Thursday, June 4, 2015

How Did The Rest Of My Year Go? Part II

I attempted to post an Ada Update yesterday, but blogger gave me one error message after another until all content eventually disappeared.   Writing may have become a hobby on which I have not devoted a lot of time, but the desire to write remained unchanged. That desire was satisfied through Facebook updates.  For those of you who do not read my Facebook feed, below is a collection of the better Ada posts that answer TobyBo’s question, “How did the rest of your year go?” 

3 September 2014
Ada: (While reading about skeletons in our Health book) Adam went to sleep when God told him to. Then He took out a rib, added sugar, spice, and everything nice, (sprinkling imaginary salt and pepper shakers in the air) and * kaboosh! * you have a woman!

I've never heard a child combine Genesis and Mother Goose before.

31 October 14

House #1
Ada: Trick-or-Treat!
Homeowner: Are you Harry Potter?
Ada: I'm Hermione Granger!

Ada: Trick-or-Treat!
Homeowner: Are you Harry Potter?
Ada: I'm Hermione Granger!
Homeowner: What happened to your hair?

Ada: Trick-or-Treat!
Homeowner: Are you a Weasley?

Ada: Trick-or-Treat!
Homeowner: Are you Harry Potter?
Ada: (deep sigh) Yeah, you can call me that!

4 November 14
Ada: Dad, what do you want for Christmas?
Dad: I want my children to have clean bedrooms. I want there to be no fighting that day.
Ada: That means no playing Wii.
Truer words are seldom spoken!

18 November 14
Ada, your version of Benevolent Dictator needs help. I successfully encouraged you not to write "Do what The Tater says or you will be killed" on "The Tater Compact," your version of "The Mayflower Compact." Still, you hinted at your true colors. Could it be that you identify more with the villains than with the heroes? Sometimes, you worry me, kid.

21 January 15
The sound of Ada screeching was quickly followed by the slamming of the kitchen door.
"Ada, what's going on?" I asked.
"Well, I accidentally hit Jonah with a tennis ball when I served it up in the backyard," she explained.
"Did you apologize?" I inquired.
"Heck no! I ran in here for protection."

22 January 15
Jonah: Dad, has Ada's science book covered sleep yet?
Me: Yes. Why?
Jonah: Because Ada woke me up today over a video game.
Ada: (shouting from the other room) It was an emergency!
Me: What was the emergency?
Ada: It was in my Super Luigi Bros. game. There was a tornado over the castle and I needed help!
I think it's time to teach the girl the meaning of the word "emergency!"

10 February 15
My daughter...
I spent time with her in front of the book shelves at Goodwill, looking for a book she might like to read. Pee Wee Scouts? Nope. The Babysitters Club? Nope. Black Beauty? Not a chance. Any of the countless Caldecott or Newbery Award winners on the shelf? She wouldn't have anything to do with them. What did the young lady choose? Star Wars The Clone Wars "The New Padawan," of course.
That's my girl.

12 February 15
I was a skeptic. I had to see it to believe it. The girl actually remained still for an entire MRI. She said, "There was only one wiggle!" This dad is impressed.

16 February 15
I just heard footsteps running down the hallway. Then I heard the bathroom door open and close. It was at that point I heard the girl start singing, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" She must have really needed to go.

1 March 15
If you give an Ada a temporary tattoo, she’ll put it on her right forearm where her dad has his tattoo. She will enjoy her tattoo so much that she will ask you for another. You will drive to Dollar General and search the toy department until you find packages of tattoos. She will choose Frozen. When you buy Frozen tattoos for your daughter you will buy Spiderman tattoos for your son. When you buy Spiderman tattoos for your son he won’t care. “Honestly, dad, do I look like I’m interested in tattoos?” he will ask. “No, because you’re too freakin’ uptight!” your wife will whisper in your ear after he has left the room. But your daughter will have friends over for a few hours. When her friends come over she will want to share her tattoos with them, because that is what BFF’s do. They get ink. Your daughter will get a wet wash cloth and a pair of scissors, and help her friends apply their tattoos. Then she will drop the unused sheets of tattoos face down on the brand new wood floors. And being that she is an Ada, she will drop the wet wash cloth on top of the unused sheets of tattoos that are face down on the brand new wood floors. Then she will leave the room. For hours. That is how an Ada became the only girl in Kansas with a picture of Kristoff and Anna stuck in a giant web while Olaf swings from building to building down the main street of Arendelle on her bedroom floor. After Ada runs out of tattoos because she has applied them to her bedroom floor, she will apologize. Then she will ask for another sheet of tattoos. If you have an Ada, do not give her tattoos.

5 March 15
It's the little moments that she makes so entertaining. Ada was just standing on a chair, desperately trying to reach a bag of tortilla chips on top of the refrigerator (so that she can have chips and salsa for breakfast), when I heard her say, "Come on little chip bag, come to momma!"

5 April 15
Two great lines from the girl on tonight’s bike ride:
#1 After struggling mightily to ride her bike up a steep hill, Ada turned and started the exhilarating down-hill run. As she whooped and hollered on the way down, she turned to me and shouted, “Apparently riding downhill is my speciality!” 

