Thursday, February 26, 2009

Life According to Stephen

"Mom, I need to learn how to cook so I don't have to get married when I get older."

Where the Boys Are

Ahh, in working with Jr. High girls, I remember this song of my youth . . . how embarrassing! How I wasted so much time then!

Now of course it means something totally different. I realized as I was looking over my blogging that I haven't mentioned the boys of late. Since supposedly this whole blog is mostly about living with boys, here is an update:

Josh: has been faithfully and dilligently working through his first year of school away from home--at private Christian school. The homework load has been much less than I expected. I have discovered in him a very anti-establishment attitude. He questions every rule, every reprimand, every math fact, every instruction . . . the boys wants to know WHY!!! The hormones are a-raging, and he is mad all the time no matter what I do. I of course don't dare acknowledge that I belong to him in public . . . on penalty of death, I think. However he is making great grades, is working exceptionally hard (both at our after-school job where he helps me clean, and at home when I ask him to do some chore), is communicating with words his constant frustrations and irritations, and assures me that he still loves me (although sometimes I have to remind him I'm a girl and that I need to hear him say it). He's a great kid, and someone I truly respect and admire, although I'm a little concerned about a "crisis of faith" that he's battling right now as he searches for his own identity.

Stephen: Still very much the happy-go-lucky boy, just in a rapidly growing and always eating body. Stephen never finishes his schoolwork, but always seems to know more than me. He is still very sensitive, but as the pre-teen hormones are starting to stir, I see it emerge more as anger now than as tears (although sometimes the two appear together). Stephen's highly creative streak bounces from one interest to another: at the beginning of the schoolyear he was hard into stop-motion animation and computers, and now is drawing and sketching everything. Stephen's biggest challenge this year has been working via Florida Virtual School, which violates his free, impulsive, unconstrained approach to work. Nevertheless, he also is proving he is capable of doing "classroom" work, and is showing signs of improvement both in his computer skills and his art (the two classes he is taking are 2D Art and Keyboarding). Stephen's heart is still very tender to the Lord, and to those in need around him.

Andrew: AJ has been full of surprises this year. He was having great difficulty reading at the beginning of the schoolyear, but has made leaps and bounds in the last couple of months. Suddenly words are popping out all over the place, and when they do AJ tries to read them! School efforts are moving along now at a nice clip, so much so that he and I have started reading and studying anything we can get our hands on about the Colonial and Revolutionary period of American history. It has been fun seeing what he is learning once again beginning to take over his imagination. Andrew's latest endeavors have been book-writing. He starts many, though rarely makes it to the finish. However he writes and draws all day, intermitten with fighting imaginary enemies (and a couple real brothers) outside whenever possible. I love Andrew's energy, as well as his delight in snuggling and being with me. Maybe I baby him a little, but I figure that's OK. He does NOT get away with everything!

Having essentially three different ages and stages has kept me awfully busy. I'm trying to balance youth group, scouting on two levels, friend get-togethers (not playdates anymore!), this school event and that one, etc. I spend much of my life in the car. Fortunately I have kept their outside committments few, and they usually share events (like the older two both do youth group, the younger two are both in homeschool support group together and have scouting back-to-back at the same location). And after much prayer and discussion with Josh, it looks like we will probably all be home again next year for school. (Not so sure if that's a light at the end of the tunnel, or just the headlight of a train!)

Just so I'm clear, if you've placed a call and asked me for something, or if you want to catch up over coffee . . . we can schedule something . . . in about ten years!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

999 List: The City of Ember & Fahrenheit 451

Wow! I just looked at my list and realized that I'm making my way through books quickly right now! The first book I finished this year was Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, and I was amazed at the information about economics that I didn't know. I'm not sure if it was helpful to educate me in this area--I'm more skeptical than ever about our government--but nevertheless, it whetted my appetite for more of these "Uncle Eric" books.

Then I continued on in one I was determined to finish--Fahrenheit 451. The story was unsettling--more so because it was written over 50 years ago, yet was almost prophetic in its vision of futuristic society and the media--but it was well-written and stimulated lots of thoughts in me about my need for good literature. In some ways I found it a little sad; I felt it relied too much on general knowledge (from all kinds of literature) instead of saving knowledge (from scripture) for hope for society. One of my close friends disagrees, so I'll probably continue to process it for a long time in the future.

Tonight I finished a book that I've only been reading about a week. The City of Ember has recently been made into a movie. One evening not long ago while the boys were finishing their cleaning jobs, I read the first chapter in one of the classrooms we clean, and was astonished at the quality of the writing. The story captivated me, so I reserved the book at the library and started it when it came in last week. What a great story!!! Two kids recently graduated from school (at 12!) begin to suspect that something is wrong in their isolated city, and begin to search for a way to help the citizens of their town to escape from their dark abode. This story is a thrilling mix of social commentary, heroism and villainy, mystery, and adventure. It's such a great book that Stephen curiously picked it up and has started reading it! It's also part of a series (of course!), so now I have to read the sequel, The People of Sparks. And eventually, of course, I'll watch the movie . . . which won't be as good since I read the book first!

Anyway, I'm quite impressed with myself, that I've finished THREE books in two months! Not to mention, I have started and made progress in a couple more! So on with the challenge! So many books, so little time!

Friday, February 20, 2009


So there's this classroom I clean every day. I've decided that the kids in the class are future members of FIYA. For a while I found these unfolded paper clips everywhere. They reminded me of little shivs, like the homemade knives they make in prisons, only pint-sized. Now I'm finding the tops of pencils. Not the erasers, mind you, the points . . . perfectly cut off. I couldn't help but wonder what tool an elementary school kid is finding that can so perfectly and straightly decapitate a pencil. I know the teacher, and find it hard to believe that she is at all boring, so I'm pretty sure she just has a class of hardened 10-or-so-year-olds. And I'm sure that the membership of FIYA--Future Incarcerated Youths of America is soon going to increase.