Monday, March 02, 2015

Montetizing a Blog Takes Time and Effort

In an effort to be efficient with accomplishing my main priorities I pared down the analysis of things like looking at my blog statistics.

This blog is 10 years old. I have added Amazon Associates and BlogHer ads to my blog. I am not supposed to say how much money I earn from these exactly but I will say that one week working part-time at a minimum wage job is more than I earn from BlogHer in a year. My Amazon revenue flucutates with Christmas season buying being the busiest. February was one of my all time low earnings of a single digit.

I don't usually analyze the Amazon statistics but today I took a peek. People are ramping up to do backyard gardening and this is the time for seed starting in cold climates. One of my all time highest read blog posts is my $10 raised bed tutorial with photos. In that post I explain I garden by growing vertically which takes up less garden square footage and allows for a smaller sized garden, less soil and a smaller size to water. I link to the book that taught me which is Square Foot Gardening. I had 17 click throughs but only one purchase of a book. I peeked at the link I was using and saw that at some point Amazon has changed the link yet again. I already updated it once when the first edition was revised and the updated edition was released. Now there is a new page on Amazon with the in print book and my link was going to an out of print version. So today I took a few minutes to update the link.

It is not feasible to stay on top of 10 year's blog posts with over 6000 entries, not all of which have Amazon links. Yet my former blog posts are found by internet search engines and people do read them. The blog format of being a journal with dates is not turning out to be used as it was intended. That is to say that readers are finding old blog posts relevant and useful. Thank goodness that seach engines can find those posts and people can read them.

I used to spend more time looking at statistics for who read my blog, what time of day they read, et cetera but to be honest even after knowing that data I was unable to translate those facts into making more money from blogging. At one point a lot of bloggers were thinking they could earn a living from blogging and it is just not true for most people.

The way that Google sorts which web pages show up on search engines has in part to do with how old a website it and how much traffic goes to that page or site, from what I undestand. Being that my blog is over 10 years old now that means that my cookie recipe posted 6 years ago might show up before the same cookie recipe that some other blogger posted last year.

Anyhow another thing I learned is if your blog is a niche topic then it will get less hits just due to less people wanting to read about that topic. That is why I get more hits on food and recipes when I am not a single focus food blog and why I get a lot of hits on Cub Scouting or gardening, because more people do those things than homeschool.

Some feel if you blog on a niche topic and have content that people want to read about then traffic will come to your blog. Yes and no. And in the end if you blog on a niche topic your ads run by a third party may not be relevant to your readers so they may not get click-throughs which earn the blogger more money.

I could have spent many hours seeking out individual advertisers on relevant topics but it could compromise the integrity of the content of my blog. If I asked a certain math curriculum to advertise I would not be able to then talk about how it did not work out in the end and how we dropped using it. If I took ads from Christian companies I would be at risk for not being religious enough on the blog or saying something that somebody felt was not Christian enough.

My main priorities in life are my marriage, raising my kids, trying to be healthy, homeschooling my kids or supporting their private schooling, and doing volunteer work in the community. Blogging comes at the end of all of that, for these last 10 years. If it is your or my dream to make a new blog with a certain focus of content in order to make money off the blog it would wind up being a full time job to seek revenue sources. Since my blogs have to do with creating things or constructing things or doing book or product reviews there is a lot of work in the living to do those things which then forms the content that gets written about. So the doing and using that is behind the post takes a lot of time in addition to the writing of the post then the work to monetize it. That is how blogging can be a full time job for some people but the income from blogging probably 99% of the time never will get to anything near what your income would be if you worked a 40 hour full-time job. Yes a handful of bloggers have made equal to their former day job or even to triple digits but those bloggers are few and far between. In this day of free access to a ton of information online even the most loyal blog readers may not do things to help put money in the blogger's pocket. I accepted this notion years ago and decided to keep blogging for my own reasons, which have nothing to do with money. Blogging is not a get rich quick thing.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

I Don't Know What I Want To Be When I Grow Up (That's Normal)

Typical teenagers have been busy living their life and in school with same aged peers in their classroom. If you are a schooled person step back and think about your life for a minute. Where have you lived, have you been in this one town all your life? Have you been in this same school with the same kids year after year? How many people move in and out of your community, hardly anyone or do you live in a transient place where new kids come and other kids go? Are you in a private school?

Private school kids should think about their insulated environment. You are there with others who are of similar background. Your parents must all be in the same finanical boat to be able to pay your tuition. What is your tuition per year and how does that measure up to the median American income? Are your parents paying more than half the national average for one year of your tuition? How many kids are in your family and how much is your family spending on tuition in total? How do you think your parent's income rates against other Americans? Look at a chart of income levels, which part of the bell curve are you on? Some schools have free tuition or big scholarships for kids in financial need. Are you one of those? How does being in a low income bracket compared to 99% of your peers make you feel about who you are? If you are one of the rich kids what have you thought about that and you place in society?

No matter which way you fit in on the income spectrum now, you should think about your future and your future earning potential in relation to whether you will wind up living worse off than what you are living now or whether you want to live better off financially. You may not realize it yet, but America is truly the only place where you can make something of yourself and have freedom to do what you want that really depends on you. Where you go to school and who your peers are contributes to who you are as a person. However the most driven and dedicated individual can shine in whatever crappy school they are in if you work hard academically and want to actually learn and strive for high grades.

Your learning in elementary school is a foundation for how you fare in middle school/junior high. What happens there is like a loading dock for high school. Bad performance or lack of learning in grade eight and prior can screw you up in the high school years.

Cognitive ability (IQ) matters only to a certain extent. An average intelligence person can work very hard to study and memorize and learn and to understand and can achieve high grades in school (without cheating, I always talk of school and learning while assuming you are NOT cheating). Those with a higher IQ often do not work too hard to understand or learn which means some of them screw up by not studying enough as they think they are all set and know it. But on tests which rely on memorization, knowing definitions, labeling diagrams and such if a general concept is vaguely understood but the details are not committed to memory their scores will suffer.

The academic performance in middle school is the path determinor for high school. Slack off and screw up in middle school and you are already on the path for the average or lowest academic track. Work hard in middle school and you will be on the average or most rigorous path. Then in 9th grade your performance will either stay on a certain track or you will mess up and will be demoted. It is very hard to ramp up your performance once on the track in high school as your math is vital.

Math is the key to which path you will be on in high school which affects your plans after graduation. Most schools do not allow you to double up on math courses in high school so you are locked into a certain track due to math. You see chemistry needs some algebra so science aligns with math. If you are in Algebra I in 9th grade you will not be allowed to take chem until 10th grade. If you were put into an easy science class that is not biology in grade 9 you will do biology in grade 10 which means the most rigorous path open to you is chem and physics and that's it. You will lack a more rigorous science.

One way to take a more rigorous science (or English or History or Math) class is by taking an AP class. The College Board who created and owns AP classes recommends that the base course be taken first. That means you would take regular biology then in a different year take AP Bio. AP classes are college content. I am aware that some schools are pushing the envelope by not following what the CB says and are putting students directly into the AP class. This may or may not lead to true learning and success on the AP test. If you have never learned any chem or physics, doing college level while high school aged may set you up for failure. But I am getting off on a tangent.

Basically in America no matter what your ethnic background, your gender, your religion, or your wealth level, you can strive to be what you want to be. You hold more power than you may think. Sometimes you are your own worst enemy getting in the way of success and advancement.

So, what do you want to be when you grow up? If you have sights on a specific trade that requires training at a vocational tech school it's pretty clear cut that after high school graduation you pay to attend that specific school. If you want to get a job that's an option also but most high school grads do not possess much skill so usually the only job you would be hired for is an entry level position which is of low pay and may not have great benefits such as good health insurance or much paid sick and vacation time. You should research the wage those jobs pay and see what lifestyle you wish to lead and if you can afford with those jobs to live how you want.

Most other careers need a college degree. To get to college you need to pick a college prep track in high school. There is a regular college prep track and a rigorous college prep track. These are usually explained in your state's high school graduation minimum requirements. There you will also see the easier track for those not seeking admission to college. You can find these lists using any internet search engine.

If you do not know what you want to do for a career that is okay because to be honest most teens do not have much exposure to explore career fields. Many teens have a vague idea such as liking cats so they think they maybe should become a vet. However they may be scared of dogs and not want to deal with dogs or they may be afraid of blood and so could never do surgery. Vets do surgery! A teen boy I know thought he wanted to be an Air Force pilot but was surprised to hear the military would tell him where his next assignment was, he would have to move around a lot and also live on a military base.

An ideal situation would be for you to meet adults who work in that career field and develop a relationship with them as your mentor. Ideally you could visit the workplace and see what those jobs are like in real life. An internship helping and observing at real jobs would help you understand what the positions are really like. You also need an understanding of the trajectory of the career. You do not graduate college and get a job as a CEO or be offered partnership in a law firm. People usually work at an entry level job and gain experience and knowledge and advance up the ranks doing what they are good at. It can take decades to get to one of the top positions, if ever.

If you don't know what you want to be and you have a vague notion and plan to attend college you would probably seek a bachelor's degree from a liberal arts college. The liberal arts education is the core of many majors. As you take various college classes you would choose to take higher level classes in what you enjoyed and you would decide to not major in what you loathed. Just showing up for class, paying attention in class and actively participating in discussion, doing your homework on time and studying is what you would focus on. Each day you have tasks and each day you do them. Then the next thing you know it's time for midterms then finals then the class is done and over with. One semester leads to another until you are then graduating with your college degree.

The summers in between each year of college are ideal times to do internships. These are often like mini tests. You are testing them out and they are testing you out. If an employer likes you they may invite you back again or offer you a job immediately after graduation. You would know at that point if it's a career you want to work in or not.

If you don't know what you want to do and it requires a college degree just pick a college that you like and can afford, that has a variety of majors to choose from. It would be silly to apply to a niche school if you don't even know what major you plan to do. By the way college students change their majors, I thought three times was the average. It's okay to change majors the only glitch is sometimes you wind up having to add on one or two semesters more of coursework in order to graduate, extending your four year degree to five or more.

Please do not feel lost or broken or hopeless due to not knowing exactly what you want to do for a career. Actually adults change career fields an average of seven times, although the number of often quoted no one has a reference (I looked). The milennials (this generation) are holding jobs for 4.4 years and will have 15-20 different jobs over their lifetime.

If you think about it most people want to have freedom in your life, whether it's during college studies or when in the working world. You want flexibility to stop doing a thing you hate and to do what you love, don't you? So that means you don't have a pre-set plan. Instead you prepare and do a thing and then see how it goes, adapt your plan and set off in a new direction sometimes. As you go down the road you will find paths you can take or choose to not take. That is how life is lived.

Really all high school students need to focus on is eating well, getting enough sleep, doing what it takes to be physically healthy, learning for your own curiosity and doing your mandatory schoolwork for graduation. You should have some hobbies for pure fun that you control and you should do some things with others that you enjoy, whether that's making music, playing a team sport, Scouting or anything else. You should have some friends, one to three who really know your heart and mind and accept you for who you are. That is all a teen really needs to focus on. If you do those things and just focus on getting stuff done one day at a time then days turn into weeks that turn into months then years and life is good.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Stayed Home From FIRST Robotics Regional #1 For Son's Team

This year I did not have to be the driver for my older son to attend the FIRST Robotics regional competition held in Dallas, Texas.

It was held in week one (of six) of the competition which means the robots are brand new and most kinks are not worked out. Teams sometimes do not understand the penalties and nuances of the rules so week one is rough. Sometimes the referees are not even in alignment with how to interpret rules.

I was going to attend Dallas because I want to cheer the whole team on. I wanted to be there if they won the regional or won the Chairman's Award which my son helped with. It's a 200 mile drive and hotels can be found for $100-120, it's not too expensive. I figured I could get away with one night if I really wanted to save money but if I did two nights I could sleep late on Sunday, attend the fine art museum by myself for free, then drive home leisurely in the afternoon.

The competition's venue has $5 a day parking, not bad, and there's a great Thai restaurant five minutes away for lunch or dinner. I could bring my own food in a cooler from home if I wanted and go sit and eat in the peace and quiet of my minivan.

So much has been doing on with the house fixing and remodel and we are not unpacked yet. I got a gut feeling that I should not go. I had trouble a few times trying to get a reservation and wondered if that was God telling me to stay home. I finally asked my son face to face if he wanted me there and he said he didn't need me there but he was fine with me going if I wanted to go for my personal enjoyment. I told him I had a gut feeling to just not go and let him be independent. He said it was fine by him either way.

So I did not go. That meant my husband was off the hook from working from home Friday and being the shuttle service for my son to and from school and to his extra-curricular activity this evening.

The app for the scores is not working and I feel so left out of what is going on. I watched some of the live feed online but the site kept crashing and it is not keeping tally there of the score either. I wanted to know what was going on and was in the dark.

This is his last year as a student on the team. I have been the mandatory driver and in the stands the other three years so you cannot blame me for wanting to be there to cheer on the team in my son's senior year.

Friday, February 27, 2015

High School Course Planning

I'll simplify high school course planning for you.

1. If you want to be a STEM major or remotely think that is possible you will need a special trajectory to your studies. This will go back to grade 6. In grade 6 you should have already shown that you are a solid math student so in grade 7 you are in the upper eschalon who is learning pre-algebra in that year. In grade 8 you should do Algebra I. Your science should be physical science or "Physics First". For grade 9 you should be doing Geometry if doing traditional American scope and sequence, and Biology for science.

The aim of the more rigorous path STEM major would be to do Algebra I & II, Geomtetry, Pre-Calc and Calc I. For science: Biology, Chem, Physics with Algebra at minimum and one advanced science like an AP level of one of the former.

The aim of the less rigorous path STEM major would include Pre-Calc and Bio, Chem & Physics with one other science such as Astronomy or something else done in the grade 9 year.

2. If you are on a rigorous liberal arts path you do a full four years of math, no less, and four years of science, no less. You do three or four years of foreign langugage, not two. English for four years is usually a state minimum requirement. Your history should be a full four classes. Of these levels of classes you would do the level class for some and Honors aka Pre-AP or AP level classes. The more conservative opinion is to do AP in your most favorite content area and be sure to take the test and score a 5 or 4 at the least. To do so you will probably need to do plenty of review and practice test taking on your own at home.

3. If you are on a middle of the road liberal arts path you should do four years of math but three may be acceptable (Algebra I, II and Geometry). You are required by the state usually, to do those four years of English. You really should do four years of science but yours may be Bio and Chem and two easy things (skipping physics). History would be three years minimum if not four.

If you are aiming for best chances given your not-highest-rigor courseload, it's important that you be a good reader and can do reading comprehension tests well. You may need to take extra steps to become a good writer so you can do well on the SAT essay and on college application essays. You need to be careful with your math to do review before the SAT so you score better than middle of the bell curve if possible. You should do SAT prep free at Khan Academy and with self-study with a book. You need to do the practice tests. If your parents have money to burn they can stick you in a $1K prep class but honestly you won't do well unless you really do practice. The same recommendation goes for the ACT. One ACT test tips book I read said scores dramatically increased after 15 practice or real tests were taken. You need to do a ton of practice tests to build stamina for paying attention and staying sharp for the long duration of the test. You need to do so many that you are not nervous about the test taking and so they feel mundane and boring to you so you can buzz through them with ease having no real fear clouding your thinking process.

4. If you are aiming at the start for trade school or community college you can do the minimum graduation requirements for high school. If you are of average intelligence, not on drugs, not drinking a lot, not saddled with medical problems or multiple learning disabilities, the easy classes will be mind-numbing boring to you and you  may go crazy from being around those other students. You may be so bored and frustrated with school, life and your peers that you turn to drugs to add some level of stimulation and excitement into your life. Your health would be better if you took your extra time from barely having any homework to do a sport either at school or within your community (which can expose you to kids from other schools which is a nice change of atmosphere). You cold also get a part-time job but it probably will suck since you have no skills and it will be low paying to boot. You will be working your entire life so it would benefit you more to take a more difficult courseload in high school, work hard for those four years, go to college and actually study and learn for another four then that probably will land you a job to do somethin less mind-numbing that will allow you a happier 50 hour workweek and pay you a higher salary to enjoy your after work hours.

A future blog post will address the topic "I Don't Know What I Want To Be When I Grow Up and How That's Normal".

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Blog's 10 Year Anniversary & This Blog's Future

I don't live to blog. That is why year after year the anniversary goes by without an announcement on the actual big day.

So a couple of weeks ago my blog turned ten!

The page views on Blogger are over 1.9 million. That does not count those reading in a reader program or FeedBlitz email delivered posts.

I have published over 5100 posts.

