Monday, March 31, 2008

Why can't things just be simple? (Public school/Private school rant)

If you read this blog with any regularity (friend, relative or cyber pal) you know that we have a son with child-onset or Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. His name is Ben. Ben also has significant learning differences and is socially quirky. Ben is 11 but acts more like a boy who is 8 or 9. Ben, when smaller...say 4 ish, before his moods started rapidly cycling around 7, was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, pdd, anxiety, adhd, dyslexia, sleep disorder (which was really just being a wide awake manic little kid until 2am everynight), etc... When he had his first psychotic break (which is a mental disconnect with reality) he was 7 years old. It was the months following this first break that lead to more and more and faster and faster mood cycling that almost landed Ben in a psychiatric hospital because he was suicidal. God saved the day by putting us in touch with a fabulous, one of a kind, psychiatrist: Dr. C. He figured out what was really going on with Ben and we got him on stabilizing meds slowly and gently in order to get him to a place where he could emotional handle any given day. Prior to Dr. C we were dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on an hour to hour basis.

Okay, so that is the back story. Moving forward: after Dr.C we put Ben in a special needs public school. It is a self contained school attached to a regular elementary school. There are good things and bad things about it. Why did we do it? I needed a break. Dr. C doesn't just take care of Ben e, he takes care of the family. No we are not all on meds. It's that he talks with us and helps us works through things. One of those 'things' was my need to have time off from Ben's constant demands.

Ben was in this school for all of 2nd grade. Then they tried to mainstream him into regular 3rd grade. BIG MISTAKE! So, I took him out of school after Christmas. Then he was home until after Christmas of the following year. That December he took a huge nose dive in mood...and we had to add Lithium. Then, because I was on the brink of becoming unglued (because December had emotionally annihilated me too) we sent Ben back to the special needs school for the last half of 4th grade. This year, 5th grade, Ben's been there since the beginning of the year. (BTW, Ben is no where near actual grade level, but chronologically they put him tin 5th grade, he only has 6 kids in his class of varying ages, ablitlites and levels of progress). Can I say that I really Hate so much about the public school and school in general? Well, I am going to, because I do.

The things I am sooooo angry about:

1)that even though Ben has an IEP that states he can come to school an hour late, and not have it counted as tardy, due to sleep issues, I STILL get letters from the school board saying Ben has too many tardies and social services may be called. Gimme a break.

2) that even though I am Ben's mother, I am treated like one who doesn't know my son, oh but they do. Everything I bring up is questioned and I am treated with disrespect and disdain. The very strong feeling is that 'they' know Ben and 'I' don't. After all, they have him most of the day. I should bow to their expertise. Well all I can say is: *#^%^(&@((^%&#@)_*)#(&#&$*@@()@_!!!!!

3) that if I want to keep Ben home for some really fun homeschooling outing that has come up, I have to lie and tell them that Ben was sick or else it is counted against him and again, I would be threatened by a visit from social services. And that I am treated like dogsh*t when I come to pick Ben up from school, because they would rather him always take the bus. That's one of the reasons I get crap about him being late...because they want him on the bus in the AM too. Forget it. He has better things to do in the morning (like sleep) than ride around on a bus for half an hour.

4) that Ben's class of kids are treated like trained dogs. They are given point values for every hour which tally up for the day and then the week. At the end of the week he gets a prize. He is so into this that he has come to expect this kind of treatment at home and I don't like it! I want him to be good for goodness' sake, not because of some cheap-made-in-China-by=Christian-Prisoners-dollar-store-piece-of-crap-toy!

5) that even though they are better than the average public school classroom (I admit) they *still* with all the money and special services they are given, helped Ben to read beyond what he was taught by a really wonderful reading tutor last year. She worked with him 1x a week for several months. School has him everyday! (There's proof for all homeschoolers out there who think schools teach kids to read...bullsh*t!)

The good things:
1) that Ben has only 5 other kids in his class
2) that there are 2 teachers for the 5 kids
3) that they agreed in the IEP not to give him homework (they send it home, tho, and I throw it out.)
4) it has helped Ben to see that he can leave me and he will be alright
5) that they go on a field trip several times 'per month'

My beef is not with the teachers. They seem very dedicated to these kids. It's the school system, the administrators who don't see the forest for the trees. It's No Child Left Behind. It's the mindlessness of so much of what they do.

Here is a great example: Ben told me the other day to send him with extra snacks because it was too hard to buy 2 lunches (Iet him get 2 lunches on somedays because he doesn't like to eat in the morning). Well, a new rule was started that if you get up you lose points (remember those Friday prizes?). But, he can't grab 2 items each per 1 lunch tray, so he *has* to get up to get a 2nd lunch, yet his still gets penalized for it. So, Ben, who is an ANGEL at school (he saves the Demon side for me) stays hungry and won't get up so as not to lose his points. What the....ugh!

Oh, I gotta tell you this. When Ben was mainstreamed we sent Autumn to the same school for Kindergarten to help Ben with his transitions. Autumn thought Kindergarten was fun (who wouldn't) so I wasn't really worried about her. However, since that school was across the street, I would go over often and have lunch with the kids. They went back to back, so I would come for Autumn and stay for Ben. Well, because Autumn was 5 and a half, at the time, I would sit her on my lap while we ate lunch. A NOTE WAS SENT HOME, FROM THE PRINCIPAL, SAYING I COULD NOT PUT MY OWN DAUGHTER ON MY LAP BECAUSE I WOULD MAKE THE OTHER KIDS FEEL BAD WHOSE PARENTS DIDN'T VISIT FOR LUNCH!!!!! Can you believe that!?! BTW, I still would put her on my lap.

However, when we pulled Ben out of that regular school (because it was just too much for him) we took Autumn out too...never to return....thank God. Here I was thinking I would be focusing my time on Ben, and Autumn would have fun in Kindergarten (our intention was to bring her back home for 1st grade), but she dealt with a bunch of garbage too. She once came home with a 'red' note, which is supposed to be really bad. I called and spoke with her teacher and it was because she screamed (with joy, mind you) over how cute one of her classmates was, while they were in the bathroom. Sheer stupidity!

Okay back to Ben's story:
This whole time we were thinking that Ben could finally come back home for 6th grade and up. However, Georgia passed SB10 (senate bill 10) that gives the parents of children, who have an IEP in place while attending a public school (for 1 whole school year), the equivalent funds it cost to teach, said child, to put toward a private school which has been approved to take the funds or to send, said child, to another public school, outside their home district, that may have more fitting programs for, said child's, IEP.

