Thinking of New Orleans

Man, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be there in the middle of all that. I try not to think of it much, honestly. I may not watch the news, but big news items hit blogs and I did go to

I mean, it won’t recover for months probably. Not only are homes gone, business are too, as well as infrastructure. It’s everyone for themselves. But? If some groceries float by and you’re hungry, are you looting it or are you finding it?

I guess it depends on your skin color, according to news reports.

Stuff like that makes me sick.

My part-time second son

There’s an extra person in my house this week, my alternate child. It’s a long-standing running joke between our families.

Danny was born nine months before Sarah. They’d always been neighbours and friends, for ten whole years, right up until we moved. The neighbour part stopped – the physical location – but the friendship has never changed between us.

I’ve changed his diaper, fed him, kissed his boo-boos and disciplined him like he was my own. Imagine my surprise when we met him at the bus station and he towered over me. Was it only two years since we’d seen him last? We used to see them at least once a week, three or four times in the summer.

Lazy, hot afternoons, hayfields and wildflowers. His mom or me yelling out the window to come in and eat, watching movies in the living room, strewing toys down the hallway of their trailer. Wendy and I sitting at the kitchen table, talking the afternoon away. We alternated, who made the next pot of tea, who went out to see what the kids are hollering about now.

Now Sarah and Danny sit at the dining room table having much the same conversations. They found old cassette tapes, six years old and dusty, young but achingly familiar voices echo out the speakers. Give five children a tape recorder on a summer afternoon and see what happens. Save it in a drawer for later.

I talk to Wendy on the phone to tell her he made it safe, first long distance bus ride by himself, paid for with his own money he earned. She’s on her way out for the late shift, Dave isn’t home yet. Kendra graduates this year, and is looking at law school. Saving up her wages as much as she can. Vicki’s trailer is parked across the driveway from their own. Time marching on, without us there.

But still when I’m surrounded by and almost lost behind towering lanky half-adults, facial hair and pimples, giggles and wrestling… still when someone asks, “Are these all yours?” Danny grins at me out of his dark brown eyes, mussing up his straight black hair, and I answer like I always did, “Yeah, they’re all mine.”

Save Money by Homeschooling

With the back to school sales in full swing, I had a glance at some handily posted lists from the schools in some of the stores. Here’s a list of what we won’t be buying:

– a backpack ($10- $20 and up)
– a lunch box ($10)
– extra sneakers for gym with non-marking soles (at least $20)
– a binder ($1-$20)
– student and locker fees (average $15)
– looseleaf, notebooks, folders, crayons, math sets, glue, etc.. (lets’ start that at $10 and go up)
– odd items like 100 sheets of cardstock, a box of kleenex, and various sizes of Ziploc bags ( $$ ?)

Estimated total: $70 and up.

Please note, that these items are per child. So in my case, the total would be times three. I didn’t even count expenses you wouldn’t think about, like a peer-acceptable wardrobe for at least five days. Some of the lists also required selected items to be a particular brand, and the vast majority of the lists insisted that the parent DO NOT WRITE THE CHILD’S NAME ON THE ITEMS. Yes, in all caps.

Why no name on the items? Because the teacher collects everything up and hands them out when needed. Need a pencil? Teacher will hand them all out. Too bad Jenny’s mom ignored the list and wrote her name on the shiny pink pencil that Billy has and Jenny is now sobbing over, class has to move on. Coloring a picture for Halloween? Teacher hands out the picture and one orange crayon for each child.So you’ve bought the itmes and the whole class gets to use them.

And to balance that, here’s what we spent instead:
2 notebooks ($3)
mechanical pencils ($5)
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons($20)
Cusinaire Rods book ($10 second-hand)
Quick Business Math ($27)

Total: $65.
In this case, my homeschooling costs covers all three school-age children and what we specifically bought them for school this year. Heck, if you like I’ll even toss in the two wooden cabinets we bought to store supplies in. Add thirty bucks.

Still cheaper.

If you like, I can go back to the stores and ask for specific copies of the lists. I’m even willing to go item-by-item and price check for what I would realistically pay. I’m cheap too, but I’m sure the results would be the same.

Blogging is cool because of the cool links you find

Over at Paxye’s Rants she had a link to Virtual Street Reality.

Absolutely mind-blowingly cool. Especially if you have ever seen street art up close and personal. Wish I’d walked by something like this!

It’s official!

Atypical Homeschool is open! This will be where I write about all those deep homeschooling things. My family breathes a sigh of relief as it saves them skimming over those entries. 😉 That site is also a joint project with Ron, so expect to hear just as much from him – over there.

There is (and will be) commentary on news stories, helpful and informative articles, more tutorials, podcasts, and a forum. So tell all your friends! Suggestions are welcome.

Also, Sarah and Meaghan have started a music review blog.

Resources for Kindergarten – an unschooling perspective

I made a list last year for what we would be doing with Emma and preschool. So far so good, the only thing I added to all that was:

Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy lessons
Idea Book for Cuisinaire Rods at the Primary Level

Please note: we use these books as resources, not following them exactly, and by Emma’s lead.

There is also an awareness of teachable moments, and keen observations of the kinds of conclusions Emma is making, and what sort of concepts are forming and being explored.

For an interesting comparison, see Carol’s list of resources that she uses for preschool. Also read her note on her schedules here. We both think it’s really cool how our families are free to teach our children how we want, without having to do the same things in each of our homes.

After all, we wouldn’t even follow the same menu plan for both of our houses, why would we teach our children exactly the same things in the same way?