Friday, May 31, 2013

Shooshy: Raising My Daughter

Being Mother to my daughter has changed me so much and I have learned so much! Seriously!  Stuff I had no idea I needed to know...

When the kids were smaller, nearly all of my friends had children their ages. In fact a huge percentage of my friends had kids the same age and gender of my own kids. Older daughter, son three and a half years younger. And almost without fail, the mothers of the daughters were struggling with their daughters. We were all in such a similar boat.
And we were confused.

Yes, her name is Elizabeth.
My nickname for her is Shooshy.
I don't mind admitting it now:  we would all get together and talk about how weird it was that our younger sons were so easy and our older daughters were so hard. We would share our frustrations with that frisson that we all seemed to experience with our older daughters:  fireworks just below the surface, a difficulty with feeling really close to them at times, and a confusion with why we felt that way. Back then it seemed uncanny how similar the dynamics of our families were. Now I know that our dynamics were all totally normal. I mean, is it really surprising that strong women would have strong daughters?!

My daughter is apologetically herself. And no wonder that freaked me out, I was such a sweet girl when I was younger. And I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that in a wishy-washy kind of way. In the way where people took advantage of me, walked around me, ignored me... And that simply will not happen to my daughter; she wouldn't allow it! Add to that the fact that I was essentially motherless for all of my teen years and it might explain why I am sometimes confused as to what to do with her, with how best to parent her.

I Can Do This

Being her mother has taught me to appreciate the determination of a child who will not do what she does not want to do. It has taught me that anger and rudeness are sometimes hiding a confused and hurt person. It has taught me that a mother's loving touch is a truly healing thing. It has reinforced what I already know:  learning to use one's words is a journey toward good emotional health and a sense of personal power. I now know that one action can have an equal and surprising reaction. I can never give her too many kind words or too much love or too many positive messages. She struggles enough inside that she can often use help finding her way out of an internal morass of her own making. 

I now know that it is a truly loving thing to set limits and to enforce them - because she told me! I now know that remembering to apologize for the times when I jump to conclusions or when I make other mistakes deeply strengthens her. All of the "professionals" out there telling me to avoid being her friend were very very wrong. In fact, all of the rules of the so-called experts out there do not trump my own instinct. Our relationship takes deliberate work. Being her parent has taught me that when she yells "I hate this family" she needs tender loving care and not a reactive display of hurt or anger.

I have learned that I have reserves of patience that even surprise me sometimes! I have learned that she is still surprised to tears when she finds out that I truly like her. I have learned that second-hand shops have both the best and the worst clothing. I've learned that both of my kids will still stop almost any other activity to sit on the bed and talk. I have learned that those very moments that I want to send her to her room are the very moments I have to stick it out and help her through the feelings, because the last thing she needs at that point is to stew in her own tangles.

She Always Means Well

I have learned that I can trust her completely to tell me the truth because I have respected her honesty in the past. I have learned that I can lose her trust, especially where her friendships are concerned.  Because her friendships are her lifeline. I have learned that almost everything is negotiable. I have learned to include both of the kids in our major discussions and decisions. I have also learned that the more often I give choices instead of orders the better she reacts to the times when I must give a nonnegotiable expectation.  

I have learned that chocolate really does soothe the savage beast.

I have learned to give wide latitude with clothing, behavior, hair, and other issues of appearance. I have learned that my mistakes may be larger now, but her heart is larger too. I have learned that time is a wonderful smoother of rough edges. I have learned how lucky I am to have this child! I have learned that, when blogging about my daughter, to always get her approval first!  

And I have learned that daughters really do grow up to be friends.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  
My Thirteen Tips for Parenting your Strong-Willed Child 
Her Face 
Are Homeschoolers Weird?
A Query from a Confused Parent

Thursday, May 30, 2013

John Read my Blog

Last night John and I were sitting together showing each other things on the internet that crack us up.  He asked to look at my blog.  We looked and read for about half of an hour or so before he started tearing up, then crying.
"'s just so beautiful...the things you say...the kind of person you are...I am loving you so much right now, Mom..."

And that made it all worthwhile...

