I was Thirsty, and ye Gave Me Hawaiian Punch

Sometimes I’m treated to a small peak of what kind of adults my children will become, a little taste of the fruits of our parenting.  And it’s sweet.  As sweet as Hawaiian Punch.

I should explain that I’m not overly fond of Hawaiian Punch.  It’s okay, but mostly it’s just another sweet, fruity drink that kids adore.  If I’m really thirsty, I choose water.  Actaully, I pretty much always choose water. 

We had a little Hawaiian Punch leftover from a birthday party (see He’ll Always be my Baby).   As we prepared for lunch the next day, one of the kids asked if we could drink that.  Since I normally enforce the “water is the healthiest drink” rule at lunch, saying yes to this request qualified as a special treat which was greeted with cheers. 

As they began to divvy up the punch into 4 cups, it was clear that no one would get too big of a drink.

“Oh, just divide it into 3,” I called from the kitchen.  “I’ll drink water.”

My kids paused, looking puzzled.

“It’s okay,” I insisted.  “I like water.”

Why do kids find that difficult to believe? 

“You should have some, too!” chirped the little ones.  “It’s not fair!”

“Mom,” Cameron said, laying his hand on my arm with a fatherly expression on his face.  He does that more often now that he’s 7 feet tall.  “I know why you said that.  You’re just doing that so we’ll have more.  You always do that.  You always give up your share.” 

I didn’t realize that I “always” did that…do I?

I smiled because he sounded so sweet just then.  I wanted to pinch his cheeks, but like I said, he’s 7 feet tall.  “It’s because I love you.  I don’t mind.”

“But we love you, too.  We want to do it for you.”

By this time, they were all in the kitchen, clamoring about how they really, really wanted me to have some of the Hawaiian Punch.  It had become symbolic.  A point of honor.  They all wanted to sacrific some of their nectar to prove their love.  Jordi even brought out her special pink and purple goblet inscribed in cursive with “Princess.”  That cup doesn’t come out lightly.

As we sat down to our lunch (can’t even remember what it was now), they all grinned at me angelically.  Then the entire episode drained from their minds as more pressing issues (like he’s poking me, do I have to eat this, can I play the PS2 when I finish my work) crowded out the memory.  They were goofy kids again.

But oh my, that was sweet Hawaiian Punch.  Better than water. 🙂

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.


My future political satirist


This year, I’m a civics teacher this year.  One of the joys of homeschooling seems to be getting new job titles regularly.  Not a promotion, per se, but a change of scenery.  This is my first stint in the civics area, and I started down a fairly safe track, following someone else’s suggested curriculum and schedule.  It didn’t take long for my non-conformist son to start questioning that decision.  He wanted to tailor the assignments to his strengths. 

He’s got a point, right?  After all,  among the myriad reasons we flee the conformity of an institutional education is to teach our kids to think for themselves and to be able to nurture their individuality.  We could do both at the same time.   (There’s a fine line between individuality and total goofball-ality, but that’s another discussion.)  His assignment: research and describe current threats to five of our constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  Standard essay material.  So somewhere between the tortured moaning stacks of research books and the long hours of scratching words on and then off the page, Cameron stumbled across a brilliant idea.  One of the political books he was scouring included a chapter on political cartoon. 

Lightbulb moment!  Wouldn’t that be so much better than an essay to communicate his newfound knowledge?  He may have a future in politics, because he managed to convince me.  (And we all know what an objective, nonbiased judge his mother is…)  He spent as much time in thought and development with his five cartoons as I ever spent on an essay.  But now the light of passion shone in his eyes.  Now, the material had a purpose he could relate to.

The cartoon above represents threats to our personal freedom/safety.  As a pencil sketch, it didn’t scan as sharply as I’d hoped.

He’s available for hire if you need a political cartoonist.  Rates are reasonable.  He plans to be syndicated and nationwide soon.  Cox and Forkum, step aside.

He’ll always be my baby


He’s 7 inches taller than me and outweighs me by…well, several pounds.  His feet alone overshadow certain small countries.  He consumes more potatoes than the amassed population of Ireland, past and present.  The only “baby” he resembles is a baby moose.  And yet, I can still look (up) at him and see the tiny little round-faced angel who was the first person in this universe to call me Mommy. 

 Happy birthday, Cam.  14 may look pretty grown-up from your perspective.  You may think that being “just 2 years until I can drive” sounds ancient.  But you’re still my baby.

Benefits of Homeschooling, #6980, #6981, #6982 and #6983

Not that I’m counting, but we’ll just add these to my list.

Homeschooling Benefit #6980: Flexibility to sieze teachable moments

Last week a bird flew into our house, and my daughter caught it (see previous entry for photo).  She was enchanted.  She was thrilled.  And she had questions.  What kind of bird is it?  What does it eat?  How much does it eat? Can we keep it? My answers were I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, and I don’t think so.  So we dropped our planned schoolwork for the morning (math and grammar – don’t worry, we got back to them later) and researched birds.  I didn’t have to worry about a bell ringing and her leaving for another class.  I didn’t have to worry about covering certain topics for a TAKS test.  I didn’t have to get permission from the principal to send the class outside to dig for bugs.  We just dived into the reference books and started reading and comparing pictures.  One question lead to another, and now we all know more about house wrens than ever before.  My daughter will never forget that wrens eat caterpillars because she dug some up and watched the bird slurp it down like spaghetti (that was really cool!).  She understood that we had to set it free because she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the bird’s appetite.  She now also knows how to attract wrens to your house and why that’s such a good idea.

Jordi’s wren drawing

Homeschooling Benefit #6981: Interdisciplinary studies

Of course, we didn’t stop with science.  Because I happen to be the art teacher as well as the science teacher…oh, and the English teacher…we quickly incorporated those subjects into our bird study.  Jordi will grow up understanding the natural connections between subjects.  In real life, there are no arbitrary separations betweens the different ways we perceive our world and communicate about them.

Homeschooling Benefit #6982: Learning by osmosis

Big Brother, who started high school this year, was mostly on the outskirts of the whole “oh look we caught a birdie” event.  He did not read bird articles.  He did not hunt for bugs in the dirt.  He was busy typing a civics essay about the second amendment (he’s decided that he’s pro-gun control, but that’s another story).  I didn’t think he’d learned anything about wrens at all.  Until he handed me this a few hours later:

Cameron’s wren drawing

Not bad, huh?  I think he captured it’s relative tail size and beak shape pretty accurately.  Simple observation.  He’s a naturalist.  Beatrix Potter and Charlotte Mason would both be pleased.  I used to think only Baby Brother benefitted by the “learning through osmosis” being in the same room with older kids.  I guess it works both ways. 

Homeschooling Benefit #6983: Observation and Follow-up

Next week, we learn how to spell Galileo.   I happen to be in charge of spelling tests, too.

Science class…homeschool style

I have to admit, this never happened in science class while I was in school (although I think we saw this in a Disney cartoon once…).

 While we were going about our chores with the door propped open to take advantage of the cool air, a small bird flew into our house.  Jordi rescued it from her cat, who was, of course, the first of us to spot the creature.  She scooped it up and took it outside to set it free. 

The bird said, “No thanks.  I like you.”


Maybe it was saying, “I’m too freaked out to move.” 

Sometimes bird body language can be tricky to interpret.

So, suddenly we’re studying birds this morning.  Pictures will be drawn.  Paragraphs will be written.  References are being checked to identify what kind of bird he is (right now, the prevailing theory is house wren).  Kids will whistle in an effort to convince the bird to clean our house (I know I saw that in a Disney cartoon).  Isn’t school fun?

P.S.  Yes, we are aware that wild birds carry mites, bugs, etc.  Proper sanitizing procedures are in place.   If anyone can positively identify the bird, please let us know!

FIAR Burners – We are Fit Mommas


Hey, I just gotta show off my cool new t-shirt.  My fabulous, creative, generous homeschooling friend RJ designed these t-shirts for our fitness email group of Fit Mommas, ladies who met on the Five in a Row message boards (see the link over to the right) and who encourage each other in exercise and healthy eating habits.  The pictures on the shirt represent many of the common exercises we do, running, bicycling, kayaking, weight lifting, walking the dogs.   You could see it better if I were sitting up straighter, but clearly POSTURE is not one of the topics address by the Fit Mommas.

THIS is Cajun cooking? My homeschool boy has a warped sense of humor.

Any cooking instructions that include the words, “Remain conscious” grab my attention.  Honestly, if those words are necessary, do I want this food in my kitchen?

Today was writing day in our house.  We use Friday Freewrites from Brave Writer (www.bravewriter.com/blog2).  Technically, it is Thursday, but hey…homeschoolers are flexible, right?  For the uninitiated, freewriting is an exercise where you give the child a prompt, set the timer for 10 minutes, and tell him to keep his pen moving the entire time.  Spelling and grammar are irrelevant; this is all about creating content.  There’s no time for revision – this is the raw writing as it first appears on paper.  Sometimes we take one of these pieces and expand, polish and edit it, and sometimes we just enjoy the process.  Part of the instructions for freewriting are to be outrageous, to experiment with words and ideas.  My oldest son takes this part of the instructions straight to heart. 

The prompt today was to create a dessert to surprise your family and friends.  This is what he wrote.  He completely succeeded – I’d be surprised if anyone served me this.  This is what passes for humor when you’re 13.

Be sure to follow step 12.

 Time to Eat

Today I will make alligator spinach flambe de really stinky pants.  It is a rare delicassy among cannibals in California.  Now to make it:

1.  1 live alligator

2.  4 dozen toad eggs.  Yes, I said toad eggs.

3.  1 really, really stinky pair of pants.

4.  1 leg of a dead shark (these are hard to find)

5. 1/4 cup of water

6.  32/1,000,000,000 cup lemon juice (if you put a drop in , you’ve gone too far)

7.  20 cups of regurgitated milk (tricky, but not impossible)

8.  2 pounds of salt.

9.  One spinach leaf.

10.  Put in oven for 4 years set on high.  This should give the radiation enough time to wear out.

11.  Pull out of the oven.

12.  Remain conscious.

13.  Obtain chainsaw to cut meal and to enforce the eating of it.

14.  Recommended serving size: 0 grams.

Well, that’s it for today, folks.  Tune in next time for Cajun cooking.

Cameron lounging with book 10-06

Having lunch on MARS


Hundreds of people in Wichita Falls had lunch on Mars today.  Which is great, because Mars needed the money. 😉

MARS is Maniacs Attempting Robot Science, our new middle/high school robot building team.  They were trying to raise money to travel to Sherman, TX for a BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) competition.  The kids worked really hard on their Labor Day weekend hot dog sale (which included pizza, nachos, cokes, chips and cookies).  They raised, in total, over $450.  Much of that is thanks to the generosity of generous contributors, both individuals and corporate sponsors.  Thank you Coca-cola, Cicis pizza, and Atwoods. 

They also ranked 3 separate tv spots for their efforts.  Hey, robots are cool.  So are Martians.