Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I am grateful for my friends who choose to know me and secretly see my snarky side and still let me be part of their lives.
...............Jamie Lee Curtis

To all of you who understand this as it relates to me, Thank You.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

10 Favorite Quotes...on being true to yourself

Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got.
...............Janis Joplin

I have no regrets. I wouldn't have lived my life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say.
...............Ingrid Bergman

I'm tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.

I'm not going to limit myself just because people won't accept the fact that I can do something else.
...............Dolly Parton

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
...............Lucille Ball

I was thought to be "stuck-up". I wasn't. I was just sure of myself. This is and always has been an unforgivable quality to the unsure.
...............Bette Davis

Be bold. If you're going to make an error, make a doozy, and don't be afraid to hit the ball.
...............Billie Jean King

What a lovely surprise to discover how unlonely being alone can be.
...............Ellen Burstyn

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes.
...............Sally Field

It's me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence.
...............Paula Cole

Saturday, November 17, 2007

5 Favorite Links

How it works:

  • You have original, playable CDs that you do not want to keep.
  • You post those CDs to your "CD Tower" to offer to other members
  • You add funds to your SwapaCD Money account (this pays the 49-cent transaction fee for each CD you request)
  • After you have posted the first 10 CDs to your CD Tower, you get a "gift" credit from SwapaCD to get you started swapping. After that, you earn credits by sending out CDs to others.
  • You may order any available CD for 1 credit each (even multidisc or boxed sets)
  • If you want a CD that is not currently available, you can place it on your Wish List and we will notify you by email when it is available for you to order. You can even have it sent to you automatically when it becomes available, with no email necessary.
  • When a CD is requested from you, we notify you by email, provide the address for you to send it out, and even provide a wrapper!
  • Wrap and mail your CD.
  • When the requestor receives it, you earn 1 credit. Yes, you pay the postage to send out your CDs, but when you request a CD, the sender ships it to you and you pay only the 49-cent transaction fee (plus 1 CD credit)!
  • The CDs you receive from SwapaCD are yours. We hope that you will repost them to share with other members when you have read them, but you can certainly keep them, or give them away. Similarly, the CDs you send out to others belong to their new owners.
If you decide to give SwapaCD a try, I hope you will use the link above. Once you post your 10 CD's I get a free credit!

The Huffington Post
We don't have broadcast TV anymore. We get a really fuzzy channel 10 that none of us bother with, but nothing else. So we watch DVD's only. And my kids sometimes watch videos they borrow from the library.

I also don't get any newspapers or news magazines. So where do I get my news? The Huffington Post.

BBC News The Week in Pictures
I also get my news from the BBC. The page I love most is the week in pictures. And actually I try to look at each day in pictures. It makes the rest of the world more than just an idea.

The National Weather Service
Yeah, there are other places to get your weather. But they all get it from here.

This is one mailing list you really do want to be on: "The Travelzoo Top 20 is the definitive list of the week’s best travel deals. Every week, our team researches, evaluates and recommends hundreds of airfare, hotel, vacation package, cruise and rental car deals. Only the most competitive make the Top 20. Our Test Booking Center confirms the accuracy and availability of every deal before the list goes out."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why Homeschool?

Big Brother is watching...

Surveillance cameras rolling inside our local schools is nothing new, but what's taking place inside Demarest's public schools is truly cutting edge: a live feed from more than two dozen cameras with a direct connection to the police.

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I quit my job

I've been freelancing for a woman for a several months now. She actually sent me home with a mac so I could work when she needs me to. It's been really wonderful to make some extra money for us, and I really do like what I do.

Recently though, my client discovered she has breast cancer. So she started farming out her work, so that she can have the next few weeks unencumbered. She gave me two jobs to work on. One for a local Chamber of Commerce, and another for a car dealership which does a weekly newspaper ad. I knew the next couple of weeks would be very full and somewhat stressful, but I felt I owed it to my client to be there for her. Plus, to be honest, all those billable hours would be really nice.

Well after several days of working on the Chamber of Commerce thing, my client added up the hours and decided it would be best to give the job back to them. Apparently even paying me at less than what she was billing, she would lose money. It was a combination of reasons, really. The customer made many changes which had not been included in the original quote, and passing the thing on further down the line meant communication was being lost; kind of like the telephone game. So I spent four hours on something before I was told that it needed to be completely redesigned, at which time I spent another four hours redesigning it. If my client had not been ill and distracted, I'm sure the information would have been passed on correctly the first time around, but that was not the case, and I spent a lot of time doing work which was wrong. So in the end she (rightly) decided it was best to give the job back to the agency and let them deal with it.

Then we have the car thing. These folks are completely unprofessional. I'm not going into the details of the whole thing, but the bottom line is they were supposed to have had the ad all approved so I could upload it to the newspaper by noon on Thursday, and Friday at 5:30 is when I was finally able to upload it.

So I told my client that I would not be able cover the car ad for her until she returned to working full time. It would make me a slave to the house on Thursdays and Fridays and wasn't fair to the boys. So Saturday morning she came and took her computer back so she could give it to someone who could cover for her.

My feelings are so mixed. Bottom line is that I made a choice to stay home and raise my children, and homeschool them, and to expect them to entertain themselves two days a week for the next several was not fair. Not to mention that we would have to cancel plans already made for those days.

I also feel frustrated that my client left feeling that I took way longer to do the work than she would have. I know this would not be the case had she been her normal self - instructions would not have been missed, and I certainly would not have had to spend the enormous amount of time I had to gathering all the files together from all the different places she had it stored. I only hope that when she is herself again that she is able to see that I am still valuable to her, and that the time I spent on all her work is justified. "If you always do your best, there is no way you can judge yourself." Man, this book rocks. It is my life preserver.

There is also a piece of me which feels proud on a couple of levels. First, I have my priorities straight. Second, I feel that car dealership and the agency who represented them really were unprofessional. I refuse to work with people who don't respect me, especially after I explained my circumstances to make sure they were okay with my time limitations.

Finally though, I am dealing with the whole money thing. It doesn't seem fair that society judges people on their worth according to their monetary worth. And that that viewpoint is so prevalent that it has rubbed off on me, even though consciously I know I what I contribute to my family is worth more than some extra money. If I could just get my husband on board with that...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Why Homeschool?

Crap, it just gets worse and worse...

Safford [Arizona] Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Why Homeschool?

In school, children have no First Amendment rights...

