Feb 26, 2009

Homeschool Mom Steps Outside the Box—and Dances on Top

Note: Please give a warm welcome to my hilarious friend, author Annette Fix! I love her even more after reading her following guest post on homeschooling. She totally gets me when it comes to trying to fit into the two most distinct camps in the homeschooling world.

It's not easy finding someone who is from the same Truck Masters School of Language as Annette puts it (I'm the fellow graduate *giggle*), and who is fun-loving, laid-back and non-judgy. But Annette is all of the above and that's why I adore her.

Be sure to read to the end to find out how to win an autographed copy of Annette's hilarious book The Break-Up Diet. (It's one of my favorites now)

Also don't forget about my giveaway for a $25 to Chic and Sassy Design. Enjoy!


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My sensibilities have always been more “Dallas” than “Little House on the Prairie”—so, when I decided to homeschool my son through junior high, I quickly discovered that my assimilation to the homeschooling culture would be as easy as shampooing and blow-drying a cat.

I started by attending my first conference, eager to take notes in all the sessions and absorb the wisdom packed into the phone-book-sized manual. During a break, I sat at a table filled with other homeschooling mothers, and began flipping through the binder. I came across a page of sample math word problems. Example: If Eve gave Adam 6 apples in the Garden of Eden and he ate 4 of them, how many sins were left?

Um…seriously? Math sins? I looked around to see if I was on a candid camera show. Unfortunately, I was not. However, I was the only mother at the table, laughing like a deranged witch, and ripping pages out of the binder. By the time I tore out every page I didn’t agree with, the content of the remaining pages wouldn’t have filled a prayer card. When I turned around from dumping the harvested pages into the nearest trash bin, the other mothers at the table had formed a hand-clasped circle and were praying for the salvation of my misguided soul.

Note to self: Not my scene. Run. Run far away. Very fast.

Next, I decided to attend a different type of homeschooling conference—someplace where I’d be less likely to be struck by lightning or burned at the stake. At my second conference, I was embraced by granola-crunchy moms who make organic pasta, name their children after indigenous plants, and don't own shoes. The environment felt much more inclusive and welcoming, even if it was a circus of free-love and Bobby McFerrin unschooling.

Out of the two choices, it seemed like the most suitable fit—until I could locate an organization of college-educated, homeschooling, exotic dancer/single moms. But I wasn’t going to bet my brass pole on that ever happening.

Unlike the first conference, children were allowed to attend, and my son enjoyed meeting kids who reinforced what I told him—homeschooling would be an adventure. He could blow up a bottle of Mountain Dew and Mentos in the backyard. Study the mating habits of the North African gerbil. Or learn to play the “Star Spangled Banner” on a xylophone. Lack of imagination is the only limit in homeschooling.

At this conference, I was introduced to the concept of multiple intelligences and their related learning styles. That’s when I realized my son’s problems in public elementary school were the result of his kinesthetic learning style, not A.D.D. as his teachers claimed. A light came on for both of us and it helped me guide my son to his current success as a professional photographer at the age of 20.

Though my homeschooling days have come to an end, a recent conversation with a like-minded mom (and fellow graduate of Truck Masters School of Language) caused me to reflect on my experience. I’ve always been a little outside of the box, and because of it, I’ve become a keen observer of human nature and an armchair quarterback of social psychology.

I found that although the utmost care is given to making the decision to homeschool their child/student, many homeschool moms try to conform to rigid expectations—outside expectations—of who they should be, how they should behave, what curriculum they should use and how they should teach. This was especially true in the conservative homeschooling culture.

All the posturing and Mary Kay fa├žades seemed so counterproductive to the end goal—preparing the children for attaining success in the world—teaching real life skills: financial independence, social and environmental consciousness, development of aspirations and a sense of purpose, strong communication abilities, emotional maturity and an understanding of their sexuality, interpersonal relationship skills, the ability to reason and overcome challenges, and most of all, to have a solid sense of self to embrace and be authentically who they are.

That’s a big job that goes far beyond teaching algebra and U.S. history. But how can a child/student learn those valuable life skills if their homeschool mom is not teaching by example?

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear them.

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Annette Fix was a single mom, sole support and care of her son for 15 years. She has been happily married for 5 years and is adjusting to an empty nest. She is a freelance editor, a publishing industry and single parenting speaker, Senior Editor of WOW! Women On Writing, and the author of The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir-the heartbreaking and hilarious true story of a 30-something homeschooling single mom and aspiring writer who is working as an exotic dancer, searching for Prince Charming, and trying to find the perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

You can email her directly at annette[at]annettefix[dot]com.

For the length of her blog tour, Annette will be giving away free digital copies of her memoir. If you’d like a copy, send an email to promo[at]thebreak-updiet[dot]com, please put “So a Blonde Walks Into a Blog” in the subject line.

To win an autographed copy of The Break-Up Diet, simply leave a comment here (Haloscan or Blogger) with your thoughts on Annette's post above.

For bonus entries, you can do one or all of the following (one bonus entry for each method):

~Twitter a link to this post. Then leave a separate comment here with the link to your Tweet.

~Write about this giveaway on your blog with a link to this post. Then leave a separate comment here with a link to your post.

Deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. ET, Thursday, March 5, 2009. Winner will be selected at random through Random.org and contacted by email (so be sure there's an email address to be found in your comment or profile).

Good luck!

Feb 24, 2009

Like My New Outfit? Win a Gift Card to Get One For Your Blog!


Sooooo....notice anything different? This blonde gets to walk into a brand new blog! Woo!

And it's all thanks to the very talented Zoe from Chic and Sassy Designs. I LOOOVE this template SO much!!!

I had been tired of my old design for some time and I know the border didn't match up properly in some browsers. I was also on Classic Blogger and couldn't add any fun widgets like the "Follow this Blog" feature (feel free to click on that by the way *grin*).

Zoe came to my rescue and prettied everything up and pulled me out of the blogging dark ages. Working with her on the design was a breeze! She puts a lot of heart into her work and it shows.

The very best part of my new diggs? I get to share the fun of a new look with one of you, because Zoe has graciously offered to give one of my friends a $25 gift certificate toward any of her premade designs for Blogger! Even if you're not in the market for a new design yourself, the gift certificate makes a great gift for someone you know (and the "to" field can be filled in with their name instead).

Take a look at some of the work Zoe has done for others:

And get this...most of those gorgeous illustrations? Zoe does them herself! (she uses a mixture of her own as well as purchased art). In fact, she's ventured into selling her illustrations at VectorStock.com. Check them out here.

Usually you have to search high and low for illustrations like hers and they can be quite expensive. But all of Zoe's templates come with her gorgeous, personal designs!

Click here to see the available premade templates at Chic and Sassy Design. Here are a few of my favorites:



"Hair Care"




"Clubbing"




"Beach Ball"


The gift certificate does not expire, and Zoe is always adding to her premades collection, so if you don't see something you like right now, you can always keep an eye out for another design later.

And as she says in her blog, she is always open to suggestions for designs. While she can't take any custom orders at this time (because she's very booked up...which is no surprise!), she will take your suggestions into consideration when she works on her premades.

To enter to win the $25 gift certificate toward a premade template for Blogger, just leave a comment on this post (Haloscan and Blogger entries both accepted).

You can receive additional entries by doing one or both of the following:

~Twitter with a link to this post. Then leave a separate comment here with your Twitter link. (One bonus entry)

~Blog about this contest with a link to this post. Then leave a separate comment here with the link to your post. (Five bonus entries)

Deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Winner will be selected at random using Random.org. Good luck!

Feb 20, 2009

Well Baby I'm a Put-On-A-Show Kind of Girl



One, long, agonizing month until Amanda and I finally get to see Britney! I've been thinking of ordering this costume to wear to the concert:



But I haven't been able to make myself fork over the money for it. And there's no gurantee Amanda is going to buy a costume herself and I don't think I'd want to be the only one dressed up. But the other part of me knows I'd better order it soon if I'm going to do it. Ugh...decisions, decisions!

Okay, if you were me, what would you do? Order (and probably have a blast with it...lots of others are dressing up even if Amanda won't be), or just go in my regular, boring clothes but save myself the $40?

Feb 10, 2009

Mystery Mess

Warning: Don't read or view the photos below if you're squeamish

I was folding my laundry yesterday evening when I got to one of the shirts in the basket. This is what I found:



I wondered if I had gotten the laundry baskets mixed up and these clothes were actually dirty. But even if they were, I would've remembered getting something that gross on my collar.

Then, as I was holding the shirt, I realized that the part near the collar felt damp. This stain was fresh.

I looked into the laundry basket and found this in the corner:



Yes, dog vomit. For some reason, Sophie decided that my laundry basket, filled with clean clothes, would be a good place to throw up in. *sigh* Don't even ask me what that neon green stuff is because I couldn't tell you. There also seemed to be potatoes in the mix and I haven't made potatoes for any of our meals for several days.

I just love having to do laundry.....twice.