Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Directions

I restarted my personal blog today, leaving behind Bedlam and moving in an entirely new direction.  To anyone who still receives updates from this page, if you previously enjoyed reading  Bedlam or THA, feel free to join me at Not Your Traditional Man Cave.  I hope to see you around the web!   

Monday, July 16, 2012

It was the Creepiest Children's Book I've EVER Read

It was the creepiest children’s book I’ve ever read.  Ada brought to me “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch, and asked me to read it to her last night.  It started out well enough.  A young mom rocked her infant son in her arms while telling him, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”   The phrasing was a little awkward, but the sentiment was fine.

At age two the boy was a little terror, pulling books off of shelves and flushing his mother’s watch down the toilet.  I thought, “Yeah, I get it.  I’ve blogged about stuff like that.”  The still young mom snuck into her son’s room and held him while he was sleeping, rocking him in her lap while repeating, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” 

Fast-forward seven years.  The boy was nine years old, and she was still creeping into his room to hold her sleeping son.  And then again at age 15.  I thought, “This is getting a little strange.”  This lady was on her hands and knees, creeping into her teenage son’s bedroom to hold him while he was sleeping.  The smell alone would keep most parents out of their teenaged son’s bedroom.     

Turn the page, and the boy was a young man moving into a home of his own.  The middle-aged mom was now driving across town in the dark, a ladder strapped to the roof of her car, so that she could sneak into her adult son’s bedroom, sit on the bed, pickup her sleeping adult son and rock him in her arms while reciting, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”   

I thought, “Cut the apron strings, lady.”  This was more than a little weird.  This guy must have been hitting the bottle pretty hard to be sleeping through his mother’s B & E and never waking-up while she held him.  The old broad must have been seriously strong, too, as her son was twice her size!   If I were him, I’d have a taste-tester check my breakfast cereal in the morning.  The old gal was one syringe away from Munchausen Syndrome by proxy.

The story continued to show the elderly mother calling her son for a visit because she was quite ill.  The adult son went to his mother, held her in his lap while rocking in a rocking chair, and recited back the poem his mother told him.  Then he went home, went into his sleeping infant daughter’s room, and rocked her in his arms, telling her the very same words that he had just spoken to his mother.  

I’m hoping this guy got therapy, and soon, or his adult daughter will be calling the cops because some old creepy guy on a ladder will be trying to break into her room at night to hold her and recite poetry while she sleeps.   This is why we still need the second amendment. 

As I finished the book, Ada squealed, “Go back to the page about the toilet.  That was funny!”   


No damage done.

Tonight, I’m burning my first book.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Wish There Was a Little Warning

These are the days that test my soul.

These are the days that age me a week in an hour. They make me feel old.

These are the days where I question what it is I am doing each day, and the effectiveness of my efforts. It is April 23rd, and we are 122 lessons into the math year. There are only eight lessons and two tests remaining before my daughter’s first grade math year is completed. Today, my daughter still cannot remember that any number minus zero is that number. Friday, she could. Today, she cannot mentally add or subtract by one. Friday, she could. Today, she is guessing at everything.

It doesn’t help that she’s easily distracted. I just gave her a number line because she needed to add “0+9” and that completely baffled her. I told her to put her finger on “zero” and count nine numbers to the right. She got lost somewhere around three. Frequently, she forgets to stop counting at the number she’s adding. In the course of the past few minutes, 0+9 has equaled 14, 16, 11, and 12.

I started to write “29-10” on a small, hand-held, dry erase board, and before I finished writing she asked if we could write on the other side of the board. Why? Because the idea passed across her mind, and anything that passes across her mind must also pass between her lips.

It’s a rule.

That makes attending church a real gamble.

She also decided that she had to color in the circle portion of the numbers 6, 8, and 9. Since her coloring skills aren’t that well developed, she’s obliterated every number she has attempted to color.

We’re doing a lot of rewriting.

Just shoot me now.

In the course of this prolonged math assignment, I gave her a bag of interlocking counting blocks. The girl started correctly counting blocks, snapping them together, and completing math equations.

Who knew?

I wish my children came with a sign that gave me a hint of what’s in store for the day. I’d like a warning that my middle child is going to drag his feet about starting even the simplest of assignments, and that my day will be filled with embarrassingly flimsy excuses, such as, “Oh, I didn’t know if you wanted me to open my plan book.” That’s why it took an hour to start a cursive writing assignment. I’d like advanced warning that the key to completing the day’s math lesson will be allowing my daughter to count mini marshmallows, even if that means I have to run to the store to buy them. A hormonal-meter on my teenage son would be helpful, too. It would be nice to see a little red needle pointing to “Irrational and Grouchy” when he climbs out of bed so I won’t bother to insult him with unwelcomed pleasantries such as “hello” or “good morning.”

'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

I’ve been homeschooling long enough to know that there are days like this.

I just wish they came with a little warning.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Linda Can Still Pull My Strings

She does this to me because my friend knows that there are some stories I absolutely cannot let pass by without comment once I’ve finished banging my head against the kitchen table.

Linda sent me a link to a Fox News Insider article about a classroom teacher who made her fourth grade students become pen pals with a then accused (and now convicted) rapist who is serving a fifty year sentence for molesting a girl under the age of fourteen.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Fourth grade students are 10-11 years old. Their innocence concerning the depth of human depravity has been shattered by one of the adults they should be able to trust: their teacher.

This didn’t happen in a public school. It happened in Houston, Texas’ Trinity Lutheran School, a Missouri Synod Church school. It happened without the knowledge of or consent of the parents of these students or the school principal.

It just shows that private schools are not always the best resort when one is dissatisfied with their local public school system.

These children wrote letters that included their “full names, [a] description of their appearance, and their favorite things to do.” If there is one thing that child molesters are good at, it is grooming a potential victim by gaining access to them. The odds are that the creep in question will never again walk the streets of Houston as a free man, but nonetheless it is stunning that access to children by a child molester was facilitated by a teacher in a Christian school!

When man falls from Grace, he really falls from Grace.

It will take a lot of alcohol to erase the image of what this cretin might have done with those letters while alone in his cell. Luckily, the letters were discovered and removed from his possession. Parents have been notified. The teacher has been fired, and the principal placed on a paid leave of absence.

So, hug your children a little tighter when you put them to bed tonight, and take comfort in the knowledge that your choice to homeschool your children is the best defense against the stupid, thoughtless, and dangerous people who slip through the system and gain employment in our nation’s schools.

I’m off to find some Excedrin.

I have a headache.

Friday, February 17, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Sometimes life has a way of getting in the way of doing what you love. Though I LOVE to write, and have experienced a great deal of satisfaction from writing for this blog, trying to juggle full-time employment and homeschooling a 2nd grader has made it impossible for me to find the time to write. My own lack of time, combined with Arby's desire to get back to "family blogging" has brought us to the decision to discontinue our collaboration on this blog. The blog will not "go away"...there are articles here that I hope people will continue to stumble on and enjoy. But there won't be any new posts for the foreseeable future!

I hope to return to it again someday.

Arby and I have greatly enjoyed our blogging partnership over the last couple of years. For me, the best possible outcome of two years of blogging with Arby is the friendship that has been forged between our two families! It's been a joy to share this blog with him and to get to know him better. He's a man of great humor, and even greater character.

Thanks, Arby for being the best blogging partner that anyone could ever ask for! Hope to see you and The Boss again one of these days! There's a Portillo's Italian Beef here with your name on it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blog Contest Winner

Congratulations to Jill Schwarz!  Jill is the first (only, and last) winner of a blog contest here at The HomeSchool Apologist.

Jill, send me an email so that I can forward your email address to Lakeshore Learning.  They will send you a link for a free download from their online catalogue.

I hope you enjoy your selection.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A CONTEST! (after a brief product review)

Captain Chaos’s new favorite math activity is making a talking pig say, “Oops, try again!”  She giggles, and then tries again.  Who can blame her?  The pig is funny.  It’s a character found in a math game on the Lakeshore Learning Material’s computer based Interactive Calendar Math program. 

I was recently contacted by Lakeshore Learning and offered the opportunity to review any educational software title in their catalogue in exchange for a review on this blog. Normally, offers such as these go straight into my virtual trashcan.  In 4 ½ years of blogging, this is the first such offer I have accepted.   I did so because we need to shake up our homeschool curriculum.   We need variety in how we present concepts.  We need presentations that area good fit for Captain Chaos.  The girl simply cannot sit and write out an endless series of workbooks and worksheets as found in our A Beka and Saxon math curriculum.  We are turning our attention more often towards computer based learning.  That’s where Lakeshore Learning Materials enters the equation.  (I slipped-in that math reference for The Boss)
Interactive Calendar Math is a program for the first and second grades that teaches calendar concepts on a customizable classroom calendar, allows students to practice counting money as they drop coins into a talking piggy bank, practice skip counting with an interactive hundreds chart, and even write and solve their own math equations. There are also daily math problems for children to complete.   Each section is brightly colored, easy to read, easy to use, and has a button so students can check their answers. The skip counting page is customizable to your child’s favorite color. 

The first thing my kids did when they discovered the perpetual calendar was to check the days for their birthday this year, next year, and each year forward until they collect social security.   Well, okay, it really stops at 2030, but if you’re still homeschooling first graders in 2030, you have bigger concerns than running out of virtual calendar space.   By far their greatest discovery was the money counting page, where they must drag and drop coins into a talking piggy bank to equal a predetermined value up to $2.00.  If they get the correct combination of coins, Wilbur rewards them with a hearty “great job!”   If they miss, they are treated to an “ooo” face reminiscent of Gary Larson as the pig says, “Oops, try again!”  For some reason, neither my first nor fourth grader can manage to get a single money question correct.  But they have loads of fun!

We are still exploring this program’s uses, but I like the skip counting page.  By selecting any one number between 1 and 10, the 100 number chart can be highlighted to show counting by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, etc.   The page is colorful, and I can have this handy visual aid on a laptop on the kitchen table, which saves me from the trouble of decorating my kitchen in an early American classroom theme.    Educational posters clash with my cast iron collection. 

There are two flaws in the program.  The first is in the instructions for each section.  They cannot be turned off, so you have to find and click the “X” in the dialogue box the first time you use a feature each visit.  If you flip between features without exiting the program, you will not have to repeat this step.   I hope that this is corrected in future versions.   When I first looked through the program, I found myself asking, “Is this all there is?” But honestly, I have no idea what I would add. Using the virtual pencil to write numbers is challenging for little fingers, but I count it as OT.  I do recommend this program for anyone looking for variety in their daily math instruction.  It is available in CD ROM or download for $19.95.  The download is fast, simple, and easy to use. During the month of February there is a buy one, get a second half-off sale.  It had to be, because I made it work.    Lakeshore’s website even has a Free Resources page that is loaded with material we have yet to fully explore.  It’s well worth your time to check it out!
Now comes the contest part.  If you leave a comment on this blog post, I will enter your name in a drawing for a free software download of your choice from LakeshoreLearning Material.   Share this drawing on your blog and I’ll give you a second entry.  You can get another entry by sharing the news on Facebook.  Send a link for each additional entry to The deadline for entries is Thursday, February 16, 2012, at 6:00 p.m. CST.  I will put all the names in a hat and draw a winner.  I will post the drawing results on Friday’s blog (the 17th).

Good luck! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Homeschool Myths Debunked

Some of you have probably seen this, but if you haven't, you HAVE to watch!! I haven't laughed this hard in a long time!

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Prayer Request for a Homeschooler

I’d like to ask everyone for their prayers this morning. 

Michelle, a homeschooler who writes over at Eagle EyeAcademy, had a niece in a bad car accident last week.   Bailey broke her clavicle and pelvis in three places.  Last week she had surgery to repair her pelvis.  Doctors inserted one plate, eight screws, and external hardware.  Yesterday, Bailey had surgery for her clavicle.  Doctors inserted one plate and seven screws.   This young lady has a long road of healing and physical therapy in front of her. 
Michelle will be on the road to Iowa from the west coast in order to help her family.

Please say a prayer for Bailey’s recovery, for guidance for her doctors and nurses, for strength for Bailey’s family, and for Michelle’s safe travels to Iowa.  I will keep you updated on Bailey’s progress as I receive news. 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year

Arby was standing at the stove cooking dinner, listening to the sounds of the kids playing in the living room, when the house became deathly silent.  He heard General Mayhem say, “Oh, Captain Chaos!  Oh, Captain Chaos!  I am SO sorry!  Are you okay?”  Captain Chaos wasn’t answering.  It was one of those parenting moments when you have to choke down the rising panic, force yourself to remain calm, and face the unknown.  Our source of perpetual sound and motion was silent.  As he turned from the stove, Captain Chaos walked into the kitchen, walked directly up to her dad, and held out her hand.  He reached out, and she deposited her two front teeth in his palm.  Flashing a bloody smile, she said, “General Mayhem kicked my two front teeth out.”  Then she threw her arms straight in the air and shouted, “YES!”

You read that correctly.

Our little girl had her front teeth kicked right out of her mouth and she was celebrating.  If her teeth were a football she would have spiked them.  Apparently, while play fighting, General Mayhem performed a front snap kick at the exact instant that Captain Chaos leaned forward.  He claimed he barely touched her teeth with his big toe.  The resulting double extraction was fine with Captain Chaos.  She hates “wiggly teeth.”   Both were already loose.  General Mayhem saved her the effort of playing with them until she could pull them out with her fingers, something she did earlier in the year with a lower tooth. 
That’s our boy girl!

Captain Chaos charged into 2011.  Last January she walked into her bedroom, saw an Eveready CR2032 wafer battery on the floor, and thought, “Hey, that looks good enough to eat!”  Why did the Eveready CR2032 wafer battery look good enough to eat?  We’ll never know.  The girl isn’t saying.  We’re just happy that she told her mom after she enjoyed her snack.  That gave the ladies an opportunity for an extended ambulance ride while the driver became lost and took them to the wrong hospital.  Captain Chaos enjoyed three days at Children’s Mercy and a procedure to remove the battery that was lodged in her esophagus.  Blessedly, the battery was dead, so it did not discharge in her body.   Two months later, at her annual cardiac exam, Dr. Drake told her he had read her recent medical history.  “What did you eat?” he asked her.  Tired of lectures on what she should and shouldn’t put in her mouth, Captain Chaos dropped her chin to her chest and replied with equal parts resignation and disgust, “A battery!”  
And we always thought it would be one of the boys who kept us visiting the emergency room.

2011 was a busy year.  The Boss travelled more last year than any other year in her twelve years at TRAC.  She started a second Masters Degree program, because you can never have enough degrees.  She’s studying geospatial information systems through the University of Denver.  For the first time in a decade Arby understands what she is talking about when she speaks of work.  That’s because he understands the word “map.”  The Boss also started an American Heritage Girls Troop. The boys have Boy Scouts.  We wanted a scouting experience for Captain Chaos.  She loves it.  AHG is a Christ centered girl’s scouting program “dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community, and country.”   Their first meeting was held in September.  The troop filled to capacity on the first night and has been very active this fall.  Between work, school, and scouting, The Boss has been very busy, so she suspended her karate studies. 

General Mayhem’s feet made it to the end of 2011 without causing any more trouble.   It was during the summer of 2010 that his big toe and its nail parted company on a water slide at General Mayhem’s Ark water park.  The new nail required more real estate than its predecessor, so it grew in.   The subsequent infections required frequent trips to the podiatrist.  His foot finally healed last July, after he repeatedly soaked it in warm Epsom salted water in hopes that he would be healthy enough to swim in the hotel swimming pool on his Space Camp trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston last July.   Honestly, some parents have to talk to their teenagers about safe sex.  We have to talk to ours about safe toe.  General Mayhem started his freshman year of high school last August.  He advance to Life Scout in Boy Scouts, and became his troop’s Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.  He’s looking forward to testing for his Black Belt in Karate this March.  It’s been a long journey.  He started the martial arts when he was in the first grade.

Major Havoc’s favorite memory of 2011 was fishing with Grandpa Mares in Wisconsin.  Major Havoc loves fishing, a trait he did not inherit from his father.  Arby fishes like his dad. That involves maliciously drowning live bait while pre-battered fish jump into the frying pans of fishermen a few feet away. Major Havoc will catch fish with anything on hand, including string tied to a stick or to a soda can.   He’s done both last year.   Santa brought the Major his first fishing pole in December.   Major Havoc became a Webelos I in Cub Scouts last year, and enjoyed camping with his den.  He’s still studying Karate.  He tested for orange belt in December.    The results will be announced soon.

The biggest change at home last year was in our homeschool.  We added Captain Chaos as our third fulltime student last fall at the same time that General Mayhem started his freshman year of homeschool high school.  Teaching three at home changed the dynamic, but this is our eighth year of home education.  It gets easier each year.   Last year, Captain Chaos spent half a day at our local public school taking art, computers, gym, and music classes along with her therapy.  Some of them were successful while others less so.  She had to learn that she could not vigorously shake the computer monitor in computer class when it wouldn’t talk for her, and that she shouldn’t exit programs with which she was bored. She was quite adept at getting herself kicked out of gym class, too. Captain Chaos is fun to work with.  Her learning style is a lot like General Mayhem’s was at that age. Major Havoc is at the point of the school year where he has completed some of his third grade work.  He will start fourth grade math, spelling, and vocabulary after the holiday break, which effectively makes him a 3 ½ grader.   General Mayhem is working hard in his course work, and still prefers learning at home rather than attending our local public school.

It was with a bit of sadness that we ended the year without George, aka The Big Fuzzy Rock.  Our 11 ½ year old husky/lab mix spent a great deal of his life curled-up and asleep in the back yard.  He developed an extremely bad case of arthritis that left his hind legs paralyzed.  Properly medicated, he was bright and alert, but walking was a real drag.  We made the difficult decision to put him down after Thanksgiving.  George was a good beast.   We added George to the family when General Mayhem was four.   It was General Mayhem who named George weeks before we knew whether the next dog would be a boy or a girl.  “What will you call the dog if it is a girl?” we asked him.  “George,” he replied.    After George’s departure, our black lab Reggie immediately claimed her spot as canine queen of the household and chief chicken herder.  We still enjoy our flock of birds.  

2011 was a year filled with blessings.  We hope that yours was, too.  We hope you had a very merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.  We pray your life will be filled with God’s blessings. 

Arby, The Boss, General Mayhem, Major Havoc, Captain Chaos, and 2nd LT Henry Flipper