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Eclectic Thoughts from a Homeschool Mom » 2007 » October

Old Television Shows Still Entertain Crowds

October 31st, 2007

There is some strange charm about old television shows. Sure, they can be considered “cheesy” by today’s standards. Although you could see the wires for sci-fi shows, and weren’t completely convinced of the stuntwork with the westerns, they are charming.

My son and I started watching one such show, Lost in Space, about a month ago. I wasn’t sure how heRobby the Robot would react. He is from a genereation where most action films are filled with CGI. Believeable special effects are taken for granted. Although he thought it strange that the show was in black and white, he enjoyed it and asked for more. He noted that 7’2″ tall Robby the Robot would have been the “R2D2” back then. Yup. Robby paved the way for R2D2, C3P0, and Johnny-Five, dear.

Thanks to modern technology, we can enjoy television programs from long ago. More and more of these classic series are showing up at local movie stores, Netflix, and movie rental shops. Some of my favorites are:

  • 1967 Spiderman cartoons
  • Land of the Lost
  • Mission Impossible
  • Twilight Zone
  • Night Gallery
  • Outer Limits
  • Gunsmoke

I know these shows don’t bring in the draw that: 24, Heroes, House, Lost, etc. do. However, they still are entertaining and great for families.

Are you an Avid Reader?

October 30th, 2007

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”– Mark Twain

Avid Reader If you were to walk into our home, you would see books everywhere. The only rooms in our home that don’t have books would be the: garage, formal dining room, and breakfast nook. Yes, even the bathrooms have books in them. As a family, we love to read. We could easily spend hours in a book store (not to mention hundreds of dollars), if we had the time/money.

As Christmas gets closer, I start thinking of good books to give as gifts. Many of the people that know our family, usually aren’t suprised when a book comes their way. Toys lose their charm. A good book can stay with you until the binding comes apart and pages fly in the breeze.

I wonder how many Americans read. Not that they can read, that they DO read. I know an intelligent woman that prides herself on not reading books. My mother-in-law works with a woman that hasn’t read a book in 10+ yrs. since she graduated college. She is actually proud of the fact. I find that quite sad.

I read something disturbing today: “A 1999 Gallup Poll found that only 7 percent of Americans were voracious readers, reading more than a book a week, while some 59 percent said they had read fewer than 10 books in the previous year. The number of people who don’t read at all, the poll concluded, has been rising for the past 20 years.”

I realize that television and the Internet play a key roll in why people don’t read. Another reason might be that Americans are constantly rushing around. Are we giving ourselves time to read? How many Americans turn off the television and sit down to read? When I was a kid, my parents got rid of the television for a while. At first, my brother and I HATED it. However, after a while we didn’t miss it. We filled the “t.v. hours” with books, family games, and playing outside. I think that many Americans have forgotten to do that.

I know that Gallup study is old. I wonder how Americans measure up today? Are we reading more or less? I am trying to do my share. I have read 30 books this year and would like to get in 35 before 2007 ends. Maybe I can make 40 next year?

This morning, I was at the USPS shipping out 12 books (2 book clubs I am on and ones I have sold on Ebay). The clerk at the counter asked: “What kind of books do you sell?” I replied: “Classics and good books mostly.” The clerk said: “Well, I really don’t like to read.” To which I replied: “Our family loves to read. I have read 30 books so far this year and am shooting for 35.” The lady in line behind me pops up and says: “30?! I don’t think I have read that many books in my entire life!” Makes you wonder how many folks out in America feel the same way about reading. They sure are missing out.

Not only does our family love to read, so do my in-laws and extended family. For example, our Great-Grandmother is 84 and has a sharp mind. You know why? She is a voracious reader (reading 5-7 books a week), does crafts, loves puzzles, and loves problem solving. I honestly believe that by keeping her brain “busy”, she is keeping the signs of mental aging at bay. I could be wrong. I hope I still have a sharp mind at 84.

For those little ones on my Christmas list, you are getting books this year. May you delight in Beatrix Potter, Maurcie Sendak, Tolkein, Roald Dahl, Jules Verne, Shel Silverstein, and Cornelia Funke on Christmas day. Enjoy their words. They stay with you forever.

Are we encouraging greed & laziness in children?

October 29th, 2007

When I was growing up, I was told that if I wanted something, I would have to work for it. I started babysitting (at $1/hr.) at an early age. I started working for my Mom’s company at age 12 (with special permission and for limited hours). After that, I started buying my own clothes. I bought my own bed and my own stereo. I never had a car because I couldn’t afford one on my own. I gave 1/2 of my wages to my Mom to help support our family. That was expected and never questionned.

