Sunday, September 15, 2019

Pulling the trigger

Well, we're homeschoolers now, I guess.

I submitted our "declaration of intent" form to the state and instead of walking into the school to turn in my form—Human interaction? No, thanks!—I just emailed them to the secretary and she'll get to discover them tomorrow. We'll still have to go back to get the kids' things (and return Benjamin's library book (he keeps checking out books from The Little House series, which is fine...except we have those, so why...?)).

Speaking of The Little House, I was reading to the kids from Little Town on the Prairie (look at us, logging those homeschooling hours already!) and Pa summarized my feelings quite nicely in chapter 18.

Ironically, this chapter is called "Literaries," but it was in all caps and the kerning was off so I couldn't figure out what the title was. LITE RARIES.

What's a lite rary?

Let's read to find out!

Oh. Literaries.

Neat that I struggled with that word (but in my defense the kerning was off).

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Alexander tales

At 23 months, Alexander is quite the parrot. He will say anything anyone says...unless you specifically ask him to repeat something, in which case he absolutely will not. Often he will demand a turn saying a prayer or reading a verse of scripture, but it never goes over well.

"My turn! My turn! My turn!" he screeched during family scripture study this evening.

So naturally we relented and gave him a turn.

"Okay. Say: 'I came...'" I prompted.

Alexander pressed his lips tightly together and smiled silently at us all.

"...unto my own..."

Continued silence from Alexander.

"...and my own..."

Not a word.

"...received me not..."

Absolutely nothing.

It's hilarious because he looks so proud of himself for taking a turn but...he's not actually taking a turn. He does the exact same thing when he gets a turn saying the prayer—won't say a word. That doesn't stop him from butting in when it's not his turn, however. He does that plenty.


Friday, September 13, 2019

And another thing!

"The CDC, SHAPE America, and other national organizations recommend giving elementary school students at least 20 minutes of recess daily," so our school gets to check this box. In fact, they exceed expectations by 10 minutes. And that's cool. I guess.

Rachel is currently in a PE class, so she gets physical activity every other day at school, but next semester she won't be in PE. And then she won't get any sort of break (and by and large high schools and middle schools are unaware that the CDC recommends recess—physical, often outdoors, active breaks from classes—in addition to PE classes for upper school students. So it's not surprising that there isn't a break built in.

However, this is about elementary school. The CDC offers some guidelines on how to offer recess, which includes:

  • Prohibiting the replacement of physical education with recess or using recess to meet time requirements for physical education policies.
  • Providing schools and students with adequate spaces, facilities, equipment, and supplies for recess.
  • Ensuring that spaces and facilities for recess meet or exceed recommended safety standards.
  • Prohibiting the exclusion of students from recess for disciplinary reasons or academic performance in the classroom.
  • Prohibiting the use of physical activity during recess as punishment.
  • Providing recess before lunch.
  • Providing staff members who lead or supervise recess with ongoing professional development.

(Source is here).


We're still feeling incredibly dissatisfied with the children's elementary school and thus I have been looking extensively into homeschooling, which isn't something that I ever though I'd do, though I'm not sure why. I've entertained the idea several times over the past seven years (because I've always felt frustrated about the public school system) but have always come to the conclusion that I'm not patient enough or organized enough or skilled enough to be a homeschooling mom. 

But the past six weeks have shown me, perhaps, that I'm not patient enough or organized enough or skilled enough to be a public school mom, either!

I'm "pro" public schools. I love the idea of education being a right that all children have equal access to. But that, my friends, is a fantasy because while all children may have a right to education in this country, they in no way have equal access to education. 

Considering school performance (and environment) was a huge factor when we were looking for a house. The truth is that some schools are better than others (and even more truthful is that wealthier people have better access to better education). 

Our district is the largest district in Georgia (15th largest in the US) and it performs fairly well. Within the district, our school performs above average and is fairly highly rated. But I have huge problems with how it's run.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Dinner tales

"Is this all that's for dinner?" Zoë asked, taking in the spread with disgust.

Homemade tomato (and carrot (but shhhh, don't tell)) soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Between school and soccer and organ and activity days and young women activities, Wednesday dinners are always a little rushed.

