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first day of school, homeschool

We started with such high hopes and giddy excitement! He did too!

My first official day as a homeschooler ended with a massive headache, lots of chocolate covered banana chips and a phone call to my mother and Mema Kathy that might have included the phrase,

“Public school doesn’t start until Wednesday.  It’s not too late!”

Oh. dear.

Turns out, all 3 of my kids (including the 6-year-old) are teething and/or getting over a virus. Therefore, the excessive whining and fussing was understandable.  Annoying, but understandable.  And Diet Coke fixes many ills.

Day 2, however, ended with my son in my lap, tears in both of our eyes and frustration beating our heads and tearing our hearts.  Over the word melt.

Somehow that silly /t/ at the end kept coming out of his mouth a /k/ and then since he knew that wasn’t right, he tried milk. 5 times.  Then somehow a super fun game to practice word ending blends disintegrated into, well, the aforementioned mess.

And sitting in the kitchen with my arms around my son, I very deeply realized a few things.

1. Kathy was very right: as a former public school teacher, I am going to have a harder time teaching my own son.  I know how to push a class of students to achieve and I know how to teach curriculum to a class of 6th graders. But that means jack.  Eight years down the tubes, folks, because we are starting over.  Ok, I am starting over. And now I’m excited because I thought I knew what I was doing.  Since it’s clear I don’t, this qualifies as a new adventure.  And my Poppie taught me that I like a challenge in an adventure;)

2. Even the very young are susceptible to the insidious lies of the enemy.  Sprout kept saying, “It’s just too, too hard!  I just can’t!” What he was thinking: “I must be dumb because I am not getting this.  And if I’m dumb that means I will never get it. And oh, please! Someone tell me I’m wrong!  I really want to be wrong on this one! I want to be smart and I want to understand this!”

3. My desire for perfection will kill my son’s love of learning.  enough said:(

4. My rear on that kitchen floor, erasing the lies on my son’s heart, was the single most valuable thing I accomplished today.

I just looked up the word melt because sometimes you only think you know a word.

melt: verb. 1. become liquified by heat 2. melt something, esp. a metal article, so that the material it is made of can be used again 3. become more tender or loving

Obviously, we (the Sprout and I) are being heated in a furnace.  Maybe only to “become more tender or loving.” (See def #3). But I happen to know that the One who places people into burning furnaces is

#1-in the fire with them. And

#2-always has a purpose for which He is working.  It is usually something of great beauty.

Strangely at peace and needing another Diet Coke,


PS-Just in case you didn’t notice that Jesus is working on my perfection issue, I’ll point out to you that I misspelled “be” in the Sprout’s first day sign.  It will forever annoy me and yet make me laugh because it really is ok;)


Ode to My Sander

Sander,                                                                                                                    Oh, my random orbital sander,                                                                                    how I love you.

Spinning, smoothing, shaping, saving                                                                        my fingers from printless existence,                                                                            projects using you are not few.

I hate sanding by hand,                                                                                                I really, really, really, really despise sanding by hand.                                               Open the gates!                                                                                                    Throw wide the sash!                                                                                              With my sander, I can sand anything…as can you;)


A bit of cheesy poetry to liven your day:)

What’s your favorite power tool?

Finding a Stronger Voice: City of Orphans by Avi

I fell in love with Avi’s writings a looonnnggg time ago.  Enough years ago that a kid could have grown into a smart-mouthed teenager and graduated from college (sigh). Of course, it was the magnificent The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle that gripped me.  I attribute my strange love for sailing ships (and yes, I do know a main from a mizzen) to beginning with this novel though it continued to grow to obsession thanks to Patrick O’Brian.

But I also grew into a reading teacher and a bit of disillusionment sunk in.  Crispin: The Cross of Lead was, frankly, disappointing.  The plot banal, characterization flat.  A character’s continual open mouth confusion is only intriguing for a few pages.  And it won a Newberry!

I picked out City of Orphans at the library, attracted by the title, before I realized who wrote it.

city of orphans, avi, book review, And I kind of liked it.

The characters Maks and Willa are not looking for an adventure but simply enough to eat and keep a crummy roof over their family’s head.  However, a mystery is thrust upon them involving gangs, theft, the newly opened Waldorf hotel and a wrongly accused sister who must be vindicated to the conclusion.

Beyond the main plot, which adults may find a tad simple but will grip younger readers, you see a family barely subsisting on meager earning that invites a lonely street dweller in because she needs them.  Though they are poor, they make room. Really puts things in perspective when you’re tempted to complain about things today.

And Avi is finding a stronger voice these days.  He effectively appropriates the syntax and grammar of a New York immigrant family and tonight I have a difficult time not saying, “yous,” because I can still hear Maks’s voice in my head.  The strong use of voice makes this an even easier read to see as a realistic place.

Nonetheless, I may have to amend all my positive comments if Avi decides to turn this into a series.   City of Orphans tells a complete story and further attempts to use the same characters would cheapen its impact.

City of Orphans does not gloss over the absolute wretchedness that filled nineteenth century New York City, but it handles some very weighty issues appropriately for even a 4th or 5th grader. In the end, hope is passed to the next generation and every reader needs that once in a while.

Disclaimer: My opinion is my own.  I picked this up at my local library and you can too;)