Saturday, April 01, 2006

I am very proud to report...

My son won 1st place in his Webelos Den in today's Pinewood Derby. He then went on to the pack champion finals...

and won.

Second year in a row.

He'll be going to districts in May and hopefully he'll do well there. He won that last year.

I am so proud of him.

I am also proud to report that my husband placed 1st in the dad's race. Two women and one boy scout entered the dad's race this year. There were a total of nine entries in the dad's race. I am very evil, but I am proud to report that I won second place and the boy scout won third. We smoked the other five men and the other female den leader in the races. I'm just kind of proud because a WOMAN placed second in the DAD'S race.

After the races, someone came up to me and asked me what was my husband's secret for building fast cars. I said, "Well, WE worked on the cars every night for a few weeks." I think people assume my son did not build his car -- but he did. He designed it, he cut it out on the band saw, he did axle work, he sanded it, he primed it, he painted it, he clear-coated it and he applied the graphite. My husband did help a with the axles and stood over his shoulder for guidance -- but MY SON BUILT HIS CAR.

I designed mine, my husband cut it out, he helped me with the axles and paint, but I did a lot of the work on the car. Really. And I'm NOT making one next year because it was a lot harder than I thought.

So what is our secret for winning? Well, researching good designs -- a thin, flat slab works best. (I chose a wedge because I like them better.) Weights in the back. Straight axles and wheels. Sometimes the wheels that come in the kit stink so you should buy more than one kit. Lots of graphite work and not too much handling before the races. That's all we do. BUT...we work on the cars every night.

Someone else asked me if we actually had fun building the cars. Yep. Every night after supper we would clear the kitchen table and go to work. We did this for a few weeks. I'd call it good quality family time. My son really enjoyed teaching me how to build a car this year.

I am very happy and proud of my son for all his hard work. He did a great job.

Next year I hope they rename the dad's race to an open class race.

Friday, March 31, 2006

For "the circle"

I found something that reminded me of "the circle." I placed it here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The English Language

I know this email has been circulating for years, but it came across my screen recently and I printed it out for my son. We laughed ourselves silly reading it. Actually he laughed at me because I actually read a few of them wrong and had to correct myself.

This may be a fun reading exercise for a rainy day.

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

I did not object to the object.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

I shed my clothes in the shed.

Let's face it - English is a ridiculous language.

There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in a hamburger; neither apple nor pine in a pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England, nor French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which are neither bread nor sweet, but meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that bakers bake, but grocers don't groce?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?

One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? We ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all).

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And finally, how about when you want to shut down your computer you
have to hit "START"?

Label Me This...

This is in response to a thread at odonnellweb.

Don't label me as a Christian homeschooler. I am a Christian, I am a homeschooler, but I do not homeschool for religious reasons. I do not define myself as a Christian homeschooler.

Don't label me as gay. I'm not.

Don't label me as anti-gay. I'm not.

Don't label me as a Marxist. I'm not.

Don't label me as anti-Marxist. I'm not.

Don't label me as an Atheist. I'm not.

Don't label me as an anti-Atheist. I'm not.

Don't label me as a Libertarian. I'm not.

Don't label me as anti-Libertarian. I'm not.

Don't label me as an ACLU Supporter. Sometimes I am, sometimes I am not.

Don't label me as an ACLU hater. I'm not.

Don't label me as an anti-Christian. I am not.

Don't label me as a person who hates people that are different and unique and that have different opinions or ideas, a different faith or lack of faith than I do. I do not hate them.

Go ahead, label me as an
Home-Educating Parent. I am.

Go ahead, label me as someone who is trying to polarize the Christian community. I am someone who is trying to "spread the news" that physically punishing your child is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Go ahead, label me as an action hater. I don't hate people. I hate some of their actions. Hitting a child with a hand or anything else is something I hate.

Don't label me as having a hidden agenda. My agenda is loud and clear: STOP CHILD ABUSE

Do not assume that because we share a belief that Jesus died for our sins, that all our beliefs are the same.

Don't think that I will actually believe this boycott will do no good and will make homeschoolers in general "look" bad.

It is time for "THE OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS" to speak up and out. We're not all denim-jumper-wearing, husband-obeying, blind-faith people. Some of us educate ourselves on issues. Some of us can think for ourselves. Some of us can separate ourselves from our husbands. Case in point, as I blogged earlier, my husband does not support this boycott only due to "the censorship" issue. Because I am a Christian, that does not preclude me from stepping up to the plate and honoring my beliefs. I have a voice. I will use it. If it causes a polarization of the Christian community, so be it. I guarantee it will NOT reflect poorly on the homeschooling community.

The point, though, is that if saves just one child from being hit, then "we" have won the battle. Hopefully it will save many more, I hope we will win the war.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Tonight I experienced discrimination firsthand and didn't recognize it for what it was.
I did recognize it only I thought it was sexism in action.

I was wrong.

I was talking to a man -- rather I was *trying* to talk to a man and give him some very helpful information. Not only did he not give me eye-to-eye contact, he wouldn't look at me when I spoke. Not only did he not look at me when I spoke, he didn't look my direction.

He was short, curt and uppity. He didn't want my help. He didn't want me talking to him. That was very clear.

When my family got home from this activity, I discussed it with my husband. I expressed my opinion that the guy was just being a sexist jerk.

My wise husband smiled and started speaking in a gentle tone. Frankie, he said, sexism was only a small part of it. He didn't want contact with you because you are overweight.

I was floored and about to ask why he thought that. Then it dawned on me. That's why the man couldn't even look at me, because I'm overweight.

I cannot understand how someone can hate someone else because of their body shape. Same with skin color. Same with religion. Same with sexual preference. I could write a million "same with" sentences here. I don't understand discrimination.

Really, I just don't get it.

I think the people that can't look you in the eye and are so closed off to any other ideas than their own are the saddest people that walk the face of the earth. I think they must lead the most miserable lives imaginable. I think they are projecting their own self-hatred and self-doubt onto others. I think they are so full of hate that it eats away at them so they lash out at others in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

I pity them.

My son saw all of this. He also was privy to our conversation after the fact. Another valuable lesson for him. Funny thing is, we don't need to tell him why discrimination in any form is wrong. He knows.

To drive home the lesson, though, I've come up with some vocabulary.

Tomorrow morning's lessons:


discriminate: 2. To make distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit ; show preference or prejudice

unreasonable: Not governed by reason.

preconceived: To form (an opinion, for example) before possessing full or adequate knowledge or experience.

conviction: A fixed or strong belief.

1. a. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
b. A preconceived preference or idea.
2. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions.
3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.
4. Detriment or injury caused to a person by the preconceived, unfavorable conviction of another or others.
tr. v.
1. To cause (someone) to judge prematurely and irrationally.
2. To affect injuriously or detrimentally by a judgment or an act.
1. a. To feel hostility or animosity toward.
b. To detest.
2. To feel dislike or distaste for

pity: Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.

tolerance: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.

Tomorrow I will teach my son to start seriously questioning. Why do some people believe it is good to beat babies with plastic pipe? Why do people hate fat people? Why is there racial discrimination? Why do some religious people do what they do? I'm sure he will come up with a million questions.

Tomorrow I will stress my favorite line for the millionth time: LIVE AND LET LIVE with the caveat: as long as it does no one or thing harm. If it causes harm, fight it like crazy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"When I grow up, I wanna be a..."


My son said this to me today. I'm thinking, what the heck???

I asked him why and he had a good reason.

"Dad said that sometimes health inspectors are given free food. Companies hire them to watch the wait staff to make sure they don't do anything gross like pick their nose when they're serving food. I want to be a health inspector because I want free food."

And there you have it.

Free food.


I have a thing for color. I was just emailing with a friend that I was kicking myself that I didn't buy a ream of pastel pink copy paper at Office Depot when I was there. She wanted to know what I used it for.

Well, I like color. White is boring to me. When I was in high school, I bought colored paper spiral notebooks and my grades shot through the roof. I also bought a set of thin line makers and would come home from school and re-write all my notes in those colored makers. Weird, huh.

