Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Homeschooling in the Mainstream

We just started reading this new book about homeschooling by Millman and it's interesting. My first impulse was to think that it would give homeschooling some street cred and make it more acceptable to the masses, and truth be told it makes a lot of great points as to the merits of homeschooling and the problems with conventional schools, but in the end, it's still just a story about a family's decision to educate their kids. It's about a choice, and one doesn't need to justify one's position to make themselves feel better about their decision. You have to comfortable with it just for it's own sake. Does that make sense?

Either way, my first impulse was to show the book to everyone and say, "See!" But after reading it, I realize what a waste of time it is. People just don't want to be lectured, and we don't feel the need to be vindicated for something we believe so strongly in. Such is life.

Today we are heading out to Hanover to see a play, the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, and I have to admit that I am not looking forward to it. It's going to be crowded, and filled not only with rowdy and mannerless school kids en mass (when they're together in large groups it tends to get crazy), but probably lots of people, which is never a good thing. I'm sure the kids will have fun, and we might even see people we know and like, but you never know. Still trying to coordinate a meet with the M's, but I'm never sure what's going on with them. I sometimes get the impression that AN might be mad at me.

Actually, I should call CH and see where she stands. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, September 29, 2008

So Mysterious

For the life of me I can't figure out what's going on. Our homeschooling paperwork was all lost in the mail, both the year-end portfolio and the curriculum for next year. The conspiracy theorist in me would say that someone or something is out to get us. After all, how could two separate pieces of mail get lost? Either way, can't cry over spilled milk, I have to get the stuff to the office before my perceived deadline of Oct. 1. I'm still not sure if that's the real deadline, but I've put this off long enough. I want closure on my administrative obligations so we can get on with our lives. These are the sort of things that drive NHerites crazy, but I don't think state oversight is such a bad thing.

Somehow there are good homeschool vibes out there, but don't ask me why. Seems like homeschooling is just gaining more acceptance outside the extreme religious fringe, which is a good thing, though I'm always struck how religious homeschoolers can be. The whole concept of homeschooling just seems to be in the air, and it's going to come up I'm sure during this election as both Obama and Palin have commented on it.

Otherwise, things are good. R's parent's are gone, we miss them a lot, the kids have said as much, but our lives are gearing up for the next season and there is so much to do rather than sit around and pine or mope. A started horse riding and she loved it, and she made a new friend, H. We're still trying to find N's' thing, but I think he'll come around and try the horses. He needs to find his own thing. Still pondering the swimming and have to contact J and C at the pool.

The school part has been going well, though it's a struggle with N. He just can't sit still, though he clearly can grasp what we're trying to learn, i.e., he can most definitely read, he just doesn't always want to assert himself. In a school setting I'm sure the teachers would crush his spirit and dub him with an attention problem, which is ridiculous when you realize he's sharp as nails, just not keen on exerting himself and focusing. Oh well, we'll keep working at it without pushing him. He does like the math, however.

We saw CB two days in a row and when I spoke to the B's she said what she always says to me, that they're too busy and wish they could slow things down. Now I never know what to make of what AB says because I get a sense she's trying to live up to some expectations on our part. It seems like she's not wholly comfortable with some aspects of their lives and tries to somehow cover them up, which makes me uncomfortable because it doesn't matter to me. Either way, I'm not sure if she's only saying that to cover for the fact that we never hear from them now that school is in, but no matter. The kids got together and had fun, and CB was the nice sweet girl that she always is.

Which brings up an interesting concept, and I can't help but think of all the parents who overschedule their kids because some of them, a great many I believe, just can't handle quality time spent with their kids. They don't know what to do, so they do whatever they can to farm them out. I'm not saying that's the case with CB, because her parents are great, but it is with a lot of parents. They are uncomfortable being alone with the kids, and either find an activity, take them somewhere, or turn on the TV. It's tough.

Parenthood is tough. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Busy Parents

We were eating at Boloco and a friend of ours whom we haven't seen in months, if not a year, stopped and talked to us. I'm sorry to say that I didn't recognize her for even a moment, but it was a striking conversation. She is a younger woman married to an older man (much older) who is going to school where he teaches. They have a young daughter, about five, who they are scrambling to farm out. They can't find a place where they can park her for the eight or nine hours that it takes her to go to school, and I'm guessing he's a traditional dad who is absent from his kids lives, locked in career, and perhaps too old to have the stamina.

It really struck me how little time they must spend with their kid, and how when they do, they probably have trouble connecting since they spend so much time apart. Two things she said made a huge impression on me. First, that the mom's education took precedence over her time spent with her daughter, and second, that she justified her time away from her child by ensuring a solid financial future for her when she got older, even inserting the idea that they couldn't afford to send her to a good private school once she got older unless she became a lawyer.

Well, to all of this, I have a few thoughts, of course. First off, and I think very few people embrace this or even acknowledge it, but I would argue that any and every child, at least when they are young, would value time spent with mom or dad over any material object, especially money. It's ridiculous to think that you can compensate for your absence by buying your kid off, but many people take this approach.

Secondly, the idea that things will get easier is ludicrous. School is the easy part, once you become a professional, especially a lawyer, you'll have even less time. It's really an exercise in self-absorption when you work to further your career. How much is enough? It's never enough, so you keep working harder and harder, neglecting your family even more, spending more time apart.

Our friend even commented on the difficulty of finding a place to put their kid for a long enough duration so they could get what they needed to get done. This is where she placed the phrase, "Mommy's education is priority." I guess in the end I found the whole discourse sad and depressing, mainly for the child. Here's a kid who never gets to see her parents, and when she does, I'm guessing they're too busy to spend quality time with her. Law school has a way of doing that.

Children, in the end, are the victims of our selfish and mindless pursuits. They need a family, and when you get down to it, we all need our families, but of course we take them for granted in the pursuit of the American Dream. Not that my words would, or should, change the way people do things. I don't expect people to agree with me, but I am struck by the state of the world. Family really has been relegated to the backseat of the car of life.

Our friend also mentioned another of our friends, whom we haven't seen in ages, and there seemed to be more bad news. Apparently they're going through a rough period because mom is going to law school and dad is too self-absorbed to be responsible at home, making mom's job all that much harder. I can see it, I know him well enough, he's the archetype male, self-absorbed and unable to cope with hardship in a mature manner. It's one thing to whine, but not dealing with life and making your wife deal with it, on top of all her hardships with school and all, is going a bit too far. Maybe it comes from being a spoiled kid growing up, but as a father, you really need to step up and deal with your duties. You owe it to your family. Not that she's such a saint in all this, she's a bit wrapped up in her own future, as well, and once she becomes a lawyer, her time with her kids will more than likely dwindle down to zero.

Family, what's become of it? It makes me sad, though even more resolved to be there for mine. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Grandparents Back Home

We had a wonderful visit from my in-laws, on so many levels. I couldn't help but think that it gets better each time, and even JR commented on how they feel less and less like guests and more like this is a home. We managed to have a good time just hanging around and doing not much of anything, and still enjoying ourselves. I think the key is my being able to hang with RR while R and JR and the kids can go out and do things. And do things they did.

Luckily we managed to find fun things for them to do, and things the kids would enjoy, as well. In the end, we ended up with not enough time, which I take to be a good thing. Even RR said four days wasn't enough, and that's huge. I think RR enjoys being here, he can relax and be outside, and if they ever took the time to experience the community, I know they'd enjoy it.

Best of all, both JR and RR look to the barn as a house they will live in, and that is pretty much all we can ask for. The clincher was when RR commented on the fact that he likes taking showers, and then the doors opened up and he took active part in the plans. I think he likes the idea of it all, and the wonderful thing is that JR can realize a dream of having her own house, complete with decor and personal touches. Not sure how DR will react to it all, but such is life.

PD played it well by meeting them and being very respectful, and RR came away from it with a very positive impression of him, which is a good thing.

So, onwards and upwards. We'll move the house to the next step, though there is much planning and work to still do. Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Final Day With the Rs

Today is the last day, or maybe the second to last day, they're leaving tomorrow, but maybe not too early, then we can spend more time together. It has been a great visit, not only has it been fun seeing them, but they are increasingly interested in spending more time here in Vermont, either for part of the summer of maybe for larger chunks of the year. It's a first step towards maybe having them here for the long term, an exciting proposition.

I spent the day with RR doing guy stuff while R and JR took A&N out to the Vermont Store for most of the day, so not much going on in the parenting world for me. We managed to get a lot done, and it really struck me how difficult it is to get work done when you're attending to the kids. You really get a huge break when you send them off to school.

JR commented on how well they're doing in academics, and she's a adamant advocate of public schools, even though she willingly acknowledges the problems she sees in the system. She is just very defensive about the teachers that she knows, who seem to try their best but are constrained by a system that doesn't always agree with their views on education. She also has noticed that kids these days are ruder and less respectful. Do you really want your kids in such an environment? No thanks.

We'll begin horses this week, our activities are beginning to fall into place, and we're still ruminating about swimming, though I'd like for the kids to do it. I don't think N is quite there, yet. Blading, biking, and other assorted activities on tap. And still no word from CB, not that I miss her, though I feel bad for A is she misses her. Still not sure what she sees in her, but I'll leave it at that.

Will probably try to connect with CH and the M's at some point. Still debating about the HS group, though my understanding is that it has gotten large. Not sure if we quite fit in, and still don't want to make our lives home-school centric.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Week Ends

Ah, Friday at last. But what does that really mean? Had a busy day yesterday, had to make beef stew for the R's and then plan for today's meal, but it went well, everyone enjoyed the food so that made it all worthwhile. Then again, stew is pretty straightforward, and we used good John Madden beef, even though he didn't have the cut I wanted, it was really good meat.

Last night everyone managed to make it to contradance and they had a blast. More importantly, the kids had a blast. I felt it was important for the kids, esp. A, to get out and see their friends, and knowing IS and CH were going to be there made it a no-brainer. Best of all, they were excited to see A, and she had fun. I'm glad they made it, I know R didn't want to go, she was tired and I can't blame her, but I wanted JR to also experience town life, and that's just one thing. I hope she liked it. I was ready to go myself, if need be, but took the fall and stayed at home with RR, which is always cool because we have interesting and thoughtful discourse, and I think it's good for me to attend to any needs he has, not that he needs me, but might as well if I can.

Today is RR's birthday, and I need to make hot fudge sauce and brownies, though I wanted to include the kids, but I may have to take charge and make them before I leave for the dump, where I have to take care of hazardous waste. Started up again on the clapboards and I'll finish that in the coming days, but in the meantime have to take care of domestic duties.

I've noticed that I'm the only one who is changing the cat litter. I'm not complaining, but I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed. I realize I created this situation, but someone else could come forward and lend a hand. I'm making sure A should feed the cats, even though she really doesn't want to, but can't make it optional. She must.

Found a cool riding stable, had to make the big switch but it went smoothly, though these things seem to always come back to haunt me. I think the new stable is more our speed, easier and for beginners, and Is goes there, as do other girls A's age, so it works better. A and IS can't be in the same class but they'll overlap and hopefully get to see eachother in the horse environment. I can't tell you how happy I am that Is was so thrilled to see A at the dance. That just made my day.

Rollerblading has been going well, a big hit, though we took a chance on that one. Have much to do, will have to do it. Until then, thanks for reading.

PS Trying to write at night, not succeeding!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Moving On

Okay, I've finished the curriculum, and Ruth has basically given the green light, so I can send it in and get on with my life. I've still got to get word from the state, but we're a lot further along than a few days ago. Now the dilemma of where to being writing. I've neglected Wisebread and Parenting Squad so badly, but Demand studios is calling. What to do.

Talked to SC yesterday, first time in about a year, and it was odd but good. She still has a lot going on, and her life seems to be going well, though she talked my ear off, just like old times. Best of all, we left it without a definite plan on when we'll see eachother, though I think it's in the stars. I've looked into horses, have one lined up but am interested in another if they get back to me. Tonight is contradance and if my mother in-law is interested I'd love for her to come along, but we'll see. Should call J to let her know.

My in-laws are here and it's great to see them. We have a lot of fun together, and I think the possibility of having them visit more often, if not even move up here, seems more a possibility, though I base that on nothing. I hope it works out. They arrived yesterday early evening, and we had a nice time just hanging out, though the grim state of the world is resting heavily on their minds. They made a strong case for buying an American car, which we will consider.

We'll spend the day hanging out, I've got to make beef stew for dinner and fix clapboards, move firewood, and other assorted chores. Will keep working hard, and do home school stuff, as well. A&N were very excited about the visit, and they were very well behaved at dinner, so patient and polite. Everyone is so proud of them, for good reason.

I'll send out the curriculum today, and we have yet to return calls to N's mom. Just got my contract from the Fuel Club, it's about time, but it's a crazy time and I can't fault them.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dark Days

Wow, is the world crazy, or what? I'm finding that the current stock market problems are making me depressed, and think the people responsible for this really need to get some recompense. Not only are they screwing up peoples' lives, but they will probably all walk away scott free. Time to throw deregulation out the window and take over this capitalist machine of bullshit. Let's face it, free market capitalism doesn't work, people are too greedy to make a system viable, and supply and demand might correct for the problem, but the reaction time is too long and too much damage is done before the solution is implemented. It burns me up that the same ones who cry for deregulation are now crying for the government to bail them out. And worst of all, when all is said and done, we'll simply return to the status quo, this pattern has repeated itself over the past twenty years. Sick and sad.

Otherwise, we are still hanging out in our little corner of Vermont, hoping to weather the storm. I get depressed reading about the state of the world and wish at times I could just turn off the news, but burying your head in the sand never solved anything.

Yesterday was a bust, didn't get nearly the number of things I needed to get done, but we did manage to have fun. We're cleaning up for R's parents arrival, and I needed to get a dozen things done, but managed only two. I did clean up the barn, however, and got to throw out a bunch of junk at the dump. Thankfully we have GL's car. Afterward, we squeezed in some rollerblading, and A&N have really taken a liking to it. I'm glad.

Otherwise, still working on the horses and the swimming. N has indicated a lack of interest, but I don't think he's ready, yet. A few more sessions and he's good to go. Besides, it's a way for A to meet with Is, though that might work with horses, as well. She's a hip kid, smart in the same vein as Audrey, though more sophisticated, which worries me a times, but she's nice to her.

Today I hope to finish mowing the lawn, get started on the clapboards, ponder replacing the front shingles with clapboards, finish the croquet rack, start moving the wood pile, and so on and so forth. Have to contact the horse lady and maybe even the swim lady, also need to make soup and bread for the arrival. Maybe do brownies, as well, and contact Fuel Club.

Shit, so much to do, so little time. Also need to prepare to paint the backside of the house. Until then, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The In-Laws

I've decided to take a philosophical approach to the idea of R's parents moving up here. Though I truly want them to move in with us, I obviously can't force the issue. Even still, I think things will happen as they will, and my fretting over it won't do anything to help the situation. Indeed, it will only make it worse, so I've got to live and let live. Let the cards fall as they may, because life has a way of working out, even when your ideal scenario isn't realized.

Kittens and Life at Home

I was thinking about the sacrifices that parents make for the children, or in the modern era, the lack of sacrifices that parents make for their children because they're too wrapped up in themselves, but it got me to thinking about our cats. I met up with a great deal of resistance to the idea of getting cats, I literally had to kick and scream to get someone to agree to it, and not only am I not a cat person, but I'm allergic to them. I was willing to suffer for my sins, but it meant that much to me to get them because A&N wanted them so much.

Well, it was finally agreed upon, and now that we have them, everyone loves them. AND, I haven't been too allergic to them. Actually, I haven't been at all, but I don't want to get too carried away.

It takes a lot for a person to put their kids first, and maybe the world would be a better place if parents were willing to compromise a bit of their self-interest for the benefit of their kids. I see it so much, parents who are not willing to bend and leave their kids in the background. I understand, you have to look out for yourself, as well, but kids should be given the benefit of your time and attention. At the very least, a compromise, if not sacrifice, of your time. They're only kids for a short time, and soon enough you'll realize your wish of them not wanting you around, and then all you'll have is regret. Then, of course, it's too late.

We've been using GL's car and it has come in massively handy. It gives us mobility, though I hesitate to become too dependent on it because it's not a permanent situation. Then again, we could always buy his car.

It's been a scramble to prep for Ruth's parent's arrival, but we are excited about their visit. It seems like I set out with a huge and ambitious plan to get things done, but manage to accomplish none of it. Before I know it, the day is done. It's frustrating, and I've reached a stage where I think it's best to focus simply on one thing at a time, get it done, and then move onto the next thing. There's just so much to do, and we haven't started to clean. Shit!

I've sent out the portfolio for A's first grade and hope to heck that they'll find it acceptable. Then again, I'm sure they'll let me know if it isn't, but at least I'll get some direction. Now I need to work on the curriculum, I have until Oct. 1. I've vowed to be more organized about this crap, but it's easier said than done. R has dropped the ball a bit, and I could use more help from her, but she's incredibly busy and I can't get too hung up on who does what. It just has to be done.

Trying to be social, as well. The friends are all in school and I've been scrambling to find social outlets for these guys. They've really taken to rollerblading, thankfully (another purchase where I had to stick my neck out), and I want to find other assorted activities. They are lukewarm on dance, but I think it would be fun for them.

Back to the grindstone, have to work out that barn before the R;s arrive. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Morning

I feel like I have to focus on this home schooling assessment and curriculum stuff, want to get it out this week, so I'm going to take a break on this blog until I'm finished. Should just be a day or two. Until then, thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We went to a fishing birthday, and I have to admit it was very much our speed. The kids had amazing amounts of fun taking part in what was essentially a very simple outing, and it just goes to show you that they don't need all the bull and glitz, they have fun outside. I give GS credit for keeping it simple, not that he wanted to get crazy and all.

The children really spent most of the day just playing in the water and fishing. The pond is perfect for kids, the fish bite like crazy, the launch is a perfect spot to cast, and the location is easy to find and very beautiful. I can't say enough about how ideal it is for the novice fisherman, i.e., us. Steve at Steve's bait knew just how to set us up for our day there. It helps to know where you're going.

It's interesting when you're the only home school family amongst schoolers, and I have to admit that it only solidifies our convictions to home school, but I'll leave it at that. The kids at the party were very nice, and I knew a few of them. The parents seem to mostly talk about school, the multitude of issues, and once again, it always strikes me how powerless people feel about the problems, the most significant of which are social and academic. Such is life.

Most of the kids drank root beer, but thankfully there was lemonade (not much better, but at least not soda pop) and A&N didn't have to take the plunge. The birthday girl didn't want to eat the cake that her mom made for her. There was a pinata that was impossible to break open, but the kids managed to crack it and Kimiko did a good job in choosing the filling, a mix of crappy candy and toys. The mix was the key.

The kids caught lots of fish, the presents were greedily ripped open and immediately forsaken, and we all had a wonderful time. We'd brought along our new inline skates and couldn't wait to try them out. The main problem we had was that it was hot, which made it difficult, but they did very well, A in particular. I think it's a good activity wherever there's asphalt. Will have to keep them on hand.

By five I knew we had to chase balloons, and the bummer feeling came back. It's hard to chase because by the end of the day, R and I are whipped and the last thing we want to do is work, but we're always at the ready to help GL, the guy's my hero, and the kids get a huge kick out of it.

By the end, we were ready to go home and see our kittens. It's amazing how much you can miss them. We had no desire to cook, but didn't want to eat pizza, so we made fried eggs and toast, with pear for the kids, and then went to bed.

And of course, we play with Misty and Dusty, our cats. A fitting end to a nice day.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Assorted Responsibilities

I've got so many things on my plate right now that I'm finding I'm dealing with it in my favorite, time honored fashion-by shutting down and getting nothing done. I've got to get A's assessment into the state, sooner, not later, and then get her curriculum for the next year in. I've got to do the former before I do the latter. We waited too long, shame on us, but no sense in crying over it. I've asked a teacher friend to do an assessment, but realized that I portfolio was well within my grasp. I'm thinking I'll do both, because I'm interested in seeing where A stands, but the review of her past year will be good for everyone.

We'll see how this goes. Have completely ignored the freelance and blog work, I feel it weighing on my shoulders. Just have to deal with life. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Crazy Day and the Tunbridge Fair

Thursday was a hellish day. I went to work and then we drove all the way from Hanover to Quechee, picked up the cat, drove to Windsor to the vet and had her checked, went back to Quechee to drop off the cat, then came back to Hartland to get lunch and coats for the fair, then went to the auto parts store to get GL his jump-box, then over the library to return/check-out books, then to Homestead GS to meet him for the fair, then off to the Tunbridge fair, before finally driving all the way to Lebanon to pick up R and then go home. What a crazy day, we did so much driving that I couldn't believe it.

The Tunbridge World's Fair is a big deal around here, and people from miles around come to check it out. It's a lot of fun, though some scary people show up as the lights go down. GS used to live in Tunbridge so it's his stomping grounds and he goes every year. We joined him since he's an insider and knows the gig, but with work and his daughter's school, it wouldn't be until the late afternoon, and we had many things to do beforehand.

We are getting a cat, two of them in fact, and little did I realize all that goes into being a pet owner. I'd never had cats before but I get a sense that some people get a little too into it. The biggest concern was FLS, feline leukemia virus, and not to get so utilitarian about it, but the vet recommended that we check for it before we fall in love with our cats. Kind of sad, because if they had it, the cats didn't have long to live. I was very uncomfortable with the proposition of having to tell GS that we couldn't take his cats because their days were numbered, so initially I planned on simply taking them and testing them after the fact, but we decided to check them out first. All it required was one of the litter mates, so we carted Misty off and had her tested.

Fortunately, she came up negative, but we didn't learn that until much later that evening. In the meantime, we returned her to Gary's and got ready for the fair, but not before returning our library books and stocking up on more. It's not easy finding good books for A, she's such a voracious reader, though she is moving away from chapter books with pics, so her reading options have increased significantly.

By the time we were getting ready to meet GS, we wanted to find out the test results, but since we don't have a cell phone I called R at work (the library will let you make local calls) and asked her to find out, then she could tell us later. Then off to the fair.

The Tunbridge Fair is a huge event, though I'm not sure why they call it a World's Fair. It has a ton of rides and food, but there is a huge local element that truly celebrates the area's rural heritage, and I got a sense that's what Gary really appreciates. The kids had a blast, though TS, GS' daughter, kind of ditched our kids when her best friend from school showed up. Very remiscent of CB and her Waldorf buddies, highlighting the difficulties of not going to school and bonding with one child to be your best friend. It ain't easy, and the only kids I've seen who don't ditch us are the M's.

The fair was a blast, though, and we ate lots of greasy disgusting food and saw lots of people we knew. There was a huge home-school contingent there, and I was very surprised by how may people we knew. Nice to see them once again, and made me rethink attending the UVH meetings. We'll see.

A&N loved the rides, and since TS ditched us, we managed to have fun just amongst ourselves. I don't know if it's just me, but I'm acutely aware of kids being insensitive. I just see that most parents are just oblivious. It didn't seem to affect A&N, they had a lot of fun and really just wanted to go on the rides. I felt a little bad and wanted to just leave. When night fell, we really had to leave.

The kids wanted maple cotton candy, and I cringed at the thought of it, but we managed to grab a few caramel apples, and they were happy with them. One of them dropped the apple, but the people behind the counter gave us a new one for free. Kudos to them for their kindness.

We were late to get R, and I made a crucial miscalculation in our plans. For some crazy reason I thought Tunbridge was just beyond Hanover, so my logic was that on the way home we'd stop in Lebanon to get R. Of course, being the loser that I am, it's in the complete opposite direction, and we were hours late in getting R. Fortunately, we'd planned for this, and I managed to locate a pay phone in Sharon and called her, it only cost me a dollar and the damn thing worked. We picked her up, I resolved to lighten up about the whole ditching thing, the kids had fun in the end, brushed teeth in the DHMC bathroom, and went home.

It was a crazy but fun day, and best of all, the kittens were disease free. So we could move ahead and bring them home. More on that later.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cats in Our Future

It looks like we might be getting some kittens. We went with R yesterday to GS's house and of course she fell in love with the kittens, how could you not? There are two we chose and the they seemed to be the one's that A&N found acceptable, though I have to confess their enthusiasm is less than the overwhelming response that I thought it would be. Even still, they are excited, and I think it will be a fun and rewarding experience. I've never had a cat before.

I've got the home school paperwork to GS and he said he'd do an assessment for A, and we are eternally grateful for that. I also have to get on the curriculum for next year, I have until Oct. 1 I believe, and I'm still kicking myself for slacking off. How could I be so stupid? Either way, have to focus on it, though it really infringes on my time. No use crying over it, a good lesson in life.

Still working on those activities. I'm still leaning towards horses, but I've found it's hard to get A&N to give me a straight answer when it comes to their interests. They seem so non-committal about things, and at times we have to force the issue for them to decide. Maybe I need to approach it accordingly. After all, they need to experience things before they know they like him, thus the over-scheduling phenomenon, but we don't want to go too far into that. Not a good thing.

If you can believe it, we are planning yet another vacation, right on the heels of our last one to Cape Cod. The circumstances sort of evolved to make this happen, it is highly unusual, but it should be fun. We're off to Spain and Rome, should be interesting, though my travel anxiety is bubbling up once again.

The weekend was nice, though it rained like crazy on Saturday and held up my home improvement plans. We never heard from the Big C, and though I know they're busy with school and probably every sport imaginable, I still feel a sense of abandonment now that school is in full swing and C is filled with activities, i.e., they no longer need us. I know it's my own anxiety, but for A, who loves this kid, it's harder to comprehend. Either way, at times it seems, and we're guilty of this, too, that they don't need us, so they won't bother to call. It's all so complicated, furthered by the fact that life is so much easier without.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Trying Too Hard

Sometimes my kids bust me, and it boils down to trying to be too nice and humoring them while not factoring in the reality that they are smarter and more aware than I sometimes give them credit for. Have to treat them equally like they are people, which they are.

N saw right through my act this morning and new I was full of shit, and all because I was trying to give him the response I think he wanted rather than just being myself. Another life lesson, they keep coming.

Things To Do

I'm falling behind on my home duties, and it's stressing me out. Having to do home improvement and still take on domestic duties can bring a man to his knees. It does to me. So why the hell am I wasting time sitting here writing about it?

Besides the house, I still have to bake bread and make our famous pan cookies. The bread is what kills me, it takes so much time and effort, but we love the idea of eating fresh, homemade bread, especially when it ain't bad, and it's healthy. The more I think about it, the more I am amazed at the shit we are willing to eat. You just never know what big food is feeding you, and when you can make, or better yet grow, your meals, all the better, which is why we do that.

So, I can't bitch about making bread. It's a good thing to do. If only I had more time. Weekends are best because I have help, but we also want to spend time doing fun things. Then again, we might get a visit from the big C, always an exhausting proposition for a high maintenance kid.

We've ordered roller skates to enter into the next phase of fun, and I'm looking into horseback riding. We were at the dump, the treasure trove for the frugal, and found a skateboard and a toy Dirt Devil vacuum. Bonus, N loved them. I'm thinking that skateboarding may in our future, but let's get the pads, first.

I've also been focusing more on my blog and neglecting my paid writing duties. Not a smart thing to do, even though I only make peanuts, but I'm looking at it as a strategic maneuver. More on that later.

Until then, thanks for reading.

The Week Begins

I'll say this, writing a blog takes a bit of time, and I haven't been able to attend to my glorious but nascent freelance writing career. Then again, Rome wasn't built in a day. I might have said this, as well, but I am enjoying it. It was hard at first, didn't know what to write, even though there is so much to say.

Today is Sunday and could very well be the day we get our cats. I hope they don't let R down too much, I have a lot of anxiety about it. GS is also the man who agreed to evaluate A, so I can handle that since he also has the cats. It'll be nice to see them, R hasn't seen them in awhile, and I'd like to maintain our friendship with them. I really like GS, he's way more experienced and capable than me in the ways of being a real man, but he's more on my level in many ways. Maybe it's the former city-boy thing, but he's just more cerebral and worldly. I'll leave it there before I get myself into trouble.

I mentioned on that we are back in touch with the D's because we are moving forward with the barn, but it's strange in some ways. I used to think of them as our good friends with whom we did dinner with regularly, and even after we left Waldorf we maintained a few friendships with people in the loop, but over time that has all faded, even our relationship with the D's. Not sure what it's tied to, but we operate in different circles, different worlds, if you will, and when you're not a part of their system, the Waldorf crowd can go a long way to making you feel like an outsider. They really bond on their community, even when the parents are like oil and water, and if not for Waldorf, wouldn't have a single thing in common. It does strike me as a bit disingenuous, but I'm biased.

The take home message that our lack of contact is not a bad thing, I wouldn't want to hang with that crowd anyway, but the feeling of being excluded is always hard to embrace, especially for me. Somehow it must be tied to my youth, I'm sure of it. I'm hoping it won't effect my kids as significantly.

Now that the end of year assessments are moving along, I'll have to come up with next year's curriculum, which is a bear of a job. The state GE requirements are so hard to decipher. I can spend hours trying to figure out what they're trying to say. I'll have to get on that.

It's supposed to be a nice day, I'll have to jump back into the fray of home improvement and fix those clapboards before it rains again. Looking forward to the in-laws coming and trying to find fun activities that will nudge them towards living with us. I know they'd love it here, there is so much to offer and it is so their speed. Lots of seniors here, more on a generational level, though, which makes it all the more appealing vs. just a senior center, like Quechee.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Taking the High Road

Sure, we all know about rising above adversity, or whatever you want to call it, but I did have an issue with something that came up last month. Our friends, whose children are the same age as A&N, seem to have blown us off, and I'm not sure what to make of it. Their kids are friends with our kids, they've had several playdates and we do things as a family. Granted, we haven't spoken to them in months, and maybe it's just a consequence of our separate paths in life.

Even still, we don't talk regularly and they will still call us out of the blue and we'll get together. We regularly celebrate his birthday, which coincides with St. Patty's day, and I'll do the corned beef dinner and it's fun.

I will say this, our kids are not necessarily perfectly matched, and maybe they are cognizant of this fact, but they still manage to have fun. I think. Maybe I'm just being delusional.

So here's the deal-their daughter just had her birthday and they invited other kids, I don't know who or how many, but I do know they invited some because it was divulged to us by one of A's friends. The question is, why blow off A? I admit it bums me out, if only for the fact that they are, we are, friends? Apparently, it's not the first time. Oh well, I guess we just don't rate high enough to be included, and that's never fun. I mainly feel it for our kids, but maybe they are not aware of it, or just don't care. Maybe it's just an issue that I need to come to terms with.

Okay, I've said what I wanted to say and got it off my chest. I don't want this to be an issue, we're still friends, though it will forever be weird between us, at least for me.

Why does parenthood have to be so complicated? Until the next time, thanks for reading.

At the Library

We spent almost four hours at the library, and A&N had a blast hanging with the Macks kids. I can't tell you how great it is that they can play at simple games and read books and spend hours doing it. Can you beat that?

We are lucky to have one of the best libraries I have ever been to nearby in Hanover. The only bummer part is having to be surrounded by all those Hanover types, but they come and go, off to their next appointment to ensure their kids admittance to an Ivy League. On days of story hour, however, they take over the damn place, spilling over with their sense of entitlement, and perhaps rightly so since they do live there and pay their taxes. Even still, do they have to be such jerks about it?

It's getting to be more and more of a challenge to find new and exciting books for A, though she's really made the leap to books with no pictures, and that pretty much opens up entire worlds for her. We're currently doing the Roman Mysteries, and though she seems ambivalent about the Warriors, a new series has popped up, and it may be something for her to pursue. I believe they are called the Seekers. Also doing the Dick-King Smith books, they seem like a lot of fun.

One thing that really struck me yesterday was how parents severely limit the number of books their kids are allowed to check out. One boy wanted to grab a few more and his mom completely shut him down: "No, you're only allowed to take three." What a shame. I'm not saying people should get out of control like we are, but what's a few more books. Parents should encourage their kids to read, and in the very least, NOT discourage it. Maybe TV is just a better option.

Got a CS Lewis book, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and though I don't embrace all the religious suggestions, we have tickets to see the performance at the Hop. I think the Macks will be there, so that will encourage A&N. I want to read the book to them before we see it. Besides, we really enjoyed the read aloud and have lost touch with it. Time to return to it.

Also, and maybe this is the bad parent in me, but I don't always properly screen the books, and now that we are reading more mature fiction, it may be necessary for me to exactly that. Adult themes seem to be cropping up, so intervention or explanation may be in order. Kids are a lot more savvy than we give them credit for, however.

Today is Saturday, and I'm wondering if YKW will come calling. Don't hear from her as much now that school has started, not that I'm complaining.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Everyday Should Be TGI Friday

R and I were talking the other day about how much it is ingrained in us to live for the weekends and not appreciate Sundays and hate Mondays. What a crappy way to go through life, but much in line with the way we live-work like a dog at a job you hate, then justify it all with a few weeks of vacation. Then again, it's not isolated to just work. People live their lives that way, apathetic and unenthusiastic about their everyday life, until their birthday or holidays, when life once again takes on meaning. The classic example for me is marriage. People throw lavish weddings and claim it to be the happiest day of their lives, and their marriage sucks and they get divorced.

Hmm, there's something misguided about the way we live, and it begins with childhood, what a shame. Most kids I meet, including myself, hate school, and yet they are subjected to it everyday of their lives until it simply becomes an accepted artifact of life. Resignation, if you will. What a great thing if you could give your kids the gift of Sundays and Mondays, and not dread them. That's over a hundred more days a year that they can learn to love.

That's why we home school, but I won't get started.

Now that school is in session, not as many social outlets since all the kids are in school, but we are excited about the possibilities of activities. Planning them out isn't easy, there are options and they all seem to cost money. Funny how that works. I am leaning towards swimming and horseback, and am working on getting some rollerblades to supplement daytime activities. I think the kids would have fun with them, and we don't need a lot of space, at least not at first. Even Ruth has come around to the idea, so I have to jump on this.

Struggling with the year-end assessment and next year's curriculum. Still kicking myself that we let it slide so badly, shame on us. Once this is off my plate I'll feel much better, and I'm sure the NH home schoolers are laughing at me. Actually I've even debated attending the meetings again, but not sure on that one. Good group of people, though.

I don't want this to become a standard, but our social circle has become more home school-centered now that school has started, and that's to be expected, but it doesn't have to be this way. The first few weeks of school are always a little crazy, especially since all of our friends seem to way over-schedule their kids. It's just the reality of parenthood. CH was over yesterday, and he's such an amazing kid, well mannered, super cordial and incredibly smart. The H's have done an outstanding job, both as parents and gene donors. Nice job, guys.

On top of all the family stuff, there is the home improvement stuff, and R's parents are visiting, which we are thrilled about. I wish they'd come and live with us, I know they'd love it here, but that's for them to decide. I have to plan meals and try to impress Joanne with my homemade bread. The kids would be thrilled to make them a meal of breakfast or even a pizza dinner. It's exciting, I wish they'd live with us. Life would be so wonderful, but I shouldn't build it up too much, setting myself up for disappointment.

Lots of home improvement to do, have to get it finished before Winter and the big visit. I think it's possible, it's amazing the things I'm learning. And then there are the cats! Have to get cats. It's not easy working so hard towards something I know will come back to haunt me. As I mentioned, I have met with fierce opposition to getting cats, and I'm not even a cat person. Sometimes I think my detractors are just waiting for something to go wrong so they can tear me a new asshole, and suffice it to say that something will most assuredly go wrong.

I'm willing to face the pain and suffering if it brings joy to our kids' lives. Who wouldn't? A lot of people, actually.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Having one car makes it really hard at times because we are bound to the home, or home-locked, if you will. Then again, this in not necessarily a bad thing, and A&N are very good at entertaining themselves. It encourages them to be more imaginative and creative, and they do a wonderful job of it, but I still feel bad because I know they love to play with other kids. We are currently going on day four of being home-locked, but so far it has been very good. The kids are behaving like the stars that they are.

I have been looking into the whole home-school regulation thing and feel a little better, just a little, and think it's pretty doable. My good friend, GL, is a teacher and has agreed to do the year end assessment, and I think I can whip out a curriculum in the next week. Otherwise, there are many things going on.

Today, actually, CH is coming over, and tomorrow we'll hit the town so we'll have things to do, and again, they do so well at home on their own. Sometimes I think, if anything, friends get in the way of their fun, they can't always do the stuff the love to to, like read or play imaginary games, of which they are very good.

On the cat front, we are getting closer by the minute. I spoke with GS and he has out two girl cats on the ready. R has agreed to getting the kittens, begrudgingly, and I know she's just laying in wait for something to go wrong so she can tear me a new asshole. It's stressful, because something will go wrong, no question about it, but by focusing on the negatives, it makes the situation all the less enjoyable. Something that should be celebrated and that might make the kids so happy should be embraced, I think. I know it's going to be more work, but that work will fall on only one person's shoulders, MINE. Not hers. Either way, I'm willing to deal with the stress and hardship if it's something that will make the kids' lives more rewarding and enjoyable. Besides, we live in the country, we should have pets.

Still trying to figure out our Fall schedule. We don't want to get too crazy with scheduling, but also want the kids to have activities. We're looking into horses, and maybe some music or dance. Not sure if we'll do the Sat dance thing, N doesn't want it, and A hasn't said much. I'd still like to get them into guitar.

Lots to consider, and we're not giving it the focus that it requires. Will have to deal with that on top of all the other things we have to deal with. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Capers and Blunders

I made a big blunder in trying to clean up the yard by chopping down A's little imaginary forest. I was trying to clean up so I could work in the area since it was dense with growth. I took the weed whacker and cleaned up, but didn't realize it had special meaning for her. I felt terrible, she was nice about it, but I sure did disappoint. Have to be careful where I tread.

On the professional note, I made $50 for the first quarter in Wisebread/Parenting Squad. This is peanuts, I know, but not too shabby considering that I wasn't going to make a single penny. It makes me want to work all that harder on the blog. Writing gigs seem to be more apparent, and I think it's something good to work towards.

I've been doing surveys for money, and of course, making absolutely no money. The problem is that they are mostly looking for people thoroughly immersed in pop-consumer culture. We don't watch TV, we don't have a cell phone, and we don't shop a lot. These all seem to be the criteria for qualifying, and we don't qualify. Kind of sad, but kind of glad. I wouldn't buy into that crap for anything, but it's interesting to note what marketers require. Thinking of bailing out on the whole thing since it does take time, and time is the one thing I have too little of to spare.

Airhead is Me

Man did we blow it. We are sending in our home schooling curricula way late this year, and I can't understand how we let it slide for so long. Not only are we behind in sending in the end of year assessment, but we forgot to send in the designation forms, as well. We did it last year around March, and here we are in September. Can't let this happen again. We also no longer qualify for the curricula exemption until the next two years, but these are all a bunch of formalities.

Today is Wednesday and though we had some grand plans to get out and hit the town, maybe see friends, it looks like we're home bound once again, but that's not a bad thing, the kids have so much fun doing their own thing, once again a testament to not watching TV and not having their hands held in school.

We actually got back into the school work gig and it really comes so easy for A. She is so intuitive. With N it's a little harder because he's so distracted and can't sit still, but I think the free form learning is better for his active demeanor. He does so well when he calmly sits and focuses, he is a good reader, but mostly he just wants to run and play. It doesn't seem to interest him as much as his sister, which is good because I don't sense that they compete over it.

Now that Fall is upon us, it's time to consider the year's activities, and I need to come up with a plan, not to mention an academic calendar. Things run so smoothly that they run right past you. Have to get our acts together. Considering many activities for the kids, but love the idea of horses and music for both of them, though mainly A. She has expressed no interest in competitive sports, so soccer was put on hold. N wants to wait, he has reservations for some reason, but wants to do tennis.

We're still working on the kittens, not sure how this one will work out, but I think it will happen soon. R is adamantly against it, I've had to beg, kick and scream to make this happen, and I know she's just waiting for something to go wrong, and it will go wrong, so that she can feel vindicated and tear my head off and say, "I told you so." I'm willing to deal with this dark cloud over my head if it means getting the kids a much wanted pet. I don't know why she has to be so negative, but it makes me stressed knowing that my head is on the chopping block, but again, I'm happy to be the fall guy for my kids.

There's so much to do around the house, so much to do with the family, and believe it or not, we are going on vacation once again in November. I can't believe it, but it's for real.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Good to be Home

Even though we miss the Cape, it feels good to be back. Have to begin lessons again and get my act together and report to the state. Will get to that this week, if I don't forget, and I will forget. So much to do, so little time. Still have to get our cats and prepare for Rs parents visit, which I was informed of last night. Good news.

We spent the day yesterday just hanging out, and the kids woke up, much like they always do, hitting the ground running and coming up with all sorts of projects and fun things to do. I can't say enough how creative and imaginative the kids can be, and I attribute it all to parenting the hard way, i.e., not relying on the TV or overscheduling. I know this may seem counter-intuitive, but I really believe that hyper-scheduling your kids is the easier way out, it takes the responsibility of dealing with your kids out of your hands, versus spending time with them, one-on-one, and having to pay attention and answer their questions or engage them.

Either way, when A&N wake up and start up on a project, it makes me reluctant to force them to do workbook stuff or even eat and brush their teeth, they are so engaged and I want to encourage that. And, if you can believe this, it actually makes your life easier when you parent the hard way, at first.

This applies to all aspects of parenting, from cooking to raising them to entertaining them, even going on vacation, but more on this later. I'm still developing my thesis here.

Otherwise, things are good. Have to set up the Fall schedule, here. What to do, what to do. Want to get the kids their kittens before they're too old, a nice way to establish a home routine. We liked the idea of horses for the kids, and A will probably do dance and some art thing, but we'll see. N likes the idea of tennis, not so into dance, and I think they should both get roller blades. Could be fun.

In terms of friends, A is still enamored with SB, even CB is fully integrated into her own social network with school and I know that at any given moment she will completely bail on her. It's heartbreaking, but such is the life of kids.

Horses, cats, dance and music. I think the kids would benefit from all of this.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back From The Cape

We're back from our vacation and getting back into the swing of things, never an easy thing to do, but it feels good to be home. The ride home was a little brutal, for some reason it seemed longer than usual. The trip back generally is much shorter for me, but this one had a bit of a bite. Traffic out of the Cape is hell, and though we left early and on a low traffic day, we still felt the pain. Don't know how people deal with it and would love to find a way around it.

The Cape was a blast, and again, we would all like to make it a regular thing. I'm going to surf, and the kids are going to learn. There, I've said it. Now it's in my mind and it's something to look forward to. I've already hit the board design sites and am planning my next board, though I can't be hasty. I've got a few big purchases coming up, the least of which is a chainsaw.

The best thing about the trip was as I mentioned we got to spend a lot of relaxed and fun time together, with little or no planning. This helps not only financially, but I think the time we spend together is that much more fun. How many families really just hang out and do nothing? I think about the whole over-scheduling thing and how families just can't sit still. There is ample opportunity in the Cape to find activities, and maybe that's what vacation is all about, but besides the expense, it seems to result in a lot of nervous energy and an inability to sit still and just listen to the sounds in your own head.

I'm not espousing on a better way, just a different one. I think kids do benefit from having quiet down time, as do adults, and the whole system is designed to suck up not only all your time, but it requires huge expenditures of money, not to mention time spent in your car, which sucks the life out of you, as well as gasoline spent. Maybe people should just stay home and play with their kids doing simple things, and whatever you do, don't turn on the TV.

Today is Monday, Labor Day, and even though it's a holiday, we'll get back into our normal routine. Fall is in the air, school is beginning, and you can feel it. The leaves are beginning to change and I can feel the subtle melancholia settling in on me.

We are working on getting some kittens for the kids. I think pets would be great for the kids to feel more settled during the school year when school starts again, a way to feel good about being at home, and I think pets are a good thing. R has been resistant and I completely understand, but I've stood my ground and she seems to have come around. Of course, I'm setting myself up for the big fall, as soon as something goes wrong, and it will surely go wrong, she will have my ass in a sling, but such is the life, and it wouldn't be the first time, nor will it be the last. I just hope the cats don't destroy the house too much. I think the kids will be thrilled... I think, or should I say, I hope.

I have more thoughts on the Cape and family vacations in general. Until then, thanks for reading.