Posted by: Genny Colby | March 25, 2014

15 Random Reasons…

Why we are a homeschooling family.  Up until now we have always had the idea “we can still send her to kindergarten in the fall” but after much thought and discussion, we have realized that we always intended to home school our kids for the long haul.  But as a former classroom teacher, I had to really think about what that means and WHY.  I wanted to be sure I was doing it for my kids, and not for me.  There are a many reasons, some funny, some serious, some silly,  and some very real reasons why as one who does truly believe in our public schools would make this choice.  So, in no particular order…here are some of them…

1-We have the freedom to follow our kids interests, where ever they may take us.

2-We can move at their pace.  If they are “ahead” in one area, we can keep going.  If they are struggling with things, we can take the time to really make sure they understand the concepts before moving on.   Something many classroom teachers do not have the time or ability to do right now.

3-No teaching to a test.  Yes, as a homeschooling family my kids will need to take a few standardized tests (3, 5, 7, 9, 11, grades) but other than that, no testing.

4-Learning can and will be found in all areas of life, including field trips, community events, and volunteering. It can even happen on vacations!

5-I won’t have to get my kids up and moving in the morning.  We can move at our own pace.

6-There is and will be lots of time for play.  Kids learn the most through play, especially at the early ages, but even older kids need to play.  Everyone needs an outlet!

7-We will have time for extras like gymnastics, and dance, and swimming, and other sports that strike their interest.

8-No school car pick up lane!

9-No selling of random stuff to raise money for our schools.  I don’t mind supporting our schools and sometimes those candy bars are yummy, but we are putting too much  on the kids to raise money for their classrooms when they (and their teachers) should be focused on learning.

10-We can do school in our jammies any day we want!

11-We don’t have to stop a lesson, or a project simply because “it’s time to move on to the next thing” but we can explore and continue until WE are done.  The opposite is also true,  if we are struggling with a lesson or concept, we can simply set aside and come back to it later, or tomorrow, or next week.

12-We have greater control as to what our children are exposed to by others.  This includes language, books, movies, concepts we don’t feel ready or are appropriate for our kids at that age.

13-We can take breaks and go outside when ever we need it.  We can turn a trip to the park into an amazing learning adventure and they may not even know it.

14-Sick days? No problem.  Snow days?  Ah, no worries.  We can do school when ever it works for us.  Morning, afternoon, evening,  weekday or weekend.  As long as we hit the required number of days/hours in  a given year, we are good.  And we have a full year, not an academic year.  And since school at home looks very different from school in a traditional setting, this is not really all that difficult!

15-No worries about sending “forbidden” food in school lunches.  No worries that the lunches I send may be deemed “not nutritional enough”.  No worries about what my kids actually pick/do eat from the lunch program.

So there you go.   That is not to say that this includes ALL of our reasons, as there are many many more. But this gives you a little insight into some of the reasons.  As times goes by I will likely address some of the more influential ones in separate pieces.  If you are homeschooling family, what are some of your reasons to home school?  If you send your kids to school, what do you like about it?   Remember, there is not one right answer….just what is right for your family/child right now.

 

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 28, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…

I have found the next series that I just can’t put down and want to just read and read!  I have been looking for another book/series that captivates me this way so I am super excited.  What is it you may ask?  The Cousin’s War Series by Philippa Gregory.  The first book in this series is The White Queen which is set in during the War of the Roses.  As the Lancasters and Yorks fight over England, we see the world not through the eyes of the men, but the woman who actually had more power and influence than history gives them credit.  Yes, this is a piece of historical fiction and Ms Gregory I am sure takes great liberties with her story telling, but when you look at the choices made about marriages, it is not hard to see that power that a strong woman would have behind the king.  I will be the first to admit that I don’t know a great deal about this time period, but I am finding it fascinating.  And I  want to learn more it.  Always a good sign!

As Elizabeth rises to power as the wife of Edward, who as claimed the throne for the Yorks from the Lancasters, we see how influential a woman truly can be, as well as how limited her life was within the confines of the time.   As it is told from her point of view, we don’t get bogged down in endless details about campaigns, wins/losses, and political posturing.  What we do get is the story of a woman who will do anything and everything to protect her family, her children, and the legacy to which their father fought so hard to win.

This story is written well, with a great attention to detail.  Ms Gregory has obviously done her research as while I am sure she has taken many liberties with the story, she has also seemed to stay true to the facts as are known today, fleshing out ideas and theories and stories about those that history has either forgotten, or gave little attention.  Her style is easy to read, even if you are not overly familiar with the time frame.  The story flows well, though it may be nice to have more of a family tree than the bare basics as there are so  many siblings, half siblings, cousins, etc that are all interconnected.   This is a story that will grab you and take you back to 1400′s England.  Not always a pleasant time, but one filled with mystery, intrigue, deception, love, and plays for power.

And I finished it in under a week!  Which really goes to show how engaging it was, as I did not want to put it down!  Now on to the second book in the series, The Red Queen.  I am optimistic that I will read this one just as fast…as long as two small humans decide that mommy can stop and relax for 10 min some day!

The Red Queen (The Cousins' War, #2)

What books have captivated your attention?  What series did you find yourself lost in?  What are you reading this week?

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 26, 2014

Discrimination…It’s for Everyone!

As I am sure many of heard, Arizona is on the edge of, in my opinion, a very slippery slope with their newest legislation SB1062.  Under the guise as “freedom of religion” piece of legislation, it is opening the door to legal discrimination.  To start, I am still not sure why such legislation is required. We all have the freedom to our own religion, with very little fear of prosecution, as long as your religious practices do not harm others (abuse, etc).  But where this bill begins to cross the line is that is an open invitation to use one’s religion to make assumptions and judgments about others, and use that to deny them service, access to services, or access to the same opportunities as others in their community.

In essence, as long as the you can provide some sort of “religious basis” you can deny someone else a seat in your restaurant, a ride in your cab, a loan at your bank, or even a job.  This has been touted as an “anti gay/lesbian” bill.  And I do believe that this is this is the basis for such legislation even being written, but it really could and likely will if passed have larger consequences.  But first, it is important to note that any private establishment already reserves the right to deny any patron service or access to service based solely on the owners discretion.  Often times this is used to remove guests who are rude to the point of threatening, abusive, showing inappropriate behaviors or using offensive language, or is otherwise disturbing the business now or has repeatedly done so in the past.  AND Arizona does not currently recognize same-sex marriage/unions, and there are no legal protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.  So why this bill?  Well, it seems that those in the Conservative Right Wing have seen the writing on the wall…we as a human race are realizing that all people regardless of ANYTHING deserve the same rights and protections.  That simply being a human being is what allows us these rights and discrimination of any kind is wrong, unfair, and unjust.  Arizona legislators are trying to be “pro-active” to sending their state into the dark ages again.  It was not that long again that we separated people based on gender, and race.  Women have long fought, and still do, to be seen as equal to men.  We thought that those who were not “white” were less.  We did not allow those of other races to marry.  For the most part, we have seen that all these beliefs were false and have made moves to treat all as equal under the law.  Why is sexual orientation any different?

The push back on this legislation seems to have taken those in control of the Arizona legislature by surprise.  Though I can’t see why they should be surprised!  Many of them have even claimed that they don’t see this as a bill that allows discrimination (um, really)?  What fantasy world are they living in?  Basically they are giving anyone the right to deny someone access to a good or service based on some sort of assumption or loosely held belief.  It is not only those in the gay community that will face discrimination, but it can easily be extended to those who are divorced, who are single parents, who do not practice the same faith as the one providing the service, and I am sure the list goes on.    If you have not done so yet, this video of an Anderson Cooper interview sums it all up nicely and puts it all into perspective about how far-reaching this bill really could go.

Thankfully, there has been a lot of negative push back to the state of Arizona on this piece, though why it is taking so long for the Governor to veto it is beyond me.  It leads me to believe that she is really considering this a serious piece of legislation.  Which is almost as troubling as the bill itself.  All of these people were elected to serve the people of Arizona, not just those that voted for them or have the same beliefs/political ideology.  (This actually a complaint for any politician, regardless of level of office, or political affiliation…they forget they are supposed to be working for ALL, not just those that give them money).

Discrimination in a long, deeply rooted part of our country’s history.  I would hope that by 2014 we would be closer to moving further away from this instead of finding new ways to incorporate it into our society.  Our country was founded on the idea that everyone should have the freedom of/from religion.  No one is denying anyone’s right to have and practice a religion.  But to bring your religion into your work place…well that seems not only discriminatory, but also a really foolish business move.  And really, how does one’s beliefs affect anyone else?  Who are these people to pass judgement on others?  Please, correct me if I am wrong, but is it not a basic tenet of almost all religions to be kind, caring, and compassionate to others?  Is that not how people define being a “Christian”?  Today it seems that everyone seems to believe they have their right to the spiritual judge and jury for mankind.  Unless I am forgetting my Bible studies, I thought that there were already those of a “higher power” to make those calls.  Won’t we all have to answer for the choices that we have made when the time comes? (If you believe in afterlife/heaven/hell/etc.)

I can only hope that the rest of the country is closely watching the situation in Arizona.  Even if this bill is vetoed (as I sincerely hope it is) there are going to be consequences.  And those that matter most will be the companies that decide Arizona is not the environment to expand their businesses.  The organizations that  elect to take their work retreats/conventions/events to other locations.  Families will take their hard-earned vacation dollars elsewhere.  Unfortunately it will be the all mighty dollar that will eventually get our country from moving backwards in our attitudes to moving forward.

There are many that argue a full boycott of Arizona is not fair as there are many private citizens and many companies, business, employees who do not agree with this piece of legislation or in any form of discrimination.  And I agree that it is not fair to punish those that don’t agree with this situation, but how do you only patronize those business?  And how do you reward the state as a whole for electing these people into office and NOT holding them accountable.  I know that even those that did vote for these leaders may not agree with what is happening, but until you hold those in charge accountable and actively work to change things, make things better, it is unfortunately the dollar that it is the only weapon the rest of have to make our point.  We will not stand for discrimination of any kind.  We will not let people hide behind their religion in order to do so.  We are all in this together and only by putting those in positions of leadership that will represent us all, do what is best for us all, protect all of our rights, we will as country move ahead.

As Dr Seuss said… “A person is a person,  no matter how small”    I would suggest that we focus on the idea that a person is a person…and that should entitle them to equal treatment under the law.  That all the other stuff is not what matters.  That we treat all people with kindness, compassion, and respect is what matters.

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 22, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…oops! Saturday

I missed last week because I was well, reading!  So, in the last two weeks I finished 2 books…yay, on target for my one book a week.

The first one I finished was Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill.  Ms. Hill is the niece of current leader of the Church of Scientology, David Mascavige.  I am just going to say I have always found this “religion” to a little wonky, kind of out there, sort of hard to believe that people honestly believe some of what is supposed to be their core beliefs.  But hey, to each their own.  After reading this book I am even more sure that Mr Hubbard and those that have developed this “religion” from his science fiction/fantasy writing must have really enjoyed the 60′s.  Most of the beliefs of this so-called religion seemed to come from drug induced hallucinations.   Now, I am not saying that there isn’t some good…a strong sense of community is fine.  Splitting up families, having children raise children, and basically saying you are either with us or against us…those are very troubling aspects of a faith.  But what is more troubling, if even half of what Ms Hill writes is true and not the memories of a child filtered through feelings of loss and abandonment, then I can not see how anyone would want to be so devoted to this “church”. The whole set up from where you live, to the jobs you do, to education about your so-called faith seems all about power, control and beating everyone down into submission to do exactly as they are told to benefit those in power.  I know, not too unlike most religions, but this one is super scary.  From their “auditing” to their “security checks” to the fact that you can’t learn certain aspects of your religions origins until you have reached a certain level on the “bridge” has got to make most sane people wonder what in the heck they are hiding.

I am sure that the celebrities and those they refer to as “public Scientologists” see a very side of the “church”.  They are likely not as aware of all the inner workings, of all the restrictions on those members who live and breathe and bleed for this so-called “church”.

Ordinarily I take a “hey, what ever works for you/fills your spiritual need” approach when it comes to religion.  But Scientology seems less like a religion and more like a cult.  It was a good read.  Scary, terrifying actually that people believe all this, but still a very interesting look inside this “religion”.  I don’t normally read memoirs, mostly because I often find them rambling and uneven.  This one did at times seem to ramble on and then abruptly change topics or direction.  At times it was difficult to follow the flow of time, though in part that could be because time seems to move a different pace when you so immersed in the “church”.  Then you finally get to the end when Ms Hill and her husband are leaving the “church” and it all sorts of zooms along, ending so nice and tidy like, which I doubt it really is in real life.  Guess it makes for a better book…

The other book I read this week was The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.  A nice, easy, engaging story.  It captivated my attention, drew me into the characters, and I wanted to find out how it all connected.  It is, quite simply, the story of three woman living in a small community in Australia.

Cecilia, by all accounts, is the perfect “super mom”.  She just always seems to have it all together…but as usual, there is more brewing under the surface and when Cecilia finds out the secret her husband has been carrying around for years, she begins to question her whole world, her whole sense of self, and the life she has so carefully built.

Tess thinks she has a great life with a husband she loves, a son she adores, a cousin who is her best friend, and a successful business that allows them all to be together.  Then her husband makes a startling confession and she has to decide what to do now that her life has been turned upside/inside out.  She takes her son home to her mother’s for the week of Easter to try to make sense of this new information.

Rachel has been living the past 30 years, wondering what actually happened to her daughter all those years ago.  Who killed her and why…to the point that she has not really been living at all.  The only bright spot in her life is that of her grandson Jacob.  Rachel’s world is turned inside out when her son announces that they are moving to New York for two years, taking her beloved grandson away.

You know that the base of the book really is who killed Rachel’s daughter all those years ago and to be honest, the answer is not all that surprising based on how the book is laid out.  And it is less about who killed her and more about these three women.  Their lives, their loves, their choices.  I had expected their stories to be more intertwined then they were, especially that of Tess.  Her story really seemed more on the peripheral the other two, which is disappointing, as I found her to be the more interesting of the three women.

The story comes together all in a flurry as each reaches their final breaking point with the chaos of their lives.  Each handles it differently and to be honest, none of them seem very excited about the final outcome.  I think it speaks to life that it isn’t always about the dream, but about how you handle the reality.  At the end of there is a little epilogue which tries to tie up all the stories and what ifs of the many different characters.  This actually felt blah.  I know the author was trying to demonstrate that life is all about choices and we can never know which ones are the important ones, which ones will change the course of our lives dramatically.  But really it felt like a downer.

While the story engaged me as a reader, made me think a little, it was not what I would call deep.  The characters were fairly cookie cutter, the interactions between them pretty standard.  But it fits nicely into that “chick lit/beach read/something light and fun” category.  So perfect when you want something light, and fun, and quick.

Now onto something totally different!  I diving into the “Cousin’s War” series by Philippa Gregory, starting with The White Queen.  I am about 100 pages into the book and so far really enjoying the characters.  I don’t know a great deal about this time period (The War of the Roses) but the author does a good job of laying the ground work, but not getting bogged down in historical facts.  I have read other books by this author and enjoyed them a great deal so I am excited to get lost in this new series.

The White Queen (The Cousins' War, #1)

What are you reading this weekend?

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 21, 2014

Truth Time

I called my blog “Musings of a Stay-at-Home-Mom” because that is what I thought defined me.  Being a stay at home mom.  And in many ways it does.  But it is also not really the whole picture.  I don’t want to get into the whole “SAHM vs Working Mom” debate because honestly…why is it even a debate?  Does it matter who has it easier or harder?  Is there even a way to compare?  Can you compare difficulties between various working parents?  I would find it challenging to do so.  You can’t even compare on SAHM to another because we are all different.  Who we were before kids, who we became after kids, who we are today are all different.  To compare, or judge, or hold others to your own personal standards is ridiculous.  So, I am not going to do it.

In all honesty, this has been a rough week.  I have really been struggling with what I see as my role.  And I finally and truly realized…I am just trying to do too much.  So, now I need to sit down and focus on what my priorities really are…for where my family is today, where I am today.  5 years ago,  you could walk into my house at any moment and the kitchen would be clean, the bathrooms sparkling, the laundry washed, folded and put away.  My to-read stack, while always large and being added to, was also always getting tackled.  My craft projects were not in a perpetual state of “I really need to work on that…”  Today, well, all those things have changed and I have to change my attitude about them.  I have two kids, who are home full-time, so the house is pretty much always in a state of chaos on some level.  Toys, books, crayons, art work can always be found (and often tripped over!).  Laundry is always clean…just not always folded and put away.  The bathrooms are clean, but maybe not sparkling.  The kitchen is now connected to our main living space, so clutter and life is continually filling the counters.  And I have to learn to be okay with this new norm.  And if you come to play or visit, then you do too!

I am so lucky to have an amazing and supportive husband who often looks at me and says..”you can’t do it all.  We agreed your primary job was to be home with our kids.  To make sure they were getting what they need, the experiences we want them to have, and that they get to be kids for as long as possible”.  He is not worried that the laundry is waiting to be put away, or that the counter is stacked high with the monkey’s latest drawings.   And if I don’t feel like cooking dinner…he is always willing to pick something up on the way home or take us out.  He does not see it as my failing to do my job.

But I still have this idea that I need to make everything perfect for everyone all the time.  When I tell the hubby this his response is always “but what’s perfect?”   I stress about not doing enough around the house, not baking things from scratch the way I used to, not getting all the projects I want to done, not spending enough time DOING something with the kids, not being as prepared or focused on anything the way I used to be, before kids.  And this week it really came to a head as my daughter and I butted heads during our school time (oh yeah, now I need to be sure to give her the most perfect home school experience possible!).  I just can’t do it all, I can’t be “supermom”, I can just be me.  I can and will make mistakes.  I can and will feel like just letting them stay in their jammies and snuggle on the couch watching Chuggington (my son’s new fave show..which luckily his sister enjoys as well).  Some days school time will be watching an ant crawl across the patio and baking cookies.   And all that is okay.  No, better than ok. All that is ME and I am doing the best I can on any given day.  I have to stop worrying about looking like “supermom” and just be “mom” because that will be pretty super all on its own.

I got some of the best advice when I was pregnant with my first child from a co-worker. She told me to remember that my daughter had never had a mom before, had nothing to compare to, knew nothing else so all I had to do was love my child, spend time with her and be the best mom I could be….and that would be perfect.  Sometimes I really need to stop and remember this…instead of getting caught up in what it seems the blog-o-sphere, social media, and pintrest deems to be a “supermom”.

So now I will figure out what my priorities are…what is important to ME and my family.  I am going to focus on those 5-7 things and when the rest gets done…well it gets done.   And it will all get done.  Maybe not as often, or to the same level of perfection as it used, but it will all eventually get done.  And if it doesn’t…well then maybe it was not so important anyway.  But I am going to take the worry and stress as much as I can out of the day and just ENJOY life and those around me.

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 17, 2014

Why is this still an issue?

So this past week actress Ellen Page came out as gay.  An NFL hopeful, Michael Sam announced he was gay.  I applaud them both for having the desire to be open and honest with the public about who they are in their private lives.  Certainly they did not owe any of us to make such an announcement,  Nor should they need to feel the need to hide who they are from the world.  I love that by making public statements they are continuing to show that ones sexuality does not define who they are, what they can do, the roles they can play or their ability to be a part of a team.  That they are showing the world that being gay is just one more aspect of who someone is, rather than their defining attribute.

But here is my issue…why is this still necessary?  Why is this still news?  When we will get to the point in our society where someone’s sexuality is a non-issue?  Who has to come out and say “My name is Bob and I’m a heterosexual”.  Why do we still feel the need to decide someone’s worth based on his sexuality rather than his character?

The fear of a gay man checking out guys in the men’s locker room…really, you don’t think guys check each other out in general, regardless of sexuality?  Same goes for the women’s locker room.  Honestly, should we not be flattered that someone wanted to look at our fat butts instead of running away in terror?  The chances are, that is the most that will happen…if even that happens (because really, in the locker room most people just want to get in and out and avoid eye contact with anyone else as much as possible).

Worried someone may try to hit on you?  Well, wouldn’t that be nice…to have someone find you attractive enough and then be brave enough to even approach you!  You can always say, “thank you, but I’m married/in relationship/not interested”.

Worried someone is going to make your kid gay?  Seriously?  We don’t have enough to worry about with our kids we have to add something like this?  Should we be worried someone is going to make our kids heterosexual?

I will say again…what does anyone else do in their bedroom have to do what I do in mine?  Okay, you don’t want to see people making out in public…I have to admit that I would prefer not to see anything  in-depth either, regardless of the gender of the participants!  Some things are left better to the privacy of your home/car/office supply closet.

It’s funny, as we have been watching the Olympics this past week, we have been talking with our daughter about Russia, and some of the comments being made about Russia’s anti-gay legislation and she gets it.  She has said “Well, I don’t want to live there mommy.  I want to be able to marry who ever I want to and they wouldn’t let me.”  So maybe there is hope one day that one’s sexuality will not matter…it will only matter that we all find someone to love and who loves us in return.  Then maybe we can start to focus on issues that really matter…like hunger, abuse, and neglect.  And making chocolate not only tasty, but calorie free.

 

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 7, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…

A slow week, and with the Olympics starting this weekend, probably another slow week ahead.  Who knew that snow boarding could be so cool to watch???

This week I finished The Returned by Jason Mott.  This is the first in a proposed trilogy and the basis for a new television series.  What happens when those that have died, return?  Not as zombies, or the undead, but as living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings, the same as when the passed away?  At the heart of this book, it is a story about people, how they react to events, how they find answers to tough questions, how they deal with tragedy.  At the core, every character has lost someone they love and has had to deal with the death.  Everyone handles death in different ways so how the handle the return of loved one is different.

There are so many questions…Why do they return?  How do they return?  Why do some return and not others?  What does it all  mean?  And where do they go when they “disappear” again?  This book honestly does not answer any of these questions, but allows each of the different characters to seek their own answers about what these “Returned” mean to them.

Set in the small town of Arcadia, a town time and the rest of the world has forgotten, we meet Harold and Lucille,  an elderly couple who lost their only son back in 1966.  Then one day, he appears on their doorstep.  Both Harold and Lucille have to decide what this means to them, who is this boy, and why has he been returned to them now?  At the same time, the rest of the world is struggling with those same questions, as well as what to do with this population that is growing each day?

This is an interesting look at people and how they react to death and life.  The characters are interesting enough, if not slightly 2-dimensional.  I felt that this book left a lot of questions unanswered…did anyone check the graves of those returned to see if they were empty?  Was everyone who returned buried or had any of them been cremated? (I know, rather morbid and disturbing ideas but we are talking about people who were dead..)   It also seemed that after the confrontation in Arcadia, the governments just quietly backed away from the whole thing.  Why?  Because the returned started to fade away on their own?  The government also seemed less concerned with WHY this was happening and more about “what did these people remember about being dead” which had a much more “churchy” feel to it than I would expect from the government.   Maybe some of these questions will be addressed in coming books.

Overall, this is a decent book, different from other books out there, with a theme that makes you stop and think.   The writing is fine, nothing awe-inspiring, but nothing glaring awful either!  It’s not a complex book, though it certainly has the chance to go that direction.  It is not overly religious, though obviously religion and one’s own beliefs are a part of the story.  This book felt like a teaser…this is the world I am creating…just tip your toes in and get a feel for it…because then we are really going to shake things up.  At least I hope that is what is going to happen!

I am still making my way through Parenting Beyond Belief  and after this weeks Creation vs Evolution debate and subsequent articles, this book is really resonating more with me about our family and the values and morals and ideals with which we hope to instill in our children.

Since I finished my fiction book, I was excited to pick up The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I am hoping it is as amazing of a book as everyone has raved and that it is in fact a “can’t put this book down” kind of book for me.  I am really in need of one of those!

So…what are you reading this week, or will you be spending most of your time watching the Olympics?  I can’t wait to show the Monkey the bobsled competitions!

Posted by: Genny Colby | January 31, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…

ah, I love books, I love to read, and I love when the library sends me a message that says I have books to pick up!

This week I finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.  What an interesting book.  Ursula Todd has an unusual life.  As she grows, she dies multiple times, each time her life starts anew and we see the different paths as different choices are made, how does she change the world around her, the people around her, and how do they change her.  By her early teens, after experiencing multiple “deaths” and rebirths, we see that she starts to develop a sense of things to come, to have visions of events and people who have yet to appear in her life and to make changes to try to change certain events.  The book description would have you believe that the fate of the world may in fact rest with this one young woman.  She does, on certain timelines, make may drastic changes to the course of events, but really I found the book less about the effects her choices had on the world at large, and more on how effected her, and those lives she personally touched.

This is not the kind of book you can just pick up one Saturday afternoon and read through in a couple of hours, at least for me and I am a speedy reader!  This is a book that takes time to follow the changing time line, keep track of the characters that come and go through the different time lines, and to really stop and think about what kind of life it must be to have these feelings about things to come and to try to change the course of history/destiny.  It is a very different book from others I have read and while the WWII era is not my favorite, I found this to be a very engaging, thought-provoking, and well written book.  Definitely one I would recommend giving a chance.

This week I started two new books.  One a non-fiction/parenting book, and  the other a fiction/fantasy book.

The first is Raising Freethinkers:A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan, Molleen, Amanda Meskas, and Jan Devor.  As spiritual, but non-religious people, the challenge is how to raise our children to respect others ideas and beliefs, but that it is okay to ask questions, to seek out their own answers, and that find their own beliefs/ideas about the world, and about religion.   We do teach ABOUT religion, but we don’t promote, practice, or enforce a belief in any one religion.  This book is very accessible to any reader.  It takes a “question and answer” approach, where they present a question and then the answer, giving real life examples.  I am finding this book to be very interesting.  As a family who are trying to raise strong, independent, confident, free thinking children, this book seems to be a good fit for our family.

I also started a fiction/fantasy/fun book for reading before bed, when I just want a little escape time.  This week I picked up The Returned by Jason Mott (soon to be a TV series!).  I actually have had this on my to read list for a while, after reading a review somewhere, but with all the info about the TV series coming out, I thought I would see if it was available without a long wait at the library.  An interesting idea…those that have died are returning.  And when they return, they return as they were at the time of their death.  The first family we really meet are an older couple who lost their son in 1966 at the age of eight in a tragic accident.  I am sure there will be others that we will meet as the story progress.  Why have they returned?  Who or what are they? What happens now to our beliefs about life and death?  This is the first of a proposed trilogy, and of course, the base for an upcoming TV series.  Not sure I will check out the TV series as I was so underwhelmed by the offering of Under the Dome this past summer…but so far I am enjoying the book.  I like books that just jump right in and fill you in about what is going on along the way, allowing the reader to connect with the characters rather than just the concept of the first page.

So, what are you reading on this cold, snowy weekend?

photo from -wall-to-wall-books.blogspot.com

Posted by: Genny Colby | January 26, 2014

Do You Believe in Magic…

Childhood really is all about magic.  We teach our kids to look for shapes in the clouds.  That fairies are real.  To wish on a shooting star.  That super heroes exist. To look inside their minds and see what they can create - stories, games, imaginary friends.  Many of us teach them about Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny.  We teach them about four-leaf clovers and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and leprechauns.  We teach them find joy and magic and wonder in the world around them.  Then they grow up and somehow that magic is lost.  Why? When?   How?  Do we have to become so jaded that even if we KNOW these things don’t exists, we can’t still find joy and wonder and magic in the idea that once they did for us?

Today my daughter asked me if movies are real.  We told her, yes, some movies are real.  Then she asked if the Princesses were real.  I asked her if she thought they were real…her answer?  “Yes, they are real because we got to meet them at Disney!”  Yep, could not ask for a better answer!

I really hope we can keep the magic alive for a long long time!  And then we can relive the magic through our kids.

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Posted by: Genny Colby | January 25, 2014

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions….

Some days being a parent looked a lot easier from the side of “kid”!   As many of you know, we have been on the “home school” path since our daughter was about 2.  We have done preschool, pre-k, and now Kindergarten at home for a variety of reasons, including a birthday that does not meets the cut off date, but a child who is ready for more.    As a teacher I believe that young kids learn through the play, hands on, interactive experiences and that is what we have tried to provide.  This year we took on a more “formal” approach with it being Kindergarten, but still tried to make it fun, relaxed, hands on as much as possible, and to follow our daughter’s lead.  This has been a new learning experience for me, moving from “mommy” to “teacher” and trying to break my “classroom teacher” mindset and teaching style.  We have had our bumps along the way, I see where I can and need to make changes if this is the path we continue on, but over all it has been fun for all of us.

As she is now of “official” kindergarten age, we have to decide, should we continue homeschooling or do we look at a more traditional brick and mortar school.  There are pros and cons to each, but really we are working to decide what is the best learning environment for our daughter, what is best for our son, and what is best for our family.  Can I just say…this part is a whole lot harder than when we were kids!  First, homeschooling was not a mainstream option and to be honest I don’t think my parents even considered it…you sent kids to school when they turned 5, period.  The choice then became private (parochial) or your neighborhood public school.  There may have been a few other private school options, depending on where you lived, but there were no Charter Schools, Talented and Gifted Schools, STEM Schools, etc.

Now, I am not saying that having all these options is a bad thing, because education is not a “one size fits all” type of deal.  But sometimes I wonder if we are doing our kids a service or not having so many different options…and sure makes it more difficult for the parents.   Where we live, there is also “open enrollment” which basically means that you can apply to send your child to pretty much any school in the state…regardless of what district you are in, or which is your “home” school.  There is not promise to get in to any school, that all depends on a variety of factors that vary from school to school, but you can apply!

So…where to apply?  Do we apply?  We do know that we don’t want to send our daughter (and eventually son) to school just to send her to school.  Neither of us are feeling the love for our “home” or neighborhood school, especially since homeschooling is such a strong pull for us.  We have looked at a lot of different schools and the answer while not 100% clear yet, is coming into focus.

Another draw for us for homeschooling is that EDUCATION is the focus.  Developing a life long love of learning.   Finding out what interests our children and using those as a guide for our lessons.  Schools today, through not fault of their own, as so focused on test scores, and rankings, and performance assessments that the idea of learning to learn is really lost.  Yes, there are basics she needs to learn (reading, writing, math, basic science principles, history and its relevance to today), but there are so many ways to get there, and the journey is matter most.  Education should be about the PROCESS, not the end PRODUCT (test result).

But I worry about homeschooling…will she get the social interaction she needs?  Will she learn to function as part of a group, a piece of the whole as she will need to know to move into the “real” world?  Will she learn to focus her attention and follow directions when not given to her by her parents?  I don’t really worry about the academic parts, as honestly, I can do those.  And if I am stuck there are a million and one resources online from free content, to purchased curriculum and books, to online schooling. Finding that balance between creating the best learning environment for our children that will instill the love of learning and allow them to find their own path through education with the social and societal skills needed for when she grows up.

There is no one clear-cut answer…and the answer is different for each child, for each family.  The answer may also change over time. What is the best option in kindergarten may not be the same when she’s in fifth, or ninth grade.  All we can do is find the right one for right now.  Today, that is strongly looking to staying on the home school path, though we are keeping a few other options open right now.   And since our daughter is saying she wants to keep going to school at home with mommy and daddy and her brother…well that is a strong vote in the home school column!

I know that it will all work out in the end, and that no matter what choice we make for next year, we have the option to change our minds, try something else at any point.  We are not locked into any kind of contract..other than we WILL educate our children, we will instill in them a love of learning, life, and the world around them.

But I will say…our parents sure had it easy!

(image from here)

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