Friday, January 13, 2006

Female Cycles

Was a good week for school, aside from the fact I screwed up our schedule yesterday and did Fun Friday on Thursday and had a regular day today. DS was not overly happy about that today.

Was a bad week for me. It seems the older I get, the more I have problems with George. George is TOM or Aunt Flo. (Why can't I be mature enough to call it what it is rather than a stupid nickname!) Why my sister and I call it George I do not know. That was my mom's name and it always insulted her. No bad intentions were ever meant. My sister just called it that, I copied everything she did, and the name just stuck.

I was a raging bear all week. Literally. The PMS is getting really, really bad. I just feel like exploding. So if I start to get a little out of line, a little too snarky for my family, they might say something -- and then I give a lion's roar, or pretend I'm a bear until we all laugh. Still, I'm just a bear on the inside. Nothing was fun, although I'm good at faking (think being positive and happy for a child's sake there!) I even lost interest in doing Sudokus, which I had been doing several daily.

Today the pain started. I've read that Ibuprofin is not good for your heart. But so help me, I'm finally able to understand the women who are out of commission for two-five days. If I don't take it, I can't move. I have to move, I have school to teach -- well, a little mind to guide and nurture.

My husband is astonishingly wonderful during my monthly ordeals. He cooks supper because he knows I hate to cook. He entertains DS when the slightest sounds, such as breathing too loudly, annoy me. Today he moved to sainthood status because he did the weekly grocery shopping. Today he was removed from sainthood status because he started counting how many times I said, "I don't feel well. " (He got to six within two hours of being home from work.) "They" say that men are complainers and whiners when they are sick. Well, my husband is not, but I am. I've always had a big chuckle out of that, I'm sure *he* hasn't."

So why discuss "my monthlies" with the world? Just to show the daily life of a homeschooling mom. It's a topic that has been discussed on numerous homeschool boards time and time again. The first time I saw it mentioned, I was shocked. Now I just laugh. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Here's a cute joke on the subject.

THE GOOD NAPKINS...ahhhhh...the joys of having girls...My mother taught me to read when I was four years old (her first mistake)... One day, I was in the
bathroom and noticed one of the cabinet doors was ajar. I read the box in the cabinet. I then asked my mother why she was keeping 'napkins' in the bathroom.
Didn't they belong in the kitchen? Not wanting to burden me with unnecessary facts, she told me that those were for "special occasions" (her second
mistake). Now fast forward a few months....It's Thanksgiving Day, and My folks are leaving to pick up my uncle and his wife for dinner. Mom had assignments for all of us while they were gone. Mine was to set the
table.When they returned, my uncle came in first and immediately burst into laughter. Next came his wife who gasped, then began giggling. Next came my
father, who roared with laughter. Then
came Mom, who almost died of embarrassment when she saw. Each place setting on the table with a "special
occasion" napkin at each plate, with the fork carefully
arranged on top. I had even tucked the little tail in so they didn't hang off the edge!! My mother asked me why I used these and, of course, my response sent
the other adults into further fits of laughter. But, Mom, you SAID they were for special occasions!!!"

Isn't it easier to just tell the truth????????? Pass
this on to Girlfriends who need a good laugh!

And here's another over-used favorite.

This story takes place in (where else?) San Francisco. A happy, hip, happening woman living in SF has to endure a visit from her mother, a prim and proper matronly sort from somewhere in the Midwest. The mother is in the throes of menopause, apparently very cranky and physically uncomfortable, what with hot flashes and the like, and the daughter, in an effort to help but probably also to get mom out of the house for awhile, suggests that the mother visit her gynecologist. Mom is not fond of the idea of visiting a gynecologist in a strange city. But after the daughter assures her that the man is thoughtful, kind, humorous and sweet and implores her to go just to make sure everything is okay, the mother reluctantly assents and makes an appointment.
The morning of the appointment, mother is VERY nervous and in preparation takes a shower AND a bath, deodorant head to toe, FDS vaginal spray, the whole nine yards, and heads to the gynecologist.

Mom's in the stirrups, the doctor's mucking about down there, and he looks up, fixes her with a funny smile and says, "Looks like we've got ourselves a PARTY GIRL!!"

Mother is shocked, to say the least. "What... what did you say??!!!"

He grins even wider. "I said, 'Looks like we've got ourselves a PARTY GIRL!'" and this is accompanied by a smirk and a wink.

Mom is flabbergasted and doesn't utter another word for the balance of the exam, hastily dresses and runs out while avoiding his glance.

Later that evening, the daughter returns home from work, inquires how the appointment went, and the mother says, "You have a very rude doctor! He called me a party girl!"

"A what?"

"A party girl!" Mom is sniffling now. "Why would he call me that?"

"I don't know, it's very out of character for him..." the daughter puzzles. "There must be some reason. Think back. Did you say anything, maybe?"

"No!" The mother bristles. "I didn't say anything like that!"

"Come on, think back. What did you do before the appointment?"

"Well," the mother sniffs, "I was VERY conscientious with my hygiene. I took a bath AND a shower. I used your deodorant and FDS — I hope you don't mind — and then I got dressed, and..."

"Mom!" the daughter interrupts. "Mom, I don't have any FDS."

The mother is silent. They both head to the bathroom where the mother points out what she mistook for FDS. It wasn't. It was orange glitter hair spray from the previous Halloween.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sign of the Beaver

We finished our last book and we enjoyed our reading together so much that we started Sign of the Beaver together. We were hooked immediately, DS loved it! Instead of going on with what I had planned, we just kept reading.

I was playing with him a little bit. While we're snuggled up in the big chair together, reading out loud, I got an idea. Suddenly I started almost whispering the words. Not long and DS was too. We kept going at the same pace, but then I'd get really loud. DS would get loud. Then I'd stop and he'd read a few words then stop dead in his tracks and look at me. I played this game for awhile, chuckling at how suggestive my influence was on him.

Anyway, we both got really engrossed in the story. We read eight chapters together. At about chapter six, I noticed DS was clinging to my arm and not reading. I think he had quit at chapter 5 because he was so engrossed. I stopped reading and he picked up. Then we both laughed because he realized he hadn't been reading, but he didn't want the story to stop.

I have learned a lot about his reading skills this week by reading in unison. I think we'll continue to do it every day, even though I'll still have him read on his own. He's somewhat of a slow reader -- like me, he takes his time as he is soaking it all up. However, with our reading in unison I am able to set the pace -- and I've been speeding things up just a tad, scanning ahead for trouble words and slowing down right before we get to them.

Today after we put the book down, DS gave me a big hug. He then asked if he could have the chair we were sitting in when he grows up. I asked him why and he said because I've made it very special for him and he never wants to forget our reading adventures together. Ahhhh, music to a mother's heart.

I'm losing it...

All day we've been doing our "Friday fun school" schedule as opposed to our academic Thursday schedule. I thought it was Friday. I was wrong. What *am* I thinking?

Shees! I will say this is not the first time I've lost track of what day it was. I was never this way before we started homeschooling. Maybe it's a good thing that I'm not so worried about times/dates now.

How embarrassing, though! Guess we'll have two fun Fridays this week.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Our local public schools have a fourth-grade class project centering on the book Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. Because my son is friends with many public schoolers, I decided to have him read this book. Instead of reading it on his own, I thought it would be a good idea to read it out loud, together, snuggled up in our chair. I felt I could check his reading skills by doing this. (He's reading better than I thought he was!)

We are loving this book. We can't stop at just one chapter. We started last Friday and have averaged four chapters in one sitting.

Tonight I decided to check online for any teachers guides for this book. Wow, I think this is an extremely popular choice nationally for fourth graders. After clicking on several websites, I felt rather annoyed rather than inspired.

We have often used a book as a jumping off point for learning new things. We read with a dictionary next to us, an atlas, colored pencils and paper. We have great discussions when reading books together. I cannot for the life of me, though, figure out why schools drag this out to a six- to seven-week project.

I have found worksheet after worksheet, chapter by chapter, with questions about the book. As I'm reading through these questions I'm thinking that these worksheets will very quickly drain the love of reading from a child.

How could it take six to seven weeks to read one book? Why over analyze it. If it took me that long to read one book, I'd tire of it rather quickly and find it a chore. This is such a good book we just can't read it fast enough.

Now this takes me back to my high school and college days. I could never understand *why* we had to analyze everything to death. Really, can't we just read the book and enjoy it? Can't we form our own meanings of the book rather than relying on the teacher's? Can't we think for ourselves?

Awhile back I watched one episode of a show called Tommy Lee goes to College. Dare I admit I watched that? It was actually very entertaining. In Tommy Lee's English class, he had to analyze why the author of the book he was reading wrote what he wrote. He shook his head and said, "That's like asking me why I wrote Girls, Girls, Girls. I just did." Could it possibly be that the author was just writing a story with just the reason for wanting to write the story?

Maybe I'm being overly critical. I just don't like analyzing books to death. So I think I'm going to continue to do it my way -- reading, enjoying, keeping a dictionary and atlas close at hand, and loving every minute of it. I'll have DS do artwork from the story on what his version of the Island of Blue Dolphins looks like. And that will be that. Hopefully he'll have memories of a good book, quality time with his mom, the opportunity for him to create his art and a few new vocabulary words.
Our comprehension work comes at the kitchen table. At supper, we share what we did in school that day, and he tells the story in his own words to dad of what we read. He is asked questions for detail.

Do we really need to do more? I think this is the one and only big book project of our local fourth grade. Why limit a child to one good book?


I am completely drained.

If you have kids in scouts or other programs where a volunteer puts the program together, *thank* that volunteer for all his/her time and effort.

I am a den leader for my son's Webelos cub scouts. I have nine den meetings left until the end of the school year. Ten for next year until DS crosses over (to boy scouts, if he chooses.) Believe me, I'm counting down!

If I did not homeschool, this would be no problem. I take so much time putting a quality program together, it just exhausts me. It takes away from our school time on den meeting days, too.

However, I give thanks to Butch's blog, because it has given me inspiration and permission to relax somewhat. If you get the chance, visit her blog, scroll down a ways and on the right is a section entitled Classical Unschooling. I have read those about three times now, and I'll probably re-read several times again.

So today, as I was doing my last-minute (or hours, really) preparations for scouts, I had DS listen to his SOTW CD which he can listen to for hours. He did, today, for hours. He also had his art book out and did some art. He also played with legos while listening. It's amazing because he really retains things he listens to on CD. He is really enjoying the CD. I was relaxed about working on scouts today while he was learning history. Normally I'm freaking out that we aren't doing X, Y or Z. Today I was able to breathe easy and relax. Thanks, Butch, for the inspiration.

I always cringed when someone mentioned unschooling. That's because I had a local friend who was an unschooler. The problem was that she was not an unschooler in reality, she was a non-schooler. She was a veteran homeschooler with years under her belt. She didn't do squat. She decided to put her last two kids in public school this year. Before she did that, she had to have a crash course this summer teaching her daughter math and fractions so that she wouldn't be behind in school. That's because they never did math.

So whenever I heard the term "unschooling" I always thought of the fundie friend. Butch's blog has finally described unschooling in a way that I can respect. Although I will never be an unschooler, as I'm too sequential and linear, as is my son, I *will* adapt some of the methodology. I will relax a bit. I will not stress out any more on scouts days.

I think I shall call it a night and crash.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I'm ready for Monday this time

I had a kicking weekend. I got so much done!

  1. Christmas stuff all down, packed and put away!
  2. 11 loads of laundry sorted, washed, folded or hung, and put away!
  3. Living room completely deep cleaned, vacuumed, dusted, furniture moved, etc. Whoa!
  4. Kitchen almost completely cleaned. Still have to dig out one chair that I store school stuff in.
  5. School planned for next week,
  6. Menus made, groceries bought and put away.
  7. Three huge photos 14x16? of three of my second- great-grandparents framed and hung. I've had these 130 year-old photos for three and a half years!
  8. Halfway done planning next week's cub scout meeting. I hate to admit but I'm getting really sick of planning cubscout meetings. Only nine months left, woo-hoo.
  9. Called my dad and checked in on him.
  10. (Edited because this one wasn't nice.)
  11. Called and checked on my sister.
  12. Completed at least 15 sudokus.
  13. Helped DS clean his room.
  14. Played the Sims2 with DS. (Gag, I just don't like computer games. What we won't do for kids.)
  15. Went "shopping" in my house and finally found something to put under the breakfast bar counter to store our homeschool books on, so I don't continue using the chair.
  16. Allowed DS to sled in his friend across the street for hours yesterday and today.
  17. Snuck my latest Book Closeouts order into the house so DH wouldn't see and hid the new books on the bookshelf. Sometimes I wish that the mail was not delivered on Saturdays. I was almost caught! ;-)
  18. Surfed way too much, although it was more entertaining than tv.
  19. Watched big, fluffy, gorgeous snowflakes falling from the sky.
  20. I didn't fight with DH once. Woo-hoo, he was on his best behavior. lol

I am ready for Monday morning. My hope is DS will have as good a week as he did last week. Bring it on.

Thoughts on Sago

I've been wanting to write about this since the tragedy but just couldn't bring myself to do so. Here I sit, thinking about it yet again.

I'm not much of a TV watcher, but when I heard about the explosion, I turned CNN on and tried to keep up to date. I went to bed Tuesday night after watching CNN the entire evening in my kitchen, while working on Cub Scouts stuff and homeschool stuff. I took a sleeping pill which normally would knock me out cold. It didn't. My husband came to bed after 11 and I finally got out of bed, snuck outside for a quick smoke, then turned CNN on again.

Immediately flashing in front of my eyes: 12 Alive! I rushed in to tell my husband, who was not following and didn't care to the degree that I did. I then ended up watching CNN until almost 3am. I saw the whole thing unfold. I saw Lynette Roby and her children interviewed.

I thought to myself that is something I would have got my DS out of bed for, to go celebrate and be a part of history. How ironic that Ms. Roby ended up making history by breaking it to us first that they had not all survived. She became a part of history. A sad part. Her children had to witness that. What a life lesson for them.

As I watched this all unfold, though, I tried putting myself in the shoes of the families...waiting on pins and needles for any news. What would that feel like? I just can't imagine the horror of the situation, let alone the salt being poured in the wound like it was.

I don't think "the company" was at fault except that they should have got off their butt and to the church immediately to set the record straight. That was wrong. However, I do know they were working hard, going without sleep, etc. They were worried and they cared. It is obvious I had great compassion for the family, but I had compassion for Mr. Hatfield as well. I don't think the company was malicious in their actions, I think they were not thinking clearly.

But here's my final analysis of the entire situation. Keep your mouth shut. No matter how exciting, now matter how wonderful, no matter how devastating: keep your mouth shut. I have no doubt that the company gave the directive that no one was to share information. However, someone who heard the news just couldn't keep their mouth shut.

When I was a kid, I was reading Reader's Digest. There was a story about a mother teaching her child on how not to gossip. She likened it to a visitor leaving their wallet at the house mistakenly. She told the child, would you go through that wallet beyond finding identification? Would you take things out? Would you spend the money in the wallet? Would you share it with other people? The child said no, never. The mother explained it is the same situation when you hear something that is supposed to be confidential. You do not go through it, you do not share it, you do not spend or spread it. You keep it to yourself until the proper owner tells you to do otherwise.

I worked in a profession for 11 years where confidentiality was critical. I never blabbed anything. Shoot, I was even on CNN for three seconds once. (Got phone calls from friends across the country that saw me, even! My only claim to fame. lol) I needed to be trusted and I honored that need. I wouldn't even discuss a case when we were out to lunch, even though I was with coworkers including my boss, because we were in a public forum and the information could be overheard. It floored me that the boss was talking about it.

I think that a valuable lesson on trust is interwoven in this horrible Sago tragedy. I hope people stop and think about it. People feel very powerful when they *know* something. Don't throw trust out the window!

My heart goes out to the families and community in West Virginia. I hope and yes, pray, that Randal McCloy has a good recovery.

And on a final note, just a quick thank you to the miners of the world.

Lynch Mob Mentality

The troll at "the" board last night really brought out a lynch mob mentality. That was very scary to me. People weren't using common sense, were angry and felt embarrassed and were really going after troll. The names, phone numbers and addresses being posted plus cries for CPS involvement, for someone local to follow up on this woman -- that's what I refer to as lynch mob.

So what? So we had a troll. So the troll messed with us. I still say some good came from it, such as talks with kids about important things. Another wonderful poster's ban was lifted from the board. YEAH.

I can't believe that people wanted to report this troll to CPS. My question is: what is her crime? How did she harm her kids? We don't even know if she was a she. However, I would highly suspect that troll really was a HS mom. The troll knew too much about HSing, she had the lingo down.

Is it really mentally unstable to be a troll? Well, I do think you need to be off to be so "inventive." But trolls are all over the internet. This was mild compared to things that have happened other places online.

I am really saddened by the way some people just turned so quickly into a lynch mob. I just kept thinking in our country we are innocent until proven guilty. People were forgetting common sense, how to use proper channels. They were being reactionary.

Oh, what a night. It's all been deleted. That's a good thing.