Journal Categories
Journal Tags

Entries in humor (82)



...that appeared around the house at various times this week.


Turn that frown upside down

They were happy little snowmen yesterday...

but this is what I found when I went out for a run this morning. What terrors they must have faced during the night (in the form of above freezing temperatures).



Strange encounters, weekend edition

A cooling breeze coming in through the windows, the warm rays of an early summer sun. I love lazy Saturday mornings when we're slow to rise and a soft sleepiness hangs around for a time before the get-up-and-go takes over. It's the perfect time for a book, or a crossword, or a puzzle, and definitely the perfect time for discovery. Then again, what isn't the perfect time for discovery?

Do you think Iris is wondering what's gotten into us? Crawling around on the ground in a tangle of wires making a variety of frightening sounds and shooting things into the air. She may think we're off our rockers.

She should see us at other times.

Later in the morning we went to the Ann Arbor library book sale. All books were half off their already obscenely low prices so it was hard to resist. We brought home a number of treasures—Calvin picked up a couple of dragon stories and I got a couple of photography books and a beautiful copy of a 1960s Field Guide to the National Parks of East Africa. I love books like this because they have that wonderful book smell, because they are usually very well made, better made than most new books, and because they are primary sources in their own right. History changes as we write about it, and if I want to read about African Wildlife in the 1960s, the best way to do so is in a book from that time. But at the checkout the man helping add up our total felt the need to mention to me that the 1960s guide might not be so accurate anymore. Thanks anyway guy.

After the sale we stopped by our favorite downtown lunch spot, where Calvin devoured not only some truffle pizza, but also his new book on the summer Olympics (another library sale find). This is the first Olympics that he is really aware of, and he's very excited about the swimming and other water sports in particular. We were explaining that they show the most popular sports on a tape delay late at night (something that I, and much of the Twitter world, apparently, find excessively annoying), and that they'd likely be on after bedtime. At that moment the people sitting next to us politely interrupted, asked Calvin about his interest, and then negotiated a later bedtime for him. The Olympics come around so rarely, they argued for him. He was allowed to stay up until 10.

After lunch, shopping at the fair trade shop next door, my quiet perusal of the book shelf was interrupted by an elderly store worker who suggested I read to Calvin a book about "a boy with no toys of his own", unlike the children we're used to, she added. She then proceeded to complain to me about her granddaughter's bursting toy chest and overflowing bedroom. I told her that we try to keep the toys in our house somewhat limited, though "educational products" and books are pretty much coming out our ears, and we chatted briefly about that side of our culture before she up and tried to sell me a toy made by underprivileged children somewhere in the world. I thought she was joking, but she wasn't. I did not enlighten her on the irony of that exchange.

We did go home with our overflowing bags of books, however, and spend the afternoon reading, and snapping circuits, and walking dogs, gardening, discovering, exploring, grilling dinner, and living the lazy summer life. And if you ever want to know about wildlife in 1960s African National Parks, just ask me.


Cantaloupes and goals

Calvin and I have been talking a lot about units lately. It comes from some of the math he's been doing, most notably the word problems.

A measurement of anything requires definition of the unit being measured. If you plan on sending someone to the store to purchase 60 cantaloupes, it's imperative that the grocery list say "60 cantaloupes" because if it merely says "60" there's no telling what they'll come home with.

It follows that if you plan to measure your success it's imperative that you define the unit of such success. In homeschooling, at least in our state, setting the goals and declaring when they are met is entirely up to the discretion of the people at home. It's a wonderful freedom, but I have too often suffered from a lack of unit definition. I am a wishy-washy homeschooling parent, and by that I mean I'll mosey along thinking I'm doing okay, and then I'll happen upon another homeschooler's website where they're plowing through ten science projects a day, or twenty craft projects, or reading through both the Iliad and Odyssey at the ripe old age of five, and suddenly I feel rather like a failure.

The internet can be a lifeline, but it can also be dangerous. When we chose to homeschool we did so based on the belief that we could guide Calvin to a life of learning best at home, but we never had any grand plan in mind. No beloved curriculum to follow, not even a full-blown philosophy, and that has turned out to be a weak spot for me, because not knowing for sure what we are doing has left me vulnerable to a feeling of failure in the face of others' proclaimed successes; if I haven't defined a goal, then I cannot possibly declare a measurement of success.

Don't get me wrong—I'm not second guessing our choice, nor do I actually feel like I am failing on any deep level, it's just that I am chased by the constant, nagging feeling that I could be doing a whole lot better. Then today I found this article, a blog post that probably every homeschooling mom should read, the gist of it being that every homeschooling family has to decide what is right for them, that not every parent is going to love crafting, for example. She's right, of course, and it wasn't those words in particular that I needed to read, but they did remind me that in order to succeed, I have to be clear with myself about my goals, abut my units of success, so that when I see a family reading through all of Shakespeare's plays at the age of six, or the family traveling the world to study history, or the family doing thirty physics experiments a day, I will already know that these weren't my goals, and that I don't need to measure our days against theirs.

It sounds petty, it sounds simple, it sounds obvious, but the reminder is so welcome. So needed.

This afternoon, while Calvin and I sat in the driveway and tossed a football back and forth, he said to me "let's practice math!" (complete with exclamation point), so I started quizzing him on multiplication before I tossed the ball, and he asked me such hard questions as "what is 600 times 80,000?" before he tossed it back. He was cracking up, he was thinking, he was discovering (that the multiplication of numbers with lots of zeros wasn't harder just because of all those zeros). He was empowered in his own discoveries, and I thought, 'you know, this is what my goal really is: for him to be thrilled with learning, no matter the subect', and that definition will empower me until I realize how abstract it is, and then I'll obsess some more, but for now, things are all good.


Teach your grandmother to suck lemons