CBCs: Catching Up!

November 21, 2007 | 10 Comments

I’ve been a bad girl and gotten behind on my cross blog conversation updates, so I’m going to tackle two at once. I hope that doesn’t break some cross blog conversation etiquette!

First, Alyssa answered my question about how motherhood had changed her life here. Then she asked me:  

“What did you see yourself becoming as an adult, as a teenager, and are you where you thought you’d be today?”

This question gives me a giggle because people who knew me as a child and teenager say I was the last person they ever saw having kids, much less 4! I’m not sure how to take that actually… but I think I know what they mean. I was never into babies. If someone I knew had a baby, it was like, big deal. I didn’t ooh and aah over them. I didn’t do any babysitting. I was into other things. Like boys. And my ministry. And music. And reading books. Not in any particular order. ;)

So my life is quite different than I imagined. I also didn’t think I would be single, but here I am. So. That was brief! My question for you Alyssa is, What do you do for fun? If your babies both napped at the same time or if you went out for the evening, what would you do?

Now it’s Nell’s turn. She answered my question, What would your life look like if you had not had kids here. Then she asked me:

“What are your dreams for your girls when they grow into adult women?”

I can sum that up in 5 words: Value themselves and be happy.

Honestly, it’s that simple. Because if they value themselves they won’t do stupid things like give too much to a boy, or marry a guy who doesn’t treat them like they’re a Queen, or worry too much about silly things like what they look like or (gasp!) what the heck other people think or say.

Mostly I just want them to be happy, whatever that looks like for them. :-)

So my question for you is, What kind of woman do you hope your sons grow up to marry?

In which I ask Nell about tough decisions and discuss birth

November 10, 2007 | 13 Comments

This was her answer: not vaccinating. Then she asked me:

… tell me about your natural births. Why did you decide to go that route? Are you happy with the decision to go natural? What exactly did “natural birth” look like for you?

I love this question. :) I love birth, I love talking about birth, reading about birth, and even the smell of birth. Yep - birth has a smell and I’m always sad when the smell goes away a few days afterwards.

My first baby was born in a hospital. I had been indoctrinated, if you will, into the cult of natural childbirth by my mother. When she had my sister, she was tied up (literally - her hands and legs were tied down). When she asked why, the hospital staff said: “So you won’t touch the baby.” My sister’s Dad was of course, not allowed anywhere near. This was just before the days of hippie husbands handcuffing themselves to their birthing women so they could be right there for the birth!

(Pic to the right - pushing with Sadie.)

She was drugged and felt nothing from the waist down. Then, for two days afterwards, she could not lift her head off the pillow because the Docs told her she could get a blood clot and die (wth?!). So, the ladies in the nursery took care of my sister. They also gave my mom a shot without her permission. When she inquired why, they told her “why, to dry up your milk, dear“. My mom was perplexed. Milk? What milk? She didn’t know anything about breastfeeding and they didn’t even give her the option!

Fast forward 7 years. She gave birth to me. My Dad was her “coach” and in the birth pictures, he figures so prominently (you can hardly see the Doctor because he did what good birthing Docs do - stay out of the way) that for years when I was little, I thought my dear ole Dad moonlighted as an OB!

My Mom said there was “no pain”. Of course, I think there is a hint of that Mom Amnesia that God throws in there to ensure that women will procreate, lol! But seriously - as soon as I was born, she looked up at my father and said: “Oh, when can we do this again!?”

I heard this story so many times in my childhood that it left a deep impression on me. It told me that birth is not like it is in the movies, with women screaming like banshees and losing control. My mother, with her deeply tanned skin and long dark wavy hair, looked like some kind of Native American princess giving birth to me. Hearing her contrast that experience with her first birth made me think that unmedicated was the way to go.

(Pic to the left: me laboring in water with Sadie.)