According to the administrators at Ben's school, Ben, because he is in a self-contained special needs school, would get the maximum amount of funds. That is cool, right? Yeah. On the surface.
But now it sets up a whole'nother set of complications. The first was fairly easy to surmount. It was finding the right private school. There happens to be, not 3 miles from here, a private school for kids like Ben. We applied, he got in to the tune of 18K! (choke, sputter, cough, hack!) But wait, we have this SB10 voucher to apply and then we have a special needs kids benefit program through my husband's job which covers a percentage as well. After that assistance has been caculated, we are probably looking at 3K out of pocket. Not too bad! Of course the paperwork for all of this sucks. However, with the exception of being able to play video games or watch TV, this school he'll be going to won't be a whole lot different from being home.

They don't pressure kids academically. They say their goal is to keep their students' self-esteem and self-respect in tact. The whole student body is made up of kids who don't learn the same, or as fast, as typical school kids. Most of the kids in this school are probably one or more of the following: ADD/ADHD, NVLD, Aspergers, Bipolar, Dyslexic, LD etc... I think ADD/ADHD is the #1 "issue" of the majority of the kids there. Ben will be in perfect company.

The reason none of this is sitting well with me, is because I kinda wish there was no voucher program. I feel like we would never have considered any of this stuff and Ben would have just stayed home. I am sick of school...sick of it. I can't wait for Andrew to be done with high school. And, as I have said before, I am hoping against hope that Autumn and Ben won't want to go to high school (private or otherwise). I hate the restrictions. I hate the hoops to jump through. I hate not having freedom. But, my dh, doesn't really agree that Ben should be unschooled.

That leads me to the question: is unschooling just for those who fall within some kind of 'normal/neurotypical' range? Ben is not *that* different from 'normal'. But he is very obsessive. More than the average person. He is the type who doesn't do well with self-limiting. But this little part of me says, "Why can't he be home and unschooled?" "Why can't we see what would happen?" Of course, my dh would say, "We can't because if we do, Ben loses the SB10 voucher." The irony here is killing me. The school system is using my tax money right now to educate (Yeah, Right!) Ben. However, they (the school system) is now willing to give me the 'choice' to find Ben a more appropriate education outside their system (because it SUCKS so badly and they know it) by giving me back my tax money in order to use it where it will best serve Ben. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I can't used my own tax money, in the form of a voucher, to homeschool Ben, he's got to go to 'a' school. Either a better public school (as deemed by us, his parents) or a private school that takes the voucher. So, my choice and my money are STILL not really my choice or my money. I am STILL being told what my choice has to be (a school) and I am being told that my money really still belongs to the school system and they'll give it to me if I play by their rules. IT SUCKS!!!

I mean, with the money I would get from the voucher, I could probably find a homeschooling teenager to come and hang out with Ben a couple times a week and give me the break I need from Ben without him having to be shipped to school. Autumn would then have her brother back, and though they do fight like Israel and Palestine, she does talk about missing him during the day. I would rather use that money to put Ben into neato classes he'd like to try.

I am so frustrated about all this stuff. I don't even know if there are any answers or what they are? I have prayed until my head hurts over all this stuff, yet God seems silent or hard to understand. Anyway, I have to go. I have been working on this post in bursts over the course of a day. You know 5 minutes here and there.

It just seems that when it comes to Ben NOTHING is ever simple. I have an idea how I want our family to be able to live it's life, but because of Ben's issues, it seems the world is never going to let us.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Michael Johns-Light My Fire

Carly Smithson - Come Together

Brooke White - Let It be

Jason Castro-Halleluja

My Hunny's really neat post...

...about being a husband...and there is alot of wonderful stuff about me in there (if I do say so myself).  Everything he says is exactly right.  And I think it shows what a thoughtful, loving, Catholic husband he is.  And that he really takes his vocation as a husband seriously.  Lucky me!  I was laughing hystercially when I finished reading it, because there were some hysterical and dead on descriptions of me, but I also felt very loved AND very blessed that God has given me such a wonderful man to share my life with. 


The perfect description for my Blog's new name

Melissa Wiley describes below, in the bolded post, how following trains of thought as one connects to the other leads us to all sorts of learning.  It is EXACTLY how I learn, and how I encourage my kids to learn.  I can't think of a better way to explain why I renamed this blog Chasing Butterflies.  Because that is what I do.  I start after a butterfly, then I am stopped by a flower, which makes me think of a novel, which reminds me of an author, which makes me think of a country, which makes me think of a trip, which makes me go home and google plane tickets, which reminds me of a friend in a different state, which makes me google that state's information and then I end up reading all about say...Colorado...when what I originally started to do was try and catch a butterfly...who...let's face better off in the woods.   Is it any wonder why I love all those If You Give A Moose A Muffin type books!

"You know how I love to write posts about all the connections my kids made today, the rabbit trails we followed? You can do that for yourself too–not just for your kids, I mean. Thinking about trains of thought, how you started out looking for a light bulb and that made you think of Thomas Edison, which made you think of the Edison bit in the Schoolhouse Rock song, “Mother Necessity,” and the “Orville! Wilbur!” part of that song reminded you of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which reminds you of that time you went to Blowing Rock, NC, where you heard the legend about the Indian maiden and her sweetheart, how did that go, again? And next thing you know you’ve spent half an hour reading about Native American folklore of the Appalachians on the internet, and you never did get around to changing that light bulb."~Melissa Wiley~

Another good blog buddy, Wendy, has also referred to this 'rabbit trail', 'chasing butterflies' type of learning as Attention Compulsive Disorder.  I *LOVE* that!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Warrior Cats

So, in my never ending quest to find novels to read aloud to Autumn, we finally found something really cool. It's a whole series of books called Warriors. This website will tell you all you need to know. At first, I passed on it, because Autumns was given one of the books. However, it was smack in the middle of the series (we didn't know that) and we didn't know what was going on. Two nights ago she was telling me how her bff , Morgan, was telling her about the story, when they last visited. So, Tum and I looked it up on Amazon and realized, if we were going to get into this story, we'd better start from the beginning.

Today I have read the first 4 chapters to Autumn and it is great. The reviews at Amazon gave all the books in the series, so far, 5 stars. What we love is that it is about cats. It's reminiscent of Watership Down, except it's about cats. Well, we LOVE cats. So, we are really enjoying this book. Of course, I love reading to Autumn, but my prayer is that someday she will take off reading on her own. I figure if I keep reading to her, eventually it will happen. Clearly, she already loves that is just fine with me.


Unscripted has changed to Chasing Butterflies

My husband, Robert, always tell me not to 'chase butterflies'. It's because I get interested in one thing that leads to another thing that leads to get it. So, I was thinking that after all the talk over at Melissa Wileys blog, that Chasing Butterflies was just *the* perfect title for my blog. So, there you have it.

Now...if I could just find my net...


No one's here, they're are all at Melissa's, and so am I!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Melissa Wiley's Sheer Brilliance!

The following post, in bold, is a post in the comments section of Melissa Wiley's amazingly wonderful blog. I am reprinting one of her comments to her own post because I know some friends and relatives of mine would probably never make it over to Melissa's blog.  What Lissa has written below has so perfectly captured the mindset of many a homeschooling mom. I think it's important for those close to me to know that this very same "GOT it" moment, which Melissa writes about, is something I have finally found my way through as well, but she put it into words...perfectly!     (Note: the term CM is referring to a homeschooling method called Charlotte Mason.  However, one could substitute any other method/philosophy here, for example, Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, Traditional Pre-Packaged Curriculum etc...)

Oh, and after this on/off again marathon day of posting, I am taking a break. I'll check back in a few days. 

~ Rachel

Melissa Wiley wrote:

But I’ve been (for months, really–you can see it in Lilting House posts from last spring and summer) pondering deeply WHY I have, always, in the past, inevitably drifted back into a CM mindset at certain times of the year. Why such a strong pull in two opposite directions, with CM on one side and unschooling on the other?

And I suddenly GOT it. But let me just say here that I’m speaking for myself only, about my experience, and not making a sweeping statement to apply to everyone, everywhere.

What I have grasped is that the Charlotte Mason ideal appeals to the schoolgirl *I was*. It’s the kind of school experience I wish I had had, the kind I yearned to have without knowing how to articulate it, back when I was having an entirely different kind of school experience.

In high school, I wrote a big long story all about Plumfield, Mrs. Jo’s school from Little Men. I went through some kind of time warp and wound up at Plumfield and went to school there. And as an adult reading CM’s work, I found Plumfield again. In those descriptions of happy, busy mornings spent with great books and nature study and poetry and art and music and all the things I love best, and long afternoons free for personal interests, I found a vision of school as I would have loved it, myself. IThe schoolgirl inside me leaps at the prospect of that kind of school life.

But the mother in me, the grownup Lissa watching her own kids learn and grow and live, sees something beyond the ideal *school* experience. Unschooling is outside school, bigger than school. It doesn’t need to be the ideal best-possible version of school. It is something broader, richer, more rife with possibilities. And so I think, if I am reading my heart correctly, that my movement between two ideologies (and it has been almost completely a very happy process, this seasonal shifting–everything I have blogged is absolutely true; my children and I have had great fun with our tidal learning lifestyle, though of course we have foundered sometimes and I’ve swallowed a fair amount of water in my day)–I was saying, my attraction to both CM and unschooling has to do with the two parts of me: the schoolgirl I was, and the mother I am.

The mother is the stronger part of me, and she reads her children well, and places a high priority on their joyfulness. And I think–though it feels like going out on a limb to say it, and I certainly mean no disrespect or implied criticism of those friends for whom the CM philosophy is more than a means of offering balm to the soul of an inner schoolgirl–I think that having identified the source of the attraction to that ideology, I am now able to let it go. My inner schoolgirl is satisfied. Here, in this house, we’re doing something that is other than school.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I give up!

My paying Autumn to read has been a miserable failure.  Well, maybe not.  Some would say it failed because she decided after making about 15 bucks that she was done and showed no further interest in pursuing reading on her own.  Remember,  I never pressured her to read.  I just set a mutually agreed upon amount to a mutually agreed upon series of books,  after asking her if she was even willing to undertake this task in the first place.  So, Alfie Kohn might say it was a success because it absolutely demonstrated that unless one is intrinsically motivated,  they are going to lose interest in whatever it is they are doing, no matter the 'reward'.  The fact that she had some serious coin to make, but lost interest after about a week is quite telling.  The kid likes money.  Apparently, though,  money doesn't mean as much to her as I thought (and I really *love* that!).  Below is an excerpt from Sandra Dodd's website. It was a gentle smack in my face as to what I wasn't letting happen.  Read on and you'll see.  Therefore,  for Autumn's sake, I am giving up and letting her come to reading in her own good time.


The Deeper Effect of a Child Learning to Read: Confidence

a Mom in a discussion online: A homeschooling friend has shared that she feels we need to teach the basics then unschool them.

Joyce Fetteroll:Your friend is wrong. If she's never experienced a child who learned to read or do math without instruction then of course she's not going to be able to imagine it's possible.

Sandra Dodd: If what the friend is imagining is that a child who reads will then acquire all the other knowledge on her own, that's not the worst vision in the world If what the friend is hoping is the child will get past the point that the mom worries about getting in trouble or failing entirely, I can understand her reasoning.

If she REALLY wants to unschool, though, it will help her immensely to see how many ways children can learn without reading. And it will help the children immensely to have the deep confidence that they can learn without instruction. Any child who has learned to read without "being taught" (and I have three of them) cannot doubt that he can learn other things without finding a teacher and following a prescribed course.

Holly takes fiddle lessons. In the course of a month she has private, paired and group sessions. She really likes that. She shows me what she learns and I play with her at home. I found her some songs and a book and she goes outside of just what the teacher has assigned. Many music students don't. School-trained, or just lacking courage and joy, they will only play what the teacher "makes" them play, or what the teacher tells them they can play, without thought to the idea of figuring out that through experimentation and analysis, they can figure out themselves what other songs might be within their range of ability.

Kirby studies karate at a dojo where he's gone for seven years. He's part of a longterm group, there are many adults there who have watched his progress all those years, and once a week he teaches a class of younger children. So although there is a prescribed course, there are several different aspects and there is flexibility to the learning and activities he's involved in there.

Had I just taught my kids to read and THEN unschooled, they would not be the calmly confident people they are today. They might be saying "Okay, mom, time to teach me division" or "Mom, you didn't teach me to spell yet." Instead of that, I help them learn whatever is in front of them.

Sandra Dodd
April 2003

Somebody asked Rosie, yesterday, who taught her to read. I was there, listening. She hemmed and hawed a little - then said, brightly, "My own BRAIN taught me to read." As if that answered it. The other kid (one of her girl scout friends) was questioning her about homeschooling, not looking for THAT kind of answer at all...but Rosie couldn't figure out any other way to answer the question. I helped out by stepping in and saying, "She means she taught herself."

Pam Sorooshian
September 2003

Our "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" kinda day

I realize I rarely write about what Autumn and I do.  Today was kind of a fun day for us and is a good example of how things unfold for us.  If you have read:  If You Give A Moose A Muffin,  If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, or If You Give A Pig A Pancake,  you will see the similarity.

We got up and I made coffee and cleaned the kitchen while she watched a new CGI version of Winnie-the Pooh. 
Then we watched some Rugrats and I blogged about my patroness (see below post).

