Sunday, May 29, 2011

one last hurrah

Saturday morning the big girls and I woke at dark o'thirty and headed downtown to the Elizabeth River 10K Run. The lovely course goes through Olde Towne, the historic residential area of Portsmouth where I grew up, along the seawall with views of navy ships in drydock, and around Hospital Point with the oldest Navy hospital in the US (where both myself and my oldest child were born). It would have been more pleasant if the weather hadn't been quite so hot and steamy at 8:00am, but after watching the girls run their 1 mile run, I started out strong for the first 2 miles and slowed down for the next 2. But after I hit the 5 mile marker I knew that I could finish and despite having been passed all through the course, managed to place 2nd in my age group. All my running buddies assured me that placing in this race was a real accomplishment as it is one of the bigger 10Ks in the area.

I'm proud of myself not only for my speed, but for doing it while squeezing in packing, company for the weekend, and mentally prepping for the 14 hour drive we will undertake within the next 18 hours.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

our last day homeschooling in Virginia

Tomorrow I have a morning doctor's appointment and Tim informed the family last night at supper that we will be leaving for Maine at 0500 on Monday morning so we can escape at least some of the Memorial Day traffic. So today after we learn a little bit more, I am packing up the last of our schoolbooks, taking down the alphabet  and vowel posters, and steam cleaning the carpet. I'm leaving the vast majority of our supplies and books behind for the packers.

Tim was offered a position up in Maine and we are patiently awaiting his final set of orders. The bad news is that the job is just out of commuting distance from our farm, so we are going house-hunting next week. The good news is that the job is in Maine and we can adjust our flexible schooling schedule to accommodate short trips up to the farm every week, allowing us to be back on Sunday in time to attend one of the only 2 Traditional Latin Masses in the diocese. To say that I'm excited about being real full-time Mainers and not just "summer people" would be a gross understatement. To be able to have most of my furniture be able to stay in one place, and not have to make that long 14-15 hour drive twice a year is just a dream come true.     

So, farewell Virginia with your byzantine homeschooling laws, with your homeschool liason in the public school administration who doesn't know the law, with your selfish policies that take tax dollars and don't allow homeschoolers to participate in classes or sports. Hello to Maine with simple homeschooling requirements and an inclusion that will allow my children to run track and play soccer on the local school teams. Hello to a much more live-and-let-live attitude among most of the population. My roots will always be in Virginia, the first of my ancestors came to the state in 1618, but it has grown and become too crowded and too much of a nanny-state for my taste. I'm sure some of those long-dead relatives must be rolling in their graves, but my heart is in way up north in Maine.    

Monday, May 23, 2011

we survived the jam-packed weekend

There are many times in my life that if I had been given a heads-up, I would have done things differently. I wouldn't have dated until I met my husband, wouldn't have picked such an obscure major in college, and would have continued running competitively in college and afterwards. Luckily, I'm sure that I would have picked the same man to marry and would gladly welcome the children God has blessed me with.
But one thing I would have changed recently is I wouldn't have signed the girls up for dance this year. The teachers were fine and perhaps they learned something, but the hassle of parking a block away 3 afternoons a week, having the girls in a messy unprofessional studio, not being happy with one costume and dance selection, as well as having to sit through two 4 hour recitals (as well as the prior day's dress rehearsals) was not worth it.

The girls did fine in their numbers, but I think we will take a break from dance and focus on some other activities as well as exploring some new ones such as track and horseback riding. After all, I like watching kids run and horses don't care for hip-hop any more than I do.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

all homeschoolers are "green-ribbon" schools

( – Next year on Earth Day, the Obama administration plans to announce which U.S. schools have been selected as “Green Ribbon Schools,” a designation that will “honor” schools for “creating healthy and sustainable learning environments” and for “teaching environmental literacy.”The Green Ribbon Schools program was announced in late April, but details on how schools will be picked or what the honor entails have not been released.
Jo Ann Webb, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education, told that the program is still under development.
Webb said the program would recognize schools for “engaging students on environmental issues and producing environmentally literate students; increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy technologies; and creating healthy learning environments by addressing environmental issues in the schools.”
As soon as I heard about this while on my daily run listening to Rush, I thought that homeschoolers could inundate the Dept of Ed with applications. After all, homeschoolers use less carbon because they don't ride the bus or require mom to drive them to school, recycle their books and clothes, don't waste food at lunch, don't require massive buildings to house one aspect of their lives, and shut off the lights when they leave the classroom (plus school only takes 1/2 the time it does in public school). The savings in electricity and temperature control alone make every homeschooling family so environmentally friendly that the standard tree-hugger is "green" with envy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Tim thought it humorous that I wrote this response to this education article on American Thinker and used the wrong article, 'a' instead of 'an'. No one seemed to catch my grammatical error and since I only get about 30 minutes on the computer each day to check my mail, write a post, skim blogs, and read the news, I give myself a little slack.

"There are certain things that every person should know: basic arithmetic, reading comprehension, basic science and history, practical economics, and how to write a understandable paragraph. Most of these things can be accomplished by about age 12. What needs to happen is letting the floodgates open for innovation such as charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling; all without the double whammy of paying for the broken public system (75% of property taxes in our town go to the public school, it boggles my mind to think of how many more activities and lessons we could afford with that money) on top of paying for your own child's education. Some children won't go to college and don't need a college prep program, but they still need to be able to function and have enough learning so they can move up from dead-end service jobs if they become motivated past age 18.

Homeschooling is the best option right now, we have been doing it for 8 years and have seen much more acceptance among strangers than in years past, but it takes dedication and sacrifice, not something found among the vast majority of parents."                                                                                                   


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

chugging along

I'm amazed at how quickly the children's schoolwork is progressing. Maggie finished up English and religion yesterday and only has about a week left in math. Charlie, despite officially beginning 1st grade in January, starts the 3rd Faith and Family reader today and has about 8 days left in phonics and math, and finished religion, science, and history weeks ago. Mary has been down to spelling and Latin for at least a month, and Timmy only has about 3 pages left of his last preschool workbook. Will finished science and art for the year and is currently studying for his final religion and history tests.
That only leaves spelling to continue for everyone for many weeks to come, at least 3/4 of the Algebra 1/2 text for Will, and since he is now on the 3rd quarter book report, that leaves a whole quarter worth of work and yet another book report before he finishes up 7th grade. We will persevere and utilize our brand-new schoolroom on the farm, doing about an hour of school each morning before releasing them for fun and lessons. I'm in the process of scheduling summer activities and the list makes me a little dizzy: 6 children swimming, 4 sailing, 3 continuing piano lessons, 2 in riding lessons, 3 going to camp, and at least 1, perhaps 2 in the Hershey Track and Field meet in June.  Ideally all the activities would mesh so I don't have to drive 10 miles to swimming lessons on 5 different days, but I'm grateful we have the opportunity to get them involved, the resources to afford it, and the beautiful Maine scenery to enjoy while doing it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

4 miler results

This morning I had the easier job of getting out the door at 6:30am and driving up to Hampton to run, while Tim had to get all the kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door to have Will serve Mass at 9am. By the time I returned home he had 1/2 the laundry washed and folded, lunch in preparation, and the children's bed's made. He certainly isn't like some husbands I have heard wives complain about, either in his or my homemaking skills. I recall another Navy wife saying that every evening her husband would 'inspect' the apartment and if he found anything out of place or not clean would pitch a fit. I thought she had enough on her plate living overseas with 3 children under the age of 5, but he couldn't manage 2 for more than a day while she was in the hospital giving birth without calling on the neighbors for help. So, I'm grateful that I have such a giving husband who volunteers to haul children hither and yon for their activities as well as some of the household duties. 
So, while Tim was managing the kids, I ran 29:33, for a per mile pace of about 7:30. I placed 3rd overall and brought home a useful beer glass as my prize. My next race is the Elizabeth River Run 10K and then we have a bunch of short races in Maine to look forward to as well as a 10 miler that offers homemade jelly as prizes.        

Friday, May 13, 2011

clarification on the Traditional Latin Mass

Today the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae (UE) has been released. Father Z has a synopsis and discussion over what this means to those Catholics who are faithful to the TLM. I still don't know what would happen if I asked our local priest in Bangor, ME to offer the older form of the Mass, but am so grateful that the idea of female altar servers at the TLM has been put to rest (it happened last week in England), by this portion:

… Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

So, no altar girls, no communion in the hand, no extraordinary ministers at the Traditional Latin Mass. The Mass that has nourished thousands, perhaps millions of Saints, sustained those who brought Christ to heathen continents, encouraged those who brought loving care and education to those who needed it, and by its graces saved many more millions from hell will hopefully be more free than at any time in the past 40 years and will expand and bring many more souls to Our Lord's feast in Heaven.  

Monday, May 09, 2011

What happens when public schools run out of money

Public schools spend approximately $10,000 per pupil for staff salaries and retirement, books, food, gas money, equipment, supplies, etc. This does not include the money for the building  or the buses used to drive them to school. Parents pay private schools anywhere between $4000-$12,000 per child in addition to already paying property taxes for the public school system (Our town in Maine states that 75% of the annual tax we pay on our home goes to the local education budget). In contrast, homeschooling costs between almost nothing and $1000 per child (for a full enrollment school-in-a-box enrollment).

There is obviously a great deal of waste that can be cut from any public school budget, but what is the first idea suggested in Michigan (with 41% of the residents of Detroit now considered functionally illiterate) and California? Cut the school year with the result that children are not receiving even the basic 180 days of schooling.   It is increasingly obvious that the public school model is not functioning. Children are not being educated, the teachers unions are growing richer and more powerful, and the financial dam is about to break. What will it take for large numbers of parents to break free from the warehousing that is going on now? If they were offered freedom with their pocketbooks to choose their children's education enviroment then things would change in a big, fat hurry. Those in charge of the current system know it and are holding on for dear life for their own benefit. 

Teachers and parents throughout the region and state have grown accustomed to significant cutbacks in their public schools, increased demands for fundraising and threats to layoff faculty as California copes with its relentless fiscal crisis.

But schools could face a financial hit so severe in the coming school year that many may be shut down as many as six weeks early, under an extreme cost-cutting measure that was first suggested in January with little fanfare and has been gaining traction ever since.
That means children could be cut lose (sic) from school in April next year, just after Easter. Sign On San Diego

Thursday, May 05, 2011

an utter whirlwind

The next few weeks seem to be just a list of to-be-checked-off items: piano guild, ballet pictures, Scout crossover, a hospital procedure, a race, fundraisers, recitals, parties, the priest over for supper, and Will's confirmation. Even today, in which I put aside most of the schoolwork, I managed to fill my morning rushing downtown with a moaning Mary in the backseat. Luckily all I had to do was pass her off to Tim at the front door of the hospital, trusting that he can get her some meds for her apparent ear infection before her piano guild audition this afternoon. 

I'm almost glad to be able to take my mind off some of the big issues going on right now in our lives (I'll spill once I hear good or bad news for sure, right now it is just waiting), knowing that Mary's pain is not serious and she will quickly be put to rights with some antibiotics. When I look at the headlines I know that my problems are small potatoes compared with millions of others, so I shall thank God for the blessings I have and not be so upset about what I can not control.