Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Tree Decorating


Last night, we finally got around to putting up our Christmas tree. I say finally, because we'd been trying to do it since Saturday afternoon. And while one day plus an afternoon doesn't seem like that long in retrospect, at the time, it seemed like we'd never get it accomplished. You see, every night this week, I have suddenly and predictably inexplicably gotten quite exhausted around 7:30 or 8. It started Monday and carried on all week. I thought that perhaps my body was having a difficult time overcoming the illness we brought back from Oklahoma, but the fatigue was my only symptom. So, I thought perhaps I wasn't getting enough vitamin D. I upped my intake, but that didn't help. Saturday evening, after I had made cookies and muffins, and was ready to decorate the Christmas tree, I sat down to rest because I was incredibly tired. Then, I ordered the boys pizza and went to bed. At 7:30. It dawned on me with the morning sun yesterday morning that after a month of daily trips to Starbucks to write, I had not had any caffeine in nearly a week. Oooooh, yeah, that'll do it.


So, last night, we decorated the tree. We chose to not get a real tree this year. We all much prefer a real tree, but it really wasn't in the works this year. Quite frankly, they're heavy, and awkward, and labor intensive. I just didn't have the energy to invest in one this year. (Probably because of the lack of caffeine.) 



At any rate, the boys broke out our tree. They hung the beads after much searching, and untangling, a bit haphazardly perhaps, but who cares? I've given up on my obsessive need to control where everything goes on the Christmas tree, which makes my life much easier around this time of year. Sadly, Gabriel seems to have inherited this trait. He spent much of the evening talking about putting ornaments up evenly, and even attempted to make a case for removing the beads and putting them on again. 

Xavier is one of those people who is never still. It is hard to get a non-blurry photo with a camera phone.
I spent the time organizing our pantry. If I can't be in control of the Christmas tree, I must be in control of something. It looks pretty, all organized and stuff.


After I convinced Gabriel that the beads would be okay, the boys put the ornaments on, and spent quite a bit of time 'posing' for blog pictures. 




We take turns adding the Santa to the top of the tree. I'm not sure how Gabriel felt it was my turn. I'm sure it wasn't, but he was insistent. That Santa is rather special to me. Gary and I bought it our very first Christmas together 17 years ago. It's not really a Christmas tree topper, but it is hollow. We picked him up in a little store full of Christmas things in Chania. I wish had gotten more things while we were in Greece, but we were not focused much on decorating while we were there, mostly on each other.



After the tree was decorated, I made Chacon, a new family favorite for dinner. For those who wish to know, I sliced a chicken breast almost in half, stuffed some cheese in, closed the breast, wrapped it in bacon, and baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes. It was delicious. 


While the Chacon was cooking, we watched Unaccompanied Minors, which for some reason required the wearing of hats. Which, of course, meant I had to take more pictures. None of which were not blurry, because one of my children never stops moving. Never. Ever. 


And, just for fun, I included, for your viewing pleasure, some gratuitous shots of our pets. I didn't get one of our tom cat. He chose not to join me throughout the day, only gracing me with his presence at about 4 am this morning to tell me that I had not filled my bathroom sink with water for him to drink, which I promptly did in the dark, just to shut him up. (Yes, I know, you're saying what? Your cat drinks out of your bathroom sink? Really, they both love it, and we have two sinks in my bathroom, and if I don't put water in the sink, they sit there waiting for water to drip from the tap, whining all night.)



Sunday, December 1, 2013

Make Money On Cyber Monday


Tomorrow is Cyber Monday. Most online stores will be having fantastic deals. If you're planning to shop online tomorrow, or at any time ever again, you should sign up for Ebates. Ebates is a wonderful place on the internet, sort of like an adult Candyland. You sign up for free. Then, every time you shop online, be sure you access stores through their website. It's very easy. You just sign into Ebates and find your store on their website. They even have an app for shopping on your phone.


Sometimes, they have special coupons or free shipping. They usually have a percentage of cash back from your purchase. For instance, in the above picture, there is an offer for Living Social that gives 25% off your next purchase, plus 4% cash back. This offer is good until December 3rd. It's a great deal because this is in addition to the savings you already get by shopping through at Living Social.

You can use all your other promotions with the cash back. For instance, my mother got an 8% cash back offer for Kohls, and used that in addition to the 15% off the Black Friday deals she was taking advantage of for Christmas. She also got Kohls bucks. Since she was sending this gift long distance, she took advantage of Kohls' free shipping, and saved even more money.

If you'd like to save money this year, and you plan to shop online, be sure you take advantage of Ebates. Another tip I heard last year is that many grocery stores give special deals for gift cards. For instance, our local grocery store, Kroger, gives double points for gift card purchases. I can then turn around and use those gift cards to buy things through Ebates. This enables me to get cheaper gasoline, and save money on my Christmas gifts.

I try to purchase as much as possible locally, and make many of my Christmas gifts myself. But, if I do any online shopping, I try to remember to go through Ebates

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

*If you follow my links, I get a referral bonus if you make a purchase. I would love for you to follow my link, and share your own link with your friends and family. In this way, we can all save a little money this holiday season, and all year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Coffee

I don't really like coffee. Okay. Fine. I hate it. I don't even drink mochas. But I recently decided to start a coffee training regimen. Today, I had three mochas to stay awake as I drove. And I couldn't even taste an aftertaste by the middle of the second one. I think it's time to up the ante. Coffee tomorrow morning? Yeah, probably not. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

9 Things

Facebook is social media. It is all about knowing each other. I know a lot of people are irritated by Facebook memes. There were many people who detested the giraffe meme. (I'm not gonna change my picture just because someone says I got the answer to a question wrong. Besides, I disagree with the answer!) I don't understand the irritation. If you don't want to participate, don't. If you don't want to change your picture, don't. What's the big deal? I skip memes I'm not interested in, and jump whole heartedly into those I like. And, when I particularly like the meme, and I'm hard up for a blog post for NaBloPoMo, I'll let Facebook memes bleed over into blog land. I mean, what could be better than a detested Facebook meme making it into another part of the internet? So, today I present to you the (random number) of things you may not know about me. I do love to talk about me, after all.

1. I *love* the song "Blurred Lines" because it describes me perfectly as a teenager, that good girl who wanted to be bad. (Yes, I am aware of how many people think this is demeaning to women. I am who I am and this song speaks to me.)

2. I wanted to have a gaggle of children, at least 12. But we stopped, and sometime last year, I stopped wanting to have more children. I still have that urge occasionally, usually when I'm around very small children and babies. Which leads me to the admission that I like newborns better than any other age out there, adults included.

3. I desperately wanted to be black when I was a child. Those afros and that beautiful skin. No, really black, not tan. I wanted to be ebony.

4. When I was in the Navy, I had three nicknames- Bourbon (because it was a shortened version of my maiden name), Smiley (even people who'd never met me before called me this, ex gate guards), and Jerry (Because they said I looked like I had a jerry curl because my hair was so kinky and always wet.)

5. I have 3 tattoos. I got them all when I was 18, half a lifetime ago (literally). I do not regret any of them. They all have deep meaning for me. I want more. In fact, I plan to get more next year, at least two. All the tattoos I currently have are not visible if I am wearing pants or a skirt. The next two will be visible unless I'm wearing gloves and pants.

6. I want to sell all my worldly possessions (except maybe my knitting needles, paint supplies, and computer) and travel the world. On a similar note,  I love to be barefoot, and would prefer to spend the rest of my life in a tropical setting in order to facilitate this love.


7. I have dyed my hair blue, bright red, auburn, and black. I haven't been blonde since I was 8 and my hair got a tan. (I remember looking in the mirror and thinking my hair had achieved a great tan, better even than my skin, that summer.)

