Sunday, March 30, 2008

Teacher cert---does it avoid child abuse?

Oh! I just read the most insightful post about teacher certification and child abuse. I had to spread it around! Her first point I thought was extremely well put in stating that the schools and government in general are answerable to the public, not the other way around. Then she goes on to talk about the correlation (or lack of such) of teacher certification and child abuse. It seems like folks who talk about the need of teacher certifications follow it up almost immediately with the concern that homeschooling is a way to hide child abuse. I have seen very few homeschoolers address both concerns in one address, and this writer does a beautiful job of it IMO.

Guilty and grateful for the Lord's love

Ever since I changed this blog over to a homeschooling-only post, I've been feeling totally inspiration-less. Of course, it doesn't help that we have actually moved more into mainstream workbook-type academia. What do you write about with stuff like that? Then again, do you really want me to report that we read another chapter in The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler?

Not that we aren't having fun with the book---my daughter insistently pushes it into my cereal every morning to read it aloud. I need to find some books on Michelangelo---preferably pictorial---specifically with pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and other works like that. Not the nude ones. I can just hear my kids now---ugh! Mo-o-o-o-m! You're embarrassing us! (Not that I mind those comments; far better than more, more, more!)

I think my other problem, related to the one stated above with how-boring-can-workbooks-be-to-talk-about, is that other homeschoolers have so much more interesting blogs. They are altogether more calm, planned, and well, together!

Me? Calm is probably not an adjective most people would peg me with. Passionate. Much more appropriate. Like yesterday when my son purposely ran full force into the phone cord---the one attached to the phone on the wall. It's louder than the cordless so I prefer it on some calls. I managed to hang onto the phone so the phone on the wall gave way. Mind you---my son is nearly 12. Not 3. I ripped into him. Hard. Furiously. I'm out a phone, my favorite phone, but a phone. 100% replaceable. I don't remember exactly what I said to him, but something I said brought back a vision of me at 12. My son was me. Reincarnated. Stubborn to a fault, bound and determined he's right and the center of the universe. Hopeful of such anyway. Grrr! I hate those realizations. I totally hate being humbled in public. Public being anywhere involving anyone other than myself. Sometimes including myself. And my son is totally more important to me than any stupid, idiotic, add your own epithet here, phone! Which, by the way, still works, but will never hang on a wall again unless I get some totally strong, sticky tape that will rip the wall apart if it is ever removed. So today when I got totally upset and delivered another J-Dawg-style tantrum---not at him thankfully but at something else, I was forced to apologize to him and point out how incredibly wrong I was and wonder how in the world my Heavenly Father puts up with me. The image of one more thing I have done that the Savior suffered for so I could repent. That type of scene won't happen again anytime soon! The lesson was far too visual and painful for me to want to add yet another incident of the same type again. I do not want to add another particle to His suffering! At least not of the same kind.

I am thankful to add that a third event happened tonight that could have been very negative, but I remembered and was able to deal with said son in a loving way. I am so grateful for the Lord's love and grace.

Coincidentally, my husband is out of town on a 3-day photo shoot. Could there be some correlation here?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Latest from CA

My sister sent me this link. Here's the text of it:

Court of Appeal Grants Petition for Re-hearing

On March 25, the California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the In re Rachel L. case—the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools.

The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case.

The Court of Appeal has solicited a number of public school establishment organizations to submit amicus briefs including the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and three California teacher unions. The court also granted permission to Sunland Christian School to file an amicus brief. The order also indicates that it will consider amicus applications from other groups.

Home School Legal Defense Association will seek permission to file such an amicus brief and will coordinate efforts with a number of organizations interesting in filing briefs to support the right of parents to homeschool their children in California.

“This is a great first step,” said Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. “We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority,” he added.

This remains interesting, to say the least.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm here!

I apologize that I haven't been showing up here lately. As I was going over assignments and correcting papers, I realized I haven't been spending as much time as needed on schoolwork because I've been on the computer. When I realized that, I knew that had to change so I kicked myself off the "big, black hole". When my kids are begging to be able to get on to do research, I'm on too much!

So . . . I thought I'd take a minute now and say hi! Oops! My daughter just finished her work so I need to go correct it.

Right now, we are reading The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konisburg. J-Dawg is working on a paper about Marie Antoinette (her bed is in the museum) because he wasn't prepared to discuss it at dinner last night. He wasn't happy to find out he has to write a paper about it since he didn't prepare! Such is life. His brother and sister were both ready to tell us about the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the author so they don't have to write a paper (about that anyway.) This particular edition that we are reading is the 35th anniversary publication with a "sequel" added at the end.

