Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Come journey with me...

on the path to self betterment. Part of the getting to like me again plan (see Scary Stuff) is to actually DO something. It is the biggest part actually.

I should give you some background I suppose. I didn't finish college, instead I fell in lust (which eventually grew to love, which eventually...well, once again see Scary Stuff) and got married. A two income salary was required for all of our foolish young ambitions, so I dropped school. I was a photojournalism major...I know, not REALLY a job, lol. I've always regretted not finishing, but haven't had the means to do so. Still don't.

Here is my solution to my predicament:

Free Online Course Materials from MIT
-- from Aeronautics and Astronautics to Writing and Humanistic Studies. You pick it, you learn it. I'm going to get the ideal education for me (eclectic and pretty darn complete from the looks of it) for nada. Sure, no degree to hang on the wall but honestly with all the screamer pics and art I don't have the room. Going to supplement with Berkeley Webcasts too. A high dollar education on things I've always wanted to know about for nothing but the cost of time and paper. Not too bad.

The other big UGH! in my life at the moment is that I know that I am not where I want to be physically. I haven't made one iota of effort to lose the baby weight from youngest screamer. It's going on 3 years since he was born. The time is now. The plan is this. I enjoy running, plus this will give me some of that "me" time I NEED. Gonna also be doing my good ol' yoga to keep the rest of the self toned.

Nowhere near being resolutions folks, I don't make those anymore. These are flat out decisions. They aren't for anyone (ie not aiming to please) but me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NOT prepared update

Still scary but after a nice long talk, keeping things polite as little ears still hear even from upstairs, the spouse and I got it all out there.

Seems I'm not the only one. He's been a little out of it for a few weeks, thinking many of the same things (I so won't go into detail). So, we're gonna work on it. He has issues about himself to work out just like me. Generally when we are happy with us, we are happy with each other. That's the plan Stan!

Thanks to all that commented earlier, I felt way more calm going into the "we gotta talk" conversation then I would have. I'm already in a better place than I was a few hours ago. Amazing how a heart to heart will do that.

I know everything isn't solved, but at least there is a starting off point now.

I am NOT prepared for this...

Ready for a roller coaster ride? Not political, not economical...if fact it impacts just me and mine.

My own personal SHTF for real. Seems I'm in the midst of a mental/emotional snap. Mid-life crisis at 31? Guess so.

Anyway, my time on here may get even more sporadic, but then again could get even more often. You'll likely have to put up with some seriously scary posts, I'll try to warn you. Point is I'm struggling and I'm not prepared for it. It was completely out of the blue, hit me from literally nowhere. Like a little pop in my brain.

Now I get to explain that pop to the spouse. Should be interesting to say the least. Suffice it to say, I'll be needing good thoughts, positive vibes and lots of prayers to see that I come out better in the end.

This scares me more than anything else out there, honestly.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Have I told you...

about my ferocious appetite for books? I'm sure I've mentioned it in passing, but not at length. I've decided that it's important for me to share this, as books are my passion (knitting falls in secondary to them) favorite thing (other than family of course) in the world. It's important for me to share this for two reasons:

1.) It will explain my online absence since Christmas Eve
2.) The passion of reading is a sanity saver when there is nothing else to do

Naturally point #2 can/does apply a bit to prepping, there will be things that you need to save your sanity. So that justifies my obsessively large reading selection in a way that most people don't think of.

Point #1 was brought about by a simple, single book purchase that the spouse made. He doesn't read anywhere near as much as I do and it is VERY rare for us to share the same taste of books. I love just about anything classic (though Wuthering Heights does bore me to tears and I've not cracked open War and Peace in a gazillion years), pretty much all of Anne Rice's work (specifically the Mayfair Saga and the Vampire Chronicles), the Harry Potter series, anything remotely Shannara related by Terry Brooks, the EC series by J. Auel and the more recent acquisitions (see further on in the post) to the household. The only true book passions the spouse and I share are Stephen King, Harry Potter and the newest members of our little library. He is more of Dean Kootz kinda guy for the most part. We have an obscene number of books.

The reason I gave the above information is to show the pretty extreme differences in our reading (well, my reading, lol) and that there is very little that we share as reading passion. Until recently. The latest series added to our library thoroughly entranced both of us. The spouse used his holiday gift from the in-laws to buy a book that has been impossible to get at the local library (a leap for him since he usually does the library thing first). I've had an aversion to the series because it has a massive teenage following (have you guessed yet) or we would have bought the first book sooner. The spouse devoured it (rare, very rare for him) and insisted I read it.

Let us push on to say, I am now hooked. My absence for the past four days is because I've been wrapped up in the Twilight Saga. Yep, it grabbed me. So much so that the spouse decided he would treat me to the remaining three books. He brought the last two home on Friday evening. I handed back to him the last of the series this morning (Saturday), finished. Obsessive, completely sucked in...I could NOT sleep until I was done. And now I'm ready to start the whole series all over again.

It is not rare for me to do that with a new book, but 4 is definitely something new. I don't know what possessed me, other than it really is a good series. Perhaps because it's been forever since we've gotten a new book. Maybe it's because I desperately needed a break from the "real" world. I've not looked at the news (either online or on TV) since the first book hit my hands. The break has been refreshing in the sense that I spent a few days in a mindless, numb state that didn't make me feel there was something that I needed to do NOW. I had a vacation from the panic, anger and fear that the news sometimes floods me with.

My only problem now is that I've torn through the new books and am stuck with re-reading my favorites until the spouse finishes. Not a big problem really but what I really WANT to do is read beginning to end, one after another with no waiting. Finish one, start the next. That is my most favorite way to read a series.

So I patiently wait, another week or so, for the spouse to finish (I have mentioned that reading is troublesome for him, that will explain the time). I think I'll spend the next week reading over something slightly more relevant to prepping just give my brain a fantasy break. Guess it's going to be Square Foot Gardening this week, not that it will keep me away as fiercely....I'll still be around to ramble at you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Pagan sun festival that was taken over by the early Church in an effort to stamp out any religion that was not their own Day!

I hope your light bearing fir in the stand decorated with shiny baubles, yule fire burning in the fireplace and enormous feast of roast beast do indeed bring back the sun and the light of the new year shines brightly on you and yours.

My sincerest expressions of good will and peace to your family as the winter begins and the forecast calls for you to be stuck in the house due to snow, ice and frigid temps. Should you survive the "long night" of winter intact and not insane, may the warm spring sun and showers bring rebirth to your land.

Many blessings to all (Christian, Pagan, Jew, Muslim, etc) on this eve of celebration, whether you celebrate it or not. Every one can use some good tidings now and again, so these are mine to you!

Happiest of Holidays,

Ozark Momma, Ozark Spouse and Ozark Screamers

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh my...I'm in swap heaven!

I stumbled on a fun little site tonight, one you may or may not be familiar with. I'll share it with ya in a minute but I gotta tell's darn addictive!

I've spent the last hour and a half going through books we've been wanting to get rid of and adding them to my trade list as well as adding books to my want list. Haven't even started on movies or cds...this could well be the bestest trade/swap site I've seen yet. Heck, you can even print the postage to mail your "media" right from the site.

Come join me in the fun, but be really truly is addictive!


Books, cds, movies and for those that have them, games. I tell ya, I can (and probably will) spend all night browsing this place. I have to wrestle with my book demons a bit though. I simply can't give up a chunk of the books I have, but I want so many more! So I'll be going through the movies to see what is still hidden away in boxes (I think that after a year in boxes they are fair game, right?)

Anyway, just wanted to share something fun and fairly free with ya.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lessons from Dr. Seuss

Don't think you, as an adult, have anything to learn from good ol' Dr. Seuss? Think again. The screamers and I read something Seussical nightly. They pick, I read. There's been a lot of "Grinch" lately, because of the season. "Horton" and "Yertle" are two big favorites here as well (Horton was even before the movie, which is freakin' hilarious btw). The screamers have only recently discovered the joy of my absolute fave, The Lorax.

While I've known and loved Seuss for years upon years, the recent readings of them have started to ring a whole new message for me. As a youngster, they were pure entertainment with childlike lessons to be learned (though originally it wasn't Seuss' obvious intention to preach, he did a fine job of making you think without the preachiness). Now however, stories like Yertle the Turtle, most specifically, are relating to the times for me. Originally, Yertle was written as a parallel to Hitler. Wouldn't Seuss be surprised to see how well it relates to the US now?

How far our country climbed on the backs of the small, not just her citizenry but other countries and their citizens as well. How far she has to fall. Her grasp became too greedy and carried many a man and woman along to those reaching heights. The fall will be great and we, the Macks, will still carry the weight. There are many who will have their shells crack, who will die of hunger or simply be lost. There are also many who will be Mack, sitting cheerfully on the side of the pond in the end, knowing they are at last free. There will be mud, oh will there ever be mud, but there will be freedom as well. Will you be a Mack or one of the silent stack?

I chose to be a Mack, quite honestly. I chose to speak out, in my way, and burp. I also chose to pass on to the screamers the knowledge that one little burp (though at the moment they choose to take it literally) can change the world. It literally takes one good notion/idea/plan to build or destroy. The proof is all around us. Our country began as a glimmer, a burp. It seems that it will end in a fall however as the principles of the founding have been lost along the way to greed and power. To build her back (if it is at all possible) we will have to look closely at the original burp and try as best we can to make a duplicate, only louder this time so that the message holds true.

Don't think you have anything to learn from rhyming children's books? Think again. You might be pleasantly surprised.

ETA: A bit of pleasantness today...I became an Auntie again (not that I haven't been since I was 11yrs old). Julio Lamar (not his real name) was born at 2:14pm CST, weighing in at 7lbs 12oz with a shock of red hair. I won't get to see the little rooter for a bit, probably not for at least a month, as I've been called to that loverly 6mth jury duty that MO has. Hoping desperately to get out of it as my uncle is a Highway Patrol detective and my cousin is a HP patrolman. At any rate, the rooter and my sis are doing well and I'm really wishing I was in KY.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Poorer than we thought we were....

According to the SNAP calculator (I linked it before), we were eligible for roughly $375 in food stamps. I made an appointment, went in with all the required paperwork and got approved (no big surprise there). The surprise came in the form of a letter this am. We are receiving $391. We weren't expecting to get any until next month BUT the card came with the letter. Why?

We are poorer than we thought we were. I had no idea that we were in such dire straights as to deserve "expedited" services. Apparently, SNAP thinks we need the money NOW.

May I put it out there that we've been doing alright on our personal budget of $350 a month? That we've actually built up a nice little stock of storables without this assistance? And all this time, we've been dirt poor enough that we could have been getting all that "money". Now, for the next 3mths at least, we have the extra $$ to put to the bills and land purchase.

I suppose I should be feeling that we were failing ourselves because we are so far below "the line" that we needed those food stamps ASAP. I don't. I'm amazed at the fact that we have been making it when according to the .gov we shouldn't have been. Doesn't that just peel your paint?

Bonus, we can buy seeds with this. Yippee! The catch, there are no seeds available at big box mart right now. So when the time comes that they are available, there will be some serious seed buying for us. I have to re-read the info, but I think food producing plants are included in this as well. Can you see my plans? Now to convince my father that we need our own garden plot (since we won't be out on the land until late next year at the earliest). Maybe we'll get lucky and find a rental closer to the land that will have a spot for a garden. We're looking to get out of here (too many issues with the landlord) and into something with an actual yard for the screamers. Alas, that will have to wait until later this spring.

Anyway, the point is that we got "assistance" that we didn't think we needed but in the long run this short period of accepting is going to help us out more than if we hadn't accepted. In the next three months we can pay an extra $900 on the land, bringing us approximately 6mths closer to having the deed in hand.

I can live with that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Now that is Survival!

I love my family...adore them with every fiber of my being. They are a trip that few would enjoy, but I relish the time with them. Every year I marvel at the fact that I survived. Growing up in such an odd family, I have no right to be alive...really, lol. But I managed. And it is fun!

Family Christmas went over with lots of fun and laughter, of course. The screamers kept everyone dully entertained and all got to their homes afterward safely (always a bonus) before the ice and rain began to take hold in it's various locations. We sit here now in 14 degree coolness, enjoying the quiet of our own home (note: we didn't have to travel far as the parental figures only live 2 miles or so away). Rules were followed by family in the "no battery" department. The screamers received learning games and play rugs (Candyland and a Tonka truck thingy).

The in-laws even followed along. The screamers received their holiday goodness from KY with joy. Clothes, a little bit of candy, a handpuppet each and a toothbrush each. Poor deprived kiddos actually squealed with glee. Makes a momma proud. More importantly, makes a daughter-in-law proud that after all these years she is being listened to! So the quickly growing screamers now have a few more warm clothes to add to the closet. Reminder to self: I seriously think it is safe to sort through the outgrown/summer stuff now.

The weather is moving in on us this week, really showing that it is "that time of year". Snow, ice, freezing rain and sleet tossed about by some serious wind. We are ever grateful for our kerosene backup and oil lamps. We've not had to use them yet, but feel better knowing they are HERE instead of elsewhere. The only down side is that the spouse can't work/drive in the mess (he does deliveries by trade) especially in the "hills", so he missed out on work today. Bound and determined to go tomorrow though, as we really can't afford to lose the money. Plus his holiday bonus (however small it may be) is there waiting for him. That is the final touch for gifts for the screamers from the jolly guy as well as a bit extra to pick up one or two smallish things we've been eyeing for prepping.

We're also not so patiently waiting on the gift cards the in-laws sent to the spouse and myself. Straight to prep supplies though I may treat myself to some new tee shirts. The spouse is thinking on getting me a dehydrator for Christmas, I'm planning on a bluing kit for him.

The littlest screamer asked for a puppy for Christmas. I so wish! Unfortunately we can't here. Maybe next Christmas.

I'll drop off here, as it is nearly bedtime for the munchkins...feel free to give me some ideas about what to spend my holiday gift on!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weekend Plans

This coming Sunday is our "Family Christmas". The time when all the slightly twisted members of my maternal side get together to have a little fun. Should be even more fun than last year as there were 5 weddings in the family this year. At least 2 of the new brides have NEVER been to a gathering with just us maniacs. If I had it in me, I'd warn them...but it will be way more fun to sit back and watch the horror on their faces as they realize that they voluntarily entered into this insanity. I was born to it, not that I would chose any other way, but they married it!!

So as I wrap one practical gift (homemade instant potato soup mix...just add hot water) and one gag gift (I'm torn between dog biscuits and toilet paper...both seem kinda practical right now actually) I sit and reflect on Family Christmases past. This will mark the 13th Christmas without Grandpa, his spirit is honored by my mom with her preservation of his favorite chair and jacket sitting quietly by the tree. I think about the patriarch of our strange family and how he would have enjoyed the mild insanity that we have adopted over the years. Pa passed away a week after I graduated high school, never met the spouse and didn't get to see us favorite grandkids (the last 5 born) grow to the adults we are. He would have been proud. He would be entertained and quite possibly a bit appalled. Alas, he is missed.

We party on, without Pa here, with our huge food offerings and strange gifts (we do the White Elephant/New England/whatever you call it exchange). New members seem to be brought in yearly the past 5 years or so, beginning with the birth of my oldest screamer. They learn young the disappointment of receiving a case of Safeguard (as the oldest picked the biggest box under the tree last year, he was mighty upset to find that enclosed) and to enjoy the laughter of family.

We are the noisy Irish type of family, but are not wholly Irish. Our roots are actually Welsh with some Scot, Irish and German thrown in for good measure. Stories are shared over and over with the same smiles and laughs as always. Family history repeated orally, lessons in hardship shared and since "the grandkids" are now all grown we learn things about our parents that would have caused the need for therapy had we learned them as children. And the parents learn things about us that would have caused the need for severe beatings had they known when we were younger.

We are scattered throughout Missouri, Kentucky and Texas but manage to find (most of us) the way "home" for this one weekend. Being the sentimental nutjob of the bunch, I take it all in with a feeling of joy. My screamers are getting to experience something that so many their ages don't. Family, in its raw unadulterated form. It isn't about the holidays/gifts anymore, hasn't been for years. It is about the time we get together, even if it is just once a year.

The one thing I will be missing this year is my sister. She is forbidden to come. Strict orders. No way will she be allowed to even leave the state of Kentucky. No, no crimes have been committed, no laws broken. She is simply being told to stay put by the family. Why? Because she is 38 weeks pregnant with baby #2 and tonight is a full moon. I am ecstatic for her and wish that I could afford the trip down to be there for her as she was there for the birth of both screamers.

