Saturday, April 30, 2005

My son’s perception of the normalcy of homeschooling

Two weeks ago my children were walking ahead of me. Son, 4.5 asked, “Some kids go to school, and we are homeschooled, are more kids in school than are homeschooled?” This son is very much in tune with what others are doing, comparing himself to others, for example, refusing to wear a certain rugby shirt as he said he has never seen anyone else wear a shirt like that so therefore the rugby shirt is weird and not cool. I have no clue where he got this comparison thing from or where he is learning the meaning of the word cool or how he is learning what is cool vs. what is not cool. None of this is being taught to him by our family! This son is also very much a follower and wants to do what the other children are doing even if it means abandoning what he knows of rules, proper conduct, etc. This is the son that right now would jump off a bridge if another child said it sounded like a good thing to.

Anyway, I dreaded answering his question, as I knew that when I explained that many more children go to school vs. homeschool, that he’d be crushed, as he so much wants to be just like other children. While I thought about how to answer, my older son piped up with a reply that lots of kids are homeschooled and that some go to school but lots are homeschooled. I can’t remember the exact wording but it was phrased in a way that implied that more children were homeschooled than went to school. My younger son was happy with that answer so I didn’t say a word.

I was amazed that my older son is under the impression that more children are homeschooled than are schooled. I got to thinking about this and realized perhaps it is because all of his life he has been going to events for homeschoolers and meets so many homeschooled children. He meets homeschooled children once or twice and never sees them again, giving the impression that there are a lot of homeschooled children (not just a handful that he is close friends with and sees on a frequent basis). My children have friends who go to school and I assumed they somehow knew the large numbers of American children who go to school (about 99%, little does he know). I guess my assumption was wrong. I never have explained to them that most children go to school. I guess I assumed by seeing so many school busses on the road and in bus parking lots or by seeing the large size of the public schools, that they’d figure it out!

I had another thought that unlike me, he doesn’t realize how many children that he sees are school children. For example when we attend the Cub Scout pack meetings with over 40 Scouts and their siblings, he may possibly assume that some are homeschooled rather than assume that they all go to school and he is one of the two Cub Scouts in town who are homeschooled! When we attended the Little League picnic last year and saw hundreds of children who participate in Little League, he possibly didn’t realize that he was the only homeschooled child there (as he was the only elementary school child in town being homeschooled that did Little League last year). As for family, all of their cousins go to school. I decided that at his age it is fine to let him go on thinking this way, so I didn’t correct him. My sensitive younger son certainly doesn’t need to know how much in the minority he is at this age and stage!

Friday, April 29, 2005

An observation about socialization at a Little League practice

Earlier this week, my older son had his first Little League gathering, which happened to be a game. According to the roster, the children on this team are in Kindergarten (the majority), First (next in line) and Second grade (just three players including my son). I don’t know what his expectations were regarding his feelings about knowing or not knowing the other children on the team. It turns out that he did not know anyone on his team or on the opposing team. He just joined in and did what he was told and played the game and enjoyed it.

Also earlier this week, my 4.5 year-old son had his first Little League gathering, which was a practice. The members of the team were girls and boys who could be in preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade (until I receive the roster of players I won’t know officially who is in which grade). This son is shy and tends to be reserved and quiet when he is in groups of people who he does not know. With that said he has no problem entering groups or participating in things such as this. As we drove to the practice I suggested that to make friends he introduce himself (and I gave directions on how to do this). He said he didn’t want to, as he was shy. I didn’t comment. When it came time to start practicing he went right in and joined in. By the way, he is the smallest player on the team. I then noticed an interaction taking place on the sidelines. A boy who was more than a full head higher than my son was loudly protesting to his mother that he didn’t want to put his new uniform shirt on and that he didn’t want to join in with the team (who were all on the field practicing). He seemed to me to be about 6 years old and perhaps in first grade. He looked much too big to be a Kindergartener or preschooler based on comparing him to the other children on the team and what I knew of my older son’s stature. He said that he didn’t see any of his friends from school there, that none were in his class, and therefore didn’t want to be on that team. He loudly proclaimed he wanted to change teams or else he’d not do Little League. The mother was speaking in a low voice and I could not hear her consolations but after about ten minutes he finally joined in with the others.

A light bulb went off in my head that this is yet another example of the socialization of school children vs. homeschooled children—and guess what, in this case the schooled child is the one who seems to be lacking social skills! GASP! If school is so great at socializing children, then why would a schooled boy be afraid to play on a Little League team just because he didn’t know anyone on the team? If school properly teaches children to interact with others, then why would he refuse to be on a team just because others from his class were not on his team? I also thought at that moment, that perhaps due to homeschooling, both of my children are always prepared to come into new events not knowing the other children, just because that has been the norm for them, from joining in with homeschooling paid academic classes, field trips with other homeschoolers, sports events with the town’s children, or doing things in public (i.e. visiting a museum). From a young age they have been used to joining into groups in which they don’t know any other children, and neither has ever expressed a refusal to participate just because they don’t know anyone else. It is the norm for my children to be introduced into groups in which they don’t know other participants. My older son is more outgoing and can easily introduce himself to strangers and start conversations. As I said before, my younger son is more shy and quiet at first, but later warms up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lost In Spam! Which is worse: spam or telemarketing phone calls?

I am lost in spam. I am not sure what can be done about it. I use Outlook Express as my email program because the Yahoo email that comes with my ISP is way too time consuming to deal with. I have certain subject emails going to certain folders, which is great. My general inbox, which is for emails from friends and anyone else who emails me directly, is clogged.

Last month we bought the McAfee anti-virus program, which includes a spyware detector and a spam filter. My complaint about this is that for each single spam email I have to click on the spam button and it takes about 4 seconds to flag it as spam and delete it. Four seconds can add up quickly, especially on days when I have nearly 100 spam emails.

Within Outlook Express I have a filter for keywords such as Viagra, Vicodin, and the many crude slang terms for body parts. However it seems that some companies are getting around this by putting their text within a graphic file, which is not detected by programs that search for regular text words. Then there are the purposeful misspellings of words such as inserting a zero instead of the letter “o” and the stretching out of words such as CCCIIIIAAALLLLIIIISSS. I never knew there was a big market for buying prescription drugs online, but I digress.

Something that cropped up last month are lots of emails telling me that I qualified to receive a free Circuit City gift card. I emailed Circuit City to tell them that I am sick of getting these emails and that I didn’t know if they were genuine or not but they are so annoying as to move me to boycott their stores. I received a response that they are legitimate emails and that they sold a large number of these gift cards to third party companies who are using them as promotions.