Over Easter, I read In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon. It's a thought-provoking book and a quick read about a group of people who commit to directing their lives according to the thought, "What would Jesus have me do?"

Now I'm off to correct papers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spring break?

My plans for educating the young 'uns through the public school's spring break got derailed. We are having a torrential monsoon season here, and our roof sprang a leak. After belly crawling through the attic to be sure of the leak's location, the kids and I went up and tarped the roof over the roof air vent's flashing. Because there is a roof change just a few feet up, we were able to stop the water from getting in. Woot!

The news was not so good for friends. Just as we settled in to some Ancient History, the phone rang with an SOS from them. Their basement was flooding---and they were looking for shop-vacs or anything else to help get rid of the water. We drove to another friend's home for a large shop vac, passing many flooded flood plains. When we arrived at the flooded home, we found that they had given up on it and just opened the back door for the water to sweep out. When I got out of my car and stepped briefly on their lawn, my foot sank a couple of inches. The ground is that saturated! As far as they can tell, the water in their basement is groundwater.

We are so blessed to only have a roof leak that can be tarped!

This storm isn't supposed to let up until tomorrow morning. How I hope it ends sooner!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I just spent some time watching the chefs on the math link I posted last night. Let me warn you that you shouldn't watch it when you are hungry! I didn't think I was hungry, but I am now!

Hope you all had a happy St. Patrick's Day! We spent it with friends so it was very nice. Green ham, hot rolls, and reunion potatoes (also called funeral potatoes). Yummy. I just realized I left the beans in the microwave. Sigh. I need a microwave that has a very loud, very obnoxious buzzer! I am a cook that can walk out of the kitchen for a minute and totally forget I was cooking. There must be a cure out there somewhere. Yesterday we had a roast. I put it in the oven to broil for a few minutes, and my husband sniffed as he left the house and asked if I had taken it out. Thankfully it started frozen so it was okay. Then I put it in the crock pot to cook while we were at church and forgot to press START. Obviously, dinner was a little late.

We have also been reading scriptures and stories to go along with the week before Easter. We started the tradition last year and are really enjoying comparing the four gospels accounts of the Savior's last week before his crucifixion and resurrection. We used to do it on Easter, but it is more meaningful to do it for the whole week before Easter.

One of the things we post is a big piece of paper like we packed out things in when we moved. It is an LOA (Love One Another) chart. The idea is that everyone writes kind notes to each other in the family throughout the week on it. The kids really enjoy checking it! Tonight, we drew "secret pals" where each person drew a name out of a bowl, and they are to do things that the Savior would do toward that person. The idea is to remain anonymous, and then we'll share our experiences on Easter Sunday. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A nod to homeschooling by CBS and more

I just received this link from several directions at once. Think there is a message in here I'm supposed to receive?! I'm currently reading A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion, by Oliver and Rachel DeMille and Diann Jeppson. I have already read Thomas Jefferson Education, by Oliver DeMille as well as heard him speak. However, I'm definitely wanting to reread it so it's on my wish list.

Here's an interesting link tying autism and childhood vaccinations together. Interesting and definitely indicative of a need for a lot more research and much more restraint. A long time ago, a researcher from Utah State University recommended that the current hype about vaccinations before age 2 was out of line. He highly recommended having a full blood test run before administering any vaccinations to be sure the child was in full health. He did not recommend skipping out from vaccinating children, just to take the precaution of the blood test and to wait until children were older to administer the shots.

Another neat blog I just found. The latest (as of right now) entry is a Carnival of Principled Government, A Few Questions. There are some links on the sidebar to Updates on NE LB 1141 that are a good read. I was especially interested in this post about why Why Object to Testing that came at just the right time for me. While you're there, continue reading previous posts. They're good. Make sure you check out the links too. All of them. It's worth it.

Here's another one that I'm too tired to follow all the links for. It supports the question every child asks about math: When will I need this stuff?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tiger Rising and Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

We went to the literature group today totally unprepared. We had read up to chapter 4 of The Tiger Rising. We stopped for two reasons: 1) illness, and 2) I wasn't sure my daughter could handle the end and what happened to the tiger. She is an animal lover at heart so I tried to encourage the boys to read it on their own. I think it is a sad/bittersweet tale. Kate DiCamillo is an excellent writer, but her stories are sad I think. I had already read Because of Winn-Dixie so the book was not a surprise to me. However, I was surprised to find some of the other books she has written, specifically her picture books like Great Joy.

The good part is that J-Dawg reached over and started reading it again after some discussion about it had passed, and Princess turned around and whispered, "I want to finish it." So she probably will too. The Transformer (formerly S-man) was the only one that didn't seem so inclined which didn't surprise me---it isn't a good fit for his personality. I won't push it although I will read it aloud so he'll have the choice of listening or not.

Afterward, we were invited to attend a science fair but my boys didn't want to go. I have found that the boys really do not like to be surprised. It seriously knocks them off balance. If they had known about it yesterday, they probably would have been willing to go. On the other hand, Princess was disappointed about not going. She really enjoys group events, but her preference is to have her brothers close at hand with her. I think it's the comfort factor of not being alone. She was disappointed not to be able to participate in the discussion though.

Next time, we'll be at the art gallery talking about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. That will be fun. I expect both boys will probably read it themselves although I think Princess will need help. We saw the stage play in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. Tomorrow we will be attending The Miracle Worker about Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher.

I've posted this twice and keep thinking of more to write. I'm tossing around ideas about an activity group and am now thinking about picking a country a month and having each family take one part of that country/culture and presenting it to the group. That was actually something an My Ice Cream Diary suggested. Something else that occurred to me was having a "Writing Circle" with historical literature being the basis---reading reviews of various pre-selected books and discussing and writing about them. That could meet weekly or bi-weekly (every other week). I really think it's important to learn to read, write, and discuss ideas, and while 2 groups could be a lot for me to handle, my kids would benefit! Lots to think about between here and there.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My reaction to California

Here's my reaction to recent judicial activity in California. And a link to a dang good looking salad recipe! BTW, I'm gathering I'm not the only one having issues with Blogger! I just made a couple of changes to it, so if you're interested and already saw it, read it again.

By the way, J-Dawg completed his first-ever Festival competition where a judge reviewed his very practiced pieces. He scored a 5 (out of 5) so he was very pleased. We're going to pick out another piece for his recital so we don't have total rebellion on our hands!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Argentina and the Internat'l Fair

I apologize for not writing lately. We've been sick, and I've been working on my new blog. It's a more serious blog, and not about homeschooling although I am a homeschooler and that is reflected in the blog.

The exciting news for this week is that we pulled off a display for the International Fair our local homeschool group held. It was a really good event! Even my kids were glad we did it; they grumbled about having to do it. We had a display on Argentina, and served bocaditos and alfajores. The night before as I was making the alfajores, I went online for pictures and found that I could have ordered them online. Sigh. I would have done it too. I thought about doing empanadas but didn't think they would be much good cold. Alfajores with dulce de leche, however, are fine cold. I finally made dulce de leche, to my husband's delight. He served a 2-year church proselyting mission in Argentina when he was 19-21 and fell in love with the stuff as well as the people.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Best and worst financial decisions

This post has nothing to do with homeschooling, at least not directly, but I thought it was a really good post. I actually found it through About: Frugal Living. This post talks about her best and worst financial decisions, both of which I heartily agree with. We didn't make their worst mistake, but I have seen it made too many times. We have made their best choice, and obviously agree that our choice for me to stay home has been a very wise choice even though it was not what the world would have told us to do. (At the time, I out-earned my husband although he has long since eclipsed that amount.)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Piano practicing---ugh says son

We have had a most exciting morning---sike. The forecast was ugly so I ran errands while the boys were in taekwondo. Forecasters are calling for somewhere between 6-12" of snow, but like one noted, the last time they did that, we got whopping 2". That was in December.

J-Dawg is practicing the piano for Festival. Can I just tell you how thrilled (not!) he is about that? He keeps insisting that he didn't want to sign up for this class. He probably didn't, and I don't blame him. The songs are awful, and he has playing them since October-ish. They are actually supposed to be duets so why he's doing them for a judged competition, I do not know. He's pretty tired of it---just until Saturday though. Then I propose to give him a new piece for his recital so none of us ever have to hear Cars or Whoop-de-doo again! I really do feel for him, but how much do I let show?

I don't remember National Guild being so boring. At his stage, I had to prepare about a dozen songs for judging. Even if I had the songs awhile, there were many to practice. Even my sister, with longer pieces, had at least a half dozen.

