So I don't teach until October, and I've told my chair and others so many times that I'm taking some time off before then that it's clear that I'm the one who really doesn't believe it. I really need to just put the vacation responder (or whatever they're called) on my email and be out. I did just hand off a responsibility I've really hated for a while now. Maybe not the best moment to discharge the duty -- right when my tenure binders are being reviewed -- but I'm delighted anyway. I do need to prep my fall classes -- the coursepack deadline is absurdly early now that another change has been made for financial reasons at my university. I haven't decided what I'll do about it. I know there is another company that could put together a coursepack. Or should I just place the frigging articles on electronic reserves at the library? Why shouldn't I do that? Any opinions? Obviously, I'm missing something here because I think that might be for the best. We do coursepacks usually because we want students to have a physical copy to bring to class, right?
Frankly it strains my brain to think of work right now so I'm out of step with most of the academic bloggers I'm reading -- that is, probably, you. Instead of work, I've been looking a lot at different homeschooling resources around our new town. I don't want us to spend all our time in the car, but AC is really going to need to see his friends and make new friends. He already said he missed his old school -- and when I asked whether it was the teachers or the friends, he said the friends.
So now he is with me during the day when most kids are in school. People we encounter ask him whether he's been to school today, and he's figuring out to say that he homeschools. But people seem to pick up that he is bright, probably because he is so articulate. A 20-year teacher took one look at him and said he'd be very advanced. It's funny to me in these moments when people see me as a homeschooling mom and don't know I'm a professor. But it seems weird to mention it. Just like I'm now on these various online groups -- and it seems rude to introduce myself to other homeschooling families as a professor somehow but it's also a big part of who I am and shapes my orientation toward education and what I believe is important to student learning.
Similarly, I feel weird writing this here -- and I rarely say this to other parents, but AC is gifted. I wish there were another word, I really do, because it doesn't always feel like such a gift. He's stubborn and smart and articulate. (I love these things about him, but he is also just exhausting because he is on all the time!) He loves numbers and is obsessed, I think to an unhealthy level, with the racing cars of the movie Cars. He memorizes long strings of dialogue and repeats them back to himself and us. And at time he seems way above himself in understanding, but then he is also confoundingly a five year old and clingy in ways that he probably should've outgrown, showing his asynchronous nature. He barely eats anything but peanut butter and grilled cheese and various snacks, including popcorn, but knows to refuse anything that's not organic. Parenting and leading a child to learning (clunky but better than "schooling" with its Foucauldian and hidden curriculum overtones -- I distinctly do not want to "school" my child) who is gifted comes with its own special challenges. So I'm on a bunch of gifted and homeschool and local groups now. AC's classes start the week after next, and AP will be home then, so the homeschooling will really start then. Right now, we only do things on and off. I'm really encouraging AC to read to me -- he can read, but I think because of his eyes (convergence issues that we hope to address very soon with vision therapy) it's difficult, especially if the font is too small or the words too close together. He read five pages of Frog and Toad to me, so that's pretty good. I told him if he did one more page each day that he'd be reading whole stories in no time. We'll see if he's motivated by that. And we also did a chapter of Life of Fred, this wonderful story-based math book. (AC is already advanced in math and loves it. His math is about two years ahead of his grade. We just started LOF so it's not at all challenging to him and he is not very interested. I try to remind him that if we go faster, we'll eventually catch up to his understanding. It doesn't motivate him much.) But most of the drama in the house this weekend has to do with AP's amazing handyman abilities, fixing a door, buying me a nozzle thing, doing other stuff, but ultimately not being able to get the kitchen sink back into order after I-have-to-admit-I-don't-really-know some kind of project.
Even this and a beautiful 70-degree day after many hot humid days with no air conditioner did not get me out there to get the weeds out of the garden bed. I just cannot get up the energy and I can't figure out whether it's physical (I'm taking a bunch of supplements, eating pretty darn well except for portions, and have exercised several times in the last 10 days) or mental (maybe my outlook just sucks and my setpoint is miserable which is why I'm reading The Happiness Project.)
In any case, I'm going to have to take pictures of these plants that are here and post them for a second opinion because I think they are hostas, but that just can't be because no one would plant hostas in a Southern-facing garden bed with the house right behind it keeping it hot and nothing to block the blazing sun except the occasional summer thunderstorm. Right? There are hostas right next to some kind of succulent flowering thing. I'll have to post that too. It's very confusing. My tomato and purple pod bean plants are not doing well. They are basically just burning up with all the sun. I've always rented and borrowed shade gardens (except at the apartment, where I had the problem of no way to shield plants from too much light, like here), but now, here I am, on my own land that is basically just flooded with light. Today I discovered that there are some shady parts of the backyard beyond the pond, but there's still a big sunny area where a number of raised beds could go, all lined with wire because our place is studded with holes, and we've seen a number of whistlepigs (AP's favorite name for groundhogs) just lolling in the grasslands that our lawn has become. (We're waiting to hear back from the lawn guy I found because we are obviously not going to be able to get a big riding mower this season, and anything else would take an impossible amount of time.) And we have to think of how to irrigate those raised beds because that's a far way from the house. What I was thinking of doing is something like having the chicken house back behind the pond and then we could do a rainbarrel or two off the chicken house roof and then we irrigate with that, even using drip irrigation lines, if that will work, since doesn't a rainbarrel work through gravity? Oh I don't know. I'll have to learn all about this stuff. What lovely problems to have. I'm very lucky.
So I'm thinking that this weird time, when I'm still eating vegan (but not losing weight because while mountains of tortilla chips may be vegan, they are certainly not healthy), is the perfect time to experiment with no-poo. Y'all know about this, about the arguments against chemicals in shampoo, and the no-shampoo method of washing your hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar? My hair is so full of muck right now (just residue of this organic shampoo I use) that in a different life, I'd be thinking VO5 Hot Oil Treatment. Do you remember how messy that was? In fact, I rarely did the whole VO5 thing -- I remember a bag was involved -- instead I did some other VO5 product that sort of refreshed my hair. Anyway, whether I go no poo or not, I'm thinking a baking soda and apple cider vinegar wash and rinse would be good for my hair right now. Something! Anything! And I'm so sporting the Jewish frizz 'fro halo in this humidity. I don't know that baking soda, etc. will do anything about that, but it's worth a shot. A friend of mine posted a pic of her hair after going no-poo and even on Facebook it looked gorgeous and soft. Now I'm not one who can just hear baking soda and apple cider vinegar and know exactly what to do, so I'm grateful that there are bloggers who spell everything out, like this one. But my hair has never been hair that can keep a style for ten minutes much less two days (lucky people out there!), so I also looked at this one and her alternative herbal conditioner that seems heavenly, since I'm often one of those freaky people who don't fit in, especially if it has to do with hair. (Must be my mongrel background.)
I may engage in this mess-making experiment tomorrow or the next day. The blog says to have the baking soda in a mug, but then where is the apple cider vinegar when you're washing your head, not hair? It's fuzzier on that. My apple cider vinegar from the local organic apple orchard is in the fridge. Is it still good enough for my hair? I guess it should be in a small bottle since I'm only to use a couple teaspoons, it seems. New project. I will report back.
Rosh Hashanah is coming up, which bends my brain. I can't find challah anywhere near here, much less a round loaf for the High Holy Days. Should I bring AC into some kind of celebration? Rosh Hashanah is not important to me for AC to experience because it's such an adult holiday with its introspection and reflection. I better get on that actually. Time has just whooshed by. Really I'd just like to do Shabbat properly, with a challah and wine in our new house. At some point. But pushing to do things for Rosh Hashanah may be too much. But it totally wasn't even on my radar until I saw a Rosh card in Barnes and Noble (which I'm grateful to see as a minority in these pretty-Christian parts) and then What Now really reminded me. I will try to keep it in mind.