Friday, December 30, 2011

10 Tips To Avoid Work At Home Mom Burnout

Working from home is a great way to stay home with your kids while still supplementing the family’s income. On the flipside, it can be challenging to be mother and employee at the same time. Your stress level will rise quickly when you have deadlines to keep or phone calls to make while your little ones are acting out. Implement a few of the ideas below to prevent Work at Home Mom Burnout. 

1. Don’t work more than you have to. Money isn’t everything. You family needs a happy and sane mom.

2. Create a schedule or to-do list both for work and your personal life. Just realize that you won’t always get everything done and don’t worry if you don’t. There’s always tomorrow. 

3. Designate an errand day. Spend one day a week running around town getting everything done for the week. This is when you will grocery shop, drop things off at the drycleaner, go to the post office and anything else you need to do. 

4. Enjoy your kids. Take some time to play with them every day. Have a picnic lunch in the yard, take them on a little field trip or just play catch for a while. You’re a work at home mom because you want to spend time with your kids. Work and house chores can wait while you play. 

5. Go out on a date with your spouse. Make date night a regular occurrence and connect with your lover. 

6. Have lunch with a girlfriend. We need some adult conversation every now and then. Make time to stay in touch with your friends. 

7. Call a friend. If you are having a bad day, call a good friend and just talk for a little while. You’ll be relaxed and rejuvenated when you get back. 

8. Get some exercise. Go for a walk, join a gym, or try a Pilate’s class. Exercise will not only keep you in shape, it’s also a great de-stressor. 

9. Play some upbeat music and dance around the living room. Who cares if your kids and the neighbors think you’ve lost it? You are having fun and are releasing all that build up physical energy. 

10. If you own a business, stick to one until it more or less runs itself. Don’t burn yourself out by trying to run several businesses at the same time. 

Start implementing a few of these ideas today and watch your stress level go down. You will prevent work at home mom burnout and get to enjoy life more. Your family will appreciate spending time with a fun and relaxed mom. That’s what it’s all about – spending quality time with your family

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dealing with stereotypes - What does a Work-at-home-school mom look like?

One of the hardest issues to contend with as a work-at-homeschool mom is the perception of others that you aren’t working. Many people think that working at home isn’t working at all, and that you have all of the free time in the world. Those who have spent any time working at home know that there is a lot of time and energy that goes into effectively working at home. Friends who call in the middle of the day, spouses who expect you to be doing more while home or family members who make offhand comments, can undermine those efforts. Add homeschooling to the mix, and you have a recipe for misunderstandings and frayed tempers.

Not all stay at home moms work, and they certainly don't usually try to work and homeschool. If you have friends who do neither, it can be hard impossible for them to understand that your days aren’t free. Calls during your working time, invitations to lunch and uninvited guests can throw a wrench in your work schedule. In order to get your friends to respect your time, it’s important to make your working schedule clear to them. And to make them understand that homeschooling is not a hobby or a whim, but the most important part of your "work" day.

If you don’t have a clear work schedule, then it is time to make one for yourself. Since school is obviously a priority, you will have to be intentional about setting aside hours that you designate as "work."  By setting office hours for yourself, you will make it clear to everyone around you that you are serious about your work. It will also help set boundaries for your time. Tell your friends that you will be unavailable from a certain time to a certain time, but you’d love to talk before or after those times. Make sure your children are able to work independently, or that your older children can supervise the younger ones during the time you are "in the office." You may even go so far as to turn off your phone. If you do answer the phone and someone wants to chat, politely let them know that you are working but can speak after a certain time. Also, schedule things like lunches or visits for one day per week. This way you’ll reduce the drop-ins and spontaneous invitations.

Spouses can sometimes have difficulty understanding why, if you are home all day, the housework isn’t done. This problem can best by solved by familiarizing him with the nature of your homeschool and your business. Show him exactly what you need to do each day, and how long it takes to do each task. Help him understand your work schedule, and how much time you need to work per day. Happily, homeschool dads are usually good about recognizing the sacrifice you are making to homeschool your children, and they just need to walk through your day realize the benefits of your work as well.

Then ask him to help you come up with solutions for working at home and maintaining the household. Make a list of things that need to be done each week, and assign duties to you, him and the children (those who are old enough). Then taking care of the house becomes a family priority and something that you all share responsibility in. Notify him of any special projects by keeping a work calendar on the wall. That way he can see what is going on with your work schedule, and why you have ordered pizza for dinner three times in the last week!

Many work at homeschool moms can be hurt over offhand comments about working at home. Family or even friends can say things like “Well you have the time, because you are at home.” These are usually the same ones who cannot understand why you homeschool, or what it entails. In situations like these, you have two choices. You can either get upset and offer a flustered defense or you can take their comments with a grain of salt and offer a calm response. Depending on the situation you can say something like “Well, school ends at 2pm, and after that I have several hours in the office. Let me check my work schedule. I know I am not available on these days” or “That would be great on Friday afternoon, which is when I leave time in my work schedule for those types of things.”

Remember, working at home is new territory for many people although the numbers of moms who are trying to work at home and homeschool  are growing. It may take some time for the average person to understand the commitment and scheduling that it takes to effectively mix a home business with homeschooling. You may never convince some people that you are actually teaching and working while at home, but establishing respect for your own time is one way to make them see that what you are doing is important.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twelve Days of Homeschool

Thanks to Sandee Rodriguez for the heads up about this fun video version of "Twelve Days of Christmas" as sung by homeschool moms. No further comment is needed, the video speaks for itself! Merry Christmas!

This is pretty hilarious for homeschool moms.

Monday, November 28, 2011

NJ Homeschoolers! Your Calls Needed Now to Stop S3105

IMPORTANT UPDATE Calls No Longer Needed on Huttle-Weinberg Bills

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Thank you for your phone calls! They have had a significant impact. 

Our opposition to the Huttle-Weinberg bills is now well known in the 
legislature, greatly reducing the likelihood the bills could be 
quietly hurried through at the end of the legislative session (in 
early January) under a suspension of legislative rules.


It has been a long time since I posted an article about proposed legislation in NJ.


Once again, NJ is trying to punish homeschoolers for the failures of DYFS. HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff's conclusion is chilling:

    "New Jersey would overnight have one of the worst homeschool laws in the nation. The New Jersey tax base and overall economy could suffer as homeschool families avoid (or leave) the state."

Governor Christie has said that something like $70 billion in wealth has left NJ because of the unfriendly business climate and the confiscatory taxes. NJ's favorable homeschool climate is the only reason we stayed all these years.  My husband has been trying to talk me into moving to Pennsylvania for years, and I was never willing because of the homeschooling regulations. Now that we are no longer homeschooling, it won't affect me directly, but it WILL affect many of my friends.

I just received this e-lert from HSLDA concerning S3105, the latest attempt by Loretta Weinberg to increase homeschool regulation. The e-lert is posted here in its entirety.

Stop State-Mandated Annual Medical Exams and Portfolios for Homeschoolers

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Your calls are needed immediately to stop S3105, a bill Senator Loretta Weinberg filed last week, despite many calls asking her not to. The bill treats every homeschool parent like a child abuser by requiring them to file documentation of annual medical exams.

It would require parents to submit each child’s name, birth date, and homeschool instructor’s name every year by August 1. A mandatory portfolio would be due June 30. But what bureaucrats can require in a child’s portfolio is virtually unlimited.

The bill gives the State Board of Education dramatic new power over homeschool families by empowering it to regulate homeschooling. The Board could mandate exactly how all the bill’s requirements would be enforced. It could define homeschooling itself.

There is virtually no limit as to what the Board could require in the annual medical exam. No issue—no matter how personal, sensitive, unwelcome or intrusive—would be off limits.

Lawmakers who act against the will of the people can be removed from office. But State Board of Education members are appointed, not elected. New Jersey homeschool families would be virtually at their mercy.

This bill would turn New Jersey’s current sensible legal framework into a morass of regulations and burdensome red tape. With three filings every year for 42,000 homeschooled children, overworked public school staff would have yet more burdens added to their shoulders.

Taxpayers would pay the cost of filing, processing, checking, responding to, and storing 120,000 sets of paperwork each year. Taxes will inevitably go up to pay for it.

The media carried reports recently about the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) failing to protect an allegedly homeschooled child in danger—with tragic results. S3105 wrongly punishes parents for the failures of DYFS.
Action Requested

Please make three courteous phone calls by Thursday using the contact information below.

    Call Sen. Stephen Sweeney. He is the president of the New Jersey Senate, and he controls its business.
    Call Sen. Teresa Ruiz. She is the chair of the Senate Education Committee, to which S3105 was referred.
    If you are a constituent of the other four members of the committee (Sens. Jim Whelan, Diane Allen, Thomas Kean and Shirley Turner), call them. (ed note: Calling Shirley turner? Good luck with that.) Or use our legislative toolbox to see if you are a constituent of one of those senators.

Your message can be as simple as “Please oppose S3105. Don’t punish homeschoolers and public school staff for the failures of DYFS.”

Or you can frame your own message using information in this email, including material in the “background” section below.

Contact Information

Sen. Stephen Sweeney:

(856) 251-9801 (West Deptford office)

(856) 455-1011 (Bridgeton office)

(856) 339-0808 (Salem office)

Sen. Teresa Ruiz:

(973) 484-1000

Sen. Jim Whelan:
(609) 383-1388

Sen. Diane Allen:

(609) 239-2800

Sen. Thomas Kean:

(732) 974-0400

Sen. Shirley Turner:

(609) 530-3277


Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Education Network of Christian Homeschoolers of New Jersey (ENOCH), Catholic Homeschoolers of New Jersey (CHNJ), and New Jersey Homeschool Association (NJHA), and others, are united as a task force in opposing S3105.

You can view the bill online. DYFS had numerous contacts with the family of the abused girl who was in the news this summer. A fresh report was called in just a few days before she died. DYFS did virtually nothing about the report and closed it. Fix DYFS. That’s where the problem is.

Complicated rules always foster needless conflicts, and this would become an everyday occurrence. After the state board adopts regulations, local school systems would adopt their own requirements, creating an additional layer of red tape.

New Jersey would overnight have one of the worst homeschool laws in the nation. The New Jersey tax base and overall economy could suffer as homeschool families avoid (or leave) the state.

The outstanding academic achievements of homeschool students has been documented by many studies. Homeschoolers typically score 30 percentile points above others on standardized tests. Since homeschoolers score the same in states with heavy regulation and states with light regulation, adding new regulations is highly unlikely to help academic performance (source: Dr. Brian Ray, “Home Schooling Achievement,” 1997).

Thank you for standing with us for freedom!

Sincerely yours,

Scott Woodruff

HSLDA Senior Counsel

Monday, November 07, 2011

A New American Christmas Tradition

Perhaps you have seen this already.  I have no idea who wrote it, but they are clearly not going to come after me for reposting it since they urged people to get the message out. Someone sent it to me today in an email, and I think it bears repeating.

Something to think about... As Americans, we need to support our own economy, and not be held  hostage by cheap, foreign-made products that are crippling the jobs of workers in the United States.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.  There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.  Oh... Yes there is!

It is time to think outside the box, people.  Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut.  How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership?  It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed?  Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese-made flat-screen TV?  Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a gazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates.  And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint  Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their  financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom?  Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal.  Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves.  They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.  And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house?  When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community.  If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city.  Christmas is now about caring about US (We the People), encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams.  And, when we care about other  Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we could not imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition!!

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups.

-- throw up a post on Craig's List in the Rants and Raves section in your city.

-- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments.

This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jesus' Name Ruled Unconstitutional

Photo credit

"A U.S. circuit court decision that states even “a solitary reference to Jesus Christ” in invocations before the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ meetings could do “violence to the pluralistic and inclusive values that are a defining feature of American public life.”

World Net Daily reported today that the Name of Jesus has been ruled unconstitutional in North Carolina.


I am so tired of this kind on nonsense. Shall I go out and sue everyone who offends me? I could singlehandedly clog up the courts for decades with lawsuits concerning public statements that offend me!

Free speech, even repulsive speech, is one of the hazards of a free society (not up for discussion about whether we are really still free, thanks). The name of Jesus is NOT repulsive speech, no matter what the ACLU or the US Circuit Court think.

Why isn't a solitary reference to Allah, or Buddha, or the Dalai Lama, or Mother Earth, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, something that does violence to our "inclusive" values?

Occupy Wall Street protesters might say it like this:  99% of the complaints about stuff like this come from 1% of the professional malcontents who hire the ACLU to scrub every reference to Jesus from public life.

If someone doesn't feel that they can participate in civic affairs because they are scandalized by a prayer, they have bigger problems than I am able to address in this column. Believe me, my opposition to Roe v. Wade, Obamacare, or "gender education" for kindergarteners doesn't stop me from participating in civic affairs.

Anyway, the Board of County Commissioners in Forsyth County has retained the Alliance Defense Fund to help them overturn this ruling. Brett Harvey of the Alliance Defense Fund explains,

 "The Constitution prohibits the government from deciding which religious words are acceptable and which are not, even if the goal is to make people feel more comfortable."
Read more:Jesus' name ruled 'unconstitutional'
I may not agree with you, but will defend to the death your right to your opinion. As a Christian and an American, I may have a different take on this from people in other countries. So, international readers, step up and speak!  Americans, too - I know my readers and online friends are a diverse lot.  God forbid that we should have to march in lockstep and all subscribe to the same groupthink to be friends.

I know, I know. This one doesn't have anything to do with homeschooling. And it isn't even Wednesday.

So sue me. Better yet, comment! I really want to know what you think.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Lesson in Forgiveness

Photo credit:  ©Warner Bros.
We took communion in church last Sunday, and as I considered how I needed to become more like Jesus, my mind kept popping back to a YouTube video I watched earlier in the week.  I kept batting it away, like a pesky fly, thinking it was some distraction keeping me from considering weightier matters.

See, it was a video about Mel Gibson.  Wow, thinking about Mel Gibson during communion - how messed up is that? In my life before Christ, it would have been no problem for me to contemplate Mel Gibson during communion, or any other time. But after his phenomenal success with Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, in recent years Mel has made an ass of himself, with his public drunkenness, anti-Semitic tirades, marital problems, and domestic violence issues, just to name a few. Like many others, I have grown tired of his antics, and moved on.

But the thoughts wouldn't go away, so I considered what it was I was supposed to be learning from it, and whether there was a lesson in there somewhere. Because this wasn't a video OF Mel Gibson. It was an extraordinary speech by Robert Downey, Jr., about Mel Gibson.

After a promising career start in the 1980s and early '90s as part of the "Brat Pack," Robert Downey, Jr. had a terrible drug problem that peaked between 1996 and 2001. He was arrested multiple times on drug charges, did some time,  and was in and out of drug treatment programs. He stopped being considered for roles, and was even fired from a few before finding lasting sobriety in 2001.

In recent years, Robert Downey, Jr.'s career has taken off, with two very notable successes in Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man. A couple of weeks ago, he added the American Cinematheque award to his collection, and he deliberately chose Mel Gibson to present the award, so that he could make this speech. Please don't read any further until you watch this. It's only two minutes. It made me cry, and I bet you will, too.

And then I knew why it was appropriate to think about this video during communion. Because there is a really good sermon in there, about forgiveness, friendship, loyalty, faithfulness, and restoration - all of which are very near to the heart of God.

Am I that kind of friend? Robert Downey, Jr. never wavered in his support for Mel all during the controversy, and did not distance himself as others did, because of what Mel had done for him during his darkest times. How many times have I been influenced by the "evil report" of others about someone, or distanced myself from someone who was going through a whirlwind of bad choices and worse behavior?  Is there someone, or perhaps several someones, in my life that I need to embrace and forgive, and restore to fellowship?

Especially after all that Jesus did for me. Isn't that what He would do? What He does?

I continued to think about friendship and forgiveness throughout the day, and while I had little or no opinion of Robert Downey, Jr. before now, he has catapulted over hundreds of others in my esteem because of this act of friendship and forgiveness. And he made me ashamed of my attitude about Mel.  Ashamed of my attitude about some other people.

So what does that have to do with homeschooling?  Just that children learn more from what they see us do than from what we tell them they should do.

Walk in mercy and forgiveness, and your children will also.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Here We Go Again! 9th Circuit Outlaws Banners Mentioning "God"

The 9th Circuit strikes again!