Then I got the benefit of learning about my sister’s 4 births. Three of her babies were big, and she had them without drugs. She’s one stubborn woman! In fact, the same thing happened in all of her births. Her babies all had really round heads that didn’t seem to mold at all. At some point in her labor, the staff would start prepping for a C-section for “failure to progress”. At this point she would practically stand up on the bed and scream, “I didn’t come this far only to be cut open. Give me 5 minutes and I’ll get this kid out!” Then she would get real quiet and talk to her baby inside of her, and tell him to help her out! I know it sounds strange, but I did the exact same thing with a couple of mine. I would talk to them during my labor and asked them to help me. I also talked to God a lot. :)

I guess you could say unmedicated birth was my “norm”. So when I got pregnant with Caleb, I looked into childbirth education classes and picked the Bradley method. I liked their philosophy, so me and dh took classes. Caleb was born in the hospital. I insisted on not having continuous fetal monitoring. (I knew that led to increased Cesarean rates and false “babies in distress” drama.) I was like some kind of birth plan Nazi because every time a new nurse walked into the room I would nicely ask her to read it. I was determined that I was going to have the birth I wanted, not the birth the hospital administration wanted me to have. I never let Caleb leave my sight, and he slept in the hospital bed with me too.

While his birth went wonderfully, there were things I was unhappy with, like my midwife leaving me during labor to go care for the patients in her practice, and then coming back - after I had pushed for FOUR hours. A homebirth midwife would have been there every second, helping me change positions to ease pushing. The labor and delivery nurse saw that I had an undilated “lip” of cervix that was impeding his head moving down the birth canal, so she put her hand inside to move it away as I pushed, which helped me make faster progress. But knowing what I know now, a lay midwife would have meant a much shorter birth and easier recovery for me.

After he was born, I got my hands on a copy of Spiritual Midwifery and after reading it, that was all she wrote! I was convinced that I would have my next baby at home. I had Julien 2 years and 9 months later and his birth was like a DREAM. I honestly felt little discomfort - it was like bad menstrual cramps. I labored for 8 hours, and only the last two were uncomfy. I was sold on homebirth!

23 months later came Ilana. Girlfriend weighed in at 10 pounds, and I’m certain that if I had been in a hospital, I would have had a C - section. The reason being, after a few hours of labor, things just stalled out. When you’re at home, the midwives don’t view this as any big emergency - they change your position, squirt some herbs under your tongue, send you to bed for a nap or some kootchie - koo with your husband (what put the baby in will often help get the baby out!) or whatever. They also realize that sometimes emotional stuff can impede birth. For me, it was some personal issues around my relationship with the Dad (not mine, the baby’s). When that came up I started to cry really hard, and after that things started to progress.

Another issue was the fact that my living room had become Grand Central Station with two midwives, one midwife apprentice, two kids, G-ma and G-pa, and dh. My main midwife sensed this and sent me to my room LOL! Being alone helped me focus, and that kickstarted things too.

2 years later came Sadie, and her birth was much like Julien’s - super easy. In fact the midwives almost didn’t arrive in time for the birth because I kept putting off calling them.

My births were definitely some of the most wonderful points of my life. One thing though - people are always saying to me that choosing homebirth makes me “brave”, but I don’t see it that way. I felt scared and out of control in the hospital environment. I didn’t feel fear at home, so I’m not brave for choosing homebirth. I just don’t see birth as a medical event. I love the fact that my older kids witnessed some of their sibling’s arrival. For them, birth is a social event. Nobody is screaming or carrying on, but there is a bit of grunting!

Also, I don’t feel like some kind of superwoman. I realize how lucky I was to have uneventful pregnancies. Some mothers shouldn’t even attempt homebirth because they have special circumstances going on. I’m very thankful! I loved every moment of birth - even the painful ones where you feel, as Carol Burnett put it, like your bottom lip is being stretched over the top of your head lol!

(Pic to the right - moments after Sadie’s birth)

There are many things I love about homebirth. Being able to walk around and do what you want are so nice. Being in your own comfy environment is nice. Having a midwife means you get to labor or push anywhere you like… on the toilet if it’s most comfortable! In water, out of water, in bed, on all fours, wherever.

You also get to shower in your own bathroom afterwards, eat wonderful delicous food (and beer - I always wanted Guinness after my births - try drinking that in a hospital!), and snuggle up with your new baby in your own bed minutes after the birth if you want to. It’s so nice. :)

Plus, you don’t have to drive home. That drive taking Caleb home from the hospital was the most stressful ride of my life! And wouldn’t you know that dh actually got LOST. How do you get lost going somewhere that’s 15 minutes from your house? LOL! It took us about 35 minutes to get home and I was totally stressed out. You don’t have to go anywhere after a homebirth. The midwife even comes to your house to check up on you and the baby postpartum!

So now I have a question for you: If you had never had children, what do you think you would be doing right now?


And for readers, if you haven’t read the other posts in the conversation with Nell, click on the “cross blog conversations” category to the right.

