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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sailing Away

Oh my goodness, one of the homeschooled kids in our circle just got his boat captain license. I don't know this kid, but I really didn't even know you needed a license to be the captain of a boat. I should have asked how old he was. I wonder if you have to be a certain age. I wonder if he had to take certain classes? I guess licensing makes sense for larger boats. We used to have a boat. Actually, we had two of them when we lived in Seattle back in 1999 but we didn't have any kind of special license to drive it or anything, maybe because it was just smaller. Oh boy, those were the days; I used to love going out on Lake Washignton after work. On sunny days, everyone in the city was out and smiling and enjoying the weather. I read that Seattle residents have a higher average IQ than anywhere else and also that Seattle residents read more than anywhere else. I am convinced it's because of the weather. Picture this; it's raining, and you're commuting on public transportation (otherwise you spend an hour driving 8 miles from Lynnwood to Seattle) and there's nothing else to do but read a book, right? And books make people smarter. It all makes perfect sense.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being a Homeowner

Guest post from: Steve Delaney

Being a homeowner is tough for a lot of reasons but I think it’s extra hard for us because my husband is an architect so we bought a house that needed a lot of work because he wanted to make it something special. That’s all well and good in theory but you know, I’m pretty sick of living in the middle of a construction zone. I got ADT ATLANTA when I moved in because there were so many construction workers in and out and my husband seems to think that’s progress. I keep telling him that what constitutes progress in my eyes is coming home to a house that’s not full of scaffolding and sawdust! Buying a totally renovated home is definitely something I’m going to do from now on because there’s nothing like not having to worry about all this stuff. But to be honest, I hope we never have to move againsince this particular house has been so much work – my husband doesn’t even get the half of it!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great way to gather info

I stumbled upon an ingenious way to gather up information, whether it's from your friends, for a little homemade survey but I was mainly picturing the painful task of gathering information form other homeschoolers to plan your field trips, co-op classes and other stuff. I mean, coordinating everyone's schedule can be a pain in the rear end and another difficult task we find ourselves doing is trying to gather up votes about who wants to do which classes at a co-op. I remember one year we had it down to a science for our science club, but one year we had a bunch of members move away and one lady's daughters started a dance class during that time and it just ended up being a big headache to try and get everyone's schedules coordinated enough to come up with a planning meeting, so having a website for making surveys, along with easy to use survey templates would probably have made a big difference. Maybe we will use one this year. What about you? What do you use for group planning? have you ever considered using a website that helps you gather information? it seems to be a really great application of technology.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Exciting Opportunities

When I was a kid, I always wished I could travel off to boarding school or something. The idea of studying abroad seemed so continental. I was just reading through the website of a company that does a study abroad Ireland program and my favorite part, I think, was the student blogs. It's just so easy to imagine yourself sitting there among rolling green hills, enjoying your studies, drinking some hot tea and smelling the green green fields. For miles and miles, the ocean air sweeps up the hillsides and I imagine it's just the cleanest smell ever. I've always been a "grass is greener" kind of person. Not because I'm unhappy where I'm at, just because I like seeing new things and exploring new places. Life is too short to sit still and the world is such a big and beautiful place. So what about you? Have you ever taken a semester abroad? Have you ever thought about it? Is traveling a big part of your life?  I'd love to hear about it. You only live once, right?

Times are changing

Today I read that the top ten jobs in 2010 weren't even invented yet in 2004.  As homeschoolers, this is HUGE. How can schools prepare our children for a world they can't even understand or predict yet? Instead of focusing on specific skills, like proper letter formation and written pages of mathematical "problems" kids need computer training (although for most kids this just means screen time, they don't need us to break it down in complicated ways) and they need flexible, creative-thinking minds that don't get stuck on "old ways" or "tradition"  For our family, this means embracing the fact that we are in a rapidly changing world and we enjoy the technological advances that are made, and we try to balance that with our humanity. Full-body scanners for pregnant women and children... NO, but iPhones, YES.  So what about you? How are you preparing your children for a technology-filled world in the future?  There are just so many approaches, I love hearing them all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is it October already?

I know one of the very best luxuries of homeschooling is the ability to make the most of every season and not rush into the dining room table the minute the first leaves change colors.  This fall, we have pressed apples and made homemade apple cider which was absolutely delicious. I prefer it chilled, but I know some people would rather drink it warm. Anyway, I took some great pictures of the kids paying in the leaves at a state park in Missouri. We really loved the beautiful drive through the forest and seeing all of the leaves changing colors.  I regret that we haven't been able to visit New England in the fall yet, it was on our wish list but we haven't done it yet.  What else.... I guess we're just now sitting down to focus on books and learning. The kids have really been enjoying electronic books on their desktop computers because we moved them into the bedrooms so they can access them easier.  What about you?  Have you enjoyed the weather or did you stick yourself inside the minute the school bell rang?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Local scrubshops

So- I'm sure you noticed that a large percentage of people who live in our fair town work in the medical field. Maybe it's because the farm pesticides make people sick, maybe it's because everyone thinks they need a doctror for everything, maybe it's because the high percentage of children on state aid mean that residents here just USE the medical industry more often, maybe it's because everyone is eating processed foods or overweight or otherwise just consuming more medical services. Who knows???? Honestly, there's no way of knowing but what I do know is that we used to have a store downtown that sells scrubs and now it's gone. Where do people buy cheap scrubs in this town?  I just don't know anymore. It's a mystery.  I hope people are smart enough to buy them online rather than paying catalog prices, right? If you haven't used the web for buying scrubs yet, check out what they have on sites like this one:  before you go spending too much money somewhere else because doing business online is really a cheaper way to go for businesses, so even though you sometimes have to wait for shipping, you're still spending less and it should be no big deal if you can handle waiting a few days because your hard-earned money shouldn't be pissed away with instant gratification anyway, right?  Who knows, I just make this stuff up but if I were buying scrubs I would definitely not ever want to pay a penny more than I had to, know what I mean?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Free CPE Credits

I know a lot of us homeschool moms tend to make ends meet with seasonal employment opportunities. When I went in to get my taxes done, there must have been 4 of my friends working in the office. I thought they must have been having a blast getting to eat lunch in peace and enjoying a working lifestyle for a little while. What a nice break from child-rearing. I hope they see it as an opportunity for a fun and enjoyable change rather than as a burden or a chore.  I always enjoyed working but I always also hated being forced into it.  If it was a choice, it would have been much easier to bear. In fact, the one time it WAS a choice, I worked my ass off and totally loved it.  Either way, when I came across this website that offered tax CPE retraining classes for ongoing education requirements, I thought of those ladies. Mary, Katie, Louisa and Dorene... this one's for you. Check out their website, they have some kind of freebie for new people. I didn't read all of the requirements, but I did want to share it with you. let me know how it goes, and enjoy the contrast of parenting and outside work, you truly have the best of both worlds!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yayyyy- you HAVE to see this one

So we've been traveling all over the country in our motorhome (I know you're following us at, right?) and we've learned so much from our visits to state and national parks, about the landscape, geography, geology and history including that of the Native Americans, which I find to be the absolute most valuable of information because they lived here long long long before the caucasian people did and somewhere in their unwritten histories lies all the secrets of the plants that we call weeds. I'm a huge ethobotany junkie. Do you know what ethnobotany is? It's the study of how indigenous people use the plants in their region. I just think it's fascinating and I studied it for a while when we lived in Seattle and when I move back theere I definitely want to enroll in some sort of wilderness survival course so I can learn more. Anyway, click on that link I made above and you can search in your area for American-Indian activities and attractions. I think our local Toppenish Indians had their PowWow listed on that website, so check them out. Even if you don't live near me because their directory is huge.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Music lovers?

If your kids love making music and are serious about their studies, you should totally check out Philadelphia's chamber music festival camp. It's an amazing 2 week opportunity to play with some of the most talented strings players on the planet (because that's another way to describe the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra, right?). Imagine how much fun it would be for a violin or cello playing kid to be immersed in nothing but strings for 2 solid weeks, then to give the concert performance of their young lives right in the same performance halls where some of the greatest players of all time have performed.

If you have a music lover, you should totally check out their website because they offer summer programs, winter programs and even a traveling program that goes to Croatia. You can choose a day program if you live in the area, or a residential program. They also have scholarships, too. The brochure is free and you can learn all about what they offer simply by sending away for information. that's really the best way to get a grasp on what they're doing. You can also check their Facebook page for feedback, thank goodness for social networking, right?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Everything is not what it seems

