Monday, August 23, 2010

Positive Press

Gosh, I've been so busy canning tomatoes and peaches that I've almost forgotten we are homeschoolers! Until, that is, I had this amusing chat with Owen's dental hygienist, who thinks that homeschooling is okay, as long as it is 'school-at-home:'

Hygienist: Well, Owen, when do you start homeschooling? Time to bust out the books soon, right?

Owen (with Mr. Thirsty, the little mouth vac, halfway down his throat): Ungh?

Me: When should we count the beginning of our year, Owen? Maybe, the first museum we visit this September? Our first trip to Old Sturbridge Village? Our camping trip on the Cape next month?

As I tick off some of the fun things we'll be doing soon, the hygienist's jaw drops further and further.

Me again: We like to do more experiential learning while the weather's nice.

Hygienist: Well, I guess you do! Owen, it sounds like you are going to have a fun school year...

Owen (nodding, as Mr. Thirsty jiggles up and down in his mouth): Ungh-huh!

After a few months of nobody asking the boys why they're not in school, I got used to blending in; it was something of a shock to realize that soon we'll be standing out again, two 'big boys' and their mom.

But we won't be standing out quite as much as homeschoolers used to - and we have more and more resources to help us along our homeschooling way. My friend Kerry, author of the fun and funny Topsy-Techie blog until last May, runs one such resource, Recently, Kerry was interviewed by The Detroit Free Press about just this topic; here is the article, More Resources Help Metro Homeschoolers Go Mainstream.

Kerry talks about "accidental homeschoolers... families who never planned on it until a child's health problem, a poor fit with a teacher or a lack of special learning resources led them to try it." This is exactly why we decided to try homeschooling, as you can read here if you'd like.

When we started, I could never have imagined how wonderful homeschooling would turn out to be. Some of my favorite times have been when it was just my 'big boys' and me; other favorite times have involved the large and wonderful homeschooling community we are blessed to live in. Still other favorite times have been totally online, like Jena's Virtual Field Trip. (Isn't it getting on time for another one, Jena? Nudge, nudge? :-)

I am as secular as it is possible to be, and I wake up every morning thanking Goodness for this life I am living, this accidental, crazy, messy, fun life - and the people who make it that way.

8/24/10 Update - I woke up this morning remembering a few other favorite bloggy moments:
Firefly Mom's hilarious chat about the birds and the bees one night at the dinner table (I can't find it, though I have searched your archives - help me, Firefly Mom. You're my only hope!).
9/13/10 - Firefly Mom came through: here it is!
Susan's amazing Revolutionary Road Trip. Favorite bits include Philly, Old Sturbridge Village, and the rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center. And the desk, of course!
This last one's new, from the blog of my lifelong buddy Shannon, noiselessly forth. Her photography is breathtaking, and - I can't believe I am sharing this - she posted video footage of a bunch of us singing karaoke at a party a few weeks ago. I'm on the extreme right of the video; we sound terrible, but hoo hoo, it was fun! (I can't get a link directly to the video, which may not be such a loss... if you want to see it though, scroll through Shannon's posts until you get to the video marked 'karaoke fun.' Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Obnoxious Political Snail Mail, Take 2

Well, didn't this just arrive on the perfect day, with Luke and Owen at Camp Grandma and me with plenty of time on my hands to rant freely...

Some of you may remember, back this winter, I got several pieces of mail from one of our illustrious political parties in which the tone was depressing, oppressing, and threatening all at the same time. It really got me down, enough that I turned to you all for support, and felt much better reading your comments and thoughts on the political climate in this country. At least I am not the only one who thinks that this type of mailing might perhaps be detrimental rather than helpful!

Fast forward to yesterday, when I got a large-ish envelope marked up in red shouting, "SECOND NOTICE --- REGISTERED DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED". My first thought was that I'd done something wrong, forgotten to pay an important bill, but I wised up when I opened the envelope and read the post-it stating impatiently, "we have not received your response to the survey sent to you earlier. Please complete and respond right away." Of course, it was in a font meant to look like somebody had hand-written this little reminder, which just bugs the crap out of me, especially since there was never any first notice.

This irritating mail came from the political party currently in power, and as a result it wasn't quite as foam-at-the-mouth rabid as the snailings I got in the winter. Which was good, I guess. But how many "leaders such as [me]," "especially chosen" to "provide input" - and inject cash - will they really get when they treat us awesome 'leaders' like scofflaws who need second notices marked up in red to get us to contribute?

I am probably just getting old, but this mailings pays me, the recipient, so little respect, and I just find that infuriating. They get you to open the envelope by making you think you've done something wrong, and then they tell you how they need leaders like you? When it turns out that what they need, of course, isn't your leadership or your input. Except for the input from your bank account.

This is no way to run a country, that is for sure. It's so divisive - each party wants you to believe that the other side is not looking out for you, your family, or your best interests. Each party is so invested in knocking the other one down, it is easy to forget that, as President Lincoln said, "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

Humbug! (That's me, feeling old :-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Very Harry Summer

So, we are all obsessed with Harry Potter. Again.

Only, this time Owen is old enough to enjoy, too; it is just so much fun. Here are some pics of our particular brand of Pottermania:

That's the Hogwarts Owen and I made early on in the summer - when we found out that they're re-releasing Harry Potter legos! Notice the Durmstrang ship in the lake? Owen's.

That's Owen as a Death Eater, a costume he made with the help of his Auntie Lena. Check out the eyeliner veins!

Yes, I knitted them owls... they 'arrived' on the mornings of the boys' birthdays with certificates from Eeylops Owl Emporium.

Here's Luke with his new screech owl...

... and Owen with Barney, the barn owl.

Lastly, here are a few Potter-related links -

Owen was super-sick last week, with a high fever, the most lethargic I've ever seen him. Usually when we listen to Harry Potter on CD, Owen is jumping around, or playing with lego, or something; I couldn't stand just watching him lie on the couch, so I thought back to my own childhood. When I was sick, it was all about paper dolls. A quick Google search brought up Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, a virtual universe of paper dolls with clothes and accessories for all four Hogwarts houses! It is awesome, there is simply no other word.

We also used these directions to make our own fantastic Marauder's Map.

And no paper doll collection would be complete without this, the Severus Snape paper doll. I got a total kick out of the gray skivvies (Luke theorized that maybe there's a Permanent Sticking Charm on them, hence the color) and the Hawaiian beachwear. Imagine Snape at the beach!

Once again, J.K. Rowling's amazing universe is making us muggles feel better, even when we are sick.