Thursday, March 31, 2016

Homeschool: General Science

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This evening John and I were doing some work in his General Science book and it occurred to me that I haven't said much about his science work. You already know that we're big fans of textbooks and online resources in this house and this textbook is a great example of what we love about using textbooks.

We are using the Prentice-Hall text called Physical Science: Concepts in Action, purchased from Amazon.com used for less than $12, which included the price of shipping. Also available for this textbook on Amazon.com is a reading and study student workbook, CD-ROM with transparencies, lab workbook, additional reading booklet, additional reading and skills booklet, teacher's edition, and a variety of test and quiz booklets. The workbook is internet-linked...I love that about the Prentice-Hall/Pearson textbooks!

John wanted me to mention the book on my blog because, according to him, it's a comprehensive look at foundations of physical science that every student needs for higher levels of science study. Yep, he said that. We recommend it.

At this point in the text John is studying Chemistry and the classification of matter. He's enjoying the excellent examples given to clarify concepts, he told me so! Although we have covered a great deal of these science fundamentals in prior years, this textbook brings the content up to a more mature and engaging level. 

Aussie Eclipse
My husband and I are very involved with astronomy, geology, and other fields of science; this textbook has several sections specifically dealing with Earth Science and Astronomy, to my delight. John has been around all things astronomy for the entirety of his life and, somehow, perhaps by sheer will of ignoring, he reports that he has very little knowledge of astronomy but now he's interested in it.  LOL
KIDS! So he's looking forward to those chapters.

Next month John, JD, and I will be taking a field trip to the southwest where we will visit Meteor Crater, the Painted Desert, and the Grand Canyon! And so much more! We are looking forward to applying what we know to that visit...and to learning so much more! We're seriously excited about making this trip.

Anyway, just passing along another reliable resource for homeschoolers.


 GREETINGS to all readers in China
 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Atheist Homeschoolers: WE ARE HERE!

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Through my Facebook feed I've seen several blog posts and articles on atheist/secular homeshooling just this week. Turns out my own blog post titled Secular Homeschool vs. Atheist Homeschool from the other day was kind of timely. While writing that post I felt particularly aware that I might be rubbing some people wrong, including some beloved friends. 

But my issue tonight is with the continuous struggle of atheist homeschoolers being heard and counted in the media.

I read some Pathos writers, mainly Hemant Mehta, and I listen to a single podcast, The Thinking Atheist podcast with Seth Andrews and I see some other major voices in the atheist world badmouthing homeschooling because of the religiosity of it, and they are right to. We all know how prevalent Christian nonsense is in the homeschool circles and how disgusting those materials can be. No doubt about it. We also know that atheist homeschoolers are rare, but we are here.

I did contact Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist podcast about his upcoming shows on homeschooling, planned for early April 2016:   
Seth, I DEARLY HOPE you have some actual atheist homeschoolers on our upcoming shows. PLEASE represent us!!! I am very able to offer you my own support as well as several dozen other atheist homeschoolers to join you on the show.
And I left him a link to this blog.


Who is Seth?


BeAsia and I with
Seth, The Thinking Atheist
Last year at the Gateway to Reason convention here in St. Louis I met Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist. Anyone can tell you how embarrassingly I was fangirling this man. His podcast The Thinking Atheist podcast was very instrumental in my own strengthening of my desire to be a very out and open atheist. His calm, clear, kind, informed demeanor is something that I connected with. So many angry and unpleasant atheist voices are out there and there is a place for all of them. But my own ethic is much closer to Seth's.

In the image on the right, my lovely friend and cohost from The Secular Parents on youtube, BeAsia McKerracher and I were able to meet and greet with Seth at the atheist convention here in St. Louis just off of the Washington University campus at a local watering hole. I embarrassingly asked him for a kiss...and I got one! From BeAsia.  :)



The thing is, it's very easy to find detractors to homeschooling as atheists. And I'm sure that that will be the focus of Seth's show because that is ALWAYS the focus of attention such as this. But what if someone made sincere effort to get the word out, get the interest out, get attention to those of us out here who are working so hard to get quality, preparatory educations for our children?

If atheist homeschoolers finally had a voice somewhere maybe publishers would be putting religion-free materials out there for homeschoolers. It shouldn't be this freaking hard for atheist parents to educate our children with quality and truth!



PLEASE tell what you think!

Are you an atheist homeschooling family? 

If so, I might have an idea. Contact me at the email address below. Help me to write a post about atheists who homeschool that is meaningful. 







In the meantime, here is a link to an EXCELLENT list of amazing online lectures for your kids! Let me know what you think.



John and I are exploring many of these online resources and are thrilled with them.

And I just found this website that reviews secular material

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Atheist Easter - Short and Sweet

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Question on FB:
Am I a 'bad atheist' for attending church this Sunday? It would mean so much to my grandma to have us there. We just had a baby and it would mean so much to her, but I don't want to be a hypocrite. Thoughts?

 Answer from me:
The great thing about being an atheist, a freethinker, is the ability to do whatever makes sense to you...without explaining it or meeting anyone else's expectations.

 I could say more 
 but I think that about covers it. :) 

Enjoy your Springtime celebration!

The Best Gift I Ever Received

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Tonight I've been feeling supremely fortunate to be married to my wonderful husband. He is truly loving to me in such surprising, simple, and genuine ways. He still takes my breath away. I've been thinking about the best gift I have ever received from anyone, ever.  
(minus the handmaid gifts from my children.)

It was almost twenty-five years ago and I was about to go away for the weekend with the man who would eventually become my husband. We left on a Friday night; we were planning on driving about three hours away to go to some jazz clubs, to listen to some great live music, and to drink some wine.

By the time we arrived at our hotel poor Jerry was exhausted, but we went out for a few hours anyway. The next morning he chose to stay in bed to rest and I went out to the nearby shops. This part of town was so neat with its unique little jewelry and art shops; I was thoroughly entertained. In fact, I went into a little place about a block down from our hotel and found some cute earrings and such. I also saw this really gorgeous artisan scarf, handpainted and one-of-a-kind. I didn't buy it because it was pretty costly, but I never forgot that scarf. I bought myself a sweet little beaded bag. On the way home I told Jer all about that shopping trip and he was delighted to have missed it.  lol

The weekend was wonderful; we still talk about what a turning point it was for us. But the true moment when I knew for sure about this man came about three months later, on my birthday.

I walked in and he had a pile of packages for me to open. I was amazed because I knew how much he despised shopping. When I got to the last box I was truly thrilled to see a very nice St. Louis Blues sweatshirt; we were very fond of going to see the Blues play. I pulled that sweatshirt out of the box with a shout of delight only to discover, hidden beneath it, the scarf I had seen on our weekend away.

Maybe you saw that coming, but I certainly hadn't!
Jerry had contacted the hotel, called a few shops, and had found the woman who was showing the scarf to me. The shop assistant had remembered me and had sent the scarf to Jerry. I was stunned. I felt very loved.

I told him that he never ever ever had to buy me a gift again as long as we lived and I remind him of that every single birthday and traditionally gifty holiday. Occasionally he still surprises me like that and it always touches my heart.


Friday, March 25, 2016

A Hearty Conversation

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John:  I have this goal for medical technology. See, I want to invent the technology to create a very tiny vehicle with a very tiny human, see. The person can then go through the blood system in the vehicle. They can identify plaque and clots and other problem areas. The vehicle could go through the entire circulatory system. The vehicle would be incredibly small and able to move through the tiniest veins and arteries.

Me:  Hmmm....you know, there is already some technology...

John:  It would be tough to get a very tiny human being into the blood stream personally, see. To help make a diagnosis. But I would want to do it because then I would then be able to observe what the patient needs. While in there I would take paper and write notes. At some point I would write the word God on a piece of paper.

Me:  ???   (trying to follow)

John:  Then I could say that I had taken the Lord's name in vein.

Me:  You went a loooooong way for that one.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Secular Homeschool vs. Atheist Homeschool

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Calling something out.

There are secular homeschool sights, blogs, and suggested curriculum out there in that world to which, occasionally, atheists will be referred. But these same secular blogs, curriculum, and secular sitesy are happy to suggest that some homeschooling materials are Great, secular, but with some religion
I call BALONY.

 For example, History of the World is AWFUL. 

Secular materials are not the same as atheist materials, and nearly-secular materials are not secular materials. So don't be fooled. I have been on various secular homeschool websites and people are quick to jump in and deny the use of the word atheist. In fact, several times I have experienced anger, insult, and effrontery when I dare to use the word atheist on those sites or when I insist on religion-free materials or content. 


I don't presume to speak for any other person except for myself, but my observation is that religious families who homeschool for secular reasons and with secular materials are a special group, completely different from atheist homeschooling. While I respect their choice to keep religion out of the minds of their children when homeschooling, in fact I celebrate that, still I refuse to allow atheist homeschoolers to pale in their midst. When on those sites I will post as an atheist without apology, without tenderfoot comments.
When secular homeschoolers claim that materials are secular with a little bit of religion, don't trust that. Perhaps these secular folks don't seem to appreciate the desire, the insistence of atheist homeschoolers to be totally and completely religion free. Because that is what atheist means.  

Secular is not enough.

Sorry....just ranting a bit at an old wound...


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

K-POP Fangirling

exo exo

If you are still confused as to why Elizabeth is absolutely obsessed with the K-Pop band EXO, (as well as zillions of other girls) watch this video! This video is a brilliant concept piece that they play on the massive screens before their shows. I'm sure that EVERY girl feels their personal attention:


Can you guess Elizabeth's bias?
Which is your favorite?
Which is mine? 
wink emoticon

If No One Ever Read My Blog

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I don't know who reads my blog. I can see statistics and things, but who really reads it? And why? Who would follow this blog? I've never followed another blog. 

Even without knowing the answers to these questions still I write again and again, a couple of times a week, and I have done so for over six years. I heat up my PC, grab something to drink, and start typing about what's on my mind. I share my heart, my mind, my doubts, my celebrations, the intimacy of my life.


But I wonder about this blog. If more people read My Own Mind blog would it be considered successful? If fewer people read the blog would it be considered unsuccessful? Would I define success as other bloggers do? Do I care about numbers of readers? I can tell you that, in some ways I do care when people read my blog posts when people leave comments; I care very much. It humbles me to know that people read my blog and receive connection.

Those few blog posts I've written that have had hundreds of thousands of views are the exceptions. Nearly all of my blog posts go by quietly and in obscurity. But I know that some readers and friends visit here regularly.


I got to thinking, what if no one read my blog, 
would I still write it?

Yes. 
I started writing the blog completely for myself and I still do, mostly. I started writing here because there were so many things that I couldn't write on Facebook, important and unimportant things that I felt that I had to keep to myself. Things that much of the world would actually condemn. I love having this blog  I do love having the eyes and hearts of people, even for a moment. But the important part of my blog for me is a reminder of what I celebrate each day with my kids. If not for this blog I know that I would forget so many things...this way I have a lovely journal of moments that my mind wouldn't otherwise hold onto. 

Of course I write the posts on atheist parenting and homeschool parenting and whatnot, but even those posts have special meaning for me. I write things that I wish I would have been able to read when I've needed it and it wasn't available to me. But my blog has more meaning to me.

And I've met some amazing people through this blog.

And of course and fame and fortune are nice. 
Keep reading, OK?

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Homeschool Anti-Bucket List: Part One

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What does the term Bucket List mean to you? I think of it as a catalog of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. It might be a list of things that you would want to do if there was a no-holds-barred approach to living life. No more responsibility, no more can't do, no more vital obligations to stop you from doing what a person wants to do. Those things that would bring delight, fun and joy, bliss, exhilaration, or pleasure. A bucket list. Let's think of it as a to-do list.

Therefore an anti-bucket list, it would seem, is a list of things that one would remove from their life that brings heaviness, doubt, or disconnect. A what not to do. Doesn't that sound good? Why wait? What do I want on my own personal homeschool anti-bucket list?

  I'm sure that some people would call it a Fuck It list rather than an Anti-Bucket List.  


My Homeschool Anti-Bucket List
  • Worry about external expectations - I don't know how much things that changed for new homeschoolers since we started homeschooling so long ago. Back in the day I felt so much pressure from everywhere around me to do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that. It was exhausting and completely unhelpful. Possibly I was experiencing the early growing pains of the homeschool movement, but I can tell you this, the external expectation were completely discouraging.

    Family members, the media, society at large. Everyone had input. I tried to listen to everyone and to take in the messages. But I found that fifty different people had fifty different opinions...yet I still didn't know what I wanted to do.

    Once I figured out how to let go of what everyone else thought I was able to target my own thoughts, those of my husband, the wants and needs of the kids, essentially the homeschool ethos of this family.

    Once I stopped listening...
    .
  • The need to meet school standards - The district standards, the common core, the current educational wisdom, standards of learning, STEM teaching, requirements of various states for high school graduation.

    The fact is, educational theory is continually learning and evolving. Ten different educators could have ten different approaches to learning and ten different theories of learning. That is good to know because it reminds us, parents who homeschool our children, that we are entitled to our own informed opinions and approaches to the important questions of education: What is learning? What are the best approaches to passing along information? How do we learn? What is necessary to learn? What are the best environments for learning? What is essential curriculum?

    The suggestion that one-size-fits-all, that a Utopian world is possible with centralized educational goals,  or that someone else is an authority of your child, even over your personal, informed knowledge...well, it just takes a bit of common sense to see that this approach is nonsense.
    .
  • Maintaining formal records - Not all states require formal record keeping of homeschool work. Book publishers have capitalized on this requirement and have designed dozens of different methods of maintaining records of work and lessons.

    Still every family probably keeps records in a different way. Who benefits from record keeping?

    Only organizations wanting to point fingers and XXXXX
  • Schedules - 
  • Meaningless paperwork - 
  • Getting Advice from Others - 
  • Feeling incompetent - 
  • Feeling like School at Home is Homeschooling -
  • Trying to please others - 

This is my list tonight. Next time I'll say more about the last few items on my Homeschool Anti-Bucket List. For know know that I'm openly calling out ridiculous and meaningless paperwork and criticism of the homeschool lifestyle.


......

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Homeschool: Reading the Classics

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For years I have been that person who is likely to be discovered outdoors reading under a tree, curled up with ice cold tea and a book, or disappearing into the couch...with a book. Even as a child I was quite a precocious reader, reading many classics quite early, at quite an early age. Even now I take pleasure is going down the Classics aisle at a book store and pointing out the many, many classics that have been a part of my voracious consumption of the words of others.

Often I think about this particular book that I read about half a dozen times when I was in second and third grade. I loved the book. It was about a girl who visits her cousins in Minnesota and who develops a sincere love for the country. If only I could remember the name of that book I would be delighted. As it is, I cannot remember its title but I attribute my love of apple dumplings to that book.  *wink*

As I've aged I have to own a growing awareness that gulping down books is not the same as giving them thought. Reading at the speed of sound does not guarantee a working grasp of themes. In fact, I can assure you that reading valuable literature with a still-maturing mind ensures an impaired understanding of literature and its deeper meaning.

I am exquisitely aware of the many, many, many books that I have devoured in my life that I cannot fully recall nor appreciate now. At some point during my thirties I began rereading some of the classics and appreciating them so much more than I did upon first consumption those many years ago and finding myself aware of my total lack of appreciation for a good many of the books I have read in the past.

I bring this up for several reasons.

First to express to myself, to my friends and to my readers how incredibly frustrated I am that in my course of reading as a child I didn't have a single person who took my interest in hand and guided me or helped me to appreciate what I was doing. Maybe I wouldn't have been open to a mentor at that time, I can't say. But I'm quite sure I would have still listened to and considered input from any adult who might have been interested in my book readin' appetite. But there was no one.

Secondly, I bring up my sincerely lacking career of reading because it is one of the main reasons that, today, I love talking to kids about what they are reading. Why they have chosen those books. What their thoughts on the reading are. What else interests them. What questions they might be left with after some books. How might the book connect to other things.  

And C, as a homeschooling parent of non-reading children I so wish my children were readers as I am. I will, on occasion, require reading from them. The last book I asked John to read was Hatchett by Gary Paulsen. He enjoyed it very much. Loved the story. Loved the adventure. But it did not spur further interest in him. I'm hoping his next book To Kill a Mockingbird does more for him. We all know that reading when one is not committed to it is sheer drudgery.

I have continued to see John write more and more these last weeks because he discovered on his own how satisfying, how empowering it is to put word to paper...document. I'm counting on that day when he discovers the satisfaction and empowerment of reading as well.


  The books along the right are just a few of the books I read   
  before I could truly understand them.



Edited to add: John is reading To Kill a Mockingbird and is LOVING it.



Edited March 23, 2016 with more thoughts 

I've been thinking about my own high school reading, the books required by various teachers. Think about your own high school reading list. Did you get them all? Did you appreciate them? Have you revisited any of them in adulthood and found that you missed out of the beauty of them during your teens?

Think about these titles. Can a teenager really appreciate what they have to offer?

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 
  • A Streetcar Names Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I've read all of these classics (and more) during my adulthood and they were WONDERFUL, as an adult. As a teen...not so much. 

I'm just saying...

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Matter of Faith

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omeschool .
.

Father, reading from his daughter's college Biology textbook: Humans came from ape-like ancestors. There was nothing supernatural about it..
.
Mother: How can they say that and get away with it?


This chilly afternoon I've been sitting and watching a movie on Netflix entitled A Matter of Faith. In this limited-release movie (read movie shown where invited), the darling daughter Rachel goes off to college and takes a biology class with a professor who has the temerity to teach biology instead of religion in his class. Rachel is confused by knowledge; she has never heard of this story before.

Rachel's father Stephen is very upset that Rachel seems to be moving away from religion. He goes to see Rachel's biology professor, concerned with the brainwashing going on in the biology class and Stephen ends up agreeing to debate the Professor on campus in an evolution/creation debate. 

In the meantime Rachel is experiencing her own conflicts on campus with nonbelievers and their insincerity, their egotism, their treachery, and their worldly behavior. She is surrounded by people she cannot trust, people who are not as they appear to be, and boys who have a hidden agendas, unspoken sexual plans for Rachel. Unbelievers are incredibly unpleasant.

Throughout Rachel's college struggles, the question postulated in her Biology class which came first, the chicken or the egg? continues to plague her. It's a truly vexing question. Fortunately, rescuing apologist friend Evan offers Rachel a convincing solution to this conundrum. The chicken came first. Because, according to Evan, Life does not come from non-life...like that egg. An egg is non-life, apparently. (Later on I know that that unborn chicken will be classified as LIFE by the pro-Lifers.) Rachel is very comforted by this call to faith because the thinking was bewildering. 

Yes, it is a true comfort to realize that even Rachel's great grandmother was not an ape.

The film climaxes with the very stirring Christian sermon at the campus debate. Not a single bit of moderating occurs during the debate, nor a single bit of actual debating, nor a single bit of true science offered by the biology teacher. And not a single mention of the fact that debating evolution and creation is an odd debate because evolution is a theory of change, not abiogenesis or the age of the earth or the big bang. But it is, rather, an emotional, triumphant music-laden call to faith and retreat from academia. Not to mention the usual cry of persecution of the faithful. My son was flipping the frick out.

In the end it's nothing more than a young Christian woman going to college and when challenged, having her father and the church sweep in and intensify the brainwashing.

And DAMNED if this movie didn't ruin Night Court for me too.

Free to Be

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When you find yourself moved by a book I think you should pass it on.

A few months ago my husband and I took the kids to an atheist convention called Skepticon. As we were walking in from lunch on the first day a friend of mine texted me and asked me to look out for a friend of hers at the convention. She told me that Kaleesha was there with her kids and with some other friends.

When my husband and I got into the venue a few moments later I was keeping an eye out for a single women with kids when someone tapped my on my shoulder. By the end of the night our kids were best friends and Kaleesha, Kaleesha's friend (who I will call Betty because she is not out and can not be out as an atheist), and I had embarked on a new and inspiring friendship. And BONUS, they all homeschool.

And it turns out Kaleesha later told me that she has been reading my blog for quite some time...and she totally knew who we were when she saw us at Skepticon, probably thanks to John John's blue hair.
Yes, Kaleesha was my first groupie.   ---------------------->

http://www.amazon.com/Free-Unhappily-Conservative-Atheistic-Paperback/dp/B00VGNTVTG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1458286255&sr=8-2&keywords=free+to+be+by+kaleesha+williams
Kaleesha is the author is a couple of books; I want to tell you about her book Free to Be. Both Kaleesha and Betty are survivors, apostates from a couple of very evangelical quiverful extremist churches. Kaleesha, in her inimitable way, has chronicled her very difficult and extremely necessary and inevitable deconverstion in this book Free to Be. The thing that makes this book different from other deconversion books is Kaleesha's personality...it comes out on every single page. By the time I got a couple of pages in I started sending Kaleesha love notes. (grin) She is so likable and honest and interesting and intelligent. 

With our kids becoming BFFs it wasn't long before we started spending extended periods of time together and I totally fell for her kids too. And for Betty's kids.

Faces of BFFs have been obscured because Betty and her kids have to stay
 in the atheist closet
because of the penitentiary of their past believing community.

All of our kids have truly become so meaningful to one another.

It is my honor to recommend Kaleesha's book Free to Be. And, please, if you read it, leave a comment here and on Amazon!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Guilty Pleasure and Escapism

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What a laugh!
I have been working on this blog post today when, to my delight, my best friend was working on her own blog post entitled Guilty Pleasures - Loving Ourselves. She posted on her blog This Time, This Moment about an hour ago...just as I was shutting down for awhile. I just reopened my blog and started looking at the segment on the left side of the blog entitled Blogs I Read When I Can and I saw Lara's post...made me laugh and made my day! 
What a pleasure!


You've heard the phrase Guilty Pleasure; perhaps you have used this phrase yourself. This afternoon I've been thinking about a conversation with a friend yesterday that has really stuck with me. A conversation about guilty pleasures.

Growing up in my family, in my efforts to please my parents and others, I often pretended to dislike things that I actually liked and to like things that didn't appeal to me. Why would I do this? Just for a bit of parental approval, I guess. I was very swayed by the opinion of others. But, as it happens, I must have convinced myself of these long-standing falsehoods too because into adulthood I've spent years rediscovering myself, rediscovering things that do indeed bring me pleasure. I acknowledge that, in fact, I find it difficult to label a thing as pleasurable.


I do know where the guilty part of guilty pleasures comes. Many strange messages spin around in my head and make it difficult to always understand where I stand on things. If not for my oddly dysfunctional family of origin and from the church, I might not struggle with such prisons of the mind. Even to this day I still have moments where I am able to free my mind of still-entrenched and hidden shackles. Shackles of the mind.

Romance movies watched repeatedly
While my dear friend and I were talking yesterday, one of the revelations that came to me in a moment of our conversation was a thing that has been stewing in my mind for decades:  the idea of escapism. When reading a great book, performing intricate hobbies, watching enchanting film, we often say that we are participating in such activities for reasons of escape. Escape from the drudgery of life, I assume, escape from boredom. Maybe escape to things too:  to felicity, to enjoyment, to bliss. I hadn't thought of that before.

In my home way back, such an idea as escaping from reality was harshly judged. I would never have admitted to such a sentiment as escapism. But while my friend and I were talking we began considering this idea and how absurd it is to avoid the pleasures of escapism and of guilty pleasures.

Why oh why should pleasure be guilty?

And so I have decided to eschew guilty pleasure. From this moment forward there are only pleasure. Open, honest, delightful. I reclaim the idea of doing things simply for the purpose of self care, self interest, self, luxury. 

So in the name of loving myself, claiming my pleasures as things that I will no longer feel guilty for enjoying, naming it and claiming it against the past forces of falsehood, and to join my gorgeous friend in her list of pleasures, here are some of my favorite things. Here are things that I enjoy!
  • Carol Burnett
  • Favorite romance movies watched again and again
  • Perfume
  • Scented soaps
  • Cheap romance novels
  • Naps
  • Sumptuous bedding
  • Relaxing in the bath
  • Reading in bed
  • Clean teeth
  • Freshly washed bed sheets
  • Poetry read aloud
  • Young Matt Dillon
  • Aiden Turner
  • Beautiful house plants
  • Going barefoot
  • Travel
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Coming home
  • Beautiful serving dishes
  • Daydreaming
  • A pot of tea
  • Receiving a bouquet of flowers
  • Robert Plant
  • Gorgeous fabric
  • Giving gifts
  • Autumn days
  • Game shows
  • Doris Day
  • Going to the theater
  • Poptarts
  • Used book stores
  • The dance scenes in Brigadoon
  • Stay Gold Ponyboy
  • Fine pens
  • Lipstick
  • Quilts
  • Barbra Kingsolver
  • National Geographic
  • A beautiful library
  • Snow days
  • Thick towels
  • Staying up late, alone
  • Musicals
  • Colorful pillows
  • Rare beef
  • Obsessing over favorite entertainers
  • Hideous, warm sweat pants
  • Lilacs
  • Family heirlooms
  • The "Look back at me" scene in North and South
  • Body art
  • Researching new things
  • Bette Midler
  • Ladies night out
  • Sherlock
  • The quiet of snow
  • Eating out
  • Old photographs
  • Cheesecake
  • Driving aimlessly
  • Lazy afternoons
  • Foreign films
  • NOT watching sports
  • A cup of tea
  • Harry Potter
  • Old books
  • Beaches and sea shells
  • Baking in the sun
  • Eating outdoors
  • Cotton candy
  • Live music
  • Bohemian elegance 
  • Coloring books
  • A good British mini-series
  • Beautiful glass drinkware
  • Gorgeous tea cups
  • Bragging about my children
  • Looking at my children
  • Just being with my children
THERE! Reclaimed!

  P.S. I LOVE YOU LARA!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum: High School

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I get alot of questions from friends and readers about what materials we use here at the house. Homeschooling parents tend to be amazing researchers and I'm sure that most of the questions come to me from parents who want the best for their kids. I'm happy to share the materials that we use with an important caveat.

I truly believe that every family homeschools differently and the materials that we have here at our home are our choices among the seeming infinite choices out there. Also, my homeschool philosophy might be a bit extreme for many homeschooling families. Although we have textbooks and lessons and assignments I lean to the unschooling side. That might seem contradictory, course books and instruction and unschooling, but I assure you that it is so.

John enjoys having structure to his lessons so I provide him with lesson plans, skill training, reading expectations, and other stuff. But what he actually accomplishes is almost never what I plan for him. The learning here is quite child/teen-led. 

But I'm happy with so many of the materials that we use here. The internet plays a tremendous role in our day. But here are the books and materials that answer the question:  What do YOU use?


High School


The high school years, the teen years, can be a wonderful time of growth and stretching and productivity. Don't fear it! Read the newspaper, science journals, watch the debates, follow the weather, take driver's ed classes, travel, attend lectures, visit every museum you can, read classic novels, watch stage plays, spend time on college campuses, dig into every single library available to you, create unique internships, expose your teen to unique people and ideas, research dissimilar values and ethics, watch foreign films and listen to unfamiliar music, lay hands on as many types of handiwork as possible. Use whatever resources you have available and create your own set of high school materials. 

You can do this!


Monday, March 7, 2016

Crappy Things My Kids Have Learned from Me

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I'm a good mom, really. I have figured out how to really be there for my kids, I've informed myself, I love and enjoy them, and I'm raising some gorgeous humans. But I'm also a bit of a mess and I've made about a zillion mistakes. While I've taught them math and writing and geography and coping skills and cooking and car care and political awareness and love for humanity I've also taught them some pretty crappy stuff.

Here's the First of the Crappy Stuff

For example, normal in my existence for as long as I can remember, my sleep patterns are truly abnormal in the world. Regardless of my hemisphere I sleep best during the day and I wake best at night. I've taught my kids this same pattern. How will this help or hinder them in their lives? I truly don't know.

Both of them can and do function normal hours anytime they need to, but their preferred hours are the same as mine. I have held many daytime jobs successfully and they have both done so as well. But it's a potential disadvantage, surely, just as it was for me. Elizabeth has been going to school and work and has kept daylight hours for about two years now, but I know that her nocturnal pattern will reemerge at some point. 

The Second

I say fuck.
I taught my children very early on that their word choice is up to them, that people will judge them for the words that they use and that it is within their right to say absolutely anything. If you say this then you have to absolutely mean it because your offspring will definitely push every envelope. I have heard so may words come out of their mouths that have shocked me. But I have also heard the most beautiful words and thoughts come out of their mouths...
Fucking beautiful stuff that makes it all worth the risk, worth the learning curve, worth the challenge of true, uncensored communication.

And Finally

I genuinely dislike cooking and I would prefer, any day, to go out to eat. It is far more costly to eat out, it is lazy, it is healthier to eat at home, it is more convenient to eat at home, and my husband would prefer it. But I go out several times a week. I sometimes think I dislike cooking so much because I became the family cook when I was twelve years old and my mom left the house, but I'm pretty sure I would still be allergic to the kitchen had that not happened. And my kids learned to think go out to eat when they are hungry.
.
.
I am pretty tidy. I serve generally healthy foods. I bathe regularly. I keep gas in the car. We're generally good. But I'm super imperfect. 
You probably are too. 

I refuse to feel bad about this stuff. I mean, life is weird and wild and beautiful and compelling and inconvenient. Jerry and I have created an imperfect little life. Not flawed, not incomplete, not schlocky, not subpar, not broken. Just imperfect and wonderful and lovely and ours.