The Most Important Spot: A Reading Room Of One’s Own

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.

-Virginia Woolf

Despite Elizabeth Taylor’s infamous play, the actual script had nothing to do with Virginia Woolf.  The author, Edward Albee, had written the play and was still struggling with a title for it.  He actually saw some poor Lit major’s frustration scrawled into the wall of a restroom, that said, “Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Now she lives in infamy through Albee’s play.  And if you know anything about Woolf, I’m sure you can imagine how delighted she would be by this.

 

“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
Virginia Woolf 

 

That all being said, Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite writers and thinkers. I remember when I first read some of her essays in college, and reading the societal frustrations she railed against.  While reading her essays, I was appalled to discover that although women were granted the right to vote only in 1920, which in my opinion has been a blemish to the history of our country; but, women were continually forbidden from libraries well into the 1970s:

huc-demands-keep-clifffies-out-of-lamont_courtesy-of-schlesinger-library_700px_0link

So, there is no space for women in the library. I’m sorry, there are just too many women who want to be well educated! If we took one in, we would have to take them all in!

They also simply do not have enough books to fulfill the needs of women. However, the boys are still allowed into the girls’ library, since “boys cause less disturbance in a female environment than vice versa.”

And finally, the official Harvard opinion in 1966 is that the men at Harvard were not emotionally ready to be around women yet.  Even though “boys cause less disturbance in a female environment.”

However, women may be allowed in the library from 2 to 5am. That makes sense. I have no idea why some women have been upset over silly things.  Like being allowed into a library.

 

“Like most uneducated Englishwomen, I like reading–I like reading books in the bulk.”
Virginia Woolf

 

Reading is not only very important, it is crucial.

It is crucial to becoming a well balanced person, and especially a person who has the desire of education.

This is why I take my kids to the library once a week. This is why I am constantly finding good literature to download onto my Kindle for us.  This is why we have a sitting room with big squishy chairs for reading.

The love of reading doesn’t come easily to everyone, though. So many people have been stuck with literature in school that never spoke to them, and the stories just became “words on a page.” And the thing is, there are thousands of books out there…more than enough for everybody!  There is literature out there that speaks to every individual. Sometimes you just have to have someone else show you where they are; and invite you in.

Which is where I come in…

This is my kids’ reading corner.

I was displeased with the way the schoolroom felt…it just felt like a room. No life to it. So, I took all of my boxes of fabric from out of the closet and the kids helped me pick out some decorations, and we created their own reading space. It is well lit, has comfy pillows with matching reading mats, plus a reading cupboard handy for the books they are going through.

IMG_5539

This opens the room up, so instead of being a large box…it is now a reading environment!

IMG_5542

Now the kids have their own special place to read, and they have been super excited about designing it with me.

Making a reading room for one’s own is vital to creating a safe place to let your mind explore. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive.  It just has to be comfortable and inviting; and with many, many books available.

I would heartily recommend a reading room of one’s own for everyone.

Parenting Online: Taking The Internet By The Horns

Last year I had this grand vision…which I know is a big surprise.  I have huge ideas about a lot of things, and most of the time I just make a list and sit on it.  I don’t really have the supplies to complete the groovy and hip cross stitch quotes I have logged away on a Sticky note on my laptop, or the time to devote to learning how to can properly.  Some ideas I have are just too time intensive, and I never get around to carving out chunks of our day to accomplish them. Some ideas I just have to let go, but most I just forget about while I finish the laundry.  I may be an idea-person, but I hardly ever finish the majority of them.

I’d like to think that I only complete the great ones.  (I’d like to think that…)

But this time was different…

This time I had a great idea, and after I sketched out the skeleton of the idea, I put in the effort and actually did something with the idea!  I sat down, and plotted it out and fulfilled the agenda and completed something great!  What was this incredible idea, you ask?

I had this big idea of creating a website hub for parents who were interested in education for their kids.

Yeah, I know it isn’t curing cancer, but it is something that would have significantly helped me when I first began homeschooling.

