Thursday, August 30, 2007

ragtime etcetera

My little (tall-ing) middle school student is amazing me this year. Attentive, mature, thoughtful. What's happened over the summer (after a few dips even)? All I can say is that this is the best start of school yet. Over at the public school for three hours, Cody is doing well, being brave, managing the socialfull, sensory-filled, whole teaching delivery. His science teacher e-mailed and said that he's a delight.
And, he's been delightful at home. We've been working from 10:45 to 3:00, and he is skipping / plodding right along. I am delighting in home school this year as it's incredibly fun to be introducing some concepts to him and to see his brain stretch.
Here's yesterday's schedule for those who are interested in what a home school day might look like:

1) middle school: band, academic lab (where he did home school reading on Scott Joplin); science

2) home where I re-teach Science using the Audubon's Weather book. We create a chart and chart the clouds of the day and read about cloud altitude and mechanics of precipitation.

3) math: mean, mode, and average review; multiplication review -- not many problems, I just want to assess that he still remembers how to do it;

4) Find two Scott Joplin resources: a) a soundfile on the web to listen to Maple Leaf Rag and the Entertainer; b) look him up in the real-world Encyclopadia to improve reference skills; read aloud.

5) Continue a page in his Writing Strands work book;

6) Go to white board and put William Penn on the ongoing leadership chart. Would you call him a strong or weak leader? [Strong due to religious convictions that all people were created equal; selfless as he used his land (now Pennsylvania) to set up a colony for other Quakers).

6) Write and define the word of the day "Universal" on a notecard and tape to the inside of the front entry closet door with other words;

7) Have Cody write about his basic rights as a member of this family in his History journal (playing video games is a basic right??). Discuss.

8) Read about Isaac Newton and John Locke in Story of the World. Talk about how the word "universal" applies to human rights. Talk about early beginnings of democracy and constitutional monarch (William and Mary) vs. absolute monarchy (Louis 14th). Relate the idea of "contract" to Cody's journal entry.

9) Visit word door and have Cody make up a sentence with each of the nine words on door.

10) Alphabetize his band music.

11) Practice piano and drums.
school is dismissed!

12) Go to rockband practice from 6-7

13) Read a chapter from his book (or Bible) right before bed

Whew! Collapse! Its been a productive day, now on to the next.

Monday, August 27, 2007

There she is, tossing bread upwards, skittishly, delightedly, upon her favorite beach in Destin, Florida, where her family goes periodically. Like her other childhood photos, she can peer (or glare) into the moments that comprise her life, and she can wonder who she is in relationship to it all. Particularly in relation to that restless body of water behind her which always churns, always cycles, always invites, threatens. From tranquil to tumult within twenty-four hours. She within knows the wave types.

She can wonder particularly in relation to the mother who holds the camera, focusing upon her always, desiring her to be captured in a placid moment of unreasonable, safe joy. Perhaps so she can then be captured in writing under a photo, a yearning pressed out; a frayed hope of points and light, which may be illusory. She doesn't know.

However, inevitably, she will look at the photo which frames her, caught, always beside the sea, always with the forty three year old mother who may one day appear full of love, praying, hoping, behind the camera which records a moment with the seagulls in Destin one August evening in 2007.

Will she see?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sleds and water balloons, why not? The sleds later became water troughs for the 23 kids who roamed around my yard yesterday, slurping up the cool refreshing liquid into their water guns, wands, later my plastic bowls. It was the beginning (and the end?) of an annual water fight and ice cream party. There were many drenched, dripping smiles and lots of splattery feet. And no whams, bams, thuds, cries, or sirens either, thankfully. Cody's vision of summer fun came true, and even though he made a new girl enemy friend ("She wouldn't stop squirting me, Mom!"), he went to bed sleepy and happy last night. My torn up backyard and raw balloon tying thumb will be just fine (although I do mention them for sympathy). The best thing out of all this is that there will be no more nightly drench-mother-rehearsal-pre-fights. I'm safely dry now and plan to stay that way.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Raised arms, gasping thoughts

Those little faces looking up to the stage, gasping when a related thought hits them hard, throwing up their arm for me to call on them stays with me. The talk this weekend was on fear and trust. And, as I performed the script for three children services, the kids listened and swung their arms high, wanting me to call on them, listen to their specific fear.

My script didn't call for participation at that point in the talk, but they were insistent arm wavers : "I have a fear that someone is going to walk up the stairs and get me and take me away from my mommy and daddy," said a six year old girl. "I have a fear of losing my sister," said another one. "I have a fear of falling off an airplane," a boy said. Waving arms of fear, gasping thoughts of the innocents filled the room. But I had to keep going, continuing on with the sermon, speaking of the issue of trusting God, giving him your fears, making a wise choice to trust Him. Their eyes glazed. Fears are quite specific, it seems. Something they understand early on. God is less detailed, fuzzy, difficult to sense in the same way. Will fear be supplanted by trust one day?

I hope, but why can't God be as tangible as fear to small children? Even now in their innocence, they feel especially vulnerable to terrible things. Waving arms of fright. Please listen, Teacher, and help us all in our anxious world, especially the young children, protecting them in every nation, because of your love, despite the fallen state, despite the horrible conflicts of man, despite a generational curse, despite a harsh environment. Suffer not the little children as you once willed. Please call on the children and comfort their arms and fears through tangible signs, proving yourself the stronger and more attentive force. Amen.

Friday, August 03, 2007


The world revolves for those of us lucky enough to be here.

When I see the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, I can't help but think of Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" in which he examines the lives of those who were crossing the bridge when it snapped and fell. The novel poses the question of destiny / fate / divine purpose against random occurence. The question used to bother me quite a bit. Now, I tend to believe that random occurence is a causal powerful thing which is hard to avoid in this land of natural laws and motions. Our divine purpose meets its wall. Our divine purpose occurs before meeting the wall. Perhaps God will move the wall, perhaps He won't. Perhaps we'll be on the wrong section of the bridge some time. May we live according to his plan and light until then.

But, life goes on for me. Cody finished his social skills training at the local autism center yesterday. I'm excitedly seeing timers and conversation topics and he and I conversing, with certain rules of conduct, over our reading. I think this will continue the work of the summer.

Music continues. Cody, his learn-by-play piano teacher (not the technical one on Monday's), and I whipped up a rendition of O Susannah to record on Wednesday afternoon. Cody wrote my (very haunted F minor sounding) harmony which I memorized on the mandolin. Linda played her guitar, and Cody manned the piano, having recorded also a drum part. We taped; Cody wasn't happy! We kept doing reworks. We kept laughing. He wants a mic for each instrument next week! I am grateful for Linda and call her Annie Sullivan, a deserving teacherly name for her.

My daughter is driving a friend to the KC airport today which worries me. I told her so, and she hushed me off, and I have no way to take her keys as she lives with her friends. Life goes on there. In a couple of weeks, we're all bound for the beach. I'll look forward then, away from the drive of the day.

Finally, I received my syllabus for my graduate class in English that I'll be taking online. Wow, am I crazy?! Yet, I'm idiotically looking forward to the learning goals and deadlines that this paper represents, now on the outside, soon to be swirled within the language of pedagogy. Do I have you to thank for this, Jennifer (haha)?

Life continues until who knows when or how. May God grant us perspective.