Saturday, November 24, 2012

Almost perfect start...

to the Christmas season.  Well, as perfect as a day spent traveling can be.

Yesterday while others were resting after the Thanksgiving feast, or enjoying Black Friday shopping, or just going about their usual business, we were northbound on I-81, returning to Pennsylvania from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  That's a 14-hour drive for us, with stops to stretch, use the facilities, and stop for coffee.  Of course, lots of coffee. 

(Just an aside:  the "Welcome Centers" (aka rest stops) along I-81 in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia are welcoming indeed.  We've stopped at all of them, I think, in the 5 years we've been making that trip.  They are comfortable, clean, decorated for the holidays, and just all-around pleasant places to stop.) 

But how can a day spent on the road be almost perfect?

We started off in good moods.  It's always hard to leave the grandparents after a too-short visit, but we were also ready to get home.  Our first-ever artificial tree is waiting to be decorated.  Our dog is waiting to be picked up at the kennel.  We have things to do at home.

We had Christmas music.  A mix of secular pop music tunes, Christian carols, some Freddy Clarke guitar,  and bits of Handl's Messiah.  All that was missing was Nutcracker.  I put the mp3 player on random play, and let it go.  I admit it can be a bit jarring to go from one of the solos from Messiah right into "Blue Christmas," but... it worked.

We had a Christmas story:  Jim Dale's reading of A Christmas Carol.  We've been reading this book together for years, and this time went with a new reader instead of Dad or Mom.  It was so good, and took up three hours of our time!

We found a great place for a quick, cheap, road dinner:  Sheetz gasoline and convenience store.  We felt a little guilty loving it so much, being the Wawa fans we are, but as far as I know, Wawa doesn't serve pizza by the slice, which is what half of our number were craving.  My BLT was perfect, and I hear the pulled pork sandwich is pretty good too.  About $15 and change, and we were fortified for the rest of the drive home.

I won't say the trip went quickly, because 14-hour drives just don't.  But it went as well as it could. We're safely, happily home, and in the Christmas spirit!

How about you?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Homeschool Moments: Political Education

A major election always causes a distraction from homeschooling, but it also provides lots of opportunities for homeschool moments.  I'm not just talking about teaching my kids how the electoral college works, or why it's important to be an educated voter, though.  This election cycle we ended up focusing on political discourse and how to converse with and about political opponents.

I know I'm getting old, but elections seem to be getting nastier and uglier.  This one was pretty bad.  On facebook, on blogs, in casual conversation, people spewed nastiness with abandon, never thinking that someone might disagree with them.  People posted assassination threats on twitter (were they joking? who knows?) and put up facebook statuses saying that "no real _______ would vote for __________" (fill in your own. I've seen it applied to both sides: woman/Romney, American/Obama.)  Or "anyone who votes for _______ is a __________ " (fill in your own profanity-laden description of a stupid person). 

So my young teens see this, because we encourage them to read the news, read political blogs, engage with appropriate adults on facebook. (Appropriate meaning people we know.)   We do have "safe" sites that have good articles to read, but no one can control comments, and telling kids "don't read the comments!" rarely works.  And so they are exposed to this spewing because sometimes even people we know and like find they can't follow that old adage "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." 

And we have to talk about why this is wrong and how to express their own opinions without denigrating and demonizing their opponents.

It's been quite an education for them. They are a bit disillusioned about a few people they like and respect but who couldn't keep from making nasty, unnecessary comments, or from using language that used to be taboo in polite company.   They're learning about media bias and about the way people form opinions and can't be swayed from them, no matter what evidence is presented to them.  They're learning about what's important to people (not always a happy lesson, sorry to say). 

They'll be able to vote in the next Presidential election, and the lessons aren't over yet!  But at least we have a little break from it now.  On to other things!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

We are still having homeschool moments...

but there are more "real life" moments going on right now.

The mystery sickness that seems to hit my kid every year at this time, the doctor visits that go along with that, and the difficulties of homeschooling someone who is sick. all. the. time.

The kidney infection that had me in the hospital for three days.  I know I'm not the only mom who has ever had the fantasy of a few days of leisure in the hospital with a non-life-threatening illness and a pile of books.  Lots of time to read, people bringing water and tea and food... Forget it.  The reality is nothing like the fantasy.

Then there was The Storm.  We were not hit hard; we just lost power for about 30 hours, and one of our trees fell, taking out the landline.  (Yes, we still have a landline.)  That was easily fixed, and the tree was no great loss - we hated it.  There are a few more old trees that we wish would fall down. 

After the storm, there was the flurry of appointment-rescheduling for the mystery sickness.  Then, my lithotripsy (aka kidney-stone-blasting) procedure which took most of a day. 

I really need to stop making blog plans.  Maybe I'd blog more!

Hey, it's NaNoWriMo month!  I'm not doing it, but my kids are!  There'll be at least one homeschool moment in November, as they share bits of their stories!