Sunday, June 30, 2013

More Writing Prompts



It has been quite a while since I offered a list of writing prompts.
My daughter and I have done some work with gratitude journals lately and doing that work always makes me want to give her other writing work.  Her work is good and she enjoys the fiction she writes.  (She can be found on some fanfic sites.)  I got to thinking about how helpful lists of writing prompts are when sitting down with a blank piece of paper, so I'm offering this to you.

If you are working with a group of kids in a writing group OR if you are a writer yourself, please feel free to use my list freely. These are more than just "describe your favorite dream" or "what is your favorite vacation" but, instead are designed to increase the use of analogy, metaphor, skillful language, and creative wording.

  • Think of a dialogue you have heard recently.  (either in real life or on the screen)  Recreate that dialogue with your own personal twist.
  • Look at a thing in the room in which you sit.  Describe in as creatively as possible without mentioning what it is.  Think of creative uses for that object.
  • Write a letter to Ten-Years-From-Now you.  Remind yourself of bits of knowledge that mean something to you now that you don't want to forget.
  • Pick an issue that you are passionate about.  Write an argument on the other side of fence.  For example, if you are a fan of science fiction, write against it.  If you are a blogger, write about a person who does not value blogging.  If you are a homeschooler, write against the lifestyle.  If you are into homeopathy, write against it.  Etc.
  • Imagine you are invisible.  Walk through a location of your choice and describe what you see, hear, experience.  Experience the walk through all five senses.
  • Imagine yourself walking through a door that has a huge metal key that unlocks it.  Describe the turning of the key and the passing through the doorway experience.  What do you find on the other side of the door?
  • Imagine yourself having a conversation with a hero of yours.  Make sure their responses are human and wise.
  • Write a list of things that mean "springtime" to you.
  • Describe Green without mentioning color.  Use other senses.  Avoid well known phrases.  (Cool as a cucumber)
  • Make a list of fifty uses for a spoon.

  • Put yourself into a situation that is personally uncomfortable to you.  (speaking to a stranger, being up high, tripping in public.)  Describe your thought process.  Then describe how those around you experience you in that moment.
  • Write a scene in which a character is experiencing fear.  Describe their bodily sensations more than their thoughts.
  • Choose a word about an emotion or verb.  (excited, remember, special) and write a poem using the first letter of the word for the first line, etc...
  • Write ten questions that you hope someone will ask you one day.
  • Describe one of your parents by comparing them to inanimate objects.  (She is as comfortable as a rocking chair.)
  • Imagine a personality trait that you dislike.  Now imagine having that personality trait and how that trait serves you.  Describe the gains of that trait.
  • Imagine you are a visitor in your own home or town.  Describe it as an outsider might, noticing details and unique things.  Ask questions.  (I wonder who made that thing on the wall and why they used so much black.)
  • You are a shoe.  Describe your day.  Describe the feeling of a step, a leap, standing, walking on soft things, hard things, being under the chair)
  • Write a scene where two characters are saying good bye to one another.  Use as many nonverbal cues of separation as possible.  (He closed his book and put it into his backpack...)
  • Sit in a place that you never sit.  Under the table, outdoors on the corner, in a coffee shop.  Write at least fifty observations made from that location.  Remember to use all sensory awareness.  (smell of the coffee, feeling of the fireplace, sound of newspapers being folded...)
  • Find a random vintage photograph online.  Create a story around the people or situations in the image.  Create a dialogue if people are in the image.  Create movement if no people appear in the image.
  • Create a fictional conversation between one of your parents and one of their friends when they were children.
  • Write at least two paragraphs using all of these words/phrases:  delinquent, middle of the month, salubrious, scalding, and unbridled.
  • Timed:  In three minutes, write as many things as you can think of that one might say when opening up a gift.
  • Imagine someone is reading your diary or journal over your shoulder.  Describe the feelings you have in your body and the thoughts you have in your head.
  • Using a mirror, look directly into your own eyes for at least two minutes.  Be aware of your thoughts and feelings and experiences.  Write them down.

  • Now, look into the eyes of another person for two minutes.  Do the same.
  • Imagine going to the hospital because you are feeling very weird.  The doctors keep doing one test after another.  They they surprise you with the strangest discovery!  What is it and what do you do about it?
  • You receive a mysterious letter from a stranger.  The letter is over a hundred years old and is addressed to you.  Describe the letter, the material that it is written on, the method of delivery.  What does the letter say?
  • Image you are walking down a busy city street when a man in front of you drops his satchel.  You stop to help him pick up his things.  Freeze that scene.  What is he carrying?  What does his voice sound like?  What does his mood appear to be?  Describe him.  What smells do you notice?  What does his satchel look like?
  • Describe yourself by looking through your parent's eyes or the eyes of someone who loves you or thinks well of you.  What stories would they tell?  What adjectives would they use?  What would they find important to include in the description?
  • Now describe yourself by looking through the eyes of a real or imagined person of someone who does not think well of you.  What stories would they tell?  What adjectives would they use?  What would they find important to include in the description?

If you have any other original writing prompts, please pass them along!
I find that coming up with original writing prompts is just as creative as doing the prompts themselves!  LOL


WELCOME to my readers in Australia!



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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  Homeschool Teen Writing Prompts 2
Or you may enjoy reading:  Dear Reader
Or try this one:  Don't Kill the Writer


Friday, June 28, 2013

Harrison Craig: Australia's The Voice Winner 2013



The girls making signs for the show
Back at home we never watch TV, but down here in Australia we don't really have alot to do at night so we watch alot of TV.  We have really gotten into the talent shows.  Our most recent fave was Australia's The Voice.

This contest was quite close this year but we are thrilled to announce that our personal favorite HARRISON CRAIG was winner this year.  Our family has been a Harrison Craig supporter since the first note of his first song on the show.  The first song was Broken Vow followed by Josh Groban's Raise Me Up, Michael Buble's Home, Elvis's Can't Help Falling in Love with You, Righteous Brother's Unchained Melody, and the rest.  We knew from his first sung note that he was IT!
With a dreamy voice

And we were right!  His journey can be found here.

Today Elizabeth, our friend Tanaya, and I went to the mall in Chermside (just north of downtown Brisbane) for a fangirl concert by Harrison Craig!

We arrived three hours early and were about 40th in line.
We we waaaaaaaaaaaaited for three hours, Harrison's music playing for the last hour of our wait. Then Harrison got onstage, said, I guess

I'll get started, and then he started singing!   
He sang two songs and then signed fifty million CDs.
Then he hugged EVERY SINGLE PERSON there and signed their stuff.
He was sweet and adorable and it was so worth the wait!
At one point, Harrison noticed our sign that read USA hearts Harrison and he threw us a kiss!

The crowd was huge and INDOORS. So the shrieking was just hideous; apparently all 14 year olds shriek at the same tone.

We LOVED it and are absolutely thrilled that our trip to Brisbane put us here during this time when we joined all Aussies with the discovery of this lovely singer! 

This post is entirely to share pics from seeing Harrison Craig.  LOL

A fine moment, a moment to remember!
Sending many HELLO greetings to my readers in Russia!
Thank you for visiting.





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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  Another Brissie Adventure

Or you may enjoy reading:  Suttons Beach, Redcliffe QLD

Or try this one:  En Zed


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Passion Fruit and Chloe


disadvantages of homeschooling negatives against homeschooling criticism homeschool is weird
The other night we went to a friend's house for a teen game night.  You know these type of things, you never know exactly what to expect.  Is it formal?  Do people know one another?  Can we be loud?  Will we like them?  Will they like us?  Is there a SHedule we must follow?  Will they be offended when the kids won't eat anything?

Guess what?  It was GREAT!

From beginning to end, it was great.  There was the park time, the dinner, the fire and marshmallows, the games, the pictures, new friends, laughter...  Lots of great things. 

But my favorite moment of the day happened fairly early in the party.  We were at the nearby park hanging out.  Kids were scattered here and there doing many different things.  One of the girls, ten-year-old Chloe showed me something she had found in the bush along the side of the playground.  It was a passion fruit.  I was completely unfamiliar with a passion fruit.
I followed Chloe over to the overgrown area next to the park and explored the area with her.

We found very cool seed pods all over the place.  (It's cooler weather right now in Brisbane, technically winter, so seed pods around here are phenomenal!)  We also saw this cool spider web with a large spider sitting in the middle.  But the web wasn't your normal web, it was spherical and about two feet across!  I enjoyed exploring this area with Chloe because she has such an inquiring mind and she seems to be taking things in all around her all of the time. 

She found a few more of the yellow or green passion fruits and we carried them over to the table.  She opened one up, after asking her mom if she could, and started eating it's contents.  Inside was this yellowish-greenish goo with small greenish-brown seeds.  Chloe's mom Tanya is very cool.  She said that the contents could be eaten, seeds and all.

Before long Chloe is covered with the tangy stuff, licking juice that dripped down to her chin and all over the fruit.  For some reason I kept thinking of Opie from Mayberry RFD (a black-and-white tv show The Andy Griffith Show all about the good old days).  Watching her was like watching a golden moment of childhood.  Just GOOD.  Chloes of the world give me hope!  My apologies to the other wonderful children who were also there, mine included, but this brief moment was Golden

I tried the fruit and was pleasantly surprised.  Even though the goop inside looked awful, it was actually tangy, sweet, and good.

Someone had gathered up a collection of blossoms from around the park and I arranged them in this nice little still life.



I send many special Onyounghasayyo greetings to my Korean readers.
(well, I tried and I mean well.)



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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  Suttons Park, Redcliffe QLD 
Or you may enjoy reading:  On the Road 
Or try this one:  Are Homeschoolers Weird?


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alright Now: Time to Get Serious



Guest poster:  Elizabeth, The Doctor

Alright Now:  Time to Get Serious

Have you ever wondered what it's like to move away from everything you've ever known into the deep unknown of someplace where everything that lives there has one mission:  kill all humans? Well, it's not what you would call "comforting" to know that everything in the country (except for maybe koalas and kangaroos) has some amount of poison strong enough to kill you, or at least make you very sick.

Well, let's simplify things a bit. Imagine you're fifteen years old, just, and you move away from everything you've ever known and you're moving to a country you never REALLY take time to think about.  It's a bit like that song Silhouette by Owl City. 
  

If you've never heard it, it's basically explaining an unknown grief and becoming a shadow because of it and asking if the pain is over yet. The lyrics are deeper than that, but that's the basic idea. For the first month or two I was in Australia, I felt like a silhouette but then, I used music to turn my life around and that is not being fake, either. 

Back in America, my best friend played guitar and she was so passionate about it and it was her dream to be a singer/songwriter/guitarist. I admired her passion for it and I decided to surprise her when I got home and learn how to play the guitar.  So, I did.  I got a guitar at a yard sale (terrible idea) and started guitar lessons. 
  

I'm going to be honest, I sucked.  It was awful, but it was only because the guitar wasn't as good as it could have been.  So, I got a new one and I got more confidant with it.  The more I learned, the happier I was.  Then, my guitar teacher offered me private lessons because he was leaving the company he was with and the possibilities became endless. 
  

Then, quite by accident, my best friend learned that I was learning to play guitar.  I'd Skyped with her multiple times over the course of my learning, but I managed to keep it a secret until I gave in one day.  I sat out of the range of the camera, propped River (my guitar) on my knee and strummed.  Her reaction was priceless. 
   

At the same time, I was taking an advanced acting class and it was changing me, too.  Slowly but surely, I was changing.  I remember who I was only twelve months ago and I see how dramatically I've changed, and not just my age.  I've become a better person. 
   

The acting class showed me the real complexity of theater.  I'd always seen it as two dimensional, but it showed me that there were so many different ways to attack a scene and so many ways interpret it.  I met interesting people over the course of the class as well, and they each changed me in their own special way. 
   

Two of them showed me that being the new kid isn't always that bad.  Two others taught me to have fun while I was here.  One special boy taught me that love at first sight isn't always what it seems, that falling in love with him was the right thing to do, even if the feelings weren't reciprocated, and to appreciate my family and everyone around me, and never take them for granted because I never know when they'll be taken from me.     
   

Another boy taught me that I have to be conscious of my actions so I don't make people think things of me that aren't true.  Pink Glasses and Scarf Stealer taught me that school kids don't all have the same agendas and don't all think the same way.  There were more people in that class and each one of them taught me something different and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  

Along the way, I've discovered new bands and singers that have changed my outlook on life and they made me see all that life has to offer.  They made me see that most of the time, taking risks can result in good things and to not be scared when approached with something new. 
   

Then, I found a singer who inspired me more than anyone else had to write a song!  I didn't write the song about this inspiring singer, though. I wrote it about a boy I met while I was here and the complex relationship I had with him (and another boy at a previous time who had left his mark.)  I just finished writing my song the other day.  Well, I finished writing the words, but I still need to edit those and finish writing the music.  So, it's not done, it's just one step closer to being completed. 
  

Recently, I showed the song to my guitar teacher and he said that before I left the country to go home for good, he wanted to record it - and he sounded dead serious.  This was my big break and everything I wanted was going to happen.  For the rest of the day and even now, I was glowing with the information and he told me that he would help me any way he could to help me perfect this song. 
  

While I was in the process of writing the song, I kept thinking about my personality and my view on life.  I thought about how I didn't really appreciate all that life had to offer and how I never really felt happy, save a few select times, and I realized I wanted to change myself and to help myself be a better person.  I wanted to change my views and, above all, I wanted to love and appreciate life.  
   

I've never really found myself appreciating anything.  I mean, I appreciated my family and my best friends, but nothing else.  I've never truly taken that step.  I brought my concerns to my mother and she suggested, among other things, that if I really wanted to change my view on life and to appreciate life, I should start a gratitude journal and not only would I notice things more, I'd appreciate all the little things I didn't notice before. 
   

Twelve months ago, I hated everything.  I didn't hate a few select people in my life, or my bed, but I hated everything.  I hated my hair, body, voice, house, room, book choices, music, city, state, country, other people.  I hated almost everybody whether I knew them or not.  I hated everything whether it was mine or not.  I hated my life, but in all honestly, I was barely living it. 
  

Now, I'm the complete opposite.  I love everybody I know, meet, see, everything I own, all my music, and, well you get the idea.  I care for myself now.  I take careful note of what I put in my body and how I dress and how I act and everything.  Maybe I'm not 100% confidant about my voice (singing) but I don't know (personally) too many people who are. 
  

There is one more person who had helped me mold myself into who I am today and we've never even spoken.  Well, we have, but the maximum amount of words in the conversation was maybe... fifteen.  We do have an unspoken bond, simply because we're both Whovians, but that's not the point. 
  

Every Thursday, I take my younger brother to his class and the guy who has had a strong effect on me is always there as well; let's call him George.  George has a class as soon as my brother's lets out.  I can't get the courage to talk to him.  We both just sit there in the lobby for two hours, exchanging glances and everything, but I forget how to speak whenever I see him.  I know about George more than I should because he often talks to his classmates who show up very early as well.  After several months of sitting opposite each other for two hours each week, I've developed a bit of a crush on him. 
  

After ages of trying to get the courage to talk to him, I thought about it and I realized that I had to talk to him and the only way to do that was the Four Cs:  Cool, Calm, Collected, and Confidant. 
  

Even though I ended up not going to talk to him because of the miraculous cold I got, I still felt armed with the Four C's and that fire hasn't gone out yet.  I'm working on that social anxiety.
  

This boy helped me realize that to get anything done, I have to be happy, appreciative, and I have to have the Four C's.  Unfortunately, I won't get the chance to speak to him for eight or nine weeks, but that gives me eight or nine weeks to be thankful for him, despite our lack of conversation. 
  

In short, I thought that coming to Australia would change my life, but not in a good way.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  I will leave Australia new, happy, cool, calm, collected, confidant, and appreciating the the world around me with no regrets.  All the risks and all the new things have all been worth it and I'll never regret a single moment. 
  

Thank you, Australia, for turning me into the person I am today, and will be for the rest of my life. 


GREETINGS to readers in Latvia!


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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Atheists Believe in Nothing

atheist blog atheist blog atheist blog
It was a mistake, I know.  I shouldn't have watched the video, but I was asked by some online friends to watch it.  And so I did.

It was a video of a compilation of Creationists plying their wares.  Anywhere from dragons/dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden to a worldwide flood putting the fossils into strata to Kurt Whats-His-Name telling kids that evilution suggests the eventuality of a crocoduck.  

I'm tired of it. I really am.
I'm tired of giving any more of my attention to the Ken Hamms of the world. It is boring hearing their droning drivel.

Believe in nothing?  Really?

  • I believe in the taste of salt water on the lips of my son with a quick kiss, forehead to forehead.
  • I believe in the tangible, humming sparkle of my daughter's glow after a great performance.
  • I believe in the crinkled brown eyes of Jerry's smile when he's teasing me into a smile of my own.
  • I believe in bubbling laughter.
  • I believe in the unknown bird with the amazing whistle outside of the window of an evening.
  • I believe in meeting my friend for tea and losing track of time.
  • I believe in comfortable shoes and gorgeous earrings.
  • I believe in leaving better-than-average tips.
  • I believe in the delicious smell/taste of sunscreen in the summer.
  • I believe in the years to come where my kids become the type of adults who separate their recyclables and who help people that they don't even know.
  • I believe is a superb baritone.
  • I believe in the prolific and insatiable thing called LIFE in this immense universe in which we live.
  • I believe in the decency of "thank you" and the healing power of an extra long hug.
  • I believe in the atmosphere.
  • I believe in supporting families, breadwinners,mothers, children, in every way possible.
  • I believe in equality and respect and peace.
  • I believe in whispered, smiling secrets.
  • I believe in saying "I love you".
  • I believe in horseback riding.
  • I believe in caring for the sea and its creatures.
  • I believe in a great bongo drum.
  • I believe in arms around shoulders and long, even strides together, left foot first.
  • I believe in delicious, cool, necessary water.
  • I believe in authenticity and ethics.
  • I believe in the depth of green eyes and the breadth of blue.
  • I believe in midnight book reading and late wake up.
  • I believe in sharing the road with cyclists.
  • I believe in living fully each day.
  • I believe in the power of words.
  • I believe in the solidity of my husband.
  • I believe in rain.
  • I believe in living simply and sharing.
  • I believe in the world in a tea cup.
  • I believe a person can change if they are truly ready.
  • I believe in good intention and duct tape.
  • I believe in climbing the tree and scaling the wall.
  • I believe in kisses on the nape of the neck.
  • I believe in misty days.
  • I believe that sex is natural and normal and that practicing it safely is A-OK.
  • I believe in leaving comments on blog posts that I read.
  • I believe in the hope of the breaking of each new day.
  • I believe in equal pay for equal work.
  • I believe in the heart of a child.
  • I believe in singing in the shower.
  • I believe in guitars and keyrings.
  • I believe the sheer number of planets in the universe guarantees life in many places.
  • I believe in the inherent value and potential of every person.
  • I believe in this place and this time.
  • I believe with all of my heart that Hollywood producers have more up their collective sleeves than super heroes and vampires.
  • I believe in protecting our atmosphere and earth.
  • I believe in smaller cars.
  • I believe that, although it is difficult being misunderstood, it is important to maintain dignity and authenticity.
  • I believe that the criticism of others reflects more on the criticizer than the criticizee.
  • I believe in sharing the road with cyclists.
  • I believe in listening to that small voice inside that says 
  • Keep trying, what you are doing is making a difference.
  • I believe in small gestures of thoughtfulness.
  • I believe in the gentle squeeze of my hand as my daughter tells me of the depth of her love at those times when she can't put it into words.
  • I believe in majority rule.
  • I believe people perform best with they have their dignity.
  • I believe in mothers and fathers.
  • I believe in children.
  • I believe in a ponytail, high and tight.
  • I believe that a picture really is worth a thousand words.
  • I believe in poetry.
  • I believe in saying "yes" whenever possible.
  • I believe in extra ice in my water.
  • I believe in the small group of people who are in my life.
  • I believe in dancing to Super Freak every time it comes on, no matter where I am.
  • I believe in trying again.
  • I believe in the power of learning.
  • I believe in my husband, my daughter, my son, and myself.

I believe I'll have another cookie. 
 

What about you,
does this stuff by Ken Hamm and Kurt What's His Name get to you?


Extra greetings to readers in France!


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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:    
Your Life has no Meaning   
You Were Never a Real Believer   
On Being Religion-Free

Friday, June 21, 2013

Another Brissie Adventure




It's so easy to have an adventure if you are open to it.
Here's one from this week.  Sadly, the kids weren't with me but I thought the experience was worth a nod.

I was on my way down to the CBD (Downtown Brisbane, the Central Business District) on Tuesday night using public transportation to go to an end-of-term performance of Elizabeth's drama class.  I left home two hours early to give me a bit of time to window shop downtown and to catch a pot of tea at my favorite coffee shop before her performance. 

Just outside of our home, I sat at the bus stop for awhile waiting for a bus to take me up to the train station.  Here I talked with the crabbiest woman in Morningside; she was so crabby that even my sparkling conversation couldn't sooth her!  LOL  After getting on the bus I discovered, unfortunately, that the bus went a direction that I hadn't planned on.
...as all good fairy tales begin...

Bob
While sitting on the bus and wondering how I would get to my destination, a man across the aisle from me, Bob, gave me a quick rundown of all of the public transport options available to me to get to the CBD; he knew the many schedules by heart.  He suggested that I get off of the bus in Bulimba, take the City Cat Ferry across the Brisbane River to New Farm, and then take the Teneriffe bus down to the CBD.  He was quite sure I could get downtown within twenty minutes using this route!  So I decided to give it a try...and Bob went along for the ride.

Bob had quite a checkered past and quite an empty present.  With no plans for the day, he invited himself along and joined me on my journey.  During the sojourn I had the unmitigated delight of hearing all about Bob's life, his lost loves, his estranged family, his life of unemployment, even his opinions of America and world politics. 

Bob, hailing the bus in Teneriffe
So we hopped off of the bus we were on and right on to the Bulimba ferry like clockwork!  On the ferry were several bike riders as well as a number of students on their way home and business people in business uniform.  The ride across the river was gorgeous and sunny.  I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to have a regular day where you ride the ferry to get home...wouldn't that be lovely?  Along our route across the Brisbane River is a spot where dozens of personal sailboats and small skiffs were tied up on the water.  It was prettier than a puzzle!  (Whenever I see a gorgeous sight I think That would make a pretty puzzle!)  We got off of the ferry in Teneriffe, near New Farm, and onto the bus directly. Not a moment to waste!

The bus dropped me off two blocks from Elizabeth's school about six minutes later.  Seriously, all of this in about twenty minutes!  And an amazing adventure to boot!

And Elizabeth's show was GREAT!

Also, I would like to welcome all of my readers in Poland!


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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:   A Brief Interaction
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Inspired Parenting



Elizabeth and Kerrie
As a long-time homeschooler, I have run into many newbie homeschooling parents.  Mostly these new parents are excited, nervous, rah-rah, relieved, lost, found, committed, enthusiastic, purposeful, determined, careful, deliberate, and intense!

But the usual adjective I would use to describe new homeschooling parents is INSPIRED.

Newly homeschooling parents are usually very very well-informed, very very well-read, highly research-oriented, open to new ideas, and seriously dedicated.  And why wouldn't they be, right?  They have just chosen to embrace a lifestyle unlike anything else!  They have just taken the reins of the future of their families!  They have just committed a new life path!!!!!!

Here in Brisbane as we get around and meet new homeschoolers, we have found many, many families with members of the families lying somewhere on the autism spectrum.  Parents of Aspies, as the Aspergers Peoples tend to refer to themselves, often homeschool down here, having found the schools unable to accommodate the needs of their children.  This group of parents is particularly resourceful and informed!

In our travels, we have befriended some of the most loving and wise people imaginable and I have learned so much from them.

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time (love you guys!) knows that I have struggled to be a better parent to my daughter.  Over the years I have turned over many of my old conceptions of who she is and what is best for her as I learn more and more about parenting her.  Friends who I have met down here have opened my eyes to new ways to view her behavior and how I perceive her needs, whether they know of their influence on me or not!  I think I am seeing her through clearer eyes now!  Listening to one noob homeschooling friend in particular has been so inspiring.  Kerrie is a very inspired parent.  She is truly doing her homework and she has reminded me of things that I used to know, but have forgotten along the way...

Slow, I know, but I am far more able to see Elizabeth's anxiety, her internal struggles, and her efforts to make advances again.  I notice that I get stuck when I start thinking that I already know and understand Elizabeth and that is when I lose my patience and my compassion for her.  Strengthening my intentionality, my compassion, and my comprehension of Elizabeth has been a real gift of our time here.  I'm glad she hasn't given up on me.




P.S.  I changed the pic above when I got this great shot of Kerrie and Elizabeth!

WELCOME to my readers in Russia!



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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  Shooshy 
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Social "Anxiety" is Better Than Social "Panic", Right?


Elizabeth has been deciding to work on her social anxiety and we started today.

She has difficulty talking to strangers ("Especially cute boys") and talking on the phone.  It is fairly common for teens, really.  She's just a bit more anxious than usual.  It doesn't come up that often, but it has been bothering her quite a bit lately.  She has decided that she wants to work on it because she is aware that that social fear keeps her from doing things that she wants to do.

Up to this point she hasn't had any interest in taking an active role in working on it.  Today she and I went out into the world and made a few baby steps toward her goal.
I'm proud of her for choosing to take control of this! 
It's not easy to do and it takes some real self awareness to do this.


Elizabeth and Harry
We started at the coffee shop where she ordered for me.  She made eye contact with the server, asked for more water, and even asked for special instructions on the order.  It was tough and she found herself getting a bit bunged up at the table.  We sat and talked a bit before the next step.

She was to stand up and do a jig.
No, just kidding.
She was to walk about twenty feet from me in this open air coffee shop and check out the menu of the sushi place next door.  Her fears got to her and it took awhile, but she did it.  The next step was to walk to the door of the sushi place and check inside for the menu to check the price of dim sum.

This was the point where she felt the most fear.  The wonderful people in this family-favorite restaurant always greet us very enthusiastically as we cross the threshold of the door.  She made her way to the doorway, stayed outside of the threshold, and came back with information about pricing.


At this point, she felt very pressured and fearful of making any other forays away from me.  But we decided to try one more thing.  Here in Brisbane, coffee shops have a nice little weekly publication with local information; the flyers are available inside of the shops.  I asked her to go back to the sushi place and get one.  She pointed to the exact papers right here in the coffee shop in which we now sat.  "Nope, " I smiled, "I want one from over there!"

We spent time with thinking and feelings.  The big picture is that up to this time she has resisted working on the thought patterns that bring up the worst of the anxiety in this type of situation and that has made it hard to actually intervene in the process.  But we tried it anyway.  With me in the visible spot, only about twenty feet from the door, she went into the sushi place and brought back the flyer!

She did it! 

We celebrated by going to the grocery store.  Woop tee doo.

While checking out at the grocery she interacted with the checker quite well!  (Of course the checker wasn't the Cute Lachlan!  LOL)  She did it.  She felt great after this...needed a little decompression, but great!

I'm proud of you, Shoosh! 
I'm proud of you for agreeing to THIS too!

An extra special HELLO to my readers
in the Philippines and 1D fans!

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If you enjoyed this post, this one may appeal to you:  
Cuddling Cures the Meloncholy
My Parenting Manifesto 
Query from a Confused Parent  
Gaining Independence 

You Must Be SO Patient!




If I've heard it once I've heard it a hundred times.
"I couldn't homeschool my kids, 
You Must Be SO Patient!"
This one is true.  I am patient.
Unless I'm not.

  • When I come home and find the dishes in exactly the place they were when I left...well, let's just say that no one was calling me patient that day.
  • When it's lesson time and one of the kids asks "Can I just watch the last twenty minutes of this movie?"  I am not, not patient.
  • After the 35th time I hear today's most life-affirming song, I'm just a tiny bit less patient...
  • Those days when every.  Single.  Thing. is BORING, my patience-o-meter tends a bit toward the left.
  • For that play-by-play of the last ten hours of Minecraft, I have to admit to a bit of mind wander...
  • When basic things like tooth brushing and putting away one's own things aren't happening,  I might not be the paragon you imagine me to be.
  • Do I really have to ask you to flush?
  • When the 'whose night is it to do dishes?' conversation starts, my eyes might roll back in my head.
  • When the sibling rivalry thing takes residence in the hall, my patience might be a bit thin.
  • When one or the other child pulls out the microscope and begins to weigh life, looking for  unfairness, for they are certain to find it, I don't mind admitting that my patience can only take so much of that one.
  • Please get off of the screen.
  • When they are tired and bored all day and revved up all night.
  • ...you get it.

So, am I patient?  Sure.  I can be.  But I am no more patient than any other parent out there. I have my moments.  The difference for a homeschooling parents is that you are with your children more often and more intensely.  But that's usually a good thing!

So, if you fear homeschooling for that "You are so patient" fear, rest assured, I have no special super powers that you don't also possess. 

The only super power you really need:  LOVE.




Have you heard this one?
What do you usually say?
Do you think that, somehow, it's kind of embarrassing?
 ................................................................


This post is in Loving Memory of
The Gentle Warrior,
Rosie 
Who lost her battle with Post-transplant CF today.
Beloved sister of my dear friend Bridget



Donations made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation are appreciated.


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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  Top Ten Habits of a Homeschooling Mom 
Or you may enjoy reading:  My Essential Homeschooling Strategies 
Or try this one:  Are Homeschoolers Weird?


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Secular Homeschooling Materials

atheist homeschool  atheist homeschool  atheist homeschool 
This is a blog post I have put off writing for a long time now.
EVERY secular homeschooler and family homeschooling secularly spend HOURS, DAYS, WEEKS, MONTHS online desperately looking for secular homeschooling materials. And you know I'm not even overstating it. It's a desert out there.  Locating secular materials is like looking for atheists among homeschoolers. (yuk yuk yuk)

There is so little for secular homeschoolers that many families have given Christian curriculum a try. I have actually seen blog posts on how to evade the Christian part of Christian materials. THAT'S how desperate we can be.

Why have I put this blog post about secular homeschooling materials off for so long? Because many years ago I gave up on curriculum in total. When I am looking for leveled material, I go straight for textbooks.

Unpopular, I know.

I have used the Saxons. The Singapore. Easy Grammar. Spectrum, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Math U See. Modern Curriculum Press. R.E.A.L. Science. Teaching Textbooks, and lots lots more. (I haven't used them in quite a while, but I have used them.)

Maybe five years or so ago I just gave up. None of these fit well. Either they were utterly and completely boring, dreadfully lean, limited in scope or material, freakishly expensive, gimmicky, or a combination of several of these. I started creating all of my own materials for the kids, in spite of the fact that I OWNED a homeschool supply store!  
While having the store I dreaded the question "What do you use?"  Because I am nothing if not honest. "Textbooks," I would say.  ...then they would look at me funny, but my business acumen is fodder for another blog post...  My point is, I couldn't really recommend any of the materials that are generally out there offering themselves to homeschoolers. You know...all of those materials in the Rainbow Resources catalog.
Instead, I recommend sticking with good, old-fashioned textbooks. Not flashy, not shiny, not cool, not as much fun to debate around the table of a group of homeschool moms. But reliable. Available. Solid. Full of good stuff. Well-organized. Expansive content. Current and up-to-date. I have even found some that are internet-linked and THAT is cool.

Look for Houghton-Mifflin, Glencoe McGraw-Hill, Pearson Prentiss Hall, McDougal Littell, MacMillan, Steck-Vaughn, Harcourt, Holt and Winston, this page at Secular Homeschooling website, or any combination of these publisher names. I'm sure that there are other large textbook publishers, but these are tried-and-true, completely secular, generally readable, and no gimmicks. Learn stuff. Get the teacher guides if and when you need them. Expect to pay anywhere from a few bucks for a tattered copy to higher prices for pristine copies. But you will get good, quality material without fear of a board somewhere trying to decide if evolution should be taught in the textbook.

Also, a quick shout out to my readers in Iran!
Welcome!

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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  
Note to my Former Self  
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