8. I have been writing since I was a kid, mostly horrible poetry and love songs, yet my spelling is still so awful that the computer frequently has no idea what word I'm trying to spell. Last week, I was trying to spell a word. I spelled it probably 10 different ways, and the computer could never figure out what I was trying to spell. Most of the time it had "no suggestions." Later that day, Gary sent me a blog post that contained that word. Really, Gary? You're such a show off with your spelling and Scrabble skills. It is really sad how abysmal my spelling is. I have a fantastic vocabulary, and I can't play Scrabble to save my life.

9. Since I left home at the age of 17, I have lived in seven states, Washington D.C., and Greece. Of all those places, I cannot think of one where I would not live again. But the world is so incredibly big, and there are so many places to explore and people to meet that it would be difficult to move back to one of those places I've already been.

Play along in the comments! Tell me about yourself. I'd love to get to know you better.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

When Religion Hurts

I had planned a lighthearted post for today, but something happened tonight that changed my mind. Some things need to be said.

Our family has struggled to find our place in the homeschool community in a part of the country where the majority of homeschoolers are Christians who don't want us to participate in their activities. This summer, a couple other moms and I set about putting together a teen group for secular homeschoolers. This doesn't mean there aren't any Christians in our group. Rather, religion is not central to the group.

Tonight, while those teens were off being themselves, religion got brought up. It doesn't matter how it happened. I am of the strong personal opinion that teenagers should be able to discuss religion.

However, there is a right and a wrong way to discuss religion. Any way that hurts another person is the wrong way to discuss religion. Let me repeat this. Any way that hurts another person is the wrong way to discuss religion.

My children have some pretty strong views about religion. Unfortunately, those views have mostly been formed because of pain inflicted on them by religious people, which means those views are very negative. I refuse to allow my children to speak in a hurtful way about religious people for two reasons. First, not all religious people are like those who have hurt them, not even those of the same religion. Second, when you get in a habit of speaking poorly about someone or something, you will eventually hurt someone, even unintentionally, because you will speak poorly about that person or thing in the presence of someone who can be hurt by your speech.

I do not know exactly what was said. I do know that at least some offhand remarks were made that were hurtful to one of the few Christians in the room. And this leads to my point. There is a wrong and a right way to talk about religion. First, both parties must be fully in agreement that the discussion should be taking place. Second, both parties must always be respectful of the other's beliefs, or disbeliefs. Third, at no point should derogatory comments be made.

Religion is deeply personal. It is something that transcends all other aspects of life. Even for those of us with no religion, it is a deeply held, personal disbelief system. And being disrespectful about someone's religious beliefs is not okay, no matter what their religious beliefs are.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meanwhile, Over in La La Land

Many things were said today that I never thought to hear come from my sometimes prudish children. I'm going to share three with you, because, well... I've been sick, and they made me smile. Warning- some not so great language is involved.

"Bugger off... please." Oh yes, the please makes it all better. And, really, where did my child learn that phrase? British television perhaps?

"That's bad ass." While this is one of my favorite phrases, I've never heard one of my children say it. Apparently, it is a phrase this particular child uses on a regular basis, just not in my hearing. Since my rule about cursing for my children has always been that they may curse so long as they understand when it is okay to curse, I am okay with this. After all, this particular child was in the middle of a D&D game, his first since GenCon. Of course everything was bad ass.

"I think they just take vacations every once in a while to hook up." This from my most prudish child, when asked how the Amazons perpetuated their race.

I'm almost positive I'm not high on meds, but quite frankly, I'm not sure. These could all have been figments of my imagination. After all, not only am I on sinus medication, but I've been drinking espresso. The two together, I'm sure, have given me a bit of a high. Combine all that with the giddiness my children felt when I told them they were going to be playing D&D, and you've got a lethal combination.

To top it off, on the way home, one of my children said very slowly, "Buuullll Shark." Well, okay then. Apparently, he was actually talking about sharks, but the way he said it, I thought something else was coming out of his mouth. Well, wouldn't you, considering the rest of my day?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Importance of a Good Education

Two things shaped my views of education while I was growing up.

