Thursday, March 3, 2011

I don't homeschool, but I still take my kids to the library.

What is it about some homeschooling parents that makes them believe they are the only ones that teach their kids anything? I follow a lot of blogs of homeschoolers (for other reasons - most are crafty or food blogs, etc.) and lately there has been a, well, a tone.

I am fully willing to admit that there are some advantages to homeschooling. For example, you don't need to deal with school bureaucracy, except in submitting progress reports and stuff like that. You don't have to deal with bad/mean teachers. You don't have to worry that the bus driver is a little too similar to the one on the Simpsons. You don't have to worry about your kids being teased at school (except by siblings). You get to have control over what your kids learn - this has never been something I really wanted, but it seems to be of great importance to homeschooling families, probably the number one reason for doing it for many of them.


However, there are also some disadvantages, right? My school has more resources than I do. Way more resources. And they are gathered together in one place. If I had to run my kids around to all the places I'd need to go to get them the same education as they are getting in our local public school, we'd be car schooling, because we'd never be home. Also, besides bad teachers, my children have had the pleasure of AWESOME teachers. Mostly awesome teachers in fact. They've had to deal with bullies, but they have also made wonderful friends. Settle down, I know homeschoolers have friends too.

noah first day kin school sign

The biggest advantage for me in public schooling is that I don't have to be everything to my kid. I don't have to plan it all or control it all. I know that some families thrive with this, but I can tell you right now that my kids would hate school and me if I was in charge of it all. I love that my kids are receiving a good education at school and then we teach them things we like at home.


This is the issue I've had recently with some homeschooling blogs I've been reading. There is some sort of assumption that if you send your kids out to school, you don't do any education at home. That's simply not true. We do go to the library, all the time. We go camping and teach the kids things in the woods. We do crafts at home. We make recipes to learn cooking math. We are teaching Anna to drive. We help Noah research skateboarding techniques. Both my son and I are involved in book clubs. We take them sledding on snow days and to the farm show in January. We also help with homework, but those are not always proud moments, so lets move on...

anna noah bw sled2

The truth is, while there are many public school parents that don't do a damn thing for their kids education, most of us do a lot. Just like there are very bad examples of homeschooling parents. I love to read what homeschool parents do, because lots of times these are things that I would like to do with my kids too. I have seen very successful homeschooling and public schooling families, and failures in both as well.

I guess my point in this post is to challenge us all to just get along and respect the choices of other people. I actually think a lot of the snarky homeschool stuff I've read is defensive reaction to public school people who think that homeschooling is just moms in denim jumpers teaching math by making lemon scones. I know that it's all that and more. :) Just kidding. I'm sure there are homeschooling moms that don't even own denim jumpers. I've never met any of them, but I'm sure they exist.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chobani - a yogurt that really deserves its own blog post

Have you all tried Chobani greek yogurt? It is freakin' delicious. The pineapple is my favorite. It is super creamy and filling and better than you can imagine. It is 2% fat and I never really knew how important 2% fat could be until I tried this yogurt. "But I can't have 2.5 grams of fat! I'll just die!" No, you won't. And the little bit of fat with all the protein in it will keep you full for hours so you don't polish of your hidden Ben and Jerry's at 3 pm.

There are a few of the fat free flavors that I really like too, like peach and raspberry.

I like pomegranate too, but some people don't like the fact that there are real pomegranate seeds in it. I love those.

I am really looking forward to the new flavors Chobani is putting out:
Mango! Lemon! Yum!!!

These yogurts are more expensive than the puny ones you are used to buying. However, my local grocery store has them on sale all the time for $1 a piece. Besides that, they come in 6 oz portions, and many of the puny ones are only 4 oz. Did I mention 13g of protein?

I have to say that I love this brand so much that I've not tried any others. Anyone have any other recommendations?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


This year I decided to do monthly resolutions instead of the customary New Year's goals. I need a frequent fresh start. My January resolutions were:

1. Run over 30 miles. Not all at once. I'm not crazy. Also, record all workouts in my fancy new running journal. That will actually be harder for me than running 30 miles. Sadly, I'm not kidding. I really struggle to stay organized.

2. Keep my closet clean.

3. Plan meals for all weeks by the end of the weekend for the following week.

4. Scrapbook at least 4 pages.

5. Take at least 31 photos. Good ones. Not one every day, but an average of one per day at least.

How did I do?
1. Ran 30.5 miles in January! Marked each of them down in my running journal!
2. My closet looks as beautiful as it did when I spent an entire afternoon cleaning it out in December. :)
3. For all but one week, I did well planning meals and getting necessary groceries ahead of the week. The one bad week was really bad. I'm a mess if I don't have a plan.
4. Scrapbooked 10 pages.
5. Took many more than 31 photos. Here are some highlights:

photo storyboard January no numbers

My February resolutions are:

1. Run 40 miles. I am already behind schedule so I better get moving.
2. Plan a new recipe into my meal planning each week.
3. Make a dessert at least once a week. I'm not really into dessert anymore, but it makes my family very happy when I make one.
4. Scrapbook 4 pages.
5. Take 28 photos.

Keeping it simple in hopes that I can establish a few habits.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow days - OR- the best part of living in the NE

I LOVE snow days. I loved them when I was a kid and we lived in the upper peninsula of Michigan, I loved them when I lived in Alaska, and I love them now. Our snow day yesterday was of the wimpy variety, not my favorite kind at all. I much prefer the kind where you are stuck. Can't go anywhere and there is an emergency called so that only emergency vehicles are supposed to be on the road.

BUT, it was a snow day none-the-less. I did have to go into the lab for a little bit, but when I got back, we took off to the school and sled down the hills. There is nothing so fun for a mom that to see her kids doing this. Look at the expression on Anna's and her friend's faces!

aa ride1
aa ride2
aa ride3
aa ride4

And how about these photos of my penguin son, sledding on his belly, sans sled?


These two were so happy to have a snow day! So happy to be out in the cold and running around.

anna snowday
noah snowday

And it made me so happy because they were actually happy enough to be sweet to each other.

anna noah bw sled2

After that, we went home, made hot chocolate and warmed up. And then Noah went back outside and spent the rest of daylight penguin sledding down our back yard hill. Totally makes the snow shoveling worth it!

Monday, January 17, 2011


One of the quickest ways to piss someone off is to tell him or her that you do not believe in God. I've always wondered about this, because belief isn't something you choose, really, though you can partially convince yourself of something if you try.

I saw that this year with my son. He is 9 years old and desperately wants to believe in Santa. He knows the truth deep down, but he's really trying. He knows he can ask me if he wants and I will tell him, but he doesn't truly want the truth. He did "google" it and when I asked what he found out, he told me, "Well, it's not good." It about breaks my heart to imagine him, sitting at the computer by himself, entering the search terms, "IS SANTA REAL?"

noah tree
(Noah, Christmas Eve 2010)

Just in case, he insisted we set out cookies for Santa, and only the kind that he figured Santa would like. ("Well I did ask for a lot of stuff this year, mom.") He wants so desperately for it to be true, but I can see in his face that he knows the sad truth.

Religious training in my family was quite thorough. We went to church multiple times a week, I went to church camp (which was eerily similar to that seen in the movie, "Jesus Camp"), I even went to a Christian high school for a year. I was baptized, old school style - under water. Our lives revolved around the church. As a young person, I didn't doubt that God was real, but I did doubt that the Bible was the word of God. I never would have stated that out loud, but I had many problems with the Bible. I'll save my opinions on the ethics of God's behavior in the Bible for another time, but suffice it to say that I do not now, nor did I ever believe that the entire world's population was derived from Adam and Eve, nor from Noah's family (which would have to both be true if the Bible is to be taken literally.)

(Photographic evidence of me at church camp. Can you find me?)

So even as a child, I could not take the Bible literally, even though the church I was raised in most definitely taught it that way. It is easier for me to get the message of forgiveness and renewal from the Lazarus story than for me to actually believe that Christ raised someone from the dead. I'll also avoid the issue that I have with Christian churches for now. I don't believe they are interested in Christ's teachings for the most part. I think they are interested in the opposite of what Christ taught - namely money and self-righteous power. But I'm not talking about that today.

Today I am talking about belief. A Christian friend asked me, "What if you're wrong?" When I asked what if it is she that's wrong, then she said, "Well, then I've just lived a good life, nothing lost, but if you are wrong you go to hell." Of course that's only true if her beliefs and mine are the only options. If the ancient Greeks were right, we're both screwed. But let's say there are only those options, there's no God or there is the Christian God as proclaimed by the protestant church (because she's protestant). Then what? Shouldn't I believe? Shouldn't I put those cookies out like Noah does?


Sure, but I don't. I was taught that God knows everything and is everywhere. Then would putting those cookies out have any chance of fooling God? I'm not being obstinate, refusing to believe. I just don't believe. I can't help it. I've hidden this for most of my life, but it's the truth. I just don't believe in a decision-making God. (If you want to define God as the combination of all the love and life of the universe, then sure, but that's just a way for us non-believers to avoid the atheist label.)

I think like a scientist, because that's what I am. I know there are scientists that believe in God, but not very many, and my scientist friends who are believers do not use the same standards that they apply to science to their belief in God. Of course not. God is all about faith. Science is about proof. I understand that not everyone thinks the way I do. I respect that and I don't get angry with them for believing. Why does it seem to make people angry and sometimes self-righteous and judgmental to hear that I don't believe?


For the record, I try to live by many of Christ's teachings (and those of the Buddha and Martin Luther King, and even Dr. Seuss), because I do want to do good in the world. Not because I fear going to hell, but out of a true sense of morality. I did learn a lot of great things at church. But going to church did not keep me out of trouble and leaving the church hasn't gotten me into it.

I don't want to minimize what gay people go through when they tell the truth of who they are to their friends and family, but I really feel like I just came out of the closet. I suspect, though, that just like the experience of many gay people, most of my friends already know.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The farm show - if you live here, you must go to it.

Which is why I always go. It takes a long time for me to get up to going and this year, I really put it off. We went on the last day, which is Saturday, and pretty stupid for a very crowded event. I am so bad with crowds, but as I said, because I live here, the farm show is an event I must attend.


First things first. We did something smart. The farm show opens for competition at 8 am and vendor exhibits at 9 am. I decided to get there at 8:30. All the exhibits may not be open, but I was pretty sure we could still hang out with the cows. This, my friends, may be the best decision I've made all year. In fact, it is. The year is new and this is the best I've done so far.

Why? Well, we have never been able to park in the farm show parking area. What do you do then? You park off site at the designated huge lot and push and shove to get on the bus. You see why I put this off every year. BUT, this year we got to park behind the building!! It felt like we won the lottery!


Got to see lots of cute animals and didn't have to wait for others to get out of the way. I am not fond of others, especially when they are in the way.

This guy was ticked off! He was yelling at another goat in a neighboring cage. The other goat was flat ignoring him, but I can tell that the minute they get out of those separate cages, mean goat was going to take ignoring goat down.


These guys were just really cute and were penned in an area with decent lighting, so I got several photos of them.


They even have pageants for the animals, shown below. The lady on the left is the judge and she told each person why his or her animal placed well or poorly. One goat, apparently, was not "feminine" enough. Ha!


If you want to know what farm show is like, this photo sums it up. Well, add the smell of cows, a strong smell of them, and you'll have a really good idea of what it's like. Actually, even if you leave out the photo, the smell may be enough to tell you all you need to know.


Sheep were interesting. I don't care for their Klan hats, but they seemed sweet enough. And they get mani-pedi spa days, farmer style.


These photos of the chicks are one reason we will always go early to farm show in the future. Usually there are about 6 layers of people surrounding the incubators, and you are lucky if you can barely squeeze the kid in for a quick peek, let alone a decent photo. We had all the time and space we needed.


There's also weird stuff like this. I lived in San Francisco, where there are not usually goats and cows and sheep, but there are tons of pigeons. We never felt there was anything redeeming about them, but these people do. They esteem them enough to bring them to the show for people to pet.


This horse was so sweet and beautiful. We could not resist offering our hands for it to eat. Luckily it wasn't hungry.


Moving on to what I consider to be one of the creepier things at the farm show, the famous butter sculpture. Ew. Plus, they insist on carving it into human shapes. It reminds me of what humans look like when their parents and grandparents are just a little too closely related. Ew.


Awww... what a sweet family I have.

Here are the obligatory tractor shots. One fun thing for the under 5 crowd is that tractor sales people bring tractors to sell to farmers, and they let people crawl all over them. Because of this, we always photograph the kids on one or more of them. Noah is now old enough to be too cool for tractors. Anna's too cool to care if she's too cool for tractors - they're fun!


Finally, the food. That's the real reason people come to farm show. Everyone has their list of must-have items. For us they are: milkshakes, french fries (although we decided that we will skip them next year - they look better than they taste), potato donuts, and fried cheese cubes.


Good thing Farm Show comes around only once a year. That food is not low fat.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Housemates

I guess it's possible that one day, someone I don't know will read my blog. In that case, it may be helpful for me to provide some information on who I am and what I find important and fulfilling in my life. Today I'll blog about the folks that live in my house with me.

Let's start with my husband, Chris. Here we are in Niagara falls, NY.
IMG_4027 crop copy

I think he prefers this photo of himself. I gave him that hat for Christmas. He claims it is the best hat ever made.

Chris fb profile photo

Yesterday was our anniversary, and he gave me these flowers. It was the first time he's ever sent me flowers. I was shocked. He has given me flowers before, but never sent them. Men really underestimate the power of that gesture.

Also, you may notice that the background on that flower pick is not your normal dining room table or office desk. That's called foreshadowing, folks. Someday I will tell you all about the excitement that is my career.

I am also mom to two really great kids. Anna is 15. I can't wait until next year. Because then she'll be 16 and 16 means you can drive. Mama's getting tired of taxi duty. Here she is singing Bohemian Rhapsody karaoke with her friend Ashely on New Year's Eve.

anna and ashely bo rap

And here she is on the first day of school this year. Beautiful, right? Love that girl.


I'm also mom to Noah, who is now 9. He'll be 10 in a month. Lots more years of driving him around. He's into skateboards and playing outside. He gets along with everyone. Even the bad kid on the street that no one likes. And, he's adorable. I love this face.

noah first day kindergarten

Oh, wait, that was when he was in kindergarten. I can't resist that photo. Almost makes me cry. Here's this year's first day and a cool skateboarding shot.

noah first day close

Noah skateboard 1

And we must not forget about this guy.

Pi 102810

He is Pi, the smartest, sweetest, most wonderful dog. Love him to death.


Yes, he pretty much always has that look on his face. It means, "What do I do now mom? Want me to fetch a ball or roll over or shake?

Here's what he looked like when we got him on Memorial day. So little!


I guess I shouldn't forget the others:

Nemo - he has a problem with catnip.

Pixie - she's a pain in the ass. She's on antianxiety meds to keep her from peeing on everything.

And lastly, Jack. Jack the rat. Anna loves him. He's sort of grown on me. I really wasn't a fan of having a rat live in my house. All in all, he's a lot better than the cats.

jack eats a cheezit

Well, that's us. We don't have a large enough house to avoid each other, so we work at getting along.