Monday, March 29, 2010

What Kerry Won't Be Doing

We were eating lunch at a new restaurant today and there was a television near our table which caught our attention.

It was a show about the daredevils who do motorcycle stunt jumping. We couldn't hear any sound, but we watched some amazing scenes of men going off of ramps, doing flips with the motorcycle in mid-air, standing on their seats while going of a ramp and doing a flip in mid air, etc.

Katie looked at Kerry (who does not own a motorcycle) and said in horror, "Daddy! Don't you ever do that! Even during your mid-life crisis!"

"The Onion"

If you haven't heard of "The Onion" it's an on-line satirical news source. They make up stories - sort of like the National Enquirer, except The Onion doesn't pretend their stories are real. You are supposed to know when you read something from The Onion, that it's fake.

Anyway, they did a great article about parents choosing to "school-home" their children. You can read the full article here. But for just an excerpt, here is my favorite part:

"Parents who have decided to school-home their children have echoed many of Miller's concerns. Most said that an alarming number of legal guardians such as themselves lack the most basic common sense required to give children the type of instruction they need during crucial developmental years.

"It's really a matter of who has more experience in dealing with my child," Cincinnati- resident Kevin Dufrense said of his decision to have his 10-year-old son Jake, who suffers from ADHD and dyslexia, school-homed. "These teachers are dealing with upwards of 40 students in their classrooms at a time, so obviously they know a lot more about children than someone like me, who only has one son and doesn't know where he is half the time anyway."

"Simply put, it's not the job of parents to raise these kids," Dufrense added.

Though school-homing has proven to be an ideal solution for millions of uninvolved parents, increasingly overburdened public schools have recently led to a steady upswing in the number of students being prison-homed."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Black Pearl Comes To Oahu

Okay, so........they are getting ready to film a fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

And they are filming parts of it on Oahu.

And they brought the ship "The Black Pearl" to Oahu to get ready for filming.

And of course every news channel and newspaper had a story showing "The Black Pearl" arriving in Oahu.

And they all mentioned that it's a secret. They don't want people to know it's here.

Because then, people would be swarming down there to take pictures of it.

So, of course we went down to see it and take pictures of it.

They tried to disguise it by putting it behind a chain link fence and setting up a small tent in front of it. But we recognized it anyway.

We're smart like that.

Yes, that's a friend of ours behind us. Clearly we were unaware of her immediate presence.
My friend Kathleen tried to go see "The Black Pearl" today but they had moved it farther away and posted a guard to keep people from taking pictures.

Since this is a big secret, I'm sharing this with you, and no one else.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stories of Why I Homeschool Here

Hawaii's public school system is very low on the scale nationally. Unfortunately, with the economy in such sad shape, the state also had to cut the school year by 17 days this year meaning even less time in the classroom. Even more unfortunately, violence and drug use are prevalent in both the high schools and middle schools.

Here are some of the (many) stories I have heard involving the school systems since we moved here:

My friend Susan had her kids in public school before she moved here. When she went to withdraw her kids from school, she told the teachers they were moving to Hawaii and both of her children's teachers told her, "Homeschool if you can. Don't put your children in the schools there." Both of these public school teachers said that they cringe when they hear they have a student transferring in from Hawaii because they are lucky if the student is "only" a year behind.

A neighbor down the street pulled her child out and started homeschooling when she realized that whenever her friends moved back to the mainland she would hear from them that the school system in whichever state they had moved to wanted to hold their kids back a year after giving them a placement test.

I listened to two twelve year old girls who attend the middle school here talk about their school one day. They mentioned that there is a fight pretty much every day and it's usually between girls. One girl said she didn't really like to cuss, but that anyone who wouldn't "act tough and cuss a lot" would be picked on mercilessly.

I know two moms who go to my church who are substitute teachers. One of them is a retired drill sergeant. They both refuse to teach at the middle school on post. Did I mention that one of them is a retired drill sergeant?

I met one of Kerry's co-workers recently who's kids went to the local high school off post for six months. After that, he sent his wife and kids back to the mainland to their last duty station because his kids were being threatened, ostracized, and offered drugs on such a regular basis. He is finishing out his tour of duty here without his family in order to keep his kids safe and properly educated.

I have one neighbor who has three kids in school here. She says she supplements at home to make sure her kids are learning everything really well and have a solid education. But if she is only making sure they have a full grasp what they are covering at the school, they will still be behind the curve when they go back to the mainland. If she is teaching them concepts they would be learning if they were on the mainland, then they will be sitting in school each day listening to lessons they already learned at home, so what's the point of being in school?

Another mom told me recently, "Parents who say they are in a good school district here are fooling themselves. There aren't any." If you are at the top of a pile of dog poo, you may be better off that the folks at the bottom of the pile, but it's still just a crappy place to be.

Now, I am a die-hard homeschooler. But I know it isn't for everyone. Not everyone is able to teach their kids and not everyone should. But I am baffled that people would rather risk their child's education and safety than put them in a private school or at least give homeschooling a try.

My kids come home from spending time with other kids and listening to their stories of what went on at school that day and they thank me.

I tell them, "You're very welcome."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ben Likes To Argue

Ben saw a message board on Facebook which had posts from people arguing about where our oxygen comes from.

There was one guy saying, "We need to stop worrying about deforestation and start worrying about human lives."

This college-age girl replied, "What the %#@ is wrong with you???? That's where we get all our %$&@ air, you @&%#$ !! We're all going to die because of idiots like you who don't care about %&$#@ nature!!!" (I added the symbols myself, her original use of words was quite colorful.)

Ben replied to her, "Actually, we get 70% to 80% of our air from the algae in the ocean and even if every single tree on the planet were chopped down we would have plenty of air to go around. Next time you cuss someone out for being stupid, make sure it isn't you."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Swamp Romp

This is the story of the Swamp Romp from Ben's point of view:

A few weeks ago, we went on the Swamp Romp, which was a 5-mile run through it comes....a swamp!!!! We were organized into groups of six, with three guys, and three girls in each group. We had a teen team, and adult team. I was (obviously) on the teen team, which consisted of me, Nate, Christoffer, Megan, Jenna, and Karese. The adult team had some of our parents, one of our youth leaders, and a marine named BJ (P.S. if you play against BJ in ultimate frisbee, you WILL lose!). Chris and I got to the starting area at about 4:00 to sign up our team, Nate, Megan, and Jenna came about an hour later, and Karese came at 7:30. We made Karese spell out "Late" on her shirt with duct tape as punishment.

This is a "before" photo.

This is "after".

We did all kinds of things on the run, like running across the beach.

Trotting past a creek (or "crick" as I prefer to call them).

Running through lots and lots of mud!

Did I mention lots of mud?

DID I ?!?!?!

There were a few random obstacles put in our way.

We crossed a lake at one point.

And climbed some walls.

We were so muddy when we were done, that we had to sit in trash bags, for the sake of the car.
Or at least I did anyway...

This is the picture of our teen team right as we finished, and, in my opinion, the best picture of them all!!!

Well, that's a short story about my Swamp Romp experience. Hope Y'all enjoyed it!

At The Allergy Clinic

Emily had to go see the allergist today. Her eczema has flared and we've been trying to find out if she has a food allergy which might be at the root of it.

They had to write all over her back with a marker and prick her skin by each number.

Her skin welted up by the marks of things she was allergic to.

The final result: mold, mites, milk, cats and dogs.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"The Winged Wonder" and "Waffles"

We were at a friend's house when Katie came running in from their back yard. "Come look! Come look!"

She had found three butterfly chrysalis' dangling on their swing set.

