Karma Strikes Again: I Was The Rotten Friend Today.

Mom came by and said, “I want to take the kids to GameStop to exchange some games.”   Woot!  One whole hour in the house All By Myself!   But then Mom said, “After GameStop, I’d like to take the boys to my house.”  Woot, woot!  Two whole hours in the house All By Myself!  And then she said, ““I’ll keep them late so you and Darling Husband can go out to dinner.”  Yippee!  Free Li’s Buffet for dinner with my ‘buy nine, get one free’ card.

Wanted a picture of the day at Li’s Buffet, but I’m getting tired of taking the same old shot of my food.  I’ve taken all the obvious pictures, like of the buffet table, Jin, light fixtures, etc.  What is something clever to take a picture of, that looks like a Chinese restaurant?

Here’s the picture I ended up taking:

I’m pointing the camera at a window with etchings on it, which is showing a reflection of Darling Husband and me and a second window.  I love how I got Darling Husband eating with the chopsticks with the bit of food on the end.

To get the shot, I had to stare down the guy who was sitting in front of one of the windows, blocking my shot, and wait for him to move.  “C’mon!  You want ice cream, you know you do!  Get up!

Once he was out of the way, I propped myself up on my leg on the chair, camera at the ready, teetering, looking like a loon, and waited for people at the buffet table to move out of the shot.  When they did: snap, snap, snap!  I’m very happy with the results.

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I brought a board game with me to the restaurant for Darling Husband and me to play.  I miss playing board games.  Unfortunately, even though I had two sets of visitors this weekend, we never got around to playing board games.  When I said, “Hey, let’s play a game!” they demurred and I didn’t press the issue.  I should have.  I am an only child, after all.  Only children are supposed to have amazing super-hero powers of self-centeredness, unmatched in people with siblings.  I should have used my super-hero powers to force them to my game-playing will.

At the restaurant, Darling Husband didn’t say anything about the board game, but sneakily distracted me by saying, “So…if you did get a new camera, what would you want to get?”  Oooo.  I get all shivery when he sweet talks me like that.  We spent a happy half hour looking up cameras on Stella (the iPad) and ran out of time for a game.

All in all, it was a lovely evening.  Until we got home.  At home, there was a message from Vince on the answering machine.  “Umm….we were supposed to meet tonight, but I guess you forgot.  I’m sitting outside your house right now, looking tragic and pathetic.  You probably found new friends, like last time, and forgot all about me.  It’s ok.  I’ll carry on.”  Cringe.  Ahhh!  Sorry, Vince!

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My Rotten Friend Insulted Me! On Purpose! To My Face!

I uploaded today’s pictures from the camera onto the computer so I could pick a Picture of the Day. After looking them over, I realized there wasn’t much material to work with.  Certainly not enough for an entire blog; a sentence or two at most.

“Darling Husband, what should I write about tonight?”
“Let me see your pictures.”

I showed him pictures of a cupcake, a cobweb strand, and friends at dinner.  He said, “Why don’t you write, ‘Started the day with good food and good friends and ended the day with good food and good friends,’” and I just about gaked up all that good food.

What an insipid blog post that would be.  Srsly!  Show of hands: who wants to read a sentimental blog about good food and good friends?  Wouldn’t you rather read a blog about rotten food and rotten friends?  Yes, I thought so.  Too bad I don’t have rotten friends. Maybe if I think really hard I can come up with something rotten that a friend did to me…

…thinking…

…thinking…

Ok—this is the most rotten thing I can come up with:

Three Septembers ago, I’d just started homeschooling Boy9 for first grade.  It was Boy9’s birthday party (he was Boy6 back then) and one of the other parents at the party is a teacher.  We were standing alone by the creek at the local park (the same creek the woman pulled a snake out of the other day), enjoying the weather and making small talk.  The topic of ‘kids starting school’ came up and I told this parent “I’ll be homeschooling Boy9 this year.”   He responded with a snort and said, “Yeah.  Good luck with that.”

Now, in my natural state I’m a big fat Pollyanna.  I always assume that everyone is being nice.  I do not understand people purposely being mean to each other.  By accident, yes, but on purpose? No.

For example, I’m an only child and when I hear stories about siblings getting each other in trouble on purpose, I don’t get that.  Why would you ever want to get someone in trouble?  That’s just mean.

And a couple of days ago, I saw an article that read something like, “Susie Q is rich, talented, and beautiful, but she’s so nice that it’s hard to hate her.”  Why would I want to hate her?  At most, I might sigh wistfully and wish I was like her, but hate her?  No.  Eww.  I don’t get that, either.

So, when someone insults me, I never even realize that I’ve been insulted.  I end up feeling sorry for the person because they must be socially awkward and their joke came out wrong. Because they were joking, right?  They wouldn’t be saying something mean, would they?  No!  I’ll give them a tender, pitying smile so that they’re not too embarrassed that no one got their awkward joke.

So when the parent snorted and said, “Yeah.  Good luck with that,”  I figured it was his socially awkward way of saying, “Teaching is hard and we need all the luck we can get!  Hang in there, fellow pseudo-teacher!”

And so I responded with a tender smile and a chipper, “Thanks!  You, too!”

It wasn’t until 3 days later when he called the house and said, “I’m sorry I insulted you at the party. I’m sure you’ll be a fine homeschooler,” that I realized he was being sarcastic when he wished me good luck.  I’d been insulted!  I was thrilled with the novelty of it and beamed for the rest of the day.  When all the other homeschoolers are telling their persecuted-homeschooler stories, I’ll finally have a story, too!

First homeschooling parent: “My in-laws are unsupportive of our homeschooling and hired a lawyer and sued us for custody of our children.”

Second homeschooling parent: “It was back in 1985 and the state laws were unclear about homeschooling, so I ended up being arrested because I wouldn’t put my kid in school.  I spent 2 months in the Big House.  See my scar from the shank?”

Me: “A teacher once snorted at me and wished me good luck in a sarcastic manner!”

Their jaws will drop and they’ll stare at me with big eyes, “What?!  How did you ever find the fortitude to continue?”  I’ll have the admiration of homeschoolers everywhere.  They’ll ask me to speak at homeschooling conventions.  I’ll write a book!

I forgave him for his comments and our families still get together at least once a month for dinner.  I even let him be a guest writer on my blog once.  And the other day, out of the blue, without any prompting, he said, “Your kids are doing really great with the homeschooling.”  It’s been more than three days, and he hasn’t called to apologize, so he must have meant it this time.  Aw, shucks.  Thanks, Vince!

So, I guess it’s not all that rotten of a story after all.

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Picture of the day:  Good friends, good food.

Claude, Kendra, Minestrone Soup, Salad, Garlic Bread...and Darling Husband

I’m Bad at Photography, The Guest Won’t Leave, and Where’s My Chocolate Pie?

Saturday.  Photo Club day.  Scott took a picture for us and our job was to recreate it as closely as possible: blurry background, placement of subject, lighting, etc.

Here is his original, brilliantly-gorgeous picture, unedited.

And here are my pitiful attempts at recreating it.

Blurry, too close to flowers, too tall.

Don’t take pictures of people when they’re blinking.

Or talking.

This was my best shot, unedited.  Not as good as Scott’s, but that’s because he refused to wear the earrings and mascara.

And here’s where Scott grabbed my camera, took a picture with it, and it looks better than my miserable attempts.

How?  How is it possible for him to take a picture on my camera, with my settings, and it looks better?  I checked the settings and they were the same, but the lighting looks better in Scott’s picture.  Rays from heaven shine down and angels sing when he’s the one taking the picture.  I’m not sure if he’s really impressive or really irritating.

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Scott; using a Nikon!  We had to dash it from his hands before the world imploded.  Y’all don’t know how close to Armageddon we came today.

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I still have a guest in the house, so I’m going to sign off now.  It’s rude to ignore your guests.  ‘Course, speaking of heaven and angels, Darling Husband is playing his guitar along to Stairway to Heaven, and the guest is talking on his phone, so I guess we’re all being rude together.

Where’s that chocolate pie the guest brought for dessert?

It’s Hard to Drive with Dried Pea Eyes, and If You Look Miserable Enough I Won’t Post Your Picture

This evening I went to the homeschool curriculum fair at the Frederick Fairgrounds in Maryland.  It’ll be there again tomorrow if you’re local and want to get your books without having to pay for shipping and handling.  I hope everyone made it home from the fair ok and that their eyes didn’t pop out halfway through their ride home.

