February 24, 2009

to blog or not to blog, that is the question

Murder, Ghosts, Incest, Skeletons, Suicide, Insanity . . .
What more could you ask of a tragedy? We have begun Hamlet in my high school literature class. It is my favorite of all of Shakespeare's works. I love going over lines of it, stopping now and again to ask one of the kids to interpret. It's fun to watch them think out the language and retell the story in their words.

In this same class, we recently completed The Old Man and the Sea, a story I have somehow missed over the years. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it, despite its less-than-happy ending. What excited me the most from this story was a rewrite one of my 8th graders did, telling the story from the vantage point of the marlin. With phrases like, "I notice how effortlessly the water envelops me." and "I prefer the shadows the deeper water offers me." and ". . . (a human) could not last even a tide's turn in this vast ocean without yielding to its own defeat." This paper followed the sophomore boys' papers which read like instructions: "Then the fish swam up to eat. Then the fish ate. Then the fish was hooked. Then the fish tried to swim away." Then I wanted to eat my own red grading pen just for something interesting to do. Creativity, thy name is woman!

Superheroes, Word Addictions, and more Insanity
Last night, Kacey began one of her texting novellas during which she chastised me for not blogging. I think her actualy phrase was, "OH MY GOODNESS WOULD YOU FREAKING BLOG???"

To which I replied "yes" if she would give me a topic. She suggested Winterfest, or How Much I Miss My Daughter, or The Significance of Anniversaries. I decided to blog about the following:

"Overcoming Addictions to Facebook Word Games: A 12-Letter Program."

STEP ONE: I admit I am powerless over word games

STEP TWO: I have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. Oooh, "searching" and "fearless" are 40-point words! Yea me!

It's true. I'm totally addicted. It's like Boggle, but honeycomb style. And I don't have to bribe people to play with me! Five-minute rounds, every time you make a word the letters fall out, and new ones fall down. Love it. Words. Speed. High Scores. I am such a nerd.

Reduplicative Not-so-super Heroes
Then Kacey suggested we could come up with more stupid superheroes just for fun.

She began with "Cheese Louise" the Cheese Whiz Queen against the Crackers of the World".

I continued with the following:

Super Duper - He tricks bad guys
Itsy Bitsy - She is tiny, but has a mean bite!
Hubba Bubba - the redneck Romeo
Teeny Weeny - Underdog's miniature Dachshund cousin
Hum Drum - the one man band
Big Whig - A giant Founding Father
Roly Poly - the Eastern European Gymnast
Scrub a Dub Dub - The Japanese doctor who also does voice-over work
Chrome Dome - Headbutts bad guys with his shiny silver bald head

There was one more, but it was morally questionable in nature, and since I had to explain it to my daughter, and also since I had already completed my "searching and fearless moral inventory" according to STEP TWO, it is probably better left unwritten. :o)

Boys will be Boys
Oh, and speaking earlier of Winterfest: A quote heard from one of our sophomore boys to his mom as he was leaving the hotel and running down the outside steps, "Don't worry Mom, I've got my pants with me!" I will leave the mental picture to your imagination.

To blog or not to blog . . . not to blog might have been the better choice.

February 18, 2009

more thumbs up . . .

When they aren't quite so chatty, I am really enjoying teaching the Middle School class on Wednesday nights. Even when they are chatty, I'm still enjoying preparing for the class! I blogged a few weeks ago in "three thumbs up" about the first few lessons. Since those first three, we have covered the following:

"Children Who Shine"
Focusing on Philippians 2 and how Jesus took the very nature of a servant, finishing with "do all things without grumbling and complaining . . . so you shine like stars in the universe. We watched a clip of Westley, the servant boy, and Buttercup from "The Princess Bride", where she realizes that his humble service to her was his way of saying "I Love You".

"Aliens and Strangers"
Using the story of Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery in another country, how he kept himself pure, how God lifted him as an alien and stranger to 2nd in command and saved two nations of people as a result. They watched a clip from "Men in Black" (I think the one where they are standing outside the pawn shop and he is looking at what appears to be "normal" people on the street, but you begin to see aliens all around.)

"Faithful Children"
Using a clip from "Signs" where the two brothers are sitting on the couch talking about there being two kinds of people in the world: 1) those who believe we are all alone here and 2) those who believe there is Someone looking out for us, we talked about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the difference between just believing something and having real faith. This was one of my favorites.

"Living Example"
We followed last week's Boys in the Fiery Furnace with their friend, Daniel and his commitment to doing the right thing. Always. Even when he didn't know he was being watched. We used a clip from "The Truman Show" when Jim Carrey is driving around town and begins to suspect he is being watched.

"Made in His Image"
Prejudice. Judging. Thinking we are better than others. I have some fun optical illusions to illustrate that things aren't always as they appear. I'm also going to show a couple of the more appropriate Ameriquest Mortgage Company commercials - they are hysterical! Their slogan is "Don't judge too quickly - we won't." The movie clip for tonight is from the end of "Volcano" where the officer is helping the little boy find his mom. He asks the boy what she looks like, and as the little boy is looking around at all the ash-covered faces he says "we all look the same".

"Surrendered Life"
Next week is my last class for this quarter. Going to talk about "Surrender" using a clip from "Bruce Almighty" and the ultimate story of surrender: Jesus.

I plan to teach again next Winter Quarter and continue . . . this is much more fun than it should be!

February 10, 2009

fortress of solitute

The ice storm has thrown everything out of whack. Although, if things were still "in whack" I'm not sure I'd know what that meant. . .

Clean up is underway. If you can imagine the amount of water in New Orleans after Katrina and then imagine that the water is, say instead, fallen trees and tree limbs, then you begin to get a picture of what things look like around here. It's like Superman's Fortress of Solitute - only contstructed of branches and sticks and limbs and twigs. Crazy.

This is day 15 with no power for many of our friends and neighbors, and though we were fortunate enough to regain our electricity on day 6, we are still sympathetic to those with broken power lines and electrical poles who are maintaining with generators or bunking with friends and family.

On a different note, the pathology report on Tony's tumor marks it as an astrocytoma. He sees the oncologist tomorrow to determine a treatment course.

On another different note, the driving is going well for Boy-Junior. Though my "in transit" conversation as the driving instructor consists mainly of the following sarcastic or panic-stricken phrases:
"Blinker? Sometime today?"
"A left turn does not mean you turn into the left lane, sweetheart."
"I like to put the car in reverse before I try to back up. I just think it works better."
"Stop. Stop. STOP!"
"Move over. Over. Other way! Mommy does not want to sleep in the ditch, thank you very much."

On yet another different note, Sara's phone is dead. I miss her. I mean, I see her almost every day, but it's not the same. Stupid Blackberry Pearl.

On still yet another different note, my daughter will not come home to see me. She texts and says, "Mommy, I meeeeeeeeess you!" She lies.

And speaking of Fortress of Solitute, I am remodeling my office. This month marks my 5th year living in this room, er, I mean, working here, so it was time for new furniture, new paint, new attitude. Could not have picked a busier time to do this, so between work, homeschool co-op, ice storm insanity and driving lessons, I am painting and putting together office furniture. In the meantime, all my books, cds, reams of paper, wall decor, etc. are sitting in the church hallway waiting to be tripped over. The walls in my newly-made-over office are Granny-Apple-Guacamole-Green. Sounds gross, but trust me on this . . . it's going to look GREAT if and when I figure out how to make all the new furniture fit just right.

Now, this is not to imply that my office is a Fortress of Solitute. Far from it. It tends to be the gathering place for all who are within walking distance. I love that about my office, so the challenge has been to find appropriate furniture. I knew from the start that a table for us to socialize around, meet around, work around, even have Bible class around, was a must. As a church that has outgrown its facilities, my office has been used for a classroom at least 5 different quarters that I remember.

I also knew that the loveseat would have to be comfy. Really comfy. So after MUCH shopping, online and off, I finally found a loveseat that is both washable AND has low padded arms that make it very sleepable. Not as in "sofa bed" sleepable, but as in 'Tommy stops by on Thursdays and props his feet up' sleepable . . . as in 'Kevin is a growing boy and needs a nap today' sleepable . . . as in 'I just chaperoned a lock in and I don't have the energy to drive home' sleepable . . . you get the idea. I guess in that sense my office can be a Fortress of Solitute, or Sleepitude.

Either way, I'll post pictures when it's all put together.

February 05, 2009

i'm not dead yet (read with british accent)

Kevin got his permit today. On my dad's birthday! (Happy, Happy, Dad!) It's almost 3 weeks past due because of our trip to Fayetteville for Tony's surgery, and the world's worst ice storm EVER. However, he took it today and scored a 95 - missed only 2 out of 40. So, we left the Circuit Court Building, a smile on his face and a shiny warm permit in his duct-tape wallet, and he took the driver's seat.

And then I yelled. For maybe the first time since . . . well, since the last time I yelled. Which was a long time ago. Seriously. Like 1998.

Did Kacey just have better beginner's instincts, or was I just MUCH more patient 6 1/2 years ago? I'm guessing the latter.

And though he got off to a rocky start (apologies to the lady in the white van who honked at us because we gave her whiplash), by the time we made it home (3 furniture store stops, and 2 near-death experiences later) he was starting to get a feel for it. He said it was the longest 20 minutes of his life. HIS life?

He has no idea.