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!

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

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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.

Homeschool, Spanish Inquisition Style

Boy10 went to Karate Day Camp this week.

Whose idea was it to give the kids karate lessons anyway?  That was probably the dumbest parenting decision we’ve ever made.   The benefit of children being smaller than you is that you can fling them around and pin them down and tickle them.

But now, because of dumb old karate, they can defend themselves.  Now when I try to tickle them all I get for my trouble is a poke in the kneecap.

Pennsylvania homeschool laws state that we have to teach our kids physiology, which is:

phys·i·ol·o·gy

/ˌfizēˈäləjē/

  1. The branch of biology that deals with the normal functions of living organisms and their parts.
  2. The way in which a living organism or bodily part functions.

As part of my end of year portfolio I’m going to include a video of the kids demonstrating their knowledge of physiology.  They could show exactly how body parts function when you bend back a person’s finger or poke your fingertips between their ribs.  Karate teaches physiology, Spanish Inquisition style.  Did you know it takes the same amount of pressure to snap a person’s finger as it takes to snap a carrot in half?  I’m sure that knowing how much pressure it takes to snap a person’s finger is not what they meant when they wrote “must learn physiology” into homeschool law.

Or maybe it was.  I’ve told you before that they close the schools on the first day of hunting season and I personally know children who have driven tractors to school on Drive Your Tractor to School Day.

Back to karate camp.

Boy8 didn’t want to go to karate camp so I took him to visit with a new friend while Boy10 was at camp.

And oh, the stress.

Friend8’s mom invited me to stay while the boys played since we don’t know each other.  The problem? Friend8’s mom is sweet.  Truly sweet.  Not fake out your coworkers sweet to aggravate Mike, but a genuinely gentle soul.  And, oh, the pressure!  Boy8 really likes her son and I didn’t want her pegging me as a Bad Influence, so we had to be on our best behavior.  It was rough, people.  I was afraid that at any moment I’d temporarily lose control and bark out a disgusting snot joke and that would be the end of the friendship.  I was exhausted by the time I got home and had to lie down and play Candy Crush on the ipad.

And what made it worse was that Friend8’s mom is clean.  Noooo!  Not both sweet and clean.  Her sweetness compounded with her cleanliness was Stressing Me Out.  I’m going to show you why but if you are easily frightened you should stop reading now and most certainly do not scroll down to the picture.

You’ve seen blog posts in the past making fun of my dust, but you’ve never, and I mean you’ve never, seen dust like this.  This is dust to make one’s mother proud. This is the sort of dust that is so thick you can pick it up with chopsticks and put into glass cases to show as a Wonder of the World in the local traveling circus.

The other day I moved a long row of books that have been on top of a bookcase for a number of years, well above my eye level.  I don’t dust anything above my eye level so the dust has been accumulating, as dust does.

But this dust was different.  This went well beyond your normal dust accumulation into something spectacular.  There comes a tipping point when the sheer volume of dust brings a tear to your eye, and not just because of all the pollen.

Here it is:

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On that first The Magic of Oz book, you can see that there’s something stamped on the pages but it fades away into the murky depths of the dust and you can’t make out all the words.

Here’s another part of the stack at different angle with different lighting.  It’s slightly blurry.  It’s hard to focus on dust.

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So, there I was in my new friend’s house and it’s spotless.  Just neat as a pin.  And she apologized for the mess.  Why do neat as a pin people always apologize for the mess when there is none?  Neat people have super laser vision, because I never see all the dirt they see.  All I could think about was my lovely dust and how proud I am of it and how sorry I was for her that she didn’t have a dust collection like I do.

And no, I didn’t keep the dust.  I took the books outside and used the leaf blower to clean them off.

Death From Too Much Vigor, Hiding My Obsession, and Everybody Needs a School Uniform

I woke this morning to the whispers of concerned children outside my bedroom door.  Apparently, there was a million legger running around in the dining room.  From the children’s report, it was like a wild bull in a rodeo.  They didn’t want to get gored, so they were using their binoculars to keep track of its whereabouts from the safety of the living room.

Fortunately, Darling Husband has off on Fridays in the summer, so I didn’t have to avoid the dining room for the entire day.  By the time Darling Husband slumped out of bed to catch the million legger, it was just lying there, playing dead.  Or maybe it was dead.  The boys insisted it had been running with great vigor only moments before.  Maybe too much vigor, right on the heels of too many double cheeseburgers, did the poor thing in.  I’ve heard that high cholesterol and obesity are becoming critical issues here in America.

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I was going to spend the day putting away last year’s homeschooling papers.  But then look at what happened:


Ahhh!  Friends with pools.  The boys made a new friend at the homeschool co-op this past year.  I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with his mom, but she called this morning and invited us to join them in their pool.

We spent the day lazing around on floating tube things.  I had elaborate plans of getting pictures while I was floating around the pool.  I had all sorts of ideas.  There was an old picturesque shed at one end of the pool with a bright red birdhouse on it and I wanted to get pictures of it from the pool.  Or another idea was to get pictures near water level of the kids at the other end.   But Alex has a fear of water.  He can’t swim.  Poor thing would sink right to the bottom.

Plus, in order to create my pictures, I’d have to involve the help of this mom to pull me all around the pool in the floaty tube thing and hold it steady.  Since I don’t know her too well, I didn’t want to creep her out with my photography obsession.  Not just yet, anyway.  Right now when I’m with her, I downplay all the picture taking I do.  But just give me a little time, and she won’t even bat an eye:  “Pull me back a little.  Now, hold the float steady while I frame this shot…Pull me to the other end now…Get me a glass of iced tea while you’re at it.  Extra ice.”

—————

Just before sitting down to write this, I spent an hour assessing an essay.  This essay was on the topic, “Should school uniforms be mandatory?”  By the time I’ve pulled apart someone’s essay for an hour, I’m pretty convinced of their point of view.  Yes!  School uniforms are crucial to our success as a nation, nay, to the very survival of the human race!   I’m a homeschooler, so I have a school, right?  So, we need uniforms!  I don’t want the other students bullying my kids because of their clothes.

Actually, come to think of it we already have a uniform.  I’ve mentioned it in the past:  pajamas.  I’m telling you people, homeschoolers have the best schools;  gym at the skating rink, and pajamas for uniforms.

Police Station

Took the kids on a field trip to the police station with the homeschool group we belong to.

What I like about this picture is that the police officer is holding his hands in almost the exact same way that Abraham Lincoln is in the picture behind him.

Here’s another picture of the kids listening to the police officer.  Apparently this is the part where he was telling them about bloody murders judging by The Boy’s face.  I must have missed that part. (Click on the picture to see the horrified expression in more detail.)

The police officer may have had a speech prepared for us, but he didn’t deliver it.  Instead he let us ask questions.  Fortunately we had enough questions to last the full hour.  Questions like, “How many guns do you carry?”  “Do you have guns in the cars?”  “How many bullets are in the guns?”  “When do you get to pull out your guns?”  “What other weapons do you have?”  “Do you get into fistfights?”  “What do you do when jewel thieves crawl into windows?”  (Playing too many violent video games, huh, junior?)

Now, maybe these seem to be valid questions…until you realize that this is the Gettysburg police force.  Gettysburg, people!  From 12 a.m. until 8 a.m. there are only six police officers on duty in the entire county!  There’s a murder every 10 years.  10 years!  The last one was in 2009.

But Gettysburg is a tourist destination.  Surely a few of the 3 million tourists cause trouble?

Yeah, it’s a tourist destination…for historians.  Well…I guess historians can get rowdy, just like anybody else.

The top three complaints to the police department are, in no particular order:

1.  Not enough parking.

2.  The horse-drawn carriages are blocking the road.

3.  Too many people are taking ghost tours at the same time.

I love living here.

Star Trek quote of the day:  I’m not a magician, Spock.  Just an old country doctor.

Red Shirt death toll: 1