Monday, October 20, 2014

Are You One of the Good Homeschoolers?

The other day I was talking to a woman I vaguely know and have vaguely known for years.  ;)
When I mentioned that we homeschool she held her hands apart saying, indicating her left hand, Are you one of the good homeschoolers or, indicating her right hand, one of the bad homeschoolers?

When I asked her to clarify what she meant by good and bad she had a difficult time doing so, but from her blustering I think she was referring to radical unschooling (the bad kind of homeschooling, in her mind) versus school-at-home (the good one).

I placed a hand on each of hers and brought them together saying We are somewhere in the middle, as are most homeschool families.

She had more questions but kept repeating, But I'm sure you are one of the good ones.

John making a magic wand on the new lathe! 
LOL - I'm pretty sure she wouldn't think so if she saw our homeschool day because we don't do anything at all that resembles school-at-home.

I'm not at all sure what I actually told her about homeschooling, but by the time our conversation ended she was a homeschool supporter... for some people

Well, that's something, anyway.

To be fair, she had many stories about the successes that her children had in school, some things that just don't happen in homeschool communities without alot of organization like marching band, state soccer wins, and student government. She is very proud of the accomplishments that her children have had in school and I understand that!

I'm used to people having uninformed ideas about homeschool and it really doesn't generally bother me. The fun thing about this conversation was that other people joined in who know my kids and contributed so many nice comments about my kids as people and about our family experiences to the conversation. But it was still kind of weird that her understanding of homeschool was so black and white.

Because we are somewhere there in the grey.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Streets of Philadelphia

The history nerds will know that John and I had a fabulous time in Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love and City of Benjamin Franklin Love.  We spent five days touring, eating out, swimming at the hotel pool, and generally grooving in the vibe of Americana.

Ever since I was John's age I have wanted to travel to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Maybe my eighth grade teacher inspired me, though I don't really think of Mr. Zorko as very inspiring... But it was definitely during one of his classes when it hit me that I wanted to visit the site where so many inspiring things happened.

Betsy Ross, The Declaration of Independence, The Liberty Bell, The Constitution, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Love Park, the first library, the first fire house, the first post office...the list goes on. We wanted to see it all.

To prepare John to appreciate the city we started reading American history books and watching some fun videos on youtube. I highly recommend John Green's Crash Course videos. While the information in Crash Courses goes by way too fast for me, the kids absorb it and enjoy it. We also watched the film Rocky so that John could appreciate the running-up-the-steps scene that takes place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Now we were ready.

We flew in to Philadelphia and straight to our luxury hotel right on the Delaware River. From the top floor John and I had a gorgeous view of the river as well as some tourist sites. He and I learned about the events surrounding the famous Washington crossing the Delaware-Thing.  Wow, did I miss alot during history class when I was a kid! So thrilled that John will completely understand the Tories and Valley Forge, etc.

Nearly every single thing we did was within walking distance of our hotel, but we still recommend taking the on/off bus tour.

We went to the Philadelphia Zoo, which, in our opinion, was small and kind of sad for the animals.  But John and I both feel that way about zoos, so you might disagree.

Then on to one of the wonderful art museums on the tour route. This one, the Philadelphia Museum of Art had a beautiful exhibit of modern art that John enjoyed. This is also the museum steps that Rocky runs up in the first film Rocky. Somehow, one can still feel that gonna flyyyyyyy sooooooooo hiiiiiiiiigh feeling while on the stairs.

The next two days John and I took the on/off tour bus and saw everything!

John's favorite thing in Philadelphia was The Liberty Bell AND the fact that I didn't touch it...  I thought about it....

My favorite thing, which is hard to choose, was Independence Hall and being in the very space where American history was made. Just imagine, if the Declaration of Independence hadn't been so well supported, those men who wrote it would have been considered traitors to the crown and incarcerated or shot! Imagine being in the exact room where our Founding Fathers hammered out these foundation documents...  Honestly, it was kind of a rush.

We learned so much about history and both John and I absolutely love Benjamin Franklin now.

As it happens, I was reading a book on my ereader called Benjamin Franklin's Bastard.  FAB read! Not kidding:  GREAT read!

John and I then drove over to visit our WONDERFUL FRIENDS in New Jersey.

John and I with Auntie and Uncle Jariwala

THEN we drove the other way to the other side of Pennsylvania, driving on the gorgeous Pennsylvania Turnpike (and stopping by Valley Forge on the way) to visit our friends in Pittsburgh.  The boys had a total bromance of a time and we were sad to leave.

Note the matching tshirts!
I have about a million more pictures, but suffice it to say that John and I highly recommend a trip to Philadelphia if you can swing it! One of the best ways to learn about history is to actually GO THERE and we know that we are extremely fortunate to have the ability to make trips such as this one!



Here are a few more pics that you might enjoy.

The National Constitution Museum
Washington Statue outside of Independence  Hall
City Tavern, 18th Century Cuisine, John ate the duck
The  Gorgeous Pennsylvania Capitol Building with William Penn statue
Our waiter, of course
The iconic Love Park

In a tethered hot air balloon at the zoo

Getting Strong Now!!!!

Extra THANKS to John John for letting me take a zillion pics of him
and a nod to Bruce Springstein for the post title.

Monday, October 13, 2014


I hope you don't have the type of family-of-origin that can't seem to be kind and loving, but if you do you will understand this.

I'm taking a break from blogging for awhile...just too upset and tired from the drama.

I have tried to end communication on that end so hopefully things will improve with my state of mind.

In the meantime, the kids are busy.
Elizabeth is working hard at the local community college and John is working hard on his lessons.

Back when I have something to say that isn't TMI about this family crap...


BTW, you don't think I am hateful or mean, do you?????
This is one of those times I wish I was like my friend Rayven
and I could just tell people to fuck off...

OK, no more TMI...
I'll be back soon with some excellent stuff
from our trip....

Monday, September 29, 2014

The City of Brotherly Love

John and I are traveling and heading now to Philadelphia for a week, then to NJ, then to Pittsburgh PA. 
I will have some pics to follow AND some excerpts from our conversations, which are always wonderful!

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather if you are in the northern hemisphere and the beautiful spring weather in you are south of the equator.

We have been learning about American History and the state of Pennsylvania in general. We're both looking forward to being tourists in a city where so much has happened.

I've wanted to go to Philadelphia for many years and I'm so thrilled it is possible for our family to travel whenever we like to.  

 THANK YOU, DEAR HUSBAND for all you do!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ascending to Heights

, screeched the girl from between clenched teeth, her mother looking up at her from below the mats.

This was the scene that greeted us yesterday when John went climbing at Climb SO IL, a co op class offered by a wonderful mom at our co-op, Ashlea.

John was uncomfortable at first in the gear, didn't like the tight shoes, and felt awkward in the safety equipment, but he and his best friend listened to their lesson given by a facility employee and then took off to climb the walls! SO IL has several different skill areas in their huge warehouse building. The facility has these brilliant walls just for little kids. The walls have the auto-belaying piece on top for safety. Other zones for increased skill levels are dispersed throughout this spacious climb zone.

I didn't get a single picture of John or Demitri on the wall, but I have gleefully stolen these images from the website of Climb SO IL. The boys were absolutely stoked every single time I saw them! And, though their hands were stressed at the end of the climb time, these boys are looking forward to the next time we get to go!

Route Setting Process Blog 1I LOVE the co op because it gives us the chance to expose ourselves to things that we might never have known about or might have avoided trying. 

OH, and the girl who was angry at her mother when we first walked in?
By the time we left she was climbing over two stories high on her belay rope...and LOVING IT.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homeschool Blog Carnival #455 is Up!

If you enjoy the Carnival of Homeschooling, check it out here.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The City of Brotherly Love

 secular homeschool, atheist parenting, against homeschooling, negatives of homeschooling
John John and I are planning a road trip! 

Jer told me to make it so, so I have been spending a shit ton of cash tonight planning an upcoming trip to Philadelphia! John and Liz and I have been doing a great amount of reading and watching on American History and where better to visit than Benjamin Franklin's hometown and to check out his first library, Independence Hall, BJ's Museum and Memorial, etc, as well as the many other historical places in and near the city.

Bust of Benjamin Franklin
By Jean-Antoine Houdon
Benjamin Franklin was such an amazing human being; we're excited to visit places that he has been and places that he inspired. 

The Liberty Bell?!
John is very excited to see it.  LOL

Guess what else we can see while there?
Go ahead, guess!

The steps of the art museum that Sylvester Stallone ran up while training for the big fight in movie #1!

I have wanted to go to Philadelphia for years now and John has gotten excited about it too. Too bad Elizabeth will be busy with her classes at the local community college!

Have you been to Philadelphia?
What do you recommend?
Any homeschoolers who would like to meet up at some point?

From top left, the Philadelphia skyline, statue of Benjamin Franklin, the Liberty Bell,
Philadelphis Museum of Art, Philadelphia City Hall, and Independence aHall.

By the way, in case you didn't know it, Philadelphia is often referred to as The City of Brotherly Love from the literal meaning of the city's name in Greek:  philos (φίλος) loving, and adelphos (ἀδελφός) brother.

Philadelphia:  Φιλαδέλφεια

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Want Peace!

Lots of busy-ness and business today means lots of time spent in the car running around from here to there. It also means listening to the radio quite a bit.

Big news today is President Obama's decision to send more troops to the ISIS tumult over in the Middle East.

The kids and I have spent quite a bit of time talking and thinking and discussing and working hard to figure out the centuries-long conflict in the Middle East, knowing that there is not a solution and knowing that the oppressors are operating with the belief that their mandate comes directly from The Lord.

How can any reason, any arbitration, any effort whatsoever trump the belief that one's behavior is approved of and commissioned by GOD?

I don't know the right thing to do. I have no idea what the president or any leader should do. All I know is that the kids and I fervently crave peace in this world that is driven mad by religious extremism. 

We are 100% FOR Peace and AGAINST anything not of peace.

Maybe, but it seems that if everyone thought this way, we'd have peace...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure

evolution, secular homeschooling, atheist
Recently a reader suggested some books for freethinking parents. One of the titles was Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure written by Eileen Campbell and presented by Peter H. Reynolds and New York Hall of Science, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Somon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.
When Charlie starts to do a report at school about his favorite bird the kiwi, the other students have many questions about how this odd creature can be a bird when it doesn't fly and it has whiskers.  That evening Charlie goes home and, with the help of his stuffed friend Kiwi, a gift from his parents after their trip to New Zealand, Charlie learns exactly how the kiwi birds of New Zealand became perfectly evolved for the island of New Zealand! to Charlie's curiosity, he takes a trip back in time, where Charlie and some friendly travelers learn some interesting facts about how birds evolved from dinosaurs, how evolution works, and how the kiwi, specifically, grew whiskers, became nocturnal, and became flightless, among other characteristics by learning about natural selection and adaptation.
The story is dynamic and interesting! I love the illustrations as well. Although my kids are teens, I would DEFINITELY have read this book a time or two to them when they were growing up.

If you are wanting to introduce this advanced concept to your young ones, this 48-page book will keep their attention and explain evolutionary terms in ways that are very understandable and very clear.
It is probably for ages 4-10.

While looking online for a useful image for this post I came across the website for the New York Hall of Science...NICE!!!!  The page has some video and lots of downloads for use with the book.

Thanks again, Frau B!

Other posts you might enjoy:

Book Review by John John
Frau B Suggestions for Freethinker Titles
Ex-Believers Come Hither!
Books for Your Skeptical Children
Secular Homeschool Materials

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I Wish More Homeschoolers were Secular

 atheist secular homeschoolers
I've been reading around the blogosphere a bit this afternoon (HEY, I've been cleaning and THAT gets boring!) and I found myself reading some blogs that aren't exactly secular...if you know what I mean.

Here on my blog I tend to say that homeschoolers are not all Christian and are not all teaching non-science.

But...I'm feeling very discouraged right now.

It's true. Isn't it?  Most homeschoolers are fundamental Christian and tend to skew science and history. It makes me sad and discouraged and annoyed and upset about all of those kids out there who are not getting genuine science or genuine history.


All of those people out there who are disparaging homeschool for the way people can hide in it and avoid learning real knowledge instead of of teaching other than a small world view are right.

I find it terribly upsetting that parents who want to do the best for their children are convinced that raising their kids in the church the best that they can offer. The propaganda of the church is probably the best in the world, ever.

People actually ignore, discount, or treat as mysterious the truly corrupt, unsavory, destructive parts of religion and the holy books in order to live in the saccharine, cloying falseness of the facade of religion. I honestly can't understand a preference like that.

Today my kids and I have been having conversations about how to parent. It is so clear to me that kids take what they have learned and pass it down to I would prefer to see more homeschoolers homeschooling in a secular way.