Wednesday, March 31, 2010

good news

After 5 hours, Tim, Julia Ellen, and super-duper helper Will returned home from the ER. Julia Ellen definitely has a small round object in her tummy, where is is supposedly safe. The danger of these batteries is if they get lodged in the esophagus. I'm supposed to watch for it over the next few days and then breathe a huge sigh of relief.

On other fronts we are doing better, I sent a letter to the co-op head, thanking her for including us but stating that we would not be returning. We won't have orders in hand when I go house hunting on Monday, but we have been assured that they are 1 signature away from completed. A plan for fitting in several TAD assignments, packing out, getting us up to Maine, attending all the children's recitals and such is coming together, and we are still working on school every day. I'm waiting for the weather to cooperate so we can go on those last few field trips without having to pack coats and deal with cold children from wind whipping off the water on top of organizing diapers, spare clothes, stroller, and food.

My life right now seems like I'm on the whip ride at the fair, but soon the guy at the switch will realize I'm starting to feel a little nauseous and push the big red button to stop the ride. Soon we will be up in Maine with an entire summer stretching in front of us filled with trips to the beach, fun projects to work on, and nature to explore. I just have to make it through the next few months without losing my lunch in order to get there.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

prayers please

Tim got home in time for my dentist appointment only to hear, "Julia Ellen swallowed a (tiny watch) battery!" He wasn't home 10 minutes before he took her to the Emergency Room.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

palm sunday

If we went forward to the altar and received 7 palms from the priest, how did we end up with 20 by the time we got home? Charlie is like the little boy who brought his lunch to Jesus and ended up helping feed over 5000. Of course the palms now are too narrow to be made into crosses, but there are certainly a lot of them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

who will be wearing that stethoscope in the future?

An excellent article over at American Thinker about how difficult and expensive it is to become a doctor.

This was my comment:

An acquaintance was lauding the passage of Obamacare, "If doctors don't like getting paid less then they can find something else to do. My husband is a lawyer and he has 6 years of post-graduate training and we are barely making ends meet. Why should doctors get paid so much?"

I toted it up in my head that my husband has spent 14 years in post-graduate training and we are now facing what we can do if he can't find a job in medicine (after military retirement). I just can't fathom how people can begrudge someone a professional living when they have studied, trained, and worked for years to specialize in some branch of medicine that most people can't even spell. Can a lawyer, garbage man, or teacher replace your heart? Can a union auto worker diagnose your child with one of the myriad of types of lymphoma? Do you want a congressman standing there in scrubs if your husband gets shot at the mini-mart by a robber?

If we expect competence and expert skill then we must be prepared to pay for it. Right now there are fewer people going into medicine than ever before, many of the smart ones see the writing on the wall and are turning to some other way of pursing the American Dream. Medicine is no longer the route to a good life. It is instead the path to huge debt, crushing working hours, and the opportunity to be sued and lose everything at any moment.

Friday, March 26, 2010

moving on up

I'm so proud of Will today. Last night he went through his board of review and was given his 2nd class Boy Scout badge. While he doesn't always obey Mommy and Daddy at home, he certainly acts like a helpful and courteous Scout on Thursday nights. His Scoutmaster praised him to the skies and said he was a real asset to the troop. We told him that if he advances to 1st class before we move then he can pursue the shooting merit badge at camp this summer during the 2 weeks we are sending him. To prove his effort he got 3 items signed off toward that goal after the meeting. I would have preferred a little less enthusiasm as this meant we didn't get home until 10pm.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

carnival of homeschooling

Homegrown Mommy is hosting this week's carnival.

flexibility is the key

Being a military family is a lot like a last-minute bargain traveler. We have the opportunity to travel and see many places in our country and around the world, but we sometimes must make a speedy decision, and the destination options might not be as broad as if we have gone to the travel agency months in advance. After getting all excited about returning to my hometown and researching the real estate market extensively, there are some issues that might prevent us from going to Portsmouth. We have a few other options, including staying here in DC or moving up to Great Lakes in Illinois.

The next few weeks will prove my competence as a military spouse, the ability to go with the flow and not get my heart set on any specific plan. There are benefits to going to Portsmouth, especially to spend more time with my grandmother, who is currently trying out an assisted living facility. But I certainly can't act like a spoiled child and insist that we go there, it might not be possible. Even staying here would be a pain as we have to move to another house with our lease expiring. Illinois would be an adventure since I've never been in that part of the country and relish the idea of trying out something new for a short spell.

My plan for this week is to research the area I know little about, perhaps look at some rental prices, call Seton for the names of some homeschoolers in the area, and roll the idea around a bit like a new food in my mouth and see if it is palatable.

Monday, March 22, 2010

a rethinking

It just seems like yesterday when I was at my breaking point and needed something (or more than one something) to get back on track academically and mentally. Only 2 months ago I was walking around the local Catholic school seriously contemplating enrolling the children. This past weekend was beautiful and warm (80F on Sunday) and we are doing 4th quarter work in some subjects, so we are seeing sunlight at the end of the tunnel.

However, the homeschool co-op I raved about in December is not working out as well as I would like, it seems like a hormonal froth of petty accusations every time we go, "Your child is out of control! She is eating too much sugar for breakfast!" "Your children were eating during the movie!" "Your child was where he wasn't supposed to be!" "Your child is not following the dress code!" (I didn't even know there was one) I don't get relief from duty like most of the moms and then somehow I'm supposed to be supervising in 3 places during lunch, all while hauling around a 20+ pound kid while everyone else sits back and chats in the lounge.

Part of me wants to send an email to the group saying, "Thanks for the help, but this isn't fun anymore," while the other part doesn't want to be a quitter with only 8 weeks left. I really do like some of the ladies and do provide a service watching the preschoolers in the nursery, but the day completely wears me out and I don't like the older ones being in a class where the teacher obviously has a grudge against them. I also want to squeeze in few more field trips before we packout, including returns to Mt. Vernon and the National Zoo, as well as seeing the US Naval Academy, my father's and grandfather's alma mater. So, I need to spend some time in prayer and decide what we are going to do for the last few months of the school year; stay home or finish out the co-op year.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

pray, pray, pray

Pray that the House of Representatives will represent the will of the American people and not pass the Obamacare bill. If the forces of darkness are successful then we will have more abortions, more elderly bumped off, more taxes, and the federal government intruding into every aspect of our lives. Some faceless bureaucrat will decide who gets treatment (and who doesn't), who gets loans for college (and who doesn't), and who will be investigated for living a different lifestyle (meaning military, homeschooling, gun owners...).

We will have the government deciding what foods and additives are simply not acceptable (such as salt and transfats) and how much you can weigh. We will be subject to a dozen additional and new taxes and millions more will lose their jobs. Pray for strength, wisdom, and courage for those who dare to go against Pelosi and Obama. May God have mercy on our nation and defend it from all invaders, foreign and domestic.

Friday, March 19, 2010

real life rush hour game

Lately my life has turned into one giant logic puzzle. Saturday is a good example: Maggie had a birthday party from 12-3, Mary had piano makeup lesson at 1:45, Will's at 2:30 and Will volunteered to help the Cub Scout pack set up and judge their Pinewood Derby beginning at 12. All these activities were in opposite directions and at least 30 minutes drive apart. Add to the challenge a still nursing baby and that one vehicle only holds 3 people (and the brakes stick in wet weather). I felt like someone was holding a timer and a camera on me the whole day and my antics were going to be broadcast on some weird reality show. We had similar logistical headaches on Monday and Thursday, and tonight is planning on being another doozy. Maggie has ballet from 6-7pm and Mary has an American Heritage Girls dinner from 6:30-8, which should be fine except the place is 45 minutes away. I'm hoping we can squeeze in supper sometime in all this running around on back roads to avoid the famously snarled Washington, DC traffic.

Only another few months of events that require a social secretary to sort out and then we will be in Maine where the only decision that has to be made most days is, "Shall I walk around the fields first thing in the morning or work on the path through the woods?" Images of lazy days of swimming in the bay, hiking on untrampled paths at the state park, and arranging huge bouquets of child-picked wildflowers are sustaining me through the hectic and frantic state I now find myself in.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

carnival of homeschooling

Beverly's Homeschool Blog is hosting this week's carnival with a theme of Celebrating Life.

reading bombs

I love to read and somehow, even with 6 children at home all day, I read about one book a day. The other night when I saw someone reading on their Kindle, I asked her, "Do you really like that? Don't you miss the feel of the paper, the weight of the book on your knees when you read in bed?" (or something similar, like, "How do you like that thing?") She said, "Oh, I've been reading so much more now. I've finished 4 books since Christmas!" But I can read really fast and grew up in a home where we spent as much time reading as sleeping, sometimes more. Other people didn't get that growing up and read much slower. They probably remember a lot more of what they read too, while I can't recall who actually 'did it' in the murder mystery I read last week. (but that can be beneficial as I can read it again and again and again)

Occasionally I get to peruse the stacks at the local library alone. There is time to read the inner flap and the author bio and take more than 30 seconds to decide if I want to stick it in my tote bag. Usually though, I am pulling books off the shelf and stuffing them in my bag with little more than the cover art to go on. I've read some good books this way and it doesn't cost me anymore than a sore shoulder at any rate. But lately I have brought home some really horrible books and since Tim was away I stayed up to late reading and didn't bother just dropping them on the floor and picking up another. Today I'm heading back with my tote full of duds and trying again.

I'm sharing the 4 worst books I checked out so if you happen to spy them on the library shelf you can steer clear and not waste your time. HGTV The Best of Designers' Challenge: if I was interested in $120,000 Tuscan inspired kitchen makeovers, or $40,000 bathroom redos featuring fireplaces and candles across the wall I might be more interested, but as I want to pick out wall colors for our new home, it is a little too over the top.

A Rogue of My Own: Yes, I occasionally read Regency romances, but this was cliched, predictable from page 2, and plumb stupid. I would have spent my time much better by rereading a Jane Austen for the 100th time. Much better.

The Working Poor, Invisible in America: all the poor in America are just beaten down by the system, in awful circumstances... and we have to fix it. We should pay more and more taxes to give these folks who have children at 14, use drugs, commit crime, and drop out of school a decent apartment, food, and teachers who are exceptional. There needs to be a safety net so wide to allow them to be comfortable while earning minimum wage. Now, I'm not a heartless witch, but there was little mention of personal responsibility in this book. Instead of making me feel sorry for the adults who found themselves in dire straits, I only felt pity for the poor children born to them.

The last dud book for the week was The Sweet By and By, a thinly veiled "Christian" novel which started without introducing the main characters so that I couldn't make heads or tails of it by page 5. After reading page 8 I gave up and was grateful that I didn't read another word.

So, here's to a better batch of books this week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

lost book

Why is it that in cleaning out the children's rooms in preparation for Tim getting back from a week in New England we unearthed an entire laundry basket full of books, but not one of them was the missing library book?

I've renewed Arthur's Great Big Valentine 3 times now, hoping it will turn up, which will likely surface the day after I pay for the darn thing. This brings up another query, why do the library books that end up lost always have to be fluff that I wouldn't want to keep? That's easy. We already own 90% of the classic, quality children's books on the market.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

let's make noise!

A box of macaroni and cheese makes a very good maraca, though it isn't the best accompaniment to Bach's Minuet in G.

Friday, March 12, 2010

call your Congressman and say NO!

I highly recommend reading this entire piece by Ken Blackwell, but here is enough to make you pick up the phone and call your Rep. I recommend calling a local office rather than the Capitol number, the people tend to be nicer and you are more likely to get through.

It's all supposed to be voluntary, those "home visits" that are tucked into the mammoth ObamaCare bill. If you have a strong stomach, and stronger bottom, you can find home visitation on pages 568-595. That's Section 2951 of H.R. 3590, the Senate bill that Harry Reid brought down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

Is your family being "targeted" for such home visitations? Let's see if you fit into one of these very broad categories:

•Families where Mom is not yet 21.

•Families where someone is a tobacco user.

•Families where children have low student achievement, developmental delays, or disabilities.

•Families with individuals who are serving or formerly served in the armed forces, including such families that have members of the armed forces who have had multiple deployments outside the United States.

Who will sit atop the federal pyramid that runs this vast new invasion of family privacy? Why, it will be Sec. of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

Do you spank your children? You should know that HHS bureaucrats think you are an abuser. Do you support the Second Amendment? How would you like HHS bureaucrats asking your children if you maintain firearms in the home for family protection? Do you home school your kids? Take care. Members of Congress who have tried to abolish home schooling are big backers of this health care bill.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

will the last kid left turn out the light?

Facing potential bankruptcy, the board that governs the once flush-with-cash Kansas City school district ... narrowly approved the plan to close 29 out of 61 schools Wednesday night at a meeting packed with angry parents. woman asked the crowd, "Is anyone else ready to homeschool their children?"

Under the approved plan, buildings will be shuttered before the next school year. Teachers at six other low-performing schools will be required to reapply for their jobs, and the district will try to sell its downtown central office. It also is expected to cut about 700 of the district's 3,000 jobs, including about 285 teachers.

Superintendent John Covington has stressed that the district's buildings are only half-full as its population has plummeted amid political squabbling and chronically abysmal test scores. The district's enrollment of fewer than 18,000 students is about half of what the schools had a decade ago and just a quarter of its peak in the late 1960s.

My question is why would any parents fight so hard for their child to go to a failing school in a district filled with bickering bureaucrats? If this is the deciding factor for a parent to investigate homeschooling then I say, "Goody, goody gumdrops," because I doubt any parent could do worse teaching them at home than leaving them in the Kansas City school system.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

carnival of homeschooling

Homeschool Bytes is hosting this week's carnival with a party theme. I am especially interested in the post about homeschooled Cub and Boy Scouts.

Monday, March 08, 2010

urban renewal

Due to liberal policies such as high taxation and a glut of overpaid union workers, Michigan is in terrible financial difficulties, especially the city of Detroit. But what is a horrible financial mess for some folks is opportunity for others. Foreclosed houses (1/5 of the standing buildings) in Detroit are selling for $1-$5000 cash, giving those who could not possibly afford a home a way to achieve the American Dream.

I saw this cycle firsthand in downtown Portsmouth where magnificent homes built between 1820-1860 were selling for $20,000 to anyone with enough guts and vision to see the future. Now those same homes sell for $400,000, even in today's depressed market. The first to move into a blighted area with cheap prices are the young artists, followed by the entrepreneurs who swoop in to fix up houses and sell once an area has been deemed trendy and on a safer financial footing. Finally, the masses jump on the bandwagon and home values soar. Instead of viewing the depopulation of Detroit as a crisis, folks who need a hand-up in today's economy should look at it as an way to escape their present circumstances.

But what is blight to some is proving an opportunity to remake parts of the city for others living there. The Old Redford part of Detroit has suffered its share of desolation. The police station, high school and community centre are closed. Yet the area is being revitalised, led by John George... They are pulling down housing that cannot be saved and creating community gardens with fresh vegetables free for anyone to pick.

"Detroit has some of the nicest housing stock in the country. Brick, marble, hardwood floors, leaded glass. These houses were built for kings," George added.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

a must read

This is a fabulous article about the future of health care by Thomas Sowell, entitled Getting Out of Medicine, stating the obvious, that with increasing regulation and bureaucracy America will have fewer doctors.

"Paying doctors less and hassling them more may be some people’s idea of “lowering the cost of medical care,” but it is really just refusing to pay the costs — and taking the consequences."

Saturday, March 06, 2010

lazy or cheap?

Having nursed 6 children for an average of 14 months I have spent much time wearing nursing bras and tanks. I really like Target's selection that allows me to keep my tummy covered while breastfeeding. However, the plastic snaps and strap adjusters have broken on several, leaving me to keep them together with safety pins. Since Julia Ellen is almost 12 months old, I really can't justify the $50 expense and hassle of shopping for new nursing gear since she likely will be weaned in the next few months. Perhaps if the last intact one breaks in the next few weeks I'll give in, but I'm hoping I can hold out until she learns to drink cow's milk and then throw the whole pile out in the trash.