There are four buildings filled with books, books, books.  Not just story books, but text books and teacher’s guides, and fossil samples, and microscopes, art supplies, and games.  The list is endless.

The walkways are scarcely maneuverable because of the crush of people all reading the books, assessing whether or not they want this book or that book.  My eyes are like little dried peas from all the reading, reading, reading as fast as I can so I can move out of the next person’s way.  No way can you stand in one spot and hog the books.  It’s like trying to see the Mona Lisa.  Every human on the planet wants to see the Mona Lisa, so you have to get in line and they zip you past so that everyone has a chance to get their glimpse.

I had already narrowed down what I wanted before I arrived, but even then, my eyes are all dried up from looking at all the stuff that was there.  And since it’s hard to drive with dried pea eyes, I’m hoping that everyone made it home safely.

While I was there, I bought some grammar curriculum that they use in Mennonite schools.  I know—Mennonite!  But those Mennonite know their grammar!  At their country fairs, I’m pretty sure that right after the hog chasing contests, they have sentence diagraming competitions.  The Mennonite who run the stand wear old fashioned clothing and are soft spoken and smile sweetly at you.  Don’t confuse them with Amish.  Mennonite people drive cars and use a bit of technology, but not as much as the rest of us, and the Amish don’t use any technology and certainly don’t drive cars.

I gathered my $70 worth of grammar books and went to pay, but they only accepted cash or check.  Check!  When’s the last time someone would take a check!?  No one wants your old checks anymore, because they’ll probably bounce.

I didn’t have enough cash or the checkbook with me.  Earlier in the day, when I was getting my backpack ready I had to decide: Clarisse or checkbook?  Clarisse won.

I told the man, “I’ll have to order the books later on the computer.”

He gave me an assessing look and said, “Well…you can just take the books and mail us a check later.  You’ll do that right?”

Well, yeah, but wow!  So trusting!  He took my address and gave me their address and let me wander off with $70 worth of grammar books.  Later I found an ATM machine that charged me $2.95 to withdraw money, and you better believe I paid the $2.95 and went back to the Mennonite guy and paid him for the books.  No way am I going to be the one to crush his faith in his fellow man (woman.)

That’s about everything I have to say about today.  While I was there, I bumped into a few people I know, so here are their pictures:

Emma and Shelley

This is Shelley and she’s my oldest friend.  I’ve known her since I was seven, so we’ve been friends for 32 years.  She’s about as close to family as I can get.  Instead of saying, “This is Shelley and she’s my oldest friend” let’s just say, “This is my cousin, Shelley.”  Because that’s what she is.

Becky and Heather

And here are Becky and Heather whom I met about five years ago when I started homeschooling.  I think these two are family, too.  They’re always together and having brunch and eating yummy food.  And I’m never invited!  Hrumph!  I’ll even eat the gluten free muffins if they invite me.

Heather owns a farm a couple of miles down the road from me.  Every year we go to her pumpkin patch and pick our own pumpkins.  It’s one of our favorite days of the year.

Becky started coming to Photo Club a couple of weeks ago and recently got roped into taking pictures of a wedding.  She posted the pictures on Facebook and then was horrified to discover that people started stealing her wedding pictures.  Watermark, Becky!  Watermark!

I and Kellie. Grammatically it should be 'Kellie and I" but since I'm on the left and we read from the left, I'm letting the grammar slide. Mennonites would never do that, but then again, Mennonites don't write blogs either.

This is Kellie whom I just met this year at the homeschool co-op.  I barely know her, but her son and my son are becoming fast friends, so we’ve set up a picnic in the near future, and I’ll be getting to know her more in the next few months, I’m sure.  (Her dad took the picture of us.)

I took a picture of one other person, but she looked so miserable that I was taking her picture that I’ll have mercy on her and not post it.

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Updated to add:  And a lizard was there, too!  You know I love lizards.  Here he is:

Psst! Wild Party on the Coffee Table Tonight–Bring Your Pinata Stick! and Farting Animals are Inspiring

Today was all about Cleaning The House.  I have a guest coming to visit on Saturday.  This guest has visited plenty of times before and has officially been bumped from “guest” to “friend who’s like family, so get your own drink” status.

