January 29, 2013

Spanked by the Bible Belt

This is our 7th year of homeschooling.  It's also our 7th year as members of a non-denominational Christian homeschool support group.  And by Christian, I mean Protestant.  And by Protestant, I mean evangelical.

I've learned a lot as a member of this group.  A lot of good things, about homeschooling and parenting and praying for others.  Several members of the group were a big support while I was taking care of my grandma.

There is another--not so warm and fuzzy--thing I learned as a result of joining my homeschool group.  It is that many evangelical Christians don't consider Catholics to be Christians.

You might be thinking, duh!  But it was news to me.

I've lived in 5 states.  Attended non-denominational Christian churches as a kid.  Went to Baptist church as a teen.  Attended college away from home.  And have lived in the very buckle of the Bible Belt for 15 years. But I never heard that there are fellow Christians who deny the Christianity of Catholics until I joined this homeschool group.

Worse, my 12 year old son has only had to deal with religious intolerance because we are members of this group.  He's never come up against it anywhere else.

So we've decided to leave the group.

I probably should have left the first few times I heard other moms make anti-Catholic comments.  They did it craftily though ("but I know YOU'RE a Christian!"), and each time, I assumed they were just ignorant and didn't represent the group as a whole.

But the comments kept coming.  Little remarks here and there.  Totally different moms.  And then Nature Boy's homeschool co-op friends said some things to him.  It was increasingly getting on my nerves.  Then last month I talked to another Catholic member of the group at a party.  I found out she had experienced the same thing I had, and that she and two other Catholic members had already left the homeschool group for that reason.  

My eyes were opened.

I have always considered my group to be the best one in town, certainly the best Christian homeschool group.  I didn't want to leave the group in an angry huff, so I asked a long-time friend and leader in the group for her perspective.

I was shocked to discover that she felt the same way the other moms did.

I'm grateful that she was honest with me, because now I know why I never fit in.  Why I always felt like an outsider in the group.  Part of it is just that I am more liberal than most of the group members are--but another part of it is that this is a Christian-only group, and several members don't believe Catholics are Christians.

Making the decision to leave the group was a process.  I was pissed at first.  Especially on my son's behalf. I worked through that anger, forgave the haters, and moved on.

Now I feel a peace about it.  It's the right decision.

There are some Christians who seem to have judgment and prejudice as religious doctrines.  As if castigating others somehow makes themselves more holy.  I choose not to hang out with people like that. It's the opposite of my experience of Christianity.  And if I, a Catholic Christian, feel that way, imagine how non-Christians are experiencing these people's attempts to show them Jesus.  

As Tobuscus says, "Fail!" 

January 26, 2013

The Reluctant Unschooler

This is a post I wrote about a year ago for Christian Unschooling.  I didn't publish it to my own blog at that time.  I'm doing so now--with an update in the next two paragraphs.

Our homeschool is always changing.  My education philosophy can be reduced to two words: whatever works.  I believe that's different for every child and every family.  I'm learning that it's also different for an individual child and an individual family over time.  Our homeschool looks different now than it did a year ago when I wrote the post below.  We're still unschooly, in that there's a lot of flexibility and freedom (and fun!) built into our homeschool.  But we're not purists.  We just do whatever works for whatever we're working on at that particular time.  We discuss our options.  Try a few things.  Discard a few things that don't work.  And basically muddle our way through until something clicks.  (Or until we give up in frustration and go to the zoo instead...)

I love our life.  But it has its anxieties.  I'm forever freaking out about math, Nature Boy's nemesis.  I worry that some family members think that my son's struggles with writing and math are caused by homeschooling.  That if I were a real teacher, he wouldn't still be struggling.  In my heart I know that learning disabilities are real.  Being at school wouldn't magically solve the challenges that come with them. But I'm also aware that I don't know everything.  (Just most things...)  And that's where tutors come in!  We had great results with a spelling tutor last year and currently, with a math tutor.  He's awesome!  He's an engineer, but in a very unengineery way, he is able to get all creative with introducing mathematical concepts.  He gets how my son learns.  It's not formulaic or traditional (duh!), but conceptual and real worldy.  (The technical term.)  He is excited to work with Nature Boy because we don't follow a traditional curriculum for math.  He's not limited to only offering homework help or to one certain way to do math problems, according to what a teacher wants.  I think they are both learning from each other.        