Although my husband and I were young when we got married, we paid for everything ourselves. We bought our first car just after we were married and drove it for 12 yrs. We have always used credit cards for “emergencies” and have been mindful of what we buy. Needless to say, we realize that if you want something, you need to WORK FOR IT.

Yesterday, my son went over to a neighbors house to play. The mom came outside and told him and her son that if they raked leaves in the front yard, she would give them $2 each. My son thought it was a great idea (a chance to earn money-Woohoo!), her son looked at her and said: “Just $2? No way! If you say $10, I’ll do it.” To which my son replied: “You should be happy with $2. My mom would’ve said it was a home chore and not paid me at all.”

That got me to thinking, are we (American parents) encouraging our children to be greedy and expect the world to “give me everything I desire”? Are we saying to our children that hard work isn’t necessary unless it is backed with cash? Will these children expect a 6-figure job right out of college? Will these children be crushed when they realize that there are 50 other applicants for the job that THEY want? Will these children come back home to Mom and Dad and say: “Why won’t the world give me everything like you did?” I wonder.

I may be old fashioned in believing in the saying: “What goes around, comes around.” I think this goes for a positive attitude, hard work, honesty, and integrity. Are parents teaching those nowadays? Are parents trying to be “friends” and forgetting that what children need is a role model? When you see children mindlessly grabbing items in a store and expecting the parent to buy (which they do because they don’t want to make a scene), what are they saying to their kids? How about: “Ask and you shall receive – no matter the cost.”

My son wound up raking the neighbor’s yard – alone. He was thrilled to show us that he made $2 on his own. No, $2 isn’t much by today’s standards, but he was appreciative and proud of his accomplishments. No one gave him $2. He earned it. He was proud and paid for his hard work. After lessons today, he got a bucket and started picking up pecans in our yard. He plans on washing, bagging, and selling them to buy Christmas presents. With hard work, comes great rewards. THAT is what we should be teaching the next generation. Not buying them $200 tennis shoes or the newest video game because they are whining for it.

If parents wonder why their young, adult children aren’t happy…they need to look at how they raised them. Sometimes, not having “everything their hearts desire” is a good thing.

Christmas BEFORE Halloween? Oh Pleez!

October 29th, 2007

Is it me (no, it isn’t) or is Christmas being pushed on people sooner and sooner. Case in point, we were watching the Chargers vs. Texans game last night. A commercial came on during the break. No, it was a CHRISTMAS commercial. Let’s see, it is October. Halloween hasn’t arrived. They are showingChristmas before Halloween CHRISTMAS COMMERCIALS?!?

I can understand craft stores pushing holidays a bit sooner. If Michael’s or Hobby Lobby wants to put up Thanksgiving or Christmas displays early, that makes sense. Crafters want to start their holiday crafts early in order to get them done on time. That is understandable.

What bothers me is going into a Costco, Walmart, or THE MALL and seeing Christmas decorations as soon as September. Seeing Christmas commericals pushed before we dole out candy to Trick-Or-Treaters.

I realize that businesses want to “pull in” the consumer in order to squeeze every dime out of them before year end. However, can’t you take the holidays as they come? Let us celebrate the seasons while they are here. That is like being a kid and wishing you were 21. Enjoy it while it is here. It will be gone before you know it.

I’m Running here, Buddy! No Swerving or Honking Allowed!

October 29th, 2007

Are you an avid runner or bicyclist? If you are, you probably know what it feels like to be “scared” by drivers. Some drivers think it is funny to terrorize a bicyclist and/or runners by:Marathon runners

A) Honking when they are right next to them or

B) Swerving very close to them to push them off the road and scare the #$%*! out of them

I have had both happen to me many times in my running life. I know the drivers think it is funny. However, it can be downright dangerous.

A few months back, I had a woman come close to hitting me. I was running just off the road. The woman was talking on her cell phone and apparently didn’t see me (as I was on an open road, I don’t know how she would’ve missed me, but…). She just missed tagging me and gave a honk and a certain “hand gesture”. Apparently, she felt it was my fault. I stayed on the path and didn’t veer into the lanes of traffic. Nope, the driver felt it was my fault.

During my last marathon training season, I had a white Cadillac come extremely close to me. Once again, I was running just off the road, going against traffic. The man in the Cadillac thought it would be funny to swerve into me and “push” me off the road. If I hadn’t been paying attention or lost my balance, I would’ve been hit at 40 miles an hour.

