Do over?

Let’s pretend I did not complain about the restrictions on allergy medicines and our familial woes over rationing the pills, shall we?  Never mind.  When do “do overs” stop working?  Around age 9-10, huh? I’m a little late.  
Saturday, I continued my productive streak and painted the awesome, but VERYgreen, Goodwill chairs. You can see in the picture how fun they look now.  (Well, I think they’re fun, your mileage may vary.)  $6.99 per chair, $24 in spray paint and polyurethane, fabric was free from my stash as was the scotchguard.  $13 per chair? I’m pleased.  
Andy, who in case you had not heard, has officially turned 12, did not lose a minute telling me that Dan was 12 when I let him watch the show 24.  Fair enough.  So, since Andy’s birthday, he and I have been staying up way too late watching the awesomeness of Jack Bauer.  This Saturday we were supposed to watch three in a row.  We watched one and started another and I could feel myself fading.  My throat was scratchy, my head ached and UGH!!!!!! Andy watched the third episode.  I woke up with a stiff neck on the love seat where I crashed sometime during episode two. I did appreciate that Andy tossed a comforter over me and locked up the house, though. 
And, here we are.  It’s officially Friday, though I’m still counting it as Thursday.  I had a relapse of whatever I had at the beginning of January.  Not quite as miserable, but Sunday-Wednesday are pretty much a blur of sleeping between bouts of Tylenol and cough drops.  Yes, I did think about going to the doctor.  But . . . I never had a fever.  Everything coming out of my head is clear.  My throat had no spots.  It’s just a killer headache, sore throat, cold combination.  Today, I was so excited to wake up feeling mostly human.  Turns out at least two of my neighbors (who both had a bout with the first goo) were sick this week as well.  I am trying to get back on a normal sleep schedule – not that I ever had one, but it’s never too late to start, huh?  The laundry is caught up.  The desk is cleared.  I think I paid all of the bills for the month and there is bread in the oven.  Ahhhh . . . the world is coming back into focus.  
Poor Andy.  It’s been a long school week for him. We have a pretty solid routine and much of what he does he can do on his own or with a little kick start lesson.  Still, it’s gotta be a bummer to do your whole math lesson and bring it back to your mom who was enthusiastic just 30 minutes ago only to have her drool on your notebook.  We muddled through – the upside is Andy’s been doing history all week and tomorrow is science – Alton Brown muffins here we come! 
Ian and Tim were also instrumental in the running of the household, though as they get older they get more selective.  Their stuff was laundered.  Their dishes were done. You know, about what you expect from 18 year olds with their mom drooling on their little brother’s math notebook 18 out of 24 hours.  Lucky them.  I was up and ready for them this morning.  What is it about having teenagers that turns a person into a raging witch? Oh well.  Danny survived it and he still calls me voluntarily, I guess Ian and Tim will too.  Right? 
Right? 
Mike?  Bless his little heart.  He worries about me when I get sick but it’s comical to watch him avoiding me or anything I might have touched.  He’s right to do this as it’s really just him and my brother running the business.  But, still I was tempted to buy him those late night tv tong things that people in the scooter chairs are supposed to use to get things from grocery shelves. 
Oh well, cross your fingers this is the end of it.  I’ve seen more television this past month than I usually watch in six – and it’s not good.  I’m planning ahead just in case I get sick again – I had Tim pick up a cd player at Goodwill.  Now, if nothing else, I can listen to Harry Potter or another book while I wait out the worst of it. Has anyone else noticed the irony? I would be fine with being sick, if I could lay around and read.  But, when you’re really sick, reading is the hardest thing in the world to do. It’s just cruel.  But, now I’m “recuperating,” I plan on using the weekend to read all the books I received at Christmas and have yet to get to.  Are your fingers still crossed?

The New Year . . . sigh

I love getting back into a routine – really, I do. But, must it be so painful? The older boys have classes on Monday and Wednesday that start at 8 am. If you are a teenage boy who lives on a farm, this is not too bad. If you are my teenage boys, this is akin to getting up at 5 am to milk the porcupines. It’s not been pretty and tomorrow is only the second day of classes. My hope is that they will figure out how to better manage their time QUICKLY. Gah!!!!
Andy is another rocky road. The long break has rendered math to be an entirely new subject. It’s absolutely mind-blowing. I remember this with the other boys, but somehow, with so many less distractions, it seems more tragic with Andy. I keep telling myself, “MUST not smother last child. The others learned and will soon be functioning adults. Back off, woman.” To be honest, it’s not really working. Happy note – he remembers all of his Latin. I’m not sure how this bodes for the future. Half-full or half-empty? Stay tuned.
In middle-aged-world, I’m in my yearly panic to get everything I ever thought of done in two weeks. I am aware of the pattern, but I cannot break it. We MUST do x, x and y NOW or bad things will happen. Currently, I’m trying to figure out 1) if I really do want to repaint the living room and kitchen and 2) are slipcovers worth the effort – I’ve made them before, just, well, I’ve made them before. It’s not hard, it’s just big and time consuming and is our furniture really that ugly yet?
Planning Dan’s Eagle Scout ceremony. He’s having his ceremony with three other young men. They’ve all been together since they were 8-year-old Cub Scouts. It’s not that hard to get it all together, it’s just something I have been delaying because it’s another “last” for Dan. Who knew I was such a mushy person? I’m so surprised at how reluctant I am to see all of the “kid” things come to an end for my first-born while at the same time, I’m so excited to see what he does with his life. I know there’s lots more to look forward to, but this is a weird-in-between-time.
To that end, I have a new-Christmas-yoga mat. I bought some new yoga pants. I have a video and a dvd lined up. What’s stopping me? For now I’m going to go with my theory that yoga clothing must be broken in before it’s used for actual stretching. I’m looking forward to starting it up. I think if I can get Andy back into his math groove, I should be able to carve out 30 minutes in the morning to ease myself into a calmness I’ve never possessed. Right? It could happen.

Rebel Yell . . .

There has to be more, right?  After all of these years of homeschooling, I find myself coaching the boys on taking the ACT test.  After all of these years learning alongside the boys,  it kind of pisses me off to be drilling them to take the ACT and the SAT.  I want more for them than to just get accepted to a college and go for 4 or so years working at a major they will most likely NEVER use and potentially putting themselves in debt for the next decade or so. 

It’s my own fault for not researching more or thinking things through more clearly, but c’mon, who ever believes their kids are going to be old enough to graduate high school much less move out on their own? 

Still, though,  I wonder.  The boys all test well and I’m sure they’ll be fine.  I just wonder if there’s only one path. I know Mike and I both ‘knew’ there was one path.  It’s worked out fine for us, but looking back, . . . :::sigh:::

I just ordered The New Global Student to look at another perspective.  I kind of hate the title, but it sounds interesting and the reviews at Amazon are good as were the reviews I read in a magazine at the allergist’s office. 

That all typed out, it’s not my life we’re talking about . . . and that’s the hard part!  I’ll keep giving them information and we’ll see what they do with it all . . . 

Bad haircut?

When I get my haircut, it’s usually unpleasant and the people who live here have learned to say nothing.  But sometimes, it’s good.  Unfortunately, the people who live here are conditioned to not notice.  My point being . . . did anyone notice the new look of the blog?  If you noticed and you hate it, thank you for not sharing.  I was sure someone would have something to say.

Good news, as of tomorrow, Ian and Tim finish their online chemistry class and I regain the computer.  I am so behind on my blog reading list and my “imaginary” friendships, and I’m looking forward to catching up.  In the past, I’ve been adamantly opposed to the kids having tv’s, cable or internet in their rooms.  It just feels like too much freedom and too much potential for creepy stuff – not to mention, I’m lazy, if i don’t hear them or see them, I tend to zone out, making way for the creepy even easier!  Keeping our tv and the computer in the center of the house has worked really well for us. 

