Why do I title these with questions? (aka Homeschooling at last!)

It’s just a crazy non sequitor thing I noticed a few days ago…

Anyway, we’re back on track with school for the kids. I finally got a CLEAR answer about what it takes to homeschool:

* If you enroll in the K-12 program, it is essentially a home-based PUBLIC school. That means that your kid HAS to go through standardized testing. Also, as much as they’d like to say it’s “self-paced”, it’s really not. I was confused as to why a home-school program needed my kids’ shot records… and then I came to my senses.

* The first step to homeschooling is to keep your kid(s) home. Obviously, if they’re currently enrolled, take them out officially, or else you could end up with a truancy case, regardless of whether you’re keeping with the rest of the legal requirements.

* The only thing you need in Texas to legally homeschool is a [b]written curriculum that reflects programs in spelling, grammar, math, reading, and good citizenship[/b]. You are not required to get this curriculum from anyone else, you don’t have to pay out the nose for anything, and you might have noticed that there are no requirements for science or history. It’s just a bare-bones thing.

* Your homeschool is considered a PRIVATE school according to the Texas Education codes. My recommendation is to treat it as such and keep records of everything you do. Just because you SAY you’re homeschooling doesn’t mean you actually are. The one range of people who might run afoul of the truancy/schooling laws would be the unschoolers, but even they may be able to get around it some.

* You are NOT required to register your intent to homeschool with anyone at any time. They’d like you to, except that there is no part of the TEA that accepts such registration. They’ll keep you running all over hell’s half acre trying to find the right person to talk to, all the while building your stress until you buckle and just send your kid to school to keep from getting in trouble. (This is my guess, by the way, as to their motivation, and I just didn’t fall for it.)

My Facebook friends already got to see Miles’ vocabulary exercise yesterday. I suspect a long and glorious history of similar awesomeness in weeks to come. I will continue to share as appropriate.

I really like the idea of running my school years from January to December. It makes record-keeping easier, and it means that if we wrap up early (which is almost a guarantee), we have no holiday conflicts.

To answer a few questions that have been queried repeatedly:

— Yes, I keep grades. Excel is my friend. I keep weekly overall grades, and subject grades. At some point, I’ll find a good source for converting those grades to GPAs. That still confuses me a little.

— I write out weekly assignments for the kids, and it’s up to them to get them done before the Friday tests. If they don’t get it done – or at least review the material – they’re on their own at test-time. If they don’t get an assignment completed by Sunday night, it counts as a zero on their grade sheet AND they have to do it over again the following week, sometimes with an additional workload in that subject.

— I have collected a lot of school books through the years, and continue to do so. Mostly, this happens in thrift stores. Not all books that I get are used for school – some are just fun to read, like the sociology books that discuss “how to relate to Negroes” (I am completely not kidding) – but inspiration is found everywhere.

— I teach my kids directly, and I let them learn things on their own. They have at least one history research paper to do per week, a current event (starting next week), and then there are the creative writing assignments. I list their resources as needed (such as checking the English book for clarification on the designation of nouns), and then they have to figure it out. This is because spoon-fed information doesn’t do anyone a damn bit of good. If I was fine with that, I’d send them to public school, wouldn’t I?

— For many parts of the curriculum, I keep Lili and Miles on the same level. This means that Lili gets a little more practice, and Miles gets pushed a little harder. The only thing that Lili can do that Miles can’t (yet) is more advanced algebra, but she’s enjoying the foundational practice, too.

And, speaking of which, it’s just about time to get back to it and administer tests. If you homeschool, too, or want to see what we’re doing, let me know. I keep everything, including my vocabulary lists up through… I think we’re into August with vocabulary words. I get them from Dictionary.Com.

As promised, the update.

A week ago, Lili and I left for Ohio in a cargo van that was loaded to the gills with Nana’s stuff. As has happened on a couple of occasions that I recall personally, her vacation turned into a “wow, this is really love, I’m getting married.” And that’s cool.

We drove the first 14 hours to Chicago (Deerfield). It was a little windy across Nebraska, but once we got into Iowa, it started to snow and rain and freeze and snow, which was not fun times. In fact, I had to stop a couple of times to get the ice off of the windshield wiper so that I could actually see. We got to Deerfield around 9 or 10, I think, to spend the night with Mariel, which was very awesome. Lili scored some excellent sheet music for the clarinet, and that will likely reignite her passion for playing. Also, Mariel’s mom and grandmom are the awesomest folks in the history of ever.

On Sunday, we drove the other seven hours or so to Canton, Ohio, also with some snow and rain, but not quite as bad as the day before. Met Donovan, who is fantastic and a total geek, went out for dinner, and then Lili and I crashed hard.

Monday, we unloaded the van and trucked all of the stuff upstairs. Second floor apartment not so fun to move, but at least we had a dolly, right? Got that done, loitered about the house being all not-driving, and then we met up with new grandparents (Lili’s great-grandparents) and took them out for dinner at a neato Chinese buffet. The grandparents are very, very awesome – Grandpa was a teacher and then a principal for heap-many years, and Grandma was the educated one. 😉 After dinner, we went home and watched “Mamma Mia”, the ABBA-based musical. Not bad, seriously! It was actually very entertaining. (Pierce Brosnan can sing, but he’s not a singer. This illustrates the difference very well.)

I thought long and hard about it Monday night and decided to stay in Canton another day. I just couldn’t see subjecting myself to that abuse that quickly, so we hung around on Tuesday and planned to leave Wednesday morning. That meant that Tuesday morning was a chance to swing by the Canton Museum and check out the Kimono exhibit before it went back to Japan forever. It was very lovely, and we stopped at the gift shop to get some knick-knacks for the kids.

Tuesday, I also popped over to a neighboring town and bought a van-load of wood to weigh the back of the van down on our way home. This was win.

What was also win was that Donovan had to “make room” for Nana’s stuff, so he sent eleven boxes of comics home with us that he rescued from the library (where he worked as a librarian for seventeen years, as I recall). And some books. And some D&D materials. His geek cred is solid, and then some.

Wednesday, we took off and made it to Chicago again (Round Lake this time) to have dinner with Patty. We sat and chit-chatted for a few hours while waiting for Mariel to get off of work. It was nummy. Then we trucked back to Mariel’s for the night and headed out the next morning (after a fun adventure of trying to find a frakkin’ Starbucks).

Thursday was also Miles’ eleventh birthday, and the day that he and Joe left for Dallas. I was very good and did not panic and freak-out over them taking a plane. Miles loves flying now, and that makes me happy. They went to a hockey game that night and have been assing around since then. They have their own schedule that I am not orchestrating, and that feels pretty good.

We rolled in ridiculously late Thursday night (after getting pulled over for speeding – cargo vans do NOT have 1. cruise control; 2. CD players; or 3. auxillary ports). We unloaded Friday morning (big thanks to J and Bob) and then Joseph rode with me to take the van back to Enterprise, who then took Joseph and I to the mechanic’s shop to pick up our car (which had been in the shop for two weeks waiting for these yahoos to get around to doing a one-day job). We started unpacking and sorting the comics last night, and then the power went out for three hours. Candles and fire mean lots of good snuggles, and then I moved everyone into their own beds when the power came back on at 2 am. (It’s still intermittent.)

I am now officially three days late starting Script Frenzy, but I’m not worried. I have the idea in my head pretty solid, and now I just have to type it out.

Instead of doing Lawn of the Dead as I’d originally intended, I’m doing a totally different thing – a stage play. (I may have mentioned this before?) I should really get to that since I don’t have to have the power on to write it – yay for laptops!

<3 Also, the Iowa state motto is: "It doesn't matter how crappy the weather is anywhere else, it's always worse in Iowa." Nineteen accidents, JUST on the Iowa I-80. Also also, if you truck down I-80, bring lots of cash. I spent over $50 in tolls over the week.

Still not dead

Just busy as hell. (Although, some days I feel like I should be dead, but it usually just turns out to be indigestion or something…)

Probably the most exciting thing right now is work. The first episode of Grimm comes out on the 31st of July. That means that it’s finally time to get the website populated properly, and that’s taking a phenomenal amount of work. My role has been better defined recently, so in addition to playing the builds (anyone wanna come over and try them out?), I’m also maintaining the Grimm MySpace page and the Grimm Facebook page. Plus, I might be going to ComicCon at the end of July to do a little one-on-one promoting. That’s in San Diego. No word for sure just yet, but I should find out early this coming up week.

In other news, Lili’s birthday was amazing. She got an iPod Shuffle, Harmony Interchangeable Knitting Needles, some hand-painted Peruvian Wool of the Andes (enough to make a sweater for herself), this awesome caddy from Nanytutu’s, a massive butt-ton of books, and a box of glitter spray, lip gloss, and other girly things from her Aunt Kira. We got her a chocolate cake with choco-butter-cream frosting that had roses and bats on it from the Bread Basket – all organic with no white flour or sugar, two-layered for only $12. (And it was AWESOME.) Just to make things a little more fantastic, she got a hand-drawn birthday card from xlana (her favorite author) with some shrinky-dinks of the main characters from “the Pelgorian Egg” and “the Thellian Crystal”. (You know, I STILL haven’t gotten a chance to read them – the kids seem to ALWAYS have them in their “I’m reading this – Don’t Touch” stash…)

Also, you may recall that Kira was heading this way for some math tutoring during the final months of her quest for an Associates degree. Well, we got through the final remedial math class (Algebra 099), and she got a 79 for the class. This is not bad, but MAN it was brutal. She took a 12-week course in a five-week “mini-mester”. They covered a lot of stuff that I sorta remembered, so I had to review a LOT, and the whole last section was on quadratics, which is what we were covering again when I dropped out of high school. I’m going to have to bone up a LOT more for College Algebra, but I’m okay with that.

I’m so proud of her! When she stopped blocking herself with the whole “I suck at math” thing, she really started getting the concepts and was able to do the majority of the work on her own without too much difficulty. This is an incredible turn-around from the girl who had to take every remedial course more than once.

By the way, if you need some help in the same arena, totally check out PurpleMath.Com. It’s possibly the best tutorial site I’ve ever seen, and I’m going to be using it extensively with the kids once they reach that level. I swear, it’s like I wrote the damn thing during some kind of unconscious moment… like… “sleeping”? Is that what that’s called?

On the home-front, Joe has a gig this weekend, I’m going to the Colorado Ren-Faire on Saturday for a “day off” (something I’m not completely clear on the purpose of, but I’m assured it’s going to be healthy – it might have something to do with herbs, or some kind of sloughing?), Lili and Miles are getting back into the swing of doing school, Joseph is finally learning to write his name (the whole “no video games until you learn to read” trick is working well), and Daniel is still growing like a weed. Dear GODS, but this boy is SUCH a Scorpio. His little eyebrows are SO expressive, there is never a doubt what he’s thinking. It’s a little scary, and I’m thrilled.

Knitting… mostly I’m knitting juggling pigs in preparation for ComicCon, and if not that, then other things. Once I have a certain number done, I’ll be able to get back to working on the Joe sweater.

Well, that’s it, kinda. I gotta get back to work. Deadlines make me happy because it keeps me from procrastinating quite so much.

OH! And in case you missed the previous memo: the diabetes is gone completely. I am happy.

Down for the count, and then some…

I got SOOOOO sick, had to go to the doctor and everything, and then as soon as I was vaguely healthy again, I had to hit the ground running:

I reorganized the house almost completely:

* The DVDs have their own shelf.
* The piano switched places with the school room shelf.
* The stacking cabinets aren’t stacked anymore and sit in front of the window.
* The table is where the stacking cabinets were.
* The clover table is in the alleged dining room.
* The tubs are all in boxes or the shed.
* The blonde coffee table is on the end of the couch.
* The bakers’ rack in the cubby is now sitting in front of the window in the alleged dining room and holding seedling trays and gardening stuff.
* The cubby now hosts all of the coat racks AND coats (and gloves and hats).
* The cubby also holds the box of not-often-used kitchen stuff.
* Several boxes of stuff were taken to Goodwill.

And that’s just for starters.

Other things going on:

* I get to go see the endocrinologist on Tuesday.

* Lili is going to be in the District Spelling Bee on Wednesday.

* We have to paint Nana’s room before her dresser gets here this week.

And much, much more. The Trinary Healing thing is beating me over the head again, and the case studies are crawling out of the woodwork. And, the time is rapidly drawing near when it will be time to start renovating the kitchen. The only thing keeping me from starting right now is the cold (have to be able to open the house up to get the dust and fumes out).

I thought I was supposed to be taking it easy…

Motivation? Where?

I should totally be cleaning house and getting ready for tonight…

(In related news, if I didn’t manage to get ahold of you prior to today and you still wanted to come over to Yule dinner, please call my cell or the house so I know how many I am feeding.)

Daniel is PISSED. I can’t find the little baby clippers for his nails, so I put his mittens on him, and now he can’t toss his binky out of the crib. I’m also making him lay down over THERE to maybe get a little more used to it so that I have a scoche more time to work without a baby on my chest, and he is quiet the opposite of pleased with it.

Boy, howdy.

And I’m a big meany-head for letting him cry a little bit. Eventually, he’s got to learn how to comfort himself at least a little. It’s absolutely heart-breaking.

Nana is working on stockings, I’m gearing up to pre-prep the dinner items, and hopefully we actually get the vacuum back today. I realized yesterday that I have almost no desire at all to clean the living room if I can’t go all the way and make the floor nice and pretty, too – and after paying something like $600 for an awesome vacuum cleaner, my carpets should never look less than spectacular.

I am SO not getting all my holiday knitting done on time, so for those of you on the list, please be aware that it’s all going to be Belated. Hell, at this point, I think I might get Nana’s special knitted thing done in time for her birthday… (and that’s more to do with the ambitiousness of the project than time constraints, actually).

Lili got into the Spelling Bee! That’s going to be interesting since she’s not going to be in school at that time… The kids’ last day of school is January 18th. They’re so damned bored waiting around for other kids to get the clue – not to mention going over material they mostly already know – that the most merciful thing to do is pull them out of their misery and hope that the home structure keeps them interested. Gods know it’s got to be better than what they’re subjected to right now.

It’s not horribly awful and bad, but it has the intense potential of getting that way. I’m not willing to sit around and let my kids be another social experiment gone horribly wrong – we’re going to do it the right way the first time. Rar.

Okay, I’m done kvetching. Are you coming over for dinner?