Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

I have never, not once, reblogged anything. That should tell you how critically important I think this topic is.

As if No Child Left Behind wasn’t bad enough, now we have Common Core. I am loath to think good things about anything forced on folks without full revelation on conversation about the contents.

Here again, we are being bamboozled.

Here again, we’re being forced to accept something unknown and being told to “trust.”  I have my own conspiracy theories 😉  but seriously – that exchange? Can anyone say Delphi Technique (Wikipedia doesn’t give a complete picture- it’s not just about group function, and really, it’s quite effective one-on-one) in action? Gee, gas light much? If I wasn’t on my phone, I’d paste a link. Go look it up. It’s important.

It’s abhorrent that the government is tracking our kids like this. It’s no surprise, though. I’ll take a stand and say I don’t think the government-particularly the FEDERAL government has the right to mandate any kind of education for our children. It is not its place.

If you care about your children, their futures, and the future of our nation, do more than read this.

Tell your friends.

Get involved.




Children for Sale

By Alyson Williams

No more decisions behind closed doors!  Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.


In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children.  It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No  other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was  complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d  heard about it.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common  Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!

Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this  decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free…

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Tears of release;

Weep with relief.

God On High be praised;

Peace in my soul renewed.

His handiwork shines;

And reminds that it is all Him……………………….


I don’t remember a mortgage being quite like this; ever. If you’ve been reading along, you will know I’ve been doing some head banging. Ok, well, not really. I haven’t just been doing some head banging- I’ve been doing A LOT of head banging. So much so, that I’m pretty sure I have a sizable dent in my forehead.

The requirement changing that I referenced in one of my last posts was just one of the bumps in the road. You may {or may not} be aware of the factors that are taken into consideration for mortgage approval.

One of the things they most look at is what’s called “debt-to-income ratio.” In a nutshell, they want to make sure you aren’t overextended and can actually PAY for the mortgage.

You may think this sounds like common sense, and really, it is. You may be surprised, though, at the number of people who go into mortgages not having a clue what they can really afford- which is NOT the same as what they can qualify for- and then {in the past, before the new regulations} would totally over-extend themselves.

Before the housing bust and collapse, a certain amount of “high risk” mortgages were mandatory. I’m pretty sure that’s come back to bite them in the butt.

SO many people were upside down in their mortgages, and couldn’t sell because the property was now over –valued and wouldn’t appraise. Then, many of those same people had either balloon payments coming due or had an ARM {adjustable rate mortgage} mortgage and had been paying basically the interest on the mortgage with the lock-in-rate coming due.

Many people had planned on having a low payment {or one they could afford} for 5 years then using the equity in the house to refinance at the end of the term, which would allow them to not pay PMI (mortgage insurance). Some people planned on selling the house {with all that extra equity} before their mortgage was set to get locked in; using the profit as their next down payment, and getting a regular monthly payment they could afford.

But the market tanked; home values went in reverse, and a lot of people wound up in houses with regular long-term locked-in monthly mortgage payments they couldn’t afford. When that happened, houses were foreclosed if the bank wouldn’t accept a short-sale, or they couldn’t get the house sold despite listing as a short-sale and still ended up in foreclosure and losing their homes.

Now what we’re seeing are regulations that are super, super stringent. I have heard horror stories of people who were self-employed with histories of consistent income with enough in reserves and other accounts in addition to funds for down payment and closing costs that couldn’t qualify because they couldn’t “prove” where their income for the last 5 years came from because they didn’t hang on to hard copies every single incoming penny.

I have heard all kinds of stories about people who have had closing dates and then couldn’t close for some odd-ball reason; I’ve heard about people who actually did close but then the bank didn’t transfer the funds to them which then delayed their move-in date.

It’s just been strange.

The point here being that all kinds of things are unusual trying to get mortgages these days, and it’s my opinion that it’s particularly so when you don’t have your other house sold. 😀

To keep our debt-to-income ratio where we wanted it to be for the two houses, we went ahead and got rid of a monthly payment. For the last few years, I’ve been paying this account electronically {as I do all my bills} and it *always* clears and is credited to my account in 2 days. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Except this time. Nope, this time- you know, the ONE time I NEEDED to have it paid on time- they completely lost the money.

Yep. They sure did.

And it wasn’t just a regular-monthly-payment amount of money. *sigh*

A week after it still hadn’t posted to my account, I started getting mad. My bank showed it had been paid and cleared my account. But the receiver of the money had no record of it.

That resulted in considerable phone calls back and forth with my bank so they could trace the money; and also numerous calls back and forth to the other place.

Then there were faxes. Paperwork needed to be sent to them with requests to different departments on the receiving end; all of which had to be signed. They needed “proof” from my bank that showed they had received the money. Because I don’t have fax capability, that meant that Hunny had to take time out of his massively busy schedule to do it. Blarg.

This one little piece of the puzzle was going to screw up everything else! And by that, I do mean everything.

What hinges on an on-time closing? Let me tell you….. The day we close (Thursday), I have my floor guy coming in to begin refinishing the floors. That won’t allow for carpet to get in until the following Thursday. That’s arranged, too.

The carpet takes two days (Thursday and Friday) and the semi with my furniture comes Saturday.

Because my house is getting loaded {and has some remaining packing} and delivered here, that means someone has to be there to let them in and supervise. That means 2 plane tickets back- flying there on Saturday and then flying home here on Wednesday. Oh- and a car rental.

Do you see all the moving parts to this? 😆

It’s what I call the “domino effect.” Have you ever tried to stop falling dominoes? What happens? Things get knocked all caddywhompus and it’s near impossible to straighten them out.

If I don’t close on time, I can’t get my floors done on time. If the floors don’t get done as planned, that pushes carpet back. If carpet gets pushed back, my stuff will have to sit on a truck, if they let us.

Why else am I so concerned about my timeline? Well, gosh, if you haven’t heard- there was a hurricane. While it didn’t hit us directly {although the Outer Banks got hit pretty hard} because we’re about an hour and a half inland, that means that availability of supplies could be an issue if we are delayed.

And then that might mean another few days in the campground, because our month will be up. Those extra days are paid at a significantly higher price. We’ve talked about moving the trailer to the house and plugging in there, even though we can’t get in because the floors can’t be walked on, but the sticking point is laundry.

We’re doing numerous loads during the week. It’s nice doing them here because we can get them started and just check back, instead of having to literally sit there all day.

We found the local laundromat- they call them “wash houses” here. Not only do most of the machines not work, but they don’t have any hot water. So, laundry is an actual concern. Hunny wants me to get an rv washer/dryer combo, because we have two sets of hookups in the house {even though the bottom floor hookups are in a spot where the floors are being redone} and we may go that route, although I’m not sure how that will work when during the week they are redoing the floors.

In the midst of all of this, I have the cleaning that I can get to, and getting ready to paint. The plan is to get most of it in one fell swoop so we don’t have to make repeated trips 25 miles away, one way. Lots and lots of organizing; lots and lots of trips for supplies need to be orchestrated; working around contractors.

Next week, I need to get all my utilities started. I very much feel like this is the calm before the storm. I’ll be relieved when the whirlwind is over, but this definitely falls into the ‘the only to get to the end is to go through it’ category.

Tomorrow, we blessedly get to do something “normal,” as we’re going on a homeschool field trip to a farm. They’re giving a tour of- you guessed it– a chicken coop. 😆 I am seriously hoping my kids won’t hijack the instructor. 😆

It’s the last little relaxed day of fun before things seriously get wound up. Hang on to your hats!

Yesterday, I had Gaga {Lady} running through my mind.


This morning, after getting news about travel arrangements, this was the song that came to mind: Shout to the Lord {Hillsong/ Darlene Zschech}.


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No, not like that. Nope, not like that either. (Sheesh, people!!) 😆

I have been putting this off for like, a year. Maybe even more. Not just because of the time and effort involved, but mostly because I’m scared. In many ways, I am a creature of habit.

I have my own method of organization, and I see it in my head, where everything is stashed. I like to avail myself of all the options, and the last time I went down, things didn’t work right on the other side. It worries me to think I’ll lose something I need or things won’t work the way I want them to, because that makes me frustrated.

And I’ve put up with it for what- 3 or 4 years now? My level of frustration has been increasing to the point where I’m spending more time being frustrated than being productive. When things start coming to a standstill more often than not, I have to admit it’s time, and just bite the bullet and go down………….

Yep. It’s time to rebuild the laptop.

The last time we did this, the computer was new. I decided against a Mac (silly me) because my web design software was PC based, and I didn’t want to have to the big $$$ on new software, particularly after getting a new sooper dooper PC. Well, that blew up in my face.

After numerous installs, including re-doing my ITunes a gazillion times (literally, hours and hours and hours several consecutive weekends because I was moving IN to ITunes and hadn’t migrated all the music over from Windows), it became pretty clear that my old Dreamweaver (Macromedia MS) was not going to play nicely with my new laptop at 64 bit.

Here’s something I learned about design software- much of the time, if you are homeschooling, you can get a deeply discounted rate. Pretty neat, eh? Because I had a new PC, that’s the version of Adobe CS4 I ended up with. NOT the way I had hoped things would work out, but too late to do anything about it. I had been wanting to switch to a Mac for a long time, but the stars aligned against me, and it was not to be. Boo.  😦

In the years and years of having Windows machines, we’ve learned a few things.  One big thing we learned was that every year or two, you’d get to the point where things were running soooooo terribly that it was hard not to pitch the whole thing out the window. The solution we came up with early on was to totally rebuild the OS.

Now, I don’t do any of that, because y’all know I have this fantastically magnetic personality, right? I know I’ve talked a little bit about this, but this is a serious problem around our house. Fortunately for me and all involved, Hunny is the antidote.

Whereas I’ve been screaming at my printer because it won’t print for some magical, unknown reason, Hunny can talk to it and stand up to take the few steps to get to it- and it will magically start working again. Seriously. He can stand right over me and see that I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, and it doesn’t work. The second he tries, though- everything works just fine.

This applies to everything mechanical in general, including autos and power tools. I am a force to be reckoned with.  😀

So, it goes without saying that I won’t mess with the rebuild. I let Hunny deal with it, and in reality, this will only take him a few hours. Having an engineer in the family definitely has its perks!

For example, my laptop was the first one we actually bought. Prior to that, he’d rebuild obsolete machines or start from scratch. You ought to see all the pieces parts in the garage….

My son built his first machine all by himself when he was 12. Hunny always sweats putting in the motherboard, because they are $$$ (that first one for the boy was over $200), but he dropped it without thinking twice. 😯 Because they are gamers, they go with build-your-own boxes because it’s easier to change out parts.

