Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Almost Halloween!

It's almost Halloween, and that means there's work ahead for me. Saturday will be busy in our house. We have to finish the grocery shopping, which shouldn't take too long. Hubby will be spending the day getting the house ready for the new addition(s) (we will be getting 1 or 2 new cats). My time will be split between cleaning, finishing last minute decor, finishing prep for Sunday, and cooking & baking.

Our Dinner for the Dead will be Sunday (Halloween) night. That means that we have to have an actual meal instead of the finger food buffet we generally have on Halloween. We'll still have some of our fun finger foods during the day, though.

Saturday I'll make: pumpkin pie, toasted pumpkin seeds, soul cakes, pumpkin bread, wheat bread, and probably some homemade butter.
Sunday morning, I'll whip up bread stick broomsticks & mummy fingers to put out for lunch. Then, I'll cook the corned beef and my famous baked apples closer to dinner time. I thought maybe I'd toss together a pasta salad, too. Corn will likely be our veggie for the night.

Of course, I can't even start to set up the table until Sunday afternoon. I would really like to start sooner, but the kids would destroy anything I got done. We haven't carved our pumpkins yet. We'll do that tomorrow. Plus, I still have work I need to get done this weekend for the kids' schooling (more on that in another post).

Well, it's almost 2am and I have a busy ahead of me. I guess I should go attempt to get a few hours sleep.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Featured Author - Nov 2010

Ok, we've drawn names for November. Jay has decided that he wants to do a Featured Author each month, just like Dea. So, I came up with a list of appropriate authors.

So for November 2010 our Featured Authors are:

For Dea - J. R. R. Tolkien
Dea will read The Hobbit.
I will read either The Silmarillion or The Hobbit

For Jay - James Howe
He wants to start with Bunnicula & read as many as he can get through by month's end. I'll likely just read the books at the same time or just before he does, so they're fresh in my mind when I ask him questions to check comprehension.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Honoring the dead

We've lost a few family members this year. Last year, we lost even more. Dea is still having a difficult time dealing with this year's losses. I want to make dealing with death easier for her. As I've gotten older, I've gotten better about dealing with death. It's just not really talked about in our society. We don't teach our young how to deal with it. It's a taboo topic many try hard to avoid.

I want to do a better job making sure my kids are ok with death. I've been wanting to incorporate the honoring of the dead into our Halloween celebration, but just haven't figured out how to do it. Well, I think I've figured out how to incorporate it into our yearly celebrations.

This Halloween, we'll be doing a meal to honor the dead. It'll be similar to a Dumb Supper, but without the Dumb part. It just isn't possible for the 4 of us to get through an entire meal in total silence. This will be to honor those we've lost in the past year. Then, I was thinking that we would start celebrating Parentalia next Feb. For those who don't know, Parentalia was a nine day (Feb 13-21) festival of the dead in Ancient Rome. During Parentalia, people would go visit the graves of loved ones, especially their parents, and left offerings of flowers, food, and drinks. It was a time of solemn reflection.

So, I thought that we'd resurrect Parentalia, at least in our home. I figure the supper on Halloween night can be to honor those lost in the previous year, while Parentalia will honor all our deceased ancestors & friends. It simply won't be possible to go visit the graves of all our loved ones, even those that are most important to us. The graves of loved ones are just too spread out. So, I was thinking that maybe I'll create an area in our yard, a special memorial for the people and animals that we have loved and lost. Having something like that here might help them, in addition to celebrating Parentalia, by giving them somewhere to go when they feel they need to talk to those who've gone before.

I don't know what happens when we die. I don't believe that we just blink out like a light. Since I'm not Christian, I don't exactly believe in Heaven & Hell. I do believe that there's something else out there though, something beyond this life. I regularly talk to dead loved ones. I know they're there, listening. Maybe it will help the kids to have a specific place to go to talk to them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

All alone

I'm all alone today. I zombified the kids & sent them out into the world. Their friend is having a Halloween-themed birthday party today. So, I tore up some of their old clothes. It rained yesterday, so they rubbed the clothes in the mud, to get them nice & dirty. I did their make-up & added some blood. I used got2b Smooth Operator to keep their hair out of their faces. Jay didn't want me to use ashes from the grill, so I used baby powder in their hair, for that dusty look. Then, I took them outside & sprayed their hair with a can of that cheapy Halloween black hair spray. They looked awesome!

So, hubby took the kids to the party & I stayed home. I'm in pain. It's been getting worse over the last few days. I slept like crap last night because of the pain. So, I decided to stay home. I think I'll spend the day watching movies & doing my school work.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Last Sunday

Last Sunday, was a great day. We went to the Apple Orchard in the morning. We didn't get to pick our own apples, but we still had fun. We went on a wagon ride, fed animals, did a little shopping and had lunch. We came home with apples, pumpkin butter, 2 pumpkins to carve, and some of the best apple cider donuts ever. I love the Apple Orchard. I try to make sure we gert there at least once a year. We all look forward to it. There's so much to do - pony rides, wagon rides, petting zoo, playground, shopping, pick your own apples & pumpkins. It's a great fun day for the whole family.

When we left the orchard, we came home to drop stuff off. Then, we went over to see if some friends wanted to go to the cemetery with us. Now, most people would look at you a little strange if you walked in & asked "Do you guys want to go hang out in the cemetery with us." Luckily, these friends didn't think we were nuts & happily joined us in the cemetery to do charcoal rubbings of gravestones. After that, we hung out at their house until it was almost Jay's bedtime. We just hung out & talked.

It's great to have a family like that to be friends with. Their kids & our kids get along & enjoy playing together. The husband gets along great with my hubby, and of course we (the women) get along great, too. We all get along & can easily spend hours together. It's so nice to have that, since it doesn't always happen that way. Plus, they're a Secular homeschooling family, too. We have a lot in common. Not that our other friends aren't great, too. They are. It's just that there's a different dynamic with the friends who don't homeschool their kids or who don't have kids. I love hanging out with our other friends, too. I'm just glad that we've finally found a homeschool family that we can hang out with.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Netflix rant

Ok, I love my Netflix & Roku, but there are a few things that could make it a little better. First, I'd love to be able to use it to watch the current season of shows. I refuse to plan my life around TV schedules, so we don't always get to see the latest episode of our fave shows. This wasn't so bad in previous years, but with so much going on this year, we aren't even trying to watch to our shows this season. We're just planning to be a season behind. It would be great if we could add the current seasons to our instant queue & watch when we had the time.
The other thing is that Netflix really needs some new filters. They suggest movies & tv shows based on things in your queue & things you've watched. However, sometimes the suggestions make no sense. I watched Fright Night. So, it then listed movies that were 'Like Fright Night.' The list included The Breakfast Club. Now, seriously, other than both being made in the 80s & both having teens as main characters, these two movies have nothing in common. Now it's telling me that A River Runs Throught it is 'Like Amityville 3-D.' Having seen both of those movies, I can say they are nothing alike. It regularly lists TV shows in catagories of movies. Not the main movie list, but it'll have something like 'Gory Supernatural Movies' and list something like The X-Files Season 1. That's not a movie, that's a TV show.

Ok, that's my random rant about Netfilx.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How we do History pt.2

For elementary school, History is very hands-on, very project-based, in our house. I stay away from textbooks because they're dry, boring, biased, and (often) inaccurate. In fact, I prefer not to use History textbooks for any grade.

When we study Cavemen, we make cave drawings, draw pictures of what we think life was like, and the kids play make-believe that they live in caves. When we study Ancient Egypt, we make pyramids, mummies, learn to write our names in Hieroglyphics, read Egyptian Mythology, etc. Studying U.S. History leads to building a frontier fort, learning to dry flowers, and making a spongeware clay pot. The Middle Ages means building castles and catapults, designing our own coat of arms, and making an hourglass.

We try to make at least one recipe for each time period or culture we study. We also do lots of activities. We've painted Pirate ships, built a Viking longhouse, made a Roman courtyard, and more.

We read lots of books on the topic and watch documentaries. It's not all fun & games. We do some writing, in Project books, Notebooking Pages, or some other kind of project. I do try to keep it mostly fun, though. My thought on it is this: Public school tends to suck the fun out of learning. History and Science, especially, should be fun to study. However, they make you read boring textbooks, write papers, answer questions, and take tests. Where's the fun in that? What happened to the understanding that you learn more when you're interested & involved? What happened to trying to create lifelong learners? Does anyone actually think that the way to create lifelong learners is by boring them to tears? We're not a public school. I don't have a BoE to answer to. I don't have to use the same methods or materials they use. I don't have to answer to the entire city to defend what my school budget was spent on. So, if I want to spend our budget on materials for hands-on projects that make my kids want to learn more about History (or any other subject, for that matter), that's my right. I don't have to do what the public schools do. I can do better.

Now, let me be clear about something here. I'm not saying that YOU shouldn't use textbooks for History. I'm not saying that my kids are getting a better education than yours because you use textbooks & we don't. What I'm saying is that I, personally, don't like History textbooks. I don't use them because they don't fit in with my educational philosophy or goals. My kids would not respond well to them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Challenge

My daughter has low self-esteem. It's something that she has dealt with since that awful year in public school, where she was made to feel bad about who she is. In an attempt to help her see herself in a better light, I'm issuing her a challenge. She prefers not to be the only one to do something, so I'm going to do it too. I thought I'd challenge all of you to do the same.

Here's the challenge:

Make a list of all of your accomplishments, strengths, and gifts. The trick to this is to be completely honest with yourself. No embellishing your attributes to sound better than they are. What we're going for here is a totally honest, objective list of your positive attributes and achievements.

You can make the list public (post on your own blog, post in the comments, etc.), keep it private, or a combination (post part of the list, but keep the rest private). Remember, it's not a contest. You're not trying to outdo your friends, family, or the others who post their lists. This is for YOU. This is something that you can look at, on those dark days when it seems you can do nothing right, to remind you of how amazing and unique you are. This is not a competition. Be totally, brutally honest. If you sound like an injured cat when you sing, don't put 'fantastic singer' on your list. If you only got through 1 semester of college, don't put 'have a Ph.D.' on your list. You won't feel good about yourself if your list has lies or embellished truths on it. Things that you have overcome count, too. If you were a drug addict, but you beat it & have been sober for years, that's something to be proud of. If you fought cancer and won, put that on the list.

I'm going to keep most of my list private, but thought I'd post a few of the smaller things. I didn't separate the list into accomplishments and strengths & gifts. It's all mixed up together. So, here's my partial list:

1. was a published poet before age 16
2. fantastic at cooking/baking
3. creative & artistic
4. was swimming like a fish by age 7
5. graduated high school, on time, while taking care of an infant

This has been a really difficult task for me. I am a harsh critic. Maybe it's due to my perfectionism or the years of having my family tell me I wasn't good enough (or both), but I am very hard on myself. I always seem to see what I could have done better or what I should have done, instead of really being able to see what I did as an accomplishment, even if there wasn't anything that I could have realistically done differently. I also tend to underplay many of my gifts & strengths. I have a hard time accepting praise or even admitting talent for most things that come naturally to me, because I didn't have to work for it. I've always seen the things I had to work for (like learning organizational skills despite my untreated ADHD) as being more meaningful than the things that come easily to me (like cooking, baking, swimming, etc), with very few exceptions.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


A few weeks ago, I did a post about Dust & how I got to read the first few chapters as one of my Buzz Campaigns. Well, I finally got a copy of the book the book so I could read the rest.

I'll admit that I haven't read a lot of zombie books. Most of my zombie exposure comes from movies. This is not your typical zombie story, though. For one thing, zombies aren't mindless animals who can't control themselves. This is obvious from the beginning, as the book is told from the point of view of a zombie. It's about her life as a zombie and the zombie gang she lives with. I don't want to spoil it for you, so that's I'm telling.

It's a fun read. It isn't spectacular literature. There are grammatical errors, sentence fragments, etc. My High School English teachers would have cringed if I had handed in something written like this. However, not all reading has to be perfedct grammar, perfect sentence structure, large vocabulary, etc. It's a book you pick up to read for pure enjoyment, not to study as an example of great literature. Now, it may not be great literature, and may never be considered a classic. However, it's not bad writing. It doesn't drag. It doesn't take half the book to get your attention. It isn't full of swear words and racial slurs. It's not action-packed, full of explosions and uber-graphic descriptions of blood & guts flying everywhere, either. It falls somewhere in the middle. It's a fun, easy read, something you pick up for entertainment value. It's easy to see the world through Jessie's eyes, and that's important.

It's a zombie story. So, there is blood guts, death, and the walking undead. There's a few swear words, but not an extreme amount. There is no sex or nudity. This is a book that could easily be read by a child 12 or above and not be damaging or inappropriate. If you are fan of zombies, pick this one up. It's a book sure to be enjoyed by many.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How we do History pt.1

Someone had expressed an interest in what we use for History in the early years, so I figured I'd do a series of posts about how we do History.

When Dea started homeschooling, way back in 1st grade, it was a trial year. So, I wanted to keep to what public schools did, just in case we decided homeschooling wasn't for us. So, that year she did U.S. History & World History. I didn't like it. It just doesn't make sense to cover the Ice Age, Cave Men, Anceint Egypt, Columbus, and the Pilgrims all in the same year. So, we have changed to a more logical Scope & Sequence since then.

We aim to cover History chronologically, though interest sometimes takes us off track for a time. While studying U.S. History, we also try to include what was going on elsewhere at the time. Dea had covered History up to modern times by the end of 5th grade. Last year (6th grade) and this year (7th grade) the History focus was/is Wars. By studying them in-depth, at an age when she is capable of truly understanding their causes, implications, and effects on the world both during and after the war, we can glaze over them in earlier & later years, placing more focus on daily life for each time period. Because we focus exclusively on wars for those 2 years, we can focus on other aspects of History during our History studies in other years. We can spend more time on what life was like for the masses instead of wasting time memorizing dates of battles or who was on what side. It's not that we skip the wars in other years, we just don't put a very heavy focus on them.

After the 2 years on Wars, we'll start High School History. I have decided to do this differently than the public schools do it. Public school (and every homeschool History curriculum I've ever seen) does a generic overview. World History will cover huge chunks of time, spanning many different eras. U.S. History is all of our History shoved into one school year of study. You can't go in-depth with that. There's no room to focus on specifics or go off on student led tangents. It makes History dull & lifeless, which is the opposite of what the subject should be.

I've chosen to allow the kids to choose specifics that they wish to study instead. I simply give a minimum number of High School History courses; they chose what to study for each. Dea has actually gone beyond what I require. She has chosen: 1 year - in-depth, comparative study of Ancient Civilizations; 1 year - Middle Ages & Renn.; 1 year - study of American Indian tribes & cultures; and for her 1 year of U.S. History - Colonial Times, Salem Witch Trials, Pioneers, California Gold Rush, Prohibition, The Great Depression, and Women's Rights. So, instead of doing a generic overview, where she spends a short time studying each period or event, she gets to go as in-depth as she wants on specific areas that are of great interest to her. This makes more sense to me.

I don't like the way schools do History, so I try to do it in a different (and in my opinion, better) way. My main issues with how schools teach History are:
1) It is not taught in a chronological order. Pharoahs & Columbus are covered in the same year, and that makes no sense.
2) History seems to revolve too much around war. Think about it. We study the Revolution, the Civil War, the French & Indian Wars, World War I, World War II, the War of 1812, the Hundred Years War, the Korean War, etc, etc. Can you think of a single year that you were in school that you didn't study a war in History class? I can't.
3) Once the U.S. has been established, the rest of the world ceases to exist, unless there is an event (usually a war) that involves the U.S. & other countries, such as the Industrial Revolution.
4) Events are only covered from one perspective, generally the perspective of the winners. In U.S. History, this means leaving out important info, skipping events, and teaching fanciful lies & fictitious stories as truths, because that paints us in the best light.
5) History should be enthralling. It is full of life, emotions, exciting events, and interesting facts. Yet, History textbooks, and the quick overview method of covering History, make it boring and difficult for the student to relate to. It becomes about memorizing dates & names. It should be about understanding the lives and cultures of other times & places.

In the next part of this series, I'll discuss some of the materials we use for History.

Monday, October 11, 2010

You want me to do what?

The other day my hubby asked me a question that I wasn't expecting. He asked if I would consider getting back into singing.

For those who don't know (which is most of you), I use to sing. I sang all through grade school. I was in the choir for school performances & sometimes more prominent roles. I was in Show Choir. We would perform in public places, especially around holidays. I LOVED to sing. I was always practicing at home, singing any & every song I heard.

You might be wondering why I stopped. Well, simply put, it was because of my family. My mom told me regularly that I couldn't sing, had an awful voice, couldn't carry a tune. In fact, I would be willing to bet that she said "You couldn't carry a tune in a bucket" (her favorite comment on my singing) more often than she said "I love you" or "I'm proud of you." My dad, who likely had no idea how much singing meant to me, was always telling me to be quiet. My aunt flat out told me that I couldn't possibly know the lyrics to a specific Christmas Carol (which I had performed several times by the time she told me this) because it was a difficult song & even she didn't know all the words. My parents never even showed up to my school performances. I have one very specific memory of them not showing up, though. I was in 1st or 2nd. We were doing a performance of T'was the night Before Christmas & various Christmas Carols. I was the wife. My two best friends were my kids, and the obnoxious boy who always chased me around the playground trying to look up my skirt (when I wore one) was my husband. I not only had to sing in front of people (I've always been shy & this was one of my first performances), but also had to be on stage in my nightgown. I was terrified. On the night of the performance, we pulled up outside the school. My sister & I got out of the car, and my mom said "We'll be back to get you when it's over." She then drove off. I was the only one on stage whose parents weren't there. I can clearly remember that night. It was the day I learned not to expect my parents to support me or care about anything that was important to me. It's a sad thing when you learn (at age 6 no less) that your parents can't be bothered to act like parents. I can not remember a single time that they ever showed up for one of my performances. Not one.

So, I have no confidence in my ability to sing. Years of smoking affected my voice, and the pneumonia I had last year affected my lung capacity. I still sing, but think even less of my voice than I did when I was younger (for now). Luckily, I no longer care what they think of me. I'm going to work hard at this. I'm going to sing again. To hell with anyone who doesn't like it! This is my life and singing is a passion of mine that has sat on the shelf for far too long.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week in Review

I was going to take the kids out today to go do some charcoal rubbings. Unfortunately, we never made it out to do that. We had to do grocery shopping this morning, and by the time we got home my back was killing me. I've been dealing with muscle spasms for about 2 weeks now & am wuite tired of it. Hubby was working on his sister's car, and Dea spent most of the day helping him. Jay stayed in with me. We did some of the activities from his Magic School Bus Human Body kit. We made a bone with a ball & socket joint, made a stethoscope, and a leg model that shows how muscles work. We read a little about the Trojan War, and we watched a dvd about the human body.

We really haven't done a lot this week. Mostly, we read. The kids spent some time on educational sites & watched a few educational shows. They played with the geoboards and the electric kit. They each made a solar oven & used them to bake cookies. I think this next week will be more productive. We're all still getting used to not doing all the formal schoolwork. Both kids have decided that they want to do all the projects & activities that I had originally planned. Dea has been informed that, in order to do the Biology Labs, she will first have to do the bookwork that goes with them. She said she's fine with that. Jay loves the idea of just reading a ton of books from the library & doing lots of projects & activities. He wants to continue with his Latin & his Math. I'm not going to stop him. I'll be happy to work on those with him. Dea isn't going to continue with her Latin, but wants to do Latin with Jay instead. That way, they're both learning the same words & can talk to each other. She's also offered to help him practice his Math. I honestly think that Jay will finish most of his schoolwork by the end of the break. He probably won't do the Notebooking Pages, and he might not finish ETC, but I'm pretty sure he'll do the rest. He might even start on next year's topics early. Dea, I'm not so sure about. I doubt she'll do her Math at all during this break. She might do her long-term paoject for Geography, but probably won't do the bookwork. She might do her Biology, because she wants to do the Labs. I'm just not sure what else she'll do. I'm hoping that she'll decide to do the rest of her work, but I don't have very high hopes for that outcome. She doesn't like to do the boring bookwork; she'd much rather stick with the fun stuff. Unfortunately, she's going to have to learn to deal with it. Not all school is fun, and some things are important to study, even if they are boring.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Break Time

We are taking a break from formal schooling. Right now, our whole house is stressed. It's not that we're stressed because of homeschooling. We're stressed because of life. We've had a stressful year and we really haven't taken time to calm down. So, we're taking a break.
The kids can still do school, if they want. Jay has already told me that he plans to continue working on much of his schoolwork. They'll have a limit on computer time and tv time. We'll be keeping journals of what they do each day - what books they read, educational shows they watch, educational websites they visit, educational games they play, what activities they do, and any school work they choose to do. We'll be continuing with our Scientist/Inventor of the month and our Featured Authors.

We're hoping this time will allow us to reconnect. Hubby & I have been fighting more lately, both so frustrated from the constant stress. We've been snapping at each other & at the kids. The kids are fighting with each other & with us every day. The last few months we've spent less time doing family stuff. We're all exhausted. The constant stress is affecting me physically. My back has been in pain for over a week straight this time. My migraines have been more often, my back & neck have been in pain more, and I've had a general under-the-weather feeling for months. We all really need to decompress. We were going to wait until the end of this school year, but have decided that sooner would be better.

I'm not taking a break from everything. I'm going to finish my schoolwork & get my certificate in Child Psychology. I'm going to continue to visit my homeschool forums & Facebook, and I will continue to post on my blog. So, no worries about me disappearing. I'll still be here sharing my thoughts, rants, and stories about the kids & what we're doing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I don't mind ignorance, but....

.....I do mind it when people who are obviously ignorant about a topic insist on talking about it as if they're an expert. Of course, this applies more to some things than to others.

ADHD is one of the things that it bothers me more when people spout  misinformation as though they know what they're talking about. I mean, really, it simply isn't that difficult to get accurate information about ADHD. Some of my biggest pet peeves dealing with ADHD:

Saying "my child is ADHD" Every time I hear someone say that, I want to smack them across the face. Your child HAS ADHD. ADHD is a psychological condition. Your child is NOT a psychological condition, they HAVE one. You wouldn't say "my child is cancer," you would say "my child has cancer." Now, repeat after me.. "My child HAS ADHD."

Claiming that ADHD does not exist because you know someone who was misdiagnosed. Ok, Doctors are people; people make mistakes. Therefore, Doctors make mistakes. Get over it! I have a medical condition called Pelvic Congestion. For those who don't know what that is (which, to be completely honest, is very likely all of you), it's basically varicose veins in the pelvic region. Blood pools in veins, putting pressure on the surrounding area. It's painful & the pain can radiate beyond the pelvic region. My case is particularly fun as it causes pain during & after s*x, the pain often radiates down both thighs & around to my back, and has had me doubled over in pain, unable to move on more than one occasion. Most women don't develop Pelvic Congestion until after their first pregnancy. I was extra lucky, I got it when I was about 11 or 12, less than a year after my first period. It took almost 7 years of tests to figure out what I had. Why am I telling you this? To make a point. The  first time my parents took me to the ER for the unexplained pain that had caused me to collapse in GYM Class, the Doctors were convinced I had Appendicitis. Then, over the next 7 years, they decided it was a stone in my bile duct, a strained muscle, endometriosis, and a whole line of other incorrect ideas. Does that mean that none of those conditions exist, because I was misdiagnosed with them? No? I guess that only applies to psychological conditions, huh?

Using ADHD as an excuse. I can't count the number of times I've heard someone use the fact that their child might have ADHD (I use might have because it happens with kids who haven't been diagnosed as often as it happens with kids who have been) as a way to excuse their bad behavior or poor schoolwork. It seems that the common thought is that it is simply not possible to teach a person with ADHD to behave in social settings. So, we should be ok with your kid destroying our house, breaking our kids' toys, hitting people, etc., because, after all, they do have ADHD. Well, guess what? I have ADHD & so do BOTH my kids. I still discipline them. I would NEVER tolerate behavior like that & just write it off as "well, it's because they have ADHD." If my kids were to destroy property belonging to other people, there would be severe consequences. If they hit someone, there are severe consequences. They do not have a free ticket to run around like wild animals just because they have ADHD. They are not allowed to use it as an excuse for bad behavior or lack of effort on schoolwork or housework. Considering my mom wouldn't admit it was even a possibility that I had ADHD (her exact response when I told her I thought I had it was "You can't have ADHD, you're too smart. Smart people don't have ADHD." to be fair I am Gifted & at that time ADHD was seen as a malfunction of the brain similar to mental retardation & involving low IQ. therefore, many believed it couldn't possibly co-exist with Giftedness), I never got to use it as an excuse, either. People with ADHD can learn to control their ADHD to some extent & we can behave in social situations. Stop letting them use it as an excuse & work with on improving their behavior!

Giftedness is another area where the babble of the ignorant irritates me. Some of my biggest pet peeves regarding Giftedness:

The comment "All kids are Gifted." Ok, how can I say this nicely? Screw being nice - No, they're not. If all kids were Gifted, that would mean all adults were Gifted (because you don't go from being a Gifted child to being an average adult, unless there's brain damage somewhere between your childhood & your adult years). If all adults were Gifted, there would be no Gifted. Gifted means significantly above average. If we were all Gifted, what we now consider Gifted would be Average. Therefore, we would all be Average. Now, all children do have gifts. That is not the same thing as BEING GIFTED. Some kids have a gift for sports (it could be one sport, or many). Some have a gift for music. Some have a way with words, etc. Obviously, some gifts are accompanied by actual Giftedness - Mozart for example. However, that does not mean that everyone who has a talent or gift for something is actually Gifted (Gifted means high IQ, not just good at something).

People who exaggerate their child's abilities or accomplishments to make them sound Gifted. Often, it doesn't take more than one or two of your ridiculous brags to tell us that you're full of it. However, sometimes, a person has done some research on Giftedness, so it takes a little longer to recognize their lies because they start off sounding plausible. Sometimes, you're given away by the lack of consistency within your comments. Sometimes, it's the obvious lack of knowledge of how Giftedness actually works. It really doesn't matter, though. It doesn't matter if we figure it out with your first comment or your 50th. It doesn't matter how we figured it out. It doesn't matter if we call you on it or not. Those of us who are Gifted and those who actually have Gifted kids generally know when someone really has Gifted kids, when someone thinks they have Gifted kids, and when someone knows they don't have Gifted kids & lies about it. Now, my irritation with this is two-fold. It's already difficult enough for those who actually have Gifted kids to talk about our kids' accomplishments without dealing with scorn & jealousy from other parents. You babbling about how brilliant your child is, exaggerating to ridiculous levels, just makes it more difficult for us. My other issue is how awful your kids would feel if they knew that you're so disappointed in not having a Gifted child that you lie about them. That must make them feel awful. Accept your child for they are & stop embarrassing yourself by trying to convince those of us who actually understand Giftedness that your child is any above average. By the way, there is also a huge difference between Bright and Gifted. They are not the same thing.

Claiming that a curriculum is made for Gifted students, when it isn't. This also goes hand in hand with saying stupid things like "skipping grades is a good way to provide a Gifted education." If you don't understand how the Gifted mind works, you should not be making any comments about improving or providing Gifted education. Learning the exact same things as the regular classes, using the same materials, just at a faster pace or sooner (by skipping grades) is NOT a Gifted education. The Gifted mind wants to go more in-depth, not just move faster. The Gifted mind doesn't need the same amount of review & repetition, yet many use the same Math curriculum for the average student, the struggling student, and the Gifted student. The Gifted mind needs to be CHALLENGED. It needs constant stimulation. The Gifted student needs to be allowed to think for herself, not just regurgitate a meaningless list of 'facts' you've told her to memorize. The Gifted student needs to be allowed to think outside the box, not do the exact same assignment as everyone else. The Gifted student needs to be allowed to go at his own pace, pursue his own interests, and not be held back by what someone else deems age-appropriate. The Gifted student needs to be allowed to use her intelligence and her gifts, not to be forced to be just like everyone else her age. As for the so-called Gifted curriculum, I can't count the number of materials I've looked over and/or bought that claimed to be for Gifted students, only to find it way below what even our local district's not-so-Gifted 'Gifted Program' would use. Yet, so many people use these materials & then brag about how their child is doing such 'advanced' work, and how Gifted their child is because their using this so-called "Gifted" curriculum. All these curricula do is to feed into the delusions of those who think they have Gifted kids when, in fact, their kids are quite ordinary.

This is just the short list of my pet peeves regarding the spewing of misinformation by the ignorant. I often stay away from blogs about these topics, forums for these topics, and threads about these topics on regular forums. I've gotten so tired of reading the ramblings of the clueless. I've taken breaks from homeschool forums because I was tired of reading the constant bs and it had gotten to the point where there was hardly a thread that wasn't loaded with ignorant comments about one of these topics. I try to find the humor in it. I try to joke about it. I try not to be irritated by it. Maybe some day I'll be able to have a totally zen attitude about it and not get annoyed when someone lies about their kid, calls someone a bad parent because they're considering medication for their child's ADHD, etc. Until then, however, my poor husband will have to continue to hear my rants. You, dear readers, at least have the option to skip reading a rant if you don't feel like being subjected to my not-so-fuzzy posts.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Scientist/Inventor of the Month & Featured Author

Well, it's October. That means we have a new Scienctist/Inventor of the month & a new Featured Author. For those who don't know what I'm talking about.....

Starting last month, we are learning about a different Scientist or Inventor (or both) each month. It's not a full study, just something extra. We're reading books about them & discussing what life would be like without them & their inventions or discoveries. If we have time & opportunity, we'll also do some activities or experiments related to them & their work. Last month was Thomas Edison.

Dea and I have also started a Featured Author for each month. Again, this started last month. We wrote down the names of many authors, on slips of paper, and tossed them into a container. Each month, we draw a name and each of us will read at least one book by that author. Last month's author was Jules Verne.

Our Scientist/Inventor this month will be Benjamin Franklin. We've already picked up a few books about him to read.

Our Featured Author this month is Anne McCaffrey. We picked up some books at the library while we were there this week. Dea will be reading Powers That Be, and I will be reading First Warning. Neither of us have ever read anything by her before, so this will be a new experience for both of us.   

Jay wants to do a Featured Author, just like his big sister. However, we can't have him read the same authors that Dea & I are using for our  Featured Author. Dea's been reading at a high school level since 3rd grade, so we're reading books for high school students & adults. Jay, while reading way ahead of grade level, isn't to that point. He's reading at a 4th grade level, which is awesome for a 6 year old. However, I don't see him being ready for Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Ayn Rand, Alexandre Dumas, etc. So, I will be coming up with a list of authors for doing a Featured Author with Jay. We'll start his next month.

October is Finally Here!

It October! October is one of my favorite months. It ranks right up there with May, though for different reasons.

October is when the Halloween decorations go up. Hopefully, they'll be up by the end of the weekend. October is the month of horror movies. Every night in October, I watch a horror movie (at least one). The kids watch Halloween-themed or 'scary' movies most days in October. This year, Dea is going to get to watch some movies that had previosly not been allowed. After all, she'll be 13 in less than 6 months. I think it's about time she was allowed to watch some of the movies we'd considered too old for her in previous years.

October is a month of beautiful Autumn weather. It's a month of gorgeous colors, fatastic scents, lots of baking, relaxation, and pure enjoyment. There have been a few years when October & Halloween were not the typical times of enjoyment for me, but not many. Halloween decorations have already started going up. I'll do some more as soon as the back spasms stop.

I'm so glad October is here. I really need this month. No one is allowed to get sick or injured. There can be no deaths or emergencies. I need this month. I need my fun-filled, beautiful month of relaxation, horror movies, fantastic weather, and peace. This is when I recharge, rejuvinate from such a straining year. I didn't really get that last year. I need it this year. I'm stressed & struggling. I need to relax & unwind. This is the month for that.