Last cannonball of summer

Okay. This is it. This is the no-fooling, grab it while it’s hot, last day of summer. Cannonball!


Today we went to the pool for the last day. We’ll laze about reading Harry Potter, and taking our last “light” summer day. (No, we still aren’t finished with history and geography. Yes, we will get finished–even if I have to build a time machine to do it!) And then we close the book on summer.

But even though summer is officially over, we aren’t starting school next week. Next week is the no-man’s land between summer and school. It’s the last week of preparation, the week I have to make those final choices that I tend to dither about, the dry-runs of the schedules, the 27 trips to the store for those “last things” I didn’t realize I needed or thought I already had, the reviewing of expectations, requirements, and rules. Oh, and we’ll go to the science museum before all the schools get their field trips going.

We’ll also spend some time purging and organizing. Everyone has the organizational scheme that works best for them. Since my children are, in fact, people, that means they need systems designed for them. Part of next week will be devoted to reviewing what has and hasn’t worked in the past and setting up for the year. Our schedule looks a lot different this year, so there will probably be a lot of tweaking in the weeks ahead. And I will get my desk and work area squared away or die trying. (In lieu of flowers, send donations to Hot Mess Anonymous.)

Anyway, no more summer. We’re focused on school and work and new adventures. Oh, what the heck. One last plunge.



First day of high school?

Little Miss is doing a rolling start on some of her classes, even though the Thompson Family Academy doesn’t officially start until September 1st (as God and J.K. Rowling intended). She actually started her online Latin class last week, but today was a really big day for her–and for me. Today I dropped her off at a local university model school for biology. While she has been taking orchestra at that school for the past two years, this felt different. This felt big. This felt like I should curl up and with her baby blanket and weep.

Behold! The Freshman!

high school day 1

The rest of the clan took a field trip to Hobby Lobby. Behold! Their stuff! Satchmo assembling his brush robot. Hopefully it can take care of the hole punch malfunction decorating our floor. (Listen, I’m a hot mess and so is my house. There’s no use trying to hide it.)

robot brush.jpg

Bulldozer posing and pretending to assemble his tin can robot, because we have to wait til dad brings home a tin can to complete it.

robot can.jpg

And Sprite doing what she’s done all summer: listening to audio books and crotcheting like crazy.

sprite's summer.jpg

I’ve still got more than a week before we officially start. Hopefully I’ll have that hole punch confetti up by then. Right now I’m going to adjust to being the mother of a high school student.

Weaker brothers (and sisters)

A passage that came to mind while yielding for pedestrians in the parking lot, from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:

I think I warned you before that if your can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought to at least be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn’t the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say ‘mass’ and those who say ‘holy communion’ when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker’s doctrine and Thomas Aquinas’, in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things–candles and clothes and what not– are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials–namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the ‘low’ churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his ‘high’ brother should be moved to irreverence, and the ‘high’ one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his ‘low’ brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility.

The message my brain was sending . . . don’t run people down with your scruples? What do you think?

Terrible Tuesday: last vestiges of summer

Lots of kids–homeschool, private school, public school, whatever else school there is (submarine school?)–are back to school this week or next. We’re holding on to summer as long as we can, even though Little Miss started one on-line class last week and starts a class at private school this week. This is the last full week of the pool being open, and we are going to enjoy every last drop of this summer or die trying.

Very light links because I’ve got to get to the pool!

Looking to learn a language? This looks interesting.

A teacher and mom’s perspective on online public schooling. I’ve always been a wary of K-12 type schools. They seem to combine the weakness of both worlds. Not that can’t work for some people. To each his own, and all that jazz.

Interesting video charting culture movement over time.

A nice compilation of cheese and alcohol combinations. If someone wanted to make me that margarita cheesecake that would be awesome.

It’s not shocking to me that someone would lie about an American icon, it’s just frustrating how willingly people are to believe the lie. Rockwell biographer is a lying liar who lies a lot. (Award winning!)

Eenie meanie minie moe, catch an armadillo by the toe. Some people have gophers, Texans have armadillo.

Not bad advice

One of the landmines parents have to walk through is teaching their kids not to tattle, but to always tell if someone is hurting themselves or others or going to do something that will end really badly for them. While my experience is that all kids will tattle occasionally, some kids are just natural tattlers. One of my kids (actually two) struggle with this more than the others, but I don’t think it’s a desire to get their brothers and sisters into trouble. . .usually. The issue for my kids is that they like order and rules and dislike chaos and rule-breaking. Particularly for my youngest, there is a way things are supposed to be done and when they aren’t done that way, he gets agitated. He even calls me out when I don’t do things “the right way.” He especially calls me out.

Last week we were having our 19th kajillion conversation about not tattling (in this case noting that his brother was playing and not cleaning) and the difference between tattling and appropriate reporting. This are confusing concepts for seven-year-olds, and frankly not that easy for forty-year-olds. My advice to him was to ask himself, “Why am I telling? What do I hope happens after I tell?” If he wants to help his brother or sisters, then he should tell. But if his goal is to get them in trouble, then maybe he needs to think about it more. I also recommended that he talk to them before he talks to me. There’s also Jesus’s words of wisdom, “What’s it to ya?”

Will it work for Satchmo? I have no idea. He’s devoted to black and white rules, and the nuances of the “when to tell” situations may be beyond him right now. But I did find another willing recipient of my advice: Me. I started asking myself these questions before posting on social media or on my blog, or even in my everyday interactions with family and friends.  What am I hoping happens? What are the results I desire or the message I want received?

I have a tendency to be flip and quippy. That can be amusing and fun, but it can also be hurtful or at minimum unhelpful in serious situations. I’m starting to ask myself, “What am I hoping to accomplish here?” So far, the result is I’m saying a lot less that I was before. And there’s a lesson in that, too.

Never give up! Never surrender!

I’m going to try to plant a fall garden. Emphasis on try. I thought you all should know.  Resources for fall gardening in Texas here and here. The Farmer’s Almanac has a nifty tool for best planting dates in your area. (Yes, I am crazy. Why do you ask?)


I know what you're thinking: What the heck is that thing on her head?

Shut up, hussy.

Let’s do this!


Today, our daughters get smart phones. Or smartish phones. While we’re not quite Amish, we tend to be late adopters when it comes to technology and our kids. Of course, compared to some of our friends, we’re cutting edge. I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

We’ve drawn up a contract using this ladies work of art as a guide. We’ve had lots of discussions. We’ll probably have more discussions. There will probably be a couple of fights, confiscations, reworking of the agreement, etc. So far it’s just a phone, not social media. I’m still very wary about social media for teens, primarily because I’m friends with some teens on Facebook and Twitter, and bless their hearts they can do some dumb things.

For a lot of reasons, I think this will be a good thing–not the least of which is that Cozi and other household/school management apps will be easier if they have smart phones. And I want them to mess up while we can help them right the ship. But I also know that kids don’t always have the judgement skills that keeps them from making the outstandingly stupid decisions that can ruin their whole lives. So handing them a smart phone is a little like handing them a loaded gun. They are smart and wise for their age, but their age isn’t all that wise to begin with.

Hoo boy. This is gonna be fun.
brace yourselves
If you have kids, when did you give them/plan to give them smartphones? When did you get your first smartphone?

Crappy news


I took Keaggy into the vet because his back leg is swollen and weird looking, although he’s walking fine on it. X-rays revealed that it’s cancer of his bone and joint. At 17, none of the long-term treatments are feasible–amputation or chemotherapy.  Right now, he isn’t walking funny, he’s eating, sleeping, and peeing on random things the same as always. We’re giving him some shots that will hopefully help him stay mobile longer and will treat his pain as it presents. (Diagnosing pain in cats is hard, but a big clue will be when he stops walking on that leg.) But ultimately, this is the beginning of our goodbye.

And it really sucks.


Cat herder, extraordinaire

One of my favorite Superbowl commercials happens to be an excellent metaphor for my life right now.


Right now I’m trying to get everything ready we can start the school year strong after Labor Day. Except we never really quit the last school year. We have just over two weeks to get through the last half of the 20th century and cover the entire western half of the US in geography. (Fortunately, that’s just 14 states. Still.) Little Miss has also been doing extra work so that she can join an online Latin 2 class, so she’s actually looking forward to the slower pace of the regular school year

A lot of homeschoolers say they school all year because then they don’t have to waste time reviewing, and they can take shorter breaks throughout the year. And that is all true. But it’s also because some of us (well, me) are constantly behind. Rationally, I know public schools never cover the entire curriculum and leave some things undone or skip some things. But even though I’m getting better at it, there’s still that annoying little voice that screams, “Gaps in their education! GAPS!” Ugh, I hate that guy.

I also have a bunch of extra meetings and training for some enrichment classes we’re taking at the private school. So finish up, get ready for homeschool, get ready for extra classes, sign up for all the extra-curriculars, buy all the stuff required for these endeavors, and feed and clothe the family to boot. I’m a little frazzled, so right now the kids are watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks as part of their World War II history covering the Battle of Britain. Don’t judge me. (Or do, I’m too busy to notice.)

So . . . are you ready for the new school year?


Back on native soil

And it’s good to be home. Oh, Texas, I love you.

“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word” – Author John Steinbeck.

Jack Texas

Pardon the blurry picture. My battery was dying, and Jack was not happy to be posing and was fidgety. He had Texas grass to smell!


Speaking of Texas, Oklahoma based Braums has registration for their reading program through September 12. (Nobody does non-sequiturs like Texans.)

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