#2 On the return trip home, Ada called out to me, “Hey dad, if you slow down I’ll show you were I crashed today.”
“That’s okay, Ada, I don’t need to see it,” I replied.
“Dad, it was a thing of beauty! Seriously. It was beautiful!”

Apparently, crashing into the neighbor’s mailbox is her speciality, too.

7 April 15
I wish you could have seen the look on Ada’s face last night at Karate after she successfully tied her uniform belt by herself for the first time.  I don’t know why our sensei chose last night as the night to pull her to the side in the dojo and teach her, but the girl came running to me with a huge grin, immensely proud, shouting “I did it! I did it! Dad, look, I tied my own belt!” She promptly untied her belt, retied it, and ran to the next friendly adult to show off her accomplishment.  By the end of the night, she had a Uniform Merit Badge in hand.   I think she was prouder of that accomplishment than any Karate move she has ever learned.  When Ada accomplishes something that the rest of us do without thinking, something that has been problematic for her for many years, it is a huge personal accomplishment that is celebrated with zeal.  She celebrates “average” like it is the first moon landing.  It is another step on the path to being “a big girl,” as she describes it.  In that way, she is quite normal.  It just takes her a little longer than most kids.  It is both a privilege and a pleasure to watch.  
10 May 2015
They say that a mother's love for her children is unconditional. I'm not so sure. While walking through Walmart last night, Ada turned to me and said, "I know what to do for mom! She likes to be beautiful. I will cut her hair for her! I'll use my own scissors and cut here in the back (she touched the back of her head) and her bangs (she tugged on front of her hair). She'll love it!" I shared all of this with Melissa last night, but somehow I don't think that hair cut is going to take place today. Happy Mother's Day!

12 May 2015
So, we were reading about poisonous plants in science today when Ada asked me what mistletoe is. I explained to her that mistletoe is the plant that is hung from ceilings and doorways around Christmas time. If you stand underneath mistletoe with a boy you have to kiss him. The girl grinned from ear-to-ear and clapped her hands with excitement. It was at that moment that I thought, “Oh, my G-d, I’m in serious trouble.”

17 May 2015
We went to a high school graduation party tonight. Noah drove his brother and sister to the party. Melissa and I followed in a separate car twenty minutes later. Once we arrived, the graduate’s sister shouted, “You have to sign the dog!” I looked to where she was pointing. Sure enough, there was an autograph dog. My very first thought was, (because this is me we’re talking about here) “I’m going to sign my name right on that dog’s butt.” So I walked over, grabbed the marked, flipped over the dog, and saw my daughter’s name! Yeah, the girl had the exact same thought as her dad and a twenty minute head start. I still don’t know whether I should be proud embarrassed.

18 May 2015
I was in Aldi with Ada this afternoon when I realized that the boys would not be at home to help unload groceries when we arrived. I mentioned this fact to her. She immediately tapped her chest with her right hand and announced, "Super Ada powers activate!" Then she looked at me and added, "I'm still working on a catch phrase."

25 May 2015
If you have an Ada, you have a daughter who desperately wants to make people happy.  She will want to make you a breakfast for your birthday.  When Ada makes you a breakfast for your birthday, she will make you HER favorite breakfast.  When Ada makes you her favorite breakfast you will dine on toast with strawberry jelly, a bowl of salad with Italian dressing, a glass of ice water, and a dill pickle.  

25 May 2015
While driving to the cement company this morning, Ada looked at me and said, “It’s a good thing I’m not out in the community naked.”

My daughter is a delight. She keeps me on my toes every day!  She's healthy and happy. What a blessing!

Monday, June 1, 2015

How Did The Rest Of My Year Go?

Hello, Non-traditional Man Cavers!  

This morning I received a question from a reader who must have been REALLY bored to be reading my inactive blog. Tobybo asked, “So, how did the rest of the year go?” This was in response to my post on neuroplasticity. While publishing her comment I realized that I have not written for the entire school year. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about in nine months. I just haven’t had the time to write it!

We graduated General Mayhem (and not a day too soon)! Senioritis started near the end of his junior year of high school when the young man began his Khan Academy Art History class. I encourage anyone with masochistic inclinations to watch the entire art history program, but if you love yourself or your children, steer clear of this curriculum. Oh, it isn’t all bad. Some of the classic masterpieces are covered in depth, but the eight minute video of a shovel hanging on the wall of an art gallery will make you want to gouge out your eyes.

“Some people will just see a shovel hanging on the wall, Bob,” Judy said in her best golf announcer voice.

“You’re correct, Judy," whispered Bob in reply. "But the smooth lines and graceful curves of the shovel contrast starkly with the barren white wall behind it and speak to the artist’s statement about mankind…blah, blah, blah.” 

All I could think of was what the farmer would be moving with the shovel in the cow shed. 
To say that the lad was uncooperative and uncommunicative throughout the year would be an understatement. It wasn’t until I threatened to kick him out of the home on June first if he had not completed his schoolwork and earned his diploma did he finally discover the motivation to finish his rigorous three course schedule. He graduated with 20 college credits and his high school diploma. Any feelings of parental pride have been washed aside by feelings of sheer gratitude.

