Thursday, May 31, 2007

Heard on the radio: Kids and smoking

This morning I was listening to NPR and a report on teens and smoking. Smoking is on the rise among young people, after declining for many years. I don't remember everything that was said, but this really stuck in my mind: one of the major reasons teens (or even pre-teens) start smoking is seeing characters in movies smoking.

Yeah, that's right: seeing actors playing fictional characters who are smoking makes kids decide to smoke.

So often when I read articles about public education I see the words "critical thinking." This is often paired with an appeal for more money so that teachers can be hired to teach critical thinking. And yet, kids in large numbers start smoking because a fictional character on a screen smokes.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Some start because the "good guy" in the movie is cool and they want to be like him. Others smoke because the villain does, and they want to be like him! I suppose the girls start because the woman is beautiful. (Of course they don't understand that if the actress smoked in real life, she wouldn't be so beautiful.)

But I have an idea for a new law! Along with more money for public education, everyone likes new laws! How about this: every actor that smokes in a film should be require to record a PSA to be shown before the movie. They should talk about how in real life they don't smoke because doing so would make them too sick and too ugly to be movie stars.

And then they should show films of real people suffering from the effects of smoking. That's another thing I got out of the news piece. Kids won't avoid smoking because their parents tell them not to smoke, but they will respond to information about the bad effects of smoking on their bodies. At least, so says a 19-year-old smoker. Who has seen such information. But still smokes and has no intention of quitting, because smoking tastes and feels good.

What an ignorant, stupid generation we are raising. So much for critical thinking.

And yes, I was being sarcastic about the new law.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Was your customer service satisfactory?

This morning I had to call my health insurance company to find out if something is covered. The representative answered my question quickly and easily, and gave me the answer I wanted. Then she asked, "Was your customer service satisfactory?" Customer service? She just answered a question! I couldn't help laughing and said "Yes, as long as you told me the truth!" She didn't think it was funny, but earnestly assured me she had indeed told me the truth.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Planks in my eye

I tell my kids not to strew the newspaper all over the living room floor, then trip on the newspaper I've strewn all over the kitchen floor.

I sigh, exasperated with my child for forgetting to take his allergy meds, then realize I have heartburn because I haven't taken my meds in a few days.

I rail at my kids to stop stacking books and papers on the kitchen chairs, then notice my own stack on the chair next to me.

I admonish them for not putting things away in their proper places, and wonder how our family motto came to be "it's around" as I spend 15 minutes looking for the tape dispenser that I left "somewhere."

As I look at the pile of laundry on top of my unmade bed, waiting to be folded, I wonder how my children came to be such slobs.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

May 2x, 1993

Today I realized that it is approximately the 14th anniversary of the night my husband and I met. We met in a combination of the supposedly two worst ways people can meet and have a successful relationship: in a bar, as a result of the internet. Hahaha, showed them! It doesn't seem like all that long ago but it feels like a lot has happened to us in those years - a marriage, 2 kids, an interstate move, and of course the big thing: our decision for him to go to seminary, which entails him becoming unemployed and moving us all across the country for 3 or 4 years.

I am quite sure that other families have had more and bigger things happen in 14 years. But since the 14 years of my life prior to meeting him had been so uneventful, this seems like a whirlwind!

Oh, and our moving date is set (tentatively? maybe, but pretty sure) for July 9, our 12th wedding anniversary. Could there be a more appropriate day?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A study I would like to see

Yesterday we spent some time in a park with some other homeschoolers. The kids spent all their time running, walking, climbing... being very active. Not one of the kids is overweight. I thought about other homeschoolers I know. No overweight kids. My own J is not real slim, but he's muscular and big and solid, not fat. Occasionally I'll notice him getting a little "fluffy" around the middle - and I'll realize that I've been a little too free with the desserts, or he hasn't been active lately. So I cut back on dessert and send him outside to work or play, and the fluff disappears. (If only my fluff would go away so easily.)

Of course we see headlines periodically about the obesity epidemic among kids. As I watched our slender, active children, I wondered if someone would ever do a study on obesity rates of homeschooled vs. schooled children. Maybe even break it down between public and private-schooled kids.

At my church, kids are mostly homeschooled or go to Christian school; a small percentage go to public school. I can't think of an overweight kid at church. Not saying that there is a link between weight and religious affiliation, or that there are no overweight Christians. I am a Christian, and I am overweight. But still - you'd think there'd be some overweight kids in that group.

I'm just relating my experience and observations; this is all anecdotal evidence. Don't tell me I'm wrong!

Today these stats graced the front page of our local paper:

25% of Oregon 8th graders are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

11% of Oregon 11th graders are overweight, a 63% increase from 2001 to 2005.

Nationwide, 16% of children ages 12-19 are overweight, three times the rate of 1985.

Schoolkids don't have time to run and play the way homeschooled kids do - at least, the homeschooled kids I know. Even at home, when we're in between schoolish activities, my kids will just get up and jump around the living room. My little E will finish a math lesson and go do some somersaults. I don't guess that's OK to do in a classroom full of kids. Schools cancel recess. Some that have recess don't allow active games like tag. Some schoolteachers take kids on "power walks." (don't remember where I saw that.)

None of the kids in our park group brought handheld electronic games with them. I think some of the kids have games like this. Mine does. But we don't think to bring it to the park. When my J was in Little League, I used to see kids on the playground, sitting around playing electronic games. They were almost always overweight.

Maybe if instead of chatting with the moms while my kids run around the park, I'd run around with them, maybe I wouldn't be overweight. Whadya think?

Anyway, I think that'd be an interesting study. No one will ever do it, but it's worth thinking about.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Stealing a great blog post

Since I don't have time to write my own thoughtful and interesting posts (or the ability, one might add), I'll steal one from The Common Room:

Underwear Jokes and Homeschooling

All I could think of to say after reading it was "Amen and amen!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Great article about a great football coach

I'm not a college football fan but this news teaser grabbed me:

Taking out the trash

Joe Paterno, who is still coaching at 80, will have his team picking up trash after home games.

I think I had maybe heard some vague thing about a bunch of college ball players getting involved in a fight. The coach's punishment is fantastic and should be a model for all coaches with misbehaving players. In this age of indulging and coddling star athletes, though, I doubt it will be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Homeschooling while moving

We are moving in 7 weeks. Actually, 48 days from today. But who's counting?

Homeschooling while packing and getting ready to move is challenging. I won't say impossible, because deep down I am an unschooler and I know that my kids learn a lot whether they are sitting down for "lessons" or not. But my kids are young enough that they still need to learn the basics; they can't unschool their math facts or punctuation or grammar. And so much of our homeschooling depends on me as the main reader. These are the rare times I wish I could just flag down the schoolbus and send them off for the day. Not because they hinder me in my work, but because they are not getting any real schooling.

But they can read on their own now too. E has read a lot of "girl books" (the American Girl "Felicity" series, among others) to go along with our history time period. J has read a few (GIC version of Last of the Mohicans, some others), but he's a restless reader unless it's something "science-y" and prefers to do something, even if that means messing around on the computer. And, sometimes he's just lazy. (Well, so am I.) The upheaval doesn't help either. They don't want to move, and they are afraid.

We're also supposed to be working on a project for our homeschool group's student showcase. It's going to be about Pennsylvania, since that's where we are moving. But no one really feels like working on it, and it takes up a lot of my time to direct them. So I think "tomorrow we'll get to it" but then tomorrow is here and I have a new moving-related task.

I've been wanting to have them do some book reports, but have failed to get on that. Book reports are a great way to produce some work. Read a book, report on it. Easier said than done with reluctant writers, of course. I haven't found a book report form that I like. There are lots of forms on the 'net but all are flawed in my opinion. So I need to make up my own. Writing a book report serves many "language arts" purposes: handwriting, grammar, punctuation, creative writing. When I was a kid, this was called "English." What was wrong with that?

So you see I have lots of excuses - I mean, good reasons - why I'm not getting any homeschooling done. It's just easier to send them outside.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why do I keep this blog?

This is a very boring blog. I didn't have a clear reason or goal for my blogging when I started. Blogging just seemed like a cool, fun thing to do. After a while here, I decided to move to, because I liked the idea of a community of like-minded bloggers. But I kept this blog and it turned into a homeschool record-keeping place.

Well, I don't really keep records anymore. We are in the process of moving and we're barely homeschooling. I'm not going to take the time to blog about the Bible chapter we read, the math page we completed, and the copywork we did. I do keep track of the books we read here.

And I use my blogger/google login as a way to comment on blogs here.

Maybe at some point this will become a real blog again. But if you came here via a search, or because you read a comment I posted on another blog, come see me at homeschoolblogger. I'm still blogging there, and you can get there via the link on my sidebar. I post there more often - though less and less as we are involved in the task of preparing to move.

Otherwise, look at our book list and leave me some recommendations!