My interest in blogging waxes and wanes. Mostly it has been waning for a few years.

I am not really sure who is reading and who cares about what. I have quiet blog readers who do not comment much.  Many of my blog posts are found by google keyword searches. My top blog post is how to put patches and where on Cub Scout uniforms. There is a big interest in Badge Magic and also issues with kid's palate expanders. Lyme Disease is a big one, especially my photos of ticks embedded in skin. At holiday times the recipes I shared for traditional Italian foods and desserts see a rise in views. Of homeschooling it seems the most interest is about high school and about parenting teens and when I blog most revealingly from the heart to reveal vulnerabilities I get the most hits. People appreciate my book and product reviews evidenced by the fact that some go on to buy said items via my Amazon Associate link which earns me a small commission. Thank you!

Yesterday younger son (age 14) told me that kids on the sport team have found my blog. I have no clue how as I have not told any of my friends this blog name and only one knows I have a homeschool blog but doesn't know my pseudonym or my blog name. I will be going dark about personal stuff starting today. I don't want my kids to feel violated.

A couple of Connecticut homeschool teens who know me read my blog having found it via google while researching topics. Both boys said they like reading my blog. I figured if they wer ejust laughing at me they would not even have told me they read it. I also know that thanks to a message I wrote on Twitter that was linked to my blog was found by a teen on the robotics team and so the word got out about my blog. I stopped tweeting regularly over a year ago I think it was, and I have set my account to private.

I fully understand that some readers may be reading my blog and laughing. If you think my situation is something laughable then go right ahead. It is most likely that if you are a person who thinks the things I say are stupid or laughable, then anything you write of may be something I think is laughable or pathetic as well.

I am a fast typer (85 wpm) and a fast writer so these posts sometimes take five minutes at most. I can also bang out a book review in under ten minutes of writing. I know some of you have told me it takes you two hours to write three paragraphs talking about what curriculum you use so please just know we do not all compose writing at the same pace!

In between what I do away from the screen I sometimes ask myself why I still blog. I think starting this week I will begin to blog things that I wish people knew that I think they may not know. There have been some interesting discussions on homeschool and college chat groups lately that are fodder for blog posts with me telling my point of view or sharing basic general information that so many seem ignorant about. One thing I did in December was record a few video blogs in which I ranted things I wish my younger son would hear me, I mean really hear. I decided not to publish those. I think I will turn them into written posts and if somebody out there reading these learns something that helps them then it will have been worth my time and energy.

The funny thing about the internet and social networking is it takes a certain amount of courage to publish and communicate online. There are a large number of people out there who daily rely on reading what others write and they depend on it for information or entertainment. They feel the person has made themselves vulnerable in some cases but when said person pulls back from sharing or over-sharing the reader then misses them and wants them to keep communicating. It's an odd thing when one who guards themselves so closely keeps private about their life then they rely on others sharing a lot about their life in order to help them or to entertain them. It's not a two-way street apparently. When the one who writes or posts often decides to pull back a bit they don't like it. We are all allowed privacy so no one should question or be upset when someone who puts themselves out there frequently decides to reduce their communications in order to protect their family's privacy.

We have discussed the issue of how much to share when our kids turn into teens. It's something all mothers who blog have wrangled with.

I want to go on the record to say that if anything I have ever shared has in any way harmed my kids I am sorry, it was never my intention.

Last week I met a long time blog reader of mine who lives half way across the country from me. It was an odd experience but I really enjoyed her company and hope we can see each other again. I shared something with her that I'll tell you now. One thing I have been thinking about is co-authoring nonfiction books on topics that I feel are important for which there is a gap in the market about. Instead of just blogging on certain topics if I could work with the subject matter experts as the writer of the content it might reach a much larger audience for those who need help learning more about those issues. The issues that worry me the most concern either health or learning for children, learning disabilities, learning styles, and such. I already have training and experience with public speaking and any related conference talks on these topics based on my expanded knowledge base that would come from working with the experts and citing the research would qualify me to have another platform to inform others. So that's one thing on my mind in the last couple of months. I have a few other projects in mind that I wanted to do, developing certain curriculum for homeschoolers. We will see how I want to expend my energy.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Conflict Resolution Requirement

I blogged the other day about trying to teach my teens about conflict resolution. As a parent I can try to teach and give advice but it does not always mean I am perfect in my own life. It is not being hypocritical in this case because my current unresolved issue is that it takes two to resolve conflict and when one refuses to deal with it you cannot fix it.

Today's blog post is about the necessary component to conflict resolution is that both people need to want to deal with it and resolve the issue.

Oftentimes a person just decides they do not want to deal with it and they try to just ignore the situation or try to avoid being around that person as if that will make the problem go away. If avoiding contact with the person relieves you of your stress and any residual resentment or anger or whatever your negative emotion is, then that works. However the thing about a problem is that often just avoiding future contact with the person does not fix the core issue. The core problem is your emotion about that past event or multiple events.

In order to get yourself relieved of stress or the burden from the negativity that remains after avoiding the person you have two approaches.

1. Make contact with the person and talk over the issue. Often people want to be heard and they want the other to know the angst the person has caused them. Once this is said then they can let go. In other cases there is some message the person wants to convey to the one they are mad at and once that is said and they are feel they were heard then closure has occurred and they can move on with that negative emotion having been released. In other cases the one who is angry wants to hear an apology or an explanation and once they hear it, then closure occurs and they can move on.

2. Stay to yourself and deal with your residual demon on your own (or with your therapist). The thing about this path is often closure does not occur due to needing to express one's feelings as I listed in #1. You may think this choice will work but over time if you feel  you still harbor negativity it means it is not working.

Yes there are times when we can just walk away and we are happy. We can end a friendship and be happy with our lives without that person in it. We harbor no resentment, we are just happy living our life.

Yet in other cases although we think the way to happiness is to avoid the person and to avoid future conflict the fact is we do have interactions with that person since lives overlap. An example is if we have a conflict with our brother-in-law and we know we will see him on every holiday. Each holiday is potential for a new problem to occur. This can also be the case with a parent of another kid who does the extra-curricular that our kid does, our paths cross. It's also the case on committees and in volunteer work we do in the community and it's an issue in the workplace. So ideally you should try to resolve your old problems to try to clear the path for positive relations in the future.

When we are in situations where we cannot stop seeing the person we no longer want in our lives it sets you up for a bigger problem if you do not take steps to resolve the old issues. Each time you see them you are carrying baggage from the past and then any interaction with the person is pre-loaded with negativity. In this manner people oftentimes take a small thing that is nothing and interpret it as some major offense done with malicious intent when in reality it's all in their imagination.

I think it's ideal to try to resolve any conflict even if it means you are ending a friendship and in your life you can expect to never see them again. Even if it does not go as you had hoped at least you did your part to try to work it out and end the problem.

If you will cross paths on a continual basis it is smartest to resolve the old issue and take steps to try to understand the other person so that you can be mindful of new situations that arise to try to prevent future conflicts. For example if you find that there are continual misunderstandings based on text messages they send you, you can choose to use phone calls or in person talks in the future. In one case I was annoyed that a person kept texting me and did not seem to want to call me or email me, but when I'd text back she would ignore me. Come to find out there was some glitch with her mobile phone service and she never got my messages. She showed me her message stream and there were messages missing, when I showed her my message stream she could see I indeed did answer her in a timely manner. In that case I was annoyed that she was not responding to me and she was annoyed thinking I was not responding to her. We laughed about it and agreed that in the future we would call one another if the other did not reply within a reasonable timeframe.

So the rub in this ideal recommendation to iron out any issues is that it takes both parties to want to do it.

In one case someone was mad at me and we ironed it out then she stopped being a part of the organization so I never saw her again. She apparently decided our friendship was not worth continuing despite our paths having gone in two different directions. I would have liked to continue to have her friendship to be honest.

There is another situation right now where someone is apparently still angry and she refuses to talk about it. The last conversation she said she was over it and moving on but the intentional passive aggressive behavior shows me she still has a problem. She gives me the cold shoulder and does social manipulation exclusionary games that are happening shows that she has not moved on. By taking active steps to try to cause me to have hurt feelings and trying to harm me by trying to get people to take sides she is not just trying to avoid me, she is trying to cause me to be socially isolated and hurt due to feeling excluded. I have too much going on in my life that are real responsibilities to expend my energy worrying about this situation is stupid. She has refused two attempts to talk and resolve conflict, she chooses to keep this negativity alive. I am at a point where I can just continue to ignore the situation and let this go on or I can be the bad guy by forcing a confrontation and pushing the envelope to act like mature adults and talk it over and let it go.

Again the problem is when the other party wants to keep the negativity going, those drama queen types don't really want happiness or stress-free lives. They say they want harmony and no stress and no conflict but they seem to thrive off of it being active in their life. Those who use situations to play power games that give them some kind of positive something in their life do not want the negativity to end. I do not understand those types of people so I cannot begin to understand why they choose to do what they do.

The moral of this blog post is that there are ways to try to resolve conflict that are tried and true but if both people do not want to resolve the conflict then it can and never will end. Sometimes it remains alive within one person when the other chose to just let it go. The person who is harmed by the choice to not resolve the conflict is the one who still feels hurt or angry because their life is negatively impacted by the negative energy they have chosen to keep kindling inside their heart. It does no one good to keep negativity alive, it's not healthy nor is it adding anything positive to anyone's life. Perhaps they do not realize they can have healthy good relationships with others that are not based on cliques or factions or having others mutually aligned to hate against a certain person.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Looking Back: Some Homeschool Thoughts

Last night I was pondering on a couple of things.

I thought about how much I leaned on and appreciated words of wisdom from other homeschoolers when I was in the trenches. I needed person to person support and was grateful for the local friends. Everyone is so opinionated we had our differences in thought and philosophy but there was a mutual respect.

I am happy that I contributed as I did back when I lived in Connecticut. I went to support groups and helped other moms. I was a contact person for new homeschoolers for info and support. I ran a YahooGroup at one point and was a member for a long time. I started a group for Charlotte Mason study which morphed into a homeschool high school support group.

I can't believe I've been living in Texas for 3.5 years as of this month. And that here I have gotten by without a true homeschool network. I wish I had found my tribe for homeschool but I did not. This means my older son is not joining the locals for homeschool prom or homeschool graduation. I am kind of sad about that but what's the point doing a celebration or ceremony with total strangers?

(I have a tribe with the sport team we helped found. So I am not lonely or feeling isolated in general.)

This year is my last year homeschooling, maybe. My older graduates in May. Younger is in private school now. I am starting to wonder what the future holds for him. Part of me wishes he would return to homeschool. I want him to learn quality things, to learn deeply, to follow some interests, to really learn to write well. To do history in chronological order instead of being assigned a debate on a complex topic that was not taught or discussed in school. But he is thriving socially and does not want to leave that school. He knows he will not cooperate with "deliverables" (my new favorite word) with me alone.

It feels good right now to not be needy or worrying with self-doubt which is how the early years of homeschooling felt to me. Yes there was joy and fun but I always worried about doing enough. Also the struggles with food allergy, restricted diets, learning struggles later labeled as various learning disabilities, those things gave me cause for concern and worry.

I'm still very pro-homeschooling. I do see the pros and cons and I do realize the experience can vary greatly due to individual child, the mother's temperament, interest level, education and knowledge base. I realize a father can help or hinder the whole situation. The finances of the family are also key, it can open up opportunities or it can hinder freedom. Geographic area, the culture of a local place, and even the local and state education policy matters greatly. Access to community college or using university classes early matters. What extra-curriculars are avaiable, the rules of this or that sport or academic team are important and can vary from one town to another and of course from one state to another.

I choose to view homeschooling as a success for multiple reasons for both of my kids. Homeschooling is not some utopia, yes my kids have had great expeirences and sub-par ones, they have performed highly sometimes and average or below average other times. They have had ordinary experiences and some extraordinary ones. We have lived with more freedom and been able to travel more as well as spend more time with elderly relatives and expose our sons to a closer knit family life than some kids ever get to experience. We have been able to raise authentic kids who were allowed to be who they are without judgment up to the time when they felt external judgment from peers, mostly hitting in the teen years.

I have stood with confidence in our choices and other times I have curled up in a ball and cried in despair. All in all I am glad we took this journey and I have no regrets. At a certain point our kids have to take responsibility for themselves and own their own education. What happened in the past is over and we are living today, so to what extent my kids choose to apply themselves and play the school game at private high school and at college classes is in their own hands. In some ways I feel like I am letting go of the control earlier than is tradiationally done by Americna parents as I am letting them sink or swim now instead of waiting until high school graduation is over.