And, apparently, once you’re in the “friend who’s like family, so can you pick up the oreos on the way over” status, I don’t have to clean for you, other than hiding the dirty dishes in the basement or somewhere.  Vince taught me this last Tuesday.  He popped over (with 27 of his kids) for his walk/bible study that he and Darling Husband are doing together, and tried to make his way into the kitchen.

If you recall, the dishwasher is broken and we’re too cheap to replace it.  We’re usually good about keeping up with the dishes.  Well, truth be told, Darling Husband is usually good about keeping up with the dishes.  Me, not so much.

But Darling Husband hadn’t done the dishes so there were all of Tuesday’s dishes plus Monday night’s dishes to be done when Vince tried to make his way into the kitchen.

Vince lives in a nice clean house and has a bit of OCD and I didn’t want to dismay him too much with my messy kitchen.  He might refuse to eat a dinner made in my messy kitchen ever again, so I told him, “No guests in the kitchen!”  He got a little miffed and said, “Guest?  I’m not a guest!  I’m a friend!

I ungraciously let him in and, thankfully, he was so involved in trying to convince Darling Husband to watch The Walking Dead that he didn’t even see the looming piles of dishes.   Darling Husband isn’t going to watch The Walking Dead, no matter how much Vince raves about the storyline.  He hates grisly movies/tv shows and threatened to tell Vince spoilers about Once Upon A Time, if he didn’t stop wah-wah-wahing about The Walking Dead.

Finally they left me in peace, and while they were on their walk, I washed those stupid dishes for 40 minutes and still had a teetering pile on the countertop left to do.  But after 40 minutes of dish washing, I was sick of dishes, so I started writing the blog instead.

Back to the point of the story:  after Vince’s offended reaction when I called him a guest and wouldn’t let him see the messy kitchen, I realized that I don’t need to clean for Saturday’s “friend who’s like family so can you drive me to the airport”.  In fact, if I clean, he might even get insulted like Vince did!  Oooo.  Smooth move, right?   The old, “I’d better not clean the house or my guest will get insulted” trick.  Boy, am I clever!

But then I remembered that the whole point for this “friend who’s like family, so can you help darling husband install a new chandelier”’s visit is to take pictures of my house so he can be a guest writer on the blog.  Dagnabbit.  I don’t want to jinx the guest writer deal.  As much as I like writing the blog, having a guest writer every now and then does give me a night off to watch Once Upon a Time with Darling Husband.  But all the picture taking means I’m stuck cleaning, even at the risk of offending my “friend who’s like family so can we borrow your car while ours is in the shop.”

I haven’t had a guest in a few weeks so the house has gotten messy, messy, messy.   Apparently, my possessions have wild parties at night and when we wake up in the morning, they have to freeze wherever they are.  Every room had little piles of things that belonged in all the other rooms.  I spent most of the day ferrying things back to where they belong and cleaning up mysterious piles of beer bottles and pinata fragments.

With all the mess, I needed recruits to help me.  I have only 19 more days of homeschooling and we can be done for the year, so I declared today a “Day Off From School But Don’t Get Too Excited Because We’re Going To Clean Instead” day.

The boys are horrible at cleaning.  I give them a job to do and they nod their heads like eager little puppies, and scamper off to do their jobs, but the next thing I know the chorlox wipes are hanging from the tips of one’s ears and he’s moaning like a mummy and chasing the other one around. Or they’re supposed to be folding the socks and underwear, but instead they’re putting the socks on their hands and the tighty-whiteys on their heads.

For some reason, they’re just not invested in the outcome of the cleaning.  Go figure.  No matter how many times I say, “Guys, if you just focus and get the job done, you’ll have a sense of satisfaction at a job well done and more free time to play,” they still can’t focus.  That last bit about “more free time to play” isn’t true, because they get a lot of playing done while they’re cleaning, what with the wipes on their ears and the undies on their heads.

Tried a new tactic and told them that if they proved to me that they were actually trying to help and attempting to focus, and if we got enough done by about 2:00, we could go out for donuts or ice cream.  They liked that idea, and they started off pretty good, but soon got distracted with beating each other over the head with the roll of paper towels.

