Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Wrap Up


Hot Dog's version of "Bald Mama"

I wish I could do this year over.  I wish that I could have been healthy and involved for this last year of my children's lives.  My kiddos have not invented a time machine yet (although I'm told they're working on it).
I can't have this year back.
 So.
Thank God this year is over.
Sincerely.
Cancer treatment just sucks.

That aside, we also had some good times.  In spite of how I felt a good deal of the time, with the help of Firelord, friends, and family, we managed to get out and about.  It's was not as much as we would usually do, but still, much more than I would have expected. I'm writing this post to remind myself of those good times.

Bit Boy got braces - on and off - in 4 months.  We were all glad it was such a short treatment.

Bit Boy joined the Civil Air Patrol and earned his Eagles Wings, then decided that, as interested as he is in flying, the military bent was too much for his taste.  I was proud of him for sticking it out as long as he did and giving it a fair shot.


Firelord and Hot Dog in Geall
 We got to kayak and sail just a tiny bit at Boyd Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir.

Lego Kid and Hot Dog finally got their wish to go fishing.  We dragged Bit Boy, our near vegetarian, along.  Sadly he was the one who actually got a fish, much to his horror.
We were doing catch and release.  I promise the fish was fine.  Had Lego Kid been the one to catch it, we may have been eating sushi then and there, despite the lack of wasabi.

We got to foster some of the cutest kittens on the planet.  I'd have to go back and count but I'm pretty sure we've had more than 20 in just the last year.






We did lots of field trips
(many of which are worth doing again)
Celestial Seasonings
The U.S. Mint
Homeschool Day at Elich Gardens
Casa Bonita (might not need to do that again)
The Butterfly Pavilion
The Denver Zoo
2 different air shows - Warbirds Over the Rockies and the Wild West Air Fest
Yellowstone National Park
Harvest Farm Fall Festival
The DaVinci Machine Exhibit


This was the first year in a long time that I saw more performances than I was in.
Cirque du Soleil (Dralion w/ just Firelord, and Quidam w/ the kids)
Peter Pan
A Year with Frog and Toad

Winter Wishes Ice Show
A Musical Christmas Carol
Gift of the Magi




Yup, it was a hard year, but there were some very good times too.

Thanks to my family and friends, and especially Firelord, we got through it.

Here's to hoping for a healthy and happy 2013



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gift of the Magi

Last weekend we went to see the opera "Gift of the Magi" ( by composer David Conte)

I loved the orchestration. It was lush and it almost had lyrics of its own. The vocal parts didn't move me, I like a melody.  I guess I'm rather pedestrian that way.  What really knocked my socks off, though, was the plot.

WTF, you ask.   The plot?  Like, didn't you already know the story?  It's O'Henry for Pete's sake.  It's a classic.

Yes.  I knew the plot.  My mother told us the story when we were kids, and I've read it as an adult.  My mother always emphasized how the point of the story was that they had a love so great that they would sell their most precious items to give each other a Christmas gift.  She was all about the sacrifice for love.

I'm not completely sure if it was her retelling, or just how I understood it as a child, but I hated the story.  I mean, really hated it.  Della and James are spendthrifts with a communication problem.  If they had just talked about it they could have avoided the whole mess.  Also, I was fine with Della selling her hair.  It was a renewable resource.  Any woman who thinks her hair, or any other physical feature, is her most prized possession is going to be in a world of hurt someday anyway.  Selling a family heirloom was a shame.  Spending the proceeds on frivolous things like combs and a chain was just stupid.  I've been poor.  I've been hungry.  Believe me there are better things to spend your money on.

However, in this show I walked away understanding that the point of the story wasn't that they sold their most prized possessions for love.  It wasn't about the sacrifice.

The point of the story was that they forgave each other for being idiots.

That, my friends, is the secret to true love.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Voiceless it cries...

I have lost my voice.  It's not the first time, and it probably won't be the last.  Every few years it seems I get a cold that settles into my throat and I am left to whisper my way for a while.

Aside - the longest I went with out a voice was ~ 2 months.  I went to choir practice w/ my violin, on which I picked my part so as to know it when my voice came back.

I've noticed several things when I'm voiceless.  Interestingly, while they seem important and insightful while I'm without the ability to go above sotto voce, I tend to forget about them until the next time I loose my voice.  So, here's what I notice, with the hope that perhaps I won't need to be struck dumb to remember next time.

When I'm voiceless...

I can't yell.  Yes, self evident, but it has interesting applications.  While I rarely "yell at" the kids, I often yell to them.  We have a big house and yard,  and it seems easier to shout for them than to walk all over looking for them.  Now I have to think about whether what I want to say to them is worth the walk and the search.  (With my chemo-brain I'm as likely to forget why I was looking for them as to remember)  I wonder if not raising my voice changes how they feel about what I was going to tell them.  It seems like it does - but maybe it's just that I'm right in their face when I'm "talking" now?

People don't listen easily.  I take a while to say something these days, it doesn't just bounce out like it usually does.  It's an effort, and not one that most folks seem to have the patience for.  All those sassy little comments I make during a conversation are lost.  By the time I get it out the conversation has moved on.  It makes me realize how rarely anyone actually wants to hear what I say and how often (when my voice is healthy) I don't give them a choice.

All those little sounds you make during a conversation are important.  You know the ones..."Uh-huh"  "No!"  "Then what happened?"...  Also, those leading questions that help you get someone talking, or direct the conversation a bit, are far more helpful than one thinks.   I can't do those as easily right now.  (When I try to say "Uh-huh" it sounds like a sick mule.  People are startled and concerned.)  Not saying these things seems to impede conversation.  I really do want to hear what they have to say, but with out some vocal encouragement most folks peter off.  Perhaps they're feeling like I'm not listening?

Speaking quietly can get attention faster and more gracefully than a raised voice.   I've noticed this before, even when I'm not speechless, but it bears repeating.  If you want someone to really listen, quiet down.  Bit Boy was telling me that he recently learned that is part of Hopi culture too.

I wonder if it seems to others like I'm singing all the time.  When I can't sing, I feel like I'm missing limb.  I also find that, without a voice, I pick up an instrument more often during the day.  I'm not sure why I'm like this, although I'm pretty sure I've always been like this.  It's a mental health thing perhaps?  Anyway, if I can't sing I still have to make noise.  :-p

I find myself writing more.  I often don't know what I think until say/write it and then examine it to see if what I just spewed out holds true.  I process "out loud" even if it's on paper (or computer screen).  (Yes, this is a lot like Hot Dog.  It's the mother's curse. "I hope you have a child just like you someday!" :-D )

If I can't ask questions and prompt conversation, certain people in this family barely speak to me.  I don't think it's personal.   I think they just don't process the way I do.  I'm beginning to believe them when I ask  "What are you thinking?"  and they reply "Nothing."  Can you imagine?  Weird.

A big part of my parenting is done with my voice.  I read stories and sing to teach, to distract, to comfort.  We talk- a lot - about just about anything.  It's hard for Lego Kid and Hot Dog to have a mom who doesn't talk.  It feels wrong to all of us.









Saturday, December 15, 2012

Now what?

This post is inspired by the questions and concerns another homeschooling mom expressed on one of my lists.

Paraphrasing, she said:

"I just realized at least 2 of my 5 kids (ages 7 and 10) are right brained.  I'm not.   They're not reading yet.  I don't know what to do.  The baby is just a year old and I'm pulled in so many directions.  Traditional learners can sit everyone down at the table and work for 3 hours and be done.  My kids won't.  What do I do?"

Here's my response:

First, cut yourself some slack.  You've just had a huge paradigm shift.  It'll take a while to integrate that into your everyday life.

You still have very little ones.  I gave myself the 1st year or two of every babies life to just be.  You can call it unschooling, or relaxed homeschooling if you want.  If you can manage to read to them most days, take them to the library and to parks now and then, you will be doing more than fine.  There's nothing that is urgent right now.  Keeping everybody fed and healthy is a high enough goal.

You say you like check-lists and scripts.  That's going to be tough.  Right brainers don't just think "out of the box"  Rbers don't even notice there's a box.  They won't even understand how they're making you crazy.  (But it might amuse them) 

If you write a script, they're going to turn it on end.  It's time to start thinking of your homeschooling as an improv troupe.  When you're doing improv it doesn't mean you are without structure.  It means that, with in a certain agreed upon structure, you are free to experiment.  It means that there is not "right" and "wrong" way to do something - there's only this works and that doesn't, this is fun, this is drudgery.  Your improv will be different than someone elses, and that's a good thing!  It means you're doing what works for you.


What if instead of a daily checklist that the kids have to do, you have a mental checklist you consult every week or so, privately or with your spouse?   Especially when they are little my kids learn so much without my input or structure.  I'm always amazed when I step back and look at how my little ones spend their days and see it through their eyes.

Our kids are getting older.  I miss having littles, but the advantage of having rational human beings for children isn't to be dismissed.  At our house we have pretty regular talks about what is working and what isn't.  It's not child centered, it's family centered.  It has to work for everyone.  It has to meet our long term goals, which the children help to set for themselves.   We all have family and household chores which  we have to do, just 'cause that's what it takes to manage a house hold.

Our days and weeks have a certain fluid structure, with the oldest (14) having the most structure and the youngest (8) the least.   My oldest can now work mostly independently.  He has a list of academics he does everyday and then he is free to do as he wishes.  (Which is mostly sit at the computer programming, skyping friends and play games.  So long as he meets his family obligations, his academic commitment, and moves his body around every hour, I try to be ok with that)  My 11 yo is just starting to do regular academics - he's learning to type, practicing his hand writing, and practicing piano every day.  Soon he'll start doing a wee bit of math.  My 8 year old isn't reading yet.  His brothers didn't start reading until after 9, yet by 11 both were reading at an adult level, so I'm not worried.  He's learning to type and practicing his handwriting, but mostly because he wants desperately to be like his big brother.  The younger two (8 & 11) spend most of their days playing - legos, k'nex, making things out of cardboard or wood scraps, dueling, shooting each other, and -yes- bickering for entertainment.

Just throwing in that last bit to keep it real here.  I hate reading stuff about how perfect someone's life is.   My life's not picture perfect, just humanly lovely imperfectly perfect - except when it's not.  
That's what wine is for. ;-p



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Opposite of brain fart is....

I just had a flash of inspiration - instead of a math camp, or an art camp, for kids, what about having a math night or art night for parents?

I've been toying with the idea of a math camp for kids, and/or an art camp for kids (not unrelated you know, math and art).  The trouble is that it is such a short time.  Even a week of meetings isn't enough to really let knowledge sink it.  It's just enough to set off a spark. Too many parents have told me they have a "math phobia"   or "don't know what to do for art".   Maybe what we need to do is to inspire the parents.

I know for myself that if I'm really focused on something there is no way the kids will leave me alone.  If I want them to do something and stay on task, I need to be right there.  What if we used that to our advantage?  If we can inspire the parents to experiment and play with these cool concepts, how could the kids resist budding in?

What do you think?  Ideas?  Cons?

Zentangle Letters

It's that time of year again... Christmas!  I just got done making some zentangles that I think would make nice gift tags..


.




















This last year was pretty hard.  One of the things that I did to calm and distract me was to zentangle. 
(It's a noun, it's a verb, it's ZENTANGLE!) 




Friday, November 2, 2012

Fort Collins High School - Report

Today Bit Boy and I went to visit Fort Collins High School.  Bit Boy was less than enthused.  He already has his heart set on Colorado Early College Fort Collins.  As a parent, I agree that CEC looks like a good fit for him, but I want him to see the choice he's making.  It's not really a choice if you just pick the first thing you see, is it?  Well, maybe it is, but I still want him to have an idea of what's out there.  I'd rather not hear 3 years down the road "I would have liked xyz, if only I had known about it".  Also, if CEC doesn't work for some reason, I want him to know that there are good alternatives out there.  (Including homeschooling straight to college, but right now we're focusing on high school because that's what he's wanting.)

First we met with a councilor who sat down with us and explained the curriculum and the requirements for graduation.  Bit Boy is "9th" grade at Sunday school, and all over the map academically, but if he goes to high school full time next year with graduation as a goal, he'll have to start as a freshman (9th grader). (Never mind that if we continued homeschooling he'd be ready for college level work with in a few months...  don't get me going about institutional bureaucracy.)  She was kind and helpful, explaining the rational behind their requirements, and ways to work around his asynchronous academic development.  When questioned she also explained their attendance policies, and acknowledged the possibility of attending part time (so long as a diploma and graduation aren't a goal).   When we were done with the councilor we were passed to a peer councilor (a senior volunteer) who have us a tour of the physical facilities and talked a bit about her experiences there and the social climate.

FCHS offers many Advanced Placement courses, as well as limited concurrent enrollment possibilities.  The councilor said that they  had had students who were able to enroll directly as sophomores in college after graduation. (Compare this to CEC where the goal is an associates degree or enrollment as a junior in college after high school graduation)  There are over 1500 students, with 400 in the current freshman class.  It offers a full array of electives, sports, clubs and traditional high school activities.  Every student and staff member we met was helpful and kind.  The building appeared in good condition.  The school had a comfortable atmosphere.  I thought I wouldn't mind be a parent with a child here. I wouldn't mind working with these people, and leaving my child in their hands.

When I asked Bit Boy what he thought, he shrugged "It's fine.  I'm sure I'd do ok here."  He went on to say that he still thought CEC was a better fit for him.  When I asked him why he said, "It offered me what I want and need right now."  "It gives me a chance to work more quickly toward what's important to me."  "It still leaves me time for my own projects. A regular high school sucks up your life."  He went on to explain that he thought a smaller school would be a better institutional start for him (coming from homeschooling), and that sports and high school traditions weren't of significant importance to him.

So there you go.  From a parental prospective I found nothing wrong with Fort Collins High School.  It offers a traditional high school experience, access to advanced coursework, and what the councilor called "A proud history."   For a student who wanted what most of us would consider a "high school" experience, this would be a good school.  As a high school student I would have loved the theatre and musical opportunities, as well as the abundance of AP courses.  I had thought that the art and tech opportunities might draw Bit Boy, but he pointed out that he has had (and taken advantage of) all those opportunities as a homeschooler, and is looking for a very specific thing from high school - social peers, and college prep.  Fort Collins High School has that, but so far he likes CEC better.




October's Books

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo, again!?!

Yes.  I am quite possibly insane.   Lego Kid and I have decided to do NaNoWriMo again.  

We are crazy busy, which you know is not something I'm good at or seek out.  I'm recovering from yet another surgery (not to mention all the previous cancer treatment).  Bit Boy and I are doing the leg work to get him into high school next year.  We're preparing for an 8 week sabbatical that starts in just a couple of months.  The holidays are approaching.  I have another surgery in Nov.  And in Dec. Last time we did this is was not quite what you would call a success.   What am I thinking?

I'm thinking I want my life back.  If I can't have my previous life, I want another, just as good.  And maybe this will be part of it.

We did have fun with NaNoWriMo, and both of us found that we wrote far more than we would have otherwise.  Also, I've been looking at what I can do with each member of my family as "our own" activity.  This last year as my health declined, I've discovered that much of our bonding time was doing physical activities; kayaking, hiking, biking, gardening, swimming, ice skating, etc.  (I'm not athletic, but I was active.)  I miss that bonding time.  I'm not so active anymore.  While I hope to be active again at some healthier point in the future, this has pointed out to me how lopsided my relationships were.  For the Lego Kid creativity reigns, and making up stories is something he does all the time.  Writing is not, but is possibly a good next step in his growth.  And goodness knows I could use some extra practice too!

Wish us luck!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Early College High School - Report



Remember the drama last year when Bit Boy wanted to try Junior High School?

And then, after I busted my butt getting it set up, how he decided, "Na, I'd rather sleep in in the mornings."?

Right.

So, a couple of months ago Bit Boy let me know that he'd like to consider going to high school, and a couple of weeks ago he told me "Yes, I am definitely going to high school next year."  This time I wasn't taken by surprise, and made some calls.  We'll be taking tours of local high schools in the coming months.

Today we visited the Colorado Early Colleges High School, Fort Collins campus.  The Early College High School is a state charter school, not really part of our local school district, although it is located in the city closest to us.

I was pretty impressed with the program.  Bit Boy was ready to sign up on the spot.  (It might have had something to do with the 3 different girls there who recognized him and said "Hi Bit Boy!" with happy little giggles.)

Colorado Early College Fort Collins (from here on called CECFC) is in it's first year in Fort Collins, but it's 6th year in Colorado Springs.  The campus is located in a building that was obviously designed as an office building, but previously home to the Heritage Christian Academy.  Much of the current CECFC staff came here from the Colorado Springs campus, and are bringing that expertise to this campus.

CECFC seems like a sweet deal.  Their goal is to get their students prepped for college, then get them going on college credits, working towards 2 years of undergrad courses, an Associates degree, or certification in a desired trade.  Students can go part or full time.  They give the students college prep courses, and get them in college courses as soon as they're ready.  All of the high school courses, and many of the college credit courses are offered at the local CECFC high school campus.  The classes are taught by CEC teachers Front Range Community College teachers, and, in at least one case, by a teacher who is also a  CSU Assoc. Prof.  For students wanting college courses not offered on the CECFC campus, they can take courses at Front Range Community College, or at Aims Community College.  (CECFC is also working to develop relationships with Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado.)  Students can earn up to 60 hours of college credit concurrent with their high school diploma.  That 60 credits can be an Associates Degree or the first 2 years of a Bachelors (of Arts or Science) degree.  They work with students to make sure the credits will transfer to an in-state college.  If the student is wanting to go out of state to college, they will help the student make choices that will facilitate that end as well.

Personally I don't care much about the high school diploma.  It doesn't mean a lot these days, and we had always planned on Bit Boy going straight to college.  On the other hand, one thing I like about CEC is that they're pretty much doing what I had planned for Bit Boy to do, but on the state's dime.  Until this year, we haven't used public funds to educate our children, but I'm ok with them helping to pay for college credits. ;-)  This also is appealing because I've realized that while Bit Boy may be academically ready for college, his (lack of) organization skills and his social needs would be better met in a high school.

We were touring as classes passed and I was pleased to see the normal teen interactions going on.  Chatting, rough housing, and camaraderie were all in evidence.  That sounds silly of me to have noticed, but I had  imagined it could be rather sterile, and impersonal environment where the kids all had their noses to the grindstone.  Since one of Bit Boy's primary reasons for wanting high school is a chance to interact with other teens, that would have been a deal breaker.  The councilor that we spoke with assured me that while there are no "extras" like band, orchestra, football, etc., the students are encouraged and supported in starting extra curricular after school activities such as choir, theatre, and various clubs.  They also have traditional events such as homecoming and prom.

Random bits:
The school runs classes on the semester schedule, not a year long schedule.
Most classes are offered MWF to coordinate with the community college schedule.
On T and Th  the common room is staffed with 2 tutors who are there to assist the students with any academic help they need. Students sign a contract with the school when they take off campus college courses - the school pays for the course, BUT if the student receives less than a grade of "C" in the course, the student must reimburse the school the tuition cost.
No on site class is larger than 24 students.
If 12 or more students come together to request a class that isn't currently available, the school will make every effort to create and staff that class within a semester.

I think this would be a much better option than the PSD Global Academy for high school aged homeschool students, or for students for whom a traditional high school isn't attractive for some reason.

This would not be a good program for a student who wanted sports, or large music ensembles like marching band or orchestra.  With it's small numbers, it wouldn't work for a student who wanted to blend into the crowd or have a large school experience.  It also wouldn't be a good fit for a student who wanted a high school with lot of the "extra" courses that are fun to explore (shop, ceramics, drama classes, etc).  This is not a traditional high school.

