Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Suck And I'm Telling Santa

These are some Christmas activities which I have traditionally enjoyed: shopping, gift wrapping, story reading, daily devotions, baking and candy making, music, decorating, kid crafts, advent calendars, letter writing, card mailing, family photos, and tree hunting. Interestingly enough, attending advent services at church has never been a high point for me. I prefer Lent. Also, no matter how cute my kiddos were or are, I have always hated their Christmas pageants, concerts, and programs.

We've never done this, but, isn't that Elf on the Shelf cute? We. We've never done it. Come to think of it, WE have never done most of those things. It's pretty much always just been I who has done all that.

When I was a kid, sometimes I'd say things like "we need to clean." My Dad's response to that was, "who's 'we'? You got a mouse in your pocket?" That meant that I needed to clean and he had no intention of helping, right?

Well, as the old poem says, "and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Yes, that's right. No one else had to stir because good ole Mom was doing everything while the rest of the lot lazied around enjoying her efforts.


Christmas used to be awesome before it became a job. I really have enjoyed all of those activities at some point in the past. The problem arose when an expectation grew that it was my responsibility to pull those things off year after year. Alone. Cheerfully. Willingly.

If I don't, I'm a Scrooge. Only Scrooges decide that they just don't feel like making fudge. Only Scrooges believe you can have a very nice Christmas without a tree. Honestly, only Scrooges dislike watching 20 first graders sing while loudly shaking homemade, pipe cleaner, jingle bells. I get the stink eye for that one every year.

Here is the message I have for my family. You ruined my Christmas. You ruined it when you made me feel like I HAD to do things for you and took away the joy I used to feel when I GOT to do those things just because I wanted to. You ruined it when you made me feel like I was an asshole just because I wasn't in the mood to watch It's A Wonderful Life. You ruined it when you whined that there wasn't any rock candy, but refused to help me make it. You all suck, and I'm telling Santa.

This year, I will only do what I want to do when I want to do it. The only thing that I am requiring of myself is to set up the nativity scene and to, at least once, tell my kids the story of when Christ was born.

I have already bought some presents, but I think I might just stop, now. We'll see whether I get a hankering to whip up a batch of fudge. Chances are, that at some point this season, I will feel a desire to do something special for someone else's family. Please pull your tops out of your bottoms and recognize that this is how Christmas is supposed to be.

I love you, family, but I am not your own personal Christmas house elf. Feel free to talk to Santa about me, too. I don't need his presents, anyway. I have God's.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Looking 40 In The Eye

Dear Bubblez,

You are not a sex kitten. You are a mom. You have mom hair and wear mom jeans or more often, yoga pants. All of your daily activities are, in some way, mom related. Quit acting like an idiot with your semi-flirtatious ways. If you can't be sexy, you can at least be respectable.

I know this makes you sad. I promise that it makes Sheldon feel even worse, because he is a man, and men believe that they deserve a sex kitten. Right about now, he's looking at his life and feeling cheated. He will probably be shopping for a Ferrari sometime soon. That's just how it works. You will look at his sexy new car and know that it should be you making Shel's motor run, but you will shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to it because you are too damned tired to be anything more to anyone else.

You are quickly approaching 40, and although I know you are fighting the mentality that 40 is a significant milestone, it's eating at you. I know what 40 means to you.

It means that your version of a fun night involves having another couple over to play cards instead of going out dancing. It means that your personality that you have fought so hard to keep shiny since the babies came, is about to be outshined by young adults with shiny personalities of their own. You have to let that happen. Kids need to shine like they need to eat.

It means a new kind of make-up for mature faces and saying goodbye to pink hair. It means comfortable shoes and regular doses of ibuprofen or aspirin as well as lots of vitamins, and potentially blood pressure or cholesterol meds.

It means that the tables are turning and it's your turn to take care of your parents instead of them taking care of you. It means a lot more work and a lot less play. For you, it probably means that the furrow in your brow is going to get deeper.

Yesterday, you admitted that you'd rather watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve on TV in your warm living room than spend all day standing in the cold in Times Square. Sheldon didn't believe you. He can't accept that you're getting older, getting tired, losing your spark. It's not like you to pass up an adventure.

Oh stop crying.

Other "older" women seem to have found a way to keep their zest. Ok. Yes. Some of them are faking it. You will probably try that, too. Quitting really isn't in your DNA, but it bothers me to see how often you've considered it as of late.

At the very least, do this for me. Color your hair silver while your face still looks youngish. Trust me. It will be a cool look, and it won't be fun anymore if you wait until silver's natural. Also, get a tattoo while your skin is still resilient. You should also consider joining a gym.

Just remember, if you start feeling sexy again, do NOT flirt with younger men. It's distasteful and gross to be a cougar.

Love,
Yourself.


P.S. Love yourself.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Twenty-Seven

I saw this at the grocery store, the other day.

See the blue part there? "If you're lucky enough to look under 27..."


I chuckled quietly and thought, what a clever little way to keep people from getting angry when you card them. That thought was followed quickly by, and if you don't look younger than 27, you're unlucky? Hey! Fuck you.

Didn't being older used to be a good thing? There was a time when looking older got you some respect, didn't it? Is that mentality dying? Is it dead?

Four or five years ago, I took my kids to a playground. There was a boy climbing on top of the equipment and balancing in a precarious manner. He looked like he might fall at any second, and his parents were sitting at a picnic table on the other side of the park, not watching.

"You should probably come down from there," I said as my own children played around me.

"You're not my mom. I don't have to do what you say."

My thoughts ran something like this: Excuse me? Are you serious, kid? Where do you get off speaking to an adult that way?

For the record, I called to the boys parents to ask them if they were ok with their brat's climbing, and they yelled for him to get down and come sit by them. I wonder if they'd have been embarrassed by what their kid said if I'd have told them. Respecting others might not have a been a very high priority with that family.

What about my family? Am I contributing to the disrespect of aged people? I'm guilty of sighing over or complaining about my wrinkles and grey hairs. I buy face creams, hair dyes, make-up, and clothes to give myself a more youthful appearance. Am I ashamed of being older? And how can I demand respect for that which I am ashamed of?

People, I think something's wrong.

I'm wondering, does this age thing go part and parcel with the outrage over body image? Is it a symptom of a bigger disease or is it the disease? Should I want to look older so that I'm respected or younger so that I'm, what, desired? Desired by who? Desired for what? Maybe a longing to be desired is really just a longing to be loved and.. Respected? Or simply accepted? Will looking older get me any respect, anyway?

Oh my gosh, what's wrong with our nation that people are feeling so needy and unfulfilled?

I wondered where this mentality that we must all look younger came from. I started Googling phrases like "why look young." The results I found shocked me.


Is aging normal? Are you freaking kidding me?

I finally found this at eHealth. A girl complains of looking too young for her age and how annoying it is. Responses include several commiserations and a few like this one:
What? That is not a problem, that is a blessing! Don't worry ...[you're] smart..and gorgeous! Enjoy it! Love yourself and enjoy being young and beautiful because in the blink of an eye you will be older and look back saying why didn't I enjoy my youth. I am 49 and look 49. I wish I looked 39 or 29...come on, girl!
 And then finally someone with some wisdom:
I just want to be happy for my age. I think we worry too much about how we look when it's really such a small part of who we are. What I really wish is that I knew then what I know now. If I could go back to when I was in my early 20s, I would tell myself to just enjoy it and not be so insecure. I would tell myself to enjoy my youthful body for what it can do for me, not how it looks in the eyes of others. That would have freed me up to do a lot of the things I didn't do then because I was afraid of how I would look doing it. I think you gain a lot of confidence with age and maturity (and motherhood) and I would never trade that for younger looks.
And this:
...people (unfortunately) treat you more kindly if they think you're young or look good. Our values are all mixed up.
Finally, I found what I was looking for, ironically, in the virtual pages of Time Magazine, in an interview with author Suzanne Braun Levine, the first editor of Ms. magazine.
Why do so many women lie about their age?
Well, we live in a society that is very ageist. Certainly the most significant victims have been women. It used to be that when a woman went through what was called her "change of life" — which was what menopause was called — her life stopped changing. Now we are creating a whole new age for women that really defies the stereotype that as women get older, they should be invisible, they should sit by the phone and wait for an opportunity to baby-sit for their grandchildren. I think our experience is going to change the perception of women in this society.
So, that's what it's all about? Our desire to look younger is a trickle down effect from the feelings of a previous generation, where women in particular, associated being older with being worthless. At some point, our feminist grandmothers began fighting a system that was degrading them by using  make-up. It's really not that different from Katherine Hepburn donning pants. No wonder the Avon lady was such an icon! I guess my perception of respected elders was limited to exactly that, a younger person respecting an older person, and left no room for respect from one's peers.


On the website for Psychology Today, Vivian Diller writes,
...I predict that in the near future, there will be more men and women who feel as I do, not only proud about their age, but eager to celebrate it as an accomplishment, a sign of health and longevity.
Right on! Now, we're talking.

Reading Ms. Diller's article gave me the hope I was looking for in researching this subject. I would quote her entire article to you, except that doesn't make any sense when you can click on the above link and just go read it, there. She gives me hope for a future where people are proud of the way they are naturally, and she gives me courage to help that movement along.

