Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin is VP Nominee!

For those who don't know yet.
I was going to hold my nose and vote for McCain, depending on his VP. My enthusiasm has gone up considerably.
Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, mother of five, former beauty contestant and sports announcer.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What is "homeschooling"?

There has been some discussion over here on what homeschooling is. Now, it doesn't seem to be that difficult to figure out, but then even presidents have had trouble with otherwise obvious definitions. I'll offer my two cents here, because this is my forum. We'll start with what it's not.

Homeschooling is not... helping your child with homework assigned by someone else. Even if it's done at home. That falls under the category of good parenting, not homeschooling. It doesn't matter if this work was assigned by a regular teacher in a typical school situation or enrichment work from an extra tutor. Not homeschooling--it's parenting.

Homeschooling is not... work done with you in addition to a regular student work load during the typical school year; I think the term coined for that is "afterschooling." Note the difference in spelling. AFTER =/= HOME.

Homeschooling is not... done just for the summer. If Labor Day rolls around and you bounce your merry bundles of joy off to somewhere else for six or seven hours a day, you aren't homeschooling. I would call it "summer-schooling."

Now, all of these are valuable practices. They do tell your child his or her education is important and you as a parent are involved. Those are good things and worth anyone's time, but they are not homeschooling.

Homeschooling is when parents take the reins for their child's education and are the main, if not sole, arbiter on what is taught, when it is taught, and how it is taught. The parents choose the text, the method, and the schedule. If they don't think cursive is important, they don't teach it. If they want their children to spend the year learning all about of the bugs they find in the backyard and park instead of global warming, they do.

And Mom and Dad take the flak for it. They don't have the teacher to blame, or the poor curriculum, or the time taken out for standardized testing or the ridiculous necessity of teaching to said test, or the administration that doesn't recognize the genius of their precious angel. Mom and Dad do. Mom and Dad have the labor of figuring out if their child is ready for fractions, or why their eight-year-old isn't reading, or how to teach composition to a six-year-old, or Latin is going to be more confusing for the one learning to read than enriching the one who's two years ahead in reading. It's Mom and Dad, all year round.

See the difference? Mom and Dad. Nobody else. That's what makes it homeschooling.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two neighborhood stalwarts you don't think of.

When we first moved to this house, I was emphatically distrustful of the neighborhood. You see, it's in my home town and it's in the "wrong" end. I knew it was a "bad neighborhood." Then I heard of someone who was afraid to have Netflix for fear they'd take them out of the mailbox, and I realized we're not that bad off.
To be honest, it's not perfect. There are more rental houses than I'd like, and they are not always occupied. I've learned, though, that there are perfectly good reasons to rent homes and not all renters do thousands of dollars of damage before the eviction is final.
Then I started meeting some people. I heard the boy across the street admonish his friends for swearing loud enough for me to hear it. Another family was quite friendly; their sons sure had enough friends in the yard on a regular basis.
We have boys who come around and offer to cut our grass or rake our leaves. In the winter, they come to shovel our snow. I don't remember much of that in my "old" neighborhood; I posit the kids were all well-compensated by their parents and didn't have to resort to their own initiative for some cash.

Then there's Bob. Bob is our mailman. He knows my kids. Maybe not their names, but then again, as often as Neema sends them letters, he probably does. Get this--he holds them until he has all three and then delivers them. It's easier for him to hold them in his truck, frankly; it spares me of hearing, "When is mine going to get here?"
Another neighbor has derided him as a gossip; she doesn't like her mail arriving as late in the afternoon as it does because he's jawing with someone on the route. I don't care. He knows who belongs where and could bring my children home if they were out wandering without permission. When you think about all the things your mailman knows about you from the return addresses, you want to get along with him. Add to that the fact that he knows that same stuff about your neighbors, and how often he's walking around your neighborhood... he's a fixture you don't notice. He told me he's called the cops on guys he knew didn't belong.
I want a mailman who's a gossip.

Another person you don't think of as "neighborhood" is, strangely enough, the ice cream man. Ours is Mr. Z. You don't think about it, but he has his set route and again, he knows who goes with whom and where they belong. I've seen this guy sell $1 worth of ice cream for $.75, because that way the two kids could each have their own. He carries dog biscuits in his truck and he's a regular in the late afternoon, almost evening. You know, just before dinner? My kids are trained to put theirs right in the freezer and they don't have long to wait. It's wonderful. He waves to my kids on days we don't buy, besides.
Earlier this week, we were out for a walk when he was coming around. Another neighbor and I were chatting, her from her van and me from the sidewalk. A man we'd never met before was in front of a house with his (I later learned) niece. This unfamiliar man offered to buy ice cream for all of the kids, a total of five.
Since he was buying from the trusted Mr. Z, I was okay with this, but I did later go over and introduce myself. I filed it away as Something to Tell Daddy.
Today, when Mr. Z came around, the kids had money from Neema so we saw him again.
"Do you know that guy from Tuesday?" he asked.
"Never saw him before in my life. That was a little...." I made a squinty look. "Wasn't it?"
"Yeah, it was funny. He's only been there about a week and a half."
I know Mr. Z doesn't have kids of his own and he works at the local schools--a substitute teacher and coach. It was reassuring for me to know I wasn't the one that was off by a stranger buying my kids ice cream.

This has turned into a longer post than I thought it would. I just am grateful to be back to normal, with everyone home and breathing... and eating ice cream.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In case you didn't know

Eight-month-old babies and Oreos are a very messy combination.

And almost-seven-year-old sisters are too generous for their own good.

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Advice I've been given

If I could keep these concise statements in mind, my world would be a whole lot better. Not to mention if I'd known the truth of them when I first heard them, I might not have needed them...

When my dad proposed to my mom, he said, "It won't be easy, but it'll never be boring."

My sister, with whom I have very little in common, said, "You don't get to choose what your kid needs therapy for."

St. Teresa of Avila said,
"Let nothing disturb you;
Nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting to whim who possesses God.
God alone suffices."

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Monday, August 18, 2008

This doesn't look good.

And we thought the Vulcans were the first to visit us.


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Friday, August 15, 2008

Another reason to like the Science Center

Madeleine was supposed to attend Science Camp this week at the Detroit Science Center. We encouraged her to attend last summer but she fought it saying, "I'll go next year."
Daddy and I held her to that. She wasn't excited about going but chose "If You Build It" as her theme week. It helped that a friend was going. As it drew closer, she got more excited. "I wonder what we're going to build," she wondered to me more than once.
I filled out the paperwork. More than once there were reminders about no refunds; I can imagine why.

Sunday dawned and she knew the next day she was going to Science Camp.
Then asthma attacked.
Tuesday afternoon, before she was released from the hospital, the doc broke the news that there would be no Science Camp. She needed to take it easy and would be on "house rest" until the week after.
She sobbed into her bed, heartbroken.
I wondered what the possibility of getting a refund from the DSC would be. I mean, camp was supposed to start Monday; we were asking on Wednesday. I would think a hospital admission would be grounds, if anything would be. What could it hurt to ask?

Daddy made the call. When the director called back, she informed him that yes, a hospital admission and doctor's orders of staying home would be quite valid reasons for a refund.
It was credited to our bank account today.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Irony, n.

I thought it would be easier to just sit down and watch a movie instead of trying for naps. We were late getting having lunch because of the followup appointment at the doc's. I sweetened the deal for them by promising them their own bag of popcorn, and told them we'd start the movie when they'd each selected two toys to donate.
What could possibly go wrong?
Deciding which toys took fifteen minutes, since they--one in particular--were more interested in confirming toys to be kept.
Then came the popcorn. Mercifully, Madeleine took charge of that; then we started the movie.

With popcorn comes drinks and movie pausing. With drinks comes pottying and more movie pausing. With each movie pausing comes an adjustment of seating arrangements. Times three children. Louie got hold of someone's bag of popcorn and flung it about, spraying popcorn over a three foot radius and more movie pausing to sweep the mess up.
The movie's not even half over and I need a break from my break.

What's the irony? The movie I had chosen.
It's A Wonderful Life.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

She's home now.

Madeleine was discharged yesterday in time for dinner at home. We have instructions of albuterol treatments every four hours, even through the night, and regular testing with a new device called a "peak flow meter." I called this morning to make the followup appointment with the doc and they informed me it was already made for tomorrow morning. Now that's service!
She's missing her week of Science Camp, much to her tear-streaked disappointment. Thus we have busted out our 150 Great Science Experiments or other things that involve baking soda, vinegar, and balloons.

I'm going to be busy pampering and coddling. Light blogging ahead.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

My big girl is at the hospital.

Madeleine started wheezing at her cousin's birthday party this afternoon. It sounded worse than it has in the past, so I just asked my sister for her nebulizer and all.
For about half an hour, maybe 45 minutes, all was well. Then it returned just as bad as before.
We stopped on the way home to get a Frappuccino; Daddy remembered getting coffee when he'd have attacks as a child.
Her nighttime medication didn't kick it, either, so Daddy took her in.

She had an hourlong treatment (of what I don't know) and they X-rayed her lungs. They're keeping her overnight on oxygen and an IV (she threw up four times from their stuff). They do anticipate her coming home tomorrow (Monday), I think.

Daddy's with her.I know others who have left babies alone at the hospital, and Madeleine isn't alone, but this is my first time.
Frankly, I'm terrified. Since we've got a pretty good praying contingent, can I ask that?

Second verse, same as the first.

UPDATE 8/11/08 9:25AM: They're keeping her until tomorrow as her lungs don't look as clear as they'd like. There's an in-room DVD player so she'll be watching Princess Bride, Holly Hobbie, and whatever else she wants ad infinitum.
Thank you all graciously for your prayers.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

I've gotten some garden advice.

We like the green beans idea. The kids like them; I have to admonish more than once in the grocery store that they can't eat them until we pay for them.

The chives and oregano we use, too, so those will be on our list.

Then I asked the kids.

Madeleine: "Can we plant roses?"
Me: "I guess so."
Hmmm... how about these? I know I said no climbing roses, but I also know there's a reader out there who's dealt with roses. Right? Help?

Dale, thinking with his stomach: "Tomatoes. And lima beans, with a fence around them so Lucy doesn't squash and kill them again. And can we do eggplants?"

I wonder what Rachel will come up with.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

How does our garden grow?

I've had a "temporary" attitude about this house we've been living in for seven years. I haven't measured the kids against the wall, recording their heights at each birthday. I've been reluctant to plant anything in the fall with the idea that we won't be around in the spring to see it bloom.

Well, with the housing market in shambles, one good thing to come out of it is a sea change in my mentality. Looks like we're going to be here a while; may as well make it how we want it.

I'm thinking garden in the back yard. We don't have much space but the kids are mostly outgrowing the toys out there; the need for something neat to investigate is starting to be felt. A neighbor growing up had wild grapes along the fence line; that was Dagobah for our Star Wars figures. The nearby raspberries were pretty good, too.

Now, the stipulations. We don't need to grow for food, but I have no problem with it. I don't want anything that requires daily maintenance--every other day would be better. My experience is bulbs--dig holes, put them in pointy-end up, cover, and wait. I can handle something a little more complex than that, but not much. We have plenty of sun out there as well.

I don't want anything that's going to take an enormous amount of space, like pumpkin vines. Climbing roses without a trellis become almost as vicious as the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, so I'd just as soon skip that. I'm not looking for a corn field, either; more something the kids can watch and weed. Rewards to the stomach a bonus.

So, Gentle Readers, what should we put in our back yard?

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How much is your next child worth?

Danielle Bean's coffee talk this week took a decidedly unChristian turn. I admit I only read through the comments after she'd posted about closing them and I turned to my beloved with my thoughts.

Very, very, very few of us reading blogs as a pastime have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. We live in the richest country in the world with one of the best safety nets for families. I know there are those on third-generation cradle-to-grave welfare; they probably aren't reading this. And you know what? If they weren't taking a handout from the government (and yes, taking something that you haven't earned is stealing), they'd find another way, I'm sure.
But those aren't the folks I'm thinking of. I'm thinking of those who limit their children so they can provide luxuries for the ones they already have. To have only a certain number because of things (and lessons are things) puts a dollar value on the child you don't have.
"We wouldn't be able to afford [insert modern "necessity"] for more than the two we've got!" Congratulations. You have just put a dollar value on human life. What is it? The cost of those ballet, horseback riding, soccer, watercolor, swim, fencing, or karate lessons.

I know someone who manages to feed her family of seven on less than $80 a week. SEVEN. Yes, and that less than $80 includes baby food, formula, and diapers. They have gotten help from the government and she hated it, every second. But they remain open to life. To tell them that any one of their children is a burden to society, or they should trade so they can afford more stuff, reduces the value of that child to a dollar value.

Which is about as unChristian as it gets.

UPDATE 8/7/08: Since I've gotten the okay, this is the brave, creative, imaginative woman from that last paragraph. She's "the other Heather" of note around here. And, while two of her children are babies and don't eat much, her budget does include diapers. Their fourth child was born at roughly 26 weeks gestation; their fifth was conceived less than four months later.
A mutual friend has said, "When I grow up, I want to be her."

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The inevitable has finally happened.

Madeleine has learned that American Girl dolls exist. I knew it would happen at some point; the ads are prevalent on the webpages I frequent and she is frequently over my shoulder. That and a few friends have them. (No, nobody has more than one, but more than one friend.)
"Mom..." *blink* *blink* " that... a Kit Kittredge doll?"


Now we need to answer the question: Under what circumstances, if any, does a child get a $90 doll? Yes, I've heard about the knockoffs, but it's not the same. The hair is cheap, according to reviews.
A defense I've heard kind of makes sense if space is a consideration. If folks are on a budget, they will only get one or two items instead of a bunch of stuff, which means less to store. Okay, maybe that's a rationalization, but it sounds good, right? Another "good point" is it would be easy for the next few years to provide a gift list.
That doesn't change the fact that this is a $90 toy. We--my brother, sister, and I--were all in double-digits before we got such a thing; it was an Atari 2600 that we all could use.

And what do we do about Rachel? Does she wait until she's 7? What if she doesn't want one then? What if she wants one now?

Ah, the joys of parenthood. I really want to dump this on Santa, you know?

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Well, I didn't get the job.

I'm both disappointed and relieved, more the former than the latter. I'll probably still be watching the show when it debuts; at least I won't have that uncomfortable "Did I really say that on camera?" feeling. I was one of the final ten, as was the other Heather. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
When talking with my beloved before, I admitted to being nervous about the whole endeavor. He said, "What's the worst that could happen? You don't get it. So what?"
I told him, "No, the worst that could happen is that I do!" Another lesson in, be careful what you ask for. You might get it.

On a slightly positive note, this was one show on a startup network. They noticed they had a contingent of homeschooling mothers and would like to put together a show based on that premise.
Now, I'm only one person and even within the group, we were only about four. How many different topics can you think of? Different homeschooling philosophies, for sure--classical, Charlotte Mason, unschooling. Comparing different curricula--Kolbe, Seton, Mother of Divine Grace, etc. How to get started. Dealing with your local school district. Transitioning to home from school. Breaking the news to others. Socialization.
You know, they could probably look over a convention list of topics and go from there.
I think such a show would be better if it were more like Web of Faith, where we answer emailed questions (since the show wouldn't air live). Of course, that could be once a month like other shows have their flashback episodes.

What do you think, Gentle Readers?

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Friday, August 01, 2008

"You give love a bad name."

Oh, the irony. How appropriate for this guy. The songs just keep coming.

"It's My Life." "I'll Be There For You." "Bad Medicine." "Who Says You Can't Go Home."

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