Dirty Teeth, Hell is Cold, and Kittens

So, it’s a Tuesday afternoon at 3:11. My kitchen hasn’t been cleaned in 3 days so it looks like I haven’t touched it in 71 years. Kitchens are the Lamborghini of rooms. 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. Sparkling clean to health hazard before your last bite of Cap’n Crunch at breakfast.

So, it’s a Tuesday afternoon at 3:11 and I’m elbows deep in the freezer. If you know me then you know I’m completely miserable. Freezers are cold. You ever watched Scrooge? Not Scrooged. Just Scrooge. It’s a version of A Christmas Carol. During the Ghost of Christmas Future scenes we find out that Scrooge dies next Christmas. The movie shows Scrooge dead in hell being forced to work like Bob Cratchit in a freezing cold room. Freezing cold for eternity? That’s hell, people.

So, it’s a Tuesday afternoon at 3:11 and I’m elbows deep in hell the freezer and the phone rings. Well now I’m not only cold and miserable but I’m also annoyed because I hate talking on the phone. Send me a text message. I will not return your calls. I won’t. Stop trying to make me. I paused to listen as the answering machine picked up the call just in case it was important.

“Hi, I’m calling from Dr. Rodger’s office…”

Eyes fly wide open, lunge for the phone scattering frozen hamburger patties all over the kitchen floor.

The dentist! The boys had dental appointments at 3:00.

So, it’s a Tuesday afternoon at 3:12 and we’re flying down the road dodging the elementary school kids on their way home from school. Get out of the way! And that’s when I remember that I left all my frozen hamburger patties scattered all over the kitchen floor. ARGH.

Drop kids at the dentist, head back home to stuff everything back in the freezer, head back to the dentist.

But hey–the reason I forgot the dentist today is because we unexpectedly took the day off from school to go get a new kitten. Two hour round trip. Totally forgot about mundane things like dental appointments.

I’ll be doing a newborn kitty photo shoot soon so you can see him.


Why do we have to learn this stuff? When will we ever use it?

Huge tactical error on Boy11’s part.  Huge.

Boy11’s usual grammar assignments are for him to read sentences and then diagram them.  But yesterday under the Challenge section in his grammar book he was given the assignment to compose four sentences and then diagram them.  Ok, no biggie until you get to the end of the instructions.  You must compose sentences to be diagrammed and the sentences must include…are you ready for this?  no, really…are you ready?  The sentences must include direct objects, compound indirect objects, predicate nominatives, and predicate adjectives.

Boy11 sat there miserably for our 40 minute grammar class staring at the paper and not actually doing any of the work.  This mean that he would have to do it after dinner for Homework.  Nooooooo!  Homeschoolers aren’t supposed to have homework!  What is the world coming to?  It was like Charlie Brown having to read War and Peace on his Christmas vacation. I mean, homework involving “predicate nominatives”? Was this assignment even real?  Does anyone even know what a predicate nominative even is?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Darling Husband loves grammar and loved diagramming sentences in school.  Today, when Boy11 was given the task of diagramming 14 (14!) sentences he asked Darling Husband to help him if he got stuck.  Darling Husband was delighted to be asked: he always loved diagramming after all.  There Darling Husband was, home due to a snow day and merrily ironing our air-dried wrinkled clothes, and he was asked to diagram sentences.  What a happy day!  He assured me from the next room, “I can help Boy11 diagram his sentences.”

With a concerned frown I hollered back, “Um…are you sure?  Do you remember how to diagram an indirect object?  Or a predicate nominative?”  Shifty-eyed silence from the room beyond and then, “Uh….Boy11, ask your mother for help.”

Anyway, back to yesterday’s assignment.  After dinner he managed to write the sentences and diagram them and they were mostly right  But look at what he handed in:

Sloppy work

Are you kidding me? What a mess!  As Miss Shields would say, “Margins, margins, margins–F!”

This morning I looked it over, checked the work, and then told him to re-write it, but this time to actually follow the rules of basic sentence structure, like, ahem, starting each sentence with a capital letter and ending it with a punctuation mark.  Yes, there was a touch of exasperation in my voice when I told him to re-write it following the rules.   I mean, he totally knows better.

So he re-wrote the assignment:

Neat work

Do you see how beautiful that is?  He has never, ever turned in anything this beautiful.

And that’s the tactical error.  He set the bar too high.  It’s not like I’m going to ignore this.  I am the same mother, after all, who made him write sentences with compound indirect objects in the first place.  You think I’m going to let him get away with sloppy work ever again?

Poor, poor Boy11.


Why in the world would I make Boy11 diagram sentences and learn what predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives and all the rest are?

Because one day he might want to be a history teacher in the state of New York.  In order to be a history teacher in the state of New York you have to pass a certification test.  On that test you have to read passages by our Founding Fathers and then write an essay based on the passages.  The passages are something like this:


Those are the practice passages New York gives to you.  The practice assignment is to write an essay explaining what government actions these two men would support based on the passages you read.

I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised at how many people who are looking to me for help on this sort of essay are completely miserable over trying to decipher these passages.  They tell me, “I tried to write my essay, but I can’t figure out what these guys are even saying.”

This type of English isn’t esasy, but if you can sort through which words are modifying which words and who or what the direct object is, you can understand these essays without too much effort.

Boy11 may never becomes a history teacher in New York or an early American historian, but the exercises are still good for his brain.  That’s why we do it.

You want to be a brain surgeon? Can you even spell brain surgeon?

News alert!  There are rules for spelling in English!  Who knew?!  It all seemed so random and inexplicable.  Well, it is random and inexplicable but not as random and inexplicable as I thought.  You can learn a lot if you go back to a 3rd grade spelling classes.

I should know.  Boy8 and I just spent about 57 hours straight on a single spelling lesson.  It was the longest spelling lesson in the history of spelling lessons and Boy8 and I are one second away from having our heads pop off from the sheer frustration of the lesson.  At least we now know why there are two p’s in apple.  Why couldn’t we have been born somewhere with a reasonable language like in Rome where they speak pig latin and you know how each word ends?  Eesh-shay.

And don’t even get me started on our piano lessons.  After 3 months of fruitlessly trying to explain to Boy8 how the lines and spaces on sheet music tell us the names of the notes, he finally told me, “Apparently I’m not a good boy, because I’m not doing fine.”

Every Good Boy Does Fine is a mnemonic to help you remember the names of the notes.  Mnemonic?  What the heck kind of spelling is mnemonic??  Oh, save me from the spelling lesson where we learn how to spell mnemonic.  And when did I ever say I wanted to grow up and be a teacher? I don’t remember ever saying that.  How did I end up spending 7 hours every single day teaching?

Here are all the things I’ve ever wanted to be:

1.  A clerk in a dollar store.  Yes, a dollar store.  I like dollar stores.

2.  A maintenance guy, because don’t you think you’d have a lot of job satisfaction as a maintenance guy?

3.  A truck driver.  Tooting the horn.  Bullying your way into the next lane.  Sleeping in the little alcove above your seat.  What a great life.

4.  A brain surgeon.  That was a short-lived desire and I read too many novels to be a brain surgeon.  When Barbetta was getting her Nurse Practitioner degree, she didn’t read a novel for three years due to all the studying she had to do. Yuck! I could never do that. Brain surgeon is off the list.

5.  A librarian.  Ah.  A librarian.  Who doesn’t want to be a librarian?  I never understood why Clarence was so distressed when he told George, “She’s just about to close up the library!”  Sounds like Mary made out pretty well whether George lived or not.  Lucky Mary.


Here is why there are two p’s in apple:

First, let’s look at the word with one p:


If there is only one p the word is Aaaay-ple and not Aaaaaa-ple.

But why?

It has to do with syllables.

First.  Split the word aple into syllables.  Whenever a word ends with a consonant-le, the consonant-le is its own syllable.  So we know to split the word at a/ple.

Ok.  We know how to say the “-ple” part.

But the “a” left all alone is an open syllable.  There is no consonant closing it–the vowel just dangles there.  There are rules about open syllables.  A vowel in an open syllable has the long sound.  It sound like it’s name when you recite the alphabet.

Think of hotel vs hot.

In ho/tel the “ho” is an open syllable.  There is no consonant closing up the vowel, so the vowel is long.  O.

But in hot, that’s just one syllable.  Hot.  It’s a closed syllable.  There is a consonant closing up the syllable.  So, now the vowel is short.  Hot.

Same thing with aple.  A/ple.  The A is open.  It says its name.  Ay/ple.

In order to close up that syllable without changing the sound of the word, you add another P.  Ap/ple.  Now the first syllable is closed and can make the short vowel sound.

Eight-year-olds don’t follow this sort of logic very well.  They get bored and start falling off their chair and doodling on their paper.

You can see why our heads just about popped off.

No Gym Class for Homeschoolers

I didn’t get to be a gym teacher today.  Oh, rats.  I had my whistle ready by the door and was going to wear my jaunty sport clothes and everything.  I might even have put my hair in a pony tail.

I was supposed to teach gym at the homeschool co-op today, but those homeschoolers have an aversion to leaving the house to go to school, and they decided to cancel the entire co-op.  It was just a little freezing rain, people!  No need to stay snug in bed until 8 and then eat a lovely breakfast of cream of wheat instead of scraping an inch of ice off the windows and sliding down the road….wait.  Today sounds like the perfect day to stay snug in bed until 8 eating cream of wheat for breakfast!  Those homeschoolers are genius!

And we need a gym class.  The kids needed to learn a few of the basics.  Last year when we started the class the gym teacher had the kids count off 1, 2, 1, 2, etc. and then told all the 1s to go here and the 2s to go there.  The kids were all confused and ended up in a big jumble.  Most of them forgot their numbers.  They didn’t know who was supposed to go where.  There were 40 kids on one team and 10 on the other.  Guess counting off to make teams isn’t something we’re born knowing, like knowing how to build a nest or knowing how to swim upriver to our spawning place.

Sometimes people ask homeschoolers odd little questions like, “But if you homeschool, how will your kids know how to stand in line?”  Yes, that’s a real question people love to ask.  Homeschoolers are a little baffled by this question, but I suppose they mean, “How will they learn the self-control to stand still facing one direction without dancing about or shoving the people around them?”

Eh.  I think that they’ll figure it out when they’re kicked out of the DMV for dancing about and shoving people.  If that happens to you even one time, you’ve got that lesson down pat.  No need for 12 years of standing in line to learn that one.  Lesson learned in a single day!

Just today, after Boy8 was totally irritating the heck out of Boy11, I told them, “You know, homeschoolers get asked this question a LOT:  ‘But if you don’t send your children to school, how will they learn to deal with difficult people?'”

Boy11 gave a loud snort and knocked his brother off the couch.  I guess that’s how.

Ok, I have no idea where this post is going.  I’m mostly making things up now, so I need to stop.  I’m heading out (in the freezing rain) to my 4th celebratory birthday dinner out.  Birthdays are great.  Everyone should have one at least once a year.

Medieval Thugs

Guess I’m not being as subtle as I thought.  Remember this post from a couple of days ago:


Just thought you all should know that I’ve been watching lots and lots of Breaking Bad (yo).  Like 2 seasons in 3 days (yo.)

Why am I telling you this, (yo)?

So that you know that I end every sentence with yo now (yo). No, I don’t say it out loud because that would be goofy(yo.)  I’m too old for that and the wrong gender (yo).  It’s only in my mind (yo.) If I’m talking to you, just know that there’s an unspoken yo in there somewhere (yo.)


So, today was the first full day back to school after our Christmas break.  There we were standing on the steps adding information to our timeline.  We have a huge timeline stapled to the wall that goes from the beginning of time until 2025.  Golly, you ought to see the stuff going on in 2018, but I don’t want to spoil it for you so I won’t tell you about it.

Anyway, so there we were on the stairs and I was giving them a quick review of the stuff we’ve been learning between the years 1000-1100.  Boy8 was listening to me like normal and then he turned his head a little quizzically.  The longer I talked the more quizzical he looked and the more his lips twitched until finally he burst into laughter and said, “Why is everyone saying ‘yo’?”

Apparently without realizing it there was a lot of yo-ing going on from my historical characters.  Like,

“And then in 1066, this dude, Harold, who wasn’t related to the dead king tried to become the next king of England and William the Conqueror down in Normandy was all-like, “Yo!  I’m the king’s long-distant cousin!  I’m gonna be the king!”  And he was like all ready to fight and won the Battle of Hastings through sheer grit and became king.

Later the Emperor of Constantinople was like, “Yo, pope!  We need some help over here defending our city!”  And the pope got to thinking and decided to ask everyone for help–not for Constantinople, but to take over Jerusalem.  He was like, “Yo!  All the knights in Europe, come over here and take over Jerusalem for me!”  And they were like, “Yo!  Let’s go!”

Apparently people in medieval times talked like a bunch of drug dealing thugs.  Well, come to think about it, they were drug dealing thugs, just without the drug dealing part.

10 Random Facts About Myself

Here is a list of 10 random facts about myself that I wrote because I’m bored from lesson planning all day and need a break.  Here they are in no particular order:

1.  I steal chocolate from my children.

2.  No matter how much I try to drum it up, I feel no guilt about stealing chocolate from my children.

3.  I will never, ever be someone who likes to do projects around the house.

4.  When I’m done home educating the children I will get a paying job for sole purpose of being able to eat out every single night.

5.  I wish I had a billion dollars.

6.  I am unwilling to wear uncomfortable shoes.

7.  It’s always funny when someone says, “Look at me!  I’m so-and-so,” and then does an impression of so-and-so.

8. I’m finally old enough that when I hear of old or sick people saying, “I’m ready to go” in regards to dying, I can understand it.  I’m not ready myself yet but I can see how it can be possible to be ready.

9. I wish it was 80 degrees with moderate humidity every day of the year

10.God made me to be born in 1972 so that I could live through the invention of hair glue and thus be able to fully appreciate that hair glue makes life worth living (yo).

Colleges Close in the Snow but Homeschools Do Not

It snowed last night.  Darling Husband works at a college teaching meteorology.  Is there anything better than being a teacher of meteorology at a college?  Nope.  Nothing.

Darling Husband loves the weather.

Let me start over: Darling Husband is endlessly, hopelessly, helplessly enamored with the weather. It’s a love born from countless late nights riveted to obscure weather websites known to only those who are pure of heart, valiant in battle, and have undertaken many brave quests that involve much “talking about the weather.”  (Sorry, just got done reading a chapter from a King Arthur book to the boys.*)

Not only do snow events make Darling Husband’s heart sing, but he works at a college.  A college! Guess what colleges do in the snow?  They shut down!  Yes!  Darling Husband and the boys are out right now shoveling snow.  He couldn’t be any happier than he is right now: no work, shoveling snow.  This is the dream life for a weather lover.

Hang on…the boys are out shoveling snow?  Shouldn’t they be in school?  Oh yes, the dread truth of homeschool is that there is no such thing as a snow day.  The boys made a valiant effort at showing me how slippery the hardwood floor conditions were in the hallway this morning and there was no way they could possibly gain access to the school room.  It was almost convincing.  And then yesterday Boy11 had to get some medicine for a cough that Won’t Go Away**,and lo! he found a note from the doctor this morning.  See:


Inside was this prescription for the cure:


Wow!  I’d better set up that tv right away!  Gotta get the child curard.  Don’t want him to stay contagous.

But I’m going to squeeze in a spelling lesson beforehand.  And maybe some penmanship.  Cursive for sure.  And typing would help his case most of all.  There’s spell-check when you type, you know.


*The Story of King Arthur and his Knights by Howard Pyle

**Shoveling snow with a cough?  We were hoping the cold air would help.  Sometimes it does.