"What you see is what you get. Why? There's nothing here that you don't like..." I said.

"I was just hoping for a little more..." she said, still entirely unimpressed.

"Like what?" I asked.

"Like some vegetables!" she snipped. "Can we have, like, a cucumber or something?"

How can you argue with a request like that? (I mean, aside from her attitude...)

So I peeled and cut a cucumber to add to our dinner.

This morning (after a long, hard night, with many wake ups by Zoë and Alexander both), Zoë woke up complaining of a sore throat.

"I'm sick," she said, "So I need healthy breakfast, not ordinary breakfast, but something super healthy, okay?"

She settled on oatmeal (because that would soothe her throat).

If she's got the same thing that Alexander and I had, it won't be such a terrible cold—just a scratchy throat for a few days.

Sunday, September 08, 2019


I'm reading Inspired by Rachel Held Evans (who tragically passed away earlier this year, leaving behind two young children) right now (among a few other things) and it almost has me wishing I was a person who could highlight passages in a book. But can't bring myself to do that (unless, oddly enough, it's the scriptures). It feels too much like desecration. I suppose that's what being raised in a houseful of librarians will do to you.

So instead of highlighting passages, I began sticking bookmarks (read: scraps of paper) in to mark passages, which was a great idea until the book was thick with extra paper (I'm only halfway through) and now I have to reread each page I've marked (and sometimes the next page) to find the passage I'd liked in the first place. But, it's a good book so it's not too much of a burden.

Some passages are about scripture, some are about the act of writing itself (which Rachel Held Evans believes, and which I believe, is a holy act).

p. 11 to 12: " of the most central themes of Scripture itself [is that] God stoops. From walking with Adam and slipping into flesh and eating, laughing, suffering, healing, weeping, and dying among us as a part of humanity, the God of Scripture stoops and stoops and stoops and stoops. At the heart of the gospel message is the story of a God who stoops to the point of death on a cross.... It is no more beneath God to speak to us using poetry, proverb, letters, and legend than it is for a mother to read storybooks to her daughter at bedtime."

p. 48 to 49 : "Storytelling always has been, and always will be, one of humanity's greatest tools for survival." And, " warned. in Scripture, and in life, the road to deliverance nearly always takes a detour. ... Indeed, some of Scripture's most momentous events occur not at the start of a journey, nor at the destination, but in between, in the wilderness."

p. 70: "People take extraordinary risks to be part of a story that will outlive them."

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Don't be frrrrightened!

We're two full months into this homeownership business and still can't seem to stay away from the hardware store. Today we needed to find some brackets and a hose and some curtain rods (and a drill bit, and...).

Andrew was going to take the two little ones on his own, but then I decided to go along with them so we left the older kids at home with a list of things to accomplish (homework, practicing, chores) before they'd be free to play their morning away. It's so nice having a child old enough to babysit (just saying).

When we got to Lowe's we headed over to the garden section to find a hose, which ended up being quite the adventure. Lowe's has all their Halloween wares out on display: pumpkins, scarecrows, skeletons, and life-sized replicas of witches and werewolves. We didn't know we'd be walking past such terrifying decorations on our way to get to the hose and honestly didn't even register them as frightening (since we'd walked past the Halloween decorations to get to the garden section we were already in a Halloween-y mood, I guess) until our children flipped out.

So we did what any parent would do in this situation and went by them again, this time with the camera rolling. The kids reacted just as much gusto as the first time.

Alexander must have felt like he was in one of those dreams where you have to run but can't move your legs, strapped into his seat, completely helpless. Zoë melted off the cart and leeched onto my leg. I had to drag her past the werewolf, around the corner to where the hoses were.

Poor, poor babies. But, so funny.

I realize not everyone thinks this is funny (thanks for that, Twitter..."Your kids will grow up to hate you. Hope that was worth it" (jokes on you, bro, because they were going to grow up to hate us anyway)), but my entire family was laughing about it so at least I know where I get my humour. I have one particular aunt who loves Halloween and decorates her house rather epically every year and she was terribly amused by Alexander's reaction (and probably wants (or already has) that werewolf).

This is "that one aunt" of mine all dressed up for the Zombie Walk in San Diego (their whole family attends somewhat annually)

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Bug bite update

It seems like every time I blink a week has rushed past and I've hardly had a chance to write anything. We're not even doing anything other than getting nice and comfortable with the daily grind, which is, I suppose, still something.

On Monday we mostly worked hard to get more settled.

On Tuesday they went back to school. Even though we're in the middle of a September heat wave (no hurricane for us, not this time (plus we're four hours away from the coast so y'all can relax)), Benjamin went to school with long sleeves and long pants because—as threatened—we mummified his arms and legs.

I've tried just putting bandaids over his weeks-old mosquito bites, but he just peels those off and picks them. Sometimes he peels them off, picks them, and then sticks them back on. And then he wants to know how I know (it's because he always peels off the same side of the bandaid, so only one side of the bandaid loses its stick (and then there's, you know, the fresh blood and so forth)).

On Wednesday he once again managed to find long sleeves and long pants.

This morning, however, he did not and he went to school in a t-shirt. His teacher had a little panic attack and took him to the school nurse (doctor?) who then called us to clarify what the bandages were for. Mrs. P. had been worried that he'd been badly burned and wondered if he should be venturing outside for recess. Andrew, who'd been the one to field the call (because I never manage to answer my cell phone), assured them that it was simply to keep him from picking himself.

The nurse (doctor? (I'm very unclear on their status)) laughed about this, said it was a good idea, and cleared Benjamin for recess.

His bites are really looking pretty good, so hopefully we'll have cured him of this bad habit and we can send him out into the world bandage-free.

I asked Benjamin why he didn't just tell his teacher that the bandages were covering up bug bites (that he'd picked until they festered and which he will not leave alone). He said he did but she didn't believe him because they looked "rather official."

I think I'm probably more embarrassed about his bandages than he is; when I initially put them on he started flexing and said, "Alright! Now I look like a strong man!"


Monday, September 02, 2019

A very Benjamin FHE

On Sunday Benjamin came home from church with a little stop sign and a bunch of magnets and a burning desire to teach a family night lesson on temptation. So we let him.

He used magnets to stick all sorts of things to the white board: a paper with $3000 written on it, some cardboard shoe shapers,* some pirate action figures, a magnifying glass, some hair elastics, a headband with a brochure... It was all seemingly very random.

This is Alexander (not Benjamin) in front of the board, obviously
"So, temptation..." Benjamin began his lesson. "Which thing would you be most tempted to do?" he asked, and then started pointing out things on the board. "Steal $3000 from a bank? Take these shoes—these reinforcers represent actual shoes—from the store without paying for them? Or...join a pirate crew?"

Speechless—from shock, confusion, and amusement—we all stared back at him.

"Dad—what's your biggest temptation?"

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Work hard to play hard

We've been working hard to transform the basement from a dank, scary cave into a place worthy of play. We weren't looking for anything fancy. Just somewhere our children could play without inhaling mold spores or getting caught in Aragog's web or getting lost in some deep, dark corner somewhere.

So we had the basement walls sealed so that rainwater wouldn't pour through them anymore. We ripped the carpet off the ceiling and walls and floor. We had someone come in to frame the basement and install electricity for lights—and even put them add switches instead of a pull-cords (fancy). Then we decided to sand the carpet glue off the floor since our contractor told us it would make it easier to keep the floor clean.

In the long run, he meant to add (I'm sure), because—boy, howdy!—did we ever make a mess!!

At first we tried scraping it off with a little scraper tool. I spent about an hour scraping and covered about one entire square foot. It was ridiculous. Andrew tried scraping, too, quite sure he would be better at it than I had been—and he was. But it was still slow going. So he decided to rent a floor maintainer, a hulking behemoth of a machine. 

It was much more efficient...once we figured out how to work it.

Andrew turned it on and it yanked him across the room, leaving a wild swirl of uneven scrapes across the floor. He tried a second time and again it went screaming around the room. Finally (after watching a few YouTube videos), Andrew learned that you have to really lean into it and use your hips and entire upper body to kind of guide it where you want it to go. 

Once he knew what he was doing, we zoomed through it. 

And by "zoomed" I mean it took us like five hours.