Friday, April 29, 2011

The Long, Dragged-Out and Yet Still Unresolved Saga of Mr. Stinky Pants

One of my dear Haitian Sensations--who for the sake of dignity and privacy I will hereby bestow the nickname Mr. Stinky Pants-- has had, since he came home, bowel movements which smell so horrific they can clear a house.

I don't mean like stinky boy poop. I mean his bowel movements are the Freddy Krueger/Norman Bates/Hannibal Lector of bowel movements.

Nasty. Stuff.

Anyways, coming home from Haiti, we had him tested for all the typical crud that these kids come home with. Everything was negative except for something I can't recall the name of and couldn't pronounce or hope to spell even if I could.

So we gave him a good dose of a strong parasiticide, and everything came back fine and dandy in the next two stool samples.

Although, the horror of the poop never went away.

For the past few months, it has been nagging at me that something just isn't right and healthy--physically speaking-- with my boy. Mr. Stinky Pants started developing knock-you-down breath, which, as gross as this sounds, smells like a less-intense bowel movement. Something just wasn't right, but in a major way.

So, I brought him back in for a check, and left with the beloved top-hat stool collection bowl, pooper scooper and specimen container.

I deposited the kit and child with the Mister, and hightailed it out of the house.

This morning, upon returning home after a visit at Jill's, I found 5 messages.

3 from the pediatrician's office.

2 from the Health Department.


Turns out, my dear Mr. Stinky Pants is suffering from:

Giardiasis and Cryptosporidiosis‏.

That's a pretty big 'ewwww' factor all on its own.

But wait!

It gets even grosser.

Not only does my boy have that, he also has--

wait for it---



I am still trying hard not to puke.

Or get within 200 feet of his butt.

The game plan is for me to collect the pharmacological miracles from CVS this afternoon. Tomorrow morning, the big de-worming will begin.

Given the fact that I am squeamish and the Mister is already a pharmaceutical expert, he automatically wins the Parent in Charge spot with Mr. Stinky Pants.

I will be taking the other 4 children and running for dear life. Actually, we'll be running to a mall, a far, far away mall, to buy Mr. Stinky Pants a few treats/toys to help cheer him up. Because after 2 years of this, the kid needs a good cheering up.

Do you think Hallmark makes a "Congratulations on Being Parasite-Free" card? Hmmm. It's something for them to consider.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Growing and Changing

These days, Unschooling is certainly a buzzword in the homeschooling circuit as a highly touted and regarded methodology of childhood learning. As is the Christ-centered homeschooling methodology we see heavily employed by a large number of families in our local (Christian) homeschooling association.

That being the case, I'm probably about to make what will NOT be a hugely popular homeschool mom admission, but the MAIN reason I homeschool my kids is from a purely academic standpoint.

I probably err on the hyper-obsessive side, but I care big time about the quality of my children's education. Yeah, you bet that I want them to learn about life and themselves and become good-hearted, God-loving people. Who doesn't want that for their kids? And yeah, I'll completely agree with the fact that a home school lifestyle certainly helps place the pursuit of those things into a high priority position in life.

But, for me, what my children learn, how they learn it, what skills they acquire, are HUGELY important to me. That my children will be ready, able and eligible to attend the college of their choice--should they choose to go to college--is my main goal as a homeschool mom.

What if any of one my children graduates from high school and wants to become an astrophysicist, but then finds out that they have to hit community college first before they can even get into a 4-year university-- not that there is anything wrong with community college! But what if that is their only option, and all because Mom didn't give them enough of a book education to start at university?

Well, that would make me feel like I, as a teacher, failed them. Because I think it's my duty as a parent, a teacher, as a member of society, at minimum, to be willing and able to give my kids the skill set to get into college (I like to think that I'll give them a much greater skill set with life skills, etc., but I'm talking basic education here.)

We started our homeschooling journey out of a realization that our daughter was receiving an education that was faulty at its foundation. I realized that I needed to pull Hatfield out of school and do it myself when she could ace every math test, but at the 'unit review' every 6 weeks, she'd be a puddle of tears, not having remembered/retained any of those skills.

The memorize/pass/forget format of school does not work when it comes to learning the concrete basics of life--addition, subtraction, phonics, reading. Either your children know them, or they don't.

If the 2-week unit on subtraction with regrouping isn't enough to cement it in a child's brain, then that child needs--and should be given--enough time until they can do so.

Because--news flash--if a child is struggling with a faulty understanding of the basics in elementary school, then they are being set up to fail through secondary school.

That shall be the end of my soapbox. :) Back to Hattie.

We use Sonlight for pre-elementary and elementary education. I love, love, LOVE our Sonlight. Great exposure to the world, to people, to viewpoints. Great exposure to excellent writing and literature. Great support in teaching your kids to be critical thinkers.

I'm personally of the belief that to succeed in life, we need to use elementary school to cement the basics of the 3 Rs and teach them to be critical thinkers. This takes time and cannot be rushed.

Sonlight honors those things.

Hatfield is now in 6th grade. Homeschooling through the elementary years has helped Hatfield

* become a critical thinker
* gain confidence as a young woman
* enjoy learning
* not be scared of "looking stupid" at giving wrong answers in the effort to search for the correct answer

While it has taken me nearly the entire academic year to put my finger on it, I realized about a month back that we needed to change things up. Whether I wanted to realize it or not, my "little" girl has been maturing into an intelligent, confident young woman. Hatfield has become ready to move forward and tackle bigger challenges.

Watching the movie Waiting for Superman was a huge catalyst for me in determining the next step in Hatfield's educational path. I realize that we now needed to broaden Hatfield's exposure in math, computers and sciences. We certainly need to intensify her math and science exposure, as those were her least favorites with home school.

After evaluating different programs, we decided to enroll Hatfield in a certified, online middle school. By holding her accountable to someone other than Mom, she has to face her fears, put the pedal to the floor and push through these subjects.

This is a purely egotistical confession: I was quite scared to put her in a 'real' school out of fear that she can't keep up or doesn't have the skills. I was scared that despite my best efforts, maybe I had failed her.

My ego and heart were relieved to see that she has been well-prepared. She is able to do the work. She's able to tackle these new tasks with poise and a good attitude. This new type of school is different, and challenging, but in the good way that true learning is supposed to be.

Surprisingly, but in such a good way, science is her new favorite subject. She is eating that course up, and she knows that if she finishes it early, I'll pay for her to take a summer science course, which is what my girl is aiming to do.

She's learning to use computer programs she has yet been exposed to. She's having to communicate via email and phone with several teachers. She is now accountable to adults other than Mom.
Hatfield hard at work, utilizing her Type-A mother's half of the computer desk.
The forefront is her father's half.

Thankfully, she is loving it. She seems to truly enjoy sitting down at the computer, with her books, notebooks, workbooks, binder and calendar. She must have inherited my type-A love of calendaring, because she has her own little "StudentBoard"--a smaller daughter to the MotherBoard-- and she has the remainder of her year mapped out. Skills which I think will aid her well when she goes off to college and has to self-manage her schooling.

Now if we can just pass her organizational skills onto her father. . . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Damn Coffee

I've long known that after my 2 morning cups of coffee, I experience about a 90-minute "Bulletproof" high where I feel freaking invincible. At this time, nearly everything sounds doable or like a great challenge.

This is my post-coffee Morning Theme Song.

I've brought myself a lot of headache in the past, volunteering for things at school, agreeing to coordinate things for church or the home school group, all under the delusions brought forth by caffeine coursing through my veins.

Now, I'm smart enough to have a "Home school Only" rule during that time. And, I turn the ringer off of my phone to further help me.

I slipped up about 2 weeks ago, when I decided to hit the 9 am workout at the gym, coinciding with the peak of my coffee high.

"Sign up for our Beach Body Bootcamp!" the instructor urged, handing me a brochure with the following description:

Extreme conditioning exercises for results beyond anything you’ve imagined possible. EDGE will chisel your body and your determination.

  • Extreme Conditioning at its finest!
  • Hard-core, functional training bootcamp combining strength and cardio to deliver ultimate results.
  • Heavy ropes, tires, suspension training, kettlebell drills, and incredible fat burning cardio will keep you challenged and your body responding.
  • 40 minute class times challenge you to the max while still fitting into your busy schedule.

  • Convenient 6 week session.
Awesome! My drug-induced stupor thought. I'm feeling totally kick-ass lately! I can do this!

I wrote out the check, and didn't give it a second thought until I received this email:


We look forward to seeing you for the 7p boot camp starting this Monday, April 25th!

Please arrive to class 5-10 minutes early so we can get equipment ready before the start of class. This will allow us to hit it hard at 7pm sharp!

Rest up...we'll see you Monday night!

Did you see how that email starts with "Cadets?!?" And ends with "Rest up?!?" I read that and my knees felt weak and all I could think was FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?!?!

I'm gonna go tonight, but I. Am. Scared. I don't know why, but I think it probably has something to do with the intense and humiliating physical beating I'm about to willingly submit to and pay for at 7 pm this evening.

So I've added another new rule for my Coffee-Induced Insanity each morning:
* Homeschool Only
* Ringer Off
* No Working Out

Slowly, I'm learning. Although this lesson may be my most painful one (literally) yet ;)

Happy Monday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Artistic Endeavors

Dear Sweet, Adorable Child o' Mine,

--and encouraged--
forms of Artistic Self-Expression
at the 5FC abode:

* crayons
* markers
* watercolors
* oils/chalks
* knitting
* crochet
* corking (spool knitting)
* latch hook
* body piercing (of age)
* poetry
* pantomime
* government sit ins
* creative writing
* perler beads
* tattoing (of age)
* jewelry making
* sandbox art

As you can see, the list is quite extensive, from the conservative to the liberal. Need to express something artistically? Knock yourself out.


creative use of bodily fluids is NOT ON THE LIST!

I know, what a killjoy. I'm right up there with those horrible people trying to ban Tom Sawyer or Harry Potter.

I get the fact that you are highly creative and talented with your usage of bodily fluids.

this particular sort of creative endeavor

Maybe someday, you will find some free-thinking, funky, liberal College of Creative Arts that will welcome your preferred form of self-expression. Awesome. Heck, I will even help you fill out financial aid forms.

Maybe you and your art will become globally celebrated. Maybe people will weep at your brilliance and pay millions of dollars for your ur*ne art.

Maybe you'll show me and I'll eat my words.


But until then, please take note: this form of self-expression WILL NEVER BE on the damn list.

So, please, please, for the love of all things holy, knock. it. off.

Friday, April 15, 2011

When we're bored, we hit the boards. . .

We love us some good Board Games. And I'm always on the lookout for a good recommendation or two.

Here are some of our absolute favorites:

Who plays it: Everyone (5, 6, 6, 8, 12 and folks)

In essence, this is a memory sort of game, as players have to navigate their wizard through a labyrinth to earn tokens. Paloma is stellar at this game, but everyone in our family finds it challenging and fun.

How it's played: The apprentices to the Master Wizard have accidentally lost some objects in the The Magic Labyrinth. Now, they must try to collect them before the Master notices that they are missing. However, this magical maze has invisible walls that the little wizards keep bumping into, forcing them to start all over again. Become one of the wizard apprentices and make your way through the Magic Labyrinth to collect as many of the lost objects as you can. Sharpen your memory and show your skill as you navigate the maze and win the Master Wizard's favor.

Who plays it: Atticus (8), Hatfield (12), The Mister and Me

This is one of my all-time favorite games.

How it's played: You have 10 Days in the USA – travel the country by jet, car, and on foot. Plan your trip from start to finish using destination and transportation tiles. The kids LOVE it. Plus, both kids now have a great sense of US state location & capitals.

Who plays: Atticus, Hatfield, The Mister and Me

This game creates some heated fun when the 4 of us play. Yet it is so fun and addicting that the Mister and I have taken it out after the kids are in bed.

How it works: Blokus encourages creative thinking and has received a Mensa award for promoting healthy brain activity. The goal of this game is for players to fit all of their pieces onto the board. When placing a piece it may not lie adjacent to the player's other pieces, but must be placed touching at least one corner of their pieces already on the board. The player who gets rid of all of their tiles first is the winner and strategic thinking helps as you block moves from your opponent. Blokus sometimes comes to an end because there are no more possible moves.

Who Plays It: Hatfield, The Mister and Me

We can--and have--played this for hours.

