Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Family Mint (TOS Crew Review)


When I was growing up, I remember my parents telling me, "debt is a way of life... you'll always have a car payment."  When I married, we discovered the Dave Ramsey way of doing things, and life was so much better!  However, it is hard to completely shut out the training of one's youth, and my husband and I have both struggled at points with a case of the Wants.

When we received the information for Family Mint, I thought, "okay, this is going to help us teach our kids what we want them to learn about managing money - so they will not have to overcome a self-destructive foundation."

I signed our family up for an account right away.

Then, honestly, I forgot about it for the most part.

The kids each have savings accounts at the local bank, and the oldest (10yo) helps fill out deposit slips and do balancing.  They know how much they have in there and they know how much they are putting in (we haven't taken any out yet) each time, so we keep a running total of how much they have saved.  Money comes in for birthdays and Christmas, and those months are long past by this point in our year, so we haven't had money to deposit lately.

The oldest takes 10% to church (if the younger one went to church, he would, too, but that's a different tangent) and spends less than half of everything she gets.  She's my saver.  The younger one (7yo) is a spender - money is like underwear - temporary and revolving.  I definitely need to work on that.

Okay, so with Family Mint online, you can get a free basic account, and the parents act as the bankers.  The kids can each have an account, and "money" is deposited and tracked.  Interest accrues in the manner you set it up to do, and allowances can even be automatically set to accrue.  Additionally, your children (and you!) can set goals: short-term and/or long-term.  That's pretty helpful for the spender!

In actuality, we used this very little, but I have had a strange couple of months and am not altogether organized right now. (currently working on that)  I see real potential with Family Mint, however, and I think it is a valuable resource for parents.  For our family, however, it was a bad time of the year to try it with real money and it didn't occur to me how to use it any other way until this week.

In fact, my daughter is currently reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and apparently the mother uses play money to help the kids save toward goals, rewards, or real money.  We have been talking about implementing just such a policy, and Family Mint would make a wonderful resource for that!  'Course, many are using it to track their real money.  Just check out my fellow Crew Mates' reviews here.

* Disclaimer: Family Mint provided a free account to me as a member of the 2009-2010 TOS Homeschool Crew for the purposes of reviewing it.  This review is my own honest opinion, and no compensation has been provided.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When the Side Effects of Your Meds...

... are worse than your symptoms:

  •  you went from having difficulty with daily activities to laying on the floor in the fetal position.
  •  your kids went from laid-back homeschooling to full-time Spring Break.
  •  you went from speaking in a hoarse voice to having no voice at all.
  •  you experienced a 4 on the scale of "interfering with my life" before the meds and a 10 with meds.
  •  your husband went to work everyday when you had strep throat and a sinus infection, but after you took your medication one time, he was unable to work a full day.
  •  and last, but not least, you are begging God for it to be the common cold because it means no meds....

Case and point: my treatment from the doctor was to do Albuterol breathing treatments and use steroids.  One inhalation of Albuterol took almost 24 hours to get over: dizziness that made me nauseous and crashing blood sugar that also made me nauseous.  If i held my body just so and tilted my head exactly right and then didn't move, i could refrain from worsening the condition.... Fun times.

I think i'll go back to resting so i can breathe more easily.
Asthmatics have my deepest sympathies.

Monday, March 29, 2010

How Has Homeschooling Affected My Life?

Well, homeschooling IS my life, so suffice it to say, there's no stone unturned!  Massive takeover, at times, a bit hostile!!

For example, my second child was getting ready to embark on Mother's Day Out and my first child was conveniently ensconced in a Government-run "educational" facility, and I had a glimmer of real freedom... for about a day.  Then I found out I was preggo with Baby #3.  Commence Meltdown.

I have since gotten over that traumatic, er, beautiful time, and we have embraced homeschooling.  The freedom never came, the oldest got pulled from Uncle Sam's Brainwashing Academy, and the second offspring never entered a public school.  The third will not go away to preschool.

They go with me to the doctor.  This, they do not love.  Neither do I. (Mommy, why is she putting that there??) Alas, it is our lot in life... at least until the eldest is of babysitting age.

They go with me to the grocery store.  This, they love occasionally, but it usually involves a weak moment for Mommy and far too much junk in the buggy. (yes, i bribe!) Ah, the trials of offspring always underfoot!

They eavesdrop on my conversations with other mothers... and regurgitate bits and pieces of them in front of company in as inaccurate a manner as possible. (Mommy said the neighbors' dog...) Oh, the joys of motherhood!

I sleep with one eye opened, there are nightlights all over the house, my desk has a Dora mousepad, I use the bathroom with the door open (they'll just barge in, what's the point?), I share even my coffee, my dog gets more privacy than I do, instead of a curio cabinet with beautiful china dishes in it, I have wardrobes with homeschooling supplies, my kitchen windowsill hosts various plant experiments instead of a beautiful flowering one, someone says "you know?" and I look at the kids and say "Capital of Alaska" with real glee, and I dress myself so quickly my OB/GYN is always taken aback when I emerge from the room before she has written my checkout papers (high school P.E., anyone??).

Mostly, though, the way homeschooling has impacted my life would be that I get to love my kids through everything... multiplication struggles, Bible memorization difficulties, battles with friends, wars with siblings, and the pressures of being young... They are mine for only a short time, and I do not wish it away.  Nor does it fly by for me... at least, not yet.  I am told that day will come.

For now, I remain an integral part of their lives, and they, mine.

[To see more answers to this week's Blog Cruise question, click here. ]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

When Momma is Sick

So, this Momma has been sick since Wednesday.  Not a big deal.  We've all been there.  You put on your Big Girl Panties and you deal with your life.

Cooking.
    Cleaning.
          Laundry.
               Bills.
                   Pet care.
                        Child care.

And for me, homeschooling.

The past 5 days (including today) have been a trial.  Until Friday, i did not realize how sick i was.  Well, okay, i wondered... it isn't quite commonplace to feel like you have razor blades in your throat, but still.  Despite the fire in my throat, the pounding in my head, the almost complete loss of my voice, and the general tiredness, i kept on keepin' on.  Laundry, dishes, cooking, schooling... you know.

Thursday. The coughing started. Within an hour, i had pulled what felt like every muscle in my back and in my chest with the choking, can't-breathe coughing spasms that only went away when i stuck my face over boiling water.  Yeah, that was convenient.  And so it went... into the night and the next day.

Nevertheless, the show does on.  So did i.

Friday morning, however, i decided Enough was Enough and had the eldest make an appointment for me to see the doctor (no voice, remember?).  When i tested positive for Strep Throat, i was actually surprised.  I know, ridiculous.  Still.  The doctor agreed that the coughing threw her because it isn't a symptom of strep, but nonetheless, antibiotics were administered.

Now, for those of you who have experienced Strep Throat, you know that between the 24th and 30th hour post-antibiotic administration, you normally feel much better.  I, however, am still hoarse, still coughing, and still feeling yucky.  Today, while climbing the stairs (laundry, laundry, laundry), i realized how short of breath i am. Now, i wonder if i was developing bronchitis, too.

Ah, well, the show must go on.  And so must i, apparently.

One question for all you Mommas out there: When YOU are sick, does your darling husband seem completely unconcerned?  Or does he pitch in, help with the kids, do the dishes, make dinner, send you to bed?  Just curious.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Long, but worth it!

I am posting a story by Kitty Werthmann that i received via email from the Tennessee Eagle Forum.  It is well worth the time to read it.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
AMERICA.......Truly is the Greatest Country in the World.
Don't Let Freedom Slip Away

By: Kitty Werthmann

What I am about to tell you is something you've probably never heard or will ever read in history books.

I believe that I am an eyewitness to history. I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history. We elected him by a landslide - 98% of the vote. I've never read that in any American publications. Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.

In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25% inflation and 25% bank loan interest rates.

Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn't want to work; there simply weren't any jobs. My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people - about 30 daily.

The Communist Party and the National Socialist Party were fighting each other. Blocks and blocks of cities like Vienna, Linz, and Graz were destroyed. The people became desperate and petitioned the government to let them decide what kind of government they wanted.

We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933. We had been told that they didn't have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living. Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group -- Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria . We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back. Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.

We were overjoyed, and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.

After the election, German officials were appointed, and like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order.

Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.

Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn't support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.

Hitler Targets Education - Eliminates Religious Instruction for Children:

Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler's picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn't pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang "Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles," and had physical education.

Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail. The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free. We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.

My mother was very unhappy. When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn't do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun - no sports, and no political indoctrination. I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing. Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler. It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn't exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.

Equal Rights Hits Home:

In 1939, the war started and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn't work, you didn't get a ration card, and if you didn't have a card, you starved to death. Women who stayed home to raise their families didn't have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men.

Soon after this, the draft was implemented. It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps. During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys. They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines. When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat. Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service.

Hitler Restructured the Family Through Daycare:

When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers. You could take your children ages 4 weeks to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, 7 days a week, under the total care of the government. The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had.

Health Care and Small Business Suffer Under Government Controls:

Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna . After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full. If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.

As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80% of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families. All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.

We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables. Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn't meet all the demands. Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control.
We had consumer protection. We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the live-stock, then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.

"Mercy Killing" Redefined:

In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps . The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated. So people intermarried and offspring were sometimes retarded. When I arrived, I was told there were 15 mentally retarded adults, but they were all useful and did good manual work. I knew one, named Vincent, very well. He was a janitor of the school. One day I looked out the window and saw Vincent and others getting into a van. I asked my superior where they were going. She said to an institution where the State Health Department would teach them a trade, and to read and write. The families were required to sign papers with a little clause that they could not visit for 6 months. They were told visits would interfere with the program and might cause homesickness.
As time passed, letters started to dribble back saying these people died a natural, merciful death. The villagers were not fooled. We suspected what was happening. Those people left in excellent physical health and all died within 6 months. We called this euthanasia.