Bicyclists I am constantly having to watch out for people pulling out of their driveways or onto a new road. Most drivers don’t even look in both directions. They pull right in front of me, only to notice me moments later.

If you are out driving, please WATCH OUT FOR BICYCLIST AND RUNNERS. We are in bike lanes, on roadside trails, and on sidewalks. You might think it is funny to swerve our way or honk at us. It isn’t. It is scary and dangerous. Give us some room!

22 Ways To Be A Good Democrat

October 29th, 2007

Got this in an e-mail today. I don’t usually post how I feel politically, but there are some interesting ideas here. Maybe that is why my husband and I are Libertarians? I am sure our founding fathers would love the state of things right now. Hmmm. (Let the angry retorts begin….)

22 Ways To Be A Good Democrat

1. You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on demand.
2. You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity.
3. You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans are more of a threat than U.S. Nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Chinese and North Korean communists.
4. You have to believe that there was no art before Federal funding.
5. You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical documented changes in the earth’s climate and more affected by soccer moms driving SUV’s.
6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural.
7. You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.
8. You have to believe that the same teacher who can’t teach fourth graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.
9. You have to believe that hunters don’t care about nature, but loony activists who have never been outside of San Francisco do.
10. You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it.
11. You have to believe that Mel Gibson spent $25 million of his own money to make The Passion of the Christ for financial gain only.
12. You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain parts of the Constitution.
13. You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.
14. You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and A.G. Bell.
15. You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides are not.
16. You have to believe that Hillary Clinton is normal and is a very nice person. Billary
17. You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn’t worked anywhere it’s been tried is because the right people haven’t been in charge.
18. You have to believe conservatives telling the truth belong in jail, but a liar and a sex offender belonged in the White House.
19. You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag, transvestites, and bestiality should be constitutionally protected, and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.
20. You have to believe that illegal Democratic Party funding by the Chinese Government is somehow in the best interest to the United States.
21. You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast, right wing conspiracy.
22. You have to believe that it’s okay to give Federal workers off on Christmas Day but it’s not okay to say “Merry Christmas.”
Ready to vote in November?

It is NOT a Small World After All

October 27th, 2007

Americans are getting larger. They are getting heavier, getting less active, and are living life to an excessNot such a Small World at an alarming rate. We hear this all the time. Now, Disney is changing to accomodate big people.

Amusement park patrons have grown so large, that they are unable to fit into carts and are clogging up rides because of their girth. It has leaked out that Disney is remodeling the Anaheim “It’s a Small World” ride. Why? Overweight patrons are weighing down the carts and stopping/jamming up the rides.

A recent article had this to say: “When the ride was first created in 1963, the boats and flume of Disneyland’s It’s A Small World were designed for use at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and ’65. The Americans riding in those pastel boats almost 45 years ago were much slimmer than those boarding the same boats now. While the Disney operators try their very best to eyeball the girth and size of the riders coming down the line (and purposely leave a row or two empty on many boats nowadays to hopefully keep them floating) even those discreet tactics don’t always work with today’s riders.

The boats weren’t designed to handle multiple adults weighing more than 200 pounds, and they now routinely bottom out in the shallow flume and get stuck. The Disney Imagineers who designed the unique flume ride system for the World’s Fair assumed that adult men would average 175 pounds, and adult women would average 135 pounds. Needless to say, those 1960’s statistics are hopelessly out of date in today’s world. This same issue creates similar problems on the drops at Pirates of the Caribbean, or even on the older dark rides like Pinocchio or Alice In Wonderland as the more heavily loaded cars try to keep up their pace throughout the ride. But at It’s A Small World, the weight related problems happen more frequently.

When the ride jams up, a Disney Cast Member runs in to the rescue and tries to graciously help a row or two of riders to exit the boat at the nearest emergency platform. Once a few extra adults step out of the boat, it pops up an additional inch or two in the water and off it goes. Sometimes the heavy riders involved take it all in stride and can laugh about it, but many times the riders involved turn nasty and yell at the Cast Members coming to rescue them.

Since the waistlines of America won’t be getting smaller anytime soon, and the stuck boats at It’s A Small World are becoming more and more frequent, Disney planners finally decided they had to do something. The ride rehab has actually been in the works for several years now while the engineers hashed out the details of the new boats and the huge logistics of replacing the old flume. The new flume will follow the exact same path as the original, and it will travel past sets that are in the exact same locations. But the extra depth of the new flume and the added buoyancy of the new boats should allow for several hundred extra pounds of churro-loving park visitors to pile into the new boats before they bottom out and bring the ride to a stop.”