For a long time, I had a very nice purple box. I was annoyed that I couldn’t find a purple monitor to go with it, but I’ve since moved past tube monitors, so it’s all good. 😀 I even managed to find a wireless keyboard and mouse that were nearly the same purple. I seem to think the actual case was called something like “Purple Dragon.” Pretty cool, eh? (yes, I AM a girl!)  😆

Those turned out to be a total bust. The mouse battery only lasted a few hours (there was no dock for recharging- this was back when wireless mice were new) and while the batteries for the keyboard lasted a bit longer, I wore off the letters on 2 keyboards both within a week.

The box over here was basically the one I had, except mine had solid sides. It rocked.  😀

To make the switch to a laptop was a leap for me, but at the time, I was doing some travelling and needed the option to take it with me for presentations on the website(s) I was building. That was the trade-off, because I knew the days of slapping in more RAM and new graphics cards, etc, were over. Boo.

So, it’s time. I’m going down for a rebuild. I am past being frustrated with lag time. And I’m pretty much done with Windows, too.

At this point, I’m going to be dual-partitioned, with primary boot in Ubuntu. I have not been a fan of some OS applications, but this one doesn’t bother me a whole lot. I’ll still be able to use anything MS based that I need, like my design software and my MS Office suite if there’s something in Linux I can’t find.

I assume I’ll be back online by tonight, barring catastrophe and mayhem. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you can assume I probably got more involved with the rebuild than I should have, and have caused myself problems.  😆

Let the games begin……I’m going down!  :mrgreen:

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Do you remember these? Passing notes in school; sometimes from boy to girl; more often from girl to boy: 

It’s interesting to see that not only does this still happen, but it doesn’t have to happen in school!

Our 7-year-old (who has never gone to school) is in the throes of note writing. Our 10-year-old is another one that has regularly written us notes, and I think this is where our 7-year-old has gotten the inclination.

When your house is full of girls, you expect “girly” things. You expect the dress-up; the tea parties. While they also like playing with chickens, making a fort, playing in mud, playing with bugs, and hanging out and helping Daddy as he builds things with power tools, they also have girly streaks.  (Dear Lord, help me not kill them to be calm and understanding in a few years when they are all cycling together …………)

Lately, this has involved making more of their own envelopes (using bits of wrapping paper; scratch paper, and usually involving color and decorations) and notes.

Oh hang on- just got another mail delivery:

“Dear Mama,

Good morning. And is it a good morning?

Check yes or no ok.

Love, J”

I, of course, checked the “yes” box.  😆

Yesterday, my letter (and Daddy got one as well) said,

“Dear Mama,

I love you. Do you love me?

Check yes or no.

Love, J”

This particular 7-year-old is blond, dimpled, and extremely giggly. How could anyone possibly not say yes?!  😆


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Ya, you! You’re too fat! Clearly, you are not capable of moving your fat butt, or watching what you put in your mouth. Guess we’ll have to do that for you, too.

Yep. That’s what Denmark and Hungary have told their citizens.

On Tuesday, Hungary voted to place a tax on “junk-foods” like Big Mac, pop (soda), and sweets.

Yesterday, the fat tax in Denmark went into effect. In this case, actual food in addition to that junk-food is being taxed. Here are some of the examples:

  • High fat dairy products (what about kids under 2 years old who need the fat from whole milk for brain development??)- items like cream cheese, whipping cream, and ice cream
  • Butter (huh, seems the body can break down the fats in butter than in fake, processed margarine-y food stuffs, but what do I know?)
  • Meats
  • Pizzas
  • Pre-cooked Foods
  • Potato Chips
  • Olive Oil (nevermind that olive oil is actually healthy fat- makes me wonder if this applies to peanut butter and nuts, which also contain healthy fats)
  • Etc. (does this include eggs? I have to wonder- if everyone had their own chickens, the fat and cholesterol content would be lower)

It is no surprise that citizens were in a frenzy, cleaning off store shelves and stocking up. Who wants to pay 30% more for butter until they have to?

And it’s no wonder that the rest of Europe, particularly Great Britain, is watching with rapt attention. After all, can you blame them?

Germany wants a fat tax, too. In fact, “Recently the German Teachers’ Association recommended weighing children in class each day and reporting the seriously overweight to social services, who would have the power to remove them to clinics.”

Incidentally, homeschooling is illegal in Germany. So, if your kid is deemed too fat, off to social services you go! And YOU, stupid parent, have no recourse; no option; no choice.

Stop reading now if you don’t want my two cents on this situation. 😆

My personal opinion is that when you rely on the government to take care of you, you have given them the right to make all those decisions. Absolutely, if I was in a country where everyone got free health care, you had better bet it would be up to the government to set in place parameters and guidelines for the citizens, as a means of keeping those costs down.

And why shouldn’t they? This clearly, imo, falls into the category of taking care of the individual’s health needs, since, you know, they obviously can’t make good decisions by themselves.

If people are going to make poor eating choices that have negative consequences on their health care (that the government is paying for), it stands to reason that they should contribute more financially to help off set those costs. Alcohol is taxed more; I would be surprised if tobacco isn’t as well.

Now, that being said, (and if you haven’t stopped reading in disgust) I don’t think the government has any business mandating either of those things. I don’t think it’s the job of the government to forcibly “take care” of its citizens. I’m a fan of choice.

In the US, I don’t believe its constitutional for the federal government to mandate something like federal health care. States- sure. Go for it. But once you do (like Massachusetts), is it impossible to undo?

I know the issue of mandatory health care is loaded, and I certainly don’t have the answer. I think it’s a bad idea to give up any decision-making choices in favor of other people making decisions for you.

If you’ve been reading along, you know how I feel about the health care system as it is now. It’s definitely broken.

Case and point: out of the two hospitals we have here (the hub of anything in 200 miles in any direction) both are too small, apparently, to have their own ER doctors. Instead, they use a contracted service.

While both hospitals are in my insurance network, this contracted service, which is the same for both hospitals, is not. That means that they can charge anything they want to, and they do.

What does this mean to me?

As a person with insurance through a national insurance group on a Fortune 500 company policy, it means that my deductible is doubled because they are out of network. It means that those services (the ER doctor charge) get paid at 70% instead of 90%, after my doubled deductible. This deductible also doesn’t go towards my out-of-pocket costs because they are out of network, or to my other, in-network deductible.

If my insurance decides to pay in-network costs as a courtesy to me- which it usually does because of the rural factor, in that I have no other choice- they pay “reasonable and customary” costs.

What does that mean? That means if “reasonable and customary” is $100, they will pay the 90% of that amount. Because they are not under contract with the insurance company, this means that the provider can- and does- charge whatever they feel like. For that $100 insurance deems “reasonable and customary”? The provider can charge you $100,000.  And you, poor sucker who had to go to the ER, legally has to eat the difference.

I’m up to my eyeballs in this again right now, after having a trip a few months ago for my middle daughter’s concussion. I cannot tell you how sick I am of being Screwed. A look at 2010 should bring you up to speed.

The bill for the doctor in the ER was $800. I have no idea what amount will be considered “reasonable and customary,” but I know insurance will probably initially pay 70%. Then I’ll have to sit on the check they send me (because they don’t pay out-of-network providers; they send the check to you) and have it go for review, which can take 60 to 90 days. In the meantime, I’m going to get letters from the provider, telling me they are (and will- trust me, I’ve been down this road) going to turn you over to collections.

Nevermind the insurance you have. Nevermind that you went to an IN-FREAKING-NETWORK provider to keep your cost down. NEVERMIND that they are GOUGING you because you have insurance and being UNETHICAL because of their outrageous cost.

Ticked? Doesn’t begin to cover it.

The thing is, they aren’t all like that. Take my GI doc, for example. When I regularly go visit him, he charges *exactly* what is deemed “reasonable and customary” by my insurance. Our company changed insurance carriers since I’ve been seeing him, and his billing practices are exactly the same for each provider: they are under contract, and bill accordingly. This means when I go visit him, if my deductible is paid, I pay my 10% which comes out to less than $5.

Yep, you read that right.

LESS than $5, and the man is a specialist. And a good one. Who actually cares about his patients, even the ones (like me :lol:) who basically self-refer even though they aren’t supposed to.

So I don’t buy the mantra that all costs are high. Some providers are out to screw you, plain and simple. And when you are rural and without options or recourse, you’re the poor sucker who, again, has to take it in the shorts unless you don’t mind your credit rating getting wrecked while you duke it out.

The uninsured (particularly here, where people go to the emergency room for colds because they can’t be turned away) is a problem. Skyrocketing costs are a problem (don’t even get me going on the comparison cost of x-rays….). Something has to be done.

But giving complete control over to the federal government?

Sorry, I just don’t think that’s smart. I think once you get on that path to expecting to be taken care of, you give the right to that entity to make choices for you, like raising your taxes on butter, bread, and meats.


~~When you give up your rights to choice, you give up your voice.~~


More articles for your reading pleasure:

Germany Weighs Tax on the Obese

Bulge Battle Will Wallop Your Wallet

Denmark Levies World’s First Fat Tax

Fat Tax Lands On Denmark’s Favorite Foods


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If you have kids, then you will know that just because they are “family,” that does not mean they are going to like each other all the time or get along. My two youngest girls have a love/hate relationship. They can go from loving each other profusely and being extremely helpful to one another to wanting to gouge each other’s eyes out, seemingly in the blink of that eye.

These two are 9 (almost 10) and 7.  They have completely different body types.  What does this have to do with anything? As one who grew up being smaller than a younger sibling, I’ll tell you, body type means a lot as a kid. How would you feel, getting hand-me-downs from not just your older sister, but your younger one as well?

Middle dd, J, has my body type.  She has always been my “mini-me.”  In all seriousness, the only time she was ever on the growth charts was when she was born. Really. At 7 lbs, 4 ozs, she was a pound smaller than baby #2, but heavier than baby #1.

Fortunately for me, my ped was willing to listen to me and accept my proof (my own growth charts, which were a mirror image of hers) and after a “mandatory” iron test when she was 6 months old, he was able to say her weight was not a concern. At two years old, we finally got the green light to turn her forward-facing in her car seat even though she was still 19 lbs.  She was longer, though, that the guidelines for the car seat.  Do you know that it was literally impossible to find (at that time) a rear-facing car seat for a long baby under 20 lbs??

Along comes baby #4, weighing in at 8 lbs, 14 ozs. While she didn’t fit in many of the newborn clothes, she wasn’t gargantuan, either. Normal growth; normal weight gain.

But in comparison to dd #2?  People still think they are twins, even though they don’t look much alike, past the blond hair and blue eyes. They are, however, maybe an inch or two different in height.  They wear the same size shoes, and the same size clothes.  While it’s hard to find clothes that don’t fall off dd #2 (because she is skinny), it’s usually not a problem to roll up pant legs.

And this, I think, has fed into the frustration dd #2 has felt for a really long time.  If you remember being a kid, you remember how fast you wanted to grow up, and how important it was to be recognized as your own person.  Well, at least that’s how it was with me.  😆  I was tired of being small, and people thinking I was considerably younger than I was, just based on size.

