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)


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:




Moths and Butterflies

Stop Motion Videos


Ancient Egypt

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


American Girl Dolls

Loch Ness Monster



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!


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” 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.


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!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Homeschool Drama (No, Not the Juicy Stuff)

Becca went back to her homeschool drama class yesterday at a local community theater. She loves being on stage. (Definitely takes after her mama).

Last year, the girls in her class did Shakespeare’s Ladies. It was adorable. Becca developed such an interest in Shakespeare that she ended up reading SEVEN of Shakespeare’s plays.

I don't know about you, but I found Shakespeare’s writing to be dry (and confusing) when I studied him in high school. But a friend told us about the No Fear Shakespeare series. (In these books, the original text is on the left, and the "translation" is on the right). Becca fell in love.

We also watched some of the movie adaptations (including Othello and Much Ado About Nothing). Becca also found Shakespeare in Love, and though it's a fictional story (based on Shakespeare's "love life"), she was smitten.

But back to our homeschool drama class. It’s so nice when places (outside of the homeschooling community) cater to homeschoolers. There are theater programs, sports programs, homeschooler roller skating days and homeschool bowling leagues. Next week, one of our local public pools will accommodate a large group of us for our monthly park day.

I guess the public at large is starting to realize that there are homeschoolers out there (and that we don’t necessarily spend all day at home). More and more places seem to want to cater to these wonderful kids (and parents).

Ask any homeschooler you know, and they’ll tell you about running to drama, and voice lessons, and PE, and gymnastics…

And imagine, I only have one homeschooled child. Multiply these activities times four…or five. (We have several homeschool families in our group with multiple children.) Talk about “Mom’s Taxi!!!”

I am so very thankful for all of the wonderful opportunities available to us...