I buy little packs of 100-count pastel paper at Kmart. It's expensive compared to buying a ream at an office store. I like them. Pink is the color I do all my planning on. It's easy to find when I'm looking for some specific plans. My son likes the green. All his math facts sheets are in green pastel. Blues and yellows I use for other things, mostly for me.

I bought a pack of "brights" at Sam's Club at the beginning of the year. The red and blue was too dark to do school work on. We printed everything in orange paper at Halloween.

At Walgreen's the other day, I came across a pack of 100-count colored notebook paper. It's not pastel, it's very bright. Tommy's been doing practice math problems on that. He seems to like color as much as I do. I'll have him do his writing on that this summer.

We still use white paper, mostly for mapwork or if I'm out of pastels. The colored paper makes things more fun and peppy.

I read in a book while I was doing research for homeschooling that if children have difficulty focusing, that you should put their favorite color on their desktop. It will help them to focus. I haven't tried that yet, but it is worth a shot. Tommy has troubles with focus if I'm not in the room. Maybe a trip to the dollar store is in order. I could buy a green poster board and put it on the table.

I also like colored 3x5 cards. We don't use a lot of 3x5 cards, but when Tommy's math facts inexplicably escaped his brain last week, I made my own set of flashcards. I asked him which color he'd like his 9's on. Green. I made flashcards for all the upper multiplication and division problems on separate colors. As I started to make them, he requested certain color Sharpie markers. He told me that 9 is green to him. Six is blue. As much as I love color, I have never put colors with numbers.

Is it any wonder that my kitchen is pink, my hall is blue, my bedroom is purple, Tommy's room is yellow and blue? I really do like lots of color all around me.

Spring Planning

I've just been too frustrated to blog lately. That's because I go blog chasing and get disgusted at what I read. (Pro-Pearl garbage.)

School's been going well. We're over that awful spring-fever hump and going strong. I sat down today with a fresh quarter calendar and our books just to map things out a little. I'm not big on doing X the 23rd, Y the 24th, Z the 25th. We take our time with each subject, slowing down if we want to study further, speeding up and covering only the basics if it's boring. Of course we get sidetracked a lot, especially with science. Not sidetracked, but something piques Tommy's interest and we go off on that tangent. And that's okay by me. =)

It looks as if we are going to finish everything by the end of May. Yes!
Much to my son's dismay, though, I've announced we're doing summer school lite. I've talked about it all year so he knew it was coming. He's very upset. Tommy even asked me today if he could do all his work independently on the weekends so he could be finished a couple weeks earlier. lol Yeah, but...we're still doing summer school. With breaks, though. I certainly don't want to do school every single day.

For the summer I'm planning on continuing with math. It's going well but for math facts. Why is it that a child can pass a 100-problem-timed test several days in a row on his math facts and then wake up one morning and all those facts have escaped his brain? Why? WHY? See mom cry. See mom banging her head on the kitchen table. We will drill, practice, play math fact games until they NEVER escape his brain again. Hopefully.

Also on the schedule is a writing program. I didn't actually buy a new program for summer, I'm going to teach him about some of the different types of writing and then have him start outlining and writing five-paragraph essays. I might also have him do the American History writing program (forget the name, but it's by the Logos school) that I bought and we never used. Ahem. I hope my husband doesn't find out about that, he'll get ticked. He thinks I spend too much on school.
Finally on the summer agenda, science and lots of it. I'm still in the beginning planning stages, but I see lots of mini-units in our future. Lots of outside nature stuff. Lots of experiments. My son has requested a garden. We still have plenty of time to plan the garden, we still have snow on the ground -- plus it snowed again today.
Might throw in a weather station, too. Oh, and astronomy...oh the possibilities.

We tore up the check to Uncle Milton's and have decided to order our hermit crabs from Carolina Biological instead. We're going to be ordering a butterfly kit too. Hopefully we'll find some tadpoles at one of our lakes.

I like the planning stage as much as the carrying-it-out part. My plan is to make summer school seem as if it's not school at all, but lots of fun. If only I could make math fun.