Some quotes I like

The other day, I posted some quotes I like. Here's a few more.

“College isn't the place to go for ideas.” ~ Helen Keller

“Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ~ Mark Twain

“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.” ~ Agatha Christie

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Day Ninety Seven

Wow, I'm almost up to 100 days. :-) Here's an update on what's been going on in our corner of the universe.

Jacqueline went camping with her Brownie troop as an end-of-year celebration. She had a great time! They do all sorts of activites, they swim, BBQ, go hiking, etc. I also signed her up for a one week Girl Scout day camp in June. This was her third year in GS and she wants to go back in August when they start up again. She'll be a Brownie for one more year and then move into Junior Girl Scouts.
Billy has been showing her how to dive into the pool. She's like a fish. LOL!
She's still very interested in space and has been working on her space book. She bought a binder in the flea market for 50 cents and she puts all her space papers in there with after I punch holes in it. I printed out some space stationary from online and she uses that to write her notes.

Shawna has been having a little bit of a rough time. This is the time of year they were removed from their original home and it happened to be 2 days before her 4th birthday. Her 11th birthday is next week and since she moved in, she's very emotional around this time. I didn't make the connection about it until last year and when I did, I spoke to her about it. She never realised it and she agreed that was probably why she was angrier and more sensative this time of year. Ever since I brought it to her attention though, I've noticed it has tapered off. I think just knowing that there was a reason for it, helped her. Billy & I are also very careful to not talk about her birthday to much in the weeks before and that has helped a lot also.
She is so into reading, more and more all the time. She's just staring the series of Little House books by Laura Ingells Wilder. She's crazy about that time period and we are working our way through all the Little House DVD's from Blockbuster.

Cimion has been doing okay, except for this past week. Like Shawna, this is a emotional time for him. It was an abusive situation involving him that made the authorites permanently remove them.
He is still involed with his Yu-Gi-Oh league and loving it. He goes every Saturday and stays about 3 hours. There are about 25 kids that go and he knows a few of them from when he was in school.

Billy & I are still trying to find a contractor to do our bathroom. Billy gutted the whole room down to the sheet rock. hen the kids moved in we concentrated on the rest of the house and the backyard. In the process, our bedroom and bathroom have been sadly neglected. We started our bedroom last year (it is NOT a child-friendly bedroom. Adults only please!) and now it's time for the bathroom.

That's it for us. :-)

Day Ninety Six

Now that we have a gigantic world map on the wall in our family room, the kids are very interested in where the people that visit here are from.
Here's the latest stats:

United States
United Kingdom
New Zealand
Hong Kong
South Africa
Korea, Republic of
Puerto Rico


Quotes on schooling

Some quotes on schooling that I like:

"It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreak and ruin. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty."
-Albert Einstein

"Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality."
- Beatrix Potter

"A child only educated at school in an uneducated one."
-George Santayana

"Education is what you must acquire without any interference from your schooling."
-Mark Twain

"My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself."
-George Bernard Shaw "

"Schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes any more that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don't really teach anything except how to obey orders."
-John Taylor Gatto

"My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school.
-Margaret Mead

And this one that someone posted at an unschooling board:

"Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts."
-Frank Zappa, ca. 1968

I's like to add this one also. It from my daughter Shawna

"Home is better"

-Shawna (age 10), when asked by her former public school teacher why she liked being homeschooled.

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An unschooling parent

Part of being an unschooling parent is being present and mindful with your children. Being invloved in their lives. Because let's face it, if you're going to get rid of school, it should be replaced with something. That something should be you.

One of the members of an unschooling e-mail list I belong to, wrote that she is having trouble being truly present with her kids. I'd like to share one of the answers she received.

Here's what I figured out as it pertains to parenting and unschooling (parenthetical summaries where I could think of them):

1. meeting my own needs means that I can be the unschooling mom I need and want to be. (recharge)

2. I found some of my hs'ing books and remembered why I believe in this approach. (reaffirm)

3. I realized my social and intellectual needs were starving, and started seeking outlets for myself. (recharge) imo, this is extremely important modeling. how do you want your kids to take care of themselves as adults?

4. I noticed all the signals my body had been giving me over many months that I had ignored, so that I had to be "hit over the head" with panic attacks before I would change anything. (listen to self)

5. I got online and found this list. From there, by mentioning my location, I found some semi-local moms-- one that I actually knew irl! (get connected)

6. I looked at all the areas of elevated stress in my life-- there were quite a few-- and started taking concrete steps to make changes. as long as I was taking some baby step, I could steer clear of the panic. (take action!)

7. I consciously worked on reconnecting with nature. for me, this is my constant, my place where I can find that feeling that life is meaningful. if it works for you too, it's getting easier now that we're moving into summer-- make sure you're not deprived of natural light, get your hands in dirt, even if you don't garden, which I highly recommend! (get connected)

8. I started exercising, very important for clearing those toxic panic feelings and the associated biochemistry. (be healthy)

My suggestion, then, would be to figure out what you need to recharge and feel that your life is meaningful, and go get it! I once heard bernie siegel speak, and he said "If you lose your keys, you go find them, right? if you lose your health, go find it!" the same is true for our motivation and our zest for life. Go find your joy! and take your kids! it will snowball once you get rolling. but you're the only one who can pull you out of the quicksand.

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A quote that sums up unschooling for me.

I love this quote...

Everything you've been taught is someone else's thought...

...Go ahead and create your own.

I don't know who to credit it to, if someone knows, please leave a comment. I have it printed out and it's hanging in my house. :-)

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Some interesting unschooling thoughts:

Someone posted on an unschooling e-mail list: Although some kids might think an all day video-game, cookie eating, bath-free world would be fabulous, as a parent we know that would lead to illness in the short term, obesity in the long term. Obviously that's an extreme example, but it makes the point.

Mary Gold:
It seems like you're assuming that this is the choice most children would make if given the chance. What people here are saying is that we've found that not to be true. Our children were given the freedom to regulate their eating, sleeping and interests. What we've found is that kids with choices do not automatically choose the worst possible option. Sure sometimes there's a cookie for breakfast or a skipped bath or three, but more times there are good choices and a healthy, happy kid.

Pamela Sorooshian:
I wanted to emphasize Mary's point here - because we see this
assumption made over and over - that kids will choose what is not good for them and, therefore, a parent's job is to set limits to make sure they do what is good for them. Well, yes, just like adults, kids WILL sometimes choose what is not good for them. Do WE always do what we know is good for us?

Why shouldn't parents control their children's lives, making sure they only do what the parents think is "good for them?"

It is because the "choosing" is really important in the child's psychological development, both individually, to move toward self-actualization in his/her own life, and socially, to function as a valuable member of a democratic society. And if a person can't make "real" choices, then his/her so-called freedom is not real. It is a delusion to believe you are free, if your choices are limited to those that someone else has determined are healthy for you.

We see too many people, these days, willing to give up their own freedoms, in exchange for protection or security or even just for convenience. A society composed of compliant people is orderly, and, for some, reassuring and comforting - this is the allure of a dictator! Independence and liberty are messy and risky. This is as
true within a family as it is for society as a whole.

Many parenting books talk about offering children limited choices, such as asking: "Do you want the red shirt or the blue shirt today?" The point of these "choices" is not to give real choice, but to fake the kid out - to give the child the illusion of having a choice. This is done for the convenience of the parent whose motivation is to get the child dressed quickly, usually in order to more efficiently get out the door to school or daycare. But this kind of control over
children's lives, carried on throughout childhood at home and at school, often leads to dangerous levels of passivity and apathy, unengaged teenagers who don't think for themselves and are too easily led by others, or to passive resistance or even active rebellion, which we see in teenagers who flaunt their rejection of all authority and engage in dangerous antisocial behaviors. Unschoolers are striving for something different - our goal is raising truly free children who will grow up to insist on thinking for themselves and will never be easily controlled by others. Unschoolers around the world are demonstrating that parents and kids, together, can, in fact, set up a home environment that supports true freedom and provides MANY options - real choices, not "fake" ones.

Unschooling parents do not abdicate parental responsibility, they do not deprive their children of their protection and care, but they do go far beyond most parents, now or historically, in choosing support of freedom over parental control and convenience, as they offer real choices in an environment that does not focus on limiting a child's options, but provides nearly boundless opportunity. A friend of mine once said that unschooling can feel a lot like jumping off a cliff, not knowing if you have wings to fly. And I think it can look just about that foolish, from outside, too! But there are unschooled kids soaring all over the place, these days, and all we have to do is look at them, look at their energy and love of life and learning, watch as they pursue their dreams with confidence and gusto, to know that John Holt was right when he said, "Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them." (John Holt in "How Children Fail")

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Day Ninety

The homeschooling carnival is ready for viewing at Principled Discovery You'll find my post on what unschooling is and isn't.
(A carnival is a collection of blog posts on a related topic)


Soda geyser

I told Billy about the soda/mentos geyser video I saw on the Adventures in Living blog. He, of course, thought it was very cool and came home with some cheap diet soda and mentos.

I went to
Steven Spangler's site for the details. He has a fantastic site, full of science experiments.


This activity is probably best done outside in the middle of an abandoned field, or better yet, on a huge lawn.

Carefully open the bottle of soda. Position the bottle on the ground so that it will not tip over.

Unwrap the whole roll of Mentos. The goal is to drop all of the Mentos into the bottle of soda at the same time (which is trickier than it looks). One method for doing this is to roll a piece of paper into a tube just big enough to hold the loose Mentos. You'll want to be able to position the tube directly over the mouth of the bottle so that all of the candies drop into the bottle at the same time.

As you probably know, soda pop is basically sugar (or diet sweetener), flavoring, water and preservatives. The thing that makes soda bubbly is invisible carbon dioxide gas, which is pumped into bottles at the bottling factory using tons of pressure. Until you open the bottle and pour a glass of soda, the gas mostly stays suspended in the liquid and cannot expand to form more bubbles, which gases naturally do. But there's more...

If you shake the bottle and then open it, the gas is released from the protective hold of the water molecules and escapes with a whoosh, taking some of the soda along with it. What other ways can you cause the gas to escape? Just drop something into a glass of soda and notice how bubbles immediately form on the surface of the object. For example, adding salt to soda causes it to foam up because thousands of little bubbles form on the surface of each grain of salt.

The reason why Mentos work so well is two fold: Tiny pits on the surface of the candy and the weight of the candy. Each Mentos candy has thousands of tiny pits all over the surface. These tiny pits are called nucleation sites - perfect places for carbon dioxide bubbles to form. As soon as the Mentos hit the soda, bubbles form all over the surface of the candy. Couple this with the fact that the Mentos candies are heavy and sink to the bottom of the bottle and you've got a double-whammy. When all this gas is released, it literally pushes all of the liquid up and out of the bottle in an incredible soda blast.

We just did it a few minutes ago in our yard and it went about 10'-11'!!! LOL!!! It was great! (We're easily amused) :-)

Try it and let us know how it goes!


Homeschooling the older, adopted child

I have an article on A To Z Home's Cool about homeschooling a child that was adopted at an older age. I am grateful to Ann Zeise (the web owner) for giving me the space to share something I feel strongly about.

Check out her site while you're there. There is literally TONS of information on homeschooling at her site.



My kids want to make slime. :-) We're going to do it next week after I buy the borax. I'm posting the recipe here in case someone is looking for one.
If you want some fun bubble recipes and activites,
click here.

Borax (can bought at your local grocery store in the laundry detergent aisle.)
White glue (can be purchased at a mass merchandise store)
Food coloring is optional (can be purchased in the grocery store in the baking aisle.)
Ziploc bags (can also be purchased at the grocery store.)
measuring cups and spoons.

1. Take a cup of water and add to it 1 Tbs. of borax (approx 4% solution). Stir until completely dissolved.
2. Make a 50% water 50% white glue solution. Take 1/4 cup of each and mix thoroughly.
3. In a ziploc bag, add equal parts of the borax solution to equal parts of the glue solution. 1/2 cup of each will make a cup of slime.
4. Add a couple drops of food coloring.
5. Seal bag and knead the mixture.
6. Dig in and have fun. Remember to wash your hands after playing.
7. Keep your slime in the sealed bag in the refrigerator when not playing with it to keep it longer. Unfortunately it may eventually dry out or grow mold. Just throw it out and start again!

The borax is acting as the crosslinking agent or "connector" for the glue (polyvinyl acetate) molecules. Once the glue molecules join together to form even larger molecules called polymers, you get a thickened gel very similar to slime. If you've tried this recipe (formula) before using blue starch (instead of the borax) with mixed results, you won't be disappointed with this one. Works everytime! If you have access to a chemical supply house, try a 4% solution of polyvinyl alcohol instead of the glue for a less rubbery polymer and one that is transparent showing off the color better.

**update added** 6/20: We made it tonight and it turned out really great!! Very slimey and smooth...Shawna loved squeezing it through her fingers. Billy helped them and we used neon food coloring so the color was nice & bright!**


Bird restaurant

We have our own bird restaurant. :-)

This past Christmas, we decided we need a bigger tree for next year. When we dismantled our tree (6' artifical), instead of throwing it out, Billy dug a hole and put it in the dirt in our back yard.

The kids strung popcorn, using a needle and thread, and we placed it all around the tree. Then, my husband screwed hooks in some very large pine cones and we tied ribbons to them. Then we put peanut butter on, rolled them around in birdseed and hung them by the ribbons.

The birds love it! :-) We have beautiful blue jays and cardinals here.

They don't tip very well though. :-)


Reactive Attachment Disorder

Shawna (10 years old) & I had an interesting conversation a couple of weeks ago.

It started with Billy & I talking with her about how she tries to manipulate & control people. We were basically talking with her about how people want to be treated and that manipulating & controlling people, and situations is not a way to gain trust. So we asked her why she thinks she does it. She thought for a moment and said "I think it's because I was adopted". I asked her what she meant (thinking she couldn't find the right words to use) and she said "Well, kids who were removed from their home and got adopted are supposed to have problems with it, right?"

Although we openly discuss the reason she (and her two siblings) were removed from their birth home, placed in foster care and later adopted by us, I saw that she was confused about her past and she thought all her problems stemmed from being adopted, not from the abuse and neglect that led up to her being adopted.

That night while she slept, I went through all the papework that I have from when we finalized their adoption and I also got some information together on
Reactive Attachment Disorder

The next day, her & I sat down and talked. I told her about the attachment cycle. This was something we discussed in great detail in our training classes (classes you must take before you can adopt an abused child). The cycle goes like this...the baby has a need (hunger, needs to be changed, illness, etc) they signal that need by crying, their primary caregiver (usually the mother) meets their needs. If this cycle is repeated over and over again by the same caregiver, the baby will learn to trust and be able to continue on in their development.
On the other hand, if that need is not met, or is met inconsistantly or by different caregivers, that baby learns to not trust and that the world is unsafe. They learn that they cannot depend on adults. They learn that they must be in control of their life for their survival.
As I was talking to her, she said "That's what happened to us".

And she was right.

Children with RAD learn to see the world very differently than the rest of us. They learned in those first couple of years that they could not rely on adults to keep them safe.

Attachment Disorders range in severity. In fact, the attachment continuum runs from securely attached through degrees of attachment issues all the way to those who suffer from severe attachment disorder. Some children suffer from mild, moderate or severe attachment issues and some from mild, moderate, or severe attachment disorders. For that reason, when you seek out an attachment therapist you're asked to rate each symptom on a scale of 1-10.
This checklist is what we filled out on Cimion & Shawna (Jacqueline shows no signs of RAD. When they were removed from their abusive home, she was placed with loving people that she attached to). They were both formally diagnosed with moderate attachment disorder while still in foster care and that was confirmed again when we sought out the help of an attachment therapist two years ago. Cimion was also diagnosed as passive agressive. The year they spent in attachment therapy was worth every penny and every hour we put into it and my parenting of them is a direct result of their disorder.

Regarding the above checklist...
1) All children with RAD have control issues. The key question is, “How extreme or intense is their need to be in control?” These control issues are captured in a number of the 28 symptoms listed in the checklist. The child with RAD is oppositional, argumentative, disobedient or often defiant. They are exceedingly strong-willed and will go to great extremes to be in charge. Their need to control comes from their intense fear that further harm will occur if they are once again as helpless as they were as babies.

2) Most children with RAD have problems with anger. Many will express their anger overtly, having frequent temper tantrums and a short frustration tolerance. A smaller percentage of children will be passive-aggressive and engage in annoying, frustrating, and aggravating behavior. Often this is disguised by a facade of innocence or hidden in socially acceptable behavior. For example, a child with RAD can hug a parent so hard it physically hurts. To a casual observer, it would seem the child’s hug was a loving act. In reality, the child inflicted pain, a hurtful act, within a hug, which is a loving act. This is the hallmark of passive-aggressive behavior or indirect anger.

3) Children with RAD have problems developing a conscience. In the most severe children, their conscience is entirely absent. They have no remorse, regret, or guilt when they violate their parents’ or other people’s rights. In the milder condition of RAD, the conscience is underdeveloped. A number of the items on the checklist are related to the child having little or no conscience.

4) All unattached children have trust issues. They do not trust their parents and the parents cannot trust their children. The severity of trust issues is directly related to the severity of the RAD condition. A number of the 28 symptoms assess the child’s desire and willingness to live outside their parent’s circle of control by being deceptive and disobedient. This failure to develop a bond of love, trust, and cooperation must be present in order for a child to be accurately diagnosed with RAD.

Shawna has come a long way but when I notice even the smallest sign of old behaviors, I increase my interactions with her. Time outs, grounding, punishments, etc, does not work with RAD kids. What I do is limit the number of adults she has contact with and the number of outside activites she has and spend more time with her. When I draw her closer to me and to home, I see that she feels safe and that she can feel better about trusting me. Removing her from school was one of the best things I did for her in dealing with her attachment issues.

When she & I had our talk that day, I showed her court papers she had not seen before. We also looked at the list of multiple placements she had before coming home to us. We talked about how this can effect a young child and how it changed her view of the world. In
Gregory Kecks article, he talks about not minimizing the trauma these children went through and that affirming their reality is part of their healing.

Shawna has overcome large obstacles in her life and I have no doubt that she'll heal from this trauma.
She's already on her way.


make it, don't waste it

As a family, we do what we can to make our money go further.
At times, we try to make things ourselves, instead of buying it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Other times, we look for ways to use something before we get rid of it. It's kind of fun to try and with the kids being homeschooled, it gives them a chance to see that being creative and using what you have is an alternative to buying. Not to mention the benefit of recycling and reducing waste. My youngest has gotten pretty good at finding a second life for things and she uses a lot of odds and ends for art projects.

One thing we make ourselves is basic household cleaners.

1) Glass cleaner:
In a clean, empty spray bottle, add 1/3 cup of vinegar for every 4 cups of water.

2) All purpose cleaner:
In a clean gallon container combine 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/2 gallon water.

Finding a second life for things instead of throwing it out is something I actually enjoy doing and find it very rewarding in a creative outlet kind of way.

1) Billy used two thick wooden beams to make a balance beam for the kids in the back yard.
2) A tea cup saucer became a place for butterflies to drink by adding some small rocks and water.
3) Some old picket fence panels got painted and block off the pool pump.
4) Crushed up cookies at the bottom of the bag get tossed on top of pudding or ice cream. (my kids love this!)
5) Old washcloths and towels become cleaning rags
6) Sunday comics to wrap the kids Christmas gifts (they think this is cute!).
7) A very large piece of cardboard became a mobile jigsaw puzzle holder while it's being worked on.
8) we save buttons, tassles, old earrings, greeting cards, etc to use for art & craft projects.
9) an old tupperware container became our buried time capsule.
10) Four wheels from a table left behind by the people who used to live here became the wheels for Buddie's (our iguana) cage...even though she's hardly ever in it. We only use it when people are over.
11) My seven year old just did this 5 minutes ago: She's got a cold and is on the couch with a box of tissues. She just finished the box, so I gave her a new one and went to thrwo the old one out. She told me not to because she was going to use as a garbage pail and put the old tissues in it. :-)
12) There's also our
bird restaurant.

Another thing that Billy & I did when we first bought this house was start composting. We really didn't do it very well, got discouraged and then with the adoption process underway, composting was the last thing on our mind. But, I've been giving it a lot of thought again lately. One of the things we'll have to do first is make a bin. I don't want to spend a lot right now because I'm not sure it's going to work (especially with rainly season upon us) or that we'll be able to keep up with it. We might actually start collecting grass clippings now and start in the fall when we can use the fallen leaves as a base.

These are some ideas I found online:

Old Fencing: Take down the fence in sections. These sections can be used to make a great compost bin, ready-made with small space between the slats so your compost can breathe.
Dresser Drawers: Take an old dresser / bureau. Knock out the bottom of each drawer. With a few 2x4's you can attach the drawers together to make a small compost bin. Detach the top of the dresser and attach to the top of your bin with hinges at the back for easy accessibility.
The simplest compost bin container - 4 sticks of wood in the ground, Wire or plastic netting round the sticks, lined with cardboard.

If I remember anything else, I'll post it. :-)

**edited to add this link**
Reuse it from HGTV

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Day Eighty

Take a look at the 2nd Country Fair Homeschool Carnival.
(A carnival is a collection of blog posts on a specific topic.)
You'll find my two part post on my thoughts about the book, Guerilla Learning and how it relates to my kids.

Business week article

From Business Week
FEBRUARY 20, 2006
Meet My Teachers: Mom And Dad

A growing number of affluent parents think they can do better than any school

Slater Aldrich doesn't attend any of the top-shelf public or private schools near his family's Madison (Conn.) home, not even his mother's alma mater, the $18,000-a-year Country School. Instead, the 11-year-old spends his days playing the role of town zoning officer, researching the pros and cons of granting approval to a new Wal-Mart (WMT ). Other endeavors include pretending he's a Sand Hill Road venture capitalist, creating Excel-studded business plans for a backyard sheep company, and growing his own organic food. "It's kind of like living on a white-collar farm," says his dad, Clark Aldrich. Aldrich vowed he'd never put his kid through the eye-glazing lectures he endured in school, even at prestigious institutions like Lawrence Academy and Brown University.

Like a growing number of creative-class parents, the Aldriches homeschool Slater, splitting the duties. (Aldrich père, who co-founded interactive learning company SimuLearn, handles math and science; his wife, Lisa, a stay-at-home mom, does the reading and writing. Slater's friends come over after school and on the weekends for pickup games.)

No longer the bailiwick of religious fundamentalists or neo-hippies looking to go off the cultural grid, homeschooling is a growing trend among the educated elite. More parents believe that even the best-endowed schools are in an Old Economy death grip in which kids are learning passively when they should be learning actively, especially if they want an edge in the global knowledge economy. "A lot of families are looking at what's happening in public or private school and saying, 'You know what? I could do better, and I'd like to be a bigger part of my kid's life,"' says University of Illinois education professor Christopher Lubienski.

