The impromptu math quiz.

It doesn’t happen all the time.  It doesn’t even happen often.  But it happens enough for me to hate it: the impromptu math quiz given to my children by complete strangers once they learn we homeschool.

This time it happened while we were on vacation.

While stopped at a booth to make some purchases someone asks my oldest daughter what grades she’s in.  Trinity pauses and looks to me for some guidance.

Grades are tricky when you’re homeschooled.  Maybe you’re in a fifth grade math book but you read eighth grade literature.  You’re learning a foreign language and typing, which are typically high school subjects, but you’re only eleven years old.  Grades are complicated.

Trinity, never particularly bold in the company of strangers, takes a deep breath and answers, “I think fifth grade.”

The lady behind the table raises her eyebrows and glances at me, “She doesn’t know what grade she’s in?”

I smile politely and reply, “We’re homeschooled,” hoping to move things along.

The lady’s eyebrows rise even higher and that’s when I can see what’s coming.

“Well.” The woman focuses on my daughter, who has been distracted by the dozens of people passing by her.  “These are two dollars each,” barks the woman.  “If your mom buys four and then gives me ten dollars, how much change should I give her back?”

Trinity looks fearfully at the woman giving out the impromptu math quiz.  She hadn’t been listening closely.  Add to that her natural aversion to math and her shyness around strange adults.  “I’m…I’m sorry…what?” my daughter stammers out timidly.

The woman behind the table looks gratified that her preconceived notions have been proven to her satisfaction.  She looks at me and arches one eyebrow, “She doesn’t know the answer!”

I really hate that woman’s eyebrows.  I am filled with a strong urge to hit her over the head with my newly purchased bag of produce until the smug look leaves her face.

I want to explain to this woman that my daughter is actually quite bright: that I am a good teacher.  That if Trinity was in a quiet place and wasn’t rushed, she would answer the question correctly.  Story problems?  Ha!  We eat story problems for breakfast at my house.  (Sometimes quite literally- pancakes and syrup really help with math.)

But this woman doesn’t want to listen to me, she only wants to be right.  Worst of all, if I make a big deal of it and push the issue, my daughter will feel like a failure.  Right now she merely thinks this math obsessed woman is crazy.  If I engage her, I give her credibility.

So I fake smile, with my lips only, and say, “She didn’t hear the question correctly.”

And then I shepherd my little family away, with my arm around my daughter’s shoulders.

(Just Write.)

Posted in Homeschooling | 7 Comments

My weekend verbs.

This weekend I’ve been feeling:

Delighted at the chance of 50% off jellybeans at the supermarkets on Monday.

Refreshed after a delicious Easter dinner with family and friends.

Relieved that the husband did most of the clean up from the aforementioned Easter dinner.

Proud that thirty small heirloom tomato seeds have all sprouted in their individual pots under the grow-lights assembled in my living room.

Inundated by the Frozen soundtrack that my youngest child got from the Easter Bunny.  All day long I find myself singing, “Do you want to build a snowman?”  My son remarked sadly, “I remember a time before the movie Frozen took over our lives.”  I, however, cannot.

Amazed at the tiny asparagus plants that are emerging from their garden bed, despite the harsh winter, the over-zealous mole that attacked them, and a late frost.

Exhausted by the very loud and incessant snoring of my cat who refuses to sleep anywhere except in my bed.

Entertained by the chickens’ love of dandelions that my six year old has fostered by picking every weed in a three house radius.

Mystified that April is almost over.  May is practically at the door- where has this year gone?

Pleased with the fact that in the past week I have made three freezer meals by simply doubling what I’m making for supper and then wrapping the second meal in miles of plastic wrap.  (Miles and miles of plastic wrap.) I have finally discovered freezer meal cooking that I can actually do.

Disappointed that I gobbled up the latest in a book series I love.  Instead of stretching out the reading to make the book last longer, I devoured it in a single sitting.  Now I have a whole year (or more) until the next one comes out.  Clearly I have no control when it comes to books.

How was your weekend, Gentle Reader?  What verbs have you been doing lately?

Posted in lists, musings | 7 Comments

Returning home.

We are five minutes from home after spending eight days away.  This relatively short drive from Ohio to Indiana (after sixteen hours in the car the day before, it indeed feels small) normally takes a little less than three hours, but construction and lane closures has made the journey closer to four hours.

The kids’ car trip induced stupor has changed to a sense of urgency and excitement.

Trinity calls from the backseat, “Mom?  You know how sometimes you go on a trip and see and do the most beautiful things?”

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“But, then when you get home, you find it to be the most beautiful of all?  That’s how I’m feeling right now.”

I glance at her in the rearview mirror, as we wait to turn into our neighborhood.  Trinity is looking out the window, straining to catch that first glimpse of home.

“I know exactly what you mean, babe,” I answer her.  And I do.

Then I pull into our driveway and we are home.

Posted in outings and trips, The Big Girl | 3 Comments

Healing on the beach.

There is something intrinsically healing in burying your feet in the warm sand as you watch waves crash on the shore.

I am completely serious.  (And no.  I don’t work for the Florida bureau of tourism.)

My friend is a foster mom to a little girl who has, no doubt, experienced more neglect and traumatic experiences in her six years than most people do their entire lives.  She is shy and quiet until you ask her about her recent vacation to the beach.  Then her eyes light up, her voice becomes animated, and she smiles.  I am convinced that beach healed a tiny portion of what is broken inside of her.

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I wouldn’t classify myself as broken, but the past year has left me with several rough edges to my soul.  A long stint of unemployment, a bitterly cold winter, and the frazzled feelings that occasionally come with homeschooling three headstrong and independent individuals have all left their mark.

But sitting on a chair with my toes curled in the sand, smelling the sea air mingled with sunblock, and watching the light dance across the waves while my children run up and down the shore smoothed my calloused spirit.

Breathing felt easier.  Smiling felt easier.  Trusting God felt easier.

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Quite simply, finding joy was easier.

My wish for you, Gentle Reader, is to find a little bit of that healing you don’t even know your bruised heart needs.

And I would suggest finding a beach to do it.

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Posted in outings and trips | 4 Comments

Reflections after watching “Frozen” for the four millionth time.

Spring break.  It happened to us, Gentle Reader, oh it happened.  An entire week away from school and chores and forty degree temperatures.  A week of sun and sunburns (despite copious amounts of lotion applied.)  A week of beaches and dolphin sightings and seashell collecting.  And a week of watching HGTV and Bravo after the kids went to bed.

However, before all of this happened we had to actually get there, which is a tale of determination, courage, raw grit, and gratuitous binge eating.

Here is the mathematical equation:  two grown ups (my sister and I), five children (ages 12 to 4), and a metric ton of snack items (low salt Pringles for the win!) traveling in a grey mini van for a round trip total of 33 hours, spread across only two days.  You can do the math anyway you want to but you will always reach the same conclusion:  we were insane.  And very desperate for sunshine.

The key to our survival was a portable DVD player and the movie Frozen.  I have officially lost count of exactly how many times my children have watched that movie.  All I know is that I owe Walt Disney a debt of gratitude for keeping the seven of us emotionally and mentally sound during our long trek to Florida.

However, (and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful), watching an animated musical that many times within seven days does something to you.  I am not the same woman I was a week ago.

Here are my reflections after watching Frozen for the four millionth time.*

1.  The very next time I’m told to introduce myself, I’m going to say, “Hello, I’m Olaf, and I like warm hugs!”  Because that is the best introduction I have ever heard.

2.  Whenever my children think I’m harping too much on a rule or a criticism they burst into song, singing the words “Let it go!  Let it go!”  Here’s the thing, offspring:  I can’t.  I can’t.

3.  The idea of eating a carrot now makes me a little queasy.  Make that a lot queasy.

4.  I am convinced that if I would only shake out my hair from a formal bun I would have an immediate, drastic, and sexy makeover.  The only problem is that my short hair isn’t long enough to actually go up into a bun.

5.  I feel a strong desire to use the word ‘impaled’ in a sentence, but no such desire to actually be impaled.

6.  Right before I start cleaning the kitchen I sing, “Here I stand…”, then I stomp my foot on the kitchen floor, hoping to see some cleaning magic emanate from my shoe.  It never works.  And yet I do it every single time.

7.  After listening to the forecast for the next few days and seeing temperatures in the high 20′s with a chance of snow flurries I have come to the conclusion that the snow really does bother me anyway.  I am no Elsa.  But my husband calls me “Feisty Pants” sometimes, so maybe I’m an Anna…

8.  Finally, if I ever meet someone who has gotten engaged the same day that they met their fiancee I will whisper to them, “Come watch this cautionary tale with me.” Then I will put Frozen on repeat and make them watch it until they get some common sense.

 

 

 

* If you haven’t actually seen the movie Frozen yet, the following list will make no sense to you.  Skim over it, it won’t hurt my feelings.  I’ll write something better for you next time.

Posted in lists, movies, outings and trips | 6 Comments

Flashback Friday: So much to love.

There are just so many things I love about this photograph that was taken six years ago.  How do I love thee photo?  Let me count the ways.

 

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1-  My nephew’s chubby cheeks.  They simply create happiness by merely looking at them.  Imagine if you got to nibble on them.

2-  How you can totally tell that Trinity is grinning to beat the band while holding her little sister, even though her little sister’s panicked face is covering her mouth.  When Trin smiles, she does it with her entire face.

3-  And how about that panicked baby Eden?  I find her little face hilarious.  She is completely thinking, “A crazy person is holding me!  Danger Will Robinson!  Danger Will Robinson!”

4-  And look at Will’s haircut.  It looks like I cut his hair by placing a bowl on his head.  (Which I might have really done.  The boy had multiple crazy cowlicks.)

5-  Finally, the homemade Bob the Builder pillowcase?  Love.  It.  Oh Bob, how I miss you.  You represent a simpler time in my life (a less groomed and sleep deprived time, but simpler nonetheless.)

 

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At least it’s not snowing.

Rain.

Lots of rain.

Sooooo much rain.

I am starting to feel a little bit like Noah, except I haven’t prepared an ark.  I’m a procrastinating Noah who ends up floating around on a hastily built raft, pulling aboard drenched bunnies and wet chickens to safety.  But no snakes.  Or crocodiles.  In fact, reptiles of every kind probably won’t make the cut.  Rafts ARE quite cramped.

The point I am trying to get across is that it is raining a lot.  This is where everyone who has survived the polar vortex says, “At least it’s not snowing!”  This is now the go to response whenever we face any type of weather related event.  Comets could fall from the sky, fourteen inches of rain could accumulate, but the grocery store clerk will simply shrug her shoulders and merely say, “At least it isn’t snowing!”

As a direct result of all this rain my children are incredibly bored.  They languish on couches, draped across throw pillows as they moan about how there is nothing to do.  I give them options involving paint or books or play dough or toys.  But they are not buying what I am selling.  Only something with a screen can ease their pain.

Sadly, I am not about to budge on my limited technology stance.  So they are forced to languish.  Loudly.

Allthis rain makes me lethargic.  I sit in the recliner, forsaking household chores for reading and napping.  I have no desire to cook dinner, but all their languishing makes the children famished so I am forced to serve uninspired fish sticks or mac and cheese.  Boring food for bored children.

My husband is forced to eat these soulless entrees but all this rain makes him too tired to complain.  So dinner is a bland, exhausted affair filled with grumbling and whining and carrot sticks (which are delicious in their vegetable way.)

Still.  At least it’s not snowing.

 

Posted in rantings and ravings, Whoops. Got Lazy. | 1 Comment