Saturday, October 31, 2015

We Need a Word Worse than F*@K

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So I've got teens.
Three teens in this house who play games too late into the night, who are online with friends and strangers playing RPGs (Role Playing Games), and who have their own language and culture right here in our home. The entire conversation during gaming times is totally different than at other times of the day. Their sound is loud, lively, exclusive, and often lowbrow.

The eff word, and any word, is welcome in my house.
Many years ago my husband and I decided that use of language is a lesson and we would allow all language under our roof. Nearly every conversation over the past fifteen years have been a lesson in some way. The kids have often used words that have challenged this guideline by which we live and have pushed the envelope. We have had many, many conversations about the power of words inform the kids and how they speak. It's all about self-determination and the power of language.

Because there is no forbidden word in my house I have heard stuff come out of the mouths of my kids that I thought never to hear. Words that, when I was a kid, were SO forbidden that we never even thought to say them. On a side note, because of our online world and our freedom of language it has been interesting to hear taboo words going into and out of style; it seems that the language of what is considered profane has a fairly short life.

The other day the kids were talking about four letter words and how old so many of the words and expressions are. The kids were tired of the fact that most so-called swear words refer to religion or to the human body and the kids were making a point that those words were no longer powerful in our contemporary world. These words were given to us and we were told that they are dirty. We disagree.
Honestly, when the kids figured this out I was pretty impressed.

They offer these words and phrases as alternatives to today's curse words. I wish I could remember all of the suggestions that they came up with because they were stellar insults!
  • You are the human embodiment of Comic Sans.
  • When I think of you I think of Internet Explorer.
  • Fart munch.
  • Glitter Letter
  • You're more of a disappointment than stained stainless steel.
  • You off-brand Special K
  • You are the chocolate chip cookie that, when you bit into it, is actually raisin.

What do you do about profanity?
What do you consider profane?

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Don't Read This F*cking Post
Challenging Teen, Redux

Friday, October 30, 2015

Timed Tests and Homeschooling

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When I was a kid I was always in the advanced classes. By the fourth grade we were sorted into ability levels and I was always in with the smart kids. That was all well and good for most of my subjects. But that wasn't good. If you were a smart kid in those days you were in with the upper echelon kids, with regards to grades, GPAs, in all subjects.

One problem for me was that I was excellent in all classes except for one: MATH. To this very day I can't do math.

In some ways I can take some of my math fear back to times tests. I recall a timed test in the second grade, Mrs. Allison's class, the class when I realized that I didn't get math. This was the moment when I knew that I might have done better on the quiz if I had not felt the pressure of the timed test. On the other hand, when it came to super-fast speed reading, I was top of the class. I would imagine that kids who didn't enjoy reading were turned off on reading forever with those speed reading activities.

Back to math, later on we did the timed multiplication tests in Mrs. Cataneo's class. While I began to ace the times tables, I hated the tests. And later still, the pressure of the math quiz on Fridays in my seventh grade math class still bothers me. I wonder if my own math ability might have changed had someone tried to pique my interest in math rather than to attempt to force performance upon me.

Timed tests. I hate them. 

When John was younger I could see that he was very adept in math, in whatever those skills are that make a person excellent in math. I tried giving him times multiplication tests. At one point he simply put his pencil down and said I won't take timed tests, Mom.

How did he know?
How did John know that the timed aspect of the work was optional and was counterproductive? 
When given unlimited time to complete his work he could finish that work in minutes and finish it well. But add a timing device and his performance went all to hell. Without the stopwatch, John enjoys the math and logic challenges and even does analogy workbooks just for fun.

Timed tests, in my experience, don't display a child's ability level, but, rather, they display a child's ability to handle stress. From my reading lately, I see that school administrators are struggling to make improvements in the performance of their students, but I strenuously question some of their efforts. How can creating math anxiety help improve performance in math students?

I haven't really followed schooling and education trends; I'm not even specifically certain what is meant by the Common Core Standards that are so in the news these days. But one thing that I am certain of is that performance anxiety can never compete with help in appreciating the beauty of a well-turned math problem.

My friend just posted this article by her dad:

President Obama Finally Opts in 

for Personalized Teaching over Standardized Testing

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Advanced Anger Management

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You've come a long way, Baby.

I don't know about you, but I have one of those kids who goes from 0 to Flip Out in about three seconds. From No-You-Can't-Do-That-Thing to My-Life-is-Completely-Over in the blink of an eye.

Over the years my daughter has worked hard on managing herself. The anger has become an issue lately but she's truly making an effort to get over the hump of an initial anger outburst. Most of the anger spawns from having so much pressure coming from so may different directions. What can we say; she's getting older and she has so more to do in life than she used to. Sometimes she gets overwhelmed. Her anger is one of her first go-to emotions when what she is really feeling is anxiety or frustration.

These last months and weeks she has really stepped up to the plate in figuring out how to handle herself in higher-stress situations. She has learned, in her journey toward happiness and anger management, that if she will explain her anger, rather than expressing it in a blow up, she will immediately begin to find solutions rather than arguments.

She is feeling empowered, hyped in her life, and more grown up.
And that's worth all of our efforts.

You might also enjoy these posts:
Challenging Teen, Redux

Anti-Intellectualism and SecTv's Atheist Teen Roundtable

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In case you haven't heard, I am producing a show on SecularTv on youtube called Atheist Teen Roundtable. It's been difficult keeping the show going at times for a variety of reasons. I have never produced a show before (Except for my own: Brunch with The Secular Parents) so I'm not all together certain what to do to improve the show, but I'm working on it!

The show is an open panel discussion between 3-6 kids, it varies from week to week. We have had some turn over of kids, though there is a central core of three kids who have been there from the beginning. They are working very hard on learning to lead a discussion, how to run a show, how to interview, etc and that work really shows as time goes on. I'm very proud of both John and Elizabeth in this last show. WOW, they sound great.

We are interviewing kids/teens who are interested in joining our Atheist Teen Roundtable. If your teen is interested in talking to us about being on the show, they need to contact me at:

Interested teens should be: a TEEN, be able to commit to show times (Friday nights between 9pm and 11:30pm CST), be able to hold your own in a conversation, be informed enough to join in the conversation or be willing to prep for the show, and have audio/video capabilities.

Anyway, last week the kids did a show on Anti-intellectualism and I thought the show was interesting. Would you give the show a listen? I could use feedback in several different ways. 
  • How can we improve the show?
  • How can I get a few more teens interested in being on our panel?
  • What are some good topics for the show?
  • What are the good parts of the show?
  • What sucks?
  • Would your teens listen?
  • Would you WANT your teens to listen?
The show is about 45 minutes long, contains profanity, and has some dead air.  LOL
I have a few other episodes of this show that I also found pretty good shows. I'll list a few in case you want to give a listen. 
If you take on my challenge, THANK YOU, I truly could use some input.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Kathryn Wants to Know: When Family Doesn't Support Secular Parenting

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Question from a Reader:
Good evening,
I'm a newer atheist (3 years or so), and I'm expecting my first child April 2016.
My husband and I were both raised christian. My fathers side is VERY pushy and always criticizes my "beliefs." When they found out that I was pregnant they all started questioning how I was going to raise the child. I want my child to find who they are on his/her own without anyone pushing beliefs on them. I'm not sure how to respond to things like. my cousin asking if she could send me Babys first bible...
I already feel like an implant in the family. I don't want my child to feel the same.
How did you overcome these battles with family? 
Thank you,
My Reply to Kathryn:
Kathryn, first, I wrote this blog post early this year; maybe it will help:
But more importantly, I think that you may be sensing that everything is about to change and that you are leading the revolution. I fear your struggle will be long term, Kathryn. Your dad's families' religion and their church has taught them that they have the right and the responsibility to bully people into following their religious tenets and, if that doesn't work, to up the ante and become even more overtly domineering.I hate to be pessimistic, but I fear you can expect may years of struggling with this. Unless I am mistaken, these people are assured that they are in the right and that they have the right to put in their two cents. In my own experience, some of these folks, people who I genuinely love, never get to a place of understanding and acceptance. 

My first suggestion is to realize that the way you already feel in the family, like an outsider, will probably not go away. I'm not trying to be unkind to anyone, only to prepare you for a likely scenario. Many believers hold on to a very strong US vs THEM model that is not based in love or kindness, but rather, is based in fear and stagnation of thought. Their minds are not open to considering differing lifestyle choices in any positive or agreeable way. You really learn alot about people when your words and actions announce that you are going to live your own life in your own way.

In the end, it is on your head how to handle their stuck way of thinking. I think my blog post mentioned above is a really good start to preparing yourself because you are going to need it. You may need to thicken your skin a bit in the months to come and understand that they can not understand where you are in your life. That leaves you in a position of power in one important way: how you respond to their efforts. With confidence and with continued learning and research.

I hope you find a way to be clear and firm in your resolve to raise freethinking children without feeling like you have to become a soldier for atheism. Maybe that confidence will come to you as you realize, more and more, stronger and stronger, that you are the parent and it is truly your right and your responsibility to raise your child to be a thinking and loving human being. Becoming this first-generation atheist parent that you want to be is a process. Keep questioning. Keep researching. Keep learning.
I know you can do it.

Enjoy that baby!
Do YOU have any suggestions for Kathryn?


Biblical Parenting 

Secular Parenting in the News...and I'm Loving It!
Heart Outside of my Body
Growing Up Godless 
When People Undermine Your Secular Parenting
Myths About Atheist Parenting

Friday, October 23, 2015

Being an Atheist: I Miss the Church Community

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I've been an atheist for over eighteen years now; I realized my skepticism while my daughter was a tiny baby in her crib. At first I thought I could not tolerate the structure of man made religion and I decided that it was church itself that I could not accept. It was obvious to me at that time that the rules and guidelines were obviously creations of men, although they were said to be of god.

One of my first steps away from belief in a god was, first, to become clear that so much of the system was so clearly an invention of human beings. That was major for me in those days. As a former Catholic, I recall the fear of these questions and of my own resistance to the new clarity that I was experiencing.

So I left the church. It was difficult to lose that community that I loved so much. That loss was major and I sometimes feel that loss even now. So many of my friends were a part of that church and so many of my activities each week were directly involved with my church and diocese. The church calendar was my calendar because all of the feasts and celebrations and activities were important to me. 

Anyway, now, nearing twenty years later, I still think fondly of the community of the church. But when I think of those people realistically I know that they would no longer be able to tolerate an atheist in their circle of friends...because atheists are to be feared and knowledge is eschewed for faith. 

The longer I am an atheist, the more obvious the brainwashing and nonsense that religion offers. No wonder those old friends of mine are unable to be friends with me these days. They are well programmed. In order to be a part of that group of people, I must buy the doctrine in full, sacrifice all independent thought, and refrain from all questioning. I can't do that.

I spent many years feeling sad about losing that church community that I used to be a part of. But I realize that I was very replaceable in that company. I used to miss the community of the church, but the price is just too high. The longer I am an atheist, the more years I put behind myself as a skeptic, the harder it is to believe that I was ever able to believe, to have faith, at all.

Do you miss the community?
What do you do about it?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Atheist Parenting Blog WebRing

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If you are an atheist, secular, or humanist parent with a blog focused on raising a family, please consider joining my WebRing called Atheist/Humanist Parenting Blog Ring:

Click Here to join our webring.  *

This is a fun and easy way for other atheist parents to join together. Using this WebRing allows readers to browse from one blog to another blog with similar topics of writing. Having a supportive group of other bloggers can help you to share your blog writing and content with new readers.

If you want to join my little group of atheist/secular/humanist parenting blogs, please do click the link above. I hope you join this web ring; we'd love to have you!

And, another offer I'd like to make to parenting blog writers, I'd be interested in hosting some parenting blog posts here on My Own Mind blog. If you would like to submit a blog post to me for consideration, please send your blog post and contact information to:

You might also like:
My Atheist Parenting Blog

*  In order to add this webring to your blog, click on the above link to sign in to the ring. Then paste the code that is emailed to you for the webring into your blog layout as a gadget. OR navigate to the bottom of this page and click the JOIN button on the WebRing box.

YOU are Your Best Gizmo

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YOU, yes you.
In the homeschool game, HECK, in life, we find so many gadgets and gimmicks on the market to make things better, faster, quicker. It behooves each of us to be critical thinkers in the marketplace because they know that we are nervous. They know that we want to do better. They know that we are desperate for the magic bullet.

I'm here to tell you the absolute truth, the secret that you have been looking for, the ultimate brass tacks. 
YOU are the best tool at your disposal.

Your curiosity, your passion, the light of your knowledge, your enthusiasm, your questioning, your leadership, your imagination, your thirst. No book, video, website, or gizmo on the market can even come close to comparing to what you have to offer this world, to what you offer to your children. You are actually the best thing in the world that you offer them.

Yes, professional teachers have learned crowd control, education theory, classroom management, teaching strategies, mechanics of teaching. These people learn ALOT! But the best among them are the teachers who bring their own sparkle, their own curiosity, their enthusiasm, their passion. Think about your favorite teachers of all time. Aren't they the ones with a sparkle in their eye? With a yes attitude? Wasn't your favorite teacher the one person who showed you personal attention, who believed in you, who encouraged you to be a better you, who showed you how to learn the material?

It was not the teacher with the best textbook or the best classroom or the best up-to-the-minute materials. It was the person who looked you in the eye and cared. 


Yes of course, learn how to teach writing skills. Learn what type of approach works best for your child or children. Learn better methods for teaching math stuff. Learn more about scientific principles and such. But don't bother to figure out the best way to lecture, to create workbooks and paperwork, to organize projects, to create quizzes and tests, or to test materials because these things are absolutely unnecessary. Because it won't be your lecture skills that draw your kids in. It will be YOU, your excitement and your sparkle.

Who cares what grade level your child is working at? Your children are working at their level. A secret: all children are working at their levels! Who cares what score they get on their math quiz? They either understand or they do not understand the material. Very few homeschooling parents or kids need a quiz to know that information. (Though I understand the level tests when figuring out where to start in a book!)

YOU can do this. Sweet, well-meaning, researching, capable YOU.
Sure, the learning curve can be steep at times, but the kids will see your efforts and know that no one is born knowing everything, that everything we do or become is a result of the passion and effort that we bring to the project.

Trust me.
Trust YOU.
You've got this.

Agree or Disagree?
You might also enjoy:

Stressing Over Homeschool Curriculum...NOT!
Do You Need a Homeschool Strategy? 
How to Homeschool
Top Ten Habits of a Happy Homeschool Mom
Thirteen Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Homeshooling When I got Started

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Made it Myself

Stressing Over Homeschool Curriculum....NOT!

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Have you ever heard the old joke about how, if you go to a fight a hockey game will erupt? Go to any homeschool event and sit with one or more homeschooling parents and a conversation about curriculum will erupt. The tiresome, never ending, fretting conversation about curriculum. Have those parents be secular and the conversation is almost always about secular science curriculum. Even harder: atheist homeschool science.

I have stayed out of those conversations for almost a decade now.
I don't want to know what you are using and I don't want to explain why I am using what I am using as compared to what I have not selected to use. I don't want to know about the newest, shiny gimmick. I don't want to hear about the most recent apps.

My conversations about what materials we use happen with my son only; absolutely no one else gets input. When determining materials John and I consider four things: John's learning styles, my teaching style, our ability to afford the materials, and what we want to cover.

I have absolutely no need to look at every new gimmick that comes out onto the market. With the number of homeschooling families growing so quickly the amount of available materials has also grown at a phenomenal rate over the years we have homeschooled in this family. So many of my beloved friends who homeschool have kept up with so many of the newest materials being revealed each year. I have watched families change curriculum choices again and again and again.

I know! I get it! You want to do your absolute best.

If I may be so bold, my best advice to you when you hear the ravings about the wondrous results a family is getting from their curriculum:  IGNORE THEM. Be happy for them, congratulate them, and move along. There is absolutely no need for competition, nothing works for everyone, and just relax. Once you have selected your homeschool materials, close that door, put your head down, and get to it. 

Nothing brings more stress to homeschooling moms and dads than those fears that they are missing something magical, special, 
new and improved, or perfect. But you are missing nothing. Every single homeschooling family is unique and all of those choices are unique as well. 

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Homeschool: College Prep, Note Taking

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With my kids in and nearing college it occurs to me that I haven't written much about specific ways that I have worked to prepare the kids for college. Having been to college ourselves, my husband and I have spent over 12 years between us in college, we have thought about essential skills for success in college. Let's talk about note taking.

We didn't start learning about writing lecture notes in the kids' teen years, we started this in the so-called elementary years so that it would become second nature for them. We started out by learning about outlining. I created simple outlines and then lectured to them from that outline so that they could see that most talks are organized in outline fashion for the speaker and that the listener, if they can recreate that outline, can use that lecture framework to recall all of the important information from the lecture. No need to record long sentences spoken by the lecturer, only the need to figure out important key words to represent the main ideas.

We then moved on to viewing lectures together (some in real life and some online). Each of us would write our own notes for the lecture and then we would compare our notes and talk about what we wrote and why, again with the reminder that we were attempting to recreate the lecturer's outline notes, always improving our listening skills. Being able to remain an active listener while creating the note document is a learned skill.

Another type of note taking is a regular part of our lessons as well. Each week we do biographies on lesson days. Each lesson day we do three biographies: an ancient, a middle age, and a contemporary person. These biographies create a different type of note taking practice. Each entry into our notes would include identifying information (name, dates, location), accomplishments or important life events, impressions, and connections with others.

Why to We Take Notes

Knowing the purpose of note taking helps the process. Understanding that note are being written down to aid in recall, to jog your memory, to reinforce the learning helped the kids to be more effective note takers. So many students write notes without understanding what they are doing or why they are doing it. We spend time talking, still, about the process of note taking, it's challenges and it's purposes. Note taking is a truly challenging process because the listener is trying to actively listen and participate as well as to create a written document of the lecture at the same time. Concentration is stretched to its limits!

We also talk about understanding the purpose of preparing for the process of taking notes. Reading or preparing for the lecture, preparing the paper for notes, getting into a listening place, figuring out how the notes from before this lecture fit in the grand scheme of the material, figuring out what to write and how to continue to pay attention, identifying key points of the lecture, documenting examples/charts/graphs, reviewing notes, keep a log of vocabulary/important figures/major events...all of these skills can be learned and improved upon with time. More effective note taking strategies are a regular part of our lessons.

When I was in school all notes were written in notebooks with, GASP, ink pens. Today's students have the added bonus of being able to organize their notes on their PCs and laptops, cool note taking apps, spell check, format to create outlines, highlighting, locating references, sub documents, synthesizing notes, sharing information, etc. 

I've read research that suggests that handwriting notes improve recall over typing notes on a laptop, but I'm sure your kids will have their own preferences...mine sure do.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

My College-Aged Homeschooled Daughter Gives Advice to Homeschooling Parents

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This evening my daughter and I have been talking about how she's doing in college, at work, and in general in her life. She is just so happy, productive, and feeling positive that I thought other homeschooling parents might enjoy hearing how she is doing.  Here is a short conversation that she and I had together for this blog post: 

Do you read my blog?

LOL, yes, Mom, I do read your blog from time to time. I will get on and read multiple posts in a row, but I don't really read it regularly.
Now I feel like a terrible daughter!  LOL

What do you think of my blog and of how I write about you?

I think your blog is very informative for parents who need it and an interesting read because of our lifestyle. We have unique experiences and we're a unique family with our reasons for homeschooling, our atheism, living out of the country, and other things. 
As for the way you write about me, I trust you. I'm fine with it because I know it's not too personal or anything, you share it with me before posting it, and I feel safe with your readers.

What are you doing these days?  
Still homeschooling?

LOL, no I've gotten away from that. I'm a part-time college student
(she has three classes) and I'm loving it. I don't really homeschool anymore. I'm working alot of hours, doing homework, and keeping busy with theater and friends and things like that. I'm also taking private Korean lessons from a student at another college so I drive up to Washington University once or twice a week for those. I was just in a show at school that ended last week, so I'm getting used to having some free time again! I made a great friend during that show: the main character was played by a professor at school and she and I really became close; I love her; she's so amazing! I'm also working with you, Mom, with the photobooths and I love that. I'm doing some writing on my novel too, don't forget that.
And sadly, my best friend moved out to the west coast so, even though I have some friends, my best friend is gone!

Do you feel different from other students at school because you homeschooled?

At first I felt like it was obvious to everyone around me that I homeschooled, like it was seeping out of me Homeschooler here, Homeschooler here, can't function in a regular school environment!!!  I was afraid that I had Homeschooler tattooed onto my forehead! lol, but I know that that was my insecurities and anxieties about starting something new getting in the way. 

Between when I first started last spring and now, six semesters later, I know that I really do fit in perfectly and I know that having been homeschooled didn't impact me negatively at all. I feel like having been homeschooled makes me quite unique. No one really knows that I homeschooled unless I tell them and when I do, they are interested in what that was like for me. Most people are envious and wish that they had homeschooled too.
In fact, often when an instructor knows that I was homeschooled they tell me to tell Mom that she did a great job with if!

How did being homeschooled prepare you for college?

It did in that we did our lessons, math and essays and things, that prepared me for what to expect in my classes. You taught me about note taking, reading and researching, and creating outlines of lectures. We read some great literature. We worked in groups with our co op. We did lots of writing, essays, papers, poetry. I knew what would be expected of me by teachers. And, in fact, I'm quite good in my classes. Right now I'm in a writing class where we do peer reviews and my fellow students frequently enjoy my writing and are impressed with my ability to write well.
Also, my first semester in college I didn't take college-level classes but college-prep classes and those courses also helped me to prepare for college-level work and, more importantly, showed me that I was fully capable of doing this work.

Do you have advice for new homeschooling parents?

I would say to relax a little! Don't feel like you need to push lessons or information on kids. They need to be active and free and to follow their own interests. Don't get upset if they want to play instead of wanting to learn. Kids in schools are trapped in a 2x2 desk! You have an advantage in that you don't have to spend four or five weeks on a subject if you don't need to put in that kind of time; as soon as your child gets it you can move forward. Or if your child needs more time you can give them that too. There is no wasted time at all and alot less stress.
If your child gets does feel overloaded or stressed out or they need a break go read a book, put on a costume and play, do some art work. Use that advantage of not having learning time be between the hours of 9 and 3.
OH, and play alot!

Anything else?

Try not to get frustrated in your child doesn't get something right away. We've learned that children learn at different rates. If they don't get something now, put it away and bring it back in a month or two.
My brother and I are very close, we're both very close to Mom and Dad too, so that is another homeschool advantage! But mostly e
njoy your time together; it will be worth it!

What would you ask her, if you could?
Check back for answers.

ADDENDUM, 10/12/2015

Question from reader Amy to Elizabeth: What would be the one - or three- things you wished you would have learned (or done) to help prepare you for college that were missed?

Honestly, nothing academic. If you aren't college-level when you get to college, there are prep classes you can take to get you up to speed. Academics can be fixed there; that's what college is there for. There were dozens of adults in my below-college-level math class.

I wish I would have known how expensive it is. Because even community college is SUPER expensive and I feel like a burden to my parents. Even if deep down I know I'm not a burden at all, I still feel it. Now that I'm working toward independence I know the financial commitment that they have made to me, though they would never say that. I feel like, early on, as soon as conversations about college start happening, parents might start talking about the expense of college. That way kids who might want to help with the cost of it might want to think about how to prepare themselves to help with that financial burden.

For a long time I've had this thought, I felt like I knew what kids out there would be the snotty kids in movies, and I thought that was how kids are. But in college you realize that some people are, in face, still stuck in high school but most of them are not. Most of them are really nice people who want to befriend you and make you a part of their friend circle. It helps to actively pursue friendships rather than wait for them to come to you.

You think homework in homeschool is bad now? Homework in college will kick your butt. You have to stick with it, put your head down, and do it right away because there is no time to put it off. Not going to lie, for some classes you can get away without getting the homework done, but most of them require that you do it. I enjoy getting good grades and that requires that the work gets done on time.  

Thanks for asking!  ~Liz

Other posts you might enjoy:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Take this Job and LOVE it!

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On New Years Day of this year our family was attending a party at a friend's house when we met a lovely woman who introduced us to one of our best opportunities of the year. We were introduced to a woman who is now a dear friend, Melissa, a woman who owns a small business: photo booths for rent! Her business is called Fun Photo and she is the bad assest business owner I've ever known!

It took awhile for us to get our ducks in a row, but this year has been fantastic because both John and Elizabeth have been able to work with me as part of a parent/teen team on the job. When we do a gig, I take one of the kids and we operate the photo booth as a team. It has been a phenomenal opportunity for both of them to learn some really useful work skills, including how to work on a team, how to work with people, how to take instruction, business ethic, problem solving on your feet, working with difficult clients, and many more skills that I can't articulate right now.

We have worked at parties, weddings, public events, middle and high schools, colleges, holiday events, bar and bat mitzvahs, private parties of many kinds, and at business events. We've worked in many different places in a two state area and, another cool benefit, as homeschoolers we've been able to work during the week during daylight hours. The photo booth is usually an activity that people love...our clients are always smiling!

I have learned how amazing my kids are!
I am super impressed with them and so very proud. Although both of the kids now have other jobs as well, we still find time to work a gig or two for my friend Melissa. I'm so very thrilled that we have had this opportunity to work together as a mother/teen team because I have had the chance to do something that few parents ever get to see; I get to see my kids act as professionals in the work place. 
It is a pretty cool thing.

This weekend Elizabeth and I worked two gigs; it was both exhausting and thrilling! The first night we happened to be right in the middle of Cardinal Baseball Play Off Fever because our gig was smack dab in the middle of the hottest club in town that actually overlooks the stadium, right there on the first night of the playoffs! The massive baseball crowd was overwhelmingly red and white as we maneuvered our equipment from the car to the club where we were to work...maneuvering through a massive, moving crowd. Outside of the nearby window of our gig was the actual game! Inside there was a party going on and we were a part of's a great gig if you can get it!

To massively switch gears, tonight we had our photo booth at a 45th class reunion from a local high school for a few hours. The crowd was truly so lovely! Elizabeth and I both enjoyed the people and the work.

Elizabeth and I got home well before midnight with cash in our pockets, happy smiles on our faces, and with the delightful experience of a job well done...together!

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Atheist Parenting Blog Carnival: Seeking Submissions!

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Every so often I host a blog carnival for atheist parents, and it's time!

Why a blog carnival 
for atheist parenting?

There are many parents out there who are new to living a secular life, new to raising children without the traditional ways, sometimes hidden and living in seclusion due to their secular choices, afraid to be open and yet determined to raise their children as skeptics and as happy people. 

These atheist parents are looking for those few voices out there on the internet who can offer them a touch point, understanding, community, advice, or just a general feeling of being normal. Many first-generation parents are seeking in earnest and I am proud to be available and open and willing to offer my support. Not my advice, not my expertise, not a definition or label. But support, friendship, and this small community.  

Also, this carnival has one additional goal: to encourage more secular, atheist, humanist, skeptical, freethinking parents to blog, to share their stories, their struggles, their strategies, their journey.

My blog carnival contains blog posts by parents who are raising their children in a secular home, without religion, dogma-free.

 The next carnival is due out:  November 1, 2015
Please send in your blog post submissions by October 30, 2015.

Send the following information to 

Type CAP SUBMISSION or Carnival of Atheist Parenting in the email subject line.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION of writer or blog:


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Don't Read this F*cking Post...

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...unless you don't have a problem with so-called profanity. You've been warned.

It's about curse words and I'm sure I'm not entirely ahead of my time with these ideas. The words that our world has chosen to find distasteful and bad are those words that describe sex, our bodies, and religious issues. It's bizarre that these are the words that have been chosen for thousands of years to be considered profane. When you consider the source of what is defined as profane, though, it becomes clearer and more interesting.

Even the word profane is religion-based. The word profane actually means sacrilegious, blasphemous, and ungodly, literally outside of the templeIn my book, things sacrilegious, blasphemous, and ungodly are actually neutral, given the fact that there is no such thing as sacrilege, blasphemy, or god outside of the church. When you can escape the churchy inculcation and let go of all religious belief, you begin to have a clear ability to view the so-called bad words in a different way. Without the misleading guilt and fear of religion, words are just ...words. I wonder if, with clearer thought those words can be examined far more transparently. 

Please, consider the following. 
Words like hell, Jesus H. Christ, goddamn, and damn are merely reflection of the Christian ethic. These words are considered shocking only in the narrow view of that specific belief system. In their older, more elemental meaning, these damning words refer to a person or to a world without god, a godless person, a person cursed to a tormenting afterlife. Curse=cuss. In a secular world, none of these words hold any particular meaning or sinful context...and why should they?
It is quite freeing and interesting.

Words have the ability to reflect the intention of the speaker or of the audience. Words are unique in that they may have a given, agreed upon meaning but context still means everything. Even non-profanity can be offensive given the wrong context. As I recall, as a kid I remember my brother calling us diphthongs (two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable) during his his freshman year of high school while he was taking a foreign language. He definitely meant to upset my sisters and I, I guaran-damn-tee it. And he did upset us, even though we completely understood what an actual diphthong was. It was his intention that hurt us.

Isn't it interesting that our species has created an entire class of words that are intended to be insulting or shocking?! Isn't that something? While profanity does serve some emotional needs, mainly to express anger or disgust, to release strong emotion, to emphasis, or to connect informally with others, it is still interesting that humans in all cultures at all times (or most) have created an list of bad words to use in certain situations. Taboo words. How exciting and colorful!

I did some reading about profanity in non-English, non-Christian languages and discovered that not all bad words in these other non-Christian cultures are about sex or religion; many slurs are criticism of character. A variety of words that include lazy, nerd, shameful, ugly, one who fails, criminal, smelly, hey, your family is dead, and go die suggest that injuring someone's reputation or familial good name is an ultimate put down. Character assassination is very emotion-charged language. Admittedly, these cultures also considered fuck, dick, and whore to be shocking four-letter words as well.

I'm not arguing that the traditional profanity isn't shocking to hear, only that our list of profane things is generally religion-related and, therefore, just doesn't hold the old sense of shock anymore. The sex words aren't quite as fiendish anymore either. Fuck and douche and balls and dick just don't seem quite as appalling anymore as they used least not to me.

Do you know what does still appall me?
Willful ignorance, prejudice, selfishness, lack of compassion, violence, victimization, injustice.

What if, instead of calling someone who is loathsome a douche we called them a victimizer or unyielding or unjust or a person who needs a kinder heart or a person who needs to understand or a person who chooses to misunderstand or a person ignoring the facts or a person who needs to understand common decency or a person who misuses the earth and its resources or a person who is unkind or a person who refuses to learn. THESE words would be offensive if they were directed to me. This type of remark might be more accurate and more direct, but they aren't emphatic enough.
OK, dumb ass it is.

Are you willing to reconsider profanity?
How much profanity do you use?
How much do you allow your kids?

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Definition: The Formal Statement of the Meaning of the Word