Imagine my surprise, walking into the computer room to see a screenshot of boobs. I'm of the opinion that the human body is God's best work of art and that it's fine for the kids to be exploring their sexuality and enjoying how their bodies feel, but Internet nudity wasn't on the list of things I thought I might be seeing that day. Luckily, before I opened my big mouth, I realized that the site they were looking at was actually selling Breastforms, artificial breasts. I'm not sure if they were marketing them for pleasure or what, but the discussion that came about ended up focusing on the medical need for artificial breasts. Imagine being a cancer patient, or having your breasts removed for some reason, through surgery or something. That would suck, right? Companies like this are really important because women don't need to fight with body image issues when they're recovering from cancer. I can't even imagine what that would be like to suddenly only have one breast. I saw a photo once of a woman who had her breast removed and it was just ridiculous, you would think that they would be sensitive to the woman's needs, removing the inner damaged cells and leaving the skin intact, leaving a nipple behind at least, but the picture I saw was a chest with one normal breast and one big horrible looking scar. I just can't imagine, that would be soooooooo traumatic, I think.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Diversity starts at home

I know a lot of homeschool parents are resistant to the school's practice of teaching to the holidays, whereby every single year kids are led through the same consecutive series of politically-correct, washed-out versions of the holidays, starting with Columbus Day. They cycle through Black History month, martin Luther King, Jr Day, President's Day and a bunch of other holidays that actually end up trivializing the very things they're designed to commemorate.  I know that when I was a kid, I heard the same Lewis & Clark stories over and over and over again but it wasn't until I was an adult and I heard these stories from a different perspective that I saw how corrupt it is to teach the same recycled, watered-down versions year after year.  Kids can memorize vocabulary words about historical stories, but the real lesson lies in feeling the true magnitude of the situation.  I think museums and documentaries are far better teachers of history than worksheets. I didn't understand how horrific the holocaust was until I saw Schindler's list. I didn't understand how risky and complicated the Underground railroad was until I toured the basement of a house that was used to house 20-30 refugees at a time. As a mom, I think it's important for us to keep our eyes open for real live opportunities to bring history into our children's lives, rather than depending on the old-fashioned paradigm of worksheets, cyclic holiday lessons and meaningless representations of symbols from history that are removed from their context.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Crimson Tide

When I was a little girl, my Aunt Maryann was away in college, at the University of Alabama. I always thought Alabama must be the most magical place. Maryann had a lilac colored bedroom and it was covered in little flowers and she had her beautiful porcelain dolls on display, along with needlepoint artwork of children playing, country cottages and teddy bears. When she came home for her first holiday, she brought Alabama apparel as gifts for everyone. looking back, I think her student loan or her scholarships must have covered purchases made in the Student store because I know college students don't always have a big disposable income to deal with.

Either way, we still have the University of Alabama shirts she gave us as gifts. Of course, they don't fit us anymore since that was like 30 years ago, but we did save them anyway for sentimental reasons. I don't have my own high school Tshirt and I have never even bought myself a Tshirt from any college I have attended, honestly they don't mean as much to me as Aunt maryann's ever could, those were special times and she was our hero. So do you still have any of the clothing you wore as a child? Do you have any sentimental pieces of clothing that are special to you, even if you can't wear them anymore? Did you collect any Tshirts or baseball caps or other things with your school's name or mascot on them?  

Sometimes it's silly the things we find sentimental value in. But life is good and having little reminders of special days gone by is just part of remembering.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Best Storage for Toys

If you're like me, you absolutely can't stand getting up in the middle of the night to use the toilet and accidentally stepping on a Cuisenare rod. The single units are the worst, not early as bad as a Lego or Barbie shoe, but still. painful. What's a mom to do? It's not like you can tell them not to use their math manipulatives, right? And honestly, I think I might rather see them on the floor than to see the dog eating them or find them floating in the toilet or in the yard, right?  So I posed this question to a friend of mine who runs a daycare; "What's the best way to store these small items, so the kids can have an easier time putting them away. Because honestly, the ziploc bag isn't working. the kids can't even zip it after it gets old, so we needed a new plan. She sent me a link to a discount school supply website where they have classroom storage solutions. Brilliant. We ended up getting these bins with a storage rack and so they're open all day long and the kids can put them away in a zip (pun intended) (lame pun, I know but still...)

Anyway, so if you're troubled by stepping on random toys in the middle of the night, consider the benefits of having one of those classroom storage units because they make it super duper easy to keep things put away and that's important because kids won't likely go out of their way to put something away, but if it's easy and accessible, it's just second nature after a while, even for kids.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reverse Engineering

That's what we called it in girl Scouts when we let the girls use screwdrivers and other tools to take apart common household appliances. The girls STILL remember that day and it was only like 2 hours of their life, y'know. I think it's important to fix things rather than throw them away so we always tend to have a repair manual somewhere around the house because there's always SOMETHING that's in need of repair. It's not a "boy thing" or an activity for "certain kinds" of kids... everyone can learn how to read a schematic diagram in order to save a few bucks by fixing, rather than replacing things. it really bothers me that kids these days are trained to just throw broken things away instead of repairing them. It reminds me of a quote from John Holt;

Education now seems the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and 'fans,' driven in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve 'education' but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves. ~John Holt
Today is the anniversary of his death and I think it's important that we keep his words and his vision alive, especially as homeschoolers. There was a time when repairing things was simply part of life and now debt and high interest rates are part of life. I think I'd rather fix stuff. What do you think? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Steam cleaning

Austin residents are so lucky, they have and all we have is Merry Maids. I was reading online about an epidemic of bedbugs, apparently they have been treating bedbugs with DEET (hello toxic) for several years and now the bed bugs are growing resistant to the poison, so they're scrambling to figure out what else they can use to kill them. I heard that clove oil works, and that's cool because it's not toxic but it is expensive and I'm not sure how much is necessary. Also, heat kills them but it needs to get over 120 degrees. That's cool for me because we just drove through Arizona and it was 112 outside and I'm SURE that when we parked the motorhome it cooked up over 120 with the windows closed so if there were any bedbugs in there, they're dead now for sure.

But what if you just can't take your home to Arizona and cook it for the day, that's not feasible for most people. The only solution then is steam cleaning because the extractor units are designed to use really really hot steam to clean things, in fact it's a good  home remedies for odor removal austin, too. So in one visit you could have the beds done, the other upholstery and the draperies and the carpets, all at once. I think they even do tiles and grout and driveways. It's so nice that these can be done without chemicals and i just wish that sort of service was available here because not everyone lives in Austin. I can't wait until The Steam Team grows worldwide.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kitchen Break In

Thanks to Roman MayMy friend Meg and I decided to get HOME ALARM SYSTEMS after a neighbor on the next block got broken into. We have lived in the same neighborhood for the past ten years and have never had any problems with crime. The only thing I have ever heard of was when our neighbor across the street reported their snow blower missing only to call the police a few minutes later when he realized he had forgotten he loaned it to the Johnsons down the street. The recent break in was strange not just because it occurred but because what was taken. The police report said that someone had broken in and had taken: a waffle maker, spatulas, pots, pans, and a knife set. Meg and I were laughing and thought that it would be easy for the cops to find the culprit. They should just find the newest chef in town. Really, have you every heard of someone breaking and entering to steal kitchen appliances and cooking utensils? The pots and pans were not even copper!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Overseas Opportunities

I just found the coolest kind of company, an industry I didn't even know existed. They're called EducaStar and they're like an intermediary sort of company or like education consulting services. What they do is they help foreign universities and colleges in their goal to recruit Chinese students. They act as an agent and they organize local information events and they also pre-screen students for potential interview and things like that. They probably also make sure all of their paperwork is straight because that can be a pain in the neck. I'm sure. there's more to being an educational consultant than that, but it just helps give you a little picture of what the job entails.

Imagine how confusing it would be for a Chinese student to sift through all of the paperwork for enrolling and applying to foreign universities. higher education consultants make that task easier. They're like a link between the colleges and universities and the overseas students. I bet their parents find it comforting, too. Imagine how confusing that would be. I mean, I have an 18 yr old daughter and I am currently a full time law school student and I can't even explain how complicated and confusing all the paperwork is. So imagine adding the fact that it isn't your native language to the mix. It sounds like a recipe for crazy-making. I can't even imagine. What an awesome little niche this company has found. I love discovering new things :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Graduation time

The nursing school graduations are this week, and I know many of us have daughters and sons enrolled in the program. I just want to stress that we need to be shopping online for their scrubs. Check, specifically, the prices on this page first:  because then you will see without a doubt that the best place to get cheap scrubs is online, no mistakes about it.  I went a long time believing that it was smart to go to a uniform supply store or something, maybe a medical supply or the catalogs that they have in the break room, but those are all for suckers. You're simply not going to find better prices or better selection ANYWHERE other than at Blue Sky Scrubs' online store because they have no storefront. They're an online store so they can access suppliers that a chain store can't even touch. I mean, clearly an online business is going to be able to provide ANY product at a cheaper rate, but the difference in prices between retail scrubs and the ones they have here are like night and day. If you know anyone who is in the market for scrubs, its just plain smarter to spend LESS on them, rather than more. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's that time of year again

Do you just love it when the new school year rolls around? It's time to shop for new curriculum and plan out the lessons for the year and cover the kitchen walls with classroom decorations and what else? What else do we do to prepare for the new school year as homeschoolers? One thing that's important to us is making sure we have enough flexibility in our schedules to allow time to do the things that catch our eye. I think it's important that kids learn how to follow their own interests, so that they can build a life that revolves more around the things they enjoy. there's success to be found in EVERY fiend and when a person is engaged in a task they enjoy it just doesn't feel like work.  I was interviewing the owner of a plant nursery the other day and she couldn't believe she'd been in business for 12 years. She said it felt just like yesterday when she opened up. She's been successful, but it didn't feel like work. I wonder if her parents ever told her to come inside, get out of the garden or to stop digging in the dirt all the time. I wonder if all those other things she learned in school have been forgotten, save for the knowledge of how to care for herbs, succulents and roses. The nursery was beautiful and she really helped drive home the idea that it's more important to let the kids decide what their course of study is.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

World History

I've always thought that the best way to study world history would be to compare the way every country told their own stories. I mean, I'm sure that England teaches much different lessons about the United States' Independence compared to the way it's taught in the US, and even then, there are differences between the way the Civil War is taught in the Northeast versus in the Southeast of the country.

We had friends who were in the military and they were on a tour that spanned seven countries in 2 years. During that time, they collected history books from each country in order to compare the differences between the lessons they were teaching. I haven't spoken with the family for years, last time I heard she was looking for help with Romanian translations because she was having a hard time figuring out their text.

That was years and years ago. Now, Rosetta has a Romanian translation service right on their website. Ten years ago, however, she probably would have had to find an individual or go through a Romanian translation agency just to get it figured out. Don't you love the changes technology has made in our world? I love how the Internet has really made it possible to form deep connections with people far far away, by bridging the language gap and making it possible for people to really communicate with one another. Awesome :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Strong Teeth

We had our daughter at the pediatric dentist a few months ago and I was totally amazed: She asked if they had pink fillings and the dentist said YES. Yes, can you believe it, they actually had pink fillings. It looked like a teeny bit of bubblegum stuck in her tooth, but at least it wasn't mercury amalgam, right? I remember when white fillings were first introduced. Actually, they're not exactly white, they custom blend the color to match your tooth, unless you're a little kid and you want some funky color. They had glow-I-the-dark fillings, they had green, yellow, red, purple, blue and all sorts of other colors with and without glitter. All without mercury, isn't that cool. I bet you could find a San Antonio Texas Dentist that could do the same, if you wanted.

I often wonder about teeth whitening. I've seen some people go WAY overboard with their whitening, like a lady at the museum one time who had these teeth that were almost clear. Plus, she had a fake tan so it looked ridiculous. But if you're it he market for San Antonio Cosmetic Dentistry then I have just provided you with a link that you can use in order to find the one you like best. They can file the edges of your teeth until they're smooth, they can whiten them, they can do all sorts of things. You'd be surprised by how many amazing new developments have come into the cosmetic dentistry business over the past few years.

So what are your dentistry stories? Have you seen the new colored fillings yet? What color would you choose? And have you ever seen anyone who overdid their tooth whitening? It's creepy, isn't it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weather stinks here

I appreciate the guest post, Ignacio Phillips
This weather is the absolute pits. I know some people really love when it heats up but I just can’t stand how I’m always sweating and my skin is sticking to my seats. I’m just not cut out for this kind of weather and I sure do get a lot of it living here in Texas! On top of all that my air conditioning broke just a few weeks ago and the guys couldn’t come out to fix it for 5 whole days! Do you know how hard it is to sleep when your room is over 80 degrees? I had him put in a long-lasting system and I even went to to find a better energy rate but it’s been a totally expensive process, all in all. I’m just ready for fall to get here and for things to cool off because I can’t really take too much more of this dreadful heat! I guess I’m not a Texan at heart, afterall, since I can’t seem to get adjusted to it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Great jobs for homeschool moms

Some of the local homeschooling moms work together and they're nurses. isn't that smart, I mean nurses take care of people just like moms and a career that's similar to your regular life will be so much easier to deal with than one that requires role-changes, know what I mean? When I was doing hair, I had to regularly go from hipster to mommy and sometimes the transitions weren't so smooth. imagine, all decked out in the sleek black outfit and having a baby puke on it. It just wasn't working for me. By contrast, though imagine being a nurse and you're headed out the door. Hello- nursing uniforms are designed for just that sort of treatment. Plus, they're all mix-and-match, so it's easy to just swap out one pair of pants for another, like these ones: see what I mean? So what other jobs are you aware of that can transition easily from one social role to another? Nursing is the best one I can think of.