Monday, March 31, 2008

Mommy, I want to see a da Vinci!

Our final day in Washington was cold, rainy, and windy, the perfect day to spend inside a museum looking at paintings of warm, sunny Italy and France. Luckily I had packed sweatshirts for everyone and with umbrella in hand, we headed back down toward the Capitol and the Mall. As I made sure none of my charges were lagging behind I noticed swarms of teens walking briskly or waiting in line to go into the Supreme Court. Many of the girls were wearing summer attire such as short sleeved thin tops and short skirts with heels. They didn't quite sport the diva look since their skin was slightly blue and their arms were wrapped around their bodies. "Teaching moment guys," I announced when we were out of hearing, "Always pack appropriately for the season and wear comfortable shoes when going to a city where you walk everywhere."

Once inside the National Gallery of Art we wandered around the second floor looking at beautiful religious art and often stumbling across paintings the kids recognized from Sister Wendy's Story of Painting video series. The evening before we had read about several of the more famous paintings in a library book on the Smithsonian. The painting I had starred on my list was the only Leonardo da Vinci painting currently in the Western Hemisphere. Ginevra de' Benci, a gentle and intelligent girl sat for this portrait when she was 16 and about to be married. The painting is displayed in the center of the gallery so both the front and the back can be seen. The image on the reverse was painted several years later and uses symbols to describe the personality of Ginevra.

After a few hours which seemed to fly by the younger children were clamoring for a snack and drink so we had to wave farewell to Monet's Woman with a Parasol, Renoir's Girl with a Watering Can, Degas' dancers, and many other new friends. I am sure there will be many more trips back to the West Wing of the National Gallery and perhaps a swing through the more modern paintings in the East Wing.

Back up the hill to the Capitol for one last time, I made Maggie and Charlie jump out of the double stroller so I could push it those last few yards. We arrived back at the house to make the beds, finish packing the van, and have a quick lunch. Since I made a wrong turn trying to get back to 395 we accidentally swung around the Mall one last time and finally pulled onto the interstate, leaving the hustle and bustle of DC behind us. Only after stopping at the rest stop in North Carolina did I notice that Maggie has swiped several house keys while I was packing the van. Not the worst thing in the world and easily remedied with a mailer from the post office and a few stamps. We swung into the driveway at 6pm weary, hungry, and grubby, but grateful for the opportunity to see a few of our nation's treasures and monuments.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

off to the moon!

"Up, up! Time to go!" Will called to us all at 7am Wednesday morning. The day he had been waiting for was at hand. However, the doors of the National Air and Space Museum didn't open until 10am so I had to slow everyone down so we would not get to the doors before even the museum employees arrived.

After 2 hours of looking at such famous artifacts like the rickety plane flown by Orville Wright, Amelia Earhart's tiny red plane she flew across the Atlantic, and the LM prototype shown here, the kids started pestering me for their promised "astronaut ice cream."
Actually, Maggie had been asking in a plaintive voice since we walked in the door, but I told her if she asked again I was going to eat hers. I figured that I would indulge them in such a treat once as children, especially since I had to shell out $16 for a 5 bag pack of what I thought was going to all be packets of cookies and cream. However, I found as I passed them out that it was a mix including Neapolitan and freeze dried strawberries. When Mary, who clamored for the pink package, tasted one strawberry she started to cry. I first gave them to Timmy, but when he decided that he didn't like them either, all the kids generously gave pieces of their ice cream to him.

As on the previous two days, we made it all the way to the Capitol reflecting pool before Charlie announced, "I have to go potty!" Perhaps it was seeing all that water, but after the first pant wetting incident on Monday, I put him back in nappies. This day I told him yet again, "There is no bathroom within 4 blocks and no place you can just pull down your pants. You can go in your nappie or hold it until we get back to the house."

After another afternoon of playing UNO, naps, and reading stories, we had had one house disaster. My cousin's house is just like most of my relative's homes - filled with exquisite antiques and breakables. I warned the children many times during our trip not to damage anything, but just when I thought everything was going to emerge unscathed, disaster struck. While I was sitting in the next room bathing the little boys Maggie found a ball point pen and drew several circles in the finish of a blanket chest. I scrubbed with some brownish oil, pledge, and wax, but to no avail. To say that I was livid and mortified was a gross understatement. I trundled everyone into bed early and prayed that my relatives would understand and allow me to pay for Maggie's misdeed. After the tongue-lashing she received, I figured it would be quite a while before she did such a thing again. Little did I know that I only had to wait until the next day for another episode of childish foolishness that got her mother riled up.

