When I Was Homeschooled

Something hit me the other day. Ani is just like I was when I was homeschooled. I would go for a time focused on one subject completing massive amounts of it. Then I’d completely go off that subject and focus on another subject for a while. I once completed a full year of math in less than 2 months. My parents just let me go with it. We never had an “it’s time for school” time. I just did my work when I wanted. And for the most part what I wanted, too. Except art. My parents made me do art. I still hate art.

Sometimes I get frustrated because Ani tends toward that pattern. She’ll be really into math for a few weeks, for example, and do it happily and then suddenly she puts on the brakes and refuses or fights doing it for a while. She’s just being like me, though, so it really shouldn’t be a problem at all (and won’t be now that I’ve realized that).

Shipping Gifts

In March or April the Republic of Ireland made a rule that packages cannot be sent surface to other countries anymore. They only allow airmail now. My mother-in-law lives in Ireland and enjoys selecting and sending gifts to our kids, her grandkids, for birthdays and Christmas. Unfortunately, because of the airmail only thing she probably won’t be able to do that anymore. She sent a package of Christmas presents last week. The cost to ship? About $144. Absolutely insane. It’s hardly worth it when the gifts very well could cost less than the shipping. And for a widow on a small widow’s pension, it’s pretty much not worth it at all. So in the future she’ll have things sent to us from Amazon or some other website or do a dreaded gift card (hey, I did say when a gift has to be shipped gift cards are a good idea!). It’s not the same, though.

In a slightly related side note, I do wonder about the knowledge of geography some postal workers possess. The first time we sent something to my in-laws after they moved over there I said it was going to the Republic of Ireland and specifically said it is the one that is not part of the UK. The postal worker than spent about 5 minutes trying to convince me it would make more sense to send it to Northern Ireland since it is cheaper to send packages there than to the Republic of Ireland. I said that is true, but as they did not live in Northern Ireland so it wouldn’t make any sense at all. I finally convinced her to charge me the shipping cost to the more expensive Ireland. As I left I noticed her looking at the person next to her and she said she couldn’t believe I didn’t want to save money sending that package. The woman next to her shook her head and said some people just don’t understand. Right… like that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are two different countries…

Christmas Starts Today

Today we will begin learning about Christmas in Ireland. Both of the kids are very excited. I really like unit studies.

When we return to “normal” school in January there will be some changes. Actually a lot of changes. The main one is that Cameron will be joining us more. I’ve noticed he’s been listening in a lot, particularly when we do Latin. It’s the cutest thing to hear him say “In principio erat verbum!” (the chapter maxim for chapter 1 of Latin for Children A). I definitely cannot push him into joining us, but when it’s on his own terms he wants to “do” school more and more now.

That brings me back to unit studies. With their vastly different learning styles I have struggled a bit with what to do when Cameron decides he is ready for school. I know unit studies work for him. We did the Konos-in-a-Bag Africa unit when he was not yet 4. He still remembers many things we learned, particularly about the animals, over a year later and speaks fondly of Africa Night and the food we ate, the people who were there, and the performance the kids did. Ani still requires a balance of enough formal sit down work to be happy, but I do think Latin and math will help give her what she needs.

So I’m still firming up plans for changes, but for now we’re going to just enjoy Christmas!

Gift Cards

I am not thrilled with the proliferation of gift cards. Granted, I do get one occasionally to give to someone, but it’s never the only part of the gift. I view gift cards as a complement to the rest. It seems to me there could at least be something selected especially for the person even if it’s very small. The exception to this is when mailing gifts. In that case I think gift cards are smart since postage can cost as much or more than the gift itself.

Every “Thanksgiving” (I put that in quotes because we had that dinner the first Saturday of November) we draw names with some of our extended family. This year I had to draw 12 names. 5 for our family, 5 for my brother’s family, and 2 for my parents. More than half the names I drew all they wanted was gift cards. One even detailed no less than 5 places he’d like a gift card to. I’ll take my aunt’s list of “a good book or a good movie” over a list of places to get a gift card from any day. There’s just something intensely impersonal about a gift card.

On New Year’s Day we will have our “Christmas” celebration at my aunt’s house (remember my post about not celebrating things on the “right” day…). We will open the gifts from the name drawing of “Thanksgiving.” And it will be boring. Absolutely boring. I remember those days before gift cards were all people put down. It was so fun when someone would hold up what they got while calling across the room “Thanks, [insert name here]!” And we’d all look and see what they got. Now it seems most of the gifts are in the form of a gift card. Nothing to see there.

Now, when we made our lists I did include one gift card option for each of us except Fritz. If whomever drew our names is so inclined as to get us a gift card (they are certainly easy to find after all), fine, but it was the last thing on our lists with three or four other ideas. I’d really prefer one of the other things.

Stunt Man

Cameron is a very active boy. Some things he enjoys doing…

Somersaulting off the sewing cabinet onto the couch

Walking on the ceiling (with a little help from Daddy)

Jumping from the top of one-half flight of stairs

Climbing up the doorway between the dining room and kitchen


Jamie and my big kids really like to eat smoked oysters and smoked mussels for a snack. I find that utterly disgusting, but whatever. Last night Ani and Cameron were having smoked mussels and they asked about mussel anatomy. So Jamie googled and came up with a picture to show them. From that point on Ani dissected her remaining mussels before eating them and would gleefully announce that she was eating the heart or eating the stomach or whatever part.

I think I liked it better when all meat was chicken.

Birthday Celebrations

Our family has never been big on celebrating birthday on the actual day, or even very close to the day. Well, except my dad’s birthday. He was born on Christmas Eve so he always makes sure December 24th is his birthday and December 25th is Christmas and the two do not cross. His mother was very good at making sure he never got gypped out of a birthday just because he happened to be born the day before Christmas.

But I digress…

My birthday is April 5th. We celebrated it with my uncle on August 5th this year. It just turned out that was the first time we could get together. Cameron’s birthday was October 3rd. My uncle’s birthday was November 7th. Jamie’s birthday is tomorrow. My uncle is coming down this afternoon to celebrate the birthdays. The amazing thing is he’ll be doing Jamie’s birthday early. I don’t think that’s ever happened.

I don’t really think it is extremely important to celebrate near the exact day with extended family. I always thought it was great to be able to look forward to another birthday celebration. And this year was a bonus. With 4 months between my birthday and celebrating with my uncle, I had forgotten we hadn’t celebrated already by the time August rolled around!

Allergic to Virginia

Fritz has been having some problems lately and this morning he was tested for allergies. The good news is he has no true allergies to food. The bad news is he is pretty much allergic to the state of Virginia. He’s allergic to dust, dust mites, mold, maple, oak, ryegrass, timothy grass, English plantain, and ragweed.

The doctor asked me to keep a food diary so we can see if the baby reacts to anything I eat (and so he gets in the breastmilk) consistently (we already know dairy makes him throw up and peanut causes mucousy poop). Then I need to avoid anything that causes a reaction in him so we can prevent those sensitivities from turning into allergies from repeated exposure.

Poor little Fritz did not like the allergy test, but he was a trooper. First he was all happy to have his shirt off and be laying on his belly. Then the doctor started pressing the tines on his back. His eyes got wide with the first set of pricks. He started turning red with the second. He started crying with the third. And he was screaming with the fourth. I sang to him and the big kids joined in. The Itsy Bitsy Fritz distracted him a little. Halfway through the ABC song he stopped crying. By the end of Popcorn Popping he was pretty happy.