Author Archives: mbonebrake

GISHWHES 2014 – Dorothy’s Wanderlust Kills It!

Some of you probably thought the past week’s oddball Facebook posts were more of the same. Others knew we were working on the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. We had an amazing team and a lot of fun, though I think we are all exhausted from furiously working nearly every day and night this week to complete as many items as possible. It’s all good, though, because it raises money and awareness for Random Acts, a charity focused on making positive changes in the world through one random act of kindness at a time.

The hunt is now over and we can finally share our submissions publicly. Wish us luck – the winning team goes to Croatia!

1. I’m certain the elderly love mud wrestling, but they must do it in private because I never see it! Let’s fix this. Catch your grandparents or great grandparents in a mud-wrestling match. 61 Points.
1

3.  It’s “me time.” Spoil, pamper and be decadent to yourself like you never have before. Oh, and P.S., you’re dressed as a Stormtrooper. 48 points.
3

4. Clearly your bicycle is underwhelming you with its current performance. Convert your bicycle into a warp-speed spacecraft. Ride it. 41 points.

5. You and your four friends are a five-headed monster with all of your heads poking out of one collar of a giant shirt. Now do yard work. 32 points.5

6. As GISHWHES certainly isn’t all about dog-eat-dog competition, find someone on another GISHWHES team and surprise them with an act of thoughtful generosity. Make us tear up. We must see the team name or Username of the individual you are helping. 66 points.chewyredacted

9. Assemble a puzzle with a minimum of 50 pieces in one sitting. The video must show the box with more than 50 pieces and then you putting the puzzle together. For ease of assembly you must be wearing wool mittens or gloves throughout the assembly of the puzzle. 28 points.

13. Time flies like a Wooster gone wild. There’s someone in your life – an older family member or an older friend – that will someday be gone. There’s something you used to do with them that you enjoyed or have been meaning to do with them, but never have. Do it now, before it’s too late. 31 points.

14. File a Freedom of Information Act request for any available government files on your parents. 19 points.
14 - FOIAredacted

17. You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala. Disaster strikes! Your outfit is ruined! Dress yourself in an outfit fit for such an evening, using only items found in your bathroom. 49 points.
17

20. Based on the Internet, which is always super reliable and never wrong, each year almost 100,000 people are saved by out-of-hospital CPR in the US alone… from everything from choking on food to heart attacks. Get an online or offline CPR certification. It only takes an hour or two to do it online (Internet search for “online CPR certification”); however, the Interwebs say it’s more thorough if you go into an actual class (among many other organizations, the Red Cross and YMCA’s host classes). Your choice. Submit an image of you holding up your Certificate. Bonus points if you do it with a friend. 80 points.
20-erikacpr

29 If you’re like me, you’re sick of the go-to barista foam-art. If I have to sip at another latte adorned with a fern or clover shape, I’m going to cry. Let’s see the Elopus professionally recreated in the foam of a café’s hot drink. 24 points.
29-elopus

34. Well done! You’ve just managed to catch a rare “Popcorn Child Monster” on camera. 27 points.
Item 34

35. Suck blood from a doughnut. 10 points.
35

37. “When I grow up, I want to be…” Have a child dress up as what they want to be when they grow up (lawyer, doctor, ballerina, dragon-slayer, etc.). Then stage the photo in the environment they would be working in. 61 points.
Item 37