Afterward, we switched the TV to Animal Planet and colored a picture from her St. Therese coloring book.  It contains really pretty pictures (not goofy cartoony looking things).  We were using colored pencils and practicing shading in different ways.  We talked about today being my Patroness' Feast Day, so I told Autumn a little about Margaret Clitherow.  Autumn wanted to know when she would get to have a patron saint and I told her she picks one, officially, at confirmation (because there is nothing stopping her from having one now).  So she told me she was picking Therese the Little Flower.  I told her it was a great choice.  She asked if it was okay for more than one person to have the same saint.  I told her it was okay.  Then I read her a Max & Ruby book , at her request. 

After watching the very sad, yet interesting, vet interns show on Animal Planet, we turned off the TV and rough housed a bit.  Autumn is really enjoying being held tightly and trying to escape.  I remember Andrew and Ben loving this too. (So, did I as a kid).  Then that morphed into us dancing around the house and Autumn being spun around (feet off the floor) in our only-bookcases-no-furniture-room.  After that, I spotted the Mary Memory card game I bought from CHC long ago.  So, we played it Go Fish style and talked about the different pictures of Mary and what some of them meant.  Then we played it Memory style.  Of course, Autumn won both times.  When she won the second time,  I asked her to give me 'five' and she kept missing a solid smack to my palms.  So, we started playing Miss Mary Mack and Brown Sugar Apple Sauce.  We were laughing hysterically, because I was trying to teach Autumn the back of the hand smack then turn and smack palms, then clap.  She kept screwing it up and saying , "Again again!"  We finally got it down.

Andrew and Ben has half days at school, so during our dancing around the house,  Ben came in,  said nary a word, and went down to play Halo 3 on Xbox 360 online.  Shortly after that,  Andrew and Eric (the lead guitarist in their band, Iconoclast) came home.  Andrew grabbed the keys to my van to pick up the rest of the band,  and Autumn and I headed outside (because it is beautiful today) to blow bubbles.  She and Ben got a bunch of bottles of bubbles in their Easter Baskets.   

So, we were out blowing bubbles for a bit and then noticed the kitties watching us.  So, we went into the house and started blowing bubbles at the cats.  They were intrigued and a little scared.  Well, we just kept doing it and then realized we were getting soap everywhere, but that it was okay because the floor really needed mopping.

That's when I decided to look for the camera, so I could get a few shots of Autumn blowing bubbles, all over the kitchen, at the cats.  I couldn't find it.  But I saw my iMac and thought, "Blog about this now before you forget."  So that is what I am doing.  And while I am doing this,  Autumn just yelled up and asked if I would pay her a couple of bucks if she mopped the kitchen and breakfast room floor (which is soapy).  I said, "Sure!"  So, now she is downstairs mopping and,  I have noticed,  that she went above and beyond what I asked and had mopped the entire downstairs.  How cool is that?

Well,  I need to get back to my day with my kidlets.  Just wanted to share a little bit of our lives.


P.S.  I just gotta add that Iconoclast is down in the basement practicing.  You can hear them all over the house though  the distance between floors dampens their sound a bit.  They are *really* good.  Andy's first band was more Indie-Pop kinda Killers-ish,  but this new band is more atmospheric Interpol/Radiohead-ish.  Anyway,  Andrew is not only the drummer, but the lead singer now.  His voice has a really cool low whispery quality to it.  It's kind of (for those in the know) Sisters of Mercy meets Coldplay meets Interpol.  It jazzes me to no end what a neat kid he is.

My Patron Saint's Feast Day!

I picked the following woman to be my Patroness because she is English (I am of English descent), she was a Protestant who converted to Catholicism (me too), she had two sons and a daughter (same here) and she was passionate about her Catholic faith (guilty as charged). I love that she didn't back down in what she believed and I like to believe I am becoming more and more like her each passing day. Here's to you, Mags!

(St. Margaret of York)
Feast Day: March 26th

St. Margaret is considered the first woman martyred under Queen Elizabeth's religious suppression. Margaret was raised a Protestant but converted to Catholicism about two to three years after she was married. According to her confessor, Fr. Mush, Margaret became a Catholic because she "found no substance, truth nor Christian comfort in the ministers of the new church, nor in their doctrine itself, and hearing also many priests and lay people to suffer for the defense of the ancient Catholic Faith." Margaret's husband, John Clitherow, remained a Protestant but supported his wife's decision to convert. They were happily married and raised three children: Henry, William, and Anne. She was a businesswoman who helped run her husband's butcher shop business. She was loved many people even her Protestant neighbors.

Margaret practiced her faith and helped many people reconcile themselves back into the Catholic Church. She prayed one and a half hours every day and fasted four times a week. She regularly participated in mass and frequently went to confession. When laws were passed against Catholics, Margaret was imprisoned several times because she did not attend Protestant services. Other laws were passed which included a 1585 law that made it high treason for a priest to live in England and a felony for anyone to harbor or aid a priest. The penalty for breaking such laws was death. Despite the risk, Margaret helped and concealed priests. Margaret said "by God's grace all priests shall be more welcome to me than ever they were, and I will do what I can to set forward God's Catholic service."

Margaret wanted her son Henry to receive a Catholic education so she endeavored that her son be sent outside the Kingdom to Douai, France for schooling. Such an act was considered a crime. When the authorities discovered their intention, the Common Council had the Clitherow house searched. They initially found nothing but later retrieved religious vessels, books and vestments used for Holy Mass. They also found a secret hiding place but no renegade priests. Still, Margaret was arrested. Margaret refused to plead and to be tried saying, "Having made no offense, I need no trial". English law decreed that anyone who refused to plead and to be tried should be "pressed to death". So on the morning of March 25, 1586, after sewing her own shroud the night before and after praying for the Pope, cardinals, clergy, and the Queen, Margaret was executed. She lay sandwiched between a rock and a wooden slab while weights were dropped upon her, crushing her to death. She did not cry out but prayed "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy upon me. She died at age 30.

Move by her saintly life, all her children entered the religious life. Anne became a nun. Henry and William both became priests.

On October 25, 1970, Pope Paul VI declared Margaret a saint.

(Note: Some websites have Maggie's Feast Day as March 25th and others March 26th. Most of the American sites have her listed as the March 26th, so I honor that date.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

David Cook MUST win American Idol

When someone makes me actually *like* Michael Jackson, and Lionel Richie, that someone needs to win.  Besides, he is really talented and cute.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

What is there to say but, "Thank You, God."

Another AMAZING post!

I dare you to read it, especially those of you who don't buy into unschooling or even homeschooling. I dare those of you to read it who *really* think schooling is the answer, or that even copying schooling in your homes, as so many homeschoolers do with curriculums, is the answer. This post (letter) was written by a public high school biology teacher now unschooling mom, when she resigned.  It is long but well worth reading all the way through! It is profoundly true.

Hey, I have a kid in school. Andrew was unschooled and he made the choice to go to high school. He wanted to do it and we said, "Go for it! You can always come home, but if you decide you like it, learn to play the game...because it *is* a game." Well, he liked it enough to continue, but we have had MANY discussions, over the last four years, regarding so much of the mindless and pointless aspects of traditional public (and private) schooling.  To be honest, I don't know if I can go through high school again with another kid. These last four years have darn near done me in.  So, here's hoping Ben and Autumn stay home.

