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Thursday, February 19, 2004


My parents came out for the night Tuesday. The kids were glad to see them, especially L. My mother, a retired early childhood specialist, brought out some first grade reading primers and a Harcourt Science text for L. I know that she's reading ready, but I disagree with my mother that L "needs" to be in school. Yes, she's obviously lacking for some attention, but to just stick her in preschool seems to validate my theory that preschool is nothing more than glorified babysitting. L was in preschool for a short time over on the east coast when I wanted to spend more time on her sisters' studies. She enjoyed it, but her father and I were less enthused. There were bake sales, and pumpkin patches, and holiday parties, and being Snack Mom a week at a time. After notifying the office that she would miss school for some reason or another, we were still cross-examined upon our return. Ummm, I thought that since I was paying for it, in school or not, it shouldn't matter. Silly me.

Anyway, Grandma spent every minute reading to L, which was very nice. She loved every minute of it. I pointedly ignored the See-what-a-great-job-I'm-doing-you-need-to-spend-more-time-with-her looks I kept getting after L correctly responded to every comprehension question posed by my mother in her sing-song elementary school teacher voice.

What really amazes me is how much L adores my mother. The other two were never overly affectionate towards her, and now can see through most of her pretense, but L just LOVES her Grandma. Again, this is the child that she believes is payback for my childhood. If one was a conspiracy nut, one might wonder.

L is very bright (her first word at 11 mos. was "coconut") and will probably begin to read, like her sisters, at an early age, without any pressure from me. A preschool is certainly not going to encourage her to read. Why go then? My mother's defense is that she needs school to learn, and that little ones learn through play. True, but she has that ability here. I must try and remember that my mother comes from an era where parents believed school was the only place for a child to be. After all, if it was good enough for her...


I spent my free time rethinking my plan for next year and organizing my history studies on the computer (in between the You-spend-too-much-time-on-the-computer-no-wonder-your-little-one-runs-away looks from You Know Who.) This time around we'll be using A History of US as our spine for American history, supplementing with George Washington's World and Abraham Lincoln's World for a world history view, all of which are already on our bookshelves.

Much of my extensive book list has been pared down, since A History of US sufficiently covers topics that I initially thought needed additional reading material. Tapestry of Grace worked out OK for us this year, but I never maximized its potential and the additional expense could best be spent elsewhere. I also want to include more literature than TOG recommends and return to Write With the Best, which I already own, rather than TOG's writing, which I was not crazy about.

This looks to be a cheap year.


Trying to finalize my plans for our end of the year, giant Colonial America field trip. My parents will be traveling up north with the girls and me. My father loves visiting historical sites, She Who Must Not Be Named is a big stick-in-the-mud, but will be useful in helping to manage the baby.

Our itinerary so far:

St. Augustine
Philadelphia - Independence Hall/Liberty Bell
Boston - Freedom Trail
Plimoth Plantation
(maybe Nantucket and/or Martha's Vineyard, just for the heck of it)

We have family in Boston, Salem and Cape Cod, so the schedule's skewed to spend time visiting those places. We'll also spend some time with my brother in NJ, visiting museums in NYC and on the return trip plan to see:

Mystic Seaport
Washington DC
Mount Vernon

and hopefully, Greenville

Greenville is the tobacco plantation that my father's family established in Virginia in 1753 after receiving the land as a crown grant. They lived there for more than 100 years, through the Revolutionary War, where my ancestor bought his way out of the fighting by sending someone to fight in his place, being the Loyalist he was, right on up to the beginning of the Civil War. My great-great grandfather, the last generation raised there, moved to Baltimore after the death of his father and ended up supporting the north, receiving a commission as a naval engineer in the Union Navy. My parents have his commission and sword on display in what my brother affectionately calls, the Tacky Museum.

Years ago on a past trip up the coast, I was able to locate it, but didn't have time to do any in depth research. There is supposed to be a family plot somewhere on the property, which at that time was still being operated as a farm, but may now be a housing development. The present house was built in 1860 by the next owner. It is a magnificent old ruin and you can almost see the ladies in hoop skirts twirling around, although as the war progressed, that area saw intense fighting and I don't know if the new owners ever spent much time in the house. I'd like to find out if the 'new' house was built on the foundation of the old, and if not, where that was located. The kitchen building is still out back, but I didn't see any evidence of slave cabins. Last time, I brought some pictures back for my dad, but I'd love to take him to see it and find the family plot.

Trying to schedule this trip so that we don't hit Spring Break or summer vacation.


Tonight we are in for a special treat. Our neighbor, the one L went AWOL to the other day, and who eerily resembles my mother, is a professional folklorist and storyteller. She is heading up to an annual storyteller meeting in Orlando next week before embarking on a tour of their local public schools, and wants to practice her story on the girls. We'll be enjoying an Uncle Remus, Brer Rabbit tale. Fun!


Since we took the island off the market, we've received three offers. One good one and two full-price. G is willing to consider them and we may have a bidding war on our hands. The contract for the big house doesn't officially expire until the end of this month, even though we notified the seller that the deal was dead, so we could still end up moving in that direction. G wants to take the money and run if it's an easy deal.

I don't care either way at this point. Whatever works for him. I just want to feel some permanency.

I watched The Hours last night. The woman defends her decision to leave her life and family in the 'burbs saying, "That was death, I chose life." As stultifying as our option to move back to civilization may seem, I'm looking at it as an opportunity to have a base and do some traveling. I choose life too, even if I'm destined to be surrounded by pea-brains. We have standing invites from friends to visit their homelands in Turkey and India and we'd finally have the ability to take them up on their offers. Plus, next week my dear nieces will be moving to England for two years.


As I've mentioned before, education has never been a priority with my ex-sister-in-law. She is planning to have her girls attend an American school in London. Why? Because they may not be able to understand their teachers and because they don't know the metric system. Huh? Does she not realize they speak English in England?! I could see if they were going to a country where they were unfamiliar with the language, but even then, what a great opportunity for immersion! And the metric system, that's even easier than our own. (sigh)


I tore through The Da Vinci Code, what a fun story that was! I am now very interested in symbology and I must go visit the Louvre one day, not to seek the Grail, just to admire its fabulous architecture. Just a quick trip through the Chunnel...