51. Create the next hip facial hair look or hipster accessory. 14 points.
51

58. Register to be a bone marrow donor: you could save a child’s life or someone’s mom’s life. As a sign of solidarity on this item, I (Misha) pledge to register to be a bone-marrow donor myself during the week of the hunt. This item requires you filling out a form, receiving a “cheek swab test” in the mail, and mailing it back in. The registration process cannot be completed in just one week, but if you show us the photo of your online registration confirmation or email, you will qualify for points on this item. ONLY do this item if you’re serious about going through with the whole process. There are certain requirements, which you must meet (for example, if you are too overweight or have certain health or psychological issues, you cannot be a donor). Also, before proceeding, you should know that the process is much more involved than donating blood. So, if you choose to do this item, don’t lie about your weight, health or willingness to follow through. If, in the future, you do get selected as a donor match (a very very very slim chance – on average less than 1/2 of 1%), and you turn it down, you will be incurring terrible karma and may be harming someone and their family. Even though we consider this one of the more valuable items on the list we are assigning a low point value to it. Really this item is not about points, it’s about trying to help a stranger. We need to see a screenshot of your application. Each application will be worth 3 points. If you edit several screenshots into one image of you and your teammate’s applications, we will grant 3 points for each application for up to 10 applications making this item worth between 3 and 30 points.
58 - marrow registryredacted

62. Office art. The boss is away. Take this treasured time to create a beautiful, museum-worthy sculpture in your cubicle comprised entirely of company office supplies. If the artist in you feels it is imperative to use a coworker as a base or as an integral part of the piece of work, go ahead and indulge. The world deserves it.62-sculpture

64. Pose for a multigenerational, gender-swapping Sears-style family portrait. Take it seriously. 27 points.
64

68. IMAGE (two images edited side-by-side). In Washington State, USA there is a woman whose legal name is “Life Has Meaning.” Another woman has legally renamed herself, “Table.” Find someone whose name is a noun, verb or a phrase, and take a photo with him or her and his or her driver’s license with everything blacked out except for his or her name. 28 points.

69. IMAGE (one image with 15 images edited into it). An image of each of the members of your team in Brady-Bunch style grid format. Photos should be mug-shot style with each team member holding a black and white sign stating their city and country of residence. 72 points.
69-bradybunchmugshots

70. You know how at Starbucks they ask your name and write it on the cup so that when your latte is done, they can say, “Misha, skinny decaf grande latte – extra foam, extra hot, lightly sweet!” When they ask for your name, give the most ridiculous name you can think of when you order your Starbucks beverage. The video is of the barrista announcing your drink and your absurd name. 40 points.

72. Smoke and mirrors. Awe us. 17 points.
#72

78. Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus. 59 points.
78

79.  Visit an orphanage, a children’s hospital or a juvenile detention center dressed as Cookie Monster and distribute cookies to the children living there. 68 points.

82. As you know, William Shatner loves horses and clocks. Modify a cuckoo clock so that when the hour strikes, instead of a bird appearing, a tiny Captain Kirk on a horse pops out. 36 points. 

83. The writers and producers of the TV series, “Supernatural”, sometimes pretend they don’t like the limelight. Of course this is false-modesty. Immortalize one of them with a stately portrait done in sidewalk chalk art. 18 points.
Item 83

84. Send a military care package. One image is the box with all the items in it; the other image is you delivering it to the post office. 27 points.84

90. Gingerbread Villages are always so cute and quaint. Make a gingerbread village that shows urban blight: needle exchanges, prostitution, heavy police presence, etc. 97 points.90 (Gummi Bear Mob Hit)

94. Make a tiny adorable mouse from boogers. Must be constructed from real, bonafide boogers. 29 points.
94

98. Act/dress like a mannequin, shrub or a trashcan in a shopping center. Suddenly come to life and scare a passing consumer by shouting, “GISHWHES!” 56 points.

100. Provide visual evidence that unicorns really do fart rainbows. No photoshopping! 49 points.
item 100

101. Submit a TRUE story (less than 50 words) of something nice a stranger did for you to https://podio.com/webforms/8915166/658998. Screenshot the form preview before you submit. 16 points.
101storyredacted

105. You’ve heard of Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle-down Economics”? The idea is that when rich people get richer, they spend more money doing things like getting their nails done and having their Porsches waxed, and that in turn creates more jobs for pedicurists and car washers and other lower income families. Show us what trickle-down ice-cream-onomics looks like: One person on top, messily eating an enormous, melting Sunday, with two people on the floor below, trying to catch the drippings in their mouths as they fall. This needs to be a real mess. 38 points.
105

108. Get NASA (@NASA), the CIA (@CIA), or the official twitter feed of another nation or any country’s large federal agency to show their “fun side” in a twitter reply to you that mentions your twitter handle and #GISHWHES. 53 points.108

109. Obviously, everyone’s favorite Captain of the USS Enterprise was Jean-Luc Picard. Create a heroic Captain Picard using condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, etc.) for paint. 19 points.109

111. There is a retirement home in Baltimore, MD called Rolland Park Place. My grandmother lives there. Bring flowers, chocolate or funny homemade or store-bought cards for some of the residents. Since this is a bit nepotistic, if Rolland Park Place is out-of-the-way for you, do the same at another retirement home. You must interact with the residents. 68 points.

118. More Youtube videos should be close-captioned. Using YouTube’s close-captioning, close-caption one of the videos you submitted for another item. It must have significant dialogue in it. 26 points.

119. “Jump the shark”. You will be penalized if you are bitten or eaten by a shark, so plan accordingly. (Liberal interpretations of this item are encouraged.) 21 points.

120. Feed your demons. You are not permitted to submit an image of you eating dessert. 22 points.
Item #120

121. Challenge a movie theater employee: If you beat them in an arm-wrestling competition, they have to give you a free ticket. If they beat you, you’ll buy one. Either way, you get to see a movie. The images should be of you arm-wrestling across the counter and then you enjoying your movie. 40 points.
121

124. If Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, or Mark Sheppard were part man/part animal, what would it look like and what would its name be? Example: “Jensen Catkles” would be ½ cat, ½ Jensen. Tweet the image with the twitter handle of the actor your hybridizing and the hashtag: #GISHWHESspecieshybridization. You only have to amalgamate one of the aforementioned men. Edit the tweet and photo into one image. 31 points.

125. Sing a harmonized duet rendition of “Eye of the Tiger” with someone standing 30 yards away from you. The camera should be centered between the two singers and we should be able to see both in the frame. 26 points.

130. An angel made from feminine hygiene products. 31 points.

137.  Lots of new Internet shorthand has evolved: “LOL,” “IMHO,” “OMFG” Come up with the meaning for the Internet abbreviation “IDGHP” and use it in social media. If you get it to catch on, extra points. 31 points.
IDGHPredacted

138. It turns out that jellyfish will be big winners in global warming. Create a PSA to help the humans prepare for a future with jellyfish overlords. 23 points.

146. Create an image of the Elopus and Wooster in an epic battle for mascot supremacy. 23 points.

148. GISHWHES rock band album cover including one, some or all of your teammates. 25 points.
148

149. Shoot a potted plant off a fence post with a potato canon. Not a potato gun, a potato canon. 50 points.

152. Make a children’s Pop-Up book about the CROATOAN Virus ending the world. 43 points

154. Sculpt John Barrowman’s head from duct tape. 41 points.154

158. A novel life form. 42 points.
Item 159

166. Time-lapse: Re-enact the 1980’s “Pepsi Challenge” with a twist. Take two human molars and put each in a glass. Pour Pepsi into one glass and coke into the other and allow them to sit for 72 hours. Remove. Which is better for discoloring/dissolving teeth? Coke or Pepsi? 32 points.

167. If GISHWHES were a destination vacation, what would the brochure look like? 167-brochure

170. Trolling for fish is when you drag your line slowly through the water hoping to fool a fish into snatching your bait. On your favorite social media site, create a new user. Your profile avatar will be a photo or drawing of Orlando Jones. Your user name will be evocative of “Orlando Jones.” Now, masquerading as Orlando Jones, troll for–and hook–at least 400 followers. 53 points
.
170

181. The 1980s were great for break-dancing and neon clothing. Remember the “backspin?” Have a junker car do a “backspin” (upside down) on a piece of cardboard set to 1980s rap. The car must have some neon decoration. 167 points.

Balloon Chasers.

So it’s like this. I’m sitting at my computer. Ethan has Zeus out for a pit stop. I hear Zeus barking like a crazed fool and Ethan is vocalizing….something. I can’t tell what it is, but it sounds Very Exciting. If you are the parent of an 8-year-old boy, you recognize “Very Exciting” as a euphemism for “Trouble.” So I headed out.

“Mom! Mom! Look! There’s a hot air balloon! Zeus was barking at them and they are so low they yelled hi to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

(Note the number of exclamation points – that’s the best way for me to convey his excitement.)

“WELL,” I said, “Get the dog in. LAUREL! LAUREL! LAUREL! COME GET THE DOG! WE ARE GOING ON A HOT AIR BALLOON CHASE!”

[Commence total freakout which ended up with Laurel asking if she were invited, me telling her she WAS, Ethan and me waiting in the truck until I yelled, “LAUREL COME ON, COME ON!!!” and Laurel telling me she didn’t want to go after all.]

We left the dogs with Laurel and off we went.

So yeah….if you saw a big truck flying through the back roads of our town at about 20 over the limit, it was NOT US. NOT US. NOT US.

Side story: Our neighbor is a balloon pilot. His rig was in the drive when we left but by the time we got where we were going he was right behind us. Might have had something to do with the SMALL amount of gravel I threw in the yard as I thrust the truck into gear and took off on the road. Anyway, Ethan was all, “MOM! IT IS BILL! IT IS BILL!”

We really thought the balloon was just about to land. My plan was to be all, “YO, my son is in the aerospace 4H project and please oh PLEASE, this is so cool, can he look at your balloon???” Or at least offer some assistance in some form. Like, transportation. Or something.

Alas, it was not to be. Right about the time we screeched to a halt at the top of a hill where our friend S lives with the hastily and incompletely formed idea of crashing her family’s whole night uninvited with “S! GET IN THE TRUCK! WE ARE GOING BALLOON CHASING!!!” we realized the balloon was rising again, and S wasn’t home anyway. Darn!

Oh, well. Maybe next time.

The best part of the whole deal was leaving to come home and having Ethan say, “My heart is beating so fast that I can’t even feel it beating!”

That excitement? Worth every second.

My Big One-Upper of the Week.

I have two Crock Pots, bitches.

TWO.

We’ll leave out the fact that I have two because one was in a trash bag for dust protection in the basement. I gave my typical perfunctory  look around for said Crock Pot and decided there was none, so I spent another Andrew Jackson (plus tax – and NO SHAME, I had to ask Greg which guy was on the $20 and yes, I homeschool my kids. It was a total brain fart and if you were to be honest you don’t know either AND goddammit, I didn’t have a twenty in my wallet at the time or I NEVER woulda asked or confessed NONE OF THIS).

Anyway. So yeah, the Crock Pot was like $19.99 at Target (minus 5% off for the RedCard and I may or may not have pulled a Cartwheel jack move ’cause we’re gangsta. Okay?).

So now I’m thinking I have GOT to be cooking in the Crock Pot(s) for, like, a whole week ahead of time, you know? I’mma be throwin’ it down. “Oh, you’ve got to leave this awesome super duper creek fun time play to go and cook dinner? MY dinner is already back at the homestead, yo. In fact, I made dinner COSTCO-STYLE in quantity, so what? Thug what?”

But so yeah. That’s my big one-upper of the week. I have two Crock Pots. W00t!

Nosebleed Emergency!

We were in the car and had just left Six Flags today when from the back seat I heard Ethan say, “Mom, I have a nosebleed!”

Actually, it wasn’t like that. My bad. See, Ethan gets nosebleeds with some regularity just like his daddy did as a kid. So it was more like, “Oh, look. Another nosebleed.”

You would think that because he gets these nosebleeds fairly often we would have a stash of paper goods in our rigs or my purse or our pockets or somewhere, right?