Speaking of Ben, in reference to the linked post, unfortunately, he would absolutely be pegged as a 'loser'. In fact, he already has been deemed as such by the public school system.  The rub that comes with putting one's child in a special needs public school setting is that they have got him 'marked for life'.  That is why, even though we all needed a break from one another, and the school Ben goes to is the lessor of two evils, we still HAVE TO get him out of there, never to return, when this year is over.   I just can't, in good conscience, do public school anymore.  Even if Ben's best interests continue to lie in a school setting.  No matter what we have to do, it's going to HAVE to be private.  My dream, my hope, my prayer, is that he can come back home to unschooling and all of us be happy and at peace with the decision.

I am just glad that I came to my senses, when I did, about Autumn, and that she will grow up relatively free and unfettered by all this complete crap!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No, No, No America(n Idol)!

I admit it.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this season of American Idol.  I have watched bits here and there over the last couple of years, but it never held my interest.  This year, I started again watching the auditions and was hooked.  They were actually picking really interesting people.  The final 12 were, for the most part, really unique folks.  So, tonite was the final night to get down to the Top 10 that will tour the States.  I was really hoping Amanda Overmyer would make it in because, well, she is awesome.  I can't believe Amanda was voted off.  She was so much better than the cute Christy Cook.  Hey, I was even stunned that Carly Smithson was in the bottom three.  Anyway, for what it's worth, when a label signs Amanda Overmyer  (and she will get a record deal)  I *WILL* be buying her CD.  I think she is really talented.  I totally love her style.  I know she will take the world by storm.  ROCK ON AMANDA!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Read every last word...

of this spectacular, beautiful and truly important post by fellow blogger, Melissa Wiley.  The discussion in the 'comments' section is fabulous.  Come join in!



Well, last Friday, when I posted my Obama rant, downtown Atlanta was being ravaged by a tornado (see above inset of photo from the Weather Channel).  It blew threw 6 miles of downtown with windspeeds of 130 mph.  We don't get many of those in the Atlanta area, especially right in the city.  One of the worst sections  hit is, a neighborhood in the eastern section of the city, called Cabbagetown.  This same area is where the old Fulton Cotton Mills is located. The mills had been turned into really cool lofts, a few years ago, called The Stacks.  My little brother, Jonathan (36), lived (note the past tense) on the 5th (top) floor of Bldg C.  If anyone has seen the news, the bldg behind C, bldg E was pancaked.  The top floor got completely blown away and the remaining floors collapsed  into the others until they hit bottom.  Providentially, no one died.  Completely amazing.  Most of bldg E was being renovated, so no one was living there yet.  

We went Sunday to get what we could from Jonny's apt.  From the outside, it looked as though the C bldg was fine.  Well, once we got up the pitch black stairs to the top floor, things didn't look so good.  Lots of glass and debris.  When we got into Jon's apt all the walls had collapsed inside and when we got ourselves through the hallway and into his living room we could see down 3 apartments.  The walls all fell like dominoes.  Mercifully, the wall that fell and squashed Jon's whole living room, came about a 2 feet from hitting all of his computer stuff.  Jon works for Apple and he was elated that all his Mac stuff was fine.  His bedroom was mostly okay so we were able to get all of his clothes out.

Jonathan wasn't home when the tornado hit.  He was on his way to a club where he dj's on Friday and Saturday nights.  He's been dj'ing in clubs since he was in his teens.  So, it's something he has always kept his foot in.  Anyway, he had parked his car in a parking garage and said that the light rain immediately turned into what could only be described as all hell breaking loose and suddenly street signs were flying through the open air garage.  He dove between two cars and rolled under an suv.  He could hear the windshields and windows  in cars breaking as flying objects flew through them and within a minute it was all over.  He got up and because he has a little car, it was fine.  It was only later, around 1 am, that I got a call from him that he wasn't allowed back near his apartment.

Well, I am grateful for this big house and the fact that Autumn still sleeps in between Robert and I, because Uncle Jonny is here for as long as he needs to be.  So, he's got a nice big closet and unused queen sized bed.  Apple has given him the week off WITH pay...they told him they weren't going to let him use up his vacation time for this.  I think that is great.  The down side is that Jon didn't have renter's insurance, so the furniture, tv, xbox, and kitchen stuff (all necessities for bachelors) will  have to be replace on his dime. The up side is, for as long as he is with us, he gets to come to Mass with us.  He already came to the St. Pat's party on Saturday night and had a great time.  He is not Catholic, and though once a quite on fire protestant, he is really kind of drifting spritually now. Maybe this will help him to see more of why I became Catholic and will feel more warmth toward the Church.  He wants to get married and have a family and I keep telling him, "Get your butt to church!"  I'm just praying God can help us all make the best of this situation for Jon's spiritual benefit.

Of course, the kids are elated to have their 'Jonny' around.  And that is a good thing.  Jon, who has the same sense of humor that I do, is taking it all really well. But, it is always nice to have lots of folks who love you around you at a time like this.

Of course, prayers are always welcome!

Thank You, Lord, for keeping my brother alive and safe.  Thank you, also,  for blessing Robert and I so that we are in the position to help Jon.  Amen!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spitting Nails!

GRRRRRR!  I am so mad, SO MAD!

Just a few minutes ago, on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill had on two women who where Obama supporters.  One knows Jeremiah Wright, the controversial pastor of Obama's church, and the other was just an Obama supporter who knows of Rev Wright.  Both of these women were black (I am NOT using African American, because I do not refer to myself as Anglo American, I say I am white).   They both defended Rev Wright's anti-American, anti-white rhetoric.  And when Bill asked them if a presidential candidate went to a church where the pastor espoused the teachings of the Third Reich, neither of them answered.  HA!  They were both yelling so much I doubt they heard him.  They kept saying, "You don't know what it is like to be black."  And both said they totally understood where Rev. Wright was coming from and that there was nothing wrong with what he has said.  

So, let's just put this in perspective. It's okay for Barack Obama to be affiliated with this pastor, and be a member of his Church (for 20 plus years no less), and in NO WAY does that affliation have any impact on Obama's beliefs about America or whites.   So, then that would mean it would be okay if John McCain had a pastor who preached anti-black rhetoric?   Somehow, I think, that if John McCain were affliated so closely and for so many years with a person who was a racist hate monger (as is Jeremiah Wright) he would be eviscerated by the media (CNN, NBC, CNBC, CBS all those places that have virtually ignored this Rev. Wright story) .  And somehow I don't think, for a New York Minute, would the media give McCain a pass, just because he writes a paper saying, "I was never around when he said those things.  I completely disagree with him.".  Yeah right!  I wouldn't give McCain a pass if something like that were true.  Rev. Wright went to Libya to have a visit with Khadafi, he gave Farrakan an didn't know about that stuff either, I guess?  Hmmmm,  and then you said in a speech that 'they were just words, and you can't believe everything,' yet in other speeches you talk about 'the power of words'...well which is it?

If you completely disagree with Wright, Obama, then you are going to expect people to believe that you NEVER heard Rev. Wright say any of those things?  Never?!?!  In over 20 years, you have always been away when your pastor has said something stupid and inflammatory?!? Really!?! If the shoe were on the other party's foot, the public would be demanding blood!  I'm so sick of the political double standard.  I am so sick of someone like Rev. Wright and the audacity he has to talk about the genocide of blacks because of AIDS, and somehow it's white America's fault.  Yet when his precious Obama is so pro-abortion and that abortion is more a genocidal plague to blacks than AIDS, he's remarkably silent. And funny, Rev. Wright talks about how America deserved 9/11 because we have killed innocents during wars.  Interesting, that Wright, a self confessed CHRISTIAN man, has little to say of the slaughter TRUE INNOCENTS in this country, over 43 million and growing, due to the scourge of abortion. 


I am going to catch Hell for this, but I am ready...

Beliefs Of A Good Democrat

1. You have to be against
Capital Punishment,
but for 
abortion on demand.

2. You have to believe
that businesses create oppression
and governments create prosperity.

3. You have to believe that
guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans
are more of a threat
than nuclear weapons in the hands of 
Chinese, Iranian, and Korean Communists.

4.  You have to believe there was no art
before federal funding.

5.  You have to believe that
global temperatures 
are more affected by
SUV- driving  soccer moms
than cyclical, documented
changes in the earth's climate.

6.  You have to believe that 
gender roles are artificial 
but being homosexual is natural.

7.  You have to believe that 
the AIDS virus is spread 
by a lack of federal funding.

8.  You have to believe 
that the same teacher 
who can't teach 4th graders 
how to read
is somehow qualified
to teach those same kids about sex.

9.  You have to believe 
that hunters don't care about nature
but activists who have never
been outside of San Francisco or
Manhattan, do.

10.  You have to believe that
Mel Gibson spent $25 Million of his own money
to make 
'The Passion of The Christ'
for financial gain.

11.  You have to believe that 
the NRA is bad
because it supports certain parts of the Constitution,
while the ACLU is good
because it supports certain parts of the Constitution.

12.  You have to believe that
taxes are too low, 
but ATM fees are too high.

13.  You have to believe that 
Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem
are more important to American history
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and A.G. Bell

14.  You have to believe that
standardized tests are racists,
but racial quotas and set-asides are not.

15.  You have to believe that
Hillary Clinton is
normal and a very nice person.
Also, that just because Barack Obama
has attended a church for 23 years with a 
racist, hate-mongering pastor,
it has in no way influenced his beliefs.

16.  You have to believe that
the only reasons Socialism hasn't worked
anywhere it had ever been tried
is because 
the right people haven't been in charge.

17.  You have to believe that
conservatives telling the truth
belong in jail,
but a liar and sex offender belongs
in the White House.

18.  You have to believe that 
Gay Rights parades displaying
drag queens, almost nude adults 
acting out sex acts and bestiality
should be Constitutionally protected
while manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.

19.  You have to believe that 
illegal funding of the Democratic Party 
to the Clintons, 
by the Chinese government,
is somehow in the best interest
of the United States.

20.  You have to believe that 
this message is part of
the vast right-wing 

Ready to vote?

Baby Blues

Okay I admit it...I am sad.  But I don't have baby blues in the traditional sense of mild PPD.  I have baby blues because I am blue that I don't have a baby.  My 'baby' is 8 years old.  I have a lot of friends who have had or are having babies this year.  I WANT ONE TOO!  I have written about this before, but I am going to be 42 in a little over a month and I just see time slipping away.  

Some people think I am nuts, but, I really love everything about babies: nursing, cuddling, co-sleeping even diapering!  I like diapering coz I am a cloth diaperer and it's just so earth mama.  I really love it.  I am not the only one either because Elizabeth Foss posted an article on her blog about a year ago about how much she loved cloth diapering.   I am NOT ready to give up babies.  I am just not.  I push this desire down so deeply because it is really heart breaking when it surfaces.  

Yes, I have 3 kids.  Some say I should be grateful for what I have and not complain.  Well, that is the whole point to my complaining.  I AM GRATEFUL for the kids I have and I WANT MORE!!

There are moms out there with 4, 5, 6, 7 8, and more kids.  Why can't I be one of them?  I mean, am I a horrible mother?  I just don't get it. I am not really asking for answers, I am just venting. There are thousands of women who are going to find out they are pregnant today and many will have their babies and many will kill them through abortion.  Why are some allowed such precious gifts just to turn around and trash them?  And why are others like me, or women who have never conceived, barred the right to conceive a child?   

God can make this happen...yet, so far, he hasn't...and you know what?  I am pissed!!!  There, I said it.  I am really mad that He is not allowing me to get pregnant again. UGH!!!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oddly true

You Are a Colon
You are very orderly and fact driven.
You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.

You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.
You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.

Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.
(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)

You excel in: Leadership positions

You get along best with: The Semi-Colon

Intersestingly, I don't know if I would say I was brilliant, but I am definitely subject to emotions. Also, many who know me would say I am a colon alright, as I have been told numerous times I am full of sh*t.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Update on the Experiment

If any of my plethora (yeah, right) of readers saw my earlier post regarding my Pay-Autumn-To-Read experiment, I have an update.

We settled on an amount per book.  The books are phonics readers that progress in difficulty as one moves through them, so she is gently exposed to knew concepts as she moves forward.  At the same time that we are doing this, I am actually reading, Punished By Rewards by Alfie Kohn.  I gotta say, I agree with alot of what he says.  And, I do think to myself,  what am I teaching Autumn about reading by making it a job.  You see, I am not rewarding her in the sense that I tell her that I will give her money if she reads.  The deal was centered around the fact that she wants to make money.  My husband and I don't give allowances.  We have tried, but we would always forget.  Neither one of us grew up with them.  The other thing is that dh and I don't think people, kids or adults, should be paid for helping around the house.  I don't get paid to homeschool, or do laundry, or make dinner we are not paying them to empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, or pick up their dirty clothes.   All that is part and parcel of being a family.

So, I told Autumn that I would really love for her to practice her reading, and I knew she wanted money, so I told her I would pay her so much per book.  The only 'catch' is she has to read them to me (this way I get some Mommy/Autumn time).  She can decide to read 10, 3, or none on a given day.  Also, we have asked her to save 10% of whatever she currently has in her little Trader Joe's coffee can, before she spends it.  We are trying to teach her about always saving a little first.  Unlike some parents, I am not 'making' her tithe it to church.  Right now, she just has to save it.  She can buy whatever she can afford.  Sometimes it's a new Webkinz and yesterday it was an ebay auctioned (which was a cool conversation about auctions) PC game called CATZ 2.

She has really enjoyed this experiment.  Maybe, because it isn't technically a reward.  It is just a payment.  While she is reading I hold back on the praise and just say things like "You did it!"  "You ARE reading!" more statements of the obvious so that she can be proud of herself.  She told me yesterday after reading like 6 books in a row, that she is a good reader.  I said, "I know, I told you that before, but I guess you had to see it for yourself!"  

I really love Alfie Kohn's idea that we need to find what 'intrinsically movtivates" people, not just extrinsically motivate them with rewards or punishments, because according to Kohn theories and research, punishments and rewards don't work long term. I have no doubt that Autumn's reading for cash scheme may come back to bite me in the ass. I mean, what happens when she's read all the phonics readers in the house?  I guess, at least, she will be a more confident reader.  But, what if she decides that she'll never read unless I pay her.  That would be bad...and unrealistic.  I can just see her in college, "But Professor, I am not going to read Chaucer unless you pay me!  Doesn't everyone get paid to read?"  Yeah, that's gonna go over well.  At least, she's got a way to make some money.  I do not try to incentivize her either, by telling her I will pay her a bonus if she reads just a few more books.  She's got her base price per book and the rest is up to her. 

This is definitely unconventional, but hey, a mom's gotta go what a mom's gotta do.  Sitting down and asking Autumn to let me read to her or ask her to read a bit to me just was NOT working.  Admittedly, it is easier to get her to listen to me read.  However, as much as she used to love it, she's not been into much lately...which is why I kind of relish her hunting me down to read (because she wants to make some $$$).  At the very worst, I guess one could accuse me of being no better than a teacher giving out A's or gold stars.  But really, can an A or gold star get you anything?  No.  At least cash can get you something fun.  So, instead of being able to brag about all your stars, you can say, "I don't have any stars, but look at this cool Webkinz collection!" 

Interestingly, a few very cool things have happened since the experiment started.  1) Autumn has taken a real interest in understanding money, counting it, what taxes mean , why save etc... 2) When she is 'flush' with cash she becomes really generous, and has even given Ben some money, and bought things for him (and a friend).
That is worth the whole darn thing to me, her being giving and not greedy.  3) It has made her understand that there is value to things and she is learning about how to get a deal...thus the ebay transaction.

So, maybe it is not a bad thing after all.  All I want is for Autumn to experience more personal success with reading, and quite possibly, when she is confident, she will look for another way to make money instead of reading.  


The problem with modern birth.

My birth with my first was like this only it ended up with me being knocked out and c-sectioned. I didn't see Andrew until he was a day old. I love that Monty Python did this so many years ago. I knew a home birth Nurse-Midwife who showed this clip to all of her clients. It's a shame that things really haven't gotten much better. My friend Rebecca, who just had baby Terry (my Godson who is doing a lot better and is home now), went through almost this exact thing a couple of weeks ago. She didn't see Terry for TWO DAYS!! She's still very upset about all of it.  Needless to say, he is having problems nursing now too. Moms need to be protected, supported and loved during labor and delivery...not treated like the least important thing in a room full of expensive dehumanizing machines...that go 'PING!'

He's just the "Bees Knees"

Matt Bellamy of Muse playing the outro to Stockholm Syndrome. His guitar playing just blows my mind! His custom made Manson guitar doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Muse @ Wembley DVD Ad (Just Awesome!)

This is due to go on sale in the States in the next few weeks.  Lucky ducks in England can actually go buy it and see it in movie theaters! Anyway, my birthday is at the end of April, but this will be an early present.  It's gonna be AWESOME!  Andrew and I can't wait to see it!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


You Are Cayenne Pepper
You are very over the top and a bit overwhelming.
You have a fiery personality, and you can give anyone a good jolt.
You can easily take things up a couple notches, no matter what crowd you're running with.

Such Stunning Arrogance!

Okay, so anyone who reads this blog knows I am not a Democrat and I don't support Clinton or Obama.  I barely support McCain (but he's all I've got).  However, if I were an Obama supported I would be FURIOUS with Clinton.
I am dumbfounded by her arrogance to suggest that she and Obama would be a force to be reckoned with if he were her Vice Presidential running mate.  I mean, holy cats, HE IS IN THE LEAD  and she has the audacity to  suggest that he be her Vice Presidential pick?  What if Obama was saying this about Clinton?  That maybe she should be his running mate?  She'd be freaking out! She'd be insulted!

I have to admit (and this is horribly sinful, I know) that watching the Democratic Party implode is kinda fun. But I really can't see how this is going to go over well for anyone.  It's true that Obama is leading in both popular vote and delegates,  but it is true that Clinton has won in the states that vote 'blue' on Election Day. Most of the states that Obama has won usually vote 'red' on Election Day.  Then all this talk of super delegates and possible re-dos in Michigan and Florida?  COME ON!  A super delegate in Florida told Bill Bennet on the radio that it would cost 17 MILLION DOLLARS to re-do the primary.  That is INSANITY!  Use that money for something worthwhile, or decide to count the darn votes you already darn early.  I would be outraged if I still lived in Florida, and as a Republican, knew my tax money was going to go to repeat a primary that the Dems screwed up in the first place, and wasn't going to benefit me in any way.

As my friend Mig always said to her daughters when they were little and embroiled in a fight, "This is going to end in tears."  Well, that is what's going to happen with the Democratic Party...only I think it's going to be worse than tears...there may even be blood.  (I just hope it's Hilary's) 

Sorry, I just couldn't help it.

Oops gotta run SNL is about to come's new....and even THEY are making fun of Hilary...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

McCain is so darn BORING!

and not the least of which is important...too darn moderate for me.  Ugh! I hear him muttering on and on downstairs on FOX News.  Of course, I watched Mike Huckabee withdraw from the race and LOVED listening to him say his thank yous and talk about his campaign.  Huck's so interesting, such a good speaker, so funny and gracious.  Then McCain comes on and I find myself falling asleep.  What the heck is gonna happen if Obama gets the nomination for the Dems?  Obama is great to listen to.  I don't agree with him...he's a Mega-Liberal and I am a Reagan Conservative, but the truth is he is a great speaker.  McCain is going to put people to sleep.  Even though McCain has a marginally better message than the Dems, no one is going to be listening because his speaking style is so dull that everyone will be lying splayed out on their couches, heads lolling over while drooling on their night shirts.  If Hilary gets the nomination I think it would be easier for McCain to win, just because people hate Hilary. Still, though,  how did this happen?  Of all the Republicans that it falls to McCain just astonishes me.  