And now for the original post.


We didn't intend to homeschool.

Our son attended pre-k and kindergarten in public school. I had the typical my baby's going to school all day pangs, but that was the norm, so I dealt with it. Pre-k was fairly smooth, but things started getting bumpy in kindergarten.

One day my little guy came home from school and said, “Mom, would you please homeschool me? School is chaos!” Tears became part of our bedtime routine, crowding out our stories and prayers. I was at a loss. I'd loved school as a child. I couldn't understand what was causing our son so much anxiety.

I started researching homeschooling and began husband negotiations. (He took a little convincing at first.) We agreed to try homeschooling for first grade and then reevaluate. We've never looked back.

Our early homeschooling style was influenced by some of Ruth Beechick's writings. I really liked her simple approach: a relaxed focus on the 3Rs with lots of free time and read-alouds. I followed her guidelines for 1st-3rdgrade (except for the copy work, as my son has dysgraphia). During this time, I noticed how naturally learning was occurring in other areas.

I also noticed that as time went on, my boy wasn't enjoying learning as much. The more we relied on structured curriculum and worksheets, the more frustrated and learning-averse he became. Once again I was confused. The textbook/workbook method of learning worked for me in school, so why wasn't it working for him? (Apparently I considered myself the Standard of Normal.) :D

I learned about unschooling when my son was in 3rd grade. To be honest, the idea freaked me out! My son experienced public school as chaos, but that's what unschooling sounded like to me. Even so, by this time we'd tried everything else. We'd discovered other learning differences (dyslexia and dyscalculia) and I realized that I was going to have to step outside of my comfort zone and be the homeschool mom my son needed--even if it made me go prematurely gray!

It has taken me a few years to really get comfortable with our nontraditional path. The best advice I've ever been given about homeschooling (and parenting!) is this:

God knows the plans He has for our children. He created them to be perfectly suited for what He is calling them to do in their lives. Our job is to help our kids discover what God's purpose for them is, and to aid them in acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to follow their calling.

If we spend all of our time trying to remediate our children's academic "weaknesses", we won't be helping them to develop their strengths. And their strengths are what God is going to use.

January 17, 2013

Holy DNS Settings, Batman!

Techie people, I am in awe of you.  You are modern day Einsteins.  I have no idea what the hell you do, but I am certain that it is amazing. 

I finally decided to spring for a custom domain name for my blog.  It's a shorter name, which makes it easier to give people my blog address.  Now, instead of the really long and probably forgettable www.yeahisaiditblog.blogspot.com, folks can just type in www.yeahisaiditblog.com.  Or for the really lazy/efficient, just yeahisaiditblog.com.  Yay!

It's such a simple thing, right?  WRONG. 

I purchased my domain through Blogger, with the assurance that when you purchase a domain through Blogger (with Google Apps, who partners with GoDaddy or eNom), everything comes configured to work with Google products.  It should all work seamlessly, lied Google.  Tech-clueless me believed it would be that simple. 

And the sneaky Google henchman behind the curtain laughed at my naivete.

For four score and seven years 3 days, I fought valiantly, trying to convince, manipulate, beat, and bribe Blogger to publish to my new domain name.  And it was all, No. I don't recognize you or your authority here, ma'am.  Be gone.

Then it tried to trick me, Rumpelstiltskin style, by giving me some ridiculously long verification code that wouldn't work in my DNS settings as a CNAME.  So, per the recommendation of a techie guy at my domain registry company, I entered the code as a TXT.  And that didn't even work! 

(Is it me or did I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher in that last paragraph?)

I KNOW!!!!!  I've been editing and adding A records and CNAME records and TXT records and slamalamadingdong records for 3 days now, and I still don't know what any of that means.

It's incredibly confusing.  It's a language I don't speak.  The language of GENIUSES, people.  And we can't all be geniuses, you know?

Which is why I am grateful that techies exist.

Especially female techies.

After 4534 emails (which might be a slight exaggeration) and one fruitless telephone conversation with a techie guy from my domain registry company, and at least 4534 tears, I finally got a solution to my problem 15 minutes after my first interaction with a WOMAN.

