Friday, October 29, 2010

Anti-Bullying Campaign

Yesterday, I sat through a seminar on bullying.  Most of the information was common sense stuff, but the general consensus was that the difference between bullying today and years ago is that today there is no end to it.  If you are bullied at school, you are not safe once you get home.  The bullying continues through IM's, texts, and FaceBook posts.  Kids don't feel that they can block friends or just not respond to such attacks and therefore the bullying continues relentlessly.

One of the best things that I got out of the seminar was this terrific book:

The book was adorable and not only encouraged kids to stand up for one another, but ended by letting the bully back down and become one of them too. 

Of course as I was listening to the whole bully spiel, I had this anonymous quote running through my head:

"Hillary Clinton once said that it takes a village to raise a child.  Well, I've seen the village and I don't want them raising my child."

Homeschooling certainly doesn't mean that our children won't be bullied. In fact, in some ways it may increase the odds of them being targets.  However, being homeschooled can reduce the relentlessness of it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Decorating Dilema

I keep looking in my kitchen nook thinking that I should put a small table there:

and then I swing my head 180 degrees and look at the kitchen counter.


Oh, no! The family does not need another place to dump things. I really must ask, "Why does a jacket belong on the kitchen counter?" Mind you I have a mud room with hooks for coats, there is another one not 10 feet farther, another set of hooks at the top of the cellar, and goodness forbid, they walk the 25 feet to the actual closet. What is it about empty flat spaces in a house that calls for people to fill it?  I think I'll leave the other corner to the animals.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Picking Out Christmas Cards Already

I know it is a little early, but not too early.  There is now less that two months to the big day - - - dare I say it - - - -Christmas.  I happen to be writing an article about Christmas cards and I came by a website that I thought you all might find interesting:

This website lists the many charities that have holiday cards for sale.  In addition, the site advises you if they use recycled stock, how much the charity receives from the sale, and if you can claim any portion deductible.  Cards That Give was founded on a simple principle:  imagine all the good we could do if just a portion of our $2 million dollar Christmas card frenzy was aimed to non-profits.

So if you are not planning to make your own cards this year, consider surfing over to their site and finding a card that will give twice as much holiday cheer.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Woman's Weekend Alone

Ok,  all you people looking for a description of a wild, sexy weekend of partying based on this title, I suggest that you surf on,  you will find no such article here.  All of you mom's who think that you will never have one minute to yourself ever again, read on.  This weekend was a first in our house.  DH took both of the kids camping and I was left home alone with the the animals (thus the Movies that Make You Cry entry). I had an entire weekend to myself.  Granted Sunday, I walked with 20,000 other people in the Rays of Hope Breast Cancer Walk, but the rest of the weekend was mine.  You are probably thinking that this sounds heavenly.  What you wouldn't do just to be able to go to the bathroom without someone knocking on the door.  Let me tell you, it was ........................................................HORRIBLE! 

Yes, there were enjoyable points.  I watched a couple of chick flicks.  I got a lot of writing done.  I didn't have to fight for the remote or my blankets.  I didn't have to cook and there were practically no dishes.  But there was no laughter, no snuggling, no reason to make dinner, and no kisses goodnight.  I found myself aching for them to come home.  I missed my daughter prattling on and my son's bear hugs.  I wandered around the house wondering what I am ever going to do when they grow a little older and move out.  I felt serious empathy for my father who lives alone now and could not imagine enduring this boredom day in and day out for weeks, months, years.

So, I advise all you mothers who think you will never have another solitary uninterupted thought to appreciate it.  It will not be long until your little ones are out of the house, until their social calendars are busier than yours, until not only do you have a moment to breathe but seriously unending silence.  On those days, you'll miss the knocks, the laughter, and even the dishes.

I'm so glad that today they are home!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Movies that make you cry

It seems impossible when your kids are little that you will ever sit home without a single child calling your name, but it indeed will happen one day.  For me, that day is today.  The house is quiet and I'm curled up with just the animals, my computer, and a stack of movies.

I just finished Love Comes Softly and an entire box of tissues.  What a beautiful, simple love story.  Filmed by Michael Landon, Jr., I could almost imagine his father, Michael Landon, sitting in the wagon instead of Dale Midkiff.

I so enjoy movies like this: no blood and guts, no bare butts or breasts, no foul language.  I'm not a prude, but I'm sick of movies these days that I have to cover my 15 year old daughter's eyes or movies that bring even more evil into a world that has enough horrors of its own.  I appreciate movies that show love, compassion, and positive morals.  Even more, as a Christian, I appreciate the characters quietly espousing Christain values and tenants.  I look forward to even more movies like this one.  I think there is actually a large number of people looking for entertainment just like this.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October is Fire Protection Month

If you didn't know, October is also Fire Protection month.  There are just a few things that you can do around your house that can save your or your family member's life:

  • Test your fire alarms
  • Change batteries if needed
  • Review your escape plan with your family
  • Have a fire alarm drill
  • Make sure that extinguishers are still where they are supposed to be and that they are charged

Ironically, my smoke alarms were apparently aware of this impending "celebration" and decided to call out in joy all on their own.  The tricky part is that our fire alarms are interconnected so sometimes it becomes a challenge to know exactly which alarm is setting off the others.  Plus, to add to the excitement the sound terrifies our Bernese Mountain Dog who begins running around the house whining.  And as usual when they act up, they either decide to do like today as we are trying to run out the door or at 2 am.

