Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Back to School. Sorta.

Posted: August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

So y’all know we’re unschoolers, right? To me, the most important aspect of being an unschooler is following the learner’s lead and needs. Radical unschoolers disagree and insist that no workbooks or structure or expectations should be placed on a child, but I don’t do dogma — I do what works for my family. And yes, I will continue to call us unschoolers, even as I have now begun to use traditional resources for the boys.

 Noah is one subject away from meeting my graduation standards: algebra. He argued vehemently against this, but I figured if the Commonwealth of Virginia holds it as a minimal requImageirement for its special ed students, he should have no problems with it. Weird hangup I’ve got, I know, but there you have it. In the meantime, Noah convinced me that perhaps he doesn’t need a complete algebra course for Real Life. And so I have conceded a bit and am putting together an algebra/consumer math hybrid for him. I’m madly learning about music royalties and business math in preparation for teaching him. Someone, shoot me. The joys of home education!

At least I found a pretty good algebra text that incorporates a lot of real-world application. Wish me luck. The most challenging aspect of this, actually, is not the math itself but rather the consistency required of me in sitting down with him to do the work. I’ve become dangerously laid-back.

Aengus, OTOH, has reached an age and stage in which he is craving a bit more structure. Not sure if he knows that yet, but Mom can tell. So we had our “first day of school” here in the ‘Hood yesterday.
For new visitors: all you need to know is that Aengus, now eleven, is completely unschooled, having learned pretty much everything he knows from playing games. We began a structured reading program last year when he became distressed that he did not yet know how to read. This is very, very common among unschoolers, and I had utter faith in veterans’ testimonies that unschooled kids pick up reading very easily on their own, but at a much later age than schooled children. I was fine with that; Aengus was not. So he has a little experience with workbooks, but not much.

So we saImaget down at the dining room table (WTF? All these years and I still equate structured learning with sitting at a desk. Must work on that.) and proceeded to “do school.” For now, this includes just his reading, a little handwriting practice, and math. But the math is new and exciting: geometry! Purists will tell you that unschoolers get geometry through living life, just as they get everything else. And they do, eventually.

But Aengus wants to feel like he’s being taught something, so I’m using a workbook that Noah once used and which I love for its real world relevance. We had fun working through the first pages together, and the map they used for teaching types of lines gave us the opportunity to get out the globe and run off on a geography tangent.

And workbooks or no, THAT is what unschooling is about.


Ahhh . . . Tha’s Be’er

Posted: August 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

After beating up my face massaging my sinuses last night and drinking diluted apple cider vinegar, I’m feeling much more like myself today. I’m still congested, and I can feel the pressure mounting again in my sinuses, but at least I have more energy — ’cause I got shit to do!

Closer to my usual, perky self (no comments from the peanut gallery!)

Up for today: harvesting our shamefully overburdened peach trees, taking Noah and his girlfriend (Shelby, for you noobs) to a movie, taking Shelby home, and taking Aengus to his bff’s house for a sleepover; cleaning the wreck that is my kitchen; shredding then freezing or baking all this frigging zucchini; then a manicure and facial ’cause it’s True Blood night!

Last night, while I was trying not to whine about my sinuses (I’m such a pussy about pain, even after giving birth without drugs), I was cheered by two of my favorite sounds in the universe: Noah and Shelby, being affectionate and laughing together while playing Super Mario; and Aengus, laughing hysterically while playing Halo online with his bff. There’s just something about your child’s laughter, isn’t there?

Now, to work. Wish me luck as I make my first attempt at using a neti pot. :6

UPDATE: After the neti pot:

Well, a neti pot isn't glamorous, dainty, or at all girly to use . . . but it works!

In Which I Am Too Sick to Post

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Not a pretty sight when I'm sick.

On Friday night, we finally made our way to my parents’ boat for the first time in far too long. As my parents’ marina, Parkside, is a bit too quiet for kids and lacks a swimming pool, we motored over to Mears Point Marina in Kent Narrows on Saturday morning.

We enjoyed the two hour sail, but were glad to dock the boat and turn the A/C back on! To me, motoring on the Chesapeake means something like a roller coaster ride; my dad’s boat during my childhood was an 18′ runabout. But my parents are lucky enough to now have a boat too large for those pesky waves to toss it about too much. Aengus complained about the rocking of the boat; I thought it wasn’t rocking enough!

We enjoyed the Mears pool on Saturday and walked around the island a bit. We were treated to a seafood dinner, and Aengus learned how to eat crab. I learned that I do NOT like those clams that have penis-like organs sticking out of them.

I don’t care which ones they were — Littleneck or Cherrystone or whatever — I’m never eating clams again. They had the texture of the muck at the bottom of the bay. Blech!

Aengus and I taught Grammy how to play poker, and Noah played his guitar for us a lot. We also watched several movies (it was too damn hot to stay outside long) and went boat shopping. 🙂 I’ve decided on a trawler style, at least forty foot long, but it doesn’t matter to me if there are even engines in it. I’m happy sitting at the dock, music playing and drink in hand. ❤

I had been really looking forward to taking Noah to Red Eyes on Sunday because they had a band playing that I thought he’d like — and because Red Eyes is legendary. It’s such a popular bar that they need parking attendants and bouncers on Sunday afternoons, for crying out loud. Sadly, they also enacted their usual nighttime over-21 policy in the afternoon, too, and we couldn’t take the kids in.

So we did some more walking around, had some ice cream, and went swimming again. Later on, Grammy stayed on the boat with the kids while my dad took Jason and I back to Red Eyes for their weekly bikini contest. (Locals: Did you know the cover charge is up to $10 a person?!)

Oy. It was like a giant frat party. And I am too old (and too overweight) to immerse myself in that nonsense. So we rose above it all . . . and sat in the air-conditioned second floor of the building, while all the scantily-clad, drunk young’uns whooped it up outside. It was perfect: we had a great view but none of the heat or nonsense. The contestants danced like strippers (and several claimed to have children, but I can’t imagine they’ve given birth). It was all very low-class, so of course I was drinking beer. But the emcee was hysterical and totally made it worth the cover charge. I’d love to bring Noah and his friends back for his 21st birthday.

Monday came too soon. We had a wonderful lunch on our way back across the bay (excellent cream of crab soup), then packed up and headed home. The Wild Cherry is for sale, so who knows if we’ll have another weekend like this. Captain Jerry’s been doing this for thirty years, though, so I suspect he won’t be long without a boat.

Once a sailor, always a sailor.

I may not move my blog around as much as a dear friend does, but still . . . it does seem like I’ve been a bit of a vagrant since my Xanga account was hacked. I lost my blogging groove (which was tenuous to begin with) during that transition period, and I only blogged a few times over at Blogger. I didn’t care for it much, so here I am at WordPress. I’m hoping this is the right ‘hood for da Hood. Bear with me as I find my way around the place.

For those who are new here, I am a full-time mother (yet staunch feminist — ponder the irony) in the asscrack of Virginia, known on your map as the Shenandoah Valley. I’m originally from Amish Country, so I was shocked to discover there are lamer places in the world than Lancaster, PA. Waaaayy lamer.

The boys in this Hood are my sons: fifteen-year-old Noah and nine-year-old Aengus. Oh, and their dad, my husband of (gulp) eighteen years, Jason. I sometimes forget about him.

Noah attended a year of half-day public kindergarten in Pennsylvania but has otherwise been homeschooled since he was four years old. His passions are music, playing video games with friends, music, his girlfriend (Shelby, my bff’s unschooled daughter), and music. He’s funny and quick with the snark, smart, can find a way to do just about anything against the odds (and the rules), and is incredibly musically talented. And once he gets past his teenage nastiness, I think we’ll be great friends again.

Aengus, on the other hand, has always been unschooled.  Never attended school or church a day in his life. He’s obsessed with his Xbox but still loves to run and jump and play outside. He’s incredibly competitive (something we’re trying to rein in without squashing altogether) and enjoys any game that comes his way. He frequently makes games up . . . the only problem being that the rules generally favor HIM. In fact, I think I’d call him GAME-schooled: most of what he’s learned so far has been thoroughly and completely through games. In a word? Aengus is . . . tenacious.

I’m a former kitchen designer whose passion was custom cabinetry design. My secret life’s dream was to be a Disney hotel designer, and I may return to that one day. Now, though, my dream is to take my family to Europe. Or, lacking their interest, taking off on my own for points east and coming back only when I’ve tired of all that history and culture. Screw ’em.

This blog is my record of the boys’ education; that is, where I try to translate what they’ve been doing into traditional educationese. I’m not as successful as some other bloggers, but I hope that non-homeschooling visitors will at least get the general idea. What I do is simply tell y’all what the kids have been doing, injecting the text with correlating academic topics, then tagging the post with the relevant school subjects. You’ll get the hang of it.

I think that’s enough of an intro to get you started. You’ll pick up everything else along the way, I’m sure. Here’s your song of the day, a musical version of my introduction: