Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I don't think I could do that

When I tell people I homeschool, 9 times out of 10, I get the same response, "I don't think I could do that." Guess what? I'm not so sure I can do it either. I do know that it beats the alternative.

When most people think of homeschoolers, they picture religious fundementalists, who shun evolution and sex education, in favor of sheltering their children and implementing Christian values. Or, they picture those freakish children who win spelling bees, and get accepted into college on full scholarships at the age of 12. Our family does not fit into either category. We are not religious, and we are not geniuses. We are a hapless tribe of misfits striving to make our way in life.

Even with all my Bohemian, pseudo-hippie, idealistic views, the little conformist in the back of my brain keeps pulling out the yardstick to measure my children's accom
plishments with "standards", otherwise known as adequate yearly progress. It doesn't help that a very real authority will use this same yardstick to judge my children's progress come June. There's not a day goes by that I don't imagine sitting in an interrogation room, with a hot bulb dangling over my head, and an investogator questioning, "Just what have you taught these children?!" "Uh, um....how to follow the mircrowave directions on a frozen chicken pot-pie." SMACK! "Unacceptable!"

Dear Authoritarian Sirs,

Please excuse the lack of rote information in my sons' portfolios. We meant to do many math tests, write many book reports and essays, make history time lines, and science diagrams. Somehow the months escaped us. Sometimes, we'd spend weeks on one Algebra unit, doing practice problems over and over. Sometimes, too, we'd start out reading a novel and the children would refuse to stick to the story line. Instead, they'd veer off on their own series of "What if's". They'd insist on asking me "Why?" I tried thumping them on their heads, and begging them to stay on task, but their minds kept wandering. I also must confess, that my children spent hours listening to heavy metal music, and found distraction in that too, wanting to know what words like "obliteration, animostiy, and apathy" meant. I do have some actual work samples, few as they are, and I'm glad to report that they were all graded A+A+.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Lifeboat

The ship went down a long time ago. I'm not quite sure when, or what exactly happened, or who, if anyone's fault it was. All I know is that I found myself one day in a lifeboat, a small rubber raft, floating in the sea and not knowing in which direction I would find my harbor.

This lifeboat, this woefully inadequate vessel was slowly taking on water, and I and my children were sinking. I tried desperately to plug the holes, and paddle to shore, while bailing bucketfuls of water out of the boat. My bucket was too small, and there was so much water. I paddled in circles, exhausted, with the uneasy feeling that the childen were popping more pin holes in the raft.

I'd gain distance some days, and float back with the tide on others. Sometimes along the rocks, I'd hear the Sirens call and drift off in the wrong direction. Sometimes I'd just get too overtaxed and give up. Then I'd jolt back to my senses because the waves had taken over the boat, stinging my eyes with salt water and rousing me to my senses.

This is it, I thought, we're all going to drown. Maybe if I jumped overboard, my weight would stop dragging us down, and the kids would make it? I was hallucinating; I'd see dry land, but it was just a mirage. Pirhannas and sharks swirled around us, waiting to devour the remains of defeat.

Then one day, one blessed, unsupsecting day, I turned around, and there was another person in the boat with me. It was my captain. He could not stop the water from coming in the boat either, but he grabbed another paddle, and another bucket. He paddled with all his might, which encouraged me to paddle with all my might. He swooped up bucketfuls of water, till the water was almost gone. Then we looked into each other's eyes and said, "Let's do our best to get this thing in the right direction."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My family VS Natural Selection

My family and I are involved in an ongoing battle with the laws of natural selection. There have been many times where Natural Selection has gotten the better of us. The villianous fiend sneaks up, waits in the lurch for one moment of weakness, poised to pounce. He can change form in an instant to ambush us, the unknowing victims.

For instance, once NS turned himself into a telephone pole and lept out of nowhere to hit the back of my mini-van, smashing the rear window and leaving a nasty dent.

Another time NS turned himself into a big, white ramp of snow, and beckoned with his siren call, "Come sled over me; it'll be so fun!" NS also deafened my husband, Randy's ears to my cries of, "Don't!" So, Randy flew through the air, and landed on his ass with the wind knocked out of him.

"But surely NS will leave the children alone", you say. On the contrary, NS is a mean M'F***er, who takes pleasure in tormenting children. As a matter of fact, children used to be NS's favorite target. That was before the government stepped in to protect them with helmets, pads, infinite warning stickers, windows in the backseats of cars that only roll up half way....

Natural selection picks on my youngest child constantly. He hunches down under the step in my family room, blending in with the wood, and then jumps up as AJ is making his way into the kitchen. Bam! Poor AJ. I told him to walk very slowly over this threshold because it is one of NS's favorite snares.

My older son seems to be a lot tougher. Actually, Red is quite cocky, and challenges NS to daily battles. Red is very fast on his skateboard. Every once in a while, NS trips him, but Red escapes with only minor cuts and scratches.

