Monday, March 31, 2008

Bonjour and all That

This morning we launched a new experiment. The older kids have finished their history and math for the year and have only 3 chapters left in science, so I decided it was time to learn a foreign language. Only instead of an hour a day for eternity, we're going to approach language in the most natural way I know how...


The language of choice is French since that's the language I and my husband speak that is spoken in more than one country.

The plan is to do 3 hours of French immersion a day for the week, then increase that amount of time each week through the month.

The first reaction to the plan was from the 6-year old who sat through about 20 seconds of French before announcing, "I don't know ANY of those words. STOP IT!" She settled into the routine with her sisters, though, as we had Bible time, grammar, reading, vocabulary. To celebrate making it through our first morning, we had crepes and played Monopoly, all in French. I'm surprised at how much the kids have learned and retained over the years. Their pronunciation is good and they understand a lot of basic commands.

So we build on a foundation already laid. I wonder if they'll be speaking in complete sentences by the end of the month. I wonder if I'm ruining their ears for true French with my less-than-perfect French/American/African accent.

I wonder if this will be the most brilliant use of homeschooling time we've ever conceived.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Truth of Seuss

All I needed to know, I learned from children's books.

*The doctor is your friend. (Benjamin Bunny Visits the Doctor)

*If you believe and work hard, anything can happen. (The Carrot Seed)

*Love is best expressed in person. (A Kiss for Little Bear)

*Tastes Change. Try something new every once in a while. (Green Eggs and Ham)

*Never Tease a Weasel. (I just like to say that!)

And from the classic, Horton Hears a Who!...

*A person's a person no matter how small.

I always liked that one, since I was the shortest person in my class. Horton Hears a Who has some other great messages (notwithstanding the jabs about narrow minded kangaroos who choose to pouchschool their joeys to keep them from exposure to new ideas). The movie's worth a gander or, if you prefer, you can always read the book. One idea that has stuck with me this week is that the poor little guys in Whoville, who live on a speck but don't know it, cannot see that their speck is being protected by none other than Horton the elephant. I love their realization that Horton, their protector, is so big they can neither see nor hear him.

I know someone like that.

Huge-normous or itsy-tiny. It's all a matter of perspective.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It Ain't Over til It's Over

Special Bulletin: Homeschool Ruling Vacated; Court Will Reconsider

Pacific Justice Institute reports that the California ruling that outlawed homeschooling in California has been vacated. The case will be reheard beginning in late April.

If this is an issue that concerns you, it is not yet the time to cry victory. Vigilance and perserverance and prayer will help preserve our liberties.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Can't Wait!

The month of December always dragged by. Now it seems to zoom past. 2008 is already a quarter done and I'm still writing 2004 on my checks.

Some things were hard to wait for as a kid - Christmas, Birthday, Summer Vacation. "I can't wait!" I'd declare.

"Yes, you can. And you will." That was Dad's wisdom. He was right.

Now I find the things I'm waiting for a little less pleasant. I wait in line at the grocery store. I wait for results to come back from the lab on blood tests.

And today... I wait to hear from an agent. I just dropped my book proposal in the mail and already I'm eager to hear back. "Expect to hear from us in 6-8 weeks," they say.

6-8 weeks? That's as long as I used to have to wait for my order to come from Montgomery Ward. (Not quite as long ago as the Wells Fargo Wagon, but close!)

My daughter ordered something the other day. The instructions read like this:
  • Fill out appropriate forms.
  • Send in envelope provided (no postage necessary if mailed in the US)
  • Wait impatiently for 3-4 weeks.

I think I'll wait impatiently for 6-8 weeks. I can do that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Memory Triggers

Memory is a funny thing. Little sights, sounds and smells trigger responses we think are long buried.

Driving north from my house, I pass under a line of flowering plum trees that make me think of Anne of Green Gables.

The smell of creosote and salt water takes me home faster than any other smell. The sound of home is the constant drumming of rain water falling off a roof onto a piece of plywood. (I'm sure Dad had a good reason for putting that plywood right outside my window. Rain is white noise to me now.)

The hot cross buns rising on my stove top tonight have triggered a string of memories about my best college buddy who insisted on making them every year in the old dorm oven. I wonder how she's doing. I bet she's making hot cross buns now, too.

Songs can be that way. Most of the music that takes me down memory lane are the songs we sang in church, songs that are such a part of me I'll be singing them when the rest of my brain has turned to mush. Songs that are so fixed in my heart that I'll never forget the words. Songs that will usher me out of this life. You have songs like that, too.

What triggers your dormant memories? What makes it all come flooding back?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Point Made

The people in the photos yesterday are Debbie Macomber, whose hundred or so books have sold more than 100 million copies, and Jerry Jenkins, whose 170 books have sold 65 million copies. Two of the most successful authors in modern America... yet their faces are not recognized by many.

An author is a behind the scenes celebrity. Success does not promise fame or fortune, though both are possible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pop Quiz!

Do you know who the people on the left in each of these photos are? Leave a comment to let me know (yes or no - don't tell the name) and I'll tell you the answer in a day or two.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


blog readability test

These little ditties intrigue me. Is this a random assignment of the reading level needed to understand my blog? If so - and if you're a regular reader - congratulations.

Perhaps you'd like to explain it all to me some day.

Saints Alive!

As I was walking into the doctor's office, a woman was walking out with six children. One was blind, one ran in circles, one was screaming his head off because he wanted to get a shot, but didn't.

An older man behind them said, "That woman is a saint."

I used to want to be a saint. Now I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Total Waste

It was a dark and stormy night.

Well, actually, it was almost dark and kind of drizzly, but wet enough that I didn't want to stand in it. I pushed my overflowing grocery cart out to the car, anticipating standing under the open hatch to keep my self dry.

As I pushed the cart off the sidewalk, I checked to make sure none of my bags was slipping. The cup o noodles balanced nicely on top of the bag of dog food. The canvas grocery bags fit nicely inside with cart with plastic bags perched atop.

Then it happened. A plastic bag slipped from the corner of the cart and hit the ground with a sploosh.

A quart of cherry yogurt splotted everywhere, covering the cans of juice that shared its bag and spilling out into a pink sludgy river. I scooped up the bag and carried it in one hand, pushing my overfilled cart with the other.

What a waste. A whole quart of yogurt sacrificed on the wet pavement. I felt the loss.

But not as much as I did earlier this week when a powerpoint production I'd worked on for two hours didn't get shown because...

...I forgot to send it as an attachment.

Two hours down the drain. Two grains of sand in the hourglass.


What a waste.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Born That Way

In Togo there was an expression - "Elle est née comme ça!"

She was born that way.

I know I can learn to do anything I set my mind to, but I've got to admit, I was born without a certain gene that would come in handy this month - the gene that would make me thrilled about doing my taxes.

Remember Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins? His dream for his children was that their little cups of joy would overflow at the site of ledgers and profit sheets.

I was not born that way.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Homeschool Whiplash - Action Requested

A California court ruling on February 28, 2008, took the case of one homeschooling family and changed the law for the whole state of California. According to this new ruling, no family can homeschool its children unless at least one parent is a certified teacher.

This ruling directly affects 166,000 children in California, and indirectly affects a whole lot more. (about 4 million kids in the USA)

As a homeschool parent who used to hold a teaching certificate, I know from both the education standpoint and the mother's standpoint that my ability to educate has nothing to do with my college degree. It has more to do with knowing and loving my kids as individuals and wanting what is best for them. In our family, that means diving in deeper with history with one, geology with another, reading together several times a day with the third.

I'm not one of those homeschoolers who thinks everyone should choose this route. Honestly, I don't know many homeschoolers who feel that way. But I do believe that I have a right to educate my own children. And I believe they're better people for not having been exposed to some of the influences that come through our public education system.

Not that I think public education is terrible or that I haven't had days when I've been tempted to enroll them, but I think the choice should be mine and my husband's. This should not lie in the hands of one judge who (probably) doesn't have a clear picture of what home education looks like.

If you think this was a bad ruling and would like to see it depublished, sign a petition at which will be presented to the CA Supreme Court. You don't have to be a homeschooler, a citizen of California, or a member of HSLDA to sign the petition.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

23 batteries

I was planning to take a picture to post on my blog today. It was going to be genius, but the camera was out of batteries.

No problem. I've got a stash of batteries in the office. I pulled 2 AA batteries out of the drawer and popped them in the camera.


2 more.

Still nothing.

Another 2.

I tried 23 batteries, -11 rechargeables and 12 regular batteries - and not one of them had enough juice to turn on the camera.

So, 8 are now in the recharger, 12 in recycling, and the other 3 are lying in the hallway waiting their turn to get charged.

It reminds me of a song a friend taught me in Junior High-- "I Wish We'd All Been Ready." The scriptural equivalent of an Ever-ready.

I'll take a picture tomorrow instead.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Counting Down

I leave for a writing conference next week. Which means I'm so busy writing, I don't have time to write, if you know what I mean.

Here's my checklist.


finish umpteenth draft of novel manuscript
read up on what to do to prepare for a conference
choose major morning track
arrange shuttle and flight
arrange for people to watch the kids while I'm gone

Still to do:

Finish book proposal
print up new business cards
develop a one-sheet
decide which editors and agents I need to talk to
choose afternoon classes
cook some meals so the family doesn't starve while I'm gone

If anything exciting happens between now and then, I'll let you know. Otherwise, I'm just plugging away.