Saturday, August 01, 2015

More Thoughts on Grades

Yesterday's post was dashed off quickly and ended due to keyboard problems (hence typos).

More on grades:

Good grades:

This may or may not mean you really learned.
This may mean you answered correctly as a guess.
This may mean you knew it that minute but forgot it by next week.
They will help you with college admissions as the colleges will think you are able to do the work and are smart.

Not A grades:

This may mean you learned but performed poorly on the test.
This may mean you didn't quite understand it thorougly.
You may know it but messed up on the answer by mis-bubbling.
You may have been a sloppy reader or too fastly skimming and not really saw the real question.
The tricks on the multiple choice got you. Gotcha!
Your writing skills may be weak.
You may hate writing by hand or have a disability that impairs you so you just write the skimpiest thing down and leave it at that. Even though you know more.
You may not understand any of it.
You may be sick on this day.
Or tired.
Your teacher may have made a mistake on the grading procedure.
Your teacher may hate you and intentionally slam your grade by making "errors" or using rough subjective grading policies.
You are developing a label of "not trying hard enough" or "not smart" or "doesn't care".

School is a game. Play the game for the scores and outcomes to help you as a means to an end, if you know what your end plan is and if it involves some body evaluating your high school grades to decide on your admission or rejection to their program or institution.

Your grades will be weighed against your standardized test scores. An A in an AP class but a 3 on the AP test shows grade inflation in the classroom. If you have a disability and your standardized test scores suffer you can write about how you overcome your challenge in your college admissions essay and you can mention why and how you found ways to learn all year long in a class that does not equal what is seen on a standardized test like an AP test.

If you choose to not play the school game you need to understand that your choice is locking you out of some options for college choices. If you have the potential and capability but choose to slack off and not use your mind to its fullest potential in school you will just have to settle for a middle or lower tier college. There are lots of other students ready, willing, and able to do what the school game requires to gain admission to the college of their dreams. If you have a pipe dream to attend Harvard but are unwilling to do rigorous college prep work in high school just console yourself with the fact that if you ever did get in you would face four years of doing coursework of the type you say you hate. So really you do not want to be there after all, do you?

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Kids Still Don't Value Grades At School

In our alternative education homeschool I did not test or grade my kids. We focused on learning and doing and experiencing and discussing.

At this point in time my younger son has completed one year of private school. He philosophically does not value grades or think they are worthwhile. He is of the same mindset I was when I was in school. You can know a thing and mess up on the test and get a C but it doesn't mean you don't know the information if you can articulate it and perform to do it, but just made a mistake. If you are lazy and don't try on the essays it just means you are lazy. I think he came around and did want higher grades as he gets that it's valuable as a gateway to college but he thinks is all a game. Which it is. So he is dealing with it and trying to get good grades but he does not really care about a ranking or rating from an external party.

My older son has graduated from high school and been doing online classes for math with grades and he has taken six college classes (five at community college and one at a university). His grades have been As, Bs, and Fs. He does not care about grades and when I say that I mean he does not put any judgement on himself or feel good for an A or bad for a B. He feels badly for the Fs which were from being absent (due to robotics competitions) and lack of organization and time management. He decided this week, all on his own, to retake those classes this fall and he wants to pass them. But the drive for an A just is not there. He just feels grades are some rating that does nothing for you.

Due to learning struggles or apathy both kids have had the full panel of educational testing and IQ tests. They also doubt the number that says they are gifted. They don't think they are smart. I have not blown sunshine up their butts all their life or used the gifted label as I overhear some parents (especially of little kids) do. They think they are "just regular" and "normal", what they mean is probably that they are on the top of the bell curve but they are in the 97th percentile. So even when a number on a test shows they are in the top range for the human population of all people, they don't feel flattered or superior or confident or happy. They are just who they are

Whole Family Busy With Eagle Project

Twelve weeks before our son was to turn 18 (the deadline) he got approal for an Eagle project. This was after two rejections last summer and another project the nonprofit punted as they were busy with a major project.

Older son also needed to finish two merit badges, one was started four years ago. He forgot the info on his writeup so he decided to just do it over with current real life data.

Son chose a nonprofit to work with but in the end the town government wanted in on the approval so the poor kid had to work with two agencies one of which was a challenge. I will leave you to guess which that was. They had ongoing design changes including after the build and cement was in place.

The construction of the dock was done in the hottest week of the year. I honestly am surprised my husband survived the twelve hour days in the sun without having a heart attack or heat exhaustion. My son puked from dehydration. An adult got heat exhaustion. My son has a great tan and a sunburned neck (he refuses to wear sunscreen). My younger son helped on the job site as well.

Yesterday he met with the merit badge counselor for sign off on the last two Eagle required merit badges.

Today the Eagle project paperwork was completed.

I hauled out the old merit badge paperwork and got it all lined up and ready to fill in the dates on the application.

Also an existential huge discussion.

We are all drained by this.

My son had joked that it was his dream to finish the day before he turns 18. It's not fair to do that to volunteers we told him. He needs to get a sign off on the project from the nonprofit's rep, then  the Scoutmaster conference and the Board of Review in the next eleven days sometime. He will be out of town for three days and two nights for a FIRST Robotics competition.

Welcome to my world. A stress fest. Never a dull moment around here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Learning How To Learn

This phrase gets tossed around a lot "learning how to learn".

Based on what my kids do in their free time when they are in control of what they do I would say my kids have learned how to learn. They teach themselves all kinds of things. In the ages of fourteen through almost eighteen my sons tell me less and less of what they are doing with their free time. I do not get reports of what online tech news articles they read or what video tutorials they watch to learn. Yet by seeing what they know or through casual conversation or overhearing them talk about a topic with others it is apparent that a lot of learning has taken place.

What then for schools and schooling?

To me schools have systems, processes and procedures that they made up that do not necessarily have anything to do with "learning how to learn" or about learning. The content is metered out in a slow pace in a methodical manner and the content delivery is about processes. Mess up the process and you are rated and graded as not having learned. The learning is so constantly tested with very limited methods that the time is spent trying to peform well on the test which is completely separate from learning the content. Thus school is a game where the player is the student and the systems are to be figured out and played out. The extent to which you play the game determines your grades.

I realized the school game in about grade six. The system suddenly was revealed to me as an epiphany. I realized I was stuck in my learning held captive by the teacher. The first glimpse was in grade four. I had to write a report on the tomato. I had to have a certain number of references, I think it was three or four. This was back in the day of hardcover encyclopedias and the public library had a wall of the different publishers of encyclopedias. I learned from multiple sources that a tomato was technically a fruit. The report was supposed to be on a vegetable. I wrote of this fact that we call it a vegetable (in America) but scientifically speaking it's a fruit. I cited the reference. The teacher took off points saying I was wrong. It was then that I realized that teachers actually do not know everything and that even when faced with facts and references that they required I do they sometimes refuse to see reality for what it is and they can reject fact and go on teaching falsehoods.

Sixth grade was the time when I began doing nonfiction reading to teach myself things. Formerly I was a fiction reader only. As I learned more and more and talked to my friends  who were ignorant on these topics as they were not teaching themselves things I started to see the world in a new light. I will admit that my first curiosity which was not being answered by my mother was issues of my physical body, menstruation and human sexuality and reproduction. Ask Beth, the newspaper column was right in the city newspaper we had delivered to the house next to the Ann Landers column. I read it daily then read her book from the library.

A main reason my husband suggested homeschooling was wanting our kids to learn and learn good content and to skip the nonsense part of school that he hated. He is also a self-learner and when we were dating he was very impressed with my curiosity and how I actually went and taught myself things to get answers. I thought a lot of people were like me but he says no, they're not. I was on board with homeschooling as I figured our kids could learn good stuff from me, books, and outside people who are subject matter experts. Our reason for homeschooling was for an alternative method of education for a way of learning that is different and better.

However since the end goal is college I realized that for high school the prep for how to do college (traditional education) has to happen finally. So any loose and free or winding road types of learning ended for certain subjects. You cannot just meander through algebra, there is so much content and it needs to be done in an order and mastery of the former is required for understanding the new material. When trying to match up history for "equivalent instruction" you have a lot of ground to cover so there is no time for deep probing. When busy with college claseses starting in grade 11 the schedule is booked so educational or fun travel to explore the world an hour away or in other states is not possible.

Not all learners can shift from an alternative education to the school ways of doing things in their first semester of college. Thus homeschool high school has to change its pace and methods of delivery. In doing so this is not really about learning how to learn it is about learning how to do school. Perhaps a couple of exceptions are things like learning how to do "close reading", dissecting Shakespeare, and learning study methods to memoize a foreign language. In those cases a teacher dolinout assignments and tests and doing in class teaching and class discussion is something of value that is not always easy for a teen to figure out if they are learning on their own at home by themselves.

Something happened last week to make me realize that my older son is going to be just fine and he knows how to learn and he knows things he taught himself by doing or by seeking out his own resources. He may not enjoy certain formal classes in college or homeschool high school, he may struggle with testing pocedure s(he is superior at oral testing and stinks at multiplel choice and he skimps on answering open-ended questions) but he can do things that other kids his age cnanot do. He knows how to learn and he is going to be fine. The problem is college is a gatekeeper and you have to get through it nowadays. He really wants to work with computers. If only he could go work now and learn on the job instead, he would love it. Theolddays of apprenticeships perhaps should make a comeback.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Son Is Enrolled In Public High School

Last week we had the appointment with the school administration to enroll my son. First we met with the registrar for the basic information and standard forms. Then we met with a college admissions counselor who fills in summers to help with new student registration. She is also an English department specialist. For my son's math placement  consulted with the math head.

The first order of business was to discuss how my son's ten classes at the IB school translate to the Texas state standards and align to having earned half or full credits. This work was done by the head registrar who communicated with the owner of the IB school. This person had the final say and she was on vacation the week prior and this week.

I was shocked to hear they only approved 5.5 credits for his eight classes plus the two independent study work at home "classes". One half of those credits was PE! Much to my despair they issued no math credit for this combination Algebra 2, Geometry (grade 10 work) and Trig (grade 11 work), instead they issued credit as an elective for "thematic math". They approved a full credit each for English and French I. They issued no science credit and no history credit. So there are 2.5 credits toward the Texas graduation requirements and they put 3 credits toward electives. To recap the electives are humanities (IB version of social studies), the engineering intro course and the "education for leadership and business", the thematic math and one half art credit that they put down as "theater arts" even though it was drawing, collage, sculpture, photography, and other projects as well as art history and they did nothing about theater.

Bottom line my son is entering public school as a second semester freshman, a credit behind in math, science, and history. He has to do the following to catch up:

* take seven classes plus "private PE" after school hours (through his varsity sport, his fourth year in this sport)

* double up in grade 10 to take both the required geography class (honors) and world history (honors)

* Math: He will take Algebra 1 and some will be a repeat so that should be easy. Texas has a new curriculum this year, a new scope and sequence to align with the new graduation requirements. They explained that the former way was a full year of pre-algebra then algebra I then algebra II but now what is called pre-algebra is a half year of pure pre-algebra then a half year of algebra I. Then algebra I is a half year of algebra 1 followed by algebra II. The new algebra II is the second half of algebra II then a half of trig and pre-calculus work. The new requirement is that students no longer have to take algebra II in order to graduate and can substitute with another on a list of math classes some of which are computer classes.

* He will have to take geometry in summer school after grade 10. I am a little confused about this as a parent just told me it actually starts in April when the counselor said it is eight weeks in the summer weeks only.

* For this seventh period (if you do private PE they offer you to go home early after the sixth period but my son has no room for this), they offered for him to take the Texas required health in the fall for the half credit class which has no homework. Then in the spring he will enter into the second half of Theater Arts which is learning about plays, watching plays, and building the sets for the drama club's performance. That class has no homework either. The debate was he could put these off until grade 11 in order to have less stress in grade 10 but grade 11 is already rough with SAT and ACT prep and so we all decided to get these easy classes out of the way.

*Although biology is usually a freshman class he is taking Pre-AP Bio. He is not a science kid so out of chem and physics and bio the bio is what he should focus on for the harder class. Note he did 1 trimester of bio in grade 9 so this should hopefully be easy for him.

As of the end of semester one he will be considered a 10th grader having completed six credits. At the end of the second semester he will have 13.5 credits out of the 12 he needs as minimum so he will be on track having completed grade 10.


My son learned lessons in his year at private school that I feel will help him succeed in public school. However just like with homeschooling if you are in one type of curriculum then you switch you get messed up due to mis-alignment between the two very different learning methods. So although my husband at first accused that we wasted a year's tuition I honestly think he learned things about time management and pacing and made some errors that he found out have a cost so to me it was worth it.


The school was very open and willing to let our son take the hardest level of rigor as he felt he could handle. To that end to sum it up in case I missed it he is taking:

Pre-AP Biology
Pre-AP English
Honors Geography
Honors World History

The rest are level college prep classes.

Our school district uses honors for if you want a more rigorous class and never plan to take the AP class later. If they offer Pre-AP what happens is the teacher has to approve you at the end as being ready to take the AP class afterwards. So even if you do Pre-AP and you struggle they may say you cannot take the AP class later on. Level classes are scaled with a 4, Honors and Pre-AP and dual credit are a 5, and AP classes are a 6.

There is a big race for a high GPA in Texas due to the automatic admission to state schools with a certain GPA that is another topic for me to blog about on another day. The GPA determines class rank and the top 7% get automatic admission. It used to be 10% then 8% but they keep narrowing it down with the more high GPA students that the schools are churning out.


I hope my son is up for this. He really wanted to go to public school this year. If he messes this up due to poor work ethic it is all on him. He may also need some tutoring such as if the French II does not align well with where he left off. I think the hardest part will be the heavy reading load they told us to expect as he is not used to reading for hours every day.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Next Year's School For Younger Son

We had a major decision to make about where our younger son would attend school next year. I did offer homeschooling but my son loved being in school and he wants to stay in a school. I offered a new charter school which is at the community college. In this program you take half high school level  classes from home online and half in person college classes on campus then when you graduate high school you also get an Associate's Degree. My son declined that.

There are a few issues with the private school that we felt were big issues that we (my husband and I) felt we should not let our son continue there in the future. Although despite these flaws and the cost of tuition we said to our son if he really, really tried and he got high grades, even if that meant supplementing learning outside the classrooom to learn the content that if he could make the most out of it and live with the problems there that we would let him stay there.

Our son made decisions about his future, that he wants a good college prep program with the abilitiy to get into a good college so he can get a degree and move on to a good career. He decided that he felt the best chances to make this happen would be to enroll into public school for grades 10-12.

Our son also wants to be a regular kid in a regular school with direct access to regular activities like Homecoming (Dance) and Prom. He does not want to be a guest of his friends tagging along. He wants to be in the school and a part of the school.

This son continues to be active in a community sport. He has begun his fourth year and this is his second year of varsity. This is a year-round sport so his time for other extra-curriculars from school will be limited. He is still in Boy Scouts and probably will hold a leadership position in grade 10 with the Troop.

I asked around about this high school. We have two public high schools in town. We are at almost 100K residents in town. One high school has 4K and they are all from this town. We are districted to the other school which has some students from the neighboring towns. Here our schools are organized by district. One of those towns is too small to have its own school. The majority of the other residents of the other town go to the gigantic school that is almost a half hour away so I am assuming those kids go here since it is less than a ten minute drive to this new school. Inside of this school is also a science and technology magnet school and those kids mix with the others for half of the classes. There are 3200 students at this high school. Anyhow I heard the opinions of the people I know about the school he hopes to enroll in.

I phoned the public school in early May to inquire about enrollment. Enrollment for new students opens up tomorrow and we have the first appointment of the day. My worry is placement. I got a call from the head of the department two weeks ago concerned that the scope and sequence of the European IB school is not closely aligned with Texas state standards.

There were two other options, a Lutheran private school and a new Catholic high school. Both are a thirty minute drive each way not counting traffic. I put my foot down and said no. I am not doing that drive plus I want my son to have friends right here. Those schools are far enough away that the kids probably would not see my son outside of school hours. Also they are too far away to allow attendance at his sport practice.

The thing we have discussed, all of us, is we know our issues with the private school he attended. We do not know the problems of the public school but we know it will be imperfect. I would rather deal with problems from a big bureaucracy school that our taxes pay for and say, "That big school, they can't fix these problems, big government schools are imperfect!" instead of saying, "This tiny school that we pay tuition to refuses to fix these problems that they know exist!"  

I have not heard any problem from any parent I know about this school so long as you are there to learn, you are in the upper classes getting good academic rigor, so long as you stay away from the druggies, you get friends from your good kids at the sport team, and you stay busy doing your homework, going to Scouts, and busy at sport practice, you will have no time for drugging and drinking and partying. The people in our circles and the kids in my son's circles are good kids living a drug-free life (our team does drug testing so this is proven by tests) so we are not worried. This son is medical problem free, learning disability free, and is tough enough to handle typical social rudeness. He should not be a target for bullies.

Wish us luck with the registrar tomorrow.


A note for those who do not know our whole story: I am an advocate for homeschooling high school and all grades. However it was not working for this son of mine. If the student is no making the most of or doing even a baseline minimum with good quality work output or not having agood work ethic forcing them to keep homeschooling is not necessariy in their best interest. I myself burned out of homeschooling due to stresses homeschooling my older son who was gifted with learning disabilities and ADHD inattentive type plus managing his medical problems (not all of which are shared on this blog), such as brain injury from stage 2 Lyme Disease and adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems and past history of mono. First and foremost I feel our responsibility is to parent our kids and if homeschooling is ruining the parent and child relationship then homeschooling should end. Also if homeschooling is ruining the marriage then homeschooling should end but that is another topic that others have dealt with that I have not, thankfully. My husband supported us in homeschooling but he then realized that it really was not working for this youner son of ours. This son also did not fare well under his own guidance or working via online classes so we put him in school for grade nine.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Faulty Zagg Keyboard and Blogger App

Apologies for any weird typos you see on my blog.

