Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This I Believe

If you've spent any time on NPR.com's This I Believe, the spoken essays on NPR that are based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, Americans from all walks of life share the personal philosophies and core values that guide their daily lives, maybe you've given some thought to just exactly what you believe.  I have given it some thought.

Take your life, blow away the superfluous activity and worry, pass by the time-consuming daily chores, and turn away from those people and things that simply bring difficulty to your days. What is left is what is important. What is left is the condensed essence of who you are and what you care for.

Watching my life on the boiler, the first things that blow away in a vaporous mist is the driving, the teaching, the cleaning, the fussing, the worrying, and the computer. Cooking skitters away the fastest. Next in the condensing procedure are the numerous family members who tend to express disapproval, dismay, or simple dislike. I'm happy to see them gone and they seem to leave with some satisfaction. Following closely behind, acquaintances who tend to take more than they give or who need me more than want me.

Floating away on the breath of a whisper, car troubles, money worries, buying and selling of any and all things, tiresome banter, dreary philosophical discussions of all kind, and household clutter. Vaporizing and shimmering into non-existence, even my most treasured of belongings:  pictures, letters, and possessions from long-gone loved ones. And finally, as the haze of memories and plans clear away, what is left in the bottom of the vessel?  

I peer in carefully. There, solid and lovely, surrounded by warmth and honesty, my family. My husband and my two children. My stepchildren. My sister. The relationships that honestly mean everything to me.

People make life worth living. Take care of your relationships so that they will be left in the vessels of the ones that you love instead of a disappearing haze above their lives...  

This I believe.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How Lame?

How lame is my giveaway?
No one seems interested!  LOL

Family Values

According to the #1 authority on the net, Wikipedia, Family values are political and social beliefs that hold the nuclear family to be the essential ethical and moral unit of society.

WE-hee hee heelll. I just want to tear that one apart!

Jerry and I have a wonderful family! Doesn't it stand to reason that our values are "family values". Well, they're not, not in the societal-accepted way.

To begin with, we are more than a nuclear family. I have two beautiful and superlative-heavy stepchildren. These kids are remarkable human beings and loving people. We have an ex-wife and her husband. These people are, in fact, a part of our family. We share the two kids, right.

We also have some kids from other families that fit right with us whenever they are here. They fit right under my wing, just as my kids fit right under the wing of my friend. We have parents and parents-in-law. We have a family of friends.

We have a family that is far more than nuclear. It is atomic!
That's our family. But what of those families that have one parent? What of the families that have two parents of the same gender? How about families that manage to have more than two adults under the room? These families are atomic families too. And each of them has a set of values that guides them through the complexities of our society.

Is our family the "essential ethical and moral unit of society?" mentioned in Wiki? In it's unwieldy way, yes.

Admittedly the term "family values" is a bit vague, as well as being one of those concepts that changes with the wind. Interesting, then, that politicians actually run their entire campaigns claiming to support "family values"!

I know what these conservative types mean by "family values". They mean two parents with "traditional" roles, etc, but mostly, they mean opposition of families and beliefs that do not fit into their narrow definition.
Well, bully for the conservatives.

Our family believes in freedom and peace and choice and living kindly on this earth. Wrap me in tie dye and I'm happy.

But, I want all families to be accepted, welcome, supported in this grand country of ours. Without definition. Without someone else's idea of what a family should look like. Without that set of people who don't even ever see each family but who manage to define "family" for us. I want our nation to stand proud as we see the community of family options out there and as we embrace each and every one of them. THIS is the type of family value I can get behind.

The older I get, the more I am convinced that healthy families create healthy children and adults. Not just the narrowly-defined families. But families of all make up.

The greater we care for, nourish, and provide for each family on this planet, the more likely we will bring up the generation of adults who will solve the problems before them.

Does this make any sense to you?  What do you think?


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lighting a Fire

Life is not easy for any of us. 
But what of that? 
We must
have perseverance and above all 

confidence in ourselves.
We must believe 

that we are gifted for something and
that this thing must be attained.
~Marie Curie


Let's see, from all of the entries I have received, if you enter today...YOU WIN!
Four more days...then...YOU WIN!

Today's Update

Our days have been taken up with THEATER lately.  Auditions, choreography, sets, props, special effects, costumes, and DRIVING THERE.  We have all had a jolly time!

These folks are GREAT talents and they generously share their talents and wisdom with the kids who come out to Open House Theater in New Athens.

Our family has worked hard on this show and we have enjoyed it tremendously!
Next, both of the kids are working back at this theater on "Annie".  Dr. Who is assistant directing while Bonobo is playing a zillion parts.
Dr. Who is so thrilled and proud to be assistant directing.  MANY THANKS to Rich Matt for having confidence enough in her to expect good things from her!

