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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


"Wisteria woke me this morning, 
And there was all June in the garden;
I felt them, early, warning Lest I miss any part of the day.
Straight I walked to the trellis vine. 
Wisteria touched a lifted nostril:
Feelings of beauty diffused, to entwine,  
My spirit with June's own aura."
-  Ann McGough,

It doesn't feel like a school day.  The breeze is soft and warm at last.  The doors and windows are thrown open to accommodate it's entry with ease.   The early morning is peaceful and quiet and full of possibility.  

The little blue parakeet was dead this morning, the cockatiel will be lonely now.  
Silly little thing never did recover from his time of terror at the Animal Friends Summer Camp where we rescued him from.  The ill tempered, bewildered menace will never draw blood again.  I imagine the girls will want to bury him properly when they get up.

Lots of last minute sort of stuff to get done this week.  Friday we take Rowan to Sturbridge.  Her training at Old Sturbridge Village is this weekend and she starts her internship immediately afterwards.  We still need to find shoes but I think we have everything else.  She is very close to being done with her Freshman year and she has acquitted herself admirably with a 3.8 GPA so far.  I have this pipe dream that she will leave her room clean and neat but the reality is, she most likely won't.  I told her it looks like a Salvation Army truck threw up in it.

Jenny is done with school with the exception of math.  She had a friend over for a sleepover so she will be happy playing today.   She was very funny the other day dancing about singing the "I'm going to be an only child" song in anticipation of her sisters leaving.  All of a sudden she got an utterly panic-stricken look on her face and said, "Mom!!  Does this mean I have to do Rowan's chores?"  You have got to love the way she thinks.

It has been a lovely weekend.  We had one of the nicest times with my Mom and Dad on Sunday, wonderful friends and BBQ Sunday night as well and last night we had a great time with dear friends, BBQ and Jenna's favorite game, CatchPhrase.  (To be clear, you are all dear and wonderful and equally so, I just didn't want to use redundant verbiage. ) 

 I've spent most of the last week using a program called Calibre to catalog all my home school Word documents, PDF files and ebooks with the proper metadata and formatting them for ereaders.  It is a huge job as I have amassed quite the collection over the 10 years we've home-schooled but once it is done it will be a great deal easier for me to find things and use them quickly.  I'm kind of a geek like that.  I enjoy making order out of chaos.
Sometimes it is actually imperative for my sanity to have something to organize.  

(Funny aside, well, I think it is funny anyway.  When I blow my nose, due to an old injury, it is often ridiculously, fairly loud.  Every morning I sit here at my computer and sooner or later I have to blow my nose.  And every time I do it, in the box with the baby chicks in it, there is a feathery explosion of startlement that makes me laugh and apologize every time.)  
It just doesn't feel like a Tuesday today.  But I guess it is, Happy Tuesday then, off we go.

He respects Owl, because you can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right.” ~A.A. Milne
Head on over to the Hip Homeschool Hop to link up or read more great blogs!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday May 25th, 2011

link up or go for more great photos....


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 5/18/2011

I wish I had his gift for napping on these rainy days. 

link up or go for more great photos....


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rainy Days and Tuesdays

“The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.” ~Longfellow


It isn't as though I can do anything about the weather now is it?

There are blessings in gray and damp days.  

It is easier to do school because the outside isn't beckoning us to come out and play.  I can make soup for lunch and use up the leftovers in the freezer to do it. 

I can write without looking out the window and wincing, or read or even watch tv before the evening if I chose.  The rain is quiet, soft and soothing.  If I were tempermentally suited to nap, this would be a grand day to do so.

 The kids got up with difficulty, the cats gave up entirely and are sound asleep again, even the birds are quiet and restful.  For the most part done with school, Jenna has left for Hogwart's for the day and I am thinking of heading back to Fablehaven. 

Rowan is working on her school day and we have to reluctantly leave the house for physical therapy at 3:15.  I am thinking some sort of comfort food for supper would be in order and crockpot cooking would be ideal and perfectly suited to the lazy mood of the day.  

It is a beautiful day after all.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy 15th Birthday Rowan

We love you sweetie.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Are We Done Yet?

 "May and June.  Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year: cool, misty mornings gently burned away with a warming spring sun, followed by breezy afternoons and chilly nights."  ~-  Peter Loewer 

 I am tired of this year's school.  All next years curricula is here and bright and shiny and I want to dump the rest of this year.  (Actually, I always want to be done once the kids take the annual standardized tests.)  The weather is getting nice, my "to read" stack is piling up, there are some dust bunnies that have yet to be brought out into the light of day and banished and we are all tired.  
My eyes have been in a permanent state of red and burning from researching and writing out Rowan's Modern History Course for next year and working on lesson plans.  I want to walk along the ocean and bury my feet in the warm sand.
My eyes long to drink in the newly green scenery out my window and feel the sun on my face.   In reality, it is only May and this is Cape Cod where it is still freezing, raw and windy and we are not done just yet.

