Saturday, August 22, 2009

Job Hazard

Homeschooling moms sometimes have a hard time figuring out what to do when they've worked themselves out of a job. Their kids grow up and go to college or high school, and then what does Mom do? I used to have so many many many things I wanted to get to, thinking that I'd do them later, when I was done homeschooling the kids. I wasn't worried about being bored.

But I've discovered a different problem with the kids growing up: loss of friends.

So much of a mom's life is spent with the other homeschool moms, getting the kids together for field-trips or play-days or book discussions. And then the kids go on with their lives, their jobs, moving away. And then who does Mom hang out with?

A friend mentioned about a year ago that she felt like she didn't fit in anymore with the homeschool moms on our email list. Most of her kids were grown; she was a grandma; she was down to homeschooling only one child, a child who can be responsible for much of her own schoolwork. When we get to be older middle-aged, with nearly-grown kids, we don't have much in common with the mommies who are teaching reading and addition and are potty-training the younger siblings.

And yet, in a way, those are the people we have the most in common with. Even though we're at a different stage of life.

Tomorrow is an event that I would love to attend: a potluck and playtime at the beach and a presentation on telescopes and the night-sky. But my children have other plans with some kids from church. And it's a good activity they're going to enjoy. I'm so glad they have these friends! But it interferes with my play-time with my friends. This is going to take some adjustment.

Today's Laugh

Two Indians and a hillbilly were walking in the woods. All of a sudden one of the Indians ran up a hill to the mouth of a small cave.

"Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!" he called into the cave, and then he listened very closely until he heard an answering, "Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!" He tore off his clothes and ran into the cave.

The hillbilly was puzzled and asked the other Indian what that was all about. "Was he crazy or what?"

"No" said the Indian. "It is our custom during mating season when Indian men see cave, they holler "Wooooo Wooooo! Wooooo!" into the opening. If they get an answer back, it means there is a girl in there waiting to mate."

Just then they saw another cave. The second Indian ran up to the opening of the cave, stopped and hollered, "Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!"

Immediately, there was an answering "Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!" from deep inside the cave. He tore off his clothes and ran into the cave.

The hillbilly wandered around in the woods alone for a while, and then he came upon a great big cave. As he looked in amazement at the size of the huge opening, he was thinking, "Hoo, man! Look at the size of this cave! It is bigger than those the Indians found. There must be some really big, fine women in this cave!"

He stood in front of the opening and hollered with all his might, "Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!" He grinned and closed his eyes in anticipation, and then he heard the answering call, "WOOOOOOOOO! WOOOOOOOOO! WOOOOOOOOO!"

With a gleam in his eyes and a smile on his face, he raced into the cave, tearing off his clothes as he ran.

The following day, the headline of the Arkansas Gazette Newspaper read...


Friday, August 21, 2009


Someone asked about the reason for my trip to Texas. Nathan is no longer a sem student. The family moved to Texas (near his parents). Nathan drove the truck; I rode with Katie so we could double-team Alia.

When I got home tonight from dropping off Paul's belongings at his college, I was happy to find a note from Nathan that he got a job. He's going to be working at the local theater for now, while he looks for something better paying.

Paul checked to see that the financial aid office got everything straightened out with his work-study. Whew!

Because of the heat in Nathan's moving van and fear of moving food in that temperature, we became the proud owners of most of the contents of Katie's pantry. Most of the canned soups went over to poxy Philip the other day. He can't very well go to the grocery store. And even though he feels fine, he mentioned that rice might be a bit hard to swallow, and soup might be good. (He feels fine, right? He said so.) The soup was great to have on hand for him!

I started reading Todd Peperkorn's book today.

I guess it's time to start thinking about plans for the new school year.

How is corn supposed to grow when it's only 60°? It's AUGUST, gosh darn it.

Today's Laugh

The teacher gave her fifth grade class an assignment: get their parents to tell them a story with a moral at the end of it. The next day the kids came back and one by one began to tell their stories.

Kathy said, "My father's a farmer and we have a lot of egg-laying hens. One time we were taking our eggs to market in a basket on the front seat of the pickup when we hit a bump in the road and all the eggs went flying and broke and made a mess."

"And what's the moral of the story?" asked the teacher.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket!" Kathy answered.

"Very good," said the teacher. Next little Lucy raised a hand and said, "Our family are farmers too. But we raise chickens for the meat market. We had a dozen eggs one time, but when they hatched we only got ten live chicks and the moral to this story is, don't count your chickens until they're hatched."

"That was a fine story, Lucy. Johnny, do you have a story to share?"

"Yes, ma'am, my daddy told me this story about my Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob was a flight engineer in Desert Storm and his plane got hit. He had to bail out over enemy territory and all he had was a bottle of whiskey, a machine gun, and a machete."

"He drank the whiskey on the way down so it wouldn't break, and then he landed right in the middle of 100 enemy troops. He killed seventy of them with the machine gun until he ran out of bullets, then he killed twenty more with the machete till the blade broke, and then he killed the last ten with his bare hands."

"Good heavens!" said the horrified teacher, "What kind of moral did your daddy tell you from that horrible story?"

"Stay the heck away from Uncle Bob when he's been drinking!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's Laugh

What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches?

A nervous wreck.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Free Beer

Katie and Nathan moved to Texas last week. (No, he's not on vicarage. He decided to leave sem. They are now living near his parents, looking for jobs.) Because their car doesn't have air-conditioning, and because a moving truck big enough to tow their car would be pretty expensive, they decided to have Nathan drive the truck and Katie drive the car with me riding along to help keep an eye on the baby.

So it's a very hot day. So hot that when we get out of the car, the 100° day feels refreshingly cool compared to the air inside the car. It's getting to be early afternoon; Alia has been awake for a while and is beginning to droop like she's ready for a nap; Katie and I are going to take any spot to stop and stretch our legs and grab a beverage prior to nap-time.

We go into the gas station, looking for drinks. Lots of drinks. The cheapest pop was priced at $1.69 for 16 ounces. Bottled water was similarly priced. Perusing the refrigerator shelves, I noticed with amusement that beer was cheaper. I pointed out to Katie that we could buy a 24-ounce Bud for only $1.19. Or hey, there was a 32-ounce Miller for $1.19. The man talking to the store owner began to chat. "Where are you from? So what does a beer cost where you live?" I wouldn't know; I don't buy beer at the gas station. Or pop either, for that matter. He asked what beer I drink. The man from Memphis was not familiar with Leinenkugel. (Go figure. LOL.) He offered me a Bud. Did I want a bottle or a can? Uh.... a bottle? But no, he decided I needed one of each. Okay. Thanks!

So Katie and I continue to peruse the shelves for a non-alcoholic beverage or two for the driver. The nice man from Memphis decides that somebody from Milwaukee who likes micro-brews might be interested in their new line, Bud Lime. So he asked me if I'd heard of it. I seldom listen to the radio or watch TV; when I read the paper or a magazine, I mentally block out the ads. Nope, I'd never heard of Bud Lime.

The man decided to remedy my ignorance. He told me he'd buy me a package of Bud Light Lime. Did I want a 6-pack or 12-pack? Given the heat of the car and what Erin told me about not letting beer warm up after chilling it, I told him a 6-pack would be plenty. So he bought me a 6-pack.

Okay, this is weird. I go into a gas station in Arkansas and walk out with eight free beers! Didn't want to drive around with open liquor in the car, even if the driver wasn't imbibing. So we sat outside at the gas station while I had two beers for lunch. With the heat, that went down a lot easier than a hamburger would've.

And you know what? That Bud distributor was right. That Bud Lime is pretty good! I think it's as good as a Corona with a real wedge of lime in it. So if his plan was to hook me on the product, I think his free sample may just have done its job!

I had a beer with my tacos for supper. I had another beer for lunch at the kids' apartment a couple of days later. But I left them with more beer than they're inclined to drink. How do you cook with beer? Bratwurst is not a common item in Texas grocery stores. I guess that leaves them with beer bread. Or maybe poaching chicken breasts in it.

By the way, after the very nice man sent me on my way with free beer, at the next stop some old guy tried to pick me up and take me biking with him and his buddies. My first inclination was that he was way too old to be picking up somebody who was my age. And then the shocker -- he was probably only 5-15 years older than me. He wasn't being a perverted old guy trying to pick up a young girl. Eeeek, I'm old!


Paul left to go back to Mankato this morning.

Why does it seem so quiet? Why does this seem so weird and empty?

Last time I had only two children living at my house was more than 22 years ago.

Last time I had only two cars in my driveway was more than 11 years ago.

I get to see Paul tomorrow when I drive the van-load full of his stuff to dorm. But there's an odd feeling today, like it's time to start a new life, re-arrange the family and my duties and our school in a whole new way.

Where does one begin???
I don't know if I'm up to this.

Easier Pizza Crust

I always have a booger of a time rolling out the pizza dough, patting, patting, patting, trying to get it flat enough and big enough for the pan.

At our second hotel stop on the drive to Texas last week, we turned on the TV to find it already set to Food Network. Ah, perfect! I love Food Network! One of the segments was a pizza-making race for Dominoes pizza-makers. You know what they do? They don't toss & spin the dough into circles. (I usually end up with holes in the middle when I do that, even when I start with a thicker middle. Or I end up with pizza dough on the floor. But you would never make that mistake, would you?) These speedy-delivery pizza-makers do not painstakingly pat the dough onto cookie sheets or pizza pans.

They roll it on the counter. With lots and lots and LOTS of cornmeal.

See, now, every time I try to roll dough on the counter, it sticks. Every time. Pizza crust. Cinnamon rolls. Anything. But what I saw on Food Network the other night was a lavish and messy display of cornmeal.

So when Andrew was making pizza crusts on Monday (32 personal-sized pizza crusts for the company he'd invited for Tuesday!) we tried the cornmeal and rolling pin. I don't know how much cornmeal we used, but the huge amount was no waste. It certainly saved a LOT of time and frustration.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Today's Laugh

A man escaped jail by digging a hole from his jail cell to the outside world. When finally his work was done, he emerged in the middle of a preschool playground.

"I'm free, I'm free!" he shouted.

"So what," said a little girl. "I'm four."

These Boys ...

Paul paid his tuition bill. About a week later, the college contacted him about having written a check on a non-existent account. Excuse me??? Kinda scary to have the college say, "We didn't get the payment," when your bank account has already been dinged. You wonder where that money went. After some panic on our part, Paul discovered that the college tried running the check again, and it cleared just fine.

Paul's boss at school contacted him about whether he wants his research-assistant job back. Paul did. The professor began to make arrangements and found that Paul wasn't on the list of students who were approved for Work-Study. His financial aid package offered him work-study. He accepted the offer. But somehow he's not on the list of approved employees. We're hoping that they find it was a clerical error as to his name being on the list, and not a clerical error made in the financial aid department when he was offered a work-study job.

Philip look awful on Sunday morning. One of the moms at church asked him if he was hung over -- LOL. With my ham and au gratins, I enticed him over to our house for the afternoon. He slept quite a bit. Yesterday he felt itchy. Today one of his co-workers pointed out that Philip had pox on his face. He was sent to the doctor. Sure enough, he has chicken pox. He said they had a booger of a time diagnosing it since he has no fever, no aches, no sneeze. Just the pox. He's off work for the rest of this week and probably all of next week.

Mom often says there's never a dull moment with us. It might be nice to try some dullness.

I guess we have people due to become contagious about August 30. I wonder what happens to Paul's classes if he is stuck in his dorm room for two weeks? I wonder if his roommate has had chicken pox? If we're going to do this, the sooner the better; I don't want to miss APT.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The French Revolution

Gary and I watched The Scarlet Pimpernel the other night. Every time we see it (or any other book or movie that touches on the French Revolution) I am shocked anew by the cold-bloodedness.

Never once in all my years of schooling did I study world history. The only time we learned about the French Revolution was in connection with the American Revolution. We learned about the guillotine and the "excesses" of the Reign of Terror, but overall we learned that the French Revolution was a good thing: step #2 in the experiment of democracy.

Why did I not learn in school about the class warfare and the blood-thirsty hatred? Maybe it was too scary and horrid for kids to read about?

If the teachers and the textbooks treated the French Revolution as though it were okay, and as if the Reign of Terror were the just deserts for the rich folks' excesses,

is it any wonder to see the class warfare in America today,
the willingness for "heads to roll" with regard to lawsuits and investigations,
the anger that plays out in pleasure at seeing bad things happen to rich people?

When Help Is No Help

Maybe it's your car's transmission. Maybe it's your mental state. Maybe it's your homeschool curriculum. Maybe it's your diet. Maybe it's your method of disciplining your kids. Maybe it's spiritual/theological questions. Maybe it's a broken molar. Maybe it's an entire nation's economic woes. Whatever it is, something is wrong, something needs fixed.

I wonder sometimes if the wrong "help" is worse than getting no help at all.

But if that's true, how does a person find the right help, except through trial-and-error, and methodically discarding the "help" that made the problem worse? And what if the "help" resulted in irreversible damage?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Conference This Month

I attended the Wisdom and Eloquence conference in Fort Wayne earlier this month. The lectures and discussion provided lots of ideas to ponder.

Near the beginning of the keynote speaker's lecture, he quoted Luther where he was talking about the rain falling in one place and then going to another. The speaker said we need to take this to heart, that God is sending a blessing to us with classical education, and if we despise it, we will lose it. But Luther wasn't talking about temporal blessings; he was talking about the proclamation of the Gospel. If his countrymen rejected the Gospel, they would lose it. It made me uneasy to hear this quote being used out of context. What other quotes might the speaker be taking out of context? Can't we just say "Carpe diem" without hijacking a Luther quote that had nothing to do with education?

Also near the beginning of the lecture, the speaker posited the statement that classical education can be defined as the education that will make one "fully human." Maybe I have spent too much energy caring about the lives of little [pre-born] babies; this terminology gives me the creeps. Do we really want to say that those who have received mere technical training are less than fully human?

Green Beans

The beans have been prolific enough that today I opened up the pressure canner I bought a month ago. Having never pressure-canned anything, I carefully read the directions and figured it out. There are now three quarts of beans cooling on the kitchen counter. And Mom, nothing in the kitchen exploded!