The same three judge panel that decided that "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional is at it again. This time, they have reversed a lower court ruling that allowed Bradley Johnson to display patriotic banners in his San Diego classroom because they mention "God."

I wrote about this controversy in a post called "Finally, A Judge with Sense in California!", in which I celebrated the lower court ruling that enabled the banners to remain. If you are unfamiliar with this controversy, you may wish to review that post from 2008.

2008. Seriously?

So, three years ago, I wrote that Bradley Johnson had been displaying his banners for 25 years. That means it has been 28 years now, and they still have not had any significant complaints, except maybe from Michael Newdow, or some other professional malcontent who lives to see the mention of God eradicated from the public square.

Bradley Johnson is a respected math teacher in the Poway Unified School District - in California, where else? They actually told him to take down his banner in 2007, all the while leaving intact other banners and posters displayed in other classrooms containing photos of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Prayer Flags, anti-religious song lyrics, and gay and lesbian promotional materials. Whatever your opinion of any of these materials, I guarantee you that they are every bit as offensive to some segments of the population as the mention of "God" in the context of American history.

One phrase, "One Nation Under God" is from the Pledge of Allegiance - the same Pledge that the 9th Circuit judges got their panties in a twist about in 2002. "In God We Trust" is on our money - though in recent years it has been banished to the edges of some coins. "God Shed His Grace on Thee" and "God Bless America" are familiar lyrics from patriotic songs that Americans have been singing for generations.

Here is a photo of the evil banner in question:

Photo Credit: Thomas More Law Center
Here is how it looks in the classroom, where at least half the students have their backs toward it.

The Thomas More Law Center is once again defending Johnson, and in September, announced its intent to petition for an "en banc" review of the decision, which will require the entire voting membership of the 9th Circuit to decide whether the petition should be granted.  If the petition is granted they will have to go before a panel of 11 judges who will be selected from among the voting members.

As I mentioned in my earlier article, this is not specifically about homeschooling, but it certainly continues to underscore the hostility to anything that might be - even erroneously - construed as a religious message. Here are a couple of quotes from the decision, written by appeals court Judge Richard Tallman.
“We consider whether a public school district infringes the First Amendment liberties of one of its teachers when it orders him not to use his public position as a pulpit from which to preach his own views on the role of God in our Nation’s history to the captive students in his mathematics classroom. The answer is clear: it does not.” 
“Though Johnson maintains that his banners express purely patriotic sentiments … it seems as plain to us as it was to school officials that Johnson’s banners concern religion."
“One would need to be remarkably unperceptive to see the statements …. as organized and displayed by Johnson and not understand them to convey a religious message.” 
But it was okay for other teachers to display the Tibetan prayer flags, or lyrics to "Imagine" to captive students in their [insert name of class here] class.

Puhleeze. This is the same court that ruled in 2005 that adopting Muslim names, reciting Muslim prayers, and simulating religious fasting for three weeks was a perfectly acceptable classroom activity, not “overt religious exercises” that would raise concerns under the First Amendment prohibition of “establishment of religion.”

Never mind that these exercises were conducted in the fall of 2001. Am I the only one who gets sick to my stomach when I think about that?

Can you imagine the weeping and gnashing of teeth if students were subjected to some Christian themed role playing for three weeks? 

During Ramadan?

I know not everyone homeschools for religious reasons, but rulings like these confirm that those who do are not merely imagining that their worldview is under attack.  It is part of the same phenomenon that caused school officials in Michigan to think it was okayto hold a terrorism drill that depicted Christian homeschoolers as theterrorists. In 2007, Burlington County, NJ school officials held a mock drill that included gun-toting Christian extremists who were upset because the daughter of one of them was expelled for praying in school. Superintendent Chris Manno told the Burlington County Times:
We need to practice under conditions as real as possible in order to evaluate our procedures and plans so that they're as effective as possible.
This isn't MY reality.

I know, I know. This isn't happening in YOUR public school.  First of all, how do you know? And second, when it is, will you do anything about it? Whether you are a Christian or not, it should matter to you that  someone's freedom is being curtailed because of what they believe. Next time it could be some value or belief YOU cherish.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Does College Matter?

Does college really matter any more?

On one side you have people who believe that a college degree is the new high school diploma, and that you can just barely get a job if you don't have one. On the other side are people who cannot afford the price tag to send their kid (who doesn't really want to go) to college, and who wonder if their kid will ever be suited for the kind of job that will command a high enough salary to be worth graduating with thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

I confess that I fall into the second camp. I put myself through school back in the Dark Ages and spent just over $3,000 for just over three years being indoctrinated into the same anti-American, overthrow-the-greedy-corporations, make-my-rich-neighbor-pay-my-bills, God-is-dead claptrap that is still being preached in American universities 40 years later. I became a member of the local Young Socialists chapter and raged against the machine for just over three years on an accelerated foreign language program under the tutelage of a militant homosexual activist, all the while being disabused of any archaic notions of morality, religion or capitalism.  My "college education" was mostly politicized, the academic portion was mediocre and forgettable, and the main thing it accomplished was to make me hard and angry, and derail my quest for God for another 13 years.

This experience soured me on college for my own kids, and my husband and I have been at loggerheads about it for years. Since I went to the trouble to homeschool them for 12 years, I really hated the idea of them meeting some charismatic Pied Piper during their freshman year that would lead them down a path that they might not be able to resist.

My daughter did go to college. So far, my son has not. My husband is a nervous wreck about this, and yet I am strangely indifferent. Here's why:

A number of bloggers have weighed in on the death of Steve Jobs this week, but this is probably an angle most people did not write about, except for the folks at  Steve Jobs was a college dropout!

