Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Educational Philosophy - Get a Life

This is a post I wrote for the community blog, Life Without School.

"Get a life" was a comment I received fairly recently on my blog, unclimber....For a moment, I felt a bit upset to get what seemed to be only a mean-spirited comment. Then I realized it was an opportunity for reflection....
The irony is that in ruminating on "get a life", I realized that it sums up my educational philosophy. 

Monday, December 24, 2007

Well Said!

Not all homeschoolers are politically conservative and we aren't too fond of being painted that way! Here's a response to an article about the political power of homeschoolers who come together for a common goal -- just don't think all homeschoolers think alike!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Out of Sync Mom

We just can't get it together today. My ambitious plan to go to Trader Joe's is being thwarted by my children getting intensely involved with an activity, then I get involved in my own thing when they are ready to go, so they get involved in something else, so I continue my activity, and so on and so on.

One activity I tried was to make a crochet flower from a book I have. I was always wondering what makes one person a knitter and another a crocheter. A year ago, I taught myself to crochet because I thought I'd be a crocheter. I'm not sure why I thought that, I guess I was daunted by two needles -- one hook seems so much simpler and harkens back to a time when people held the door open for old ladies. Well, I crocheted a square and couldn't figure out what I wanted to make, so I gave up. Now, I have identified a need. I need ponchos. Well, I got the knitting poncho kit and knitting I am. But I thought a crochet flower would make a lovely embellishment and it's a small project that I can try instead of making some meaningless square just to practice my stitches.

I reported my day to my yarn friend, and this is what I said:

We've just been hanging out and planning to go to Trader Joe's. But then I realized Suzanne has her hand-knit poncho on and I wondered why Gabrielle wasn't wearing hers. Then I realized because I hadn't yet sewn the pieces together. So I did that, meanwhile, the girls started dancing to one of the Putumayo CDs. Then they brought out Barbies and were playing some bizarre game that sounded like it must have involved the Marquis de Sade. It was sort of disturbing. As they were playing, I finished the poncho, but not wanting to disturb their creative play since they were really engaged in it, I decided to try the crochet flowers I read about in a book [I had been using the crochet hook to weave in the stray threads on the poncho, so I figured I'd just go with it]. So I did a really wonky crochet flower because I got confused and was single crocheting where I was supposed to slip stitch and I was just getting jiggy with the yarn [this is why I may be a natural knitter -- keeping the stitches on the needles is much more orderly and is easier for me to track what I'm doing, crocheting is just like "what the hell is going on here" chaos for me. I've got one hook, one loop and all this yarn...] Anyway, the flower was supposed to have 8 petals but only has 5 -- but Suzanne thinks its beautiful and attached it to her poncho and now Gabrielle wants one.

So, will we get to Trader Joe's? Tune in next time when Suzanne says "but Gabrielle's flower has more petals on it than mine!"

It was through this email that I feel I have come to an understanding of the crochet personality vs. the knit personality. Last year I thought I'd be a crocheter, but I think I'm actually a knitter. I gotta see the stitches on my needle, man. I'm lost without it. But I accept that about myself.

Knit not Sew

Okay, so I still haven't threaded the sewing machine that a friend so graciously gave to me. I still want to learn to sew, but this same friend was also trying to get me hooked on knitting and she has succeeded in that respect.

I learned how to knit when I was a child and tried briefly to take it up before my first was born. I decided to try again with a kit designed for kids. Hey, if it can teach kids to learn, why not me? The yarn was thick, the needles were big, it knit up quickly. I have knit two of them, one for each daughter and have started a poncho for myself. My friend also gave me the link to knitting help, which has videos of knitting and is very helpful to me when I get confused.

Other than the frustration of trying to learn to throw the yarn more quickly and pondering whether I should go "continental" rather than "English", I am finding knitting to be meditative and an opportunity for personal growth. I can be perfectionistic, but I can also be a slob (you'd have to see how I keep house). I was relentlessly counting my stitches after every row (well, with the adult poncho, I am actually counting mid-row using my handy-dandy stitch markers. Hey, it's easier to fix a mistake if you can identify where it happened).

I am now working with "eyelash" yarn that was on sale at Michael's. This is like the spiritual retreat of my knitting. I am often off count because it's hard to see the stitches clearly and I'm always picking up an extra stitch or not fully dropping one as I knit. Very frustrating. But, the yarn knits up very fluffy, so instead of being perfectionistic and trying to fix the stitch immediately by undoing and redoing it (or going back and ripping out the stitch), I simply leave it and note where the mistake occurred. On the next row, I just knit the extra stitch with another and away it goes. The fluffiness of the yarn makes the mistake impossible to see. I'm even thinking of renaming the "eyelash" yarn "Jesus yarn" because it's so forgiving. But is that too irreverent?

So the moral of this story is that with eyelash yarn, you need not go back and fix every mistake, you can move forward and fix it as you go. Or should I leave the mistake where it is and just live with it? I tried doing that with a broken kitchen drawer, but my mother-in-law fixed it when I wasn't home. So much for Zen.

The Socialization Fear and Homeschooling

A nice article about one homeschooler's view of socialization.

My favorite -- the author recounts a story of being scolded for talking in class and being told "we are not here to socialize." She then wonders, "If schools weren't made for socializing, then why on earth would anyone assume that homeschoolers were missing out?"

Why is "what about socialization" often one of the first questions we homeschoolers hear? Just think about it for two seconds and a whole slew of answers come:

-- why would you want your child "socialized" with or by other school children? Is anyone laboring under the illusion that much of school interactions are polite and courteous?

-- is socialization one adult per 30 kids, telling them what to do? How is this like real life?

-- how many quiet or shy children really wish they had been pushed at age 5 or 6 or 7, to interact with other kids their same age? See question 1.

Oh well, to each, his own. I, for one, am glad that my second-grader does not respond to my requests with "whatever." I am glad my second-grader doesn't ask me if I'm going to talk about "s-e-x" when I ask for a few minutes to chat with my friend alone.

I've got a post coming up in a few weeks on Life Without School that discusses my thoughts on socializing vs. civilizing. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 23, 2007



Hmmmm....this must be a common theme for moms, I wrote in a similar vein a few years ago.

Funny Grocery Shopping Story

What happens with a mom inadvertantly buys an item which her children have snuck into the grocery cart? She takes her revenge on ebay, makes a few times over the money she spent, and publicizes her blog! Hysterically! A friend of mine shared the ebay link, which also includes the link to her blog.

Ain't motherhood grand?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sew What?

So the Freecycle machine did not work out. I read the repair book, it was still beyond me how to fix the machine, which was getting the thread tangled and caught in the bobbin casing. I decided to send it back out into the Freecycle-o-sphere. However, I posted an honest offer, detailing the shape it's in and the inability to procure a manual. I got a taker and it's out of my house. Phew!

Meanwhile, my friend who is trying to draw me into her web of crafting has not given up on me and gave me her old machine! (Thank you!) She scoffed at the idea of an instruction manual, but the machine is only a few years old and I was able to get the manual off the manufacturer's website (bonus because I thought I'd have to shell out $15 to buy one).

Of course, there is always an obstacle and right now, it's that I don't have a full-size spool of thread. The Freecycle machine came with one and I left it on there. So someday, I will get to a craft store or a fabric store and get some thread. I will buy good quality thread, having learned from a sewing machine book that people should not cheap out on thread (the chapter was titled something like "People get cheap in the weirdest places"). The implication being that they have already spent perhaps hundreds of dollars on the machine.

Meanwhile, I look at the sewing porn and ponder all the wonderful projects I could undertake. This has resulted in a number of spirited e-mails among other friends who have experience sewing and own machines. Perhaps it sounds too stereotypical, homeschoolers who sew their own clothes, but you've got to see some of the projects we're considering. Corset necktie belts, anyone?

Once again, option paralysis sets in and I have no idea what to make. I am thinking I might stitch a simple cover for the sewing machine. Another tidbit I picked up from the sewing books, never cover your machine in plastic, it makes the machine "sweat." That and use crocous cloth (available at your local hardware store) to gently buff out any 'burrs' on your machine needle or plate.

Yup, once again I have acquired a whole lot of knowledge that doesn't enable me to do anything.

2012 follow-up -- I'm finally sewing!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


wow, it's dusty around here. This blog seems almost abandoned. Or is it merely dormant while homeschooling takes over? Maybe it's just that I've found other ways to ignore my kids.

Anyway, I recently acquired a sewing machine from my local Freecycle list. Whether it works or not is a matter of debate. The offeror said it works and from the standpoint of plugging it in and pushing the pedal, the gears do operate. However, the thread gets tangled in the machine. So, I wouldn't call the thing operational. Maybe it's a simple fix. Unfortunately, the free machine did not come with a manual, so I'm posting here in case someone has a lead for me. The label says "Montgomery Ward." It's model UHT J 1984.

I headed to the library when I first acquired the machine to get all kinds of 'how to sew' books. Now, I am requesting all kinds of "how to fix sewing machine" books. Both of them.

I've been visiting the websites mentioned in the "how to sew" books because they uniformly tell me the most important piece of equipment is the instruction manual. Turns out, I've got a 'rare' machine that's not listed on the websites. But some get close.

Anyway, I'm having fun, picturing myself as a tinkerer. I do like to play with machines and might have made a good engineer, but who wants to take all that math? Maybe I would have been a good mechanic, they aren't required to take calculus.

Why do I want to start sewing on a machine? One of my friends made an adorable dress for her child that she found on this site and I thought it might be fun to become 'crafty.' So far, my path is not leading to 'crafty' but to machine repair work. Who knows.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thats Why I Unschool

-- no guarantee my kids won't hate me anyway, but they'll have to find a different reason.

Why We Hate Our Parents
Western parents feel it is their job to make their children into who they should be rather than relate to who they already are.
By Mark Epstein, M.D.

I was not unschooled myself and I don't hate my parents. They always accepted me and encouraged me, but never made me feel like I should be anyone else.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How Did I Miss This Story?

Must have been hibernating -- I live for this stuff. More than a decade ago, I headed off to law school with dreams of becoming a sex crimes prosecutor. How I ended up as a homeschooling mom is a long, sad story (with a happy ending, because I am, after all, a homeschooling mom).

Anyway -- wow, what an interesting story. A brief summary for those not interested in reading it -- a woman was drugged and raped at a fraternity in 1984. She received an apology in the mail from the perp as part of his 12 step program. Long story short, she has reason to believe he's not coming completely clean (she suspects it was a gang rape or at least it was spectator sport and he's pretty dismissive on the point). His apology is what we like to call "an admission" and she forwards it to the appropriate police department. He is prosecuted and takes a plea agreement. Two years. Looks like he got off a bit lightly because the prosecutor is looking in it being a gang-rape. Hope that means they'll find the others. I say subpeona everyone in the fraternity that year -- come on, someone put something in that drink, at least another frat boy shoved her back at the perp when she was screaming and trying to get away. There were more who at least knew what was going on and I'm guessing this wasn't an isolated incident.

The article was interesting because it mentions that the victim has been contacted by "Christians" criticizing her for "pressing charges" and admonishing her to forgive. One thing I was taught at the prosecutor's office where I worked was that the victim doesn't "press charges" the charges are the State's the victim is a witness. Sure, the victim can make things hard for the State and refuse to cooperate, but its not the victim's case. Of course, I think this victim should explore her civil remedies, in which case she would be pursuing him in what some might call an "unforgiving, unChristian" way. Well, good for them. Me, I'm a harpy.

Anyway, this leads me to all recriminations of Christians in the Episcopal church these days. To recap, some are annoyed over the consecration of a gay bishop in New England ("unbiblical and all that." Can't help but wonder why these people don't go Catholic, didn't the Anglican church start off by kicking out church doctrine of the day -- no divorce and all that? So why should anyone be surprised that the Episcopal Church is continuing the trend?).

The non-gay bishop of Virginia voted in support of the prospective consecration of the gay bishop (for various reasons) and I guess that was the 'green light' for some conservative parishes to try to take the money and run. Only they aren't running, its a land grab. They are incensed about there being a homosexual bishop, don't mind the "adultery" issue of many of their twice-married priests and bishops (the Bible goes on about divorce and remarriage, not just homosexuality). Now, these parishes are attempting to separate from the diocese while also kicking out any members who are not hate-filled homophobes (am I editorializing?). Lots of pain and gnashing of teeth. And we're supposed to fear hell? Seems like a lot of people are already there. And this is church? Where we're supposed to find God? Supposed to follow Jesus' teachings? Let he who is not vindictive cast the first stone. Ridiculous -- the defectors expect those loyal to the diocese to leave and call them vindictive if they want to stay. Don't they realize that they could be called vindictive because if they don't like church policy, shouldn't they be the ones to leave? What are they doing in an Episcopal church to begin with is a question I've been wondering. There are plenty of conservative churches and denominations out there. Its all about money, certainly not about God and clearly less about Jesus.

Okay -- where's that rock? I'd like to crawl back under it.