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.

 

The Atlantic: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

Very candid and interesting read…

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/?single_page=true

“It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.”

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!

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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. 

15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

These are an awesome reminder!  Things we should be conscious of and work on every day to help bring us closer and closer to a state of contentment.

This is the link to the original article:  http://www.purposefairy.com/3308/15-things-you-should-give-up-in-order-to-be-happy/

“Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control. Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining. Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take of all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change. Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels. Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears. Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place. “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses. Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past. I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment. This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.”