1) I grew up with a father who was interested in everything. He never graduated from college, but he took classes the entire time I was growing up. He didn't always take those classes to increase his earning potential. Sometimes, he took them because he wanted to learn. Certainly, he figured out a way to get the fire department to pay for them, but if we're being completely honest, he was really just taking the classes because he wanted to take them.

And he liked to discuss things. Everything. We talked about all sorts of things when I was growing up, history, science, literature, politics, philosophy, current events, religion, you name it, we talked about it. I grew up in a family that valued education for education's sake.

2) I read a lot of Louis L'Amour when I was growing up. Two of his books had a huge impact on my educational philosophy, The Walking Drum and The Lonesome Gods. In both these books, the main character engages in providing himself with an education by reading, discussion, and debate. In fact, despite the fact that both these books are about warriors, education is a primary pursuit of the main characters. Louis L'Amour always made education part of his books, even if it was just an offhand mention of how a cowboy could only carry one book in his saddle bags, so books were valuable in the west.

Then, today, I heard someone on the radio say, "Why does an electrical engineer need to know the history of Europe." I almost ran off the road. I wanted to call that radio station and answer his question, but I couldn't because I was driving, so I'm going to answer it here.

You need to know the history of Europe because Europe is a part of this earth. We all need to know the history of the world we live in. The history of a people and culture shapes the society and the way the people in that society think to this very day. It is this knowledge that allows us to further our world in ways that can only benefit all of us.

But why, you ask, do I need to know this if I'm not going to be a diplomat? The answer is simple. We need an informed electorate. If we do not know our history, if we ignore science, if we sublimate our awareness of current events, if we do not care about our neighbors, be they local or on the other side of the world, we cannot make informed decisions about our elected representatives. And our world desperately needs us to make informed decisions.

I wish that we valued education for education's sake more. We have an entire culture built on the idea that the only thing worth pursuing is a career. We no longer pursue ideas, rather only money. We are living a life based on subsistence, never reaching beyond the mental stimulation needed to learn more. It is frustrating to me that I have to search far to find people who want to have those deep discussions. I am lucky that I have friends who are willing to learn, grow, and discuss. We need a people, and entire population passionate about the world around them. And that, my friend, is why we all of us need to know history, science, literature, current events, and philosophy. Keep learning. Keep growing, until you find something you can be passionate about. Then, come back and argue with me about it. Chances are, I'll be passionate with you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Victory

One of the things that we had to do rising through the ranks toward black belt was define victory. Over the last few years, my definition of victory has changed. There for a while, it was not dropping any potatoes in the trash can while peeling them. I've gotten pretty good at that.

Then, it changed to getting through a class without having a breathing episode. Once I realized that there was something wrong that I couldn't fix, victory changed to figuring out what was wrong.

This month, victory has been defined by staying on top of my word count for NaNoWriMo. I mean, I have crawled out of bed and written first thing in the morning every day except Saturday, when, as Gabriel put it, I had a man cold.


I have to admit that I am a horrible, horrible patient. I put that man cold to good use though, and gave the heroine in my story a man cold.

I am 18 days into NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, and I have written and blogged every day. I would say that I'm a sucker for punishment, but I've actually managed to marginally stay on top of my other obligations at the same time.

How are you defining victory these days?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thirteen Years

Fourteen years ago, your father and I were in love with this little boy, this amazing little boy who was our entire world. And we looked at him and thought, "Gosh. Wouldn't it be great to have another kid just like him?" And so we did. But, you were nothing like him!


You came out with a head full of black hair, and skin dark red. You looked just like Papa, and you had a mind of your own. You put yourself on a schedule within two weeks of being born.


From the day you were born, you confused me. Your brother had been easy to please. Pop a boob in his mouth and he was good to go. You, well, you wanted to nurse to eat then go about your way. It was confusing because you still wanted to suck. You required a pacifier. And so you had one. I suspect that even at the ripe old age of 2 days, you didn't have time to have your face pressed against another person's body. You needed to see what was going on.



Your first word was 'Gabriel' and I was so disappointed. But of course it was. You were just as in love with your older brother as we were. You followed him everywhere. You quickly realized that if he wasn't paying attention to you, a quick bop on the back of the head would have him chasing you, and you took full advantage of that ability.



When you were 2.5, I made a realization that was not a happy one at the time. You react differently to medicines than the rest of humanity. Oh yes, all those things that cause me to go to sleep immediately, send you racing around the house like a mad man.


Shortly after that, I gave birth to your baby. You acted like Dominic was the best gift I'd ever given you. The look of awe on your face when you saw him still makes me tear up every time I see the pictures.


When you were 3, you had an invisible motorcycle. We know you modified it because it was loud. You definitely took that muffler off. One night, while I was nursing your baby, I told you it was time for bed, and you should park your motorcycle. I can still picture your little blonde head as you ran around the nursery and said, "Oh no! Something's wrong. My brakes must be out. But, don't worry, Mom! I installed a parachute in case of something like this." Then, you pushed your emergency parachute button and said, "Oh no! It's not deploying! Something's wrong! I can't make it stop."


You were an excellent driver at the age of 3. Our next door neighbors had one of those little motorized Jeeps. It was a two person vehicle, and really made for older kids. Your feet could barely touch the pedals, but those girls loved you and put you right in the driver's seat when you wanted to get there. You could parallel park that thing within moments of pressing on the pedal for the first time. And your love of speed was born in that moment.


When you were 5, you went to kindergarten. You had a love/hate relationship with school. You loved being with the other kids, but detested school. When you got home each day, you would spend 2 hours literally bouncing off the walls. You would run back and forth in the living room bouncing from one wall to the other until you'd burned off all your excess energy. Then you would have a peanut butter sandwich. I'm pretty sure you ate about 1,000 peanut butter sandwiches that year.


You have always loved helping. You helped Pepère stack wood, Dad cut wood, and you hammered nails into that deck like there was no tomorrow. You're still helping. You put more time into the floor than anyone other than Dad.


When we went to Florida for the first time in 2008, you found a love for board games, especially Monopoly. I'm not sure how many times we played while we were there, but I can only be thankful for the next door neighbor who gave us the game. You now have multiple Monopoly games, and have found an everlasting love of all board games.


I'm not sure how old you were when you discovered Google, but it has been a love affair ever since. I remember getting up in the middle of the night after we'd all gone to bed to find you sitting in front of the computer looking things up. You would have gone to bed, thought of a question, and gotten up to discuss it with your best friend. You used to tell me that Google was your best friend. You certainly spent enough time with Google to make that true.


You started watching Doctor Who, what? two years ago, last year? This love affair has been much stronger than your romance with Google. After all, there is swag to be had with Doctor Who. There are friends to be made that share your passion. You are a Whovian of the first order. And it has been so fun to watch your passion for all things Who grow. Within months of watching your first episode of Doctor Who, your closet door was painted blue, and you had changed your wardrobe to include only things from Doctor Who.



But in August, something happened. You got swept into a world that is stronger than any other I have found. You started playing Dungeons & Dragons. That Saturday of GenCon, you sat down to play your first game, and didn't get back up from the table without coercion until we had to go home Sunday. Had our hotel been connected to the gaming center, I imagine you would have spent most of the night at the tables. You were the first one in line Sunday morning to play, and one of the last to leave Sunday afternoon. That's not to say that your Doctor Who passion has lessened, just that you've added another passion to it.


This brings me to what I love most about you. You are passionate about everything. You are stubborn, loving, and most of all, passionate. I love the way you throw yourself full tilt at everything you try. There is no halfway for you. You're in or out, and usually, you're in. I love that passion. Hang onto it, my son, and happy 13th birthday! We're so lucky to have you in our lives!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

To the Boy Next Door


I woke up with a sore throat this morning, and I've spent the day lazing about my bed slipping in and out of sleep. All day I've heard you singing. And it's reminded me not to be grouchy at my children  for their laughter that has woken me up when I've least wanted to be awake.

Your family moved into the house next door 11 months ago. Within the first month, they had built a tall fence to keep you from leaving the yard, and a swing set to keep you happy. And every day, rain or shine, snow or heat, I hear your song.

We had such high hopes when the moving truck pulled into the driveway that there would be friends moving in next door. You see, you and your brother are the only children my children's age on the street. When you came next door to swing on our swing, we quickly learned that you were non-verbal. When you came into our home and left again without us even knowing, we learned that you needed protection. And every day, I hear your song.

Some days, I sit on my front porch and lecture my children for some irritant, usually their choice to not do their chores. We work and toil in the heat to clear the weeds. We laugh and cry. We are a family. And every day, I hear your song.

Sometimes, when I hear your song, I am thankful that I do not have the struggles that your parents do, that I can speak to my children, and have to speak to me. But most of the time, I am just thankful that I get the chance to experience the joy that you bring to my day. The joy that swinging so obviously brings you. I am thankful that you have parents that send you outside to swing in the dark before the bus comes in the morning. I am thankful that when I wake up, the first thing I get to hear is your joy. And every day I hear your song.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When I Became a Hippie

The summer after my 13th birthday, we moved to Walterville, a tiny town outside Springfield, Oregon. We lived there for a pivotal 9 months of my youth before we moved back to Oklahoma. It was pivotal because I was introduced to a different subset of American society. Oh yes, I was introduced to hippies.

My cousin is allergic to cow's milk and was drinking soy milk long before it was cool. Because of this, he shopped at this tiny store in the hills outside Springfield. I remember going there to get milk for Jack. The store was run by a hippie couple and was the beginning of my dream of living off the grid. That's not to say they were living off the grid, but they were definitely counter culture, following their own dreams. 

I met a couple homeschooling their daughters who had built their own house from trees they cut down off their land. And that was the beginning of me wanting to build my own house. I mean, how can a person not  want to build their own house?

But, the most significant thing that happened was going to a school where the teachers told stories about the '60s and '70s, the students were children of hippies, and the culture was both intellectual and flower child. One of my teachers told stories about students running and dancing naked in the rain on the school grounds, high on LSD. 

My biology teacher introduced me to environmentalism in a way that all the rhetoric of the environmental movement could not. He introduced me to biology, our impact on our environment from a scientific point of view. It was not about global warming. It was about our immediate impact on our environment. And it stuck. His lecture on the impact of clear cut logging on rivers sticks with me to this day. It was especially powerful because one of my good friend's father was a logger and the logging industry was in a huge fight over the spotted owl.

But, I think the reason this time in Oregon had the biggest impact on me was because of how involved the students were. Here was a group of teenagers that cared about the political scene. That fight over the spotted owl was fought in classes and the cafeteria. My friends and I made signs and stood outside the fence at lunchtime protesting the first Iraq war. (What? You didn't realize I was a peacenik?) The students truly believed they could make a difference, that their opinions mattered. And that was the only place I lived where that was true.

I moved back to Oklahoma and the schools were not the same. Students were not engaged in the story of the world. But I was forever changed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ripping the Bandage Off

I'm a rip the bandage off sort of person. When I joined the Navy, I walked into the recruiter's station less than a week before I left for boot camp. I married Gary less than 6 months after meeting him (not that marrying Gary was difficult or painful, just quick). I decided to homeschool less than a month before we began homeschooling. I moved out of my parents house on a whim. It doesn't take me long to make a decision. I play games at the speed of light. If it were only people like me playing Risk, we would finish the game in under an hour.

Gabriel is the exact opposite. He is ponderous in his decision making. He looks at every angle of an equation. And driving has been a difficult decision for him to make. It's a decision he didn't want to make. Today, I told him we were ripping that bandage off. Sometimes, a mom just has to help her child do something she knows he should.


And can I just say that it is painful that my baby is old enough to drive? Painful.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday

I have been doing a lot of writing, but sometimes I get stuck and my brain needs a break. During those times, I knit. So far this month, I've made five hats, and started working on a blanket and a shawl. Then, today, I put both those projects aside because I was writing a Christmas scene in my book, and decided I wanted to make myself a Christmas blanket. I am trying very hard to use up yarn out of my stash for two reasons. One is that buying yarn gets expensive. I should totally use what I already have, don't you think? The second is that we want to sell our house next year, and move to a smaller place. It's time to downsize my craft supplies. I'm considering selling some of my supplies. Stay tuned for info on that if I decide to. I am definitely going to be giving away some of my romance books. That'll be fun.
Rainbow Shawl

Squishy Blanket

Squishy Christmas Blanket

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Homeschooling Ambassador




This is a post I wrote last year. I am republishing it because it needs to be said again. Homeschooling is not for everyone at all times, but it is right for us right now. I am thankful that we are able to homeschool, and I hope that I always will be.

Several times each year, I get asked questions by people I know, or barely know, about homeschooling. They want to know my opinion. They want advice. They want me to help them along the path of homeschooling.

And every single time, I want to say, "Run away. Run away!" It's not that I don't like homeschooling. I do. I love homeschooling. Except when I don't. When I don't love homeschooling, I hate it.

Being a stay-at-home mom is very different from being a homeschool mom, at least for me. For example, if my children were in school, I could do my housework, then weave, knit, paint, sleep, blog. I miss being able to do my grocery shopping during the day. I wouldn't be solely responsible for the outcome of their education. Were they in school, I could blame the school system on anything that went wrong with their education. Ah, the bliss of being able to blame others for results you don't like!

But here's the deal. Those are all selfish reasons for not wanting to homeschool. I have just as many selfish reasons for enjoying homeschooling. I get to spend time with my kids, time I would not have with them otherwise. I don't have to help my kids with homework (shudder). I know exactly what my children are learning. I know when my children are struggling and when they're excelling. If we want to take a vacation at an odd time of year and avoid the crowds, we can. I don't have to advocate for my child with anyone but myself.

Homeschooling isn't all roses and ice cream for the students, either. You have to be with your mom all. Day. Long. If that weren't enough, your mom knows exactly what you're doing all the time! It can be harder to make friends since you're not consistently with other children. There's no competitiveness like there is in school. (This was from Gabriel, who apparently feels the need to compete with other students.) The parents and children will be together all the time, which can be detrimental to their relationship if they get in an argument. (Again from Gabriel.) You're with your family more often.

On the other side of the fence, homeschooling is wicked good. You get to stay at home during the day. You get to be with your family more often. You get to pet your cat. You can learn as fast or as slow as you need to. You have some freedom with what you can do for school. Although there are the basics that homeschoolers have to do, they can choose what they want to add on. You can set an end goal as to what you want to accomplish at the end of the year, then go about it the way that works best for you. Some students respond to more structure, others respond best to less structure, and you can find what works for your student. (This portion of the post was written by Gabriel.) The child has the opportunity to learn so much more than they would in school. After all, they aren't weighed down with things they've already learned, discipline problems, and rules that seem odd to them. If they have to have a late night out, they can sleep later the next day without it interfering with their learning. They can truly learn instead of memorizing a bunch of facts to spit out on a test. They don't have to worry about standardized tests. Oh, the pressure of those standardized tests. But, that's a completely separate post.

Let's face it. The benefits my children and family get from homeschooling far outweigh the cons. There's very little chance of me wanting to stop homeschooling. But, if you catch me in the middle of wanting to do mom stuff instead of teacher stuff, or me stuff instead of kid stuff, or agonizing over lack of friendships for my children, you won't get the homeschool ambassador. Come back the next day and you might get to talk to the ambassador instead of the guard.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

I didn't grow up in a military family. I find it mildly humorous how many of my friends did. I didn't grow up in a military family, but I did.

Certainly, I thought I was grown when I joined the Navy at the ripe old age of 17. Little did I know how much growing I had left to do. And I grew up in a military family, just not one made up of my blood relatives.

My older brother joined the Army at the age of 17, before he finished high school. I joined the Navy less than a year after I graduated from high school. And my younger brother joined the Marines when he was 17.

Between the time I left for boot camp at the age of 17, and was discharged from the Navy at the age of 20, I had lived in three states, and one country. I had a Med Cruise under my belt, with visits to three different countries, a scare from pirates, and multiple runs from Spain to off the coast of Africa to refuel ships supporting the evacuation of the Libyan embassy. I had been raped, and devastated by the betrayal of friends. I had fallen in love and gotten married. And I still had not finished growing up.

In the 16 years since I left the Navy, I've been a military wife for all but 2 months. It has been awful and it has been glorious, and I do not regret even a moment of my life with the military. I've made more friends than I can possibly count, and learned so much about the character of the people who server our military, and the people who support them in the background.

Over the last 16 years, we've moved 9 times. Twice, we had a baby less than a week old. Once, I was hugely pregnant. Each time we moved close to military personnel, we were overwhelmed with support, frequently from people we'd never even met. When we moved on base, people saw the truck and came over to help unload it. Just like that. Because the military is a family, and I grew up in it.

Last month, my oldest child learned what it truly means to be part of the greater military family. I sent him away for a week, and while away he stayed for a night with a woman we mostly know from the internet. We've only actually met her once. We met through the military blogging community. She's moved 3 times since I moved here. Her husband is deployed; she has four young children; her parents were in town. Yet, even with all that going on, when I asked her to take care of my son while he was in town, she said, "Of course."

This is the family I've grown up in. A family that has each others' backs, not just on the field of war, but on the home front as well. Today, I am thankful for my military family. I am thankful for all the veterans, for the soldiers serving to protect our country at this very moment. And I am thankful that I got to be a part of it all.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On Frustration

My heart is pumping
Faster and faster.
My hands cover my face.
My hair is wild from pulling.
Chores are getting done.
Because I'm stuck.

My book is giving
Me fit after fit.
The words are not flowing.
The frustration is mounting.
Words on paper.
That's my goal.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NaNoWriMo & NaBloPoMo Update

We are a full 9 days into NaNoWriMo. Up until yesterday, I had written consistently every day. Yesterday, I packed up my child and headed to my writing place to write.

I've been writing at Starbucks because I felt the need to have a place that signaled to my brain that I was doing something different. It's worked well, and yesterday should have been no different. Sadly, I walked into Starbucks and the whole store had been changed. Who does that to a person?

Starbucks quickly made it into my story, with an entire chapter devoted to my main character's dislike of change. But, I only wrote a few lines of that chapter before I started having an allergic reaction to something I had eaten. I quickly took some Benadryl to counteract the reaction, and that was the end of my writing. Really, it was the end of my day.

I managed to get us home and was asleep before my head hit my pillow. I only slept a short time, but was sleepy and unable to focus the rest of the day. I only got about 500 words written.

Today, I woke up at 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. So, I wrote. I got about 500 words written before I started getting sleepy. I went back to sleep for another hour. Since then, I've gotten another 2000 words written, completely making up for the words I missed yesterday.

I'm now setting a goal about 1000 words higher than I had before. I'd like some play in my schedule later in the month.

I'm also thinking I need to preschedule a few blog posts in case something like yesterday happens again.

Oh, and I know I said I wouldn't be making a hat every day, but I've come close. I've found that taking writing breaks to knit for a while helps me think. And those hats are going fast.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Group Project

An out of town family member had a birthday and asked for a blanket for his birthday. This request was made after his birthday. I knew he just wanted me to buy him a blanket and send it to him, but that's not how I work. You can't make a request like that one and expect to get something from the store. I went through my fabric and found a large enough piece of black fleece to make him a blanket. We all sat down together and made him a blanket.







periodic table blanket

Since we were in a hurry, and the blanket needed to be compactable, we didn't make him a quilt. Instead, we just sewed squares of fabric on top of the fleece blanket we'd made. We included a few extra elements, including Bubblegumium, OneUpium, and Adimantium. I'm quite happy with how well this quick project turned out.

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