A Little Women’s Studies Field Trip


Victoria and Rhiannon each took a bit of a field trip yesterday.  They participated in the #WomensMarch in St. Paul (Minnesota), along with roughly 100,000 others (and several million around the world).  🙂

Victoria went with a charter bus from New Ulm, a city about an hour from us, and Rhiannon went with a friend and some of her friends and their children in a van that left from Mankato.  Poor Daryl had to leave at 5:30 a.m. with them to get them to their respective drop-off points so they could get up to the march in time.

They both had phenomenal times, to say the least.


Rhia stayed up late the night before embroidering feminist statements on her jacket.  I’ll have to get a picture of some!


(I gave Toria that hat for Christmas.  Wasn’t it perfect for the day?)

It was a profoundly empowering experience for both girls, and Toria called it one of the coolest experiences of her life.



I’m very proud of my girls (and all who marched around the world!).

The Dystopian Homeschool


Well, that was quite a week.

I’m not going to go into any of my feelings about the election here.  I’m sure you can guess them, or you can take a look at my Facebook page to see them (along with a lot of articles I’ve been writing for my new gig at Inquistr).

I went to our little UU church yesterday hoping that the minister would somehow rally us up, give us inspiration and new energy and directives to go back out there and magically make things better.  I realized afterwards that I sort of expect her to be like the pit crew that services the race cars in the Indy 500.  I screech in when everything is blowing and failing, and she is supposed to fill my tank and fixes my shortages, then I go speeding back into the fray again.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, she offered a scrambled-up sermon reworked from one she had already planned on preaching yesterday.  It turns out she didn’t plan on these election results either, and had originally written an intellectual sermon on dystopian worlds.

(Yeah, UU churches are like that.  Don’t come expecting a lot of talk about sins or bible quotes.)  😉

But in her mixed-up, crazy dystopian sermon, she said something that took me by surprise.  She said that dystopian stories are always written about some terrible time to come, but at some point we needed to acknowledge the truth —

We’re already in the terrible time, and we were before Tuesday.

“an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”

Not exactly a cheerful thought, huh?

But it’s true for much of the world.  Sure, some of us have been existing in a fantastic little bubble for a while.  Some of us are white, straight, upper class, two-parent families who have been awfully blessed.  But for the poor, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, people of color, people of other religions, LGBTQ families, refugees and others, things have already been unpleasant and bad.

Our environment is already degraded.  Climate change is a reality that’s affecting us more every year, from unpredictable winters to droughts to super-storms to rising sea levels.  Animals are going extinct at unprecedented rates.  Our air is poisoned.  Our water is contaminated.  The average child now has at least one chronic illness, not to mention the average adult.  We have finally reached the generation that is expected to live shorter lives than their parents. Scientists have been warning us for a while that it’s already too late to stop the catastrophic changes coming, and unless we radically change our ways of life very soon, we can’t even slow it down.

Well, huh.  Okay then!

While this is a pretty bleak conclusion to reach when one is already feeling pretty bleak, it also can be seen as liberating.  As Janis Joplin once sang, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

And how does that translate to homeschooling?  Or even parenting?  How do we protect our kids and give them hope, when things feel hopeless? 

Well, first we look to the people who already knew all this, who have had boots on the ground for a long time while.  DAPL protesters at Standing Rock.  Black Lives Matter organizers. Environmentalists. Even parents of vaccine injured children driving buses across the country to tell their stories.  People who act to be the change they want to see in the world.  They’re happy to train us, happy to have our help.  (Miley Cyrus has already set up a web site to match people to local organizations who could use help in whatever issues are close to your heart.)

And we teach our children.  We teach them how to make positive changes in the world and help others — and also how to take care of themselves when they’re feeling fragile and shocked by the dark in the world.  We need to model that, too, and take care of ourselves in the midst of all of this darkness.

We prepare them for all kinds of futures — not just a straight line into college and some utopian job waiting at the other side, but for learning trades and volunteering for the Peace Corps and taking gap years and starting businesses and doing freelance work and all of the many ways that we can live in the modern world.

We teach them how to live well on little money, how to meet their own needs, how to survive — not in some melodramatic sense like the zombie apocalypse, but in the sense of knowing how to do well in unpredictable times.  And how to share that knowledge to help our communities.

We fight the good fight, and raise aware kids who do the same.

And then we hug them and love them and read them stories and watch silly TV shows and play, because now, more than ever, they need boatloads of that, too.







Horrible Deary Takes Aim at Schools


Horrible Histories author Terry Deary made enemies around the world last year when he called libraries “no longer relevant” and said he wished they were outlawed since they cost him so much money.

Back then he said, “Books aren’t public property, and writers aren’t Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby. They’ve got to make a living. Authors, booksellers and publishers need to eat. We don’t expect to go to a food library to be fed.”

(Many library-loving homeschoolers I know responded by pledging never to buy another of his books.)

Now he’s gone after schools, calling them “pits of misery and ignorance” and using even harsher words for the school inspectors:

“Ofsted inspectors are the most ignorant people you could ever meet. They are just failed teachers. Their job is to go in and pick faults with people. Any idiot can do that. I know inspectors personally and they are numpties.”

Deary alleges that kids today are very literate, saying:

“Children have never been more literate. They are always on Facebook and are texting. One 15-year-old girl told me she had reached the limit of her texts for the month — she had sent 10,000. She is doing the most important human activity of all, communicating with someone else, and it is condemned.”

Read the whole story at The Evening Standard.

What do you think? Did you stop buying the Horrible Histories books after Deary called the end of libraries?  Do you agree that kids today are more literature?  Do you think requiring reading kills the joy of books?  Do you use Horrible Histories books in your homeschool?  Did I ask enough questions there?  😉

And my latest yappings elsewhere….

And is it something like 40 degrees where you live, too?  Yikes!  What kind of weather is this for August?  Brrrrrrr!!!


Ancient Continent Found Under the Indian Ocean

Have you heard this exciting news?

National Geographic reports:

Evidence of a drowned “microcontinent” has been found in sand grains from the beaches of a small Indian Ocean island, scientists say.

A well-known tourist destination, Mauritius (map) is located about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) off the coast of Africa, east of Madagascar. Scientists think the tiny island formed some nine million years ago from cooling lava spewed by undersea volcanoes.

But recently, researchers have found sand grains on Mauritius that contain fragments of the mineral zircon that are far older than the island, between 660 million and about 2 billion years old.

In a new study, detailed in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists concluded that the older minerals once belonged to a now vanished landmass, tiny bits of which were dragged up to the surface during the formation of Mauritius. (Also see “World’s Oldest Rocks Suggest Early Earth Was Habitable.”)

The BBC says:

Researchers have found evidence for a landmass that would have existed between 2,000 and 85 million years ago…

…Until about 750 million years ago, the Earth’s landmass was gathered into a vast single continent called Rodinia.

And although they are now separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean, India was once located next to Madagascar.

Once land started to drift towards their current positions, Mauritia was no more

Now researchers believe they have found evidence of a sliver of continent – known as a microcontinent – that was once tucked between the two.

Fascinating stuff!

Folktales, Freebies and more

Jason snatches the Golden Fleece. Greek Vase from the 5th century BCE (Metropolitan Museum, New York).

Here’s a round-up of stuff I’ve been meaning to share…

Fairy Tales, Folktales, Fables, and Folklore

This great web site contains hundreds of stories from mythologies around the world.  From Finnish folk tales to Anderson fairy tales to parables of Buddhism, there’s something for everyone.  This would be great to combine with studies of countries or family heritage.

70% of science fair winners are children of immigrants

Only 12 percent of Americans are foreign-born, the NFAP report says. Even so, children of immigrants took 70 percent of the finalist slots in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search Competition, an original-research competition for high school seniors.
Of the 40 finalists, 28 had parents born in other countries: 16 from China, 10 from India, one from South Korea and one from Iran.
“In proportion to their presence in the U.S. population, one would expect only one child of an Indian (or Chinese) immigrant parent every two and a half years to be an Intel Science Search finalist, not 10 in a year,” wrote the report’s author, NFAP director Stuart Anderson.
…”Our parents brought us up with love of science as a value,” David Kenneth Tang-Quan, whose parents emigrated from China to California, told Anderson, according to the report.
Pinterest pages
I’ve heard about Pinterest, where you “pin” web sites you like and can see what others pin, but I wasn’t all that interested.  Until I saw this mom’s homeschool pins and realized what fun this site could be.  I could lose a lot of time here!
Newest homeschool writings
Here’s what I’ve been churning out in the HS front lately at the examiner, on everything from free transcript templates to how Montessori changes from middle school to high school years…

And here’s the latest in other subjects…

And a little sap…  🙂

The Never-Ending Parent

On the personal front, the baby is now very, very wiggly.  He/she doesn’t have a certain time of day or night to bounce around.  It seems to be most of the time!  Hopefully we’ll get an ultrasound next month and finally get to know whether it’s a girl or boy.  I’m so impatient to know.

Victoria is visiting homeschool friends a few hours away this week.  I’m impatient for her to come home, even though I’m sure she’s having a blast.

Anna is taking Irish step dancing lessons for a performance she’ll be doing with a small group of girls in the pageant this year.  The teachers are local homeschool graduates who taught themselves to do Irish step dancing years ago and have performed all over through the years.

Jack and Alex are currently helping Daddy at the cabin and museum.  They’ve been spending much of their time outside and generally end each day covered in mud, sand, scrapes and who knows what else.  I do like summer!


A Few Good Reads

There’s some news stories and web pages that have caught my interest lately. Here’s a few of them…

Who Stole Homeschooling? This article talks about the history of the homeschooling movement in the US and how some groups have claimed ownership, made exclusionary rules and changed the spirit of the movement over the years.  I think it has an important message about our need to be there for new homeschoolers, to support each other and to speak for ourselves when organizations attempt to take our voice.

There are still good groups, good folks, good leaders and great support available outside of these heirarchical, exclusive groups, but they aren't always easy to find. Folks have to do their own homework and seek them out. I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion that those who homeschool strictly for the love of children are probably never going to be as organized, as visible, or as powerful as those who homeschool for religious or political reasons...

Those of us who are inclined to be inclusive, relationship oriented, and concerned primarily for our homeschooled children will be less frustrated if we understand that regardless what has happened to the homeschooling movement itself, there are, in fact, still homeschoolers who are ready and willing to offer their support and encouragement without strings or agendas to families outside of the machinery and averse to it, who are still and only homeschooling for the love of their children. Just as we did in years past, we can continue to speak up every chance we get. We can let folks know we're out here, we can let them know which organizations do and do not speak for us, we can dispute questionable research and openly, publicly, reject the publicly-made statements of people when they do not really represent us.

Quake shifted Japan; towns now flood at high tide

I had no idea that Japan’s earthquake shifted the entire country so that it’s been literally pulled out and under the sea more than it was.  Coastal towns now flood twice a day, and the changes are permanent.

Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by her front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle…

As surrounding areas clear rubble and make plans to rebuild, residents in this section of Ishinomaki are stuck in limbo — their homes are mostly undamaged and ineligible for major insurance claims or government compensation, but twice a day the tide swamps their streets…

“Everyone here still has housing loans they have to pay, and you can’t give away this land, let alone sell it,” says Seietsu Sasaki, 57, who also has to pay off loans on two cars ruined in the flooding…

The article goes into the science behind the shift and also offers the dire news that summer rains will begin next month and in the autumn, tides will be higher.

10 Educational History Podcasts To Subscribe & Listen To

These all sound great.  I guess podcasts are in our future.  🙂

And a few of my latest yappings…

On the homeschooling front:

On the green front…

Tomorrow we have homeschool day at the Petroglyphs.  It’s art day, and the kids will get to make glorious messes with all sorts of art supplies.  I’m sure it will be a fun day!




Science Nifties!

Here’s a few science-related nifties to share….

Researchers aim to resurrect mammoth in five years

“Japanese researchers will launch a project this year to resurrect the long-extinct mammoth by using cloning technology to bring the ancient pachyderm back to life in around five years time.…”

Wow!  Jurassic Park for real, folks!  What do you think?  Good idea or terrible one???

“A study of what lives on 10 countries’ currencies reveals plenty of germs

Can your kids guess which country’s money had the fewest germs?  Science News for Kids talks about how many germs live on currency and which countries harbor the most (and why).  Vocabulary terms are even at the end!

Cold weather science!

From vaporizing hot water in sub-zero air to freezing bubbles to seeing what liquids you can get to freeze outside, if you have bitter cold temps right now here’s some ways to make some educational fun out of it.

American Science & Surplus

Have you shopped at this oddball site yet? I blew too much money on fabulous science (and play) items at American Science and Surplus tonight.  I’ve been shopping this science-related surplus site for years and really enjoy the selection, the prices and the sense of humor of the catalog writers.  Look for everything from robot bugs to beakers to soil testing kits here for science fun, not to mention supplies for crafts, the home and more.

(In my shopping cart, pipettes for science and crafts, test tubes, a test tube rack, microscope slides, slide dyeing fluid, pH strips, a chalkboard director’s clapboard for making movies, a baking soda underwater sub….).

“Dear Miss ______
I have read about sixteen pages of your manuscript … I suffered exactly the same treatment at the hands of my teachers who disliked me for my independence and passed over me when they wanted assistants … keep your manuscript for your sons and daughters, in order that they may derive consolation from it and not give a damn for what their teachers tell them or think of them. … There is too much education altogether.”

~  Albert Einstein (to a student)

What's Going on in Tunisia?

Current events time, folks.  CNN has a great summary article up today:

What’s Going On In Tunisia?

It explains what happened, what’s happening now, why it matters and even where Tunisia happens to be.

Academic Kids has all sorts of facts and background info in case you even want to do a lapbook or something.

I figure we’ll read a little about what’s happening, find it on the map, maybe follow some rabbit trails and talk about it at dinner tonight.

And extra points to any of my kids for asking someone “So what do you think about what’s going on in Tunisia?” this week.  😉

The 15 Most Extraordinary Homeschoolers

Have you seen this list?  What an amazing assortment of people who were homeschooled!

Some of these people were only homeschooled for part of their school years, but it’s still quite an interesting read.

From the founder of WikiLeaks to “the youngest art and poetry prodigy in history” (her paintings have sold for as much as a million dollars!), and from Margaret Atwood to Condoleezza Rice, it’s quite a group to read about!

It’s also interesting to think about who will be on the list ten or twenty years from now.  I have a feeling Birke Baehr will be there.  I’m one of his Facebook followers.

Of course, we all know the world’s most extraordinary homeschoolers are really in our homes.   🙂

Obama to appear on Myth Busters

And no, not about his birth certificate.  😉

Rueters says:

Obama’s appearance on the popular Discovery Channel show is part of a White House effort to highlight the importance of science, math and engineering as experts warn that low interest in these subjects among U.S. students could hurt the economy…

I especially liked this part:

“I can announce today that I taped a special guest appearance for their show, although I didn’t get to blow anything up,” Obama said at a White House science fair event. “I was a little frustrated with that.”

and this:

“We welcome championship sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories … I thought we ought to do the same thing for the winners of science fairs and robotic contests and math competitions,” Obama said.

Read the full story here.