Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I've Been Framing

What I Don't Show You (and Why I Blog Carefully)


I've been thinking about something for awhile now and, WHAM, out of the blue I find another blogger has beaten me to it! Sarah Small at Small World at Home wrote a post about how she tends to edit her life when she blogs. She brilliantly posts her lovely pics beside the unedited/uncropped photo that includes the dirty, messy, broken, and unattractive side of the same view.


While I don’t do the kind of gorgeous photography that Sarah does, my pics seem to show my clutter (!), I do post words that tend to show the positive, easy, lovely, clever, creative, well-functioning, brilliant, and beautiful side of our lives.


Of course our lives aren’t perfect!  Please never click away from my blog feeling WORSE because you think I have all of my ducks in a row. My ducks are as scattered as the next guy’s ducks. In my enthusiasm and dedication to support and encourage other homeschoolers and/or atheists in their lifestyles, I do tend to focus on the positive. That is my nature, actually. It’s not that the crap and the crud of life isn’t here, it’s that I tend to reframe those things for myself.


For example, we are MOVING to Australia!



Wanna see the mess of my home today??? I have dozens of things on Craigslist, dozens of people walking through the disaster of my house to “shop” for my stuff or for books from my Please-Close-Soon homeschool store, bags of donation, bags of trash, boxes to store, and even MORE that still needs donating/trashing/storing. 


My trash can in the kitchen stinks. When you turn on the oven, stuff burns inside. The pantry is overflowing with Shake N Bake but no other real food. The dishwasher is broken and needs replacing or repairing. The kids' rooms are overflowing. I have a STORE in my basement. I seem to be a bit of a hoarder where family stuff is concerned. I have mail that needed to go out last week. It's dusty here. Someone spilled salt in the kitchen and it's still there. I think I accidentally threw away the check book. I can't walk through the family room. The door is off the frame downstairs. I made a potpourri of lunch things today...trying to empty out the freezer. We're out of ketchup, soy sauce, and milk. My store signs tore paint off of the wall.  We have a kid coming in town this weekend to spend THE WEEK.


The kids? Bonobo has been on the computer all morning with a friend, The Doctor has friends over, and everyone has been eating and making messes on every square inch of this house. 


Two people are due within the hour to pick up Craigslisted stuff and two people are arriving to shop the homeschool stuff. IN THIS mortifying HOUSE!  LOL 


The Doctor is refusing to be kind to Bonobo while her friends are here and she's a bit...testy. Bonobo is bored beyond belief and keeps needing me to take him places, get people here, and generally entertain him. Lessons? Well, we did some yesterday, but otherwise: BAA HAA HAAAAAA!


I think you get the idea. I'm sure you are forgiving ALL of that forgive your own too.

I’m not perfect; Sarah is not perfect; you’re not perfect. But, somehow, we are all capable of real beauty and joy, if only we choose to focus on it.



I will be hostessing the upcoming  

Carnival of Homeschooling!
Please submit your homeschool blog post ASAP!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

TEN FACTS About How We Homeschool

I have written time and again about WHY we homeschool. Oh gosh, I have written at least two dozen blog posts on that one! I've written about our favorite things. Things people say. What to do. What not to do. Advice. Like that. This post will be a little bit different. This is a here and now post, a what's up post, a what's going on post.

 This is ten things you would see 
if you were here on a day of lessons.

1.  On the table, the kids will find a page called "Assignment" for each of them. On the assignment sheet is their work for the day OR, at times, for the week. A part of the assignment is to know what needs doing and to organize their time to get things done. Here are some examples of what the kids might find on their personal assignment page:
  • Biology:  Read Pages 350-366. Do all questions at the end of the chapter. In the lab book, read the experiment all of the way through and discuss the experiment and its needs with mom. Answer the questions that Mom has written out for you. Discuss with Mom.
  • Watch YouTube videos called "The Secret Life of Bees" and "Honeybee Communities"
  • Algebra:  Reread Chapter 26. Do practice problems 20 - 45, odd only. Read Chapter 27. Do practice problems 1 - 24, odd only.
  • Watch two TEDtalks of your choice.
  • Read the attached science news (or cultural news or other news) and LET'S DISCUSS!
  • On Google Earth, let's find the "head waters" of the Mississippi River and let's follow it until it empties out into the Gulf of Mexico!
  • Listen to yesterday's three Vivaldi songs. Read Wiki about Vivaldi. Find another website on Vivaldi and explore that website. Sketch or ZenTangle as you listen if you wish.
  • Go to and find out what President Obama is doing today. Find some news stories about his activities.
  • Walk with your brother for at least twenty minutes. (Take some money and go to the ice cream store if you wish.)
  • Put away laundry from the dryer and start another load in the washer.
Once Upon A Time
This is a COOL card game!
2.  Elizabeth, further, is always reading a book and she is responsible for making progress in her book. She is also ALWAYS writing. This is a part of her lessons. She sometimes writes poetry, sometimes fan fic, sometimes an essay I have assigned. I read it, use editing marks, and we talk about how to make improvements.

3.  John is always working on news and science news. He has a variety of online news story sites that he enjoys. He and his sister also will, on occasion, watch documentaries of their choice on Netflix.

4.  SOMEWHERE in this house you will find ten thousand ballpoint pens.
But I have NO idea where they are.

5.  I have a small business and they participate in that with me. They are paid $3 an hour for their assistance whenever customers are here and $2 an hour for times when the store is "open" and no one is shopping, just for being available.

Discover (2-year)6.  We often start out the day in my room. Everyone piles in and we read from a variety of materials or play a variety of games. Among the books we are currently reading are "40 Philosophy Questions for Kids", "Sherlock Homes", and "The Little Blue Book of Logic". Among the games are Mastermind, card games, Blokus, and Labyrinth. We also read National Geographic and Discover magazines...a GREAT way to start the day! This almost always starts our day off on a happy and productive note.

7.  The kids basically graze all day. We do have lunch, but these kids are always snacking! John John loves Goldfish, peanut butter and celery, tomato soup, turkey, and carrots. Elizabeth loves oranges, raman noodles, lemonade, and yogurt.

8.  John is highly active and often does martial arts, gymnastics, or play with toys while I am reading to him. He takes EVERYTHING in the whole time.
At times I will have to stop and say, "Come on, Buddy, what did I just say?" And he will repeat it word for word...LOL. 

9.  I use textbooks. I have about a hundred different publishers in my store, but what I really and truly prefer:  textbooks. The kids use textbooks for Algebra and Math, Science and Biology, Language Arts, and anything else I like. Of course, as eclectic homeschoolers, we also use every other type of material we get our hands on!

10. After they get their work done, or often during their work, the kids are totally free to do any other activity that grabs their attention. 

We are HAPPY and LOVE homeschooling!
What does your day look like? 

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
A Day in the Life

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Aussie Bound

OK, that's the big news:


Jer's work has offered him a consulting position near Brisbane and we are TAKING IT!

The kids and I are like:


 We are planning on leaving about mid-August, leaving the house, (currently looking for people to lease it), taking a couple of bags, and finding a place in the Beenleigh/Ormeau area.

Totally looking forward to boogie boards.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Going back INTO the Atheist Closet

At dinner the other night, my kids made a request of me: Could we please go into the closet as atheists.

We have lost friends, have been treated badly, and have experienced unpleasantness from the mouths of babes. The kids have HAD IT with being crusaders for reality and I won't force them into such a role.

I asked them, Would you rather be friends with a person who would, if they knew you are an atheist, shun you? Would you rather keep it a secret in the hopes that they will never know?

No, replied The Doctor, in the hopes that once they know us, they will love us too much to judge us.

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy:
On Being an Atheist Parent

Monday, June 18, 2012

And Three More. Done!

Week 8 – 10 reasons I am excited about this new school year
Week 9 - 10 totally random things on your mind
Week 10 – 10 things about me that you should know

10 reasons I am excited about this new school year, this one is super easy!
  1. We're moving to BRISBANE QLD AUSTRALIA for the year!
     2-10  Stuff in Brisbane! 

10 totally random things on your mind
  1. Where am I going to find enough luggage?
  2. Where is the tissue?
  3. What are we going to do with...EVERYTHING?
  4. I hope my stuff on Craigslist sells.
  5. Books.  booksbooksbooks
  6. Whatever adult cartoon show Jer is watching in there is totally tasteless and very funny.
  7. Why is it so cold in the house?
  8. The kids arrived safely in Arkansas; I'll bet they are already swimming.
  9. I have a headache.
  10. I wonder if Tina could use some blankets..?
10 things about me that you should know
  1. I have been craving chocolate covered peanuts lately.
  2. I STILL have a headache right now
  3. I am reading a book by Jeffrey Archer called "Only Time Will Tell".  It's ok.
  4. I really dislike stupid humor.  (read:  Sandler, Ferrel, Carrey, et al)
  5. I have a CD from Netflix of "Hogan's Heroes"!  It's still SO funny.
  6. Jerry and I are enjoying having the kids visiting their grandmother for a few days...nudge, nudge, wink wink.
  7. I dislike chewing gum.
  8. The kids and I are making BIG plans for blogging from Australia.
  9. I just made a new friend this week.  She is great AND her son and Bonobo get along fantastically.
  10. I LOVE getting comments on this blog.  And it's too bad too, because most people don't give in to my sad and pathetic neediness.  
Brisbane, Australia

Three TOP TEN lists

Week 510 reasons why you chose your homeschooling method
Week 6 - The top 10 questions people ask you
Week 710 pieces of advice you would give to a new homeschooler

Why I chose our homeschooling method:  ECLECTIC
  1. I HATE being told what to do, what order to do things, and what to say.  I'm pretty childish about this, actually!
  2. I LOVE being about to explore anything and everything that interests us.
  3. There is NO kid who is exactly "on grade" in every single subject.  That's just silly talk.
  4. I refuse to let someone else decide what my kids need to learn.
  5. I will not pay those prices.  The internet and the library are FREE.
  6. I am not impressed with "kits" as a whole.
  7. We can reassess and try something new without wrinkle in our journey.
  8. I don't have to participate in the endless curriculum debates.  (Perhaps this should be #1!)
  9. Less boredom.
  10. We can unschool anytime, anywhere.

The top 10 questions people ask you
  1. What curriculum do you use?
  2. What should we do for science?
  3. How do you teach math?
  4. Don't your children miss school?
  5. Having a problem?  Maybe this is the time to try "school".
  6. What grade is he in?
  7. Doesn't she miss having friends?
  8. Don't you care if they can get in to college?
  9. Are you homeschooling because YOU had a terrible schooling experience?
  10. What do you do for subjects that you are no good at?
10 Pieces of Advice You Would Give to a New Homeschooler
  1. Don't buy anything yet.
  2. Have your little ones around when you are working with the big ones.
  3. If in doubt, relax and see what happens.
  4. If you are interested in a Typical Course of  Study, Worldbook offers this "by year" break down or suggestion.
  5. Find some other homeschoolers right away if possible.
  6. Remember to fit materials to your child's interest, rather than the other way around.
  7. Critical Thinking and Character are important things to learn by living.
  8. Spend less!  Use used materials whenever possible.
  9. Appreciate the moments.
  10. Keep on loving!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Our Top Tens

Week 2 - Your top 10 must have Items
Week 310 reasons my kids like being homeschooled
Week 4Top 10 favorite read alouds

Top Ten things I'm glad to have 
- NOT the same at the top things you must have.

  1. Computer
  2. Printer
  3. Library Card
  4. Cameras 
  5. Computer Software
  6. Library Card
  7. Car
  8. Water Bottles
  9. Friends
  10. Fun Markers

Ten Reasons My Kids Like Being Homeschooled 
  1. "We can sleep late!" shouts The Doctor.
  2. "I work in my PJs, "says The Doctor, in lounge pants and drinking from a nice glass of iced tea.
  3. "I don't have to leave the house if I don't want to."  ("Also, Mom, can I have some tea?" asks Bonobo.)
  4. "I get more time with friends," says the Doctor, working on a sketch.
  5. "I'm home more," says Bonobo, leaping over the couch.
  6. "We don't get behind with work when we skip days or when we are sick
  7. "We are ahead of the kids at school because we can move forward when we 'get it'," assured The Doctor, who has been there.
  8. "We get personal attention." says Bonobo, hugging on me.
  9. "We can have breaks whenever we need them instead of recess at someone else's time,:  cartwheels Bonobo.
  10. "We listen to music all of the time with our lessons," smiles The Doctor.
Top Ten Favorite Read Alouds
  1. Encyclopedia Brown
  2. Magic Treehouse
  3. David and the Phoenix
  4. Erik Rex
  5. The Candy Shop Wars
  6. Harry Potter
  7. Sherlock Holmes
  8. Eragon
  9. Percy Jackson
  10. Poetry

We're ALWAYS looking for great read alouds.
Do you have any faves??

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Love TOP TEN Lists

I love when people create top ten lists for their blog.  It's like condensing all of the information in their brain into a numerical digest of important facts.
I ran across a blog I enjoyed called Small World at Home that is running through this cute Top Ten List idea and I feel inspired to do the same thing, but my own way.  Since I have missed some of the scheduled activities I'll just do what is fun.  Unless I forget.


From the website project, here are the top ten lists to create:

Week 1 - Top 10 favorite websites to use for homeschooling
Week 2 - Your top 10 must have Items
Week 3 – 10 reasons my kids like being homeschooled
Week 4 – Top 10 favorite read alouds
Week 5 – 10 reasons why you chose your homeschooling method
Week 6 - The top 10 questions people ask you
Week 7 – 10 pieces of advice you would give to a new homeschooler
Week 8 – 10 reasons I am excited about this new school year
Week 9 - 10 totally random things on your mind
Week 10 – 10 things about me that you should know

 And so without further ado, 


Although I've done something like this recently, I'm doing it again.
  1. Tedtalks - the absolute BEST source of  free lectures, science research, comedy, music, points of view, courageous, and inspiring talks from around the world.  If your world is looking a big grim or small, check out Tedtalks!
  2. Project Gutenberg - offers over 39,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online.  Materials on this website range from periodicals to classics to technology texts.  OH, and it's free in the US!  It is a virtual torrent of information.
  3. I love online literary guides - Literary summaries, explanations, character studies, themes, etc...everything you could possibly want to know and understand about literature can be found on the webpages of these literature guides.  And most of them are free.  And there are FAR more sites than the ones I linked to.
  4. Khan Academy - Of course!
  5. The BBC News - We like the BBC news sources for their absence of US-slanted information.
  6. Science News for Kids - Science news, obviously, written at a middle school level.  News stories from around the globe and from every field of science.  We always find great stories here!  If you have a science kid, bookmark this one!
  7. Brave Writer - this extensive website has SO MUCH for the writer in your kid!  From lessons, writing prompts, a great blog, and support to classes that can be taken online.  We love this one for it's blog the I haven't spent a cent here.  But I would if any one of my kids was interested...hint, hint.
  8. - for those people in our family who dig astronomy, this website is like a treasure trove that keeps on giving ad infinitum.  Just like our universe!
  9. Classic Poetry Aloud - This website offers hundreds of poetry, read aloud by a fab English guy.  Listening to the poetry on this site makes the poetry far more accessible to us, and far less boring and dry.
  10. YouTube - I know, everyone knows YouTube, but the educational vids here number in the many thousands!!!  I'll bet we visit YouTube a dozen times a week.  If we are learning about a composer, a play write, a person in history, or any science topic, we find videos galore!


Bonobo on the right, with his best
buddy "D" on the left.
Message from Bonobo, speaking in a British accent:  Classic Poetry Aloud is far MORE boring than Mom says because the reader speaks in a very boring and dry manner. But I do listen to it sometimes anyway. Besides, we love saying "Classic Poetry Aloud Dot Com."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Have you heard of Postcrossing?
Are you a stamp collector?  
Do you love meeting new people?
Are you interested in other cultures and parts of the world?
Do you love receiving actual mail?
Would you love your family to learn more about geography?

If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, have I got a deal for you!
My daughter and I stumbled upon one of the coolest, little-known projects on the web.  POSTCROSSING is an online project that connects random participants around the globe who, then, send one another post cards.  (You can check out their website to see how they do it.)

The Doctor and I have exchanged postcards with people in Russia, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Italy, Nebraska, Belize, Brazil, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, London, Canada, Ukraine, Japan, Taiwan, and other places on this wonderful world of ours.

Our enthusiasm knows no bounds where Postcrossing is concerned!  Seriously!  We love looking through our cards and our maps and thinking about the lives of people in these other places.  The kids have taken their interest further by studying locations, hobbies, and events mentioned on the postcards by the kind people who have taken the time to mail them.

When we get settled, we plan on setting up a large map with pins for places we have sent cards and for places from which we have received cards.

One thing leads to another, and I have "friended" a few people on Facebook.  (I AM an adult, after all.)  So we have continued to develop our friendships further.  My daughter, though, had not done this.  She, instead, has continued some conversations through the anonymous Postcrossing site that allows back-and-forth econversations.

Today, The Doctor is mailing postcards to The Netherlands!

Try it:  Het is leuk!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reminding Myself, the Parent of a Challenging Teen

Challenging children, depression and teens, parenting difficult children
I was on an online board talking about how difficult it is, at times, knowing what to do when one of my children is extremely challenging.  Lots of great conversations went on, many supporting and wonderfully encouraging posts.  But this one is worth passing along to others in my boat.

My original post, in response to another mom's post...following me?  It's part of a conversation:  

MY daughter, 15, has ALWAYS bucked anything parent-led...LOL.
Rebellious? HELL YES.

Michelle, you are not failing (your son). He is learning the hard way...the way some people have to learn it... Please know that I am SO there with you. It is a constant struggle of trying to do the right thing while that teen does nothing. Constantly lowering the bar until you can step on it.... Constantly researching and preparing materials that you hope will get their attention.

It's hard to parent this child, I know. ♥
I, too, struggle with it.

SO, while we are not doing SAT, ACT, OR GED stuff yet, listen, if he doesn't pass the GED, isn't that a natural consequence of his own efforts?

I expect my daughter, one day, to epically fail a test such as that...I don't look forward to it, but I do know it will happen.
I hope it will be a lesson and a message to her that attaining her goals actually requires WORK. Her work.
I hope.

And my friend, Dawn's reply post: 

As our kids get older, we HAVE to take our momma hands off their decisions, even when the consequences are gonna bite them in the azz later. I spend the bulk of my mental energy trying to be respectful and considerate of their autonomy. Seems to me, though, that even in an out-of-the-box-thinking family, ALL the members have a right to respect, including mom and dad.
At our house, in our way of doing things, I told the big kids I would like to give them room to do whatever suits them, but the absolute lack of momentum towards independence wears me out. I had to think long and hard about where was the point that I couldn't be flexible, and articulate it, then let the rest go. It absolutely does not match my visions for having young adults.
I dreamed of kids who were communicative and saw the world as their oyster and who reached for big goals and tried on a variety of activities. The oldest does radiology, the next is halfway through a 4 year degree in computer security, and the 3rd is happy as a clam as a preschool daycare teacher.
Getting to this point was messy, painful, long, and exhausting to me. I don't know how to do the little boys any different, practically speaking, but I do know that asking more than telling, offering ideas and letting them get rejected, and making sure I have enough to fulfill my own self needs daily is FAR better than trying to force children into doing their growing up the way I figure is right.
There is no right, except that our kids feel competent and know we support them.

What about YOU?
Do you have any advice for parents of teens???

Was you experience difficult?  Easier?

Rock On, Phil Plait!

From the "Bad Astronomy" website

I have also met Phil Plait several times at atheist events, astronomy events, and science conferences. I can now drop his name and look cooler.

I have had the pleasure of speaking with Phil Plait, also known at The Bad Astronomer, noted skeptic, and science writer, a time or two by telephone. As newsletter editor for our local astronomical society, I had the opportunity to speak to several prominent astronomers and scientists, the coolest interviews I have had the pleasure of doing!


Here is his speech in it's entirety, minus his cool graphics:

I know a place where the Sun never sets.

It’s a mountain, and it’s on the Moon. It sticks up so high that even as the Moon spins, it’s in perpetual daylight. Radiation from the Sun pours down on there day and night, 24 hours a day — well, the Moon’s day is actually about 4 weeks long, so the sunlight pours down there 708 hours a day.

I know a place where the Sun never shines. It’s at the bottom of the ocean. A crack in the crust there exudes nasty chemicals and heats the water to the boiling point. This would kill a human instantly, but there are creatures there, bacteria, that thrive. They eat the sulfur from the vent, and excrete sulfuric acid.

I know a place where the temperature is 15 million degrees, and the pressure would crush you to a microscopic dot. That place is the core of the Sun.

I know a place where the magnetic fields would rip you apart, atom by atom: the surface of a neutron star, a magnetar.

I know a place where life began billions of years ago. That place is here, the Earth.

I know these places because I’m a scientist.

Science is a way of finding things out. It’s a way of testing what’s real. It’s what Richard Feynman called "A way of not fooling ourselves."

No astrologer ever predicted the existence of Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto. No modern astrologer had a clue about Sedna, a ball of ice half the size of Pluto that orbits even farther out. No astrologer predicted the more than 150 planets now known to orbit other suns.

But scientists did.

No psychic, despite their claims, has ever helped the police solve a crime. But forensic scientists have, all the time.

It wasn’t someone who practices homeopathy who found a cure for smallpox, or polio. Scientists did, medical scientists.

No creationist ever cracked the genetic code. Chemists did. Molecular biologists did.

They used physics. They used math. They used chemistry, biology, astronomy, engineering.

They used science.

These are all the things you discovered doing your projects. All the things that brought you here today.

Computers? Cell phones? Rockets to Saturn, probes to the ocean floor, PSP2, gamecubes, gameboys, X-boxes? All by scientists.

Those places I talked about before? You can get to know them too. You can experience the wonder of seeing them for the first time, the thrill of discovery, the incredible, visceral feeling of doing something no one has ever done before, seen things no one has seen before, know something no one else has ever known.

No crystal balls, no tarot cards, no horoscopes. Just you, your brain, and your ability to think.

Welcome to science. You’re gonna like it here.

 Have you met any of your heroes?.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Renn Faire


Amazing period musicians
Renaissance Fairs, if you have not heard, have gained tremendous popularity in the US.  Elsewhere too, I am sure, because a friend of mine, Urska, who lives in Slovenia goes to them regularly with her family!

At a Renn Faire, patrons stroll through an area of merchants, performers, and actors who are all in Elizabethan or Medieval "period" clothing and who stay in period character at all times. At any moment you may have someone offer to trade his bowl for your weapon, ax throwers may exhibit their skills, you may see performers on the street, or you might have to move off of the street so that the king and his entourage can march by.

John John, Prince Charming
It is exciting and fun, and, if you let yourself really get into the experience, life-changing. Most of the people that I know who participate in the Renn Faire regret the ending of the faire...and their return to "real" life. They look forward to next year, when they can, again, don their costumes of ladies-in-waiting, fair maidens, falconers, belly dancers, pirates, leather workers, peasants, and other fantasy roles and when they can live that life of their own choosing.

How authentic this historical fiction event is varies from locale to locale. Here in St. Louis, the actors are quite authentic. The crowd manages to bring their enthusiasm to the mix with authentic garb as well. But many patrons, myself included, wear comfy shoes (she said "comfy shoes"), jean shorts, and an ice-cold water carrier.  We're no fun...

My kids enjoyed getting into the spirit of the occasion with their costumes. We found an excellent black, belted, studded vest at a retro shop in the city and John John wore that with pride! Some of the cast actually asked him where he found it! Elizabeth wore a green skirt, a brown T and lots of cool accessories that made her look very period. For her, it was more about feeling cool than about being authentic.

The Doctor with her BFF
Some of the activities of the day included performers, magicians, shopping, drinking grog, historical re-enactments, and a well-scripted jousting match between the Good Duncan and Bad Malcolm.

The crowd shouted "Blood, blood, blood!"  

Not to mention John being knighted by the king for doing a deed of great valor (visiting the required stalls and doing a little jig!)  He felt so proud of being knighted...almost like the real thing...

The performances were first class. From the singing, the gypsy performances, the belly dancing, and the many, many smaller venues...WHAT A DAY!

Captain Jack Sparrow!
John John was able to spend some time with archery! Totally made his day! And Liz ran into her very best BFF (one of the actors in the German village) and the two of them spent the rest of the day together. 

And John is going again today with friends!  To prepare for today, he found a photo album in the house that "looks like a magic book". So he took some paper, dipped in into steeped tea, let it dry, and made some pages for his magic book. Together we researched ancient written languages and magic symbols and wrote on the pages with these symbols. It turned out COOL. So, although to me it looks like my old photo album, to John, it looks like the coolest magic book ever!

Jousting, not jesting

And he's going back AGAIN TOMORROW with friends!
The Renn of the summer's fun events here in St. Louis!


Our ADORABLE friends, not merely peasants

Friday, June 8, 2012

Anti Homeschooling?


To be honestly, I have nothing more to say about this issue with regards to homeschoolers.

P.S.  Each letter above word "socialization"
 is a link to one of the thousands of pages on homeschool and socialization.
Most of them are unbiased and NOT from homeschoolers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What We're Doing...TEDtalks!

This week is The Doctor's birthday so we have had a birthday sleepover this week that has extended from one night to two.  Lots of friends over and lots of celebration.
But lessons are still getting done.
The Doctor is doing Algebra, Biology 1, and TED talks each day, even though friends are here.  (YES, I AM a task master.)
Bonobo is also doing Algebra, General Science, Reading, Philosophy, Critical Thinking, and TED talks.

Seriously, if you haven't discovered the instructive nature of the TEDtalks, may I suggest a couple of my favorites!

OK, just a few, but TEDtalks is like the Niagra Falls of free knowledge.
Use it anytime you have three minutes up to an hour of free time and nothing to do.

Surprise yourself with new technologies.  Marvel at the up-to-the-minute inventions.  Explore other points of view.  Experience new ways of listening to music, experiencing art, and participating in the society at large.  Hear the geniuses, the divergent thinkers, the risk takers, the thinkers, the dreamers, the creative of our time.  Feel PROUD to be offering all of this knowledge to your children!


Do you have any TEDtalks that you recommend?
How about any extra-great and little-known websites?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What Are Homeschooled Kids Like?

What are homeschooled kids like?
I've heard EVERY ONE of the stereotypes.  
Some are actors
Every stereotype that people feel comfortable hanging on a homeschool kid, though most of those labels can, in all fairness, be hung on any kid on the planet, and often are.
  • Homeschoolers are Weird.
  • Homeschoolers are Unsocialized.
  • Homeschoolers know nothing about the real world.
  • Homeschoolers are Fundamental Denim-Wearing Christians.
  • Homeschoolers are Poorly socialized.
  • Homeschoolers are ADD.
  • Homeschoolers are Over-Protected.
  • Homeschoolers are SUPER Smart Geniuses.
  • Homeschoolers can't make it in "regular" school.
  • Homeschoolers only befriend other homeschoolers.
  • Homeschoolers are Hippies.

Why is it OK to stereotype homeschoolers?  

Some are ZANY
Why does the world feel it is their right to criticize a lifestyle that they, clearly, do not understand?  
In the media, homeschoolers are often portrayed with these same stereotypes. It's boring, frankly. Can't anyone THINK for themselves? Have you taken the time to actually speak to some homeschoolers to find out about their lifestyle? 
ACTUALLY, the media portrays ALL school-aged kids as shallow stereotypes. So, yeah, we should ALL be aware of that. I dislike the shallow nature of the media in general anyway, and avoid it at all costs.
Some are CHILLY
The homeschool stereotyping has happened to us recently and, frankly, I'm annoyed by it.  
PO'ed really.
Every single child and adult in the world could be "labeled" if one were so crass as to do this. Which I am NOT. Why are homeschoolers fair game? Why do people actually think they have the right to comment on this major lifestyle decision?
Reading an article, knowing a couple of homeschooling families, or seeing a homeschooler on TV does NOT make you an authority. Dang, I have been homeschooling for almost TEN YEARS and *I* am not an authority. I don't have the unreasonable desire to stereotype anyone, EVEN if I see people who could fit into a stereotype easily. 
Some are curious
For example, the other day I was at the park and we identified a homeschooling family.  The first thing we noticed was that the mother was on the field playing too as the family members hit and fielded balls. All of the kids were playing together, young and old. Lots of laughter and tons of joyful energy. As it happens, the mother was wearing a denim skirt. Had I stopped there, I would never have approached her. 

Some are adorable!
Yes, she is a Christian. But, no, she was not sheltering her kids, nor were her kids socially awkward. If she had been wearing denim shorts, I would have not known any more about her than the fact that she was cool, in the know, and very active in the community. Her kids were very engaging and not even remotely protected from the real world. I completely enjoyed meeting them.

Some are sporty
Stereotypes are LAZY, generally NEGATIVE, SHALLOW, and, in general, REINFORCE One's Own Opinion. It reduces people to simplified caricatures. It makes it highly unlikely that you will ever actually get to know a person that you have stereotyped.

YOUR use of a stereotype speaks more of YOU 
than it does of any other person.

At lunch today, I asked the six homeschool kids there how THEY would describe themselves, or describe homeschool kids at a whole.

They answered me with this caveat:   
Well, we'll describe KIDS, not just homeschool kids!

Devilishly handsome!
Adu Able!
Fro-Tastic, even!
Extra Ordin Harry
Clue Listical!

Have you experienced any negativity for your homeschooling?
What do you do when that happens?
How has it effected your children?