Thursday, April 30, 2009

Names of God


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Way Back Whens-day

I guess I'm on a nostalgia kick. Having a child reach a milestone must do that to ya. First she turns 18, next she graduates high school. Then he turns 16, gets his learner's permit, gets a job. The next one becomes a teenager in a few weeks. One receives First Holy Communion soon. I can't keep up!

This is the only picture I ever took of our animal collection, which is long gone. We used to have buckets of plastic animals of every stripe, and when the oldest two were preschool age, we played with them constantly. This photo shows one of the elaborate zoos they used to build.

But their favorite game was called Animal Cabanimal. Sarah and Scott used to take all their animals and spend hours "setting up" somewhere - usually in a main thoroughfare or on the steps. They wouldn't actually play with the toys. The "setting up" WAS the play. But I digress. They'd huddle together on the steps, setting up all their animals, and then - oops! It would be bedtime and they'd be "too tired" to clean up. You can imagine how this scene usually went.

It was this "setting up" one day that gave me one of my favorite memories. Sarah and Scott, aged 5 and 3, perched on the stairs, playing busily and quietly. Scott coughed. Sarah looked at him skeptically and asked, "Scott, did you fake cough?"

Scott replied, "No, I didn't fake it. I realed it."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Butt Hat

Noelle is 2.

Her little brain is processing language like mad. She just mastered her colors, and now she can't turn them off. Everywhere she looks, she sees colors, and she is compelled to name them all...out loud.

A few weeks ago, every color that she couldn't readily identify was 'pink." What color is the sky? Pink. What color is the green couch? Pink. What color are mommy's blue jeans? Pink. What color is your hair? Pink. Get the picture?

But now, it's nonstop - "Blue kye. Yeddow fower. Bown hair. White moon." And as we're driving in the "gray van," she has to name the color of every car we pass. It's cute but maddening, and I revel in moments of discovery like these.

She recently had another epiphany of language discovery. We have this set of chunky farm animals for toddlers.

There are actually three more animals to the set, but they're currently MIA. I picked the set out 'specially because they're soft, chunky, and best of all they don't have an air hole, so we can use them in the tub without them getting that gunky, black mildew inside.

So one evening the twins are enjoying a bubbly soak. You can't exactly call it a bath, because that would imply that I actually rubbed soap on them and washed their hair. But doing so can be akin to slow torture for Mommy, so sometimes they get away with a prolonged sit in soapy water. Hey, it's better than nothing...

Noelle and her farm animals are having a grand old time. They are swimming together, diving under the bubbles, talking to one another, etc. And then Noelle takes the cow in hand...

...and turns it over. She sees this...

...which makes absolutely no sense to her at all. She doesn't know how to process this. All her synapses are firing as she struggles to make sense of what she's seeing. I can literally see the wheels spinning.

She says to herself, "Turtle?" and then dismisses the idea. Why would there be a turtle on the cow's belly? That's just crazy talk!

Then she wonders, "Hat?" Yes, that must be it. "Hat." And with absolute finality, she declares, "Butt hat!"

And with THAT out of the way, she continued her play happily.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Way Back Whens-day

Of my three sons, these two are closest in age. I always think of them as a unit - "Brian-n-Conor," and, like most siblings, I suppose, they're the best of buddies and the worst of enemies.
This pic was taken in 2001, the first year we learned that we can rent a beach house for a week post-season for less money than a weekend during the summer. The boys were just tickled with every corner of the house, especially when they learned there was a balcony porch. I only included it here so you could get a good look at the partners in crime as I relate my anecdote.

Picture these two little guys, ages 5 and 3. I must have been busy with the then-current baby, and Conor wanted someone to read him a story. I guess all other avenues had been explored to no avail, so he took his storybook to Brian and asked, "Will you read me a story?"

Brian, exasperation personified, squared off and faced Conor and said, "First of all, I DON'T WANT TO. And second of all, I CAN'T READ!!!"

Makes me laugh every time I think of it.

Ellie the Gourd Girl

This little slice of randomness isn't actually so random after you visit KathyB at The World According to Me.

The young woman in this photo, taken 5 years ago, is actually Sarah, the new young adult in our household. So she was 13 at the time she named, dressed and cared for this gooseneck pumpkin, affectionately referred to as "Ellie the Gourd Girl." Although the kids probably think she went to Gourd Heaven, what they don't know is that Ellie ended up peeled, sliced, boiled, mashed and eaten, topped with a dollop of whipped topping.



You decide.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy 18th Birthday To Our Baby



Where has the time gone???

I feel like Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof" when she says to Motel, "Look at you...a baby, a sewing machine...You've become a person!"

....and such a person she has become....

Happy Birthday, Honey. May all your dreams come true.

Love, Dad & Mom (the two weird people you were paired up with in the hospital)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shock and Homeschooling

You know what's really weird? I have 7 followers now, but only 6 of them are actually interested in my blog. The 7th is actually a sneaky link to a XXX website.

I shouldn't be shocked, but I am.

Way down at the bottom of the page, if you see a follower icon that has an 18+ on it, please ignore it. I don't know how to "fire" any of my followers, so I can't get rid of it. Sorry. You might be able to right-click on it and opt to "block image."

Ok, now to the homeschooling part. We're been doing this for a buttload several years now, but I rarely blog about it. Probably because I'm too busy actually doing it, and when we're done, I have too many other things to think about. But a homeschool friend is doing a school video project entitled "You Know You're a Homeschooler When..." and asked us to participate.

Of course, my mind went totally blank, so I went surfing the net looking for good finishers to that statement that best express my feelings. And in the process I unearthed a whole lot of interesting articles to bookmark, including the following humorous, yet cynical, list of gripes. I don't agree with every point she makes, but for those of you who don't homeschool, it's a glimpse into a homeschooler's life (and mind), and those of you who do homeschool will understand.

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List

by Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

Contents © 2007–2009 Deborah Markus

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Son, the Thespian

For those of you who don't care to see videos of Someone Else's Grandkid, turn back now!

Here is my oldest son Scott in three clips from their high school production of Funny Girl, posted here for family and friends who couldn't attend the show.The still photo in front of the American Flag is of Scott, Kurt (who played Nick Arnstein), and the musical director. There is a photo of Scott and his former kindergarten teacher, who is the beloved and devoted costume director, and the last photo is of Scott and his maternal grandmother.