Curriculum Switch Trap

I've been searching the internet for that perfect curriculum. The perfect curriculum that will: teach my children, clean my house, run a home based business, care for my ill child, be a perfect help-meet, all while I vacation in Switzerland.

So far I can't find it. I'm not sure why. I've googled every key word possible.

I get this way. Maybe I'm the only one. Maybe not. I do know that perhaps this time I do need to make some changes in my curriculum. But a curriculum does not make the home school. Mom's attitude makes the home school.

If I stay focused on God and his leading I'll find the way.

God, not google.


Schedules... Again

We are on Holiday break. It came at a perfect time- the kids have been passing a virus around. What's more fun than being sick when on vacation, even if it is just a vacation at home?

This Fall was not a stellar semester of school. In fact I would give myself low scores as a mom in general, much less as a home school mom. I spent too much time feeling overwhelmed and under motivated.

The culprit? I allowed too many activities to overwhelm our routine. So what if everything we do is worth-while? If it is too much to do, then none of it ends up being done in a worth-while manner. Not to mention that when life gets too hectic, toddler-training takes the back seat to expediency.

I'm back in the saddle again and thinking about next semester. I've already cut out some time (and money) sucking commitments.
  1. We are taking a semester break from band. The kids will continue their music lessons, just not the home school band organization.
  2. My senior is not taking a dual enrollment class next semester.
  3. I'm dropping my Thursday night church church group.
  4. I'm only buying from the whole-foods coop every other month.
These may sound like small things but added together and then subtracted from my life they add up to a bunch more time to be, well, to be an actual mom.

Maybe even a sane, fun mom, one who loves to learn with her children.


Dual Enrollment- Lessons Learned

In Tennessee a home schooled junior or senior in high school can take college classes for either college credit or dual credit. Scholarships are available to help cover the cost.  

My oldest child is a senior this year and takes his first college final exam on Monday. He's learned a lot of college level math and I've learned a lot about home schooling high school students. Everything he's learned is way above my head but I thought I'd share what I've learned:  

1. Colleges usually require an SAT or ACT score to apply to take dual enrollment courses- so plan ahead.  
2. A dual enrollment scholarship is a breeze to apply for online, and is a breeze to get.  
3. Most community colleges are also a breeze to apply to online.  
4. Your umbrella school may require you to fax copies of your grandmother to set up the dual enrollment, so plan ahead to leave time for registering for actual classes.  
5. Your umbrella school may rather arbitrarily decide not to allow dual credit for the class your child wants to take, but that does not mean your child cannot get college credit. Once again, plan ahead.  
6. When figuring the cost of the class don't forget to figure in expensive college texts and possibly required computer software.  
7. When figuring cost of the class don't forget to budget commuting costs. Oops, my bad.  
8. When scheduling classes don't forget that parking on most college classes requires a lot of walking- which greatly adds to time spent commuting.  
9. Keep in mind that some college scholarships will not be available to students with too many dual enrollment hours. The reasoning behind this escapes me. Our reasearch indicated that you only start running into problems if your child has upward of 9-12 credit hours of dual enrollment.  
10. Letting my son figure out how to not study well, helped him to learn a lot about how to study.

This is part of Thirsty Thursdays at Five J's


Super No Va

Or, Poetry for the Sleep Deprived

Mo' vacation please?
Motive shunning, shirking notice of mental relocation.
Where's the sense of my vocation?
Motive shrinking, shrieking gone, chased by mote sleep's ration.


Found Object Lessons

Preschool at my house is a low key, homemade affair. In fact I don't call it preschool at all, it's just life. Sometimes life is pleasantly slow and full of free connections that my toddlers create independently.

My 2 year old was enamored of the newly emptied baking powder container. When I handed it to him and saw how perfectly it fit his chubby hands I had to laugh. It looked made for him. Immediately he sat down to screw the lid on and off and then flip open and shut the flip side of the lid. He looked up at me from time to time to make sure I was sharing the delight. Quickly I cannibalized a board game for plastic counting chips. My son then slowly and deliberately dropped in each piece as I counted for him. We did this approximately a billion times. I was just glad I had only found 12 counting pieces.
Learning/playing in an empty cupboard while wearing jammies; life doesn't get much better.