My first Zagg iPad keyboard was fantastic until I spilled water onto it and broke it. I was surprised to see, when ordering a new one, that others complained of problems. I bought it anyway.

The first one was defective and would type ten letter when I did one keystrike or not do spaces when I hit the space bar. I enacted the warranty to get a replacement. Well the second one sucks too. It has been a problemmmfrm day one.

See what I mean?

There is a bug in the Blogger app for iPad which does not allow you to see the words you are typing when you hit a certain word count. Thus in my longer posts you will see a mess near the end.

I have changed my lifestyle to doing more iPad work than desktop PC.

I a sorry for any messes in my blog posts. I just am too busy to go use the PC every day or to only blog from the PC.

I am going to see about replacing this keyboard but I have a faint memory that Zagg lets you do the replacement only one time for the warranty.

Taking Charge of Your Life

Today I realized again that there are two kinds of people in the world. One takes control of their life and is active to learn and to try to prepare themselves to make informed and good decisions and to think and discuss and inquire and ponder. The other type is passive, not wanting to learn or to know, to just be and to listen mostly to directives dictated to them by authority figures. Those people just follow and often don't even question let alone discuss or inquire further. Even when the outcome is poor they do not question authority about the bad state of affairs or think there is anything they can do to improve. They wish for a certain outcome but when the outcome does not occur they do not wonder if there is another way that could get their goal achieved, they instead blame themselves and wallow in self-pity for having to be in their situation. They let themselves live in misery and they keep doing what they were told without realizing they are on a bad path that may never let them achieve their hoped for goal, or it will be a long time of suffering (years or decades) without real results. 

I have been so firmly in the assertive state of mind, the place where being curious, asking why, looking for answers, pondering options, weighing sources for credibility, of "following the money", of asking "what does that person or company have to gain by my believing or doing what they want" that I forgot that there are people who have never done that. 

There is an extent to what you can achieve by informing yourself, I'm not talking about researching how to become a millionaire overnight and then thinking you can actually achieve that. I am talking about things like a goal to lose weight, to alleviate symptoms of a chronic condition such as irratable bowel syndrome, to try to improve the situation of a one year old with signs of Autism, or how to alleviate back pain. I am talking about if you have a child with a hyperactivity problem and you feed them a red food dye slushie and see worsened behavior maybe not letting them drink that or listening to learn about a study in Europe about the affect of different food dyes on young children's behavior. But that the six year old has already been to a psychiatrist for assumed ADHD looking for prescription medications. Or the parent who has a kid who intentionally breaks things in the house when you have no rules or limits then you fret over the damage they did and continue to do. 

I don't know what to say to a person who lives such a passive life that they do not take responsibilitiy for their own actions or realize they are choosing to do things that cause the problem in the first place yet they complain and are upset and reallyl worried about living with those problems. I just don't een know where to start to try to get a person to see they do have power and control and they can alter their path to achieve their goal. Their goal. Not my goal. Their goal can actually be achieved. They need to first realize that there is more than one path, and sometimes that requires some learning to know there are multiple ways, and each one is a choice, and they can ask and inquire of the experts of other paths, or get second or third opinions, or can safety try some things at home under ther own guidance to test it out without harm. 

I will give a simple example of about how being your own advocate and being a free thinker can help you achieve your goal. 

My rosacea was quite bad earlier this year. I had already educated myself again by re-reading material on the rosacea society's website. This gave recommendations about lifestyle changes such as eliminating dairy, chocolate, not eating hot temperature drinks, not eating spicy foots, not letting my body get hot (impossible when living in Houston), and some other things largely food and drink related. I felt I was already doing most of those but I was not 100% compliant, I use half and half (cow milk dairy) in my coffee for example. I  know that for me, by observation I knew that sunburn is a trigger for my rosacea so I had changed sunscreens and was diligent about reapplication of SPF 50 through the day every day and have been wearing a silly looking sunhat when outdoors for a walk or when outside for more than ten minutes. 

I went back to the dermatologist (the last visit was about 18 months prior) and asked for help. He did not offer any of the diet changes and said no one knows what causes rosacea. He did not say certain food or drink choices make the symptoms worse. He said all we can do is try to fix the symptoms of rosacea as there is not a cure. 

He offered me a daily antibiotic (which in the past I refused saying I felt it hurt my microbiome and gave me leaky gut). He also offered me a morning creme and a nightly gel and a newer drug that takes redness away. I said the sample he gave me of that anti-redness drug didn't do much and I read online that it does not cure redness it just diverts blood flow away from the skin's surface for a certain number of hours which I felt was stupid. (The drug is also expensive and only in brand name at the moment.) I did say that the gel at night was not doing much sto I had stopped using it. 

When I went to fill the prescription for the gel in a conversation with the pharmacist in the required counseling session I was told the normal dosing for the gel was in the morning and in the night and great results happen for other patients with twice a day use. I said this doctor has been telling me night only for four years and that prior doctor in the other state said the same thing. The pharmacist said the doctors are not following usage recommended rates! The morning creme is brand name only now and really expensive. I used a discount coupon to buy it but when I got home I decided on a trial of the gel but twice daily. It worked. I have not used the creme, the antibiotic or the temporary redness diffuser. 

A lesson here is that multiple dermatologists prescribed wrong for that one medication and I was over  prescribed with four medications when using on e in the correct manner worked. I as offered a daily antibiootic to be on every day for years despite serious issues that can result from long-term antibiotic use including causing new problems such as leaky gut and food sensitivities and auto immune diseases and antibiotic superbug resistance development. (Source: The Microbiome solution by Robynne Chutkan MD page 105.)


Please leave a comment on your thoughts about taking charge of your life versus living passively. If you have advice on how to try to help a person make the shift from passive to active please let me know.   

Friday, July 10, 2015

Goods As Income - IRS (Amazon Vine Reviews)

I am a reviewer for Amazon Vine. There has been some controversy and discussion over the topic of whether a person receiving a free item (who is not being paid cash to do the task) can provide a truthful review. Note that magazine staff who write reviews are paid to do their job as well as get to use the product but no one questions those reviewers.

Regarding Amazon Vine, for 6/30/15 and prior we who received items did not truly own them and we were banned from reselling or giving away the items. Most of the books issued were advance reader copies which are clearly marked by the publisher as not to be sold. They are often missing illustrations, indexes, table of contents, etc. and are not full real books. They often have spelling and grammar errors in them as well.

I do not know what prompted it but the Amazon Vine policy changed as of July 1, 2015. After six months from the transfer date we now own the item. Each item is given a fair market value (FMV). As of this time we are not told ahead of time what the FMV is so it's a gamble for us.

For a penny to $599 we are to self-report to the IRS the FMV as miscellaneous income. For $600 and above Amazon will issue a 1099-MISC form to the IRS and us. So we will pay income tax to our federal government and state and local income tax if applicable, even though we did not get paid with money. A few categories of items will always have a FMV of zero such as groceries, pet food and consumable personal heath items (i.e. deodorant). Note if a product is broken or of poor quality that we probably cannot resell we still have to use the FMV.

Some Vine reviewers have been checking with their accountants and lawyers about how to proceed with their family's finances. I have not figured out yet about depreciation or other losses. I am going to start to keep records of orders and FMV to help us at tax time.

Some have quit the program but I have not. I am already ordering less now though. For example if my printer is working and I'm offered a new one and have to pay tax on "income" of $300 I probably won't be ordering it. The program is set up to target members who have already bought certain products and/or have gotten them to review so we can do an informed review or do comparisons. I see the value in that but don't want the tax burden of $300 for a printer that's not critical for me to own. Also I will be ordering less smart phone cases and no clothing! If the shoes or clothes are too small they are of no use to me and I cannot try them on ahead of time or return them for a refund so it's too expensive for me to take the FMV as taxable "income".

Note doing this kind of reviewing is still a "no monetary payment" service. It's essentially a work for no pay hobby.

I wanted to point this change out for those blog readers of mine who know I am an Amazon Vine reviewer.

What are your thoughts on the value of a material thing being classified as income by the IRS? I'm not a tax laywer so sometimes the rules and laws don't jive with common sense in my layperson mind.

I will be following all the rules as I want to comply with the laws and don't want to be flagged for an audit!

Related: A reminder that since 2009 amateur reviewers who publish reviews online in writing or on video have to disclose if they received the product free for the purpose of doing a review per a rule with the FTC. Each violation may receive a maximum penalty fine of $11K.