Monday, December 31, 2012



A Fresh Start...

A New Year's Resolution....

A New Old Expression

Out With the Old, In With the New?

As 2013 starts up her engines, we begin to see a familiar and old expression everywhere.  “Out with the old and in with the new!”  I am focusing on ‘Peace” for 2013.  A variety of similar themes seem to be what others are focusing on as well.  After seeing the “Out with the old…” expression again I was struck by a thought.  It left a mark, too.

When simplifying, organizing, and decluttering our lives why do we think we must always throw out the old to make room for the new?  Sure, in some cases, the old does need to be thrown out.  It can be a very good thing, I understand.  Throwing out old habits that aren’t good for you (exercising instead of watching television, chewing gum instead of smoking, letting go of toxic people to make room for new, healthy friends, etc).  But a lot of ‘old’ is awesome!  Perhaps it’s a reflection of my age (I don’t want to be ‘out’ just because I’m old) but I’m thinking that a lot of the old we have in our lives is in fact ‘old’ because it has weathered the test of time and should remain.

Old Clothes – they are a comfort to me, fitting so easily, and at times bringing back good memories of the fun I had while wearing them.  ‘Fits like an old shoe’ is an apt expression.  I may not wear these out and about, but they do sure enhance the experience of returning to my sanctuary for peace and respite.

Old (good) Habits/Traditions – the changes I incorporated in my life in previous years that helped propel me to the place at which I now am.  I certainly don’t want to throw these out.  Who would want to do that work again?  Those things that have become a part of ‘who we are’ must be savored and kept as well.  They help ground us as a family, as friends.

Old Mementos – my personal collection of memorabilia that brings a smile to my face and warm fuzzy feelings to my heart – from which I will not be parted.

Old Friends – are the best!  Old friends know me so well, are in tune with me, and me with them.  Not only can I make wonderful new memories with them, but they were there when the old memories were created and enjoy reliving them with me.  As we were taught in Girl Scouts ‘Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver but the other GOLD”.

So, as I work on my goal of Peace in 2013, I will be sure to keep these cherished ‘olds’ a part of it; for while “Out with the old, in with the new” is a popular idea, I think it is best to remember:

 To select well among old things, is almost equal to inventing new ones.” 
~ Nicholas Charles Trublet

Happy 2013!

~Mari B.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's Almost Time for a New Year and a New Theme

Ringing in 2013

Our homeschooling isn’t the only thing that will be getting an overhaul for 2013.

In 2012 our homeschooling life, our life in general really, was a mad dash from one thing to the next.  I was involved in a Homeschool Co-Op, in a leadership position, that took considerable time and effort.  Punky was involved in 4H, art classes, tennis, swim team, acting classes, performances, classes at the library and the local museum as well as ‘easy’ things such as Park Day.  We were B-U-S-Y.  It became too much for both of us, really.

I realized that I had reached an age where I didn’t need or want to be on the GO-GO-GO, nor could I mentally handle it the way I did when I was in my 20s and 30s.  Punky, thank God, has enough of her father’s personality that while she’s a social extrovert (like me), she also enjoys her alone, ‘down’ time as much as her busy, go-go time.  It was time to ‘let go’ of a lot of activities and commitments and so instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I embraced a theme for the New Year.  Simplify.  That was my 2012 resolution.  In many ways, I was successful.  I let the Home School Co-Op go, which was a huge weight off of me.  In our homeschooling life, we gave up the things that weren’t furthering our objectives or that Punky no longer truly enjoyed.  We withdrew from art class, acting class that she had outgrown, tennis, swim team, and the classes at the local museum.  We don’t make every Park Day anymore either.

True, we picked up a few new activities, but only ones that truly met with Punky’s ambitions.  Our 'schooling' life (outside of instructional lessons) revolves around all the things needed to further Punky’s life goal of being an actress on Broadway.  She takes voice now and will begin dance in January.  She began auditioning for the local theatres and was involved in three shows (which takes up a LOT of time).  These things, while they can be exhausting, are thrilling and purposeful and neither Punky nor I have developed any resentment or dread over shuttling here and there for these opportunities.  I think that makes all the difference.  If you are involved in something that you dread, it’s not the right thing in which to be involved.  We are happy with that in which we purposefully choose to participate.