However, for a student ready and willing to work toward their own goals, who wanted an intimate experience and was willing to do without a more traditional high school experience, this might be a very good fit.  I asked Bit Boy why he thought it was a good fit for him.  He said "They are used to dealing with homeschoolers, and they're willing to help me do what I want."

As a parent, I see that this gives Bit Boy a more of a "high school" experience than he would have if he continued homeschooling, at the same time it could help him meet the goals he's been aiming for.  And, let's not forget, it could save us up to 2 years of college tuition.  What's not to like about that?




Algebra Fairy

I'm f*ck'n brilliant.  Woot.
Also, I am expert in embarrassing my children. 
Cha-Ching.  Point to Mom.

Bit Boy has developed the annoying habit of commanding me "Help me with this."  "This" being his algebra problem, that he hasn't even copied onto his note paper.  I'm sorry.  I can't help you if you're incapable of trying it on your own. At least copy the original problem onto your paper.  Good grief.  I know how to do algebra, I don't need to do it for you.  You need to do it for you.  And you need to at least try to figure it out on your own.  What original thought is going on if I set up every problem for you?

So, just now when Bit Boy pulled his "Can you help me with this?" and I asked "Have you copied the problem?"  and he said "No."

I said, "Then you'll have to ask the Algebra Fairy."

He rolled his eyes.  "How do I ask the Algebra Fairy?"

And I demonstrated "You put your pinky in your ear, like this" ( Left pinky in left ear)
"Then you hop in a circle flapping your hand like this"  (bunny hopping in tiny circle, right hand flapping like a dish rag held at elbow height)
"While you say (in a squeaky voice) "Algebra Fairy, Algebra Fairy, please help me!"

At which point he pulled out his android, and said "Google"  "Mom, how do you spell variable?"

Do I need a spelling fairy next?


Saturday, October 6, 2012

September's Books

Nope.  Not a lot of reading going on this month.  I've been busy with medical appointments, running kids around, and sleeping.  (If you can be "busy" sleeping, that is. ) 

I had an anniversary reaction and found myself wanting to read "The Stand" again.  We read it for PLC at CU in the fall of 1985, and somehow when this fall rolled around I craved it again.  It's nearly as good this time around as it was the first.  I don't like horror as a rule, and can't take all of his writing, but Mr. King can weave a web and  tell a story like no one else.

"How to be Sick" is a dense book, one I'll probably end up buying for myself.  It has been incredibly useful to me.  I'd rank it up there with "Full Catastrophe Living" and "Whole Child/Whole Parent" for it's value and influence on me.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What to Say

Some friends have asked me to post about how to help, what to say, or what not to say, when a loved one or friend has cancer.  Honestly I don't have all the answers.  The truth is if it is someone you know, and who knows and trusts you, you can probably speak from your heart, and all will be well.

Most of us don't speak from our heart though.  That feels too vulnerable.  We say what we think we should say, or we don't think at all and say the first thing that comes to our mind.  Ouch.   I've done that, and to any and all I've hurt, I apologize.  Like so many, I meant well, I just didn't know what to do.  As I hope to be forgiven for my gaffs, I try to forgive others for theirs.  There's only been a few mean spirited things said/done to me.  Most folks mean well and I'm just extra sensitive when I'm low.  I try to remember that and just let it flow past me.

But, for those who want to read on, I recommend these posts from City Girl, who's BTDT.

Helping a Loved One During a Health Crisis
You Look Great (or not)
Cancer Buddy vs Cancer Bully
Video Cancer Buddy vs Cancer Bully

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's a Not so Bad

I thought I'd catch you all up on the math drama.  Although, it's not actually that dramatic.  What I posted was a moment, a slice, of our homeschooling life - a not perfect slice.  I think those are perhaps more valuable than the Christmas Letter posts that talk about how wonderful everything is.  Don't get me wrong, I love having those days.  But reading about them nonstop can make me feel inadequate, so I tend to post nearly as often about the not-so-perfect days, just so you know you're not alone.  :-)   You're welcome.

It all sorted itself out in time.  We put the work aside for that day and came back to it later.  With more rest, and a change of attitude, Bit Boy regained his memory and not only finished his work, but had some nice insights about it.  I realized that we need more review.  While he has a good theoretical understanding of what he's done, he hasn't practiced enough for it to become second nature.

Actually this has been an ongoing theme in my kids learning math.  They're very good at mental math and math concepts.  They're not so good at showing their work and other "drudgery".   While they were young I let them off the hook with regards to doing much written work.  They're getting older though, so now it's time to face the music.  As Lego Kid is learning, some problems are too big to hold in your head.  With Bit-Boy prepping for college now, being able to show his work has become much more important.  I'm realizing that they both need practice not only with showing their work, but with the resilience and skills needed to face a tough problem, break it down into it's parts, be willing to make mistakes and come back to try again. This is good for all of us to practice, yes?

Also, many friends have called or emailed to let me know that at 14, many boys seem to loose their minds.  Their focus shifts, their hormones rage, and they are working hard to separate even while they still need the love and support of their parents and family.  I'm trying to remember that as my teen turns into a push-me-pull-you.

I have found that in parenting, and homeschooling, there are times when we just hit a wall.  It can be with behavior, skills, academics, just about anything.  That wall can seem insurmountable in the moment.  It can be infuriating.  I often feel like the child is putting up this wall just to Piss.Me.Off.  and it worked.

But really?  It's just as frustrating to the child as it is to the parent.  Sometimes to the child it's even frightening, they have so much less control and experience than adults, they don't realize that this too shall pass.

I'm trying to get better at seeing those moments as an opportunity to explore what's really happening and to model how we deal with challenges and conflict.  I'm not always succeeding, but I'm still trying.  I'm also telling myself that that in itself is good modeling.:-)


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Grrr...


My oldest appears to have brain damage.  Two days ago he knew x^1/2= sq.rt x, and now he doesn't.  He knew this months ago - what's up with that?

(sorry, I need to figure out how to do math equations when blogging - suggestions anyone?)

Also, he will come to me with a blank sheet of paper saying "I need help with my math"  before he has looked at his problems, or even dated his paper.  He gets mad when I tell him that he should at least copy the original problem before he comes to me for help.

This morning he came to me to ask for help doing the review (REVIEW!) problems at the end of a chapter that in itself is supposed to be review.  I was asking what I thought was a simple rhetorical question to talk him through the solution.
His answer?  "I don't know"
Another simple question from me. 
Not even pausing to think a moment, "I don't know". 
Really?  OK.  "Have you read the chapter?"
"No." 
Aghhh! 

My final response was "Go re-read the chapter.  Find a similar problem.  Work through it.  Try the original problem again.  Come to me if you still don't understand."

I am finally empathizing with all those irritating people who tell me "I could never do that" when they learn we homeschool.  Usually I just smile and say, "It's not for everyone" when what I really mean is "If you wanted to homeschool you could, but it's fine that you don't want to."  Yes.  I'm that awful and pompous, but hopefully only in my head.

It's kind of like when I had only one child.  He was a sweet quiet child.  He had a mellow temperament and made friends easily.  He never bit anyone (but me), didn't pick fights, didn't scratch his privates in public, you know... he appeared to be a near perfect child.   I thought to myself, "If everyone parented like me, they too could have a child as lovely as this."  (To all those who had to stand next to me when I was thinking these pretentious thoughts, I'm sorry.  Really, really, sorry)

Then I had a second child.  Oh. My. God.  From the beginning this child was different.  He was colicky.  He was intense.  He was not mellow.  He was not easy. He hit and bit and cried - a lot.  Nothing I did changed his temperament.  I learned something I would have never known had I had only one child.  My first child was easy.  My second child was not.  It was that simple.

Now they've both grown.  My second child is 11.  He is still intense, and the most intorverted person I know (and that's saying something).  He is also sweet, kind, and sensitive.  He is empathetic and insightful enough that, to the gullible, he seems psychic.  He is now almost an "easy" child.

My oldest is 14.  He is moody, withdrawn, and not all that interested in pleasing anyone who isn't a teen.  Little I do pleases him.  My existence is, honestly, an embarrassment.  There are so many things wrong with his life right now.  He is furious that we would take family holidays but not spend $300 to buy him a program he wants.  (We have given him the option of working for pay to get it, but that's not appealing apparently.)  His brothers breath near him.  Right now, he's not an easy child, and I need bonus points for letting him live some days.

Sometimes you have an easy child, sometimes you don't.  Sometimes homeschooling is easy, sometimes it isn't.  It's that simple. 

Also - we've created a new acronym - SYW. 
Really. 
Show Your Work.
I say this everyday.  Everyday.  But does he do it?
No...sigh.. no he doesn't.  "I don't need to, the answer is obvious."
 Riiight... how did you get the wrong answer then? 

See me not strangling him?  Good on me.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Steamboat delivers again.


Yesterday we toured the Tread of the Pioneers Museum, checked out the local Farmer's Market, ate at the Steamboat Smokehouse, and swam at the rec center.  The Tread of the Pioneers Museum is in a cool old Victorian house that is (mostly) decorated in period.  It has a lot of Steamboat history in it's rooms.  We had fun doing their scavenger hunt, and checking out all the old tools, instruments, and memorabilia.  Even though there was much complaining before we went, as we left all (voluntarily!) said they enjoyed it.  Lunch at the Smokehouse wasn't as big a hit with the kids as it was with Firelord and me, but that might have had something to do with the pretzels-as-big-astheir-heads they ate in the morning at the farmer's market.  The rec center was fun but, given the summer heat, the hot springs were almost too warm.  Almost.

Today we went to the Wild West Air Fest and splurged on a helicopter ride for the family.  It was a frivolous expense, but also totally worth it.  None of us have never ridden in a helicopter before, not even Firelord who has his pilots license.  The weather was perfect and it was fun seeing all the planes.

Now we are waiting for pizza delivery while Hot Dog and Lego Kid watch college football (BYU vs Washington State).  Sigh... how did I get kids that like to watch sports?

All in all, despite the sad news from home, it's been a very enjoyable little holiday. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hope is arrogance on display

We all want to know "why?"  Sometimes it's "why me?" Sometimes the question is "how?", or "why now?"

And, more often than we like, the answer is "I don't know", or "no reason", or "it's just the way it is".

And that's hard.  It's really hard.  How can we accept that there's not necessarily rhyme or reason to the crazy shit that happens?  How do we live with the suffering and death and heart rendering sorrow that in time come to afflict us all?

I think that's why humans invented religion.  I had a friend who liked to tell me that we all had a hole in us, a God Hole.  That we all had a need to answer those questions, and that need was our God Hole begging to be filled.  I agree.  As humans we can see beyond the now.  We remember  our pasts and share our memories with people who aren't even born yet.  We can envision the future.  We have the arrogance to believe we can change the future.  We have the ability to imagine that things are not yet, and then make them happen.  We know that things can be different than how they are. That's our God Hole, our imagination begging to understand and control.  My friend was a Pentecostal, and I'm pretty sure she didn't mean for me to interpret her the way I did.  And in my vast imagination, I can see us both being right.

Tonight my heart is heavy.  I just learned from our house sitter that one of our foster kittens is very sick, probably dying.  What happened?  I don't know.   We are away in Steamboat, taking advantage of the Labor Day weekend and the fact that I'm only 1 week into radiation and not as sick as I'm going to get.  These 4 foster kittens are only 4 weeks old.  They are the cutest sweetest little cuddles of fur we've had in a while.  I'm heart broken that one is so ill, and keep coming back to all the the things I might have done wrong.  Did I miss some symptom?  We hadn't had them long at all.  The rescue knew that we were leaving and that the house sitter would be caring for them, but perhaps I should have refused to have them while we were gone.  I know our house sitter is excellent with animals, but she shouldn't have to take on this responsibility.  She's tenderhearted and has her own sorrows.  I'm so sorry to have added any burdens to her already full load.

It's not really just about the little kitten is it?  That innocent little fur ball represents every child that's ever been hurt, every person that has suffered, and all the hideous ugly horrors that the living must daily face.  I know that.  I know it's about my cancer, the abuse I suffered as a child, the sorrow I hold in my heart for my own children watching me be ill.  I know it's about the suffering and illness my mother has suffered, and my brother in law, and my aunts.  I know it's personal, for each of us.  We all have our wounds, scars, and sorrows.  It's just that kind of a world.

How arrogant am I?  That I think I can affect any of this?  I am human.  My God Hole sees other possibilities than pain, sorrow and suffering.  My God Hole knows, not only that this will not last, but that better things are possible.  So I keep going.  I look for fun and joy.  I take my hugs when they come.  I drink a glass of wine, and enjoy the taste fresh fruit.  I play with my children.  I rescue little fluff balls. 

I'm that arrogant.



Update 9/2/12:

The kitten died.  Our house sitter rushed it to the rescue late last night, where the vet met her, but there was nothing that could be done.    The vet gave the house sitter some medicine for the other kitties, because one of them had a fever and was listless. (She also gave the feverish one extra sub-q fluids.)  This morning the house sitter texted that the 3 remaining kittens were doing well.  Sometimes there's nothing you can do, but sometimes there is. 

I'm grateful to have such an awesome house/pet sitter, that she would care so much and get herself and 4 kittens to the vet late at night.  I'm impressed with Dr. Gloria from the Fort Collins Cat Rescue, that she would give up a Sat. night to try to save the life of 8 oz. of fluff.  Having dealt with her before, I'm not surprised, just continuously in awe of her dedication and abilities.  That's one arrogant, hopeful, woman.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Trepidations

Today is my kids' first day of school.  Ever.  For many parents that would be bittersweet.
For me, it's just bitter.

I am not the mom you see counting down the days until the kids go back to school on facebook.  I love homeschooling.  I love being surrounded by my family.  I love hearing my kids plan, and play, and chortle as they come up with their various shenanigans.  I love how easy and free their learning is.  I miss them when they're away, even while I love hearing about their independent experiences.

I am getting quite worked up about this.  I don't know why.  This isn't even real school, just a one day a week enrichment program.  A friend wrote to tell me to say "I hope that you are able to have some restful down time while they are gone"    Ha!  I will be spending my morning at doctors' offices.  Which is part of why I signed them up for this.  It gives them something to do, and a safe place to be, at the same time it gives me a predictable day for scheduling the many appointments my health requires right now.

I spent this morning, as I sent them off with Firelord, being cheerful, sending them off with a "Have fun!  I can't wait to hear all about it" attitude, even while having my doubts about how it's going to go for them.  Hot Dog got a call last night from a friend (who will also be there) to talk strategies for staying out of the principal's office.  That set Hot Dog off in to wails of "I don't want to go to school!" because he had no idea it would be so hard to stay out of trouble with the (apparently) terrifying principal.  (I've met her, she actually seemed pretty normal.)  Lego Kid is nervous about the whole thing, and at the age when sleeping in is becoming more necessary physiologically.  Getting up this morning wasn't easy.  A strong introvert, Lego Kid needs a lot of alone and quiet time to feel stable.  Being in a classroom all day with other kids may be a challenge.  Bit Boy is the one that1 day a week may be insufficient for.  At 14 he is feeling the need to stretch his legs and spread his wings.   He's ready for some independence from his family, even if he isn't ready to do what someone else tells him all day. But he too likes to sleep in, and like his brothers, is used to having lots of time for his own projects.

Well, we'll just have to see how today goes for them.  As for me, I'm back from my little surgery and going to bed for a bit.

UPDATE (8/27/12)

All the boys had a fine day at their enrichment program.
On a scale of 1-10:  Hot Dog rated it a 9, Lego Kid gave it a 7, and Bit Boy an 8.
All are back today, after only a minor bit of whining from Lego Kid who last night called it the "enragement" program, and whined about having to get out of bed before 8 am.

I have been able to get some appointments in, like the 2 radiation treatments I have today.  So, so far, it's a win/win.  Or at least an acceptable draw.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

School shopping!?!


My kids are trying a pseudo school this year, a one day a week "enrichment" program.  They each have 6 classes, each class with it's own supply list. Most of it is basic school stuff, but some of the classes (like art, music, and cooking) have extra supplies that go above and beyond normal expenses.  It turns out that's a lot of stuff.

OMG.
We spent $200+ on school supplies.
How do families do this every year?  It's a pain, it's expensive, and it's so wasteful.

Now, we have a good supply of basic school stuff stashed in our closet.  Usually I shop the clearance sales at the end of August/beginning of September and get plenty of whatever we might use, and I get it for pennies.  Because the kids (justifiably) wanted their supplies when school started, and because school starts 6 weeks (!) before summer is over, I had to buy the things on their lists now.  Before the sales.
Man, it kills me to pay full price for things.

Oh, and they each need their own stuff.  3 x 6 x EVERYTHING.  Homeschooling we, you know, SHARE.  So one set of water color crayon$ is enough for everyone.  Also, we make do.  If we don't have the exact thing we thought we wanted in our supplies, we look at what we do have and make it work.  The teachers had very specific items on their class lists.  By specific I mean down to the band name of the proper type of crayons.  Not kidding - no off brands for these teachers.  All that adds up.

Did I mention that this is an enrichment program?  So all this expense is on top of our usual costs.  The program itself is funded through the local school district, which is desperate to see if they can recoup some of the losses they've had from all us homeschoolers not putting out kids in school.  I get that as a public school they are underfunded.  I get that.  I wonder if they get that most homeschoolers are underfunded too, as most of us are living on one income.  (or less in some cases)

Hmm..  I think this is yet another example of why/how homeschooling is easier and cheaper than most non-homeschoolers realize.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

If Mama ain't happy...

... Ain't nobody happy.

You've heart that one, right?

Is it true at your house?

It's true at our house too.  Not in the "Mama's pissed and she's after your butt" way, but in the literal, if I'm not well, no one else is either way.

Seriously.
It seems absolutely impossible for my family to be happy and cheerful if I'm sick.

Ah, that seems kinda sweet, doesn't it?
NO.  It's not.
It's damned irritating, and sometimes totally dysfunctional, especially when Mom is truly very ill and needs everyone else to step up while she's down.

I noticed this before my diagnosis.  If I was low, the kids were low, and nothing got done.  If I was sick, you could bet the mortgage that at least one kid would spend the day complaining and asking "Do I have a fever?"  Before my diagnosis I chalked it up to my skewed perception when I was low or sick.  The family wasn't really taking on my symptoms, it just seemed like it to me because my view point was skewed while I was low or sick.  I was over sensitive.

But this last year I've had lots of opportunity to test the theory that every person in this house takes their physical and emotional cues from me and every single time it's tested, I'm right.  On the weeks I get chemo, suddenly everyone else feels a little off, queasy, tired, out of sorts.   What ever my physical or emotional malaise is, it is mirrored in my family.

When I don't do house work, it just doesn't get done, even if I lay on the couch and try to micromanage from there.  It just doesn't happen.  When I'm well and can pop up and say "Time to clean" the same micromanaging works just fine.  "Hot Dog - pick up all the nerf darts.  LegoKid put all the legos away.  Bit Boy, you vacuum."  If I'm on my feet and smiling, this all gets done with a minimal amount of griping.  If I'm down, it's like I'm speaking a different language.  If I'm too tired to do laundry, very little laundry gets done.  Yet, if I am well enough to start it and ask for help, suddenly - Boom - lots of hands helping and it's done.

The cure for this is  - what?  I know.  Don't get sick. Especially, don't get a life threatening illness that requires medical treatment that is also life threatening.  Stay cheerful no matter how you feel physically.  Don't let them see you sweat.

Uh.  No.  I can't do that.  Damn.  I wish I could.  But thems the breaks.  I'm going to be in, and recovering from, cancer treatment for a while yet.  I can't help but feel bad and tired sometimes.
I've talked with them about it, but only FireLord is really mature enough to see the pattern.  Even seeing the pattern isn't enough to change things.  So we'll just have to all muddle through together.  Hopefully at some point soonish I'll be getting stronger and be able to be more consistent in my energy and health.  Until then, well, don't look to closely at the dust bunnies, eh?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Look what I found today!

Spiked Math Comics

Cool.

Books for Sensitive Young Readers and Read Alouds

My kids have always been more sensitive than their peers, and I don't know that I mean that in a good way.  There are some Disney movies we have yet to make it through because Disney offs the mom in so many.  That's too much for my kids.  In books they could take a little more, but still, it was sometimes hard finding books that engaged them but didn't leave them whimpering or refusing to finish.  Lego Kid read only non-fiction for years.  It was a real challenge to find fiction that both engaged him and that he could tolerate.

This came up on one of my lists today.  I'm glad to know it's not just my kids.  Here's a list of books of good books for young sensitive kids.

Personally vouch for these:

Winnie the Pooh,, by A.A. Milne - ok, anything by A.A. Milne
Milly Molly Mandy, by Joyce Lankester Brisley
The Teddy Robinson Story Book, by Joan Robinson
Twig, by Elizabeth Orton Jones
Puck of Pook's Hill, by Rudyard Kipling
Reward and Fairies, by Rudyard Kipling
Kenny and the Dragon, by Toni DiTerlizzi
The Dragon of Lonely Island, by Rebecca Rupp
My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahm
Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel (pretty much anything by Arnold Lobel)
Little Bear books, by Elsa Holmund Minarik
Henry and Mudge books, by Cynthia Rylant
Freddy stories by Walter R. Brooks
The Zoom Trilogy, by Tim Wynne-Jones, illustrated by Eric Beddows
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Five Children and It, by Edith Nesbit
The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary (actually the whole Ralph S. Mouse series is good)
The Rover Adventures, by Roddy Doyle -warning, these are pee-your-pants-funny and have low brow humor that my 5 yo boys loved.  I loved them too.

Recommended from the list, that I may check out later:

Moomin books
The Adventures of Nils
Homer Price
Centerburg Tales
Hank the Cowdog series
Uncle Wiggly stories
Faraway Tree series
Willow Farm books
Children at Green Meadows
7 Day Magic, by Edgar Eager
The Enormous Egg, by Butterworth
Homer Price, by Robert McClowsky
Time Warp Trio series, by John Scieszka
The Borrowers
 books  by Dick King Smith
books  by Thornton Burgess
books by Enid Blighton
books by Robert McCloskey
stories by Joan Aiken  (The Necklace of Raindropos)

And in case I missed something here is Pauline's List.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yellowstone!

Whee!  We just got back from a fabulous road trip to Yellowstone.  We met up with family, a cousin and her kids that stair step in with my younger two. It was planned, and reservations made, well before my cancer diagnosis, and I'm so glad we got to go, slipping this trip in between chemo treatments.
Here was something that I remembered from my first trip to Yellowstone - Bison always have right of way.



Yellowstone is a magical place to me. I've been there at least 3 times before this, and each time is different and special.  I was looking forward to seeing it through my kid's eyes, but mostly they were full of excitement and sillies because they got to meet up with some favorite cousins.  It's wild beauty was a bit lost on them.  :-D

Old Faithful just after noon
When you go to Yellowstone you will see a lot of this-  crowds around the most popular sites.  You'll have to put up with typical tourist behavior, but it's worth it to see things that just don't exist anywhere else in the world.   Don't miss the famous spots just to avoid the crowds, just get up early.

With just a little effort you find treasures that will make it your own special place.  My cousin did a little hunting and found a place where a hot river met a cold river and made a warm bathing spot.  Although this "hidden" gem was one we had to share with many other people, it was one of the highlights of our trip.






And if you are willing to just walk for 10 or 15 minutes on a well beaten trail, you can suddenly find yourself all alone, with not a soul in sight, surrounded by wild flowers, and the big blue Wyoming sky topping the vast horizon.

Of course, if you venture on to the less traveled paths, you have to be willing to deal with what you find there.  On this walk it was a couple of male bison on either side of the path on our return.  Despite one teen's great desire to get up close and personal with said bison, and much discussion on how one should best retreat from a charging bison, we discreetly choose a different path back to our car. 

 
The Bison on the path not taken

Monday, July 9, 2012

Silver linings on an f'n big cumulo nimbus

Cancer comes with some unexpected blessings.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not glad I have cancer.  Treatment sucks.  It is barbaric and cruel.  (For an unblemished read of cancer treatment check out "Memoir of a Debulked Woman")  I hate having to think of the very real potential of my kids growing up without me.  And I despise what this has done to me and my family.  This is not the childhood I wanted for my kids.

I would never wish it on anyone, and I'm not the sort the believes "everything happens for a reason".
I think random shit happens and we just have to deal.  In my case there's a family history of breast cancer, so I guess it's not so random.  But I still have to deal.

My way of dealing is to bitch and moan, whine and complain, and then try to make the best of it.

Making the best of it has included:

Making an effort to do fun things with the kids when I'm well enough, things we always "meant to do" but hadn't gotten to.
Being surprised and enlightened at the friends who've "stuck" and the ones who haven't
Being amazed and humbled by the supportive community we have
Getting to spend time with distant, but beloved, family members
Having a bit more time to read and watch movies
Enjoying mindful moments with my kids
Not worrying about how to pay for living until I'm 90
Fun play with  my hair that I would have never tried with out knowing that I was going to loose it all
In prep for the first hair loss I bleached it and dyed it pink.  Really, really, pink.

It grew back in between treatments, I call this Buddhist monk look

 
It started falling out again, so Firelord had some fun with it before he buzzed it for me.






Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Not really writing much

I know it's been a long time since I wrote something for real.  It's not that I don't have anything to say.  I have a lot to say, but either I'm saying it over on my caringbridge site, or I'm too tired to get it down here.

I could write about our recent quick jaunt to Breckenridge, or about the crazy hot weather and insane fires in Colorado, including one that has  had our house smokey for weeks, even though it's miles away. (And what it's like to have a kid with asthma with this terrible air quality)

I could write about how my illness and treatment have affected our homeschooling and parenting.

I could reflect on similarities and differences between this and the serious health issues my own mother dealt with when I was a child (and continues to deal with today).

I could write about my opinions on ObamaCare, and health care in general, especially in light of my ongoing experience in the medical system. 

I could write about how pain undermines your ability to stay sane or get anything done. 

I could write about how having our foster care kittens has been a blessing, even if it is a bit messy.

I could rough out an idea I have for a poster I want that demonstrates the relationships between Fibonacci numbers, Pythagoras triangle, and Lucas numbers. (Which also reminds me of a vocal exercise my choir did... a bit random, I know)

Oooh... I could post pictures of our foster kitties.  Now that would almost be worth the effort.

My goodness.  There's so much to write about, but instead I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Social Justice Book lists

One of the things I enjoy as a parent is ensuring that my children integrate our values into the whole of their lives.  I just found a great book list that will help me do that.

Teaching for Change has some wonderful chilldrens' book lists that promote cross-cultural understanding and social justice.  I recognize many of the books listed here, and look forward to reading some new finds.

Go check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April's Books


Ah... how nice to have had some time and energy to read some books this month.  Maggie Stiefvater is always wonderful, and The Scorpio Races didn't disappoint.  While at least one of the stories in Places I Never Meant to Be was disturbing enough I'd rather not have read it, I'm glad I read the other stories.  The bibliography of What the Dormouse Said gave me lots of more children's books to explore.  Steve Jobs was a fascinating peak in to Silicone Valley as well as into the mind of an intensely creative and driven person.  Make the Bread, Buy the Butter had so many good recipes I may need to buy it, or at least check it out again.  Suck Your Stomach in... had much less healthy recipes, but a lot of humor and southern insight.  The Kazdin Method didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but 1 dud out of 7 isn't bad!

Friday, April 6, 2012

March's Books

Nope. Not too many books this month. I'm afraid health issues have distracted me from our normal routine.

Bodies of Subversion, by Margot Mifflin
A Big Little Life, by Dean R. Koontz

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Steamboat

One of the silver linings with this new health diagnosis is that I don't feel very guilty about a few indulgences. Since I can't get too far from home for the next few months, one of the indulgences we are looking into are weekend getaways for the family.

Last weekend Firelord got us a condo for a couple of nights in Steamboat Springs. The condo didn't cost very much more than a hotel room, and we got to have an extra bedroom for the kids, two bathrooms, and a kitchen to cook in. We didn't ski. Not only was I not up to it (having had a minor surgery the day before) but they hadn't had new snow for over 2 weeks, and the slopes were icy. Not great for inexperienced skiers.

So if you can't ski in a ski town, what else can you do in Steamboat? If it were summer, we could have had some amazing hikes. If it were summer, we could have camped! But, it's still winter up there, and I'm a weather wuss (no winter camping for me). So we checked out the Old Town Hot Springs. Lots of different pools and hot tubs made this visit worthwhile. Had we had more time and energy we would have come back 4-8 pm when the big slides were open. After swimming (wading for me since I wasn't allowed to get the surgical site wet) we went to lunch at Jonny B Good's. The food was generous servings of basic diner food, but the milkshakes were excellent. Walking around town, our find was the Steamboat Hat Shop.

A camera, kids, and a hat shop make for no end of fun.

When he first saw this hat/scarf combo, Bit Boy exclaimed "Poor Ewok!" :-D

It was lovely to have some family time while I'm still relatively healthy feeling. Steamboat is now associated with fond memories.
Hot Dog cried when we had to leave " Can we come back here again? When can we come back?"
"Yes, sweetheart. We can come back here again, soon."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wasn't expecting this

I have no idea how to write this post. I thought long and hard about whether I should even have this topic on this blog. But here's the thing. This is my blog. It's about my life, which is all of one piece. I have another blog, where I put recipes, but that's for my convenience. In Blatherings and Bothering I write about what I'm thinking and experiencing, what I care about or get worked up about. Now I've got something new I'll be thinking about and experiencing, caring about, getting worked up about. It'll be affecting all aspects of our lives, including, maybe especially, homeschooling. So. I'm going to share it with you.

(Breath in. Breath out.)

I have been diagnosed with StageIIIA breast cancer.

Let me tell you, it is not something you ever want to hear - a diagnosis of "malignant cancer". I've spent plenty of time crying, even more time planning and preparing for the coming Year of Hell. I'm not ready. I will never be ready for this. But. Ready or not. Here it comes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

January's Books


Wow! Finally, a really fun reading month.

I forgot how much I like Terry Pratchett. If you've got kids try reading Wee Free Men with them.

The Hunger Games trilogy is sheer crack. Once Bit Boy convinced me to read it (and I got the library's Nook Simple Touch it was on out of his hands) I blew threw it in days.

If you have a 10 year old boy, Lego Dude highly recommends Sir Givret the Short. I recommend it for any age. :-)

And, by the way, we have entered the 21st century. This year we have e-readers: 2 rooted nooks, 1 Kindle Fire, and 1 Nook Simple Touch. For the money, and as an e-reader, I recommend the Simple Touch. As an android, the Nook is pretty nice. I'm still enjoying my Kindle Fire, but it's the most work to get books on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Journalism, it's not what it used to be

I got up this morning, let the dog out, did my little exercises, and turned on the computer. I checked my email, the weather, Facebook, checked my favorite blogs for new posts, and activated my Pintrest account. I'll read the local paper with my morning tea, and listen to NPR when I drive into town.

Where do you get your information these days?

Once upon a time there was a countable number of news sources. When I was a kid the entire country watched the same 3 network TV stations. My entire state watched the same local UHF station and the same PBS station. There were 2 newspapers (out of Denver), and a handful of radio stations we could listen to. For local news we called a friend and gossiped.

Today there is cable TV, digital radio, and (cue big voice) The Internet. The internet is a game changer. Absolutely anyone with internet access can get their message out there. You could use a desk top computer, a lap top computer, a hand held android or even just your cell phone to post. If you don't have those, access to a public library will do it.

So how did you choose to get your information this morning? Newspaper? Radio? TV? (cable or broadcast?) WorldWideWeb? If you're on-line, what site did you choose for your sources? BBC? NPR? Washington Post? Washington Times?

There is no longer a countable number of news sources. Every blogger is a journalist. Every person who posts a comment on a site is reporting their experience and opinion. Every person can now be a journalist. What does that mean?

It means that we now have a lot of information to sort through. The good news is that there is no reason to remain ignorant of just about anything. Yet there isn't enough time in the world to follow everything of interest or concern. How we choose, individually, to sort through it will be skewed by our own bias. What we see will skew our bias. We each now have a responsibility to search out information that challenges those biases.

I'd be interested to know - How do you get your news? Are there ways you challenge your own bias or seek out contrary news sources?