Time4Learning Supplement or Core Curriculum? I’m currently debating this. We use Time4Learning as a supplement right now, but T.B.M. enjoy it greatly. In fact it’s one of their favorite resources out of everything we use. The Spouse doesn’t think that there is enough in the program to make it our core; I can see where he is coming from. I think it has potential though, with good supplements it could probably be our core curriculum. For any of you parents who use Time4Learning do you use it as a core or a supplement?

Also grab your yarmulkes!

I’m so looking forward to our annual feast!

Latkes, Sufganiya, and Challah OH MY!!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

This past weekend we enjoyed some holiday music; I introduced T.B.M. to The Chipmunk Christmas album, and assembled our Christmas tree! T.B.M. had a blast with it this year, the older they get the more they enjoy our traditions (like picking out a new ornament each year) and decorating our tree. While putting our ornaments on the tree General Disarray noticed some tassels in the bag. When I graduated high school I received an additional set of cap tassels. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the tassels and one Christmas decided to just toss them on our tree. Since then, each year, I toss them on the tree. This year General Disarray got a hold of them before I could and he was perplexed by them.

He inquired about them and I told him they go on a graduation cap and I received those when I finished high school. He seemed ok with that answer, commented that it wasn’t an ornament, and tossed it back in the bag. He grabbed a “real” ornament and came over to the side of the tree where I was hanging stuff and quietly asked “Will I graduate high school”. I told him that I had planned on him graduating from our homeschool. He said “Ok” and then paused, thought about what I had said, and then said: “You didn’t work with your parents?...You didn’t do school at home?” I told him that I wasn’t homeschooled, I had to attend public school (he had assumed that my high school was a homeschool). After telling him that he placed the ornament on the tree, looked at me and said “I’m sorry you weren’t homeschooled mom”.

As he walked away to grab another ornament I couldn’t help but smile a little. I often worry if I’m ruining their lives. There are enough negative voices out there to plague any homeschooling parent with plenty of doubt in their choice-a choice many of us have thought long and hard about-. Then in one brief moment my son assured me that yes, we have made the right choice. He felt sorry for me, sorry I couldn’t spend the day getting to know my parents, I couldn’t enjoy my sibling the way he does. I couldn’t enjoy my dad’s weekdays off or days when his work schedule allowed him to actually be home (and awake) during the day. The very things I use to explain why we homeschool to other people my own children see as positives, and in that one moment General Disarray taught me that his and his brother’s opinions were the only ones that should matter.

They are happy at home. And it’s about time I stopped worrying about what they may be missing and enjoy what we aren’t missing, time with each other.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I've been so busy with holiday prep and now General Disarray's birthday that this poor blog has been neglected. So here, have some holiday cheer! See I still love you too!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I do most of my cooking at home, which requires a large amount of recipes to keep things from getting boring. While I have a rather large, and constantly increasing, collection of cookbooks I don’t use all the recipes in them. I have a select few from each that I frequent, as well as recipes I’ve found online, which makes for a LOT of recipes. The ones from online I usually write down or print to use later, and the ones from the cookbooks just get looked at when I need them-which means I have to remember revisions for each one or write them in the book (something I don’t always want to do because I may need to get rid of the book one day)-.

Having a cookbook out isn’t always practical depending on the amount of counter space I have at the moment or the amount of mess I’m making. The paper copies are too flimsy to stand on their own as well as the paperback books and the hardcover books are just too darn bulky. I’m sure many of you understand exactly what I’m saying. Sometimes just getting the recipe in a place where you can properly read it can be a major pain in the butt and hinder your cooking.

I’ve been thinking for a while that I need a better, more organized way of handling my recipes, but what? I wasn’t sure until I was clicking around on Shutterfly the other evening. There in the photo books section were two very cool books you can make, and they were recipe books! One is just the simple book with recipes and pictures, the other is a more glamorous version (which is what I intend to go for, because I want what I’m reading in the kitchen to put me in the mood to cook up something good!).
Not sure how I’ll do up my recipe book(s), I’m leaning towards combining it with my meal planning so each book would feature a month’s worth of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks(at least two of those a day)). I can do up at least two to four books (yes I have that many recipes!) and alternate between the weeks in each one so I have some variety for us each month. It’s something to mull over while I pull together all the recipes I have.

I’ll share a peek at the final product when I get it. How do you keep all your recipes organized?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

And this is why we call him Professor Chaos.

I think it might be time for mommy to go back to only using the computer in the evenings once the little ones have gone off to bed. Unless I want to spend some more time getting glitter out of well…everywhere!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

A Friday Flashback to get you ready for Trick-or-Treating! Have fun and be safe this weekend!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

According to our schedule we are in the fourth week of our second quarter, I divide the year up into four quarters schooling year round with short breaks throughout the year. Ideally, I would evaluate after each quarter, but I couldn’t with all of our traveling. Now, though, is the perfect time for a reevaluation and revamp!

So far our Math and Language Arts lessons are moving along fairly well, General Disarray usually sits down to do those subjects on his own and we go over anything that may be new or cause him problems. Generally, though, he can read and learn on his own. Professor Chaos has done pretty well with his Teach A Child To Read lessons, though they are very repetitive to the point that they bore him, so we have changed up the lessons to fit our needs.

While Math and Language Arts are doing well, we still have History and Science to contend with, and that is where a lot of the revamping is taking place. We are lacking a level of structure in History and Science, we do a lot of reading, but I want to bring all of that full circle with other activities to ensure the knowledge is retained. To help with this I’m utilizing Lesson Pathways, Spectrum Science workbooks that I found while stateside, a larger reading list, and Story of the World on audio disc. I, personally, had no desire to purchase the Story of the World books, but I found the audio for book two at our library and the kids really enjoy it. It will play during our hands on activities, after I’ve given directions, to help reiterate what we have been doing.

These few add-ons should help make the learning experience more enjoyable. I want to lean heavily on hands-on activities while T.B.M. are young, since that will not only allow for them to learn the material, but to have tons of fun while doing it. I have also changed our schedule so Science lessons on Thursdays are strictly for experiments. Instead of moving on to another lesson, we will focus on experiments and activities that further support the lesson(s) learned on Tuesday.

Other than that change, our schedule will stay the same. We are easing back into our routine and should be back to “normal” by mid-November. We will only be taking the weekend of Thanksgiving off, November 24th-27th, and then working until the week before Christmas.

Oh my goodness, it’s almost Christmas time already! I swear the older these kids get the faster the year seems to go.

With the end of the year quickly approaching, what changes, if any, have you made to your homeschooling curriculum/schedule?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

The other night The Spouse and I were clicking around Youtube when we came across the video below by Jefferson Lab. About twenty minutes into checking out their channel I had marked them on our favorites and we were wondering about all the other cool things we could do with liquid nitrogen. Their videos don’t just focus on liquid nitrogen, although those are hands down probably the coolest ones, they also have videos on thunder & lighting, lunar eclipses, and butterflies! Jefferson Lab puts together short,informative, and most importantly FUN videos that would be a great addition to any science lesson(we’ve added them to our list of favorite science videos on Youtube!).

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Well I have to get back into blogging mode! So to help get me going I'll start with a fun Friday Flashback!

