Category Archives: Random musings

A little self assessment – good for the homeschool.

Here I am!

Yes, I fell off the face of the planet for a little while. We, and by we I really mean I, were in a bit of a sophomore slump with homeschooling. There might have been a few parent/child relationship issues and there might have been some illness issues. But let’s just say that life creeped up on me and the last thing I had the energy for was putting myself “out there.”  I suppose the fact that I’m writing this now means I’m starting to rebound a bit.

So…homeschooling sophomore slump. I’ve no idea if there really is such a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there is. Just about everything we tried last year worked so we kept it up, but somewhere along the way school became a struggle, too much like work.  There were daily arguments: “Mom, do I HAVE to do that?” and even, my worst nightmare: “MOM, I HATE SCHOOL!” Uh-oh, clearly it was time to face the music and figure out what needs to change.

I’ve begun to realize that I have been taking too much responsibility for EJ’s education and have not let him become responsible for himself. We do too much together. I ask him to do too little, and often the wrong things, by himself. The flip side is that I have to look at what my expectations are and try not to fit too much in each day. I don’t think I’m too far off the mark, but sometimes I feel like I’m rushing through things. I’ve noticed I have a tendency to talk too much. I say what comes to my mind often over-complicating a topic. I suspect that having EJ do more on his own will help solve both issues although undoubtedly it will bring up others. As I start planning for next year I’m trying out some small changes now to see if they feel like the right direction. So far there has been improvement so I’m optimistic.

Mr. Hamp recently asked me if I thought there might be a time we would put the boys back in school. He is on board with homeschooling 100% but he saw how frustrated we all were on one particular day. I have to consider this question thoughtfully and honestly with myself.  Certainly I could and would, if I had to, but truthfully my philosophy about education has changed to the point that I simply can’t see us ever going back to a traditional type education. It’s pretty obvious to me that I’m in this for the long run, so I need to constantly stay on my toes and remember my first rule of homeschooling:

“Be flexible and if it ain’t working, find a new way!”

I’m wondering about other homeschoolers? Maybe this never happens to you, but it seems unlikely. I imagine that everyone one of us has our difficult periods where homeschooling just doesn’t seem to be working. So how do you refresh and reset when you realize that you’ve lost your way?


How do we know…

Wow! I read terrific post on Pharyngula yesterday that I just want to share.  In Dear Emma B. Myers takes issue with a somewhat canned question asked by a 9-year-old girl about the age of objects, in this case a 3.75 billion year old moon rock.

Emma asks a museum docent “Were you there?” after looking at a moon rock display. Emma has clearly been coached to ask this question because it’s an obvious “gotcha!” This isn’t a question so much as a statement of belief that we can’t possibly know ‘because we weren’t there’. There are a great many events in human history alone that none of us were present for. How can I know they happened? Because there is evidence that they happened. Imagine if you only believed things that happened while you were present. How can we know about the civil war? Ancient cultures? How about dinosaurs? How can we know they even existed if humans weren’t there to see them? (Yes I realize that the same people who fed this non question to Emma also believe that dinosaurs and humans co-existed). The point is, none of us were there so by this logic we simply can’t know. No one really believes this right? It’s a ploy and a cheap one at that.

Myers writes a fabulous letter that will never be sent to Emma, explaining why a better question would have been “How do you know that?”

You could have asked the lady at the exhibit, “How do you know that moon rock is 3.75 billion years old?”, and she would have explained it to you. Maybe you would disagree with her; maybe you’d think there’s a better answer; maybe you’d still want to believe Ken Ham, who is not a scientist; but the important thing is that you’d have learned why she thought the rock was that old, and why scientists have said that it is that old, and how they worked out the age, even if they weren’t there. And you’d be a little bit more knowledgeable today.

He then goes on to explain radiometric dating in a way a young child can easily understand.

One way to think of it is that it’s like an hourglass. You know how they work: you start with all the sand in the top half of the hourglass, and it slowly trickles into the bottom half. If you see an hourglass with all the sand at the top and none at the bottom, you know it was recently flipped over. If you see one with half the sand in the top, and half in the bottom, you know it’s about halfway through the time it will run. And if you look at how quickly the sand moves through the neck of the hourglass, you could even figure out how long until it all runs out.

Read the entire letter. Really, it’s worth 5 minutes of your day. So far, my kids accept the fact the Earth is 4.5 billion years ago. They’ve never asked “how do I know that?” Perhaps our studies have been just that convincing!  It seems more likely it just never occurred to EJ to ask and if so, then I have been remiss. As a secular home educator it’s important to me that my kids understand and think about what they are learning and not just accept what I or anyone else tells them as unquestionable fact. But, they need to have the mental tools to think critically so as to not be tricked by this kind of  “gotcha!” question. Even better would be for someone they know to ask them “how do you know that?” and being able to answer the question.

I’m guilty…

…blog neglect. This is why I will never become rich or famous from my blog. Well, that and the fact that I probably don’t have anything original to say.

Honestly my life is either not that interesting, or I’m too busy to think about something to write. It doesn’t help that I’m a really slow writer with a short attention span and kids that seem to want or need me the second I sit down to write.

So just a quicky today. Our routine has been non-existent lately, EJ convinced me we needed to take the week off from homeschooling because it was his birthday. That’s right, we need a week! This after only starting back up after a long four week break for moving. I’ll admit I wasn’t that hard to convince. But he’s been doing nothing but watching TV, playing the Wii, the computer, and my iPhone. My fault really. Today I told him no more for the rest of the day so he immediately set about looking for a friend to play with. He’s so much the extrovert to my introvert; we are a lot alike in many ways but complete opposite in this way.