Once he is done, our school day really begins.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A new opportunity

I just got a phone call from my sister that absolutely blew my mind! In the course of the conversation, she told me I'm everything she's not. Which is probably true---why else would I admire the socks off what she has done?!! She is in the process of publishing her first book on the principles of Emotional Health, offers classes on the same topic (and people actually pay to come), mothers 10 children, adopted four, lost one just before his first birthday, taught at a private school her children attended in exchange for their tuition, survived her husband's time in Iraq (with 10 kids at home), and is a certified cranial sacral therapist. She also just finished speaking at a national Thomas Jefferson Education symposium in Salt Lake City on how parents can teach children the principles of good mental health. Did I mention she homeschools? All but that one year in the private school anyway.

On the other hand, I struggle to make sure we actually do something productive each day, keep my kids entertained, occupied and *educated*, and somewhat quieter than is their natural inclination. I struggle with mood swings that coincide with monthly cycles, and the daily question of "What in the world are we having for dinner?" Oh yeah, and the "Yippee! I finally found some curriculum that works for all of us!" I guess that is what has swung me hard into studies of mental health, and especially how to keep me on an even keel so our family and educational process also stay on an even keel. So maybe she's right.

But onto what she is right about. Or wrong. I don't know, but I'm excited about the possibilities. It could be what I've been searching for to keep me stretching. (As if my 5-year-old Primary class at church isn't enough---there's enough fodder for emotional health for children just with one of the children!)

The reason she called though was to suggest the possibility of a partnership between her, a friend of hers, and I in sponsoring a symposium about mental health in families. And how to use the principles of mental health purposely in our families. It's something I have been working on within our own family with varying results, depending on the day, for the last three years. The other two have a serious leg up on me because they both teach classes that are quite popular within their own areas. The friend is someone I am acquainted with that helped get me started in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). The other challenge is that I live half a country away, and here in the U.S., that's a lot of land!

The funny twist to the conversation came at the end. One of her points is that I'm more detail oriented on the business side of the house. At which I retorted, "So why is it that you were the one that always dragged all my junk out from under my bed when it was your turn to vacuum our room? I never did that to you." It really made me mad at the time! She calmly replied, "I did it to get back at you because I was always the one making the messes. Your stuff always was in order." I laughed at that because she was right. Her side of the room was always messier! If a bed wasn't made, it was hers. Something has happened in the intervening years unfortunately. Maybe neatness was my way to get back at her because she was the one who always practiced the piano, always did her homework, was such the good writer, etc.

Anyway, I'm excited about the possibilities. We'll see what happens! First my husband is beginning to branch into professional photography, and now I'm interested in this possibility. If you're interested in seeing (and especially commenting on) what I'm creating, check out the sidebar for Principles for Creating Happy Children or some such title. Remember, this is a journey, and I'm not an expert!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Organizing clothes and other stuff: UPDATED

It's amazing what I can do while my sons are gone! I have cleaned out their dresser drawers and discovered that we need to go shopping--for t-shirts, that is. They always need pants, so that's nothing new. I have also verified that they have plenty of underwear and socks. They also have about twice as many ties as I thought they had. I think they have every tie they have ever been given! The other day, they were complaining that they were out of socks so it was a relief to know I wasn't going crazy---they really do have plenty unless they wear three pairs a day apiece (which they have been doing.)

Then I went into my daughter's shirt drawer. It's the one that barely shuts, and we weeded out a few basically brand new shirts of hers that she has never worn. She was amazed with what she had! Unless I put some away last fall though, she needs some short-sleeved shirts for summer. I need to search my closet---that's usually where I stash out-of-season clothes.

It was good to get that done. It has needed to be done for awhile. Now I'm off to my next project!

UPDATED: My next project was the garage. The place where we seem to dump everything we know not what to do with. I knew it had gone too far when we tripped over boxes on the way out the door without turning any lights on. It turned out most of those boxes were empty, but the spare TV wasn't helping matters any. Then I swept out all the leaves that have blown in over the course of the winter, and then pulled out my trusty vacuum to get any bug that may have had dreams of setting up housekeeping. Can I just say that our cars are thoroughly enjoying the cleanliness? It is such a treat to look out there now and actually see the floor! Now we just need to find a place to put my desk and organize my husband's toolbox, and it will look totally fabulous! I don't know if others' husbands are like mine, but nobody else organizes his tools. Gotta love these warm days for spring cleaning!