Thursday, March 31, 2011

For Anyone Who's Been Wondering...

...I have finished Burning Hope (last year, actually), and I've been posting it chapter by chapter on my new blog, Books of an UNpublished Author... So you can go and look at it, if you want to. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Aldo Leopold Report

Aldo Leopold was born in 1887, in Iowa. While he grew up, he spent most of his time outdoors, exploring the wilderness. He was sent East, to New Jersey, for his high school, and although he did eventually graduate, he was often so busy with being outside that he didn't always do his homework, and in fact flunked some of his subjects.

When Leopold graduated high school, he went to Yale, and graduated with a degree in forestry. He joined the Forest Service and went to the Arizona Territories. It was there that he originally started observing the connections between people and the land, and started to develop his ideas of a "community" between the wilderness and humans. When he transferred to a laboratory in Wisconsin, he convinced the Forest Service to protect 500,000 acres of a forest in New Mexico, as wilderness.

A few years later, Leopold accepted an offer from the University of Wisconsin to teach a program in game management. Two years later, he helped form The Wilderness Society, The same year, he and his wife, and their children, bought 80 acres of abandoned/ruined farm land to try to restore. An abandoned chicken coop on the property, fondly named "The Shack", became the Leopold's research center, and the family spent almost all of their weekends on the land, planting hundreds of trees in an effort to restore the health to the land.

It was around that time when Aldo Leopold started writing his Sand County Almanac, a collection of nature writings which he is most famous for. The book was originally rejected, but after being edited, was accepted. Unfortunately, Leopold never got to see it in print. He died a week after it was accepted from a heart attack while he was fighting a forest fire. It was printed a year after he died, and is still in print today. Leopold wrote about 500 published articles, pamphlets, essays, and works, and there are still more of his journals that are unpublished.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Aldo Leopold- The Wilderness Society
The Encyclopedia of Earth- A Sand County Almanac

Oh the Joys of Being a Teenager.

"...and so we invented 'the teenager', an unfortunate creature who had all the yearnings and capabilities of an adult, but none of the freedoms or responsibilities." - Alex Harris (That's a quote I copied from my friend Lexi's One Year Adventure Novel profile. It's pretty much true.)

So, yesterday my mom's friend Liz called my mom, and asked if I wanted to go to the field museum with her, her husband, and their daughter, my friend Mae. Since I didn't really have anything planned (except reading A Confederacy of Dunces *shakes fist at book*), I said sure, and we went.
While we were riding in the car for three hours (1.5 hours there... 1.5 hours back), and while we were at the museum, I decided that being a teenager really isn't all it's cracked up to be. Of course, this isn't a new revelation, but one nonetheless that I wasn't pleased to discover. Here is a list (wow, another list post... I hope you aren't getting sick of these), of all the reasons I've thought up so far, of why it isn't that great to be a teenager. (Coming soon.. Why it's AWESOME to be a teenager! [figured I need some balance here... My blog is slowly becoming quite negative.])

  1. The bad rep: It doesn't matter how you actually act... It seems like most adults catch a sight of braces and think, "OH MY GOSH IT'S A DELINQUENT! DON'T LET THEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT OR THEY'LL DESTROY SOMETHING!!!!" *eyeroll* I'll have you know that I have never graffitied, damaged, exploded, or otherwise hurt public property. Geesh!
  2. Hormones: We're all chalked up to being moody. But is that our fault? No! It's usually because of these little green alien things called "hormones" floating around our heads and making us act grumpy! Give us a break! You act pretty terrible too, sometimes!
  3. indecision: No, this isn't your imagination (though, you being an adult, the existence of your imagination seems to be questionable... ^_^). We really are indecisive, unless you tell us to do something. Usually, and I really don't know why... We hear "Go do X" and we think, "NO! I am going to do Y!!! HA!!!"
  4. Responsibility: This is a tricky one. On one hand, we like to be responsible. Having responsibility is a nice thing. It makes us feel like we're trusted. Being trusted is always a good feeling. On the other hand, however, if you just heap a lot of your problems and responsibilities on us, we start feeling resentful. I guess it's a tricky balance to get, but generally... try to give us more responsibility than a kid, but not as much as you would, say, a coworker. ;)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eight Totally Overrated Things in My Life

So, yesterday I was thinking about how everyone kept bothering me about going to dance, and I realized that dances are completely overrated. Then I realized that other things in my life were overrated. Then I realized that a lot of things in my life are overrated. Then I decided to write a blog post about all the overrated things I could think of easily.

  1. Dances. Because we all need another way to spend our parents' money on pointless dresses we'll only wear once, get our toes stomped on, start losing our hearing from loud music crappy, pointless sounds with inappropriate lyrics, increase our chance of diabetes by drinking copious amounts of soda, and wake up feeling like like we were hit by a truck. Right. All those in favor, raise your hands!
  2. Best Friends. Alright. I'll admit that this one is partly from my jealousy of those who actually do have best friends. (Therefore, I write an irritating narrative about best friends on my blog. That's just how I roll.) But there really are some overrated facts about best friends. Like the fact that you're mainly leaning on one person. Hello? That can't be fun for the friend, now can it? You try being the main support for someone's sanity, and see how that works for you, kay? Secondly... Have you noticed how many times it's the best friend who back-stabs you? In my humble opinion, it's best to have several close friends, rather than the "one and only best friend".
  3. Dystopian Novels. I have to say. Teenagers must have the least reactive emotional state ever. Or maybe they're just stupid. At least, it certainly seems so, because one would think that a person, after reading so many books set in "An imaginary place where everything is as bad as it can be", the reader would become thoroughly depressed and would stop reading such reading material. But noooooooooo. The teens of this day and age seem to inhale distopian novels like their lives depend on it. I wonder what effect it's having on their internal emotional state.
  4. Hating Twilight. Because that's a nice thing to do, criticizing someone's hard work. Does anyone stop to think that maybe Stephenie Mayer is simply disillusioned? Or maybe she's a tad insane. Either way, no one seems to consider the fact that it's pretty hypocritical to be going around cursing Twilight and vampire romances, at the same time they're listening to My Chemical Romance, Justin Beiber, or some other band equally ingrained in pop culture.
  5. Hating Math. You hate math. Why? Because it's hard. And yet you don't hate skiing? Or crossword puzzles? Or video games? Or science? Or reading? You hate math, and you persecute math geeks, yet you expect all your clothes to fit? Can we say hypocrite?
  6. Being Silly/Hyper (Girls). I don't know what girls expect being stupid/silly/hyper/overly energetic is going to get them. A guy? Let me tell you, from my experience, the guys I've all talked to prefer it when a girl is actually being herself, not some sugar coated dumbed down version. Or maybe I just have weird guy friends. But anyway, I have to say, the only people I know who aren't bothered by pointless silliness are the other pointlessly silly people. Maybe that's a good thing. I digress.
  7. Celebrities. Well, surprisingly, this is one of my least overrated overrated things. Some celebs actually deserve their fame. But some *cough* Paris Hilton *cough* really have no claim to fame at all. If we're going to have celebs... Then at least let them be good celebs! If we're going to take basically normal people, inflate their egos and their personas until they basically take over the world... Then at least let them be people who deserve it! And if we can't even do THAT... Then at least remember that they're just people! All that stuff about how "regular" people aren't as attractive as celebs? Rubbish. Trash. Null. Incorrect. Degrading. Irritating. Untrue. False. Take your pick of words... it's going to come to the same thing.
  8. Romance. Thirteen/Fourteen year olds should not be focused on romance. That's all I have to say.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Roles/My Mother's Roles (Girl Scout Post Yet Again)

For the IP "Understanding Yourself and Others", I had to think of all my roles (or as many as I could think of), and then find those of a woman I know. (I chose my mom. Surprise surprise.)
So, this was kind of fun, and I'd encourage any readers I might possibly have (I have 29 followers... Eh... I don't know how many people read my blog though. :-\ ) To try this.. at least with their roles. It's very fun, and rather interesting. So, here are my roles:

  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Niece
  • Granddaughter
  • Great Granddaughter
  • Girl Scout (woot! GS FOREVERRRRRRR!!!)
  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Babysitter
  • Piano Player
  • Author
  • Altar Server
  • Dog Walker
  • Blogger
  • Crafter
Alright. Now here are my mom's, that I've observed..

  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Sister-in-law
  • Granddaughter
  • Cook
  • Chauffeur
  • Teacher
  • Pet Owner
  • Girl Scout Leader
  • Lawyer (once a lawyer, always a lawyer)
  • Blogger
  • Crafter
  • Baby-watcher (Yes, this is different than "babysitter")

People Watching Observations (Also a Girl Scout Post)

So, you're probably getting a little sick of my Girl Scout posts. Sorry about that. I'm getting a tad sick of them too... But I do have to get my Silver Award done by May 1st, so I really do have to do these...
on the bright side, this one was fun. I had to watch people (uh huh... and no, not stalking. Watching.), and then observe five things about them.
I went overboard and observed ten.
So, these are my (admittedly not so funny) ten observations about people. :)

  1. When people are lonely/out of their comfort zone, they tend to cross their arms/legs and look around wistfully.
  2. People tend to gather to whatever screen is on, and often laugh riotously no matter what's actually on the screen.
  3. When people are relaxed, they often tend to rock back and forth without seeming to notice.
  4. People get louder the more excited they get.
  5. You can generally tell when someone's making an inexplicable mental leap of logic because they get a very far off, brainless (almost zombie-like) expression on their face.
  6. If you get a group of people with similar interests together, conversations always center on the things that are mutually loved or hated.
  7. In a group of teenagers, if there's a pillow/stuffed animal, it will be thrown around as a ball in catch, with virtually no exceptions.
  8. When people get bored, they develop a very tight, pained expression.
  9. People act differently depending on who they're with.
  10. If someone thinks that the group they're in lacks a personality or stereotype, they will often start acting that way, simply to fill the imagined gap.
There you go. Ten observations on people.

My memories
lit group

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some of the Absolute Weirdest Things my Family Have Said.

So, I was thinking through what I should blog about today... And it occurred to me that I really haven't written down half of the funniest, weirdest things that I've heard from my siblings recently. Or my mom. Most of these made me crack up, but didn't have a large enough back story for me to write an entire post on them. So here, my dear readers, is a (small) collection of the odd things that my family has said, in the past week.

The speakers are:

My Mom

  1. "Because you were eating off of it and therefore you must clear your spot don't lick your arm." ~ Mom. Now, let that sink in. Just let it sink in...
  2. "A. Long. It's going to stay long. B. I change my hairstyle as often as I change my underwear. Well. I'm definitely starting to wonder how often they change their underwear, at this point..." ~Veela (Giving me a quiz.)
  3. "Snow is made of sand!" ~Monica
  4. "One thing I don't get is in Barbie Rapunzel, is how she gets her food." "I know! Barbie is an anorexic and therefore doesn't need food!" ~Christina and Veela having a conversation.

On a side note, I would just like to say that if you want an accurate estimation of my afternoon, read the most current post on Veela's blog. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Snow is Really Made of.

Today, I found out about what snow is really made of. Being my regular, generous self, I have chosen to inform you, dear readers, what snow is truly made of. I know you'll appreciate this, so I will waste no time, I will not dilly dally, I will not delay, I will not dwadle, I will be precise and quick to the point, I will immediately inform you, I will be prompt, I will not leave you all waiting, and I will not write long, meandering, rambling sentences... *cough* never mind.

To make a long story short (too late!), I will simply tell you what snow is made of, according to Pro. "So Basically" Monica, graduated from the school of three-year-thinking.
"Snow," and I quote, "Is made of a special type of sand. Snow is made of white sand."

So, there you go, ladies and gentlemen. The next time someone asks you what snow is made of, you can remember that and set them straight.
You're welcome.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rachel Carson (Girl Scout Week Post)

Rachel Carson was born May 27, 1907, in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Even though her protective mother kept her home from school quite often, she also installed a love of nature in Rachel, and the outdoors helped Carson's education anyway. In fact when she was only 10 years old, her story A Battle In the Clouds was published in the St. Nicholas Magazine, a children's magazine where William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, e.e. cummings, Edna St. Millay, and E.B. White were first published.1

Eventually, Carson got into Pennsylvania College For Women (Now Chatham College). Midway through her studies she took a biology class for science, and met Mary Scott Skinker, the biology professor. Although Carson originally majored in English, she switched majors to biology after being inspired by Skinker.

After college, Carson won a scholarship to Woods Hole, MA, where she saw the ocean for the first time. The sea would become one of Carson's most frequent topics for books.

She studied at the John Hopkins University, and got her degree in zoology. She then went back to Woods Hole to study at the Bureau of Fisheries (now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). She wrote seven minute radio scripts for the Bureau, before being hired for a permanent job of a junior aquatic biologist. While she was working as a biologist, she edited many pamphlets, and published her first book, Under the Sea Wind. The books were well received, but due to the effects of Pearl Harbor, it didn't sell well.

Carson's government work increased, and it was several years before she had a chance to publish another book. During her “real” work, however, she had many opportunities to travel and research marine life.

She began writing her second book in 1948, and in 1951, The Sea Around Us was published. It was very well received, stayed at fifth place on the Best Selling list for eighty-six weeks, and won several prestigious awards. Carson received enough money from the sales of this book that she was able to resign from her government job, and devote all of her time to creative writing. Several years later she published her third book, The Edge of the Sea.

A while after her third book was published, Carson had a plea for help from Olga Owens Huckins. Huckins had a bird sanctuary, but after DDT was sprayed over the area, the birds had all died. She requested assistance from Carson, who had been concerned about pesticides for many years. She immediately set out to write another book to raise awareness on the negative impact of pesticides, and soon after, Silent Spring, a scathing review of pesticides, the government's use of them, and Carson's last book, was published.

Silent Spring caused quite an uproar. Carson was personally attacked as being hysterical, as over sensationalizing the issue, and as an alarmist. Not everyone, however, thought that she was exaggerating the issue. President John F. Kennedy read the book, and it influenced him to call for the testing of chemicals, and to the banning of DDT.

Rachel Carson died in 1964 at age 56 after a long battle with breast cancer.

1Learning To Give (, Carson, Rachel (

Carson, Rachel
Rachel Carson Biography
The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson
Fish and Wildlife Service: Rachel Carson

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Girl Scout Week post #3: Money Management For Kids Using Birthday Parties

Money management is an important skill, especially in this day and age. Today, when so many basic things are so expensive, it’s a good thing to know how to stretch a dollar. For kids especially, I think this is an important thing to know. How many times does your child beg you to buy them a toy and refuse to let you get them the (almost) exact copy for several dollars less? I know that was a somewhat regular occurrence in my family.

If you teach your kid how to mange money well early on, it will benefit them in the long run. Ever heard the phrase “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Same idea. If your child grows up without having to think about spending money wisely, it will be that much more difficult for them to learn when they’re older.

One of the most effective (And fun!) ways to start teaching your child about managing money is to let them plan their own birthday party. When I was turning ten, my mother gave me a budget of $100, and told me that I had to plan my party using only that much money. She would help counsel me, but in the long run, everything was up to me.

I was thrilled. $100?! You could buy a palace with that… or so I thought.

My mom helped me budget out how much each thing should get (goody bags get $30, the cake gets $10… etc.), and then took me to the store. It didn’t take me long before I realized that $100 wasn’t as much as it sounded like. Things were way more expensive than I thought, and in order to keep the cost within the budget, I was forced to think very carefully about where each dollar went.

After the party, I not only got to keep the $60 dollars left over, but I also got positive comments from all of my friends about my party. Turns out that $40 could make a pretty good party.

In order for this plan to work for you and your child, there are a few things you have to do before hand. You have to decide a reasonable amount of money, you have to get a different mindset, and you have to make sure your child knows that the amount of money you let them use is not going to change.

First of all, you have to decide the proper amount of money. To do this, you have to make sure that you give them enough to have a good party. This knocks out any $10 parties. On the other hand, you have to make sure you don’t give them too much money, or you’ll find yourself paying for a far more expensive birthday party than you thought you would be. At least when I was 10, $100 was a good amount. One of the ways you can make this amount of money last longer is to take your child to the dollar store, because, really, if your guests are small/smallish children, they aren’t going to care that their treats came from Dollar General. Another way is to check the sale isles of Target, Walmart, Walgreens, or even craft stores.

Secondly, you have to get a different mindset. Instead of wanting to control your child’s decisions, or trying to keep them from spending too much money on one thing… let them. After all, if Mommy or Daddy are just going to say, “No, that’s too much”, then they really don’t have to really think about how much they should be spending.

You should also make sure that they know, early on, that the amount of money you give them is not going to change. This will ensure that you will not get any requests for giving them more money, halfway into planning the party.

Money management is an important skill for your child to learn, and it really can’t be learned too early. The “birthday party approach” is one of the things that I have personally observed to be effective. It can be fun for both you and your child, as you find out how much you really don’t need to spend, in order for a birthday party to be a success.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Girl Scout Week post #2: bread and spinning

Also for the Heritage Hunt IP, I had to do two activities that girls from the olden days would have done. The badge book gave me a few options, and one of them was to bake bread. This being one of the easiest (and most appealing) options for me, I got out the bread cookbook, and chose a whole wheat bread recipe. I made it (with a few adventures...), and baked it.

The second thing that I did for my activity was to spin with a drop spindle. This was not included on the list, but since it was in fact an activity, I figured it would count anyway. A drop spindle is interesting, because it's easy to use, but it's also very interesting. I've spun one skein of black alpaca yarn on it.

One more requirement done! :)

(And for those who are wondering... the bread turned out verrrrryyyyy yummy. :) )

Girl Scout Week post #1: Traditions, traditions, traditions.

It was my sixth birthday, and a tragedy had happened.
My birthday party wouldn't be on my birthday.
I woke up on March 28th, feeling heartbroken. How could I possibly wait three more days for a party? How could I survive for so long without celebrating?
I wandered out of bed, feeling the unfairness of the world. The tragedy. The unfairness of my mom. Life would never hold joy anymore.
That is, I felt the unfairness of the world until I walked into the kitchen and saw my chair.
Oh, my chair! I had never seen it in such regal decorations! I had never seen it celebrated in such glory! Hanging from it were streamers, in such colors I didn't remember ever seeing. Balloons were stuck to the chair, seemingly with magic. Oh, chair, oh chair! How beautiful it was! I was speechless. My faith in humanity was restored! The birthday party left my mind. It was just my chair. My beautiful chair.

Okay. Maybe it wasn't that dramatic. But that's how I remembered it. The amazing streamers. I had never seen streamers stuck anywhere but on my bike, and that was only during parades.

It is now exactly one week until my 14th birthday. A lot has changed since I was six... For example, I can now reach the scissors. But some things haven't changed.
For example:
The chair.
We still celebrate the chair. The morning of the birthday person's birthday, the rest of the family wakes up at the crack of dawn, and decorates the chair with streamers and balloons. Then they go back to sleep, waking up only to see the birthday person's face when they see their chair.

For the IP, "Heritage Hunt", one of the requirements is for me to help with a tradition. Now, there aren't many traditions in my family that I can help out with... most of them are near Christmas, and since my bridging is in May... that's sort of out of the question.

So, last month, in February, I woke up at the crack of dawn, got my sister Veela out of bed, and we decorated my sister Christina's chair for her 9th birthday. That was my participation in a tradition.

One requirement done. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just FYI...

I'm wearing shorts.
And I'm barefoot.
And I'm wearing my pirate t-shirt.
And the sliding door is open.
And it's really stinking warm out, considering the fact that it's March.
And my birthday might actually not have snow on it!

Just so you know.. Illinois is getting warm. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In case anyone hasn't heard...

Japan just suffered with a HUGE earthquake... the measurements taken in Japan said that it was a 9.0 one, which is just a tad larger than the USA's measurement of 8.9. After the earthquake, as was to be expected, a tsunami hit Japan's coast, as well, as the link here shows. Also Japan is suffering from radiation poisoning, as their nuclear power sources are falling apart.
So, I just wanted to post something up here to say something about that... And just to say that if it's at all possible for you or your family, that it would be a good thing to donate something to help them. There's a list of organizations here that are helping Japan right now, as well as one at the Catholic Relief Services, which is here, even if you aren't a Catholic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy National Pi Day 2011!!

Happy National Pi day... I don't really have anything to say about Pi that I haven't in this post, from last year. :) Take a look-ey, and I'll try to find something (anything!) to do on pi day this year. :)

Have a nice day!
(oh, and yes, I'm wearing pi earrings. xD)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Say What?

Now, as a Girl-Scout-Site-Sale-Er, I have learned to expect a lot of weirdness. (Actually, as a I-Shop-At-Costco-And-Target-Person, I have learned to expect a lot of weirdness... but we won't even go there.) Kids coming over and knocking over the cookie boxes. Customers walking away with their cookies without paying, people bragging about their granddaughters and daughters and sisters and nieces and students and neighbors and distant relations.
However, it does happen occasionally, that some person, truly determined to be weird, succeeds in exceeding my expectations of weirdness.
Mostly, this weirdness comes from their replies to my friends' and my friendly "Hello"s.
Here, I have a list of some of the weirdest replies that my friend Cat, her mom, my mom, my sisters Veela and Christina, and I have received today. (Yes. All of these happened today. Yes. We really could find that many weird replies. Be amazed.)

  1. "I'm sorry, I already have too many Girl Scout Cookies." I'm sorry. What? What is this mythical situation that you speak of? Too... Many... Girl... Scout... Cookies. I do not comprehend. That's like having too much French Toast. Simply... inexplicably weird. How can you have too many Girl Scout cookies? This makes no sense. Moving on...
  2. "Sorry. I've already bought some. I have a lot. ... I have 33 grandchildren... two are Girl Scouts... *hugs Cat*... you know how it is." Okay. SO MUCH is weird about this reply. First of all... If you don't want cookies... SAY SO AND THEN GO AWAY. I think I've already covered this here, in reason five. Secondly... If you absolutely MUST tell us why you can't buy cookies from our poor starving group... then just say "Sorry. Already bought some from my grandchildren," and then leave. Poof. End of situation. We don't need to hear about your grandchildren. We don't know them, and we don't know you, and we don't care. Thirdly... ... ... YOU DON'T GO UP TO A GIRL SCOUT ON A SITE SALE AND HUG HER! I could write an entirely different post on why this is unacceptable and weird. But for here, I will simply say... That's stalkerish, that's weird, that's... we aren't standing around with a sign that says "FREE HUGS", for pete's sake!
  3. "I'm going over here." ....uuuuuuuhhhh... ...... ... maybe if we rewind this scene, it'll make a little more sense. We say, "Hello! *smiles*" You say, "*glares* I'm going over here." .... huh. Does that reply have anything to do with the salutation? ...Does that reply even have anything to do with ANYTHING?!
  4. "Nrwaaaahhhh!" .... .... .... .... I almost have nothing to say to this, except... "Are you kidding?" and "Are you a dinosaur?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Angela... according to the Urban Dictionary

So, because I was killing time before my improv play directing gig, I looked up "Angela" in the Urban Dictionary.
Definitions were very varied.
my favorites, however, were these:

"Small, short catlike person. Very easy to tease, but there's no reason to tease an Angela because they're very sweet. You can trust an Angela. Often, Angelas need a hug. Give your Angela a hug today."

"Angela is interesting and extraordinary! Angela is an old soul and a spiritual being. She bares her heart for the world to see, but occasionally hides out in the house for two or three weeks at a time. Angela deeply enjoys family and friends, yet randomly stops speaking to them for reasons she lacks knowledge there of.

Angela is a witty character-- perhaps she can be a bit whimsical and unpredictable at times, but Angela is determined to find meaning to her life. Angela's seem like their heads are always in the clouds, but in all actuality, they pretend and they're very grounded and down to earth. Strength, spirit, a bit of insanity, and love are what keep Angela going."

"The name Angela is given to people who are kind and sweet to others. She is very friendly and easy to get along with. Amazing personality. Sometimes sadness can get the best of her but to see her smile is like having the sun shine bright. But watch out just because she is fun and nice doesn't mean she can take care of herself she will put you in your place fast. She has the most amazing dark wavy hair and mysteries eyes. She can be hard to read at times but don't worry she is very trust worthy. She is smart, hard working, and a all around good person. She is also a friend to the four legged furry creatures. She is a friend to all.... :)"

awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!! that's so awesome! I love that! I should put one of those as my profile. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Epic. Win.

I got her (yeah, it's a "her", not an "it"... if ships can be a "her", my piano can be a "her") yesterday, from my uncle Joel, and his family. :)
The story behind her is that she used to be my late aunt Sue's piano. Before that she belonged to Uncle Stan (I don't know how I'm related to him, exactly), and before that, she belonged to my Grandma J's sister (Irene). So this piano truly is an heirloom. It's old, it's out of tune, you can't use the bench because it might fall apart (that's our old piano bench [note the elephant print] by the piano), and it is the very best piano ever.
Christina and I have been playing on it (okay, mostly I have), almost constantly since we got it yesterday.

So, anyway, that's my big news of the week... I got a piano! A beautiful, old piano. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Homeschooling Disadvantages": A Rebuttal

Today, my mom told me to read this article here, and then right a rebuttal. And so, here, in all it's homeschool student glory, it is. :) Please note that I live in the USA, and so the quote from the Bill of Rights might not be valid, if you do not. :)
(I apologize for any mistakes.)

Homeschooling is an ancient tradition. I'm not sure how far it dates back, but I'm willing to bet that it goes back very far.. and like most good traditions, it is still around today.

Why? Why do parents choose to keep their children home? Why do they choose not to send them to a big brick building where they will be taught under the guidance of "qualified teachers"?
There are several reasons. The first of which is that of learning.
Learning. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as "To gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction or experience... to come to be able... to come to realize".
Many parents find that the instruction, and learning experience, in public and private schools is inadequate and lacking in many areas. Believe it or not, so do many students. I remember last summer, at my summer camp, I shared a tent with a girl, "Dana". Dana and I had many conversations about the pros and cons of both homeschooling and public schooling, and even though she herself was a public schooler, she did not come up with any pros for public schooling, except that it was easier for her parents.
We did, however, come up with many pros for learning at "home".

First of all, you know what you're learning. You know what your kids are learning, and you can control that. If you want to teach that the world was made in seven days? Then go right ahead. No one's there to stop you. Some people find that a dangerous idea. "Who's to say what they're being taught?" they say. Let me quote a very importance piece of paper in this.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Therefore, parents have the right to teach their children what they want. They may not be right, but they have the right to teach their kids.
So, you can control what you/your kids are learning.
You can also make sure that you/they are learning at their own level.
Story time!
I have a friend. We'll call her "Jane". Jane didn't learn to read, and she didn't learn to read. In fact, she didn't learn to read until she was about 7 or 8. If Jane had been in public school, she would have been held back and labeled "slow". Fortunately for her, Jane was homeschooled, and her mom wasn't about to let her not learn, even though she couldn't read.
So her mom read to her. She read books, and more books, and many, many books. Jane became a small expert on several topics, including Ancient Egypt.
Oh, and to those who it interests... Jane is now a fantastic reader, and has read the entire Lord of The Rings trilogy.

I myself was at a higher level than my public school peers for many years. It is only recently, and thanks to my extensive traveling last year, that I am back at my "proper" level. At school, I would be expected to be learning at the same rate as everyone else. This is difficult for us children/teenagers.

Yet another benefit of learning in a homeschooling environment instead of a public school one, is that you get an incredible love of learning. We homeschoolers do not learn because we have to, or because it is required. No, we stuff our heads so full of information that they almost burst because we can. Because we want to. Almost every homeschooler that I have met (and I've met quite a few), have an unsatisfiable need to learn more. What is life if you aren't learning something? What is life if every day isn't full of something new that you didn't know before you woke up?
That seems to be the attitude of most homeschoolers. I'm not saying that public schoolers cannot have a love of learning. I am simply saying that the environment created by homeschooling is much more inductive of that mindset than the public school must be.

The second major reason that people homeschool themselves or their children is, believe it or not, socialization.
"a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position."
Socialization is a tricky subject to talk about. On one hand, there's the question about how you get to meet people if you're at home all the time.

I think, here, it is important to define my term of "home". Home can mean, of course, simply "a family's place of residence", as my dictionary says. Or, it can be defined as "wherever it is likely to find or locate a certain individual or group of peoples". Most homeschoolers use the second definition. Home to most of us can include friend's houses, forest preserves, swimming pools, libraries, museums, and churches.
So, if you use that, being at "home" all the time is actually a pretty good thing, for socialization. To add to that, a lot of homeschoolers take classes in art, language, writing, history, music... you name it, they'll probably take it. There are, in fact, organizations that act as a sort of "public school for homeschoolers". They are useful for people of my age, who are trying to earn CLEP and AP scores for college and high school credit.

Besides these organizations, there are co ops for homeschoolers. Homeschool groups. I belong to a HOUSE group, which is an easy way for me to meet other homeschoolers, of all ages. To add to that, I (and many other homeschoolers) take lessons in things such as musical instruments. these are not necessarily at public schools (which is, I think, what Sandy, who wrote that article, was concerned about). They are often from private tutors, which is actually the norm for most of us. Besides that, if you need more "out of the house" activities, many of us are religious and go to some sort of religious gathering... or even if we are not, there are thousands of other extracurricular that many of us attend. Girl Scouts.. 4H... Boy Scouts... Campfire... the list goes on and on.

One of the benefits of socialization in a homeschooling environment is that you are never forced to talk to a person. If you don't want to see someone, there is almost always a way that someone can make sure you don't have to. In school, on the other hand, you constantly have people shoved at you, that you might not even like. Bullying is a huge issue, and it tends to thrive in public schools.
Story time!
I have a friend. We'll call him "Tim". Tim goes to a public school. Tim suffers from depression.
Instead of getting support from his peers about this, Tim is bullied because of this.

Now, we do not want to be bullied. We do not intentionally give bullies material to bully us because of. I am under the impression that our parents do not want us to be bullied. This is one of the huge arguments towards homeschooling. During homeschooling, parents generally can watch the people with whom their children socialize with, and if someone is acting horrid, they know about it. Even if they do not personally watch this taking place, I have observed that most homeschool children and teens are much more likely to tell their parents about something like that, than public school students are. Based on that, I believe that public school students are far more likely to be "isolated" as the author of that article said, than homeschoolers are. And what's worse, the public schoolers are isolated by their peers, while homeschoolers are usually isolated because of their own choices. If I were to go up to a group of homeschoolers, and ask them why they didn't associate with some other people, their response would probably not be, "my parents won't let me talk to them" or something... it would more likely be something along the lines of, "I do not agree with their religion/politics/ethics".

One of the statements that come up when people discuss homeschooling is, "But parents aren't qualified to teach their children".
In fact, to quote that article, "Parents who aren't fully qualified to teach..."
I believe this is incorrect. Parents are one of the only ones qualified to teach their children. Parents teach their kids to talk, don't they? To walk? To eat? They might even teach them to read. (My grandma did so to my mom, and my mom's friend is teaching her son to read, even though he's also in public school). But for some reason, over the years, the right to teach your kids algebra has been taken away.
One of the ridiculous things that people say is that "but how do you remember that?". This is talking to my mom. Who was taught in a public school.
This concerns me.
Because if those people don't remember what their public school teachers taught them, how are they going to teach it well enough to us, that we remember it? Just because someone has a degree in teaching doesn't make them more qualified to teach us than our parents are! First of all, our parents know us and love us. If they care enough about us to homeschool us in the first place, they care enough about us to teach us properly. After all, if I had kids, and I didn't care about them... I'd send them to public school. They'd get picked on... I wouldn't have to deal about them..

But, our parents do care about us, so they homeschool us. And since they homeschool us, they generally are working one-on-one, or one-on-three with us, so they know how we're doing. This eliminates the need for standardized testing.

My problem with standardized testing is that it eliminates the fun of learning. It makes sure you learn "what's on the test", not "what you want to". So if I were to be taking an AP test on world history (which I hopefully will be, this winter), I have to learn world history... I can't learn world history until I hit the Victorian era and decide that, wow, I really REALLY like the Victorian era, and I'm going to take a break for a month or two, and just learn about that time in history. Those sorts of things happen all the time during my homeschool.. or we simply decide that something is boring and unnecessary, and I can cut it out of my schedule.
somehow, I just don't see that happening if I am forced to take a standardized test, to prove to public school parents that I am doing just as well as their children are (sometimes better).
No offense to public school parents.

So, I believe that homeschooling is a good choice. Then again, I am biased, having been a homeschool student my entire life. I find that most of the questions and comments made against homeschooling to be immature, uninformed, prejudiced, and stereotyped. I am not a stereotype. I am a person. I might be a young person, but "A person's a person no matter how small". Right? Even if they do happen to be taught at "home".
That is the conclusion to my (fairly lengthy... 1938 words or so!) rebuttal, if you can even call it that.
Have a nice day!