She had me send her a screen shot.  She looked into Google Support Forums.  And she went in and fixed that long verification code by removing a period at the end that is not supposed to be there, GOOGLE.  Then she changed it from a TXT to a CNAME.  (I know.  Whatever that is.)  And magically, it worked!!!

Hallelujah!  (For real.) 

Note:  I don't think you have to change any of your settings to keep getting notifications about my blog posts.  A TECHIE WOMAN is on the case (*cue superhero music*), so it should all work like magic now.  If it doesn't, let me know.  (And I will revoke her Woman card.)


I will be adding the Disqus commenting system, so my legions of readers can have a more user-friendly way to leave comments.  (Which you will totally do more often, right?) (Because I really, really like getting comments.) (And I will totally reply to them.) (Signed, Comment Ho.) 

January 15, 2013

Hair-Muggification. And a Little Ditty.

Sorry I lied to you guys about the whole "I'll post a video tomorrow" thing.  Sometimes I lie.*  It's necessary to balance out all the good I do.

I will post the video of me singing Adele's Make You Feel My Love in a moment.  But first I'd like to complain about a couple things.  Because that's what I do.  I complain.**

The first thing I'd like to complain about is that I was recently hair-mugged for the 3453545th time.  If you've been around for a while, you know that this is a recurring theme in my life.  For the rest of you, a definition. 

Hair-mugged:  [haer-mug-d] verb; past tense 

1. the act of cutting off way more hair than a person has requested or given permission for (usually perpetrated by a licensed hair stylist) 

2. the act of chopping layers into previously layerless hair without the consent of the client (also usually perpetrated by a licensed hair stylist)

[present tense: is hair-mugging; future tense: will hair-mug}

It'd been 10 weeks since I'd last been robbed of hair, so it was time for a trim.  The last stylist I went to went renegade and decided to deal with my weird swirly growth pattern by cutting the underneath layer at the back of my neck an inch shorter than the rest of my hair.  To "hide it".  Because apparently that layer of hair is optional

And since Miss Scissorhands cut the back of my hair so short overall, the underneath layer ended up only being a half inch long.  I was all, "WTH?  Who just gets rid of a layer of hair to deal with a swirly growth pattern?"  And the really sucky thing is that this stylist cost 3 times more than my usual one.

Her masterplan to ruin my life help me manage my swirly growth pattern only caused another problem. Without that underlayer of hair, my curls fell all weird in back.  The left side looked like it was an inch longer than the right side.  And I have OCD, so symmetry is essential.

I went back to try to get things evened out a little, hoping that the stylist could trim the longer-looking side a bit so it would all fall evenly when dry.  Instead, she gave me a hack job on only the left side of my head.  I came home and asked Shrinky Dink to fix it.  (She's my best friend, so she wants me to have good hair.  And she's an artist, so she's got symmetry skillz.)

I waited 10 long weeks to get some length back.  I didn't go back to the expensive hair Nazi (No hair for YOU!).  I went to a cheap stylist who, while not particularly creative, has given me decent haircuts in the past.  I helpfully detailed all the things I wanted (the sides and front long) and all the things I didn't want (chin-length hair).  And she gave me what I asked for--except that she also gave me SIDE LAYERS.  I HATE side layers.  Side layers are not for curly-haired people.  When I have side layers, they wedge up, making me look like a jellyfish.  It's not a good look, people.

And now that I've spent so much time complaining about hair-mugging, I don't feel like complaining about the second thing.  (You're welcome.) 

As a consolation prize for having to read about the Great Hair-Mugging Debacle of 2012/2013, I will just post the video now.

Actually, I just lied again.  First I'll do the footnotes.  Then I'll post the video.


*I actually don't lie.  Except about my weight on my drivers license.

**I do complain, however.  Frequently.  I find that it keeps me from going postal on people.  In that way, my complaining is actually a public service.  You're welcome, society at large.

January 12, 2013

10 Random Tidbits





1.  I love watching Ru Paul's Drag Race.  It's a big dose of happy for me.  It's also a guilty pleasure because my husband absolutely hates the show.  I know this because I tricked him into watching it one day.  After 10 minutes of glancing over at me with murder in his eyes, he left the room in disgust.  I don't know what his problem is.  I happen to think the phrase "You've got she-mail!" is genius.  