Accepting your age doesn't mean you have to "let yourself go." It is still in your best interest to exercise, eat right, and wear sunscreen. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with hair color, high fashion, and make-up, either, as long as they are used for creative expression rather than for hiding who you really are, but I'm not sure, honestly, where that line is.

In a few months, I'll be 40 years old. I have four children. I've suffered a few hardships. I'm far from being a sage, but I've lived a little. I don't look under 27. I'm ok with that. Don't tell me I shouldn't be.



Dear Bedroom Walls

Dear Bedroom Walls,

I understand what it feels like to have been neglected. I know the sadness of having wrinkles and cracks develop in your face and have no one bother to help relieve the stress that caused them. I want you to know that I am here, now, and I've come to help you. I do require some patience on your part, however. There are so many other objects, both animate and inanimate, which are vying for my attention. I'm afraid you need quite a lot of work, my dears. It's going to take time.

It's my understanding that your former owners were kind people. I guess they just weren't the sort who give proper attention to details, and as a result, your beauty has faded, but together we will restore your former loveliness and make you beautiful once again. As I scrape away layers of wallpaper, some which were probably once quite flattering on you before becoming old and faded, and others that are cheap and gaudy, I curse the people who made you this way. I know that time can wreak havoc on the best of houses, but it is clear to me that your plaster was neglected for such a very, very long time, and the cracks and holes were simply covered over to be out of sight and out of mind. The rug, downstairs, has seen similar abuses. It's not just you.

Sometimes, I fear that I do not have the skills necessary to help you feel whole, again. I bought some spackle and some tape, and I've been watching old Bob Vila tutorials on YouTube in an effort to help us fix this. I dream of the day when I can run my hand over the cool smooth surface of your face and dress you in a beautiful coat of fresh blue paint. Oh, what a glorious day that will be!

Here's to the future, my darlings.

With respect,
                          Your new owner <3 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hey Jealousy, My Kid's A Bully

I received a text from a friend, yesterday, that read like this:
Wow. So, K is bawling because Boots told her she didn't want to be her friend anymore and she couldn't come over to her house, anymore. What the heck? Doesn't seem like Boots. Would you please investigate?
First off, I want to give my friend some credit for controlling her inner mama bear. I felt that she worded this well, so as not to pick a fight, when on the inside she really wanted to come over to my house and beat us all half to death. She's a good mom and a good friend.

The funny thing about it was, did she really think that this kind of thing was out of character for Boots? See, I know my kid, and she is capable of being a real jerk. Maybe my friend was just allowing me that offering in an attempt to find a peaceful solution? At any rate, I could totally picture this scene going down. I knew that K did something, probably something silly and unimportant, that got on Boot's nerves, and Boots went off.


My Boots is a child who cries. She's a girl who is sensitive and gets her feelings hurt easily. She is also a kid who has learned to defend her own emotions by being positively hateful toward others. On top of that she is very proud and doesn't like to admit when she's wrong. Our conversation went something like this,

"So, Boots, I heard you and K got into a fight today."

She continues to play with her toy while answering dismissively, "oh yeah. Teenie already talked to me about it."

Umm, huh? I ignore that. "So, what happened?"

Still playing and acting bugged that I won't drop it, she answers, "My anger got away from me and I said some mean words, ok? But it's over now."

So, I dug a little deeper and found the root of the problem that day had been jealousy, which was a word that Boots would not repeat on her own and did not want me to say. She did begrudgingly admit that it was the actual problem, but could we please word it in a way that didn't make her sound like such an asshole? K had been talking to another friend that day who wasn't Boots, and "I just really needed a friend, right then," which translated as "I wanted her to play with me and when she didn't, it pissed me off."


I did the good mom thing and made arrangements for her to apologize, but mostly because I'm friends with K's mom, and because I knew Boots didn't mean a word of what she'd said to K and would very much like to play with her again.

Boots and K, age 4, K's house
Hopefully, Boots learned something about the proper way to treat a friend, but it's got to be hard for her when I'm kind of a jerk, too. If K had just been some random kid on the playground, I can't say that I'd have cared.

Yeah, you heard me.


I do want my children to treat others with kindness and compassion, and I do try to model that for them. We take chicken soup to sick friends, donate to charities, and participate in community service events. But, on the flip side of that, they also know that I am in full support of a good old fashioned ass kicking when the time is right.

I would rather that my kid be the one who threw the punch.

I am of the unpopular mindset that there are too many woosies in the world. That fewer kids need to be told to coddle their peers and more kids need to be told to suck it up and deal. We can paint a picture of a beautiful world where everyone is kind to one another, but that image will always be a misrepresentation of the actual truth. People are mean. Every single one of us has a mean side. Every single one of us has shown it at some point, maybe to our spouse, maybe in the work place.

I don't want my kids to get stepped on. I want them to be fighters. I want them to be assertive, perhaps even aggressive. I want them at the top of the ladder looking down on everyone else. I do! I'm their mom. Of course, I do. Since the beginning of time, mothers have wanted their own children to succeed, to get ahead. Ahead of what? Everyone else. It's even in the Bible (Matthew 20:20-21). Look it up. 


Ok, I don't want Boots or any of my kids to be assholes. I do not want them to turn a blind eye toward injustice, nor do I want them to be propagators of injustice. What I really want is for them to be brave, strong, determined, tenacious, resolute, and unfaltering in the pursuit of their goals. I want them to stand up for what they believe in. I want them to stand up for themselves. I want them to protect both themselves and their friends. I want them to be soldiers, and sometimes soldiers have to knock people down. (or shoot them, whatever, this is a metaphor)

So, was Boot's behavior wrong with her friend, K? Yes. It was.

But the day may come when my little daughter has a person in her life who is just plain bad news, and I hope that when that day comes, she has enough fight, even anger driven fight, in her heart to say, "I don't want to be your friend, anymore. I don't want you to come over to my house, anymore. I don't want to see you. I want you to go away," and I hope she'll have the oomph to back it up and not give in. I hope that when she is all grown up and there is some conniving, underhanded jerk in her work place, that she will have the boldness and confidence to say, "You have wronged me and others in this place, and it needs to stop." And who knows? Maybe some day my Boots will be a soldier. Maybe there will be a man with an evil plan of cruelty and oppression, and she will polish her gun, pull back her hair, put on her helmet, and go knock somebody down.. who deserves it.

K's mom's cousin and my friend, Pvt. S. Bowers, home on leave 2010


or... she might turn out to be a pirate :/


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Socialization BS

The first question anyone asks when you tell them that you want to homeschool is, "What about socialization?" I guess this is a valid question. Nobody wants their kids to not have friends, and we all know how important it can be to understand and read social cues as adults, in the work place or otherwise. I suspect, however, that a lot of parents who bristle at the idea of homeschooling are really just hiding behind the idea of socialization to mask their own fears of inadequacy. Few people want to openly admit that they just plain do not want to be responsible for educating their own child. Admitting something like that makes a person feel like an irresponsible parent in a society that puts, possibly, too much emphasis on honoring children.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting someone else educate your child, but I hate, hate, hate it when people presume that if a child is being educated at home, then that child will have no social skills.

Is it possible to completely isolate your children and ruin their ability to function in society? Yes, if you are cruel and abusive. (I know a couple of adults who have trouble forming healthy relationships because their abusive parents refused to allow them a social life outside of public school.) Is it normal for homeschooled children to be isolated and socially inept? No. No, it is not normal at all. If you are choosing to homeschool, I hope I can assume that you are simply interested in doing what is best for your child. Part of home educating, is making sure your kids get opportunities to learn and play (because it's in the casual moments when our relationships form) with other children.


The idea that homeschool kids generally don't know how to make friends is pure, simple, bullshit. If you, as a home educator, are not careful, you and your kids will be so busy socializing and goofing off that you won't ever get around to cracking open a book. As soon as people realize that you are all at home during the day, every other person who is also at home during the day will start asking you to hang out with them. Lots of homeschoolers shut the ringers off on their phones between 8 and 3 to keep people from bothering them while they're trying to teach.

Also, once you hook up with other homeschooling families, you will be having holiday parties and book clubs and trips to see every damn thing in town. You'll want to do this stuff because it's fun for the kids and for you. There have been times when we all got together for an hour long lesson and then spent the next three hours letting the kids play while the grown-ups sat around gabbing. There have been times when I had to say, no, we can't do whatever today. We are falling behind on our schoolwork.

Homeschoolers in urban areas, especially, have scads of social opportunities. Rural homeschoolers might have to dig a little deeper or drive a little to farther to participate in these things, but then, they do that for everything (shopping, etc), right? So, what's the big deal?

First of all, you have all of the various local businesses that focus on teaching kids dancing, swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, or anything else. Gyms like the YMCA often offer special classes for homeschoolers. There are sports and theatre opportunities available through community resources or even through many conventional schools. Are you affiliated with a religious group? Most of those have classes and youth groups available. The local library probably offers interesting opportunities for kids to hang out together, too. Don't discount after school (latch key) programs for your homeschooled children, either. How about boy or girl scouts and 4-H Club? And I haven't even touched on the number of homeschool support groups and co-ops that exist, only that when once you get involved with them, they keep you busy.

Also, being free from the bullies and mean girls, the eat or get eaten attitude that is prevalent among children in conventional schools, allows a child to grow in kindness and confidence, and enables them to reach out to others in a friendly way without the fear of being belittled or shunned. Take my daughter, Teenie, for example.