I think I'll even watch some Back 2 the Future while I work through some blogging ideas. Forgive me if I get lost in Michael J. Fox's dreamy eyes though...the 80's were soooo good! Don't you agree?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Our first issue of Bright Parenting Magazine is online! WOOHOO! It's an amazing feeling to see something you have poured your heart into actually come to life! Check it out below!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

We are still chugging along in our vegetarian/vegan eating. Over the past few months I’ve collected a number of vegan cookbooks and also had the pleasure of dinner with some dear friends at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant while we were stateside. It was YUMMY and gave me hope that with time I too could produce food that taste way better than any meat-filled meal I’ve ever made.

This evening while looking at the list of recipes I put on the menu for this week I realized I didn’t feel like making them…I wanted something else more “comfort” foodie. I just wasn’t sure what to make, then I remembered those yummy Salisbury Steaks that you get in your frozen food aisle that requires no real work to get from freeze to table. Since I don’t have access to vegan oven ready Salisbury Steaks I decided to try my hand at making my own, but what to use…I figured black beans would be good. So I flipped through Veganomicon located their Black Bean Burger recipe and tweaked it a bit.

The following is my steak patty recipe:
1 can of black beans *drained and rinsed*
½ cup power flour *my personal take on power flour in which I use Whole Wheat Flour, Quinoa Flour, Buckwheat Flour, and Organic All-Purpose Flour*
½ cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon McCormick Grill Mates Hamburger seasoning
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 ½-2 tablespoons bar-b-q sauce *I’ll try steak sauce next time to see if it gives it a more meaty flavor*
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 6 tablespoons water *my go to egg replacer*
¼ cup water

Mash the beans so that all the beans are broken up *no whole beans left*

Mix together the 2 tablespoons flaxseed with the 6 tablespoons water and set aside

Add all the ingredients including the flaxseed mixture to the mashed black beans, stir together

Once through mixed form into balls, pressing them flat with the palm of your hand, set aside patties

In a skillet heat up some oil (I used extra light olive oil),once hot add in the patties (about 3 at a time depending on the size of your skillet and the size of the patties)

These cook relatively fast so keep an eye on the skillet they should cook about 3-4 minutes on each side, you can cook them a bit longer if you want crispier steaks

While they are cooking chop up one white onion, about ten small mushrooms (or two large Portobello mushrooms) you can use canned mushrooms if you’d like , and two cloves of garlic (I press the cloves with a knife before mincing them)

One all the steaks are finished place them on a lined plate to drain off any excess oil and add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic to the leftover hot oil, sauté on low/medium heat

While the skillet is going prep in a small pot about a 1/4 cup of vegetable broth with garlic and onion powder, you can add a bit cornstarch to thicken the broth a bit.

Once the onions mixture in the skillet is ready turn off the heat, add the patties back to the skillet and pour the broth over the patties, cover the skillet and prep the rest of your meal.

I served ours with garlic and parsley potatoes, organic corn, and mushroom gravy (just regular jar gravy I had, still in search of a yummy gravy recipe so if you have one please share!)

The meal came out great! The Spouse who is very much a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy actually got seconds!! He usually grumbles when I’m prepping our non-meat meals, but while I was cooking he walked into our kitchen area and said “hmmm…what you cooking it smells GOOD!”. So if you are trying to win over a meat-lover I highly recommend this recipe!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I could make this a long drawn out post about the benefits of homeschooling when it comes to traveling, especially traveling that involves flexibility. I won’t though, because I would be preaching to the choir on that one. I could compare and contrast the stress and frustrations of traveling with children to the stress and frustrations experienced in homeschooling, because let’s be honest it isn’t always easy. Frankly though I don’t want to do that either.

Instead, I think I shall tell what I’ve learned. Yes, I learned. Schooling didn’t always take place when I wanted, yes we are technically behind, but in homeschooling can you really ever say you are behind? That is one thing I’ve learned and will continue to expand on. The thought that we are never behind if we are continuing to move forward. Some of our best schooling took place when we didn’t crack open a book. Now, am I suddenly a non-book user who relies solely on field trips or other experiences to teach? No. I don’t have it in my controlling nature to not plan out our schooling to some degree, but learning happens every day, everywhere. When life plops you down somewhere unexpected or even somewhere you expected to be, you should seize that moment because you never know what it may teach you.

On our travels we have explored a list of amazing places that I plan to share once I’m completely settled, they all offer something unique and we would have never had an opportunity to take in these sights and sounds if we didn’t strive to seize the day.
Seizing the day…the only real way to sum up traveling with homeschoolers in my humble opinion, but you don’t need to be traveling to do this.
Live, Explore, Do! Life is too short not to. This is a lesson I am happy to learn while I'm still young enough to put it to use.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

To Karen and Lydia can you ladies please contact me at that way I can pass your contact information onto the organization hosting the blogging course, thank you ladies.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

My poor blog. I know you are eager to share all we have been doing. The time will come. For now we are enjoying the sights, sounds, and free wifi of the local library. Got to love the public library system!

And because I haven't forgot about Friday:

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Out of 7 comments numbers 6 and 2 were chosen by Random.Org! Congrats to Karen and Lydia! I will be contacting you shortly with all the needed information! Once again congrats!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Here is a peek into what we have been up to:

I promise I have blog goodness on its way! :)

And yes I missed the blog giveaway deadline AGAIN! No worries tomorrow morning a winner will be announced! So if you want a chance to win now is your last chance to win the free blog course!!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Due to all our traveling I’ve decided to extend the blog giveaway by a week. The new deadline for entries will be September 4th at 11:59pm EST and the winners will be announced September 5th at 8am EST. So get those entries in!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Passenger Costumer Service Rep: “Ma’am how much do you weigh?”

Me: “Excuse Me...”

PCSR:How much do you weigh? We need everyone’s weight plus weight of all the carry on luggage.”

Me: “…Ummm…180?…Maybe?”

I don’t believe in a lot of things scales are one of those things. I’m pretty sure that question should be illegal.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

First leg of our can really sleep anywhere.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

My kids fight. I’m sure all siblings do, I know my brother and I did as well as The Spouse and his brother. Just because they fight *I don’t mean physical knock-down drag out fights, I mean verbal whining fights*, doesn’t mean I want to always referee even when they come to me with the issue. I prefer they figure these things out for themselves or at least argue where I don’t have to hear it. This morning they decided they wanted to have a row –from what I could make out General Disarray was annoying Professor Chaos, so Professor Chaos started pushing General Disarray towards his own toys and away from the area where Professor Chaos was-, when that didn’t work they decided to come find me! I was busy in my room making some list for our trip and upon hearing the “MOM” screams growing closer I laid my head down hoping they would think I was sleeping and run off to work it out.

I had no such luck; instead they remained shouting my name over my fake snores. Realizing I wasn’t getting out of referee duty today I rolled over to them both explaining the situation. Each expecting me to take their side, sometimes I will listen to both sides and make a judgment…today though I decided to be lazy. Yup, I was a lazy referee…I had no need for an instant replay instead I did the following:

Me: “Face each other…drop your toys…move closer to one another”General Disarray: “We can’t get any closer!”Me: “Good now both of you put your arms around your brother” *arms slowly extend and wrap around each other*…”Now stay that way”…

I then went back to what I was doing. They stayed that way for about a minute or so before they started to get upset with me. I asked if I was being annoying for having them stand that way, they said yes, I asked if they liked being annoyed… they said no. Then I gave them a choice, either make-up, work out their differences, and play nicely or remain standing locked together.