My two toddlers love the book "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", by Bill Martin Jr. I don't know which is more appealing to them, the rhythm, or their toddler fascination with all things that fall. One day after reading the book my 3 yo suddenly exclaimed something I didn't understand and ran off. He came back with an old box of wooden magnetic letters and proceeded to open the book to the inside cover and match the magnet letters to the drawing. The fonts were almost identical. Not a formal lesson, not an object lesson, merely a free found-object lesson.

This post is linked to Thirsty Thursday- have fun.


The Great Penguin Search

While I was out schlepping the girls to their band practice my 17 yo, Luke, stayed home to babysit his youngest brothers. While I was still out I got a phone call from Luke that raised the hair on my head. There was a strained quality to Luke's voice that had me on instant alert- until I realized that his voice was strained because Luke was struggling to speak without laughing.


"What's wrong, are the Littles up?", I asked in a panic.

"Um, yes I just called to-"

"Have they eaten?" I interrupted.

"Yes, they're fine, I just wanted to tell you that I was explaining to them about penguins and showed them a bunch of pictures on the computer." Luke continued, now snorting more uncontrollably.

My hair settled back on my head and I was able to listen to the rest of the story.

Evidently after Luke showed his little brothers pictures of penguins and explained that penguins live in cold places on ice, he then left the den for a moment. Passing through the kitchen on the way back to the den he discovered the two yo standing on a stool in front of the wide open freezer searching inside it for... penguins.


Chartres Cathedral

In 2000 my husband shot this footage while on a job in France. The amazing thing is that the audio was captured by the video camera.

Very peaceful. Enjoy.

This is part of the Mom Link Round up, enjoy all the links!


Where Charlotte Mason Left Off

At the beginning of September my 15 yo and I were working on her goals for the school year. Science is not her favorite subject; it became late and we got a little punchy. We ended up designing a video-education curriculum for high school sciences.

Actual facts and real information contained in the following curriculum are entirely spurious and purely coincidental:

For Horticulture- The Happening

Astronomy- Deep Impact

Physics- The Matrix

Biology- Evolution

Geology- Dante's Peak

Climatology- The Day After Tomorrow

Oceanography- Waterworld

Criminology- Minority Report

Pschology- Rear Window

My apologies to Charlotte Mason.


Veteran Home Schooler?

I’ve always found it a curiosity that the term “veteran home schooler” has become a title signifying required respect. “So and So, a veteran home schooler, is giving a lecture on how to teach Klingon to fulfill high school language requirements,” or, “so and so, a veteran home schooler talks about how to make algebra your child’s newest hobby.” The term “veteran homeschooler” alone is supposed to denote authority, competence and success, and cause you to buy their seminar/product/philosophy/tutorial.

To my twisted mind it always brings up an image of a 37 year old woman wearing a denim jumper and flak jacket. In my imagination the "veteran" is talking into a microphone to a bevy female spectators as she shoots a barrage of flashcards out of a cannon into an opposing ditch filled with her offspring. The offspring are warding off the flashcards with an assortment of shields made of pots, pans, Harry Potter hardbacks and Bionicle warriors. The bevy of spectators file up to buy the flashcard system as soon as the children are led off for a snack.

Am I perhaps a tad cynical? Am I experiencing a wee bit of home schooling burn out? Perhaps. However, ponder a moment. How does one cross the line from home schooler to “veteran” home schooler? What are the requirements?

Is veteran status earned merely after a certain set number of years in the trenches? If so when do you start counting? At birth, at age 5? Are years home schooling with greater challenges weighted like A.P. classes are? For instance, every year you home school while pregnant or nursing could count as 2 regular years. Every year spent teaching beginning reading counts as 2 1/2 years, etc.

Does veteran status require a certain number of children in your home school? If so, are you disqualified from ever achieving veteran status if not all of your children are home schooled or if you only have 1? Are you given faster promotion to veteran if your children are unusually close in age. What about extra credit for an especially aggravating child?

Does graduating your oldest from high school instantly qualify you as a veteran? Does it count if you didn’t home school the entire 12 years? Relatedly, does veteran status require having your child/children accepted to college? Or does it require having children accepted to Ivy League Universities? What if they drop-out of college to move to a remote missionary post? Can your veteran status be revoked?

Who is the accrediting body anyway?

I prefer another term, "Mother." Hopefully "Mother" connotes love rather than war, as well as implying warmth and dedication. I want to be a mother, a good mother. One that just happens to also organize my children's education at home. One that doesn’t claim to know everything but is willing and ready to learn with my kids. One that doesn’t’ have to run in circles following the latest guru; one that can fall down and get back up.

However, if I ever have twins that are still nursing while I'm concurrently teaching reading and high school chemistry all while traveling in an R.V. on a history tour of America- I want the appellation of "veteran" instantly granted.


Naptime Chez Tipton

Home schooling Feng Shui; the back of our piano is against the wall of my Littles' bedroom (their new napping room) and my daughter, Grace, practices piano intently during the Littles' nap time.

After the wiggling, flopping, and humming settles into snuggling my two Littles start noticing Grace's piano music.  Lately Grace has been starting her sessions with "Star Wars" themes because she knows the Littles enjoy it. 

 The first time Grace sight-read through Darth Vader's Theme I was still in the Littles' bedroom watching them settle down.  I could see Jack's eyes looking off into space as he relaxed into his pillow, his eyes tracking from side to side as Grace played.  At her first stumble his eyes froze, only to resume tracking as she resumed playing.  Anytime she had to pause to work out the music his eyes stopped tracking and he almost seemed to hold his breath, waiting for the musical resolution.  

I'd love for both Littles to be musically inclined but if the end result of their early exposure to music is merely less time required memorizing math facts... it's all good.


Fall Break

This week has flown by. I want a "repeat" in order to accomplish all that I foolishly thought I could accomplish in one week off school.

Why have I been going to bed each night feeling as though school has been off-track? I spent a morning this week looking over my schedule to find out where the flaw was. I found one major no-brainer flaw. When I put together my schedule for this Fall I didn't take into account travel time for the various classes my high schoolers are taking as dual enrollment. No wonder I can't figure out where the time has gone. It's gone the same place as my gasoline budget...

Live and learn, we've never done dual enrollment and tutorial before. Though I think the programs are valuable they certainly take a chunk out of the week.

Really, I Just Have Something In My Eyes

May 30th, 2009
A loud-breathing presence at my bedside, I open one eye.  A small face is peering at me.  I attempt to focus through the pre-dawn darkness on my 19 month old, Samuel, as he shouts "JUICE!"  I try pulling him into bed in the vain hope that he will simple cuddle up and go to sleep.  Nothing doing, he struggles back to the floor.  Through squinted eyes I can see him retrieve my water cup from the bedside table and gulp down the last of the water with shaking hands.  My brain is starting to send alarm signals.  

Samuel shouts, "Juice" again, and then quivering from head to toe,  throws the now empty cup.  The cup bounces comically off my head with such force that it ricochets and knocks my bedside lampshade askew.  Now I am wide awake.  Samuel is not quivering with rage, he is quivering from a blood sugar crisis.  His first one. I'm too familiar with the symptoms of hypoglycemia in Jack not to recognize them in Sam, especially when hit in the head.  A handful of raisins later a suddenly calm Sam politely asks for breakfast.

Sam's first crisis occurred almost exactly a year after Jack's first hospitalization.  A year in which we were told that Sam was probably fine, probably free from the genetic disorder that Jack has.  It was also the morning of a chapter meeting of The United Mitochondria Foundation.  I went on to the meeting (my first one ever), feeling unreal from the events of the morning.  Have you ever had allergies that made your eyes water uncontrollably?  After I got to the meeting, that's what happened to my eyes.  They just started "leaking".  I quietly went to the rest room a couple of times and held paper towels to my eyes- willing them to behave, only to have them start watering again within 10 minutes.  The meeting's featured speaker spoke on grief.  She stressed dealing with the grief of chronic illness or your grief would "splash" over into other areas of your life when you least expect it.  Duh, I was the better than any power point presentation, exhibit A in "splashing".

During the following brunch I took the opportunity to corner the geneticist who is on the board of the local UMDF chapter.  He'd seen Jack before, so I re-introduced myself and asked if a normal child in the absence of an acute illness could just happen to have episodes of blood sugars in the 40's that resolve with carbohydrates.  A long pause followed, during which I'm sure he was thinking something along the lines of, "Crap, she's already looks stressed and she's asking me a loaded and stupid question, and the door to the room is blocked by the bloke eating cake."  He of course advised me to get in touch with our doctors and start Samuel on corn starch at night until he was seen...

My eyes continued to leak off and on for a couple of days.  I wasn't prostrated on my bed with  flower petals scattered across the floor during this time.  I was cracking jokes with Greg and the kids, doing chores- doing all the normal weekend stuff.  Just occasionally my eyes would start streaming.  It was completely unlike anything I've experienced before.  Samuel, whom we had thought was our round, sweet, sturdy, healthy, bonus-baby was suddenly all those things minus the healthy.  Yet at the same time I knew we were so blessed to already know the basics of how to recognize and handle metabolic issues.
I knew that Samuel's diagnosis would be difficult.  Our family doesn't bother with garden variety illnesses.  I was right, a few months later and we are working with a diagnosis of Ketotic Hypoglycemia for Samuel, but we don't really know.  Lately he's been having more frequent morning episodes of hypoglycemia even on his corn starch regime.  I'm watching, praying and researching, but I'm not "leaking" anymore.  However, I don't think it was such a bad thing.  Embarrassing perhaps, but the slow release of tears as I went on with normal life was a bizarrely helpful way to process my grief and fears.   Moms are all about multi-tasking, I just never thought to multi-task grief before.


The Colors of Autumn

Artist at work.

Perhaps "washable" and "indelible" are actually synonyms?

My proud minimalist next to his "pièce de résistance" entitled "Red."

Black and White and Brass. Doesn't she sound great?



Some Mondays seem maliciously and anthropomorphically bent on proving what a small person I am. Today was such a Monday. True suffering, and momentous calamities, are different from mere aggravations, yet there is something peculiarly difficult about quantity of small troubles regardless of their quality.

Aggravations on top of aggravations can lead one to entertain thoughts representing smallness of mind:

1. Recalcitrant math student? One might be tempted to respond, "Fine, double-digit addition with carrying is stupid, don't learn it!"

2. 8 yo with flu symptoms? One might picture a backyard quarantine-yurt.

3. More month than money? One might idly wonder how much is in the 3 yo's piggy bank.

Monday, in anthropomorphic glory, saved it's coup de grace for the afternoon mail. A letter bomb arrived- well, actually a post card from a dear friend. The picture was of a beautiful vacation spot on the Adriatic. As soon as I saw the picture I was there, sitting at a cafe in loose white clothing while a waiter poured my drink. Greg inexplicably had a dark moustache. I could feel the heat of the sun on my skin, hear the water and sounds of the children playing at a distance while their nanny carefully looked after them.

Zap. Then I remembered I was in my dining room setting out bowls of cauliflower soup (yuck, but the kids like it) on a tablecloth that hadn't been properly cleared since breakfast.

I love the sender of the post card. She is one of my oldest friends, and the most beautiful of people. I'm so happy that she's on vacation as a celebration of finishing her Master's thesis. However, my first reaction was of utter jealousy instead of joy for my friend. That's the definition of smallness.

Smallness, meet me. Me, meet Smallness.

Did God know today would knock me flat? Is that why during my morning shower the hymn, "Be Still and Know That I am God," kept coming to my mind? God, the antithesis of smallness.

I'm glad tomorrow is Tuesday...


Silly Similes, S'Aliteration

Gray days, for days on end, get me down, make me cranky. Time to look at silly, sunlit, Summer photos. Tennessee Teen Takes Toddler from Tuba would be a great headline.
My 15 yo daughter (who, minus the toddler, plays above-pictured Tuba) was given a writing assignment to compose a poem using similes, but instructed to strictly avoid cliches. She too gets cranky and contrary on gray days. She just couldn't resist. If you make your teacher smile does that off-set doing an assignment exactly wrong?

A Poem of Cursed Similes

The blue of the sky,

was as blue of the sea.

The clouds were as ships sails,

waving o'er to me.

The green of the grass,

was as green as sea-weed,

Those greeny masses

that came and then flee'd.

The brown of the tree-trunks,

was as brown as the mast,

from which a sailor,

was crying, "Avast!"

The red of the flower,

was as red as the face

Of the red coated Marine

yelling, "About face!"

The black of the cannon ball

was as black as the earth.

To which they would go,

not long after their birth.


Sneakers, Swords, and Taillights

Fall is shoe buying time. With 7 kids obviously we try to squeak by with the cheapest footwear we can. When I happen along on a sneaker sale it's a happy day. All my boys are fast now. They'll tell you that repeatedly, if you can catch up with them. The 7 year old wanted a non-sale sneaker, until my husband remarked that if he got the same kind as his brothers they would look like a kind of team, or even a group of super heros. Spin-it Baby. Parenting at it's best.

We have a family friend who is a sword maker. Yes, I said swords. Noble Armory has a faithful following of Tipton children who are always willing to try out the new models. The normality of it for our children has led to some unusual angst. Ben, when he was 4, announced that when he grew up he was going to stay at home and "make" his wife go to work. When I asked why, with tears of anxiety sparkling in his eyes he said, "Because I don't know how to go on airplanes (his own Dad travels a lot for work), and I don't know how to make swords."

Fast forward to yesterday. The three youngest boys in their new sneakers battling with neighbors. Evidently the level of testosterone in the body is directly linked to the newness of footwear. An epic sword battle in the driveway led to the death of my van's left taillight cover. Mayhaps it was a burning one-eyed dragon?

Cost of sale sneakers + cost of new tail light cover is still cheaper than cost of regular priced sneakers. If you figure in the amount of energy expended outside (and by definition Not inside), the character developed upon coming inside to confess the injury of said van, the level of hand eye coordination developed with the self correcting feed-back of physical reality... I'm way into black ink.


Children's Logic 101

Hypothetical Syllogism as used by Luke (at age 5): "If magic isn't real and Santa's sleigh flies by magic, then Santa isn't real."

Deductive Argument as used by Grace (at age 3): "I don't know why Sarah is crying- I didn't hit her that hard."

Part to Whole Reasoning as used by Sarah (at age 5) after discovering that I was the tooth fairy: "Mom, Olivia Sholey lost a tooth today, MOM, did you hear me? Olivia Sholey lost a tooth today, don't forget to go to her house tonight."

Argumentum ad baculum as used by Rebekah (at age 4 1/2): While attempting to force her will upon her older brother she shook her tiny fists and threatened him with this misquoted movie line, "Oh yeah, do you want a piece of meat!"

Inductive Reasoning as used by Benjamin (at age 4): At the funeral of a pet rabbit Benjamin noted, "If our rabbit dies on it's own we don't eat it, but if we kill it while it is still alive then we can eat it." *

Truism as stated by Jack (at age 3): "If your tummy hurts... you should go to the bathroom."

Repetition as a Rhetorical Strategy as used by Samuel (at age 2): "No No No."

*Our family may live in TN, but to date we have eaten neither roadkill nor family pets.


7.5 Inches of Storage Space

Because we do not have a Sub Zero we have space for...

Startling Mom is always exciting.


Schedules vs Reality

We start school next week. I've been working on our schedule with great difficulty for several weeks. A wise friend pointed out that a schedule only works if it is based on the realities of your life- not based on an imaginary ideal life.

What I can imagine:
6:00 a.m.- Get up and dress, make coffee, have prayer time.
6:30 a.m.- Greg gets up and we drink coffee together while having a meaningful conversation.
7:00 a.m.- I wake the children, they rise calling me "Blessed" and then dress & clean their rooms.
7:30 a.m.- Breakfast.
8:00 a.m.- I direct morning chores.
8:30 a.m.- I take care of business and personal emails and phone calls.
9:00 a.m.- The children and I "start" the day refreshed and dressed and with a clean house.

An Amalgam of Recent Summer Realities:
2:00 a.m.- One of the "littles" gets out of bed, I settle them back down.
4:30 a.m.- 3 yo gets in bed with me and asks for milk before falling promptly asleep. I lie awake wondering about his blood sugar.
5:15 a.m.- 2 yo gets in bed with me and falls asleep but not before waking 3 yo.
5:30 a.m.- 3 yo wakes Greg who gets up to visit the bathroom. Greg wakes 2 yo.
5:45 a.m.- 2 yo starts talking loudly about juice. I get up and start coffee and feed the two "littles" their first breakfast of the day. They look cute at the counter.
6:00 a.m.- I'm turning on my computer, opening curtains and breaking up baby tussles when 7 yo silently materializes on the sofa asking, "What's for breakfast"? Startled, I spill my coffee. I read to the three boys then check personal email.
6:15 a.m.- Greg stumbles in with his coffee. 3 yo attacks Greg with another book request. As I attempt to email my father I hear the front door open and close. It dawns on my that the 2 yo has left the premises. I fetch him.
6:30 a.m.- Greg and I attempt a conversation. 7 yo interrupts with, "What's for breakfast'? 10 yo wanders in, trailing an afghan which knocks over 3 yo's lego structure. Tears ensue.
6:45 a.m.- 10 yo sweetly takes 3 yo to "help her" feed the cat. 15 yo walks in while reading and trips on aforementioned legos. Greg shows me a shortcut on my computer.
7:00 a.m.- 7 yo asks, "What's for breakfast"? 10 seconds later 13 yo walks in while reading and asks, "What's for breakfast"? 15 yo begins playing Mozart's "Turkish March" at 3 times normal speed. 2 yo spills my coffee.
7:30 a.m.- I drink more coffee. 17 yo is still asleep so with somewhat cruel glee I awaken him. 17 yo gets up and swings 7 yo old around in the air. Greg flees to his office after sharing the last of the coffee. I give 3 yo his meds. and check business emails while 15 yo starts pancakes.
8:30 a.m.- Breakfast dishes are now mixed with an art project 10 yo pulled out while my back was turned. 15 yo begins a Chopin piece purposely transposed into a weird key. 7 yo is flinging his body around the house "dying". 2 yo, for a reason not apparent to the rest of us, is taking all dining room chairs into the living room. 3 yo has poured out the box of lincoln logs in the den. I answer the phone while logging onto Facebook, change a diaper, blow a nose not my own, and make more coffee.
9:00 a.m.- I'm still in the yoga pants I slept in.


A Break

I'm more of an idea person. Or so I like to think, in order to justify my hatred of and incompetence with paperwork. I learned to hate paperwork as a child listening to my Dad do our taxes. I can still visualize the small card table pulled out each year and piled high with papers. There sits my father for hours on end grumbling like a small avalanche. It is one of my most tangible early memories, probably etched the more firmly because my birthday is April 16th.

Right now I have a lot of joyless paperwork to do. Taxes, insurance forms, school forms, dual enrollment forms for my 12th grader. Speaking of dual enrollment forms, silly me logged onto my son's Mac not noticing it was in the Window's application. Said application is not yet connected with the home printer network. Why on earth, when filling out an "online" application, should I need to print and sign and MAIL a hardcopy of my signature on a $10 application fee? Argghhh!

Why are the details so amazingly hard for me to deal with? Paperwork makes me mean. Paperwork is pushing me to the brink, that yawning chasm of joyless insanity is calling me. I'm pretty sure insane people don't have to do paperwork.

I took Luke's saxophone to Nashville to be repaired in an attempt to escape my paperwork. In comparison driving in rush hour traffic was a welcome break. Once there I had to parallel park for the first time in 12 years. One try and Utter satisfaction. A small sort of accomplishment.

In the music repair shop I waited while an elderly gentleman dressed in shabby janitorial clothing tried out his newly repaired sax. His saxophone looked like it had been passed through the intestines of an elephant. I've truly never seen such an ugly instrument. I think it had moss growing on it. And then... the sounds that came out of that squashed, dull, beat up sax were nothing short of pure and utter Joy. A 60 second vacation. Too bad sound doesn't photograph well on my camera phone.


Many Returns

Lilly the Kitten, who turned out to be Linus the Kitten, didn't come home Sunday night. Rebekah was beside herself. She searched, she cried, she worried. She organized a grassroots organization of neighborhood kids to search along with her. Believe me, there are a lot of neighborhood kids. We watched Rebekah's heretofore undiscovered talent with community organizing. 28 hours after Linus disappeared 3 boys from down the street found and returned him. There was great rejoicing along with fresh milk and treats for Linus. Never has a kitten been so petted.

An hour or so later I went outside to talk with Linus and couldn't find him. Rebekah had him locked in the garage. She was afraid to let him go back outside. Mind you, this is an outdoor cat and it's hot in the garage in Tennessee in August. The conversation I had with her about "letting him go" bordered on cliché.

My oldest son, Luke, came home from his 3 1/2 week trip to Guatemala not an hour after Linus' return. There was great rejoicing along with grilled steaks and fresh peach cobbler, but RATS; Luke doesn't like the garage either- he's already planning his next trip. I guess clichés become clichés for a reason.


Names, Shmames

Misunderstanding song lyrics and movie dialogue has a long tradition in our family. Recently a misunderstanding merged the two genres. Grace is a huge musicphile. She likes to set up different classical music for Jack to listen to during his nap time and is fairly systematic about it. Though Jack doesn't listen to music during every nap, Grace will introduce a new piece to him and then play only that piece for several weeks before starting a new piece. Yes I know, she's a better home school mom than I am. This summer it was Tchiakovsky's 1812 Overture. Evidently Grace peaked Jack's interest in it by explaining about Napoleon's siege of Moscow in very dramatic terms. Jack fell in love with it immediately.

After a week or so into listening to the overture I was putting Jack down for his nap and he asked to listen to the "Monster" music. I couldn't figure out at first what he meant until he showed me the CD box. "Monster" music, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, whatever. I set it up for him. We got used to Jack calling it that though we didn't understand why. I thought that he was perhaps imagining Napoleon's troops as monsters. One day Luke walked through Jack's room during nap time and came out laughing. Jack had asked Luke to turn on the "Monster" music, and when Luke didn't know what that was Jack explained very slowly, "You know, Wachowski's music, the music that Mike Wachowski wrote about the bad guys attacking the city". Who knew animated characters were that, well, 3- dimensional?

Later, I lay down next to Jack and asked him to explain what was going on in the music. Did you know that at the end of the overture what you might have mistook for cannon fire is actually the sound of the good guys chasing the bad guys away from the front door with whips?


Letting Go

Several things are spinning around in my head right now:

When I was 15 my family lived in down-town Vienna, Austria for a year. The freedom I had because of the amazing public transportation was... remarkable. Coming back to the States was... hard. I'm thinking a lot about my son's last week on his adventure in Guatemala. I'm thinking about how weird it is going to be for him to adjust to being back home and sharing a room with siblings. He loves us and will be happy to be home, but we will be something of a let down. In 17 1/2 years of mothering I've moved from being the center of the universe to being a let down, though to be honest, I'm glad. For one, I don't have a basement he can move into.

I'm also thinking about the other end of my parenting spectrum. Jack has been wanting to hold the glucometer himself. I've not been encouraging it until today. I realized he's going to have to eventually take care of himself. He might outgrow the hypoglycemia but he might not, so I need to let him hold the silly glucometer. I also need to teach him the names of his medications and how much he needs of each. It's not rocket science.

With kids ranging from 17 to 1 1/2 it's hard to keep a handle on slowly letting go of everyone at all their different levels. However, Samuel's bid for independence will be nipped in the bud. He's figured how to get the child safety door knob off the front door and let himself out of the house. I'm pretty sure that's a bad thing. At least he can't (yet) get the car key in the car door.


Schedules and Stirring

I'm sitting here surrounded by train track. The Train Track was picked up last night at least twice. However, it was not put under armed guard and stored secretively in the toy closet. At some point Samuel hijacked the container and re-stirred it out onto the floor, without me noticing.

Everything within climbing distance in my home is picked up and redeposited elsewhere, all day long. Thus a full household Stirring occurs every 6 hours. I think that should be the official job description of toddlers, Stirrers.

I'm getting ready to start thinking about, thinking about school starting again. I've got to get back on a schedule of sorts. The older kids and I had a steering committee meeting about our schedule for the rest of the summer. Kind of a "Flylady" meets "Managers Of Their Homes" moment. Hopefully the kids all felt like they got the jobs they like best -or at least dislike the least. We'll see.

The only really strict schedule we have right now is posted on the fridge to be used for Hospital Days. It's been worth it's weight in gold. We don't have family in town, and let's face it, the ordinary civilian is not equipped to invite 6 children over. So when Jack is in the hospital the kids have detailed job assignments and a schedule to give structure and during the school year to keep the school work moving. Our own personal "No Child Left Behind".

Oh, lovely. Samuel and Jack just brought me a stack of clean cups from the dishwasher.

Phones and Humility

I have unusual teens in that none of them really like to talk on the phone.  Our family policy is that you get a (cheap) cell phone when you can drive and until then you share the (cheap) kid-cell phone with the other kids.  Therefore our 17 yo, Luke, has a phone and the three girls all share a phone.  The rest of the boys are still too young to care.  Luke's cell phone has a broken screen but he can't get a free (and cheap) upgrade until December, so for now he's stuck with it.  He really doesn't care because he would have to be lying in a ditch needing help before he would voluntarily dial someone anyway.  However, as I was helping him pack up his phone and charger for his three week trip to Guatemala I became concerned that he might have trouble making an international call without being able to see his screen, so I swapped the girl's phone with his.

I forgot a few things, things like... 

1)The girl's phone says "Bump it to the trumpet" on the outside screen.

2)The girl's phone says "Hey, girl!"  when the phone is opened.

3)The girls asked me to pretend to be Aunt Petunia from Harry Potter- and they recorded me.  The ringer doesn't ring instead it repeats, "Mummy is calling, my little diddykins", over and over and over.

4)The girls programed all this and locked it with a password that no one remembers.

My husband called to remind me of the above, ostensibly to ask for the password so they could fix the situation.  But he had already rightly guessed that no one would know the password.   In reality, he simply called to share the situation with me because accidentally humiliating your teenage son is just good clean fun, especially if your spouse is the guilty one.

Somehow I have the feeling that I will not be hearing my son's voice for about 3 weeks.  I'm just glad there's email.



"Fail" is the name of a popular Internet meme where users superimpose the word "fail" or "epic fail" onto compromising photos or short videos.[1]The meme is widely believed to have come from the arcade game Blazing Star. When the player loses, the message "You fail it! Your skill is not enough! See you next time! Bye bye!" is shown.[2]

This wiki entry was my day. We sent our oldest child, a 17 yo son, off to Guatemala for a three week intensive lanugage school, studying, you guessed it, Spanish. He is such a great kid and has turned into a great, shall I dare say, adult. A seriously fun to raise child, except for a brief time when he was 6 and inexplicably wanted to spit everywhere. This trip is a big deal for him and for my husband and I. A day of independence for him and a day of letting go for us. I had so many images of a happy, maybe even tender farewell, images of my husband and I praying with him before they drove off, taking photos as they left. Not.

Instead there was the small problem of his debit card being cracked, which we only discovered on Monday morning. Then there was waiting for the new one (which we paid $25 stinking dollars to have expeditied), then there was the mix up with the PIN. Instead of happy family photos around Dad's car there is Mom, still in her night gown, in the driveway saying in a screetchy, unpleasant voice, "What do you mean you don't remember your Social Security number...." All while inside the 18 mos old is tirelessly unpacking the momentarily unguarded suitcases.

At least it may take him longer to be homesick.

Fast forward to the pool (let's just skip the crying jag), we are having fun. The older kids are enjoying being with friends and I'm starting to relax. Jack and Sam are jumping off the edge of the pool into about 6 inches of water in order to show off for a random cute little girl and her mom. Suddenly little girl's mom stiffens and moves little girl away. Always a bad sign. Jack has vomited into his Spiderman swimsuit. Luckily the suit is one of those body suits with floats inserted into it, so the vomit is all caught neatly and disgustingly in an indentation around the neckline. I whisked littles out and away. Jack's blood sugars were fine, not great, but fine. No idea why he threw up. He could have just swallowed some water when I wasn't looking. He's fine. We are home taking it easy.

I just hate this illness. I hate it for Jack. I hate it for the other kids. I hate it for me. I hate the way it ambushes us when I least expect it. It ambushes, gives an adrenaline rush and then 98% of the time nothing happens. I give some carbs and protien and everything is fine. Then I'm stuck with a bunch of adrenaline, feeling foolish and slightly crazy. The alternative is worse. The 2 % of the times that carbs don't work means the hospital, and pain, and more fear, and interminable waiting.

"You fail it! Your skill is not enough! See you next time! Bye Bye!"