To carry on I looked for a little inspiration on the net and found some wonderful quotes.  Honestly, I am not sure how much they will help.  But they sound good.

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.  ~Thomas Foxwell Buxton

"Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little." ~Plutarch 

Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; While others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before."   

"In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves, self-discipline with all of them came first."   
~Harry S. Truman  


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I have a major dental phobia.  Well, not a phobia in the strictest definition, my fear is perfectly rational and hard won.  I always try to make sure this issue doesn't affect my girls.  And, until recently, it never has.

For many years we went to Bourne Dental Associates.  When we lost our old insurance, we couldn't go there any longer and my heart was broken.  They had always been so very good to us there.  Even when I had to go for me, they were so caring and kind that I would manage to make it in the door.  In any case, we had to say goodbye.

We've been going to a nearby dental clinic and they are perfectly nice and have done a good job with the kids cleaning.  With Jenna's first filling, she had a bad experience, not enough Novocaine, fear and communication issues and she was terrified to go back.
Still, we managed to get through another filling, this time not so bad.  Then the tooth that was first filled broke.  And they referred us to another dentist that takes our insurance and off we went. (apparently the ONLY pediatric dentist our insurance company uses on the Cape)

Flag #1 As I completed the forms, at the bottom where I was supposed to sign there were two contradictory statements.  The first said I gave my consent for anything the dentist deemed necessary.  The second said that treatment would be discussed with the parent.  It didn't seem to say anywhere that it would be informed consent BY the parent PRIOR to treatment.  So I brought it up to the dentist and asked.  
He talked over me, patronizing me telling me that this is what it means and it is standard, blah blah.    I figured, as this was just an evaluation visit, no big deal.
We got xrays and went in and every time Jenna or I spoke, he kind of dismissed whatever we were saying but whatever.  He was almost over the top perky about it, but definitely dismissive.

Flag #2
Jenna tried to tell him that she was nervous because she had not had enough Novocaine for a filling and he pooh poohed her!  He said that wasn't the case, you are either numb or you are not and the amount wasn't the issue. " WOW", I was thinking, "that is a load of crap and most of my family will attest to the fact that we are often under-medicated as we seem to have a really high tolerance level for anesthetic."

Flag #3
We go out to make the appointment for the extraction and there is another form to initial in a number of places and one of them says that I can't be with her for the procedure.  I signed, we got on the list for a cancellation and left.  I was uneasy and called Mike and told him I think they said I can't be with her.  He said to find out because that was not acceptable.  This is an office we were new too with people we do not know.  So, I got home and sent a very polite email.  

Dear Dr. Xr,
On the way out, I was informed that I would not be allowed into the room with Jenna for her procedure.  My husband and I  are not at all comfortable with this. 
We have always been allowed and encouraged to be with our children in both doctor, hospital and dentist visits.  While I am sure you have excellent reasons for having the policy, the fact of the matter is that we will not leave our daughter alone for medical or dental procedures.  Please understand it has nothing to do with you or any of the lovely people we met there today.  It is purely a parenting decision and I hope you understand.
We respectfully request that I stay with our daughter during her visit.

While waiting for a response, I posted on my favorite message boards, asking if this, not allowing parents in for a procedure, was a standard thing and was I just over-reacting.
I got 41 answers with only one saying they like to sit and have the time to read a magazine.  Everyone else said that they not only would, but have, walked and found someone else if they are not allowed to be with their kids.  I was feeling better.

I had emailed my Mom too and got this startling email in return.
"be very interesting to see what he says to you – keep me posted -  doubt you will remember but years ago, I took you to a dentist on Rte 132 – the appointment was not going well for whatever reason(I was never told) and the dentist took you into another room and SHUT THE DOOR -  I flipped out and was taken to the hospital!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I will never forget it" 
I didn't remember but I am beginning to suspect where some of my major authority issues came from and I said to myself, that will never, ever happen to one of mine.

I got a phone call a couple of hours later.  The woman on the phone was very curt and said that, "Dr. X believes that you are not a good fit for this office".  Thinking to myself, "You have no idea how not suited we are," I replied, "We absolutely are not, thank you for your time".

Mike and I decide we will call the girl's old dentist and just pay out of pocket.  A delightful young man named Brian answered and he was fabulous, got us right in.
I drove down to pick up her xrays from the clinic and called my BFF.  The first words out of her mouth were, "Tell me you didn't get referred to Dr. X!  I had known that she had a horrific time at a dentist with her littlest but I had not recalled the name of the dentist.  Her story was the stuff of nightmares.  I felt this enormous relief, like we had just dodged a bullet. 
It was totally a God thing, He had this one covered.