 In the article "30 Wildly Successful College Drop Outs", Sunny Chanel of  the Strollerderby blog, provides great encouragement to parents like me who have sons or daughters who just don't have a clue what they want to do with their lives.

She profiles 30 wildly successful college dropouts, from the well known - like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Ted Turner and Steve Jobs - to the less known, like Barry Diller whose websites include CitySearch, Ticketmaster, and Lending Tree.

You will be amazed who didn't go to college! So here's a question for you. Everyone who reads this is going to have an opinion one way or the other. I would love to hear why -- or why not -- you think a college degree is important.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Label Even Monsanto Considers a 'Skull and Crossbones'

Reprinted with Permission from Please see resource box below.

By: Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association

"If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it." - Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

Monsanto and Food Inc.'s stranglehold over the nation's food and farming system is about to be challenged in a food fight that will largely determine the future of American agriculture.

A growing corps of organic food and health activists in California—supported by consumers and farmers across the nation—are boldly standing up to Monsanto and its minions, taking the first steps to expose the widespread contamination of non-organic grocery store foods with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and moving to implement mandatory GMO labeling through a grassroots-powered Citizens Ballot Initiative process.

This week, lawyers representing a broad and unprecedented health, environmental, and consumer coalition, including the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, Center for Food Safety,, Nature's Path, Natural,, Food Democracy Now, and the Institute for Responsible Technology, filed papers with the California Attorney General's office to place a Citizens Initiative on the Ballot in November, 2012 that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients.

If California voters pass this ballot initiative in 2012, it will likely be the beginning of the end for Monsanto and genetically engineered food in the U.S. According to Zuri Starr, a Southern California field organizer for the Organic Consumers Association:

"The California Ballot Initiative is perhaps our last chance to stop the Biotech Express, to overthrow Biotechnology's dictatorial regime and build a safe and sustainable food and farming system based upon the ethical principles of consumer choice and BioDemocracy."

Moving the Battleground

After 20 years of biotech bullying and force-feeding unlabeled and hazardous genetically modified (GM) foods to animals and humans—aided and abetted by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations— a critical mass of food and health activists have decided it's time to move beyond small skirmishes and losing battles and go on the offensive.

It's time to move the food fight over labeling GM food from the unfavorable terrain of Washington D.C. and Capitol Hill, where Monsanto and Food Inc. exercise control, to California, the heartland of organic food and farming and anti-GMO sentiment, where 80-85 percent of the body politic, according to recent polls, support mandatory labeling.

The trillion-dollar biotech, supermarket, and food industry are acutely conscious of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of genetically engineered food.

Consumers understand you don't want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by out-of-control chemical and biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, or DuPont--the same people who brought us toxic pesticides and industrial chemicals, Agent Orange, carcinogenic food additives, and PCBs. Biotech, food, and grocery corporations are alarmed by the fact that every poll over the last 20 years has shown that 85-95 percent of American consumers want mandatory labels on genetically modified foods.

Europe Shows Labels Drive GMOs off the Market

Why are there basically no genetically engineered foods or crops anywhere in Europe, while 75 percent of U.S. supermarket foods—including many so-called "natural" foods—are GE tainted?

The answer is simple. In Europe genetically modified foods and ingredients have to be labeled. In the U.S. they do not. Up until now, in North America, Monsanto and the Biotechnocrats have enjoyed free reign to secretly lace non-organic foods with gene-spliced viruses, bacteria, antibiotic-resistant marker genes, and foreign DNA—mutant "Frankenfoods" shown to severely damage the health of animals, plants, and other living organisms in numerous scientific studies.

Monsanto and their allies understand the threat that truth-in-labeling poses for GMOs.

As soon as genetically modified foods start to be labeled in the U.S., millions of consumers will start to read these labels and react. They'll complain to grocery store managers and companies, they'll talk to their family and friends. They'll start switching to foods that are organic or at least GMO-free. Once enough consumers start complaining about GM foods and food ingredients; stores will eventually stop selling them; and farmers will stop planting them.

Genetically engineered foods have absolutely no benefit for consumers or the environment, only hazards.

This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from ever getting a public discussion, much less coming to a vote in Congress. And this is why activists are launching the California Ballot Initiative. By moving the battle from the federal level to the state level, by employing one of the last remaining tools of direct grassroots democracy in the USA, the ballot initiative, concerned consumers can bypass Washington and regain their fundamental right to know what they are eating.

Passing mandatory GMO labeling in just one large state, California, where there is tremendous opposition to GM foods as well as a multi-billion dollar organic food industry, will ultimately have the same impact as a national labeling law.

If California food and health activists succeed in putting a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot in 2012 and the voters pass it, the biotech and food industry will face an intractable dilemma. Will they dare put labels on their branded food products in just one state, California, admitting these products contain or may contain genetically engineered ingredients, while withholding this ingredient label information in the other states? Will they allow their organic and non-GMO competitors to drive down their GMO-tainted brand market share? The answer to both of these questions is likely no. What most of them will do is start to shift to organic and non-GMO ingredients, so as to avoid what the Monsanto executive 16 years ago aptly described as the "skull and crossbones" label.

California Label Laws Have National Impact: Proposition 65

A clear indication of the impact of warning labels on consumer products was established in California in 1986 when voters passed, over the strenuous opposition of industry, a ballot initiative called Proposition 65, which required consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels. Rather than label their products sold in California as likely carcinogenic, most companies reformulated their product ingredients so as to avoid warning labels altogether, and they did this on a national scale, not just in California.

