Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day

Pausing a moment to remember that Memorial Day weekend is about more than the cookout and trip to the beach...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Three spirit-crushing stains...

...and how to lift them.

So reads the title of a little blurb in May 2010's issue of Real Simple magazine. On page 210 they give tips for the following three "spirit-crushing stains," and--in the spirit of 'this is as good a place as any for me to file something'--I post them here for my (and possibly your) future reference.

Let's hope we actually never need them!

Courtesy of Real Simple magazine, May 2010 edition:


1) Immediately blot and reblot with a cool, damp sponge until no more color comes out. (You can do the rest after the guests leave.)

2) Spray with a mixture of equal parts water and 3% hydrogen peroxide (first test of colorfastness).

3) Let sit for a few minutes, then blot with a solution of one part white vinegar to three parts water. Blot again with a damp cloth. (Linen, silk, velvet, and wool sofas should be professionally cleaned.)


1) Layer a few cotton cloths over the stain, cover with a plastic bag, and top with a couple of heavy books to soak up the liquid. Repeat until the cloths are no longer wetting through.

2) Apply an enzyme-based cleaner, such as Nature's Miracle ($8.50,, to an area twice as big as the stain.

3) Let sit for five minutes, then blot. Next, spray with equal parts white vinegar and water and let sit for 15 minutes; rinse with water and blot.


1) Using a soft cloth, rub in a lemon oil-based furniture polish, going with the grain. Repeat.

2) Spot still there? Use a cotton swab to dab rubbing alcohol onto the stain; rub with a cloth.

3) Wait five minutes; blot and repeat. Follow with furniture polish to restore moisture to the wood.

I really love this magazine! To get your own free preview issue, go here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kids bowl free!

Kids bowl free all summer!

For a one-time fee of $24.95, up to four adult family members may join them... two games per day, any and every day.

Of course, standard shoe rental rates apply -- and there are the snacks and food which are screaming at them from the snack bar -- but the bowling itself is free.

We haven't ever taken our kids bowling, but it could be fun to show them that they aren't quite as pro as Wii Bowling might make them think they are. I remember being a kid and trying to make that stupid ball hit those stupid pins without rolling into that stupid gutter.

Everyone should have to live through that. It is like learning to hit that stupid softball.... trying to get back upright on a flipped jet ski when there are two of you... learning to stay up while parasailing... trying to ride your bike with your hands down by your sides... figuring out how to catch the wave and ride the boogie board all the way to the shore... mastering Heelys... finding that sweet spot on the backboard so the ball actually goes into the net every time...

This list is endless. What did you have a hard time mastering, but finally got it? Or didn't - like me with the bowling thing - but had a lot of fun trying?


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Do we really have time not to?

As my kids have gotten older and their scholastic workloads have gotten heavier, it has gotten increasingly difficult to fit into their homeschool days all the things I want them to be able to do. I have long said that overworking our students is a notorious problem of us homeschoolers, who don't have the built-in parameters and time limits of the typical public or private school day.

Even if you get special permission from the school for your child to skip lunch ("Now that's a healthy practice for efficient learning," she says sarcastically), high school students these days typically can only fit in between five and six courses per year, no matter how full they stuff their schedules. Once you've covered the "requisite four" of English/language arts, math, science, and history/social studies, this leaves only 1-2 spots for electives. All electives.

The foreign language required for 2-3 years to be able to graduate, and recommended for 4-5 years for college-bound students, usually takes spot five. This typically leaves one more spot, if you're not willing to stop eating lunch in order to take more classes.

One more spot. One.

Band? Art? Drama? Chorus? Home economics or "shop" (insert whatever PC terms they're using in any given year for these decidedly non-PC, old-school names)? How about the less traditional, specialized electives like marketing? fashion design? The specialized academies like the School for the Arts? legal academy? math and science academy? international baccalaureate programs? AP coursework? Dual-enrollment?

It is enough to make your head spin. And there aren't enough hours in the public school day to fit in all the things you might want to study. (As I said earlier, we homeschoolers have to make sure we don't overload our students, who have more scholastic time on their hands during our time-efficient days and who have no built-in parameters as to the number of courses they may take in a given year! But that is a subject for another post.)

This post is about the not-so-obvious omission from the list... so neglected these days by most high school students as to be completely void from most teens' scholastic days... Did you even notice its absence? PE. Physical education. Getting outside. "Working out."

These things are known to be crucial to our health, both physically and emotionally. They strengthen our bodies and our minds. They help us burn stress. They help us think better.

And yet they've been entirely eliminated from most high school students' days. They are no longer "required" subjects, and as such are not taken. Who has time with all those other things scrambling for the spot?

I just read an interesting article that has me thankful that my kids are still overloaded with PE in their days. Their grandfather, a real workout buff even in his sixties, faithfully comes over three times a week and works them out, hard, for about an hour. Recently I've pledged to join them. Why? Because as much as I've thought I need the time that they're occupied elsewhere for my teaching and housekeeping duties, I need the physical activity more. Just like they do, I need to burn some calories and stress and get moving in order to be more productive and fruitful throughout the rest of my day.

The next question raised by this article is whether we need to move it earlier in our day...