Saturday, September 30, 2006

Most people who know me also know that I homeschool two of my nephews. Two days a week, the boys take enrichment classes at a "school" for homeschoolers called "Leaves of Learning." Three days a week are our "at home" school and two are our "away" days.

Today was a Thursday an at home day. We went through our spelling, some review work and did a two part play from Rare Catholic Stories and Poems. There were three parts---Thomas, the "Evil Advisor" of the title, Frank, the boy who does wrong and Father. The boy's real life Dad got home in time to take that part.

Jarrod read the part of Frank with a Swedish accent. Miah took the part of Thomas and the prompter. Each of his lines of dialogue were read like this: "Frank: What happened to the letter? Thomas. You talk, Thomas." We had a great time with the play and a lively discussion about picking the right companions.

Most Thursday nights we go to "Storytime" at the local library. This week turned out to be Fire Safety week. The firemen came with the Smoke House--a trailer set up like a play house with a fire alarm, escape window and a ladder the children can climb out of to "pretend" escaping from a fire. Usually, the firemen simulate a fire by using "fake" smoke. Miah informed me it's not really smoke. "It's just fog. You pretend the house is filling up with smoke and you have to crawl to the window and get out before you die." It was cold and rainy tonight, so the firemen couldn't use the fog. Everyone got a turn to listen for the fire alarm, crawl out the window and down the ladder.

Once back home, Jarrod remembered he has homework for "Leaves of Learning."
"I need to look up the Winkle Trio."

Never having heard of this particular topic, I searched. I Googled. I Asked Jeeves. We got lots of Winkles. Lots of Trio. No Winkle Trio. "Are you sure that's what you wrote down in your assignment book?" Unlike last year, we are stressing the importance of writing NEAT and LEGIBLE in the notebooks this year. Three weeks into the LOL year, we have hit our first glitch.

"Well," he decides, "I think it's Winkle Triple."

Ah, a minor spelling error. Surely there is something called a Winkle Triple. Do you know how many hits you get that have Winkle and Triple without being together? Clearly, we are not searching for the right topic. It's time for a question that might narrow down the search.

"What class is this for? What's it about?"

"It's something about a map."

I read the scribbles in the assignment book. Yes, I can make out the word, "map" three times. We're onto something here. The Winkle is there..but it is not trio or triple, it looks like Tripei. Is that a foreign country? Or is that slash after the e another letter? An L? An I?

Back to the search engines. Finally, one takes pity on me and asks: Are you searching for Winkel Tripel? Do I know? I press it and----oh, JOY! It is WINKEL TRIPEL--there is such a thing and it has to do with maps. It takes more research before we can find out what exactly it is because every page only wants me to buy a map. No one cares if I learn more about it.

Persistence pays off. A Winkel Tripel map is a map that shows the ROUND earth on a FLAT paper with minimal distortion. It was the creation of a cartographer named Oswald Winkel. It's probably one of those facts I could have lived without, but who knows?

If I ever make it to "Jeopardy," I might need to know about Oswald.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I never planned to write a blog. Ever. Until two of my persistent friends (names withheld to protect the guilty), decided I needed something else to do with my time. So here I am with a--gasp---blog. People can dress it up with a "fancy" word, as my Grandma use to say, but don't let anybody fool you. A blog is just a blank cyber sheet of paper you have to fill with words.

In order not to bore the reader more than necessary, I won't begin at the beginning of my life. (Although I am of the firm opinion a fair amount of boredom is a requirement in any life. If you are never bored, how do you know when you aren't?) Readers will not be given a recital that starts as Charles Dicken's did in David Copperfield: To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born.

So, where to begin? How about my reason for naming this blog, Layers of Life?

It's often seemed to me that my life is layered like a one dish casserole or a parfait. Living in a multi-generational household, finding time for writing, homeschooling, carpooling, day care and a thousand and one other things are the layers in my life. No day, just as no bite of a casserole, is ever the same. Around here, some days are chunk full of the meaty, melted cheesy, best bite you've ever eaten layers. Other days are the, yuck I got the burnt crust on the bottom with the hidden zucchini days.
While some blogs focus on one theme, I knew that would never work for me. I could never squeeze my life into a main dish or single entree' version. (And everyone thought all those hours I watch Food Network would never amount to any good!)

If you are one of those people who likes to read blogs where all the tidbits are in tidy separate compartments---like a tv dinner tray---you probably won't enjoy this.

But, if you think life should be layered like a yummy four layer dessert, then I hope you enjoy it. I can't promise whipped cream in every post, but there will always be another layer to try.