Much of the time, my two youngest girls get along relatively well.  You may recall that a few years ago, we tried selling our house.  Notice the key word: tried. That was right about the time our housing market here started to slow down.  Once summer came, I had *zero* interest in trying to sell the house and worry about keeping it ready to show while having 4 kids summering.  Not gonna happen.

The primary issue with this house, of course, is space.  The layout is fine; there are parts of the house I totally love. We’ve been here a while.  So long, actually, that we hadn’t actually started homeschooling yet.  This is our 9th year of homeschooling. We knew, moving in, that we were losing some storage space, but didn’t think it would be a big deal.  Ya, it’s a BIG deal.  I don’t have enough space; and always need more bookshelves. We also didn’t have 4 kids when we moved in, either.

And I have all three girls sharing a bedroom.  While you recover from that shock, let me add that their bedroom is decent size and they have a walk-in closet. As my oldest nears full-fledged teenhood (she’ll be 13 in a few months), the issue over space is a constant, all-out battle. She really needs her own room.  With the housing market the way it is, I don’t see a move happening any time soon.  If the market starts to move at some point, we would, of course, try selling again.  But at this point, I can’t handle having the house on the market for a year (or more.)

The bulk of the issue that my older two girls have is with the youngest and her stuff.  Our philosophy has always been that at the younger ages, kids NEED a lot of play; that their learning happen primarily through play. Can you see where this is going?  😆

Keeping that one room really clean (read my Stuff post to see what I’m talking about) is an ongoing, losing battle. The conflict always revolves around whose “stuff” it is, primarily between the two younger girls, the youngest always getting the brunt of it. And while that’s not entirely untrue, the room still needs to be cleaned.

I am completely sick and tired of the arguing. Much of the time, the arguing over cleaning the room spills over into everything else. While we don’t tolerate name-calling, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  (If you are a sibling, you probably know what I’m talking about.)

And it is frustrating. And maddening.

Kids these ages, even if they know the particulars (which mine do) of good conflict resolution (as in: “when you do “x”, I feel “y”), can often get into all-out war.

And it is frustrating.  And maddening.*sigh*

Some days are better than others, but this is something  are constantly “working on.” While there are things that may work for a short amount of time, I haven’t found the “magic bullet” that will work consistently long-term.

Yesterday, though, I hit upon something that I think might work, if anything will.  The bonus is, it has nothing to do with *me.*  Yay!

You may recall that we do a weekly Bible study, where I have been in the children’s department for several years.  Last year, I graduated to the homeschooling class, as my youngest moved up. I anticipate being there for a while.  😆

This year, we are studying Acts. Acts is about the spread of (the church) Christianity, post crucifixion and resurrection; the acts of the Apostles via the Holy Spirit. (Ya’ll know there is more to it, but that’s a general summary) Chapter 2 is titled, “The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost.”

Part of what I love about this particular Bible study is that every study takes you all over the Bible. So, this week, we went to Galatians, to learn about the “fruits of the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” (NIV)

As part of our conversation, we talked with the kids quite a bit about the fruits of the Spirit. Not only did we talk about what they were (see the verse above), but to think about concrete examples of how they show/demonstrate each one. What fruit of the Spirit are they most like?  What ones can they work on? My challenge to them was to think about fruits (of the Spirit) in particular that they could work on during the week.

Can you see where I’m headed?  😆 What’s interesting to me is that my two younger girls were still thinking about this long after we came home.  Hmmmmm.  Fruits of the Spirit.

“To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit….” (1 Corinthians 12:8)  “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:11)

Fruits of the Spirit…. gifts of the Spirit………

Last night I had a dream.  If you’re anything like me, your brain doesn’t stop, and actually works through the night, resulting sometimes in really bizarre dreams.  Last night’s dream wasn’t so much bizarre as utilitarian.

I dreamt of a tree.  On that tree, there were fruits that could be stuck on at the end of each day.  Each child (in my case, my two younger girls) had a tree. At the end of each day, they could stick on the fruits of the Spirit they consistently demonstrated throughout the days.

Ya’ll know I’m not crafty, right?  😆  While I have visions dancing in my head (’cause a plum is a fruit, too!), making a huge tree with appropriate fruits of the Spirit to stick on isn’t something I can throw together quickly.  Or maybe even at all.  😆

What I did find, though, was an image of a “Fruit of the Spirit” tree. I haven’t completed the whole thing, but you can see what I’m trying to do. 

Each day has a tree.  I need to make a header for each child using the verse, which tells what each fruit of the Spirit is.

At the end of each day, they can write in below and color each fruit they think they demonstrated the whole day.

Maybe a little “competition” to be “kind,” “love”(ing) and have “self-control” can be a good start in working on developing better attitudes and “patience.”

Maybe a visual reminder will give them pause and get them thinking about how they want to act? Maybe I need to just totally turn this one over; you know, “let go and let God….”

I’ll keep you posted!

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Ah yes….. the “S” word, as we often call it.  Have you been waiting with bated breath for this one?  😀

Hands down, the single question I hear the most is about socialization: “How will they get it?  I mean, after all, if they are just shut up at home doing school work, how will they ever relate to other human beings?”

I will admit that initially, I didn’t have an answer to that.  At least one that I thought people would accept. 😆  My instinct was to reply, “What do you call what they’ve been doing the first 5 years of their lives?  Aren’t we people?  Aren’t they interacting with us? Isn’t that socialization?” Yep, these are all questions as opposed to answers. 😆 And that is where I started my travels: what is socialization?

To keep us on the same page, let’s define socialization. The most basic way to define this term is this: it’s the process by which people of all ages interact in the community at large.

Huh?  😆

Most people, though, boil this down to interacting with others. Which again, bought up my question, “What have they been doing for the first 5 years of their lives?”

Stop and think about this for a minute. *Really* think about this. One disturbing trend I have seen more and more is parents who feel like they need to send their kids to daycare/preschool at very young ages, lest they short change them out of a “proper learning environment.”  (can you see my eyes crossing?!)

When did we as a society start thinking so poorly of ourselves?  I personally think this mindset feeds right into medical childbirth (after all, our bodies don’t know what they are doing, do they? Oh no, we “have” to have constant medical monitoring and intervention, because otherwise that baby will never come out) and artificial baby feeding (because goodness knows, our bodies could never manufacture optimal nutrition for an infant because, doncha know, we don’t really understand it all and can’t replicate breast milk scientifically; therefore it must be inferior {more eye rolling}) and continues into childhood.

This article, from The Sojournal: A New Media Journal of Sociology and Society summarized socialization this way: “Socialization is the process by which the social order[1] is involuntarily and (if necessary) coercively transferred onto a clean and shiny newborn baby body and mind.” Another gem is this statement: “At approximately the age of five, children are moved out of the home into “schools” where teachers then begin the twelve step process of “educating” (read enforcing) the social order.”

People in general are taught to believe that unless they have “properly” done “x” – which is always determined by some “expert” in some field – they are not “qualified” to do “z.” Can you tell this is a hot button of mine?  🙂

And parents generally want to do what is “best” for their children.  They want to afford them every opportunity and help them get every advantage possible. Let’s not argue about the semantics of that phrase, because we’ll probably not agree. (For example, I don’t believe that we should hand things to our kids on silver platters or not make them do chores just because we can….)

The bottom line is, we’re losing our ability to think for ourselves; to evaluate and interpret data, and to make conclusions based on that information. Sometimes, it’s not because we don’t want to; it’s a matter of having been threatened by outside forces. (For example, if you don’t do what the doctor tells you {however absurd that may be}, you will be turned in to social services and have your kids taken away- yes, this really happens, and a LOT more frequently than most people think.)

How does any of that relate to socialization?  😆

Somewhere along the line, people were fed the line of baloney about socialization and school. As in, a child can’t become adequately socialized if they don’t go to school, and because of that, we are doing them not just a disservice, but “harm” if we homeschool them.

I admit, when we moved here and came to understand the education system here, we knew homeschooling might be something we would have to consider. We did kindergarten and first grade, mostly to give it a try and make sure we weren’t making any hasty decisions. By that point and time, our concern had grown from just the educational standpoint to now also include socialization.

There are those who will tell you everything they learned about how to deal with people they learned in school (and that’s when I wonder, maybe that’s what wrong with society!). There are those who will tell you that kids will be kids, and they need to learn how to deal with bullying and other situations at school on their own, because otherwise they will never make it in the “real world.” Or, they will tell you, “I survived school and I turned out just fine.  It’s a rite of passage.”

Really?! I don’t want my kids to survive. I want them to thrive. I want them to be able to express empathy and kindness without repercussion and teasing- and to be recipients of those acts as well.

Let’s get back to thinking about socialization. My definition of socialization means being able to deal with people; people of all ages; people of all capabilities and interests. This leads quite naturally to my perspective on school:

Nowhere in the real world are people thrown together simply because they are the same age. Nowhere.

How then, CAN my child learn real socialization if that’s the only environment that is permitted in school? Yes, as they get older, there may be programs (like the “gifted” program) that allow kids of different ages to be in the same class; depending on the school. No, the playground before school doesn’t count.

This is the actual concept that got me thinking about what socialization meant to me, and what we wanted in this regard for our kids. And then, I started watching for ways that other homeschoolers I knew were socializing.  What I learned was surprising.

Many homeschoolers are incredibly busy!  In fact, a big complaint from the homeschooling moms I knew (remember, I was on an email list with like-minded homeschooling mothers all around the world, literally, although the majority of them were state-side) was that they were rarely home!

“How can that be?” I wondered. “How can you homeschool if you aren’t home?” This- the “where does homeschooling happen”- is a critical component to our homeschooling philosophy, and how our perspectives changed from schooling at home to homeschooling. Whichever approach a family chooses to take, the socialization issues, in my opinion, is moot. 

Do your kids have grandparents? Cousins? Siblings?  That’s socialization.

Do you go to church? That’s socialization.

Do you have neighbors (kids or adults) that your kids interact with? That’s socialization.

Do your kids participate in any kind of activities where they come into contact with other people (kids or adults)? That’s socialization.

Do your kids go to the grocery store with you? That’s socialization.

Did you ever sit in school and hear a teacher say, “We’re not here to socialize,”? 😉

If you feel the need for “evidence” that homeschooled kids do just fine socially in the real world, here are some resources to start with (scroll to the bottom of the list for a website that lists famous people who were homeschooled, including Whoopie Goldberg, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Venus and Serena Williams and famous homeschooling parents like Will and Jada (Pinkett) Smith, Chuck Norris, and Garth Brooks, etc etc):

From the National Home Education Research Institute‘s page of Research Facts on Homeschooling

Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development

  • The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.
  • Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work”

HomeSchool Association of California: Socialization and the Homeschooled Student

Home School Legal Defense Association collection of articles regarding socialization

The Washington Times: Home-Schooling: Socialization not a problem

Homeschoolers and Socialization By Dan Hammes

Successful Homeschooling: Homeschooling and Socialization

Website listing famous people by category who were homeschooled– this is a neat list of people who are famous; including entertainers, politicians, athletes, artists and more!

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Believe it or not, I have actually talked to people who wouldn’t consider homeschooling because they “knew their kids wouldn’t be able to play sports and do extracurricular stuff in high school.”  Yes, really.  True story.

I admit, this is one of those comments that usually results in me not even bothering to comment and walking away. It’s one thing to have questions and not know how to go about researching and getting answers.  It’s another thing entirely to make broad assumptions and erroneous conclusions based on something (like extra curricular activities) that your child may not even be interested in years down the road.

“Um, you know they are *extra* curricular, as in EXTRA; like, beyond or more than what is usual or expected; or more than what is *necessary* or needed?  You know, EXTRA, as in, not essential?”

Come to find out, the bit about being essential is actually a sticking point for some folks, who feel that without those things, school just isn’t worth it.  Certainly, my own recollections of high school reflect that the only things that made that time tolerable for me was all the extra curricular stuff I was doing.

I’ve heard people say, “They are only kids once.  They have their whole lives to work and be responsible and unhappy.”(yes, really!) “At least they can look back with fond memories of their time in school, when they played football/basketball/baseball or were cheerleaders. I loved high school.  If I could go back in time and stay in once place, it would be high school.” “If I could do one time in my life over, knowing then what I know now, it would be high school.  I’d have soooooo much fun!”

{blink} {blink}

Is that what’s wrong with us as a society? It makes me wonder. What if we could encourage our kids to find their natural paths; to pursue the kind of learning they are passionate about and interested in, instead of forcing them to focus on testing and taking subjects they won’t retain, just because some strangers somewhere decided “x,y, and z” would make Johnny a well-rounded individual?

What’s wrong with being focused and passionate about a few things? I was well-rounded and exposed to all kinds of things.  As an adult, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.  What would have happened had I been allowed to pursue full-force the things that really interested me?

Some will argue that if kids aren’t exposed to all kinds of things that they will never know all the opportunities in the world available to them. I think we can hand the world (and all those opportunities) to our kids on a silver platter and they still might not find their niche. Why?  Because if we don’t allow them to immerse themselves in their interests, and give them the space to pursue those things, they may not find out for themselves how far they want to take it. Who says we can only discover our interests (or do extra curricular activities) in a school setting?

And what on earth *does* that have to do with extra curricular activities?  😆

I believe that it’s never a good idea to think that we are the only ones who know what’s best for our kids. Maybe our kids know what is best.  Maybe they don’t know it now, but if we give them the chance, they CAN figure it out, so long as we don’t stand in their way.

Believe it or not, just because a child is homeschooled, that may not preclude him/her from participating in public school extra curricular activities.  I know that may be a shock, so I’ll say it again.  Even if you homeschool, your child may be able to participate in extra curricular activities in the local public high school.

In fact, many states have regulations that are clearly defined allowing homeschooled students the option to participate in team sports and other extra curricular activities.  Are you surprised?  I know I was!

Depending on where you live, your kids may be able to legally participate in sports and other extra curricular activities, like band/orchestra.

State Laws Concerning Participation of Homeschool Students in Public School Activities is a good place to start.  Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll need to contact your local school district if you choose to take advantage of the opportunities available to you.  In many cases, the people who you come into contact within your local schools won’t know state regulations, particularly the newer ones. You’ll want to make sure you have information with statute numbers, so if it’s called into question, you are the one providing the (current) information and not the other way around.

It took me literally minutes, and I was able to find an update to my state’s law concerning homeschooling and extracurricular activities.  Instead of only being eligible to participate in three athletic activities, homeschoolers are now able to participate in all public school activities governed by my state’s activities association.  Nice, huh?  🙂

Schools can (and usually do) have requirements for student participation in activities, particularly sports, so it’s important to know what those are as well, in addition to knowing your state regulations. Another point to consider is that many schools participate in athletic associations, which are usually free to make their own rules and regulations, and it may be *these* regulations (instead of school/district policy) that prohibit participation of those not enrolled full-time in public school.

For more information on the discussion of equal access, a good place to start is here. To learn more about the variables in this debate, read these articles:

Why the Question of Homeschoolers’ Playing Public School Sports Affects All Homeschoolers – Larry and Susan Kaseman

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

I fall firmly in the camp of believing in low regulation of homeschoolers, and I believe that regulating any aspect of homeschooling (like whether or not homeschoolers can participate in public school athletics, for example) opens the door for additional regulations. Without opening that can of worms, let me just say that I/we believe in freedom and that the government has gotten too involved in our lives in general.  😉

If you happen to live in a state where homeschoolers aren’t eligible to participate in any school activities, don’t despair! There are other options, even for team sports.  At the younger (read: non high school) ages, opportunities are numerous for team sports.  There are all kinds of community team activities people (including kids) of all ages can participate in, so don’t be afraid to do some digging while you think outside the box!

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The short answer is: Cost will depend on what you are looking for.  🙂

When our oldest was attending public school those two years, thinking about how much had changed since I was a kid was a constant reminder to me. We expected, of course, to have to deal with shoes, clothes, and a lunch box.  I assumed we would probably have to buy some school supplies, particularly as they got older and needed things like notebooks and binders.

