Random Tuesday

In CategoryNavel Gazing
ByDeb

• Thanks to everyone for their encouragement yesterday. We did indeed stop the stupid endless number writing. When I called my son in to start school, he visibly deflated at the sight of the math book. I told him that I had been thinking about it and all that number writing was unnecessary (I might’ve said stupid, but that does not seem like a Good Mommy word, so…), and we would be skipping the rest. I made sure I came out looking like a Hero, which I felt was only fair since last week I was the Bad Guy.

A special Thank You to Melanie for saying, “Please stop making that child write his numbers from 0-100.” which contained the exact right amount of validation and gentle prodding I needed to quit. Luckily, the advice hit me right between waves of peri-menopausal hormones, and I didn’t even burst into tears. ‘Course, I asked for advice, but as you know, that is neither here nor there.

• Someone tell me I am not the only hormonal female around these parts. I swear, us girls get the short end of the stick on all this crap.

• I was very glad to see a Girl Scout set up when I went in the grocery store yesterday. This must mean the crack cookies are in, and my little neighborhood pusher Girl Scout will soon be around with a fresh supply.

• When I came out of the grocery store, a person who was probably a drug addict hit me up for four dollars. Doesn’t four dollars seem awfully specific? What can you buy for four dollars? If I had four dollars I’d be driving to Starbucks, yo. She hit up half a dozen other people while I was unloading my cart. In the last few months someone asks me for money where ever I go. What is UP with that? It’s kind of scary. I can’t figure out why this is happening to me all of a sudden. Do my $6 WalMart t-shirts scream money? Do I look like a sucker? Or maybe I just look a middle-aged soft touch. This better not be some new and unpleasant side effect of rubbing up against 40, or I’m gonna be pissed off.

• Speaking of being old, the other night I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, and I was almost blinded by the glare bouncing off the mirror from this huge streak of gray hair that’s appeared on the left side of my head. I called my husband into the bathroom and said, “DUDE! Why didn’t you tell me I had all this gray right here?” And he looked at it and said, “That’s nothing compared to what’s happening in the back.”

• My husband thinks he is funny.

• He is mistaken.

Now Accepting Encouragement

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing
ByDeb

Okay, here’s where I’m at lately.

Big hates handwriting. I think one of the problems is that his brain works faster than his hand, so he gets frustrated with how long it takes to write anything down. Plus, his hand cramps. He’s only six. I don’t think he quite has the hang of not using a death grip on his pencil. 

Pencil grips are not a huge help – in the past few years I have probably spent over a hundred dollars experimenting with various pencil grips (that sentence was not for you, husband!) I don’t know why that stuff is so expensive – and half of them don’t even fit a wooden pencil properly, they slide around. Maybe it’s a conspiracy…

We finally found a foam grip that he’ll tolerate, but he still doesn’t love to write. I finally decided to do one short page of handwriting practice every day (he has some very bad letter formation habits we need to work on) and we do most of the rest of his work orally. He does have to write for math, but I don’t make him write all the words out in his Explode the Code workbooks, and we do the majority of spelling orally. I think it’s harder to spell orally than on paper, so if that’s how he wants to do it, I say knock yourself out.

Now we have started to integrate Notebooking (I heart notebooking!) into our school day, which means I take dictation and he complains about my handwriting. My plan is to transfer the handwriting duties over to him as he gets older. I tend to think it will happen naturally.

But……

I have had this tiny, annoying, doubting whisper in my head the last few days that maybe I should start making him write more. That I’m not doing him any favors by letting him go at his own pace. Then I tell my self that’s ridiculous, going at your own pace is the only way to really absorb information (in my opinion). Notebooking is writing-intensive and that’s probably what’s highlighting the disparity. All the words are his, I merely serve as the person doing the writing. He draws the pictures and does the other activities.

Plus Math-U-See has had us writing out the numbers from 0-100 for our current chapter and it’s about going to kill me. It takes all morning. We haven’t done anything besides write numbers for over a damn week – and we aren’t even halfway done with the chapter. I am tempted to just forget the whole stupid thing, but then the doubting voice pipes up and tells me I am enabling him enough and to quit being such a coward with handwriting. Then I do that thing where I go around and around in my head, arguing with myself.

Probably I shouldn’t go into a lot of detail on the warring voices in my head, lest you all think I am a crazy lady.

On the other hand, I do sound like a crazy lady. I don’t even know where I am going with this rambling conversation.

Oh yeah – help me get the doubting whisper to shut up. It’s annoying. And singularly unhelpful.

Probably it’s too late to convince you I am not a crackpot…

Also, my daughter is a lefty. The only one one either side of our families. So anything I learned teaching Big how to write is out the window and I’m starting from scratch. If anyone has any VERY SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS on how to teach a lefty how to do things, I am now accepting ideas.

Gah.

Thanks peeps.

Homeschool Graduate Q & A

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing
ByDeb

Are you guys bored with this subject? I quite like it, but if you need more Real Housewives talk, let me know. I will watch more teevee if you demand it.

I’m a giver that way.

I do want to answer all the questions even though I have doubts as to whether I have anything relevant to offer the homeschoolers of today.

So, let’s carry on!

Jessica asked:

I would love to know what your college application process was like. Did you take the SAT? Did you have an “official” transcript from high school? Do you feel you got more out of the college experience because of the freedoms you had to learn at home?

I want to answer the last question first, because I have something to say before your eyes glaze over at the sight of all this boring text and you click over to Dooce.

Without a shadow of a doubt, there is one thing I know being homeschooled gave me: immunity to peer pressure.

Being homeschooled gave me the chance to become…settled within myself. I had time and space to think. I didn’t have a bunch of rules given to me by my parents; I had opinions that were my own, developed away from the unceasing influence of teenagers. (Nothing against teenagers, but they are not known for their stellar decision making skills.) Somehow, not only was I confident in my positions on drinking, sex, and drugs; I truly did not care what anyone else thought of them, and didn’t hang out with people I knew would be a bad influence. Looking back, I am amazed and grateful at how relatively unscathed I grew up. I believe that being homeschooled gave me the gift of strength.

So, homeschool moms – while we all have doubts about which grammar program is the best, let’s try to remember the intangible lessons we are teaching our our kids. Lessons that can’t be graded or written on a progress report, but which are quietly shaping our children. And on those crappy days when we realize we haven’t done math in six weeks, let’s cling to the knowledge that we are doing other things that are even more important.

(Copy that last bit into an email and send it to me the next time I whine about being behind, okay?)

Next question – the college application process was painless. I did not have any trouble, and that was twenty years ago (gah! twenty!) In Colorado, we take the ACT, so that’s what I did. I called the university I was applying to, found out when they were giving the test, and spent half a day filling in little ovals. As I mentioned previously, the math section kicked my butt, but it didn’t keep me from getting into the school. We homeschooled under what was called an “umbrella school.” Basically, it was a private school somewhere in Texas. We were completely independent, but sent them my grades and they created a transcript for me. So my transcript read as if I went to high school in Texas. 

I realize this is very little help to people who are now preparing high school transcripts for their kids. I have a few friends who are in the midst of this process right now. One has a son in art school and a daughter presently doing the music school audition circuit. I have asked my friend about the process and she said it’s no big deal. When her son was applying for art school and they asked for a transcript, she told them “well, he was homeschooled,” and the school said, “oh, okay,” and moved onto the next question. Seriously, I have tried to get more information from her about this, but that’s what she said – the school didn’t even bat an eye. Her daughter is a gifted musician and has already gained entrance to a lot of fancy colleges – Oberlin College, Johns Hopkins University, The University of Denver, Rice University – and is currently auditioning to be accepted into the music schools associated with those universities (The Peabody Institute, The Lamont School of Music, The Shepherd School of Music, etc.)

I know of another homeschooler who never went to public school a day in her life. She was not a great student and did not score out of the ordinary on the SAT. Out of the 6 or 7 schools she applied to, she was admitted to all but one WITH SCHOLARSHIPS TO EVERY SINGLE ONE. A full ride to The Colorado School of Mines! Do you know how hard it is to get into the School of Mines? She did not attend because she did not want to be an engineer, BUT STILL. Her story just flabbergasts me.

My good buddy, Other Deb has a daughter (M) who has been accepted into the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, as a Dean’s Scholar. This, according to Deb, is a BFD. All materials for application were due by December 1. Two weeks later she was accepted into the university; a day later the acceptance into the Honors program was sent. Most applicants will not even be fully-reviewed for another month or two and may not even receive acceptance until spring. Other Deb is pretty busy right now figuring out how to fill out all the stupid paperwork required to send her amazing daughter off to school, but I have prevailed upon her to write us a guest post in the future telling us exactly how the whole creating-a-transcript/applying-for-college process went for them. M is the very first homeschooler to be accepted as a Dean’s Scholar, which just ups the awesomeness even further.

So, let me conclude by saying to all you homeschool moms who are worried about college: Stop It.

Ta Da! Problem solved! You’re Welcome.

If anyone has any more questions, let me know. If I don’t know the answer, I will make something up. This is my solemn vow.

Stephen Hawking and The Real Housewives

In CategoryNavel Gazing
ByDeb

The other night, I stayed up to watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion show. It was kind of bland. I prefer it when there are fisticuffs.

When it was over, I got sucked into some show on some science channel about Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything. Or something like that. I did not understand a word they were saying, but I was riveted nonetheless.

RIVETED.

Did you know that they don’t think electrons orbit the nucleus of an atom anymore? Now they say the electrons randomly wink on and off, popping up and then disappearing – and can even be in more than one place at a time (uh…what?) When did this happen? Do they know that for sure, or are they making stuff up?

Also, why do they hate Pluto?

Pluto will always be a planet to me.

Anyway, apparently Stephen Hawking was determined to discover the origins of the universe. He intended to marry Quantum Mechanics (the physics of atoms and other very tiny things I have never heard of) and Einstien’s Theory of Relativitiy (the physics of big stuff, like planets). Those two branches of physics contradict each other and Hawking wanted to combine them so they…wouldn’t.

I guess he cleared everything up when he theorized the universe began when a singularity at the bottom of a black hole exploded (do black holes have bottoms? who knows) and spit out the universe; then combined that stuff with some other stuff about virtual particles being able to escape the gravity of the aforementioned black hole (doesn’t virtual sort of mean imaginary? or pretend? is science even real?)

Ta Da!

Previously, Stephen Hawking believed that God created the universe, but then later figured it out in such a way that “a creator was not necessary.” (how do people even find the nerve to say that out loud?)

They didn’t explain where the singularity that exploded (Big Banged, as it were) came from in the first place…but like I said, I didn’t really understand a thing he was talking about.

But then! 

I remembered that I believe in Creation, and don’t really care what happened who-knows-how-long ago. Probably I could understand M-theory if I wanted to, but I have my hands full making sure making sure everyone around here poops on a regular basis.

And then I was able to turn to the teevee off and go to bed, satisfied that while I might not know as much as Stephen Hawking, it’s mostly because I am very busy.

That’s my story.

And I’m sticking to it.

Anyone know when The Real Housewives of Miami starts?