Riding the Homeschooling Rollercoaster

So, I started homeschooling this past fall.  People are constantly asking me, “WHY?”  (and on our crazier days, sometimes I ask myself the same thing):).  Lucky for me, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to explain why in an article for a site dedicated to mothers – Grow Mama Grow.

http://growmama.com/education/riding-the-homeschooling-rollercoaster/

So, now you know :). And now you know why I’ve been a bit behind in my post.  More on that soon.

 

Look Mom! A Cow Eating a Lollipop!

Yes, ladies & gentleman.  The latest and greatest in cow feed.

CANDY.

You think I jest?  Check out the latest in a Reuters article that was posted September, 23rd.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/23/us-usa-cattle-candy-idUSBRE88M05N20120923

“(Reuters) – Mike Yoder’s herd of dairy cattle are living the sweet life. With corn feed scarcer and costlier than ever, Yoder increasingly is looking for cheaper alternatives — and this summer he found a good deal on ice cream sprinkles.

“It’s a pretty colorful load,” said Yoder, who operates about 450 dairy cows on his farm in northern Indiana. “Anything that keeps the feed costs down.””

Thanks to a drought, and a bad crop this year, feed costs have become incredibly high – and this was the apparent solution – expired candy.  So…let me get this.  We don’t feed it to our children.  We won’t eat it ourselves.  But we will eat animals -that are meant to eat grass – eat this crap?  I mean corn-based diets already cause enough problems for these poor animals.  According to food blog Fooducate,

“Animal nutrition experts agree that ruminants such as cows are able to ingest and digest a wide variety of foods (unlike birds and pigs), but this seems to be quite an extreme. Cows eat grass, that’s what their digestive system was designed to do.

The factory farm practice of feeding them mostly corn (highly subsidized by the government) is already problematic – it messes up their liver and digestive system, requiring constant medication. Now these poor animals are being subjected to gummy bears full of artificial ingredients, preservatives, and what not.” http://blog.fooducate.com/2012/10/04/beef-corn-fed-grass-fed-and-now-candy-fed/

Imagine what this new switch towards expired sugary treats means for them!   More problems for the cows?  More antibiotics/hormones to cover up the issues?   This is insane!   An all time low.  There should be way more being done to regulate animal feed.   I know most people will say, “Buy organic.”  But not everyone can afford it – so what?  They aren’t entitled to healthy living and healthy eating if they can’t afford it?  Their options are limited to sugary fake juices and sub par burgers from candy-fed cows (amongst other things which would probably turn your stomach)?  It’s a broken system where money reigns supreme.  Ethics have gone by the wayside.

Really fuming at this…

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

In light of the summer season, this is a really important read.

FOR FULL ARTICLE:  http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/

 

“Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

(Source: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006 (page 14))”

 

 

 

CNN Money: A Harvard MBA’s Radical Quest to Erase His Debt

Amazing and inspiring!  It’s sad that a quality education costs so much, and even sadder that the interest rates are crippling.  But our culture has a lot to do with the debt we are willing to allow ourselves.  This guy really has his head on straight!  Kudos to him!

____________________________________________________________

Link to article:  http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/05/16/student-debt-business-school/?iid=HP_LN

B-school grad Joe Mihalic went on an extreme financial diet to pay down over $90,000 in debt in just seven months and charted his story through an anonymous blogging project.

Lisa Bloom: How to Talk to Little Boys

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-boy_b_1473167.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl19%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D157864

 

“My friend Oliver is 12 years old. I give his single mom a break every now and then, and he comes over to hang out. He’s a whiz on a skateboard, has some killer dance moves, and radiates angelic sweetness. “You’re a good person,” he said to me once, apropos of nothing, getting me all choked up. He sees the best in everyone, though his own life has included years in a homeless shelter and an abusive dad. Recently, I saw Oliver on a sunny California day. We were outside at the pool, eating watermelon and relaxing. He loves to talk about his Xbox or Weird Al YouTube videos. Instead of going there, I asked Oliver, “Read any good books lately?” In response, he mumbled, “I guess.” Books aren’t Oliver’s thing. I know he’d rather talk about basketball, or sneakers, but I wouldn’t, and I was on a mission.

“What’s your favorite book?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said, staring off into the distance.

Oliver reads only when absolutely required to. You’d never find Oliver sneaking a book under the blankets with a flashlight, as I did growing up. (The midnight glow from his bed would be an iPhone app.)

