Thursday, December 29, 2005

Link Incest or I Made the Top 10!

Anne had a great post on her techie blog, Anne 2.0 linking to reddit's report of another blogger's scam to catapult blog stats or some such (okay, I don't know what these things are, blogs or website or what -- but its really funny). She then proceeded to list me in her top 10 blog post on Barely Attentive Mother.

So, let all hop into that great blog bed out there and have a good old time!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Year's Intentions

I've blogged before about New Year's Resolutions and how I don't make them. As in so many other aspects of my life, I am changing my tune a bit. There are some things I'd like to change or improve or work on.

I'm taking yoga more seriously these days, as in, I'm appreciating more than simply the exercise aspect of it. Its not a religion, but I think that the focus it helps me cultivate might help me to be more religious or spiritual. As such, I've started subscribing to Yoga Journal on-line e-newsletters. The one I received recently really speaks to my condition. It talks about intentions rather than resolutions -- to this I can relate probably because I feel that any resolution is destined to fail.

I've never really been goal-oriented, or at least no more so than a vague idea that I'd like to be a lawyer or a mother or a homeschooler. I think my goal-avoidance is mainly the result of how I was raised. My parents specifically stated time and again the importance of enjoying and appreciating life and emphasized the point that there will always be goals and that if life is all about pursuit of goals, its easy to forget to enjoy attaining a goal because another goal just moves in -- nature abhors a vacuum, lets say. But I don't judge those who have goals -- I admire them because it also reflects a purpose and a discipline. I guess a second reason for my goal-avoidance is because I doubt my ability to predict where life is headed and I have no interest in trying -- it would spoil the fun for me. What is that saying, angels laugh at our plans? I guess I think of plans and goals as the same.

However, I do have a series of intentions that have been brewing in my head and it seems timely to write them down at the New Year. I imagine I'll be sharing them in another post.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Santa Ain't Satan, but He Sure Ain't St. Nick, Either

I was just reading Anne's post and I enjoyed it. I take her point -- myths and stories have a powerful effect on us and can teach us well, they need not be true (its why Jesus used parables -- sorry, couldn't let that pass). Anyway, the problem is that one never knows what that message is.

Anne points out that her DD picked up from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas that the Grinch can't steal Christmas because Santa will always bring more presents. So, it kind of misses the point about good cheer and the triumph of the human spirit. But thats okay, because many have missed the point of more important stories, like many of those in various holy scriptures. As an unschooler, I'm certainly not going to tell anyone what they should get from something.

But, its the child's interpretation of Santa and Christmas as being gift-getting free-for-alls that makes me so cranky about it all. The Washington Post ran a couple of articles about Santa and the business of Christmas and all that that really spoke to me. Suffice it to say, Christmas is out of hand and Rudolph was the product of a marketer at Montgomery Ward. Dunno, but that sort of sums it up for me.

The Washington Post was running articles about the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" dispute. This really makes me scratch my head -- excerpted from here

It is an emotional campaign -- a petition against Target for not including Christmas" in its advertising drew more than 600,000 signatures -- but it is also an easy one. Virtually all of the stores that conservative groups have targeted have quickly changed their advertising to feature "Christmas" more prominently, as have many of the groups that had "holiday trees."

Okay, I did a stint as an evangelical (though not conservative) Christian. I'm sorry to see Christ taken out of Christmas -- but I'd be pretty happy to see Christmas taken out of advertising circulars. Does anyone remember Jesus getting upset about what was going on at his father's temple? I will admit that I think 'holiday trees' are a bit ridiculous, but, again, what is the significance of the Christmas tree? Its not in the Bible. It comes from Europe and was probably passed down from pagan celebrations. I have nothing to back that up, but I still don't see how the tree got tied to the religious celebration. I'll concede that the evergreen may have symbolic significance to Christ, but as a Christian, I see symbolic significance in nearly everything no matter how mundane.

Another excerpt from a different article about the same subject:

The Church created Christmas in 4th century Rome to compete with a December Saturnalia that had become increasingly focused on the veneration of Mithras, the sun god. Faced with what appeared to be the emergence of a competing monotheism, the Christian fathers countered with a Feast of the Nativity to be celebrated, strategically, on Dec. 25, in the very midst of the Roman revels. That Christmas survived for centuries after was due to the fact that it made ample room for the profane.

Basically, I see today's Christmas to be a cultural celebration. Christ was taken out of Christmas a long time ago. Why are we just noticing now?

Io Saturnalia.

Disclaimer: if this post is disjointed, and I know it is, please forgive me and understand that my house is cluttered with toys and my kids are driving me crazy. Please feel free to comment or ask about anything that doesn't make sense. And, for some good books (be sure to read the second customer's review of this one) about Christmas, check out these by Gail Gibbons.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Preschool for Free for All

Preschool free-for-all. Universal preschool is the term used for free preschool, basically, extending public schooling to 4 year-olds, but its more complicated than that, of course. Its being done in California and Florida, its on the ballot or under consideration in many other states, including my own. I think I also saw something about it in British press too, but I don't have any links for you.

There are lots of articles you can read about it. The Wall Street Journal doesn't seem to like it -- it would create quite a bureaucracy for existing preschools. Also, it would upset the daycare industry, which would find itself facing obstacles if it wanted to come under the program or competition. And there is a whole website devoted to the issue.

What do you think? I'm not exactly sure what I think. I think its unnecessary and fiscally wasteful. I guess my view would be to extend HeadStart into higher income levels rather than going the UP route.

In some ways, UP seems to be benefitting the middle class and above by giving them something they would have paid for on their own. However, I wonder how many in the higher income brackets would take the state up on its offer -- I mean people who have money to spend on preschool might want something better or different (Montessori, Waldorf) than what the state is offering. An example is people who choose to pay for private schools instead of public school, so I think this might play out on the preschool level. But maybe not, I know someone in Georgia who paid for preschool for her kids but the youngest was able to get it for free through the state's lottery sponsored program [or whatever, but thats a different situation than taxing everyone, I guess. I don't know how the program works].

As a homeschooler, I think preschool is unnecessary, so I'm concerned that UP sends a misleading message about the critical importance of preschool, of early learning that can only take place in institutional settings with 'trained' professionals.

If UP is optional and one can choose to homeschool preschool (or skip preschool, however you'd like to term the phenomenon), I guess its not that big of a deal. Except for the money -- but, as a homeschooler (and like those who send their kids to private schools), I'm used to paying for an educational system I don't use and I get the public policy argument. Only I don't think the public policy argument is persuasive as to preschool.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ode to a Neti Pot

Oh how I love my Neti pot
a finer implement I know not

its makes my breathing clear and true
I think I shall get one for whoever is reading this

*** *** *** *** ***

I am a victim of seasonal allergies every fall and spring. Sometimes I think I have allergies, sometimes I think its a cold. Whatever it is, its a pain and I'm sick of it. I hate taking decongestant because it makes me spacey and doesn't seem to help me breathe clearly. Also, nowadays its harder to get your hands on pseudoephedrine lest you be mistaken for someone running a meth lab.

Anyway, I had seen the neti pot for sale in the Chinaberry catalog some time ago. I always read the ad, but the idea of "irrigating my nasal passages" was just too gross a concept for me. Until I got my second cold/allergy attack in a month. Luckily, I didn't have to wait for shipping, netis are sold at most yoga studios, it seems, so I was able to buy one in person.

So, how is it? My breathing is much, much clearer. Clearer than if I was on meth or Sudafed. And I'm drug-free.

No, really, how is it? You know, pouring saline into one nostril while it runs out the other? Quite frankly, it seemed bizarre and unpleasant at first. Its sort of like drowing in the sea, and yet being able to breathe. It makes me feel positively aquatic -- only I don't have any gills (at least not that I'm going to show YOU). There is something about using a neti that forces you to be aware and calm, because if you're not, you will sputter saltwater all over the place.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Its Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

I was reading Pioneer Christmas and saw an activity for making pomanders. Suzanne seems to like these books (I previously mentioned Pioneer Thanksgiving, well, the exact words I used were "this book") -- they weave some story in with some history and activities. She was looking through the book and asked to do the pomander activity. You can google it and find many websites that tell you how to make them.

We shopped for supplies yesterday. Whole cloves are not cheap, but when they are on sale, they are not available. Sigh -- but at the third store, we were able to get some. We also bought limes, lemons, apples, and wooden skewers to poke the fruit.

We made the pomanders today. Note to self, if you have paper cuts or other little cuts in your hands, making citrus pomanders will be a bit painful.

I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged my kids were in this activity and quite pleased to note that all their poking was great for small muscle development which helps with writing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Just Another Reason to Unschool

One reason I'm drawn to unschooling is because it allows a child to follow her interests without forcing someone else's notion of what she needs to know on her. The basics are the basics because we all need to know them. If we all need to know them, we will all learn them in due time, without being forced to learn them at a certain time. At least thats how my theory goes.

Anyway, I just don't see the need for parental control in the name of cultivating a child to be his best self. This article encourages me.

Monday, December 05, 2005

But how will they adjust to college?

Stephanie talks about this over at ThrowingMarshmallows. Since my kids are so young, I don't worry about adjustment to college much, but it is a question in my mind. However, I'm a dice roller and I'm willing to roll the dice. I've seen plenty of high school seniors fail to adapt to college -- I can't believe a homeschooler could do any worse.