"In light of the history of American public education, it cannot seriously be suggested that the First Amendment 'freedom of speech' encompasses a student’s right to speak in public schools. Early public schools gave total control to teachers, who expected obedience and respect from students. And courts routinely deferred to schools’ authority to make rules and to discipline students for violating those rules…"
- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Here is more of his nonsense.

Why Homeschool?

Writing “I love Alex” on a school gymnasium wall brought a 12-year-old the same punishment as if she had made terrorist threats.

Here's the full story.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Valuable Sunscreen Information

In a new investigation of 786 name-brand sunscreens, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found widespread evidence that many products on the market are not safe and effective, including one of every eight high-SPF sunscreens that does not protect from UVA radiation...

Read more about this very important information here.

I am shocked to find some of the sunscreens I use are not only ineffective in blocking all bad rays, but are actually hazardous to my children!

I am pleased to have found the EWG website and will be looking through it more carefully very soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell

I really love Rosie O'Donnell. I've liked her ever since she had her own talk show. I'm not one to watch TV much during the afternoon hours, but I'd catch it when I can. Then when she joined The View I actually started taping it (yes VHS, no TiVo here). I'd watch the episode from the day before as I got dressed each morning.

Rosie did a terrific job holding her own against Donald Trump. That whole thing was a huge fiasco. It started here with Rosie just being Rosie:

And this was the result:

Here was Rosie's response:

More from Donald:

and more:

and finally Barbara Walters chimed in:

Rosie stayed composed through the whole thing and Donald lost it. I have to throw this one in. It's off topic, but I saw it on SNL live when it showed, and it's hysterical, and Donald Trump deserves it:

Anyhow, back to the fact that I love her, and I was really sad to hear the announcement that she was not going to be returning to The View. She was a real asset and brought attention to the war when others would not. Also I felt that the format of having Elisabeth the Bush cult-member, and Rosie debating, was a great way to show the reality of what is happening out there compared to the crap GW is dishing out.

It was sad for me to watch her slowly lose her composure over the last few weeks. And I am very sad that she has left the show. I actually had the argument with Elisabeth on tape and was flabbergasted to watch it. Check it out for yourself.

I read Rosie's book Find Me. It's a fabulous book and made me fall in love with her even more. It's a terrific read whether you are a fan or not. The story she tells is definitely worth reading. And it let me in on why she was really leaving the show. As much as many of us love her and what and who she represents, she really is just a person hiding behind a mask.

Perhaps that's why I love her so much. She's me on national television: a fat woman with a big heart who grew up in New York and keeps sticking her foot in her mouth.

As I read the book I kept folding corners of pages over to return to. Who would've thought that Rosie O'Donnell would have quotes worth remembering?

Two of my favorites:

"There are things that happen in your own life that you'll never resolve; you just keep shaping and reshaping them like a sculptor."

"Fat is a protector; anyone can tell you that. I didn't like being 'thin'. I felt like people could come too close."

The book is full of them. It's so easy to see why people love her. And why so many keep in touch.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why Homeschool?


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why Homeschool?

The video and sound fall out of sync along the way, so just listen.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Four Agreements

I had been frustrated with some of the relationships in my life the last few weeks. So when I joined Paperback Swap I put The Four Agreements on my wish list. Somehow, even though there were two other people wishing for that book ahead of me, the book was sent to me, and from someone in the next town over, so it arrived in two days. It's amazing how when we really need something it shows up.

This book is like a bible to me. It's like therapy without having to spend years getting to the crux of the matter. I can't speak highly enough of it. I had borrowed it from a friend and read it once before, but owning it is great. I can fold over pages and go back and read my favorite passages over and over.

I'm going to list some of my favorite passages here. The ones that are helping me put myself back in order this time around.

"Being impeccable with your word is not using the word against yourself. If I see you in the street and I call you stupid, it appears that I'm using the word against you. but really I'm using my word against myself, because you're going to hate me for this, and your hating me is not good for me. Therefore, if I get angry and with my word send all that emotional poison to you, I'm using the word against myself."

"Your opinion is nothing but your point of view. It is not necessarily true."

"Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."

"Whatever you think, whatever you feel, I know it is your problem and not my problem. It is the way you see the world. It is nothing personal, because you are dealing with yourself, not with me. Others are going to have their own belief system, so nothing they think about me is really about me, but it is about them."

"If you get mad at me, I know you are dealing with yourself. I am the excuse for you to get mad."

"Humans are addicted to suffering at different levels and to different degrees, and we support each other in maintaining these addictions. Humans agree to help each other suffer. If you have the need to be abused you will find it easy to be abused by others. Likewise, if you are with people who need to suffer, something in you makes you abuse them. It is as if they have a note on their back that says 'Please kick me'. They are asking for justification for their suffering. Their addiction to suffering is nothing but an agreement that is reinforced every day."

"If others are not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you."

"If others feel they have to change you, that means they don't love you just the way you are. So why be with someone if you're not the way he or she wants you to be?"

"If you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself."

These passages speak to me on different levels. I can see myself as both the person thinking others cause her pain, and the person thinking she causes others'. It has been a huge weight off my shoulders to know I'm not responsible for what other people think, even in response to something I may have done. It's also making it a lot easier to "forgive" people for things, because I now know that what they did was not because of me.

I can only control how I look at things. And doing a good job of it makes life so much more heartening. I know that through all of my challenges in all of my relationships, I have truly tried my best. My best to be a good friend, my best to open up and let people in, and my best to use words to express myself as clearly as I'm capable of. So I therefore can't judge myself. And that's a huge load off my mind.

I have been living at peace for the last week or so and it feels really good. I hope to stay here for a long time. And hopefully it will be easier now that I own the book.

I have even made my other blog public again.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

5 Favorite Links

Brainy Quote
I love words. And quotes especially. This is my favorite quote page. They are arranged intelligently too. The only thing I don't like is that they have a preview that you have to click through to get to the entire quote, rather than showing all the quotes on one page, which if you have a decent internet connection, is much faster. Bu they are organized really well here.
When my computer is on, which it is pretty much all day, looking things up online is so much faster than dragging out my several pound, six inch thick Webster. This site gives meanings from several different dictionaries, which I really like.

Paperback Swap is a terrific way to get rid of books you don't want, while finding some that maybe you do. I was wary of it at first, because frankly I am looking to get rid of books and not necessarily looking to get new ones, but now that I've joined, I'm really enjoying it.

The idea is that you give away books, and pay for the shipping, while earning credits to get books from other people who pay for the shipping.

When you first sign up you need to list nine books, and for that you get three free credits. Once people start requesting your books, you get one credit for each one you send out. This has already worked for me just in the fact that I got a copy of The Four Agreements simply by signing up. I'm also looking forward to receiving a copy of one of Rosie O'Donnell's books (Find Me) any day now and just received a book called Intuitive Tarot: Discovering and Reinforcing the Power of Your Intuition : Using the Tarot As a Tool.

One thing to watch out for: books that are heavy and cost a lot to mail. I got caught spending more than I wanted to for the first book I had to mail. So I weigh all my books now before listing them, so I don't have to spend more than about $1.50 to mail any of them.

If you decide to join, please use the link above; I will get a free credit once you list your first nine books. Alternatively, you could just go to the site and list Love2BHomeschoolers as the person who referred you. Thanks!

I check my Netflix queue almost daily. We are currently participating in the program where we can have three movies out at a time, for $17.99 a month, and I can return them and get new ones as many times as I'd like within each month. Right now we have out:

1. Animal Face-Off: Lion vs. Tiger
"Ever wondered what would happen if two of the world's most feared animals went head to head in a battle? The Animal Face-Off series aims to find out. After expertly designed replicas of the animals are created to mirror exact areas of strength and weakness, the two cyber-creatures come together for a crucial showdown. In this episode, two of the jungle's fiercest predators - the lion and the tiger - duke it out to see who comes out on top."

2. Extreme Engineering: Subways in America
"Gothamites who travel on the subway beneath New York City every day have long taken the mass transit system for granted. But in this installment of the popular Discover Channel series, a closer examination reveals exactly how masterful the transportation grid truly is. Built in the late 19th century, the subterranean rail line was showing its age until the city embarked on a large-scale, intricate refurbishment project."

3. Unsolved History: Ninjas
"Modern-day ninja Stephen Hayes and a team of historians delve deep into the 16th century for a look at the storied Japanese assassins, who were as feared as they were misunderstood. Part of Discovery Channel's "Unsolved History" series, which takes a detailed forensic approach to some of history's most vexing mysteries via a painstaking examination of photographs, artifacts and interviews from experts and eyewitnesses."

As you can see, Netflix has a great assortment of documentaries, which is what we mostly use it for. Here's a list of some of what we've rented in the last few months:

  • Is Wal-Mart Good for America?: Frontline
  • Animal Face-Off: Saltwater Croc vs. Great White Shark
  • Thomas L. Friedman Reporting: The Other Side of Outsourcing
  • This Is America, Charlie Brown
  • Ghosts of Rwanda: Frontline
  • Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
  • Raising Cain
  • Alaska's Inside Passage
  • Extreme Engineering: Container Ships
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective
  • Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terrorism
  • Thomas L. Friedman Reporting: Does Europe Hate Us?
  • 100 Greatest Discoveries: Disc 1
  • Secrets of Lost Empires 2: Medieval Siege
  • Modern Marvels: Aquariums: Windows on a Watery World
  • History of the Chopper
  • Modern Marvels: The Great Wall of China
  • Robosapiens
  • P.T. Barnum
  • Alexander Graham Bell: Voice of Invention
  • The Viking Deception: Nova
  • Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World
  • Modern Marvels: Monster Trucks
  • Nature: Sharks
  • Extreme Engineering: Boston's Big Dig
  • Benjamin Franklin
My boys are always (well, almost always) willing to sit and watch something they would otherwise not sit still to read about, so I can slip some good "learning" in there without their knowing about it. I myself enjoy watching along with them, and sometimes get things just for myself (i.e. Thomas L. Friedman Reporting: The Other Side of Outsourcing). Yes, I could go around to libraries all over the state to find some of this stuff, but it's so much easier having it arrive in my mailbox.

They also have cheaper plans available:
2 at-a-time (Unlimited) for $14.99
1 at-a-time (Unlimited) for $9.99
1 at-a-time (limited to 2 a month) for $4.99

And more expensive ones where you can have more dvd's out too.
Okay this is my business and I'm making some changes. I've decided to switch to Cafe Press. My store is still under construction, but I hope to have it done soon. The link above for my own store will be good for a while longer, but when the contract for my server space expires in September, I'm not going to renew.

I really enjoyed creating my website. However, I created the whole thing in FrontPage using frames, and later learned that frames can't be read by Google correctly. So paying for an ad for "Human Milk for Human Babies" on Google would bring you to my home page, rather than my page on Human Milk. Or if it did manage to bring you to the right page, this is what you'd see (no navigation bars). So spending money on advertising was pointless, since people didn't want to click on "Human Milk for Human Babies" in Google Ads and then have to click through my whole website to find that page. Argh.

Creating that website took me hours and hours. Hours that I have had trouble finding to do the whole thing over again. So there the site sits with no advertising, and no business. Wasting my money to keep it posted. Argh.

So I've decided to go ahead and try out a Cafe Press store. It was a very difficult decision to make, because I feel their prices are high (truly they are charging me retail prices to add money onto to charge my customer even more) and so my mark-up will be considerably less. My demographic is stay-at-home moms with most times limited income, so I don't want to charge too much. My personal store was cheaper than the Cafe Press store will be. And my markup will be so low I will probably have to struggle just to break even.

On the upside, I can advertise it the same way I would my own site, so hopefully once I get it all up I can concentrate on marketing. Also it will be really nice to be able to get rid of the dedicated printer (with archival inks) and heat press I have to keep around in case I make a sale. Not to mention the boxes and boxes of inventory I have of shirts to print when somebody orders one. These things take up space which I could definitely use more effectively. And finally, I will be able to sell bumper stickers, which I have not been able to do from home. (I couldn't find a vinyl which could go through my printer.)

So although it really was a difficult decision, I am decided. After I get all my artwork formatted for Cafe Press, get it uploaded, choose items for my new store, and arrange everything on the new site in a cohesive manner, I'm going to print up and adhere designs on all of my inventory and try to sell it all on ebay. Or maybe I can consign some of it. Or donate it. Or whatever. Then I'll sell the printer and heat press too. I will reclaim a 4' x 6' area of my basement. Woo hoo!

Please take a look at my new store, and feel free to send me your thoughts. I will certainly update you all here when it is done.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

10 Favorite Quotes...on friendship

Sometimes we put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.

A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.
...............Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
...............George Eliot

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.
...............Henry Ford

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.
...............Alice Walker

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
...............Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
...............Mother Teresa

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.

True friends stab you in the front.
...............Oscar Wilde

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.
...............William Blake

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oh man...

Check this out.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Where the hell is Matt?

If you haven't seen this yet, you really need to check it out. It makes my heart sing every time I watch it, which I do pretty often.