NS pounded the crap out of my daughter Lee when she was little. I do believe Lee's guardian fairy was on overtime for many years. NS would transform into a window when Lee was a toddler. "Climb out me! There's a bunch of kids out here who want to play with you!"

There were also many incidents, involving roller skates, bicycles, basketballs, holes in clothes....

Friday, February 16, 2007

I am 38 years old and have been married to the same man for 18 years

I met my husband at Community College of Philadelphia. He was a music major, and I was an art major.

I didn't realize when I enrolled that being able to doodle well does not make one an artist.

My husband told me that the first time he ever saw me was at Bridge & Pratt, coming off the "El" train and getting on the a bus. He said I had on a pink sweater, black stirrup pants (Remember those? I am tall, so they were always pulling down at the crotch.) I had on a walkman, and was carrying my big black artist portfolio, which had a sticker on it that I got in an art shop. It said, "Kiss an artist today."

My poor DH, he said by the time he got on the bus, most of the seats were taken and he had to go in the back. When someone got off, he moved closer to me. He said I completely ignored him, because I had my walkman on. I was probably listening to Prince. DH said he did everything he could to get my attention, but it was no use.

See, the weird thing is, I like everyone, at least at first, and I go out of my way to get people to like me. It is a big fault, I know, and I'm working on it. I would have drooled all over my DH if I knew he was looking at me.

A few days later, my DH came up to me in the hall and said he'd seen me on the bus, that he was trying to get my attention, that we lived close by to each other....

"Uh, yeah?"

At the current time, I had been dating two different guys in the art department, which was going ugly, and I had temporarily sworn off men. I had seriously been contemplating attending the school's gay and lesbian club, but I didn't have the guts.

I ignored DH for about a month after that. He'd wave to me in the hallways, I'd wave back and keep walking. Finally, one day one of my art department boyfriends was getting on my nerves, so when I spotted DH I bounded up to him, and said, "Hi Gary!" DH"s name is NOT Gary.

That was how I started dating my DH, if you could call it dating. We had no car, no money, and not a whole lot of free time. Basically all we ever did was have sex. He was my first. A year and a half later we had a baby and got married. It was no surprise, if you know how impulsive and irrational we both were at the time.

My parents were thrilled (not).

The Crazy Shade Lady

On one crazy Saturday at Big Box Mart:

I was called out of the breakroom at work to wait on a customer. When I got to my department, I had a woman waiting for me to cut 4 roller shades. I went to measure the shades, because at first glance I knew they did not come from my store. (I assumed they were her old shades, and she wanted new ones the same size.)

The customer interjects, "I bought these here last week, and didn't get them cut, and now I want them cut."

"You bought these here?"

"Yes! I bought them here, and I want them cut. I painted them in the meantime."
All 4 shades have what looks like a child's artwork in posterpaint on them.


I pick up the first shade, go to the vise to take off the plastic end. "This end is different than the ends we usually have in our shades." Customer claims she put a different plastic end in her "new" shade. "OK..." Then I go to set the shade up in the cutter, and notice something major.

The shade has a metal barrel.

"This is not one of our shades, ma'am. It has a metal barrel. Our shades have cardboard barrels, which is why we can cut them."

"Of course it's from here! I bought it here, and the woman that was here when I bought it said it could be cut."

"But ma'am, the barrel is metal."

"Can you cut it, or not?"

"No, I don't have the equipment to cut metal barrels."

Then I proceeded to check the other 3 shades, and sure enough they all had different plastic tips, and all had metal barrels.

"Maybe you got these shades mixed up at home with the ones you bought here?"

I thought I was trying to give her an out, instead of flat out calling her a liar.

"I told you. I bought these here."

"Can I see your receipt?"

Customer actually produces a receipt with 2 shades listed on it. Hmm... wonder why there's 2 shades on the receipt and 4 on my table if she bought them all last week. Besides which, the shades on her receipt are the ones with fringe on them.

"Well, ma'am, I'd be happy to cut any shades you bring me that I could cut, meaning, they'd have to have cardboard inside."

The woman stomps off, with her shades, finds two managers on the way out, tells them I am a bitch, that I've got an attitude, and that I called her stupid.

"I was actually thinking "crazy", but yeah, "stupid" would describe her too. As a matter of fact, she must be crazy and stupid to thing that I'm so stupid that I don't know the difference between shades I've been cutting for a year and a half and the metal barrelled art work she was toting.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Introduction-edited on 8/29/07

Hi, my name is Lori-Ann. I am what I consider to be an unusual person. Here are 10 factoids about me.

I am:

1. 39 years old, married 18 years &
the mother of 3 teenage children, and one preteen

2. a "stay at home mom" I hate that phrase, but for simplicty's sake, I will use it here

3. a homeschooling mom

4. an atheist

5. an adult with ADHD

6. a "middle child"

7. a "soccer mom", but my kids don't play soccer

8. a nanny

9. a "non-practicing" bisexual

10. a hopeless romantic