I can only hope that I found the culprit and changed the batteries in the right alarm.  I also took the preventive measure which many people overlook and vacuumed out the alarm too. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Homeschooling Home Economics

As the kids are getting older homeschooling is morphing. While we still have our core curriculum, their interests and desires mold our learning schedule to a much greater degree. This week we were very lucky that DD's desires including cooking. I almost think that I have taught her too well and so when she hears the wants and desires of someone, she tries to fulfill them. This week that meant cupcakes and a pumpkin pie and next month, Irish soda bread. One friend of hers from the library complained that her birthday had been kind of pushed aside and forgotten; thus, the cupcakes. Then at our libraries auction, the director lost the raffle for the pumpkin pie that was offered, so DD had to offer to make her one (homemade crust and everything). Of course if you make a pie for someone else, there is an unwritten rule that you must make one for the family. The kids instituted this rule when I made pies for the church dinners. This was the first time I got to be the recipient of the rule.

Watching her cook and successfully complete these yummy items really made me feel confident about her future. I know it sounds silly in this day and age, but being able to cook and have some wifely skills is a good thing (even if she chooses never to be a wife, she will appreciate these skills herself). There are a lot of useless things I learned in school: facts, figures, and formulas that I will never ever use again in my life, but homemaking skills I use everyday and am thankful to those that taught me. Sometimes we can get so politically correct in this country we loose some important information along the way.

I have heard from the director who says I should give her an "A" for the pie. And please don't tell DD about the facts and figures part. She tries to get out of math work as it is.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Breast Cancer Action Month

This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone is turning everything pink and posting cancer support statements on their Facebook pages, but who is taking real action.

Instead of taking the 10 minutes to change your blog background, do a self breast exam.  Directions are here, but how you do it isn't as important as doing it regularly and notifying your doctor of any changes.

Instead of wearing a cute pink lapel pin, how about tying up your sneakers and participating in one of the many Breast Cancer Walks planned.  I myself am planning to participate in one this weekend with my church.  If you can't walk yourself but would like to sponsor my walk, you can visit here.

Instead of putting it off again, set a date to get your mammogram done.

Instead of positing a frivolous Breast Cancer post on Facebook, learn a new fact to help reduce your odds of getting breast cancer and share that with your friends.

How about just get off the computer entirely and get some exercise  ; The fact I learned today is that with as little as four hours of exercise a week, you can reduce your chances of getting breast cancer.

Let's change this month from just awareness to action.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something to Consider as You Buy Your Halloween Candy

Sometimes a little information can be dangerous.  Why? Because once you know about something, you can't forget it and you can't go on as if you didn't know it.  Thus, the saying "ignorance is bliss".  If you want to remain in bliss and buy inexpensive Halloween candy, don't watch this.  If you want to be educated and understand the true cost of your candy, click play.

What did you think? Did this surprise you? What are you going to do now?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homeschooling through high school

You would think by 10th grade all the homeschooling decisions had been made.  Obviously, we are homeschooling and we did decide to continue throughout high school, so what else is there to do. . .Ah, college testing.  This very morning DD is taking her PSAT's.

I don't know about you but choosing homeschooling over public schooling for day to day education became a clear cut decision, but I have always been nervous about how this choice would affect the ability of my children to get into college.  Certainly colleges are much more open to homeschoolers than previously, but as a parent we don't want to do anything that will inhibit our children from reaching their dreams.  It seems as we reach the high school age, I am faced with these decisions quite frequently:

Does she take the standardized testing?
Do we enroll in college early?
Should she get her GED?
How carefully do I keep her transcript?
Do we adhere to the traditional standards of four years of English, two years of a foreign language, etc?

Eeeek!  Each of these answers may make or break choices that she wants to make in the future.  I have scoured many homeschooling books, talked to homeschoolers, read blogs, and even talked to college admissions officers, but it seems everyone has a slightly different opinion of how you "have to do it".  So we are left back where we were just trying to make the best decisions that we can.  And so as I said, today she is taking her PSAT's.

I must tell you that as we were studying for this test, I remembered all the reasons that I object to traditional schooling.  This test isn't testing your knowledge; it is testing your test taking ability.  There are 500 page books to teach you all the hints and tricks they use on these tests.  And we won't even get into the idea of timing a test.  But we decided to go this route, because one, it gives her an opportunity for the National Merit Scholarship and two, I think for some schools the SAT's are still very important, especially for a homeschooler who cannot show traditional grades. Now we may get farther along this path and start taking college classes at the community college which will allow her to transfer to a state school and therefore invalidate the whole SAT process, but then I figure, what is the harm. 

Homeschooling through high school should probably be renamed to homeschooling into college.  On the positive side, DD's own accomplishments during high school will hopefully speak louder than any official transcript.  The trick will be to find an admissions officer who is willing to listen (and a pocketbook to pay the bill ; ) ).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How do our children grow from little girls to young women?

How do you know when you children are growing up?  You know when you go to a wedding and they are no longer dancing with Dad, uncles, and grandfathers.  You know when you can see boys checking her out and one obviously crushed when she danced with another.  When did this happen?  When did she go from a cute little girl dancing on her daddy's feet to a young woman.  I swear I only blinked and she is all grown up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Weight Loss Secret

We have a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog, Max.  He is a runt for a Berner, but is beautifully colored  and according to the vet weighs just the right amount.  According to her, you should be able to feel the animals ribs but not see them.  The interesting thing is that Max has a ton of extra skin.  You can pull up gobs of it.  He seems to need a tummy tuck very badly.  Of course with all of his hair, you would never notice.  So the question is how can a dog that eats constantly and sleeps in any of his spare time have such a svelt figure.

Yesterday, I realized the answer: his tail is in constant motion. We actually sometimes call him Flip because that is all his tail does: flip, flip, flip.  So I'm thinking that this is the dog equivalent to the person who can stop shaking his leg or tapping his hands.  Maybe if I start to become figitty, I too can become fit and sexy.