The spread of the post-geographic work style and flex-time economy, in which managers can work at odd hours in any number of locations, is also playing a role. So is the fact that more knowledge workers want to live in more than one place. Homeschooling can untether families from Zip codes and school districts, just as the Internet can de-link kids from classrooms, piping economics tutorials from the Federal Reserve, online tours of Florence's Uffizi Gallery, ornithology seminars from Cornell University, and filmmaking classes from UCLA straight onto laptops and handhelds. Also driving the trend is a new cottage industry of private tutors, cyber communities, online curriculum providers, and parental co-ops. Popular online sites range from the humanities tutor edsitement.neh.gov to the agenda-free lifeofflorida.org. "It would have been impossible to homeschool like this 20 years ago," says Richard Florida, author of The Flight of the Creative Class.

The Internet is a chief resource that's powering homeschooling's growth, from 850,000 children in 1999 to more than 1.1 million today, according to the U.S. Education Dept. The popular perception is that people homeschool for religious reasons. But the No. 1 motivation, research shows, is concern about school environments, including negative peer pressure, safety, and drugs. In some circles homeschooling is even attaining a reputation as a secret weapon for Ivy League admission.

Homeschooling is also more prominent in the popular culture, which is helping to de-stigmatize the choice and lend it some cachet among kids and their parents. The near-perfect SAT-scoring Scot, a contestant on last year's ABC (DIS ) reality show The Scholar, was homeschooled. Home-learners have long swept the national spelling and geography bees. This year the $100,000 prize awarded by the famed Siemens Westinghouse Competition went to homeschooled 16-year-old mathematician Michael Viscardi.

Viscardi's neuroscientist mother and engineer father pulled him out of the tony, oxford-and-shorts private school St. Mark's in Dallas because administrators wouldn't accelerate Viscardi in math, even though he was doing high school-level work in the fourth grade. Michael's mother, Eunjee Viscardi, says Michael initiated most of his own learning. The challenge was dealing with her fears that she was ruining his life by isolating him, something he countered with heavy involvement in the community youth orchestra. "It was nerve-racking because we're all brainwashed to believe that our children have to be in school," she says. Those concerns have since faded; Michael is set to enter Harvard University this fall.

One popular critique of conventional education likens it to a mass-production institution that is failing to adapt. Schools, critics say, are like old industrial assembly lines, churning out conformists who could function well in rote factory jobs or rigid corporate hierarchies but not in New Economy professions that demand innovation and independent thinking. Indeed, the Education Dept. states in a report that the most promising learning developments, such as e-learning and virtual schools, are occurring outside the system. "Almost everyone is thinking about how schools aren't the right institutions anymore," says Florida.

Homeschooling isn't universally applauded as a solution, however. Some parents and educators worry that it retards children's socialization. Others say it siphons much-needed resources like per-pupil funding and the activism of the most savvy parents. Schooling in isolation could threaten civic cohesion and diversity of thought, says Stanford University education professor Rob Reich. Reich favors stricter homeschooling regulations to supplant the current patchwork of state laws so that children can be assured of exposure to more than just what their parents sanction. He also worries about parents pushing homeschooling on their kids.

But in some cases it's not the parents who are doing the pushing. Lynne Miles-Morillo, a mother of three, taught herself Russian in high school so she could read Dostoevsky in the original. ("It's totally different, you wouldn't believe.") She graduated from Bryn Mawr College and married Robert, a Harvard-educated Rhodes scholar who is now a history professor at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. A year ago, Miles-Morillo's oldest son begged her to homeschool him. He was bored in class and didn't share the conservative views of most of the other kids. She agreed to try it out on her two older children, and if they didn't all hate one another by the end of the month, they could continue. "I don't have that inner Buddha inside of me," says Miles-Morillo.

What surprised her was how lovely it was for the family to create its own educational rituals. The biggest misnomer is the word home since the family travels all over, from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington to Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry to the world's most active volcano in Hawaii. Morillo's fear was that homeschooling would make her kids' world smaller. But instead, she says, "it's opening it up more."

By Michelle Conlin

Day Seventy Eight

I just installed a tracker about 5 days ago. I did it basically to see how people are finding this blog and I have one on my adoption website also. The really cool thing (at least my kids & I think it's cool!) is that it shows what countries the visitors are from.
Here's the lastest stats. It shows how many individual people visit from each country.

United States: 438
Canada: 21
France: 20
Australia: 9
United Kingdom: 7
Germany: 3
Luxembourg: 2
Malaysia: 2
Austria: 1
South Africa: 1
Iceland: 1
Singapore: 1
New Zealand: 1
Spain: 1
India: 1
Norway: 1
Guatemala: 1
Philippines: 1
Greece: 1

I love the power of the 'net. How else would someone from South Africa be able to read about the life of someone in the USA? :-)


Day Seventy Six

The 19th Carnival of Homeschooling is up and ready. Check it out!
Why Homeschool: Carnival of Homeschooling Week 19
My "School Labels" post is in there this week.

Please note: There is a post in this weeks carnival that speaks against a Califonia bill, which is an anti discrimination bill. This post does not reflect my opinion.
On that end, I'd like to share with you, two of my favorite gay quotes:

"Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?" - Ernest Gaines

"Protect marriage? Puhlease. With a 50 percent divorce rate, rampant domestic violence, Las Vegas drive-through chapels, and I wanna-marry-a-really-rich-guy reality TV shows, there's no way gays could trash marriage the way straight people have." - Good Times, Santa Cruz County News

I will continue to take part in the Carnival of Homeschooling (except when it's hosted at HSB) and I think Henry & Janine do a great job putting this together, I know it's time consuming. Should they have let this post in? You be the judge of that. I'm not sure , but I want to make sure that people like Doc have their voice heard too.

Also, there's a new homeschooling carnival in town. Take a look at The Country Fair and submit your homeschooling blog post.


Our Question Book

My kids, especially my seven year old, have a lot they want to know. Sometimes they ask me at a time when I can't get to the answer (like we're in the car) and sometimes I just don't know the answer.
What we decided to do was start a "Question Book". It's a spiral notebook, left out in the open for easy access. When they have a question, they write it down and leave room for the answer. It has helped us out a lot because sometimes they ask questions when we're not near the computer, the library or someone who knows the answer and then we forget.

Some of the unanswered questions we have in there right now are:
Why do bananas grow in bunches?
Where does dust come from?
What makes the weather hot or cold?
How does cantalope grow?

Anybody know?

Butterfly Garden

We have such beautiful butterflies near us and I've been wanting to create a butterfly garden for a while but haven't been able to make the time to, not only start it, but maintain it. I've started slowly this past month.

So far, I've been able to create several permanent puddles for them to drink from because they cannot drink from open or deep water. I sunk three plastic containers in the dirt and filled them with small rocks (I've read sand is good but I didn't have any) and water. The rocks give them a place to perch while they drink. I also have a tea cup saucer filled with small rocks, pebbles and water. I've read that they like stale beer or sweet drinks and overripe fruit, allowed to sit for a few days. Also someone suggested mushing a banana a little, poking a few holes, pouring in a little watermelon Gatorade and putting it in a hanging bird feeder.

One of the reasons I started with the puddles first is that when we had the pool screened in, it cut off the butterflies from being able to drink from the poolside puddles, which they would do often. I felt bad that I took that away from them so as soon as I started seeing them come back this year, I got to work. I have a picture from last year, of a butterfly drinking by our pool...as soon as I scan it, I'll post it here.

I haven't been able to plant anything for them yet. Both times I went shopping, they were out of the plants I wanted. I came across this list of Florida plants and I printed it out and took it with me to the store. I'm going to try and put most of the plants in a hanging basket, in full sun instead of in the ground.

Adult nectar sources (N) - attract and nourish adult butterflies.
Larval host plants (H) - food source for developing larvae.

•Cape Sable Whiteweed, Ageratum iittoraie N
•Climbing Aster, Aster carolinianus N
•Browne's Blechum, Blechum pyramidatum H
•False Nettle, Boehmeria cylindrica H
•American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana N
•Partridge Pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata H
•Florida Fiddlewood, Citharexylum spinosum N
•Blue Mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum N
•Curacao Bush, Cordia globosa H
•Golden Dewdrops, Duranta erecta N
•Coastal Mock Vervain, Glandularia maritima N
•Firebush, Hamelia patens N
•Railroad Vine, Ipomoea pes-caprae N
•Shrub Verbena, Lantana depressa N
•Buttonsage, Lantana involucrata N
•Southern Bayberry (Wax Myrtle), Myrica cerifera H
•Corkystemed Passionflower, Passiflora suberasa H
•Pentas, Pentas lanceolata N
•Red Bay, Persea borbonia H
•Florida Keys Blackbead, Pitheceliobium keyense H
•Doctorbush (White Plumbago), P1umbago scandens N
•Wild Coffee, Psychotria nervosa N
•Live Oak, Quercus virginiana H
•White Indigoberry, Randia aculeata H
•Fogfruit (Capeweed), Rhyla nodiflora N
•Cabbage Palm (Sabal Palm), Sabal palmatto N
•Privet Wild Sensitive Plant, Senna ligustrina H
•Chapman's Wild Sensitive Plant, Senna mexicana H
•Yellow Necklacepod, Sophora tomentosa H
•Nettleleaf Velvetberry (Porterweed), Stachytarpheta urticifolia N
•Wild Lime, Zanthoxylum fagara H

Typical Unschooling Day

Here's what a typical day of unschooling, this time of year, looks like for us. We usually call it by it's other name...living our lives.

Cimion gets up at 6:00 with my husband, has breakfast (usually a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, a banana and yogurt) and hangs out with him bwfore he leaves for work. He'll then go into his room and read or play with his legos or Yu-Gi-Oh cards.
I get up at 8:00, wake up Shawna, make a cup of tea and go online for a while. At this point, Cimion is washing up and getting dressed and Shawna is having breakfast (usually simular to what Cimion had or cereal). They each have a set morning routine that they do which includes exercises and some work around the house or yard. I usually get Jacqueline at about 9:00, sometimes Mini (our dog) will decide she needs to get up earlier and go wake her up. :-) Jacqueline & I usually end up having breakfast together. She likes to have a bagel with cream cheese or cinnamon raisin bread. I feed Mini and
Buddie, our iguana.

After that, Jacqueline & I go for a walk...I walk and she rides her bike. We go for about a mile and it takes about 20 minutes.
Being it's starting to get very hot here during the afternoon, we try and do our errands and appointments in the morning, so sometimes we'll have a doctors appointment to go to or we'll do some food shopping. Other times we'll go to the library or thrift store shopping. If it's a Saturday, Cimion goes to his Yu-Gi-Oh duel league, which he loves!

Lunch usually takes place between 11:30-12:30...with Cimion usually eating first because he's up the longest and hungry at this point. They just had eggplant parmesean sandwiches for the first time the other day. My mom made it and they really liked it. Speaking of first time foods, the other day when we went food shopping, Shawna wanted to try a mango and a grapefruit so we bought one of each. All three had the mango (and liked it). Actually, it was four of them because Buddie had some also. Only the girls had the graefruit (and liked it). Cimion didn't like the smell. We do a lot of pasta for lunch, a lot of different ways. We've been on a garlic cheese bread kick lately so we have that with whatever pasta we're having.

