Ah, Yes, Standardized

That word “standardized” in standardized testing is there for a reason and I need to remember that when the test scores come back in a few weeks and show that my 2nd grader hasn’t gotten the traditional standardized 2nd grade history education yet. I’m not worried – I know she’s been getting history education, but apparently it looks differently than that of the other kids.

When I picked the girls up today from their testing site, I asked if they remembered any of the questions and if they thought they knew the answers or if they had to guess at any of them. Maddie said that for the test on environmental studies, they asked her a question that said, “Which black woman refused to give up her seat on a bus and was put in jail for it?” She said, “I choose the one with glasses.” Anyone know if Rosa wore glasses? We’ll find out I guess. She then told me that another question asked her to name the woman who made the first American flag and that it started with a Betsy. Those two she had to guess on.

I panicked for a minute as I thought I’d forgotten some pretty important parts of her education, but then just as quickly remembered that American history comes later on the 4 year classical cycle, and that we’ve pretty thoroughly covered the Ancients by now. I guessed that the standardized tests didn’t ask her many questions about the ancient civilizations.

That’s okay, because I already know what she knows. And we’ll get to Rosa Parks and Betsy Ross soon.

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Cair Paravel

The Queens of Cair Paravel

A fellow homeschool family gave us their old playhouse last week. The catch involved was simply that we had to haul it home and then (ahem) rebuild it from a series of photos the original owner took when he tore it down.

If you know Craig at all, bless his soul, you know that “construction” isn’t one of the first words he puts on his resume, and that I am usually the one to use the tools around here (though he is stronger, by far, and very useful for lifting; he also hangs a darn straight picture).

But, as soon as finals were over, he borrowed a friend’s truck and made three trips between here and there and here again hauling all the parts of the goofy thing over here. And then, though I begged him to wait for some help, he began constructing it. Alone. And with just a bit of help here and there from Ed, and some roof raising help from Dick and Peter Schamp, he did it. He built the girls their very own Cair Paravel.

He had a coronation ceremony tonight in which he presented the four queens of the castle with flowers and led them in a line up to their thrones.

Ladder of Ladies

And here’s the self-titled Court Jester himself:

Court Jester

He did it. And he’s got the blisters, splinter spots, and callouses to prove it. The girls are thrilled and he says that he’s bought himself some time from my need-to-move-every-two-years-attachment-disorder. I just told him that I wouldn’t make him tear it down and move it with us.

*Grin*

I’m so proud of him, as he did this and we’re all still speaking to each other.

And Colorado friends, if that didn’t make you drop over dead to know that Craig did this pretty large building project almost entirely by himself, then this might: I made vegetarian hamburgers last night and after rolling his eyes at me, he tried one and said, “Okay, I guess it’s not really that bad.”

Times, they are a changing!

Sweet, Dangerous Job

I had an easy job this weekend. I was paid $20 an hour to sit and watch the front of a store and record how many people used a certain type of machine. I did this for 8 hours (2 shifts of four hours each). While watching for people to use the machine I watched movies on my computer and perused the Veritas Press catalog.

Let me tell you, The $160 I made this weekend would barely put a dent into everything I think I now need for homeschooling next year after drooling over the catalog for longer than necessary.
And is there anything for making you feel like you’ve made all the wrong curriculum decisions up to now like looking at a totally new resource with totally new books and wondering if your children have missed out for the past few years? (That’s not a real question – I know that isn’t true. Yet looking at the catalog did make me feel like that just a bit.)

I know there are probably folks who used Sonlight and switched to Veritas material. When did you switch (if you switched)? Was there enough teacher guidance to help you make the switch (I’m addicted to the Sonlight instructor guide)? Has anyone done Sonlight, but thrown in other things from Veritas? Did you drive yourself nuts by doing so?

I want to do it all, but neither time nor budget will allow for that. Aarrrggghhh!!

It Must Have Been the Earrings

Or it could have just been the alcohol.

There’s a first for everything, they say. Right? I got called, “Beautiful” by a strange man in the grocery store tonight and I started laughing right on the spot. If you could only see me you would understand why. I’m wearing the shorts I wear to jog in and a simple grey t-shirt along with my bright blue Crocs. Oh yes, and a cardigan sweater because I was a bit cold when I left for the store at 9:30 tonight.

Did you catch that? It was 9:30 when I left and I went to the bank first, which put me at the store close to 10. It was 10:30 when he saw me. What mother of four looks beautiful at 10:30 at night, wearing running shorts and having just completed a full round of grocery shopping? Beautiful wasn’t exactly the word I would have used to describe myself.

I chalk it up to the fact that I never took my earrings off today. That, or the fact that he was obviously drunk and we passed each other while he was perusing the beer case which I was walking by on my way back for the enchilada sauce I forgot during  my first trip through.

“Hey, Beautiful,” he said. And I laughed. Out loud.

I Highly Recommend This

I'll tell you what – when going through a blog funk, a good thing to do is to crash your site. Then you can spend many  hours creating a new one and transferring old stuff over and you sort of feel like you are participating in the blog thing without really contributing anything new.
I highly recommend this.

Recreate vs. Re-create

This was the little talk we used to get at Eagle Lake, just as the campers were going home and we’d have the weekend off: be sure to use your weekend to re-create instead of recreate. It’s cemented into my mind. Yet we did just the opposite this weekend and we’re all about to drop dead. Sure, it’s a good kind of tired, but I’m bone-tired and I don’t like it that much.

We spent ten hours at Six Flags yesterday. TEN HOURS!! Because we’re nutso like that. I have brusies on the left side of my leg because of The Boss and a lingering headache from that ride plus The Ninja. I think I may be getting a bit too old for some of that stuff. Tony Hawk’s Big Spin, though, was a lot of fun, save the 45 minute line for the 2-minute ride.

The girls went to bed really late last night and we slept in a bit today, so that we only made it for the worship service this morning instead of the whole morning. Immediately after church, we had to get Maddie and Chloe ready for their spring concert with the St. Louis Children’s Choirs. That took over the afternoon. Then tonight Craig and I went to a shower in honor of our friends Tom and Christine. We left that at 9:30 which meant the girls went to bed very late for a second night in a row. Katie and Millie haven’t had naps in two days and they don’t really know the meaning of sleeping in (not like I do anyway), so their internal alarms will still go off at their normal times. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun with all of us low on the sleep-o-meter.

We didn’t listen well to the re-create advice. Maybe some of that is in order for tomorrow. As for me, I’m going to bed right now, a full 90 minutes earlier than I normally do. I’m willing to bet it won’t take me long to fall asleep.

Night.

Feeling the Coming Summer

We had a great school week this week. Really, really great. I was so encouraged by it because I had been so discouraged by things previously. I think maybe not having any seminary work to do contributed to our great week somewhat and I can own my part in that. Maddie, who has had struggles with math, even in spite of our new program, turned a mental corner this week too, and has been fun to teach math to. That’s a huge improvement.

I congratulated the girls today on a great school week and told them I needed one more full-fledged good week out of them. After that we’ll do testing and then we’ll move into a modified summer/school schedule, which for June will be more summer than school due to our VBS, travel, and day camp plans, but that’s okay. I do have things I need to do with them academically this summer, but I think it will be good for them to feel like they’ve gotten a legitimate break for a couple of weeks. I may need it too, honestly.

I’ve already decided, along with Craig, that I need, need, need to have our mornings free and clear in order to both build momentum and also just to pull it off. This means I won’t be participating in our church’s women’s Bible study next year and I won’t be trucking Katie and Millie over to the seminary for Mom’s Morning Out because Mom’s Morning Out really usually turns into My Day Off With Kids – we seldom recover well from those 2.5 hours to get any meaningful schooling done.

I’m making these decisions now, when I feel the implications of having lived those decisions all year and not at the beginning of the fall when the amnesia of summer has made me forget why I thought it was necessary in May. Somebody hold me to it!

I’m feeling the weight of a lot of things begin to come off my shoulders now and I’m glad for that. I’m looking forward to the summer – and to the fall.

My Own Chicken Creation

I don’t make up my own recipes very often – I’m a “have to follow the rules down to the very last measure” kind of cook. Tonight, though, I made up my own chicken recipe. Don’t laugh – it has two ingredients:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Trader Joe’s Peach Salsa

Boil the chicken, cut it all up, dump it back into a skillet and toss with Joe’s Peach Salsa. YUMMY!!! It came out to like 1 point per 1.5 ounces of chicken, so it was a lot of food for the points. It will definitely be made again, particularly as both of those items are staples in my pantry/freezer.

And that concludes this episode of “Cooking with Megan.” Everything else from here on out will more than likely be pre-measured and published somewhere else first.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

My friend Joanna invited me to hang out with her last night at her (Very Nice) gym. The kind where they had a spa night which included a mini-massage by a licensed therapist. It was heavenly. After our 75 minutes of “spa” treatment, we went to the hot tub to hang out some more. The pool at this gym is the kind that’s really fun for kiddos, and my kids would have loved it. It had a water slide, a lazy river, and various other large plastic pool climbing toy things – you get the picture.

The water in the hot tub was super duper hot. Really too hot, if you ask me, and I like water really hot. When we got out we were burning up, so we thought we’d just get in the regular pool for a bit. This is out of character for me too because once I’ve been in a hot tub, there is no putting me in a regular pool afterwards. No way, no how. But we did last night. We rode around the lazy river commenting on how weird it was to be in the pool without our kids. Then we looked at the water slide. Looked at each other. Looked back at the water slide. And… went down it like squealing 7-year-olds.

After we got ready to go back up again, we were informed by the lifeguard that really the water slide was closed and we couldn’t go down again because there wasn’t a lifeguard manning the slide. We were a bit disappointed, but we didn’t cry or anything. Right away another staff member came up to us and said that it would be okay if we went down the slide again. Guess we looked like we could handle ourselves in the water. We started to climb back up when he called out to us, “Just… one at a time, okay?”

As if 2 middle-aged moms were going to try to make a train going down a water slide. I guess if you act 7 you get treated like you’re 7. We laughed the whole way back up the steps. And then went down three more times.

Thoughts on Mother ’s Day

Happy Birthday to my sister, Michelle today. And happy Mother’s Day to my own mom, as well as all the rest of you to whom this applies.

May today be a reminder to all of us, not of our children’s great need for us, but of our great need for them. May we not turn inward today, thinking of all the ways our families can serve us, likewise, may we not get frustrated when our children continue to act like children today (that, after all is the point, right?).

So, as you go throughout your day, making breakfast, cleaning breakfast up, getting your crew ready for church, playing referee, and solving the world’s problems for those under 7, be encouraged. Your family needs you and you need them, lest all of us spend life thinking only about ourselves.