Bibble : “Your Highness, I will stay here and do what I can…They will have to retain the Council of Governors in order to maintain control. But you must leave…”
Faux Queen Amidala : “Either choice presents a great risk…to all of us…” (looks at Padme)
Padme : “We are brave, Your Highness.”
Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
So here we are, ready for the summer. Internet service is back up and running, which is merely a sign of my weakness and internet-junkie status. My original plan was to put off internet service in the apartment until fall giving us all a chance forcing us to really jump into life in Des Moines. Yeah, I know. Dry your eyes, the tears of laughter sting when they make a path for sunscreen to get into your eyes. The reality is, despite the fact that we have a free (albeit s.l.o.w.) wifi hotspot just below us, we use our wifi connection far more than even I ever realized. Google Maps, search engines, the white and yellow pages for everywhere, community events calendars, weather.com, our Netflix queue, email, Facebook, iCubs game times, coffee shop hours, you name it – we use the internet to access them all.
And to make the siren song of the internet just that much more enticing, we bought an internet ready TV back in early May since our old television set gave up the ghost back in March just a few days shy of Dad Windu’s move to Des Moines. Poor guy made good with our 20 inch (and 20 yr old) set for two months, but it was time for us to get him a Big Boy television set since it wouldn’t even connect to the DVD player and he’d watched all our old VHS tapes (some more than once). So we got a “small” 40 inch, internet-capable HDTV – did you know those things go up to 70 inches now?!?! – on sale and have since plugged that puppy in. Let me tell you how cool the Netflix on-demand feature is, when downloaded directly to your TV set - really, really, really cool.
In unwired news, Padawan Learner and I have joined a secular teen unschooler group. Yes, all three of those words cause me to swoon just thinking about them. I especially like that the group’s definition of unschooler is so fluid. I’ve looked at groups that have real unschooling and not real unschooling definitions, and I find them annoying – ironically – in their rigidity. I have no interest in trying to pass someone else’s unschooling “quiz.” From what I’ve seen, there are teens in this group that go to school part-time and teens who have never set foot inside a school. There are teens who do lessons as they and/or their families see fit and teens who wouldn’t know a worksheet if it jumped up and bit them in the tukus. Teens that take formal classes for something or other and teens that aren’t currently take any outside classes at all. Teens that have home routines, schedules, chores, and – dare I say it … parental expectations in one form or another.
The moms I’ve met are friendly and welcoming, and no one gasped in shock or horror to hear that we’re a family of atheists. Score another one for Des Moines.
One new thing in our homeschooling world is state requirements. Since Michigan is a no registration, no notification and no annual assessment state, the mild to moderate requirements of Iowa seem a bit overwhelming at times. There are registration and notification deadlines – August 26th this year – and testing requirements if not using a supervising teacher. I considered going the supervising teacher route, but decided to just do the pre- and post-year testing instead. PL has never taken a formal assessment test before and I don’t think it’ll be a negative thing for him to go through that type of experience a few times. The initial test, in October I believe, is just a starting-point assessment. In a nut-shell, they just want to know where he’s at “according to the norm” and it will be used to show that he has made academic progress over the next nine months when he tests again in June. Since registration and assessment is only required until he is 16 years old, I won’t be required to jump these hoops after this initial year. While I don’t think it will be a big deal for him academically – he’s a bright boy – I also don’t like being told what to do by a bunch of educational bureaucrats.
For PL, this single round of testing is going to be more of a ACT/SAT warm-up than anything else. If he was going to have a few years of it, I’d likely have gone the supervising teacher route instead. Annual testing requirements get my panties in a twist on principle.