Report to the Principal’s Office.

Follow up: In my last post, I wrote about the fake fuzz vest that I was tempted to buy. Believe it or not it was worse in person than in the picture.

A friend read my post and offered to sell me her sheepskin rug from New Zealand. New Zealand? We’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies and we just learned about NZ in our world history class a few weeks ago. I bought it. I have it right here and it’s sitting across my lap keeping me toasty warm. It’s in pristine condition because she had to keep it draped over the back of her chair so that Basil wouldn’t pee on it.  Remember Basil, the farting dog that sat on my lap?  I’ll never forget Basil.  He kept me toasty warm when sitting on my lap, too. (Get it? Get it? All the hot air? Sorry.) Here’s the picture I took of him:

Basil Fawlty in his Sweater-small

Last week when we learned about the Islamic empire we wore turbans made out of scarves.  They were toasty warm, too.  This winter is going to be awesome what with my sheepskin rug wrapped around my legs and scarf turbans on my head.  Freezing cold misery of winter—I defy you!


Boy11. Yes, you read that right. He’s 11 now. Gulp. Growing up so fast.


So, sometimes people come up to me and say things like, “How can you even think homeschooling is a good idea?  Aren’t you afraid you’re ruining your kids?  What about socialization?”

Well…  Actually, no one has ever said anything of the sort to me.  Most people are either supportive or completely disinterested.  There was that time that Vince offered me sarcastic good luck (oh, that post was funny–you should read that one when you’re done this one–it was one of my better posts), but he later retracted his negative attitude toward our homeschooling and is actively trying to recruit me into becoming a school teacher.  I just smile and nod and think, “Never in a bazillion years, Buddy!”  I mean, they don’t let you stop teaching in the middle of school to play “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs do they?

Nope.  I’m pretty sure that’s not part of Common Core.  But last week, when we learned about the beginnings of the Frankish empire we read fairy tales by Perrault (a French guy).  One of the fairy tales he wrote was Little Red Riding Hood.  Gotta give the kids a well-rounded education, right?  Music is an important part of a well-rounded education, right?

(Side bar:  Did you hear that?  At the end of the song there is baaa-ing.  What an appropriate song to listen to while wearing my new sheepskin rug.)

There was also the guy who worked at Value City in the shoe department who grilled me for my reasons for homeschooling.  But he didn’t really care about homeschooling; he was clearly looking for ways to get out of having to do his work.  Seriously, how many shoes can you re-shelve before you’re desperate enough to stop strangers in the aisles and grill them about their educational choices for their kids?

But in case y’all were worried that my kids are missing out on the normal school experiences that the other kids get, I do have a bizarre story to share with you.  This happened last year, but I remembered it just the other day while listening to the local elementary school’s morning announcements.  Here’s what I mean:

We live about two blocks from the school as the crow flies.  If the wind is blowing right and our windows are open we can hear the children playing in the morning and at recess.  We can also hear the morning announcements, though usually they’re pretty garbled.

One day the wind was blowing right and our windows were open and we were on the side of the house nearest the school.  We could hear the pop sounds of the intercom turning on and then clearly:

“Anthony Doe, please report to the principal’s office.  Anthony Doe, report to the principal’s office.”

Wha…??  We know Anthony Doe!  He is one of Vince’s 42 children!  We looked at each other, and without any prompting from me, my children immediately chorused out, “OoooooOOOOO!”  It’s like some sort of Jungian collective unconscious knowledge passed through the DNA–you don’t ever have to have set foot in an elementary school to know that being called to the principal’s office over the intercom is Bad News.

As startlingly good luck would have it, Anthony was already set to visit us that evening.  As soon as he walked in the door we asked, “So, Anthony, why’dya  get called to the principal’s office today?”  You should have seen the kid’s face.  His eyes got big and he spluttered, “How..?  How…?”

We live in a small town, Anthony.  You can’t get away with anything in a small town.  And now when my homeschooled kids grow up, they can have the joy of looking back on their school days and remembering how they got to hassle their friend for being called to the principal’s office.  Oh, sweet memories of childhood.

How I Think I Look…How I Actually Look

I went clothes shopping today at the Gettysburg Outlets.

There I was, minding my own business walking past the stores, when I happened to glance in the window of one of those clothing stores for people in their teens and maybe their early twenties. I don’t even remember what the store was anymore, but I glanced in as I meandered by.

And there, beckoning, calling, frantically waving at me, was a gorgeous fluffy white vest.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  What an exquisite piece of cloth.  It looked like one of those sheepskin rugs that Ikea used to sell for people to put in front of their fireplaces and roll around on, naked.  Oh, come on, that’s the only reason people bought those rugs and you know it.  If you couldn’t provide evidence that you had a fireplace in your home they wouldn’t let you buy the rug.  I remember there was a big scandal because people were taking pictures of other people’s fireplaces and trying to pass them off as their own.  It was all over the news in the mid 90’s.

I had to touch the fluffy vest.  Had to.

I ventured in to the store with the music too loud and the spotty teenagers tagging along behind their parents and I felt that gorgeous vest.  It was soft.  It was fluffy.  It felt like a baby bunny.  And it was half off.

Half off!

I had to have it, teenager store or no.

As I walked through the store to the fitting room with my cheek lightly resting against the soft fur of the vest, I imagined how gorgeous I would look wearing my new bunny fur, sheepskin vest.

I would wear the vest and my hair would puff out in gentle waves.  My skin would be soft and smooth and I might even get an alabaster brow.  (Nod to fans of Anne Shirley.)  Darling Husband would take one look at me and fall even further under my womanly spell.  He would tell me how beautiful I am and coo love poems to me in Italian.  Well, maybe not coo.  I don’t suppose that men coo.  Well, whatever it is that manly men do, he would do.  Because Darling Husband is certainly a manly man, of course.  He wouldn’t be caught dead cooing.

And all this for half off the retail value!

This, this is how I would look:

Fluffy vest A

And then I tried it on.

Why, oh why did I even bother trying it on?  Why couldn’t I have stayed in that happy place where I was beautiful and desirable and 18 years old again?  No.  I had to go and try it on.

And when I did, I looked short and squat and every single second of my 40 years.  It didn’t help that Boy11 had a sleepover birthday party the night before and no one got much sleep.  The lines on my face and the bags under my eyes were deeper and baggier than ever.  The vest was supposed to be size small, but it fit on me about as well as a puffy vest from a men’s Big and Tall store would fit.

Basically, I looked like an Ewok wearing a tauntaun skin.  (Look it up  in wookieepedia if you need pictures.)

Here.  Here is what I actually looked like in that hideous fake fuzz vest:

Fluffy vest B

Not the svelte young thing of my imagination that could inspire men to give double takes and coo sweet nothings to me in Italian.  Nobody’s double taking, unless it’s the same double take you give the bearded lady at the circus.  I mean, seriously. Can you picture me showing up at church wearing that?  Or to Soup Day?  In a big old puff of fake fuzz?  For Christmas last year we got Boy8 a fluffy bathmat.  He loves fluffy bathmats.  This vest looks pretty much exactly like Boy8’s fluffy bathmat.

I scuttled out of the store, head down, past the teenagers and their parents and found a store for grownups.  I ended up buying three sensible button down shirts and a pair of jeans.

Huh.  Just realized I have a fireplace now.  I wonder whether Ikea still sells those sheepskin rugs?

You are a Stinky Sock and I am Mopey

It’s been a rough week.  For a number of years I had been helping someone with a problem they have.

Well, I thought I was helping.

I found out early last week that I wasn’t helping at all.  In fact, my help was being viewed as, “Look at me!  I know better than you do.  You should listen to me because I’m so wonderful and you’re just  an old stinky sock.”  That is most certainly not how I meant my help to come across.  I was crushed.  I’ve been finding corners to curl up in and cry all week long.  My poor, sore nose.

Then, a few days later when I was in a quiet mood, another friend made a passing inference that I was moping because I wasn’t in control and getting my own way.  What?  Really?  Is that how people view me?  That I mope around when I don’t get my own way?  Or worse—is that how I am?  Do I mope when I don’t get my own way?  Surely not.  And the thing is that I wasn’t thinking about “my own way” in the slightest bit at the time.  I was crushed.

It took me until today to find the right word for what I’m feeling.  It’s defeated.  I haven’t even brushed my hair at all today and you know I’m just vain enough that not brushing my hair is a sure indication of defeat.  But—please—don’t point out my vanity to me because that’ll tip me from defeated into despondent.  If you have a burning need to point out something about my flawed character, please wait until October when I’ve had time to recover.  October of 2033.

Eh.  I can still write The Blog.  You don’t think that every day last year when I wrote The Blog I was in a good mood, do you?  No way!  There were many days when I had spent the entire day staring pathetically out of windows and feeling sorry for myself, but I still managed to have a little fun with The Blog in the evening.

So, here goes.  Let’s talk about the last 3 Photo Club meetings.

Three Photo Clubs ago, I suggested we do some more light painting.  We’ve done it in the past, but our newest Photo Club member, Hannah, wasn’t in the group at that time, so it was time to play with it again.

Here was an early attempt:


Pretty pathetic, huh?

I kept trying different things, hoping to get some depth to my light.  Here’s a passable attempt at depth.


To take these pictures you need a completely dark room, somewhere to set your camera so it’s still (a tripod or table or something), flashlights, and a long exposure—maybe 15-30 seconds.

When you press the shutter release the camera will start taking the picture—and keep taking it for 15-30 seconds—however long you set it for.  Dash in front of the camera, turn on your flashlight, point it at the camera and squiggle it around.  After 15-30 seconds, the camera will stop taking the picture and all of your squiggles will be recorded onto one image.

It’s harder than it sounds.  I wasn’t happy with any of my pictures of squiggly depth, so I made some stick figures:



By the time we were done, all of us in the room were sweaty and exhausted.  At the end of the day, this is a good representation of how we all looked:


It’s also a good example of how I felt when I was told I think I’m better than everyone, that I’m controlling, and that I’m mopey when I don’t get my way.  Oh blah.  Feeling defeated again.  Let’s move on.

The next Photo Club was when the Chinese exchange students were visiting.  There would only be 3 Photo Club members at that meeting so I brought the students to Photo Club with me.  I suggested that we teach them how to frame pictures.  No one else at Photo Club was very keen on the idea, but (since I’m controlling, you know) I went ahead with my idea.  Hey—if someone else had a better idea, I’d have gone with it.  (Or maybe I’d have moped.  I really don’t know anymore.)

The language barrier wasn’t that big of a problem being that a picture is worth 1000 words.  I showed John how to take a good picture of his friends.  First a bad picture:


Far is bad.

Then a good picture:


Close is good.

See?  6 words, 2 pictures, and the point is made.  We also practiced taking food pictures.  Here’s a picture of Scott helping Elton with a food picture:


But the most recent Photo Club was the most fun.  Over the summer, we’ve been trying to come up with little projects to work on at Photo Club.  Since I’m controlling and always want my own way, I suggested that we take fruit pictures.  Fruit is pretty and it’s cheapest during the summer.  I had a vague idea of scattering blueberries on a table and taking close ups of them.

A day or two before our Fruit Day, I had another vague idea of making a little person out of raisins and having him climb a mountain of strawberries.  But when I made my raisin person he looked like a malformed ant.

At photoclub I tried re-making a person out of grapes and blueberries.  It worked! He was so handsome and the food was so pretty that I was inspired to take a series of pictures of Chester, the Grape Man.


What I did On my Summer Vacation

By Chester Grapeman

On my summer vacation, I did many things.  First, I went to Tanzania and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.  It was so cold in the snow that my face turned blue!


Next I went white water rafting on the Futaleufu River in Chile.  I fell in the water and almost drowned.  My head turned blue from lack of oxygen!


After that, we went to the state fair where we saw the World’s Largest Watermelon.  It was bigger than me!  I ate too much, though, and felt a little sick.  I got a little blue about the gills.


Then, there was a family reunion.  My cousins and I played a bit of football.  We didn’t wear helmets and I got all bruised up.   My head turned black and blue.  But I got a touchdown!


The last thing I did was head to Hollywood and see the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  I must have set the white balance wrong in my camera.  I look really blue in this picture, don’t I?  Huh.



Yes, I was lying in the dirt and gravel, with big ants crawling around, sweating, to take these pictures.  But it was worth it.  Chester was so appreciative.