Archive for the 'Education' Category

Jeopardy question: What is 73?

Answer:  The number of minutes it takes to enter the details of one’s son’s basketball games for the 2015-16 season into one’s phone and onto one’s wall calendar.

In a somewhat unrelated matter, be it noted that this formerly homeschooling mom finds the superfluity of grammatical and typographical errors consistently appearing in printed matter disseminated from her son’s school to be entirely unacceptable.  Granted, correspondence from his English teacher has been written correctly, but that coming from faculty and staff with other responsibilities has left – although not in content – quite a bit  to be desired.  I am now reminding myself that character and subject-specific facility trumps good writing. . . doesn’t it?  And I know I had better proofread this post very carefully!!!


So far, so good!

After his third day of at least semi-normal high school, Andrew said with a huge grin, “I really, really, really love school!”  = )

I think the thing he really likes the most is just getting to be around other kids All. Day. Long.  For him, spending one full day with other kids is a cause for celebration, so getting to do it five days a week is simply above and beyond.  this evening (Friday) he said he wishes it were Monday so he could go back to school.  I’m pretty sure that’s not because of his deep and intimate love of academics!

Trinity Christian Academy is quite small; there are five other 10th graders, three boys and two girls.  But so far, he likes most of his teachers and nearly all the high school kids, and he thinks his classes won’t be too hard.  All students take the same courses, and as a sophomore, his are:

8:15 AM:  Whole school (K-12) assembly

1st hour:  World History

2nd hour:  Spanish – all 3 Spanish levels (grades 7-12) meet together; he’s in Spanish 1

3rd hour:  Biology

4th hour:  Geometry


5th hour:  Music – all high schoolers together

6th hour:  English

7th hour:  Bible – four days a week, all high school males; Wednesdays, whole school chapel

8th hour:  P.E. – two days a week, all high school males (as an athlete, he does basketball for P. E.)

8th hour:  Personal Finance – three days a week, all high school males

Each “hour” is actually 45 minutes long, and following the 8:15 assembly for prayer, pledges, and announcements, classes run from 8:30 to 3:21.  His school day will expand in a few weeks when the basketball team begins daily after-school practices till 4:00 or 5:00.

Big yellow bus

Or little green car.

Today was Andrew’s first day of school.  In fact it was the very first time I have ever sent ANY kid to school, except for college.  Handsome guy, eh?

Andrew's first day of school - 10th grade at TCA, August 19. 2015

Andrew’s first day of school – 10th grade at TCA, August 19. 2015

He’s been living for this day for many years, but ever since the open house two nights ago, he’s been kind of nervous.  Throughout the summer, I’ve tried to give him a few tops and pointers.  Things like, “When you go to school, you probably won’t be able to sit in a recliner and coffee while doing your mapping assignment,” and, “Racing through a test and picking the first multiple choice answer that seems right without reading the all the options carefully may adversely affect your grade point,” and, “In school you can’t suddenly leave a room without permission.”  Stuff like that.  But he never wanted to hear any of it.

Last night he was concerned that all the other kids who have been in school for years will know what to do and where to go and how to act, and he won’t, and it will be obvious that he is inexperienced.  This, of course, is true, but he’s concerned about how he will appear.  I can understand that.

His alarm did go off on time (6:00) but I let him off his two-mile run because it was pouring down rain, so he got to sleep till 6:20.  He showered, dressed, ate (and I wish you could see our sparking clean, totally re-organized fridge and freezer), practiced piano, and tolerated the one pic above and one hug before he headed out the door at 7:50.  He had strict instructions NOT to speed, not to pick up any one for any reason, and to text me when he was in the school parking lot.  He has to be in the gym at 8:15, and he texted me (“at school”) at 8:12.

I did not cry when he left, or any time thereafter.  I told him that departures of a few hours usually don’t generate tears; departures of several months do.  I will see this guy again at 4:00, and I warned him that he would be required to tell me at least a little bit about his day. . . seeing as how it’s kind of “my” first day of school, too.