I have been thinking how lately we are no longer plagued with telemarketing phone calls. A multiple layer system of government and private industry measures has accomplished this. First was caller ID that we pay our phone company a fee to be able to use. Next our phone company offered with their package, something called Privacy Manager in which certain companies must say who they are and we are rung by the phone company asking if we wish to speak to this person. This must be annoying to the genuine business callers who are phoning my husband in response to his job application to their firms! Thirdly we registered with our state’s do not call registry and finally, with the later-created Federal equivalent. Our phone is silent now except for the donation request calls from charities and a few marketing survey calls.

I was thinking, though, that I am spending a lot more TIME on spam and dealing with deleting and flagging the spam emails. The four seconds it takes to flag and delete them is enough for me to see the sometimes-repulsive graphics within their message or to see what they are selling. So they are giving me mental clutter and annoying me despite my attempts to avoid reading their messages!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My comments on The Oprah Show: “A Mother’s Controversial Confession”

While folding post-vacation laundry today, I watched a Tivo’ed Oprah episode that aired last week called “A Mother’s Controversial Confession”. It was a very frustrating episode to watch. The show was a follow-up to a New York Times article written by a mother; the author/mother was on the show to further discuss her point. Apparently since the article appeared in the 3/27/05 issue, it has been talked about by a lot of people including being a topic of discussion on “The View”.

The main point, which started off the show, was the mother/author saying that some mothers get into a romantic relationship with their children and the romance between the wife and husband is non-existent. She then stated, “She loves her husband more than her children”. I was completely confused as had never heard any mother say they felt romantic-love feelings toward their children, which I feel is warped. I feel that a mother’s love is a different and deep love. To me a romantic love is another thing completely. Yet another kind of love is what a person feels towards their own parents (such as me to my parents) and how a person may love a sibling. Still yet another kind of love is what we feel toward our close friends.

The mother/author was really putting down “supermoms” that put past personal friendships on hold once children arrive on the scene. She also talked a lot about the sex lives of couples and said that any decrease in frequency due to the mother saying she is tired is a shame. My overall impression was that all married mothers, even of young children, should be having hot, heavy, frequent sex in order to sustain the marriage; this was termed such that the man deserves to have his needs met. Unlike other Oprah shows, this show did not give any pity at all to mothers who are doing a lot, while the husband gives little help. For example one mother of four whose story was shown in video clips, explained that by 7:00pm she is busy doing homework with four children while her husband sits by himself to watch television. It was made clear in later discussion that this husband doesn’t help at all with meals, clean up, or homework. She stated he liked his routine of being alone and watching Tivo’ed television shows. She then explained by the time she got them off to bed, that she was too tired for intimate relations. This poor woman got no sympathy and instead was said to be doing their marriage a disservice.

Some women on the show tried to explain that marriages have seasons, and when there are babies or young children in the house, that the attention goes to them. Some said they planned and hoped as the children got a little older they would have more energy and would dedicate that to having more lovemaking sessions. These women were put down and the notion that this behavior would and could drive some men to affairs, later leading to divorce, was quite possible, and all due to their refusal to keep their husband happy with frequent sex!

Breastfeeding was mentioned twice. One mother told a story of having her first child, then a newborn, nursing at the breast and her husband said, “I’ve lost my best friend”. The mother gave sympathy and asked who died and he replied that she used to be his best friend but was now gone, as she was dedicated to caring for their baby! This mother was so sad and agreed that she let him down. I really got worked up over that one! Since when is meeting a baby’s need to be fed a problem? The second time breastfeeding was mentioned was by a representative of some league of fathers group who said that women should remember why they first fell in love with their spouses. He then said, “Do you think when your husband first saw the upper part of your body he thought, “those look like good breasts for breastfeeding my future baby?” I gagged at this one. He went on to say that dating couples don’t evaluate each other based on future thoughts of how the other would fare as a parent. I beg to differ. Both my husband and I did think about what kind of person we wanted to be a parent to our future children and based partly on this, led to our decision to marry each other. I have been in serious romantic relationships in the past when I realized that indeed I did not want and could not imagine that person (who I did sincerely love) as a parent to my future children! My recognition of this fact helped me see that they were not relationships that would result in marriage. (Perhaps if more dating couples thought about this there would be a lower divorce rate?)

My main issue with the show is that I think by the end I thought the author/mother did have some points but that she was using the wrong wording. I think the point was that intimacy might lag in a marriage, especially while the children are babies. However I didn’t like the wording that a mother has a romantic love for her children (yuck—that to me sounds like something to do with incest and pedophilia).

I would have liked to hear more concrete examples. For example, when Oprah put down “supermoms”, I’d like to hear what the definition is. Is a supermom the one who volunteers to help her child’s organization (i.e. PTA)? Is it okay to just always be a participant? Is a supermom one who overschedules her child—if so, then I agree as a society we should downshift to stop this overscheduling thing.

It seems more and more our society is judgmental of mothers. Some say we don’t do enough, some say we do too much. Some say mothers are entitled to a career and children should come second, while others think children should come first.

I was also wondering if a stay at home mom could be a supermom, if one homeschools their children, are we automatically considered supermoms? It would seem likely that if we not only take care of our children but also educate them at home, that these labelers would definitely say, we are automatically supermoms!

If you want to read some of the conversation on the Oprah message boards about this show, see here.

I fear Little League will take over our life…

Older son (7.5) asked that Little League coach-pitch baseball be his one sport to do from January through June. Limiting him to one sport was a dual attempt to limit sports for budgetary purposes and to limit time we spend on outside activities so that they do not take over our family life and hinder our homeschooling plans (education being the top priority for our children—not sports). Another important reason was so that outside activities don’t derail our attempts at a close family connection; eating a home cooked, healthy content-dinner together being one major family tradition and way of maintaining a family bond. Son (7.5) is not a big sports person, meaning his is not focused on sports as a hobby as a spectator or a participant. This son would rather play with LEGOs, ride his bike, play board and card games and play imaginative play with friends rather than throw a ball around (by himself or with friends).

My younger son (4.5) is the athletic one. He can run faster than his older brother at this point and if a ball is lying around he gravitates toward it. He is completely occupied when given a ball and a bat and is given free time to play by himself. He was only one year old when he began putting the ball on the T and hitting it (despite the fact that he had to higher than his head to hit it). Much to my surprise he seems to have a natural talent for hitting and catching the ball, meaning his ability for these fine-motor skills has been much earlier than the developmental milestones as laid out by “experts”. When I found out that this son was of an age to participate in Little League T-ball, I asked if he wanted to do it (although I already knew the answer was yes). So now I have two children in Little League.

The paperwork to sign up arrived in January or February (which at the time seemed way too early to me). I sent the paperwork and payment in March, delaying a bit as I didn’t know if my husband would be offered a job out of state or not. (So far, there is still no job, still not moving.) What I didn’t know at the time I made the payment was how often coach-pitch would have practice or games, or which days of the week (was there anything on Saturday?) and how long were the games? I already knew from past experience that T-ball is generally twice per week, right at dinnertime on weekdays. I also realized that I might have an issue with conflicting schedules—what if both boys had Little League at the same time? The fields for each are at opposite ends of town; this could be a problem since I am one of the Nanny-less families in town. I can’t divide and conquer! Well perhaps with my husband unemployed we can arrange to divide and conquer between the two of us.

The communications from Little League to our family (as participants) continued to be nil until the late afternoon before we left for a family spring-break vacation. It happened to also be the same week that the public school has school vacation, and based on what other parents have said, it seems nearly every family in town was going away for spring break. First I got a phone call (while in the midst of last minute packing), that younger son would have practice while we were out of town, and the first game was the second night that we were home. I then received an email at 6:30pm (good thing I was taking a packing break and using it to check email) saying that older son had two practices while we were out of town and the first game the first night that we were home. I scrambled to call the coach to say that I had no other information. Come to find out I never received the first email with coach name, the schedule, other team member names, etc. I was able to get that information and was surprised to see that there were two games per week (at dinnertime) and a Saturday practice.

I had no time to investigate anything further so finished packing and went on the trip. My first priority for the first day home was not to unpack or buy groceries but to figure out what we needed to do to get ready for that first game, for that night. I am a perfectionist and as part of that felt obligated to attend that first game despite the inconvenience for our family and of course my son had to be in proper uniform! (I was surprised that the coaches didn’t explain to us what we had to do to outfit our children.) I scrambled and was happy to finally reach a friend whose son did coach-pitch last year. Come to find out we definitely needed those white baseball pants and a pair of cleats. I was able to secure a pair of hand-me-down pants from one friend. Another friend had handed-down a pair of cleats and I had my son try those on (they fit, thank goodness). I didn’t expect to get the hand-me-downs so had already planned on going to the sports store. We went anyway and bought a pitch-back (so both children could use it to practice on, knowing the older son needed it most but that the younger son would love it and may use it more often). We also bought a cheap thing, which was on sale that goes around a small tree or pole that you swing the ball and they hit it, for practice. Oh, and we did get the grocery shopping done! We arrived home from the errands just in time to put the groceries away then off and running to the game. I realized when we went to get into the car that we nearly forgot his glove, and retrieved it from the storage bin in the garage (untouched since last Little League season).

As we arrived there, two minutes early from posted game time, I was surprised to see that we were one of the last to arrive. I noticed my son didn’t have his cleats on, he had forgotten about them and I had failed to double-check his appearance (Bad Mommy!). He was the only one on the field with regular sneakers on, sigh. The coaches were nice and quickly handed him his uniform. Although the paperwork I received by email said they granted him his request to have his favorite number, the coach said they gave the children at the practices first pick (okay, I can understand that). My son settled for one of the other numbers. (Oddly, the uniform with his favorite number was not present at the game. Hmmm.)

I was surprised at the talent of some of the players. Some could really slam that ball. I watched painfully as one of the boys took about 15 attempts to hit the ball. The coach said the policy is to keep throwing it until they hit it. I was worried about my son. After about six strikes he fouled the ball, then tipped it, and finally hit it weakly and they were off and running. I vowed immediately to begin practicing with him. It also seemed he was afraid of the ball. I also wondered if my husband had ever sat down and explained the game to him. Apparently this was not the case as on the way home from the game my husband offered to sit down and teach him how the game is played. It is funny how after a season of T-ball (last year), I realized they never did explain the game, they just gave directions for what to do at that immediate moment (hit the ball and run to the base), etc. We don’t watch baseball on television and rarely attend games. The one game we did attend while on a trip to Houston was to see an Astro’s game. The field was built on the former site of a railroad station and had a steam locomotive, which tooted and chuffed back and forth across the stadium at certain points in the game. Older son, being a train aficionado, spent more time looking at the train than the game, I think, that is, before he fell asleep in the fourth inning!

Anyway it was apparent again this year that my ability to watch the game was hindered by tending to my younger son. He had refused to wear a coat, but when the sun hid behind the clouds and the wind began to blow, he was cold. We had to make the long hike back to the car to get his coat. I had water in hand and his glove and ball, but he refused both and asked for food. Back to the car for the second half of his sub, left over from the trip to the deli during afternoon errands. The game went on longer than I ever knew it would, lasting over 90 minutes. My younger son didn’t make it in the cold and begged to sit in the car. Husband and I divided and conquered again and I happily went to sit in the car with the heater on until the game ended. How a mother is to do all this if she is alone is beyond me. What is even harder for me to contemplate is the mothers with three and four children. (How does one meet all the needs of the children, let alone get them to their events and enjoy watching them?) It used to be that having two children was blasé and three was common, but in my town, it seems the more common thing is to have four children. So around me were moms with older children hanging around, a toddler, and some pregnant. And here I am feeling overwhelmed with two children (no toddlers) and not pregnant!

Anyway, I still don’t have the T-ball schedule and have no clue of the potential conflicts. Younger son wants to know the name of the team but it was never told to me. It seems 5 hours per week, spread over 3 days will be the time commitment for older son. We will see what happens when I find out what is in store for younger son. This underscores for me that we should really evaluate what the benefits of outside activities are and do a cost/benefit analysis. Other concerns of mine are how will I plan and feed our family healthy food (fast food is very tempting in these situations!) Will we be able to sit down together or will dinner morph into granola bars eaten in the car on the way to or from a game? Will our dinner consist of the hot dogs sold at the hot dog cart at the baseball field? Also, this throws a monkey wrench in my plans to take cardio exercise classes at the gym, as the only ones I can take conflict directly with these Little League games. I am forming an alternate plan to farm out Little League to my husband while I run off to the gym….

I am already seeing how “just” participating in an activity can take over a family’s life, and we are only in week two!

Monday, April 25, 2005

My Book Hunting Dream

This morning I had my first book-hunting dream. It was very detailed and realistic. This came out of nowhere as we had just arrived home from a vacation last night, and homeschooling and books have not been on my mind at all in the last 9 days.

The dream:
A homeschooling friend said her church was having a large book sale as a fundraiser. I arrived when the sale began. There was a nonfiction section of children’s books and only two other mothers were there looking through the books (no book dealers). Nearly every book that I looked at was something I wanted to buy. I grabbed an empty box and began filling it up. I thought that elderly parishioners must have donated these books, as there were so many out of print, rare books, such as Signature biographies and Landmarks. I found Thornton Burgess books that are long out of print and hard to find. Book after book was a terrific find. I quickly filled four boxes! I then found a box of leather craft kits, which were replicas of Native American items, which I figured I’d buy to have the scouts in my Cub Scout Den make. I then found a bunch of like-new Star Wars books and even a book that came with a Luke Skywalker costume (combination kit). There were so many books and I was in my glory. It was fun to pick up one book after another and think, “Wow, I’ve not seen this before, this will be fun to read and use in our homeschooling!”

What a way to wake up! Anyway it was fun having a book-hunting dream. I have not been to a library book sale in nine months! I am deep into the mode of using what I have on hand and feeling like I have a lot of great material here already rather than being tempted to buy something else that I may not really need.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

About “Valerie’s Living Books” website

Here is my favorite website that focuses on using living books for homeschooling. Valerie Jacobson is a homeschooling mother of ten children who shares her wealth of knowledge about rare and out of print children’s books with us, free of charge, on her website: www.valerieslivingbooks.com. Here you will find reviews and information about wonderful authors and books, over 100 articles!

Valerie has a blog, at this URL.

Valerie is the listowner of a YahooGroup! which discusses living books: called “bookroom”. If you are interested in joining, click here.

Over 1000 members from around the world come together to discuss books, ask for suggestions for books on certain subjects and to discuss book hunting and OBCD (obsessive book collecting disorder)!

A separate YahooGroup! is for people to view living books for sale by other members, or for people who want to sell living books to other members; it is called “Bookroom-FS”. Currently there are over 500 members. For more information about joining, see here.

Valerie sells books on her website and on Ebay; her Ebay seller id is “VaJacob” and you can view her current Ebay auctions and feedback here.

Presently Valerie is selling off some rare, collectible books on Ebay, in order to raise money for a down payment on a house. Check it out, you may find a gem here and if you bid you will help Valerie earn income!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Middle schoolers having sex? In public school? On school busses? Rainbow Parties? What is going on?!?

What is going on in the public school busses and public schools apparently all over America AND in the county I live in? And sex parties in private homes? Gasp—“not in my town” was what I first thought, and apparently that is what parents all over America are saying! But we are wrong, it does happen in our towns! I heard last week of an oral sex incident on a school bus in my town, an 8th grade girl gave “a birthday present” to a boy-- performing oral sex on him, with onlookers! I believe most kids are 12 going on 13 in 8th grade, right? What is going on that the attitude now is that things like that are done at all at that age, or in public places or intentionally with people watching, even at school or on a school bus, and there is no stigma? What is happening?

Perhaps another thing that irks me is the complete lack of coverage of this in my town’s newspaper. I would think this tidbit of information would be something that parents and citizens would like to know about. If the village is to raise the children, then the villagers should know what the children are doing!

I think that the public schools should play a larger role in "in loco parentis". It seems crazy to me that anything from verbal bullying to fighting to sex can happen on a bus or even in the school. It seems as each year goes on we hear more and more about “what really goes on” and sometimes video footage shows it…such as the incident last year where a brutal girl-girl bullying incident was filmed by school bus video cameras. The girls and parents were interviewed on television (I can’t remember if it was on the Oprah show or the Dr. Phil show). When there is video footage, it gets hard to deny or refuse to believe. Also as the years go on we seem to have more and more psychologists saying the damaging effects of bullying, but still nothing changes. If the schools keep kids for so many hours per day and with long bus rides, why can’t they take more of a role to prevent this from happening?

Let us also consider that when our citizens have sex when under the age of consent, it is an illegal activity! In my state the age of consent is 16. When 12 and 13 year old middle school students can have various forms of sex during the school day in the school building and on the school bus, it is illegal, and something is very wrong, and I think something should be done about it! I have a theory that there are moral issues at play here. Perhaps the continued notion of late that public schools are a place to provide information not values and morals has finally taken its toll?

The reason that I thought of "in loco parentis” is because my husband has spoken of it being the policy at his alma mater and that we hear so much from the public education folks that socialization is a very important role that public schools play. If this is true, how can they justify condoning and allowing illegal sexual activity to take place in the school and on the bus? Is this considered acceptable "socialization"?

I found on the web, two graduates of my husband’s University, putting down this Catholic University’s continuation of the policy of “in loco parentis”. I was surprised to read this letter to the editor dated spring 2004:

“The title "What's So Great about Notre Dame?" gives one a warm, cozy connotation of provocative intimacy and ethical superiority. And while the musings and remembrances are nostalgic, we must take dead issue with a clear theme of the article. Specifically that it is "great" and "special" for Notre Dame to have single-sex dorms, parietals, in loco parentis and "SMC chicks." We are considerably shocked to think that there are still people in the third millennium who champion parietals and university babysitting. I dare say a majority of the alumni and a nearly unanimous student body do not feel the same. What was distinctive and "Catholic" for the 1960 and '70s is downright absurd and ludicrous for 2004.’

I have deleted the author's names, if you want to see their names, click on the link. The letter was co-signed by two graduates of the class of 1973 and 1974 who are now married.

The original article was a list of submissions from the alma maters published in the Winter 2003-2004 issue of Notre Dame magazine, What's So Great About Notre Dame? and “in loco parentis” was one "great thing" on the list.

To compound my thinking about this issue, last night my husband and I viewed a Dr. Phil show which aired on April 4, 2005 Too Old or Too Young for Babies and Sex?”". A portion of the show was an interview and discussion with a 55 year-old divorced mother who used fertilized embryos, which were prepared when she was married and undergoing infertility treatment, while to get pregnant. She and her husband never did have children while they were married. Later they divorced, and she chose to get impregnated with the previously frozen embryos, and at the age of 52, she birthed her first child and recently gave birth to her second child at age 55. She said that her earlier years were spend in getting a college and law degree and having a successful law career. She then went on to say how fulfilling motherhood is and that it is such a great thing. But then she went on to state that she and other mothers in their 50s can and do make better mothers than women in their 20s and 30s as they want to be mothers. Speak for yourself, lady! Some of us put our careers on hold to have babies in our 20s and 30s because we were ready for motherhood and wanted to be mothers. But I digress.

Then I saw that Dr. Phil was asking the question “how young is too young to have a baby and to have sex” I was happy to see that SOMEONE in the media is asking these questions! I know some people don’t like Dr. Phil or the show but I applaud him for raising moral issues and bringing these issues up for discussion on his show. Other than Dr. Phil and Oprah, I can’t think of anyone else bringing this discussion (in an intelligent format) to the mainstream media.

Anyway, the biggest shock revealed to us on this Dr. Phil show, was hearing an expert who works with children’s sex issues and STDs was quoting statistics about children (I can’t even say teenagers). Brace yourself—she said the bottom age now for intercourse is age 9! And by 12 it is numerous and by 13 it is definitely not uncommon at all. There was a girl on the show who is now 13 years old, who has had 5 intercourse partners and who lost her virginity at age 12. She and her mom and they were talking about her promiscuity and the mother was asking for help and advice. The girl also stated that she felt the mother should buy her condoms (which the mother refused to do). The girl also stated that it was alright if she got pregnant as her sexual partners all told her that they’d help her raise the baby. Dr. Phil pointed out her last partner is presently in jail on a drug related charge, so how could he help her if she had gotten pregnant? The girl claimed that a lot goes on at school and she knows from schoolmates of the prevalence of intercourse and oral, and talked even of, and I had not heard the term before, "rainbow parties" which I don't even want to describe on my blog lest it be labeled an x-rated! If you want to know what it is, and just in case you want to make sure I am not making this up, a bunch of different definitions are here. I think it is important to note that some submittors of the definition of this phrase at this site believe this is an urban legend. It is not an urban legend according to teens on the Oprah and Dr. Phil show! This goes to show that some (many?) adults refuse to accept reality and instead choose to fool themselves about what their pre-teens and teens are doing in their spare time!

Google came up with a link to a 2004 Oprah show titled Do you know what your teen is doing?”" which I didn't see that gives the definition of a rainbow party (and other slang sex terms that teens are using to label what they are doing).

I am curious what other parent’s think, especially parents of children who go to public school. What is the cause and root of this? I think the root of this is "peer dependence" where the moral beliefs and behaviors are taught by "the pack" and that pack is the peers at school. It seems to me the peer dependence is so high that all moral and good-behavior teachings done by parents are disregarded and replaced by what the other kids are doing. This goes for bullying, drugs, alcohol, disrespect for teachers/adults, sex, the way they dress (too sexy for young girls), etc. In my opinion "peer dependence" starts at either daycare, preschool, or Kindergarten, whichever the child experiences earlier.

I also wonder if the slippery slide of television of having more graphic content has fueled some of this, to give the idea that some sexual acts are so great that they are (somehow) okay to be done at younger ages. Examples of some HBO shows that probably many preteens and teens can access to watch in their bedroom televisions, at sleepovers or while alone in a room are:

a. Sex in the City: if you would like to see this show for free, check your local public library to see if they have it to borrow, as mine does.

b. G String Diva's (one of HBOs documentaries in the "America Undercover" series: If you are curious about the content of the show there are some free clips online that you can view, which I just discovered so I could post the link for this email.

c. "Taxicab confessions", another "documentary", there is a lot of graphic language, and telling of sex stories, and even sometimes showing heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual passengers having (a range of different kinds of) sex in the back of the taxicab!

d. HBOs documentaries about prostitutes on the America Undercover series “Hookers at the Point” (and its sequels) are very graphic with sounds of interactions and sometimes even video footage of the interactions with the John (shot from a distance with secret cameras).

For now I am happy my kids are homeschooled. A part of me is saying, "my kids will be immune to this as they will be homeschooled" but I can't help but wonder though if for whatever reason they end up in school in the future...I am not happy with the idea that they would be surrounded by things such as witnessing sex at school or on the bus...yikes. Also, I am not happy with this being the general climate of what their same aged peers are doing and I wonder what kind of world it is and what it will become if children are sexually active at age nine, and growing up too quickly. Because I tend to think about parenting issues I just can’t get this off my mind today!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Some Unschooling Moments

I heard a few times while staffing a booth at a local homeschooling fair last weekend, that people just don't get the idea of unschooling. I didn't comment one way or the other as I didn't have time (as I had people who had questions about my booth’s topic) so I directed them to visit the unschooling booth if they wanted more information.

Here are a few unschooling moments that unfolded in the last week in our home. I believe these happened because we have abandoned our usual routine due to me being busy with projects and caring for a sick relative. Anyway I think I boiled it down to the fact that if my children aren't intentionally being given intellectual food for thought they take it upon themselves to find brain stimulation and end up doing learner-driven learning, AND they think it is fun and/or think they are playing (they probably don’t realize they are doing things that are helping them learn). I have always felt this is the gist of unschooling. A mixture of having good books and materials lying around the house, free time on their hands, being allowed to direct their own time--it gives them freedom to think on their own and come up with things to do that are driven by their own thoughts and curiosities. (We don't unschool as our usual homeschooling method but I am pretty sure I understand the theory and have seen some of it in action.) I also have seen that when my kids are overly busy with appointments of various kinds and their homeschooling lessons that all free time goes to play of the entertainment kinds (LEGOs, pretend play, etc.). But when they are not given homeschooling lessons or have lots of free time they direct themselves toward things that can actually be counted as "learning academic things".

Here are some things that happened recently:
1. 7 YO son was curious what it would cost to buy every single item in the LEGO catalog (well two pages were missing from it). First he wrote the prices on paper and it was not aligned and too many numbers for him to add manually so I suggested the calculator (which he has never used for real, but he knows how to turn it on and used to add 2+2=4 for fun). He used the calculator and came up with $23,348.00 to buy all the items in the catalog (sans two pages). This took over an hour, to first write all the prices, then realize it wouldn't work that way, then add up and re-add if he made an error in the sequence while using the calculator. On his own, he rounded up the numbers although I have never ever discussed estimation or rounding up with him and it has not been "covered" in our math curriculum yet.

2. 7 YO: Same thing for adding up the number of pieces of LEGOs in each kit, in the whole catalog. He skipped the writing on paper step and went right to the calculator but kept slipping digits and did not complete the task out of frustration for having to go back and start at the beginning over and over. I need to show him the clear entry key as my verbal directions were not sufficient for him to understand, then perhaps he’ll want to try again (if he wants to that is fine with me).

3. 7 YO: Watching Zoom on TiVo and getting excited about two recipes, then copying them down on paper so we can keep the recipe and make it. Both kids want to make the recipes although they are food they usually refuse to eat. Funny how seeing other kids eat it and praise it inspires them to want to eat it. (In the past Zoom has also inspired them to want to do science experiments.)

4. 7 YO: saw a new book on ciphers and secret codes which I bought and browsed it on his own, then copied over a secret code to give to his friend in letter format, and started writing secret messages using the code he decided was his favorite.

5. 4.5 YO writing letters to friends using invented spelling, including putting letter in the envelope, addressing it and then mailing it (with my help on the mailing part).

6. 4.5 YO using written communications to express emotions to family members he is upset with.