Tomorrow's itinerary? The National Gallery of Art, packing, cleaning up, and the long drive home.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

Is up at Phat Mommy.

lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

What a beautiful day! The cherry trees were unfurling as we pushed the stroller all the way down to the Washington Monument hoping to be able to ride the elevator to see through the tiny windows at the top. But alas, the guidebook didn't mention that these days you have to obtain timed tickets which are distributed beginning at 8:30am and by the time we arrived at 9:10 they were all gone for the day. I knew that we would have to be out of the house the next morning at 7am to have a chance so wisely I gave up that idea and told the kids, "Another time perhaps."

We headed back up to our next stop, the Natural History Museum and after waiting with the hoards of other folks eager for dinosaurs and gems I carried the double stroller with Timmy seated inside like a rajah all the way up the marble steps to the entrance. Whew, my poor back! While the majority of folks turned right toward the fossils, our crew headed left to see all the impressive animals that have been preserved. An elephant, lions, a huge bison, kangaroos, as well as this pretty scene of a nursing fawn were among the creatures we could see up close.

After a quick trip to the potty we went up the one ramp to the dinosaur and fossil exhibits and marveled at the effort required to reconstruct the bones of these enormous creatures. The kids were fascinated over how large many of these prehistoric creatures were, the mastodons and mammoths, the huge early armadillo, and these turtles. By now the masses of schoolgroups had arrived at the museum and I had to swim upstream to get back to that lone ramp to leave the exhibit. It took all my willpower not to start ramming people with the front of the stroller as it took me longer to navigate the 15 feet to the entrance as it did to see the entire gallery of fossils. "Excuse me, pardon me. Please let me through." It took me right back to Italy where I was always the last on every flight because people would see an opportunity to slip in right in front of the stroller.

Finally we headed upstairs to see the Hope Diamond and other gems, but when I saw the 6 deep crowd around the glass I gave up. Will and Mary insisted on wiggling in and trying to take a photo of the exquisitely crafted gem. Perhaps Will's picture will come out, but with flashes constantly going off as well as his propensity to get too close to his subject to focus properly I doubt it. After a quick stop in the gift shop for postcards and a sugar crystal lollipop treat we headed outside and back to the house for lunch and naptime. The rest of the afternoon we read, played UNO, washed clothes, and relaxed. The few schoolbooks I brought stayed in the basket, and everyone was eager for bed and the much anticipated return to the Air and Space museum in the morning.

Friday, March 28, 2008

directions? keys? well, then off we go...

The kids and I packed the car on Sunday afternoon and, after brushing teeth and eating breakfast, left for our grand adventure Monday morning. We arrived in DC around 2pm, but drove around for 30 minutes trying to find a certain block of E street that was cut in half by the 395 on-ramp. After asking a police officer (they are everywhere, 2 per block) we finally parked the car, unloaded some suitcases and the children and proceeded to the front door. When I put the key in the lock nothing happened.


4.5 hours from home with 5 tired and cranky children and the key won't work. I looked down in shock at the return address on the envelope the key had been mailed in. A tiny spark in my brain reminded me that Grandmother had mentioned years before that my cousins had moved, but since my Christmas cards didn't come back I forgot about it.

Until now.

After pulling out the map, I realized that their house was only about 6 blocks away and shoved them all back into car seats for the short trip behind the Capitol. I prayed for a parking space and behold, one appeared right across from their house, the only one big enough for my van that I saw for the next 3 days. That sucker wasn't gonna move until Thursday afternoon.

After finding that the key did work (thank you cousins for writing the return address) we proceeded to unload all the gear needed for 6 people for 3 days and it was a lot. Pack-n-play, clothes, every stuffed animal and doll they owned, backpacks, and of course their Easter baskets filled with plastic eggs and candy. I figured out where everyone was going to sleep and decided it was a too lovely day to waste inside.
We made the first of our 4 trips down the hill inhaling deeply the fragrant cherry blossoms that were just starting to open and went in the National Air and Space Museum for an hour. We oohed and aahed over the LEM, the planes hanging from the ceiling, and all touched the moon rock. I promised them we would come back and I would buy them astronaut ice cream. Of course there was the typical nappie crisis with Charlie wetting his pants (his first accident in a long time) we hoofed the 8 blocks back to the house. I tried to stay up reading, but soon crashed from the long drive, my initial panic at the first house, and having to push the double stroller back up Capitol Hill. Tuesday's plan: Washington Monument and the Natural History Museum with the inevitable fun and crises.

Day 2: lions tigers and bears, oh my!
Day 3: off to the moon!
Day 4: Mommy, I want to see a da Vinci!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Easter, filled with joy and gratitude, chocolate bunnies, and time with family.

Our Easter flower bouquet from the discount floral bin at Kroger. I even had to buy a bigger glass vase to hold them all. I do hope Tim remembers to change the water while we are gone.

Have a good week and see you on Friday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

love my hair, hate my hair

I have had so many bad haircuts in the past 35 years that a few years back I just quit going.

There was the time I was 7 and the lady at the beauty parlor tried her best to give me a Dorothy Hamill cut- I looked so much like a boy that my mother had to have a t shirt made that read 100% GIRL. There were the bad spiral perm, the red hair dye that stuck and I gave myself swimmer's ear trying to wash it out, and still ended up with pink hair for prom. There was the short wedge that made me look like a female golfer and the $100 haircut that made me look exactly as I had when I walked in the door. Finally I just gave up and grew it out long with bangs.

But the one consistency has been the color: golden blond, a far, far cry from my natural medium mouse brown. Several times I have tried to grow it out or dye it back, but I missed the youthfulness and sparkle the blond brought out and gave up. No more. After reading the book Growing Gray, What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters a few weeks ago, I finally decided to go natural and a little shorter. I'm still not subjecting myself to the whims of a salon, but armed with a pair of scissors I layered the sides, hacked off 2" and bought some new styling products. My roots are about 3" long with some highlights, but I can no longer stand the expense, the fakery, the time it takes to attempt to look like I'm 22 when it is become increasingly obvious that I am approaching 40. (40? Yuck!) My hair needs to grow up.

Cheer me on my journey of exploration and discovery, 'cause I haven't seen my natural hair color since 1986.

mothering style

Your type is: istj —The “Responsibility” Mother

“I have a serious love affair with to-do lists. I could sit for hours reading, organizing, and rearranging my weekly calendar.”

The ISTJ mother has a highly developed sense of responsibility: for work, home, family ... particularly her children. Whether she’s overseeing daily baths or insisting on a 10 p.m. curfew, her efforts are largely focused on providing her children with order and routine. She wants them, regardless of age, to be able to count on her and the structure she provides.

In carrying out her commitment to her responsibilities, the ISTJ mother is organized, industrious, and detail-oriented. Because her focus is the day-to-day realities of life, her children are likely to feel secure and well provided for.

The ISTJ mother also sets a good example and provides her children with practical guidance on being a productive, responsible individual. Still, with all her seriousness, she may delight family members with her quick wit and observations about the details of life.

This mothering style quiz was found courtesy of Jeanne at Books and Brownies, a fellow North Carolina homeschooling mom of soon-to-be 7.

So what is super-organized mom doing today? Picking up sippy cups and juice for the trip to DC on Monday and making a packing list. Don't want to forget anything!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

For our sake he suffered, died, and was buried. God died that we sinners might live!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

9 years ago...

Tim and I were standing in the little military chapel at the Capodichino base in Naples, Italy to be confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church. While we met in St John's Episcopal Church, were married there, and Will was baptized there 2 weeks before we left for Italy I am glad to now be home and no longer a heretic/outside the true church.

Since then we have learned much more about our faith, Tim so much so that his writings about various subjects pertaining to Catholic medical ethics have been published a dozen times in magazines and medical journals. I have not written anything as profound, but have memorized all those prayers I once thought weird and have taught them to the children. It is so precious to listen to Maggie blurt out the Act of Contrition each night before bed, a prayer I had to carry in my pocket the first dozen or so times I went to Confession.

I especially am grateful to the wonderful ladies from Catholic Women of the Chapel in Italy who showed me hospitality, gave me an enthusiasm for homeschooling, taught me how to pray the Rosary, and were such good friends and examples in my early days as a Catholic. May God bless each one and may God help each of us to encourage each other in our Faith.

putting organic veggies and the Pill in your basket?

Recently I have stopped buying my hormone-free milk at Whole Foods because I can now get it at Harris Teeter and besides the shorter drive, I can evade the stares and glares from the former's eco-extreme shoppers. "You are single-handedly overpopulating the planet," I can almost hear them saying.

When I see folks putting $4 a pound organic apples and $7 a pound free range chickens in their carts I wonder if they counteract all that by popping artificial birth control pills. And while reading Mother Earth News (just for the agriculture stuff) there is always some real life story about a couple living off the electrical grid, usually in a yurt (a big ugly round tent) and eating veggies they grew in compost made from their own waste (perhaps a slight exaggeration)and how this lifestyle is the most wholesome for Mother Earth, I wonder if they too put artificial chemicals in their bodies to stop their reproductive system from behaving naturally.

After all, the folks at the grocery nor the ones in the magazine seem to have any children. 'Cause we all have been fed the line that children are evil and the cause of all the problems in the world. If children didn't exist there would be no global warming, no acid rain, no suburban sprawl (well...), no crime, no cutting down of trees, no progress. Of course with no children there would be no humanity either, but that seems to be a slight oversight. So it pleases me to see some mention of how the hormones in ABC are dangerous to people and the environment. Maybe by reading this a seed of truth will be planted in those tree-hugger's minds...

Birth control pills, like batteries and baby bottles, have become the latest item in American homes to become a focus of environmental and health concerns. As scientists debate the effects of synthetic hormones that are flushed into waterways, the potential threat has sparked a clash between advocates and critics of the pill.

"I've heard a little bit about the bad things that birth control can do to the environment," said Casale, 26, who lives in New York City. "If it's causing major problems, I guess I would stop.

In 2003, a group of scientists in Washington state made headlines when they discovered that traces of synthetic estrogen in the state's rivers had reduced the fertility of male fish. Hormonal birth control pills and patches were blamed.

David Norris, a physiology professor at the University of Colorado ...said numerous reports show that estrogenic chemicals in water can result in thyroid problems and an adrenaline imbalance. Thyroid inhibitors are of major concern because they affect the nervous system's development and can cause permanent mental retardation. (link to article)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

global warming or new ice age?

Here is North Carolina the forsythias, magnolias, crab apples, and daffodils are blooming. The air is warm and the kids spend every afternoon riding their bikes around the block. Up in Maine it is a different story. A friend says that this is the most snow he has seen in 60 years. Just look at the piles of snow piled up from the driveway plowing, it is as high as the truck cab! See the ominous sky? Forecast of more snow today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

homeschool carnival

This week's carnival is hosted by Taking Times for Things That Matter with a Dr. Seuss inspired Oh, The Things That You'll Do! theme.

if you gotta go, go!

Charlie is finally potty-trained and doesn't need any help from me (for the most part), but still calls, "I gotta go potty!" in a plaintive cry every few hours. Almost in unison, the rest of us holler back, "Then go!" Sometimes I add in a little snide comment, such as, "There is no line and you don't have to ask permission, this isn't public school." Charlie then toddles off to the potty and resumes playing until the urge hits again... "I gotta go!"

Taking a bathroom break in our school day doesn't take up much time since we only have 3 children and the bathroom is right next to the school room. The children just resume working when they come back, unless it is Will in there reading a Hardy Boys or Star Wars book, in which case I have to holler at him. One benefit of homeschooling I have pointed out to the children is that they don't have to ask permission to use the potty, unlike this child in Florida who was forced by his teacher to use a lunchbox in class as a urinal. I know how frustrating it can be to be interrupted 10 times each hour to be asked, not about something educational, but to be allowed to leave the room for water or the bathroom. I don't know what the solution is for the public schools, but am grateful once more that my kids have never had to ask permission or been denied access to the facilities.

Monday, March 17, 2008

which of these is not like the others?

Now that I am pretty much recovered from the 6 hours of driving and only 5 hours of sleep on a floor (I am getting too old for this sort of thing), it becomes apparent how unlike we homeschoolers are from most send-them-to-school moms. When we moved down here I wanted Mary to have the opportunity to make some friends her age and got her signed up with a Brownie troop at the local Catholic school. She goes every other Friday and seems to enjoy herself and certainly fits in well with the other girls. However, on this weekend's trip down to the aquarium I was grilled on why I would want to homeschool, 'cause they couldn't do that to their daughters who need social interaction and the academic excellence they get at XYZ Catholic school. I won't even go into the increased "isn't she a weirdo?" queries I got during supper when they asked me why we go to the Traditional Latin Mass.

Listening to their talk, it struck me how we are oddities, since most folks here are dual income professionals, associated with universities, and don't spend a lot of time with their kids, but spend huge amounts of money on their schools, their sports, their activities, and their wardrobes. There was also an underlying striving toward future materialistic goals for the children by pushing for superb test scores and admission to a fancy college that was almost frantic. For what? A prestigious job like mom and dad? A chance for their children to produce more suburbanite professionals just like themselves? Is that the end-all, be-all of life today? I feel much more at home among the hippies of Maine who understand our desire to be counter-cultural, even if it is from the opposite side of the political spectrum.

This weekend, even though I tried to keep a low profile, I still felt like an exhibit in the freak side show at the circus. "Come right up, folks! See the amazing mother of 5. Hear that? 5 children! She doesn't work, but stays in her jammies until 7am! She cooks, she cleans, she educates her own children! Give her a poke, she really is made of flesh and blood, just like you! The most amazing thing is she stays home and hasn't quite gone completely batty yet! But perhaps if you pester her enough, she might. Give it a go! See if you can send her to the loony bin! $5 a ticket, step this way!"

I am quite sure that when we move up to DC I will be able to find some other moms I can become friends with: moms who are open to life, who desire to find God's will in their lives, and want to spend great amounts of time with their children. I am looking forward to settling down for a nice cup of tea on the porch with a new friend, "Would you like one lump or two?"

Friday, March 14, 2008

busy, busy weekend


6:00am wake, shower, dress
7:00am drive to 5K race
8:30am run really fast, hopefully place in age group
1:30pm meet with other moms and Brownies in church parking lot
2:00pm drive to aquarium 3 hours away
6:00pm begin overnight with a dozen Brownies, sleeping on floor next to a huge tank with sharks

10:00am leave museum for drive back
12:00noon meet Tim and rest of family for Mass
2:00pm Will's Cub Scout meeting (he will be late)
3:00pm unpack car, bags, and try to recover, as well as make supper

See you Monday!

next quilting project

This is a crazy quilt which was given to me, as the only family member who sews, a few years ago after my great aunt's death. Grandmother remembers it being in the living room of the house when she was growing up. My guess is that it is about 100 years old, but I don't know what relative might have constructed it.

The poor thing has been neglected terribly with almost all the silk pieces split or shattered. I have pulled it out and taken it to the local shop to find matching fabrics. I only picked out 3-4 colors to applique so I can break up the project into smaller ones which should be simple to accomplish, "Look, I finished all the yellow patches." There are over a hundred small blocks that need to be repaired and it could take me months to get it done. The point though, is not to just fix it, but to focus on family, the past, and restoring beauty. I have enjoyed the past few evenings of quietly stitching and admiring the skill of a quilter in my family history.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sister Wendy is a gem

The children and I just finished watching the 10 part BBC series The Story of Painting by Sister Wendy. We see the sweet, buck tooth nun in her traditional habit sweep through museums from Paris to New York, explaining and enlightening her viewers. She is delightful in her enthusiasm for the creativity and passion of dozens of painters, pulling in even the youngest of children to learn and desire to create their own art.

The kids were impressed by all the paintings until we got to the Modern era with cubism and surrealism, abstract expressionism, pop art, and minimalism. Charlie became bored and had to be put to bed, and the video was punctuated by, "Sorry Sister Wendy, I just don't get it." "That looks like splatter!" "I could do that!" Will summed it up by saying afterwards, "I liked all the pictures except those last ones, they were weird!"

I highly recommend this series (we found it at the library), but there are lots of nudes and mention of the technical term for bosom as well as describing the occupation of several of the models (think Elliot Spitzer's recent troubles). However, mixed in with all the unfamiliar artistic words I didn't think the kids even noticed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

what it means to be a little brother

I came home from running my 4 miles to find all the children outside with the babysitter in the beautiful spring weather. Then I noticed something strange, Charlie was riding the little blue bike with no training wheels. Will took it upon himself to remove said training wheels and teach his 3 year old brother to take off and ride around the house all by himself. At least everyone had the good sense to insist he wear his helmet.

Whoa! What happened to the parent teaching their tike to ride their trike? What is next, Mary reading to the little ones on the sofa? "Mommy I already read to them, you can stay on the computer." (ooops, that already has happened too)

This must stop! If you get to do the fun stuff, then you can take over the yucky stuff too, like changing nappies.

Well... at least I know I'm still needed for something.

a sigh of relief

This was in my in-box this morning from HSLDA:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell comes to the defense of homeschool families. "The California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state," he said.

After the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles ruled on February 28 that parents had to be credentialed teachers to educate their own children the statement from O'Connell is encouraging news for the homeschool community."O'Connell has it right," said Michael Farris, Chairman of HSLDA. "But the court decision must still be overturned before homeschool freedom can be restored in California."

The Court of Appeal ruling shocked the homeschool community because in one sweeping decision it effectively outlawed homeschooling."

We hope the statement from O'Connell puts the brakes on any enforcement action," said Farris. HSLDA will be pursuing several legal options, including seeking review by the California Supreme Court and petitioning the same court to depublish the opinion in order to return California to being a state where a family can legally homeschool in California without fear.

I had a sadistic thought during this whole crisis of giving a one-two punch to the whole idea that a teaching degree is somehow essential to teaching children by introducing legislation that requires every teacher, public, private, or home to take the National Teacher Exam for K-8 for free. Wouldn't it be interesting to see who scores the best, and who does the worst?

Now, I would never suggest this in real life, since you give these people an inch and they will twist it into a restriction on liberty, but it does make me grin. After all, homeschool parents are the ones in the trenches teaching children phonics, math, grammar, science, history, in depth and continuously from year to year. I didn't know anything about phonics when I took the NTE and did very well, imagine what I could do now after immersing myself in short and long vowels for 5 years?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The reality of a world with no morality is that...

one in every four teen girls today has a STD.

Liberals want to live in a world with no rules, especially rules about sexuality, however they forgot about natural consequences. Morality, the rules of civilized behavior in society, is not to hurt us or condemn us, it actually helps keep us healthy and happy. I feel so sorry for the tens of thousands of poor girls who now have to live with the shame of having a disease with no cure and the possibility of leading to cancer. The blame should lie with the "free love" radicals of the 1960's, the "just do it if it feels good" left who don't reason, but just let their feelings dictate their actions.

We don't have to just give up our children to this culture of sexual saturation that leads to misery and death, be proactive in shielding the innocents from mass media and teach them the benefits of practicing the virtues of modesty, piety, obedience, love of neighbor, and humility. We have let the "experts" have their way with teaching children about sex for far too long, the results are a disaster. Let us return to parents teaching their children about the facts of life in a context of family and morality and return to a world without a constant epidemic of preventable diseases.

A virus that causes cervical cancer is by far the most common sexually transmitted infection in teen girls aged 14 to 19, while the highest overall prevalence is among black girls — nearly half the blacks studied had at least one STD.

While some teens define sex as only intercourse, other types of intimate behavior including oral sex can spread some infections.

The study by CDC researcher Dr. Sara Forhan is an analysis of nationally representative data on 838 girls who participated in a 2003-04 government health survey. Teens were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent.

Blythe said some doctors also are reluctant to discuss STDs with teen patients or offer screening because of confidentiality concerns, knowing parents would have to be told of the results.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports confidential teen screening, she said.

homeschool carnival

Kris is hosting this week's carnival, with lots of great sounding posts, including a slew about the ruling in California.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I am usually one of those moms who are on top of things like registrations and new shoes, craft projects and taking library books back, mostly because we do so little that I can keep track of what we do take on. However, after getting Mary all excited about Girl Scout horse camp, complete with sleeping the whole week in a tent, I lost the form and completely forgot about the first registration date. Finally I checked on-line only to find all 6 sessions full.

Poor Mary cried and cried, but I might have found something better, a horse rehab farm near our place in Maine which has a day camp running all summer. I wasn't too keen on having a 8 year old spend a week away from home on top of the $400-500 for a week, but this one is much, much more reasonable.

What a wonderful thing the internet is, I can stop a crying child's tears with just a few clicks. Now if I could find a magical way to get them to stop bugging me for candy at the grocery store checkout, I would be one happy mama!

4 months and counting down...

Tim got his official orders Friday so the gears are starting to turn for our upcoming move. I am looking forward to being closer to relatives, having several options for attending a nearby TLM, and belonging to a Catholic homeschool group. There is a lot to do between now and our move date including finding a house, finishing up the school year, organizing, and packing. Likely we will do the same as we did last summer: move, unpack in record time, and hit the road for Maine. Hopefully the apartment will be completed by then, I think the heating system is being installed this week.

The kids are excited about moving, they like looking at pictures of houses on-line, saying, "Get that one."
"Well, that exact house might not be available by the time we go up to pick one out, but I'll keep your suggestion in mind."

I don't think the idea of packing up all their stuff and saying goodbye to their friends is as traumatic as it could be, we haven't really put down roots and they are focused on the final move in 3 years to the farm, "How old will I be when we get ponies and a dog?"

I have been asking the same question for the past 12 years, "How old will we be when we finally get to settle down and never move again?" Military life is hard but at least there is the pride of serving one's country, the little quiver in the throat when singing the National Anthem that makes it all worthwhile. My grandfather served our nation for over 25 years, my father fulfilled his payback time, leaving my mother to deliver her first child alone, and together Tim and I have done our bit. Whenever things get tough, including these days of him not coming home until 8pm most nights he says, "It could be worse; I could be deployed."

Pray with me for families who have loved ones deployed, on the battlefield, or on unaccompanied tours, all far from home.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

California homeschooling parents scared

The recent court ruling in California has been a shock to legal groups such as HSLDA as well as California homeschooling parents. Essentially the judges say that unless a child goes away from home to school he or she is legally truant.

A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.

"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28.

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

Training is for dogs and horses, not for children. How could these judges assume that homeschooled children are not taught to be good citizens? Their parents don't vote? They don't call on their state representatives to support legislation? They don't have any desire to serve their country? What rot!

The ruling was applauded by a director for the state's largest teachers union.
"We're happy," said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. "We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."

The teacher's unions want NO competition, no free market, no accountability at all. At first they pull in new members by scaring young teachers about the promise of legal counsel in case of lawsuit-happy parents, and then use their huge bargaining power to influence politicians and judges so as to eliminate any threat from their monopoly in the market.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute... said the appellate court ruling has set a precedent that can now be used to go after homeschoolers. "With this case law, anyone in California who is homeschooling without a teaching credential is subject to prosecution for truancy violation, which could require community service, heavy fines and possibly removal of their children under allegations of educational neglect," Dacus said.

Homeschooling parent Debbie Schwarzer of Los Altos said she's ready for a fight.
Schwarzer runs Oak Hill Academy out of her Santa Clara County home. It is a state-registered private school with two students, she said, noting they are her own children, ages 10 and 12. She does not have a teaching credential, but she does have a law degree.
"I'm kind of hoping some truancy officer shows up on my doorstep," she said. "I'm ready. I have damn good arguments."

The public school system will not allow Bill Gates to teach computer science, a physician to teach biology, a engineer to teach mathematics, or a published historian to teach US History because they don't have a teaching certificate from a college or university. No exceptions. A degree costs about $15,000 to obtain, most of which is wasted in classes that teach theory, child development, and classroom management. Education programs usually attract the least intelligent students, because it is so easy. However, they are not stupid since teaching is an almost guaranteed job for life with good pay. (I did obtain a Masters in Education (3.78 GPA), but am proud that I have a real undergraduate degree. While teaching I was amazed at how many public school teachers had to retake the National Teachers Exam, which is so easy I scored well above average. I also admit I don't consider myself all that intelligent partly 'cause I quit earning the big bucks to teach my own children.)

Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the ruling would effectively ban homeschooling in the state.
"California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home," he said in a statement.

But Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles, which represented the Longs' two children in the case, said the ruling did not change the law.
"They just affirmed that the current California law, which has been unchanged since the last time it was ruled on in the 1950s, is that children have to be educated in a public school, an accredited private school, or with an accredited tutor," she said. "If they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers."

Heimov said her organization's chief concern was not the quality of the children's education, but their "being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety." (link to article)

Yet again, these judges blatantly show that the purpose of spending billions each year to school children is not to give them an education, but to warehouse them so parents can work, to oversee them to observe neglect or abuse, and to indoctrinate them into being mindless workers and consumers.

This is the reply of Homeschool Association of California to the calls of many worried parents. In other words, "we are doing the best we can, just sit tight." (h/t to Danielle Bean)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

quilt top finished

There is no way I can quilt this 100" square monster on my little Bernina so I will fold it up and take it to Maine and have the nice ladies at Nancy's Quilt Shop quilt an overall pattern for me. It is certainly a lot cheaper than burning out the motor of my machine, which I did to my poor mother's Singer while in high school.

One day I would love to set myself up in business selling quilts, quilting on my own long-arm machine, and selling wool batting from our own sheep. I just have to get the sheep, figure out how to shear, learn how to quilt with a long-arm...


Don't ya hate it when you write a really moving, piece about your love for country, with funny bits about the kids, and Blogger eats it? Yes, I was one of those college students who never backed up any of my term papers and a few of those got eaten too at the last moment.

I will never learn.

Friday, March 07, 2008

field trip coming up!

Since Tim is working the most horrendous hours these days (he has seen baby Timmy for 10 minutes since Sunday) and we have been offered a place to stay in downtown Washington DC, the kids and I are going to take a road trip in a few weeks.

Since we only have about 3 days, unless we skip Friday Enrichment, so I want to make it simple and fun.
Any suggestions for little-child friendly, simple for mom places to go in Washington DC?

Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian (which one?)
National Zoo (though this might be too much- Metro, long walk, then walk around the Zoo)

Did I mention I need simple? One mom, five kids, strange sleeping arrangements, lots of antique furniture to keep safe... The whole thing is making me nervous already.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

This week's carnival is being hosted by Palm Tree Pundit.

move over baby mozart, meet baby st. augustine

The Curt Jester is one of my favorite blogs for all Catholic things funny. Here is his new parody for Catholic babies: a St. Augustine line of products to help babies be well versed in proper Church teachings and liturgy.

We have many great books in our Baby Augustine store such as "Baby's First Catechism", "Moral Theology for Toddlers", our very popular "Read the black, do the red", "The Spirit of the Liturgy for 3 to 5 year olds"...

Baby Augustine also has great toys like St. Peter's Keys which will provide your child hours of fun "binding and loosing."

an apology

It has been pressing on my heart that I was too harsh to Danielle Bean about her encouraging attitude and advice over the past few weeks of Lent. She must have her hands full, full, full with a household of sick children and snow almost up to the rafters while trying to manage her house and homeschooling. She is truly a gifted and holy person and it was unfair of me to criticize her for not being whining and negative on her blog. I recall she wrote a long time ago that what she writes about is sometimes the only positive thing that happened that day. I can understand and am ashamed at my rudeness. I doubt that she read my original post and doubt she will read this one either, but I'm sorry just the same.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

home renovation

When I was growing up I would spend many hours playing with this dollhouse, arranging the tiny gifts around the Christmas tree, smoothing the sheets of the bed, setting the table with miniature dishes. Technically it was my dollhouse, but it was so large it was kept in my Grandmother's dressing room for safekeeping.

It is a unique piece, made for the daughter of the CO at Bremerton Naval Shipyard by the workers there in about 1932. Every time I look at the little fixtures in the bathroom and the stone fireplace I think of the gentle hands of the men who made it. The little girl, Augusta Boatwright grew up and gave it to my great aunt for her two little girls, Ann and Katherine. They didn't have any children so my Grandmother rescued it out of the basement, hosed it down and asked some folks who rehabbed dollhouses for help. They lovingly painted and papered the walls, stained the floors, and painted some of the furniture. My mother cross stitched rugs and coverlets and my auntie Ellen contributed the paintings.

After many years I became too old for childish things, so the dollhouse was again in sorry shape. I pitched out all the junky furniture and gave Mary new pieces over the past few Christmases and birthdays. Recently I started trying to repair some of the damage and decided that the peach living room and aqua bath needed a bit of update. The bathroom walls gave me a hard time, the paint kept streaking so finally I sanded and primed them, purchasing an entire quart of primer when I only needed about 4 tablespoons!

Here is the finished living room:

I made several new bedcovers and pillowcases for the bedrooms.

This is the bathroom all finished:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

exercise alone won't keep you skinny

Girl Scout cookies are dangerous. Even more dangerous is selling Girl Scout cookies. All 7 boxes of Thin Mints have disappeared from our pantry, and most are now resting on my hips and backside. I don't know what they put in those things, but when there is a green box anywhere in the house I can't think of anything else but that alluring voice beckoning, "cookies... come and get us...cookies are calling."

I have gained 5 pounds over the past few weeks from those tasty treats, despite giving up Coca-cola for Lent. That is on top of the 5 pounds I am over my goal weight. Running 3-4 miles a day can't possibly overcome the pounds of sugar I am shoveling in so I have to do something drastic.

I'm going to need a lot of willpower, Easter candy is filling the stores and I haven't bought any. Once I do so I might start hearing that voice again, "robin eggs...yummy crackly candy... you know you want it..."
Oh, it didn't help that I dropped the glass shower door on my foot last night and my toenail is purple and swollen. I can't go running until it feels a little better.

Monday, March 03, 2008

actual and perceived reality

Last night I had a vivid dream in which one of the children spilled a box of gumballs across the living room floor. We cleaned them up, but found Timmy toddling with a piece of the candy in his mouth. In super slow-motion he tripped and fell onto his tummy with the gumball lodging itself in his windpipe. I saw him struggling and turning blue, at which point I suddenly awoke and shot blot upright in bed, "No!"

My mind could not escape the image of my precious baby dying in front of me so I closed my eyes and prayed, "Please, dear Lord, save my child, help me save my baby." In my imagination I wrapped my arms around his tummy and jerked upwards in time to see the imaginary gumball shoot across the room and roll under a chair. The reality of knowing that Timmy was sleeping soundly in his crib did not change my perception that he was in grave danger and needed to be rescued.

And so it is also the case when reading other mom's blogs. What is presented in a series of posts is not necessarily what is going on in that person's home and homeschool. Lately I have read more than a few blogs where everything is idyllic, the children are perfect angels who love to do math problems, chores are completed without grumbling or pay, they never buy kid's meals at fast food restaurants, the houses are constantly immaculate, and the mothers never raise their voice. Even Danielle Bean's blog throughout Lent has been exclusively syrupy sweet, "I love to snuggle my baby, isn't life grand?"

Now perhaps these folks do have Better Homes and Gardens homes and cheerful children who always do as they are told the FIRST time, but I doubt it. When I visit homeschoolers I notice that they too have toys all over the living room, that the art project from who knows when hasn't been cleaned up, and there are children squabbling in the backyard. My house is just about average in terms of organization of books and craft stuff, the floors have crumbs and goo despite sweeping and vacuuming daily, and there is always a huge pile of laundry to fold on my bed. My kids bicker and pick on each other, and I feel like I'm doing well if I don't tell them, "You are driving me to drink!" more than 3 times a day. (even though we don't have any booze in the house) I can't feed my family of 7 on $50 a week, posting arranged shots of my grocery haul and receipt totals. I don't think many of us can do most of these "super homeschool mom" stuff since posts about organizing, needing hired help, getting kids to do their chores, and simple exhaustion are the longest and most anguished discussions on bulletin boards. So, as you roam the internet, remember that what is perceived is not always reality and to keep gumballs out of your dreams.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

science outing

Yesterday I piled the two older kids in the car and we headed out to the 8th Annual Physics Demo Show, Energy All Around Us at UNC. I felt old and a little out-of-place as we hurried through campus, stepping around all the 20-somethings enjoying the spring weather. However, once inside the lecture hall I was back among regular folks, who oohed and aahed as we watched exciting applications involving types and conversion of energy. We watched the Vandergraph machine lift hair on end, make tin plates and Styrofoam peanuts fly through the air, and light up a fluorescent tube bulb so it looked exactly as a light saber in Star Wars. Will got to ride a homemade hovercraft, and we jumped when they lit a container of alcohol and air on fire. I certainly enjoyed and understood more about physics in that one hour than I ever did in my many high school and college science classes. Short events like this one are great opportunities to expose the kids to different interests with little effort or cost.