D.I.Y. stands for “Done in Years”!

October 27th, 2007

Remodeling is a beautiful thing. Well, it is if it is done on budget and on time. Most homeowners that attempt to remodel a part of their home don’t really realize how much they are biting off until it is too late. My husband and I have watched This Old House a million times. We have watched shows like Sweat Equity and everything that the home improvement gurus can dream up.

As we live in a 30+ yr. old home, we needed to remodel (and dare I say update with fixtures other than putty or dark brown in color) our three bathrooms. We decided to start with the smallest bathroom first. I have to say that ripping down the hideous wallpaper was liberating. Scraping off 2 layers of cheap linoleum was exhilarating. Busting up the sink cabinetry that had years of water damage under it was a relief. Donating a cheap, plastic bathtub, faux marble brown sink, and rusty hardware was a joy. That is where the joy ended.

Mudding #2We have been extremely frugal with our purchases for this bathroom remodel. We found 2 cast iron bathtubs at our local Habitat for Humanity store for $40 (that was for both!). My husband also found at Habitat a faucet that costs $125 new for $3.50! NO KIDDING! We got a nice pedestal sink for $40 off of Craigs List. Crown molding for .10/ft at the Habitat store.  We found 12″x12″ real slate tiles for .99 sq/ft. We were given slick white 6″x6″ tiles from a friend that didn’t use them all for their remodel. I thought: “Wow! We are really saving BIG TIME on this bathroom! This is costing next to nothing.” Well, I was partly right.

It hasn’t been the supplies that have eaten away at our wallet. It is all the “extras” that you need. A tool for taking the tub drain off (did you know there is a special tool for that?). Sanding screens to smooth drywall. Putty knives for applying the mudding on the wall. Wall paper remover. Plumbing parts as the old ones were original and decayed. The list goes on and on. Granted, many of the items that we have purchased will be used on the other 2 bathrooms. I just didn’t realize we would be buying so many little things for the job. Mudding #1

Another thing that homeowners don’t take into account is time. We started this project almost 2 months ago. As my husband and I are swamped during the week, we have to fit remodeling into our “relaxation moments” on the weekend. Of course, that is around the other activities that we squeeze into the weekends (i.e. games, picnics, errands, bar-b-ques, etc.). There are weekends that are either too full or our bodies say: “Nice idea, but I don’t think I want to work on it right now.” So…it has been 2 months.

We finally got in the cast iron tub (only took us 4 tries with 4 adults lifting it to get it level and set into place). Today, we got the mudding and taping done. Wow! Progress! The room is actually starting to look good. Ok, the floors are down to concrete, the walls are bare and patched, there are no fixtures, etc. Yadda Yadda Yadda.

My husband thinks that we will have this bathroom done in 3 weekends from now. Anyone want to put money on it? Hmmm? As we will have family for Thanksgiving, I would really like to have a freshly remodelled bathroom available. So much to do, and so little weekends. We’ll see.

Escondido Wildfires and my Stubborn Dad

October 25th, 2007

When I heard that San Diego was on fire, the first thing I thought of was my 64 yr. old. Dad. My Dad lives in Escondido (just down the way from the Wild Animal Park). He lives in the house that I grew up in. The house next to the great, big field and across the street from the horse farm. It is a quiet neighborhood where most of the neighbors have lived there for 30+ yrs.

My husband sent me a link to Google Earth showing that familiar areas in Escondido were on fire. From what the interenet said, my Dad’s house was on fire. I was beside myself. I called and talked to my Dad 3 times that first day. How was he? Is he ready to evacuate? What did the local news say?

The projections that the news gave were very different from what was really happening. Yes, there were fires. No, they weren’t closer than a few miles away from my Dad’s house. Yes, there was lots of smoke and debris flying everywhere. No, the world was not coming to an end.

My Dad said that he and his neighbors had not been asked leave (contrary to what the news said). That they were all staying inside their homes and waiting until they were told to leave. Although the media tries to give an accurate picture of a disaster, they don’t always hit “the mark”. That can cause tons of stress for loved ones that are far away. I know I was a wreck for 2 days. I am better today.

I have to say that it is amazing that so many folks can come together when there is a disaster. How people (rich, poor, young, old, etc.) can put aside their lives and help one another. That stress CAN bring out the beauty in people. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? Sure, there were people taking advantage of the situation. My Dad said that he heard of some looters that had a semi-truck and were going through the wealthier areas of San Diego and having a “grabbing spree”. Thankfully, they found the people and arrested them.

My Dad also said that there have been stories of con-artists coming in and saying they are with contractors. They are telling folks that they will rebuild their homes. They ask for a down payment to secure future work and then skip on the work. That tragedy can bring some nasty folks around really sucks. Con-artists are lower-than-low to take advantage after a tragedy. How they could prey on those that are suffering is beyond me. To them: “Your day will come.”

I want to thank all of the volunteers, news people (you tried, I know), fire fighters, etc. that stepped up to help those effected by the San Diego fires. For those that were effected (evacuated, lost their homes, etc.,), I am so sorry. This was a horrific event and will go down in history with Katrina and 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

As the fires rage in San Diego, I also think of the places that are in the “line of fire”. The majestic Palomar Mountain and Observatory, Julian with their adorable shops and Mom’s Apple Pies, Santa Isabel with the best bakery in the world, Ramona & Valley Center with the simple ranches and wondering herds of cattle. Losing these things makes me sad.

Although it breaks my heart to hear that these areas are or might burn, I know they can be replaced. Trees grow back. Shops and bakeries can be rebuilt.

These fires have been a catastrophe for California. My thoughts and prayers are with those that have been effected by them. May this horrific event bring your communities together. May the economy strengthen. May people care for one another from now on as they did during these fires. I am glad that you are all safe.

Dad, I am SO THANKFUL that you are okay. I am glad that my childhood home still stands. I know that Mom is up in Heaven saying: “Why didn’t you evacuate?!” (I am thinking the same thing too.) However, I am extremely thankful that you are alright. Whew!

Homeschooling Improves Academic Performance

October 22nd, 2007

Article from the Fraser Institute –

Home schooling improves academic performance and reduces impact of socio-economic factors

Release Date: October 04, 2007

TORONTO, ON—Home schooling appears to improve the academic performance of children from families with low levels of education, according to a report on home schooling released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute.

“The evidence is particularly interesting for students who traditionally fall through the cracks in the public system,” said Claudia Hepburn, co-author of Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream, 2nd edition and Director of Education Policy with The Fraser Institute.

“Poorly educated parents who choose to teach their children at home produce better academic results for their children than public schools do. One study we reviewed found that students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school scored a full 55 percentage points higher than public school students from families with comparable education levels.”

The peer-reviewed report, co-written with Patrick Basham and John Merrifield, builds on a 2001 study with new research and data. It examines the educational phenomenon of home schooling in Canada and the United States, its regulation, history, growth, and the characteristics of practitioners, before reviewing the findings on the academic and social effects of home schooling.

Hepburn said evidence clearly demonstrates that home education may help reduce the negative effects of some background factors that many educators believe affects a child’s ability to learn, such as low family income, low parental educational attainment, parents not having formal training as teachers, race or ethnicity of the student, gender of the student, not having a computer in the home, and infrequent usage of public libraries.

“The research shows that the level of education of a child’s parents, gender of the child, and income of family has less to do with a child’s academic achievement than it does in public schools.”

The study also reports that students educated at home outperform their peers on most academic tests and are involved in a broad mix of social activities outside the home.

Research shows that almost 25 per cent of home schooled students in the United States perform one or more grades above their age-level peers in public and private schools. Grades 1 to 4 home school students perform one grade level higher than their public- and private-school peers. By Grade 8, the average home schooled student performs four grade levels above the national average.

Hepburn said a growing body of new research also calls into question the belief that home schooled children are not adequately socialized.

“The average Canadian home schooled student is regularly involved in eight social activities outside the home. Canadian home schooled children watch less television than other children, and they show significantly fewer problems than public school children when observed in free play,” she said.

The report concludes that home schooling is not only a viable educational choice for parents, but can also be provided at a much lower cost than public schooling. The report notes that in the U.S., home schooling families spend less than $4,000 per year on home schooling while public schooling in the U.S. costs about $9,600 per child.

“Canadian and American policymakers should recognize the ability of parents to meet the educational needs of their children at home, without government involvement,” Hepburn said.

“While home schooling may be impractical for many families, it has proven to be a successful and relatively inexpensive educational alternative. It merits the respect of policy makers, the attention of researchers, and the consideration of parents.”

The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research.

Contact: Claudia R. Hepburn
Email: claudiah@fraserinstitute.ca
Telephone: (416) 363-6575, ext. 227

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