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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!