CBC: The Juggler wants to know: “How do you juggle?”

November 8, 2007 | 1 Comment

Alyssa aka The Juggler, told me how her love of writing began, which led to the launch of her ghostwriting business. Then she asked me:

“How do you juggle a business and 4 kids?”

Alyssa I’m going to cheat here! Nell asked me the same question for our cross blog conversation last week, so instead of saying the same things, I’ll point you to this post: How do you do it all?

In a nutshell, I said that I have a vision for myself and my family life - almost like a mission statement. I decided what my most important priorities are and make sure those things happen. Then I let the rest go.

Another thing - when I launched my first website, (you can see it here, I sold it some time ago) I had three children. Two preschoolers and a baby. So I have had to come to grips with the fact that my business was going to grow more slowly than other women, who started with fewer (or no) kids. The hardest part of that was my being ok with it. In other words, developing patience and “sticktoitiveness”. :)

I’ve had to develop a little humility too, because I came into my business with no real business education. What I did have going for me was the willingness to work. As they say, persistence beats all!

This slower growth over the last (nearly) 4 years has been a good thing for me, because my business hasn’t gotten too big or too successful too fast for me to handle it. I’ve slowly learned how to outsource and focus on my strong points, and I’ve had to refocus a bit here and there, but it’s been a comfortable ride.

So here is my question for you: How has having children changed your life? Is motherhood different than what you imagined?


Alyssa wants to know: “What’s a natural Mom?”

November 6, 2007 | 5 Comments

alyssa.jpgAlyssa of LifeFromMyLaptop (which, by the way Alyssa is one of my favorite domain picks, ever) invited me to do a little cross blog conversing with her. She asked me this question on her blog to kick things off:

My first question for you is about natural parenting. Carrie is the host of Natural Moms Talk Radio so I know she practices this, but frankly I have never really understood all the ins and outs so I know that Carrie can clear this up.

What is it like to be a “natural mom”?

When I first read this, I thought you were asking what a natural mom IS… which is also a great question! So I’ll answer that first. There probably isn’t any real definition of that term, and it means different things to different people, but for me, being a natural mom means tuning in to your (and I believe they are God-given) instincts first and when you’re in doubt.

It doesn’t mean I’m the expert of everything or that I don’t look for expert opinions. It does mean that I’m the one who loves my children the most and it’s also my responsibility to care for them, and since I also spend the most time with them, I’m the expert of them.

One thing that I used to tell moms all the time when I was a breastfeeding counselor is to trust your instincts - you are the expert of your baby. Anthropologists will tell you that “breastfeeding difficulties” are a purely Western, modern phenomenon. We think breastfeeding will be hard and so it is, but it’s not true for native women who do what comes naturally and don’t have anyone telling them they don’t know what they’re doing!

Women doubt themselves so much, and it’s true we’re not animals that are guided solely by instinct… but I believe women have a special sixth sense that alerts them to danger, and we should use that to protect our little ones. Have you ever read The Gift of Fear? It has nothing to do with parenting, but it illustrates this instinct that mothers have beautifully. I think that gift should be used. I believe that mothers go against that inner voice and they and their children sometimes suffer as a result.

So there are some behaviors that come out of that philosophy. As an example, cosleeping. While the experts debate whether it’s “safe” to do so, my strong feelings, and the behavior of my child, tell me it’s a good choice for us. I don’t need someone else’s opinion to make that decision.

You know at one time in this country and all over the world, women were told that formula feeding was “better”, “cleaner”, more “scientific”, more “advanced”, the thing that wealthy women did (and in some countries, the way WHITE woman did things which was obviously insulting to mothers) and the way of the future. :) Obviously those experts were wrong! One of the reasons I don’t go with the status quo automatically but question the way things are done is because I have seen how that “sheeple” mentality so often turns out.

Being a natural parent also means doing things in a natural way as much as you can. When I was pregnant with my oldest, my Mom talked to me about how much she enjoyed using cloth diapers with me. I thought it would be a great way to save money, so I started looking around at diaper services and cloth diaper systems. People laughed at me, but 4 kids later I still love cloth diapers.

A lot of natural parents reject circumcision because it’s a painful, unnecessary (for health anyway) surgery and vaccination because they’re unconvinced that the shots are effective or safe, and they prefer to build their child’s immune system naturally. Most natural parents reject spanking. They often prefer a gentler discipline style. Many of them are homeschooling. Most of them are interested in nutrition.

But we’re not all the same. I know moms who are far more crunchy than me who vaccinated their kids - I didn’t. I know other moms who had their babies at home but who wouldn’t use a cloth diaper if they were paid to. And I know moms who are NOT natural in any way but who I admire for some of their mothering skills.

You know as I type this I realize that natural parents do what they do for slightly different reasons. Some are motivated by environmental concerns, some by politics, some by findings in the field of psychology and some by philosophy.

For me, it’s largely from my belief that when God made moms and babies, he didn’t make a mistake. :-) I trust that a woman’s body is capable of birth and of feeding her baby. I trust that a baby’s cry is supposed to be uncomfortable so it will motivate the adults listening to do something instead of it being ignored. I believe that people are more important than things and that things can’t replace human contact. So that belief is reflected in my parenting choices.

I’m sure that after I write this I’ll think of a hundred more things to say. I hope that makes sense for now :)

Ack! Sorry Alyssa, I forgot to post your question. I was trying to get this published while getting the kids ready to walk out the door. So here goes:

You’ve recently launched a ghostwriting business. Have you always enjoyed writing and what sparked that interest?

More Chats With Nell

October 30, 2007 | 1 Comment

The latest in the conversation with Nell is that I asked her where she saw her life in ten years. You know, the reason I asked that is because it’s such a hard question for me to answer! So she turned the tables on me and asked me the same question.  Meanie ;)

I’m a very goal oriented person and always have goals, both short and long term, written down. Just recently I reached my goal of getting out of debt (no unsecured debt that is, I still have to pay off my car) and I’m very pleased with myself. I realize that things can change so much in ten years and I’ve hesitated to think that far out.

On the one hand, as far as my family is concerned, that’s a little easier. I see myself traveling, taking the kids with me so they can experience different cultures and people. That’s a big part of my vision. Ireland and Italy are at the top of the list. Both of those cultures run in my blood. I also see us living intown. Right now we’re very close to my kid’s one set of Grandparents and that’s helpful to me and the kids love it, but I would love to live intown.

The harder thing to answer is what my business will look like in ten years. I don’t really have a strong vision of that! I know that I’ll continue with internet marketing, because I love it and because of the passive income it provides me. Perhaps I’ll add a little more consulting. I enjoy helping people and I like public speaking, so I can definitely see myself doing some more group coaching, on and offline.

The ladies who are buying Atlanta Networking Girls from me have big plans for future growth, and hosting workshops is part of that. I love helping women, especially moms, start an online business. I’m not sure what the future of my show will be, because when my kids are teens I probably won’t be interested in talking about issues that affect younger moms anymore and there’s already a parenting teens podcast. ;) I can definitely see myself passing the natural moms radio torch onto a young, passionate mom with babies.

In ten years my boys will be young men, and I feel strongly about them not taking entry level jobs outside the home. I’ll be assisting them in some way to set up their own businesses. The girls will be finishing up their schooling but I’ll have a lot more freedom to have a social life, which will be nice! I miss going out to shows, and seeing live bands with grown ups and with the kids will be a lot of fun. It would also be nice to have more time to pursue hobbies. I used to play piano and guitar and would love to take those up again when I don’t have such young ones.

This has been fun Nell! Let’s keep it going with another question from me to you.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do as a Mom?

Nell Asks, Part 2: How Do You Do It All?

October 19, 2007 | 5 Comments

If you’re new to the conversation, you can see how Nell started it here, how I responded to her “why I homeschool” question, and her next query is:  

You homeschool, have four young children, AND you own a successful business at home. I’m strongly considering homeschooling my boys now, only have two right now but plan to have more, and I own a business, too. What advice do you have for me on how to handle it all without totally losing my mind. (lol) How in the world do you do it all?

First of all Nell, that was really interesting… hearing about how for your Mom, homeschooling was a way to give you stability and continuity in your possibly unstable environment. That is probably the most unusual reason I’ve heard for homeschooling, but it makes absolute sense to me.

In answer to your question, I don’t do it all, and what I do, I do imperfectly. :) What I mean by I don’t do it all is that I’ve had to make choices based on my biggest priorities and goals in life, the “big rocks”, and the little rocks have to fit in after that, and the sand goes into the bucket last, if there’s any room left.

Once I sat down, years ago when I was feeling stressed (I think it was after Ilana my third was born) and wrote a kind of mission statement for my parenting. I decided that there were a couple of things that I absolutely wanted my children to remember about their childhood. And that if there wasn’t enough time or energy for everything, that if these important things were taken care of, I would feel that I had done a good job that day and not beat myself up.

That gives structure to my life and it only takes a moment for me to quietly remind my brain of what my “big rocks” are. Have you ever seen or heard someone use that illustration? If you take a bucket and start filling it up with small rocks and sand and then try to add bigger rocks, it will overflow. But if you put the big rocks in first and then the smaller, you still end up with room for sand and even water. It’s a great metaphor for priorities.

If you’re considering homeschooling your boys, you’ll do great. I know that you already have a handle on what education means, and you have a good schedule for your business too. For someone just starting out with their business it would be hard because it takes awhile to figure out what works and how best to spend your time, but you’ve already learned that and you’ve certainly gotten the outsourcing thing down!

What’s more, I have a “big rocks” list for my housework and for homeschooling and for business. It’s kind of a “If nothing else gets done today, what would I want to accomplish and still feel happy and productive?”

So my big rocks list for my house would be: Making sure the areas that impact health (kitchen, bathroom) are clean, and have a healthy dinner on the table each night. So if the dusting goes a month inbetween getting tackled, no big deal.

My big rocks list for homeschool is reading and math. Readers tend to be good spellers, have larger vocabularies and a better grasp of English, so reading is very important, and math should be done daily in my opinion. But if we don’t get to do a Science project, no big deal. My 6 year old wants to learn how to make solar panels and trust me, I’ll have him on that project soon enough… but right now I can’t get to it.

Big rocks for business are blogging daily, infoproduct marketing and content creation. You’ve probably noticed that I don’t always get a new show on the site every week. :)

There are also a lot of things I don’t even attempt to do even though they might be fun or have certain advantages. For instance, at this time the kids aren’t involved in any extracurricular activities. Last year Ilana took ballet, but I was way more into it than she was LOL! Other than that, I don’t really have time for those right now, and the kids aren’t suffering for it. If we go out it’s to meet some friends at the park to play, or for a homeschooler’s field trip. When they’re older and I have more energy (read: everyone is sleeping through the night), that’s something we’ll do.

I’ve also had to be ok with my business growing more slowly than some of my counterparts who got started around the time that I did. That’s been hard at times. I’ve felt the occasional twinge of envy (yikes - did I just admit that?) when I see how some work at home Moms have meteoric success and achieve in months what it’s taken me 4 years to accomplish. But I just remind myself that I’m in a different place (we all have our own struggles!) and that I’ve made choices that limit my time, so it’s just that - a choice. It’s ok to go slow. :) I’ve gotten better at not comparing myself to other work at home Moms in the last year.

So I hope my analogy made sense to you Nell. I think you’ll do great, especially since your business is already rockin’ and rollin’ and whatever time you spend on it makes it grow.

So here’s another question for you - What do you see your business and home life looking like in ten years?

A Cross Blog Conversation With Nell Taliercio

October 15, 2007 | 12 Comments

This is a first. If you haven’t seen one (I had not until just last week), a cross blog conversation is when two bloggers speak to each other, answering questions and whatnot, and you get to be a fly on the wall and read what they have to say. It’s fun and you can join in the conversation by leaving comments on either blog, or by asking a new question of your own.

Nell Taliercio of Casual Friday Everyday invited me to participate in a cross blog conversation with her. You can read her entire blog post here, and I’ve also pasted her question to me below.  

After the many years I’ve known you online, and known of your passion for your parenting style and decisions, the one thing I don’t know quite as much about is why you decided to homeschool.

So, can you tell me why you decided to homeschool? Did you always know you’d homeschool?

Talk to you soon,

Firstly Nell, thank you so much for the nice things you had to say. I’m pretty bad at receiving compliments, but I really appreciate your kind words. :-)

So, why did I decide to homeschool?

Interestingly, I’ve had a survey on my site for a long time asking parents why they homeschool, but this question still required some thinking because I don’t really recall making a conscious decision when my oldest was a baby to homeschool him. Nevertheless, homeschooling is definitely not a stretch for me because I did homeschool for a couple of years in my grade school days, and I also left the public school system after 7th grade and completed 8th through high school at home. Also, my sister has homeschooled her boys their entire lives except for one brief period after she had her fourth baby.

Because of those experiences, I didn’t buy into many of the anti-homeschooling arguments. I knew that socialization wasn’t an issue and in fact I think I benefitted by not having to go through the high school experience. I’m certainly not socially inept, and in fact some of my best friends were homeschooling also, as were a lot of the young people in my religious faith, so I was never at a loss for friendships.

I was also able to spend more time doing something that was important to me (at the time I devoted a LOT of time to volunteer work), and was able to start earning income at a younger age, gaining valuable experience. I paid cash for my first car, and it was no beater. :-)

I do recall the uneasiness I felt at the thought of leaving Caleb all day in someone else’s charge. After Julien was born (baby number two), I enrolled Caleb in a two morning a week play date thing organized by the local county parks and recreation department. He loved it! He got to play with new kids and do all kinds of activities. I liked having some time to enjoy my new baby.

But then after about the fourth time, he would NOT let me leave him. He clung to me and had an absolute look of terror in his eyes. I didn’t question that, I just took him home, and I never took him back. That night I talked to him about why he didn’t want to go back, and it never was clear to me whether something happened to him, or whether he witnessed something disturbing. I’ve pieced together bits and pieces, and I *think* what happened was that another parent who was picking up their child began to yell at and spank the kid, and it bothered Caleb greatly. He had not seen that kind of behavior before.

So you could say that scared me a bit to the potential stuff that can happen when someone has access to your child.

Another thing that was emblazoned on my heart and mind was the fact that my sister was bulled terribly in school. She was teased because she looked like she belonged to another ethnicity, and the majority of students in the school in this urban area of Atlanta that we lived in happened to not get along with this other minority group. She was beat up and harassed daily. To add insult to injury, she was actually beaten by the teacher!

Back then (late 70’s), it was still common for school teachers to physically discipline students. Because of our religious convictions, we don’t salute the flag (a right that is guaranteed by the Supreme Court so it’s not like she was breaking the law). Her Teacher would beat her palms every day because of this. My parents didn’t figure out what was going on right away but when they did you can only imagine the conversation that took place between my mother and that teacher!

Fast forward to my school experience. I wasn’t picked on, but my mother was always having a (legitimate) problem with the way things were done. She hated that we were given 2-3 hours of homework to do after school. She always said that if they couldn’t teach me in the 8 hours they had me, they weren’t doing their job. She would keep me home from school all the time, sometimes just to go shopping with her or to a movie, and never felt that she should have to tell the teachers why. My excuse notes were hilarious! She would never give them a reason why I was absent, because she said it was none of their business. I agree totally. ;)

The homework would sometimes create a conflict with our worship services. My Dad used to write notes to the teachers saying all the things I learned at Bible Study and that I couldn’t finish my homework. God took priority over State in my home, lol! They were never ones to abdicate their parental authority and were eager to point out to the school who was in charge of me. :-)

Also, I suffered with severe low blood sugar in school and one year had PE right before lunch. I would be so hungry I would pass out sometimes or at least be in an eyes-glazed-over daze, so my Mom had to fight again with the school to allow me to eat a mid morning snack, and at least not be required to run laps for 30 minutes when I was ravenously hungry and shaking!

I also had a teacher who would threaten to put students in a box that was (she said) filled with snakes. Of course, it wasn’t, but it WAS located over a heating register, so it would get very hot inside, which was scary and a health hazard, not to mention emotionally abusive. My mom was pretty instrumental in having that teacher fired. ;)

So you could say that my parents had a bit of the educational heretic in them. LOL!

I don’t believe public schools are doing a good job of educating kids (and Georgia schools consistently score among the lowest when you compare us with other states) , but I’m primarily concerned about safety. During the brief time that my nephews were in school, in their tiny little one stop sign town in rural North Carolina, there was a child shot in front of the school. I have a friend whose 4 year old son was sexually assaulted by a fellow Pre-K classmate. And no, I don’t mean a little preteen butt slapping. I mean molestation.

The young teens I know who are in public school say that you can get any drug you want, for free, and that every day they are solicited sexually. The phrase “it’s a jungle out there” comes to mind. You have to worry about the students and the teachers these days, as anyone who watches the news can testify. How many sexual predators are attracted to the teaching profession because they have such easy access to kids?

Another reason I chose to homeschool is because I want to control what my children learn. I’m not a control freak when it comes to my kids, and I like for them to have relationships and learn from a lot of people, not just me. But I don’t want them receiving a biased message from teachers, school administrators, and writers of the curriculum. I want them learning creation rather than evolution (and yes, I want them to be able to give an intelligent explanation of both beliefs, but if they’re going to be taught a bias it is surely going to be mine!), and I don’t want someone’s political agenda being subtly woven into their education.

I also don’t believe kids are being given an accurate view of history. Ask a black American if that unpleasant part of early American history isn’t conveniently glossed over, or a Jew if they got the real picture as a child in school of how ugly Nazism was. How many of us learned the truth about how early American settlers treated the natives who were here with their own civilizations? I want my kids to see how man has dominated man to his injury since the beginning of time - the good, bad, and the ugly. If we don’t tell the whole truth, how can we not repeat our mistakes?

I also know my kids best and know how they learn. My oldest loves to read and is a real bookworm and he absorbs an incredible amount of information that way. At the same time, he exhibits many of the characteristics of an ADD child (which I think doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way we think of it). There is no doubt in my mind that if he were in school, teachers would be pushing me to drug him. But since he’s at home, I can work around those behaviors. If he does his math sitting on the sofa, big deal. If he has to break up schoolwork with running outside and hopping on his skateboard, big deal.

On the other hand, 6 year old is NOT the book learning type. But he is very, very intelligent when it comes to working with his hands. He’s already talking about building solar panels and other sources of alternative power, that’s an interest he has. He says he wants to earn “a thousand dollars a day”. I say more power to him. ;)

Not sure about the girls yet, they’re too young. But I can tailor their learning to their unique strengths. Everyone doesn’t have to excel at everything. We do better if we focus on our strengths instead of trying to have a “well rounded” education.

When I hear people talking about some of the nonsense that goes on in schools, it just makes me cringe! For example, the fact that at the beginning of the year, the teacher has to take away all the school supplies their parents have bought them. That is so wrong to me on several levels. I also don’t want to train my kids to be good little employees, and I think that’s what the school system does best. I have heard Rhea Perry speak about her thoughts on education, and she puts it so well. I know you’re familiar with her Nell, but for my readers that aren’t, Rhea is a homeschooling mom of 7 who teaches parents how to train their kids to become entrepreneurs.

That’s a huge goal of mine too, and I think it’s easier when they’re with me all day. Quite a lot of their ”schooling” consists of (at least with the oldest, but Julien will get there too) learning about money and business. Caleb worked for a time at his Grandmother’s Tea Room, and he was everyone’s favorite server. My Mom told me many times that he could figure out customer’s change without the cash register and was better at it than some of the teenagers who worked for me. He got huge tips and really learned a lot. He would never have been able to have that experience if he was in school. My goal is for my kids never to have a job, especially not when they’re teens, and I’ll write about why another time. ;)

The more I read about the faults of the modern day public school system, the less impressed I am. If I absolutely was forced to enroll my kids in school, I would probably opt for a private Montessori school, but I enjoy having them with me, even with the challenges. :)

I also believe that the school experience makes many people hate learning. I find reading and study to be pure pleasure and wish I had more time to do those things, but most adults I know feel the opposite. I think (and have been told this by some individuals) that’s because they have associated learning and study with school stress. I also think testing is not helpful and not indicative of true learning. You know, last week I read an article written by Marilyn vos Savant, who has the highest recorded IQ. She stated that in her opinion, testing means little. It doesn’t indicate intelligence or even aptitude, except at the very highest scores and very lowest scores.

School also creates an unnatural learning environment. People say it prepares you for the “real world”, but when in your entire life are you going to be in a situation where you’re surrounded all day long by people who are the exact same age as you? I think we all learn better when we’re with different kinds of people. It really touches me to see my oldest reading a story to his little sibs, or teaching his younger brother some math concept. It’s kind of Little House on the Prairie, y’know? ;)

You probably weren’t expecting such a lengthy reply were you Nell? LOL!

Edited to add: If you want to learn more about the history of education in America and the real forces behind the modern school system, you must read the writings of John Taylor Gatto. Formerly a public school teacher whose career spanned over 3 decades, he was an educational heretic. His books will shock you and keep you up at night but mostly they’ll remove the scales from your eyes so you can really see the cultural brainwashing that we have accepted about education and “school” - they are NOT the same thing!

So, let me ask you:

I know you were homeschooled as a child, tell me: Was it primarily because of your parent’s religious beliefs, or some other reason, and how do you think you benefited as a homeschooled kid?