How it's played: With a hand of 10 cards, players try to score the most points per round by constructing the longest, grammatically correct, and sensible sentence. Any player can object to another players sentence, on either grammatical grounds, or the fact that the sentence just doesn¿t make sense. The defending player and the objecting player get to argue their points to the rest of the players, who form a jury. Half the fun is trying to defend, explain, and justify a completely ridiculous sentence to the other players.

How about your family? What are your favorite games? Do share!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

20 Years Ago

20 years ago today, my Dad died.

It was a warm, spring Sunday afternoon. He had gone out to mow the lawn and collapsed. He was 42 years old.

I had been in the basement, ironing and watching the movie The Burbs. I heard my mom call me up in an unfamiliar voice.

I ran outside to the side yard, and my Dad was on the ground, half down, half up. I remember seeing his mouth move and wave me away. I don't remember what he said.

I didn't know that I should have hugged him. Told him I loved him.

I didn't know that it would be my chance to say good-bye.

I ran to get some neighbors. The ambulance came. My mom went to the hospital. I don't remember who stayed with me and my brother and sister, although I had been babysitting them for several years by then.

Within 2 hours, my mom came home.


Dad was gone.

Simply gone.

* * * * * * *

The hardest thing about having a parent die suddenly, traumatically, when you are young, is that you are never able to trust that people will be there every day.

You know that they can be there each day.

But you also intimately know that it is perfectly possible that tomorrow, they may not be here.

* * * * * * *
The day before my Dad died, I had an opportunity to golf with him.

I didn't.

That regret deepens with each passing year.

My greatest regret though, is that he died well before I had children. That my children do not have the benefit of knowing him and being loved by him. That he did not have the chance to know and love my children.

Lately I've been feeling a tremendous pull to slow down, be in the moment, and focus more on each day as it is happening.

Realizing how quickly 20 years can go by, I think slowing down is a good idea.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cirque du Freak

You know,
I probably shouldn't kill myself trying to homeschool this child
given she has "Carny" written all over her.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Mondays rock

I love it when other larger family bloggers write posts about the items in their homes which break down quickly, due to the over" use a large brood creates. I laugh because I've been there/done that. I empathize because I've been there/done that. And then I knock on wood 3 times because I've been there/done that.

Knocking on wood be damned, because this week, it's my turn.

Welcome to Our Home!

As you go to pull up in our driveway, you realize an unfamiliar car is parked in the drive. Please, don't drive on, thinking that you would disrupt us with company.
Pull on in. There is no other company. It's just my mom's car, although she isn't here.

Why do we have her car? Because my van is sitting, lifeless, in the garage. Later this evening, the Mister needs to somehow breathe life into the (ad)Venture so that we can get it to the other side of town to the mechanic.

So come on now, get out of the car and walk on up to our front step.

Please don't take the missing doorknob as a sign that we really don't want you here. Just because you won't be able to physically open the door to gain entry doesn't mean we don't love you.

It just means that we are too tired/too lazy/too out of time to determine the best way to get a handle on our problem.

Whoohoo! I'm feeling pun-ny today!

Ring the bell. We promise to answer it.

Oh, and if the door bell doesn't ring, but instead emits a low, pulsating buzz that sounds JUST like it is about to electrocute you, Don't Worry!

It hasn't electrocuted anyone thus far. Plus, the dogs recognize the sound and will bark madly to let us know of your arrival.

Now that you've made it past the mind game of the unfamiliar car, and you circumnavigated the door without a handle (and electric current), and you have really, truly stepped foot into our abode, let me offer you a cool refreshment.

Provided that you request a non-perishable refreshment that does not come from the fresh food side of the refrigerator.

Because on Saturday, the freaking refrigerator door FELL OFF.
And being the handy dandy folk that we are, some old encyclopedias and small plastic wedges are holding the now defunct door in place.

However, if you promise not to touch the door, I promise that it will not fall on top of you.

So come on over! We'd love to have you. And while you are here, drinking water and noshing on non-perishable treats, I promise not to go off on a long, angry they-don't-'em-like-they-used-to tirade.

Because you know what they say! If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Provided that those lemons are on the counter, and not in the fresh food section of your fridge that you cannot open.