Friday, December 30, 2011

Nap Time 2012


From our home to yours
NAPPY NEW YEAR

Top Ten Things I Wish I Would Have Said in 2011

...but that I only THOUGHT ten minutes or ten hours later...probably losing HOURS of sleep...


  1. I took my daughter and several of her friends out to an event across the state. At the last moment, I was asked by a person I know to include one of their children in our visit. I gladly agreed to take this child with us. Let me preface this with a bit of information, this child has frequently been heard to call my children "weird". As in "they're sooo weird." But I took this child anyway. We made this long trip in order to meet more homeschoolers and to, hopefully, forge some new friendships.  But what do I hear??????? This child is at this cool event telling all of the kids there that...you guessed it, my kids are "WEIRD".  I DID say, "Wow, you accept my courtesy and kindness, you are friendly with us the entire way out there, and they you sabotage our ability to make friendships with that group of kids by calling us names...  I honestly think you owe us an apology." What I wish I would have said:  WHY YOU LITTLE SHIT!
  2. We did some home decorating this year, as you might know if you are friends with my husband. My husband did some gorgeous woodwork and decorating in our bathroom. So, it's time to order the tile. In my odd KAREN way of "figurin'", I said that we needed X amount of the main color of wall tile. The two math geniuses (my husband and the designer) look at me with this withering LOOK as thought to say "Poor you, you just don't get it..." So we used their figures and ordered Y amount of tile. You guessed it...I WAS RIGHT. The tile we received was not the correct design we were hoping for and it was too late to correct it. I totally regret not standing up for myself with the math whizzes, and insisting on ordering X amount of tile. What I wish I would have said:  ORDER MORE YELLOW TILE!
  3. When I was asked to do some extra work for a group that we participate it, I said "sure". What I wish I would have said:  NO, Sorry.
  4. When someone invited them self over to our home, we said "Sure!" What I wish I would have said:  LEAVE YOUR DOG AT HOME.
  5.  When a friend made sport of me on Facebook, I wish I would have said, 'Ha ha ha, funny." Instead what I said was something like:  Why are you so mean, you need to think of my feelings for once because you have hurt them.  Please refrain from commenting on my posts if you can't be nice.  Seriously, kindness is so important in friendship and you have not exhibited kindness today.  Blah, Blah, Blah...You have hurt me and made my friends think you are an ass.  Next time, please keep your comments to your self.  I'm not kidding. Have I ever talked to you like that?  No, because I wouldn't hurt you in that way Not everyone is fond of your sense of humor and I am among that group.  Please refrain from commenting on my posts if you can't be nice.  Seriously, kindness is so important in friendship and you have not exhibited kindness today.  Why are you so mean, you need to think of my feelings for once because you have hurt them.  Blah, blah, blah.  And, what's more,  you are not being nice.  No you're not!  Please refrain from commenting on my posts if you can't be nice. You have hurt me and made my friends think you are an ass.  Next time, please keep your comments to your self.  Blah, blah, blah.  Please refrain from commenting on my posts if you can't be nice.  Seriously, kindness is so important in friendship and you have not exhibited kindness today.  You have hurt me and made my friends think you are an ass.  Next time, please keep your comments to your self.  I'm not kidding. Have I ever talked to you like that?  No, because I wouldn't hurt you in that way I'm not kidding. Why are you so mean, you need to think of my feelings for once because you have hurt them.  Please refrain from commenting on my posts if you can't be nice. Blah, blah, blah.  Have I ever talked to you like that?  No, because I wouldn't hurt you in that way.  Never.  I feel upset and don't know how to handle it.   I'm angry and hurt and blah blah blah.Please refrain from commenting on my posts if you can't be nice.  Seriously, kindness is so important in friendship and you have not exhibited kindness today.  You have hurt me and made my friends think you are an ass.  Next time, please keep your comments to your self.  I'm not kidding. Have I ever talked to you like that?  No, because I wouldn't hurt you in that way I'm not kidding. Why are you so mean, you need to think of my feelings for once because you have hurt them.  Please refrain from commenting on my posts if you can't be nice. Have I ever talked to you like that?  No, because I wouldn't hurt you in that way.  Never.  I feel upset and don't know how to handle it.   I'm angry and hurt and blah blah blah.
  6.  When Jerry asked me to go camping with him, to a week-long star party (an astronomy event), I said, "SURE, Honey." What I wish I would have said:  HELL NO!  IT'S COLD!!!!! Go and enjoy yourself!
  7.  I can't think of anymore!!!!!!  LOL  If I come up with more I will update!
  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011 was NICE for our family. The kids are busy and happy. Jer and I are busy and happy. And all are healthy. We've had some events that have caused us to reconsider our lifestyle and we have found that we are quite happy with our current lifestyle and we wouldn't change it...unless we could go to Australia!

Jerry had an opportunity at work, an opportunity that , sadly, did not fully materialize, to work in Brisbane Queensland in Australia for a year. We were thrilled with the idea and had made some very nice connections with some very nice people in the general Brisbane/Ipswich area. Sadly, the entire plan didn't work out and so we are staying in St. Louis. But a part of each of us is disappointed to miss out on such an awesome opportunity.
Sign.  Maybe someday...

Wishing you and yours a wonderful NEW YEAR.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Welcome 2012! ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yule Love It

 

It was good.
Yuletide Gymnastics
The celebrating was festive, the tree was sparkly, and the holiday was totally secular.
I only had one person ask me how secular people celebrate Christmas, and it wasn't "WHY" do we.
To begin with, our tree is smashing.  Our tree is sparkly and more sparkly.  It is quite pretty.  Several evenings, as the end of the night, I have just sat with the house lights out looking at our tree with the kids.
I should mention a few of our holiday family traditions.

Onto the tree, each person puts an object or two that is NOT an ornament, but fairly well blends into the tree.  We've had many eating utensils, pieces of jewelry, computer parts, flowers, bows, etc.  This year, the best piece, in my opinion, is my daughter's teeth mold from the orthodontist!  It is joined together by a ribbon and hung front and center.  If you didn't know it was a snaggle-tooth "before" ortho mold, you would just assume it is was another ornament.

We play several fun family games on the day that we have copied, created, or changed from other forms.  I don't "hide the pickle", I hide teh beautiful glass bird ornament.  It's SOOOO pretty.  We spend at least three hours playing a variety of games we have created.  Listen, from the youngest to the oldest, we all love this time together more than the gift-opening part of the day!

And today, the coolest of the cool.  My stepson, Tim, and Jerry have been building a secret contraption for the last few days together.  In the garage, in the basement, outside.
The first light of the NET CANNON just happened...HUGE HUGE SUCCESS!
One rule for the net cannon:  No firing it at Bonobo!
Bonobo says:  AW!!!!!



And now, each day is lengthening, the nights are getting shorter, and we are headed into the dark of winter.
Let's hope this winter is a good one!



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yule Laugh

 

 www.atheistholidaycards.com
 http://www.zazzle.com/atheist+holiday+cards

Those are some of the websites the carry several different holiday cards for the skeptic in you.  From the completely irreverent (and who doesn't love that?) to the simple expression of holiday joy, these few cards represent something important to me.  They say that it's spreading.

Atheists, generally, at this time of year, put their heads down and listen to the fingernails down the chalkboard.  We take it on the chin.  We watch with incredulity as another year of mythology blossoms to a ridiculous level.  We CRAVE to shout out to the roof tops "IT'S A SCAM!!!"  We watch as the malls fill up as Christians settle in for a long line at the cashier as they spread the love of their Lord's birthday.  We smirk and think "Seriously?"

But there are enough of us and enough momentum that we are able to support the holiday marketers out there who have our needs in mind.  Others who will gladly put the federal STAMP to the envelope and send out our true wishes to our family and friends at this time of year.  Seasons Greetings, Evolve Already.

Here are a few of the designs available from these two websites:












So, if you are STILL looking for the perfect card this year, the card that sweetly sends pagan greetings or the card that sends scathing evolving suggestions, check out these websites.  They are just what you've been looking for.





 And, by the way, in honor of Secular Thursday, I saved the best one for last:



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Yule Cry



According a Huffington Post from today:  Nearly half of America's public schools didn't meet federal achievement standards this year, marking the largest failure rate since the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Law took effect a decade ago, according to a national report released Thursday.

No Child Left Behind cost the nation in the billions of dollars.  The train wreck that is No Child Left Behind is doing exactly what it is intended to avoid.  It is leaving children behind.  Entire school districts worth of children behind.  It is not capable of providing the opportunities that it was hoping to provide.

I don't claim to be an authority of the education system, and we are all aware that many factors effect the efficacy of this type of policy making, but it is still so painfully obvious that failures in the school districts of our country, in my very own city, are, in part, impacted by the No Child Left Behind Fiasco.  At face value it was marketed at a way to preserve and bolster poorly-performing schools.  In reality, schools closed, leaving families in educational failure situations.

In the meantime, I was at a holiday party this weekend for my husband's employer.  While speaking to a very nice woman who works as a teacher in a Montessori school, when she discovered that we homeschool, she leaped to the "socialization" argument, straight to the "you can't teach high school" argument, followed that up with the, "children being isolated" argument, and hit  her homer with the "taking good kids out of the school systems" argument.
Seriously?

And I sat right there, in holiday splendor, as she quietly and with certainty made her statements.
I should not have to deal with that every time I go out.
I stood there wishing that Rayven was there.
And I drank my soft drink and let her quietly rant.

According to The Atlantic this week, Study of the Day: Home-Schooled Children Score Higher on Tests 

I fear for the children in this generation.  Global Warming, underfunded schools, poor access to health care for all families.  But I also have a certainty in my heart that these are the very kids who are going to grow up wiser, more capable, and able to make decisions with a world view.

I DO have faith...In the children!





Thursday, December 8, 2011

LINK 182, Worthy Reads

I have decided to hand over the keyboard to a few good blog posts I have read lately.

Who knows how we get to some blogs!  Shopping online for good socks to wear with blue jeans (STILL need some) and I find myself on someone's blog.  Looking at the headline news and, eventually, I'll be reading a blog somewhere in the world.  Drinking a cup of hot tea and a blog spontaneously opens up on my PC...

Anyway, who knows how it happens.  But when you find something worth reading, you wanna pass it along.
So, in the spirit of lending my good paperbacks to a friend, here are a few links to a few blogs that have had my attention lately.

If you read anything you enjoy, leave a comment.  Bloggers love that!
I hope you enjoy this Secular Thursday Offering!


http://www.thinkatheist.com/profiles/blogs/confessions-of-an-atheist
This blogger is an atheist homeschooler who created a homeschooling co op and has found the politics of "secular" difficult to stand by.  It's thought-provoking and most of us can relate to the struggle.

http://ourfreerangelife.blogspot.com/2011/08/im-coming-out.html
This blogger is "coming out" as an atheist in the great state of Creation Museum, AHEM, I mean Kentucky.

http://www.raising3thinkers.com/2011/10/one-little-spark.html
Here is another blog I click onto from time to time.  She is a mom with some little ones and she seems to be exposing them to some great activities so that she is, truly, raising freethinkers.

http://backwoodsmom.danoah.com/2011/12/the-shield-of-confidence/
This blog is one I shared on Facebook recently.  This blogger writes posts that never cease to touch me.  I'm sure, were we ever to meet, we'd be good friends!

http://dysfunctionalhomeschooler.blogspot.com/2011/12/conversations-with-kids.html
This blogger, a friend of mine, managed to capture the sweetness of being a mother...those million small moments that stop us in our tracks...

http://thespectrumofbeing.blogspot.com/2011/12/thoughtless-thursday-pa-has-date-rape.html
And, if you are looking for a THINKING freethinker, look no further.  This blogger is one I go back to again and again for thought-provoking posts.


Friday, December 2, 2011

O Tannenbaum

Do you put up a tree? When?
We put up a tree. The past many years we've gotten away with putting it up about mid December and removing it the day or so after Christmas. This year the kids are insisting, "We're putting up the tree this week and it's not coming down until after Christmas!"
Jer and I are like, "Excellent! Have fun!"
The truth is, Elizabeth is taking the "Bah Humbug" out of it for me. She's making me enjoy the holiday again!  She loves the holiday lights, the shopping, the sparkling, and all of the Jingle Bell rocking going on.  She loves the Christmas music and plays it all of the time.
She took the time to help me with the holiday cards, even providing the hot chocolate! She started thinking about things that her brother would like as gifts and she took the time to write them down and give the list to me.  She asks to go "look at the lights" many nights a week.  And she listens to the "All Holiday Music All of the Time" radio station. 
To see this normally "glass-is-half-empty" child become bright and rosy-cheeked, and full of good cheer, to see her thinking of others and what would please them, to see her feeling happy and delighted day after day...it is making me like the holiday as well!  She is what is making MY holiday full of good cheer!
I hope you have some small ones in your home to help you remember to ENJOY the season of long, cold nights and brief, bright days!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Beginning to Feel Alot like...the Holiday



Oh, fergoodnesssake, it's started again.

Is it REALLY a major statement for me to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hannakah"?

Already I have heard it to death from some people that REJECTING the word "Christmas" is incredibly insulting and whatnot.  Seriously?
Seriously?

If you, for one moment, think that my choice of "Happy Holidays" is a part of some sinister plan or is, in some way, a condemnation on Christmas, then think again.  Fox News may enjoy creating WARS on ideas, but I do not.  Anyone who chooses to participate in any sort of war of ideas is already fighting a battle with themselves.

There are BILLIONS of people on this earth.  HUNDREDS or more different ideologies, philosophies, dogmas, and religions.  Anyone who sets out to claim a war of religion is setting themselves up to be a bully.  An angry bully.  It is audacity in the extreme to expect everyone to approve or agree with your actions.   So, relax, Man.  Honestly make an effort to enjoy the season without looking for the overworked cashier of every store in the mall to offer you kind wishes of your particular flavor of religion.

During this time of year, the Christians dominate the airwaves.  Most of us make many concessions to the loudly-proclaimed "Spirit of the season".  Most of us keep our mouths closed and walk through the mass-hysteria of commercialism wrapped up in a big Christian bow.  Most of us seek to enjoy the season for Goodness's sake.

If my custom of acknowledging the specialness of this time of year for MOST OF US is bothersome, I suggest you find someone else to carry you.  I am not responsible for upholding YOUR beliefs or for validating you.  I am honestly thrilled to be upholding my own.  And I am not persecuting you.  Seriously, you're barely even on my radar.

So, if you wish me a "Merry Christmas!"  I will heartily thank you for that.  If you send a "Happy Hannakah!" my way, I will accept that in the spirit in which it was offered.  And if you suggest that I enjoy my "Happy Solstice!" I will smile and know that you mean well.

My family and I enjoy Christmas.  We feel the peace, love, and joy of this holiday season.  I hope yours does too.

Happy Holidays.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stop Worrying and Love the Text Book

hool materials

I can't tell you how many books and curriculum I have tried in these nine years. From a hundred different publishers and with many different approaches. It's a dang jungle out there. And I'm not afraid to tell you what I have finally settled on. Maybe I can save you some time. 

Early in the experience I bought dozens of mini workbooks. Lots of pages of math and mazes and crosswords and sketching and whatnot. Very simple and handy when we were home. We read ALOT and went outside and did many things. We visited police, fire, hospitals, airports, train stations, etc. Lots of visits to woods, streams, meadows. Playdates filled our calendar.  The early years were fun and easy because learning is everywhere.

Soon I moved on to larger workbooks and a few websites. Learning is everywhere, so we were also very busy in our community. Museums, zoos, farms, parks, local historical places:  many opportunities for learning and having fun. Films, games, cards, scavenger hunts, creation of plays and performances galore.
Next, move into the phase of freaking out about materials.  Hundreds of dollars (thousands?!) spent on materials that would never be used. Fear and worrying in St. Louis. I guess it happened because I saw how quickly the kids were growing up and how frightened I felt about that.

I can honestly say that I wish I had had the courage to avoid this stage. The stage where I began questioning our methods. Am I doing enough? Are they learning enough? In hindsight, though, I realize that I needed this stage to get here! I bought many materials that were of exceptional quality, but still didn't feel like I had it quite right. I can highly recommend The Critical Thinking Company materials, though. Very high quality, secular, and generally fun.

All along, I have spent thousands of hours creating my own materials. Worksheets, packets, units, readings, writings, so many materials I don't even know how to characterize it. I ENJOY this, though, so don't think this is necessary. I completely enjoy exploring subjects in depth and creating unique "units" of study.

And now, today, I have decided to simplify. Textbooks. I have found used textbooks everywhere. Used curriculum sites, Amazon.com, yard sales, friends, and many other places (I'm veeeeery resourceful!)

I love textbooks. I feel comfortable with them. We can zoom through them at high speeds and cover lots of material in short amounts of time. Learning is EVERYWHERE, even in textbooksAt first I felt like something of a sell-out. Now I love them!

I still consider us ECLECTIC homeschoolers. My materials come from everywhere, and we still LOVE to read, but textbooks...I love them!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Case Against Homeschooling, Really



against homeschool, considering homeschool, why we homeschool
The post that brings the most people to my blog site is called "The Case Against Homeschooling". 
Are these folks coming here looking for a case against homeschooling?
I'm happy to provide!

I'm not the slightest bit afraid to talk about those subjects that might expose the negatives of homeschooling.  Because, in spite of them, after all, it's always a choice.  Parents who send their children are choosing, alternative education options are choices, home schooling is a choice.  For goodness sake, parenting is rife with choices from morning until night!  Also, I have found, after nine years of homeschooling, that almost every single thing on the "con" list below, somehow becomes a "pro" of homeschooling!

I'm going to offer this little expose' in honor of all of those children and families who are about to begin and who want the total, unhidden, balanced truth.

This is my writing and I offer it as such, my story.
  • We live in a neighborhood with elderly neighbors, most of whom have lived in the same home since having it built forty years ago.  We have no children in our neighborhood except for the unkind kid who verbally attacks John every time they get together.  The other kid is the drinker, smoker down the street.  We care about this boy alot, but the kids don't want to hang out with him.  This means that we are ALONE.  We don't have a single neighborhood friend to play with.  While this isn't, specifically, a homeschool issue, it does effect our homeschooling experience.  Unless we leave the house and drive we don't get to hang out with kids daily.  I mention this one first because we've all been sick lately and are, quite honestly, needing to get out!
  • The kids don't see other kids every day.  We see them often, maybe 2-3 times per week, on average.  Much more some weeks, less others.  This is not "socialization", this is "socializing".
  • Our house is a mess.  We are here far more than most families.  Messes multiply around here.  We have more books and games and stuff than we need.  Mostly books.  Activities are spread all over my house as I type.  Several people are involved in several different activities that require space and time.
  • Homeschooling takes time.  Your time.  As the mother and major homeschooling parent in the house, I spend a great deal of time on planning, researching, and more planning.  It takes organization and a great computer.  There is no way around the need for planning.   Being a homeschool parent requires constant footwork to find what’s available in the community. Knowing how to get information on your own, knowing how to access people who can answer your questions, and knowing how to communicate well are essentials skills of being a homeschooling parent. Being resourceful is essential.
  •  Can you support your child as they are?  They will be with you 24/7.  Can you honestly embrace the person that they truly are?  Homeschooling is like putting every problem into a pan and boiling it down.  Soon the problems are all that you can see...unless you find a way to commit yourself the the children that you have.  You have to accept them so that they can accept themselves and move successfully into life.
  • I don't know everything about every subject.  Again, planning, researching, planning.  Time well spent, but time, nonetheless.
  • Not everyone approves.  Can you remain dedicated to a lifestyle that often takes hits from family and friends and media?   People will disapprove without having the slightest understanding of it.  It is a lifestyle choice that people feel the need to give their two cents on.  Overall, people are very supportive and admire us.  But there are those folks who can't accept it.
  • Some learning objectives work best in group environments.  Homeschool groups and co ops are useful for many different types of these objectives, but there is still organization and planning involved.
  •  Did I mention cost?  Some homeschool families spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on materials and optional experiences.  This type of cash outlay is not necessary.  I know very frugal families who homeschool extremely successfully.  But, as we all know, some great activities cost money.
  • When the kids are unwilling to work, this shows itself in many different ways, little gets done.  Lessons require a certain amount of willingness on the part of the child.  If your child is less-than-motivated, it's not much fun.
  • Homeschooling parents have less free time or child-free time.  Privacy?  I get some, but I have to create it.  It's all about balance.  As a homeschooling parent, you will have to figure this one out.  Not just so you don't lose your mind, but so you can be a whole and healthy person!
  • Homeschooling through high school requires some more...YEP, research and organization and creativity.  People homeschool through high school every day, including my daughter!  It works.
  •  Homeschool families can be marginalized, demonized, and, generally, be treated oddly.  Living "outside of the box" is an honest expectation for families who choose this lifestyle.  Homeschooling parents learn to cheerlead whenever the need arises.  It's unfair, but there you are.
  • For some parents, the doubt comes and goes, but never really disappears.  It's the nature of the individual that matters.  I know of several parents who are constantly on edge about homeschooling while other parents I know are the freaking paragons of placidity!  Homeschooler's angst is like having the world's worst friend in your own head!
  • There are no overseeing bodies to reprimand, guide, or support you.  So, you are, truly, on your own.  This can freak some folks out.  For others, it is a comfort.  I love it, but as first I was frightened.  Having other homeschoolers to talk with made all of the difference.
  •  Accepting the fact that children learn at different levels and different speeds.  They actually do.  Even when they are in school.  But it's more obvious in homeschooling.
  •  And, it is up to YOU, to your family, what gets into their lives.  Talk about a panic sandwich with guilt on top.  Very often you are going where there are no roads.  Get ready to steam your way down a path of your own construction. homeschooling.

That's my honest list AGAINST.  Being a parent means being constantly on the look out for the best thing for your child.  I hope this list helps.  I hope you realize that this list is intended to let you know, up front, some of what you will have on your place if you homeschool.  I hope the list doesn't turn you off...just be more informed! 

What About Socialization?  
Nope, I don't think that's a problem.  
Honestly.  When we get with kids, we experience the exact same things every group of kids does.  
The kids learn sharing, what a bully looks like, conflict resolution, etc. and the kids are just...normal.


Have I missed anything?
What "negs" would you add to this list?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

He Ain't Heavy...Brothers and Sisters




I was thinking about reprieving this blog post on siblings called, appropriately enough, Homeschool Siblings.
And then something happened.

My son, who has been out walking with my daughter, came running into the house, angry, crying, shouting, hurt.  He and his sister had had a huge fight in the sidewalks of some other block.  He talked and shouted and talked until she got home.  She went into her room, he want into mine.
He talked with his dad and I for a few minutes before she sidled into the room.  Bravely, I thought.

They shouted and cried a bit at one another, then they started talking.
About their feelings.
About what they wanted from one another.
About what is hard.
And with respect.
There were a few detours, surely.

Jerry and I watched and listened and smiled.  Sure, they were still on different pages, but it had become very productive and kind.  And they were striving to be respectful and honest.

It was a moment that Jer and I will forever remember as being CERTAIN our kids are on the right road!
They had shown themselves that they knew how to fight, how to resolve a fight, and how to do this without hurting each other or losing themselves.

We are proud.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remember to Tip Your Wait Staff: Parenting


It's the end of the week and I'm looking back at the week in AWE at how much we did, even though all of us have been in various stages of "sick" for almost two weeks.

Being a homeschool mother is a fairly thankless task.  I don't actually expect "THANKS" from the kids or anything.  Well, maybe a little.  Kids just aren't aware of the work we parents do.  That's normal.  I certainly didn't appreciate my parents when I was young.

The thing is, as a homeschool parent, I am constantly thinking of the kids.  Preparing lessons.  Creating the work itself.  Driving us here or there.  Feeding or cleaning.  Arranging plans.  Keeping a calendar is a real TALENT!  Looking over work.  Working with the kids on lessons.  Frequent deep discussion about the world at large.  Researching everything.
Very little of what I do is not for my kids.  I KNOW.  All parents can say this.  I happen to be a homeschooling parent.

I admit that I am looking forward to that day, far in the future, when my children have children of their own.  I get that call I've been waiting for:

My Fantasy Adult Child:  Mom?
Me:  Yes, Honey?  How are you?  How are the kids?
My Fantasy Adult Child:  Mom...I'm exhausted.
Me:  I understand, Honey.
My Fantasy Adult Child:  How did you do it, Mom?  How did you do so much for us?  You were always there for us, calm, patient, creative, loving.  You were SO selfless.  You gave up so much for us and never let on.  I am so inspired by you and I'm sure I am a better parent because of you, Mom.  How did you do it, Momma?
Me:  Honey, what's going on?
My Fantasy Adult Child:  I can't do it, Mom!  I'm exhausted, I'm poor, and I haven't showered all week!  I haven't been able to find my purse for three days, I found my flip-flops in the dishwasher, the kitchen floor is so sticky I can tell what was eaten in the kitchen for the past week, I'm rinsing and reusing the same bra day after day because I can't find any others, and, yesterday, I made canned chicken noodle soup and mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch...and dinner!
Me:  I understand, Honey.
My Fantasy Adult Child:  Mom, I completely respect and admire the parent you were and the person you are!  Thank you!
Me:  *smile*

Listen, I can dream, can't I?
At this point, the kids have many chores and help out a great deal.  But, for the most part, they are blissfully unaware of how much work it is to be the parent.  For every lesson they work on, not only do I have the carrying out of that lesson, I have the research for and the preparation of that lesson.
Right, Moms and Dads?

Listen, I'm sounding a bit...whiny tonight.
Let me dream about that fantasy conversation with my adult child.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I am an Atheist

i am an atheist, atheist parenting


If you are here from Google, or if you are looking for information about atheism OR if you are an atheist. OR if you are looking for information about people who are atheists.
Welcome.

I am a full-on, no holds barred, non-agnostic atheist. The type that does not hold to anything supernatural. No devils, no destiny, no crystals, no chakras, no dream reading, no telepathy, no tongues, no candles, no singing, no spiritual warfare or end-of-times fears, no fasting, no prayer, no meant-to-be, no ashes and mumbled words, no need for intersession of any kind.  No spirits, no afterlives, no auras, no foot massages or body work, no universal life force, no feng shui, no alternative medicine, nothing.

No ESP, no tarot, no spiritual connections of any kind, no supernatural power of any kind, nothing paranormal, nothing metaphysical, no angels or demonic beings, no telling the future, no astrology, no secrets or hidden things, and no need to figure out why a "loving" deity would allow or create such pain and hatred in the world.

No special rituals. No special books. No special clothing, chants, incantation, laying on of hands, no internal powers, no esoteric knowledge, no herbs or spices, no substances of any kind. No hidden beings. No secret handshakes. No secret words to utter. No faith. No special days of the year. No secrecy at all.
Just the wonder of what IS.
And I DO mean the wonder.


It is an act of sublimity to look at our earth, at our solar system, at our cosmos and see it through the eyes of AWE, rather than through eyes that call it a miracle, finger-snapped into place by a deity.  Instead, the vastness, the magnificence, and the incomprehensibility of it washes over me like a total sacred experience. I feel connected to it. I am a part of it. I am star stuff.  The wonder of that never ceases to move me.

Our family is very science-oriented, specifically astronomy. Our opportunities to see deep space objects, to follow the movement of planets in our solar system, comets, and other objects help to support the "all natural" paradigm. The beauty of the natural works is truly without peer.


With the oncoming winter, the sky is darker earlier. Take this opportunity to get outside under the night sky and see what you can.  

Having rejected all religious dogma and all supernatural deities of all kinds, I can honestly say, the world makes sense! No need to rely on "faith" and accept "mysteries" that defy logic, ethics, and integrity.

I have been talking with a Christian friend who is moving down the path towards a more liberal and questioning way. He has struggled with this for at least a year or more and is now beginning to realize that the "truth" as he knew it doesn't work for him anymore. I truly delight in his transformation. He has become a happier and more kind person.

So, if you are here looking for a kindred, like-minded person, WELCOME.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

HSLDA




One of the blogs that I check with some regularity is http://homeschoolingunited.wordpress.com/.  This website had a recent blog post that suggests that there is a national plan for regulating homeschool on a national level.  Then, every single link offered in the post gave evidence against the idea.
Reason?
Why would this reputable sight post such rumor?

EASY.

Homeschoolers feel the need to constantly be on alert.  Is someone attempting to reduce our rights?  Has another special interest group (The NEA, for example) covertly attacking our rights to homeschool again?  Is another state putting the right to homeschool on the burner?  Is some state bill containing hidden language designed to reduce the rights of homeschoolers in special circumstances?

We are UNDER represented on The Hill and poorly organized.
I strongly urge all homeschooling families to join a homeschool group that pays attention to the political environment of your state and to maintain contact with your local representative!

The only National Homeschool Organization that I know of disbanded over a decade ago.  The closest thing we have it the Home School Legal Defense Association.   According to the HSLDA website, their mission is:


  • Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.
  • HSLDA advocates on the legal front on behalf of our members in matters which include conflicts with state or local officials over homeschooling. Each year, thousands of member families receive legal consultation by letter and phone, hundreds more are represented through negotiations with local officials, and dozens are represented in court proceedings. HSLDA also takes the offensive, filing actions to protect members against government intrusion and to establish legal precedent. On occasion, HSLDA will handle precedent-setting cases for nonmembers, as well.
  •  HSLDA advocates on Capitol Hill by tracking federal legislation that affects homeschooling and parental rights. HSLDA works to defeat or amend harmful bills, but also works proactively, introducing legislation to protect and preserve family freedoms.
  •   HSLDA advocates in state legislatures, at the invitation of state homeschool organizations, by assisting individual states in drafting language to improve their homeschool legal environment and to fight harmful legislation.
  •  HSLDA advocates in the media by presenting articulate and knowledgeable spokesmen to the press on the subject of homeschooling. HSLDA staff members are regularly called upon for radio, television, and print interviews, and their writings are frequently published in newspapers and magazines across the country. HSLDA’s own bimonthly magazine, The Home School Court Report, provides news and commentary on a host of current issues affecting homeschoolers. And its two-minute daily radio broadcast, Home School Heartbeat, can be heard on nearly 500 radio stations.
  •  HSLDA advocates for the movement by commissioning and presenting quality research on the progress of homeschooling. Whether it’s in print, from the podium, or on the air, HSLDA provides insightful vision and leadership for the cause of homeschooling.
Members of the HSLDA are entitled to certain benefits for their membership. Upon review of the benefits, I found a link to current alerts and calls to action for homeschool families in order to not be blindsided by legislation hidden in jargon and buries in unknown bills.

I'm joining!
  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Little Homemade Love



Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  
~William Wordsworth


The kids are begging and begging me, "Mom, what do you want us to buy you for your birthday?"
And "PLEASE, Mom, what do you want?!  Nothing we make or write, PLEASE!"
And, "MOM, I have over fifty dollars that I want to spend on you!"
But the truth is, there is nothing that I want that I don't have.
The only things that mean ANYTHING to me are, truly, not things.

My heart and my life are so full of love.  I have a wonderful husband who doesn't just TOLERATE my ways.  He embraces them, love me for them.  He quietly smiles as me and I know he truly understands.  I know he loves me fully.  I have children who are blossoming and becoming more and more each day.  The fullness I feel for them is overwhelming.
I have my health, my home, my friends, enough.

For my birthday this year, I am hoping I get letters and home made gifts from my kids.  
Because I will keep them in the drawer underneath my socks for many years.  Because I will read and reread them until the paper becomes thin and threatens to fall apart at the creases.  Because I will tape those seams and continue to hold them dear long after the kids have forgotten about them.  Because these children are growing up so quickly that these days are far too short.  Because the depth of their hearts are such gifts to me; they don't understand that yet.  And because I can never get enough of knowing them better.

Oh, and because I REALLY don't want a Roomba!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

I can Refute That

I've been thinking about the dozens and dozens of ala carte Christians out there.  It's really a free-for-all these days with the believers.  When I was a kid, man, people staying in the lines! 

In a way, I'm proud of "them" for being able to put the kibosh on some beliefs that are particularly irksome.  Various positions on "THE AFTERLIFE", for instance.  Instead of feeling the need to fall in line in the pew, Christians are finding themselves empowered to add to the many options of "What Will Happen After I Die" with their own ideas about where their souls will spend eternity.
 
It's pretty interesting, actually, that most people no longer subscribe to the fire-and-brimstone Hell any longer.  No, the more palatable (and less heat-exhaustive, apparently) and NEW Hell is the Hell and is simply the absence of God.  No temperature required.  Other Hells seem to be cold and bleak.  Others lonely.  Others more metaphorical, and, therefore, difficult to put into words.  The spiritual aloneness of despair eternal.

Other points of contention within the Christian spectrum include the literal or figurative transformation of the host during communion, requirements for salvation, leadership within the church itself.  You've got your right-wing Fundamentalists and Evangelicals who disagree with their more liberal-minded brethren.  You've got your folks who choose to view "reality" as some New Aged Metaphor that is completely difficult to understand, express, much less refute.  Various groups interpret scripture one way while others interpret another way. Rituals are carried out in any number of varied ways.

Conceptions of a deity, morality, the role of women in the church, the role or roles the deity or deities play in every day life, the carrying out of various rituals, the value of prayer, the value of confession, symbols and their meaning, family and individual roles within a family, and so many more issues are in the exhaustive list of the disagreements within the various religious groups.

And from these disagreements, there are, literally, hundreds of variations on the theme of Christians, not to mention the other major world religions.  These groups are equally in disagreement on various policies, practice, and dogma.  It is, in fact, a veritable maelstrom of belief systems out there.

AND, each of these groups believes themselves to be the one, true group.  The ones to hold a monopoly on liturgical and sacramental correctness.

And why mention this?
Because debating or discussing with a religious person is FULL of pitfalls because each person one speaks with offers their own perspective of the reality of their belief system.  It is simply not possible to refute each and every religious person's ideology individually.
But, if "they" would all go into a room, fight it out, and come out with a single belief system...I could refute it!

But, those of you who disagree with me, you're safe with me.  I don't debate.  I just like to be ABLE to debate.
LOL

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Moves Like Jagger

Why does this song have NO Jagger-esque riff?  Just wondering. 

So, how is our family moving like Jagger?!?

  • We are constantly reinventing ourselves.  From acting to art to gymnastics to writing to whatever the next thing is, we are constantly exploring and pushing the envelope.
  • We are scandalous.  Not a single week has gone by lately where one of us hasn't caused a sensation with our rock and roll.  Ok, this one doesn't actually fit us, it's not true.                       How disappointing and boring!
  • People copy his style.  People copy us all of the time!  Our sense of humor, our way of creating attention wherever we go...Okay, well, again...NO.
  • Anti-Establishment.  We are TOTALLY anti-establishment.  Childishly so, at time.  LOL
Well crap, I don't think our family actually IS like Jagger.
Oh well.

But we  ARE like the song, according to Bill Lamb from About.com 

Loose, light, and irresistibly funky!


Monday, October 24, 2011

WHAT in the World Are You DOING?????!!

I have finally come up for air!  We have been traveling again.  Also, my daughter has been in another play and it is unreal how much of my time that takes.  Over sixteen hours in a normal week.  But these last few weeks, it as been more like twenty hours or better.
Now it's OVER!!!!!
The show was super good; I'm just thrilled to be back to "normal" life for now.

The Cardinals are in the World Series and we are, actually, watching TV these days!  lol  The more commercials we see for tv shows, the more convinced we are that our No-TV home is perfectly happy without that nonsense.

Elizabeth is working hard on learning Korean.  She submerges herself in film, music, and online Korean soap operas (YES, I do realize that this is TV...LOL.)  She also works on vocabulary, history, and writing.  Soon, we plan on her working with a Korean tutor.
She is working on evolution in Biology 1, dividing real numbers in Algebra, and the Bill of Rights in Civics.  In English 1 we are working on Expository essays and "To Kill a Mockingbird".

John is working on abbreviations, plural possessive nouns, and punctuation on English, Pre-Algebraic stuff in Math 76, and the human body in General Science.

Not long ago I took Elizabeth and some other homeschool friends out to an awesome event put on by the Kansas City Secular Homeschoolers.  They call it the Unprom.  It is a theme-based, family-oriented dance.  This year the theme was TIME.  Elizabeth went as her favorite time traveler:  Dr. Who!
The Unprom was AMAZING!  And it was wonderful to hang out with such cool and like-minded people!

I LOVE knowing that I am a part of the secular homeschool movement here in Missouri.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Homeschooler

As a modality for homeschooling, we have been very eclectic for years.  Using materials from far and yon and where ever I could find materials that interested us and promoted further challenge.  Ever since Elizabeth became a "high schooler", I've been so frightened of being inadequate that we have been following a variety of textbooks day after day. 

With both kids, we have been studying textbooks that include the subjects:  Science, Math or Algebra, History, Grammar and Literature and Writing, and Critical Thinking.  With Elizabeth, we have textbooks and other regularly-used materials for Korean, Theater, Civics and Government, and English 1.  We also include art and music.  Same with John.

I'm trying to decide how I feel about this new way of homeschooling.
On one hand, I'm certain we are "covering the bases", on the other hand, I am equally as certain that I am squashing some passion and interest in other things...at least, that is my fear of "schooling at home." 

The kids, however, are DOING THEIR WORK and completing lessons on the day they are assigned.  They are motivated to get their work done and they are self-starting as they get their materials together and start working.  They report and admit that they prefer this type of  structure.  In the past few weeks I have tried backing off on the structure.  Each of the kids, in their own way, has told me that they prefer the structure and and has asked me to keep it up.

I find it interesting that they prefer "school at home" homeschooling.  Earlier in our homeschooling careers this would never have flown and now they request it.  It's possible that I could have been doing this all of these years, to the betterment of the kids..?

It goes against my grain, to be honest.  I prefer the unschooling or eclectic approach to learning.  BUT, as this is THEIR journey, we are schooling at home.  This requires a great deal of preparation from me each evening or several times a week.  But the results have been surprising!  The kids get up, check their lessons for the day, prepare for their day, and get to work.   Who would have ever forseen that?!  lol

Our lives are different with this amount of scholastic time in the house.  I'm not sure how long I can keep up the exercise of operating INSIDE OF THE BOX!  lol...it's just not my speed. 
Let's just think of this as a learning experience...




Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Being an Atheist Parent




Do you find it difficult being an atheist parent in a nonsecular world?
You know, I really don't.  It just IS.  It is what I am.
We don't have a cool acronym like WWJD to use to instill fear and loathing in our kids.  We don't have Biblical or other religious literature to teach us how to separate and sheep from the goats.  Or the pillars of salt or the threat of hell to frighten our kids into good behavior.
Although, I kind of like WWCSD


Intelligence, Kindness, Ethics
In case YOU don't find it easy, I have thought of a few parenting tips for you.
  1. Be honest.  Always answer questions with correct answers, without any sort of mythology.  I am convinced that parents use the myth stories for two reasons:  to give kids HOPE and to make it easier handling the difficult things themselves.  Who WANTS to explain the end of life to a child?  Who WANTS to explain that Grandpa is gone for good?  Well, I do.  I want the kids to know that THIS is the life that we have.  All good things that want to do, the must do in THIS life.  That lesson makes life and time very precious.

  2. Create customs and rituals in your family that are for celebrating, mourning, being together.  Your celebrations can be all about FAMILY and FUN without any of the downer myth stories.  I'm sure you already have family traditions that you can build on!

  3. Read many myth stores, including the Christian myths.  These myths are no more believable than any of the other myth stories out there.  Explain that these myths were created in order to answer questions that we now understand through a greater understanding of scientific principles.  Are we having a drought because someone angered a god?  Of course not.  The study of weather sciences can explain that.  How about where WE come from?  Did a god SNAP us into existence?  Of course not.  Evolution and the Big Bang Theory can explain much of this.  The explanation as to why is there SOMETHING instead of NOTHING...I'm not sure there is a scientific explanation for that one!  But that's OK.  Sometimes "I don't know" is a totally acceptable answer.

  4. Teach your child to think critically and to ask for PROOF of extraordinary claims.  Talk with them daily about how certain groups are always trying to "sell us" their point of view.  Watch commercials, then go look at the junk that they represent and seek to sell.  Explore how the commercial's job was to make that toy look extremely AWESOME, while the reality of it is that toy is junk.  It's a tough lesson, but well worth it!  Look for empirical evidence, apply logic and reason, and thinking skeptically.  These are the three skills a good atheist parent gives to their children.

  5. Make sure you do not have hateful, vengeful, or angry outlooks at people and things that don't agree with you.  Creating unkind people doesn't help anything!  (Yes, I DID just say be nice!)

  6. Allow your children to explore the religions and to learn about the belief systems of each one that interests them, in fact, encourage it!  Nothing creates good strong atheists like reading the Bible.  Support them in their search.  Each of us needs to search and find our own answers.  As long as you have given them that critical foundation of being able to think logically, you can sit back and let them go on their own journey.  In fact, if you were to discourage this type of exploration, you would be no better than any other authority that seeks to force it's beliefs on others.

  7. Sadly, prepare them for people who may say unkind things about atheists.  Help them to understand that those people, regardless of how loud or unkind they are, have ALOT to learn about what makes a truly GOOD person.  Religious beliefs, in this day and age, are very public.   So expect that. Plan for the worst but expect the best.

  8. And, finally, stress good ethical behavior at all times...talk about being Good for Goodness's sake!  Because that is what makes you feel great inside.  As my son told me one day, Being a good person is it's own reward.

  9. Now, doesn't all of this make sense?  You're probably doing all of this already!  If so, guess what, you are parenting atheistically! 
I'm convinced that giving our children the ability to think critically, the skills for thinking logically and rationally, and a skeptical mind are the best gifts we can give our kids as they go out into the world...to adulthood. Further, I am convinced that there is absolutely no reason to give negative messages to kids about religion; their critical thinking skills will do the job.