Excerpts from his website:

Matt is a 30-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. He achieved this goal pretty early and enjoyed it for a while, but eventually realized there might be other stuff he was missing out on. In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he'd saved to wander around the planet until it ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is.

A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt the idea of dancing everywhere he went and recording it on his camera. This turned out to be a very good idea. Now Matt is quasi-famous as "That guy who dances on the internet."

Matt was a very poor student and never went to college. When he got older, he was pleased to discover that no one actually cares. Matt doesn't want to imply that college is bad or anything. He's just saying is all. There's other ways to fill your head.
Matt also has a blog about all his travels. Go to his site and read it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

10 Favorite Quotes...on learning

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly I can!". Then get busy and find out how to do it.
...............Theodore Roosevelt

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
...............Pablo Picasso

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
...............Chinese Proverb

If you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
...............Henry Ford

Life is my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors!
...............Louisa May Alcott

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
...............Albert Einstein

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.

Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
...............Oscar Wilde

If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him.
...............John Holt

The New 7 Wonders of the World

Loss of electricity prevented me from posting last night. I threw out a bunch of uncooked chicken from the fridge, but otherwise we are okay.

Vote for what you think the new 7 Wonders of the World should be. You're running out of time...

The commonly known Seven Ancient Wonders of the World were all man-made monuments, selected by Philon of Byzantium in 200 B.C. His selection of wonders was essentially a travel guide for fellow Athenians, and the stunning sites were all located around the Mediterranean basin, the then-known world.

The monuments he chose, to be remembered in perpetuity, were:

The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Temple of Artemis
The Statue of Zeus
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
The Pyramids of Egypt

All were built between 2,500 B.C. and 200 B.C. Today, only the spectacular Pyramids at Giza in Egypt remain. Now, just as Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympic Games in 1896 with his modern version of the competition, New7Wonders founder Bernard Weber is seeking to revive the concept of the 7 Wonders with this ambitious global campaign: the New 7 Wonders of the World. The key difference is that, this time around, they will not be chosen by one man, but rather by millions of people all over the world.

The new wonders that are selected will be the people’s choices and they will be drawn from the earliest time that humans walked upon the earth up through the year 2000.

It is, therefore, possible that the only survivor of the original 7 Wonders of the World, the Pyramids at Giza, could be chosen for a second time, taking them well into a third millennium of global fame!

The New 7 Wonders campaign was launched in 2000 by Swiss film producer, author and aviator Bernard Weber to select the seven new Wonders of the World via the first global voting campaign. Half the profits from the campaign will be donated to global good causes in monument and building restoration and preservation.
Visit for more information.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why Homeschool?

Perhaps because we can't trust the idiots who would be in charge of our children?

Sun May 13, 5:28 PM ET

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables...parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged...

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."
I keep reading more and more of these ridiculous stories. Here's another one:
Sunday, May 13, 2007

CHICAGO — A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class.

The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her 8th grade class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year.
No matter what your beliefs are about homosexuality, showing any R rated movie to an elementary class is asking for trouble!

It's downright scary that parents are expected to leave their children in the hands of morons like these. I feel so fortunate that I don't have to.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Homeschooling Calendar

I started this tradition with my younger son about five years ago when he was five years old. At the time I was a newly confirmed homeschooler, and still considering unschooling, so I was constantly looking for fun and non-coercive ways for him to practice writing. Plus every morning he would wake up and ask me "what are we doing today?" So I combined the two and came up with a calendar for him to make for himself. He loved it so much that he continued for two years before he decided he didn't need it anymore. But about two years ago I started again with my younger son, who had then turned five years old and began asking "what are we doing today?"

We start with a large blotter calendar, you know the kind that typically go on the top of people's desks? I get our at Staples, because they are the only ones I have been able to find without the information already in there, and no lines running across the whole thing for notes (which we find very distracting, since we don't use words to fill in our activities).

I use a pencil to write in the name of the month, and the numbers, and then my son traces over that information with a marker. Then we head downstairs to the computer and find clip art to represent each thing we are doing that month. So we have garbage cans for Tuesdays to remind us to take the trash out, birthday cakes for parties, soccer balls (with shooting flames, no less) for soccer practice and games, a small stack of books for library day, and so on. I am blessed to have a color printer to print these things out on.

My son and I practice using scissors by cutting out the clip art, and then together we glue them onto the calendar where each thing belongs. Every day now, he can check the calendar for what we are doing, and he no longer needs to paste Daddy on every Saturday and Sunday, because he knows the days he stays home without needing a reminder.

This has been a terrific way for both of my boys to learn the days of the week (still working on months though), and given them good practice in writing and cutting. It also gives them a sense of security in knowing how their day looks without having to ask.

This has remained a non-coercive activity since we began. In fact, we finally just finished the month of May today, which is what prompted me to blog about it. For the last 13 days the pieces have been laying on the kitchen floor underneath where the calendar hangs. It just occurred to my younger son though, that he wants to start counting down the days to his birthday party (11).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Scholastic Books

I can remember I was the only student in my class at St. Luke's school, from 2nd through 6th grade, who ordered every single time my teacher handed out those Scholastic flyers to the class. Not only did I order every time, but I often came home with a dozen books at a time. Up until my parents got divorced, my mother would let me order as many of those books as I wanted, as long as I promised to read them all.

Well imagine my delight when I found out that homeschoolers can order from Scholastic too. Just go to their website and order a catalog for the grades you'd like, then place an order once you receive it. It's that simple.

Many homeschool groups collect orders and place them as a group. I can't understand why the individuals don't place orders themselves though. Perhaps their group collector neglected to tell them they can, because they themselves want to collect all the points for each order? One point is awarded for each dollar spent, and traded for free merchandise in the flyers. Often there are specials where purchasers can earn 3x (for example) their bonus points by purchasing a certain amount.

So I can see why the group collector would benefit from a group order, but there is no benefit to the individual at all. There is no minimum order, no tax, and no shipping. So you can order one book for 95¢, have it shipped right to your door, and get one point for yourself to use later. Actually, the only negative thing about individual orders is that the catalog only comes in sets of 50 flyers. It's a one inch thick thing which is pretty wasteful since I only need one flyer. On the other hand it is recyclable where I live.

I also like that I can save up a few months worth of flyers and order all at once online (instead of by mail), which can only be done without a fee if $20 is spent at one time. This way I get my books, my Scholastic points, and my Disney Visa points!

I've ordered many things from Scholastic over the last several years. In addition to the obvious books, we've also ordered computer games, models of body parts like an eye and a heart, games like pizza pie fractions and car math, and activities like a book of calculator games with a calculator. Many a stocking-stuffer came from Scholastic.

One of the other fantastic things about Scholastic is their warehouse sales, which they have a few times a year. They literally open up the warehouse and clear out the stuff. Everything is typically 50% off listed price.

I went to one in Danbury today, and spent $200. I came home with enough Klutz kits to give for birthday party presents for probably two years. I also got several new Christmas books, since I'm getting sick of our old ones, several computer games, two hard cover copies of two books by the authors of The Quiltmaker's Gift, (one of each to keep and one of each for gifts), grammar and algebra books to tuck away for whenever someone asks about those things, board books to give to my nephew for his first birthday, and a really cool book called Scholastic Encyclopedia Of The Presidents And Their Times, which will be great to refer to with my boys, but I really bought for myself to sit down and read. All this plus a several books for both of my boys.

The last time I went to a Scholastic warehouse sale was three years ago when I spent $300. So I'm figuring the $200 worth of stuff I bought today ought to keep me settled for two years. It's hard not to over shop there, but for once I think I did a good job of sticking to gifts, and reference books and computer games which will be good to keep around. I went very very lightly on the fiction since that stuff is easily borrowed from the library.

I was grateful for the table they keep near the registers, where I could go through my grocery cart, weed out the stuff I really didn't need, and simply dump it all off there without feeling badly about making a mess.

The sale in Connecticut has just started, and goes till next Saturday. You can print out a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase.

If you haven't already checked out all Scholastic has to offer, I hope I've convinced you to give it a try!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The making of a conscientious objector

I originally posted this on my other blog back in January, but want to re-post it for my new readers here. After reading it last time my mother chuckled, telling me that she didn't think I was really giving R (10 years old) a balanced view of both sides; that it is obvious mine is being represented more heavily.

So be it; my view is the right one.


January 2007

This morning R came into my room as I was watching This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and started watching with me. There were no images of war, so I allowed him to stay and listen. He watched for a few minutes, left, and returned during The Chris Matthews Show, which seemed to keep his attention more.

This led to a 10 minute conversation about sending more troops to Iraq, how Bush hoodwinked the country into the war in the first place, how the Patriot Act is turning him into a dictator, whether Iraq would be better off with us forcing our view of a good government on them vs. leaving now and letting them fall into civil war, how we can get Bush out of office, and whether or not U.S. citizens can be dragged into fighting in the war if they don't want to go. He was full of intelligent questions; I was, quite frankly, surprised.

I have been wanting to start taking him to rallies, and talking to him about the realities of war, so that I can start making a Conscientious Objector file for him. I think it's really important that I start doing that soon, but I've been concerned about exposing him to the stress of war. I know for myself that keeping up on it often makes me feel powerless, and I've been concerned about how it would effect his psyche. So I've been dragging my feet on it. But today convinced me it's time to get moving. I'm going to pick up some of the age appropriate books out there about war to read with him, and maybe I'll check out what Netflix has to offer on the subject too. I'll definitely be starting to document conversations like the one we had today.

R feels that we should definitely not be sending more troops to Iraq. Especially more men than those that live in the whole town of Cheshire. He also feels that we should totally withdraw from Iraq and let the people fall into a civil war. He believes that we should not be dictating to anyone how they should run their country, and we should let the Iraqis fight for the government they want to have, themselves. He thinks that we should get rid of the Patriot Act, and that George Bush is dangerous, and we should try to get rid of him too.

I am very proud of R for seeing things the way he does. When I was answering all of his questions, I was careful to give both points of view (McCain was being interviewed on TV at the time we were speaking) to make sure he would formulate his own opinions, and not just accept mine as his own. He is a bright boy and understands how wrong war is. If anyone would actually show the realities of the war on TV, I'd probably let him watch. He is getting old enough to understand the world beyond his up-till-now small one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More on unschooling

This is something I wrote on my other blog today:

Playgroup was especially fun today because three new families joined us...

Funny, two of the moms already knew me from the photo on my blogs...Apparently there was a big discussion about my blog regarding Radical Unschooling vs. Self-Directed Learning [on one of the unschooling lists]. It seems that I don't even have to be on the lists to have my "wrong" way of doing things criticized - lol! Anyway a few of us had our own interesting discussion regarding the topic, and I can add more people to the list of those who are afraid to post their real feelings on the lists. They suggested I started my own for those of us who are not comfortable with the extremism.

I considered doing this quite a bit. I even went ahead and created it earlier today. It was called Not Radical Unschoolers. But moderating a list is not something I have the time to do, so I then deleted it. I do think there is real a need for it though. Unfortunately this sort of list is going to need a moderator who is paying close attention, and I can't be the one to do that right now. I'll join though if someone else creates it :-)

By the way, I'm moderating comments now. Not interested in providing soap boxes for anyone except myself :-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Magazine Subscriptions

At one time I had about eight different magazines coming to my house each month, in addition to my weekly Newsweek. I had a few which I personally subscribed to, and a few which were gifts. Well to say it got overwhelming is an understatement. So when they all expired I did not renew any of them, and I've been subscription-free for about eight months now.

The problem is that I really do miss some of them. I find that I am attracted to non-fiction writing, and magazines are a good way to learn about a lot of things. So I've been borrowing magazines from the library the last few times we've gone. This way I don't have the stress of a whole pile to get through, and have to "get rid of them" on due date whether I've read them or not, which is kind of liberating.

I thought I'd take some time to blog about a few of my favorites.

Life Learning Magazine
is definitely high on my list. From their website:

Let Life Learning help you discover how to employ self-directed, life-based learning in your own life and/or that of your child.

Read all about how other people just like you and your children have learned without being taught...what helps and what hinders, and what they have achieved in their lives as a result. Laugh, cry and identify with parents who are helping themselves and their children learn from the real world...and learning a lot about themselves along the way.

Think about how we are limited by a society that believes in coercive education...and how we can transcend those limits in our daily lives. Find support and reassurance for interest-based, learner-directed education and non-coercive parenting.

I'm bummed that my local library does not carry this magazine, and am thinking of donating one to them. All of the homeschooling magazines they offer are Christian based, which is pretty annoying.