Afternoon in Florida in May = POOL!
When we bought our house, it was a little smaller than we wanted but the inground pool really sold us on it. It's kinda like a kidney shape and is 10,000 gallons so it's perfect for them. They've been in the pool more and more each day as it gets hotter and hotter here. It's been in the high 80's most days. They just took some of their money and bought pool toys. They all do awesome cannonballs and Billy is helping Jacqueline learn how to dive.

They usually go back and forth between the pool, playset and trampoline (14' with a net). We have one of the
Rainbow playsets and the kids love it. The initial one was a Christmas gift from my mother and each year she buys them the next extension for it.

On Thursday afternoons we get together with our
homeschool group, on Tuesday afternoons, Shawna & Cimion just finished a 3 month long storytelling club (how to tell stories) and on Saturday Cimion has a Yu-Gi-Oh duel league that he attends. Lately in the afternoons, Jacqueline has been bringing a movie and some snacks to my mothers house (she lives next door) and hanging out with her. It makes me so happy to see the two of them together and having fun. :-)

We usually eat dinner between 5:30-6:00. If I'm making it, it's always something fast and as easy as opening a can or popping something into the microwave unless Billy is home on time and makes something (he just made stew in the crockpot). I tend to put more time and effort into lunch than dinnner because mentally, I have more energy in the afternoon.

Some evenings Jacqueline has Brownies, which will be ending soon for the summer. She just finished her jazz class and she wants to try karate in the fall instead.

After dinner, they shower and we have some down time. They each like to read so they'll go to their rooms, get comfy and read. Jacqueline sometimes works on her second story.
Here's her first one. Cimion will sometimes play with his legos and Shawna will always read.

Billy & I usually go into the jacuzzi and reconnect after the day apart or we'll watch a movie. Cimion is usually in bed earlier than the other two because he's been up from 6:00 AM.

That's basically a typical day here lately. It's been very relaxed and laid back, which I love because last year so was crazy and full of running around.


Day Seventy Two

Some happenings at our home...

Shawna participated in a storytelling concert last week, which was the end of a three month long storytelling club at the library.
Each child (there were six of them) picked their own story and each week they would work on being able to tell it from memory, using facial and body language, etc.
Shawna told her story, The Boy Who Sold the Butter, in front of 30-35 adults and children....an a stage, with a microphone...by memory.
After she was finished, my husband turned to me and said "She's shining up there." And she was. :-)

This, coming from a child that *truly* did not start to live her life until we took her out of school and out of therapy (speech, occupational, physical and mental health) a year after we adopted her. Shawna had always been,...facially expressionless is the best way I can describe it. I was questioned about it several times actually, by teachers and therapists. After a while though, I started noticing that when she read outloud to someone, she came alive and became the character! It was so unlike her. When I saw the sign for the storytelling club, I thought this would be something Shawna would enjoy.
She was so awesome! She got up on the stage like she owned it and was full of confidence. I'll post a few pictures here when I develop the film. :-)

Last night, my husband & Cimon went to Ocala Speedway for the Monster Truck Jam. Billy didn't tell him about it until he came home from work and Cimion was sp psyched to go!! :-) They also went with two of our friends, Chris & his son Lance. Lance was Cimions foster brother and as luck would have it, the family who adopted him live near us and we've become friends over the last couple of years. The boys (all four of them) had a great time and went out to eat afterwards. :-)

Today is my husband's 41st birthday. :-) I met him when he was 23. The kids chipped in and bought him a nascar wall clock shaped like a tire. It's really cute! He's going to either put it in his work shed or his office at his job.
They also got him a book called "My Dad, My Hero: Thought on Fatherhood". They each wrote down their definition of a hero on an index card. On the other side they wrote why their dad is their hero. We punched a hole in the corner of all the cards and tied a ribbon through it to use as a bookmark. I got him a magnetic poker game. It goes on the fridge and they actually have a whole line of these types of games. I thought it would be something fun for him. I also invited my mother, aunt Mary and cousin Maryanne came over for pizza and birthday cake.

Life is good. :-)

FYI sidenote: Mary Griffith, who wrote one of my favorite unschooling books, The Unschooling Handbook, started a new blog here. I love reading her book whenever I feel some cobwebs starting to form in my brain. It always helps. :-)


list of activites

While reading one of my favorite unschooling e-mail lists, I came across a great list of activites that one of the members shared. I asked Angela if I could post it here and she graciously agreed. :-) I think it's a fantastic list for when your children are looking for something different to do.

We've tried a few of them before, like the time capsule, which I posted about here. I really like the first idea!

Angela's List:

Play mailman - At our house we each live in a different room. We use a box or container for our mailbox and we send each other notes, bills, and homemade junk mail.

Listen to books on tape - They are especially great for in the car.

Finger knitting.

Finger crochet.

Plastic canvas and yarn projects .

Hand sewing (felt works well for little ones), make bean bags, rice bags (to heat and sleep with), stuffed animals, doll blankets and pillows, and other doll items.

Read aloud. Ask your friends or email buddies what their favorites are.

Make bubble gum - you can buy gum base on line in a craft kit for under $10 if you look around.

Make silly putty- recipes on-line .

Borax snowflakes- recipes on line.

Blow soap bubbles when it's below zero, they freeze and break when they crash.

Rent a movie.

Go to a museum, children's, state, history, art, etc.

Play store - Price items in your home and use real or play money and take turns being the cashier.

Scavenger hunt - inside or outside, finding the things on your list or find things other have hidden.

Learn to follow a compass and make an Orienteering course to follow to find a treasure.

Bury a time capsule.

Have some friends over for a club with a theme. My kids like Club Survivor or Fear Factor, where they dare each other to eat gross things and win prizes.

Guess the smell...blindfolded

Guess the item (by feel) ...blindfolded.

Ask for a tour of a local business.

Make candles, soap, or candy.