2013 is fast approaching and I was contemplating what the New Year theme needed to be.  While the homeschooling schedule still needs a bit of tweaking, and that is one of the goals for 2013, I realized that those things that really require change are not tangibles. 

2012, while ‘simplified’, was an emotional year on so many levels, in so many ways.  To be honest, I feel quite beat up by it.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – there have been wonderful adventures!  My husband received a well-earned promotion, Punky performed for the first time on a real theatre stage, and I launched this blog and subsequent facebook page – which is a wonderful outlet for me. But there have been emotional challenges out the wazoo:  waiting to see what our future holds with the military,  my husband receiving deployment orders that will take him away for us for one year,  my parent’s failing health and all the issues that go along with that, as well as my own personal, emotional challenges.

 I’ve been blessed this year with true friends who have stood by me, helped me, and supported me through it all (even my mistakes and misdeeds).  I’ve been rejected and cast aside by others who I thought were friends, in a very hurtful, yet totally high school locker room manner.  While I’ve been fortunate enough to find a small, like-minded secular homeschooling community (finally), I’ve dealt with my share of difficult situations that arise as a result of my being me and residing in the Deep South.  There has been a time or two, during the year, where I broke down in tears for feeling as if EVERYTHING was a struggle, that there was so much working against me – be it circumstances or people.  (I would expect that there are even those who know me that may be reading this blog post and thinking to themselves either ‘serves her right’ or ‘she brings it on herself’.)

 While reflecting upon my 2012 goal of ‘Simplify’, and even reading some articles on the topic, I stumbled upon an article that listed simplify as the first step for a life lived at peace.  After serious reflection, I realized I had my theme for 2013……PEACE.

Peace in my personal life and peace in our homeschooling life.  I will let peace be my guide.  If it makes my stomach clench in distress, and I have control over it, it will be changed or it will be OUT.  Now, one of my ongoing, personal struggles is between my natural personality and a state of ‘Zen’.  I’m not good at that shit.  I wish I were.  I wish I were all calm, and deep, and wise.  I’m not.  I’m hyper, reactive, and a dumbass most of the time; bitchy some of the time.   
So clearly I need to make peace with some things in order to have peace in my life.  Those things that I don’t have peace about, and I can control, I will focus on changing in 2013.  Those things that I don’t have peace about and I can remove from my life, I will. 

So, here’s my list of changes (or removals) that I will be making in 2013 –

The Year of Peace.

I enjoy writing my blog and running my facebook page.  The fans are great!  If you are one of them – thank you for coming along on the inappropriate ride!  My personal facebook page, however, has become a source of distress too many times and that is where some changes will be made.  Those who weren’t for me in 2012 will not be coming with me in 2013.  Others, that I don’t have a close relationship with, will be set to restricted status.  I’m treating my personal facebook as I do my home – and not everyone gets invited into the house, if you know what I mean.

I will be letting go of ‘long-term future planning’.  It doesn’t bring me peace, in fact most of the time it adds extra distress to my life.  Our circumstances:  being a military family, homeschooling, and having parents who are sick and live far away involve so much that is beyond our control that every time I ‘plan for the future’ and the fates coitus with that I’m distressed once again.  I can’t change the fates, so instead I’m going to stop the planning.  We will go with the flow – making the best decisions we can, when we must, with the information we have.

I’m letting go of the notion that I’m not enough (or in some cases too much).  I am exactly what I need to be in this moment in time.  I am the mother and teacher that Punky needs, the wife my husband needs, and the friend that my friends need or want.  I’m the person I need to be for me.  Changes and growth come with experience, true.  I am no longer going to beat myself up over the fact that I can’t be it all or have it all. I am letting go of the fact that I make mistakes.  Once I realize the mistake I’ve made and done what I can to learn from it and/or rectify it – I’m letting it go.  Anyone who can’t let go of resentment toward me for past mistakes will be put to pasture.  I’m not going to waste the precious time I have left on this planet agonizing over the mistake I made or the fact that someone can’t forgive me and let it go.

Which leads me to, I’m giving up on people who don’t make any effort.  That means those who don’t seem to care about me or my life, those that require me to do all the work to maintain the relationship, and those that can’t or won’t do what they say they will (time and time again) - these people stress me out and hence, no peace.  Those people need to go!

I’m going to start saying ‘No’.  Now, this may seem odd.  I’m inappropriate, so what would I say no to?  Well, first, I have standards – some things are beyond inappropriate – but that is not what I’m referring to.  I actually have a problem turning people down, turning people away, or not letting people ‘in’.  That’s going to change in 2013.  Folks are going to enjoy the view from the cheap seats until I have had a chance to assess their character.  No more believing everyone is honest, kind, caring, understanding, or forgiving.  No more accepting people for who they are to the point of letting them screw with me and my life.  Very few people actually reciprocate the kind of acceptance I give and I’m going to value my assets a lot more than I have.  I’m a good friend to have.  Yes, I may be reactive at times and speak harshly or without thought (and I’m working on that) and that can be hurtful to my friends.  However, I love unconditionally, I am without judgment, and I am honest.  I am there for my friends, day or night, whenever they need me, in any way they need me.  I believe in ‘deep ties’ and if I care about you, I’ll turn my life inside out to be there for you and help you.  That shit is valuable.  I’m going to learn to realize how valuable a friend I really am, despite my flaws. 

There are other ways I am going to work to have peace in my life.

I am going to focus on managing expectations.  This is two-fold.  First, I’m going to worry less about ‘meeting the expectations’ of others.  I am going to be honest with myself and others about what does stress me out and not worry if they think it’s silly, weak, or stupid.  If I can let go of my worry of other peoples expectations then I can say, “No, that won’t work for me so I won’t be doing that – or doing it that way.”  It’s just not worth it anymore.  I end up acting like a big ole’Bitch when I’m put into a situation that I didn’t want to be in the first place and it’s my own damn fault for letting it happen because I wanted to please someone else or meet someone else’s expectations or needs. But more importantly than that even, I am going to focus on keeping my expectations, about everything, more realistic.  This is actually a big one for me.  A lot of unrest in my life is a result of my own expectations.

 Which leads me to….

I am going to let go of my ‘negativity bias’.  I am such a ‘the glass is half empty’ kind of gal.  I am going to focus on the part of the glass that is half full.  Now, how?  I’m going to keep a gratitude journal.  I’ve always scoffed at this type of ‘New Agey’ action, but I have come to realize that it is true that the only way to be more positive is to focus on the positive and the easiest way to do that is to WRITE down the positives so you’ll remember.  I will be teaching my brain to focus on the positives, the daily things – no matter how small – about which to be grateful.  In keeping with this, I will also no longer allow myself to be purposely exposed to difficult or negative people, those who constantly bring me down or undermine my efforts to improve my life. If they are unwilling to understand my current goals then I will be better off without them. 

In my daily walk in order to have less stress and more peace I will:

1)  Do less each day.  I will focus on three important objectives for the day and those will be my ‘To Do’ list for the day.  If it’s not on my 'To Do' list, and it’s not an emergency, it will not be attended to that day unless I have the free time and emotional energy to do so.

2)  I will only make commitments that reflect what is important in our lives.  I will no longer commit to ‘fillers’ or obligate myself to those things that I have no real interest in pursuing.

3)  I will leave S-P-A-C-E between appointments, commitments, obligations, and activities whenever possible.  I am no longer capable of rushing from one thing to the next and it’s time to be honest about how stressed out it makes me to do so - stressed out to the point that I act like a big 'ole Bitch.

How I will incorporate this into the homeschooling aspect of our lives is actually simple– in theory, anyway.  To have a more peaceful homeschooling experience we will:

1)  Commit to accomplishing three educational goals a day.  Anything else accomplished is a bonus.

Yes, that’s it.  That will be the BIG change we make in 2013 regarding our homeschooling.  My ‘To Do List’ in homeschooling is always a page or two long.  We never get it all done.  In fact, we never get half of it done.  It stresses me out.  It makes me feel unaccomplished.  It’s time to stop being an idiot about it.  It’s time to set realistic goals.  We have a clear, attainable objective – Punky wants to be in the Theatre, now and as a career.  I WILL be the mother who supports her dream, no matter how ‘big’ or some would say, ‘unrealistic’ that dream is.  We are a homeschooling family – which allows us the freedom to tailor-make our life.  It’s time we acted like it. 

So now, instead of writing out weekly lesson plans, or objectives, I will write them out daily.  The night before I will sit down and list the three educational goals for us to accomplish the next day.  The next night when I sit down, I will evaluate what was accomplished, enjoyed, and learned from completing that day’s goals and use that to set the next day’s three educational goals.  We will homeschool day-to-day.  Period.  No more stressing out for me… or for Punky either.

There it is… all written out for me and the world to see.  I’m going to print it and then live it for my ‘Year of Peace’ in 2013.

~ Mari B.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas....

Politically Correct
Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck…
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.
And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!
The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."
And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose
And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.
So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.
And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.
No candy or sweets…they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
No baseball, no football…someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.
He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere…even you.
So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth…
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."

~Mari B.

Friday, December 21, 2012

All He Wants For Christmas......

The Inappropriate Homeschooler's Guide to Cooking Christmas Dinner

Follow This Guide at Your Own Risk

What Did You Expect?

Step 1: Go buy a turkey (or whatever meat your desire to cook)

Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey

Step 3: Put turkey in the oven 

Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey

Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens

Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink

Step 7: Turk the bastey 

Step 8: Whiskey another bottle of get

Step 9: Ponder the meat thermometer

Step 10: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey

Step 11: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours

Step 12: Take the oven out of the turkey

Step 13: Floor the turkey up off of the pick

Step 14: Turk the carvey 

Step 15: Get yourself another scottle of botch 

Step 16: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey

Step 17: Bless the dinner and pass out

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays – whichever you prefer!

~Mari B.

Inappropriate Elf on the Shelf

Oh no he didn't!  Yes, he did.....and with only 4 days until Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is Home Schooling for Everyone?

Maybe, Maybe Not

I was sent this article the other day and asked to share my opinion.  Since I now have a blog this is where my ‘sharing of my opinion’ now appears!  LOL

Here’s the link (so you can read for yourself) that was the inspiration for this post. 
I want to say that I mean NO disrespect toward this young woman nor am I casting any judgment on her perception of her experience.  This was HER experience.  I don’t think we can say to someone, “You’re wrong” when they tell us how something made them feel.  I do think, though, that perception is reality.  And I’d like to lend a different perspective on what this young woman shared, especially for anyone who is considering homeschooling their children and this article scares them OR for anyone who believes that sheltering their children from EVERYTHING by homeschooling is a good life choice for them.

First, in all honesty I basically agree with this woman – her situation kind of sucked.  However, I don’t think her situation and the subsequent issues it caused her were the fault of being homeschooled.  I’m not sure ‘fault’ even needs to be placed.  Her life appears to be a good one now.  She went to college, has a young daughter of her own now, and she writes well.   At least on the surface she doesn’t seem to be suffering any extensive ill affects of her life experience.  She had ‘bumps’ in the road – albeit uncomfortable ones – as we all do.  Bumps are necessary in order for us to learn and grow.  However, she puts forth a serious question regarding socialization that many might worry over when deciding to home school. 
Clearly this young woman was raised in a Christian household and I would say that from her descriptions she was raised in a Christian household that sheltered the children, perhaps even purposefully kept them from being exposed to others of different cultures, religious backgrounds, and perhaps even ethnicities.  Clearly she was kept from all children who were not either homeschooled or members of her own church.  To me, this is a mistake.  I’m sure that every parent, especially ones that make the choice to home school, make the decisions they do in rearing their children out of concern for their children and with the information they have at the time make the best choices they can.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes.  We all do.  I know I certainly do.  If we haven’t given our children something to grip about to their shrink when they are adults we failed.  But seriously…..

No one who will one day enter ‘the world’ benefits from being overly-sheltered.  One of the greatest assets afford to homeschoolers is the chance to expose our children to a myriad of people (including public schooled children), circumstances, and experiences where we can be with them to teach them and guide them so that as they face new opportunities, people, and experiences when they are older they have a foundation for how to navigate those waters.  By not taking advantage of this asset of home schooling, and choosing instead to shelter them from ‘the world’, we run the risk of children who grow up uncertain of who they are when up against others who are not of a like-mind.  It reminds me of a quote I heard long ago, and can never find who to attribute it to, that says, “If all we ever study is that which we know, we learn nothing.”  This is also true regarding exposure to other people, ideologies, belief systems, cultures, and ethnicities.  That lack of exposure while being homeschooled, I think, is an important point to make regarding this young woman’s situation.

Yet, as to her ‘uncomfortableness’ around peers I say this:  I was public schooled.  I was never all that comfortable around my ‘peers’.  The crowd I ran with was the more mature crowd.  I don’t mean I ran with ‘older’ kids.  I mean I found like-minded individuals and they were my friends.  These kids were usually the ‘weird’ kids.  They were into their hobbies and interests and had no desire to participate in the latest trend or fad that was being favored by the ‘in-crowd’.  They, and I, could have cared less about who was dating whom, how drunk the kids were getting, or any other such ‘juvenile’ nonsense.  I was born an adult and I never understood the majority of my peers.  Even as a young elementary school kid I thought the majority of the things that my peers did or said was stupid or immature.  I didn’t understand why they acted the way they did.  Did it make life harder for me?  Sure, in some ways it certainly did.  Was I better equipped for dealing with adults when I became an adult?  Yes, I was.  That worked to my benefit.  My point is this, one doesn’t have to be homeschooled to be awkward with their peers.  Kids are weird.  They are immature and juvenile, some more so than others.  That’s ok, though.  We all (or almost all, anyway) even out eventually.  Today I have close friends that are as much as 15 years younger than I am and I still have friends who are as much as 20 years older.  Adulthood can be a wonderful thing in so many ways!

At the heart of this young woman’s issues is one thing, in my opinion – a lack of self-confidence.  That brings me back to my earlier point, if you never expose your children or allow them to be exposed to different, even conflicting, viewpoints, cultures, beliefs, or people then they can never truly feel confident about who they are, what they believe, and why.  THAT is what the problem was for this young woman, in my estimation – not that she was homeschooled.  Somehow she didn’t learn to be a leader while being homeschooled.  For us, while homeschooling Punky, being a leader and not a follower is a major focus.  Punky is already very comfortable in ‘new and unfamiliar’ situations.  She walks into auditions knowing no one and figuring it out.  She ‘runs with the big dogs’ in theatre shows where the majority of the cast are strangers and adults.  Is she exceptional?  Not in the least.  She always enters these experiences a little scared and unsure.  That is normal.  We all enter the unknown a little scared and unsure.  The more times we have those experiences though, the more we become comfortable with it, as well as becoming a little wiser for having the experience.

This woman says that if your children are more comfortable socializing with adults that isn’t a sign of maturity, but rather a sign that there is a problem.  I don’t agree.  We spend the majority of our lives as adults.  Being able to socialize with, work with, and navigate around adults is a skill that is very necessary.  Now, we could say that if your child is not comfortable socializing with anyone BUT adults, there may be a problem.  The difference may seem slight, but it’s meaningful, I think.  Punky prefers to spend her time with mature children, often time that means children who are a year or two, or even three older than she.  Punky doesn’t enjoy socializing with adults more than her peers, but she is very comfortable interacting or working with adults.  Of course this is OUR experience, but it is one that we work hard to make happen.  At the end of the day, I believe that homeschooling can be right for any child, because your homeschooling experience is totally what you make it.  Granted that means that home schooling parents needs to focus on more than academics.  We should, in my opinion, focus on guiding our children through new experiences and opportunities.  We should be looking to introduce them to as many people, from as many walks of life, as we can while they are under our supervision and guidance, teaching them along the way why we make the choices we make for our lives, why we have the beliefs we do, and allowing them to learn about the choices and beliefs of others. 

Home schooling may not be the choice every family makes, but home schooling is not a ‘wrong’ choice.  Home schooling doesn’t cause problems.  Homeschooling is an ideology that says every parent has the right and ability to provide for their children the education and learning needed to navigate their lives well into adulthood.  If a parent fails to, or chooses not, to guide their child through all the opportunities they can, that is not a failure of home schooling.  Home schooling can work for anyone, because home schooling is what you make it out to be.  If home schooling didn’t work for you or your child believes it didn’t work for him, all I can say is:  the right way, for you, wasn’t found.  Homeschooling can be limitless in its opportunities, if you are willing to open yourself, and your children, to them.

~Mari B.