Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today

Today

I watched as the
Children trudged, shadows long
In the early morning breeze,
To school.
Off to school, the shine already
Gone, books a burden, the
Excitement of friends not
Enough to pull their feet faster.
Faster.
While the lean shadows say
"No hurry. No hurry."
The wind, cold for August,
Is sweet. Freedom seasons
Each gust; it lies bitter on
Their lips, summer regrets
And might-have-beens, the glory
of potential gone.
And it is only
The first
Week.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why Extreme Environmentalists Scare Me

Before anyone jumps in here and starts calling me names and assuming that I want to deplete all planetary resources and leave earth as a hollow shell, I want everyone to be clear on my environmental opinions. I think clean air and clean water are wonderful things which we should work toward having. We need to work toward a clean alternative fuel for our transportation, but until then, we should make use of the reserves and resources we have. We are stewards of the earth, not its rulers. That means we should use the resources wisely, not squander them.

I also would like everyone to note that I am concerned about EXTREME environmentalists. That certainly doesn't include anyone who wants to go a little green.

Lets, face it, there are some people who have put the earth and environment so high on their priority list that they are essentially a new version of the old "Earth Mother Goddess" worshippers. Some actually admit to this. Most don't. They have their head wrapped in science and reason and all the writings about how dangerous humanity is to the earth. This attitude has been building since at least the seventies, possibly earlier. Try reading a sci-fi novel from that period. Almost all assume that humans overpopulate the earth and therefore must find other habitable planets. Earth is god(dess) and human beings are public enemy number one.

They're good lobbyists. They have a persuasive arguement and many people can listen to them and think, "Well, yeah, I agree with some of that." Please recall, though, that these people are the ones who think China's one-child policy is a great idea. You know, China, that doesn't allow freedom of worship and forces women to have abortions. That's who they point to as an example of how to help the environment. It isn't just about local produce, hybrid cars, carpooling, solar panels, wind farms, or recycling. The one true way to save the earth is to reduce the enemy. Us.

They won't go for a child limiting policy at first, but with the wrong people in the White House and on Capitol Hill, they'll lay the foundations for it. Financial incentives will be the first step. Maybe the child tax credit will disappear for any children after two. After all, two is the replacement rate; it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to stop after two children. Eventually, there may not only be no child tax credit, but children will be come a taxable item. Like a luxury tax on flesh and blood.

If we move toward a government controlled health care system, the restrictions will become even greater, and harder for people to live with. Perhaps no prenatal care for third plus children. Perhaps no health care at all, unless it is totally paid for by the parents. The message, that these extra children are a burden, not a blessing, comes through clearly. I doubt it will belong after that before mandadtory tubal litigation happens immediately after the second child's birth. Why not make it a regular c-section and take care of birth and sterilization all at once? Those who refuse the tubal may lose some or all of their health benefits for them and their family.

But don't worry, we'd be saving Mother Earth.

It might not happen in my lifetime, but if the wrong people are elected, if the extremists are allowed to lay the right foundation in law and thought, we could be looking at a future dystopia not too different from Lois Lowery's The Giver. What type of society kills people who are inconvenient? Ours. And if those in control decide that the number of births is inconvenient, don't expect any morals about the sanctity of life to stop them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back-to-School Not-so-Blues

I think the entire county was shopping back to school sales yesterday. Wal-mart and the mall were INSANE! School starts tomorrow for this community. Most of the others around here started last week, but we're a little late due to state fair. Plus, the middle school needed the extra time to finish the new roof. It's still not finished, but they got quite a bit done last week.

Even though we won't be part of the usual back to school (our only purchase was new sheets for the teen to match the comforter her grandparents gave her), here are some tips for parents and students:

For the parents:
1. Don't expect the teachers to remember you if the only time you met was for five minutes at open house.
2. Support the teachers. Comments like "Her homework policy is way out of line" give your student an excuse to be disrespectful to the teacher.
3. Contact the teacher if you have a problem and, please, wait until you are calm to do it. Going over his head or yelling at him on the phone (or in person) will only cause resentment and get you labeled as the dreaded psycho-parent.
4. Please don't e-mail every day. Not even every week unless you've made an agreement with the teacher.
5. Use powerschool.
6. Set and enforce rules and consequences with you child. This means about homework and what happens if they don't do it, what happens at home if they are in trouble at school, and following through. Bedtimes are also helpful.
7. Don't give your child a cell phone. If it's too late, please don't call or text them on it during class times.

For the students:
1. Go to bed at a reasonable time. No time after 10 pm is reasonable on a school night.
2. Homework first, video games, TV, computer, skateboarding, texting, talking with friends, etc. second.
3. If you have a cell phone, leave it in your locker, turned off. You can check messages at the end of the day. If it's in your pocket, you'll be tempted. Don't put anything on your phone you don't want the teachers and your parents to see. If the teachers take it from you, they will check your contact list and your picture gallery.
4. Make sure you have everything for the next class before you stand around talking with friends for the rest of passing period.
5. Never, never give out your locker combo--especially if you're the new student. That friendly girl who just buddied up to you might also be the class klepto.
6. Don't save food for later in your locker. It starts to smell.
7. Failing a class will not hurt the teacher. It won't even annoy the teacher. It's a really stupid way to try and get back at her. It will probably annoy your parents, but I'm sure you can think of ways to annoy them that don't include summer school or retention.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And I wasn't there

First, look at that baby countdown! Under 75 days already. I can hardly believe it.

Today was the teachers' first day back to school here. I wasn't there. I couldn't help reflecting on the difference, on how today would have been different. Of course, there are the mechanics of the day--up at 5:30 instead of 7, packing lunch instead of fixing it at home, etc--but the meat of it was the way the time was spent and the company kept.

The first day of school is usually deadly dull for teachers. Other than the pleasure of seeing one's coworkers again and catching up on all the summer news, the majority of the day (the majority of the week, often) is meetings. We gather in the commons, which is either much too hot because the air conditioning is broken (again) or much too cold because the air conditioning is working really well, but doesn't hit a set temperature easily. The principal will probably start the day with test scores and AYP information because he likes charts and numbers and made the powerpoint himself. If any goodies are served, the secretaries brought them, because the principal won't remember.

The first meeting takes all morning. It doesn't matter how much or little information is conveyed, the meeting takes all morning. Breka for lunch and a chance to escape, then back for, yup, more meetings. Maybe CPR training. CPr training is good, but I'm glad I don't have to do it while I'm pregnant again because it involves a lot of getting down on the floor and getting up again.

By the end of the day, I'm exhausted, even though I don't feel like I've done anything useful.

My day today, thankfully did not involve meetings. It did not involve a screaming tearful farewell between the toddler and me at the babysitter's house. I woke and did my morning routine. I woke the girls, dressed the fed the toddler, let the teen dress and feed herself (okay, so I made her eggs; I'm good at making eggs). We had our Spanish lesson and we've added health to the day, so we had that lesson as well. We ran errands, which involved stopping by the HS with the intent of telling them that Chalea is no longer a student. They were having meetings in their commons, which is between the front door and office. So that didn't get done. I really want to tell them that she needs to be taken off the enrollment because they get the money for her until she is taken off. They aren't teaching her, so they don't need the money.

After lunch, we took Lilli to the playground for a little bit, took her home and put her down for a nap. Chalea watched her while I went to a doctor's app.

Different? Oh definitely. Less stress, for one. Time to put my pregnant feet up for another. Maybe the lack of stress will prevent me from developing pre-eclampsia and having to induce the baby early this time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Off to the Fair

Actually, we have already been to the State Fair. The first few days are free, so we can browse the exhibits (I like the quilts--some are just glorious) and the vendors without paying $4 a head. It's still a moneytrap, but not quite so bad, especially if we eat first. Fair food is neither cheap nor healthy (yum, funnel cakes, mini doughnuts, kettle corn, and the splendid catering tent) and it's all TEMPTING! We did buy a pin for me. I've been drooling over the recycled angel pins made by a local lady for a few years and I finally bought one for myself. She uses jewelry to construct the engels and they're just beautiful. I had a terrible time deciding. We also bought Lilli a knitted poncho and Chalea a personalized bracelet and learned that my Spanish still needs a lot of work (not a surprise).

Speaking of, we started Chalea's Spanish class this week. I think she's has a bit of an advantage over some students, since she has heard Spanish ever since she was a baby. The pronunciations seem to come pretty easy for her and she's doing alright with the vocabulary.

The house is STILL up for sale. I know, I know, I'm supposed to wait for God's timing and be patient and everything, but I'm having some trouble with that. It's hard to see why moving later rather than sooner would be a good thing right now, especially as I get rounder and rounder. On my last baby, I had terrible side pains during the last trimester that made lifting or being too active difficult. I also developed pre-eclampsia and had to be induced early. We want to avoid both of those situations this time. Hopefully, not working will help (My doctor seems to think it will), but moving a household isn't exactly stress-free either. So those of you out there who pray, keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Books! The Books Have Arrived!

There is something a bit awe-inspiring about seeing an entire sophmore curriculum in a box. It's one thing to see the list of classes on paper, but a completely different one to have the textbooks staring me in the face. Wowza! Frankly, despite nine years of teaching, this is intimidating. I knew I would be completely responsible for Chalea's entire HS education from here on in, but I didn't know know, if that makes sense.

Each subject has a teachers guide with a day-by-day break down for the subject. I know exactly what and how much to teach on day one, day two, day three and on until day 180 or more. Of course, because it is home schooling and flexibility is one of the main advantages, I can speed up lessons that Chalea learns quickly and slow down and reteach on the ones she struggles with. I know the public school try to do tailored Individual Education Plans for students who struggle, but here, I have the ultimate IEP. Totally one-on-one and at the student's speed.

Yeah, I'm excited. Life was feeling weird, knowing that fellow teachers go back to school on the 18th, and students on the 25th and remembering that neither Chalea nor I will be joining them. This makes it less strange. I will still be teaching. Chalea will still be learning. Lilli will still be making life very busy and interesting. And our Baby Bean will be coming along too. I could not be more busy if I had continued as a public school teacher, but I would have been less happy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Time Evaporates

I cannot beleive that it's august already, that State Fair is almost here, that school will be starting in about three weeks (enjoy it while you can teachers and kids). We spoke with the surriculum coulselors at Seton Home Study program this week. They received my oldest's entrance exams and we worked out which classes she needs. Here's her "Class Schedule", though it has nothing to do with how much time we'll spend on each and which time slots we'll use:
Algebra 1
world history
Spanish 1
earth science/health (she has to make up a semester of earth science and the health class is one semester)
Religion 9
Literature 10
We've discussed the possibility of her joining the choir class at the high school (and just the choir class), but I'm not sure we'll do that. There are a lot of activities available through the community there, including sports, acting, various dance classes, all sorts of very active 4-H clubs, and volunteer opportunities. I don't see any reason to put her back into the HS drama and trama scene, even if it's only for 90 minutes every other day. We will try to get her into the driver's ed program, which is after school anyway and will give her an extra credit this year.

I'm excited for the books to arrive. I'm really excited about teaching world history and religion (doctrine this year) because those are two things I enjoyed studying myself. She's never had world history, so it will be nice to introduce something totally new. The math overlaps a little, but that's not a bad thing, in math.