A New Truck

Today at lunch my youngest son told his grandfather that he should buy a new truck. We need one in the family, he told him.

My dad showed up this afternoon at our house in a brand new white Ford F150. It's an automatic rather than a standard, since my mother can no longer drive a standard.

We know he didn't buy it today, though, because it has vanity plates on it with his last name.

The truck lists for $21K. He bought it for $13K. That sounds like a good deal to me. And it smells like new car.

Moms' questions

These are the questions the homeschooling mothers had. Do any of you relate to them?

Concern: My child WON'T write (cries if I ask him/her to write only a few sentences–and I've even told them what to write about; or, s/he won't make the deadlines I set; or, says s/he HATES writing, etc.)

Concern: My child's writing is TERRIBLE. (e.g., A parent isn't able to see beyond errors in conventions to find anything noteworthy about the idea the student had, or what s/he was trying to convey; but sometimes the content isn't really there either & parent doesn't feel equipped to draw the information out of the student.)

Concern: How do I evaluate writing? Many parents feel they are only qualified to correct mechanical conventions, and are completely lost when it comes to evaluating content. (Some know they must correct grammatical and spelling errors, but find when they do the end result is often a student who feels “I'm not any good at writing.”)

Concern: A few times each year, I talk with a parent who has a child that writes enthusiastically, and she wants to know how to support her child's interest. (I've noticed in a few cases the child does write A LOT, but the writing doesn't really go anywhere. The parent is afraid that in correcting the student, s/he will become discouraged and stop writing altogether. They begin to wonder, “Can a parent really teach writing at home?)

Concern: In addition to wanting to know how to tell if a child is performing at grade level, many want to know what the “average” student should be learning to do from one level to the next–for example, when is it “normal” to introduce writing paragraphs, and how long should it take a student to master this? What about essays? Reports? “Works cited” essays and MLA-style reports? What should a middle schooler be learning in order to prepare for high school, or a high schooler to prepare for college? What is a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader capable of doing? What kind of writing should early elementary students be working on (and how much time per day)?

They're such monumental concerns when you are a homeschooling mom.

Fun

Today I had fun. You probably wouldn't call it fun, but I would. I enjoyed it immensely. I gave a talk. I spoke in public. To a group of people. Ones I didn't know.

I've been told that the fear of public speaking is the number one fear in America. Obviously it's not my number one fear.

Four weeks ago I got an email from a mom who had sat in on one of my writing classes. She needed someone to speak to homeschooling moms about teaching writing. She asked if I would do it. I said yes. I spent about five hours working on what I wanted to cover. (I still missed a point that I'd written down.) I typed it all out. I did research by going through old files. I organized my information based on the questions the moms had given her.

Tonight I went. I didn't know what to expect. I think in the three years I've been here, I may have been at one of those meetings. At 7:30 there were about ten people there. That's fine with me. I know how to speak to ten people. I'm used to that.

When I got up to talk, about 7:45, the room was full. Probably there were 100 people there. Some of them have been homeschooling for years. It was a bit intimidating, but I just talked.

When I finished talking I asked for questions. I got some questions and some very useful comments. (One mom says, “It's time for bed. But you can stay up writing for half an hour if you would prefer.” Of course the child chooses to write.)

At 8:50 I finished up. Several people came to talk to me afterwards, to share their experiences, to ask questions, to say thanks. I had fun.

I asked Deanne if I'd done what she wanted. She said yes. So hopefully we're all satisfied.

Body for Life

That's what I'm going for. A body for life. A healthy body I can live with. A healthy brain that works.

Body for Life has the plan that works best for me. It's a life long doable plan. I need that. I don't just need a weight loss plan, though it's that. I don't just need an exercise plan, though it's that. I need something that I can do for the rest of my life and feel good about doing it.

If you go read the success stories, some of them are incredibly inspiring. I need that–inspiration. But what I need more than that is good health. I have problems which are exaserbated by being overweight. They are better now, because I have lost forty pounds. But they're even better when I am actually doing BFL and working out regularly and eating right.

I haven't lost any weight so far this week. That's okay. I'm going for the long haul. What made me give it up was that I hadn't lost any weight for four months. But after being off it, even doing other things, I didn't lose the weight I wanted and my health got worse. I need the exercise and the protein and the vitamins. So I'm on it regardless.

Today is day four. I didn't exercise today. My left knee is hurting. But I can exercise tomorrow and make it up. As long as I don't go too many days without working out, I can skip a day here and there. It's not a 7 day a week exercise plan.

I do want to lose weight. I'd like my size 10s to be lose again. But most of all I want to be healthy.

What's your real age?

I read a blog about taking this test at Real Age that tells you how old you are based on your medical history, your family history, your activities, your friends, etc.

In real life I am 41.5 years old. According to them, I'm actually 36.9. At last I get to be the younger woman!

Some things that effected my “age” included:

I always wear a seat belt and don't drink and drive.

My parents are still married to each other and have been all my life.

My folks are still alive and “well.”

I eat fish more than once a week.

I take a multi vitamin daily.

I get seven hours of sleep a night.

I weight lift and do cardiovascular activities.

It was interesting. Makes you think about your lifestyle in different ways.

For instance, they asked if I have family and friends (including spouse and kids) that I see once a month or more. Yep. Sister, nephew, and parents across town. Husband and kids in the house. That's nine right there. Add one other person in that I know and that puts me at the max.

I've felt very lonely here because I don't have two or three close friends that I see every week. Apparently I've been wanting way more social interaction than the average American gets.

BFL day three

Ever overdo it on exercise and do so much you're sick? That was my husband today. I didn't get up and ride this morning. My excuse was that he was sick.

I did however do my weights. Lifted the same amount but later in the day and it felt a lot heavier.

I ate right all day, too. Even when I was tempted not to. But I didn't eat quite enough meals. You're supposed to have 6. I never get that many. It's too much for a woman, anyway. But today I only got four. I need to work on that more. MW are harder because I have stuff to do so much of the day.

BFL day two

I'm on day 2 of a 12 week challenge. I've been eating well and I rode my bike both days. I lifted yesterday. Now I am blogging to avoid grading papers. But that won't last.

No end in sight

I'm teaching school and, if you read my blog regularly, you know that I feel like I am drowning in work. Grading and preparing are taking multiple hours every day. But it isn't only teaching that is overwhelming me.

My sixth grader is taking a middle school history class. He has more work in that class than I remember ever having for a class. There's reading, which is less than a college course. Then there's answering questions. Those take about as long as my high school class's questions. Then there's the timeline. That wouldn't be so long if he wrote faster, but it takes about an hour each time there is an assignment. And that's assuming he's excited about doing it. Then there's the short info search and paragraph he has to write about one thing on each timeline. Also the art he has to figure out and draw for each paragraph. Then there's the five source research report he has to do on a historical American. He also has to do an Audio or video presentation with that. In addition there is a book report, requiring a historical fictional novel to be read and reported on.

Maybe we've just had it too easy before, but this seems like a lot of work.

Health by the numbers

My husband wanted to get his blood pressure taken. So we went to Walmart. I mean, they have a machine in the pharmacy and we needed groceries anyway, so why not?

Since he got his taken, I had to do mine. (Probably just to say that mine was better.) I always have low blood pressure. Mine was 112/72. My pulse was 69, which isn't that great, but isn't terribly high either.

Measured this morning, but those numbers are in the bathroom and since hubby's asleep right now, I think I'll wait to go digging around for those. I may post them tomorrow.

I started lifting again today. Didn't do it the BFL way. I did upper body, but I lifted 25x, 20x, and 15x. The weights I used were 5, 10, and 15 pounds. It seems to take forever to do the six sets BFL wants, but I will probably move back to that in a week or so.

I rode my bike this morning and will do so again tomorrow morning. I can tell I am a bit out of shape; in just these six months off BFL I've gone to 2/3s of my ride in a little less than the same amount of time. I used to ride to the docks and back in 45 minutes. Now I ride to the lake, but not the docks, and it takes me about 40 minutes both ways.

Uniqueness of Christianity

This book my sister is reading says there is nothing unique in Christianity. I disagree.

First, there is the concept of grace. Christianity is the only religion which teaches that God's mercy and grace is what saves you. Buddhism is good works and meditation. Hinduism is good works throughout multiple lives. Animists believe there is no life after this so where would you get grace from? Even Judaism, from which Christianity sprang, calls for sacrifices made for forgiveness.

Second, Christianity is the only religion in which one person, who did not deserve it, accepted death in order to atone for other's sins. Christ died for us. He didn't die for himself. He didn't die “for his faith.” He died for us.

Once, Twice, Copying?

If two disparate cultures, half a world and a full millenium separated, come up with the same idea, does this mean they were copying each other? No. It certainly doesn't mean the older culture copied the younger culture.

My sister is reading a book against Christianity. One of the points it made is that the concept behind communion, eating God, was borrowed from the Aztecs. How could Christians have borrowed something from a culture that didn't exist? It couldn't have. That's a totally fallacious argument.

It pointed to things in other cultures that are similar to Christianity and said that Christianity “borrowed” those. The use of iron came up at the same time in different places. Which one borrowed from the other? And if the use of iron could be discovered separately in disparate places, why couldn't symbols of Christianity?

The book is arguing against the symbols Christians use.

Someone else used disks around heads to tell you the person depicted was special. So what? That doesn't disprove Christianity. Even if they did borrow the idea from the Egyptians, haloes around saints' heads is NOT in the Bible. There are no pictures in any of the earliest manuscripts. That was art and added later.

The Romans had a midwinter festival which the Christian church took and turned into the Christmas festival, celebrating the birth of Christ. So what? There's nothing in the Bible that says when Jesus was born. So let's pick a random day. We have all these pagan converts who are used to a midwinter celebration and I'd like something fun to do then, too, so we pick the middle of winter. No one in all of Christendom has ever said that December 25 was Christ's actual birthdate. (At least not as far as I know and certainly no one now should.)

The book also argues that the canonization of the saints in the Catholic church comes from an Egyptian religious ceremony. First, how do they know? Does anyone know who started the canonization process and what information was in their heads and their libraries? No. Second, even if they did, so what? The Catholic church is not the Bible and the Bible doesn't say anything about canonization of the saints.

Body for Life

Last March I started working out and eating right. I followed Body-for-Life (BFL) for almost a year. But the last four months, I made no visible progress. I was frustrated. So I quit.

I didn't quit cold turkey. I started doing Physique Transformation. Then when that was almost impossible to keep up with, since I need a bit more flexibility in my foods, I went to Atkins. Neither did much for me.

In the last month I have half-heartedly started BFL twice. But today I am doing it for real.

I need the energy and the stamina I had when I was on BFL before. Even the clarity of my thought is lowered when I'm not on it. So I am going back. It's a full-time commitment for health, not weight loss.

I hope to lose the 7 pounds I've gained on Atkins and while goofing off. But other than that, I am not really expecting to change my weight. But to maintain at a lose size 10 is good. It's definitely better than gaining weight.

School, school, school…

It's bad when school is the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think of at night. I realized at midnight last night that I had forgotten to do something for my class that met this morning. I panicked. Midnight is not a good time to realize you should have done something for a Saturday class.

This afternoon I was napping, after my late night start I woke up at 6:30 this morning. I got up and thought, “I haven't been thinking about school. I must have been asleep.”

I figure eventually I will quit thinking about it. I'll be so sick of it or so used to it that it just becomes a blur, but right now I'm not there.

To Cut or Not to Cut

The insurance companies won't take me unless I've had a hysterectomy because I have fibroid tumors. I have insurance now, but it's running US$1200/month. Can't afford that for long.

The doctor said I don't need the hysterectomy, but it's one option.

I signed up for it, at Christmastime. However, my husband thinks I'm crazy to have surgery for insurance. (That does remind me of dystopian universes of the future.) And I'm worried about the recovery period.

Anyone out there had one recently? I'm wondering about recovery and my sanity.

Who are you? How do you know?

I’ve always been into navel gazing. I took every test anyone offered me. I know my IQ, my Myers-Briggs personality, etc. Just this week my husband took a day off work to think about who he is and where he’s going. I thought, AWK! I haven’t done that in ages. I used to have very specific goals.

When I was six I decided I would go to my alma mater for college. (If you check out the site, don’t let the pictures fool you. All trees on campus were planted. Most forty+ years ago in exchange for tuition. There are not very many.)

When I was nine I decided I would go to Purdue to get my PhD. I really didn’t know anything about Purdue at the time, except that it existed. When I went to get my PhD in rhetoric there, it was one of the two best programs in the nation–and the other one was way too technical for me. Since the rhetoric department didn’t even exist when I was nine, how did this work out? God. Otherwise, I haven’t got a clue.

After I got out of high school, I wanted to teach college and own my house. I’ve done both of those several different places.

Eventually I want to go back to full time teaching of college.

But right now I am homeschooling and teaching high school homeschoolers and teaching college and that is more than anyone with a working brain ought to agree to do.

I tried to think of new goals. But really, I don’t have many. Do well in teaching this year. Help my youngest do well in history. Help my oldest increase his writing skills.

I have a few old goals I still haven’t met that I am renewing. Getting fit and staying that way. Wearing a size 10 comfortably. (I did meet this but am five pounds off it now.) Getting out of debt. Finish revising my novel and send it out.

I just don’t have any new and improved really cool things I want to do.

Multiple Personalities: One European Poet

Okay, this is strange. According to >this post, from a reliable blog, Pessoa, a Portuguese poet, also wrote and published under several other names. These were not pseudonyms. He actually created lives, histories, and personalities for them. Or they created them for him, depending on whose view you take. This one man wrote, published, and publicized at least four different European authors. They sometimes had critical conversations in journals and magazines together. One criticized Pessoa's own work. Two admitted that their work was influenced by a third's. They had lives that were chronicled in public newspapers and magazines. But they were all just one guy.

Maybe we shouldn't try to cure multiple personalities. Maybe they'll win a Nobel or Pulitzer one of these days if we leave them alone.

Apparently it's true. I found other sites about the guy. Of course, they don't call his stuff “multiple personality disorder.” They call it heteronyms.

September 11

I didn't know what to say, but I don't want to leave it unacknowledged. My son reminds me of the commercial which says “terrorists wanted to change America. They succeeded.” And every house is flying an American flag. We must, he says, not let them win.

There are many ways to let them win. One, I suppose, would be to let the day pass without remembrance.

Public school teachers in this area wore red, white, and blue in honor of Patriots' Day. My son is glad for that moniker. I know it was already used in Massachusetts, but it's a good name. I like it.

My father was supposed to fly home from NC today. My sister insisted he shouldn't. He's flying home tomorrow. My husband says my sister has let the terrorists win.

Friends of mine from NC were flying today. Flying to China to pick up their new daughter. They haven't let the terrorists keep them out of the sky or away from their little girl.

God, please bless America.

How Rich are you?

I think about money a lot. I used to be obsessed with it, but I'm better than that now. However, I found a web news article that I was very interested in. Wired carried an article about a website that will tell you how rich you are.

If you want to skip the history of the website and go straight to the calculations, go here.

I put in my annual income. I thought it was pretty paltry, but it turns out that I make almost $10/hour and am in the top 11% of the world's richest. When I put in our household's combined annual income (for next year, since hubby got a raise), we're in the top .5%. It's amazing how poor other people are and how rich we are.

It's easy to see that on a program and hard to see it when you look at what other people have (always the richer ones) and what you have. I rarely compare myself to my friends who have less money. I usually look at the people who have more. Unless my friends have been out of work and are living on their retirement or their savings. Then I think, “Wow. We'd be on the streets in a few months, and they're still making it two years later!”

One track mind

My husband used to say that about me and my sex drive. These days, he's probably thinking it about my teaching. I teach five classes a week on a college schedule. (Three hours a week.) I figure I spend two hours outside of class working for every one I spend in class. That's only 45 hours. But when you add in my kids' homeschooling, it's getting up closer to 70.

All I do is teach, grade papers, and sleep. And not as much of the latter as I used to.

I'm sure it will settle down eventually, but I am not even interested in sex these days. Scary thought.

What is sexy?

Read a blog comment on Reactuate about what is sexy. He's trying to define what guys think is sexy. He came up with the idea that good looking woman + high respect toward the guy= sexy.

I want to talk about what girls find sexy. Since I am a girl, I think I can address this issue. Looks are good. However, like guys who prefer different types, women also have different preferences. My husband is a tall skinny guy with light brown hair. He's not the kind of guy I automatically think is sexy. My looks preference is for darker skin, black hair, and dark eyes. But just because a guy looks gorgeous, doesn't mean I find him sexy. I think a lot of it relates to how they act, too. The most gorgeous guy on the planet who smokes is not sexy to me. I hate smoking. Or if he's rude. Or if he disses his lady.

Looks are not the only determiner of sexy for women. I like nice biceps and tight rounded butts, but I've known plenty of people without those who I found sexy. If he talks to me, maybe flirts, if he is polite, if he seems genuinely interested in me… All those things are sexy. If he works hard at being a loving husband and/or father, I find that sexy. In the old days (back when I was single), the way he touched me or invaded my space also made a determination on sexy.

I found a series of posts attempting to define sexy. It mentions looks and attitude.

A funny site about University of Florida's sexiest male teachers. There were female teachers nominated, but they declined the honor. I guess they didn't want to have info about them on the net? Or maybe they didn't want to feed into the whole stereotype thing?

I think it's a sales place, but this site talks about sexy clothes and sexy being having confidence in yourself.

I found a couple of other post links, that mostly had nothing to say. One did say “confidence without having a superior attitude appreciating everything, not just the exterior laugh lines.”

An interesting site about what Ethiopian males do to try to look attractive and one person's response to that list.

This article is about how more and more older women are getting younger guys. (I already knew that. I'm 3 years older than hubby.) But it also defines sexy in the article, which is why it popped up when I googled “define sexy.” This article says it's looking like they can still have healthy kids. Hmmm. Think I am beyond that now.