Here she is at a slumber party, age 8, with red hair and rabbit ears.
And here she is on her 14th birthday, looking like she wants to kill me.


Teenie had been receiving her education at home from second grade on. This school year, she decided to attend the public high school. She was also new in town, so saying she was the "new kid" was putting is mildly. Teenie passed nervously through her first day. To say that she was strung out when she got home that day was an understatement. Do you know what the problem was? She kept getting lost in the new building and was worried that she wouldn't find her classes.

As her mother, I knew that this was a normal part of first day anxiety that happens with every student pretty much every year. What I was worried about, of course, was whether or not the other kids were mean to her. Well, Teenie, having only rarely been exposed to mean kids, just assumed that everyone was nice. As a result, she approached the other students with confidence, asking for directions to this room or that one, asking for assistance with her locker, and smiling at anyone who looked her way. She came home from her first day of school with two phone numbers of girls in her choir class and her first story of having been flirted with by a boy. Oh if only she hadn't been homeschooled! We could have avoided such trauma. 

Perhaps one is concerned instead about what happens to her delicate, carefully tended to, psyche when some jerk does come along. I wish I could say that homeschooled kids never have to encounter mean people, but if you have been that good, non-abusive, parent I mentioned earlier, your kids have. The difference is that when they do encounter them, the kids aren't left alone to navigate those waters, and chances are that if you didn't actually witness it happening, your homeschooled child feels close enough to you to tell you about it. Homeschooled children are used to working through problems of all kinds with their parents.

So, when Teenie got left off of the invite list for some girl's slumber party, we talked about how some people are more comfortable with certain kinds of friends. When Teenie got picked on for praying before meals when her friend didn't, we talked about standing up for our values amidst diversity. When she got teased for being too skinny by a friend who felt self conscious about her own weight, we talked about what it means to have a healthy body image and how we can validate other people and make them feel special. And when her best friend broke her heart and made her cry by saying that she didn't want to be friends anymore, I offered to kick the asses of everyone in that kid's family. 


It was the same stuff any parent would do for the same issues every child deals with.

We just dealt with them at home. 


Homeschooling Part 3: So, What's So Great About It?

If homeschool is something you are still considering, I do have this bit of encouragement to offer. If you can teach your child to count to 10 and say their ABC's, you have no reason to believe that you won't be able to teach them beyond that. I taught all four of my children how to read, and it was so easy that I can't even tell you how I did it, exactly. So, if you are worried about whether or not you are capable, regardless of your own educational background or lack thereof, you are.

I don't know them, but I'm willing to bet that your kids are pretty damned smart. They can learn from you. All you have to do is provide them with the right materials and learning environment. Even if you are not the greatest teacher in the world, chances are good that your child will still learn better one on one with you than they would 25 to 1 in a conventional classroom.

I hate hate hate it when people presume that if your children are being educated at home, they will have no social skills. Is it possible to completely isolate your children and ruin their ability to function in society? Yes, if you are cruel and abusive. (Come to think of it, I know a couple of people who attended public school who weren't allowed any friends or social life outside of learning, due to abusive parents, and those people still have trouble forming healthy relationships.) Is it normal for homeschooled children to be isolated and socially inept? No. No, it is not normal at all. If you are choosing to homeschool, I hope I can assume that you are simply interested in doing what is best for your child. Part of home educating, is making sure your kids get opportunities to learn, and most importantly, play (because it's in the casual moments when our relationships form) with other children.

Homeschoolers in urban areas, especially, have scads of social opportunities. Rural homeschoolers might have to dig a little deeper or drive a little to farther to participate in these things, but then, you do that for everything (shopping, etc), right? So, what's the big deal?

First of all, you have all of the various businesses that focus on teaching kids music, dancing, swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, or anything else. Of those, many offer daytime classes which are geared specifically toward homeschooling families. Gyms like the YMCA often offer special classes for homeschoolers, as well. Even roller rinks and horse stables will offer, at the very least, an occasional homeschooling event. There are sports and theatre opportunities available through community resources, and depending on what state you're in, through both private and public schools. Some schools will even let your kids take elective courses at their facilities right along side their regular students. Are you affiliated with a religious group? I bet there are regular classes once or twice a week at your church, aren't there? The local library probably offers interesting opportunities for kids to hang out together, too. Don't discount after school (latch key) programs for your homeschooled children, either. How about boy or girl scouts and 4-H Club? And I haven't even touched on the number of homeschool support groups and co-ops that exist.

By the way, you will appease Grandma and whoever else is expressing negativity toward your decision to homeschool your children, when you give her the opportunity to say, "Oh my. I'll tell you, my seven year old grand-daughter was reading to me about bugs last week. They went out on this hiking trip, or whatever it was, and she showed me probably 50 pictures of different bugs she had seen. She was telling me about this one and that one. I swear she's smarter than I am! And oh my goodness, they are involved in this and that. Why it's just go go go with them." Shh.. between you and me, it doesn't have to be go go go. You just want a healthy balance, and Grandma just wants to be able to impress her friends.

Social time outside the home is important, but what most people really like about homeschool is the strong relationships that are built within the home. Ask any homeschooling family about sibling rivalry. I'm willing to bet my right arm that most will say it's only a minor concern. Ask homeschool families about their children's disobedience and disrespect toward parents and other authority figures. They might say they have one kid who challenges the rules, but generally speaking their kids are respectful and well behaved. Why is that?

Well, for one thing, homeschool offers parents and children a unique bonding opportunity. You work together rather than against each other. It's not "go do your homework" and "go do your chores." It's "let's sit down and talk about this subject" and "let's use this hour to clean up the kitchen." That's not to say you won't have a child who tries to sneak away and hide when it's time for the less pleasant acts to be done, but you really just do not get as much fighting and resistance when they know you are on their side and are working right along with them to accomplish the same goals. They know you will be there for the fun stuff, too, and that makes a world of difference.

Also, being free from the bullies and mean girls, the eat or get eaten attitude that is prevalent among children in conventional schools, allows a child to grow in kindness and confidence, and enables them to reach out to others in a friendly way without the fear of being belittled or shunned. Take Teenie, for example.

My daughter had been receiving her education at home from second grade on. This school year, she decided to attend the public high school. She was also new in town, so to say she was the "new kid" was putting is mildly. Teenie passed nervously through her first day. To say that she was strung out when she got home that day was an understatement. Do you know what the problem was? She kept getting lost in the new building and was worried that she wouldn't find her classes.

As her mother, I knew that this was a normal part of first day anxiety that happens with every student pretty much every year. What I was worried about, of course, was whether or not the other kids were mean to her. Well, Teenie, having only rarely been exposed to mean kids, just assumed that everyone was nice. As a result, she approached the other students with confidence, asking for directions to this room or that one, asking for assistance with her locker, and smiling at anyone who looked her way. She came home from her first day of school with two phone numbers of girls in her choir class and her first story of having been flirted with by a boy. Oh if only she hadn't been homeschooled! We could have avoided such trauma.

Can I brag for a minute? We just received Teenie's midterm report in the mail. She's getting A's in every class but one, math. I'm taking the blame for that one. She took algebra a year early at home, but as you know if you read Part 1 of this series, math is not Teenie's strong area. Instead of enrolling her in sophomore level geometry, I should have had her retake algebra with the other freshmen, because even though she expressed confidence, I knew she was shaky. What I am SO proud of, are her study skills. She is a hard worker who knows how to and isn't opposed to studying. When I was in high school, I found that good grades were pretty easy to come by. If I showed up and turned in my homework, I could usually pull off a B average, and I really did not see the point in working for an A. My lack of study skills killed me when I got to college. Teenie will be just fine.

A fun side effect of homeschooling, is that kids learn how to learn. That sounds silly, doesn't it, but how many times have you heard someone say, I wish I knew how to...? So many people have no idea how to approach the acquisition of new information. When you homeschool, finding information is part of everyday life, and the longer you do it, the more aware you are of available resources. There's the internet, the library, the television, the lady across the street, or the man at Home Depot who all might be able to help you. You know how to find the information and how to get it from the source into your own head. Sometimes, it's just asking. Sometimes, it requires setting up an appointment or sending a letter of inquiry.

Did it ever occur to you, that it's easier to learn more and get ahead in life if you have good manners? It occurs to homeschoolers. Having well mannered children is often another pleasant side effect.

Here are a few other things that are benefits of homeschooling:

-You make your own schedule, including vacation time.
-You have more time as a family and more time to serve your community.
-You know what your kids are doing and who they're with.
-You control your child's diet.
-You can tailor your curriculum to your child's unique learning style.
-Children learn more from you, and less from their peers.
-Your child can experience more things first hand when they are not limited to a classroom.
-The people in your home will experience fewer illnesses and have the chance to rest and heal when illness does occur.
-You choose what your children learn in terms of heritage, religion, morals, and values.

So, now that I've told you some of the good things about educating at home, is homeschooling right for you? If you're thinking, "oh, hell no," I'm sure glad you can recognize that. But if you're thinking, "wow, that is right up my alley," and want information that will help you get off on the right foot, visit:

 Homeschooling Part 4: Getting Started



Go back to Homeschooling Part 1: Our Story
Go back to Homeschooling Part 2: Is Homeschooling WRONG for you?