So, I separated them and used some of Mary Poppins’ advice and played music while they worked.  Disney songs on Pandora.com.  The first song that popped up was from The Lion King, which they’ve never seen because the scene where the Daddy lion dies makes me cry.  It was the Hakuna Matada song about the farting warthog, and they were so thrilled about getting to hear songs about farting animals that they actually got their work done.

Donuts and ice cream for all!

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It’s impossible to think of The Lion King without including this Doctor Who clip.

There’s an Earwig in my Swimsuit

I think I’ll try to grow my hair long and lustrous.  Right now, it’s short and scraggly and is the shortest hair in the family.

The boys’ hair is long and lustrous.  Well, it’s long anyway.  It’s more scraggly than lustrous.  I’m not sure what’s up with Boy7, but every morning he wakes up with a Gordian knot on the back of his head and we have to use detangler to brush it out.  This is shameful for the boy, because the detangler comes in a pink bottle.  Pink = bad.

As much as they can’t stand pink and girly things, you’d think they wouldn’t want long hair.  But they’re unsocialized homeschoolers and they haven’t figured out that boys aren’t supposed to have long hair.

If I forced the issue, we could cut Boy7’s hair and he would look great, but I have to admit that Boy9 looks goofy with short hair.  One year, I buzz cut their hair in the spring.  Boy9 went first and he looked like a holocaust victim when I was through.  I lied and said, “It looks good…” but Boy7 took one look at Boy9 and burst into delighted laughter.  Boy9 burst into undelighted tears and ran from the room.  That was 2 years ago, and Boy9 hasn’t let me near his head since.

I wish hair could grow long overnight, like in the movie Stardust* where the pirate cuts the main guy’s hair and it gets longer as he cuts it.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give for magic like that!

Then again, I guess I wouldn’t give much, because on this side of the wall we call that sort of magic, “hair extensions” and I’m not about to pay for them.  Guess I’ll just have to grow my own hair.

Like homegrown tomatoes. Homegrown tomatoes are a thing of wonder.  I could grow some tomatoes.  The only problem is that gardening makes you sweaty and dirty and a bug always jumps on you.  Especially around here.

Last summer I dried some clothes on the clothes line outside.  I forgot about the clothes overnight so the next morning I went to bring them in.  They were covered in bugs.  Covered!  After the 5th bug, I couldn’t contain myself anymore and allowed the bottled up shriek to come rushing out, and asked Brave Darling Husband to bring in the rest of the clothes, after he inspected each piece.

And the year before that, I put our wet bathing suits on the back porch to dry.  Later, I picked up my suit, and there, stuck in the netting on the inside of the suit was a pincher bug.  A pincher bug!  You know: those bugs with the pincher things on them?  Sometimes they’re called earwigs, just to completely freak people out.  Earwigs?  How did they earn that name?  And what if I hadn’t found the bug and put on the bathing suit and then got pinched by earwigs?!  

Maybe I could pay someone else to grow tomatoes while I stay inside and write stories.  I could pay $20 as a gardener fee.  I’d buy the plants and any other supplies.  They’d have to grow them on their own property and water them and I could come by and pick them off whenever I want them.  Any takers?

Oh hey!  I guess I can talk about this today, since it happened at about 12:15 this morning.  There I was, getting ready for bed in the small bathroom, when what should I see clinging to the ceiling but another million legger.

Thankfully Brave Darling Husband was at home, so I hollered for him to come and rescue me.  We have an unspoken agreement that if it’s any other kind of bug, I deal with it on my own if Darling Husband is already in bed.  But not million leggers.  I turn into a blubbering wimpy girly-girl around million leggers and require his manly help.  With great patience, he dragged himself out of bed, caught the bug and only once pretended to trip on the hall carpet and lunge at me with the bug cup.

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The picture of the day is of Soup Day.  Every two weeks I get together with a group of friends for lunch.  We eat soup.

Soup Day

What I like about this picture is that Kris is looking at the camera, but you can see other people in the background.  In the kitchen someone’s getting a haircut, and in the mirror, someone is watching Kris get her picture taken.

Oh, and note the pretty flowers on the table.  B is getting her nurse practitioner’s degree while holding down a job and raising four kids.  In a show of support, her Darling Husband sent her the flowers at work.  It was a lovely gesture, but we were thinking that having a new pair of shoes sent to you at work might be even better.

B’s Darling Husband asked her what she wanted as a graduation gift and she sighed and said, “A new furnace.”  No, not really, but if you’ve seen A Christmas Story and remember the scene where the Dad wishes for a new furnace, then you’ll understand B’s tone when she said, “Blue paint on the dining room walls, and new dishes to match.”  Her Darling Husband said he was hoping to give her something more personal, but I say, “B’s Darling Husband, you get her that blue paint!”

Because that red paint makes the room too dark for good picture taking.

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*Stardust is one of my favorite movies.  Maybe even a top 10-er.

18 Cents Buys You Ramen Noodles, Dean’s A Radio Hog, and My Eyes Only Come with a Wide Angle Lens

Pretty mundane day today.  Mom took us out to lunch at Pizza Hut’s new location in Hanover.  After lunch, we stopped at the GameStop because Mom wanted to buy the boys a new Wii game for the Wii that she bought to entice children into her house.

Pizza Hut Lunch Buffet

Pre-Industrial Revolution, if you wanted to entice children into your home, you had to bake your entire house out of gingerbread.  We have it soooo easy nowadays.  In third world countries, they still have to bake their houses out of gingerbread.  I know.  It makes you think, huh?  The same way it makes you think when they tell you that if you make more than 18 cents a day, you’re one of the top 3 billion richest people in the world.  Really?  I’m one of the top 3 billion richest people?  Staggering!  I wonder if they take into account cost of living with those stats?   For example, in Botswana, $1.50 can buy you a house with a three car garage and your own personal shuttle to the moon, so that kind of deflates the whole, “I make more than 18 cents a day” guilt trip.

Back to my day:  Going to GameStop drives me a little nuts.  Everyone waffles.  “Let’s get this game.” “No, no! Let’s get this game!”  “But what about this one?”  It’s endless.  The boys waffle, Mom waffles.  I tell everyone, “Just pick one already,” but no one listens to me.   They waffle, waffle, waffle.

I can’t stand waffling.  I dumped a boyfriend because he waffled.  Yeah, he was also gay, but it was the waffling that did us in.  I just couldn’t stay with a man who waffled.  He was intelligent, hilarious, one of the flat-out nicest people you’ll ever meet and would swing dance with me in the living room.  But he waffled.  We were doomed.

I should have known he was gay.  The signs were all there.  For example, he loved show tunes.  I know it’s a cliché, but he did.   And his favorite movie at the time was The Little Mermaid.  We would watch it and sing along to all the songs.  His favorite song was “Part of your World”.

Come to think of it, at that same time I had a coworker named Dean who loved The Little Mermaid, too.  We carpooled to work a few times and he had The Little Mermaid soundtrack and would sing along to it, just like my boyfriend.  His favorite song was “Poor Unfortunate Souls.

Dean was a total radio hog and wouldn’t let me pick any of the music.  His second favorite song was Cher’s version of The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in his Kiss.)  He forced me to learn all the words so that I could sing along with him.  If I got it wrong he’d say petulantly, “No!  Do it again!” and start the song over.  He was the only one allowed to sing the lead and I was stuck singing the backup Shoop Shoop part and the questions, “Is it in his eyes?”  Then, he’d squinch up his face and shake his finger at me when he sang, “And you’re not listening to all I say…”  He was so obnoxious about it.

Wait…it just dawned on me!  The Little Mermaid?  Cher?  Oh my goodness!  Dean was gay, too!!

What were we talking about?

Oh yes: my day.  Well, nothing else much happened after GameStop.  The boys went to Mom’s House of Wii Games and Endless M&Ms and I went home to figure out what books I’ll need to buy for next year’s homeschooling.  For those in the area, the MACHE curriculum fair will be at the Frederick Fairgrounds this Friday night and Saturday.  No shipping and handling if you buy them at the fair.

Just don’t let me catch you waffling over which math curriculum to buy.

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You know you take too many pictures when you’re trying to read small print on a book cover across the room and you reach up to adjust the zoom on your eyes.