I know I said before that I wouldn't vote for McCain, but I'm gonna have to.  I can't vote for Obama or Clinton, they are so far left and such pro-abortion advocates.  I can't vote for people who fight among themselves over who is the better advocate for 'Choice'.  Even Andrew, my pro-life baby, said, "How odd to compete over who is more pro choice ....which is actually arguing over who is more in favor of killing babies.  Like you want to brag about that! How stupid!"  

If I have to grasp at straws where McCain is concerned, at least, there is a better chance of a conservative judge being put on the Supreme court, if and when there is an opening, with McCain as president than either Clinton or Obama.  Either of them would just give us another Ruth B Ginsberg.

I guess, though, that I will have to take my chances that McCain could be Obama, because I REALLY don't want Hilary to get the Dems nomination.  I don't want her to have the satisfaction!

Time for Bed,

Muse - Feeling Good on Jools Holland

The best remake of a song ever! I am using this song at a retreat. :-) Because I *am* feeling good!

Monday, March 3, 2008

An Experiment

Okay,  so what does one do when one is an Unschooler who wants to encourage their reluctant reader to read but isn't interested in coercing them? Do you reward them when they have read?  No.  Because gold stars mean nothing to my daughter.  I, personally, hate them.  What a kid wants is hard cold cash.  So, you pay them to read.  Yup!  That is what I am doing.  

I was thinking about what it must be like to go to school, while your parent (s) go to work, and then have nothing to show for it at the end of the week, when at least they are getting paid.  I was thinking about how much more interesting it would have been to get paid to go to school.  I might have tolerated it more.  I mean, if I HAD to go, why not get paid.  So, then I figured, what if, instead of shrouding becoming more fluent in reading with rewards and praise, which do little to make someone enjoy reading for it's own intrinsic value, why not treat it like a job.  Some kids get allowances.  Though as parents we suck at giving allowances.  I figure, when you are in a family, part of being in it, is pulling some weight.  That's just part and parcel of belonging to the tribe, so to speak.  However,  if I ask the kids to go above and beyond typical daily duties I will offer to pay them.  For instance, Andrew details our cars and gets a nice sum for it.  He does a better job than Car Spa.  

All this made me think that Autumn,  though interested peripherally in reading,  doesn't care much about it. I don't care much either.  I see that she is learning and progressing and I am cool with it.  However, Robert would really like to see some more fluency.  So, I was thinking about how to set this up so it wouldn't be misunderstood by her.  We have blatantly tried to bribe her before, but it doesn't work.  Alfie Kohn is right about rewards being like a punishment of sorts.  All motivation goes out the window when we dangle a carrot.  So, how could I motivate her without the carrot?  How do I give her control over this?  Something not to be used as a reward, but something I could set up like a extra chore...because that is how she sees it.   So instead of saying, " Autumn, if you read this book I will give you 5 gold stars that will equal $1 and when you get 25 stars ($5) you'll get a treat. "  Rather it's more like, "You don't like reading, but I would really like you to get better at it,  so how about I pay you to do it as a job?  For every book you read you get X amount of money, you don't read you don't get money but no one is going to give you a hard time either, your choice."   

  With the idea in my head, Autumn and I went out to lunch, at a cute cafe, in historic Roswell where we live.  We ate chicken tacos out in the breezy sunny 55 F day .  We watched people and pups walking by and we chatted.  It was there I pitched the 'idea'  to her.  I asked her if she would like to make some money at the job of learning to read.  I told her that like her Dad's job she would get paid after, not up front. I laid down the specifics and the salary.  She liked it alot...thought it was very fair. 

 Now, some people probably think I am nuts.  That is okay.  People have thought I have been nuts for a long time.  Now, however, the coercion is off the table.  Autumn is 8 years old.  She is at an age where she wants certain things and I won't buy stuff just to buy it for her.  I don't want to set up the expectation that she will get everything she asks for.  Talk about 'Primadonna Training'!  And I am trying to find her ways to make money so that she can learn to manage her own.  Up until today, I couldn't think of a thing.  I am hoping this goes well.  Maybe we will both be able to get what we want.  I will be able to see her gain in reading proficiency and she will make some cash.  She wants the cash for things like Webkinz.  There she can read what her little pets say to her.  Also, she likes Beanie Babies 2.0 where she can chat.  I figure her reading proficiency will only come in handy in both venues and will continue to build on itself effortlessly....well, at least, that is the plan.

I will say that she came home from our lunch and did 2 lessons of click and read and then struggled through a book, but did a really great job, and was thrilled to get payment.  I will keep you posted.  Something I else I think this is going to help with is math...a twofer how awesome!


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Father 'Hen' (I made my hunny take this test)

What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Educational Resource

In all honesty, I never saw this coming. I don't see him as remotely artistic. He is complaining over my shoulder as I type this. "Of course I am!" he insists. So I probed, "In what possible way are you artistic." This is the answer I just got, "I am always encouraging the kids' artistic endeavors...I am having a ceramic TARDIS being made for me by Tumnal at her pottery class!" He is also reminding me that he has written a book (artistic) and that he planted a tree (that is a stretch) and that he is Ron 'Frickin' Popeil as his patent goes pending next Friday for Elastic Ricochet (sounds like a Band to me). So yeah, I guess when you add his writing, arboring and inventing he is kinda artistic. So, okay, I'll give him Artistic Mother-ahem- Father Hen. I am still the Groovy Mother let's not forget about that!

College here he comes!

Andrew got his acceptance letter to Georgia State University.  He will be majoring in Film and is very excited. He's been up to a lot lately.  Last weekend, at the Fencing tournament, he won all his 'pools' and then Medaled in 6th place over all (1-8 are given medals).  Tonite,  3/1,  he has his first gig with his new band,  Iconoclasts.  They are very excited.  They are doing a couple of original songs and one cover, Blur's Song 2.  Andrew is lead singer...shock of all shocks!  Drumming and singing...I 've gotta hand it to him for coordination.

Now all he has to do is maintain his B in Math and he is set for the Hope Scholarship (which pays state college tuition).  He has a 3.8 GPA,  (this from a child who was unschooled through 8th grade, barely formally taught, very much self directed, so I'm sticking my tongue out at all you naysayers of unschooling!!)  but the stupid Hope Scholarship people just made it more difficult for students, so only what they deem as 'Core' courses apply for Hope.  One needs a B average in all core courses.  Andrew is okay in Math, but he's been in Film/Video for 4 years and consistently makes A's, as well as in subjects like Lit, Econ, History.  And even though Film is his declared Major all the fabulous work he has done in school regarding that field of study doesn't apply.  What crap!  I am sure he will do fine in Math and everything will be okay. Schools, UGH, they really make me want to scream!