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, perhaps akin to 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.

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 

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 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!'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 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 its 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 as an atheist. As a secular humanist.
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 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.

Christopher Hitchens

You might also enjoy:

Christian Mythology for Kids...and Adults
Ghosts and Bedtime
Kathryn Wants to Know: When Family Doesn't Support Secular Parenting

Monday, October 3, 2011

The INSANITY that lives inside of some people's heads...

Did anyone hear Fresh Air on NPR today? Terry Gross talked to A Leading Figure In The New Apostolic Reformation, the nuttiest nut I've heard in a loooong time.
Terry Gross was SO respectful it was amazing. She got lots of guff from listeners for being too respectful and not confrontational enough. All I could think was, "How fun it is to shoot fish in a barrel?"
C. Peter Wagner actually believes there are demons in the cities who are responsible for all bad things that happen, LITERAL demons from Satan's army...

He is, particularly, concerned about Japan because, as he says: The emperor of Japan has sex with the sun goddess, a demon, and brings bad things on Japan, like the tsunami and the recent nuclear meltdown.
God COULD have prevented the bad things, Wagner assures us, but he didn't...

Here's the link: