.
Four is old enough to play independently, but love still to sit in your lap.
A four year old can communicate well, but still has a few baby words to cherish, like maz-a-gine (magazine), to make you laugh.
A four year old (without a cast) is old enough to walk, but young enough to pick up. Nothing feels like the warm, loving hand on the back of your neck while you hold him.
A four year old can go to the bathroom by himself, but is young enough to still go in the Women's restroom where you can see him.
A four year old can (almost) sleep through the night, but is young enough to still sometimes fall asleep in your arms.
A four year old can dress himself, but isn't old enough to know that orange pants with a purple turtle shirt isn't cool.
A four year old is old enough to not cry when they cut off his cast, but young enough to stir your sympathy when he shakes like a leaf.
A four year old likes to sit in your lap while you read, and can laugh at the book. He's not old enough that you worry yet about how well he is learning to read.
A four year old is still young enough to enjoy finding a cool worm, but old enough not to eat it.
And yes, there are moments when he asserts his grown up self that we all grrrrrrrrrr through our teeth. Still, I see our four year old slipping away into a five year old. It won't be long now and it won't be cool to be your mama's boy. Cherish the days.
Note: William did indeed have his cast removed today. The bone is healing well. He trembled as they removed it, but did not cry. He laughs that it feels funny, and says he can walk now, but has to go slowly. It'll take a few weeks. And, he's shedding his skin (yuck!).
Notice Chicken Lickin' in the foreground with her three babies.
I was struck by the quietness of the inside of the house. No refrigerator, no electricity. The first man who lived there ran a bed and breakfast. He'd built the house for his sweetheart, but it took so long that she was engaged already when he went to ask for her hand, and he never married. The second family had eleven children, all homeschooled. There is something about the time period that calls to me, although most likely I'd have been a servant or slave!
Here are the kids on the back lawn with the Ohio River in the background:
And here's Wm's first job as an archaeologist:
We saved some for the next day, and while out bowling for chickens, they all suddenly lost their appetite. At first, I thought the presence of the dogs was bothering them, until a shadow crossed the driveway. Looking up, I saw a red-tailed hawk, trailed by a turkey vulture, both looking for dinner. Minutes later, the hawk was joined by five of his friends, circling our backyard. What am I - the Colonel? We are not serving KFC here.
Dh wondered if we could put fake beaks on the Chins (very small dogs) and pass them off as chickens. The kids would really appreciate seeing their pets being flown off by large birds. Hawks are beautiful and facinating, but from the point of view of a chicken, terrifying. It must make their blood run cold. I wonder if they'll be back?
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
William reports that he cannot possibly eat his dinner, as his belly is full, but there is room for one doughnut. Two more days until his cast comes off!! Yeah!! He is nervous about having it removed given his history with cutting implements.
Tomorrow, we'll be going on an archaeological dig at the Farnsley-Moreman Landing.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
Contrast this with David Albert in Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery: A Journey of Original Seeking in which he writes:
“Let me let you in on a dirty little secret. All children, in a literate culture, learn to read. “
With the exceptions of children with developmental or learning disabilities, children in abusive situations or children in literature poor environments, all children will learn to read. Granted, they will learn at different ages, in different ways and for different reasons. Some children learn early, pleasing their parents with their genius. Others, at age ten, barely read and worry the adults around them until one day, they pick up high school level material that interests them and off they go!
How do I personally know this? William asked the other day for a "maz-a-gine" with just words to read while he ate his lunch. (At age four, he knows a few letters, and definitely cannot read in the traditional sense of the word.) He asked me to give him one without pictures. I tried a Highlights Magazine. No, it had drawings in it. Smithsonian? It has only a few photos. No, he wanted one that had just words.
I had to laugh. He’s seen his sisters sit and read as they ate their lunches, and was imitating them, looking at words that as yet had no meaning. But surrounded by books and maz-a-gines, he knows reading is a desirable and valued activity, even if he can only imitate it.
I am often asked how I got my girls to be such avid readers. I remember being laughed at for reading to Lauren while she was still so young that she could not sit up. And as they got older, anytime they wanted lap time, we read and read and read. I took crates of books from the library, which we visited weekly. They saw me read, they saw their dad read.
As David Albert says:
“Children cannot be taught to read; at best, we make it possible for them to learn to read (and that’s probably being charitable)”
“We do not have to train children to learn, or even account for their learning; all we have to do is avoid interfering with it.”
Links: Metacognition, What does thinking have to do with reading?, and finally, how to totally take the joy out of reading
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I find it interesting that this has caused such a brew-ha-ha. Newsweek reported in it's September 4th issue that the opening of the Rose Center in 2000 with only eight planets depicted in their solar system exhibit resulted in "a flood of angry letters from second graders". Now, really, do you think that second graders initiated this protest? No, adults, reluctant to let go of the surety of the facts they were taught in school put them up to it. Knowing that what you know is exactly the truth is comforting, but not always the truth.
As a homeschooler, over the years one of the most prevalent of the many questions I'm asked about our lifestyle include "How do you know they're learning what they're supposed to?"
What they're supposed to learn decided by professional educators, not how they are to incorporate learning as a lifestyle. Education is often thought of something you attain, rather than something you live. Until we, as a culture learn to view education as a lifelong journey of discovery, rather than a list of Presidents and planets, our educational systems will fail to reach our greatest expectations.
Testing has become a big business, assuring parents that the children are being taught all the right things and how the school is doing. Even in Dr. Seuss' book Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, students shudder that they "must take a special test, To see who's learning such and such - To see what school's the best." Schools not doing well are sent to miserable Flobbertown. But Miss Bonkers assures the students:
You've learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more-
I'm certain you'll succeed.
We've taught you that the earth is round.
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more-
We've taught you how to think.
And of course, they lived happily ever after in Diffendoofer after passing the test and exceeding expectations. I can only feel sad, however, for all the Flubbertowners still memorizing the
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