This same scenario will likely unfold again in California in 2012. Can you imagine Kellogg's selling its Corn Flakes breakfast cereal in California with a label that admits it contains or may contain genetically engineered corn? How about Kraft Boca Burgers admitting that their soybean ingredients are genetically modified?

How about the entire non-organic food industry (including many so-called "natural" brands) admitting that 75 percent of their products are GE-tainted? Once food manufacturers and supermarkets are forced to come clean and label genetically engineered products, they will likely remove all GM ingredients, to avoid the "skull and crossbones" effect, just like the food industry in the EU has done. In the wake of this development American farmers will convert millions of acres of GM crops to non-GMO or organic varieties.

Finally consumers will be able to tell the difference between organic food (labeled as "organic" and thereby GMO-free); natural food (which will not have a GMO label), and bogus "natural" food (which will be required to display the label "contains or may contain GMOs").

What Now? OCA Needs Volunteers and Money

Since we don't have a couple of million dollars to spare like Monsanto does, we're going to have to rely on an army of volunteers to gather signatures. These volunteers can be trained and coordinated by our small but highly dedicated and experienced paid campaign staff and consultants, but for the most part we must drive this campaign forward with volunteer labor.

Please, Join Us and Take Action NOW!

Among other tasks over the next month, our staff and volunteer coordinators will be organizing several hundred short training sessions in local communities across California. These short and relatively simple training sessions--a couple of hours or less--will train our volunteers on what to do, where to go, and how to be effective in gathering signatures of registered voters to put the GE labeling measure on the ballot.

These training meetings, a number of which have already been successfully organized, will also enable volunteers to meet and get to know other volunteers in their local area.

We need to recruit, train and deploy a grassroots network of 2000+ California volunteers (each gathering 250 or more petition signatures over the 105 day period) and district coordinators in order to gather the 500,000-700,000 signatures of California registered voters over the 15-week period that extends between the first week of November 2011 and mid-March 2012.

These volunteers must be recruited, trained by our campaign staff in a meeting in their local area, and deployed in teams of 2 to 4 people in front of natural food stores and high volume pedestrian locations across California starting early in November.

In order to hit the ground running in early November we need your help now. We not only need petition gathering volunteers, we need money. OCA and our allied lobbying organization, the Organic Consumers Fund, estimate that we need to raise at least $80,000 over the next month in order to effectively pay our staff, consultants, and other campaign expenses.

If you live in California and are willing to attend a training session and then start collecting petition signatures (you will be part of a team of 2-4 people) in early November, sign up here.
Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort.
The future of our food supply literally depends upon the success of this campaign. Join us!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Am I the only one who has a hard time blogging regularly?

Photo credit: CanStockPhoto
What's the use?

It seems like no matter how hard I try, I can't get it together to blog regularly on this blog.

It isn't because I am no longer interested in homeschooling. I even added a curated blog to the mix a few months ago called "Homeschooling," in which I scour the web for articles of interest to those who are currently homeschooling or investigating homeschooling. You can see a little scrolling box in the right sidebar that shows recent article selections. The fact that I am no longer personally homeschooling is irrelevant.

It isn't because I am no longer interested in home business.  I do social media consulting and have a direct sales business on the side,  AND I have added a networking group to the mix in the last year to help local business owners form collaborative relationships. Cup of Coffee Networkers is a mix of brick-and-mortar small business owners, service providers, and home business owners involved in a variety of direct sales companies. We meet twice a week and even have an online meeting on Wednesday afternoons.

It isn't because I am no longer interested in writing. I love to write. I always manage to put in my two cents (or 25 cents) on each post I add to Homeschooling or the Cup of Coffee Networkers blog I started to showcase my local members here in NJ. OK, maybe the fact that I am managing some blogs for clients and writing for them eats into my desire to write.

It just seems like so many other things crowd in to fill up my day.  So, how do you make time to write? I would be glad to have any advice you could give me, and would be thrilled for you to leave your nugget of wisdom in the comments.

If you are a new visitor, welcome! Here are links to some of my favorite (ok, old) articles for you to check out and see if this is a blog you might want to revisit if I could ever get my act together and write something.

"Under Construction" - A Trip Down Internet Memory Lane

Carnival Atmosphere

Your Teacher Said WHAT?

25th Anniversary Edition - Wasn't 1985 Just the Other Day?

What's YOUR Secret?

Remembering 9/11

Lost in the Translation

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Facebook vs. Google + - What's Your Preference?

There is a fascinating debate going on, mostly on Google +,  about whether G+ will replace Facebook. I can't for the life of me see how some people will ever connect with G+. Right now it is populated with early adopters, techies, syndicators and curators, geeks, gadget freaks, and social media types. It seems to me almost like a combination of Facebook and Twitter, with a little Skype thrown in. Don't even know what I am taking about?


This poll was created by Brian Solis, possibly in response to a poll of PC Magazine readers in which fully 50% said they would abandon Facebook. I am reluctant to make a sweeping generalization about FB versus G+ based on that since most people (my age, particuarly) are not that technically inclined. I think it is a little like polling only the members of the NJ Education Association and then making a sweeping generalization about whether NJ Gov. Christie will be reelected.

I just don't see Great Aunt Millie who just figured out Facebook migrating to Google Plus. Many of my readers are not especially technically inclined, so I thought I would ask you. I don't mean to be insulting, it's just that you represent the person who is online but doesn't use, or know about, or care about all the bells and whistles. The person who likes to read blogs, but may be experiencing social media overload and is a little sick of the whole thing.

