Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My First Recap of 2013

Stephanie at Life, Unexpected shared this with me 
and SHE got it from Icansaymama blog:

Joy @ i can say mama: 2013 Wrap up

I think this is a lovely way to wrap up the year, to remember the year by reminiscing about the good stuff and to shake off the not so good things in order to start 2014 with a full heart.  These questions are copied/paste from another site.

1) Gained or lost weight?
A little of both, mostly gained. Jer and I are planning on starting a weight loss program when we get home.

2) Predominant feeling in 2013?

3) Predominant feeling for 2014?

4)  Something you did for the first time in 2013?
Oh gosh, so many things!!!!!!  Saw whales, traveled to amazing locales, snorkeled, beach time, saw kangas and other amazing Aussie things, coral reefs!, New Zealand, little penguins, wonderful friends, and just a zillion other things!

5) Something you did again in 2013 after a long pause?
I started sketching and drawing again.

6) Something you unfortunately did not do in 2013?
I can't think of a thing!!!!!

7) Word of the year?

8) City of the year?

9) Hair longer or shorter?
It's pretty darn long.

10) More or less money spent?
Hmmmmm...about the same, but in completely different ways:  TRAVEL!

11) Highest mobile phone bill?
We are on weird phone plans, so no more than $30 Aussie bucks, which are not the same as Monopoly bucks...

12) Hospital stays?

13) (Fallen) In love?
MANY TIMES!!!!!!!!!!

14) Most called person?
My husband and my daughter and my mom

15) Whom did you spend the most beautiful time with?
Besides my family, it would be Maryvonne, Kerrie, and Ali!

16) What did you spend most of your time with?
Doing the laundry, chores, cleaning, blogging, reading, traveling, and being with friends!

17) Song of the year?
Home by Harrison Craig.

18) Book of the year?
Oh gosh, so many good ones!  I've read some great ones, but reading DaVinci Code and Ender's Game with John has been a blast.

19) TV show/movie of the year?
Tough call, but I'm going with The House of Eliot because Elizabeth and I loved it SO MUCH together!

20) Insight of the year?
I think it was Darlene that reminded me:  The kids will be OK!

21) Three things you totally could have done without?
Many Australian bugs
High costs in Brisbane
Twisted ankle

22) Most beautiful event?
A sunrise at Waipu Beach in New Zealand

23) More short-sighted or more far-sighted than 2013? 
We have been doing alot of living for TODAY as well as planning for our future.  So BOTH.

24) The most dangerous thing you did?
Nothing really dangerous..... 

25) The most expensive thing you bought?

26) The most delicious meal or food you ate?
My favorite restaurant has this delicious veggie risotto...

27) The best party?
TOUGH CALL!  But I have to go with a party that I didn't even get to stay at!  Kerrie had a party that was the absolute BEST for John!

28) The most important thing you wanted to convince somebody of?
Yeah, that whole Be Nice thing...

29) The most beautiful present you gave to somebody?
When we went home for a visit I enjoyed giving everyone beautiful things from Australia

30) The most beautiful present that somebody gave you?
A friend just gave me a gorgeous wooden box from Sri Lanka...  But I have been given such beautiful friendships and love.

31) The most beautiful sentence someone said to you?
I could not select just one thing.....  But the other day Elizabeth said to me, I could be very depressed, Mom, but I choose to not be.  I'm thinking that was about the best!

32) The most beautiful sentence you said to someone? 
I don't know!

33) How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
We will stay at home.  Unfortunately I twisted my ankle and injured my foot a few hours ago and I'm stuck in bed with ice and an elevated foot.

34) What will you have for dinner?
Jer made a delicious sausage meal.

35) What drinks will be in your glasses to clink?

36) Will you ignite any fireworks? 
Unfortunately no.  We had plans to go down to South Bank to see the fireworks on the Brisbane River, but now this ankle is keeping us home.  DARN!

37) What are you going to wear? Comfy or glamorous?
GLAM, all of the way.
And by glam I mean my comfy jammies and an ankle ice bag.

38) Did you have any resolutions for 2013? And how about 2014?
My 2013 resolution was to do more freelance writing.  I've finally done some work with the in the last few months.
2014:  We have decided we may go vegetarian.

39) What are your wishes for the new year?
That we stay healthy.  That we spend more time with Tim and Jess.  That we find ourselves truly HOME when we go back home.


Thank You to Stephanie for this 2013 Wrap Up idea!

Monday, December 30, 2013


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I have been contacted a few times by companies wanting to "partner" with my blog and I on products and services. I haven't really researched what this entails and have been happy being a small little blog out there... But Time4Learning used to be a place that I found useful when the kids were smaller and I might be interested in moving forward with "partnering" with them.  The commitment is quite minimal and all I would be doing is putting a small banner on my blog that leads to the Time4Learning website and a review of their products every so often.

I'm sure these companies cast around on the internet looking for homeschooling parents who blog...

I am no authority on homeschool materials.  Even though I owned and operated a small business where I sold homeschool supplies, in general my kids use textbooks rather than all of the curriculum out there. I don't know what to do about the offer from Time4Learning.

I'm terrible with all business decisions, just ask my small business!  LOL

I prefer that my blog be just a personal recording of the travels and journeys of my family and I but I think it would be fun to try writing product reviews, just to improve my writing skills and to give me a different kind of project to write.  I promise that if I do go ahead with this partnership or with any others that have come across my email I will limit them and I will also keep my regular blogging going. 

I have been working toward doing more free lance writing, though my time is quite limited these days and I think this might be one way to practice a different type of writing. I don't know.  What do you think??????  Would you do it if you were me?

PC Enough?

secular parenting humanist homeschool blog raising atheist skeptical freethinking humanist parenting

It has been brought to my attention again and again this week, in a number of different ways, that my blog, my writing has referred to people of faith with a number of phrases that are troubling to readers/friends/family who are among the faithful.  

Some of these quoted phrases in question include:
  • having "answers" handed to them on a silver platter.
  • Christians actually think that atheists are shallow and have a hatred in their (our) hearts for the holiday. 

Well, that seems to be it. But I have been contacted a number of times both on and off of the blog for these comments. It seems to me that the fact that some people have approached me with their points of view in respectful ways, believing that I will receive those messages with respect speaks, well of both my readers and myself. So I appreciate the effort that it takes to contact me. Please always feel free to post even dissenting comments here on the blog if you wish, though I enjoy the emails as well.

In the spirit of offering my reply to these concerns, hopefully Cindy won't mind if I cut/paste a bit of my reply to her here:

Cindy, Let me respond to your comments about what I think of believers. Many, many of my friends are believers of many different belief systems. I love them deeply. But I can't honestly say that I respect all of these belief systems.
The people, YES. Our right to disagree with one another, OF COURSE. T
he beliefs, NO

I believe in PEOPLE.

I think that, in today's world, with knowledge and research information so readily available, it is a mystery to me why anyone would or could prefer faith over knowledge

Just this afternoon I was sitting with a very, very dear friend of mine from Sri Lanka who is a Pentecostal woman. Her belief system is tremendously comforting and centering to her. Do I
respect those beliefs that God sent the bird to her as some form of communication or sign, etc., no. But I love HER and I believe that she is doing her best in this world. 

I, in no way, disrespect my friend.

So the question comes down to, do I change my blog to be more PC? 
Not at all!

But I will make some effort to use words less anti-religion and more pro-free-thinking. But remember this:  I AM AN ATHEIST. I have very strong evidence for concluding that there are no supernatural forces at play, strong reasons for being an atheist, and I stringently deny all supernatural causes, effects, beliefs, etc., I actually am very anti-religion, and I will always represent myself honestly, openly, and ethically here on my blog without subverting myself.
Being Out and Open is not easy, but I am up for the challenge.

I'd like to know what you think;
Please write your comment below!

Happy New Year!
Let's make it a good one!

If you enjoyed this post you might also read:  

My Atheist Parenting Blog

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Play List for the Blues

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My 16 year old daughter has been struggling with depression for a few years now. It's impossible for me to pinpoint exactly when a thing we call depression started because she is a glass is half-empty kind of person. How can I know when everything switched from stuff is just always annoying, disappointing, boring, insufferable to I am miserable and my life has become unmanageable? The depression came on fairly slowly. But there is always that moment when we told her that we were moving her to the other side of the world, away from every known thing, away from every beloved thing. That might have been a turning point. (Ya think?) And those early months here in Brisbane were very tough on her.

The point is that at some point her propensity to view things from the negative side had made her life feel like a prison to her. She no longer felt able to enjoy life. She felt a victim to her own mood most of the time.

In addition to having a totally cool therapist for a mother, Elizabeth started taking antidepressants. They helped immediately. Not 100%. Not every day. But she did feel a lightening of the overwhelming blackness in her mind. She saw a therapist down here two times. She felt that seeing the therapist was a good move.

Additionally, she was doing some writing and some reading, working things through with me, and doing what she called music therapy. Elizabeth seems to have earbuds cemented to her ears. Using iTunes she created a playlist of songs that lifted her up, moved her, meant something to her, or that spoke truly to her. She has made this playlist into CDs for a couple of friends who are also struggling with their moods, their relationships, their connections and who have also felt some comfort or lifting up while listening to these songs.

Not all of the songs are familiar to me and may not be familiar to you.  But your teen knows most of them. Some songs on this list are Australian and may not be known in the States or in other parts of the world. I have made each song into a link from Youtube. You can also find most of them on iTunes, download them, and give them a listen. Maybe surprise your teen with two CDs of music selected just for them!

However you choose to use this list, Elizabeth is very proud to pass it along to you as another tool in the fight against depression in our beloved teenagers.

Count on Me - Bruno Mars 

Just The Way You Are - Bruno Mars 

Today my Life Begins - Bruno Mars 

Tonight I'm Getting Over You - Carly Rae Jepson 

Little Things - One Direction 

What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction 

Hero - Mariah Carey 

Let It Go - Idina Menzel

The Horses - I only know the Taylor Henderson version 

Affirmation - Savage Garden 

Alive - Dami Im 

Declaration - David Cook 

Heroes - David Cook 

Time of My Life - David Cook 

Lift Your Spirit - Harrison Craig 

You Raise Me Up - Harrison Craig or Josh Groban 

Gold - Owl City 

Shooting Star - Owl City 

Beautiful Soul - Jesse McCartney 

She's No You - Jesse McCartney 

Because You Live - Jesse McCartney 

I'll Be Your Strength - The Wanted 

Gold Forever - The Wanted 

Rocket - The Wanted 

Roar - Katy Perry 

Wings - Little Mix 

I'd Come For You - Nickelback 

Never Gonna Be Alone - Nickelback 

Lullaby - Nickelback 

Beautiful  - Christina Aguilera 

Happy  - Pharell Williams 

Drops Of Jupiter - Train 

Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield 

It's a Beautiful Day - Michael Buble 

Hall of Fame - The Script (feat. will.i.am) 

Diana - One Direction 

Through The Dark - One Direction

Most importantly, if your child listens to it, you listen to it too. Become familiar with the songs that your child is living inside of. Listen to the music together.  Elizabeth and I have songs on this list that are specific to our relationship; I'm thrilled to see them on the list. These teen years are SO intense and lonely for so many kids. I remember how important my music was to me and it's the same for our kids. Enter their world.

I'm Elizabeth and I approve of this post.

Just a quick reminder to visitors and readers, you can also find my writing on:

May I also suggest this post: 
My Daughter is Fierce!
You might also enjoy:  Cuddling Cures the Meloncholy

Friday, December 27, 2013

Just a Regular Day

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I'm sitting on the ugliest couch in the world, right between the hard wooden slats, and I'm sitting in between all of the junk on the couch that I pushed over to give my bottom a place to sit. The trash can is overflowing about two feet to my right and the dusty fans are blowing in all directions on my left. The weirdest Christmas tree across from me. The kids are in their rooms listening to iPods and watching videos on laptops. My husband is now wagging his bottom at me through the door on his way to an early bedtime. Lol

Earlier this evening I went into my room to read a book because everyone was interested in their own thing. Before long John came into my room and we started chatting. He called Elizabeth into the room and before long we were playing Twenty Questions, playing The Tickle Game, and just Laughing Out Loud in general with stories, impressions, and silliness. It has to have been one of the funniest evenings we've had in a long time! We ended up hanging out there for almost six hours, laughing and laughing!

We are such an imperfect family. The laundry can sit for DAYS. There is an argument over whose night it is to do dishes almost every single evening. Elizabeth eats frozen pizza, salty ramen soup, and carrots every. single. day. (She takes a variety of vitamins and such...) John eats chocolaty breakfast cereal. Each step to the upstairs has its own little dust bunnies in each corner. Our Christmas tree is a white branch in a pot. I seriously don't like your kittens or your puppy pictures. We have a huge lizard living under our patio. The kids both have that zombie-eyed look when they are online. Elizabeth plays Candy Crush and listens to music 24/7. We've only been in this country for 15 months and we have a half of a basket of single socks. An entire end of my kitchen table hasn't been cleaned off in months. Sometimes I leave the house alone just to listen to music. I mainly gave gift cards to the kids for Christmas. I miss fast food from back home as much as I miss people. I will take the last of the ice cream. John needs to shower and to have his nails trimmed. Sometimes I let everyone fend for themselves for dinner. Elizabeth's bedroom door only opens half way.

Yet I still think, WOW, what an amazingly wonderful family I have!

My children impress me on a daily basis! And the great news is how much emotional growth I have seen in Elizabeth in the past few months. She is truly moving into a new phase of more mature thinking. The other day, after a particularly difficult loss, Elizabeth sat close to me and said, Mom, I could be very depressed right now, but I have chosen to feel happy today. I'm telling you, she is like a huge blossoming gorgeous flower these days!!!

John was walking with me the other day telling me all about his extensive plans for when we get home...he's amazing! And Jer and I have been doing the same thing, making plans and looking for new ways to improve our lives together. (We are considering going vegetarian again...)

My point is that no one is perfect. We are all just kind of...normal. All of us.

Please, never compare yourself or your children to any other person. They are them and you are you. No matter what age you are or your children are and no matter what phase of life you are in, you are OK just as you are.

John said to me You are the perfect mom for me, Mom. And YOU are the perfect parent for your children. You know them better than anyone else in the world... So relax, it will be OK.

Oh, and I made spaghetti and jarred sauce for dinner.

With special THANKS to Finding Joy blog!

If you enjoyed this post you might also read: 

Thankful 365 Days a Year
A Perfectly Average Day
Why I Worry

Please submit your blog post for the next 
Carnival of Atheist Parenting
Blog Carnival!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

For 2014

I just created this meme in both this gold/red and in blue and put it onto Pinterest and I'm already disappointed that I didn't include:

  • Stand up for yourself
  • Stand up for someone who can't stand up for themselves


Friday, December 20, 2013

Aussie Atheism, a Question from Lindsay

secular parenting humanist homeschool blog raising atheist skeptical freethinking humanist parenting

I received this question from a truly THINKING reader of my blog several months ago. I've finally gotten to it!
Thank you very much to Lindsay for asking a question that is on my mind often! 

Lindsay writes:
Karen, I don't know if you've covered it before, but I'm curious about the difference between being an atheist in the US versus Australia. I'd imagine it would be easier in Australia and maybe talk about how you'll handle that attitude once you are back. I could be off, but from what I've read, atheists are among the most distrusted minorities in the states, that's why I'm trying to do the research now. It probably sounds odd but I'm still struggling to become a parent, I just want to be ready when that happens, and it's taking forever so I keep focusing on the future I want... I hope that helps a bit, best of luck. 

Lindsay, thank you for this question.  Interestingly enough, my kids have often encouraged me to write something on this issue and I just keep forgetting.  LOL

Australia does have churches and religion and very devout people.  The difference:  people are very private and respect the privacy of others about belief systems and personal philosophy.  I have many friends in Australia who of whom I have NO IDEA what their religious beliefs are.  It just isn't discussed publicly.  Privately, yes.

One of my first gatherings down here, OH, I will never forget this, I was new to the group and we were all sitting around, about a dozen mothers, while the kids were doing their own things.  People were asking me questions about our homeschooling, about America, about our stay in Australia, and whatnot and the whole time I, inside, had this creeping anxiety about the what religion are you? question. We all know how divisive that question can be in the States, how divisive it has been for us.

I blurted out We are atheists!

There was silence, people looking awkwardly at one another. Why?  Because no one cares!!!  No one judges on the basis of religion.  It is just not talked about.  
Yeah, so there I was, feeling awkward for bringing my American identity to that secular nation. At the time I couldn't even really understand why it was so awkward; it took me awhile to figure it out.

Elizabeth has had times, too, when she has blurted out the fact of her atheism only to have friends look at her with startled curiosity and say, Okaaaaaaaay.....

Since that time I have had many conversations with people of a variety of belief system and practices, many atheists and secular people and we have learned about the Australian secular identity.  For the most part people in Australia truly practice a culture of peace.  Potentially divisive attitudes are respected, accepted, and now let's move on!  America could learn alot about peaceful and loving coexistence from Aussies. They have their problems, of course, but the overall vibe is one of peace and acceptance.

When we thought about moving back home to the verbose Christian majority, we felt sad and discouraged about the American weakness in this area.  Our own friends and circle of acquaintances in general are all loving and accepting people of a variety of belief systems who all view US as loving and accepting people. It's like a wonderful little microcosm of truly civilized families. We no longer feel the need to hide or go into hiding.  We already have a truly interesting and vibrant group of friends who share in our belief of true freedom.

But the overall conservative acerbic tone of the US really turns us off, embarrasses us, and does not encourage our loyalty to our own beloved country. We LOVE the USA; we are not always proud of it.

And, Lindsay, it does NOT sound odd.  What you don't know yet is that all people who are deep thinkers, empathic, freethinking or not parents DO ALOT OF THINKING and QUESTIONING.  These are the people who don't accept having "answers" handed to them on a silver platter. Your need to probe, to understand, and to analyze are all indications of the love and effort that you will put into being the best parent that you can be. I applaud your research, your questioning, your willingness to know more, and your kind heart!  My sincerest wishes for the family that you desire.  

Just a quick reminder to visitors and readers, you can also find my writing on:
and now

If you enjoyed this post you might also read: 
Mind the Gap
Or you might enjoy:   Books for your skeptical child
Or this one:  A Culture of Peace