We actually got to take two of them home with us. We used string to tie them to a pencil and then let them dangle down inside a plastic jar. I could have stared at those things all day - and darn near did. They were fascinating to look at. They were so green and shiny they looked as if they were made out of plastic. And near the top it looked like it had been neatly sewn shut with metallic gold thread. Near the bottom were five evenly spaced dots of the same metallic gold. Both chrysalises' looked exactly alike so it was no accident. It's amazing to know that ordinary caterpillars can create such perfect cocoons. I would love to have been there when God was creating this creature. The concept of a slinky little worm, who forms a shiny green home (and where did the metallic gold stitches come from?) and then emerges with amazingly patterned wings - it would have been fun to see that creation process.

I also would like to have seen how the idea for the giraffe came about, but that's another story.

The chrysalises suffered a terrible accident in their first week at our home. Emily was walking through the kitchen and her sleeve caught the jar and knocked them to the floor. The poor little things bounced across the tile floor like marbles. We quickly scooped it all up and set it to rights, but I warned everyone that the jolt might have killed one or both of them.

A few days later, one chrysalis started to darken. We could see the pattern of it's wings through the skin of the cocoon. FASCINATING! We could hardly wait for it to hatch!

Then, while the kids and I were out one day Kerry called and said, " of the butterflies hatched."

Darn! We missed it!
We had a beautiful Monarch butterfly in the jar when we got home. He was fun to watch, but we knew we had to let him go.

We rounded up the other homeschooling family on our street and released him. Katie named him "The Winged Wonder" and got quite attached to him in the short time he lived with us. He actually crawled on to her finger at one point and she got to hold her baby before sending him off tearfully to college......uh, I mean before sending him off into the wild.

Look at those wings!!! Aren't they amazing??

Unfortunately, the other chrysalis did not seem to fare so well. It stayed green and we never saw the wings through the shell. We figured the crash to the floor must have been too much for it.

Then one day, we came home and much to our surprise...........

.......discovered that both cocoons were now empty shells.

But there was no butterfly.

I warned everyone to keep an eye out. Apparently we had a rogue butterfly somewhere in the house.
"Unless Ringo ate it," said Katie. Yikes! I hadn't thought of that. Ringo does like to chase and eat anything bug-like. If the butterfly had fluttered down low at any point, it would have been an easy snack.

We thoroughly searched the house and found no trace of a butterfly, hung our heads in sorrow, and forgot about it.

A few nights later, I was typing away on the computer after the kids were in bed when a shadow swooped over me.

I actually ducked.

For a moment I thought there was a bird in the house. It was a huge shadow. Turns out it was our little butterfly buddy which Katie had christened, "Waffles". I got everyone up and we excitedly tried to catch little Waffles but he decided to perch way up high where we couldn't reach him.

We quickly got fake flowers from Katie's room and ran around holding them up in the air, begging Waffles to land on them.

Amazingly, he did decide to land on them despite all the screaming, shrieking and laughing going on around him.

We trotted him outside and deposited him in the bushes where we hope he or The Winged Wonder will create new little caterpillars and we can start the whole process over again.

This time with a lid on the jar.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Word From The Lord

I received a message from Jesus yesterday at church. Here's how it came to me:

I was working with the two and three year old children during Sunday School. Some of them have a really hard time sharing. It's a hard concept for kids that age. They don't like to share and they don't like to wait.

One little girl in particular kept taking toys from other kids. Each time I would make her return what she had taken and I would have a little talk with her. "Jesus likes for us to be kind. He wants us to share and take turns."

(Had this been one of my kids, I wouldn't have been nearly so nice. I probably would have smacked someone and possibly snarled at them.)

But these are not my kids, and we are at church, so I have to be nice.

Then, while we were all playing with Play-doh, this same little girl actually took a toy out of my hands. I had another little talk with her about how if she had asked me for the toy, I would gladly have shared it with her - "Jesus likes for us to share" - but that she couldn't just take a toy away from someone when they were using it. She never even looked at me. I might have been talking to myself for all she cared.

So I waited a minute, then reached out and took the toy back.

She was furious. "Hey!" she yelled at me. "Give that back!"

"It doesn't feel good to have someone take a toy from you does it?" I asked gently.

She replied, "Jesus thinks you need a time-out!"