Finding my thoughts for the day mushrooming. . .

Andrew is learning about fungi in biology, and his current module is primarily about mushrooms.  I am “lecturing” each lesson to him to help him with comprehension and retention, and I now know more about mushrooms, their reproduction, and their classification than I ever cared to know.  Their reproduction is too complicated for me to explain without referring to the book – but this is OK because I will not be the one taking the test!  However, for your educational enrichment, I will here list their higher level taxonomic classification, most of which I can remember (and spell!) from memory.  Of course, you may note with disdain that I have so far only remembered this stuff for two hours.  While I think my comprehension so far is pretty good, today is only Thursday, and Monday (the next day we do biology) will tell the truth about my retention.

Kingdom:  Fungi – organisms that are heterotrophic (depend on other organisms for their food), do extracellular digestion, reproduce with spores, and have chitin in their cell walls

Phylum:  Amastigomycota – fungi that produce non-motile (not self propelled) spores

Class:  Basidiomycetes – non-motile spore-producing fungi that produce such spores in microscopic cells called basidia; these are located on the “gills” on the underside of a mushroom’s cap.


First time for everything

On the evening of May 11, 2015, I did something that I have never ever done in my entire life.  I registered a child for school.

Yes, you read that correctly.  After 25 years of homeschooling, we are taking the plunge and enrolling Andrew in a local Christian school.  Come August, he will be a sophomore at Trinity Christian Academy in Hollister, Missouri.  It’s a small K-12, accredited school with an enrollment of less than 100.

On an afternoon in late April, we three had met with the school administrator for about a hour one afternoon and asked a LOT of questions.  Her answers generally sat well with us.  She then gave us a tour of the school, taking us around to meet the various teachers Andrew would have.  Even though we were interrupting their classes, they seemed glad to meet Andrew as a potential new student, but I have to say the thing that impressed me the most overall – and it REALLY impressed me – was the attitude of the students.  In each classroom, after we were introduced, each of the students stood and introduced themselves, and they were all so. . . how can I say this?. . . non-cliquish!  How terribly refreshing!  Teens in groups can tend to ignore outsiders, but these kids acted like they were genuinely interested in getting to know Andrew.  Wow!  They were warm and cheerful and pleased to meet him.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

Then last Monday evening, we attended the school’s annual open house and end-of-the-year program, and once again, the kids seemed to welcome Andrew as a friend.  We filled out preliminary forms, paid initial fees, and drove back home with our first-ever enrolled-in-school student.  This is a really big step (kind of like a really big shew) and our decision was not made lightly, but we believe this will be a good change for Andrew.

I’m still trying to get my brain around everything that this new season of life will mean, both logistically and emotionally, but thankfully I still have a few months to adjust to the changes.  = )

O, Pythagorus!

I am working through geometry for the fifth and final time.  This has been a tough course for Andrew, and having tried everything without too much success, today I decided to work very intensely with him.  I explained the lesson to him and then sat right beside him and talked him through each problem.  We checked each answer as he did it, and the immediate feedback seemed to help.  We did two lessons this way today, and his score on the second one was MUCH higher than they’ve been in the past, so it looks like for the short term, I will once again be intimately acquainted parallelograms, trapezoids, right triangles, and their relative sides, angles,m and areas.

You would think that after have done high school geometry five times (Patty, Katie, Jessica, and Josiah), I would have it down fairly well, but tonight I was completely stumped.  I had to ask Scott to figure out and explain to me why, in the case of a certain proof, Andrew’s and my answer of (a-b)^2 really was equivalent to the answer book’s answer of (b-a)^2  (and therefore correct) AND how on earth the book ever derived (b-a)^2 in the first place.  Scott did explain it, but for the record, Mr. Jacobs, you really should have listed both answers as correct options on lesson 9.5, problem 38; especially since the answers to problems 39 and 40 both depended on the answer to that one!  I do want to be gracious, but honestly, these kinds of frustrations just seem to be too much for my 50+ year-old brain to handle well at 9:00 PM after a long and busy day.