This morning we went in to our old dentist's office.  They greeted us like long, lost friends, the whole atmosphere was warm and welcoming and it went without a hitch.  These were genuine smiles, real warmth and caring and it showed.
Nitrous Oxide on board, tooth out, filling done,  all smiles, no fear, no pain.   Even some giggling and humming from behind the grape-scented "nose" were heard.
A far cry from her shaking and crying, pleas to "go home right now" and rigidness getting her last filling.

Yeah, we put it on a credit card.  Yeah, it was expensive and it is going to take some time to pay off.   However, as far as I am concerned, folks like that,  who take care of her like that, are priceless.  

Thank you Dr. Dugas, Brittina, and all of you.  You are treasures and a credit to your profession.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Contemporary History through Books and Film

The Great War through the Present, Modern History through Books and Film
10th Grade     Modern US History
Goals for this course: 
To have not only an understanding of the history of the time periods under study but through books and film, to get a feel for the mind sets, attitudes, fears, joys and concerns of daily life as well as certain specific events.  Not only that it was experienced but how it felt to be alive during the time studied.  So while some of these movies may not be historically accurate per se, I have chosen them because they represent how people felt, dressed, spoke and behaved etc.

Links and books in purple are ones for me to read to add to the discussion.
Links in green are recommended reference material 
(this syllabus remains a work in progress, feel free to please suggest resources, especially for the 1990's and 2000's)

Summer Reading prior to course:
Oxford History of the US, Grand Expectations, 1945-1974, James Patterson 829 pgs
Oxford History of the US, Restless Giant, James Patterson 496 pgs

World War I
SparkNotes WWI
World War I, Richard Maybury 252 pgs
America's First World War, Henry Castor 174pp
Letters from Rifka, Karen Hesse 148 pp
The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman 544pgs
Poem: In Flanders Fields
Woodrow Wilson, Speech on the Fourteen Points, Jan 8, 1918

The Sinking of the Lusitania
The First World War, The Complete Series 10 episodes
World War I in Color (6 episodes)
All Quiet on the Western Front
Sergeant York
Lawrence of Arabia

Post WWI
SparkNotes Russian RevolutionRead:
Animal Farm 128 pgs
SparkNotes: Animal Farm
History of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky 1040 pgs
Ten Days that Shook the World, John Reed 368 pgs

Russian Revolution in Color 94 minutes
Italian Fascism in Color 100 minutes
Reds 194 minutes (?)

1920's - 1930's
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald 180 pgs
SparksNotes for Gatsby
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
SparkNotes: Grapes of Wrath

Inherit the Wind
Chariots of Fire
The Grapes of Wrath
Of Mice and Men
The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937
 The Hindenberg
Oct. 30, 1938 Orson Welles radio show panics America
The War of the Worlds Scandal
Public Enemies
The Education of Little Tree
American Experience: Hurricane of "38"

World War II
World War II, Richard Maybury 349 pgs
The Rise and Fall of Adolph Hitler, William Shirer 179 pgs
The Second World War, Winston Churchill 384 pgs
The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom 221 pgs
Sparknotes: WWII
Churchill, The Gathering Storm
Hitler: The Rise of Evil
World at War 26 hours
World War II in HD 10 episodes
September 10, 1939 - Canada declares war on Germany; Battle of the Atlantic begins.
Battle of the Atlantic
Das Boot
May 27, 1941 - Sinking of the Bismarck by the British Navy. 
Sink the Bismark
August 20, 1941 - Nazi siege of Leningrad begins. 
September 3, 1941 - First experimental use of gas chambers at Auschwitz. 
Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State (?) 6 episodes
December 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor;
Tora! Tora! Tora!
The Thin Red Line
April 10, 1942Bataan Death March

September 13, 1942 - Battle of Stalingrad begins. 
Enemy at the Gates
June 6, 1944 - D-Day landings on the northern coast of France.
The Longest Day
December 16-27 1944- Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes.
Battle of the Bulge
Truman: American Experience
August 6, 1945 - First atomic bomb dropped, on Hiroshima, Japan. 
Hiroshima: BBC History of WWII 89 minutes
November 20, 1945 - Nuremberg war crimes trials begin.
Judgement at Nuremberg

Read: Kon Tiki 272 pgs and watch on YouTube 58 minutes
On the Road, Jack Kerouac 304 pgs
SparkNotes On the Road
Small Steps, the Year I Got Polio, Peg Kehret
SparkNotes: The Cold War
The polio vaccine was made public in April, 1955
A Paralyzing Fear
The Legend of Pancho Barnes
Modern Marvels: Mount Rushmore
CNN: Cold War (CLAMS link)
The Atomic Cafe/The Day After
Trinity and Beyond
China: A Century of Revolution
Berlin Airlift: American Experience

Korean War

30 Jun 50 - President Truman orders ground forces into Korea and authorizes Air Force to bomb North Korea
27 Jul 53 - Cease fire signed - fighting ends 12 hours later 
The Coldest Winter, David Halberstam 719 pgs
Sparknotes: The Korean War
MASH (?)
Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War
Korea, The Forgotten War
Korean War in Color

1950's and 1960's
Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger 288 pgs
SparkNotes: Catcher in the Rye
A 1960's Childhood, from Thunderbirds to Beetlemania, Paul Feeney

The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam
A Bright Shining Lie, Neil Sheehan

Rebel without a Cause
February 3rd, 1959 The Day the Music Died.
La Bamba
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
Thirteen Days
American Graffiti summer of 1962
CliffNotes: Kennedy Years
Vietnam War (1955-1973)
Path to War

Go Tell the Spartans
We Were Soldiers
Good Morning Vietnam
1964 Civil Rights Act
 SparkNotes: Civil Rights Era
Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
Malcolm X
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
1962 Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring
Forest Gump
June 1967 Six Day War
Six Days in June

“Major trends in the 70s included a growing disillusionment of government, advances in civil rights, increased influence of the women’s movement, a heightened concern for the environment, and increased space exploration. Many of the “radical” ideas of the 60’s gained wider acceptance in the new decade, and were mainstreamed into American life and culture. Amid war, social realignment and presidential impeachment proceedings, American culture flourished. Indeed, the events of the times were reflected in and became the inspiration for much of the music, literature, entertainment, and even fashion of the decade. ”
Copyright © 1999 [Kingwood College Library]

When the White House was Ours, Porter Shreve 280 pgs
River of Time, John Swain 304 pgs
Fire in the Valley, Michael Swaine 463 pgs

April 11, 1970
Apollo 13
1973 Abortion Legalized in US
Roe Vs. Wade
1973 Paris Peace Accords
Missing in Action 
April 1975 Pol Pot Becomes the Communist Dictator of Cambodia, Khmer Rouge
The Killing Fields
May 17 to August 7, 1973 Watergate Hearings
All the Presidents Men

1976 Cultural references
Dazed and Confused
July 3rd, 1976 Palestinian terrorists hijack plane
Raid on Entebbe
Apartheid/Steven Biko 1970's
Cry Freedom
1972 Terrorists Attack at the Olympic Games in Munich
American Experience: Jimmy Carter
1975 Microsoft Founded
Pirates of Silicon Valley
1976 Olympics Nadia Comenici gets 7 perfect 10's in gymnastics
Nadia (because I was riveted to my tv and went around my neighborhood collecting newspapers and magazine, anything that had her in it)
1977 Disco Reigns 
Saturday Night Fever (pg version)
The Bronx is Burning (?)
November 4, 1979, a group of radical Islamic students swarmed into the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking its staff hostage and demanding that the American government return the Shah of Iran. 444 days later the students went home, having failed to produce the Shah (he had died), but having succeeded in unleashing a geopolitical disturbance which wreaked havoc on the American psyche and brought ruin to then President Jimmy Carter's term in office. 

444 Days to Freedom

And the Band Played On , Randy Shilts  621 pgs

Delta Force based on 1985 TWA hijacking  and Delta Force 2 about the drug wars
American Experience: Reagan
Red Dawn 1984
And the Band Played On  The Aids Epidemic
The Breakfast Club
After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, a euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of the rest. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.
The Wall: A World Divided
June 1989 Tiananmen Square
Tankman, Frontline
Timeline of America's Drug wars
American Drug War, the Last White Hope

How Weed Won  the West
Frontline: The Meth Epidemic

Microserfs, Douglas Copeland (?)

Gulf War 1990
Live from Baghdad
Bravo Two Zero
Desert Triumph
21 Days to Baghdad
Charlie Wilson's War
FBI Vs. Branch Davidians
Storm of the Century
The Perfect Storm, Rescues
The Special Relationship: Blair/Clinton
Ghosts of Rwanda and/or Hotel Rwanda
Oklahoma City Bombing
Bang Bang You're Dead (Columbine)
Sierra Leone Civil War 1996-1999
Blood Diamond


Empire Falls, Richard Russo

President George W. Bush: "History's Unmarked Grave of Discarded Lies" Speech to Joint Session of Congress, September 21, 2001
Timeline, War on Terror
2001, 9/11
7 Days in September
United 93
Operation Enduring Freedom
Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster
Columbia: Space Shuttle Disaster
Invasion of Iraq
Inside Shock and Awe
Facebook launches
The Social Network
Hurricane Katrina
The Storm that Drowned a City
Barak Obama elected
The Obama Deception
Deepwater Horizon incident
Frontline: The Spill


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