They are currently playing…they choose to work it out and all I had to do is give them a common annoyance. Possibly not the most effective form of parenting, but it got the job done this morning.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I saw this at Indie Education and it's nice, but I disagree on the curriculum part. If need be I can find someone to teach my kids what I don't know and I can ensure that it is taught in a way that my children will actually LEARN it. Which is what is most important to us *aside from all the other wonderful benefits*.

Via: Online College Source

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Even in the middle of packing I am still making time for Friday Flashback, because well…I need some packing music!! Don’t forget to check out the giveaway! And stay tuned for our adventure posts…the first post coming soon…once I finish getting everything into these bags!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Things have been quieter than usual on this blog because T.B.M. and I are in the middle of planning an adventure. Ok I’m doing all the planning and they are blissfully unaware of everything about to take place other than we are going on an adventure. I’m hoping to blog through most of it, I’m not sure where all it will take us, but I intend to make the most of it and enjoy every hectic second. Life is far too short to not enjoy it.

And don't forget about our blog giveaway! Check it out HERE!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

This is the second giveaway in our Giveaway Series! Giveaway #2 is being brought to you by Kerry Jones @! Domo Arigato Kerry! So what can you win this giveaway? Why a free blogging course, and guess what we won’t have just one winner this giveaway. Nope, this giveaway we will chose TWO winners. That’s right TWO winners! *And the crowd goes wild!!* Would you all like some details on this awesome blog course you can win? Alright, here you go:

Blogging 101 is a fully-automated, comprehensive course will guide you through all the basics of creating and establishing your new blog. The units covered in the Blogging 101 curriculum include:

1. Introduction to Blogging (all the basics for the beginning blogger

2. Laying Your Cards On The Table (blog titles, platforms, and start-up instructions)

3. It’s All About Me (blogging safety, “About Me” pages, and blog design)

4. Build That Content and Make It Snazzy (writing quality posts, commenting, and adding media)

5. It’s The Little Things That Count (sidebars, widgets, categories, and static pages)

6. Mi Blog es Su Blog – - Building Community (growing a readership, blog promotion, and blogrolls)

7. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained (more blog promotion strategies and monetizing your blog)

8. Looking Back and Looking Forward (tips and strategies for continuing to grow your blog after the course)

When you have completed the Blogging 101 course, you will have not only learned the basics of blogging, but you will have your VERY OWN BLOG, several quality posts, and very possibly a growing following of readers!

Sounds like an awesome prize right? You’re probably how do you go about getting your name in on this giveaway. It’s simple for each of the following things you do you get an entry!

 Leave a comment telling us your favorite blog topic
 Follow this blog
 Follow us on twitter
 Follow us on Facebook
 Subscribe to the BlogWritingCourse Newsletter
 Follow Time4Learning on FB
 Share this giveaway on FB, Twitter, and your own blog
*each time you share you get an entry!*

If you are already a follower then all you need to do is comment stating where you follow us *or Time4Learning*. Remember each action earns its very own comment allowing you more chances to win!

Comments on this post will close at 11:59pm EST on Friday August 26, 2011. Two winners will be chosen using and announced at 8am EST on Monday August 29, 2011!

Good Luck Everyone!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Grab your hairbrushes and keep your bedhead because it's time for another Friday Flashback! Enjoy!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Ah Typhoon Muifa. If you are living in the states you probably haven’t heard about it, but this typhoon is set to invade our little island sometime tomorrow. I figured I should find some music to sing along to while I prep, and then I remembered the perfect song that completely conveys my feelings on the whole situation. Enjoy!

And remember folks every prep kit should have a first aid kit, bottled water, snacks, and condoms!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I think I will make this a regular thing because I love putting on music from my childhood and dancing around the living room while T.B.M. look on in sheer horror. Yes I became that parent and I don’t care. I know you all know the lyrics so grab your hairbrushes, crank up the volume on your computers, and embarrass your children right along with me! *If we are lucky they may just join in with us!*

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

We have entered our third week of schooling and things are chugging along fairly well. Last week was rather rough with some resistance. Our first week went well, but our second week there was the longing for non-productive days spent playing video games and watching movies. After a few discussions on why we do our schooling, the importance of doing our best, and the rewards that come from completing our work *for instance getting to enjoy video games and movies*, T.B.M agreed to try their best every day.

So on Tuesday we started in on our work, catching up on the assignments we fell behind on while they were on “strike” last week. While they were hard at work General Disarray stated that he would just do his work when it was assigned instead of complaining, because one page of work is far more enjoyable than three, since he would still have to finish his work at some point in time.

I think it was a great lesson for them to learn, that we can either tackle our work when we need to or we can put it off increasing our work load and decreasing the fun. It was also a great reminder for myself, there are plenty of times I put things off until the following day, when I could easily conquer those things in the moment.

Aside from our little epiphany I have also decided to add more literature to our curriculum. My goal is to have General Disarray read at least one chapter book a week and Professor Chaos to “read” at least five books during the school week. We will start using the program Book Adventure which is similar to the Accelerated Reader program offered in many public schools. I wanted General Disarray and eventually Professor Chaos to answer questions about their readings to build up their comprehension skills, but I honestly didn’t want to have to sit down with every single book they will read and write these up myself.

The program is free and features a rather extensive book list, which will give the boys plenty of reading choices and ensure they can always find something they might enjoy reading.

Along with the Book Adventure program I’m also adding additional reading to our science studies. We still have our core materials, but I found a book series called Giants of Science at our local library and figured they would be a great addition to our science program.

Also to our history curriculum I’ve decided to add The Story of the World audiobook as a supplement. I found it at the library as well and figured it would be a nice little addition. We’ll play it during our hands-on activities since we use the workbook for this series anyways; I figured listening to it while we do the work wouldn’t hurt. If I don’t like it I can always take it right back to the library, libraries are wonderful! We also read The Magic Tree House series and use the research guides as well when a book ties into our history lessons.

We have loads in store this school year and so far, despite a few hiccups, I think we are doing fairly well. Homeschooling isn’t just a learning experience for the boys, it’s a learning experience for me as well.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

They asked us to blow this up for them…after spending a while jumping they grabbed their Tag reading books and sat down to listen to stories. They stayed like that until dinner time.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

A vast number of parents with preschoolers are familiar with; it’s a wonderful free site that helps teach the all-important skill of reading. General Disarray loved using the site, and will still check it out every now and then even though he has mastered reading; it’s just that much fun. Professor Chaos has started to enjoy using it more lately. At first he wasn’t really sure about it, mostly from a navigation/mouse clicking standpoint. Now that he has all of that worked out he is always begging to log-on.

This morning while he was using it he clicked on the section. It only allows a limited selection of items if you don’t have a membership, but he greatly enjoyed what he was able to do, so I looked into the cost. It is 30$ a year, not a bad price I figured when you factor in all it allows you to do. features interactive number lessons, similar to the alphabet section on the free portion of their site, as well as fun math songs. Once a child has mastered their numbers they can then click on the addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division buttons and do lessons in those areas.

Aside from the math activities this portion of the site also features more reading/phonics activities, songs and rhyming, as well as a talking library! Which I think may be my favorite part of the site. The portion of also works hand in hand with the Starfall Kindergarten Curriculum too. I had considered buying that curriculum this year but decided to make a custom curriculum for Professor Chaos like I did with General Disarray. It looks like a great program though, if you are looking for an interactive kindergarten curriculum check it out! is not compensating me for sharing their product information; I just like to plug the things we use to help other families find useful materials and programs to use with their kiddos!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

We are chugging along on our vegan journey, I’m more gung-ho about the process than The Spouse is, but he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy so his resistance was to be expected. I have decided though that the best way to win them over to a much healthier way of eating is to cook delicious foods. So yesterday afternoon I decided to throw a bunch of things together and see what I ended up with.

First I took some Age Tofu also known as Fried Tofu, and chopped it into slices. I then placed the slices in a mixture of whole-wheat flour and cinnamon, and coated all sides of the tofu pieces. From the flour-cinnamon mixture they went into a skillet of hot Safflower oil. I fried them on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Once they were done I moved them to a paper towel lined plate for them to drain. I patted the top a bit to help get off the excess oil, then moved them to another plate and sprinkled on some powdered sugar. We used pure Canadian maple syrup for dipping.

They call it The Yummiest Mommy French Toast:

Professor Chaos didn’t want to share, which was shocking *and very refreshing* given his general attitude towards food.
Happy syrup covered fingers.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

*The following was all a result of an initial question, which was “How did people get here?”*

General Disarray: “Mom how do babies get out of a woman’s belly?”

Me: “Through her vagina” *I’m a stickler for facts and honesty with T.B.M. even at 7am*

General Disarray insists that things make perfect sense…this answer did not.
Instead of accepting my answer he looks down at my pants, then back up at me and remarks: “Well that just doesn’t make any sense! Your vagina is too small for a baby to fit through!” Even at 7am the humor of that observation still shined through.

After I composed myself I guided him through the process of childbirth in a manner fitting his age and my own personal comfort level; because honestly I don’t want to talk about vaginas, birth canals, and the fact that us moms push something roughly the size of a watermelon through a hole roughly the size of a softball at 7 in the morning.

Once I had finished ensuring he knew more about the reproductive process then the next crop of “16 and Pregnant” hopefuls, he stated that two kids were enough for our family because and I quote “I don’t want you to have to go through that again mom”. I high-fived him and then proceed to lie back down on the couch.

As much as I would like to institute a “No Complex Questions Before 9am” rule in our home, I have to smile because, General Disarray was able to learn something he genuinely wanted to know and I got to ensure he won’t make me a grandmother before I’m 45…possibly 50.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

It’s time for another installment of Bound Goodness! You would think with my book addiction *yes it is an addiction, four bookshelves and one storage cabinet (which is about the size of a coat closet in the states) full of books provides the proof*, I would post Bound Goodness more often. I’ll blame the insanity of the past couple of months on my lack of book collecting. With things finally settling down, our new school year approaching, and the summer heat keeping us inside I’m pretty sure I’ll have many more books to share.

So what’s on the agenda this post? Judaism, Atheism, and Veganism, Oh My!

*(denotes book is currently on its way to my mailbox)


The Jewish Bible: Tanakh The Holy Scriptures

*The Torah for Children: Sefer Bereishis, Volume 1: Bereishis, Noach, Lech Lecha, Vayera

*The Illustrated Torah


Atheist Manifesto

The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods


*The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet

*Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for People in the Real World

*The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion

*Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

*The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids

*The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes

So what bound goodness has found its way to your bookshelves?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

One of the many draws to homeschooling for us is that it will allow T.B.M. to chase their dreams, no matter how big or small. The best way to encourage them to chase their dreams is to of course chase our own. We have many dreams, The Spouse and I, some will take until we are near retirement to reach and others will only take one well-planned family vacation. One of my personal dreams was to start a magazine for non-theist parents. I’ve toyed with the idea for the past couple of years, after I learned that one particular magazine, that has been in my home since before General Disarray was born, refused to review Parenting Beyond Belief.

I was disgusted that they would gladly take our heathen money, but wouldn’t mention a book that has been immensely helpful to our family. This book has been creased, highlighted, and toted everywhere. I love that book more than words could ever express and I figured any magazine that wouldn’t share it with the world didn’t deserve one red cent from me anymore. While I still flip through it when it arrives every month, my subscription hasn’t run out yet, I have found it and many other parenting magazines don’t meet our needs. Yes, the general advice on development is helpful, but I have taken courses on child development and still have the textbooks, so it isn’t that helpful. Most of the articles are written by believers whose view of the world and how to get through its tough spots are not the same as our secular family’s view.

After flipping through yet another article filled with advice that wouldn’t work in a free-thought home, I finally had, had enough. I sat down at my computer and began brainstorming, searching, and came to the conclusion that now was the time to make the idea bouncing around in my head for the past two years a reality. In that moment Bright Parenting Magazine was born. It is still an infant, requiring a lot of TLC, but considering how even The Spouse is on board and interested I think this can take off. I want secular parents to have a publication that actually speaks to us, a publication that addresses our fears, frustrations, and offers sound secular advice.
Ambitious? Yes. But to quote John Lennon “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality”. So, if you are interested in dreaming with our dysfunctional family, check out Bright Parenting Magazine (HERE) and (HERE).
Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Well ladies and gentlemen our new school year is just around the corner! We are all very excited over here about it. We take the year-round approach because it fits our family best. It allows for breaks to be planned around The Spouse’s schedule and doesn’t produce large gaps in our schooling. I’ve found these large gaps make returning to our regular schedule very difficult. Our longest break is a month; which is when we plan family vacations. Since we school year-round with our start date in the summer, our family vacations can take place during the off-season, which saves us money and keeps us from encountering massive crowds.

In order to help us transition into our new school year this year I decided to start having homeschool powwow right before the start of each new school year. It will give us a chance to go over what materials we will be using, our goals for that school year, and to discuss any changes that have been made either organizational or schedule wise. This should help with the frequent questions I have been encountering from T.B.M. ranging from “Will I be in Kindergarten this year?” to “Am I going to be doing division?!”

On tap for this year’s powwow will be a run through of our 2011-2012 Curriculum for General Disarray and Professor Chaos; as well as a run through of our school schedule for this upcoming year, and our planned breaks. I’m looking forward to sitting down with them and allowing them to finally flip through the various textbooks and materials I’ve been gathering over the past six months. Hopefully it will further stoke the flames of excitement they have burning for our 2011-2012 school year!

So how do you transition into a new school year?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

This is an issue very near and dear to this homeschooler’s heart. Hopefully every state will allow it before TBM reach adulthood. I have my fingers crossed and my eyes on the candidates who can make it happen!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Professor Chaos celebrated another birthday this week. Oh how time flies. Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I seem to always have something in the works. From our school planning to family vacations there is always a plan being hatched. The current plan I’m mulling over in my mind is our garden. This is the space we have for it:

I know…that’s a lot of space *somewhere around 1300sqft*. Since its grass-less I’ll be relying heavily on container gardening, as well as decorative plants in the flowerbeds on the first floor of our property. While these pre-existing beds *which I will showcase later* would be great places for herbs; the previous owners had a dog which defecated in most of these flowerbeds *eww...doesn’t begin to describe it*. I refuse to plant anything that we would use for food in an area where someone’s animal eliminated. Once I have tackled the fecal issue in these beds *through layered burying of the substance in question using mulch and dirt*, I’ll tackle the issue of planting while keeping The Spouse’s bee allergy in mind.

To help with the planning of the actual garden I’m using Mother Earth News’ Garden Planner. It’s free for the first 30 days and then after that it’s 25$ a year *not a bad deal if you manage to produce most, if not, all the fruits and vegetables your family needs in one year!*. It appears fairly easy to use; I’m just getting started so as I move through the planning/planting process I will share more on it.

It gives you the option to set frost dates for your region *not an issue where we currently live*, and then you plug in the measurements for you planting area, at which point it produces a space for you to work with. From there you add in the various shapes of the beds/plots/containers you plan to use, as well as walkways, fountains/ponds (using their drawing/shape features), and just about anything else you could think of needing in your garden. After you have all that squared away you add in what you plan to plant. It gives you the option of crop rotating and planning ahead for the following year. You can also receive emails about frost dates and planting days.

This planner pretty much makes planting a breeze for a busy family like ours. I just plug in and go. If only it did all the planting and maintaining for me!

How is your garden planning going?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Menu planning was a foreign concept to me until about five years ago, when I actually sat down and thought out what we would have for dinner over the course of a given month. I didn’t venture into any real details, and usually got off track towards the middle of the month. Then things got extremely hectic in our home and menu planning or any sort of planning, outside of the commitments that The Spouse and I had, didn’t exist. Once we boarded the plane for here though, The Spouse and I became determined that our lives would claim down as much as the military would allow them to.

So I set out scheduling, planning, and looking into various ways to tackle our family life. For a family of just four people we stay rather busy, between karate, piano, time with friends, schooling, my own personal endeavors, and The Spouse’s obvious work commitment, we manage to fill a month up before it even hits. Once I managed to work out a sleep schedule that at least TBM could adhere to, I had to work out something to ensure we were eating home cooked meals and not a metric ton of take-out food.

So I tried a few different things, like pre-planned weekly menus from various online sources or magazines. Those didn’t pan out since they didn’t always have things we liked or items we couldn’t get our hands on. When that tanked I looked into 30 Meals in One Day, that was done for only one month…and not because it was a bad idea, we just don’t have the freezer space for such an endeavor. We not only have to plan out 30 dinners, but 30 breakfast meals, and 30 lunch meals, plus snacks. If we owned a large freezer I could see doing this full-time. Spending just one or two days knocking out a months’ worth of meals sounds like a dream come true, and maybe I will jump back into it when we purchase a large freezer one day…but for now it just won’t work. So where did leave me? Back to square one of course. But I had learnt a valuable lesson, planning out ahead saves time, money, and energy.

Now tackling the planning ahead, that created a challenge, how would I ensure we wouldn’t get into the rut of eating the same thing over and over again? Home cooked meals are wonderful, but not if you are eating the same thing constantly. I figured if I designated each day to have a certain kind of food cooked, it would eliminate the mundane. I started with dinner, then expanded to breakfast and lunch after reading The 5$ Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook. After figuring out what will get cooked on which day I then sat down to actually plotted out what I would cook on those days. After a couple of weeks I had eight weeks of menus featuring breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks, and plenty of variety!

After writing out the menus using a template from the Donna Young’s printable site, I laminated them, punched a hole in the top corners, tied on some string, and I was done! Eight weeks’ worth of planned out meals, I almost can’t believe it!

The best part of all of this is the ease in which I make my grocery list. Instead of debating on what to make and then hunting everything down, or just going off of what is in my head while I’m shopping, I actually have a full week already planned out. I just go to the recipes, jot down the ingredients I don’t have and then buy ONLY those things I need. Yes, I still splurge here and there for treats, but pretty much everything that ends up in the cart was deliberately planned out. Saving our family money and saving mommy time!

Also due to the change in planning out our meals I changed when I acquire our groceries as well. Since I have every week already planned out I figured I could just pick one day a week to go shopping and then go. So I’m using Monday *which is generally our “light”/run around day* to tackle the grocery shopping. I only buy a week’s worth at a time, saving space in the fridge for leftovers, and allowing me to have one day a week when I KNOW I will be grocery shopping *and can plan everything else accordingly*.

So how does our menu planning breakdown?

B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner, I also plan two snacks a day out usually fruit, smoothies, or some other nice healthy munchies they don’t have certain themes to them though like the other meals do.

Sunday: B/L- Brunch Extravaganza *this is a big deal in our home on Sundays we usually stay in our PJs and everyone pitches in doing something*, D- Crockpot Night

Monday: B-Cold Cereal Morning, L- Meat-Free Meal, D- Meat-Free Night *As you can tell we are meat-free on Mondays, now the meals also include other things like fruit to go with their cereal, I’m just going to hit the core food item/theme to give you all an idea of what I have in place*

Tuesday: B-Muffins/Biscuits Morning, L- Sandwich/Quesadillas Meal, D- Italian Night

Wednesday: B-French Toast/Toast Morning, L- Chicken/Beef/Turkey Meal, D- Seafood Night

Thursday: B-Pancakes/Waffles Morning, L- Noodles/Pizza Meal, D- Curry Night

Friday: B- Hot Cereal/Egg Morning, L- Salad Meal, D- Chinese/Mexican Night

Saturday: B- Cold Cereal Morning, L- Dine Out, D- Grill Night

These are the core things I meet on the various days, adding in sides and other items to round out our meals. Various days also alternate the type of core item served to help ensure variety throughout the month. At the end of the day well-balanced meals have been served and I can start on meals for tomorrow that heat up nicely, saving me even more time and allowing for an extra five minutes in the shower! WooHoo!

So how do you tackle meals in your home?

Copyright(c) 2011 Rayven Holmes

Oh history. It can be a thrilling subject; I’ve spent hours engulfed in the History Channel. I adore that channel, it happens to be one of the few reasons I would ever consider getting cable or satellite again. While watching the History Channel is great, teaching history, on the other hand, can turn an interesting subject into a total nightmare. When you take away the trained narrator with his/her amazing voice inflection, leave the re-enactments on the cutting room floor, turn off the well-rehearsed musical piece, you are left with just the bare bone facts. And facts…well they can be rather boring, especially to children.

Now in an ideal world I would be able to turn on the History Channel, or acquire one of their many DVDs, and just allow TBM to sit and soak up all the history knowledge they could ever possibly need. We don’t live in an ideal world though…we live in reality, and in reality TBM find the History Channel to be just as dull and boring as ever history class I was ever forced to sit through. Those were actually genuinely boring, a lot of note taking, monotone documentaries, and tons of dates to remember. Did I learn anything in those classes, no not really, I spent my time lost in daydreams or reading the stuff I wanted to learn about. I didn’t appreciate history until I became a regular History Channel watcher, years of knowledge missed because of the way the subject was presented in school. I don’t want TBM to miss out on the experience that is historical learning, because I failed to present it in an enjoyable way.

