Homeschool

A very different 1st day of 8th grade than any of us imagined a year ago!

Photo Aug 30, 11 28 27 AM

Pictures of him taken after he got home from his 1st day of 8th grade.

For the past 2 school years, B has played sports for a local private school. Isn’t that awesome they allow homeschoolers to join their sports teams?! Last Winter he met a boy on the basketball team who was a homeschooler and going to this private school part-time. We didn’t know that was an option! By Spring, B told us he would like to try going to a traditional school for freshman year of high school. He wanted to see what it was about and if he would like it. We felt we’d be throwing him to the wolves if we just dropped him off at the public high school without any experience or preparation. So, we enrolled him, part-time, in the private school where he’s been playing sports. Yesterday was his first day.

He had been so confident and excited to start this new adventure all Summer. Me, not so much. I love our homeschool life! The flexibility, going anywhere we want on any given day, rabbit-holing for days, weeks or months about a subject or topic that B’s interested in, staying in PJs all day if we want, meeting so many different SMEs in and out of the area and learning so much from them, no one to report to if he’s sick, and learning together.

The goal of parenthood is to raise confident, secure kids who can and want to go out into the world and I love that he wants to go and try new things. But it still hurts a mom’s heart to realize this is the beginning of the end. Pretty soon he’ll no longer need me to drive him anywhere and then he’ll be off in college and we won’t talk everyday. I won’t know where he is and what he’s doing any given moment of the day at some time in the future! So this is a great transition to that time.

I have been so upset for the past week, though! I am grieving as if we just dropped him off at college and not at a school a few miles away for less than 4 hours a day! It just reminds me, again, that he is our only one. There are no more babies at home and there will not be anymore babies at home, no matter how hard we try. I’m going through that grieving process all over again.

Last week we attended Back-to-School Night. Very different from when I was a kid. Back-to-School Night used to happen a few weeks into the school year and only for parents. Parents follow their child’s schedule, meet teachers and listen to what their kids are going to learn. This one was for the entire family and took place before school started. We were to bring his school supplies and locker decorations and everything could be all set up and ready for him on the first day of school.

My anxiety and weepiness of the past week disappeared at Back-to-School Night! I got all caught up in the love and fellowship, happy B could meet his teachers and see where the classrooms were in relation to his locker ahead of time. However, the reality of starting at a traditional school slammed into Mr. Excited & Confident that night and we had a little incident at the lockers. He looked like a caged animal, panicked and then lashed out at me. Poor thing! And he was like that when he was home until I left him at the school yesterday. He was freaking out about not knowing what the rules are, getting sent to the principle’s office, not being able to keep up with lessons, etc. He basically went up his tree.

We just had to reassure him and remind him that:

  • There is Grace in abundance for him at the school! They know this is all new to him and will help him along.
  • He is a good kid with a good head on his shoulders. He’s not a vandal, he’s not mean, he doesn’t talk back, he knows what is right and what is wrong and, if he has any doubt, the Holy Spirit will activate his intuition and let him know.
  • Although he’s not the best speller (he scored a 4th grade level in Spelling on the school’s entrance exam) the school was not concerned and knows they can turn that around before the year is out. Plus, he scored an 11th grade level in Reading Comprehension and college level in Math! Being bored might be more of a concern than not keeping up. 😉
  • This isn’t a life sentence. He’s going to see if he likes a traditional school or, more to the point, does he like more aspects of it than he doesn’t (because there are always pros and cons to each situation). We can re-evaluate at the end of the first quarter, during Christmas break, etc., and the same goes for high school.

Yesterday before walking into the school, I prayed over him in the car. I went in the school with him to get him to his locker, do some decorating that didn’t get done on Back-to-School Night, show him where the classrooms were (he was stressed and nothing was sticking in his head), and to let him know he’s not in this alone. I was doing really well keeping my own shit together so as not to make him lose his until the Admissions Director and then the Principal came out of their offices when they saw us walk by, hug me and ask with sympathetic faces, “How ya doing, Mom?” NEVER ask someone holding their shit together with spider webs if they are OK!!! My son saw my eyes leaking and he didn’t need that on him, too! I do have to say they have been so wonderful and patient with us and I feel confident that B is in a safe place.

He had some trouble multi-tasking in a class, and he got his back up because two female teachers who talked about the rules of the school and in their classrooms used only scenarios with boys in them while describing what not to do (insert eye-roll). And he’s sad about all the things he won’t get to do because he’s chosen to be in school 5 days a week.

I have to admit, we were quite taken aback on Back-to-School Night when the Science teacher started talking about Evolution vs. Creationism, as well as a question on yesterday’s Science homework asking if you thought climate change was a fact. But we’re reminding ourselves that not everyone sees eye-to-eye on all issues and hearing another person’s perspective on any subject is educational. You can learn about a topic as well as learn about the person speaking.

He takes 3 classes (Civics, English & Science) 4 days a week and on the 5th day, he adds a 4th class, Health. You know, girls go off with a female teacher and boys go off with a male teacher (one of B’s coaches), and they talk about manly bits and other subjects. We have very open dialogues regarding our bodies, respect for each other, sex, drugs, etc., but it’s always just B with one or both of his parents. We felt it beneficial for B to discuss these and other topics with boys his age in the room and an adult leading. It’s good for a kid to know others do and feel the same things or are confused about the same things. The hubs and I also are hoping that subjects we have neglected to, or didn’t know to, bring up will be addressed by the Coach teaching the class and B can come home and continue the dialogue with us.

I know this is long, but I have to share one more things about B’s first day of school. I tried so hard to keep it together until I walked out of that school and I assumed I would sit and bawl in my car for an hour, so I passed on the Admission’s Director’s offer to come by her office for coffee and bagels. However, as soon as I walked out the door, my eyes dried up, I felt no emotion (god or bad) at all, and I got a headache. I didn’t want to go home, so I went to the local Chik-fil-A and sat in the parking lot looking at everyone’s back to school pix on Facebook until they started serving lunch at 10:30am. I ate my sandwich and drank my coke there and took the side salad for today’s lunch (which I’m eating right now). I drove to the liquor store and bought a pint of Tito’s because I knew I’d need it (and, DAMMIT, I deserved it!) with dinner.

As I drove home, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t cried yet and why I had this headache. I was traveling on a road with a 55 MPH speed limit and had all the windows open. I cried out to God, “WHY can’t I cry?! I need to cry, I need to release all this before I pick him up so he doesn’t feel guilty or responsible for my normal, parenting grief! Please, God!” And you know what? The dam immediately broke and the sobs came. I reached up a hand to clear my eyes and all of a sudden there were tissues swirling around me, like I was in the eye of a tissue tornado. Even though I was going 60 MPH, none of them flew out the window. There were at least a dozen of them. I grabbed 2 out of the air and after dabbing my eyes, I looked around and there weren’t anymore tissues to be seen. I wondered where the tissues came from and then realized we usually keep a box of tissues in the back seat and the wind through the open windows must have flung them around.

When I got home, I searched the car for all the other tissues that were flying about and only found one more, which is a good thing because I needed to blow my nose! There was no box of tissues in the car, anywhere. The hubs had tasked B with cleaning the car out the week before. No tissues nor trash anywhere. I realized my headache was gone and that God had sent me the tissues. I am so humbled and blessed to be called His own and so thankful to Him for reaching out to me in my time of need.

Thrifty Thursday: Creating Costumes from the Thrift Store

I know, I know! I’ve done a Thrifty Thursday post about the thrift store before. However, I recently was put in the position to make 3 Star Wars costumes for my son, and I couldn’t have done it without my favorite thrift store. Plus, I’m really proud of how well I did under pressure. So, bear with me.

My son was in a Star Wars performance in December. His troupe performed three scenes from Episode IV: A New Hope: the trash compactor, Luke & Leah escaping Stormtroopers by swinging over an abyss, and fighting their way to the Millennium Falcon to escape the Death Star while watching Darth Vader kill Ben Kenobi. B had the rolls of Han Solo (my favorite character out of all 7 movies), a stormtrooper and Ben Kenobi.

After the first meeting when he told me he had 3 parts, I said, “I was prepared to come up with one costume, but three? OK, we’ve got time to try and put these together.” B assured me that the teacher had all the costumes and we didn’t have to provide anything. “Are you sure,” I asked, to which he emphatically said, “Yes.”

Several weeks go by and the day before B’s performance was payday – my run errands, fill the gas tanks and buy groceries day. By mid-afternoon, I had a nagging feeling about the costumes.

Me: “Are you sure that your teacher will be providing everything you need for all 3 of your costumes?”
B: “OH! I forgot to tell you after class last week! Yeah, he thought he had costumes for me but he doesn’t.”
Me (*Blink. Blink, blink. deep breath*): So, you’re telling me that I have to come up with costumes for Han Solo, a stormtrooper and Ben Kenobi with robe, with 21 hours left until your performance?!”
B (Eyes slowly getting as big as saucers as that reality sinks in.): No. No, Ma. It’s my fault. You don’t have to come up with anything! I’ll figure something out. Don’t worry.
Me: No. I can do this! Get in the car!

And off to my favorite thrift store we went! I bought 2 things – a white, mens, long-sleeved shirt and a brown, decorative, womens sweater. Total: $3. (I also found a Ralph Lauren blazer in B’s size, excellent condition, on the $1 rack! I had to buy it.) I found nothing that would work for Ben Kenobi’s hooded robe, but I did find white “Joey Buttafuoco” pants that were white with a black elastic waistband and black trim on the pockets. The white shirt would work as a top for both Han Solo and a stormtrooper and the pants were a little too big for B, so they’d be easy to take on and off over his jeans to switch between the 2 characters. After looking disgustedly at the white pants, however, B decided he didn’t think there’d be enough time for such a “complicated” wardrobe change and would stick to his jeans. ;o)

The white shirt just needed to be washed. I cut the arms off the womens decorative brown sweater, turned it inside out and had Han Solo’s vest. An old cap gun holster was dug out of a toy bin in the bowels of the basement. Han Solo done!

