Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We've moved!  Follow along with our family's exploits at our new blog:

Secular Homeschooling in Northern Maine

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Celebrations

As we did not celebrate Christmas, neither did we celebrate Easter this year.  As secular homeschoolers we do not observe religious holidays, but as a self-proclaimed tree-hugger, I do make it a point to hold festivities relating to the changing of the seasons (please note: we are not wiccan or pagan, simply secular folk who appreciate our planet Earth).

So we observed the 1st day of Spring, hosting a Spring Celebration, and inviting the kids' cousins to come participate in our festivities. We decorated eggs in recognition of the fertility that Spring brings.  We held the annual egg-hunt outside--yes, that's snow falling.

When the kids came back inside to devour their spoils, I read "A Spring Story" a myth from Anglo-Saxon legend about their goddess of the dawn and springtime.  Her name was Eostre or Ostara.  Not much is known about this goddess.  One legend says that she was always accompanied by a magical hare who could lay eggs, but the story we read told how Ostara transformed a bird into the rabbit, who could then only lay eggs once a year on the 1st day of Spring.

My son Winter has a keene interest in mythology, so the story suited us; however others might have used different literature, or skipped the story-session altogether.

We finished the events off with homemade carrot cake (my first try at carrot cake--it was delicious!).  We all had a good time, but the festivities did not end there.  We finished the day of celebration, by watching the first two episodes of LIFE on DiscoveryHD.  Our family owns the BBC series Planet Earth, and several of their Walking With...documentaries, so we all were excitedly awaiting the première of this new series.  It seemed only fitting to finish this special day with this.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Tubal for Earth Day

I did it, and I'm proud of it.

I gave the Earth the best gift I could think to give her this year for Earth Day (yes, I know I'm a little early, but she won't mind)--I underwent Tubal Laparoscopy, in order to permanently prevent myself from incurring any other pregnancies in my life-time.

A little extreme, you think?

To me, nearly 7 Billion people on this small planet is extreme.

We have a problem with population control.

There.  I said it.  It seems like no one in a political seat or position of power wants to address this "growing" problem.  And so I speak upon behalf of the Earth.  My one small voice, calling out to all the world from my small corner of cyberspace.  Please consider your position on the issue of population control.

This is a small planet.  We do not have unlimited resources, people already go hungry and homeless, and the idea of colonizing other planets to solve our problems is not something we can rely on--or should rely on (morally), for than matter.  It is time for humanity to step up and accept our responsibilities.

The folks at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine, were all super nice.  I feel fortunate to have had them there for me.  My nurse was very conversational, she made me feel welcome and at ease.  The anaesthesiologist was very good looking (always appreciated!--yes, I'm married, but I appreciate good looks no matter who it is!  It's the artist in me.) and he and a fifty-something year-old male nurse, who looked like he could have been a biker in another life, both wore bandanas that reminded me of those that bikers wear.  The whole crew were just fun and efficient, which made the frightening business of being on an operating table easier to deal with for me.

I was put out for the procedure, by my own choice, and when I woke up it was done.  After a couple of days taking it easy, I was up and going again.

I can't tell you what a consolation it is to know that I won't have any surprise pregnancies.  I have two children, both boys, which I am satisfied with (I have no desire to have a girl, so I guess I lucked out there!).  I don't need more children to make me happy, and if there is ever a point in my future when I want another child for whatever reason, I know that there are many, many children all over the world, who need good homes and loving families.

For me, the  biggest reward from this whole experience, is knowing that I've done my part for the Earth.  In many ways, humanity has become a parasite upon her flesh, feeding off her, and if we do not correct our behaviour we are only dooming ourselves.

Laparoscopy for Tubal Sterilization

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Foolish Traveler

The story of the foolish traveler speaks to me on a personal level, since in the past I have been exactly this person portrayed here.  I didn't realize that just because I am good, and decent and kind, that others are not necessarily the same way.  I was cheated, lied to, manipulated, and abused.

Now, in my 30th year, I've faced the fact that evil exists as surely as good does, and while I still go to great lengths to be kind to those who cross my path, I've learned to be a little selfish, and not to take everyone at face-value.

I've learned to let go of those past abuses, and I even accept them as part of life's lessons.  This is the journey I must make, and I will not allow my turbulent past to influence my bright future.  I will go forth to shine my light wherever I may be.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Earns His First Badge and Beads as a Tiger Scout

I've been trying to stress to my eldest son the importance of work in our lives.  Trying to make him understand that we all have to work in order to receive those priviledges we hold so dear (ie-new things, playing on the computer, video games, a new car...etc.).  Last night I think the message might have hit home when he received his first badge and beads from the Scouts (unfortunately I forgot to take the camera with me to the meeting, so this picture is pre-badge).

Winter struggles socially sometimes and has been diagnosed with both Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD--sometimes called Sensory Integration Disorder) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).  Not that I put too much stock in those labels, to me they are a tool only to assist me, and others, better understand how my son's little mind works.

I was really nervous about the Pack Meeting (for anyone not involved with scouting, that's when all of the various groups: Tiger-Scouts, Wolf-Scouts, Webelos, and Boy Scouts, etc. in your area, come together for an event or meeting), since Winter suffers from hyperaucusis (he has super-good hearing!) being in large groups can sometimes be a challenge, especially if there's singing, or a lot of loud clapping, confusing laughter, etc.  But I needn't have worried, Winter did excellent.  He sat right next to our Den-leader, and I sat "far-away" on the bleachers, to watch the Pack and Den-leaders' demonstrations, and the boys receive their awards, badges, pins, beads, etc.  Winter was so small when he went up to receive his, but so proud when he came running to show me what he'd earned.

Getting ready for this meeting was the first time he'd shown so much excitement about the Scouts.  When we first began he was disappointed to find out that he would have to work at the meetings, he began to resist going, but we persevered and last night I think he realized the pay-off for all his hard work.  Hopefully this lesson will stick with him into other areas of his life (say--school-work??).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm Back!

Okay, so I haven't done so well with this whole blogging thing.  But one of my many New Years' goals (I don't like to call them resolutions), is to become a regular blogger.  You know--like-posting regularly.  So I am here today to say that I am back with renewed determination to rekindle my blog.  Yay!

I have a whole list of New Year's Goals this year, but the theme that runs consistently throughout all of them, is this desire to get in the habit of certain routines.  I am a creature of habit, personally.  My eldest son, "Winter", is very much the same.  Winter needs a lot of structured routines, and I am realizing that I have a lot of those same basic needs.  So this year's theme is ROUTINE.

Routines are important for many reasons.  It takes some of the chaos out of life, children like the predictable nature of a routine and function better.  A lot of the research I pulled in preparation for this New Year's goals talked about children and routines, but I think that even adults need routines; pets certainly like to be fed on a routine-basis, and isn't this whole world built upon routines (weather cycle, seasonal-cycle, orbitational cycle, etc.)?  So, I put forth that routines are important for all life, and for you, too.

It can be hard to get in the habit of those new routines though.  I made routines for everything (I made up charts for myself, and routine-charts for Winter that utilized a pec/image system), routines for the chores, routines for the meal-planning, routines for homeschool, and routines for the kids.  I have a routine in place for my garden, and a very specific system (which I will go into more detail about as garden-season approaches).  I have routines for my writing, and routines for the childrens' personal hygiene.  Okay, so this may be a bit extreme for most folks, but you get the idea.

All of these routines serve one purpose for me:  they organize my time, to allow me to be as productive as possible.  In this way I can make the most of my days.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gearing Up for a Great Holiday Season

Well, it's that time of year again.  The holidays are upon us, and I've been busy scouring my oven and cleaning my refrigerator in preparation for the Thanksgiving Feast.  The kids and I have made our Thanksgiving decorations, and our "Turkey-cookies" (following the method advertised on Nickelodeon).

Not that we eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

My husband's family are practically full-blooded Scottish, and it's a long-standing tradition for them to eat Lamb on special occasions (though I think it's just an excuse, since neither my hubby, or his father, like turkey).  So I will be cooking a leg of lamb this year (no worries, it's not my first time!).  I like lamb, if you've never had it--you don't know what you're missing!  I'd never had lamb (psst--it's not actually lamb, as in baby-sheep, it's mutton, but here in America they call it lamb, probably because a lot of people have a bad impression of mutton--can't say for sure) before I met my husband, my family certainly never ate it.  But it's SO good!  Tender, and flavorful, lamb is a delicious roast.

I'm looking forward to the long weekend, my eldest son "Winter" will be walking with his Scout-Troop in the Santa Parade on Sunday.  And, what I'm looking forward to most, this weekend signals the end of hunting season!  I don't like to take the kids hiking in the woods when the hunters are out, even with orange it's just too risky.  But I have this part of me that needs to connect with nature on a regular basis, so during the hunting season here in Maine, we only go out to the Farm on Sundays, when no body should be in the woods with a rifle.  Once the threat of danger is past we can take any beautiful day that comes along, and venture the four miles out of town to the old Burns Farm.

Forty or fifty years ago, the Farm was the typical New England homestead, with cows, pigs, chickens, goats, the works.  It sits near the top of one of the tallest hills in our area, which is fairly tall, as we're located amid the Foothills of Maine, along the northernmost section of the great Appalachian Mountain Range.  Half a mile from the main road, the dirt road runs up to the farmhouse now, but back then it was only serviceable on a seasonable basis.

Now the Farm is a Tree Farm.  Not to be confused with a Christmas-Tree Farm.  The Burns family are growing our own forest.  Trees have grown up tall on the old farm pastures, pines, hemlock, maples, birch, popple, and a handful of oaks, just to name a few.  We have our own personal two-hundred-acre park to hike any time we please, we have high hills, and low-swamps, we have a vernal pool, and criss-crossing the land are skidder-trails, where we've had a forester cutting the "trash-wood" so that the others can grow taller and thicker.

Anyway, I'm excited that we'll be able to go out any day, because I want to take the kids and my pruning clippers, to go cut pine-boughs for the Winter Solstice.  I'm hoping to be able to do our own wreath, and maybe some real pine-bough garland.  We also want to have pine-boughs about the house with other elements of nature, like pine-cones, acorns, etc. to remind us that nature will subsist through the long winter.

We typically make most of our own holiday decorations, this year is no different.  Wreaths are a bit of work, between clipping the boughs and wrapping them, but I've had some experience in my adolescence, so I'm not too bad at it.  I guess I just enjoy it, I love the smell of pine, and the feel of working with the cool boughs.  I love the way the wreaths look when they're finished, and the way you can embellish them any way you like.

So after Saturday, you can be sure, we will be bound for the woods, kids, dog, and clippers (and something to tote all those pine-boughs! probably burlap-bags and a sled).  And we'll probably go back twice more before we get snow!