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  
 Experts Reveal:  What Children Want from Us
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Or try this one:   
Just Sitting Here, Listening

Suttons Park, Redcliffe QLD

John taught the kids
how to play Ninja
In case you have forgotten, we are American homeschoolers from the Midwest living in Brisbane Australia for a year. I was born and raised in Illinois. The state of Illinois is known as The Prairie State. 

As an Illinoian, I am used to extremes in temperatures through the seasons, living in the center of a huge continent, flat flat flat land, dusty roads, manmade lakes, suburbia, homogenous populations, and huge skies from the lack of having any discernible horizon. I didn't see an ocean until I was in my twenties. I grew up with fairly dark skies with the Milky Way front and center in the summer sky. Over the years we have lost that dark sky, but I remember it fondly. And I am used to a view that starts waaaay over there at that dusky flat line and continues waaaay over there to that other dusky flat line.

Here in Brisbane, I am living on the edge of a different huge continent! I live three minutes from the Brisbane River, ten minutes from Moreton Bay, less than half an hour from mountains, and forty minutes to the ocean! For me, living on the topography of this city is like having a surprise party every day. Who knows when I will drive over the crest of a road and come face-to-face with a truly amazing view of the city or the bay or a mountain! In fact, driving out of our subdivision we hit the crest of the road and see the CBD in all of its lighted-up glory right there a minute and a half away down the road.

Redcliffe Peninsula Map
My enthusiasm is a bit silly at times, I think, and I wonder when I will stop feeling like a kid in a lolly shop...  

Using the expression from one Brissie-Area friend, I've already been here for a donkey's age!

On Wednesdays John and I have been going up to the Redcliffe Peninsula for a park day at Suttons Beach with a fair-sized group of homeschooling families. Suttons Beach is a gorgeous spot half way up the Redcliffe Peninsula, a beach in the middle of several miles of beach. I'm pretty sure I have posted pics from this beach before, but I have a few more today that are pretty adorable.

America likes to call itself The Great Melting Pot, but I must beg to differ. In our short time here in Brisbane I have noticed that Brisbane is a city full of diversity. There are significant populations of people from Singapore and all of Malaysia, Japan, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, New Zealand and much of Oceania, Korea, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Holland, Scandinavia, England, Germany, Greece... Large groups of people who seem to truly live together in peace and equality. Our little play group is a little microcosm of this reality.

The beach yesterday was quite chilly and breezy. Kids were dressed in everything from flip-flops or thongs to woolies, coats, and hats! John and I started out having lunch at a little sushi place that has a model train pulling cars behind it with food choices. Patrons can select off of the cars what they want to eat. John had his favorite: salmon and avo.

The Sushi Train

The scavenging Ibis

That last pic is a failed attempt at forced perspective. 
Oh well, we tried.

Then on to Suttons Beach.
It started out quite sunny but was quickly lost to overcast and cooling winds.
We love Suttons Beach, we love Brisbane.

Lucy, The Climber

LOTS of adorable little ones,
and Max on the ground

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The Top of the World 
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

EVERY Family is Weird

The thing is, YES, our family is weird.

But that's not to say that your family isn't weird, because, in all honesty, every family is weird.

(John gave me that opening.  lol)

  • Maybe your family can't quite hide its small obsession with Star Trek.
  • Maybe your family uses the word ermagerd.
  • Maybe your family keeps its spices in alphabetical order and its towels are only white for easy bleaching.
  • Maybe your family has children sleeping under the table or in the tub or in the hallway or under the trampoline.
  • Maybe your family created a mini symphony orchestra.
  • Maybe you and your family are into dipping candles.
  • Maybe your family is awake all night and sleeps all day.
  • Maybe your family takes hunting trips and wears camo for fashion.
  • Maybe your family embraces oddities of behavior.
  • Maybe your family forms a bowling team called "Right Down Your Alley".
  • Maybe your family collects blow dryers.
  • Maybe your family members wear matching plaid outfits.
  • Maybe your family has seventeen locks on the front door.
  • Maybe your family members only talk by email.
  • Maybe your family has five cats that throw up all over the place.
  • Maybe your family makes up words as you speak and slip them into conversation.
  • Maybe your family has spray painted all over your living room walls and you like it like that.
  • Maybe your family has been sailing the ocean for months and hasn't seen land since last June.
  • Maybe like your family like uses the word like like always.
  • Maybe your family watches BBC black-and-white tv shows.
  • Maybe your family fits this entire list.
The point is that the better you get to know a family, the more idiosyncrasies become apparent. Every family. All of them.  Some families work harder to hide their individuality, like it is embarrassed to be unique.  