So I’ve mulled over various ways to go about it without feeling like I’m sacrificing certain ideals we hold dear*i.e. purchasing curriculum materials that go against the core values in our home*. After a good six months of book buying, internet searching, review reading, and scheduling I think I have found what will work for us.

Truth Quest History! ...JUST KIDDING!! I promise that was a joke! Ok so what I have I really found? Well, a combination of various materials with lots of hands on stuff thrown in, hopefully this will produce enough information for a solid foundation on this year’s history topic while allowing things to be fun as well.

This upcoming school year we are tackling the Middle Ages! If only we lived near a Medieval Times! There is a lot that can be learnt during this time period, but I honestly don’t see the point in cramming a bunch of facts into small children’s heads. They need to experience the material first, so when the time comes to learn the facts and figures they are actually eager to do it. That’s the way I see it anyways.

Using History Odyssey as my guide I went through and plucked the items I felt would produce a well-rounded understanding of the Middle Ages for elementary level students. Considering how we will be revisiting this time period again due to us using the Classical approach in relation to history, I see no need to sweat the small stuff right now. I did make one major tweak to our studies; I will be weaving the study of various religions in with history this year unlike last year.

Christianity and Islam both play major roles in the shaping of our world during the Middle Ages, I feel I would be doing a disservice to TBM’s education if I continue to ignore the religious element of human history. I of course planned to hit it head on later down the line, but I’m starting to see that the present is as good a time as any to start the enormous task. I’ll break down what I intend to cover and then touch on how I’m planning to work in the religious element.

For the 2011-2012 School Year we will be covering:

The Roman Empire

“The Dark Ages”

England & France


The Crusades

The Black Death

Queen Elizabeth

William Shakespeare *we will be reading some of his various works for our language arts studies*

China & Japan


The Middle East

The Americas

These will be broken down over the course of our year *we school year round with our year broken down into seasonal quarters (summer, fall, winter, and spring…we start our school year during the summer)*. We will still do our hands on “day in the life” geared learning this year, with us having actual outfits (that I intend to sew before the 4th of July) to go along with our learning. Being the Middle Ages there are tons of fun things to do from castle building to epic swordfight battles. The possibilities are endless and I’m really looking forward to our hands on work this upcoming school year.

Now comes the “fun” part, bringing in the religious study. It won’t be too in-depth, more of a taste of what people believe and a building of the groundwork that will help them understand the impact these beliefs had on the world.

I’m going to start first with a study of Judaism, followed by Christianity, then Islam, and lastly a brief overview of the religious beliefs of various American civilizations (Mayan, Inca, Native Americans, etc.), Buddhism, and Shinto. These studies will correspond with the main history topics being taught. I’ve figured out which religions to teach and when to teach them, the materials for teaching though still elude me.

As much as it pains me to do it I think I may purchase children’s study books for the major monotheistic religions, this will give me something to use as a core spine for those three. I will just have to deal with the issue of each painting itself in a picture perfect light as we make our way through the books. The others though I will have to do some digging *and a few library visits* to find what I’ll use as my guide. I think as long as TBM walk away from their studies with a basic understand of these religions I’ll be happy. I still plan to go more in depth with the big three at least, so just like with our core history studies I won’t be sweating the small stuff when it comes to the religious studies this upcoming school year.

That pretty much sums up our history for this upcoming school year. Wow that turned into an extremely long post! Now to finish sorting the supplies and hunting for fabric for our period themed garments!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

TBM and I spent the day lost in our little island paradise with some wonderful friends of ours. Curious as to what we could possibly get into other than our regular school work? Well check out the video below *and yes I am still avoiding the last of our 2011-2012 planning…I’m so close to being done that I need to not think about it for a bit LOL*.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Have you heard about Wave At The Bus? It’s a blog by a family in Utah who decided that waving at their son’s school bus every morning should be done in a humors fashion. And for that we say Thank You! Check out their blog if you are in need of a laugh today! Seriously, his costumes are AWESOME!! And their blog is serving as a great distraction from things I need to do…like the rest of our 2011-2012 lesson planning.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

And the winner is *drum roll please*:

Comment # 1

Congratulations to Domestic Diva!! I will be emailing you this evening to get your shipping address so St. Louis Homeschool Resources, Inc knows where to send your wonderful goodies!!

Don’t forget folks there are still TWO more giveaways! I’ll be setting up a poll on our FB page in the next couple of weeks to see what goodies would interest you all.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Here is what you need to survive with no power:

Large bottles of water

A candle addiction

LED lanterns and a few flashlights

A gas grill with a full propane tank

An almost empty fridge

Random canned good items

A good breeze

Board games

Ingenuity and an Imagination

We made it through Typhoon Songda with plenty of stories to tell the grandkids one day.

Don’t forget Giveaway #1!! The click is winding down for it.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Ok folks it’s time for the details of giveaway number one! This giveaway is being sponsored by St. Louis Homeschool Resources, Inc. They are a home-based homeschool materials supplier who also happens to be secular homeschoolers!

You can check out their website HERE, check out their blog Homeschooling Atheist HERE, and surf their Amazon store HERE.

So what goodies have Karen and her family offered up?

1) An Inflatable Labeling Globe

2) Building Skills by Exploring Maps: Ancient Civilizations Grades 4-6, published by Creative Teaching Press

3) Building Skills by Exploring Maps: United States and Canada Grades 4-6, published by Creative Teaching Press

4) Building Skills by Exploring Maps: The World Grades 4-6, published by Creative Teaching Press

Are you all excited? I know when Karen mentioned to me the inflatable labeling globe I almost fell out of my seat! I didn’t even know they made those!!

Here are the ways you can earn entry into the giveaway:

1. Poll your children and determine which three subjects are your family’s favorite subjects to study, leave a blog comment with the results. If you have already done this and submitted the results to me, just leave a comment on this post with your name.

2. Blog about the giveaway on your own blog and then leave a comment with a link to the blog post.

3. Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter and then leave a comment with a link to the twitter post.

4. Share the giveaway blog post on your FB page, then leave a comment letting me know, if you have a non-private account leave a link to your page.

5. Like Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Homeschooler on FB, and then leave a comment letting me know along with your name. If you have already liked Ramblings… on FB leave a comment with your name as well.

6 Like St. Louis Homeschool Resources, Inc. on Facebook, and leave a comment stating you’re a follower and your name as well.

7. Follow Homeschooling Atheist, and leave a comment stating you’re a follower.

8. Follow Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Homeschooler on Twitter and leave a comment with your Twitter name, if you are already a follower leave a comment letting me know.

Every comment earns you a chance to win! The winner’s name will then go into the pot for the grand prize drawing!

The winner for Giveaway #1 will be announced June 1st at 8am EST!

Comments will be shut off on this post at 11:59pm May 31st EST, so you have until then to earn your entries!

