Friday, May 31, 2013

Farming Friday- Hungry Bees

Last weekend while at a birthday party the topic of bees came up.
The Viking Homestead has two bee hives on the property. Bees have a normal 3 mile radius that they fly in search of food, pollen and water.
For the most part we don't have problems with many of our neighbors regarding the bees. Many of our neighbors support the bees because they also see the value of the bees. Mother Nature 101- without bees you do not have flowers. Without flowers you do not have seeds. Without seeds you do not have the next generation of plants. Without honey.....
 So, you can imagine the irritations we have when we discover one unsupportive and ignorant neighbor actively killing the bees in their yards by spraying and chopping back their plants. Many of the bug, bee and wasp insecticides don't kill on contact. What they do is make the bee toxic which then flies back to the hive and contaminates the hive. These same insecticide toxins contaminate the wax, honey and future generations of bees. 
These same toxic contamination then contaminate my food source and livelihood!

Then a thought occurred to me while I was listening to this person complain about the bees, in which they are not allergic too. Could this be the reason for the mysterious hive collapses? When a hive dies that creates a shallow gene pool for the bees. Instead of having a robust pool for the Queen Bee to pick from it has become more limited. Thus creating weaker bees that can't defend itself like it used to. 

Before you pick up a can of spray to kill those bees; rethink your options and the consequences. 

The following list of honey have been tested to be NOT honey.

Thank you for my listening to my morning rant.

Viking Mom.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

30 Things to Teach Your Daughter and Son

 30 things to teach your daughter ღ

(Via Old School Parenting on Facebook)

1. How to give a firm handshake.

2. To never wear clothes with something written across the butt.

3. A man will never treat a woman better than he treats his mom. Pay attention to how the guys treat their moms, and run from the ones who aren’t respectful.

4. Look people in the eye when you talk to them.

5. People will judge you by what you say. “I was like, um, totally!” does not qualify as a sentence.

6. People will judge you by what you wear. Show respect for yourself (and see #2).

7. How to change a tire.

8. How to throw a football.

9. Don’t be afraid to use your voice – sometimes it’s the most powerful thing you have.

10. Basic self defense – be able to get out of a situation, and run fast. And use that powerful voice.

11. Teach them how to apologize well, ask for help when needed, and that anger is more harmful to the person who harbors it than to who it’s directed at.

12. What’s in the magazine is Photoshopped. Confidence is more attractive than size 2 jeans.

13. Laughter can diffuse many a challenging situation. Especially when you can laugh at yourself.

14. Block out the voices. Not every opinion is worth listening to – listen to the ones that matter, and learn whose opinion you’ll allow to shape your thoughts.

15. Advertising is full of hidden agendas. Don’t fall for it. “Maybe she’s born with it… maybe it’s Maybelline” – really? Maybelline didn’t make her anything she wasn’t born with.

16. How to hit a baseball, throw a punch, and use a compass.

17. How to write a proper thank you letter, and how to type.

18. How to manage her money.

19. Appreciate the little things (and little refers to more than diamonds and pearls).

20. Read often and much. Read works of classic and contemporary literature, fiction and nonfiction.

21. Walk in someone else’s shoes.

22. Listen well, both for what’s being said, and for what’s being omitted.

23. Dream big, and set realistic goals. You can accomplish more than you think you can.

24. Girls can do most things as well as boys can, in general. But know your personal limits, what your own strengths and weaknesses are. Once you know them you can use them to your advantage.

25. Most things worth having or worth doing require sacrifice. Know what you’re willing to sacrifice, and for what.

26. No regrets. Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on what could have been.

27. Just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Push the limits.

28. Basic sewing skills.

29. How to handle herself online – using good privacy, remembering that anything shared can go viral (including pictures in poor taste), and knowing that people online aren’t always who they say they are.

30. Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Listen to that voice, and don’t silence it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why We Left Public School- The Importance of Sleep and Breathing

The Viking Dad and I have made the difficult decision to take the Viking Kiddos out of Public School and send them to a Waldorf School. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the new curriculum entering the California schools called Common Core Curriculum. You can read about it here. When I sat in the Staff Meeting in which we learned about the new English Language Arts material and reading list I asked, "When do the Children get to breath?" 

We all breath. Every living being on this planet has a form of breathing. However, do we really let our children breath? 

In this day of hectic schedules, homework, athletics, extra curricular activities, and family life our children have little time to breath and sleep. Why is that so important? Don't they just need 8 hours of sleep?

The Waldorf education model is the ONLY educational method that uses a combination of both rhythm of  teaching in conjunction with sleep in order to aid learning! Yes, sleep is actually encouraged. 

Why is sleep and breathing so important? 

1. It is a known fact that the ability of the child to perform intellectual works in the grades is dependent upon the development of the well developed lower senses. The only time the body has physical growth is during SLEEP! Sleep deprivation affects everything a child or a person does in their daily life. There is a connection between sleep deprivation in disorders like ADHD, and lowered immune functions. This is well documented and researched concept. 

2. A young child is unified in body, soul and spirit and all sense impressions go right into the child without any ability on the part of the child to censor these impressions. These impressions form the physical body and sleep is the way these impressions build up the physical body.

3. Rhythm is what supports the foundation of sleep and the lack of sleep puts a lot of stress on the body, especially on the liver. The lack of rhythm also places stress on the heart and the adrenal glands. There is more information coming out about Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and Insufficient Adrenal Gland Syndrome that is connected to the lack of rhythm in our life. As a person fights to stay awake due to sleep deprivation  the adrenal glands kick in and produce high levels of cortisone and adrenaline hormones. These hormones at a high level put stress on the liver. These high levels of hormones also effect blood pressure, breath and heart rate. This is why schools and doctors see a rise in childhood illnesses at the school age. 

4. The need for naps! In the Waldorf Schools it is believed that children 3-6 years old still need 30 minutes naps. It is encouraged that if the child doesn't nap then bedtime should be 7 pm! 

“In consideration of healthy physical development, one cannot stress enough the need for long periods of rest and sleep for young children.  In fact, due to the increasing pace of life, more sleep is needed now than ever before to offset the physiologic strain on the young body.”  -“Toward Human Development:  The Physiological Basis of Sleep” by Lisa Gromicko, available through the Waldorf Early Childhood office.
Breathing and Sleeping go together in the rhythm of a Waldorf School. However, breathing isn't some kind of random exercise. Breathing consists of activities through out the day that lets the child rest. These activities or rhythms through out the day can consist of painting, play, drawing, baking bread, music, gardening, eurythmy and more. 
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education, wanted Waldorf Educators to take the following to heart: "Among all the ways in which human beings related to the external world, breathing is the most important." But,  "the child can not yet breath properly inwardly and education has to consist of teaching the child to breath properly."
The connection between the spirit and the soul of the body depends on proper breathing. When a teacher brings rhythm in the day which alternates between free play and guided activities children learn to breath. A seamlessly rhythmically structured day, connected with homely rhythmically activities, rhythmical language and rhythmical singing provides a foundation for development of the body and provides a healthy environment for the student. 
As a parent and a teacher I became increasingly more frustrated over the school year when I heard from Viking Monkey Boy's and Viking Lady Bug's  teachers state, "We don't have time...." or "I don't have time for that...."  At one point I wanted to shout, "Make the time!"  Then I sat back and observed Viking Monkey Boy's class. I couldn't believe how much information was crammed into a very busy 55 minute period with little or no break for the students. All the work was done in their desks. Students were rarely allowed to get up from their desk to move. It was not uncommon for the teacher or the aide to remind the students to focus, be quiet, focus etc.  What little break time they did have consisted of a 15 minute snack recesses and a 30 minutes lunch and recess combination. Viking Monkey Boy started his day at 8:55 am and ended at 3:00 pm. That is a long time in school with little breaks.  Viking Lady Bug's day was similar but with less time. Her day ended by 1:45 pm with only a 30 minute lunch/recess combination.
 I was very disturbed and filled with anxiety when Viking Lady Bug would come home from school exhausted, in a foul mood, and would have these awful tearful meltdowns. I wasn't much better because I so wanted to protect her. After one particular melt down she fell asleep in my arms. I remember looking at the clock and seeing that it was only 4:15 pm. It became very clear to me the need for sleep and breathing! 
"But Viking Mom- what about after school?"  This questions came to me after a discussion about homework. It is well known that I am anti-homework. I don't even assign homework, which many of my students love! I am saving this topic for another post.  
Yes, what about after school? In our family rhythm this is the time between the end of school and dinner when the Viking Kiddos can decompress from the day. We have started Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts in addition with Baseball. The rhythm of our home is that bedtime is 8:00 pm. Which means after the afternoon activities, it is dinner, bath and then bedtime. No room for homework. I have also observed that the Viking Kiddos sleep better without the stress of home work. 
I understand, but don't agree, with the schools focus on academics and meeting the standards for the end of the year Standardized Testing. Why is there such race to non- existing finishing line? Learning is life long!

Bless Bless
Viking Mom


 “The Importance of Sleep” by Susan Johnson, a MD with an anthroposophic perspective

There is a beautiful website called Why Waldorf Works that I have often used as a quick reference to parents who are interested in Waldorf Education. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why we left Public School. Not an easy decision

We all breath. We all have to breath to live. All living creature on this planet has some form breathing.

In some form or another we all sleep. In some form or another all living creatures have to rest or sleep. 

Now, the question is to all of us busy humans. Do we really breath and sleep properly?

This week I had to inform the Principle of the Viking Kiddos school why we were leaving to go to the Waldorf School. Before I sat down to write down in an email to the Principle why we made this difficult decision to leave Public School I thought I  would practice and work out a non- Anthroposphical explanation.

Here are the topics I have currently brainstormed.

1. The Common Core Curriculum
2. The Importance of Breathing and Sleeping
3. Understanding a Child's Temperament
4. Age Appropriate Standards and Development Stages of a Child
5. The Race to Nowhere vs a Life Long Learner
6. Education vs Social Engineering (Let the Kids be Kids)
7. Respect for religious and spiritual values. 
8. High Tech vs Low Tech

I hope to address each of these topics in up coming post. I hope to explain why we made this difficult decision to leave Public School. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are Attachment Parents Helicopter Parents?

This last weekend I participated in delightful and fun workshop about teaching science. I was expecting the typical curriculum and procedure approach, even for a Waldorf school. I was greatly surprised that the focus of the workshop was how to develop our senses. The goal was "getting back to our senses and how use them." This is what Leonardo Da Vinci and Rudolf Steiner used when conducting experiments in the natural sciences. They eliminated their pre-conceived concepts and opened their mind.  What a novel concept!!

During our breaks the topic among the teachers present turned towards the Common Core Curriculum and how our Guest Speaker's approach was such a stark difference to the Common Core Curriculum. 
The teachers from the various Charter schools were lamenting on how they were struggling with maintaining their identity and being forced to implement the Common Core Curriculum. WOW! As it turns out any school that receives federal or state funding must implement the Common Core Curriculum and the State Standards. 

In my previous post about Common Core Curriculum I encouraged parents to stand up and be the advocates for their children. I once again raised the rallying cry for parents to become their child's advocate and not be afraid of being called a "Helicopter Parent". So, you can imagine my surprise and dismay when I heard a Charter School teacher complained that she didn't need any "Helicopter Parents" telling her what to teach. REEEALY??

Then I started to think. What is a Helicopter Parent and why are they associated with Attachment Parenting?
I have been accused many many times of being a Helicopter Parent which I actually wear with great pride. Who else is going to advocate for my children? Who else is going to make sure my children are safe and taken care of in this world? 

I learned about Attachment Parenting from two of my parent friends and from Mayim Bialik interview on the subject. Who is Mayim Bialik? For one generation of television watchers she is Blossom. For another generation she is the long suffering girlfriend of Sheldon's on Big Bang Theory. She also wrote a powerful book on Attachment Parenting called Beyond the Sling which can be viewed here.

Originally, I ran from the label "Attachment Parenting" because I thought a good attached Mommy held their child until they were 3 or 4. Due to medical reasons I couldn't carry my two Viking Kiddos past 18 months. I am also a working Mom- which continues to be on going source of guilt. So, naturally I thought I failed in this category. 

Then I read Mayim's book and The Attachment Parenting International.

Here is what I learned.....
Purple is API rules on Attachment Parenting Green are Viking Mom's responses.

1. Prepare for the Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting. Parents need to become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth.  (Check! I lost count how many books I read. I was so thrilled to be having a children. I researched the many birthing techniques for Mother's with spinal injuries, alternative birthing, breastfeeding, passing on Celiac Disease to the next generation, spinal injuries and parenthood. The list is huge!)

2. Feed with Love and Respect. Breastfeeding is the ptimal way to satisfy an infant's nutritional and emotional needs. Follow the cues of both the infant and child and encourage them to eat when hungry and not by some dogmatic schedule. (Check-Breastfed both Viking Kiddos! Hooraayy!! Breastfeeding skin-to-skin was the most awesome bonding moments. In the Waldorf community Rudolf Steiner encouraged breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is an extension of the Mother's loving will towards her child.)

3. Respond with Sensitivity. How many of you cringe at the Screamer Parent? I made it a goal to myself not to be one of those parents. By not screaming a parent builds the foundation of trust  and empathy beginning in infancy. Parents who tune into what the child is communicating, then respond consistently and appropriately build that trust. Babies can't sooth themselves and really need that sensitivity to be calmed. (Check-We taught the Viking Kiddos very early on sign language. I can't tell you how many melt downs we avoided just by the simple signs of "hungry," "tired," and "snuggles." Instinctively I tuned into the Viking Kiddos body language. We avoided terrible store melt downs by recognizing the tired look and changed our plans.)

4. Use Nurturing Touch. Touch meets a baby's need for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective such as breastfeeding, bathing, or massage. This is where we see many Attachment Parents "wear" their child because this also meets the nurturing touch. Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massages, and physical play also meets this need. (Check: Due to a severe back injury carrying the Viking Kiddos became difficult after a certain age. This is one reason I avoided the term Attachment Parenting. I couldn't "wear" my children for a long period of time. However, I modified certain techniques so the Viking Kiddos could crawl up into my arms. They have learned to wait for me to sit down before they can crawl into my lap. Our poor couch is rather worn from the many "puppy piles" that occur on the couch. Viking Monkey Boy loves his back massaged and gently rubbed. Viking Lady Bug and I have "Mommy Moments" where she enjoys her hair being brushed and putting on essential oils. When I first read Mayim's book I was taken aback at her negative approach to Mom's using strollers et al. However, when I read that giving a nurturing touch goes further then just wearing my child I felt more assured I was doing the right thing. I was able to breastfeed the Viking Kiddos skin-to-skin which was awesome! Now, that the Viking Kiddos are older the need for play is so important especially at the end of the day. I think it goes beyond the physical play. Viking Dad and I travel with treasured Loveys which have Grand Adventures during the day with us. At the end of the day we tell stories about the Lovey's adventure. I am no longer afraid of the term Attachment Parenting because we are attached in other ways.)

5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally. Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day. They do need to feel safe, secure and comforted. Children rely on their parents to comfort them and help understand their intense emotions. It has been proven that "Sleep Training" actually increases anxieties and night fears. Safe co-sleeping has benefits for both babies and parents. (Check: We call these moments "Puppy Piles." We didn't do a co-sleeping situations due to both parental health but the Viking Kiddos slept in the same room as we did. It still is not uncommon to wake up in the morning with Viking Lady Bug elbow in my ear or Viking Monkey Bugs knees in my butt because they have come in during the night to snuggle with us. The Viking Kiddos enjoy sleeping in the same room together.)

6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care. Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, and responsive caregiver. Usually, this means a parent, however, if an alternative caregiver is needed chose wisely. (Check: To be honest this is where I thought I failed as a parent and as an Attached Parent. It is one of my greatest source of guilt and anger that I have to work. I am blessed that I did find an outstanding day care that shared my bond with my children. In the years the Viking Kiddos went to their Playschool I never felt they were being warehoused or ignored. The Director believed in hugs, which is rare in this industry. Children who needed a pat down for nap are given this extra tender care. Many times I observed one of the Caregivers holding a child or allowing a child onto their lap. Many times these Caregivers were soothing or comforting a scared or upset child.To this day the Viking Kiddos are still in contact with their favorite teachers. The Director is even on their school's Emergency Card. This is an area of anxiety and self doubt for many working Moms and Dads who have to work duel jobs but still want to provide consistent and loving care. We do want to provide the best for our children but we also have to work for financial reasons. I think many confuse that "Working Career Mom" with those who dream of being a "Stay at Home Mom.")

7. Practice Positive Discipline. Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Discipline that is empathetic, loving and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. (Check: I don't know what else to say but, "DUH!" I am sure we have seen and experienced those parents that are snarky, negative and snappy towards their children.)

8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life. It is easier to be emotionally responsive when you feel balance. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don't be afraid to say, "no". Recognize individual needs within the school and meet them to the greatest extent possible with compromising your physical and emotional health. Be creative, have fun with parenting and take time to care for yourself. (Check: I think this is where parents are accused of being "Helicopter Parents." We put our family and children as a priority and balance this out with our personal and family life. I remember explaining to a former Principle when she asked how I liked parenthood. I responded, "I feel complete."  I have a fused spine from a spinal injury and additonal complications. To be there for my children and family I have learned to pace myself. I will do anything to be there in the future for my children.)

Are there real Helicopter Parents? The ones where they literally smother their child and enabled the child's future progress. The ones who come in a demand to know why the teacher gave their child a "F". Ignoring the fact that the child didn't do their work or never attended the class physically or mentally. Yes, these parents do exists. I have had to deal with them as a teacher. I don't call these parents Helicopter Parents- I have another name.

Being a good parent whether its called Attachment Parenting or Hands-On  is not being a Helicopter Parent. 

In an article written in Psychology Today it was reported that parents are soundly criticized by the media, by teachers and by "experts" and called these scary terms- "Helicopter Parents," "Going to ruin your children and send them to therapy."  

"Viking Mom, Don't you think you are being a Helicopter Parent?" 

Attachment Parenting has been loudly criticized for smothering and ruining children.  I heard one Public School Psychologist exclaim, "Attachment Parenting only leads to clingy, scared and smothered children who will need therapy to work out their Mother issues."   REEEEALLLLLY!??
In this same article in Psychology Today several hundred families and children ranging from 18-49 were interviewed by a Dr. Fingerman. She found through these extensive interviews that children whose parents provided them with intense support experienced better outcomes, higher life satisfaction and more clearly defined goals.  Finish reading the article here.

In summary- are Attachment Parents Helicopter Parents? 

Once again, I am going to declare...... Time to shrugged off the fear of being called a Helicopter Parent and become the best advocate in the world for your child! 
Embrace being an Attached Parent. Embrace being a Helicopter Parent.....It means you are an awesome parent!!

I am proud to be a granola crunching, barefoot, hippy-dippy, Attached Parent- Helicopter Parent......And you can accept my Type A Personality!  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Random Act of Kindness- Gratitude

Random Act of Kindness- How to Stay Kind in the Face of Rejection.

Believe it or not even this Viking Mom struggles with rejection. Today, I attempted a Random Act of Kindness towards a co-worker. You can imagine my surprise when she rejected the motion and proceeded to go on temper tantrum level tirade. 

What to do? 

I started to search my favorite sites to answer this question. 
How does one respond to a rejected act of kindness? Especially, when we as parents are trying to model positive behaviors to our children?

I know it is tough to smile and carry on. Isn't that a song? But, a harsh word is like squeezing all the toothpaste out of the tube and then trying to figure out how to put it back into the tube. 

At there are free Random Acts of Kindness cards called Smile Cards. In moments like today the author of the site recommends to pass on these cards. I think small tokens of kindness show people that we still care despite the negatively. 

Carry On!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Common Core Curriculum-It's coming to a state near you.

Today I sat in another long long very long looooooooooooooong staff meeting. The reason this meeting was so very loooooooooooong is that our English Site Counsel Representative shared with us the new state Common Core Curriculum. Now, at first glance it sounds real official and one expects that this curriculum comes from either State or Federal Departments of Education. That was my first mistake. No, it does not. It is being promoted by the very school publishers that many school districts receive their books from, like Scholastics. It is supported by the Department of Education. 

Check out these Youtube Videos. These are the ones we watched in our meeting. 


Now for my gentle readers I have been teaching for over 20 years with Parental Units who were teachers. I have seen and experienced A LOT!  We were told that this new curriculum was going to provide a "more accurate snapshot of what the students are able to do." This new curriculum is also suppose to help students become more "critical thinkers" by reducing the fiction in the curriculum and add more non-fiction or "informational texts" for the students to read. Students by their 12th Grade year would be reading about 70 percent nonfiction. English teachers will be asked to teach "Author's Intention" by using some fiction books and we have about 60 books to choose from to teach this "Author's Intention." I did get to read one of the new curriculum books for this "critical thinking." Yikes!

