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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The best game ever

I saw a beautiful kickball game today.

OK, I know that "beautiful" + "kickball" don't always show up in the same sentence but bear with me:

This afternoon, I walked outside to the back of our weekly homeschool coop and saw a bunch of kids---ranging in age from about six to fifteen---running and laughing. One of the boys---around eight years old---breathlessly told me, "This is the Best Game Ever!!!"

I wondered what game they must've invented to make it the "best game ever".

Turns out, they were just playing kickball.

What made it beautiful though were all the different ages playing together.

Where they competitive? Hell, yeah. Except when they weren't, like when a sweet three-year-old in a dress asked if she could kick. Then, they were gentle, even the boys who were at that age when sometimes gentle can be trumped by the desire to win.

At one point, my six-year-old son (D) was sitting on second base, apparently tired out by all the activity of the morning. The teenager "pitched" the ball and the kick went sailing over his head, straight past my son.

With a lazy wave of his foot, D stopped the ball from sailing past, without getting up off his butt.

I waited for the older boys to chide him for sitting when he should obviously been on his feet, trying to stop the ball, trying to win. Instead, the teen laughed and said, "NICE stop!" and congratulated him on doing it without having to get up off the ground.

I'm fortunate to see a lot of teens like this every week. Sweet, friendly, happy teens who make me feel good about my chances of raising the same. It makes my heart swell.

And it turns a regular kickball game into the best, most beautiful, game ever.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Passed over

I used to be a good Catholic. Well, "good" if that equates going to church (most weeks), going to Confession (and telling the priest almost everything), and attending CCD (though I remember nothing of those classes except which girls were nice to me).

Oh and I remembered to pray when I needed/wanted something.

But, really, I was a pretty pathetic Catholic, especially when you consider that I didn't learn what the Trinity was until I was in (Catholic) college. "Waitaminute---Jesus is supposed to BE God and the holy spirit too?!?!" Blew my mind.

Since abandoning that faith in my twenties, I've dabbled in Unitarian Universalism and, now, agnosticism (another way of saying, "The eff if I know!").

With kids now, I've been determined to raise them with an open mind and allow them to come to their own conclusions about faith and religion. I figured they'd hear me talking about my belief in a higher being (which I call "god" most of the time) and latch on to this.

Instead they find my quasi-beliefs sort of quaint and ridiculous.

When I was explaining the story of Jesus at Christmas and did my typical, "Some people believe. . .blah, blah, blah", one of my kids scoffed at the notion of any god at all.

"What do you call people who don't believe any of it?" "An atheist?", I said quietly.

"Well, that's what I am then."


And while I respect their decision, whatever it may be, my suppressed Catholic beliefs squirmed uncomfortably in my gut, as if them uttering those words will bring a bolt of lightning down onto our house.

Good thing I no longer believe in hell or I'd really be nervous.

Interestingly, while all this has been going on, I read Stacey's post at Is There Any Mommy Out There? where she wrestles with her child's growing belief in the "saved" vs the "damned" from their attendance at a Christian school. Her dilemma is the yin to my yang.

But if I had to choose between my child having no religious faith, or thinking that people could burn in hell for eternity for having different beliefs, I think I've got the better end of the staff. (heh)

Though they'd better still stay up late and watch The Ten Commandments with me. I want to impress them with all the lines I've memorized.

Are you raising your kids with formal religion? Is it the same religion you grew up with or is it something different? How would you feel if your kids' beliefs differed greatly from your own?

Also, I realize religious discussion can be something of a hot button, so please be respectful. If I don't like a comment, I will feel free to smite it with my all-powerful finger.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Who should do a virtual public school?

We lasted in a virtual public school, our state's first, for only eight weeks. It's now been about eight weeks since our decision to quit, and I still get emails from people asking me why we joined, why we quit, and whether or not they should try it.

The "why" anyone does anything is a pretty personal question, but I've thought a lot about this and thought I'd pull together some questions that may be helpful to ask yourself before you sign up for a state-sponsored virtual public school.

* Are you ok with having someone else telling you what to do?

At first, I liked having a teacher oversee our progress thinking it'd feel like having a safety net below us. In short time, though, I felt like I was constantly being watched, constantly being reminded how much more progress we needed to make. I realized that after over four years of DIY homeschooling, the oversight of an outside teacher rubbed me the wrong way--though I think some people would appreciate the accountability this forces on them.

* How many kids are you homeschooling?

This was a biggie for us. If your kids are young, I think MAVA (Massachusetts Virtual Academy) is very, very time consuming for the teaching parent. Between the workload of my two girls who were in the program, it was really hard on my youngest son who was not enrolled. I felt like I told him, "Go play---I'll be there in a minute!" about a hundred times a day. It wasn't fair to him.

* Can your enrolled student/students work independently?

When I published my "why are my kids crying every day?" post to the MAVA message board, I had one woman tell me that things were going wonderfully for her. Turns out, her daughter was in 8th grade and could do almost all of her work on her own. If you have a very dedicated, task-oriented, independent learner, they may really enjoy a virtual school.

* Has your child been in public school before?

The K12 workload (the curriculum used by MAVA) is pretty intense and can take up the majority of the day to complete regularly. A child who has come out of a full-day school environment may not be as affected by this. For my kids who were used to lots of unstructured time, field trips and classes with friends, this longer school day was a real drag.

* Do you want a boxed, soup-to-nuts curriculum? Really?

In hindsight, this is another reason we should never, ever have joined MAVA. The curriculum we have used over the years has always been pieced together to take advantage of each child's learning style and ability. Finding ourselves locked into a single curriculum---even one as strong as K12---would not have suited us in the long run.

I realize eight weeks isn't really long enough to give to a new situation, but I don't regret our decision at all.

Have you considered a virtual public school, or are you enrolled in one? Do you agree with the above or am I missing something?

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Monday, April 04, 2011

I suck at homework

My kids are pretty lucky they don't go to school because I've come to realize I'm "that mom". You know, the one whose child doesn't have their permission slip signed, or their homework done, or their art supplies purchased in time for the first class? Yeah, that's me.

Now that my kids are older and doing more activities out of the house, I've found that I just can't keep up. I'm the one asking Is there a meeting this week? because I can't find the Brownie newsletter. I'm the one who forgets to get to the store for supplies before a class.

I can't even remember to put my girls' hair in a bun before ballet and after yet another gentle scolding by their teacher, they finally figured out how to do it themselves since I can't be counted on to remember. Actually, I think this is pretty great. I hate doing hair.

"Don't forget to send. . ." "Don't forget to have her finish . . ." "Make sure she brings XYZ to the next meeting. . .". All of this is like Mommy Homework: Yet another thing for me to do/remember/organize/write down. Oh sure, my girls should be held accountable too, though it always comes back to me as, "you forgot to. . ."

But like the hair bun for ballet, maybe I'm secretly hoping that my girls will figure out that I'm not going to get any better at this at my advanced age and they'll step up to the plate and stay on top of things.

After all, my days of homework should be long gone.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Another year, another set of humbling photos

What is it about April that does this to me?

Last year, I exposed myself, quite literally, to the world as I embarked on the 30-Day Shred, with the crazies known as The Shredheads. During my journey, I lost ten pounds, started running again, and felt great.

So, what did I do?

And while I think my lifelong habit of "starting to exercise and then stopping" is going to be a hard one to break, I'm going to try.

Otherwise I'm going to be posting these awful photos every April. And, yes, I'm cheating by covering up all the stuff in the middle. Use our imagination.



Start: 140 lbs
Waist: 33"
Hips: 38 1/2"
Thighs: 22"

Goal: Run 5k with my two girls in June and get into my pants without having to push flesh out of the way. And maybe get past Level 3 in Ripped in 30, though I'm not promising anything.

Note: I know 140 pounds for someone 5'9" is totally acceptable, but on me---34A, small boned (my wedding ring is a size 4 1/2)---it feels too fleshy. My college weight of 125 pounds looks way too angular on me now, so I'm only looking to shed about five pounds. I really just want to tone up and fit into my clothes and my --ack--bathing suit.

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