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

The following is a beautiful animation of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I’ve been looking around the net for some supplemental items to use this upcoming school year to round out our eclectic curriculum. While checking out Time 4 Learning tonight I clicked their sign-up info and found that they are having a special offer sale for the month of April! Usually, it’s $19.95 for the first child and $14.95 for each child afterwards. During the special offer period *running through April 30th* each child is only $4.99 for the first month. I thought it sounded pretty good so I decided to take advantage of it, and figured I would pass the goodies on to all of you!

*Time 4 Learning is not compensating me in any form or fashion, I just wanted to share an awesome *money saving* find with you all!*

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Last night at about 10pm Professor Chaos woke up crying, coughing, and repeatedly stating his chest hurt. So I scooped up T.B.M. and headed to the nearest Emergency Room. Before anyone panics *mainly the family and close friends who read this*, other than having a virus he is just fine! But, I did notice that even in the most unorthodox situations T.B.M. are still open to learning. Our learning started with vitals, which General Disarray watched in amazement *even in the late night, just woke up fog he was in*.

He asked the nurse plenty of questions about the machines she was using, and learned what oxygen saturation is. Then we went on to have x-rays done, which General Disarray is a pro at, so he got to comfort his little brother, and then be the “Radiology Ninja” who guarded the door while Professor Chaos had his “picture” taken. After our time in Radiology we went back to our little section in the ER and intriguing games of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Glasses, Computer, and Knife were had. Yes, they put their own twist on the classic game, and with a little help from the guy in the section next to us we determined that Computer beats Paper, and Rock beats Computer, naturally.

So what does a trip to the ER teach? Other than how to handle life’s random emergencies, it teaches that at any age we can have empathy for those around us, every situation is a chance to grow and learn, and even a complete stranger can teach you something new and exciting. Hopefully though we can avoid any more ER lessons for at least a few more months...*glances over at T.B.M*…hopefully.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Prince may party like it’s 1999 but we are knee deep in planning like it’s our 2011-2012 school year! I’m very excited for this upcoming school year. We are really starting to find our homeschooling groove and what works for us as a family, and as individuals. My biggest hurdle this year, and the previous year as well, was finding a simple way to plan out our year. I’ve tried online planning methods before through Homeschool Tracker Basic. While it works for many out there it just didn’t do it for me. While I’m all for techy stuff and online goodness, it became too much of a hassle to go in and update. As well as plugging in all of our curriculum materials and our goals.

I then tried making my own lesson plan book using Donna Young printable planning pages, but the binder turned into a headache when I needed to take it with me on the go, plus having to frequently print off pages made it seem like a total waste, and just unpractical for a family with limited space, which is something we have to deal with.

Then I thought about the agenda books we had when I was in middle school. These were geared more for documenting homework assignments and paperwork that needed to be signed off, but I really liked the idea of each child having their own individual planner. So I spent a good month hunting around the net for something that would meet this need. First I tired going through sites that actually sale agenda books for schools. Sites with books I liked all had minimum purchase requirements, so as a homeschooler with only two students instead of a class of 45 I couldn’t purchase the books. Unless, I wanted to blow an obscene amount of money on something I may not even like at the end of the school year.

After knocking those off my list I hit amazon in search of agenda books/student planners that would allow for smaller purchases. I found a few but, most where religious themed with bible verses on either every page or in every daily block, way too much for our secular family. I could see ignoring a few verses every now and then, but this was overkill. The secular ones I found didn’t fit our schooling schedule since we homeschool year round (July-June), and they were geared towards the traditional schooling schedule.

I finally decided to search for a homeschool student planner just to see what it would bring up, and low and behold there is a student planner for homeschoolers called The Homeschool Student Planner. I wasn’t all gung-ho about getting it at first. I’m big on seeing what I’m going to buy, there are actually items I won’t purchase because, the website doesn’t have enough detail for my taste. So I did some searching for reviews on the product and while none actually showed off any pictures I decided to take a leap based on what I had been able to find. Factor in the money back guarantee and I felt confident in making the purchase.

I bought two planners so each child can have one, which came to $40, but considering the cost of printer ink and paper I think I’m coming out ahead compared to our previous method. I’m not having the boys fill these out themselves yet, I’m not sure when *or if* I will turn over the planning to them altogether. For now though I’m using it to plan out our school year, so we have what they each are doing in a place they can both easily access. It also helps keep both their work separate so I can be in the zone planning and working through the work for one child, then close up and move on to the next child.

The planners easily fit into T.B.M.’s book bags as well, allowing for us to school on the go, which will be very handy when we head to the states for a nearly two month visit in a couple of years. Allowing them both to do their work while we are either in a plane or a car, ensuring we meet our schooling goals while getting in plenty of time with family and friends, while limiting the amount of stuff we have to lug around the planet.

The planner breaks the year down by quarters which I really like since I set our goals by quarters (seasons), so this flows right into what we are already doing. I can also write in the dates, and while I did that this year I don’t foresee me doing it next year. I realized after filling in the dates and nearly the first quarter lessons when it hit me that I have to work in the breaks as well. So for this year I’m going to finish out the planning, and then when we take our breaks I’ll push back the work for that time period and pick it up when we resume.

Next year though I’m going to fill in the day of school on the left hand margin (first, second….etc. day of school) and then fill in the week of school when we get to it along the top. This will allow us to take our breaks as needed and then pick back up without any erasing in the planner on my end. :) The only negative with the planner so far is that the quarters are a typical nine weeks long, and our quarters are 13 weeks, but each planner comes with extra pages that I can make copies of to use so I can print out enough to cover the whole school year. I’ll just staple them together and paperclip the bundle to the quarter they belong with. This will still allow me to have all the items right there at hand, instead of pulling planning papers out of every nook and cranny in our home.

Each quarter also has an envelope to store paperwork, I’m not sure if we will use this feature this school year, but I can see using it when we have to do some carschooling, because it will allow everything to stay safely put away. I’m hoping this planning method pans out better than the previous ones; I have a good feeling about it since I don’t dread doing the planning, unlike when I was planning before. Here’s hoping!

So what are you using for your planning purposes?

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes