Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Big Day

I am officially a college student. Here's how the first day went:

6:45- Woke up. As in, A.M. Yes, I know, shocking, really.

7:00- Dressed and presentable, I sat down to breakfast and a short assignment for my online english class.

7:30- Wondered why Hubster's phone alarm sounded different.

7:31- Wondered why Hubster was roaming the house, nekkid.

7:32- Searching house for D's folder. Secretly hoping Hubster got a taste of why I don't drag children out of bed. Ever.

7:35- Leave Hubster looking for missing folder.

7:40- Wonder how many light changes I'll sit through before I get to turn the corner.

7:50- Think to self, "Self, you should maybe get out of the house earlier"

7:51- Park car and hike approximately 4 miles up hill in the snow blazing sun humid early dawn.

7:59- Walk into mostly full class room and take a seat behind large youth wearing a baseball cap.

7:59:30- Realize I should have studied and tried to pass to a higher Math placement. Remedial math=remedial student types. Got that equation down just DANDY Mr. College Professor, sir.

8:05- What's that sickeningly sweet smell?

8:10- Large youth with baseball cap seems to be sweating now, the smell is getting stronger.

8:15- Realize that I am either going to throw up, or pass out, or both.

8:16- Entertain the thought that I might be having a panic attack instead.

8:17- Realize that, no, I am in fact, about to throw up.

8:17:10- The air conditioning kicks on.

8:17:30-8:45- Squirm uncomfortably through a remedial fractions lesson.

8:50- Class dismissed. I go searching for something to ease my discomfort and sooth my throat, which I now realize feels like I've swallowed sandpaper.

9:00- Watch Coke machine take my last four quarters and fail to dispense my much needed beverage.

9:15-10:15- Endure arrogant Professor of history bumbling through class rules and trying to crack jokes, even trying to make one at MY expense. Briefly wonder if the first day of class is a good time to tell a Professor to get over himself.

10:16- Flee to the comfort and safety of my car, at least it was downhill this time.

10:50- Walk through door and tell Hubster I'm going to bed, and no, that's not an invitation.

11:00-3:30- Sleep the fitful sleep of fever and chill, trying to ignore the small people who are circling my bed like a pack of vultures.

3:30- Realize the house is quiet. Hubster took the kids out.

4:30- Pop dinner in the oven. Lie on couch wishing for the world to end.

5:30- Shower and re-dress for round two.

6:00- Buy Cherry Vanilla Coke at convienience store.

6:20- Stroll to class. Uphill, but only two miles this time.

6:25-9:15- Enjoy Biology lecture and think all classes should be night classes or internet classes.

9:20- Drive home.

9:25- Coughing fit.

9:25:15- Hit curb.

9:25:18- Listen to the sickening, thud, thud, thud, of a tire with no air in it.

9:26- Call Hubster and break the news.

9:27- Lower spare, jack up car, take off tire.

9:40- Hubster finishes job for me, and doesn't even complain that I stayed in bed all day, then ruined a brand new Michelin tire.

Lucky for me, road hazard warranty also covers "stupid", so the tire was replaced this morning at nominal cost, but I think I'll try to have a better day tomorrow, if it's all the same to you! We rested and took it easy today, and aside from the dagger that must surely be sticking out of my tonsil, I feel much, much better. So I'm off to bed early and I'll try to give you a happy post sometime in the near, near future!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Making Yogurt

Since a Stephanie and Nettie asked, here's the method for making yogurt with your powdered milk storage.

2 C Warm water
1 C Non-instant powdered milk
2 T yogurt starter (unflavored commercial yogurt)

Whip this all up together, in the blender or by hand, just get all the lumps out, then pour into glasses or jars. Place jars neck deep in a pan in warm (100 degree) water. COver pan with lid. Then, put the whole thing somewhere where a temperature between 100-200 degrees can be maintained. I used my attic, then my oven as it was cooling down from making cookies when the attic cooled down. It doesn't have to be precise, just don't get it too hot or you'll kill the cultures. They say it should be set in 4 hours. Ethel's recipe says to leave in warm oven overnight. I say, check it after 4 hours and go from there. It's safe for it to be out for up to 12 hours.

To make cream cheese, you pour the yogurt into cloth, I used one of Hubsters hankies, (yes, it was clean and new!) tied it shut with a rubber band and hung it over the sink. I can't say I'm thrilled with the result yet. I haven't had time to make spinach dip. I can say that my pint of yogurt didn't yield a whole lot of cream cheese.

Nettie, to make ricotta, you're supposed to squeeze the yogurt, I assume while it's in the cloth, to expell the whey. How this differs from the cream cheese, I'm not sure, but that's what the book says!

The book I use is called Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens. It is a wonderful resource for planning and using your food storage.

Next I want to try cottage cheese and cheddar, but I have to find some rennet or junket tablets. I'm not sure where I'm going to find them other than Ethel's offer to give me some...

***Editing to add this link to the Mother Earth News which describes how to make your own yogurt maker. They also suggest adding a can of evaporated milk to the mixture, which sounds like it might be worth trying!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Swear You Look Familiar

I've been busy making yogurt from my powdered milk storage! I finally left one batch alone long enough for it to work. The book says if it doesn't set in 4 hours it probably won't. They lied. Mine took about 9 hours, I think if you keep it hotter, it sets faster.

I swear I've seen something similar to the finished product in the bottom of a sippy cup that got pushed under the couch and forgotten. Ethel swears you can make it by just leaving milk on the counter. She is a much braver woman than I. Mine may LOOK like sour, milk-turned-jelly, but I put mine in my attic (where it's hot, hot, hot) so mine must surely be more than sour milk...right? It tastes pretty much like the plain yogurt I used for starter, and we all ate some several hours ago, and we aren't sick...yet. I declare it a sucess! We found that adding a touch of vanilla gets rid of the last of that "powdered milk" taste.

Now I'm moving on to making cheese. First I'm trying cream cheese since it can be made from the yogurt. Next, I want to try Ricotta, then I'll build a press and try cheddar!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday Meltdowns

For me. Not the children. No, their job is to inform people who drop by unannounced with a child on their hip that they expect *moi* to babysit that, "Mom's crying because that dress didn't fit." Shuddapwouldja?

Yes, it seems that Mondays just aren't good days for me. Is it the vast expanse of the week stretching out before me? Or maybe it's the fact that I start my Mondays off with desk time, in which I attempt to be the Mom of All Bill Paying. Or maybe that in all this Mondayness, I just want to get to the library so I can see the unsmiling faces of the fat, old, kid-hating women they employ there.


Beats me.

So I really did have one of those days. It was the first day of school for D, who is in PS. And the first day of PS signals the day that I begin to berate myself if we don't achieve homeschool perfection. We schooled most of the summer, but in a funner, less worksheet-ed way. But alas, I must push my little darlings to get their very own writing callus and so back to the worksheets we go. I woke up early. Like 5 am early. And when you've only just gone to sleep at midnight, getting up early is not a good sign. Next, I made the mistake of checking over the bank thing, which led to the sudden need to deposit the paycheck. Back from the bank, DHL arrives. Ah. The Dress. Charming. I knew better than to try it on. I knew. Still. It's going back from whence it came.

So as I sniffled and blew my nose, and soothed my injured pride with a nice bowl of sugar cereal, a person really did show up at my door with a child on her hip expecting (not asking) me to watch said child. This child is a darling child, but J thinks he rips a hole in her time/space continum. He breaths her air, and, quite frankly, he LOOKS at her. Much screaming and pushing and pulling and hitting ensues. This is not a combination that I find compatible with homeschooling. I watched said child until she sent in the relief crew, but the damage was done.

When we arrived at the library, the newly potty converted person was soaked. Yes, the same one who went all day long at the museum with no accidents had an accident in the ten minutes it takes to drive to the library. Lucky me. I did have a back up pair of clothes that were only a little wet from the water bottle that leaked on them. The unsmiling lady informed me that they STILL haven't found the book that I returned and they lost. I'm serious. I really have looked everywhere and I SWEAR I remember seeing it in the book drop when I brought it back. So we got our goodies, and I must say, I loooooove the library when it's just me and the other homeschoolers. We smile our knowing smiles at each other and load up our laundry baskets with books. No one to point fingers at us or shush our children. Love it.

So I decided that it had already been a fairly cruddy start to the day, I'd finish it off like a band aid. Just rip it off real fast so I could go home and stay there until forced out. I went and bought my books for my classes that start next week. Get this. I had to SIGN A PAPER, that said I realized that the bookSTORE I was SHOPPING in and GIVING LARGE AMOUNTS OF MY MONEY TO, still OWNS the books and that I am BORROWING THEM. If I don't bring them back, I'll be held responsible.

Let me just give you a minute to wrap your mind around that.


I'm thinking that a great deal of my blogging time in the up coming months will be devoted to snarky comments about college. And I couldn't be more thankful that I did not schedule a single class on Mondays.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

When Mommy Blogs

The fairies, carrots, and Ello sticks go swimming.

We had a bit of fun on Friday. Ethel and I took our kids to a book fair and then the Museum of Science and Natural History. I love the museum because it is so hands on. The kids can touch just about everything and there is something for every age.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Where has time gone, my girly girl? It seems like just a minute ago you were J's age. Swimming in your grandma's pool, and blowing out two candles on your Barbie cake. The one I melted in the oven after I had decorated it and used the oven to store it until the party, I had to frost it all over again, silly Mom!

You are my sweet and eager to please girl. You were going to be the baby of the family. I wonder sometimes if you feel a little lost, having been shoved into the role of a middle child. You are an awesome big sister, even though J resists your loving now, I just know you and she will be best friends someday. You're friends with everyone. No one can resist your sweet smile and kind heart. Your Sunday School teacher tells me, in secret of course, that you are her favorite. The music leader loves watching you sing your little heart out and always tells me what a well behaved, polite little girl you are.

You are super smart in school. You love to do your work, and you can already tell time all by yourself. You can count to 100 by ones, fives, tens and twenty-five. You know your addition facts almost as well as your brother and you love to copy things down in your "papers". Don't worry one little bit about your reading. You are almost there! You can read lots of the words, and when you find the confidence to sound things out, you're gonna light the world on fire.

I love that you still carry your "Rabbie" to bed with you. I remember the time that you noticed a hole in her and when I came to tuck you in, I covered you up and saw that Rabbie was not on your bed. When I asked you where she was, you told me, with great big tears in those liquid brown eyes that you folded her and put her on your dresser because you didn't want her to ever wear out. My heart just melted and I told you that Rabbie was made a long time ago for me by some people who had a whole lot of love in their hearts. They sewed all that love into Rabbie, and they meant for her to be loved by me, and then by my little girl. I told you that Rabbie was given to you to love, and that she was easily mended with a little more of the same love that went into making her. I took her off the dresser where you had placed her, and put her on top of your blankets, just like you always liked, and the very next morning, we got out my sewing machine and we fixed Rabbie together. We sewed her little edging back tight and made sure the pink rabbit that makes Rabbie be Rabbie was sewed up nice, and you danced all around the kitchen table. I used her again tonight to tuck you in, and I'm so glad she's still there for you to love. I know the day will come that you won't need her corner to rub on your little eye to help you drift off to sleep, and I think the morning you come into my bed without her, my heart will break into a million pieces.

You've always been my cuddler. I think you will be the one who will play with my hair and lie down with your head in my lap. When you were a baby, you refused to be put down. There were many days when I'd just hold you all day and most of the night. I didn't always appreciate that contact as much as I could have. I used to love to watch you sleeping in my arms. Until my arms ached and I thought they'd drop off from lack of circulation.

I love you so much it takes my breath away. I'm so lucky we get to be friends forever. I'll be the best mommy I can, and I hope you'll forgive my many shortcomings. I'll cherish the day your daddy gives you to the man of your dreams, I'll cry the day I hold your babies, and I'll always be here when you need a soft place to land. You and me babe. You're the girl I always knew I'd have and I'm so lucky and proud to be your mom. Happy sixth birthday K-lou.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Best Intentions

I've been dying to blog about this.

All the husbands in muchkin land have been being naughty. My friends have all had altercations with their spousal units this past week, and my turn came Monday. Hubster was a jerk. Yes girls, you read right, my perfect Hubster was a turkey butt

I finished my test yesterday, and things were still sort of tense. I was sulking. He deserved it. So he invited me to ride into the city on a couple errands, and I accepted. Tough to give someone the silent treatment if they aren't there, I figured, so, I'd make sure he knew he was getting the silent treatment.

Bless his heart, he took me to get a facial.

My husband NEVER says I'm sorry. Ever. Not the words anyway. So I recognize this as an extremely sweet and nice gesture. The sweetest and nicest thing he's done in a long time, in fact.

But if that were all there was to this story, I wouldn't be dying to blog about it, now would I?

So we pull up in front of the Howard Hinkle Building. Howard Hinkle Construction, Leasing Office, Meeting Hall, and BEAUTY SALON.

No, I'm not kidding.

Hubster asks if I want to come in or wait, I chose to wait in the car. I was suspicious, but I wasn't gonna ask him why we were four blocks from where he said we were going. What good is the silent treatment if you aren't, well, silent.

He returned a short while later and said it was going to take a minute, please come in.

We went down a narrow hallway, past the BEAUTY SALON to a door that said "Body By Penny" "Massage, Facials, " and I couldn't read the rest. We were greeted by a small, round, black woman. We went into a small, windowless room decorated in the 1970's, and not once since then. He then paid the woman and LEFT ME. I was led into an even smaller windowless room and instructed to take off the shirt, put on the sheet, and lie on the table. Um, OK then. The shirt off thing wasn't really too creepy, but as I looked around the yellowed linoleum looking for a place to leave my shoes, I noticed the yellowed towels and wondered how many sweaty bodies it actually TAKES to make white towels turn yellow.

When I had K, they gave me a drug to stop my labor so they could do a c-section. It messed with my mind. I remember thinking, "Hubster, get my shoes. I need my shooooooeeeesssss." There were no drugs to induce those thoughts yesterday.

Mind over matter, I told myself. I was there by myself, with no hope of escape, and by now I was actually chuckling over my husbands good intentions as I tried to ensure my personal safety.

I hopped on the table and this bubbly black woman came in and told me her life's story while she washed my face. She used some sort of rotary device, you know the kind you see in the back of magazines and on info-mercials? And she buffed and exfoliated and *sniff* is that Noxema I smell? I had the horrifying thought that the stone she was using to scrape off my face might also be the stone she uses to scrape the calluses off her clients feet, but I squeezed my eyes shut really, really tight and hoped for the best. It really wasn't completely horrible, as long as I haven't contracted some sort of rash that eats off half my face by next week, I'll start breathing again.

When Hubster came back to rescue pick me up, the silent treatment was over. He asked how it was, obviously, I couldn't bear to burst his bubble, so I started to laugh and tell him about it. Apparently, there were a few things he didn't think about. Fortunately, he wasn't offended when I told him that next time, I'd prefer to go to someone with a license for that sort of thing. While I am concerned that my husband thought that a part time security guard would be a suitable asthetician, I do have to be thankful that I have a husband that always, always believes the best about other people. Not in a "sucker" kind of way, but in a kind, non-judgmental way. It is one of his most endearing and admirable qualities and I'm so lucky he's mine.

Now WHERE did I leave those business cards from the day spa? I'm thinking I will tape one to my computer monitor to ward off any future attacks of uninformed kindness on the part of my husband.

Drumroll Please....

I took my CLEP test to get out of Freshman English yesterday. My college doesn't accept the Freshman College English and Composition test like I thought. SO I got to take the regular version. I passed, and it really wasn't horrible at all. My score was actually on the higher end of the scale. So I have 3 college credits down, 60 more to go. Considering all the developmental math classes I get to take, I'll take my kudos where I can. I'm just excited I get to SKIP something in school!

Conversation With Daddy

K: "Daddy, my birthday is the DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!! What are you getting me for my birthday?!"
Hubster: "Hmmmm. How about....A JOB!"
K: "Noooo! Daaaaaaddddyyyyyyyyyyyyyy *insert greasy whine here*"
Hubster: "Oh, yes, I think a job is *just* what you need!"
K: "I can't have a job! I'm a princess! Princesses don't have jobs!"
Hubster: "Cinderella did. *I know*! You can be Cinderella!"
K: "That was NOT what I had planned."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Please Tell Me...

*Disclaimer* If you are a member of my family, especially if you are my sister, you may want to skip this post. If you read it, you may not find it humorous, which it is intended to be. If you read it anyway, consider yourself forewarned and don't disown me, m'kay?

Please tell me that with a good corset, some sexy shoes and a little bit of duct tape you can survive any dress.


Pretty please with a cherry on top?

Yes, they do make it in a size 10.

No, I'm not sure making it in a size 10 is a good idea either.

I'm also not sure how a strapless dress is supposed to stay on boobies that now require strapping.

You have no idea how much I wish my sister were Mormon right now...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Please Pray

*Edit to Update*
Handyman Bob is out of surgery, they *think* the retina is OK, they will replace the lens once the eye is stable. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and prayers. I really mean what I said about the safety goggles, glasses aren't enough. Handyman Bob was only driving a nail, no nail gun, just a hammer. He wears glasses, but the nail managed to flip back and get him anyhow.

Girls, if you'd be so kind as to put Handyman Bob in your prayers, I'd be really grateful. There was a handyman type accident this morning, he is being flown to a hospital in the city. If you have a handy guy, or are a handy girl yourself, please, please, please remember your safety goggles, even if you are just doing a routine task. We are praying for his life, his sight and his family. Thanks.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Water Tension

We decided to experiment with water tension today by making clay boats.

ONE boat

TWO boats

THREE boats

What the.....

And of course, now we have to sink the boats

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Random Soup

Note to self:
When your toddler says "Taa Daaaaaah!", don't just absent mindedly repeat her and smile your self assured smile that your toddler, is the cutest toddler in the world. Especially when you've given her gum to keep her quiet in the library. You need to LOOK at the child. If the child is stringing gum around her head, one "Taa Daaaaah!" equals one lap around the head. Five "Taa Daaaaah!'s" is a LOT of gum to clean up.

Why Boys are Easier:
I was discussing K's guest list for her upcoming b-day party. I find myself only a week to party time, so I will be calling to invite people...again. So I asked her, "so you want to invite S, and A and K..." She interrupted me and said, "Well, S doesn't like A and A doesn't like S and K doesn't like S."

Wow. Um. OK. Sounds like I may want to have extra hands on deck to referee the clash of the six year olds.

"Well," I asked her, "what about C? You like her right?"

To which K replied, "Oh no! She doesn't like ANYONE! I don't know *what* has gotten into her."

I am dead meat.

And Finally:

I'm official. Well, they're going to let me park there, anyway.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I interrupt this blog to bring you some important news: Mom of All Trades' house is clean. Every room, at the same time. And we aren't expecting company. The clothes are even folded and put away. I rock. Ahem.

I also need to give praise to Jacquelyn Mitchard's new book Cage of Stars. I've actually gone through and read all but two of her books and have yet to be dissapointed. What a talented writer! One of the people on the back cover of the book (Luanne Rice) said it perfectly when she said "...when I finish reading one of her novels, I somehow know more about myself." She did a great job researching the LDS religion to give credibility to her main characters in Cage of Stars. There were a couple goofs, but she is currently asking for readers input so revisions can be made in upcoming printings. Chris over at Notes From the Trenches did an interview with her, which is how I found out about her writing. She seems very down to earth, and she has a real talent for human insight. You should check her out, girls! She's a keeper!

Friday, August 04, 2006


My baby potty trained her little self this week. I'm not ready for her to be potty trained. I only get to hear the swish-swish of her little diaper booty on the way to bed at night. The walk to the bedroom is not long enough. I never cared to hurry any of the kids along with the potty training, but both girls decided on their own at about 22 months. Maybe it has something to do with Texas summer heat and heavy, hot diapers. Maybe I've discovered the secret for potty trainers everywhere: Try to keep your kid in diapers as long as possible! Seriously. Diapers are much easier than public restrooms with little people who have no germ fear. As soon as you love the idea of diapers forever, your little one will refuse to wear them. Sigh.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Why Homeschool. Part Two.

Picking up where I left off...

Fifth grade was a new life, a second chance at having a good education. How blessed my family was and is, to be friends with both the Director of the lab school, and one of it's best teachers. Now that I think about it, it really is remarkable that the three families that were closest to my grandparents were full of truly talented educators. I don't know how it all went down for sure, but one of the families had a daughter who was becoming a teacher, she was the one who administered the reading test to me as part of her course work. The other two women took care of getting me in the school, and even made sure I had transportation to and from school, since we lived a little hike from town. The school it's self was a learning lab for the students at the college who were training to become teachers. It's simpler to call it a private school, but, that sounds stuffy and privileged. We weren't poor, but my life was not one of privilege. If not for the efforts of my grandparents friends, I would have had no choice but to continue on in public school. This thing they did for us was a blessing beyond measure.

So I started the fifth grade with another round of testing. They figured I could read and comprehend most anything they threw at me now. At some point they made a video of me and a classmate demonstrating our ability to read and regurgitate, like we were some kind of circus act. They managed to make me feel a little bit special and a little more normal and tried to give me a glimpse of what could be possible. The school encouraged students to work at their own pace, and most of the kids that attended were very bright and hardworking. It was something else to be with peers who were above average, it was nice to have it be OK to be smart. And yet, fitting in socially was still elusive for me.

I don't know how I looked on the outside to people, but I was a mess on the inside. I'm pretty sure I spent more time in the councilor's office than the other kids combined. Somewhere along the way, despite the supreme effort of teachers who really cared about me, I lost the thirst for knowledge. What I really wanted, was to fit in, have friends, and not be the butt of people's jokes anymore. School just wasn't fun, it wasn't work, it was just a meaningless time suck punctuated by occasional after school activities that helped keep me from going off the deep end. We still lived on the ranch, and I would awake at four thirty am to complete chores and ride to town with my dad so that he could be at work by 7. After school, I made my way to his office and we rode home at about 7. My sister's accident was followed by my grandfather's illness and I juggled a lot at home. I felt the weight of responsibility around my neck and I resented that it made me even more different.