While it has truly been deeply gratifying to have been able to homeschool kids for lo, these past 24+ years, I will confess that checking math answers and doing related corrections is one aspect of the process I will not miss whenever I finally hang up my “homeschool mom” hat.

Chasing the cheese

Andrew is studying Apologia Biology (Jay Wile’s), and he had an ortho appointment in Springfield on Monday.

We have also been slightly adjusting his academic schedule and checklist system, and somehow in the switchover this past weekend, we both assumed he was caught up on his biology lessons, but it turns out that he had four experiments that hadn’t been completed.  So. . . he was looking over them on Sunday – preparing to do them this week, you know – and he saw that some of the necessary items weren’t things we keep on hand.  Specifically, one packet of active dry yeast (yes, we have a bread machine; no, I haven’t been using it because the bread goes bad WAY before the three of us can eat it; yes, we probably still have some bulk bread machine yeast in the fridge; no, I don’t know if it’s still good or how much would equal one packet; so, yes, we’d need to buy that), a few fresh mushrooms, and some camembert or roquefort cheese.

I know where to buy yeast and mushrooms, but camembert or roquefort?!?  Too rich for my blood, for sure, and highly unlikely to be found at Wal-Mart.  But, as I mentioned, we had to go to Springfield on Monday, so all I’d have to do was ask the ortho receptionist for directions to a higher class grocery that carried such items, we’d pick up all three there, go south to McKenna’s for peaches and cantaloupe, and head home.

That was the plan.

We didn’t follow the plan.

For one thing, I forgot to ask the receptionist.  But not to worry.  I was sure there was a Price Cutter on Battlefield, and I was pretty sure it was just west of National.  (The ortho is one block southeast of Battlefield and National.)  So I told my chauffeur to turn west on Battlefield and we’d look for Price Cutter.  We did look.  We looked for a mile or so.  We passed Food 4 Less on the right, but I didn’t think they’d have it.  And we proved that there’s no Price Cutter on Battlefield.

But Andrew spied a Hy-Vee on our left and asked me what I thought.  I didn’t know what I thought, but it was a big grocery, so it had potential, and we pulled in.  Hy-Vee is HUGE.  It seemed as big as a Wal-Mart supercenter, and it was ALL FOOD.  Fairly highly priced food, but it was big and full and clean and nice.  And, off to the right was the deli, and in big groceries, delis tend to have island cases out front that contain really expensive things like cheeses.  Sure enough, this deli was obviously placed there for us by God himself, because it had its own “specialty cheese” DEPARTMENT!  What a score!

We scanned all the little triangular packages and boxes and lovely displays of every kind of cheese known to man and then some, but alas, we could not find any camembert or roquefort.  I then asked the friendly deli lady and she said, “Oh!  you’ll find that on aisle 16 or 17.  We have both of those over there.”  I thanked her, and noted that aisles 16 and 17 were maximally distant from the deli, so being close to produce, we picked up three nice mushrooms (this store had not one, not two, but three types of loose bulk mushrooms), found our way to baking ingredients and nabbed a packet of yeast, and headed to aisle 16.

It was one of TWO packaged cheese aisles.  Impressive.  And again, you could have cheddar, gouda, limberger, parmesan in many forms, bleu, brie, feta, goat cheese of all kinds, many others that I have never heard of (and this was NOT even the specialty cheese department!!!), but no roquefort and no camembert.

I meandered over to aisle 17 where the packaged cheese continued.  Again we scanned ourselves bug-eyed.  Again we failed to locate our elusive quarry.  I looked around for an employee and found a fine young man several aisles over dealing with boxes of cream cheese (yes, that was on yet another aisle; probably about 19).  He was polite and personable and when I told him my desire, he came back to aisle 16 and looked where we had been looking.  He asked if it usually came in a tub or in a block, and I had to confess that I had no earthly idea, that I had never bought it before, and that, indeed, I was not even going to eat it; it was to be used for a science experiment.

