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!!!

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.


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.


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

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 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


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.


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…”


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


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…