I miss her badly. We have the same complaints about Mom (would you please not rearrange my kitchen cabinets to your don't live here) and many of the same ideals. You wouldn't have thought that growing up (she is 8 years my senior), we despised each other. Actually had a thrown down fight in the front yard, where my skinny ass 11 year old self was body slammed by her 7mths pregnant behind. That'll show her to stick her finger in my face...yep...push her butt in the dryer when she bends over...then run like hell. Unfortunately, I did not run fast enough. I actually think the term "slut" is what got me body slammed though. I'll have to ask her, the whole incident is a little fuzzy for me (concussion maybe?). We get on beautifully now though. Very few moments of disgust with each other. Could have something to do with the fact that I grew up. At least that is what she says. Gosh I miss her.

But I'll be on the phone with her most of the day Sunday, I'm sure. She's emotional and high strung right now. I remember the first Family Christmas I missed, sobbed like a twerp and I was 22yrs old. Didn't even have the excuse of being pregnant like she does. The niece will be here though (her 21 yr old daughter....doing the math?) provided her baby brother doesn't decide to make an appearance before she hits the road for the long drive up. I almost wish he would, not because I don't love my niece but because I'm afraid he'll show his little rear AFTER she is here. Keeping the fingers crossed of course.

So there you have it, the rambling plans of the weekend madness coming my way. I'm kinda hoping to score some of those bars of soap or bottles of shampoo this year. One less thing to spend money on!

Hope your weekend is as interesting as mine is bound to be. Check the preps and snuggle week is going to be a dozy!

P.S. Wild weather on the way here next week. Lots of freezing rain, temp drops and snow in the forecast. We're breaking out the heaters for an overhaul and prepping them for use. The electric is bound to go down at some point.

P.S.S. Ain't this a pretty picture of the World today?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inspired by Micheal

So I commented on Micheal's Earthquake post tonight, mainly about the last paragraph concerning food stamps/government assistance (now named SNAP). I know that I'm sure to catch a buttload of flack over my thoughts, but in truth they are logical. At least to me they are.

I firmly believe that if you have paid into the system (ie taxes) then you should use the system. They use you, return the favor. It's your money that is used to support these programs, if you qualify to use them then by golly USE THEM!! Now is not the time to pander to those feelings of pride, not if you need the help.

As I said in my comment to Micheal, I'd rather see a hard working American that needs the assistance get that assistance than those that pay nothing into the system, flaunt the fact that they aren't here legally and abuse it all get that assistance (not in so many words but that is the gist of it). We used to live next door to a house full of the later. It made me ill. Still does to think of it. So illegal, tons of under the table cash and yet they received housing and food assistance. How, I don't know...but they did. The screamers and I would traipse down to the Square for some ice cream and pass by the office. I immediately recognized our neighbors cars (yes, several cars for several families each receiving assistance and living in one house). A blind eye was turned to this. Still is as far as I can tell. But that rant is not the reason for this post.

You may be surprised by what you qualify for. Our little family of four qualifies for nearly $400 a month, so says this calculator. I'm thinking it's time to re-apply (used to get them way back when the spouse was unemployed). It sure would take a load off of us to know that we have that money to apply to preps and free up our regular cash to pay things off quicker.

Sure, it puts us on the radar. It also puts us closer to our goals of being totally independent in a round about way. Use the food stamps to build the preps, use the cash to pay the bills off and start building. It is using the system to get things done quicker, therefore getting us to a better place quicker. The hoop jumping required is a small price to pay.

The key of course is to use them responsibly should you qualify. Every shopping excursion I am subjected to standing either behind or near a recipient that isn't awful responsible. Frozen dinners by the stack full, sodas, candy, sugary cereals...the list goes on. I cringe to think of what healthy, storable foods that just one stack of those dinners would be equal to. I know, I know...not every one has the time or skill to transform from scratch ingredients into something edible. Seriously though, it isn't hard to make biscuits. Doesn't take much more time to make a cake from scratch instead of a box. Personally, I like freshly cooked meats to pre-cooked frozen things covered in gravy...just a preference.

I think I'll call the local office tomorrow and see about making an appointment. It's worth the risk to me. Just one month of assistance would buy us three of storable foods. They are our tax dollars after all, and we are legal born and bred American, think we'll tap into that particular resource for a bit. It is about survival after all.


With all the yuck going on in the US and world in general, I feel like saying something light-hearted and funny. Don't know that this will be it, but if nothing else it will give me something to work on in the future...right? Uh, a little support here!

I want to offer my confession now...a list of flaws that are so flippin' obvious that even I know about them. Maybe you'll find something we have in common or perhaps even just something to laugh at because I remind you of someone you know. Don't worry, I won't be offended. These are my flaws/quirks and I fully embrace them, even if I know I shouldn't.

*I watch an obscene amount of history/disaster related stuff. NGC, History and History International are my most favorite channels of all time. I'm a geek like that.

*I knit everywhere I go. Even church. Some people think it's rude, that I'm not listening to the sermon. Maybe, maybe's my soul (see below).

*I fully enjoy religious debate. I thrive on it. My soul isn't your responsibility, besides I can read the Bible and interpret it myself thank you very much. This could stem from several things, mostly my love of tossing logic into situations that are completely illogical.

*I hate, deplore and despise doing dishes. I will wash silverware/utensils all day long. I have to force myself to even look at a sink full of anything else. As a matter of fact, I am silently bemoaning the fact that the sink is full right now. See, I should be doing dishes but embrace my quirks instead.

*I have a large stack of unfinished sewing projects that get no love. Quilt blocks, clothing for me...and to think, I going sewing every single Thursday with my mother and the ladies from church. I believe that is called procrastination or lazy (these words can and will be used interchangeably by my mother).

*I have a folder full of things I want to do in my own home and add to it often. Now I KNOW that we won't or can't do all/most of them, but it's nice to dream all the same (helloooooooo, nice big wood cook stove from Lehman's).

*I threaten the screamers with a creature called the "bow monster". I'm not sure what he is, what he looks like, what he smells like or if he is really even that scary. I just know that the "bow monster" doesn't like little boys that jump on Mommy's bed. It works. I simply say "booowwwww mooooonsteeeer" and they stop. It's kinda Pavlovian.

*I read the same books over and over. Yes, new ones do get added to the repertoire but to me a good book is like a good movie. I may be able to recite passages word for word and yet it still holds a weird fascination for me.

*I have owned "The Dark Half" by Stephen King for years, but have never read past the first chapter. I don't know why, the book gives me the willies, I just can't make myself read it. Now "IT" doesn't bug me in the least, never has. I know, I'm a freak.

*I simply cannot abide it when friends/relatives quote me total misinformation (aka "the world is flat"). It rubs me wrong in so many ways. I know they are wrong. I tell them so. I give them the proof they need. Then I tell them to read a book/use the net/grow a brain before they start flapping the pie hole again. (Really, I'm not a total b***h, I just have a few raw nerves concerning stupid people)

*I stay up way too late, get up way too early and take a nap with the screamers. Oldest screamer is beginning to have independent thoughts that naps are not cool. These are thoughts that must be crushed. Like a bug. How will I get by with no nap? Do the dishes you say! Pa-shaw, I say.

*My brain works on logic, science and facts. I find religion on a whole a difficult thing to grasp. It is highly illogical. I go to church...heck, I was saved and baptized as a youngster. Then I got older, experienced the world and life (and logic). I don't deny that there is a higher power, sentient or not (whatever floats your boat), I just have extreme difficulty with each religions' absolute belief that they are THE one true religion (further fraction this down to each branch of Christianity). Have you personally met G*d? Did she tell you which was right? Did she tell you what happened to all the millions of people that died and are dying before the "right" religion came along or was accepted? I hate to think that my previous life worshipping a pagan idol was wasted.

*I like to be glib. It's fun. It's hilarious to see the looks on peoples' faces while they are trying to work out whether or not you were serious in your statements. Read the above quirk again while looking in the mirror. You'll see what I mean.

Hope you enjoyed a look into my rather twisted brain. I also hope it gave you something to smile about, since those times will be few and far between I fear this spring.

Hold your loved ones close, gift with love and enjoy the Holidays!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Not US, Russian or any other country (though that is an interesting lesson for the future when the eldest takes up the history bug)...expanding on the Shaping the Future post.

I feel that I should explain why we came to the decision to school the way we do and how we go about it. Not for justification, by any means, as I know that these are my children (I was there, I know...believe me, I know) and they are my responsibility to educate, raise and shape into semi-decent human beings. There in lies the root of the reasoning. They are mine. I should be one of the models that they base themselves upon in the future. Am I saintly? Uh...NO. But in general I am an educated woman with a sense of community, responsibility and a touch of human sensitivity.

I base my decisions on personal experiences (both mine and the spouse's) with the public school system. I was bored to tears (in the most "academic" classes available btw). The spouse was told that he was ignorant and unteachable (big, huge story there that still ticks me off...I believe his parents were negligent for not reeming that teacher's ass). Nephew was medicated because he was "disruptive" (he was bored too), neice had an ENGLISH teacher that I witnessed saying "Ya'll kids get aways from over yonder" (yes, it was in rural KY...but this was an ENGLISH teacher).

Suffice it to say that neither the spouse nor myself were overly excited at the prospect of our typically active 5yr old going into a school and being told basically to sit still for 8hrs (no half day Kindergarten). The boy will sit still every night for upwards of 30mins for reading, 20mins or so for art and sometimes even 45mins for workbooks/computer work. But practically 8hrs...not on your freakin' life! We are lucky to make it halfway through the 5.5hr trip to KY without having to stop and let him run. Is he overactive? No, he's 5. Does he have ADHD/ADD? No, he's 5. It's what 5yr olds do. They run, they play and they learn as they go. Sorry, it's true (if they aren't totally addicted to the boob tube by that age).

We didn't come to our decision to home/unschool lightly. We weighed the options, including Montessori, and found after extensive research that our ideals of being our childrens' teachers were not un-natural or out of touch with the way we want to live anyway. We strive for something independent and natural, teaching our children is as independent and natural as it gets. Plain and simple.

As to the way we school...well, it isn't natural to sit in one place for hours on end cramming information that you have zero interest in into a tired, overstimulated brain. That's why babies will scream bloody murder until their situation/surroundings are changed. So we chose to continue with the independent/natural theme. We let the screamers tell us (in their own funny/weird ways) what they are interested in. It really isn't difficult to pick up on what they want to learn about. You listen, watch and offer. When they get tired of a particular subject (this week is weather/seasons/plants) we abandon it and pick up again when they are interested. It teaches them that the knowledge is there, when they want it, and they can utilize it at their whim. This may not ALWAYS be the case, but I am well versed enough in plenty of subjects to muster my way through until the oldest is at least 10.

This approach is what works for us. Makes hard work sometimes for logging things in for the "school" to review but worth it because it teaches the screamers more than they would get from sitting in an overcrowded (40 students, 1 teacher and 1 aide) classroom with "peers" that have little to no respect for their elders, let alone for one another. The screamers accompany me on shopping trips where they learn manners (from me, not other shoppers by any means) like holding the door, assisting elders and other good things. We work on shapes, lists, colors, math and a variety of subjects on a single grocery trip. In restaurants (what are those? lol) we work on table/public manners and if we happen to be in a cultural inspired one (Mexican, Greek, Italian, etc) it offers a learning opportunity involving those cultures from people that are of those cultures.

These are occasions that aren't truly offered in public schools. More hands on, inspirational learning moments that come from the child's own natural curiosity. Instead of the insipid lukewarm response to that curiosity that would be given in most public schools, my screamers get to experience things firsthand with I tend to get overly excited when they show true interest in something vs passing interest. We visit National Parks weekly instead of maybe once a year, the zoo is a favorite place as is the science museum and art museum. In public school, these places would be visited rarely. That is not the education I chose for my children. I chose for them to experience life firsthand, learn true consequences, search for realistic and usable answers to questions that they are allowed to form themselves.

In all of this, we try to instill a sense of self. Self-knowledge, self-sufficiency and self-utilization. Use the skills you have to learn/develop new ones. It is just starting to click with the eldest that this is feasibly possible and he adores that freedom that he wouldn't necessarily have elsewhere. It's a selfish teaching form, I think...selfish in the sense that I am there for those discoveries, those moments when all the things click together in that amazing little brain and BAM, a solution is born. I am a selfish mother, a selfish teacher, in that I WANT to be there for those moments. When those big blue eyes light up with wonder at what he's discovered. I love that click moment. It is my favorite.
The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts. --Edmund Burke