Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Algebra of Dating

I was driving around in the car the other day with my daughter, we were chit-chatting about this and that, nothing in particular. At one point, she looks over at me and asks, "How old do you think I will be when you and Papa will say it's okay for me to date someone that I like?"

Ok. Was not expecting that.
Think fast!
 I joking reply with the standard, "Thirty-five."

She's not having that. She replies, "No. Not a good answer. You can't say thirty-five. Because whatever age you say, like thirty five, I will get to that age and then you will just add five years. So it's more like whatever age+5=dating age for infinity"
I don't really see an issue with this particular equation, but I know this woman-child sitting next to me and I can sense that she is genuinely searching for an answer and she is not in the mood for further joking.

I asked her if there is someone she is interested in dating right now. (and hold my breath)
She tells me that there is not. ( I breathe again)
I think quietly for a moment and tell her that when she does come across someone that she likes in that way, maybe we could talk about dating then and what "dating" might mean for that age and what sort of expectations a partner might have and what our expectations/limitations might be. This satisfied her.

There is no algabraic formula for figuring out when you should date, for who you should date, just as there are no formulas for raising a bright shining star of a daughter. You just sort of have to look for guidance where you can and hope for the best. I really hope that I can guide her through these next years of her life. I want to teach her how to be true to herself, how to remain bright and bold, how to be safe, how to be independent, how to be Evelyn.

Friday, October 13, 2017


This is Liam Wayne Ao Zhuang Dillon and today October 13, 2017 he successfully completed reading his very first chapter book!

This is very big time stuff for him. He has struggled with reading for a long time. He loves books and stories, he actually has a very high level vocabulary and his comprehension of read materials whether he reads it or it's read aloud-is off of the charts, but it is the physical act of reading that gives him a hard time. 

You see he was born with his cleft lip and palate, and that directly affected his speech, which has directly impacted his reading and spelling. He is as smart as they come. He just doesn't process reading orally as fast as other kids his age. It is so nice to be able to sit with him, and concentrate for as long as he needs on a chapter, to really focus on the quality of the words and not the quantity. 

Everyday since school at home began he read a chapter aloud and then had to write three complete sentences about the chapter that he read. He would use the book as a reference for spelling and facts, he had to use "good handwriting". At first, he wasn't too sure about the whole idea, but now he loves it and looks forward to reading everyday. He likes to save reading for last so we have lots of time and he doesn't feel rushed. 

I was pleasantly surprised through this entire book with the different words he actually read correctly and how he seemed to know what larger words meant when we stopped him and asked him about the definitions. Word on the street is that he's very excited for the next book in this series (thank you Becca Salani for gifting these to him when we lived in New Jersey!). I have also informed him about the very popular "Hop to 25" a book log that Mama keeps for her students and when they reach 25, they get a special treat. 

So, here's to Liam, the newest reader-face of the Dillon Clan!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Essay by Evelyn Dillon

One of Evelyn's assignments this week was to peruse our poetry collection and find a poem that moved her, then turn in a five paragraph essay about that poem. This is the poem she chose and her subsequent essay.

I want to make poems that say right out, plainly,
what I mean, that don't go looking for the
laces of elaboration, puffed sleeves.  I want to
keep close and use often words like
heavyheartjoysoon, and to cherish
the question mark and her bold sister
the dash.  I want to write with quiet hands.  I
want to write while crossing the fields that are
fresh with daises and everlasting and the
ordinary grass.  I want to make poems while thinking of
the bread of heaven and the
cup of astonishment; let them be

songs in which nothing is neglected,
not a hope, not a promise.  I want to make poems
that look into the earth and the heavens
and see the unseeable.  I want them to honor
both the heart of faith, and the light of the world;
the gladness that says, without any words, everything.

The poem "Everything" by Mary Oliver leaves me thinking about how wonderful this poem is. I believe she writes this poem to tell the reader what she wants each of her poems to achieve, what impact on the world she wants the poems make, and what her poems are about. I wonder if she is proud of how well her poem can speak to people of different ages and strike them with wonder and curiosity, because she should be proud. 
She writes at the beginning of her poem, "I want to make poems that say right out, plainly what I mean,". By writing this, I believe she is explaining what she would like her poems to achieve. She wants them to achieve being straight forward in what she wants to say. Also in stanza one she states, "...and to cherish the question mark,". By this, I think she is trying to say she wants to always ask questions and learn, and maybes is trying to make the reader stay curious and ask questions too. She wants to continue to wonder about the world.
In stanza two it says, "I want to write while crossing the fields that are fresh with daisies and everlasting and the ordinary grass."and with this I supposes is saying what she wants her poems to be about. I think she is saying that she wants her poems to be about her traveling and appreciating the world around her, just like she appreciates daisies and the green of the "ordinary grass". Mary wants to take her readers with her on her journeys by describing through poetry to give them images of how she sees things . I also believe she would like her poems to be different from other poets.
Mary heart fully writes in stanza three, "I want to make poems that look into the path and the heaven and the the unseeable. I want them to honor both the heart of faith, and the light of the world; the gladness that says without any words, everything."By this, I think she means she wants her poems to say what other people miss. She wants to write about the overlooked things in life. To express things people under-appreciate.
Lastly, I believe she wants others to see the world in different ways, the poem "Everything"is about how Mary Oliver wants her poems to be like and how she wants to express herself, because the poem is very straight forward and the words she uses gives imagery and feeling, thoughts and emotions to the reader. My thoughts are that the poem shows how wonderful and fantastic she wants to be able to to be as she writes about to way she sees the world. The poem she wrote, I believe, she would love for it to import the world and help people see it from a different point of view and she should be proud of this poem, because I think it has achieved what she wants it to say.

The Brass Dragon Academy

In what may seem an abrupt change of events, because they totally were (in a way), we have taken the kids out of school and re-started our homeschooling routine. In lots of ways though, the decision was not abrupt and had been coming for quite awhile, it was just that final few things that tipped us over the edge that happened all in one weekend and we pulled the plug on Public School, got the kids back home and started our curriculum.

I want to go on record as saying that there are pros and cons to each type of schooling, but for us, homeschooling is what seems to be the best and what offers us the opportunity to be ourselves and the best version of the kind of family that we want to be.

Both of my kids were very stressed out in the public school setting, though they were each successful as measured by the system. The constant testing, the rigid schedules, the rules, the inability to use the restroom when Ev needed to (yes, this became a huge thing- if you knew Ev you would really get it), the fact that the better Ev performed, the more they expected. Liam had an IEP but we honestly could not see many results from the program, this was the second year in a row, he was on the Class Dojo system which uses that system of marking children for bad behavior, his love of reading was being smothered out of him. There were just lots of reasons. Also their bus ride was an hour each way so they had to be at the bus stop at 6 am in the morning and did not get home until 4 pm, so their day was technically longer than their father's work day. All of this and I haven't even discussed the social issues that they were facing- the racial insults, the bullying... My kids were miserable. We were all miserable. My family was suffering.

Luckily, my husband and I are in a position where we can do something about it. We could make a change for our kids. We could return to something that we knew, although not perfect, worked for us. We had never gotten rid of our homeschooling stuff. We had homeschooled before, so it wasn't like we were starting cold and were deathly afraid to do it. So we just... did it.

The difference in my kids on the first day of homeschool was palpable.

This is week 2. And yes, there has already been a few "attitudes". Like I said, it's not perfect. But, we love it. Liam is reading SO MUCH. Ev is writing and reading so much more. The history curriculum we have planned is going to be pretty in depth. Lots of Art planned (Ev has told me that I'm a better Art teacher than the one at her school was!) I'm very excited for our Science unit. Some not so fun things like Grammar and Spelling, but hey- that's life.

So, please wish us luck.
I'm going to need it.
I have an eighth grader and a third grader.