And now…it gets real. As in, with this weekend up until Christmas….whirlwind. Lots of stuff going on, but fortunately my role in most of it is check-writer and driver, which I don’t mind.
Travel? One, maybe two Nashville day trips, depending on the timing of a birthday party I’ve heard is in the works for next weekend. I would like to take them to see this production of As You Like It, but would also like time to prepare the boys for it, so this weekend would be too soon, since I had no idea this production was happening until about an hour ago.
When your 9-year old complains that his abs ache from the homeschool boxing workout and then goes to play with his snake, you kind of wonder how we all got to the place we are, whatever that place is.
Speaking of snakes, we’re relieved to report that Rocky ate. Finally. Yup, that’s right. We’ve had him for over two months, and he had not eaten up to last week. I had been assured by The Experts On The Internet that as long as he wasn’t losing weight, it would be fine, that ball pythons can go months without eating, etc., but honestly it was getting ridiculous, and his owner was starting to really worry and have bad dreams about his snake dying, so we took a deep breath, gave up on the frozen/thawed rodents (I’d gone through a pack of two dozen, and tried everything recommended to get him to eat…he just looked away and slithered in the opposite direction, no matter what), and went and bought a live one. That is, a mouse. Alive.
Are you horrified? Well, sorry. It’s not my favorite thing, but here we are with this snake THAT MIGHT LIVE FOR THIRTY YEARS I’M TOLD and it needs to eat, and in the wild, well, they eat living things. And I guess since I almost, you know, lost him, I probably owe him a shot at nourishment. There are, however strong feelings about this issue on both sides in the herp community, with some feeling very strongly that feeding live rodents to snakes is, among other things, dangerous for the snakes – they could be injured by the prey. This seems to be more of a risk with rats, who are meaner and have sharper and larger teeth and claws. I’ll just say that the mouse…didn’t fight back. I admit, I was so used to Rocky rejecting food that I was shocked when he struck, and not just because a snake strike is so blindingly fast.
Of course…he was probably pretty hungry.
(My thought on this is that Rocky was probably only fed live by his breeder – we bought him at a reptile show, and these fellows had a lot of snakes. It seems to me it would be a major hassle to feed dozens of snakes with frozen/thawed feed – you have to thaw them, then warm them up so that the, er, prey, exudes some heat that will hopefully make the snake believe it’s alive. To do this for a slew of snakes, all the time? Nah. A lot easier, I’m guessing, to feed them live and be done with it…)
(Can you believe I even know anything about it? Pretty crazy. Well, life is all about learning and growing, I say….)
(I will also say that since we’ve had him, Rocky has shed – and that suppresses their appetites as well. It was really very funny. I had noticed the snake’s eyes changing color from their normal black to a greyish blue, and that he wasn’t coming out of his hide even at night. I knew that these were signs that a shed was on the horizon, and I can’t forget the day I pointed this out to Michael. “Look at his eyes,” was all I had to say, and he did and he JUMPED up and down in ecstatic joy and raced around the house. “YES! HE’S GOING TO SHED!” We didn’t actually see it happen – we off somewhere – Charleston, I think – and when we returned ,there was the skin, now proudly displayed among various rocks, minerals and Mayan memories….)
So, er, what else? Education in the Home is chugging away just fine. Herpetology, obviously. Piano lessons have begun again, the extra music theory class has begun, boxing class was experienced and will continue for at least a few more weeks despite the aching abs, art class is happening. Math, check, Logic, check, cursive, check. We buzzed through the Brave Writer work on The Cricket in Times Square pretty quickly and I think we’ll do Farmer Boy next. I have the Greek book, but haven’t started it yet with him – next week. He’s working through this workbook called Meet the Great Composers. He spends a lot of time every day reading through library books about various historical and scientific subjects. Homeschool science center classes begin in a couple of weeks.
Many, many rabbit holes, as per usual. Some are just built into the discussions. He practices extra math by working out the ages, for example, of the composers. We have the atlas out anytime we read, tracking cities and countries. We have an ongoing list of challenging spelling words that he’ll learn over the week, pulled from all the different things he’s studying and reading – this week, ranging from “parallel” and “perpendicular” to “Baroque” to “shrieking” (from The Cricket)
And the videos. For example Smarter Every Day. This guy who does the Smarter Every Day videos – actually lives in (or around?) Huntsville, I discovered. This video about jellyfish stinging mechanisms was fantastic.
And I admit, having others that I trust educate the eighth grader? A relief. Not because he was difficult…not at all. But just because they’ll do a fine job, and it’s good for him to be there with others, both peers and adults. He’s also so accustomed to the warp and woof of our Teachable Moment Home that he doesn’t object at all when I, er, enhance what he says he’s learning with a video here or a book there or that we are still doing our Shakespeare memorization, albeit at a slower pace. I have no idea what will happen for high school (I’d like to homeschool/roadschool 9th grade, but he’ll probably have his own opinions on that) yet, but we’re good for now.
Speaking of homeschooling, as we often do, at one of the special classes this week, I chatted with a woman who pulled her 4 school-aged kids out of a Catholics school and is homeschooling this year. Why? Nothing bad about the school, which is fine in every respect. But, as she said, “They were doing homework until 9 and 10 every night, every weekend was all about projects, and the school was taking over our life. We had no family life.”
This week’s exercise podcasts?
On the recommendation of a friend, I listened to this episode of This American Life – about a North Carolina doctor who seeks the truth about his predecessor in the clinic where he works, a man who murdered his own father. It was certainly absorbing, but there was one element that bothered me – I can’t really go into it without spoiling the twist for future listeners, but if you’ve listened to this one (or read the transcript), let me know in the comments.
(I used to listen to This American Life all the time, but I stopped, I think because Ira Glass’ vocal mannerism started grating on me. Or maybe I just preferred Fred Armisen’s version instead…)
I read My Two Italies, a memoir of a scholar of Italian literature born of working class Calabrian parents. The “two Italies” are, of course, his parents’ southern Italian background and the Italy represented by his more cultured intellectual pursuits. There is another key personal detail that I think is the core of the book, but gets mostly overwhelmed by not-quite relevant material – that is, until the very end, which is quite moving. It feels like a good, meaty Atlantic or New Yorker article expanded to book length, to the material’s detriment.
I have just started The Restoration of Rome, a new history that is getting slammed on Amazon party because of informality in the writing, but the premise of which – the popes did what the later emperors were unable to do – intrigues me, especially as articulated by a contemporary historian. So I’ll forge on.
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