Monday, June 25, 2012

Conforming or Individualizing

Allowing a child a sense of self is liberty and authenticity. What has made America great in the past was our individuality, self reliance, and ingenuity. If we don't nurture this, we become march-steppers in a societal design of others; we become institutionalized.

I don't mind that my children choose to do things on their own, under my supervision. I'm there to provide the material and intellectual resources, and emotional support for their ideas, projects, and creations. Meanwhile our local neighborhoods are empty; parents are at work, and children are in structured activities with very little free time at home. When they do get free time, they don't know what to do with it; and the home is not set up for home activities. There is no established routine or tradition at home for supervised free play.

This has been on my mind lately because we keep coming across grumpy over-scheduled, over-tired families; parents who are not allowing their children to act their age, and are expecting mature behavior from young children. The yelling, berating, and stressed-out controlling behavior toward their children is awful to have to see and hear(for me or my it was at the library, and very hard to ignore). I wonder if it is just my area? I don't notice it when we go out of state, but then we are in vacation areas, so most people are relaxed. It can't be a very happy existence to live like this. Life seems very compartmentalized, as if parents no longer feel qualified to care for and nurture children outside of school.

Now there are de facto recreation and socialization specialists who take over after school hours. These take the form of camps, sports, and structured activities run by "experts", and always the children are divided up by age categories. Parents spend their time hovering in the background, providing taxi service. This style of child rearing is considered superior, normal, and responsible in our area. The pressure to conform among peers, both parents and children, is very strong. A mention of a relaxing low key summer for the children inevitably gets a fish-eyed look. It seems so odd to me because I spent summers bouncing around my grandparents gentleman's country farm, and at the shore with my other grandparents. These were the best times of my life - freedom and time with some older, very wise, special people.

I make it a habit to keep our (apparent) DIY counter-culture child rearing to myself, as I've heard the ominous warning from local parents, more than once, that a child who has too much free time will end up in trouble and/or socially awkward, and culturally deprived. I can understand this being a concern if the parents are not present, as in a latch-key child, but this seems to still apply, in many people's minds, if the children are supervised at home! Am I not qualified?  I know I am, but how ridiculous are the implications. After a while, you realize that you must go(quietly) on your merry way, and let the others go on theirs - both ignoring and taking the occasional aggressive boundary jumping fish-eye gracefully.

Fun with Paper Cut-out Animals

Cute vintage templates for standing paper cut-out animals from an early 20th century teacher's periodical. Click on image to enlarge and print/save.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Potential Recession Looming?

Faber’s bearish market calls have been followed closely since 1987 when he warned his clients to cash out before Black Monday.

And in a live interview on CNBC’s Fast Money Halftime Report, Faber again warned that economies of the world may be on the brink of a serious slowdown.

Faber indicated that while investors remain focused on Greece and Europe – other issues, bigger issues are looming. And they’re more threatening.

“As an observer of markets – whenever everyone focuses on one thing – like Greece and Europe – maybe they miss issues that are far more important – such as a meaningful slowdown in India and China.”

...“I think we could have a global recession either in Q4 or early 2013." When asked what were the odds, Faber replied, "100%."

Read entire article here.

2013 may be a hard year financially with rising food prices and economic recession. It's a good time to stock up the pantry, just in case.  We are saving and buying ahead in many areas such as food and clothing. I usually do this anyway, but I'm being a bit more aggressive now. Thankfully, there have been some good clothing sales lately at both the thrifts and discount stores, and I'm collecting multiple coupons from ebay for the restocking of my pantry. If you can food, so much the better. I freeze rather than can. We've got a floor freezer filled with food from the garden and sale items.

I'm also getting a lot of medical expenses out of the way now, in case things get bad. I needed to get my varicose veins dealt with and my sleep apnea. By the end of the summer, I should be all patched up, full of energy, and ready to start the new school year. : )

Save, save , save...we just don't know what the future holds, and we all need a cushion to fall back on. Keep it simple, live below your means, think long term, and you'll persevere. Do what you can, and leave the rest to God.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Free Educational Printables

I found a new educational site, Sparkle Box which has some handy free printables. Click on the "source" link above.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

DIY Nursery Decoration

That's a children's book page pasted onto a wooden letter.