I was in the seventh grade when I told my family that I didn't want to go to college. I told them I'd change my mind if they'd let me take college classes in place of at least some high school course work. I knew it could be done because the kid I sat next to in typing class took college classes when he was in the ninth grade. I think the push to just hurry up and get childhood over with began around that time. I felt powerless in so many ways, defeated and worn out from wanting to be good, and never quite living up to my potential. In fact, I was sick of hearing about my potential.

The lab school didn't offer high school, so I re-entered the public school system. I had been good at cheerleading, and was encouraged to try out, but just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to do it. I heard you had to pay for the camps and uniforms, and arranging transportation for after practices and games meant negotiations with dad. I figured, "Why bother?" I was just putting in my time so I could get out. Somewhere, I stopped being the gangly girl with the pug nose and became the girl with the small boobs and the great butt. It attracted a few boys, and I picked one. I figured he'd probably use me and dump me, but he told me he loved me and wanted to marry me. I was 15 at the time and the idea that someone thought more of me than I thought of myself put me over the moon. He was a year older than I and when I was a junior in high school, I asked my parents to let me become emancipated. I didn't intend to marry him right then, I just wanted, needed, some kind of space. I wasn't raised to live with someone out of wedlock, but it would provide a means of survival, I was past caring what people, including my family, thought about me. When they turned me down, I planned a wedding date two weeks after my high school graduation. I turned down being the hometown rodeo queen and concentrated on the freedom that I could almost taste.

Brandi wondered what all this has to do with why I chose to homeschool. To me, it has everything to do with why I homeschool. I came a hair's breath away from screwing up my life beyond all recognition. I didn't love my highschool sweetheart. I loved that he loved me. It took all of 18 months after I graduated and got married to figure out that I could love myself and was worthy of a more suitable mate. I was married, divorced and remarried by the time I turned 21. When I remarried, it was to a man 18 years older than I who had three kids. It was sheer dumb luck and the love of God that I got an incredible husband who really did see through all the crazy, weird behavior, took a gamble on whether or not I'd grow into a decent wife, and gently began the process of helping me understand and gain self worth. My parents and grandparents did everything they could, but they couldn't overcome the feelings of shame, hopelessness and self-loathing that were planted there by my peers.

Academics played a big roll in my desire to homeschool, I figured I certainly couldn't do worse than the two room school house, and if I paid close attention to their individual needs, I could probably do a darn sight better. Socialization played a big roll as well. Socialization is one of the biggest concerns people seem to have about homeschooling, and quite honestly, it's probably the biggest reason I got passionate about it. I want to pick my kids' friends for a while. I want to make sure they look up to people worthy of their respect. I want to help them navigate their social interactions until they have a better idea of who they are and what they believe. I want them to be able to focus on school work while they mature socially, whether that pace is slower or faster than other children their age. I don't want their self worth tied up in whether or not they get picked for dodgeball, or who sits next to them at lunch. When I had my kids, I knew I could never send them to daycare. There wasn't anyone in this world who could love them more or nurture them better than I could. When it came time for school, I knew that nothing had changed. No one cares about their education and their socialization more than I do. When I first brought it up with Hubster, he wasn't completely on board, but he wasn't sold on the alternatives either. Finally, the more we talked and prayed and researched it, we knew it was what we were supposed to do.

I have found myself scared to death that I will screw this up. I worry that my kids will be "the weird kids". The first year, I worried over my ability to teach them what they need to know. But the farther along this path we go, the more success we have under our belt and the more confidence we gain to keep going. So far, both kids have learned to read and write, do addition and subtraction, read time, count money, measure things, and they have the bug, the itch to learn more. They hate it when history time is over and they often don't even realize I'm giving them a science lesson. They just like spending time with mom and dad and playing together. We're starting 1st and 2nd grades this year. They play well with other kids, in the neighborhood, at church, at community sponsored sporting events, and at homeschool functions. We don't plan on homeschooling through high school, but even that depends on what we feel is right at the time. I have struggles with dyscalculia, and the thought of teaching them higher math makes me extremely uneasy. But if that is what needs to be done, I will find a way.

The bottom line is that deeply personal events brought me to my knees to figure out what I could do better for my kids. We've heard differing opinions on whether we should or should not homeschool our kids, but it finally came down to Hubster and I feeling like this is what we are supposed to be doing, and then doing our best to do a good job of it. I can only hope my kids will have a much better experience than I did, and I feel more and more confident that my choice to shield them from the world will help them with the things that matter most. My job is to protect them as long as I reasonably can and do everything in my power to help them set and realize their goals and dreams.

And believe it or not, that's the short version! LOL

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why Homeschool. Part One.

Chris from Notes From the Trenches has started another blog over here, and I'm not sure why she has two, but I do know I can't get enough Chris. Today she talked some about her homeschool, which I was so glad to read since, even after stalking all her old posts until her site meter flagged me as a potential serial killer, I haven't seen much about how she does things, why she chose homeschooling, what a homeschool day is like in the Big Yellow House. Hmmm. Maybe she'd give me an interview! LOL Anyhow, after I visited Kacey's blog and read about her grandson, I got to thinking I really should put down on "paper" why I picked homeschooling. My kids may someday want to know why I turned them into social lepers chose to school them at home.

Just so everyone is clear right up front; To each their own. Whatever school you dig is dandy with me. The main thing I've noticed is that people usually have a strong opinion about homeschooling, and that's cool, but if you can't be supportive, you can keep it to yourself around this neck of the woods. I'm not trying to convince people that public schools are evil or tell people they aren't being great parents if they don't homeschool, I'm just going to tell you how I, (we, really) feel and felt to make this choice for our family.

I didn't decide to homeschool on a whim. The thought never even crossed my mind until we moved to the great state of TX. The older three have done fine with public schools and I've done my share of parent teacher conferences, wrapping paper fundraising and crazy back to school supply lists. When we moved to TX, our kids did notice that the classes seemed easier, but they didn't complain and life went on. When we moved here, we also started to hear about more and more homeschooling families. Droves of them. Back home, if you were homeschooled, you were a freaky-folk. But I had to admit that the more I thought about sending my cute little kiddos off on that big yellow bus, I thought more and more about my own school experience and I started to think that there had to be a better alternative. So settle in and I'll tell you my tale. I'll start my story by taking you down the path of my education.

School started for me at a young age, I must have been three or four, because I attended two years at a religious pre-school. The thing I remember most about pre-school was graham crackers with milk, the smell of my nap rug and how being around the nuns made me feel like I had swallowed my tongue. I remember being picked up from school when it was dark outside and how I loved to memorize the streets from school to Grandma G's, the bank, the store and home.

I went on to Kindergarten, and I remember the day I decided to learn to read. I was watching Ripley's believe it or Not or some similar show and they showed a child who was four and could read. I was sick about it. I was already past four, and I couldn't read. So I bugged my mom. She says she wouldn't teach me because she didn't want me to be too far ahead of my class. I remember reading signs to her on the way to and from school. Grandma says she thought Mom was talking crazy talk, but I remember her giving me the Dick and Jane book, reading a few pages with me and going into the other room. Within a few hours, I had made it through, and from that day on, I could read. And read I did. I was voracious right from the start.

We moved before I started first grade, and the first day of school, I boarded the little yellow bus bound for the two room school house that served our ranch community. It started the moment I boarded the bus. There were two boys who were in fifth and sixth grade. They called me ski jump, owing to the upturned, button nose that sits in the middle of my face. I couldn't stand it. I had no idea why they would treat me like that, and I remember wishing I was invisible. At school, my class was the largest. There were four first graders, and they were all girls. I don't even remember if there were second graders in our class room, I think there were, and the third to sixth grades were taught in the second classroom.

My teacher was outstanding, one of the best in the district. Tests were taken each year, and I know mom told me that she was given the option of moving me up a grade, but declined because she was worried that I'd miss something I'd need later. The only difference I noticed in the class room was that I sometimes got extra work, and I ALWAYS got poor marks in behavior. Those little boxes at the bottom that graded area's like, "Uses Time Wisely", "Works Well With Others" and "Controls Talking" could be marked for area's worthy of special note were filled with the "Needs Improvement" check mark every.single.time. Grades given were E or E+, S or S+ and U. E=Excellent, S=Satisfactory, and U...well, you get the idea. I thought I deserved an E on everything. I did what I was supposed to, and I was always done first. School for me was like being reminded of things I already knew.