I’m back to homeschooling two. 

Now, I’m not certain at which point I left the reality of life with three children and entered the fantasy world where dad gets a break from the drama of the first teenager before the start of the drama of the soon-to-be teenager. I was slapped back into reality when Major Havoc entered a three day period where he slept for thirteen hours each day, ate us out of house and home, outgrew all of his pajama bottoms by a good three inches, and was an emotional basket case. Long division triggered intense crying jags.  The kid is genuinely talented in math, but his two division related mental blocks combined with puberty makes for a volatile mixture. I try to convince him of the necessity to be disciplined in calculating his math problems. My efforts are usually met with deep, heavy sighs and eyes rolls.

"I know that I annoy you when I tell you to be disciplined in writing the formula and following it to calculate the answer, but when you do that you reduce your errors," I told him. 

"Discipline,” the boy replied.  “That's where you take away all the freedom of childhood!" 

We are limping into summer with a few subjects left to complete. I’d rather see him have a few things to work on each day than have weeks on end of absolute freedom. The kids can make it three days without fighting. 

So, how did the rest of the year go? There’s SO much more to tell. I’ll save it for the next few days. There’s the tale of New Dog, the house that’s always being remodeled, more extra-curriculars than there are hours in the day, and of course, The Girl. I have an entire article on The Girl. Little Miss Neuroplasticity has been a never-ending source of head banging frustration, hilarity, and a daily reminder that God hears our prayers and answers them.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Neuro What?!

The answer to the biggest question of the day this past Labor Day was, “Why, yes. Yes we are having classes today.”  Pleasantly, The Boss took the lead with The Girl, which freed me to work on the basement floor.  We’re replacing nasty old carpeting with tile.  I did make time to sit at the table to work with her on Language Arts. We’re reviewing third grade material by completing some tests that I saved from last year before starting a new fourth grade program. That led to this exchange yesterday morning: 

“Ada, what part of speech is the word “house?”

“Um…” she replied, hand on her chin. Her patented “That’s a good question!” was forming on her lips.

“It begins with an “N,” I said, starting to write the word “noun” on our dry erase table.

“Neuroplasticity!” she shouted.

That’s right, gentle readers!  My ten-year-old daughter doesn’t remember the word “noun” but she does know how to correctly pronounce “neuroplasticity!”  

This could be an interesting year.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homeschooled Boy Suspended for Making a Weapon in School

(APE) Flintlock, Kansas

A ten-year-old homeschooled boy was expelled from classes on Tuesday after biting his breakfast pastry into the shape of a surface-to-air missile launcher, and authorities don’t know what to do with him.

Hezekiah Ezekiel Jeremiah Smith was expelled by his mother after biting his Pop Tarts into the shape of the popular FIM-92 Stinger Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS).

When his mother saw what he had done, Hezekiah said she got pretty mad.  “She told me, ‘just wait until your father gets home!’ I knew then I was in big trouble.”

“I went through 17 boxes of Raspberry Pop-tarts to put together that missile launcher,” Hezekiah explained.  “It took three boxes just to get the safety switch to work.  The smaller the part, the harder it is to bite it into the proper shape.”

“It kinda made me sick to my stomach,” he added.  “Near the end I was feeding my mistakes to the dog. I don’t think either one of us will be eating breakfast pastries for a long time.”

The NRA immediately responded to the suspension by offering Hezekiah a lifetime membership and a case of Tums.

The homeschool’s public relations spokesperson, fourteen year old college freshman Abigail Bathsheba Jedidah Smith, confirmed that her younger brother was expelled from home studies.  “He has the option of reapplying for admission at the start of the next school year,” said Ms. Smith.

 “That child!” his mother exclaimed, shaking her head. “I have half a mind to send him to military school, but I don’t want to encourage him.”

The problem, according to local school authorities, is that no one knows what to do with Hezekiah.  Dr. Julius No, superintendent of schools in Flintlock, refuses to accept Hezekiah into the local elementary school.  “I will not allow him to enroll in our school,” explained Dr. No.  “That young man is a threat to the safety of every child in our district.”

“Just imagine what would have happened if that missile accidentally launched in our school cafeteria,” Dr. No continued. “It could have hit another student.  Children might have gotten red sprinkles in their eyes.  Students could have gotten raspberry filling stains on their shirts. I cannot jeopardize the safety of our children by allowing Hezekiah Smith to attend one of our schools.” 

The boy's father, Bob, thought the incident was ridiculous. “This is insanity. With all the potential issues faced by homeschools today, threats from bullies,  whatever the real issue is, it's a pastry, ya know?' he said.

For the time being, Hezekiah is spending his days on the family’s patio, reading books, and creating a life-sized replica of the Easter Island statues out of Spam.

“It’s okay,” Hezekiah explained. “I’m ten years old and a high school sophomore.  I can afford to take some time off.”