One of the cool things about this magazine is that the radical vs. self-directed debate happens within its pages. The editors are radicals but the letters to the editors are filled with people who question it. It makes for interesting reading, and has certainly helped me define myself as an unschooler.

is another one of my favorites, and another one that my library doesn't carry. From the Ode website:

Ode is an independent magazine about the people and ideas that are changing the world.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see beyond the war, poverty, exploitation and pollution that the mainstream media use to fill our view of the world. But there is more to life. There are other stories to report. Stories of countless initiatives being launched around the globe by people devoted to justice, respect and equality. Stories that bridge the gap between thinking and doing, between rage and hope, and the painful gap between the rich and poor – and thus build peace and sustainability. That is the news that Ode promises to deliver. By reading Ode you connect to a network of positive change and inspiration. Ode points the way to knowing better, doing better and feeling better.

Ode publishes ‘the stories that are different from the ones we are brainwashed to believe’ (Arundhati Roy). Ode challenges us and invites us to change. We realise that change starts with information. We can only make a choice to change things for the better when we learn how it can be done. Similarly, we can only change our behaviour when we understand the harmful effects of what we do. Ode teaches and inspires us, helps us see how every one of us can contribute to a more just and sustainable world.

It was really nice to read about some of the good stuff happening in the world, and when I have more time in my life I will definitely get back to that one.

Simple Scrapbooks
was one I enjoyed quite a bit. I got into scrapbooking when I bought an empty scrapbook at Disney World in 2004, and caught the bug big-time. I wanted a magazine which would help me learn about techniques and tips, but everything out there really focused on the embellishments. I commented about this to a scrapbook store owner while visiting my mom in Maine, and she suggested Simple Scrapbooks, because the focus was on the pictures.

I can't find any sort of "About Us" info on their site to paste here, but they do tend to write things with the beginner in mind.

The problem was that they too, finally succombed to the one-picture-on-a-page mentality, and lost the philosphy of scrapping every day moments. They do tend to use less embellishments than other magazines, but still the focus has become the "art" rather than preserving mountains of memories.

Mothering Magazine
which is the bi-monthly bible of attachment parenting. They are the folks who gave me the courage to not vaccinate my kids. From their website:

Mothering celebrates the experience of parenthood as worthy of one's best efforts and fosters awareness of the immense importance and value of parenthood and family life in the development of the full human potential. As a readers' magazine, we recognize parents as the experts and wish to provide truly helpful information upon which parents can base informed choices.

Mothering is like no other publication. We are an original. Born in 1976 out of the need for the natural family community to learn about raising healthy children, Mothering was the birthplace of the natural family lifestyle.

Read in more than 65 countries, Mothering is the only independently owned, family living magazine in the world. We address contemporary health, personal, environmental, medical, and lifestyle issues in an upbeat, intelligent, compassionate, and courageous way.

Each issue contains philosophical inspiration and practical advice about family living. Topics are as diverse as circumcision, vaccinations, organic foods, childhood illnesses, home birth, ear infections, parenting teens, web site information, midwifery, and homeopathy.

Mothering is a family. We have an independent editorial spirit unmatched in the industry and a readership that is unmatched in responsiveness. Readers who read Mothering share many of the same values. Nowhere else will you find such proactive, passionate, and highly educated readers. In the pages of Mothering you will find an environment of credibility, trust, and authority.

Not much more can be said about this one. I picked up two past issues from the library today, and will blog about a story I read regarding kids playing with guns, soon.

Monday, May 7, 2007


A while ago I took a casual survey of some of my friends and asked them what makes a friend a "good" friend. The best answer I got was "loyalty". After hearing the rest, mulling it over, and digesting some recent experiences, I have to agree; loyalty is the best thing you can have in a friend.

Well tonight I had dinner with my most loyal friend.

Over a giant margarita.

It was great.

Friday, May 4, 2007

10 Favorite Quotes...on religion

The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.
...............George Washington

Question with boldness even the existance of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
...............Thomas Jefferson

The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.
...............Benjamin Franklin

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
...............Albert Einstein

So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would neither be created nor destroyed it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?
...............Stephen Hawking

Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.
...............Sigmund Freud

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
...............Mahatma Gandhi

The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.
...............Karl Marx

Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.
...............Napoleon Bonaparte

God made me an atheist. Who are you to question his wisdom?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

56th National Day of Prayer

I learned about the National Day of Prayer through a little blurb in my local newspaper last week. My town actually had an "event", which took place "at noon in the Council Chambers at Cheshire Town Hall. The theme this year is 'America Unite in Prayer".

Well to say I was surprised to read this is putting it mildly. So I did a Google search, since it was labeled as "national", and found an entire website dedicated to it. A scan of the "About Us" page had some interesting information:

Who We Are

We are the Judeo-Christian expression of the National Day of Prayer which was established in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

What We Do

The National Day of Prayer Task Force exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership.

"To intercede for America and its leadership?" The word intercede surprised me in this usage, so to be sure I was understanding it correctly I looked it up:


1. to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition.
2. to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate.

Yeah, I am understanding it correctly, and not liking it at all.

What is it about this country's inability to follow it's own rules about the separation of church and state? I watched a movie called Does Europe Hate Us? and one of the things they do laugh at us about is our inability to do just that. It is becoming incredibly annoying to me.

But I wonder, would it be as annoying to me if I myself believed in God?

A couple of years ago, Newsweek had a terrific article on its My Turn page. I looked all over and tried to find a link to post here, but with no luck. The article was about how people can't deal with atheism. Every religion dictates a tolerance for other religions, but most people I have spoken to can't deal with no religion.

Years ago I was part of a playgroup where one of the moms was a Mormon. She was a lovely woman who I enjoyed spending time with, and was actually the person who introduced me to the idea of homeschooling. Although supercilious statements like "Catholics believe...Mormons know..." popped up too much to be missed, she was otherwise very accepting of the other women in the group of different religions, but she was on a constant quest to help me define mine. She just could not deal with the fact that I did not identify with some religious group, and even found a website where I could take a test to help. Since I refused to take it, she actually took it for me, and stopped harassing me once she could label me as being most closely aligned with Buddhism. (I have recently taken it myself and find that I am evenly matched between Buddhism and Paganism.)

An article on the Newsweek website states:
In a recent [2006] NEWSWEEK Poll, Americans said they believed in God by a margin of 92 to 6—only 2 percent answered "don't know"—and only 37 percent said they'd be willing to vote for an atheist for president.

Of course this is exactly why so many people have such issues of acceptance when it come to people who do not believe in God; comparatively speaking there are so few of us. But to actually not vote for someone because of a lack of religion?

Perhaps it is this intolerance which makes me increasingly intolerant of the state of affairs in our government. Yes, I believe that "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. Yes, I believe that "In God We Trust" should be removed from our money. I believe that placing one's hand on the bible to swear in a court of law is ridiculous, and I believe that moments of silence in schools should be banned. Because all of this assumes a belief in God.

Freedom of religion means all religions. And it should also mean no religion.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Raw Milk

Monday night I saw a story on World News Tonight about Raw Milk. You can see it for yourself here. Raw milk is unpasteurized, unhomogenized, and "illegal to sell in 23 states". Well here in Connecticut, it is legal - thank goodness. And my family is among the "devotees".

I first learned about raw milk from a friend, who had read the book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.

This friend is one who is great at influencing people, so I eventually read it myself. I'm glad I did because it totally changed my life, and those of my family.

The book is based on the findings of Weston A. Price. "In his search for the causes of dental decay and physical degeneration that he observed in his dental practice, he turned from test tubes and microscopes to unstudied evidence among human beings. Dr. Price sought the factors responsible for fine teeth among the people who had them- the isolated 'primitives'...Wherever he went, Dr. Price found that beautiful straight teeth, freedom from decay, stalwart bodies, resistance to disease and fine characters were typical of primitives on their traditional diets, rich in essential food factors."

My grandmother was 94 years old when she died. She came to the U.S. from Hungary, and ate a very high fat diet throughout her life, including cooking in bacon fat and lard and using lots of butter. So when I read the book's recommendations for eating lots of healthy fats, the information felt right.

My friend became a full-time crusader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, and started a chapter here in Connecticut. One of the things she did in helping to convince people that this philosophy makes sense, is to invite people to her home to watch a PowerPoint presentation about it. During that presentation, which I later had my husband attend so he would understand where I was coming from, there was significant discussion on raw milk. Basically what was done was to show what is done to milk during the pasteurization and homogenization process. And it was enough to convince me that it is totally unnatural. Here is a great article on Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized Milk.

Now that I've been convinced of the benefits of raw milk there is no going back. I am actually spending $8 a gallon, and I do not permit my children to drink "regular" milk when raw is not available. Just the idea of it grosses me out.

Check out the link and watch the story. And then read the truth.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Carnival of Homeschooling #70

Carnival of Homeschooling #70: the Yes, No, Yes! edition has been published at Dewey's Treehouse.

What is a blog carnival?

"A Blog Carnival is a particular kind of blog community. A Blog Carnival is like a magazine. It has a title, a topic, editors, contributors, and an audience. Editions of the carnival typically come out on a regular basis (e.g. every Monday, or on the first of the month). Each edition is a special blog article that consists of links to all the contributions that have been submitted, often with the editors opinions or remarks.

"There is so much stuff in the blog-o-sphere, just finding interesting stuff is hard. If there is a carnival for a topic you are interested in, following that carnival is a great way to learn what bloggers are saying about that topic. If you are blogging on that topic, the carnival is the place to share your work with like-minded bloggers."

This is the first time I have submitted something to this carnival.
Please check it out.

Here is more information on blog carnivals.
Here is information on how to make a submission of your own.

Monday, April 30, 2007

"1/3 of all homes has a gun in it"

This according to Sam Donaldson during on an appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos the week before last.

Well I must say that I found that statement more than a little disconcerting. I am going to have to be more aware of checking in with parents in homes where my children are visiting. People used to roll their eyes at me when I asked them if they owned a gun, but that was fine. It's been a while since I've had to ask anyone, but as our circle of friends expands and we are visiting new homes, I need to start being aware again.

I think I need to have a conversation with my kids about the topic too. It's been a while since my ten year-old and I talked about it, and I've never talked about it with my six year-old at all.

I don't have a problem with people owning guns, as long as they are tucked away someplace where children can't get them. However I do have a problem with people being able to legally get automatic weapons. Rosie O'Donnell, who I am a big fan of, spoke about her efforts regarding gun control on The View after the Virginia Tech shooting. She insists that fighting the NRA is impossible because of the powerful lobbyists they can afford. I have to agree.

One look at the NRA website is actually pretty scary. Sorry, not providing that link.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sharing Breastfeeding

On the Today show on Friday was an interesting story about wet nurses. They definitely covered the ew factor, but also had a woman on who had wet-nursed 40 babies. She spoke about how milk banks pasteurize their milk, so many of the live antibodies which breast milk is so renowned for, are killed by the process. They also had a La La Leche League Leader there who clearly stated that LLL does not approve of the practice.

Well I'm glad I'm not an LLL Leader anymore, because that means I get to share my own opinion!

I know someone who hurt herself shortly after giving birth, and had trouble breastfeeding. She was thrilled to have a sister who was able to do it for her, until she had recovered enough to hold her baby without fear of dropping her.

I also had the privilege of experiencing this myself. I was babysitting for my friend's toddler, who took about one minute to nurse herself to sleep, after I offered. I was so happy to be able to respond to her need in a way that was so natural to me.

While watching Today, my older son (ten years old) came into the room and started watching with me. He feels it's a bad idea because then the baby will start bonding with the wrong person.

I agree that a breastfed baby bonds with the person the breasts are attached to. But on the other hand, we all know of children who are more attached to their day care providers than their own parents. Many people shrug that off as being a necessary evil. So why isn't a baby's first food seen the same way?

Personally, if I were not able to breastfeed, and money wasn't an issue, I would probably try to find someone to pay to pump for me and give me the fresh milk to bottle feed. I appreciate the value of breast milk, but would also be terrified of my children bonding with someone else more than me.

That's why I'm a stay-at-home mom.

And that's another reason why we homeschool.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


"Teaching kids to respect their elders or everyone on the planet automatically, is what leads to molestation and other abuses. Kids need to trust their own instincts."

This was left in my comments the other day, and I think it's important enough to blog about by itself, since it's something I've given much thought to. The writer was indicating her discomfort with my statement that "I certainly expect [my children] to respect not only their elders, but all other people, simply by virtue of the fact that we all share the same planet."

It's funny, because I really did pause over that sentence before deciding to leave it as is; I wanted to make sure that I really do mean it. And I do stand by it now. The difference is one of semantics; my reader's definition of the word is different than the one I usually assign it. I looked up the word on and think she may have understood my meaning to be "To feel or show deferential regard for" whereas when it comes to this usage, I intended it to mean "courteous regard for people's feelings". So when I expect my children to have respect for everyone, that doesn't mean I expect them to always show deference.

I agree that expecting children to ignore their own instincts by demanding they show deference to everyone would be a monumental mistake. My reader is absolutely correct in her statement that this "is what leads to molestation and other abuses." Having grown up in New York City, I am very proud of my instincts about people, and in my hopes of making sure my own children's instincts are not corrupted, I devoured the book Protecting the Gift by Gavin De Becker:

Mr. De Becker has appeared on numerous TV shows, and does an amazing job of helping parents trust their children's instincts.

So when the word respect is defined as "courteous regard for people's feelings", yes, I expect my children to show respect for all people, same as I do. Even to "the lady that grills my child about what he/she knows". A blunt response might be where I end up, but hopefully never where I start.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

10 Favorite Quotes...on school

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.
...............Albert Einstein

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.
...............Beatrix Potter

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.
...............Anne Sullivan

I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.
...............Agatha Christie

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
...............Mark Twain

Common sense is in spite of, not as the result of education.
...............Victor Hugo

All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.
...............Sir Walter Scott

Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mundane educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom, go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts.
...............Frank Zappa

I know my enemies, they're the teachers who taught me to fight me.
...............Rage Against the Machine

It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.
...............Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany

Radical Unschooling vs. Self-Directed Learning

Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.
...............John Holt

From the beginning I have referred to my family as unschoolers, since we don't sit around the kitchen table and "do school". We do have workbooks in the house, but only use them when one of my kids asks to. Okay, I do occasionally suggest we do some pages, but if they don't want to, we don't. Our days are filled with reading, playing, watching TV or DVDs rented from Netflix, playing board games and computer games, doing puzzles and crafts, playing, talking, doing household tasks (yes my ten year-old does his own laundry), playing, and mostly being out in the world. We love museums, libraries, letterboxing, shopping, and playing with friends. We don't even mind having to do errands since we are together.

I remember first hearing about unschooling when my older son was about five, and being appalled to hear that the child of someone I knew, was ten years old and could not yet read. So I appreciate that a lot of people do not understand the concept of unschooling, or are uncomfortable by it. It really takes a giant leap of faith to live this lifestyle.

I've always been proud to call us unschoolers though, since it does require an awful lot of trust in my children to be one. But these days I'm finding myself hesitant to use the term, since I've been on a few unschooling email lists and have been increasingly uncomfortable by how some other unschoolers define us. And the fact that the term "radical unschoolers" even exists indicates that there are others out there who feel the same way I do.

So what do radical unschoolers do that makes me hesitate to call myself one?

Kids who are radical unschoolers watch whatever they want, and as much as they want on TV, all the time. They spend as much time as they want on the computer. They eat whatever they want all the time. They are not required to contribute to the running of the household unless they want to. They don't even have to pick up their toys off the livingroom floor unless they feel like it. They can go to bed whenever they want. And from what I read, they also have the right to refuse when their grandmother, who needs a walker to get around, asks them to get her something from another room.

I'm sure there is a lot more, but the emails dictating that those who don't do these things can't call themselves unschoolers had me leaving the lists before I could learn what they might be.

Now I am an attachment parent, so trusting my children, from the time of breastfeeding, is something I've gotten pretty good at. However I am also clinically obese, along with dozens of family members. So when my younger son tells me that the reason he is so upset that his brother was invited to a birthday party that he was not, is that he is going to miss the cake, I hesitate to trust him to eat what his body needs.

I expect my children to eat the nutritious foods I provide for them. I expect them to stop watching TV and playing computer games when they start to ignore other things that they have previously enjoyed doing. I expect them to do their share of the household chores, since I'm not a slave. I expect them to go to bed at an hour which will assure they get enough rest. And I certainly expect them to respect not only their elders, but all other people, simply by virtue of the fact that we all share the same planet.

And for all this, I "have no right" to call myself an unschooler. Well, if that's what being an unschooler means, then I don't want to! So these days I call us "self-directed learners", hoping that it conveys what we are about without the negative connotation that radical unschoolers have given the word "unschoolers", to pretty much everyone who is not one. I have to admit that I also avoid associating with radicals since these kids, in my experience, do not have the respect for others that I expect from my children. And one of the good things about homeschooling is that I can (somewhat) control the time frame in which my kids are exposed to different things.

Like I said before "I appreciate that a lot of people do not understand the concept of unschooling, or are uncomfortable by it. It really takes a giant leap of faith to live this lifestyle." But when it comes to radical unschooling, that's one leap I'm not willing to take.

For more information on unschooling, check out John Holt's book:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Freedom of religion means all religions

Today this article made it's way into my mailbox.

"The Wiccan pentacle has been added to the list of emblems allowed in national cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen soldiers...This settlement has forced the Bush Administration into acknowledging that there are no second class religions in America..Wicca is a nature-based religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons. Variations of the pentacle not accepted by Wiccans have been used in horror movies as a sign of the devil...."

It made me very happy to read this, as many of my friends are Wiccan and Pagan, and it's always been frustrating for them to be viewed as devil worshipers. Even members of my own extended family have raised their eyebrows when I've taken out my tarot cards to do a reading for someone, and that is not even connected to any religion! They just assumed that tarot cards = paganism = the devil.

I have read several books on Wicca, and it is a religion same as any other. Wiccans honor a deity and try to be good people. The main difference that I have found is that they actively try to be good people; they don't just talk about it. They believe in karma, and even more, that what we put out there returns to us threefold. And I have found this to be a better incentive than any threat of hell or chance of heaven. Just be a good person, because if you put good energy out there, it will come back to you. If you act like an idiot, you surround yourself with negative energy and that is what you attract. Simple.

The reason I am not myself Wiccan, is because I don't believe in a deity, and I have a problem with dogma. And what I have read leads me to believe that, like every other religion, Wicca has dogma. (Twelve years of Catholic school turned me way off to dogma.)

It's unfortunate that people have not taken the time to learn more about this religion. There are terrific books on the subject, one even being written specifically for "outsiders" (family and friends of those who practice) to begin to understand it:

There are way more Wiccans and Pagans out there than you probably think. I only wish it were included in books for children. For example, this book, which we own:

covers Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and Islam. It's a good book; it covers a lot (although Christianity and Judaism get lots more pages than the others). But notice anything missing? Where's the Wicca? Where's the Paganism? Honestly, here in the US you are far more likely to meet a Pagan than a Zoroastrians, I would think. It just annoys me that they are overlooked. (You know what else is annoying? Every single one of these religions is showing up in blogger's spellcheck EXCEPT FOR WICCA!)

I think it is because so many Christians feel threatened by it. So many Christian holidays have intertwined themselves with pagan holidays, that Christians, whose numbers are far greater than most other religions in this country, are afraid that they will debase their own religion by acknowledging these others.

It is so unfortunate, because if people could just put aside their fears, and learn about the real deal, they might be pleasantly surprised.

More on my own religion another time (like perhaps on "National Prayer Day").