When We Get Around To It…

…That’s when we’ll start school.

(I answer that question a lot.)

We do enough educational tasks during the summer (all of which I track on my templates, which you can download here) that we can afford to start school when God intended: In the glorious month of September. But this year, we actually started on August 29, which was, I decided, close enough.

I printed the kids off some signs as I always do,

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But when we woke up that morning, we found that Chris had hand-drawn them some notes before he left for work that were way better than my lazy-download-off-of-Pinterest signs.

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From now on, signage will fall under the Principal’s duties.

I’ve found that hype is important in the homeschool classroom, so anything I can save for building and creating hype, I do. This year might have been my biggest hype success yet – I surprised the kids with a “classroom computer.” It’s a super cheap laptop so that they can learn how to use a real computer (i.e. kids these days don’t know how to use anything that doesn’t have a touch screen and does have an actual keyboard) and so that we could enhance and expand our learning. They were pretty much ecstatic.

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We’re currently using it for typing, Spanish, and quiz websites like iXL. And it’s quite the treat that I save for the end of the school day.

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Our ticket program worked so well over the summer (until I started forgetting to enforce it) that I decided to re-launch it and expand it greatly for the school year, attempting to solve every single one of my parenting problems with one simple system. And so far, it’s one step above miraculous.

Ticket System for Allowance and School

In the past, I have tried everything short of exiling Noah to Vanuatu in the attempt to get him not to throw his dirty clothes on the floor and to clean up his plate after a meal, and he has never done either of these things voluntarily. A week and a half into the new ticket plan, and he has not missed a single plate or sock.

Replacing allowance with this system was a huge motivational factor, along with the newness of it and a BRAND NEW COLOR of ticket.

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When I ordered my ticket stash at the beginning of the summer, they came in a pack of four rolls, and we used red throughout the summer. Something about me announcing regally that red tickets no longer had value and, furthermore, keeping the new color a secret for TWO WHOLE DAYS built a hysteria in Noah somewhat akin to when Apple announces a new iPhone. Hype. Is miraculous. And the “I can add or take away tickets at any time” feels like Hogwarts House Points to Ali, so therefore even more magical.

The success of this program rises and falls with my ability to continue to hype and enforce it, so y’all pray for me, okay? I think I may have discovered the key to life and happiness if only I can keep it rolling.

Speaking of life and happiness, while I was at Target buying the kids pencil cases in which to store their tickets, I came across this guy.

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Never have I ever unzipped a pencil case and burst out laughing, loudly, in the middle of Target, but he made me do it. The way his mouth waggled back and forth as I unzipped him…I knew he wasn’t for the children. He was for me.

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I’m keeping all my random supplies in him that usually get misplaced and turn into tiny messes – glue sticks, post-it flags, glue dots, etc. I found all his siblings on Amazon and depending on how my self-control is, I may have an entire family of Zipit monsters by the end of the school year.

(I might already have two more in my cart.)

(What all can I use these guys for? Help me out to justify my monster NEEDS.)

(By the way, the GENIUS case is all one zipper – you can unzip the entire case into one long string. Can I start a ZipIt fan club?)

As far as curriculum, for those of you who care, Ali’s subjects include:

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– American History 6 – A Beka
– Reading 6 – BJU
– English 5 – BJU
Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics – Apologia
– Bible: Who Am I?  – Apologia
– Math: Saxon 6/5 – Saxon
– Writing: Ali is writing in her diary, plus we will write various papers throughout the year.
– For Read-Aloud, we’re very nearly done with The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (HIGHLY recommended), then plan on trying out The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.
– Spelling: We’re studying the Scripps Spelling Bee lists as always.
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And Noah’s are:

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– American History 1: A Beka
– Health: A Beka
– Reading: BJU 1
– Bible: I love the My ABC Bible Verses book – they’re great verses to learn at this age.
– Science: Noah is learning Chemistry and Physics along with us, and picking up surprisingly a good deal. We’re also participating in a Science Club where they’re able to do experiments, which they both adore.
– English: BJU 1. This is his first ever English book, which is very confusing to him. On the second day he told me accusatorily, “This isn’t helping me at all with learning how to speak a different kind of English.”

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I guess he thought he was learning ESL. Or some secret new segment of English he’d never heard before. Poor kid.
– Math: BJU 2. I ordered him BJU 1, but when I got it, it was endlessly simple for first grade. We turned to the back of the book and Noah did all the problems in his head. Thankfully they have a good return policy and I swapped it out for 2nd grade.
– Spelling: Noah is joining us in our spelling bee pursuits this year.
– Writing: This is Noah’s first year to keep a diary, and he’s extremely proud of it. Ali’s five-year-running daily diary has always impressed him, so he feels quite included to be writing in his own.

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IMG_2157Despite how it might read, he got a BATMAN widget spinner on 8/30.

Together, we’re studying Spanish and typing. After a good bit of research, I decided on Living Language Spanish instead of Rosetta Stone – it is significantly cheaper and has way better user reviews. For typing, I bought this kid’s typing bundle and they are LOVING it. I have also taken the program to set up my own profile to show off for them.

So far, everyone is enjoying their curriculum and paying attention fairly well – even Noah, who sometimes needs a couple hundred cups to help him listen.

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But listening is listening. I’ll take it.

Congratulations on Your Simple Existence.

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Last week, I had a male nurse tell me all about how he has no health problems and takes no medications. He told me a hilarious story about him going to the doctor for the first time in years just so that he had a primary doctor if he ever needed one, but he probably wouldn’t. He told me the side-splitting tale about the nurse asking him about his health and his medications and then looking at him full of perplex and asking him “Then why are you here?”

He told me all of this directly after I had to tell him about my own complicated medical issues.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. In fact, it seems like “perfect health” is a man’s favorite bragging right. Although this is an especially odious habit for a male nurse, it comes with males everywhere. Especially after a woman has described symptoms and issues that, to them, sound like they must be exaggeration or hysteria since they’ve never experienced any similar thing.

So, healthy men of the world, it’s time we had a talk.

You need to shut the health up.

You’re so stinking proud of your easy existence. As if your body is equal to ours. In complexity, your body is a cheesy laxative commercial, while our body is the lovechild of The Matrix and Inception.

Your systems are early model typewriters – the ones without the self-correcting tape – compared to our super-computer operating systems. We run such high-level programs on our OS that you cannot even comprehend the bodily equations we do on a daily basis. So OF COURSE more things can go wrong and more code can get screwed up.

Most importantly, we are capable of CREATING additional humans. We have an entire system dedicated to that superpower. You think that’s not going to break more often compared to your Neanderthal abilities? So – yay for you. Your abacus hasn’t broken yet. Why don’t you use it to count how many humans you’ve grown.

What’s that you say? You make babies too? Oh yeah – that’s right. It takes you like twenty-two trabillion sperm swarming up a one-way street just to find one of our eggs. That’s some really efficient work you’ve got going on there. Perhaps if your software was detailed enough to program them to ask for directions, you’d be more helpful in the baby-making arena.

Meanwhile, after that “WE ARE MAN SEE US SWIM” ridiculously overpopulated army invasion of yours, we have to do the rest of the nine month process. Then when that new human finally emerges, our entire framework is reprogrammed within 24 hours to go from growing a baby inside to feeding a baby from the outside, which creates the side effect of complete nuclear emotional meltdown. Because duh.

Besides those times when we’re actually growing humans, our baby-making software requires an update every freaking month of nearly our entire life. Those updates take an entire week and while they’re running, every other program is trashed and slowed to 10% of its normal speed and efficiency. You know how on your actual computer you always click “ignore” on that update for Adobe Acrobat? Yeah. We can’t exactly ignore our updates without finding ourselves in one bloody hell of a mess.

And I’m not even going to get into the many studies on how much more complex and inter-wired our brains are than yours, because I don’t want to hurt the few connections you do have. And because I don’t dislike you, dear men – men are important. Men are great! Everyone needs a vintage box fan to help out their central air conditioning unit. But no one needs that box fan bragging incessantly about their perfectly functioning plastic blades.

So for all the women out there who have ever been told by a man that surely they don’t feel as bad as they actually do and by-the-way-have-I-told-you-about-my-own-perfect-health, just remember: you can’t expect Fred Flintstone to know how to drive a Tesla.

The Time Has Come.

It will be here in just a few days…

To be quite honest, after every single ArtWalk, I tell myself “I am NOT doing this again.”

It is most likely the most exhausting thing an introvert can do to herself.

But I always do it again anyway. Because I have a year to recover. Because I am a person of habit. Because I do enjoy it. And because it’s the biggest platform I have each year to help The WellHouse. This year will be my fourth Birmingham ArtWalk, and I am nervously anticipating the fun/exuberance/conversation/heat and sweat/weariness/delight that it will be.

And I desperately need YOU to come – so that the only people I’m talking to aren’t strangers. (And yes, if you read this blog, you’re not a stranger – even if we haven’t met yet. So let’s fix that.)

Because y’all – strangers are weird.

I’ve focused my ordering this year on specific customer-favorite prints, and have recreated them in many different forms – metal prints, pillows, note cards, bookmarks, coasters, postcards, notebooks, and more.

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I have redesigned my note cards and love the new look. I have a brand new 2017 set,

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And will also be selling my Alabama Wonders note cards,

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The floral set,

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And what I have left of the 2016 set.

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Oh – and somewhere safely hidden, I’ll have my extra-special roadkill note cards, as well.

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You know – for my  truest kindred spirits.

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Here are the details:

Friday, September 8th – 5pm-10pm
Saturday, September 9th – 10am-6pm
The show is free, and will cover many blocks of downtown. I will be in the Rogue Tavern parking lot next to 2312 2nd Avenue North – right down the block from Urban Standard, so you can get some fantastic coffee and come visit me.

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So you know what to look for, here’s what my booth looked like last year:

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All of my products will be on sale, and 100% of the profits are donated to The WellHouse to help rescue victims of human trafficking. So come by and pick up some fun Birmingham (or roadkill) products, and help save some women who very much need your help.

If you just can’t make it or you’re out of town and you don’t want to drive 12 hours to see me (how dare you!), here’s a coupon code for you – the coupon code VIRTUALARTWALK will get you 20% off everything in my shop online. If you can’t find what you want, let me know – I’ve been so busy getting ready for ArtWalk that I haven’t had time to fully update the shop – but I can create custom sales for you if needed.

Thank you all! I can’t wait to see/meet/talk to you/sweat with you.