He kept looking unsuccessfully for several minutes until another employee came by who did the same, and then a lady customer, who had overheard our conversations, said she knew where camembert was!  Wonderful!  She took us all (two employees, Andrew and me) back to aisle 17 and showed us a place on a shelf that said camembert and had a round box above the label.  She victoriously lifted down the box and we all saw that sure enough, right there in front of God and everyone was. . . a round of brie.  Aw, shucks.  Clearly, some inattentive stocker – or customer? – had shelved the poor brie incorrectly.

But this kind lady was not to be deterred.  She then informed me that she knew for a fact that the Brown Derby on Glenstone, between Seminole and Sunshine – but closer to Seminole, mind you – stocked a wide variety of specialty cheese, including camembert.  Hmmm. . . I thought on this fact for a moment, and sure enough, it registered in my mind that Brown Derby was a liquor store.  I thanked the lady, and we two took leave of the other three (the cream cheese stocking employee graciously apologizing for not having been able to help me), and I said to Andrew, “I am just not going to go shopping in a liquor store for cheese for a science experiment.  Besides, that store is way north, almost up to Dad’s work.  I have my limits.  You may have to skip this experiment.  Let’s just go home.”  Andrew was more than fine to skip an experiment, so we paid for our mushrooms and yeast and left.

The thing about Hy-Vee is that it’s basically at the corner of Battlefield and Kansas Expressway, so the best way to go home is to go south on Kansas to the James River Freeway then east to 65 south.  But with four lanes of traffic each way and strategically positioned stop lights, that’s easier said than done.  So we weaseled our way around to get out onto Battlefield, and while we waited for the light to change, we noticed that right in front of us, across the street, sat a large supermarket called Dillon’s.  Interesting.

Well, we were looking for a big grocery, and Dillon’s was right in front of us, so, what the hey, into Dillon’s we went.  It wasn’t quite as luxurious as Hy-Vee had been, but it was pretty nice and of a good size, and every single employee was wearing an extremely bright royal blue shirt that said in large white letters, “I’m here to help you!”  So I went up to one fellow and asked him where the deli was, and he looked at me like I had two horns growing out of my head and pointed to the back left corner.  To which we walked.  But on the way to the deli, we passed a freezer case containing juice concentrates.

Some readers may be familiar with the sad fact that in the Branson area, one can no longer buy Welch’s White Grape Peach juice concentrate.  This is a favorite in our family, and for the past couple months it has been non-existent at Wal-Mart, Harter House, and Country Mart.  Mournful, that is.  So on a lark, I paused and perused the Dillon’s frozen juice concentrate selection, and there sat ten cans of the stuff!!  I sent Andrew back to the front for a cart.  What a score!

We proceeded to the deli area, and, lo and behold, in front of the deli was a specialty cheese island, and bent over the island was a lady stocking specialty cheeses.  Now this was great!  We wouldn’t have to spend a lot MORE time doing our own paltry search.  She asked what we were looking for, and I told her.  And she shook her head sadly.  “I’m very sorry.  We don’t stock camembert or roquefort, but the store (Dillon’s) on East Sunshine has a much larger specialty cheese department, and they do.”  Sigh.

We thanked her, paid for our juice, and left.

I really wanted to go back home, but what the heck.  We had come this far in our quest for camembert or roquefort; we might as well hit Dillon’s on East Sunshine.  So we tooled back east on Battlefield, north on Glenstone to Sunshine, and east on Sunshine – right past Scott’s work – to Dillon’s.  And this Dillon’s did indeed have a larger specialty cheese selection, and as we rounded its third cheese island, Andrew triumphantly handed me a very small triangular wedge marked, “roquefort.”  We then hit the bakery  for two donuts to celebrate our success, took our roquefort to the front, AND LOOKED AT THE PRICE!!!  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This tiny, lightweight chunk of cheese was imported from a French sheep, at a cost to us Ozarkians of – and no, I’m not exaggerating – $20.99/pound!!!!!

And we’re not even going to eat it. I sure hope it looks good under a microscope.

So put that in your education budget, and thank God for the freedom to homeschool!