The Final Steps - Gun Laws:

Next came gun registration.. People were getting injured by guns. Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns. Most citizens were law abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms. Not long after-wards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns. The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily.

No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away. We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up.

Totalitarianism didn't come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.

After World War II, Russian troops occupied Austria . Women were raped, preteen to elderly. The press never wrote about this either. When the Soviets left in 1955, they took everything that they could, dismantling whole factories in the process. They sawed down whole orchards of fruit, and what they couldn't destroy, they burned. We called it The Burned Earth. Most of the population barricaded themselves in their houses.

Women hid in their cellars for 6 weeks as the troops mobilized. Those who couldn't, paid the price. There is a monument in Vienna today, dedicated to those women who were massacred by the Russians. This is an eye witness account.

"It's true..those of us who sailed past the Statue of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and opportunity.

America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World. Don't Let Freedom Slip Away
"After America, There is No Place to Go"

Math Galaxy (TOS Crew Review)

As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I was sent some Math Galaxy electronic downloads from Galaxy of Education. We used Whole Numbers Fun (geared towards 1st through 4th graders).

The mathematics concepts are presented in very concrete ways, much like our Math-U-See, with visual elements and explanations of what the concept represents (like taking something away for subtraction and having multiple rows of the same number of items for multiplication).

The program was a bit tricky to figure out for me, but once I got the idea, it was better. The menus are simplistic, which seemed to add to the problem. For example, when wanting my child to work on Time, we had to click on "Review" and "Step by Step" in order for him to start from the beginning. Clicking on "Review" seemed counter-intuitive for someone wanting to start from scratch, but once I figured that part out, we could do the program.

There is a lot of wording in a text box that explains the pictures happening on the screen, basically teaching you the math concept visually and with explanations. However, for a first-grader, that was not helpful. Having it SPEAK the words would have been a lot more helpful for mothers who can't sit with their kids and read the operations to them. In that respect, I felt like we might as well stick with hands-on manipulatives and parent-taught math, although this computer program sure takes up less space in my house! (grin)

The way the program works is the kids complete the math problems, and each problem earns them robots, which they can use to play in the Labyrinth. That's a great help for parents! Teach the kids to earn the playtime - Two Thumbs Up for that concept!

The kids thought Whole Numbers Fun was "okay" and weren't thrilled with the program, but they didn't hate it either. It is an okay math program, and it certainly seems to encompass a variety of topics, but it wasn't a great fit for us.  We are still early into homeschooling and haven't found our "it" program yet, but with all the math products we have reviewed, this program didn't excite them in the same way some of the previous ones did.

Whole Numbers Fun sells for $29.95 with free shipping on their website.  To see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of Math Galaxy, or see other programs from this vendor, click here.

*Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this program to use and review.  I was not compensated for this review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spreading the word

i am sick and i am empty of words for my blog, but God always has a plan, doesn't He?

Here is the link to a blog i follow:
Ordinary Hero Blog

They are in DESPERATE need of an African-American or Interracial Couple to adopt a newborn baby who is to be born by c-section TODAY.  This mother chose LIFE and has NOT ONE FILE to look at for her baby because she wants her baby to have Full AA parents or Interracial parents.

Spread the word, save a life....

UPDATE!!!  The Mother had a baby girl today, and thanks to prayer and outreach, she has options for adoption!  THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PASSED THIS INFORMATION ON!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Children's Bible Hour (TOS Crew Review)

We fortunate members of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew received a set of books from Children's Bible Hour Ministries.  I was sent four books with accompanying audio CDs: Race With Midnight, You Can't Come In, Seventy Times Seven, and Brave the Storm.  Each book is based on a different season, and each represents a time in the life of Christians all around the world: Spring (Race With Midnight) is new life in Christ; Summer (You Can't Come In) is growing in God's love; Autumn (Seventy Times Seven) is struggles and temptations; and Winter (Brave the Storm) is especially difficult times.  These books are part of the Seasons of Faith Series and retail for $10 each.


There were so many things to love about this book set: wonderful stories, tales based in God's word, child-friendly topics and characters we can relate to, as well as beautiful illustrations, large pages, and a compact disc that reads the book for us while we look at the pages.  I really can't choose a favorite, for we loved them all.  There was so much to learn with each one, and the fact that I can pull these books out again and again and relate them to our Christian walk as my children age is yet another bonus!

BONUS: If you order before April 15, 2010, you can receive FREE STANDARD SHIPPING on the set of four books.

To see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of these books, click here.

*Disclaimer: These books were provided for free for me to use and review. A positive review was not necessary, and this review is based upon my personal use of the product and my opinion of it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nothing

Tonight, my eyes hurt.
My head hurts.
My throat hurts.
My body hurts
The sun set and i am one big UGH.

I have absolutely nothing to say... i want to write something because i have a review to write tomorrow and i do not want to only post reviews on my blog and make you all sick of me.  However, i am sitting here, looking at the blasted blinking cursor that begs me to start it skipping across the page merrily, slapping letters happily along in neat rows... and... i... have... nothing.

Okay.
Pray.
That's something.
Let's pray.
Let's pray for our families.  Pray for our friends.  Pray for our country.

When we have nothing... there... is... God.

Sleep well, Friends.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Salvation Army Under Fire

Dunno how i missed this one, but i saw today that the Salvation Army recently came under fire by the ACLU for preaching Christianity.

Um, yeah, the "SALVATION" Army.  D'you suppose they are a Christian organization?  Yup.

However, because they opted to take government funding to reach more people in need, they essentially slipped the noose around their own necks.

Sad state of affairs when the government says, "Yes, please help the poor - we'll help you!" then later decides you can't do it if you have a religious or spiritual message to deliver with your assistance.  No bullying, just love.  No reprimand, just grace.  But, no!  Give your time, sweat, tears, funds, and energy to those in need... just don't share the saving message of the gospel.

Reckon this is something we can look forward to?  How many more people will go without assistance because the government attaches strings to its aid?

Friday, March 19, 2010

TOS Homeschool EXPO



Last week, I told you about the Homeschool EXPO that will be going on May 12-14, 2010, and this week I am reminding you NOT to miss this!  The Freebies alone are worth your time and money and there is a $5 discount to preregister by March 31st!!

We began our weather study this week with one of the free downloads we received when we registered.  We'll be delving into Colonial Times and making our own costumes next week with 2 of the freebies.

You really must participate!!  Need more??  Okay....

Topics include:
A Plan for Teaching K-12 Writing
Understanding Unit Studies
Get Real
Four Language Arts
Not Just Your Average Genius
Mercy Every Minute Devotions
Battle of the Worldviews
Making a Transcript
iHelp for the eHome

... still need more...?
Not Your Typical Homeschooler
Catching the Journaling Bug
Implementing the Workbox System
Managing the Multi-Level Homeschool
Teaching the Difficult Child

Really?  You're still not convinced??

You'll hear from speakers on all the above topics AND get amazing FREE DOWNLOADS, and it all costs you only $19.99 ($24.99 on April 1 or later).  Oh, and there's a money-back guarantee (as if you'll need that!) just in case you are still on the fence.


I have personally never been to a homeschool conference, but I am totally stoked about this one - I mean, I get to attend in my pajamas with a cup of coffee in my hand and my house face on!!  What's better than that?!?!  Well, maybe saving gas money.... {wink}

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homeschool in the Woods (TOS Crew Review)


As a member of this year's TOS Homeschool Crew, I received some goodies from Homeschool In The Woods.  They sent us an electronic copy of some hand-illustrated, black and white maps of the world and of the United States to use in our homeschool.  I was pretty excited, but wary because we have 3 giant maps on the walls already (solar system, world, and USA), and I just wondered if I would appreciate more maps.

Well, I downloaded them, and I began to print some of the United States maps to go with our Postcard Swap of the USA.  When we started using them, I was hooked.  Seriously, I am completely in love with these maps!!  (Yes, if they were a man, I would probably marry them - sorry, Honey! - they are that awesome!!)

We got the first state postcard in the mail, Alaska, and we took out our Alaska state map, the map of the USA, and the notebooking page for Alaska (the one with the answers, thank you very much!).  We learned some great stuff!! (Juneau, moose, willow ptarmigan - capital city, state animal, state bird - I still remember!! Talk about a concrete way to learn the states!) We then did this with the next state, and we plan to do it with each state we receive.  Plus, there are maps of the native peoples of the US, maps of Colonial Times, maps of the Union and Confederate States, and maps of the United States over time.  AND STILL MORE!! (yes, I feel like an info-mercial! BUT IT'S NOT A RUSE!)


The really amazing thing is that we probably won't need another map of the world or the USA for a very long time, if ever.  This set came with over 130 world maps plus 40 world notebooking pages, and more than 180 maps of the United States, plus notebooking pages for each state (pages with answers and pages without for your changing needs).  These Olde World Style maps are thorough and as detailed as you want them to be - some with outlines only, some with text and outlines.  It just seems like they thought of everything.  And for only $18.95 each or $28.95 for the pair, this is an unbelievable deal!!  How often do you find something for the enrichment of your family's education that is affordable AND timeless.  Getcha some!

Okay, okay, I will stop raving like a lunatic, but seriously, if you can't take my word for it, head over to the TOS Crew and see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Homeschool in the Woods.

*Disclaimer: I received these electronic maps for free to use and review. A positive review is not necessary, just deserving. This review is my honest opinion, and I have not been compensated for it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When was the last time...

... you met a 13-year-old who made such wise decisions that she never regretted anything, even years or decades later?
... you met a 10-year-old who never got upset with his parents' rules and/or discipline practices?
... you met a 15-year-old who didn't think she was ready to be treated like an adult?

Yeah, that's what i thought.

So, i have to ask, why does the government somehow believe that our children know better than their parents what would be best for them?  Why, then, does the proposed Healthcare Reform Bill and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child each want to put parents on the back burner and lift children to this quite terrifying responsibility of knowing their own minds, understanding their limitless choices, and being solely responsible for their lives/decisions/choices?

Scary. But true.  The UNCRC, i have known about (see information regarding the Parental Rights Amendment), but now i learn that the Healthcare Reform Bill has language in it that allows the government to enter and inspect our homes - which could lead to some really nasty social services issues. 

Been sick for a few days and have laundry piling up, dirty dishes in the sink, and kids playing the Wii in their pajamas at 2 in the afternoon?  Sorry, you're unfit, we're taking your kids to foster care.  Good luck getting them back, which even if you do, will be 4-6 months' battle while your kids are living with strangers.

Want to homeschool your children, but don't want to have a "school at home" philosophy?  Prepare to have your children yanked from their homes unless you agree to send them to the substandard schools in your district.

You think perhaps i'm exaggerating? Okay, sure, you can't believe everything some random person writes in the Blogosphere... i could be a nutcase.  I understand.

Here's some accounts of what we have to look forward to:
* Britain adopted the UNCRC and then used it to determine that homeschooling should no longer be legal, and they are attempting to require homeschooling families to produce annual reports to the government as well as mandating officials to enter homeschooling homes and interview children without a parent present.
* In Maine, 2 children were taken from their mother by a former DHS worker who hoped to adopt them. She did not cite the mother with any form of abuse or neglect, just took the kids to foster care.  Years later, her discipline practices killed one of the children, and the mother of the children is still fighting to get custody back of her surviving child.
* In California, a mother suffered a sudden bout of post-partum depression, and her infant was turned over to foster care.  Though the mother was diagnosed as temporarily irrational, and with a treatable condition, and the father was at work when his wife decided to hand the baby over to another couple, he is in the process of having his parental rights terminated so his son can be adopted by strangers.
* In Massachusetts, a mother took her 4-month-old daughter to the hospital, reporting that the baby would stop breathing.  The hospital staff also noticed the problem, but somewhere along they way, they called Social Services and reported the mother as a possible candidate for Munchausen by Proxy.  Fifteen months and numerous psychological examinations later, the mother was deemed to have never had such a condition, and her daughter was returned to her.
* In Quebec, a father forbade his daughter from participating in a 3-day outing that she had already been on as discipline for negative behavior.  The issue was taken to court, and the judge overruled the father, mandating that the 12-year-old could participate in the trip.
* I have heard of parents who are asked to sign away their right to be present or informed of issues during visits to the pediatrician - and we're not just talking teens.

Truly?  We are imagining a world in which a 9-year-old would know better than his parents what he should and should not be allowed to do?

God, help us.

As the Home School Legal Defense Association says, "Please oppose the health care reform bill. Congress should not force an unpopular bill upon Americans, especially one that increases the power of the federal government and increases the national debt. I am also opposed the bill’s creation of government home visitation programs. Parents, not federal or state officials, should make child rearing decisions for their young children." (emphasis mine)

Monday, March 15, 2010

How do you find time for everything?

Umm.... i don't.  You do??


This week's Blog Cruise topic is intended to answer the question: How do you find time for everything, like housework, homeschooling, time alone, etc.?

I learned very early on in my adulthood that YOU CANNOT HAVE IT ALL.  Oh, there are LOTS of people and organizations that want us to believe that if we do this right or get that planner or take this course or have that job or marry that type of person or whatever that we CAN have everything - but folks, it just ain't so.  There is Give with your Take and Take with your Give.  It is all a balancing act.

Okay, so how do i do it?

First of all, homeschooling isn't a portion of my day, it is my entire day.  When we take care of the dog's basic needs, we are educating.  When we take a trip to the grocery store, we are educating.  When we play with our preschooler, we are educating.  When we do laundry, or dishes, or vacuuming, or whatever, we are educating.  When i am working with the older children, my preschooler is learning patience and honing her independent play skills.  There are too many precious opportunities in regular life to focus only on the 3 R's.  We aren't trying to attain recognition for all we accomplish - we are just trying to learn and love and live the lives God gave us.

Secondly, there is no hope for getting it all done.  I do not actually believe that done is possible.  D-O-N-E is actually "Do Over Nearly Everyday."  The mundane repetition will kill you if you don't wrap your head around it's Presence.  Hence, it is all always waiting for me when i open my eyes, and i accept that i will do the same dozen things today that i did yesterday.  Part of my life... the kids need food (cooking classes), the spouse needs coffee (raising future Proverbs 31 women, you know), the dog needs to go out (veterinary medicine, anyone?), the little one needs attention (mothering/parenting education and learning to be selfless in love), the bigger ones need schooling (discipline and understanding of the world), the laundry needs sorting (sizes, colors, organization, homekeeping), the dishes need washing (more homekeeping), the bills need paying (math, discipline, money management), the house needs cleaning (and even more homekeeping), etc.  And right now, two baby chicks need me, too (raising chicks is one way we do science).

Moreover, if we strive to prove all the ways we get it all done, have it all together, and make it all work, we are not only fooling ourselves, but how can we possibly be true friends to anyone?  Most people will not like us very much, and some will raise us up on a pedestal as someone they are hoping to become... God forbid.

So, on any given day, i may not take a shower until bedtime (if at all), i may have mountains of laundry reproducing like bunnies in the hampers, my kitchen sink may overflow with dirty dishes, we may have to step over stacks of stuff on the stairs, and my floors may not be worthy of important company, but we get along.... We're gonna do it all again tomorrow, anyway. {wink}

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gonna Whine...

Yes, me.  I am going to do some whining.
Seriously.

Still here?

You've been warned....

I set up a community outreach event.  Obtained permissions, booked locations, took reservations, added official speaker, etc.  No big deal.  My civic duty.  The least i could do.  No praise, please.  Really.

Here's the rub: my city is apparently taking credit for it.  The "city leaders" are inviting local residents to take part in the seminar (which is fine since i put it in the paper anyway - open to everyone), the police detective i asked to speak is apparently "leading" the event, and yet no one can get the details right!  They are sending people to the wrong place at the right time and to the right place at the wrong time!!  Aaargh!

I am so frustrated - and hear me: not because i wanted the creditREALLY.  I just hate them playing Political P.R. with MY idea, work, effort, and initiative to make themselves look like responsible city leaders responding to public outcry.

Alright, giving it to God and going to bed.

Grr!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Advice?

i have a 10yo daughter.  My 10yo daughter is sensitive.  My sensitive 10yo daughter has begun sending me email messages to inform me of my parenting mistakes. {sigh}

What do i do with a daughter who is lazy but cannot handle being told she is being lazy?
How do i train a child who cannot accept her mistakes?
What do i do with a child who doesn't respect what i say if i am not being complimentary?
How do i raise a daughter without correction?
What do i do with a preteen who is embarking on a marathon of emotional turmoil?

Oh, Precious Jesus, give me strength and wisdom!  i feel so ill-prepared for this season!!

P.S. i am already making sure to hug and snuggle more, and we are spending more quality time together than we have the past few months.  Any other tips would be appreciated!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool EXPO!!

(quoted text)
If you're looking for homeschool encouragement, resources, and fun, check out all that is going on at The Old Schoolhouse!

Right now March Madness and Win Big are going on in the Schoolhouse Store. During March Madness, over 240 items are 10 to 40 percent off!  Click here to read the details. (Link: http://www.bit.ly/9vn2G9)

Then, if you're customer 139,000, 139,500, or 140,000, you will win over $348 in prizes. Prizes include a 5 year subscription to TOS (U.S. only), Scripture Sleuth literature series, guitar lessons on CD, and more! Hurry, they are just past customer #137,818.

The BIGGEST news of all--The Schoolhouse Expo is coming in May! 
Pre-register now and save $5!


As homeschool teachers, what do you need to learn? More about teaching multiple grades? All about different homeschool methods? Transcripts?  Could you use some help with reading, language arts, math, and more?  Are you intimidated by the idea of teaching middle school and high school - those dreaded, advanced courses? Would some encouraging words and motivational Scripture help you on your way? Get answers when you attend The Schoolhouse Expo, an 3-day, online conference, presented by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse® Speaker's Bureau.

Pre-register today for only $19.99 through March 31.You do not want to miss this unbelievable, virtual homeschool convention! PLUS, you'll receive over $300 in free gifts when you register.
Get the details and preregister here http://www.schoolhouseexpo.com
(end quote)

I really couldn't have said it better. :^)

* Disclaimer: I am a current member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, and so am affiliated with TOS.  I am passing this information on to you because I believe it is often difficult (or impossible) to attend LIVE homeschool conventions, and this EXPO will fit all schedules and price ranges (not to mention, it will be AMA-A-A-ZING!!).

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm Supposed to Organize My Homeschool???

This week's Blog Cruise question is How do you organize your homeschool space?  You can see more answers by other homeschooling Crew members by going here.

Okay, so organization of my homeschool has evolved, and will probably look different in another few months, to be perfectly honest!  We started out at the dining room table because we had an infant and a preschooler to care for during our lessons.  At some point during Year 2, we recognized that our dining room table was the first thing visitors clapped eyes on when they came into the house, and it was always a mess - books, papers, pencils, markers, crayons, science and art projects... aak!  In order to tidy the disaster that had taken over our home, we moved the junk learning supplies upstairs to an open space the size of a small bedroom.

We have a couple of large simple cabinets with doors, and inside them, we hold the tools of our trade: printer, papers, crayons, markers, puzzles, books, workbooks, CDs, tape, glue, paint supplies, Play-Doh, musical instruments, colored pencils, coloring books, craft supplies, and our curricula.  Close the doors, and the room is much tidier - though I could never call the room neat.  My computer desk (the computer mainly used by the children - out in plain view, which is critical) is also in this room, along with all our computer games, my co-op planning stuff, and my homeschool review materials.

We recently put a laptop on a small folding table in a corner of the master bedroom for the kids to use when they need a bit more quiet and fewer distractions.  Let's face it, with a preschooler and a first-grader in the house, the fourth-grader who is easily distracted needed a space to get away from it all and concentrate!

We also recently put all of our science equipment, most of the preschool puzzles, and a bunch of art supplies back downstairs in the living room to allow our home to be "learning friendly" again.  Yes, we still see a mess when we greet our guests at the door, but we have learned that we are different.  Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not a portion of the day.

So, though I hesitate to call what we've done "organization," there is a method to the madness.

Graphics Toolbox (TOS Crew Review)


I received a copy of Great Software Tools, Inc.'s program Graphics-Toolbox for free to use and review as a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.  I had no idea what to expect, honestly.  Not long after receiving the program, and before I had a chance to load or play with it, there were messages about signing up for online webinars (web-based seminars) to learn how to use the program.  Not a bad thing, except the webinars were more than an hour in length each and there were several!  Oh, my!  Is this thing going to be this much work just to figure it out??

Well, I do not mind telling you that I am against detailed instructions.  Should've been a man, I suppose, because I would rather try to figure something out myself before spending time reading dry directions.  Generally, it goes well for me, but I couldn't figure Graphics-Toolbox out without the tutorials and training sessions, so eventually I caved and watched two sessions (this took almost a week to fit in, I have to tell you).  Once I knew about the program, I dove right in.  Then I watched bits and pieces of the sessions while I was creating.

You may have seen my accomplishments: Colorized Men and Toddler on Elephant.  Those two project were challenging and fun, but took way too much of my time, and since that time was not spent educating my children in any way (though I tried to interest them in the program!) or tackling the mountain of laundry and leaning tower of dishes that occurred whilst I was otherwise occupied, I have to admit that I gave up trying to do more with it.

While I am certain Graphics-Toolbox is Just The Thing for many of you surfing around right at this moment, it was a bit less user-friendly than I am used to with other graphics programs.  That being said, it certainly works in a unique way that I have yet to see any other program work.  And, I should point out, once you invest the time into learning how to use the program, you can zoom around doing all sorts of fun things!  In essence, I could see Graphics-Toolbox being a great addition to whatever you are already using, but the cost ($149 for one computer license) is a bit of a deterrent to owning more than one graphics program.  You can sign up here for a 30-day free trial, though, and evaluate this software for yourself!

You can see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of this program by going here.

*Disclaimer: This product was provided to me for free so that I could use it and review it.  This review is my own opinion, and I have not been compensated for it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Health Care in the USA

Well, it is time for another political rant, so depending on your standing, you may want to mosey along....

Health care in the United States is apparently in need of an overhaul.  There are few who disagree.  However, the method of that overhaul is in question.  Many would like to use their power in government to take over health care.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, they are calling it a reform, but it is really just a takeover.

So, okay, let's evaluate.

Your company, which you have worked for your entire life, is losing money.  It is still afloat, but it isn't doing as well as it could.  You have a couple of choices as a member of the voting board of directors: you could vote in favor of a reevaluation of what is working and what isn't, what rules are already in place that aren't being followed that would benefit your bottom line, and what people in your company are beneficial and what people are detrimental, then you could weed out things and people who aren't a good fit and introduce new, but proven, methodology; OR you could opt for a takeover by Company GOVT, who is know for mismanagement of funds, inflated salaries and unsurpassed benefits packages for its employees, redistribution of wealth from the earner to the drug dealer, and the absence of successful corporate management ideas.  Though Company GOVT has managed to stay in business for over 100 years, it is questionable whether they have not actually improved the way they operate or if they have simply managed to continue increasing their funding so they do not have to acknowledge that what they are doing hasn't been working.

So, which plan strikes you as the best choice?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Life is Therapy - Learning Their Place

I have been made aware of a fellow blogger who has created a "Life is Therapy" series of posts, and since she has invited other bloggers to take park, i thought i would.  I am a follower, after all. {sheepish grin}

Many of us realize that teenagers are becoming increasingly less self-sufficient at increasingly-advanced ages, in fact not limiting itself to the teen years anymore.  Most would not deny there is a certain angst to being a teen that rarely besets us again in life.  A year or so ago, however, i learned an eye-opening (and "well, duh!") piece of information about teenagers: they are caught between two worlds who won't accept them, so they create their own.  Right.  I told you: duh!

Well, in raising my children, i have understood that it is crucial that we impart more than knowledge before they abandon the safety of our home.  We must instill values, create self-awareness, and provide opportunities for our children to become the adults God has set them apart to be.  One way we let them down is by allowing them to be children with no responsibilities until they are teens, then trying to buck against their temporary insanity hormonal imbalances to create "almost adults" at the last minute.

But, no!  We must start young.  And many of us do not realize we have fallen off the path toward maturity with our offspring until we hit the cursed teen years.  Sadly, i would have stumbled in that manner, as well, if not for the right information at the right time and the kick in the tail inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

My children are, well, lazy.  Not to be helped with the parents they were dealt, but still....  They have inconsistent parenting when it comes to chores and household duties.  But God had a plan, and we have been following it this week.  They needed to have a job.  One that is all their own, and one that defines their place in the family.  So, i assigned our dog's eating schedule to the oldest two children, and did a happy dance informed them of their new responsibility.  Okay, not a big deal, you say?  Well, i also informed them that our dog would not eat if they did not personally follow through with their jobs.  No Mommy feeding the dog because everyone is still sleeping.  No Daddy feeding the dog because you want to play on the computer after dinner.  Feed the dog at your scheduled time or the dog doesn't eat.

Well, the reason i believe this to be "Life is Therapy" worthy is this: in the past, the children have grumbled when i have asked them to feed the dog. (it may not seem like a big chore, but we're odd, and we feed our dog by using a ball feeder that has to be filled using a funnel - it makes him work for his food using the Nothing In Life Is Free philosophy, but also makes the task of preparing his meal a bit more challenging)  Anyway, upon setting up the schedule and taking the responsibility off myself, i have noticed how quickly they have changed their tunes!  Today was only day 4 of the new schedule, and i heard my son go downstairs and feed our his dog before he even got himself breakfast.  Then, this evening, my daughter fed our her dog before putting on a television show.  Wow!  Not only was i impressed, but it cemented what i believe we are trying to do: give them a place in the world so they can be proud to make themselves at home in it.

Okay, one of my longer posts, but i felt it important enough to share.  Never underestimate the ways we provide education and therapy in the everyday opportunities with our children.   
Operation Laziness Therapy 101: A+

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Count it all joy!

The Littlest Princess reminds me to get over myself frequently.  This week, i had a sick day.  While i was abed, the Drama Princess fixed dinner. (yeah, i know how lucky i am, but let's not forget that i had the forethought to teach her these things. *grin*)

From downstairs, the Littlest Princess calls: Mom! Can we have 'essert?
I respond: Yes.
Then: 'Kay! 'Cuz we're already havin' some!
Giggling, i reply: You're cute!
Her answer: I know!

Yep, God loves me.  He sends me joy even when i am too ill to move.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Oh, what charming books you penned!
Children choose 'em again and again.
Your silly characters and pleasing rhymes
Truly stand the test of time!

I fear without the books by you,
My family would be bored, it's true!
The kids would not meet Sam-I-Am,
Or ever eat Green Eggs and Ham.

What would we do without you, sir?
If The Cat in the Hat didn't cause a stir?
If Horton didn't hatch the egg?
If we didn't try to stay in bed?

Oh dear! Oh my! Oh, gracious me!
What would we do without ABC's?
I cannot contemplate it, so...
I'm glad we have them. This i know.

~*~*~*~ Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!! ~*~*~*~

Monday, March 1, 2010

Do I Grade My Homeschooled Children?

Well, yes and no.

I generally use the A-F grades since it gets me ready for later in homeschooling, but since we teach to mastery, the kids usually get A's.  Is that really grading?  Depends on your outlook....

In a classroom environment, kids are graded based on a scale: A and B are above average achievers, C is an average achiever, and D and F are below-average achievers.  In a class full or 20-30 students, how can a teacher determine mastery and still have time for crowd control and the introduction of new topics?  I shudder at the thought!  Thus, a grading scale is quite necessary (although not always an accurate measure of a child's learning).

However, in our homeschool, the kidlets are not generally asked to do move on until they have the current stage mastered, so should they really be graded the same way?  No, not in my opinion.  So, my kids get "graded" on effort.  If my kids are doing great, and they are mastering everything I throw at them, they deserve an A.  But last year, we had some attitude problems, and in one particular subject, my eldest gave me a lot of trouble, so she got a B.  Harsh?  Well, here's how I came by my decision (it wasn't easy): She was presented the information, she was reminded how to tackle the subject, and she still could not get over herself long enough to do it properly.  We met all of her personalities during that season!  There was Whining Wendy, Yelling Yolinda, Grumbling Geraldine, and Disrespectful Dina.  She repeatedly did not do exactly as directed and, therefore, made frequent errors.  When she followed the directions as they were given and executed the assignment as directed, she could master it.  Hence, a B.

So, yes, around here the kids get grades, but their grades are a different kettle of fish than their publicly-schooled amigos.