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Eclectic Thoughts from a Homeschool Mom » 2007 » August

Can someone explain Male Stubbornness?

August 30th, 2007

My husband’s Grandpa is stubborn. Granted, he is in his 70’s and entitled to be set in his ways. I don’t mean that here. He has a heart condition. He has a little machine in his chest that “kick-starts” his heart when it beats irregularly. That’s an important piece of machinery, don’t you think? Something that vital to life would need to be serviced and monitored, right? Wrong.

I just got a call from my mother-in-law. Grandpa is on his way to the hospital. His internal heart defibrillator (pacemaker) has needed servicing for a long time. He decided that it wasn’t that important. Well today the machine went off. He is now going to the hospital.

This is where confusion comes into play for me. WHY in the name of all that is holy would someone put off their health like that? This isn’t the first time we have rushed to the hospital with Grandpa. He has been hospitalized probably 5 or so times since my husband and I have been married. Two times ago we thought it was his time. He had pneumonia so bad that the hospital suggested a “Do Not Resuscitate” form that Nana could sign. That was a close call.

Our entire family so loves this cranky man. Why on Earth would he not put his health first? Does this man feel like torturing his family over and over again? I have gotten to the point that I HATE going to the hospital. I have been there so many times over the last 10 yrs. or so with various relatives. No offense to the medical profession – I just hate sickness and death.

So..since I can’t really tell Grandpa how I feel to his face (that would NOT go over well), I will say it here: “What the #%$* are you thinking? Don’t you realize that you are stressing all of us out by not taking care of yourself? We want you around for a long time. KNOCK THIS OFF!”

Ok, time to wait by the phone and see when visiting hours are. *grumble grumble*

A WONDERFUL book for Boys to read

August 29th, 2007

If you are like me, I want my son to “get dirty” and enjoy being aDangerous book for boys
boy. I see so many boys in our neighborhood walking around overweight and only wanting to play Gameboy on the couch. Whatever happened to building forts, using the imagination, and having fun that didn’t include electronics?

My husband happened across a website where men were talking about this very same thing. How it was sad to see the next generation of boys only want to sit in front of the computer instead of acting like
swashbucklers/policemen/cowboys, building things, doing experiments,etc. Someone then suggested a new book that was exactly what they werelooking for. The book is:

“The Dangerous Book for Boys” by Conn Iggulden

I did some research about this author and sent him an e-mail. He sent
me the most wonderful letter stating that he wanted to write a book for boys that taught them things that they should know in manhood. Things such as:

*How to make the perfect paper airplanes
*Making a battery
*Building a treehouse
*Timers and Tripwires
*Rules of Soccer
*Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
*First Aid
*Making cloth fireproof
*U.S. Naval Flag codes
*Insects & Spiders
*Understanding Grammar
*Cloud formations
*Building a workbench
*A simple electromagnet
*Making a bow & arrow
*Understanding Girls (GREAT chapter)
*The Fifty States
*Mountains of the US
*The Golden Age of Piracy
*Secret Inks
*Sampling Shakespeare
*The Moon
*Skipping Stones

..and so much more. This book just came out in hardback at Barnes & Nobles. I bought the book for just over $17 with my teacher discount. I know that the price of the book is expensive. However, this book will be with your son for a l-o-n-g time. I brought it home and our son flipped. He hasn’t put it down in over a week. He LOVES it.

I highly recommend this book for those that want their son to be a “Jack of all trades”. All of our sons have a gift, whether it is math,science, sports, writing, building a fire, woodworking, etc. This book helps them with the “gray” areas.

Loving Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series

August 27th, 2007

I love to read. I really wasn’t like this as a kid. I really started to love books when I became a homeschooling mom. Our home is FILLED with books. Every room in our house has books in it except the garage and dining room. Yes, even the bathrooms have books in them.

I usually read books to educate myself on future subjects or homeschooling issues. I have read myStephenie Meyer fair share of “how-to homeschool” books from Charlotte Mason, Rupp, Beechick, etc. I have read books by MacDonald (history), VanCleave (science), Usborne (every subject under the sun), and on and on and on. At the start of 2007, I told myself that I would find time to read for Me (that really is a challenge with my crazy schedule).

Recently, I found the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer . What a gem! I know that Stephenie probably intended to target the teenage girl demographic for this series, however I am IN LOVE with the set.

The struggles that Bella and Edward face remind me of Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth, Romeo & Juliet, even Jack Skellington & Sally. Although the story centers around vampirism, it has tones of faith and “what happens when we die”. There is talk of God and “something bigger than ourselves”. There is love, pain, sacrifice, and making adult decisions.

I am now reading the second book, New Moon. I have gone through over 100 pages in just the morning hours between math, dictaction, and guitar. How silly it was to cry over one particular chapter. You know you are reading a good book or seeing a good movie when you get emotional. I can’t wait to finish up with our school day to jump right back into reading.

I plan on going to Barnes & Noble and buying the third book, Eclipse, as soon as I am done with New Moon. Stephenie, you have me hooked.

I hear that there might be a Twilight movie. As some of my other favorite authors have had their published works ruined by film (i.e. Dean Koontz), I hope they don’t ruin Stephenie’s books. These books speak to those that believe in true love, no matter the obstacles. That being beautiful comes from within. That making sacrifices in the name of love makes it all the more worthwhile.

There is one more thing that I want to point out. Stephenie, just like J.K. Rowling, is a mom that felt compelled to write. Even though she has a crazy life with 3 boys, she found the time to write about something that inspired her. Makes me realize that I shouldn’t be blaming my homeschooling schedule for my lack of drawing. Hmmm…maybe I should get out those drawing pencils?

Keep going Stephenie! I can’t wait to read what happens to Edward, Bella, and Jacob. You go girl!

Homeschool Testing – To test or not?

August 15th, 2007

Many homeschoolers that don’t live in a state where annual testing (or umbrella schools) are required, toss around the idea of testing. Our family found ourselves in the same position several years ago. Texas homeschoolers are considered private schools. We are not required to test our children or use specific curriculum. For many families that prefer a “relaxed education”, this fits perfectly with their needs.

I have met families that sit on both sides of the “to test or not to test” fence. Some people feel that testing pressures their children too much. Others feel that testing is necessary to gauge comprehension. My husband was on the “not to test fence” for most of our early homeschooling life. I was unsure.

Three years ago, a friend (a former college math professor & homeschooler) offered to conduct the Bob Jones University ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) for our local homeschooling community. As our then 3rd grade child had never been tested, I thought it would be a good time to see where we were academically. I bought a Spectrum test preparation booklet and reviewed with my child the subjects that would be covered (which I found online).

The test took 3 days to complete. It took over a month to get back the results. My husband and I were happy with most of the subjects (REALLY happy with some) and shocked to see that we were doing horribly in Grammar/Spellling. I had an idea that these were not our strong subjects. Now, I had something to base my feelings on. We needed to work harder in this area.

This is where I think that the homeschoolers that don’t choose to test, are short-changing themselves. No one sees the results except the testing family. Without testing, we would have never seen our educational strengths & weaknesses. It was a real eye-opener.

We waited until we had completed 5th grade to test again. It was amazing to compare the results from the prior test to the current ones. Where had we improved the most over the last 2 years? In Grammar and vocabulary. Could this be a coincidence? Hardly. The current results also told us that we needed to work more on Capitalization, Spelling, and Multiplication. How wonderful is it to have someone say: “You are doing great in these areas. However, more study is needed in…”

Will I keep testing? You bet! As we are now doing Junior High homeschooling, I think annual testing is needed. We are looking at college in about 6 years. Knowing what colleges are looking for and staying “one step ahead” is a blessing. I believe that using the Stanford or ITBS gives homeschoolers that extra help to prepare for the future. These tests are better than a report card. The results give a detailed summary of where are childrens’ strengths and weaknesses lie. What a great tool to have.

Wonder what our eclectic family is using for our 6th grade curriculum? We are using:

  • Heath Pre-Algebra & Algebra
  • Wordly Wise
  • Spelling Power
  • Wordsmith Apprentice
  • Great Exploration in Editing (proofreading skills)
  • Squire & the Scroll + One Year Book of Devotions for Kids
  • Sonlight & Veritas Press readers, BJU Reading 6
  • Spanish is Fun, Cuaderno de ejercicios
  • Apologia General Science
  • BJU English, Writing & Grammar
  • BJU History 6, Story of the World, Beautiful Feet
  • Glencoe/National Geographic Geography 7
  • Easy Grammar
  • Usborne Art books + Glencoe Exploring Art
  • Classical Guitar
  • Kuk Sool Won Martial Arts
  • Boy Scouts & Young Marines

Watching your pennies and need to find curriculum for a fraction of the price? Check out my list of places to buy/sell curriculum to the right of this article.

Way to go, Mike Rowe!

August 14th, 2007

Mike Rowe Our family loves Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. It is a series built around those every day jobs that aren’t flashy or conducted in the high towers of skyscrapers over lattes and croissants. These are the “meat and potatoes” jobs that make our lives easier to tolerate. Jobs like: Pest control, sewer management, trash collector, etc.

Mike gets right in with these jobs and shows us what these hard-working folks do for a living. These aren’t easy or glamorous jobs. Most of them look horrible (i.e. Roadkill collector, grease-trap cleaner, etc.). However, Mike is right there doing these jobs. Our family has gotten a new appreciation for these hard-working folks.

Mike adds comedy (and a few crude jokes) to each episode. He isn’t afraid to “get dirty” and have a little fun at the same time. Mike isn’t just a pretty face (ok, he is sort of cute…). He does try to show the audience how difficult most of these jobs truly are.

Although I enjoy the show, I have to say that I have a new respect for Mike since seeing him climb to the top of the Machinac Bridge in Michigan . My hat is off to you, Mike. There is absolutely NO WAY you would get me to climb the 522 feet up to the top of ANY bridge. Nerves of steel man. Nerves of steel.

Thanks for a great show, Mike. Our entire family enjoys each and every episode. Keep them coming!

 Mike’s My Space

Gilroy Garlic – The Stinking Rose Capital sells out

August 2nd, 2007

One of the things that I loved about living in San Fransisco was on a perfectly windy day, you could get a whiff of garlic. How could you smell garlic up in San Fransisco? Well, when you lived in Redwood City/Belmont, you could smell garlic all the way from Gilroy. That is about 30 miles away.

Gilroy has been known as the “Garlic Capital of the World”. They hold the Garlic Festival every July paying tribute to the “stinking rose”. It is a wonderful event full of silliness and great food.

Recently, we read an article that Gilroy garlic farmers are selling their land to big business. Hearing this made me sad. I think that many people in the San Fransisco area will miss Gilroy if it sells out to strip malls. Gilroy will lose the charm and notarity that it has rightfully earned over the years. I really don’t think that Gilroy needs another Bed, Bath, & Beyond or Circuit City. When I think of Gilroy, I would rather think cute town with a passion for bulbous veggies than “another place to outfit my bathroom or buy a compact disk”.

As our world gets more populated, adorable cities such as Gilroy are selling out and moving over for apartment buildings and strip malls. If Gilroy sells out, who will be next? Sausalito? Half Moon Bay? I sure would hate to see the Pumpkin Festival extinguised by gas stations and pizza joints. Who needs small town charm when you can have redundant chain stores?

To read more about Gilroy here .