As for our family, we embrace ours. We are very science fiction-y. We love all things BBC. We add costume pieces to our clothing. We are kind of sensitive and dislike yelling. We have odd sleeping hours. Many of us color our hair unusual colors. 
The point is, we decided years ago to embrace those things that we actually like, no matter what popular opinion says.
So relax about the homeschool and/or the atheist thing.  
Embrace the weird.

As my friend Rayven says:  Let your freak flag fly.


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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cuddling Cures the Melancholy

I had a real eye opener this morning.
Last night I was reading and pinning and messing around on Pinterest and spent some time reading parenting clip arts.  Other stuff too...Aw, you know how it goes.  Anyway I read this particular piece of clip art and it just stuck with me how true it is for me.  Cuddling literally kills depression, relieves anxiety, and strengthens the immune system.

Well, Elizabeth was sitting there in a mood this morning.  She was stewing in one of those moods that are fairly unpleasant, negative, and happening alot again.  She was unhappy about something her brother did; she had only been in the room for ten seconds and she had a sneer on her face.
In fact, now that I reread that sentence, I see how I tend to view her tough times...STILL learning...

I got up, walked over to her, and hugged her wordlessly, thoroughly for several minutes.
She looked up at me, smiled, and all has been well all day today.  It is wonderful to see her able to move past those challenging moments and enjoy herself...
At this very moment she is folding clothes and laughing with her dad.

I'm learning.


If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  My Parenting Manifesto 
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keeping Up With the Graduating Seniors

Sometimes I still find myself struggling with exactly what we are doing with regards to our homeschooling, with the definition of education, and with our expectations for homeschooling children in this family.  

On one hand we tend to be something of an unschooling family. Moving through life brings so many full and important lessons. On the other hand, I believe in reading the classics, in being able to write a decent essay, in being familiar with history and geography and science and math. These subjects don't just cover themselves when one unschools, so we do have lessons. Um, a bit of dissonance happening, do you reckon? 

Maybe, but it works for us. The kids do move back and forth with me as we move between these two poles of unschool and Classical homeschool. I still have a problem with forcing kids to learn unnecessary things, memorize stuff, and meet standardized testing goals. In my book, that is not learning, that is having kids meet adult needs for believing we are teaching something. I am aware of my own needs and expectations and goals enough to limit how often I make the kids to work simply to comfort my fears and uneasiness. And the truth is, getting my kids to meet my Classical Homeschooling goals is something of a joke.

It's tough right about now. I see friends attending graduation of their own kids from academically rigorous high schools and I have to honestly confess that I'm feeling the doubt. The prom pictures, the cap and gowns, the valedictorians, the SATS...  Elizabeth and I are both feeling the pull of these cultural milestones. We are very proud of the experiences of our friends and thrilled to see the excitement of their accomplishments! But that promise of a prom has always been a bit of a sticking point for my daughter... We aren't seeing any of this happening down here in Australia, so we are hoping the homeschool proms offered back home will be fun for her next year...

I find myself having to think through my personal education philosophy frequently these days. It's me. I want to raise my kids right and, sometimes it's not so easy knowing what to do...

But when you get down to it, just because I'm struggling right now doesn't mean I think the school system is the answer.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

First-Generation Atheist Parenting

atheist parent
In this world, discussing religion with your children can be a bit of a land mine when you are not religious. Our culture is saturated with religious dogma, words, memes, tradition, ideology, expectations, and whatnot and, sometimes, you can feel as though you are two-stepping around the world.  

When the kids were smaller I remember feeling very protective of their minds, of wanting to keep them from absorbing the Christian ethos in the air. It was everywhere and I didn't want them to internalize any of it. When they are very small and highly aware of world messages, it can be a nightmare!

Elizabeth was particularly prone to seeking out the magical and mystical memes in the world and embracing them. It was quite sweet and adorable when she was playing fairies, Peter Pan, and Easter Bunny. Not so cute when she invoked the name of the various lords.  

We have friends from many different religions and she would invoke Ganesh, Krishna, and The Goddess as often as she would invoke Jesus. And I was far more accepting of the first few than of the latter. For awhile there I am certain that I burdened her with my own anxieties about Christianity finding its way into her mind as a "truth".  

What can I say? I was a newbie Skeptical Parent... I have learned that there is no reason to kill their fun because of how prickly I am about religions and how deliberate I am about words. She doesn't carry the same history that I do and, therefore, does not share my knowledge and bias. Yet.

Being a first generation atheist parent can be a challenge because we don't have long-standing traditions to fall back on. We don't have the trite words and phrases on the tips of our tongues. We don't have the visibility and support. Often we are figuring it out as we go along. And we are often parenting secularly without the support of our beloved family (and with family who are often trying to sabotage our very deliberate work.) 

And that's OK! It is the hallmark of a freethinking, educated person to be able to make decisions based on facts, goals, intent, research, ethics, and choice rather than on habit and stigma.  

In fact, I hesitate to hand over a LIST OF WAYS TO PARENT because any inclusion on such a list is merely my own best guess and experience and not a hard-and-fast rule. Yet, here you go. I am still writing such a list.  Because it's always nice to talk with like-minded people to find out what worked for them.  

My kids are older now, almost 16 and 12. They are quite mature in their thinking and quite skeptical and critical thinkers. Conversations about ethics/morality (not a word I normally use because of its religious connotations) and the world at large are ongoing and interesting. I enjoy hearing their take on things. It gives me hope for the generations to come. Their refreshing ways of thinking and looking at the world make me feel quite certain of a few parenting points:

  • First and, perhaps, most obvious and oft-repeated suggestion (at least on this blog!) is to read many, many different mythological stories, including the  Christian stories, from very early on. The library is full of wonderful tales and folklore to explore. Mix Noah in with Doudicca, the Lambdon Worm with the Minotaur, Dream Time and Nirvana and Muspell, Changing Woman and Spider Woman and Coatlique, Taaroa and Kunitokotachi, the Iroquois Dream Woman in the Sky with Adam and Eve, Ton├íntzin with Xango, Hwangun and Mangala and Juok and Jupiter with Jesus, Zeus and Ra and Yahweh, and Zulu and Pan Gu. You will find that none of the stories stand out as more true or wise than any others. Consider your child firmly inoculated against believing that any of these stories as more than fiction!!!
  • Instead of "believing", LEARN. Being a researcher, a questioner, a traveler, an experimenter, and a journeyer models important tools and predispositions for your child. Having the ability, the willingness, and the habit of looking it up creates prophylaxis to nonsense.
  • Question Everything, but don't look for a fight! Why are things the way they are in our culture? What do the words around us mean? What meaning and tradition lurk around us in symbol? Religions have been a central part of civilization as long as we have had civilization. When we model the questioning and the understanding of these age-old traditions, we allow ourselves to live freely among them without internalizing their original meaning. For example, I refuse to utter any sort of pledge that I myself have not written and thought through. The Pledge of Allegiance does not pass my lips. But must I pass my own deliberate decision across to my children? No, but I have discussed my problems with the pledge to them. Let's let them make their own decisions.
  • Be nice. There is no need to openly debase and demean any other person on the planet. Be the change you wish to see in the world. 
You will err and you will succeed. Learn, discuss your learning experiences with your children as they grow, and do your best. Time is on your side. You do not have to get every last message into their heads while they are still toddlers. They will live and learn. With my own kids, as they have grow and have learned to think and discuss, I have learned to trust their ability to make sense of the world around them. I have at last learned to RELAX.  

All will be well and all will be well.

All of this clip art is mine.
Feel free to use it and link back to my blog.

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Mind the Gap

Monday, May 13, 2013

Our Homeschool Day

When I get up at dawn, I walk outside to look on the clothes line for the cleanest and driest denim jumper to wear for the day.  While getting dressed I usually find seed pods and home-cooked meal recipes in the pockets...I can be so forgetful!  I love bringing in the laundry early in the morning.  After milking the cow and chasing the free-range chooks around the yard, I joyfully made a hearty breakfast for the kids who, by this time they are sitting at the table reading from their lesson books.  Writing notes.  Discussing politics.  Committed to their own education, while classical music is playing.  Taking their OCD and ADHD meds.

After a few hours of intensive learning and reading aloud to one another, we take a mid-morning break and walk out into the woods, identify bird songs, check on our fishing lines, and collect water samples for our running pond studies.  Oh, and we feed the llamas, dogs, horse, birds, chinchillas, chooks, reptiles, and carnivorous plants.

Upon our return we all work together in the kitchen on an organic lunch straight out of the garden, which we share with work-at-home Daddy.  After the dishes are tidied up straight away, we drive a few meals around to home-bound friends; they just love my cooking!  Back home we move on to our advanced math and science work.  Experiments are carried out and diagrammed, word problems are discussed, protractors are used.

While the kids are working independently and side-by-side for the afternoon, I take out my embroidery for a bit of relaxation.  How I enjoy their silence.  I work on some darling long skirts for my daughter and black vests for my son.  I have also made curtains for the den and camper, and costumes for the homeschool play.  I'm working on a knitted Christmas tree complete with ornaments, lighted bits, and singing animals.  I found the pattern on Pinterest. 

As formal lesson time ends, the kids get excited about working on their projects.  My daughter spends her time either practicing her ballet, raising baby chicks, working in her organic garden, or ranking all of the American presidents by words made up of anagrams of their names.  My son either works on his matchstick models, his outdoor Liberty Walk, or on cataloging stars by color and chemical make up.  He is also learning to play the spoons.  I get busy making phone calls for all of the volunteer activities that I participate in.  This is also the time we might walk down to the nursing home and sing songs for the residents.  How they love our voices!

When the afternoon wears on toward dinner, the kids start excitedly looking through the pantry planning on what do make for dinner; I can barely stop them!  My daughter might make a pie, some French appetizer, or some fresh home made noodles while my son might create a vegan delight out of nothing but leftovers.

My son tidies out his little closet under the stairs and enjoys some time in total darkness.  My daughter sits alone in her room.  After our family discussion where my husband tells us what we should be improving on, we sit quietly while Daddy smokes and relaxes.

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Another one is:
Baby, I was Born this Way

Friday, May 10, 2013

Meeting Online Friends

I am SO lucky!
I have been in the position to meet people In Real Life who I actually initially meet online.
We are still in the infancy of the internet and in some ways we are learning about online etiquette and social rules. And there are many stories out there of frightening and negative meet ups with online acquaintances.

But I have been so lucky!
In my travels I have been able to meet up with five online friends.

A friend that John has made
through an online friend.
This is Eli on the left
and John on the right
in Redcliffe QLD.
As the internet has matured, I have been a part of several online communities of atheists or homeschoolers, or other special interest groups that have been important to me over the years. Because of the intimate nature of some groups, I have made friends with several people from these groups, people who I count as actual and true friends. Today that is more acceptable, but several years ago that would have sounded socially-awkward, quite pathetic, and terribly embarrassing. But I think Bollocks! I have had the good fortune of befriending wonderful, smart, funny, caring people who live all over the world! So I was one of the few people who has always been willing to call my online friends friends.

Our family has the good fortune of being able to travel quite a bit. Through this travel I have been able to meet these friends face-to-face! A couple of years ago we went down to Florida for a rather lengthy stay as we considered the possibility of Jerry taking a job down there. While on the coast I met my first friend!

Shay and her husband Doug met my kids and I at a restaurant near Tampa, Florida. Doug was worried that I might be a Christian about to swoop down and try to evangelize them...LOL. But Shay and I had already been online friends at that point for at least two years. So meeting one another was as easy and walking across the street. She and Doug were as cool as I knew they would be.

Then came Rayven.
Rayven and I somehow really bonded online. We met on an atheist parenting group and just *clicked*. We had been online friends for two or three years when she and her boys flew into St. Louis from their military station in Okinawa Japan. We had planned on her flying in and then driving up to Ohio to see her family. When I picked her up she was exhausted, hungry, and carrying tons of luggage and two boys. After a little snack and some sleep, she was back! That amazing, sharp woman that I knew and loved. She was a bit taller than I had expected...!

When we moved from St. Louis to Brisbane we stopped for business in San Francisco. Yay, the chance to meet Julianna! Although we only had time for one luncheon together, she was the kind of woman you would want to hang with. She is family-oriented, strong, funny, sweet, and GAME! She is a risk-taker who grabs life by the horns. Seriously, I'm thrilled to be her friend!

Kylie and I "met" online as our family was planning on moving down here to Brisbane.  She and I 'clicked' online and it was a delight to meet her! She was so kind that she held a pool party in our honor, to welcome us and to introduce us to people down here. The kids and I were very moved by that.

And most recently, Cathy!
Cathy is an absolutely beautiful and gracious woman who befriended me just weeks before we moved down here to Australia. I met her at her blog Beautiful Life. Upon our arrival in Brisbane I met a tidal wave of people, including Cathy. We finally had the chance to sit and talk the other day at a beach day for a group of homeschoolers. Let's just say, she is the fifth SCORE! of my online friends who have surpassed their online presence in awesomeness! Cathy is gentle and strong, and sweet and genuine. She is lovely.

Maybe it is still a bit of a faux pas to call people you meet on the computer friends, but I don't care because the people who I am honored to have met ARE my friends. Really and truly.

Questions for You

If you have a  blog, have you gotten those "tag" type of posts where you are complimented or awarded by a homemade award and then asked to pass along a questionnaire and to "tag" others.  Well.  This isn't one of those.  LOL

But I would enjoy reading your answers!  Here are the questions. 

Answer the questions before reading my answers!

Here are MY questions for YOU:
  1. What prompted you to begin homeschooling?
  2. What homeschool books have encouraged you on your journey?
  3. Do you have a favorite read aloud book?
  4. If you could only have three homeschooling books/curriculum, which would you choose?
  5. Where can we find your favorite homeschooling blogs?
  6. What do you to do to demonstrate continual learning to your kids?
  7. What’s your favorite way to unwind after a crazy day?
  8. Is there a quote you find inspiring?
  9. What did you do to prepare for homeschooling?
  10. Where do you find your best support for homeschooling?
  11. Where do you encounter the most difficulty in homeschooling?
  12. How do you challenge yourself to be a better teacher?
  13. What is your schedule like?
  14. What has been your best accomplishment as a homeschooling parent?
  15. What item has made the most significant impact to your homeschooling?
  16. What is the most important thing that you want your children to come away with as a homeschooling graduate?

Here are my answers:
  1. What prompted you to begin homeschooling?  It started with an innocent comment from a friend about how I talk to the kids and how I was already a homeschooling mom.  I began to realize that she was correct.  I started thinking about homeschooling when my daughter was in kindergarten.  I volunteered in her classroom one afternoon a week; it was the afternoon they went to the school library and heard stories read by the librarian.  For THREE straight weeks in December, she read Jesus stories.  I was angry and confused and upset as hell.  No Santas, no snow, no reindeer, no Hanukkah, no dredels, no solstice.  Jesus.  In a public school.  My daughter was confused and convinced that I was not telling her the truth.  It was awful and just enough to push me over the line.  That started it.  Today, the reasons why we homeschool today have nothing to do with those early reasons!
  2. What homeschool books have encouraged you on your journey?  Does it make me sound like a doofus if I don't read many homeschooling books anymore?  I used to read every single one I could get my hands on to and I always ended up feeling totally inadequate...
    I loved "Teenage Liberation Handbook" best in the early days of reading (eleven years ago) and The Over-Scheduled Child.  Nothing lately, though.
  3. Do you have a favorite read aloud book?  The kids and I enjoy reading adventure series books aloud.  It had been awhile, but we enjoyed reading "The Lost Hero" by Rick Riordan.  We loved his other ones as well.  And the kids and I also read "39 Clues" and enjoyed it tremendously.  We also love reading poetry aloud.  "Mandy" by Julie Edwards (Andrews).
  4. If you could only have three homeschooling books/curriculum, which would you choose?  We tried several different curriculum, but didn't like any of them.  I like textbooks.
  5. Where can we find your favorite homeschooling blogs?  I put my faves along the left side of my blog.
  6. What do you to do to demonstrate continual learning to your kids?  Reading is a big one. I am almost never without a book or three within reach. I answer questions with, “Let’s look that up.” to the point that my kids usually just ask to look things up now. I also try to display a willing attitude to try something new. We’re forever going some place or doing something new, and I always try to remind them to take something away from the experience and we usually reinforce that at home with the next day’s lessons – even if it’s only a question or two.  I am a continual learner myself and, although they tease me about it, they see it and emulate it.
    We research major purchases together, check out news stories and background stories, science stuff...just everything, really!
  7. What’s your favorite way to unwind after a crazy day?  Hot tea, reading, Facebook, movies
  8. Is there a quote you find inspiring?  I have many favorite quotes, many of which I have made in to clip art and included in various places on this blog.  LOL  I have been loving Rumi quotes lately.  But the one that really started me on the path to my real life is "Question Everything" and my absolute favorite quote, by Carl Sagan:

  9. What did you do to prepare for homeschooling?  It was years ago now, but I spent six months reading and researching everything I could get my hands on.  At that time there was far less online than there is now.  I talked to everyone who I respected.  I read dozens of books.  But it still came down to one thing:  trusting the process.
  10. Where do you find your best support for homeschooling?  From my husband, from my best friends, and online on some great Facebook groups.
  11. Where do you encounter the most difficulty in homeschooling?  I think I have discussed this again and again on this blog.  The things that I find the most difficult are knowing what to do with my daughter and doing what is best for my son.   And electronic time wasters.  Living down here in Australia has brought new difficulties, namely finding enough friends and people who the kids can hang with OFTEN.
  12. How do you challenge yourself to be a better teacher?  At this point I am generally working on passing the torch on to my daughter.  Challenging her to be a better teacher to herself...
  13. What is your schedule like?  We have been unschooling most of the time here in Australia.  But, we still have a couple of days a week where the kids have lessons before getting onto any electronics.  We have never been schedulers.  
  14. What has been your best accomplishment as a homeschooling parent?  I have tremendously enjoyed leading reading groups in our co op.  Leading other teen groups for the homeschool group, too, has been so enriching to me personally.  Having Elizabeth reach for the stars with her reading and writing and performing.  Having John get enthusiastic about science.
  15. What item has made the most significant impact to your homeschooling?  The computer, hands down. OH, and our traveling!  
  16. What is the most important thing that you want your children to come away with as a homeschooling graduate?  The obvious things.  That the world is enormous and worthy of exploration.  That they are kick ass individuals with a great deal to offer.  That they are capable of learning anything.  And that learning never ends.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

On the Road

Elizabeth is old enough where, if we were back home in The States, she could be driving on a learner's permit.  But here in Brisbane she has to be 16 to drive.  Which leaves us in a pickle.  Well, it would be a pickle IF I were a rule follower, which I am not. I have been getting her behind the wheel for about a year and a half now.  I figure that more practice is better than less when it comes to St. Louis highways.
They are brutal!

I just want my American friends and readers to think about this.  How would you like to have your teen on the left side of the car, driving on the left side of the road?  Not to mention and roundabouts!!!!!!  She is doing pretty good now that she has gotten her courage up enough to give it a try.  The roads here are quite a bit narrower than the roads back home, so that is an issue at times.

It is a real adventure!

But I have a major concern with us getting back home and having to acclimate ourselves to driving on the right side of the road and in the right side of the car and on the St. Louis highways.  I'm sure that Elizabeth will have a problem with the adjustment, but I have to admit that it will be difficult for me as well.  While I have been driving for 35 years in America and only nine months in Australia, I often have dreams where I am struggling to remember how to drive.  LOL  And when I see movies or TV shows set in The States, I realize how mixed up I feel.

We are planning on a visit home in July, so I recommend all Missouri drivers keep a look out for a silver RV driving in the wrong lane down Hwy 255...

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