Good Luck Everyone!!
*Oh and remember if you are related to me you can’t participate, sorry!*

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

We’ve been adjusting to life among the locals, we’ve become acquainted with the neighborhood mom & pop convenience store, marveled at the garbage trucks that play music just like the ice cream trucks in the states do, and have figured out how to work two of our four Japanese air conditioners.

I think the one thing that has us most impressed is the way the hot water heater works. Now in the states you usually don’t think twice about your hot water heater unless it’s on the fritz. In our new home it is always on our minds, and honestly the way it works is not only neat, but really very smart not only for the environment but our pocketbook as well.

So here is the control panel:

Yes you read that right, control panel. Our hot water heater has a control panel…that is all in Japanese, but we have the gist of it figured out. Our hot water heater (here on out it will be referred to as HWH because that is quicker than spelling it out), isn’t electric it runs on kerosene.

You can actually smell it when the HWH is running, assuming you have the laundry room window open (which I often do). To have it running constantly, like what you experience with electrical ones, would be a huge waste of gas. So instead you have to turn it on and off. We only run it when we are showering or if there is something that just needs hot water. We actually think about the kind of water we are using and if we truly need to use it or not.

The other element about it that we really love, aside from being able to cut it off when we don’t need hot water, is the temperature controls. Now, every parent reading this has probably received the little hand-out from their pediatrician about checking the HWH to make sure it is set to a certain temperature to avoid burns on children.

We have all checked water using our elbows, wrist, and other available body parts to ensure that it is just right. We have all heard the yelps of “It’s too HOT! Or It’s too COLD!” after we have done our best to get a temperature that seems comfortable. It is just part of the bath-time headache.

Well…it used to be for us anyways. Now, we can set the control panel to a temperature that suits TBM and not have to worry if the water is going to get too hot or too cold. We just press the buttons on the control panel, move the shower knob towards the red triangle indicating hot water, and wash the kids. They are comfy the whole time, they actually want to linger in the tub and do most of the washing themselves now *since we don’t have to worry about the water eventually going cold*, it’s great!

I honestly don’t know why homes in the states don’t have this feature. It would probably save people tons of money on their bills, just think about how much you could save if your HWH had an off button, and there is the safety factor. No more burns because a little kid got too happy in the tub and turns the hot water knob instead of the cold one. No more wasting time and water trying to get the water just right. I love our HWH control panel. It is a feature that I will do my best to have installed when we purchase a home one day, and it will definitely be in the building plans when we build our own home.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I have been plotting…the good kind of plotting! What have I been plotting you ask? Well, a giveaway series my dear friends!
Yes, you read that right a series! How will it work? Look below for all the details!

Giveaway Series Details:

-The series will consist of three giveaways and a grand prize drawing. One winner will be selected from each of the giveaways, at the end of the series one of the three winners will be picked as the winner of the grand prize! I will use Random.Org to pick the winners in the giveaways and grand prize drawing.

-I will announce the winner on this blog/twitter/and our FB page. At which point the winner will have 48hours to “accept” their winnings through a blog comment and from there the winner’s information will be gathered so their items can be shipped to them; if the winner fails to respond within 48hours of the announcement a runner up will be chosen.

-If you when one of the three giveaways you can’t participate in that other two giveaways, also if we are related *sorry to the few family members who possibly read this*, you can’t participate. It becomes a conflict of interest if you win. This giveaway is open to homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers. Basically, if something being given away appeals to you, you haven’t won in the series, and you aren’t related to me then by all means enter that giveaway!

-The ins and outs of entering *these will be repeated on each giveaway post for your convenience*:

Entry must be done through blog comments; you leave a comment for every item you complete on the following list:

1. Poll your children and determine which three subjects are your family’s favorite subjects to study, leave a blog comment with the results.

2. Blog about the giveaway on your own blog then leave a comment with a link to the blog post.

3. Twit about the giveaway on Twitter and then leave a comment with a link to the twitter post.

4. Share the giveaway blog post on your FB page, then leave a comment letting me know, if you have a non-private account leave a link to your page.

5. Like Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Homeschooler on FB, and then leave a comment letting me know along with your name. If you have already liked Ramblings… on FB leave a comment with your name as well.

6. If the sponsor for a particular giveaway has a blog, twitter, and/or FB fan page liking/following these will allow you an entry for each one you like/follow. Leave a comment with the needed information to verify.

7. Follow Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Homeschooler on Twitter and leave a comment with your Twitter name.

8. Share, share, share! And comment with verification! That is the name of this giveaway game.

-The first giveaway will be announced on May 25th, the second giveaway will be in August, the third in November, and the finally big drawing will be in December.

We already have a sponsor for the first giveaway if you would like to sponsor one of the other two giveaways please contact me, and stay tuned for the first giveaway! There are some awesome goodies in it!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Well even though we are fast approaching lunchtime here in Asia, it’s still the 20th in America, so there is still some time to get in our chuckles!

Now here is some friendly advice for those floating away in a few hours to help all of us who will be “Left Behind”:

And for those of us left to fight the zombies the CDC has a preparedness list to help ensure the survival of you and your loved ones: Click Here for that information.

If you will be engaging in any looting afterwards please do so safely and ensure the store you are looting was run by someone who was “Raptured” and not by someone “Left Behind”, we don’t want to cut off their livelihood.

For those attending “After the Rapture” parties please ensure you have a Designated Driver, we will need to avoid injuries while we are re-evaluating our medical response teams.

Other than that folks CELEBRATE!

Copyright(c) Rayven Holmes 2011

This is one of the many series I plan to start on this blog *and you will be able to find a click link to it located at the top of the blog with the other blog tabs*. This one will be bi-monthly and will feature books I’ve recently acquired that I think are worth sharing. I may go into why I purchased them or even give you a bit of info on what I’ve read so far, my thoughts, etc. Or I may just list them all with links to them on Amazon. It will really depend on how that particular day is going.

The last few weeks I’ve done a lot of book collecting even though I really shouldn’t have due to having to actually put it all away while unpacking, but I can’t turn away a possible good book. So here are my finds *well some of them*:

The 5$ Dinner Mom: Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook- The book is pretty good, easy recipes and plenty of helpful hints that I am making plans to incorporate into our lives. I’m going to order her first book, but a lot of the discount stuff really doesn’t apply because my places to shop are rather limited *and mostly Japanese*. It’s good info to have on hand whenever we are in the states though.

The Family Dinner- This is one of two books that I feel should be in everyone’s home! Yes it’s that good! Tons of information with the purpose of bringing families together. I love the meal time ideas, the recipes appear easy to follow and relatively quick to make.

His Needs, Her Needs- This is the second book that everyone should have! While the author is clearly Christian the book is practical, honest, and useful. It doesn’t spend time preaching at you or saying that *insert religious deity* needs to be at the forefront of your marriage. It’s written by someone who has years of experience counseling couples from various backgrounds and it shows. While geared toward heterosexual married couples, I think anyone can take away something from this regardless of their status.

Grow Up- Why did I grab this title? Because it says “how to raise an adult by being one yourself”. That struck a cord with me. How many times do we expect our children to act like adults while we are acting like children ourselves? We demand, whine, fuss, and fight and then wonder why our children do the same. I am more than willing to admit there have been times when I’ve been frustrated and muttered *yelled* the phrase “Oh just grow up!”, in truth though they aren’t the ones who need to do the growing up *figuratively speaking*. This book also has a chapter devoted just to different parent types (single, adoptive, gay/lesbian, etc.) and the issues faced in those situations and how to handle them.

And last but not least:

All About Japan- It’s a colorful, fun, information packed book on Japan that the boys and I have enjoyed making our way through.

So what's new in your bookcase?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

As humans we are consciously aware of the fact that we will die. Many live in fear of this fact, we know it will happen but we have no clue as to when, where, or how it will happen. It can be a scarier thing, but I choose not to live in fear of that which I can’t control. Yes death will come and I would like it to take its sweet time, but that doesn’t mean I must spend my life in fear of what is to come. Nor does it mean I must raise children to fear it and the unknown it creates. I have found the idea, the sheer notion, that I must raise children to believe X, Y, and/or Z because of what may or may not happen upon their death completely silly and downright morbid. Most people don’t want to die, but we will. So why spend time fretting over possibilities *that are statically damn near impossible* of what may happen when you leave this life and instead just LIVE this life?!

Dawkins sums it up well, and this video is just breathtakingly amazing. Enjoy and remember Carpe Diem!

Check out more Secular Thursday Bloggers!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

For those who peek into this blog daily you will have noticed a change to the sidebar under the “Donate” heading. Instead of a Chip In button for FBB there is now one for Camp Quest. Yes, I still strongly support FBB and highly encourage donations to them, but there is currently a blog contest between PZ and Team Underdog in order to raise money for Camp Quest! And folks the stakes are high and hairy! PZ has vowed to shave should his team win; no matter if you are for The Great Beard or against it, Camp Quest is an amazing cause to donate to.

What is Camp Quest? It’s a summer camp program geared at kids from freethought homes, in which a safe and open environment to make friends, engage in activities, and further question the world in which they live in is provided. Of course I really love the idea of Camp Quest and am looking forward to sending T.B.M. one summer *or possibly more summers* when they are of age. Not only do they offer this safe summer haven to explore and question, but they also offer financial assistance to those who want to attend but can’t afford the cost.

So what does donating to this wonderful organization do? It helps more camps get started, expands the ones currently running, and gives kids a chance to experience the joys of summer camp in a safe and open environment. There are currently 10 Camp Quest locations in North America and 3 locations overseas (UK, Ireland, and Norway). We owe our kids a chance to attend Camp Quest no matter where they call home. So pick a team and give it your all!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

That is how long we have left until we will be connected to the World Wide Web in our home once again. I’m hoping to have all of our boxes unpacked by this point and be back into full school swing again, so we can meet our June deadline for the school year. Of course we could go over it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I personally don’t want to. I like our upcoming schedule and intend to keep it.

And if you all are just waiting on pins and needles to hear what I have to say about the big news story of the year, that you would have to be under a rock to not know about, don’t hold your breath. The Spouse will still have deployments and TDYs, killing one terrorist didn’t end the war on terrorism so clearly it hasn’t changed our lives any, so why blog about it?

At the beginning of the year The Spouse and I made the decision to *finally* venture off base and find a home in a nice Japanese community. Fast forward to now and we *I mean ME because right after we decided to move the person whose name has to be on everything was sent bye-bye* are in the process of moving, hence why very little is getting done on the school front other than the 3 R’s.

There is stuff piled up behind the couch as well...

We’ve traded the indoor classroom for plenty of outdoor space, and an awesome roof area that will allow us to set up an urban garden *which I am hoping to blog about once I start the process!*. These boxes don’t reflect everything…just everything I’ve *along with the help of a fabulous friend* been able to get into boxes thus far. Who wants to bet that the minute I unpack the very last box The Spouse will call to say he will be coming home?!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Apparently J Crew has caused a stir! Something far worse than the Abercrombie and Finch catalog, something even more deadly than the superbugs lurking in the corners of your child’s school, they have…are you ready for it…they have featured a little boy wearing pink nail polish. Oh my word! The world is officially over. The sky is falling, we’ve lost our understanding of our roles, kids will need hours of therapy now because they saw a little boy in pink nail polish, *walks outside to inspect the chaos that is ensuing…nothing*.

Now let’s all take a minute to come back to earth, and examine this insanity known as the “culture war”. What exactly are we at war over? The fact that we have reached a point where we realize there are more important things in life than what color a child likes, where we realize that clothing isn’t what makes your gender, but it is instead your hardware *as in a penis or a vagina that makes you male or female*. Why exactly is this considered a war? Shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that we as a people have evolved to the point where we realize that what a child plays with, or what clothing they wear means nothing, and what matters is the love and support they receive from their caregivers.

I’ve discovered in this process of parenting boys that there is a different set of expectations for males. While we have reached the point where we “overlook” “boyish” behavior in girls usually adding in snide remarks about her “outgrowing it”, we still expect little boys to be violent, rough, tough, and dirty. Our ideals of what makes a boy into a man are so warped that it’s not even funny. We beat into their heads at a young age with toys, movies, shows, and in some cases through their caregivers as well, that anything even remotely “female” is to be avoided and if not then they will grow up to be weak “sissies”. Now from my vantage point as a mother of boys I find this thinking damaging.

How can I possibly raise boys into men who are secure in whom they are if I allow those ideals to rule in my home? How could that thinking possibly be healthy for them, especially if they do favor things that are considered “for girls only”. How can any young child reach their full potential if they always here “no only boys can do that” or “no, you’re not a girl so don’t even think about it!” Who the hell really cares if it’s a “boys” toy or a “girls” toy?! And why the hell should such trivial things matter?!

Yes there are some biological differences in males and females, but what exactly do those have to do with how we dress or how we play? Just because I pee sitting down doesn’t mean I can’t grab a light saber and pretend with my boys. Just because they can pee standing up doesn’t mean they can’t dress up like princesses and fairies. Our hardware, outside of reproduction, means nothing. It should not define who we are in this life.

WE as people should be able to define who we are, what we like, and how we want to present ourselves to the world, free from man-made ideas of what is or isn’t male or female behavior. Call these thoughts my “evil liberal ideals” I personally don’t give a damn. I would much rather have my children grow up to be confident, secure, and well aware of who they are then spend the precious years I have with them pushing societies warped ideas of what a man is or isn't on them.

In our home they are free to be them, be it in a dress, pants, or their underwear. They are who they are. And I think as parents we should be more concerned with ensuring they grow up proud of who they are, then wasting time worrying if their likes or dislikes fit into some ancient mold of what they should or shouldn’t be based on what’s between their legs.

In 2007 5.8 million children were abused, and those are just the reported cases, there are more millions more that go unreported. Yet instead of putting our energies into fighting something that not only leaves children physically and emotional scarred but also kills them in many cases, we instead have “wars” over how some are dressed?

Let’s think about this folks millions of children in America are abused, yet we fight over the ones in loving homes who are allowed to be themselves…someone please tell me I’m not the only one who sees something terribly wrong with that.

It’s time for American citizens to get their priorities in order, and realize that there are more important things than the color on a little boys toes.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes