Monday, October 15, 2007

Catching Up

We love the fall.

She just threw a bunch of leaves at my head.

Picasso Art Day

Charlie and his buddy, Jeremiah at the first soccer game of the season.

First Candy Machines

Jackson Pollock Art Day

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Tales of Capitalism and Motherly Ponderings

First mentioned here, my latest and greatest obsession is turning my kids into little money makers. Our own vending business! It will be so easy!

So we picked up our two machines on Sunday. I'd show you pictures but I can't find the camera cord thingy. Then we created flyers to pass out to local businesses. Today we spent our afternoon canvasing potential customers. I, my friends, am not a salesperson. I'm the girl who threw away the candy order forms instead of soliciting our poor neighbors with overpriced junk. But there is a natural born salesperson in the family. See if you can spot him/her:

(in an insurance office)

Ava: Can we put our candy in your store?
Office worker: blank stare
I mercifully intercede.

(in a doctor's office)

Charlie: own company....candy...uh.... machine...errr...
Office worker: stare of pity
I mercifully intercede.

(in a pharmacy)

Juliet: We've started a candy vending business and we were wondering if you would like to have one of our machines in your store.
Pharmacist: What kinds of candy will you have?
Charlie: Uhhh...errr.....
Juliet: Skittles, M&Ms, Reeses Pieces...

Juliet was born to make money. She scours the house, collecting loose change, which she hordes like a Mongolian warlord. She's savvy, but personable. It was rainy and cold outside, and the kids were getting turned down every where they went, but she said it was 'fun.' Good for her, I say. Every family needs a Juliet.

Charlie is altogether different. You may have read his dialogue and presumed he's just an awkward, shy, altogether unfortunate individual. This is not the case. Charlie is inexplicably well-loved. He's the kid that is universally liked by all sorts of other kids and adults. It's a phenomenon, really. There was this one Sunday when I had no less than three different individuals tell me how much they like my son. Go figure.

Ava. Oh Ava. Did you ever see Amelie? This is Ava. Impish, mischievous, borderline bizarre, but so freakin' adorable that she gets away with it all. She recently promised that she 'would never choke me because she loves me so much.' And smart as a whip, that one. But so was Ted Kaczynski, so we have to keep an eye on her.

When I started homeschooling, I went from dropping my kids off at daycare at 7 am and picking them up at 5:30, to being with them 24/7. There are days, ahem yesterday, when the whining and bickering and trivial annoyances knock me out. Literally. I was in full crisis mode by dinner last night. But there are other days, like today, when I see glimpses of the people they will become, when I know it's worth the headaches. Homeschooling gives me the time to know my kids. Warts and all. And vice-versa. I don't have to listen to a teacher tell me how they interact with others, or how they are getting bullied or being brats in the classroom. I get to watch them be brats all day.

Knowing your kids better, in itself, is not a sufficient reason to homeschool. But watching them grow and catching them being momentarily brilliant is definitely a plus. The way I see it, this is my one shot with them. I've got a few years and then it's all over. They move on, hopefully to great lives with their own families to exciting places, and I move on to do all the stuff I'm not doing now. But I'll know I gave them all of me when they were mine. This, my friends, is why I homeschool.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tackling Tom Sawyer, Part Deux

Dgm brought up a great point in the comments section of my last post:

"So you can bet I'm censoring the 'n' word from Tom Sawyer. And guess what? They don't really know the difference. It's certainly the only way I'm attempting this book while my chil'luns are this little."

Maybe that's a sign that they aren't ready for this book. I think it's great they are learning about great literature, but not all great literature is appropriate for 4-8 year olds because they don't understand the context in which the story takes place. So, for example, much of Romeo & Juliet may be lost on them because they don't have the experience to understand what this kind of love and feuding is about. It's great adult literature, but I don't see how kids can truly appreciate it.

Likewise with TS, which admittedly is great children's literature. However, if you don't want to say the "n word" in front of them because you don't think they'd understand how bad it is and why they shouldn't say it, maybe they aren't ready to hear it. I could see my 9 year old "getting" it (and shriveling up every time she read the word), but I don't think my 4 year old is ready to understand the context of the word and why it is so inappropriate to use these days.

This is a tough issue, but one that I feel strongly about. No, my kids are not ready to be exposed to the 'n' word. And they certainly didn't appreciate Romeo and Juliet at the same level they would as freshmen in high school. But that's ok. I'm not reading them these stories so that they may completely comprehend the social context or tragedy of love lost. Not at all.

There is so much more that they are getting from these stories. The beauty of language, hearing the cadence of wonderfully written sentences, following along a difficult plot, tracking multiple characters, identifying themselves with a character, and the joy of hearing great literature. There's much more to Tom Sawyer than its social context. It isn't Huck Finn, whose central theme is the injustice of slavery. Tom Sawyer is a celebration of boyhood. And my kids are laughing out loud with each chapter.

Literature, good literature, doesn't need to be fully understood to be appreciated. They will read Romeo and Juliet again. And again. And hopefully, again. In the meantime they are exposed to greatness. And even more importantly, they don't know what it means to be intimidated by language written several hundred years ago. If I do one thing right, just one thing, it will be that I raised strong readers. A good reader will have the knowledge and history of the world at their feet. A good reader will be able to learn anything they want to know, will never be bored, and will know the joy of being humbled by the written word.

For that, I'm grateful for the privilege of introducing these works to my children.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tackling Tom Sawyer

We are delving into the world of great literature this year. Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain, everyone is fair game. After finishing Romeo and Juliet, I thought I'd try something lighter. So every afternoon, after history, but before the kids are free to play and wander the neighborhood in joyous abandon, I attempt the challenging dialect presented in Tom Sawyer.

'Hey! You're from Texas! Don't you already talk like Tom Sawyer?' you might be asking yourself. No'm. I ain't talked like this in my ever lovin' life. My mama done raised me right. Sho nuff.

But the southernly slangy dialect is the least of my worries. Yassir, the least of my worries indeedy. And I quote:

"Why, he told Jeff Thatcher, and Jeff told Johnny Baker, and Johnny told Jim Hollis, and Jim told Ben Rogers, and Ben told a n******, and the n***** told me!"

Only when I said it, there was a pause after 'Ben Rogers' and an "Uhhhhhh...hold on." And I honestly didn't know what to say. "What is it?" they asked, expectantly waiting for some scandalous or exciting tidbit. "Uhhhhh...." pause, fumble, pause. The best I could come up with was that they used a word that we don't say and we can never ever say because it's a very bad word, despite what their gangsta rap downloads are telling them.

"What is it???? We'll never use it!!!!!!" You should've seen their round little eyes, anxiously planning on using the aforementioned word on each other in battle. "No," I insisted. "It was a terrible word that people used to use for black people and I'm not going to say it." They were disappointed indeed.

Listen y'all, I put down Henry Miller's The Tropic of Cancer last night because I couldn't take the repeated use of the 'f' word. I'm telling you I'm virginal. At least my ears, eyes and brains are. So you can bet I'm censoring the 'n' word from Tom Sawyer. And guess what? They don't really know the difference. It's certainly the only way I'm attempting this book while my chil'luns are this little.

PS - My kids LOVE love love this book.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

And now I'm tired...

First week of school was a success. Juliet and Charlie are both going full 'full' I mean jam-packed. We got our French books today. Here's what I know:

Je m'appelle Kristi.

That's about it.

And we finished Romeo and Juliet. Here's what the kids said about that:

Juliet: I don't like tragedies. Hmmmph.
Charlie: You should, since you were named AFTER A CHARACTER IN A SHAKESPEARE PLAY!!!!

This is a major point of importance for Charlie. He tells his friends, "Did you know Juliet was named after a character in a Shakespeare play?" To which his friends reply "blink blink." So here are a few pictures from the first day. Ignore the frumpy redhead on the floor.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reading and Watching

We started Romeo and Juliet after falling in love with this movie. It's the real deal, y'all. Shakespeare's actual play...not a paraphrased or kid's version. The process of reading it is a little painful, but worth it. The rest of the items below are a few of our books and movies for the week.

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I had a dream. I had an awesome dream.

Anyone who follows Here in Idaho knows I'm a little bit crazy. I get excited about projects, get started, never finish, then get excited about something else. It's what I do.

So I wanted to invest in real estate...but guess what? I've got a buck fifty to my name so it's not going to happen. Fair enough. Then I had an idea. An awesome idea. A way to make a little change AND teach the youngins about business. Here it is:


That's right. You heard me. The kids and I are starting a vending business. By 'business' I mean one machine, in one location, that will probably only make five dollars a month. Irregardless, it's a good idea. Because the kids will help pick out the machine, price the candy, scout a location, run the numbers, service the machine, count the money, deposit the money and be little entrepreneurs. Start-up will be less than two hundred dollars and the kids are PSYCHED. Ava, God bless her, even had the idea for a penny pressing machine...which we can't afford at the moment but might be a worthwhile goal. Personally, I want one of those gravity tunnel machines that you see at museums. A girl's gotta have goals.

So you don't have to be a homeschooler to teach your kids about money. This will be a side project, probably only requiring our attention one Saturday a month. But can you imagine a better way to teach about enterprise? I can't. And if you read this entry over at Here in Idaho, you know I'm all about preparing our kids to be self-reliant.

We hope to be able to buy this machine next month. I'll keep you updated.

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