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Setting Your Own Hoops January 21, 2011

Posted by Beth in Education, Personal.
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My daughter is trying to decide whether or not to take two AP classes next year.

The work is demanding, although not particularly enriching or even of clear educational value. Yet—to take the “regular” courses is to be separated from the bright, motivated and more responsible kids in the school. Yet—the shear volume of work will make it difficult for her to have the time to let her musical creativity blossom.

The decision is hers, and it is not an easy one. What I am trying to help her do is to make the decision based on her own goals. To let her know that she can take the harder classes, and get whatever she wants to get out of them, i.e. not stress about the grades–or she can take the less challenging courses and concentrate on activities which are more meaningful for her.

The fundamental point which came to me and that I hope she can understand and accept is that school is a tool for her to help her reach the goals she sets for herself. It is not a measure of her intelligence, or competence, or worth as an individual. The grades are important only as the means to achieve what she wants to achieve in her own life.

The world is full of people who can successfully jump through hoops—-hoops that others create and set the standards for.

What the world needs more of are people capable of identifying and generating their own values. People who are able to take their own measure and ask questions like: Does school measure up to my standards, my needs, my values…rather than do I measure up to theirs.

This is not to say that external measurements are worthless, only that they must be held in the context of one’s own personal goals, values and standards.

This is one of the gifts our friend Auri gave to those who were lucky enough to know him. He not only set his own hoops, he spent his life helping others set theirs.  Gently. Lovingly. Truly an inspiration. Thanks, Auri.

Happy Wrapping Day December 24, 2010

Posted by Beth in Personal.
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‘And the paper WAS festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman.

And Joseph WAS going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, she saideth, `Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!’

And Joseph DID rolleth his eyeballs.

And the baby Jesus WAS more interested in the paper than, for example, the frankincense.’

“But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving

those gifts had two important characteristics:

1. They were wise.

2. They were men.”

Dave Barry via GVH

I am not one to spend a lot of time wrapping Christmas presents. Mostly because they just get lost in the jumble underneath the tree. I can however appreciate the thought and the beauty of a well-wrapped gift and had quite a bit of fun searching for these images on the internet.

Sometimes, it’s all in discovering the right paper and bow:

Other times, simplicity itself becomes an artful display:

Or, the right placement of one unusal ornament:

Or unusual materials:



A scarf    

A door hanger

Or just the creative use of ribbon:

Some can feel like one of a kind:

Others are a new way to present an old gift:

For those who want the “homemade” loook

but without the actual bother of doing it,

check out CrapWrap: “a wrapping service so shoddy the gift’s recipient will be left in no doubt that her partner did it himself”

(A perfect example for Carpe Diem’s Market’s in Everything)


For those of you with time, and a creative flair…


But no matter how you wrap your presents,

be sure to wrap yourselves in friends and family.

That’s what this season is truly all about.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

Peace on Earth. Good will toward men.

It’s a Better World October 27, 2010

Posted by Beth in Music, Personal.
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I love my friend Auri, and he loves….well, you’ll see.
The world is a better place because of Auri.

Go Giants!
Do it for Auri.

I am the Tea Party Leader February 24, 2010

Posted by Beth in Uncategorized.
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The Tea Party movement has been called “astroturf” by its enemies in attempts to belie its genuine grassroots origin. Proponents of Big Government are threatened by us little guys rallying across the country in droves, protesting government intrusions into out private lives–especially since Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts.

According to BigGovernment.com, former-Presidnet Clinton and James Carville, a political commentator and Clinton’s presidential campaign strategist,  plan

“to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign.”

Wish them luck. I wonder who they will find?

In the spirit of Sparticus, the Tea Party Patriots have decided to help Clinton and Carville in their search.

Tea, any one? One lump or two?

(HT TIA Daily)

What is it about High School? January 17, 2010

Posted by Beth in Education, Miscellaneous Musings, Personal.
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I am reading an interesting article pointed out to me by Janine Cate at Why Homeschool on the social experience in Jr. High and High School relative to the social experience in “the real world.”  This reminded me of some thoughts I have had tumbling around in the back of my mind about the high school experience in general.

I have watched my son go through high school and pretty much languish. Nothing seems to have inspired him. He started out gung-ho as a freshman, but each year since, he has seemed more and more apathetic about his classes, uninterested in actual learning or working to acquire skills for the future. Granted, he is in a government school, which is less than ideal, but when it became obvious that he needed to get out on his own away from me and homeschooling, that’s the alternative we chose. Where we live, any private school would have been a 30-45 minute commute each way, and both he and I wanted to stay within our community. I knew of good kids who seemed to have thrived at the school, so we thought it would be ok. I am not sure we made the wrong choice, but it definitely has its down sides.

Lately, it has struck me just how much like a prison the high school has become under the control of a new principal. The last one wasn’t so great either, but had a healthy dose of benign neglect that now I am missing.

So, what is it about high school?

I do think the social scene is better than in Jr. High. The kids are a bit more mature and not so cruel. There are definitely opportunities for growth—-although less so academically than in the extra-curricular activities offered. A passage from the article I mentioned above has a clue:

I think the important thing about the real world is not that it’s populated by adults, but that it’s very large, and the things you do have real effects. That’s what school, prison, and ladies-who-lunch all lack. The inhabitants of all those worlds are trapped in little bubbles where nothing they do can have more than a local effect. Naturally these societies degenerate into savagery. They have no function for their form to follow.

When the things you do have real effects, it’s no longer enough just to be pleasing. It starts to be important to get the right answers.

To this I would add, you also have a much greater degree of choice.

I don’t think that high school has to be like a prison—although I can see that avoiding this atmosphere would be very difficult for a government school whose main thrust is complying with compulsory attendance laws. I mean, what’s the big difference between a high school senior and a college freshman? I don’t think it’s the kids that change so much over the summer–but something is clearly different in the college environment that makes it a superior experience, while high school is marginal at best. A big part of that is the degree of choice college students have–not just in whether or not to even be there, but also in the classes they can take.

I have tried to do what I can to help my kids work outside of the box the high school tries to lock them in. Both only went half-time as freshman and both are taking advantage of courses offered at the local community college to better meet their unique interests. Both know that they don’t have to be there–that there are workable alternatives.

However, with the bulk of their curriculum uninspiring and with minimal alternatives, the emphasis in high school turns to the social scene. For those whose strengths are academic not social, it’s a tough ride.

At this point for my son (he’s a senior), I can only hope that once he gets to college, he will find a way to reignite his spark. My daughter, who has 3 1/2 more years left, has immersed her self in the extra-curricular activities and social scene. It will be interesting to see how she navigates her remaining time there.