YouTube Early Education Videos

Here's my link to our YouTube favorites for early education. I'll be adding more as we find ones which appeal to my daughter. Some of the Indian(SE Asia) ones are really good, even if the English narration is a bit different. So far we have added videos for math, English, and science. Most are animated, and fun, much like Starfall or Reader Rabbit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vegetable Garden Gone Wild

I've neglected the vegetable garden this year, and it's gone wild. I've decided I like it because of the interesting and helpful butterflies, bees, and other insects it has brought. My garden insect pest level is way down, probably because of the flowering carrots and onions, and mix of wild flowers. They seem to be attracting "good" insects which is providing a nice balance. I've got some random broccoli(or maybe collard greens) that came back from last year, which brings in the cabbage butterflies which in turn attracts the parasitic wasps who feed on the larvae. I figure this is an excellent sacrificial lamb for the rest of the plants, so I let the pests ravage the broccoli. The radishes are faring better.

I think this(below) is cucumber. My daughter pulled a Curious George and mixed all the seeds together in the starter pots and planting beds. I have no idea what's growing anywhere! Our mint has spread everywhere and smells lovely when I step through it to weed. It's all mixed up, but very pretty to look at.

Here's a nice chart for companion planting(and antagonists) for your garden. My meandering  mint seems to be a good deterrent for many pests. But, it looks like my cucumber should not be near my potatoes. They are both doing well, so maybe there is enough distance. Maybe I'll separate the two with a row of marigolds, a companion plant for both.

Line Drying Saves Me Money

Harness the sun's energy by running a line outside in your backyard or use individual wooden drying racks on your porch, or a sunny room. We have a line across two fences in the backyard for sheets and towels, and use two drying racks for the "smalls" both inside and out, depending on the weather. For items that need to be hung to avoid wrinkles, I have a portable hanging rack on wheels which holds an entire load of hangable laundry. On bad weather days, I dry sheets by hanging them on the ends of this portable hanging rack. I dry them overnight this way, and they are ready to be put away the next day.

Reportedly, line drying saves me on average $150.00 a year in electricity.

Other benefits include less wear and tear on your clothing(last longer, don't shrink as much), and the natural bleaching action of the sun, if you hang laundry in the sun. Drying my clothes on a hanger negates the need to iron most clothing. By not using the dryer, I don't need to clean a lint trap or worry about the exhaust line needing a clean-out.

Drawbacks - colors can fade in the sun, so should be dried in the shade or indoors. Sometimes turning them inside out helps if the fabric is medium weight. Line drying outside in spring is sometimes not feasible due to pollen. Drying clothes inside the home in a humid climate takes a long time, especially if you don't have a dehumidifier. Drying overnight works best for me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Free First Grade Reader

 Reposted from 2007:

A neat little first reader(mostly boy and dog themed) from 1888, New National First Reader. More at my library.


dog it is a dog

It is a dog.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Complete Old Time Radio D-Day Broadcasts

From my inbox today:

"June 6 is the 68th anniversary of D-Day--the invasion of Normandy by Allied forces in World War II. has two "complete broadcast day" collections available:

* D-Day Complete Broadcast Day 1944 (CBS)[$4.50]
* D-Day Complete Broadcast Day 1944 (NBC)[$4.50]

Buy both of these in the special bundle savings and save 25% this week!

A fascinating listen, you'll hear exactly what listeners heard on D-Day including filler and rare radio programs. On D-Day 1944, radio programs such as Bob Hope, Fibber McGee and Molly and more are interrupted with news bulletins updating listeners to the progress of the allied invasion.  President Roosevelt leads the nation in prayer in for our nation's soldiers.

D-Day Broadcast Articles
Enjoy the D-Day article by author Eric Beheim which is a detailed account of the broadcasts this fateful day.

Also read about a fellow old time radio listener who was in the Army in 1944 and participated in the invasion that day. Lee contributed this insightful article on his memories and role in the invasion on D-Day."

Click here, to listen to free and paid old time radio at OTR Cat.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Stagnating and Slipping Back

I remember in 2001, when I first began homeschooling my son, he was kindergarten age, and we were setting out on one income. Despite this significant change to our household spending money, we were able to enjoy a vacation every year, and take inexpensive plane trips to see friends and family. We enjoyed low property taxes, decent food prices, inexpensive utilities and services, low out of pocket insurance costs and premiums, and a dinner at a restaurant twice a month.We earn more now,  and yet we can no longer swing those special vacations, we almost never eat out, and our food budget has become a juggling act. Our real estate taxes more than doubled with bloated housing values, and the city services and utilities have all gotten more expensive. My out of pocket expenses for medical testing and diagnostics has greatly increased. Insurance premiums are hefty, but you pay it, because you need it with the increased medical charges.

The drain on our money has been gradual; it didn't just happen during the recent recession. I haven't looked at the numbers, but I could swear we are worse off, as far as disposable income, than when we started a one income family in 2001! We are blessed to have employment and a roof over our heads, but even that isn't guaranteed these days. One smart thing we did was to pay off our mortage in about ten years. We plan to live in our current home forever, so it was worth it for us. We'd be struggling if we had a mortage on top of everything else. We'd do it, but it would be just scrapping by.

I pray something will change soon for all the families in America. I'm not bitter, and I love my life. It is the simple things in life that are important, but if we are struggling, what about people who earn less, or haven't the time to do extreme household budgeting? It takes a good amount of time and research to live frugally, and if you are working to keep your head above water, you don't have time or the energy to look for ways to cut corners. Many people are resorting to second jobs to get by. So much for time with your family.

I look back at our disposable income in 2001, and I think we were spoiled; it was nice while it lasted. It's amazing how quickly the new normal becomes an accepted part of life.

Now that my husband and I was in our forties, we are planning retirement and thinking we'll really need to save every bit we can now, to survive in the future.

My advice is to live way below your means, and sock away as much as you can for the future. Be careful about purchasing a house, as the market prices for homes are still bloated in many areas of the country. You don't want to purchase a home that will devalue. Get out of debt, and stay that way. Cut corners and make it a way of life to cut expenses in every area of your life. Cutting back small percentages here and there all add up to big savings. Personally, I think personal wealth will continue to decrease before it gets better. Our current economic state is still lousy. Our country has big debt, below-average GDP growth. and slow job growth.  When we have an upswing in the economy, and we will because these things are cyclical,  that will be the time to kick your savings into high gear.  Save, save, save, or the prospect of eating dog food in retirement might not be too far fetched.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Summer Homeschool Plans

I'm homeschooling my six year old year-round, so I'll continue to post homeschool items for early learning throughout the summer. She's now enjoying Bob Books and Christian Light Education's first grade learning to read program. We also use story telling via art and words. Much of it is her drawing pictures of her stories, and me helping her to incorporate the words she has learned. Weekly trips to the library are anticipated with joy. They have children's computers, a play area, and all the books and videos she could ever want. Inevitably, there are little girls there for her to play with and share the learning computers. The girls always seem to want to "help" each other and work the Reader Rabbit games together, giggling and just falling into the flow of working together. The library is the best of both worlds - free of charge and free unstructured time in a wholesome environment.

 My teenage son is entering high school next school year! How fast time has gone. He has been homeschooled since kindergarten, and now does self study homeschool(Christian Light Education[CLE] workbooks, "Light Units"), which is the way he learns best. He prefers this style over all others, and is a happy clam when he can self direct and met his goals successfully. With all the self help books and internet tutorials, he does very well when we hit a rough patch of learning. During the summer, he'll continue to read classics and Newbery Medal award books. There's a good biography section for young people at our library, so we've pulled a few books from this category throughout the year as well. I like the way our library puts these books, the award winning books and biographies, aside in their own special section, so that I don't have to go searching for them off a list.

My son will be working toward an academic degree via CLE Homeschool Plus, and then he wants to enroll in CollegePlus for his college degree. He has no idea, as of yet, which degree path he'll choose.

Our city parks and recreation department has a few nature classes and swim classes for which we'll be signing up. We've got a beach nearby and the city pool to enjoy. Hopefully, we'll be able to get up to the mountains for hiking again this summer. I've got to get some varicose veins operated on, so it all depends on how fast I recover.

What are your plans?

About Me

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I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here: And a blog: