Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More to Come... Please Stay Tuned!

Just a quick note to thank everyone who has asked me "What's going on? Where's your blog?"

I'm involved in a super-secret project, and I can't let on what it is...just yet. It's been taking up a HUGE chunk of my time. But it's worth it!

So please forgive me. I promise to share all. And when I have a moment to sit and breathe, I will be back with lots of useful(?) information!

Thanks, my friends!!!

~ Linda

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don’t EVER Start Anything, But if Someone else Starts Something, You’d Better Finish It!!!

classroomclipart.com

Yep. I actually told my kid that when she was in public school.

And I’ve repeated that sentiment over and over again through the years.

I know…right now you must be shaking your head in disgust.

You wouldn’t be the first, and you certainly won’t be the last.

I don’t want my child to ever start trouble…but if anyone messes with her, I want her to be able to defend herself.

My friend told me a story about when her child was in public school.

She got called to the school when her daughter was put in “reassignment.” (That’s where they send the kids who misbehave, so they can think--and write--about what they did wrong.)

Evidently, her daughter was attacked by a kid in the playground. He pushed her up against a fence and had her by the throat.

She was able to get her hands on him, and pushed him off her.

And then she was sent to reassignment. (I think she was about seven at the time.)

The mom told the reassignment monitor, “Good…she did EXACTLY what I told her to do if she got bullied. Now I’m going to take her out for an ice cream.”

I could have stood up and applauded her.

That’s when I adopted my “Don’t start anything, but make sure if someone else starts, you FINISH” philosophy. I want Becca to be able to defend herself. If it comes down to putting her hands on somebody to accomplish it, well then so be it.

I know I’m going to piss off the pacifists out there. I won’t apologize.

But once again, before I get skewered. I’d expect Becca to use any kind of physical self-defense as a last resort. We always talk about “using your words” first. (And believe me, Becca has no trouble speaking up for herself.)

But when words don’t work, and if someone has you cornered, you do whatever you need to do to get out of the situation, safely.

Fortunately, she's never had to do it...and let's hope she never gets into a situation where she has to.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lest You Think that I Think Homeschooling is the Perfect Answer…



After talking to two other homeschool moms this weekend (and after some “conflicts” that my daughter has had to deal with lately), I’ve decided that homeschoolers seem to have some of the same issues that public school kids deal with.

Not everybody gets along.

Not everybody is your cup of tea.

There ARE bullies…all over.

I have to say that the main difference is that we homeschool parents are “there” more, to help deal with the issues on a more immediate basis.

But then again, there are times we need to step back and let the kids deal with conflicts themselves. (How else do they learn to handle adversity and grow from the experience?)

But I must say that I am glad that I’m there to help Becca handle the bigger issues as they come along. I know that she appreciates me being there.

These are volatile times for all kids…teens especially.

I’m glad that I can be there for Becca when she needs me. That’s something ALL parents can do for their kids (homeschooled or not).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Homeschooling - A Dad's Perspective...


Bob here, everyone!

I just wanted to give a little background on how I initially felt about homeschooling. In the beginning, when the idea was first brought up, I pictured us all alone at home educating Becca, with little or no help from the outside. And believe me, I was not sold on the idea. If anything, I was probably against it a bit.

However, once the homeschool process began, I immediately saw the well-established network of families that were there to help and assist us if needed. I immediately realized that there was such a support system here in Brevard with not just one, but many different homeschool groups to choose from! The group of people we initially met were all in the same boat. For some reason or another, they all decided homeschooling was the better choice.

I attended public school and do not regret it one bit. But, times do change. Becca did her years of public school, but that was enough. I believe that for our family, homeschooling turned out to be one heck of an option. I do not agree with a lot that goes on in public school these days, but that is another story.

Well, there you have it. I am proud of Becca and how she has matured and turned into a great woman. She is intelligent, creative, and an awesome individual. I credit homeschooling for this.

Bye!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Peanut Allergies and Homeschooling


I am, by no means, an expert on peanut allergies.

I can, however, relate to severe food allergies. (But just in recent years, since I found out that I have a severe allergy to flax.)

But I never (thank G-d) almost lost a child to a severe peanut allergy.

I don’t know what it’s like, every day, to go through the diligence that’s required to raise a child with a severe allergy.

I do, however, have friends with children with these allergies.

And I’d do WHATEVER IT TAKES to keep these kids safe.

How difficult must it be to send your child to school every day, knowing that they could possibly be exposed to something that could kill them, almost instantly.

We know several kids, in school, who have severe allergies. I hear that some schools will provide “safe areas” for these kids… (One high school has a room with a special “filtration system” where the kids are able to eat, without being exposed to peanuts.)

But is this the answer?

We happen to belong to a homeschool group that is essentially peanut-free.

All events we have (park days, parties, gatherings) are peanut-free zones.

(Some schools have evidently done the same… They are peanut-free schools.)

I’ve actually heard complaints about the extra efforts being made to keep these kids safe.

Really.

So, what, it inconveniences you?

I actually heard, from one person, that that’s all her child will eat (peanut butter). And it inconvenienced her that her kids couldn’t bring peanut products to school.

Again, really?

If your child will only eat peanut butter… (If your child can’t wait until they get home to have that peanut butter sandwich…)

Well, that’s just sad.

What kind of sacrifice does it take to keep a child safe?

Not a sacrifice at all, in my book.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Those Days When You’ve Already Given All that You Have…

I haven’t had much time to think about my homeschool blog today.

What with doing “administrative work” for our main homeschool group, taking care of Becca’s needs (even though she’s older and more independent, she still needs mom), doing regular stuff around the house (bills, etc), and working on a super secret project (TBA)… Sometimes you just run out of time and energy.

So, I’m going to go take some “time off” to put my feet up and relax.

See you next blog!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Real World: A Mom’s Take on it All



I loved high school. I’m not here to bash it…or make fun of it.

High school was one of my favorite times. I have only fond memories. And I often wish I could go back and relive it.

Not everybody can say that.

But it’s true, what they say. That it’s not “reality.”

The real world is so very different.

But so many high school kids live or die for what high school means to them. And for some of them, it really is their “heyday.”

What you don’t realize, when you’re smack dab in the middle of it, is how insignificant high school really is, compared to the rest of life.

Now, I’m not here to steal anybody’s thunder. EVERYONE deserves to have good high school years.

But how realistic is that, especially these days? With all of the bullying and peer pressure and pressure to excel…to go above and beyond. It’s such a volatile time, for so many.

And if you’re not popular…or accepted… High school can be an absolute nightmare.

I don’t want to sound like I’m knocking kids that are in school. All kids have their wants, needs, desires and challenges.

It’s just all kids (teens especially) should realize that this is just the beginning of your life. There’s so much more out there to experience.

For all of you teens out there (whether you’re in public school, private school, or if you’re homeschooled)…don’t let the little stuff get to you.

Take it easy, take it slow and enjoy the ride!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Their World vs Our World – Which is the Real Reality? ~ Becca


“Am I going to be voted Prom Queen?”

“Do you think I will make head cheerleader?”

“Will I be the most gorgeous girl at Homecoming?”

These are some of the things I see on my school friends’ Facebook statuses, on a regular basis.

(Yes, I know…the Facebook thing again. But it’s the only way I really get to chat with my public school friends!)

My school friends are all either talking about homework, dances, homecoming, dates, etc.

It’s truly ridiculous.

I don’t hear this from everybody… But it’s amazing to see that it’s some school kids’ main focus. They think it’s the real world. Like the world is divided up into “categories.”

Now if they were to categorize some of the kids our homeschool group, you might hear “nerd,” “freak,” “geek,” “weirdo” or “class clown.”

But we don’t see it that way.

The “jocks” don’t sit at one table and the “nerds” another. We are not cooped up in one huge building that is disguised as the real world. We homeschoolers are already IN the real world.

We are dealing with adults that treat us like human beings, other teens that don’t look at us like we are some weird science project (which is the look I usually get when I say I’m homeschooled), and kids of all different ages.

Yeah you might think this is all you can think about now, with your boyfriend or dances or prom kings and queens, but when you get your butt booted out of high school when you graduate, it’s going to be a real slap in the face.

Welcome to the real world.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Being Unique

http://hubpages.com/hub/gothic-fantasy-clip-art

While pondering today’s blog, I wondered out loud about my subject matter for today.

After I posted about it on Facebook, a friend wrote this:

“…you can write how public schooled kids blossom when they are put in a homeschooling group like ours...how they learn that uniqueness is a good quality and doesn't make you abnormal.”

Wow. How profound is that? This a mom who had her kids in public school (like me). Who decided to homeschool (for her own reasons, like me), and is pleased with her decision (like me).

Her kids are loved and accepted for who they are.

And it’s true. You can be in a homeschool group and wear what you want (I remember kids showing up to homeschool events decked out in “Hot Topic”—chains and all), pierce what you want (ears, noses, eyebrows, lips), wear your hair how you want (long, buzzed, blue, pink), and most importantly, BE who you want!

We have scholars and artistic types, soccer plays and singers, actresses and entrepreneurs.

We have animal lovers and kids who want to work with children. We have ambitious kids and kids that are more laid back.

We have shy kids and outgoing kids.

Kids who like Metal, Classical, Show Tunes, Pop and Alternative…

We have kids who would do well in a public school environment, private school environment, or being homeschooled.

And then we have kids who are much better off in a smaller, more controlled group.

Most importantly, these kids aren’t kept home to shelter them from their peers. They still get to be around other kids, other parents and adults.

But there’s something about our homeschool group (and others I’m sure) that radiates acceptance.

There’s no mold. No outrageous expectations. Unique is as normal and accepted as…well, “normal.”

You are who you are. And we love you for it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

That "Dating Thing" Again

(http://www.dailyclipart.net/)

Boy, am I glad my daughter is more interested in hanging with her friends (guys and girls), than dating.

I know I’m going to sound like a total prude here, but wow.

I know that kids date early. 13, 14, 15…and *gasp* even younger!

I’m just glad that my kid isn’t into it.

A Facebook status of one of Becca’s friends: “Nine months together…I love you, baby.”

The girl is 15.

Really?

She loves him?

Now, I’m not saying that high school sweethearts can’t end up together, happily ever after. I have several friends who are still with (and married to) their high school sweetheart… I think that it’s wonderfully romantic.

And I’m not saying that today’s teens can’t have that kind of a long-lasting relationship… Who am I to judge (or to try and predict the future)?

I’m just saying… What, exactly, do teens stand to gain by having long-term romantic relationships?

And what about the teens who hop from boy to boy (or girl to girl)?

Is this really what they’re supposed to be worried about? (Is he gonna call me? Why isn’t he texting me? She didn’t even talk to me at school. I’m so mad…so miserable…so sad…)

Why does friendship (yes, even with the opposite sex) sound so much more appealing?

And evidently, it must sound that way to Becca, too…and most of her friends.

Becca says that there’s enough “drama” in life without having to deal with the roller coaster of emotions that dating brings.

I have to agree with her.

There’s plenty of time to grow up, and get serious.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I’m Raising My Kid to Be an Adult (Ready for the World)


I know this is going to sound kind of biased (‘cause it is), but I’m getting my daughter ready for the “real world.”

That’s the philosophy that I’ve adopted in our homeschooling journey.

She could be learning how to sit in a classroom, raise her hand, and how to “navigate” a high school.

But what my kid is learning on a day-to-day basis is:

How to interact with other adults.

How to interact with older teens, teens her age, and younger children.

How to run large groups.

How to fight for what you believe in (when it comes to politics, human rights and religious freedom).

How to balance a checkbook.

How to drive.

How to write a blog.

How to keep a journal.

How to do math.

How to read for hours on end.

How to appreciate movies (and learn from their messages).

How to cook.

How to declutter.

How to travel and take long adventures to nowhere.

How to draw and paint.

How to take care of animals.

How to take care of children.

How to socialize.

How to be “socialized.”

How to say “no.”

How to say “yes.”

How to be patient.

How to be compassionate.

How to respect people.

How to earn respect.

How to treat all people as equals…and not bully.

How to take care of the environment.

How to take care of the world.

How to learn.

How to teach.

How to sing.

How to be independent.

How to be a contributing member of society, and be the best person that she can be.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Unschooling (My Take On it as the Child)


When I talk to my friends about what they are doing this week it’s mainly, “Well…my mom wants me to do my history tomorrow. And then on Wednesday I have to do English…”

Really?

If my mom made me stay at home and do “book work” while my friends were at the mall, I would never forgive her.

Now, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t make me do work that is critically important, like math. But things like English or history, I can read and learn about in a good Dan Brown book.

About two years ago, when we were hosting our eleventh and twelfth Israeli students, we went to St Augustine to show them around “historical Florida.”

It was amazing! We went to the lighthouse, we went to the fort, the Fountain of Youth, and did some major exploring.

We even rolled down the hill in front of the fort.

Little did we know…

The hill we rolled down was actually unmarked graves of soldiers, Indians and local families that lost their lives in the war. We were rolling on UNMARKED GRAVES!

And that room we crawled in…was the torture room, where people were held prisoner...

(And we learned that from Ghost Adventures, a cheesy ghost hunting show.)

NOT a textbook.

Sure, I may not get the “whole story” this way, but when I get interested in something, I’m able to research it more, and find out what I need to know. And I’m not so bored out of my mind that I want to put it off.

And there’s always something new to learn and explore. I love that I’m not “forced” to learn unnecessary stuff.

To me, unschooling is the only way for me to learn. And I’m happy we do it this way!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Picky Eaters


(I wrote this “piece” several months ago, for another website. I was about to retype it for my blog, but I figured I’d just “recycle” it. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.) ;o)

OK, before you start throwing things at me, let me give you some background.

I consider my daughter a picky eater. I feel like I can opine about something like this because I deal with it every day.

I also understand that there are reasons for some of our kids' eating "limitations" (i.e., food allergies, texture issues, strong taste issues, vegetarianism, etc).

But let me tell you a story or two...

Several years ago, I went to a friend's house for a barbecue. Everybody was bringing their own meat, but we all brought "sides to share" (like potato salad, macaroni salad, etc). I was in my friend's kitchen, and she was putting french fries in the oven. I asked her what they were for, and she said that her brother didn't eat any of the "regular" sides and that she had to put up french fries for him. The guy was an adult, mind you… When I asked her what made him so "picky" she told me that he was EXTREMELY limited in what he would eat and that it was her mother's fault. He would never try anything new, so she just made him the same stuff over and over again. (I think she said there were about 10 things total that he would eat.) I was pretty amazed.

About 3 years ago, we went to a friend's house for dinner. She was making a lovely meal for all of us...but she was also putting up chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for her kids. (We're talking an 8 year-old and 11 year-old.) She told me that that's all they would eat, so she made it for them every day, and for any meal that they wanted.

Now, I've run into this myself. Becca will get on a kick of wanting the same thing every day for weeks on end. (Then she won't eat it again for a couple of months.) She's also the kind of kid who WILL NOT TRY SOMETHING because of the way it looks. (I still can't get the kid to eat mayonnaise, mustard, onions, or anything made with them.)

Now, I'm not advocating force-feeding kids (or threatening or bribing, for that matter), nor am I suggesting the "Mommy Dearest" method of, "You'll sit here until you clean everything off your plate and I'm going to serve it to you for every meal until you've eaten it!" Not at all.

But I resent the idea of being what one friend called, a short-order cook. I believe that when you make a family meal, you make what you make and that's what is put out for everyone to eat. (If I made what I like--and can eat--and what Becca likes and what Bob likes... I'd be making three totally separate meals!)

That all being said, Becca has gotten MUCH better as she's gotten older. She tries more things now (even if she doesn't like them in the end). I don't make separate meals, and I can take her anywhere and know that she won't starve to death. I actually did one thing that seems to have helped.

When she was younger and every day was a struggle, I would put a small amount of what I was making on her plate. (For instance... A small piece of pot roast, a plop of mashed potatoes and three green beans.) I'd also put something that I knew she really liked (and would eat) on her plate (like a string cheese stick or a cut up apple). If that's all she ate, then at least she ate something! And you know, as time went on, she DID start trying new things.

Also, they say that having kids participate in the cooking and preparing of foods can help (and that's worked with Becca too)...

Again, we must take into account that some kids have texture (and strong taste) issues. We also know kids who have severe food allergies. Some things just can’t be helped… Nothing is absolute.

A friend also brought to my attention the fact that some food “habits” can be attributed to genetics.

I still believe, though, that some of it is just due to choice. The choice of the child not to eat various different foods, and the choice of the parent(s) to “give in” or cater to the child. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time (and patience) to introduce new foods into a child’s diet.

Heck, isn’t it worth a try?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bullying (A Mom’s Take On It)


So, of course everyone in Florida is talking about the father who got on the bus and threatened the kids who were bullying his daughter.

This makes me sick to my stomach.

Oh, not what he did. (Though I do believe he could have approached the bus situation a WEE bit differently.)

I know where he was coming from. When your kid gets picked on enough, you sometimes want to flip out…

What makes me sick is that, in this day and age, kids are still being bullied.

And what’s my first instinct? To contact the family (or the family’s lawyer) and see if they’d consider homeschooling the child. (We’d welcome her to our group with open arms.)

That’s not to say that we don’t have bullying in our homeschool group. We sometimes do have situations that need some sort of “intervention.”

It’s just that it’s something that usually gets resolved rather quickly. (I guess that’s what happens when you have so many parents directly involved with their kids’ social time. And other kids’ social time, too!)

Again, we go back to that “It takes a village” school of thought. We’re ALL responsible for keeping these kids safe and happy. There aren’t one or two sets of eyes on 25-30 kids… (On a school bus or in a classroom.) Chances are, when you’re at a homeschool event, there are several pairs of eyes on each kid.

And when things come up, we work hard to resolve them.

Every child deserves peace and security. Every child deserves to be treated like a human being.

So when that father got on that bus in a rage, with his raw emotions showing, my heart went out to him…AND that little girl who didn’t deserve to be bullied.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Becca


Yesterday I got news that one of my best friends in the entire world was moving…to another country.

I really did not take the news well, and neither did my other best friend.

See, we were The Bermuda Triangle. We were unstoppable! We had the best times together. And now…one of us is moving far, far away.

We were not always the Three Musketeers. At one time we were the Four Musketeers. And then one day we were just three.

(Don’t ask me what happened. I honestly don’t know.)

But when our fourth friend moved on, it was just the three of us hanging out all the time, every week, and having a blast.

Then I got the news.

I now realize as you get older, things change. You change. Your friends change. Everything changes.

You think your entire life that you and your friends are going to grow up together. Get three houses in a row in a great neighborhood.

Each of us would get married and have kids and live happily ever after.

But that’s not reality.

And when you first realize that, it’s a big smack in the face.

Things are going to change, I know. My friends are going to go to college, move away, start getting “serious” with their boyfriend (or girlfriend) and move on.

So for now, I’m going to spend as much time with them as possible. And try to live a happy, laughter-filled, teenage life…

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Picking Your Battles!!!


I’ve gotten many good parenting tips over the years, but the very BEST piece of advice that I ever heard was, “Pick your battles.” And I’ve tried to apply that over that past 15 years.

There are SO many things NOT worth arguing over.

That’s not to say that I don’t put my foot down from time to time…

But there are just some things that aren’t worth it.

ESPECIALLY when it comes to raising a teen.

I hear, all the time, about how difficult it is to parent teens. People talk about raising teens like it’s the hardest thing on earth.

Now, yes, it might be different for me (us). My child isn’t in school (and is with me—and a lot of other moms—the majority of the time). And I only have one child (of my own) to deal with on a daily basis...

But that’s not to say that we don’t have some of the same teen challenges.

It’s just that sure, raising teens can be difficult…but some things just aren’t worth arguing over!

Again, we go back to the “letting go” phase of parenting. Teens are different. (REALLY different.) They want to be independent. They want to make their own decisions.

I’m not saying to let them run wild. Not at all.

But if I picked a fight every time my kid spoke to me in a way that wasn’t completely respectful…or if I complained every time my daughter forgot to do her dishes…or if I fought with my kid about, a. what she wears, b. what music she listens to, c. how long she’s on the phone or if she’s texting at the table, or d. what she’s eating or what time she’s going to bed at night, we’d be going head-to-head every single day.

But I’ve chosen not to fight these battles.

Believe it or not, there’s a LOT of respect in this house, between Becca and me. It’s not a one-way street. (“It’s my way or the highway… What I say, goes around here!”)

I respect her (and her rights as an almost-adult), and in turn, she respects me as well.

Of course, it helps that we’re not exactly alike. (That whole “opposites attract” thing, I guess…)

We just kind of mesh well together.

Again, everybody’s family is different (as well as everyone’s situation). What works here, may not work for everyone… BUT, a little bit of give does go a long way…

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Connecting With Your Teens


I found this great blog, called “Connect With Your Teens.” I’ve only had a chance to briefly look through it, but so far, it sure makes a lot of sense…

I can’t help but wonder if I “automatically” connect with Becca? (It really doesn’t seem like much of an effort.)

We like to watch the same kind of movies. We (for the most part) enjoy the same kind of TV shows. We are both on the same social networking sites (and share many of the same “friends”).

And we like the same music.

I asked her recently, if it bugged her that I know the words to Katy Perry songs. Or Eminem songs. (Or even *gasp* Hollywood Undead.)

I guess Bob connects with her too… He likes Ke$ha…and Adam Lambert…and Linkin Park.

OMGosh..and Lady Gaga!

I think it really HELPS that we can relate to Becca (and what she likes).

Now, this music isn’t every 40-something’s idea of “the good stuff.” And you don’t have to listen to screamo (don’t ask) to be able to relate to your kid.

But it doesn’t hurt to come part of the way, at least.

The more you have in common with them, the more you have to talk about! You don’t have to speak a different language (or use the excuse that you “come from a different generation”).

You see, Becca comes part of the way too. She loves The Steve Miller Band. And Queen. And ELO…and The Beatles.

She even humored me, and went to a Billy Joel concert with us!

You see, the best way to relate to your teen (and for them to relate to you) is to make compromises. You both make the effort to come part way.

Who knows…you might actually enjoy it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

When Opportunities Knock…


…you answer, of course. (If the situation/timing is right.)

Over the years, we’ve had many opportunities come our way. We’ve been presented with different educational choices, new employment opportunities, and many different situations where we’re able (and encouraged) to take on new things.

Broadening your horizons (and sometimes even changing your scenery) is a good thing…

As homeschoolers, sometimes we have to make the choice of sending our kids to school (or BACK to school). Recently, one of our homeschool families had an opportunity (and chose to) enroll their child in a local school with an excellent reputation. (They were on a waiting list, and the offer to enroll their child was long-awaited and much anticipated.)

Another family just recently had an opportunity to move to a new state. There will be new educational opportunities for the kids (and new and exciting employment opportunities for the parents).

We are constantly discovering classes that will broaden our kids’ horizons. There are opportunities to volunteer. And there are opportunities to take on new responsibilities.

One of the nicest (and most convenient) things about homeschooling is the flexibility. Things can change in a moment’s notice, and we’re (mostly) prepared for it…

But sometimes opportunities come up that are so amazing, so out-of-this world, that you can’t believe your good fortune…

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What You Don’t Know About School Bullying (By Becca)

When I was in school, I really was not old enough to understand/experience school bullying.

And even if I did, it was amateurish, like, “I’m playing with HER on the playground!” THAT type of stuff.

But from what I have seen on TV and heard from my friends, high school bullying is like nothing I have ever heard before. Teens are killing themselves because of taunting, picking on, or for being gay... It’s truly horrifying!

In our homeschool group, we have teens who say they are bisexual, straight and gay and none of them are judged for it.

Recently, (in the news), there was a student who killed himself because people found out he was gay (on the computer).

A teenager’s self esteem is so fragile as it is, without other stupid kids your age poking fun of which sex you prefer.

Most of my friends still aren’t even sexually active (and don’t even know what sex they are attracted to because they are not even there yet)!

At this age, how are you even supposed to know? And if you are “same-sex oriented,” must you be afraid of telling certain people, because of what they might think?

Why should anyone be judged for something so unimportant? Why should anybody even care?

Why should I want to kill myself because of something you said?

Next time you think about bullying or judging somebody because of what they like, maybe you should think twice about it...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Different Parenting Styles


We all do the best we can.

The last time I checked, there was no such thing as a “parent manual” to tell us exactly how to raise our kids.

We guide our children, based on what we think is right, and also based on OUR past experience (as children, and adults).

There’s such a fluctuation in how my friends are raising their kids.

And I find that my own parenting style is very eclectic. I’m very strict about some things, and almost too relaxed about others…

And as Becca gets older, I realize how odd my parenting rules may seem. But…I have to say…what we’re doing works for us (for some strange reason).

Here are some of my rules (and some of my observations):

When Becca was a toddler, she sang Barney songs. She also sang songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We watched it the whole time she was growing up. Some of her (teen) friends STILL aren’t allowed to watch it.

Becca uses “salty” language at times. (So do Bob and I.) She knows where NOT to use it (in front of the Rabbi, younger kids, other adults). But she uses it here at home and with her peers. (Most of them do.)

Becca’s not allowed to drive with another teen in the car (even if I’m in the car with them).

Becca’s not allowed to ride with anyone under the age of 21 driving (even with another parent in the car).

Becca goes to sleep (at night) when SHE’S ready. She hasn’t had a real “bed time” since she left public school.

Becca’s allowed to watch R-rated movies. (She’s been watching them for several years. It just depended on the “content.” Yes, we judged each movie separately.)

Becca’s not allowed to be dropped “downtown,” at the local mall, or pretty much anywhere else without a Parent on Duty.

Becca’s allowed to read banned books. I encourage it.

Becca still hasn’t had a serious “boyfriend.” She’d rather have “guy friends.” (This makes me very happy.)

Becca would sometimes rather stay at home with the family…reading, watching TV/movies, or playing board games. She’ll sometimes pass up “social time” with friends and stay home.

Becca is allowed to pick her clothing (within reason). I will offer her advice based on her body type (and pretty much only when she asks). It doesn’t have to be “modest” (but she also knows that she doesn’t want to look like a hooker).

I am not trying to hold Becca back. Even when I encourage her to be more independent, she’s been known to say, “I still want to be a kid. Don’t rush me.”

Again, I’m not judging the way other people have raised (or are raising) their children. Everyone does the best they can.

And based on the kids that Becca surrounds herself with on a daily basis, it’s working!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dating in the Homeschool Group (My Take On It - Becca)


-Sigh-

Dating is a very complicated thing, period, and when it involves boys you are very close with (friends, friends of friends, or friends’ brothers) it gets really weird.

Okay, not weird more like…incestuous.

I’m not saying that I have never had a crush on a boy in the homeschool group.

But as you get older, you realize you love these guys…not because you want to date them, but because you love them for who they are…and you want to hang out with them more.

I look at my school friends’ statuses on Facebook, and I’ll go, “Wow…is this really what they think about at my age?”

See, I’d rather text a “guy friend’ or IM, but I could not imagine hanging out with them as a friend, dating, breaking up, and then it being awkward having to see them at EVERY teen and/or homeschool event.

I know it would be ten times worse in school... I don’t know, it might just be me...but I don’t look at my guy friends as possible dates.

I would rather hang out with guys and be friends than having the possibility of ruining a wonderful friendship.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Lightning Thief (and Teen Book Club Discussion)!!!


We had a wonderful Teen Book Club meeting today!

The kids in this group range from age 12 through 16, and there are an equal number of boys and girls.

Today, the book of choice was The Lightning Thief. The meeting was at a Mediterranean restaurant (in honor of the Greek Gods in the book). We had appropriately-themed bookmarks and a really good (but tough) word search (made up by one of the teens).

AND we had blue cupcakes (with blue icing and lightning bolts). And blue cookies. All in honor of Percy Jackson (and his love of blue food).

It was wonderful to see all of the kids (and parents) enjoying their meal (and talking about the book). We had 18 people in all (7 moms and dads, and 11 kids). A full house in a small restaurant!

I love the book club idea. It fosters the love of reading, and it gives these teens even more social time.

And I’m glad that we parents are allowed to be a part of it.

That’s not to say that the teens didn’t have their own space. They sat at one end of the table, we sat at the other. But it’s nice that we can be there and enjoy the company of other parents (and even discuss the book ourselves)!

The waitress commented, as we were leaving, that she was really impressed with how well-behaved our teens were. She was also surprised that they were all homeschooled. She said she had never met a homeschooled kid before.

I’m so glad that we can go out in public and make such a positive, long-lasting impression.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

But…Do You Feel You’re Missing Out by Not Going to Homecoming?


It was all over Facebook this weekend. Homecoming.

So…I asked Becca if she felt that she was missing out. (This does concern me. I mean, if I saw all the posts, then I know SHE saw them too. And I was truly concerned. WAS she missing out on all the fun?)

And she said, “Psh…no!” (But with much more attitude than I can convey here…)

She has no desire to be involved with Homecoming. Courts and dresses and dances and what she calls, “high school politics.”

That’s not to say that she doesn’t enjoy the homeschool dances that are held on a regular basis (formal and informal). She does!

But…it’s different.

How, you ask?

It’s just less stress…and pressure…and the feeling that you need to keep up (or measure up). And the “popularity” aspect of it of it all.

Not that we’re knocking the idea of Homecoming. We’re most definitely not! (Please see my other blogs re: our “live and let live” philosophy.) We’re glad that our teen friends enjoyed their dances (and Homecoming festivities)!

It’s a “to each their own” thing, really. Homecoming is just not Becca.

And if she ever does feel like she’s missing out? Well, then, she always has the option of going back to public school. (Right now, it’s not even a possibility that she entertains. And that's OK.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Homeschool Academic Fair (Yet Another Success!)


Years ago, we started doing twice-a-year academic fairs with our original homeschool group. We’ve carried that tradition on in our “new” homeschool group as well.

What’s an academic fair you ask?

Well, it’s like a science fair, but the children’s projects don’t have to be science-related. They can be related to ANYTHING the child is interested in at the time.

Some of the projects we saw today were:

Tornadoes

Hurricanes

Elephants

Moths and Butterflies

Stop Motion Videos

and

Ancient Egypt

Becca has participated in several academic fairs… We were there as “guests” (or observers) today. But her past projects included:

Build-A-Bear

American Girl Dolls

Loch Ness Monster

Crocheting

and

Wolf Totems

What’s great about the academic fairs is that the child can pick whatever subject they’d like. They can do a display board, have photos, use computers and have “demonstration” items (or even samples). Then each child sits at their display and tells about their project as others come around. These projects help children do research, use their presentation skills and embrace their creativity.

And each child gets recognition for their participation.

The best part about it (and the main difference between an academic fair and a science fair) is that, 1. There are no “winners and losers,” 2. There is NO pressure (and no set guidelines), and 3. (And most importantly, in my book), the KIDS do the projects. NOT the parents!

The children learn by having fun. And in my book, that’s what homeschooling is all about.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello! Becca (the New Driver) Here…


Today something amazing happened! Here, I’ll give you a little background…

For about a month, I have been practicing “safe driving” and “permit training” and guess what? Today I passed my permit exam! It was amazing! I studied hard, took online tests and what do you know? It majorly paid off!

Now, this is coming from a child (teen) who hasn’t taken a “strict” test like this since the FCAT…five years ago. And believe me, it was really stressful. Tears, frustration and lots and lots of squeezing “stress balls.” But eventually I passed.

And boy do I feel relief!

Now, with that under my belt, I have time to do stuff I actually enjoy. Script reading (drama class), regular reading (Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich), and relaxing at home.

(My mom reminds me I have Geometry also…)

Even though permit practice was a pain…I’m sure happy to be done with it!

Talk to you next time!

Becca

Thursday, September 23, 2010

“Exceptional” Children


There are a lot of labels for kids these days. (A lot of labels for adults, too, come to think of it…)

I think all kids should just be labeled “exceptional.”

What is an exceptional child? Well, here’s MY definition:

A child who is different.

A child who is “mainstream.”

A child who exudes energy.

A “calm” child.

A child who doesn’t have to try, who gets A’s in school.

A child who tries really hard, and gets C’s in school.

A child who can focus.

A child who cannot.

An athletic child.

A child that is differently-abled.

A child who feels like they have to fit in with everybody else.

A child who strives to be an individual.

A child who asks a lot of questions.

A child who has most of the answers.

A “sociable” child.

A shy child.

A child who speaks their mind.

A quiet child.

A confident child.

A child who is unsure.

An assertive child.

A passive child.

A child who is a leader.

A child who follows.

A “practical” child.

A dreamer.

An artistic child.

An analytical child.

A child that is a “fighter.”

A child that is more of a “lover.”

A public school child.

A private school child.

A homeschooled child.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is Communication a Dead Art? (Or is it Merely Suffering a Debilitating Illness?)


OK, so maybe it’s not dead. Maybe it’s just changing. You hear all the time about how people don’t communicate face-to-face (as much) anymore. We’re all glued to “screens” (computer, TV, game systems, cell phones).

One of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen is a group of teenagers, all sitting around, texting each other. While they’re together in the same room. Breathing the same air.

But it makes me wonder…do we still know how to communicate?

I’ve met, especially recently, people who need to learn some communication skills. (And maybe even a little bit of conflict resolution.)

We all know of situations where something (sent, via email or even text message) is misconstrued. But these miscommunications are not limited to our cyber world. There are plenty of people out there who could use a lesson in communication.

So many times, you’re going along, thinking that everything is OK, and someone gets their nose bent out of shape. And you’re done for. No explanation. Just silence.

Well, how can I fix it if you don’t tell me what I did to make you mad?

Then, there are people who act totally inappropriately when faced with a conflict situation. (Physical violence is a good example of this.)

And then you have those who commit verbal assaults.

In my opinion, none of these are the right way to deal with conflict.

This isn’t exclusive to the homeschooling world. You see it in every day life.

Putting your head in the sand is NOT the way to deal with it. If you want to have relationships in life…(wait…make that HEALTHY relationships), you try your best to get along with people. Unless, of course, you LIKE being alone.

It is my hope, that in public and private schools, these types of behaviors are dealt with early on. The time to learn these skills is when you’re young.

But it’s not just kids and teenagers who need a lesson in communications skills. Adults need to learn some of these lessons as well.

As one of the people responsible for a large homeschool group (with over 80 families), one of my goals is to make sure that this is something we’re all equipped to deal with…

We are not immune to conflict or behavioral issues. Maybe it’s time to look into bringing an expert in…

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hey All! Me Again (Becca)!


Today I decided to write about text lingo and how some kids use it in every day life...

Well, I am an avid texter and I do it a lot. (A LOT.) Meaning: My first texting bill was over 100 dollars. But I cooled it down the next month by only going over 50. Yeah...congrats, right?

But even though I text a lot, I still find it hard to read a text that’s like:

“Wuzzup? u goin 2 da mll l8r?”

…I’m sorry, what?

Now, I understand how that would be easier to type on a tiny keyboard (or on a number keypad), but when it’s used in an email or in a letter…I guess you could say it’s a pet peeve of mine.

But keep in mind, when I am on Facebook, email, etc, I don’t expect people to type like they are typing an essay. Just type nicely enough so I can understand what you are saying!

Maybe I’m just not caught up with “trends” these days, but I doubt ill B tlking lke idk diss evur N ma life haha lolz XD ;-P

Monday, September 20, 2010

Welcome to Our Town, Home of “A-Rated” Schools



Yeah, OK. So you move to a new area. What do you do first? Well, if you have kids, you check out the school district.

When we moved to our current home, we were DINKs (Double Income, No Kids). “Good school” wasn’t an immediate factor, but we did know that the schools in our area were rated very high.

A year after moving in, we had Becca. Fours years later, we got our very own elementary school (three miles from our house).

Then we got the shocking news. Kids from out-of-area were being bused in.

And just like that, the school was overcrowded.

Four years later, (when Becca was starting third grade), they moved us to another school (further away from us than the first one).

Then they started busing kids in to THAT school. (And it was also soon filled to capacity.)

Now they’ve built a third elementary school. (Didn’t really matter to us any more, because by the end of fourth grade, Becca was being homeschooled.)

But for the other kids in our neighborhood, it meant being shuffled from one school to the next. (Four elementary schools in all.)

We fought it…all the shuffling around. And the being pushed out of your “neighborhood” school because we had to make room for kids from two towns over.

I sat in on school board meetings. I spoke. I was silenced.

We didn’t get any satisfaction. (And from what I understand, our boundaries are still shifting and moving. And people are STILL unhappy.)

But I was told that since our area wasn’t a “real town” (exact words of one school board member), that we really couldn’t complain. It wasn’t our right.

We don’t even rate our own middle school.

You take what you can get, I guess.

I’m so glad my child goes to an “A” school. The one right here at home, where there's stability and predictability…

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Passionate About Politics!


I should have known. She was so young, and yet already so passionate.

We took a “southern US” trip, back in 2006. Becca was 11.

We traveled to the panhandle of Florida, and visited family and friends in Texas and Arkansas.

When we passed through Hope, Arkansas, I told Becca that it was the birthplace of Bill Clinton. She insisted that she wanted to see his house. We stopped at a convenience store, and inquired about its location. And then we did a “drive by.”

But that wasn’t enough for Becca. She wanted to STOP. And visit the house. She was adamant about it. She wouldn’t take "no" for an answer.

I should have known then that my child was going to be passionate about politics.

Now, since she has parents with strong opinions, I’m not surprised that her beliefs (political and religious) pretty much align with ours.

But I never figured that she’d be as passionate as she is.

We’ve had to talk to her about “curbing her enthusiasm.” Oh, I want her to be passionate about her opinions. But I do feel there’s a line that must be drawn to keep from offending others.

We care a lot about our friends who have different beliefs than ours.

We may tend to be more “liberal” or “progressive” in our political leanings. But we’ve got friends who are very passionate in their conservative views.

And that’s OK.

We try to abide by a “live and let live” philosophy.

But, I am so glad that Becca is passionate about something as important as politics. It lets me know that she’s concerned with more than what she’s wearing, who she’s dating, or which party is coming next.

And having a child so concerned with the state of our country (and the world) gives me hope for the future.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What? You’ve Already Started Your Career? But You’re Only 15!!!


Yup. It’s true. Sidney is a wonderful, talented young lady (homeschooled, of course) who is already training and working as a cake artist. (You can view her blog, here.) She’s amazing. She brought one of her creations to our house yesterday. It was adorned with sculpted chocolate. It smelled divine and looked beautiful!

She spends most of her time making cakes, learning new techniques, interning with experts, etc. Oh, and she’s involved in other activities as well (a 4H-type club, volunteer time at a local zoo, yes—school work, and hang out time with other teens…she is a normal kid after all).

She’s so busy, though, that school (public school, anyway) would get in the way of all that she has to get done. It would essentially take away from her career preparations.

As a matter of fact, she might not have found her calling at all, if she hadn’t been homeschooled. See, she started with a simple “Wilton” cake decorating class at a local craft store.

After that, she dove in headfirst to her new passion. (She was hooked.)

Now she’s one of the youngest cake decorating apprentices in the area. And she has quite a career ahead of her. (She’s also teaching.)

And we know several other kids who are concentrating on their future…NOW. They don’t have to go to college to find out who they are (or what they want to be). They’ve decided to take a more direct route to reach their goal.

Yes, they still have to get an education, but they can specialize, NOW, in what they want to do.

Becca’s not sure what she wants to do for a career yet. (And I’m not worried. It’s still early.) But she has the ability, now, to try things out real-time.

She may want to start a business. She may want to intern. She may want to travel the world, to see what’s out there. It may finally hit her and THEN she’ll find the path she needs to follow to reach her destination.

It’s just like our friend, the cake decorator. Or the homeschooler who spends most of her day dancing, or ice skating, or just finding out who she wants to be.

There are fewer distractions, and more time. Without having to worry about “checking boxes” in a public school atmosphere.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hello! Becca Here again!


My mom would like me to write about MY view of being a “homeschool teen” and planning for homeschool teens and all that fun stuff. So here I go!

When my mom goes online (for long periods of time) she will ask me about twice a day, “Would you like to do blah, blah, blah?” And my answer is “Meh…I don’t know. Maybe.” (A minute or so later...) “Nah.” Well I’m not saying I’m anti-social with any other kids besides my teen friends (because ANY homeschool mom part of our group knows that’s not true!), but I do absolutely LOVE my hang out time with my crew.

I almost pick that over any other activities we are doing that week. (Almost.) I also prefer at least two days out of the week to have just reading and hanging out at home, spending “Mommy and Becca” time. (I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah you might like that but not every teen does.”) And you’re right.

But face it, not every teen likes doing the same things. For example: At our last teen night, some kids played Spoons with the adults, some hung out playing Apples to Apples with their close group of friends and some went outside to hang by themselves. Hey! Whatever floats your boat!

Even though sometimes I can be a moody, “only wants to hang with her friends” cranky teen…wait I lost my train of thought...OH! Even though I can be all of that stuff, I wouldn’t trade anything for my homeschool family. Whether you’re my “little sister” or my “second mom” or my “BFFAE” (or even my “annoying brother”...you know who you are!), you all have a part in the homeschool section of my heart.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Planning Events for Teenagers (Not as Easy as it Might Seem)


I had an epiphany yesterday.

No matter what activity my daughter attends these days, her main goal in life is having hang-out time with friends. If they’re not hanging and giggling and joking (and poking), they’re not happy.

It doesn’t matter what the activity is.

Well, it does a little bit. (It’s a change of scenery for them, I guess.) But the end goal is still the same. Friend time.

Now, that’s not a bad thing, considering how unsocialized homeschoolers are.

(Joking.)

But really, my daughter wants friend time. Day in, day out, 24 hours a day.

OK, maybe not really. My kid does enjoy family time. (I know, right? Unusual for a teenager…)

But really, this makes it hard for planning. Like I said before, her enthusiasm for field trips has waned over the past year. I ask, “Do you want to go to XXXXX?” Her answer? “Meh.” (Literally. She says meh.)

So when I DO plan (our own event, or sign up for someone else’s), I have to make sure the hang-out time is built in. Or that it’s purely social time.

Now you may be inclined to say, “Hmf. MY teen won’t get away with that. I’ll MAKE them do educational stuff.” Yeah. Good luck.

OK, so it’s not really all that bad. My kid does love spending time with me. And she does enjoy time with people OTHER than teens. And she still likes the educational stuff.

But I am happy to realize that her social life is healthy. Very healthy. And I have to say, she’s got some pretty amazing friends.

But for those of you who haven’t reached this stage yet…watch out. It’ll sneak up on you before you know it. (Don’t think for a moment that it won’t.) Then…good luck!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Secular" Homeschooling (But Not Really…)


OK, so I’ve read that over 70 percent of all homeschoolers in the US do so because of religious or moral reasons. (Don’t quote me here. I don’t have cold, hard statistics. All I have is the “research” I’ve done on the internet.) But the point is, many homeschoolers do teach at home for religious reasons.

We’re not one of those families.

There’s nothing wrong with faith-based homeschooling. Each one of us does what’s right for our family. (And for our child’s education.)

But though I wouldn’t say that we homeschool for religious reasons, we aren’t secular either.

Our faith, indeed, is a big part of our lives. Or maybe more our spirituality mixed with traditions.

But we didn’t decide to homeschool because of our faith.

And we don’t really use any faith-based curriculum (though we wouldn’t have a problem with it, and would use it if it was a good fit for us).

We have friends who belong to religious homeschooling groups and friends who belong to more “secular” (or “all-inclusive”) groups.

We may not all be homeschooling for the same reason, but it is nice to see that we can eventually meet on common ground.

We are all homeschoolers after all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

But I Can’t Teach My Child ____________ (Physics, Calculus, Trigonometry…Or Just Fill in the Blank)


A common protest that I hear, when it comes to homeschooling, is: “I couldn’t homeschool. I could never teach my child math!” My answer? “Psh, I can’t teach my child math either.”

Which usually results in a dropped jaw. And a follow-up question:

“But who teaches it then?”

There are so many possible answers to that question.

If you look, there are people all around us; friends, acquaintances, people in our community, that can teach our children what they need to know (and help them to have a well-rounded education).

There are also programs online (or programs that you can purchase), to teach your child certain subjects.

For example: I don’t teach math. Math-U-See teaches my daughter what she needs to know. It’s a fantastic program, taught by someone who knows what he’s doing. (And Becca's very happy with it.)

I learned this the hard way when I was trying to teach Becca fractions, and we both ended up in tears. Even this “amazing” homeschooling mom knows her limitations!

I had an incredible creative writing class in high school that I NEVER could have duplicated for Becca. But I do know a homeschool mom (and local newspaper reporter) who can teach it. (And she did…for Becca and 7 other kids.) It was a great experience (and at a minimal cost to us).

And yes, getting help outside the home does sometimes require paying someone to do it. But if it works (and it’s within your budget), then why not?

That’s not to say that you can’t find what you need without paying for it. That’s what co-ops are for. When you’re part of a homeschool community, chances are you can find someone who knows about math. Or science. Or history…

And there are ALWAYS older kids in the homeschool community who can help out.

Again, here in this state, we also have Florida Virtual School (which is a free program that is open to homeschoolers as well as public and private school kids).

Chances are, the state that you live in has a similar program.

So, yes, you CAN homeschool. Even if you think there’s a subject (or subjects) you can’t teach, all you need to do is look to your friends, your acquaintances, your community and even online.

All it takes is a little bit of ingenuity, elbow grease and the drive to find the resources that you need to help teach your child.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What Finally Pushed Us Over the Edge (Hello Homeschooling!)



My kid’s got a compromised immune system.

As a kid, I was the same way.

My mom used to say that while other kids walked around with runny noses all winter, I got sick and ended up in the hospital.

My kid has my immune system.

We made a trip to Alaska when Becca was almost a year-and-a-half old, and there she developed her first ear infection. We struggled with those for several years.

Soon after, her doctor diagnosed her with asthma. She was constantly hooked up to a nebulizer for a while.

After we got the asthma pretty much under control, the throat infections started.

So school was a challenge for us. Becca was sick. A lot. We ran to the doctor. A LOT. Even a small cold could turn into something more serious. So every time she got sick, off we went.

For the most part, we were granted leniency. It was really bad when she was in preschool. We missed so many days that the teacher noticed her speech backsliding, instead of progressing as it should for a "normal" child her age.

She missed so many days when she was in public school, that concerned teachers (and administrators) would make comments to me.

There was a possibility that Becca was going to be held back.

We did everything we were required to do when Becca got sick. I took her to the doctor and got a “note.” We asked for make-up work. (Most of the time, her teachers said not to worry about it. That they’d catch her up when she got back.)

So, this leaving her back a grade stuff really got me concerned. We were doing all the right things… But it just wasn’t good enough (on paper, at least).

Somehow we survived it, though. Becca never ended up being held back.

But it was a struggle, and I ended up having to be her biggest advocate...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Speaking of Priorities…

Becca sits with "her" firefighter in NYC

After 9/11, Bob was deployed to Kuwait.

We were still reeling from the aftershock, and by February he was gone.

He did two tours over there. We coped as well as we could.

On the 1st anniversary of September 11th, we decided that we needed to make a pilgrimage to New York City and Washington DC. We put word out to Becca’s entire school, and let them know that we were planning to take “thank you” notes, and deliver them to the firefighters and police officers in both cities.

Becca (7 years old) and I embarked on our journey, with a box full of hand-made cards and pictures, all thanking our “heroes.” We decided that we would take pictures along our trip, and send them back (reporting in) as we traveled.

I cleared our trip with Becca’s school, but we were warned about the “nine unexcused absences” policy. (Anything more than 9 days would result in a failing grade for the semester.)

Brevard County Schools Attendance Policy

I wasn’t too concerned with the attendance rules. We would make it work. (I would make sure that Becca wouldn’t miss any more school than she had to, for the rest of the semester.)

I felt that this trip was necessary. First of all, it would be extremely educational. Secondly, this was something that we needed. Bob was serving in Kuwait. We were still reeling from the previous year’s events. We NEEDED this trip, to be able to start healing.

The trip was a huge success. We were received well, and with much appreciation. We shed many tears, and we created memories.

But when we returned to school, we were warned, again and again, that we needed to watch our absences. MY opinion was that what we were doing was MUCH more important than what we missed during that two-week period. (Becca ended up missing 9 “unexcused” days, and we never went over our 9-day limit.)

But I had a REAL problem with the policy. And it didn’t end there. We had many more occasions where Becca’s attendance, evidently, was becoming a problem…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Time for Reflection...

The Sphere
(One of the few public art treasures recovered from the WTC site)

I guess we all can remember where we were, 9 years ago today. It’s just one of those things.

I was at Becca’s school, volunteering in the library. The Assistant Principal was watching the TV in the AV room. She had an unforgettable look on her face. I didn’t know what was happening. Then someone told me.

At first we thought it was some kind of accident. Little did we know…

I called Bob, and told him that I was pulling Becca out of school and going home. The base was on alert. Bob wasn’t going anywhere.

I knew I had to be home, where I felt “safest.” (As safe as we could feel at that time.) And I wanted my baby with me.

I wonder how many other people did the same thing that day.

How many people grabbed their children and took them home. And watched. And waited…with hope.

The world changed on that date; September 11, 2001.

No one can deny that we live in a different world today than we did 10 years ago.

Sometimes our priorities can shift. Though Becca was always the center of my life, when I put things in perspective, I realized that life is way too short to waste it on things that aren’t worth your time.

And I can’t help but wonder how much of my decision to homeschool was based on the world, as we knew it, changing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hi! Becca here writing as your “guest speaker” today! (Aren’t you lucky!)


Today I thought I’d give you my insight on homeschooling and how I couldn’t do without it.

When I was in school, (even though I don’t remember much), I remember being miserable. Missing my mom, thinking about what I could be doing instead of six hours a day in a classroom, and how I felt just icky. When I got the idea of homeschooling, I was rabid! I just HAD to be homeschooled. And when we finally started…oh boy it was the best thing ever! I made friends immediately and had just an absolute blast! From American Girl Dolls, to gossiping about cute boys in the group, I knew I fit right in.

Now, when you think of typical homeschooling, you think unsocial, ultra-smart weird kids (which I’m not saying we aren’t) but we are much more than that. The kids in our group range from amazingly smart, to ditzy teen girls, to well…me.

When I left school, I was nine years old, and now I am fifteen and as happy as ever. I am very active in an amazing teen group and I am also very active in my “main” homeschool group (which my mom started).

I have my own crochet business, and I am an obsessed reader. (I’m now reading The Hunger Games, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Clockwork Angel…all at the same time!!)

I am very excited to be back into the swing of things since this “school year” began. (Drama, art, Funtown, permit practicing, many teen functions, and also “down days.”) I know it will be awesome!

Glad to share with you all,

Happy blogging!

Becca T

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Homeschooling Isn’t Just About the Kids (Though They Do Factor In…)

A Holiday Celebration With Homeschooling Friends


While we were sitting at the community pool today (for our monthly park day), one of the moms made a really interesting observation:

We, as homeschoolers, tend to become immersed in each other’s lives.

Let me backtrack a little…

Before I started homeschooling (and joined a homeschool group), the "true" friendships that I made (and kept up) were few and far between.

That’s not to say that I haven’t made some really good friends outside of my homeschool group. I have. And I cherish those friendships…

But I’m the type of person who thrives on being around people. LOTS of people. And in the past (maybe because Florida is such a transient state?) it had been really hard for me to find a lot of long-lasting friendships (with truly "genuine" people).

So when I joined the homeschool community, I gained a family. We never spent another holiday alone. We were with friends 5-6 days out of the week. Not only did my kid have a ton of friends, I suddenly had a bunch of friends as well. Our families did things together. I met dads. (And a great group dads at that!)

You see, though I was acquainted with some of the parents of the kids my daughter went to school with, it was a different situation. I saw them in passing. (I never even learned the names of most of them.)

With a tight-knit homeschool community like ours, we become a part of each others’ lives.

That’s not to say that all homeschooling adults (or kids) get along one hundred percent. We’ve had situations, disagreements, and have had issues with no foreseeable resolution.

But for the most part, we really care about each other. We look out for each other (and each other’s kids). We celebrate together. We mourn together. And yes, like a family, we spat at times.

And when a friendship doesn’t “work out,” it affects us deeply.

I guess that’s the trade-off you end up accepting. Because just like a family, sometimes you can’t live with them, but yet you truly can’t survive without them…

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friends Come, Friends Go…


I’ve been reflecting lately on how things have changed since we started homeschooling.

We’ve changed homeschool groups. We left a Girl Scout troop. We started another scout group and left that one too. At times, our lives have been in flux.

We’ve had friends come and go.

(This is true for our homeschooling friends, as well as friends in other parts of our lives.)

Some have had “life changes.” Some just drifted away…

Some were never a good fit in the first place. And that’s OK.

Luckily, those who are the most important to us are still in our lives. We may not see them all the time, but we keep in contact the best we can.

Some leave our lives permanently, and it’s for the better. Some leave and we have regrets. But we move forward.

We reflect on the year that has passed, and we look forward to the coming year.

And we move ahead with no regrets.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Organizing Something for Homeschoolers? It’s Like Herding Cats!

Hogwarts Castle, Universal Islands of Adventure (Under Construction - February 2010)

So, I’m planning a field trip to Universal Islands of Adventure. We’re making a trip to go visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (I love Harry.) We’ve waited until the weather cooled off, and the lines died down a little bit. And with the release of the new movie on November 19th, we figured late November/early December would be a perfect time.

Now, if you’ve never planned a field trip for a bunch of homeschoolers, well, you’ve never really lived.

Homeschoolers are a special breed. I’ve always said, there’s a REASON why we homeschool.

A lot of us like to do things our own way. And in our own time.

Now, that’s not to say that homeschoolers are disorganized. Or too relaxed. I know plenty of homeschool families that have strict regimens.

It’s not about that.

But I will tell you, that organizing homeschoolers is like, well, herding cats.

(No, not “hurting” cats. HERDING cats.)

You ever try to herd cats? Can’t be done.

Now, I’m sure I’m exaggerating, just a bit. But it is interesting trying to organize something for a homeschool group.

But that’s part of what makes us such a unique bunch.

So, back to planning. Wish me luck!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lifers (Those Who Start Homeschooling from Birth), Convertees, and School Kids (Oh My!)


Lifers: I find them to be a curious species (in a good way, of course).

As a homeschooler, I kind of compare this situation to people who are born Jewish, versus people who convert to Judaism.

People who convert are not any less Jewish than I am (I was born into it), but they don’t always have the exposure to the culture that Jews-by-birth may have.

We weren’t “born into” homeschooling. We kind of converted to it…

But these homeschoolers from birth are pretty amazing. They have kids who sometimes want to try public school (and sometimes do), but most of the time, they seem to be perfectly content with living in their always-been-homeschooled world.

Which I find wonderfully fascinating.

In a way, I’m envious. If-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now, would I have homeschooled from the beginning? Probably. Do I regret Becca’s public school time? Not at all.

But I can’t help but wonder how it would have been if I’d homeschooled Becca from the get-go.

I am on the “Board” of our primary homeschool group. I look at the other three board members, and I realize, that I am the only “convertee” in the bunch. It’s a sobering thought.

(I’m also the board member with the oldest child.)

It’s great that we have a somewhat diverse little group helping to run (facilitate) our homeschool group

It’s a direct representation of our homeschool group at large. We have a great group of homeschoolers from birth, convertees and a few schooled kids, thrown into the mix.

To borrow a phrase from Martha Stewart: It’s a good thing!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Warning: Homeschooling Can Be Contagious (Isn’t There a Pill for That?)


Not too long after I pulled Becca out of public school, I received a call from a friend. She knew other friends and family members who were homeschooling, and she was considering it for her children. Needless to say, her kids never returned to school.

Another friend saw me at a community event. She called me over and said, “I want to talk to you.” (My first response to that is always, “Oh no, what did I do…”) But all she wanted was to ask a few questions about homeschooling. (She had a few concerns as well.) She was thinking of pulling her daughter out of public school. She’s been homeschooling for about two years now…

And last year, one of Becca’s BFFs spent his last year in public school. His mom is now homeschooling him and he couldn’t be happier.

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that all of these people who are now homeschooling did it because of me (or us). What I believe is that once people see someone close to them doing it, they think, “Hey, she makes it look easy. Maybe I can do it too!”

Having someone close to you start to homeschool may give you that last little push that you need toward doing it. (Heck that’s what finally happened to me. I found someone doing it, who made it look “doable.”)

I have at least two other friends now who are considering the homeschooling option for their children. (Like I said, contagious maybe?)

It’s nice to know that people can look at my homeschooling efforts and think, “If she can do it, maybe I can do it too…”

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Let’s Call it Something Other Than Homeschooling (Can We Change the Name Worldwide?)


After reading about all of our adventures, a friend recently suggested that we change the name of “homeschooling” to “never at home-schooling.” I kind of like that idea!

We've also talked about calling it “always-in-my-car-schooling.” Or how about “the world is our classroom…”

One of my favorite bumper stickers reads, “If it’s called homeschooling, then why am I always out?”

For the first time in about five years, we had a lot of self-imposed down time this summer. Every year, I swore we’d actually have a “summer break.” Then I’d end up booking, double-booking and over-booking. (Once a planner, always a planner!) I really needed a summer off…

Though we ended up enjoying a lot of reading time, pool time and lazy days, Becca, for the first time since we started homeschooling, went a little (teeny bit) stir crazy. She’s more than happy to jump back into all of our regular “school year” activities.

While I can’t speak for all of the other homeschooling families out there, I know a LOT of our “learning time” has been out of the home. Even folks that stick to a strict classroom schedule find themselves running to field trips, co-ops and “outside” activities.

Perhaps if homeschoolers had a different name, people wouldn’t assume that they are stuck in the house all day.

All we homeschoolers can do, in addition to educating our kids, is continue to educate society as well…

Friday, September 3, 2010

So Where Do We Go and What Do We Do (Where ARE You Guys All Day?)

Ft Christmas, Florida

Last night, some homeschool friends and I attended the 14th Annual Brevard Zoo Teacher Open House. It was my first time, and I really enjoyed it!

They had refreshments, a local celebrity DJ, door prizes and a lot of information geared toward educators.

When each “vendor” asked what grade I teach, my responses were, “10th grade,” “High school,” or simply “Oh, I homeschool.” I got a LOT of positive feedback with that one… It was very refreshing! (The typical response was, “Oh, we have LOTS available for homeschool groups!”)

So in the future, we might be attending an archeological “dig” with the Florida Public Archaeology Network, taking a class at the Brevard Art Museum School, or making a trip to the Liberty Bell Memorial Museum (yes, right here in Brevard County, Florida).

In the past, we have participated in educational trips to the The Orlando Science Center, WonderWorks, Fort Christmas, the Brevard County Courthouse and the Brevard Zoo. We’ve had “fun” field trips to Chuck E. Cheese, a Daytona Beach candy factory, Sebastian Inlet and a Spring Training baseball game.

We’ve also done our share of “community service” by visiting assisted living facilities to spread cheer (and bring goodies) to the residents during the holiday season.

It’s good I keep a “photo diary” of all our events. (I don’t keep other records, really.) My “c drive” is full because of all the photos I’ve stored. It’s nice to look back at our events over the past 5 ½ years, and see how Becca’s grown, and all that we’ve participated in…

Like I’ve said before, our activities have slowed down a lot now that Becca’s older (and her interests have changed). There was a time, when we first started homeschooling, that we were gone 6 days out of 7. Maybe not so much anymore, but if you call and we’re not home, don’t be surprised!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why I’d Rather Have a the Most Well-Adjusted Kid in the World (As Opposed to the Smartest Kid in the World)


I know. A weird thing for a mom to say.

But I’ve always said this. (Well, since I’ve been a mom I have.)

When Becca was in public school, I decided that though book-learning is indeed important, her emotional stability (and security) was even more important. Her ability to get along with other people (kids and adults) was (and is) a top priority for us.

I’d seen kids that were super-smart, but had no idea of how to interact with other kids (or adults). And I still do, to this day.

(Ever talk to a kid that grunts in response? Or can’t look you in the eye? Yeah, me too.)

But I mean, it’s not like you really get to CHOOSE this for your child. We don’t all have kids and say, “I think I’ll have a smart kid.” Or “I think I’ll have a super-social kid.”

I believe that people, to a certain degree, are born with certain propensities/personality traits. But then, how much of who we are (and who we become) is based on the environment that we’re brought up in?

Then there’s the fact that it IS entirely possible to be both smart AND social… (The ideal combination, in my book.)

I must say (though I do consider Becca to be VERY bright), the fact that she can interact with people (kids, teens, adults, sales people, strangers on the subway in New York City) is a good thing.

(She wants me to add in here that she IS aware of stranger danger, so don’t worry…)

Again, this may seem like a weird thing for a mom to say, but I am truly glad that I have a kid who’s not too shabby in the brains department, but most importantly, is socially well-adjusted… It works well for us!