Tuesday, December 18, 2012

school observation, again

Just got back from spying on Claire.  She did all right, especially considering she has a cold.  Yesterday she did great, so maybe I won't have to give her support in class.  Her teacher was doing a very good job, too.  Of course, she knew I was watching.  But back when I watched without the teacher knowing (that's a long awkward story I don't want to relate), she did a good job, too.  We're so fortunate the kids have always had good teachers so far (knock on wood).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good luck, kids!

Oh, boy.  I read through some more of Damon's social studies worksheets this morning.  I think Howard Zinn wrote the curriculum.  I wouldn't complain if he wrote half, and then someone with different opinions wrote the other half.  Then there could be a debate going on at school, and maybe even thinking.  "Don't believe everything you learn at school, Damon!"  "Okay, Mom."

Claire didn't do so hot on her goals last week.  If she doesn't reach her goals 4/5 days this week, she won't earn the gecko cage before Christmas break, which means loss of momentum and progress.  She probably needs more in-class support.  But, I have to have the permission of the principal to be that in-class support, and unfortunately, our school district superintendent, the guy who had my corner last year and helped me get Claire's aide in the classroom, is on paid leave and about to be fired, so if I have to go head-to-head with the principal again, it's going to be long (she avoids me like the plague) and probably ugly.  Going to the superintendent last year was effective, but it wasn't a good way to make friends, if you know what I mean.

But Anne's doing well.  Almost every day she gets of the school bus and says, "Today was a GREAT day!"  Although most mornings she begs to be home schooled...

Friday, December 14, 2012

(un)kindness begins with me

When Claire got up this morning Anne told her, "Your hair looks funny." 

I braced for a meltdown.  Claire doesn't deal well with comments like that.  But instead she replied, "Not as funny as your face."

I almost cheered!  This is a real breakthrough for her!  But then an hour later Damon was saying her name wrong to make her mad and she started crying.  I told her not to cry, but to say his name wrong back.

I hope the Lord will forgive me for teaching an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  I do plan to teach the higher law someday.  I just don't think we're ready for it yet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From Our Family to Yours

If you were our neighbor, you might have been getting homemade vinegar taffy from us for Christmas.  The kids and I made some last night.  The kids are naturals at pulling taffy.  Theirs turned out better than mine.  My Grandma Barbara would have been proud.

Vinegar Taffy
2 C sugar
1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c water

Butter two pie tins.  Sprinkle cocoa in pie tin if desired.  Put a foot or two of wax paper on the counter top.

Cook fast to cracking stage or 270 degrees (the pros don't use a thermometer.  I do.)

Divide between the two pie tins.  Butter your hands.  When the taffy has cooled just enough to handle, start pulling.  It should still be hot enough that your hands are almost getting burned.  (I wore rubber gloves because I hate burning my hands, but that presented its own difficulties.)  If you want to add peanut butter, this is the time to do it.  Pull as long as you can, then lay out on wax paper to harden.  Score with a knife to make breaking easier.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012


I was on make-out patrol at the Stake Youth Dance Saturday night.  (Translation: I sat in the hall playing solitaire and hearts on my laptop, wishing Jake were there to ask me to dance, while the YM and YW danced and giggled and ate refreshments.)  I found out later from two YW in my ward that I did a bad job--a couple had been in the primary room WITH THE LIGHTS OUT.  "But they were just playing the piano," said one girl when she saw my horrified expression.  In the dark?  I doubt it.  Some chaperone I am.

Toward the beginning of the dance I was feeling pretty hip.  All these songs from my high school days were being played.  Then one of my young women came out complaining, "Ugh, why don't they play anything cool?  We can't even dance to these songs."  So I started dancing, showing her how cool the music and I are (were).  "See," said one of the YM leaders, "Sister Henderson can dance to it."  "Yeah," said the YW, "because she's a child of the 50s."  Ouch.  I'm 33, people.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Angry Birds and Poetry

Damon and Anne like to play Angry Birds on the computer.  (We don't have smart phones or ipads or anything cool--we're so last decade.)  Anne has tried to convince Damon to launch the eagle.  I guess it's an effective weapon against pigs or blocks or something (I don't know.  I've never played.).  Damon refuses.  He says it's disrespectful, the eagle being our national bird and all.

Different topic:  I was in Claire's classroom for a little while yesterday observing her progress.  She liked having me there and didn't want me to leave.  When she got home that afternoon she told me, "I was sad when you left, so I made up a poem to help myself feel better:

If we went to the neighborhood of a hare,
then what would we see there?

A blueberry bush and a kitten,
a horse and a flea,
the the cutest little puppy
that you ever did see."

To help motivate the kids (Claire) in school, we've told them they can earn pet geckos if they achieve their (Claire's) goals--10 days of goal reaching to get the cage, 15 days of goal reaching after that to get the geckos.

Geckos were Ange-babe's idea (Thanks, Angela!).  The kids are excited.  I'm excited, too.  I just found out geckos can live 25 years.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Typical Dinner

I made tomato soup for dinner earlier this week.  While it was cooking, Claire asked me to lift her up so she could see what was in the pot.

"What is it?"

"Tomato soup."

"I thought it was spaghetti!  Why aren't you making spaghetti!  You tricked me!"  She ran away in a rage.

"If it smells like spaghetti, maybe you'll like it," I called after her.

Later the kids and I sat down to eat.  (Jake was still at work.)  Before the kids could get too far in their verbal abuse of the soup I said, "I don't want to hear anything except 'Thank you, Mom, for working so hard for us every day and making us dinner.'"

Damon and Anne dutifully thanked me.  Claire cried, "I can't do that!"

"Then just don't say anything, Claire."

"I have to say something to make myself feel better."  She dipped her finger in the soup, licked her finger and added, "Nice try, Mom, but it could have been better."  She didn't have anymore.

And I let it slide.  It was better than a melt down, so I'm going to call it progress.

Damon tasted the soup without eating it, but he didn't complain, either.  Anne had seconds and thirds.  I love that girl's tolerant taste buds.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rise of the Apologists

This bothers me.  It's one of Damon's school worksheets describing tragedies from American History where the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were denied.  I flipped the sheet over, hoping to find examples of other Americans proudly exercising their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Nope.  That side is blank.  I asked Damon if the school teaches about good things in American history.  No, he said, mostly bad things.  Okay, I said, do they tell you about Afghanistan, where women can either marry the man their families choose for them, or commit suicide?  Or that girls there are sometimes beaten if they try to go to school?  

Really? he asked.  That's too bad.

All right.  It's good to learn about the mistakes so we don't repeat them.  But it makes me angry kids aren't being taught about the successes and the triumphs, or at least that the tragedies are a result of human failings, not American failings.  American kids need to be taught to hold their heads high, not to be ashamed of the mistakes of their dead countrymen.  All countries have sad stories to tell, and many of them are a lot sadder than ours.  Shame on a curriculum that teaches we have a past to apologize for while ignoring the many triumphs of those who have gone before.  I've probably said this 100 times now, but no wonder people home school.