Kind of a reverse poll of the PCMag readers.

Be sure and comment on this post and let me know how you voted.
The poll ends in about 5 days, and Brian Solis will be writing about the results of the poll. Let your non-tech voice be heard! I will update you when he writes about it. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Influential Homeschoolers - From Presidents to Pop Stars

Tidewater News featured a nice article by Virginia homeschooling-mom-of-five Carolyn West about how homeschooling has changed over the last few decades.

One of the things I enjoyed about this post was the reminder of how many famous people were home schooled.

You might be amazed at the famous and influential people who were homeschooled — 14 presidents, including Abraham Lincoln; 28 heads of state, including Benjamin Franklin; military leaders like Douglas MacArthur; Supreme Court judges, including Sandra Day O’Connor; scientists such as Albert Einstein; artists like Da Vinci; religious leaders, including Jonathan Edwards; inventors, such as the Wright brothers; composers like Mozart; writers, including Mark Twain; educators, such as Booker T. Washington; performing artists like Whoopi Goldberg; and many business entrepreneurs, including Andrew Carnegie.
And these are only a few of hundreds of famous people known to have been educated at home. Let us remember that there was a time when all education was homeschooling.
There are a number of famous people who are currently educating their children at home as well, including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, and Darrell and Stevie Waltrip, just to name a few.
For an impressive and more comprehensive list of famous homeschooled Americans and influential people in history, visit

Much in the same way I had the privilege of raising my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, today's homeschooling families have the opportunity to teach their children through the grid of their particular worldview. I have actually known families who thought the public schools were too conservative!

Though I might have to take exception to the idea that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith or John and Kelly Travolta are educating their children at home constitutes an endorsement of homeschooling on any level. Most of us who were homeschooling back in the day did NOT do so in order to encourage our children to create videos like this.

Perhaps the Travolta's children will author a sequel to Dianetics.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Emergency Items That Run Out First


My thoughts and prayers are with those in the Midwest today who were slammed by storms and crazy weather in the last 24 hours, particularly those in Joplin, MO who have lost their homes.  I am also praying for those those who have been affected by the rising Mississippi River the last few weeks, and those who live in the area of the New Madrid fault who have had earthquakes on their minds as pundits have pondered recently what would happen there if we had a Big One in that area.

People used to laugh at us when we talked about being prepared. In fact, even I used to accuse my husband of being paranoid and thought it was just an unfortunate side effect of working for Homeland Security.

But preparedness is not just for "Survivalists" and "crazy people" who stockpile guns and live in caves Montana anymore. Preparedness is for everyone who has watched a weather report recently.

This list of emergency items was sent to me by a friend. These are the things that often are the first to run out in a time of panic.  You can laugh if you like, but think about the 70+ inches of snow we had this year in New Jersey and what might have happened if you lost power for about a week, or couldn't shovel out of your house.

Now would be a good time to think about laying in some of these supplies, especially if you are in an area that could be affected by tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

1. Portable Toilet
2. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (Buy clear oil.  If scare, stockpile)
3. Coleman Fuel
4. Charcoal and Lighter fluid
5. Cooking utensils (hand can opener, whisk, etc)
6. Propane Heaters and all accessories that go with it (extra propane, heads, etc)
7. Fishing accessories (line, hooks, bobbies, etc)
8. Basin to do laundry in/wash boards, etc
10. Cook stoves
11. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder
12. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
13. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
14. Garbage bags
15. Toilet paper, paper towels, hygiene items
16. Clothes pins/line/hangers
17. Coleman’s Pump Repair Kit
18. Matches
19. light sticks
20. Plastic Containers
21. Cast iron cookware
22. Fishing Supplies
23. Duct Tape
24. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
25. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
26. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
27. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
28. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
29. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
30. Paper plates/cups/utensils 
31. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
32. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
33. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
34. Lumber (all types)
35. Cots & Inflatable mattress’s
36. Lantern Hangers
37. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws, nuts & bolts
38. Paraffin wax
39. Goats/chickens

photo credit: Britt's Pics

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sorry, Harold, You Were Wrong. Again.

Well, I'm still here. And so are all my Christian friends. And my non-Christian friends.

And Harold Camping.

Sorry, Harold, you were wrong. Again.

You were wrong in 1994. And other clowns were wrong in 1988 and 1992.

"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." - Mark 13:32

"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. " - Matthew 24:36

What part of  "NO ONE KNOWS" did you not understand? Jesus said that even HE doesn't know the day or the hour. What ever gave you the idea that you had some secret knowledge not available even to the Son of God?  It embarrasses me to even think about it.

If there be any good from this it is that there have been more than a few serious conversations about the return of Christ that would never have happened. They may have started with people making fun of you, but they probably ended on a more sober note. Because Jesus IS coming back. You have that part right. Even if you were off on the "yesterday" part.

There have also been people who may not otherwise have thought about what they are doing with their lives. I pondered this in my Facebook status yesterday. You can bet if I believed that Jesus was coming back yesterday I would not have wanted him to "Find Me on Facebook."  How much time to we spend on distractions and foolish entertainment instead of loving and serving people and doing the good works God has "prepared in advance for us to do"?

No, I'm not getting rid of Facebook. Or even the addictive new social media/investing game I have been playing lately called Empire Avenue. But I am giving some serious thought to the proportion of time I am giving to the temporal instead of the eternal. 

A whole lot of joking has been going on in recent weeks about this, but it is time to remember that the return of Christ will be no laughing matter. Are you ready?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Next Survivor Series

Last year I wrote an article about redeeming email forwards. I was thinking that even though most email forwards are a waste of time, occasionally there is one that is totally worthy to be forwarded or posted on a blog.

To all mothers everywhere - this one's for you. Happy Mother's Day!


Six married men will be dropped on an island

with one car

and 3 kids each

for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports
and take either music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must

take care of his 3 kids;
keep his assigned house clean,
correct all homework,
complete science projects,
do laundry,
and pay a list of 'pretend' bills
with not enough money.

In addition,

each man
will have to budget enough money
for groceries each week.

Each man
must remember the birthdays
of all their friends and relatives,
and send cards out on time--no emailing.

Each man must also take each child
to a doctor's appointment,
a dentist appointment
and a haircut appointment.

He must make one unscheduled and
inconvenient visit per child to the

Emergency Room.

He must also make cookies or cupcakes
for a school function.

Each man will be responsible for

decorating his own assigned house,
planting flowers outside,
and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television

when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

The men must shave their legs,

wear makeup daily,

adorn themselves with jewelry,

wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes,

keep fingernails polished,

and eyebrows groomed

During one of the six weeks,

the men will have to endure severe
abdominal cramps, backaches, headaches,
have extreme, unexplained mood swings
but never once complain or slow down
from other duties.

They must attend weekly school meetings

and church,

and find time at least once to spend
the afternoon at the park 
or a similar

They will need to read a book to the kids
each night

and in the morning,

feed them,

dress them,

brush their teeth and
comb their hair

by 7:30 am.

A test will be given

at the end of the six weeks,

and each father will be required to know

all of the following information:

each child's

height, weight,
shoe size, clothes size,
doctor's name,
the child's weight at birth,
length, time of birth,
and length of labor,
each child's favorite color,
middle name,
favorite snack,
favorite song,
favorite drink,
favorite toy,
biggest fear,
and what they want to be when they grow up.

The kids vote them off the island based on performance.

The last man wins only if...

he still

has enough energy

to be intimate with his spouse

at a moment's notice.

If the last man does win,

he can play the game over and over and over

again for the next 18-25 years,

eventually earning the right

to be called Mother!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Passion of the Christ - Facebook Style

Here is another retread from 2009, but with an update - the original website where it appeared has gone offline! I managed to locate a PDF of it on another website. You can click on the picture to go to that PDF file.

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Here is a clever retelling of the Easter Story as if it appeared on Facebook. I found it in From a comment in the story: "I'm going to go on a limb and say I don't think God holds himself above satire. Since really when you think about it, what is the point of satire? It brings more clearly into focus the truth of the object of satire. Which in his case, is something worth thinking on."

I thought this was worth sharing with Christians, those who really love satire, or anyone who really appreciates Facebook. It could be the funniest thing you read all day, or the most offensive. It is satirical - if you are too religious to have a sense of humor, don't bother. If you are too much of an atheist to click on something about Christ, don't bother. And it is coming from a particular theological stance that I do not agree with. But I know that some of my readers wouldn't agree with ANY theological stance, so what difference? I am taking a cue from St. Paul as we wind our way through the holiest week on the Christian calendar: "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." Phil 1:18

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

They Gave Us Six Months

Originally published 4/20/2009 in this space. Far and away my most popular post ever. Repeated here again, because I still have the best husband in the world.

I was a liberal feminist. He was Mr. "God's Plan for the Family". I was a Democrat, he was a Republican. I had lived on my own for the previous ten years. He was still living at home at age 27.

I was also a not-Italian, not-Catholic, hard-nosed Wall Street bitch who my future mother-in-law was certain would break her Italian Prince's heart. I was one of "those" Christians, from that Bible thumping "protestante" church he had been attending. Surely I wasn't the right girl for him.

We had nothing in common. I had a subscription at the Metropolitan Opera. He had made up a number of songs mocking opera. I had deliberately moved from the Atlanta suburbs to New York and lived in Manhattan. He was from Jersey City, and he hated New York. He hated Jersey City, too, and devoted his life to trying to get to the suburbs. He hated museums, opera, and ballet. I hated guns, cop shows, and techno-gadget crap.

He had a really sophomoric sense of humor. Too many puns, too much rhyming, too much slapstick. It was Monty Python and Hugh Laurie vs. Leslie Nielsen and the Three Stooges. Jonathan Swift vs. "There was a young man from Nantucket..."

I was headstrong, he was controlling. I was daring, even reckless. He was ridiculously cautious. The irresistible force meets the immovable object.

They gave us six months.

But we knew something they didn't know. He had gone home after the first time we met and announced that he had met the woman he was going to marry. I had heard from God that "this is the one you prayed for." OK, so my response was "Lord, you've gotta be kidding." The fact was that the time we spent together confirmed that we DID have in common the only thing that we had to have in common to make it work: Jesus Christ.

Has it been easy? No.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

The foundation we built on sustained us through poverty and plenty, "the Cesspool", church difficulties, political strife, the Pets from Hell, health crises, 2 difficult pregnancies and 2 miscarriages, the deaths of all our parents, buying a house with no money, six years caring for my cantankerous aunt with Alzheimer's, homeschooling, internet marketing, family catastrophes, Homeland Security, spiritual crises, and living in New Jersey. We have survived stresses that would have sunk nine out of ten other marriages.

Maybe ten out of ten.

Twenty four six years later, I am more sure than ever that I made the right choice. That I really did hear from the Lord. That my husband is the one and only that I prayed for.

Happy anniversary, honey. I love you more than you'll ever know.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." - Matthew 7:24-27