Hopefully I’ll get back into the routine and feel like I have more to write about, although perhaps not so much until after the summer. I do have a birthday to write about soon, after the party.

Poppy Microphotography

After learning that we have poppies I ran across these amazing microscope photos at Microscopy–UK. I really love close-up photography and the abstractly beautiful images it can create. Even more amazing once you realize that you are looking at the teeny, tiny hairs of a poppy stigma along with tiny spheres of pollen.

Here’s a rather common flower, a childhood favorite. Do you recognize it?

Now? Do you like butter?

There are many more microscopic views of flowers and crystals. The virtual “Micropolitian Museum” looks like an interesting resource for learning about microscopic beasties or just marveling at the diversity of life on our planet. I’m off to explore some more!

Wordless Wednesday: Our Backyard

I am in over my head in with the landscaping in our new yard! Rather than do the work that needs to be done I decided to snap a few photos (something I’m much more comfortable with).

Our Friendly Bunny

I need your help! I have no idea what the flowers in the first and last two photos are called. If you know, please leave me a comment. Thanks!

Catching up and a story: Code Adam.

We are still unpacking and getting settled into our house but it’s already feeling like home. It helps to know that, barring unforeseen circumstances, we should never have to move again.

Today I wanted to take a break from unpacking to share something experienced by my husband and JD (5) while they were out shopping yesterday.

As you can probably imagine after moving, it seems like we are at Lowes or Home Depot daily, and that was where my husband and JD were when the ‘incident’ as I like to call it, happened. The shopping was done and the boys were checking out. The cashier convinced Mr. Hamp to sign up for a Home Depot credit card because she could give him the $30 shower sprayer he was buying for free, and 10% off the rest of his order. Awesome! Unfortunately that is where things became chaotic to say the least.

JD who had insisted on sitting in the shopping cart, decided he wanted to get out and move around. In the confusion of trying to answer the cashier’s questions for the credit, my husband lost sight of JD and casually mentioned to the cashier that he had lost track of his kid. Now, he wasn’t asking for help. He was NOT reporting a missing child. I assume he only mentioned it so the cashier would understand when he walked away for a moment. I would have done exactly the same thing.

His cashier, who happened to be the shift-manager, must have heard something different because she immediately went into action. She called a Code Adam. All employees shift into gear to find the missing child, the store is in lock-down. The shift manager answers another customer’s innocent question with “I CAN’T HELP YOU NOW, CAN’T YOU SEE WE’VE GOT A CODE ADAM” (or something like that). Seriously, to hear Mr. Hamp tell the story, it was pandemonium.

My husband is flustered, taken aback by the over-reaction which seemed more “OMG, A CHILD HAS BEEN STOLEN,” instead of, “Oops my active 5 year old got curious and decided to check out the rock salt just around the corner where I can’t see him.” Bewildered, JD who didn’t know he had done anything wrong, was quickly located and a stranger led him by the arm back to dad.

I know if it had been me, I would have been mortified. I understand that stores need to have procedures in place for particular situations. But a little common sense should be used before putting the procedure into action. My husband wasn’t given even a few minutes to look for JD before the alarm was called. My kids have the run of our small neighborhood, go to public restrooms by themselves, and even sometimes are trusted to {gasp!} go out of sight in the grocery store to grab something I forgot from an earlier aisle! In short, they know how to handle themselves when out of mommy and daddy’s sight. My husband wasn’t panicked, why was the employee? Could it be that the media has drilled into our collective psyche that children are in danger every second of the day (even though it’s not true)? Perhaps it was simply inexperience that caused the manager to over-react. I really don’t know. I’m not saying Code Adam shouldn’t exist. I’m just saying that it should be rarely used, because it is extremely rare for children to be abducted by strangers in public. Isn’t there something that can be done BEFORE all out panic ensues scaring everyone for no good reason?

Most people do not need to experience code Adam. My husband and child should not have experienced code Adam. It’s not a big deal in the long run, it just makes me wonder where we are going if we are afraid all the time.

Is that you blog?

I hear you calling me every now and then and yet I haven’t returned your siren call. Yes, I’m still here but my brain has not had time to think about writing much. Stuff happening, life, new house, blood, rain.

Today it is rainy and cold, just as it has been for the three previous days and just as it’s supposed to be for the next several days. My children are going bonkers being inside. JD is quite the instigator and I’ve had to put out a restraining order on him for poor EJ who is at the butt of JD’s antics.

Seriously though what has been going on here lately?


Battle Wounds

Well, poor JD was hit in the face with a metal baseball bat on May 6th. He’s doing fine now, healing well but it was quite an ordeal for all of us. We haven’t been doing much school, instead getting ready for the move and taking a long break until we gear up for summer learning. This is most likely contributing to the kids being bonkers as I mentioned above. We have painters and floor guys in and out of the new house, it’s starting to look really amazing, we can hardly wait to move.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an introvert. I often say things like “I’m not a high energy person,” or “I don’t DO busy well.”  But I always feel that these sound like cop-outs to most people. See it turns out that it’s not all in my head, there are some actual brain chemistry differences between extroverts and introverts. Seriously, this explains a lot and I think I am on the fairly extreme end of introverted. Too bad introversion is listed in the psych DSM as a disorder. I had a blog post planned, but right now it’s lost in the beautiful mess of our life. Hopefully I’ll get back to it later.

I started working on a project I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I have approximately 4,500 photos on my hard drive, mostly from when the kids were babies, that I want to go through. Edit and delete, upload to Flickr and save to my external hard-drive. I love looking at those early photos, and I’m always struck by how alike they look. Different yes, but no one would ever mistake them for anything but brothers.