If you have questions regarding any aspect of home education, please feel free to contact me, and I will try to get your questions answered. BloggerBubbz@gmail.com



Homeschooling Part 2: Is Homeschooling WRONG For You?

The number of resources available to help you teach your kids at home would blow your mind. In fact, I have a friend who teaches with the Bob Jones curriculum. One day she was looking for some books to supplement with, and I introduced her to the Rainbow Resource catalog. The look on her face upon seeing a three inch thick, city phonebook-like catalog, showed clearly that she thought I was nuts for even suggesting that she try to wade through it.

If homeschooling is something that you are serious about, you best be gettin' your research on, baby. If the truth is that you are simply lazy or uninterested in what your child is learning, homeschooling is not for you. You need to be honest with yourself about this. You also need to be honest about how selfish you are because homeschooling can take a lot of time and energy away from other aspects of your life.

Here's the deal. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It is not just a way of feeding your kids the 3 R's over a bowl of soup at lunchtime. That's what a lot of people don't realize. When you are a homeschooling family, the edumacatin' never stops. So, it's a Tuesday evening, and you've got a great opportunity to see Venus in the sky and talk about the planets, stars, constellations.. maybe contact your buddy, Google, and read your horoscopes or find out how thick/thin the ozone layer is over your part of the world. The kids don't get to bed that night until 11:30 or 12. Oh well. That's homeschool. Or maybe it's a Saturday at Grandma's house. You go to use the bathroom and there's a mutherloving spider as big as your head sitting in the bathtub. Pull up your drawers, my friend. You are a homeschooler. There are lessons to be learned before letting Grandpa wage war on that 8 legged demon. Are you getting me? Maybe that's not for you.

And then there's this: if you are always learning, when are your poor lonely kids having any fun? Ok, the idea that homeschool kids don't know how to make friends is pure, simple, bullshit. This is a good time to discuss time management and whether or not you suck at it, because if you are not careful, you and your kids will be so busy socializing and goofing off that you won't ever get around to cracking open a math book, and you do need to get that done. As soon as people realize that you are all at home during the day, every other person who is also at home during the day will start asking you to hang out with them. Lots of homeschoolers shut the ringers off on their phones between 8 and 3 to keep people from bothering them while they're trying to teach. I do not lie.

Also, once you hook up with other homeschooling families, you will be having holiday parties and book clubs and trips to see every damn thing in town. You'll want to do this stuff because it's fun for the kids and for you. There have been times when I was more excited about what we were learning than the kids were. There have been times when we all got together for an hour long lesson and then spent the next three hours letting the kids play while the grown-ups sat around gabbing. There have been times when I had to say, no, we can't do whatever today. We are falling behind on our schoolwork.

Seriously, if you can not figure out how to manage time effectively or if you find yourself incapable of letting the phone go to voicemail or telling another person no, homeschooling might not be for you.

Here's something else, folks. Money might be an obstacle. I hate to say too much about this because I've known people who homeschooled successfully on next to nothing. The K12 program is good for that as long as you aren't something of an anarchist, like me. I also know of people who have dropped a couple of grand on their home education expenses. Think about how much money you would spend on public (not free) or private schooling, and then consider what you can afford for homeschool. Having the money to purchase ready made resources can offset your lack of creativity or time, so think about that balance before choosing to homeschool. 

Furthermore, your work schedule needs to be considered. In some states, grandparents or other care providers are legally allowed to homeschool your children when you are unavailable. Some older children might even be able to (mostly) educate themselves, depending on the curriculum and learning style you choose and the disposition of the child. Some parents find that they can work outside the home or work from home and still manage to successfully homeschool, but finding that balance takes a high level of planning and commitment that the majority of parents feel is overwhelming.

Are you a worrier by nature? Homeschooling is just the sort of thing that might put a worrier over the edge. You will worry about what everyone and their dentist thinks about your decision. You will worry about whether or not your kids are on par academically. You will worry about their future chances of getting into college or finding a job. You will worry about Social Services coming to check up on you. You will worry about not noticing some disorder that your kid might need to be tested for. And no matter how many friends your child has out in the community, you will still worry that they won't be able to make friends with "normal" kids who go away to school. Homeschooling is not for pussies.

On a similar note, homeschooling is not for the over protective parent. If sending your kid out into the world terrifies you, it could be that sending them out is exactly what they need. Home education  can be a good choice for families who are stuck with a violent or otherwise unhealthy school system, but it is not a healthy choice for helicopter parents who will inhibit rather than enhance their child's ability to grow into a mature and confident individual. Also, consider your child's temperament. Some kids thrive at home. Others do better in a more public environment. Those public environments can be in places other than a conventional school system, but are you willing and able to find one and make sure that your child is a part of it?

I bring up these concerns because so many people who are tentatively approaching the question, "should our family homeschool?" will be told about all the positives without being honestly informed of  the negatives (kind of like when you decided to have a baby in the first place), and you need to know what you're getting into.

Homeschooling Part 3: So, What's So Great About It?


If you have questions regarding any aspect of home education, please feel free to contact me, and I will try to get your questions answered. BloggerBubbz@gmail.com

Go back to Homeschooling Part 1: Our Story




Friday, November 2, 2012

Homeschooling Part 1: Our Story

It's great to live in a country where parents have choices regarding their child's education.

At age 5, Teenie had begun in private school and life was rolling along. She was ahead of her class with her reading and writing, and was a rule follower, like her daddy. She was quiet and good and got overlooked by the teacher who had more problematic students to deal with. She was failing math.

One day during the summer following her first grade year, I decided to ask her the sum of 3 and 4. She didn't know. She had fooled her teachers by quietly counting out the answers to every math problem that came her way for an entire year, putting her a full year behind.

Shel and I had to make a decision. It was too late to try to get her into another private school, and the public schools in that area worried us. We had good friends with children similar in age to ours who were homeschooling. I started asking questions. Soon, we learned that Teenie's best friend at the private school had been pulled out in favor of homeschooling. Our sweet seven year old daughter looked at us and asked, "why don't we homeschool?" So, we gave it a shot. By the end of second grade, we had done two years worth of math along with all of her other subjects, at home, and she was all caught up.

When it was time for Nik to start school, we applied to another private school in the area. This place had a pre-school program for Moo, too, so it seemed perfect. Teenie was doing well at home, so we decided that we'd let the boys go for a year and see how it went.

If you haven't been following me long or if you just haven't picked up on it by now, Nik is smart. Really smart. While the other kindergarteners were learning to read, Nik was sitting at home with Magic Tree House. He wasn't just good at reading, either. He was good at every subject. His teacher praised him for his profound questions and puzzled over his inability to pay attention. It's hard to focus when someone is telling you things you already know. We attributed most of his knowledge to the fact that he had more or less been in school with his older sister the previous year, and seeing as he wasn't socially ready to be in a grade level with older kids, Nik was also brought home.

Moo hated pre-school. He hated sitting still. He hated listening to lessons. He hated doing "stupid" art projects and singing "stupid" songs. Seriously, what kid hates pre-school? My kid.

In the same way that Teenie is much like her father, Moo is much like me. Brilliant in his own right, Moo simply didn't like being told what to do, and more specifically, how to do it. I knew that kindergarten would be more of the same, and since the older two kids were already at home, we didn't even try it. Also, to be honest, having him at home made life a lot easier for me, because by this time I had another toddler in tow (Boots), and piling all of the kids into my SUV to drag one or two back and forth to school each day was getting exhausting.

When Boots was old enough to start pre-school, it was way too much hassle to bother with. All of the kids, including her, were involved in extracurricular activities like dance, scouts, or sports, and Boots was also included in every homeschooling activity both with and without other homeschooling families, so there was really no reason for pre-school, anyway.

The year Boots turned five was the year we moved to Country Song. We were now in a far less intimidating (scary) school system, and since I believe that kindergarten is typically a fun and worthwhile experience, after much discussion and deliberation, Shel and I decided to enroll her in public school. She loved it.

Toward the end of summer, just before Boot's first grade year, she was, like many kids, whining that she was ready to go back to school. After homeschooling for so many years, this was a difficult choice for me, to allow my youngest child to continue with a public education, but she seemed to be happy and thriving, so back she went.

During the same year that Boots was starting in first grade, Teenie was ready to be a high school freshman. Although she was very nervous about getting started in a new place, Teenie had told us that she really wanted the experience of public high school, and so, she also was enrolled, and is thus far doing quite well.

At current date, I have two kids in the school system and two kids at home. I was asked recently where I felt the better education was, and unfortunately there isn't a clear answer. It really depends on the school system you are a part of, on the quality of the teachers, and on your own ability as a parent to lead your child through the school year.

Admittedly, at this moment, the girls are being better educated than the boys simply because last month we bought a new house and I am too distracted, at the moment, to teach as well as I have in the past. There have been other times, however, when I know beyond a doubt that the kids were getting the best education possible at home because of the one on one attention I could give and the vast opportunities we had for learning outside the classroom: traveling to museums, zoos, historical reenactments, musical events, or places of business.

Homeschooling Part 2: Is Homeschooling WRONG For You?

If you have questions regarding any aspect of home education, please feel free to contact me, and I will try to get your questions answered. BloggerBubbz@gmail.com