Homeschooling has been a part of our lives for the past 8 years, and it has been a fascinating journey.  Never did I see myself homeschooling my children, when we first began to have children.  I saw myself sending our little kids into a brick-and-mortar school, just like I had and just like my husband had.  Really, my husband and I met in German class in high school.  I just figured we’d do the same thing as our forefathers and foremothers.

When I first started homeschooling, the sheer volume of teaching styles, different curriculums, books, textbooks, co-ops, online sites, et al., was quite more than overwhelming.  The first two years we went through a virtual charter school that sent us their curriculum, and that worked well for the time.  However, by the third year I understood my kids’ learning styles and which methods of teaching worked, and which didn’t; so, it was a good time to move on and do independent homeschooling.  I got to buy my own curriculum and I got to pick which subject sets to use, since I had a better idea of what worked better as well as what the kids actually liked.  It was a liberating year, and I have sincerely enjoyed the creative avenues we have discovered through our homeschooling travels.

So what I wanted was a hub that would pull together all these resources that I have used over the years and put them all in one place, and organize it so the idea of teaching your 5th grader isn’t the most impossible idea on earth.

I called this idea “Breaking Orbits,” to symbolize breaking free of the normal orbiting routine, and exploring outside of the norm.

Through the filter of my hubris, I thought it would be the beacon of light for parents, and we would create this underground network and revolutionize the world.  I mean, if Twitter could revolutionize the world by tweeting a short sentence about what you are doing, then creating a place for parents to participate in educating their kids should be a piece of cake!  Who doesn’t want this?? Right??!

Anyway, so I am big on ideas, and I am not big on networking.  I just am not a networking-PR-Advertising kinda gal.  Unfortunately, I have an “Eh, it might work. It might not. It’s still a good idea.” thing going…which has 0% entrepreneurial foundation in it.

 

This all being said, I kept the website around and just plugged stuff into it over time.  Just for myself.  Because I still liked the idea.

Then I sat on this website for a few months.

 

sciencekidslogo3

One day, I found a really neat site with fun experiment videos for kids.  I showed the website to the kids after they were finished with their schoolwork.  I showed them the Science Videos 4 Kids site that I had linked on Breaking Orbits, that was originally put there to be a resource for other parents, and my kids spent all day exploring the website and finding experiments they could do at home.

 

Suddenly, I realized I could put things onto Breaking Orbits for my kids...it can be a hub for us!  I honestly don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that we could use it for ourselves; I thought it had to be this world-changing revolutionary thing.  It didn’t occur to me to do something just for me.

Everything changed after that day.

 

Now…now it is a truly amazing, revolutionary idea.

 

I am just sharing my idea with you in case you want to use this idea for yourself.  This is not a networking idea, because I am not a networking person.  I am an idea person, and I believe good ideas are meant to be passed around and grafted into other ideas.

 

So here we go: Breaking Orbits

Screenshot 2015-05-11 11.34.16

 

Breaking Orbits is the safe webpage that I can trust.

Because I made it.  I know what is on there, and I update it regularly so my kids will always find something new and interesting.

It is a site that encourages my kids to be curious and to explore topics of science, literature, programming and history.  They learn about music and art.  I feel comfortable letting them play around on this site on their own, because everything on the site was hand chosen by me.

The internet is an incredibly big place, and there are so many amazing things out there!  What I have found and organized into pages is a fraction of a fraction of the opportunities to learn.

So what kind of pages are on Breaking Orbits?

 

A page for Curriculum Resources and listings:Screenshot 2015-05-11 15.04.38

 

A page for eBooks and eTextbooks:

Screenshot 2015-05-11 15.04.53

 

A page for DIY/Make/Electronics:

Screenshot 2015-05-11 15.05.11

 

A page for S.T.E.M. resources:Screenshot 2015-05-11 15.05.22

 

A grok page for starting coders:Screenshot 2015-05-11 15.05.38

 

A page with links to the online school sites the kids use:

 

Screenshot 2015-05-11 15.12.39

 

And finally, my kids’ favorite page and the one I update the most – a page for kid sites and videos.  On here I keep it updated with bug information and identification sites, book videos, nature documentaries, musician videos, Nautilus webcams…and whatever else I find!  This is probably the most fun page, and definitely the one the kids visit all the time:

Screenshot 2015-05-11 15.06.59

 

 

So, visit Breaking Orbits and enjoy!  Or take the internet by the horns. make your own site!

 

The Purpose of the Artist: The Sensitive Spirit, or the Eccentric Ego?

the-weeping-woman credit

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. – Pablo Piccasso

 One of the goals of parenting should be to broaden the parent-child relationship from “supportive” to “engaged.”

The other day my son was playing a spelling game, and he had to spell the word “axe.”  I was curious what the difference was between “ax” and “axe”…and although I’m sorry to say there isn’t a big difference between the two, I did read a definition of “phrases which use ax”  that seemed relevant to what I am trying to explain.

The phrase was, “have an ax to grind have a self-serving reason for doing or being involved in something: she joined the board because she had an ax to grind with the school system.”

 A lot of times I see parents, or if I’m being completely honest, I see myself, participate with what their children are doing for self-serving reasons.  You could say, “they have an ax to grind with life/school/careers, and so they have a self-serving reason for being involved in what their kids are involved in”:

Continue reading “The Purpose of the Artist: The Sensitive Spirit, or the Eccentric Ego?”

Top 5 Pinterest Boards to Pin

I do love Pinterest.

1341974163350_8152059

Show me a woman who doesn’t like Pinterest, and I’ll just show you a woman who prefers Wanelo. I’ve found that Pinterest is for people who need ideas, and Wanelo is for people who need to buy those ideas. Ben showed me Wanelo once and I said, “Heck, I could make that.” To which he replied, “And that’s why you are on Pinterest.”

There are so many helpful boards I follow, I could hardly list them all. I feel I am still just dabbling in my boards, and I have over 1,000 pins. Truly professional pinners are in the +10,000 pin range, with +5,000 followers! It’s just crazy. I think I have around 130 followers, which is still a crazy idea to me, honestly. I didn’t even have a quarter of that many people at my wedding (which was pre-Pinterest era…can you imagine??)

But there are always some boards that stand out more than others, so here are a few that I love!

 

1. Kids Play Arts Crafts: Preschoolers
Kids Play Arts and Crafts Pin Board
I love this board because I would do all these projects by myself, they are so much fun.

craies12

 

2. Carol’s Easy Learning Games
Carol’s Easy Learning Games Board
Carol Barnier is an amazing speaker, and a very interesting woman who has a million good ideas…look around!

73ae15ab18bcdc10f7bf8b3590aeaabd

Homemade Marble Run

 

3. The Ultimate Homeschool Board
Ultimate Homeschool Board
This is a great board with a ton of ideas, lapbooks, links and supplies for homeschoolers. Highly recommended!

90e3df12f3d6b73b22e9846a8ad7c0ee

4. Homeschool Organization
Homeschool Organization Board
You may know how to teach, but organizing a bazillion books, binders and projects may not be on your daily agenda, so to speak. It might not even be on your radar. But it’s important…and here is some help!

e9c9f8d84e328ca49f38b11104d3cafe

This is so disturbingly neat and orderly…

5. And finally…my Boards. Because, why not? Maybe you’ll find something on there you like!
Tamrmint’s Boards

e4c665344156348f4c7b370f2ed5391e

d3d5be8e531f1e1115fcd65b6cc3b7d9

8394449ea25d136f4d1fec6159c70781

1d06be4bea94cf4e5b94545c8cee1ece

15ad34dd5a40725162ab5a23d4a6fa1c

Enjoy!

Homeschooling Product Reviews: Curriculum & Books

We are going on to finish our 6th year of homeschooling, and we have used quite a few homeschool curriculums by now.

 When I first got started, I was pregnant with our 3rd child, had just moved an hour away from where we thought we were going to raise our kids so we had a big fat ZERO community around us, and I had never homeschooled before.  We started with Kindergarten and we are all the way to 5th grade by now!

 
I have definitely paved our own road with this, and it has been absolutely amazing!

How about I give back, and do some reviews?

Continue reading “Homeschooling Product Reviews: Curriculum & Books”