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Saturday, September 24, 2005

"I miss homeschooling" and other random thoughts

It's been a manic week. I've been bouncing back and forth between wanting to quit work (I hate feeling inept. Learning new things is always a challenge, but I'm experiencing enormous frustration as I'm the only one who can't figure out the complicated floor-duty "up person" arrangement, or remember which property belongs to whom and who is buying it and how many square feet it is and how much it costs and where the damn file is...) and gaining enthusiasm for the job (with two listings and one contract under my belt, the boss threw me and my partner ten off-island lots to market and share a commission on -- CRUMBS!)

Then I noticed that the librarian at my favorite haven is retiring and I realized that this was the perfect job for me: Spending my time in an elegant building, with a jewel of a garden, among the thoughts and words of the great minds, continuing to homeschool, contributing to the community, keeping Elle eligible for attendance at her school... Serendipity! I drafted a beautiful presentation in my head that night before going in to announce my interest in the position. Then I spoke with Miss B. She asked if I had an MLS. I hesitated for one long, dreadful moment then began to giggle. I spluttered that, no, I did not have a Master of Library Science degree, but in my present circumstances, MLS means Multiple Listing Service. She later came into the children's reading room, out of earshot of her employee, to explain that the MLS was not a requirement, just something the board would like to see, but the real tough part of the job is the hours. In season, November through May, it's a seven-day-a-week job, because although the library is only open weekdays to the public, there are weekend art shows and weddings scheduled. Out of season, the Monday, Wednesday, Friday operation requires that you squeeze in your vacation on weekends only. There is no regular vacation time, and no other benefits. She confessed that as honored as she is to have run this library for the past four or five years, she is leaving because she would like to have a life again, and she doesn't have any children at home either... So, that was that. I'm big on vacations. Even if they're only sprawling across my couch on weekends with a good book.


Gracie, who enjoyed an excellent preschool and Kindergarten at a small Catholic school back in Hollywood, and who adored her teachers, has decided that she loves her new school and teachers even more than her first thoroughly positive institutional educational experience. And, get this, she even told me recently that it's, "Kind of like homeschooling." With the first through fifth graders sharing two connected rooms, children are grouped by ability and share the resources in both areas. The morning routine, Pledge of Allegiance, and announcements are done in the separate Kindergarten classroom, so she gets to visit briefly with her sister after an early morning romp on the playground. The entire school, all 38 or so students plus their teachers, eat snack and lunch outside in the yard under a pavilion. So just like at our homeschool group meetings, and real life, Gracie is mixing it up with children of all ages. That's probably what she was referring to, but I'm going to believe it's because she's having as much fun as she did at home with me. Harrumph.

She is such a motherly child, even more than your typical ten year old girl -- she's been Elle's little mama from the day Elle arrived home -- that she relishes being the oldest girl in the school and cares very much for the smaller kids. Of course the teachers are thrilled to have her. The charter has the ability to add grades each year starting with sixth and continuing up to eighth, but no one is expecting that to happen next year. Too bad.

Academically they're a bit behind where we were in math and grammar, and just like homeschooling, Gracie hasn't cracked her science book yet, but her spelling and writing continue to improve. There's a lot more playground time, art, and music than most public schools have time for, almost more than I'm comfortable with, my first impression of it a few years ago when I checked into it, "too summer campy," but it seems to be a good fit for the time being. Definitely a confidence booster. She's been occupying her time on the long drives to and from school by working crosswords in the morning and completing her homework in the afternoon. She also insisted I buy her a recorder, not a requirement since the school provides them for the students' music lessons, but because she is so enthusiastic that she wants to practice at home too. I am typing to the tune of "Hot Cross Buns." For now, she's happy and so am I.

Next year is a major concern, though. The problem is not Sarabelle entering high school, but Gracie entering middle school. The middle school is crummy, and as we all know, it's a pathetic waste of time. The basics have (hopefully) been taught in elementary school and advanced material is (again, hopefully) covered in high school. Middle school is babysitting and a breeding ground for bad behavior. Jorge advised me to push through until we finalize the purchase of our new house and we get to the end of the season when I can retire from my obligations to help Broker Buddy, which also coincides with the end of the school year and our residency visas' expiration, and then we'll reevaluate.


The orange house apparently closed yesterday, as we did not receive any troubling phone calls from our agent at the law firm, so we're nearly there; one down, one to go. We can still make the new house deal happen without the additional sale of our four-acre piece, but it will be a lot easier to do if it sells first. That's what I'm working on now.


My two reluctant sleepers, roommates, have come up with a wonderful bedtime routine which sends them both quickly off to sleep and best of all, keeps them in their own beds all night long. Elle found a very bright night light she uses next to her bed and Gracie has a small CD player at the foot of her bed that she plays classical music to fall asleep by. Handel is the current selection.


Here are a few links I've been looking at this past week:

72 Hours. Smart.

Life Line Screening, an affordable, mobile service that benefits those of us without insurance or regular doctors.


Last week I noted the ten books that have shaped my life. Other major media that made a lasting impression include Disney's 1960 version of Swiss Family Robinson (oh, how I longed for a treehouse with a giant clamshell sink) and Gilligan's Island. That's where my deep desire to live on a wild tropical isle comes from. I don't remember identifying with any particular character, but as I look back, the similarities between Bush Senior and Mr. Howell may have swayed my vote. Rest in peace, Little Buddy.


With the new hyperactive hurricane season, it's possible that we may still have a Greek year without homeschooling.

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