Friday, March 05, 2010

what an exciting world out there!

Julia Ellen got a new car seat this week as her old infant bucket seat was breaking (just the handle to release it from the base) and her little legs were sticking out so far that they were jammed against the seat. These days it is much easier to purchase and install car seats without all that bulky packaging that Will was able to put it into the car all by himself.

On the way up to American Heritage Girls yesterday the baby was literally squealing she was so thrilled to see cars, trees, and her siblings while we were motoring along. The old seat is sitting beside the trash can outside and hopefully this is the last car seat/booster seat we will be purchasing, if I can remember correctly we have bought 8 in the last 12 years.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

budget cut suggestion

The children's librarian was telling me yesterday that the county is slashing funding so much that she might not have a job much longer. I said that it was unfair that the politicians threaten the only services that the public really needs such as fire stations and libraries when they have so many unnecessary bureaucratic positions that could be eliminated. The public schools for example are full of paper pushers whose jobs description must include trying to make things more difficult for homeschoolers like this superintendent from Rhode Island who insisted on an

... illogical requirement that homeschoolers “go through the Central Office Complex for registration and follow the guidelines of policy JFAA for the Admission of Resident Students.” The school superintendent felt so strongly that homeschoolers should have to register in exactly the same way as public school students that he refused to budge. Instead, he appealed to the Rhode Island Department of Education.

On February 1, the Commissioner of Education sent a letter to the superintendent stating:

“It is my opinion that personal information related to the home schooled student and his/her parents is not subject to the same data collection protocols that apply to students enrolled in public school. … [T]he parents of homeschooled children are not required to provide you with the same ‘basic information’.”

Private schools just do not have the quantity of administrative positions that the public schools do, why pay for four principals in a middle school when one will do? The same situation occurs in medicine, a county hospital will have a small building for the administration while the staff that does not come in contact with patients at Portsmouth Naval Hospital commandeers the entire original hospital for offices and conference rooms. When budgets are fixed, the private entity will reduce overhead while the government entity will cut basic positions that are supposedly the purpose of the enterprise such as teachers or nurses.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

carnival of homeschooling

Homeschool Buzz is hosting this week's carnival with a Homeschool Oddities edition.

reasonable expectations

Our entire homeschooling experience has been fully enrolled with Seton Home Study School. They send all the books and lesson plans for each child along with tests, quizzes, and progress report forms to send and receive report cards. We have found through the years which subjects need more work than the they suggest and which ones need much more. Will is in 6th grade and we have found that the Seton tests for this grade are very difficult to pass without sufficient studying. Today we finished up the 2nd quarter religion test which Seton gives 4 days of study and 1 day to take the 4 page test. Instead, we took 3 weeks to review and test in smaller chunks. It wasn't the Bible history part that was so hard, but memorizing 15 catechism questions perfectly.

I guess we are "technically" behind now, but I use review and tests in religion, history, and science to continue to learn the material, not to trip them up. Unlike mathematics and phonics, which review the same concepts over and over, these other subjects are new material that doesn't really "stick" unless it is covered more than the one reading of the chapter. Yes, we do supplement with Story of the World and non-fiction books, but if we spend a month or more on the material than the lesson plans officially call for and spend more time in review then the children will be better off in the long run, even if their summer vacation is a tad bit shorter.

Monday, March 01, 2010

what was I thinking?

This morning Tim and I were trying to hash out this afternoon's logistical nightmare of trying to be in 3 places at the same time. Once upon a time I decided not to attempt more than one outing per day, but that doesn't work fitting in 6 children's activities. But I should have picked a different day to schedule a dentist appointment for myself than the busiest day of the week with co-op, piano, and ballet. I can barely remember where we have to be when and was actually 20 minutes late to piano last week after looking at my watch and saying, "We have to be there NOW!" and fighting with the horrible DC traffic.

It is too late to change my appointment, but hopefully I will recall this day next time I am on the phone with a doctor's office, "No, I can't do it that day, I can't lie still and watch 6 kids all at the same time."