Nope.

“Son, all I’ve got is a maxi pad. You want to use a maxi pad?”

“Uh, no.”

“Okay. Well, if it gets bad enough you need something, then you do what you gotta do. It’s here if you need it.”


A few moments later:

“Is it clean?”

“Of COURSE it is clean, Ethan. Come on!”

“Okay. Go ahead and give it to me.”

So I dug it out and handed it back to Laurel with instructions to help her little brother.

“Oh, weird! It’s sticky!”

“Yes, Ethan. That’s the adhesive. You do know what those pads are for, right?”

“YES.” (indignant)

Then:  Eruptions of little boy laughter.

“Mom, he’s waving it around all over.”

“Ethan, stop waving that around. Please.”

“HA HA HA HA! Look at this! Boop! Boop!”

“Mom, he’s sticking it on his face with the adhesive side and pulling his skin out with it.”

“Ethan, really. I have cars passing me and they have GOT to be wondering what is wrong with you.”

More little boy laughter. More waving of the Sanitary Napkin Flag.

“Actually, Laurel, here’s my phone. Take a picture of it. Maybe it’ll go viral.”

“NOOOOOOOOO! Wait, what does viral mean?”

“It means it will go all over the internet.”

“Will we make money?”

“Nope. But you’ll be famous!”

“Okay. Yeah, Laurel, take a picture!”

“Well move your hands to the side, then!”

padboy


And then at home: “Mom, can you e-mail the Mythbusters to ask them to test if a maxi pad will hold more blood than a paper towel?”

“It does, son. It does. Trust me.”

On Liberal Tolerance.

This is nothing new in the internet world, but over the past couple of days, I have seen post after sarcastic post saying such things as “I thought you lib’ruls were s’posed to be so TOLERANT of other people’s beliefs! Wah wah wah!”

Well, not exactly. In the interest of shutting these idiots up, I’ve put together a handy guide to what tolerance means or doesn’t mean for many of us, especially to me.

Perhaps this will help with the confusion.

Ready? Pay close attention, now.


TOLERANCE YES!
Other people’s culture; religious beliefs or lack thereof; separation of church and state in all matters.

TOLERANCE NO!
Terrorists, slut-shaming, persecution of others’ beliefs or non-beliefs, false claiming (especially in the United States) of persecution of Christianity.

TOLERANCE YES!
Prayer in our schools so long as it is done silently and by the students as their choice; moments of silence without editorial comment afterward regarding prayer so students may use the silence for anything they choose (remembrance, daydreaming, loading their MP3 player).

TOLERANCE NO!
School administrators, faculty, and/or staff leading prayer; having a moment of silence and then stating what you would have done if you were “allowed” to pray; “god in our schools;” making children who choose not to bow their heads and pray during moments of silence or choose not to stand for religious songs feel guilty.

TOLERANCE YES!
The right (yes, I said right because it should be) to marry any consenting adult(s) of your choice, without regard to gender, race, color, national origin, or creed (did I cover them all?). I’m even okay with polygamy IF it is arranged between consenting ADULTS. I’m looking at you, FLDS!

TOLERANCE NO!
Pedophilia. Bestiality. That weird-ass thing where men marry their daughters in a vain attempt to ensure their virginity until marriage.

TOLERANCE YES!
The right for you to make your own reproductive choices without “assistance” from your employer, your government, or anyone else other than your doctor and your spouse, if applicable.

TOLERANCE NO!
Anyone who believes they have a say over your testicles or uterus, or who would shame you for your decisions in this regard; the belief that women should pay more for insurance simply because they have the ability to bear children.

TOLERANCE YES!
Your right to bear arms in a sensible manner, as laid out in the 2nd Amendment and as defined by our country’s judiciary. I personally believe guns have four uses, only three of which are acceptable: hunting, home/self defense, and sport shooting. All these can be accomplished with pistols and long guns such as shotguns and rifles without the need for high capacity magazines and assault-type weapons. The fourth use? Human slaughter. That’s the ONLY reason for those high cap mags and such – see next statement for more on this.

TOLERANCE NO!
Open carry of firearms on the streets or in public places outside of hunting clubs, gun ranges, etc.; intimidation of U.S. citizens through open carry (plus, if you’re doing this you’re totally derpy and damaging your cause, dumdum, which makes me question whether you could even pass a background check I would employ); firearms in schools; high capacity magazines (face it, folks, if the guv’ment wants to kill you, they’re gonna kill you and there ain’t SHIT ALL you can do about it). Especially disgusting are the people who verbally fellate their guns because it makes them feel cool. Real gun owners who are comfortable and familiar and competent with their weapons don’t have to go around yapping about it all the time. Yes, mention you have a gun so people know! No, don’t go around whacking yourself with it like the ape scene at the beginning of “History of the World: Part I.”

TOLERANCE YES!
Private property rights which do not encroach on the rights of others, including the freedom to feed your family as you choose from your property, within the bounds of nuisance laws and such.

TOLERANCE NO!
Using federal land as though it were private property without monetary remuneration to the citizens of the United States; I personally hate Homeowner Associations.

TOLERANCE YES!
Your right to belong to groups and display banners, insignias, logos, etc. of those groups.

TOLERANCE NO!
Supremacist groups; display of banners, insignias, logos, etc. designed to intimidate or harass members of minority groups (Stars and Bars, white supremacy insignias, etc.).

TOLERANCE YES!
Your right to believe or not believe in gender roles influenced by biology and to decide for yourself how you wish to construct your family within those beliefs.

TOLERANCE NO!
Imposing your belief in gender roles upon others; believing it is acceptable for women not to receive equal pay for equal work because they bear children.


This is by no means a comprehensive list, and lots of my fellow liberals disagree with me on some points (especially the 2A points, probably some on the property rights). Ultimately, you’re damn right I’m intolerant. I’m not going to tolerate people harming others. Your amendment rights – every single damn last one of them – end where someone else’s rights begin. And yes, it’s true – your opinion does not matter as much as someone else’s if yours would cause harm to others who are just minding their own damn business and trying to carve out lives for themselves.

Are we clear?

Here We Go.

It has been nearly two years since last I kept a blog.

I’m not entirely sure I still remember how to do it.

I’m not even sure I still WANT to do it.

The last two years have brought hosts of changes – we began homeschooling our children; we lost pets; we got new pets; we bought a house; we bought a trailer; we went on cross-country trips we never documented as in the past.

I’m pretty aggravated about that, because my kids…well, at least Laurel…love to read the blog. Now that Ethan is a good reader, he will want to do it, too.

This is the chronicle of our lives. It’s for personal consumption. We don’t need an audience, though there is nothing secret about it.

But I felt like something was missing. When I have a terrible day and write, I work to find the humor in it and I feel better thereafter.

So!

Here We Go.

Volcano!

So, this week in home school Ethan has been learning about the layers that make up the Earth and their properties (solid, liquid, their makeup, depth, etc.). It only seemed natural to extend that into a study of volcanoes – particularly Mount Vesuvius and Mount St. Helens. The former because, naturally, it is famous for burying Pompeii, and the latter because there is plenty of video footage to drive it home. Plus, let’s face it: It is always easier to identify with more recent happenings.

That, of course, led to the classic baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano. Ethan made the base of my leftover fondant, which is why it’s white. We decided it is snow-capped. I used food coloring to color up the vinegar. He watched carefully as I made preparations because according to him, “I want to see how you do it so I can do it with my kids someday…maybe…if I have kids…I dunno.”

And his reaction is just as classic as the experiment:

Laurel Sings Her Spanish Project.

Sometimes as a parent you get aggravated and are just mean.

That was me tonight, when Laurel told me she had to take her guitar to school tomorrow for a Spanish project.

