Saturday, November 28, 2009

What's NOT For Sunday Dinner

This is in honor of the new Chick-fil-A that recently opened near us.

And since I regularly cook Sunday dinner for anywhere between 10-15 people, you must understand that sometimes I have a bad day, week, hour, whatever and take everyone out to eat instead. Yes, it is expensive, but sometimes I have more money than I do sanity. Which just goes to show you how close to being overdrawn at the Bank of Sanity I can become!

Anyway, when those days hit here is one restaurant where we will not be going as an alternative.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Cost of Being Family

This post is directed at Kelly of For the Love of Letters.

Kelly is many things:
  1. blog buddy
  2. member of our church
  3. one of the Princess' former babysitting clients (as in the Princess babysat Kelly and her siblings many, many years ago)
  4. good friend of all four of my children
  5. a High Hill family wannabe

I don't understand that last one. I mean, I think we're pretty nice and all, but we're probably not any better than any other family, at least as far as anyone else is concerned. If you know what I mean.

I often get a little tongue-tied when introducing Kelly to people. We had missionary visitors last week and I introduced my biological children and it sounded so lame to introduce Kelly as our friend when what she really wants to be is a member of the family.

Don't get me wrong. I'd adopt her in a heartbeat but I don't think her parents would approve of that. Well, there might be some days that they'd pay me to take her, but I haven't tested that theory and don't intend to do so. So put the checkbook away Bryan and Amy. Besides, I only take cash.

I'm not sure Kelly understands all it means to be a member of the High Hill family. If she did, she might not be so eager.

For instance, all members of the High Hill family must be able to sit quietly in their pew while Pastor Dad uses them as fodder for humorous sermon illustrations.

Oh, wait! Kelly endured that yesterday.

I guess that means you're in! We've got an extra bedroom reserved just for you.

And it needs cleaning.

Welcome to the family! :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our History Of Learning History

I don't often write about how we do things in our homeschool, but I noticed an interesting phenomenon recently that I just couldn't keep to myself.

My son has read much further beyond the assigned work in his American History course.

I don't think I've ever had this happen before, at least with him. He's the kind who knows how to read but doesn't want to do it. So when I started catching glimpses of him reading the text purely for enjoyment, I was surprised.

How did this happen? I'm not sure. The only answer I can find is that he is hungry for it because he has never studied it before.

It's true. My son is in 9th grade and yet he had never studied U.S. History until this year.

It all started as an experiment. Okay, experimentation in our homeschool is not something new. Our family has been homeschooling since the mid-1980s so the whole scheme for our children's education began as an experiment. We homeschooled when homeschooling was something few had begun, let alone completed.

But in this instance I'm talking about experimenting with the way I presented history. I decided to teach a straight timeline from creation through to the here and now. I started this with my girls when they were students but I always chickened out somewhere and gave them doses of U.S. History thrown in intermittently totally out of sequence. I think it had something to do with the fear that developed during those early years when it was required that the child be dropped off at the front door of the public school in grades 2, 5, 7, and 9 for standardized testing. It was obvious that the parent was the one being tested more than the child. What parent wants to send their child to school without a rudimentary understanding of their country's history? I decided that I didn't!

Our state law later changed, but not before scaring the wits out of me! By the time my son began school we were operating under more lenient laws and our oldest had already graduated. Our oldest graduated a year before the youngest even began school. Thus, this was a new beginning in many ways.

When teaching him, I constantly resisted the urge to veer from the plan of teaching history sequentially. The first time I took him for an achievement test with our local co-op he was in 3rd grade. He said afterward that he could not answer any of the American history questions and I almost wavered. But when I saw his total battery scores I resolved anew to stick with it. History was a small part of the social studies segment and the social studies segment was a small part of the whole test battery. It would be of small consequence for a child to be knowledgeable in American history.

By the time I had him tested a few years later, he had picked up enough information merely by being an American that he was able to answer the basics with no problems. Even he was able to recognize the face of Abraham Lincoln and knew that Martin Luther King was the person honored on the January Monday holiday.

Now here we are six years later and he can't get enough U.S. History! The whole spiritual, political, and geographical picture interests him. I remember snoozing through high school history because I knew all the dates and pertinent facts by heart having heard them every year since the early elementary years. But I had no concept whatsoever of how the spiritual, political, and geographical aspects meshed to form the fabric. And I barely remember the one year (or was it only a semester?) of world history that I took as a teenager. For all I knew, history began in 1492. Who knew or cared what people did prior to that?

Besides the fact that my son is interested and therefore learning I noticed another perk to teaching sequentially. We used the Bible as our main history text in those early years. This led to a firm belief in the Bible as being true. He has never questioned the veracity of it.

What we used in prior years:
  • The Bible - we began a timeline that included a line graph of the lifespans of Adam and his descendants. The Bible gives the age of each father when his son is born and the age of the father at the time of his own death from Adam through Jacob. We did the math and plotted a line for each person. We discovered that Methuselah died the year of the flood long before the Creation Museum mentioned it in one of their exhibits. We also showed the year of creation at the top of the timeline, creation taking place in Year 1, and the years B.C. and A.D. at the bottom. Since some events are known to have taken place in certain times as verified through other extra-biblical means, we were able to extrapolate some dates in relationship to others. I'm sure Ussher did the same.
  • James Ussher's "The Annals of the World"
  • A timeline taken from Ussher's chronology. Ours is old but they are now republished under the name "Adam's Chart of History."
  • When the first two volumes of Mystery of History were published we used them to review the Biblical personalities we'd already covered and to add people and/or cultures from around the world to show how they compared in time.
  • We used Greenleaf Press guides and books obtained through them or the public library to cover the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and Reformation periods. At the time, the Mystery of History series ended with Volume 2. I actually preferred the Greenleaf approach (Mason's "twaddle free" learning) and wish I had discovered Greenleaf sooner.
  • Family history. After my dad's DNA results showed that we were of Scandinavian origin those Vikings became a lot more interesting to study! Several of our family lines on both sides can be traced to the 1600s, which would be the time of the Renaissance and Reformation. History is much more fun when one considers their own ancestors living through certain portions of it and upon the affect it had in their lives.

What we are using this year:

  • You may notice that the book shown at the top is the Bob Jones University Press text for the 8th grade. I chose to use it because it presents our history totally from a Christian perspective and in an easily readable format. It is our springboard for further exploration.
  • Since my son is now in high school I supplement the text with biographies and autobiographies that we have in our home library. Treasure hunts through flea markets and old book stores have been worthwhile.
  • We are planning to visit a historical archive which houses the original handwritten journal an ancestor kept in 1797 while journeying from Virginia to frontier Ohio. I held this artifact in my hands once before and can't wait to do so again.
  • We purchased and watched the newer Drive Thru History DVDs. These were excellent! Not only do they provide a tour of many historical places within the 13 original colonies but Dave Stotts is funny but thought-provoking at the same time.
  • We are planning a trip to Washington DC this summer. It seems so much more appropriate now that our son has an appreciation for his country, its seat of government, and for the presidents who are memorialized in the city's great monuments.

He seems to be having so much fun that I hate to interrupt him to make him do his other subjects. Sometimes I don't.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things To Do At Gram's House

Stop and smell the roses.

Receive lots of kisses!

Master new computer skills.

Learn to drive.

Smile and giggle until it's time to leave.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Running Out of Steam

After helping to care for sick people and their families over the course of the last month, I've discovered that I am not sick myself but wouldn't really care if I was. I am worn out. Frazzled. Drooping. I'm in need of an Energy Fairy.

I read a want ad for such a thing here. If anyone knows of such individuals, then let me know. I'm not too worried about surviving the holidays {gasp!}. It's the here and now that has me concerned.

Also, if you feel like joining me by reading book segments via email, then follow the directions at the blog. Suzanne will see that you get a daily installment each weekday. If you like the book you can check it out at your public library and finish what you started.

Now go curl up with a good book and then dream up a way of getting me one of those Energy Fairies!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Budget-Busting Buster

I spend more money at the grocery store if either Pastor Dad or the Bear go with me. That's not always true because sometimes Pastor Dad drives but naps in the car while I shop. The Bear usually insists upon escorting me in order to insure the cart and conveyor belt are properly overloaded. Gone is the day when I could slap his little hand away from the shelves as he rode along. Now he just wanders at will through the building discovering all sorts of goodies.

Last night, the Bear spent the night with friends and was not yet home when I left to do the shopping this afternoon. I thought I'd made a clean break. My celebration was interrupted in the first aisle by the buzzing of my phone's text message cue. It was the Bear telling me the things that he wanted.

Next time I sneak off to the store I think I'll leave the cell phone in the car. Technology has made it inexpensive to carry one unless the cost of groceries is factored into the equation.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Pain In The Neck

My dad had cervical spine surgery last Tuesday and he now has a better understanding of what it means to have a pain in the neck. He only thought he knew before. He realizes now that the prior pain was nothing like what followed surgery.

Dad progressed well the first few days and then began to steadily decline. The source of the problems was found and corrected with medicine and physical treatments before his health spiralled too far out of control. It. Was. Scary.

Once the problems were identified, someone had to make him do some things that he didn't want to do. I'm not sure who rigged the election (remember that the day of his surgery was election day here in the States) but I won. Or lost. I'm not sure anymore. Anyway, I was the one designated by my mom and his nurses to put him through painful procedures every hour on the hour. Day after day.

I became a pain in the neck.

I guess I did my job well. The patient is now home, having skipped the rehab center altogether. The next time someone calls me a pain in the neck I'll agree. In my dad's case, I've had many years of practice. We just never knew this was a quality that would one day come in handy! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Where "The Borrowers" Are Now

Do you know who The Borrowers are? This is not to be confused with the Bible verse that Dave Ramsey quotes so often (Proverbs 22:7). These "Borrowers" were written about in a series of books that I read aloud to the Princess when she was young. See here if you need a refresher course in certain "Little People."

In the books, The Borrowers "borrow" things from humans who are supposed to be oblivious of their existence. The humans, of course, think they've just misplaced items. If The Borrowers inadvertently make their existence known to humans, they move for safety's sake.

Which brings us to now. We've had two weird occurrences concerning missing sundries.

About a year ago we rode to a corn maze in the Princess's car. The next morning Pastor Dad realized that he could not find his cell phone and assumed that he'd lost it either in the corn maze or on the accompanying hayride. Since the cell phone is almost as important to Pastor Dad's existence as I am he obtained another one immediately. (Wait! Suddenly I am not sure that I like this analogy.)

Anyway, a couple of months ago, the Princess's hubby was working on a flat tire and found a cell phone in the wheel-well, of all places. It looked like the Bear's phone, but Bear said that it wasn't his and confirmed same by producing it on the spot. It was the one Pastor Dad lost a year earlier. How did it get into the wheel well?

This summer, we cleaned out a rented storage facility. The last person to have my keys - the ring containing the keys to the storage lock and Pastor Dad's car - was Lulu. When I asked her for them she could not find them. As you read yesterday, I recently discovered that I had no key to Pastor Dad's car when I needed it.

Sunday morning, the Princess walked toward me in the church auditorium with a funny smile on her face. In her hand she held my keys. She'd found them somewhere in her car. She has no idea how they came to be located in a nook or cranny there.

But I know.

I think The Borrowers liked the Princess as much as the Princess liked the Borrowers and have taken up residence in her car! This is good news indeed as the husbands of both the Princess and Lulu state that their wives - my daughters - lose things often. Looks like it isn't their fault after all, guys!

I've been known to misplace a thing or two occasionally but I usually attribute my losses to age and hormones. I think now I'll reconsider. And I'll be hunting through the inner recesses of the Princess's car from now on whenever something goes missing.

The Borrowers are among us!

Monday, November 2, 2009

How To Take A Bear To The Doctor

Given the fact that the Bear's illness came equipped with high temps (103.7), his older sister who lives nearby just got over the flu, his oldest sister developed life-threatening pneumonia after her own bout with the flu, and it was the weekend (whew!) I felt it necessary to take the Bear to the doctor Friday. This was not easy for a couple of reasons:
  1. Our doctor's office was turning children away unless it was a dire emergency.
  2. The Bear hasn't been ill since 2005 so I wasn't sure he was still in their system. Really and truly.

But off to the doctor he went. Just not without a hitch. So here are the steps I took to get the Bear there:

  • Call for appointment. Actually get one! Amazing! Have 60 minutes to get him there.
  • Put Fen in his car seat, dogs in crates/rooms, get Bear off couch, grab purse and prepare to load big boy and little boy in car.
  • Remember that Pastor Dad took my car on his funeral trip to WV since mine is more comfortable on trips than is his. Reassess situation.
  • Look for keys to Pastor Dad's car since this is the one in the garage.
  • Realize that I no longer have a key to Pastor Dad's car since someone (I'm looking at you, Nevada!) lost my keys this summer.
  • Panic!!!!!!!!
  • Call son-in-law in hopes that he is not (a) substitute teaching, (b) off running errands, (c) ignoring the call once he sees it is his mother-in-law's number on caller i.d.
  • Breathe once more when son-in-law answers phone.
  • Borrow son-in-law's mini-van and drop off Fen to play with his adoring cousins (bonus!)
  • Drive Bear to doctor's appointment where they are positive that it is strep but the test is negative. Go back home after several blood tests, no diagnosis, and no prescriptions.

The good news is that the fever is now broken and the Bear is on the mend. Blood tests for things like mono are negative.

Bear looks like he saw ghosts this Halloween. Or maybe it's him that looks like a ghost. Good thing we kept him in the house away from the trick or treaters! I don't care how he looks. I'm just thankful that the fever is gone. Seven days is a long time to have temps over 100 degrees unless one is off on a Caribbean vacation.