When I had this moment with him, I was in the midst of writing, “Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools, Mass Joblessness and Thug Culture.” I had been researching all the cultural forces that are dumbing down our boys. So I needed to drill down to the root of the issue.

“Do you like reading, Oliver?” I asked him.

“Sure,” he said, unconvincingly, in that way kids tell you the answer they know you want to hear.

“Really?”

“Well, like, if there’s nothing else to do, it’s okay,” he allowed. “Like if you can’t play sports or watch video games or play with your friends.”

There’s a ringing endorsement.

“Do you think reading is girlie?” I asked — an appalling attitude I’d found in my research — keeping my face as flat as possible. I’d first read that in Peg Tyre’s “The Trouble With Boys,” and I’d found this attitude in many boys I interviewed. Last year, I wrote “How to Talk to Little Girls,” and I was thrilled when it went viral, being read and shared by millions around the world. Parents were passionate about encouraging girls to embrace their intelligence and love reading. What I didn’t realize was that getting parents to instill the same love of literacy in boys was much harder, due to our cultural stereotype that boys are better for more active activities, like sports.

“No,” Oliver said he didn’t think reading is girlie, possibly giving me the answer he believed I wanted. But then, he blurted out, “A lot of my friends do!”

“Why do you suppose they think that?”

“Because we’d rather do stuff,” he said, gaining steam now on behalf of his “friends.” “When you’re reading you’re just sitting there. Girls don’t mind sitting around, but we’d rather be skateboarding or something where we’re doing something.”

I didn’t get sidetracked and tell him that, hello, we do mind just sitting there. Instead, I pressed on and asked what books he has enjoyed. Oliver could name only one book series he likes, “39 Clues.”

“Did you know that reading used to be considered more of a boy thing?” I continued. He looked out at the horizon, enduring my questions. “No. Can we go swimming now?”

*****The implications of the news that girls have surpassed boys in reading — at every grade level, in all 50 states — and that girls are graduating high school and college with better grades and in larger numbers have not been fully absorbed by parents of boys. Show me a valedictorian, and odds are she’s a she. Top 10 percent of your kid’s class? Probably crowded with girls. Bottom 10 percent? Where the boys are.

Some parents, even teachers, have a fatalistic attitude about this, and reduce expectations for boys. The new cultural trope is that girls naturally mature faster, that they have better innate verbal skills, and so pushing young boys to read is unrealistic and vaguely unfair to their boyness. (Then how do we explain that all three winners of the last Google science fair were girls?  Do we now believe that girls are just better at everything?) Let ’em be boys! Let ’em play!

No. We cannot accept diminished prospects for our sons, because the implications for their lives are so dire. There’s nothing innately male about illiteracy. Boys today do worse on national reading tests compared to their own gender a generation ago. There’s no mystery as to why boys have slipped. Boys read significantly less than girls, and less than their dads did when they were kids. Nine out of 10 boys today do not read for pleasure — at all. As one boy put it: “I’d rather be BURNED AT THE STAKE than read a book!”

Where do boys get this new, crazy idea that reading is “girlie”?

From us. After all, Mom is usually the one who reads for pleasure at home, not Dad. (Women read almost twice as many books as men.) Typically, Mom reads the kids their bedtime story. Mom takes the children to the library or the bookstore. Dad throws a ball with them. At school they are read to or encouraged to read on their own by their (usually) female teachers, while their team coaches are (generally) male. Children’s books reinforce this by portraying girls more often as readers and boys more often in action roles in illustrations in children’s books. (Think Hermione Granger, the prodigious bookworm, in the Harry Potter books.) For birthdays, holidays, or “just because,” we give books as gifts more often to girls and sporting equipment to boys. Kids get the message early, despite our best intentions: Girls read, boys do not.

Time to turn that ship around. Because the path for our nonreading boys is perilous, truly. Poor readers – mostly boys — struggle to read textbooks and tests in all subjects. They get suspended, expelled, flunk out and drop out at alarming rates – the majority of our African-American and Latino boys (who have the lowest reading proficiency of all) drop out of high school, with white boys faring only slightly better — why isn’t this the lead story on every newscast?

While writing “Swagger,” I looked closely at the soul-crushing forces that pound our boys:  popular music that celebrates punching your girlfriend, gunning down your rival, attacking gay men, popping pills. Education cuts that leave teachers out in the cold, literally — teaching classes outside — or begging for books for their overcrowded first-grade classrooms on charity websites. Uneven law enforcement sweeps in working-class neighborhoods that can land a minor in adult prison for years on a first-time drug-possession offense.