Go for a nature walk and collect rocks and leaves. See if you can identify the trees or leaves.

Visit a local farm and bring the animals a treat. Horses and goats love carrots or apples.

Volunteer at a farm to brush the horses or goats, shovel stalls, etc.

Go skiing, snow shoeing, or sliding.

Go to the beach or go camping. It doesn't have to be 80 degrees out. The beach is beautiful when it is 50 and sunny. The sand is warm and the wind gives you healthy rosy cheeks.

Build a campfire in your yard (might need a permit) and toast marshmallows or make smores.

Play a board game or a card game.

Write a story. Pick a topic and get going...You could have a story night with a different topic each week. Mystery, Horror, Love, Family, Non-fiction, etc.

Make your own newspaper about your family. You can put in pictures too.

Make paper Decorate your house for the next holiday...hearts on the windows, snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, shamrocks, pumpkins, leaves, bats, etc.

Make tissue paper snowflakes.

Make a bank or mask from paper mache'.

Make clay pots with self drying clay.

Paint ornaments or little wooden figures from the craft store.

Paint a picture.

Tie dye your underwear, socks, or t-shirts.

String beads for necklaces or bracelets.

Make necklaces or bracelets out of cotton string.

Paint a clay flower pot with a whimsical motif.

Work with polymer clay, make pins, beads, little figures, or magnets.

Make cards with rubber stamps.

Make a bank from recyclable plastic containers.

Print out coloring pages with your favorite theme and color them.

Buy shrinky dinks, color and shrink them



**source unknown**

All Purpose Bubble Solution:
Description: A good, all-purpose solution for most bubble tricks, experiments and activities.
What You Need:
7 to 10 parts water to 1 part dish detergent (e.g., Dawn)
mix well.

Bouncy Bubble Solution
Description: A fun solution that you can bounce off your clothes.
What You Need:
2 pkg unflavored gelatin (e.g. Knox)
1 L hot water (just boiled)
50 to 70 mL glycerine
50 mL dish detergent
What to Do:
Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water and then add the dish detergent and glycerine.
NOTE: You will need to reheat this mixture whenever you use it, as it will gel. Two to three minutes in a microwave should do it, but keep an eye on it the first time.

Thick Bubble Solution
Description: A very thick, goopy solution that forms bubbles strong enough to withstand a small puff of air. You can blow bubbles inside of bubbles with this mixture and you don't need a straw. Just make a bubble and blow.
What You Need:
2.5 to 3 parts water to 1 part dish detergent
mix well.

A Note About Glycerine
Not all ingredients require the addition of glycerine in order to make good soap solutions. Glycerine helps soap bubbles hold water and this help to keep the bubbles from popping. Try a tablespoon or so for a small batch (we're not exact about it). Glycerine can be purchased at most pharmacies. You won't need much, so don't go buying caseloads.

What You Need:
Drinking straws
Bubble solution (1 part Joy 2® dishwashing liquid to 6 parts water.
Flat surfaces to blow bubbles on (Wet the surface with bubble solution before you blow bubbles on it)
Wet string to measure a bubble's circumference
Wet rulers to measure a bubble's radius

What Would Happen If...
You blew one bubble on the table or desk surface?
You blew two bubbles and made them join?
You made one of these bubbles bigger than the other?
You made the biger bubbles smaller than the one it's joined to?
You blew two bubbles the same size and made them join?
You blew three bubbles the same size and made them join?
You made four or more bubbles join?
You blew one bubble on top of the edge where two bubbles join?
You blew one bubble on top of the point where three bubbles join?

Scads of bubbles joined together tend to make hexagons (six sided figures). Where else are hexagons found in nature? What do you think would be the advantage of this arrangement?
Sometimes you can see beautiful colours in bubbles; where else do you find colours like this?
Can you design a soap solution from which you can get bubbles that will bounce on your sleeve? Does it matter what kind of material your sleeve is made of?


Day Sixty Eight

Some happenings at our home...

Our iguana has taken a liking to pooping in my 10,000 gallon in ground pool! This is a new thing for her and she does it when nobody is looking. Do you believe the nerve of her! LOL!! I'm not sure what the appeal is except that she used to like pooping in the bathtub with the water running, so it must be the water.

This is Buddie, our 10 year old, female iguana. She's was is known as an "Iguana iguana" or "green iguana" This picture was taken last year on vacation at a friends time share. She was on her way into the jacuzzi. What a life!

Another thing that happened a few days ago was someone completely broke off my passenger side mirror while I was food shopping a few days ago. What pissed me off was they just left! I once scratched someone's car a few years ago and I left them a note on their car with my phone number so I could pay for it. Well, like John Lennon says "Instant karma's gonna get you".

Now for a few funnies....

Cimion has passed my husband height-wise...he's about 2-3 inches taller than him now (at 13 years old he's about 5'10"). We fondly call him "shorty" because he's the tallest in the house now. LOL!
Well last night he was giving Billy a hug and kiss goodnight and instead of the usual "Goodnight Dad", Cimion said "Goodnight shorty". LOL!!
Billy didn't think it was as funny as Jacqueline and I did. :-)

But I think the best thing that happened lately was a phone call between Billy & Jacqueline (7 years old). He went next door to my mothers house to hook up her VCR for her. A few minutes later the phone rang and Jacqueline answered it. Hearing Billy's voice on the other end (yes, we're very loud!), I extended my hand for her to give me the phone. She said that he wanted to talk to her. She listened for a while and then I head her say "Do you see where it says component one? That's where it goes". LOL!!!! I almost peed in my pants (actually i think I did), from laughing so hard. So today, he calls up from work and tells me to give the phone to Jacqueline. I asked what he wanted and he said "I want her to set the VCR timer to tape the nascar race at Talledega speedway". :-)

When I was seven, I wasn't even allowed to answer the phone or touch the stereo. :-)