Monthly Archives: January 2014

Fighting Cabin Fever

The first version was a little rough and shouldn’t have been published. Fortunately, editing staff around here was kind enough to let me give it another shot.

athomewiththeboy

It was cold this week.  Very, very cold.  The kind of cold that makes one think of moving to a warmer climate, like Alaska.  It was so cold, even the dog wouldn’t go it. The pup looked up at me every time I brought him out and asked if he could learn to use the indoor plumbing.  By Friday I was at wits end.  The cold had eaten at all my native patience, a precious resource at the best of times.  I hurled a coat at The Boy and a book (A small one) – Kids Love Maryland.

“We’re going to Alan’s shop,” I said, “Find something fun to do up in that area.”

Alan works in a pawn shop about 40 minutes north of us.  He’s become a pal, helping us find a lovely gift for LW, finding us good bargains on items, steering us away from overpriced…

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Fighting Cabin Fever

It was cold this week.  Very, very cold.  The kind of cold that makes one think of moving to a warmer climate, like Alaska.  It was so cold, even the dog wouldn’t go it. The pup looked up at me every time I brought him out and asked if he could learn to use the indoor plumbing.  By Friday I was at wits end.  The cold had eaten at all my native patience, a precious resource at the best of times.  I hurled a coat at The Boy and a book (A small one) – Kids Love Maryland.

“We’re going to Alan’s shop,” I said, “Find something fun to do up in that area.”

Alan works in a pawn shop about 40 minutes north of us.  He’s become a pal, helping us find a lovely gift for LW, finding us good bargains on items, steering us away from overpriced or bad items.  He’s also a history buff and is glad to impart his knowledge to the Boy.

Let me be clear, the Boy was not suffering cabin fever quite as much as I was.  A friend’s belated birthday gave him a an hour of laser tag.  (He chose “FEAR” as his nom de geurre, and as we all know,it is very difficult to conquer fear.)

They went sledding in the biting cold.   At first he was reluctant to go outside,  but I was filled with nostalgia for winter days growing up.  Hours spent sledding, building snow men and endless snow ball fights.  So I bundled The Boy up and sent him out.  He went off with his neighborhood friends as two area moms and I communicated with Morse code through our chattering teeth.

The problem, you understand, is that our brains hate us.  The lovely memories of childhood are usually a just a cover for the PTSD that is growing up, covering repressed images of youthful reality.  The agony of slogging up hills as woolen mittens turned to blocks of ice, misshapen snow creatures soon toppled when they did not spring to life, and white washes, one after the other administered by a greatly amused older sibling.

When the chill became too much for even the hardiest child, we slunk inside.  The rest of the day and much of the remainder of the week was spent huddling to stay warm and lethargically (but dutifully) doing our work.  But I was climbing the walls, which is what brought us to my abrupt exit on Friday.

So we loaded up and headed out, he pouring over the book of local activities, me listening to the radio and trying to ignore the nagging in my head that taking your child in a quixotic search for activity is not responsible adult behavior.  He started throwing out ideas and I had to sadly let him down – closed, too expensive, the other end of the state.  Then I saw the bright beacon which is the savior of any  HSD south of the Mason-Dixon line – A Civil War battlefield!

Three museum staff were trading stories of the Civil War (re-enactments, they weren’t that old).  Their eyes lit up as two frozen creatures stumbled into the warmth.  We were given a fifteen minute personal over view of the battle, and then set loose in the well curated museum upstairs.  As the only ones there, we lingered, explored and…yes….goofed around a bit.

Feeling smug and content with the educational value of our stop, we gave warm thanks to our tour guides and headed on to the pawn shop.  Alan found a great deal on a nice electric piano.  There are more stories about pianos and  I am confident he will be a world famous musician given time.  I just hope he chooses to perform in warmer climates.

The Boy as a Confederate soldier

The Boy as a Confederate soldier

 

Sometimes SAHD here rushes things, so this is an updated version of the post.  Maybe my folks were right about the benefits of outlining…but probably not.

Polar Vortex Effect

The Boy went back to school for real last week, I blame the Polar Vortex for any insanity that went down.

The week started out well.  We hit the ground running with reading, math and health.  We memorized a poem, learned about the National Park System and discussed the transition if Britain from the Romans to the Anglo-Saxons (I have some dust to brush off here, since I once did know it.)

But then it was REALLY cold out.  We huddled under the covers for an extra hour or so.  I am pretty sure that the cold was making our blood move slower, though I would have to check with the Boy to see if that is actually a biological possibility.  We moved like sloths around the homestead, no desire to go anywhere.  Outside it was cold and wet, inside was warm and comfy.  We made our choice.

We went to our co-op on a day that seemed to promise an end to the deep freeze, but the next day, the icy rain was back and the Boy and I were going through cabin fever.  Even sword fights (That counts as medieval study, right?) and NERF gun battles (physics?) couldn’t prevail.

So we left the house.  Lunch with LW and then on to ice skating – what could be better!  Well, it might have been better if Daddy knew how to read the hours correctly.  I got us there at 2:30, the time skating was ending, not starting for the day.

*sigh*

But we are back.  We have our schedule, I have my package ready for the County’s Home School Review – no sweat.  And the weather is warming up.  Onwards and upwards!!

What do you Want to do with your life?

This week, the Boy and I watched a video, a TED talk done by a 13 year old home-schooler who had the best answer I have heard to the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up,”.  His answer?  I want to be happy.

You can watch the whole video here:  http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Hackschooling-Makes-Me-Happy-Lo

I have also been paying attention to the various discussions on the Common Core.  At one end of the spectrum is a desire for unity in learning.  The education you get in rural Alabama will be no worse than the education you could get in Marin County.  On the other end is the concern that everyone is taught to the test and art and literature is set on a back burner.

So what is the point of education?

Does education prepare us for a work force mentality?  And if so, which one?  Factory based?  Cubicle based?  Even Arts based?  All are important to society.

Does education create problem solvers?  If your measurable goal is to have people learn to recite facts and figures, then I don’t think so.  But if the educators are providing open ended questions, then maybe so.

Does education get us interested in the world?  This is what my best teachers, Mrs. Shaw and Mr. Kramsky did.  I never felt that, in their classes I was just doing busy work.  I had no desire to draw pictures of birds, but Mrs. Shaw made it interesting.  We weren’t just coloring a bird yellow, we were discovering and exploring WHY it was yellow.  And I do not have any of the traditional horror stories about learning Shakespeare thanks to Mr. Kramsky, who made it come alive.

I don’t know if Common Core is going to be the evil bogeyman many of my home-school friends believe it will be.  I know too many teachers who have integrity and intelligence and would never let bureaucracy get in the way of education.  Public schools will work for many, but there are those, like the Boy, who see things in different ways.

There is a quote attributed to Yeats, (don’t quote me on that though, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet”):  Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire”

That, to me, captures what we should strive towards.  And at the very least, what we want as a job when we grow up should be secondary to what we want to be.

It's good to get lost sometimes.

It’s good to get lost sometimes.

Back to the Tech Grind

It is time for The Boy and I to get back to work.  While we didn’t stop working the entire month of December, we definitely slowed down our work schedule and some of Daddy’s rules went to the side.  But in the spirit of a new year, we have dusted off the cobwebs, cracked the books and are getting back to business.   Really.  I mean it this time.

The hardest rules we have involve screen time.  I am an admitted addict to screens.  More than one, LW has found me with a video on the TV, my smart phone in one hand and my laptop propped up on the edge of the couch.  Give me a pint of home brew and a plate full of wings, and I could stay that way for a week.  And the boy has similar proclivities.  I have seen him mimic his father, playing a game on his tablet while a show plays on the TV.

With that in mind, we have determined that Friday is a no tech day.  From sun up to sun down, we cannot touch computers or tablets and the phone can only be used for its intended purpose, to make phone calls.  It drives me batty sometimes, because I just want to check my emails, but he keeps me honest.  The Boy even created a punishment if either of us are caught using within the forbidden time – One extra hour after sundown when tech is prohibited.  At least I can still use my Nook!

One may have noted that sun up to sun down is ever changing.  And that’s the plan.  My hope (for both of us) is that as the days get longer, we get better at not staring out the window, waiting for the sun to set so we can turn on the the comforting glow of our machines again.

So what do we do when there is no tech?  The Boy and Dad can be pretty creative.  In the past, we have used these days as trip days or game days.  We both are trying to be better at casual conversation, recognizing that is something we need to be able to do around “normal” people.  The joy is that we get to spend so much good time together, or we can read or do creative play, anything that will get us away from our beloved silicone friends.

Don’t feel too bad for the boy.  He is still allowed 3 hours of screen time a day, which is very permissive.  We have friends who limit it to an hour, or even thirty minutes.  Recently that rule has been slipping as well, but after we chatted this morning about getting back into our regular insanity, he did not balk at that, which makes me think he knew this was going to come to an end.  As all good things must.

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Building a Trebuchet takes no tech

 

Hello and Goodbye

2013 has come to an end.  Hallelujah!

2013 for the first half of the year decided to beat us up.  On top of the normal personal, automotive and financial struggles we like to call “life”, we were thrown the curve ball of finding a new educational platform for the Boy.  Fear, trepidation and angst riddled the family.  But we laughed through it.

Then something strange happened.  We accepted the new normal.  We met amazing and supportive people who helped us understand that this was not a negative.  The benefits out weighed the negatives.  We found new friends who, by all accounts, had it tougher than we did and yet could still lend a hand.  We reciprocated when possible, but for this year, for the most part, we thanked a lot of people.

We had family rally behind the curious new direction The Boy, The Lovely Wife and I were all taking.  I had colleagues assure me that I was still a desirable asset and that I could lean on them as friends whenever needed.

In all, we were reminded that the important things have nothing to do with Government Shut Downs, Twerking, or any one who is famous for being rich.  It is a trite and over used sentiment, but family and friends really do matter more.  And those we have in spades.

Bring it on 2014, we are ready to embrace you.

The Boy with one of our three favorite Aunts