New prisons are being built every day, waiting to house the next generation of American boys.

Oliver’s not going there. Not on my watch.

The good news is that the research offers clear, cheap, doable solutions, starting with raising expectations, rewarding values of humility and effort, and minimizing his “screen” time (TV, video games, computers). After combing through the studies, interviewing parents, teachers, and experts, I came up with 10 rules for raising smart, strong, ready-for-the-real-world boys. Parents, I hope you’ll read them all in “Swagger,” but here’s an important one right now:

Make your home a reading mecca. Model for your boy that reading is your default pleasure activity, one you take up eagerly and put down reluctantly.

Kids with parents who read for pleasure are six times more likely to do so themselves — and their grades shoot up. Which is why I talk about the books I love, and ask kids about their favorites, every chance I get. I’m intentionally role modeling for them that books and ideas are something adults value.

Before I let him jump in the pool, I told Oliver that I’d just read the entire unsettling Hunger Games trilogy, recommended to me by my daughter. “This may be too violent for you,” I said, calculatingly. “Hm, I don’t know, you’re probably too young for it.”

I wasn’t born yesterday.

Oliver’s eyes shone. “I heard about that one! I heard there are games and kids fight to the death!”  Then, “I’m not too young for it!”

I’m not above manipulating a 12-year-old to get him to read, and you shouldn’t be either. Check out my lengthy “Books Boys Love” reading list at the end of “Swagger,” ask his teacher or school librarian what’s hot with boys right now, get him to read the book before seeing the movie. Take him to the library, the bookstore, book festivals. Bring him to lectures at your local college and author events in your town or online. (I call on kids first at my events.) Program all his favorite grown-ups to enthuse about their favorite books in his presence. Put up bookshelves in every room in your house, yes, even in that favorite male reading venue, the bathroom. Read to him, read with him, read side-by-side nightly. Listen to audio books together in the car. When you’re called to dinner, beg to finish your chapter, and let him finish his.

Push reading as if his life depends on it.

Because, just about, it does.

Lisa Bloom is an attorney, television commentator, and the New York Times best-selling author of “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.” Her Huffington Post article “How to Talk to Little Girls” was one of the most-shared pieces on Facebook in 2011. Her new book, “Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools, Mass Joblessness, and Thug Culture” is available now. 

Total Insanity…School Loans & Loan Forgiveness

The interest rates on student loans is ridiculous….criminal actually, as are some of the stringent laws associated with student loan repayment.

However, I don’t know how I feel about the idea of forgiving student loans in its entirety.  People took loans, knowing the cost of these loans and that they would have to  be repaid.  There is a responsibility in that, and as adults, you know that going into it.  There’s something to be said for making wiser choices and being held accountable for those choices.  I was fortunate enough to have my parents pay for undergrad (and I know that’s not everyone’s experience).  However, I paid for grad school myself, by working full-time and going to school part-time and saving up for every coming semester.   I purposely chose a cheaper state-school program specifically for that reason, so I could pay for it as I attended.  The program I chose was also probably not as good as some of the other ones I had considered (to be fair), and I specifically looked for a place that offered a part-time option so that I could work and go to school at the same time.  The difference in cost, vs. the difference in how much more attending a private school would allow me to make didn’t make chosing a more expensive option worthwhile. (Unless you’re looking at a top 10 program at one of the Ivy Schools, then you can probably make the argument that the  name, along with the networking opportunities are worth the upfront cost.  But that also depends on the type of degree.  In business or law that might make sense, or if you’re pursuing a PhD in certain fields, but for most degree programs, if there is a cap as to how much you will realistically make regardless of where you attend school – it might not give you the return on the investment you initially thought).   Anyway, I made sure I had no other debts and watched my spending and lived within my means.  Yes, I would have liked to go full-time.  Yes, I would have liked to go to a more prestigious private school vs. a state school, but in the long run, I just didn’t think the burden of debt was worth it.

Having said that, I DO think the interest rates should be reduced, or at least that should be forgiven, and if someone has already paid more than what was originally owed, they should be eligible for some sort of loan forgiveness. Likewise, those who can’t find jobs should be given amnesty until they do find employment of some sort…and again, the biggest culprit in this whole thing is the horribly high interest rates.  It practically guarantees you never get out of debt.  If the government could bail out wall street, at the very least, I think they could do that much for the next generation of workers in this country.