How Smart Are You? Unless You are 13 or less

I wrote about the IQ test at Emode. What I didn't know was that if you are less than 13 it won't give you the information. And it is set up for lots of monkeying around. You can't get around it by going backwards and entering something else.

Also, they must have put a cookie on my machine, because they knew who I was when I went back.


Planning a Class

It has been a long time since tenth grade. A long time since I was in it. A long time since I last taught it.

Now I have to plan two classes. One eighth/ninth grade. One tenth/eleventh grade. I know it is easier if I have it planned out in advance. But I am not quite sure how much I can get done in an hour and a half in these grades. How much can I assume the kids know? How much can they take in at once?

We are covering four subjects in three hours each week. Vocabulary. Grammar. Literature. Writing. I think I can guestimate how much time I need for the first three. Just talk out loud and see how it goes. But writing? Teaching that is what I do, but I've never used this curriculum before. I don't really even know what it is. I have to watch 12 hours of video for instruction this next week.

I want these classes to be fun. They will be easier for me and for the students if they are fun. But I also know that it is hard to keep them fun if you don't plan far enough ahead of time. If you are going by the seat of your pants, then you get done what has to be done, not what would be good to do.

I want to do these classes so that the kids

1. learn and retain the most possible

2. enjoy the experience

3. don't have too much homework

You know, that's pretty much my goal for every class I teach. I guess since I didn't get to pick any of the books I am a little more nervous than I would be otherwise.

Romance Novels: this month

Last Seen is a fun book about a single mom and the strange guy who moves in next door. He thinks she's a prostitute. He says he's a painter. But neither are true. Thankfully the truth, about him, is told before they have sex. I hate it when they have sex before all those secrets are revealed. It's an interesting story. There will be another in the series in October, I think.

Practice Makes Mr. Perfect is about a cop who wants to marry a rich lady. So he gets his neighbor to help him practice romance. Unfortunately, the neighbor is not as experienced as he thinks and she falls in love with him. It's an interesting tale about friends becoming lovers.

Bordering on Obsession is about a secretary who wants to have a one night stand with her boss without endangering her job. She manages it and they both have a great time. Then he wants more. He thinks about putting up a billboard. She nixes that idea. (Rich movie mogul seeks naked woman in mask for great sex. 555-5555.- He'd get way too many calls.) How do they get together? It's a fun and erotic tale.

Gone Too Far by Suzanne Brockmann is the sixth, I think, in her Navy Seal Team Sixteen series. I would guess it is also the last since it raps up three of the romances you met in other books. It is a good read. Talks about terrorism today. Her best book is Get Lucky, but this one is very good.

Standardized Testing

Texas doesn't require testing, but I have started having the boys do the Stanford Achievement Tests every May. We've only done it two years.

I have them tested for the grade they would have been in if they were in public school (for you Brits that's the state run schools). They're both doing a year above that in homeschool. My husband suggested they take the test for the schoolwork they are doing. I don't know though.

I guess it depends on why I am having them tested. Originally it was to make sure we had done something right and to have some standardized proof that they were doing well. I got that. I guess now I should switch them to the grade they are doing. But I am afraid they might not do as well and I will feel bad. (Considering E got post high school on almost everything, I think I should be okay, though.)

I did find that M needs to work on library skills (that's the next unit in his English book) and spelling. But in almost everything else he is above average.

I think I might have them take two tests next year. No. That's twelve hours of testing just so I can be happy. I'll have to decide which one I want to do. (Hope I remember this whole thought sequence when sign-up time comes around.)

Typical Morning

I'm a homeschooling mom, which means my mornings are not typical for Americans. I get up fairly late, 8 or so. I generally take a shower and make my bed. This morning I talked to my folks and we are meeting for lunch. So at 9 sharp, we started school. I called the boys downstairs and gave them their assignments for the day.

This is the end of the school year. They finished spelling early, like in December. Last week we finished reading. (And they did two years worth of lit books this year.) This week we will finish history. So now they are doing science, history, and for E- math, for M- English grammar. (E has an m subject. M has an E subject. Weird.)

Feeling Fragmented

The lesson was on John chapter 17 where Jesus prays right before he dies. The first part of his prayer mentions himself. The second part is strictly about his disciples. The third part is for “those who believe in me.” So me. Maybe you. He prayed for us to have complete unity.

The teacher said that we tend to think of unity in one of three ways. Unanimity, which he defined as thinking and doing all the same things. This is when you have to have hair cuts to the right length to truly be a Christian. (That was a church I went to in WVA about 25 years ago.) Union, he defined as groups agreeing to get together for a single purpose. These things are generally something like operating a soup kitchen. Unity, he said, is defined by the chapter. It is when the believers show the world that Jesus is from God and that God loves them. (It's actually what the verse says. Which I hadn't ever noticed.)

So, you don't have to agree on what the Bible says or means to be in complete unity. You don't have to do things together to be in complete unity. All you have to do is let the world know that Jesus is from God and that God loves them. Wow, there's a lot more unity in Christendom than I thought.

Day in the life of a middle-aged housewife

This morning I woke up, pulled on clothes and went out to turn on the water for the lawn as soon as my husband got out of the shower. While he was getting dressed for work I was unloading the dishwasher and reloading it. I also took the wet towels and swimsuits out of the trunk and threw them in the washer. It is Monday and from Pilgrim days, that has been laundry day.

After 20 minutes I moved the water. I put on more presentable clothes (not the ones that resemble pajamas) and went to the dry cleaners with my husband's shirts and to WalMart Grocery to buy bread and milk. Turned out we didn't need the bread. Oh well.

When I got home I moved the water, one last time. Unloaded the dishwasher. Did more laundry. And started the kids on their homework. I know it is July, but we do a more round the year school. They don't mind. I generally don't mind. My husband minds. But he isn't in charge of the homeschooling, so…

Once the boys started on their schoolwork, I got on the phone to call the list of people I promised I would call this summer. (I promised in May.) Hey, it's still summer! I don't know why people are freaking out about it not being summer just because it's only three weeks till school starts here. That's three weeks from now. Ask any kid. It's still summer.

I talked for two hours. (Grown ups are more interesting than laundry, etc.) When I got off the phone, I made a run to Taco Bell for lunch. Decadence.

After lunch, the boys got on the computers for two hours. I did more laundry. More dishes. Read the magazines I've gotten in the mail and from my dad's recycle bin.

At two we went to Barnes and Noble. It's new. Less than a month old. We like bookstores. We stayed an hour.

At three-thirty we got home. My youngest wanted to go on Battle Net. Okay, I said. When your room is clean. It's been an hour and a half and two checks on a “clean room” which wouldn't pass inspection with a tornado, much less a parent who can see or feel.

It's time to go pick up the dry cleaning. Otherwise I might forget it. Still have laundry in the dryer. Something with metal buttons, because you can hear it all over the first floor of the house. I washed the last load of dishes. Did another sink full of hand washing, since we did the fogging.

I'm being called for a third room check. This should be interesting.

Hysterically funny weblog about a new Texan

This fake weblog from Inluminent is a funny intro to Texas weather and problems with it. However the author, who lived in Dallas and now lives in Austin, missed it when he placed the blogger in Houston. We get way too much rain to have cacti in the backyard. Even in a drought year like this one.

If you are from Texas, you will roar with laughter. If you aren't, you may be glad you're not after this. As a native Texan who has lived lots of other places (New York, North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana, and Switzerland), I can tell you it's pretty accurate.

For extreme cat lovers, there is an entry which might upset you.

Also, this guy often includes naked or semi-naked women in his articles as attention getters.

Sleep v. Being Online

I was going to sleep. Then I remembered that I hadn't signed my son up for VBS this next weekend. The cut off was tonight at midnight. So, at 11:15, I got up, went to the church website, and registered him.

Sitting naked on the couch in the dark living room emailing the church youth minister seems a bit strange. Thankfully we don't have video email yet. Or I'd have had to get dressed.

Fogging for Bugs

It's summer and we live in the woods, so we expect bugs. However, one of my sons is VERY attractive to bugs and he's gotten five or six bug bites each night after he's gone to bed, so we decided to fog the house. We got 10 foggers, to make sure we had enough. (I hope we did.)

You're supposed to leave them for 2 hours so we went to lunch and then Spy Kids 3. The 3-D thing was more headache than it was worth.

When we came home, we opened up the house and left it for an hour. (Welcome, burglars. Thankfully we didn't get any.)

Then began the clean up process. Small bugs crawled onto the counters (2 of them) because they were trying to get to clean air. Thankfully they didn't find any. I killed them quickly.

Then we had to clean out all the kitchen cabinets, wash them down, and start washing all the dishes. This is not as much work as at say my mother's. However, I've done four loads in the dishwasher already and I probably have two more. I have also done a sink of dishes that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher.

We did the fogging on Saturday morning.

It's Sunday night late and I have seen no bugs since yesterday early afternoon. That's good. Hopefully my son can start sleeping without benadryl soon.

Offenders meeting victims

The Brits do things a little strangely, to my way of thinking. There's an article on BBC today about the governments' quotas for hospitals causing 25 people to lose their eyesight due to cancelled and delayed appointments, which were cancelled or delayed by the hospital. Since they cancelled or delayed to meet the quotas, that's freaking scary to me.

Then there's this article which talks about how people who have committed crimes, like mugging, burglary, etc, can get out of going to jail by visiting with their victims. I read that and I am thinking, okay. Someone assaults me and their punishment is they have to see me? I think that would be a punishment for the victim.

Read it yourself. One young victim of a mugging said it gave her more confidence. But notice that the mugger didn't apologize or say they were wrong. How does that help?

The article says that the government justice system thinks it will help victims if they understand the motives of the bad guys. If someone burglarizes my house, I know their motive. It's to use what I've worked for to buy what they want so they don't have to work for it. What do I care what their motive is? Maybe they have a sick mother, so what? So do I.

I thought it was strange. I don't want it to happen in the US. Offenders getting off because they are polite to the people they hurt the next time? That's justice.

15th Anniversary of our First Date

15 years ago this weekend my husband and I went on our first date. That's a miracle all in itself.

I met him at summer school (graduate). Thought he was nice, fun. But no big deal. Then he called me before he left town. We talked for two hours. Afterwards one of my friends said, “I didn't know you knew him that well.” I said I didn't know I knew him that well, either.

I came back to my parents' house at the time. (About thirty minutes from where I now live.) I went shopping at the Foley's at Deerbrook. Found a beautiful green on green velvet and taffeta dress. It was a perfect fit on me and was on sale for $20.

I called a mutual friend and asked him if he thought my future hubby would go out with me. He said probably. Unbeknownst to me, he then called R- to give him a heads up. I didn't know, or I never would have called. I would have been too embarrassed.

When I called R-, who lived out of state, but was coming back to the neighborhood we now live in for the weekend, I didn't do too well at asking him out. “There's this restaurant I want to go to. I have this new dress. I don't know any guys around here.” He said, “You're making me feel real special here.” Anyway, he said yes.

So our first date, I asked him out.

Well, I told him I had a new dress. Women, doesn't that mean it is a fancy restaurant? He calls me back, after he's in town, and says, “Hey, my friend says he went to that restaurant for prom.” I said, Yeah, so what? He said, so it's fancy. Thank goodness he had brought a suit. But he'd forgotten his shoes so he had to go buy new ones. He left those in town when he left, too. Silly guy.

We went to Steak and Ale for dessert. Since we can't afford the restaurant we ate in when we went on our first date (Rainbow Lodge), I like to go back to S&A for our anniversaries.

My dad's going to watch the kids and we'll go out tomorrow night. Not to our S&A, that's over here by us. My dad lives on the exact opposite side of Houston. We live NE. He and my mom live SW. (Mom's in NC visiting my sis right now.)

Happy anniversary, honey.

Purchasing school books

I went to a hotel meeting this week. Actually I went to two of them.

A hotel meeting is when a publisher has their books available for perusal and you can order them while you are there, plus you don't have to pay the shipping costs.

A few weeks ago I went to an A Beka hotel meeting, to look for books for the boys.

Then on Tuesday I went to Bob Jones. We've been using primarily A Beka for years. However, people have told me that Bob Jones is much more advanced than A Beka. Let me tell you, they aren't.

Bob Jones' fifth grade math book was more like A Beka's 2nd. And we did Bob Jones' science books two in one year, because there wasn't enough in them. (Turns out I had used them. Bought them at a used book sale.)

I bought Bob Jones' Spanish instruction. It seemed to be similar to what I did in school and it has tapes. I don't need the teacher since I speak Spanish. But I don't want to teach the boys Spanish by myself. I tend to expect them to be able to do too much.

I also got my youngest the Bob Jones' English workbooks. They are not as pretty as A Beka's, but they had more different kinds of exercises. M- needs to work on his spelling and writing a bit more than we have been.

Then on Thursday I went to another A Beka meeting. They told me I had to sign in. I said no. They told me I had to. I didn't. When I went to buy my books, they wouldn't let me unless I signed in. I was pretty irritated. They already know who I am, they have my address and credit card number. I signed in, but I was p.o.'ed. I later thought I should have put in something stupid like Burger King, number of children 27, etc.

Anyway, I now have the boys' school books. We'll be ready to start the next school year in about a month.

I hope we're finished with the last school year by then.

Ice Cream Dessert is Really a Meal

At least in terms of calories. Reuter's Health says that a Ben and Jerry's chocolate dipped waffle cone with a regular scoop of chunky monkey ice cream has more calories and saturated fat then an entire pound of baby back ribs. (There are lots of other scary calories listed in the article.)

I'm not such a big fan of ice cream that a “snack” would be worth giving up that much regular food for.

The article also mentions that at least one fat free yogurt actually contained 11 grams of fat. (Not too good for your low fat diet.)

According to the group that did the study 2/3s of Americans are overweight and 1/3 are obese. I wonder what their measurements are. I would have to agree with the 2/3s overweight. Just look around your work or the mall and see.

But the 1/3 obese seems a bit high. Obese is 30% overweight or more. I'm supposed to weigh 130 (by the insurance charts). That means to be obese I would weigh 175. Hmm. Okay, maybe I can see obese at 1/3. I might have been thinking of morbidly obese when I said it seems a bit high. But that is more than a 100 pounds overweight. And I don't know a lot of people that overweight. Unfortunately, two I know are in my own family.

What's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan? don't you wonder?

I wonder. I pray for the military stationed over there and for their families here. And I wonder. Are things as bad as the media says? How bad are they? I have a friend whose husband is a civilian over there and she says things are not good. But she doesn't make it sound horribly dangerous. Just somewhat dangerous.

Instapundit on Afghanistan gave me a perspective I appreciated. Yes, it sucks. 36 bombs were found in one night. But teenage bandits masquerading as police are gone. It's now safe to drive outside the well protected streets of the inner city. I was glad to hear that progress is coming, even if slowly.

Instapundit on Iraq was much less informative. However, it did tell me how they were getting information from Iraqis still planning on Saddam's return.

I read somewhere, I think US News, that if Washington, DC were as big and populated as Baghdad that there would be 215 murders a month in Baghdad, based on DC's crime rate. There aren't that many soldiers dying in the whole country. I wish there weren't any.

My friend whose husband is over there (in Iraq) said they are often greeted with stones thrown at the trucks. Which means that they can't roll the windows down and have to sit with them up inside vehicles with no a/c. They have to drive with a military person in a military vehicle. It isn't safe, yet, for an American to drive alone. I hope it will be soon.


My hubby's job supplies his insurance and we can buy ours through them. But it is horribly expensive. $1200 a month for me and the boys. We can't afford that. It went up in April and we've been short ever since. It's going to go up again in December. If something doesn't change, we may have to do without.

I applied for major medical. I didn't get it.

I am applying again. We'll see. I don't really expect to get it, but I am hoping. Hard.

Cycles? Or depression?

I do things in cycles. I read this kind of book or that kind of book. Then for a while I write. Then I work out way too much for a while. Then I do something else.

I don't think it is as obvious as what my husband does. He goes through cycles, too. Survivalism. Programming. Writing. I'm sure there's another one, but right now I can't remember what it is.

Usually, though, when I read romance novels I am depressed. I've been reading them for the last two months. Sometimes as many as 20 a day. Sometimes as few as five.

I wonder if I am depressed. Thankfully I haven't been having any nightmares, another typical symptom.

It's just something to think about.

Churches: Being a Long-Term Visitor

In the last three years we have visited four churches for several months at a time. But none of them have held us. There are reasons for that. I'll get into those later.

But first I want to say to anyone who runs a church website, make sure your address and service times are on the website. You would not believe how many churches have a website but don't give directions or time on their site. Some you can't even tell what city they're in.

Okay, visiting.

We went to the Vineyard when they were in the middle of a pastor change. Bad idea. People were hurt because the old pastor was leaving. People were hurt because they guy they liked didn't get picked to be the pastor. So we went away and visited around. We didn't find anything we liked or even felt comfortable with, so we went back to the Vineyard. The new pastor was interesting. The music was good. My youngest loved the Vineyard. There was one major drawback though, they didn't have classes for middle school/high school age kids and my oldest is that age. We could keep him with the youngest for a while, but then what? Plus, he needed a more structured classroom. So we moved on.

We went to a Baptist church. We've been to one before. But not a big one where all the ladies dress well and in beautiful skirts. My husband liked that part. The sermons were not very interesting. And you had to bring your kids to the sermon if you stayed for class and the service. So we just came for the sermon and sent the kids to class. My eldest loved the Baptist church class he was in. My youngest didn't. He missed the interaction with kids of different ages. Eventually the folksy-country presentation of the pastor got to be too much for my husband and we moved on. I missed getting to know people in class.

We went to a non-denominational church. The minister was good. The music was okay. But this church had three major strikes against it six months into visiting. One, no one was even greeting us. Even though my husband worked the video system. Even though I had taught VBS. Even though we'd gone to both church and class for the whole time. Two, the financial minister preached every Sunday. And every Sunday he said that if you would give God money, God would fix all your problems. My husband got tired of hearing that. So we tithed for several months. Guess what? We got into more debt. Three, the youth minister who was teaching my eldest quit. They weren't going to be able to replace him. There wasn't going to be a youth group at all.

Then we went to an Assembly of God. We went to one our first year of marriage. I love the music there. I thought the minister was okay. They didn't have to beg people for money, because people gave regularly. They have a wonderful youth group and a kids' ministry that is incredible. Unfortunately, my kids don't enjoy LOUD music. Which is the only way this church knows how to do it. And despite their mother's vivacious and in-your-face personality, they don't feel comfortable with it at church from the front of their class. Which is how it was. So, once again, after visiting long enough that they should have been feeling more comfortable, we left.

In the meantime, we visited several churches. One my husband and I loved, but the kids hated. The adults in charge ignored them, didn't take care of them, and basically acted like they weren't even at the church. We went back one more time, just in case it was a fluke. It wasn't. One we went to and every single thing, including the songs, were about money. One was a big production, with lots of classes for both parents and kids, but our whole family felt overwhelmed by the number of rules they felt were necessary to run a big church safely. One we called ahead to find out about services. They gave us times, told us they would be looking for us. Okay, I know that's polite Southern charm, but still… We got there and even though it was obvious we were visitors, no one greeted us. No one offered to help us find the class for the kids. No one came up and talked to us afterwards, although we identified ourselves during the service as being visitors.

So now we're visiting the Church of Christ that my husband went to growing up. Maybe we'll even stay. It will be weird. I'm not one to keep my beliefs to myself and some of the stuff they teach is just malarky. Plus, sometimes they talk about stuff they don't have a clue about. (What the Catholics believe, for instance. Or the Pentecostals.)

I did enjoy the class this morning, though. The teacher seemed to realize that people had different ideas about the subject. He shared what he thought. What the passage said. What he thought the passage said. He talked about other things people say about the topic which aren't in the Bible. (That was news to me. I had thought there was a passage that said that, but I looked it up and it didn't.)

I guess we'll have to see. I wish we could find someplace we feel comfortable with and go there. I'd like to settle in and make friends. I've been here three years. That's long enough that I should have made more progress than I have.

Different churches: My background, c of C

We've been in Houston now for three years. Since that's longer than I live most places, I should be able to say I have friends here. But I don't. There's no one here who would miss me if I were gone. Part of that is because we don't have a church home.

I grew up Church of Christ. Along with many other denominations, thirty-forty years ago, they were sure they were the only ones going to heaven. Along with many others, they're starting to get over that.

They still have their peculiarities.

They believe that salvation happens at the point of baptism. Before, you aren't saved.

They believe, or at least practice, singing, non-instrumental. They use a microphone and a pitch pipe, but that's it. Some individual congregations are known for their incredible four part harmony. Some are known for their off-key country twangs that slow to a dirge by the end of each verse.

They are congregationalist, which means that there is no governing association, not one, of any kind. Each individual congregation is responsible for and to itself. Sometimes churches around fuss at one or something, but there's nothing they can do. It's inherently part of being Church of Christ. There are some things which are cross-congregational, but they aren't supported by anything. There are several colleges, including Pepperdine in Malibu. There are several retirement communities, like Village Homes in Austin and Abilene.

It's been seven years since I've been to a church of Christ for anything other than a one time visit. Like with my in-laws or my folks. But I went to one this morning. With the possibility of going there regularly. It felt really strange.

They sang “old songs”. But not the old ones, like hymns. Rather, they sang the ones I learned new as a little girl or a teenager. I don't mind singing without instruments. It means you can hear the voices better. I like that. Plus, cofCers actually pay attention to the melody and the harmony. Most churches don't know there's anything except a melody.

The sermon was well thought out and interesting. I appreciated it.

The class was Bible based. That is one of the strong points of the c of C. They are known as “people of the Book”. I have a good strong background in Bible study that many people in their eighties, who've been in or led Bible studies all their lives, don't have, because I grew up in the C of C and with parents who thought it was important. I agreed.

I didn't love the church. But I didn't hate it either. It was just a church. They probably won't know the songs I love, because they're only ten years old or so. I probably won't cry during a song because they won't sing, “These are the days of Elijah.” Or any others that tear at my heart for new adult memories.

It's not really my decision that matters, though. It's my boys' decision. We went to an Assembly of God, a non-denominational, a Baptist, and a Vineyard in the last three years. But we haven't found anywhere my husband and I love enough to work around the boys. So, we've been looking for somewhere they feel comfortable. I think it may be at the C of C, because the three kids they know best here go there.

It'll be interesting.

GString Divas

It's an interesting show that is on HBO. It interviews, follows, watches one strip club dancer per show. Some of them you really like. Some of them you don't. Some you wonder why they're doing what they're doing.

There's Bunny who dresses like a cross between a six year old and the elder Barbara Bush. She seems to enjoy what she does and she's good at it.

There's Joey who is a dancer, actually an artist of all kinds, who is finishing up a Master's in art.

There's Ginger, who has a degree from Vanderbilt, works the crowd for money hard, and wants to be a soccer mom.

It's interesting. However, if you are offended by partial nudity, don't watch it.