The plan or the idea behind the National Governors Association Center for Bests Practices, which is not related to any state governors board, and the Council of Chief State School Officers- who are primarily supported by text book publishers- is to prepare students for college or careers. These two groups state that students have suffered from years of "easy reading and poor teacher training in synthesizing more complex reading materials."  States that accept Common Core Curriculum received waivers from the "No Child Left Behind" and other financial gains. 

The standards are said to be:
Aligned with college and work expectations;
Clear, understandable and consistent;
Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
Are evidence-based.

These new guidelines will replace great literature like The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and replace it with informational text like, The Environmental Protection Agency's Recommended Levels of Insulation and California Invasive Plant Councils's Invasive Plant Inventory.  I saw the book these were in and basically they are two-three pages long with several pictures. 
Want to learn more read Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects here.  Another substitution for the short stories and favorite literature units are essays by Malcolm Gladweel from his social behavior book, The Tipping Point. Why on Earth would you have students read this stuff!?

While I was at one of my school sites I over heard the Department Chair of the schools English Department pushing the need for this Common Core Curriculum. She believed that if the current 9th graders, who were failing English, didn't attend this coarse next year they were going to fail high school.  So, basically 10th graders next year could possibly be taking 2 English classes and 2 math courses to meet the state graduation requirements. When do they get to breath?

 The California Department of Education adopted this new curriculum for all the schools in the states in 2012, with the belief that because 45 other states have adopted the curriculum since 2010, that it was also going to be good for California. Check out there site here.

Now, today I got a chance to see the new material and curriculum. In our district we are to implement the English Language Arts by 2014, and Math, Science, and Social Studies by 2015. 

Let me share my observation:

1. The English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum and materials looked very similar to the current materials we are using in the classroom. My co-worker and I both went to our humble little office cubbies and found the same type books but with different covers. REEEEEALLLY!  What happened to the Language! program that was heralded as the fix- all for poor readers? Each district spent thousands of dollars on this program. Oh.. they are gathering dust in someone's closet unused. 

2. It worries me that fiction literature from author's like John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Ray Bradbury, Truman Copte, Ernest Hemingway, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Booker T. Washington etc etc etc..... will not be used anymore because teachers in both the Social Science and English Language Arts will be spending their precious time on "information text" instead. 

3. All Standard Testing for Common Core Curriculum will be computerized. Yes, there it is again... The good old Savior of mankind... the computer. School districts have been promised, again, that their infrastructure will be kept updated so that schools can have their students' access the Standard Testing online. Let me share with you a story. The FITT Computer That Could that I use for my classes is over seven years old. Many teachers in the district were promised that these FITT computers would be maintained and kept current. Many teachers were also promised that these FITT computers would be connected to fancy interactive white boards so they could do fancy instructions. This promise has not been kept. In fact the department that was created to maintain these computers was eliminated last year. REEEEALLY! And we are suppose to jump for joy at this promise??

4. Common Core Curriculum  reduces the expectations of our students and children by making math and reading simpler by giving the simple "informational text" instead of reading the classics. Even the Shakespeare literature have been reduced to 2-3 pages. Common Core Curriculum are also reducing the expectations of the teachers to better themselves. Common Core Curriculum hands over a script to less experience teacher while us "old timers" are encouraged to "shut up" or "retire." 

Now, for many of you who are reading this the first thing you are going to expect is that I am Conservative etc etc..... These comments are based on hands on personal experience. I have seen a signficant change in our education in America. It seems to me that I have been in the front row seat of this change. 

I would like to remind everyone who reads this........

We are the ONLY Nation in the world who educates EVERYONE! It doesn't matter what your social economic educational background is- every American or Visitor receives an education in America. 

We are the only Nation that has the Americans with Disabilities Law (ADA) and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These laws allow students with disabilities to a FREE AND APPROPRIATE EDUCATION (FAPE). 

Our testing scores are compared with countries who divide their students around the 8th grade between Apprenticeship/Job Training and College bound. American students are being compared to Europe's and Japan's Elite. 

My suggestion as a parent is to stand up and fight for your student's/child's future. Ignore the complaints of being a "helicopter parent" and be part of your child's future. We have taken a stand. 

Take a stand.....

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to Show Gratitude Part 2

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Mathew  6:21

"Viking Mom, how do you teach gratitude?"

That is a very good question. How do we teach gratitude in a society full of self centered, materialistic, rude, and disrespectful people? 
To be honest, this is something I struggle with as well. My current struggle is showing gratitude, respect and appreciation to people who are  frakkin-shtako boneheads. How does one sore with the eagles in an atmosphere full of turkeys?  

What makes me aware of my own actions are my children. Our children learn directly from us and they imitate what they see from us. Our children are the most powerful mirrors into our souls. Waldorf in the Home discusses this very clearly in their blog here

Showing gratitude can enhance ones life. It can become a habit before you hardly notice it happening. Gratitude can be something small, like a beautiful butterfly or something large like a rainbow. 

There is a saying, "Stop and smell the roses." 
I used to think this meant to stop and slow down. I think it also means we need to stop and show gratitude to that lovely rose.

Now, research has been showing that adults who show gratitude have fewer health problems, more energy, an a greater feeling of well being than those who complain and are bitter and angry. We all know those people who are just exude those negative vibes.   

Children who express gratitude are shown to be kinder, more appreciative, more empathetic, happier and more enthusiastic. Grateful children understand that other people have needs, are different, and tend to look outside themselves. These same children are more polite, usually better behaved and generally are more pleasant to be around.

Steps to teach gratitude:

1. We need to model gratitude ourselves:  We must model gratitude to our children so they can imitate gratitude towards others.  Write a "Thank You" card, say, "Thank You" to someone.

2. Say “No”. It is important for us to be reasonable and say “No”. We also have to be careful rewarding our children for everything. We want them to do good because it is the right thing to do, and not because they get something, like a new toy or money.

3. Give your children responsibility. We are always more grateful for things when we have to do them ourselves. The same applies to children. Give them appropriate responsibilities.

4. Teach your children to be grateful for adversity. When things are hard, or uncertain, or don’t go as planned, we need to teach our children to be grateful. To recognize the blessings that comes from hard things.

5. Point out the simple things. Teach children to be grateful for the creations around them, the seasons, the sunshine, the falling leaves and the rain. Children will quickly understand that there is beauty all around, and that it has come from something much bigger than we are. Celebrate creations. Jump in the leaves, splash in the puddles, and feel the sun on our skin.

Challenge for you: Take a moment of your day and show gratitude. 

Gratitude: feeling or expression of thankfullness

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Random Act of Kindness:What is Gratitude? Part 1

"Viking Mom, what is gratitude?"

This is a good questions. This word, "gratitude" came up recently during my fundraiser. After observing people's attempts at gratitude I came to realize that people were confusing "Thankfulness, Gratefulness and Gratitude." They all have similar qualities but are three very different actions. 

How does a parent show gratitude in front of their children?

I decided this topic needed to be explored especially in this world that has become increasingly, materialistic, rude, self- centered and disrespectful. 

Lets put on our English teacher hats on and define the words.
I am using for my definitions. 



feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
before 900; Middle English; Old English thancful.  See thank-ful

beholden, obliged.




[grat-i-tood, -tyood] 

the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful: 
He expressed his gratitude to everyone on the staff.
1400–50; late Middle English  < Medieval Latin grātitūdin-  (stem ofgrātitūdō thankfulness, equivalent to grāt us pleasing + -i- -i- + -tūdin- -tude

o·ver·grat·i·tude, noun
un·grat·i·tude, noun

thanks, thankfulness, appreciation, gratefulness.




warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received;thankful: 
I am grateful to you for your help.
expressing or actuated by gratitude: a grateful letter.
pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome;refreshing: a grateful breeze.

Interesting that "gratefulness" and "thankfulness" are adjectives while "gratitude" is a noun. In the English language the adjectives give a description to the noun of the word. It is not the verb which shows action in the sentence. Gratitude, on the other hand, is a noun. In the English language the noun is the subject of the sentence. All elementary children sing the song, "A Noun: A Person, Place, Thing, or Idea." 

Showing gratitude is an idea. We show gratitude by conducting an "act" of thankfulness and gratefulness. 

To apply this definition to the actions of a few at the Fundraiser. 

Allowing unattended children to run freely in a portion of the garden after being asked not to do this act despite the requests of the Hosts (who had donated the $800 space)-- no it doesn't show gratitude. 

Giving a card and flowers in thankfulness and gratefulness to the sponsors and hosts---according to the definitions listed above, yes. 

I think our society needs to learn what real gratitude is and then model and imitate it for our children. I think it is often confused with "thankfulness" and "gratefulness."

More to follow.....

Viking Mom