Bonobo and I have been working on General Science with mostly biology.  Plants and animials, and learning how to categorize them into Kindom, species...whatnot.  (*I never could remember the levels, but Bonobo has is down pat!  lol)
Bonobo and I are also working on geography.  Spending lots of time learning about Africa.  Reading, documentaries, map and atlas work, music, foods, and some excellent African Art.  Next for us:  Asia.
We've also been reading and writing.  If you are one of the lucky ones, you should expect a letter from Bonobo in the mail!  He's been writing like crazy!
He and I also enjoy board games, so we've been playing some fun stuff.
Online we've watched for current events, African news and movies, and humor!

Dr. Who is working hard at learning Korean.  The next time you see her, ask her to say something in Korean!  I thank Kehelea Taylor SO MUCH for her wonderful work with my daughter.  Kehelea is so enthusiastic and encouraging!

She has also been learning about the Republican nominees, DNA and alleles, writing LOTS, and she's been walking and biking a bit.

There has also been some wrestling and some tickling going on!

We've had a pretty wonderful January!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Homeschool Pen Pals

When I was growing up, I had some great friends who started out as pen pals.  People from other parts of the country that I exchanged letters with weekly, sometimes more!  lol
I would love to see my kids developing friendships in that way.  Are pen pals a thing of the past?????
Are PENS a thing of the past?????????
I have been thinking about setting up a site for homeschoolers to connect with one another by snail mail.
Maybe starting with matching kids up from one HS group in another part of the country with kids from our HS group...
I don't know.
Would this work?
Any suggestions or thoughts???

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Relativism and Atheism

A friend of mine has an online atheist parenting magazine called Bright Parenting Magazine. She recently put out a call for articles, specifically, on virtues. I started writing, but kept getting stuck. The more I wrote and thought, the shorter the list of "obvious" virtues there were.

I started out considering the list from Bright Parenting Magazine:  Humility, Empathy, Courage, Honestly, Openness, Generosity, and Gratitude. I was focusing on "HUMILITY". The more I thought about it, the less convinced I was that the traditional definition of humility was, truly, a virtue.
What IS a virtue? Various sources define virtue as "moral excellence" according to Wiki, THIS from www.thefreedictionary.com:

1.   a. Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.
      b. An example or kind of moral excellence: the virtue of patience.
2. Chastity, especially in a woman.
3. A particularly efficacious, good, or beneficial quality; advantage: a plan with the virtue of being practical.
4. Effective force or power: believed in the virtue of prayer.
5. virtues Christianity The fifth of the nine orders of angels in medieval angelology.

That dictionary actually claims that CHASTITY, especially in a woman is a virtue! (KMA, thefreedictionary.) Other sources define virtue as  "moral excellence; goodness; righteousness. 2. conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude," according to dictionary.reference.com.  

OK, so I'm willing to go with "ethical excellence", as I avoid the word moral at all costs. I don't care for the religious overtones, not to mention the overuse of the word. So, in my usual way of defining my own darn terms, we will refer to virtues at ethical excellences. Political correctness and brevity be damned.

Now, let's look again at that list of ethical excellences.  Are they truly signs of ethical excellence?
  • Humility
  • Empathy
  • Courage
  • Honestly
  • Openness
  • Generosity
  • Gratitude
Beginning with humility, I already have a problem. The church has always encouraged it's devotees to be humble, to exhibit humility. In other words, to view themselves as unworthy, despite one's good qualities. I have always detested this one. Must I be modest if I am a good person? Is it honestly a way to advance our culture and ourselves, by undervaluing one's self?

Take a moment and go "Google" the word "Humility".
Go ahead. I'll wait.
If you get the same results that I did, you got over 39 million results. All of the top hits come from websites that are religious in nature OR that ascribe humility as a characteristic associated with Jesus.

Maybe the problem lies with the differing qualities generally associated with humility. Here are a few that I read from these top-linked websites from my search:
  • meek
  • self-effacing
  • humble
  • even humiliating one's self.
Is it possible that this so-called virtue is simply not all that virtuous?  If I am not trying to control you, having you be meek and self-effacing does nothing but make you feel like crap...right?  Like you will never be good enough.

Many traditional "virtues" have become obsolete as time has gone on. Perhaps some "virtues" simply run their course in history. Chastity, for example, isn't really the virtue it used to be. We no longer judge a person's "goodness" by whether or not they are chaste or sexually active. Besides, it occurs to me that this particular value seems to have always been in reference to women. For that matter, would "obedience" still be considered a virtue when no religion was asking for it?
Ethical excellences, one would assume, are those qualities that denote exceptional goodness. Is humility even on your radar?
So, let's strike off humility.

Next is Empathy. Dictionary.reference.com defines empathy as:  the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Listen, this is a good one. I like it when the people I am around are capable of identifying with my feelings and can respond to them. 
On the other hand, I have some friends who are exceptionally shy or socially-reserve. These are some terrifically good people. Although they are less likely to identify with and understand the feelings of everyone around them, some of these people are so good and kind and well-meaning that I can't not include them in the Ethical Excellence Club.

And so, I'm sorry, but I am going to have to remove empathy from the list. Not because I don't see it's value and it's goodness; I do! But because I simply don't like it being on THE LIST.

Courage. Are we saying here that people who are fearful or apprehensive or anxious can't be among the ethically excellent? I'm against this one on the list too. I'm sure that each of us knows of an anxious person who is so good that they almost break your heart.

Listen, I get it! It takes courage to stand up for what is right. It takes courage to do the right thing in the face of opposition. As an atheist, I can totally relate. But for those people who have difficulty with this, I don't see why their inherent anxiety or angst makes them a less ethical person than the next guy..?
Sorry, I'm going to have to strike that one too.

Honesty? Gee. It's difficult to find the grey area of honesty. I will leave the research up to you, but there truly are different levels of honesty depending upon one's intended outcome. I have been seriously emotionally wounded by someone who claimed that their words were an attempt to be "honest" with me. Most of us, I am sure, can come up with similar situations. Is it possible that honesty can be judged based upon each situation? Situational honesty...

The funny thing about atheists, though, with regards to honesty, is this. I find atheists to be honest almost to a fault. We try so hard to be upfront and clear that, often we tend to say a bit too much. Also, it's possible to be honest with everyone else except for ourselves. In this case, are we being honest?

I don't know about you, but even honesty seems a bit of a murky subject philosophically. I'm going to have to scratch it as it no longer seems universally to be an ethical excellence list component.

Openness... Aw geez, I know that you know where I am going with this.

Does being an ethical excellence relativist make me wishy-washy?  I dislike THE BOX, THE LIST, THE MAN, and The Authoritatively Correct Thing.
Am I wishy-washy? Maybe. But I'm happy here in the grey.


January 26, 2012:
After thinking about this for several days now and reading as much on it as possible in these days, I would have to claim the following values:  do no harm, integrity, empathy, reason, and kindness.  These five values cover a range of other possible inclusions.
Not a bad list, considering this is the first "research" I've actually done on this topic!

Has anyone doubted your ability to be "good without god"? 
How do you usually respond to that?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Evolution Myths Busted

 Here is a kick ass website for evolution.  Especially if you find the need to debate it.

I was reading some blogs tonight and I'm SHOCKED and ...well, SHOCKED at the number of adults who are out there blogging about creation or blogging against evolution.  In addition to referencing "The Bible" as a source for explanations, and in addition to referring to Roe vs. Wade as "asinine", and for suggesting that National Geographic is waaay off the mark when it refers to it's "facts", reading these blogs is enough to make a parent want dropkick Tim Tebow through the goal posts of life.  It makes me, in fact, so angry, that the smug face of Bill O'Reilly makes me want to throw something at it.

I'm not a violent person, but reading this drivel is enough to choke the pacifism right out of me.

I need to remind myself of my beliefs!  I need to get myself back to a happy place:
  • I believe in the goodness of all humans.
  • I believe that all humans deserve basic dignities.
  • I believe that people mean well and are doing their best.
  • I believe in freedom of speech.
  • I believe that people are doing their best each moment.
  • I believe that human beings have insatiable curiosity.
  • I believe that there is no end to the goodness we are capable of.
  • I believe that education of all kinds is a key to becoming the best "you" a person can be.
  • I believe in revering nature and all natural sources.
  • I believe in the uniqueness of every person.
  • I believe that everyone is deserving of respect.

Good grief, this crap isn't working!!!!!
Just looking at his smug, fat face brings out the anger in me!
I honestly think it has alot to do with choosing to remain ignorant of natural truths and choosing to use the public sector as a means for encouraging enmity and discord.

ACK, I have to get his face away from me!

If you enjoyed this post you may also like to read:

The Kids and Atheism

John Muir

Take a course in good water and air;
and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own.
Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.
John Muir (1838 - 1914)

Friday, January 20, 2012


Homeschoolers are NOTORIOUS for privacy AND for excellent blogs...LOL...We may possibly be a bit dichotomous. 

In the spirit of getting to know more about the readers of this blog, ALL readers, not just the homeschoolers, I have come up with a brief questionnaire for ALL.  Please, if you are interested, copy and paste my questions into your reply box and...ANSWER THEM!

ALL Questions are to ask your kids!
  1. Are you a homeschooler?  If so, what "type"?
  2. What books are your favorites?  School books? 
  3. Reading books?  And why???
  4. What do you do FOR FUN that doesn't count as a lesson?
  5. Do you have any friends or family that don't really support homeschooling?  What do they say and what do YOU say to them?
  6. What is a unique lesson your family has participated in lately?
  7. What is each child's favorite activity?
  8. Give some advice to "newbies" to homeschool.
  9. What has been very hard for you?
  10. What was not as hard as you had anticipated?
  11. Do you have a favorite website or other curriculum piece?
  12. Do you have any favorite homeschool jokes or comics?
  13. What do they love about homeschooling?
  14. What is Mom or Dad's STRENGTH when homeschooling?
  15. What is something that is hard to focus on?
  16. What do people ask you or say to you about homeschooling? 
  17. Have you had anything funny happen when people discover you homeschool?
Thanks so much for participating!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Science Time and We're Doing the Litmus Test

We're having an active and fun day exploring pH.
Litmus paper is cheap and easy to come by; so get some!
We first spent some time online learning about pH, what it means, H+ and OH-, acidity, alkalinity, and base.
We started with this website, Chem4Kids:
Next we made a list of dozens of things we wanted to check out pH levels on.
  • Soft Scrub with Bleach was 11
  • baking soda water was 8.5
  • Gaviscon was 7
  • salt water is 5
  • nail polish remover is 5
  • dish soap is a 4
  • vinegar is 3.5
  • windex is 12
  • strawberry is 3
  • saliva is 6
  • Poppy seed salad dressing is a 4
  • milk is 7
  • first aid spray is a 5
  • soy sauce is 3.5
  • mouth wash is 3
  • 7-Up soda is 4
  • Dr. Pepper is 3.5
  • Olive Oil for cooking is 4.4
  • tomato sauce is 3.5
  • and number 1 is 7.  (I won't tell you whose number 1 we checked!)

That was fun.
But THEN came the insanity.  We started mixing things and figuring out if they would become more basic or acidic.  LOL

The energy level in this house, considering there are only two kids, is sky high.  Dr. Who is totally business.  Bonobo is totally play.

We had a wonderful time and everyone helped with the clean up!
REWARD:  Orange and apple slices!


Questions for further study:

Bonobo:  What IS litmus paper?  How does it work?  What is on the litmus paper that makes it able to detect hydrogen ions?  Can we make our own litmus paper?

Dr. Who:  When will 5:00 pm get here?!!!!!!!

We did further research on the questions and now we want to make our own cabbage-based litmus paper.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rethinking Education

Besides being a KICK ASS video, the messages are amazing!
It has the exciting title "Changing Educational Paradigms".  
I know...*yawn*  
But I PROMISE it will capture your attention!

I am a Homeschool Mom

I've been thinking about being a homeschooling mom, what that means to me, what I bring to the table.  I remembered that I have a post from 2010 from this blog that expresses it fairly well. 
So, to reprieve: from September 2010:

I am a Homeschool Mom
I was thinking about what I wanted to write about and what I know about. HOMESCHOOLING MOTHER is the thing that I know the best!

I am a good homeschooling mom and I'm going to muse on why I am good. What do I do that makes me certain, confident, comfortable, and effective as a mother homeschooling the two more important people on earth? I have honestly never adequately put this into words. I've tried, but I have never been satisfied with it. I'll try again now. 

I'm not perfect and I have made many mistakes. I'm not always patient. I'm not always encouraging. I'm not always tuned in to their needs. I'm not always open and ready for the next teachable moment. I could freely list my iniquities...but I think you get the idea!

But I love them enough to allow them to make their own mistakes. I love them enough to tailor each and every lesson to each of my children. I love them enough to include character-building into each and every lesson. I love them enough to allow each of my children to struggle in the ways that strengthen them. I love them enough to let them know when they have not done their best and to encourage them to do it for the sake of having done it. I love them enough to not sweat the small stuff. I love them enough to let them "disappoint me". I love them enough to know when they need time away, time back to lessons, time to follow their own bliss. I love them enough to let them know that their abilities and strengths are not diminished by those things that are difficult for them.

I truly enjoy being with them. I enjoy seeing their comradeship with one another. I enjoy seeing them handle their own conflicts with respect. I enjoy seeing them support and encourage each other through difficult times, performances, moody days, boredom, busy days, day in, and day out. I enjoy seeing them take the leap to understand things that are "above their level". I enjoy seeing them as they struggle with those things that are "below their level" and still know that they are trying their hardest. I enjoy seeing them instigate a field of study for the day through their own interests and zeal for learning. I enjoy being there when one of them says or does something so very wonderful that even /they/ are aware of the significance of that moment.

A child's thirst for knowledge is so very unique to that child. As a homeschooling mother, I am uniquely aware of those interests and I enjoy showing them just how very 'NOW' and 'today' and RELEVANT learning is and can be for them.

I know when internal pressure, frustration, energy, and other factors have just gotten in the way of their learning. I can see it immediately and I can and do point it out and help my kids to find their way back to focus on the work.

And, you know, as I've been writing, it has occurred to me that the single best thing that I bring to the table is my own enthusiasm for learning. I have many varied interests and experiences that make me an admirable teacher! I enjoy learning and I have taken the time to follow my own bliss. I think that THIS is what makes me a wonderful teacher to my own children!

Emerson's "Self Reliance"

There is some writing that I have always adored and that I read and reread.  And each time I spend some time with this piece, I read something new in it.  It is Emerson's "Self Reliance".  I recently found a cool blog activity, a 30-day writing challenge associated with others who love his writing, that I want to do.
On this blog.Tee Hee.  I hope this entertains as much as I plan on enjoying it!

Jan 20, I've decided to NOT blog this as it is quite TMI, 
but I'm leaving this post in case anyone is interested in the project. 

Here is today's PROMPT from Self Reliance:

Ordinary Things by Ana Guardia

“Every artist was first an amateur.”

To be an artist one has to find beauty in ordinary things. 
Find 10 things of great beauty in the landscape that surrounds you. 
For example, crumple sheets on your bed in the morning, 
the smell of coffee making its way around a busy office.

  1. The sound of my son and daughter singing a song together in the other room.
  2. The smooth shiny wood of the desk top
  3. This adorable little box in which I keep my flossers handy.
  4. In front of me is an old picture of my Aunt Elizabeth, age about 98 in the picture.  She is wearing a striped orange sweatshirt and a ski cap.
  5. Hanging on the desk lamp is a small stuffed purple dragon keychain given to me by a young and sweet friend of the family.  He brought it to me and handed it to me with a smile.
  6. On the table across the room is a pile of new books, purchased for my reading fever.  They are stacked haphazardly, next to the new sofa lamp.
  7. Sticking out of the letter holder on this desk is a small circle of embroidered fabric that I created one night using the pretty threads I had purchased for another project.  Just a random pattern that I created as I stitched.
  8. My glass sits on a beautifully painted wooden coaster sent to me by my friend Rayven from Okinawa.  Probably junk souvenirs for the tourists, but painted with leaping dolphins against a red sunset.
  9. In front of me is a business card sent to me by my sister Brenda in Colorado.  It is really beautiful.  A sky blue on one with with her contact information, a color image of some gorgeous Colorado landscape.  
  10. and Sitting beside my computer is a stack of Holiday cards, all of them a mini-microcosm of the sender's faith and creed.
Lovely, I am surrounded by beauty.

Monday, January 16, 2012

You Live and You Learn...

In a previous post I talked about how we have plans to take January OFF and to do new things each day.
Didn't work!

Today we had the moment where we were disgusted with our own indolence and we decided to get cracking!  Everyone was excited and full of vibrancy after we decided to GET BUSY.

Immediately each child had a million things and plans and work that they were wanting to do.  I have to admit, I was a bit floored.  With total freedom and "permission" to do absolutely nothing, they prefer to be productive?

As I always say, being a homeschooling mom means to be learning forever!

I was proud of our conversation and I was proud of the kids' abilities to ask for what they want. And I am happy to be getting into the books again. I admit, I was feeling pretty crappy about how little we were doing. WHEW, I'm glad the feeling was mutual!

This evening I've been working on some projects that the kids wanted to work on. In the meantime, Jerry and Liz are out working on the set for the upcoming show! This is TECH WEEK and we are all busy with projects for the performance. I hope I remember to post some pictures of the dress she will be wearing.

The show is set in 1916 and we were having a heck of a time finding a formal dress for her to wear. Finally a friend loaned us a very pretty black lacy dress. I made about a dozen "upgrades" to the 1916 style. It's now STUNNING! I'll make sure to get some pictures and post them.

THANK YOU Patti Schneiderjohn for sharing your 1980's fashions with us!

And, tonight, John John has been dancing, martial artsing, bathing, and snacking. Just your basic night.

And, finally, last night I spent some time making my own personalized clip art for this blog. It was a blast and I made about a hundred of them. LOL
I hope they make my blog look SO MUCH more cool!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

That's My Girl...

challenging children
From behind her locked bedroom door I hear her singing, humming, dancing, laughing, talking with friends, and silent. I know that, within her private sanctuary, she is reading, writing, living, and loving. She shares her poetry with me. I get to read her fan fic. I get to hear the songs she is willing to share. With a sense of wonder, I think to myself, that's MY girl!

She attires herself with style and personality. She carries herself with the seeming dichotomous qualities of dignity and timidity. She shares her deepest self with me with such courage and trust that I am humbled. She carries qualities of every other woman in my family and in Jerry's family. She, while being a kaleidoscope of past females, is distinctively herself. She carries her shoulders back and her head up high. That is my girl.

She is able to stand in front of crowds of strangers and receive their attention, their applause, their energy. She can stand there as they rise to their feet and clap hands with the thrill of acclaim and ovations. It is a wonder to see her accept those accolades with a bowed head and quiet smile. That is my girl.

She quietly lounges with her reading or her writing, continually trying on fictional "lives" and, thereby, standing up for who SHE is. She accepts my apologies and my love as I patiently learn anew and again the best ways to love this child. She struggles with some qualities of "self" while fiercely hanging on to who she is determined to be. She forges her own way through the unforgiving treacheries of adolescence. She sings her own tune. That is my girl.

Looking in to my daughter's eyes I see determination, defiance, curiosity and wisdom, teasing, trust. I see the sunshine of her spirit, a spirit indomitable and exquisite. The soft grey-blue eyes play with the colors she surrounds herself with. Her hesitant smile, while awaiting your goodwill, steadfastly offers her good heart. She looks at me and I know she is happy. She shares the things that thrill her. She is moved by love and sweetness. She is the early morning of hope. She is my girl.