I was not prepared for the school shopping list.  I had no idea I’d have to pitch in for room supplies, like tissues and hand sanitizer. Really?  This may not be accurate, but my recollection for that one year, not including shoes, clothes, and a lunch box, was that we spent around $60 on supplies for a 1st grader; 9 years ago.

Going into having children, we knew there was going to be cost involved.  It is my job to research as a means of finding best price and deals to help keep costs down.  When you are given a list of specific brands and items that “have” to be purchased for school, you aren’t in control yet again.

Can you tell I’m a control freak?  😆

Seriously, though, one question I hear a lot has to do with cost.  “How much does it cost to homeschool?” I’ve also heard comments like, “I’d love to homeschool, but it costs too much,” or “Homeschooling is just not in our budget.”

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that early on, like many others, my preconceived idea of homeschooling meant sitting around the table; books open, pencil in hand, doing school work. This notion revolved around curriculum. By now, though, you know that we primarily unschool, which means I don’t generally worry about pre-packaged curriculum. 😀

We also had good support early on through Clonlara.  Yes, that cost money.  😆 If we had to do over, knowing then what we know now, we most likely would not have paid anything out the two years we registered with Clonlara. One of the reasons we chose Clonlara was the lower cost, compared to other options I had researched.

It didn’t take long, though, to realize that yes, actually, we could homeschool without spending a lot of money. I was amazed at the free resources I was able to find online for young kids!

Keep checking back to the Homeschooling Information and Resources Page, because this page will have more links for resources. The resource page is a work in progress, but in the meantime, here are some young learning links to get you started:

Enchanted Learning– this site has a ton of free resources for young learners, including language activities.  There is a member’s site, too.  We’ve never paid for membership, so I can’t comment on what is in that section and available to members.  The free stuff is great, though!

Ed Helper.com– Some freebies; members section.

First-School– Free! We used this, and its sister sites *a lot*.

Super Kids Educational Tools– make your own printable worksheets- Free!

Math.com– this link goes to homeschooling resources, but there is a lot of free stuff at this site. The games section has exercises for 1st- 8th grades.  The other puzzles are fun for all ages!

Math Playground– more for elementary and middle school aged kids, but links to

IXL Math Practice, which has lots of great stuff for pre-K- 8th grades.

National Geographic Kids

Kid Zone

Kids Astronomy 

Kids Chemistry

Resources for Kids

Are you starting to realize how much free stuff there is out there?  Or how many resources you can find that don’t cost a lot of money? Certainly, you can purchase pre-packaged curriculum, and that is a valid option many families choose. 

If you feel strongly about using a curriculum, don’t rule out buying used.  eBay is a hot spot loaded with used curriculum at usually deeply discounted prices.  Many curriculum packages offer consumable workbooks, and many people find that buying used text books but new consumables is another good way to offset the cost of formal curriculum.

My point is this: Keep an open mind. 🙂 Do a lot of looking online, and connect with others who are homeschooling so that you can pick their brains. Once you have an idea of what you want your child to learn, you can start looking and finding materials. If you put your mind to it, you can find resources that will help you get on your way to homeschooling that are either free or may not cost a lot of $$$!

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You’ve been thinking about homeschooling, and via your information gathering, you’ve come to feel that yes, you can create an environment at home that is conducive to learning. You also feel that academically, your kids (should you choose to compare them to their schooled counterparts) will do just fine, and will probably be ahead of their traditionally schooled peers.

You still have a few questions, though.  As you’ve been researching what kind of homeschooling you think will be a good fit for your family, you have noticed that the overwhelming majority of pre-packaged curriculums are Christian based. You’re not particularly religious, or if you are (Christian), you’re not inclined to wanting to have your kids influenced by ideology that may not reflect your own, and you’re wondering how would you know that unless you’ve used the curriculum?  Really, you’d rather just not use any religious-based programs, but given your research, you are now wondering: Can I Homeschool if I’m Not Christian?

The short answer is yes!  Even in Alabama, the law says “church” but does not define that a church has to be Christian. (*disclaimer- this is my understanding, and is by no means comprehensive, since I don’t live in that state) I have seen folks who were not Christian homeschooling in Alabama.

Later in this series, I’ll be sharing resources for those wanting Christian curriculum. Today, I’m going to share a few resources for secular homeschooling.  Believe it or not, there are a few out there! I admit, this is not something I’ve actively searched for, because we do our own thing.

One site I’ve found has forums.  Forums are a great way to communicate with and get support from those who are like-minded.  If you have a hobby or interest, there is probably a forum out there somewhere for you to join.  😆

Secular Homeschooling.com has a forum and has resource articles.  Another site is Secular-Homeschooling Magazine.

Additional links for secular homeschooling:

North Alabama Secular Homeschooling

Leaping From the Box– Alabama cover school

Secular Homeschoolers.net

Parenting Beyond Belief

Jon’s Homeschool Resources; Secular

Atheist View: Homeschooling Without Religion  (if you are Christian, you may want to skip this one  🙂 )

If you are interested in curriculum, here are some resources:



Successful Homeschooling.com

Time 4 Learning Secular Curriculum

Home School Curriculum Advisor

Obviously, yet again, this is not a comprehensive list. More and more, people are finding homeschooling to be their choice of viable education. As they do, some (like me) blog or otherwise write and collect information on this topic. There is a lot of information out there, and slogging through it can be daunting.

At some point, I felt like I had done enough research and information gathering to make an intelligent decision.  I know you’ll get there, too!  🙂

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