Aug 22nd, 2007 by Sonja

Here’s one for the “Things the Brain Does That I Will Never Understand” file …

So … in preparation for our last trip to Vermont for the summer (okay, our second trip), we’re getting the laundry done.  I assigned LightGirl the task of sorting and folding the socks.  This has not been done for quite some time in our house.  We do not place a high priority on matched socks.  Especially during sandal weather.  Most of them are white, so … there.

While I folded other clothes she treated me to a litany of where the socks had come from and how they had passed from one family member to another.  The girl knows the provenance of our socks for heavens sake.

This is the same girl who cannot learn her times tables or how to spell to save her life.  She is 13 and I regularly get hideously mis-spelled e-mails from her.

But she knows the provenance of socks.  Socks.

She claims this will stand her in good stead when the great sock monster rises up to take over the world.  She will know how to defeat him.  In the latter days times tables and spelling will do no good, but the provenance of socks will be her weapon against powerful evil.  So may it be.

As If I Needed Another Reason
Aug 15th, 2007 by Sonja

Conversation as LightBoy studied for a Latin test this afternoon …

“Mom! Look! Isn’t this funny?” Pause for him to bring his textbook and show it to me.

“See here … nimbus, it means cloud. Don’t you think that’s funny? You know … cause Harry’s broomstick was the Nimbus 2000.”

Me (trying to keep a straight face and absorb all of this earnestness), “No, I don’t think it’s funny at all. But I do think it’s pretty cool.”

We high five.

Me – “So what does the name Nimbus 2000 tell you about the author of Harry Potter?”

LB – “Well … she knows Latin. I can tell that because all the spells are in Latin too.”

Me – “And what does the name tell you about Harry’s broomstick? Does it tell you anything special about it?”

LB – “OH! That it can go high up into the clouds. And Harry needed that A LOT!!!”

And he was off weaving spells and flying on his own broomstick.

Terrible … that Harry Potter. Teaching my children that Latin is fun.

Nimbus 2000

In the Eye of the Beholder
Jun 6th, 2007 by Sonja

LightGirl has expressed on many recent occasions a concern that she not grow up and become, how shall I say this, “a nerd” … like … um … her parents.

However, I believe she already is given the contents of an e-mail she just sent me.  The subject was:  check this OUTTTTTTTTTT!!!

It’s superfly!!!!!!!

(So … go ahead … check it out.  It’s the evolution of the British Empire.  But she’s not a nerd or anything.)

Random Conversations with LightChildren
May 31st, 2007 by Sonja

With the evaluation out of the way, I’m somewhat more relaxed now and able to have more conversations with LightChildren which are not some form of “You should be doing school because we are so far behind it will take multiple lifetimes to catch up.” Or some other such nonsense that comes out of my over-achieving mouth.  They were far more reasonable and healthy about the whole thing.  I really need to take more cues from them sometimes.

In any case, LightGirl has joined me at Curves.  I was not certain I would welcome the imposition on “my” time at first.  But I’ve come to enjoy the conversations we have in the car there and back again.  I also enjoy seeing her take on more and more of herself in these venues.  A recent car conversation was a little unsettling however.  It began like this, “Mom, did you ever find out that a guy you’d had a crush on for ages was a jerk just about the time he started paying attention to you?”  “Hmmm,”  I responded, “I don’t really remember if that happened.  If it did, it didn’t make a big impression on me.  Why do you ask?”  “Well … GoalieGuy was getting dressed in the hallway yesterday when we came out of our lockerroom.  He put his hands on his pants and asked if anyone wanted to see his p****.” (and yes, she used the anatomically correct term, as apparently, did he)  She was not entirely certain if this was funny or jerky behavior or a mixture of both.  Neither was I.  I told her she might want to give him a second chance because middle school guys are sometimes known to do weird and awkward things to get attention.  She agreed with that.  Later on I did suggest that she might want to begin to carry around a 6″ ruler.  Then she could whip it out if he ever does that again and say something like, “Hey, I need to measure that.  I’m doing some field testing for a homeschool biology class.”  She thought that was pretty funny and might put an end to the jerky behavior.

Last night LightBoy and I stopped in at 31-derful Flavors to order the cake for his long delayed birthday party.  It will happen this weekend.  We were with LightHusband.  He had to run along to pick LightGirl up at the rink, so it happened that LightBoy and I walked home from the ice cream store.  It wasn’t far and it was a pleasant evening to stroll along with an ice cream cone.  LightBoy picked the darkest chocolatiest ice cream they had.  For those of you who know him IRL, he’s not a particularly neat eater.  So he had a nice ring of chocolate around his mouth which prompted me to say, “Hey did you get any IN your mouth?”  He giggled.  And we walked on.  Pretty soon he said, “Mom, I’ve got something for your ‘Strange Facts About Kids Book’.”  “Oh yeah?” I replied.  “Yeah … Kids walking along the street with ice cream around their mouths makes adults happy.”  he said.  “Oh … really,” I said,  “but adults walking along the street with ice cream around their mouths …”   “… makes other adults nauseous.” he finished the sentence for me.  “Don’t worry Mom.  You have skin colored ice cream.”  (well that was a HUGE relief … that and the fact that I have learned in the past year or so to eat my ice cream without making a mess, but don’t tell LightBoy).  I very nearly fell out laughing, but of course, could not because … well … he was so serious about the whole thing.

This is a good age.  Good conversations.  Interesting conversations.  Now if they would only stop bickering ….

May 28th, 2007 by Sonja

Ahhhh … I could use a beer right now.  Or something cold and delicious.  Or something chocolate.  Or really anything rewarding.

We’ve had another successful year of homeschooling.  Coach came today and evaluated the LightChildren and our homeschool (Osgiliath Classical School).  We passed with flying colors.  In fact, he said, “I wish I could bring other families out here and give clinics.  You have a healthy family and a healthy school.”

I’m feeling very relieved and just a little smug.

It won’t last long … we still have a lot of work to do for this academic year.  We’re quite behind.  But for now I will bask in the glow of a job well done.

I learned two things today.  The first is the vast difference between how I face evaluations and how the LightChildren face them.  They have a much healthier attitude towards it.  I’m glad; it’s one thing that I wanted them to get out education that I did not.  The other was a primer on how to do records of high school and how to think outside of the box so that a study of fabric dying can become a class on Textile Design and Production.  Yeah, buddy!  I’m lovin’ that …

Now we’re off to a Memorial Day cookout and swim at PlusOneFriend’s house.  Oh, what a relief it is …

Star Wars Characters?
May 21st, 2007 by Sonja

As everyone knows, I love to keep up with the Jones’ … so in the interest of keeping up with the latest blogology quiz, I’ve decided to reveal my “Star Wars Character:” Obi Wan Kenobi

This is decidedly hilarious for me on so many levels that I cannot even begin to tell you about. It makes me laugh and laugh and laugh deep in my heart. But especially funny for me (the homeschooling mom), in particular, is the last sentence of the description: “Now if only you could get your padawans to listen to you.”

You scored as Obi-Wan Kenobi. One of the last jedi knights. People find you to be a bit aloof, but you know you travel the honorable path and that is all that matters. Now if only you could get your padawans to listen to you.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Darth Maul
Leia Organa
Han Solo
Padme Amidala
Boba Fett
Luke Skywalker

Which Star Wars character would you be? (pics)
created with

HT – Paul

Home Sweet Home
May 15th, 2007 by Sonja

Well … it’s home again, home again lickety split.

I got home very late Sunday night (or early Monday morning, depending on your perspective).  The flight touched down at 11:50 p.m.  I didn’t get my bag til about an hour later.  I had visions of one poor little man driving the baggage truck, and doing all the loading and unloading.  It was very slow.  People were getting impatient.  But the bags eventually came up 3 or 5 or 6 at a time.  Then it was off to find my van (where my mother had left it on Saturday when she flew home).  Then drive home to a wiggly reunion with my steadfast dog, Sam.

I realized in the midst of it all that I am seeing daylight now.  I am seeing my way out of the cave.  Smaug is diminishing, and I am recovering.  On Sunday, I navigated two major metropolitan airports, including security, got my baggage, found my vehicle in a somewhat mysterious location, drove home and slept in an empty house … all alone.  A year ago this would have been unthinkable.  Even 3 months ago, this would have caused a panic attack.  But on Sunday, I barely gave it second thought.  I enjoyed my fellow passengers and the inflight movie.  Felt badly for the seatmates of the man two rows back who snored so loudly I could hear him over my iPod (great heavenly day!!).  I walked the distance from baggage claim to parking garage all alone and was alone in the parking garage late at night and felt nary a qualm.  I was safe from the boogey man and all of his minions.  It was heaven.

The next day I was reunited with the LightChildren.  We’ve been have wonderful conversations sharing our adventures with each other.  They had fun with their grandmother (LightMom), who they have assured me was “… not the babysitter from the Black Lagoon or anything.”  I had a difficult time keeping a straight face at that.

So we are getting back into our routines again.  School, exercise, quilting, etc.  LightHusband returns on Thursday.

On Tiny Horizons
May 5th, 2007 by Sonja

The conversations I’ve had with BelleSon over the past week have been lively, interesting and reconnected me with a part of my past that I’d let go of. I thought I was done with it, but apparently not so. It’s been good for my heart and soul to be part of his reconnection to his family and the things that are good in life. He’s made some promises to me about his behaviour with his teachers and his parents. I know for fairly certain that he’ll break them; not out of malice or forethought, but because he forgets; gets caught up in a moment and can’t get out of it (to paraphrase a certain band).

One thing these conversations have reminded me of is a primary reason I homeschool my children. Some of the reasons he is having trouble in school is because he’s bored. He’s bored because the teachers have been locked in straightjackets are no longer allowed to teach anything but to the SOL tests. The pressure on the teachers to get their classes to measure up to the Virginia State Standards of Learning is incredible. I know teachers in the system and they are bored beyond belief; frustrated that paperwork has come to mean more to the administration in the school system and school boards than the students. Veteran teachers are leaving the system as soon as they possibly can, while the state is making it ever more difficult for young teachers to enter it. It now requires nearly as much education to become an entry level teacher as it does a lawyer without nearly the commensurate pay.

What are the children learning? Are they learning how to learn? No. They are learning factoids. They are learning how to successfully take tests. They are learning to answer questions, but never ask. Never question authority. Never step out of line. Don’t say it in your out loud voice. Just get through.

A classical education is based primarily three stages: grammar (primary), logic (middle), and rhetoric (high). The grammar stage encompasses the years of approximately ages 5 through 10, this is when children want to know what. They learn facts in the manner a sponge absorbs water. Give them facts and lots of them. Learn dates, math facts, historical data, scientific data (age appropriate), read stories, learn to read and spell, learn grammar rules, spelling rules, begin a foreign language (Latin because it’s a root language, but any language is good).

Sometime around 10, though it begins earlier (it’s a process not a breaking point) children begin to want to know why. Why did all these things happen? Why did Queen Elizabeth go after the Spanish Armada? Why did the English want to settle the Americas? Why was Copernicus put in jail? So you spend a lot of time dealing with why questions in the learning process. Taking all of the facts learned in the previous 4 or 5 years and helping the children answer why things happened the way that they did. Or why certain science rules are the way they are. Investigating different theories for why the dinosaurs are extinct, for example.

Then again around 14 or 15 another change occurs and the rhetoric stage begins. This is the stage where children take the what and the why and come up with how. They begin to synchronize the information they have accumulated over the years and put it together in new ways. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes they need a little (ahem) guidance. However, if the teacher is doing his/her job properly the student is making their own conclusions (regardless of the faith or politics of the teacher). The student is learning the valuable skill of being able to assimilate facts and draw their own conclusions without being told what to think by anyone else.

Lest you think this is what is happening in the American public education system, you might think again. It is not and has not been for quite some time. It is becoming a place of zero tolerance, where honors students are expelled for riding in a car with a paintball gun (I know the boy this happened to … it wasn’t his car, he was hitching a ride and it was a paintball gun, off of school property), other students are expelled for taking acetominophin for headaches, where students are suspended for declaring their dislike of a class outside of class time. In high school students who, because of their developmental level, ought to be using the “how” and assimilating their knowledge are still being taught at the “what” level. No wonder they and the teachers are bored.

Ever since the onset of the Industrial Revolution our culture has increasingly engaged in a mindset that items which are made in an efficient, factory atmosphere are better and higher quality than those which are handmade, individuals. Since the Great Depression we have even extended this idea to people. We think that we can factory process people in our schools, in our churches, in our factories, in our large corporations, in our health care systems, and in our farms. But people are glorious individuals, made in the image and likeness of God. They cannot be factory processed. That is the ultimate failure of our educational system. Until we reconcile to that, we will not be able to “fix” it.

Workin’ It
Apr 23rd, 2007 by Sonja

I began a new endeavor yesterday.  The LightChildren are certain that I’m a. nuts and b. tormenting them.

We’ve been concerned about their spiritual formation for some time now.  Not concerned enough to actually “do” anything about it.  But we’ve been talking about it and sort of wringing our metaphorical hands and wondering what we should do.  We’ve talked and thought and agonized and then talked some more and the LightChildren have been happily oblivious.  They bring up God every now and again and we eagerly talk about Him when they do.  But that’s been about it.

So, yesterday, I grabbed my nose and plunged in feet first with a new plan.  I promptly hit the water with a stinging belly flop.  My plan was to read The Jesus Creed aloud to them each day.  I figured the chapters aren’t that dense, or that long.  They’re smart kids.  They like being read to.  It’s approachable stuff.

No.  Not so much.  LightBoy decided that raw onions were preferable.  They did engage at a couple of key points.  Enough that I’m convinced that this is good stuff for them.  But read-aloud it’s not.  I need to head back to my teacherly drawing board and give it to them in smaller bites.  Maybe pre-cooked a little too.  I also realized that we need some pre-Jesusy stuff.  You see they didn’t get much Sunday school.  LightBoy in particular doesn’t really know the big Old Testament stories (like Exodus), so the Sh’ma doesn’t make much sense to him.  No wonder he was giving me such a funny look.

We’ll try again tomorrow …

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One. 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.

The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” 

Sep 28th, 2006 by Sonja

Lately I’ve seen some sights around town that made me look twice and think thrice. Since I just got back from my long drive (to East Overshoe to our CSA farm) and I need to wind down, here are a few of them.

The other day I was driving past a church. The sign out front advertised a family movie night on Friday and an open house on Sunday. “Huh?” I thought, “And here I thought everyday was open house for a church! What was I thinking??!!” Today I drove past it and they are advertising “World Communion” for this Sunday.

I saw a young guy walking down the street. I know I’m firmly implanted in my middle years. But I’m used to seeing all sorts of clothing and not being phased by it. I don’t remember specifics, I just remember remarking to Sizzling Ewe that perhaps this particular young man ought to cease purchasing his fashion sense at Montgomery Ward, since they’ve gone out of business.

I found it remarkable today that the two vehicles that were the most aggravating to drive behind were SUVs with dealer tags. They were aggravating because the drivers were having issues handling them. They didn’t even want to go the speed limit and braked at every turn. It was annoying.

There’s a church I pass on the way to East Overshoe called Believers Baptist Church. For some reason this name makes me laugh. It also makes me want to stop and ask the pastor what sort of believers they are looking for. There is something about that name that is officious and pompous. It sounds like hiked-up pants and slick hair.

I love the drive going out to East Overshoe. It gets progressively less congested and more beautiful. I hate the drive coming home. It’s everything in reverse and I’m driving into rush hour traffic. Bleh….

We made butter in the Osgiliath Classical School Potions class the other day. That’s chemistry for all you who might be wondering. We were investigating the different states of matter. It gave me renewed appreciation for my colonial mothers. We made butter with just one cup of cream and we had a cold storage unit handy. If it didn’t work, so what? But my colonial mothers had to do this and much more every day … every, every, EVERY day. Or their families went hungry and cold. We have so much convenience in our lives we don’t even know what to do with it. We don’t even recognize most of it.

LightBoy’s current ambition is be Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek. This morning he brought me his sister’s eyeliner and asked me to draw Spock eyebrows on him. I complied, but it’s been very unsettling to look at him today. He has, essentially, two sets of eyebrows on his sweet round face and one set makes him look sinister. Of course, he thinks this is very wonderful. We are now in the market for a Mr. Spock costume for Halloween. Oh … yay. Then LightGirl decided she would like to be Lt. Uhura (with the very short dress). I said, “No. You will not be Lt. Uhura (with the very short dress).”

Back in March, you may remember that LightGirl entered a contest called Fashion Revue with a pair of pants she had sewn. She won a blue ribbon for her efforts. At that time, I fought a full scale battle to get her to wear a little eye shadow, mascara and blush for the contest as she had to model her outfit for some judges. It was just to make her look well put together. Finished, as it were. Now (less than 6 months later) she wears full makeup every day. I finally asked her one morning if we should expect this from now on. She said we should. The other morning tho, I had to object. I think that when eyeliner can be measured with a ruler in eighth inch increments, it has been applied too liberally. She has backed off a little since then.

We began walking again this morning. I should say huffing and puffing. It wasn’t pretty. It was interesting to see all the gardens on the far side of the season. Then I felt sad. I realized how much I’ve missed by not walking through the summer. I could have seen all the comings and goings of the flowers and other crops, but I was lazy and I missed it. I did part of the loop alone. I couldn’t have done that last winter because I was so scared. And I left the house without any wallet or identification … another huge step for me. I am much stronger now.

Well … those are some snapshots of life in the LightHouse and more frightening still, into my mind recently. I’ll try to keep these posts to a minimum.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa