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too cool for school

Oh boy. When I arrived to collect V after middle school orientation, she and about fifteen other kids comprised the first wave of students to come streaming down the stairs. I met her in the hall. She said, "Let's get out of here before something else happens." Sounds promising.

Really, as she recounted the event, nothing much happened. There was a roll-taking that took some time. Then more people arrived and they repeated the whole thing. "Lame." They were admonished to keep their binders neat. Then there was the scavenger hunt, which appeared to bear the brunt of her scorn. First of all, "It wasn't even a scavenger hunt—it was a trick to make you learn the map of the school." And, worse than that, there were these three girls who were really little and acted like they should be going into second grade not sixth who took over and shrieked and ran around and acted stupid the whole time and they didn't even finish! Okay, I listened to this and all I could think of was V and her friends (some of whom are fairly little) who shriek A LOT and act like horses and fart at each other for fun. I said nothing, however, and was rewarded:

"There was this one girl who was okay. She showed up with a 7-11 coffee and carried it around with her. When the girls started up, she rolled her eyes and said, 'This is going to be a long year.' We walked around together." The coffee was a nice touch, I thought. I asked if she learned her name. "The first time I saw her name tag I though it said RATCHET." Later, she learned this was incorrect, but I hope this girl becomes a familiar character and she shall always be Ratchet to me.
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How Things Work

Selling cookies teaches her goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, to success, and to life.

    - GSA, 2013 Cookie Program Family Guide

"There's a blank here for my goal. I'm just gonna see how many I sell and put two less than that in here."

    - VS
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School day

She called me over to see a question included on her math review: The population of Ohio is 5,512,262 male and 5,632,156 female. Which type of graph would best show this data? a) line graph b) histogram c) circle graph d) pictograph

"Don't you wish I could write in Venn diagram?"

Of course I do. But the day got even better. She had a semester assessment for literature wherein she not only called Napoleon "feisty" but I got to read this:

Noah and Robinson Crusoe are alike because they are both guys who spend a lot of time away from the rest of the world. They are different because Robinson is adventurous and Noah just follows directions.
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general update

Victoria is fun to teach, when I can stop worrying about doing it wrong. Her test scores came back so high that I spent a couple of months wondering why she didn't exhibit any gifted traits--shouldn't she be very curious? Shouldn't she be asking questions, investigating stuff? She's a regular kid: she likes playing with other kids, reading, cats, horses, music, and keeping her room in ridiculous disarray.

During a normal week in addition to school work she does something with scouts, attends classes in Spanish, art, knitting, and gym, volunteers at a cat shelter, takes a riding lesson and then rides some more on another day (when she also helps out at the barn), and delivers a weekly newspaper. Right now she's also practicing for the Christmas play at church and she wants to take drum lessons--which is fine with me, I just need to shoehorn them into the schedule somehow. So it's not like she's idle all day, but there's nothing really challenging in there.

But back to the part where she's fun to teach: she is. Much of her written work includes a cartoon at the end either illustrating part of the lesson or editorializing with regard to the lesson's value (these are generally quite harsh). She has cartoons everywhere around the house. Some of them are funny, most of them I don't get. She reads widely, so conversations sometimes take weird turns--yesterday she was trying to lure a cat from behind some boxes by wiggling a string where he could see it. It worked, and I said I was surprised because this was not a playful cat. She told me she wasn't trying to play, she was trying to activate his SEEKING system (I know where that came from because I read the same book).

A couple of weeks ago I was reading over her shoulder while she read something online for school. The essay was about stop-motion animation and they mentioned a pioneer in the field, Ray Harryhausen. I said, "Harryhausen?!" and she immediately replied, "But it's impossible to get a reservation there!" Thanks to a shared bad cold years ago, we have both watched Monsters Inc more than a dozen times, but I don't know much about movies and had missed this joke until right then. So I found a copy of Jason and the Argonauts at the library and we watched it last night. I highly recommend this movie! It's not a super-accurate retelling of the golden fleece myth but it is a blast to watch.

Anyway, I think I could be doing something different to activate her SEEKING system, but I haven't figured out what that might be. In the meantime, things are pretty much ok and we both prefer doing school at home for now.
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Camp week and beyond

Last week Victoria went to scout camp. Her leader did a fantastic job putting the program together and all of the kids had a great time, even though the first few nights were extra exciting due to electrical storms. They swam a lot--each kid completed the requirements for the swimming merit badge, including the part where you jump in the water fully clothed and remove your pants to use as flotation assistance. They canoed. They shot rifles. They shot arrows. They climbed a climbing tower. They carved wood. They made a flower press and put things in it. They built fires with flint and steel. They saw Saturn through a reflecting telescope and practically nothing through a Galilean one. They learned CPR and first aid. No one has submitted receipts yet (guess who's treasurer...) so I don't know how much it will add up to, but the week was wonderful.

On Saturday we packed up right after breakfast and I took Victoria and a spare scout first to Bob Evans (V wouldn't touch the breakfast and the cereal option that had been available previously had been packed away--she was unbearably cranky) and then to the antique mall. They looked at old stuff for almost two hours and then I took them home. I give myself a prize for the fastest clothing and equipment clean-up of my life, noting that the bar was set pretty low to begin with.

The next day was animal blessing day at church, which is always fun. This time there were three tiny horses in attendance along with the huge band of dogs, two guinea pigs, a chicken, and one brave cat. If there is a drawback to animal blessing day, it is that the All God's Critters song is a very persistent tune; it keeps popping out of V and I'm not doing much better myself.

Today we took a couple of friends to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 at the dollar theater--which is a $0.75 theater on Mondays (that was a nice surprise). The friends are a very lively pair of siblings and I almost OD'd on poop, fart, and butt jokes on the short ride over--and I consider myself something of a connoisseur of the genre. Everyone behaved perfectly at the theater, though, and we returned some books to the library on the way home without incident. Back at the house, A asked me if I had his wallet. Of course I did not, so I called the theater. They had it, yay! We piled back in the car to retrieve the wallet and during this trip A managed to get gum in S's hair. That gave us something else to talk about on the ride there and back, yay again! We got back, peanut buttered it out of her hair and Victoria escorted them home.

Tomorrow we are going to Kings Island with a bunch of horse camp people. It's an end-of-camp-season thank you trip for all of the helpers. I could go to the park, but I'd rather just hang around Cincinnati if they don't need me beyond carpool duties.
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got it

I mentioned that Victoria has been waiting with diminishing patience for some tooth fairy action of late. I don't have a good excuse: every night she wants her bedroom door open until she has fallen asleep. So before I go to bed, I have to come into her room, turn off her wacky party lights, and shut the door. It would be a GREAT time to take care of this tooth matter. A couple nights ago she even said, "Look! You just take the teeth--they're in a bag! It's easy!--toss them in the trash and give me five bucks." (I'm sure you see what she did there.) I said, well, of course it sounds easy when you put it like that. Then I forgot again. And once more last night. Tonight I came *this* close to forgetting for the twenty-someth time when I discovered the note she had left on the door I needed to shut:
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May 2011

Victoria is having a heck of a month. She was disappointed not to hear back from the local paper after she sent them an unsolicited article about the cat shelter. I think they're dopes not to at least say thanks but no thanks, but then again she might have sent it to one of those big black hole email addresses. She doesn't hold a grudge though--she asked if they had a delivery route for her and they said yes. She is very excited about a paying job. It definitely beats waiting for the tooth fairy: her final two baby teeth are still under her pillow, have been for weeks. The tooth fairy in this house is pretty awful, right in line with SNP News.

Then the stable owner asked if she'd like to be a junior counselor for some horse camps this summer, to help with the really little kids. Of course she would! She's also camping with scouts for a week in August, and we're going to California soon, so summer looks good.

And she had a banner year at school. They test using the Scantron Performance Series and she showed improvement from October to May in both math and reading and is at the 99th percentile in both so yay. She's also doing a great job with her foster cats (we're on cat number three).

That's about it, unless I get started on the topic of her messy room. Probably better left alone.
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end of school year

We're wrapping up for the year, except for the stupid hours that are an utter fabrication and, you know, stupid. Things could be worse.

V went to a dance last week. A couple of kids at art were talking it up and she decided she wanted to go. We arrived earlier than her friend and she looked in the room at all the kids she'd never met and she was ready to bolt. We were back in the parking lot when D rolled up and saved the evening. She enjoyed the dance more and more as the evening progressed and now she can't wait for the next one.

I have a question, I don't know if anyone reading this would know the answer, but here goes: the last song of the night was Don't Stop Believing by Journey. Why did all the kids over the age of three know the words to this song? Is it a Spongebob thing or what? Very disturbing.

The theme of the dance was fashion. Kids designed their own clothes and had a fashion show toward the end of the night. A few girls had made duct tape dresses; V was interested in these. We bought some tape yesterday and she spent most of the day making wallets and other little things.

We have an interesting library situation going on at the moment. I read Michael Cart's Young Adult Literature a while ago. It was a lot of fun, giving an overview of trends in YAL by decade. Reading it, I realized that I had missed the last twenty years or so. Now I'm working on catching up. Meanwhile, V read The Princess Bride and decided it was The Best Book Ever. After rereading it a few times, she decided to read more Goldman.

Unfortunately, there's not much out there for her. The Color of Light was the only thing on the shelf, which is a pretty good story but not one that would grab a 9yo's attention. There were, however, one shelf over, a bunch of Monk novels--a set of mysteries based on the TV show. She'd never seen the show but a friend had enthused over it a few times. She loves these books now, so when we go to the library she goes to the grownup shelves and I go to the teen shelves. All the angst is starting to wear on me, I might be joining her soon.
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Remember your first Guinness Book of World Records?

And how you would read about the guy with the world's longest beard and need to share it with someone immediately? Remember how that person's eyes would go blank because this was the 14th fascinating fact you'd felt compelled to share in the past hour, and how this did nothing to halt your flow of words and insistence that the person also LOOK at this PICTURE?

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So far (we started the last week of August) this school year has been smooth sailing. I've finally got the hang of writing a plan the night before--something I would not expect to need for a single student, but it's hard to argue with success. Last year I tried to schedule the lessons Monday through Thursday so that we could use Fridays for gadding about, but we ended up using Fridays for catching up every week. This time we're getting our gad on and it's great!

The last week in September we camped with scouts the nights before and after the Renaissance Festival school day, which we attended. The weather was perfect and the kids had a great time. And this past week, V and I went to Cincinnati for a writing and storytelling workshop with Jim Weiss and then stayed overnight to go to homeschool day at the Newport Aquarium. Oh, and we hit IKEA on the way back but I will say more about that in my journal.

This weekend is Victoria's birthday, which is shaping up to be not-so-swell for me. I was looking forward to J coming into town, but Brian asked his mom to come along and now he has Jennifer all to himself for golf-playing on Friday and football-watching on Saturday (his mom is mobile, but not very). I'm thinking about heading east for Thanksgiving to recoup some progeny time. But I digress: we are planning a party and it will be a cat party. What else could it be? V lives from Wednesday to Wednesday, when she helps out at the cat shelter. I think it's going to be rainy on the day of the party, so we're planning indoor things. Still, it will be a madhouse if everyone shows up and there are 14 kids pinging off every available surface.

I'm still pretty happy with OHVA. The K12 (curriculum providers) online system was modified for this year and I can't say it's an improvement. It's slow at times and unavailable at others; that's the reason I started planning my day the night before, to have something ready in case the system was down. It has worked out for the best, I guess. This is the first year (3rd grade) we've had to take any sort of standardized test and the initial results were glowing for V. I didn't feel worried before I saw any numbers, but I guess there was some anxiety there because once they were in and better than acceptable I felt relieved somehow.