There are worst things …

I received this story in my email. It was a good reminder that regardless of how our children are driving us crazy on any particular day, it could be worse!

A father passing by his son’s bedroom was astonished to see the bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an envelope propped up prominently on the center of the bed. It was addressed, “dad” with the worst premonition, he opened the envelope and read the letter with trembling hands:

dear dad, it is with great regret and sorrow that I’m writing this. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with mom and you. I’ve been finding real passion with Barbara and she is so nice even with all her piercing, tattoos, and her tight motorcycle clothes. But it’s not only the passion, Dad – she’s pregnant and Barbara assures me that we will be very happy. even though you don’t care for her since she is so much older than I am, she already owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood enough for the whole winter. She wants to have many more children with me and that’s now one of my dreams too. Barbara taught me that marijuana doesn’t really hurt anyone and we’ll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with her friends for all the cocaine and ecstasy we need. In the meantime, we pray that science will find a cure for aids so that Barbara can get better; she sure deserves it!! Don’t worry, Dad, I’m 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. someday I’m sure we’ll be back to visit so you can get to know your grandchildren.

Your son,

John

P.S. Dad, none of this is true. I’m over at Billy’s house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than my report card which is in my desk center drawer.

I love you!

P.S. Call when it’s safe for me to come home

Cursive Writing Clues for the Letter R

I just finished working with my girls on their cursive writing. I find it funny that my 3rd grader hadn’t shown any interest in learning until her five year old sister started learning. Aren’t kids interesting that way?

Jade has troubles with the letter “r” both in print and cursive. When she prints the letter “r” it grows from a diminutive mid-line letter to a gargantuan top line monster. In all of her words that’s the letter that overshadows them all. So, I thought that would be a great letter to add to her skill list. And perhaps eliminate the need for me to constantly repeat “the letter ‘r’ is a midline letter” over and over and over.

As you know, the lower-case “r” is a bit strange looking, especially if it’s hanging out all by itself. For some reason, my daughter just wasn’t getting the hang of the shape. Perhaps it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing (she goes through that sometimes). So, some of her attempts ended up looking like an “n” and other times it just took on alien formations.

She likes to make pictures out of letters so I thought of a great idea which helped her tremendously. I told her that the lowercase “r” was set up like her chair tents. The first thing that you make is the chair on the left. Then you drape your comforter over that chair — that kind of sags in the middle, and then you put the right chair at the end.

And we now have a row of perfectly formed cursive lowercase letter “r”s. I hope this hint helps!

A Lovely Valentine Day Party

Today I was invited over to the home of one of Y-HOP’s moms for a Valentine’s Day party. The kids had to make their cards, there was a “best dressed” contest as well as other games and prizes. It was really a lot of fun! I learned how to make heart-shaped pizzas and the art (and joy) of dipping bananas and strawberries in chocolate. (Yummy!)

One of the best things about today was that I allowed myself to enjoy the camaraderie of other moms without worrying about what I had to do at home later, advertising to drum up business and other vital (but draining) activities. We were just three moms watching ten children run around and have fun.

One thing that I’m always happy about with homeschooling get-togethers is the way that all of the children get along. Of course they have scuffles and the regular conflicts that go with being human. But our kids handle the situations differently than I see those who are getting off the bus in my neighborhood. There’s none of that “You’re too little to play with us” or “We don’t like you because …” They seem more solution oriented and try to solve their problems without turning it into a warzone (usually!)

My little Michael (2 years old) decided that Milana (also 2 year old) would be a great person to continuously wrestle to the ground. She also thought that he might be a good person to hit. Needless to say I spent a good deal of time redirecting Michael away from Milana because I didn’t want her to get hurt.

One of the older boys (6 years old) took Michael aside and started playing catch with him so that he would leave Milana alone and not get in trouble with me. An older girl (11 years old) took Milana and started playing dolls with her in an effort to keep the peace. And this was all done without me or any of the other moms directing them to do so. I think that’s just wonderful.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. I hope that you had a great one too!

"One helping one to uplift all."

“One helping one to uplift all.” is The Buxton Settlement Creed and is the theme of the book Elijah Of Buxton is a delightful (and instructional) narrative about the first freeborn child in the Buxton Settlement in western Ontario. When I decided to pick this book up I was anticipating a humorous story of a young boy growing up in Canada. Instead I wound up with a book on par with Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn — a touch of humor, adventure, history and perspective.

As much time as Americans discussing the slavery issue, this is my first exposure to the Promised Land of Canada. Many freed (and escaped) slaves crossed the border in search of a home and freedom from the fear that permeated their lives in the United States. The best of these settlements was in western Ontario.

According to information found in the Journal of Negro History 3 (October 1918): 360-67 :

“The Buxton, or Elgin Association Settlement, in Kent county, western Ontario, was in many respects the most important attempt made before the Civil war to found a Negro refugee colony in Canada. In population, material wealth and general organization it was outstanding, and the firm foundation upon which it was established is shown by the fact that today, more than half a century after emancipation, it is still a prosperous and distinctly Negro settlement.”

The story chronicles the life of 11 year old Elijah who bears the special distinction of being the first free child born to the settlement. He is also considered “fragile” by many of the adults in the settlement because of his excitable nature. But when you keep in mind the travails that these original settlers had undergone while in slavery, you can understand the adult’s position.
Elijah is finally able to understand many of the adult’s peculiar ways by the end of the story as he is introduced (by way of a good deed) to a few of the horrors that slaves were subjected to on a daily basis.

One of the things that I really liked about this book is that it is so very human. This is not just a story about freed or escaped slaves making a life for themselves in Canada. It is also a story about humans in general. There are good and hardworking people. But there are also the grifters and swindlers out to take what they are not willing to work for honestly. There are great acts of bravery and spirit. And there is sorrow and pain caused by man’s unfortunate penchant to hurt each other for money’s sake. But most of all there is hope and joy.

Instead of “Cowboys and Indians” the children in Buxton play “Slavers and Slaves”. There are the usual rivalries between children, the inexplicable behavior of adults and the slow realization that every person’s time of innocence is so short. And once reality starts to set in, there is no way to return to that pristine and innocent state.

This is a great book to read aloud to the whole family. My daughters enjoyed it, and even though my oldest girl is an advanced reader, she preferred me to read it to her as well. We were able to discuss many things (i.e., how to tell if people have your best interests at heart, why we need to develop empathy for others to just name a few) that I hope will stick with them into adulthood.

For those of you who are interested in using Elijah of Buxton as a history lesson, I found a great resource at http://suzyred.com/2008elijah.html. It includes more historical background and activities for children.



New Year's Resolutions (continued)

Another resolution that I’ve made involves my blogging. I want to be more consistent with my blogs. So, I’m planning on doing book reviews on Wednesdays (starting next week), cool curriculum type topics on Fridays and the musings on Sundays.

I really wish that I could spend more time blogging, but between drumming up business, doing business, educating children and trying to get some sleep (hah!) there’s not much time left. Oh, and I’m working on a new website called Homeschoolers Work at Home (www.homeschoolers-work-at-home.com). It’s definitely a work in progress — I’m still writing articles and things for it, but if you want to take a peek so far, just be kind. :-)

Well, it’s time to get the day started with our Bible reading, so here’s tired mommy signing off!

Black History Month Sale at PBS

Although I still feel it is kind of pitiful to pick one month out of the year to honor Black/Colored/African Americans who have contributed to our country,. I am not against honoring people who have contributed, but I think that we should be able to honor all people who have contributed without this continued racial division, however well meaning.

I mean we don’t have Chinese History Month or Italian History Month … but whatever — it is what it is.

But I digress. I found out about a wonderful sale that PBS is having in honor of Black History month. Here are the details:

15% Off All History Titles
Offer ends March 2nd

DVDs, CDs, and Books — Up to 80% Off
in the Clearance Center

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