But as much as I excelled in the classroom, I paid for it on the playground. Remember that this is a country school. It doesn't take as long to teach when the teacher to student ratio is 1:6. These were the days of school recess. The teachers talked, the kids played, and the bullies reigned supreme. In this day and age the schools employ "Playground Monitors", but not so at the two room school house. I don't think I made it out of the first week of school when the three girls in my class held my arms back and used my stomach as a punching bag. It's not that it hurt so much, as I just couldn't believe what was happening. I don't remember when, or even who I told, but I remember my mom trying to teach me to hit pillows in hopes I could defend myself, and any other times I complained, it was explained to me that I acted like a know-it-all and that's why the other kids picked on me. Now to be fair to all parties involved, I probably was a know-it-all. After all, I pretty much did, At least where first to third grade was concerned. I probably was a brat, and I had no idea how to be liked, and really, in the scheme of things, that was all I wanted, to be liked. Well, to be liked and be the best, at everything.

Despite the social problems, I had an amazing grade school experience that included afternoons peering over the bridge at the river while we ate our picnic lunches, building snow caves and spending endless hours sledding down snow covered hills, school sponsored weekly ski trips (I ALWAYS ditched ski school after the second year...Sorry dad!) even a real Indian Rendevoux where we got to bead our own moccasins, make coup sticks and sleep in two real, full size, tee pee's. We climbed the rope everyday during our "unofficial PE", and used the mats to make mazes during recess. We had mud bomb wars and got our library books brought to us on the BookMobile. Our PE and Music teachers came once a week, and since I could memorize anything, I was always given the lead role in the school play. The good parts were very, very good. Unfortunately, the bad parts grew worse and worse with the passage of time, and my self-esteem was tossed like a dingy on the sea. Up with one kind word or success, down with every playground snub and awkward moment.

I couldn't tell you for sure when things came completely undone, but I know everyone around me recognized it when I yelled at the music teacher and crawled under my chair. I scared myself that day. I never had an easy time dealing with authority. I couldn't give words to the feelings I felt, so I got frustrated and cried, or lied, but I had never yelled. My reading was tested and it was "discovered" that I could read and comprehend high school level material. I was tutored for reading in the room with the older kids, but my parents knew they had to make big changes. At the prompting of a family friend, they enrolled me in the Lab School at the University and I began attending there in the fifth grade.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wiring 101 1/2

So I installed a new light fixture in my kitchen today! I have to admit, I didn't accomplish this feat all by myself this time. Due to some, shall we say, CREATIVE wiring in this house, I had to call on a friend from church with a little more experience than I have. Wiring a three way switch is actually a pretty advanced electrical task. Not hard, per say, but it requires more thought than, "black to black, white to white and ground to ground". The problem came about because some genius decided to provide power to the dishwasher through the light fixture. No WONDER the light flickers when you turn on the dishwasher. Hmmmmm. So with the help of Handyman Bob, we finally got the light to work, and turn on and off at the flick of a switch, (and not the breaker switch in the garage, like I had it before Handyman Bob came to my rescue), and the dishwasher to run and NOT turn on and off with the flick of a switch. All this and we didn't burn the house down or electrocute anyone! And the biggest award of the day has to go to Handyman Bob's wife, who somehow convinced J that drawing bunny rabbits was more fun than cheating death at the top of mommy's ladder.

Also, since I'm sure I didn't mention it, B and Hubster are on a four wheeling adventure with Grandpa and my perfect BIL so K and J and I are on our own doing girl stuff and trying to keep our minds off missing our boys. We went to the mall yesterday, and today, we bought a car and went swimming. Can't afford very many days like that, can we Hubster? Prolly ought to come home pretty soon! LOL Hubster and I have been needing to buy a car for his commute and he TOLD me to go drive the one I found and get them to hold it. So I bought it. What? It's the only way I could get him to hold it.

I seriously hope this turns out to be a good car, if not, I am SO never hearing the end of it. It's a 1996 Nissan Maxima, it has 122,000 miles on it and it drove better than the 98 I found with 74,000 miles on it. You know how sometimes you can just tell a car is a good car? Well. I can tell. Hubster is being very nice about it. He started to either tease me or get mad, but, sensing that I've been a woman on the edge for a looooong time, he told me he was sure the car would work out. I so needed to hear that. I don't feel like I squeezed every dime I should have out of the salesman. Going over how that went down makes me want to breath into a paper bag. I hate, hate, hate car shopping. Funny. Seeing as how I SOLD cars for four years, you wouldn't think that it would bother me at all.

And finally, I heard from dad that my mom's dog died today. I felt bad she didn't tell me when I called to get dad's cell number to ask his advice on the wiring project, so I hope she reads the bloggy tonight and feels a little better reading my goofy stories and seeing pics of her beautiful grand daughters. *Hug* Sorry about Suki, Mom.