She loops her arms about my shoulders, gathering me close. She touches her cheek with mine as we feel one another smile. She wraps herself tightly around me, somehow leaving space for her independence. She hold my hand as I drive. She offers me her mints. She shares her secrets and her hopes and the loves of her life with me, late in the night, quiet as midnight. She giggles and dances with her dad in a dance of pure love. And, when the moon is just right, she offers us the very best of herself. She is my girl.

She and I are writing a play together as well as working on other projects together. Deep inside, I feel solid as a rock. She is my girl.

You Might Also Enjoy:  
Heart Outside of my Body
Proud Momma Moment: My Daughter's Rant
A Parental Confession
It's Going to be Worth It

My Boy...

I can see him now...sitting on the floor with his back to me, arms askew, Legos sorted into incomprehensible piles... The sounds of pilots, attackers, and heroes coming out of both sides of his mouth. Adventure pouring around and through him. His elbows stick out a bit too far, his hands fumble as he gets used to his longer fingers, his knee caps visible from behind as his legs lengthen...

My boy loves to snuggle up under the covers with my hands in his hair. He loves to sit on my lap and listen to books. His lips whisper secrets into my neck as he holds on tight. His secrets slip into my waiting and longing ears. His fingers slip around mine as we walk away from the car, his eyes slip over to me with a crinkly grin. His song echoes through the bathroom door as he reads long after he needs to be in there. His too-long bangs fall into his eyes; my fingers long to sweep them aside so I can see those grey-green eyes.

My boy reads my moods quicker than a barometer. He sneaks a cherry-flavored cough drop out of my dresser drawer and shows it to me before slipping it sweetly into his mouth. He tells on himself when he forgets to do something. He folds clothes into clumps and puts them away. He stands close enough to me for me to breath in his freshness, his "outside" smell. He laughs riotously and secretly gathers his blanky close at night. He talks during every reading of the book with other thoughts that his mind can't possibly contain for one more second. His fingers slip silently into my hand as he dreams. He gently adjusts his toys...

My boy gets cross when he witnesses injustice, injury, and cruelty.  He gets sad when he sees unkindness.

My boy tells me everything. He lowers his eyes with a grin and tells me about a pretty girl. He can't believe how he was lucky enough to get the best mom on earth. He is curious about where dialects come from. He wonders what people "get" from being mean to others. He has questions about refraction, life, and gummy bears. My boy hugs his buddies, his family, his friends.

My heart aches with love for this child.
I hope every day that Jerry and I are able to provide him with the strength, love, constancy, and direction that he will need in this world. 

I can see him now...sitting on the floor with his back to me, arms askew, Legos sorted into incomprehensible piles... The sounds of pilots, attackers, and heroes coming out of both sides of his mouth. Adventure pouring around and through him. His elbows stick out a bit too far, his hands fumble as he gets used to his longer fingers, his knee caps visible from behind...I slip into the room, sit quietly, and begin playing...

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not-Back-to-School Party

homeschool co op, field trips,

Today our homeschool group had an event at a local favorite family spot, the City Museum.  It is a unique play-and-learn MARVEL of a location for getting together with friends and hanging out.  The entire place is styled by architects who have no end to their creativity.  There is not a single inch of this place that doesn't show, in the minutest of detail, the talents of internationally acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly and his team.

Our group occupied the building from the first through the fourth floors and it was an amazing sight of kids enjoying themselves on materials salvaged from various building sites and other donated materials.

This place is the original STEAM PUNK fun spot!
We had some new families show up to see our group at it's best.

At one point, several of the moms and I were talking and the moms were saying that some of the other Christian homeschooling groups in the area refer to our homeschool group as "That Group", as though we were infamous for our dirty dealings or something...LOL.  We are secular as a group, but there are people who practice many different religions and creeds.  Atheists, Agnostic, Mormon, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Quaker, Pagan, and probably other creeds that I don't even know about.  It's a wonderful group that loves and accepts all people. 
That is why I found it interesting that our group is actually being spoken of by other groups.  I can't even remember other groups being discussed AT ALL in our group except for if a member had dual membership and is mentioning activities with other groups.  I guess I shouldn't be, but I am flabbergasted at the negativity.

Ah well, back to the fun of the day!

We had about 80 adults, teens, and children running through the mazes and secret tunnels, climbing the structures, inside and out, and enjoying the beauty, magnificence, and FUN of this great St. Louis attraction.

Oh, and we were celebrating our children NOT returning to school after the holidays...
a GREAT reason to celebrate!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homeschool Support and Information for Newbies

Just a QUICK blog post to pass along this excellent website I just found.  A website that contains so much information on homeschooling it almost makes everyone else obsolete!  (JK!)


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reasons Why You Should Not Homeschool

I have given this alot of thought and I realize that homeschooling is NOT for everyone. As much as I believe that most people could homeschool the hell out of their beloved family I realize that it is not the right choice for some people for some very important reasons.

Here are the reasons that I have come up with.  PLEASE FEEL FREE to add to my list.
  1. If you simply adore the selling of the pizza, gift wrap, nuts, cookies, posters, holiday cards, and other fund raisers, you should not homeschool.  If going door-to-door, taking the order form to work, and delivering in the dead of winter is a bright part of your year, I would hate for you to miss out!
  2. If you enjoy making the same lunch look different each morning, you might miss that if you homeschool. I mean, who doesn't want to make smiley faces with apple slices, raisins, and peanut butter sandwiches?!
  3. If you whole heartedly agree with recent decision that pizza is, in fact, a vegetable, then please don't homeschool! We like to lump VEGETABLES in the vegetable group.
  4. If your children love the school breakfasts too, yum.
  5. If you sincerely love the morning round-up of the carpool,
  6. If  your children love the fun of the school bus, including the kids at the back of the bus,
  7. If you and your children love the rules of the school system that guide your every move, you should not homeschool.
  8. If you enjoy handing the reins of your child over to a teacher who is holding 29 other sets of reins...for over six hours a day,
  9. If you love that early morning WAKE UP routine,
  10. If you enjoy the parent/teacher conferences where your child's teacher shares successes and goals with you and decides what is important in your child's learning career,
  11. If it is OK with you that  your teacher knows more about your child's day than you do,
  12. If your child enjoys being a "Wallflower", "Bully", "Brain", or any other label, 
  13. If you think that being bullied prepares a child for life,
  14. If you think a classroom full of 26 other ten-year-olds is "an environment conducive to learning",
  15. If you don't mind paying for school pictures, supplies, new clothes, books, Kleenex for the teacher, valentines, art fee, 
  16. If you don't mind your son coming home telling you that Josh's brother told Josh where babies come from that Josh shared that nugget with your son,
  17. If you think your child will learn best from his seat,
  18. If you have a problem with books on your kitchen table, under the bed, on wall-spanning bookshelves, and every other level space in the house,
  19. If you enjoy the past-bedtime freak out of not having the project done for tomorrow,
  20. Or the two hours of homework each night,
  21. Or if you enjoy your kids having to check with their friends before they can make up their own minds,
  22. If you enjoy drilling a sobbing child in multiplication tables,
  23. If you don't mind your child being around "the seven deadly words" each day,
  24. Or the depression of the Friday spelling test,
  25. If you have a problem with the grocery story lady asking "are the kids off of school today?",
  26. If you prefer having your kids SOMEWHERE ELSE,
  27. If you don't mind the forgotten lunch, back pack, permission slip,
  28. If you dislike rainy days in pajamas and reading books together,
  29. or if you simply don't like them then you probably shouldn't homeschool.

Look, I admit that a bit of this is tongue-in-cheek and I have many public schooled kids that I ADORE.
But don't miss my point:

It will be different and it will not look like school
and you CAN do it!

In Retrospect...Considering Homeschool

considering homeschool

I was just about to read a blog post by another homeschooling parent, a post called Beginning Homeschooling:  What I Wish I Had  Done Differently. I love the idea of that post. So, I didn't read it. Instead I came here to post my own thoughts on the matter before reading her thoughts. 

We have homeschooled from almost the beginning. My 14 year old daughter had a year of preschool and half a year of kindergarten. She also has had a few sporadic forays into public education for a variety of reasons, all of which lasted very brief periods of time. My 11 year old son has never been in school at all. He has never expressed the slightest interest in going to school.
So we have homeschooled from the start; we had no transitional time from public school to homeschool. Not really.

It's a difficult concept to consider and I'm not even sure how useful the thought is to another family. Homeschooling experiences are so unique and so diverse.
What would I change, having started homeschooling from the first?
  • I'm not sure it is actually possible, but I wish I could have relaxed in that first year. I was a nervous wreck, though I was certain we were on the right road.
  • I would have been less defensive with people in the beginning.  But, again, you live and you learn. Maybe I had to earn the wisdom that comes from years of homeschooling.
  • I would have spent less money. I am a book lover so I probably would still spend money on my library, but, probably, far less on texts and workbooks that were never used. Also, less on stuff I thought I needed to do.
  • I would worry less about written work. The type of work whose sole purpose is to determine if my child comprehended the work or not. I would trust in the learning process without the constant need for testing it. Again, I probably needed to learn that one too.
  •  I like to think I would have felt more confident about my instincts. I often have these feelings that I need to try one thing and to let go of another. I can think of a time or two where it took me a fairly long time to trust that instinct. It has to do with trusting myself, trusting my children, and trusting the learning process. Maybe, again, I had to experience those times in order to learn from them.
Overall, my experience seems to be that I needed to learn how beautiful and natural the process of learning actually is. It took me quite a long time to get out of my "school-y" head and to not apply that same method of study to our homeschool life together. Many times I have gone back on past subjects and tested the kids and they have looked at me like I have lost my mind. They can't possibly know the fear the comes from being a parent! Anyway, it turns out that they always know and they always remember and they have often made connections between seemingly divergent points. They don't keep subject matter compartmentalized as I did:  this is Science, this is Math, this is History, this is Art. Instead, they see the world as a complex and interconnected place. I love seeing that they truly ARE learning daily and making sense of the world as we go.

I am happy that we have often taken lots of time "off" and gone out to play, explore, experience the world. We have done many projects, games, and activities together. We have created our own things to play with and have used them in many ways. We have spent hours on board games, puzzles, putting on shows, dressing up, pretending, and just hanging out and laughing. I think we got that part RIGHT!

That's a good question: what else have we gotten right?

I have changed materials fairly quickly when we didn't care for them. I have responded to the kids' suggestions for areas of study or exploration. I have encouraged the kids to follow their bliss with activities. I have gone out of my way again and again in following their bliss. Perfection is unnecessary. Mistakes are wonderful ways to learn. We appreciate the flexibility. We take vacations on "off" times. We travel as much as possible. I have stayed up late with one child and gotten up early with the other one in order to have excellent and extensive one-on-one time with each child. Times I cherish so much. We have put aside the books and learned from many other sources, people, websites, locations, events, and points of view. We have made friends from as many different strata as possible, with wonderful results! We have not lingered in painful friendships unnecessarily. We have worked on cold and rainy days and taken breathtakingly beautiful days OFF. We have rushed forward in textbooks when the interest and ability were there and we have lagged behind in others when the interest and ability were not there. We have valued quality over quantity. We have made efforts to create learning experiences for our friends and co-homeschoolers by sharing our talents and interests. We have worked on character and ethics and citizenship frequently and continually. And we have studied hard whenever we were able to buckle down and focus.

I think we have done great. And we continue to revisit our methodology and subject matter regularly to make sure we are still on the right track and doing what makes sense in the ways that work. Homeschooling my children is one of the greatest joys of my life.

So, if you are thinking about starting homeschooling soon, or if you are researching, maybe these thoughts will help you.

My main advice:  

What advice would you give to someone considering homeschooling?

English 1

Getting a special book as a gift
One day my daughter, The Doctor, and I were reading a novel together and talking about the book. You know, analyzing it and whatnot. It occurred to me that this would be alot more fun if other people were in the discussion too.
Our homeschool co op class English 1 was born.

I offered it as a class to our co op and it went over well! We are reading novels, plays, poetry, Shakespeare, and prose. We are writing poetry, paragraphs, five-paragraph essays, journal entries, personal blog posts, and, eventually, the two-page essay. The class has become a wonderful part of each week.
On Wednesdays, the kids tromp over and hang out. When class begins, we have a short writing prompt for our journals. Then we have a lesson in grammar, writing, analysis, or other types of lessons. We read poetry in class, public speaking, and reading our journals.

We have also had "film nights" when we have read books that have been made into movies. These are pretty fun and include alot of hanging out, loud laughter, interested comments, and a more full understanding of the story. Our first film night was the Franco Zerrirelli's 1968 film Romeo and Juliet.

It is a great group of kids who are, mostly, involved, prepared, and engaged.

One neat thing we did was this. Everyone in the class went to www.blogger.com and started their own blogs for middle-of-the-week lessons. The blogs are each unique and express each person in their own distinctive way. One girl designed her blog to look like pie! Another boy has penguins all over his blog, including sound! Some of the titles are extremely clever and the designs are ingenious!  Hockey, writing, horse riding, playgrounds, funny titles, pictures, captions.  It's fantastic to see their creativity!

Using this venue, I can comment on assigned work and offer personalized suggestions for further skills work or just work for the fun of it. The blog idea is a cool one because the kids have become better at organizing their writing as well as designing their own personal writing space. The blog is, at this point, private, between each student, their parents, and me.

I give activities for reading and writing during the week and they post this work on their blog. From these posts, the kids get very individualized critique from me AND a pretty neat way to express themselves in their own unique ways! Using the blog, I can give extra work through the week and each student can work on writing ideas unique to their own goals. Also, many of the kids write extra stuff on their own and offer it to me to read on their blogs. It's a real honor to have such work shared with me.

Coming in a few weeks, I'm offering a writing workshop for kids from this group and other teens or adults as well. We will do some fun writing activities and games.

Because the common wisdom is:  If you want to learn how to write, you have to WRITE!

This class is one of those activities that give our homeschool experience such meaning. We created it, carried it out, and offered it to others. I enjoy having the kids grow, try their wings, and offer glimpses of their genius!

The kids enjoy it so much, they have added a second part to the class that begins in February. They have added One Acts, as an activity class where the participants will write, produce, and put on their own one act(s)! The kids will be working out how the class goes, will find sets, costumes, and props, and will put on the show for our homeschool group.

Talk about seeing GROWTH happen!!!