“That piece of crap? Seriously? It’s missing a string and it’s a half-size guitar. It’s an embarrassing instrument and I don’t even know what you’re going to do with it. And you promised your project partner you’d do all this work and you never thought, ‘Hey, maybe I’d better run this whole taking-the-guitar-to-school thing by my mom to make sure it’s ok?’”

Then Ethan and I went and picked up supper. When I left I was in a big huff and Laurel was in tears.

While we were gone I started wondering if maybe I’d been too harsh. After all, it’s my job as a parent to allow her to flex her creative muscles. And what would it hurt, really? It’s a crappy old guitar missing a string and it’s half-size, to boot.

So when I came back, I called her in.

“Play it for me,” I said.

“What?” She asked.

“If you think you need to take this guitar to school tomorrow, let me hear what you are going to sing.”

And so she did.

And I realized I was wrong. She did need her guitar. Here’s why (lyrics are beneath the video):

 

Conjugate irregulars
Don’t follow the same patterns
Only different in the yo
Some of them end in g-o
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!

Hacer is “to do or make,”
Be sure you don’t make mistakes
When conjugating in yo
If it’s “me” I say “hago!”
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!

“Tener” is e to i-e
Even when it isn’t me
Tienes, tiene, tenemos,
Teneis, tienen and tengo!
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!

Conocer, dar, and saber
Are weird too, but so is ver!
Seeing, giving, and to know
Veo, doy, and conosco!
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!

You’ve got to learn irregulars fast.
The test date is coming near.
We’ll teach them to you so you can pass.
They’re pretty easy to learn,
You’ve just got to listen here

Now you know how to conjugate
Study, don’t procrastinate!
You’ll be ready for the test
Just work hard and do your best
And you’ll conjugate irregulars.
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!
Let’s go conjugate irregulars!

Ch-Ch-Changes!

So, I promised more frequent posting, but I’m dashing this off pretty quickly, so please excuse any errors and the poor writing.

Change is pretty crazy, and many people have trouble with it. But in typical Boneblog fashion, when we make changes, we REALLY make changes.

 

Change Number One:

We bought a house. or, rather, we are still in the process of buying a house. We close tomorrow. It’s bigger, there’s more land, the location is prime, the school district is great. Oh, and there is plenty of room to park our big camper

And it needs work. A lot of work. In fact, we went on a walk-through last night and it only re-emphasized just how much work. It will take us months to do the work and lucky us, we get to carry two mortgages the entire time. Our target move date is June. Ish. There is so much work a typical family would not be sane to take it on.

But again, we do tend toward the outrageous. After all, you only go around once.

 

Change Number Two:

We’re homeschooling Ethan. Or, rather, I am. The situation at his school finally became untenable. It is not as though this is a rash decision. We have tried for five (5!) months to put the acceleration he needs into place. We were promised and promised but nothing came to fruition until November, when finally – after a sharply worded e-mail or two to the principal – he was accelerated to 2nd grade math. This should have happened in August, seeing as his classroom teacher was his accelerated math teacher last year and knew damn well he had already mastered the 1st grade curriculum. However, I had a bit of a run-in with her around, oh, October or so, where she questioned our method of parenting (an unwise decision on anybody’s part, quite frankly).

Later I found out from other staff members that it was not unlike this teacher to hold a grudge against parents who dared speak out, and that she was unlikely to let it go.

It appears she didn’t. Even after the acceleration was in place, she routinely “forgot” to send him to math class. He forgot too, and felt guilty because he believed it was his responsibility.

“You’re seven,” I assured him. “Your teacher is, I dunno, forty-seven. It is her responsibility, not yours, to ensure you get where you need to be when you need to be there.”

Greg and I were very, very patient with this until an incident just before winter break where Ethan was required to stay in from recess to complete a math exam because once again his teacher had neglected to send him to math class.

He was more than capable of doing the work but sped through it, upset about missing recess, and therefore did not score well. Ethan is very disappointed when he does not score well on anything, so it led to quite a spiral.

Still, we did not address it.

But the proverbial last straws came immediately upon returning to school after winter break.

“Ah,” I thought. “Surely now everyone is renewed and committed to a fresh start.”

Naw.

First, Ethan didn’t want to go back to school. He found it excruciatingly boring to sit and wait for the other students to master a concept he had already mastered. One acceleration was in place but the teacher had flatly refused to put the other agreed-upon accelerations in place because she wanted him to “get used” to one before implementing the others so as not to overwhelm him. Really? Because him sitting there for hours twiddling his thumbs instead of having something enriching to do is a good thing, right?

Second, guess who didn’t go to math the first day back?

So I sent another e-mail to the teacher last Thursday afternoon and copied the principal. I explained that we had been very patient to this point, but our patience was waning. I explained that we expected Ethan to receive all the agreed-upon accelerations and we expected the teachers to work together to ensure he received daily instruction in math as often as possible, allowing for the odd unusual scheduling days, etc.

The response was this:

[crickets]

Nothing. Nothing Friday. Nothing Monday.

So, on Tuesday, I went and withdrew him from school. I asked the secretary twice to ensure that Ethan brought home his supplies that afternoon. Twice she assured me he would come home with them.

He didn’t.

However, his teacher did brilliantly remember to keep his folder that goes back and forth between school and home. So it is not as though she was unaware of the withdrawal.

Talk about passive-aggressive.

So we began homeschool in earnest yesterday after an intense weekend of planning and a Trojan virus infection in my computer.

We absolutely loved it.

“It felt like I was only in school for 1 hour!” Ethan exclaimed. In reality, we did 5.5 hours worth of instruction. Heavy, detailed instruction. We studied dams, particularly the Hoover Dam (which we will be visiting this summer) and learned about the Johnstown Flood. We read a book about what it was like working on the Hoover Dam.

Ethan picked his first country of study (Turkey), and we intend to study Turkish history and culture and eat at a Turkish restaurant (this idea, I should point out, was lauded and copied by others in a foodie forum I visit). We are going to pick a different country every week or so.

We signed up for skating lessons and re-upped our memberships to the St. Louis Science Center and St. Louis Zoo.

Ethan did math worksheets and reading worksheets and language arts worksheets. He worked on designing covers for the binders to hold his work just in case the prosecuting attorney comes sniffing around looking to ensure we’re really doing something.

I joined up with an online homeschooling social group that has several outings per week from which to choose so he’ll have a social life.

And perhaps best of all, he still gets to attend his one-day-per-week gifted pullout program at the district.

I have always been a big supporter of our public school system, and I still do not think it is all bad. Don’t get me wrong. Last year Ethan had an amazing teacher who accelerated as much as she possibly could with the resources she had. He still has wonderful gifted teachers who helped us to realize we weren’t crazy, overbearing, or demanding in seeking a decent education for our son.

I always thought homeschooling was a little wonky, a little out there. I thought it was something the uber-religious did because they were right wing extremists who didn’t like government no matter what. But that just isn’t true anymore. There is an entire website devoted to those of us who are secular homeschoolers.

When we got to the end of our rope I found myself thinking, “Why in hell are we putting up with this when we don’t have to? Why aren’t we recognizing that we have the means and the ability to give Ethan the education he needs, to inspire him to love learning when it’s being killed where he is? And most importantly, why are we walking lockstep with others? Why aren’t we recognizing that each kid has his/her own unique educational path?”

So for now, we have joined the ranks of secular homeschoolers who are doing what they do because they just want their kids’ educational needs met. It is a luxury that we are able to make these kinds of changes and I am grateful.

How is Ethan taking this, you might wonder?

This morning he got out of bed the happiest I have seen him in months. He was actually anticipating the day and even cheerfully and voluntarily began his worksheets while he ate his breakfast.

If that ain’t validation, folks, I don’t know what is.