Friday, October 10, 2008

Sure, I'll get right on that...

...just as soon as I finish looking at this internet procrastination flowchart (updated in 2010 for our increasing technological procrastination needs).

HT: Lisa W.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Exclusively inclusive

One of the biggest challenges inherent of managing an inclusive homeschool network in the Deep South is the overwhelming number of people who just don't "get it." I'm referring to people who join our inclusive organization despite the fact that they clearly do not understand what that word means, or worse still, seem to know but completely disregard the polite boundaries and rules of netiquette that help soften the edges of conflicting opinions expressed on our message boards.

It's not as if we're unclear or obtuse about the nature of our organization. When we (read: Deanna, web guru and PEAK partner in crime) reconstructed the web site, she and I practically bent over backwards to explain just what--exactly--inclusive means.

Regardless, some people have attempted to argue that if PEAK were *truly* inclusive, we'd allow exclusive faith-based subgroups to form within PEAK. I don't understand why that would even seem like an option. There are so many exclusive groups that cater to separatists, so why come here? Joining PEAK with those expectations is the equivalent of saying, "Gee, that inclusive group would be great if it weren't for all that diversity."

That has created its own set of problems. After much debate, we actually had to restrict the posting of prayer requests because it became a creative loophole for members (inactive members who never come to anything and never post to the boards unless they're asking for prayer) to figure out specifically who on the list was Christian (based on responses to their pleas for prayer). Due to the abuse of our inclusive generosity, prayer requests are no longer allowed on the PEAK boards. It was too distracting from on-topic posts, and there were sooo many prayer requests that a new member reading the archives would reasonably question whether or not the group was, in fact, inclusive.

[Side note: Of course, there were loud cries of religious intolerance and discrimination, because as you can imagine, Christians in the Deep South are widely discriminated against. Whatevah.]

Some people have joined PEAK to troll for possible converts. I had one local member who would contact new members off list and engage them in conversation so that she could ask them pointed questions about their religious beliefs. She gave several of our members a thorough "spiritual frisking" before I got wind of it. I sent word to her through the local homeschool grapevine to knock it off. She finally left, but I mean, c'mon.

For some reason, these same people are shocked--shocked, I tell you--when they learn that PEAK does not discriminate against gays, single parents or Pagans. They get angry and leave, but they rarely go quietly. As a result, I have become quite adept at damage control.

Of course, these people are free to join PEAK. We're inclusive, after all. But sometimes, I wish we could put up a banner on the web site that declares PEAK exclusively for inclusive homeschoolers. It would greatly simplify my life.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Personally secular, socially inclusive

In 2004, I started an inclusive homeschool group near Jackson, MS. There was not (and is not) anything like it anywhere else in the state, but I figured there had to be other homeschooling heathens out there, and damn it, I was going to find them.

We'd been homeschooling for only two years, so I was still hearing plenty of objections from my parents, namely my mother who is a public school teacher. It was difficult to convince concerned family and friends that--despite the fact that my family was not involved in church or another homeschool group or social clubs and regardless of the fact that the only people I knew were from my former husband's professional life (I'd lost touch with my professional contacts by then...funny how that happens when one pulls out of the workforce)--we were perfectly well socialized, thank you very much.

I initially wanted a secular group, and when I started putting PEAK together in my head (and later on paper), it was SPEAK...Secular Parent Educators and Kids. After discussing my idea with a few friends and online acquaintances, I dropped the S in favor of a more inclusive appeal. I reasoned that I would be more likely to find families similar to my own if I cast a wider net.

And I did, but incredibly, the people I have connected with and become closest to are *not* the people I was looking for. If I had stuck with a secular vision, I would have missed out of these relationships.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Leap of f...aith

During a recent statewide radio interview in which I promoted PEAK and home education, I tripped over a completely innocuous phrase. And when I say tripped, I mean that I said (in regards to homeschooling through the fear of failure), "It is a leap of f...

[L-O-N-G, three-second pause during which I thought, "Faith?? You can't say that. PEAK is inclusive and you're not exactly the patron saint of home education. Don't panic. Just pick another word, but make sure it starts with an F since you already made that sound. C'mon, hurry up! ...oh great, you've waited too long and the silence has drawn more attention to your inability to utter the word faith. Now you *have* to say it. ...say it... SAAAY IIIT!" ]"

The host, Gene Edwards, completed the sentence for me.


Tomorrow's post: What's a nice, secular girl like you doing in an inclusive group like this?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I Will Survive (the first year of homeschooling)

Originally written and produced by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris
Originally performed by Gloria Gaynor
Mercilessly altered with apologies by Natalie Criss

First I was afraid
I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never teach
’Cause I’m not certified.
But we spent so many nights
Reteaching homework that was wrong.
I grew strong,
so now I teach my kids at home!
We study math
and outer space.
I just kept on despite the fear
with a big smile across my face.
I bought a set of Base Ten blocks.
I bought books with answer keys.
My parents think we’re nuts,
but they don’t even bother me

Come on, let’s go walk out the door.
We’re on the road now,
'cause we’re not home much anymore
My friends would frown and say we’d be unsocialized.
I heard one grumble
that I’d give up by July.
Oh no, not I!
I will survive!
As long as I know how to read
I know we’ll be alright.
I've got all my life to learn.
I've got energy to burn.
and I'll survive.
I will survive.

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart.
Decided to attend
a play date at the local park,
and I met oh so many moms
who offered eagerly to help.
They used to cry.
Now they hold their heads up high,
and so do we!
My kids are cool!
They’re not those chained up little people
stuck inside at school.
So if you feel like dropping by
don't you expect us to be free
I'm spending my time learning
with my loving family!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Stormy weather

It's tornado season in the South, but things don't usually get cranked up here until May. I hadn't gotten around to replenishing our stockpile of batteries, bottled water and canned tuna when we nearly got blown away on Friday.

Not only has the bad part of the season started early, this first storm system reorganized, arrived several hours early and hit during lunchtime rush hour. One minute, the weather was calm and mostly cloudy. The next, my whole family was crammed under the stairs with no power as an EF2 passed overhead, barely missing our neighborhood.

Total storm damage to the area is $10 $50 million. We were fortunate that our power was restored Friday evening, but several areas are still in the dark. There are more blue tarps covering far more roofs than when Katrina blew through here as a Category 1 hurricane. The subdivision up the street sustained heavy damage and my neighbors across the street are living in their RV because a huge oak landed on their house. Today, I drove through our old neighborhood a few miles away. Nearly every house on the first three blocks has moderate to severe damage.


Jack has killed TWO SNAKES in our house in the last TWO DAYS. Katie found the first one in the kitchen on Monday (she isn't afraid of critters, so she announced it as if she was letting us know the mail had run: Um, I think there is a small snake in our kitchen.). I found another one tonight in the foyer...and nearly suffered moderate to severe damage trying to get away from the blasted thing.

As best we can tell, both were brown water snakes. Totally harmless and about a foot long, but once they get in the house, in my opinion they may as well be 15-foot-long venomous killers. Jack killed both with the garden hoe (so now I have hoe dents in my graphic orange '70s linoleum .). Jack--or someone who is not me--will be taking their little dead bodies to the county extension office for a positive ID tomorrow.

I am currently barricaded upstairs in Dagny's room with my laptop, glass of iced tea and comfy pajamas. Since I have all I need here, I see no reason to go downstairs ever again. Katie will be bringing my meals and refreshing my tea as needed.

As I type this, my feet aren't even touching the floor.

Snakes, y'all.
In my house.

It is going to take me several weeks to recover from this.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

CA Homeschool Ruling Vacated!

...and couldn't we all use a vacation? From Pacific Justice Institute:

Subject: Special Bulletin: Homeschool Ruling Vacated; Court Will Reconsider
Pacific Justice Institute has just received word that the court ruling which declared most forms of homeschooling unlawful in California has been vacated. This means the Rachel L. decision, which has sparked a nationwide uproar, will not go into effect as it is currently written. The Second District Court of Appeal has instead decided to re-hear the case, with a new round of briefings due in late April. It would likely take the court several additional months to schedule oral argument and issue another decision.
Today's announcement by the court that it will re-hear the case reinforces PJI's position that homeschooling families should continue their current programs without fear of governmental interference. PJI will be actively involved in the upcoming briefs and will continue to post updates and special bulletins on this vital issue.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has decided to re-hear the Rachel L. case, and we are hopeful that the fundamental rights of these parents, our clients Sunland Christian School, and the tens of thousands of homeschooling families in California will be honored. Homeschooling parents should be treated as heroes-not hunted down or harassed by their own government."
The Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.
P.O. Box 276600 Sacramento, CA 95827-6600
Phone: (916) 857-6900 Fax: (916) 857-6902 Internet:

Monday, March 10, 2008


Have you heard?? Home education in California is not only illegal, it has been added to the list of seven eight deadly sins! God herself came down from a mountain with an 11th commandment against it. CA homeschoolers are even moving to Germany where they can homeschool in peace!

OK, not really. But I'm sure by now you've heard about the CA court of appeals ruling against a homeschooling family accused of child neglect and abuse (by one of their own children).

Before you get all panicky, please read the following for perspective (and don't sign any damn petitions, unless you are one of those easily entertained people who likes to feel useful even when you're not being useful).

Homeschooling in CA is still legal.

The MSM is largely misinformed.

Alarmists with agendas are calling for unnecessary action.

But don't panic.

CA homeschoolers and their capable partners are handling it.

Now, you are free to find another cause to champion.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Seek help for your body

That's what it said on the package of soap in my hotel room shower this weekend. I would have complained to management, but upon closer inspection I realized that it said something else.

Even my sub-conscience is passive aggressive.

Friday, February 22, 2008


The US Navy shot an orbiting satellite out of the sky today.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

RRnR housekeeping

In the next few weeks, I'll be updating, labeling, editing and otherwise tweaking the RRnR and Homeschool Cafe blogs. You'll likely see several false alarms on your feed burner. Click over anyway. You never know; I might have actually posted something new!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Dyslexic agnostic unsure about Dog...

As I updated my blogger profile tonight, I was reminded of that old joke about the dyslexic agnostic who stayed up all night pondering the existence of dog. Although our agnostic fish continues contemplating the origins of life, sadly, our sweet "ADHD border collie" died in early December. Her name was Abby, and she was a good ol' girl.

Katie and Abby in 2000.