2.  Oops.  I just Googled "You've got she-mail" to see if it's spelled S-H-E-M-A-I-L or S-H-E-M-A-L-E.  Then I decided to add a picture from Ru Paul's Drag Race.  So I went back to Google and clicked on Images.  But I forgot that the last thing I'd Googled was "shemale".

Don't make the same mistake I did, people.

(I am too traumatized to add a photo now.)

3.  I have an aunt who used to be my uncle.  I think I should call her my aunt.  Although she's the father of my cousin.  And that really messes with my preference for correct noun-pronoun agreement.

(Not that it's all about me.)

4.  I used to wonder why we were never invited to dinner parties.  Surely people should be bombarding our butler* with constant invitations to balls, right?  But until recently, we'd gotten nary an invite.

Then I went to a Christmas cookie exchange party a month ago and talked about how I don't have a labia minora.

What?  People talk about their bowel health and painful labors all the time.  I'm just trying to fit in.

Until a doctor mentioned it a few years ago, I thought only porn stars had labia minora.  I thought they got them from having too much sex.  (True story.)  (Not that I've ever looked at porn.)

The big mystery is if I ever had a labia minora or if I used to have one and it disappeared.  Yes, it is possible for it to disappear (or atrophy, usually because of some crazy autoimmune thing).  So you might want to check yours periodically to make sure it's still there.

I bet you didn't know that.  And that is why you read this blog.  For important medical information like this.

When I first discovered that porn stars are more normal than I am, I was depressed.  Especially when my OB/GYN told me that the problem I have usually only happens to post-menopausal women.

I went through a period of being all, "I'm old and deformed. My gynecologist only tolerates looking at my girly bits because I give her money."

But then I got a new gynecologist.  And this one told me that women actually have PLASTIC SURGERY to reduce their labia minoras!  It's called a labiaplasty.  I won't link it for you because I assume you don't want to be redirected to pictures of vaginas.  (You're welcome.)

It makes me feel so good to know that millions of women** are vajazzling themselves to the tune of $5000 for something I have for free!

(Y'all know I love a good deal.)

5.  I'm pretty sure I overshared on #4.

6.  I'm a little worried about what Google will do with indexing my blog now that I've used the words  "shemale" and "vajazzling".

7.  I don't plan on posting about vaginas again.  Just to be clear.

8.  You guys know I'm cheap, right?  I hate wasting money.  That doesn't mean I hate spending money.  I just want to get a good value.  Anyhoo, I bought a pair of purple long johns several months ago.  I wore them once.  As jammy pants.  Then I loaned them to a Homeskool Mafia member when her son was in the hospital.  And she never gave them back.  I guess she figured they were her due for having to live at a hospital for several weeks.

So I bought another pair and didn't wear them until the Illinois trip last week.  And they didn't fit very well.  I might just be romanticizing the past, but I think my (stolen) first pair of purple long johns fit me just right. The second pair had way too much belly room (which NEVER happens with me) and not enough butt room (which often happens with me).  So I tried them on backwards.  And they fit!  I figured these particular purple pants must have been mistagged or something.  (Is mistagged a word?)  I thought about keeping them, but having the tag in the front of the pants totally screwed with my obsessive-compulsive need for order.  What?!  A tag in the FRONT?  What is the world coming to!!!!!?

I wanted to return them, but I'd already thrown away the package they came in.  So I bought a THIRD pair of purple long johns with the intention of returning the ill-fitting second pair in the package that the third pair came in.  (You still with me?  I know.  The ethics are murky here.)  But then the third pair fit like the second pair!  I guess Fruit of the Loom must have been short a quality control inspector for their last batch of big girl long johns.

I thought about keeping them.  About throwing caution to the wind, living on the wild side, and wearing them backwards.  But then I was all, No. You know what? I'm DONE with long johns!  Long johns let me down.  In my experience, when you own long johns, they are either stolen from you, or they are faulty in some way.

(Much like my experience with red t-shirts.  I'm done with those too.)

So I found the receipts for both pairs of jacked up long johns and went to Walmart.  Because Walmart takes everything back.  Which is a boon for people with OCD like me.

I walked in with my purple pea coat, my purple purse, and not one, but two purple pairs of long johns.  One of which had no package.  Yeah, that Crazy Purple Lady at Walmart tonight?  That was me.  And I got my money back!  All $12 of it.

So let's review:  I made a trip to Walmart at 8PM at night with ice on the roads with the sole purpose of returning two pairs of $6 long johns.  Because I can't wait to return things when I decide that I don't want them.  It makes me anxious.  It's unfinished business.  Just knowing that "not-mine" stuff is sitting there.  Waiting to be returned.  Mocking me.  *shiver*

9.  Then I went to Target and bought a soft pair of sweatpants instead.  I hope I like them, because Target is picky about returns.  Plus, I'm getting tired of the Great Stretchy Pant Debacle of 2013.  I'm ready to relax in my pants.  To introduce them to all of my other pants.  And that can't happen until I've decided to keep them.  Because my other pants would be sad if I returned a pair after they'd made friends and stuff.

10.  There really isn't a #10.  But I prefer even numbers and all the How To Blog advice says lists of 10 are where it's at.

Oh wait.  I do have something.  I have a video of myself singing Adele's Make You Feel My Love that I will post tomorrow.  

And here is a picture, because the How To Blog advice says all blog posts need a picture.

It is an anatomy picture.

And that's all I have to say about that.



* We don't actually have a butler.  But if we did, he would have excellent nostrils.  The nostrils of royalty. And people would invite us to stuff all the time just to get a glimpse of our butler's amazing nostrils.

** I made up the statistic of millions of vajazzling women.  But I assure you that labiaplasty is real.

Which makes me think that after this post, women are going to be offering me money for a picture of my model vulva.  You know, to take to their plastic surgeons.  They'll be all, "I want Angelina Jolie's lips, Jennifer Lopez's butt, Jennifer Aniston's nose, and Danielle's vulva."

So Tree Guy, you don't have to worry about how we'll afford retirement anymore!

January 10, 2013


Shrinky Dink and I just got back from a visit to her dad's in Illinois.  Nature Boy likes him some road trips, and he's a fan of nice grandpas, so he came too.

Unlike my son, I am not a particular fan of road trips.  Riding in a car is just something I have to do to get where I'm going.  Besides, Crohn's disease and long car trips are not great bedfellows.  (I won't go into detail.)  (You're welcome.)

But I didn't want Shrinky Dink to have to make the 8 hour drive alone, so I agreed to accompany her.

Unfortunately, Nature Boy got sick with a cough and shortness of breath the day before the trip.  At night. On New Year's Day.

Which means there was nary a doctor's office open.  Since we were supposed to leave on our trip the next morning, I called several urgent care clinics.  Only one was open.  The receptionist told me to bring my son right in.  We's country folk now, so it took us a good 40 minutes to get there.  We walked in, and I told the receptionist that we'd called ahead and been told to come in.  And the chick had the nerve to say, "I'm sorry.  We just filled our last spot, like, 10 minutes ago."


I was all, "I called ahead!  You told me to come in!  We live 45748975685 miles away and this is the only place open!"

And she just said, "We usually refer to the ER down the street."

I stormed out.  It was dramatic.

What Miss Nonchalant failed to realize is that it was January 1st of a new year, and medical insurance deductibles start over.  Ours is $2000, and it applies to all hospital services, but not to primary care or urgent care.

Her "helpful" referral to the ER meant the difference between a $20 urgent care copay and a $2000 deductible.

So we decided to wait until the next day and go to our primary care doctor.  I set my alarm for the (ridiculously early) hour of 8:30AM and got the earliest appointment I could.  I didn't want us to get too late a start on our road trip.  And wouldn't you know, the appointment took ALL FRICKIN' MORNING!  There was some kind of communication snafu between the medical assistant-in-training and our doctor, and we sat in the exam room for an hour before I was like, "Give my kid some medical attention, yo!".

I know.  I should have spoken up sooner.  But our doctor's office has really good magazines and Cartoon Network, so Nature Boy and I were distracted.

By the time we were done picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, it was nigh on 2 o'clock.  Too late in the day to leave for Illinois.

Plus, Shrinky Dink had discovered that her driver's license was expired and she couldn't find her birth certificate to get it renewed.


So we had to postpone the trip another day.  Amazingly, there were no flat tires or acts of God on the way to Illinois.  And other than being one space heater and a can opener short, there were no major traumas during the trip.

Still, it's good to be home.