Photo Jan 21, 9 45 40 PM

 

 

Party City was all out of Stormtrooper masks, but I found a free printable online and printed it out on card stock. I cut it out, cut out the eye holes and used clear packaging tape to attach the mask to B’s favorite sunglasses: they are white and wrap-around. Stormtrooper done!

Photo Jan 21, 9 47 31 PM

I walked around the house, looking for something to make Ben Kenobi’s robe and my eyes fell on the heavy, room-darkening curtain we hang at the back door. It’s very drafty at that door and the curtain keeps the cold air out and the heat in. Perfect! I went down to the basement and got the other curtain (bought them as a pair) and draped it over B to get inspiration. I realized I needed something to pinch off the hood of the robe, but the small rubber bands we had would likely break when he put the robe on. So, I used Hickies, these really cool fasteners that B has on his sneakers. Two of them were hooked together about a quarter of the way down. In addition to the robe, I offered to make B one of the felt Jedi uniforms to go under it, like I made for his Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party, but he declined, once again siting time constraints on costume changes. (Evidently Han Solo & Ben Kenobi were in the same scene!). He got one of his lightsabers from the garage and…Ben Kenobi done!

Photo Jan 21, 8 39 31 PM

Even if PartyCity had mens Star Wars costumes in stock (or if I’d known weeks earlier that I needed them and ordered them online), I would have spent $39.99 on the Han Solo costume, $4.99 for a stormtrooper mask (or $49.99 for the whole costume) and $19.99 for a robe. But I spent $3 at the thrift store. THAT, plus the fact I did it all in less than 2 hours, is what makes this a great Thrifty Thursday post. ;o)

I wanted a sign.

5:25am  As instructed, the hubs got me up before leaving for work.  (Last night, while we were cleaning up after Bible circle, I said to the hubs, “Don’t forget to wake me up before you go to work tomorrow.”  He replied, “You mean…wake you up before I…go-go?”  “Yes,” I laughed. “Wake me up before you go-go!”)

5:34am  I sit down at the computer, pull up a particular site and have a credit card at the ready.  Registration for the Fall semester of amazing homeschool classes begins at 6:00am.  One of my friends described it so accurately yesterday: a shark feeding frenzy.  You have to be up and hope you are quick enough to get your kids into the classes they want.  Why?  Although there are a good number of companies and individuals who are catering to homeschoolers now, the majority of them offer core subjects (Math, Language Arts, Science), gym and tend to cater to the younger students (up to 3rd grade).

The place I am talking about definitely offers core subjects, but also electives in languages, art, music, cooking, computers, architecture, making this planet a better place, and so much more!  There is hands-on and interactive learning and live performances of historical characters by professions actors who work in museums.  These are not classes doing “school” at home; this is HOMEschool!  These are classes we’d want to create for our kids if we were subject matter experts and had the resources.  These are classes our kids beg to take, are so excited to get to and you know what?  There are no tests!  It is purely for the love of learning and advancing themselves in a topic they are passionate about!

5:56am  Had to refresh the registration page, just in case it went live early.  Classes are only once a week, but they happen to fall on a day that has other obligations for us, so it can be a hectic day.  Especially for this mama, who is an introvert and does not enjoy being around people.

5:59am  Be back soon…

6:00am  DAMMIT!  So many people trying to register, I can’t get on!

6:06am  I got to the registration page and managed to enter one class to my cart, but the other one won’t.  I’m just getting this swirly thing, telling me the computer is thinking…

6:12am  Still can’t get the 2nd class in my cart.  I’ve tried checking out with the one class so it is secured before it fills up, but I can’t get to my cart.  Their site is so overwhelmed with parents trying to register.  I’m messaging with a friend who is also trying.  She almost made me pee my pants with laughter when she references the “swirls of death”, taunting us, leaving us in limbo, wondering if we’ll ever get our kids in these classes!

6:33am  FINALLY got second class added to cart!  Trying to get into the cart to checkout now…

6:43am  CHECKED OUT, PAID AND CONFIRMATION EMAIL RECEIVED!!!!!!  If B wasn’t still asleep, I’d be whooping, doing a happy dance and singing the Hallelujah chorus!  I don’t know how people can work on the stock exchange floor day in and day out; this was so stressful!

You know, as I was hitting refresh, refresh, refresh, and getting the message, “error in connecting to server” over and over and over again, I kept wondering if maybe not getting into these classes was for the best.  I hate Wednesdays, mostly because of these classes. I started to hope that he didn’t get into the classes.  But as soon as that thought took seed, the website worked for me and I got both classes into my cart and was able to check out.  So I did.

Near the end of our Wednesday night Bible circle, before we break out dessert, we take turns telling our prayer requests and thanksgivings.  Last night, my thanksgiving was that yesterday was the last day of these classes I shlep B to every Wednesday, then rush home for flag football practices/games and then Bible circle.  I was thankful that this was the first Wednesday all school year that I did not think about drinking (or actually pour a drink) as soon as we got home!  The relief I felt that it was over!  Then the hubs mentioned that I had to be up at the crack of dawn this morning for Fall registration and one of the men in our circle asked me, “Then why do you do this?!  If it’s so stressful and it makes you want to drink, why?”

It was a very valid question with a very simple answer: for my son.  It’s not his fault that his mom is an introvert who wants to hermit all day.  I refuse to let my anxieties cripple his life and his opportunities.  There are certain subjects that I can’t teach him and I won’t hold back this child who loves the classes, the teachers and the other students there with him.

But I did put my foot down for this coming Fall.  We won’t be there all day.  He can’t take whatever classes he wants – one starting at 9am, another at 2pm and he’ll take some other classes in between or just play with the other kids.  I really wanted to be out of there by 2pm, but I would push it back to 3pm if it was an important class.  I was firm on that.  So, the last class I just registered him for ends at 3:30pm.  ;o)  He really wants to concentrate on his acting, so he’s taking back-to-back acting classes.  I’m OK with that.  We’ll only be there for 2.5 hours and I don’t have to pack lunch.  I have two friends there that I can talk to when I want to and who don’t mind if I go off by myself (I could have more friends, if I wanted to, but I choose not to socialize.)

7:47am  The registration website is down, due to “unprecedented traffic”.  I’m glad I got in when I did.  It was a sign.  :o)

Movie Wednesday

Last year, I told you about our Language Arts curriculum, Brave Writer’s The Arrow.  Today is Movie Wednesday, but we didn’t watch a movie.  We watched a show that aired on ABC last night – Countdown to the Oscars: 15 Movies That Changed American Cinema.  I saw the show on the guide several minutes after 10pm, turned on the TV and hit record.  When we watched it this morning, it only captured #14 through #1.  I’ve searched the internet and cannot find what #15 was, so if you saw the show, please let me know!  Anywho, watching this 54 minute show provided lessons in not only Language Arts, but also History (of our country and the movie industry), Civil Rights and Cinematography.  B wants to make movies when he grows up.  He really enjoys doing it now and this show gave great, historical insight.  In the future, we will watch almost all of these movies for the content and ingenuity they will lend to B’s education.

Language Arts

The Brave Writer Lifestyle teaches us the importance of word selection in stories, whether they are told in books or movies.  When you read a great line in a book, the delivery is yours, in your head.  The tone of a book B reads may come across completely differently when I read it.  With movies, you hear an actor in character saying an iconic line; see the expression and emotion on their face as it’s delivered.  How many lines from movies stick with us, do we use in our daily lives?  Lines from movies decades old, movies we’ve seen years ago, still stick with us and we want to make that impression on others when we write (or act). Every movie on last night’s show had lines like that.  This show also reminded us when it’s fitting to not use “proper” English; when the local and/or historical way of speaking should be used. See if you can tell from which movie these lines came:

  1. “Whuzzah happenin’, hot stuff?”
  2. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
  3. “STELLA!”
  4. “Well, when I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.”
  5. “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

History

Ever movie is on this list because it made cinematic history.  The Production Codes were created in the 1930s to censor future movies after I’m No Angel was released.  The multi-plane camera was invented in order to bring the first, full-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to the screen. Easy Rider was the 1st indy film that became a blockbuster.  2001: A Space Odyssey birthed the Sci-Fi genre.  Jaws showed us that the score of a movie can make a villain.

So many times during this show, we paused to discuss not only the what and why of a storyline, but also the filming.  The shower scene in Psycho was a great topic!

B: [Janet Leigh’s character] was ridiculous in the shower!  She just stood there and kept letting out short screams while the bad guy took forever to raise his knife.  She should have attacked him or knocked him over and run.
Me: She didn’t scream that long.  She gave one scream, and the director chose to play it over and over again, at different angles, to prepare the audience for what was about to happen.  Otherwise, the scene may have gone by before the audience could absorb it and they might have missed it.  (I hit play again and B listened to commentators on the show describe how Alfred Hitchcock reinvented fear in this movie.  Audiences had not seen anything like this before and it was so horrifying without even being gory.)
B: I get it!  No one was expecting a murderer.  No one was expecting that character.  The director had to give the audience a second to get what was about to happen so that they could get and be afraid of it as it happened.  Cool!

But these movies also taught us about our History.  In clips from The Birth of a Nation, B learned that KKK members not only dressed in white but also covered their horses.  Although Hattie McDaniel was nominated for, and won, an Oscar for Gone with the Wind, she was not allowed to sit at the same table with her cast mates.  She was segregated to her own table in the back.  We discussed the significance of a black man cast as the main character of a motion picture (Lillies of the Field) in 1962 and Sidney Poitier winning an oscar.  B watched Halle Berry’s emotional acceptance speech in 2001 with shock that a woman of color had not won best actress until the 21st century.  Easy Rider was created by, for and about the 60s generation.

Oh my goodness, I can go on and on about this show and the wonderful lessons we got from it today, but I have to stop and make dinner now.  I can’t wait to watch one of these films next Wednesday!

Painting

20150210_174148 After 2 years of major renovations, from foundation to roof, my brother was finally able to move back into his house a couple of weeks ago. He asked B to paint a mural on this small section of wall between his back door and a window. B painted it yesterday and my brother sent me a picture of it last night. It’s B and his favorite Uncle in a NERF battle! It says “Good Times” and B even signed & dated it at the bottom (I blurred that out). B painted himself “behind” the light switches (the switch plate is off in this picture).  He came up with this idea in his head and then just painted it.  He didn’t sketch it on paper nor on the wall before painting.  He just did it. And he doesn’t critique his work; doesn’t point out flaws and say he could have done better. He’s happy with what he created, proud of it and accepts our praise and complements graciously.  Man, does this kid continually show me how be a better person, a content person, a self-loving person!

Filing Taxes

Sitting down to do my taxes. I love doing them!  Working with freshly sharpened pencils, rubbing the rectangular, pink eraser in between my thumb and forefinger as I calculate in my head, the shuffling of papers.  There is also such a feeling of accomplishment when you can navigate all the government and accountant wording. I love Math, I love puzzles and I love not having to pay anyone nor any software company to do them for me.

My dad used to do them until 1998. That year, the hubs and I bought our 1st house and I decided to try my hand at it.  I don’t know why I never tried before, when our tax life was much simpler.  Starting with the first year that we itemized, moved from one state to another and worked in one state while living in another one, would seem daunting, but I was up for the challenge.  I had the instruction manual and my dad to call when I had questions.  I was nervous when I finished and handed our forms to my dad to check my numbers.  However, I got it all right and I was hooked!

Years later, when we no longer owned a home and our credit union offered access to an online tax company, we gave it a try.  It was free, it was kind of easy and it saved all the info I inputted so I didn’t have to go searching for last years tax forms when it came time to do this year’s filing.  However, it didn’t turn out to be free, and each year the price kept going up, so I went back to the instruction manual, paper forms and a pencil.

How do your taxes get done?

  1. Do them yourself on paper.
  2. Do them yourself with software.
  3. A family member does them.
  4. An accountant does them.
  5. Go to a tax preparation company, such as H&R Block.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside!”

B: I’ve been listening to that song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” all month and I don’t understand. What grown women who is old enough to date still lives with her parents, brother and aunt?!

Me: Hey! I was still living with your Nana & Poppop when I met your dad!

This lead to a discussion of what American life was like in the 1940s, when this song was written.  Women got married earlier back then and, more than not, did not have a job.  Most men and and women went straight from their parents’ house to their own when they got married.  The maiden aunt in the song had never been married and was now living with her brother or sister (maybe their parents had passed away) because that’s the way it was.

Until we entered World War II, when most of the men were shipped off to war and the women were needed en mass in the workplace to replace the men and, most importantly, work in factories that made military essentials.  They had freedom, responsibilities and pride like they may not have ever had before.  They were glad to be contributing, to help their country, and keep their minds off, even for just their shift, how much they worried about their fathers/brothers/boyfriends/husbands.  While the men were fighting for the world’s freedom, the women kept this country running.

Unfortunately, when the war was over, and the surviving men came back home, the women were pushed out, told to go back to keeping house and hosting luncheons and let the men take over again.  It was very hard for many them!  They were told they weren’t needed, weren’t wanted, anymore.  We had a really good discussion about this!

B: Thanks for telling me all of this, Ma.  I really enjoyed talking about it.  :o)

A Homeschool Vent

Something has bothered me for years and I need to let it out.  If fact, I’ve probably let it out before, but it’s still happening so I need to vent again.  It’s a little annoyance, really, but it stems from lack of thinking, courtesy or respect for others and their time.  It’s so little in fact, that as soon as I take my eyes off of it, it is forgotten.  However, the next time I open my email, chances are I am face-to-face with this issue again and the annoyance rises up.  So here goes…

I belong to a statewide homeschool email list.  There are almost 2,000 members and it is a place to post and discuss not just all things homeschool, but also homeschooling in this state.  Each state has it’s own laws regarding homeschooling that we all must meet and sometimes a county or school district unintentionally misinterprets those laws when putting them into practice.  It’s wonderful to have advocates and experienced parents to discuss and help.

My issue is with members who post about a class/event/activity to a statewide group without listing the city or town it’s taking place in at the top of the post or even at all! It’s even in the etiquette of posting rules that is shared once a month: : “WHEN POSTING AN EVENT: Include the location in parentheses (City or Town) first, name of the event, and date in the subject line…”  In the subject line.  That would be lovely if locations were in the subject line, so I could scan through the email titles to see if there are any activities in our area that would interest B.  But they aren’t.  And finding the city or town anywhere in an email can be rare.  I find street addresses, names of housing developments, community centers and franchised karate studios, but no city or town.

Lots of emails are forwards of activities.  For example, say Jane is on the email list of her local library and they sent out an email on a free Science class next month.  Since the email was sent only to people who signed up to receive notifications from that library, there may or may not be a full address in the email.  It may only have “Main Street Library” or “Andrew Jackson Library” on it (I just made up those library names).  Jane thinks the Science class on this email looks awesome and wants to share.  She forwards to this statewide group and shares in her message the wonderful experiences her children have had with past Science classes at this library and how much she recommends classes here.  So I have to read through all of her comments and get no town or city.  Then I read through the forwarded message to learn the details of this great Science class and get excited because it’s perfect for my child and the day and time works for our schedule.  But I still have no idea where it is because I have not heard of the library.  So I Google it and find that it is a couple of hours away and with rush hour traffic, tack on more hours to get there and back.  Not worth it and I’ve wasted my time researching this.

Some of you may say, “Well, why didn’t you stop when you didn’t recognize the library name?  That should have told you it was out of your area.”  Believe it or not, there are more libraries in this country than McDonald’s and just because we homeschool doesn’t mean we have the names of all the ones within a 100 mile radius of us memorized.  😉  I can’t even remember my own personal schedule, let alone the names of all the libraries in my and the surrounding counties.

And this happens all the time.  Sometimes there are dozens of emails a month, sometimes hundreds.  That time invested and disappointment add up.  I don’t think any homeschooler is intentionally withholding location information from emails.  They are just really busy with their own lives, but want to share something with the rest of us, and send something short and quick.  I just wish they’d remember how busy the rest of us are, too, and took 3 seconds to add a city to the subject line.

Hump Day is a perfect description for our Wednesdays lately!

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B happily writing a song about Thanksgiving for his Songwriting class.

This is our second “semester” of B taking classes outside of the home regularly. It’s been fun and he’s learned things that I could not teach.   The classes are all at the same place and on in the same day of the week, which is very convenient. But it’s also tiring.

This semester he’s taking 3 classroom classes and was outside in a running class for the 2nd half of last semester and 1st half of this semester. With the running class, we were out of the house from 9am-5pm; since running is over, it’s 10:15am-5pm. When we get home, we grab a quick dinner made by the hubs and dash out for another activity that is 6-9pm.

In October, we joined a Circle at our church. A Circle is a small group of men, women, couples or families who meet regularly. Spiritual formation is meant to happen in community, not just in private. Some circles study the Bible, share their stories, perform community service together or all the above. We were invited to join an existing circle when one of the families moved out of state. Our circle meets every Wednesday from 6-9pm, and each family hosts 2 months a year.

Circle has been a wonderful blessing in all 3 of our lives, but it is quite taxing on this introvert!  When we dash home for dinner, I am DONE. I don’t want to go back out. I want to get in my jammies, be served dinner by the hubs and crawl in bed, shutting out all the noise and movement of the world. Even B, my extrovert, is showing some wear and tear. 😯  Something has to give!  (BTW, we are in AWE of families who go to work/school all day and then have extra curricular activities/homework/sports/church activities/dinner/together time, all before bed. Y’all are superheroes!)

Yesterday, B and I had a heart-to-heart talk about what to do.  We decided to take the next semester off from these outside classes. Winter weather has already set in and, with the amount of snow they are predicting our region will receive this Winter, the idea of hibernating in PJs with Life of Fred, US History and Brave Writer sounds lovely! When the hubs came home from work yesterday afternoon, we told him what we’d decided and he declared it was good. 😉

When we arrived at classes this morning, B headed straight to his first classroom and I went to sign him in before retiring to the parents’ lounge. At the sign-in table, the class list for the 3rd semester was being handed out and date of registration was announced. I made a terrible mistake – I took a class list!
Digital photography! Species effects for film making (the industry in which B wants to work as an adult)! DNA! The US Constitution! Robotics! 😮  I know I should keep this list from B, but I really want to show him, hope he gets as excited as me and then bugs the hubs to go! 😄

What to do?!

Bring a Veteran to School Day

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On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, we participated in Bring a Veteran to School Day.  B called each of his two grandfathers, invited them over and they were both pleasantly surprised and happy to come.  My dad is 45 minutes away; the hubs’ dad is an hour and a half away.  I had originally chosen an arrival time of 11am, so both could avoid rush hour traffic.  However, 2 days before I remembered the moment of silence at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month and told the hubs I should move it up to 10:30am or 10:45am.  He said to leave it as is, and we’ll have our moment whenever they get here.

Around 10am, B and I visited a neighbor who is retired from the Marine Corps.  B shook his hand, thanked him for his service and gave him some cookies and a homemade poppy. That afternoon, the neighbor gave B a Dinar as a thank you gift for the cookies, poppy and appreciation.  B ran into the house to show me and he was so excited!

My dad arrived a little before 11am and my FIL arrived a little after.  My FIL brought B a picture of the trainer airplane that he flew in flight school in Pensacola, a T-28!  To start our little “program”, I announced that we were going to step out onto the front stoop, face the flag over the front door and say The Pledge of Allegiance.  My FIL said, “I’m Quaker.  Quakers don’t pledge to anyone or anything.”  What an amazing life lesson he presented to us!  The I’m offended/political correctness issue is so hotly debated in this country, and with the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa season just around the corner, it’s going to get hotter.  The hubs replied, “That’s alright.  You can still come outside with us and stand in silence while we pledge.”  After they left, I had a discussion with B that how daddy replied is what is great about this country.  We wanted to pledge, so we did.  Grandad didn’t want to pledge so he didn’t.  We all did what we wanted to do.  We did not tell him he had to pledge; we did not skip the pledge all together because he didn’t want to do it.  :o)  After the pledge, the hubs called for a moment of silence to honor those who had given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their countries.

We came back inside and settled the grandads in chairs next to each other.  The hubs, as our school principal, officially welcomed our vets to our school and read this poem about Veterans Day.  Then I got up and read John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields while B handed out a homemade poppy to each of his grandads.  The poppy means a lot to my dad and he was so happy to receive one.  He said he will treasure it.  We all sat down and I told our vets the reason we wanted to bring them here was so that we can honor them, thank them and, most importantly, hear their stories.  B wanted to know what it was like and hear their individual experiences.  He had a list of questions:

When & why did you join the Navy/Army?

What is the primary role of that branch of the military?

What was boot camp like?

Where did you go after boot camp and what were your responsibilities?

How did actually being in the Navy/Army compare to your expectations before you joined?

How did you stay in touch with your family?

What was the food like?

Did you have a best friend?  Did you stay in touch after you got out?

What is your most memorable experience?

Do you remember any funny or unusual experiences?

How did your service in the Navy/Army affect your life – positively and negatively?

Would you do it again?  Anything you wish you had done or handled differently?

Some questions B asked, some questions his grandads answered as they were talking.  B starting by asking my FIL the first question – When and why did you join the Navy? – and after he answered that question, B was going to ask my dad the same question and go back and forth down the list.  However, the conversation that followed was much more organic.  After answering that 1st question with a huge shock to us, he just kept talking.  My FIL is very sweet and has a sense of humor.  But he is a quiet man; doesn’t speak too much when I’m around him.  I think he said more in the 2+ hours he was here than I heard him speak in the last 19 years.  ;o)  He shocked us by answering B’s 1st question with, “I didn’t join the Navy; I was drafted.”  None of us, not even the hubs, knew that!

We talked in the living room for over an hour and continued to talk over lunch in the kitchen (B asked me to make Chicken Tortilla Soup and My Southwestern Cornbread and the 3 of us made Spicy Molasses Cookies for dessert).  We all learned a lot about our dads/grandads that we never knew and my FIL’s experience as an officer and pilot in the Navy was completely different from my dad’s as a soldier in the Army.  Somethings were the same, though, and when one of them was talking, occasionally the other nodded along and chimed in with a, “you’re right”, a laugh or a shake of the head.

When my FIL graduated from high school, the draft was still in place due to the Korean War.  His draft was deferred because he was accepted to college, but they called him up as soon as he graduated.  The Army had been scooping up all the college graduates so the Navy stepped in and took my FIL and some other college graduates who were there that day.  Boot camp was no big deal to my FIL.  He was 23 when he entered the Navy, older than most, and he never took the yelling and attitudes of drill sergeants and superiors personally.  He mentioned one particular drill sergeant who was a second year.  My FIL told him, “Just remember – when boot camp is over, I’m going to be an officer and outrank you.  I’ll expect you to treat me as such.”  After boot camp he was stationed in a few places in Maryland and his stories of his lucky jobs were so fun to hear!  Then he was asked if he wanted to go to flight school in Pensacola.  Um…YEAH!  He said he was lucky; they were treated like royalty, compared to what those who were shipped out.  They had servants who cleaned, did the laundry and cooked.  Once he’d completed flight school, he still owned the Navy 2 years of service.  However, the Korean War was over.  He and the other guys in his training were pulled into a room and told that their contracts were being changed from 2 years to 6 years.  If they were not going to accept the new 6 year contract, they had to pack their bags and leave the Navy that day.  He said they all pulled out quarters and started flipping coins – should I stay or go?  LOL  Most of them left.

As a 17 yr old high school senior from a humble family, my dad knew the only way he was getting a college education was to join the Army and take advantage of the G.I. Bill when he got out.  He told his 2 best friends his plan and they said they should all enlist together, but go into the Navy, not the Army.  My dad was a pale redhead, barely 100 lbs soaking wet, the class clown and he didn’t know how to swim.  Plus, you only had to give the Army 3 years but the Navy got 4 years.  He just couldn’t join the Navy!  But his friends talked him into it.  The Navy had a buddy program and they guaranteed you’d stay together after boot camp.  They all made an appointment with the Navy recruitment office and were going to meet there to enlist.  He was the first to arrive and the recruiter got him started on paperwork.  Before signing, my dad said he wanted to wait for his friends but the recruiter said, “They’re coming. Let’s get you all signed up and then we’ll do them when they get here.”  His friends never showed and my dad had signed on the bottom line.  One buddy’s parents said he was not enlisting, he was going to college and the other buddy decided to be a police officer.  But neither had the guts to tell my dad before he enlisted in a branch of the service that terrified him.  >:o(  (That last sentence is all my words and feelings, not my dad’s.)

The closer he got to high school graduation, the more worried he was, so he went to the local Army recruiting station, told the recruiter what happened and that he really wanted to join the Army, was there anything he can do?  The recruiter took his name and number and said he’d be in touch.  Two and a half weeks before graduation, the recruiter told him he’d taken care of it, my dad was out of his Navy contract and he needed to come down and sign his Army one.  My dad was so relieved!  He has no idea how the recruiter did it because he didn’t ask.  When he signed up, he told the recruiter he was really interested in accounting and would like a job in that field with the Army if possible.  My dad turned 18 on graduation day and was on a bus to boot camp the next day.

As my dad described his experience at boot camp, it reminded me so much of my own experience in culinary arts school!  He said he never knew how sheltered he was until he went into the Army.  There were some really good people there and there were some really terrible people there.  He, like me, was sensitive, and it was hard to be on the receiving end of the drill sergeants.  When boot camp was over, 90% of the men were shipped off to Vietnam and my dad expected to be one of them.  He was surprised when he was sent to Indianapolis, instead, to attend finance school.  He assumed it was the doing of the Army recruiter who had gotten him out of the Navy contract.  Many, many years later, he found out it was the 1st of 2 times that his older brother saved his life.

My dad was eventually shipped out on a troop boat from California to Korea.  My dad served his tour in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).  He shared very vivid memories of good times and bad times over there, and the hubs had to bring tissues to the kitchen table for us.  In fact, just thinking about it now, I need to go get some tissues.  Excuse me.

After his tour in Korea, my dad came home and his service was over.  His oldest brother, C (who is also my godfather), was an Army man and stayed in until retirement.  Sometime after Uncle C retired, he and my dad were talking about their service and my dad found out why he’d never been sent to Vietnam.  My Uncle C did 3 tours in Vietnam.  He was, in fact, there when my dad exited with boot camp.  Therefore, because of the Sole Survivor Policy (a lot of civilians call it the Saving Private Ryan rule) my dad was sent to finance school, instead.  When he finished with school, Uncle C was still in Vietnam so my dad was sent to Korea.  My Uncle C never told his parents that he was in Vietnam until after all of his tours were over.  He didn’t want them to worry, so he told them he was in The Philippines and Korea.  Any mail sent or received involved an APO or FPO address, so my Nana & Papa never knew and neither did my dad.

Both my dad and my FIL are glad they served.  They both met their wives through a service buddy.  My FIL never would have learned to fly if not for the Navy, and he became a member of the Civil Air Patrol after getting out.  Flying was his happy place.  My dad knows he never would have gotten a college degree if not for the Army.  And, with the exception of a couple of odd jobs in college, the Department of Defense has been my dad’s sole employer as an adult – first as a soldier and then as a civilian employee after graduating from college (thanks to the G.I. Bill).  They were both so happy they had come, more so (if that’s possible) than the hubs, B and I were to have them and listen to them!  They enjoyed reminiscing individually and together and I think they are closer now.

I am so glad we did this!  My dad thanked us several times before he left and my mom called me later that day to thank me, as well.  She said my dad had such a great time and was so proud to show off his poppy.  The hubs thanked B and me for putting this together and he feels so blessed to have been present.  I encourage everyone to do this, at least once.  It was amazing to get to know who these men were before they were husbands and fathers, and hear about a way of life that neither one of us chose.  If you don’t have living family members who served, you can go to Veterans.com for resources to assist you with finding local veterans and how to host your own Bring a Veteran to School Day.

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