7. I have a reading reward program set up; when my 7 YO reaches 5,000 pages read he will earn a certain amount of money as a prize. (This is a one-time thing.) My 4.5 YO was given a prize for the first 100 books he read after he was done with his phonics program (which I did as he was teaching himself to read and was frustrated at not knowing all the letter sounds and combinations.) This has resulted in both of them pouring over the LEGO catalogs for HOURS contemplating what they may buy with their saved money and adding up combinations of items to see if they can afford it. They did this for almost an entire 500-mile car trip last month! They also have conversations with each other about how much things cost and what they can afford or do they have to wait and save more money. The discussions about shipping costs and how ordering a $3 item with $6 shipping fees is something to consider is about all I added to the debate and discussion.

8. Money received at Easter Egg Hunts and Easter gifts was added up by each child as they received the money and a tally of total savings to date was kept. They also had these figures memorized and were both using mental math to do the addition, much to my amazement.

9. Arguments over what to listen to on the car stereo resulted in it being shut off. They reached for books, dot-to-dot puzzle books and the Usborne puzzle books series (Puzzle Train, etc.) and read them and did them for a 2-hour car ride, happy as can be about it. I was thinking if the music was on as intended that would not have happened (as it didn't for other long car rides while out of state on that trip).

10. They have been reading on their own without me pushing and forcing, as they want to keep track of what they read. 7 YO loves counting the pages and he has taken over the record keeping of page count.

11. Building lots of LEGO creations including things with science principals such as making a boat, will it float? Testing it and making modifications. Together they designed LEGO jellybean cases to carry jellybeans in their pockets!

12. Watching a TV show that was documenting a week’s time and it said at the bottom “day 3” and 7 YO proclaimed, “they have 96 hours left”. He came up with his own way of adding 24 four times in his mind. (Note: our math curriculum doesn’t stress thinking in creative ways like that.) Other things have been mentally added recently in interesting ways and that came purely from his own mind.

13. 4.5 YO is adding up all kinds of things he sees, spontaneously. While in public one day, he said out of the blue, “There are 3 boys with blue shirts and 2 with green and 1 with a white shirt and there are 6 boys all together”.

14. When we have these gaps in our formal lessons they tend to gravitate to the educational computer games (reading, math, typing lessons). I don’t put limits on these educational computer games and over the years have noticed that both of my children tend to play lots of an educational game for a while, then when they win the game or get sick of it they stop playing all computer games for 2-6 months at a time! Some heavy days they may want to play in all their free time up to 4 hours per day. I don’t stress over this as I had read from a bunch of veteran homeschoolers that this is what kids often do so I just tried it and they are right! (Note: we don’t own any Playstation, Game Cube, Game Boy and they don’t spend their time playing those type of games and they are also therefore not spending lots of time playing those type of games on a regular basis.)

You know they are learning or have already mastered a concept when they are thinking about it during their free time and applying it to things on their own (and enjoying it).

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Things I have not done with my children that I had planned to do by now

A list of things I thought I would have done by this point in the academic year (or in general) but have not:

1. Read alouds not read yet:
a. “Just So Stories” by Rudyard Kipling
b. “Aesop’s Fables” by Aesop, Illustrated by Milo Winter
c. American Tall Tales (Paul Bunyan, etc.)
d. Read a lot of high quality, children’s versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (for whatever reason we have read poor quality versions)
e. Read Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales
f. Thornton Burgess stories

2. Get back to reading fiction picture books daily. We get a lot of homeschooling done but the fun, relaxing picture books have taken a backseat to the other work and running errands!

3. Read poetry aloud at least once per week.

4. Introduce (mainly to son, 7.5) some basic fine art instruction (perspective, etc.).

5. Do some fine art studies this academic year.

6. Do some composer studies this academic year.

7. Have my husband or father build a tree fort with my children for my children!

8. Make a children’s garden (for playing in).

9. Start a vegetable garden and flower garden and have my children help and hopefully, they will enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Homeschooling: Planning for Next Year, Decided to Not Attend the Big Homeschooling Conference

Back in the beginning of January I didn’t feel prepared to make a mid-year assessment. I didn’t want to look at how we were progressing toward our academic goals for the year because we were just coming off of Christmas break and our routine in the autumn was not as planned due to too many outside activities (paid sports, Scouts, playdates, etc.). As I write this at the end of March, after a solid 12 weeks of regular homeschooling, I feel much better prepared to make an assessment of where we are and what we may finish by June. Keeping to a regular routine and trying to do every single lesson each day has actually brought us beyond where I thought we’d be in June!

Only now can I begin to plan for next year. There is no rush to begin planning for the next year in the spring, unless one is planning to attend a spring homeschooling conference at which one plans to buy books and curriculum to use for the upcoming year. For the past two years I attended a huge homeschooling conference with a giant exhibition hall, held in April, so knowing what I wanted to do the following year was important to know, not only so I could buy what we needed but to help overspending on impulse purchases of items that nice to have, but were not needed. I chose to go to that conference as it has the biggest exhibition hall around in the area, and since it was in April, I went in April. It was also kind of nice to have things planned and to not think about planning for homeschooling over the summer months. In the past I was unsure about which materials to use and felt less informed about all the great (and not so great) materials out there. Holding the materials in my hands and being able to scan through them has given me a better feel as to whether it is a good fit for me and my children than past recommendations from friends and from impressions formed based on catalog descriptions. For example two years ago I was pondering using KONOS unit study curriculum and last year I was pondering switching to Sonlight Curriculum. I decided against both of them after thoroughly browsing through them at that April conference.

Our very tight budget due to continued unemployment does not leave me in a place to enjoy shopping at the April homeschooling conference this year. It is to a point now where to go with a teeny-tiny budget would be too stressful. I (think I am) a recovered shop-a-holic and a person who used to shop to alleviate stress. However I am still an impulse buyer if I can somehow justify the purchase. I have been good about general spending (i.e. on clothes for myself, household decorations, etc.) during this unemployment period but it seems that it is easier to justify spending if it is “for the children’s education”. In the past I have not gotten a lot out of the sessions at this conference; if I had I’d plan to go and spend lots of time listening to speakers and do a little shopping for the bare necessities. I am a sucker for a bargain, though, and there are a bunch of vendors who sell children’s books at discounts, some discounting 50-75% off of retail prices. What I found in these last two years was that I was unable to resist the bargains and found books I didn’t know existed that I did buy. These were definitely in the category of a “want” not a “need”. (By the way the exhibition hall is not just for “school at home” types. It is a treasure trove for unschoolers as well!) The discounted children’s books were discounted, but purchasing them made my overall spending much higher than intended.

Right now I am working to come up with what I definitely do need for the next year (i.e. next level in the math curriculum, more blank spelling paper, blank penmanship paper, etc.). I think I will save money by mail-ordering the bare necessities, even at full price and paying for shipping, than attending a conference, buying those things plus other things at a discounted price!

This year I feel more comfortable and firm that what we are doing is right and best for my children so I am “staying the course” and moving up to the next level (i.e. keeping same math curriculum) rather than looking for new options, new ideas, or new methods. For history, we will continue with the chronological format as outlined in The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer and using the Story of the World book and activity book will remain our spine. We will stay with Math-U-See for both children. For Language Arts we will continue using First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind and Writing Strands. Penmanship practice will continue with the italic style and homemade worksheets custom designed by me with the Startwrite computer program. We will continue using Charlotte Mason methods.

Feeling happy with our homeschooling journey is helping me feel less sorry for myself about living on a tight budget and feeling fine about not going to the big homeschooling conference. I also keep reminding myself that there are lots of books and even some homeschooling curriculum that did appeal to me so much that I already bought it in the past, and it does still appeal to me, and they are sitting unused and unread, on my own shelves, just because we have not taken the time to use it yet. I keep repeating the mantra, “use what you have, use what you have” to myself as well as “be happy with what you have”. So far it is working! I am trying to change my thinking from asking and thinking about “what is out there that is great” and “I want it “and feeling bad about what I don’t have to “what I already do have is great” and feeling grateful for what I do have. What I should be spending my energy on is assessing what is unused on my shelves and thinking about how we can add it in to what we are already doing, or remove something we are doing to swap in the new thing.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Going to try having Sunday as a Sabbath Day

As I write this on a Sunday night, I am exhausted! I am not feeling rested at all. Aren't people supposed to feel refreshed and rested by Sunday night?

Between homeschooling and volunteering and mothering and being a wife I am just worn out. When one’s children are homeschooled, the rhythm of the family life is a bit more like walking on a treadmill without stopping. One day turns into the next and the next. We make our own schedule but with the seemingly endless “to do” list, it is easy to never give myself a break! The more things we do at home (i.e. an art project) the more mess there is to clean up, the more artwork to find a place to store, etc. The more we use the house and eat in the house, the more it needs to be cleaned and maintained. Unlike other stay-at-home mothers, I have no relief when the school bus makes it way to our street. I have no “time off”. The nights I leave the house alone are usually to attend homeschool support group functions, or for a mom’s night out with friends (averages out to once every two months).

I first heard the idea on the Oprah show, when a man, I believe it was Stephen Covey, said that he connects with his family by spending the entire Sunday with his family, having fun and relaxing at home. I was reading in a book about homeschooling, how one family has a Sabbath Day on Sundays. Then at our last Charlotte Mason Study/Support Group meeting we discussed the idea and I found out that some families I know are already doing their own form of a Sabbath Sunday. Today after having a very rushed day of running from church/Sunday School to a child’s birthday party, I declared that effective next week, we are starting this tradition.

So starting next week our Sunday will consist of my husband attending his church, me attending my church, my children attending Sunday School, and not much else. We will spend each Sunday at home with our family. An exception may be made if we do something such as take a hike together. Things that definitely will not be done are to do errands, or attend sports events or practices or non-family celebrations. I think we will do just fine by limiting our errands to Monday-Saturday.

One reason I am doing this is so that I can know that one day per week is for relaxing. If I choose to spend it reading, playing games, gardening, or even posting blog entries, that is fine. I plan to spend fun time with my children, not nagging them about household chores and we will not be doing homeschooling lessons on Sundays either.

We will see how this goes!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Library Book Sales: Formulating a Plan of Attack

Library book sales, that is, fundraiser sales of used book donated from private collections or library discards, have been my main source of books for our family library and the main source of material for our homeschooling curriculum. You never know what you will find at a library sale. Library sales sometimes have books at bargain prices and sometimes rare or out of print books can be found for next to nothing.

Any parent or grandparent can find a treasure trove at a library sale. There are usually lots of board books and fiction picture books for children. I always find lots of “easy reader” books for beginning readers, ranging from out of print titles from the 1960s to nearly new sight readers such as used in the Reading Recovery program. Dr. Seuss books seem to be at every sale. Many classic picture books can be found. I have found many Five in a Row picture books to use in our homeschooling curriculum. I have also purchased some books that we already own and love, to give to my parents to keep at their house.

To find out about local library sales I use www.booksalefinder.com’s email notification service. Local homeschoolers who have been to library sales in the past also shared tips about what each sale was like in the past. Here are some tips about navigating library sales:

Find out the details of the sale ahead of time.
What are the days and hours? Is there a double price day (first day)? Do you really want to go on double price day? Is there an admission fee to get in? Do you want to pay that admission fee? Can you afford to pay double price? You may find a few rare books but will you also find many other books and then if you buy them you would have to pay double price for those also! I choose to wait until the first regular price day. I may miss some rare books but if I find 100 books on double price for $1 and spend $100, I’d rather buy 200 the next day at 50 cents and spend $100! What is the system to enter the sale? (Some sales have lines forming as early as 6 a.m. and others have a lottery system to get a place in line—sometimes the lottery is done the day prior.) What are the prices at the sale? How many books are at the sale? I advise going at opening time, whether you do go to double price day or whether you go to the first regular price day. The same advice applies if you are going to half price day or free day. Last year I went to a free day, at one hour past opening time and found one family had thrown sheets over 4 tables of children’s books and said “we are taking them all”. They were then sorting through them slowly by peeling up a corner of the sheet, putting what they wanted into boxes and throwing their discards onto a nearby empty table! How rude! I overheard the teeanged girl saying they were going to sell them on Ebay. I have an opinion that if someone is going to come and take a whole bunch of books like that “sight unseen” then they should be made to pay for all that they “claimed as theirs” immediately, rather than spend hours looking over each one and tossing many away, as this family was doing.


Try to figure out what you want to buy ahead of time.
What is it that you want to buy? It is a good idea to think about this before you go, to help guard against impulse buys. If you like impulse purchases, and can afford impulse purchases, then by all means, make impulse purchases and enjoy yourself! If you are looking for something in particular, if you keep track of the books you own, bring your list or part of the list that you want to remember. For example if you are collecting Landmark history books and plan to look for them, bring your list of Landmarks. Another type of list is a “books wanted to buy” list.


Do you think this sale is worth the driving time and the time spent at the sale?
It may help if you narrow down your library sale trips to a certain number per month or perhaps to go to the biggest or your favorites to avoid getting carried away with spending or to avoid taking too much time away from family to attend them.

Do you have a budget? What is your method of payment?
I don’t carry a lot of cash and prefer to use checks. I also do not bring a pocketbook to the sale with me; I carry in a few checks, tucked into a pocket of my pants along with my small set of car keys. I have spent a few sales trying to keep my pocketbook from sliding off my shoulder and being a pain in the neck to me! You may need multiple checks at some large sales. Some sales I attend have several tents and sale areas and customers must pay in full when exiting one tent. A couple of sales I have attended take credit cards, but not many. One time I was made to pay in full just so I could exit to use the restroom! It was a good thing I had extra checks with me!

Should your spouse attend?
I advise against having your spouse attend unless your spouse has patience and is willing to stay there as long as you desire. If your spouse is going to be impatient or nag you to hurry up then it is best to leave him at home. If your spouse is going to say, “do we really need that” about each book. I advise leaving him at home. Since I am the one who plans the homeschooling in our family, I am in charge of figuring out what books to buy. If your spouse is also a book hunter and book lover you also run the risk of your spouse being the one to spend the book budget! Do you want to be in competition for books? Then again if you and your spouse are on the same wavelength, a partner in the endeavor could be a good thing.

Your children: will you take them?
I advise against this unless your children are older and can entertain themselves and keep themselves safe. Here are the problems I have experienced or witnessed: Babies in a stroller are usually in the way, blocking aisles and probably would cause a problem if there ever were a fire. I have also heard way too many crying and screaming babies and toddlers who are ignored by their parents who are caught up in the excitement of the bookhunting moment. I don’t think it is fair or wise to force a baby or toddler to be bored or hungry or thirsty so the parent can hunt for books, it is cruel, actually. I have felt my blood pressure rising as cries have escalated; one baby was let to cry for over a half hour! I am not upset about the noise; I am upset that a baby or toddler is not getting their needs met for so long! Babies in backpacks are an option but the backpack can be bulky and bump people and may cause injury. At some sales the backpack would prevent people from moving down the aisle. Babies in slings or front pack carriers are either at risk for being bumped and pushed and can be in the way of you seeing what you are looking at as well as causing a challenge for holding books you want, or holding a bag or a box of books. Toddlers and some preschool aged children are too-high maintenance to allow bookhunting because you will probably want to look through as many books as you want and quickly, so you can get out of there. There is not really time or space to set young children up to be entertained. Some sales are very crowded with tables, books and people and there is not much room to even sit down near you. Lastly, I myself have been pushed, shoved, accidentally knocked and bumped with full boxes of books and I can imagine worse injuries occurring to young children while underfoot. The way that some people carry one or two full boxes of books in front of them while browsing and walking through he sale may not allow them to see your small child underfoot and they may be stepped upon or banged in the head!

How will you carry your books?
Think about this and plan ahead. Some mothers I know have purchased small beach tote carts from Wal Mart and use them at library sales. These are similar to the type that urban residents use to carry groceries to their apartments. I prefer to use very large L.L. Bean boat totes. The one with the zippered top is best because I can zip it closed and keep prying eyes from being tempted to take something out of it! I bring one or two to a sale and put them under the table, which I am browsing. I fill the bag(s) with the books I want to buy. Eventually I leave the bag under some table and when I have a stack of books in my hand I go back and dump them into the bag. I like the bag because if I use a cardboard box (which I have done in the pat) I risk people thinking that they are books for sale—I have found people looking through the books I plan to buy and taking books out! Book dealers in my area often bring their own cardboard boxes (because not all libraries will give boxes to people) and they bring sheets. They find a place to put their boxes of books and they throw the sheet on top of it. Some of the sheets have “sold” written on the fabric, some use signs taped to the sheet and other times the sheet itself is good enough. I have seen some very colorful sheets, I guess if everyone used white sheets then there may be a mix-up! Back to tote bags: I have tried smaller book tote bags but find they don’t hold very many books and they don’t stand upright when they are full. The large and full L.L Bean totes are heavy to hold so while standing in line to pay I keep them on the floor and push them forward as I go.

How will you pay for the books?
If you are paying by check try to have it partially filled out for a quick transaction. The customers behind you and the volunteers will appreciate it.

How will you get the books to your car?
If you have purchased several boxes of books you will need a plan to get them to your car. If you have parked a distance away, ask the volunteers if you can leave the boxes with them and bring your car close to the door. Some sales have hand trucks, carts or wagons for you to borrow to get your purchases to your car. Be polite at all times and thank the volunteers profusely for everything they help you with.

Setting Limits
What do you do when you go to the sale with the intention of hunting for biographies and instead find a load of great science books? Do you leave the science books behind? Can you do it or do you give in and buy the science books? How to you limit your spending? This is something that you must figure out on your own.

Last year while on a tight budget I came to a point where I stopped attending sales. I figured out that I was going to sales with hopes of finding certain books and instead found other great books. While sorting through the books at home I had a realization that I already had enough books on a subject and really didn’t need any more, even if they were very good books. I had an epiphany that there are so many wonderful books that it would not be possible to own them all nor would it even be possible to read them all! I realized that at one sale I had spent nearly $200 on books that were not on my priority list, nor were they on the list of books that we’d use in that upcoming year. I figured out that if I had stayed at home and ordered just those new or used books online at higher prices, I’d have saved money (overall) AND ended up with exactly the books that I needed for that upcoming homeschooling year. So at that point I slowed down on my attendance of library book sales. I am trying to hold off on attending library sales for a while, at least until my husband is able to find a job and we have some income in the household!

Thank the volunteers!
At many library sales I have attended I have encountered rude people who identify themselves as book dealers verbally, or who drive vehicles with their book business advertised on the door, or whom I know as being local used bookshop owners. I have overheard the volunteers complaining about books dealers. Some of the complaints are of rudeness and greediness. Sometimes they complain that dealers come from out of state and buy up books before the town residents can buy them. I want to distance myself from them as much as possible. Because I usually buy a minimum of two boxes of books, I am assumed sometimes, to be a book dealer. At every sale I thank the volunteers for the bargains and their help and mention I am a homeschooling mother who is buying books to use for our homeschooling and for our family library. Sometimes I say this in response to questions I am asked about “why would I want all these books” or “you have some great books here for good prices”! I want to make sure they know I am grateful for their hard work and really do appreciate the ability to buy books at such great prices. I also try to compliment and thank them for their hard work because I can imagine the planning and hard work that it takes to set up and execute such a sale. (Imagine all the work sorting and categorizing books, lugging them and setting them up for display?)

At library book sales I have discovered wonderful new books and new authors that I didn’t know existed. I have found books that were on my “to buy when can afford it” book list. I have found some rare finds for myself, and sometimes duplicates of rare finds I already own—so I buy those and resell them at cost to friends who I know would appreciate the bargain. I have attended many sales and buy books that we need right now and that we will use in the future. I’d rather buy a book for 50 cents to use in 6th grade history than pay $6-8 for it used on the Internet when we arrive at the 6th grade year. I have found so many great books that my current issue is no longer finding the books but finding a way to store and organize the books!

Happy book hunting!