Thursday, September 28, 2006

What are public schools for?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What are public schools for?
Current mood: groggy

Well, the boys are in bed early tonight. Littleman was very sick yesterday, out of the blue. He couldn't even keep water down. Finally after another puke around 2 am I was able to very gradually introduce some diluted Gatorade, and it stayed down. He slept well after that and today has been his normal self again! WTF?? Well I am glad it resolved so well so quickly. I have still been cautious with what he eats and drinks, but it almost seems like he was never sick. I may even let him go to montessori tomorrow.

Anyway, so here it's barely 9 and I am "free". I'm exhausted though, from dealing with Littleman last night and then (when he was finally settled) helping Sweetcheeks who woke several times in the night. I got a broken nap this afternoon but I think it just left me more groggy. I think I will just do some minimal tidying, put the pot of homemade chicken soup in the fridge (mm, the house smells good!), take a nice hot bath and go to bed.

Before that however, I wanted to share a quote I found in one of the homeschooling books I am reading. It is giving some background information on how public schools began in the United States, most of which I now recall studying but had forgotten. Horace Mann was one of the reformers who advocated a new public schooling system.

He recommended common schools to produce urban workers who would be "more orderly and respectful in their deportment, and more ready to comply with the wholesome and necessary regulations of an establishment".

There you have it, folks- that's what public schools are for. And they are generally very good at it, aren't they?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

a quiet breath

Saturday, September 23, 2006

a quiet breath
Current mood: peaceful

Well, once again I've gone blogAWOL for awhile- sorry! No guilt, vacations or major life events to point to, I've just been too busy and it wasn't on my mind.

Now that I'm here, I can't think what to write, LOL! That's what happens when I slack for awhile- without regular exercise, my writing self starts feel stiff and out of shape.

Still it's nice to sit for just a moment and try to stretch my mind a little, or at least take a calm breath and watch the sunny branches dance in the breeze outside my window. The boys are asleep, conked out after a fun trip to the playground with friends this morning. The house is cool and quiet, with public radio softly broadcasting opera in the background. I can take the time and attention to observe these things, which usually go unnoticed in the backdrop of my busy days. There are so many things I want to do that I have not, so many things I want to finish that I can't seem to find the time for, so many things that I want to do better or more often than I do now. But I must remind myself, even ad nauseum (for it's so soon that I forget. . .) that these quiet moments for "nothing" are vital. They should not be lightly cast aside, nor taken for granted. Ah, blessed peace.

Monday, September 11, 2006

a hike

Sunday, September 10, 2006

a hike
Current mood: good

The grass is soft, and long enough to tickle my back where my shirt rides up. There is only a breath of a breeze, but the day is not too hot. As the sun sinks it turns the light golden, and I gaze out at the mountains around us. The bird rises into view again, coasting gracefully on the thermals, sailing and circling with no visible effort. As it wheels slowly overhead I point it out to Sweetcheeks, who focuses on the bird and watches it with improbable concentration for a one year old. He is relaxed and seems very happy out here, touching the earth and sky. He turns to me suddenly with a delighted grin, and points at the bird. Then he points at the trees, whispering his little baby language to me. Next it's the mountains, then a nearby rock. He pats the ground and rolls off my lap to crawl through the soft, long dry grass that arches over his head. I keep an eye on him while he explores.

I hear Littleman and Billy wandering back up the trail, where they'd gone to explore. Soon we'll need to hike back down the mountain, and I'll dawdle with Littleman as we examine mushrooms, oak trees, bird sound and pools of orange sunlight. He is so interested in these things, and it's a joy to answer his questions. "That one's a maple tree", and "I don't know what the bears are doing, sweetie. Probably finding things to eat. They like to eat berries (especially blackberries, around here), grubs and old meat." Then he tells me a story about how a bear will come right here and talk to him- it will tell him where the campfire is on the mountain, and that soon it will be going to sleep. He'll understand the bear, and then tell me what the bear said. I say "Wow" and really mean it, though not in the way he thinks. Wow. How cool to be here, how wonderful to share this time and place with our boys, how amazing to show these delights to them and to spark original questions and stories in return. Wow. What a true blessing we have.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandma's house we go

Friday, September 08, 2006

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandma's house we go
Current mood: numb

Yesterday, I took the boys to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Littleman's cousin (the one closest in age) was there, and the boys would get to play together and drive the battery-powered jeeps around the property. We planned to stay for dinner, get Littleman ready for bed and drive home at a reasonable bedtime, since Littleman had Montessori to get to this morning.

I brought a quilt I have been working on (read: a quilt that has been sitting around, that I keep meaning to work on) since I was pregnant with Sweetcheeks, and a book I am reading. Ha ha ha. Who was I kidding? It was one minor emergency after another. Potty training accidents, an episode with a goo-filled toy that sprung a leak all over Mr. Cheeks (is it toxic? did he eat any? I don't know. . .) and the resulting baths, a rebellious toddler and a tired baby who positively refuses to nap, and constant surviellance in a home that's not baby-proofed. By the time we'd finished dinner and I was helping clean up, I was ready to go. Probably, Grandma and Grandpa were looking forward to some peace as well. I got the boys ready to go and picked up a couple things to load in the car.

I couldn't find my keys. They were not on the table, and I remembered I'd seen them under the table on the floor when I was sweeping after dinner. (By the time I'd swept my pile into the dustpan and tossed it, I'd already forgotten about my keys. My attention span is SHOT). I figured Mr. Sweetcheeks had taken them when he was playing under the table. It had been less than an hour- they couldn't have gone far.

We turned that house upside down. We searched for three solid hours before giving up for the night and going to bed. (Isn't it fun to stay the night someplace when you absolutely did not pack for it? Especially with two young children? One of whom will be missing school in the morning because you can't find your keys?) Before turning in finally I had to tape plastic over my open car windows, since there was no way I could roll them up. I'm glad it didn't rain after all. Luckily Littleman slept well, but Sweetcheeks woke several times throughout the night. In the morning, we still couldn't find the keys.

After a few phone calls (Billy helped from home) we decided I should get to a Subaru dealership to have new keys made. I figured I'd get a couple copies, and not buy a new keyless entry remote since I still hoped my keys would turn up somewhere (and it would have cost $60!). Grandma decided to forgo a luncheon she was supposed to attend, and amidst my car alarm sounding I managed to remove the car seats from my car and install them in Grandma's van. (The car alarm shut itself off eventually, thank goodness). I'd not had breakfast, but we were in a hurry. We all drove the long way to the nearest Subaru dealer, and luckily it was pretty quick and painless to show them the required information and get the new keys made.

On the way back to Grandma's, Grandpa called to say he'd found my keys upstairs in his office. (!) We are still scratching our heads over that one. It can only have been Littleman or his cousin, who went upstairs with Grandma for just a couple minutes the night before. It doesn't take much. Though I am beginning to favor a more supernatural explanation, since I often have trouble finding my keys there and I do not have this problem elsewhere. Grandma and Grandpa have lost at least one key there and it's a total mystery. I think one of the spirits/ghosts who lives there must like keys, and enjoys moving them about to drive us crazy. Anyhow that's my explanation. ;)

SO, at least now I have a couple working spares, which I should have had to begin with. I fed the kids lunch and Grandma made her next appointment on time. I re-installed the car seats, loaded up the car and with the boys in their last clean articles of clothing (a shirt and underwear or diaper for each of them) we finally arrived home.

But wait! There's more! I get mostly unloaded, the kids are upstairs playing and I check my e-mail. Lo and behold, there's a reminder for a curriculum night at Littleman's school at 6 pm tonight. It's now 5:00. I'd completely forgotten. I really needed to be there, and I'd feel very guilty missing it because I've somehow managed to miss every other school presentation so far this year. I call, and discover they are not providing childcare. Argh. So I start phone calling, trying to find someone to watch the boys for an hour or so.

I do find a babysitter, I hastily pack the diaper bag and get them dressed, drop them off at my neighbor's house, and make the meeting (only 20 minutes late! Ha!). I'm glad I went- it was enjoyable and enlightening. Only a glass of wine would have improved things, LOL. I picked up happy boys from cheerful sitters (who watched the boys longer than an hour for me), paid my $20 and went home. Dinner, bath and bedtime later, I am finally at the end of my story here. Whew. I am glad to be home.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006


Monday, September 04, 2006

Current mood: cheerful

I've been reading up on homeschooling, and it's getting me excited about the prospect all over again. You see, once upon a time I was an education major in college, and the more I learned about learning the more I was bewildered by our public school system. How can we know so much about how children learn best, and yet be applying so little of that knowledge in our public schools? I started looking for alternatives- how could we teach better, how could we meet the needs of children, and not squelch their innate love of learning?

In one of my education classes I got the opportunity to do extensive research on any area of education, and I decided to delve into John Holt and his ideas. John Holt was a pioneer of "unschooling", a term he coined to better describe homeschooling's true reach and strengths. He was a very strong and vocal supporter of homeschooling at a time when it was not well regarded by the general population here in the States. His ideas and research resonated with me in a way that none of my other research or reading on education had done. Here was a way to meet the needs of children, to stoke the flames of their curiosity and nurture their need to learn! It's by far the best method of education I can imagine. Right then and there I was certain that I would try to homeschool my children, whenever I was blessed with that opportunity in my future.

So, here I am! It's the future, and I have two beautiful boys, and one of them is now preschool age. Time to dip my toe in the waters, and see how best to go about accomplishing this long-held goal I've nurtured. But I've been looking at my life now, and worrying about my time- I am already stretched; how can I possibly devote the time I should devote to something as important as my child's education? I've been feeling weighed down, like I am swimming upstream in an overcoat and boots. How can I ever make any headway? How can I ever pile on more responsibilities than I already carry?

Reading some of these books has been very reassuring. In reality, I am already doing much of what I need to do. It comes naturally- as a matter of fact, homeschooling is natural. Most parents do it as a matter of course whenever they are with their children. As the children get older it takes more effort to incorporate their advanced studies, but with practice that homeschooling comes easily. I am remembering why I was so enthralled by the idea to begin with. As usual, a trip to the library is the first step to my confident tackling of a new project!

Sunday, September 3, 2006


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Current mood: drained

I was listening to The News From Lake Wobegone on the radio tonight, and it seemed to me that the story ended just a little too neatly. (I'm sure it was partly just my mood, as Garrison Keillor isn't exactly known for complicated plot lines). But it bugged me a little bit, and I thought, "Life is too complicated for that". I felt a bit cheated, like the real story would have been messier and more interesting.

But then I wondered if that's true: is life complicated? It sure feels complicated a lot of the time. We can certainly make it complicated. Certainly my perception of life is often complicated. But these things aren't necessarily reality- just because life seems complicated doesn't mean it is. It is my opinion that life is actually very simple.

I have to remind myself that the details are only that: details. This doesn't mean that they are not important; it only means they are just a small part of the big picture, and the big picture is gloriously uncomplicated. Life is not in the details. Life is the big picture. Am I happy? Are my loved ones happy? Am I walking towards something better than where I am? And, am I leaving things better than I found them? I think that might just cover it for me.

At least, for right now. I am tired and I need to go to bed.