Now, though, with the older three all taking classes at the local college this fall, I might have to rethink the internet thing.   This past school year has been contentious and painful in regards to computer usage.  I think over the summer, I will just suck it up and network our computers.  It’s not like anyone in this house has any privacy – Mike and I don’t, the boys sure don’t, in fact, I think Scout (the dog) manages her privacy better than any of us!  The boys share rooms.  They are all close, but they are all very different.  At this point, I think I just have to trust them.  (Not Andy just yet, but the older ones.) 

I hate the thought of becoming one of those families where everyone has their own laptop in their own room and everyone is watching a different movie in their own room and no one ever talks to each other – because they’re eating their own take-out while sitting in their own space.  Up until now, the whole “middle of the house” thing has worked really well for us.  I’m hoping we’ve been doing the whole “family” thing long enough that it will stick  and we won’t become a house-divided.  Cross your fingers!

College Exam Angst


Ugh!

Part of the reason we opted to homeschool our kids was the emphasis on standardized tests in grammar school and beyond. I’m not opposed to the tests, but I am opposed to the pressures put on the teachers and the administrations of each school to come up with results. Given those pressures, which kids do you think they are teaching to? And, should teachers/schools be competing each other for scores? And, God help the kids who do not take tests well. Buh, buh, buh, that’s not what I’m angsting about tonight . . .

Dan went to bed SERIOUSLY stressed out tonight over taking the ACT tomorrow. I’m not sure where the stress is coming from (but I get it as a person who generates tons of personal stress each and every day). He’s done very, very well on the practice tests. But, he was a mess tonight. I feel bad for him. I hope the test goes well in the morning. It kills me I can’t sneak over to the test site to give him a little box of raisins and a juice box half-way through (lol can you imagine the look on Dan’s face if I did this? *snort*)

I know it’s all going to work out in the end, but I hate the weight placed on the SAT and ACT in 2010. It’s not like when I was applying to colleges – they had nothing else besides my SAT scores and a sadly typed (on an actual typewriter) application. Today, there are so many ways to help administrators find students suited to their school. I find it frustrating.

But, what do I know? In the meantime, I’ll be spending time with Ian and Tim teaching them to take the tests. Because that is how the game is played.

MOM-dar


(get it? MOM-dar like Radar?) Anyone else have it? I think all moms have it. I’m not a hyper-vigilant mom. I’m not completely lax either. I’m just kind of in the middle. There are so very many things to worry about, I hate to limit myself to just the kids all day and everyday. Thus far, it’s worked out ok – the kids are alive and not noticeably traumatized (That’s a whole new post – Good Lord! That they don’t kill me in my sleep is a wonder some nights!)

Anyway . . . Dan has started his job. It’s going well and we’re all relieved. It’s good for everyone that he’s working and saving and taking part in the finances of his life now before he’s out on his own. About two weeks ago Dan mentioned to me that I would need to sign something saying it was OK for him (a high school junior) to work during traditional school hours. This was fine by me as he does most of his school work in the evenings. It’s all about how you divide your 24 hours, right?

This morning he handed me some papers to sign. These were not permission for him to work during the school day forms. These were government forms declaring him to be a “Disconnected Youth.” Huh? Poor Danny. What he thought was going to be a one minute encounter turned into a whole big hairy deal.

I googled Disconnected Youth and discovered that it is defined as a young person 16-24 who has not regularly attended school or been employed for the past six months. Dan’s manager apparently sees homeschooling as “no school.” Other definitions of “disconnected youth” I found mentioned “at risk,” “neglected,” “unsupported,” and “lacking direction” youths – did I mention “gangs?” GAH! That’s not my son. That’s NOT my family. If you’ve read here for any length of time, I think that’s obvious, please don’t call Child/Family Services!

Attached to the forms were things for Dan to sign (without my knowledge) reaffirming that he was a disconnected youth and that his employer can then submit to the government in exchange for a tax credit subsidized by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka Stimulus). And, I’m sure there are similar programs under other modern presidents, my research time was limited today.

I wrote a succinct note to the store manager explaining our homeschool status and Dan’s status as a full-time student. I also explained that he had his father’s and my permission to work during “traditional” school hours as needed. I further explained that I could not in good conscience sign the attached forms, nor could I allow my son to sign one.

To Danny’s horror (I remember being 17, too.) The response to my note involved calls to regional offices and a terse call to me explaining that everything had been worked out. She said they were just surprised because everyone signed those forms.
We’ll see. I have a feeling if the store has any cutbacks, Dan will be the first to go.

Am I nuts or is this incredibly disturbing on a number of levels? One, corporations encouraging YOUNG employees to sign forms they don’t read or understand to get a tax credit. Two, the government collecting names of “disconnected youth” around the country. Three, I saw nothing in the paperwork to account for how long a “disconnected youth” was to be employed – do they get cut when the program ends? is the employer penalized if they lose a “disconnected youth?” Even if it’s a 23 year-old heading of to grad school?

I wonder how misconstrued the numbers will be when the government starts pushing for a new education or service program? I’m all for targeting KIDS (those under 18) who need a chance. I’m even all for employers getting a credit for taking those kids under their wing. But, those numbers need to be real numbers. Danny, I promise is/never has been at risk for joining a gang, dropping out of school, living on the streets, dealing drugs or even going more than a week with fingernails I deem too long!

I worry that 16-24 year olds are being lumped into one category. They are NOT remotely close. 16-17 and even 18 – high school aged kids are not all cut out to go to college. Why not give employers an incentive to teach the kids who cannot manage school a trade or simply gainfully employ them? Lots of people hate high school and turn things around once they have a chance to grow up. Lots of people hate high school and go on to start their own businesses and do very well for themselves. Lots of people hate high school and just work hard and manage very well, thank you.

18 and up? 18 is an adult right? Why is it anyone’s business if they’re going to school or not? 18-24? When did this turn into “youths” someone needs to track? Sure, they’re young and they’re all going to do incredibly stoopid things, but that’s the great part of being a new adult, isn’t it? Those are the years where you really grow up. Or, imo, those are the years you really HAVE to grow up.

But, now we can call them ‘disconnected youths?’ Really? Unless you are the most exceptional kid on the planet, being 16-18 makes you a ‘disconnected youth’ and that can mean a lot of things. In one family it might mean a 16 year-old questioning going to church with the family or it might mean curfew fights. But, generally, 16-18 are the years where kids question EVERYTHING. If you’re 19-24, ummm not so much … you’re NOT a kid. The curve should be moving UP at this point. And, when the curve slopes down, it’s your fault, not your parents or your upbringing or your whatever … it’s all you and you have the means to turn things around.

Ugh … it all left me feeling paranoid and unsettled

:::sigh:::: Lest you think

what?

Too much free time? Too much access to video or the computer? Too little access to a barber?

I’m here to prove you right . . . Tim, Director/Camera Man, Dan, Stapler Guy and Ian, Kid Ripping My Keyboard Out of Its Happy Home . . .

Brrrrr . . .


I know everyone is cold, but I’m really, really, really cold. Mike, who has somehow managed to retain his this Buffalo blood is never cold, he keeps turning the heat down! My Pittsburgh blood thinned about 20 seconds after I moved to Florida – I keep turning the heat up. It’s fun.

Our neighborhood looks like a camp of disaster survivors this weekend. I can only think of two neighbors who own heavy coats. The rest of us are wandering around in layers and blankets and ridiculous outfits. It’s kind of sad, kind of funny.

The kids and their friends are all Florida kids. They’re not used to being forced inside for extended periods of time. Today we ended up with a bunch of teen-aged boys wearing shorts/snuggies/hats and all kinds of weird clothing sitting in the kitchen playing poker. They’re all nice kids. They treat me like I’m still taller than they are (*snort*) and I appreciate that. And, they will eat ANYTHING. I cleaned out my entire fridge this afternoon. It’s fascinating in a gross kind of way.

But, if you were just listening in on my kitchen today, you would have thought we were hosting a Beavis and Butthead Convention. Seriously, there is something about all of those newly deep voices talking and laughing and teasing each other that sounds so ridiculous if you’re on the outside. They might be giant-sized, but they are so much still little boys. It was only a couple of years ago I would lift any of them up onto my kitchen counter to clean a scraped knee or pull a splinter. Now, just about any of them could toss me clean over my roof (this is why I feed them). Crazy.

In my efforts to balance my testosterone-soaked world, I curled up on the couch to knit and watch “girl” tv. Oh my . . . Bridezilla? Where do they find these people? I can’t judge really. I sat there and watched and knitted and gaped for over two hours. Boys and men have absolutely NO interest in this show so it was a pretty peaceful two hours – it’s like male bug spray. What amazed me the most was the willingness of the men on the show to go through with the wedding after witnessing such incredibly ugly, insane behavior on the part of their fiancees. Do they really think it’s going to improve? It was kind of sad.

Later in the evening, we watched The Bad News Bears. Oh my again. I was 11 when this movie was released and I remember being mad that I was not allowed to go see it. Well, now I know WHY I was not allowed to see it. The language is pretty rough. No way could they make this exact movie today – talk about politically incorrect. And, of course, Andy sat through the whole thing with me interjecting “You are NEVER to say anything like this EVER!” It was kind of fun to watch through the kids’ eyes, though. They picked up on weird things – like how small everything on the tables in a McDonald’s scene was. Tiny hamburgers, short sodas, tiny fries. Another thing they noticed was the lack of helmets and/or seatbelts throughout the movie. Mmmm… Mike and I would not have noticed if they had not been there. The final scene, where Walter Matthau hands out beers to his little league team had the kids on the floor howling.

I hope you are all warm and cozy and WARM. I’m thinking about asking Mike and the boys to knock out a wall and install a fireplace tomorrow if it doesn’t warm up. Good plan, don’t you think? 😉

Gah – teenagers!


I know. The goal is to raise them to be independent, decent people and then let them loose. But, I’m starting to think the last few years of teenage-dome might send me right over the edge. Now, if stress caused my stomach to flatten or my boobs to perk up, I might be OK with the stress. But NOOOOOO … the only thing I’m getting from the stress is heartburn and a potential ulcer and zits. And, these side-effects are not making me a kind and gracious parent.

AND, at the same time, I remember being 16/17. If my parents said I had to be home at 11, I would sit at the foot of our long driveway and wait until 1 minute before 11 before I would go into the house. Yeah, yeah, reap what you sow and all of that. But, I am a much angrier person deep-down than my mom ever was. And still, nothing changes. :::sigh:::

So much is changing around here so fast. Danny’s starting at the community college, three classes and nearly $500 in books!!!! Um not happening. The boys’ tae kwon do school is closing and the kids are sad and I am sad and mad about it. Nine years invested in this school and this teacher. I understand the reasons behind the closing, but I’m still kind of irked about it. And, now what do I do with them? Have I mentioned the $367 electric bill? We’ve never in the 17 years we’ve been paying electric to this company had a bill this high. And, we had to pay our new insurance bill. Danny’s car accident isn’t helping – I don’t blame him, new drivers screw up – but YIKES!!! Oh, and the ortho finally wants to get Ian out of braces (after 4 years) … but he needs an implant or a little bridge for the one tooth he’s missing – minimum $600, like now. And, to top it off, today I received three Christmas catalogs. Gah. Christmas on top of everything else? I’m feeling kind of “uhhh” about it all.

Tomorrow (actually today, it’s late) we’re heading to the beach for the day. Me, my four boys, friend one and friend two. I’ve packed a ton of food. I’m looking forward to it. I figure it’s not that much longer that I’ll have beach days with all of my boys. We have multiple cameras packed so expect pictures tomorrow.

I’m really hoping that the beach will calm me down A LOT. In the meantime, feel free to send money and lottery tickets. 😉